History of Literature









Geoffrey Chaucer


"THE CANTERBURY TALES"


 




THE CANTERBURY TALES


CONTENTS

PART I
The General Prologue
The Knight's Tale
The Miller's tale

PART II
The Reeve's Tale
The Cook's Tale
The Man of Law's Tale
The Wife of Bath's Tale
The Friar's Tale
The Sompnour's Tale
The Clerk's Tale

PART III
The Merchant's Tale
The Squire's Tale
The Franklin's Tale
The Doctor's Tale
The Pardoner's Tale
The Shipman's Tale
The Prioress's Tale
Chaucer's Tale of Sir Thopas

PART IV
Chaucer's Tale of Meliboeus
The Monk's Tale
The Nun's Priest's Tale
The Second Nun's Tale
The Canon's Yeoman's Tale
The Manciple's Tale
The Parson's Tale

 
 









THE MERCHANT'S TALE.



THE PROLOGUE.

<l>

"Weeping and wailing, care and other sorrow,
I have enough, on even and on morrow,"
Quoth the Merchant, "and so have other mo',
That wedded be; I trow* that it be so; *believe
For well I wot it fareth so by me.
I have a wife, the worste that may be,
For though the fiend to her y-coupled were,
She would him overmatch, I dare well swear.
Why should I you rehearse in special
Her high malice? she is *a shrew at all.* *thoroughly, in
There is a long and large difference everything wicked*
Betwixt Griselda's greate patience,
And of my wife the passing cruelty.
Were I unbounden, all so may I the,* *thrive
I woulde never eft* come in the snare. *again
We wedded men live in sorrow and care;
Assay it whoso will, and he shall find
That I say sooth, by Saint Thomas of Ind,<2>
As for the more part; I say not all, —
God shielde* that it shoulde so befall. *forbid
Ah! good Sir Host, I have y-wedded be
These moneths two, and more not, pardie;
And yet I trow* that he that all his life *believe
Wifeless hath been, though that men would him rive* *wound
Into the hearte, could in no mannere
Telle so much sorrow, as I you here
Could tellen of my wife's cursedness."* *wickedness

"Now," quoth our Host, "Merchant, so God you bless,
Since ye so muche knowen of that art,
Full heartily I pray you tell us part."
"Gladly," quoth he; "but of mine owen sore,
For sorry heart, I telle may no more."

Notes to the Prologue to the Merchant's Tale

1. Though the manner in which the Merchant takes up the closing words of the Envoy to the Clerk's Tale, and refers to the patience of Griselda, seems to prove beyond doubt that the order of the Tales in the text is the right one, yet in some manuscripts of good authority the Franklin's Tale follows the Clerk's, and the Envoy is concluded by this stanza: — "This worthy Clerk when ended was his tale, Our Hoste said, and swore by cocke's bones 'Me lever were than a barrel of ale My wife at home had heard this legend once; This is a gentle tale for the nonce; As, to my purpose, wiste ye my will. But thing that will not be, let it be still.'"

In other manuscripts of less authority the Host proceeds, in two similar stanzas, to impose a Tale on the Franklin; but Tyrwhitt is probably right in setting them aside as spurious, and in admitting the genuineness of the first only, if it be supposed that Chaucer forgot to cancel it when he had decided on another mode of connecting the Merchant's with the Clerk's Tale.

2. Saint Thomas of Ind: St. Thomas the Apostle, who was believed to have travelled in India.





 

THE TALE.

<l>

Whilom there was dwelling in Lombardy
A worthy knight, that born was at Pavie,
In which he liv'd in great prosperity;
And forty years a wifeless man was he,
And follow'd aye his bodily delight
On women, where as was his appetite,
As do these fooles that be seculeres.<2>
And, when that he was passed sixty years,
Were it for holiness, or for dotage,
I cannot say, but such a great corage* *inclination
Hadde this knight to be a wedded man,
That day and night he did all that he can
To espy where that he might wedded be;
Praying our Lord to grante him, that he
Mighte once knowen of that blissful life
That is betwixt a husband and his wife,
And for to live under that holy bond
With which God firste man and woman bond.
"None other life," said he, "is worth a bean;
For wedlock is so easy, and so clean,
That in this world it is a paradise."
Thus said this olde knight, that was so wise.
And certainly, as sooth* as God is king, *true
To take a wife it is a glorious thing,
And namely* when a man is old and hoar, *especially
Then is a wife the fruit of his treasor;
Then should he take a young wife and a fair,
On which he might engender him an heir,
And lead his life in joy and in solace;* *mirth, delight
Whereas these bachelors singen "Alas!"
When that they find any adversity
In love, which is but childish vanity.
And truely it sits* well to be so, *becomes, befits
That bachelors have often pain and woe:
On brittle ground they build, and brittleness
They finde when they *weene sickerness:* *think that there
They live but as a bird or as a beast, is security*
In liberty, and under no arrest;* *check, control
Whereas a wedded man in his estate
Liveth a life blissful and ordinate,
Under the yoke of marriage y-bound;
Well may his heart in joy and bliss abound.
For who can be so buxom* as a wife? *obedient
Who is so true, and eke so attentive
To keep* him, sick and whole, as is his make?** *care for **mate
For weal or woe she will him not forsake:
She is not weary him to love and serve,
Though that he lie bedrid until he sterve.* *die
And yet some clerkes say it is not so;
Of which he, Theophrast, is one of tho:* *those
*What force* though Theophrast list for to lie? *what matter*

"Take no wife," quoth he, <3> "for husbandry,* *thrift
As for to spare in household thy dispence;
A true servant doth more diligence
Thy good to keep, than doth thine owen wife,
For she will claim a half part all her life.
And if that thou be sick, so God me save,
Thy very friendes, or a true knave,* *servant
Will keep thee bet than she, that *waiteth aye *ahways waits to
After thy good,* and hath done many a day." inherit your property*
This sentence, and a hundred times worse,
Writeth this man, there God his bones curse.
But take no keep* of all such vanity, *notice
Defy* Theophrast, and hearken to me. *distrust

A wife is Godde's gifte verily;
All other manner giftes hardily,* *truly
As handes, rentes, pasture, or commune,* *common land
Or mebles,* all be giftes of fortune, *furniture <4>
That passen as a shadow on the wall:
But dread* thou not, if plainly speak I shall, *doubt
A wife will last, and in thine house endure,
Well longer than thee list, paraventure.* *perhaps
Marriage is a full great sacrament;
He which that hath no wife, I hold him shent;* *ruined
He liveth helpless, and all desolate
(I speak of folk *in secular estate*): *who are not
And hearken why, I say not this for nought, — of the clergy*
That woman is for manne's help y-wrought.
The highe God, when he had Adam maked,
And saw him all alone belly naked,
God of his greate goodness saide then,
Let us now make a help unto this man
Like to himself; and then he made him Eve.
Here may ye see, and hereby may ye preve,* *prove
That a wife is man s help and his comfort,
His paradise terrestre and his disport.
So buxom* and so virtuous is she, *obedient, complying
They muste needes live in unity;
One flesh they be, and one blood, as I guess,
With but one heart in weal and in distress.
A wife? Ah! Saint Mary, ben'dicite,
How might a man have any adversity
That hath a wife? certes I cannot say
The bliss the which that is betwixt them tway,
There may no tongue it tell, or hearte think.
If he be poor, she helpeth him to swink;* *labour
She keeps his good, and wasteth never a deal;* *whit
All that her husband list, her liketh* well; *pleaseth
She saith not ones Nay, when he saith Yea;
"Do this," saith he; "All ready, Sir," saith she.
O blissful order, wedlock precious!
Thou art so merry, and eke so virtuous,
And so commended and approved eke,
That every man that holds him worth a leek
Upon his bare knees ought all his life
To thank his God, that him hath sent a wife;
Or elles pray to God him for to send
A wife, to last unto his life's end.
For then his life is set in sickerness,* *security
He may not be deceived, as I guess,
So that he work after his wife's rede;* *counsel
Then may he boldely bear up his head,
They be so true, and therewithal so wise.
For which, if thou wilt worken as the wise,
Do alway so as women will thee rede. * *counsel
Lo how that Jacob, as these clerkes read,
By good counsel of his mother Rebecc'
Bounde the kiddes skin about his neck;
For which his father's benison* he wan. *benediction
Lo Judith, as the story telle can,
By good counsel she Godde's people kept,
And slew him, Holofernes, while he slept.
Lo Abigail, by good counsel, how she
Saved her husband Nabal, when that he
Should have been slain. And lo, Esther also
By counsel good deliver'd out of woe
The people of God, and made him, Mardoche,
Of Assuere enhanced* for to be. *advanced in dignity
There is nothing *in gree superlative* *of higher esteem*
(As saith Senec) above a humble wife.
Suffer thy wife's tongue, as Cato bit;* *bid
She shall command, and thou shalt suffer it,
And yet she will obey of courtesy.
A wife is keeper of thine husbandry:
Well may the sicke man bewail and weep,
There as there is no wife the house to keep.
I warne thee, if wisely thou wilt wirch,* *work
Love well thy wife, as Christ loveth his church:
Thou lov'st thyself, if thou lovest thy wife.
No man hateth his flesh, but in his life
He fost'reth it; and therefore bid I thee
Cherish thy wife, or thou shalt never the.* *thrive
Husband and wife, what *so men jape or play,* *although men joke
Of worldly folk holde the sicker* way; and jeer* *certain
They be so knit there may no harm betide,
And namely* upon the wife's side. * especially

For which this January, of whom I told,
Consider'd hath within his dayes old,
The lusty life, the virtuous quiet,
That is in marriage honey-sweet.
And for his friends upon a day he sent
To tell them the effect of his intent.
With face sad,* his tale he hath them told: *grave, earnest
He saide, "Friendes, I am hoar and old,
And almost (God wot) on my pitte's* brink, *grave's
Upon my soule somewhat must I think.
I have my body foolishly dispended,
Blessed be God that it shall be amended;
For I will be certain a wedded man,
And that anon in all the haste I can,
Unto some maiden, fair and tender of age;
I pray you shape* for my marriage * arrange, contrive
All suddenly, for I will not abide:
And I will fond* to espy, on my side, *try
To whom I may be wedded hastily.
But forasmuch as ye be more than,
Ye shalle rather* such a thing espy
Than I, and where me best were to ally.
But one thing warn I you, my friendes dear,
I will none old wife have in no mannere:
She shall not passe sixteen year certain.
Old fish and younge flesh would I have fain.
Better," quoth he, "a pike than a pickerel,* *young pike
And better than old beef is tender veal.
I will no woman thirty year of age,
It is but beanestraw and great forage.
And eke these olde widows (God it wot)
They conne* so much craft on Wade's boat,<5> *know
*So muche brooke harm when that them lest,* *they can do so much
That with them should I never live in rest. harm when they wish*
For sundry schooles make subtle clerkes;
Woman of many schooles half a clerk is.
But certainly a young thing men may guy,* *guide
Right as men may warm wax with handes ply.* *bend,mould
Wherefore I say you plainly in a clause,
I will none old wife have, right for this cause.
For if so were I hadde such mischance,
That I in her could have no pleasance,
Then should I lead my life in avoutrie,* *adultery
And go straight to the devil when I die.
Nor children should I none upon her getten:
Yet *were me lever* houndes had me eaten *I would rather*
Than that mine heritage shoulde fall
In strange hands: and this I tell you all.
I doubte not I know the cause why
Men shoulde wed: and farthermore know I
There speaketh many a man of marriage
That knows no more of it than doth my page,
For what causes a man should take a wife.
If he ne may not live chaste his life,
Take him a wife with great devotion,
Because of lawful procreation
Of children, to th' honour of God above,
And not only for paramour or love;
And for they shoulde lechery eschew,
And yield their debte when that it is due:
Or for that each of them should help the other
In mischief,* as a sister shall the brother, *trouble
And live in chastity full holily.
But, Sires, by your leave, that am not I,
For, God be thanked, I dare make avaunt,* *boast
I feel my limbes stark* and suffisant *strong
To do all that a man belongeth to:
I wot myselfe best what I may do.
Though I be hoar, I fare as doth a tree,
That blossoms ere the fruit y-waxen* be; *grown
The blossomy tree is neither dry nor dead;
I feel me now here hoar but on my head.
Mine heart and all my limbes are as green
As laurel through the year is for to seen.* *see
And, since that ye have heard all mine intent,
I pray you to my will ye would assent."

Diverse men diversely him told
Of marriage many examples old;
Some blamed it, some praised it, certain;
But at the haste, shortly for to sayn
(As all day* falleth altercation *constantly, every day
Betwixte friends in disputation),
There fell a strife betwixt his brethren two,
Of which that one was called Placebo,
Justinus soothly called was that other.

Placebo said; "O January, brother,
Full little need have ye, my lord so dear,
Counsel to ask of any that is here:
But that ye be so full of sapience,
That you not liketh, for your high prudence,
To waive* from the word of Solomon. *depart, deviate
This word said he unto us every one;
Work alle thing by counsel, — thus said he, —
And thenne shalt thou not repente thee
But though that Solomon spake such a word,
Mine owen deare brother and my lord,
So wisly* God my soule bring at rest, *surely
I hold your owen counsel is the best.
For, brother mine, take of me this motive; * *advice, encouragement
I have now been a court-man all my life,
And, God it wot, though I unworthy be,
I have standen in full great degree
Aboute lordes of full high estate;
Yet had I ne'er with none of them debate;
I never them contraried truely.
I know well that my lord can* more than I; *knows
What that he saith I hold it firm and stable,
I say the same, or else a thing semblable.
A full great fool is any counsellor
That serveth any lord of high honour
That dare presume, or ones thinken it;
That his counsel should pass his lorde's wit.
Nay, lordes be no fooles by my fay.
Ye have yourselfe shewed here to day
So high sentence,* so holily and well *judgment, sentiment
That I consent, and confirm *every deal* *in every point*
Your wordes all, and your opinioun
By God, there is no man in all this town
Nor in Itale, could better have y-said.
Christ holds him of this counsel well apaid.* *satisfied
And truely it is a high courage
Of any man that stopen* is in age, *advanced <6>
To take a young wife, by my father's kin;
Your hearte hangeth on a jolly pin.
Do now in this matter right as you lest,
For finally I hold it for the best."

Justinus, that aye stille sat and heard,
Right in this wise to Placebo answer'd.
"Now, brother mine, be patient I pray,
Since ye have said, and hearken what I say.
Senec, among his other wordes wise,
Saith, that a man ought him right well advise,* *consider
To whom he gives his hand or his chattel.
And since I ought advise me right well
To whom I give my good away from me,
Well more I ought advise me, pardie,
To whom I give my body: for alway
I warn you well it is no childe's play
To take a wife without advisement.
Men must inquire (this is mine assent)
Whe'er she be wise, or sober, or dronkelew,* *given to drink
Or proud, or any other ways a shrew,
A chidester,* or a waster of thy good, *a scold
Or rich or poor; or else a man is wood.* *mad
Albeit so, that no man finde shall
None in this world, that *trotteth whole in all,* *is sound in
No man, nor beast, such as men can devise,* every point* *describe
But nathehess it ought enough suffice
With any wife, if so were that she had
More goode thewes* than her vices bad: * qualities
And all this asketh leisure to inquere.
For, God it wot, I have wept many a tear
Full privily, since I have had a wife.
Praise whoso will a wedded manne's life,
Certes, I find in it but cost and care,
And observances of all blisses bare.
And yet, God wot, my neighebours about,
And namely* of women many a rout,** *especially **company
Say that I have the moste steadfast wife,
And eke the meekest one, that beareth life.
But I know best where wringeth* me my shoe, *pinches
Ye may for me right as you like do
Advise you, ye be a man of age,
How that ye enter into marriage;
And namely* with a young wife and a fair, * especially
By him that made water, fire, earth, air,
The youngest man that is in all this rout* *company
Is busy enough to bringen it about
To have his wife alone, truste me:
Ye shall not please her fully yeares three,
This is to say, to do her full pleasance.
A wife asketh full many an observance.
I pray you that ye be not *evil apaid."* *displeased*

"Well," quoth this January, "and hast thou said?
Straw for thy Senec, and for thy proverbs,
I counte not a pannier full of herbs
Of schoole termes; wiser men than thou,
As thou hast heard, assented here right now
To my purpose: Placebo, what say ye?"
"I say it is a cursed* man," quoth he, *ill-natured, wicked
"That letteth* matrimony, sickerly." *hindereth
And with that word they rise up suddenly,
And be assented fully, that he should
Be wedded when him list, and where he would.

High fantasy and curious business
From day to day gan in the soul impress* *imprint themselves
Of January about his marriage
Many a fair shape, and many a fair visage
There passed through his hearte night by night.
As whoso took a mirror polish'd bright,
And set it in a common market-place,
Then should he see many a figure pace
By his mirror; and in the same wise
Gan January in his thought devise
Of maidens, which that dwelte him beside:
He wiste not where that he might abide.* *stay, fix his choice
For if that one had beauty in her face,
Another stood so in the people's grace
For her sadness* and her benignity, *sedateness
That of the people greatest voice had she:
And some were rich and had a badde name.
But natheless, betwixt earnest and game,
He at the last appointed him on one,
And let all others from his hearte gon,
And chose her of his own authority;
For love is blind all day, and may not see.
And when that he was into bed y-brought,
He pourtray'd in his heart and in his thought
Her freshe beauty, and her age tender,
Her middle small, her armes long and slender,
Her wise governance, her gentleness,
Her womanly bearing, and her sadness.* *sedateness
And when that he *on her was condescended,* *had selected her*
He thought his choice might not be amended;
For when that he himself concluded had,
He thought each other manne' s wit so bad,
That impossible it were to reply
Against his choice; this was his fantasy.
His friendes sent he to, at his instance,
And prayed them to do him that pleasance,
That hastily they would unto him come;
He would abridge their labour all and some:
Needed no more for them to go nor ride,<7>
*He was appointed where he would abide.* *he had definitively

Placebo came, and eke his friendes soon, made his choice*
And *alderfirst he bade them all a boon,* *first of all he asked
That none of them no arguments would make a favour of them*
Against the purpose that he had y-take:
Which purpose was pleasant to God, said he,
And very ground of his prosperity.
He said, there was a maiden in the town,
Which that of beauty hadde great renown;
All* were it so she were of small degree, *although
Sufficed him her youth and her beauty;
Which maid, he said, he would have to his wife,
To lead in ease and holiness his life;
And thanked God, that he might have her all,
That no wight with his blisse parte* shall; *have a share
And prayed them to labour in this need,
And shape that he faile not to speed:
For then, he said, his spirit was at ease.
"Then is," quoth he, "nothing may me displease,
Save one thing pricketh in my conscience,
The which I will rehearse in your presence.
I have," quoth he, "heard said, full yore* ago, *long
There may no man have perfect blisses two,
This is to say, on earth and eke in heaven.
For though he keep him from the sinne's seven,
And eke from every branch of thilke tree,<8>
Yet is there so perfect felicity,
And so great *ease and lust,* in marriage, *comfort and pleasure*
That ev'r I am aghast,* now in mine age *ashamed, afraid
That I shall head now so merry a life,
So delicate, withoute woe or strife,
That I shall have mine heav'n on earthe here.
For since that very heav'n is bought so dear,
With tribulation and great penance,
How should I then, living in such pleasance
As alle wedded men do with their wives,
Come to the bliss where Christ *etern on live is?* *lives eternally*
This is my dread;* and ye, my brethren tway, *doubt
Assoile* me this question, I you pray." *resolve, answer

Justinus, which that hated his folly,
Answer'd anon right in his japery;* *mockery, jesting way
And, for he would his longe tale abridge,
He woulde no authority* allege, *written texts
But saide; "Sir, so there be none obstacle
Other than this, God of his high miracle,
And of his mercy, may so for you wirch,* *work
That, ere ye have your rights of holy church,
Ye may repent of wedded manne's life,
In which ye say there is no woe nor strife:
And elles God forbid, *but if* he sent *unless
A wedded man his grace him to repent
Well often, rather than a single man.
And therefore, Sir, *the beste rede I can,* *this is the best counsel
Despair you not, but have in your memory, that I know*
Paraventure she may be your purgatory;
She may be Godde's means, and Godde's whip;
And then your soul shall up to heaven skip
Swifter than doth an arrow from a bow.
I hope to God hereafter ye shall know
That there is none so great felicity
In marriage, nor ever more shall be,
That you shall let* of your salvation; *hinder
So that ye use, as skill is and reason,
The lustes* of your wife attemperly,** *pleasures **moderately
And that ye please her not too amorously,
And that ye keep you eke from other sin.
My tale is done, for my wit is but thin.
Be not aghast* hereof, my brother dear, *aharmed, afraid
But let us waden out of this mattere,
The Wife of Bath, if ye have understand,
Of marriage, which ye have now in hand,
Declared hath full well in little space;
Fare ye now well, God have you in his grace."

And with this word this Justin' and his brother
Have ta'en their leave, and each of them of other.
And when they saw that it must needes be,
They wroughte so, by sleight and wise treaty,
That she, this maiden, which that *Maius hight,* *was named May*
As hastily as ever that she might,
Shall wedded be unto this January.
I trow it were too longe you to tarry,
If I told you of every *script and band* *written bond*
By which she was feoffed in his hand;
Or for to reckon of her rich array
But finally y-comen is the day
That to the churche bothe be they went,
For to receive the holy sacrament,
Forth came the priest, with stole about his neck,
And bade her be like Sarah and Rebecc'
In wisdom and in truth of marriage;
And said his orisons, as is usage,
And crouched* them, and prayed God should them bless, *crossed
And made all sicker* enough with holiness. *certain

Thus be they wedded with solemnity;
And at the feaste sat both he and she,
With other worthy folk, upon the dais.
All full of joy and bliss is the palace,
And full of instruments, and of vitaille, * *victuals, food
The moste dainteous* of all Itale. *delicate
Before them stood such instruments of soun',
That Orpheus, nor of Thebes Amphioun,
Ne made never such a melody.
At every course came in loud minstrelsy,
That never Joab trumped for to hear,
Nor he, Theodomas, yet half so clear
At Thebes, when the city was in doubt.
Bacchus the wine them skinked* all about. *poured <9>
And Venus laughed upon every wight
(For January was become her knight,
And woulde both assaye his courage
In liberty, and eke in marriage),
And with her firebrand in her hand about
Danced before the bride and all the rout.
And certainly I dare right well say this,
Hymeneus, that god of wedding is,
Saw never his life so merry a wedded man.
Hold thou thy peace, thou poet Marcian,<10>
That writest us that ilke* wedding merry *same
Of her Philology and him Mercury,
And of the songes that the Muses sung;
Too small is both thy pen, and eke thy tongue
For to describen of this marriage.
When tender youth hath wedded stooping age,
There is such mirth that it may not be writ;
Assay it youreself, then may ye wit* *know
If that I lie or no in this mattere.

Maius, that sat with so benign a cheer,* *countenance
Her to behold it seemed faerie;
Queen Esther never look'd with such an eye
On Assuere, so meek a look had she;
I may you not devise all her beauty;
But thus much of her beauty tell I may,
That she was hike the bright morrow of May
Full filled of all beauty and pleasance.
This January is ravish'd in a trance,
At every time he looked in her face;
But in his heart he gan her to menace,
That he that night in armes would her strain
Harder than ever Paris did Helene.
But natheless yet had he great pity
That thilke night offende her must he,
And thought, "Alas, O tender creature,
Now woulde God ye mighte well endure
All my courage, it is so sharp and keen;
I am aghast* ye shall it not sustene. *afraid
But God forbid that I did all my might.
Now woulde God that it were waxen night,
And that the night would lasten evermo'.
I would that all this people were y-go."* *gone away
And finally he did all his labour,
As he best mighte, saving his honour,
To haste them from the meat in subtle wise.

The time came that reason was to rise;
And after that men dance, and drinke fast,
And spices all about the house they cast,
And full of joy and bliss is every man,
All but a squire, that highte Damian,
Who carv'd before the knight full many a day;
He was so ravish'd on his lady May,
That for the very pain he was nigh wood;* *mad
Almost he swelt* and swooned where he stood, *fainted
So sore had Venus hurt him with her brand,
As that she bare it dancing in her hand.
And to his bed he went him hastily;
No more of him as at this time speak I;
But there I let him weep enough and plain,* *bewail
Till freshe May will rue upon his pain.
O perilous fire, that in the bedstraw breedeth!
O foe familiar,* that his service bedeth!** *domestic <11> **offers
O servant traitor, O false homely hewe,* *servant <12>
Like to the adder in bosom shy untrue,
God shield us alle from your acquaintance!
O January, drunken in pleasance
Of marriage, see how thy Damian,
Thine owen squier and thy boren* man, *born <13>
Intendeth for to do thee villainy:* *dishonour, outrage
God grante thee thine *homehy foe* t' espy. *enemy in the household*
For in this world is no worse pestilence
Than homely foe, all day in thy presence.

Performed hath the sun his arc diurn,* *daily
No longer may the body of him sojourn
On the horizon, in that latitude:
Night with his mantle, that is dark and rude,
Gan overspread the hemisphere about:
For which departed is this *lusty rout* *pleasant company*
From January, with thank on every side.
Home to their houses lustily they ride,
Where as they do their thinges as them lest,
And when they see their time they go to rest.
Soon after that this hasty* January *eager
Will go to bed, he will no longer tarry.
He dranke hippocras, clarre, and vernage <14>
Of spices hot, to increase his courage;
And many a lectuary* had he full fine, *potion
Such as the cursed monk Dan Constantine<15>
Hath written in his book *de Coitu;* *of sexual intercourse*
To eat them all he would nothing eschew:
And to his privy friendes thus said he:
"For Godde's love, as soon as it may be,
Let *voiden all* this house in courteous wise." *everyone leave*
And they have done right as he will devise.
Men drinken, and the travers* draw anon; *curtains
The bride is brought to bed as still as stone;
And when the bed was with the priest y-bless'd,
Out of the chamber every wight him dress'd,
And January hath fast in arms y-take
His freshe May, his paradise, his make.* *mate
He lulled her, he kissed her full oft;
With thicke bristles of his beard unsoft,
Like to the skin of houndfish,* sharp as brere** *dogfish **briar
(For he was shav'n all new in his mannere),
He rubbed her upon her tender face,
And saide thus; "Alas! I must trespace
To you, my spouse, and you greatly offend,
Ere time come that I will down descend.
But natheless consider this," quoth he,
"There is no workman, whatsoe'er he be,
That may both worke well and hastily:
This will be done at leisure perfectly.
It is *no force* how longe that we play; *no matter*
In true wedlock coupled be we tway;
And blessed be the yoke that we be in,
For in our actes may there be no sin.
A man may do no sinne with his wife,
Nor hurt himselfe with his owen knife;
For we have leave to play us by the law."

Thus labour'd he, till that the day gan daw,
And then he took a sop in fine clarre,
And upright in his bedde then sat he.
And after that he sang full loud and clear,
And kiss'd his wife, and made wanton cheer.
He was all coltish, full of ragerie * *wantonness
And full of jargon as a flecked pie.<16>
The slacke skin about his necke shaked,
While that he sang, so chanted he and craked.* *quavered
But God wot what that May thought in her heart,
When she him saw up sitting in his shirt
In his night-cap, and with his necke lean:
She praised not his playing worth a bean.
Then said he thus; "My reste will I take
Now day is come, I may no longer wake;
And down he laid his head and slept till prime.
And afterward, when that he saw his time,
Up rose January, but freshe May
Helde her chamber till the fourthe day,
As usage is of wives for the best.
For every labour some time must have rest,
Or elles longe may he not endure;
This is to say, no life of creature,
Be it of fish, or bird, or beast, or man.

