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Full text of "Canterbury tales. To which are added an essay on his language and versification, and an introductory discourse, together with notes and a glossary. By Thomas Tyrwhitt. With memoir and critical dissertation"

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JWemotr ant) Critical Dissertation, 








English Poetiy, and, with the exceptions of Shakspeare and 
Milton, perhaps the greatest name as yet inscribed on its roll, 
was born in London, in the year 1328. We learn the former 
fact from his " Testament of Love," a prose production of his, 
where he speaks of himself as a Londoner, and of London as the 
place of his " kindly engendrure;" and the second from the 
inscription on his tombstone, which intimates that he died in 
1400, at the age of seventy-two. Others have maintained that 
he was born in Oxfordshire or Berkshire. But surely we may 
lay it down as an axiom that a man seldom is mistaken about 
the place of his own birth ; unless, indeed, we may suppose, as 
one of his editors asserts, that he lived till 1440, and had perhaps 
fallen into dotage! The year in which he was born was the 
second of the reign of Edward III. ; and he appeared on the 
stage of time four years after the birth of his great contemporary, 
John Wickliffe. It has been truly remarked, in reference to the 
obscurity which hangs around all the history of Chaucer, that 
" considering the figure he made in the world during his life 
time, not only in a literary, but also in a political point of view, 
and the rank and station he had held in society, it seems per 
fectly astonishing, in this biographic age, that so few particulars 
of his personal history should have been handed down to us; 
that even the date and place of his birth should have no positive 
record." Well does this writer call the present a biographic age. 
Memoirs are now written of almost everybody, either by others 


or by themselves ; and there is hardly a scribbler so small but 
has at any rate materials for his future life lying beside him in 
formidable quantity. What a contrast in this point between our 
period and that of this great old poet, of whom we know so little, 
and that little very uncertainly ! It has been alternately conjec 
tured and dogmatically maintained that he was the son of an 
illustrious knight of a London merchant of a country gentle 
man and of a common vintner or tavern-keeper. Leland says 
he was nobili loco natus; but Speght, an early biographer of his, 
adduces his arms to shew that he was not descended from any 
great house ; nay, maintains that his father, a tavern-keeper, left 
his property, when he died in 1348, to the church of St Mary 
Aldermary, where he was buried. Stowe adds confirmation to 
this statement, saying that " Eichard Chaucer, vintner, gave to 
that church his tenement and tavern, with the appurtenance, in 
the Royal Streete, the corner of Herion Lane, and was buried 
there in 1348." There is no proof, however, that Richard was the 
father of our poet. Some have alleged the meaning of his name 
in French Chancier , a shoemaker as an evidence of his low 
origin ; but the occurrence of the name Chaucer in several records, 
from the time of William the Conqueror to that of Edward I., 
seems to prove the contrary. The circumstance that he was a 
Londoner, to which he himself testifies twice in his " Testament 
of Love," proves nothing in the question, since, in his age, the 
city was the residence not only of the the trading classes, but of 
the nobility, and often of the court. It is more probable, how 
ever, from the fact that, after his connexion with the royal 
household, he was called by the honourable titles of Valetus 
noster (our Yeoman), and Scutifer noster (our Esquire) titles 
which were then never conferred upon individuals of plebeian 
family that he was of "gentle blood" and a respectable family. 

Some will have it that he attended both the universities of 
Cambridge and Oxford a practice then not uncommon. That 
he studied at the former is evident from his poem, " The Court 
of Love," written when he was eighteen, and where he says 

" Philogenet I called am, far and near, 
Of Cambridge clerk." 

It may be gathered, too, from the familiarity he discovers with 


the scenery around Cambridge, in " The Canterbury Tales ; " as 
where he says 

" At Trompington, not far from Cantabridge, 
There go'th a brook, and over that a bridge, 
Upon the whiche brook there stood a mill." 

For his residence in Oxford there is no proof, save the fact that 
his contemporaries, Gower, Strode, and Occleve, studied at 
Merton Hall in that university ; and a floating tradition, given 
by Wood, that when "Wickliffe was guardian or warden of 
Canterbury College, he had to his pupil the famous poet, Jeffrey 
Chaucer, (father of Thomas Chaucer, of Ewelme, in Oxfordshire, 
Esq.,) who, following the footsteps of his master, reflected much 
upon the corruptions of the clergy." Wickliffe entered Oxford 
in 1340, but whether he became acquainted with Chaucer there 
is uncertain. A quarterly reviewer, taking for granted that they 
were there together, thus pleasantly pictures their supposed 
intercourse : " In 1348-49, let us picture Wickliffe, a man not 
more than twenty-five years of age, but with the face of a hard 
student, and of an earnest, anxious temperament ; and Chaucer, 
a fair-complexioned youth of twenty-one, of genial, all-enjoying 
disposition, but of modest and diffident manners ; a diligent 
student, too, but more diffuse in his tastes, and with less intensity 
and strictness of moral feeling than Wickliffe reading the 
Scriptures with the literary fervour of a poet, not with the doci 
lity of a man of God searching after the truth ; regarding the 
world with that clear, sunny spirit which reflects what it sees, 
rather than with the severe scrutinising eye of a moral teacher 
groaning over social wrongs. To Chaucer, Wickliffe, we can 
suppose, would be a strange, almost mysterious man, whose 
grave, acute, and powerful mind bespoke him the able, honest, 
and truly consecrated priest. To Wickliffe, Chaucer would be a 
fresh-hearted and ingenuous youth, whose somewhat quaint and 
original remarks, as well as the reputed extent of his acquire 
ments, would awaken a stronger feeling of interest than might be 
thought at all times due to a mere writer of love verses." 

Whether he studied at two universities or not, he certainly 
bore no resemblance to the sapient personage, who, boasting of 
having done the same, was reminded by another of a calf which 


had sucked two cows, and the more he sucked the bigger calf 
he became. Chaucer profited much by his tuition. His writ 
ings prove him an adept in all the learning of the day its 
philosophy, poetry, and languages. Leland says he was " acutus 
dialecticus, dulcis rhetor, lepidus poeta, gravis philosoplius, 
ingeniosus mathematicus, denique sanctus theologus ; " in other 
words, a first-rate logician, rhetorician, poet, philosopher, mathe 
matician, and theologian. Some may be disposed to say, incre 
dulously, like Johnson in reference to a similar claim to universal 
attainments, " Pretty well, Sir, for one man ! " But let us remem 
ber that that one man in this case was Chaucer. We are often 
sceptical of such encyclopsediac pretensions, and disposed to say 
with Emerson, who, when we were speaking of the report that 
Elihu Burritt was acquainted with fifty languages, replied, " I 
wish I knew one;" but we can believe almost anything of a 
mind so clear and capacious, so full at once of common-sense, 
shrewd understanding, fire and fancy, as appertained to the 
author of "The Canterbury Tales." It is not likely that 
the age of puberty was reached without some impings of his 
young muse, in praise of love and beauty. In these he is said 
to have been encouraged by Gower ; but some find grounds for 
believing that his acquaintance with that poet was of a later 

