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Though feigned fables of old poetry
Robert Henryson, Fables — a prologue and thirteen fables, mostly in rhyme royal
Note: Critical edition, Fox (1981), 3-110; see Ringler Jr. (1992), TM 70.
Author(s): Robert Henryson
Title(s): Fables
Subjects: fables
Versification: — seven-line, eight-line — ababbcc, ababbcbc



Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: London, British Library Harley 3865, ff. 2-75
First Lines:
Thocht feinȝeit fabillis of ald poetrie
Be not all grunded vpon truth ȝit than…
Last Lines:
…Of saule and lyfe as thow art salmone
Grant ws to pas in till ane blissit hour
Attributed Title: The morall fabillis of Esope compylit be maister Robert Henrisoun Scolmaister of Dunfermling. 1571 (f. 1v)
Editions:
Smith, G. Gregory, ed. The Poems of Robert Henryson. 3 vols. Scottish Text Society 55 (1906), 58 (1908), 64 (1914); rpt. New York, 1968: 3.3-315.
2.Source: Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ 1.1.6 [Bannatyne MS], ff. 326v-342v; 299-302; 310v-317v
First Lines:
Thocht fenȝeit fables of auld poetre
Be nocht grundit all vpoun trewth ȝit than…
Last Lines:
…In glore quhair we may se þe sycht of god
And thus endis þe talking of þe tod
Note: Ten fables of the usu. thirteen, in disarranged order in three groupings.
Attributed Author: Explicit quod maister R Henrysone (f. 342v)
Facsimiles:
Fox, Denton, and William A. Ringler. The Bannatyne Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates’ MS. 1.1.6 London: Scolar Press, in Association with The National Library of Scotland, 1980.
Editions:
Smith, G. Gregory, ed. The Poems of Robert Henryson. 3 vols. Scottish Text Society 55 (1906), 58 (1908), 64 (1914); rpt. New York, 1968: 2.3-315.
Dalrymple, Sir David, Lord Hailes. Ancient Scottish Poems. Edinburgh, 1770; repr. London, 1815: 138-66.
Sibbald, John. Chronicle of Scottish Poetry…. 4 vols. Edinburgh and London, 1802: 1.100.
Murdoch, James Barclay. The Bannatyne Manuscript. 4 vols. in 11 parts, paged continuously. Hunterian Club 16, 32, 40, 46, 50, 55-56, 64-67 Glasgow: Anderson, 1873-1896: 946-88, 856-66, 898-922.
3.Source: Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Library 205, ff. iiva-iiirb
First Lines:
Thowcht fenȝeit fables of auld poetry
be nocht al groundit vpone trewth ȝit þ[ ]…
Last Lines:
…þar foir I [ ]d wil[ ] her say
ga[ ] þar it lay
Note: Prologue and First Fable only, with prose Moralitas at bottom of f. iii; damage to leaf iii with loss of text.
Facsimiles:
Fox, Denton, and William A. Ringler. The Bannatyne Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates’ MS. 1.1.6 London: Scolar Press, in Association with The National Library of Scotland, 1980.
Editions:
Smith, G. Gregory, ed. The Poems of Robert Henryson. 3 vols. Scottish Text Society 55 (1906), 58 (1908), 64 (1914); rpt. New York, 1968: 2.3-315.
Stevenson, George. Pieces from the Makculloch and the Gray MSS. together with The Chepman and Myllar Prints. Scottish Text Society 65. Edinburgh, 1918: 3-8.
Ritchie, W. Tod, ed. The Bannatyne Manuscript. 4 parts in 4 vols. Scottish Text Society 3rd ser. 5 (1928); n.s. 22 (1928); n.s. 23 (1930); n.s. 26 (1934) Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1928-34; ed. by Ritchie et al: 4.117-28, 158-82, 206-45.
