The Canterbury Tales HTML version
Notes to the Reeve's Tale
NOTES TO THE PROLOGUE.
1. "With blearing of a proude miller's eye": dimming his eye; playing off a joke on him.
2. "Me list not play for age": age takes away my zest for drollery.
3. The medlar, the fruit of the mespilus tree, is only edible when rotten.
4. Yet in our ashes cold does fire reek: "ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires."
5. A colt's tooth; a wanton humour, a relish for pleasure.
6. Chimb: The rim of a barrel where the staves project beyond the head.
7. With olde folk, save dotage, is no more: Dotage is all that is left them; that is, they can only
dwell fondly, dote, on the past.
8. Souter: cobbler; Scottice, "sutor;"' from Latin, "suere," to sew.
9. "Ex sutore medicus" (a surgeon from a cobbler) and "ex sutore nauclerus" (a seaman or
pilot from a cobbler) were both proverbial expressions in the Middle Ages.
10. Half past prime: half-way between prime and tierce; about half-past seven in the morning.
11. Set his hove; like "set their caps;" as in the description of the Manciple in the Prologue, who
"set their aller cap". "Hove" or "houfe," means "hood;" and the phrase signifies to be even with,
12. The illustration of the mote and the beam, from Matthew.
NOTES TO THE TALE
1. The incidents of this tale were much relished in the Middle Ages, and are found under various
forms. Boccaccio has told them in the ninth day of his "Decameron".
2. Camuse: flat; French "camuse", snub-nosed.
3. Gite: gown or coat; French "jupe."
4. Soler Hall: the hall or college at Cambridge with the gallery or upper storey; supposed to have
been Clare Hall. (Transcribers note: later commentators identify it with King's Hall, now merged
with Trinity College)
5. Manciple: steward; provisioner of the hall. See also note 47 to the prologue to the Tales.
6. Testif: headstrong, wild-brained; French, "entete."