The workes of Geffray Chaucer newlye printed, wyth dyuers workes whych were neuer in print before: as in the table more playnly doth appere. Cum priuilegio ad imprimendum solum.
Chaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400., Thynne, William, d. 1546.
Page  [unnumbered]

[illustration]
¶The Caunter∣bury tales.

Page  [unnumbered]Page  [unnumbered]The Prologues.
WHen that Apryll wyth hys shoures sote
The drought of Marche had perced the rote
And bathed euery vayne in suche lycoure
Of whych vertue, engen∣dred is the floure
When zephirus eke wyth hys sote breth
Enspyred hath euery holte and heth
The tendre croppes, and the yong sonne
Hath in the Ram halfe hys course yronne
And smale foules maken melodye
That slepen al nyght with open eye
So prycketh hem nature in her courage
Than longen folke to go on pylgrymage
And palmers to seken straunge strondes
To serue halowes couth in sondry londes
And specially fro euery shyres ende
Of Englonde to Caunterbury they wende
The holy blysfull martyr for to seke
That hem hath holpen, when they were seke.
IT befell that season on a day
In Southwarke at the taberde as I lay
Redy to go in my pylgrymage
To Caunterbury with deuoute courage
That nyght was come into that hostelry
Well nyne and twenty in a company
Of sondry folke by auenture yfall
In felyshyp, and pylgrymes were they all
That towarde Caunterbury wolde ryde
The chambres and stables weren wyde
And well weren they eased at the best
And shortly whan the sonne was at rest
So had I spoken with hem euerychone
That I was of her felyshyp anone
And made forwarde early for to ryse
To take our way there as I you deuyse
But netheles, whyle I haue tyme and space
Or that I ferther in this tale pace
Me thynke it accordaunt to reason
To tell you all the condycyon
Of eche of hem so as it semed me
And whyche they were, and of what degre
And eke in what araye that they were in
And at a knyght then wyll I fyrst begyn.

¶The knyght. i.

A knyght there was, & that a worthy man
That fro the tyme that he fyrst began
To ryden out, he loued cheualrye
Trouth, honoure, fredom, and curtesye
Full worthy was he in hys lordes warre
And therto had he rydden no man farre
As well in christendome as in Hethynesse
And euer had honoure for hys worthynesse
At Alysaundre he was, when it was won
Full ofte tyme he had the dourde begon
Abouen all nations in Pruce
In Lettowe had he rydden and in Luce
No christen man so ofte of hys degre
In Garnade at the syege had he be
At Algezer, and rydden in Belmarye
At Leyes was he, and also at Satalye
When they were wonne, and in the great see
At many a noble armye had he be
At mortall battaylles had he bene fyftene
And foughten for our fayth at Tramyssene
In lystes thries, and aye slayne hys fo
Thys ylke worthy knyght had ben also
Somtyme wyth the lorde of Palathye
Ayenst another hethen in Turkye
And euermore he had a souerayne pryse
And though he was worthy he was wyse
And of hys porte as meke as is a mayde
He neuer yet no vylanye ne sayde
In all hys lyfe, vnto no maner wyght
He was a very perfyte gentyll knyght
For to tell you of hys aray
Hys horse were good, but he was nothynge gay
Of fustyan he wered a gyppon
All besmottred wyth hys haubergion
For he was late come fro hys vyage
And wente for to done hys pylgrimage.

¶The Squyer. ij.

Wyth him there was his sonne a yōgesquyre
A louer and a lusty bachelere
With his lockes crul as they were layd in presse
Of twenty yere of age he was I gesse
Of hys stature he was of euen length
And wonderly delyuer, and of great strength
And he had be somtyme in chyuauchye
In Flaundres, in Artoys, and in Pycardye
And borne hym well, as of so lytell space
In hope to stande in hys ladyes grace
Page  [unnumbered]Enbrouded was he, as it weren a mede
All full of freshe floures, whyte and rede
Syngynge he was, or floytynge all the daye
He was freshe as is the moneth of Maye
Short was hys gowne, wt sleues longe & wyde
Well coude he sytte on a horse, and fayne ryde
He coude songes make, and well endyte
Iuste and eke daunce, portray and well wryte
So hote he loued, that by nyghter tale
He slept nomore then doth the nyghtyngale
Curteys he was, lowly and seruysable
And kerft before hys father at the table.

¶The Squyers yoman. iij.

A Yoman had he and seruauntes no mo
At that tyme, for hym lyst to ryde so
And he was clad in cote and hode of grene
A shefe of pecocke arowes bryght and sheue
Vnder hys belt he barelfull thryftely
Well coude he dresse hys tackle yomanly
Hys arowes drouped not wyth fethers lowe
And in hys hande he bare a myghtye bowe
A not heed had he, wyth a browne vysage
Of wodde crafte well couth he all the vsage
Vpon hys arme he bare a gaye bracer
And by hys syde a swearde and a bokeler
And on that other syde a gay dagger
Harueysed well, and sharpe as poynte of spere
A Christofer on hys brest of syluer shene
An horne he bare, the baudrycke was of grene
A foster was he sothly as I gesse.

¶The Prioresse. iiij.

There was also a Nonne a Prioresse
That of her smylynge was symple and coye
Her greatest othe was by saynt Loye
And she was called dame Eglentyne
Full well she songe the seruyce deuyne
Entewned in her voycefull semely
And Frenche she spake full fetously
After the schole of Stratforde at bowe
For frenche of Parys was to her vnknowe
At meate was she well ytaught wythall
She let no morsell fro her lyppes fall
Ne wete her fyngers in her sauce depe
Well couth she cary a morsell and well kepe
That no drop ne fell vpon her brest
In curtesye was set full moche her lest
Her ouerlyp wyped she so clene
That in her cup was no ferthynge sene
Of grece, when she dronken had her draught
Full semely after her meate she taught
And sykerly she was of great dysporte
And full pleasaunt, and amyable of porte
And payned her to counterfete chere
Of courte, and to be statelythe of manere
And to bene holden dygne of reuerence.
But for to speake of her conscience
She was so charitable and so pytous
She wolde wepe yf that she sawe a mous
Caught in a trappe, yf it were deed or bledde
Of smale houndes had she that she fedde
Wyth roste fleshe, mylke, or wastell breed
But sore wepte she yf any of hem were deed
Or yf men smote hem wyth a yarde smerte
And all was conscience and tender herte
Full semely her wymple pynched was
Her nose tretes, her eyen gray as glas
Her mouth smale, and therto softe and reed
But sekerly she had a fayre forheed
It was almost a spanbroede I trowe
For hardely she was not vnder growe
Full fetyse was her cloke as I was ware
Of smale corall about her arme she bare
A payre of hedes, gauded all wyth grene
And theron honge a broche of golde full shene
On whych ther was fyrst wrytten a crowned. A
And after that (Amor vineit omnia)
Another Nonne wyth her hath she
That was her chapeleyn, and preestes thre.

¶The Monke. v.

A Monke there was fayre for the maystry
An out ryder, that loued venery
A manly man to bene an abbot able
Full many a deynte horse had he in stable
And when he rode men myght hys brydle here
Gyngelynge in a whystlynge wynde as clere
And eke as loude, as doth the chapell bell
There as thys lorde way keper of the cell
The rule of saynt Maure and of saynt Benet
Because it was olde and somdele streyt
Thys ylke monke let olde thynges pace
And helde after the newe worlde the space
He yaue not of the texte a pulled henne
Page  [unnumbered]That sayeth, that hunters be not holy men
Ne that a monke when he is rechelesse
Is lykened to a fyshe that is waterlesse
Thys is to saye, a monke out of hys cloystre
Thys ylke texte helde he not worth an oystre
And I saye hys opinion was good
Wherto shulde he study, & make him selfe wood
Vpon a boke alwaye in cloystre to powre
Or swynke wyth hys handes, or labowre
As Austyn byd, how shulde the worlde be serued
Let Austyne haue hys swynke to hym reserued
Therfore he was a prycksoure a ryght
Greyhoūdes he had as swyft as foule of flyght
Of pryckynge and of huntynge for the hare
was all hys lust, for no cost wolde he spare
I sawe hys sleues pursled at the hande
wyth Grice, and that the fynest in a lande
And for to fast hys hoode vnder the chynne
He had of golde wrought a curious pynne
A loue knot in the greater ende there was
Hys heed was balde, and shone as any glas
And eke hys face, as he had bene anoynte
He was a lorde full fatte and in good poynte
Hys eyen slepe, and rollynge in hys heed
That stemed as a furneys of a leed
Hys bootes sowple, hys horse in great estate
Nowe certaynly he was a fayre prelate
He was not pale as a forpyned ghost
A fatte swane loued he best of any rost
Hys palfray was as browne as is a very

¶The Frere. vi.

A Frere there was a wanton and a mery
A lymytour, a full solempne man
In all the ordres foure is none that can
So moche of daliaunce and fayre langage
He had made full many a mariage
Of yonge women at hys owne cost
Vntyll hys order he was a noble post
Full welbyloued and famylyer was he
wyth frankeleyns ouer all in hys countre
And wyth worthy women of the toun
For he had power of confessyoun
As he sayd hymselfe, more then a curate
For of hys ordre he was lycenciate
Full swetely herde he confessyon
And pleasaunt was hys absolucyon
He was an easye man to pyue penaunce
There as he wyst to haue a good pytaunce
For vnto a poore ordre for to gyue
Is sygne that a man is well yshryue
For yf he gaue, he durst make auaunt
He wyst that a man was repentaunt
For many a man is so harde of herte
That he maye not wepe though hym smerte
Therfore in stede of wepynge and prayres
Men mote gyue syluer to the poore freres
Hys typpet was aye fassed full of knyues
And pynnes, for to gyue fayre wyues
And certaynly he had a mery note
well coude he synge and playen on a rote
Of yeddynge he bare vtterly the pryce
Hys necke was whyte as the floure delyce
Therto stronge he was as a champioun
And knewe the tauernes well in euery toun
And euery hosteler and tapster
Bet then a lazer or a begger
For vnto suche a worthye man as he
Accordeth nought, as by hys faculte
To haue wyth lazers suche acquayntaunce
It is not honest, it maye not auaunce
For to deale wyth suche porayle
But all wyth ryche, and sellers of vytayle
And ouer all there as profyte shulde aryse
Curteys he was, and lowly of seruyse
There has no man no where so vertuous
He was the best begger in hys hous
And gaue a certayne ferme for the graunte
None of hys brethren came in hys haunte
For though a wydowe had but a shoo
(So pleasaunt was hys In principio)
Yet wolde he haue a ferthynge er he wente
Hys purchace was better then hys rente
And rage he couth as it were a whelpe
In loue dayes there coude he mykell helpe
For there he was not lyke o cloystrere
wyth a threde bare cope, as a poore frere
But he was lyke a mayster or a pope
Of double worstede was hys semy cope
So rounded was as a bell out of presse
Somwhat he lysped for hys wantonnesse
To make hys Englyshe swete vpon hys tonge
And in harpynge, when he had songe
Hys eyen twynkeled in hys heed aryght
As done the starres in a frosty nyght
Thys worthye frere was called Huberd

¶The Marchaunt. vij.

Page  [unnumbered]A marchaunt was there wyth a longe berde
In motley, on hygh on hys horse he sat
Vpon hys heade a Flaundres beuer hat
Hys botes clasped fayre and ferously
Hys reasons he spake full solempnely
Shewynge alway the encrease of his wynnyng
He wolde the See were kepte for any thynge
Betwyxe Myddelborough and Orewell
Well coude he in eschaunge sell
Thys worthy man full well hys wyt byset
There wyst no wyght that he was in det
So stately was he of hys gouernaunce
Wyth hys bargayns, and wyth hys cheuysaūce
Forsoth he was a worthy man wythall
But sothly to sayne, I not what men hym call.

¶The clerke of Oxenforde. viij.

A clerke there was of Oxenforde also
That vnto logyke had longe ygo
As leane was hys horse as a rake
And he was nothynge fatte I vndertake
But loked holowe, and therto soberly
Full thredebar was hys ouercourtpy
For he had yet getten hym no benefyce
Ne was nought worthy to haue none offyce
For hym was leuer to haue at hys beddes heed
Twenty bookes, cladde wyth blacke or reed
Of Aristotle, and of hys philosophie
Then robes ryche, or fyddell or gaye sa••ry
But all be that he was a phylosophre
Yet had he but a lytle golde in cofre
But all that he myght of hys frendes hente
On bookes and on learnynge he it spente
And besely gan for the soules praye
Of hem that helpen hym to scholaye
Of studye toke he moste cure and hede
Not a worde spake he more then nede
And that was sayd in fourme and reuerence
And shorte and quycke, and of hye sentence
Sownyng in morall vertue was hys speche
And gladly wolde lerne, and gladly teche

¶The sergiaunte at lawe. ix.

A sergiaunt of lawe, ware and wyse
That often had bene at the peruyst
That was also full ryche of excellence
Dyscrete he was, and of great reuerence
He semed suche, hys wordes were so wyse
Iustyce he was full often in assyse
By patent, and by playne commyssyoun
For hys science, and hys hye renoun
Of fees and robes had he many one
So great a purchasour was no where none
All was fee symple to hym in effecte
Hys purchasynge myght not be to hym suspecte
Nowhere so besy a man as he there nas
And yet he semed besyer then he was
In termes had he case and domes all
That fro the tyme of kynge Wylliam was fall
Therto he could endyte, and maken a thynge
There coude no wyght pynche at hys wrytynge
And euery statute coude he playne by rote
He rode but homely in a medley cote
Gyrte wyth a seynt of syl••, with barres smale
Of hys arraye, tell I no lenger tale.

¶The Frankeleyn. x.

A Frankeleyn there was in hys companye
Whyte was hys berde as is the deysye
And of hys complexion he was sanguyne
Well loued he by the morowe a soppe in wyne
To lyuen in delyte was euer hys wonne
For he was Epycures owne sonne
That helde opinion, that playne delyte
Was very felicitye perfyte
An housholder, and that a great was he
Saynt Iulian he was in hys countre
Hys breed, hys ale, was alwaye after one
A better byended man was no where none
Wythout bake meate was neuer hys house
Of fyshe and fleshe, and that so plenteous
It shewed in hys house of meate and drynke
Of all deyntes that men coude thynke
After the sondrye seasons of the yere
So chaunged he hys meate, and hys suppere
Full many afa••e parryche had he in mewe
And many a dreme, and many a l••e in stewe
Wo was hys coke, but hys ••uce were
Poynante and sharpe, and redy all hys gere
Hys table dornaunt in hys hall alwaye
Stode redy couered all the longe daye
At cessions there was he lorde and syre
Full ofte tyme he was knyght of the shyre
An anelace and a gepsere all of sylke
Hynge at hys gyrdell, whyte as morowe mylke
A shyryfe had he bene, and a countour
Was nowhere suche a worthy vauesour.
Page  [unnumbered]

¶The Haberdassher. xi.

An Haberdassher there was and a carpenter
A webbe, a dyer, and a tapyser
All they were yclothed in o lyuere
Of a solempne and a great fraternyte
Full fresshe and newe her geare ipyked was
Her knyues ychaped nere not wyth bras
But all with syluer wrought ful clene and wele
Her gyrdels and her pouches euerydele
Wel semed eueryche of hem a fayre burgeys
To sytten at a yelde hal, on the hye deys
Eueryche for the wysdome that he can
Was shape lyche for to ben an alderman
For catayle had they ryght ynough and rent
And eke her wyues wolde it well assent
And els certayne they were to blame
It is full fayre to ben yeleped madame
And gon to vigylles al before
And haue a mantel royall yche ybore.

¶The Coke. xii.

A Coke they had wyth hem for the nones
To boyle the chykens and the mary bones
And pouder merchaunt, tarte, and galyngale
Well coude he knowe a draught of London ale
He couthe rosthe, sethe, boye, and frye
Make morreys, and wel bake a pye
But great harme was it, as it thought me
That on hys shynne a mormal had he
And blynke manger made he wyth the beste.

¶The Shypman. xiij.

A Shipman was ther, wonnyng fer by west
For aught I wete, he was of Detchemouthe
He rode vpon a rowney, as he couthe
In a gowne of faldyng to the kne
A dagger hangyng by a lace had he
Aboute hys necke, vnder hys arme downe
The hote sommer had made his hew a browne
And certayne he was a good felawe
Full many a draught of wyne had he drawe
From Burdeux ward, whiles ye chapmen slepe
Of nyce conscience toke he no kepe
If that he faught, and had the hygher honde
By water he sent hem home to euery londe
But of hys crafte, to recken wel hys tydes
Hys streames and his daungers hym besydes
Hys herbrough, hys moone, & hys lodemanage
There was none suche from Hul to Cartage
Hardy he was, and wyse to vndertake
Wyth many a tempest had hys berde be shake
He knewe all the hauens as there were
Fro Scotlande to the Cape de fenestere
And euery creke in Britayne and in Spayne
Hys barge was called the Maudelayne.

¶De doctour of Phisyke. xiiij.

Wyth vs there was a doctour of phisyke
In thys worlde ne was there none hym lyke
To speke of phisyke, and of surgerye
For he was grounded in Astronomye
He kepte hys pacyent a full great del
In houres, by hys magyke naturel
Wel couthe he fortune the assendent
Of hys ymage for hys pacyent
He knewe the cause of euery maladye
Were it of colde, hete, moyste, or drie
And wherof engendred what humour
He was a very perfyte practysour
The cause yknowe, and of hys harme the rote
A none he gaue to the sycke man his bote
Full redy had he hys apotecaries
To sende hym dregges and hys lectuaries
For eche of hem made other for to wynne
Her frendshyp was not newe to begynne
Wel knewe he the olde Esculapius
And Dioscorides, and eke Ruffus
Olde Hippocrates, Haly, and eke Gallen
Serapion, Rasis, and also Auicen
Auerroys, Damasceue, and Constantyn
Bernarde, Gatisden, and Gylbertyn
Of hys dyete meserable was he
For it was of no superfluyte
But of great nourysshynge, and digestyble
Hys study was but lytel on the Byble
In sangwyne and in perce he clad was al
Lyned wyth Taffata, and wyth sendal
And yet he was but easy of dispence
He kepte that he wanne in tyme of pestylence
For golde in Physyke is a cordyal
Therfore he loued golde in specyal.

¶The wyfe of Bathe .xv.

A good wyfe there was besyde Bathe
But she was somdel dese, and that was scathe
Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉
Page  [unnumbered]Of clothe makynge she had suche an haunte
She passed hem of Ipre, or of Gaunte
In all the parysshe wyfe ne was there none
That to the offrynge before her shulde gone
And yf there dyd, certayn ryght wrothe was she
That she was al out of charite
Her kerchers ful fyne were of grounde
I durst swere they wayden ten pounde
That on a Sonday were vpon her heed
Her hosen were of fyne scarlet reed
Full strayte ystrayned, and shoesful newe
Bolde was her face, and reed was her hewe
She was a worthy woman al her lyue
Husbandes at the churche dore had she fyue
Withouten other company in youthe
But therof nedeth not to speke as nouthe
And thryse had she ben at Hierusalem
She had passed many a stronge streme
At Rome had she ben, and at Boloyne
In Galys at saynt Iames, and at Coloyne
She couth moche of wandrynge by the waye
Gat tothed was she sothely for to saye
Vpon an ambler easely she sat
Ywympled well, and on her heed an hat
As brode as is a bokeler or a targe
A foot mantel aboute her hyppes large
And on her fete a payre of spurres sharpe
In felyshyp well couth she laughe and carpe
Of remedyes of loue she coude perchaunce
For the couth of that arte the olde daunce.

¶The Person. xvi

A Good man there was of relygyoun
And was a poore person of a toun
But riche he was of holye thought and werke
He was also a lerned man, & a clerke
That Christes gospels truely wolde preche
Hys parissheus deuoutly wolde he teche
Benygne he was and wonder dilygent
And in aduersyte full pacyent
And suche he was proued ofte sythes
Ful lothe were hym to curst for his tythes
But rather wolde he yeuen out of doute
Vnto hys poore paryssheus aboute
Of hys offrynge, and of hys substaunce
He couth in lytel thynge haue suffysaunce
Wide was hys parisshe, & houses ferre a sondre
But he ne lefte neyther for rayn ne thondre
In syckenesse ne in myschefe for to vysyte
The ferrest in hys parysshe, moche or lyte
Vpon hys fete, and in hys hande a staf
Thys noble ensample to hys shepe he yaf
That fyrst he wrought, and afterwarde taught
Out of the gospel he the wordes caught
And thys fygure he radde eke therto
That yf golde ruste, what shulde yron do
For yf a preest be foule, on whom we trust
No wonder is a leude man to rust
And shame it is, yf a preest take kepe
To se a shytten shepherde, and a clene shepe
Wel ought a preest ensample for to yeue
By hys clennesse, howe hys shepe shulde lyue
He sette not hys benefyce to hyre
And lette hys shepe acombre in the myre
And renne to London to saynt Poules
To seken hym a chauntry for soules
Or with a brotherhede to be with holde
But dwelte at home, and kept wel hys folde
So that the wolfe ne made hem not miscarye
He was a shepeherde, and not a mercenarye
And though he holy were and vertuous
He was not to synfull men dispytous
Ne of hys speche daungerous ne digne
But in hys techyng discrete and benigne
To drawen folke to heuen wyth fayrnesse
By good ensample, thys was hys besynesse
But yf it were any person obstynate
Whether he were of hye or lowe estate
Hym wolde he shybbe sharply for the nonis
A better preest I trowe no where none is
He wawed after no pompe ne reuerence
Ne maked hym no spyced conscience
But Christes lore, and hys Apostels twelue
He taught, but fyrst he folowed it hym selue.

¶The Plowman. xvii

With him there was a Plowmā his brother
That had yladde of donge many a sother
A trewe swynker and a good was he
Lyuynge in peace, and parsyte charyte
God loued be best with al hys herte
At all tymes, thoughe hym gamed or smerte
And than hys neyghbours ryght as hym selfe
He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delfe
For Christes sake, for euery poore wyght
withouten hyre, yf it lay in hys myght
Hys tythes payde he full fayre and well
Bothe of hys propre swynke, and of hys catel
Page  [unnumbered]In a tabarde he rode, vpon a mare
There was also a Reue, and a Myllare
A Sompnour, and a Pardoner also
A Mansyple, and my selfe, there was no mo.

¶The Myller. xviii.

The Myller was a stoute earle for ye nones
Full bygge he was of brawne, and eke of bones
That proued wel, for ouer al there he cam
At wrastlyng, he wolde haue away the Ram
He was shorte sholdred, a thicke gnarre
Ther nas no dore, but he wold heue of the bar
Or breke it, at a rennyng wyth hys heed
Hys berde as any sowe or fore was reed
And therto brode, as it were a spade
Vpon the coppe ryght of hys nose he hade
A werte, and theron stode a tufte of heeres
Reed as the bristels of a sowes eeres
Hys nostrels blacke were and wyde
A swerde and a bokelet bare he by hys syde
Hys mouthe as great was as a furneys
He was a iangler and a golyerdeys
And that was moste of synne & of harletryse
Well couthe he steale corne, and tolde it thryse
And yet he had a tombe of golde parde
A whyte cote and a blewe hoode weared he
A bagge pype wel couthe he blowe and sowne
And therwith al brought he vs out of towne.

¶The Manciple. xix.

A gentle Manciple there was of the temple
Of whiche al catours myght taken ensemple
For to ben wyse, in byeng of vitayle.
For whether he payde, or toke by tayle
Algate he wayted so in hys asshate
That he was aye before, in good estate
Nowe is not that of god a full fayre grace
That suche a leude mans wyt shall pace
The wysedome of an heape of lerned men
Of maysters had he mo than thryse ten
That were of lawe experte, and curyouse
Of whyche there was a doseyn in that house
Worthy to ben stewardes of rente and lande
Of any lorde that is in Englande
To maken hym lyue by hys propre good
In honour detlesse, but yf he were woode
Or lyue as scarssy as hym lyste desyre
And able to helpen al a shyre
In any ease that might fallen or happe
And yet the Manciple set all her cappe.

¶The Reue. xx.

The Reue was a sclender colerike man
Hys berde was shaue as nye as euer he can
Hys heere was by his eeres rounde yshorne
Hys toppe was docked lyke a preest byforne
Full longe were his legges and full lene
I lyke a staffe, there was no calfe ysene
Wel couth he kepe a garner and a bynne
There was non auditour coude on hym wyn
Wel wyst he by the drought, and by the rayne
The yeldynge of his seed, and of his grayne
His lordes shepe, hys neet, and his deyrie
His swyne, his hors, his store, and his pultrie
Were hooly in his Reuys gouernynge
And by his couenaunt yaue he rekenynge
Sithe hys lorde was twenty yere of age
There coude no man brynge hym in a rerage
There nas baylly, heerd, ne none other hyne
That he ne knewe hys sleyght and his couyne
They were a drad of hym as of the dethe
Hys dwellynge was full fayre vpon an hethe
With grene trees shadowed was his place
He couthe better than hys lorde purchace
Full riche he was astored pryuely
His lorde he coude wel please subtylly
To yeue and leue hym of hys owne good
And haue a thanke, and yet a cote and hode
In youthe he had lerned a good mystere
He was a well good wryght, a carpentere
This Reue sat vpon a ryght good slot
That was al pomel grey, and hyght Scot
A longe surcote of perce vpon he hade
And by hys syde he bare a rusty blade
Of Norfolke was this Reue, of which I tel
Besyde a towne, men clepen it Baldeswel
Tucked he was, as is a frere aboute
And euer he rode hynderest of the route.

¶The Sompnour. xxi.

A Sompnour was there wyth vs in yt place
That had a fyre redde cherubyns face
For sausfleme he was, with eyen narowe
Al hote he was, and lecherous as a sparowe
With skaled browes blacke, and pylled berde
Of hys vysage chyldren were sore aferde
Page  [unnumbered]There nas quicksyluer, lytarge, ne brymstone
Borace, ceruse, ne oyle of tarter none
Ne oyntement that wolde clense or byte
That hym myght helpe of hys whelkes white
Ne of his knobbes syttynge on hys chekes
Wel loued he garlyke, onyons, and eke lekes
And for to drynke stronge wyne reed as blood
Then wold he speke and crye as he were wood
And whan he had wel ydronke the wyne
Than wolde he speke no worde but latyne
A fewe termes had he, two or thre
That he had lerned out of some degre
No wonder is, he herde it al the daye
And ye knowen wel eke howe that a iaye
Can clepe what, as wel as can the pope
But who so couthe in other thyng hym grope
Than had he spent al hys philosophye
(A questio quid iuris) wolde he crye
He was a gentle harlot and a kynde
A better felawe shulde a man nat fynde
He wolde suffre for a quarte of wyne
A good felawe to haue hys concubyne
A twelue monthe, and excuse hym at the ful
Ful priuely eke a synche couthe he pul
And yf he fonde o where a good felawe
He wolde teche hym to haue none awe
In suche case, of the archedekyns curse
But yf mans soule were in hys purse
For in hys purse he shulde ypunyshed be
Purse is the archedekeus hel, sayd he
But wel I wote he lyed ryght in dede
Of cursyng ought eche synful man drede
For cursyng wol slee, ryght as assoylyng saueth
And also ware hym of a Significauit
In daunger had he at hys owne gyfe
The yonge gyrles of the diocyse
And knew her counsayle, and was of her reed
A garlonde had he set vpon hys heed
As great as it were for an alestake
A buckeler had he maked hym of a cake.

¶The Pardoner. xxii.

Wyth hym there rode a gentle Pardonere
Of Rounceual, hys frende and hys compere
That streight was come fro the court of Rome
Ful loude songe he, come hyther loue tome
Thys Sompnour bare hym a styffe bourdoun
was neuer trompe of halfe so great a soun
This Pardoner had heere as yelowe as were
But smothe it hynge, as doth a stryke of flexe
By ounces hynge hys lockes that he had
And therwith he his sholders ouersprad
But thynne it lay by culpons one and one
But hode for iolyte weared he none
For it was trussed vp in hys walet
Hym thought he rode al the newe iet
Dissheuylde saue his cappe he rode al bare
Suche glaryng eyen had he as an hare
A vernacle had he sowed vpon hys cappe
Hys wallet beforne hym in hys lappe
Brette ful of pardone come from Rome al hote
A voyce he had as smale as hath a gote
No berde had he, ne neuer shulde haue
As smoth it was as it were newe shaue
I trowe he were a geldyng or a mare
But of hys crafte fro Berwyke vnto ware
Ne was there suche another pardonere
For in hys male had he a pyllowe here
Whyche as he sayd, was our ladyes veyle
He sayd he had a gobbet of the seyle
That saynt Peter had whan that he went
Vpon the see tyl Iesu Chryst hym hent
He had a crosse of laten ful of stones
And in a glasse he had pygges bones
But with these relykes whan that he fonde
A poore person dwellyng vplonde
Vpon a day he gate hym more money
Than that person gate in monthes twey
And thus wyth fayned flateryng and apes
He made the person and the people hys apes
But trewly to tellen at the laste
He was in churche a noble ecclesyast
Wel couthe he rede a lesson or a storie
But alderbest he sange an oftytorie
For wel he wyst, whan that songe was songe
He muste preche, and wel afyle hys tonge
To wynne syluer as he wel coude
Therfore he songe so meryly and loude.
Nowe haue I tolde you sothly in a clause
The state, the aray, eche nōbre, and eke the cause
Why that assembled was this company
In Suthwerke at thys gentyl hostelry
That hyght the Tabarde fast by the Belle
But nowe is tyme to you for to telle
Howe that we baren vs that ylke nyght
Whan we weren in that hostry a lyght
And after wol I tel of our vyage
And al the remenaunt of our pylgrymage
Page  [unnumbered]But fyrste I praye you of your curtely
That ye ne arette it nat my folly
Thouhg that I playnly speke in this matere
To tellen you her wordes and eke her chere
Ne though I speke her wordes properly
For thys ye knowen as wel as I
Who shal tellen a tale after a manne
He mote reherce as nye as euer he canne
Euerych worde, yf it be in hys charge
Al speke he neuer so rudely ne large
Or els he mote tellen hys tale vntrewe
Or feyne thyng is, or fynde wordes newe
He may nat spare altho he were hys brother
He mote as wel saye o worde as another
Chryst spake hym selfe full brode in holy writte
And wel I wotte no vyllayne is itte
Eke Plato sayth, who so can hym rede
The wordes mote ben cosyn to the dede
Also I pray you for yeue it me
A! haue I nat sette folke in her degree
Here in thys tale as they shulde stande
My wytte is shorte ye may wel vnderstande.
GReat chere made our host vs euerychon
And to the supper sette he vs anon
And serued vs wyth vitayle at the best
Strong was the wyne, and wel drynke vs lest
A semely man our host was wyth all
For to ben a marshal in a lordes hall
A large man he was with eyen stepe
A fayrer burgeys is there none in chepe
Bolde of hys speche, wyse and wel ytaught
And of manhode hym lacked ryght naught
Eke therto he was a right mery man
And after supper playen he began
And spake of myrthe among other thynges
Whan that we had made our rekenynges
And sayd thus, nowe lordynges trewly
Ye ben to me welcome ryght hertely
For by my trouthe yf I shuld nat lye
A sawe nat thys yere so mery a company
Atones, in this herborowe as is nowe
Fayne wolde I don you myrth & I wyst howe
And of a myrthe I am ryght nowe bethought
To done you ease, and it shall coste nought
Ye gone to Canterbury god mote you spede
The blysful martyr quyte you your mede
And wel I wote as ye gone by the way
Ye shapen you to talken and to play
For trewly comforte ne myrthe is there none
To ryden by the waye as dombe as a stone
And therfore wolde I maken you disporte
As I sayd erst, and done you some comforte
And yf you lyke al by one assent
For to stonden at my iugement
And for to worchen as I shall you say
To morowe whan we ryden on the way
Nowe be my fathers soule that is deed
But ye be mery I wol gyue you myne heed
Holde vp your handes without more speche
Our counsayle was nat longe for to seche
Vs thought it was nat worth to make it wyse
And graunted hym without more auyse
And badde hym say hys verdit as hym lest
Lordinges ({quod} he) nowe herkene for the best
But take it nat I praye you in disdayne
Thys is the poynt to speke it platte & playne
That eche of you to shorte with others way
In this vyage, shall tel tales tway
To Canterbery warde I meane it so
And homwardes he shal tel tales other two
Of auentures whilom that han befal
And whiche of you that beareth hym best of al
That is to sayne, that tellen in thys case
Tales of best sentence and most solace
Shall haue a supper at our alder cost
Here in thys place syttyng by thys post
Whan that we commen ayen from Canterbery
And for to make you the more mery
I wol my seluen goodly with you ryde
Ryght at myne owne coste and be your gyde
And who that wol my iugement withsay
Shall paye al that we spende by the way
And yf ye vouchsafe that it be so
Telle me anon wythout wordes mo
And I woll early shape me therfore
Thys thyng was graunted & our othes swore
Wyth full gladde herte, and prayden hym also
That he wolde vouchsafe for to do so
And that he wolde ben our gouernour
And of our tales iuge and reportour
And sette a supper at a certayne prise
And we wollen ben demed at hys deuyse
In hye and lowe, and thus by one assent
We ben accorded to the iugement
And ther vpon the wyne was fette anone
We dronken, and to rest wente ylke one
Withouten any lenger taryeng
A morowe whan they gan to spryng
Vp rose our host, and was our alder cocke
Page  [unnumbered]And gadered vs al in a flocke
And forthe we ryden a lytel more than paas
Vnto the wateryng of saynt Thomas
And there our host began hys horse arest
And sayd: lordes herkene yf you lest
Ye wote your forwarde, and I it recorde
If euesonge and morowe songe acorde
Lette se nowe who shall tell the fyrst tale
As euer I mote drynke wyne or ale
Who so is rebel to my iugement
Shall paye for all that by the way is spent
Nowe draweth cutte or that ye farther twyn
The whiche that hath the shortest shal begyn.
Sir knyght ({quod} he) my maister and my lorde
Nowe draweth cutte, for that is myne acorde
Cometh nere ({quod} he) my lady prioresse
And ye sir clerke, lette be your shamefastnesse
Ne studyeth nat, lay hande therto euery man
Anone to drawe euery wyght began
And shortely for to tellen as it was
Were it by auenture, or by shorter caas
The sothe is thys, the cutte fyll to the knyght
Of which ful blyth and glad was euery wyght
And tellen he must hys tale as it was reason
By forwarde, and by composytion
As ye han herde, what nedeth wordes mo
And whan thys good man sawe yt it was so
As he that wyse was and obedyent
To kepen hys forwarde by hys free assent
He sayd, sithen I shall begyn the game
What welcome cutte a goddeshame
Nowe let vs ryde, and herkeneth what I say
And with that worde we ryden forth our way
And he began wyth ryght a mery chere
Hys tale anone, ryght as ye shal here.
¶Thus ende the prologues of the Caunterbury tales, and here foloweth the knyghtes tale.
Page  i

[illustration]
¶Here begynneth the Knyghtes tale.

