Shul and Shal in the Chaucer Manuscripts

Carleton Brown
1911 Publications of the Modern Language Association of America  
Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the mid--seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non--commercial purposes. Read more about Early Journal
more » ... out Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate--jstor/individuals/early-journal--content. JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not--for--profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. I.-SHIUL AND SHAL IN THE CHAUCER MANUSCRIPTS Before we may hope to solve some of the problems which confront the student of Chaucer we must gain a clearer understanding of the relationship in which the extant MSS. stand to the text written by the poet's own hand. In the hope of throwing some light upon this relationship it occurred to the present writer to apply to all the Chaucer MSS. thus far printed a very obvious grammatical test by noting their usage in the case of the plural present indicative of the verb shullen. The use of this test first suggested itself as a result of my observation that in these forms there is a curious variation among different MSS., and even in the same MS. in different portions of Chaucer's text. These reversals of usage in the same MS. are best illustrated in Camb. Gg. 4, 27, for this manuscript contains not only the Cant. Tales, but also Troilus, the Parl. of Foules, and the Legend of G. W. In the Parl. of F. one finds the plural of the present indicative written schul eight times and schal only once; in Troilus, on the other hand, there are no less than forty-one schal's as against eight schul's. Much the same ratio is found in the Legend, which has eleven schal's and only two schul's. Moreover, among the several tales of the Canterbury collection this manuscript shows marked difference of usage, swinging abruptly from six to two in favor of schal in the Man of Law's Tale to nine to one in favor of schul in the Wife of Bath's Tale, which immediately follows. Similar examples of reversal of usage in these forms might be cited in nearly all the printed MSS. Such alternations between schal and schul on the part of the same scribe are evidently due to variations in the Mss. from which 6 SHUL AND SHAL IN THE CHAUCER MANUSCRIPTS 7 he was copying. In other words, the responsibility for this variation in usage does not rest upon the scribes of the extant MSS.,-though they may have added to the confusion already existing. It is clear, then, that this confusion between shul and shal must proceed, either from scribes intermediate between Chaucer and the extant copies or-from Chaucer himself. It will be well, before plunging into the details of the manuscript readings, to consider briefly this latter possibility. How far are we justified in supposing that Chaucer himself was consistent in distinguishing between schal and schul? To this it may be answered, in the first place, that whether his perception of the grammatical distinction between these forms were clear or dim, Chaucer would hardly write schul in the Parl. of F. and then change to schal in Troilus and the Legend, or write schul in some of the Cant. Tales and schal in others. A more convincing answer to this question, however, is found by appealing to Gower's usage in the Confessio Amantis. Fortunately, in the case of Gower's poem there is preserved a manuscript-Fairfax 3-which, according to Mr. G. C. Macaulay, was actually written and revised under Gower's own direction. It has therefore practically the authority of a holograph. I give the following tabulation of the plural schul's and schal's which appear in the text of the Conf. Am. as it is printed from the Fairfax MS. by Mr. Macaulay: First Person schul--v 1914. Second Person schul-i 1258; v 3544, 5766; vi 1915,1928; viii 3055. schull-i 3197; v 2337; vi 2041; vIII 903. schal-viII 1212. CARLETON BROWN Third Person schul-i 3246; v 5672, 7433; vI 1225; vnI 506, 3335.' schull-v 786, 2104, 2157, 2587; vi 1938; vII 1752: vIII 1782. schol-Prol. 1034. schullen-I 2251. schulle-i 2558; iv 2239; VII 4825. schule v 3529. schal-i 1456, 1466; iii 2588; iv 2650, 3669; vII 2192. schall-i 77. Possibly another case of the plural schal is to be recognized in the line,- The pledour and the plee schal faile (ii 3416). It seems to me more likely, however, that here, as in Chaucer's line,- His bestes and his stoor shal multiplye (C 365)- the verb is to be regarded as a singular in agreement with the adjacent substantive rather than as the plural with a compound subject. Gower's use of schal in the plural, it will be noted, is confined almost exclusively to the third person. And it is to be observed further that, with one exception (i 77), these forms occur in the phrase men schal, in which men is not the substantive but the indefinite pronoun. This raises the
doi:10.2307/456872 fatcat:oc2bzavbmjectegdj4hkjlzucm