4.Source: Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland 16500 [formerly Acc. 4233; Asloan MS], ff. 236-240
First Lines:
Isope myn auctor makis mencioun
Off twa mys and þai war sisteres deir…
Last Lines:
…Off erdly Ioy It beris mast degre
Blythnes in hert with small possessioun
Note: Second Fable only; Nineteenth-century transcription by Gibbs is Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Library La.III.450/1 [olim Laing 450], ff. 38-45v.
Attributed Title: Heir begynnes The tal of þe wplandis mous and þe borowstoun mous (f. 236); heir endis of þe twa mys (f. 240)
Editions:
Smith, G. Gregory, ed. The Poems of Robert Henryson. 3 vols. Scottish Text Society 55 (1906), 58 (1908), 64 (1914); rpt. New York, 1968: 2.3-315.
Craigie, William Alexander. The Asloan Manuscript. 2 vols. Scottish Text Society n.s. 14, 16. Edinburgh, London: Blackwood, 1923, 192: 2.241-9.



Print Witnesses:
1.Source: STC 185. Aesop, The morall fabillis of Esope the phrygian, compylit in eloquent, and ornate Scottis meter, be Maister Robert Henrisone, scholemaister of Dunfermeling, Newlie Imprintit at Edinburgh: Be Robert Lekpreuik, at the expensis of Henrie Charteris: and ar to be sauld in his buith, on the north syde of the gait, abone [sic] the throne., Anno. Do. M. D. LXX [1570] , sigs. A2-M8
First Lines:
Thocht fenȝeit Fabillis of auld Poetrie,
Be nocht all groundit vpon treuth: ȝit than,
Thair polite termis of sweit Rhetorie,
Richt plesand ar vnto the eir of man.…
Last Lines:
…Adew my friend: and gif that ony speiris
Of this fabill, sa schortlie I conclude.
Say thow, I left the laif vnto the freiris,
To mak exempill, and ane similtude
Now Christ for vs that deit on the Rude,
Of Saull, and lyfe, as thow art Saluiour:
Grant vs till pas, in till ane blissit hour.
AMEN
Note: “Imprentit at Edin | burgh be Robert Lekpreuik, at the Expensis of Henrie Charteris, | the xvi. day of Decem | ber: the ȝeir of God ane thousand, | fyue hundreth, thre scoir, | Nyne ȝeiris.” (sig. M8)
Attributed Title: The Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian, Compylit in Eloquent, and Ornate Scottis Meter, be Maister Robert Henrisone, Scholemaister of Dunfermeling (title page)
Editions:
Smith, G. Gregory, ed. The Poems of Robert Henryson. 3 vols. Scottish Text Society 55 (1906), 58 (1908), 64 (1914); rpt. New York, 1968: 1.3-315.
2.Source: STC 185.5. Henryson, Robert, The morall fabillis of Esope the Phrygia[n], compylit in eloquet, & ornate Scottis meter, be M. Robert Henriso[n]e, scolmaister of Dufermlig, Edinburgh: Jnprinted att Edinburgh be me Thomas Bassandyne, dwelland at the nether Bow, Anno. 1571 , sigs. A1-H3v
First Lines:
Thocht feinȝeit fabils of al O Poetre,
Be not al grunded vpon truth ȝit than,
Thair polite termes of sweit Rhetore
Richt plesande ar Vnto the eir of man…
Last Lines:
…Adew my freind: and gif that ony Speiris,
Of this Fabill, sa schortlie I conclude.
Say thow, I left the laif vnto the Freiris
To mak exempill, and ane similitude.
Now Christ for vs that deit on the Rude,
Of saull, and lyfe, as thow art Saluiour:
Grant vs till pas, in till ane blissit hour.
FINIS
Note: “EDINBVRGH Inprinted att Edinburgh be me Thomas Bassandyne, dwelland at the nether Bow Anno. 1571. ”
Attributed Title: THE MORAL FABILLIS OF ESOPE THE | Phrygian, Compylit in Eloquent, & Ornate Scottis me- | er, be M. Robert Henrisone, scolmaii[sic]ter of Dunfermling. (sig. A1)
Editions:
Laing, David. The Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson. Edinburgh: Paterson, 1865: 99, 262, 304.