WHylom, as olde stories tellen vs
There was a duke that hyght Theseus
Of Athenes he was lorde & gouernour
And in hys tyme suche a conquerour
That greater was non vnder the son
Full many a riche countrey had he won
What with his wysedom, and his cheualry
He conquered all the reigne of Feminy
That whylom was icleped Cythea
And wedded the quene Ipolyta
& brought her home wt him, in to his contre
Wyth mykell glory and solempnyte
And eke her yonge suster Emely.
And thus with victory and melody
Let I thys worthy duke to Athenes ryde
And all hys host, in armes hym be syde
And certes, yf it nere to longe to here
I wolde haue tolde fully the manere
Howe wonnen was the reygne of Feminy
By Theseus, and by his cheualry
And of the great batayle for the nones
Betwene Athenes and Amasones
And howe beseged was Ipolyta
The yonge hardy quene of Cythea
And of the feest, yt was at her weddynge
And of the tempest at her home comyng
But al yt thyng, I mote as nowe forbere
I haue god wotte, a large felde to ere
And weked ben the oxen in the plowe
The remenaunt of my tale is long ynowe
I wyll nat letten eke, non of thys rout
Let euery felowe tell hys tale about
And let se nowe, who shall the supper wyn
And there I lefte, I wyll agayne begyn.
Thys duke, of whom I make mencyoune
Whan he was come, almost to the towne
In all hys wele and hys most pride
He was ware, as he cast hys eye asyde
where that there kneled in the hyghe wey
A company of ladys, twey and twey
Eche after other, cladde in clothes blake
But such a crye and such a wo they make
Page  [unnumbered]That in thys worlde, nys creature lyuinge
That euer herde suche a waymentynge
And of thys crye, they nolde neuer stynten
Tyll they the reynes of hys bridell henten
What folke be ye, yt at myn home cōmyng
Perturben so my feest with cryeng
Quod Theseus? Haue ye so great enuy
Of myne honour, that thus cōplayne & cry?
Or who hath you mysbode, or offended?
Nowe telleth me, yf it may be amended.
And why that ye be clothed thus in blake?
The oldest lady of them all spake
Whan she had swowned with adeedly chere
That it was ruthe for to se and here
She sayd lorde, to whom fortune hath yeue
Vyctory, and as a conquerour to lyue
Nought greueth vs your glory and honour
But we beseke you of mercy and socour
And haue mercy on our wo and distresse
Some drope of pyte, through thy gētylnesse
Vpon vs wretched wymen, let thou fall
For certes lorde, there nys none of vs all
That she ne hath be a duchesse or a quene
Nowe be we caytyses, as it is well isene
Thanked be fortune, and her false whele
That non estate assureth for to be wele.
Now certes lorde, to abyde your presence
Here in this temple of the goddesse Clemēce
We haue be waytyng all this fourtenyght
Helpe vs lorde, sythe it lyeth in thy myght.
I Wretche, that wepe and wayle thus
whylom wyfe to kyng Campaneus
That starfe at thebes, cursed be ye day
And all we that ben in thys aray
And maken all thys lamentacyon
We losten all our husbondes at that town
whyle that the syege there aboute laye
And yet the olde Creon (wel awaye)
That lorde is nowe of Thebes cyte
Fulfilled of yre and of iniquite
He for dispyte, and for hys tyranny
To done the deed bodyes vyllanye
Of all our lordes, whiche that ben slawe
Hath all the bodyes on an heape ydrawe
And wyll nat suffre hem, by none assent
Neyther to be buryed, ne to be brent
But maketh houndes to eate hem in dyspyte
And wt that worde, wythout more respyte
They fallen grosly, and cryen pytously
Haue on vs wretched wymen some mercy
And let our sorowe synke in thyn hert
This gentle duke down frō his hors stert
Wyth hert pytous, whā he herde hem speke
Hym thought that hys herte wolde breke
Whan he sawe hem so pytous and so mate
That whylom were of so great astate
And in hys armes, he hem all vp hent
And hem comforted in full good entent
And swore hys othe, as he was true Knyght
He wolde don so ferforthly hys myght
Vpon the tyrante Creon hem to wreake
That al the people of Grece shulde speake
Howe Creon was of Theseus yserued
As he that had his dethe full well deserued
And ryght anon wythouten more abode
His baner he displayed, and forthe rode
To Thebes warde, and all hys hoost besyde
No nere Athenes nolde he go ne ryde
Ne take hys ease fully halfe a day
But onward on hys way that nyght he lay
And sent anone Ipolita the quene
And Emely her yonge syster shene
Vnto the towne of Athenes to dwell
And forth he rydeth, ther nys no more to tell.
THe red statu of Mars wt spere & targe
So shyneth in hys whyte baner large
That all the feldes glyttren vp & doun
And by hys baner, borne is hys penon
Of golde ful rych, in which there was ybete
The mynotaure, that he wan in Crte
Thus rydeth this duke, this conquerour
And in his hoste of chyualry the flour
Tyl that he came to Thebes, and alyght
Fayre in a felde, ther as he thought to fyght
But shortly for to speken of thys thyng
With Creon, whiche was of Thebes Kyng
He faught, & slewe hym manly as a Knyght
In playne batayle, & put hys folke to flyght
And at a saute he wan the cyte after
And rente adowne wall, sparre, and rafter
And to the ladyes, he restored agayn
The bodyes of her husbandes yt were slayn
To done obsequies, as tho was the gyse
But it were al to longe for to deuyse
The great clamour, and the weymentyng
That the ladyes made at the brennyng
Of the bodyes, and the great honour
That Theseus, the noble conquerour
Doth to ye ladies, whan they from him went
But shortly to tellen is myne entent
Whan yt this worthy duke, this Theseus
Hath Creon slayne, and wan Thebes thus
Page  iiStyl in the felde he toke al nyght hys rest
And dyd with al the countre as hym lest
To ransake in the taas of bodyes dede
(Hem for to strype of harneys and of wede)
The pyllours dyd her busynesse and cure
After the batayle and the discomfyture.
And so befell, that in the taas they founde
Through gyrt wt many a greuous wounde
Two yonge knyghtes lyeng by and by
Bothe in armes same, wrought full richely
Of whiche two, Arcyte hyght that one
And that other hyght Palamon
Not fully quycke, ne fully deed they were
But by her cote armours, and by her gere
The haraudes knewe hem best in specyall
As the that weren of the bloode ryall
Of Thebes, and of systren two yborne
Out of the taas yt pyllours hath hem torne
And han hem caryed softe in to the tent
Of Theseus, and he ful sone hem sent
To Athenes, to dwellen there in prison
Perpetuall, he nolde hem not raunson
And whan thys worthy duke had thus idon
He toke his hoost, and home he gothe anon
With laurer crowned, as a conquerour
And there he lyueth in ioye and honour
Terme of his lyfe, what nedeth wordes mo?
And in a towne, in anguysse and in wo
Dwelleth Palamon, and hys felowe Arcyte
For euermore, ther may no gold hem quyte.
THus passeth yere by yere, and day by day
Til it fel ones in a morowe of May
That Emely, yt fayrer was to sene
Than is the lylly, vpon the stalke grene
And fresher than May, with floures newe
For with the rose colour strofe her hewe
I not whiche was the fayrer of hem two.
Er it was day, as was her won to do
She was arysen, and all redy dyght
For May wol haue no slogardy a nyght
The season pricketh euery gentell herte
And maketh it out of her slepe sterte
And saythe atyse, and do May obseruaunce
Thys maketh Emely to haue remēbraūce
To don horrour to May, and for to ryse
I clothed was she fresshe for to deuyse
Her yelowe heare was broyded in a trese
Behynde her backe, a yerde longe I gase
And in the gardyn at sonne vpryst
She walketh vp and downe as herryst
She gadreth floures, party whyt and reed
To make a subtell garlande for her heed
And as an angell, heuenly she songe
The great tour, that was so thicke & stronge
Whiche of the castell was ye chefe dungeon
Wherin the Knyghtes were in pryon
Of whiche I tolde you, and tell shall
Was euyn ioynaunt to the garden wall
There as thys Emely had her playeng
Bright was the son, & clere the mornynge
And Palamon, thys wofull prisoner
As was hys won, by leaue of hys gayler
Was rysen, & romed in a chambre on hyghe
In whiche he all the noble cyte syghe
And eke the gardyn, full of braunches grene
There as thys fresshe Emely the shene
was in her walke, & romed vp and doun
This sorowfull prisoner, this Palamon
Gothe in hys chambre romyng to and fro
And to hym selfe complaynyng of hys wo
That he was borne, full ofte sayd alas
And so befell by auenture or caas
That thrugh a window thick of many a bar
Of yren gret, and square as any spar
He caste hys eyen vpon Emelia
And therwith he blent and cryed, ha.
As though he slongen were to the herte
And with that crye Arcite anon vp sterte
And sayd, Cosyn myne, what eyleth the
That arte so pale and deedly for to se?
why cryest thou: who hath do the offence?
For goddes loue, take all in pacience
Our prison, for it may none other be
Fortune hath yenen vs thys aduersyte,
Some wycked aspect or disposycion
Of Saturne, by some constellacion
Hath yeuen vs this, altho we had it sworn
So stode the heuen, whan yt we were born
we mote endure, thys is short and playn.
This Palamon answerde, & sayd agayn:
Cosyn forsoth, of thys opinyon
Thou hast a vayne ymagynacyon
Thys prison caused me nat to crye
But I was hurt right now thrugh myne ey
Into myne herte, that woll my bane be
The fayrnesse of a lady that I se
Yonde in the gardyn, comyng to and fro
Is cause of all my cryeng and wo
I not wher she be woman or goddesse
But Venus it is, sothly as I gesse
And therwyth all on knees down he fyl
And sayd: Venus, yf it be thy wyl
You in thys gardyn, thus to transfigure
Page  [unnumbered]Beforne me, sorowfull wretched creature
Out of thys prison helpe that we may scape
And yf our desteny be so ishape
By eterne worde, to dyen in pryson
Of our lynage haue some compassion
That is so lowe ybrought by tyranny.
And wyth that worde Arcyte gan espy
Where as the lady romed to and fro
And wyth that syght her bewte hurt hym so
That yf that Palamon were wounded sore
Arcyte was hurt as moche as he, or more
And with a syghe he sayd pitously
The fresshe beutie sleeth me sodenly
Of her that rometh in the yonder place
And but I haue her mercy and her grace
That I may seen her at the leste way
I nam but deed, there nis no more to say.
This Palamō, whā he these wordes herd
Dispytously he loked, and answerd:
Whether sayest thou this in ernest or in play
Nay quod Arcite, in ernest by my fay
God helpe me so, me lyst full yuell to pley
This Palamō gan knyt his browes twey
It were ({quod} he) to the no great honour
To be false ne for to be traytour
To me, that am thy cosen and thy brother
I sworne full depe, and eche of vs to other
That neuer for to dyen in the payne
Tyll that the dethe departe vs twayne
Neyther of vs in loue to hyndre other
Ne in none other case my leue brother
But that thou shuldest truly further me
In euery case, as I shulde further the
This was thyn othe, and myn also certayn
I wote it well, thou darst it not withsayn
Thus arte thou of my counsell out of doute
And nowe thou woldest falsly ben aboute
To loue my lady, whom I loue and serue
And euer shall, tyll that myn herte sterue
Nowe certes false Arcite thou shalt not so
I loued her fyrst, and tolde the my wo
As to my counsell, and to my brother sworne
To further me, as I haue tolde beforne
For whiche thou art thounden, as a knyght
To helpen me, yf it lye in thy might
Or els arte thou false, I dare well sayne
This Arcite full proudly spake agayne.
Thou shalt ({quod} he) be rather fals than I
And thou arte false I tell the vtterly
For paramour I loued her fyrst or thou
what wilt thou sayn, thou wist it nat or now
Whether she be woman or goddesse
Thyne is affection of holynesse
And myne is loue, as to a creature
For whiche I tolde the myne auenture
As to my cosyn, and my brother sworne
Suppose that thou louest her byforne
Wost thou not well the olde clerkes sawe?
That, who shall gyue a louer any lawe?
Loue is a gretter lawe by my pan
Than maybe yeuen to any erthly man
And therfore posityfe lawe, and suche decre
Is broken all day for loue in eche degre
A man more nedes loue maugre hys herd
He may nat fleen it though he shulde be deed
All be she mayde, wydowe, or wyfe
And eke it is not lykely all thy lyfe
To stonden in her grace, nomore shall I
For well thou wodst thy selfe verely
That thou and I be dampned to prison
Perpetuall, vs gayneth no raunson
We stryuen, as did the houndes for ye bone
That faughte al day, & yet her part was non
Ther cam a cur, while yt they wer so wroth
And bare away the bone from hein bothe
And therfore, at kynges court my brother
Eche man for hym selfe, there is non other
Loue if thou lyst, for I loue and ay shall
And sothly lefe brother thys is all
Here in thys prison more we endure
And eueryche of vs taken hys auenture
Gret was the strife betwix hem twey
If that I had leyser for to fry
But to theffect, It happed on a day
To tell it you shortly as I may.
A worthy duke that hyght Perithous
That felowe was to duke Theseus
Syth thylke day yt they were chyldren lyte
Was come to Athenes, hys felow to visyte
And for to play, as he was wonte to do
For in this worlde he loued no man so
And he loued hym as tenderly agayne
So well they loued, as olde bokes sayne
That whē that one was deed, sothly to tell
His felow went & sought hym downe in hell
But of that story lyst me not to write
Duke Perithous loued well Arcite
And had hym know at Thebes yere by yere
And fynally at request and prayere
Of Peithous, withouten any raunson
Duke Theseus let hym out of pryson
Frely to you, whither hym lyst ouer all
In suche agyfe, as I you tellen shall.
Page  iiiThys was the forewarde, playnly to endyte
Betwyx duke Theseus and hym Arcite
That yf so were, that Arcite were yfounde
Euer in hys lyfe, by daye, nyght or stounde
In any countre of thys duke Theseus
And he were caught, it was accorded thus
That wyth a swerde he shulde lese hys heed
There nas none other remedy ne reed
But taketh hys leaue, and homward hym sped
Let hym beware, hys necke lyeth to wedde
Howe great sorowe suffreth nowe Arcite
The death he feleth through hys herte smyte
He wepeth, wayleth, and cryeth pyteously
To sleen hym selfe he wayteth priuely
And sayd, alas the daye that I was borne
Nowe is my preson worse then beforne
Nowe is me shappen eternally to dwell
Not in purgatory, but in hell
Alas that euer I knewe Perithous
For els had I dwelt wyth Theseus
I fetered in hys prison euer mo
Then had I be in blysse, and not in wo
Onely the syght of her, whom that I serue
Though that I neuer her grace maye deserue
wolde haue suffysed ryght ynough for me
O dere cosyn Palamon (quod he)
Thyne is the victory of thys auenture
Full blysfull in prison mayst thou endure
In prison, Nay certes but in paradyse
well hath fortune to the tourned the dyse
That hast the syght of her, and I thabsence
For possible is, sythnes thou hast her presence
And arte a knyght, a worthy man and able
That by some case, syn fortune is chaungeable
Thou mayst some tyme to thy desyre attayne
But I that am exiled, and barayne
Of all grace, and in so great dyspeyre
That ther nys water, erth, fyre, ne eyre
Ne creature, that of hem maked is
That maye me heale, or done comforte in thys
well ought I sterue in wanhope and dystresse
Farwell my lyfe, my lust and my gladnesse
Alas, why playnen men so in comune
Of purueyaunce of God, or of fortune
That yeueth hem full ofte in many a gyse
well bette then hem selfe can deuyse
Some man desyreth to haue rychesse
That cause is of her murdre or sycknesse
And some man wolde out of hys prison fayne
That in hys house, is of hys meyne slayne
Infinite harmes bene in thys matere
we wote not what thynge we prayen here
we faren as he, that dronke is as a mouse
A dronken man wote well, he hath an house
But he wote nat, whych the ryght waye thyder
And to a dronken man the waye is slyder
And certes in thys worlde so faren we
we seken fast after felicite
But we go wronge ful ofte truly
Thus may we saye al, and namely I
That wenden, and had a great opinion
That yf I myght scape fro prison
Th•• had I bene in ioye and parfyte hele
There nowe I am exiled fro my wele
Syth that I maye not sene you Emely
I nam but deed, there nys no remedy
¶Vpon that other syde Palamon
when that he wyst Arcite was gone
Such sorowe he maketh, that the great tour
Resowned of hys yellynge and clamour
The pure fetters on hys shynnes grete
were of hys bytter salte teares wete
Alas ({quod} he) Arcite cosyn myne
Of all our stryfe, god wote the frute is thyne
Thou walkest nowe in Thebes at large
And of my wo, thou yeuest lytle charge
Thou mayst, syth thou hast wisedome & māhed
Assemble al the folke of our kynred
And make warre so sharpe in thys countre
That by some auenture, or by some treate
Thou mayst haue her to lady and to wyfe
For whom I must nedes lese my lyfe
For as by waye of possibilite
Syth thou arte at thy large of prison fre
And arte a lorde, great is thyne auauntage
More then is myne, that sterue here in a cage
For I maye wepe and wayle, whyles yt I lyue
wyth all the wo that prison maye me yeue
And eke wyth payne, that loue yeueth me also
That doubleth al my tourment and my wo
Therwyth the fyre of ielousy vp stert
wythin hys brest, and hent hym by the hert
So woodly, that he lykely was to beholde
The boxe tree, or the ashen deed and colde
Then sayd he. O cruell goddes, that gouerne
Thys worlde wyth your worde eterne
And wrytten in the table of Athamant
Your parliament and eterne graunt
what is mankynde more vnto you yholde
Then is the shepe, that rouketh in the folde?
For slayne is man, ryght as another beest
And dwelleth eke in prison, and in arrest
And hath sycknesse, and great aduersite
And ofte tyme gyltlesse parde
Page  [unnumbered]What gouernaunce is in thys prescience
That gyltlesse turmenteth innocence?
And encreaseth thus all my penaunce
That man is bounden to hys obseruaunce
For goddes sake, to letten of hys wyll
There as a beest maye all hys lustes fulfyll
And when a beest is deed, he hath no payne
But after hys death mā mote wepe and playne:
Though in thys worlde he haue care and wo
wythout doute it maye standen so.
The answere of thys lete I to diuines
But well I wote, in thys worlde great pyne is
Alas I se a serpent or a thefe
That many a true man hath do myschefe
Gone at hys large, & where hym lyst may turne
But I mote bene in prison through Saturne
And eke through Iuno, ielous and eke wood
That hath stroyed well nye all the blood
Of Thebes, wyth hys wast walles wyde
And Venus sleeth me on that other syde
For ielousye, and feare of hym Arcite.
Nowe wyll I slynte of Palamon a lyte
And let hym in hys pryson styll dwell
And of Arcite forth woll I you tell
The sommer passeth, and the nyghtes longe
Encreaseth double wyse the paynes stronge
Both of the louer, and of the prisoner
I not whych hath the wofuller myster
For shortly to saye, thys Palamon
Perpetuall is dampned to prison
In haynes and feters to the deed
And Arcite is exiled on hys heed
For euermore as out of that countre
Or neuer more shall hys lady se
You louers aske I now thys question
Who hath the wose, Arcite or Palamon?
That one maye se hys lady daye by daye
But in prison mote he dwell alwaye
That other where hym lyst maye ryde or go
But sene hys lady shall he neuer mo
Nowe demeth as ye lyst, ye that can
For I woll tell forth my tale as I began
¶When that Arcite to Thebes comen was
Full ofte a daye he swelte and sayd alas
For sene hys lady shall he neuer mo
And shortly to conclude all hys wo
So mykell sorowe made neuer creature
That is or shalbe, whyle the worlde maye dure
Hys slepe, hys meate, hys drynke is hym byraft
That leane he wareth, and drye as a shaft
Hys eyen holowe, and grysly to beholde
Hys hewe pale, and falowe as asshen colde
And solitary he was, and euer alone
And waylynge all the nyght, makynge mone
And yf he herde songe or instrument
Then wolde he wepe, he myght not stent
So feble were hys spirites, and so lowe
And chaūged so, yt no man coude hym knowe
Hys speche ne hys voyce, though men it herde
As in hys gyre, for all the worlde it ferde
Nought comly lyke to louers maladye
Of Hereos but rather lyke manye
Engendred of Humours melancolyke
Beforne hys fell fantastyke
And shortly was turned all vp so doun
Both habyte and dysposicion
Of hym, thys wofull louer Arcyte
what shulde I all daye of hys wo endyte?
When he endured had a yere or two
Thys cruell torment, and thys payne and wo
At Thebes in hys countre, as I sayd
Vpon a nyght in slepe as he hym layde
Hym thought howe that the wynged Mercury
Beforne hym stode, and bad hym to be mery
Hys slepy yerde in hande he bare vpryght
An harte he wered vpon hys heares bryght
Arayed was thys god, as he toke kepe
As he was, when Argus toke hys slepe
And said him thus: to Athenes shalt thou wend
There is the shapen of thy wo an end
And wyth that worde Arcite awoke and stert
Nowe truly howe sore that me smert
Quoth he, to Athenes ryght nowe wyll I fare
Ne for no drede of death shall I spare
To se my lady, that I loue and serue
In her presence recke I not to sterue
And with that word he caught a great myrrour
And sawe that changed was al hys colour
And sawe hys vysage all in another kynde
And ryght anone it ran hym in hys mynde
That syth hys face was so dysfygured
Of maladye, the whych he had endured
He myght well, yf that he bare hym lowe
Lyue in Athenes euermore vnknowe
And sene hys ladye well nyghe daye by daye
And ryght anone he chaunged hys araye
And clad hym as a poore labourer
And all alone, saue only a squyer
That knewe hys priuitie and all hys caas
whych was dysgysed poorely as he was
To Athenes is he gone the nexte waye
And to the courte he wente vpon a daye
And at the gate he profered hys seruyce
To druge and drawe, what so men wold deuyse
Page  iiiiAnd shortely of thys mater for to sayne
He fell in offyce with a chamberlayne
The whiche was dwellyng with Emelye
For he was wyse, and sone couth espye
Of euery seruaunt, whiche that serued here
Well couthe he hewen wodde, & water bere
For he was yong and myghty for the nones
And therto he was strong & bygge of bones
To done that any wyght can him deuyse.
A yere or two he was in thys seruyse
Page of the chambre, of Emely the bright
And Phylostrate he sayd that he hyght
But halfe so well beloued man as he
Ne was there none in court, of hys degre
He was so gentyll of condicyon
That through all the court was hys renoun
They sayd that it were a charyte
That Theseus wolde enhauncen hys degre
And put hym in a worshyp full seruyse
There as he myght hys vertue exercyse
And thus wtin a whyle hys name is spronge
Bothe of hys dedes, and of hys good tonge
That Theseus had taken hym so nere
That of hys chambre he made hym squyere
And yafe hym golde to maynteyn hys degre
And eke men brought hym out of hys coutre
Fro yere to yere full priuely hys rent
But honestly and slyly he it spent
That no man wondred howe he it had
And thre yere in thys wyse hys lyfe he ladde
And bare hym so in peace and eke in werre
Ther was no man that Theseus hath der.
And in thys blysse lette I nowe Aryte
And speke I woll of Palamon a lyte.
In derknesse horryble and stronge prison
Thys seuen yere hath sytten thys Palamon
Forpyned, what for wo and distresse
who feleth double sore and heuynesse
But Palamon: that loue distrayneth so
That wode out of hys wit, he gothe for wo
And eke therto he is a prisonere
Perpetuall, and not onely for a yere.
Who coude ryme in Englysshe properly
Hys martyrdom▪ forsoth it am nat I
Therfore I passe as lyghtly as I may
It befell that in the seuenth yere in May
The thyrde nyght, as olde bokes sayne
(That all thys story tellen more playne)
were it by auenture or by destayne
As whan a thyng is shapen, it shall be
That soon after mydnight, Palamon
By helpyng of a frende brake hys prison
And fleethe the cyte, as fast as he may go
For he had yeue hys gayler drynke so
Of a clarrey, made of certen wyne
Wyth narcotise and opye, of Thebes fyne
That al yt night, thogh mē wolde hym shake
The gayler slept, he mught nat awake
And thus he fleeth as fast as he may.
The nyght was short, & fast by the day
That nedes cost he mote hym selfe hyde
And to a groue faste there besyde
with dredfull foote than stalketh Palamon
For shortly thys was hys opinyon
That in yt groue he wolde hym hyde al day
And in the nyght then wold he take his way
To Thebes warde, hys rendes for to prey
On Theseus to helpe hym to warrey
And shortly, eyther he wolde lese hys lyfe
Or wynne Emelye vnto hys wyfe
Thys is theffecte, and hys entent playne.
¶Nowe woll I torne to Arcite agayne
That lytell wyst howe nye was hys care
Tyl yt fortune had brought hym in her share
The mery larke, messanger of day
Saleweth in her songe the morowe gray
And firy Phebus aryseth vp so bright
That all the oriso•• laugheth of the syght
And with hys streames, drieth in the greues
The syluer dropes, hangyng in the leues
And Arcite, that in the courte ryall
with Theseus hys squier principall
Is rysen, and loketh on the mery day
And for to don hys obseruaunces to May
Remembryng on the poynt of hys desyre
He on hys courser, startlyng as the fyre
Is rydden in to the feldes hym to play
Out of the court, were it a myle or twey
And to the groue, of whyche I you tolde
By auenture, hys way he gan holde
To maken hym a garlonde of the greues
were it of wodbynde, or of hauthorn leues
And loude he songe ayenst the sonne shene.
May, wyth all thy floures and thy grene
welcom be thou, fayre fresshe May
I hope that I some grene get may
And from hys courser, wyth a lusty herte
In to the groue full hastely he sterte
And in a pathe he romed vp and doun
There, as by auenture thys Palamon
was in a busshe, that no man myght hym se
For sore aferde of hys dethe was he
Nothyng ne knewe he, that it was Arcite
God wote he wolde haue trowed full lyte
Page  [unnumbered]But sothe is sayd, go sythen many yeres
That felde hath eyen, and wodde hath eres
It is full fayre a man to beare hym euyn
For al day men mete at vnset steuyn
Full lytell wote Arcyte of hys felawe
That was so nyghe to herken of hys sawe
For in the busshe sytteth he nowe full styll
Whan that Arcyte had romed all hys fyll
And songen all the roundell lustely
In to a study he fell sodenly
As don these louers in theyr quyent gyres
Now in the croppe, & now down in ye brires
Nowe vp nowe downe, as boket in a well
Ryght as the friday, sothly for to tell
Nowe it rayneth, nowe it shyneth fast
Ryght so gan gery Venus ouer cast
The hertes of her folke, ryght as her day
Is geryfull, ryght so chaungeth she aray
Selde is the friday all the weke tlyke
Whan ye Arcite had songe, he gan to syke
And set hym downe wythouten any more
Alas ({quod} he) the day that I was bore
Howe longe Iuno through thy cruelte
Wylt thou warren Thebes the cyte▪
Alas ybrought is to confusyon
The blode ryall of Cadmus and Amphyon
Of Cadmus, whiche was the fyrst man
That Thebes buylt, or fyrst the town began
And of the cyte fyrst was crowned kyng
Of hys lynage am I, and of hys ofspring
By very lyne, as of the stocke ryall
And nowe I am so caytise and so thrall
That he that is my mortal enemy
I serue hym, as hys squire poorly
And yet dothe me Iuno well more shame
For I dare not be knowe myne owne name
But there as I was wont to hyght Arcyte
Now hyght I Philostrat nat worth a myte
Alas thou fell Mars, alas thou Iuno
Thus hath your yre our lynage all for do
Saue only me, and wretched Palamon
That Theseus martreth in pryson
And ouer all thys to sleen me vtterly
Loue hath hys firy darte so bremyngly
I stycked through my true carefull herte
That shapen was my deth erst my sherte
Ye sleen me wyth youre eyen Emelye
Ye ben the cause wherfore I dye
Of all the remenaunt of myne other care
Ne set I nat the mountaunce of a tare
So yt I coude do ought to your plesaunce
And with yt worde he fell down in a traunce
A longe tyme, and afterwarde he vp stort
This Palamon thought ye thrugh his hert
He felte a colde sworde sodenly glyde
For yre he quoke, no lenger wolde he abyde
And whan that he had herde Arcites tale
As he were wood, with face deed and pale
He sterte hym vp, out of the busshes thycke
And sayd: Arcyte false traytour wycke
Nowe art thou hent, that louest my lady so
For whom that I haue th•• payne and wo
And art my bloode, & to my counsell sworn
As I haue full ofte tolde the here beforn
And hast be taped here duke Theseus
And falsly hast chaunged thy name thus
I wyll be deed, or els thou shalt dye
Thou shalt nat loue my lady Emelye
But I woll loue her onely and no mo
For I am Palamon thy mortall for
Though yt I haue no weapen in thys place
But out of pryson am assert by grace
I drede not, that eyther thou shalt dye
Or thou ne shalt not louen Emelye
These which thou wilt, or ye shalt not assert
This Arcite, with full dispytous hert
Whan he hym knewe, & had hys tale herde
As sters as a lyon, pulled out his swerde
And sayd: By god that sytteth aboue
Ne were it yt thou art syck, & wood for loue
And eke yt thou no wepen hast in thys place
Thou shuldest neuer out of this groue pace
That thou ne shuldest dyen of myne honde
For I defye the s••etie and the bonde
Whiche yt thou sayst yt I haue made to the
What very fole, thynke wel that loue is fre
And I wyl loue her maugre all thy myght
But for as moche as thou arte a knyght
And wylnest to darrayne here by batayle
Haue here my trouth, to morow I wyll nat fayle
without wetyng a any other wyght
That here I well be founden as a knyght
And bryngen harneys, ryght ynough for the
And chese the best, & leaue the worst for me.
And meate & drynke, this night wyl I bring
Inough for the, and clothes for thy beddyng
And yf so be that thou my lady wyn
And slee me in thys wodde ther I am in
Thou mayst wel haue thy lady as for me.
This Palamon answerde: I graunt it the
And thus they ben departed tyll a morowe
whā ech of hem had laid his faith to borowe
¶O Cupyde out of all charyte
O regne, yt woldest haue no felowe with the
Page  vFul soth is sayd, that loue ne lordshyp
woll not hys thankes haue any felyshyp
we fynde that of Arcite and of Palamon
Arcite is ryden anone into the toun
And on the morowe or it were daye lyght
Ful priuely two harneys hath he dyght
Both sufficient and mete to darreygne
The batayle in ye felde betwyre hem tweine
And on hys horse, alone as he was borne
He caryeth all hys harneys hym beforne
And in the groue, at tyme and place yset
Thys Arcite & thys Palamon bene mette
To chaungen gan the colour in her face
Ryght as the hunter, in ye regne of Trace
That ••andeth at a gappe wyth a speare
when unted is the lyon or the beare
And hereth hym rushynge in the leaues
And breaketh the bowes in the greaues
And thiketh, here cometh my mortal enemy
wythout fayle, he must be deed or I
For eyther I more slee hym at the gappe
Or he more slee me, yf me myshappe
So ferden they, in chaungynge of her hewe
As farre as euerych of other knewe
There nas no good daye, ne no saluyng
But streyght, wythout worde or rehersyng
Eueryche of hem helpeth for to arme other
As frendly, as he were hys owne brother
And after that, wyth sharpe speares stronge
They foynen eche at other wonder longe
Thou myghtest wene, that thys Palamon
In hys fyghtynge, were a wood Lyon
And as a cruel Tygre was Arcyte
As wylde bores gan they fyght and smyte
That frothen whyte as some for yre woode
••p to the ancle foughten they in her bloode
••d in thys wyse, I let hem fyghtyng dwell
And forth I wol of Theseus you tel.
The destenye and the minister general
That executeth in the worlde ouer al
The purueyaūce that god hath sayd beforne
So strōge it is, yt though ye world had sworn
The contrary of thynge he yea or naye
Yet somtyme it shall fall on a daye
That fell neuer yet in a thousande yere
For certaynly our appetytes here
Be it of warre, peace, hate, or loue
Al is ruled by the syght aboue
Thys meane I nowe by myghty Theseus
That for to hunt is so desyrous
And namely at the great harte in May
That in hys bed there daweth hym no day
That he nys clad, and redy for to ryde
Wyth hunt and horne, & hoūdes hym besyde
For in hys huntyng hath he such delyte
That it is all hys ioye and appetyte
To bene hym selfe the great hertes bane
For after Mars, he serueth nowe Dyane
Clere was the day, as I haue told or this
And Theseus, wyth al ioye and blys
Wyth hys Ipolita, the fayre quene
And Emely, yclothen all in grene
An huntynge ben they rydden ryally
And to the groue, that stode there fast by
In which ther was an herte, as mē him told
Duke Theseus the streyght waye hath hold
And to the lande, he rydeth hym ful ryght
For thider was ye hert wōt to haue his flight
And ouer a broke, and so forth on hys way
This duke wol houe a cours at him or twey
With hoūdes, such as hym lyst cōmaunde
And when ye duke was comen into ye launde
Vnder the sonne he loked, and that anon
He was ware of Arcyte and Palamon
That foughtē breme, as it were bulles two
The bryght swordes wenten to and fro
So hydously, that wyth the leste stroke
It semed, that it wolde haue fellen an oke
But what they weren, nothynge he ne wote
This duke wt his sporres his courser smote
And at a sterte he was bytwyxt hem two
And pulled out hys sworde, and cryed, ho
Nomore, on payne of lesyng of your heed
By myghty Mars, he shall anone be deed
That smyteth any stroke, that I maye sene
But telleth me, what myster men ye bene
That ben so hardy for to fyghten here
Wythout iudge, or other offycere
As though it were in lystes rially.
Thys Palamon answered hastely
And sayd: syr, what nedeth wordes mo▪
We haue the death deserued both two
Two wofull wretches ben we & caytyues
That ben encombred of our owne lyues
And as thou arte a ryghfull lorde and iuge
Ne yeue vs neyther mercy ne refuge
But slee me fyrst, for saynt charite
But slee my felowe as wel as me
Or slee hī fyrst, for though thou know it lite
This is thy mortal foe, thys is Arcite
That fro thy lande is banyshed on hys heed
For whych he hath deserued to be deed
For thys is he, that came vnto thy yate
And sayd, that he hyght Philostrate
Page  [unnumbered]Thus hath he iaped full many a yere
And thou hast made hym thy chefe squire
And thys is he, that loueth Emely.
For sythe the day is come that I shall dye
I make playnly my confessyon
I am thylke woful Palamon
That hath thy prison broke wyckedly
I am thy mortall foe, and he am I
That loueth so hotte Emelye the bright
That I wol dye here present in her syght
wherfore I aske dethe and my iewyse
But slee my felowe in the same wyse
For bothe we haue deserued to be slayn
This worthy duke answerde anon agayn
And sayd, this is a shorte conclusyon
Your owne mouthe, by your confessyon
Hath dampned you, and I woll it recorde
It nedeth not to pyne you wyth a corde
Ye shall be deed by myghty Mars the reed
The quene anone, for very woman heed
Gan for to wepe, and so dyd Emelye
And all the ladyes in the companye
Great pyte was it, as thought hem all
That euer suche a chaunce shulde befall
For gentylmen they were of great estate
And nothyng but for loue was thys debate
And sawe her blody woundes wyde & sore
And all cryden bothe lesse and more
Haue mercy lorde vpon vs wymen all
And on her bare knees downe they fall
And wolde haue kyst his fete there he stode
Tyl at the last, a slaked was hys mode
For pyte renueth sone in gentle herte
And though he fyrst for yre quoke & sterte
He hath consydred shorthly in a clause
The trespas of hem bothe, & eke the cause
And al though hys yre her gylt accused
Yet in hys reason he hem bothe excused
As thus: he thought well that euery man
woll helpe hym selfe in loue al that he can
And eke delyuer hym selfe out of a pryson
And eke hys herte, had compassyon
Of wymen, for they wepen euery in one
And in hys gentle heyte he thought anone
And softe vnto hym selfe he sayd: fy
Vpon a lorde, that woll haue no mercy
But be a lyon, bothe in worde and dede
To hem that ben in repentaunce & in drede
As well as to a proude dispytous man
That wyll mayntayne that he fyrst began
That lorde hath lytell of discretyon
That in suche case can no diffynition
But wayeth pride and humblesse after one
And shortly, whan hys yre was thus agone
He gan to loken vp with eyen lyght
And spake these wordes al on hyght
The god of loue, ah, benedicite
Howe myghty, & howe great a lorde is he
Agayn hys myght ther gayneth no obstacles
He may be cleaped a god for hys miracles
For he can maken at hys owne gyse
Of euerych hert, as hym lyst deuyse
Lo here thys Arcyte, and thys Palamon
That quitely were out of my prison gon
And myght haue lyued in Thebes ryally
And knowen I am her mortall enemy
And that her dethe is in my power also
And yet hath loue, maugre her eyen two
Brought hem hyther bothe for to dye
Nowe loketh, is not this a great folye▪
Who may be a fole, but yf he loue▪
Beholde for goddes sake, that sytteth aboue
Se howe they blede, be they nat wel arayde
Thus hath her lord, ye god of loue hem payd
Her wages and her fees for her seruyse
And yet they wenen to be full wyse
That serue loue, for aught that may be fall
But yet is this the best gme of all
That she, for whom they haue thys iolyte
Can hem therfore, as moche thanke as me
She wotte nomore of all this hote face
By God, than wotte a cokowe or an hare
But all mote ben assayed hote and colde
A man mote ben a foole other yong or olde
I wote it by my selfe full yore agone
For in my tyme, a seruaunte was I one
And therfore syth I knowe of loues payne
I wote howe sore it can a man distrayne
As he that ofte hath be caught in her laas▪
I you foryeue all hooly this trespaas
At the request of the quene, ye kneleth here
And eke of Emely, my syster dere
And ye shall bothe anon anto me swere
That ye shal neuer more my countre dere
Ne make warre vpon me nyght ne day
But ben my frendes in all that ye may
I you for yene thys trespas euery dele
And they hym swace his asking fair & wele
And him of lordshyp and of mercy prayde
And he hem graunted grace, & thus he sayde.
To speake of worthy lynage & rychesse
Though ye she were a quene, or a princesse
Ilke of you bothe is worthy doutles
To wedde whan tyme is, but netheles
Page  viI speake, as for my syster Emely
For whom ye haue thys stryfe and ielowsy
Ye wote your selfe, she maye not wedde two
At ones, though ye fyghten euer mo
But one of you, all be hym loth or lefe
He mote go pype in an yue lefe
Thys is to saye, she maye not haue both
Ne ben ye neuer so ielous, ne so wroth
And therfore, I you put in thys degre
That eche of you shall haue hys destyne
As hym is shape, and herken in what wyse
Lo here your ende, of that I shall deuyse
My wyll is thys, for plat conclusion
Wythout any replicacion
Yf that you lyketh, taketh it for the best
That euerych of you shall go where him lyst
Frely, wythout raunsome or daungere
And thys daye fyftye wekes, ferre ne nere
Euerych of you shall brynge an .C. knyghtes
Armed for the lystes vp all ryghtes
Al redy to darreyne here by batayle
And thys behote I you wythouten fayle
Vpon my trouth, as I am true knyght
That whether of you both, hath that myght
That is to saye, that whether he or thou
May wyth his hūdred, as I spake of now
Slee hys contrary, or out of lystes dryue
Hym shall I yene Emely to wyue
To whom yt fortune yeueth so fayre a grace.
The lystes shall I maken in thys place
And god so wysely on my soule rewe
As I shal euyn iudge be and trewe
Ye shall none other ende wyth me make
That one of you shalbe deed or take
And yf ye thynken, thys is wel ysayd
Sayeth your aduyse, & holde you wel apayd
Thys is your ende, and your conclusion.
Who loketh lyghtly now but Palamon
Who spryngeth vp for ioye but Arcite
Who coude tel, or who coude endyte
The ioye that is made in thys place
When Theseus had done so fayre a grace
But doun on knees wēt euery maner wight
And thanked him, wyth al her hert & myght
And namely these Thebans many sythe
And thus wyth good hope & herte blythe
They takē her leue, & hōward gan they ryde
To Thebes warde, wyth olde walles wyde
I trowe men wolde deme it negligence
Yf I foryetten to tell the dyspence
Of Theseus, that goeth so busely
To maken vp the lystes royally
That suche a noble Theatre, as it was
I dare well saye, in thys worlde ther nas
The circute a myle was about
Walled wyth stone, and dyched al about
Roūde was the shape, in maner of a compas
Full of degrees, the heygth of fyrty paas
That when a man was set on one degre
He letted not hys felowe for to s
Estward there stode a gate of marble whyte
westward ryght suche another in thopposite
And shortly to conclude, suche a place
was none in erth, as in so lytle space
For in the lande, there nas no craftes man
That gemetry, or arsmetyke can
Ne portriture, ne caruer of ymages
That Theseus ne gaue hym mete & wages
The theatre for to make and deuyse
And for to do hys ryte and sacrifyce
He estwarde hath vpon the yate aboue
In worshyp of Venus, goddes of loue
Do make an auter, and an oratory
And on the westsyde, in memory
Of Mars, he hath maked such another
That cost of golde largely a fother
And northwarde, in a turret in the wal
Of alabastre whyte, and redde coral
An oratorye, ryche for to se
In worshyp of Diane, goddes of chastite
Hath Theseus do wrought in noble wyse
But yet had I foryetten to deuyse
The noble caruynges and the portratures
The shap, the countenaunce, & the fygures
That weren in the oratories thre
Fyrst in the tēple of Venus thou mayst se
wrought on the wal, ful pytously to beholde
The broken slepes, and the syghes colde
The sault teares, and the waymentyng
The fyre strokes, and the desyryng
That loues seruauntes in thys lyfe enduren
The othes, that her couenauntes assuren
Plesaunce and hope, desyre, foole hardynesse
Beauty and youth, baudry and rychesse
Charmes and sorcery, leasynges and flatery
Dyspence, busynesse, and ielousy
That weared of yelowe goldes a garlande
And a cokowe syttynge on her honde
Feestes, instrumentes, carolles, and daunces
Iustes and araye, and al the circumstaunces
Of loue, whych I reken and reken shal
By ordre, were paynted on the wal
And mo then I can make of mencion
For sothly all the mounte of Cytheron
Page  [unnumbered]Where Venus hath her principal dwellyng
was shewed on the wall in portreyng
wyth all the ioye, and the lustynesse
Nought was foryetē the portresse ydelnesse
Ne Narcissus the fayre of yore agon
Ne yet the folye of kynge Salomon
Ne yet the great strength of Hercules
Thenchauntement of Medea and Circes
Ne of Turnus, wyth his hardy fyers corage
The ryche Cresus caytyfe in seruage
Thus may ye sene, that wisdome ne richesse
Beaute ne sleyght, strength ne hardynesse
Ne may wyth Venus holde champartye
For as her lyst the worlde maye she gye
Lo, al these folke so caught were in her laas
Tyll they for wo full ofte sayd alas
Suffyseth here one ensample or two
And though I coude reken a thousande mo
The statue of Venus glorious to se
was maked fletynge in the large see
And fro the nauyll downe al couered was
wyth wawes grene, and bryght as any glas
A cytriole in her ryght hande had she
And on her heed, ful semely for to se
A rose garlande, freshe and wel smellynge
Aboue her heed doues flytterynge
Beforne her stode her sonne Cupido
Vpon hys shoulders wynges had he two
And blynde he was, as it is ofte sene
A bowe he had, and arowes bright and kene
why shulde I not as wel tellen al
The purgatory that was therabout ouer al
within the temple of myghty Mars the rede
Al paynted was the wal in length & in brede
Lyke to the Estris of the grysly place
That hyght ye gret tēple of Mars in Trace
In thylke colde frosty regyon
Ther Mars hath hys souerayne mancion
Fyrst on the wall was paynted a forest
In whych ther wonneth nother mā ne beest
Wyth knotty and knarry trees olde
Of stubbes sharpe, and hydous to beholde
In whych ther was a romble & a showe
As though a storme shuld breke euery bowe
And downward vnder an hyl vnder a bent
Ther stode the temple of Mars armipotent
wrought all of burnt stele, of whych thentre
was longe and streyght, and gastly for to se
And ther out came suche a rage & such a vyse
That it made all the gates for to ryse
The northren lyght in at the dores shone
For wyndowe on the wall was there none
Thrugh which mē might any lyght discerne
The dores were al of athamant eterne
Yclensed ouerthwarte and endlonge
wyth yren toughe, for to maken it stronge
Euery pyller, the temple to sustene
was tonne great, of yren bright and shene
¶There sawe I fyrst the derke ymagynyng
Of felony, and eke the compassyng:
The cruel yre, redde as any glede
The pyckpurse and eke the pale drede
The smyler, wyth the knyfe vnder the cloke
The shepen brennynge wyth ye blacke smoke
The treason of the murdrynge in the bede
The open warre, with woundes all be blede
Cōteke with blody knyues, & sharpe manace
All full of chyrkyng was that sory place
The fleer of hym selfe yet saw I there
His herte blood hath bathed all his here
The nayle ydriuen in the shode on hyght
with colde deth, wt mouth gapyng vpright
Amyddes of the temple sate Myschaunce
with Discomfort, and sory Countenaunce
Yet saw I wodnesse, laughyng in his rage
Armed complaynte on theft & fyers courage
The carrayne in the bushe, wt throte ycorne
A thousande slayne, & nat of qualme ystorne
The tyraunt with the pray by force yraft
The town distroyed ther was nothing ylaft
Yet sawe I brent the shyppes hoppesteres
The hunter ystrangled with ye wylde beares
The sowe frettyng the chylde in the cradyll
The coke yscaulded, for al his longe ladyll
Naught was foreten yt in fortune of Marte
The carter ouer rydden by his owne carte
Vnder the whele full lowe he laye a down
There were also of Martes diuysyon
The barbour, the boucher, and the smyth
That forgeth sharpe swordes on the styth
And all aboue depaynted in a toure
Sawe I Cōquest, syttyng in great honoure
with the sharpe sworde ouer his heed
Hangyng by a subtyl twyned threde
Depaynted was ther, ye slaughter of Iulius
Of great Nero, and of Anthonius
Al be that thylke tyme they were vnborne
Yet was her death depaynted there beforne
By manacynge of Mars, ryght by fygure
So was it shewed in that portreture
As is depaynted in the certres aboue
Who shalbe deed or els slayne for loue
Suffyseth one ensample in storyes olde
I may not reken them al, though I wolde
Page  viiThe statue of Marce vpon a carte stode
Armed, and loked grym as he were wode
And ouer hys heed ther shynen two fygures
Of sterres, that ben cleped in scryptures
That one (Puella) hyght, yt other (Rubeus)
Thys god armes was arayed thus
A wolfe there stode beforne hym at hys fete
Wyth eyen reed, and of a man he ete
wyth subtyl pensyl was paynted thys storie
In redoutynge of Marce and of hys glorye.
Nowe to the temple of Dyane the chaste
As shortly as I can I wol me haste
To tel you al the dyscriptyoun
Depaynted ben the walles vp and doun
Of huntyng and of shamfast chastyte
There sawe I howe woful Calistope
when that Dyane greued was wyth her
was turned fro a woman to a bere
And afterwarde was she made ye lode sterre
Thus was it paynted, I can saye no ferre
Her s••ne is eke a sterre, as men may se
There sawe I Dane turned vnto a tre
I meane not the goddesse Dyane
But Venus doughter, which ye hight Dane
There sawe I Atheon an herte ymaked
For vengeaūce yt he sawe Dyane al naked
I sawe how yt his hoūdes haue hym caught
And freten him, for they knewe hym naught
Yet ypaynted was a lytel ferthermore
Howe Athalant hunted the wylde bore
And Meliager, and many other mo
For whych Dyane wrought hym care & wo
There sawe I many another wonder storye
whych me lyst not to drawe in memorye
This goddesse ful wel vp an harte she is sete
wyth smale houndes al aboute her fete
And vnderneth her fete, she had a moone
waryng it was, and shulde wane soone
In gaudy grene, her statue clothed was
wyth bowe in hande, and arowes in a caas
Her eyen cast she ful lowe adoun
There Pluto hath hys darke regioun
A woman trauelynge was her before
But for her chylde, so longe was vnbore
Ful pytously Lucyna gan she cal
And sayd helpe, for thou mayst best of al
wel coude he paynte lyuelye that it wrought
wyth many a floreyn he the hewes bought
Now then these lystes made, & Theseus
That at hys great cost hath arayed thus
The temples, and the theatre euerydel
When it was done, it lyked him wōder wel
But stynte I wol of Theseus a lyte
And speke of Palamon and of Arcyte
The daye approcheth of her returnynge
That euerych shulde an .C. knyghtes brynge
The batayle to darreyne, as I you tolde
And to Athenes, her couenautes to holde
Hath euerich of hem brought an .C. knightes
wel armed for the warre, at al ryghtes
And sykerly, there trowed many a man
That neuer sythnes the worlde began
As for to speake of knyghthode, of her honde
As farre as god hath made see or londe
Nas of so fewe, so noble a company
For euery wyght, that loued chyualry
And wolde hys thākes haue a passing name
Hath prayed, that he myght be of that game
And wel was him, that therto chosen was
For yf there fel to morowe such a caas
Ye knowe wel, that euery lusty knyght
That loueth paramours, & hath hys myght
were it in Englande, or els where
They wolde fayne wyllen to be there
To fyght for a lady, ah, benedicite
It were a lusty syght for to se
And ryght so fardē they wyth Palamon
wyth hym there went knyghtes many on
Some wolde ben armed in an habergeon
And in a brest plate, wyth a lyght gyppion
And some wold haue a payre of plates large
And some wold haue a pruce sheld or a targe
Some wolde be armed on hys legges wele
And haue an axe, & some a mace of stele
There nas none newe gyse, that it nas olde
Armed were they, as I haue you tolde
Euerych after hys opinion
¶Ther mayst yu se comyng wyth Palamon
Lygurge hym selfe, the great kinge of Trace
Blacke was his berde, & māly was his face
The sercles of hys eyen in hys heed
They glouden betwyxte yelowe and reed
And lyke a lyon loked he aboute
wyth kemped heeres on his browes stoute
His lymmes great, hys brawnes stronge
His shoulders brode, his armes roūde & lōge
And as the gyse was in hys countre
Ful hye vpon a chare of golde stode he
wyth foure whyte bulles in the trays
In stede of a cote armure, ouer hys harnays
wyth nayles yelowe, & bryght as any golde
He hath a beares skyn, cole blacke for olde
His lōge heare was kempt behynd his backe
Page  [unnumbered]As any rauens fether it shone for blacke
A wreth of gold arme great, of huge weight
Vpon his heed, set ful of stones bryght
Of fyne rubyes and of dyamandes
About hys chare ther wente whyt allaundes
Twenty and mo, as great as any stere
To hunten at the lyon, or at the wilde bere
And folowed hym, wyth mosel fast ybounde
Colers of golde, and orrettes yfyled rounde
An hundred lordes had he in hys route
Armed ful wel, with hertes sterne and stoute
Wyth Arcite, in storyes as men fynde
The great Emetrius, the kynge of Ynde
Vpon a stede bay, trapped in stele
Couered wyth a cloth of golde diapred wele
Came rydyng lyke the god of armes Marce
Hys cote armure was of cloth of Trace
Couched wyth perle, whyte, rounde & gret
His sadel was of brent golde newe ybet
A mantel vpon hys shoulders hangyng
Bret full of rubyes, reed as fyre sparklyng
Hys cryspe heere lyke rynges was yronne
And yt was yelowe, & gletering as ye Sonne
Hys nose was hye, hys eyen bryght cytryn
Hys lyppes ruddy, hys colour was sanguyn
A fewe frekles in hys face yspreynte
Betwexte yelowe, & somdele blacke ymeynte
And as a lyon he hys eyen ceste
Of fyue and twenty yere hys age I geste
Hys berde was wel begonne for to sprynge
Hys voyce was as a trompet sownynge
Vpon hys heed he weared of laurer grene
A garlande freshe and lusty for to sene
Vpon hys hande he bare for hys delyte
And Egle tame, as any lylly whyte
An hundred lordes had he wyth hym there
Al armed saue her heedes in her gere
Ful rychely in al maner thynges
For trusteth wel, that erles, dukes, & kynges
were gathered in thys noble companye
For loue, and for encreace of chyualrye
About this kinge there ran on euery parte
Ful many a tame lyon and lyberte
And in thys wyse, these lordes al & some
Ben on the sonday to the cytie come
About prime, and in the towne alyght.
¶This These{us}, this duke this worthy kniʒt
when he had brought hem into hys cyte
And inned hem, euerych after hys degre
He feesteth hem, and doth so great laboure
To easen hem, and done hem al honoure
That yet men wenen that no mans wyt
Of none estate coude amende it
The mynstralcye, the seruyce at the feest
The great gyftes, to the moste and leest
The rich array, throughout Theseus paleys
Ne who sat fyrst ne last vpon the deys
what ladyes fayrest ben or best daūcyng
Or whych of hem can best daunce or syng
Ne who moste felyngly speketh of loue
Ne what haukes sytten or perchen aboue
Ne what houndes lyggen on ye floure adoun
Of al thys now make I no mencion
But al the effecte, that thynketh my the best
Now cometh ye point, herkeneth yf you lest
The sonday at night, or day begā to spryng
when Palamon the larke herde syng
Although it were not day by houres two
Yet songe the larke, & Palamon ryght tho
with holy herte and with an hye corage
He rose vp towenden on his pylgrimage
Vnto the blysful Cytherea benygne
I meane Venus honorable and dygne
And in her hour, he walketh forthe a paas
Vnto the lystes, there the temple was
And downe he kneleth, & with humble chere
And herte sore, he sayd as ye shal here
¶Fayrest of fayre: O lady myne Venus
Doughter of Ioue, and spouse to Vulcanus
Thou glader of the mount of Cytheron
For thylke loue thou haddest to Adon
Haue pyte of my bytter teares smerte
And take my humble prayer at thyne herte
Alas, I ne haue no langage to tel
The effecte, ne the turment of myne hel
Myne hert may not myne harmes bewraye
I am so confused, that I can not saye
But mercy lady bryght, that wost wele
My thought, & seest what harmes yt I fele
Consyder al thys, and rue vpon my sore
As wysly as I shal for euermore
Emforth my myght, thy true seruaunt be
And holde warre alwaye wyth chastite
That make I myne auowe, so ye me helpe
I kepe not of armes for to yelpe
Ne I ne aske to morowe to haue victory
Ne renome in thys case, ne vayne glory
Of pryse of armes, to blowen vp & doun
But wolde haue fulle possessyoun
Of Emely, and dye in her seruyce
Finde thou yt maner how, & in what wyse
I retche not, but it may better be
Page  viiiTo haue victory of hem, or they of me
So that I haue my lady in myn armes
For though so be that Mars is god of armes
Your vertue is so great in Heuen aboue
That yf you lyst, I shall wel haue my loue
Thy temple shal I worshyp euer mo
And on thyn auter, where I ryde or go
I wol don sacrifyce, and fyres bete
And yf ye wol not so, my lady swete
Than pray I you, to morowe with a spere
That Arcyte me through the herte bere
Than recke I not, whan I haue lost my lyfe
Thoughe Arcyte wynne her to wyfe
Thys is the effecte and ende of my prayere
Yeue me my lady, thou blysful lady dere
whan the orison was done of Palamon
His sacrifyce he dyd, and that anon
Ful pytously, with al cyrcumstaunces
Al tel I nat as nowe hys obseruaunces.
But at the laste, the statue of Venus shoke
And made a sygne, wherby that he toke
That hys prayere accepted was that day
For though the sygne shewed a delay
Yet wist he wel, that graunted was his bone
And wt glad hert he went him hom ful sone
The thyrde houre in equal that Palamon
Began to Venus temple for to gon
Tp rose the sonne, and vp rose Emelye
And vnto the temple of Dyane gan hye
Her maydens, the whiche thyder were lad
Ful redely with hem the fyre they had
The ensence, the clothes, & the remenaunt al
That to the sacrifyce longen shall
The hornes ful of meethe, as was the gyse
There lacked nought to don her sacrifyce
Smokyng the temple, ful of clothes fayre
This Emely, with herte debonayre
Her body wyshe, with water of a wel
But how she dyd ryght I dare nat tel
But it be any thyng in generall
And yet it were a game to here it all
To him that meaneth wel, it were no charge
But it is good a man be at his large
Her bright heare was vnkēpt & vntressed all
A crowne of a grene oke vnseryall
Vpon her heed set ful fayre and mete
Two fyres on the aulter gan she bete
And dyd her thynges, as men may beholde
In Stace of Thebes, and these bookes olde
whan kenled was the fyre, wt pitous chere
Vnto Dyane she spake as ye may here
¶O chaste goddesse of the woddes grene
To whom both heuen & erthe and see is sene
Quene of the reygne of pluto, derke & lowe
Goddesse of maydēs, yt myn hert hath know
Ful many a yere, and woste what I desyre
As kepe me fro the vengeaunce of thyn yre
That Acteon abought cruelly
Chaste goddesse, wel woste thou that I
Desyre to ben a mayde al my lyfe
Ne neuer wol I be loue ne wyfe
I am thou (woste wel) of thy company
A mayde, and loue huntyng and venery
And for to walken in the woddes wylde
And not for to ben a wyfe, & ben with chylde
Nought wyl I knowe companye of man
Nowe helpe me lady sythe ye may and can
For tho thre formes that thou haste in the
And Palamon, that hath suche a loue to me
And eke Arcyte, that loueth me so sore
This grace I pray the, withouten more
And sende loue and peace bytwyxt hem two
And fro me turne away her hertes so
That al her hotte loue, and her desyre
And al her busy turment, and al her fyre
Be queynt, or turned in an other place
And if so be thou wolte not do me that grace
Or yf so be my desteny be shapen so
That I shal nedes haue one of hem two
As sende me hym that moste desyreth me.
Beholde goddesse of clene chastyte
The bytter teares, that on my chekes fal
Syn thou arte a mayde, and keper of vs all
My maydenhede thou kepe, and wel cōserue
And whyle I lyue, a mayden wol I yt serue.
¶The fyres brenne vpon the auter clere
whyle Emely was thus in her prayere
But sodenly she sawe a thyng queynte
For ryght anon, one of the fyres queynte
And quycked agayn, and after that anon
That other fyre was queynte, and al agon
And as it queynte it made a whystlyng
As don these wete brondes in her brennyng
And at the brondes ende, out ran anone
As it were bloddy droppes many one
For whiche so sore agaste was Emelye
That she was wel nye madde, & gan to crye
For she ne wyste what it sygnyfyed
But onely for the feare thus she cryed
And wepte, that it was pyte for to here
And therwithal Dyane gan to apere
With bowe in honde, right as an hunteresse
And sayd doughter, stynte thyn heuynesse
Page  [unnumbered]Amonge the goddes hye it is affyrmed
And by eterne worde, wrytten & confyrmed
Thou shalt be wedded to one of tho
That haue for the so much care and wo
But vnto whych of hem I may not tel
Farewel, for I may no lenger dwel
The fyres, whych on myne auter brenne
Shal declaren, er that thou gon henne
Thys auenture of loue, as in thys case
And with ye worde, the arowes in the case
Of the goddes, clatteren fast and rynge
And forth she went, and made vaneshynge
For whych thys Emely astonyed was
And sayd: what mounteth thys, alas
I put me vnder thy protection
Dyane, and vnder thy dysposycion
And home she goth the next waye
This is the effect, there is nomore to saye.
The nexte houre of Mars folowyng this
Arcite vnto the temple walked is
On fyers Mars, to done hys sacrifyse
wyth al the myght of hys paynem wyse
wyth pytous herte, and hye deuocion
Ryght thus to Mars he sayd hys orison
¶O stronge god, that in the reygnes colde
Of trace honoured arte, and lorde yholde
And hast in euery reygne and euery lande
Of armes, al the brydle in thyne hande
And hem fortunest, as thy lyst deuyse
Accepte of me my pytous sacrifyce
Yf so be my thought may deserue
And that my might be worthy for to serue
Thy godhede, that I maye ben one of thyne
Then praye I the, that thou rue on my pyne
For thylke payne, and thylke hotte fyre
In whech thou brentest whylom for desyre
when thou vsedest the fayre beaute
Of fayre yonge freshe Venus fre
And haddest her in thyne armes, at thy wyll
Al though thou ones on a tyme myssyll
when Vulcanus had caught the in hys laas
And founde thy lyggynge by hys wyfe alas
For thylke sorowe, that was in thyne herte
Haue ruth as wel on my paynes smerte
I am yonge and vnconning, as thou wost
And as I trowe, wyth loue offended most
That euer was any lyues creature
For she that doth me al thys wo endure
Ne retcheth neuer, where I synke or flete
And wel I wote, or she me mercy hete
I mote wyth strength wyn her in this place
And wel I wote, wythout helpe or grace
Of the, ne may my strength not auayle
Thē helpe me lorde to morow in my batayle
For thylke fyre, that whylom brent the
As well as the fyre nowe brenneth me
And do, that I to morowe haue vyctorye
Myn be the trauayle, and thyn be the glorye
Thy souerayne tēple wol I moste honouren
Of any place, and alwaye most labouren
In thy pleasaunce, and in thy raftes strōge
And in thy temple, I wol my baner honge
And al the armes of my companye
And euermore, vntyl the daye I dye
Eterne fyre I wol beforne the fynde
And eke to thys auowe I wyl me bynde
My berd, my heare, yt hongeth lowe adoun
That neuer yet felte offensioun
Of rasour ne of shere, I wol the yeue
And bene thy true seruaunt whyle I lyue
Now lorde haue ruth vpon my sorowes sore
Yeue me the victory, I aske the nomore
¶The prayer stynte of Arcite the stronge
The rynges on the temple dore they ronge
And eke the dores clatren ful faste
Of whych Arcite somwhat him agast.
The fyres brennen vpon the auter bryght
That it gan al the temple lyght
A swete smel anone the grounde vp yase
And Arcite anone hys honde vp hase
And more ensence into the fyre he caste
wyth other rytes mo, and at the laste
The statue of Mars begā his hauberk ryng
And with that soūde he herde a murmuryng
Ful lowe and dym, that sayd thus: victory
For which he yaue to Mars honour & glory
And thus wyth ioye, and hope wel to fare
Arcite anone into hys ynne is fare
As fayne as foule is of the bryght sonne
And ryght anone such a stryfe is begonne
For thylke grauntynge, in the heuen aboue
Bytwyrt Venus, the goddes of loue
And Mars the sterne god armypotent
That Iupiter was busy it to stynte
Tyl that the pale Saturnus the colde
That knewe so many auentures olde
Founde in hys experience and arte
That he ful sone hath pleased euery parte
And soth is sayd, elde hath great auauntage
In elde is both wysedome and vsage
Men maye the olde out ren, but not out rede
Saturne anone, to styntē stryfe and drede
Al be it that it be agayne hys kynde
Page  ixOf al thys stryffe he can remedy fynde
My dere doughter Venus, {quod} Saturne
My course that hath so wyde for to turne
Hath more power then wote any man
Myn is the drenchynge in the see so wan
Myne is the prison in the derke cote
Myn is ye strāglyng & ye hāgyng by ye throte
The murmure, and the churles rebellyng
The groynyng, and the priuy enpoysonyng
I do vengeaūce and playne correction
whyle I dwell in the sygne of the lyon
Myne is the ruyne of the hye halles
The fallyng of the toures and of the walles
Vpon the mynor, or vpon the carpenters
I slewe Sampson shakyng the pyllers
And myne ben the maladyes colde
The derke treasons, and the castels olde
My lokynge is the father of pestilence
Nowe wepe nomore, I shal do my diligence
That Palamon, that is thyne owne knyght
Shal haue hys lady, as thou hym behyght
Thogh Mars shal helpe his kniʒt natheles
Betwixt you it mote somtyme be pees
Albe ye not of one complection
That causeth al daye such deuision
I am thyne ayle, redy at thy wyl
wepe nomore, I wol thy lust fulfyl
¶Now wol I styntē of these goddes aboue
Of Mars, and of Venus goddes of loue
And playnly I wol tellen you as I can
The great effecte, of whych that I began.
Great was ye feest in Athenes that day
And eke that lusty season in May
Made euery wyght to ben in such pleasaūce
That al that day iusten they and daunce
And spenten it in Venus hye seruyce
But bycause that they shulden aryse
Erly, for to se the great syght
Vnto her rest went they at nyght
And on the morowe when day gan sprynge
Of horse & harneys, noyse and claterynge
There was in the hostelryes al aboute
And to the palays rode there many a route
Of lordes, vpon stedes and palfreys
There mayst thou se deuysyng of harneys
So vncouth, so rych, & wrought so wele
Of goldsmethry, of braudry, and of stele
The sheldes bryght testers and trappers
Gold hewē helmes, hauberkes & cot armers
Lordes in paramentes, on her coursers
Knyghtes of retenue, and eke squyers
Naylynge the speares, and helmes bokeling
Gyggyng of sheldes with layners lacynge
There as nede is, they were nothynge ydel
The fominge stedes on the golden brydel
Gnawyng, and fast the armurers also
wyth fyle and hammer, rydyng to and fro
Yemen on fote, and comunes many one
wyth shorte staues, thycke as they may gone
Pypes, trompes, nakoners, and clarions
That in the batayle blowen blody sowns
The palays ful of people vp and doun
Here thre, there ten, holdynge her question
Deuinyng of these Theban knyghtes two
Some sayd thus, some sayd it shulde be so
Some helde wyth hym with ye blacke berde
Some wt the balled, some wt the thick herde
Some sayd he loked grym, and wold fyght
He hath a sparth of twenty poūde of weight
Thus was the hal ful of deuinynge
Longe after the sonne gan to sprynge
The great Theseus of hys slepe gan wake
wyth mynstralsye & noyse that they make
Helde yet the chambre of hys palays ryche
Tyl that the Theban knyghtes, both yliche
Honoured weren, and into the place yfette.
¶Duke Theseus is at the wyndowe sette
Arayed ryght as he were a god in trone
The people preased thyderwarde ful sone
Hym for to sene, and done hym hye reuerēce
And eke for to here hys hest and hys sentence
An heraude on a scaffolde made an oo
Tyl al the noyse of the people was ydo
And when he sawe the people of noyse styl
Thus shewed he the myghty dukes wyl.
¶The lorde hath of hys hye dyscrecion
Consydred, that it were dystruccion
To gentle bloode, to fyghten in thys gyse
Of mortal batayle, now in thys empryse
wherfore to shapen, that they shal not dye
He wol hys fyrst purpose modefye
No man therfore, vp payne of losse of lyfe
No maner shorte, polaxe, ne shorte knyfe
In to the lystes sende, or thytherbrynge
Ne short sword to stycke with point bytynge
No man ne drawe, ne beare it by hys syde
Ne no man shal to hys felow ryde
But one course, wyth a sharp groūden spere
Foyne yf hym lyst on fote, hym selfe to were
And he that is at myschefe, shalbe take
And not slayne, but brought to the stake
That shall bene ordeyned on eyther syde
But thyther he shal by force, and there abyde
And yf so fal, that the chieftayne be take
Page  [unnumbered]On eyther syde, or els sleene hys make
No lenger shal the turnament laste
God spede you, goeth and layeth on faste
with swordes & lōge mases fyghtē your fyl
Goth now your waye, this is the lordes wyl
¶The voyce of the people touched heuen
So loude cryed they wyth mery steuen
God saue suche a lorde, that is so good
He wylleth no destruction of blood.
Vp goeth the trompes and the melodye
And to the lystes, rydeth so the companye
By ordynaunce, throughout the cytie large
Hōged wyth cloth of golde, & not wyth sarge
Ful lyke o lorde thys noble duke gan ryde
These two Thebans on euery syde
And after rode the quene and Emelye
And after that an other companye
Of one and other, after her degre
And thus they passen throughout the cytie
And to the lystes comen they be by tyme
It nas not of the daye yet fully pryme
when set was Theseus full ryche and hye
Ipolita the quene, and Emelye
And other ladyes in degrees aboute
Vnto the seates preaseth al the route
And westward, thrugh ye yates vnder marte
Arcite and eke an hundred of hys parte
wyth baner reed, is entred ryght anon
And in the selue momet entred Palamon
Is, vnder Venus, estwarde in that place
wyth baner whyte, & hardy chere & face
And in al the worlde, to seken vp and doun
So euen wythout variacion
There nas such companyes twey
For there nas none so wyse that coude sey
That any had of other auauntage
Of worthynesse, ne of estate, ne age
So euen were they chose to gesse
And in to the renges fayre they hem dresse
when that her names red were euerychone
That in her nombre, gyle were there none
Tho were the gates shyt, & cryed was loude
Do now your deuer yonge knightes proude
¶The heraudes left her prycking vp & doun
Now ryngen trompes loude and clarioun
There is nomore to saye, este and weste
In goth the sharpe speres sadly in the arrest
In goth the sharpe spurres into the syde
There se men who can iust, & who can ryde
There shyueren shaftes, vpon sheldes thycke
He feleth through the herte spoune the pryck
Vp springeth ye spers, twenty fote on hyght
Out goth the swordes, as the syluer bryght
The helmes they to heawe, and to shrede
Out burst ye blood, wyth sterne stremes rede
wyth myghty maces, the bones they to breke
He through ye thyckest of ye thrōge gan threke
Ther stomblen stedes strōge, & down gon al
He rolled vnder the foote as dothe a bal
He foyneth on hys fete wyth a tronchoun
And he hurleth wyth hys horse adoun
He through the body is hurte, and syth ytake
Maugre hys heed, & brought vnto the stake
As forward was, ryght there he must abyde
An other is ladde on that other syde
And somtyme doth hem Theseus to reste
Hem to refeshe, and drynke yf hem leste
Full ofte a day haue these Thebans two
Togyther met, and done eche other wo
Vnhorsed hath eche other of hem twey
Ther was no tygre, in the vale of Galaphey
when her whelpe is stole, when it is lyte
So cruel on the hunte, as is Arcite
For ielous herte, vpon thys Palamon
Ne in Belmary, there is no fel lyon
That hunted is, or for hys honger woode
Ne of hys prey, desyreth so the bloode
As Palamon to slee hys foe Arcite
The ielouse strokes on her helmes byte
Out renneth ye bloode on both her sydes rede
Somtyme an ende there is of euery dede
For er the Sunne vnto the rest wente
The stronge kynge Emetrius gon hente
Thys Palamon, as he fought wt this Arcite
And made hys sworde depe in hys flesh byte
And by force of twenty is he take
Vn yolden, and drawen to the stake
And in the rescous of thys Palamon
The stronge kynge Lygurge is borne adoun
And kynge Emetrius, for al hys strength
Is borne out of hys sadle a swordes length
So hurte hym Palamon or he were take
But al for nought, he was brought to ye stake
Hys hardy herte myght hym helpe naught
He must abyde, when that he was caught
By force, and eke by composycion
Who soroweth now but woful Palamon
That more no more gon agayne to fyght
¶And when that Theseus had sene ye syght
He cryed hoe: no more, for it is don
Ne none shal lenger to hys felowe gon
I wol be true iuge, and not partye
Arcite of Thebes shal haue Emelye
That by hys fortune hath her fayre ywonne
Page  xAnon there is a noyse of people bygonne
For ioye of thys, so loude and hye withall
It semed that the lystes shulde fall
What can nowe fayre Venus done aboue?
What sayth she now? what doth ye quene of loue
But wepeth so, for wātyng of her wil
Tyl that her teares on the lystes fyll
She sayd: I am a shamed doutles
Saturne sayd: doughter holde thy pees
Mars hath al his wil his kniʒt hath his bone
And by myn heed, thou shalt be eased sone
¶The trompes with the loude mynstralcye
The heraudes, that so loude yel and crye
Ben in her wele, for loue of dan Arcyte
But harkeneth me, & stynteth noyse a lyte
whyche a myracle there byfell anon
The fyers Arcyte had hys helme of ydon
And on a courser, for to shewe hys face
He pricketh endlonge the large place
Lokyng vpwarde vpon Emelye
And she ayen hym caste a frendly eye
(For women, as to speke in comune
They folowen al the fauour of fortune)
And was all hys chere, as in hys herte
Out of the grounde a fyre infernal sterte
From Pluto sent, at the request of Saturne
For whiche his horse for feare gan to turne
And lepe a syde, and foundred as he lepe
And er that Arcyte may taken kepe
He pyght hym on the pomell of hys heed
That in the place he lay, as he were deed
Hys brest to brosten wyth his sadel bowe
As blacke he lay as any cole or crowe
So was the bloode yronne in his face
Anon he was brought out of the place
wyth herte sore, to Theseus paleys
Tho was he coruen out of hys harneys
And in a bedde ybrought ful fayre and blyue
For he was yet in memorye, and on lyue
And alway cryeng after Emelye.
¶Duke Theseus, with al hys companye
Is comen home to Athenes hys cyte
with al blysse and great solempnyte
Al be it that this auenture was fall
He wolde not discomforte hem all
Men sayd eke, that Arcyte shulde not dye
He shulde ben yhealed of hys maladye
And of an other thyng they were as fayne
That of hem al there was none slayne
Al were they sore hurte, and namely one
That wt aspere was thronled hys brest bone
Two other woundes, & two broken armes
Some had salues, and some had charmes
Fermaces of herbes and eke saue
They dronken▪ for they wold her lyeues haue
For whiche this noble duke, as he wel can
Comforteth and honoureth euery man
And made reuel al the longe nyght
Vnto the straunge lordes, as it was ryght
Ne there nas holde no discomfortyng
But as iustes or a tourneyng
For sothly there nas no discomfyture
For fallyng is holde but an auenture
Ne to be ladde by force vnto a stake
vnyolden and with twenty knyghtes take
One person a lone withouten any mo
And haryed forth by arme, foote, and too
And eke hys stede driuen forthe with staues
With footemen, bothe yemen and knaues
It was artted hym no vilanye
There may no man cleape it cowardye
For whiche anon, duke Theseus dyd crye
To stynten al rancour and enuye
They grete as wel of one syde as of other
And eyther syde ylyke, as others brother
And yaue hym ryghtes after her degre
And fully helde a feest dayes thre
And coueyed the Knyghtes worthyly
Out of hys towne, a dayes iourney largely
And home went euery man the ryght way
Ther was no more, but farwel & haue good day.
Of this batayle, I wol no more endyte
But speke of Palamon and Arcyte
Swelleth the brest of Arcyte, and the sore
Encreaseth at his herte more and more
The clotered bloode, for any leche crafte
Corrumped, and is in hys body lafte
That neyther veynbloode, ne ventousyng
Ne drynke of herbes, may be helpyng
By vertue expulsed, or anymall
For thylke vertue cleaped naturall
Ne may the venym voyde, ne expell
The pypes of hys longes began to swell
And euery lacerte, in hys brest adown
Is shent wyth venym and corruption
Hym gayneth neyther, for to get hys lyfe
Vomyte vpwarde, ne downwarde laxatyfe
All is to bruste thylke regyon
Nature hath no domynacyon
And certainly ther as nature wl nat wirche
Farwel phisyke, go beare the corse to chirche
Thys is al & some, that Arcyte muste dye
For whiche he sendeth after Emelye
Page  [unnumbered]And Palamon hys cosyn dere
Than sayd he thus, as ye shall after here.
¶Nought may my woful spyrit in my herte
Declare a poynte of al my sorowes smerte
To you my lady, that I loue moste
But I bequethe the seruyce of my goste
To you abouen any creature
Syn that my lyfe may no lenger dure
Alas the wo, alas my paynes stronge
That I for you haue suffred and so longe
Alas the dethe, alas myn Emely
Alas the partyng of our company
Alas myn hertes quene, alas my lyues wyfe
Myn hertes lady, ender of my lyfe
What is the worlde, what asken mē to haue
Nowe with his loue, now in his colde graue
Alone withouten any company
Farwel my swete foe, myn Emely
And softe take me in your armes twey
For the loue of god, herkeneth what I sey.
¶I haue here with my cosyn Palamon
Had stryfe and rancour, many a day agon
For loue of you, and for my ielousye
And Iupiter so wyssely my soule gye
To speken of a seruaunt properly
with cyrcumstaunces al trewly
That is to say, trouth, honour, & knyghthede
wysedom, humblesse, estate, and hye kynrede
Fredom, and all that longeth to that arte
So Iupiter haue of my soule parte
As in this worlde ryght now knowe I non
So worthy to be loued as Palamon
That serueth you, and woll don all hys lyfe
And yf that ye shall euer ben a wyfe
For yet not Palamon, the gentyll man
And with that worde his speche fayle begā
For from hys fete vnto hys brest was come
The colde of dethe, that had hym nome
And yet more ouer, for in hys armes two
The vytal strength is loste, and al ago
Saue onely the intellecte, without more
That dwelled in his herte sycke and sore
Gan faylen, whan the herte felte dethe
Dusked hys eyen two, and fayled brethe
But on hys lady, yet caste he hys eye
Hys laste worde was, mercy Emelye
Hys spyrit chaunged, and out went there
whytherwarde I can not tel, ne where
Therfore I stynte, I am no diuynystre
Of soules fynde I not in this regystre
Ne me lyst not thylke opinyon to tell
Of hem, though they writen wher they dwel
Arcyte is colde, that Mars hys soule gye
Nowe woll I speke forthe of Emelye.
¶Shright Emely, and howlen Palamon
And Theseus his suster vp toke anon
Swounyng, & bare her fro hys corse away
what helpeth it to tarry forthe the day
To tellen how she wept bothe euē & morowe
For in suche case women haue suche sorowe
whan that her husbandes ben fro hem go
That for the more parte they sorowen so
Or els fallen in suche maladye
That at the laste, certaynly they dye
Infinyte ben the sorowes and the teres
Of olde folke, and folke of tender yeres
In al the towne, for dethe of this Theban
For hym there wepeth bothe chylde and mā
So great wepyng was there not certayne
whan Hector was brought, al freshe islayn
To Troy alas, the pyte that was there
Cratchyng of chekes, rentyng eke of here
why woldest thou be deed, thus women crye
And haddest golde ynoughe, and Emelye?
No man myght glade Theseus
Sauyng hys olde father Egeus
That knewe thys worldes transmutacion
As he had sene it, bothe vp and doun
Ioye after wo, and wo after gladnesse
And shewed hym ensamples and lyknesse
Ryght as there dyed neuer man, {quod} he
That he ne lyued in erthe in some degre
Ryght so there lyued neuer man, he sayde
In al thys world, that somtyme he ne deyde
Thys world is but a thorowfare full of wo
And we ben pylgrymes, passyng to and fro
Deth is an ende of euery worldes sore.
And ouer al thys yet sayd he moch more
To thys effecte, ful wysely to exhorte
The people, that they shulde hem recomfort
Duke Theseus with al hys busy cure
Casteth nowe, where that the sepulture
Of good Arcyte, shall best ymaked be
And eke moste honorable of degre
And at the laste he toke conclusyon
That there as Arcyte and Palamon
Had for loue, the batayle hem bytwene
That in the same selue groue, swete & grene
There as he had his amerous desyres
Hys complaynte, & for loue hys hotte fyres
He wolde make a fyre, in whiche the offys
Funeral he myght hem al accomplys
He hath anon cōmaunded to hacke and hewe
The okes olde, and lay hem al on arewe
Page  xiIn culpons, wel arayed for to brenne
His offycers with swyfte foote they renne
And ryght anon at hys commaundement
And after Theseus hath ysente
After a beere, and it all ouer spradde
Wyth clothe of golde, the rychest that he had
And of the same sute he clothed Arcyte
Vpon hys handes hys gloues whyte
Eke on hys heed a crowne of laurer grene
And in his hande a sworde ful bright & kene
He loyde hym bare the visage on the bere
Therwith he wepte, that pyte was to here
And for the people shulde sene hym all
Whan it was day, he brought hym to ye hall
That roreth of the cry & of the sorowes soun
Tho gan this woful theban Palamon
with glytering berde, & ruddy shynyng heres
In clothes blacke, dropped al wyth teres
And passyng other of wepyng Emely
The rufullest of all the company.
And in as moche as the seruyce shulde be
The more noble, and ryche in hys degre
Duke Theseus let forthe the stedes bryng
That trapped were in stele all gleteryng
And couered with the armes of dan Arcyte
Vpon these stedes great and whyte
Ther saten folke, of which one bare his sheld
Another hys speare, in hys hande helde
The thyrde bare with him a bowe turkes
Of brent golde was the case & eke the harnes
And ryden forthe a pace with sory chere
Towarde the groue, as ye shal after here.
¶The noblest of the grekes, that there were
Vpon her shuldres caryed the bere
With slacke pace, and eyen reed and wete
Throughout the cyte, by the mayster strete
That sprad was al wt blak, & that wōder hye
Ryght of the same is the strete ywrye
Vpon the ryght hande wente Egeus
And on the other syde duke Theseus
With vessels in her hande, of golde full fyne
Al ful of hony, mylke, bloode, and wyne
Eke Palamon, with full great company
And after that, came wofull Emely
With fyre in hande, as was yt tyme the gyse
To don the offyce of funeral seruyse
Hye labour, and ful great apparaylyng
Was at seruyce, and at fyre makyng
That with his grene toppe the heuē raught
And twenty fadome of brede armes straught
This is to sayn, the bowes were so brode
Of strawe first ther was layde many a lode.
But how the fyre was maked vp on height
And eke the names, howe the trees heyght
As oke, firre, beche, aspe, elder, elme, popelere
Wyllo, holm, plane, boxe, chesteyn, laulere
Maple, thorne, beche, ewe, hasel, whipultre
How they were felde, shal nat be tolde for me
Ne howe the goddes ronne vp and doun
Disheryted of her abytacioun
In whiche they wonned in rest and pees
Nymphes, Fauny, and amadriades
Ne howe the beeste, ne the byrdes all
Fledden for feare, whan the trees fall
Ne how the grounde agast was of the lyght
That was nat wonte to se the sonne bryght
Ne how the fyre was couched first with stre
And than with drye styckes clouen a thre
And than with grene wodde, and spicery
And than with clothe of golde and perry
And garlondes hāgyng with many a floure
The myrre, the ensence, with swete odoure
Ne howe Arcyte lay amonge al this
Ne what rychesse aboute hys body is
Ne howe that Emely, as was the gyse
Put in the fyre of funeral seruyse
Ne how she swouned whā maked was ye fyre
Ne what she spake, ne what was her desyre
Ne what iewelles men in the fyre caste
Whan that the fyre was great & brent faste
Ne how some cast her sheld, & some her spere
And of her vestementes, whiche yt they were
And cuppes full of wyne, mylke, and bloode
In to the fyre, that brent as it were woode
Ne howe the grekes with a huge route
Thryse rydden all the fyre aboute
Vpō the lefte hande, with a loude showtyng
And thryse with her speares clateryng
And thryse howe the ladyes gan crye
Ne how that ladde was homwarde Emelye
Ne howe that Arcite is brent to asshen colde
Ne howe the lyche wake was holde
All that nyght, ne howe the grekes play
The wake playes, kepe I nat to say
Who wrestled best naked, wyth oyle anoynt
Ne who bare hym best in euery poynt
I woll not tellen howe they gone
whom to Athenes, whan the play is done
But shortly to the poynt than woll I wende
And make of my longe tale an ende.
By processe and by length of yeres
All stynten is the mornyng and the teres
Of grekes, by one generall assent
Page  [unnumbered]Than semed me there was a parlement
At Athenes, vpon a certayne poynt and caas
Amonge the whiche poyntes yspoken was
To haue with certayne countres alyaunce
And haue of Thebans fully obeysaunce
For whiche thys noble Theseus anon
Let sende after thys gentyl Palamon
Vnwyste of him what was ye cause & why:
But in his blacke clothes sorowfully
He came at hys commaundement on hye
Tho sent Theseus after Emelye.
Whan they were set, & hushte was yt place
And Theseus abydden hath a space
Or any worde came from his wyse brest
Hys eyen sette he there hym lest
And with suche a sadde vysage, he syked styll
And after that, right thus he sayd hys wyll.
¶The fyrst mouer of the cause aboue
Whan he first made the fayre chayne of loue
Great was theffecte, & hye was hys entente
Wel wyste he why, & what therof he mente
For with that fayre chayne of loue he bonde
The fyre, the eyre, the water, and the londe
In certayne bondes, that they may nat fle
That same prince and that mouer, {quod} he
Hath stablisshed ī this wretched world ados
Certen dayes and duracion
To al that are engendred in thys place
Ouer the whiche day they may not pace
Al mowe they yet the dayes abredge
There nedeth none auctorite to ledge
For it is proued by experyence
But that me lyst declaren my sentence
Than may men by thys ordre discerne
That thylke mouer stable is and eterne
wel may men knowe, but he be a fole
That euery party is deryued from hys hole
For nature hath not taken hys begynnyng
Of one parte or cantell of a thyng
But of a thyng that perfyte is and stable
Discendyng so, tyl it be corrumpable
And therfore of hys wyse purueyaunce
He hath so wel byset hys ordynaunce
That spaces of thynges and progressyons
Shullen endure by successyons
And not eterne, wythout any lye
Thus mayst thou vnderstande and se at eye.
Lo the oke, that hath so longe a norishyng
Fro the tyme that it beginneth first to spring
And hath so longe a lyfe, as ye may se
Yet at the last, wasted is the tre
Consydreth eke, howe that the harde stone
Vnder our fete, on whiche we reeade & gone
Yet wasteth it, as it lyeth in the wey
The brode ryuer somtyme wexeth drey
The great townes, se we waue and wende
Than ye se that al thys thyng hath ende
And man and waman se shal we also
That nedeth in one of the termes two
That is to sayne, in youthe orels in age
He mote be deed, a kyng as wel as a page
Some in his bedde, some in the depe see
Some in the large felde, as ye may se
It helpeth not, al gothe that ylke wey
Than may ye se that al thyng mote dey
what maketh this, but Iupiter the Kyng?
That is prince, and cause of al thyng
Conuertyng al to hys propre wyl
From whiche it is deryued sothe to tel
And here agayne, no creature on lyue
Of no degre, auayleth for to stryue
Than is it wysedome, as thynketh me
To make vertue of necessyte
And take it wel, that we may not eschewe
And namely that to vs al is dewe
And who so grutcheth aught, he dothe folye
And rebel is to hym that al may gye
And certaynly, a man hath moste honour
To dyen in hys excellence and flour
whan he is syker of hys good name
Thā hath he don his frendes ne him no sham
And gladder ought his frendes be of his deth
whan with honour y yolde is vp the breth
Than whan his name apalled is for age
For al foryeten is hys vassellage
Than is it best, as for a worthy same
To dyen, whan he is best of name
The contrarye of al thys is wylfulnesse
why grutchen we▪ why haue we heuynesse
That good Arcite, of cheualry the floure
Departed is, with dutye and with honoure
Out of this foule prison, of thys lyfe
why grutchen here his cosyn and hys wyfe
Of his welfare, that loueth hym so wele?
Can he hem thāke? nay god wot neuer a dele
That bothe his soule, and eke hem offende
And yet they mowe not her lustes amende?
¶what may conclude of thys longe story
But after sorowe, I rede vs be mery
And thanke Iupiter of al his grace
And er we departen from thys place
I rede we maken of sorowes two
One perfyte ioye, lastyng euer mo
And loke nowe where most sorowe is heryn
Page  xiiThere wol I fyrst amende and begyn.
Suster quod he, thys is my ful assent
Wyth al the people of my parlement
That gentle Palamon, your owne knyght
That serueth you with wyl, herte, & myght
And euer hath done, sythe ye fyrst hym knew
That ye shal of your grace vpon hym rewe
And take hym for husbonde and for lorde
Lene me your honde, for thys is our accorde.
Let se nowe of your womanly pyte
He is a kynges brother sonne parde
And though he were a poore bachelere
Syn he hath serued you so many a yere
And had for you so great aduersyte
It muste ben consydred, leueth me
For gentle mercy ought to passen ryght.
Than sayd he thus to Palamon ye Knight
I trowe chere nede lytel sarmonyng
To make you to assenten to thys thyng
Cometh nere, & taketh your lady by ye honde
Bytwyxt hem was maked anon the bonde
That hyght matrimony or maryage
By all the counsayle of the baronage
And thus with al blysse and melodye
Hath Palamon ywedded Emelye.
¶And god that al this world hath wrought
Sende him his loue, yt it hath so dere bought
For nowe is Palamon in al wele
Lyuyng in blysse, in richesse, and in hele
And Emelye hym loueth so tenderly
And he her serueth so gentelly
That neuer was ther no worde hē bytwene
Of ielousye, or of any other tene
Thus endeth Palamon and Emelye
And god saue al thys fayre companye.

¶Here endeth the Knyghtes tale, and here foloweth the Myl∣lers Prologue.

WHan that the knight had thus hys tale ytolde
In al the companye nas ther yong ne olde
That he ne sayd, it was a no∣ble story
And worthy to be drawen in memory
And namely the gentyls euerychone
Our hoste lough and sware, so mote I gone
This gothe a right, vnbokled is the male
Let se nowe who shal tel another tale
For truely, the game is wel begonne
Nowe telleth syr monke yf ye donne
Somwhat, to quyte with the knyghtes tale
¶The myller for dronken was al pale
So that vnnethes vpon hys horse he satte
Ne nolde auale neyther hoode ne hatte
Ne abyde no man for hys curtesye
But in Pylates voyce he began to crye
And swore by armes, bloode, and bones
I can a noble tale for the nones
with which I wol nowe quyte ye Knight his tale
¶Our hoste sawe that he was dronkē of ale
And sayd: abyde Robyn leue brother
Some better man shal tel vs fyrst an other
Abyde, and let vs wirche thriftely.
¶By goddes soule ({quod} he) that wol not I
For I wol speke, or els go my way
Our hoste answerde: tel on a dyuelway
Thou arte a foole, thy wytte is ouercome
Nowe herkeneth quod yu myller, al & some
But fyrst I make protestacion
That I am dronke, I knowe it by my soun
And therfore yf I mispeke or say
wyte it the ale of Sothwarke, I you pray
For I wol tel a legende and a lyfe
Bothe of a carpenter and hys wyfe
Howe that a clerke set a wrightes cappe.
¶The Reue answerde &, said, stynte thy clap
Let be thy lende dronken harlottry
It is a synne, and eke a great folye
To apayren any man, or hym defame
And eke to bryng wyues in suche blame
Thou mayst ynouge of other thynges sayn.
Thys dronkē myller spake ful sone agayn
And sayd: leue brother Oswolde
who hath no wyfe is no cokolde
But I say not therfore that thou arte one
There ben ful good wyues many one
why arte thou angry with my tale now
I haue a wyfe parde, as wel as thou
Yet nolde I for al the oxen in my plough
Take vpon me more than ynough
To demen of my selfe that I am one
I wol beleue that I am none.
An husbonde shulde not ben inquisytyse
Of goddes priuete, ne of hys wyfe
For so he fynde goddes foyson there
Of the remenaunt, nedeth nat to enquere.
what shulde I more say, but this Myllere
He nolde his wordes for no man forbere
But tolde his chorles tale in this manere
Page  [unnumbered]Me forthynketh I shal reherce it here
And therfore, euery gentle wight I pray
Demeth not for goddes loue, that I say
Of yuel entent, but that I mote reherce
Her tales al, ben they better or werse
Or els fa••en some of my matere
And therfore, who so lyst it not to here
Turne ouer the lefe, and chose another tale
For ye shal fynde ynowe great and smale
Of hystorial thyng, that toucheth gentilnesse
And eke moralite, and holynesse
Blame not me, yf that ye chose amys
The Myller is a chorle, ye knowe wel this
So was the Reue eke, and other mo
And harlotry they tolde eke bothe two
Auyse you, and put me out of blame
And eke men shuld not make ernest of game.

¶Here endeth the Myllers pro∣logue, and here after fo∣loweth hys tale.
[illustration]

WHylom ther was dwel∣lyng in Oxenforde
A ryche gnoffe, yt gestes helde to borde
And of his craft he was a carpenter
Wyth hym there was dwelling a poore sco∣ler
Had ylerned arte, but al his fantasye
Was turned to lerne Astrologye
And coude a certayne conclusyons
To demen by interogacions
If that men asked hym in certayne houres
whan yt men shulde haue drought or shoures
Or yf men asked hym what shulde befall
Of euery thyng, I may not reken al.
Thys clerke was cleped hende Nycholas
Of derne loue he coude and of solas
And therto he was slye and ryght priue
And ylyke to a mayden meke to se
A chambre had he in that hostelry
Alone, withouten any company
Ful fetously dight with herbes sote
And he hym selfe as swete as is the rote
Of lycores, or of any sytuwale
His almagiste, and bokes great and smale
His after lagour, longyng for hys arte
His augrym stones lyeng fayre a parte
On shelues couched at his beddes heed
Hys presse ycouered with a foldyng reed
And al aboue there lay a gay sautrye
On whiche he made on nyghtes melodye
So swetely, that al the chambre ronge
And Angelus ad virginem he songe
Page  xiiiAnd after that he songe the kynges note
Ful ofte blessed was hys mery throte
And thus the swete clerke hys tyme spente
After hys frendes fyndynge and hys rente.
¶Thys carpenter had wedded new a wyfe
whych that he loued more then hys lyfe
Of eyghtene yere she was of age
Ielous he was, and kepte her strayte in cage
For she was wyld, and yonge: & he was olde
And demed hym selfe to ben a cokewolde
He knewe not Cato: for hys wytte was rude
That bad men wedde her similitude
Men shulde wedde after her astate
For youth and elde is often at debate
But syth he was fallen in the snare
He must enduren, as other folke hys care
Fayre was this yōge wyfe, & therwithal
As any wysele her body gentle and smale
A seynte she weared, barred al wyth sylke
A barme clothe, as whyte as morowe mylke
Vpon her lendes, ful of many a gore
whyt was her smock, & embrouded al byfore
And eke behynde on her colere aboute
Of cole blacke sylke, within and eke without
The tapes of her whyte volypere
were of the same sute of her colere
Her fylet brode of sylke, and set ful hye
And sykerly, she had a lykerous eye
Ful smale ypulled were her browes two
And tho were bent, and black as any slo
She was moche more blysful for to se
Then is the newe Perienet tre
And softer then the wol is of a wether.
And by her gyrdel honge a purse of lether
Tassed wyth sylke, and perled wyth latoun
In al thys worlde, to seken vp and doun
There nys no man so wyse, yt couth thenche
So gay a popelote, or so gay a wenche
Ful bryghter was the shynyng of her hewe
Then in the towre the noble forged newe
But of her songe, it was so loude & erne
As any swalowe syttynge on a berne
Therto she couth skyppe, & make a game
As any kydde or calfe folowyng hys dame
Her mouth was swete, as braket or ye methe
Or horde of apples, lyeng in hey or hethe
wynsynge she was, as is a ioly colte
Longe as a maste, & vpryght as a bolte
A broche she bare on her lowe collere
As brode as the bosse of a bokelere
Her shoes were lased on her legges hye
She was a primrole, and a pyggeskye
For any lorde to lyggen in hys bedde
Or yet for any good yoman to wedde.
¶Nowe sir and efte sire, so byfel the caas
That on a day thys hende Nycholas
Fel with thys yonge wyfe to rage and pley
whyle that her husbonde was at Oseney
As clerkes ben ful sotel and queynte
And priuely he caught her by the queynte
And sayd: I wys but I haue my wyll
For derne loue of the lemman I spyll
And helde her faste by the haunche bones
And sayd: lemman loue me wel at ones
Or I wol dyen also god me saue
And she spronge as a colte in a traue
And with her heed she wrieth fast away
And sayd: I wol not kesse the by my say
why let be quod she, let be Nycholas
Or I wol crye out harrowe and alas
Do way your handes for your curtesye
Thys Nycholas gan mercy for to crye
And spake so fayre, & profered hym so faste
That she her loue graunted hym at laste
And swore her oth, by s. Thomas of Kent
That she wolde bene at hys cōmaundement
when that she may her leyser wel aspye
My husbonde is so ful of ielousye
That but ye wayte wel, and be priue
I wotte ryght wel I nam but deed, {quod} she
Ye mote ben ful derne as in thys caas.
Nay therof care ye not, quod Nycholas
A clerke had lytherly byset hys whyle
But yf he couth a carpenter begyle
And thus they were accorded, and ysworne
To awayten a tyme, as I haue sayd byforne
And whē Nicholas had don thus euery dele
And thacked her aboute the lendes wele
He kyssed her swete, then taketh hys sautry
And playeth faste, and maketh melody
Then fel it thus, that to ye parysh cherche
(Christes owne workes for to werche)
Thys good wyfe wente vpon an holydaye
Her forheed shone as bryght as any daye
So was it washe, when she let her werke
¶Now was ther of ye chirch a parysh clerke
The whych that was cleaped Absolon
Croulle was hys heare, & as golde it shon
And strouted as a fanne large and brode
Ful streyght & euen lay hys ioly shode
Hys rode was redde, hys eyen gray as goos
with Poules wyndowes coruē on his shoos
In hosen redde he wente fetously
Gyrde he was ful smale and properly
Page  [unnumbered]Al in a kyrtel of lyght waget
Ful fayre and thycke ben the poyntes set
And therupon he had a gay surplyse
As whyte as is the blosome on the ryse
A mery chylde he was, so god me saue
wel coude he let bloode, clyppe, and shaue
And make a chartre of lande, & a quytaunce
In twenty maner coude he tryp and daunce
After the skole of Oxenforde tho
And wyth hys legges casten to and fro
And play songes on a smale rybyble
Therto he songe somtyme a loude quinyble
And as wel couth he playe on a geterne
In al the towne nas brewhouse ne tauerne
That he ne vysyted wyth hys solas
There any gay tapstere was
But soth to say he was somwhat squaimous
Of fartynge, and of speche daungerous.
¶Thys Absolon, that was ioly and gaye
Goth wyth a censer on the sondaye
Cencyng the wyues of the paryshe faste
And many a louely loke on hem he caste
And namely on thys carpenters wyfe
To loke on her hym thought a mery lyfe
She was so propre, and swete as lycorous
I dare wel ayne yf she had ben a mous
And he a catte, he wold haue her hente anon
Thys paryshe clerke, thys ioly Absolon
Hath in hys herte such a loue longynge
That of no wyse toke he none offerynge
For curtesye he sayd he wolde none
The moone, whē it was night bryght shone
And Absolon hys geterne hath ytake
For paramours he thought for to wake
And forth he goeth, ielous and amerous
Tyl he came to the carpenters hous
A lytle after the cockes had ycrowe
And dressed hym by a shot wyndowe
That was vpon the carpenters wall
He syngeth in hys voyce gentle and small
Nowe dere lady, yf thy wyl be
I pray you that ye wol rewe on me
Ful wel accordyng to hys geternynge.
¶Thys carpenter awoke, & herde him synge
And spake vnto hys wyfe anon
what Alyson, heres thou not Absolon
That chaūteth thus vnder our boures wal?
And she aunswerd her husbande ther withal
Yes god wot, I here hym euery dele
This passeth forth, what wil ye bet thē wele
Fro day to day, thys ioly Absolon
So woeth her, that hym was wo bygon
He waketh al the nyght, and al the day
He kēbeth hys lockes brode, & made him gay
He woeth her by meanes and brocage
And swore, he wolde ben her owne page
He syngeth brokkyng as a nyghtyngale
He sent her pyment, meth, and spyced ale
And wafres pypynge hotte out of the glede
And for she was of toun, he profred her mede
For some folke wol be wonne for rychesse
And some for strokes, & some with gētlenesse
Somtyme to shew his lyghtnes & mastrye
He playeth Heraudes on a skaffolde hye
But what auayleth hym, as in thys caas?
So loueth she thys hende Nicholas
That Absolon may blowe the buckes horne
He ne had for hys laboure but askorne
And thus she maketh Absolon her ape
And al hys request turneth to a iape
Forsoth thys prouerbe it is no lye
Men say thus alway, the nye slye
Maketh the ferre loue to be loth
For though ye Absolon be woode or wroth
Bycause that he ferre was from her syght
Thus nye Nycholas stode in hys lyght
But now beare the well hende Nycholas
For Absolon may wayle & synge alas
And so byfel it on a saterbay
Thys carpenter was gone to Osnay
And hende Nicholas and Alyson
Accorded were to thys conclusion
That Nycholas shulde shapen hem a wyle
Thys sely ielous carpenter to begyle
And yf so be the game went aryght
She shulde slepe in hys armes al nyght
For thys was hys desyre, and hers also
And ryght anone, wythout wordes mo
Thys Nycholas no lenger wolde tarye
But doth ful softe vnto hys chambre carye
Both meate and drynke, for a day or twey
And to her husbande bade her for to sey
Yf that he asked after Nycholas
She shulde saye she nyst where he was
Of al that daye she sawe hym not with cyte
She trowed he was in some maladye
For no crye that her mayde coude cal
He nolde answere, for naught yt might befal
¶Thus passeth forth al the ylke saterday
That Nycholas styl in hys chambre lay
And ete, dranke, & slept, & dyd what him lyste
Tyl sonday, that the Sunne goeth to reste
¶Thys sely carpenter hath great maruayle
Of Nicolas, or what thinge might him eyle
Page  xiiiiAnd sayd: I am a drad by saynte Thomas
It stondeth not aryght with Nycholas
God shylde that he dyed sodaynly
This worlde is nowe ful tykel sekerly
I sawe to day a corse borne to cherche
That now on mōday last I saw him werche
Go vp (quod he vnto hys knaue) anone
Cleape at his dore, & knocke fast with a stone
Loke howe it is, and tel me boldely.
¶This knaue wente vp ful sturdely
And at the chambre dore, whyle that he stode
He cryed and knocked as he were woode
What howe? what do ye mayster Nicholay?
Howe may ye slepe al this longe day?
But al for naught, he herde not aworde.
An hole he founde ful lowe vpon a borde
There as the catte was wonte in to crepe
And at that hole he loked in ful depe
And at the laste he had of hym a syght
¶Thys Nicholas sate euer gapyng vpright
As he had keyked on the newe mone
A down he gothe, & tolde his mayster sone
In what aray he sawe thys ylke man
¶This carpenter to blyssen hym began
And sayd: nowe helpe vs seynt Frideswyde
A man wot lytel what shal hym betyde
This man is fallen, with hys Astronomye
In some woodnesse, or in some agonye
I thought aye wel howe it shulde be
Men shulden not knowe of goddes priuete
Ye blessed be alway the leude man
That naught but onely his byleue can.
Right so ferde another clerke wt astronomy
He walked in to the feldes for to pry
Vpon the sterres, to wete what shulde befal
Tyl he was in a marlpyt yfal
He sawe not that, yet by saynte Thomas
Me reweth sore on hende Nicholas
He shal be arated out of hys studyeng
If that I may, by Iesus heuen kyng.
Get me a staffe, that I may vnderspore
Whyle that thou Robyn heuest vp the dore
He shal out of hys studyeng, as I gesse
And to the chambre dore he gan hym dresse
Hys knaue was a stronge carle for the nones
And by the haspe bare vp the dore at ones
Into the store the dore fel anone.
¶This Nicholas sate as styl as any stone
And euer gaped vpwarde into the eyre.
This carpenter wende he were in dispeyre
And hente hym by the shulders myghtyly
And shoke hym harde, and cryed spytously
what Nicholas, what how loke adowne
Awake, and thynke on Christes passyon
I crouche yt from elues & frō wicked wightes
Therwith the nightspel he said anonrightes
On foure halues of the house aboute
And on the thresholde of the dore without
Iesu Chryst, and saynt Benedyght
Blysse this house from euery wycked wight
Fro the nyghtes mare the wyte Pater noster
where wonnest thou saynt Peters suster?
¶And at the laste thys hende Nicholas
Gan for to syke sore, and sayd alas
Shal al this worlde be loste estsones nowe?
This carpēter answerde: what sayst thou?
what thinke on god, as we do men yt swynke
This Nicholas answerde: fetch my drinke
And after wol I speke in priuete
Of certayne thynges, that toucheth the & me
I wol tellen it none other man certayne.
This carpēter goth down, & cometh agayn
And brought of myghty ale a large quarte
And whan that eche of hem had dronkē hys parte
This Nicholas, his dore faste shette
And downe the carpenter by hem sette
And sayd: Iohn hoste myne lefe and dere
Thou shalte vpon thy trouthe swere me here
That to no wight thou shalt my coūsel wrey
For it is Christes counsayle that I say
And yf thou tel it any man, thou arte forlore
For this vengeaūce thou shalte haue therfore
That yf thou wray me, thou shalt be woode.
¶Nay Christ it forbyd for hys holy bloode
Quod tho this sely man, I am no blabbe
Ne though I say it, I am not lefe to gabbe
Say what thou wolte, I shal it neuer tel
To childe ne wyfe, by him that harowed hel.
Nowe Iohn ({quod} Nicholas) I wol nat lye
I haue yfounden in myn astrologye
As I haue loked in the moone bright
That now on monday next, at quarter night
Shal fal a rayne, & that so wylde & woode
That halfe so great was neuer Noes floode
This world (he said) in lesse than in an houre
Shal al be dreynte, so hydous is the shoure
Thus shal mankynde drenche, & lese her lyfe.
This carpēter answerd & said: alas my wife
And shal she drenche? Alas myn Alyson
For sorowe of this he fel almoste adoun
And said: Is there no remedye in thys caas?
Yes yes ful good (quod hende Nicholas)
If thou wolt werche after lore and rede
Thou maist not werchē after thyn own hede
Page  [unnumbered]For thus sayeth Salomon, yt was ful trewe
worke al by coūsayle, & thou shalt not rewe
And yf thou wylt werken by good counsayle
I vndertake, wythout mast or sayle
Yet shal I saue her, and the and me
Hast thou not herde howe saued was Noe?
when yt our lorde had warned hym byforne
That al ye worlde with water shuld be lorne
Yes (quod the carpenter) ful yore ago
¶Hast thou not herde (quod Nicholas) also?
The sorowe of Noe wyth hys feloshyp
Or that he myght gete hys wyfe to shyppe
Hym had leuer, I dare wel vndertake
At thylke tyme, then al hys wethers blake
That she had a shyp herselfe alone
And therfor wost thou what is best to done?
Thys asketh haste, and of an hasty thynge
Men may not preche ne make taryenge
Anone go get vs fast into thys inne
A knedyng trowe or els a kemelyn
For eche of vs, but loke that they ben large
In which me mowe swymmē as in a barge
And haue therin vytayles sufficiante
But for a day, fye on the remenante
The water shal aslake and gon awaye
Aboute prime vpon the nexte daye
But Robyn may not wetē of thys thy knaue
Ne eke thy mayde Gylle, I may not saue
Aske not why; for though thou aske me
I wol not tel goddes priuete
Suffyseth the, but yf thy wyttes be madde
To haue as great a grace as Noe hadde
Thy wyfe shal I wel saue out of doute
Go nowe thy way, & spede the here aboute
But when thou hast for her, & the, and me
Ygetten vs these knedynge tubbes thre
Then shalt thou hange hem in ye rofe ful hye
That no man of our purueyaunce espye
And when yu hast done thus as I haue sayde
And hast our vytayle fayre in hem ylayde
And eke an axe to smyte the corde a two
when yt the water cometh, that we may go
And breake an hole on hye vpon the gable
Vnto the garden warde, ouer the stable
That we may frely passen forth our waye
when that the great shoure is gone awaye
Then shalt yu swym as mery I vndertake
As doth ye whyt ducke after her drake
Then wol I clepe, howe Alyson, how Iohn
Be mery: for the floode wol passe anon
And thou wolt sayn, hayle master Nicholay
Good morowe: for I se wel that it is day
And then we shul be lordes al our lyfe
Of al the worlde, as was Noe and his wyfe
But of one thynge I warne the ful ryght
Be wel auysed on that ylke nyght
That we be entred into the shyppes borde
That none of vs ne speake not a worde
Ne clepe ne crye, but ben in hys prayer
For it is goddes owne heste dere.
¶Thy wife & thou mot hāge farre a twinne
For that betwyxte you shalbe no synne
No more in lokynge then there shal in dede
Thys ordinaunce is sayd, go God the spede
To morowe at nyght, whē men be al aslepe
Into our knedynge tubbes wol we crepe
And sytten there, abydynge goddes grace
Go now thy waye, I haue no lenger space
To make of thys no lenger sermonyng
Men sayne thus: send ye wyse, & say nothyng
Thou art so wyse, it nedeth the not to teche
Go saue our lyues, and that I the beseche
¶Thys sely capenter goeth forth his waye
Ful ofte he sayd, alas and welawaye
And to hys wyfe he tolde hys priuete
And she was ware, & knewe it bet then he
what al thys queynt cast was for to sey
But natheles, she ferde as she wolde dry
And sayd: alas, go forth thy way anone
Helpe vs to skape, or we be deed echone
I am thy trewe very wedded wyfe
Go dere spouse, and helpe to saue our lyfe
Lo, whych a great thynge is affection
Men may dye of ymagynacion
So depe may impression be take.
Thys sely carpenter begynneth to quake
Hym thynketh verely that he may se
Noes stoode come waltrynge as the see
To drenchen Alyson, hys hony dere
He wepeth, waileth, and maketh sory cher
He syketh, wyth many a sory thought
He gothe, & getteth hym a knedyng trough
And after a tubbe, and a kemelyn
And priuely he sent hem to hys in
And hynge hem in the rofe ful priuely
Hys owne honde, he made hym ladders thre
To clymben by the ronges, & by the stalkes
Into the tubbes hongyng by the balkes
And hem vitayled, both trough and tubbe
wyth breed and chese, & good ale in a tubbe
Suffysyng ryght ynowe, as for a daye
But er that he had made al thys arraye
He sent hys knaue, and eke hys wenche also
Vpon hys nede to London for to go
Page  xvAnd on ye monday, when it drowe to nyght
He shette his dore, without candel lyght
And dressed al thyng, as it shulde be
And shortly clomben vp al thre
They sytten styl not fully a furlonge way
Now pater noster clum, sayd Nicolay
And clum {quod} Iohan, & cluom sayd Alison
Thys carpenter sayd hys deuocion
And styl he syt, and byddeth hys prayere
Awaytynge on the rayne, yf he it here.
¶The deed slepe, for wery besynesse
fel on thys carpenter, ryght as I gesse
Aboute curfewe tyme, or lytel more
For trauayle of hys gost he groneth sore
And efte he routeth, for hys heed myslay
And down of ye ladder thē stalketh Nicolay
And Alyson ful softe after she spedde
wythout wordes mo they went to bedde
There as the carpenter was woned to lye
There was the reuel, and the melodye
And thus lyeth Alyson and Nycholas
In busynesse of myrth and solas
Tyl that the bel of laudes gan to rynge
And freres in the chaunsel gon to synge.
¶Thys parysh clerke, thys amerous Absolō
That is for loue alway so wo bygon
Vpon the monday was at Osenay
wyth company, hym to dysporte and play
And asked vpon a case a cloysterere
Ful priuely, after Iohn the carpentere
And he drewe him a parte out of the chyrche
And said I not: I saw him not here wyrche
Syth saturday, I trowe that he be went
For tymbre, there our Abbot hath hym sent
For he is wont for tymbre for to go
And dwellen at the grange a day or two
Or els he is at hys house certayne
where that he be, I can not sothly sayne.
Thys Absolon, ful ioly was and lyght
And thouʒt, now is my time to walk alnight
For sekerly, I sawe hym not sterynge
About hys dore, syth day began to sprynge
So mote I thriue, I shal at cockes crowe
Ful priuely knocke at hys wyndowe
That stant ful lowe vpon hys boures wal
To Alyson wol I nowe tellen al
My loue longynge: for yet I shal not mysse
That at the leest way I shal her kysse
Some maner comforte shal I haue parfaye
My mouth hath ytched al thys longe daye
That is a sygne of kyssynge at the leest
Alnyght me mette eke, that I was at a feest
Therfore I wol go slepe an houre or twey
And al the nyght then wol I walke & pley.
¶When yt the fyrst cocke hath crowe anon
Vp ryst thys ioly louer Absolon
And hym arayeth gay, and in queynt deuyce
But fyrst he cheweth greyns and lycoryce
To smellen sote, or he had kempt hys here
Vnder hys tonge a trueloue he bere
For therby he wende to ben graciouse
He rometh to the carpenters house
And styll he stante vnder the shotwyndowe
Vnto hys brest it raught, it was so lowe
And softe he knocked, wyth a semely soun.
what do ye honycombe, swete Alysoun?
My fayre byrde, my swete synamome
Awaketh lemman myne, and speaketh to me
Ful lytel thynken ye vpon my wo
That for your loue I swelt there as I go
No wonder is though I swelte and swete
I morne as dothe the lambe after the tete
I wys lemman, I haue suche loue longyng
That lyke a turtle trewe is my mornyng
I may not eaten no more then may a mayde
Go fro the wyndowe Iacke foole, she sayde
As helpe me God and swete saynt Iame
I loue another, or els I were to blame
wel bet then the (by Iesu) Absolon
Go forth thy waye, or I wol caste a ston
And let me slepe, a twenty dyuelway
¶Alas quoth Absolon, and welaway
That trewe loue was euer so yuel bysette
Then kysse me, syn it may be no bette
For Iesus loue, and for the loue of me.
wylt yu then go thy waye therwith {quod} she?
¶Ye certes lemman, quoth thys Absolon
Then make the redy ({quod} she) I come anon
And vnto Nycholas she sayd styl
Nowe peace, and thou shalt laugh thy fyl
This Absolon down set him vpō his knees
And sayd: I am a lorde at al degrees
For after thys I hope there cometh more
Lemman thy grace, & swete byrde thy nore.
The wyndowe she vndoth, & that in haste
Haue do ({quod} she) and spede the faste
Let not our neyghbours the aspye.
This Absolō gan wype his mouth ful drye
Derke was the nyght, as pytche or cole
And at ye wyndow she put out her ers hole
And Absolon him felte neyther bet ne wers
But with his mouth he kyst her bare ers
Ful sauerly, or he were ware of thys.
A backe he sterte, & thought it was amys
Page  [unnumbered]For wel he wyste, a woman hath no berde
He felte a thyng al rowe, and longe herde
And sayd: fye, alas what haue I do?
¶Te he quod she, & clapte the wyndowe to
And Absolon gothe forthe a sory paas
A berde a berde, sayd hende Nycholas
By goddes corpus, this gothe fayre & wele.
This sely Absolon herde it euery dele
And on hys lyppe he gan for angre byte
And to him selue he sayd, I shal the quyte
who rubbeth now, who froteth now his lips
with dust, wt sonde, with strawe, with chyps
But Absolon? that saythe ful often alas
My soule betake I to Sathanas
But me were leuer thā al this town, quod he
Of this dispyte auenged for to be.
¶Alas (quod he) alas yt I ne had ybleynt
His hotte loue is colde, and al yqueynt
For fro the tyme that he had kyste her ers
Of paramours he set not a kers
For he was healed of hys maladye
Ful ofte paramoures he gan defye
And wepe as dothe a chylde that is ybete
A softe pace he wente ouer the strete
Vnto a smythe, men callen dan Gerueys
That in hys forge smyteth plowe harneys
He sharpeth shares, and culters besyly
This Absolon knocketh al easily
And said vndo Gerneys, and that anon
¶What who arte thou? It am I Absolon
What Absolon, what for Christes swete tre
Why ryse ye so ratheey benedicite
what eyleth you? some gay gyrle god it wote
Hath brought you thus on the berytote
By saynte note, ye wote wel what I mene
¶This Absolon ne raught not a bene
Of al his play no worde agayne he gasse
He hath more towe on hys distaffe
Than Geruays knewe, & sayd frende so dere
The hote cultre, in the chymeney here
As lene it me, I haue therwith to done
I wyl bryng it the agayne ful sone.
¶Gerueys answerde: certes were it golde
Or in a poke nobles al vntolde
Thou shuldest it haue, as I am trewe smyth
Eye cristes fote, what wol ye don therwith?
Therof (quod Absolon) be as be may
I shal wel tellen the by to morowe day
And caught the culter by the colde stele
Ful softe out at the dore gan he stele
And went vnto the carpenters wal
He coughed fyrst, & knocked ther withal
Vpon the wyndowe, right as he dyd ere.
¶This Alyson answerde: who is there
That knocketh so? I warāte he his a thefe.
Why nay ({quod} he) god wot my swete lefe
I am thyn Absolon, thyn owne derlyng
Of golde ({quod} he) I haue ye brought a ryng
My mother yaue it me, so god me saue
Ful fyne it is, and therto wel ygraue
This wol I yeue the, yf thou me kysse.
This Nycholas was ryssen for to pysse
And thought he wolde amenden all the iape
He shulde kysse his ers er that he skape
And vp the wyndowe dyd he hastely
And out his ers he put ful priuely
And ouer the buttockt, to the haunche boon
And therwith spake this clerke, this Absolon
Speke swete byrde, I not where thou arte.
¶This Nycholas anon let fleen a farte
As great as it had ben a thunder dent
That with the stroke he was welny yblent
And he was redy with hys yron hote
And Nycholas in the arse he smote.
Of gothe the skyn an hondbrede about
The hotte cultor brende so hys toute
And for the smerte he wende for to dye
As he were woode, he gan for to crye
Helpe, water, water, for goddes herte
This carpenter out of hys slomber sterte
And herde one crye water, as he were wood
And thought, alas now cometh Noes flood
And sette hym vp without wordes mo
And with an axe, he smote the corde a two
And downe gothe al, he foūde neyther to sel
Breed ne ale, but downe shortly he fel
Vpon the flore, and there a swowne he lay
¶Vp sterte than Alyson & hende Nycholay
And cryed out, and harrowe in the strete
The neyghbours, both smal and grete
In ronne, for to gauren on thys man
That a swoune lay, palyshe and wan
For with that fal brosten hath he his arme
But stonden he muste vnto hys owne harme
For whan he spake, he was yborne adoun
Wyth hende Nycholas, and Alysoun
They told euery man, that he was woode
He was agaste so of Noes floode
Throughe fantasye, that of hys vanyte
He hath getten hym knedyng tubbes thre
And hath hem honged in the rofe aboue
And that he prayed hem for goddes loue
To sytten in the roofe par companye
The folke gan laughen at his fantasye
Page  xviAnd in to the roofe they kyken and they gape
And turned al hys ernest in to a iape
For what so this carpenter answerde
It was for naught, no man his reason herde
With othes great, he was ysworne adowne
For eueryche clerke anon helde with other
They said ye mā was wood, my leue brother
And euery wyght gan laughen at this strife.
¶Thus swyued was the carpenters wyfe
For al hys kepyng, and hys ielousye
And Absolon hath kyst her neyther eye
And Nycholas is skalded in the toute
Thys tale is done, & God saue al the route.

¶Here endeth the Myllers tale, and here after foloweth the Reues Prologue.

WHan folke had laughed at thys nyce caas
Of Absolon & hende Nycolas
Dyuers folke dyuersly they sayde
But for the more parte they loughe & playde
Ne at thys tale I sawe no man hym greue
But it were onely Oswolde the reue
Bycause he was of carpenters crafte
A lytel yre in hys herte ylafte
He gan to grutchen and blamen it a lyte
Sothly quod he, ful wel couthe I ye quyte
Wyth bleryng of a proude myllers eye
If that me lyst to speke of rybaudrye
But eke I am olde, me lust not play for age
Grasse tyme is done, my fodder is forage
This whyte toppe writeth myne olde yeres
For sōtyme yolow was, now white bē myn heres
But yet I fare as doth an open ers
That ylke frute is euer lenger the wers
Tyl it be otten in molloke, or in stre
we olde men, I dreden so fare we
Tyl we be rotten can we not be rype
we hoppē alway, while the world wol pype
For in our wyl there styketh euer a nayle
To haue an hore heed and a grene tayle
As hath a leke, for though ourmight be gone
Our wyl desyreth folye euer in one
For whā we may not don, thā wol we spekē
Yet in our asshen olde, is fyre yreken.
¶Four gledes han we, whiche I shal deuyse
Auauntyng, lyeng, angre, and couetyse
These four sparkles longen on to elde
Our olde lymmes mowe wel ben vnwelde
But wyl ne shal not fayle, that is sothe
And yet haue I alway a coltes tothe
As many a yere as it is passed henne
Syn that my tappe of lyfe began to renne
For sikerly, whan I was borne anone
Dethe drowe the tappe of lyfe, & let it gone
And euer syns hath the tappe yronne
Tyl that almost al empty is the tonne
The streme of life now droppeth on ye chimb
The sely tonge may wel ringe and clymb
Of wretchednesse, that passed is ful yore
with olde folke saue dotage is no more
¶whan yt our host had herde this sermoning
He gan to speke as lordly as a kyng
And sayd: what amounteth al thys wytte?
what shal we speke al day of holy wrytte?
The dyuel made a Reue to preche
Or a souter a shypman, or a leche.
Say forthe thy tale, and tary nat the tyme
Lo Depforde, and it is halfe way pryme
Lo Grenewyche, that many a shrewe is in
It were tyme thy tale for to begyn
¶Nowe sirs quod this Oswolde the Reue
I pray you al, that ye not you greue
That I answere, and somdele set hys house
For leful it is with force, force of shoufe
This dronken myller hath ytolde vs here
Howe that begyled was a carpentere
Parauenture in skorne, for I am one
And by your leaue, I shal hym quyte anone
Ryght in his churles termes wol I speke
I pray to God hys necke mote breke
He can wel in myne eye sene a stalke
But in his owne he can not sene a balke
¶Here endeth the Reues Prologue.
Page  [unnumbered]

[illustration]
¶Here begynneth the Reues tale.