Now will I speak of woeful Damian,
That languisheth for love, as ye shall hear;
Therefore I speak to him in this manneare.
I say. "O silly Damian, alas!
Answer to this demand, as in this case,
How shalt thou to thy lady, freshe May,
Telle thy woe? She will alway say nay;
Eke if thou speak, she will thy woe bewray; * *betray
God be thine help, I can no better say.
This sicke Damian in Venus' fire
So burned that he died for desire;
For which he put his life *in aventure,* *at risk*
No longer might he in this wise endure;
But privily a penner* gan he borrow, *writing-case
And in a letter wrote he all his sorrow,
In manner of a complaint or a lay,
Unto his faire freshe lady May.
And in a purse of silk, hung on his shirt,
He hath it put, and laid it at his heart.

The moone, that at noon was thilke* day *that
That January had wedded freshe May,
In ten of Taure, was into Cancer glided;<17>
So long had Maius in her chamber abided,
As custom is unto these nobles all.
A bride shall not eaten in the ball
Till dayes four, or three days at the least,
Y-passed be; then let her go to feast.
The fourthe day complete from noon to noon,
When that the highe masse was y-done,
In halle sat this January, and May,
As fresh as is the brighte summer's day.
And so befell, how that this goode man
Remember'd him upon this Damian.
And saide; "Saint Mary, how may this be,
That Damian attendeth not to me?
Is he aye sick? or how may this betide?"
His squiers, which that stoode there beside,
Excused him, because of his sickness,
Which letted* him to do his business: *hindered
None other cause mighte make him tarry.
"That me forthinketh,"* quoth this January *grieves, causes
"He is a gentle squier, by my truth; uneasiness
If that he died, it were great harm and ruth.
He is as wise, as discreet, and secre',* *secret, trusty
As any man I know of his degree,
And thereto manly and eke serviceble,
And for to be a thrifty man right able.
But after meat, as soon as ever I may
I will myself visit him, and eke May,
To do him all the comfort that I can."
And for that word him blessed every man,
That of his bounty and his gentleness
He woulde so comforten in sickness
His squier, for it was a gentle deed.

"Dame," quoth this January, "take good heed,
At after meat, ye with your women all
(When that ye be in chamb'r out of this hall),
That all ye go to see this Damian:
Do him disport, he is a gentle man;
And telle him that I will him visite,
*Have I nothing but rested me a lite:* *when only I have rested
And speed you faste, for I will abide me a little*
Till that ye sleepe faste by my side."
And with that word he gan unto him call
A squier, that was marshal of his hall,
And told him certain thinges that he wo'ld.
This freshe May hath straight her way y-hold,
With all her women, unto Damian.
Down by his beddes side sat she than,* *then
Comforting him as goodly as she may.
This Damian, when that his time he say,* *saw
In secret wise his purse, and eke his bill,
In which that he y-written had his will,
Hath put into her hand withoute more,
Save that he sighed wondrous deep and sore,
And softely to her right thus said he:
"Mercy, and that ye not discover me:
For I am dead if that this thing be kid."* *discovered <18>
The purse hath she in her bosom hid,
And went her way; ye get no more of me;
But unto January come is she,
That on his bedde's side sat full soft.
He took her, and he kissed her full oft,
And laid him down to sleep, and that anon.
She feigned her as that she muste gon
There as ye know that every wight must need;
And when she of this bill had taken heed,
She rent it all to cloutes* at the last, *fragments
And in the privy softely it cast.
Who studieth* now but faire freshe May? *is thoughtful
Adown by olde January she lay,
That slepte, till the cough had him awaked:
Anon he pray'd her strippe her all naked,
He would of her, he said, have some pleasance;
And said her clothes did him incumbrance.
And she obey'd him, be her *lefe or loth.* *willing or unwilling*
But, lest that precious* folk be with me wroth, *over-nice <19>
How that he wrought I dare not to you tell,
Or whether she thought it paradise or hell;
But there I let them worken in their wise
Till evensong ring, and they must arise.

Were it by destiny, or aventure,* * chance
Were it by influence, or by nature,
Or constellation, that in such estate
The heaven stood at that time fortunate
As for to put a bill of Venus' works
(For alle thing hath time, as say these clerks),
To any woman for to get her love,
I cannot say; but greate God above,
That knoweth that none act is causeless,
*He deem* of all, for I will hold my peace. *let him judge*
But sooth is this, how that this freshe May
Hath taken such impression that day
Of pity on this sicke Damian,
That from her hearte she not drive can
The remembrance for *to do him ease.* *to satisfy
"Certain," thought she, "whom that this thing displease his desire*
I recke not, for here I him assure,
To love him best of any creature,
Though he no more haddee than his shirt."
Lo, pity runneth soon in gentle heart.
Here may ye see, how excellent franchise* *generosity
In women is when they them *narrow advise.* *closely consider*
Some tyrant is, — as there be many a one, —
That hath a heart as hard as any stone,
Which would have let him sterven* in the place *die
Well rather than have granted him her grace;
And then rejoicen in her cruel pride.
And reckon not to be a homicide.
This gentle May, full filled of pity,
Right of her hand a letter maked she,
In which she granted him her very grace;
There lacked nought, but only day and place,
Where that she might unto his lust suffice:
For it shall be right as he will devise.
And when she saw her time upon a day
To visit this Damian went this May,
And subtilly this letter down she thrust
Under his pillow, read it if him lust.* *pleased
She took him by the hand, and hard him twist
So secretly, that no wight of it wist,
And bade him be all whole; and forth she went
To January, when he for her sent.
Up rose Damian the nexte morrow,
All passed was his sickness and his sorrow.
He combed him, he proined <20> him and picked,
He did all that unto his lady liked;
And eke to January he went as low
As ever did a dogge for the bow.<21>
He is so pleasant unto every man
(For craft is all, whoso that do it can),
Every wight is fain to speak him good;
And fully in his lady's grace he stood.
Thus leave I Damian about his need,
And in my tale forth I will proceed.

Some clerke* holde that felicity *writers, scholars
Stands in delight; and therefore certain he,
This noble January, with all his might
In honest wise as longeth* to a knight, *belongeth
Shope* him to live full deliciously: *prepared, arranged
His housing, his array, as honestly* *honourably, suitably
To his degree was maked as a king's.
Amonges other of his honest things
He had a garden walled all with stone;
So fair a garden wot I nowhere none.
For out of doubt I verily suppose
That he that wrote the Romance of the Rose <22>
Could not of it the beauty well devise;* *describe
Nor Priapus <23> mighte not well suffice,
Though he be god of gardens, for to tell
The beauty of the garden, and the well* *fountain
That stood under a laurel always green.
Full often time he, Pluto, and his queen
Proserpina, and all their faerie,
Disported them and made melody
About that well, and danced, as men told.
This noble knight, this January old
Such dainty* had in it to walk and play, *pleasure
That he would suffer no wight to bear the key,
Save he himself, for of the small wicket
He bare always of silver a cliket,* *key
With which, when that him list, he it unshet.* *opened
And when that he would pay his wife's debt,
In summer season, thither would he go,
And May his wife, and no wight but they two;
And thinges which that were not done in bed,
He in the garden them perform'd and sped.
And in this wise many a merry day
Lived this January and fresh May,
But worldly joy may not always endure
To January, nor to no creatucere.

O sudden hap! O thou fortune unstable!
Like to the scorpion so deceivable,* *deceitful
That fhatt'rest with thy head when thou wilt sting;
Thy tail is death, through thine envenoming.
O brittle joy! O sweete poison quaint!* *strange
O monster, that so subtilly canst paint
Thy giftes, under hue of steadfastness,
That thou deceivest bothe *more and less!* *great and small*
Why hast thou January thus deceiv'd,
That haddest him for thy full friend receiv'd?
And now thou hast bereft him both his eyen,
For sorrow of which desireth he to dien.
Alas! this noble January free,
Amid his lust* and his prosperity *pleasure
Is waxen blind, and that all suddenly.
He weeped and he wailed piteously;
And therewithal the fire of jealousy
(Lest that his wife should fall in some folly)
So burnt his hearte, that he woulde fain,
That some man bothe him and her had slain;
For neither after his death, nor in his life,
Ne would he that she were no love nor wife,
But ever live as widow in clothes black,
Sole as the turtle that hath lost her make.* *mate
But at the last, after a month or tway,
His sorrow gan assuage, soothe to say.
For, when he wist it might none other be,
He patiently took his adversity:
Save out of doubte he may not foregon
That he was jealous evermore-in-one:* *continually
Which jealousy was so outrageous,
That neither in hall, nor in none other house,
Nor in none other place never the mo'
He woulde suffer her to ride or go,
*But if* that he had hand on her alway. *unless
For which full often wepte freshe May,
That loved Damian so burningly
That she must either dien suddenly,
Or elles she must have him as her lest:* *pleased
She waited* when her hearte woulde brest.** *expected **burst
Upon that other side Damian
Becomen is the sorrowfullest man
That ever was; for neither night nor day
He mighte speak a word to freshe May,
As to his purpose, of no such mattere,
*But if* that January must it hear, *unless*
That had a hand upon her evermo'.
But natheless, by writing to and fro,
And privy signes, wist he what she meant,
And she knew eke the fine* of his intent. *end, aim

O January, what might it thee avail,
Though thou might see as far as shippes sail?
For as good is it blind deceiv'd to be,
As be deceived when a man may see.
Lo, Argus, which that had a hundred eyen, <24>
For all that ever he could pore or pryen,
Yet was he blent;* and, God wot, so be mo', *deceived
That *weene wisly* that it be not so: *think confidently*
Pass over is an ease, I say no more.
This freshe May, of which I spake yore,* *previously
In warm wax hath *imprinted the cliket* *taken an impression
That January bare of the small wicket of the key*
By which into his garden oft he went;
And Damian, that knew all her intent,
The cliket counterfeited privily;
There is no more to say, but hastily
Some wonder by this cliket shall betide,
Which ye shall hearen, if ye will abide.

O noble Ovid, sooth say'st thou, God wot,
What sleight is it, if love be long and hot,
That he'll not find it out in some mannere?
By Pyramus and Thisbe may men lear;* *learn
Though they were kept full long and strait o'er all,
They be accorded,* rowning** through a wall, *agreed **whispering
Where no wight could have found out such a sleight.
But now to purpose; ere that dayes eight
Were passed of the month of July, fill* *it befell
That January caught so great a will,
Through egging* of his wife, him for to play *inciting
In his garden, and no wight but they tway,
That in a morning to this May said he: <25>
"Rise up, my wife, my love, my lady free;
The turtle's voice is heard, mine owen sweet;
The winter is gone, with all his raines weet.* *wet
Come forth now with thine *eyen columbine* *eyes like the doves*
Well fairer be thy breasts than any wine.
The garden is enclosed all about;
Come forth, my white spouse; for, out of doubt,
Thou hast me wounded in mine heart, O wife:
No spot in thee was e'er in all thy life.
Come forth, and let us taken our disport;
I choose thee for my wife and my comfort."
Such olde lewed* wordes used he. *foolish, ignorant
On Damian a signe made she,
That he should go before with his cliket.
This Damian then hath opened the wicket,
And in he start, and that in such mannere
That no wight might him either see or hear;
And still he sat under a bush. Anon
This January, as blind as is a stone,
With Maius in his hand, and no wight mo',
Into this freshe garden is y-go,
And clapped to the wicket suddenly.
"Now, wife," quoth he, "here is but thou and I;
Thou art the creature that I beste love:
For, by that Lord that sits in heav'n above,
Lever* I had to dien on a knife, *rather
Than thee offende, deare true wife.
For Godde's sake, think how I thee chees,* *chose
Not for no covetise* doubteless, * covetousness
But only for the love I had to thee.
And though that I be old, and may not see,
Be to me true, and I will tell you why.
Certes three thinges shall ye win thereby:
First, love of Christ, and to yourself honour,
And all mine heritage, town and tow'r.
I give it you, make charters as you lest;
This shall be done to-morrow ere sun rest,
So wisly* God my soule bring to bliss! *surely
I pray you, on this covenant me kiss.
And though that I be jealous, wite* me not; *blame
Ye be so deep imprinted in my thought,
That when that I consider your beauty,
And therewithal *th'unlikely eld* of me, *dissimilar age*
I may not, certes, though I shoulde die,
Forbear to be out of your company,
For very love; this is withoute doubt:
Now kiss me, wife, and let us roam about."

This freshe May, when she these wordes heard,
Benignely to January answer'd;
But first and forward she began to weep:
"I have," quoth she, "a soule for to keep
As well as ye, and also mine honour,
And of my wifehood thilke* tender flow'r *that same
Which that I have assured in your hond,
When that the priest to you my body bond:
Wherefore I will answer in this mannere,
With leave of you mine owen lord so dear.
I pray to God, that never dawn the day
That I *no sterve,* as foul as woman may, *do not die*
If e'er I do unto my kin that shame,
Or elles I impaire so my name,
That I bee false; and if I do that lack,
Do strippe me, and put me in a sack,
And in the nexte river do me drench:* *drown
I am a gentle woman, and no wench.
Why speak ye thus? but men be e'er untrue,
And women have reproof of you aye new.
Ye know none other dalliance, I believe,
But speak to us of untrust and repreve."* *reproof

And with that word she saw where Damian
Sat in the bush, and coughe she began;
And with her finger signe made she,
That Damian should climb upon a tree
That charged was with fruit; and up he went:
For verily he knew all her intent,
And every signe that she coulde make,
Better than January her own make.* *mate
For in a letter she had told him all
Of this matter, how that he worke shall.
And thus I leave him sitting in the perry,* *pear-tree
And January and May roaming full merry.

Bright was the day, and blue the firmament;
Phoebus of gold his streames down had sent
To gladden every flow'r with his warmness;
He was that time in Geminis, I guess,
But little from his declination
Of Cancer, Jove's exaltation.
And so befell, in that bright morning-tide,
That in the garden, on the farther side,
Pluto, that is the king of Faerie,
And many a lady in his company
Following his wife, the queen Proserpina, —
Which that he ravished out of Ethna,<26>
While that she gather'd flowers in the mead
(In Claudian ye may the story read,
How in his grisly chariot he her fet*), — *fetched
This king of Faerie adown him set
Upon a bank of turfes fresh and green,
And right anon thus said he to his queen.
"My wife," quoth he, "there may no wight say nay, —
Experience so proves it every day, —
The treason which that woman doth to man.
Ten hundred thousand stories tell I can
Notable of your untruth and brittleness * *inconstancy
O Solomon, richest of all richess,
Full fill'd of sapience and worldly glory,
Full worthy be thy wordes of memory
To every wight that wit and reason can. * *knows
Thus praised he yet the bounte* of man: *goodness
'Among a thousand men yet found I one,
But of all women found I never none.' <27>
Thus said this king, that knew your wickedness;
And Jesus, Filius Sirach, <28> as I guess,
He spake of you but seldom reverence.
A wilde fire and corrupt pestilence
So fall upon your bodies yet to-night!
Ne see ye not this honourable knight?
Because, alas! that he is blind and old,
His owen man shall make him cuckold.
Lo, where he sits, the lechour, in the tree.
Now will I granten, of my majesty,
Unto this olde blinde worthy knight,
That he shall have again his eyen sight,
When that his wife will do him villainy;
Then shall be knowen all her harlotry,
Both in reproof of her and other mo'."
"Yea, Sir," quoth Proserpine," and will ye so?
Now by my mother Ceres' soul I swear
That I shall give her suffisant answer,
And alle women after, for her sake;
That though they be in any guilt y-take,
With face bold they shall themselves excuse,
And bear them down that woulde them accuse.
For lack of answer, none of them shall dien.

All* had ye seen a thing with both your eyen, *although
Yet shall *we visage it* so hardily, *confront it*
And weep, and swear, and chide subtilly,
That ye shall be as lewed* as be geese. *ignorant, confounded
What recketh me of your authorities?
I wot well that this Jew, this Solomon,
Found of us women fooles many one:
But though that he founde no good woman,
Yet there hath found many another man
Women full good, and true, and virtuous;
Witness on them that dwelt in Christes house;
With martyrdom they proved their constance.
The Roman gestes <29> make remembrance
Of many a very true wife also.
But, Sire, be not wroth, albeit so,
Though that he said he found no good woman,
I pray you take the sentence* of the man: *opinion, real meaning
He meant thus, that in *sovereign bounte* *perfect goodness
Is none but God, no, neither *he nor she.* *man nor woman*
Hey, for the very God that is but one,
Why make ye so much of Solomon?
What though he made a temple, Godde's house?
What though he were rich and glorious?
So made he eke a temple of false goddes;
How might he do a thing that more forbode* is? *forbidden
Pardie, as fair as ye his name emplaster,* *plaster over, "whitewash"
He was a lechour, and an idolaster,* *idohater
And in his eld he very* God forsook. *the true
And if that God had not (as saith the book)
Spared him for his father's sake, he should
Have lost his regne* rather** than he would. *kingdom **sooner
I *sette not of* all the villainy *value not*
That he of women wrote, a butterfly.
I am a woman, needes must I speak,
Or elles swell until mine hearte break.
For since he said that we be jangleresses,* *chatterers
As ever may I brooke* whole my tresses, *preserve
I shall not spare for no courtesy
To speak him harm, that said us villainy."
"Dame," quoth this Pluto, "be no longer wroth;
I give it up: but, since I swore mine oath
That I would grant to him his sight again,
My word shall stand, that warn I you certain:
I am a king; it sits* me not to lie." *becomes, befits
"And I," quoth she, "am queen of Faerie.
Her answer she shall have, I undertake,
Let us no more wordes of it make.
Forsooth, I will no longer you contrary."

Now let us turn again to January,
That in the garden with his faire May
Singeth well merrier than the popinjay:* *parrot
"You love I best, and shall, and other none."
So long about the alleys is he gone,
Till he was come to *that ilke perry,* *the same pear-tree*
Where as this Damian satte full merry
On high, among the freshe leaves green.
This freshe May, that is so bright and sheen,
Gan for to sigh, and said, "Alas my side!
Now, Sir," quoth she, "for aught that may betide,
I must have of the peares that I see,
Or I must die, so sore longeth me
To eaten of the smalle peares green;
Help, for her love that is of heaven queen!
I tell you well, a woman in my plight <30>
May have to fruit so great an appetite,
That she may dien, but* she of it have. " *unless
"Alas!" quoth he, "that I had here a knave* *servant
That coulde climb; alas! alas!" quoth he,
"For I am blind." "Yea, Sir, *no force,"* quoth she; *no matter*
"But would ye vouchesafe, for Godde's sake,
The perry in your armes for to take
(For well I wot that ye mistruste me),
Then would I climbe well enough," quoth she,
"So I my foot might set upon your back."
"Certes," said he, "therein shall be no lack,
Might I you helpe with mine hearte's blood."
He stooped down, and on his back she stood,
And caught her by a twist,* and up she go'th. *twig, bough
(Ladies, I pray you that ye be not wroth,
I cannot glose,* I am a rude man): *mince matters
And suddenly anon this Damian
Gan pullen up the smock, and in he throng.* *rushed <31>
And when that Pluto saw this greate wrong,
To January he gave again his sight,
And made him see as well as ever he might.
And when he thus had caught his sight again,
Was never man of anything so fain:
But on his wife his thought was evermo'.
Up to the tree he cast his eyen two,
And saw how Damian his wife had dress'd,
In such mannere, it may not be express'd,
*But if* I woulde speak uncourteously. *unless*
And up he gave a roaring and a cry,
As doth the mother when the child shall die;
"Out! help! alas! harow!" he gan to cry;
"O stronge, lady, stowre! <32> what doest thou?"

And she answered: "Sir, what aileth you?
Have patience and reason in your mind,
I have you help'd on both your eyen blind.
On peril of my soul, I shall not lien,
As me was taught to helpe with your eyen,
Was nothing better for to make you see,
Than struggle with a man upon a tree:
God wot, I did it in full good intent."
"Struggle!" quoth he, "yea, algate* in it went. *whatever way
God give you both one shame's death to dien!
He swived* thee; I saw it with mine eyen; *enjoyed carnally
And elles be I hanged by the halse."* *neck
"Then is," quoth she, "my medicine all false;
For certainly, if that ye mighte see,
Ye would not say these wordes unto me.
Ye have some glimpsing,* and no perfect sight." *glimmering
"I see," quoth he, "as well as ever I might,
(Thanked be God!) with both mine eyen two,
And by my faith me thought he did thee so."
"Ye maze,* ye maze, goode Sir," quoth she; *rave, are confused
"This thank have I for I have made you see:
Alas!" quoth she, "that e'er I was so kind."
"Now, Dame," quoth he, "let all pass out of mind;
Come down, my lefe,* and if I have missaid, *love
God help me so, as I am *evil apaid.* *dissatisfied*
But, by my father's soul, I ween'd have seen
How that this Damian had by thee lain,
And that thy smock had lain upon his breast."
"Yea, Sir," quoth she, "ye may *ween as ye lest:* *think as you
But, Sir, a man that wakes out of his sleep, please*
He may not suddenly well take keep* *notice
Upon a thing, nor see it perfectly,
Till that he be adawed* verily. *awakened
Right so a man, that long hath blind y-be,
He may not suddenly so well y-see,
First when his sight is newe come again,
As he that hath a day or two y-seen.
Till that your sight establish'd be a while,
There may full many a sighte you beguile.
Beware, I pray you, for, by heaven's king,
Full many a man weeneth to see a thing,
And it is all another than it seemeth;
He which that misconceiveth oft misdeemeth."
And with that word she leapt down from the tree.
This January, who is glad but he?
He kissed her, and clipped* her full oft, *embraced
And on her womb he stroked her full soft;
And to his palace home he hath her lad.* *led
Now, goode men, I pray you to be glad.
Thus endeth here my tale of January,
God bless us, and his mother, Sainte Mary.

Notes to The Merchant's Tale

1. If, as is probable, this Tale was translated from the French, the original is not now extant. Tyrwhitt remarks that the scene "is laid in Italy, but none of the names, except Damian and Justin, seem to be Italian, but rather made at pleasure; so that I doubt whether the story be really of Italian growth. The adventure of the pear-tree I find in a small collection of Latin fables, written by one Adoiphus, in elegiac verses of his fashion, in the year 1315. . . . Whatever was the real origin of the Tale, the machinery of the fairies, which Chaucer has used so happily, was probably added by himself; and, indeed, I cannot help thinking that his Pluto and Proserpina were the true progenitors of Oberon and Titania; or rather, that they themselves have, once at least, deigned to revisit our poetical system under the latter names."

2. Seculeres: of the laity; but perhaps, since the word is of two- fold meaning, Chaucer intends a hit at the secular clergy, who, unlike the regular orders, did not live separate from the world, but shared in all its interests and pleasures — all the more easily and freely, that they had not the civil restraint of marriage.

3. This and the next eight lines are taken from the "Liber aureolus Theophrasti de nuptiis," ("Theophrastus's Golden Book of Marriage") quoted by Hieronymus, "Contra Jovinianum," ("Against Jovinian") and thence again by John of Salisbury.

4. Mebles: movables, furniture, &c.; French, "meubles."

5. "Wade's boat" was called Guingelot; and in it, according to the old romance, the owner underwent a long series of wild adventures, and performed many strange exploits. The romance is lost, and therefore the exact force of the phrase in the text is uncertain; but Mr Wright seems to be warranted in supposing that Wade's adventures were cited as examples of craft and cunning — that the hero, in fact, was a kind of Northern Ulysses, It is possible that to the same source we may trace the proverbial phrase, found in Chaucer's "Remedy of Love," to "bear Wattis pack" signifying to be duped or beguiled.

6. Stopen: advanced; past participle of "step." Elsewhere "y-stept in age" is used by Chaucer.

7. They did not need to go in quest of a wife for him, as they had promised.

8. Thilke tree: that tree of original sin, of which the special sins are the branches.

9. Skinked: poured out; from Anglo-Saxon, "scencan."

10. Marcianus Capella, who wrote a kind of philosophical romance, "De Nuptiis Mercurii et Philologiae" (Of the Marriage of Mercury and Philology) . "Her" and "him," two lines after, like "he" applied to Theodomas, are prefixed to the proper names for emphasis, according to the Anglo- Saxon usage.

11. Familiar: domestic; belonging to the "familia," or household.

12. Hewe: domestic servant; from Anglo-Saxon, "hiwa." Tyrwhitt reads "false of holy hue;" but Mr Wright has properly restored the reading adopted in the text.

13. Boren man: born; owing to January faith and loyalty because born in his household.

14. Hippocras: spiced wine. Clarre: also a kind of spiced wine. Vernage: a wine believed to have come from Crete, although its name — Italian, "Vernaccia" — seems to be derived from Verona.

15. Dan Constantine: a medical author who wrote about 1080; his works were printed at Basle in 1536.

16. Full of jargon as a flecked pie: he chattered like a magpie

17. Nearly all the manuscripts read "in two of Taure;" but Tyrwhitt has shown that, setting out from the second degree of Taurus, the moon, which in the four complete days that Maius spent in her chamber could not have advanced more than fifty- three degrees, would only have been at the twenty-fifth degree of Gemini — whereas, by reading "ten," she is brought to the third degree of Cancer.

18. Kid; or "kidde," past participle of "kythe" or "kithe," to show or discover.

19. Precious: precise, over-nice; French, "precieux," affected.

20. Proined: or "pruned;" carefully trimmed and dressed himself. The word is used in falconry of a hawk when she picks and trims her feathers.

21. A dogge for the bow: a dog attending a hunter with the bow.

22 The Romance of the Rose: a very popular mediaeval romance, the English version of which is partly by Chaucer. It opens with a description of a beautiful garden.

23. Priapus: Son of Bacchus and Venus: he was regarded as the promoter of fertility in all agricultural life, vegetable and animal; while not only gardens, but fields, flocks, bees — and even fisheries — were supposed to be under his protection.

24. Argus was employed by Juno to watch Io with his hundred eyes but he was sent to sleep by the flute of Mercury, who then cut off his head.

25. "My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone: The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of the birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land." — Song of Solomon, ii. 10-12.

26. "That fair field,
Of Enna, where Proserpine, gath'ring flowers,
Herself a fairer flow'r, by gloomy Dis
Was gather'd."
— Milton, Paradise Lost, iv. 268

27. "Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man amongst a thousand have I found, but a woman among all those I have not found. Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright." Ecclesiastes vii. 27-29.

28. Jesus, the son of Sirach, to whom is ascribed one of the books of the Apochrypha — that called the "Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus;" in which, especially in the ninth and twenty-fifth chapters, severe cautions are given against women.

29. Roman gestes: histories; such as those of Lucretia, Porcia, &c.

30. May means January to believe that she is pregnant, and that she has a craving for unripe pears.

31. At this point, and again some twenty lines below, several verses of a very coarse character had been inserted in later manuscripts; but they are evidently spurious, and are omitted in the best editions.

32. "Store" is the general reading here, but its meaning is not obvious. "Stowre" is found in several manuscripts; it signifies "struggle" or "resist;" and both for its own appropriateness, and for the force which it gives the word "stronge," the reading in the text seems the better.

 







THE SQUIRE'S TALE.


THE PROLOGUE.

"HEY! Godde's mercy!" said our Hoste tho,* *then
"Now such a wife I pray God keep me fro'.
Lo, suche sleightes and subtilities
In women be; for aye as busy as bees
Are they us silly men for to deceive,
And from the soothe* will they ever weive,** *truth **swerve, depart
As this Merchante's tale it proveth well.
But natheless, as true as any steel,
I have a wife, though that she poore be;
But of her tongue a labbing* shrew is she; *chattering
And yet* she hath a heap of vices mo'. *moreover
Thereof *no force;* let all such thinges go. *no matter*
But wit* ye what? in counsel** be it said, *know **secret, confidence
Me rueth sore I am unto her tied;
For, an'* I shoulde reckon every vice *if
Which that she hath, y-wis* I were too nice;** *certainly **foolish
And cause why, it should reported be
And told her by some of this company
(By whom, it needeth not for to declare,
Since women connen utter such chaffare <1>),
And eke my wit sufficeth not thereto
To tellen all; wherefore my tale is do.* *done
Squier, come near, if it your wille be,
And say somewhat of love, for certes ye
*Conne thereon* as much as any man." *know about it*
"Nay, Sir," quoth he; "but such thing as I can,
With hearty will, — for I will not rebel
Against your lust,* — a tale will I tell. *pleasure
Have me excused if I speak amiss;
My will is good; and lo, my tale is this."

