The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

Group 6

The Physician's Tale

ther was, as telleth titus livius,
     1
A knyght that called was virginius,
     2
Fulfild of honour and of worthynesse,
     3
And strong of freendes, and of greet richesse.
     4
this knyght a doghter hadde by his wyf;
     5
No children hadde he mo in al his lyf.
     6
Fair was this mayde in excellent beautee
     7
Aboven every wight that man may see;
     8
For nature hath with sovereyn diligence
     9
Yformed hire in so greet excellence,
     10
As though she wolde seyn, lo! I, nature,
     11
Thus kan I forme and peynte a creature,
     12
Whan that me list; who kan me countrefete?
     13
Pigmalion noght, though he ay forge and bete,
     14
Or grave, or peynte; for I dar wel seyn,
     15
Apelles, zanzis, sholde werche in veyn
     16
Outher to grave, or peynte, or forge, or bete,
     17
If they presumed me to countrefete.
     18
For he that is the formere principal
     19
Hath maked me his vicaire general,
     20
To forme and peynten erthely creaturis
     21
Right as me list, and ech thyng in my cure is
     22
Under the moone, that may wane and waxe;
     23
And for my werk right no thyng wol I axe;
     24
My lord and I been ful of oon accord.
     25
I made hire to the worshipe of my lord;
     26
So do I alle myne othere creatures,
     27
What colour that they han, or what figures.
     28
Thus semeth me that nature wolde seye.
     29
this mayde of age twelve yeer was and tweye,
     30
In which that nature hadde swich delit.
     31
For right as she kan peynte a lilie whit,
     32
And reed a rose, right with swich peynture
     33
She peynted hath this noble creature,
     34
Er she were born, upon hir lymes fre,
     35
Where as by right swiche colours sholde be;
     36
And phebus dyed hath hire tresses grete
     37
Lyk to the stremes of his burned heete.
     38
And if that excellent was hire beautee,
     39
A thousand foold moore vertuous was she.
     40
In hire ne lakked no condicioun
     41
That is to preyse, as by discrecioun.
     42
As wel in goost as body chast was she;
     43
For which she floured in virginitee
     44
With alle humylitee and abstinence,
     45
With alle attemperaunce and pacience,
     46
With mesure eek of beryng and array.
     47
Discreet she was in answeryng alway;
     48
Though she were wis as pallas, dar I seyn,
     49
Hir facound eek ful wommanly and pleyn,
     50
No countrefeted termes hadde she
     51
To seme wys; but after hir degree
     52
She spak, and alle hire wordes, moore and lesse,
     53
Sownynge in vertu and in gentillesse.
     54
Shamefast she was in maydens shamefastnesse,
     55
Constant in herte, and evere in bisynesse
     56
To dryve hire out of ydel slogardye.
     57
Bacus hadde of hir mouth right no maistrie;
     58
For wyn and youthe dooth venus encresse,
     59
As men in fyr wol casten oille or greesse.
     60
And of hire owene vertu, unconstreyned,
     61
She hath ful ofte tyme syk hire feyned,
     62
For that she wolde fleen the compaignye
     63
Where likly was to treten of folye,
     64
As is at feestes, revels, and at daunces,
     65
That been occasions of daliaunces.
     66
Swich thynges maken children for to be
     67
To soone rype and boold, as men may se,
     68
Which is ful perilous, and hath been yoore.
     69
For al to soone may she lerne loore
     70
Of booldnesse, whan she woxen is a wyf.
     71
and ye maistresses, in youre olde lyf,
     72
That lordes doghtres han in governaunce,
     73
Ne taketh of my wordes no displesaunce.
     74
Thenketh that ye been set in governynges
     75
Of lordes doghtres, oonly for two thynges --
     76
Outher for ye han kept youre honestee,
     77
Of elles ye han falle in freletee,
     78
And knowen wel ynough the olde daunce,
     79
And han forsaken fully swich meschaunce
     80
For everemo; therfore, for cristes sake,
     81
To teche hem vertu looke that ye ne slake.
     82
a theef of venysoun, that hath forlaft
     83
His likerousnesse and al his olde craft,
     84
Kan kepe a forest best of any man.
     85
Now kepeth wel, for if ye wole, ye kan.
     86
Looke wel that ye unto no vice assente,
     87
Lest ye be dampned for youre wikke entente; Page  146
     88
For whoso dooth, a traitour is, certeyn.
     89
And taketh kep of that that I shal seyn --
     90
Of alle tresons sovereyn pestilence
     91
Is whan a wight bitrayseth innocence.
     92
ye fadres and ye moodres eek also,
     93
Though ye han children, be it oon or mo,
     94
Youre is the charge of al hir surveiaunce,
     95
Whil that they been under youre governaunce.
     96
Beth war, that by ensample of youre lyvynge,
     97
Or by youre necligence in chastisynge,
     98
That they ne perisse; for I dar wel seye,
     99
If that they doon, ye shul it deere abeye.
     100
Under a shepherde softe and necligent
     101
The wolf hath many a sheep and lamb torent.
     102
Suffiseth oon ensample now as heere,
     103
For I moot turne agayn to my matere.
     104
this mayde, of which I wol this tale expresse,
     105
So kepte hirself hir neded no maistresse;
     106
For in hir lyvyng maydens myghten rede,
     107
As in a book, every good word or dede
     108
That longeth to a mayden vertuous,
     109
She was so prudent and so bountevous.
     110
For which the fame out sprong on every syde,
     111
Bothe of hir beautee and hir bountee wyde,
     112
That thurgh that land they preised hire echone
     113
That loved vertu, save envye allone,
     114
That sory is of oother mennes wele,
     115
And glad is of his sorwe and his unheele.
     116
(the doctour maketh this descripcioun).
     117
this mayde upon a day wente in the toun
     118
Toward a temple, with hire mooder deere,
     119
As is of yonge maydens the manere.
     120
Now was ther thanne a justice in that toun,
     121
That governour was of that regioun.
     122
And so bifel this juge his eyen caste
     123
Upon this mayde, avysynge hym ful faste,
     124
As she cam forby ther as this juge stood.