AT Trompynton, not far fro Cambridge
Ther gothe a broke, and ouer that a bridge
Vpon the whyche broke ther stant a mell
And this is very sothe, as I you tel
A myller was there dwellyng many a day
As any pecocke he was proude and gay
Pypen he couthe, and fysshen, & nettes bete
And turne cuppes, & wel wrastle and shere
Aye by hys belte he bare a longe pauade
And of a sworde ful trenchaunt was ye blade
A ioly popere bare he in hys pouche
Ther was no mā for peryl durst hym touche
A Shefelde thwytel bare he in hys hose
Roūde was his face, & camysed was his nose
As pylled as an ape was hys skull
He was a market beater at the full
There durst no wyght honde on him ledge
But he ne swore he shulde abedge
A these he was for sothe, of corne and mele
And that a slye, and vsaunt for to stele
His name was hoten deynous Symkyn
A wyfe he had, comen of noble kyn
The parson of the towne her father was
with her he yafe ful many a panne of bras
For that Symkym shulde in his bloode alye
She was yfostred in a nonnerye
For Symken wolde no wyfe, as he sayde
But she were wel ynourisshed, and a mayde
To sauen hys astate of yomanrye
And she was proude, and perte as a pye
A ful fayre syght was it vpon hem two
On holy dayes byforne her wolde he go
with hys typet wounden aboute his heed
And she came after in a gyte of reed
And Symken had hosen of the same
There durst no wyght clepen her but dame
was none so hardy, that wente by the way
That with her ones durst rage or play
But yf he wolde be slayne of Symkyn
with pauade, or with knyfe, or bodkyn
For ielous folkes ben perillous euermo
Algates they wolde her wyues wende so
And eke for she was somdele smoterlyche
She was as dygne as water in a dyche
And as ful of hoker, and of besmare
As thoughe that a lady shulde her spare
what for her kyndred, and her nortelrye
That she had lerned in the nonnerye.
¶A doughter had they bytwyxt hem two
Of twenty yere, withouten any mo
Sauyng a chylde yt was of halfe yere of age
In cradell it lay, and was a propre page
This wenche thicke and wel ygrowen was
wyth camysed nose, and eyen gray as glas
Page  xviiwith buttockes brode, & brestes rounde & hye
But right fayre was her heare, I wol not lie
The parson of ye town, for she was so fayre
In purpose was to maken her hys heyre
Bothe of hys catell, and hys mesuage
And straunge he made it of her maryage
Hys purpose was to be stowen her hye
Into some worthy blode of auncetry
For holy churches good mote ben dispended
Oh holy churches blode that is discended
Therfore he wolde, hys holy blode honour
Though that he holy churche shulde deuour
¶Great soken hath this Myller out of dout
with whete and malte, of all the londe about
And namely ther was a great college
Men clepen it the Solere hall of Cambrege
Ther was her whete, & eke her malt igroūde
And on a day it happed in a stounde
Sicke lay the Manciple, on a malady
Men wenden wisely that he shulde dye
For which this myller stale both whete and corn
An hundred tyme more than besorn
For there before, he stale but curteysly
But nowe he was a thefe outrageously
For wiche the warden chydde and made fare
But therof sette the Myller nat a tare
He craked, bosted, and swore it nas nat so
Thā were there yonge poore scholers two
That dwelten in the hall, of whiche I say
Testife they were, and lusty for to play
And onely for her myrthe, and her reuelrye
Vpon the warden bestly they crye
To yeue hem leaue, but a lytel stounde
To gon to my, to sene her corne ygrounde
And hardely they durst lay her necke
The myller shuld not steale hem half a pecke
Of corne by sleyght, ne by force hem reue.
And at the last the warden yaue hem leue
Iohan hight that one, & Aleyn hight ye other
Of o town they were both, yt hight Strother
Farre in the northe, can I not tel where.
This Aleyn maketh al redy his gere
And on a horse, the sacke he caste anon
Forthe goth Aleyn the clerke, and also Iohn
With good sworde and bockeler by her syde
Iohn knewe the way, hym nedeth no gyde
And at the myl dore the sacke down he layth
¶Aleyn spake first: al hayle Symkē in fayth
Howe fares thy fayre doughter, & thy wyfe?
Aleyn welcom (quod Symken) by my lyfe
And Iohn also: how now? what do ye here?
By god Simōd ({quod} Iohn) nede has no pere
Him behoueth serue him selfe yt has no swain
Or els he is a fole, as clerkes sayne
Our Manciple I hope he wyl be deed
Swa werkes aye the wanges in his heed
And therfore is I come, and eke Alayne
To grynde our corne & cary it home agayne
We pray you spede vs heme in that ye may
It shalbe don, quod Symkyn, be my fay
what wol ye don, while it is in hande
By god, ryght by the hopper wol I stande
Quoth Iohn: & sen how gates ye corne goth in
Yet sawe I neuer by my father kyn
Howe that the hopper wagges to and fra
Alayne answerd: Iohan wylte thou sa
Than wol I be byneth by my crowne
And se howe the mele falles adowne
Into the troughe, that shalbe my disporte
Quoth Iohan, in fay I may ben one of your sorte
I is as ill a myllere as is ye.
This Myller smyleth at her nycite
And thought al nys done but for a wyle
They wne that no man may hem begyle
But by my thryfte, yet shal I blere her eye
For al the sleyght in her philosofye
The more queynte clerkes that they make
The more wol I steale whan I take
In stede of floure yet wol I gyue hem brēne
The greatest clerkes ben not the wysest men
As whilom to the wolfe spake the Mare
Of al her arte counte I not a tare.
¶Out at the dore he gothe ful priuely
Whan that he sawe his tyme, subtelly
He loked vp & downe, tyl he had yfounde
The clerkes horse, there as he stode ybounde
Behynde the Mylle, vnder a lessel
And to the horse he gothe him fayre and wel
He strypeth of the bridel ryght anon.
And whā ye horse was loce, he gan to gon
Towarde the fen, there wylde mares rynne
And forth wt wehe, through thicke & thynne
The myller gothe agayne, no worde he saide
But doth his note, & wt these clerkes playde
Tyl yt her corne was fayre & wel ygrounde
And whan the meale was sacked & ybounde
This Iohn goth out, & fonde her hors away
And gan to crye, harowe and welaway
Our horse is loste Aleyne for goddes banes
Steppe on thy fete mā, come forth al atanes
Alas our wardeyn has hys palfray lorne.
¶This Aleyn al forgate bothe mele & corne
Al was out of mynde hys husbondrye
what, whylke way is he gon? he gan to crye.
Page  [unnumbered]The wyfe came leapyng inwarde at a rene
She sayd alas, he gothe to the fenne
with wylde mares, as faste as he may go
Vnthāke come on hys honde, yt bonde him so
And he yt better shulde haue knyt the reyne.
Alas {quod} Iohn, Aleyn for Christes peyne
Lay downe thy swerde, & I shal myn alswa
I is ful swyfte God wafe as is a raa
By goddes sale he shal not skape vs bathe?
why ne haddest thou put the capel in ye lathe?
Il heyle Aleyn by god thou is a fonne.
¶These sely clerkes han ful faste yronne
Towarde the fenne, Aleyn and eke Iohn
And whan the myller sawe yt they were agō
He halfe a busshel of her floure hath take
And bade hys wyfe knede it in a kake
He sayd, I trowe the clerkes were a ferde
Yet can a myller make a clerkes berde
For al her arte, yet let hem gon her way
Lo where they gon, let the chyldren play
They get him not so lightly by my crowne
These sely clerkes rennen vp and downe
With kepe kepe, iossa wartherere
Ga whystle thou, and I sal kepe hym here
But shortly, tyl it was very nyght
They couth not though they did al her might
Her caple catche, he ran away so faste
Tyl in a dyche they caught hym at the laste
ery and wete, as beestes in the rayne
Cometh sely Iohn, & wt hym cometh Alayn
Alas (quod Iohn) the day that I was borne
Nowe are we dryuen to hethē and to skorne
Our corne is stole, men wol vs fooles cal
Bothe the warden, and our felowes al
And namely the myller, waylaway
Thus playneth Iohn, as he gothe by yt way
Towarde the myll, & bayarde in his honde
The myller syttyng by the fyre he fonde
For it was night & ferther might they nought
But for the loue of god they hym besought
Of herbrough and ease, as for her peny
¶The myller said ayen, if there ben any
Suche as it is, yet shal ye haue your part
My house is strayte, but ye haue lerned art
Ye can by argument make a place
A myle brode, of twenty foote of space
Let se nowe yf thys place may suffyse
Or make it rōmer wt speche, as is your gyse
Now Symōd (said Iohn) by saint Cutberde
Aye is thou mery, & that is fayre answerde
I haue herd sai, mē shuld takē of twa thīges
Swylk as he fyndes or swilke as he bringes
But specially I pray the hoste dere
Get vs some meate & drinke, & make vs chere
And we wyl pay trewly at the ful
With empty honde, men may no haukes tul
Lo here our syluer redy for to spende.
The myller to ye towne his doughter sende
For ale and breed, and rosted hem a goos
& bounde her hors he shulde no more go loos
And in his own chambre he made a bedde
With shetes & with chalons fayre yspredde
Not from his owne bedde, ten fote or twelue
Hys doughter had a bedde al by her selue
Right in the same chambre, by and by
It myght be no bette, and the cause why.
Ther was no rowmer herbrowe in yt place
They soupen, & they speken of myrth & solace
And dronken euer stronge ale at beste
Aboute mydnight went they to reste.
¶Wel hath this myller vernyshed his heed
Ful pale he was for dronken, & nothyng reed
He galpeth, and he speketh through his nose
As he were in the quacke, or in the pose
To bedde he gothe, and with him his wyfe
As any Iay was she lyght and iolyfe
So was her ioly whystel wel ywette
The cradell at the beddes fete was sette
To rocken, and to yeue the chylde to souke
And whan yt dronken was al in the crouke
To bedde went the daughter ryght anon
To bedde gothe Aleyn and eke Iohn
There nas no more, hem neded no dwale
This myller hath so wisely bybbed ale
That as an horse he snorteth in hys slepe
Ne of hys tayle behynde he toke no kepe
His wyfe bare to hym a bordon wel strong
Men might hem here route a forlonge.
The wenche routeth eke par company.
¶Aleyn the clerke, that herde this melody
He poked on Iohn, & saide slepest thou?
Herdest thou euer swylke a sange er nowe
Lo Nuylke a couplyng is ytwyxt hem all
A wylde fyre on her bodyes fal,
Who herde euer swylke a ferly thyng?
Ye, they shal haue the floure of yuel endyng
Al this lange nyght tydes me no reste
But yet naforce, al shal be for the beste
For Iohan (sayd he) as euer mote I thriue,
If that I may, yon wenche wol I swyue
Some esement hath lawe shapen vs
For Iohn there is a lawe that saythe thus
That yf a man in one poynte ben a greued
That in an other he shal be releued
Page  xviiiOur corne is stolne, sothly it is no nay
And we haue had an yuel fyt to day
And syn I shal haue none amendement
Agayne my losse I wyl haue myn esement
By goddes sale, it shal none other be.
¶Thys Iohan answerde: Aleyn, auyse the
The myller is a peryllous man, he sayde
And yf that he out of his slepe abrayde
He myght don vs bathe a vilonye.
Aleyn answerd: I coūt him not worth a fly
And vp he ryste, and by the wenche he crept.
This wenche lay vpright, and faste slept
Tyl he so nye was, er she myght aspye
That it had ben to late for to crye
And shortly for to sayne, they were at on
Now play Aleyn, for I wol speke of Iohn.
This Iohn lay styl a forlonge way or two
And to hym selfe he maketh routh and wo
Alas ({quod} he) this is a wycked iape
Nowe may I say, I is but an ape
Yet hath my felowe somwhat for his harme
He hath the myllers doughter in hys arme
He auntreth hym, and hath hys nede yspedde
And I lye as a draffe sacke in my bedde
And whan this iape is tolde a nother dey
I shal be holde a daffe, or a cokeney
I wol aryse, and auntre me it by my fay
Vnhardy is vnsely, thus men say.
And vp he cose, and softely he wente
Vnto the cradel, and in his arme it hent
And bare it softely to his beddes fete
Sone after the wyfe her routyng lete
And gan awake, and went her out to pysse
And came agayn, & gan the cradell mysse
And groped here & there, but she foūde none
Alas ({quod} she) I had almoste mysgone
I had almost gone to the clerkes bedde
Eye benedycite, than had I foule yspedde
And forthe she gothe, tyl she the cradel fonde
She gropeth alway further with her honde
And founde ye bedde, & thought nat but good
Bycause that the cradel by it stode
And nyste where she was, for it was derke
But fayre & wel she crepte in by the clerke
And lyeth ful stil, & wold haue caught a slepe
within a while this Iohn the clerke vp lepe
And on this good wyfe he layde ful sore
So mery a fyt had she nought ful yore
And pricked harde & depe, as he were madde
This ioly lyfe haue these two clerkes ladde
Tyl that the thyrde cocke began to syng.
¶Aleyn waxe wery in the dawnyng
For he had swonken al the longe nyght
And sayd, farwel Malyn swete wyght
The day is comen, I may no lenger byde
But euermo, where so I go or ryde
I am thyn owne clerke, so haue I hele.
Nowe dere lemman ({quod} she) go, farwele
But or thou go, one thyng I wol the tell
Whā thou wendest homwarde by the Mell
Ryght at the entre of the dore behynde
Thou shalt a cake of halfe a busshel fynde
That was ymaked of thyn owne mele
Whiche that I helpe my syre to stele
And good lemman god the saue and kepe
And with yt worde she gan almoste to wepe.
¶Aleyn vprist, and thought er it dawe
He wolde go crepen in by his felawe
And founde the cradel with his honde anon
By god thought he, al wronge haue I gon
My heed is totty of my swynke to nyght
That maketh me that I go not aryght
I wot wel that by ye cradel I haue mysse go
Here lyeth the Myller and hys wyfe also
And forthe he gothe on twenty dyuel way
Vnto the bedde, there as the myller lay
He wende haue cropen by his felowe Iohn
And by the Myller he crepte in anon
And caught hym by the necke, & soft he spake
And sayd: Iohan, thou swynesheed awake
For Christes soule, and here a noble game
For by that lorde, that called is saynt Iame
As I haue thrise in this shorte nyght
Swyued the myllers doughter bolt vpright
whyles thou haste, as a cowarde ben agaste.
Ye false harlot (quod the myller) haste
A false traytour, false clerke (quod he)
Thou shalte be deed by goddes dignyte
who durste be so bolde to disparage
My doughter, that is come of suche lynage
And by the throte bolle he caught Alayn
And he him hent dispytously agayne
And on the nose he smote him with his fest
Downe ran the blode streme vpon his brest
And in the flore, wyth mouthe & nose ybroke
They walowen, as dothe pygges in a poke
And vp they gon, and downe ayen anone
Tyl that the myller spurnde on a stone
And downe he fyl backwarde vpon his wyfe
That wyste nothyng of this nyce stryfe
For she was fal a slepe a lytel wyght
with Iohn the clerke, yt waked had alnyght
And with the fal, out of her slepe she brayde
Helpe holy crosse of Bromholme she sayde
Page  [unnumbered]In manus tuas, lorde to the I cal
Awake Symonde, the fende is on me fal
My herte is broken, helpe I am but deed
There lieth one on my wombe & on my heed
Helpe Symkyn, for these false clerkes fyght
This iohn stert vp, as fast as euer he might
And graspeth by the walles to and fro
To fynde a staffe, and she stert vp also
And knewe the etres bet thā dyd this Iohn
And by the wal she founde a staffe anon
And sawe a lytel shemeryng of a light
For at an hole in shone the moone bright
And by that lyght she sawe hem bothe two
But sykerly she nyste who was who
But as she sey a whyte thyng in her eye
And whan she gan this whyte thyng aspye
She wende the clerke had weared a voluper
And wt the staffe she drowe alway ner & ner
And wende haue hyt this Aleyn at ful
And smote the myller on the pylled skul
That down he gothe, & cryed, harowe I dye
These clerkes bete hym wel, and let hym lye
And arayeth hem, and toke her horse anon
And eke her meale, and on her way they gon
And at the mylle dore they toke her cake
Of halfe a bushel floure, wel ybake.
Thus is the proude myller wel ybete
And hath ylost the gryndyng of the whete
And payde for the supper euery dele
Of Aleyn and of Iohan, that bete hym wele
Hys wyfe is swyued, and his doughter als
Lo suche it is a Myller to be fals
And therfore this prouerbe is ful sothe
Hym dare not wel wene that yuel dothe
A gylour shal hym selfe begyled be
And god that sytte hye in maieste
Saue al this company, great and smale
Thus haue I quyt the myller in his tale.

¶Here endeth the Reues tale, and here foloweth the Cokes prologue.

THe Coke of London, whyle that the Reue spake
For ioye hym thought he claude hym on the bake
A ha ({quod} he) for Christes passyon
This myller hath a sharpe conclusyon
Vpon his argument of herby gage
Wel sayd Salomon in hys langage
Ne bryng not euery man in to thyn hous
For herbrowyng by nyght is perelous
Wel ought a man auysed for to be
Whom that he brought in to hys pryuete
I pray to god so yeue me sorowe and care
If euer sythen I hyght Hodge of ware
Herde I myller bette ysette awerke
He had a iape of malyce in the derke.
But god forbyd that we stynten here
And therfore yf ye vouche safe to here
A tale of me, that am a poore man
I wol you tel as wel as I can
A lytel iape, that fel in our cyte
¶Our host sayd, syr a graunte it the
Nowe tel on Rodger, loke that it be good
For many a pasty haste thou letten blood
And many a Iacke of Douer hast thou solde
That hath be twyse hotte and twyse colde
Of many a pilgrym hast thou Christes curse
For of thy parsse yet fare they the worse
That they haue eaten wyth thy stobel goos
For in thy shoppe is manye a slye loos
Nowe tel on gentle Rogere by thy name
But yet I pray the be not wrothe for game
A man may say ful sothe in game and play.
¶Thou sayst ful sothe ({quod} Roger) by my say
But soth play, quade play, as ye sleming saith
And therfore Henry Baylly by thy fayth
Be thou not wrothe, or we departen here
Though that my tale ben of an hostelere
But nathelesse, I wol not tellen it yet
But er we parte, ywys thou shalte be quyt
And therwithal he lough and made chere
And sayd his tale, as ye shullen after here.

¶Here endeth the Cokes prologue, and here fo¦loweth hys tale. Page  xix
[illustration]

APrentise whilom dwelte in our cyte
And of the crafte of vitaylers was he
Galiard he was, as goldfynch in the shawe
Browne as a bery, a proper shorte felawe
with lockes blake, kempt ful fetously
Daunce he couthe ful wel and ioltly
He was called Perkyn Reuelour
He was as ful of loue and paramout
As is the hyue ful of hony swete
wel was the wenche wyth hym might mete
At euery bridal wolde he syng and hoppe
He loued bette the tauernes than the shoppe
For whan any ridyng was in chepe
Out of the shoppe thider wolde he lepe
Tyl that he had al the syght iseyn
And daunced wel, he wolde not come ageyn
And gather hym a meyny of hys sorte
To hop and syng, and make suche disporte
And there they setten steuyn for to mete
To playen at the dise in suche a strete
For in the cyte nas there no prentise
That fayrer couthe casten a payre of dise
Than Perken couthe, and therto he was fre
Of his dispence, in place of priuyte
That founde his maister wele in his chafare
For oftymes he founde his bore ful bare
For sikerly, a prentise reuelour
That haunteth dise, riotte, or paramour
His maister shal it in hys shoppe abye
Al haue he no parte of the mynstralcy
For thefte and riotte, they ben conuertible
Al can he play on gettron or on ribible
Reuel and trouthe, as in lowe degre
They ben ful wrothe al day, as men may se
This ioly prentise, with his mayster abode
Tyl he were nye out of his prentishode
Al were he snybbed bothe early and late
And somtyme ledde with reuel to Newgate
But at the last, his maister him be thought
Vpon a day, whan he hys paper sought
Of a prouerbe, that saith this same worde
welbette is rotten apple out of horde
Than that it rote al the remenaunt
So fareth it by a riottous seruaunt
It is moche lesse harme to let him passe
Than he shende al the seruaūtes in the place
Therfore his maister gaue hym a quitaunce
And badde him go, wt sorowe & myschaunce
And thus this ioly prentise had his leue
Nowe lette hym riot al the nyght or leue
And for there is no thefe without a louke
That helpeth hym to waste or to souke
Of that he bribe can, or borowe may
Anon he sent hys bedde and hys array
Vnto a compere of hys owne sorte
That loued dice, reuel, and disporte
And had a wyfe, that helde for countenaunce
A shoppe, and swyued for her sustenaunce.

¶Here endeth the Cokes tale, & here foloweth the man of lawes prologue.

Page  [unnumbered]OVr hoste saw wel, that the bright sonne
The arke of hys artifyciall daye hath ronne
The fourthe parte, & halfe an hour more
And though he were not depe expert in lore
He wyste it was the eyghtene day
Of Apryl, that is the messanger to May
And sawe wel, that the shadowe of euery tre
Was as in lengthe, the same quantyte
As was the body erecte, that caused it
And therfore by the shadowe he roke his wit
That Phebus, whiche yt shone clere & bright
Degrees was fourty clomben of hyght
And for that daye, as in latitude
It was ten of the clocke, he gan conclude
And sodaynly he plight hys horse aboute.
¶Lordynges ({quod} he) I warne you al ye route
The fourthe parte of thys day is gon
Now for the loue of God and of saynt Iohn
Leseth no tyme, as ferforth as ye may
Lordinges the tyme wasteth both night and day
And stealeth from vs, what priuely slepyng
And what through negligēce in our wakyng
As doth ye streme, that turneth neuer agayn
Discendynge fro the moūtayne in to ye playn
Wel can Seneke, and many a phylysofre
By waylen tyme, more than golde in cofre
For losse of catel may recouered be
But losse of tyme shendeth vs ({quod} he)
It wol not come ayen withouten drede
No more than wol Malkyns maydenhede
Whan she hath loste it in her wantonnesse
Let vs not mowlen thus in ydelnesse.
Syr man of lawe ({quod} he) so haue I blys
Tel vs a tale anon, as forwarde is
Ye ben submytted, through your fre assent
To stonden in this case at my iugement
Aquyteth you now of your beheste
Than haue ye done your deuer at the leste.
¶Hoste ({quod} he) de pardeuxied assent
To breke forwarde is not myn entent
Byheste is dette, and I wol holde fayne
Al my behest, I can no better sayne
For such law as a mā yeueth an other wight
He shulde hym selue vsen it by ryght
Thus wol our text: But natheles certayne
I can right now no thrifty tale sayne
That Chaucer (though he can but leudly
On metres and in rymyng craftely)
Hath sayd hem, in suche Englysshe as he can
Of olde tyme, as knoweth many a man
And yf he haue not sayd hem leue brother
In one boke, he hath sayd hem in another
For he hath tolde of louers vp and doun
Mo than Ouyde made of mencioun
In his Epystels, that ben ful olde
what shuld I tellē hem, sythen they ben tolde
In youthe he made of syxe al a lone
And sythen he hath spoken of euerychone
These noble wyues, and these louers eke
who so that wol hys large volume seke
Cleped the sayntes lyues of Cupyde
There may he se the large woundes wyde
Of Lucresse, and of Babylon Thisbe
The swerde of Dydo for the false Enee
The tre of Phillis for her Demophoon
The playnte of Deianire, and of Hermyon
Of Artadna, and of Hysiphilee
The baayne yle stondyng in the see
That dreynte Lyandre for his Hero
The teares of Heleyn, and eke the wo
Of Brisets, and of Laodomia
The crueltie of quene Media
The lytel chyldren hongyng by the hals
For the Iason, that was of loue so fals
Of Hypermistra, Penelope, and Alceste
Your wyfehode he cōmendeth with the beste
But certaynly no worde ne writeth he
Of thylke wycked ensample of Canace
That loued her owne brother synfully
Of suche cursed stories I say fy
Or els of Tyro Appolloneus
Howe that the cursed kyng Antyocus
Byrafte his doughter of her maydenhede
That is so horrible a tale for to rede
whan he her drewe vpon the pament
And therfore he of ful auisement
Nolde neuer write in uon of hys sermons
Of suche vnkynde abhominations
Ne I ne wol non reherce, yef that I may
But of my tale howe shal I don thys day
Me were lothe be lykened doutles
To Muses, that men clepeth Piryades
Methamorphoseos wotte what I mene
But natheles I reche not a bene
Though I come after hym with Haubake
I speke in prose, and let hym rymes make
And with that worde, he with a sobre chere
Began hys tale, as ye shullen after here.

¶Here endeth the man of lawes Prologue, and here fo¦loweth hys tale. Page  xx
[illustration]

O Hateful harme, condyciō of pouert.
With thurst, with colde, with hūgre so cōfoūded
To asken helpe, the sha∣meth in thyn hert
If thou non aske, wt nede thou art so wounded
that very nede vnwrapeth al thy woūdes hid
Maugry thyn heed, thou must for indygence
Or stele, or begge, or borowe thy dispence
Thou blamest Christ, and sayest ful bytterly
He misdeparteth rychesse temporall
Thy neyghbour thou wytest synfully
And sayest, tyou haste to lytel, & he hath all
Parfay, sayst thou, somtyme he reken shall
whan that his tayle shal brenne in glede
For he nought helpeth nedeful in her nede
Herken what is the sentence of the wyse
Better is to dyen, than to haue indygence
Thyne selfe neygbour wol the dispyse
If thou be poore, farwel thy reuerence
Yet of the wyse man take thys sentence
Al the dayes, poore men ben wycke
Beware therfore or thou come to the pricke
If thou be poore, thy brother hateth the
And al thy frendes fleeth fro the, alas
O ryche marchauntes ful of wele be ye
O noble prudent folke, as in this caas
Your bagges ben not fylde with ambes aas
But wt cyse synke, yt renneth for your chaūce
At Christenmasse, mery may ye daunce
Ye seken loude & see for your wynnynges
As wyse folke ye knowen al the state
Of reignes, ye ben fathers of tidynges
And tales, bothe of peace and debate
I was right nowe of tales desolate
Nere that a marchant, gone is many a yere
Me taught a tale, whiche ye shullen here.
IN Surrey whilō dwelte a company
Of chapmen rych, and therto sad and trewe
That wyde were senten her spicery
Clothes of golde, and satten ryche of hewe
Her chafare was so thryfty and so newe
That euery wight hath deyntie to chafare
Wyth hem, and eke to sellen hem her ware
Nowe fel it, that the maisters of that sorte
Han shapen hem, to Rome for to wende
Were it for chapmanhode, or for disporte
Nō other messangere wold the thyder sende
But comē hem selfe to Rome, thys is ye ende
And in suche place as thought hē auauntage
For her entent, they taken her herbygage
Page  [unnumbered]
Soiourned hā these marchaūtes in ye town
Certayne tyme, as fel to her pleasaunce
But so byfel, that the excellent renowne
Of the emperours doughter dame Custaūce
Reported was, with euery cyrcumstaunce
Vnto these surreyn marchaūtes, in such wise
Fro day to day, as I shal you deuyse
This was the comen voyce of euery man
Our emperour of Rome, god hym se
A doughter hath, yt sythen the worlde began
To rekē as wel her goodnesse as her beaute
Nas neuer suche a nother as is she
I pray to god in honour her sustene
And wolde she were of al Europe the quene
In her is hye beautie, without pride
Youthe, without grenhede or folye
To al her werkes vertu is her gyde
Humblesse hath slayne in her al tyrannye
She is a myrrour of al curtesye
Her herte is very chambre of holynesse
Her honde mynistre of fredom and almesse
And al this voyce was soth, as god is trew
But now to our purpose let vs turne agayn
These marchātes han dō fret her ships new
And whā they han this blisful mayden seyn
Home to Surrey ben they went ageyn
And done her nedes, as they han done yore
And lyuen in welth, I can say no more.
Now fel it, yt these marchātes stodē in grace
Of hym that was the Soudon of Surrye
For whā yt they came frō any straunge place
He wolde of hys benygne curtesye
Maken hem good chere, & besyly aspye
Tydynges of sondry realmes for to lere
The wonders that they might seen or here
Amonge other thynges specially
These marchantes haue hym tolde of dame Custaunce
So gret noblesse, in ernest ceryously
That this Soudō hath cauʒt so great plesāce
To han her fygure in hys remembraunce
And al his luste, and al hys besy cure
was for to loue her, whyle his lyfe may dure
Parauenture in that ylke large boke
Which that cleped is the heuē, twritten was
with sterres, whan that he his byrthe toke
That he for loue shulde han his dethe, alas
For in the sterres, clerer than is the glas
Is written god wot, who so coude it rede
The dethe of euery man withouten drede
In sterres many a wynter there byfore
was written the deth of Hector & of Achilles
Of Pompey and Iulius, or they were bore
The stryfe of Thebes, and of Hercules
Of Sampson, Turnus, and of Socrates
The dethe: but that mens wyttes ben so dull
That no wyght can wel rede it at the full
This Soudō for his priue counsayle sene
And shortly of thys mater for to pace
He hath to hem declared al hys entent
And said hē certain, but yf he might haue gra¦ce
To haue Custaūce, withyn a lytel space
He nas but deed, and charged hem to hye
To shapen for his lyfe some remedye.
Diuers men, diuersly they sayden
The argument they casten vp and doun
Many a subtell reason forthe they layden
They speken of Magike, and abusyoun
But finally, as in conclusyoun
They can not seen in that non auauntage
Ne in non other way, saue in maryage
Than sawe they therin suche difficulte
By way of reason, to speke al playne
Bycause that there was suche diuersyte
Bitwene her bothe lawes, that they sayne
They trow yt no christen prince wolde fayne
wedden hys chylde vnder our lawes swete
That vs was taught, by Mahounde our pro¦phete
And he answerde: rather than I lese
Custaunce, I wol be christen doutels
I mote ben hers, I may non other chese
I pray you holde your argumentes in pees
Saueth my lyfe, and be not recheles
To getten her, that hath my lyfe in cure
For in thys wo, I may not long endure
what nedeth greater delatatyon
I say, by treatie and ambassadrye
And by the popes meditation
And al the chirche, and al the cheualry
That in distruction of Maumetry
And in encrease of Christes lawe dere
They ben accorded, as ye shal here.
Page  xxi
Howe that the Soudon and his baronage
And al hys lieges, shulde ichristned be
And he shal han Custaunce in mariage
And certayne golde, I not what quantite
And her to fynde sufficient surete
The same accord was sworne on eyther syde
Now fayre Custaūce, almyghty god ye gyde
Nowe woldē som men waiten, as I gesse
That I shulde tellen al the purueyaunce
That the Emperour of hys noblesse
Hath shapen for hys daughter dame Custāce
Wel may men knowē, that so gret ordynāce
May no man tellen in a lytell clause
As was arayde for so hyghe a cause
Bishoppes ben shapē with her for to wēde
Lordes and ladies, and knightes of renown
And other folke ynowe, this is the ende
And notifyed is throughout the town
That euery wight, with great deuotioun
Shulde pray Chryst, that he this mariage
Receyue in gree, and spede this voyage
The day is come of her departyng
I say the woful day natural is come
That there may be no lengre tarieng
But forwarde they hem dresse al and some
Custaunce, that with sorowe is al ouercome
Ful pale arist, and dressheth her to wende
For wel she sey, there is non other ende
Alas, what wondre is it though she wept
That shal be sent to a straunge nation
Fro frendes, that so tenderly her kept
And to be bounden vnder subiectyon
Of one, she knoweth not his condityon
Husbondes ben al good and han ben yore
That knowen wyues, I dare say no more
Father (she said) thy wretched child custāce
Thy yonge daughter, fostred vp so softe
And ye my mother, my soueraigne pleasance
Ouer al thyng (out take Christ on lofte)
Custaunce your child her cōmaundeth ofte
Vnto your grace: for I shal to Surrye
Ne shal I neuer more se you with eye
Alas, vnto the Barbary nation
I must anon, sithen it is your wyl
But Christ that starfe for our redemption
So yeue me grace, his hestes to fulfyl
I wretched womā no force though I spyll
women are borne to thraldom and penaūce
And to ben vnder mannes gouernaunce
I trow at Troy, whā Thurus brake ye wal
Of Ilyon, ne whan brente was Thebes cite
Ne Rome for the harme of Hanybal
That Romayns hath inēqueshed tymes thre
Nas herde, suche tendre wepyng for pyte
As was in the chambre for her departyng
But forth she mote, wheder she wepe or syng
O fyrst mouyng cruel firmament
Wyth thy diurnal swegh, that croudest aye
And hurtleste al fro Eft to Occident
That naturally wolde holde another way
Thy croudyng set the heuen in suche array
At the begynnyng of this feirs voyage
That cruel Mars hath slayne this maryage
O infortunate assendent tortuous
Of whiche the lorde is helpelesse fal, alas
Out of hys angle, into his derkest house
O Mars, O occiser, as in thys caas
O feble Moue, vnhappy ben thy paas
Thou knittest yt there thou nart not receyued
Ther thou were wel, fro thēce art yu wayued
Imprudent emperour of Rome, alas
was there no philosofer in thy towne?
Is no tyme bette than other in suche cas?
Of voiage, is there none electiowne?
Namely to folke of hye conditioun
Nat whan a rote is of a byrthe iknowe
Alas we ben to leude, or to slowe
To ship is brought this woful faire mayd
Solempnely, with euery cyrcumstaunce
Nowe Iesu Christ be with you al (she sayd)
Ther nys no more, but fare wel fair Custāce
She payneth her to make good countenaūce
And forthe I let her sayle in this manere
And tourne I wol agayne to my matere.

¶Explicit prima pars: et sequitur pars secunda.

Page  [unnumbered]
THe mother of the Soudon, wel of vices
Aspyed hathe her sonnes playne entent
Howe he 〈◊〉 lete hys olde sa¦crifyces
And right anon, she for her counsayle sent
And they ben comen, to know what she ment
And whan assembled was thys folke in fere
She sette her down, & sayd, as ye shal here.
Lordes (quod she) ye knowen euerichone
Howe that my sonne is in poynt to lete
The holy lawes of our Alkaron
Yeuen by goddes messangere Machomete
But one auowe to grete God I hete
The lyfe shal rather out of my body stert
Or Machomettes lawe go out of my hert
What shulde vs tyden of thys newe lawe
But thraldome to our bodies and penaunce
And afterwarde in hel to ben drawe
For we reneyed Mahounde our creaunce?
But lordes, wol ye make assuraunce
As I shal say, assentyng to my lore
And I shal make vs safe for euermore
They sworen, and assenten euery man
To lyue with her and dye, and by her stonde
And eueriche in the best wise that he can
To strengthen her, shal his frendes fonde
And she hath this emprise take in honde
Whiche ye shal here, that I shal deuise
And to hem al she spake in thys wyse.
we shul vs fyrst fayne, christendom to take
Colde water shal not greue vs but a lyte
And I shal suche a reuel and a feest make
That as I trowe, I shal the Soudon quyte
For tho his wife be christened neuer so white
She shal haue nede to washe away the rede
Though she a fonte ful of water wt her lede
O Soudonnesse, rote of iniquite
Virago, thou Symyram the secounde
O serpent vnder femenynete
I lyke to the serpent depe in hell ybounde
O fayned woman, al that may counfounde
Vertu and innocence, throug thy malyce
Is bredde in the, a nest of euery vyce.
O Sathan enuyous, syn thylke day
That thou were chased from our herytage
wel knewest thou to women the olde way
Thou madest Eue to bryng vs in seruage
Thou wolte fordone this christen maryage
Thyne instrument, so welaway the whyle
Makest thou of womē, whā thou woltbegile
This Soudonesse, whō I blame & wery
Let priuely her counsayle gon her way
what shulde I in this tale lenger tarye?
She rydeth to the Soudon on a day
And sayd hym, that she wolde renye her lay
And christendom of prestes hondes fonge
Repentyng her, she hethen was so longe
Besechyng hym, to done her that honour
That she might haue ye Christē folke to feste
To plesen hem, I wol don my labour
The Soudō saythe, I wol don at your heste
And knelyng, thanketh her of that requeste
So glad he was, he nyst not what to say
She kist her sonne, & home she goth her way
Aryued ben these christen folke to londe
In Surre, with a great Solempne route
And hastely this Soudon sent his sonde
Fyrst to his mother, & al the reygne aboute
And sayd, hys wyfe was comen out of doute
And praydē hem for to ryden ayenst ye quene
The honoure of hys reygne for to sustene
Great was the prese, & ryche was the raye
Of Surreyens, and Romayns ymette yfere
The mother of the Soudon, ryche and gay
Receyueth her with al glad chere
As any mother myght her doughter dere
Vnto the next cyte there besyde
A softe paas solempnely they ryde
Nought trowe I, the triumphe of Iulyus
Of whiche that Lucan maketh suche a bost
was royaller, and more curious
Than was thassemblyng of this blisful host
But this Scorpyon, this wycked gost
The sodonnesse, for al her flatteryng
Cast vnder al thys, ful mortally to styng
The Soudon cometh himselfe sone after this
So ryally, that wonder is to tel
He welcometh her wyth moche ioye & blys
And thus in myrthe & ioye I let hem dwel
The fruyte of euery tale is for to tel
Page  xxiiWhen tyme come, mē thought it for the best
That reuel stynte, and men gone to rest
The tyme come, this olde Soudōnesse
Ordened hath ye ferst, of whych I tolde
And to the feest, christen folke hem dresse
In general, both yonge and olde
There may men feest and ryalte beholde
And deyntes mo then I can deuyse
But al to dere they boughten it or they ryse
O Soudon, wo yt euer thou art successour
To worldly blisse, springed with bytternesse
The ende of ioye, of our worldly laboure
wo occupyeth the ende of our gladnesse
Herken thys counsayle, for thy sekernesse
Vpon thy glad day haue thou in mynde
The vnware wo or harm, yt cometh behynde
For shortly for to tellen at a worde
The Soudon, and the christen euerychone
Ben al to hewe, and stycked at the borde
But it were onely dame Custaunce alone
Thys olde Soudonnesse, curled crone
Hath wyth her frēdes done thys cursed dede
For she her selfe wolde al the countre lede
Ne there was surreyn none yt was cōuerted
That of the coūsayle of the Soudon wot
That he nas al to heawe, er he asterted
And Custaūce han they taken anone fotehot
And in a shyppe al sternelesse (god wot)
They han her set, & bydden her lerne to sayle
Out of Surrey ayenwarde to Itayle
A certayne tresour, that she thyder ladde
And soth to sayne, vytayle great plente
They han her yeuen, & clothes eke she had
And sorth she sayled in the salte se
O my custaunce ful of benignite
O Emperours yonge doughter dere
He that is lorde of fortune, be thy stere
She blesseth her, and wt ful pytous voyce
Vnto the crosse of Christ, tho sayd she
O clere, o welful aulter, holy croice
Reed of the lambes blode, ful of pyte
That washe ye worlde fro ye olde iniquite
Me fro the fende, and fro hys clawe kepe
That daye that I shal drenchen in the depe.
Victorious tree, protection of trewe
That onely worthy were for to bere
The kynge of heuē, with hys woūdes newe
The whyte lambe, that hurt was wt a spere
Flemere of fendes, out of hym and here
On whych thy lymmes, faythfully extenden
Me kepe, & yeue me myght my lyfe to amēdē
Yeares and dayes fleteth thys creature
Thrughout ye see of Grece, vnto the strayte
Of Marocke, as it was her auenture
O, many a sory mele may she bayte
After her death ful ofte may she wayte
Or that the wylde waues wolde her dryue
Vnto the place there she shulde aryue.
Men mightē askē, why she was not slayne
Eke at the feest, who myght her body saue?
I answere to that demaunde agayne
who saued Daniel in that horrible caue?
Ther euery wyght, were he master er knaue
was wyth the lyon frette or he asterte
No wyght but god, that he bare in his herte
God lyst to shewe his wonderful myracle
In her, for she shuld sene his mighty werkes
Christ that is to euery harme tryacle
By certayne meanes often, as knowē clerkes
Doth thinge for certayne ende, yt ful derke is
To mans wytte, that for our ignoraunce
Ne can not knowe hys prudent purueyaūce
Now syth yt she was not at ye feest yslawe
who kepeth her fro the drenchyng in the see?
who kept Ionas in the fyshes mawe
Tyl he was spouted out at Neniue?
wel may mē knowe, it was no wight but he
That kept ye people Ebrake from drenchyng
wyth drye fete, through the see passyng
Who hath the foure spirites of ye tempeste
That power had, both to anoye lande & see
Both north and south, & also west and este
Anoyeth nether see, ne lande, ne tre
Sothly the cōmaunder therof was he
That fro ye tempest aye thys woman kepte
As wel when she woke as when she slepte
wher might this womā mete & drynke haue
Thre yere & more, how lasteth her vitayle
who fedde the Egipcyan Marye in the caue
Or in deserte (none but Christ sans fayle)
Fyue thousand folk it was as gret maruaile
Page  [unnumbered]With loues fyue and fysshes two to fede
God sent his toyson at her great nede.
She driueth forthe in to our Occian
Throughout the wylde see, tyl at the laste
Vnder an holde, that nempne I ne can
Fer in Northumberlōde, the waue her caste
And in the sande her shyppe stycked so faste
That thence nolde it not of al a tyde
The wyl of Christ was yt she shuld ther byde
The constable of the castel downe is fare
To seen this wrecke, & al the shyp he sought
And fonde this wery woman ful of care
He founde also the tresoure that she brought
In her langage, mercy she besought
The lyfe out of her body for to twyn
Her to delyuer of wo that she was in
A mauer latyn corrupte was her speche
But algates therby was she vnderstonde
The constable, whā hym lyst no lenger seche
Thys woful woman brought he to londe
She kneleth downe, & thāketh goddes sonde
But what she was, she wolde no man sey
For soule ne fayre, though she shulde dey
She sayd she was so mased in the see
That she foryate her mynde, by her trouthe
The constable of her hath so great pyte
And eke his wyfe, that they wepen for routh
She was so dyligent withouten slouthe
To serue and plese eueryche in that place
That al her louen, that loken in her face
The cōstable, & dame Hermegilde his wyfe
Were paynems, and that cōtre euery where
But Hermegylde loued her ryght as her lyfe
And Custaunce hath so long soiourned there
In orisons, with many a bytter tere
Tyl Iesu hath conuerted through his grace
Dame Hermegylde, cōstablesse of that place.
In al that londe durst no christen route
Al christen folke ben fledde from that coūtre
Through paynems, that conquered al about
The plages of the North, by londe and see
To wales fledde the christianyte
Of olde Bretons, dwellyng in that Ile
There was her refuge, for the meane whyle
But yet nas ther neuer christē bretō so exiled
That there nas some in her priuete
Honoured Christe, & heathen folke begyled
And nye the castel suche there dwellen thre
That one of hym was blynde, & might not se
But it were with thylke eyen of his mynde
with whiche men seen, after they ben blynde
Bright was the sonne, as in somers day
For whiche the constable, and his wyfe also
And Custaunce, han taken the ryght way
Towarde the see, a furlong waye or two
To playen, and to romen to and fro
And in her walke, thre blynde men they met
Croked and olde, with eyen faste yshette
In ye name of Christ, cryed this blind bretō
Dame hermegylde, yeue me syght agayne
This lady ware a frayde of the soun
Leste that her husbonde, shortly for to sayne
wold her for Iesus Christes lore haue slayne
Til Custāce made her bolde, & bad her werch
The wyl of Christ, as doughter of his cherch
The cōstable wore abashed of that syght
And sayd: what amounteth al thys fare?
Custance answerde: syr it is Christes might
That helpeth folke out of the fendes snare
And soferforth she gan our lawe declare
That she the constable, er that it was eue
Cōuerted hath, & on Christ made hym bileue
This cōstable was nothing lord of this place
Of which I speke, ther he Custaunce fonde
But kept it strongly, many a wynter space
Vnder Alla, kyng of Northumberlonde
That was ful wyse, & worthy of hys honde
Agayne the Scottes, as men may wel here
But tourne I wol agayne to my matere.
Sathan, that euer vs wayteth to begyle
Sawe of Custaunce al her perfectioun
And cast anon how he might quyte her wyle
And made a yong knight, yt dwelt in the toun
Loue her so hotte, of foule affectioun
That verily, hym thought yt he shulde spyll
But he of her ones might haue his wyll
He woeth her, but it aueyled nought
She wolde do no synne by no wey
And for dispyte, he compassed in his thought
To maken her on shamfull dethe to dey
He wayteth whan the constable is awey
Page  xxiiiAnd priuely on a nyght he crepte
In to Hermegildes chambre whyle she slept
Wery forwaked in her orisons
Slepeth Custaunce and Hermegylde also
This knight, through Sathans tēptacions
Al softely is to the bedde ygo
And cut the throte of Hermegylde a two
And layde ye blody knyfe by dame Custaūce
And went his waye, ther god yeue him mys∣chaunce.
Sone after cometh ye cōstable home agayne
And eke Alla, that kynge was of that lande
And sawe hys wyfe dyspytously yslayne
For whych he wepte and wronge his hande
And in the bedde the blody knyfe he fonde
By dame Custāce, alas what myght she say?
For very wo, her wytte was al away
To kynge Alla was tolde al this myschaūce
And eke the tyme, & where, & in what wyse
That in a shyppe was foūden this Custaūce
As here before ye han herde me deuyse
The kynges herte, for pyte gan aryse
when he sawe so benygne a creature
Fal in dysease and in mysaduenture
For as ye lābe towarde hys death is brought
So stante this innocent beforne the kyng
This fals knight, yt hath this tresō wrought
Bereth her on hād, yt she hath don this thing
But nathelesse there was great mornyng
Amonge the people, & sayd they can not gesse
That she had done so great a wyckednesse
For they han sene her euer so vertuouse
And louyng Hermegylde, right as her lyfe
Of this bare witnesse eueryche in that house
Saue he that Hermegyld slow wt hys knyfe
This gētle kyng hath caught a great motyfe
Of this wytnes, & thought he wold enquere
Deper in thys case, the trouth to lere
Alas Custaunce, thou hast no champion
Ne fyght canst thou not, so welaway
But he that starft for our redempcion
And bonde Sathan, & yet lyth there he laye
So be thy stronge champion thys daye
For but yf Christ on the myracle kyth
without gylt thou shalt be slayne aswyth
She set her doune on knees, & thus she sayde
Immortal god, that sauedest Susanne
Fro false blame, and thou mercyful mayde
Marye I meane, doughter to saynt Anne
Byforne whose chylde angels synge Osanne
Yf I be gyltlesse of thys felonye
My socoure be, or els shal I dye
Haue ye not sene somtyme a pale face
(Amonge a prees) of hym that hath ben lad
Toward his deth, wher as him get no grace
And such a colour in his face hath had
That mē might know his face yt was bystad
Amonges al the faces in that route
So standeth Custaunce, & loketh her aboute
O quenes, lyuynge in prosperite
Duchesses, and ye ladyes euerychone
Haue some routh on her aduersite
An emperours doughter stante alone
She hath no wiʒt, to whō to make hermone
O bloode royal, that stondeth in this drede
Farre ben thy frendes at thy great nede
Thys Alla kyng, hath such compassioun
As gentle herte is ful of pyte
That from hys eyen ran the water doun
Nowe hastely do fette a boke (quod he)
And yf thys knyght wol swere, how that she
Thys woman llowe, yet wol we vs auyse
whom that we wol shal ben our iustyse
A breton boke, wrytten wyth Euangeles
was fette, and theron he swore anone
She gylty was, and in the meane whyles
An hande hym smote on the necke bone
That downe he fyl atones, as a stone
And both hys eyen brast out of hys face
In syght of euery body in that place
A voyce was herde, in generall audience
That sayd: Thou hast dysclandred gyltles
The doughter of holy chyrch, in hye presence
Thus hast thou done, & yet I holde my pees
Of this maruayle, agast was al the prees
As dysmayde folke, they stoden euerychone
For drede of wreche, saue Custaunce alone
Great was ye drede, & eke the repentaūce
Of hem that hadden wrought suspection
Vpon thys sely innocent Custaunce
And for thys myracle, in conclusion
And by Custaunces mediation
Page  [unnumbered]The kynge, and many another in that place
Conuerted was, thanked by goddes grace
This false knight was slayn for his vntroth
By iudgement of Alla hastely
And yet Custaūce, had of his death gret roth
And after this, Iesus of hys mercy
Made Alla wedden ful solempnely
Thys holy mayde, that is so bryght & shene
And thus hath christ made Custaūce a quene
But who was woful, yf I shulde not lye
Of thys weddyng? but Donogelde & no mo
The kynges mother, full of tyranny
Her thought her cursed hert brast a two
She wolde not her sonne had do so
Her thought a despyte, that he shulde take
So straunge a creature vnto hys make
Me lyst not of the chaffe ne of the stree
Make so longe a tale, as of the corne
what shulde I tel of the royalte
Of ye mariage, or whych course goth besorne
who bloweth in a trompe or in an horne
The frute of euery tale is for to saye
They eaten and drynken, daunce and playe
They gon to bedde, as it was skyl & ryght
For though ye wyues ben ful holy thynges
They must take in pacience anyght
Such maner necessaries, as ben pleasynges
To folke that han wedded hem with rynges
And lay a lytel her holynesse asyde
As for the tyme, it may none other betyde
On her he gatte a man chylde anone
And to a byshoppe, and to hys constable eke
He toke hys wyfe to kepe, when he is gone
To Scotlandwarde, hys fo men for to seke
Now fayre Custāce, yt is so humble & meke
So longe is gone wyth chylde tyl that styl
She halte her chābre abyding Christes wyl
The tyme is come, a man chylde she bare
Mauricius at fontstone they hym calle
This constable doth forth come a messanger
And wrote to hys kynge, yt cleped was Alle
Howe that thys blysful tydynge is byfal
And other tydynges nedeful for to say
He taketh the letter, & forth he goth his way
Thys messanger to done hys anauntage
Vnto the kynges mother rydeth swythe
And salueth her ful fayre in hys langage
Madame (quod he) ye maye be glad & blythe
And thanketh god an hūdred thousand sythe
My lady quene hath chylde, wythoutē doute
To ioye and blysse of all thys reygne aboute
Lo here the letters sealed of thys thynge
That I mote beare, in al the hast I may
Yf ye wol ought vnto your sonne the kynge
I am your seruaunt both nyght and day
Donegylde answerde, as at thys tyme nay
But here I wol al nyght thou take thy reste
To morowe wol I say the what my leste
This messāger drōke sadly both ale & wyne
And stolen were hys letters priuely
Out of hys bore, whyle he slepte as a swyne
And counterfeted was ful subtelly
Another letter, wrought ful synfully
Vnto the kynge dyrecte of thys matere
Fro hys constable, as ye shal after here
The letter spke, the quene delyuered was
Of so horrible a fendlyche creature
That in the castel none so hardy was
That any whyle durst therin endure
The mother was an else by auenture
I come, by charmes or by sorcery
And euery wyght hateth her company
wo was this kyng, whē he yt letter had seyn
But to no wyght he tolde hys sorowes sore
But wyth hys owne honde he wrote ageyn
welcome the sonde of Christ for euermore
To me, that am newe lerned in hys lore
Lorde, welcome be thy lust & thy pleasaunce
My iust I put al in thyne ordynaunce
Kepeth this childe, al be it foule or fayre
And eke my wyfe, vnto myne home cōmyng
Christ when him lyst, may sende me an heyre
More agreable then thys, to my lykynge
Thys letter he sealeth priuely wepynge
whych to the messangere was taken sone
And forth he goth, ther nys no more to done
O messanger, fulfylled of dronkennesse
Strōge is thy breth, thy lymmes faltrē aye
And thou bewrayest al secretnesse
Thy mynde is lorne, thou ianglyst as a iaye
Thy face is turned in a newe araye
Page  xxiiiiThere dronkennesse reyneth in any route
There nys no coūsayle hyd wythoutē doute
O Donegild, I ne haue no englysh digne
Vnto thy malyce, and thy tyrannye
And therfore to the fende I the resygne
Let hym endyte of thy traytrye
Fye mannyshe fye: O nay by god I lye
Fye fendyshe spirit for I dare wel tel
Though thou here walke, thy spirit is in hel
This messāger cometh fro ye kynge agayne
And at the kynges mothers house he lyght
And she was of thys messanger ful fayne
And pleased hym in al that euer she myght
He dronke, and wel hys gyrdel vnder pyght
He slepeth, and he snorteth in hys gyse
Al nyght, tyl the sonne gan aryse
Efte were hys letters stolen euerychon
And counterfeted letters in thys wyse:
The kynge cōmaundeth hys constable anon
Vp payne of hongyng on an hye iewyse
That he ne shulde sustren in no wyse
Custaunce, wythin hys realme for to abyde
Thre dayes, and a quarter of a tyde
But in the same shyppe, as he her fonde
Her and her yonge sonne, and al her gere
He shulde croude, and put fro the londe
And charge her, that she neue eft come there
O Custaunce, wel may thy goste haue fere
And slepynge in thy dreame, ben in penaūce
when Donegylde, cast al thys ordynaunce
This messāger on ye morow when he woke
Vnto the castel halte the nexte way
And to the Constable he the letter toke
And when that he thys pytous letter sey
Ful ofte he sayd (alas) and welaway
Lord Christ ({quod} he) how may this world en∣dure
So ful of synne is many a creature
O myghty god, yf that it be thy wyl
Syn thou art ryghtful iuge, how may it be?
That thou wylt suffer innocence to spyl?
And wycked folke to raygne in prosperite
O, good custaunce (alas) so wo is me
That I mote be thy tourmētour, or els dey
On shames death, ther nys none other wey
Wepen both yonge & olde in that place
when that the kynge thys cursed letter sent
And Custaunce wyth a deadly pale face
The fourth day, towarde her shyp she went
But nathelesse, she taketh in good entent
The wyl of Christ, & knelyng in the stronde
She sayd Lorde, aye welcome be thy sonde
He that me kepte fro that false blame
whyles I was on the lande amonge you
He can me kepe fro harme, & eke fro shame
In the salte see, al though I se not howe
As stronge as euer he was, he is nowe
In hym truste I, and in hys mother dere
That is to me, my sayle and eke my stere
Her lytel chylde lay wepynge in her arme
And knelynge pytously, to hym she sayde
Peace lytel sonne, I wol do the none harme
wyth that her kercher of her heed she brayde
And ouer hys lytel eyen she it layde
And in her arme, she lulleth it ful faste
And into heuen her eyen vp she caste
Mother (quod she) & mayde bright Mary
Soth is, that through womans eggement
Mankinde was lorne, & dampned aye to dye
For whych thy chylde was on crosse yrent
Thy blysful eyen sawe al hys turment
Then is there no comparison bytwene
Thy wo, and any wo that man may sustene
Thou se thy chylde yslayne byfore thyn eyen
And yet now lyueth my lytel chylde parsaye
Nowe lady bryght, to whom al woful cryen
Thou glory of womanheed, thou fayre may
Thou hauen of refute, bryght sterre of day
Rewe on my chylde, of thy gentylnesse
That rewest on euery ruful in dystresse
O lytel chelde (alas) what is thy gylte?
That neuer wroughtest synne, as yet parde
why wol thyne hard father haue the spylte?
O mercy: dere constable (quod she)
As let me lytel chylde dwel here wyth the
And yf thou darst not sauen hym fro blame
So kysse hym ones in hys fathers name
Therwyth she loketh backward to ye lōde
And sayd: farewel husbande routhlesse
And vp she ryst & walked downe the stronde
Toward the shyp, her foloweth al the prees
& euer she prayeth her child to holdē his pees
Page  [unnumbered]And taketh her leue, and with an holy entent
She blesseth her, and into ye shyppe she went
Vitayled was the shippe, it is no drede
Habundantly, sor her full long space
And other necessaries that shulde nede
She had inowe, heried be goddes grace
For wynde & weder, almighty god purchace
And bringe her home, I can no better say
But in the see, she driueth forthe her way
Alla the kyng cometh home sone after this
Vnto hys castel, of whyche I tolde
And asketh where his wyfe & hys chylde is
The constable gan aboute hys herte to colde
And playnly al the maner hym tolde
As ye han herde, I can tel it no better
And sheweth the king his seale and his letter
And sayd: lorde as ye commaunded me
Vp payne of dethe, so haue I done certayne
This messanger turmented was tyl he
Must beknowen, and tel plat and playne
Fro night to night, in what place he had lain
And thus by wytte and subtel enqueryng
ymagened was, by whō this harm gā spring
The honde was knowē, yt the letter wrote
And al the venym of this cursed dede
But in what wyse, certaynly I note
The effecte is this, that Alla out of drede
His mother slow, that may men playnly rede
For that she traytoure was to her alegaunce
Thus endeth old Douegild with mischaūce
The sorowe that this Alla nyght & day
Maketh for hys childe, and for hys wyfe also
There is no tonge that it tel may
But nowe wol I to Custaunce go
That fleteth in the see, in payne and wo
Fyue yere and more, as lyked Christes sonde
Or that her shyppe aproched vnto londe
Vnder an hethen castel, at the laste
Of whiche the name in my text I not fynde
Custaunce and eke her chylde the set vp caste
Almighty god, that saueth al mankynde
Haue on Custāce, & on her chyld some mynde
That fallen is in hethen honde efte sone
In poynte to spyl, as I shal tel you sone
Downe fro the castel cometh ther many a wight
To gauren on this shyppe, & on Custaunce
But shortly fro the castel on a nyght
The lordes stewarde, god yeue him mischaū¦ce
A thefe, that had renyed our ceaunce
Came into the shyp alone, and sayd he sholde
Her lemman be, whether she wolde or nolde
Wo was the wretched woman tho bygō
Her chylde cryed, and she cryed pitously
But blysful Marye holpe her anon
For with her stroglyng, wel and mightyly
The thefe ouer the borde al sodaynly
And in the see he drenched for vengaunce
And thus hath christ vnwēmed kept Custāce
O soule luste of luxure, lo thyn ende
Nat onely that thou fayntest mans mynde
But verily, thou wolt his body shende
The ende of thy werke, or of thy lustes blynd
Is cōplayning: how many one may mē fynd
That not for werke somtyme, but for thētent
To don this synne, ben eyther slayne or shent
How may this weke womā haue yt strēgth
Her to defende agaynst this renegate?
O Golyas, vnmesurable of length
Howe might Dauid make the so mate?
So yonge, and of armure so desolate
Howe durst he loke on thy dredful face?
wel may men 〈◊〉, it is but goddes grace.
Who yaue Iudith courage or hardynesse
To sleen hym Holofernes in hys tente
And to delyuer out of wretchydnesse
The people of God? I say for this entent
That ryght as God, spyrite and vygore sente
To hem, and saued hem out of mischaunce
So sent he might and vigore to Custaunce
Forth goth her ship thorow ye narow mouth
Of Subalter and septe, fletyng aye
Somtyme weste, & somtyme northe & south
And somtyme este, ful many a wery daye
Tyl Christes mother, yblessed be she aye
Hath shapen, through her endlesse goodnesse
To make an ende of al her heuynesse.

¶Explicit secunda pars: et sequitur pars tertia.

Page  xxv
NOw let vs stynte of Custance but a throwe
And speke we of the Romayne Emperoure
That out of Surrey hath by letters knowe
The slaughter of christen folke, & dishonour
Done to hys doughter, by a false traytour
I meane the cursed wycked Soudonnesse
That at the feest, let sleen bothe more & lesse
For whiche this Emperour hath sent anon
Hys senatour, with royal ordinaunce
And other lordes, god wote many one
On Surreyns to done hye vengeaunce
They brennē, sleen, & bringē hem to mischāce
Ful many a day: but shortly this is the ende
Homward to Rome, they shapē hem to wēde
This senatour repayreth with victorye
To Rome warde, saylyng ful royally
And met the shyp dryuyng, as sayth the story
In whiche Custaunce, sate ful pitously
Nothyng knewe he what she was, ne why
She was in suche array, ne she nolde sey
Of her estate, thoug she shulde dey
He bryngeth her to Rome, and to his wyfe
He yaue her, and her yonge sonne also
And with the senatour she ladde her lyfe
Thus can our lady bryng out of wo
Woful Custaunce, and many another mo
And longe tyme dwelled she in that place
In holy werkes euer, as was her grace.
The senatours wyfe her aunte was
But for al that, she knewe her neuer the more
I wol no lenger tarye in thys caas
But to kyng Alla, ye whiche I spake of yore
That for hys wyfe wepeth, and syketh sore
I wol retourne, and let I wyl Custaunce
Vnder the senatours gouernaunce.
¶Kyng Alla, which yt had his mother slayne
Vpon a day fel in suche repentaunce
That yf I shortly tellen al shal, & playne
To Rome he cometh, to receyue hys penaūce
And putten him in the churches ordinaunce
In hye & in lowe, and Iesu Christ besought
Foryeue hys wycked werkes, yt he wrought
The fame anon through Rome town is born
Howe Alla kyng, shal come on pilgrymage
By herbegers that wenten hym byforne
For whiche the senatour, as was vsage
Rode hym agayne, and many of hys lynage
As wel to shewen hys hye magnifycence
As to done any kyng reuerence.
¶Great chere dothe thys noble senatour
To kyng Alla, and he to hym also
Eueryche of hem dothe other great honour
And so byfel, that on a day or two
This senatour is to kyng Alla go
To feest, and shortly yf I shal not lye
Custaunces sonne went in hys companye
Som mē wold sayne, at ye request of Cu∣stance
This senatour had ladde thys childe to feest
I may not tellen euery circumstaunce
Be as be may, there was he at leste
But sothe it is, right at hys mothers heste
Byforn Alla, duryng the meate space
The chylde stode, lokyng in the kynges face
This Alla kyng, hath of thys chyld great wonder
And to the senatour he sayd anon
whose is ye fayre chyld, that stondeth yonder?
I not (quod he) by god and by saynt Iohn
A mother he hath, but father hath he non
That I of wote, but shortly in a stounde
He tolde Alla, howe the childe was founde
But God wote (quod this senatour also)
So vertuous a lyuer in my lyfe
Ne sawe I neuer, as she, ne herde of mo
Of wordly woman, mayden, ne of wyfe
I dare wel say, she had leuer a knyfe
Through her brest, than ben a womā wycke
There is no mā couthe bryng her to yu pricke
Nowe was the chylde as lyke Custaunce
As possyble is, a creature for to be
This Alla hath the face in remembraunce
Of Dame Custaunce, and theron mused he
Yeue that the childes mother were aught she
That is his wyfe, and priuely he syght
And spedde hym fro the table, that he myght
Parfay he thought, ye fantome is in myn heed
I ought deme of skylful iugement
That in the salte see my wyfe is deed
And afterwarde he made hys argument
What wot I, yf Christ hath hyther sent
My wyfe by see? as wel as he her sente
To my countrey, fro thens yt she was wente
Page  [unnumbered]
And after anone, home wyth the senatour
Goeth Alla, for to se thys wonder chaunce
Thys senatour doth Alla great honour
And hastely he sente after Custaunce
But trusteth wel, her lust not to daunce
when she wyst wherfore was that sonde
Vnneth vpon her fete myght she stonde.
Whē Alla saw his wife, fayre he her gret
And wept, that it was rough for to se
For at the fyrst loke he on her set
He knewe wel verely that it was she
And for sorowe, as dombe stante as a tre
So was her herte shet in dystresse
when she remembreth hys vnkyndnesse
Twyse she sowned in her owne syght
He wepeth and hym excuseth pytously
Nowe god ({quod} he) and hys hallowes bryght
So wylly on my soule haue mercy
That of your harme, as gyltlesse am I
As is Maurice my sonne, so lyke your face
Els the fende me fetch out of thys place.
Longe was ye sobbyng, & the bytter payne
Or that her woful herte myght cese
Great was the pyte to here hem complayne
Thrugh which plaintes gan her wo encrese
I pray you al my laboure to relese
I may not tel her wo, tyl to morowe
I am so wery to speake of her sorowe
But fynally, when that ye soth is wyste
That Alla gyltlesse was of her wo
I trowe an hundred tymes ben they kyste
And such a blysse is there bytwyxt hem two
That saue the ioye, that lasteth euermo
There is no lyke, that any creature
Hath seyen or shal, whyle ye world may dure
Tho prayed she her husbande mekely
In relesynge of her pytous payne
That he wolde praye her father specially
That of hys maiesty he wolde enclyne
To vouchsafe somdaye wyth hym to dyne
She prayed hym eke, he shulde by no waye
Vnto her father no worde of her to saye
Some mē wold say, yt the chyld Maurice
Doth thys message vntyl thys Emperour
But as I gesse, Alla was not so nyse
To hym that was of so soueraygne honour
As he that is of christen folke the flour
Sent any chylde, but it is bette to deme
He went hym selfe, and so it may wel seme
Thys Emperour graunted gentelly
To come to dyner, as he hym bysought
That al was redy he loked besely
Vpon this chyld, & an his doughter thought
Alla goeth to hys ynne, and as hym ought
Arrayde for thys feest in euery wyse
As farforth as hys connynge may suffyce
The morow came, & Alla gan hym dresse
And eke his wyfe, the Emperour for to mete
And forth they ryde in ioye and in gladnesse
And when she sawe her father in the strete
She lyght a downe and falleth hym to fete
Father ({quod} she) your yonge chylde Custaunce
Is nowe ful clene out of your remembraūce
I am your doughter Custaunce ({quod} she)
That whylom ye han sent into Surrye
It am I father, that in the salte see
was put alone, and dampned for to dye
Nowe good father, I you mercy crye
Sende me no more into hethennesse
But thanken my lorde here of hys kyndnesse
who can the pytous ioye tellen al
Bytwyxt hem three syn they bē thus ymette
But of my tale make an ende I shal
The day goth fast, I wol no longer lette
Thys glad folke to dyner ben sette
In ioye and blysse, at meate I let hem dwell
A thousande folde welmore then I can tel
This chyld Mauris was sythin emperour
Made by the pope, and lyued christenly
To Christes churche he dyd great honour
But I let al thys story passen by
Of Custaunce is my tale specially
In olde Romayne iestes men may fynde
Maurys lyfe, I beare it not in mynde
This kynge Alla, when he hys tyme sey
wyth thys Custaūce, his holy wyfe so swete
To Englande ben they come the ryght wey
where as they lyue in ioye and in quyete
But lytel whyle it lasteth I you hete
Ioye of this worlde, for tyme wol not abyde
Fro daye to nyght, it chaungeth as the tyde
Page  xxv
Who lyued euer in such delyte a daye
That he ne meued eyther in conscience
Or yre, or tallent of some kyn affraye
Enuye or pryde, or passion, or offence?
I ne saye, but for thys ende, & thys sentence
That lytel whyle in ioye or in pleasaunce
Lasteth the blysse of Alla wyth Custaunce
For deth, yt taketh of hye & lowe his rente
when passed was a yere, euen as I gesse
Out of thys worlde kynge Alla he hente
For whom Custaūce hath ful gret heuynesse
Nowe let vs prayen god hys soule blesse
And dame Custaunce, fynally to say
Towarde ye towne of Rome goeth her way
To Rome is come thys holy creature
And fyndeth her father hole and sounde
Nowe is she skaped al her auenture
And when that she her father hath yfounde
Downe on her knees goeth she to grounde
wepynge for tendernesse in herte blythe
She heryeth god, an hūdred thousand sythe
In vertue and holy almesdede
They lyuen al, and neuer a sonder wende
Tyl death departen hem, thys lyfe they lede
And fareth nowe wel, my tale is at an ende
Now Iesu christ, yt of his myght may sende
Ioye after wo, gouerne vs in hys grace
And kepe vs al, that ben in thys place

¶Thus endeth the man of lawes tale, and here foloweth the Squyers prologue.

OVr hoost on hys styroppes stode anone
And sayd: good men herkeneth euerychone
Thys was a thryfty tale for the nones
Syr parysh preest ({quod} he) for goddes bones
Tel vs a tale, as was thy forwarde yore
I se wel that ye lerned men in lore
Can moche good, by goddes dignite
The parson hym answerde, benedicite
what cyleth the man, so synfully to swere?
¶Our host answerd, O Ienkyn be ye there
Now good mē ({quod} our host) herkeneth to me
I smel a loller in the wynde ({quod} he)
Abydeth for goddes dygne passion
For we shall haue a predication
Thys loller here, wol prechen vs somwhat.
¶Nay by my fathers soule, that shal he nat
Sayd the Squyer, here shal he not preche
Here shal he no gospel glose ne teche
we leueth al in the great god (quod he)
He wolde sowen some dyffyculte
Or sprynge cockel in our clene corne
And therfore hoost, I warne the byforne
My lolly body, shal a tale tel
And I shal ryngen you so mery a bel
That I shal waken al thys companye
But it shal not ben of philosofye
Ne phisyke, ne termes queynte of lawe
There is but lytel laten in my mawe

¶Here endeth the Squyers pro¦logue, and hereafter folo¦weth hys tale. Page  [unnumbered]
[illustration]

AT Sarra, in the lāde of Tartary
There dwelt a kynge that warred Surry
Thrugh which ther di¦ed many a douʒty mā
Thys noble kynge was called Cambuscā
Whych in hys tyme was of so great renoun
That there nas no where, in no regioun
So excellent a lorde in al thynge
Hym lacked naught that longed to a kynge
As of the secte, of whych he was borne
He kept hys laye, to whych he was sworne
And therto he was hardy, wyse, and ryche
And pytous and iuste alwaye ylyche
Trewe of his worde, benygne & honorable
Of hys corage, as any centre stable
Yonge, freshe, & stronge, in armes desyrous
As any bacheler of al hys hous
A fayre person he was, and fortunate
And kept alwaye so royal astate
That there nas no where such another man
This noble kyng, this tartre, this Cābuscā
Had two sonnes by Eltheta hys wyfe
Of whych the eldest hyght Algarsyfe
That other was cleped Camballo.
¶A doughter had thys worthy kynge also
That yongest was, and hyght Canace
But for to tel you al her beaute
It lyeth not in my tonge, ne in my connynge
I dare not vndertake so hye a thynge
Myne Englyshe eke is vnsufficient
It muste be a rethor excellent
That couth his colours, longyng for ye arte
Yf he shulde dystryue here euery parte
I am none such I muste speake as I can
And so byfel, that thys Cambuscan
Hath twenty wynter borne hys dyademe
As he was wonte, fro yere to yere I deme
He let the feest of hys natiuite
Done cryen throughout Sarra hys cyte
The laste ydus of Marche, after the yere
Phebus the sonne, full oly was and clere
For he was nye hys exaltation
In Martes face, and in hys mantion
In Aries, the collorike, the hote sygne
Ful lusty was the wether and benygne
For whych the foules, agaynst ye sonne shene
Page  xxviiwhat for the season, and the yonge grene
Ful loude songe her affections
Hem semed han getten hem protections
Ayen the swerde of wynter kene and colde.
¶Thys Cābuscā, of which I haue you tolde
In royal vestementes, syt on hys deys
wyth dyademe, ful hye in hys paleys
And helde hys feest so royal and so ryche
That in thys worlde nas there none it lyche
Of whych, yf I shall tel of al the array
Then wolde it occupye a sommers day
And eke it nedeth not to deuyse
At euery course, the ordre of her seruyce
I wol not tel of her straunge sewes
Ne of her swannes, ne of her heronsewes
Eke in that lande, as tellen knyghtes olde
Ther is some meate, that is ful dainty holde
That in thys lande men retche of it but smal
There is no man that maye reporten all.
I wyl not tarye you, for it is pryme
And for it is no frute, but losse of tyme
Vnto my fyrst purpose I wol haue recourse
¶And so byfel that after the thyrde course
whyse that thys kyng syt thus in his noblay
Herkenyng his minstralles her thinges play
Beforne hym at hys borde delicyously
In at the halfe dore al sodeynly
There come a knyght on a stede of brasse
And in hys honde abrode myrrour of glasse
Vpon hys thombe he had of golde a rynge
And by hys syde a naked swerde hongynge
And vp he rydeth to the hye borde
In al the hall ne was there spoke a worde
For maruayle of ye knyght, hym to beholde
Ful besely they wayten yonge and olde
¶This straūge knyght yt come thus sodenly
Al armed saue hys heed, ful royally
Salued kynge and quene, and lordes al
By ordre, as they sytten in the hall
wyth so hye reuerence and obeysaunce
As wel in speche as in countenaunce
That Gawyn wyth hys olde curtesye
Thoughe he come ayen out of fayre
Ne coude him not amende of no worde
And after this, before the hye borde
He with a manly voyce sayd his message
After the forme vsed in his langage
without vyce of syllable or of letter
And for his tale shulde seme the better
Accordant to his wordes was his chere
As teacheth arte of speche hem that it lere
Al be that I can not sowne his style
Ne I ne can not clymben so hye a style
Yet saye I thus, as to my comen entente
Thus much amoūteth al that euer he mente
Yf it so be, that I haue it in my mynde
¶He sayd: The kynge of Araby and of Ynde
My liege lorde, on thys solempne day
Salueth you, as he best can and may
And sendeth you, in honoure of your feest
By me that am redy at your heest
Thys stode of brasse, that easely and wel
Can in the space of a daye naturel
This is to say, in foure & twenty houres
where so ye lyst, in drought or in shoures
Beren your body into euery place
Into whych your herte wylleth to pace
without weme of you, through foule or faire
Or yf ye lyst to fleen in the eyre
As doth an Egle, when hym lyst to sore
This same stede shal beare you euermore
withouten harme, tyl ye ben there you leste
Though that ye slepen on his backe and rest
And turne agayn with ye writhyng of a pyn
He that it wrought coude ful many a gyn
He wayted ful many a constellation
Or he had done this operatyon
And knew ful many a seale & many a bonde.
This myrrour eke yt I haue in myne honde
Hath such a myght, that men may in it se
when there shal fallen any aduersite
Vnto your reygne, or to your selfe also
And openly se, who is your frende and foe
And ouer al thys, yf any lady bryght
Hath set her herte on any myner wyght
Yf he be false, she shal the treason se
Hys newe loue, and al hys subtylte
So openly, that there shal nothynge hyde
Wherfore agayne this lusty sommer tyde
Thys myrrour & thys rynge, that ye maye se
He hath sente to my lady Canace
Your excellent doughter that is here
¶The vertue of thys rynge, yf ye woll here
Is thys, that yf she lyst it for to were
Vpon her thombe, or in her purse it bere
There is no foule, that fleeth vnder heuen
That she ne shal vnderstande hys steuen
And knowe hys meanynge openly & playne
And answere hym in hys langage agayne
And euery grasse that groweth vpon rote
She shal wel know, & whom it wol do bote
Al be hys woūdes neuer so depe and wyde
¶This naked swerde, yt hangeth by my syde
Such vertue hath, yt what man so ye smyte
Page  [unnumbered]Throughout his armure it wol karue & byte
were it as thycke as a braunched oke
And what mā that is woūded wyth yu stroke
Shal neuer be hole, tyl that you lyst of grace
To stroken him with ye platte in thylke place
There he is hurte, thys is as moche to sayne
Ye mote wyth the platte swerde agayne
Stroken hym in the wounde, & it wol close
Thys is very soth wythouten glose
It fayleth not, whyles it is in your holde.
And whē this kniʒt hath thus his tale tolde
He rydeth out of the halle, & downe he lyght
Hys stede, whych that shone as sonne bryght
Stante in the courte styl as any stone
The knyght is into chambre ladde anone
He is vnarmed, and to the meate ysette
And al that harneys byforne hym sette
This is to sayne, the swerd & eke ye myrrour
Al borne was into the hye tour
wyth certayne offycers ordeyned therfore
And to Caace the rynge is bore
Solemnely, there she sat at the table
But sekerly wythout any fable
The horse of brasse, yt may not be remeued
It slante, as it were to the grounde yglewed
There maye no man out of the place it dryue
For none engyne, or wyndlas, or polyue
And cause why, for they can not the crafte
And therfore in the place they hau it lafte
Tyl yt the kniʒt hath taught hem ye manere
To voyden hym, as ye shal after here.
¶Great was ye prees, that swarmed to & fro
To gauren on the horse, that standeth so
For it so hye was, & so brode and longe
So wel proporcioned for to ben stronge
Ryght as it were a stede of Lumbardye
Therwyth so horsly, and so quycke of eye
As it a gentle courser of Poyle were
For certes, fro hys tayle to hys ere
Nature ne arte coude hym not amende
In no degre, as al the people wende
But euermore her moste wonder was
Howe that it couth gon, and was of bras
It was of fayrie, as the people semed
Dyuers folke dyuersly they demed
As many heedes, as many wyttes there ben
They murmure, as doth a swarme been
And made of skylles after her fantesyes
Rehersynge of the olde poetryes
And sayden it was ylyke the Pegase
The horse that had wynges for to flee
Or els it was the Grekes horse Synon
That brought Troye to dystruccion
As men in thys olde bokes rede.
Myne herte ({quod} one) is euermore in drede
I trowe some men of armes ben therin
That shapen hem thys cytie for to wyn
It were right good, yt such thynges were know
An other rowned to his felow low
And sayd he lyed, for it is rather ylyke
An apparence made by some magyke
As iogglours playen at these feastes grete
Of sondry thoughtes, thus they iāgle & trete
As leude people demeth comenly
Of thynges that ben made more subtelly
Then they can in her leudnesse comprehende
They demen gladly to the badder ende.
And some of them wondren on ye myrrour
That borne was vp to the mayster toure
Howe men myght in it such thynges se.
And other answerd, certes it myght wel be
Naturally by composicyons
Of angels and of slye reflections
And sayden in Rome was suche on
They speken of Alocen and Vitilion
And Aristote, that wryteth in her lyues
Of queynte myrrours, and of prospectiues
As knowen they that han her bokes herde.
And other folke han wōdred on ye sworde
That wolde perce through euery thynge
And fel in speche of Telophus the kynge
And of Achylles for hys queynte spere
For he couth wyth it heale and dere
Right in such wyse as mē may wt the swerde
Of which right now ye haue your seluē herd
They speken of sondry hardyng of metal
And speken of medycyns eke wythal
And how, and when it shulde hardened be
whych is vnknowe algate to me.
¶Tho speake they of Canaces rynge
And sayden al, that suche a wonder thynge
Of crafte of rynges herde they neuer non
Saue that Moses, and kynge Salomon
Had a name of connynge of such arte
Thus sayen the people, & drawē hem aparte
But nathelesse, some sayden that it was
wonder to maken o serue ashen, glas
And yet is glas not yke ashen of ferne
But so they han knowen it so ferne
Therfore they sesen her iāglyng & her wōder
As sore wondren some on cause of thōder
On ebbe & fludde, on gossomer, and on myste
And on al thynge, tyl the cause is wyste.
Thus ianglen they, and demē and deuyse
Page  xxviiiTyl that the kyng gan fro hys borde aryse.
¶Phebus hath lefte the angle merydional
And yet ascendyng was the beest royal
The gentle Lyon with his Aldrian
Whan that this tartre Kyng Cambuscan
Rose from his borde, there as he sate ful hye
Byforne hym gothe the loude mynstralcye
Tyl he came to hys chambre of paramentes
There as they sownen dyuers instrumētes
That is lyke an heuen for to here
Nowe dauncen lusty Venus chyldrē dere
For in the fyshe her lady sate ful hye
And loketh on hem with a frendly eye.
¶This noble kyng is sette vpon hys trone
This straunge knyght is fet to hym ful sone
And in the daunce he gothe with Canace
Here is the reuel and the iolyce
That is not able a dul man to deuyse
He must hau knowe loue and her seruyse
And ben a feestlyche man, as fresshe as May
That shulde you deuyse suche araye.
¶who coulde you tellen the forme of daūces
So vncouth and so fresh countenaunces
Suche subtyll lokynges and dissimulinges
For drede of ialouse mens apperceyuynges
No man but Lancelot, and he is deed
Therfore I passe ouer al this lusty heed
I say no more, but in this iolynesse
I lete hem, tyl men to supper dresse.
¶The steward byddeth spyces for to hye
And eke the wyne, in al this melodye
The vshers and the squyers ben ygone
The spyces and the wyne is comen anone
They eten & dronkē, & whā this had an ende
Vnto the temple, as reason was, they wende
The seruyce is done, they soupen al by day
what nedeth it to rehersen her array?
Eche man wot wel, that at a kynges feest
Is plenty, to the moste and to the leest
And deyntes mo, than ben in my knowynge.
And after supper gothe this noble kynge
To seen this horse of brasse, with al his route
Of lordes and of ladyes hym aboute
Such wōdrig ther was on his hors of bras
That sythen the great siege of Troye was
There as men wondred on an horse also
He was there such a wondring, as was tho
But fynally, the kyng asketh the knyght
The vertue of thys horse and the myght
And prayde him to tellen of his gouernaūce.
The horse anon gan to tryppe and daunce
whā yt this knightlayde honde on hys rayne
And sayd, syr there is no more to sayne
But whan you lyste to ryden any where
Ye mote tryll a pyn, stante in hys ere
whiche I shal tel you bytwene vs two
Ye mote nempne hym to what place also
Or to what countre you lyst to ryde
And whan ye come there you lyste abyde
Bydde hym discende, and trylle a nother pyn
For therin lyeth the effecte of al the gyn
And he wol downe discende, & don your wyl
And in that place he wol abyde styl
Though al ye world had the cōtrary sworne
He shal not thens be ythrowe ne yborne
Or yf you lyst bydde hym thens gon
Tryl thys pyn, and he wol vanyshe anon
Out of the syght of euery maner wyght
And come ayen, be it day or nyght
whan that you lyst to clepen hem agayne
In suche a gyse, as I shal to you sayne
Bytwyxt you and me, and that ful sone
Ryde whā you lyst, ther nis no more to done
¶Enfourmed whā ye kyng was of ye knyght
And hath conceyued in hys wytte aright
The maner and the forme of al thys thyng
Ful glad and ful blythe, the noble kyng
Repayreth to hys reuel, as byforne
The brydel is in to the toure yborne
And kept amonge his iewels lese and dere
The horse vanysshed, I not in what manere
Out of her syght, ye get no more of me
But thus I lete in luste and iolyte
This Cambyscan, hys lordes festyng
Tyl wel nye the day began to spryng.

