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and also to doo what he wolde, wythout he shold be blamed yf he wold be wyse.
The foxe and his frendis wente so longe to gydre that they camen to his burgh to Maleperduys; ther they alle toke leue, eche of other, wyth fayr and courtoys wordes. Reynard dyde to them grete reuerence, and thanked them alle frendly, of theyr good fayth, and also worship, that they had don and shewd to hym, and profred to eche of them his seruyse yf they had nede, wyth body and goodes. And herwyth they departed, and eche of them wente to theyr owne howses.
The foxe wente to dame Ermelyn his wyf, whiche welcomed hym frendly: he tolde to her and to his chyldren, alle the wonder that to hym was befallen in the court; and forgote not a worde, but tolde to them euery dele, how he had escaped. Thenne were they glad that theyr fader was so enhaunsed and grete wyth the kynge. And the foxe lyued forthon wyth his wyf and chyldren in grete joye and gladnes.
Now, who that said to yow of the foxe, more or lesse, than ye haue herd or red, I holde it for lesynge. But this that ye haue herd or red, that may ye beleue wel ; and who that byleueth it not, is not therfore out of the right beleue. How be it, ther be many, yf that they had seen it, they shold haue the lesse doubte of it. For ther ben many thinges in the world whiche ben byleued though they were neuer seen; also ther ben many fygures, playes founden, that neuer were don ne happed, but for an example to the peple, that they may therby the better vse and folowe vertue, and teschewe
synne and vyces. In lyke wyse may it be by this booke : that who that wyl rede this mater, though it be of iapes and bourdes, yet he may fynde therin many a good wysedom, and lernynges; by whiche he may come to vertue and worship. Ther is no good man blamed herin; hit is spoken generally. Late euery man take his owne part as it belongeth and behoveth, and he that fyndeth hym gylty in ony dele or part therof, late hym bettre and amende hym. And he that is good, veryly I pray God kepe hym therin. And yf ony thyng be said or wreton herin, that may greue or dysplease ony man; blame not me; but the foxe. For they be his wordes and not myne.
Prayeng alle them that shal see this lytyl treatis, to correcte and amende, where they shal fynde faute; for I haue not added ne mynusshed, but haue folowed as nyghe as I can, my copye, whiche was in dutche, and by me William Caxton translated in to this rude and symple Englyssh, in thabbey of Westmestre. Fynysshed the vj daye of juyn the yere of our lord M.cccc.LXXXJ and the xxj yere of the regne of kynge Edward the iiijth.
HERE ENDETH THE HISTORYE OF
REYNARD THE FOXE.
P. 2, Open Court.—This open court, the “Cour Plénière of the French, is very characteristically summoned at Whitsuntide; such assemblings of the feudatory nobles at the court of their sovereign during the middle ages, being customarily held upon the three great festivals of the Church.-See Ducange, s. v. Curia.
P.3, Bespattered.—The words in the Dutch prose are “end daer beseykede bi mijn kinderen daer si laghen,” &c.
Ibid. Holy Sayntes.- In the original “die heeligen" by which is meant, not “the book with the Sayntes” which Caxton introduces a few lines after, and of which no mention is made in the Dutch prose, but the relics of saints, a form of adjuration which was anciently of frequent occurrence, and regarded as of the most solemn and binding nature. The reader will call to mind the circumstance of William having concealed the “holy sayntes” beneath the altar at which Harold swore fidelity to him, see Lappenberg, i. 527. That, in this case, relics are alluded to, is shown by the following verses from the Reinardus.
"Aut ut præjures pignora sacra super,"—lib. iv. 486. and
“Quis mihi reliquias afferet? æqua velim."—iv. 508." See further upon this point Grimm's Deutsche RechtsAltherthümer, s. 896.
P. 5, Grymbart the Dasse.—The dassc is the badger, from
the Dutch Das, and German Dachs. In the English edition of 1650, &c. he is called “the Brock.”
Ibid. Myn Eme.—Though Grimbart here calls Reynart his ‘ Eme' or uncle, the word which we have from the AngloSaxon Eam, and is the same with the Gerinan Oheim, Low German Om, and Frisian Em, originally signified the mother's brother ( avunculus), but afterwards was applied in the sense of father's brother (patruus), and eventually became a complimentary epithet, bestowed without regard to the relationship of the parties.
P. 6, The grate or bones.-Grate is the Flemish Graet, German Grate, a fish bone. The fish Thornback is called by the Dutch Griet, from its spinous appendages.
Ibid. By cause of his wife.— The passage which follows is thus given in the Dutch prose: “Mijn oeme heft se germint, Iae dat is wel seveniaer gheleden eer dat hy se trouwede. Of dan Reynaert daer doer minne en houescheit sinen wille did. Wat wast dan. Si was daer schier of genesen.”
P.7, The Menowr.–A thief is said to be taken with the Mainour, when he is taken with the thing stolen upon him in manu. And Blackstone furnishes an illustration of the accuracy with which the Badger lays down the law, when he adds (book iv. c. 23), that “ by the Danish law he might be taken and hanged upon the spot, without accusation or trial.”
P.7, What skathed it him.- What harmed it him ; from the Anglo Saxon scethan, to injure, hurt, &c.
Ibid. Bylded a cluse.— A cluse is a cell, from the Latin clusa, see Ducange; and in the next chapter (p. 9) we hear that Reynard was a cloysterer, or closyd recluse, becomen.”
P.9, Slavyne and pylche.—The “slavyne” is the robe worn by pilgrims, see Ducange, s. v. Sclavina, who says, quoting, ex Chronico Andiensi; Pedes incedens in habitu peregrini qui vulgo dicitur Sclavina.
The pylche, from the Anglo-Saxon pylca, is a garment of skin, with the hair, or fur garment. The term “pilch” is still retained in our nurseries for a flannel wrapper.
Ibid. Forthon.-Indeed; from the Anglo-Saxon furthon.
P. 10, Sexte, None, and Evensong.— Three of the seven canonical hours of the Romish Church, to each of which proper services were assigned.
Ibid. Bytake.-Commend ; from the Anglo-Saxon, betæcan.
Ibid. Forslongen.-Swallowed up, devoured. From the Dutch Verslinden, German Verschlingen, to devour. Thus in Luther's German Bible, 2 Sam. xx. 19, “ Warum willst du das Erbtheil des Herrn verschlingen." Why wilt thou swallow
up the inheritance of the Lord ?” Ibid. Abye.—Make amends for, atone, so in Piers Plough
The commune for theyr unkyndenes,
I drede me, shul abye."—. 5336-7. ed. Wright. P. 10, We will give to her the dethes rights.-It was not unreasonable to hope that this passage would have furnished some illustration of Shakspere's Virgin crants,' an expression which has excited so much comment. In the metrical Dutch version, we have the very words of Caxton,
Daer willen wy eens doden recht me plegen.”
P. 11, Placebo.-At the service of the dead, after the verse Requiem æternam, fc. Placebo Domino in regione vivorum
Ibid. When this Vigilie was done and the commendacion.
The office for the dead in the Romish Church was sometimes so designated, see Ducange in v. Vigilia.
Commendatio, prayers or office for the dead, so entitled, says Ducange (1. v.) quoting the statutes of the order of Sempringham,“ quia in co fit commendatio animæ defuncti a sacerdote."