     125
Anon his herte chaunged and his mood,
     126
So was he caught with beautee of this mayde,
     127
And to hymself ful pryvely he sayde,
     128
This mayde shal be myn, for any man!
     129
anon the feend into his herte ran,
     130
And taughte hym sodeynly that he by slyghte
     131
The mayden to his purpos wynne myghte.
     132
For certes, by no force ne by no meede,
     133
Hym thoughte, he was nat able for to speede;
     134
For she was strong of freendes, and eek she
     135
Confermed was in swich soverayn bountee,
     136
That wel he wiste he myghte hire nevere wynne
     137
As for to make hire with hir body synne.
     138
For which, by greet deliberacioun,
     139
He sente after a cherl, was in the toun,
     140
Which that he knew for subtil and for boold.
     141
This juge unto this cherl his tale hath toold
     142
In secree wise, and made hym to ensure
     143
He sholde telle it to no creature,
     144
And if he dide, he sholde lese his heed.
     145
Whan that assented was this cursed reed,
     146
Glad was this juge, and maked him greet cheere,
     147
And yaf hym yiftes preciouse and deere.
     148
whan shapen was al hire conspiracie
     149
Fro point to point, how that his lecherie
     150
Parfouned sholde been ful subtilly,
     151
As ye shul heere it after openly,
     152
Hoom gooth the cherl, that highte claudius.
     153
This false juge, that highte apius,
     154
(so was his name, for this is no fable,
     155
But knowen for historial thyng notable;
     156
The sentence of it sooth is, out of doute),
     157
This false juge gooth now faste aboute
     158
To hasten his delit al that he may.
     159
And so bifel soone after, on a day,
     160
This false juge, as telleth us the storie,
     161
As he was wont, sat in his consistorie,
     162
And yaf his doomes upon sondry cas.
     163
This false cherl cam forth a ful greet pas,
     164
And seyde, lord, if that it be youre wille,
     165
As dooth me right upon this pitous bille,
     166
In which I pleyne upon virginius;
     167
And if that he wol seyn it is nat thus,
     168
I wol it preeve, and fynde good witnesse,
     169
That sooth is that my bille wol expresse.
     170
the juge answerde, of this, in his absence,
     171
I may nat yeve diffynytyf sentence.
     172
Lat do hym calle, and I wol gladly heere;
     173
Thou shalt have al right, and no wrong heere.
     174
virginius cam to wite the juges wille,
     175
And right anon was rad this cursed bille;
     176
The sentence of it was as ye shul heere --
     177
to yow, my lord, sire apius so deere,
     178
Sheweth youre povre servant claudius
     179
How that a knyght, called virginius,
     180
Agayns the lawe, agayn al equitee,
     181
Holdeth, expres agayn the wyl of me,
     182
My servant, which that is my thral by right,
     183
Which fro myn hous was stole upon a nyght,
     184
Whil that she was ful yong; this wol I preeve
     185
By witnesse, lord, so that it nat yow greeve.
     186
She nys his doghter nat, what so he seye.
     187
Wherfore to yow, my lord the juge, I preye,
     188
Yeld me my thral, if that it be youre wille.
     189
Lo, this was al the sentence of his bille.
     190
virginius gan upon the cherl biholde,
     191
But hastily, er he his tale tolde,
     192
And wolde have preeved it as sholde a knyght,
     193
And eek by witnessyng of many a wight, Page  147
     194
That al was fals that seyde his adversarie,
     195
This cursed juge wolde no thyng tarie,
     196
Ne heere a word moore of virginius,
     197
But yaf his juggement, and seyde thus --
     198
I deeme anon this cherl his servant have;
     199
Thou shalt no lenger in thyn hous hir save.
     200
Go bryng hire forth, and put hire in oure warde.
     201
The cherl shal have his thral, this I awarde.
     202
and whan this worthy knyght virginius,
     203
Thurgh sentence of this justice apius,
     204
Moste by force his deere doghter yiven
     205
Unto the juge, in lecherie to lyven,
     206
He gooth hym hoom, and sette him in his halle,
     207
And leet anon his deere doghter calle,
     208
And with a face deed as asshen colde
     209
Upon hir humble face he gan biholde,
     210
With fadres pitee stikynge thurgh his herte,
     211
Al wolde he from his purpos nat converte.
     212
doghter, quod he, virginia, by thy name,
     213
Ther been two weyes, outher deeth or shame,
     214
That thou most suffre; allas, that I was bore!
     215
For nevere thou deservedest wherfore
     216
To dyen with a swerd or with a knyf.
     217
O deere doghter, endere of my lyf,
     218
Which I have fostred up with swich plesaunce
     219
That thou were nevere out of my remembraunce!
     220
O doghter, which that art my laste wo,
     221
And in my lyf my laste joye also,
     222
O gemme of chastitee, in pacience
     223
Take thou thy deeth, for this is my sentence.
     224
For love, and nat for hate, thou most be deed;
     225
My pitous hand moot smyten of thyn heed.
     226
Allas, that evere apius the say!
     227
Thus hath he falsly jugged the to-day --
     228
And tolde hire al the cas, as ye bifore
     229
Han herd; nat nedeth for to telle it moore.
     230
o mercy, deere fader! quod this mayde,
     231
And with that word she bothe hir armes layde
     232
Aboute his nekke, as she was wont to do.
     233
The teeris bruste out of hir eyen two,
     234
And seyde, goode fader, shal I dye?
     235
Is ther no grace, is ther no remedye?
     236
no, certes, deere doghter myn, quod he.
     237
thanne yif me leyser, fader myn, quod she,
     238
My deeth for to compleyne a litel space;
     239
For, pardee, jepte yaf his doghter grace
     240
For to compleyne, er he hir slow, allas!
     241
And, God it woot, no thyng was hir trespas,
     242
But for she ran hir fader first to see,
     243
To welcome hym with greet solempnitee.
     244
And with that word she fil aswowne anon,
     245
And after, whan hir swownyng is agon,
     246
She riseth up, and to hir fader sayde,
     247
Blissed be god, that I shal dye a mayde!