¶Explicit prima parset se quitur pars secunda.

THe nortee of digestyon, the slepe
Gan on hem wynke, & bad hem take kepe
That myrth, drinke, & labour wol haue reste
And with a galping mouthe hem al he keste
And sayd, it was tyme to lye adoun
For blode was in hys domynacyoun
Cherysseth blode, natures frende ({quod} he)
They thankē him galpyng, by two by thre
And euery wight gan drawe him to his reste
As slepe hem bade, they toke it for the beste.
Her dremes shul not now ben it olde for me
Ful were her heedes of fumosyte
That causeth dremes, of whyche ther is no charge
They slepen, tyl it was pryme large
Page  [unnumbered]The moste parte, but it were Canace
She was ful mesurable, as women be
For of her father had she take her leue
To gon to rest, sone alter it was eue
Her lyst not appalled for to be
Nor on the morowe, vnfestlyche for to se
And slept her fyrst slepe, and awoke
For suche a ioy she in her herte toke
Both of her queynt Rynge, & of her myrrour
That twenty tymes she chaunged her colour
And in her slepe, ryght for impressyon
Of her myrrour, she had a visyon
Wherfore, or the sonne vp gan glyde
She cleped her maistresses her besyde
And sayd, her luste for to aryse.
¶These olde women, that ben gladly wyse
As is her maystresse, answerde her anon
And sayd: madame, whither wol ye gon
Thus erly for folke ben al in reste.
¶I wol (quod she aryse) for me leste
No lenger for to slepe, but walken aboute.
Her maystresse cleped wome a great route
And vp they ryse, wel ten or twelue
Vp ryseth fresshe Canace her selue
As ioly and bright, as the yonge sonne
That in the Ram is four degrees vp ronne
No hygher was he, whan she redy was
And sorthe she walketh an easye paas
Arrayed after the lusty season sote
Lightly for to playen, & to walken on fete
Nought but fyue or sixe of her meyne
And in a trenche, fer in the parke gethe she.
¶The vapour, whiche yt fro the erth glode
Maketh the sonne to seme ruddy and brode
But nathelesse, it was so fayre a syght
That it made al her hertes for to lyght
What for the ceason, and for the morownyng
And for the soules that she herde synge
For right anon, she wyste what they ment
Right by her songe, and knewe al her entent
¶The knotte why, that euery tale is tolde
If it be taryed tyl luste be colde
Of hem that han it herkened after yore
The sauour passeth, euer lenger the more
For fulsomnesse of prolixite
And by the same reason thynketh me
I shulde vnto the same knot condiscende
And make of her walkyng sone an ende.
¶Amydde a ti, for drye as whyt as chalke
As Canace was playeng in her walke
There sate a fauron ouer her heed ful hye
That with a pytous voyce gan to crye
That al the wodde resowned of her cry
And beaten had her selfe so pytously
With bothe her wynges, tyl the reed blode
Ran endelonge the tre, there as she stode
And euer in one, she cryed and shright
And with her becke, her seluen so she pyght
That there nas Tygre, ne cruel beste
That dwelleth in wodde, eyther in foreste
That nolde hā wept, yf that they wepe coude
For sorowe of her, she shright alway so loude
For there nas neuer yet man on lyue
If that he couthe a faucon wel discryue
That herde of suche another of fayrenesse
As wel of plumage, as of gentylnesse
Of shappe, of al that might trekened be
A faucon peregryn than semed she
Of scrude londe, & euermore as she stoode
She swouned now & now, for lacke of blood
Tyl welny is she fal fro the tree.
¶This fayre kynges doughter, this Canace
That on her fynger bare the queynte rynge
Thrugh which she vnderstod wel euery thīg
That any foule may in hys leden sayne
And coude answere hym in his leden agayne
Hath vnderstande, what this faucon seyde
And welny for routhe almost she deyde
And to the tre she gothe ful hastely
And on this faucon loketh ful pytously
And helde her lappe abrod, for wel she wyste
The faucon muste fallen from the twyste
Whā yt she swouned next, for lacke of bloode
A longe whyle to wayten there she stoode
Tyl at the laste she spake in this manere
Vnto the hauke, as ye shalen after here.
¶What is the cause, yf it be for to tell
That ye ben in this furyal payne of hell
Quod Canace, vnto this hauke aboue
Is thys for sorowe of dethe, or losse of loue?
For as I trowe, these ben causes two
That causen most a gentyll hert wo
Of other harme it nedeth not to speke
For ye vpon your selfe you wreke
Whiche proueth wel, that eyther ire or drede
Mote ben encheson of your cruell dede
Syu that I se none other wyght you chace
For the loue of god, so doth your selfe grace
Or what may be your helpe, for west or est
Ne sawe I neuer er now, no byrde ne beest
That farde with hym selue so pytously
Ye slee me with your sorowe veryly
I haue of you so great compassioun
For goddes loue come fro the tre adowne
Page  xxixAnd as I am a kynges doughter trewe
If that I veryly the causes knewe
Of your disease, yf it lay in my myght
I wolde amende it, certes or it be nyght
As wysely helpe me great god of kynde
And herbes shal I right ynowe fynde
To hele with your hurtes hastely
Tho shright this faucon yet more spitously
Than euer she dyd, & fell to grounde anone
And lyeth a swoune deed as is a stone
Tyl Canace hath in her lappe itake
Vnto the tyme she gan of swoune awake
And after that she of swoune gan abreyde
Ryght in her haukes leden thus she sayde
That pite renneth soone in gentyl herte
(Felyng his semilitude in paynes smerte)
Is proued al day, as men may se
As wel by werke as by authorite
For gentle hert kepeth gentilnesse
I se wel, that ye haue of my distresse
Campassyon, my fayre Canace
Of very womanly benignyte
That nature in your principles hath sette
But for none hope for to fare the bette
But for to obey vnto your hert free
And for to make other beware by me
As by the whelpe, chastised is the Lyon
Right for that cause, and for that conclusyon
Whyle that I haue a leyser and a space
Myne harm I wol confessen or I pace
And euer while that one her sorowe tolde
That other wepte, as she to water wolde
Tyl that the Faucon badde her to be styl
And with a sike, thus she sayd her tyl.
¶There I was bredde, alas that ilke day
And fostred in a roche of marble gray
So tenderly, that nothyng eyleth me
I ne wist not what was aduersyte
Tyl I coude flye, ful hye vnder the skye
There dwelte a Terselet me fast by
That semed wel of al gentylnesse
Al were he ful of trayson and of falsnesse
It was so wrapped vnder humble chere
And vnder hewe of trouth, & in suche manere
Vnder pleasaunce, and vnder busy payne
That no wight coud haue wede he coud fain
So depe in greyne he dyed his colours
Right as a serpent hideth him vnder flours
Tyl he may se hys tyme for to byte
Right so, this God of loues ipocrite
Dothe so hys serymones and obeysaunce
with his dissimulynge, & fayre assemblaunce
That sowneth vnto gentilnesse of loue
As in a tombe is al the fayre aboue
And vnder the cors, suche as ye wote
Suche was this ipocrite colde and hote
And in this wyse he serued his entent
That saue the fende, non wist what he ment
Tyl he so long had weped and complayned
And many a yere hys seruyce to me yfayned
Tyl that myn hert, to pitous and to nyce
Al innocent of hys cruel malyce
For ferde of hys dethe, as thought me
Vpon hys othes and hys suretee
Graunted hym loue, vpon this condition
That euermore myn honour and my renoun
were saued, bothe preuy and apert
This is to say, that after hys desert
I yaue hym al myn hert and all my thought
God wote, and in other wyse nought
And toke his hert in chaunge of myn for aye
But sothe is sayd, gone sythen many a day
A trewe wight and a thefe thynketh not one
And whan he sawe the thyng so fer ygone
That I graunted hym fully my loue
In suche a gyse, as I haue sayd aboue
And yeuen hym my trewe hert as fre
As he swore he yafe his hert to me
Anon this Tygre, ful of doublenesse
Fyll on hys knees with so deuout humblesse
with hye reuerence, and eke by his chere
So lyke a gentyl louer, as of manere
So rauyshed, as it semed for ioye
That neuer Troylus, ne Paris of Troy
Iason certes, ne non other man
Syn Lamet was, that alderfyrst began
To louen two, as writen folke beforne
Ne neuer sythen Adam was borne
Ne couthe man by twenty thousande parte
Counterfete the sophymes of hys arte
Ne were worthy to vnbocle hys galoche
Ther doublenesse or faynyng shulde aproche
Ne so couth thanke a wight, as he dyd me
His maner was an heuen for to se
Tyl any woman, were she neuer so wyse
So paynteth he hys chere poynt deuyse
As wel hys wordes, as hys countenaunce
And I so loued hym for hys obeysaunce
And for the trouthe that I demed in his hert
That yf so were, that any thyng hym smert
Al were it neuer so lyte, and I it wyst
Me thought I fetel dethe at my herte twyst
And shortly, so ferforth this thyng went
That my wyl was his wylles instrument
Page  [unnumbered]That is to say, my wil obeyed his wyl
In al thyng, as ferre as reason fyl
Kepyng the boundes of my worshyp euer
Ne neuer had I thyng so lefe ne so leuer
As hym god wote, ne neuer shal no mo
This last lenger than a yere or two
That I supposed of hym nothyng but good.
But fynally, thus at the last it stode
That fortune wolde that he most twyn
Out of that place, whiche that I was in
where me was wo, it is no questyon
I can not make of it discriptyon
For o thyng dare I tel boldely
I knowe what the payne of dethe is therby
Suche harm I felte, that he ne might beleue
¶So on a day of me he toke hys leue
So sorowfully eke, that I wende verely
That he had felte as moche harm as I
whā that I herde him speke, & saw his hewe
But natheles, I thought he was so trewe
And eke that he repaire shulde agayne
withyn a lytel whyle sothe to sayne
And reason wolde eke, that he must go
For hys honour, as ofte happeth so
That I made vertue of necessite
And toke it wel, sythe it must nedes be
As I best might, I hidde fro hym my sorow
And toke him by ye hond, seit Iohn to borow
And sayd thus: lo I am yours al
Beth suche as I haue ben to you and shal
what he answerde, it nedeth not reherce
who can sayn bet than he, who can do wers?
whan he had al wel ysaid, than hath he done
Therfore behoueth hym a longe spone
That shal eten with a fende, thus herd I say
So at the last he mote forth hys way
And forthe he sleth til he come there him lest
whan it come hym to purpose for to rest
I trowe he had thylke text in mynde
That al thyng repayring to hys kynde
Gladeth him selue, thus sayn men as I gesse
Men louen of kynde newfanglenesse
As briddes don, that men in cages fede
For though yu nyght & day take of hem hede
And strawe her cage fayre and softe as sylke
And gyue hem sugre, hony, breed and mylke
Yet right anon as hys dore is vppe
He with his fete wold sporne adown his cup
And to the wood he wolde, and wormes eate
So newfangled ben they of her meate
And louen nouelries of proper kynde
No gentylnesse of blode may hem bynde
So ferde thys Tercelet, alas the day
Tho he were gentel borne, freshe and gaye
And goodly for to se, and humble and free
He sawe vpon a tyme a kyte flee
And sodaynly he loued this kyte so
That al hys loue is clene fro me goo
And hath hys trouthe falsed in this wyse
Thus hathe the kyte my loue in her seruyce
And I am lorne without remedy.
And with ye worde this faucon gan to crye
And swouned ofte in Canaces barme
Great was ye sorowe for that haukes harme
That Canace, and all her women made
They nyst how they might her faucon glade
But Canace home bereth here in her lappe
And softely in playsters gan her wrappe
There as she wt her becke had hurt her selue
Nowe can not Canace but herbes delue
Out of the grounde and make salues newe
Of herbes precious and fyne of hewe
To helen with the hauke fro day to nyght
She dothe her besynesse, and all her might
And by her beddes heed she made a mewe
And couered it with veluettes blewe
In sygne of trouthe, that is in women sene
And al withouten ye Mewe is peynted grene
In which were peynted al these false foules
As ben these tydefes, tercelettes, and owles
Ryght for dispyte were peynted hem besyde
Pyes on hem for to crye and chyde
Thys leue I Canace her hauke kepynge
I wol nomore as nowe speke of her rynge
Tyl it come efte to purpos for to sayn
How that this faucon gate her loue agayn
Repentant, as the story telleth vs
By mediatyon of Camballus
The kynges sonne, of whiche I of tolde
But hensforthe I wol my proces holde
To speken of auentures, and of batayls
That yet was neuer herd of so gret maruels
Fyrst wol I tel you of Cambuscan
That in hys tyme many a cyte wan
Howe that he wan Theodora to hys wyfe
And after wol I speke of Algarsyfe
For whom ful ofte in great peryl he was
Ne had he ben holpen by the horse of bras
And after wol I speke of Camballo
That fought in listes with the brethern two
For Canace, er that he myght her wyn
And there I left, I wol agayn begyn.
¶Explicit secunda pars.
Page  xxx
Apollo whirleth vp his chare so hye
Tyl that the god Mercurius house he slye.

¶There can be founde no more of this foresayd tale, whiche hath ben sought in dyuers places

¶Here foloweth the wordes of the Marchaunt to the Squyer, and the wordes of the Host to the Mar¦chaunt.

IN fayth Squyer, thou hast the wel iquyt
And gentelly, I prayse wel thy wyt
Quod the Marchaunt, consy∣dryng thyne youth
So felyngly thou spekest I the alouth
As to my dome, there is non that is here
Of eloquence, that shalbe thy pere
Yf that thou lyue, God gyue the ryght good chaunce
And in vertue sende the perseueraunce
For of thy spekyng I haue great deynte
I haue a sonne, and by the Trinite
I had leuer thā twenty poūdesworth londe
(Though it nowe were fallen in my honde)
He were a man of suche discressyon
As that ye ben: fye on possessyon
But yf a man be vertuous with all
I haue my sonne shybbed, and yet shal
For he to vertue lysteth nat to entende
But for to play at dyse, and to spende
And lese al that he hath, is his vsage
And he had leuer talke with a page
Than to cōmen with any gentyl wight
where he myght lerne gentelnesse aryght
Strawe for your gentylnesse ({quod} our host)
what marchaunt, pardy wel thou wost
That eche of you mote tellen at the lest
A tale or two, or breken your behest
That know I wel ({quod} the marchāt) certain
I pray you haue me nat in disdayn
Though I to thys mā speke a worde or two
¶Tel on thy tale withouten wordes mo
Gladly syr host ({quod} he) I wol obey
Vnto your wyl, nowe herkeneth what I say
I wol you nat contray in no wyse
As farre as my wittes may suffyse
I pray to god that it may plesen you
Than wotte I wel, it is good ynow.

¶Thus ende the wordes of the host and the marchant, and here folo¦weth the Marchauntes prologue.

WEpyng and waylyng, care and other sorowe
I haue ynowe, both euyn and eke a morowe
Quod the Marchaunt, and so haue other mo
That wedded be, I trowe that it be so
For wel I wote it fareth so by me
I haue a wyfe, the worst that may be
For though the fende coupled to her were
She wold him ouermatch I dare wel swere
What shulde I reherce in special
Her hygh malyce: she is a shrewe at all
There is a longe and a large difference
Betwyxt Grisyldes great pacience
And of my wyfe the passyng cruelte
Were I vnbounde, also mote I the
I wolde neuer efte come in the snare
We wedded men lyue in sorowe and care
Assay who so wol, and he shal fynde
That I say sothe, by saynt Thomas of Inde
As for the more parte, I say nat al
God shelde that it shulde so befal
Ah good syr host, I haue wedded be
These monethes two, and more nat parde
And yet I trowe he that all hys lyfe
Hath wedded be, thoug men hym ryfe
In to the hert, ne couthe in no manere
Tel so moche sorowe, as I nowe here
Coude tell, of my wyues cursednesse
Now {quod} our host marchant, so god yt blesse
Syn ye be so moche knowe of that arte
Ful hertely I pray you tell vs parte
Gladly quod he, but of myn owne sore
For sory hert I tel may no more.

¶Here endeth the Marchauntes pro¦logue, and here foloweth hys tale. Page  [unnumbered]
[illustration]

WHylō there was dwel∣lyng in Lombardy
A worthy knyght, that borne was at Pauy
In whiche he lyued in great prosperyte
And syxty yeare a wy∣feles man was he
And folowed aye hys bodely delyte
On women, there as was his appetyte
As don these foles that ben seculeres
And whan that he was past sixty yeres
were it for holynesse or dotage
I can not sayn, but suche a great corage
Had this knyght to ben a wedded man
That day and nyght he dothe al that he can
To espy, where that he wedded myght be
Prayeng oure lorde to graunten hym that he
Myghten ones knowen of that blysful lyfe
That is bitwixt an husbande and hys wyfe
And for to lyuen vnder that holy bonde
with which god fyrst man and womā bonde
Non other lyfe (sayd he) is worthe a bean
For wedlocke is so easy and so clean
That in this worlde it is a paradise
Thus saith this olde knyght that is so wyse.
And certaynly, as sothe as god is kyng
To take a wyfe, it is a glorious thyng.
And nmely whan a man is olde and hore
Than is a wyfe the frute of hys tresore
Than shulde he take a yonge wyfe & a faire
On which he might engendren him an heire
And lede his lyfe in ioye and in solace
where as these bachelers syngen alas
whan that they fynden any aduersyte
In loue, whiche nys but chyldes vanyte
And trewly it sytte wel to be so
That bachelers han ofte payne and wo
On brotel grounde they bylden brotelnesse
They finde freelte, whā they wenē secrenesse
They lyue but as bryddes or beestes
In lyberte, and vnder nyce arestes
There as a wedded man in hys estate
Lyueth a lyfe blisfully and ordinate
Vnder the yoke of mariage ybounde
wel may his hert in ioye and blisse habounde
For who can be so buxome as a wyfe?
who is so trewe and eke so tentife
To kepe hym sicke and hole? as is hys make
For wel ne wo she nyl hym nat forsake
She nys nat wery hym to loue and serue
Though that he lye bedreed tyl he sterue
And yet some clerkes sayn, that it is nat so
Of whiche Theophrast is one of tho
what force though Theophrast lyst to lye
Ne take no wyfe ({quod} he) for hysbondrye
As for to spare in housholde thy dispence
A trewe seruaunt doth more dilygence
Thy good to kepe, than thyn owne wyfe
For she wol clayme halfe parte al her lyfe
Page  xxxiAnd yf that thou be sycke, so god me saue
Thy very frendes or a trewe knaue
wol kepe the better, thē she that wayteth aye
After thy good, and hath done many a daye
And yf thou take a wyfe, to the vntrewe
Ful ofte tyme it shal the sore rewe
Thys sentence, and an hundred sithes worse
wryteth thys mā there, god hys bones curse
But take no kepe of suche vanyte
Defyeth Theophrast, and herkeneth me.
¶A wyfe is goddes yefte verely
Al other maner yeftes hardely
As landes, rentes, pasture, or cōmune
Or mouables, al ben yeftes of fortune
That passen, as a shadowe on a wal
But drede not, yf playnly speake I shal
A wyfe wol last and in thyne house endure
wel lenger then the lyst parauenture
Mariage is a ful great sacrament
He whych hath no wyfe I holde him shent
He lyueth helples, and al desolate
I speake of folke in secular estate.
And herkneth why, I say not this for nouʒt
A woman is for mannes helpe ywrought
The hye god, wen he had Adam maked
And sawe hym alone belly naked
God of hys great goodnesse sayd than
Let vs make an helpe to thys man
Lyke to hymselfe, and then he made Eue
Here may ye se, and hereby may ye preue
That a wyfe is mannes helpe and comforte
Hys paradyse terrestre and hys dysporte
So buxome and so vertuous is she
They must nedes lyue in vnyte
One fleshe they ben, & two soules as I gesse
Not but one herte in wele and in dystresse
A wyfe, ah saynt Mary, benedicite
Howe myght a man haue any aduersite
That hath a wyfe, certes I can not sey
The blysse that is betwyxte hem twey
There may no tonge tellen or hert thynke
Yf he be poore, she helpeth hym to swynke
She kepeth hys good, & wasteth neuer a dei
Al that her husbande lust, her lyketh wel
She sayeth not ones naye, when he sayth ye
Do thys (sayeth he) al redy syr (sayth she)
¶O blysful order of wedlocke precious
Thou arte so mery, and eke so vertuous
And so cōmended, and so approued eke
That euery mā, that halte hym worth a leke
Vpon hys bare knees ought all hys lyfe
Thanken god, that hym hath sent a wyfe
Or praye to god hym for to sende
A wyfe, to last vnto hys lyues ende
For then hys lyfe is sette in sekernesse
He may not be dysceyued, as I gesse
So that he werche after hys wyues rede
Then may he boldely bearn vp hys hede
They ben so trewe and also wyse
For whych, yf thou wolt werchen as ye wyse
Do alway so, as women wol the rede
Lo how that Iacob, as these clerkes rede
By good counsayle of hys mother Rebecke
Bounde the kydde skynne about hys necke
For whych hys fathers benison he wan
Lo Iudyth, as the story tel can
By wyse counsayle goddes people kept
And slewe hym Holofernes whyle he slept
Lo Abigail by counsayle, howe she
Saued her husbande Nabal, when that he
Shulde haue be slayne. And loke Hester also
By good counsayle delyuered out of wo
The people of God, & made him Mardochere
Of Assuere enhaunsed for to be.
¶There nys nothynge in gree superlatyfe
(As sayeth Senec) aboue an humble voyfe
Suffre thy wynes tonge, as Caton byt
She shal cōmaūde, and thou shalt sustre it
And yet she wol obey of curtesye
A wyfe is keper of thyne husbondrye
wel may the sycke man wayle and wepe
There as there nys no wyfe ye house to kepe
I warne the, yf wysely thou wylt werche
loue wel thy wift, as christ loueth his cherch
Yf thou loue thy selfe, thou louest thy wyfe
No man hateth hys fleshe: but in hys lyfe
He fostreth it, and therfore byd I the
Cheryshe thy wyfe, or thou shalt neuer ithe
Husbande & wyfe, what so men iape or playe
Of worldly folke holde the seker waye
They be so knit, ther may none harme betide
And namely vpon the wyues syde
For which this Ianuary, of which I tolde
Consydred hath in hys dayes olde
The lusty lyfe, the vertuous quiete
That is in mariage hony swete
And for hys frendes on a daye he sent
To tellen hem theffecte of hys entent.
¶wyth face sadde, his tale hath he hem tolde
He sayd frendes, I am hoore and olde
And almost (god wot) on the pyttes brynke
Vpon my soule somwhat must I thynke
I haue my body folyshly dyspended
Blessed be god, it shal ben amended
Page  [unnumbered]For I wol ben certayne a wedded man
And that anone in al the hast I can
Vnto some mayde, fayre and tender of age
I pray you shapeth for my mariage
All sodeynly, for I wol not abyde
And I wol fonden to espye on my syde
To whom I may be wedded hastely
But for as moche as ye ben more then I
Ye shullen rather suche a thynge espyen
Then I, and there me luste best to alyen
But one thing ware I you my frēdes dere
I wol none olde wyfe haue in no manere
She shal not passe fyftene yere certayne
Olde fyshe & yonge fleshe wol I haue fayne
Better is ({quod} he) a pyke then a pykerel
And better then olde befe is the tender veel
I wol no woman of thyrty wynter age
It nys but be anstrawe and great forage
And eke these olde wedowes (god it wote)
They connen so moche crafte in wades bote
So moche broken harme when hem lyst
That wyth hem shulde I neuer lyue in rest
For sondrye scholes maketh subtel clerkes
A woman of many scholes halfe a clerke is
But certaynly a yonge thynge may men gye
Ryght as mē may warme war wt hādes ply
wherfore I saye you plainly in a clause
I nyl none olde wyfe haue for thys cause
For yf so were that I had myschaunce
And in her couth haue no pleasaunce
Then shulde I lede my lyfe in auoutry
And so streyght to the deuel when I dye
Ne chyldren shulde I none vpon her geten
Yet had I leuer houndes had me eten
Then that myne heritage shulde fal
In straunge handes: and thus I tel you al
I dote not, I wote the cause why
Men shulde wedden: & forthermore wot I
There speaketh many a man of mariage
That wot nomore of this thē doth my page
For whych cause men shulde take a wyfe
Yf he may not lyuen chast hys lyfe
Take hym a wyfe wyth great deuotion
Bycause of leful procreation
Of chyldren, to the honoure of god aboue
And not only for paramour or for loue
And for they shulden lechery eschewe
And yelde her dettes when that it is dewe
Or for that eche man shulde helpen other
In myschefe, as a suster shulde the brother
And lyue in chastite ful heuenly
¶But syrs (by your leaue) that am not I
For god be thanked, I dare make auaunt
I fele my lymmes hole and sufficiaunt
To done al that a man belongeth to
I wote my selfe best what I may do
Though I be hore, I fare as doth a tre
That blossometh er that frute ywoxe be
The blossomed tre is neyther drye ne deed
I fele no where hore but on my heed
Myne herte and my lymmes bene as grene
As laurel is through the yere to sene
And sythen that ye haue herd al myn entent
I pray you to my wyll ye wol assent
Dyuers men dyuersly hym tolde
Of mariage many ensamples olde
Some blameth it, some prayseth it certayne
But at the last, shortly for to ta sayn
(As al daye falleth altereacion
Betwyxt frendes in dysputation)
There fel a stryfe betwyxt hys brethren two
Of whych that one was cleped Placebo
Iustynus sothly called was that other
¶Placebo sayd: O Ianuary brother
Ful lytel nede han ye my lorde so dere
Counsayle to axe of any that is here
But that ye ben so ful of sapience
That you ne lyketh for your hye prudence
To vayne fro the worde of Salomon
Thys worde sayth he vnto euerychone
worke al thynge by counsayle, thus sayd he
And then shalt thou not repent the
But tho that Salomon speake such a worde
Myne owne dere brother and my lorde
So wysely god my soule bryng to ease & rest
I holde your owne counsayle for the best.
For brother myne, take of me thys motyfe
I haue ben now a court man al my lyfe
And god wote, though I now vnworthy be
I haue standen in ful great degre
Abouen lordes in ful great estate
Yet had I neuer wyth none of hem debate
I neuer hem contraryed truely
I wote wel that my lorde can more then I
That he sayeth, I holde it ferme and stable
I say the same, or els thynge semblable
A ful great foole is any counsaylour
That serueth any lorde of hye honour
That dare presume, or ones thynke it
That his coūsaile shuld passe his lordes wy
Nay, lordes be no fooles be my fay
Ye haue your selfe spoken here to day
So hye sentence, so holy & so wel
That I consent, and conferme euery del
Page  xxxiiYour wordes al, and your opinyon
By god there nys no man in al thys town
Ne in Itayle, coude bette haue sayd
Christ holdeth hym of thys ful wel a payde
And trewly it is an hye corage
Of any man that is stopen in age
To taken a yong wyfe, by my father kyn
Your hert hongeth on a ioly pyn
Doth now in this matere right as you lest
For finally I holde it for the best.
¶Iustynus that aye satte and herde
Right in thys wyse to Placebo he answerde
Nowe brother myne be pacyēt I you pray
Sith ye haue said, now herkeneth what I say
¶Senec among other wordes wyse
Saith, that a man ought hym wel auyse
To whom he yeueth hys londe or his catel
And sythens I ought auyse me right wel
To whom I gyue my good away fro me
wel moche more I ought auysed be
To whom I gyue my body: for alway
I warne you wel it is no childes play
To take a wyfe wichout auysement
Men must enquere (this is myne assent)
whether she be sobre, wise, or dronkelwe
Or proude, or other wayes a shrewe
A chider, or a waster of thy good
Other riche or poore, or els a man is wood
Al be it so, that no man fynde shal
Non in this worlde, that trotteth hole in all
Ne man, ne beest, suche as men can deuyse
But natheles, it ought ynough suffyse
with any wyfe, yf so were that she had
Mo good thewes, than her vices badde
And al thys asketh layser to enquere
For god wotte I haue wept many a tere
Ful preuely, sythe I had a wyfe
Praise who so wol a wedded mannes lyfe
Certeyn I fynde in it but cost and care
And obseruaunces of all blysses bare
And yet god wote, my neyghbours about
And namely of women many a rout
Sayn that I haue the most stedfast wyfe
And eke the mekest one that beareth lyfe
But I wot best, where wryngeth me my sho
Ye may for me, right as you lyst do
Auyse you, ye ben a man of age
Howe that ye entren into mariage
And namely with a yonge wife and a fayre
By him that made water, erthe, and ayre
The yongest man that is in al this rout
Is besy ynowe to bringe it about
To haue his wyfe alone, trusteth me
Ye shal nat pleasen her yeres thre
This is to sayn, to don her plesaunce
A wyfe asketh ful moche obseruaunce
I praye you that ye be nat yuel apayde
wel ({quod} this Ianuary) & hast thou al sayd?
Strawe for thy Sence, & for thy prouerbes
I count it nat worth a pannyer ful of herbes
Of schole termes, wiser men than thou
As thou hast herde, assenteth it right nowe
To my purpose Placebo, what say ye?
I say it is a cursed man ({quod} he)
That letteth matrymony sekerly
And with that worde they risen sodaynly
And ben assented fully, that he shulde
Be wedded whan him list, & where he wolde
Hyghe fantasy and curiousnesse
Fro day to day, gan in the soule empresse
Of Ianuary, about hys mariage
Many fayre shappe, and many fayre visage
There passeth throug his hert night by night
Al who so toke a myrrour polysshed bright
And sette it in a comen market place
Than shulde he se many a figure pace
By his myrrour, and in the same wyse
Gan Ianuary within his thought deuyse
Of maydens, whiche that dwellen besyde
He wyst nat where he myght abyde
For yf that one had beautie in her face
Another stout so in the peoples grace
For her sadnesse and her benignyte
That of the people grettest voyce had she
And some were riche, and had badde name
But natheles bitwixt ernest and game
He at last apoynted hym on one
And lete al other from his hert gone
And chese her of his awne authorite
For loue is blynde al day, and may nat se
And whan yt he was in his bedde ybrought
He purtreyde in hys hert and in hys thought
Her freshe beaute, and her age tender
Her middle smal, her armes long and slender
Her wise gouernaunce, and her gentylnesse
Her womanly bearyng, and her sadnesse
And whā that he was on her condiscended
Him thoght his choise myght nat bē amēded
For whan that he him selfe concluded had
Him thought eche other mannes wyt so bad
That impossyble it were to reply
Ayenst his choice, this was hys fantay
¶His frendes sent he to, at his instaunce
And prayeth hem to don hym that plesaunce
Page  [unnumbered]That hastely they wolde to hym come
He wolde abrydgen her labour al and some
Nedeth nomore for hym to go ne ryde
He was appoynted there he wolde abyde
¶Placebo came, and eke hys frendes sone
And alder fyrst he bad hem al a bone
That none of hem none argumentes make
Ayenst hys purpose that he hath ytake
which purpose was pleasaūt to god (said he)
And very grounde of hys prosperite.
He said there was a mayden in the towne
whych of beauty hath great renowne
Al were it so, she were of smal degre
Suffyseth hym her youth and her beaute
whych mayde he said, he wold haue to wyfe
To leden in ease and in holynesse hys lyfe
And thanked god, yt he myght hauen her al
That no wyght hys blysse parten shal
And prayeth hem to labour in thys nede
And shapeth that he fayle not to spede
For then he sayd, hys sprete was at ease
Then is ({quod} he) nothynge maye me dysplease
Saue o thynge prycketh in my conscience
The whych I wol reherce in your presence.
¶I haue ({quod} he) herde sayd ful yore ago
There may no mā haue parfyte blysses two
Thys is to say, in earth and eke in heuen
For though he kept him fro the synnes seuen
And eke from euery braunche of thylke tre
Yet is there so parfyte prosperite
And so great ease and lust in mariage
That euer I am agast nowe in myne age
That I shal lede nowe so mery a lyfe
So delycate wythout wo or stryfe
That I shal haue myne heuen in earth here
For sythen very heuen is bought so dere
wyth tribulation and great penaunce
How shulde I then lyuyng in such pleasaūce
As al wedded men done wyth her wyues
Come to ye blisse, ther christ eterne on lyue is
Thys is my drede, and ye my brethren twey
Assoyleth me thys question I you prey.
¶Iustinus, whych that hated hys foly
Answered anon ryght in hys iapery
And for he wolde hys longe tale abrege
He wolde none authorite allege
But sayd: syr, so there be none obstacle
Other then thys, god of hys hye myracle
And of hys mercy may for you so wyrche
That er ye han your ryghtes of holy chyrche
Ye may repent of wedded mannes lyfe
In whych ye sayen is neyther wo ne stryfe
And els god forbede, but yf he sent
A wedded man grace hym to repent
wel ofter, rather then a syngle man
And therfore syr, the best rede that I can
Dyspayreth you not, but haue in memory
Parauenture she may be your purgatory
She may by goddes meane & goddes whip
Then shal your soule vp to heuen skip
Swyfter thē doth an arowe out of a bowe
I hope to god here after ye shal knowe
That ther nys none so great felicite
In mariage, ne neuer none shal be
That you shal let of your saluation
So that ye vse it as skyl is and reason
The lustes of your wyfe attemperatly
And that ye please her not to amorously
And that ye kepe you eke fro other syn
My tale is done, for my wytte is thyn
Beth not agast herof my dere brother
But let vs wade fro thys matter to another
The wyfe of Bath, yf ye vnderstande
Of mariage, whych ye haue in hande
Declareth ful wel in a lytel space
Fareth now wel, god haue you in hys grace
And wt this worde, Iustyne & his brother
Han take her leaue, and eche of hem of other
For when they sawe it must nedes be
They wrought so by wyse and slye treate
That she thys mayde whych May hyght
As hastely as euer that she myght
Shal wedded be to thys Ianuary
I trowe it were to longe to you to tary
Yf I you tolde of euery escrite and bonde
By whych she was fested in hys londe
Or for to herken of her ryche arraye
But fynally ycomen is the daye
That to chyrch both ben they went
For to receyue the holy sacrament
Forth cometh ye prest, wt stole about his neck
And badde her be lyke Sara and Rebecke
In wysedome and trouth of mariage
And sayd hys orisons, as is the vsage
And crouched hem, & bad god shuld hem bles
And made al seker ynowe wyth holynesse
Thus ben they wedded wyth solempnite
And at feest sytteth he and she
wyth other worthy folke vpon the deys
Al ful of ioye and blysse is the paleyes
And ful of instrumentes and of vytayle
The moost deyntes of al Itaile
Beforne him stode instrumētes of such sown
That Orpheus, ne of Thebes Amphion
Page  xxxiiiNe made neuer such a melody.
¶At euery cours came loude mynstralcy
That neuer Ioab tromped for to here
Neyther Theodomas yet halfe so clere
At Thebes, when the cytie was in doute
Bacchus the wyne hem skynketh al aboute
And Venus laugheth on euery wyght
For Ianuary was become her knyght
And wolde both assayen hys corage
In lybertie, and eke in mariage
And wyth her fyre bronde in her hōde about
Daunceth before the bryde and al the rout
And certaynly, I dare wel sayen ryght this
Emenius that god of weddynge is
Saw neuer in his life, so mery a wedded mā
Holde thou thy peace thou poet Marcian
That wrytest vs that ylke weddynge mery
Of her philology and hym Mercury
And of the songes that the Muses songe
To smal is both thy penne & eke thy tonge
For to dyscriuen of thys mariage
whē tēder youth hath iwedded stouping age
There is such myrth, yt it may not be written
Assayeth your selfe, then may ye wytten
Yf that I lacke or none in thys matere
May that sytte, wyth so benigne a chere
Her to beholde, it semed fayrey
Quene Hester loked neuer wyth such an eye
On Assuere, so meke a loke hath she
I may you not deuyse al her beaute
But thus moche of her beaute tel I may
That she was like ye bryght morow of May
Fullylde of al beaute, and of pleasaunce
This Ianuary is rauyshed in a traunce
And at euery tyme he loke in her face
But in hys herte, he gan her to manace
That he yt night, ī his armes wold her strein
Harder, then euer Parys dyd Heleyn
But natheles, yet had he great pyte
That ylke nyght offende her muste he
And thought, alas, O tender creature
Now wolde god ye myght wel endure
Al my corage, it is so sharpe and kene
I am agast ye shal it not sustene
But god forbede, that I dyd al my myght
Now wolde god that it were waxe nyght
And that the nyght wolde last euer mo
I wolde that al these people were ago
And fynally he doth all hys labour
As he best myght, sauynge hys honour
To hast hem fro the meat in subtel wyse
The tyme came, that reason was to ryse
And after that men dauncen, & drynke fast
And spices all about the house they cast
And ful of ioye and blysse is euery man
Al but a squyer, that hyght Damian
whych carfe before the knyght many a day
He was so rauyshed on hys lady May
That for very payne he was ny wode
Almost he swelte, and souned there he stode
So sore hath Venus hurt hym wt her brand
So freshe she was, and therto so lycande
And to hys bedde he went hym hastely
No more of hym at thys tyme speke I
But there I let hym wepe ynowe & playne
Tyl ye freshe May wol rewen on hys payne.
O perilous fyre, yt in the bedstraw bredeth
O famyler foe, that hys seruyce bedeth
O seruaunt traytour, false homely hewe
Lyke to the adder slye in bosome vntrewe
O Ianuary dronken in plesaunce
God shylde vs al from your iniquitaunce
Of mariage, se howe thys Damian
Thyne owne squyer and thy borne man
Entendeth to done the villany
God graunt the thyne homely foe to espye
For in thys worlde nys wers pestilence
Then homely foe, al daye in thy presence
Parfourmed hath the son his arke dyurne
No lenger may the body of hym soiourne
On orisont, as in that latitude
Nyght wt hys mantel, that is darke & rude
Gan for to sprede, the hemyspery about
For whych departed is the lusty rout
Fro Ianuary, wyth thanke on euery syde
Home to her houses lustely they ryde
There as they done her thynges, as am lest
And when they sawe her tyme to go to rest
Sone after thys lusty Ianuary
wol go to bedde, he wolde no lenger tary
He drynketh ypocras, clarrey, and vernag
Of spyces hote, to encrease hys corage
And many a lectuary had he full fyne
Such as the cursed monke dan Cōstantyne
Hath wrytten in hys boke of Coitu
To eaten hem al he nolde nothyng eschewe
And thus to hys preuy frendes sayd he
For goddes loue, as sone as it may be
Let voyde al this house in curteys wise sone
¶Men drinkē, and the trauers drewe anone
So hasted Ianuary, it must be done
The bryd was brought to bed as styl as ston
And whē the bed was with ye preest yblessed
Out of ye chābre hath euery wight hē dressed
Page  [unnumbered]And Ianuary hath fast in armes take
Hys freshe May, hys paradyse, hys make
He lulleth her, he kysseth her ful ofte
wyth thycke brystels of hys berde vnsofte
I lyke ye skyn of Hoūdfysh, as sharp as brere
For he was shaue al newe in hys manere
He rubbeth her vpon her tendre face
And sayd thus: Alas, I mote trespace
To you my spouse, and you greatly offende
Or tyme come, that I wol downe dyscende
But natheles, consydreth thys ({quod} he)
There nys no workman, what so euer he be
That may both wyrche wel and hastely
Thys wol be done at leyser parfytly
It is no force howe longe that we play
In trewe wedlocke coupled be we tway
And blessed be the yoke that we bene in
For in our actes we mowe do no syn
A man may do no synne wyth hys wyfe
Ne hurte hym selfe wyth hys owne knyfe
For we haue leaue to play vs by the lawe
Thus laboureth he, tyl the day gan dawe
And then he taketh a soppe in fyne clarre
And vpryght in hys bedde then sytteth he
And after that he syngeth full loude & clere
And kyst hys wyfe, and maketh wantō chere
He was al coltyshe, and ful of ragery
And ful of gergon, as is a flecked pye
The slacke skynne aboute hys necke shaketh
whyle that he songe, so chaūteth he & craketh
But god wot what May thought ī her herte
when she hym sawe, vpsyttyng in hys sherte
In hys nyght cappe, with hys necke lene
She prayseth not his playeng worth a bene
Then sayd he thus: my rest wol I take
Now daye is come, I may no lenger wake
And downe he layd his heed, & slept til prime
And afterward, when that he saw hys tyme
Vp ryseth Ianuary, but the freshe May
Holdeth her chambre to the fourth day
As vsage is of wyues for the best
For euery labour somtyme mote haue rest
Or els longe may he not endure
Thys is to say, no lyues creature
Be it fyshe or beest, brydde or man
Now wol I speake of woful Damian
That langureth for loue, as ye shal here
Therfore I speke to hym in thys manere.
¶I say, O sely Damian, alas
Answere to thys demaunde, as in thys caas
Howe that thou to thy lady freshe May
Tel thy wo? she wol alwaye saye nay
Eke yf thou speke, she wol thy wo bewray
God be thyn helpe, I can no better say
Thys sycke Damian in Venus fyre
So brenneth, that he dyeth for desyre
For whych he put hys lyfe in auenture
No lenger myght he in thys wyse endure
But priuely a penner gan he borowe
And in a lettre wrote he al hys sorowe
In maner of a complaynt or a lay
Vnto thys fayre and freshe lady May
And in a purse of sylke, hōgyng on hys shert
He hath it put, and layde it at hys hert
¶The mone at noone tyde that ylke day
(That Ianuary hath ywedded freshe May)
Out of Taure was in the Cancre gleden
So longe hath May in her chambre bydden
As custome is, vnto these nobles al
A bryde shal not eaten in the hal
Tyl dayes foure, or thre at the leest
I passed bene, then let her gon to feest
¶The fourth day cōplete fro noon to noone
when that the hye masse was ydone
In hal sat thys Ianuary and May
As freshe as is thys bryght somers day
And so befyl, how that thys good man
Remembreth hym vpon thys Damian
And sayd: saynt Mary how may thys be
That Damian entendeth not to me?
Is he aye sycke: or how may thys betyde?
Hys squyers which that stodē hym besyde
Excused hym, bycause of hys sycknesse
whych letted hym to done hys besynesse
None other cause myght make hym tary
That me forthynketh ({quod} this Ianuary)
He is a gentle squyer be my trouthe
If that he dyed, it were harme and routhe
He is as wyse, dyscrete, and secre
As any man that I wote of hys degre
And therto manly and seruysable
And for to be a thryfty man ryght able
But after meate, as sone as euer I may
I wol my selfe vysete hym, and eke May
To done hym al the comforte that I can
And for that worde, hym blessed euery man
That of hys bounte and of hys gentylnesse
He wolde so comforten in hys dystresse
Hys squyer, for it was a gentle dede
Dame ({quod} thys Ianuary) take good hede
That after meate, ye and your wemen al
(when ye haue ben in chābre out of this hal)
That al ye gone to se thys Damian
Doth hym dysporte, he is a gentyl man
Page  xxxiiiiAnd telleth hym that I wol hym visite
Haue I nothyng but rested me a lyte
And spede you fast, for I wol abyde
Tyl that ye slepe fast by my syde
And with that worde he gan to hym cal
A squyer, that was Marshal of hys hal
And tolde him certayn thynge that he wolde
This fresh May hath streight her way ihold
with al her women, vnto this Damyan
Downe by hys beddes syde sat she then
Confortyng hym as goodly as she may
This Damyan, whā that he his tyme say
In secrete wyse, hys purse and eke hys byl
(In whiche he had written al hys wyl)
Hath put in to her honde withouten more
Saue that he syghed wonders depe and sore
And sothly, to her ryght thus sayd he
Merry, and that ye discouer nat me
For I am deed, yf that this thyng be kydde
This purse hath she in her bosome hydde
And went her way, ye gete no more of me
But vnto Ianuary icome is she
And on hys beddes syde she sytte ful softe
He taketh her, and kysseth her ful ofte
And layde hym downe to slepe, & that anon
She fayned her, as that she must gon
There as ye wote, yt euery wight hath nede
And whan she of this byl hath taken hede
She rent it al to cloutes, and at last
In to the preuy, sothly she it cast.
who studieth nowe but faire fresshe May?
And adown by Ianuary she lay
That slepte, tyl the cough hath hym awaked
Anon he prayde her to stripe her al naked
He wolde of her (he said) haue some pleasaūce
He said her clothes dyd hym encombraunce
And she obeyeth be she lese or lothe
But lest that precious folke be wt me wrothe
Howe that he wrought, I dare nat to you tel
Or whether she thought it paradise or hel
But I lette hem worche in her wyse
Tyl euynsong ryng, that they must aryse
Were it by desteny or by auenture
were it by influence, or by nature
Or constellation that in suche estate
The heuen stode, that tyme fortunate
(Was for to put a byl of Venus warkes)
For al thyng hath tyme, as sayn clerkes
To any woman for to gete her loue
I can nat say, but the great god aboue
That knoweth, that non acte is causeles
He demeth al, for I wol holde my pees.
But sothe is this, howe yt this freshe May
Hath take suche impressyon that day
Of pyte, on thys sicke Damyan
That fro her hert she dryue ne can
The remembraunce for to downe hym ease
Certayn (thought she) whom thys thyng dis∣please
I recke not, for this I hym assure
I loue hym best of any creature
Though he no more had than hys shert.
Lo pyte renneth soone in gentyl hert
Here may ye se, howe excelent franchise
In women is, whan they hem narow auyse
Some tyrant is, as there ben many one
That hath an hert as harde as any stone
Which wolde haue lete him sterue in ye place
wel rather thā haue graunted hym her grace
And her reioysed in her cruel pride
And nat haue retched to been an homycide.
Thys gentyl may, fulfylled of al pyte
Right so of her honde a lettre made she
In whiche she graunteth him her very grace
There lacketh nought, but only tyme & place
where that she might to hys lust suffyse
For it shal be, right as he wol deuyse
And whan she sawe her tyme vpon a day
To visite this Damyā goth thys faire May
And subtelly this lettre down she thryst
Vnder hys pyllowe, rede it yf hym lyst
She taketh him by ye hond, & herd him twist
So secretely, that no wight of it wyst
And badde hym ben al hole, & forth she went
To Ianuary, whan that he for her sent.
Vp ryseth Damyan the next morowe
Al passed was hys sickenesse and hys sorowe
He kembeth hym and proyeth hym a piketh
And dothe all that hys lady lust and lyketh
And eke to Ianuary he gothe as lowe
As euer dyd a dogge for the bowe
He is so plesaunt to euery man
For crafte is al, who that it can
That euery wight is fayn to spekē him gode
And fully in hys ladyes grace he stode
Thus lette I Damyan about his nede
And in my tale, forthe I wol procede.
¶Some clerkes holden that felycite
Stont in delyte, and therfore certayn he
Thys noble Ianuary with al hys might
In honest wyse, as longeth to a knyght
Shope hym to lyue ful delyciously
Hys housyng, hys array, as honestly
To hys degre, was made as a kynges
Among other of hys honest thynges
Page  [unnumbered]He had a garden walled al with stone
So faire a garden was there neuer none
For out of dout, I verily suppose
That he that wrote the Romant of the Rose
Ne couth of it the beaute wel deuyse
Ne Priapus, ne myght nat suffyse
Though he be god of gardens, for to tell
The beaute of the garden, and of the wel
That stont vnder a laurer alway grene
Ful ofte tyme kyng Pluto and hys quene
Proserpina, and al her fayrie
Disporten hem, and maken melodye
About that wel, and daunced as men tolde
This noble knight, this Ianuary the olde
Suche deynte hath, in it to walke and play
That he wol suffre no wight to bere the kay
Saue he hym selfe, for the smal wicket
He bare alway of syluer a clycket
with which, whan that hym lyst vnshet
And whan that he wolde pay hys wyfe her det
In somer season, thider wolde he go
And May his wife, & no wight but they two
And thinges whiche yt were nat don a bedde
He in the garden parfourmed hem & spedde
And in thys wyse, many a mery day
Lyued this Ianuary and thys freshe May
But worldly ioye may nat alway endure
To Ianuary, ne to no lyueng creature.
¶O sodayne hap, O thou fortune vnstable
Lyke to the Scorpion disceyuable
That slatrest wt thy heed whā yu wolt stynge
Thy tayle is deth, thrugh thyn enuenomyng
O brotel ioye, O swete poyson queynt
O monster, that so sodaynly canst peynt
Thy gyftes, vnder the hewe of stedfastnesse
That thou discryuest bothe more and lesse
why hast thou Ianuary thus desceyued?
And haddest hym for thy frende receyued
And now thou hast beraft hym both his eyen
For sorowe of whiche desyreth he to dyen
Alas, this noble Ianuary that is so fre
Amydde his lust and his prosperite
Is woren blynde, and al sodaynly
His dethe therfore desyreth he vtterly
And therwithal, the fyre of ielousy
(Lest that his wyfe shulde fal in some foly)
So brent hys hert, that he wolde fayne
That some man, bothe hym & her had slayne
For neuer after hys dethe, ne in hys lyfe
Ne wolde he that she were loue ne wyfe
But euer lyue a wedowe in clothes blake
Sole, as the turtle doth yt hath lost her make
But at the last, after a mouth or tway
His sorowe gan to swage, sothe to say
For whan he wyst it might non other be
He paciently toke hys aduersyte
Saue out of dout may he nat for gone
That he nas ielous euer more in one
whiche ielousy, it was so outragious
That neyther in hal ne in non other hous
Ne in non other place neuer mo
He nolde suffre her, neyther ryde ne go
But if that he had honde on her alway
For whiche ful often wepeth freshe May
That loueth Damyan so benignely
That she mote eyther dye sodaynly
Or els she mote haue hym at her lest
She wayteth whan her hert shulde to brest
Vpon that other syde Damyan
Become is, the sorowfullest man
That euer was, for neyther night ne day
Ne myght he speke a worde to freshe May
As to his purpose of no suche matere
But yf that Ianuary must it here
That had an honde vpon her euer mo
But natheles, by writyng to and fro
And preuy sygnes, wist he what she ment
And she knewe al the sygnes of hys entent.
¶O Ianuary, what myght the it auayle?
Tho thou mightest se, as fer as shippes sayle
For as good is a blynde man disceyued be
As to be disceyued, whan that a man may se.
Lo Argus, which had an hundred eyen
For all that euer he couthe pore and prien
Yet was he blent, and god wotte so ben mo
That wenen wisely that it is nat so
Passe ouer is an ease, I say no more
This fresh May, of which I spake of yore
In warme waxe hath printed this clycket
That Ianuary bare of that small wicket
By whiche vnto hys garden ofte he went
And Damyan that knewe her entent
The clycket counterfayted priuely
There nys no more to say, but hastely
Some wonder by this clycket shal betyde
whiche ye shul heren, yf ye wol abyde.
¶O noble Ouide, soth sayest thou god wote
what sleight is it, though it be long and hote
That he nyl fynde it out in some manere
By Pyrramus and Thisbe, maye men lere
Though they were kept ful lōg streyt ouer al
They ben accorded, rownyng through a wal
Ther nis no wight couth fynde such a sleight
But nowe to purpose, er yt dayes eyght
Page  xxxvWere passed, er the moneth of Iule befyll
That Ianuary hath caught so great a wyl
Through egging of his wife, him for to play
In his garden, & no wight but they tway
That in a morowe, vnto this May sayd he
Ryse vp my wife, my loue, my lady free
The turtel voyce is herde my lady swete
The wynter is gon, with al his raynes wete
Come forth now with thyn eyen columbyne
Nowe fayrer ben thy brestes than is wyne
The garden is enclosed al about
Come forth my white spouse out of dout
Thou hast me wounded in my hert, o, wyfe
No spotte in the nas in al thy lyfe
Come forth and lette vs taken our disport
I chese the for my wyfe and my confort
Suche olde leude wordes vsed he
On Damyan a sygne made she
That he shulde go before with hys clicket
This Damyan hath opened this wicket
And in he stert, and that in suche manere
That no wight might it se ne here
And styl he sate vnder a busshe anon.
This Ianuary, as blynde as is a ston
with May in hys honde, and no wight mo
In to hys freshe garden is he go
And clapte to the wicket sodainly.
Nowe wyfe ({quod} he) here nys but thou & I
That arte the creature that I best loue
For by that lorde that sytte vs al aboue
I had leuer dyen on a knyfe
Than the offende, dere trewe wyfe
For goddes sake thynke howe I the chees
Nat for couetise, ne other good doutlees
But onely for the loue I had to the
And though that I be olde and may nat se
Be to me trewe, and I woll tel you why
Certes, thre thynges shal ye wyn therby
First loue of Christ, & to your selfe honour
And al myn heritage, town and toure
I gyue it you, maketh charters as ye lyst
Thys shal be don to morowe er sonne ryst
So wisely god my soule bring to blysse
I pray you on couenaunt that ye me kysse
And though yt I be ielous wite me nought
Ye ben so depe enprented in my thought
That whan I consyder your beaute
And therwithal, the vnlikly elde of me
I may nat certes, though I shulde dye
Forbere, to ben out of your company
For very loue, this is withouten dout
Now kysse me wife, and lette vs rome about
This fresh May, whā she these wordes herd
Benygnely to Ianuary answerde
But fyrst and forwarde she began to wepe
I haue ({quod} she) a soule for to kepe
As wel as ye, and also myn honour
And of wyfehode thilke tender flour
whiche that I haue ensured in your honde
whan that the preest to you my body bonde
wherfore I wol answere in this manere
By the leaue of you my lorde so dere
I pray god that neuer dawe that day
That I ne sterue, as foule as woman may
Yf euer I do to my kynne that shame
Or els that I empayre so my name
That I be false, and yf I do that lacke
Do stripe me, and putte me in a sacke
And in the next ryuer do me drenche
I am a gentyl woman, and no wenche
why speke ye thus, but men ben euer vntrew
And women haue reprofe of you, aye newe
Ye can non other cōmunyng, I leue
But speke to vs of vntrust and repreue
And with ye word she sawe where Damiā
Sate in the bushe, and knele he began
And with her fynger sygnes made she
That Damyan shulde clymbe vp on a tre
That charged was with frute, & vp he went
For verily he knewe al her entent
And euery sygne that she couth make
welbet than Ianuary her owne make
For in a letter she had tolde him al
Of this mater, howe that he worch shal
And thus I lete hym sytte in the pery
And Ianuary and May romyng ful mery.
¶Bright was the day, & blewe ye fyrmament
Phebus of golde doun hath his stremes sent
To gladen euery flour with hys warmnesse
He was that tyme in Geminy, as I gesse
But lytel fro hys declynation
The causer of Iouis exaltation
And so byfel that bright morowe tyde
That in the garden, on the farther syde
Pluto, that is the kyng of Fayrye
And many a lady in hys company
Folowyng his wyfe, the quene Proserpyne
Eche after other ryght as a lyne
whiles she gadred floures in a mede
In Claudian ye may the story rede
Howe in his grisely carte he her fette
This kyng of Fayry doun hym sette
Vpon a benche of turues freshe and grene
And right anon thus sayd he to hys quene
Page  [unnumbered]My wyfe ({quod} he) that may nat say nay
The experience so proueth it euery day
The treason, which that women doth to mā
Tenne hundred thousande tel I can
Notable, of your vntrouth and brotelnesse
O Salomon, richest of al richesse
Fulfylde of sapience, and of worldly glory
Ful worthy ben thy wordes in memory
To euery wight, that witte and reason can
Thus prayseth he the bounte of man
Among a thousande men yet fonde I one
But of al women fonde I neuer none
Thus saith ye kyng, yt knoweth your wicked∣nesse
And Iesus filius Sirach, as I gesse
Ne speketh of you but selde reuerence
A wylde fyre, a corrupte pestilence
So fal vpon your bodies yet to nyght
Ne se ye nat thys honorable knyght?
Bicause (alas) that he is blynde and olde
His owne man shal maken him cokolde
Lo where he sytte, the lechour in the tre
Nowe wol I graunt of my maieste
Vnto this olde blynde worthy knyght
That he shal haue agayn hys eye syght
whan that hys wyfe wolde don him villany
Than shal he knowe al her harlotry
Bothe in represe of her and other mo.
Yea shal ({quod} Proserpyne) and wol ye so?
Nowe be my mothers soule syr I swere
That I shal yeuen her sufficient answere
And al women after her sake
That though they ben in any gylte itake
with face bolde, they shullen hem selue excuse
And bere hym doun, that wolde hem accuse
For lacke of answere, non of hem shul dyen
Al had he sey a thyng with bothe hys eyen
Yet shulde we women so visage it hardely
And wepe and swere, and chide subtelly
That ye shal ben as leude as gees
What recketh me of your auctoritees?
I wotte wel this iewe, this Salomon
Founde of vs women foles many one
But though he ne fonde no good woman
Yet there hath ifonde many an other man
women ful trewe, ful good, & ful vertuous
witnesse of hem that dwel in Christes hous
with martyrdom, they preued her constaunce
The Romain iestes eke make remembraūce
Of many a very trewe wyfe also
But syr, be nat wrothe that it be so
Though that he said he fond no good womā
I pray you take the sentence of the man
He ment thus, that in souerayn bounte
Nys non but god, that sytteth in trynyte.
Eye, for very god that nys but one
what make ye so moche of Salomon?
what though he made a temple goddes hous
what though he were riche and glorious?
So made he a temple of false goddis
How might he don a thing ye more forbode is
Parde as faire as ye hys name enplaster
He was a lechour, and an idolaster
And in his elde, very god forsoke
And yf that god nadde (as saith the boke)
Yspared hym for hys fathers sake, he shulde
Haue lost his reygne soner than he wolde
I sette nat of al the villany
That ye of women write, a butterflye
I am a woman, nedes moe I speke
Or els swel, tyll myn hert breke
For sythen he sayd, that we ben iangleresses
As euer more I hole broke my tresses
I shal nat spare for no curtesy
To speke hem harme, that wold vs villany
Dame ({quod} this Pluto) be no lenger wroth
I gyue it vp: but sythe I swore myn othe
That I wolde graunt hym hys syght ayen
My worde shal stande, yt warn I you certeyn
I am a kyng, it sytte me nat to lye.
And I ({quod} she) a quene of Fayrie
Her answere she shal haue I vndertake
Lette vs no mo wordes herof make
Forsoth I wol no lenger you contrary.
Nowe lette vs turne agayn to Ianuary
That in the garden with this faire May
Syngeth merier than the popyngay
You loue I best, and shal, and other non
So long about the aleyes is he gon
Tyl he was comen ayenst thylke pery
where as this Damyan sytteth ful mery
On hye, among these freshe leues grene.
This freshe Maye, that is so bright & shene
Gan for to sike, and sayd: alas my syde
Nowe syr ({quod} she) for ought that may be tyde
I must haue of these peeres that I here se
Or I more dye, so sore longeth me
To eten of the smal peeres grene
Helpe for her loue that is heuyn quene
I tel you wel a woman in my plyte
May haue to frute so great an appetyte
That she may dyen, but she it haue
Alas ({quod} he) that I ne had here a knaue
That couth clymbe, alas, alas ({quod} he)
For I am blynde, ye syr no force ({quod} she)
Page  xxxviBut wolde ye vouchsafe for goddes sake
The pety in your armes for to take
For wel I wotte that ye mystrust me
Than shulde I clymbe wel ynough ({quod} she)
So I may fote myght sette vpon your backe
Forsoth sayd he, in me shal be no lacke
Might I you helpe with myne hert blode
He stoupeth doun, & on hys backe she stode
And caught her by a twist, and vp she goth
Ladyes I praye you be nat wroth
I can nat glose, I am a rude man
And sodaynly anon this Damyan
Gan pullen vp the smocke, and in he thronge
A great tent, a thrifty and a longe
She sayd it was the meryest fytte
That euer in her lyfe she was at yet
My lordes tent serueth me nothyng thus
It foldeth twifolde by swete Iesus
He may nat swyue worth a leke
And yet he is ful gentyl and ful meke
This is leuer to me than an euynsong
And whan that Pluto sawe thys wronge
To Ianuary he gaue agayn his syght
And made hym se aswel as euer he myght
And whan he had caught his syght agayn
Ne was there neuer man of thyng so fayn
But on his wyfe his thought was euer mo
Vp to the tree he cast his eyen two
And saw how Damian his wife had dressed
In suche manere, it may nat be expressed
But yf I wolde speke vncurtesly
And vp he ya a roryng and a crye
As dothe the mother whan the child shal dye
Out helpe, alas (harowe) he gan to crye
For sorowe almost he gan to dye
That his wife was swyued in the pery
O stronge lady hore what dost thou?
¶And she answered: syr what ayleth you?
Haue pacience and reason in your mynde
I haue you holpen of both your eyen blynde
Vp peryl of my soule, I shal nat lyen
As me was taught to helpe with your eyen
was nothyng bette for to make you se
Than strogle with a man vpon a tree
God wote I dyd it in ful good entent
¶Strogle ({quod} he) yea algate in it went
Styffe and rounde as any bel
It is no wonder though thy bely swel
The smocke on hys brest lay so theche
And euer me though he poynted on ye breche
God gyue you bothe on shames deth to dyen
He swyued the, I sawe it with myne eyen
And els I be honged by the halse
Than is ({quod} she) my medicyn false
For certayn, yf that ye myght se
Ye wolde nat say theke wordes to me
Ye haue some glymsyng, and no parfite sight
I se ({quod} he) as wel as euer I might
Thanked be god, with bothe myne eyen two
And by my trouth me thought he dyd so
Ye mase ye mase, good syr ({quod} she)
This thanke haue I for that I made you se
Alas ({quod} she) that euer I was so kynde
Now dame ({quod} he) let al passe out of minde
Come down my lefe, and if I haue missayde
God helpe me so, as I am yuel apayde
But by my fathers soule, I wende haue seyn
Howe that this Damyan had by the leyn
And that thy smocke had lyen vpon his brest
Ye syr ({quod} she) ye may wene as ye lest
But syr, a man that waketh out of hys slepe
He may nat sodaynly wel taken kepe
Vpon a thyng, ne se it parfitely
Tyl that he be adawed verily
Right so a man that longe hath blynde be
Ne may nat sodaynly so wel yse
First whan the sight is newe comen agayn
As he that hath a daye or two ysayn
Tyl that your sight istabled be a while
There may ful many a sight you begyle
Beware I pray you, for by heuen kyng
Ful many a man weneth to se a thyng
And it is al another than it semeth
He that mysconceyueth ofte mysdemeth
And with that worde she lepe doun fro ye tre
This Ianuary, who is gladde but he?
He kysseth her, he clyppeth her ful ofte
And on her wombe he stroketh her ful softe.
And to hys paleys home he hath her ladde
Nowe good men I pray you, beth ye al glad
Thus endeth here my tale of Ianuary
God blesse vs al, and hys mother Mary.

¶Thus endeth the Marchauntes tale, and here foloweth the wife of Bathes pro∣logue. Page  [unnumbered]
[illustration]

