The quality of Caxton as a translator is not a matter of much doubt. It may be that the archaic forms give an additional flavour to his style, since they present few difficulties to the modern reader, and yet sound like echoes from the earlier periods of the language. Generally he is content to follow his author with almost plodding fidelity, but occasionally he makes additions which are eminently characteristic. His author having remarked:—“Il nest an Jour Duy nulle chose qui tant grieue Rome ne ytalie com~e fait le college Des notaires publiques Car ilz ne sont mie en accort ensemble”—Caxton improves the passage thus:—
“For ther is no thynge at this day that so moche greueth rome and Italye as doth the college of notaries and aduocates publicque. For they ben not of oon a corde/ Alas and in Engeland what hurte doon the aduocats. men of law. And attorneyes of court to the comyn peple of y’e royame as well in the spirituell lawe as in the temporall/ how torne they the lawe and statutes at their pleasir/ how ete they the peple/ how enpouere they the comynte/ I suppose that in alle Cristendom ar not so many pletars attorneys and men of the lawe as ben in englond onely/ for yf they were nombrid all that lange to the courtes of the channcery kinges benche. comyn place. cheker. ressayt and helle And the bagge berars of the same/ hit shold amounte to a grete multitude And how alle thyse lyue & of whome. yf hit shold be vttrid & told/ hit shold not be beleuyd. For they entende to theyr synguler wele and prouffyt and not to the comyn/”
Another addition is the brief passage in the first chapter of the fourth tract in which the “good old times” are lamented and contrasted with the decadence of the then present—now the four centuries past.
“Alas what haboundance was some tymes in the royames. And what prosite/ In whiche was Iustice/ And euery man in his office contente/ how stood the cytees that tyme in worship and renome/ how was renomed the noble royame of Englond Alle the world dredde hit And spack worship of hit/ how hit now standeth and in what haboundance I reporte me to them that knowe hit yf ther ben theeuis wyth in the royame or on the see/ they knowe that laboure in the royame And sayle on the see I wote well the same is grete therof I pray god saue that noble royame And sende good true and politicque counceyllours to the gouernours of the same &c./”
The concluding paragraph of the book is also due to Caxton.
“And therfore my ryght redoubted lord I pray almighty god to saue the kyng our souerain lord & to gyue hym grace to yssue as a kynge & tabounde in all vertues/ & to be assisted with all other his lordes in such wyse y’t his noble royame of Englond may prospere & habounde in vertues/ and y’t synne may be eschewid iuftice kepte/ the royame defended good men rewarded malefactours punysshid & the ydle peple to be put to laboure that he wyth the nobles of the royame may regne gloriously