Guide To Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the
EL 26 A 17 “Stafford Gower”
View all images for this manuscript
GOWER, CONFESSIO AMANTIS
ff. 1-169v: [John Gower, Confessio Amantis] Torpor hebes sensus scola parva labor minimusque/ Causant quo minimus ipse minora canam…Incipit prologus, Off hem þat writen ous tofore/ þe bokes dwelle and we þerfore…Bot wolde god þat now were on/ An oþer such as Arion// [missing text, Prologue, 1055-Book 1, 106; f. 5:] //As forto speke
of any sped/ So wiste I me non oþer red…Wher restiþ loue and alle pes/ Oure ioie mai ben endeles. [space] Explicit iste liber qui transiat obsecro liber/ Ut sine livore vigeat lectoris in ore/ Qui sedet in scannis celi det ut ista
Iohannis/ Perpetuis annis stet pagina grata Britannis/ Derbeie Comiti recolunt quem laude periti/ Vade liber purus sub eo
que recumbe futurus. [space] Epistola super huius opusculi sui complementum Iohanni Gower a quodam philosopho transmissa.
[space] Quam cinxere freta Gower tua carmina leta/ Per loca discreta canit Anglia laude repleta/ Carminis athleta Satirus
tibi sive poeta/ Sit laus completa quo gloria stat sine meta. [ff. 170-172v, blank except for added notes; see below]
England, s. XIVex
IMEV 2662; second recension with added passages in Books 5 and 7, the revised dedication to Henry, the revised conclusion on the state
of England and the 6-line explicit dedicated to Henry; f. 50, a substitute, presents readings from the unrevised first recension.
G. C. Macaulay, ed., The English Works of John Gower. EETS es 81-82 (London 1900-01), who prints from this manuscript passages designated by the letter S (for Stafford). See J. H. Fisher, John Gower, Moral Philosopher and Friend of Chaucer (New York 1964) 303-07 for a list and classification of the manuscripts, including EL 26 A 17. The following portions of the text are lost due to
Parchment, ff. ii (paper with watermark dated 1794) + 172 + ii (paper); 353 × 248 (264-262 × 174-172) mm. 18(-2, 7) 2-68 78(-1, 2, 3; the 7th leaf, f. 50, a substitute) 8-98 108(-2, 4, 5, 7) 118(-1, 2) 12-148 158(-7) 16-178 188(-2) 198 208(-1, 2) 218 228(-1, 2) 238 244(+3; the last leaf formerly a pastedown).
Catchwords in lower right margin; sixteenth century quire signatures on the first leaf of quires 2-10 in letters b-k. 2 columns of 46 lines ruled in brown lead with double rules at the 4 sides of the text space, with an additional double rule
across upper margin for running headlines, and with an additional single rule in the outer and inner margins to help delineate
the 18 mm. wide space for gloss. Written in a bastard anglicana script, sometimes using a green-tinged ink (e.g. ff. 119-125 and gloss, ff. 115-116v); f. 50, a substitute, in a different
On f. 1, an 18-line miniature, badly damaged, of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream; on the leaf missing between ff. 5-6, there was presumably
the usual second miniature of the Lover’s confession to Genius (since only 139 lines of text are lacking, instead of the normal
184 per folio).
On f. 1, a full border of regularly intertwining pairs of leaves and vines in gold, blue and dark red (no green), a 6-line
dark red initial on a gold ground, infilled with a coat of arms (see below) and 2 other coats of arms in the outer and lower
borders (see below). Similar 6-line initials in dark red, pink or blue, and intercolumn or top-and-bottom spray borders for
the surviving opening leaves of books: ff. 24 (Book 2), 43v (Book 3), 56 (Book 4), 113 (Book 6); in the inner margin of f.
56, a grotesque, half goat, half soldier in armor. 4- to 2-line gold initials on particolored blue/dark red grounds with white
patterning; 1-line initials alternating blue with red flourishing, or gold with purple; on f. 50, one 2-line and several 1-line
initials in blue with no penwork. Running headlines; subheadings in the margins; chapter numbers in side margins and usually
in the upper right margin of the recto (occasionally of the verso) in early form arabic numerals, s. XV/XVI; some marginalia.
Top outer corner of f. 61 torn off with some loss of text; tears in ff. 89, 90, 117, 124.