EXperience, though none autho∣rite
Were in this worlde, is ryght ynowe for me
To speake of wo that is in ma∣riage
For lordinges, sith I twelue yere was of age
Thonked be god, that is eterne on lyue
Husbondes at chirche dore haue I had fyue
If I so ofte myght haue wedded be
And al were worthy men in her degre.
But me was tolde not longe ago twys
That sythen Christ went neuer but onys
To weddyng, in the caue of Galilee
That by thylke ensample taught he me
That I ne shulde wedded be, but ones.
¶Lo here, which a sharpe word for ye nones
Besyde a wel, Iesu god and man
Spake in repefe of the Samaritan
Thou hast had fyue husbandes ({quod} he)
And that ilke man that now hath the
Is not thyne husbonde: thus sayd he certayn
what he ment therby I can not sayn
But that I aske, why the fyfte man
was n•• husbonde to the Samaritan
Howe many myght she haue in mariage?
Yet herde I neuer tellen in myne age
Vpon this nombre trewe diffynition
Men may deuyne, and glosen vp and doun
But wel I wotte expresse without lye
God badde vs for to wexe and multiply
That gentyl text can I wel vnderstonde
Eke wel I wotte (he said) myne husbonde
Shuld leaue father & mother, and take to me
But of nombre no mention made he
Of bigamye or of octogamye
Why shul men speke of it villany?
Lo he the wyse kyng Salomon
I trowe had wyues mo than one
As wolde god it leful were to me
To be refreshed halfe so ofte as he
which a gifte of god had he, for al hys wyuis
No man hath such, yt in this worlde a lyue is
God wotte this noble kynge, as to my wytte
The fyrst nyght had many a mery fytte
with eche of hem, so wel was hym & lyue
Blessed be god, I haue had fyue
welcome the syxte whan euer he shal
For sothe I wol not kepe me chaste in al
whan myne husbonde is fro the world ygon
Some crysten man shal wedde me anon
For than the apostel saythe, that I am fre
To wedde a godde shalbe, where it lyketh me
He saythe, that to be wedded is no synne
Better is to be wedded then to brynne
What recketh me though folke say villany
Of shrewde Lameth, and of hys bigamy
¶I wotte wel Abraham was an holy man
And Iacob eke, as fer as euer I here can
And eche of hem had wyues mo than two
And many another holy man also
Where can ye say in any maner age
Page  xxxviiThat euer god defended mariage
By expresse wordes? I pray you tel me
Or where cōmaunded he virginyte?
I wotte as wel as ye, it is no drede
The Apostel, whan he spake of maydenhede
He sayd, therof precept had he none
Men may counsayle a woman to be one
But counsaylyng is no cōmaundement
He put it in our owne iugement
For had god cōmaunded maydenheoe
Thā had he dampned weddyng out of drede
And certes, yf there were no sede ysowe
Virginite than wherof shulde it growe?
Poule durst not comaunde at the leste
I thing, of which his maister yafe none heste
The darte is set vp for virgynite
Catche who so may, who renneth beste let se.
But thys worde is not take of euery wight
But there as god lyst yeue it of his might
I wotte wel that the apostel was a mayde
But nathelesse, though that he wrote & sayde
He wolde that euery wight were suche as he
Al nys but counsayle to virginite
And for to ben a wyfe he yaue me leue
Of indulgence, so it be not to repreue
To wedde me, yf that my make dye
without exception of bygamye
Al were it good no woman for to touche
He ment as in hys bedde or in hys couche
For peryl is, bothe fyre and towe to assemble
Ye knowe what this ensample may resemble
This is al and some, he helde virginite
More parfyte than weddyng in freelte.
¶Freelte clepe I, but yf that he and she
wolde lede her lyfe al in chastyte
I graunt it wel, I haue none enuye
Though maydenhede preferre bygamye
It lyketh hem to be clene in body and goste
Of myne estate I wol make no boste
For wel ye know, a lorde in his housholde
Hath nat euery vessel al of golde
Some ben of tree, and don her lorde seruyce
God clepeth folke to hym in sondry wyse
And eueriche hath of god a proper gifte
Some this, some that, as hym lyketh shifte
Virginyte is great perfection
And contynence eke with deuocion
But Christ, that of perfection is wel
Badde nat euery wight he shulde go sel
Al that he had, and gyue it to the poore
And in suche wise folowe hym and his lore
He spake to hem, that wolde lyue parfitly
And lordinges (by your leaue) that am nat I
I wol bestowe the floure of al myne age
In the actes and frute of mariage
Tel me also, to what conclusyon
were membres made of generation?
And of so parfite wise a wight iwrought
Trusteth wel, they were nat made for nouʒt
Glose who so wol, and saye vp and doun
That they were made for purgatioun
Of vryne, and other thynges smale
And eke to knowe a female from a male
And for non other cause, what say ye no?
The experience wotte wele it is nat so
So that the clerkes be nat with me wroth
I saye that they were maked for bothe
This is to sayn, for offyce and for ease
Of engendrure, there we nat god displease
why shulde men els in her bokes sette
That man shulde yelde to hys wyfe her dette
Now wherwith shuld he pay his paymēt?
It he ne vsed his sely instrument
Than were they made vpon a creature
To purge vryn, and eke for engendrure
But I say nat, that euery wight is holde
That hath suche harnesse, as I to you tolde
To gon and vsen hem in engendrure
Than shulde men take of chastite no cure
Christ was a mayde, and shapen as a man
And many a saynt, sythen the worlde began
Yet lyued they euer in parfyte chastite
I nyl enuy no virginyte
Lette hē with bredde of pure whete be fedde
And lette vs wyues eate barly bredde
And yet with barly bred, Marke tel can
Our lorde Iesu refreshed many a man
In suche a state as god hath cleped vs
I wol perseuer, I nam nat precious
In wifehode wol I vse myn instrument
As frely as my maker hath it sent
If I be daungerous, god gyue me sorowe
My husbōd shal it haue both euyn & morow
whan that him lyst come forth & pay his det
An husbande wol I haue I wol nat let
whiche shal be bothe my dettour & my thral
And haue his tribulation with al
Vpon his fleshe, while that I am hys wyfe
I haue the power duryng al my lyfe
Vpon his proper body, and nat he
Right thus the apostle tolde to me
And badde our husbondes for to loue vs wel
Al this sentence me lyketh euery del.
¶Vp stert the Pardoner, and that anon
Page  [unnumbered]Nowe dame {quod} he, by god & by saynt Iohn
Ye ben a noble prechour in thys caas
I was about to wedde a wyfe, alas
what, shulde I bye it on my fleshe so dere?
Yet had I leuer wedde no wyfe to yere
Abyde {quod} she, my tale is not begon
Nay, thou shalt drynke of another ton
Er that I go, shal sauer worse then ale
And when that I haue tolde forth my tale
Of tribulation that is in mariage
Of whych I am expert in al myne age
Thys is to say, my selfe haue ben the whyp
Then mayst thu chese whyther yu wylt syp
Of thylke tonne, that I shal set abroche
Beware of it, er thou to nere aproche
For I shal tel ensamples mo then ten
who so wol not beware by other men
By hym shal other men corrected be
These same wordes wryteth Ptholome
Rede in hys almagest, and take it there.
Dame I wol pray you, yf your wyll were
Sayd thys pardoner, as ye began
Tel forth your tale, spareth for no man
And teache vs yonge men of your practycke
Gladly ({quod} she) yf it may you lyke
But that I praye to al thys company
Yf that I speake after my fantasy
As taketh not agrefe of that I say
For myne entent is not but to play
Now syrs, then shal I tel forth my tale?
As euer mote I drynke wyne or ale
I shal say soth, tho husbondes that I had
Thre of hem were good, and two were bad
The thre good men were ryche and olde
Vnnethes myght they the statute holde
In whych they were bounden vnto me
Ye wote wel what I meane of thys parde
As god me helpe, I laugh when I thynke
Now pirously a night I made hem to swinke
But by my faye, I tolde of it no store
They had me yeue her londe and her tresore
Me neded no lenger to do diligence
To wynne her loue, and hem reuerence
They loued me so wel by god aboue
That I ne tolde no deynte of her loue
A wyse woman wol besy her euer in one
To gete her loue, ther as she hath none
But sythen I had hem holly in my honde
And that they had gyue me al her londe
what, shulde I take kepe hem for to please?
But yf it were for my profyte and myn ease
I sette hem so a worke by my faye
That many a nyght they songen wel away
The bacon was not fet for hem I trowe
That some men haue in Essex at Dōmowe
I gouerned hem so wel after my lawe
That eche of hem ful blysful was & fawe
To brynge me gaye thynges fro the fayre
They were ful fayne whē I spake hem fayre
For god it wote, I chydde hem spytously
Nowe herkeneth howe I bere me properly.
Ye wyse wyues that can vnderstande
Thus shul ye speake, and bere hem on hande
For halfe so boldly there can no man
Swere and lye, as a woman can
I saye not thys by wyues that ben wyse
But yf it be, when they hem mysse auyse
A wyse wyfe shal, yf that she can her gode
Bere hem in honde the cowe is wode
And take wytnesse of her owne mayde
Of her assent: but herkeneth howe I sayde.
¶Syr olde steynarde, is thys thyn array
why is my neyghbours wyfe so gay?
She is honoured ouer al where she goth
I sytte at home, and haue no thryfty cloth
what dost thou at my neyghbours hous?
Is she so fayre art thou so amorous?
what rownest thou wt our mayd benedicite
Syr olde lechour, let thy iapes be
And yf I haue a gossyp or a frende
(wythout gylt) thou chydest as a fende
Yf that I walke or play vnto hys house
Thou comest home as dronkē as a mouse
And prechest on thy benche wyth euel prefe
Thou sayest to me, it is a great myschefe
To wedde a poore woman for costage
And yf that she be rych of hygh parage
Then sayst thou, it is a very tourmentry
To suffre her pryde and her melancoly
And yf that she be fayre, thou very knaue
Thou sayest that euery holour wol her haue
She may no whyle in chastite abyde
That is assayled on euery syde
Thou sayst some folke desyrē vs for rychesse
Some for our shape, & some for our fairnesse
And some, for she can eyther synge or daunce
And some for gentylnesse or for daliaunce
Some for her handes and her armes smale
Thus goeth al to the deuel by thy tale
Thou sayst mē may not kepe a castel wall
It may so longe assayled be ouer all
And yf that she be foule, thou sayest that she
Coueteth euery man that she may se
For as a spaneyl, she wol on hem lepe
Page  xxxviiiTyll yt she fynde some man yt wold her chepe
Ne none so gray gese goth there in the lake
(As sayst thou) wol ben wythout her make
And sayst, it is a harde thynge for to welde
A wyght, that no man wol his thanke helde
Thus sayst thou lorel, when yu gost to bed
That no wyseman nedeth for to wedde
Ne no man that entendeth vnto heuen
wyth wylde thunder dent and fyre leuen
Mote thy wycked necke be to broke.
Thou sayst, droppyng houses, & eke smoke
And chydyng wyues, maken men to flee
Out of her owne house, ah, benedicite
what ayleth such an olde man for to chyde?
Thou sayst, we wyues wol our vyces hyde
Tyl we be fast, and then we wol hem shewe
wel may thys be a prouerbe of a shrewe.
Thou sayst, yt oxen, horse, asses, & houndes
They ben assayde at dyuers stoundes
Basyns, lauers, er that men hem bye
Spones, stoles, and al suche husbondrye
And so be pottes, clothes, and arrayes
But folke of wyues maken none assayes
Tyl they ben wedded, olde dottarde shrewe
And sayst, how we wol thē our vyces shewe
Thou sayest also, that it dyspleaseth me
But yf that thou wylt prayse my beaute
And but thou pore alwaye on my face
And clepe me fayre dame in euery place
And but thou make a feest on that yske day
That I was borne, & make me freshe & gay
And but thou done to my norice honour
And to my chamberer wythin my bour
And to my fathers folke, and hys alyes
Thus sayest thou olde barel ful of lyes
And yet of our prentyse Ienkyn
For hys cryspe heer, shynyng as golde fyne
And for he squyreth me both vp and down
Hast thou caught a false suspectioun
I wol hym not, tho yu were deed to morowe.
But tel me this, why hidest thou wt sorowe
The keyes of thy chest away fro me?
It is my good as wel as thyne parde
what, wenest yu make an ydiot of our dame
Nowe by ye lorde, yt called is saynt Iame
Thou shalt not both though yu were wode
Be mayster of my body and of my good
That one yu shalt forgon maugre thyne eyen
what helpeth it of me to enquere and spyen?
I trowe thou woldest locke me in thy chyst?
Thou shuldest saye: wyfe, go where you lyst
Take your dysporte, I wol leue no tales
I knowe you for a trewe wyfe dame Ales
we loue no man, that taketh kept or charge
where that we go, we wol be at our large
¶Of al men yblessed mote he be
The wyse astrologien dan Ptholome
That sayth thys prouerbe in his almagest
Of al men hys wysedome is the best
That recketh not who hath ye world in hāde
By thys prouerbe thou shalt vnderstande
Haue thou ynowe, what dare ye recke or care
Howe merely that other folke fare
For certes, olde dottarde by your leue
Ye shal haue queynte ynowe at eue
He is to great a nygarde that wol werne
A man, to lyght a candel at hys lanterne
He shal haue neuer the lasse lyght parde
Haue thou ynowe, thou darst not playne the
Thou sayst also, that yf we make vs gaye
wyth clothes, or wyth precious arraye
That it is peryl of our chastite
And yet with sorow, thou must enforsen the
And saye these wordes in the apostels name
In habyte made with chastite & shame
Ye women shulde appareyle you ({quod} he)
And not in tressed heir, and gaye perre
As perle, ne wyth golde, ne clothes ryche
After the texte, ne after thy rubryche
I nyl not worche as moche as a gnatte.
¶Thou sayest also, I was lyke a catte
But who so wolde senge the cattes skynne
Then wolde the catte dwellen in hys ynne
And yf the cattes skyn be slicke and gaye
She nyl not dwel in house halfe a daye
But forth she wol or any daye be dawed
To shewe her skyn, and gon a carrewaued.
¶Thus thou sayest, yf I be gay syr shrewe
I wol ren out, my borel for to shewe
Syr olde foole, what helpeth the to spyen
For though thou play Argus wt hys. C. eyen
To be my wardcors, as he can best
In fayth he shal not kepe me but me lest
Yet couth I make hys berde, so mote I the
¶Thou sayest eke, yt there ben thynges thre
The whyche troublen al thys erth
And that no wyght may endure the ferth
O, lefe syr shrewe, Iesu shorte thy lyfe
Yet prechest thou, & sayest: an hateful wyfe
I rekened is, for one of these myschaunces
Ben there none other resemblaunces?
That ye maye lyken your parable to
But yf a sely wyfe be one of tho.
Thou lykenest eke, womens loue to hell
Page  [unnumbered]To barayn londe, there water may nat dwel
Thou lykenest it also to wylde fyre
The more it brenneth, the more it hath desyre
To consume any thyng that brent wolde be.
Thou saiest, right as wormes shendē a tre
Right so a wyfe distroyeth her husbonde
This knowen they that ben to wyues bonde
¶Lordīges, right thus as ye haue vnderstōd
Bare I stiffely myn olde husbande on honde
That thus they sayden in her dronknesse
And al was false, but as I toke witnesse
Of Ienkyn, and of my nece also
O lorde the payne I dyd hem, and the wo
Ful gyltles by goddes swete pyne
For as an horse, I couth both byte & whyne
I couth playn, though I were in the gylte
Or els often tyme I had ben spylte
who so fyrst to myl cometh, fyrst grynt
I playned fyrst, and so was our warre islynt
They were ful glad to excusen hem blyue
Of thyng, that they a gylt neuer in her lyue
Of wenches wol I bere hem on honde
whan yt for sicke, vnnethes might they stond
Yet tickled I his hert, for that he
Wende I had of him so great cheerte
I swore, that al my walkyng out by nyght
Was for to espy wenches, that he dight
Vnder that colour had I moche myrthe
For al suche witte, is gyuen vs in oure birthe
Disceite, wepyng, spynnyng, god hath gyue
To women, kyndly while that they lyue
And thus of o thyng I may auaunt me
At thende I had the best in eche degre
By sleyght or force, or by some maner thyng
As by contynual murmure or grutchyng
Namely a bedde had they mischaunce
There wolde I chide, & don bē no plesaunce
I wolde no lenger in the bedde abyde
(Yf I felte hys arme ouer my syde)
Tyl he had made his raunsom vnto me
Than wolde I suffre hym do hys nycete
And therfore, euery man thys tale I tel
wyue who so may, al ben for to sel
with empty hondes men may no haukeslure
For wynnyng wolde I al his lust endure
And make me than a fayned appetite.
And yet in bacon had I neuer delyte
That maked me euer yt I wolde hem chide
For though the pope had sytten hem besyde
I wolde nat spare hem at her own borde
For be my trouth I quit hem word for word
As helpe me very god omnypotent
Tho I right nowe shulde make my testamēt
I ne owe hem a worde, but it is quytte
I brought it so about by my wytte
That they must gyue it vp, as for the best
Or els had we neuer ben in rest
For though he loked as wode as a lyon
Yet shulde he fayle of hys conclusyon.
Than wolde I say, good lete take kepe
Howe mekely loketh wylken shepe
Come nere my spouse, & let me kysse your cheke
Ye shulde be al pacient and meke
And haue aswete spiced conscience
Sithe ye so preche of Iobs pacyence
Suffreth alway, syth ye so wel can preche
And but yf you do, we shal you teche
That it is fayre to haue a wyfe in pees
One of vs two mote obeyen doutles
And sithe a man is more resonable
Than a woman is ye must ben sufferable
what ayleth you to grutche thus and grone?
Is it for ye wolde haue my queynt alone?
why take it al, lo, haue it euery del
Peter I shrewe you, but ye loue it wel.
For if I wolde sel my belechose
I couth walke as freshe as any rose
But I wol kepe it for your owne toth
Ye be to blame by god, I say you soth
Suche maner wordes had we on honde
Now wol I speke of my fourth husbonde.
¶My fourth husbonde was a reuelour
This is to say, he had a paramont
And I was yong and ful of ragery
Stubburne and stronge, and ioly as a pye
wel coude I daunce to an harpe finale
And syng ywis, as a nyghtingale
Whā I had dronkē a draught of swete wine
Metellus, the soule churle the swyne
That with a staffe byrafte hys wyfe her lyfe
For she droke wine: though I had be his wife
Ne shulde he nat haue daunted me fro drinke
And after wyne of Venus must I thynke
For also seker, as colde engendreth hayle
A lycorus mouth must haue a lecherous taile
In women vynolent is no defence
This knowe lechours by experience.
But lorde Christ, whan it remembreth me
Vpon my youth, and my iolyte
It tickleth me about myne hert rote
Vnto this day it dothe myne hert bote
That I haue had my worlde, as in my tyme
But age alas, that al wol enuenyme
Hath me birafte my beaute, and my pith
Page  xxxixLet go farewel, the deuel go therwyth
The floure is gone, there nys no more tel
The bran (as I best can) nowe mote I sel
But yet to be ryght mery wol I fonde
Now forth to tel of my fourth husbonde.
¶I saye I had in hert great dyspyte
That he of any other had delyte
But he was quyte, by god and by saynt Ioce
I made hym of the same wode a troce
Not of my body in no foule manere
But certaynly, I made folke such chere
That in hys owne grece I made hym fry
For anger, and for very ielousy
By god, in erth I was hys purgatory
For whych I hope hys soule be in glory
For god it wote, he satte ful ofte and songe
when that hys shoe ful bytterly him wronge
There was none, saue god and he, that wyst
In many wyse, howe sore that I him twyst
He dyed when I came fro Hierusalem
And lyeth in graue vnder the Rode beem
Al nys hys tombe so curious
As was the sepulture of hym Darius
whych that Appelles wrought so subtelly
It is but wast to bury hym preciously
Let him farwel, god giue his soule good rest
He is nowe in hys graue and in hys chest.
¶Nowe of my fyfth husbande wol I tel
God let neuer hys soule come in hel
And yet was he to me the most shrewe
That fele I on my rybbes al by rewe
And euer shal, vnto myne endynge day
But in our bedde he was so freshe and gay
And therwythal, he couth so wel me glose
when that he wolde haue my bele chose
That though he had me bete on euery bone
He couth wynne ayen my loue anone
I trowe I loued hym the better, for that he
was of hys loue so daungerous to me
we women haue, yf that I shal not lye
In thys matere, a queynt fantasy
wayte what thyng we may not lightly haue
Therafter wol we alday crye and craue
Forbyd vs thynge, and that desyren we
Prese on fast, and then wol we flee
wyth daunger vttren we al our chaffare
Great prees at market maketh dere ware
And to great chepe is holde at to lytel pryce
Thys knoweth euery woman that is wyse.
¶My fyfth husbande, god hys soule blesse
whych I toke for loue and no rychesse
He somtyme was a clerke of Oxenforde
And had lefte schole, & wēt at home to borde
wyth my gossyp, dwellynge in our town
God haue her soule, her name was Alysoun
She knewe my hert, and eke my priuety
Better then our paryshe preest so mote I the
To her bewrayed I my counsayle al
For had my husbande pyst agaynst the wal
Or done a thynge, yt shulde haue cost his lyfe
To her, and another worthy wyfe
And to my nece, whych that I loued wel
I wolde haue tolde hys counsayle euery dell
And so I dyd ful often god it wote
That made hys face ful ofte reed and hote
For very shame, and blamed hym ofte, for he
Had tolde to me so great a preuyte.
¶And so befyl, that ones in a lent
So ofte tyme I to my gossyp went
For euer yet I loued to go gaye
And for to walke in March, Apryll, & Maye
Fro house to house, to herken sondry tales
That Ienkē clerke, & my gossep dame Ales
And I my selfe, into the feldes went
My husbonde was at london al that lent
I had the better layser for to pleye
And for to se, and eke for to be sey
Of lusty folke, what wyst I where my grace
was shapen for to ben, or in what place?
Therfore made I my visytations
To vigilles, and to processions
To preachyng eke, and to pilgrymages
To playes of myracles, and to mariages
And weared on my gay skarlet gytes
The wormes, these moghtes, ne these mites
Vpon my parel frette hem neuer a del
And wost thou why? for they were vsed wel
Nowe wol I tel forth what happed me
I saye, that in the feldes walked we
Tyl truely we had suche daliaunce
Thys clerke and I, that of my purueyaunce
I speake to hym, and sayd how that he
Yf I were wedowe, shulde wedde me
For certaynly, I say for no bobaunce
Yet was I neuer wythout purueyaunce
Of mariage, ne of other thynges eke
I holde a mousses wytte not worth a leke
That hath but one hole to sterten to
And yf that fayle, then is al ydo.
I bare hym on hāde he had enchaūted me
My dame taught me forsoth that subtylte
And eke I sayd, I mette of hym al nyght
He wolde a slayne me, as I laye vpryght
And al my bedde was ful of very blood
Page  [unnumbered]But yet I hope truely he shulde do me good
For blode betokeneth gold, as I was taught
& al was fals, I dremed of him right nauʒt
But as I folowed aye my dames lore
As wel of that, as of other thynges more.
But now syr let me se, what shal I sayne?
Aha, by god I haue my tale agayne
when yt my fourth husbande was on bere
I wept algate, and made sory chere
As wyues moten, for it is vsage
And wyth my kerchefe couered my vysage
But for that I was puueyed of a make
I wept but smal, and that I vndertake
To church was my husbād borne on morow
wyth neyghbours, that for hym made sorow
And Ianken our clerke was one of tho
As helpe me god, when that I sawe him go
After the bere, me thought he had a payre
Of legges and of fete, so clene and so fayre
That al my herte I yaue vnto hys holde
He was I trowe, twenty wynter olde
And I was fourty, yf that I shal saye sothe
But yet I had alway a coltes tothe
Gaptothed I was, & that bycame me wele
I had the printe of dame Venus seele
As helpe me god, I was a lusty one
And fayre, ryche, & yonge, and wel bygone
And truely, as myn husbande tolde me
I had the best queynte that myght be
For certes I am al fully Venetian
In felynge, and my herte is Marcian
Venus me yaue my lust & my lycorousnesse
And Mars yaue me my sturdy hardynesse
Myn ascendent was Taure, & Mars therin
Alas alas, that euer loue was syn
I folowed aye myne inclination
By vertue of my constellation
That made me I couth not wythdrawe
My chambre of Venus from a good felawe
Yet haue I Martes marke vpon my face
And also in another preuy place
For god so wysly be my saluation
I loued neuer by no dyscretion
But euer folowed myne appetyte
Al were he shorte, longe, blacke, or whyte
I toke no kepe, so that he lyked me
Howe poore he was, ne eke of what degre.
what shuld I say▪ but at ye monethes ende
Thys ioly clerke Ianken, that was so hende
Hath wedded me wyth great solempnite
And to hym yae I al the lande and fee
That euer was yeuen me here byfore
But afterwarde repented me ful sore
He nolde suffre nothynge of my lyste
By god he smote me ones wyth hys fyst
For that I rente out of hys boke a lefe
That of that stroke, my eres wext defe
Stubborne I was, as is a lyonesse
And of my tonge a very tangleresse
And walke I wolde, as I had done byforne
Fro house to house, although he had it sworn
For which ful oft tyme wolde he preche
And me of olde Romayne iestes teche
How he Sulpicius Gallus left hys wyfe
And her forsoke terme of hys lyfe
Not but for open heed he her sey
Lokynge out at hys dore on a dey
An other Romayne tolde he me by name
That for hys wyfe was at a sommer game
wythout hys wetynge, he forsoke her eke
And then wolde he vpon hys Byble seke
That ylke prouerbe of Ecclesiaste
where he cumaundeth, and forbyddeth fast
A mā shal not suffre his wife go royle about
Thē wolde he say ryght thus out of donte
¶who so buyldeth hys house al of falowes
And pricketh his blynd horse ouer ye falowes
And suffreth his wyfe for to seche hallowes
He is worthy to be hanged on the gallowes
But al for nought, I set not an hawe
Of hys prouerbes, ne of hys olde sawe
Ne I wolde not of hym corrected be
I hate hym that my vyces telleth me
And so do mo (god wotte) then I
Thys made hym wood wyth me al vtterly
I nolde nat forbere him in no caas
Now wol I say you soth by saint Thomas
why that I rent out of hys boke a lee
For whych he smote me that I was defe
He had a boke, that gladly nyght and daye
For hys dysporte, he wolde rede alway
He cleped it Valery, and Theophrast
At whych boke he lough alway ful fast
And eke ther was a clerke somtime at Rome
A cardinal, that hyght saynt Ierome
That made a boke ayenst Iouinian
In whych boke there was eke Tertulian
Crisyppus, Trotula, and Helowys
That was abbesse not farre fro Parys
And eke the parables of Salomon
Ouydes arte, and bokes many one
And al these were bounden in one volume
And euery nyght and day was hys custome
(when he had leyser and vacatioun
Page  xlFrom other worldly occupatioun)
To reden in this boke of wycked wyues
He knewe of hem mo legendes and lyues
Than ben of good women in the Byble
For trusteth wel, it is an impossyble
That any clerke wolde speke good of wyues
But yf it ben of holy sayntes lyues
Ne of non other woman neuer the mo
Who peynted the lyon, tel me who?
By god, yf women had writen stories
As clerkes han, within her oratories
They wold haue writtē of men more wicked¦nesse
Than al the marke of Adam may redresse
The chyldren of Mercury and Venus
Ben in her workyng ful contrarious
Mercury loueth wysedom and science
And Venus loueth riot and dispence
And for her dyuers disposition
Eche falleth in others exaltation
And thus god wotte, Mercury is desolate
In Pisces, where Venus is exaltate
And Venus falleth wher Mercury is reysed
Therfore no woman of no clerke is preysed
The clerke whan he is old, & may nought do
Of Venus werkes, nat worth his olde shoe
Than sytte he doun, and write in his dotage
That women can nat kepe her mariage
But nowe to purpose, why I tolde the
That I was beten for a boke parde
Vpon a nyght I enken, that was our syre
Redde vpon his boke, as he sate by the fyre
Of Eue fyrst, that for her wickednesse
was al mankynde brought to wretchednesse
For which yt Iesu christ hym selfe was slayn
That bought vs with his hert blode agayn
Lo here expresse of women may ye fynde
That woman was the losse of al mankynde
Tho rad he me how sāpson lost his heeres
Slepyng, his lemā cut hem with her sheres
Thorowe which treson lost he both his eyen
Tho rad he me, yf that I shal nat lyen
Of Hercules, and of his Deianyre
That caused him to sette him selfe a fyre
Nothyng forgate he the care and the wo
That Socrates had with his wyues two
Howe that Xantippe cast pysse on his heed
This sely man satte styl, as he were deed
He wyped his heed, no more durst he sayn
But er the thonder stynt there cometh rayn
Of Pasiphae, that was quene of Crete
For shreudnesse him thought that tale swete
Fye, speke no more, it is a grisely thynge
Of her horrible lust and her lykyng
Of Clytennestra for her lechery
That falsely made her husbande for to dye
He rad it with wel good deuosion
He tolde me eke, for what occasyon
Amphiaraus at Thebes lost his lyfe
My husbonde had a legende of hys lyfe
Eriphilem that for an ouche of golde
Hath preuely vnto the grekes tolde
where that her husbonde hyd him in a place
For which he had at Thebes sory grace
Of Lyma tolde he me, and of Lucy
They both made her husbondes for to dye
That one for loue, that other was for hate
Lyma her husbonde on an euyn late
Enpoysoned had, for that she was his foe
Lucia lykerous loued her husbonde so
That for he shulde alway vpon her thynke
She gaue hym suche a loue maner drynke
That he was deed, er it were morowe
And thus algates husbondes han sorowe
Than tolde he me, howe one Latumeus
Complayned to his felowe Arius
That in his garden growed suche a tree
On whych (he sayd) that hys wyues thre
Honged hem selfe for hertes dispitous
O lefe brother ({quod} this Arius)
Yeue me a plant of thys blysful tree
And in my garden planted shal it be.
Of later date of wyues hath he redde
That some han slayn her husbondes in bedde
And let her lechour dight hem al the nyght
whiles that the cors lay in slore vpright
And some had dryue nayles in her brayne
whiles they slepe, & thus they haue hē slayn
Some haue yeue hem poyson in her drynke
He spake more harme than hert may thynke
And therwithal he knewe mo prouerbes
Than in this world there groweth grasse or herbes
Bette is ({quod} he) thyne habitation
Be with a lyon, or a foule dragon
Than with a woman vsyng for to chyde
Bette is ({quod} he) hygh in the rofe to abyde
Than with an angry wife down in an hous
They ben so wicked and so contrarious
They haten, that her husbondes louen aye
He said, a woman cast her shame away
whan she cast of her smocke: and farther mo
A fayre woman, but she be chast also
Is lyke a golde ryng on a sowes nose
who coude wene, or who coude suppose
The wo, that in myne hert was and pyne
Page  [unnumbered]And whan I sawe he wolde neuer fyne
To reden on this cursed boke al nyght
Al sodaynly thre leues haue I plyght
Out of hys boke, right as he radde, and eke
I with my fyst so toke hym on the cheke
That in the fyre he fell backwarde a doun
And vp he stert, as dothe a wode lyoun
And with his fyst he smote me on myne heed
That in the flore I laye as I were deed
And whan he sey howe styl that I lay
He was a gast, and wold haue fledde awaye
Tyl at the last out of my swoun I brayde
Oh, hast thou slayn me false thefe I sayde
For my loude thus hast thou murdred me?
Er I be deed, yet wol I ones kysse the
And nere he cam, and kneled faire a doun
And said: dere suster, swete Alysoun
As helpe me god I shal the neuer smyte
That I haue don, it is thy selfe to wyte
Foryeue it me, and that I the beseke
And yet efte sones I hytte hym on the cheke
And sayd: thefe, thus moche am I be wreke
Nowe wol I dye, I may no lenger speke.
But at the last, with mokel care and wo
we fel accorded within our seluen two
He yaf me al the brydel in myne honde
To haue the gouernaunce of house & londe
And of hys tonge, and of hys honde also
And made hym bren his boke anon tho
And whan I had goten vnto me
By maistry, al the soueraynte
Than he sayd: myne own trewe wyse
Dothe as thou lyste, the terme of al thy lyfe
Kepe thyne honour, and eke myne estate
Alter that day we had neuer debate
God helpe me so, I was to hym as kynde
As any wyfe fro Denmarke vnto Inde
And also trewe, and so was he to me
I praye to god, that sytte in maieste
So blysse hys soule, for his mercy dere
Nowe wol I say my tale yf ye wol here.
¶The frere lough whan he had herd al this
Nowe dame ({quod} he) so haue I ioye or blysse
This is a long preamble of a tale
And whan the Sompner herd yt frere gale
Lo ({quod} this sompner) by goddes armes two
A frere wol entermete hym euermo
Lo good men, a flye and eke a frere
wol fal in euery dishe and eke matere
what spekest thou of preambulation?
what amble or trot, eyther peace or syt a doū
Thou lettest our disporte in this matere.
¶Yea wolt thou so syr Sōpner ({quod} ye Frere)
Nowe by my faye I shal, er that I go
Tel of a Sompner, suche a tale or two
That al the folke shul laugh in this place.
Nowe els frere I beshrewe thy face
(Quod this sompner) and I be shrewe me
But yf I tel tales two or thre
Of freres, er I come to Sittyngburne
That shal make thyne hert for to murne
For wel I wotte thy pacience is goon.
¶Our Hoost cried peace, and that anoon
And sayd: Lette the woman tel her tale
Ye faren as folke, that dronken ben of ale
Do dame, tel forthe your tale, & that is beste
Al redy syr ({quod} she) ryght as you leste
If I haue lycence of thys worthy frere
Yes dame, tel forthe your tale, I wol it here.

¶Here endeth the wyfe of Bathes prologue, and here be∣gynneth her tale.

I In the olde dayes of kynge I∣toure
(Of which the Bretons speken great honour)
Al was thys londe fulfylled of fairy
The Elfe quene, with her ioly company
Daunsed ful ofte in many a grene mede
This was the olde opinyon as I rede
I speke of many an hundred yere a go
But nowe can no man se none elfes mo
For nowe the great charyte and prayers
Of lymytours and other holy freres
That serchen euery lande and euery streme
As thicke as motes in the sonne beme
Blissyng halles, chambres, kichens, & boures
Cyties borowes, castelles, and hye toures
Thropes, bernes, shepens, and deyties
This maketh, that there ben no fayries
For there as wonte to walke was an elfe
There walketh now the lymitour hym selfe
In vndermeles, and in mornynges
And saythe hys matyns, & hys holy thynges
As he gothe in hys lymitacioun
women may go safely vp and doun
In euery bushe, and vnder euery tre
There nys none other incubus but he
And he ne wyl done hem no dishonour
Page  xli¶And so fel it, that this kyng Arrour
Had in his house a lusty bacheler
That on a day come rydyng fro the ryuer
And happed, that alone as he was borne
He sawe a mayde walkyng hym byforne
Of whiche mayde anon, maugre her hede
(By very force) he berafte her maydenhede
For whiche oppression was suche clamour
And suche pursute vnto kyng Artour
That dampned was this knyght to be deed
By course of lawe, & shuld haue lost his heed
Peraduenture suche was the statute tho
But that the quene, and other ladyes mo
So longe prayden the kyng of grace
Tyl he his lyfe graunted in that place
And yaue hym to the quene, al at her wyl
To chese where yt she wolde hym saue or spil
The quene thāketh ye king wt al her might
And after this, thus spake she to the knyght
whan she sey her tyme on a day
¶Thou standest yet ({quod} she) in suche aray
That of thy lyfe yet haste thou no suerte
I graunte yt thy lyfe, if that thou caust tel me
what thyng is it, that women moste desyren
Beware, and kepe thy necke bone from yren
And yf thou canste not tel it me anon
Yet wol I yeue the leue for to gon
A twelue moneth and a day, to seke and lere
An answere suffycient in this matere
And suertie wol I haue, er that thou passe
Thy body for to yelde in this place.
¶wo was the knight, & soroufully he syketh
But what? he may not done al as him lyketh
And at laste he chese hym or to wende
And come ayen, ryght at the yeres ende
with such answer, as god wold hym puruay
And taketh his leue, & wēdeth forth his way
He seketh euery house and euery place
where as he hopeth for to fynde grace
To lerne, what thyng women louen moost
But he ne couthe aryuen in no coost
where as he myght fynde in this matere
Two creatures accordyng yfere
Some sayd, women loued best rychesse
Some sayd honour, some sayd iolynesse
Some sayd riche aray, some said lust a bedde
And ofte tyme to ben wydowe and wedde.
Some sayd, that our herte is moste y esed
whan that we ben flatered and yplesed
He gothe ful nye the sothe, I wol not lye
A man shal wynne vs beste with flaterye
And with attendaunce, and with busynesse
Ben we ilymed bothe more and lesse.
And some men sayn, how yt we louen beste
For to ben fre, and do right as vs leste
And that no man repreue vs of our vyce
But say that we be wyse, & nothyng nyce
For trewly there nys none of vs al
If any wight wol clawe vs on the gall
That we nyl kyke, for that he sayth vs sothe
Assay, and he shal fynde it, that so dothe
For be we neuer so victous within
we wol be holden wyse and clene of syn
And some men sayn, yt great delite haue we
For to ben holde stable and eke secre
And in o purpose stedfastly to dwel
And nat bewray thyng that men vs tel
But that tale is nat worthe a rake stele
Parde we women con nothyng hele
witnesse of Midas, wol ye here the tale
¶Ouyde, among other thynges smale
Said, Midas had vnder his long heeres
Growyng on his heed, two asses eeres
The whiche vice he hidde, as he beste myght
Ful subtelly from euery mannes syght
That saue his wyfe, there wist of it no mo
He loued her most, and trusted her also
He prayde her, that to no creature
She nolde tellen of his disfygure.
She swore him, nat for al ye world to wyn
She nolde do that villany, ne that syn
To makē her husbonde haue so foule a name
She nolde nat tel it for her own shame
But natheles, her thought that she dyde
That she so long shulde a counsayle hyde
Her thought it swole so sore about her hert
That nedely some worde she most a stert
And syth she durst tellen it to no man
Down to a marris fast by she ran
Tyl she came there, her hert was on a fyre
And as a byttour bumbeth in the myre
She layd her mouth vnto the water adown
Bewray me nat thou water with thy sown
Quod she, to the I tel it, and to no mo
My husbonde hath long Asses eres two
Nowe is myne hert al hole, nowe it is out
I myght no lenger kepe it out of dout.
¶Here mowe ye se, though we a tyme abyde
Yet out it mote, we can no counsayle hyde
The remenaunt of the tale, yf ye wyl here
Redeth Ouyde, and there ye may it lere.
¶This knight, of which my tale is specially
whan that he sawe, he might not come therby
This is to say, what women louen moste
Page  [unnumbered]Within his herte sorowful was hys goste
But home he gothe, he myght nat soiourne
The day was come, he muste home returne
And in his way, it happed hym to ryde
In al hys care, vnder a foreste syde
Where he sawe vpon a daunce go
Of ladyes foure and twenty, and yet mo
Toward the daūce he drowe him, & yt yerne
In hope that some wysedome shuld he lerne
But certaynly, er that he came fully there
Vanyshed was the daūce, he niste not where
No creature sawe he that bare lyfe
Saue in ye grene, he saw sytting an old wife
A fouler wyght there may no man deuyse
Agayne the knyght the olde wyfe gan aryse
And sayd: syr knight, here forth lyeth no way
Tel me what ye seken by your fay
Parauenture it may the better be
This olde folke conne moche thyng ({quod} she)
¶My lyfe mother ({quod} thys knyght) certayne
I nam but deed, but yf that I can sayne
what thyng it is, yt womē moste desyre
Coude ye me wilse, I wolde quite wel your hyre
Plight me thy trouth here in my hōde ({quod} she)
The next thyng that I require the
Thou shalte it do, yf it be in thy myght
And I wol tel it you, or it be nyght.
Haue here my trouth ({quod} ye knight) I graunt
¶Than quod she, I may me wel auaunt
Thy lyfe is safe, for I wol stonde therby
Vpon my lyfe, the quene wyl say as I
Let se, whiche is the proudest of hem al
That weareth on a kerchefe or a cal
That dare say nay, of that I shal you teche
Let vs go forthe without lenger speche.
Tho rowned she a pistel in his ere
And bade hym to be glad, and haue no fere.
¶whā they ben comē to ye court, thys knyght
Sayd, he had holde his day, as he had hight
And redy was hys answere, as he sayde
Ful many a noble wyfe, and many a mayde
And many a wydowe, for that they be wyse
The quene her selfe, syttyng as a iustyse
Assembled ben, his answere for to here
And afterwarde this knight was bode apere
To euery wight cōmaunded was sylence
And that the knyght shulde tel in audyence
That thyng that worldly women loued best
This knyght ne stode not styl as doth a beste
But to his question anon answerde
with manly voyce, that al the courte it herde
My liege lady: generally, quod he
women desyren to haue soueraynte
As wel ouer her husbondes as her loue
And for to ben in maistrye hem aboue
This is your moste desyre, though ye me kyl
Dothe as you lyste, I am here at your wyl.
¶In al the courte nas there wyfe ne mayde
Ne wydowe, that contraried, that he sayde
But sayd, he was worthy han his lyfe.
And with ye worde, vp sterte the olde wyfe
which yt the knight fonde syttyng on ye grene
Mercy ({quod} she) my souerayne lady quene
Er that your couete departe do me right
I taught this answere vnto thys knyght
For whiche he plight me hys trouthe there
The fyrst thyng I wolde of hym requere
He wolde it do, yf it lay in hys might
Before the courte thā praye I the sir knight
(Quod she) that thou me take vnto thy wyfe
For wel thou woste, that I haue kept thy life
If I say false, saye nay vpon thy fay
¶This knight answerd, alas and welaway
I wote right wel, that suche was my beheste
For goddes loue chese a newe requeste
Take al my good, and let my body go.
Nay {quod} she, than I shrewe vs bothe two
For though that I be foule, olde and poore
I nolde for al the metal ne the ore
That vnder erthe is graue, or lythe aboue
But yf I thy wyfe were and thy loue.
¶My loue ({quod} he) nay my dampnation
Alas that any of my nacion
Shulde euer so foule disparaged be
But al for naught, the ende is this, that he
Cōstrayned was, yt nedes must he her wedde
And taketh this olde wyfe, & gothe to bedde
¶Nowe wolden some men say parauenture
That for my neglygence, I do no cure
To tellen you the ioye and the array
That at the feest was that ylke day.
To the which thing answere shortly I shal
I say there was no ioy ne feest at al
There nas but heuynesse and moche sorowe
For priuely he wedded her on a morowe
And al day after hydde hym as an oule
So wo was hym, his wife loked so foule
Gret was ye sorow ye knight had ī his thouʒt
whan he was with his wife a bedde ibrouʒt
He waloweth, and turneth to and fro.
¶His olde wyfe lay smylyng euermo
And sayd: O dere husbonde, O benedicite
Fareth euery knight thus as ye?
Is this the lawe of kyng Artours house
Page  xliiIs euery knyght of his loue so daungerouse
I am your owne loue, and eke your wyfe
I am she, whiche that saued hath your lyfe
And certes yet dyd I neuer you vnryght
why fare ye thus with me the fyrst nyght
Ye acen lyke a man that had loste hys witte
Fy, what is my gilte: for gods loue tel me it
And it shal be amended yf I may.
¶Amended ({quod} this knyght) alas nay nay
That wol not ben amended neuer mo
Thou arte so lothly, and so olde also
And therto comen of so lowe a kynde
That litel wōder is thogh I walow & wind
So wolde god ({quod} he) myne herte wold brest.
¶Is this ({quod} she) the cause of your onrest?
Ye certaynly quod he, no wonder nys.
¶Nowe syr ({quod} she) I couthe amende al this
If that me lyst, er it were dayes thre
So wel ye myght beare you vnto me.
But for ye speke of suche gentylnesse
As is discended out of olde richesse
That therfore shullen ye be gentilmen
Suche errogaunce is not worthe an hen,
Lo who that is moste vertuous alway
Preuy and aperte, and most entendeth aye
To do the gentyl dedes, that he can
Take hym for the greatest gentylman.
Christ wolde we claymed of hym our gentyl¦nesse
Not of our elders, for our olde richesse
For though they yeue vs al her herytage
For which we claymen to ben of hye parage
Yet may they not byquethe, for no thyng
To none of vs, her vertuous lyuyng
That made hem gentylmen ycalled be
And badde vs folowen hem in suche degre.
¶Wel can the wyse poete of Florence
That hyght Daunte, speke in thys sentence
Lo in suche maner ryme is Dauntes tale
Ful selde vp ryseth by his braunches smale
Prowesse of man: for god of his goodnesse
wol that we clayme of hym oure gentylnesse
For of our elders may we nothyng clayme
But tēporal thyng, yt mē may hurte & maym
Eke euery wight wote this as wel as I
If gentilnesse were planted naturally
Vnto a certayne lynage downe the lyne
Preuy & aperte, than wolde they neuer fyne
To done of gentilnesse the fayre offyce
They might don no vilanye ne vice.
Take fyre & beare it in to the derkest hous
Bytwixt this and the mounte Caucasus
And let men shytte the dores, and go thenne
Yet wol the fyre as fayre lye and brenne
As twenty thousande men might it beholde
His offyce natural aye wol it holde
Vp peryl of my lyfe, yl that it dye.
¶Here may ye se wel, howe that gentrye
Is not annexed to possession
Sythen folke don not her operacion
Alway as dothe the fyre, lo in hys kynde
For god it wotte, men may ful often fynde
A lordes sonne done shame and vilanye
And he that wol haue praise of hys gentrye
For he was borne of a gentil house
And had his elders noble and vertuouse
And nyl him selfe don no gentil dedes
Ne folowe his gentil auncetre that deed is
He nys not gentyl, be he duke or erle
Fye vilaynes, synful dedes maketh a cherle
For gentilnesse nys but the renomie
Of thyne aunceters, for her hygh bountie
Whiche is a stronge thyng to thy persone
The gentylnesse cometh fro god alone
Than cometh our very gentylnesse of grace
It was nothyng byqueth vs with our place.
¶Thynketh howe noble, as sayth Valerius
was thylke Tullius Hostilius
That out of pouertie rose to hye noblesse
Redeth Senek, and redeth eke Boece
There shal ye seen expresse, no drede is
That he is gentil, that dothe gentil dedes
And therfore dere husbonde, I thus conclude
All were it that myne aunceters were rude
Yet may that hye god, and so hope I
Graunt me grace to lyue vertuously
Than am I gentil, whan I begynne
To lyue vertuously, and leuen synne
And there as ye of pouertie me repren
The hye god, on whom that we byleue
In wylful pouerte chese to lede his lyfe
And certes euery man, mayde, and wyfe
Maye vnderstonde, Iesu heuen kyng
Ne wolde not chese a viciouse lyuyng
Glad pouert is an honest thyng certayne
This wol Seneke and other clerkes sayne
who so wolde hold him payde of his pouerte
I holde hym ryche, al had he not a sherte
He that coueyteth is a ful poore wyght
For he wolde han, that is not in hys myght
But he yt naught hath, ne coueyteth to haue
Is rych, al though ye holde him but a knaue
Very pouert is synne properly
Iuuenal saythe of pouert merily
The poore man, whan he gothe by the way
Page  [unnumbered]Byforne theues, he may synge and play
Pouert is hateful goodand as I gesse
A ful great bringer out of busynesse
A great amendet eke of sapience
To hym that taketh it in pacience
Pouert is, al thoughe it seme elenge
Possession, that no wyght wol-chalenge.
Pouerte ful often, whan a man is lowe
Maketh hys god and eke him selfe to knowe
Pouert a spectacle is, as thynketh me
Through which one may his very frendes se
And therfore, syn that I you not greue
Of my pouert, no more me repreue
¶Nowe syr, eke of elde ye repreued me
And certes syr, though none autorite
Were in no booke, ye gentils of honour
Sayne that men shuld an old wight honour
And clepe hem father for her gentilnesse
And autours shal I fynde, as I gesse.
¶Now there as ye sayn, yt I am foule & olde
Than drede you not to ben a coke wolde
For fylthe, elthe, and foule, also mote I the
Ben great wardeyus vpon chastite
But natheles, syn I knowe your delyte
I shal fulfyl your worldly appetyte
Chese now ({quod} she) one of these thīges twy
To haue me foule and olde, tyl that I dry
And be to you a trewe humble wyfe
And neuer you displease in al my lyfe
Or els wol ye haue me yonge and fayre
And take your auenture of the repayre
That shal come to your house, bycause of me
Or in some other place, may wel be▪
Now chese your seluē, whether yt you lyketh
¶This knyght auyseth hym, and sore syketh
But at the last, he sayd in this manere:
My lady and my loue, and wyfe so dere
I put me in your wyse gouernaunce
Cheseth your selfe, which maye be more ple∣saūce
And moste honour to you and me also
I do no force whether of the two
For as you lyketh, it suffyseth me.
Thā haue I gote of you ye maistry ({quod} she)
Syn I may chese, & gouerne as my leste
Ye certes wyfe, {quod} he) I holde it for the beste.
kysse me ({quod} she) we ben no lenger wrothe
For by my trouthe, I wol be to you bothe
This is to say, to be bothe fayre & good
I pray to god that I mote sterue wood
But I to you be also good and trewe
As euer was wyfe sythē ye world was newe
And but I be to morowe as fayre to sene
As any lady, empresse, or quene
That is bytwene the Este & eke the weste
Dothe with my lyfe right as you leste
Cast vp the courteyn, and loke howe it is.
¶And whan the knyght sawe al this
That she so fayre was, and so yonge therto
For ioy he hente her in his armes two
His herte bathed in a bathe of blysse
A thousande tymes a rowe he gan her kysse
And she obeyed hym in euery thyng
That mought done hym pleasure or lykyng
And thus they lyued vnto her lyues ende
In parfyte ioy: and Iesu Christ vs sende
Husbondes meke, yonge, and freshe a bedde
And grace to ouerlyue hem that we wedde.
And eke I pray to god, to short her lyues
That wyl not be gouerned by her wyues
And olde, and angry nygardes of dispence
God sende hem sone a very pestylence.

¶Here endeth the wyfe of Bathes tale and here begynneth the streres prologue.

THis worthy lymytour, thys noble frere
He made alway a maner lou¦rynge chere
Vpon the Sompner, but for honeste
No vilaynes worde as yet to hym spake he
But at the last, he sayd to the wyfe
Dame, god yeue you right good lyfe
Ye haue touched here, also mote I the
In schole mater, a ful great diffyculte
Ye haue sayd moche thyng right wel I saye
But dame, here as we ryden by the waye
Vs nedeth not to speken but of game
And lete auctorites a goddes name
To prechyng, and to schole of clargy.
But yf it lyke vnto this companye
I wol you of a Sompner tel a game
Parde ye may wel knowe by the name
That of a Sompner may no good be sayde
I pray, that none of you be yuel a payde
A sompner is a renner vp and doun
with maundementes, for fornycation
And is ybeate at euery townes ende.
Tho spake our host & said: sir ye shulde ben hende
And curteys, as a man of your estate
In this companye we wol no debate
Page  xliiiTelleth your tale, and let the sompner be
Nay ({quod} the Sompner) let hym say to me
what so hym lyst: whan it cometh to my lote
By god I shal hym quite euery grote
I shal hym tel whiche a great honour
It is, to be a flatteryng lymytour
And eke of many an other maner cryme
whiche nedeth not to rehersen at this tyme
And hys offyce I shal hym tel iwys
Our hoste answerde: peace, no more of thys
And afterwarde he sayd vnto the frere
Tel forthe your tale, myn own maister dere.

¶Here endeth the Freres pro∣logue, and here after fo∣loweth his tale.
[illustration]

WHylom there was dwel¦lyng in my countre
An archedeken, a man of hye degre
That boldly dyd execu∣tion
In punishyng of forni∣cation
Of withcrafte, and eke of baudrie
Of defamacion, and aduoutrie
Of churche reues, and of testamentes
Of contractes, and lacke of sacramentes
Of vsure, and of symonye also
But certes lechours dyd he moche wo
They shulden synge, yf they weren hente
And smale tythers, they were foule ishent
If any person wolde vpon hem playne
There might asterte hem no pecunyal payne
For smale tythes, and smal offrynge
He made the people pitously to synge
For er the bishop caught hem with hys hoke
They were in the archedekens booke
And than had he (through hys iurdictyon)
Power to done on hem correction
He had a Sompner redy to his honde
A slyer boye was there none in Englonde
For subtelly he had his espiayle
That taught hym where he myght auayle.
He couthe spare of lechours one or two
To techen hym to foure and twenty mo
For thogh this sōpner wode were as an hare
To tel his harlotrye I wol not spare
For we ben out of hys correction
They haue of vs no iurdiction
Ne neuer shullen, terme of al her lyues.
¶Peter so ben women of the stewes
({quod} this Sompner) yput out of our cure
Peace with mischaūce, & with misauenture
Sayd our hoste, and let hym tel hys tale
Now telleth forthe, & let the Sompner gale
Ne spareth not, myne owne maister dere.
¶This fals thefe, this Sōpner ({quod} the frere)
Had alway baudes redy to hys honde
As any hauke to lure, in Englonde
That telleth hym al the secre that they knew
For her aquayntaūce was not come of newe
They weren his aprouers priuely
He toke hym selfe a great profyte therby
His maister knewe not alway what he wan
Without maundement, a leude man
He coude sommon, on payne of christes curse
And they were glad to fyllen hys purse
And made hym great feestes at the nale
And right as Iudas had purses smale
And was a thefe, right suche thefe was he
His maister had but halfe his deutie
He was (yf I shal yeuen hym hys laude)
A thefe, a sompner, and eke a baude.
He had eke wenches of hys retinue
That whether syr Roberde, or syr Hue
Or Iohan, or Rafe, or who so that it were
That lay by hem, they tolde it in his eere
Thus were ye wenches and he of one assent
And he wolde fetche a fayned maundement
Page  [unnumbered]And sommon hem to the chapitre bothe two
And pylle the man, and let the wenche go
Than wolde he say, frende I shal for thy sake
Do stryken the out of our letters blake
The dare no more as in this case trauayle
I am thy frende, there I may the auayle
Certayne he knewe of bribries mo
Than possible is to tel in yeres two
For in this worlde nys dogge for the bowe
That can an hurte dere from an hole knowe
Bet than the Sompner knewe a slye lechour
Or auoutrer, or els any paramour
For that was the fruite of al hys rente
Therfore on it he sette al hys entent.
And so befyl that ones on a day
This Sompner waytynge euer on his pray
Rode for to sommō an old wedowe a ribybe
Faynyng a cause, for he wolde haue a bribe
And happed that he sawe beforn hym ryde
A gay yoman vnder a forest syde
A bowe he bare, and arowes bright & shene
He had vpon him a courtpye of grene
An hatte vpon his heed with strynges blake
Sir {quod} this sompner, haile and wel ytake
¶Welcome {quod} he, and euery good felawe
whider ridest yu vnder this grenwode shawe
Sayd this yoman, wolte thou ferre to day?
This sompner hym answerd, and sayd nay
Here fast by ({quod} he) is myne entent
To ryden, for to reysen vp a rent
That longeth to my lordes dewte.
Arte thou than a bayly: ye ({quod} he)
He durst nat than, for very fylth and shame
Say that he was a Sompner, for the name
Depardieur, {quod} this yoman, lefe brother
Thou arte a bayly, and I am another
I am vnknowen, as in this countre
Of thyne acqueyntaunce I wol pray the
And eke of brotherhed, yf that thou list
I haue golde and syluer in my chist
Yf that ye happe to come in our shyre
Al shal be thyne, right as thou wolt desyre
Graūt mercy {quod} this sompner, by my faithe
Euerich in other his trouthe laythe
For to be sworne brethern, tyl they dey
And with yt worde they riden forth her wey
This sompner wt that, was as ful of iāgles
As ful of venym, as ben these wariangles
And euer enquyring vpon euery thyng
Brother {quod} he, where is your dwellyng
Another day, yf that I shulde you seche?
This yoman hym answerde in soft speche
Brother {quod} he, ferre in the North countre
where as I hope somtyme I shal the se
Or we departe, I shal the so wel wysse
That of myne house thou shalte neuer mysse
Now brother {quod} this sompner, I you pray
Teche me, while we ryden by the way
Sith that ye ben a baylye, as am I
Some subtelte, tel me faithfully
In myne offyce, howe I may most wynne
And spareth nat for conscience ne for synne
But as my brother, tel me howe don ye
Nowe by my trouth brother dere sayd he
As I shal tellen the a faithful tale
My wages ben ful straite and smale
My lorde is harde to me and daungerous
And myne offyce ful laborous
And therfore, by extortion I leue
Forsothe al that men wol me yeue
Algate by sleyght or by violence
From yere to yere, I wyn al my dispence
I can no better tellen faithfully
Nowe certes {quod} this sompnour, so fate I
I spare nat to take god it wote
But yf it be to heuy or to hote
That I may getten in counsayle priuely
No maner conscience of that haue I
Nere myne extorcion I myght not lyuen
Of suche iapes wol I nat be shriuen
Stomake ne conscience knowe I non
I shrewe al these shrift fathers euerichon
wel be we met by god and swete saynt Iame
But lefe brother, tel me thy name
Quod this sompner, in thys mean while
This yoman gan a lytel for to smyle
¶Brother {quod} he, wolte thou that I the tel?
I am a fende, my dwellyng is in hel
And here I ride about my purchasyng
To wete where I may gete any thyng
My purchase is theffecte of al my rent
Loke howe thou ridest for the same entent
To wyne good, thou reckest neuer howe
Right so fare I, for ride wol I nowe
Vnto the worldes ende for a pray
Ah, {quod} this sompner, benedicite, what ye say
I wende ye were a woman trewly
Ye haue a mannes shappe as wel as I
Haue ye a fygure than determynate
In hel, there ye ben in your estate?
Nay certaynly {quod} he, there haue we non
But whan vs lyketh, we can take vs one
Or els make you seme we ben shape
Somtyme lyke a man or lyke an ape
Page  xliiiiOr lyke an Angel can I ryde or go
It is no wonder thyng though it be so
A lousy iuggler can disceyue the
And parde yet can I more crafte than he
why {quod} the Sompnour, ride ye thā or gon
In sondrie shappe, and nat alway in one?
For we {quod} he, wol vs suche forme make
As most able is our prayes for to take
what maketh you to haue al this labour?
¶Ful many a cause lefe syr Sompnour
Sayd this fende, but al thyng hath tyme
The day is short, and it is passed pryme
And yet ne gote I nothyng in this day
I wol enrende to wynnyng, yf that I may
And nat entende our wyttes to declare
For brother myne, thy wyttes ben al to bare
To vnderstand al, though I wolde tel hē the
But for thou askest why laboren we
For somtyme be we goddes instrumentes
And meanes to don his cōmaundementes
what that hym lust on his creatures
In dyuers arte and in dyuers fygures
withouten hem we haue no might certayn
Yf that him lyst to stonden there agayn
And somtyme at our praye haue we leue
Onely the body, & nought the soule to greue
wytnesse of Iob, whom we deden wo
And somtyme haue we myght of bothe two
This is to sayn, of body and soule eke
And somtyme we ben suffred for to seke
Vpon a man, and don his soule vnrest
And nat his body, and al is for the best
whan he withstandeth our temptation
It is a cause of hys saluation
Al be it that it was nat our entent
He shuld be safe, but that we wolde him hent
And somtyme be we seruauntes vnto man
As the archbysshoppe saynt Dunstan
And to the Apostel eke seruaunt was I
Yet tel me {quod} this Sompnour faithfully
Make ye you newe bodies thus alway
Of elementes▪ the fende answered nay
Somtyme we fayn, and somtyme we aryse
with deed bodies in sondrie wise
And speke as renably, fayre and wel
As the Phitonesse dyd to Samuel
And yet wolde some men say it was nat he
I do no force of your deuynite
But o thyng I warne the, I wol nat iape
Thou wolte algates wete howe we be shape
Thou shalt herafterwarde (my brother dere)
Come, where the nedeth nat of me to lere
For thou shalt by thyne own experience
Conne in the chare rede of thys sentence
Bette than Vergyl, while he was on lyue
Or Daunt also. Nowe lette vs ride blyue
For I wol holde company with the
Tyl it be so that thou forsake me
Nay {quod} this sompnour, yt shal nat betide
I am a yoman knowen ful wyde
My trouth wol I holde to yt, as in this caas
For though thou were the deuyll Sathanas
My trouth wol I holde to my brother
As I am sworne, and eche of vs to other
For to be trewe brother in this caas
And brother, we gon to our purchaas
Take thou thy parte, that men wol the yeue
And I shal myne, and thus shal we both leue
And yf that any of vs haue more than other
Let him be trew, & parte it with his brother
I graunt {quod} the deuyl, by my fay
And wt that worde they riden forth her way
And right at thentrynge of the rownes ende
(To which ye sompner shope him for to wēd)
They sawe a carte, that charged was wt hay
which that a carter droue forth on his way
Depe was the way, for which the carte stode
This carter smote, & striued as he were wode
Heit scot heit brok, what spare ye for ye stones
The fende {quod} he, you fetch both body & bones
As ferforth as euer ye were yfoled
So moche wo as I haue for you tholed
The deuyl haue al, both horse, carte, & hay
{quod} this sompnour, here shal we haue a pray
And nere ye fende he drew, as nouʒt ne were
Ful preuily, and rowned in his ere
Herken brother herken, by thy fayth
Herest thou what the carter saith?
Hent it anon, for he hath yeue it the
Both hay and carte, and eke his caples thre
Nay {quod} the deuyl, god wotte neuer a dele
It is nat his entent trust me wele
Aske him thy selfe, yf thou trowest nat me
Or els stynt a whyle and thou shalte se.
This carter thacked his horse on ye croupe
And they begon to drawe and to stoupe
Heit nowe {quod} he, that Iesu christ you blesse
And al his hondy werke both more and lesse
That was wel ytwight myn own lyard boy
I pray god saue the and saynt Loye
Nywe is my carte out of the slowe parde.
Lo brother {quod} the fende, what tolde I the
Here may ye seen myn owne dere brother
The carle spake o thīg but he thouʒt another
Page  [unnumbered]Lette vs go forth about our viage
Here wyn we nothyng vpon cariage
whā yt they comē somwhat out of ye town
Thys Sompner to his brother gan to rown
Brother {quod} he, here wonneth an olde rebecke
That had almost as lefe to lese her necke
As for to yeue a peny of her good
I wol haue .xij. pens tho that she were wood
Or I wol sompne her to our offyce
And yet god wotte of her knowe I no vyce
But for thou canst nat, as in this countre
wynne thy cost, take here ensample of me.
This Sōpner clappeth at ye wedowes gate
Come out he sayd, thou olde veritrate
I trowe thou hast some frere or preest wt the
who clappeth ther said this wife, benedicite
God saue you syr, what is your swete wyl
I haue {quod} he, of sommōs of the here a byl
Vp payne of cursyng loke that thou be
To morowe before our Archdeacons kne
To answere to the court of certayn thynges
Nowe lorde {quod} she, Iesu kyng of kynges
So wisely helpe me, as I ne may
I haue ben sycke, and that ful many a day
I may nat go so ferre, {quod} she, ne ryde
But I be deed, so pricketh it in my syde
May I nat aske a lybel syr Sompnour
And answere there by my proctour
To suche thyng as men wolde apposen me?
Yes {quod} this Sompnour, paye anon let se
Twelfe pens to me, and I wyl the acquyte
I shal no profyte haue therof but lyte
My maister hath the profyte, and nat I
Come of and lette me ryden hastely
Gyue me .xii. pens I may no lenger tary
Twelf pens {quod} she, lady saynt Mary
So wisely helpe me out of care and synne
This wyde world though I shuld it wynne
Ne haue I nat .xij. pens within my holde
Ye knowe wel, that I am poore and olde
Kyth your almesse on me poore wretche
Nay than {quod} he, the foule fende me fetche
Yf I the excuse, though thou shuldest be spylt
Alas {quod} she, god wotte yet haue I no gylt
¶Paye me {quod} he, or by swete saynt Anne
I wol bere away thy newe panne
For dette, whiche thou owest me of olde
whan thou madest thyne husbonde cokolde
I payde at home for thy correction
Thou lyest {quod} she, by my saluation
Ne was I neuer er nowe, wedowe ne wyfe
Sompned vnto your court in al my lyfe
Ne neuer I nas but of my body trewe
Vnto the deuyl blacke and rough of hewe
Yeue I thy body and my panne also.
And whan the deuyll herde her curse so
Vpon her knees, he sayd in this manere
Nowe mably, myne owne mother dere
Is this your wyl in ernest that ye sey?
The deuyl {quod} she, fette him er I dey
And pan and al, but he wol hym repent.
Nay olde stotte, that is nat myne entent
Quod this Sompner, for to repent me
For any thyng that I haue had of the
I wolde I had thy smocke and euery clothe.
Nowe brother {quod} the deuyl, be nat wrothe
Thy body and this pan is myne by right
Thou shalt with me to hel yet to nyght
where thou shalte knowen of our preuyte
More than a maister of deuynite
And with ye worde the foule fende him hēt
Body and soule, he with the deuyl went
where that Sompnours haue their heritage
And god that made after hys ymage
Mankynde, saue and gyde vs al and some
And leue the sompnour good man to become
Lordīges I coud haue told you, {quod} this frere
Had I had leyser, of this Sompnour here
After the text of Christ, Poule, and Iohn
And of other doctours many one
Suche peynes, as your hertes myght agryse
Albeit so, that no tonge may it deuyse
Though yt I might a thousande wynter tel
The peynes of that cursed house of hel
But for to kepe vs fro that cursed place
Wake, and prayeth Iesu of hys grace
So kepe vs from the temptour Sathanas
Herkeneth this worde, beware as ī this caas
The lyon sytteth in his awayte alway
To slee the innocent, yf that he may
Disposeth aye your hertes to withstonde
The fende, yt you wolde make thral & bonde
He may not tempte you ouer your myght
For Christ wol be your champion & knyght
And prayeth, that this sompnour him repēte
Of hys misdede, er that the fende hym hente.

¶Here endeth the Freres tale, and be¦gynneth the Sompners prologue.

Page  xlvTHis Sompner in his styropes hye stode
Vpon this frere, his herte was so wode
That lyke an aspē lefe he quoke for yre
Lordynges ({quod} he) but one thyng I desyre
I you beseche, that of your curtesy
Sythens ye han herde this false frere lye
As suffreth me I may my tale tel
This frere bosteth that he knoweth hel
And god wote that is lytel wonder
Freres and fendes ben but lytel a sonder
For parde, ye han ofte tyme herde tell
Howe that a frere rauyshed was to hel
In spyrit ones by a visyoun
And as an angel ledde hym vp and doun
To shewe hym the paynes that there were
In al the place sawe he not a frere
Of other folke he sawe ynowe in wo
Vnto the aungel spake the frere tho
Nowe syr {quod} he, han freres suche a grace
That none of hem shal come in this place?
¶Yes {quod} this aungel, many a myllyoun
And vnto Sathanas ladde he hym adoun
And nowe hath Sathanas suche a tayle
Broder than of a Caryke is the sayle
Holde vp thy tayle thou Sathanas ({quod} he)
Shewe forthe thyn erse, let the frere se
where is the neste of freres in this place
And er that halfe a forlonge way of space
(Right as bees swarmen out of an hyue)
Out of the dyuels erse they gan dryue
Twenty thousande freres on a route
And throughout hel swarmed al aboute
And comen ayen, as faste as they might gon
And into his erse they crepten euerychon
He clapte hys tayle ayen, and lay styl.
¶This frere, whan he loked had his fyl
Vpon the turmentes of thys sory place
His spyrite god restored of hys grace
Vnto hys body ayen, and he awoke
But natheles, yet for fere he quoke
So was the dyuels erse aye in hys mynde
That is his heritage of very kynde
God saue you al, saue this cursed frere
My prologue wol I ende in this manere.

¶Here endeth the Sompners pro∣logue, and foloweth his tale.
[illustration]

LOrdynges ther is in Yorkshyre as I gesse
A marshy countrey called Hol∣dernesse
In whiche there went a lymy∣tour aboute
To preach, and eke to begge, it is no doute
And so byfel that on a day thys frere
Had preched in a church in his manere
And specially abouen euery thyng
Exited he the people in hys prechyng
To trentals, and to yeuen for goddes sake
Page  [unnumbered]wherwith men mighte holy houses make
There as diuyne seruyce is honoured
Not there as it is wasted and deuoured
Ne there it nedeth not for to be yeuen
As to possesseioners that mowen els lyuen
Thonked be god, in wele and haboundaunce
Trentals delyuereth (sayde he) fro penaunce
Her frendes soules, as wel olde as yonge
If that they by hastely isonge
Not for to holde a preest ioly and gay
(He syngeth not but one messe a day)
Delyuereth out ({quod} he) anon the soules
Ful harde it is with fleshe hoke or wt oules
To ben yelawed, or to brenne or bake
Nowe spedeth you hastely for Christes sake.
And whan this frere had said al his entent
with qui cum patre, forthe hys way he went
whē folke ī church, had yeue him what hē lest
He went his way, no enger wolde he rest
with scryppe & typped staffe, ytucked hye
In euery house he gan to pore and prye
And begged mele and chese, or els come
His felowe had a slasse typped with horne
A payre of tables al of Iuory
And a poyntel polished fetously
And wrote alway the names as he stoode
Of al folke, that yaue hym any goode
Askaunce as he wolde for hem prey
Yeue vs a bushel wheate, malte or rey
A goddes kychel, or a tryppe of chese
Or els what ye lyst, I may not chese
A goddes halfpeny, or a masse peny
Or yeue vs of your brawne, yf ye haue any
A dagon of your blanket, leue dame
Our suster dere, lo here I write your name
Bacon or befe, or suche thyng as ye fynde
A sturdy harlot went hem ay behynde
That was her hostes man, and bare a sacke
And that mē yaue hem, layde it on his backe
And whan he was out at the dore anone
He planed away the names euerychone
That he before had written in his ables
He serued hem with nyles and with fables
¶Nay there thou lyest Sōpner ({quod} the frere)
Peace ({quod} our host) for Christes mother dere
Tel forthe thy tale, and spare it not at al
So thrine I {quod} the Sompner, so I shal
¶So longe he went fro hous to house til he
Came to an house, ther as he was wont to be
Refreshed more than in an hundred placis
Sicke lay the good man, whose the place is
Bedred vpon a couche lowe he lay
Deus hic ({quod} he) O Thomas frend good day
Sayd this frere, curtessy and softe
Thomas god yelde it you, ful ofte
Haue I vpon this benche faren ful wele
Here haue I eaten many a mery mele
And fro the benche he droue away the catte
And layde adowne hys potent and his hatte
And eke his scryppe, & set hym softe adowne
His felowe was go walked in to the towne
Forthe with his knaue, in to that hostelrye
where as he shope him that ilke night to lye.
¶O dere maister, quod this syke man
Howe haue ye faren sythen Marche began
I sawe you not this fourtenight and more.
¶God wot ({quod} he) laboured haue I ful sore
And specially for thy saluacion
Haue I sayd many a preciouse orison
And for our other frendes▪ god hem blesse
I haue this day ben at your churche at messe
And sayd a sermon, after my symple wytte
Not al after the text of holy writte
For it is harde to you, as I suppose
And therfore I wol teche you al the glose
Glosyng is a glorious thyng certayne
For letter sleeth, as we clerkes sayne
There haue I hem taught to ben charitable
And spende her good there as it is resonable
And there I sawe our dame, a where is she?
¶Yonder in the yerde, I trowe she be
Sayd thys man, and she wol come anon
¶Eye mayster welcom ye be by saynt Iohn
Sayd this wyfe, howe fare ye hertely?
¶This frere aryseth vp ful curtessy
And her enbraseth in his armes narowe
And kysseth herswetely, & cherketh as a spa∣rowe
wt his lippes, dame ({quod} he) right wele
As he that is your seruaunt euery dele
Thanked be god, that you yaue soule & lyfe
Yet sawe I not this day so fayre a wife
In al the churche, so god saue me
Ye god amende al fautes syr ({quod} she)
Algates welcome ye be, by my fay
Graūt mercy dame, yt haue I foūde alway
But of your great goodnesse, by your leue
I wol pray you, that ye not you greue
I wol with Thomas speke a lytel throwe
These curates ben ful neglygent & slowe
To gropen tenderly a mannes conscience
In schrift, & in prechyng is my diligence
And to studye on Peters wordes & Poules
I walke to fyshe christen mennes soules
To yelde Iesu Christ his propre rent
Page  xlviTo sprede hys wordes, is al myne entent.
¶Nowe by your leue dere mayster ({quod} she)
Chydeth hym wel for saynt charite
He is as angry as a pysse myre
Though that he haue al that he can desyre
Though I hī wry anight, & make hī warme
And ouer hym lay my legge or myne arme
He groneth lyke our bore yt lyeth in the stye
Other dysporte of hym ryght none haue I
I may not please hym in no maner caas
O Thomas, ie vo{us} die, Thomas Thomas
This maketh ye fende, this must ben amēded
Ire is a thynge that god hyghly defended
And therof wol I speake a worde or two.
¶Now mayster ({quod} the wyfe) er that I go
what wol ye dyne? I wol go ther aboute.
Now dame ({quod} he) i vous die sans doute
Haue I not of a capon but the lyuer
And of your whyte breed, but a shyuer
And after that a rosted pygges heed
(But I nolde not for me no beest were deed)
Then had I ynowe for my suffysaunce
I am a man of lytel sustinaunce
My spirite hath hys fosteryng in the byble
My body is aye so redy and so penyble
To wake, that my body is dystroyde
I pray you dame, be ye nought anoyde
Though I so frendly you my coūsaile shewe
By god, I nolde haue tolde it but a fewe.
¶Nowe syr ({quod} she) but one worde er ye go
My chylde is deed, within these wekes two
Sone after that ye wente out of thys toun
Hys death sawe I by reuelacioun
Sayd thys frere, at home in our dortoure
I dare wel sayne, er that halfe an houre
After hys death, I sawe hym borne to blysse
In myne auisioun, god me so wysse
So dyd our sexten, and our fermerere
That han ben true freres thys fyftye yere
They may now, god be thanked of hys lone
Maken he iubely, and waken alone
And vp I arose, and al our couente eke
wyth many a teere tryllynge on our cheke
wythouten noyse or claterynge of belles
Te deum was our songe, and nothinge elles
Saue that to Christ I sayd an orison
Thankynge hym of my reuelacion
For syr and dame, trusteth me ryght wel
Our orisons ben more effectuel
And more we sene of Christes secret thinges
Thē borel folke, although they were kynges
we lyue in pouerte, and in abstinence
And borel folke in rychesse and dyspence
In meate & drynke, and in her foule delyte
we han thys worldly luste al in dyspyte
Lazar and Diues, lyueden dyuersly
And dyuers guerdons had they therby
who so wol pray, he muste faste & be clene
And fatte hys soule, & make hys body lene
we fare as sayth the apostle, cloth and foode
Suffyseth vs, though they be not ful goode
The clennesse & the fastynge of vs freres
Maketh that Christ accepteth our prayeres.
¶Lo Moyses, fourty dayes & fourty nyght
Fasted, er that the hye god of hys myght
Spake wyth hym in the mounte of Synay
wyth empty wombe, fastynge many a day,
Receyued he the lawe, that was wrytten
wyth goddes fynger, & Hely wel ye witten
In mount Horeb, er he had any speche
wyth the hygh god, that is our soules leche
He fasted longe, and was in contemplaunce.
¶Aaron, yt had the temple in gouernaunce
And eke the other prestes euerychone
Into the temple when they shulde gone
To prayen for the people, and done seruyce
They nolde drynke in no maner wyse
No drynke, that dronke myght hem make
But there in abstinence praye and wake
Lest that they deden take hede what I saye
But they be sobre that for the people praye
ware that I saye, no more for it suffyseth
Our lorde Iesu, as holy wryte deuyseth
Yaue vs ensample of fastynge and prayers
Therfore we mendicantes, we sely freres
Ben wedded to pouerte and continence
To charite, humblenesse, and abstinence
To persecution for ryghtwysnesse
To wepynge, mysericorde and clennesse
And therfore maye ye se that our prayeres
(I speke of vs mendicant, we freres)
Ben to the hye god more acceptable
Then yours, wyth your feest at your table.
¶Fro Paradyse fyrst, yf I shal not lye
was man outchased for hys glotonye
And chast was man in paradyse certayn
But herken yow Thomas what I shal sayn
I haue no texte therof, as I suppose
But I fynde it in maner of a glose
That specially our swete lorde Iesus
Spake thys by freres, when he sayd thus
Blessed be they that poore in spirite bene
And so forth al the gospel maye ye sene
whether it be lyker our perfection
Page  [unnumbered]Or hers that swymmen in possession
Fye on her pompe, and on her glotonye
And in her leudnesse, I hem defye
Me thynketh they be lyke Iouinian
Fatte as a whale, and walkynge as a swan
As vinolent as botel in the spene
Her prayers is of ful lytel reuerence
when they for soules say ye psalme of Dauid
Lo bouffe they sayn (Cor meum eructauit)
who foloweth Christes gospel & hys loe
But we that humble be, chaste, and poore
werkers of goddes worde, & not auditours
Therfore ryght as an hauke at a sours
Vp spryngeth into the eyre, so prayeres
Of charitable and chast busy freres
Maken her sours to goddes eeres two
Thomas Thomas, so mote I ryde or go
And by that lorde that cleped is saynt Yue
Ne yu our brother were, yu shuldest not thryue
For in our chapiter pray we daye and nyght
To Christ that he the sende helth & myght
Thy body for to welden hastely.
¶God wore {quod} he, nothynge therof fele I
As helpe me Christ, as in fewe yeres
Haue I spended vpon dyuers maner freres
wel many a poūde, yet fare I neuer the bette
Certayne my good haue I almost besette
Fare wel my good, for it is almoste ago.
The frere answered, o Thomas dost yu so?
what nedeth the dyuers freres seche?
what nedeth him that hath a parfyte leche
To sechen other leches in the toun?
Your inconstaunce is your confusioun
Holde ye me then, or els our couent
To prayen for you insufficient?
Thomas, that tape nys not worth a myte
Your maladye is for we haue to lyte
A, yeue that couent halfe a quarter otes
And yeue that couent foure & twenty grotes
And yeue that frere a penny, and let hym go
Nay nay Thomas, it may nothynge be so
what is a ferthyng worth parted in twelue?
Lo, eche thynge that is oned in hym selue
Is more stronge then when it is so scatered
Thomas, of me thou shalt not ben yflatered
Thou wolst haue al our labour for nought
The hye god yt al thys world hath wrought
Sayeth, yt the workman is worthy his hyre
Thomas, nought of your treasoure I desyre
As for my selfe, but that al our couent
To praye for you is aye so dyligent
And for to buylden Christes owne chyrche
Thomas, yf ye wol lerne for to wyrche
Of buyldynge vp of chyrches may ye fynde
Yf it be good, in Thomas lyfe of Inde.
Ye lyggen here ful of anger and of yre
with which ye deuel setteth your hert on fyre
And chyden here thys holy innocent
Your wyfe, that is so meke and pacient
And therfore trowe me Thomas if you leste
Ne chyde not wyth thy wyfe, as for the beste
And beare thys worde awaye by thy fayth
Touchinge such thing, lo what ye wyse sayth
wythin thy house be thou no lyon
To thy subiectes do thou none oppression
Ne make not thyne acquayntaunce to ••e
And yet Thomas, eftsones charge I the
Beware of her that in thy bosome slepeth
ware the of the serpent, that so slyly crepeth
Vnder the grasse, and styngeth ful subtelly
Beware my sonne, and herken paciently
That twēty thousāde mē han lost her lyues
For stryuinge with her lēmans & her wyues
Nowe sens ye haue so holy and meke a wyfe
what nebeth you Thomas to make stryfe?
There nys ywysse no serpent so cruel
(when mē treden on his tayle) ne halfe so fell
As a womā is, whē she hath caught an yre
Vengeaunce is then al her desyre.
¶Ire is a synne, one of the greatest of seuen
Abhominable vnto the hygh god of heuen
And to hym selfe it is a dystruction
Thys euery leude vycare and prson
Can saye, how yre engendreth homecyde
Ire is in soth the executour of pryde
I coulde of yre say so muche sorowe
That my tale shulde last tyl to morowe
And therfore I pray god both daye & nyght
That to an yrous man he sende lytell myght
It is great harme, and eke great pyte
To set an yrous man in hye degre
Whylom there was an yrous potestate
As sayeth Seneke, that durynge hys estate
Vpon a daye out rydden knyghtes two
And as fortune wolde it shulde be so
That one of hem cam home, yt other nought
Anone the knyght before ye iudge is brought
That said thus: thou hast thy felowe slayne
For whych I deme the to the death certayne
And to another knyght cōmaunded he
Go lede hym to the death I charge the
And it hapned as they went by the wey
Towarde the place where he shulde dey
Page  xlviiThe kniʒt came, which mē wēde had be dede
Then thought they it was the best rede
To lede them both to the iudge agayne
They saydē lorde, the knight hath not slayne
Hys felowe, here he stante hole alyue.
Ye shullen be deed ({quod} he) so mote I thryue
That is to saye, both one, two, and thre,
And to the fyrst knyght, ryght thus spake he.
I dampned the, thou must algate be deed
And thou muste also lese nedes thyne heed
For thou arte cause why thy felowe deyth
And to ye thyrde knyght, ryght thus he seyth
Thou hast not done that I cōmaunded the
And thus he dyd hem slayne al thre.
Irouse C••hyses was eke dronkelewe
And aye dely hym to ben a shrewe
And so byfel a lorde of hys meyne
That loued wel vertuous moralite
Said on a day betwyxt hem two right thus
A lorde is lost, yf he be aught vicious
And dronkennesse eke is a foule recorde
Of any man, and namely of a lorde
There is many an eye and many an eere
Awaytynge on a lorde, he notte where
For goddes loue drynketh more temporatly
wyne maketh a man to lese wretchedly
Hys mynde and hys lymmes euerychone.
¶The reuers shalte thou se ({quod} he) anone
And preue it by thyne owne experience
That wyne ne doth to folke no such offence
There nys no wyne byreueth me my myght
Of honde, of foote, ne of myne eye syght
And for dispyte he dronke mochel more
An hundred tymes then he dyd before
And ryght anone, thys cursed yrouse wretch
Let thys knyghtes sonne byforne him fetch
Cōmaūding him he shulde byforne him stōde
And sodaynly he toke hys bowe in honde
And vp the strynge he pulled to hys eere
And wyth an arowe he slough ye childe there
Now whether haue I a seker hōde or none
{quod} he is al my myght and mynde agone?
Hath wyne byreued me myne eyen syght?
¶what shulde I tel the answere of ye knyght
Hys sōne was slayne, there is no more to say
Beware therfore, wyth lordes howe ye play
Synge Placebo, and I shal yf I can
But yf it be vnto a poore man
To a poore man, one shulde hys vyces tel
But not to a lorde, though he shuld go to hel.
Lo yrous Cirus, thylke Perien
Howe destroyed he the ryuer of Gysen?
For that an horse of hys was dreynt therin
when he went Babylon to wynne
He made that the ryuer was so smal
That men myght ryde and waden ouer al.
¶Lo, what sayd he, that so wel teche can
Ne be no felowe to none yrous man
Ne wyth no wode man walke by the way
Leste thou repente, I wol no farther say.
¶Now thomas leue brother, leaue thyn yre
Thou shalt me fynde as iuste, as is a squyre
Hold not the dyuels knyfe aye in thyne herte
Thyne angre doth the al to sore smerte
But shewe to me al thy confession.
¶Nay ({quod} the sycke man) by saynt Symon
I haue be shryue thys day of my curate
I haue tolde hym al myne estate
It nedeth nomore to speke of it, sayeth he
But yf me lyst, of myne humilite.
yeue me thē of thy gold, to make our cloistre
{quod} he, for many a muskle & many an oystre
when other men haue ben ful wel at ese
Hath ben our foode, our cloystre for to rese
And yet god wote, vnneth the foundament
Parfourmed is, ne of our pauement
Is not a tyle yet wythin our wones
By god we owe fourty pounde for stones
Now helpe thomas, for him ye harowed hell
For els mote we our bokes sell
And yf you lacke our predication
Then goeth thys worlde al to dystruction
For who so wol fro thys worlde vs byreue
So god me saue, Thomas by your leue
He wolde byreue out of this world the sonne
For who can techen & worchen, as we conne
And that is not of lytel tyme ({quod} he)
But syth Helye was, or Helyse
Han freres ben, that fynde I of recorde
In charite, ythanked be our lorde
Now Thomas, for saynt charite
And downe anone he sytteth on hys kne
¶Thys sycke mā woxe nye woode for yre
He wolde the frere had ben a fyre
wyth hys false dyssimulation
Suche thynges as ben in my possessyon
({quod} he) that may I yeue, and none other
Ye sayn me thus, howe yt I am your brother
Ye certes ({quod} thys frere) trusteth me wele
I toke our dame our lettre and our sele.
¶Nowe ({quod} he) wel, & somwhat shal I yeue
Vnto your holy couent whyle I lyue
Page  [unnumbered]And in thyne honde, thou shal it haue anone
On thys condicion, and other none
That thou departe it so, my leue brother
That euery frere, haue as moche as other
Thys shalt thou swere on thy profession
wythout fraude or cauelacion.
¶I swere it ({quod} the trere) by my faythe
And therwithal hys hande in hys he laythe
Lo here my faythe, in me shalbe no lacke.
¶Then put thyne hāde downe by my backe
Sayd thys man, and grope well behynde
Byneth my buttocke, there thou shalt fynde
A thynge, that I haue hydde in priuyte
Ah, thought the frere, that shal go with me
Adowne he shofth hys honde to the clyste
In hope to fynde there some good gyfte
And when thys sycke man felte thys frere
Aboute hys towel, gropynge here and there
Amyd hys honde, he let the frere & farte
There nys no capel, drawynge in a carte
That myght haue let a farte of such a soun.
¶The frere vp starte, as doth a wode lyon
A false churle ({quod} the frere) for goddes bones
Thys hast thou in dyspyte do, for the nones
Thou shalte abye thys farte, yf I may
Hys meyny, that herde of thys afraye
Came leapyng in, and chased out the frere
And forth he goeth, wyth a ful angry chere
And fette hys felowe, there as laye his store
He loked as he were a wylde bore
He grynted hys teth, so was he wrothe
A sturdy pace, downe to the court he gothe
where as there wōned a mā of great honour
To whom that he was alway confessour
This worthy man was lorde of that vylage
Thys frere came, as he were in a rage
where as thys lorde sate catyng at his borde
Vnnethes myght the frere speke o worde
Tyl at the laste he sayd, god you se.
¶Thys lorde gan loke, and sayd benedicite
what frere Ihō, what maner a world is this
I se wel that somthynge is amys
Ye loke as though ye wod were ful of theues
Syt downe, and tel me what your grefe is
And it shalbe amended, yf that I may.
¶I haue ({quod} he) had a dyspyte to day
God yelde it you, adowne in your village
That in this world, is none so poore a page
That he nolde haue abhominacioun
Of that I haue receaued in your toun
And yet me greueth nothynge so sore
As that the olde churle, wyth lockes hore
Blasphemed hath our holy couent eke.
¶Now mayster ({quod} thys lorde) I you beseke
No mayster syr ({quod} he) but seruitour
Though I hauē had in schole that honour
God lyketh not, that men vs Raby calle
Neyther in market, ne in your large halle
No force ({quod} he) but tel me of your grefe
¶Syr ({quod} thys frere) an odious myschefe
Thys day is betyde, to myne ordre, & to me
And so per consequens to eche degre
Of holy churche, god amende it sone.
Syr ({quod} the lorde) ye wote what is to done
Dystempre you not, ye ben my confessour
Ye ben the salte of the earth, and the sauour
For goddes loue your pacience nowe holde
Telleth me your grefe: & he anone him tolde
As ye han herde before, ye wote well what
The lady of the house, aye styll satte
Tyl she had herde what the frere sayde
Eye goddes mother ({quod} she) & blysful mayde
Is there nought els, tel me faythfully
Madame ({quod} he) howe thynketh ye therby
Howe that me thynketh: so god me spede
I saye a churle hath done a churles dede
what shulde I saye, god let hym neuer the
Hys sycke heed is ful of vanite
I hode hym in a maner of frenesye.
Madame ({quod} he) by god I shal not lye
But I in any wyse may ben on hym awreke
I shal slaunder him ouer al, where I speke
That false blasphemour, that charged me
To parte it, that myght not departed be
To euery man ylyche, wyth myschaunce
The lorde sate styl, as he were in a traū••
And in hys herte he rolled vp and doun
Howe that thys churle had ymaginacioun
To shewe suche a probleme to the frere
Neuer erst or now ne herde I such a matere
I trowe the dyuel put it in hys mynde
In al Arsmetryke, there shal no man fynde
Byforne thys daye, of suche a question
who shulde make a demonstracion?
That euery man shulde ilyke haue his parte
Of a sowne or sauoure of a farte
O nyce proude churle, I shrewe thy face
Lo syrs ({quod} the lorde) with harde grace
Who euer hearde of such a thynge or nowe?
To euery man ylyke tell me howe?
It is an impossyble, it may not be
Ey nyce churle, gyd let hym neuer the
The rumblyge of a farte, and euery sonne
Nys but of eyre reuerberacyoune
Page  xlviiiAnd euer it wasteth lytle and lytle away
There is no man can demen, by my fay
Yf that it were departed equally
what? lo my churle: lo, yet how shreudly
Vnto my confessour to day he spake
I holde hym certayne a demoniake.
Now eteth your meat, & let ye churle go play
Let hym go hongen hym selfe a deuel way.
Now stode the lordes squyer at the borde
That carfe his meate, & herd word by worde
Of al thynge of whych I haue you sayde
My lorde ({quod} he) be not euel apayde
I couth tel for a gowne cloth
To you syr frere, so that ye ben not wroth
Howe that thys farte shulde euen ydeled be
Amonges your couent, yf it lyketh the.
Tel on ({quod} ye lorde) & thou shalt haue anon
A gowne clothe, by god and by saynt Ihon
My lorde ({quod} he) when yt the weder is fayre
wythouten wynde, or perturbynge of ayre
Let brynge a carte whele here into thys hall
But loke he haue hys spokes all
Twelue spokes hath a carte whele cōmenly
And brynge me thē .xij. freres, wote ye why?
For thyrtene is a couent as I gesse
your confessour here, for hys worthynesse
Shal perfourme vp the nombre of his couēt
Thē shullē they knelen adowne by one assēt
And to euery spokes ende, in thys manere
Ful sadly lay hys nose shal a frere
Your noble confessour there, god him saue
Shal holde hys nose vpryght vnder ye naue
Then shal this churle, wt bely styffe & tought
As any tabour, hyther ben ybrought
And set him on the whele, right of this carte
Vpon the naue, & make hym let a farte
And ye shullen se, vp peryl of my lyfe
By prefe, whych is demonstratyfe
That equally the sowne of it wyl wende
And eke the stynke, vnto the spokes ende
Saue yt thys worthy man your confessour
(Bycause he is a man of great honour)
Shal haue the fyrst frutes, as reson is
The noble vsage of freres yet is thys.
The worthest mā of hem shul fyrst be serued
And certaynly, he hath it wel deserued
He hath to day taught vs so moch good
wyth prechynge in the pulpet there he stood
That I may vouchsafe, I saye for me
He had the fyrst smel of fartes thre
And so wolde al hys brethren hardely
He beareth hym so fayre and holyly.
¶The lord, ye lady, & eche man, saue ye frere
Sayd that Iankyn spake in thys matere
As wel as Ouyde dyd or Ptholome
Touchynge the churles sayd subtylte
And hye wytte made hym speke as he spake
He nys no foole, ne no demoniake
And Iankyn hath ywonne a newe gowne
My tale is done, we ben almoste at towne.