     248
Yif me my deeth, er that I have a shame;
     249
Dooth with youre child youre wyl, a goddes name!
     250
and with that word she preyed hym ful ofte
     251
That with his swerd he sholde smyte softe;
     252
And with that word aswowne doun she fil.
     253
Hir fader, with ful sorweful herte and wil,
     254
Hir heed of smoot, and by the top it hente,
     255
And to the juge he gan it to presente,
     256
As he sat yet in doom in consistorie.
     257
And whan the juge it saugh, as seith the storie,
     258
He bad to take hym and anhange hym faste;
     259
But right anon a thousand peple in thraste,
     260
To save the knyght, for routhe and for pitee,
     261
For knowen was the false iniquitee.
     262
The peple anon had suspect in this thyng,
     263
By manere of the cherles chalangyng,
     264
That it was by the assent of apius;
     265
They wisten wel that he was lecherus.
     266
For which unto this apius they gon,
     267
And caste hym in prisoun right anon,
     268
Ther as he slow hymself; and claudius,
     269
That servant was unto this apius,
     270
Was demed for to hange upon a tree,
     271
But that virginius, of his pitee,
     272
So preyde for hym that he was exiled;
     273
And elles, certes, he had been bigyled.
     274
The remenant were anhanged, moore and lesse,
     275
That were consentant of this cursednesse,
     276
heere may men seen how synne hath his merite.
     277
Beth war, for no man woot whom God wol smyte
     278
In no degree, ne in which manere wyse
     279
The worm of conscience may agryse
     280
Of wikked lyf, though it so pryvee be
     281
That no man woot therof but God and he.
     282
For be he lewed man, or ellis lered,
     283
He noot how soone that he shal been afered.
     284
Therfore I rede yow this conseil take --
     285
Forsaketh synne, er synne yow forsake.
     286
Page  148

The Introduction to the Pardoner's Tale

Oure hooste gan to swere as he were wood;
     287
Harrow! quod he, by nayles and by blood!
     288
This was a fals cherl and a fals justise.
     289
As shameful deeth as herte may devyse
     290
Come to thise juges and hire advocatz!
     291
Algate this sely mayde is slayn, allas!
     292
Allas, to deere boughte she beautee!
     293
Wherfore I seye al day that men may see
     294
That yiftes of fortune and of nature
     295
Been cause of deeth to many a creature.
     296
Hire beautee was hire deth, I dar wel sayn.
     297
Allas, so pitously as she was slayn!
     298
Of bothe yiftes that I speke of now
     299
Men han ful ofte moore for harm than prow.
     300
But trewely, myn owene maister deere,
     301
This is a pitous tale for to heere.
     302
But nathelees, passe over, is no fors.
     303
I pray to God so save thy gentil cors,
     304
And eek thyne urynals and thy jurdones,
     305
Thyn ypocras, and eek thy galiones,
     306
And every boyste ful of the letuarie;
     307
God blesse hem, and oure lady seinte marie!
     308
So moot I theen, thou art a propre man,
     309
And lyk a prelat, by seint ronyan!
     310
Seyde I nat wel? I kan nat speke in terme;
     311
But wel I woot thou doost myn herte to erme,
     312
That I almoost have caught a cardynacle.
     313
By corpus bones! but I have triacle,
     314
Or elles a draughte of moyste and corny ale,
     315
Or but I heere anon a myrie tale,
     316
Myn herte is lost for pitee of this mayde.
     317
Thou beel amy, thou pardoner, he sayde,
     318
Telle us som myrthe or japes right anon.
     319
it shal be doon, quod he, by seint ronyon!
     320
But first, quod he, heere at this alestake
     321
I wol bothe drynke and eten of a cake.
     322
but right anon thise gentils gonne to crye,
     323
Nay, lat hym telle us of no ribaudye!
     324
Telle us som moral thyng, that we may leere
     325
Som wit, and thanne wol we gladly heere.
     326
I graunte, ywis, quod he, but I moot thynke
     327
Upon som honest thyng while that I drynke.
     328

The Pardoner's Prologue

lordynges, quod he, in chirches whan I preche,
     329
I peyne me to han an hauteyn speche,
     330
And rynge it out as round as gooth a belle,
     331
For I kan al by rote that I telle.
     332
My theme is alwey oon, and evere was --
     333
Radix malorum est cupiditas.
     334
first I pronounce wheenes that I come,
     335
And thanne my bulles shewe I, alle and some.
     336
Oure lige lordes seel on my patente,
     337
That shewe I first, my body to warente,
     338
That no man be so boold, ne preest ne clerk,
     339
Me to destourbe of cristes hooly werk.
     340
And after that thanne telle I forth my tales;
     341
Bulles of popes and of cardynales,
     342
Of patriarkes and bishopes I shewe
     343
And in latyn I speke a wordes fewe,
     344
To saffron with my predicacioun,
     345
And for to stire hem to devocioun.
     346
Thanne shewe I forth my longe cristal stones,
     347
Ycrammed ful of cloutes and of bones, --
     348
Relikes been they, as wenen they echoon.
     349
Thanne have I in latoun a sholder-boon
     350
Which that was of an hooly jewes sheep.
     351
Goode men, I seye, taak of my wordes keep;
     352
If that this boon be wasshe in any welle,
     353
If cow, or calf, or sheep, or oxe swelle
     354
That any worm hath ete, or worm ystonge,
     355
Taak water of that welle and wassh his tonge,
     356
And it is hool anon; and forthermoore, Page  149
     357
Of pokkes and of scabbe, and every soore
     358
Shal every sheep be hool that of this welle
     359
Drynketh a draughte. Taak kep eek what I telle --
     360
If that the good-man that the beestes oweth
     361
Wol every wyke, er that the cok hym croweth,
     362
Fastynge, drynken of this welle a draughte,
     363
As thilke hooly jew oure eldres taughte,
     364
His beestes and his stoor shal multiplie.