After leaving the university, there is a blank for a season in 
Chaucer's history ; but even as 

" Geographers on pathless downs 
Place elephants in place of towns; 7 ' 

so conjecture has been loud where information is silent, and sent 
him away, as Milton went after him, on a continental tour. In 
this, according to tradition, he visited France and'the" Nether 
lands ; and when he returned, in 1355, he commenced, in the 
Middle Temple, the study of the municipal law a subject not 
the most congenial to the temperament of a poet. Indeed, the 
evidence that he ever attended the Temple is very slender' the 
story depending on a dateless record, said by Speght to have been 
seen by one Buckley, where Geffrey Chaucer, residing in the 
Inner Temple, was fined " two shillings for beating a Franciscane 


frier in Fleet St." Leland talks of his frequenting the law 
colleges after and before his travels in France ; but his authority 
is rather apocryphal, and damaged by his own inconsistencies ; 
and Tyrvvhitt doubts whether in the earlier part of his life he 
was in France at all. 

It is in the Court that Chaucer at last emerges from obscurity, 
and becomes a real, visible, intelligible figure on the page of his 
tory. He was born and reared in a very stirring and eventful 
period. Edward III. had in 1329, when only fourteen years of 
age, been proclaimed king, under a council of regency, while his 
mother's paramour, Mortimer, possessed the principal power in 
the state. His pride and oppression were felt so intolerable that 
in 1331, a formidable confederacy was formed against him, at the 
head of which was Edward himself, now eighteen years of age. 
Mortimer was seized and hanged, and the queen was shut up, 
with a reduced allowance and no authority, in her own house. 
The young king now bent his eagle eye northward, desiring partly, 
perhaps, to avenge Bannockburn which stuck as much in the 
throats of the English then as Waterloo does in those of the 
French now and partly to set aside David Bruce, a minor, 
and to give the Scottish crown to Baliol He defeated Douglas 
the regent, at the famous battle of Halidon Hill, July 1333 ; and 
it is hard to say how far he might have pushed his conquest, 
had not a more glittering prize presented itself to his eye, across 
the Channel. Edward was induced to aspire to the crown of 
France, which by the Salique law had devolved to Philip de 
Yalois, cousin-german to the deceased King Charles the Fair. 
He founded his claim on the fact that his mother was Charles's 
sister. War was proclaimed, and Edward soon took the field 
at the head of 30,000 men, and accompanied by his son, the 
illustrious Edward the Black Prince, then only fifteen years of 
age. Nothing decisive occurred till August 25, 1346, when the 
battle of Cressy was fought. In this the English were completely 
victorious, 30,000 foot and 1 200 horse of the French army being 
left dead upon the field. Edward, who had knighted his son the 
previous year, generously left him the principal management 
of the fight, to "shew that he merited his spurs." It was 
upon this occasion, that the younger Edward assumed the motto 


of Ich dien (I serve) used by all succeeding Princes of Wales, 
and derived, some say, from the crest of the king of Bohemia, 
whom the Black Prince slew in the battle. In a few years after, 
a truce having existed for some time between England and 
France, Edward again invaded the latter country, but was 
recalled home by tidings as to the predatory doings of the 
Scots, whose king, David Bruce, had been made prisoner in a 
battle at Durham by Earl Percy. Meanwhile, the Black Prince 
had penetrated from Guienne to the heart of France, where he 
was met by King John, at the head of a force five times more 
numerous than the English. The result was the battle of 
Poictiers, September 19, 1356, in which the French were totally 
and very rapidly routed, and their king taken prisoner. Sixty 
thousand were scattered almost without a blow, by the valour and 
discipline of twelve thousand. 

We need not further pursue the current of these well-known 
historical facts. We have alluded to them only to shew in 
what a remarkable age an age full of all the elements of 
romantic gallantry and chivalric adventure Chaucer flourished. 
When he appeared in the court of England, it was probably the 
gayest and noblest in Europe. Tournaments and pageants 
were the order of almost every day. Processions were got up, 
in which ladies of the first rank were seen riding on palfreys, and 
dragging knights captive through the streets in golden chains. 
Amidst the glittering throng, there appeared many remarkable 
persons: Edward himself, still in the flower of life, the con 
queror of France, the humbler of Scotland, and who had the 
kings of both countries in prison ; his queen, Philippa, a woman 
who combined the courage of an Amazon with the mildness of 
a Madonna, who had raised the army which gained the battle 
of Durham, and had gone over to Calais, to beg from her husband 
the lives of Eustache de St Pierre and five other citizens, whom 
Edward, enraged by the length of the siege, had designed to put 
to death ; the children of the blood-royal, eleven in number, seven 
being princes and four princesses, including the brave Black 
Prince, at whose name all France grew pale, and John of Gaunt, 
now a quiet youth of eighteen, but afterwards to become " time- 
honour'd Lancaster," the parent of a long family of kings. It 


is in the midst of such a splendid concourse, that we first catch 
a lively glimpse of our poet. He is about thirty years of age, 
two years older than the Black Prince ; he is handsome in figure, 
with a fair yet colourless complexion ; his beard resembles that 
of a " wheat stalk," and is forked in shape ; his hair is rather 
short and thin for his years, and of a slightly shadowed yellow ; 
his forehead is fair and smooth as a summer's lake ; the expres 
sion of his countenance is sweet and gentle, although a minute 
observer may spy in it, at the corner of his mouth, satire lurking 
in the shape of a curved smile; his manner is reserved and 
modest, and he has the habit of constantly looking on the 
ground " as if," says the Host, in the prologue to Sir Topas, 
" he expected to find a hare," an attitude not all unlike that 
worn by the great Poet of the Lakes, whose genius brooded o'er 
the earth "whence he was taken," under a resistless force 
and fascination, like a needle attracted to a sunken loadstone. 
Chaucer became corpulent, and no doubt gray or bald, in his 
latter days, but his general appearance and his demeanour did 
not otherwise materially change. His aspect answered like 
that of most of our great Anglo-Saxon men of genius, such as 
Spenser, Bunyan, Scott, Wilson, &c., men who had no foreign 
element in their nature to the ideal of the Saxon style of manly 
beauty, which includes yellow or auburn hair, bright eyes, and 
fair or ruddy complexion. 