Gregor, Walter, ed. Ane Treatuse callit The Court of Venus. Scottish Text Society 3. Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1884: 148-53 (part only).
Wood, Henry Harvey. The Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson. Edinburgh, London: Oliver and Boyd, 1933; 2nd ed. rev., 1958: 3-102.
Sibbald, John. Chronicle of Scottish Poetry…. 4 vols. Edinburgh and London, 1802: 1.90-114.
Elliott, Charles, ed. Robert Henryson: Poems. Oxford: Clarendon, 1963/1974: 1-89.
Sisam, Celia, and Kenneth Sisam, eds. The Oxford Book of Medieval English Verse. Oxford: Clarendon, 1970: 457-66 (selection).
Bawcutt, Priscilla J., and Felicity Riddy, eds. Longer Scottish Poem. vol. 1: 1375-1650. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Pr., 1987: 138-70 (3 fables).
Bawcutt, Priscilla J., and Felicity Riddy, eds. Selected Poems of Henryson and Dunbar. Edinburgh: 1992: 1-63 (6 fables).
Pearsall, Derek, ed. Chaucer to Spenser: An Anthology of Writings in English 1375-1575. Oxford and Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1999: 485-502 (4 fables).
Kindrick, Robert L., ed. The Poems of Robert Henryson. Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University for TEAMS, 1997.
3.Source: STC 186.5. Aesop, The fabulous tales of Esope the Phrygian, Euery tale moralized most aptly to this present time, worthy to be read.. compiled moste eloquently in Scottishe metre by Master Robert Henrison, & now lately Englished, [Im]printed at London: by Richard Smith., Anno. 1577 , sigs. A3-G10
First Lines:
LAte passing thorowe Paules Churchyarde
aside I cast mine eye,
And ere I wist, to me appearde
Sir Esope by and by…
Last Lines:
…Now Christ for vs that died on the rood,
Of soule and life, as thou art sauiour,
Graunt vs to passe into a blessed hour.
finished in the vale of Aylesburie the thirteenth
of August. Anno Domini. 1574 [followed by a three-stanza epilogue]
Note: “Imprinted at London by Richard Smith Anno. 1577” (sig. A1)
Attributed Title: The Fabulous tales of | Esope the Phrygian, Compiled | moste eloquently in Scottishe | Metre by Mster Robert | Henrison, & now lately | Englished. | Euery tale Moralized most aptly ta
this present time, worthy | to be read. (sig. A1)
4.Source: STC 186. Aesop, The morall fabl[…] of Esope, the Phrygian. Compyled into eloquent and orn […] meeter, by Robert Henr[…] schoole-ma[…] of Dumfermelin[…], [Im]printed at [Edinburgh: A. Hart, 1621 , sigs. A1-F8
First Lines:
THough fenzed Fables and old Poetrie,
lie not all grounded vpon trueth, yet then
Their polite tearmes of sweete Rhetorie,
Right pleasant are vnto the eares of men.…
Last Lines:
…Adew my friend, and if that any speirs
Of this Fable, so shortly I conclude:
Say yee I left the rest vnto the Friers:
To make example and similitude:
Now Christ for vs that dyed on the Rude,
Of saul and life as thou art Sauiour,
Grant vs to passe to thee in blessed hour.
FINIS
Note: The “Table” comes at the end.
Attributed Title: The MORALL FABL[torn] | of Esope, the Phrygian. | Compyled into eloquent and or[torne] | Meeter, by Robert Henr[torn] | Schole[illegible] of Cvmfermlen[torn] [title page]
Editions:
Stewart, D., ed. The Moral Fables of Robert Henryson Maitland Club 15. Edinburgh: 1832; repr. of The Morall Fables of Esope… by Henrisoun. Edinburgh: A. Hart, 1621 (STC 186).