The James Catalogue of Western Manuscripts

Shelfmark R.3.19
Manuscript Title

English Poems by John Lydgate etc

Alternative Title

English Poems By Lydgate etc

James Number 599
Century 15th16th
Physical Description

Mostly 42 lines to a page. Neatly written.


Given by Willmer. Belonged to John Stowe.

Donor Wilmer, George (c.1583-1626), Alumnus Of Trinity (Matric 1598)
Size (cm) 27.5 x 20
Folio 255 ff.
Material Paper
Language EnglishMiddle English

a8 (foliated 1-8) | b8 (32-39) | c8 (+8*: l-9)| d8 e8 f8 (wants 8: 1-23) | g6 (1-6) | h12 (1-12) | i8 (6 canc.)-m8 (1-31) | n8 o8 (1-16) | p8-t8 (1-40) | u8 v8 (9-23 wrongly numbered: follows quire a) | w10 x10 (1 canc.) y8 z8 (1-35) | A8 B6 (wants 4 blank) (1-14) | C8-E8 (1 canc.: 1-23) | F8 (7 canc.: 1-7) | G8 (2-9) ||.

IIIF Manifest URL
Online Since 16/08/2022


Professor Skeat (Chaucer I. p. 56) calls this MS "the source of most of Stowe's additions to Chaucer" and adds "most of the quires are in a handwriting... not far from 1500."

f.1 Festum Natalis Domini
Tronos celorum continens
Ends. Whos byrthe thys day reiterate. (4 stanzas of 7 lines.)

f.1 Seven Philosophers

Primus Philosophus. Attempt nothyng surmountyng your myght.
Last stanza (8th) by Nuncius.

f.2 (0) beauteuous braunche floure of formosyte

f.2b (I)n womanhede as Auctours all wryte

f.3b (0) ye alle that ben or haue byn in dyssease

f.3b (A)ll lust and lykyng I begyn to lede (above, leue)

f.4 (0) lady myne to whom thys boke I sende

f.7 (G)o lytyl boke for dredefull ys thy message
This breaks off with f.8 and is continued on f.154.

In double columns.

f.9 The tale of þe byrde and the chorle of thre notable and gret wysdoms groundyd vppon these ij verses followyng that ys to wete
Neminis omissa doleas, nec omne quod audis
Credas, nec optas id quod habere nequis.

Problems of olde lykenes and figures.

f.12 The tale of the cok that founde a precyous stone groundyd by Isopus the phylosopher of Rome, that yche man shuld take in gree suche as god sent
(W)isdom is more in prise þen gold in cofers.

The tale of the Wolfe and the Lambe groundyd etc.
13b Agenst Raueyn and tiranny
(R)yght as atwene turment and delyces.

f.14b The tale of the ffrogge and þe mowse foundyd by Isopus þe philosopher groundyd agenst deceyte
(B)y a decree of natures law.

f.15b The tale of þe Hownde and the Shepe groundyd ayen periure and false wytnes founde by Isopus
(T)he world made diuerse by froward folkes tweyne.
Only 3 stanzas: most of f.16 is blank.

Another hand [?].

f.17 Here foloweth the parlement of Byrdes reducyd to loue
(S)o short þe lyfe, þe craft so long to lerne.

Ends f.25: f.25b is blank.

f.26 Guystard and Seiesemonde
(T)ancret that was prynce of salern.
To be edited by M. Förster of Bonn.

Ends f.40b. Graunt these louers wy, and thus endeth my tale.
Explicit (Guystard and Seiesmonde).

f.41 Complaint of a Prisoner
Written by George Ashby, Prisoner in the Fleet, in 1463.
Prohemium unius Prisonarii.
At the ende of somer when wynter began
And trees herbes and floures dyd fade.