It seems likely, that Chaucer entered the court originally as 
king's page, but the first intimation of an authentic kind, as to 
his position there, is one hinted at a little above. There is a 
patent recorded in Rymer dated 41 Edward III., by which that 
king bestows on the poet an annuity of twenty marks, (about 
200 of our money,) as Vahtus nosier, "our yeoman," and this 
was granted when he was thirty-nine years of age. He was 
afterwards created Valetus hospitii, " gentleman of the palace," 
and also Scutifer nostsr, " our esquire." Ere this date, 1367, he had 
distinguished himself as a poet, having published before then his 
" Court of Love," the " Assemblee of Foules," the " Complaint of 
the Blacke Knighte," and the translation of the " Roman de la 
Rose." By and by, the king appointed him Comptroller of the 
Customs of Wool, giving him, moreover, the strange injunction 


that the "said Geffrey write with his own hands, his rolls, touching 
the said office, in his own proper person, and not by his substitute." 
The office may seem uncongenial to a poetic temperament, and 
yet the facts that Charles Lamb perpended " John Woodville " in 
the ol(J South Sea House, and Macaulay wrote his " Lays of 
Ancient Kome " in the War-Office, are riot so remarkable as the 
fact which Tyrwhitt affirms, that, occupied in Custom-house 
accounts, and as it were " buried in woollen," Chaucer composed 
his " House of Fame." 

Long previous to these offices and honours, our poet had been 
attached to the person of the renowned John of Gaunt, and his 
connexion with him had, apart from his direct court favour, a 
considerable share in advancing his fortunes. This young prince, 
who was ambitious of political influence, and who hated the 
clergy for their monopoly of power, is supposed to have seen the 
importance of pressing Chaucer, a genius and a satirist, into his 
service. Some say that Gaunt, being in love with the Lady 
Blanche, daughter of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, made the poet 
his confidant, and that, acting on his suggestion, Chaucer wrote 
the "Complaint of the Blacke Knighte" to aid him in his suit. 
Whether it was to the " Black Knight," or to his " Minstrel," or 
to both, we cannot tell, but, certainly, the obdurate fair sur 
rendered, and in 1359, on occasion of the marriage of Gaunt 
with Lady Blanche, a poem appeared entitled " Chaucer's 
Dream." In this copy of epithalamic verses, however, another 
heroine besides Blanche comes into view. This is Philippa 
Pyckard (or Pickard) Kouet, younger daughter of Sir Payne 
Eouet, Guienne king-at-arrns, a native of Hainault. She 
(named probably after Queen Philippa) had, along with her 
sister Catherine, come to England in the train of that royal per 
sonage. At court Chaucer had seen her, and was instantly 
fascinated. She became the object as well as the inspirer of his 
" Dream," and occupies the foreground in that ingenious poem. 
The poet imagines that "he" and "his lady" are brought by 
the young couple, Gaunt and Blanche, to the parish church, 
" there to conclude the marriage." The service is " full-ysungen 
out after the custom and the guise of Holy Church's ordinance." 
The feast has commenced, a thousand twangling instruments of 


music are in the ear of the dreamer, when, alas ! he awakes, and 
" behold it is a dream." 

" Then from my bed anon I leapt, 
Weening to have been at the feast ; 
But when I woke all was yceased ; 
For there n'as lady ne creature, 
Save on the walls old portraiture 
Of horsemen, hawkes, and of hounds, 
And hart-deer all full of wounds, 
Some like bitten, some hurt with shot, 
And as my dream seem'd what was not. 
And when I woke and knew the truth, 

An' ye had seen, of very ruth 
I trow ye would have wept a week." 

To this lady, Chaucer was not married for some years. Her 
sister, Catherine Swinford, (widow of Sir John Swinford,) be 
came first the mistress, and afterwards the third wife of John of 
Gaunt. In 1359, Chaucer accompanied Edward III. in his ex 
pedition to France ; an expedition in which, at first, the English 
king earned all before him, desolating the provinces of Picardy 
and Champagne, but subsequently underwent some reverses, and 
was glad to conclude a peace in May 1360. In the course of 
this campaign, at the siege of Betters, our poet was taken 
prisoner, and is supposed to have remained in durance for several 
years. A prison has not unfrequcntly been a nursery for genius. 
Sir Walter Scott says, somewhere, that if he were shut up in 
solitary confinement without books, and with no prospect of 
speedy release, he would go mad. Many men of genius, how 
ever, and brave spirits of various sorts, have found it otherwise. 
A prison has concentrated their thoughts, and become the " pro- 
creant cradle" to their imaginations. The process by which 
Godwin describes Caleb Williams becoming reconciled to his 
dungeon, has sometimes been realised in fact. Caleb says " I 
tasked the stores of my memory and my powers of invention ; 
I amused myself with recollecting the history of my life. By 
degrees I quitted my own story, and employed myself in ima 
ginary adventures. I figured to myself every situation in which 
1 could be placed, and conceived the conduct to be observed in 
each. At length I proceeded to as regular a disposition of my 


time as the man in his study who passes from mathematics to 
poetry, and from poetry to the law of nations, in the different 
parts of the same day. I went over, by the assistance of memory 
alone, a considerable part of Euclid during my confinement, and 
revived, day after day, the series of facts and incidents in some 
of the most celebrated historians. I became myself a poet, and 
while I described the sentiments cherished by the view of natural 
objects, recorded the characters and passions of men, and partook 
with a burning zeal in the generosity of their determinations, I 
eluded the squalid solitude of my dungeon, and wandered in 
idea through all the varieties of human society. While thus 
employed, I reflected with exultation upon the degree in which 
man is independent of the smiles and frowns of fortune. I was 
beyond her reach, for I could fall no lower. To an ordinary eye 
I might seem destitute and miserable, but in reality I wanted 
for nothing. My fare was coarse, but I was in health. My 
dungeon was noisome, but I felt no inconvenience." 

This was better than toying with a mouse like Baron Trenck, 
or exclaiming with Bonnivard in Chillon 

" Of spiders I acquaintance made, 
And watch'd them at their sullen trade." 

But it was not better than James I. of Scotland, when immured 
in Windsor Castle, writing, or at least collecting the materials 
of his " King's Quhair ;" than Tasso " making to him wings with 
which to fly" from the hospital of St Anne, where he was inju 
riously confined, to the summits of the delectable mountains of 
poetry ; than Sir Walter Ealeigh soaring from the Tower to 
Ararat, to Lebanon, to the Seven Hills of Rome, while producing 
his great "History of the World;" or than Bunyan dreaming 
his wondrous Pilgrim's Progress in the damp dungeon at Bed 
ford his body bound, while his soul was travelling to and back 
again from that city which hath no need of the sun. The sup 
posed case of Caleb Williams illustrates principally the force of 
dauntless resolution, blended with contemptuous defiance of the 
world ; the real story of Bunyan displays the power of piety and 
of faith, as well as of uncontrollable genius. 