Bound, ca. 1800, in English diced russia; rebacked, original spine laid down; f. 172v, once a pastedown, with markings of 6 bands of previous
Written in England, possibly for a member of the house of Lancaster, either John of Gaunt (1340-99) or Henry IV before his accession to the throne (1399), according to the coats of arms on f. 1: within the initial, per pale sable and gules, a swan argent (a Bohun device); in the outer margin, a crest of a lion, collared with label of three points, standing on a chapeau, and below, a shield, quarterly azure and gules (possibly representing England and France; however, although the page is badly rubbed, the shield does not appear to have had the charges of lions and fleurs-de-lis);
in the lower margin, sable, three ostrich feathers argent set in 3 scrolls or; this page reproduced by A. I. Doyle, “English Books In and Out of Court from Edward III to Henry VII,” in English Court Culture in the Later Middle Ages, ed. V. J. Scattergood and J. W. Sherborne (London 1983) pl. 15.
On f. 172, erased possession note, s. XV. On f. 170, possession notes, s. XVIin, of William Downes: “Iste liber pertinet And bear it wel in mynde/ Per me Gulielmum downes so gentelle and so kynde/ A vinculis doloris Iesue
do hym brynge/ Ad vitam etername [sic] to lyfe everlastynge. Amen” (Hanna, “Addenda,” n. 25), and “William Downes mee tenet”; on f. 21, rough strapwork initials, “W[illiam] D[ownes]”; on f. 76, s. XVIex, possession note of Phillip Downes. Notes of an antipapist, s. XVImed, across the upper margins of ff. 30, 60, 66, 77, 91 and 102: “Vacantur nomina paparum, Thomas Bekett & no seynt.” Sixteenth
century notes on f. 171 on the ownership of church lands: “The personage of Gwendrun & Stythians in ye county of Cornewall
percell of ye possessions of ye late monastary of Rewley” and “The personage of Croppreadin in ye county of oxforde in the tenure of one mr chancye
by leace for xxiti yeares grauntid unto hym by kinge Edward ye sixt in ye fyfte yeare of his raigne & paiethe by yeare lvili.” Possibly as many
as 3 people copied medical recipes on otherwise blank leaves at the end of the book: f. 169v: Ayenst the newe Ague Anno domini
D xxxix; A playster for the heedde & temples; A drynk for the same desese; A metsen for the Collec and the stone; ii, f. 171v,
Ayenst the newe Ague; pleyster far [sic] the heedde & temples; iii, f. 172, A Speciall medecyn for the Sickenesse callid þe pestylens. A 6-line poem signed T. P. Goodwynn, s. XVII, on f. 170: “No fortunes frownes shall make me bend/ Wher Reason striketh nott the stroke…” The manuscript owes its appellation
of “Stafford Gower” to the description of it by H. J. Todd, Illustration of the Lives and Writings of Gower and Chaucer (London 1810) 108-09, while in the possession of George Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Marquis of Stafford (aftw. 1st Duke of Sutherland), who had inherited the Bridgewater Library from his uncle, Francis Egerton, 3rd and last Duke of Bridgewater. The designation was used by Macaulay in his edition of the text (1900-01). Bridgewater bookplate on front pastedown and
embossed Bridgewater library stamp on f. ii and f. 1.
Acquired by Henry E. Huntington in 1917 with the Bridgewater Library (see pp. 5-7).
Bibliography: De Ricci, 132.
|Books and Lines
||No. of leaves
||1 and 2
|Prol., 1055-1, 106
||5 and 6
||46 and 47
||68 and 69
||69 and 70
||70 and 71
|4, 3626-5, 274
||71 and 72
||107 and 108
|6, 2357-7, 88
||125 and 126
||139 and 140
|7, 5417-8, 336
||153 and 154
- De Ricci
- S. De Ricci, with the assistance of W. H. Wilson, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (New York 1935-37; index 1940)
- EETS es
- Early English Text Society extra series
- Hanna, “Addenda”
- R. Hanna, “The Index of Middle English Verse and Huntington Library Collections: a Checklist of Addenda,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 74 (1980) 235-58
- C. Brown and R. H. Robbins, Index of Middle English Verse (New York 1943) and Supplement by R. H. Robbins and J. L. Cutler (Lexington 1965)
C. W. Dutschke with the assistance of R. H. Rouse et al., Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (San Marino, 1989). Copyright 1989.
Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California.
Electronic version encoded by Sharon K, Goetz, 2003.
All rights to the cataloguing and images in Digital Scriptorium reside with the contributing institutions.