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Litel Lowis my sone, I have perceived wel by certeyne evidences thyn abilite to lerne sciencez touchinge noumbres and proporciouns; and as wel considere I thy bisy preyere in special to lerne the Tretis of the Astrolabie. Than, for as mechel 10 as a philosofre seith, "he wrappeth him in his frend, that condescendeth to the rightful preyers of his frend," therfor have I yeven11 thee a suffisaunt Astrolabie as for oure orizonte,12 compowned 13 after the latitude of Oxenford; upon which, by mediacion 14 of this litel tretis, I purpose to teche thee a certein nombre of conclusions 15 apertening 16 to the same instrument. I seye a certein of conclusiouns, for three causes. The furste cause is this: truste wel that alle the conclusiouns that han 17 ben founde, or elles 18 possibly mighten be founde in so noble an instrument as an Astrolabie, ben unknowe perfitly to any mortal man in this regioun, as I suppose. Another cause is this: that sothly,19 in any tretis of the Astrolabie that I have seyn,20 there ben 3 some conclusions that wole 21 nat in alle thinges performen hir 22 bihestes; 23 and some of hem ben 3 to 24




harde to thy tendre age of ten yeer to conseyve. This tretis, divided in fyve parties? wole I shewe thee under ful lighterewles and naked wordes in English; for Latin ne canstowyit but smal, my lyte sone. But natheles, suffyse to thee thise trewe conclusiouns in English, as wel as suffyseth to thise noble clerkes Grekes thise same conclusiouns in Greek, and to Arabiens in Arabik, and to Jewes in Ebrew, and to the Latin folk in Latin; whiche Latin folk han hem 10 furst out of othre diverse langages, and writen in hir owne tonge, that is to sein,12 in Latin. And God wot,13 that in alle thise langages, and in many mo,14 han thise conclusiouns ben 15 suffisantly lerned and taught, and yit by diverse rewles, right as diverse pathes leden diverse folk the righte wey to Rome. Now wol I prey meekly every discret persone that redeth or hereth this litel tretis, to have my rewde 16 endyting 17 for excused, and my superfluite of wordes, for two causes. The firste cause is, for-that 18 curious 19 endyting and hard sentence 20 is ful hevy 21 atones 22 for swich 23 a child to lerne. And the seconde cause is this, that sothly 24 mesemeth 25 betre to wryten unto a child twyes 26 a good sentence, than he forgete it ones.27 And, Lowis, yif 28 so be that I shewe thee in my lighte 29 English as trewe conclusiouns touching this matere, and naught 30 only. as trewe but as many and as subtil conclusiouns as ben 31 shewed in Latin in any commune tretis of the Astrolabie, con me the more thank; 32 and preye God save the king, that is lord of this langage, and alle that him feyth bereth 33 and obeyeth, everech 34 in his degree, the more 35 and the lasse.36 But considere wel, that I ne usurpe nat to have founde this werk of my labour or of myn engin.37. I nam 38 but a lewd 39 compilatour of the labour of olde Astrologiens, and have hit translated in myn English only for thy doctrine; and with this swerd shal I sleen 42



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rules 6 knowhave 10

understand 2 parts will easy est thou 7 little nevertheless 11 their 12 say 13 knows 14 15 been 19 18 because composition elaborate 20 21 difficult 22 at once 23 such 24 26 twice thank means thank, be grateful bear

25 it


16 rude meaning,


11 10 much then




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sense seems to me 32 are con every one ignorant


28 if once


truly easy 30 not

35 40

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less ingenuity 38 compiler sword 42 slay

their solutions 16 pertaining 17 have 18 else 19 truly their 23


promises too



am not


JOHN DE TREVISA (1326-1412)




This apayrynge1 of the burthe of the tunge is bycause of tweie thinges; oon is for children in scole ayenst the usage and manere of alle othere naciouns beeth compelled for to leve 2 hire owne langage, and for to construe hir 3 lessouns and here thynges in Frensche, and so they haveth seth 5 the Normans come first in-to Engelond. Also gentil-men children beeth i-taught to speke Frensche from the tyme that they beeth i-rokked in here cradel, and kunneth speke and playe with a childes broche; and uplondisshe men wil likne hym-self to gentil-men, and fondeth 10 with greet besynesse for to speke Frensce, for to be i-tolde of. Trevisa.12 This manere was moche i-used to-for 13 [the] Firste Deth 14 and is siththe 15 sumdel 15 i-chaunged; for John Cornwaile, a maister of grammer, chaunged the lore in gramer scole and construccioun of 16 Frensche in-to Englische; and Richard Pencriche lerned the manere 17 techynge of hym and othere men of Pencrich; so that now, the yere of oure Lorde a thowsand thre hundred and foure score and fyve, and of the secounde kyng Richard after the Conquest nyne, in alle the gramere scoles of Engelond, children leveth Frensche and construeth and lerneth an 18 Englische, and haveth therby avauntage in oon side and disavauntage in another side; here avauntage is, that they lerneth her gramer in lasse 19 tyme than children were i-woned 20 to doo; disavauntage is that now children of gramer scole conneth 21 na more Frensche than can 22 hir 3 lift 23 heele, and that is harme for hem 24 and 25 they schulle passe the see and travaille in straunge landes and in many other places. Also gentil-men haveth now moche i-left 26 for to teche here 3 children Frensche.