¶Here endeth the Sompners tale, and here foloweth the clerke of Oxenfordes prologue.

SIr clerke of Oxforde, our hoost sayde
Ye ryde as stil and coye, as doth a mayde
were newe spoused, syttynge at the borde
This day ne herd I of your mouth a worde
I trowe that ye studye about some sophyme
But Salomon sayeth, al thynge hath tyme
For goddes sake, bethe of better chere
It is no tyme now to studye here
Tel vs some mery tale by your faye
For what man is entred into a playe
He nedes mote vnto that playe assent
But precheth not, as freres done in lent
To make vs for our olde synnes to wepe
Ne that thy tale make vs not to slepe
Tel vs some mery thynge of auentures
Your termes, your fygures, & your coloures
Kepe hem in store, tyl so be that ye endyte
Hyghe style, as when men to kynges wryte
Speketh so playne at thys tyme, I you pray
That we may vnderstande what ye say.
¶Thys worthy clerke benyngly answerde
Hoste ({quod} he) I am vnder your yerde
Ye haue of vs as nowe the gouernaunce
And therfore wol I do you obeysaunce
As farre as reason asketh hardely
I wol you tel a tale, whych that I
Lerned at Padowe, of a worthy clerke
As preued is by hys wordes and hys werke
He is now deed, and nayled in hys cheste
I praye to God sende hys soule good reste.
Fraunces Petrarke, the laureat poete
Hyght thys clerke, whose rhetoryke swete
Enlumined al I tayle of poetrye
As Lyuian dyd of Philosophye
Page  [unnumbered]Or lawe, or other arte perticulere
But death ye wol not suffre vs dwellen here
But as it were the twynklynge of an eye
Hem bothe hath slayne, and al we shal dye.
¶But for to tellen of this worthy man
That taught me this tale, as I fyrst began
I say that he fyrst with hye style endyteth
(Or he the body of hys tale writeth)
A proheme, in whiche discriueth he
Piemount, and of Saluce the countre
And speketh of Apenniny the hylles hye
That ben the boundes of west Lumbardye
And of mount Vesulus in special
where as the Poo, out of a wel smal
Taketh hys fyrst spring and hys sours
That estwarde euer increseth in his cours
To Emelle warde, to Ferare, and to Venyse
The whiche a longe tyme were to deuyse
And truly, as to my iugement
Me thynketh it a thyng inpartinent
Saue that hym lyste conuey hys matere
But this is his tale as ye shullen here.

¶Here endeth the prologue of the clerke of Oxenforde, and here foloweth hys tale.
[illustration]

THere is, in the west syde of Itayle
Down at the rote of Vesu∣lus the colde
A lusty playne, habundaunt of vitayle
wher many a town & tour thou maist behold
That founded were, in tyme of fathers olde
And many a nother delectable syght
And Saluces, this noble countre hight
A Markes whylom was in that londe
As were his worthy elders hym byfore
And obeysaunt aye redy to hys honde
were al hys lieges, bothe lesse and more
Thus in delyte he lyued, and hath done yore
Beloued & drad, through fauour of fortune
Bothe of his lordes and of hys commune
Therwith he was, as to speke of lynage
The gentylest yborne of al Lomberdy
A fayre person, & stronge, and yong of age
And ful of honour and curtesye
Discrete ynowe, his countre for to gye
Saue in some thynges he was to blame
And walter was this yonge lordes name
I blame him thus, that he consydred nou••
In tyme cōmyng, what hym might betyde
But on his lust present was al his thought
And for to hauke and hunt on euerysyde
welny al other cures lette he slyde
And eke he ne wolde, that was worst of al
wedde no wife, for ought that myght befal
Page  xlix
Onely that poynt hys people bare so sore
That flockmele on a day to hym they went
And one of hem, that wisest was of lore
(Or els that the lorde wolde best assent
That he shulde tel him what his people mēt
Or els coude he shewe suche matere)
He to the Markes sayd, as ye shullen here.
¶O noble Marques, your humanyte
Assureth vs, and yeueth vs hardynesse
As ofte tyme as is necessyte
That we may to you tel our heuynesse
Accepteth lorde of your gentylnesse
That we to you with pitous hert playne
And lette your eares nat my voice disdayne
Al haue I nat to done in this matere
More than another hath in this place
Yet for as moche, as ye my lorde so dere
Haue alway shewed me fauour and grace
I dare the better aske of you a space
Of audience, to shewen our requeste
And ye my lorde to done right as you leste
For certes lorde: so wel vs lyketh you
And al your werkes, & euer haue don, ye we
Ne coulde our owne selfe deuysen howe
we myght more lyuen in felycite
Saue one thyng lorde, yf it your wyl be
That for to be a wedded man, you lest
Thā were your people in souerayn hertes
Boweth your necke vnder the blisful yoke
Of soueraynte, and not of seruyse
whiche men clepen spousayle or wedloke
And thīketh lord, amōg your thoughtes wise
Howe that our dayes passen in sundrie wyse
For though we slepe or wake, ronne, or ryde
ye leeth the tyme, it wol no man abyde
And though your grene youthe floure, as yet
In crepeth age alway as styl as stone
And dethe manaseth euery age, and smyte
In eche estate, for there escapeth none
And also certayn, as we knowen echone
That we shul dye, & vncertayne we al
Ben of that day, that dethe shal on vs fal
Accepteth than of vs the trewe entent
That neuer yet refused your heste
And we wol al lorde, yf ye wol assent
Chefe you a wyfe in shorte tyme, at the lest
Borne of the gentillest and of the meste
Of al this londe, so that it aught seme
Honour to god & you, as nere as we cā deme
Delyuer vs out of al this busy drede
And take a wyfe, for hye goddes sake
For yf it so befel, as god forbede
That thorowe dethe, your linage shuld slake
And that a straunge successour shulde take
Your heritage, O, wo were vs on lyue
wherfore we pray you hastely to wyue.
¶Her meke prayere and her pytouse chere
Made the Maikes for to haue pyte
wol ye ({quod} he) myne owne people dere
To that I neuer erst thought, constrayne me
I me reioyced of my lyberte
That selden tyme is founde in mariage
There I was free, I mote ben in seruage
But natheles, I se your true entente
And trust vpon your wytte, & haue done aye
wherfore of my fre wyl I wol assente
To wedden me, as sone as euer I may
But there, as ye haue profred me to day
To chese me a wyfe, I you relese
That choyce, and pray you of that profer cese
For god it wote, that children ofte been
Vnlyke her worthy elders, hem before
Bounte cometh al of god, & nat of the streen
Of whiche they ben engendred and ibore
I trust in goddes bounte, and therfore
My mariage, myne estate, and rest
I hym be take, he may don as hym lest
Lette me alone in chesynge of my wyfe
That charge vpon my backe I wol endure
But I you pray, and charge vpon your lyfe
That what wyfe I take, ye me ensure
To worship her, whiles her lyfe may dure
In worde and werke, here, and els where
As she an Emperours doughter were
And furthermore, thus shal ye swere, yt ye
Ayenst my choyce shal neuer grutch ne stryue
For sythe I shal for go my lyberte
At your request, as euer mote I thryue
There as myn hert is set, there wol I wyue
And but ye wol assent, in suche manere
I pray you speketh no more in this matere
Page  [unnumbered]
With herty wyl they sworen and assent
To al this thyng, there sayd no wight nay
Besechyng hym of grace er they went
That he wolde hem graunt a certayn day
Of his spousaile, as soone as euer he may
For yet alway the people somwhat dredde
Lest this Markes wolde no wyfe wedde
He graunted hem a day, suche as him lest
On whiche he wolde be wedded sekerly
And sayd he dyd al this at her request
And they with humble entent ful buxomly
Knelyng vpon her knees ful reuerently
Hym thonked al, and thus they han an ende
Of her entent, and home ayen they wende
And here vpon he toke his offycers
Commaundyng for the feest to puruay
And to his priuy knyghtes and squyers
Suche charge yaue, as he lyst on hem lay
And they to his cōmaundement obey
And eche of hem dothe hys dilygence
To done to the feest reuerence.

¶Explicit pars prima: et incipit pars secunda.

NOught ferre fro thylke place ho∣norable
where as this Markes shope hys mariage
There stode a thrope, of syght ful delectable
In whiche poore folke of that village
Hadden her beestes and herygage
And of her labour toke her sustenaunce
After that the erthe yaue hem habundaunce
Amōge this poore folke, ther dwelled a mā
which that was holden poorest of hem all
But hye god somtyme sende can
His grace vnto a lytel oxe stall
Ianycola, men of that thrope hym cal
A doughter had he, fayre ynough to syght
And Grisylde this yonge mayden hyght
But for to speke of vertuous beaute
Than was she one the fayrest vnder sonne
And ful poorely yfostred was she
No lykerouse lust was in her herte ironne
wel ofter of the wel than of the tonne
She dronke, and for she wolde vertue plese
She knewe wel laboure, but not ydel ese
But though this mayde were tender of age
Yet in the brest of her virginite
There was enclosed, sadde and rype corage
And in great reuerence and charyte
Her olde poore father fostred she
A fewe shepe spynnyng on the felde she kept
She wolde not ben idel tyl she slept
And whā she homward came, she wold bring
wortes and herbes, tymes ful ofte
which she shradde & sethe for her lyuyng
And made her bedde ful hard, & nothing softe
And aye she kepte her fathers lyfe on lofte
with euery obeysaunce and dilygence
That childe might do to the fathers reuerēce
¶Vpon Grisylde the poore creature
wel ofte hath the Markes sette his eye
As he an huntyng rode parauenture
And whan it fel, that he myght her aspye
He (not with wanton lokyng of solye)
His eyen caste vpon her, but in sadde wyse
Vpon her chere, he wolde him ofte auyse
Commending in his herte her womāhode
And eke her vertue, passyng euery wyght
Of so yonge age, as wel in chere as in dede
For though the people haue no great insyght
In vertue he consydred ful ryght
Her bounte, and disposed that he wolde
Her wedde, yf he euer wedde shulde.
The day of weddyng com, but no wight cā
Tel, what woman it shulde be
For whiche maruaile, wondred many a man
And sayden, whan they were in her priuete
wol not our lorde yet leaue his vanyte
wol he not wedde, alas alas the whyle
why wol he thus him selfe and vs begyle
But nathelesse this Markes hath do make
Of gemmes, set in golde and in asure
Broches and rynges, for Grisyldes sake
And of her clothyng, toke he the mesure
Of a mayden lyke to her statute
And eke of other ornamentes al
That to suche a weddyng shulde fal
The tyme of vndren, in the same day
Approched, that the weddyng shulde be
Page  LAnd al the paleys put was in array
Bothe halle and chambre, eche in his degre
Houses of offyces stuffed with great plente
There mayste thou se of daynteous vitayle
That may be founde, as fer as lasteth Itayle
This royal Markes, rychely arayde
Lordes and ladyes in his companye
The which that to the feest were prayde
And of his retinue the bachelery
with many a sowne of sondrie melodye
Vnto the village, of which I tolde
In this aray, the right way hath holde.
¶Grisylde (god wotte of this ful innocent
That for her was shape al this array)
To fetche water at a wel went
And cometh home as sone as euer she may
For wel she herde say, that ylke day
That ye Markes shuld wedde, & if she might
She wolde fayne seen some of that syght
She thought: I wold wt other maydens stōde
That ben my felowes in our dre and se
The Markes, and therto wol I fonde
To done at home, as sone as it may be
The labour, which that longeth to me
And than may I at leyser it beholde
If she the way to the castel holde
And as she wolde ouer the thresholde gon
The Markes came, and gan her for to call
And she sette downe her water potte anon
Besyde the thresholde of the ore stal
And downe vpon her knees she gan to fal
And with sadde countenaunce kneled styl
Tyl she had herde what was the lordes wyl
This thoughtful Markes spake to ye mayd
wel soberly, and sayd in this manere
where is your father Grisylde, he sayd?
And she with reuerence and meke chere
Answerde, lorde he is al redy here
And in she gothe, without lenger lette
And to the Markes she her father fette
He by the honde than toke this olde man
And sayd thus, whan he had hym asyde
Ianycola, I neyther may ne can
Lenger the pleasaunce of myne herte hyde
If that thou vouchsafe, what so euer betyde
Thy doughter wol I take, or that I wende
As for my wyfe, to my lyues ende
Thou louest me, I wotte wel certayne
And arte my faythful liege man ybore
And al that lyketh me, I dare wel sayne
It lyketh the, and specially therfore
Tel me that poynte, that I haue said before
If that thou wolt to this purpose drawe?
To take me for thy sonne in lawe
¶This sodayne case, the man astoned so
That reed he wext abashed, & al quakyng
He stode, ne vnneth sayd he wordes mo
But onely thus ({quod} he) lorde my wyllyng
Is as ye wol, ne ayenst your lykyng
I wol nothyng, ye be my lorde so dere
Right as you lyste, gouerne this matere
Than wol I thus ({quod} this Markes) sothly
That in thy chambre, I, you, and she
Haue a collation, and wost thou why?
For I wol aske her, yf her wyl be
To be my wyfe, and rule her after me
And al this shal she done in thy presence
I wol not speke out of thyn audyence
And in the chambre, while they were about
The treties, whiche ye shal after here
The people came into the house without
And wondred hem, in how honest manere
So tentifly she kept her father dere
But vtterly Grisylde wonder myght
For neuer erste sawe she suche a syght
No wonder is though she be astoned
To se so great a gest come into that place
She was neuer to suche gestes woned
For which she loked with ful pale face
But shortly fro this mater for to pace
These weren the wordes yt the Markes sayd
To this benygne and very faythful mayde
¶Grisylde he said, ye shal wel vnderstonde
It lyketh vnto your father and me
That I you wedde, and eke it may so stonde
As I suppose, that ye wol that it so be
But these demaundes I aske fyrst ({quod} he)
That sythen it shal be done in hasty wyse
wol ye therto assent, or els you auyse
I say thus, be ye redy with good herte
To al my luste, and that I frely may
Page  [unnumbered]As me best liketh, though ye laugh or smerte
And neuer ye to grutche, nyght ne day
whan I say ye, that ye say not ones nay
Neyther in word, ne by frowning coūtenāce
Swere this, & here I swere our aliaunce
¶Wōdryng vpō these wordes, quakyng for drede
She said: lorde, indigne & vnworthy
Am I, to thylke honour that ye me bede
But right as ye wol, so wol I
And here I swere, that neuer wyllyngly
In word, werke, ne thouʒt, I nil you disobey
For to be deed, though me were loth to dey.
¶This is ynough Grisylde myne ({quod} he)
And forthe he gothe with a sobre chere
Out at the dore, and after came she
And to the people, he said in this manere
This is my wyfe ({quod} he) that stondeth here
Honoureth her, & loueth her, I you pray
who so me loueth, there nys no more to say
And for that no thyng of her olde gere
She shulde bring in to his house, he badde
That women shulde dispoyle her right there
Of which these ladyes were nothing gladde
To hādle her clothes, in which she was clad
But nathelesse, thys mayden bright of hewe
Fro foote to heed they clothed han al newe
Her heer han they kembed, yt laye vntressed
Ful rudely, and with her fyngres smale
A crowne on her heed they han idressed
And set it ful of ouches great and smale
Of her array, what shulde I make a tale
Vnneth the people her knew for her fairnesse
whan she transfourmed was in such richesse
¶This Markes hath her spoused wt a ringe
Bought for the same cause, & than her set
Vpon an horse snowe white, wel amblynge
And to his paleys, or he lenger let
with ioyful people, that her ladde and met
Conueyed her, & thus the day they spende
In reuel, tyl the sonne gan discende
And shortly forthe this tale for to chace
I saye, that to this newe Markessesse
God hath ysent suche fauour of hys grace
That it semed not, as by her lykelynesse
That she was borne and fedde in rudenesse
As in a cote, or in an oxe stal
But norished in an emperoures hal
To euery wight, she woxen is so dere
And worship ful, ye folke ther as she was bore
And fro her byrthe, knewe her yere by yere
Vnneth trowed they, but durst haue swore
That to Ianycola, of whiche I spake before
She doughter nas, for as by coniecture
Hem thought she was a nother creature
For though that euer vertuous was she
She was encreased in suche excellence
Of thewes good, set in hye bounte
And so discrete, and fayre of eloquence
So benygne, and digne of reuerence
And coulde the peoples hertes so enbrace
That eche her loued that loked in her face
Not onely of Saluce in the town
Publyshed was the bountie of her name
But eke besyde, in many a regioun
If one sayd wel, an other sayd the same
So spradde of her bountie the same
That men & women, bothe yonge and olde
Gone to Saluces her to beholde.
¶This walter lowly, and ful royally
Wedded hath wyth fortunate honeste
In goddes peace: lyueth ful easely
At whom, & outwarde grace ynough had he
And for he sawe that vnder lowe degre
was honest vertue hyd, the people him helde
A prudent man, and that is sene wel selde.
¶Not only this Grisylde, through her wyt
Couthe al the feate of wyfely humblesse
But eke, whan the case required it
The comen profyte coulde she redresse
There nas discorde, rancour, ne heuynesse
In al the londe, that she ne couthe apese
And bring hem al wysely in rest and ese
Though her husbond absent were or none
If gentylmen, or other of her countre
were wrothe, she wolde bring hem at one
So wyse and rype wordes had she
And iugement of so great equite
That she fro heuen sent was, as men wende
People to saue, & euery wronge to amende.
¶Not longe tyme after this Grisylde
Was wedded, she a doughter had ybore
Page  liAl had she leuer haue borne a man chylde
Glad was ye Markes and his folke therfore
For though a mayde chylde came al before
She may to a man chylde attayne
By lykelyhode, sythens she is not barayne.

¶Explicit pars secunda: et incipit pars tertia.

THere fel, as it befalleth oft ty∣mes mo
Whā that this childe had suc∣ked but a throwe
This Markes in his herte lō∣ged so
To tempte hys wyfe, her sadnesse to knowe
That he ne myght out of hys herte throwe
This marueylous desyre, hys wyfe to assaye
Nedelesse god wot, he thought her to affray
He had assayed her ynoughe before
And fonde her euer good, what nedeth it
Her for to tempte & alway more and more
Though some man praise it for a subtyl wyt
But as for me, I say ful yuel it syt
To assay a wyfe, whan that it is no nede
And put her in anguyshe and in drede
For which this Markes wrouʒt in this ma¦nere
He came alone a nyght there as she lay
with sterne face, and right vgly chere
And sayd thus: Grisylde ({quod} he) that day
That I the toke out of thy poore aray
And put the in estate of hye noblesse
Thou hast not that forgoten, as I gesse
I say Grisylde, the present dignyte
In whiche I haue put the, as I trowe
Maketh not the foryetful for to be
That I the toke in poore astate ful lowe
For any wele, thou must thy selfe knowe
Take hede of euery worde what I sey
There is no wight that hereth but we twey
Thou wottest thy self, how yt thou came here
In to this house, it is not longe ago
And though to me thou be both lefe and dere
Vnto my gentyls thou art nothyng so
They say, to hem it is great shame and wo
For to ben subiette and ben in seruage
To the, that borne arte in so smal a village
And namely syth thy doughter was ybore
These wordes haue they spoken doutles
But I desyre, as I haue done byfore
To lyue my lyfe with hem, in rest and pees
I may not in this case be recheles
I mote done with thy doughter, for the best
Not as I wolde, but as my gentyls lest
And yet god wote, this is ful lothe to me
But nathelesse without thy wetyng
I wol naught do, but thus I wol ({quod} he)
That thou to me assent, as in thys thyng
Shewe nowe thy pacience, in thy werkyng
That thou me hight & swore in our village
That day that maked was our mariage
¶whā she had herde al this, she not ameued
Neyther in word, in chere, ne in coūtenaunce
For as it semed, she was not agreued
She sayd lorde, al lyeth in your plesaunce
My childe and I, with hertely obeysaunce
Ben yours al, and ye may saue or spyl
with your owne, worketh your owne wyll
There may nothyng, so god my soule saue
Lykyng to you, that may displese me
Ne I desyre nothyng for to haue
Ne drede for to lese, saue onely ye
This wil is in my herte, and aye shal be
No length of tyme, or deth it may deface
Neyther chāge my corage into another place
¶Glad was the Markes of her answering
But yet he fayned as he were not so
Al drery was his chere, and his lokyng
whan that he shulde out of the chambre go
Sone after thys, a forlonge way or two
He priuely had tolde al his entent
Vnto a man, and to his wyfe him sent
In maner of a sergeāt was this priuy mā
The which he faithful ofte founde had
In thynges great, & eke suche folke wel can
Done execucyon of thynges badde
The lorde knewe wel, he him loued & dradde
And whan this sergeant wyst his lordes wil
In to the chambre he stalked hym ful styl
¶Madame he sayd, ye mote foryeue it me
Page  [unnumbered]Though I do thing, which I am cōstrayned
Ye be ful wyse, and ful wel knowe ye
That lordes hestes may not be fayned
They may wel bewayled and complayned
But men muste nedes vnto her luste obey
And so wol I, there nis no more to sey
This childe I am cōmaunded to take
And spake no more, but vp the chylde he hent
Dispitously, and gan a chere to make
As though he wolde haue slayne it or he wēt
Grisylde must al suffre, and consent
And as a lambe, she sytteth meke and styl
And let this cruel sergeaunt do his wyl
¶Suspecte was the fame of this man
Suspecte his face, suspecte hys worde also
Suspecte the tyme in whiche he this began
Alas her doughter, that she loued so
She wende he wold haue slayne it right tho
But nathelesse, she neyther wepte ne syked
Confyrmyng her to that the Markes lyked
But at the laste to speke she began
And mekely she the sergeaunt prayde
(So as he was a worthy gentilman)
That she might kysse her chylde er yt it deyde
And in her barme, this lytel chylde she leyde
with ful sadde face, and gan the chylde blysse
And lulled it, and after gan it kysse
And thus she sayd in her benygne voyce
Farwel my chylde, I shal the neuer se
But sythen I haue marked yu with the croyce
Of thylke father yblessed mote thou be
That for vs dyed vpon the rode tree
Thy soule lytel chylde, I him betake
For this nyght shalte thou dyen for my sake
¶I trowe that to a norice in thys caas
It had ben harde, this routhe for to se
Wel might a mother than crye alas
But nathelesse, so sadde and stedfast was she
That she endured al her aduersyte
And to the sergeaunt mekely she sayde
Haue here ayen your lytel yonge mayde
And goth now ({quod} she) & doth my lordes hest
And o thing wolde I pray you of your grace
But yf my lorde forbyd it you at the leste
Buryeth this lytel body in some place
That no beestes ne byrdes it do race
But he no worde to that purpose wolde say
But toke the childe, and went anon his way.
This sergeaunt came to the lorde agayne
And of Grisyldes wordes, and of her chere
He tolde him worde by word, short & playne
And him presented with his doughter dere
Somwhat this lord had routh ī his manere
But nathelesse, his purpose helde he styl
As lordes done, whā they wol haue her wyl
And badde the sergeaunt that ful priuely
He shuld this child wel soft wynd & wrappe
with al the circumstaunce tenderly
And cary it in a cofre, or in a lappe
But on payne of hys heed of to swappe
That no man shulde knowe of his entent
Ne whence he came, ne whyther he went
But at Boleyne▪ to his suster dere
That thilke tyme of Pauye was countesse
He shulde it take, and shewe her this matere
Besechyng her to done her busynesse
This childe to fostre in al gentylnesse
And whose chylde yt it was, he bade her hyde
From euery wight, for ought ye might betyde
This sergeaunt gothe, and hathe fulfylled thys thyng
But to thys Markes nowe retourne we
For nowe gothe he ful ofte ymaginyng
If by his wyues chere, he myght se
Or by her wordes, perceyue that she
were chaunged, but he neuer coulde fynde
But euer in one ilyke sadde and kynde
As glad, as humble, as busy in seruyse
And eke in loue, as she was wont to be
was she to hym, in euery maner wyse
Ne of her doughter one worde spake she
None accident, for none aduersyte
Was sene in her, ne neuer her doghters name
Nempned she, for ernest ne for game.

¶Explicit tertia pars: et inci∣pit pars quarta.

IN thys estate, passed ben foure yere
Er she wyth chylde was, but as god wolde
A man chylde she bare by this waltere
Page  liiwel gracious, and fayre to beholde
And when folke it to the father tolde
Not onely he, but al the countre merye
was for the chyld, & god they thonke & herye
when it was two yere olde, & from the brest
Departed from hys noryce on a daye
Thys Markes caught yet another lest
To tempten hys wyfe efte sones, yf he maye
Onedelesse was she tēpted, I dare wel saye
But wedded men ne conne no mesure
when they fynde a pacient creature
wyfe ({quod} this Markes) ye haue herd or this
My people heuely bareth our mariage
And namely sythen my sonne borne is
Now is it worse then euer in our age
The murmure sleeth my herte & my corage
For to myne eeres cometh ye voyce so smerte
That it wel nye destroyed hath my herte.
Now say they thus, whē walter is agone
Then shal the bloode of Iamcula succede
And ben our lorde, for other haue we none
Suche wordes say my people, it is no drede
wel ought I of suche murmure take hede
For certaynly I drede suche sentence
Though they not playnly speke ī my audiēce
I wolde lyue in peace, yf that I myght
wherfore I am dysposed vtterly
As I hys syster serued by nyght
Ryght so I thynke to serue hym priuely
Thus warne I you, that ye not sodeynly
Out of your selfe, for no wo shulde outraye
Beth pacient, and therof I you praye.
I haue ({quod} she) sayd, and euer shal
I wol yl nothynge certayne
But as you lyst: Nought greueth me at al
Though yt my doughter & my sōne be slayne
At your cōmaundement: thys is to sayne
I haue had no parte of chyldren twayne
But fyrst sycknesse, & after wo and payne.
Ye ben our lord, doth wt your owne thyng
Ryght as you lyste, and taketh no rede of me
For as I lefte at home my clothyng
when I came fyrst to you, ryght so ({quod} she)
Lefte I my wyll, and al my lyberte
And toke your clothing: wherfor I you pray
Do your wyl, I wol to it obey
And certes, yf I had prescience
Your wyl to knowe, er ye your lust me tolde
I wolde it done, wythout negligence
But now I wote your lust, & what ye wolde
Al your plesaunce, fyrme & stable I holde
For wyste I yt my death wolde done you ese
Gladly wolde I suffre it you to please.
Death may make no comparisoun
Vnto your loue: And whē thys Markes say
The constaūce of hys wyfe, he cast adoun
Hys eyen two: and wondred how she may
In suche pacience, suffreth al thys array
And forth he goeth, wyth drery countenaūce
But to hys herte, it was ful great pleasaūce.
Thys eygre sergeant, in the same wyse
That he her doughter caught, ryght so he
Or worse, yf he coulde werse deuyse
Hath hente her sonne, yt was ful of beaute
And euer in one so pacient was she
That she no chere made of heuynesse
But kysseth her chylde, & after gan him blesse
Saue thys she prayd him, yf that he might
Her lytel sonne he wolde in erth graue
Hys tendre lymmes, delycate to syght
Fro foules and fro beastes to saue
But she none answere of hym myght haue
He went hys waye as he nothynge rought
But to Boleyne he tenderly it brought.
This Markes wōdred euer lēger ye more
Vpon her pacience, and yf that he
Ne had sothely knowen there before
That parfytly her chyldren loued she
He wolde haue wende, yt for some subtelte
And of malyce, or cruel corage
That she had suffred thys wt sadde vysage.
But he knewe wel, yt next hym selfe certayne
She loued her chyldren best, in euery wyse
But now of women wolde I aske fayne
Yf these assayes mayght not suffyse
what coulde a sturdy husbonde more deuyse
To preue her wyfehode, & her stedfastnesse
But be contynuynge euer in sturdynesse
But there be folke of suche condicion
That whē they han a certayne purpose take
They couth not stynte of her entencion
But as they were bounden to a stake
Page  [unnumbered]They wol not of that purpose slake
Ryght so thys Markes, hath fully purposed
To tēpte hys wyfe, as he was fyrst dysposed
He wayteth, yf by wordes or coūtenaunce
She were to hym chaunged of corage
But neuer coulde he fynde variaunce
She was aye in one herte and vysage
And euer the further that she was in age
The more truer (yf it were possible)
She was to hym in loue, and more penyble.
For whych it semeth thus, that of hem two
There nas but one wyl: for as walter lest
The same lust was her pleasaunce also
And god be thanked, al fel for the beste
She shewed wel, for no worldly vnreste
A wyfe, as for her selfe, nothynge sholde
wyllen in effecte, but as her husbonde wolde
The sclaūder of walter, wōder wyde sprad
That of cruel herte, ful wretchedly
(For he a poore woman wedded had)
Hath murdred both hys chyldren priuely
which murmure was amonge hem comenly
No wonder was: for to the peoples ere
Ther cāe no word, but yt they murdred were
For whych, there as hys people ther before
had loued him wel, disclaūdred of his defame
Made hem, that they hated hym therfore
To ben a murtherer is an hateful name
But nathelesse, for ernest ne for game
He of hys cruel purpose wolde not stent
To tempt hys wyfe, was al hys entent.
when yt hys doughter .xii. yere was of age
He to the court of Rome, in subtel wyse
(Enfourmed of hys wyl) sent hys message
Cōmaundyng hem, suche bylles to deuyse
As to hys cruel purpose may suffyse
Howe that the pope, for hys peoples reste
Bade hym wedde another, yf that hym leste.
I saye he bade, they shulde countrefete
The popes bulle, makynge mencion
That he hath leue, hys fyrst wyfe to lete
As by the popes dyspensacion
To stynte rancoure and dyscencion
Betwyxt hys people & him, thus spake yt bul
The whych they han publyshed at the full
The rude people, as no wonder nys
wenden ful wel it had ben ryght so
But when these tydynges come to Grisyldes
I deme, that her herte was ful wo
But she was lyche sadde euermo
Dysposed was thys humble creature
The aduersite of fortune to endure
Abydynge euer hys luste & hys pleasaūte
To whome she was yeuen, herte and all
As to her worldly suffysaunce
But certaynly, yf I thys storie tel shal
Thys Markes ywritten hath in special
A letter, in whych he shewed hys entent
And priuely, he it to Boloyne sent
To the erle of Pauy, whych that had the
wedded hys syster: he prayde specially
To bryngen him ayen hys chyldren two
In honorable estate al openly
But one thynge he hym prayde al vtterly
that he to no wight, though mēwold enquire
Shulde tellen whose chyldren they were.
But say yt the mayden shulde wedded be
Vnto the Markes of Saluce anone
And as the erle was prayde, so dyd he
For at a daye ysette, he on hys way is gone
Towarde Saluce, and lordes many one
In ryche aray, thys mayden for to gyde
Her yonge brother rydynge by her syde.
Arayed was towarde her mariage
Thys mayden freshe, ful of gemmes clere
And her brother, that seuen yere was of age
Arayed was eke freshely in hys manere
And thus in great noblesse and glad chere
Towarde Saluce, shapen her iournay
Fro day to day, rydynge forth her way.

¶Explicit quarta pars: Et sequitur pars quinta.

Amonge al thys, after hys wycked vsage
Thys Markes hys wyfe yet to tempte more
To the vtterest profe of her corage
Fully to haue experience and lore
Yf that she were as stedfast (as before)
He on a daye in open audience
Ful boystously hath sayd her thys sentence.
Page  liii
Certes Grisylde, I had ynough of plesaūce
To han you to my wyfe, for your goodnesse
And for your trouth, and your obeysaunce
Not for your lynage, ne for your rychesse
But I nowe knowe in very sothfastnesse
That in great lordshyp, yf I me wel aduyse
There is great seruitude in sondry wyse
I may not done, as euery ploughmā maye
My people me constrayneth for to take
Another wyfe, and cryen daye by daye
And eke the pope, thys rancoure for to slake
Consenteth it, that dare I vndertake
And truely, thus moche I wol you saye
My newe wyfe is comynge by the waye.
Be strōge of herte, & voyde anone her place
And thylke dowry that ye brought to me
Take it ayen, I graunt it of my grace
Retourneth to your fathers house ({quod} he)
No man may alwaye haue prosperite
wyth euen herte, I rede you to endure
The stroke of fortune, or of auenture.
And she ayen answerde in pacience:
My lorde ({quod} she) I wote and wyst alwaye
Howe that bytwyxte your magnificence
And my pouert, no man can ne maye
Maken no comparison, it is no naye
I helde me neuer dygne in no manere
To ben your wyfe, ne yet your chamberere
And in thys house, there ye me lady made
(The hye god take I, as for my wytnesse
And also wysely, as he my soule glade)
I helde me neyther lady ne maystresse
But humble seruaunt to your worthynesse
And euer shal, whyle my lyfe may endure
Abouen euery worldly creature.
That ye so longe of your benignite
Haue holde me in honour and nobley
(where I was not worthy for to be)
That thanke I god & you, to whom I prey
So yelde it you, there is no more to sey
Vnto my father gladly wolde I wende
And wyth hym dwel to my lyues ende.
There I was fostred of a chylde ful smale
Tyl I be deed, my lyfe there wol I lede
A wydowe clene in herte, body and al
For sythen I yaue to you my maydenhede
And am your trewe wyfe, it is no drede
God shylde suche a lordes wyfe to take
Another man, to husbonde or to make.
And of your newe wyfe, god of hys grace
So graunt you welth and hygh prosperite
For I wol gladly yeue her my place
In whych I was blysful wonte to be
For sythen it lyketh you my lorde ({quod} she)
(That whylom weren al my hertes reste)
That I shal gone: I shal go when you leste.
But there as ye me profred such dowayre
As I fyrst brought, it is wel in my mynde
It were my wretched clothes, nothing fayre
The which to me now wer ful hard to finde
Oh, good god: howe gentel & how kynde?
Ye semed by your speche and your vysage
The daye that maked was our mariage?
But soth is sayd, algate I fynde it trewe
For in effecte it is proued nowe on me
Loue is not olde, as when it is newe
For certes lorde, for none aduersite
To dyen in thys case, it shal neuer be
That euer in worde or worke I shal repent
That I you yaue myne herte in good entent
My lorde ye wote, that in my fathers place
Ye dyd me strype out of my poore wede
And rychely ye cladde me of your grace
To you brought I nought els out of drede
But fayth, nakednesse, and maydenhede
But here ayen your clothynge I restore
And eke my weddynge rynge for euermore
The remenaunt of your iewels redy be
wythin your chambre, dare I safely sayne
Naked out of my fathers house ({quod} she)
I came: and naked I mote turne agayne
Al your pleasaunce wolde I folowe fayne
But yet I hope it be not your entent
That I smocklesse out of your paleys went
Ye coulde not do so dyshonest a thynge
That ylke wōbe, in whych your chyldrē lay
Shulde before the people, in my walkinge
Be sene al bare: wherfore I you pray
Let me not lyke a worme go by the way
Remembreth you myne owne lorde so dere
I was your wife, though I vnworthy were
Page  [unnumbered]
Wherfore in rewarde of my maydenhede
Which I to you brought, & not ayen bere
As vouchesafe to yeue me to my mede
But suche a smocke as I was wonte to were
That I therwith may wrie ye wombe of here
That was your wyfe: & here I take my leue
Of you, myne owne lorde, lest I you greue
¶The smock ({quod} he) yt thou hast on thy bake
Let it be styl, and bere it forthe with the
But wel vnneth that worde he spake
But went his way, for routhe and pyte
Before the folke her selfe strypeth she
And in her smocke, with foote & heed al bare
Towarde her fathers house forth is she fare
The folke folowed wepyng in her wey
And fortune euer they cursed as they gone
But she fro wepyng kept her eyen drey
Ne in this tyme, worde spake she none
Her father, that this tydinges herde anone
Cursed the day and tyme that nature
Shope him to ben a lyues creature
For out of doute, this olde poore man
Was euer suspecte of her maryage
For euer he demed, sythen it began
That whan the lorde ifylled had his corage
Hym wolde thynke it was a disparage
To his estate, so lowe for to alyght
And voyden her, as sone as euer he might.
¶Ayenst his doughter hastely gothe he
(For he by ye noyse of folk knew her cōming)
And with her olde cote, as it might be
He couered her, ful sore wepyng
But on her body might he it not bring
For rude was the clothe, & she more of age
By dayes fele than was her mariage.
¶Thus with her father, for a certayne space
Dwelleth this floure of wysely pacience
That neuer by her wordes, ne by her face
Byfore the folke, ne eke in absence
Ne shewed she, that her was done offence
Ne of her hye estate no remembraunce
Ne had she, as by her countenaunce
No wonder is, for in her great estate
Her goste was euer in playne humylite
No tender mouthe, ne herte delycate
Ne pompe, ne semblaunce of royalte
But ful of pacience and benygnyte
Discrete, and pridelesse, and aye honorable
And to her husbonde euer meke and stable
¶Men speke of Iob, & most of his hūblesse
As clerkes (whan hem lyste) can wel endyte
Namely of men: but in sothfastnesse
Though clerkes prayse women but a lyte
There can no man in humblesse hem aquyte
As women can: ne be halfe so trewe
As women ben, but it befal of newe.

¶Explicit quinta pars: et se∣quitur pars sexta.

FRo Boloyne is the erle of Pauy come
Of whiche the fame spronge to more and lesse
And to the peoples eeres, al and some
was couthe eke, howe a newe Marquesesse
He wt him brought, in pompe & suche richesse
That was neuer sene with mannes eye
So noble aray, in west Lumbardye▪
¶The Markes, that shope a knewe al this
Er yt this erle was come, sent hys message
To thylke poore and sely Grisyldis
And she with humble herte, & glad vysage
Not with swellyng herte in her corage
Came at his heste, & on her knees her sette
And reuerently and wysely she hym grette.
¶Grisylde ({quod} he) my wyl is vtterly
This mayde, that wedded shal be vnto me
Receyued be to morowe al so royally
As it is possyble in my house to be
And eke that euery wyght in his degre
Haue his estate in syttyng and seruyse
And also plesaunt, as ye can beste deuyse
I haue no woman suffycient certayne
The chambres for to araye in ordynaunce
After my luste: and therfore wolde I fayne
That thyne were al suche gouernaunce
Thou knowest eke of olde al my plesaunce
Though thyn aray be badde, & yuel besey
Do thou thy deuer at the leste wey.
¶Not onely lorde that I am glad ({quod} she)
To done your luste, but I desyre also
You for to please, and serue in my degre
withouten faynyng, and shal euer mo
Page  liiiiNe neuer for no wele, ne for no wo
Ne shal the goste wythin my herte stent
To loue you best, wyth all my true entent
And with yt word, she gan ye house to dyght
And tables to sette, and beddes to make
And payned her to done al that she myght
Prayenge the chamberers for goddes sake
To hasten hem, and fast swepe and shake
And she the moste seruisable of hem al
Hath euery chambre arayed, and hys hal.
Abouten vndren gan thys erle alyght
That wt hī brought these noble childrē twey
For whych the people ranne to se that syght
Of her araye, so rychely besey
And then at erste amonges hem they sey
That walter was no foole, though hym lest
To chaunge hys wyfe: for it was for ye best.
For she is fayrer, as they demen al
Then is Grisylde, and more tender of age
And fayrer frute bytwene hem shal fal
And more pleasaunce, for her hye lynage
Her brother eke, so fayre was of hys age
That hi to sene ye people had cauʒt plesaūce
Comendyng now the Markes gouernaūce
O sterne people, vnsad and vntrewe
Aye vndiscrete, and chaungynge as a fane
Delytynge euer in rumer that is newe
For lyke the moone euer waxe ye & wane
Euer ful of clappynge, dere ynough a iane
Your dome is false, your cōstāce euel preueth
A ful great foole is he that on you leueth
Thus sayden sad folke in that cyte
when that the people gased vp and downe
For they were glad, ryght wyth the nouelte
To haue a newe lady of her toun
Nomore of thys make I nowe mencioun
But to Grisylde ayen wol I me dresse
And tellen her constaūce, and her busynesse
Wel busy was Grisylde on euery thyng
That to the feest was appertinent
Right nauʒt was she abashed of her clothing
Though they were rude, & somwhat to rent
But wyth glad chere, to the yate is went
wyth other folke, to greten the Marquesesse
And after doth she forth her busynesse
wyth ryght glad chere, ye gestes she receiueth
And buromly, euerych in hys degre
That no man defaute there perceyueth
But euer they wondren, what she myght be
That in so poore araye was for to se
And coulde suche honour, and reuerence
And worthely they praysen her prudence
In al the meane whyle she ne stente
Thys mayden and eke her brother to cōmēde
wyth al her herte, and benygne entente
So wel, that no man coude her pryse amēde
But at the laste, when these lordes wende
To sytten adowne to meate, he gan to cal
Grisylde, as she was busy in the hal.
Grisylde ({quod} he) as it were in hys play
Howe lyketh the my wyfe, and her beaute
Ryght wel my lorde ({quod} she) for in good fay
A fayrer sawe I neuer none then she
I praye to god so yeue you prosperite
And so hope I, that he wol to you sende
Plesaunce ynough, vnto your lyues ende.
But one thynge I besech, and warne also
That ye prycke wyth no turmentynge
Thys tender mayden, as ye han do mo
For she is fostred in her noryshynge
More tenderly, in my supposynge
She coulde not aduersite endure
As coulde a poore fostred creature.
And when thys walter sawe her pacience
Her glad chere, and no malyce at al
And he so ofte hath done her offence
And she aye constante, & stable as a wal
Contynuyng euer her innocence ouer al
Thys sturdy Markes, gan hys herte dresse
To rewe vpon her wyfely stedfastnesse
Thys is ynough, Grisylde myne ({quod} he)
Be no more agaste, ne yuel apayde
I haue thy fayth, and thy benignite
As wel as euer woman was assayde
In great estate, or poorely arrayde
Nowe knowe I dere wyfe thy stedfastnesse
And her in armes toke, and gan to kesse
And she for wonder, toke therof no kepe
She herde not what thynge he to her sayde
She fared as she had sterte out of her slepe
Tyl she out of her masednesse abrayde
Page  [unnumbered]Grisylde ({quod} he) by god that for vs deyde
Thou arte my wyfe, and none other I haue
Ne neuer had, as god my soule saue.
Thys is thy doghter, which yu hast supposed
To ben my wyfe, and none other faythfully
And this shal bē myn heyre, as I haue dyspo¦sed
Thou bare hem in thy body truely
At Boleyne haue I kepte hem sekerly
Take hem ayen, for now mayst thou not say
That yu hast lorne any of thy chyldren tway
And folke, that other wyse han sayd of me
I warne hem wel, yt I haue done thys dede
For no malyce, ne for no cruelte
But for to assaye in the thy womanhede
And not for to slee my chyldren, god forbede
But for to kepen hem priuely and styl
Tyl I thy purpose knewe, and al thy wyl
whē she this herd, a sowne down she falleth
For pytous ioye, and after her sownynge
She both her yonge chyldren to her calleth
And in her armes, pytously wepynge
Enbrased hem both, tenderly kyssynge
Ful lyke a mother, wyth her salte teeres
She bathed both her vysage and her heeres
O whych a pytous thynge it was to se
Her sownynge, & her pytous voyce to here
Graūt mercy lorde, god thanke it you ({quod} she)
That ye haue sailed me my chyldren dere
Nowe recke I neuer to be deed ryght here
Sythē I stāde in your loue, & in your grace
No force of deth, ne when my spirite pace
O tendre, O dere, O yonge chyldrē myne
Your woful mother wende stedfastly
That cruel hoūdes, or some foule vermyne
Had eaten you, but god of hys mercy
And your benigne father, so tenderly
Hath done you kepe: & in that same stounde
Al sodainly she swapte downe to the groūde
And in her swounyng, so sadly holdeth she
Her chyldrē two, when she gan hem enbrace
That wyth great sleyght and dyfficulte
The chyldrē frō her armes they gan to race
O many a tere, on many a pytous face
Downe ran, of hem that stoden there besyde
Vnneth aboute her myght no man abyde.
walter her gladdeth, & her sorowe slaketh
She ryseth vp al abashed from her traunce
And euery wyght her ioye and feest maketh
Tyl she hath caught ayen her countinaunce
walter her doth so faythfully plesaunce
That it was deynty to sene the chere
Betwyxt hem two, whē they were met yfere
These ladyes, when they her tyme sey
Han taken her, and into chambre gon
And strypen her out of her rude arrey
And in a cloth of golde, that bryght shone
wyth a crowne of many a ryche stone
Vpon her heed, they her into hal brought
And there she was honoured as she ought
Thus hath this pytous day a blysful ende
For euery man & woman doth hys myght
Thys daye in myrth and reuel to dyspende
Tyl on the welken shone the sterres bryght
For more solempne in euery mannes syght
Thys feest was, and greater of costage
Then was the reuel of her mariage
wel many a yere, in hye prosperite
Lyuen these two, in concorde and in rest
And rychely hys doughter maried he
Vnto a lorde, one of the worthyest
Of al Itayle, and then in peace and rest
Hys wyues father in hys courte he kepte
Tyl that hys soule out of hys body crepte
Hys sonne succedeth in hys heritage
In reste and peace, after hys fathers day
And fortunate was eke in mariage
Al put he not hys wyfe in great assaye
Thys worlde is not so stronge, it is no naye
As it hath ben in olde tymes yore
And herkneth what thautour sayth therfore
THis story is said, not for ye wiues shol¦de
Felowē Grisyld, in al humilite
For it were importable, tho they wol¦de
But that euery wyght in hys degre
Sulde be constante, in al aduersite
As was Grisild, wherfore Petrarke writeth
This story, whych wt hye style he endyteth.
For sythe a woman was so pacient
Vnto a mortal man, wel more we ought
Receyue al in gree that God vs sent
For great skyll he preueth that he wrought
But he ne tempteth no man that he bought
Page  lvAs sayeth saynt Iame, yf ye hys pystel rede
He preueth folke but a daye, it is no drede
And suffreth vs as for our exercyse
wyth sharpe scourges of aduersyte
wel ofte to be beaten, in sondry wyse
Not for to knowe our wyl, for certes he
Or we were borne, knewe al our frelte
And for our best, is al hys gouernaunce
Let vs lyue then in vertuous suffraunce▪
But one word herkneth lordynges or ye go
It were ful harde to fynde now a dayes
In al a countre Grisyldes thre or two
For yf they were put to suche assayes
The golde of hem hath so bad a layes
wyth brasse, for though it be fayre at eye
It wolde rather braste a two then plye
For which here, for ye wyues loue of Bathe
whose lyfe and secte, myghty god mayntene
In hygh maystry, or els were it skathe
I wyl wyth lusty herte, freshe and grene
Saye you a songe, to glade you I wene
And let vs stynte of ernest matere
Herkeneth my songe, yt sayth in thys manere

¶Lenuoye de Chaucer a les mariz de nostre temps.

GRisylde is deed, & eke her pacience
And both at ones buryed in Itayle
For which I crye in open audience
No wedded man be so hardy to assayle
Hys wyues pacience, in truste to fynde
Grisyldes, for in certayne he shal fayle.
¶O noble wyues, ful of hye prudence
Let no humilite your tonge nayle
Ne let no clerke haue cause ne deligence
To wryte of you a storye of suche maruayle
As of Grisylde, pacient and kynde
Lest Chechiface swalow you in her entraile
¶Foloweth Ecco, that holdeth no sylence
But euer answereth at the countre tayle
Beth not adaffed for your innocence
But sharpely taketh on you the gouernayle
Enprinteth wel thys lesson in your mynde
For cōmen profyte, sythnesse it maye auayle
Ne dredeth hem not, doth hem no reuerēce
For though thyn husbād armed be in mayle
The arrowes of thy crabbed eloquence
Shal perce hys brest, & eke hys aduentayle
In ielousye eke, loke thou hym bynde
And yt shal make him couch as doth a quayle
Yf yu be fayre, there folke bene in presence
Shewe thou thy vysage, & thyne apparayle
Yf thou be foule, be fre of thy dyspence
To get the frendes aye do thy trauayle
Be aye of chere, as lyght as lefe on lynde
And let hym care, wepe, wrynge, and wayle
Ye archwyues, stōdeth aye at your defence
Syth ye be stronge, as is a great camayle
Ne suffreth not, that men do you offence
And ye sklendre wyues, feble as in batayle
Beth eygre as any tygre is in Inde
Aye clappeth as a myl, I you counsayle.

¶Here endech the clerkes tale of Ox∣forde, and here foloweth the wordes of our hoost.

This worthy clerk, whē ended was his tale
Our hoost sayd and swore by cockes bones
Me were leuer then a barel of ale
My wyfe at home had herd this legēde ones
Thys is a gentle tale for the nones
As to my purpose, wyste ye my wyl
But thynge that wol not be, let it be styl.

¶Here ende the wordes of our hoste, and here foloweth the Franke∣leyns prologue.

THese old gētyll Britons in her dayes
Of dyuers auentures maden layes
Rymed fyrst in her mother tonge
which layes, wt her instrumentes they songe
Or els reden hem for her pleasaunce
And one of hem haue I in remembraunce
whyche I shal saye, as wyllinge as I can
But syrs, bycause I am a borel man
At my begynnynge fyrst I you beseche
Haue me excused of my rude speche
I lerned neuer rethorike certayne
Thynge that I speke, mote be bare & playne
I slepte neuer on the mounte of Pernaso
Ne lerned neuer Marcus Tullius Cicero
Coloures ne knowe I none, withoutē drede
But suche coloures as growen in the mede
Or els suche as men dyen or paynte
Coloures of rhetoryke, ben to me quaynte
My spirite feleth not of suche matere
Thys is my tale, yf ye wol it here.
¶Here endeth the Frankeleyns prologue.
Page  [unnumbered]

[illustration]
¶Here begynneth the Fran∣keleyns tale.

IN Armorike, ye called is britain
There was a knyght, that lo∣ued and dyd hys payne
To serue ladyes in hys best wyse
And many a labour, & many a great empryse
He for hys lady wrought, er she were wonne
For she was one the fayrest vnder sonne
And eke therto cōmen of hye kynrede
That wel vnneth durst thys knyʒt for drede
Tel her hys wo, hys payne, and his dystresse
But at the laste, she of her worthynesse
And namely for hys meke obeysaunce
Hath suche a pyte caught of hys penaunce
That priuely she fyl of hys accorde
To take hym for her husbonde & her lorde
Of such lordship, as mē haue ouer her wiues
And for to lede in the more blysse her lyues
Of hys fre wyl, he swore her as a knyght
That neuer in al her lyfe, daye ne nyght
Ne shulde he take vpon hym no maystry
Agayne her wyl, ne kythe her ielousye
But her obeye, and folowe her wyl in al
As any louer to hys lady shal
Saue that the name of soueraynte
That wolde he haue, for shame of his degre.
She thāked him, & with ful great humblesse
She sayd: syr, syth of your gentylnesse
Ye profred me to haue so large a rayne
Ne wolde god neuer betwyxte vs twayne
As in my gylt, were it eyther warre or stryfe
Syr, I wol be your trewe humble wyfe
Haue here my trouth, tyl that my herte breste
Thus ben they both in quiete and in reste.
For one thynge syrs, safely dare I seyne
That frendes, eueryche other must obeyne
Yf they wol longe holden companye
Loue wol not be constrayned by maystry
when maystry cōmeth, the god of loue anone
Beateth hys wynges, & farewel he is gone
Loue is a thynge, as any spirite free
women of kynde desyren lyberte
And not to be constrayned as a thral
And so done men, yf I sothe say shal
Loke who that moste pacient is in loue
He is at hys auauntage al aboue
Pacience is an hye vertue certayne
For it vaynquysheth, as these clerkes sayne
Thynges that rygour shal neuer attayne
For euery word mē may not chyde or playne
Lerneth to suffre, or els so mote I gone
Ye shal it lerne, whether ye wol or none
For in thys world certayn o wyght ther is
That he ne doth or sayeth somtyme amys
Ire, sycknesse, or constellacion
wyne, wo, or chaungynge of complection
Causeth ful often to done amysse or speken
On euery wronge, a mā may not be wreken
After the tyme must be temperaunce
Page  lviTo euery wight that can of gouernaunce
And therfore, hath this worthy wyse knight
To lyue in ease, suffraunce her hight
And she to hym ful wysely gan swere
That neuer shulde there be defaut in here
Here may men se, humble and wyse accorde
Thus hath she take her seruant & her lorde
Seruaunt in loue, and lorde in mariage
Than was he bothe in lordship and seruage
Seruage: nay, but in lordshyp aboue
Sythen he hath both his lady and his loue
His lady certes, and his wyfe also
The which that lawe of londe accordeth to
And whan he was in this prosperite
Home with his wife he goth, in to his coūtre
Nat fer fro Dēmarke, ther his dwelling was
where as he lyueth in ioye and in solas
who coude tel, but he had wedded be
The ioye, the ease, and the prosperite
That is bitwixt an husbande & his wyfe
Euermore lasted this blysful lyfe
Tyl that this knyght, of which I speke thus
That of Caere Iuda, was cleped Arueragus
Shope him to dwel, a yere or twayne
In Englande, that cleped was Britayne
To seken in armes worship and honour
For al his lust he sette in suche labour
And dwelt there two yere, the boke saith thus
¶Nowe wol I stynt of this Arueragus
And speke I wol of Dorgen his wyfe
That loueth her husbonde as her hertes lyfe
For his absence, wepeth she and syketh
As don these noble wyues whan hem lyketh
She mourneth, wayleth, fasteth, & playneth
Desyre of his presence, her so constrayneth
That al this wyde worlde set she at nought
Her frendes, whiche knewe her heuy thouʒt
Conforten her, in al that euer they may
They prechen her, and tellen her night & day
That causeles she slewe her selfe, alas
And euery comfort possyble in this caas
They don to her, with al her busynesse
And al for to maken her leue her heuynesse.
¶By processe, as ye knowē euerychone
Men mowen so longe grauen in a stone
Tyl some fygure therin printed be
So longe han they comforted her tyl, she
Receyued hath by hope and by reson
The enprintyng of her constellacion
Through which her great sorow gā aswage
She may not alway induren suche a rage
And eke Aruyragus in al this care
Hath sent his letters home of his welfare
And that he wol come hastely agayne
Or els had this sorowe her herte slayne.
Her frendes sawe her sorowe gan to slake
And prayden her on knees, for goddes sake
To come and romen in her companye
Away to driuen her derke fantasye
And fynally she graunted that requeste
For wel she sawe it was for the beste.
¶Nowe stode her castel faste by the see
And ofte with her frendes walked she
Her to disporte on the bankes hey
where as she may shyppes and barges sey
Salyng her course, where hem lyst go
But yet was that a parcel of her wo
For to her selfe ful ofte alas sayd she
Is there no shyppe, of so many as I se
wol bring home my lorde▪ thā were my herte
warished of these bytter paynes smerte.
¶Another tyme, wolde she sytte and thynke
And caste her eyen downward fro the brinke
But whan she sawe the grysly rockes blake
For very feare, so wolde her herte quake
That on her fete she myght not her sustene
Than wolde she sytte adown vpon the grene
And pitously in to the see beholde
And say right thus, with sorouful sykes colde
¶Eterne god, that through thy purueyaūce
Ledest this worlde, by certayne gouernaūce
In ydle as mē sayn, doste thou nothing make
But lorde, these grisly fendely rockes blake
That semen rather a foule confusyon
Of werke, than a fayre creacion
Of suche a parfyte god, wyse and ful stable
why haue ye wrouʒt this werke vnresonable
For by this werke, northe, south, west, ne este
There nys fostred, man, byrde, ne beste
It dothe no good, but anoyeth
Se ye not lorde, howe mākinde it distroyeth
An hundred thousande bodyes of mankynde
Haue rockes issayn, al be they not in mynde
Sin mākind is so fayre aparte of thy werke
That thou it madest like thyn owne werke
Than semed it ye had a great cherte
Towarde mākynde, but how thā may it be
That ye suche menes maken it to distroyen?
which menes don no good, but euer anoyen.
¶I wote wel clerkes wol sayne as hem lest
By argumentes, that al is for the best
Though I ne can not the causes wel knowe
But thilke god, yt made the wynde to blowe
As kepe my lorde, this is my conclusyon
Page  [unnumbered]To clerkes let I al thys dysputacion
And wolde God that al these rockes blake
were sonken in to hel for hys sake.
These rockes slee myne herte for feare
Thus wolde she say wt many a pytous teare
Her frendes sawe it was for her no dysport
To romen by the see, but dyscomfort
And shapen hem to playen somwhere elles
They leden her by ryuers and by welles
And eke in other places delytables
They dauncen and they playen at the tables
So on a daye, ryght in the morowe tyde
Vnto a gardeyne, that was there besyde
In which that they had made her ordinaūce
Of vytayles, and other purueyaunce
They gone and playen hem al the longe day
And thys was in the syxte morowe of May
which May hath paited wt his softe shoures
Thys gardayne ful of leues and of floures
And crafte of mannes hande so curiously
Arayed had thys garden truely
That neuer nas there garden of such pryse
But yf it were the very paradyse
The odour of floures, and the freshe syght
wolde haue made any herte lyght
That euer was borne, but yf to gret sicknesse
Or to great sorowe helde it in dystresse
So was it ful of beautye, wyth pleasaunce.
And after dyner gone they daunce
And synge also, saue Dorigene alone
That yet vnto her selfe made her mone
For she ne sey hym on the daunce go
That was her husbande, and her loue also
But nathelasse, she muste her tyme abyde
And wyth good hope, let her sorowe slyde.
¶Vpon thys daunce, amonge other men
Daunced a squyer before Dorigen
That fresher was, and iolyer of aray
As to my dome, then is the moneth of May
He syngeth & daunseth, passynge euery man
That is or was, sythen the worlde began
And therwythal, & men shulde hym dyscriue
One of the best farynge men on lyue
Yonge, stronge, vertuouse, ryche, and wyse
And welbeloued, and holden of great pryse
And shortly, yf I the soth tel shal
Vnwetynge of thys Dorigene at al
Thys lusty squyer, seruaunt to Venus
whych yclypped was Aurelius
Had loued her beste of any creature
Two yere and more, as was hys auenture
But neuer durst he tel her hys greuaunce
wythouten cuppe he dronke al hys penaunce
He was dyspayred, nothynge durst he say
Saue in hys sōges, somwhat wold he wray
Hys wo, as in general complayninge
He said he loued, and was beloued nothinge
Of whych matter made he many layes
Songes, complayntes, roundels, verilayes
Howe that he durste not hys sorowe tel
But languyshe, as doth a fury in hel
And dye he muste (he sayd) as dyd Ecco
For Narcissus, that durst not tel hys wo
¶In other maner then ye herde me say
Ne durst not he to her hys wo bewray
Saue perauenture somtyme at daunces
There yonge folke kepen her obseruaunces
It maye wel be, he loked on her face
In suche a wyse, as men that asken grace
But nothynge wyst she of hys entent
Nathelesse it happed, er they thence went
Bycause that he was her neyghbour
And was a man of worshyppe and honour
And had knowen hym of tymes yore
They fel in speche, & so forth more & more
Vnto hys purpose then drowe Aurelius
And when he sawe hys tyme he sayd thus.
¶Madame ({quod} he) by god yt this world made
So yt I wyste, yt I myght your herte glade
I wolde that day, that your Aruyragus
went ouer the see, that I Aurelius
Had went ther yt I shuld neuer come agayne
For wel I wote my seruyce is in vayne
My guerdon nys but bresting of myne herte
Madame rueth vpon my paynes smerte
For with one worde ye may me slee or saue
Here at your foote god wold yt I were graue
I ne haue as nowe no leyser more to sey
Haue mercy swete, or ye wol do me dey.
¶She gan to loke vpon Aurelius
Is thys your wyl ({quod} she) and saye ye thus?
Neuer erste ({quod} she) ne wyst I what ye mente
But nowe I knowe Aurelius your entente
By thylke god, that yaue me soule and lyfe
Ne shal I neuer be vntrewe wyfe
In word ne ī wrke, as ferre as I haue wyt
I wol be hys to whom I am knyt
Take thys for a fynal answere of me
But after thys in play thus sayd she.
¶Aurelius ({quod} she) by god aboue
Yet wol I graunt you to ben your loue
(Sythen I se you so pytously complayne)
Loke what daye that endelonge Britayne
Ye remeue al the rockes, stone by stone
Page  lviiThat they ne let shyppe ne bote to gone
I say whē ye haue made these costes so clene
Of rockes, that there nys no stone ysene
Then wol I loue you best of any man
Her haue my trouth, in al that euer I can.
Is there none other grace in you ({quod} he?)
¶No by that lorde ({quod} she) that maked me
For wel I wote that it shal neuer betyde
Let suche foly out of your herte glyde
what deyntye shulde a man haue in hys lyfe
For to go loue another mannes wyfe?
That hath her body whē so that hym lyketh
¶Aurelius ful ofte sore syketh
Wo was Aurely, when he thys herde
And wt a sorowful chere he thus answerde.
¶Madame ({quod} he) thys were impossible
Then mote I dye on sodayne death horrible
And wyth that worde he turned hym anone.
¶Tho come her other frendes euerychone
And in the aleyes romeden vp and doun
And nothynge wyst of thys conclusioun
But sodeynly began to reuel newe
Tyl that the bryght sonne loste hys hewe
For the orizont hath rete the sonne his light
Thys is as much to saye, as it was nyght
And home they gone in ioye and in solas
Saue onely wretched Aurelius, alas
He to hys house is gone with sorowful harte
He sayd he myght not from hys death astarte
Hym semed, that he felte hys herte colde
Vp to heuen hys handes gan he holde
And on hys knees bare, he set hym adoun
And in hys rauynge sayd thys orisoun
For very wo out of hys wytte he brayde
He ne wyst what he spake, but thus he sayde
with pitous hert hath his cōplaynt begonne
Vnto the goddes, and fyrst vnto the sonne
He sayd: God Appollo and gouernour
Of euery plante, herbe, tre, and flour
That yeuest after thy declinacion
To ylke of hem hys tyme and ceson
As thyne herberowe chaungeth lowe & hye
Lorde Phebus, caste thy merciable eye
On wretched Aurelius, whych am but lorne
Lo lorde, my lady hath my death ysworne
wythout gylte, but thy benignite
Vpon my deadly herte haue some pyte
For wel I wote lorde Phebus, yf ye leste
Ye maye me helpe saue my lady beste
Nowe vouche ye saue, that I you deuyse
Howe that I may be holpen & in what wyse
¶Your blysful suster Lucina the shene
That of the see is goddesse and quene
Though Neptunus hath deite in the see
Yet empresse abouen hym is she
Ye knowen wel lorde, ryght as her desyre
Is to be quyckened and lyghted of your fyre
For whych that she foloweth you ful besely
Ryght so the see desyreth naturally
To folowen her that is goddesse
Both of the see, and ryuers more and lesse
wherfore lorde Phebus, thys is my request
Do thys myracle, or do myne herte brest
That nowe nexte at thys opposicion
which in sygne shalbe the lyon
As prayeth her so great a floode to brynge
That fyue fadome at the lest, it ouer sprynge
The hyest rocke in Armoryke Britayne
And let thys floode dure yeares twayne
Then rertes to my lady may I saye
Holdeth your heste, the rockes ben awaye
Thys thynge may ye lyghtly done for me
Pray her to gone no faster course then ye
I say thus, prayeth your sster that she go
No faster course then ye in yeres two
Then shal she be at the ful alway
And spryng floode lastyng both nyght & day
And but she vouchsafe in suche manere
To graunt me my souerayne lady dere
Pray her to synken euery rocke adoun
In to her owne darke regioun
Vnder the grounde, there pluto dwelleth in
Or neuer more shal I my lady wyn
Thy tēple in Delphos, wol I barefote seke
O lorde Phebus, se the teres on my cheke
And on my payne haue some compassioun
And wyth ye worde, in swoune he fel adoun
And longe tyme he lay in a traunce
His brother, which yt knew of his penaūce
Vp caught hym, and to bed hym brought
Dyspayred in thys turmēt & this thought
Lette I thys woful creature lye
Chese he whether he wol lyue or dye.
¶Aruyragus wyth heale and great honour
(As he that was of chyualry the floure)
Is comen home, and other worthy men
O blysful arte thou nowe Dorigen
That hast thy lusty husbōde in thyne armes
That freshe knight, ye worthy man of armes
Thot loueth the, as hys owne hertes lyfe
Nothynge lyst hym to be ymaginatyfe
Yf any wyght had spokē (while he was out)
To her of loue, therof had he no dout
He entendeth not to suche matere
Page  [unnumbered]But dāceth, lusteth, & maketh her good chere
And thus in ioye & blysse let hym dwel
And of woful Aurelius wol I tel
¶In langour and in tourment dyspitous
Two yere and more, lay wretched Aurelius
Er any fote on erth he myght gone
Ne comforte in thys tyme had he none
Saue of hys brother whych was a clerke
He knewe of al thys wo and al thys werke
For to none other creature certayne
Of thys mater durst he no worde sayne
Vnder hys brest he bare it more secre
Then euer dyd Pamphilus for Galathe
Hys brest was hole wythout for to sene
But in hys herte aye, was the arowe kene
And wel ye knowen that of a sursanure
In surgery, is perlous the cure
But mē myght touch ye arow or come therby
Hys brother wepeth and wayleth priuely
Tyl at the last hym fel in remembraunce
That whyle he was at Orliaūce in Fraūce
(As these clerkes yonge that ben lykerous)
To reden artes they ben curiouse
Seken in euery halke and in euery herne
Perticuler science for to lerne
He hym remembred that vpon a dey
At Orliaunce in studye a boke he sey
Of magyke naturel, whych hys felawe
That was in that tyme a bacheler of lawe
Al were he there to lerne another crafte
Had priuely vpon hys dere ylafte
whych booke spake of mochel aperacions
Touchynge the .xxiiij. mansions
That longen to the moone, and such folye
As in our dayes is not worth a flye
For holy church sayeth in our byleue
Ne sustreth none illusyon vs to greue
And when thys boke was in his remēbraūce
Anone for ioye hys hyrte gan daunce
And to hym selfe he sayd priuely
My brother shalbe waryshed sykerly
For I am syker that there be sciences
By whych men maken dyuers aparences
Suche as these subtel tregetores play
For ofte at feestes haue I wel herde say
That tragetors, wythin an hal large
Haue made come in water and a barge
And in the hall rowen vp and doun
Somtyme hath semed a grym lyoun
And somtyme floures sprynge as in a meede
Somtyme a vyne, and grapes whyte & rede
Somtyme a castel of lyme and stone
And when hym lyked, voyden hem anone
Thus semed it to euery mannes syght.
¶Now then conclude I thus, yf yt I myght
At Orliaunce some olde felowe fynde
That had this moones mansions in mynde
Or other magyke naturel aboue
He shuld wel make my brother haue his loue
For wyth an apparaunce a clerke may make
To mannes syght, that al the rockes blake
Of Britayne, were yuoyded euerychone
And shyppes by the brynke to comen & gone
And in such forme enduren a yere or two
Then were my brother waryshed of hys wo
Then muste she nedes holde her behest
Or els he shal shame her at the lest.
¶what shuld I make a lenger tale of thys
Vnto hys brothers bedde he comen is
And suche comforte he yaue hym for to gone
To Orliaunce, that he vp sterte anone
And on hys way then is he forth yfare
In hope to ben lessed of hys care.
¶when they were comen almoste to ye cyte
(But yf it were a two furlonge or thre)
A yonge clerke roming by him selfe they met
whych that in latyn thryftely hem gret
And afterwarde he sayd a wonder thynge
I knowe the cause of your cōmynge
And er they farther any foote wente
He tolde hem al that was in her entente.
¶Thys Breton clerke asked him of felowes
The whych he had knowen in olde dayes
He answered hym, that they deed were
For whych he wept ofte ful many a tere
¶Downe of his horse Aurelius light anone
And wyth this magicien forth is he gone
Home to hys house, & made hym wel at ese
Hem lacked no vytaile that hem might plese
So wel arayed an house as there was one
Aurelius in hys lyfe sawe neuer none.
¶He shewed hym, or he went to suppere
Forestes and parkes, ful of wylde dere
He sawe there hertes, wyth her hornes hye
The greatest that euer were sene wyth eye
He se of hem an hundred slaine with hoūdes
And some of arowes bled wt bytter woūdes
He sawe, when voyded were the wylde dere
These fauconers, vpon a fayre ryuere
That wyth the haukes han the heron slayne
Tho saw he knightes iustyng in a playne
And after thys he dyd hym suche pleasaunce
That he hym shewed hys lady in a daunce
On which him selfe daūced as hym thought
Page  lviiiAnd whā this maister, yt this magike wrouʒt
Sawe it was tyme, he clapped his hōdes to
And farwel our reuel, al was ago
And remeued neuer out of his house
whyle they sawe al this syght merueylouse
But in his studye there his bokes be
They saten styl, no wight but they thre
¶To him this maister called his squyer
And sayd hym thus, is redy our supper
Almost an hour it is, I vndertake
Sythen I you bade our supper redy make
whan that these worthy men went with me
Into my studye, there as my bokes be
¶Sir ({quod} the squier) whan it lyketh you
It is al redy, though ye wol right nowe.
¶Go we suppe than ({quod} he) for the best
These amerous folke sōtyme mote haue rest
And after supper fel they in trete
what somme shuld this maisters guerdon be
To remeue al the rockes of Britayne
And eke frō Gironde to the mouth of sayne
¶He made it strāge, & swore so god him saue
Lasse thā a thousād poūde wold he not haue
Ne gladly for that somme nolde he it don.
¶Aurelyus with blysful herte anon
Answerde thus: Fye on a thousande poūde
This wyde worlde, which men say is roūde
I wolde it yeue, yf I were sorde of it
This bargayne is ful driue, for we be knyt
Ye shal be payde truely by my trouthe
But loke nowe for no negligence or slouthe
Ye taryen vs here no lenger than to morowe
Nay ({quod} this clerke) here my trouth to borow
¶To bedde is gon Aurelius whan him leste
And wel nye alnight he had his reste
what for his labour, and his hope of blysse
His woful herte of penaunce had a lysse▪
¶Vpon the morowe whan that it was day
To Britayne toke they the right way
Aurelius, and this magicyen him besyde
And ben discended there they wolde abyde
And this was, as the boke dothe remembre
In the colde frosty ceson of Decembre.
¶Phebus waxed olde, & hewed ilyke laton
That afore in his hote declynacion
Shone as ye brēning golde wt stremes bright
But nowe in Capricorne adowne he lyght
where as he shone ful pale, I dare wel sayne
The bytter froste, with the slidder rayne
Distroyed hath the grene in euery yerde
Ianus syt by the fyre with double berde
And drinketh of his bugle horne the wyne
Biforn him stont braune of the tusked swyne
And nowel cryeth euery lusty man.
¶Aurelius, in al that euer he can
Dothe to this maister chere and reuerence
And prayeth him to don his dyligence
To bryngen him out of his paynes smerte
Or with a swerde that he wold slyt his herte
This clerke suche routhe hath on this mā
That night & day he spedeth him that he can
To wayte a tyme of hys conclusyon
This is to say, to make illusyon
Or suche an apparence or iogelrye
I ne can no termes of astrologye
That she and euery wight shulde wene & say
That of Britayne the rockes were away
Or els they were sonken vnder the grounde
Tyl at the laste he hath his tyme yfounde
To make his iapes and his wretchydnesse
Of suche superstycious cursydnesse
His tollytan tables he forthe brought
Ful wel corrected, hym lacked nought
Neyther his collecte, ne his expans yeres
Ne his rootes, ne his other geres
As byn his centrys, and his argumentes
And his proporcionel conuenyences
For his equacions in euery thyng
And by his eyght speres in his werkyng
He knew ful wel howe far alnath was shoue
Fro the heed of thylke syxe Aries aboue
That in the nynthe spere consydred is
Ful subtelly he had calked al this
And whan he had founde hys fyrst mansyon
He knewe the remenaunt by proporcion
And knewe the rysyng of the moone wele
And in suche face, the terme and euery dele
And knewe also his other obseruaunces
For suche illusyons and suche mischaunces
As hethen folke vsed in thylke dayes
For whiche ne maked he no lenger delayes
But through his magike, for a weke or tway
It semed that al the rockes were away.
¶Aurelius, whiche that dispayred is
whether he shal haue his loue, or fare amys
Awayteth night and day on thys myracle
And whan he knewe there was non obstacle
But yt voyded were these rockes euerychon
Downe to the maisters fete he fel anon
And sayd, I woful wretche Aurelius
Thanke you lorde and lady myne Venus
That me hath holpen fro my cares colde
And to ye temple his way forth hath he holde
where as he knewe he shulde his lady se
Page  [unnumbered]And whan he sawe his tyme, anon right he
with dredful herte, & with humble chere
Salued hath his souerayne lady dere.
¶My rightful lady ({quod} this woful man)
whom I serue and loue, as I best can
And lothest were of al this worlde displese
Nere it that I for you haue suche disese
That I must dye here at your fete anon
Nought wold I tel you how wome is begō
But certes eyther muste I dye or playne
Ye slee me gyltlesse for very payne
But of my dethe though ye haue no routhe
Auysen you, er that ye breken your trouthe
Repenteth you, for that ylke god aboue
For ye slee me, bycause that I you loue
For madame, wel ye wote that ye haue hight
Not that I chalenge any thyng of right
Of you my souerayn lady, but of your grace
But in a garden yonde in suche a place
Ye wotte right wel what ye heyght me
And in myn honde your trouth plyght ye
To loue me best, god wotte ye sayd so?
Al be it I am vnworthy therto
Madame I speke it for the honour of you
More than for to saue myn hertes lyfe nowe
I haue done right as ye commaunded me
And yf ye vouchsafe, ye may go se
Doth as you list, haueth your heste in mynde
For quicke or deed, right ther ye shal me fynde
In you lythe al to do me lyue or deye
But wel I wote the rockes ben aweye
He toke his leue, and she astonyed stode
In al her face there nas a droppe of bloode
She wende neuer han come in such a trappe
¶Alas ({quod} she) that euer this shulde happe
For wende I neuer by possibylite
That such a mister or meruayle might be
It is ayenst the processe of nature
And home she gothe a sorouful creature
For very feare vnnethes may she go
She wepeth and wayleth a day or two
And swonneth, that it was routhe to se
But why it was to no wight tolde she
For out of towne was gon Arueragus
But to her selfe she spake, and sayd thus
In her complaynt, as ye shal after here
with face pale, & with sorouful chere.
Alas ({quod} she) on the fortune I playne
That vnware hast wrapped me ī thy chayne
Fro whiche to escape, wot I no socoure
Saue onely dethe, or els dishonoure
One of these two behoueth me to chese
But nathelesse, yet had I leuer to lese
My lyfe, than of my body to haue a shame
Or knowe my selfe false, or lese my name
And with my dethe, I may be quyt iwys
Hath there not many a wyfe er this
And many a mayd, islayn her selfe alas
Rather than with her body done trespas
And certes lo, these stories beren wytnesse
whan thurty tyrantes, ful of cursydnesse
Had stayne Phidon, in Athenes at the feest
They commaunded his doughters to areste
And bringen hem byforne hem in dispyte
Al naked, to fulfyl her foule delyte
And in her fathers bloode, he dyd hem daūce
Vpon the pauemēt, god yeue him mischaunce
For which these woful maydens ful of drede
Rather thē they wold lesen her maydenhede
They priuely ben sterte in to a wel
And drenched hem selfe, as bokes tell.
They of Messene let enquire and seke
Of Lacidomony fyfty maydens eke
On which they wolde haue don her lechery
But there was none of al that company
That she nas slayne, and with a glad enten
Chese rather for to dyen, than for to assent
To ben oppressed of her maydenhede
why shulde I than to dye ben in drede?
Lo eke the tyraunt Aristoclides
That loued a mayde, yt hight Symphalydes
whan that her father slayne was on a nyght
Vnto Dyanes temple gothe she anon ryght
And hente the ymage, with her armes two
Fro whiche ymage wolde she neuer go
No wight might fro it her hondes race
Tyl she was slayne, right in the selfe place.
Now sythnes yt maydens had such dispyte
To ben defouled with mannes foule delyte
wel ought a wyfe rather her selfe slee
Than be defouled, as thynketh me.
What shal I say of Hasdruballes wyfe?
That at Cartage byrafte her selfe her lyfe
For whā she sawe ye romanes wan the town
She toke her chyldren al, and lepte adown
Into the fyre, and chese rather to dye
Than any roman dyd her villanye.
Hath not Lucrece islayne her selfe, alas
At Rome, there she oppressed was
Of Tarquyne, for her thought it was shame
To lyue, whan that she had lost her name.
The eyght maydens of Melesye also
Han slayn hem selue for very drede and wo
Rather than folke of Gaule shuld hē oppresse
Page  lixMo than a thousande stories, as I gesse
Couthe I nowe tel, as touchyng this matere
¶whan Abradas was slayn, his wife so dere
Her selfe slowe, and let her bloode to glyde
In Abradas woundes, brode and wyde
And sayd, my body at the leste way
There shal no wight defoule yf I may.
¶What shulde I mo ensamples herof sayn?
Sythens that so many han hem selfe slayn
Wel rather than they wolde defouled be
I wol conclude that it is best for me
Wel rather slee my selfe in some manere
As dyd demotious doughter dere
Bycause that she nolde not defouled be.
¶O Sedasus, it is ful great pyte
To reden howe thy doughters dyden, alas?
That slowen hem selfe for such a maner caas
As great a pyte was it or wel more
The Theban mayden, that for Nychanore
For one of Macedone had her oppressed
with her dethe her maydenhede she redressed
¶What shal I sayne of Nycerates wyfe
That for suche case birafte her selfe her lyfe?
¶Howe trewe was eke to Alcibyades
His loue, that for to dyen rather thees
Than for to suffren his body vnburyed be
¶Lo whiche a wyfe was Alceste ({quod} she)
what saythe Homere of good Penelope?
Al Grece knoweth of her chastyte.
¶Parde of Laodomia is written thus
That whā at Troy was slayn Protheselaus
No lenger nolde she lyue after his day.
¶The same of noble Portia tel I may
withouten Brutus couthe she not lyue
To whom she had al her herte igyue.
¶The parfyte wyfehode of Artemisy
Honoured is, throughout al Barbary
¶Oh Thenta quene, thy wifely chastyte
To al wyues may a myrrour be.
The same thyng I saye of Bila
Of Rodogone, and eke Valeria.
¶Thus playned Dorigene a day or twey
Purposyng euer that she wolde dey
But nathelesse vpon the thyrde nyght
Home came Arueragus, the worthy knight
And asked her why she wepte so sore
And she gan wepen euer lenger the more
¶Alas ({quod} she) that euer was I borne
Thus haue I said ({quod} she) thus haue I sworn
And tolde him al, as ye haue herde before
It nedeth not to reherce it no more.
¶This husbōde wt glad chere in sōdrie wyse
Answerde and sayd, as I shal you deuyse
Is there aught els Dorigene but this.
¶Nay nay ({quod} she) god helpe me so as wys
This is to moche, and it were goddes wyl.
¶Ye wyfe ({quod} he) let slepe that is styl
It may be wel yet parauenture to day
Ye shal your trouthe holde by my fay
For god so wysly haue mercy on me
I had wel leuer stycked for to be
For very loue, whiche that I to you haue
But yf ye shulde your trouthe saue
Trouth is the hyest thyng that mē may kepe
But with that worde he brast anon to wepe
And said, I you forbyd on payne of dethe
That neuer whiles you lasteth lyfe or brethe
To no wight tel of this misauenture
As I may beste I wol my wo endure
Ne make no countenaunce of heuynesse
That folke of you may deme harme ne gesse
And forthe he cleped a squier and a mayde
Gothe forthe anon with Dorigene he sayde
And bringeth her in suche a place anone
They toke her leue, & on her way they gone
But they ne wyste why she thyder went
She nolde no wight tel her entent.
¶This squier, whiche that hyght Aurelius
On Dorigen, whiche that was so amerous
Of auenture happed her to mete
Amydde the towne, right in the hye strete
As she wolde haue gon the way forthe right
Towarde the garden, there as she had hyght
And he was to the garden warde also
For wel he spyed whan she wolde go
Out of her house, to any maner place
But thus they met of auenture or of grace
And he salueth her with glad entent
And asked of her whyther that she went.
¶And she answerde halfe as she were madde
Vnto the garden as my husbonde badde
My trouthe for to holde, alas alas.
Aurelius gan wondren of this caas
And in his hert had great compassyon
Of her chere, and of her lamentation
And of Aruyragus the worthy knyght
That bade her holde al that she had hyght
So loth he was yt she shuld breke her trouth
And in hys herte he caught of it great routh
Consydryng the beste on euery syde
That fro his luste were him better abyde
Than do so hye a churlishe wretchydnesse
Ayenst fraunchise, & ayenst al gentylnesse
For whiche in fewe wordes said he thus
Page  [unnumbered]Madame, saythe to your lorde Aruiragus
That sythen I se this great gentylnesse
Of hym, and eke I se wel your distresse
That ye to me thus shuld holde your trouthe
Certes me thynketh it were great routhe
I haue wel leuer euer to suffre wo
Than departe the loue bytwyxt you two
I you relese madame into your honde
Quyte euery surement and euery bonde
That ye haue made to me, as here byforne
Sythens thylke tyme that ye were borne
my trouth I plight, I shal you neuer repreue
Of no beheste, and here I take my leue
As of the trewest and the beste wyfe
That euer yet I knewe in al my lyfe
But euery wight beware of her byheste
On Dorigene remembreth at the leste
Thus can a squyer done a gently dede
As wel as can a knyght, withouten drede.
¶She thonked hym vpon her knees al bare
And home vnto her husbonde is she fare
And tolde him al, as ye han herde me sayde
And be ye syker, he was so wel apayde
That it were vnpossible me to write
What shulde I lenger of this case endyte?
Arueragus, and Dorigen his wyfe
In souerayne blysse leden forthe her lyfe
Neuer after was there anger hem bytwene
He cherished her, as though she were a quene
And she was to him trewe for euermore
Of these two folkes ye get of me nomore.
Aurelius, that his coste hath al forlorne
Curseth the tyme that euer he was borne
Alas ({quod} he) alas that euer I beheyght
Of pured golde a thousand poūde of wright
Vnto this philosopher, howe shal I do?
I se no more, but that I am for do
Myne heritage more I nedes sel
And ben a begger, here may I no lēger dwel
And shame al my kynrede in this place
But I of hym may get better grace
But nathelesse I wol of hym assay
At certayne dayes, yere by yere to pay
And thonke hym of hys great curtesye
My trouthe wol I kepe, I wol not lye.
With herte ore, he gothe vnto his cofer
And brought golde vnto this phylosopher
The value of fyne hundred poūde as I gesse
And hym besecheth of hys gentylnesse
To graunt him dayes of the remenaunt
And sayd: mayster I dare wel make auaunt
I fayled neuer of my trouthe as yet
For sykerly my hette shal be quyt
Towardes you, howe that euer I fare
To gon a beggyng in my kyrtel bare
But wolde ye vouchesafe vpon suerte
Two yere or thre for to respyte me
Than were I wel, for els mot I sel
Myne heritage, there is no more to tel.
This philosopher soberly answerde
And sayd thus, whan he this worde herde
Haue I not holde couenaunt vnto the?
Yes certes, wel and truely ({quod} he)
Haste thou not had thy lady as the lyketh?
No no ({quod} he) and sorily he syketh
what was the cause, tel me yf that thou can.
Aurelius anon his tale began
And tolde hym al as ye han herde byfore
It nedeth not to reherce it any more.
He sayd Arueragus of gentylnesse
Had leuer dye in sorowe and in distresse
Than his wyfe were of her trouthe fals
The sorowe of Dorigene he tolde hym als
Howe lothe she was to ben a wycked wyfe
And that she had leuer haue loste her lyfe
And yt her trouth she swore throug innocēce
She neuer erste herde speke of apparence
That made me haue of her so great pyte
And right as frely as he sent her to me
As frely sent I her to hym agayne
This is al & some, there nys no more to same.
The philosopher answerde, leue brother
Eueriche of you dyd gentilly to other
Thou arte a squier, and he is a knyght
But god forbyd, for his blisful myght
But yf a clerke coulde done a gentyl dede
As wel as any of you, it is do drede.
Syr I relese the thy thousande pounde
As now thou were crope out of the grounde
Ne neuer er nowe haddest thou knowen me
For syr, I wol not taken a peny of the
For al my crafte, ne nought for my trauayle
Thou haste payed right wel for my vitayle
It is ynough, and farwel & haue good day
And toke his horse, & rode forthe on his way.
Lordynges this question wold I aske now
whiche was the moste fre, as thynketh you?
Nowe telleth me, er that I ferther wende
I can no more, my tale is at an ende.