Notes to the Prologue to the Squire's Tale

1. Women connen utter such chaffare: women are adepts at giving circulation to such wares. The Host evidently means that his wife would be sure to hear of his confessions from some female member of the company.






 

THE TALE.
<1>

*Pars Prima.* *First part*

At Sarra, in the land of Tartary,
There dwelt a king that warrayed* Russie, <2> *made war on
Through which there died many a doughty man;
This noble king was called Cambuscan,<3>
Which in his time was of so great renown,
That there was nowhere in no regioun
So excellent a lord in alle thing:
Him lacked nought that longeth to a king,
As of the sect of which that he was born.
He kept his law to which he was y-sworn,
And thereto* he was hardy, wise, and rich, *moreover, besides
And piteous and just, always y-lich;* *alike, even-tempered
True of his word, benign and honourable;
*Of his corage as any centre stable;* *firm, immovable of spirit*
Young, fresh, and strong, in armes desirous
As any bachelor of all his house.
A fair person he was, and fortunate,
And kept alway so well his royal estate,
That there was nowhere such another man.
This noble king, this Tartar Cambuscan,
Hadde two sons by Elfeta his wife,
Of which the eldest highte Algarsife,
The other was y-called Camballo.
A daughter had this worthy king also,
That youngest was, and highte Canace:
But for to telle you all her beauty,
It lies not in my tongue, nor my conning;* *skill
I dare not undertake so high a thing:
Mine English eke is insufficient,
It muste be a rhetor* excellent, *orator
*That couth his colours longing for that art,* * see <4>*
If he should her describen any part;
I am none such, I must speak as I can.

And so befell, that when this Cambuscan
Had twenty winters borne his diadem,
As he was wont from year to year, I deem,
He let *the feast of his nativity* *his birthday party*
*Do crye,* throughout Sarra his city, *be proclaimed*
The last Idus of March, after the year.
Phoebus the sun full jolly was and clear,
For he was nigh his exaltation
In Marte's face, and in his mansion <5>
In Aries, the choleric hot sign:
Full lusty* was the weather and benign; *pleasant
For which the fowls against the sunne sheen,* *bright
What for the season and the younge green,
Full loude sange their affections:
Them seemed to have got protections
Against the sword of winter keen and cold.
This Cambuscan, of which I have you told,
In royal vesture, sat upon his dais,
With diadem, full high in his palace;
And held his feast so solemn and so rich,
That in this worlde was there none it lich.* *like
Of which if I should tell all the array,
Then would it occupy a summer's day;
And eke it needeth not for to devise* *describe
At every course the order of service.
I will not tellen of their strange sewes,* *dishes <6>
Nor of their swannes, nor their heronsews.* *young herons <7>
Eke in that land, as telle knightes old,
There is some meat that is full dainty hold,
That in this land men *reck of* it full small: *care for*
There is no man that may reporten all.
I will not tarry you, for it is prime,
And for it is no fruit, but loss of time;
Unto my purpose* I will have recourse. *story <8>
And so befell that, after the third course,
While that this king sat thus in his nobley,* *noble array
Hearing his ministreles their thinges play
Before him at his board deliciously,
In at the halle door all suddenly
There came a knight upon a steed of brass,
And in his hand a broad mirror of glass;
Upon his thumb he had of gold a ring,
And by his side a naked sword hanging:
And up he rode unto the highe board.
In all the hall was there not spoke a word,
For marvel of this knight; him to behold
Full busily they waited,* young and old. *watched

This strange knight, that came thus suddenly,
All armed, save his head, full richely,
Saluted king, and queen, and lordes all,
By order as they satten in the hall,
With so high reverence and observance,
As well in speech as in his countenance,
That Gawain <9> with his olde courtesy,
Though he were come again out of Faerie,
Him *coulde not amende with a word.* *could not better him
And after this, before the highe board, by one word*
He with a manly voice said his message,
After the form used in his language,
Withoute vice* of syllable or letter. *fault
And, for his tale shoulde seem the better,
Accordant to his worde's was his cheer,* *demeanour
As teacheth art of speech them that it lear.* *learn
Albeit that I cannot sound his style,
Nor cannot climb over so high a stile,
Yet say I this, as to *commune intent,* *general sense or meaning*
*Thus much amounteth* all that ever he meant, *this is the sum of*
If it so be that I have it in mind.
He said; "The king of Araby and Ind,
My liege lord, on this solemne day
Saluteth you as he best can and may,
And sendeth you, in honour of your feast,
By me, that am all ready at your hest,* *command
This steed of brass, that easily and well
Can in the space of one day naturel
(This is to say, in four-and-twenty hours),
Whereso you list, in drought or else in show'rs,
Beare your body into every place
To which your hearte willeth for to pace,* *pass, go
Withoute wem* of you, through foul or fair. *hurt, injury
Or if you list to fly as high in air
As doth an eagle, when him list to soar,
This same steed shall bear you evermore
Withoute harm, till ye be where *you lest* *it pleases you*
(Though that ye sleepen on his back, or rest),
And turn again, with writhing* of a pin. *twisting
He that it wrought, he coude* many a gin;** *knew **contrivance <10>
He waited* in any a constellation, *observed
Ere he had done this operation,
And knew full many a seal <11> and many a bond
This mirror eke, that I have in mine hond,
Hath such a might, that men may in it see
When there shall fall any adversity
Unto your realm, or to yourself also,
And openly who is your friend or foe.
And over all this, if any lady bright
Hath set her heart on any manner wight,
If he be false, she shall his treason see,
His newe love, and all his subtlety,
So openly that there shall nothing hide.
Wherefore, against this lusty summer-tide,
This mirror, and this ring that ye may see,
He hath sent to my lady Canace,
Your excellente daughter that is here.
The virtue of this ring, if ye will hear,
Is this, that if her list it for to wear
Upon her thumb, or in her purse it bear,
There is no fowl that flyeth under heaven,
That she shall not well understand his steven,* *speech, sound
And know his meaning openly and plain,
And answer him in his language again:
And every grass that groweth upon root
She shall eke know, to whom it will do boot,* *remedy
All be his woundes ne'er so deep and wide.
This naked sword, that hangeth by my side,
Such virtue hath, that what man that it smite,
Throughout his armour it will carve and bite,
Were it as thick as is a branched oak:
And what man is y-wounded with the stroke
Shall ne'er be whole, till that you list, of grace,
To stroke him with the flat in thilke* place *the same
Where he is hurt; this is as much to sayn,
Ye muste with the flatte sword again
Stroke him upon the wound, and it will close.
This is the very sooth, withoute glose;* *deceit
It faileth not, while it is in your hold."

And when this knight had thus his tale told,
He rode out of the hall, and down he light.
His steede, which that shone as sunne bright,
Stood in the court as still as any stone.
The knight is to his chamber led anon,
And is unarmed, and to meat y-set.* *seated
These presents be full richely y-fet,* — *fetched
This is to say, the sword and the mirrour, —
And borne anon into the highe tow'r,
With certain officers ordain'd therefor;
And unto Canace the ring is bore
Solemnely, where she sat at the table;
But sickerly, withouten any fable,
The horse of brass, that may not be remued.* *removed <12>
It stood as it were to the ground y-glued;
There may no man out of the place it drive
For no engine of windlass or polive; * *pulley
And cause why, for they *can not the craft;* *know not the cunning
And therefore in the place they have it laft, of the mechanism*
Till that the knight hath taught them the mannere
To voide* him, as ye shall after hear. *remove

Great was the press, that swarmed to and fro
To gauren* on this horse that stoode so: *gaze
For it so high was, and so broad and long,
So well proportioned for to be strong,
Right as it were a steed of Lombardy;
Therewith so horsely, and so quick of eye,
As it a gentle Poileis <13> courser were:
For certes, from his tail unto his ear
Nature nor art ne could him not amend
In no degree, as all the people wend.* *weened, thought
But evermore their moste wonder was
How that it coulde go, and was of brass;
It was of Faerie, as the people seem'd.
Diverse folk diversely they deem'd;
As many heads, as many wittes been.
They murmured, as doth a swarm of been,* *bees
And made skills* after their fantasies, *reasons
Rehearsing of the olde poetries,
And said that it was like the Pegasee,* *Pegasus
The horse that hadde winges for to flee;* *fly
Or else it was the Greeke's horse Sinon,<14>
That broughte Troye to destruction,
As men may in the olde gestes* read. *tales of adventures
Mine heart," quoth one, "is evermore in dread;
I trow some men of armes be therein,
That shape* them this city for to win: *design, prepare
It were right good that all such thing were know."
Another rowned* to his fellow low, *whispered
And said, "He lies; for it is rather like
An apparence made by some magic,
As jugglers playen at these feastes great."
Of sundry doubts they jangle thus and treat.
As lewed* people deeme commonly *ignorant
Of thinges that be made more subtilly
Than they can in their lewdness comprehend;
They *deeme gladly to the badder end.* *are ready to think
And some of them wonder'd on the mirrour, the worst*
That borne was up into the master* tow'r, *chief <15>
How men might in it suche thinges see.
Another answer'd and said, it might well be
Naturally by compositions
Of angles, and of sly reflections;
And saide that in Rome was such a one.
They speak of Alhazen and Vitellon,<16>
And Aristotle, that wrote in their lives
Of quainte* mirrors, and of prospectives, *curious
As knowe they that have their bookes heard.
And other folk have wonder'd on the swerd,* *sword
That woulde pierce throughout every thing;
And fell in speech of Telephus the king,
And of Achilles for his quainte spear, <17>
For he could with it bothe heal and dere,* *wound
Right in such wise as men may with the swerd
Of which right now ye have yourselves heard.
They spake of sundry hard'ning of metal,
And spake of medicines therewithal,
And how, and when, it shoulde harden'd be,
Which is unknowen algate* unto me. *however
Then spake they of Canacee's ring,
And saiden all, that such a wondrous thing
Of craft of rings heard they never none,
Save that he, Moses, and King Solomon,
Hadden *a name of conning* in such art. *a reputation for
Thus said the people, and drew them apart. knowledge*
Put natheless some saide that it was
Wonder to maken of fern ashes glass,
And yet is glass nought like ashes of fern;
*But for* they have y-knowen it so ferne** *because **before <18>
Therefore ceaseth their jangling and their wonder.
As sore wonder some on cause of thunder,
On ebb and flood, on gossamer and mist,
And on all things, till that the cause is wist.* *known
Thus jangle they, and deemen and devise,
Till that the king gan from his board arise.

Phoebus had left the angle meridional,
And yet ascending was the beast royal,
The gentle Lion, with his Aldrian, <19>
When that this Tartar king, this Cambuscan,
Rose from the board, there as he sat full high
Before him went the loude minstrelsy,
Till he came to his chamber of parements,<20>
There as they sounded diverse instruments,
That it was like a heaven for to hear.
Now danced lusty Venus' children dear:
For in the Fish* their lady sat full *Pisces
And looked on them with a friendly eye. <21>
This noble king is set upon his throne;
This strange knight is fetched to him full sone,* *soon
And on the dance he goes with Canace.
Here is the revel and the jollity,
That is not able a dull man to devise:* *describe
He must have knowen love and his service,
And been a feastly* man, as fresh as May, *merry, gay
That shoulde you devise such array.
Who coulde telle you the form of dances
So uncouth,* and so freshe countenances** *unfamliar **gestures
Such subtle lookings and dissimulances,
For dread of jealous men's apperceivings?
No man but Launcelot,<22> and he is dead.
Therefore I pass o'er all this lustihead* *pleasantness
I say no more, but in this jolliness
I leave them, till to supper men them dress.
The steward bids the spices for to hie* *haste
And eke the wine, in all this melody;
The ushers and the squiers be y-gone,
The spices and the wine is come anon;
They eat and drink, and when this hath an end,
Unto the temple, as reason was, they wend;
The service done, they suppen all by day
What needeth you rehearse their array?
Each man wot well, that at a kinge's feast
Is plenty, to the most*, and to the least, *highest
And dainties more than be in my knowing.

At after supper went this noble king
To see the horse of brass, with all a rout
Of lordes and of ladies him about.
Such wond'ring was there on this horse of brass,
That, since the great siege of Troye was,
There as men wonder'd on a horse also,
Ne'er was there such a wond'ring as was tho.* *there
But finally the king asked the knight
The virtue of this courser, and the might,
And prayed him to tell his governance.* *mode of managing him
The horse anon began to trip and dance,
When that the knight laid hand upon his rein,
And saide, "Sir, there is no more to sayn,
But when you list to riden anywhere,
Ye muste trill* a pin, stands in his ear, *turn <23>
Which I shall telle you betwixt us two;
Ye muste name him to what place also,
Or to what country that you list to ride.
And when ye come where you list abide,
Bid him descend, and trill another pin
(For therein lies th' effect of all the gin*), *contrivance <10>
And he will down descend and do your will,
And in that place he will abide still;
Though all the world had the contrary swore,
He shall not thence be throwen nor be bore.
Or, if you list to bid him thennes gon,
Trill this pin, and he will vanish anon
Out of the sight of every manner wight,
And come again, be it by day or night,
When that you list to clepe* him again *call
In such a guise, as I shall to you sayn
Betwixte you and me, and that full soon.
Ride <24> when you list, there is no more to do'n.'
Informed when the king was of the knight,
And had conceived in his wit aright
The manner and the form of all this thing,
Full glad and blithe, this noble doughty king
Repaired to his revel as beforn.
The bridle is into the tower borne,
And kept among his jewels lefe* and dear; *cherished
The horse vanish'd, I n'ot* in what mannere, *know not
Out of their sight; ye get no more of me:
But thus I leave in lust and jollity
This Cambuscan his lordes feastying,* *entertaining <25>
Until well nigh the day began to spring.

*Pars Secunda.* *Second Part*

The norice* of digestion, the sleep, *nurse
Gan on them wink, and bade them take keep,* *heed
That muche mirth and labour will have rest.
And with a gaping* mouth he all them kest,** *yawning **kissed
And said, that it was time to lie down,
For blood was in his dominatioun: <26>
"Cherish the blood, nature's friend," quoth he.
They thanked him gaping, by two and three;
And every wight gan draw him to his rest;
As sleep them bade, they took it for the best.
Their dreames shall not now be told for me;
Full are their heades of fumosity,<27>
That caused dreams *of which there is no charge:* *of no significance*
They slepte; till that, it was *prime large,* *late morning*
The moste part, but* it was Canace; *except
She was full measurable,* as women be: *moderate
For of her father had she ta'en her leave
To go to rest, soon after it was eve;
Her liste not appalled* for to be; *to look pale
Nor on the morrow *unfeastly for to see;* *to look sad, depressed*
And slept her firste sleep; and then awoke.
For such a joy she in her hearte took
Both of her quainte a ring and her mirrour,.
That twenty times she changed her colour;
And in her sleep, right for th' impression
Of her mirror, she had a vision.
Wherefore, ere that the sunne gan up glide,
She call'd upon her mistress'* her beside, *governesses
And saide, that her liste for to rise.

These olde women, that be gladly wise
As are her mistresses answer'd anon,
And said; "Madame, whither will ye gon
Thus early? for the folk be all in rest."
"I will," quoth she, "arise; for me lest
No longer for to sleep, and walk about."
Her mistresses call'd women a great rout,
And up they rose, well a ten or twelve;
Up rose freshe Canace herselve,
As ruddy and bright as is the yonnge sun
That in the Ram is four degrees y-run;
No higher was he, when she ready was;
And forth she walked easily a pace,
Array'd after the lusty* season swoot,** *pleasant **sweet
Lightely for to play, and walk on foot,
Nought but with five or six of her meinie;
And in a trench* forth in the park went she. *sunken path
The vapour, which up from the earthe glode,* *glided
Made the sun to seem ruddy and broad:
But, natheless, it was so fair a sight
That it made all their heartes for to light,* *be lightened, glad
What for the season and the morrowning,
And for the fowles that she hearde sing.
For right anon she wiste* what they meant *knew
Right by their song, and knew all their intent.
The knotte,* why that every tale is told, *nucleus, chief matter
If it be tarried* till the list* be cold *delayed **inclination
Of them that have it hearken'd *after yore,* *for a long time*
The savour passeth ever longer more;
For fulsomness of the prolixity:
And by that same reason thinketh me.
I shoulde unto the knotte condescend,
And maken of her walking soon an end.

Amid a tree fordry*, as white as chalk, *thoroughly dried up
There sat a falcon o'er her head full high,
That with a piteous voice so gan to cry;
That all the wood resounded of her cry,
And beat she had herself so piteously
With both her winges, till the redde blood
Ran endelong* the tree, there as she stood *from top to bottom
And ever-in-one* alway she cried and shright;** *incessantly **shrieked
And with her beak herselfe she so pight,* *wounded
That there is no tiger, nor cruel beast,
That dwelleth either in wood or in forest;
But would have wept, if that he weepe could,
For sorrow of her; she shriek'd alway so loud.
For there was never yet no man alive,
If that he could a falcon well descrive;* *describe
That heard of such another of fairness
As well of plumage, as of gentleness;
Of shape, of all that mighte reckon'd be.
A falcon peregrine seemed she,
Of fremde* land; and ever as she stood *foreign <28>
She swooned now and now for lack of blood;
Till well-nigh is she fallen from the tree.

This faire kinge's daughter Canace,
That on her finger bare the quainte ring,
Through which she understood well every thing
That any fowl may in his leden* sayn, **language <29>
And could him answer in his leden again;
Hath understoode what this falcon said,
And well-nigh for the ruth* almost she died;. *pity
And to the tree she went, full hastily,
And on this falcon looked piteously;
And held her lap abroad; for well she wist
The falcon muste falle from the twist* *twig, bough
When that she swooned next, for lack of blood.
A longe while to waite her she stood;
Till at the last she apake in this mannere
Unto the hawk, as ye shall after hear:
"What is the cause, if it be for to tell,
That ye be in this furial* pain of hell?" *raging, furious
Quoth Canace unto this hawk above;
"Is this for sorrow of of death; or loss of love?
For; as I trow,* these be the causes two; *believe
That cause most a gentle hearte woe:
Of other harm it needeth not to speak.
For ye yourself upon yourself awreak;* *inflict
Which proveth well, that either ire or dread* *fear
Must be occasion of your cruel deed,
Since that I see none other wight you chase:
For love of God, as *do yourselfe grace;* *have mercy on
Or what may be your help? for, west nor east, yourself*
I never saw ere now no bird nor beast
That fared with himself so piteously
Ye slay me with your sorrow verily;
I have of you so great compassioun.
For Godde's love come from the tree adown
And, as I am a kinge's daughter true,
If that I verily the causes knew
Of your disease,* if it lay in my might, *distress
I would amend it, ere that it were night,
So wisly help me the great God of kind.** *surely **nature
And herbes shall I right enoughe find,
To heale with your hurtes hastily."
Then shriek'd this falcon yet more piteously
Than ever she did, and fell to ground anon,
And lay aswoon, as dead as lies a stone,
Till Canace had in her lap her take,
Unto that time she gan of swoon awake:
And, after that she out of swoon abraid,* *awoke
Right in her hawke's leden thus she said:

"That pity runneth soon in gentle heart
(Feeling his simil'tude in paines smart),
Is proved every day, as men may see,
As well *by work as by authority;* *by experience as by doctrine*
For gentle hearte kitheth* gentleness. *sheweth
I see well, that ye have on my distress
Compassion, my faire Canace,
Of very womanly benignity
That nature in your princples hath set.
But for no hope for to fare the bet,* *better
But for t' obey unto your hearte free,
And for to make others aware by me,
As by the whelp chastis'd* is the lion, *instructed, corrected
Right for that cause and that conclusion,
While that I have a leisure and a space,
Mine harm I will confessen ere I pace."* *depart
And ever while the one her sorrow told,
The other wept, *as she to water wo'ld,* *as if she would dissolve
Till that the falcon bade her to be still, into water*
And with a sigh right thus she said *her till:* *to her*
"Where I was bred (alas that ilke* day!) *same
And foster'd in a rock of marble gray
So tenderly, that nothing ailed me,
I wiste* not what was adversity, *knew
Till I could flee* full high under the sky. *fly
Then dwell'd a tercelet <30> me faste by,
That seem'd a well of alle gentleness;
*All were he* full of treason and falseness, *although he was*
It was so wrapped *under humble cheer,* *under an aspect
And under hue of truth, in such mannere, of humility*
Under pleasance, and under busy pain,
That no wight weened that he coulde feign,
So deep in grain he dyed his colours.
Right as a serpent hides him under flow'rs,
Till he may see his time for to bite,
Right so this god of love's hypocrite
Did so his ceremonies and obeisances,
And kept in semblance all his observances,
That *sounden unto* gentleness of love. *are consonant to*
As on a tomb is all the fair above,
And under is the corpse, which that ye wet,
Such was this hypocrite, both cold and hot;
And in this wise he served his intent,
That, save the fiend, none wiste what he meant:
Till he so long had weeped and complain'd,
And many a year his service to me feign'd,
Till that mine heart, too piteous and too nice,* *foolish, simple
All innocent of his crowned malice,
*Forfeared of his death,* as thoughte me, *greatly afraid lest
Upon his oathes and his surety he should die*
Granted him love, on this conditioun,
That evermore mine honour and renown
Were saved, bothe *privy and apert;* *privately and in public*
This is to say, that, after his desert,
I gave him all my heart and all my thought
(God wot, and he, that *other wayes nought*), *in no other way*
And took his heart in change of mine for aye.
But sooth is said, gone since many a day,
A true wight and a thiefe *think not one.* *do not think alike*
And when he saw the thing so far y-gone,
That I had granted him fully my love,
In such a wise as I have said above,
And given him my true heart as free
As he swore that he gave his heart to me,
Anon this tiger, full of doubleness,
Fell on his knees with so great humbleness,
With so high reverence, as by his cheer,* *mien
So like a gentle lover in mannere,
So ravish'd, as it seemed, for the joy,
That never Jason, nor Paris of Troy, —
Jason? certes, nor ever other man,
Since Lamech <31> was, that alderfirst* began *first of all
To love two, as write folk beforn,
Nor ever since the firste man was born,
Coulde no man, by twenty thousand
Counterfeit the sophimes* of his art; *sophistries, beguilements
Where doubleness of feigning should approach,
Nor worthy were t'unbuckle his galoche,* *shoe <32>
Nor could so thank a wight, as he did me.
His manner was a heaven for to see
To any woman, were she ne'er so wise;
So painted he and kempt,* *at point devise,* *combed, studied
As well his wordes as his countenance. *with perfect precision*
And I so lov'd him for his obeisance,
And for the truth I deemed in his heart,
That, if so were that any thing him smart,* *pained
All were it ne'er so lite,* and I it wist, *little
Methought I felt death at my hearte twist.
And shortly, so farforth this thing is went,* *gone
That my will was his wille's instrument;
That is to say, my will obey'd his will
In alle thing, as far as reason fill,* *fell; allowed
Keeping the boundes of my worship ever;
And never had I thing *so lefe, or lever,* *so dear, or dearer*
As him, God wot, nor never shall no mo'.

"This lasted longer than a year or two,
That I supposed of him naught but good.
But finally, thus at the last it stood,
That fortune woulde that he muste twin* *depart, separate
Out of that place which that I was in.
Whe'er* me was woe, it is no question; *whether
I cannot make of it description.
For one thing dare I telle boldely,
I know what is the pain of death thereby;
Such harm I felt, for he might not byleve.* *stay <33>
So on a day of me he took his leave,
So sorrowful eke, that I ween'd verily,
That he had felt as muche harm as I,
When that I heard him speak, and saw his hue.
But natheless, I thought he was so true,
And eke that he repaire should again
Within a little while, sooth to sayn,
And reason would eke that he muste go
For his honour, as often happ'neth so,
That I made virtue of necessity,
And took it well, since that it muste be.
As I best might, I hid from him my sorrow,
And took him by the hand, Saint John to borrow,* *witness, pledge
And said him thus; 'Lo, I am youres all;
Be such as I have been to you, and shall.'
What he answer'd, it needs not to rehearse;
Who can say bet* than he, who can do worse? *better
When he had all well said, then had he done.
Therefore behoveth him a full long spoon,
That shall eat with a fiend; thus heard I say.
So at the last he muste forth his way,
And forth he flew, till he came where him lest.
When it came him to purpose for to rest,
I trow that he had thilke text in mind,
That alle thing repairing to his kind
Gladdeth himself; <34> thus say men, as I guess;
*Men love of [proper] kind newfangleness,* *see note <35>*
As birdes do, that men in cages feed.
For though thou night and day take of them heed,
And strew their cage fair and soft as silk,
And give them sugar, honey, bread, and milk,
Yet, *right anon as that his door is up,* *immediately on his
He with his feet will spurne down his cup, door being opened*
And to the wood he will, and wormes eat;
So newefangle be they of their meat,
And love novelties, of proper kind;
No gentleness of bloode may them bind.
So far'd this tercelet, alas the day!
Though he were gentle born, and fresh, and gay,
And goodly for to see, and humble, and free,
He saw upon a time a kite flee,* *fly
And suddenly he loved this kite so,
That all his love is clean from me y-go:
And hath his trothe falsed in this wise.
Thus hath the kite my love in her service,
And I am lorn* withoute remedy." *lost, undone

And with that word this falcon gan to cry,
And swooned eft* in Canacee's barme** *again **lap
Great was the sorrow, for that hawke's harm,
That Canace and all her women made;
They wist not how they might the falcon glade.* *gladden
But Canace home bare her in her lap,
And softely in plasters gan her wrap,
There as she with her beak had hurt herselve.
Now cannot Canace but herbes delve
Out of the ground, and make salves new
Of herbes precious and fine of hue,
To heale with this hawk; from day to night
She did her business, and all her might.
And by her bedde's head she made a mew,* *bird cage
And cover'd it with velouettes* blue,<36> *velvets
In sign of truth that is in woman seen;
And all without the mew is painted green,
In which were painted all these false fowls,
As be these tidifes,* tercelets, and owls; *titmice
And pies, on them for to cry and chide,
Right for despite were painted them beside.

Thus leave I Canace her hawk keeping.
I will no more as now speak of her ring,
Till it come eft* to purpose for to sayn *again
How that this falcon got her love again
Repentant, as the story telleth us,
By mediation of Camballus,
The kinge's son of which that I you told.
But henceforth I will my process hold
To speak of aventures, and of battailes,
That yet was never heard so great marvailles.
First I will telle you of Cambuscan,
That in his time many a city wan;
And after will I speak of Algarsife,
How he won Theodora to his wife,
For whom full oft in great peril he was,
*N'had he* been holpen by the horse of brass. *had he not*
And after will I speak of Camballo, <37>
That fought in listes with the brethren two
For Canace, ere that he might her win;
And where I left I will again begin.
. . . . <38>

Notes to the Squire's Tale

1. The Squire's Tale has not been found under any other form among the literary remains of the Middle Ages; and it is unknown from what original it was derived, if from any. The Tale is unfinished, not because the conclusion has been lost, but because the author left it so.

2. The Russians and Tartars waged constant hostilities between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries.

3. In the best manuscripts the name is "Cambynskan," and thus, no doubt, it should strictly be read. But it is a most pardonable offence against literal accuracy to use the word which Milton has made classical, in "Il Penseroso," speaking of

"him that left half-told
The story of Cambuscan bold,
Of Camball, and of Algarsife,
And who had Canace to wife,
That owned the virtuous Ring and Glass,
And of the wondrous Horse of Brass,
On which the Tartar King did ride"

Surely the admiration of Milton might well seem to the spirit of Chaucer to condone a much greater transgression on his domain than this verbal change — which to both eye and ear is an unquestionable improvement on the uncouth original.