     365
and, sires, also it heeleth jalousie;
     366
For though a man be falle in jalous rage,
     367
Lat maken with this water his potage,
     368
And nevere shal he moore his wyf mystriste,
     369
Though he the soothe of hir defaute wiste,
     370
Al had she taken prestes two or thre.
     371
heere is a miteyn eek, that ye may se.
     372
He that his hand wol putte in this mitayn,
     373
He shal have multipliyng of his grayn,
     374
Whan he hath sowen, be it whete or otes,
     375
So that he offre pens, or elles grotes.
     376
goode men and wommen, o thyng warne I yow --
     377
If any wight be in this chirche now
     378
That hath doon synne horrible, that he
     379
Dar nat, for shame, of it yshryven be,
     380
Or any womman, be she yong or old,
     381
That hath ymaad hir housbonde cokewold,
     382
Swich folk shal have no power ne no grace
     383
To offren to my relikes in this place.
     384
And whoso fyndeth hym out of swich blame,
     385
He wol come up and offre in goddes name,
     386
And I assoille him by the auctoritee
     387
Which that by bulle ygraunted was to me.
     388
by this gaude have I wonne, yeer by yeer,
     389
An hundred mark sith I was pardoner.
     390
I stonde lyk a clerk in my pulpet,
     391
And whan the lewed peple is doun yset,
     392
I preche so as ye han herd bifoore,
     393
And telle an hundred false japes moore.
     394
Thanne peyne I me to strecche forth the nekke,
     395
And est and west upon the peple I bekke,
     396
As dooth a dowve sittynge on a berne.
     397
Myne handes and my tonge goon so yerne
     398
That it is joye to se my bisynesse.
     399
Of avarice and of swich cursednesse
     400
Is al my prechyng, for to make hem free
     401
To yeven hir pens, and namely unto me.
     402
For myn entente is nat but for to wynne,
     403
And nothyng for correccioun of synne.
     404
I rekke nevere, whan that they been beryed,
     405
Though that hir soules goon a-blakeberyed!
     406
For certes, many a predicacioun
     407
Comth ofte tyme of yvel entencioun;
     408
Som for plesance of folk and flaterye,
     409
To been avaunced by ypocrisye,
     410
And som for veyne glorie, and som for hate.
     411
For whan I dar noon oother weyes debate,
     412
Thanne wol I stynge hym with my tonge smerte
     413
In prechyng, so that he shal nat asterte
     414
To been defamed falsly, if that he
     415
Hath trespased to my bretheren or to me.
     416
For though I telle noght his propre name,
     417
Men shal wel knowe that it is the same,
     418
By signes, and by othere circumstances.
     419
Thus quyte I folk that doon us displesances;
     420
Thus spitte I out my venym under hewe
     421
Of hoolynesse, to semen hooly and trewe.
     422
but shortly myn entente I wol devyse --
     423
I preche of no thyng but for coveityse.
     424
Therfore my theme is yet, and evere was,
     425
Radix malorum est cupiditas.
     426
Thus kan I preche agayn that same vice
     427
Which that I use, and that is avarice.
     428
But though myself be gilty in that synne,
     429
Yet kan I maken oother folk to twynne
     430
From avarice, and soore to repente.
     431
But that is nat my principal entente;
     432
I preche nothyng but for coveitise.
     433
Of this mateere it oghte ynogh suffise.
     434
thanne telle I hem ensamples many oon
     435
Of olde stories longe tyme agoon.
     436
For lewed peple loven tales olde;
     437
Swiche thynges kan they wel reporte and holde.
     438
What, trowe ye, that whiles I may preche,
     439
And wynne gold and silver for I teche,
     440
That I wol lyve in poverte wilfully?
     441
Nay, nay, I thoghte it nevere, trewwly!
     442
For I wol preche and begge in sondry landes;
     443
I wol nat do no labour with myne handes,
     444
Ne make baskettes, and lyve therby,
     445
By cause I wol nat beggen ydelly.
     446
I wol noon of the apostles countrefete;
     447
I wol have moneie, wolle, chese, and whete,
     448
Al were it yeven of the povereste page,
     449
Or of the povereste wydwe in a village,
     450
Al sholde hir children sterve for famyne.
     451
Nay, I wol drynke licour of the vyne,
     452
And have a joly wenche in every toun.
     453
But herkneth, lordynges, in conclusioun --
     454
Youre likyng is that I shal telle a tale.
     455
Now have I dronke a draughte of corny ale,
     456
By god, I hope I shal yow telle a thyng
     457
That shal be reson been at youre likyng.
     458
For though myself be a ful vicious man,
     459
A moral tale yet I yow telle kan,
     460
Which I am wont to preche for to wynne.
     461
Now hoold youre pees! my tale I wol bigynne.
     462
Page  150

The Pardoner's Tale

in flaundres whilom was a compaignye
     463
Of yonge folk that haunteden folye,
     464
As riot, hasard, stywes, and tavernes,
     465
Where as with harpes, lutes, and gyternes,
     466
They daunce and pleyen at dees bothe day and nyght,
     467
And eten also and drynken over hir myght,
     468
Thurgh which they doon the devel sacrifise
     469
Withinne that develes temple, in cursed wise,
     470
By superfluytee abhomynable.
     471
Hir othes been so grete and so dampnable
     472
That it is grisly for to heere hem swere.
     473
Oure blissed lordes body they totere, --
     474
Hem thoughte that jewes rente hym noght ynough;
     475
And ech of hem at otheres synne lough.
     476
And right anon thanne comen tombesteres
     477
Fetys and smale, and yonge frutesteres,
     478
Syngeres with harpes, baudes, wafereres,
     479
Whiche been the verray develes officeres
     480
To kyndle and blowe the fyr of lecherye,
     481
That is annexed unto glotonye.
     482
The hooly writ take I to my witnesse
     483
That luxurie is in wyn and dronkenesse.
     484
lo, how that dronken looth, unkyndely,
     485
Lay by his doghtres two, unwityngly;
     486
So dronke he was, he nyste what he wroughte.