How Chaucer employed himself in his immurement, we know 
not, but we are certain that his mind was not idle. He had the 


memory of stirring deeds and incidents in the past to cheer him. 
He had if not the " key called Promise in his bosom, able to 
open every lock in Doubting Castle " the Philosopher's Stone 
of genius in his brain, able to convert his chains into gold and 
his prison into a palace. Above all, he had a pure and hopeful 
love in his heart, a beautiful ideal, which, like the apparition of 
Lady Jane Beaufort to James I., made a sunshine in his shady 
place, and every night on his pillow renewed " Chaucer's Dream." 
In the year 1365 or 1366 we find him in England, married to 
his own Philippa. On the 12th of September 1366, there is an 
entry of a pension of ten marks for life, granted by the king to 
" Philippa Chaucer as a lady in the king's household," and this, 
with the twenty marks mentioned above as given to Chaucer 
himself in 1367, would amount to more than 300 ; for that age 
a very comfortable income for a newly married couple. He 
might now be considered settled in life he had reached the 
borders of middle age, he had the object of a long attachment 
in his bosom, his happiness in short, if not his fame, had cul 
minated ; and now therefore was the time for doing justice to his 
genius. And to the four years succeeding this, the composition 
of his " Troilus and Cresseide," the " Legend of Good Women," 
and other of his poems, may probably be referred. In the year 
1369, Blanche, the wife of John of Gaunt, died, and Chaucer 
lamented her in a poem entitled " The Book of the Duchess ; " 
in this, doubtless, he was sincere, although her removal, by 
increasing the power of his sister-in-law, Catherine Swinford, 
Gaunt's mistress, unquestionably tended to the poet's advantage. 
In 1370, he went abroad on the king's service, and two years 
after occurred his memorable mission to Genoa. This journey 
(unless we suppose with Tyrwhitt that the whole story is a 
myth) forms quite an epoch in the history of our poet. From 
Genoa he is said to have proceeded to Padua, and visited 
Petrarch there. The chief proof of this lies in a casual allusion in 
" The Canterbury Tales," where the tale is said to have been 

" Learned at Padua, of a worthy clerk 
Francis Petrarch, the laureat poet, 
Highte this clerk, whose rhetorike sweet 
Uluiniu'd all Itaille of poetry.' 7 


The tale here spoken of is that of "Patient Grisilde," which 
Petrarch only translated from Boccaccio. " Why," says Godwin 
in his Life of Chaucer, "did Chaucer choose to confess his 
obligation for it to Petrarch rather than to Boccaccio, from 
whose volume Petrarch confessedly translated it? For this very 
natural reason because he was eager to commemorate his inter 
view with this venerable patriarch of Italian letters, and to 
record the pleasure he had reaped from his society." But surely 
if Chaucer had met Petrarch, he would have hinted of it in other 
parts of his Works, and in terms less obscure than these. Yet it 
is a pity to disabuse the world of even one of its delightful 
delusions, provided there is evidence enough to warrant the 
conclusion "It might have been thus." And it is certainly a 
pleasant thought, that of the two Fathers of Modern Letters, 
the one in the prime of life, the other in its decline the one 
being forty-four, and the other sixty-eight years of age the one 
the lover of Philippa, the other of Laura distinguished both by 
learning, knowledge of affairs, and strong common sense, as well 
as by genius, meeting and hailing each other. Previous to 
Chaucer's visit, Petrarch's glory, like that of a setting sun, was 
becoming brighter and broader ere its departure. Honours and 
advantages had been showered upon his old age. The city of 
Florence had restored his property ; he had been received with 
distinction by Galeazzo Visconti at Milan, and by Charles IV. 
at Mantua ; and his influence had brought about the long-desired 
return of the papal chair to Rome, under Urban, in 1367. But 
we doubt not that dearer still to his heart was the unexpected 
homage of this stranger 

" Born far beyond the mountains, but his blood 
Was all meridian, as if never fann'd 
By the rough wind that chills the polar flood." 

The one had secured his immortality, and nearly finished his 
course ; the other had as yet his chef d'oeuvre to produce, and 
twenty-eight years more of life before him. Still they would 
become friends and brothers in an instant, and, we may con 
jecture, interchanged gifts Chaucer giving Petrarch his " Ro- 
maunt of the Rose " and his " Troilus," and Petrarch presenting 
him with his Sonnets, or perchance with a portion of his unfi- 


nished poem, entitled, " Africa," the child of his old age. Their 
meeting was short, and their parting final. On July 18, in 
1374, in the village of Arqua 

" The mountain village where his latter days 
Went down the vale of years " 

Petrarch, the "LAUREAT poet," being so in a double sense, 
having repeatedly had the Laurel on his head, and having Laura 
ever in his heart, was found in his library, with his head resting 
on a book dead. 

In this year of Petrarch's death, Chaucer returned to England. 
Such was Edward's gratitude for his services, that, besides the 
lucrative office of Comptroller of Customs, mentioned before, he 
gave him the honorary grant of a pitcher of wine daily, which 
was afterwards commuted into an allowance of money. He 
became thus the first, and, with the dubious exception of Spenser, 
is still the greatest of the LAUREATES of England. It is sup 
posed that the service for which he was so liberally rewarded 
was connected with hiring ships for our navy. Even then, 
indeed, we got up for the nonce great naval armaments ; but 
having few ships of our own, we were forced to borrow them for 
a consideration from the free states of Italy or Germany. This 
year, too, John of Gaunt added to his many favours by bestowing 
on Chaucer a grant of 10 for life. In the next two years he 
was equally fortunate, obtaining first the wardship of Sir Edmund 
Staplegate's heir, for which he received 104, and then the value 
of some forfeited wool, to the amount of 71, 4s. 6d. His whole 
income is thought now to have amounted to 1000 (about, some 
say, 40,000 of our money !) the most enormous sum, surely, 
that ever belonged to a British poet. In Chaucer's case, how 
ever, these splendid rewards befell him, not as a poet, but partly 
as a politician an able and astute servant of the court and 
partly from his wife's influence, through her sister, with the 
Gaunt family. Nevertheless, if he did not gain riches for his 
verses, he spent them like a true poet. He lived in great style 
and splendour. In 1376 and 1377 he was engaged abroad in 
diplomatic missions. In the latter of these expeditions he went 
to France, along with Sir Guichard Dangle and Richard Stan 
or Surry, to treat of a marriage between Richard, Prince of 


Wales, and Mary, a daughter of the French king, as well as to 
complain of some infringement of the truce between the two 
nations. Richard, however, was destined for another bride. 