4. Couth his colours longing for that art: well skilled in using the colours — the word-painting — belonging to his art.

5. Aries was the mansion of Mars — to whom "his" applies. Leo was the mansion of the Sun.

6. Sewes: Dishes, or soups. The precise force of the word is uncertain; but it may be connected with "seethe," to boil, and it seems to describe a dish in which the flesh was served up amid a kind of broth or gravy. The "sewer," taster or assayer of the viands served at great tables, probably derived his name from the verb to "say" or "assay;" though Tyrwhitt would connect the two words, by taking both from the French, "asseoir," to place — making the arrangement of the table the leading duty of the "sewer," rather than the testing of the food.

7. Heronsews: young herons; French, "heronneaux."

8. Purpose: story, discourse; French, "propos."

9. Gawain was celebrated in mediaeval romance as the most courteous among King Arthur's knights.

10. Gin: contrivance; trick; snare. Compare Italian, "inganno," deception; and our own "engine."

11. Mr Wright remarks that "the making and arrangement of seals was one of the important operations of mediaeval magic."

12. Remued: removed; French, "remuer," to stir.

13. Polies: Apulian. The horses of Apulia — in old French "Poille," in Italian "Puglia" — were held in high value.

14. The Greeke's horse Sinon: the wooden horse of the Greek Sinon, introduced into Troy by the stratagem of its maker.

15. Master tower: chief tower; as, in the Knight's Tale, the principal street is called the "master street." See note 86 to the Knight's Tale.

16. Alhazen and Vitellon: two writers on optics — the first supposed to have lived about 1100, the other about 1270. Tyrwhitt says that their works were printed at Basle in 1572, under the title "Alhazeni et Vitellonis Opticae."

17. Telephus, a son of Hercules, reigned over Mysia when the Greeks came to besiege Troy, and he sought to prevent their landing. But, by the art of Dionysus, he was made to stumble over a vine, and Achilles wounded him with his spear. The oracle informed Telephus that the hurt could be healed only by him, or by the weapon, that inflicted it; and the king, seeking the Grecian camp, was healed by Achilles with the rust of the charmed spear.

18. Ferne: before; a corruption of "forne," from Anglo-Saxon, "foran."

19. Aldrian: or Aldebaran; a star in the neck of the constellation Leo.

20. Chamber of parements: Presence-chamber, or chamber of state, full of splendid furniture and ornaments. The same expression is used in French and Italian.

21. In Pisces, Venus was said to be at her exaltation or greatest power. A planet, according to the old astrologers, was in "exaltation" when in the sign of the Zodiac in which it exerted its strongest influence; the opposite sign, in which it was weakest, was called its "dejection."

22. Launcelot: Arthur's famous knight, so accomplished and courtly, that he was held the very pink of chivalry.

23. Trill: turn; akin to "thirl", "drill."

24. Ride: another reading is "bide," alight or remain.

25. Feastying: entertaining; French, "festoyer," to feast.

26. The old physicians held that blood dominated in the human body late at night and in the early morning. Galen says that the domination lasts for seven hours.

27. Fumosity: fumes of wine rising from the stomach to the head.

28. Fremde: foreign, strange; German, "fremd" in the northern dialects, "frem," or "fremmed," is used in the same sense.

29. Leden: Language, dialect; from Anglo-Saxon, "leden" or "laeden," a corruption from "Latin."

30. Tercelet: the "tassel," or male of any species of hawk; so called, according to Cotgrave, because he is one third ("tiers") smaller than the female.

31. "And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one Adah, and the name of the other Zillah" (Gen. iv. 19).

32. Galoche: shoe; it seems to have been used in France, of a "sabot," or wooden shoe. The reader cannot fail to recall the same illustration in John i. 27, where the Baptist says of Christ: "He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me; whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose."

33. Byleve; stay; another form is "bleve;" from Anglo-Saxon, "belitan," to remain. Compare German, "bleiben."

34. This sentiment, as well as the illustration of the bird which follows, is taken from the third book of Boethius, "De Consolatione Philosophiae," metrum 2. It has thus been rendered in Chaucer's translation: "All things seek aye to their proper course, and all things rejoice on their returning again to their nature."

35. Men love of proper kind newfangleness: Men, by their own — their very — nature, are fond of novelty, and prone to inconstancy.

36. Blue was the colour of truth, as green was that of inconstancy. In John Stowe's additions to Chaucer's works, printed in 1561, there is "A balade whiche Chaucer made against women inconstaunt," of which the refrain is, "In stead of blue, thus may ye wear all green."

37. Unless we suppose this to be a namesake of the Camballo who was Canace's brother — which is not at all probable — we must agree with Tyrwhitt that there is a mistake here; which no doubt Chaucer would have rectified, if the tale had not been "left half-told," One manuscript reads "Caballo;" and though not much authority need be given to a difference that may be due to mere omission of the mark of contraction over the "a," there is enough in the text to show that another person than the king's younger son is intended. The Squire promises to tell the adventures that befell each member of Cambuscan's family; and in thorough consistency with this plan, and with the canons of chivalric story, would be "the marriage of Canace to some knight who was first obliged to fight for her with her two brethren; a method of courtship," adds Tyrwhitt, "very consonant to the spirit of ancient chivalry."

38. (Trancriber's note) In some manuscripts the following two lines, being the beginning of the third part, are found: -

Apollo whirleth up his chair so high,
Till that Mercurius' house, the sly…

 







THE FRANKLIN'S TALE.



THE PROLOGUE.
<1>

"IN faith, Squier, thou hast thee well acquit,
And gentilly; I praise well thy wit,"
Quoth the Franklin; "considering thy youthe
So feelingly thou speak'st, Sir, I aloue* thee, *allow, approve
*As to my doom,* there is none that is here *so far as my judgment
Of eloquence that shall be thy peer, goes*
If that thou live; God give thee goode chance,
And in virtue send thee continuance,
For of thy speaking I have great dainty.* *value, esteem
I have a son, and, by the Trinity;
*It were me lever* than twenty pound worth land, *I would rather*
Though it right now were fallen in my hand,
He were a man of such discretion
As that ye be: fy on possession,
*But if* a man be virtuous withal. *unless
I have my sone snibbed* and yet shall, *rebuked; "snubbed."
For he to virtue *listeth not t'intend,* *does not wish to
But for to play at dice, and to dispend, apply himself*
And lose all that he hath, is his usage;
And he had lever talke with a page,
Than to commune with any gentle wight,
There he might learen gentilless aright."

Straw for your gentillesse!" quoth our Host.
"What? Frankelin, pardie, Sir, well thou wost* *knowest
That each of you must tellen at the least
A tale or two, or breake his behest."* *promise
"That know I well, Sir," quoth the Frankelin;
"I pray you have me not in disdain,
Though I to this man speak a word or two."
"Tell on thy tale, withoute wordes mo'."
"Gladly, Sir Host," quoth he, "I will obey
Unto your will; now hearken what I say;
I will you not contrary* in no wise, *disobey
As far as that my wittes may suffice.
I pray to God that it may please you,
Then wot I well that it is good enow.

"These olde gentle Bretons, in their days,
Of divers aventures made lays,<2>
Rhymeden in their firste Breton tongue;
Which layes with their instruments they sung,
Or elles reade them for their pleasance;
And one of them have I in remembrance,
Which I shall say with good will as I can.
But, Sirs, because I am a borel* man, *rude, unlearned
At my beginning first I you beseech
Have me excused of my rude speech.
I learned never rhetoric, certain;
Thing that I speak, it must be bare and plain.
I slept never on the mount of Parnasso,
Nor learned Marcus Tullius Cicero.
Coloures know I none, withoute dread,* *doubt
But such colours as growen in the mead,
Or elles such as men dye with or paint;
Colours of rhetoric be to me quaint;* *strange
My spirit feeleth not of such mattere.
But, if you list, my tale shall ye hear."

Notes to the Prologue to the Franklin's Tale

1. In the older editions, the verses here given as the prologue were prefixed to the Merchant's Tale, and put into his mouth. Tyrwhitt was abundantly justified, by the internal evidence afforded by the lines themselves, in transferring them to their present place.

2. The "Breton Lays" were an important and curious element in the literature of the Middle Ages; they were originally composed in the Armorican language, and the chief collection of them extant was translated into French verse by a poetess calling herself "Marie," about the middle of the thirteenth century. But though this collection was the most famous, and had doubtless been read by Chaucer, there were other British or Breton lays, and from one of those the Franklin's Tale is taken. Boccaccio has dealt with the same story in the "Decameron" and the "Philocopo," altering the circumstances to suit the removal of its scene to a southern clime.






 

THE TALE.

In Armoric', that called is Bretagne,
There was a knight, that lov'd and *did his pain* *devoted himself,
To serve a lady in his beste wise; strove*
And many a labour, many a great emprise,* *enterprise
He for his lady wrought, ere she were won:
For she was one the fairest under sun,
And eke thereto come of so high kindred,
That *well unnethes durst this knight for dread,* *see note <1>*
Tell her his woe, his pain, and his distress
But, at the last, she for his worthiness,
And namely* for his meek obeisance, *especially
Hath such a pity caught of his penance,* *suffering, distress
That privily she fell of his accord
To take him for her husband and her lord
(Of such lordship as men have o'er their wives);
And, for to lead the more in bliss their lives,
Of his free will he swore her as a knight,
That never in all his life he day nor night
Should take upon himself no mastery
Against her will, nor kithe* her jealousy, *show
But her obey, and follow her will in all,
As any lover to his lady shall;
Save that the name of sovereignety
That would he have, for shame of his degree.
She thanked him, and with full great humbless
She saide; "Sir, since of your gentleness
Ye proffer me to have so large a reign,
*Ne woulde God never betwixt us twain,
As in my guilt, were either war or strife:* *see note <2>*
Sir, I will be your humble true wife,
Have here my troth, till that my hearte brest."* *burst
Thus be they both in quiet and in rest.

For one thing, Sires, safely dare I say,
That friends ever each other must obey,
If they will longe hold in company.
Love will not be constrain'd by mastery.
When mast'ry comes, the god of love anon
Beateth <3> his wings, and, farewell, he is gone.
Love is a thing as any spirit free.
Women *of kind* desire liberty, *by nature*
And not to be constrained as a thrall,* *slave
And so do men, if soothly I say shall.
Look who that is most patient in love,
He *is at his advantage all above.* *enjoys the highest
Patience is a high virtue certain, advantages of all*
For it vanquisheth, as these clerkes sayn,
Thinges that rigour never should attain.
For every word men may not chide or plain.
Learne to suffer, or, so may I go,* *prosper
Ye shall it learn whether ye will or no.
For in this world certain no wight there is,
That he not doth or saith sometimes amiss.
Ire, or sickness, or constellation,* *the influence of
Wine, woe, or changing of complexion, the planets*
Causeth full oft to do amiss or speaken:
On every wrong a man may not be wreaken.* *revenged
After* the time must be temperance *according to
To every wight that *can of* governance. *is capable of*
And therefore hath this worthy wise knight
(To live in ease) sufferance her behight;* *promised
And she to him full wisly* gan to swear *surely
That never should there be default in her.
Here may men see a humble wife accord;
Thus hath she ta'en her servant and her lord,
Servant in love, and lord in marriage.
Then was he both in lordship and servage?
Servage? nay, but in lordship all above,
Since he had both his lady and his love:
His lady certes, and his wife also,
The which that law of love accordeth to.
And when he was in this prosperrity,
Home with his wife he went to his country,
Not far from Penmark,<4> where his dwelling was,
And there he liv'd in bliss and in solace.* *delight
Who coulde tell, but* he had wedded be, *unless
The joy, the ease, and the prosperity,
That is betwixt a husband and his wife?
A year and more lasted this blissful life,
Till that this knight, of whom I spake thus,
That of Cairrud <5> was call'd Arviragus,
Shope* him to go and dwell a year or twain *prepared, arranged
In Engleland, that call'd was eke Britain,
To seek in armes worship and honour
(For all his lust* he set in such labour); *pleasure
And dwelled there two years; the book saith thus.

Now will I stint* of this Arviragus, *cease speaking
And speak I will of Dorigen his wife,
That lov'd her husband as her hearte's life.
For his absence weepeth she and siketh,* *sigheth
As do these noble wives when them liketh;
She mourneth, waketh, waileth, fasteth, plaineth;
Desire of his presence her so distraineth,
That all this wide world she set at nought.
Her friendes, which that knew her heavy thought,
Comforte her in all that ever they may;
They preache her, they tell her night and day,
That causeless she slays herself, alas!
And every comfort possible in this case
They do to her, with all their business,* *assiduity
And all to make her leave her heaviness.
By process, as ye knowen every one,
Men may so longe graven in a stone,
Till some figure therein imprinted be:
So long have they comforted her, till she
Received hath, by hope and by reason,
Th' imprinting of their consolation,
Through which her greate sorrow gan assuage;
She may not always duren in such rage.
And eke Arviragus, in all this care,
Hath sent his letters home of his welfare,
And that he will come hastily again,
Or elles had this sorrow her hearty-slain.
Her friendes saw her sorrow gin to slake,* *slacken, diminish
And prayed her on knees for Godde's sake
To come and roamen in their company,
Away to drive her darke fantasy;
And finally she granted that request,
For well she saw that it was for the best.

Now stood her castle faste by the sea,
And often with her friendes walked she,
Her to disport upon the bank on high,
There as many a ship and barge sigh,* *saw
Sailing their courses, where them list to go.
But then was that a parcel* of her woe, *part
For to herself full oft, "Alas!" said she,
Is there no ship, of so many as I see,
Will bringe home my lord? then were my heart
All warish'd* of this bitter paine's smart." *cured <6>
Another time would she sit and think,
And cast her eyen downward from the brink;
But when she saw the grisly rockes blake,* *black
For very fear so would her hearte quake,
That on her feet she might her not sustene* *sustain
Then would she sit adown upon the green,
And piteously *into the sea behold,* *look out on the sea*
And say right thus, with *careful sikes* cold: *painful sighs*
"Eternal God! that through thy purveyance
Leadest this world by certain governance,
*In idle,* as men say, ye nothing make; *idly, in vain*
But, Lord, these grisly fiendly rockes blake,
That seem rather a foul confusion
Of work, than any fair creation
Of such a perfect wise God and stable,
Why have ye wrought this work unreasonable?
For by this work, north, south, or west, or east,
There is not foster'd man, nor bird, nor beast:
It doth no good, to my wit, but *annoyeth.* *works mischief* <7>
See ye not, Lord, how mankind it destroyeth?
A hundred thousand bodies of mankind
Have rockes slain, *all be they not in mind;* *though they are
Which mankind is so fair part of thy work, forgotten*
Thou madest it like to thine owen mark.* *image
Then seemed it ye had a great cherte* *love, affection
Toward mankind; but how then may it be
That ye such meanes make it to destroy?
Which meanes do no good, but ever annoy.
I wot well, clerkes will say as them lest,* *please
By arguments, that all is for the best,
Although I can the causes not y-know;
But thilke* God that made the wind to blow, *that
As keep my lord, this is my conclusion:
To clerks leave I all disputation:
But would to God that all these rockes blake
Were sunken into helle for his sake
These rockes slay mine hearte for the fear."
Thus would she say, with many a piteous tear.

Her friendes saw that it was no disport
To roame by the sea, but discomfort,
And shope* them for to playe somewhere else. *arranged
They leade her by rivers and by wells,
And eke in other places delectables;
They dancen, and they play at chess and tables.* *backgammon
So on a day, right in the morning-tide,
Unto a garden that was there beside,
In which that they had made their ordinance* *provision, arrangement
Of victual, and of other purveyance,
They go and play them all the longe day:
And this was on the sixth morrow of May,
Which May had painted with his softe showers
This garden full of leaves and of flowers:
And craft of manne's hand so curiously
Arrayed had this garden truely,
That never was there garden of such price,* *value, praise
*But if* it were the very Paradise. *unless*
Th'odour of flowers, and the freshe sight,
Would have maked any hearte light
That e'er was born, *but if* too great sickness *unless*
Or too great sorrow held it in distress;
So full it was of beauty and pleasance.
And after dinner they began to dance
And sing also, save Dorigen alone
Who made alway her complaint and her moan,
For she saw not him on the dance go
That was her husband, and her love also;
But natheless she must a time abide
And with good hope let her sorrow slide.

Upon this dance, amonge other men,
Danced a squier before Dorigen
That fresher was, and jollier of array
*As to my doom,* than is the month of May. *in my judgment*
He sang and danced, passing any man,
That is or was since that the world began;
Therewith he was, if men should him descrive,
One of the *beste faring* men alive, *most accomplished*
Young, strong, and virtuous, and rich, and wise,
And well beloved, and holden in great price.* *esteem, value
And, shortly if the sooth I telle shall,
*Unweeting of* this Dorigen at all, *unknown to*
This lusty squier, servant to Venus,
Which that y-called was Aurelius,
Had lov'd her best of any creature
Two year and more, as was his aventure;* *fortune
But never durst he tell her his grievance;
Withoute cup he drank all his penance.
He was despaired, nothing durst he say,
Save in his songes somewhat would he wray* *betray
His woe, as in a general complaining;
He said, he lov'd, and was belov'd nothing.
Of suche matter made he many lays,
Songes, complaintes, roundels, virelays <8>
How that he durste not his sorrow tell,
But languished, as doth a Fury in hell;
And die he must, he said, as did Echo
For Narcissus, that durst not tell her woe.
In other manner than ye hear me say,
He durste not to her his woe bewray,
Save that paraventure sometimes at dances,
Where younge folke keep their observances,
It may well be he looked on her face
In such a wise, as man that asketh grace,
But nothing wiste she of his intent.
Nath'less it happen'd, ere they thennes* went, *thence (from the
Because that he was her neighebour, garden)*
And was a man of worship and honour,
And she had knowen him *of time yore,* *for a long time*
They fell in speech, and forth aye more and more
Unto his purpose drew Aurelius;
And when he saw his time, he saide thus:
Madam," quoth he, "by God that this world made,
So that I wist it might your hearte glade,* *gladden
I would, that day that your Arviragus
Went over sea, that I, Aurelius,
Had gone where I should never come again;
For well I wot my service is in vain.
My guerdon* is but bursting of mine heart. *reward
Madame, rue upon my paine's smart,
For with a word ye may me slay or save.
Here at your feet God would that I were grave.
I have now no leisure more to say:
Have mercy, sweet, or you will *do me dey."* *cause me to die*

She gan to look upon Aurelius;
"Is this your will," quoth she, "and say ye thus?
Ne'er erst,"* quoth she, "I wiste what ye meant: *before
But now, Aurelius, I know your intent.
By thilke* God that gave me soul and life, *that
Never shall I be an untrue wife
In word nor work, as far as I have wit;
I will be his to whom that I am knit;
Take this for final answer as of me."
But after that *in play* thus saide she. *playfully, in jest*
"Aurelius," quoth she, "by high God above,
Yet will I grante you to be your love
(Since I you see so piteously complain);
Looke, what day that endelong* Bretagne *from end to end of
Ye remove all the rockes, stone by stone,
That they not lette* ship nor boat to gon, *prevent
I say, when ye have made this coast so clean
Of rockes, that there is no stone seen,
Then will I love you best of any man;
Have here my troth, in all that ever I can;
For well I wot that it shall ne'er betide.
Let such folly out of your hearte glide.
What dainty* should a man have in his life *value, pleasure
For to go love another manne's wife,
That hath her body when that ever him liketh?"
Aurelius full often sore siketh;* *sigheth
Is there none other grace in you?" quoth he,
"No, by that Lord," quoth she, "that maked me.
Woe was Aurelius when that he this heard,
And with a sorrowful heart he thus answer'd.
"Madame, quoth he, "this were an impossible.
Then must I die of sudden death horrible."
And with that word he turned him anon.

Then came her other friends many a one,
And in the alleys roamed up and down,
And nothing wist of this conclusion,
But suddenly began to revel new,
Till that the brighte sun had lost his hue,
For th' horizon had reft the sun his light
(This is as much to say as it was night);
And home they go in mirth and in solace;
Save only wretch'd Aurelius, alas
He to his house is gone with sorrowful heart.
He said, he may not from his death astart.* *escape
Him seemed, that he felt his hearte cold.
Up to the heav'n his handes gan he hold,
And on his knees bare he set him down.
And in his raving said his orisoun.* *prayer
For very woe out of his wit he braid;* *wandered
He wist not what he spake, but thus he said;
With piteous heart his plaint hath he begun
Unto the gods, and first unto the Sun.
He said; "Apollo God and governour
Of every plante, herbe, tree, and flower,
That giv'st, after thy declination,
To each of them his time and his season,
As thine herberow* changeth low and high; *dwelling, situation
Lord Phoebus: cast thy merciable eye
On wretched Aurelius, which that am but lorn.* *undone
Lo, lord, my lady hath my death y-sworn,
Withoute guilt, but* thy benignity *unless
Upon my deadly heart have some pity.
For well I wot, Lord Phoebus, if you lest,* *please
Ye may me helpe, save my lady, best.
Now vouchsafe, that I may you devise* *tell, explain
How that I may be holp,* and in what wise. *helped
Your blissful sister, Lucina the sheen, <9>
That of the sea is chief goddess and queen, —
Though Neptunus have deity in the sea,
Yet emperess above him is she; —
Ye know well, lord, that, right as her desire
Is to be quick'd* and lighted of your fire, *quickened
For which she followeth you full busily,
Right so the sea desireth naturally
To follow her, as she that is goddess
Both in the sea and rivers more and less.
Wherefore, Lord Phoebus, this is my request,
Do this miracle, or *do mine hearte brest;* *cause my heart
That flow, next at this opposition, to burst*
Which in the sign shall be of the Lion,
As praye her so great a flood to bring,
That five fathom at least it overspring
The highest rock in Armoric Bretagne,
And let this flood endure yeares twain:
Then certes to my lady may I say,
"Holde your hest," the rockes be away.
Lord Phoebus, this miracle do for me,
Pray her she go no faster course than ye;
I say this, pray your sister that she go
No faster course than ye these yeares two:
Then shall she be even at full alway,
And spring-flood laste bothe night and day.
And *but she* vouchesafe in such mannere *if she do not*
To grante me my sov'reign lady dear,
Pray her to sink every rock adown
Into her owen darke regioun
Under the ground, where Pluto dwelleth in
Or nevermore shall I my lady win.
Thy temple in Delphos will I barefoot seek.
Lord Phoebus! see the teares on my cheek
And on my pain have some compassioun."
And with that word in sorrow he fell down,
And longe time he lay forth in a trance.
His brother, which that knew of his penance,* *distress
Up caught him, and to bed he hath him brought,
Despaired in this torment and this thought
Let I this woeful creature lie;
Choose he for me whe'er* he will live or die. *whether

Arviragus with health and great honour
(As he that was of chivalry the flow'r)
Is come home, and other worthy men.
Oh, blissful art thou now, thou Dorigen!
Thou hast thy lusty husband in thine arms,
The freshe knight, the worthy man of arms,
That loveth thee as his own hearte's life:
*Nothing list him to be imaginatif* *he cared not to fancy*
If any wight had spoke, while he was out,
To her of love; he had of that no doubt;* *fear, suspicion
He not intended* to no such mattere, *occupied himself with
But danced, jousted, and made merry cheer.
And thus in joy and bliss I let them dwell,
And of the sick Aurelius will I tell
In languor and in torment furious
Two year and more lay wretch'd Aurelius,
Ere any foot on earth he mighte gon;
Nor comfort in this time had he none,
Save of his brother, which that was a clerk.* *scholar
He knew of all this woe and all this work;
For to none other creature certain
Of this matter he durst no worde sayn;
Under his breast he bare it more secree
Than e'er did Pamphilus for Galatee.<10>
His breast was whole withoute for to seen,
But in his heart aye was the arrow keen,
And well ye know that of a sursanure <11>
In surgery is perilous the cure,
But* men might touch the arrow or come thereby. *except
His brother wept and wailed privily,
Till at the last him fell in remembrance,
That while he was at Orleans <12> in France, —
As younge clerkes, that be likerous* — *eager
To readen artes that be curious,
Seeken in every *halk and every hern* *nook and corner* <13>
Particular sciences for to learn,—
He him remember'd, that upon a day
At Orleans in study a book he say* *saw
Of magic natural, which his fellaw,
That was that time a bachelor of law
All* were he there to learn another craft, *though
Had privily upon his desk y-laft;
Which book spake much of operations
Touching the eight and-twenty mansions
That longe to the Moon, and such folly
As in our dayes is not worth a fly;
For holy church's faith, in our believe,* *belief, creed
Us suff'reth none illusion to grieve.
And when this book was in his remembrance
Anon for joy his heart began to dance,
And to himself he saide privily;
"My brother shall be warish'd* hastily *cured
For I am sicker* that there be sciences, *certain
By which men make divers apparences,
Such as these subtle tregetoures play. *tricksters <14>
For oft at feaste's have I well heard say,
That tregetours, within a halle large,
Have made come in a water and a barge,
And in the halle rowen up and down.
Sometimes hath seemed come a grim lioun,
And sometimes flowers spring as in a mead;
Sometimes a vine, and grapes white and red;
Sometimes a castle all of lime and stone;
And, when them liked, voided* it anon: *vanished
Thus seemed it to every manne's sight.
Now then conclude I thus; if that I might
At Orleans some olde fellow find,
That hath these Moone's mansions in mind,
Or other magic natural above.
He should well make my brother have his love.
For with an appearance a clerk* may make, *learned man
To manne's sight, that all the rockes blake
Of Bretagne were voided* every one, *removed
And shippes by the brinke come and gon,
And in such form endure a day or two;
Then were my brother warish'd* of his woe, *cured
Then must she needes *holde her behest,* *keep her promise*
Or elles he shall shame her at the least."
Why should I make a longer tale of this?
Unto his brother's bed he comen is,
And such comfort he gave him, for to gon
To Orleans, that he upstart anon,
And on his way forth-ward then is he fare,* *gone
In hope for to be lissed* of his care. *eased of <15>

When they were come almost to that city,
*But if it were* a two furlong or three, *all but*
A young clerk roaming by himself they met,
Which that in Latin *thriftily them gret.* *greeted them
And after that he said a wondrous thing; civilly*
I know," quoth he, "the cause of your coming;"
Aud ere they farther any foote went,
He told them all that was in their intent.
The Breton clerk him asked of fellaws
The which he hadde known in olde daws,* *days
And he answer'd him that they deade were,
For which he wept full often many a tear.
Down off his horse Aurelius light anon,
And forth with this magician is be gone
Home to his house, and made him well at ease;
Them lacked no vitail* that might them please. *victuals, food
So well-array'd a house as there was one,
Aurelius in his life saw never none.
He shewed him, ere they went to suppere,
Forestes, parkes, full of wilde deer.
There saw he hartes with their hornes high,
The greatest that were ever seen with eye.
He saw of them an hundred slain with hounds,
And some with arrows bleed of bitter wounds.
He saw, when voided* were the wilde deer, *passed away
These falconers upon a fair rivere,
That with their hawkes have the heron slain.
Then saw he knightes jousting in a plain.
And after this he did him such pleasance,
That he him shew'd his lady on a dance,
In which himselfe danced, as him thought.
And when this master, that this magic wrought,
Saw it was time, he clapp'd his handes two,
And farewell, all the revel is y-go.* *gone, removed
And yet remov'd they never out of the house,
While they saw all the sightes marvellous;
But in his study, where his bookes be,
They satte still, and no wight but they three.
To him this master called his squier,

And said him thus, "May we go to supper?
Almost an hour it is, I undertake,
Since I you bade our supper for to make,
When that these worthy men wente with me
Into my study, where my bookes be."
"Sir," quoth this squier, "when it liketh you.
It is all ready, though ye will right now."
"Go we then sup," quoth he, "as for the best;
These amorous folk some time must have rest."
At after supper fell they in treaty
What summe should this master's guerdon* be, *reward
To remove all the rockes of Bretagne,
And eke from Gironde <16> to the mouth of Seine.
He made it strange,* and swore, so God him save, *a matter of
Less than a thousand pound he would not have, difficulty*
*Nor gladly for that sum he would not gon.* *see note <17>*
Aurelius with blissful heart anon
Answered thus; "Fie on a thousand pound!
This wide world, which that men say is round,
I would it give, if I were lord of it.
This bargain is full-driv'n, for we be knit;* *agreed
Ye shall be payed truly by my troth.
But looke, for no negligence or sloth,
Ye tarry us here no longer than to-morrow."
"Nay," quoth the clerk, *"have here my faith to borrow."* *I pledge my
To bed is gone Aurelius when him lest, faith on it*
And well-nigh all that night he had his rest,
What for his labour, and his hope of bliss,
His woeful heart *of penance had a liss.* *had a respite
from suffering*
Upon the morrow, when that it was day,
Unto Bretagne they took the righte way,
Aurelius and this magician beside,
And be descended where they would abide:
And this was, as the bookes me remember,
The colde frosty season of December.
Phoebus wax'd old, and hued like latoun,* *brass
That in his hote declinatioun
Shone as the burned gold, with streames* bright; *beams
But now in Capricorn adown he light,
Where as he shone full pale, I dare well sayn.
The bitter frostes, with the sleet and rain,
Destroyed have the green in every yard. *courtyard, garden
Janus sits by the fire with double beard,
And drinketh of his bugle horn the wine:
Before him stands the brawn of tusked swine
And "nowel"* crieth every lusty man *Noel <18>
Aurelius, in all that ev'r he can,
Did to his master cheer and reverence,
And prayed him to do his diligence
To bringe him out of his paines smart,
Or with a sword that he would slit his heart.
This subtle clerk such ruth* had on this man, *pity
That night and day he sped him, that he can,
To wait a time of his conclusion;
This is to say, to make illusion,
By such an appearance of jugglery
(I know no termes of astrology),
That she and every wight should ween and say,
That of Bretagne the rockes were away,
Or else they were sunken under ground.
So at the last he hath a time found
To make his japes* and his wretchedness *tricks
Of such a *superstitious cursedness.* *detestable villainy*
His tables Toletanes <19> forth he brought,
Full well corrected, that there lacked nought,
Neither his collect, nor his expanse years,
Neither his rootes, nor his other gears,
As be his centres, and his arguments,
And his proportional convenients
For his equations in everything.
And by his eighte spheres in his working,
He knew full well how far Alnath <20> was shove
From the head of that fix'd Aries above,
That in the ninthe sphere consider'd is.
Full subtilly he calcul'd all this.
When he had found his firste mansion,
He knew the remnant by proportion;
And knew the rising of his moone well,
And in whose face, and term, and every deal;
And knew full well the moone's mansion
Accordant to his operation;
And knew also his other observances,
For such illusions and such meschances,* *wicked devices
As heathen folk used in thilke days.
For which no longer made he delays;
But through his magic, for a day or tway, <21>
It seemed all the rockes were away.

