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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

VII. Chaucer

§ 5. Later Rearrangements

Meanwhile, the process of winnowing which Tyrwhitt began has been carried out still farther: partly by the discovery of authors to whom pieces must or may be assigned rather than to Chaucer, partly by the application of grammatical or other tests of the internal kind. Thus, The Complaint of the Black Knight was found to be ascribed to Lydgate by Shirley, a great admirer and student, as has been said, of Chaucer himself, and, apparently, contemporary with Lydgate during all their lives. The Cuckoo and the Nightingale—a very agreeable early poem—was discovered by Skeat to be assigned in MS. to “Clanvowe,” who has been sufficiently identified with a Sir Thomas Clanvowe of the time. The Testament of Love, one of the most evidently un-Chaucerian of these things when examined with care, has, in the same way, turned out to be certainly (or with strong probability) the work of Thomas Usk, as has been mentioned. Two other very important and beautiful, though very late, attributions allowed by Tyrwhitt, though in the conditions specified, have also been black-marked, not for any such reason, but for alleged “un-Chaucerism” in grammar, rime, etc., and also for such reasons as that The Flower and the Leaf is apparently put in the mouth of a woman and The Court of Love in that of a person who calls himself “Philogenet, of Cambridge, clerk,” to which we have not any parallel elsewhere in Chaucer. These last arguments are weak; but there is no doubt that The Flower and the Leaf (of which no MS. is now accessible) to some extent, and The Court of Love (of which we have a single late MS.) still more, are, in linguistic character, younger than Chaucer’s time, and could only be his if they had been very much rewritten. These, and the other poems excluded, will be dealt with in a later chapter.

In these exclusions, and, still more, in another to which we are coming, very great weight has been attached to some peculiarities of rime pointed out first by Henry Bradshaw, the most important of which is that Chaucer never (except in Sir Thopas, where it is alleged that he is now parodying the Romances) rimes a word in -y to a word in -ye throughout the pieces taken for granted as his. The value of this argument must, of course, be left to the decision of everyone of full age and average wits; for it requires no linguistic or even literary knowledge to guide the decision. To some it seems conclusive; to others not so.