As the year 1377 was that in which the persecution of Wick 
liffe by the papal power began, this seems the proper place for 
alluding to the career of that great man, and to his connexion 
with our poet. As early as 1356, this "morning star of the 
Reformation " had commenced his career by inveighing against 
the authority of the Pope. Some years after, he became active 
in opposing the encroachments and ridiculing the pretensions of 
the mendicant friars. When disputes arose between Edward 
III. and the court of Rome, in relation to the homage and 
tribute exacted from King John, Wickliffe, who by this time 
had become famous in Oxford as a lecturer on theology, and had 
taken the degree of D.D., slept forward in defence of the English 
side of the question, and a reply he produced to a monk who 
advocated the claims of the Church, procured him the patronage 
of John of Gaunt Promotions of various kinds followed, and, 
flushed by success, he became bolder and bolder, venturing to 
affix the title Antichrist to the papal brow. This could not be 
borne, and in the year 1377, Gregory XI. launched three bulls 
against Wickliffe, condemning his doctrine, ordering his seizure 
and imprisonment, and requiring the king and government to 
assist, if needful, in extirpating his heresy. Edward died this 
year, but the Reformer found an efficient protector in John of 
Gaunt, who had now become one of the regents of the kingdom 
during the minority of Richard. Wickliffe, at the citation of 
the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, 
appeared at St Paul's Church, attended by a prodigious con 
course of people, and supported by the Duke of Lancaster arid 
the Earl Marshal. An altercation took place between the 
bishops and the noblemen, and the meeting broke up in tumult 
and disorder. The Reformer afterwards attended at Lambeth 
palace, and delivered to the two prelates a defence of his doctrines. 
Here, too, he was accompanied and protected by great crowds ; 
and the bishops, overawed, dismissed him without passing a 
judgment. He was subsequently deserted by Gaunt, and his 
opinions were condemned by the Parliament. He remained 


unmolested, however, personally ; and, retiring to his rectory at 
Lutterworth, continued to preach and executed a translation of 
the Scriptures into English. He died on the 31st December 
1384, sixty years of age. His teachings and his translation of 
the Bible had a powerful effect at home, and still more abroad. 
His voice was reverberated from Bohemia by John Huss, and 
the influence of his writings in Germany may be gathered from 
the fact that the Council of Constance, years after his death, 
ordered his bones to be exhumed and burnt, which was done 
accordingly in 1425. Our readers will remember Thomas 
Fuller's exquisite account of this act of imbecile and belated 

" Chaucer," says old Foxe the Martyrologist, " was a right 
Wicklivian, or else there never was any." This is undoubtedly 
overstated, but there can be as little doubt that he had strong 
sympathies with Wickliffe and his cause. To this contributed 
his early habits of intimacy with the Reformer the admiration 
he must have felt for his powers of mind, his learning, his 
boldness and his moral integrity his contempt for the clergy 
and the corruptions of the Papal Church his intimacy with the 
John of Gaunt faction and the rebound he, as well as every 
noble spirit in Europe, felt against the cold, consolidated, mind- 
strangling, heart-crushing tyranny of Rome. Chaucer had been 
repeatedly, too, on the Continent, and in the sentiments of Pe 
trarch, of Boccaccio, and other learned and gifted men, heard the 
first heavings and cracklings of the ice which were, in less than 
two centuries, to issue in the glorious spring of the Eeformation. 
He stood to Wickliffe very much in the relation in which 
Erasmus AT FIRST stood to Luther, and his poems, in their 
liberal and genial spirit and their satirical exposure of prevailing 
evils, were a distinct, though less vehement, protest against 
Popery, and concerted well with the lion-like voice which came 
forth from the parsonage of Lutterworth. 

Yet the true Laureate of the Lollards, as the Wickliffites were 
soon denominated, was not Chaucer, but one John Ball, called 
by his enemies a " crazy priest." This man perambulated 
Middlesex and the adjacent counties, as the orator and poet of 
the poorer classes of the community now preaching after mass, 
VOL. ii. b 


now disputing with the friars, and now setting his revolutionary 
thoughts to homely, jingling rhymes, such as the famous one 
When Adam delved and Eve span,. 
Where was then the gentleman 1" 

This person, who seemed a kind of caricature of the Hebrew 
prophets, attained wonderful power and popularity in the land 
was counted a public pest by all the conservative classes, but 
hailed by the populace as an oracle, and the herald of a coming 
deliverance. For twenty years he thus circulated, according to 
Walsingham, with whom he is no favourite, " promulgating the 
perverse crotchets of the perfidious John Wickliffe, and a vast 
deal besides which it would be tedious to tell of." It is even, 
said that he organised associations of a political kind among the 
serfs of Essex and Kent, and distributed among the people little 
fly-leaves containing strange incendiary matter, couched in 
inuendoes and figurative language, and where more was meant 
than met the ear. Such sibylline verses and leaves fluttered out 
and truly the tidings of a terrible convulsion coming on the 

Amidst this troubled state of things, Edward died and Richard 
II., not yet twelve years of age, was called to the throne, under 
the joint-regency of his three uncles, the Dukes of Lancaster, 
York, and Gloucester. Chaucer, at this time and for some 
years before, was living in content and splendour at a house 
granted by the king, near the royal manor at Woodstock, where 
he was surrounded by every circumstance of distinction and 
luxury, as well as by scenery of great richness and beauty. 
There have been since many changes made on the ground, but 
they still, we believe, point out the poet's walk; and some old 
oaks, which must often have shadowed his brow during the 
noon-day heats, are still waving there. The accession of Richard 
at first rather added to than diminished Chaucer's good fortune. 
His annuity of twenty marks and his comptrollership were con 
firmed, and in lieu of the daily pitcher of wine, another annuity 
of twenty marks was conferred on him. But, in common with 
a?l the loyal of the land, he was soon startled (1381) by the 
insurrection, so long brooding, of the serfs under Wat Tyler. 
This man, a tiler, as his name imports, resenting an insult to his 


beautiful daughter by an officer who was collecting the poll-tax, 
felled him to the ground with one blow*. This occurred in Dart- 
ford in Kent, and acted as a spark to the inflammable materials 
in the adjacent regions. A formidable insurrection rose like an 
exhalation, caused partly by the unextinguished resentment of 
the Saxons against their Norman conquerors, partly by Lollard- 
ism, and partly by a feeling of oppression and physical suffering. 
Sixty thousand men assembled on Blackheath, and thence pro 
ceeded to London, which they occupied without resistance. They 
demanded the abolition of bondage, the liberty of buying and 
selling in markets and fairs, a general pardon, and a reduction 
of the rent of land: The insurrection continued for a fortnight, 
during which the mob of artisans and " villains" kept possession 
of London, burnt palaces, and beheaded the Archbishop of Can 
terbury, and various other persons of eminence. The throne 
was trembling to its base, and at last the king agreed to hold an 
interview with Wat Tyler, with a view to make concessions* 
This took place accordingly in Smithfield, where, however, the 
Lord Mayor, Wai worth, pretending that Tyler seemed about to 
seize on the king's bridle, struck him down with his mace, some 
of the servants following up the blow, and killing the prostrate 
insurgent. The mob instantly lost heart and dispersed. John 
Ball, with some of the other leaderSj and about fifteen hundred of 
the lower ranks, were hanged. 

This revolt was truly a sign of the times, and must have so 
appeared to all intelligent eyes, including that of our poet. It 
certified monarchs and bishops that there was such a class as the 
lower, and that if they had been trampled on like dust, it was 
the inflammable dust of powder, on which the feet of tyrants 
were not always to tread softly ; it sounded the knell of serfdom 
or " villainage," and, like a red morning sky, it augured the day 
of storm, which swiftly succeeded. The outbreak of the " vil 
lains" was scarcely over till two parties among the gentry and 
nobles arose one the Court party, with De la Pole and De 
Vere at their head, both great favourites of the king; and 
another, which might almost be called the Country party, led by 
the Duke of Gloucester and John of Gaunt. The struggle be 
tween them was fierce, attended by various vicissitudes, and was 


not finally settled till Kichard II., having first exclaimed, if 
Shakspeare's words be as true as they are exquisite 

" Oh that I were a mockery king of snow, 
To melt away before the sun of Bolingbroke!" 

finally dissolved in his beams, and Henry Bolingbroke, son of 
John of Gaunt, and better known to us as Henry IV., ascended 
the throne. 

