I enjoy selecting a poem – or, less often, part of a poem - for each Friday’s post, and I am toying with the idea of doing the same with prose, perhaps on a Tuesday. This is prompted by my purchase, in midsummer last year, of Quiller-Couch’s 1925 anthology, The
Today, I can do no better than quote the very first passage in the book, from John Trevisa’s (1326-1402) translation of Higden’s Polychronicon. How little has changed – the weather is worse than in
As Fraunce passeth Bretayne, so Bretayne passeth Irlond in faire weder and nobilité, but nought in helthe. For this ilond is best and bringeth forth trees and fruyt and retheren and other bestes, and wyn groweth there in som place. The land hath plenté of foules and of bestes of dyvers manere kynde; the lond is plenteous and the see also. The lond is noble, copious, and riche of nobil welles and of nobil ryveres with plenté of fische; and there is grete plenté of small fische, of samon, and of elys. So that the cherles in som place fedith sowes with fische ...
These men despiseth hir owne, and preiseth other menis, and unnethe beeth apaide with hir owne estate; by what byfalleth and semeth other men, they wolleth gladlyche take to hemself; therfore hit is that a yeman arraieth hym as a squyer, a squyer as a knyght, a knyght as a duke, a duke as a kyng.