     487
herodes, whoso wel the stories soghte,
     488
Whan he of wyn was repleet at his feeste,
     489
Right at his owene table he yaf his heeste
     490
To sleen the baptist john, ful giltelees.
     491
senec seith a good word doutelees;
     492
He seith he kan no difference fynde
     493
Bitwix a man that is out of his mynde
     494
And a man which that is dronkelewe,
     495
But that woodnessse, yfallen in a shrewe,
     496
Persevereth lenger than doth dronkenesse.
     497
O glotonye, ful of cursednesse!
     498
O cause first of oure confusioun!
     499
O original of oure dampnacioun,
     500
Til crist hadde boght us with his blood agayn!
     501
Lo, how deere, shortly for to sayn,
     502
Aboght was thilke cursed vileynye
     503
Corrupt was al this world for glotonye.
     504
adam oure fader, and his wyf also,
     505
Fro paradys to labour and to wo
     506
Were dryven for that vice, it is no drede.
     507
For whil that adam fasted, as I rede,
     508
He was in paradys; and whan that he
     509
Eet of the fruyt deffended on the tree,
     510
Anon he was out cast to wo and peyne.
     511
O glotonye, on thee wel oghte us pleyne!
     512
O, wiste a man how manye maladyes
     513
Folwen of excesse and of glotonyes,
     514
He wolde been the moore mesurable
     515
Of his diete, sittynge at his table.
     516
Allas! the shorte throte, the tendre mouth,
     517
Maketh that est and west and north and south,
     518
In erthe, in eir, in water, men to swynke
     519
To gete a glotoun deyntee mete and drynke!
     520
Of this matiere, o paul, wel kanstow trete --
     521
Mete unto wombe, and wombe eek unto mete,
     522
Shal God destroyen bothe, as paulus seith.
     523
Allas! a foul thyng is it, by my feith,
     524
To seye this word, and fouler is the dede,
     525
Whan man so drynketh of the white and rede
     526
That of his throte be maketh his pryvee,
     527
Thurgh thilke cursed superfluitee.
     528
the apostel wepyng seith ful pitously,
     529
Ther walken manye of whiche yow toold have I --
     530
I seye it now wepyng, with pitous voys --
     531
That they been enemys of cristes croys,
     532
Of whiche the ende is deeth, wombe is hir god!
     533
O wombe! o bely! o stynkyng cod,
     534
Fulfilled of dong and of corrupcioun!
     535
At either ende of thee foul is the soun.
     536
How greet labour and cost is thee to fynde!
     537
Thise cookes, how they stampe, and streyne, and grynde,
     538
And turnen substaunce into accident,
     539
To fulfille al thy likerous talent!
     540
Out of the harde bones knokke they
     541
The mary, for they caste noght awey
     542
That may go thurgh the golet softe and swoote.
     543
Of spicerie of leef, and bark, and roote
     544
Shal been his sauce ymaked by delit,
     545
To make hym yet a newer appetit.
     546
But, certes, he that haunteth swiche delices
     547
Is deed, whil that he lyveth in tho vices.
     548
a lecherous thyng is wyn, and dronkenesse
     549
Is ful of stryvyng and of wrecchednesse.
     550
O dronke man, disfigured is thy face,
     551
Sour is thy breeth, foul artow to embrace,
     552
And thurgh thy dronke nose semeth the soun Page  151
     553
As though thou seydest as sampsoun, sampsoun!
     554
And yet, God woot, sampsoun drank nevere no wyn.
     555
Thou fallest as it were a styked swyn;
     556
Thy tonge is lost, and al thyn honeste cure;
     557
For dronkenesse is verray sepulture
     558
Of mannes wit and his discrecioun.
     559
In whom that drynke hath dominacioun
     560
He kan no conseil kepe, it is no drede.
     561
Now kepe yow fro the white and fro the rede,
     562
And namely fro the white wyn of lepe,
     563
That is to selle in fysshstrete or in chepe.
     564
This wyn of spaigne crepeth subtilly
     565
In othere wynes, growynge faste by,
     566
Of which ther ryseth swich fumositee
     567
That whan a man hath dronken draughtes thre,
     568
And weneth that he be at hoom in chepe,
     569
He is in spaigne, right at the toune of lepe, --
     570
Nat at the rochele, ne at burdeux toun;
     571
And thanne wol he seye sampsoun, sampsoun!
     572
but herkneth, lordynges, o word, I yow preye,
     573
That alle the sovereyn actes,dar I seye,
     574
Of victories in the olde testament,
     575
Thurgh verray god, that is omnipotent,
     576
Were doon in abstinence and in preyere.
     577
Looketh the bible, and ther ye may it leere.
     578
looke, attila, the grete conquerour,
     579
Deyde in his sleep, with shame and dishonour,
     580
Bledynge ay at his nose in dronkenesse.
     581
A capitayn sholde lyve in sobrenesse.
     582
And over al this, avyseth yow right wel
     583
What was comaunded unto lamuel --
     584
Nat samuel, but lamuel, seye I;
     585
Redeth the bible, and fynde it expresly
     586
Of wyn-yevyng to hem that han justise.
     587
Namoore of this, for it may wel suffise.
     588
and now that I have spoken of glotonye,
     589
Now wol I yow deffenden hasardrye.
     590
Hasard is verray mooder of lesynges,
     591
And of deceite, and cursed forswerynges,
     592
Blaspheme of crist, manslaughtre, and wast also
     593
Of catel and of tyme; and forthermo,
     594
It is repreeve and contrarie of honour
     595
For to ben holde a commune hasardour.
     596
And ever the hyer he is of estaat.
     597
The moore is he yholden desolaat.
     598
If that a prynce useth hasardrye.
     599
In alle governaunce and policye
     600
He is, as by commune opinioun,
     601
Yholde the lasse in reputacioun.
     602
stilboun, that was a wys embassadour,
     603
Was sent to corynthe, in ful greet honour,
     604
Fro lacidomye, to make hire alliaunce.
     605
And whan he cam, hym happede, par chaunce,
     606
That alle the gretteste that were of that lond,
     607
Pleyynge atte hasard he hem fond.
