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A critical edition : poems by Thomas Hoccleve in HM 744 (formerly the Ashburnham MS); a MS in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California Tremaine, William Robert


Of the minor poets of the 15th century, those who claimed Chaucer as their teacher and their master, Thomas Hoccleve is perhaps one of the most interesting, not because of his abilities as a poet, which were in the main mediocre, but for the vivid picture he gives us of his own life and times. Hoccleve spent all his working life as a scribe in the office of the Privy Seal. In the introductory pages of this edition, Hoccleve's life and works are discussed at length, and some conjecturing is done as to his relation with Chaucer, of whom Hoccleve claimed to be a willing, if somewhat dull student who "lerned lite or naght." His poetry is put in its historical setting, and his borrowings from Chaucer in literary forms and subject matter are discussed. His borrowings from Chaucer were extensive, but his imitation of the master is mechanical , and usually uninspired. We are, however, indebted to Hoccleve for having had a portrait of Chaucer painted and inserted in the margin of his own Regement of Princes. The authenticity of the portraits is discussed in the introductory pages. In language, of which there is a brief consideration given, Hoccleve was an East-Midlander. His dialect has many similarities to that of Chaucer, and of the London area as a whole. The MSS of Hoccleve's poetry which have come down are all quite consistent in dialect features, which has led to it being postulated that the MSS were all written, or copied by the same man, and that that man was Hoccleve. An examination here tends to support the argument that the MSS were written by the same person, but whether or not that man was Hoccleve is beyond the scope of consideration for this paper. The MS HM 744, from the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, has never been edited in full before. The transcription given in this edition includes all of the Hoccleve poetry from HM 744. The last poem, Lerne to Dye, is incomplete in the MS. It lacks some 300 lines of poetry, and two pages of prose. This lack has been made up from a different edition of the poem, in order that the reader may have a full copy of the work at his disposal. A section of explanatory notes on the poetry, a glossary and an extensive bibliography of Hoccleve material complete the critical apparatus.

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