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that my fellow labourer, the Rev. G. A. Panton, did not live to see it completed and gratitude for the friendships it has been the means of forming, and for the kindnesses those friends have shewn. I thank them heartily, one and all; particularly Mr Furnivall, and especially the Rev. W. W. Skeat, who, in the kindest manner, rendered me much valuable assistance and advice.
July 16th, 1873.
1. 1. Maistur in magesté, King of Kings, or Almighty King. That maister had the meaning of chief, principal, greatest, there are many proofs, as maister-street, the chief or principal street, maister-man, the Lord or chief of a band; and the names given to the chief officers of the crown, as Master of the Household, Master of the Ceremonies, &c., &c. But the word in that meaning was much more common in Scotland than in England, and is still so used. Even as late as the close of the 16th century the Provost of Edinburgh was called the maister Mair, or chief of all the Provosts or Mayors of Scotland. In an account of the rejoicings in Edinburgh in 1590, we find,
"The nomber of thame that wer thair,
I sall descriue thame as I can ;
My Lord, I mene the maister Mair,
Burel's Entry Q. 1590, Watson's Coll. II. 14.
1. 2. Endles and on, euer to last, the One God, Infinite, and Everlasting.
1. 4. wysshe me with wyt, endow me with the needed gifts, or, instruct and guide me. Observe the s becomes sh in wisse, as also in slepe in 1. 6, and in a few other words throughout the work.
1. 6. slydyn vppon shlepe, fallen into forgetfulness: by slomeryng of Age, through the negligence of the past, as in the expression, 'the sleep of ages.'
to wale in hor
11. 7-8. Compare with Morte Arthure, 11. 16-22. tyme, to be found in their age. To Wale is to choose, to select, as in 11. 373, 1355, 13224; also, in plenty, as in 11. 340, 373; of all kinds, as in 1. 332. Wale is an adj. in 694, 1329, 1727, 1943, meaning, choice, good, dear, strong, deadly; and in 1546 it means utmost, extreme: in 11952 it is a s. and means choice. In all its forms and uses there is the idea of choice, selection, excellence, superiority: it is a very common word in Scotland, and still has all those meanings. Thus Burns, in 'The Cotter's Saturday Night,' has,
again, in 'Auld Rob Morris,'
"There's auld Rob Morris that wons in yon glen,
He's the King o' guid fellows and wale of auld men:
and Dean Ramsay gives an amusing instance of its use in "There's na waile o' wigs on Munrimmon Moor." Of its adjective sense, take the friendly salutation on a fine day, "this is wale weather.” South of the Forth it is wale; North, it is wile: as in the phrase will and wile, free choice. See Poems in the Buchan Dialect, p. 5.
1. 9. drepit with deth, struck down by death.
1. 11. Sothe stories ben stoken up, true stories are shut up, or put by: & straught out of mind, and passed out of mind, and are forgotten.
1. 12. swolowet into swym, passed away like a dream.
1. 15. On lusti to loke, unattractive reading, lacking manliness.
1. 18. sum feynit o fere, some are fictions entirely.
1. 19. as he will, as he likes best: warys his tyme, spends his time: ware still means to spend or to expend.
1. 21. old stories of stithe, old stories of valiant men: þat astate held, of high rank. Stithe is properly firm, steady, strong, sturdy, hence
A lord that sua suete wes and deboner,-
That thai had gret causs blyth to be."
The Bruce, Bk 8, 1. 384 (Jamieson's Ed.).
1. 23. wees, men. The common form of this word is wye, from A.S. wiga, a soldier, a warrior, hence its meaning knight, man. The form wee occurs in 'Awntyrs of Arthure,' 54. 3, and frequently in this work, and means warrior, knight; but as frequently it means man, and in 1. 3356, lady. It is still used in the West of Scotland and applied to both sexes as a contracted form of wegh, wigh (the local pronunciation of wight, wycht): thus, when a person is worn out by hard work, he or she will say, "O, but I'm a weary wee!"; and Hogg in 'The Queen's Wake' makes the Witch of Fife say,
"Ne wonder I was a weary wycht
Quhan I cam hame to you."
Similarly the verb weigh is pronounced wee, and weights is wees, weghts, wights: plough is ploo, or plew: a plough is a ploo, or a pleuch: an eye is an ee: and many more examples, in which the old pronunciation is more or less retained, might be given. (See Specimens of Early English by Morris and Skeat, p. xvi, § 3.)