     608
For which, as soone as it myghte be,
     609
He stal hym hoom agayn to his contree,
     610
And seyde, ther wol I nat lese my name,
     611
Ne I wol nat take on me so greet defame,
     612
Yow for to allie unto none hasardours.
     613
Sendeth othere wise embassadours;
     614
For, by my trouthe, me were levere dye
     615
That I yow sholde to hasardours allye.
     616
For ye, that been so glorious in honours,
     617
Shul nat allyen yow with hasadours
     618
As by my wyl, ne as by my tretee.
     619
This wise philosophre, thus seyde hee.
     620
looke eek that to the kyng demetrius,
     621
The kyng of parthes, as the book seith us,
     622
Sente him a paire of dees of gold in scorn,
     623
For he hadde used hasard ther-biforn;
     624
For which he heeld his glorie or his renoun
     625
At no value or reputacioun.
     626
Lordes nay fynden oother maner pley
     627
Honest ynough to dryve the day awey.
     628
now wol I speke of othes false and grete
     629
A word or two, as olde bookes trete.
     630
Gret sweryng is a thyng abhominable,
     631
And fals sweryng is yet moore reprevable.
     632
The heighe God forbad sweryng at al,
     633
Witnesse on mathew; but in special
     634
Of sweryng seith the hooly jeremye,
     635
Thou shalt swere sooth thyne othes, and nat lye,
     636
And swere in doom, and eek in rightwisnesse;
     637
But ydel sweryng is a cursednesse.
     638
Bihoold and se that in the firste table
     639
Of heighe goddes heestes honurable,
     640
Hou that the seconde heeste of hym is this --
     641
Take nat my name in ydel or amys.
     642
Lo, rather be forbedeth swich sweryng
     643
Than homycide or many a cursed thyng;
     644
I seye that, as by ordre, thus it stondeth;
     645
This knoweth, that his heestes understondeth,
     646
How that the seconde heeste of God is that.
     647
And forther over, I wol thee telle al plat,
     648
That vengeance shal nat parten from his hous
     649
That of his othes is to outrageous.
     650
By goddes precious herte, and by his nayles,
     651
And by the blood of crist that is in hayles,
     652
Sevene is my chaunce, and thyn is cynk and treye! Page  152
     653
By goddes armes, if thou falsly pleye,
     654
This daggere shal thurghout thyn herte go! --
     655
This fruyt cometh of the bicched bones two,
     656
Forsweryng, ire, falsnesse, homycide.
     657
Now, for the love of crist, that for us dyde,
     658
Lete youre othes, bothe grete and smale.
     659
But, sires, now wol I telle forth my tale.
     660
thise riotoures thre of which I telle,
     661
Longe erst er prime rong of any belle,
     662
Were set hem in a taverne for to drynke,
     663
And as they sat, they herde a belle clynke
     664
Biforn a cors, was caried to his grave.
     665
That oon of hem gan callen to his knave --
     666
Go bet, quod he, and axe redily
     667
What cors is this that passeth heer forby;
     668
And looke that thou reporte his name weel.
     669
sire, quod this boy, it nedeth never-a-deel;
     670
It was me toold er ye cam heer two houres.
     671
He was, pardee, an old felawe of youres;
     672
And sodeynly he was yslayn to-nyght,
     673
Fordronke, as he sat on his bench upright.
     674
Ther can a privee theef men clepeth deeth,
     675
That in this contree al the peple sleth,
     676
And with his spere he smoot his herte atwo,
     677
And wente his wey withouten wordes mo.
     678
He hath a thousand slayn this pestilence.
     679
And, maister, er ye come in his presence.
     680
Me thynketh that it were necessarie
     681
For to be war of swich an adversarie.
     682
Beth redy for to meete hym everemoore;
     683
Thus taughte me my dame; I sey namoore.
     684
By seinte marie! seyde this taverner,
     685
The child seith sooth, for he hath slayn this yeer,
     686
Henne over a mile, withinne a greet village,
     687
Bothe man and womman, child, and hyne, and page;
     688
I trowe his habitacioun be there.
     689
To been avysed greet wysdom it were,
     690
Er that he dide a man a dishonour.
     691
ye, goddes armes! quod this riotour,
     692
Is it swich peril with hym for to meete?
     693
I shal hym seke by wey and eek by strete,
     694
I make avow to goddes digne bones!
     695
Herkneth, felawes, we thre been al ones;
     696
Lat ech of us holde up his hand til oother,
     697
And ech of us bicomen otheres brother.
     698
And we wol sleen this false traytour deeth.
     699
He shal be slayn, he that so manye sleeth,
     700
By goddes dignitee, er it be nyght!
     701
togidres han thise thre hir trouthes plight
     702
To lyve and dyen ech of hem for oother,
     703
As though he were his owene ybore brother.
     704
And up they stirte, al dronken in this rage,
     705
And forth they goon towardes that village
     706
Of which the taverner hadde spoke biforn.
     707
And many a grisly ooth thanne han they sworn,
     708
And cristes blessed body al torente --
     709
Deeth shal be deed, if that they may hym hente!
     710
whan they han goon nat fully half a mile,
     711
Right as they wolde han troden over a stile,
     712
An oold man and a povre with hem mette.
     713
This olde man ful mekely hem grette,
     714
And seyde thus, now, lordes, God yow see!
     715
the proudeste of thise riotoures three
     716
Answerde agayn, what, carl, with sory grace!
     717
Why artow al forwrapped save thy face?
     718
Why lyvestow so longe in so greet age?
     719
this olde man gan looke in his visage,
     720
And seyde thus -- for I ne kan nat fynde
     721
A man, though that I walked into ynde,
     722
Neither in citee ne in no village,
     723
That wolde chaunge his youthe for myn age;
     724
And therfore moot I han myn age stille,
     725
As longe tyme as it is goddes wille.
     726
Ne deeth, allas! ne wol nat han my lyf
     727
Thus walke I, lyk a restelees kaitif,
     728
And on the ground, which is my moodres gate,
     729
I knokke with my staf, bothe erly and late,
     730
And seye leeve mooder, leet me in!