Aurelius, which yet despaired is
Whe'er* he shall have his love, or fare amiss, *whether
Awaited night and day on this miracle:
And when he knew that there was none obstacle,
That voided* were these rockes every one, *removed
Down at his master's feet he fell anon,
And said; "I, woeful wretch'd Aurelius,
Thank you, my Lord, and lady mine Venus,
That me have holpen from my cares cold."
And to the temple his way forth hath he hold,
Where as he knew he should his lady see.
And when he saw his time, anon right he
With dreadful* heart and with full humble cheer** *fearful **mien
Saluteth hath his sovereign lady dear.
"My rightful Lady," quoth this woeful man,
"Whom I most dread, and love as I best can,
And lothest were of all this world displease,
Were't not that I for you have such disease,* *distress, affliction
That I must die here at your foot anon,
Nought would I tell how me is woebegone.
But certes either must I die or plain;* *bewail
Ye slay me guilteless for very pain.
But of my death though that ye have no ruth,
Advise you, ere that ye break your truth:
Repente you, for thilke God above,
Ere ye me slay because that I you love.
For, Madame, well ye wot what ye have hight;* *promised
Not that I challenge anything of right
Of you, my sovereign lady, but of grace:
But in a garden yond', in such a place,
Ye wot right well what ye behighte* me, *promised
And in mine hand your trothe plighted ye,
To love me best; God wot ye saide so,
Albeit that I unworthy am thereto;
Madame, I speak it for th' honour of you,
More than to save my hearte's life right now;
I have done so as ye commanded me,
And if ye vouchesafe, ye may go see.
Do as you list, have your behest in mind,
For, quick or dead, right there ye shall me find;
In you hes all to *do me live or dey;* *cause me to
But well I wot the rockes be away." live or die*

He took his leave, and she astonish'd stood;
In all her face was not one drop of blood:
She never ween'd t'have come in such a trap.
"Alas!" quoth she, "that ever this should hap!
For ween'd I ne'er, by possibility,
That such a monster or marvail might be;
It is against the process of nature."
And home she went a sorrowful creature;
For very fear unnethes* may she go. *scarcely
She weeped, wailed, all a day or two,
And swooned, that it ruthe was to see:
But why it was, to no wight tolde she,
For out of town was gone Arviragus.
But to herself she spake, and saide thus,
With face pale, and full sorrowful cheer,
In her complaint, as ye shall after hear.
"Alas!" quoth she, "on thee, Fortune, I plain,* *complain
That unware hast me wrapped in thy chain,
From which to scape, wot I no succour,
Save only death, or elles dishonour;
One of these two behoveth me to choose.
But natheless, yet had I lever* lose *sooner, rather
My life, than of my body have shame,
Or know myselfe false, or lose my name;
And with my death *I may be quit y-wis.* *I may certainly purchase
Hath there not many a noble wife, ere this, my exemption*
And many a maiden, slain herself, alas!
Rather than with her body do trespass?
Yes, certes; lo, these stories bear witness. <22>
When thirty tyrants full of cursedness* *wickedness
Had slain Phidon in Athens at the feast,
They commanded his daughters to arrest,
And bringe them before them, in despite,
All naked, to fulfil their foul delight;
And in their father's blood they made them dance
Upon the pavement, — God give them mischance.
For which these woeful maidens, full of dread,
Rather than they would lose their maidenhead,
They privily *be start* into a well, *suddenly leaped
And drowned themselves, as the bookes tell.
They of Messene let inquire and seek
Of Lacedaemon fifty maidens eke,
On which they woulde do their lechery:
But there was none of all that company
That was not slain, and with a glad intent
Chose rather for to die, than to assent
To be oppressed* of her maidenhead. *forcibly bereft
Why should I then to dien be in dread?
Lo, eke the tyrant Aristoclides,
That lov'd a maiden hight Stimphalides,
When that her father slain was on a night,
Unto Diana's temple went she right,
And hent* the image in her handes two, *caught, clasped
From which image she woulde never go;
No wight her handes might off it arace,* *pluck away by force
Till she was slain right in the selfe* place. *same
Now since that maidens hadde such despite
To be defouled with man's foul delight,
Well ought a wife rather herself to sle,* *slay
Than be defouled, as it thinketh me.
What shall I say of Hasdrubale's wife,
That at Carthage bereft herself of life?
For, when she saw the Romans win the town,
She took her children all, and skipt adown
Into the fire, and rather chose to die,
Than any Roman did her villainy.
Hath not Lucretia slain herself, alas!
At Rome, when that she oppressed* was *ravished
Of Tarquin? for her thought it was a shame
To live, when she hadde lost her name.
The seven maidens of Milesie also
Have slain themselves for very dread and woe,
Rather than folk of Gaul them should oppress.
More than a thousand stories, as I guess,
Could I now tell as touching this mattere.
When Abradate was slain, his wife so dear <23>
Herselfe slew, and let her blood to glide
In Abradate's woundes, deep and wide,
And said, 'My body at the leaste way
There shall no wight defoul, if that I may.'
Why should I more examples hereof sayn?
Since that so many have themselves slain,
Well rather than they would defouled be,
I will conclude that it is bet* for me *better
To slay myself, than be defouled thus.
I will be true unto Arviragus,
Or elles slay myself in some mannere,
As did Demotione's daughter dear,
Because she woulde not defouled be.
O Sedasus, it is full great pity
To reade how thy daughters died, alas!
That slew themselves *for suche manner cas.* *in circumstances of
As great a pity was it, or well more, the same kind*
The Theban maiden, that for Nicanor
Herselfe slew, right for such manner woe.
Another Theban maiden did right so;
For one of Macedon had her oppress'd,
She with her death her maidenhead redress'd.* *vindicated
What shall I say of Niceratus' wife,
That for such case bereft herself her life?
How true was eke to Alcibiades
His love, that for to dien rather chese,* *chose
Than for to suffer his body unburied be?
Lo, what a wife was Alceste?" quoth she.
"What saith Homer of good Penelope?
All Greece knoweth of her chastity.
Pardie, of Laedamia is written thus,
That when at Troy was slain Protesilaus, <24>
No longer would she live after his day.
The same of noble Porcia tell I may;
Withoute Brutus coulde she not live,
To whom she did all whole her hearte give. <25>
The perfect wifehood of Artemisie <26>
Honoured is throughout all Barbarie.
O Teuta <27> queen, thy wifely chastity
To alle wives may a mirror be." <28>

Thus plained Dorigen a day or tway,
Purposing ever that she woulde dey;* *die
But natheless upon the thirde night
Home came Arviragus, the worthy knight,
And asked her why that she wept so sore.
And she gan weepen ever longer more.
"Alas," quoth she, "that ever I was born!
Thus have I said," quoth she; "thus have I sworn. "
And told him all, as ye have heard before:
It needeth not rehearse it you no more.
This husband with glad cheer,* in friendly wise, *demeanour
Answer'd and said, as I shall you devise.* *relate
"Is there aught elles, Dorigen, but this?"
"Nay, nay," quoth she, "God help me so, *as wis* *assuredly*
This is too much, an* it were Godde's will." *if
"Yea, wife," quoth he, "let sleepe what is still,
It may be well par'venture yet to-day.
Ye shall your trothe holde, by my fay.
For, God so wisly* have mercy on me, *certainly
*I had well lever sticked for to be,* *I had rather be slain*
For very love which I to you have,
But if ye should your trothe keep and save.
Truth is the highest thing that man may keep."
But with that word he burst anon to weep,
And said; "I you forbid, on pain of death,
That never, while you lasteth life or breath,
To no wight tell ye this misaventure;
As I may best, I will my woe endure,
Nor make no countenance of heaviness,
That folk of you may deeme harm, or guess."
And forth he call'd a squier and a maid.
"Go forth anon with Dorigen," he said,
"And bringe her to such a place anon."
They take their leave, and on their way they gon:
But they not wiste why she thither went;
He would to no wight telle his intent.

This squier, which that hight Aurelius,
On Dorigen that was so amorous,
Of aventure happen'd her to meet
Amid the town, right in the quickest* street, *nearest
As she was bound* to go the way forthright *prepared, going <29>
Toward the garden, there as she had hight.* *promised
And he was to the garden-ward also;
For well he spied when she woulde go
Out of her house, to any manner place;
But thus they met, of aventure or grace,
And he saluted her with glad intent,
And asked of her whitherward she went.
And she answered, half as she were mad,
"Unto the garden, as my husband bade,
My trothe for to hold, alas! alas!"
Aurelius gan to wonder on this case,
And in his heart had great compassion
Of her, and of her lamentation,
And of Arviragus, the worthy knight,
That bade her hold all that she hadde hight;
So loth him was his wife should break her truth* *troth, pledged word
And in his heart he caught of it great ruth,* *pity
Considering the best on every side,
*That from his lust yet were him lever abide,* *see note <30>*
Than do so high a churlish wretchedness* *wickedness
Against franchise,* and alle gentleness; *generosity
For which in fewe words he saide thus;
"Madame, say to your lord Arviragus,
That since I see the greate gentleness
Of him, and eke I see well your distress,
That him were lever* have shame (and that were ruth)** *rather **pity
Than ye to me should breake thus your truth,
I had well lever aye* to suffer woe, *forever
Than to depart* the love betwixt you two. *sunder, split up
I you release, Madame, into your hond,
Quit ev'ry surement* and ev'ry bond, *surety
That ye have made to me as herebeforn,
Since thilke time that ye were born.
Have here my truth, I shall you ne'er repreve* *reproach
*Of no behest;* and here I take my leave, *of no (breach of)
As of the truest and the beste wife promise*
That ever yet I knew in all my life.
But every wife beware of her behest;
On Dorigen remember at the least.
Thus can a squier do a gentle deed,
As well as can a knight, withoute drede."* *doubt

She thanked him upon her knees bare,
And home unto her husband is she fare,* *gone
And told him all, as ye have hearde said;
And, truste me, he was so *well apaid,* *satisfied*
That it were impossible me to write.
Why should I longer of this case indite?
Arviragus and Dorigen his wife
In sov'reign blisse ledde forth their life;
Ne'er after was there anger them between;
He cherish'd her as though she were a queen,
And she was to him true for evermore;
Of these two folk ye get of me no more.

Aurelius, that his cost had *all forlorn,* *utterly lost*
Cursed the time that ever he was born.
"Alas!" quoth he, "alas that I behight* *promised
Of pured* gold a thousand pound of weight *refined
To this philosopher! how shall I do?
I see no more, but that I am fordo.* *ruined, undone
Mine heritage must I needes sell,
And be a beggar; here I will not dwell,
And shamen all my kindred in this place,
But* I of him may gette better grace. *unless
But natheless I will of him assay
At certain dayes year by year to pay,
And thank him of his greate courtesy.
My trothe will I keep, I will not he."
With hearte sore he went unto his coffer,
And broughte gold unto this philosopher,
The value of five hundred pound, I guess,
And him beseeched, of his gentleness,
To grant him *dayes of* the remenant; *time to pay up*
And said; "Master, I dare well make avaunt,
I failed never of my truth as yet.
For sickerly my debte shall be quit
Towardes you how so that e'er I fare
To go a-begging in my kirtle bare:
But would ye vouchesafe, upon surety,
Two year, or three, for to respite me,
Then were I well, for elles must I sell
Mine heritage; there is no more to tell."

This philosopher soberly* answer'd, *gravely
And saide thus, when he these wordes heard;
"Have I not holden covenant to thee?"
"Yes, certes, well and truely," quoth he.
"Hast thou not had thy lady as thee liked?"
"No, no," quoth he, and sorrowfully siked.* *sighed
"What was the cause? tell me if thou can."
Aurelius his tale anon began,
And told him all as ye have heard before,
It needeth not to you rehearse it more.
He said, "Arviragus of gentleness
Had lever* die in sorrow and distress, *rather
Than that his wife were of her trothe false."
The sorrow of Dorigen he told him als',* *also
How loth her was to be a wicked wife,
And that she lever had lost that day her life;
And that her troth she swore through innocence;
She ne'er erst* had heard speak of apparence** *before **see note <31>
That made me have of her so great pity,
And right as freely as he sent her to me,
As freely sent I her to him again:
This is all and some, there is no more to sayn."

The philosopher answer'd; "Leve* brother, *dear
Evereach of you did gently to the other;
Thou art a squier, and he is a knight,
But God forbidde, for his blissful might,
But if a clerk could do a gentle deed
As well as any of you, it is no drede* *doubt
Sir, I release thee thy thousand pound,
As thou right now were crept out of the ground,
Nor ever ere now haddest knowen me.
For, Sir, I will not take a penny of thee
For all my craft, nor naught for my travail;* *labour, pains
Thou hast y-payed well for my vitaille;
It is enough; and farewell, have good day."
And took his horse, and forth he went his way.
Lordings, this question would I aske now,
Which was the moste free,* as thinketh you? *generous <32>
Now telle me, ere that ye farther wend.
I can* no more, my tale is at an end. *know, can tell

Notes to The Franklin's Tale

1. Well unnethes durst this knight for dread: This knight hardly dared, for fear (that she would not entertain his suit.)

2. "Ne woulde God never betwixt us twain, As in my guilt, were either war or strife" Would to God there may never be war or strife between us, through my fault.

3. Perhaps the true reading is "beteth" — prepares, makes ready, his wings for flight.

4. Penmark: On the west coast of Brittany, between Brest and L'Orient. The name is composed of two British words, "pen," mountain, and "mark," region; it therefore means the mountainous country

5. Cairrud: "The red city;" it is not known where it was situated.

6. Warished: cured; French, "guerir," to heal, or recover from sickness.

7. Annoyeth: works mischief; from Latin, "nocco," I hurt.

8. Virelays: ballads; the "virelai" was an ancient French poem of two rhymes.

9. Lucina the sheen: Diana the bright. See note 54 to the Knight's Tale.

10. In a Latin poem, very popular in Chaucer's time, Pamphilus relates his amour with Galatea, setting out with the idea adopted by our poet in the lines that follow.

11. Sursanure: A wound healed on the surface, but festering beneath.

12. Orleans: Where there was a celebrated and very famous university, afterwards eclipsed by that of Paris. It was founded by Philip le Bel in 1312.

13. Every halk and every hern: Every nook and corner, Anglo- Saxon, "healc," a nook; "hyrn," a corner.

14. Tregetoures: tricksters, jugglers. The word is probably derived — in "treget," deceit or imposture — from the French "trebuchet," a military machine; since it is evident that much and elaborate machinery must have been employed to produce the effects afterwards described. Another derivation is from the Low Latin, "tricator," a deceiver.

15. Lissed of: eased of; released from; another form of "less" or "lessen."

16. Gironde: The river, formed by the union of the Dordogne and Garonne, on which Bourdeaux stands.

17. Nor gladly for that sum he would not gon: And even for that sum he would not willingly go to work.

18. "Noel," the French for Christmas — derived from "natalis," and signifying that on that day Christ was born — came to be used as a festive cry by the people on solemn occasions.

19. Tables Toletanes: Toledan tables; the astronomical tables composed by order Of Alphonso II, King of Castile, about 1250 and so called because they were adapted to the city of Toledo.

20. "Alnath," Says Mr Wright, was "the first star in the horns of Aries, whence the first mansion of the moon is named."

21. Another and better reading is "a week or two."

22. These stories are all taken from the book of St Jerome "Contra Jovinianum," from which the Wife of Bath drew so many of her ancient instances. See note 1 to the prologue to the Wife of Bath's Tale.

23. Panthea. Abradatas, King of Susa, was an ally of the Assyrians against Cyrus; and his wife was taken at the conquest of the Assyrian camp. Struck by the honourable treatment she received at the captors hands, Abradatas joined Cyrus, and fell in battle against his former alhes. His wife, inconsolable at his loss, slew herself immediately.

24. Protesilaus was the husband of Laedamia. She begged the gods, after his death, that but three hours' converse with him might be allowed her; the request was granted; and when her dead husband, at the expiry of the time, returned to the world of shades, she bore him company.

25. The daughter of Cato of Utica, Porcia married Marcus Brutus, the friend and the assassin of Julius Caesar; when her husband died by his own hand after the battle of Philippi, she committed suicide, it is said, by swallowing live coals — all other means having been removed by her friends.

26. Artemisia, Queen of Caria, who built to her husband Mausolus, the splendid monument which was accounted among the wonders of the world; and who mingled her husband's ashes with her daily drink. "Barbarie" is used in the Greek sense, to designate the non-Hellenic peoples of Asia.

27. Teuta: Queen of Illyria, who, after her husband's death, made war on and was conquered by the Romans, B.C 228.

28. At this point, in some manuscripts, occur thefollowing two
lines: —
"The same thing I say of Bilia,
Of Rhodegone and of Valeria."

29. Bound: prepared; going. To "boun" or "bown" is a good old word, whence comes our word "bound," in the sense of "on the way."

30. That from his lust yet were him lever abide: He would rather do without his pleasure.

31. Such apparence: such an ocular deception, or apparition — more properly, disappearance — as the removal of the rocks.

32. The same question is stated a the end of Boccaccio's version of the story in the "Philocopo," where the queen determines in favour of Aviragus. The question is evidently one of those which it was the fashion to propose for debate in the mediaeval "courts of love."

 








THE DOCTOR'S TALE.



THE PROLOGUE.
<1>

["YEA, let that passe," quoth our Host, "as now.
Sir Doctor of Physik, I praye you,
Tell us a tale of some honest mattere."
"It shall be done, if that ye will it hear,"
Said this Doctor; and his tale gan anon.
"Now, good men," quoth he, "hearken everyone."]

Notes to the Prologue to the Doctor's Tale

1. The authenticity of the prologue is questionable. It is found in one manuscript only; other manuscripts give other prologues, more plainly not Chaucer's than this; and some manuscripts have merely a colophon to the effect that "Here endeth the Franklin's Tale and beginneth the Physician's Tale without a prologue." The Tale itself is the well-known story of Virginia, with several departures from the text of Livy. Chaucer probably followed the "Romance of the Rose" and Gower's "Confessio Amantis," in both of which the story is found.





 

THE TALE.

There was, as telleth Titus Livius, <1>
A knight, that called was Virginius,
Full filled of honour and worthiness,
And strong of friendes, and of great richess.
This knight one daughter hadde by his wife;
No children had he more in all his life.
Fair was this maid in excellent beauty
Aboven ev'ry wight that man may see:
For nature had with sov'reign diligence
Y-formed her in so great excellence,
As though she woulde say, "Lo, I, Nature,
Thus can I form and paint a creature,
When that me list; who can me counterfeit?
Pygmalion? not though he aye forge and beat,
Or grave or painte: for I dare well sayn,
Apelles, Zeuxis, shoulde work in vain,
Either to grave, or paint, or forge, or beat,
If they presumed me to counterfeit.
For he that is the former principal,
Hath made me his vicar-general
To form and painten earthly creatures
Right as me list, and all thing in my cure* is, *care
Under the moone, that may wane and wax.
And for my work right nothing will I ax* *ask
My lord and I be full of one accord.
I made her to the worship* of my lord;
So do I all mine other creatures,
What colour that they have, or what figures."
Thus seemeth me that Nature woulde say.

This maiden was of age twelve year and tway,* *two
In which that Nature hadde such delight.
For right as she can paint a lily white,
And red a rose, right with such painture
She painted had this noble creature,
Ere she was born, upon her limbes free,
Where as by right such colours shoulde be:
And Phoebus dyed had her tresses great,
Like to the streames* of his burned heat. *beams, rays
And if that excellent was her beauty,
A thousand-fold more virtuous was she.
In her there lacked no condition,
That is to praise, as by discretion.
As well in ghost* as body chaste was she: *mind, spirit
For which she flower'd in virginity,
With all humility and abstinence,
With alle temperance and patience,
With measure* eke of bearing and array. *moderation
Discreet she was in answering alway,
Though she were wise as Pallas, dare I sayn;
Her faconde* eke full womanly and plain, *speech <2>
No counterfeited termes hadde she
To seeme wise; but after her degree
She spake, and all her worde's more and less
Sounding in virtue and in gentleness.
Shamefast she was in maiden's shamefastness,
Constant in heart, and ever *in business* *diligent, eager*
To drive her out of idle sluggardy:
Bacchus had of her mouth right no mast'ry.
For wine and slothe <3> do Venus increase,
As men in fire will casten oil and grease.
And of her owen virtue, unconstrain'd,
She had herself full often sick y-feign'd,
For that she woulde flee the company,
Where likely was to treaten of folly,
As is at feasts, at revels, and at dances,
That be occasions of dalliances.
Such thinges make children for to be
Too soone ripe and bold, as men may see,
Which is full perilous, and hath been yore;* *of old
For all too soone may she learne lore
Of boldeness, when that she is a wife.

And ye mistresses,* in your olde life *governesses, duennas
That lordes' daughters have in governance,
Take not of my wordes displeasance
Thinke that ye be set in governings
Of lordes' daughters only for two things;
Either for ye have kept your honesty,
Or else for ye have fallen in frailty
And knowe well enough the olde dance,
And have forsaken fully such meschance* *wickedness <4>
For evermore; therefore, for Christe's sake,
To teach them virtue look that ye not slake.* *be slack, fail
A thief of venison, that hath forlaft* *forsaken, left
His lik'rousness,* and all his olde craft, *gluttony
Can keep a forest best of any man;
Now keep them well, for if ye will ye can.
Look well, that ye unto no vice assent,
Lest ye be damned for your wick'* intent, *wicked, evil
For whoso doth, a traitor is certain;
And take keep* of that I shall you sayn; *heed
Of alle treason, sov'reign pestilence
Is when a wight betrayeth innocence.
Ye fathers, and ye mothers eke also,
Though ye have children, be it one or mo',
Yours is the charge of all their surveyance,* *supervision
While that they be under your governance.
Beware, that by example of your living,
Or by your negligence in chastising,
That they not perish for I dare well say,
If that they do, ye shall it dear abeye.* *pay for, suffer for
Under a shepherd soft and negligent
The wolf hath many a sheep and lamb to-rent.
Suffice this example now as here,
For I must turn again to my mattere.

This maid, of which I tell my tale express,
She kept herself, her needed no mistress;
For in her living maidens mighte read,
As in a book, ev'ry good word and deed
That longeth to a maiden virtuous;
She was so prudent and so bounteous.
For which the fame out sprang on every side
Both of her beauty and her bounte* wide: *goodness
That through the land they praised her each one
That loved virtue, save envy alone,
That sorry is of other manne's weal,
And glad is of his sorrow and unheal* — *misfortune
The Doctor maketh this descriptioun. — <5>
This maiden on a day went in the town
Toward a temple, with her mother dear,
As is of younge maidens the mannere.
Now was there then a justice in that town,
That governor was of that regioun:
And so befell, this judge his eyen cast
Upon this maid, avising* her full fast, *observing
As she came forth by where this judge stood;
Anon his hearte changed and his mood,
So was he caught with beauty of this maid
And to himself full privily he said,
"This maiden shall be mine *for any man."* *despite what any
Anon the fiend into his hearte ran, man may do*
And taught him suddenly, that he by sleight
This maiden to his purpose winne might.
For certes, by no force, nor by no meed,* *bribe, reward
Him thought he was not able for to speed;
For she was strong of friendes, and eke she
Confirmed was in such sov'reign bounte,
That well he wist he might her never win,
As for to make her with her body sin.
For which, with great deliberatioun,
He sent after a clerk <6> was in the town,
The which he knew for subtle and for bold.
This judge unto this clerk his tale told
In secret wise, and made him to assure
He shoulde tell it to no creature,
And if he did, he shoulde lose his head.
And when assented was this cursed rede,* *counsel, plot
Glad was the judge, and made him greate cheer,
And gave him giftes precious and dear.
When shapen* was all their conspiracy *arranged
From point to point, how that his lechery
Performed shoulde be full subtilly,
As ye shall hear it after openly,
Home went this clerk, that highte Claudius.
This false judge, that highte Appius, —
(So was his name, for it is no fable,
But knowen for a storial* thing notable; *historical, authentic
The sentence* of it sooth** is out of doubt); — *account **true
This false judge went now fast about
To hasten his delight all that he may.
And so befell, soon after on a day,
This false judge, as telleth us the story,
As he was wont, sat in his consistory,
And gave his doomes* upon sundry case'; *judgments
This false clerk came forth *a full great pace,* *in haste
And saide; Lord, if that it be your will,
As do me right upon this piteous bill,* *petition
In which I plain upon Virginius.
And if that he will say it is not thus,
I will it prove, and finde good witness,
That sooth is what my bille will express."
The judge answer'd, "Of this, in his absence,
I may not give definitive sentence.
Let do* him call, and I will gladly hear; *cause
Thou shalt have alle right, and no wrong here."
Virginius came to weet* the judge's will, *know, learn
And right anon was read this cursed bill;
The sentence of it was as ye shall hear
"To you, my lord, Sir Appius so clear,
Sheweth your poore servant Claudius,
How that a knight called Virginius,
Against the law, against all equity,
Holdeth, express against the will of me,
My servant, which that is my thrall* by right, *slave
Which from my house was stolen on a night,
While that she was full young; I will it preve* *prove
By witness, lord, so that it you *not grieve;* *be not displeasing*
She is his daughter not, what so he say.
Wherefore to you, my lord the judge, I pray,
Yield me my thrall, if that it be your will."
Lo, this was all the sentence of the bill.
Virginius gan upon the clerk behold;
But hastily, ere he his tale told,
And would have proved it, as should a knight,
And eke by witnessing of many a wight,
That all was false that said his adversary,
This cursed judge would no longer tarry,
Nor hear a word more of Virginius,
But gave his judgement, and saide thus:
"I deem* anon this clerk his servant have; *pronounce, determine
Thou shalt no longer in thy house her save.
Go, bring her forth, and put her in our ward
The clerk shall have his thrall: thus I award."