Meanwhile, there occurred a somewhat mysterious passage in 
the history of our poet. Hitherto his course had been almost 
uniformly successful. The most enviable prizes and golden dis 
tinctions had dropped like ripe summer fruit around his path. 
Rocky difficulties of diplomacy had yielded to his word as to the 
Open Sesame of Arabian magic. It had been his uniformly, poet 
and protester though he was, to 

" Pursue the triumph and partake the gale." 

He was revelling in wealth. But now, from causes which are 
obscure, his affairs fell into such confusion that he was obliged 
to resort to the king's protection to save him from his creditors. 
Some have said that his pecuniary distresses were pretended. 
Be this as it may, he fell, for a considerable time about this 
period of his life, from various causes, under a cloud. 

His great friend and patron, the Duke of Lancaster, had loved 
and supported Wickliffe chiefly because he had warred with the 
clergy. But when the insurrection of Wat Tyler was imputed 
to the Wickliffites, the duke is said to have withdrawn his 
countenance from them, and disclaimed their doctrines. His 
conduct in this matter, seeming to " palter in a double sense," did 
not add to his popularity, and so far injured his protige as well 
as himself. Still there is evidence that Chaucer, whatever his 
notions on religious subjects might be, and whether he altered 
them or not according to circumstances, was faithful to his friends 
when men sought to blackball them for heresy. In 1384, John 
Comberton, commonly called John of Northampton, when about 
to be re-chosen as Mayor of London, was fiercely opposed by the 
clergy on account of his reforming sentiments. So dreadful was 
the commotion produced by his re-election, that the court had to 
employ force to suppress it. Some lives were lost, Comberton 


was imprisoned, and Chaucer, who had exerted his utmost in 
fluence in his favour, had to fly, first to Hainault, where his 
matrimonial connexions lived, then to France, and finally to 
Zealand. He had repeatedly visited the Continent before, but 
always as an envoy of Majesty ; he now reached it as a fugitive 
and an exile, losing besides his office in the Customs, and, it is 
said, a seat in Parliament, where he had been elected as knight 
of the shire for Kent He carried out with him a considerable 
supply of money, and liberally shared it with his fellow-sufferers 
who were fugitives for the same cause. Thus he exhausted his 
stock, and reaped, as it proved, no gratitude in exchange. His 
friends patched up their own peace with the English Govern 
ment returned home, and then, as the butler with Joseph, 
remembered not Chaucer their benefactor, but forgot him : they 
neither tried to procure him a pardon, nor even sent him supplies 
to aid him while abroad. He contrived, however, to find his 
way back to England, and was welcomed by a cell in the Tower. 
Here he was at first treated with great rigour, but ultimately 
procured release by disclosing all he knew about the political 
affair in which he had been involved, and offering, too, to sub 
stantiate his charges against the accused parties, by entering the 
lists of combat. He wrote now his " Testament of Love," to 
express his feelings of grief and indignation at this crisis of his life. 
He was now at liberty, but deeply disgusted by the treatment he 
had met sick seemingly of the world at large ; and his wife 
having died, (1377,) he began to take measures to secure his 
permanent retreat. He was now sixty years of age, and felt 
probably the strong impression that his real work as a poet was 
yet to be achieved. He resolved to dispose of his two pensions 
or patents of twenty marks each ; and in May 1388 he sur 
rendered them in favour of one John Scalby. Some suppose 
that the same year he retired to his old haunt of Woodstock, 
and, according to one of his biographers, employed most of his 
time in revising and correcting his poems and enjoying the calm 
pleasures of a country life. It is generally thought, too, that in 
1389 he commenced his magnum optis, " The Canterbury Tales;" 
and if so, it is certainly not a little remarkable that Chaucer 
at sixty-one to write a work which was his noblest title 


to fame, and which it was Drydeu's task and his immortality to 
imitate in his Fables when he was seventy. 

Nevertheless, (although this only increases our wonder at his 
powers,) there seems some reason to believe that Chaucer did 
not retire quite so early to his beloved shades. In 1389, we find 
him appointed Clerk of the Works at Westminster, and next 
year he is registered as holding the same office at Windsor. 
These, however, were only temporary posts, held each of them 
for about twenty months. For some years after this we hear 
nothing of him, and now we may conjecture that after his twenty 
months' clerkship had expired, he retreated, somewhat in a 
Parthian fashion, to the oaks of Woodstock like Burke, when 
about the same age, to those of Beaconsfield and there collected 
the spolia opima of his genius. We shall in our next paper 
have occasion to speak of the merits of " The Canterbury Tales; " 
suffice it at present simply to renew our expression of astonish 
ment how a man in his grand climacteric should be capable of 
the freshness of fancy, the juvenility of feeling, the racy humour, 
and the elastic vigour of style which distinguish these pro 
ductions. Burke wrote his " Regicide Peace," and Godwin his 
u Cloudesley," later in life still j but the latter is heavy and gar 
rulously prolix, and the former, although in grandeur and depth 
perhaps the finest of Burke's works, is heavy laden with gloom 
and despondency. Both are evidently the works of old men, 
with the powers of manhood entire, but its spirit evaporated j 
while our poet writes as if still in the lustihood of life, and the 

" Breezes blowing in old Chaucer's verse " 

as Alexander Smith finely calls them are verily, in Gray's 

"Redolent of joy and youth, 
And breathe a second spring." 

There axe, indeed, here and there, traces in them of a soured and 
disappointed spirit ; but these scars of age, like the rents in a 
ruin, are almost hid under the rich foliage of his wit and fancy. 

It adds to our wonder when we are told that although, in 
1394, the king gave him an annuity of 20, yet he was, from 
that year to 1398 ; in a state of " sheer, unmistakeable poverty." 