1. 25. to ken all the crafte, to know all the particulars. to ken is here to know; in l. 1452, to be known or discovered; and in 1. 8746, known: it also means to be seen, or, to the sight, as in l. 1567. The word is still used in Scotland with all these meanings, and with another, to make known, to instruct, to tell, as in Morte Arthure, 2619, "Wille thow for knyghthede kene me thy name?"
The part. kennyng is used as a s. meaning knowledge, as in 1. 2837 of this work; but it also means a very little, in the least degree, as in Burns's Address to the Unco Guid,'
"Then gently scan your brother Man,
Still gentler sister Woman;
Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
1. 29. fele yeres, many years: fele is an adv. in 1. 1884. fele vertus, very or intensely virtuous; and in 1. 2400 it is used as a s. the fairest of po fele, the fairest of the band, lit. of those many.
The word is still
1. 30 myn hit, to recollect for the purpose of telling: I thinke, I intend, or, I expect to be able, as in Wolsey's 'Speech to Cromwell,' "Cromwell, I did not think to shed a tear
In all my miseries;"
Myn, which occurs frequently in the above sense, also means to speak of, to tell of, as in 1. 431,
"This Medea the maiden þat I mynt first."
It is a good example of a peculiarity of the language of this work
1. 32. for lernyng of vs, for our instruction. Note the peculiar use of learn this is the sense in which it is still most frequently employed als ihres Amtes war,
1. 35. pan hom maister were, than they had authority for: maisterns höden has here the same meaning as in the phrase, " he was master of his > magister
1. 36. lympit of the sothe, fell short of the truth: as a lame foot in walking falls short of the full step.
1. 37. menye, company, set (of poets): in this sense the word is used by Wickliffe, Langland, Barbour, Douglas, and Henryson; but a more common sense is, armed men, followers, from its original meaning of domestics, retainers. (See Glossary to Douglas's Virgil, Ruddiman's edition, and Wedgwood's Etym. Dict. s. v. Meiny.)
1. 38. haithill of dedis, prince of poets, lit. noble in (such) works:
haithill, hathell, occurs frequently in this work as a s., as also in Morte Arthure, and Poems on Sir Gawain, meaning a noble; but it is properly an adj., and as such is used in all these works. It also occurs under the form athil = A.S. æþel.
1. 42. traiet pe truth, betrayed the truth: trust ye non other, believe not otherwise, or, take my word for it,-a form of asseveration still in use.
1. 45. folke as pai were, as if they were men.
1. 46. vnable, impossible.
1. 48. othir, others: a form of plural still used.
onest were ay,
were always truthful and trustworthy: see note on onestly, 1. 281. 1. 49. verrit for nobill, approved for honour.
1. 54. graidly hade soght, had thoroughly inquired into: graidly and greidly represent the pronunciation of graithly, a pronunciation of th very common in the Lowlands of Scotland, and in the North of England. Burns, in his 'Address to a Haggis,' says,—
Graithe, Graithly, Graithnes, as used in this work, and as still used, express the idea of skill, ability, care, and consequently, preparation, determination, completeness, success. See Glossary for examples. 1. 55. weghes he hade, authors he possessed: as one may say, "I
have got Shakespere."
1. 57. euper, each of them. sawte, assault, siege; so in Barbour, VI. 871. assemely, battle or battlefield: the word occurs in different forms, semblé, semely, semle (representing varieties of pronunciation still existing), and is applied to a gathering, a council, a battle, a battlefield: see Glossary. see with pere een, saw with their own eyes.
1. 60. Dares and Dytes, Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis, reputed authors of histories of the Destruction of Troy. A fair idea of the value of the works may be had from the account of how and where the manuscripts were found: still they must have made a deep impression on the early French writers, whose works, through the influence of the Crusades, were scattered over Western Europe. 'Le Roman de Troie' of Benoit de Sainte-More, which Guido de Colonna so unblushingly appropriated and merely rendered into second-rate Latin, is the fruit of Dares and Dictys, and was the great romance of the Middle Ages. A splendid edition of Benoit's work was issued by Prof. Joly of Caen in 1870: the Introduction to this book is a fine specimen of learned and exhaustive editing.
1. 63. tothyr, prop. the other, but here used for other, and still so used in Scotland, where it is pronounced tother and tither. a Tulke, a man, a soldier,-originally a talker, an interpreter, a mediator, as in Danish tolk: an adj. form of the word still exists in Scotland in tulchane, the name applied to the imitation calf which the milkmaid employs to entice the cows to yield their milk.
1. 69. ouerraght, overhauled: it occurs again in l. 13898, as