And when this worthy knight, Virginius,
Through sentence of this justice Appius,
Muste by force his deare daughter give
Unto the judge, in lechery to live,
He went him home, and sat him in his hall,
And let anon his deare daughter call;
And with a face dead as ashes cold
Upon her humble face he gan behold,
With father's pity sticking* through his heart, *piercing
All* would he from his purpose not convert.** *although **turn aside
"Daughter," quoth he, "Virginia by name,
There be two wayes, either death or shame,
That thou must suffer, — alas that I was bore!* *born
For never thou deservedest wherefore
To dien with a sword or with a knife,
O deare daughter, ender of my life,
Whom I have foster'd up with such pleasance
That thou were ne'er out of my remembrance;
O daughter, which that art my laste woe,
And in this life my laste joy also,
O gem of chastity, in patience
Take thou thy death, for this is my sentence:
For love and not for hate thou must be dead;
My piteous hand must smiten off thine head.
Alas, that ever Appius thee say!* *saw
Thus hath he falsely judged thee to-day."
And told her all the case, as ye before
Have heard; it needeth not to tell it more.

"O mercy, deare father," quoth the maid.
And with that word she both her armes laid
About his neck, as she was wont to do,
(The teares burst out of her eyen two),
And said, "O goode father, shall I die?
Is there no grace? is there no remedy?"
"No, certes, deare daughter mine," quoth he.
"Then give me leisure, father mine, quoth she,
"My death for to complain* a little space *bewail
For, pardie, Jephthah gave his daughter grace
For to complain, ere he her slew, alas! <7>
And, God it wot, nothing was her trespass,* *offence
But for she ran her father first to see,
To welcome him with great solemnity."
And with that word she fell a-swoon anon;
And after, when her swooning was y-gone,
She rose up, and unto her father said:
"Blessed be God, that I shall die a maid.
Give me my death, ere that I have shame;
Do with your child your will, in Godde's name."
And with that word she prayed him full oft
That with his sword he woulde smite her soft;
And with that word, a-swoon again she fell.
Her father, with full sorrowful heart and fell,* *stern, cruel
Her head off smote, and by the top it hent,* *took
And to the judge he went it to present,
As he sat yet in doom* in consistory. *judgment

And when the judge it saw, as saith the story,
He bade to take him, and to hang him fast.
But right anon a thousand people *in thrast* *rushed in*
To save the knight, for ruth and for pity
For knowen was the false iniquity.
The people anon had suspect* in this thing, *suspicion
By manner of the clerke's challenging,
That it was by th'assent of Appius;
They wiste well that he was lecherous.
For which unto this Appius they gon,
And cast him in a prison right anon,
Where as he slew himself: and Claudius,
That servant was unto this Appius,
Was doomed for to hang upon a tree;
But that Virginius, of his pity,
So prayed for him, that he was exil'd;
And elles certes had he been beguil'd;* *see note <8>
The remenant were hanged, more and less,
That were consenting to this cursedness.* *villainy
Here men may see how sin hath his merite:* *deserts
Beware, for no man knows how God will smite
In no degree, nor in which manner wise
The worm of conscience may agrise* frighten, horrify
Of wicked life, though it so privy be,
That no man knows thereof, save God and he;
For be he lewed* man or elles lear'd,** *ignorant **learned
He knows not how soon he shall be afear'd;
Therefore I rede* you this counsel take, *advise
Forsake sin, ere sinne you forsake.

Notes to the Doctor's Tale

1. Livy, Book iii. cap. 44, et seqq.

2. Faconde: utterance, speech; from Latin, "facundia," eloquence.

3. Slothe: other readings are "thought" and "youth."

4. Meschance: wickedness; French, "mechancete."

5. This line seems to be a kind of aside thrown in by Chaucer himself.

6. The various readings of this word are "churl," or "cherl," in the best manuscripts; "client" in the common editions, and "clerk" supported by two important manuscripts. "Client" would perhaps be the best reading, if it were not awkward for the metre; but between "churl" and ''clerk" there can be little doubt that Mr Wright chose wisely when he preferred the second.

7. Judges xi. 37, 38. "And she said unto her father, Let . . . me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. And he said, go."

8. Beguiled: "cast into gaol," according to Urry's explanation; though we should probably understand that, if Claudius had not been sent out of the country, his death would have been secretly contrived through private detestation.







 

THE PARDONER'S TALE.


THE PROLOGUE.

OUR Hoste gan to swear as he were wood;
"Harow!" quoth he, "by nailes and by blood, <1>
This was a cursed thief, a false justice.
As shameful death as hearte can devise
Come to these judges and their advoca's.* *advocates, counsellors
Algate* this sely** maid is slain, alas! *nevertheless **innocent
Alas! too deare bought she her beauty.
Wherefore I say, that all day man may see
That giftes of fortune and of nature
Be cause of death to many a creature.
Her beauty was her death, I dare well sayn;
Alas! so piteously as she was slain.
[Of bothe giftes, that I speak of now
Men have full often more harm than prow,*] *profit
But truely, mine owen master dear,
This was a piteous tale for to hear;
But natheless, pass over; 'tis *no force.* *no matter*
I pray to God to save thy gentle corse,* *body
And eke thine urinals, and thy jordans,
Thine Hippocras, and eke thy Galliens, <2>
And every boist* full of thy lectuary, *box <3>
God bless them, and our lady Sainte Mary.
So may I the',* thou art a proper man, *thrive
And like a prelate, by Saint Ronian;
Said I not well? Can I not speak *in term?* *in set form*
But well I wot thou dost* mine heart to erme,** *makest **grieve<4>
That I have almost caught a cardiacle:* *heartache <5>
By corpus Domini <6>, but* I have triacle,** *unless **a remedy
Or else a draught of moist and corny <7> ale,
Or but* I hear anon a merry tale, *unless
Mine heart is brost* for pity of this maid. *burst, broken
Thou *bel ami,* thou Pardoner," he said, *good friend*
"Tell us some mirth of japes* right anon." *jokes
"It shall be done," quoth he, "by Saint Ronion.
But first," quoth he, "here at this ale-stake* *ale-house sign <8>
I will both drink, and biten on a cake."
But right anon the gentles gan to cry,
"Nay, let him tell us of no ribaldry.
Tell us some moral thing, that we may lear* *learn
Some wit,* and thenne will we gladly hear." *wisdom, sense
"I grant y-wis,"* quoth he; "but I must think *surely
Upon some honest thing while that I drink."

Notes to the Prologue to the Pardoner's Tale

1. The nails and blood of Christ, by which it was then a fashion to swear.

2. Mediaeval medical writers; see note 36 to the Prologue to the Tales.

3. Boist: box; French "boite," old form "boiste."

4. Erme: grieve; from Anglo-Saxon, "earme," wretched.

5. Cardiacle: heartache; from Greek, "kardialgia."

6. Corpus Domini: God's body.

7. Corny ale: New and strong, nappy. As to "moist," see note 39 to the Prologue to the Tales.

8. (Transcriber's Note)In this scene the pilgrims are refreshing themselves at tables in front of an inn. The pardoner is drunk, which explains his boastful and revealing confession of his deceits.







THE TALE
<1>

Lordings (quoth he), in churche when I preach,
I paine me to have an hautein* speech, *take pains **loud <2>
And ring it out, as round as doth a bell,
For I know all by rote that I tell.
My theme is always one, and ever was;
Radix malorum est cupiditas.<3>
First I pronounce whence that I come,
And then my bulles shew I all and some;
Our liege lorde's seal on my patent,
That shew I first, *my body to warrent,* *for the protection
That no man be so hardy, priest nor clerk, of my person*
Me to disturb of Christe's holy werk.
And after that then tell I forth my tales.
Bulles of popes, and of cardinales,
Of patriarchs, and of bishops I shew,
And in Latin I speak a wordes few,
To savour with my predication,
And for to stir men to devotion
Then show I forth my longe crystal stones,
Y-crammed fall of cloutes* and of bones; *rags, fragments
Relics they be, as *weene they* each one. *as my listeners think*
Then have I in latoun* a shoulder-bone *brass
Which that was of a holy Jewe's sheep.
"Good men," say I, "take of my wordes keep;* *heed
If that this bone be wash'd in any well,
If cow, or calf, or sheep, or oxe swell,
That any worm hath eat, or worm y-stung,
Take water of that well, and wash his tongue,
And it is whole anon; and farthermore
Of pockes, and of scab, and every sore
Shall every sheep be whole, that of this well
Drinketh a draught; take keep* of that I tell. *heed

"If that the goodman, that the beastes oweth,* *owneth
Will every week, ere that the cock him croweth,
Fasting, y-drinken of this well a draught,
As thilke holy Jew our elders taught,
His beastes and his store shall multiply.
And, Sirs, also it healeth jealousy;
For though a man be fall'n in jealous rage,
Let make with this water his pottage,
And never shall he more his wife mistrist,* *mistrust
*Though he the sooth of her defaulte wist;* *though he truly
All had she taken priestes two or three. <4> knew her sin*
Here is a mittain* eke, that ye may see; *glove, mitten
He that his hand will put in this mittain,
He shall have multiplying of his grain,
When he hath sowen, be it wheat or oats,
So that he offer pence, or elles groats.
And, men and women, one thing warn I you;
If any wight be in this churche now
That hath done sin horrible, so that he
Dare not for shame of it y-shriven* be; *confessed
Or any woman, be she young or old,
That hath y-made her husband cokewold,* *cuckold
Such folk shall have no power nor no grace
To offer to my relics in this place.
And whoso findeth him out of such blame,
He will come up and offer in God's name;
And I assoil* him by the authority *absolve
Which that by bull y-granted was to me."

By this gaud* have I wonne year by year *jest, trick
A hundred marks, since I was pardonere.
I stande like a clerk in my pulpit,
And when the lewed* people down is set, *ignorant
I preache so as ye have heard before,
And telle them a hundred japes* more. *jests, deceits
Then pain I me to stretche forth my neck,
And east and west upon the people I beck,
As doth a dove, sitting on a bern;* *barn
My handes and my tongue go so yern,* *briskly
That it is joy to see my business.
Of avarice and of such cursedness* *wickedness
Is all my preaching, for to make them free
To give their pence, and namely* unto me. *especially
For mine intent is not but for to win,
And nothing for correction of sin.
I recke never, when that they be buried,
Though that their soules go a blackburied.<5>
For certes *many a predication *preaching is often inspired
Cometh oft-time of evil intention;* by evil motives*
Some for pleasance of folk, and flattery,
To be advanced by hypocrisy;
And some for vainglory, and some for hate.
For, when I dare not otherwise debate,
Then will I sting him with my tongue smart* *sharply
In preaching, so that he shall not astart* *escape
To be defamed falsely, if that he
Hath trespass'd* to my brethren or to me. *offended
For, though I telle not his proper name,
Men shall well knowe that it is the same
By signes, and by other circumstances.
Thus *quite I* folk that do us displeasances: *I am revenged on*
Thus spit I out my venom, under hue
Of holiness, to seem holy and true.
But, shortly mine intent I will devise,
I preach of nothing but of covetise.
Therefore my theme is yet, and ever was, —
Radix malorum est cupiditas. <3>
Thus can I preach against the same vice
Which that I use, and that is avarice.
But though myself be guilty in that sin,
Yet can I maken other folk to twin* *depart
From avarice, and sore them repent.
But that is not my principal intent;
I preache nothing but for covetise.
Of this mattere it ought enough suffice.
Then tell I them examples many a one,
Of olde stories longe time gone;
For lewed* people love tales old; *unlearned
Such thinges can they well report and hold.
What? trowe ye, that whiles I may preach
And winne gold and silver for* I teach, *because
That I will live in povert' wilfully?
Nay, nay, I thought it never truely.
For I will preach and beg in sundry lands;
I will not do no labour with mine hands,
Nor make baskets for to live thereby,
Because I will not beggen idlely.
I will none of the apostles counterfeit;* *imitate (in poverty)
I will have money, wool, and cheese, and wheat,
All* were it given of the poorest page, *even if
Or of the pooreste widow in a village:
All should her children sterve* for famine. *die
Nay, I will drink the liquor of the vine,
And have a jolly wench in every town.
But hearken, lordings, in conclusioun;
Your liking is, that I shall tell a tale
Now I have drunk a draught of corny ale,
By God, I hope I shall you tell a thing
That shall by reason be to your liking;
For though myself be a full vicious man,
A moral tale yet I you telle can,
Which I am wont to preache, for to win.
Now hold your peace, my tale I will begin.

In Flanders whilom was a company
Of younge folkes, that haunted folly,
As riot, hazard, stewes,* and taverns; *brothels
Where as with lutes, harpes, and giterns,* *guitars
They dance and play at dice both day and night,
And eat also, and drink over their might;
Through which they do the devil sacrifice
Within the devil's temple, in cursed wise,
By superfluity abominable.
Their oathes be so great and so damnable,
That it is grisly* for to hear them swear. *dreadful <6>
Our blissful Lorde's body they to-tear;* *tore to pieces <7>
Them thought the Jewes rent him not enough,
And each of them at other's sinne lough.* *laughed
And right anon in come tombesteres <8>
Fetis* and small, and younge fruitesteres.** *dainty **fruit-girls
Singers with harpes, baudes,* waferers,** *revellers **cake-sellers
Which be the very devil's officers,
To kindle and blow the fire of lechery,
That is annexed unto gluttony.
The Holy Writ take I to my witness,
That luxury is in wine and drunkenness. <9>
Lo, how that drunken Lot unkindely* *unnaturally
Lay by his daughters two unwittingly,
So drunk he was he knew not what he wrought.
Herodes, who so well the stories sought, <10>
When he of wine replete was at his feast,
Right at his owen table gave his hest* *command
To slay the Baptist John full guilteless.
Seneca saith a good word, doubteless:
He saith he can no difference find
Betwixt a man that is out of his mind,
And a man whiche that is drunkelew:* *a drunkard <11>
But that woodness,* y-fallen in a shrew,* *madness **one evil-tempered
Persevereth longer than drunkenness.

O gluttony, full of all cursedness;
O cause first of our confusion,
Original of our damnation,
Till Christ had bought us with his blood again!
Looke, how deare, shortly for to sayn,
Abought* was first this cursed villainy: *atoned for
Corrupt was all this world for gluttony.
Adam our father, and his wife also,
From Paradise, to labour and to woe,
Were driven for that vice, it is no dread.* *doubt
For while that Adam fasted, as I read,
He was in Paradise; and when that he
Ate of the fruit defended* of the tree, *forbidden <12>
Anon he was cast out to woe and pain.
O gluttony! well ought us on thee plain.
Oh! wist a man how many maladies
Follow of excess and of gluttonies,
He woulde be the more measurable* *moderate
Of his diete, sitting at his table.
Alas! the shorte throat, the tender mouth,
Maketh that east and west, and north and south,
In earth, in air, in water, men do swink* *labour
To get a glutton dainty meat and drink.
Of this mattere, O Paul! well canst thou treat
Meat unto womb,* and womb eke unto meat, *belly
Shall God destroye both, as Paulus saith. <13>
Alas! a foul thing is it, by my faith,
To say this word, and fouler is the deed,
When man so drinketh of the *white and red,* *i.e. wine*
That of his throat he maketh his privy
Through thilke cursed superfluity
The apostle saith, <14> weeping full piteously,
There walk many, of which you told have I, —
I say it now weeping with piteous voice, —
That they be enemies of Christe's crois;* *cross
Of which the end is death; womb* is their God. *belly
O womb, O belly, stinking is thy cod,* *bag <15>
Full fill'd of dung and of corruptioun;
At either end of thee foul is the soun.
How great labour and cost is thee to find!* *supply
These cookes how they stamp, and strain, and grind,
And turne substance into accident,
To fulfill all thy likerous talent!
Out of the harde bones knocke they
The marrow, for they caste naught away
That may go through the gullet soft and swoot* *sweet
Of spicery and leaves, of bark and root,
Shall be his sauce y-maked by delight,
To make him have a newer appetite.
But, certes, he that haunteth such delices
Is dead while that he liveth in those vices.

A lecherous thing is wine, and drunkenness
Is full of striving and of wretchedness.
O drunken man! disfgur'd is thy face,<16>
Sour is thy breath, foul art thou to embrace:
And through thy drunken nose sowneth the soun',
As though thous saidest aye, Samsoun! Samsoun!
And yet, God wot, Samson drank never wine.
Thou fallest as it were a sticked swine;
Thy tongue is lost, and all thine honest cure;* *care
For drunkenness is very sepulture* *tomb
Of manne's wit and his discretion.
In whom that drink hath domination,
He can no counsel keep, it is no dread.* *doubt
Now keep you from the white and from the red,
And namely* from the white wine of Lepe,<17> *especially
That is to sell in Fish Street <18> and in Cheap.
This wine of Spaine creepeth subtilly —
In other wines growing faste by,
Of which there riseth such fumosity,
That when a man hath drunken draughtes three,
And weeneth that he be at home in Cheap,
He is in Spain, right at the town of Lepe,
Not at the Rochelle, nor at Bourdeaux town;
And thenne will he say, Samsoun! Samsoun!
But hearken, lordings, one word, I you pray,
That all the sovreign actes, dare I say,
Of victories in the Old Testament,
Through very God that is omnipotent,
Were done in abstinence and in prayere:
Look in the Bible, and there ye may it lear.* *learn
Look, Attila, the greate conqueror,
Died in his sleep, <19> with shame and dishonour,
Bleeding aye at his nose in drunkenness:
A captain should aye live in soberness
And o'er all this, advise* you right well *consider, bethink
What was commanded unto Lemuel; <20>
Not Samuel, but Lemuel, say I.
Reade the Bible, and find it expressly
Of wine giving to them that have justice.
No more of this, for it may well suffice.

And, now that I have spoke of gluttony,
Now will I you *defende hazardry.* *forbid gambling*
Hazard is very mother of leasings,* *lies
And of deceit, and cursed forswearings:
Blasphem' of Christ, manslaughter, and waste also
Of chattel* and of time; and furthermo' *property
It is repreve,* and contrar' of honour, *reproach
For to be held a common hazardour.
And ever the higher he is of estate,
The more he is holden desolate.* *undone, worthless
If that a prince use hazardry,
In alle governance and policy
He is, as by common opinion,
Y-hold the less in reputation.

Chilon, that was a wise ambassador,
Was sent to Corinth with full great honor
From Lacedemon, <21> to make alliance;
And when he came, it happen'd him, by chance,
That all the greatest that were of that land,
Y-playing atte hazard he them fand.* *found
For which, as soon as that it mighte be,
He stole him home again to his country
And saide there, "I will not lose my name,
Nor will I take on me so great diffame,* *reproach
You to ally unto no hazardors.* *gamblers
Sende some other wise ambassadors,
For, by my troth, me were lever* die, *rather
Than I should you to hazardors ally.
For ye, that be so glorious in honours,
Shall not ally you to no hazardours,
As by my will, nor as by my treaty."
This wise philosopher thus said he.
Look eke how to the King Demetrius
The King of Parthes, as the book saith us,
Sent him a pair of dice of gold in scorn,
For he had used hazard therebeforn:
For which he held his glory and renown
At no value or reputatioun.
Lordes may finden other manner play
Honest enough to drive the day away.

Now will I speak of oathes false and great
A word or two, as olde bookes treat.
Great swearing is a thing abominable,
And false swearing is more reprovable.
The highe God forbade swearing at all;
Witness on Matthew: <22> but in special
Of swearing saith the holy Jeremie, <23>
Thou thalt swear sooth thine oathes, and not lie:
And swear in doom* and eke in righteousness; *judgement
But idle swearing is a cursedness.* *wickedness
Behold and see, there in the firste table
Of highe Godde's hestes* honourable, *commandments
How that the second best of him is this,
Take not my name in idle* or amiss. *in vain
Lo, rather* he forbiddeth such swearing, *sooner
Than homicide, or many a cursed thing;
I say that as by order thus it standeth;
This knoweth he that his hests* understandeth, *commandments
How that the second hest of God is that.
And farthermore, I will thee tell all plat,* *flatly, plainly
That vengeance shall not parte from his house,
That of his oathes is outrageous.
"By Godde's precious heart, and by his nails, <24>
And by the blood of Christ, that is in Hailes, <25>
Seven is my chance, and thine is cinque and trey:
By Godde's armes, if thou falsely play,
This dagger shall throughout thine hearte go."
This fruit comes of the *bicched bones two,* *two cursed bones (dice)*
Forswearing, ire, falseness, and homicide.
Now, for the love of Christ that for us died,
Leave your oathes, bothe great and smale.
But, Sirs, now will I ell you forth my tale.

These riotoures three, of which I tell,
Long *erst than* prime rang of any bell, *before
Were set them in a tavern for to drink;
And as they sat, they heard a belle clink
Before a corpse, was carried to the grave.
That one of them gan calle to his knave,* *servant
"Go bet," <26> quoth he, "and aske readily
What corpse is this, that passeth here forth by;
And look that thou report his name well."
"Sir," quoth the boy, "it needeth never a deal;* *whit
It was me told ere ye came here two hours;
He was, pardie, an old fellow of yours,
And suddenly he was y-slain to-night;
Fordrunk* as he sat on his bench upright, *completely drunk
There came a privy thief, men clepe Death,
That in this country all the people slay'th,
And with his spear he smote his heart in two,
And went his way withoute wordes mo'.
He hath a thousand slain this pestilence;
And, master, ere you come in his presence,
Me thinketh that it were full necessary
For to beware of such an adversary;
Be ready for to meet him evermore.
Thus taughte me my dame; I say no more."
"By Sainte Mary," said the tavernere,
"The child saith sooth, for he hath slain this year,
Hence ov'r a mile, within a great village,
Both man and woman, child, and hind, and page;
I trow his habitation be there;
To be advised* great wisdom it were, *watchful, on one's guard
Ere* that he did a man a dishonour." *lest

"Yea, Godde's armes," quoth this riotour,
"Is it such peril with him for to meet?
I shall him seek, by stile and eke by street.
I make a vow, by Godde's digne* bones." *worthy
Hearken, fellows, we three be alle ones:* *at one
Let each of us hold up his hand to other,
And each of us become the other's brother,
And we will slay this false traitor Death;
He shall be slain, he that so many slay'th,
By Godde's dignity, ere it be night."
Together have these three their trothe plight
To live and die each one of them for other
As though he were his owen sworen brother.
And up they start, all drunken, in this rage,
And forth they go towardes that village
Of which the taverner had spoke beforn,
And many a grisly* oathe have they sworn, *dreadful
And Christe's blessed body they to-rent;* *tore to pieces <7>
"Death shall be dead, if that we may him hent."* *catch
When they had gone not fully half a mile,
Right as they would have trodden o'er a stile,
An old man and a poore with them met.
This olde man full meekely them gret,* *greeted
And saide thus; "Now, lordes, God you see!"* *look on graciously
The proudest of these riotoures three
Answer'd again; "What? churl, with sorry grace,
Why art thou all forwrapped* save thy face? *closely wrapt up
Why livest thou so long in so great age?"
This olde man gan look on his visage,
And saide thus; "For that I cannot find
A man, though that I walked unto Ind,
Neither in city, nor in no village go,
That woulde change his youthe for mine age;
And therefore must I have mine age still
As longe time as it is Godde's will.
And Death, alas! he will not have my life.
Thus walk I like a resteless caitife,* *miserable wretch
And on the ground, which is my mother's gate,
I knocke with my staff, early and late,
And say to her, 'Leve* mother, let me in. *dear
Lo, how I wane, flesh, and blood, and skin;
Alas! when shall my bones be at rest?
Mother, with you I woulde change my chest,
That in my chamber longe time hath be,
Yea, for an hairy clout to *wrap in me.'* *wrap myself in*
But yet to me she will not do that grace,
For which fall pale and welked* is my face. *withered
But, Sirs, to you it is no courtesy
To speak unto an old man villainy,
But* he trespass in word or else in deed. *except
In Holy Writ ye may yourselves read;
'Against* an old man, hoar upon his head, *to meet
Ye should arise:' therefore I you rede,* *advise
Ne do unto an old man no harm now,
No more than ye would a man did you
In age, if that ye may so long abide.
And God be with you, whether ye go or ride
I must go thither as I have to go."

"Nay, olde churl, by God thou shalt not so,"
Saide this other hazardor anon;
"Thou partest not so lightly, by Saint John.
Thou spakest right now of that traitor Death,
That in this country all our friendes slay'th;
Have here my troth, as thou art his espy;* *spy
Tell where he is, or thou shalt it abie,* *suffer for
By God and by the holy sacrament;
For soothly thou art one of his assent
To slay us younge folk, thou false thief."
"Now, Sirs," quoth he, "if it be you so lief* *desire
To finde Death, turn up this crooked way,
For in that grove I left him, by my fay,
Under a tree, and there he will abide;
Nor for your boast he will him nothing hide.
See ye that oak? right there ye shall him find.
God save you, that bought again mankind,
And you amend!" Thus said this olde man;
And evereach of these riotoures ran,
Till they came to the tree, and there they found
Of florins fine, of gold y-coined round,
Well nigh a seven bushels, as them thought.
No longer as then after Death they sought;
But each of them so glad was of the sight,
For that the florins were so fair and bright,
That down they sat them by the precious hoard.
The youngest of them spake the firste word:
"Brethren," quoth he, "*take keep* what I shall say; *heed*
My wit is great, though that I bourde* and play *joke, frolic
This treasure hath Fortune unto us given
In mirth and jollity our life to liven;
And lightly as it comes, so will we spend.
Hey! Godde's precious dignity! who wend* *weened, thought
Today that we should have so fair a grace?
But might this gold he carried from this place
Home to my house, or elles unto yours
(For well I wot that all this gold is ours),
Then were we in high felicity.
But truely by day it may not be;
Men woulde say that we were thieves strong,
And for our owen treasure do us hong.* *have us hanged
This treasure muste carried be by night,
As wisely and as slily as it might.
Wherefore I rede,* that cut** among us all *advise **lots
We draw, and let see where the cut will fall:
And he that hath the cut, with hearte blithe
Shall run unto the town, and that full swithe,* *quickly
And bring us bread and wine full privily:
And two of us shall keepe subtilly
This treasure well: and if he will not tarry,
When it is night, we will this treasure carry,
By one assent, where as us thinketh best."
Then one of them the cut brought in his fist,
And bade them draw, and look where it would fall;
And it fell on the youngest of them all;
And forth toward the town he went anon.
And all so soon as that he was y-gone,
The one of them spake thus unto the other;
"Thou knowest well that thou art my sworn brother,
*Thy profit* will I tell thee right anon. *what is for thine
Thou knowest well that our fellow is gone, advantage*
And here is gold, and that full great plenty,
That shall departed* he among us three. *divided
But natheless, if I could shape* it so *contrive
That it departed were among us two,
Had I not done a friende's turn to thee?"
Th' other answer'd, "I n'ot* how that may be; *know not
He knows well that the gold is with us tway.
What shall we do? what shall we to him say?"
"Shall it be counsel?"* said the firste shrew;** *secret **wretch
"And I shall tell to thee in wordes few
What we shall do, and bring it well about."
"I grante," quoth the other, "out of doubt,
That by my truth I will thee not bewray."* *betray
"Now," quoth the first, "thou know'st well we be tway,
And two of us shall stronger be than one.
Look; when that he is set,* thou right anon *sat down
Arise, as though thou wouldest with him play;
And I shall rive* him through the sides tway, *stab
While that thou strugglest with him as in game;
And with thy dagger look thou do the same.
And then shall all this gold departed* be, *divided
My deare friend, betwixte thee and me:
Then may we both our lustes* all fulfil, *pleasures
And play at dice right at our owen will."
And thus accorded* be these shrewes** tway *agreed **wretches
To slay the third, as ye have heard me say.

