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The lymnour's tale of Caroline.

Physical Description:
1 v. ([20] p.) : ill. ; 18 x 26 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
PR3991.S3 L96 1891+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Stitched. Loosely preserved in a padded folder of black morocco, with gilt dentelles and gilt patterned endpapers.
Illustrated manuscript poem, composed in a mocking Middle English style, by an unidentified author. The illustrated title page is signed, "C.E.S. from S.T.S., Xmas 18[9]1." The author is probably Caroline's husband, the titular limner. Writing is in a neat cursive hand, in pen and black ink. The verse is accompanied by nine original watercolor illustrations affixed to pages of the volume.
The verse engages playfully with Chaucer's "Canterbury tales" in style and content. It tells the story of a summer afternoon walk shared by Caroline and her beau or husband (it is not clear whether they are already married at the time of the tale's setting). He is described as "the seely squire ... of lowe degre," while Caroline is portrayed as "of high degre: Of blood of Ancaster was she; And buxom she was and faire to view, And all her geare was fresch and newe." The outing takes a dramatic turn when Caroline falls into a ditch while trying to pick a particular flower. The daydreaming squire, who initially refused to aid her in picking the flower, attempts to help her out of her predicament. The watercolor illustrations show, in vivid detail, Caroline falling and then indignantly refusing the squire's aid. When, fearing an accident with an approaching carriage, he commands her to "rise up!" she at last consents to his aid. They quickly reconcile and the tale closes with the lymnour's admonishment: "So, gentles all that walke with maydes, Fix not your eyes on distant glades; And maydens faire that flowres seech, Grasp not at blossoms beyond your reach, N[o]r go into weedes, upon your lyves, Before ye be widowes [illegible] wyves."
The watercolors are done in a skillful hand, with careful use of color and composition. The illustrations are comical in style and appear to be done by someone familiar with contemporary periodical illustration style.
Subject Terms:
Illuminators -- Poetry.
Humorous pictures.

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