So says Sir Harris Nicholas. This is the more surprising, when 
we know that John of Gaunt, who had been abroad for some 
time engaged in an attempt to gain the crown of Castile, had 
now returned to England, and had at length married the poet's 
sister-iii- law Lady Catherine Swinford, formerly Catherine 
Rouet, and his mistress. It was thus in age, widowhood, poverty, 
and desolation that Chaucer wrote his great work his "Comedy," 
as he called it which he had determined to make the most elabo 
rate production of his pen, and an everlasting trophy of his genius. 
One is forcibly reminded of the circumstances in which Milton 
wrote his " Paradise Lost," and the other poems of his old age. 
But these, as well as Burke's last writings, are shaded by melan 
choly, and remind you of the Pyramids or the Sphynx, seen under 
the wing of a gathering thunder-cloud ; whereas Chaucer's work, 
notwithstanding all its touches of pathos and sublimity, and the 
occasional bitterness of its sarcasm, is essentially a "Comedy," 
a glad and genial transcript of a glad and genial page of human 
life. It is fabled of a magician in eastern story that he had the 
power of returning at certain seasons from age to youth, of 
literally "renewing his youth" when he chose, although not 
permanently. One could conceive this enviable power to be 
possessed by Chaucer, and that the music of the wind-stirred 
oaks of Woodstock, like a wizard melody, transported him to the 
happy days when he first danced in a courtly revel with Philippa, 
when he tilted at a tournament with Edward the Black Prince, 
or when, amidst the golden sunshine and under the blue skies of 
Italy, he gazed with wondering joy at the furrowed brow and 
beaming eye of Laura's lover. 

Previous to this he had written a learned treatise on the 
Astrolabe for the use of his son Lewis, who, at the time when it 
was written, (1391,) was ten years of age. This is the only cir 
cumstance about Chaucer's family which his biographers admit 
to be thoroughly authentic. Some have talked of his having had 
by his wife a son called Thomas, arid other children, but their 
existence seems exceedingly problematical. The name Thomas 
Chaucer does indeed often occur in the records of these times ; he 
was Speaker of the House of Commons ; but there is little evidence 
that he was a connexion of the poet. Of the history of Lewis, we 


know nothing. Leland, Wood, arid Bale, indeed, place him under 
the tuition of his father's friend, Nicholas Strode, of Merton 
College, Oxford ; but it has been said, " If Wood could trace 
Strode no further than the year 1370, it is impossible that he 
could have been the tutor of Chaucer's son in 1391." 

About "evening-time" there came a gleam of light upon 
Chaucer's affairs. In 1398, Eichard II. granted to him his 
" protection for two years." In 1399, he allotted him a pipe of 
wine annually. And when at last the " mockery king" had 
melted away before Bolingbroke's young sun, the new monarch, 
true to his father's example, confirmed to Chaucer the grants of 
20 and the pipe of wine, and gave him an additional grant of 
an annuity of forty marks. Strange to tell, some of his biogra 
phers represent him as living at this time in Dunnington 
Castle, in Berkshire, which it seems he had purchased some 
short time before, for up to 1394 it was in the possession of Sir 
Richard Abberbury. How to reconcile the purchase and posses 
sion of a castle with " sheer, unmistakeable poverty," and at best the 
position of a pensionary dependent, nourished on the rinsings of the 
royal cellar, we cannot tell. Tyrwhitt remarks that the tradition 
noticed by Evelyn in his " Sylva " of an oak in Dunnington Park 
called Chaucer's oak, may be accounted for without supposing that 
it was planted by Chaucer himself, as the castle was undoubtedly 
in the hands of the aforesaid Thomas Chaucer for many years. 

Chaucer did not live long after this. And yet when we come 
to inquire into the causes of his death, we are, as usual, en 
tangled in a mesh of contradictory conjectures. His biographers, 
having brought him to Dunnington Castle from Woodstock, send 
him up next on a bootless errand to London. He went there to 
solicit a continuance of his annuities, but found such difficulties 
in the way as hastened his end. Certain it is, that on the 24th 
of December 1399, his name occurs (for the last time in any 
extant record) in a lease made to him by the Abbot-prior and 
Convent of Westminster, of a tenement situated in the garden of 
the chapel, at the yearly rent of 53s. 4d. It is probable that it 
was in this house, which stood on the site of Henry VII.'s 
Chapel, that our poet at length died, on the 25th of October 1400, 
in his seventy-third year. 


As to bis creed in death, opinion, or rather conjecture, is again 
divided. Most of his biographers make him die a member of 
the Church of Rome. John Foxe, as we have seen, claims him 
as a Wickliffite. Warton, in his Essay on Pope, says that 
Chaucer as well as Dante held the papal power to be Antichrist, 
an assertion which Bossuet has tried with great pains to refute. 
Whether he died Papist or Protestant, his end is believed to 
have been devout arid edifying. Wood, in his Annals, informs 
us that although he did not repent at the last of his reflections 
at the clergy, "yet of that he wrote of love and bawdry it 
grieved him much on his deathbed ; for one that lived shortly 
after his time maketh report that when he saw death approach 
ing, he did often cry out i Woe is me, woe is me, that I cannot 
recall and annul those things which I have written of the base 
and filthy love of men towards women ; but alas ! they are now 
continued from man to man, and I cannot do what 1 desire.' " 
It is said, too, that he produced the lines, " Gode Counsaile of 
Chaucer," when on his deathbed, and in great anguish. We 
quote the last stanza 

w That thee is sent receive in buxomness ; 
The wrestling of this world asketh a fall ; 
Here is no home, here is but wilderness 
Forth, pilgrim, forth beast, out of thy stall 
Look up on high, and thanke God of all, 
Weive [leave] thy lusts, and let thy ghost thee lede, 
And truth thee shall deliver, it is no drede." 

Chaucer was buried in Westminster Abbey, in the south 
transept aisle, in that part which has since become Poets' 
Corner. A century and a half had to elapse ere a monument 
was erected over his ashes. This was done at the expense of 
one Nicholas Brigham, a gentleman of Oxford, himself a poet, 
and an enthusiastic admirer of our author. It stands at the 
north end of a magnificent recess, formed by four obtuse foli- 
aged arches, and is a plain altar, with three quatrefoils, and the 
same number of shields. The inscription and figures on the 
back are nearly obliterated. It was fit that Chaucer, the Father 
of English poetry, should be first of his tribe to lie down in that 
great gathering-place of the dust of poets. 


Chaucer died, as he had lived, amidst unquiet times. Henry 
IV, had been seated on the throne, and Richard, whom he had 
supplanted, was dead in prison. But though the wind was down, 
the sea continued to ride high. In the very year of our poet's 
death, a plot among the disaffected nobles to -remove " ingrate 
and canker'd Bolingbroke," was discovered just in time to pre 
vent its success, and many executions of men of rank were the 
result. To ingratiate himself with the clergy, Henry, much 
against his will, had to surrender the Lol-lards to the fury and 
flames of their adversaries. As if to avenge their blood, enemy 
after enemy now rose against England. First, the Gascons 
refused submission although they were speedily subdued by an 
army. Then Wales was stirred to its deepest valley by the breath 
of the great Glendower, and, rising, captured Mortimer, Earl of 
March, the lineal heir to the Crown. The Earl of Northumberland 
wished to treat for his ransom, but was not permitted by Henry. 
This and other circumstances connected with the Scotch pri 
soners taken at the battle of Homildon, by Northumberland and 
his famous son Hotspur, led to an alienation between them and 
their king, who was also their kinsman, and whom they had 
aided in establishing on the throne. Hence arose the formidable 
coalition glorified for ever in the pages of Shakspeare of Owen 
Glendower, Douglas, and Henry Percy or Hotspur, against the 
government of Henry a coalition broken at Shrewsbury on the 
21st of July 1403, after a desperate conflict in which the king 
himself and his son, afterwards the Harry of Agincourt, greatly 
distinguished themselves. Even after this, continual revolts, 
wars, and rumours of wars annoyed Henry IV., until at last in 
the very prime of life, not full forty-six, and having only reigned 
thirteen years, he breathed his last. His grand desire latterly 
was to carry his wearied body and sore wounded spirit to Jeru 
salem, to expire in the warfare of the Cross ; but, instead, he died 
if we may credit Shakspeare in a chamber bearing the same 
name : 

" King Henry. Doth any name particular belong 
Unto the chamber where I first did swoon ? 
Warwick. Tis call'd Jerusalem, my noble lord. 
King Henry. Laud be to God ! even there my life must end. 