     731
Lo how I vanysshe, flessh, and blood, and skyn!
     732
Allas! whan shul my bones been at reste?
     733
Mooder, with yow wolde I chaunge my cheste
     734
That in my chambre longe tyme hath be,
     735
Ye, for an heyre clowt to wrappe in me!
     736
But yet to me she wol nat do that grace,
     737
For which ful pale and welked is my face.
     738
but, sires, to yow it is no curteisye
     739
To speken to an old man vileynye,
     740
But he trespasse in word, or elles in dede.
     741
In hooly writ ye may yourself wel rede --
     742
Agayns an oold man, hoor upon his heed,
     743
Ye sholde arise; wherfore I yeve yow reed,
     744
Ne dooth unto an oold man noon harm now,
     745
Namoore than that ye wolde men did to yow
     746
In age, if that ye so longe abyde.
     747
And God be with yow, where ye go or ryde!
     748
I moot go thider as I have to go.
     749
nay, olde cherl, by god, thou shalt not so,
     750
Seyde this oother hasardour anon;
     751
Thou partest nat so lightly, by seint john!
     752
Thou spak right now of thilke traytour deeth,
     753
That in this contree alle oure freendes sleeth.
     754
Have heer my trouthe, as thou art his espye,
     755
Telle where he is, or thou shalt it abye,
     756
By god, and by the hooly sacrement! Page  153
     757
For soothly thou art oon of his assent
     758
To sleen us yonge folk, thou false theef!
     759
now, sires, quod he, if that yow be so leef
     760
To fynde deeth, turne up this croked wey,
     761
For in that grove I lafte hym, by my fey,
     762
Under a tree, and there he wole abyde;
     763
Noght for youre boost he wole him no thyng hyde.
     764
Se ye that ook? right there ye shal hym fynde.
     765
God save yow, that boghte agayn mankynde,
     766
And yow amende! thus seyde this olde man;
     767
And everich of thise riotoures ran
     768
Til he cam to that tree, and ther they founde
     769
Of floryns fyne of gold ycoyned rounde
     770
Wel ny an eighte busshels, as hem thoughte.
     771
No lenger thanne after deeth they soughte,
     772
But ech of hem so glad was of that sighte,
     773
For that the floryns been so faire and brighte,
     774
That doun they sette hem by this precious hoord.
     775
The worste of hem, he spak the firste word.
     776
bretheren, quod he, taak kep what that I seye;
     777
My wit is greet, though that I bourde and pleye.
     778
This tresor hath fortune unto us yiven,
     779
In myrthe and joliftee oure lyf to lyven,
     780
And lightly as it comth, so wol we spende.
     781
Ey! goddes precious dignitee! who wende
     782
To-day that we sholde han so fair a grace?
     783
But myghte this gold be caried fro this place
     784
Hoom to myn hous, or elles unto youres --
     785
For wel ye woot that al this gold is oures --
     786
Thanne were we in heigh felicitee.
     787
But trewely, by daye it may nat bee.
     788
Men wolde seyn that we were theves stronge,
     789
And for oure owene tresor doon us honge.
     790
This tresor moste ycaried be by nyghte
     791
As wisely and as slyly as it myghte.
     792
Wherfore I rede that cut among us alle
     793
Be drawe, and lat se wher the cut wol falle;
     794
And he that hath the cut with herte blithe
     795
Shal renne to the toun, and that ful swithe,
     796
And brynge us breed and wyn ful prively.
     797
And two of us shul kepen subtilly
     798
This tresor wel; and if he wol nat tarie,
     799
Whan it is nyght, we wol this tresor carie,
     800
By oon assent, where as us thynketh best.
     801
That oon of hem the cut broghte in his fest,
     802
And bad hem drawe, and looke where it wol falle;
     803
And if fil on the yongeste of hem alle,
     804
And forth toward the toun he wente anon.
     805
And also soone as that he was gon,
     806
That oon of hem spak thus unto that oother --
     807
Thou knowest wel tho art my sworen brother;
     808
Thy profit wol I telle thee anon.
     809
Thou woost wel that oure felawe is agon.
     810
And heere is gold, and that ful greet plentee,
     811
That shal departed been among us thre.
     812
But nathelees, if I kan shape it so
     813
That it departed were among us two,
     814
Hadde I nat doon a freendes torn to thee?
     815
that oother answerde, I noot hou that may be.
     816
He woot wel that the gold is with us tweye;
     817
What shal we doon? what shal we to hym seye?
     818
shal it be conseil? seyde the firste shrewe,
     819
And I shal tellen in a wordes fewe
     820
What we shal doon, and brynge it wel aboute.
     821
I graunte, quod that oother, out of doute,
     822
That, by my trouthe, I wol thee nat biwreye.
     823
now, quod the firste, thou woost wel we be tweye;
     824
And two of us shul strenger be than oon.
     825
Looke whan that he is set, that right anoon
     826
Arys as though thou woldest with hym pleye,
     827
And I shal ryve hym thurgh the sydes tweye
     828
Whil that thou strogelest with hym as in game,
     829
And with thy daggere looke thou do the same;
     830
And thanne shal al this gold departed be,
     831
My deere freend, bitwixen me and thee.
     832
Thanne may we bothe oure lustes all fulfille,
     833
And pleye at dees right at oure owene wille.
     834
And thus acorded been thise shrewes tweye
     835
To sleen the thridde, as ye han herd me seye.
     836
this yongeste, which that wente to the toun,
     837
Ful ofte in herte he rolleth up and doun
     838
The beautee of thise floryns newe and brighte.
     839
O lord! quod he, if so were that I myghte
     840
Have al this tresor to myself allone,
     841
Ther is no man that lyveth under the trone
     842
Of God that sholde lyve so murye as i!
     843
And atte laste the feend, oure enemy,
     844
Putte in his thought that he sholde poysen beye,
     845
With which he myghte sleen his felawes tweye;
     846
For-why the feend foond hym in swich lyvynge
     847
That he hadde leve him to sorwe brynge.