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This deterioration of the birth of the tongue is because of two things: one is because children in school, against the usage and custom of all other nations, are compelled to give up their own language and to construe their lessons and their exercises in French, and so they have since the Normans came first into England. Also gentlemen's children are taught to speak French from the time that they are rocked in their cradles and can talk and play with a baby's brooch; and countrymen wish to be like gentlemen and attempt with great effort to speak French, in order to be highly regarded.

Trevisa: This custom was much used before the first plague and has since been somewhat changed; for John Cornwaile, master of grammar, changed the teaching in grammar school and the translation of French into English; and Richard Pencriche learned this sort of teaching from him, and other men from Pencriche, so that now, the year of Our Lord 1385 and of the second King Richard after the Conquest nine, in all the grammar schools of England, children give up French and construe and learn in English, and have thereby advantage on one side and disadvantage on another side; their advantage is that they learn their grammar in less time than children were accustomed to do; the disadvantage is that now children in grammar school know no more French than does their left heel; and that is harm for them if they shall pass the sea and travel in strange lands and in many other places. Also gentlemen have now in general ceased to teach their children French.

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JOHN LYDGATE (1370?-1451?)



At a posterne forth they gan to ryde
By a geyn path, that ley oute a-side,
Secrely, that no man hem espie,
Only of tresoun and of felonye.
They haste hem forth al the longe day,
Of cruel malys, forto stoppe his way,
Thorgh a forest, alle of oon assent,
Ful covartly to leyn a busshement
Under an hille, at a streite passage,
To falle on hym at mor avantage,'
The same way that Tydeus gan drawe
At thylke mount wher that Spynx was slawe.8
He, nothing war in his opynyoun
Of this compassed 10




But innocent and lich "a gentyl knyght,
Rood ay forth to 12 that it drowe 13 to nyght,
Sool by hym-silf, with-oute companye,
Havyng no man to wisse 14 hym or to gye.15


But at the last, lifting up his hede,
Toward eve, he gan taken hede;
Mid of his waye, right as eny lyne,
Thoght he saugh, ageyn the mone shyne,
Sheldes fresshe and plates borned 16 bright,
The which environ 17 casten a gret lyght;
Ymagynyng in his fantasye

Ther was treson and conspiracye
Wrought by the kyng, his journe 18 forto lette.19
And of al that he no-thyng ne sette,20

1 quenched 2 had made 3 ambush




5 purely because of greater advantage 7 the same

8 slain



not at all aware in his thought

ranged, formed



11 like 12 till 13 drew

14 direct

16 burnished 17 around 18 journey 19 hinder guide

20 he cared nothing for all that

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But wel assured in his manly herte,
Listnat onys a-syde to dyverte,
But kepte his way, his sheld upon his brest,
And cast his spere manly in the rest,
And the first platly 2 that he mette
Thorgh the body proudely he hym smette,
That he fille ded, chief mayster of hem alle;
And than at onys they upon hym falle
On every part, be 3 compas envyroun.
But Tydeus, thorgh his hegh renoun,
His blody swerde lete about hym glyde,
Sleth and kylleth upon every side
In his ire and his mortal tene; 1
That mervaile was he myght so sustene
Ageyn hem alle, in every half besette; 5
But his swerde was so sharpe whette
That his foomen founde ful unsoote.6
But he, allas! was mad light a foote,7
Be force grounded, in ful gret distresse;
But of knyghthod and of gret prouesse
Up he roos, maugre 10 alle his foon,"
And as they cam, he slogh 12 hem oon be oon,
Lik a lyoun rampaunt in his rage,
And on this hille he fond a narow passage,
Which that he took of ful high prudence;
a boor, stondyng at his diffence,
And liche 13
As his foomen proudly hym assaylle,
Upon the pleyn he made her blode to raylle 14
Al enviroun, that the soyl wex rede,
Now her, now ther, as they fille dede,
That her lay on, and ther lay two or thre,
So mercyles, in his cruelte,
Thilke day he was upon hem founde;
15 his enemyes to. confounde,
And, attonys
Wher-as he stood, this myghty champioun,
Be-side he saugh, with water turned doun,
An huge stoon large, rounde, and squar;
And sodeynly, er that thei wer war,
As 16 it hadde leyn ther for the nonys,17
Upon his foon he rolled it at onys,
That ten of hem 18 wenten unto wrak,
And the remnaunt amased drogh 19 a-bak;
For on by on they wente to meschaunce.20
And fynaly he broght to outraunce 21
Hem everychoon, Tydeus, as blyve,22
That non but on left 23 of ham
Hym-silf yhurt, and ywounded kene,24
Thurgh his harneys bledyng on the grene;

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