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BY JAMES F. ROYSTER
Ther saugh I Colle tregetour
Pleye an uncouthe thing to telle;
-House of Fame, 11. 1277-1281.
Who is Colle Tregetour, a magician so mighty as to be able to conceal a wind-mill under a walnut shell? Chaucer students have generally regarded the name as a blind reference. Professor Skeat alone has ventured a note on Colle. Though it is not what Professor Kittredge years ago said of the same editor's explanation of the quality of the Prioress's French, "the very worst note ever written on a passage of Chaucer," 2 it is certainly one of the most useless comments ever made upon the poet's text. "Colle is here," says Professor Skeat, "a proper name, and distinct from the prefix col- in col-fox.3 N. P. Tale, B. 4405. Colle is the name of a dog, N. P. Tale, B. 4573. Colyn and Colle [variant forms] are names of grooms; Political Songs, bk. ii." But the question remains: who is Colle Tregetour?
It will be remembered that in the lines immediately preceding the mention of Colle's name in The House of Fame Chaucer had recorded his vision of an assembly of tregetours, charmeresses, olde wicches, phitonesses, and sorceresses among the marvels of the castle "al of stone of beryle." From this large group "who conne wel al this magic naturel" Chaucer chose to name only Medea, Circes, Calipsa, Hermes Ballenus, Lymote, and Simon Magus, "and knew hem by name." This is a fairly comprehensive list of stock representatives of the magic arts.
At the end of the company of sorcerers assembled from classical
1 The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, п, 273. 2 The Nation (New York), 1895, 1, 240.
'Perhaps no longer to be regarded as a prefix here. See Hotson, J. L., "Colfox vs. Chauntecleer." PMLA., XXXIX, 726 ff.
Hermes Ballenus is "perhaps a corruption of Apollonius of Tyana" (Thorndike, Lynn, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, 1, 267). Lymote, Professor Hales (Skeat, loc. cit.) has properly identified as Elymas of Acts xii, 8.
and early Christian history, Chaucer introduces us in the lines quoted at the beginning of this paper to a contemporary Englishman who is mentioned by a writer of the last decade of Chaucer's life as a magician with a reputation for having performed many marvels by means of his necromantic skill. This reference to a certain" Colin T. [=Tregetour]" as a well-known English magician may be found in the earliest extant French conversation manual, La Maniere de language qui t'enseigners bien adroit parler et escrire doulz francois selon l'usage et la coustume de France. The Maniere was printed by P. Meyer from Harleian MS 3988 in the Revue Critique for 1873 and was collated with and in part printed from All Souls' College (Oxford) MS 182 by E. Stengel in the first volume of the Zeitschrift für neufranzösischen Sprache und Literatur (1879). It was composed by an Englishman writing in 1396. Stengel believes the author to have been M. T. Coyfurelly, the writer of a Tractatus Orthographie Gallicane, preserved in the same Oxford MS which contains the Maniere. In the Tractatus Coyfurelly describes himself as "canonicus, aurilianus doctor utriusque juris."
The conversation in chapter five of the Maniere concerns itself with the beauties of French cities. The descriptions are commonplace and the details are meagre enough until the travelogue comes to deal with Orleans. What is said about Orleans in the Maniere I quote in part:
A Aurilians! Sainte Marie, c'est bien lois de cy, car c'est bien pres au bout de le monde, si come nen dit en ce pais icy.
Vraiement, sire, ils sont bien fols qui le cuident, car c'est ou mylieu du Roialme de France.
Est Aurilians une beau ville?
Oil, sire, si Dieu m'ait, le plus belle que soit ou roialme de France apres Paris. Et aussi il en y a une grande estude des loys, car les plus vaillanz et les plus gentilo clers qui sont ou cristiantee y repairent pour estudier en civil et canonn.
Mon tresdoulz amy, je vous encroy bien, mais toutes voies j'oy dire que l'anemy y apprent ses desciples de nigromancie en une teste.
Meyer did not publish the quotation from the Maniere made below, although it is recorded in the Harlein MS.
7 Op. cit., p. 8.
An interesting anticipation of the travel dialogues commonly found in Elizabethan conversation manuals.
(Save vostre grace, beau sire, car vrayment ce ne'est) pas voir.
Par Saint Jaques, toutes voies il y avoit jadys 1o un Englois qu'estoit fort nigromancien qui est a nom Colin T. qui savoit faire beaucoup des mervailles par voie de nigromancie.
From this reference the existence of an English magician, "a nom Colin T. [=Tregetour]," is established. Chaucer's mention of him among his group of famous magicians presents another illustration of the poet's "touch-and-go allusions to contemporary events "11 and persons. Indeed, with considered intent he sets at the end of this name-list an actual modern instance according to a plan of arrangement which he seems to have employed in drawing up several other catalogues of names-the use of a loose historical order. I do not mean to suggest that Chaucer followed a hardand-fast chronological sequence; his studie was but litel upon dates within narrow compasses; but many times in his lists he proceeds in an order that to him was ancient, medieval, and modern. At the end he frequently cites a modern, a contemporary, or a native example with an apparent realization of the effectiveness of the recent and local reference to suggest to his readers in a single realistic flash the meaning of a whole series of examples.