     848
For this was outrely his fulle entente,
     849
To sleen hem bothe, and nevere to repente.
     850
And forth he gooth, no lenger wolde he tarie,
     851
Into the toun, unto a pothecarie,
     852
And preyde hym that he hym wolde selle
     853
Som poyson, that he myghte his rattes quelle;
     854
And eek ther was a polcat in his hawe, Page  154
     855
That, as he seyde, his capouns hadde yslawe,
     856
And fayn he wolde wreke hym, if he myghte,
     857
On vermyn that destroyed hym by nyghte.
     858
the pothecarie answerde, and thou shalt have
     859
A thyng that, also God my soule save,
     860
In al this world ther is no creature,
     861
That eten or dronken hath of this confiture
     862
Noght but the montance of a corn of whete,
     863
That he ne shal his lif anon forlete;
     864
Ye, sterve he shal, and that in lasse while
     865
Than thou wolt goon a paas nat but a mile,
     866
This poysoun is so strong and violent.
     867
this cursed man hath in his hond yhent
     868
This poysoun in a box, and sith he ran
     869
Into the nexte strete unto a man,
     870
And borwed of hym large botelles thre;
     871
And in the two his poyson poured he;
     872
The thridde he kepte clene for his drynke.
     873
For al the nyght he shoop hym for to swynke
     874
In cariynge of the gold out of that place.
     875
And whan this riotour, with sory grace,
     876
Hadde filled with wyn his grete botels thre,
     877
To his felawes agayn repaireth he.
     878
what nedeth it to sermone of it moore?
     879
For right as they hadde cast his deeth bifoore,
     880
Right so they han hym slayn, and that anon.
     881
And whan that this was doon, thus spak that oon --
     882
Now lat us sitte and drynke, and make us merie,
     883
And afterward we wol his body berie.
     884
And with that word it happed hym, par cas,
     885
To take the botel ther the poyson was,
     886
And drank, and yaf his felawe drynke also,
     887
For which anon they storven bothe two.
     888
but certes, I suppose that avycen
     889
Wroot nevere in no canon, ne in no fen,
     890
Mo wonder signes of empoisonyng
     891
Than hadde thise wrecches two, er hir endyng.
     892
Thus ended been thise homycides two,
     893
And eek the false empoysonere also.
     894
o cursed synne of alle cursednesse!
     895
O traytours homycide, o wikkednesse!
     896
O gloronye, luxurie, and hasardrye!
     897
Thou blasphemour of crist with vileynye
     898
And othes grete, of usage and of pride!
     899
Allas! mankynde, how may it bitide
     900
That to thy creatour, which that the wroghte,
     901
And with his precious herte-blood thee boghte,
     902
Thou art so fals and so unkynde, allas?
     903
now goode men, God foryeve yow youre trespas,
     904
And ware yow fro the synne of avarice!
     905
Myn hooly pardoun may yow alle warice,
     906
So that ye offre nobles or sterlynges,
     907
Or elles silver broches, spoones, rynges.
     908
Boweth youre heed under this hooly bulle!
     909
Cometh up, ye wyves, offreth of youre wolle!
     910
Youre names I entre heer in my rolle anon;
     911
Into the blisse of hevene shul ye gon.
     912
I yow assoile, by myn heigh power,
     913
Yow that wol offre, as clene and eek as cleer
     914
As ye were born. -- and lo, sires, thus I preche.
     915
And jhesu crist, that is oure soules leche,
     916
So graunte yow his pardoun to receyve,
     917
For that is best; I wol yow nat deceyve.
     918
but, sires, o word forgat I in my tale --
     919
I have relikes and pardoun in my male,
     920
As faire as any man in engelond.
     921
Whiche were me yeven by the popes hond.
     922
If any of yow wole, of devocion,
     923
Offren, and han myn absolucion,
     924
Com forth anon, and kneleth heere adoun,
     925
And mekely receyveth my pardoun;
     926
Or elles taketh pardoun as ye wende,
     927
Al newe and fressh at every miles ende,
     928
So that ye offren, alwey newe and newe,
     929
Nobles or pens, whiche that be goode and trewe.
     930
It is an honour to everich that is heer
     931
That ye mowe have a suffisant pardoneer
     932
T'assoile yow, in contree as ye ryde,
     933
For aventures whiche that may bityde.
     934
Paraventure ther may fallen oon or two
     935
Doun of his hors, and breke his nekke atwo.
     936
Looke which a seuretee is it to yow alle
     937
That I am in youre felaweshipe yfalle,
     938
That may assoille yow, bothe moore and lasse,
     939
Whan that the soule shal fro the body passe.
     940
I rede that oure hoost heere shal bigynne,
     941
For he is moost envoluped in synne.
     942
Com forth, sire hoost, and offre first anon,
     943
And thou shalt kisse the relikes everychon,
     944
Ye, for a grote! unbokele anon thy purs.
     945
nay, nay! quod he, thanne have I cristes curs!
     946
Lat be, quod he, it shal nat be, so theech!
     947
Thou woldest make me kisse thyn olde breech,
     948
And swere it were a relyk of a seint,
     949
Though it were with thy fundement depeint!
     950
But, by the croys which that seint eleyne fond,
     951
I wolde I hadde thy coillons in myn hond
     952
In stide of relikes or os seintuarie.
     953
Lat kutte hem of, I wol thee helpe hem carie;
     954
They shul be shryned in an hogges toord!
     955
this pardoner answerde nat a word;
     956
So wrooth he was, no word ne wolde he seye. Page  155
     957
now, quod oure hoost, I wol no lenger pleye
     958
With thee, ne with noon oother angry man.
     959
But right anon the worthy knyght bigan,
     960
Whan that he saugh that al the peple lough,
     961
Namoore of this, for it is right ynough!
     962
Sire pardoner, be glad and myrie of cheere;
     963
And ye, sire hoost, that been to me so deere,
     964
I prey yow that ye kisse the pardoner.
     965
And pardoner, I prey thee, drawe thee neer,
     966
And, as we diden, lat us laughe and pleye.
     967
Anon they kiste, and ryden forth hir weye.
     968