¶Here endeth the Frankeleyns tale, and begynneth the seconde nonnes prologue.

Page  lx
THe mynistre & the norice vn∣to vyces
Which that men clepen in en¦glishe idlenesse
That is porter of the yate of delyces
To eschue, & by her contrarie her oppresse
That is to sayne, by leful besynesse
wel ought we to don your entent
Leste that the fende through idlenesse vs hēt
For he that with his thousande cordes slye
Contynually vs wayteth to be clappe
whan he may man in ydlenesse espye
He can so lightly catche him in his trappe
Tyl that a man be hente, right by the lappe
He nis not ware the fende hath him in honde
wel ought vs werche, & ydlenesse witstonde
And though men dredden neuer for to dye
Yet se men wel by reson doutles
That ydlenesse is rote of slogardye
Of which there cometh neuer no good encres
And sythnes that slouth holdeth hē in a lees
Only to slepe, and for to eate and drynke
And to deuouren al that other swynke
And for to put vs from suche ydelnesse
That cause is of so great confusyon
I haue here done my faythful besynesse
After the legende in translacion
Right of thy glorious lyfe and passyon
Thou wt thy garlōde, wrought wt rose & lely
The mene I, mayd and marter seynt Cecely
¶And thou that arte floure of virgins all
Of whom that Bernarde lyst so wel to write
To the at my begynnyng fyrst I cal
Thou comforte of vs wretches, do me endyte
Thy maydēs deth, yt wan thorow her merite
The eternal lyfe, and of the fende victorie
As men may after rede in her storie
Thou maydē & mother, doughter of thy sōne
Thou wel of mercy, synful soules cure
In whom that god of boūte chese for to wōne
Thou humble and hye ouer euery ceature
Thou noblest, so farre ouer nature
That no disdayne the maker had of kynde
His sōne in bloode & fleshe to clothe & wynde
Whiche in the cloystre of thy blisful sydis
Toke mannes shappe, the eterne loue & pees
That of the true compas, lorde & gyde is
whom heuen, erthe, and see, withouten les
Aye heryen, and thou virgyne wemles
Bare of thy body, & dweldest mayden pure
The creatour of euery creature
Assembled is in the magnifycence
with mercy, goodnesse, and with suche pyt
That thou arte the sonne of excellence
Not onely that helpest hem that prayenth
But often tyme of thy benignyte
Ful frely, or that men thyne helpe beseche
Thou goest beforne, and arte her lyues leche.
Now helpe thou blisful, & meke fayre mayde
Me flemed wretche, in this deserte of gal
Thynke on the woman of Canane, that sayd
That whelpes eaten some of ye crōmes smal
That from her lordes table ben isal
And though yt I vnworthy doughter of Eue
Be synful, yet accepteth my beleue
And for ye fayth is deed withouten werkis
So for to werche, yeue me wytte and space
That I be quyt from ye place yt most derke is
O thou that arte so fayre and ful of grace
Be myne aduocate in that hye place
There as without ende is songe Osanna
Thou Christes mother, & doughter of Anna
And of thy light, my soule in prison lyght
That troubled is by the contagyon
Of my body, and also by the wyght
Of erthly luste, and also false affection
O hauen, O refute, O saluacion
Of hem that ben in sorowe and distresse
Now helpe, for to my werke I wol me dresse
Yet I pray you that reden that I write
Foryeueth me, that I do no dyligence
This ylke storie subtelly to endyte
For bothe haue I the wordes & the sentence
Of hym that at the sayntes reuerence
The storie wrote, and folowen her legende
And pray you that ye wol my werke amende
¶Fyrst wol I you the name of seynt Cecily
Expowne, as men may in her storie se
It is to say in englishe, heuens lylly
For pure chastnesse of virgynite
Or for she wytnesse had of honeste
Page  [unnumbered]And grene of conscience, and of good fame
The sote sauoure lylye was her name
Or Cecily is to say, the way to blynde
For she ensample was by good techyng
Or els Cecily, as I written fynde
Is ioyned by a maner conioynyng
Of heuen and Lya, in her fyguring
The heuen is set for thought of holynesse
And lya, for her lastyng besynesse
Cecily may eke be sayd in this manere
wantyng of blyndnesse, for her great lyght
Of sapience, and for her thewes clere
Or els Lo, this maydens name bright
Of heuen & Leos cometh, of whiche by ryght
Men might the heuen of people her cal
Ensample of good and wyse werkes al
For Leos people, in Englishe is to say
And right as men may in the heuen se
The sunne, and moone, & sterres euery way
Right so men gostly, in this mayden fre
Sawen of faythe, the great magnanymite
And eke the clerenesse hole of sapience
And sondrie werkes, bright of excellence
And right so as these philosophers write
That heuen is swyfte, rounde, & eke brēnyng
Right so was fayre Cecily the whyte
Ful swyfte and besy in euery good workynge
And rounde and hole in good perseuerynge
And brennyng euer in charyte ful bright
Nowe haue I declared you what she hight.

¶Here endeth the seconde nonnes Prologue, and begynneth her tale.
[illustration]

THis mayden bright Cecile, as her lyfe sayth
was comen of Romanes, and of noble kynde
And so forthe fostred vp in the fayth
Of Christ & bare his gospel in her mynde
She neuer cessed, as I written fynde
Of her prayere, and god to loue and drede
Besechyng hym to kepe her maydenhede
And whan this mayde shulde vnto a man
I wedded be, that ful yonge of age
whiche that yeleped was Valeryan
And daye was come of her maryage
She ful deuoute and humble in her corage
Vnder her robe of golde, ye sate ful fayre
Had next her fleshe yclad her in an heyre
And whyles that the organs made melodye
To god alone thus in herte songe she
O lorde, my soule and eke my body gye
Vnwemmed, leste I counfounded be
Page  lxiAnd for hi loue that dyed vpon a tre
Euery seconde or thirde day she faste
Aye byddyng in her orisons ful faste.
¶The night came, & to bedde must she gone
with her husbonde, as often is the manere
And priuely she sayd vnto hym anon
O swete and wel byloued spouse dere
There is a counsayle, and ye wol it here
Which that right fayne I wold to you sayne
So that ye me ensure, it not to bewrayne.
¶Valeryan gan faste vnto her swere
That for no case, ne thyng that myght be
He shulde neuer to none bewrayen here
And than at erste, thus to hym sayd she
I haue an angel, whiche that loueth me
That wt gret loue, where so I wake or slepe
Is redy aye, my body for to kepe
And yf that he may felen out of drede
That ye me touche or loue in vylonye
He right anon wyl slee you with the dede
And in your youthe thus shal ye dye
And yf that ye in clene loue me gye
He wol you loue as me, for your clennesse
And shewe you of hys ioye and brightnesse.
¶This Valeryan, corrected as god wolde
Answerde ayen, yf I shal trust the
Let me that aungel se, and hym beholde
And yf that it a very aungel be
Than wol I done as thou haste prayde me
And yf thou loue another man forsothe
Right wt this sworde thā wol I sle you both
¶Cecyle answerde anon in this wyse
If that ye luste, that angel shul ye se
So that ye trowe on Christ and you baptyse
Gothe forthe to Va apia ({quod} she)
That from this town ne stāt but myles thre
And to the poore folke that there dwel
Say hem right thus, as I shal you tel
Tel hem that I Cecyle, you to hem sende
To shewen you the good Vrban the olde
For secret nedes, and for good entent
And whan that ye saynt Vrban han beholde
Tel hym the wordes, that I to you tolde
And whā that he hath purged you fro synne
Than shal ye se that aungel er ye twynne.
Valeryan is to that place ygon
And right as him was taught by his lerning
He founde this holy Vrban anon
Amonge these sayntes buryals loutyng
And he anon, without taryeng
Dyd his message, and whan he had it tolde
Vrban for ioy, gan his hondes vp holde
The teres from his eyen let he fall
Almighty god, O Iesu christ ({quod} he)
Sower of chaste counsayle, hierde of vs al
The frute of thilke sede of chastyte
That thou haste sowe in Cecyle, take to the
Lo lyke a besy bee, withouten gyle
The serueth aye thyne owne thral Cecyle
For thylke spouse, that she toke but newe
Ful lyke a fierse lyon, she sendeth here
As meke as any lambe was to ewe
And with that worde, anon there gan apere
An olde man, cladde in whyte clothes clere
That had a boke with letters of gold in hōde
And gan byforne Valeryan for to stonde.
¶Valeryan as deed fel downe for drede
whan he this olde man sawe standyng so
whiche forwith anon he herde him rede
O lorde, O faythe, O god withouten mo
Of christendom, and father of al also
Abouen al, and ouer al euery where
These wordes al with golde written were
whā this was radde, thā sayd this olde mā
Leuest thou this thyng or none, say ye or nay
I leue al this thyng ({quod} Valeryan)
Vnder the heuen no wight ne thynke may
Sother thyng than this, I dare wel say
Tho vanyshed the olde man, he nyst where
And pope Vrban hym christened right there
¶Valeryan gothe home, & fyndeth Cecilye
within his chambre, with an aungel stonde
This aungel had of rose and of lyllye
Crownes two, the whiche he bare in honde
And fyrst to Cecyle, as I vnderstonde
He yaue that one, and after gan he take
That other to Valeryan her make
with body clene, & wt vnwemmed thought
Kepeth aye wel these crownes ({quod} he)
From paradyse to you I haue hem brought
Ne neuer more shullen rotten be
Page  [unnumbered]Ne lese her swete sauour, trusteth me
Ne neuer wight shal sene hem with eye
But he be chaste, and hate vilonye
And thou Valeryan, for thou so sone
Assenteddest to good counsayle also
Say what yu lyst, & thou shalt haue thy bone
I haue a brother ({quod} Valeryan tho)
That in this world I loue no man so
I pray you that my brother may haue grace
To knowe the trouthe, as I do in this place.
The angel answerd, god lyketh your request
And bothe with the palme of martyrdome
Shal ye come vnto the blisful feest
And with ye word Tyburce his brother come
And whan that he the sauoure vndernome
whiche that the roses and the lylyes caste
within his herte he gan to wonder faste
¶And sayd: I wōder this tyme of the yere
whence that this sote sauoure cometh so
Of roses and lylyes, that I smel here
For though I had hem in myne hondes two
The sauour might in me no deper go
The swete smel, that in my herte I fynde
Hath chaunged me al in another kynde.
¶Valeryan sayd, two crownes haue we
Snowe whyte & rose reed, that shyneth clere
which that thyne eyen han no might to se
And as thou smellest hem thrugh my prayere
So shalt thou seen hem my leue brother dere
If it so be that thou wylte without slouthe
Byleue a right, and knowe the very trouthe.
¶Tyburce answerd, sayest thou this to me
In sothnesse, or in dreme herken I this?
In dremes ({quod} Valerian) han we be
Vnto this tyme, brother myne iwys
But nowe at erst, our dwellyng in trouthe is
Howe wost thou (quod Tyburce) & in what wyse
Quod Valeryan, that I shal the deuyse.
The angel of god hath me ye trouth itaught
which thou shalt seen, & thou wilt reney
The ydols, and be clene, and els naught
And of the myracles of these crownes twey
Saynt Ambrose in his preface luste to sey
Solempnly this noble doctour dere
Cōmendeth it, and saythe in this manere.
¶The palme of martyrdom for to receyue
Seynt Cecile, fulfylled of goddes yefte
The world & eke her chambre gan she weyu
witnesse Tyburce, and Cecyles shrifte
To which god of his bounte wolde shyfte
Crownes two, of floures wel smellyng
And made the angel hē tho Crownes bryng
The mayde hath brought hem to blisse aboue
The world hath wist what it is worth certal
Deuotion and chastyte wel for to loue
Tho shewed him Cecyle al open and playn
That al ydolles ben but thynges in vayne
For they ben dombe, & therto they ben defe
And charged hym hys ydoles for to lefe
Who that troweth not this, a beest he is
(Quod this Tyburce) yf that I shal not lye
She kyssed his brest whan she herde this
And was ful glad he couthe trouthe espye
This day take I the for myne allye
Sayd this blisful mayden fayre and dere
For after that she sayd as ye may here.
¶Lo right so as the loue of Christ ({quod} she)
Made me thy brothers wyfe, right in yt wyse
Anon for myn alye here take I the
Sythēs that thou wolte thyn ydoles dispyse
Go with thy brother nowe, & the baptyse
And make the clene, so yt thou mayst beholde
The angels face, of whiche thy brother tolde.
Tyburce answerd, and said: brother dere
Fyrst tel me whyther I shal, & to what ma
To whom he sayd, come forth wt good chere
I wol the lede vnto the pope Vrban
To Vrban brother myne Valeryan
({quod} this Tyburce) wylt thou me thyder lede?
Me thynketh that it were a wonder dede
Ne menest thou Not Vrban ({quod} he tho)
That is so ofte dampned to be deed
And wonneth in halkes to and fro
And dare not ones put forthe his heed
Men shulde him brenne in a fyre so reed
If he were founde, and men might hym spye
And we also, that bere him companye
And whyles we seken thylke diuinite
That is yhidde in heuen priuely
Algate ybrent in this worlde shulde we be
To whom Cecile answerde boldely
Page  lxiiMen might drede wel and skylfully
This lyfe to lese, myne owne dere brother
If this were lyuing only and non other
But there is better lyuyng in other place
That neuer shal be loste, ne drede the nought
which goddes sōne vs told through his grace
That fathers sonne hath al thyng wrought
And al ye wrought is with a skilful thought
The goste that from the father gan procede
Hath souled hym without any drede
By worde and by myracle, lo goddes soune
whan he was in this worlde, declared here
That there is other lyfe ther men may wōne
To whom answerde Tyburce: O suster dere
Ne saydest thou right nowe in this manere
There nas but one god lord in sothfastnesse
And nowe of thre howe may yu bere witnesse
¶That shal I tel ({quod} she) or that I go
Right as a man hath sapyences thre
Memorye, engyne, and intellecte also
So in suche beyng of diuinite
Thre persons may there right wel be
Tho gan she there ful besily hym preche
Of Christes sonne, and of his paynes teche
And many poyntes of his passyon
Howe goddes sonne in thys worlde was witholde
To do mankynde playne remyssyon
That was bounde in synnes & cares colde
Al these thynges she vnto Tyburce tolde
And after this Tyburce in good entent
with Valeryan to pope Vrban went
That thonked god, & with glad hert & light
He christned him, and made him in that place
Perfyte in his lernyng goddes knyght
And after this Tiburce gate suche grace
That euery day he sawe in tyme and space
The aungel of god, and euery maner boone
That he god asked, it was sped ful soone
¶It were ful harde by order for to sayne
How many wonders Iesu for him wrought
But at the laste, to tel shorte and playne
The sergeaunt of the towne hem sought
And hem byfore Almache ye preuost brought
whiche hem aposed, & knewe al her entent
And to the ymage of Iupiter hem sent
And sayd, who so wol do no sacrifyce
Swappe of his heed, this is my sentēce here
Anon these martyrs, that I you deuyse
One Maximus that was an officere
Of the prefectes, and his councelere
Hem hent, & whā he forth the sayntes ladde
Hym selfe he wept for pyte that he had
whan Maximus had herde this sayntes lore
He gate hem of the turmentours leue
And had hem to hys house withouten more
And with her prechyng, er that it were eue
They gonne from the turmentour reue
And from Maximus, & from hys folke echon
The false faythe, to trowen in god alone
¶Cecyle came, whan it was woxen nyght
with preestes, that hem christened al in fere
And afterward, whan day was woxen light
Cecile hem sayd with a sober chere
Nowe Christes owne knyghtes leue & dere
Casteth al away the werkes of derknesse
And armeth you in armoure of brightnesse
Ye han for sothe ydone a great batayle
Your cours is don, your fayth hath you con∣serued
Gothe to ye crowne of life that may not fayle
The rightful iudge, which ye han serued
Shal yeue it you as ye it deserued
And whan this thing was sayd, as I deuyse
Men ladde hem forth to done the sacrifyse
But whā they were vnto the place ibrought
To tel shortly the conclusyoun
They nold ensence ne sacrifyce right nought
But on her knees, they saten hem adoun
with humble herte and sadde deuocioun
And losten bothe her heedes in the place
Her soules went to the kyng of grace.
¶This Maximus, yt saw this thyng betyde
with pytouse teres tolde it anon right
That he her soules sawe to heuen glyde
with aungels ful of clerenesse and of lyght
And with his word cōuerted many a wight
For which Almachius dyd hym so to bete
with whyppes of leede, tyl he his lyfe gā lete
Cecyle hym toke, and buryed hym anone
By Tyburce and Valeryan sothly
within her buryeng place vnder a stone
Page  [unnumbered]And after this Almachius hastely
Bad hys mynisters fetchen openly
Cecily, so that she might in his presence
Do sacrifyce, and Iupyter encence
But they conuerted at her wyse lore
wepten ful sore, and yaue ful credence
Vnto her worde, and cryden more and more
Christ goddes sonne, without difference
Is very god, this is all our sentence
That hath a seruaunt so good him to serue
Thus wt o voyce we trow though we sterue
¶Almachius, that herde al this doyng
Bad fetche Cecily, that he might her se
And alderfyrst this was his askyng
what maner woman arte thou ({quod} he)
I am a gentylwoman borne ({quod} she)
I aske of the ({quod} he) thought it the greue
Of thy relygion and of thy byleue?
¶Ye haue bygon your question folishly
({quod} she) that wolde two answers conclude
In one demaunde, ye asken leudly
Almachius answerde to that symilitude
Of whence cōmeth thyn answere so rude
Of whence ({quod} she) whā that she was frayned
Of conscience, and of good fayth vnfayned.
¶Almachius sayd, ne takest thou none hede
Of my power: and she hym answerde thys
Your might ({quod} she) ful lytel is to drede
For euery mortal mannes power nys
But ilyke a bladder ful of wynde iwys
For with a nedels poynte, whan it is yblowe
May al the bose of it be layde ful lowe
Ful wrongfully beganste thou ({quod} he)
And yet in wronge is thy perseueraunce
woste thou not howe our mighty princes fre
Haue thus cōmaunded & made ordinaunce?
That euery christen wight shal haue penaūce
But yf that he his cristendome withsey
And gon al quyte, yf he wol it reney.
¶Your princes erren, as your nobles dothe
Quod tho Cecile, in a wode sentence
Ye make vs gilty, and it is not sothe
For ye that knowen wel our innocence
For as moche as we done a reuerence
To Christe, and for we bere a christen name
Ye put on vs a cryme and eke a blame
But we that knowen thilke name so
For vertuous, we may is not withsey.
Almachius answerd, chese one of these two
Do sacrifyce, or christendom reney
That thou may scapen by that wey
At which worde the holy blisful mayde
Gan for to laught, & to the iuge she sayde.
¶O iugge confused in thy nycete
Wolte thou that I renye innocence
To make me a wycked wight ({quod} she)
Lo he dissymuleth here in audience
He stareth and wodeth in his aduertence
To whom Almachius sayd: O sely wretch
Thou wost not how far me miʒt may stretch
Hath not our mightye princes yeuen
To me, bothe power and eke auctorite
To make folke to dyen or to lyuen?
why spekest thou so proudely than to me?
I ne speke it not but stedfastly ({quod} she)
Not proudly, for I say as for my syde
I hate deedly thilke vyce of pryde
And yf thou drede not a sothe for to here
Than wol I shewen al openly by right
That thou hast made a ful great lesyng here
Thou sayste thy princes han yeue the might
Bothe to slee and eke to quicke a wight
Thou ne mayest but only lyfe byreue
Thou haste non other power ne leue
But thou mayst say, thy princes hā ye make
Mynistre of dethe, for yf thou speke of mo
Thou lyest, for thy power is ful naked
Doway thy boldnesse, sayd Almachius th
And do sacrifyce to our goddes er thou go
I recke not what wronge thou me profice
For I can suffre, as can a philosopher
But thilke wronges may I not endure
That thou spekest of our goddes here ({quod} he)
Cecile answerde, O nyce creature
Thou saydest no worde sythens thou spakest to me
That I ne knewe therwith thy nycite
And that thou were in euery maner wyse
A leude offycer, and a vayne iustyce
The lacketh nothyng to thyne vtter eyen
That thou nart blynd, for thing yt we seen al
That is a stone, that men may wel espyen
Page  lxiiiThat ylke stone, a god thou wolte it cal
I rede the let thyn honde vpon it fal
And taste it wel, & stone thou shalte it fynde
Sens that thou seest not wt thyn eyen blynde
It is a shame that the people shal
So scorne the, and laugh at thy folye
For comenly men wotte it wel ouer al
That mighty god is in his heuens hye
And these ymages, wel mayste thou aspye
To the ne to hem selfe may they not profyte
For in her effecte, they be not worthe a myte
¶Thus and suche other wordes sayde she
And he woxe wrothe, & bad she shulde be lede
Home to her house, and in her house ({quod} he)
Brenne her in a bathe, with flames rede
And as he bade, right so was done the dede
For in a bathe they gan her faste sheten
And nyght & day great fyre vnder they beten
Al the longe night, and eke the day also
For al the fyre, and eke the bathes hete
She sate al colde, and felte of it no wo
It made her not a droppe for to swete
But in that bathe her lyfe she mote lete
For Almachie, with a ful wicked entent
To sleen her in the bathe, hys sonde sente
Thre strokes in the necke he smote her tho
The turmentour, but for no maner chaunce
He might not smyte al her necke a two
And for there was that tyme an ordynaunce
That no mā shuld do no person such penaūce
The fourth stroke to smyte, softe or sore
This turmentour durste smyte no more
But halfe deed, with her necke ycoruē there
He lette her lye, and on his way he went
The christen folke that aboute her were
with shetes home ful fayre her hente
Thre dayes lyued she in this turmente
And neuer cesed she the faythe to teche
That she had fostred hem, she gan to preche
And hem she yaue her mouables & her thyng
And to the pope Vrban bytoke hem tho
And sayd, I asked this of the heuen kyng
To haue respyte thre dayes and no mo
To recōmaunde to you, er that I go
These soules, and that I might so werche
Here of myne house perpetuellyche a cherche
Saynt Vrban, with his dekens priuely
The body fette, and buryed it by night
Amonge his other sayntes honestly
Her house the churche of saynt Cecile hyght
Saynte Vrban halowed it, as he wel might
In which vnto this day in noble wyse
Men don to Christ & to his sayntes seruyce.

¶Here endeth the seconde nonnes tale, and here begynneth the Prologue of the cha∣nons yeman.

WHā ended was the lyfe of saynt Cecyle
Er we fully had rydden fyue myle
At Boughton vnder the blee, vs gan a take
A man, that clothed was in clothes blake
And vnder that he had a whyte surplyse
His hakeney, that was al pomely gryse
So swette, that it wonder was to se
It semed that he had pricked myles thre
The horse eke that his yoman rode vpon
So swette, that vnneth might he gon
Aboute the paytrel stode the fome ful hye
He was of fome as flecked as a pye
A male twyfolde on his croper lay
It semed that he caryed lytel aray
Al lyght for sommer rode this worthy man
And in my herte wondren I began
what that he was, tyl I vnderstode
Howe that his cloke was sewed to his hode
For which, whan I had longe auysed me
I demyd him some chanon for to be
His hatte hynge at his backe by alace
For he had rydden more than trot or pace
He rode aye prickyng as he were wode
A clote lefe he had layde vnder hys hode
For swette, and for to kepe his heed fro hete
But it was inye for to se hym swete
His forheed dropped, as a styllatorie
were ful of plantayne or of peritorie
And whan he was come, he gan crye
God saue ({quod} he) this ioly companye
Faste haue I pricked ({quod} he) for your sake
Bycause that I wolde you ouertake
To ryden in this mery company
¶His yoman was eke ful of curtesye
And sayd syrs, nowe in the morowe tyde
Page  [unnumbered]Out of your hostery I sawe you ryde
And warned here my lorde and souerayne
whiche that to ryden with you is ful fayne
For his disporte, he loueth dalyaunce.
Frēde for thy warnīg god yeue ye good chāce
Than sayd our host, certayne it wolde seme
Thy lorde were wyse, & so I may wel deme
He is ful soconde also dare I lay
Can he ought tel a mery tale or tway
with which he glade may this companye.
¶Who syr my lorde? ye without lye
He can of myrthe and eke of iolyte
Not but ynough also syr trusteth me
And ye hym knewe also wel as do I
Ye wolde wonder howe wel and thriftely
He couthe werke, and that in sondrie wyse
He hath taken on him many a great emprise
which were ful harde, for any that is here
To bring aboute, but they of him it lere
As homely as he rydeth amonge you
If ye him knewe, it wold ben for your prowe
Ye nolde not forgon his aquayntaunce
For mochel good I dare lay in balaunce
Al that I haue in my possessyon
He is a man of hye discressyon
I warne you wel he is a passyng wyse man.
¶Wel ({quod} our hoste) I pray the tel me than
Is he a clerke or non tel what he is.
¶A clerke, nay he is greter thā a clerke iwys
Sayd the yoman, and in wordes fewe
Hoste of his crafte somwhat wol I shewe
I say my lorde can suche a subtelte
But al his crafte ye may not wete of me
And somwhat helpe I yet to his worchyng
That al the grounde that we be on rydyng
Tyl we come to Caunterbury towne
He coulde al clene turne vp and downe
And paue it al of syluer and of golde.
¶And whan this yoman had thus ytolde
Vnto our hoste: he sayd benedicite
This thyng is wonder meruaylous to me
Sens that thy lorde is of so hye prudence
(Bycause of which, men shuld hym reuerēce)
That of his worshyp recketh he so lyte
His ouerest sloppe is not worthe a mye
As in effecte to hym, so more I go
It is al bandy and to tore also
why is thy lorde so slotlyche I the pray
And is of power better clothes to bey?
If that his dede acorde with thy speche
Tel me that, and that I the beseche.
¶Why ({quod} this yeman) wherto aske ye me?
God helpe me so, for he shal neuer ythe
But I wol not auowe that I saye
And therfore kepe it secret I you praye
He is to wyse in fay, as I beleue
That is ouerdone nyl not preue
And right as clerkes sayne, it is a vyce
wherfore I holde hym in that, leude & ny••
For whan a man hath ouer great a wytte
Ful ofte it happeth hym to misusen it
So dothe my lorde, and that me greueth sore
God amende it, I can say you no more.
¶Therof no force good yeman ({quod} our host)
Sens of the connyng of thy lorde thou wost
Tel howe he dothe, I pray the hertely
Sens that he is so crafty and so sly
where dwellen ye, yf it to tel be?
¶In the subbarbes of a towne ({quod} he)
Lurkyng in corners and in lanes blinde
where these robbers, and theues by kynde
Holden her priuy fearful resydence
As they that dare not shewen her presence
So fare we, yf that I shal say the soth.
¶Yet ({quod} our hoste) let me talke tothe
why arte thou so discoloured in thy face?
¶Peter ({quod} he) god yeue it harde grace
I am so vsed in the hotte fyre to blowe
That it hath chaūged my colour as I trowe
I am not wonte in no myrrour to prie
But swynke sore, and lerne to multiplye
we blondren euer, and pooren in the fyre
And for al that, we faylen of our desyre
For euer we lacken our conclusyon
To moche folke we do illusyon
And borowe golde, be it a pounde or two
Or ten or twelue, or many sommes mo
And make hem wene at the leste way
That of a pounde we coulde make tway
Yet is it false, and aye han we good hope
It for to done, and after it we grope
But that science is so ferre vs byforne
we mowe not, al though we had it sworne
It ouertake, it slytte away so fast
It wol vs make beggers at the laste.
¶whiles this yeman was thus ī his talkyng
This chanon drewe him nere, & herd al thing
which this yeman spake, for suspection
Of mennes speche euer had this chanon
For Cato saythe, he that gyltye is
Demeth al thing be spoke of hym iwys
Bycause of that, ge gan so nyghe to drawe
To his yeman, to herken al his sawe
And thus he sayd vnto his yeman tho
Page  lxiiiHolde now thy peace, & speke no wordes mo
For yf thou do, thou shalt it sore abye
Thou slaūdrest me here in thys companye
And eke dyscouerest yt thou shuldest hyde.
¶Ye ({quod} our host) tel on what so euer betyde.
Of al hys threatyng, recke the not a myte
¶In fayth ({quod} he) no more do I but lyte
And when thys chanon sawe it wolde not be
But hys yeman wolde tel hys priuite
He fled away for very sorowe and shame
A ({quod} the yeman) here shal ryse a game
Al that I can, anone wol I you tel
Sens he is gone, the foule fende hym quel
For neuer here after wol I wyth hym mete
For peny ne for pounde, I you behete
He that me brought fyrst vnto that game
Er that he dye, sorowe haue he and shame
For it is ernest to me by my fayth
That fele I wel, what so any man sayeth
And yet for al my smerte and al my grefe
For al my sorowe, laboure and myschefe
I couth neuer leaue it in no wyse
Nowe wolde god my wytte myght suffyce
To tellen al that longeth to that arte
But nathelesse, yet wol I tel you a parte
Sens that my lord is gone, I wol not spare
Suche thynge as I knowe I wol declare.

¶Here endeth the prologue of the chanons yeman, and here fo∣loweth hys tale.
[illustration]

WIth thys chanon I dwelt seuen yere
And of hys science am I neuer the nere
All that I had, I haue lost therby
And god wote, so hath many mo then I
There I was wonte to be ryght fresh & gay
Of clothynge, and eke of other good aray
Nowe may I weare an hose vpon my heed
And wher my colour was both freshe & reed
Nowe it is wanne, and of a leeden hewe
who so it vseth, sore shal hym rewe
And of my swynke, yet blered is myne eye
Lo whych auauntage it is to multiplye
That slydynge science hath me made so bare
That I haue no good, where yt euer I fare
And yet I am endetted so therby
Of golde, that I haue borowed trewly
That whyle I lyue, I shal it quyte neuer
Let euery man beware by me euer
what maner man that casteth hym therto
Yf he continue, I holde hys thryfte ydo
So helpe me god therby shal he neuer wyn
But empte his purse, & make his wittes thyn
Page  [unnumbered]And when he thorow hys madnesse and foly
Hath lost hys owne good, through ieopardy
Then he excyteth other men therto
To lese her good, as hym selfe hath do
For vnto shrewes, ioye it is and ese
To haue her felowes in payne and dysese
For thus was I ones lerned of a clerke
Of yt no charge, I wol speake of our werke
¶when we be there, as we shal exercyse
Our eluysh crafte, we semen wonder wyse
Our termes ben so clergial and so quaynte
I blowe the fyre tyl myne herte faynte.
¶what shulde I tel eche proporcion
Of thynges, whych we werchen vpon?
As on fyue or syxe vnces, maye wel be
Of syluer, or of some other quantite
And besye me to tellen you the names
Of orpyment, brent bones, yron squames
That into poudre grounden ben ful small
And in an erthen potte, howe put is all
And salt yput in, and also papere
Byfore these poudres that I speake of here
And wel ycouered wyth a lampe of glas
And of moche other thynge that there was
And of the pottes and glas englutynge
That of the ayre myght passe out no thynge
And of the esy fyre and smerte also
whych that was made, and of the care & wo
That we had in our matters sublymynge
And in amalgamyng, and calsenynge
Of quycsyluer, yclypped Mercurye crude
For al our sleyght, we conne not conclude
Our orpyment, and sublymed Mercurye
Our grounde lytarge eke on the porphirye
Of eche of these, vnces a certayne
Not helpeth vs, our labour is in vayne
Ne eke our spirites assencioun
Ne yet our matters, that lyen al syre adoun
Mowe in our werkynge nothynge auayle
For loste is al our laboure & our trauayle
And al the coste, a twenty dyuel waye
Is loste also, whych we vpon it laye.
¶There is also ful many an other thynge
That is to our crafte apertaynynge
Though I by ordre hem ne reherce can
Bycause that I am a leude man
Yet wol I tellen hem, as they come to minde
Though I ne can sette hem in her kynde
As bole Armonyake, verdegrece, boras
And sondry vessels made of erth and glas
Our vrinals, and our dyscensories
Vyols, crosselettes, and sublymatoryes
Concurbytes, and alembykes eke
And other suche, dere ynough a leke
It nedeth not to reherce hem al
waters rubyfyeng, and boles gal
Arsneke, sal armoniake, and brymstone
And herbes coulde I tel eke many one
As Egrimonye, valerian, and lunarye
And other suche, yf that me lyst to tarye
Our lampes brennyng both nyght and daye
To bryngē aboute our craft, yf that we maye
Our fournyce eke of calcinacion
And of waters albifycation
Vnsleked lyme, chalke, and gleyre of an eye
Poudres dyuers, ashes, donge, pysse, & cley
Sered pokettes, salt peter, and vytriole
And dyuers fyres, made of woode and cole
Sal tartre, alcaly, and sal preparate
And combust maters, and coagulate
Cley made wt horse dūge, mans heere, & oyle
Of tartre aln, glas, berme, worte, & argo••
Resalgor, and other maters enbybynge
And eke of our maters encorporynge
And of our syluer cytrination
Our sementynge, and eke fermentacion
Our Ingottes testes, and many mo
I wol you tel as was me taught also
The foure spirites, and the bodyes seuen
By order, as ofte I herde my lorde nemene.
¶The fyrst spirite quycke syluer cleped is
The seconde orpyment, the thyrde ywys
Sal armonyake, the fourth brymstone
¶The bodyes seuen eke, lo here hem anone
Sol golde is, and Luna syluer we threpe
Mars yron, Mercurye quycksyluer we clepe
Saturnus leede, and Iupiter is tynne
And Venus coper, by my father kynne
¶Thys cursed crafte, who so wol exercyse
He shal no good haue that may hym suffyse
For al the good he spendeth theraboute
He lese shal, therof haue I no doute
who so that lysten to vtter hys folye
Let hym come forth & lerne to multiplye
And euery man that hath aught in hys cofer
Let hym apere, and were a philosopher
Askaunce that crafte is so lyght for to lere
Nay nay god wote, al be he monke or frere
Preest or chanon, or any other wyght
Though he syt at his boke both day & nyght
In lernynge of thys eluyshe nyce lore
Al is in vayne, and parde moche more
Is to lere a leude man thys subtelte
Fye speake not therof, it wol not be
Page  lxvAl coulde he lettrure, or coulde he none
As in effecte, he shal fynde it al one
For both two, by my saluacion
Concluden in multiplicacion
I lyche wel, when they haue al ydo
Thys is to sayne, they faylen both two.
¶Yet forgate I moche rehersayle
Of waters corosyfe, and of lymayle
And of bodyes mollifycacion
And also of her induracion
Oyles, ablucions, metal fusyble
To tellen you al, wolde passe any byble
That o where is, wherfore as for the beste
Of al these names nowe wol I reste
For as I trowe, I haue you tolde ynowe
To reyse a fende, al loke he neuer so rowe.
¶A nay let be the phylosophers stone
Alixer cleped, we seken faste echeone
For had we him, thē were we syker ynowe
But vnto god of heuen I make auowe
For al our crafte, when that we han al ydo
And al our sleyght, he wol not come vs to
He hath made vs spende moche good
For sorow of which, almost we waxē wood
But that good hope crepeth in our herte
Supposynge euer, though we sore smerte
To ben releued by hym afterwarde
Supposynge and hope is sharpe and harde
I warne you wel it is to syken euer
That future temps hath made men dysceuer
In trust therof, all that euer they had
Yet of that arte, they coulde not waxe sad
For vnto hym it is a bytter swete
So semed it, for ne had they but a shete
Which yt they myght wrappē thē in anyght
And a bratte to walken in the daye lyght
They wolden hem sel, & spēde it on this craft
They conne not stynte tyl nothynge be laft
And euer more, where that euer they gone
Men may hem ken by smel of brymstone
For al the worlde they stynken as a gote
Her sauour is so rammysh & so hote
That though a man a myle from hem be
The sauour wol enfecte hym trusteth me
Lo, thus by smellyng, & by thred bare aray
Yf that men lyst, thys folke knowe they may
And yf a man wol aske hem priuely
why they be clothed so vnthryftely
Ryght anone they wol rowne in hys ere
And sayne, yf that they aspyed were
Men wolde hem slee, bycause of her science
Lo thus these folke bytrayen innocence
Passe ouer thys, I go my tale vnto.
¶Er that the potte be on the fyre ydo
Of metalles, wyth a certayne quantyte
My lorde hem tempreth, & no man but he
Nowe he is gone, I dare saye boldely
For as men sayne, he can do craftely
Algate I wotte wel he hath suche a name
And yet ful ofte he renneth in the blame
And wote ye howe, ful ofte it happeth so
The potte to breketh, and farewel al is go
These metalles ben of so great violence
Our walles may not make hem resystence
But yf they were wrought of lime and stone
They percen so, & through the wal they gone
And some of hem synken in to the grounde
Thus haue we lost by tymes many a poūde
And some are scatered al the floore aboute
Some lepen into the rofe wythouten doute
Tho yt the fende not in our syght hym shewe
I trowe that he with vs be, that ylke shrewe
In hel where that he is lorde and syre
Ne is there no more wo, ne angre ne yre
when that our potte is broke, as I haue sayd
Euery man chyte, & holte hym yuel apayde
Some sayd it was longe of the fyre makyng
Some sayd nay, it was on the blowyng
Then was I ferde, for that was myn offyce
¶Strawe ({quod} the thyrde) ye ben leude & nyce
It was not tempred as it ought to be
¶Nay ({quod} the fourth) stynte & herken me
Bycause our fyre was not made of beche
That is the cause, and none other so theche
I can not tel wheron it is alonge
But wel I wote great stryfe is vs amonge.
what ({quod} my lord) ther nys no more to done
Of these perylles I wol beware efte sone
I am ryght syker, that the potte was crased
Be as be maye, be ye not amased
As vsage is, let swepe the floore as swythe
Plucke vp your hert, and be glad and blythe.
The mullocke on an heape yswepte was
And on the floore caste a canuas
And al thys mulloke in a syue ythrowe
And ysyfted and aplucked many a throwe.
Parde ({quod} one) somwhat of our metall
Yet is there here, though we haue not all
And tho this thyng mishapped hath as now
An other tyme it may ben wel ynow
we more put our good in auenture
A marchaunt parde, maye not aye endure
Trusteth me wel in hys prosperite
Somtyme hys good is drowned in the see
Page  [unnumbered]And somtyme it cometh safe vnto the londe
Peace ({quod} my lord) ye next tyme I wol fonde
To brynge our crafte al in an other plyte
And but I do syrs, let me haue the wyte
There was defaute in somwhat wel I wote
¶An other sayd, the fyre was ouer hote
But be it hote or colde, I dare saye this
That we concluden euer more amys
we faylen of that whych we wolde haue
And in our madnesse euer more we raue
And when we be together euerychon
Euery man semeth as wyse as Salomon
But al thyng, whych that shyneth as ye golde
Is not golde, as I haue herde tolde
Ne euery appel that is fayre at eye
Nys not good, what so men clappe or crye.
¶Ryght so it fareth amonge vs
He that semeth the wysest by Iesus
Is moost foole, when it cometh to the prefe
And he that semeth truest is a thefe
That shal ye know, er that I from you wēde
By that I of my tale haue made an ende.
¶There was a chanon of religioun
Amonges vs, wolde enfecte al a toun
Though it as great were as Niniue
Rome, Alysaundre, Troye, and other thre
Hys sleyght and hys infinite falsnesse
There couth no man wryten as I gesse
Though that he might lyue a thousand yere
In al thys worlde of falsnesse nys hys pere
For in hys termes he wol hym so wynde
And speake hys wordes in so slye a kynde
when he comen shal wyth any wyght
That he wol make hym dote anone ryght
But it a fende be as hym selfe is
Ful many a man hath he begyled er thys
And mo wol, yf that he may lyue a whyle
And yet men ryden & gone ful many a myle
Hym for to seke, and haue aquayntaunce
Not knowynge of hys false gouernaunce
And yf ye lust to gyue me audience
I wol it tellen here in your presence.
¶But worshypful chanons religiouse
Ne demeth not that I sclaunder your house
Al though my tale of a chanon be
Of euery ordre some shrewe is parde
And god forbyd that al a companye
Shulde rue a syngler mannes folye
To slaunder you is not myne entente
But to correcte that mysse is mente
Thys tale was not only tolde for you
But eke for other mo, ye wote wel howe
That amonge Christes apostles twelue
Ther was no traytour but Iudas hym selue
Then why shulde the remnaūt haue blame
That gyltlesse were, by you I saye the same
Saue only thys, yf ye wol herken me
Yf any Iudas in your couent be
Remeueth hym betyme, I you rede
Yf shame or losse may causen any drede
And be nothynge dyspleased I you praye
But in thys case herkeneth what I saye.
In Londen was a preest annuellere
That therin had dwelt many a yere
whych was so pleasaunt and so seruysable
Vnto the wyfe, where he was at table
That she wolde suffre hym nothynge to pay
For borde ne clothyng, went he neuer so gay
And spendynge syluer had he ryght ynowe
Therof no force, I wol procede as nowe
And tel forth my tale of the chanon
That brought thys preest to confusyon.
¶Thys false chanon came vpon a daye
Vnto thys preestes chambre, where he laye
Besechynge hym to leue hym a certayne
Of golde, and he wolde quyte hym ayen
Leueth me a marke ({quod} he) but dayes thre
And at my daye I wol quyte it the
And yf it so be, chat thou fynde me false
Another daye hange me by the halfe
This prest toke him a marke & that swyth
And thys chanon hym thanked ofte syth
And toke hys leaue, and went forth hys wey
And at thyrde daye brought hys money
And to thys preest he toke thys golde acyen
wherof thys preest was glad and fayn
¶Certes ({quod} he) nothynge anoyeth me
To leue a man a noble, two or thre
Or what thynge were in my possession
when he so trewe is of condicion
That in no wyse he breke wol hys daye
To suche a man I can neuer saye naye.
what {quod} this chanon, shulde I be vntrewe
Nay, that were thynge fallen of newe
Trouth is a thynge that I wol euer kepe
Vnto the daye, in whych I shal crepe
Into my graue, or els god forbede
Beleueth thys as syker as your crede
God thanke I, & in good tyme be it sayde
That there nas neuer man yet yuel apayde
For golde ne syluer that he to me lent
Ne neuer falshede in myne herte I ment.
And syr ({quod} he) nowe of my priuete
Page  lxviSens ye so goodlyche haue ben to me
And kythe to me so great gentylnesse
Somwhat to quyte with your kyndenesse
I wol you shewe, yf ye wol it lere
(I shal it shewe to you anon right here)
Howe I can werche in philosophye
Taketh good hede, ye shal it se with your eye
That I wol done a maistrye or I go.
¶Ye syr ({quod} the preest) and wol ye so
Marye therof I pray you hertely.
¶At your cōmaundement ser truely
({quod} the chanon) and els god forbede
Lo howe this thefe couthe his seruyce bede
Ful sothe is that suche profered seruyse
Stynketh, as wytnesseth the olde wyse
And that ful sone I wol it verifye
In this chanon, rote of al trecherie
That euermore delyte hath and gladnesse
Such fendely thoughtes in his hert empresse
How christes people he may to mischefe bring
God kepe vs from his false dissymulyng.
¶what wyst thys preest wt whom yt he delte
Ne of hys harme cōmyng nothyng he felte
O sely preest, O sely innocente
with couetyse anon thou shalte be blente
O gracelesse, ful blynde is thy conceyte
Nothyng arte thou ware of hys disceyte
Which that this foxe hath shapen to the
His wylye wrenches thou mayste not fle
Wherfore to go to the conclusyon
That referreth to thy confusyon
Vnhappy man, anon I wol me hye
To tel thyne vnwytte ne thy folye
And eke the falsnesse of that other wretche
As ferforthe as my connyng wol stretche
¶This chanon was my lord ye wolde wene
Syr host in faythe, and by the heuen quene
It was another chanon, and not he?
That can an hundred folde more subtelte
He hath betrayed folke many a tyme
Of his falsnesse it doleth me to ryme
Euer whan I speke of hys falseheed
For shame of hym, my chekes waxen reed
Algates they begynnen for to glowe
For rednesse haue I non, right wel I knowe
In my visage, for sumes dyuerce
Of metals, whiche ye haue herde me reherce
Consumed and wasted hath my rednesse
Nowe take hede of this chanons cursydnesse.
Syr ({quod} he) to the preest, let your man gon
For quick syluer, that we it had anon
And let hym brynge vnces two or thre
And whan he cōmeth, as faste shul ye se
A wonder thyng, which ye saw neuer er this
Syr ({quod} the preest) it shal be done iwys
He badde his seruaunt fetch him this thyng
And he al redy was at hys byddyng
And went him forth, and came anon agayne
with this quicksyluer, shortly for to sayne
And toke these vnces thre to the chanoun
And he hem layde wel and fayre adoun
And bade the seruaunt coles for to bryng
That he anon might go to hys werkyng
¶The coles right anon were yfet
And this chanon toke out a crosselet
Of his bosome, and shewed it to the preest
This instrument ({quod} he) which that thou seest
Take in thy honde, and put thy selfe therin
Of this quicksyluer an vnce and begyn
In the name of Christ to wexe a philosopher
There be ful fewe, whiche I wolde it profer
To shewe hem this moche of my science
For here shul ye se by experience
That this quicksyluer I wol mortifye
Right in your syght anon withouten lye
And make it as good syluer and as fyne
As there is any in your purse or myne
Or els where, and make it malliable
And els holde me false and vnstable
Amonges folke euer to appere.
¶I haue a poudre, that coste me dere
Shal make al good, for it is cause of al
My connyng, whiche I you shewe shal
Voydeth your man, and let him be therout
And shette the dore, whyles we ben aboute
Our priuetie, that no man vs espye
whyles that we werken in our philosophye
Al as he bade, fulfylled was in dede
This ylke seruaunt anon out yede
And hys maister shette the dore anon
And to her labour spedily they gon
This preest at this cursed chanons byddyng
Vpon the fyre anon set this thyng
And blewe the fyre, & besyed hym ful faste
And this chanon into this croslet caste
A pouder, I not wherof it was
Ymade, eyther of chalke, erthe, or glasse
Or somwhat els, was not worthe a flye
To blynde with this preest, & badde hym hye
These coles for to couchen al aboue
The crosselet, for in token that I the loue
(Quod this chanon) thyne hondes two
Shal werke al thyng that here shal be do.
Graunt mercy, {quod} the preest, & was ful glad
Page  [unnumbered]And couched coles, as the chanon bad
And whyle he busy was, thys fēdely wretch
Thys false chanon, the foule fende him fetch
Out of hys bosome toke a bechen cole
In whych ful subtelly was made an hole
And therin was put of syluer limayle
An vnce, and stopped was wythout fayle
The hole wyth waxe, to kepe the limayle in
And vnderstandeth that thys false gyn
was not made there, but it was made before
And other thynges that I shal you tel more
Hereafter, whych that he wyth him brought
Er he came there, to begyle hym he thought
And so he dyd, er they wente a twynne
Tyl he had turned hym, could he not blynne
It dulleth me, when that I of hym speke
On hys falshede, fayne wolde I me wreke
Yf I wyst howe, but he is here and there
He is so variaunt, he hydeth no where
¶But taketh hede syrs now for goddes loue
He toke hys cole, of whych I spake aboue
And in hys hande he bare it priuely
And whyles the preest couched besely
The coles, as I tolde you er thys
Thys chanon sayd, frende ye doue amys
Thys is not couched as it ought to be
But sone I shal amende it ({quod} he)
Nowe let me medle therwyth but a whyle
For of you haue I pyte by saynt Gyle
Ye ben ryght hotte, I se wel howe ye swete
Haue here a cloth and wype awaye the wete
And whyle the preest hym wyped hace
This chanon toke the cole, I shrewe his face
And layde it abouen vpon the mydwarde
Of the croslet, and blewe well afterwarde
Tyl that the coles gonne faste brenne
¶Nowe yeue vs drynke, {quod} thys chanō then
As swyth al shall be wel I vndertake
Sytte we downe, and let vs mery make
And when thys chanons bechen cole
was brent al, the limayle out of the hole
Into the crosselette anone fel adoun
And so it muste nedes by resoun
Sens it so euen aboue couched was
But therof wyst the preest nothynge, alas
He demed al the coles lyche goode
For of the sleyght, nothynge he vnderstode.
And whē thys alkamystre sawe his tyme
Ryseth vp syr preest ({quod} he) & standeth by me
And for I wote wel yngot haue I none
Goth walketh forth, & brynge a chalke stone
For I wol make it of the same shappe
That an yngot is, yf I maye haue happe
And brynge eke wyth you a bolle or a panne
Ful of water, and ye shal se thanne
Howe that our busynesse shal happe & preue
And yet for ye shal haue no mysbeleue
Ne wronge conceyte of me in your absence
I wol not ben out of your presence
But go wyth you, & come wyth you agayne
The chambre dore, shortly to sayne
They opened & shette, & went forth her wey
And forth wyth hem they caryed the key
And comen ayen wythouten any delaye
what shulde I tarye al the longe daye
He toke the chalke, and shope it in the wyse
Of an yngot, as I shal you deuyse
I saye he toke out of hys owne sleue
A teyne of syluer, yuel mote he cheue
whych that was but an vnce of weyght
And taketh hede nowe of hys cursed sleyght
He shope hys yngot, in lenght and in brede
Of the teyne, wythouten any drede
So slyly that the preest it not aspyde
And in hys sleue agayne he gan it hyde
And from the fyre toke vp hys matere
And in to the yngot it put wyth mery chere
And into the water vessel he it caste
when that hym lyst, & bad the preest as faste
Loke what ther is, put in thyn hāde & grope
Thou shalt fynde there syluer as I hope
what dyuel of hel shulde it els be
Shauynge of syluer, syluer is parde.
He put in hys hande, and toke vp a reyne
Of syluer fyne, and glade in euery vayne
was thys preest, when he sawe it was so
Goddes blyssynge and hys mothers also
And al hallowes, haue ye syr chanon
Sayd thys preest, and I her malyson
But and ye vouchsafe to teche me
Thys noble crafte and thys subtelte
I wol be yours, in al that euer I may
{quod} the Chanon, yet wol I make assay
The seconde tyme, that ye mowe take hede
And ben expert of thys, and in your nede
Another daye assay in myne absence
Thys dysciplyne, and thys crafty science
Lette take another ounce ({quod} he) tho
Of quycke syluer, wythouten wordes mo
And done therwyth, as I haue done er thys
wyth that other, whych that nowe syluer is.
¶Thys preest hym besyeth in al that he can
To done as thys Chanon, thys cursed man
Commaunded hym, and faste blewe the fyre
Page  lxviiFor to come to the effecte of his desyre
And this chanon, right in the mean while
Al redy was, this preest efte to begyle
And for a countynaunce in his honde bare
An holowe sticke, take kepe and beware
In thende of which an vnce and no more
Of syluer lymaile putte was al before
was in his cole, and stopped with wexe wele
For to kepen in his lymaile euery dele
And whiles this peest was in his besynesse
This chanon with his sticke gan him dresse
To hym anon, and his pouder cast in
As he dyd erst, the deuyl out of hys skyn
Him torne, I praye to god for his falshede
For he was euer false in thought and dede
And with his sticke, aboue the crosselette
That was ordayned with that false iette
He styrreth the coles, tyl al relent gan
The waxe agayne the fyre, as euery man
But he a fole be, wot wel it mote nede
And al that in the hole was, out yede
And into the crosselet hastely it fel
The preest supposed nothynge but wel
But besyed hym faste, & was wonder fayne
Supposyng nought but trouth, soth to sayn
He was so glad, that I can nat expresse
In no manere hys myrthe and his gladnesse
And to the chanon he profered efte sone
Body and good: ye ({quod} the chanon) anone
Tho I be poore, crafty thou shalt me fynde
I warne the yet is there more behynde
Is there any coper here within sayd he?
¶Ye syr ({quod} the preest) I trowe there by.
Els go bye some, and that aswythe
Nowe good syr go forth thy way & hythe.
¶He went his way, & with ye coper he came
And this Chanon in his honde it name
And of that coper wayed out but an vnce
Al to symple is my tonge to pronounce
As to minystre of my wytte the doublenesse
Of this chanon, rote of al cursydnesse
He semed frēdly, to hem yt knew him nought
But he was fendly, both in werke & thought
It weryeth me to tel of hys falsenesse
And nathelesse, yet wol I it expresse
To the entent that men may beware therby
And for none other cause truely.
¶He put this vnce of coper into the crosselet
And on the fyre as swythe he hath it sette
And cast in pouder, & made ye preest to blowe
And in his workyng for to stoupe lowe
As he dyd erste, and al nas but a iape
Ryght as hym lyst, ye preest he made hys ape
And afterwarde in the yngot he it caste
And in the panne put it at the laste
Of water, and in he put hys owne honde
And in hys sleue, as ye beforehonde
Herde me tel, he had a syluer teyne
He slily toke it out, thys cursed heyne
Vnwetynge thys preest of hys false crafte
And in the pannes botome he hath it lafte
And in the water rombleth to and fro
And wonder priuely toke vp also
The coper teyne, not knowynge thys preest
And hyd it, and hent hym by the brest
And to hym spake, & thus sayd in hys game
Stoupeth adowne, by god ye be to blame
Helpeth me nowe, as I dyd you wylere
Put in your honde, and loketh what is there
¶This preest toke vp this syluer teyne anon
And then sayd the chanon, let vs gon
with these thre teines, which we han wrouʒt
To some goldsmyth, and wete yf it be ought
For by my fayth, I nolde for my hoode
But yf it were syluer fyne and good
And that as swyth proued shalbe.
¶Vnto ye goldsmyth, with these teynes thre
They went, and put them in assaye
So fyre and hāmer, might no man say naye
But they were as them ought for to be.
This sotted prest, who was gladder thē he
was neuer byrde gladder ayenst the day
Ne nyghtyngale, ayenst the ceson of May
was neuer none, that lyste better to synge
Ne lady lustyer in carollynge
And for to speake of loue and womanhede
Ne knyght in armes, to don a hardy dede
To standen in grace of hys lady dere
Then had thys preest, thys crafte to lere
And to the chanon, thus he spake, and sayd
For the loue of God, that for vs al deyd
And as I may deserue it vnto you
what shal this receit cost, telleth me nowe?
¶By our lady ({quod} thys chanon) it is dere
I warne you wel, saue I and a frere
In Englande, there can no man it make.
No force ({quod} he) nowe syr for goddes sake
what shall I paye, tel me I you praye.
I wys ({quod} he) it is ful dere I saye
Syr at one worde yf that ye lyst it haue
Ye shal pay fourty pounde, so god me saue
And nere the frendshyp that ye dyd er thys
To me, ye shulde paye more ywys.
¶This preest ye sūme of fourty poūde anone
Page  [unnumbered]Of nobles fette, and tolde hem euerychone
To thys chanon, for thys ylke receyte
Al hys worchynge was fraude and dysceyte
Sir prest he said, I kepe for to haue no loos
Of my crafte, for I wolde it were kept cloos
And as ye loue me, kepeth it secre
For and men knowe al my subtelte
By god men wolde haue so great enuye
To me, bycause of my philosophye
I shulde be deed, there were none other way
¶God it forbyd ({quod} the preest) what ye say
Yet had I leuer spende al the good
whych that I haue, and els waxe I wood
Then that ye shulde fallen in suche myschefe
For your good wyl haue ye ryght good prefe
({quod} the chanon) and farewel graunt mercy
He went hys way, & neuer the preest hym sey
After that day: & when that thys prest sholde
Maken assay, at such tyme as he wolde
Of thys receyte, farewel it nolde not be
Lo thus be iaped and begyled was he
Thus maketh he hys introduction
To brynge folke to her destruction.
Consydereth syrs, howe in eche estate
Betwyxt men and golde is debate
So ferforth, that vnnethes there is none
Thys moultiplyenge blyndeth so many one
That in good fayth, I trowe that it be
The greatest cause of suche scarsite
These phylosophers speaken so mystely
In this craft, that men can not come therby
For any wytte that men haue now a dayes
They may wel chattre & iāgle as do ye iayes
And in her termes, set her luste and payne
But to her purpose shul they neuer attayne
A man may lyghtly lerne, yf he haue ought
To multiplye, & brynge hys good to nought
Lo, suche a lucre is in thys lusty game
A mans myrth it wol turne al to grame
And empten also great and heuy purses
And maken folke to purchase curses
Of hem that han also her good ylente
O fye for shame, they that han be brente
Alas, can not they flye the fyres hete
Ye that it vsen, I rede that ye it lete
Lest yt ye lesen al, for better thē neuer is late
Neuer to thryue, were to longe a date
Though yt ye prolle aye, ye shal it neuer fynd
Ye ben as bolde as is bayarde the blynd
That blōdereth forth, & peryl casteth he none
He is as bolde to renne ayenst a stone
As for to go besyde in the waye
So faren ye, that multiplyen I saye
Yf that your eyen can not sene aryght
Loketh that your mynde lacke not his syght
For though ye loke neuer so brode & stare
Ye shal not wynne a myte in that chaffare
But wast al that ye may repe and renne
wythdrawe the fyre, leste it to fast brenne
Medleth wyth that arte no more I mene
For yf ye done, your thryfte is gone ful clene
And ryght as swyth I wol you tellen here
what yt the philosophers sayn in this matere
¶Lo thus sayeth Arnolde of the new toun
As hys rosarye maketh mencioun
He sayeth ryght thus, wythouten any lye
There may no man Mercurye mortifye
But yf it be wyth hys brothers knowlegyng
Lo howe yt he, whych fyrst sayde thys thyng
Of philosophers father was, Hermes
He sayeth howe the dragon doutles
Ne dyeth not, but yf he be slayne
wyth hys brother: And thys is for to sayne
By the dragon Mercurye, and none other
He vnderstode yt brimstone was his brother
That out of Sol and Luna were ydrawe
And therfore sayd he, take hede to my sawe
Let no mā busye hym this arte for to seche
But he that the entencion and speche
Of philosophers vnderstande can
And yf he do, he is a lende man
For thys science, and thys connyng ({quod} he)
Is of the secre of the secres parde.
¶Also there was a dysciple of Plato
That on a tyme sayd hys mayster to
As hys boke Semor wol bere wytnesse
And thys was hys demaūde in sothfastnesse
Tel me the name of the preuy stone
¶And Plato answered vnto hym anone
Take the stone that Tytanos men name.
¶whych is ye ({quod} he) Magnatia is the same
Sayd Plato: yea syr and is it thus?
Thys is ignotum per ignotius
what is Magnatia, good syr I you pray.
¶It is a water that is made I say
Of elementes foure (quod Plato)
¶Tel me the roche good syr ({quod} he tho)
Of that water, yf it be your wyl.
Nay nay ({quod} Plato) certayne that I nyll
The philosophers were ysworne echone
That they shulde dyscouer it vnto none
Ne in no boke it wryte in no manere
For vnto Christ it is so lefe and dere
That he wol not that it dyscouered be
Page  lxviiiBut where it lyketh to hys deite
Man to enspyre and eke for to defende
when that hym lyketh, lo thys is his ende
¶Then conclude I thus, sens ye god of heuē
Ne wyl not that the phylosophers nemen
Howe that a mā shal come vnto thys stone
I rede as for the best, let it gone
For who so maketh god hys aduersarye
As for to werch any thynge in contrarye
Vnto hys wyl, certes neuer shal he thriue
Though that he multiplye terme of his lyue
And there a poynte, for ended is my tale
God sende euery true man bote of hys bale.

¶Here endeth the tale of the chanons yeman, a no here foloweth the doctour of phisykes prologue.

When thys yeman hys tale ended had
Of thys false chanon, whych was so bad
Our hoste gan saye, truely and certayne
Thys preest was begyled, sothe for to sayne
He wenynge for to be a philosopher
Tyl he ryght no golde lefte in hys cofer
And sothly thys preest had alther iape
Thys cursed chanon put in hys hode an ape
But al thys passe I ouer as now
Syr doctour of phisyke, yet I pray you
Tel vs a tale of some honeste matere
It shalbe done, yf that ye wol it here
Sayd thys doctour, & hys tale began anone
Now good mē ({quod} he) herkeneth euerychone.

¶Here endeth the doctour of phi∣sykes prologue, and here be∣gynneth hys tale.
[illustration]

THere was, as telleth vs Ty∣tus Liuius
A knyght, that clypped was Virginius
Fulfylled of honour and of worthynesse
And stronge of frendes, and of rychesse
A doughter he had by hys wyfe
And neuer had he mo in al hys lyfe
Fayre was thys mayde in excellent beaute
Abouen euery wyght that man may se
For nature hath, wyth souerayne diligence
Formed her in so great excellence
As though she wolde say, lo I nature
Thus can I forme and paynt a creature
when that me lyste, who can me counterfete
Pigmaliō not, though he alway forge & bete
Or graue or paynte, for I dare wel sayne
Appelles, or zeusis, shulde werche in vayne
To graue or paynte, or forge or bete
Yf they presumed me to counterfete
For he that is the former principall
Hath made me hys vycar generall
Page  [unnumbered]To fourme and paynte erthely creaturis
Right as me lyste, for al thyng in my cure is
Vnder the moone, that may wane and waxe
And for my werke, nothyng wol I axe
My lorde and I ben fully of a corde
I made her to the worshyp of my lorde
So do I al myne other creatures
Of what coloure they be, or of what fygures
Thus semeth me that nature wolde say.
This mayd was of age twelue yere & tway
In which that nature hath suche delyte
For right as she can paynte a lyllye whyte
And rody as rose, right with suche paynture
She paynted hath this noble creature
Er she was borne, vpon her lymmes fre
Were als bright as suche colours shulde be
And Phebus died had her tresses grete
Lyke to the stremes of his burned hete
And yf that excellent were her beaute
A thousande folde more vertuous was she
In her ne lacketh no conditioun
That is to preyse, as by discretioun
As wel in body as in gost, chaste was she
For whiche she floured in virginite
with al humylyte and abstynence
With al attemperaunce and pacience
with mesure eke, and beryng of array
Discrete she was in answeryng alway
Tho she were wyse as Pallas, dare I sayn
(Her faconde eke, ful womanly and playn)
No counterfayted termes had she
To seme wyse: but after her degree
She spake, and al her wordes more & lesse
Sownyng in vertue and in gentyllesse
Shamfast she was, ī maydēs shamfastnesse
Constant in hert, and euer in busynesse
To dryue her out of al slogardry
Bacchus had of her mouthe no maistry
For wyne and youth done Venus encrece
As men in fyre wol casten oyle or grece
And of her owne vertue vnconstrayned
She hath ful ofte her sicke yfayned
For that she wolde slye the company
Where lykely was to treten of foly
As is at feestes, at reuels, and at daunces
That ben occasyons of dalyaunces
Suche thynges maken chyldren for to be
To sone rype and bolde, as men may se
whiche is ful perillous, and hath ben yore
For al to sone may she lerne lore
Of boldnesse, whan she is a wyfe.
And ye maistresses in your olde lyfe
That lordes doughters han in gouernaunce
Ne taketh of my worde no diplesaunce
Thynke that ye ben set in gouernynges
Of lordes doughters, onely for two thynges
Eyther for ye han kepte your honeste
Eyther ye han fal in freelte
And knowen wel ynough the olde daunce
And conne forsake fully mischaunce
For euermore, therfore for Christes sake
Kepeth wel tho that ye vndertake.
¶A thefe of venyson that hath forlafte
His lykerousnesse, and al his theues crafte
Can kepe a forest best of any man
Nowe kepeth hem wel, for & ye wol ye can
Loketh wel, to no vice that ye assent
Lest ye be dampned for your yuel entent
For who so dothe, a traytour is certayn
And taketh kepe of that I shal you sayn
Of al treyson souerayne pestilence
Is, whan a wight betrayeth innocence
Ye fathers, and eke ye mothers also
Though ye han chyldren, be it one or mo
Yours is the charge of al her sufferaunce
whiles they ben in your gouernaunce
Beth ware, that by ensample of your lyueng
Eyther by your neglygence in chastisynge
That they ne perishe: for I dare wel say
If that they don, ye shal ful sore obey
Vnder a shepeherde softe and neglygent
The wolf hath many a shepe & lambe to rent
Suffyseth one ensample nowe as here
For I mote turne ayen to my matere.
¶This maid, of which I tel my tale expresse
She kepte her selue, she neded no maistresse
For in her lyueng maydens myght rede
As in a boke, euery good worke and dede
That longeth to a mayde vertuous
She was so prudent and so bountuous
For whiche out spronge on euery syde
Bothe of her beaute and of her bounte wyde
That thorowe ye lōde they preysed her echon
That loued vertue, saue enuy alone
That sorye is of other mennes wele
And gladde is of her sorowe, and vnhele
The doctour maketh this discriptioun
This mayde went on a day into the toun
Towarde the temple, with her mother dere
As is of yonge maydens the manere.
¶Nowe was there a Iustice in the toun
That gouernour was of that regioun
And so befyl, this Iustice his eyen cast
Vpon this mayde, auisyng her ful fast
Page  lxixAs she came foreby, there as the Iuge stode
Anone hys herte chaungeth and hys mode
So was he caught wt beaute of this mayde
And to hymselfe ful priuely he sayde
Thys mayde shalbe myne for any man
Anone the fende into hys herte can
And taught hym sodeynly, by what sleyght
The mayde to his purpose wynne he myght
For certes, by no force, ne by no mede
Hym thought he was not able for to spede
For she was stronge of frendes, and eke she
Confyrmed was in such souerayne beaute
That wel he wyst he myght her neuer wyn
As for to make her wyth her body synne
For whych wyth great delyberatioun
He sent after a clyent into the toun
The whych he knew ful subtyl & full bolde
This iuge vnto thys cliēt his tale hath tolde
In secrete wyse, and made hym to ensure
He shulde 〈◊〉 it vnto no creature
And yf he yd, he shulde lese hys hede
when assented was thys cursed rede
Glad was the iuge, and made good chere
And yaue hym gyftes precious and dere
¶when shapen was al thys conspiracie
Fro poynt to poynt, howe that hys lecherie
Parfourmed shulde be ful subtelly
As ye shullen after here openly
Home goeth thys clyent ye hyght Claudius
Thys false iuge, that hyght Appius
So was hys name, for it is no fable
But knowe for an hystorial thynge notable
The sentence of it sothe is out of doute
Thys false iuge goeth nowe fast aboute
To hasten hys delyte, al that he maye
And so byfell, that sone after on a daye
Thys false iuge, as telleth vs the storie
As he was wonte, sate in hys consystorie
And yaue hys domes vpon sondry caas
Thys false client came forth a ful gret paas
And sayd lorde, yf it be your wyll
As doth me ryght vpon thys pytous byll
In whych I playne vpon Virginius
And yf he wol say it is not thus
I wol proue it, and fynde good wytnesse
That soth is that my byl wol expresse
The iuge answerde, of thys in hys absence
I maye not yeue diffynite sentence
Let do hym cal, and I wol gladly here
Thou shalt haue ryght, and no wronge here
Virginius came to wete the iuges wyl
And ryght anone was radde thys cursed byl
The sentence of it, was as ye shal here.
¶To you my lorde Appius so dere
Sheweth your poore seruaunt claudius
Howe that a knyght called Virginius
Ayenst the lawe, and ayenst al equite
Holdeth expresse ayenst the wyl of me
My seruaunt, whych yt is my thrale by right
whych frō myne house was stolē on a night
whyles he was ful yonge, I wol it preue
By wytnesse lorde, so that ye you not greue
She is not hys doughter, what so he saye
wherfore my lorde iustyce I you praye
Yelde me my thrale, yf it be your wyll
Lo thys was al the sentence of that byll.
¶Virginius gan vpon the clyent beholde
But hastely, er he hys tale tolde
He wolde haue defēded it, as shulde a knight
And by wytnesse of many a trewe wyght
That al was false, that sayd hys aduersarye
Thys cursed iuge wolde no lenger tarye
Ne here a worde more of Virginius
But yaue hys iudgement, and sayd thus.
¶I deme anone this client his seruaūt haue
Thou shalt no lēger her in thyne house saue
Go brynge her forth, & put her in our warde
This cliēt shal haue his thral, thus I award
¶And whē thys worthy knyght Virginius
Through the assent of the iudge Appius
Muste by force hys dere doughter yeuen
Vnto the iudge, in lechery to lyuen
He goeth hym home, and set hym in hys hall
And let anone hys dere doughter call
And wyth face deed as ashen colde
Vpon her humble face he gan beholde
with fathers pyte, stickyng through his hert
Al wolde he not from hys purpose conuert.
¶Doughter ({quod} he) Virginia by thy name
There ben two wayes, eyther deth or shame
That thou muste suffre, alas yt I was borne
For neuer thou deseruedest wherforne
To dyen, wyth a sworde or wyth a knyfe
Oh dere doughter, comforte of my lyfe
whych I haue fostred vp wyth such plesaūce
That thou ne were out of my remembraūce
O doughter, whych that arte my last wo
And in my lyfe my last ioye also
O iemme of chastite, in pacience
Take thou thy death, thys is my sentence
For loue, and not for hate thou must be deed
My pytous hande mote smyte of thyne heed
Alas that euer Appius the sey
Thus hath he falsly iudged the to dey
Page  [unnumbered]And tolde her al the case, as ye before
Han herde, it nedeth not to tel it more
¶O mercy dere father ({quod} thys mayde)
And wyth that worde, both her armes layde
About hys necke, as she was wont to do
The teeres braste out of her eyen two
And sayd, O good father shal I dye
Is there no grace? is there no remedye?
¶No certes dere doughter myne ({quod} he)
Then yeue me leaue father myne ({quod} she)
My death to complayne a lytel space
For parde, Iepte yaue hys doughter grace
For to complayne, er he her slough, alas
And god it wote, nothynge was her trespas
But that she ranne her father fyrst to se
To welcome hym wyth great solempnyte
And with that word she fel a swoune anone
And after, whon her swounynge was gone
She ryseth vp, and to her father sayd
Blyssed be god that I shal dye a mayde
Yeue me my death, er that I haue a shame
Doth wt your child your wil a goddes name
And wyth ye worde, she prayeth hym ful ofte
That wt his swerd he should smitte her softe
And with that word, a swoune down she fel
Her father, wyth sorowfull herte and fell
Her heed of smote, and by the toppe it hente
And to the iudge he it yaue in presente
As he sate in dome in consystorye.
when the iudge it sawe as sayth the storye
He bade take hym, and hange hym also faste
But ryght anone al the people in thrast
To saue the knyght, for routh and for pytie
For knowen was the iudges iniquitie
The people anone had suspect in this thing
By maner of thys clyentes chalengynge
That it was by the assent of Appius
They wyste wel that he was lecherous
For whych vnto Appius they gone
And casten hym in prison ryght anone
where as he slowe hym selfe, and Claudius
That seruaunt was vnto thys Appius
was demed for to be hanged vpon a tre
But Virginius, of hys great pyte
So prayed for hym, that he was exiled
And els certes he had ben begyled
The remnaunt were hanged, more and lesse
That consented were to thys cursydnesse
Here may men se how syn hath hys meryte
Beware, for no mā wot how god wyl smyte
In no degre, ne in no maner wyse
The worme of conscience wol aryse
Of wycked lyfe, though it so priuy be
That no man wote of it but god and he
whether he be leude man or lered
He not howe sone he may be affered
Therfore I rede you thys counsayle take
Forsake synne, or synne you forsake

¶Here endeth the doctour of Phi∣sykes tale, and foloweth the wordes of the hoost.