Ends f.45b, lackyng volunte for theyr dew penaunce.
To be edited by Förster. [Anglia 20 (1898), 139]

ff.46-48 are blank.
In a late bad hand [probably current hand of the same scribe]
A tretis of the iiij seasons of the yere that is to say ver, estas, authumnus, and yemps (copieyd by Iohn Lydgate as aperyeth in his book of ye secretes to alysaunder from aristotyll].
f.49 What tyme the season of the yere
Ends f.52. Dethe all consumythe which may not be denyed.

In a rather better hand.
f.52b Of the iiij complexions
Sanguineus. Natura pingues isti sunt atque jocantes.

Ends. Thou shall hym know bi visage pale and wan.
Expl. iiij complexions.
ff.53b, 54 are blank.

In the first hand?
Here begynneth the Boke called Assemble de Damys.
f.55 [By Chaucer (xvii)]
See Skeat, Chaucerian and other pieces, p.38.
In Septembre at the fallyng of the leef.

Ends f.65b. Rede well my dreme for now my tale ys doon.
Here endeth the book of Assemble de Damys.

f.66 is blank.

f.67 Two 7-line stanzas, marked vacat as being a fragment.
The vnware woo that commeth on gladnesse.
Better ys to dy then lyue in suche penaunce.

f.67b Here foloweth the Interpretacion of the names of goddys and goddesses as ys rehersyd in ys tretyse folowyng as poetis write
Phebus ys as moche to sey as ye Sonne.
Atropos Dethe.
f.68 [Banquet of Gods and Goddesses by Lydgate]
When Phebus in the Crabbe had nere hys cours ronne.

Ends f.97b
Graunt eternall ioy after thy last sentence. Amen.

f.98 La bell dame saunce mercy [by Chaucer]
(Skeat l.c. p.299. By Sir Richard Ros.)
Halfe in a dreme not fully well awakyd.

Ends f.108b
I pray god sende hem bettyr auenture. Expl. labelle dame saunce mercy.
f.109 The x Commaundments of loue [by Chaucer]
Certes fer extendeth my Reason.

Ends. And call hym in to your Remembraunce.
Expl. the x commandmentes of loue.

f.110b The ix ladyes worthy [by Chaucer]
Prefulgent in pretyoussnes O synope the quene.

Ends. Ouercame and venquysshed theym in batayle.
Expl. the baladys of the ix worthyes of ladyes.

ff.111b-113 are blank.

f.114 Here begynneth the Boke called the legend of ladyes [by Chaucer]
A thousand tymes haue I herd men tell.

Ends f.150b. Thys tale ys sayde for thys conclusyoun.

f.151 [How Pyte is dede etc. Geof. Chaucer]
Pyte that I haue sought so yore ago.
Ends. Wt hert sore and full of besy payn.
Here endeth the exclamacioun of the Deth of Pyte.

f.153 is blank.
f.154 The end of the poem Go lytyl boke which begins on f.7

f.154b The craft of Louers. Chaucer
Moralyse a similitude who lyst theyr balades sew.

Ends. And graunt hem thy regioun and blysse celestiall. Expl. the Craft of louers.

[Chaucer] 4 stanzas.
f.156b Of theyre nature they gretly theym Delyte
Ends. Wretyn in the lusty season of May.

f.157 Now fresshe floure to me that ys so bryght

My soule to God standeth in dyspeyre.
loth to offende.
f.157b Bicorn and Chichevache, by Lydgate
O prudent folkes taketh hede.

Ends. lynked in a double chayne.
Explicuit Balades of Bycorn and Chicheuache [compylyd by John ludgate monke of berye at the request of a worthye syttesyne of london to be paynted in a perler.]
In the margin are added in a later hand (Stowe's) indications of the pictures illustrating the poem.

Ymage of a poet.
ij beastes one fatt the other leane.
a fat beast callyd bicorne.
a company of men going toword (?) this bycorne.
a woman devouryd in ye moudthe of Chichevache.
a longe horned beaste slender (and) leane wt sharpe tethe.
an old man wt a baston on his bake manasyng ye beaste for devouringe of his wyffe.