Notice, for example, the order in which the fifteen famous doctors are ranged in the "Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales (11. 431 ff.): Esculapius, Deiscorides, Rufus, Ypocras, Haly, Galien, Serapion, Razdis, Avicen, Averrois, Demascien, Constanyn, Bernard, Gatesden, Gilbertyn. From the mythological-classical group of the first five names (with a misplacing of the eleventh-century Haly) Chaucer goes to examples drawn from the ninth to the twelfth centuries, and concludes with the naming of three thirteenthfourteenth century doctors, two of whom are Englishmen. 12 Again, in citing authorities on the question of predestination and free-will in the Nun's Priest's Tale (11. 421 ff.), Chaucer mentions in order (with a historical precedence for Augustine to which he is not
The words within the parentheses are supplied by Stengel from the Harleian MS.
10" At one time," "not long ago "-from the date of the Maniere, 1396. The House of Fame is about fifteen years earlier.
11 Hotson, J. L., op. cit., p. 781.
1a Chaucer brings the catalogues in the Roman de la Rose (11. 16161 ff.) and in Dante's Inferno (IV, 143) fairly well up-to-date and close to home. See Skeat, op. cit., V, 41-42.
quite entitled) Augustine, Boethius-and Bishop Bradwardyn, a fourteenth century countryman of his. In the same tale (11. 542 ff.) the weepers and wailers who had failed to cry so loud as did the wives of Chauntecleer are set down in fairly accurate historical order, and again at the end the significance of the whole list is brought home to contemporaries by a reference to the shouts of Jack Straw and his rabble in 1381. Another instance of the method may be found in the group of authorities in the Maunciples Tale (11. 239 ff.) who uphold the wisdom of silence. In order these wise men are: Solomon, David, Seneca; and again the meaning is fixed at the close by the citation of a contemporary Flemish proverb. British Glasgerion (House of Fame, 1466 ff.) was not a man of Chaucer's time, but by comparison with the other two harpers in this list (Orion and Eacides Chiron) he stands as another example of Chaucer's practice of bringing his personal illustrations near enough home for their meaning to be clear to those more versed in recent than in ancient history.
The passage from the Maniere quoted above is of interest in another direction. It brings against the desciples at Orleans the charge of being addicted to the study of necromancy. The bearing of this reference upon certain details of the Franklin's Tale will immediately suggest itself to any one who has at all in memory the foolish pledge of Dorigen and the visit of Aurelius 13 to Orleans to fetch the clerkly magician who brings. her near to shame. That Chaucer was using realistic place detail in seeking his magician at Orleans has been pointed out." It is common knowledge that the city was a gathering place for astrologers in Chaucer's day.15 But it has been wondered whether
13 I hesitate to cut directly through the ingenious and elaborate investigations of Schofield (PMLA. XVI, 405 ff.) and of Rajna (Romania, XXXII, 204 ff.) into sources for the name of the gentle squire by making the simple conjecture that Aurelius may have been suggested by Aurelians or Aurelianus, but the possibility is too great easily to be overlooked.
14 Wedel, T. O., The Medieval Attitude Toward Astrology, Yale Studies in English, LX (1920), pp. 95 ff. See Tatlock, J. S. P., The Scene of the Franklin's Tale Visited, Chaucer Society Publications, Second Series, 51, pp. 41 ff. In a note on page 341 of "Astrology and Magic in the Franklin's Tale" (Kittredge Anniversary Papers), Tatlock points out that to Colle Tregetour are ascribed the magic illusions which Aurelius's brother had expected his friend at Orleans to produce.
15 The association of Orleans with magic in the reference to a marvelous
the University as well as the city at that time had the reputation of being a seat for the study of magic. Both Tatlock and Wedel, who ask the question, emphasize the fact that Chaucer gives evidence of a correct knowledge of the curriculum situation at the University of Orleans when he represents the fellow student from whom the brother of Aurelius first learned of magical studies as a "bacheler of lawe," for the University of Orleans was not only eminent as a law school, but there in the thirteenth century "no regular Faculty of Arts maintained its existence, nor any other Faculty except that of Law." 18 The statement of the Maniere bears the same testimony; to Orleans, it says, repair “les plus vaillanz and les plus gentilx clers . . pour estudier en civil et canonn." 17 Though the students of law come merely to Orleans, it can scarcely be doubted that the University of Orleans is referred to here. And in like manner the University is referred to when one speaker in the imaginary conversation brings the charge that the students (desciples) have become addicted to the study of necromancy.
In the light of this contemporary and intimate evidence from the Maniere, it seems more than likely that when Chaucer put it into the mind of Aurelius's brother, himself a clerk, to remember that in his student days at Orleans his fellow students, "yonge clerkes," were "likerous to reden artes that been curious," and to proceed there to find aid and comfort for the lover of Dorigen, he was making use of knowledge or report he had of the actual conditions at the University of Orleans.
The University of North Carolina.
cure yn Orleaunce" in The Buggbears (III, iii), and in "A Mery Geste of the Frere and the Boye" (Hazlitt's Early Popular Poetry, 1866, III, 79), Mr. Bond (Early Plays from the Italian, 1921, p. 287) attributes "to English memories of Joan of Arc." This explanation cuts off far too early the historical view. Indeed, the line in "A Mery Geste,"
He is a grete nygromancere
In all Orlyannce is not his pere,
is reminiscent of Chaucer's
In al the land of crowing nas his peer (N. P. T., 30).
16 Both Tatlock and Wedel refer to Rashdall, Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, II, 136 ff. The quotation is from Rashdall.
17 The author of the Maniere, whether he be M. T. Coyfurelly, "canonicus, aurilianus doctor utiusque juris," or not, shows throughout the Maniere a familiarity with and affection for Orleans.