OVr hoste gan swere as he were woode
Harowe ({quod} he) by nayles and by bloode
Thys was a false thefe, and a cursed iustyce
As shameful death, as herte may deuyse
Come to the iustyce and her aducas
Algate thys sely mayden is slayne, alas
Alas to dere bought she her beaute
wherfore I saye, that al men maye se
That yeftes of fortune, or of nature
Ben cause of death of many a creature
Her beaute was her death, I dare wel sayne
Alas so pytously as she was slayne
But here of wol I not procede as nowe
Men haue ful ofte more harme then prowe
But truely myne owne mayster dere
Thys is a pytous tale for to here
But nathelesse, passe ouer is no force
I pray to god to saue thy gentel cors
And thy vrinalles, and thy iordanes
Thyne ypocras, and eke thy galyanes
And euery boxe ful of letuarye
God blesse hem and our lady saynt Marye
So mote I the, thou arte a propre man
And ylyke a prelate, by saynt Runian
Saue that I can not speake wel in terme
But wel I wote, yu doest myn herte to yerne
That I haue almost ycaught a cardyacle
By corpus domini, but I haue tryacle
Or els a draught of moyste corny ale
Or but I here anone an other mery tale
My herte is loste, for pyte of thys mayde
Thou belamy, thou Iohan pardoner he said
Tel vs some mery tale, or iape, ryght anone.
It shalbe done ({quod} he) by saynt Runyon
But fyrst ({quod} he) here at thys ale stake
I wol both drynke, and eate of a cake
But ryght anone, these gentyls gan to crye
Page  lxxNay, let hym tel vs of no rebaudrye
Tel vs some moral thing, that we mow lere
Some wytte, and than wol we gladly here
I graunt ({quod} he) twys, but I mote thynke
On some honest thyng, whyles yt I drynke.

¶Here ende the wordes of the host, and here foloweth the pro∣logue of the Par∣doner.

LOrdynges ({quod} he) in chyrche whan I preche
I payne me to haue an hau∣teyn speche
And ring it out, as rounde as dothe a bel
For I can al be roote, that I tel
My teme is alwaye, and euer was
(Radix omnium malorum est cupiditas)
Fyrst I pronounce fro whens I come
And than my bylles I shewe al and some
Our ••ege lorde seale on my patent
That shewe I fyrst, my body to warent
That no man be so bolde, preest ne clerke
M to distourbe, of Christes holy werke
And after that, tel I forthe my tales
Bulles of Popes, and of Cardynales
Of Patriarkes, and of Byshoppes I shewe
And in latyn I speke wordes a fewe
To sauer with my predication
And for to steere men to deuotion
Than shewe I forth my long christal stones
Ycrammed ful of cloutes and of bones
Relykes they ben, as wene they echone
Than haue I in laton a sholderbone
whiche that was of an holy iewes shepe
Good men saye I, take of my wordes kepe
If that this bone be washen in any wel
If cowe or calfe, shepe, or oxe swel
That any worme hath eeten, or hem stonge
Take water of this wel, and washe his tong
And it is hole anon: and farthermore
Of pockes, and of scabbes, and euery sore
Shal shepe be hole, that of this wel
Drinketh a draught, take kepe of that I tel
¶If the good man that the beestes oweth
wol euery day, er the cocke croweth
Fastyng drynke of this wel a draught
As thilke holy iewe our elders taught
His beestes and his store shal multiplye
And syrs, also it healeth ielousye
For though a man be fal in ielous rage
Let make with this water his potage
And neuer shal he more his wyfe mistryst
Though he in sothe the defaute by her wyst
Al had she take preestes two or thre.
¶Here is a myttayne eke, that ye may se
He that his honde wol put in thys mittayne
He shal haue multiplyeng of his grayne
whan he hath sowen, be it whete or otes
So that he offer good pens or grotes
And men & women, o thyng I warne you
If any wight ben in this churche nowe
That hath done synne horrible, that he
Dare not for shame of it shriuen be
Or any woman, be she yonge or olde
That hath made her husbonde coke wolde
Suche folke shul haue no powre ne no grace
To offre to my relykes in this place
And who so fyndeth hym out of suche blame
Commeth vp and offre in goddes name
And I assoyle hym by the auctorite
Suche as by bulle was graunted to me.
¶By this gaude haue I wonne euery yere
An hundred marke, sythen I was pardonere
I stonde lyke a clerke in my pulpet
And the leude people byn downe yset
I preche so as ye haue lered here before
And tel an hundred iapes more
Than payn I me to stretche forth my necke
And este and west, vpon the people I becke
As dothe a doue, syttyng vpon a berne
My hondes and my tonge gon ful yerne
That it is ioy to se my besynesse
Of auarice, and of suche cursydnesse
Al my prechyng is for to maken hem fre
To yeuen her pens, and namely vnto me
For myne entent is not but for to wynne
And nothyng for correction of synne
I recke neuer, whan that they ben beryed
Thoughe her soules gon a blacburyed
For certes many a predycation
Cometh oft tyme of yuel entencion.
¶Some for pleasaunce of folke, & for flatery
To ben auaunced by hipocrysy
And some for veyne glorie, and some for hate
For whan I dare not other wayes debate
Than wol I sting hem with my tōge smerte
In prechyng, so that he shal not asterte
To ben diffamed falsly, yf that he
Hath trespased to my bretherne or to me
Page  [unnumbered]For though I tel not his propre name
Men shal wel knowe that it is the same
By signes, or by other circunstaunces
Thus quyte I folke, yt dothe vs displesaūces
Thus put I out my venym vnder hewe
Of holynesse, to semen holy and trewe
But shortly myne entent I wol deuyse
I preche of nothyng but of couetyse
Therfore my teme is yet, and euer was
Radix omnium malorum est cupiditas.
¶Thus can I preache ayenst the same vyce
Whiche that I vse, and that is auarice
But though my selfe be gilty in that synne
Yet can I maken other folke to twynne
From auarice, and sore hem to repent
But that is not my principal entent
I preche nothyng but for couetyse
Of this matere, it ought ynough suffyse.
Than tel I hem ensamples many one
Of olde stories, longe tyme agone
For leude people louen tales olde
which thynges they can wel reporte & holde
What trow ye? whiles that I may preche
And wynne golde and syluer for to teche
That I wol lyue in pouert wilfully?
Nay nay, I thought it neuer trewly
For I wol preche and begge in sōdrie londes
I wol not do no labour with myn hondes
Ne make baskettes, and lyue therby
Bycause I wol not begge idelly
I wol none of the apostels counterfete
I wol haue money, mault, chese, & whete
Al were it yeuen of the poorest page
Or of the poorest wydowe in a village
Though her children shuld sterue for famy
Nay, I wol drinke the lycoure of the wyne
And haue a ioly wenche in euery toun
But herkeneth lordynges my conclusyoun
Your lykyng is that I shulde tel a tale
Nowe I haue drōken a draught of corny ale
By god I hope I shal tel you a thynge
That shal by reson ben at your lykynge
For though my selfe be a ful vycious man
A morall tale yet I you tel can
whiche I am wonte to preche, for to wynne
Nowe holdeth your peace, my tale I woll begyn.

¶Here endeth the Pardoners prologue, and here folo∣weth his tale.
[illustration]

Page  lxxi
IN Flaunders whilō ther was a company
Of yonge folke, that haū∣ted foly
As hasarde, ryotte, Ste∣wes, & tauernes
Where as wyth harpes Lutes, and Geternes
They dauncen & playen at dyce nyght & day
And eeten also, ouer that her might may
Through which they don the dyuel sacrifyce
within the dyuels temple, in cursed wyse
By superfluite abhominable
Her othes ben so great and so damnable
That it is grisly for to here hem swere
Our blissed lordes body they al to tere
Hem thought iewes rent him not ynough
And eche of hem at others synne lough.
And right anon comen in tomblesteres
Fetys and smale and yonge froytereres
Syngers wilh harpes, bandes, & waferers
whiche that ben verely the dyuels offycers
To kyndlen and blowe the fyre of lechery
That is anexed vnto glotony
The holy writte take I to my wytnesse
That lechery is in wyne and dronkenesse.
¶Lo howe that dronken Lothe vnkyndly
Lay by his doughters two on wetyngly
So dronke he was, he nist what he wrought
And therfore sore repent hym ought
Herodes, who so wol the stories seche
There may ye lerne, & by ensample teche
whan he of wyne was replete at his feste
Right at his owne table, yaue his heste
To sleen Iohan the Baptiste ful giltlesse
Seneke saythe eke good wordes doutlesse
He saythe he can no difference fynde
Betwixt a man that is out of his mynde
And a man that is dronklewe
But woodnesse that is fallen in a shrewe
Perseuereth lenger than dothe dronknesse
O gloteny, ful of cursydnesse
O cause fyrst of our confusyon
O original of our dampnacion
Tyl Christ had bouʒt vs wt his blode agayn
Lo howe dere, shortly for to sayn
Bought was fyrst this cursed vilanye
Corrupt was al this world through glotony
Adam our forn father, and his wyfe also
Fro Paradyce, to labour and to wo
Were driuen for that vyce, it is no drede
For whyles that Adam fasted, as I rede
He was in paradyce, and whan that he
Ete of the frute, defended on the tre
Anon he was out caste to wo and payne
O gloteny, on the wel ought vs to playne.
¶Oh, wyste a man howe many maladyes
Foloweth of excesse and of glotenyes
He wolde ben the more mesurable
Of his dyete, syttyng at his table
Alas the shorte throte, the tender mouthe
Maketh that este, & west, northe, and southe,
In erthe, in eyre, in water, man to swynke
To getten a gloton dayntye mete and drinke
Of this mater, o Poule wel canste thou trete
Mete vnto wombe, & wombe eke vnto mete
Shal god distroy bothe as Poule saythe
Alas, a soule thyng it is by my faythe
To say this worde, and fouler is the dede
whan men so drinketh of the whyte & rede
That of his trothe he maketh his priue
Through thilke cursed superfluite.
¶The apostle sayth, wepyng ful pitously
There walken many, of which tolde haue I
I say it nowe wepyng with pitous voyce
There ben enemyes Of Christes croyse
Of which ye ende is deth, wombe is her god
O bely, O wombe, O stynkyng cod
Fulfylled of donge and of corrupcioun
At eyther ende of the soule is the soun
Howe great coste and laboure is to fynde
These cokes? how they stāpe, strain, & grinde
And turne substaunce in to accident
To fulfyl al thy lykerous talent
Out of the harde bones knocken they
The mary, for they caste it not awey
That may go through the gullet safe & sote
Of spycerie, of leues, barke, and rote
Shal ben his sauce ymade by delyte
To maken hym haue a newer apetyte
But certes he that haunteth suche delytes
Is deed, whiles that he lyueth in the vyces
¶A lecherouse thyng is wyne and drōknesse
It is ful of stryuyng and of wretchydnesse
Oh dronken man, disfygured in thy face
Sower is thy breth, foul art thou to enbrace
And through thy drōkē nose sowneth ye soun
As tho thou saydest aye, Sampson Sāpson
And yet god wote Sāpson drōk neuer wyne
Thou fallest, as it were a stycked swyne
Thy tonge is lost, and al thyne honest cure
For drynkennesse is very sepulture
Of mannes wytte, and his discretion
In whom that drinke hath domynation
Page  [unnumbered]He can no counsayle kepe, it is no drede
Nowe kepe you fro the whyte and fro ye rede
Namely fro the white wyne of Lepe
That is to sel in Fishe strete and in Chepe
This wyne of Spayne crepeth subtelly
In other wynes growyng fast by
Of whiche riseth suche fumosyte
That whan a mā hath drōck draughtes thre
And weneth that he be at home in Chepe
He is in Spayne, right at the towne of Lepe
Nought at Rochel, ne at Burdeaux toun
And than wol he say, Sampsoun Sāpsoun
But herkeneth lordiges o word, I you pray
That al the souerayne actes, dare I say
Of victories in the olde Testament
That thorowe very god, that is omnipotent
Were don in abstinence and in prayere
Loketh the Byble, and there ye mow it lere.
Loketh Attyla, the great conquerour
Deyd in his slepe, with shame and dishonour
Bledyng aye at his nose in dronknesse
A capitayne shulde lyue in sobernesse.
And ouer al this, auyse you right wel
what was cōmaunded vnto Lamuel?
Nat Samuel: but Lamuel saye I
Redeth the Byble, and fyndeth it expresly
Of wyne yeuyng to hem that haue iustyce
No more of this, for it may ynoughe suffyce.
And nowe that I haue spoke of glotenye
Nowe wol I defende you hasardrie
Hasarde is very mother of lesynges
And of disceyte, and cursed for swerynges
Blaspheme of christ, māslauʒter, & wast also
Of batayle ofte tyme, and of other mo
It is reprefe, and contrarye to honour
For to be holden a cōmen hasardour
And euer the hyer that he is of estate
The more he is holden desolate
If that a prince vse hasardrie
In al gouernaunce and policie
He is as by comen opinyon
Holde the lesse in reputacion.
¶Styllebon, that was holde a wyse ambas∣sadour
was sent in to Corinthe wt ful great honour
Fro Calydone, to maken hem alyaunce
And whan he came, happed this chaunce
That al the greatest that were of that londe
Playeng at hasarde he hem fonde
For whiche, as sone as it might be
He stale hym home ayen to his countre
And sayd, there wol I not lese my name
I nyl not take on me so great defame
For to alye you to none hasardours
Sendeth other wyser enbassadours
For by my trouthe, me were leuer dye
Than I shulde you to hasardours alye
For ye that ben so gloriouse in honours
Shal not alye you with hasardours
As by my wyl, ne by my tretie
This wyse philosopher, thus sayd he.
¶Loke eke howe to kyng Demetrius
The kyng of Parthes, as the boke saythe vs
Sent hym a payre of dyce of golde in scorne
For he had vsed hasardrie there byforne
For which he helde his glorie & his renoun
At no value or reputacioun
Lordes might fynde other maner play
Honest ynough to driue the day away.
Nowe wol I speke of othes false & great
A worde or two, as other bokes entreat
Great sweryng is thyng abhomynable
And false sweryng is yet more reprouable
The hye god forbade sweryng at all
wytnesse of Mathew, but in specyall
Of sweryng, saythe the holy Ieromye
Thou shalte swere soth thyn othes, & not lye
And swere in dome and eke in rightwysnesse
But ydle sweryng is a cursydnesse.
¶Beholde and se that in the fyrst table
Of hye goddes hestes honorable
Howe that the seconde heste of hym is this
Take not my name in ydelnesse amys
Lo, he rather forbyddeth such sweryng
Than homicide, or any other cursed thyng
I say as thus, by order it stondeth
This knoweth they yt his hestes vnderston∣deth
Howe that the seconde heste of god is that
And further more, I wol the tel al plat
That vengeaūce shal not parte fro his hou
That of hys othes is to outragyous
By goddes preciouse herte, and his bones
And by the blode of Christ, shed for vs ones
Seuen is my chaunce, and thyn fyue & thre
By goddes armes, yf thou falsly play me
This daggar shal thorowe thyn herte go
This frute cometh of thylke bones two
For swering, ire, falsnesse, and homicyde
Now for yt loue of Christ, that for vs dyde
Leaueth your othes, bothe great and smale
For I shal tel you a meruaylous tale.
¶These ryottours thre, of which I tel
Longe erste or prime ronge any bel
Page  lxxiiwere set hem in a tauerne to drinke
And as they sate, they herde a bel clynke
Byforne a cors, yt was caryed to his graue
That one of hem gan cal to his knaue
Go bette ({quod} he) and aske redely
what cors is this, that passeth forthe by
And loke that thou reporte his name wele.
¶Syr ({quod} he) it nedeth neuer a dele
It was me told er ye came here two houres
He was parde an olde felowe of yours
Al sodaynly was he slayne to nyght
For dronke as he sate on his benche vpright
There came a priuy thefe, men clepen dethe
That in this countrey al the people slethe
And with his speare he smote his hert a two
And went his way, withouten wordes mo
He hath a thousande slayne, this pestilence
And mayster, er ye come in his presence
Me thynketh that it were necessarye
For to beware of suche an aduersarye
Bethe redy for to meten hym euer more
Thus taught me my dame, I say no more.
¶By saynt Mary, sayd this tauernere
the chylde sayth sothe, for he hath this yere
Hence ouer a myle, slayne in a great village
Bothe man and woman, chylde and page
I nowe his habytacioun be there
To ben auysed, great wysedome it were
Er that he dyd a man dishonour.
¶Yea goddes armes ({quod} this ryottour)
Is it suche peril with him for to mete?
I shal hym seche by style & eke by strete
I make a vowe, by goddes digne bones
Herkeneth felowes, we thre ben al ones
Let eche of vs holde vp his honde to other
And eche of vs become others brother
And we wol slee this false traytour dethe
He shal be slayne, that so many slethe
By goddes dignite, er that it be nyght
¶To gider hā these thre her trouthes plight
To lyue and dye eche of hym with other
As though he were his owne brother
And vp they sterten al dronken in this rage
And forthe they gone, towarde that village
Of which the tauerner hath spoke before
And many a grisly othe han they swore
And Christes blessed body they to rent
Dethe shal be deed, and we may hym hent.
¶whan they han gone not fully a myle
Right as they wold haue troden ouer a style
An olde poore man with hem mette
This olde man ful mekely hem grette
And sayd, nowe lordynges god you se.
¶The proudest of these ryottours thre
Answerde ayen, what chorle wt harde grace
why art thou al forwrapped saue thy face?
why lyuest thou so longe in so great age?
¶This olde man gan loken in hys visage
And sayd thus: for I can not fynde
A man, though I walked into Iude
Neyther in cyte, ne in no village
That wol chaunge his youthe for myne age
And therfore mote I haue myn age styl
As longe tyme as it is goddes wyl.
Ne dethe alas, nyl not haue my lyfe
Thus walke I lyke a restlesse caityfe
And on ye ground, which is my mothers gate
I knocke with my staffe erlyche and late
And say, leue mother let me in
Lo howe I vanyshe, fleshe, bloode, & skyn
Alas, whan shal my bones ben at reste
Mother with you wolde I chaūge my cheste
That in my chamber longe tyme hath be
Ye for an heren cloute to wrappe in me
But yet to me she wol not done that grace
For whiche ful welked is my face
But syrs, to you it is no curtesye
To speken vnto an olde man villanye
But he trespace in worde eyther in dede
In holy writte, ye may your selfe wel rede
Ayenst an olde man, hoore vpon his heede
Ye shulde aryse, therfore I you rede
Ne doth vnto an old man no harme as now
No more than ye wolde a man dyd you
In age, yf that I may so longe abyde
And god be with you, whether ye go or ryde
I mote go thyder as I haue to go
¶Nay olde chorle, by god thou shalt not so
Sayd these other hasardours anon
Thou partest not so lightly by saynt Iohn
Thou spakest right now of thilk trayter deth
That in this countre al our frendes slethe
Haue here my trouthe thou arte his espye
Tel where he is, or els thou shalt dye
By god and by the holy sacrament
For sothely thou arte of hys assent
To slee vs yonge folke, thou false thefe.
¶Nowe syrs, yf it be to you sy lefe
To fynde dethe, turne vp this croked way
For in that groue I lefte hym by my fay
Vnder a tree, and there he wol abyde
Ne for your boste he nyl hym nothyng hyde
Se ye yōder oke, right there ye shal hī fynde
God saue you, that bought ayen mankynde
Page  [unnumbered]And you amende, thus sayd thus olde man
¶Than eueryche of these ryottours ran
Tyl they came to the tree, & there they foūde
Floreynes of golde fyne, ycoyned rounde
wel nye a seuen bushels, as hem thought
No lenger than after dethe they sought
But eche of hem so glad was of that syght
For that the Floreyns so fayre ben & bright
That downe they sytte, by the precious hord
The worst of hem spake the fyrst word.
¶Brethern ({quod} he) take kepe what I say
My wytte is great, though I borde & play
This tresure hath fortune to vs yeuen
In myrthe and iolyte our lyfe to lyuen
And lightly as it cōmeth, so wol we spende
Hey, goddes precious herte: who wende
To day, that we shulde haue so fayr a grace?
But might thus gold be caryed fro this place
Home to my house, or els to yours
(For wel I wote that al this golde is ours)
Than were we in hye felycite
But trewly by day it may not be
Men wolde say, that we were theues strōge
And for our owne tresoure than vs honge
This tresour muste ycaried be by night
As wisely and as ••ily as it might
Wherfore I rede, let loke amonge vs al
To drawe, & let se where the cutte wol fal
He that hath yt shortest cutte, with hert blyth
Shal renne to towne, and that ful swythe
To bring vs breed & drinke ful priuely
And two of vs shal kepe ful subtelly
This tresour wel, and yf he wol not tarye
whan it is night, we wol this tresour carye
By one assent, where as vs lyste best
That one of hem brought grasse in his fest
And bad hē draw, & loke on whō it wold fal
And it fel on the yongest of hem al
And forth towarde the towne he went anon
And al so sone as he was gone
That one of hem spake vnto that other
Thou wost wel, thou art my sworn brother
Thy profyte wol I tel the right anone
Thou woste wel that our felowe is gone
And here is golde, and that ful great plente
That shal departed be amonge vs thre
But nthelesse, yf that I can shape it so
That it departed were amonge vs two
Had I not done a frendly turne to the
That other answerd, I not how yt might be
I wol wel that the golde were ours two
what shulde we do, that it might be so?
¶Shal it be coūsayle (said the fyrst shrewe)
And I shal tel the in wordes fewe
what we wol done, and bryng it wel aboute.
I graunt ({quod} that other) out of doute
That by my trouth, I wol yt not bewrayne
¶Now ({quod} he) thou wost wel we ben twayn
And twayne of vs shal stronger be than one
Loke whan he is sette, and than anone
Aryse, as though thou woldest wt hym play
And I shal ryuen him through ye sydes tway
whyles yt thou strugglest wt hym as in game
And with thy dagger, loke thou do the same
And than shal al the golde departed be
My dere frende, betwixt the and me
Than may we bothe our lustes fulfyl
And play at dyce, right at our owne wyl
And thus accorded ben these shrewes tway
To slee the thyrde, as ye herde me say
This yongest, which yt went to the towne
Ful often in his herte he rolled vp and down
The beautie of these floreyns fayre & bright
O lorde ({quod} he) yf so were that I might
Haue al this tresour to my selfe alone
There nys no man, that lyueth vnder trone
Of god, that shulde lyue so mery as I
And at the laste the feude our enemy
Put in his thought, that he shuld poyson bey
with which he might sleen his felowes twey
For why, the fende fonde hym in such lyuing
That he had leue to sorowe hym to bryng
For this was vtterly hys entente
To sleen hem bothe, and neuer to repente.
¶And forth he goth, no lenger wold he tary
In to the towne, vnto a potecary
And prayde hym that he wol hym sel
Some poyson, that he might his rattes quel
And eke there was a polkat in his hawe
That as he sayd, his capons had yslawe
And sayd, he wold wreken hym if yt he might
Of vermyn, that distroyed hem by night.
¶The potecary answerde, thou shalt haue
A thyng, as wisely god my soule saue
In al this worlde there nys no creature
That eateth or drinketh of this confecture
Not but the moūtenaūce of a corne of whete
That he ne shal hys lyfe anon forlete
Yea sterue he shal, and that in lesse whyle
Thā thou woldest gon a pace, not but a myle
This poyson is so harde and so violent
¶This cursed man hath in his honde hent
This poyson in a bore, and sythe he ran
In to the next strete vnto a man
Page  lxxiiAnd borowed hym large botels thre
And in the two, the poyson poured he
The thyrde he kept clene for his drinke
For al the night he shope hym for to swynke
In caryeng of the golde out of that place
And whan this riottour, with sorie grace
Had fylde with hym hys great bottels thre
To his felowes ayen repayred he.
¶what nedeth it therof to sermon more?
For right as they had caste his dethe before
Right so they han hym slayne, & that anone
And whan this was done, than spake ye one
Nowe let vs syt and drinke, & make vs mery
And afterwarde we wolne his body bury
And after that it happed hem per caas
The one toke the botel, therin yt poyson was
And dronke, and yaue his felowe drinke also
Through which anon they sterne both two.
¶But certes I suppose that Auicenne
wrote neuer in no cannon, ne in no fenne
More wonder sorowes of enpoysonnyng
Than had these wretches two in her ending
Thus ended ben these homicides two
And eke the false enpoysonner also.
O cursed synne, ful of al cursydnesse
O traytours homicide, O wickydnesse
O glotenye, luxure, and hasardye
Thou blasphemour of Christ wyth vilanye
And othes great, of vsage and of pryde
Alas mankynde, howe may it betyde
That to thy creatoure, which yt the wrought
And with his precious bloode the bought
Thou arte so false and so vnkynde, alas?
Now good mē, godforyeue you your trespas
And ware you fro the synne of auaryce
Myne holy pardon, may you al waryshe
So that ye offre nobles or starlynges
Other els syluer spones, broches, or rynges
Boweth your heed vnder this bulle
Cometh vp ye wyues, & offreth of your wol
Your names here I entre in my rolle anon
In to the blisse of heuen shul ye al gon
I you assoyle by myne high powere
Ye that offren, as clene and eke clere
As ye were borne. Lo syrs, thus I preche
And Iesu Christ, that is our soules leche
So graunt you hys pardon to receyue
For that is beste, I wol you not disceyue
But sirs, one worde for yate I in my tale
I haue relykes, and pardon in my male
As fayre as any man in Englonde
whiche were yeuen me by the popes honde
If any of you wol of deuocion
Offren, and haue myne absolucion
Cometh forthe anon, and kneleth here adoun
That ye may haue parte of my pardoun
Or els taketh pardon as ye wende
Al newe and freshe, at euery townes ende
So that ye offren alway newe and newe
Nobles or pens, whiche ben good and trew
It is great honour to eueryche that is here
That ye may haue a sufficient pardonere
To assoyle you, in countre there ye ryde
For auentures, whiche that may betyde
For perauenture there may fal one or two
Downe of her horse, & breke her necke a two
Loke whiche suertie it is to you al
That I am in your felowshyp yfal
That maye assoyle you bothe more and lasse
whan that the soule shal fro the body passe
I rede that oure hoste shal begynne
For he is moste enuelopte of synne
Cometh forthe sir hoste, and offre fyrst anon
And thou shalte kysse the relykes euerychon
Yea for a grote, vnbokyl anon thy purse.
¶Nay nay ({quod} he) than haue I christes curse
Let be ({quod} he) it shal not be so theiche
Thou woldest make me kisse thyn old breche
And swere it were a relyke of a seynt
Though it were wt thy foundemēt depeynt
But by the crosse, which seynt Helayne fonde
I wolde I had thy coylons in myne honde
In stede of relykes, or of sanctuarye
Let cutte hem of, I wol helpe ye hem to cary
They shul be shrined in an hogges torde
This pardoner answerde not a worde
So wrothe he was, he wolde no worde say.
¶Now ({quod} oure hoste) I wol no lenger play
with the, ne with non other angry man.
¶But right anon the worthy knight began
whan that he sawe that al the people loughe
Nomore of this, for it is right ynoughe
Sir pardoner, be mery and glad of chere
And ye sir hoste, that ben to me so dere
I praye you that ye kysse the pardoner
And pardoner, I pray the drawe the ner
And as we dyd, let vs laughe and play
Anon they kyssed, and ryden forthe her way.

¶Here endeth the pardoners tale, & here begynneth the Ship∣mans Prologue

Page  [unnumbered]NOwe frendes sayd oure hoste so dere
How lyketh you by Iohn the Pardonere?
He hathe vnbokeled wel the male
He hath vs tolde right a thrifty tale
As touchyng of hys mysgouernaunce
I pray to god yeue hym good chaunce
As ye han herde, of these ryottours thre
Nowe gentyl mariner, hertely I pray the
Tel vs a good tale, and that right anon
It shal be done, by god & by saynt Iohn
Sayd this maryner, as wel as euer I can
And right anon his tale he thus began

¶Here endeth the Shypmans Prologue, and here fo∣loweth hys tale.
[illustration]

A Marchaunt, whilom dwelled at saīt Denise
That ryche was, for which mē held hī wise
A wyfe he had, of ex∣cellent beaute
And cōpynable, & re∣uelous was she
Whyche is a thynge that causeth more dispence
Than worthe is al the chere and reuerence
That men hem done, at feestes & at daunces
Suche salutations and countynaunces
Passeth, as dothe the shadowe on a wal
But wo is hym that paye mote for al
The sely husbonde algate he mote paye
He mote vs bothe cloth and eke araye
Al for his owne worshippe, richely
In whiche array we dauncen iolyly
And yf that he may nat parauenture
Or els lust no suche spence endure
But thynketh, that it is wast and ylost
Than mote another paye for our coste
And lende vs golde, and that is perilous
This noble Marchant held a noble hous
For whiche he had al day great repayre
For his largesse, and for hys wyfe was fayre
That wonder is but herkeneth to my tale
Amonge al his gestes great and smale.
There was a monke, a fayre man & a bolde
I trowe thurty wynter he was olde
Page  lxxiiiiThat euer in one, was drawing to that place
This yonge monke, yt so fayre was of face
Aquaynted was with this good man
Sythens that he fyrst knowlege began
That in his house, as famylier was he
As it is possyble any frende to be
And for as moche, as this good man
And eke this monke, of which I began
Were bothe two borne in one village
The monke hym claymed, as for cosynage
And he agayne sayd not ones nay
But was as glad therof, as foule of day
For to his herte it was a great pleasaunce
Thus ben they knytte wt eterne aliaunce
And eche of hem gan other for to ensure
Of brotherheed, whyles her lyfe may dure.
¶Fre was Dan Iohan, & namely of dispēce
As in that house, and ful of diligence
To do pleasaunce, and eke great costage
He foryate not to yeue the leste page
In al that house, but after her degre
He yaue the lorde, and sythen hys meyne
whan yt he came, some maner honest thyng
For whiche they were as glad of his cōming
As foule is fayne, whan the sonne vp ryseth
No more herof as nowe, for it suffyseth.
¶But so byfel, this marchaunt on a day
Shepe hym to make redy hys aray
Towarde the towne of Bruges for to fare
••bye there a porcion of ware
For whiche he hath sent to parys anon
A messanger, and prayde hath dan Iohn
That he shuld come to saint Denys to playn
with him, and with his wife, a day or twayn
Or he to Bruges went, in al wyse.
¶This noble monke, of which I you deuyse
Hath of his abbot, as hym lyst lycence
Bycause he was a man of hye prudence
And eke an offycer, out for to ryde
To seen her graunges, and her bernes wyde
And vnto saynt Denys he cometh anon.
who was so welcome, as my lord dan Iohn
Our dere cosyn, ful of curtesye
with him he brought a iubbe of maluesy
And eke another ful of fyne vernage
And volatily, as was aye his vsage
And thus I let hem both eate, drinke, & play
This marchant & this monke, a day or tway
¶The thyrde day this marchaunt vp ryseth
And on his nede sadly hym auyseth
And vp in to his countyng house gothe he
To reken with hym selfe, as wel may be
Of thilke yere, howe it with hym stoode
And howe he spended had his goode
And yf that he encresed were or none
His bokes and his bagges many one
He laythe afore hym, on his counter borde
Ful ryche was hys tresour and his horde
For whiche ful faste his counter dore he shet
And eke he nolde no man shulde hym let
Of hys accomptes, for the mene tyme
And thus he sate tyl it was passed prime.
Dan Iohan was rysen in the morow also
And in the garden walked two and fro
And hath hys thynges sayd ful curtesly.
¶This good wyfe come walkyng priuely
In to the garden, there he walked softe
And hym salueth, as she hath done ful ofte
A mayden chylde came in her companye
which as her luste, she may gouerne & gye
For yet vnder the yerde was the mayde.
¶O dere cosyn dan Iohan, she sayde
what eyleth you so rathe to a ryse?
¶Nece ({quod} he) it ought ynough suffyse
Fyue houres for to slepen on a night
But it were for an olde palied wight
As ben these old wedded men, that lye & dare
As in a forme sytteth a wery hare
Al forstraught, with houndes gret & smale
But dere nece, why loke ye so pale?
I trowe certes, that our good man
Hath you laboured, sythe this night began
That you were nede to resten hastely
And with that worde, he lough ful merily
And with his owne thought he woxe al reed
This fayre wyfe, gan to shake her heed
And sayd thus, yea god wote al ({quod} she)
Nay cosyn myne, it stondeth not so with me
For by that god that yaue me soule and lyfe
In al the realme of Fraunce, is there no wife
That lesse luste hath to that sory play
For I may syngen alas, and welaway
That I was borne, but to no wight ({quod} she)
Dare I not tel, howe it stonte with me
Wherfore I think out of this world to wed
Or els of my selfe sone to make an ende
So ful I am of drede and eke of care.
¶This mōke began vpon this wyfe to stare
And sayd alas, nay nece god forbede
That ye for any sorowe, or for any drede
For do your selfe, but telleth me your grefe
Perauenture I may in your mischefe
Counsayle or helpe, & therfore telleth me
Al your anoye, for it shal secret be
Page  [unnumbered]For on my portouse I make an othe
That neuer in my lyfe, for lefe ne lothe
Ne shal I not of no counsayle you bewray.
The same ayen to you ({quod} she) I say
By god and by this portouse, I you swere
Thoug men wolde me al in to peces tere
Ne shal I neuer, for to go to hel
Bewray o worde, of thyng that ye me tel
Not for no cosynage, ne for alyaunce
But verily for loue and affyaunce
Thus ben they sworne, and here vpon kyste
And ylke of hem tolde other what hem lyste
¶Cosyn ({quod} she) yf I had a space
As I haue none, and namely in this place
Than wolde I tel a legende of my lyfe
That I suffred haue▪ sythe I was a wyfe
with myn husbonde, though he be your cosyn
Nay ({quod} this mōke) by god & seynt Martyn
He nis no more cosyn vnto me
Than is this lefe, that hongeth on the tre
I clepe him so, by saynte Denys of Fraunce
To haue the more cause of aquayntaunce
Of you, whom I haue loued specially
Abouen al other women sykerly
This swere I you on my professyoun
Telleth your grefe, leste he come adoun
And hasteth you, and goth your way anon.
My dere loue ({quod} she) O my dan Iohn.
Ful lefe me were this counsayle to hyde
But out it mote, it may no lenger abyde
My husbonde is to me the worste man
That euer was, sythe the worlde began
But sythen I am a wyfe, it sytte not to me
To tellen no wight of our priuyte
Neyther in bedde, ne in none other place
God shylde I shulde tel it for his grace
A wyfe ne shulde not say of her husbonde
But al honoure, as I can vnderstonde
Saue vnto you, thus moche tel I shal
As helpe me god, he is nought worthe at al
In no degre, the value of a flye
But yet me greueth moste his nygardye
And wel ye wote, that woman naturally
Desyren thynges syxe, as wel as I
They wolden that her husbondes shulde be
Hardy, and wyse, riche, and therto fre
And buxom to his wyfe, and freshe a bedde
But by that ylke lorde that for vs bledde
For hys honoure, my selfe to arraye
A sonday next, I mote nedes paye
An hundred frankes, or els am I lorne
Yet were me leuer that I were vnborne
Than me were done a slaunder or a vilanye
And yf myn husbonde eke might it aspye
I nere but loste, and therfore I you prey
Lene me this somme, or els mote I dey
Dan Iohn I say, lene me this hūdred frākes
Parde I wol not fayle you my thankes
If that ye lyste to do that I you pray
For at a certayne day I wol you pay
And to done you what plesaunce & seruyce
That I may don, right as ye lyste deuyse
And but I do, god take on me vengeaunce
As foule as euer had genilion of Fraunce.
¶This gētil mōke answerd in this manere
Nowe truly myne owne lady dere
I haue ({quod} he) on you so great routhe
That I you swere, and plight my trouthe
That whā your husbōd is to Flaūders fare
I wol delyuer you out of al this care
I wol brynge you an hundred frankes
And with that he caught her by the flankes
And her enbraced herde, and kyssed her ofte
Go the nowe your way ({quod} he) al styl & softe
And let vs dyne as sone as euer ye may
For by my kalender it is prime of the day
Gothe nowe, & beth as true as I shal be.
Nowe els god forbyd syr sayd she
And forthe she gothe, as ioly as a pye
And bade the cokes that they shulde hem hye
So that men might dyne, and that anone
Vp to her husbonde is this wyfe gone
And knocked at his counter doe boldely.
Qui est la ({quod} he) Peter it am I
(Quod she) howe longe wol ye fast?
Howe longe tyme wol ye recken and caste
Your sommes, your bokes, & your thynges?
The dyuel haue parte of al such reckeninges
Ye haue ynough ({quod} she) of goddes sonde
Come down to day, & let your bagges stonde
Ne be ye not a shamed, that dan Iohn
Shal fastyng al this longe day gon?
what let vs go here masse and go dyne.
¶Wyfe ({quod} this mā) lytel canst thou diuyne
The curyous besynesse that we haue
For of chapmen, so god me saue
And by that lorde that called is seynt Iue
Scarsly amonge twenty, twelue shal thriue
Contynually, lastyng vnto theyr age
We may wel make chere & good vysage
And driue forthe the worlde, as it may be
And kepe our estate in priuyte
Tyl we be deed, or els that we play
A pylgrimage, or gone out of the way
Page  lxxvAnd therfore haue I great necessyte
Vpon this queynte worlde to auyse me
For euermore we mote stonde in drede
Of happe and fortune, in our chapmanhede.
To Flaūders wol I gone to morow at day
And come ayene as sone as euer I may
For whiche my dere wyfe, I the beseke
As be to euery wight buxom and meke
And for to kepe our good be curyouse
And honestly gouerne wel our house
Thou haste ynough, in euery maner wyse
That to a thrifty huswyfe may suffyse
The lacketh none array, ne no vitayle
Of syluer in thy purse thou mayst not fayle
And with ye worde, his counter dore he shette
And down he gothe, no lenger wold he lette
And hastely a masse was there isayde
And spedely the tables were ilayde
And to dyner faste they hem spedde
And richly the chapman this monke fedde.
And after dyner, dan Iohan soberly
This chapman toke a parte al priuely
And sayd hym thus, cosyn it stondeth so
T••• wel I se to Bruges ye wol go
God and saynt Austen spede you and gyde
I pray you cosyn, wysely that ye ryde
Gouerneth you also wel of your dyete
Al temperatly, and namely in this hete
Betwixt vs two nedeth no straunge fare
Farwel cosyn, god shylde you fro care
If any thyng there be by day or by night
And it lye in my power or in my might
That ye me wol cōmaunde in any wyse
It shal be done, right as ye wol deuyse
O thyng or that ye go, yf that it may be
I wolde pray you for to leue me
In hundred frankes, for a weke or twey
For certayne beestes, that I mote nedes bey
To store with a place that is ours
God helpe me so, I wolde it were yours
I shal not fayle surely at my day
Not for a thousande frankes, a myle way
But let this thyng be secret, I you pray
For yet this night these beestes mote I bey
And fare nowe wele, myne owne cosyn dere
Graunt mercy of your coste and your chere.
¶This noble marchaunt, gentilly anon
Answerde and sayd, O cosyn dan Iohn
Nowe sikerly, this is a smal request
My golde is yours, whan that you leste
And not only my golde, but my chaffare
Take what ye lyste, god shilde that ye spare
But one thyng is, ye knowe it wel ynough
Of chapmen, that her money is her plough
we may creaunce, whyle we haue a name
But goldlesse for to be it is a shame
Paye it ayen, whan it lythe at your ese
After my might, fayne wolde I you plese
¶These hundred frankes, set he forthe anon
And priuely he toke hem to dan Iohn
No wight of this worlde, wyst of thys lone
Sauyng this marchaūt, & dan Iohan alone
They drinke & speke, & rome a while and pley
Tyl that dan Iohan rydeth to his abbey.
The morow came, & forth ryd this marchāt
To Flaūders warde, his prētes brought him auāt
Tyl he came to Bruges, wel & merily
Nowe gothe this marchaunt, wel and besily
About his nedes, & byeth, and creaunseth
He neyther playeth at the dyce ne daunseth
But as a marchaunt, shortly to tel
He ledde his lyfe, and there I let him dwel
¶The sonday next, yt this marchāt was gon
To saynt Denys is comen dan Iohn
with crowne & berde al freshe & newe ishaue
In al this house, there nas so lytel a knaue
Ne no wight els, but he was ful fayne
For yt my lorde dan Iohn was comen agayn
And shortly to the poynte for to gon
This fayre wyfe acordeth with dan Iohn
That for these hundred frankes he shulde al night
Haue her in his armes, bolte vpright
And this acorde parformed was in dede
In myrthe al nyght a besy lyfe they lede
Tyl it was day, yt dan Iohn yede his way
And bade the meyne farwel & haue good day
For none of hem, ne no wyght in the toun
Had of Dan Iohan any suspection
And forthe he rydeth, home to his abbey
Or where hym lyste, no more of hym I sey.
¶This marchaunt, whan ended was ye faire
To saynte Denys he gan for to repaire
And with his wyfe he maketh feest & chere
And telleth her that the chaffare is so dere
That nedes muste he make a cheuesaunce
For he was bounden in a reconisaunce
To pay twenty thousande shildes anon
For whiche this marchaunt is to Paris gon
To borowe of certayne frendes that he had
A certayne frankes, & some with hym he lad
And whan he was comen in to the toun
For chierte and great affection
Vnto dan Iohn he fyrst gothe hym to pley
Nought for to borowe of hym no money
Page  [unnumbered]But for to wete and se of his welfare
And for to tellen him of his chaffare
As frendes done, whā they ben mette in fere
Dan Iohan him maketh feest & mery chere
And he him tolde ayen ful specially
Howe he had bought, ful wel and graciously
Thonked be god, al hole hys marchaundyse
Saue that he muste, in al maner wyse
Maken a cheuesaunce, as for his beste
And than shulde he be in ioye and reste
Dā Iohn answerd, certes I am right fayn
That ye in heale be comen home agayne
And yf I were riche, as haue I blisse
Of twēty thousand shildes shuld ye not misse
For ye so kyndely, this other day
Lent me golde, and as I can and may
I thonke you, by god and by saynt Iame
But nathelesse, I toke it vnto our dame
Your wyfe at home, the same golde agayne
Vpon your benche, she wote it wel certayne
By certayne tokens, that I can her tel
Nowe by your leue, I may no lenger dwel
Our abbot wol out of this towne anon
And in hys companye I mote gon
Grete wel our dame, myne owne nece swete
And farwele dere cosyn, tyl we mete.
¶This marchant that was ful ware & wyse
Creaunced hath, and eke payde in Parys
To certayne lombardes, redy in her houdes
This somme of gold, & gate of hem ye bondes
And home he gothe, as mery as a popyngay
For wel he knewe he stode in suche aray
That nedes muste he wyn by that viage
A thousande frankes, aboue al his costage.
¶His wyfe ful redy met hym at the yate
As she was wonte, of olde vsage algate
And al that night in myrthe they be sette
For he was ryche, and clerely out of dette
whā it was day, this marchāt gan enbrace
His wyfe al newe, & kyssed her in her face
And vp he gothe, & made it wonder tough
No more ({quod} she) by god ye haue ynough
And wantonly ayen with hym she playde
Tyl at the laste this marchant thus sayde.
By god ({quod} he) I am a lytel wrothe
With you my wyfe, al though it be me lothe
And wot ye why: by god as I gesse
For ye haue made a maner of straungenesse
Betwixt me and my cosyn dan Iohn
Ye shulde haue warned me, or I had gon
That he had you an hundred frankes payde
By redy token, & helde hym yuel apayde
For that I to hym spake of cheuesaunce
Me semed so, as by his countenaunce
But nathelesse, by god our heuen kyng
I thought not to aske of hym nothyng
I pray the wyfe, ne do no more so
Tel me alway er that I fro the go
If any dettour, hath in myne absence
Ypayde the, leste through thy neglygence
I might hym aske a thyng that he hath payd
¶This wyfe was not a ferde ne affrayde
But boldely she sayd, and that anon
Mary I defye that false monke dan Iohn
I kepe not of hys tokens neuer a dele
He toke me certayne golde, I wot it wele
what yuel thedom on his monkes snoute
For god it wotte, I wende without doute
That he had yeue it me, bycause of you
To don therwith myne honoure & my prow
For cosynage, and eke for bellye chere
That he hath had ful often tymes here
But sythe I se it stonte in suche disioynte
I wol answere you shortly to the poynte.
Ye haue mo slacker dettours than am I
For I wol pay you wel and redily
Fro day to day, and yf so be I fayle
I am your wyfe, score it on my tayle
Or els I shal pay it as sone as euer I may
For by my trouth, I haue on myne aray
And not in waste, bestowed it euery dele
And for I haue bestowed it so wele
To your honour, for goddes sake I say
As be not wrothe, but let vs laughe & play
Ye shal my ioly body haue to wedde
By god I nyl not pay you but a bedde
Foryeue it me, myne owne spouse dere
Turneth hitherwarde, & make better chere.
¶This marchant sawe ther was no remedy
And for to chyde, it was but a folye
Sythen that the thyng may not amended be
Nowe wyfe he sayd, and I foryeue it the
But in thy lyfe, be no more so large
Kepe bet my good, this yeue I the in charge
Thus endeth nowe my tale, & god vs sende
Talynge ynough, vnto our lyues ende.

¶Here endeth the Shypmans tale, and here foloweth the wordes of our host.

Page  lxxviWel sayd by corpus domini ({quod} our hoste)
Nowe longe mote thou sayle by the coste
Thou gentyl mayster, gentel marinere
God gyue ye mōke a thousand last quad yere
I ha felowes, beware of suche a iape
The mōke put in the marchātes hode an ape
And in hys wyues eke, by saynt Austyn
Draweth no mōkes more in to your Inne
But nowe passe ouer, & let vs seke aboute
who shal tell nowe fyrst of all thys route
An other tale, and wyth that worde he sayde
Is curteously, as it had bene a mayde.
My lady prioresse, by your leue
So that I wyste that I shuld you not greue
I wol deme, that ye tellen sholde
I tale nexte, yf so be that ye wolde
Nowe wol yt vouchsafe my lady dere
Gladly ({quod} she) and sayd in thys manere.

¶Here ende the wordes of oure hoste, & here begynneth the Prioresse prologue.

DOmine dominus noster: quam admirabile est nomen tuum in vniuersa terra,
LOrde our Lorde, thy name how maruaylous
Is in thys wyde worlde ysprad ({quod} she)
For not only thy lande precious
Parfourmed is, by men of dygnite
But by the mouth of chyldren thy bounte
Parfourmed is, for on the brest soukynge
Sometyme shewen they thyne heryenge
wherfore in laude, as I can best and may
Of the and of the whyte lylly floure
whych that the bare, & is a mayde alway
To tellen a storye, I wol do my laboure
Nought that I may encrese her honoure
For she her selfe is honoure and rote
Of bountye, nexte her sonne of soules bote
Mother mayden, O mayden & mother fre
O bushe vnbrent, brennyng in Moses syght
That rauyshedest downe fro the deyte
Through thyn hūblesse, ye gost yt in the light
Of whose vertue, whē he in thine hert pight
Conceyued was the fathers sapience
Helpe me to tel it in thy presence
Lady thy bounte, and thy magnifycence
Thy vertue and thy great humilite
There may no tonge expresse, in no science
For somtyme lady, er men pray to the
Thou goest before, of thy benignyte
And gettest vs ye lyght, through thy prayere
To gyden vs vnto thy sonne so dere
My connyng is to weake, O blysful quene
For to declare thy hygh worthynesse
That I ne may the weyght sustene
But as a child of twelue moneth olde or lesse
That can vnnethes any worde expresse
Ryght so fare I, and therfore I you praye
Gydeth my songe, that I shal of you say.

¶Here endeth the Prioresses prologue, and here folo∣weth her tale. Page  [unnumbered]
[illustration]

THere was in Asye, in a great cytie
Amonges Christen folkes a iewrye
Sustayned by a lorde of that countre
For foule vsure, and lucre of villany
Hateful to Christ, and to hys company
And through ye strete mē myght ryde & wēde
For it was free, and open at euery ende
A lytel schole of christen folke there stode
Downe at ye farther end, in which ther were
Chyldren an hepe, comen of christen blode
That lerned in that schole, yere by yere
Suche manere doctrine, as men vsen here
Thys is to saye, to synge and to rede
As smale chyldren done in her chyldhede
Amōges these childrē was a wedowes son
A lytel clergion, that .vij. yere was of age
That daye by daye to schole was hys won
And also eke, where he sey the ymage
Of Christes mother, had he in vsage
As hym was taught, to knele adowne & say
An Aue maria, as he goeth by the way
Thus hath this wedow, her litel child icauʒt
Our blyssed lady, Christes mother dere
To worshyp aye, and he foryate it naught
For the sely chylde, wolde al day soone lere
But aye, whē I remēbre me on thys matere
Saint Nicholas stādeth euer in my presence
For he so yonge to Christ dyd reuerence
Thys lytel chylde hys lytel boke lernyng
As he sate in the schole at hys prymere
He (Alma redemptoris mater) herde synge
As chyldren lered her antiphonere
And as he durst, he drewe aye nere and nece
And herkened to the wordes and the note
Tyl he the fyrst verse couth al by rote
Nought wyst he what this latin was to say
For he so yonge and tender was of age
But on a daye hys felowe gan he pray
To expoune hym the songe, in his langage
Or tellen him why thys songe was in vsage
Thys prayde he hym to constre and declare
Ful ofte tyme, vpon hys knees bare
Hys felowe, whych that elder was thē he
Answerd hym thus, thys song I haue herde say
was made of our blessed lady free
Her to salewe, and eke her for to prey
To ben our helpe & socoure when we dey
I can no more erpowne in thys mater
I lerne songe, I can but smal grammer
And is thys songe ymade in reuerence
Of Christes mother, sayd thys innocent?
Nowe certes I wol done my diligence
Page  lxxviiTo tonne it al er Christmasse be went
Though that I for my primer shalbe shent
And shulde be beten thryse in an houre
I wol it conne, our lady to honoure
Hys felowe taught him homewarde priuely
Fro daye to daye, tyl he couth it by rote
And then he songe it wel and boldely
Fro worde to worde, accordynge to the note
Twyse a day it passeth through hys throte
To scholewarde, & homeward whē he went
On Christes mother set was al hys entent
As I haue sayd through out the iewrie
Thys lytel chylde as he came to and fro
Ful merely then wolde he synge and crye
O Alma redemptoris mater, euer mo
The swetnesse hath hys herte persed so
Of Christes mother, that to her to praye
He can not stynte of syngynge by the waye
Our fyrst foe, the serpent Sathanas
That in Iewes herte hys waspes nest
Vpswale and sayd, O brake people alas
Is thys a thynge to you that is honest
That such a boy shal walke as hym lest
In your dyspyte, & syngen of such sentence
whych is ayenst your lawes reuerence
¶From thence forth, ye iewes han conspyred
Thys innocent out of thys worlde to chase
An homicide therto han they hyred
That in an aley, had a priuy place
And as the chylde gan forby to pace
Thys cursed iewe hym hent, and helde fast
And cutte hys throte, & in a pytte hym caste
I say that in a wardrope they him threwe
where that the iewes purged her intrayle
O cursed folke, of heraudes al newe
what may your yuel entent you auayle
Murther wol out, certes it wol not fayle
And namely ther ye honour of god shalsprede
The bloode out cryeth on your cursed dede
¶O Mater, sowned vnto virginite
Now mayst thou synge folowyng euer in on
The whyte lambe celestial ({quod} he)
Of whiche the great euangelyst saynt Iohn
In Pathmos wrot, whiche sayth yt they gon
Before this lambe, & synge asonge all newe
That neuer flesshly women they ne knewe.
¶This poore wydowe, awayteh al yt nyght
After her lytel childe, and he came nought
For whiche as sone as it was day lyght
with face pale, for drede and besy thought
She hath at schole, & els where hym sought
Tyl fynally, she gan so farre aspye
That he was laste seyne in the iurye
wyth mothers pyte, in her breste enclosed
She goth as she were halfe out of her mynd
To euery place, where she hath supposed
By lyklyhede her childe for to fynde
And euer on Christes mother, meke & kynde
She cryed, and at the last thus she wrought
Amonge the cursed iewes she hym sought
She freyneth and she prayeth pytously
To euery iewe that dwelleth in thylke place
To tellen her, yf her chylde went there by
They sayd nay, but Iesu of hys grace
Yaue in her thought, wythin a lytel space
That in that place, after her sonne she cryde
There he was cast, in a pyt besyde
O great god, that perfourmest thy laude
By mouth of innocence, lo here thy myght
Thys iemme of chastite, thys Emeraude
And eke of martyrdome the rubye bryght
There he wyth throte yeorne lay vpryght
He (Alma redemptoris) gan to synge
So loude that al the place gan to rynge
The christen folke, yt through ye strete wēt
In comen, for to wonder on thys thynge
And hastely they for the prouoste sent
He came anone, wythout taryenge
And heryeth Christ, that is of heuen kynge
And eke hys mother, honour of mankynde
And after that, the iewes let he bynde
Thys chylde wyth pytous lamentacion
was vptaken, syngyng his songe alway
And wyth honoure, and great processyon
They caryen hym to the next abbey
Hys mother swounyng by the bere lay
Vnneth myght the people that were there
Thys newe Rachel bringe fro his bere
with turmēt & with shamful deth ilke one
Thys prouost doth these iewes for to sterue
That of thys murder wyste, & that anone
He nolde no suche cursednesse obserue
Page  [unnumbered]Yuel shal he haue, that yuel wol deserue
Therfore wt wylde horse he dyd hem drawe
And afterwarde he honge hem by the lawe
Vpon hys bere aye lyeth thys innocent
Beforne the chefe aulter, whyles ye masse last
And after that, the abbot wyth hys couent
Hem spedde, for to burye hym als fast
And when they holy water on hym cast
yet spake ye child, whē spreit was holy water
And songe, O Alma redemptoris mater.
Thys abbot, whych that was an holy man
As monkes ben, or els ought to be
This yonge chylde to couer he began
And sayd: O dere chylde, I haylfe the
By vertue of the holy Trinite
Tel me what is thy cause for to synge
Sythens thy throte is cutte to my semynge.
My throte is cutte, vnto my necke bone
Sayd thys chylde, as by waye of kynde
I shulde haue deyde, ye longe tyme agone
But Iesu Christ, as ye in bokes fynde
wol that hys glorye laste and be in mynde
And for the worshyp of hys mother dere
Yet may I synge (O Alma) loude and clere
This wel of mercy, Christes mother swete
I loued alway, as after my connynge
And when that I my lyfe shulde forlete
To me she came, and bad me for to synge
Thys antem verely in my dyenge
As ye han herde, & when that I had songe
Me thought she layde a grayne vpō my tōge
wherfore I synge, and synge mote certayne
In honoure of the blysfull mayden fre
Tyl fro my tonge, of taken is the grayne
And after that, thus she sayd to me
My lytell chylde, nowe wol I fetche the
when that the grayne is fro thy tonge ytake
Be not agaste, I wol the not forsake.
Thys holy monke, thys abbot him mene I
Hys tonge out caught, & toke away ye graine
And he yaue vp the goste ful softly
And when thys abbot had thys wōder seyne
Hys salt teeres trykled downe as rayne
And grofe he fell al platte to the grounde
And styll he laye, as he had ben ybounde
The couent lay eke vpon the pament
Wepyng and heryeng Christes mother dere
And after that they rysen, & forthe ben went
And toke away this martyr fro the bere
And in a tombe of marble stones clere
Enclosen they his lytel body swete
There he is nowe, god lene vs for to mete.
O yonge Hewe of Lyncoln slayne also
With cursed iewes, as it is notable
For it is but a lytel whyle ago
Pray eke for vs, we synful folke vnstable
That of hys mercy, god be merciable
On vs, hys great mercy multiply
For the reuerence of his mother Mary.

¶Here endeth the Prioresse tale, and here folowe the wordes of the Host to Chaucer.

WHan sayde was thys myracle, euery man
As sobre was, as wōder was to se
Tyll that oure hoste to iapen began
And than at erste, he loked vpon me
And sayd thus: what man arte thou ({quod} he)
Thou lokest, as thou woldest fynde an hare
For euer vpon the grounde I se the stare
Aproche nere, and loke vp merily
Now ware you syrs, & let this mā haue place
He in the wast is shapen as wel as I
This were a popet in armes to enbrace
For any woman, smal and fayre of face
He semeth eluyshe by his countenaunce
For vnto no wight dothe he dalyaunce
Say now sōwhat, sithēs other folke hā sayd
Tel vs a tale of myrthe, and that anon
Hoste ({quod} he) ne be not yuel apayde
For other tale certes can I none
But of a ryme, I lerned yore agone
Yea that is good ({quod} he) we shullen it here
Som daynte thing, me thinketh by thy chere

¶Here endeth the wordes of the host, and here foloweth the ryme of syr Thopas.

Page  lxxviii
LYsteneth lordinges in good intēt
And I wol tel verament
Of myrth and of solas
Al of a knight was fayre & gent
In batayle and in turnament
Hys name was syr Thopas
Iborne he was in farre countre
In Flaundres, al beyonde the see
At Poperynge in the place.
Hys father was a man ful fre
And a lorde he was of that countre
As it was goddes grace.
Syr Thopas was a doughty swayne
whyte was hys face as payne mayne
Hys lyppes reed as rose
Hys rudde is lyke scarlet in grayne
And I you tell in good certayne
He had a semely nose.
Hys heer, hys berde was lyke safroun
That to hys gyrdel raught adoun
Hys shone of cordewane
Of Bruges were hys hosen broun
Hys robe was of chekelatoun
That coste many a iane.
He couth hunte at the wylde dere
And ryde an haukynge forby the ryuere
wyth gray goshauke on hande
Therto he was a good archere
Of wrastlynge was there none hys pere
There any Ram shulde stande.
Full many a mayde bryght in houre
They mourne for hym paramoure
when hem were bet to slepe.
But he was chaste and no lechoure
And swete as is the bramble floure
That beareth the reed hype
And so byfel vpon a daye
Forsoth, as I you tel maye
Syr Thopas wolde out ryde.
He worth vpon hys stede graye
And in hys honde a launce gaye
A longe sworde by hys syde
He prycketh thorowe a fayre foreste
Therin was many a wylde beest
Yea both bucke and hare.
And as he prycketh north and este
I tell you, hym had almeste
Betydde a sorye care.
There spryngen herbes great and smale
The lycores and the setuale
And many a clowe gelofer
And nutmygges to put in ale
whether it be newe or stale
Or for to lye in cofer.
The byrdes syngen, it is no naye
The sperhauke and the popyngaye
That ioye it was to here.
The throstell eke made hys lay
The wodcocke vpon the spray
She songe full loude and clere.
¶Syr Thopas fyl in loue longynge
And when he herde the throstel synge
He prycked as he were wode
Hys fayre stede in hys pryckynge
So swette, that men myght hym wrynge
Hys sydes were all blode.
¶Syr Thopas eke so wery was
For prickynge on the softe gras
So fyers was hys corage
That downe he layde hym in that place
To maken hys stede some solace
And gaue him good forage.
¶Oh, saynt Mary, benedicite
what ayleth thys loue at me
To blynde me so sore?
Me dremed al thys nyght parde
An elfe quene shal my lemman be
And slepe vnder my gore.
¶An Elfe quene wol I loue ywys
For in thys worlde no woman is
worthy to be my make in towne
All other women I forsake
And to an Elfe quene I me betake
By dale and eke by downe.
¶Into hys sadell he clombe anone
And pricketh ouer style and stone
An Elfe quene for to espye
Tyll he so longe hath rydden and gone
That he fonde in a pryue wone
The countre of Fayrie. So wylde
For in that countre nas there none
Neyther wyfe ne chylde
Tyl hym there came a great Giaunt
Hys name was called syr Oliphaunt
A peryllous man of dede
He sayd chylde, by Termagaunt
But yf thou prycke out of my haunt
Anone I slee thy steed wyth mace
Or euer I go out of thys place
¶Here is the quene of Fayry
wyth harpe and pype, and symphony
Dwellynge in thys place.
The chylde sayd, als so mote I the
To morowe wol I meten the
Page  [unnumbered]Whan I haue myne armure.
And yet I hope par ma faye
That thou shalte with this launce gay
Abyen it ful sore: Through thy mawe
Shal I perce, yf I maye
Or it be fully prime of the daye
For here thou shalt be slawe.
Sir Thopas drowe abacke ful faste
This gyaunt at hym stones caste
Out of a fel staste slynge
But fayre escaped sir Thopace
And al was through goddes grace
And thorowe hys fayre beryng
¶Yet lysteneth lordynges to my tale
Meryer than the nyghtyngale
For nowe I wol ye rowne
Howe sir Thopas, with sydes smale
Prickyng ouer downe and dale
Is comen ayen to towne.
Hys mery man commaunded he
To maken hym bothe game and gle
For nedes muste he fyght
with a gyaunt, with heedes thre
For paramoures and tolyte
Of one that shone ful bright.
Do come he sayd my mynstrales
And iestours, for to tellen vs tales
Anon in myne armyng
Of romaunces that ben royals
Of popes and of cardynals
And eke of loue longyng.
They fette hym fyrst the swete wyne
And meede eke in a mazelyne
And royal spycerye
Of gynger breed that was ful fyne
Of lycores and eke comyne
wyth sugre that is trye.
He dyd nexte hys whyte lere
Of clothe of lake fyne and clere
A breche and eke a sherte.
And next his sherte an ha••ton
And ouer that an haberion
For percyng of hys herte.
And ouer that a fyne hauberke
was al ywrought of iewes werke
Ful stronge it was of plate
And ouer that hys core armoure
As whyte as is the lylly floure
In whiche he wolde debate.
His shylde was al of golde so reed
And therin was a bores heed
A carbocle by his syde.
And there he swore on ale and breed
Howe that the gyaunt shulde be deed
Betyde what betyde.
His tambeux were of cure buly
His swordes shethe of yuorie
His helme of laton bright
His sadel was of ruel bone
His bridel as the sunne shoue
Or as the moone light
His spere was of fyne sypres
That byddeth warre, & nothyng pees
The heed ful sharpe ygrounde
His stede was al dappel gray
He gothe an aumble by the way
Ful softely and rounde in londe.
¶Lo lordes myne, here is a fyt
If ye wol any more of it
To tellen it wol I fonde.
NOwe holde your mouthe for charite
Bothe knight and lady fre
And herkeneth to my spel
Of batayle and of cheualrye
And of ladyes loue diery
Anon I wol you tel.
Men spken of Romaunces of pris
Of Hornechilde, and of I potys
Of Beuys, and of syr Gye
Of syr Lybeaur, and Blayndamoure
But sir Thopas, he bereth the floure
Of royal cheualrye.
His good stede he be strode
And forthe vpon his way glode
As sparke out of the bronde.
Vpon his creste he bare a toure
And therin stycked a lilly floure
God shylde his cors fro shonde
And for he was a knyght auentrouse
He nolde slepen in none house
But lygge in his hood.
His bright helme was hys wangre
And by hym fedde hys destper
Of herbes fyne and good
Hym selfe dronke water of the well
As dyd the knight sir Persyuel
So worthy vnder wede.

¶Here endeth the ryme of syr Tho∣pas, and beginneth the wordes of oure Hoste.

Page  lxxixNo more of thys for goddes dignite
({quod} our hoost) for thou makest me
So wery of thy very leudenesse
That also wysly god my soule blesse
Myne eares aken of thy drafty speche
Nowe suche a ryme, the dyuell I beteche
Thys may wel be cleped ryme dogrel ({quod} he)
why so ({quod} I) why wolt thou let me
More of my tale, then any other man
Sens that it is the best ryme I can?
By God ({quod} he) playnly at o worde
Thy drafty rymynge is not worth a torde
Thou doest nought els but spendest tyme
Syr at one worde, thou shalt no lēger ryme
Let se whether thou canst tell ought in geste
Or tel in prose somwhat at the leste
In which ther may be som myrth or doctrine
Gladly ({quod} I) by goddes swete pyne
I woll you tell a lytell thynge in prose
That ought lyke you, as I suppose
Or els ye be certes to daungerous
It is a morall tale vertuous
Albe it tolde somtyme in sondry wyse
Of sondrye folke, as I shall you deuyse
As thus, ye wote that euery euangelyste
That telleth vs the payne of Iesu Christe
Ne sayth not al thynge as hys felowe doth
But nathelesse her sentente is al soth
And al accorden in her sentence
Al be there in her tellynge dyfference
For some of hem sayne more, and some lesse
when they hys pytouse passion expresse
I meane of Marke, Mathen, Luke, & Iohn
But doutlesse her sentence is al one
Therfore lordynges, I you beseche
Yf that ye thynke I vary in my speche
As thus, though I tell somwl, at more
Of prouerbes, then ye han herde byfore
Comprehended in thys lytel treatyse here
To enforcen wyth the effecte of my matere
And though I not the same wordes saye
As ye han herde, yet to all you I praye
Blameth me not, for in my sentence
Sul ye not fynde mochel dyfference
Fro the sentence of thys treatyse lyte
After the whych, thys mery tale I wryte
And therfore herkeneth, what I shall saye
And let me tell my tale I you praye.

¶Here ende the wordes of our host and here begynneth Chaucers tale of Melibeus.

A Yonge mā called Me∣libeus, myghtye and ryche, begat vpon hys wyfe that called was Prudence, a doughter which that called was Sophye.

¶Vpon a daye byfell that he for his dysport is wente into the feldes hym to playe: Hys wyfe and eke hys doughter hath he left with in hys house, of whyche the dores were faste yshette. Foure of hys olde foes han it aspyde, and settē ladders to the walles of hys house, and by the wyndowes ben entred, & bete his wyfe, and wounded hys doughter with fyue mortall woundes, in fyue sondrye places: That is to saye, in her fete, in her handes, in her eeres, in her nose, & in her mouth, & leften her for deed, and wente her waye.

When Melibeus retourned was into hys house, and se all thys myschefe, he lyke a madde mā rentyng hys clothes, gan to wepe and crye.

Prudence hys wyfe, as ferforth as she durste besought hym of hys wepynge for to stynte: But not for thy he gan to wepe & crye euer lenger the more.

Thys noble wyfe Prudence remembred her vpon the sentence of Ouyde, in hys boke that cleped is the remedye of loue, where as he sayeth, he is a foole that dystourbeth the mother to wepe in the death of her chylde tyl she haue wept her fyll, as for a certayne tyme and then shall a man done diligence wyth a∣miable wordes to recomforte and praye her of her wepynge for to stynte. For whych rea∣son thys noble wyfe Prudence, suffred her husbonde to wepe and crye, as for a certayne space: and when she sawe her tyme, she sayd hym in thys wyse. Alas my lorde (quoth she) why make ye your selfe for to be like a foole? forsoth it apperteyneth not vnto a wyse man to maken suche a sorowe. Youre doughter wyth the grace of God, shall waryshe and escape. And all were it so that she ryght now were deed, ye ne oughte not as for her death Page  [unnumbered] your selfe distroye. Seneke saythe, the wyse man shal not take to gret discomforte for the dethe of hys children, but certes he shuld suf∣fre it in paciēce, as wel as he abydeth ye deth of hys owne proper person.

¶Thys Mellebeus answerde anon and sayd: what man ({quod} he) shuld of hys wepynge stynt, that hath so great a cause for to wepe? Iesus hym selfe our lorde, wepte for ye dethe of Lazarus hys frende. Prudence answerd, certes wel I wote a temperate wepynge is nothyng defended to hym that sorouful is, a∣monge folke in sorowe, but it is rather graū∣ted hym to wepe. The apostel Poule vnto ye Romans writeth, men shuld reioyce with hē that maketh ioye, and wepe with suche folke as wepen. But though a temperate wepyng be graunted, certes outragyous wepynge is defended. Mesure of wepyng shulde be cōsy∣dred after the lore that techeth vs Sencke. Whan that thy frende is deed ({quod} he) let not thyne eyen to moist ben of teeres, ne to moch drie: although teeres comen to thyn eyen, let hem not fal. And whan thou hast forgon thy frende, do diligence to gette a nother frende: and this is more wisdom thā for to wepe for thy frende which thou hast lorne, for therin is no bote. And therfor yf ye gouerne you by sapience, put away sorowe out of your herte. Remembreth you that Iesus Sirake sayth, a man that is ioyus and glad in herte, it him conserueth storishyng in hys age: but sothely a sorowful here maketh hys bones drie. He sayth eke thus, that sorowe in herte sleeth ful manye a man. Salomon sayth, that right as moughthes in the shepes sleyse anoyeth the clothes, and the smale wormes yt tree, ryght so anoyeth sorowe the hert of man, wherfore vs ought as wel in the dethe of our children, as in the losse of our temporal goodes, haue pacience.

Remembre you vpon pacient Iobe, whā he had loste hys children and hys temporal substaunce, and in hys body endured and re∣ceyued ful many a greuous trybulacion, yet sayde he thus: Oure lorde it sent to me, oure lorde hath byrafte it me, right so as our lorde wold, right so it be done, iblessed be the name of our lorde.

To these forsayd thinges Melibeus vnto hys wyfe Prudence answerd: Al thy wordes ({quod} he) ben true, and therto profytable, but truely myn herte is troubled with this sorow so greuously, that I not what to do. Let cal ({quod} Prudence) youre true frendes al and thy lynage, which that ben wyse, & telleth to hem your case, & herkeneth what they say in coun∣saylyng, and gouerne you after her sentence. Salomon saythe, werke all thy thynges by counsayle, & thou shalte neuer rue. Than by coūsayle of his wife Prudēce, this Melibeus let caule a great congrygacion of people, as surgyens, physicions, olde folke and yong, & some of hys olde enemyes reconciled (as by her semblant) to hys loue and to hys grace: And therwithal ther came some of his neigh¦bours, that dyd hym reuerēce more for drede thā for loue, as it happeth oft. There comen also ful many subtyl flaterers, & wyse aduo∣cates lerned in the law. And whā these folke togyders assembled were, this Melibeus in sorowfull wyse shewed hem his case, and by the maner of his speche, it semed that in herte he bare a cruel yre, redy to don vengeaunce vpon hys foos, & sodainly he desyred yt wee shulde begyn, but nathelesse yet asked he coun¦sayle vpon this mater. A surgyen by lycence and assent of suche as were wyse vp rose, and vnto Melibeus sayd as ye shal here.

¶Sir ({quod} he) as to vs surgiens apertay∣neth that we do to euery wight the best that we can, where as we ben withholdē, & to our pacient that we don no damage: wherfore it happeth many tyme & ofte, that whan two men haue eueriche wounded other, one sur∣gyen healeth hem both, wherfore vnto oure arte it is not pertinēt to norishe werre, ne par¦ties to supporte. But certes as to the warys∣shyng of your doughter, al be it so that peril∣ously she be wounded, we shal do so tentyfe besynesse fro day to night that with ye grace of god she shal ben hole and sounde, as sont as is possible. Almost right in the same wyse the physiciens answerd, saue that they sayde a fewe wordes more: That ryght as mala∣dies ben by her contraries cured, right so shal man warisshe werre by peace. Hys neygh∣bours full of enuye, hys fayned frendes that semed reconciled, and his flatterers, maden semblaūce of wepyng, & enpayred and agrut∣ched moche of this mater, in praysinge great¦ly Melibe of might, of power, of richesse and of frendes, dispysing the power of his aduer∣saries: and sayd vtterly, that he anon shulde Page  lxxx wreken hym on hys foos, and begyn warre.

Vp rose then an aduocat that was wyse byleue and by counsayle of other that were wyse, and sayd: The nede for the whych we bene assembled in thys place, is a full heuye thynge, & a great mater bycause of ye wronge and of the wyckednesse that hath be done, & eke by reason of great damages that in tyme commynge ben possyble to fallen for ye same, and eke by reason of the great rychesse and po¦wer of the partyes both, for the whyche rea∣sons it were a full greate peryll to erren in thys matter. Wherfore Melibeus thys is oure sentence, we counsayle you abouen all thynge, that ryghte anone thou do thy dely∣gence in kepynge of thy proper persone, in suche a wyse that thou ne wante none espye ne watche, thy bodye for to saue: And after that we counsayle that in thyne house thou et suffyciēt garryson, so as they may as well thy bodye as thy house defende: but certes to mouen warre, or to done sodeynly vengeaūce we maye not deme in so lytel tyme yt it were profytable, wherfore we aske leyser & space to haue delyberacion in thys case to deme, for the commen prouerbe sayeth thus: He that sone demeth sone shall repente. And eke men sayne, thylke iudge is wyse that sone vnder∣standeth a matter, and iugeth by leyser: For all be it taryenge be noyfull, algate it is not to be reproued in yeuynge of iudgemente, ne in vengeaunce takynge, when it is sufficyent and resonable. And that shewed oure Lorde Iesu Christe by ensample, for when the wo∣man was takē in auoutry and was brought in hys presens to knowen what shulde be done of her persone, al be it that he wyst wel hym self what he wold answere, yet ne wold he not answere sodeynly, but he wolde haue delyberacion, and in the grounde he wrote twyse, and by thys cause we asken delybera∣tion: and we shall then by the grace of God coūsayle you yt thynge that shalbe profytable

Vp sterte then the yonge folke at ones, & ye moste parte of that company haue scorned thys olde wyse man, and begā to make noyse and sayde. Ryght so as whyles that yron is hote men shulde smyte, ryghte so men shulde wreken her wronges whyle that they bene freshe and newe, and wyth loude voyce they tryed warre warre. Vp rose tho one of ye old wyse, & wyth hys hande made coūtenaunce that they shulde holdē hem styl & yeuen hym audience. Lordynges ({quod} he) ther is ful many a man that cryeth warre warre, ye wote full lyte what warre amounteth. Warre at hys begynnynge hath so great an entryng and so large, that euery wyght may entre whē hym liketh, & lightly fynd warre: but certes what ende therof shal fal, it is not lightly to know. When ye warre is ones bygon, there is full many a chylde vnborne of hys mother, yt shal sterue yōge bycause of thilke warre, other els lyue in sorowe, or dye in wretchednesse: And therfore or yt any warre be bygon, men muste haue great counsayle & good delyberation. And when thys olde man wende to enforcen hys tale by reson, well nye all at ones bygon for to ryse for to breken hys tale, & byddē him ful ofte hys wordes for to abrege: For certes he yt precheth to hem that lyst not to here his wordes, his sermō hem anoyeth. For Iesus Syrake sayth, yt weping in musyke is a noy∣ous thynge. This is as moch to say, as moch auayleth it to speake byforne folke to which his speche anoyeth, as it is for to syngen by∣forne hem that wepe. And when thys wyse man sawe yt him wāted audiēce, al shamfaste he set him adowne ayen. For Salomō sayth. There as thou mayst not haue audience, en∣force the not to speake. I se wel ({quod} thys wyse man) that the cōmen prouerbe is soth, yt good counsayle wanteth, when it is moste nede.

Yet had thys Melibeus in hys counsayle many folke, that priuely in hys eere counsay∣led hym certayne thynges, and counsayled hym the contrary in general audience. when Melibeus had herde that the greatest parte of hys counsayle were accorded that he shuld make warre, anone he consented to her coū∣saylynge, and fully affyrmed her sentence. Then dame Prudence, when that she sawe her husbonde shope hym for to awreke hym on hys enemyes, & to begyn warre: she in ful hūble wyse, when she sawe her tyme sayd to hym these wordes. My lord ({quod} she) I you be seche as hertely as I dare or can, ne hast you not to fast, and for all guerdons yeue me au∣diēce. For Peter Alphōs sayth. Who so doth to the good or harme, hast the not to quyte it for in thys wyse thy frende woll abyde, and thyne enemye shall the lenger lyue in drede. The prouerbe sayth, he hasteth wel yt wisely can abyde: And in wycked hast is no profyte.

Page  [unnumbered]Thys Melibe answered to hys wyfe pru¦dence: I purpose not (quoth he) to werke by thy counsayle, for many causes and reasons, for certes euery wyght wolde holde me then a foole. Thys is to saye, yf I for thy counsay¦lynge wolde chaunge thynges that bene or∣dayned and affyrmed by so many wyse. Se∣condly, I saye that all women bene wycked, and none good of hem all. For of a thousande men sayeth Salomon, I founde one good man: but certes of all women foūde I neuer none. And also certes, yf I gouerned me by thy counsayle, it shulde seme that I had yeue the ouer me the maystrye: and God forbyd yt it so were. For Iesus Syracke sayeth, that yf the wyfe haue maystrye, she is contrarious to her husbande. And Salomon sayeth. Ne∣uer in thy lyfe to thy wyfe, ne to thy chylde, ne to thy frende, ne yeue no power ouer thy selfe, for better it were that thy chyldren aske of thy thinges that hem nedeth then thy selfe to be in the handes of thy chyldren. And also yf I woll werche by thy coūsayle, certes my counsayle must be somtyme secret til it were tyme that it muste be knowen: and thys ne maye not be, yf I shulde be counsayled by the. When dame Prudence full debonairly and with great paciēce, had herde al that her husbonde lyked for to saye, then asked she of hym lycence for to speake, and sayd in thys wyse. My lorde (quoth she) as to youre fyrste reason, it maye lyghtly ben answered. For I saye that it is no folye to chaunge counsayle, when the thynge is chaunged, or els when ye thynge semeth otherwyse thē it semed afore. And more ouer I saye, thoughe that ye haue sworne and behyght to performe youre em∣pryse, & by iuste cause ye do it not: men shulde not saye therfore ye were a lyer & forsworne For the boke sayeth, that the wyse man ma∣keth no lesynge, when he turneth hys corage for the better. And albeit that your empryse be establyshed and ordeyned by great multy∣tude of folke, yet dare you not accomplyshe thylke ordynaunce but you lyketh: for the trouth of thynges and the profyte ben rather founden in fewe folke that ben wyse and full of reason, then by greate multytude of folke, there euery man cryeth and clattereth what hym lyketh: sothly suche multytude is not ho¦nest. And