Short poems
f.159b Honour and Joy helthe and prosperyte (5 stanzas)
f.160 Alone walkyng, In thought pleynynge etc.
Skeat, Chaucerian and other pieces, p.448.
In the season of ffeuere when it was full colde.
f.160b Lady of pite for þy sorowes yt þu haddest
f.161 O merciful and o mercyable
f.161b Pallas loquitur ad parisium de Troia
Son of Priamus Gentyll paris of troy.
followed by Pallas to Priam, Venus to Paris, Minerva to Paris.
f.162 The yeres past of my tendyr youthe

A fresh rubric on f.167
Confessio de transgressionibus in Juuentute.
Duryng the tyme of thys seson vere.

Ends. Thys lytyll dyte thys compilacioun (f.169).
ff.169b, 170 ff are blank.

f.170b Worshipfull and dyscrete that here present be

[The section from f.170v onwards is a composite of Chaucer and Lydgate: see Manly and Rickert (eds), I, 533]

[Chaucer, Monk's Tale: I wyll yow tell a tale, or two or thre]

f.171 Bochas [by John Lydgate]

When John Bochas consyderyd had and sought.

Ends f.202. When humble request yor yre may nat aswage.
ff.203b-204 are blank.

Short poems
f.205 The Discryuyng of a fayre lady
I haue a lady where so she be.
f.205b O mosy quince hangyng by youre stalke
f.206 Of God and kynde procedeth all Beawte.
f.207 Looke well about ye that louers be
Printed by Skeat, Chaucerian and other Pieces, p.295.
f.208 Men may leue all gamys
Pilgrim's song: E.E.T.S. 25 Stacions of Rome, p.37 and Rel. Ant. I.2, 3.

A single quatrain
He that wyll in Eschepe ete a goose so fat }
Wt harpe pype and song, } Secundum
He must slepe in Newgate on a mat, } Aristotilem.
Be the nyght neuer so long. }
f.209 A knyght that ys as hardy as a lyoun
f.209b The wyseman sayd vnto hys sonne
f.211 The good wyfe taught hyr dowghtere
Ends f.213.
Her blessyng mot þu haue and well mot þu thryue
My leef Chylde. Amen.

ff.213b-217 are blank.

In a later hand
f.218 The courte of love [by G. Chaucer]
With tymoros hert and tremlyng hand of drede.
See Skeat, Chaucerian and other pieces, p.409.
Ends f.235. And Venus yet I thank I am alive.
f.235b blank.

In a very current hand
f.236 Thys ffable is of ye hound that bare the chese gronddyd on Isopus agaynst covetousnes translatyd by John Lydgat [made in oxforde]
An olde proverbe hathe bene sayd and shall.
f.236 How the wollffe diseyvyd the crane. Isopus translatyd by Iohn Lydgat
In Isopus forther to proced.
Ends f.237. This tall applyinge agayn folke that be wnkynde.
finis John Lydgat, wryten by John Stow.
ff.237b-240 blank.

In the first hand
f.241 Loo Worshipfull Sirs here after followeth a gentylmanly Tretyse full convenyent for contemplatiff lovers to rede and vnderstond made by a noble clerke, Peirs of ffulham sum tyme vssher of Venus scole whiche hath brieflye compyled many praty conceytis in love vnder covert termes off frysshyng and ffowlyng.
Pardimus anguillam manibus dum stringimus illam
Cunctorum fo. IIo et pro huius simplicis collacionis exordio.
(A) man that lovith ffisshyng and fowlyng bothe.

Ends f.245b
In oure tonge callede Culrage.
Expl. Peirs off ffulham.
Printed in Hartshorne's Ancient Metrical Tales from this MS.
ff.246, 247 blank.

In the hand of the Court of Love
f.248 The petigrew of England

In prose
This short tretise ys compiled for to bryng the people oute of doubte that haue not hard of the Cronycle etc.

Ends with
The iij Son of Philippe labele
-that ben ordeyned for thaym that occupie suche maner of open wronges.

ff.252b-255 are blank.


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