The youngest, which that wente to the town,
Full oft in heart he rolled up and down
The beauty of these florins new and bright.
"O Lord!" quoth he, "if so were that I might
Have all this treasure to myself alone,
There is no man that lives under the throne
Of God, that shoulde have so merry as I."
And at the last the fiend our enemy
Put in his thought, that he should poison buy,
With which he mighte slay his fellows twy.* *two
For why, the fiend found him *in such living,* *leading such a
That he had leave to sorrow him to bring. (bad) life*
For this was utterly his full intent
To slay them both, and never to repent.
And forth he went, no longer would he tarry,
Into the town to an apothecary,
And prayed him that he him woulde sell
Some poison, that he might *his rattes quell,* *kill his rats*
And eke there was a polecat in his haw,* *farm-yard, hedge <27>
That, as he said, his eapons had y-slaw:* *slain
And fain he would him wreak,* if that he might, *revenge
Of vermin that destroyed him by night.
Th'apothecary answer'd, "Thou shalt have
A thing, as wisly* God my soule save, *surely
In all this world there is no creature
That eat or drank hath of this confecture,
Not but the mountance* of a corn of wheat, *amount
That he shall not his life *anon forlete;* *immediately lay down*
Yea, sterve* he shall, and that in lesse while *die
Than thou wilt go *apace* nought but a mile: *quickly*
This poison is so strong and violent."
This cursed man hath in his hand y-hent* *taken
This poison in a box, and swift he ran
Into the nexte street, unto a man,
And borrow'd of him large bottles three;
And in the two the poison poured he;
The third he kepte clean for his own drink,
For all the night he shope him* for to swink** *purposed **labour
In carrying off the gold out of that place.
And when this riotour, with sorry grace,
Had fill'd with wine his greate bottles three,

To his fellows again repaired he.
What needeth it thereof to sermon* more? *talk, discourse
For, right as they had cast* his death before, *plotted
Right so they have him slain, and that anon.
And when that this was done, thus spake the one;
"Now let us sit and drink, and make us merry,
And afterward we will his body bury."
And with that word it happen'd him *par cas* *by chance
To take the bottle where the poison was,
And drank, and gave his fellow drink also,
For which anon they sterved* both the two. *died
But certes I suppose that Avicen
Wrote never in no canon, nor no fen, <28>
More wondrous signes of empoisoning,
Than had these wretches two ere their ending.
Thus ended be these homicides two,
And eke the false empoisoner also.

O cursed sin, full of all cursedness!
O trait'rous homicide! O wickedness!
O glutt'ny, luxury, and hazardry!
Thou blasphemer of Christ with villany,* *outrage, impiety
And oathes great, of usage and of pride!
Alas! mankinde, how may it betide,
That to thy Creator, which that thee wrought,
And with his precious hearte-blood thee bought,
Thou art so false and so unkind,* alas! *unnatural
Now, good men, God forgive you your trespass,
And ware* you from the sin of avarice. *keep
Mine holy pardon may you all warice,* *heal
So that ye offer *nobles or sterlings,* *gold or silver coins*
Or elles silver brooches, spoons, or rings.
Bowe your head under this holy bull.
Come up, ye wives, and offer of your will;
Your names I enter in my roll anon;
Into the bliss of heaven shall ye gon;
I you assoil* by mine high powere, *absolve <29>
You that will offer, as clean and eke as clear
As ye were born. Lo, Sires, thus I preach;
And Jesus Christ, that is our soules' leech,* *healer
So grante you his pardon to receive;
For that is best, I will not deceive.

But, Sirs, one word forgot I in my tale;
I have relics and pardon in my mail,
As fair as any man in Engleland,
Which were me given by the Pope's hand.
If any of you will of devotion
Offer, and have mine absolution,
Come forth anon, and kneele here adown
And meekely receive my pardoun.
Or elles take pardon, as ye wend,* *go
All new and fresh at every towne's end,
So that ye offer, always new and new,
Nobles or pence which that be good and true.
'Tis an honour to evereach* that is here, *each one
That ye have a suffisant* pardonere *suitable
T'assoile* you in country as ye ride, *absolve
For aventures which that may betide.
Paraventure there may fall one or two
Down of his horse, and break his neck in two.
Look, what a surety is it to you all,
That I am in your fellowship y-fall,
That may assoil* you bothe *more and lass,* *absolve
When that the soul shall from the body pass. *great and small*
I rede* that our Hoste shall begin, *advise
For he is most enveloped in sin.
Come forth, Sir Host, and offer first anon,
And thou shalt kiss; the relics every one,
Yea, for a groat; unbuckle anon thy purse.

"Nay, nay," quoth he, "then have I Christe's curse!
Let be," quoth he, "it shall not be, *so the'ch.* *so may I thrive*
Thou wouldest make me kiss thine olde breech,
And swear it were a relic of a saint,
Though it were with thy *fundament depaint'.* *stained by your bottom*
But, by the cross which that Saint Helen fand,* *found <30>
I would I had thy coilons* in mine hand, *testicles
Instead of relics, or of sanctuary.
Let cut them off, I will thee help them carry;
They shall be shrined in a hogge's turd."
The Pardoner answered not one word;
So wroth he was, no worde would he say.

"Now," quoth our Host, "I will no longer play
With thee, nor with none other angry man."
But right anon the worthy Knight began
(When that he saw that all the people lough*), *laughed
"No more of this, for it is right enough.
Sir Pardoner, be merry and glad of cheer;
And ye, Sir Host, that be to me so dear,
I pray you that ye kiss the Pardoner;
And, Pardoner, I pray thee draw thee ner,* *nearer
And as we didde, let us laugh and play."
Anon they kiss'd, and rode forth their way.

Notes to the Pardoner's Tale

1. The outline of this Tale is to be found in the "Cento Novelle Antiche," but the original is now lost. As in the case of the Wife of Bath's Tale, there is a long prologue, but in this case it has been treated as part of the Tale.

2. Hautein: loud, lofty; from French, "hautain."

3. Radix malorum est cupiditas: "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim.vi. 10)

4.All had she taken priestes two or three: even if she had committed adultery with two or three priests.

5. Blackburied: The meaning of this is not very clear, but it is probably a periphrastic and picturesque way of indicating damnation.

6. Grisly: dreadful; fitted to "agrise" or horrify the listener.

7. Mr Wright says: "The common oaths in the Middle Ages were by the different parts of God's body; and the popular preachers represented that profane swearers tore Christ's body by their imprecations." The idea was doubtless borrowed from the passage in Hebrews (vi. 6), where apostates are said to "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame."

8. Tombesteres: female dancers or tumblers; from Anglo- Saxon, "tumban," to dance.

9. "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess." Eph. v.18.

10. The reference is probably to the diligent inquiries Herod made at the time of Christ's birth. See Matt. ii. 4-8

11. A drunkard. "Perhaps," says Tyrwhitt, "Chaucer refers to Epist. LXXXIII., 'Extende in plures dies illum ebrii habitum; nunquid de furore dubitabis? nunc quoque non est minor sed brevior.'" ("Prolong the drunkard's condition to several days; will you doubt his madness? Even as it is, the madness is no less; merely shorter.")

12. Defended: forbidden; French, "defendu." St Jerome, in his book against Jovinian, says that so long as Adam fasted, he was in Paradise; he ate, and he was thrust out.

13. "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God shall destroy both it and them." 1 Cor. vi. 13.

14. "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." Phil. iii. 18, 19.

15. Cod: bag; Anglo-Saxon, "codde;" hence peas-cod, pin-cod (pin-cushion), &c.

16. Compare with the lines which follow, the picture of the drunken messenger in the Man of Law's Tale.

17. Lepe: A town near Cadiz, whence a stronger wine than the Gascon vintages afforded was imported to England. French wine was often adulterated with the cheaper and stronger Spanish.

18. Another reading is "Fleet Street."

19. Attila was suffocated in the night by a haemorrhage, brought on by a debauch, when he was preparing a new invasion of Italy, in 453.

20. "It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink; lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted." Prov. xxxi. 4, 5.

21. Most manuscripts, evidently in error, have "Stilbon" and "Calidone" for Chilon and Lacedaemon. Chilon was one of the seven sages of Greece, and flourished about B.C. 590. According to Diogenes Laertius, he died, under the pressure of age and joy, in the arms of his son, who had just been crowned victor at the Olympic games.

22. "Swear not at all;" Christ's words in Matt. v. 34.

23. "And thou shalt swear, the lord liveth in truth, in judgement, and in righteousness." Jeremiah iv. 2

24. The nails that fastened Christ on the cross, which were regarded with superstitious reverence.

25. Hailes: An abbey in Gloucestershire, where, under the designation of "the blood of Hailes," a portion of Christ's blood was preserved.

26. Go bet: a hunting phrase; apparently its force is, "go beat up the game."

27. Haw; farm-yard, hedge Compare the French, "haie."

28. Avicen, or Avicenna, was among the distinguished physicians of the Arabian school in the eleventh century, and very popular in the Middle Ages. His great work was called "Canon Medicinae," and was divided into "fens," "fennes," or sections.

29. Assoil: absolve. compare the Scotch law-term "assoilzie," to acquit.

30. Saint Helen, according to Sir John Mandeville, found the cross of Christ deep below ground, under a rock, where the Jews had hidden it; and she tested the genuineness of the sacred tree, by raising to life a dead man laid upon it.

 







THE SHIPMAN'S TALE.



<1>

THE PROLOGUE

Our Host upon his stirrups stood anon,
And saide; "Good men, hearken every one,
This was a thrifty* tale for the nones. *discreet, profitable
Sir Parish Priest," quoth he, "for Godde's bones,
Tell us a tale, as was thy *forword yore:* *promise formerly*
I see well that ye learned men in lore
Can* muche good, by Godde's dignity." *know
The Parson him answer'd, "Ben'dicite!
What ails the man, so sinfully to swear?"
Our Host answer'd, "O Jankin, be ye there?
Now, good men," quoth our Host, "hearken to me.
I smell a Lollard <2> in the wind," quoth he.
"Abide, for Godde's digne* passion, *worthy
For we shall have a predication:
This Lollard here will preachen us somewhat."
"Nay, by my father's soul, that shall he not,
Saide the Shipman; "Here shall he not preach,
He shall no gospel glose* here nor teach. *comment upon
We all believe in the great God," quoth he.
"He woulde sowe some difficulty,
Or springe cockle <3> in our cleane corn.
And therefore, Host, I warne thee beforn,
My jolly body shall a tale tell,
And I shall clinke you so merry a bell,
That I shall waken all this company;
But it shall not be of philosophy,
Nor of physic, nor termes quaint of law;
There is but little Latin in my maw."* *belly

Notes to the Prologue to the Shipman's Tale

1. The Prologue here given was transferred by Tyrwhitt from the place, preceding the Squire's Tale, which it had formerly occupied; the Shipman's Tale having no Prologue in the best manuscripts.

2. Lollard: A contemptuous name for the followers of Wyckliffe; presumably derived from the Latin, "lolium," tares, as if they were the tares among the Lord's wheat; so, a few lines below, the Shipman intimates his fear lest the Parson should "spring cockle in our clean corn."

3. Cockle: A weed, the "Agrostemma githago" of Linnaeus; perhaps named from the Anglo-Saxon, "ceocan," because it chokes the corn. (Transcriber's note: It is also possible Chaucer had in mind Matthew 13:25, where in some translations, an enemy sowed "cockle" amongst the wheat. (Other translations have "tares" and "darnel".))



 

THE TALE.
<1>

A Merchant whilom dwell'd at Saint Denise,
That riche was, for which men held him wise.
A wife he had of excellent beauty,
And *companiable and revellous* was she, *fond of society and
Which is a thing that causeth more dispence merry making*
Than worth is all the cheer and reverence
That men them do at feastes and at dances.
Such salutations and countenances
Passen, as doth the shadow on the wall;
Put woe is him that paye must for all.
The sely* husband algate** he must pay, *innocent **always
He must us <2> clothe and he must us array
All for his owen worship richely:
In which array we dance jollily.
And if that he may not, paraventure,
Or elles list not such dispence endure,
But thinketh it is wasted and y-lost,
Then must another paye for our cost,
Or lend us gold, and that is perilous.

This noble merchant held a noble house;
For which he had all day so great repair,* *resort of visitors
For his largesse, and for his wife was fair,
That wonder is; but hearken to my tale.
Amonges all these guestes great and smale,
There was a monk, a fair man and a bold,
I trow a thirty winter he was old,
That ever-in-one* was drawing to that place. *constantly
This younge monk, that was so fair of face,
Acquainted was so with this goode man,
Since that their firste knowledge began,
That in his house as familiar was he
As it is possible any friend to be.
And, for as muchel as this goode man,
And eke this monk of which that I began,
Were both the two y-born in one village,
The monk *him claimed, as for cousinage,* *claimed kindred
And he again him said not once nay, with him*
But was as glad thereof as fowl of day;
"For to his heart it was a great pleasance.
Thus be they knit with etern' alliance,
And each of them gan other to assure
Of brotherhood while that their life may dure.
Free was Dan <3> John, and namely* of dispence,** *especially **spending
As in that house, and full of diligence
To do pleasance, and also *great costage;* *liberal outlay*
He not forgot to give the leaste page
In all that house; but, after their degree,
He gave the lord, and sithen* his meinie,** *afterwards **servants
When that he came, some manner honest thing;
For which they were as glad of his coming
As fowl is fain when that the sun upriseth.
No more of this as now, for it sufficeth.

But so befell, this merchant on a day
Shope* him to make ready his array *resolved, arranged
Toward the town of Bruges <4> for to fare,
To buye there a portion of ware;* *merchandise
For which he hath to Paris sent anon
A messenger, and prayed hath Dan John
That he should come to Saint Denis, and play* *enjoy himself
With him, and with his wife, a day or tway,
Ere he to Bruges went, in alle wise.
This noble monk, of which I you devise,* *tell
Had of his abbot, as him list, licence,
(Because he was a man of high prudence,
And eke an officer out for to ride,
To see their granges and their barnes wide); <5>
And unto Saint Denis he came anon.
Who was so welcome as my lord Dan John,
Our deare cousin, full of courtesy?
With him he brought a jub* of malvesie, *jug
And eke another full of fine vernage, <6>
And volatile,* as aye was his usage: *wild-fowl
And thus I let them eat, and drink, and play,
This merchant and this monk, a day or tway.
The thirde day the merchant up ariseth,
And on his needeis sadly him adviseth;
And up into his countour-house* went he, *counting-house <7>
To reckon with himself as well may be,
Of thilke* year, how that it with him stood, *that
And how that he dispended bad his good,
And if that he increased were or non.
His bookes and his bagges many a one
He laid before him on his counting-board.
Full riche was his treasure and his hoard;
For which full fast his countour door he shet;
And eke he would that no man should him let* *hinder
Of his accountes, for the meane time:
And thus he sat, till it was passed prime.

Dan John was risen in the morn also,
And in the garden walked to and fro,
And had his thinges said full courteously.
The good wife came walking full privily
Into the garden, where he walked soft,
And him saluted, as she had done oft;
A maiden child came in her company,
Which as her list she might govern and gie,* *guide
For yet under the yarde* was the maid. *rod <8>
"O deare cousin mine, Dan John," she said,
"What aileth you so rath* for to arise?" *early
"Niece," quoth he, "it ought enough suffice
Five houres for to sleep upon a night;'
But* it were for an old appalled** wight, *unless **pallid, wasted
As be these wedded men, that lie and dare,* *stare
As in a forme sits a weary hare,
Alle forstraught* with houndes great and smale; *distracted, confounded
But, deare niece, why be ye so pale?
I trowe certes that our goode man
Hath you so laboured, since this night began,
That you were need to reste hastily."
And with that word he laugh'd full merrily,
And of his owen thought he wax'd all red.
This faire wife gan for to shake her head,
And saide thus; "Yea, God wot all" quoth she.
"Nay, cousin mine, it stands not so with me;
For by that God, that gave me soul and life,
In all the realm of France is there no wife
That lesse lust hath to that sorry play;
For I may sing alas and well-away!
That I was born; but to no wight," quoth she,
"Dare I not tell how that it stands with me.
Wherefore I think out of this land to wend,
Or elles of myself to make an end,
So full am I of dread and eke of care."

This monk began upon this wife to stare,
And said, "Alas! my niece, God forbid
That ye for any sorrow, or any dread,
Fordo* yourself: but telle me your grief, *destroy
Paraventure I may, in your mischief,* *distress
Counsel or help; and therefore telle me
All your annoy, for it shall be secre.
For on my portos* here I make an oath, *breviary
That never in my life, *for lief nor loth,* *willing or unwilling*
Ne shall I of no counsel you bewray."
"The same again to you," quoth she, "I say.
By God and by this portos I you swear,
Though men me woulden all in pieces tear,
Ne shall I never, for* to go to hell, *though I should
Bewray* one word of thing that ye me tell, *betray
For no cousinage, nor alliance,
But verily for love and affiance."* *confidence, promise
Thus be they sworn, and thereupon they kiss'd,
And each of them told other what them list.
"Cousin," quoth she, "if that I hadde space,
As I have none, and namely* in this place, *specially
Then would I tell a legend of my life,
What I have suffer'd since I was a wife
With mine husband, all* be he your cousin. *although
"Nay," quoth this monk, "by God and Saint Martin,
He is no more cousin unto me,
Than is the leaf that hangeth on the tree;
I call him so, by Saint Denis of France,
To have the more cause of acquaintance
Of you, which I have loved specially
Aboven alle women sickerly,* *surely
This swear I you *on my professioun;* *by my vows of religion
Tell me your grief, lest that he come adown,
And hasten you, and go away anon."

"My deare love," quoth she, "O my Dan John,
Full lief* were me this counsel for to hide, *pleasant
But out it must, I may no more abide.
My husband is to me the worste man
That ever was since that the world began;
But since I am a wife, it sits* not me *becomes
To telle no wight of our privity,
Neither in bed, nor in none other place;
God shield* I shoulde tell it for his grace; *forbid
A wife shall not say of her husband
But all honour, as I can understand;
Save unto you thus much I telle shall;
As help me God, he is nought worth at all
In no degree, the value of a fly.
But yet me grieveth most his niggardy.* *stinginess
And well ye wot, that women naturally
Desire thinges six, as well as I.
They woulde that their husbands shoulde be
Hardy,* and wise, and rich, and thereto free, *brave
And buxom* to his wife, and fresh in bed. *yielding, obedient
But, by that ilke* Lord that for us bled, *same
For his honour myself for to array,
On Sunday next I muste needes pay
A hundred francs, or elles am I lorn.* *ruined, undone
Yet *were me lever* that I were unborn, *I would rather*
Than me were done slander or villainy.
And if mine husband eke might it espy,
I were but lost; and therefore I you pray,
Lend me this sum, or elles must I dey.* *die
Dan John, I say, lend me these hundred francs;
Pardie, I will not faile you, *my thanks,* *if I can help it*
If that you list to do that I you pray;
For at a certain day I will you pay,
And do to you what pleasance and service
That I may do, right as you list devise.
And but* I do, God take on me vengeance, *unless
As foul as e'er had Ganilion <9> of France."

This gentle monk answer'd in this mannere;
"Now truely, mine owen lady dear,
I have," quoth he, "on you so greate ruth,* *pity
That I you swear, and plighte you my truth,
That when your husband is to Flanders fare,* *gone
I will deliver you out of this care,
For I will bringe you a hundred francs."
And with that word he caught her by the flanks,
And her embraced hard, and kissed her oft.
"Go now your way," quoth he, "all still and soft,
And let us dine as soon as that ye may,
For by my cylinder* 'tis prime of day; *portable sundial
Go now, and be as true as I shall be ."
"Now elles God forbidde, Sir," quoth she;
And forth she went, as jolly as a pie,
And bade the cookes that they should them hie,* *make haste
So that men mighte dine, and that anon.
Up to her husband is this wife gone,
And knocked at his contour boldely.
*"Qui est la?"* quoth he. "Peter! it am I," *who is there?*
Quoth she; "What, Sir, how longe all will ye fast?
How longe time will ye reckon and cast
Your summes, and your bookes, and your things?
The devil have part of all such reckonings!
Ye have enough, pardie, of Godde's sond.* *sending, gifts
Come down to-day, and let your bagges stond.* *stand
Ne be ye not ashamed, that Dan John
Shall fasting all this day elenge* gon? *see note <10>
What? let us hear a mass, and go we dine."
"Wife," quoth this man, "little canst thou divine
The curious businesse that we have;
For of us chapmen,* all so God me save, *merchants
And by that lord that cleped is Saint Ive,
Scarcely amonges twenty, ten shall thrive
Continually, lasting unto our age.
We may well make cheer and good visage,
And drive forth the world as it may be,
And keepen our estate in privity,
Till we be dead, or elles that we play
A pilgrimage, or go out of the way.
And therefore have I great necessity
Upon this quaint* world to advise** me. *strange **consider
For evermore must we stand in dread
Of hap and fortune in our chapmanhead.* *trading
To Flanders will I go to-morrow at day,
And come again as soon as e'er I may:
For which, my deare wife, I thee beseek *beseech
As be to every wight buxom* and meek, *civil, courteous
And for to keep our good be curious,
And honestly governe well our house.
Thou hast enough, in every manner wise,
That to a thrifty household may suffice.
Thee lacketh none array, nor no vitail;
Of silver in thy purse thou shalt not fail."

And with that word his contour door he shet,* *shut
And down he went; no longer would he let;* *delay, hinder
And hastily a mass was there said,
And speedily the tables were laid,
And to the dinner faste they them sped,
And richely this monk the chapman fed.
And after dinner Dan John soberly
This chapman took apart, and privily
He said him thus: "Cousin, it standeth so,
That, well I see, to Bruges ye will go;
God and Saint Austin speede you and guide.
I pray you, cousin, wisely that ye ride:
Governe you also of your diet
Attemperly,* and namely** in this heat. *moderately
Betwixt us two needeth no *strange fare;* *ado, ceremony*
Farewell, cousin, God shielde you from care.
If any thing there be, by day or night,
If it lie in my power and my might,
That ye me will command in any wise,
It shall be done, right as ye will devise.
But one thing ere ye go, if it may be;
I woulde pray you for to lend to me
A hundred frankes, for a week or twy,
For certain beastes that I muste buy,
To store with a place that is ours
(God help me so, I would that it were yours);
I shall not faile surely of my day,
Not for a thousand francs, a mile way.
But let this thing be secret, I you pray;
For yet to-night these beastes must I buy.
And fare now well, mine owen cousin dear;
*Grand mercy* of your cost and of your cheer." *great thanks*

This noble merchant gentilly* anon *like a gentleman
Answer'd and said, "O cousin mine, Dan John,
Now sickerly this is a small request:
My gold is youres, when that it you lest,
And not only my gold, but my chaffare;* *merchandise
Take what you list, *God shielde that ye spare.* *God forbid that you
But one thing is, ye know it well enow should take too little*
Of chapmen, that their money is their plough.
We may creance* while we have a name, *obtain credit
But goldless for to be it is no game.
Pay it again when it lies in your ease;
After my might full fain would I you please."

These hundred frankes set he forth anon,
And privily he took them to Dan John;
No wight in all this world wist of this loan,
Saving the merchant and Dan John alone.
They drink, and speak, and roam a while, and play,
Till that Dan John rode unto his abbay.
The morrow came, and forth this merchant rideth
To Flanders-ward, his prentice well him guideth,
Till he came unto Bruges merrily.
Now went this merchant fast and busily
About his need, and buyed and creanced;* *got credit
He neither played at the dice, nor danced;
But as a merchant, shortly for to tell,
He led his life; and there I let him dwell.

The Sunday next* the merchant was y-gone, *after
To Saint Denis y-comen is Dan John,
With crown and beard all fresh and newly shave,
In all the house was not so little a knave,* *servant-boy
Nor no wight elles that was not full fain
For that my lord Dan John was come again.
And shortly to the point right for to gon,
The faire wife accorded with Dan John,
That for these hundred francs he should all night
Have her in his armes bolt upright;
And this accord performed was in deed.
In mirth all night a busy life they lead,
Till it was day, that Dan John went his way,
And bade the meinie* "Farewell; have good day." *servants
For none of them, nor no wight in the town,
Had of Dan John right no suspicioun;
And forth he rode home to his abbay,
Or where him list; no more of him I say.

The merchant, when that ended was the fair,
To Saint Denis he gan for to repair,
And with his wife he made feast and cheer,
And tolde her that chaffare* was so dear, *merchandise
That needes must he make a chevisance;* *loan <11>
For he was bound in a recognisance
To paye twenty thousand shields* anon. *crowns, ecus
For which this merchant is to Paris gone,
To borrow of certain friendes that he had
A certain francs, and some with him he lad.* *took
And when that he was come into the town,
For great cherte* and great affectioun *love
Unto Dan John he wente first to play;
Not for to borrow of him no money,
Bat for to weet* and see of his welfare, *know
And for to telle him of his chaffare,
As friendes do, when they be met in fere.* *company
Dan John him made feast and merry cheer;
And he him told again full specially,
How he had well y-bought and graciously
(Thanked be God) all whole his merchandise;
Save that he must, in alle manner wise,
Maken a chevisance, as for his best;
And then he shoulde be in joy and rest.
Dan John answered, "Certes, I am fain* *glad
That ye in health be come borne again:
And if that I were rich, as have I bliss,
Of twenty thousand shields should ye not miss,
For ye so kindely the other day
Lente me gold, and as I can and may
I thanke you, by God and by Saint Jame.
But natheless I took unto our Dame,
Your wife at home, the same gold again,
Upon your bench; she wot it well, certain,
By certain tokens that I can her tell
Now, by your leave, I may no longer dwell;
Our abbot will out of this town anon,
And in his company I muste gon.
Greet well our Dame, mine owen niece sweet,
And farewell, deare cousin, till we meet.

This merchant, which that was full ware and wise,
*Creanced hath,* and paid eke in Paris *had obtained credit*
To certain Lombards ready in their hond
The sum of gold, and got of them his bond,
And home he went, merry as a popinjay.* *parrot
For well he knew he stood in such array
That needes must he win in that voyage
A thousand francs, above all his costage.* *expenses
His wife full ready met him at the gate,
As she was wont of old usage algate* *always
And all that night in mirthe they beset;* *spent
For he was rich, and clearly out of debt.
When it was day, the merchant gan embrace
His wife all new, and kiss'd her in her face,
And up he went, and maked it full tough.

