The Regiment of Princes

Original Text: 
unspecified.
1962     Mi maister Chaucer, flour of eloquence,
1964     O, universel fadir in science!
1965     Allas! that thou thyn excellent prudence
1966       In thi bed mortel mightist naght byqwethe;
1969     In slaghtere of him; but al this land it smertith;
1970But nathelees, yit hast thou no power
1973       With bookes of his ornat endytyng,
1975     "Hast thou nat eeke my maister Gower slayn,
1976     Whos vertu I am insufficient
1977For to descreyve? I woot wel in certayn,
1979     But syn our lorde Crist was obedient
1980       To the, in feith I can no ferther seye;
1981       His creatures mosten the obeye."
...
2077     Mi dere maistir--God his soule quyte!--
2079       But I was dul, and lerned lite or naght.
2080     Allas! my worthi maister honorable,
2082Deth, by thi deth, hath harme irreparable
2084     Despoiled hath this land of the swetnesse
2086       Was never man so lyk a-monges us.
2089The steppes of Virgile in poesie
2092       Wold I slayn were! Deth was to hastyf
...
2104     May never man forth brynge lyk to the,
2105     And hir office needes do mot she;
2107       O maister, maister, God thi soule reste!

Notes

1961] THE REGEMENT OF PRINCES is a long poem on the duties of a ruler, compiled from various mediaeval works with numerous illustrations from the classics and contemporary history. It was written in 1411-1412, and addressed to Henry, Prince of Wales, afterwards Henry V. It is extant in forty manuscripts and was first printed by Thomas Wright in 1860. The present extract is from the introduction, in which Hoccleve tells his troubles to an old beggar, at whose suggestion he dedicates his poem to the Prince. At a later point Hoccleve had Chaucer's portrait inserted in the margin of his manuscript. This is extant in a few copies. Back to Line
1963] fructuous entendement. Fruitful understanding. Back to Line
1967] eiled. Ailed. Back to Line
1968] singuleer. Particular, affecting only one. Back to Line
1971] sle. To slay.
vertu. Power.
astertith. Escapes. Back to Line
1972] lyfly hertyth. Vitally heartens, encourages. Back to Line
1974] enlumynyng. Illumination. Back to Line
1978] yment. Meant. Back to Line
2073] goost. Spirit.
letterure. Learning. Back to Line
2074] your excellence. Henry, Prince of Wales. Back to Line
2075] in aventure Wyle I me putte. I will put myself in the hands of Fortune, take a chance. Back to Line
2076] can but lyte. Know but little. Back to Line
2078] Definite proof that Hoccleve knew Chaucer personally. Back to Line
2081] verray. True. Back to Line
2083] hir. Her. Death is feminine here and at l. 2101, perhaps because of the gender in Latin and French.
vengeable duresse. Malignant cruelty. Back to Line
2085] Tullius. Marcus Tullius Cicero. Back to Line
2087] hier. Higher. Back to Line
2088] but. Than. Back to Line
2090] filwedist. Didst follow. Back to Line
2091] combre-world. Cumberer of the earth (i.e. Death).
slow. Slew. Back to Line
2093] renne. Run.
reve. Bereave, deprive. Back to Line
2101] vengeance. Outrage. Back to Line
2102] had egal to the be. Had been equal to thee. Back to Line
2103] yle. Isle (of Britain). Back to Line
2106] for thi beste. For thy best interests. One MS. reads "for the beste." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1430
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.40; RPO 1996-2000.
Rhyme: