MRJ number
College classmark
B. 12

    Vellum, 12 x 9.5, ff. 214, in double columns of 39 lines.  15th cent. (lst quarter).  Skin over boards.

    Donor, T. C. S.  Priced at 3li.

    Collaton: 18 -128 (wants 7) 138 148 (wants 1) 158 - 278.

    The following account of the book is given by Mr G. C. Macaulay in his great edition of Gower's Works II, p. cxxxix (among MSS. of the First Recension, revised):


    J.  ST JOHN'S COLL., CAMB.  B 12.  Contains the same as A.  Parchment, ff. 214, 12 x 9.5 inches, in quires of 8 with catchwords: double columns of 39 lines, written in a very neat hand of the first quarter of  15th  century. Latin summaries usually omitted, but most of them inserted up to f. 5 (Prol. 606), and a few here and there in the fifth and seventh books.

    The first page has a complete border, but there are no other decorations except red and blue capitals.  Old wooden binding.

    The seventh leaf of quire 12 (v. 57-213) and the first of quire 14 (v. 1615-1770) are cut out, and a passage of 184 lines is omitted in the first book (i. 631-814) without loss of leaf, which shows that the manuscript from which it was copied, and which here must have lost a leaf, had the normal number of 46 lines to the column.

    Various names, as Thomas Browne, Nicolas Helifax, J. Baynorde, are written in the book, and also 'John Nicholas oweth this book,' with the date 1576.  At the beginning we find 'Tho. C. S.', which stands for 'Thomas Comes Southampton.'  The book was in fact bought with others by Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, from William Crashaw, Fellow of St John' s College, and presented by him to the College Library in the year 1635.

    This MS. gives a text which is nearer to the type of F than that of any other first recension copy.  In the later books especially it seems often to stand alone of its class in agreement with F, as v. 649, 1112, 1339, 1578, 3340, 4351, 4643, 5242, 6059, 6461, 6771, vi. 162, 442, 784, 973, 2089, vii. 445, 1027, 1666, 2424, 3235, 4336, 5348, viii. 13, 239, 747, 845, 1076, 1415, 1456 ff., 2195, 2220, 2228, 2442, 2670 ff., and it is noteworthy that this is the only fist recension copy which supplies the accidental omission  of  'eorum disciplina - materia' in the author's Latin account of the Conf. Amantis at the end.  As regards individual correctness it is rather unequal.  In some places it has many mistakes, as vi. 1509 ff., while in others it is very correct.  The spelling is in most points like that of F, and it is usually good as regards terminations; but the scribe has some peculiarities of his own, which he introduces more or less freely, as 'ho' for 'who,' 'heo' for 'sche'  (pretty regularly), 'heor' for 'her,' 'whech' for 'which.'  It must also be an individual fancy which leads him regularly to substitute 'som tyme' for 'whilom' wherever it occurs.  Punctuation usually agrees with that of F.



        [A receipt in English 'for {th}e strangury' written in first cover.]

        On f. 1: doe well and feare nott.  R. B.

                     anecou kai apecou

                     Sustine et abstine

        and 'John nycolas owethe this book.'  The same at end with date 1576.

        Other names at end are: Dominus thomas browne.  Christopher Whitney.

                                               Nicholas Helyfex.              dous  Egidius hyllyng...

                                               I. Baynorde.

        Verses in 2nd cover:

               Yf on the Rockes of Scilla and caribdis I doe chaunce

               dame thetis shall not shewer prevaile thoughe sauegarde she aduaunce

               not landes not lyvelyhood duringe lyffe my mynde from thee shall take

               not circe with her charmed cuppes shall force me thee forsake

               what shall I saye I wilbe thyne as thow arte myne allweye

               till attroppos doe breke my threede I will thee not denaye.

        On last leaf:               

           mem. quod a. d. m. quingentesimo tricesimo quarto et die mens.  septembris

               decimo quinto erat terre motus magnus mane in aurora ante solis ortum per

               ista anglie confinia ita quod fere omnes turbarentur in lectis.

Manuscript extra information

  Negative microfilm in St John's College Library.

  J. H. Fisher, John Gower: moral philosopher and friend of Chaucer (London, 1965).

  Yuzuru Okumura, 'Spelling variations in Cambridge, St John's College, MS B.12 (34)' in Takashi Suzuki and Tsuyoshi Mukai (eds), Arthurian and Other Studies presented to Shunichi Noguchi  (Cambridge, 1993), 247-55.