"No more," quoth she, "by God ye have enough;"
And wantonly again with him she play'd,
Till at the last this merchant to her said.
"By God," quoth he, "I am a little wroth
With you, my wife, although it be me loth;
And wot ye why? by God, as that I guess,
That ye have made a *manner strangeness* *a kind of estrangement*
Betwixte me and my cousin, Dan John.
Ye should have warned me, ere I had gone,
That he you had a hundred frankes paid
By ready token; he *had him evil apaid* *was displeased*
For that I to him spake of chevisance,* *borrowing
(He seemed so as by his countenance);
But natheless, by God of heaven king,
I thoughte not to ask of him no thing.
I pray thee, wife, do thou no more so.
Tell me alway, ere that I from thee go,
If any debtor hath in mine absence
Y-payed thee, lest through thy negligence
I might him ask a thing that he hath paid."

This wife was not afeared nor afraid,
But boldely she said, and that anon;
"Mary! I defy that false monk Dan John,
I keep* not of his tokens never a deal:** *care **whit
He took me certain gold, I wot it well. —
What? evil thedom* on his monke's snout! — *thriving
For, God it wot, I ween'd withoute doubt
That he had given it me, because of you,
To do therewith mine honour and my prow,* *profit
For cousinage, and eke for belle cheer
That he hath had full often here.
But since I see I stand in such disjoint,* *awkward position
I will answer you shortly to the point.
Ye have more slacke debtors than am I;
For I will pay you well and readily,
From day to day, and if so be I fail,
I am your wife, score it upon my tail,
And I shall pay as soon as ever I may.
For, by my troth, I have on mine array,
And not in waste, bestow'd it every deal.
And, for I have bestowed it so well,
For your honour, for Godde's sake I say,
As be not wroth, but let us laugh and play.
Ye shall my jolly body have *to wed;* *in pledge*
By God, I will not pay you but in bed;
Forgive it me, mine owen spouse dear;
Turn hitherward, and make better cheer."

The merchant saw none other remedy;
And for to chide, it were but a folly,
Since that the thing might not amended be.
"Now, wife," he said, "and I forgive it thee;
But by thy life be no more so large;* *liberal, lavish
Keep better my good, this give I thee in charge."
Thus endeth now my tale; and God us send
Taling enough, until our lives' end!

Notes to the Shipman's Tale

1. In this Tale Chaucer seems to have followed an old French story, which also formed the groundwork of the first story in the eighth day of the "Decameron."

2. "He must us clothe": So in all the manuscripts and from this and the following lines, it must be inferred that Chaucer had intended to put the Tale in the mouth of a female speaker.

3. Dan: a title bestowed on priests and scholars; from "Dominus," like the Spanish "Don".

4. Bruges was in Chaucer's time the great emporium of European commerce.

5. The monk had been appointed by his abbot to inspect and manage the rural property of the monastery.

6. Malvesie or Malmesy wine derived its name from Malvasia, a region of the Morea near Cape Malea, where it was made, as it also was on Chios and some other Greek islands. Vernage was "vernaccia", a sweet Italian wine.

7. Contour-house: counting-house; French, "comptoir."

8. Under the yarde: under the rod; in pupillage; a phrase properly used of children, but employed by the Clerk in the prologue to his tale. See note 1 to the Prologue to the Clerk's Tale.

9. Genelon, Ganelon, or Ganilion; one of Charlemagne's officers, whose treachery was the cause of the disastrous defeat of the Christians by the Saracens at Roncevalles; he was torn to pieces by four horses.

10. Elenge: From French, "eloigner," to remove; it may mean either the lonely, cheerless condition of the priest, or the strange behaviour of the merchant in leaving him to himself.

11. Make a chevisance: raise money by means of a borrowing agreement; from French, "achever," to finish; the general meaning of the word is a bargain, an agreement.







 

THE PRIORESS'S TALE.


THE PROLOGUE.

"WELL said, by *corpus Domini,"* quoth our Host; *the Lord's body*
"Now longe may'st thou saile by the coast,
Thou gentle Master, gentle Marinere.
God give the monk *a thousand last quad year!* *ever so much evil* <1>
Aha! fellows, beware of such a jape.* *trick
The monk *put in the manne's hood an ape,* *fooled him*
And in his wife's eke, by Saint Austin.
Drawe no monkes more into your inn.
But now pass over, and let us seek about,
Who shall now telle first of all this rout
Another tale;" and with that word he said,
As courteously as it had been a maid;
"My Lady Prioresse, by your leave,
So that I wist I shoulde you not grieve,* *offend
I woulde deeme* that ye telle should *judge, decide
A tale next, if so were that ye would.
Now will ye vouchesafe, my lady dear?"
"Gladly," quoth she; and said as ye shall hear.

Notes to the Prologue to the Prioress's Tale.

1. A thousand last quad year: ever so much evil. "Last" means a load, "quad," bad; and literally we may read "a thousand weight of bad years." The Italians use "mal anno" in the same sense.



THE TALE.

<1>

O Lord our Lord! thy name how marvellous
Is in this large world y-spread! <2> (quoth she)
For not only thy laude* precious *praise
Performed is by men of high degree,
But by the mouth of children thy bounte* *goodness
Performed is, for on the breast sucking
Sometimes showe they thy herying.* <3> *glory

Wherefore in laud, as I best can or may
Of thee, and of the white lily flow'r
Which that thee bare, and is a maid alway,
To tell a story I will do my labour;
Not that I may increase her honour,
For she herselven is honour and root
Of bounte, next her son, and soules' boot.* *help

O mother maid, O maid and mother free!* *bounteous
O bush unburnt, burning in Moses' sight,
That ravished'st down from the deity,
Through thy humbless, the ghost that in thee light; <4>
Of whose virtue, when he thine hearte light,* *lightened, gladdened
Conceived was the Father's sapience;
Help me to tell it to thy reverence.

Lady! thy bounty, thy magnificence,
Thy virtue, and thy great humility,
There may no tongue express in no science:
For sometimes, Lady! ere men pray to thee,
Thou go'st before, of thy benignity,
And gettest us the light, through thy prayere,
To guiden us unto thy son so dear.

My conning* is so weak, O blissful queen, *skill, ability
For to declare thy great worthiness,
That I not may the weight of it sustene;
But as a child of twelvemonth old, or less,
That can unnethes* any word express, *scarcely
Right so fare I; and therefore, I you pray,
Guide my song that I shall of you say.

There was in Asia, in a great city,
Amonges Christian folk, a Jewery,<5>
Sustained by a lord of that country,
For foul usure, and lucre of villainy,
Hateful to Christ, and to his company;
And through the street men mighte ride and wend,* *go, walk
For it was free, and open at each end.

A little school of Christian folk there stood
Down at the farther end, in which there were
Children an heap y-come of Christian blood,
That learned in that schoole year by year
Such manner doctrine as men used there;
This is to say, to singen and to read,
As smalle children do in their childhead.

Among these children was a widow's son,
A little clergion,* seven year of age, *young clerk or scholar
That day by day to scholay* was his won,** *study **wont
And eke also, whereso he saw th' image
Of Christe's mother, had he in usage,
As him was taught, to kneel adown, and say
Ave Maria as he went by the way.

Thus had this widow her little son y-taught
Our blissful Lady, Christe's mother dear,
To worship aye, and he forgot it not;
For sely* child will always soone lear.** *innocent **learn
But aye when I remember on this mattere,
Saint Nicholas <6> stands ever in my presence;
For he so young to Christ did reverence.

This little child his little book learning,
As he sat in the school at his primere,
He Alma redemptoris <7> hearde sing,
As children learned their antiphonere; <8>
And as he durst, he drew him nere and nere,* *nearer
And hearken'd aye the wordes and the note,
Till he the firste verse knew all by rote.

Nought wist he what this Latin was tosay,* *meant
For he so young and tender was of age;
But on a day his fellow gan he pray
To expound him this song in his language,
Or tell him why this song was in usage:
This pray'd he him to construe and declare,
Full oftentime upon his knees bare.

His fellow, which that elder was than he,
Answer'd him thus: "This song, I have heard say,
Was maked of our blissful Lady free,
Her to salute, and eke her to pray
To be our help and succour when we dey.* *die
I can no more expound in this mattere:
I learne song, I know but small grammere."

"And is this song y-made in reverence
Of Christe's mother?" said this innocent;
Now certes I will do my diligence
To conne* it all, ere Christemas be went; *learn; con
Though that I for my primer shall be shent,* *disgraced
And shall be beaten thries in an hour,
I will it conne, our Lady to honour."

His fellow taught him homeward* privily *on the way home
From day to day, till he coud* it by rote, *knew
And then he sang it well and boldely
From word to word according with the note;
Twice in a day it passed through his throat;
To schoole-ward, and homeward when he went;
On Christ's mother was set all his intent.

As I have said, throughout the Jewery,
This little child, as he came to and fro,
Full merrily then would he sing and cry,
O Alma redemptoris, evermo';
The sweetness hath his hearte pierced so
Of Christe's mother, that to her to pray
He cannot stint* of singing by the way. *cease

Our firste foe, the serpent Satanas,
That hath in Jewes' heart his waspe's nest,
Upswell'd and said, "O Hebrew people, alas!
Is this to you a thing that is honest,* *creditable, becoming
That such a boy shall walken as him lest
In your despite, and sing of such sentence,
Which is against your lawe's reverence?"

From thenceforth the Jewes have conspired
This innocent out of the world to chase;
A homicide thereto have they hired,
That in an alley had a privy place,
And, as the child gan forth by for to pace,
This cursed Jew him hent,* and held him fast *seized
And cut his throat, and in a pit him cast.

I say that in a wardrobe* he him threw, *privy
Where as the Jewes purged their entrail.
O cursed folk! O Herodes all new!
What may your evil intente you avail?
Murder will out, certain it will not fail,
And namely* where th' honour of God shall spread; *especially
The blood out crieth on your cursed deed.

O martyr souded* to virginity, *confirmed <9>
Now may'st thou sing, and follow ever-in-one* *continually
The white Lamb celestial (quoth she),
Of which the great Evangelist Saint John
In Patmos wrote, which saith that they that gon
Before this Lamb, and sing a song all new,
That never fleshly woman they ne knew.<10>

This poore widow waited all that night
After her little child, but he came not;
For which, as soon as it was daye's light,
With face pale, in dread and busy thought,
She hath at school and elleswhere him sought,
Till finally she gan so far espy,
That he was last seen in the Jewery.

With mother's pity in her breast enclosed,
She went, as she were half out of her mind,
To every place, where she hath supposed
By likelihood her little child to find:
And ever on Christ's mother meek and kind
She cried, and at the laste thus she wrought,
Among the cursed Jewes she him sought.

She freined,* and she prayed piteously *asked* <11>
To every Jew that dwelled in that place,
To tell her, if her childe went thereby;
They saide, "Nay;" but Jesus of his grace
Gave in her thought, within a little space,
That in that place after her son she cried,
Where he was cast into a pit beside.

O greate God, that preformest thy laud
By mouth of innocents, lo here thy might!
This gem of chastity, this emeraud,* *emerald
And eke of martyrdom the ruby bright,
Where he with throat y-carven* lay upright, *cut
He Alma Redemptoris gan to sing
So loud, that all the place began to ring.

The Christian folk, that through the streete went,
In came, for to wonder on this thing:
And hastily they for the provost sent.
He came anon withoute tarrying,
And heried* Christ, that is of heaven king, *praised
And eke his mother, honour of mankind;
And after that the Jewes let* he bind. *caused

With torment, and with shameful death each one
The provost did* these Jewes for to sterve** *caused **die
That of this murder wist, and that anon;
He woulde no such cursedness observe* *overlook
Evil shall have that evil will deserve;
Therefore with horses wild he did them draw,
And after that he hung them by the law.

The child, with piteous lamentation,
Was taken up, singing his song alway:
And with honour and great procession,
They crry him unto the next abbay.
His mother swooning by the biere lay;
Unnethes* might the people that were there *scarcely
This newe Rachel bringe from his bier.

Upon his biere lay this innocent
Before the altar while the masses last';* *lasted
And, after that, th' abbot with his convent
Have sped them for to bury him full fast;
And when they holy water on him cast,
Yet spake this child, when sprinkled was the water,
And sang, O Alma redemptoris mater!

This abbot, which that was a holy man,
As monkes be, or elles ought to be,
This younger child to conjure he began,
And said; "O deare child! I halse* thee, *implore <12>
In virtue of the holy Trinity;
Tell me what is thy cause for to sing,
Since that thy throat is cut, to my seeming."

"My throat is cut unto my necke-bone,"
Saide this child, "and, as *by way of kind,* *in course of nature*
I should have died, yea long time agone;
But Jesus Christ, as ye in bookes find,
Will that his glory last and be in mind;
And, for the worship* of his mother dear, *glory
Yet may I sing O Alma loud and clear.

"This well* of mercy, Christe's mother sweet, *fountain
I loved alway, after my conning:* *knowledge
And when that I my life should forlete,* *leave
To me she came, and bade me for to sing
This anthem verily in my dying,
As ye have heard; and, when that I had sung,
Me thought she laid a grain upon my tongue.

"Wherefore I sing, and sing I must certain,
In honour of that blissful maiden free,
Till from my tongue off taken is the grain.
And after that thus saide she to me;
'My little child, then will I fetche thee,
When that the grain is from thy tongue take:
Be not aghast,* I will thee not forsake.'" *afraid

This holy monk, this abbot him mean I,
His tongue out caught, and took away the grain;
And he gave up the ghost full softely.
And when this abbot had this wonder seen,
His salte teares trickled down as rain:
And groff* he fell all flat upon the ground, *prostrate, grovelling
And still he lay, as he had been y-bound.

The convent* lay eke on the pavement *all the monks
Weeping, and herying* Christ's mother dear. *praising
And after that they rose, and forth they went,
And took away this martyr from his bier,
And in a tomb of marble stones clear
Enclosed they his little body sweet;
Where he is now, God lene* us for to meet. *grant

O younge Hugh of Lincoln!<13> slain also
With cursed Jewes, — as it is notable,
For it is but a little while ago, —
Pray eke for us, we sinful folk unstable,
That, of his mercy, God so merciable* *merciful
On us his greate mercy multiply,
For reverence of his mother Mary.

Notes to the Prioress's Tale

1. Tales of the murder of children by Jews were frequent in the Middle Ages, being probably designed to keep up the bitter feeling of the Christians against the Jews. Not a few children were canonised on this account; and the scene of the misdeeds was laid anywhere and everywhere, so that Chaucer could be at no loss for material.

2. This is from Psalm viii. 1, "Domine, dominus noster,quam admirabile est nomen tuum in universa terra."

3. "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength." — Psalms viii. 2.

4. The ghost that in thee light: the spirit that on thee alighted; the Holy Ghost through whose power Christ was conceived.

5. Jewery: A quarter which the Jews were permitted to inhabit; the Old Jewry in London got its name in this way.

6. St. Nicholas, even in his swaddling clothes — so says the "Breviarium Romanum" —gave promise of extraordinary virtue and holiness; for, though he sucked freely on other days, on Wednesdays and Fridays he applied to the breast only once, and that not until the evening.

7. "O Alma Redemptoris Mater," ("O soul mother of the Redeemer") — the beginning of a hymn to the Virgin.

8. Antiphonere: A book of anthems, or psalms, chanted in the choir by alternate verses.

9. Souded; confirmed; from French, "soulde;" Latin, "solidatus."

10. "And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." — Revelations xiv. 3, 4.

11. Freined: asked, inquired; from Anglo-Saxon, "frinan," "fraegnian." Compare German, "fragen."

12. Halse: embrace or salute; implore: from Anglo-Saxon "hals," the neck.

14 A boy said to have been slain by the Jews at Lincoln in 1255, according to Matthew Paris. Many popular ballads were made about the event, which the diligence of the Church doubtless kept fresh in mind at Chaucer's day.

 









CHAUCER'S TALE OF SIR THOPAS.



THE PROLOGUE.
<1>

WHEN said was this miracle, every man
As sober* was, that wonder was to see, *serious
Till that our Host to japen* he began, *talk lightly
And then *at erst* he looked upon me, *for the first time*
And saide thus; "What man art thou?" quoth he;
"Thou lookest as thou wouldest find an hare,
For ever on the ground I see thee stare.

"Approache near, and look up merrily.
Now ware you, Sirs, and let this man have place.
He in the waist is shapen as well as I; <2>
This were a puppet in an arm t'embrace
For any woman small and fair of face.
He seemeth elvish* by his countenance, *surly, morose
For unto no wight doth he dalliance.

"Say now somewhat, since other folk have said;
Tell us a tale of mirth, and that anon."
"Hoste," quoth I, "be not evil apaid,* *dissatisfied
For other tale certes can* I none, *know
Eut of a rhyme I learned yore* agone." *long
"Yea, that is good," quoth he; "now shall we hear
Some dainty thing, me thinketh by thy cheer."* *expression, mien

Notes to the Prologue to Chaucer's Tale of Sir Thopas

1. This prologue is interesting, for the picture which it gives of Chaucer himself; riding apart from and indifferent to the rest of the pilgrims, with eyes fixed on the ground, and an "elvish", morose, or rather self-absorbed air; portly, if not actually stout, in body; and evidently a man out of the common, as the closing words of the Host imply.

2. Referring to the poet's corpulency.



 

THE TALE
<1>

The First Fit* *part

Listen, lordings, in good intent,
And I will tell you verrament* *truly
Of mirth and of solas,* *delight, solace
All of a knight was fair and gent,* *gentle
In battle and in tournament,
His name was Sir Thopas.

Y-born he was in far country,
In Flanders, all beyond the sea,
At Popering <2> in the place;
His father was a man full free,
And lord he was of that country,
As it was Godde's grace. <3>

Sir Thopas was a doughty swain,
White was his face as paindemain, <4>
His lippes red as rose.
His rode* is like scarlet in grain, *complexion
And I you tell in good certain
He had a seemly nose.

His hair, his beard, was like saffroun,
That to his girdle reach'd adown,
His shoes of cordewane:<5>
Of Bruges were his hosen brown;
His robe was of ciclatoun,<6>
That coste many a jane.<7>

He coulde hunt at the wild deer,
And ride on hawking *for rivere* *by the river*
With gray goshawk on hand: <8>
Thereto he was a good archere,
Of wrestling was there none his peer,
Where any ram <9> should stand.

Full many a maiden bright in bow'r
They mourned for him par amour,
When them were better sleep;
But he was chaste, and no lechour,
And sweet as is the bramble flow'r
That beareth the red heep.* *hip

And so it fell upon a day,
For sooth as I you telle may,
Sir Thopas would out ride;
He worth* upon his steede gray, *mounted
And in his hand a launcegay,* *spear <10>
A long sword by his side.

He pricked through a fair forest,
Wherein is many a wilde beast,
Yea, bothe buck and hare;
And as he pricked north and east,
I tell it you, him had almest *almost
Betid* a sorry care. *befallen

There sprange herbes great and small,
The liquorice and the setewall,* *valerian
And many a clove-gilofre, <12>
And nutemeg to put in ale,
Whether it be moist* or stale, *new
Or for to lay in coffer.

The birdes sang, it is no nay,
The sperhawk* and the popinjay,** *sparrowhawk **parrot <13>
That joy it was to hear;
The throstle-cock made eke his lay,
The woode-dove upon the spray
She sang full loud and clear.

Sir Thopas fell in love-longing
All when he heard the throstle sing,
And *prick'd as he were wood;* *rode as if he
His faire steed in his pricking were mad*
So sweated, that men might him wring,
His sides were all blood.

Sir Thopas eke so weary was
For pricking on the softe grass,
So fierce was his corage,* *inclination, spirit
That down he laid him in that place,
To make his steed some solace,
And gave him good forage.

"Ah, Saint Mary, ben'dicite,
What aileth thilke* love at me *this
To binde me so sore?
Me dreamed all this night, pardie,
An elf-queen shall my leman* be, *mistress
And sleep under my gore.* *shirt

An elf-queen will I love, y-wis,* *assuredly
For in this world no woman is
Worthy to be my make* *mate
In town;
All other women I forsake,
And to an elf-queen I me take
By dale and eke by down." <14>

Into his saddle he clomb anon,
And pricked over stile and stone
An elf-queen for to spy,
Till he so long had ridden and gone,
That he found in a privy wonne* *haunt
The country of Faery,
So wild;
For in that country was there none
That to him durste ride or gon,
Neither wife nor child.

Till that there came a great giaunt,
His name was Sir Oliphaunt,<15>
A perilous man of deed;
He saide, "Child,* by Termagaunt, <16> *young man
*But if* thou prick out of mine haunt, *unless
Anon I slay thy steed
With mace.
Here is the Queen of Faery,
With harp, and pipe, and symphony,
Dwelling in this place."

The Child said, "All so may I the,* *thrive
To-morrow will I meete thee,
When I have mine armor;
And yet I hope, *par ma fay,* *by my faith*
That thou shalt with this launcegay
Abyen* it full sore; *suffer for
Thy maw* *belly
Shall I pierce, if I may,
Ere it be fully prime of day,
For here thou shalt be slaw."* *slain

Sir Thopas drew aback full fast;
This giant at him stones cast
Out of a fell staff sling:
But fair escaped Child Thopas,
And all it was through Godde's grace,
And through his fair bearing. <17>

Yet listen, lordings, to my tale,
Merrier than the nightingale,
For now I will you rown,* *whisper
How Sir Thopas, with sides smale,* *small <18>
Pricking over hill and dale,
Is come again to town.

His merry men commanded he
To make him both game and glee;
For needes must he fight
With a giant with heades three,
For paramour and jollity
Of one that shone full bright.

"*Do come,*" he saide, "my minstrales *summon*
And gestours* for to telle tales. *story-tellers
Anon in mine arming,
Of romances that be royales, <19>
Of popes and of cardinales,
And eke of love-longing."

They fetch'd him first the sweete wine,
And mead eke in a maseline,* *drinking-bowl
And royal spicery; of maple wood <20>
Of ginger-bread that was full fine,
And liquorice and eke cumin,
With sugar that is trie.* *refined

He didde,* next his white lere,** *put on **skin
Of cloth of lake* fine and clear, *fine linen
A breech and eke a shirt;
And next his shirt an haketon,* *cassock
And over that an habergeon,* *coat of mail
For piercing of his heart;

And over that a fine hauberk,* *plate-armour
Was all y-wrought of Jewes'* werk, *magicians'
Full strong it was of plate;
And over that his coat-armour,* *knight's surcoat
As white as is the lily flow'r, <21>
In which he would debate.* *fight

His shield was all of gold so red
And therein was a boare's head,
A charboucle* beside; *carbuncle <22>
And there he swore on ale and bread,
How that the giant should be dead,
Betide whatso betide.

His jambeaux* were of cuirbouly, <23> *boots
His sworde's sheath of ivory,
His helm of latoun* bright, *brass
His saddle was of rewel <24> bone,
His bridle as the sunne shone,
Or as the moonelight.

His speare was of fine cypress,
That bodeth war, and nothing peace;
The head full sharp y-ground.
His steede was all dapple gray,
It went an amble in the way
Full softely and round
In land.

Lo, Lordes mine, here is a fytt;
If ye will any more of it,
To tell it will I fand.* *try

The Second Fit

Now hold your mouth for charity,
Bothe knight and lady free,
And hearken to my spell;* *tale <25>
Of battle and of chivalry,
Of ladies' love and druerie,* *gallantry
Anon I will you tell.

Men speak of romances of price* * worth, esteem
Of Horn Child, and of Ipotis,
Of Bevis, and Sir Guy, <26>
Of Sir Libeux, <27> and Pleindamour,
But Sir Thopas, he bears the flow'r
Of royal chivalry.

His goode steed he all bestrode,
And forth upon his way he glode,* *shone
As sparkle out of brand;* *torch
Upon his crest he bare a tow'r,
And therein stick'd a lily flow'r; <28>
God shield his corse* from shand!** *body **harm

And, for he was a knight auntrous,* *adventurous
He woulde sleepen in none house,
But liggen* in his hood, *lie
His brighte helm was his wanger,* *pillow <29>
And by him baited* his destrer** *fed **horse <30>
Of herbes fine and good.

Himself drank water of the well,
As did the knight Sir Percivel, <31>
So worthy under weed;
Till on a day - . . .

Notes to Chaucer's Tale of Sir Thopas

1. "The Rhyme of Sir Thopas," as it is generally called, is introduced by Chaucer as a satire on the dull, pompous, and prolix metrical romances then in vogue. It is full of phrases taken from the popular rhymesters in the vein which he holds up to ridicule; if, indeed — though of that there is no evidence — it be not actually part of an old romance which Chaucer selected and reproduced to point his assault on the prevailing taste in literature. Transcriber's note: The Tale is full of incongruities of every kind, which Purves does not refer to; I point some of them out in the notes which follow - marked TN.

2. Poppering, or Poppeling, a parish in the marches of Calais of which the famous antiquary Leland was once Rector. TN: The inhabitants of Popering had a reputation for stupidity.

3. TN: The lord of Popering was the abbot of the local monastery - who could, of course, have no legitimate children.

4. Paindemain: Either "pain de matin," morning bread, or "pain de Maine," because it was made best in that province; a kind of fine white bread.

5. Cordewane: Cordovan; fine Spanish leather, so called from the name of the city where it was prepared

6. Ciclatoun: A rich Oriental stuff of silk and gold, of which was made the circular robe of state called a "ciclaton," from the Latin, "cyclas." The word is French.

7. Jane: a Genoese coin, of small value; in our old statutes called "gallihalpens," or galley half-pence.

8. TN: In Mediaeval falconry the goshawk was not regarded as a fit bird for a knight. It was the yeoman's bird.

9. A ram was the usual prize of wrestling contests. TN: Wrestling and archery were sports of the common people, not knightly accomplishments.

10. Launcegay: spear; "azagay" is the name of a Moorish weapon, and the identity of termination is singular.

12. Clove-gilofre: clove-gilliflower; "Caryophyllus hortensis."

13. TN: The sparrowhawk and parrot can only squawk unpleasantly.

14. TN: The sudden and pointless changes in the stanza form are of course part of Chaucer's parody.

15. Sir Oliphaunt: literally, "Sir Elephant;" Sir John Mandeville calls those animals "Olyfauntes."

16. Termagaunt: A pagan or Saracen deity, otherwise named Tervagan, and often mentioned in Middle Age literature. His name has passed into our language, to denote a ranter or blusterer, as be was represented to be.

17. TN: His "fair bearing" would not have been much defence against a sling-stone.

18. TN: "Sides small": a conventional description for a woman, not a man.

19. Romances that be royal: so called because they related to Charlemagne and his family.

20. TN: A knight would be expected to have a gold or silver drinking vessel.

21. TN: The coat-armour or coat of arms should have had his heraldic emblems on it, not been pure white

22. Charboucle: Carbuncle; French, "escarboucle;" a heraldic device resembling a jewel.

23. Cuirbouly: "Cuir boulli," French, boiled or prepared leather; also used to cover shields, &c.

24. Rewel bone: No satisfactory explanation has been furnished of this word, used to describe some material from which rich saddles were made. TN: The OED defines it as narwhal ivory.

25. Spell: Tale, discourse, from Anglo-Saxon, "spellian," to declare, tell a story.

26. Sir Bevis of Hampton, and Sir Guy of Warwick, two knights of great renown.

27. Libeux: One of Arthur's knights, called "Ly beau desconus," "the fair unknown."

28. TN: The crest was a small emblem worn on top of a knight's helmet. A tower with a lily stuck in it would have been unwieldy and absurd.

29. Wanger: pillow; from Anglo-Saxon, "wangere," because the "wanges;" or cheeks, rested on it.

30. Destrer: "destrier," French, a war-horse; in Latin, "dextrarius," as if led by the right hand.

31. Sir Percival de Galois, whose adventures were written in more than 60,000 verses by Chretien de Troyes, one of the oldest and best French romancers, in 1191.

 

 
 
 
 
 

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