It hath been prophesied to me many years 
I should not die but in Jerusalem : 
Which vainly I supposed the Holy Land. 
But bear me to that chamber there I '11 lie 
In that Jerusalem shall Henry die." 

Of the influence of Chaucer on English poetry we may have 
occasion to speak in an after paper. There can be no question 
that his training and history were admirably adapted for rearing 
him up as the parent of a healthy, hardy literature a literature 
abhorrent of morbidity and one-sidedness courteous and fair to 
all classes of the community blending seria cum jocis feeling 
that the thread of life is a mingled yarn of good and ill together, 
and that it is not the part of one aspiring to the character of a 
popular and large-hearted poet, to spin that thread finer or softer 
than Nature has done. Chaucer, accordingly, was a man of the 
world as well as a bard ; was a courtier most of his life, and yet 
had evidently mingled much with the people too having perhaps 
himself sprung from the ranks, and, at all events, having ate hia 
commons as a poor student at the universities. He had while 
abroad seen many men, and studied the manners of various 
nations ; he had reached, for that age, an unprecedented stretch 
of charity, blended with the powers of a " good hater " and a 
potential reformer. Loyal to his king, respectful to the nobility, 
and chivalrously gallant to the beauty and fashion of the age, he 
had yet strong ties uniting him to the Movement Party ; and 
perhaps, but for the foolish conduct of the John Balls and the 
Wat Tylers, might have taken a more decided stand in its 

A curious claim has been put in for Chaucer to a connexion 
with royalty. An ingenious writer in the Retrospective Re 
view thus states it: "John of Gaunt ultimately (after the 
death of the Castilian princess his second wife) married Catherine 
Pickard Rouet, the sister of Chaucer's wife. This lady, ere her 
marriage, had bora to Gaunt several illegitimate children, from 
one of whom Henry VIL was descended. And thus did the poet 
Chaucer, by matrimonial affinity, become allied to the royal 
family of England, and lived to see, in the person of Henry IV., 
the son of his brother-in-law seated upon the English throne. 


And if the grandeur of posthumous relationship could confer any 
additional lustre on the memory of superior genius, it might be 
remarked, that, according to the statements of an elaborate 
genealogist of the age of Charles I., among those to whom, in the 
course of descent, this alliance had given collateral affinity to the 
family of the father of English poetry, there could at that time 
have been enumerated in succession no less than eight kings, four 
queens, and five princesses of England ; six kings and three 
queens of Scotland ; two cardinals ; upwards of twenty dukes, 
and almost as many duchesses, of England ; several dukes of 
Scotland ; besides many potent princes and eminent nobility in 
foreign parts." 

It remains at present only to trace the bibliographical history of 
Chaucer's poems. 

The immortal William Caxton, the father of English printing, 
as Chaucer of English poetry, in 1474 published the first typo 
graphical work ever executed in England, namely, " The Game 
and Playe of the Chesse." A year or two later, a MS. copy, very 
imperfect, however, of "The Canterbury Tales," fell into his 
hands, and, struck with their fascinating qualities, he gave them 
his imprimatur. This was in 1475 or 1476, This coming to 
the knowledge of William Thynne, Esq., who happened to be in 
possession of a much better MS., he communicated it to Caxton. 
The printer, six years after the appearance of the first, gave to 
the public a second, and very much extended and improved 
edition. A third edition of " The Canterbury Tales," supposed 
to have been a copy of the second, is believed to have been 
published in 1495, " collected by William Caxton, and printed 
by Wynken de Worde, at Westmester;" but this, at any rate, 
could only have been a copy of Caxton's second edition, as he 
himself died in 1491 or 1492. There then succeeded two editions 
by Pynson the first with no date the second in 1526 ; and in 
this one there appeared a few of the other poems attributed to 

" The Canterbury Tales " were devoured with ravenous 
avidity, and a strong desire for more from the same hand was 
generally entertained. To gratify this, Mr Thynne carefully 
superintended a complete edition of all the poems that had then 


come to light, and dedicated it to Henry VIII., that " most 
gracious, virtuous, and of God most elect and worthy prince, in 
whom of very merite, duty, and succession was renewed the 
glorious title of Defensor of the Christian Faith;" and who, as 
the " most excellent, and in all virtues most Protestant prince," 
was alone deemed deserving to patronise the works of this won 
derful disinterred poet. 

It is questionable if any copy of this primitive edition of 
Chaucer's collected works be extant. But Tyrwhitt holds that 
the edition printed by Thomas Godfrey in 1532, if not the very 
edition of Thynne, which he believes it is, is assuredly copied from 
it, and may therefore be regarded in all critical references to be 
the original edition of the general works of the author. No 
further additions seem to have been made to this till Stowe and 
Speght published their successive editions in 1561, 1598 or 
1599, and 1602. In these there are some spurious additions, 
such as "The Cook's Tale," "The Squire's," "The Cook's 
Second Tale," and "Gamelyn;" but "The Court of Love," 
"The Flower and the Leaf," and "Chaucer's Dream," are 
thoroughly worthy of the great name and fame of their author. 
In the former volume, honourable mention was made of Mr 
Tyrwhitt's important contributions to the reputation and' the 
understanding of Chaucer, by his admirable edition of "The 
Canterbury Tales," of which our own may be called almost a 
reproduction. The plan of our series confines us principally to 
that work, but in our preliminary essay to the next or third 
volume, we propose, besides a general estimate of Chaucer's 
genius, and some critical remarks on his principal work, to give 
a short analysis of, and a few extracts from, his " Troilus and 
Cresseide," his " Court of Love," his " Legend of Good Women," 
his " Flower and the Leaf," his " House of Fame," and one or 
two other of his less generally known, but characteristic and 
admirable poems. 



























N..TES . . 259 



EXPERIENCE, though none authority 6583 

Were in this world, is right enough for me 

To speak of woe that is in marriage : 

For, lordings, since I twelve year was of age, 

(Thanked be God that is etern on live,) 

Husbands at churche door have I had five, 

(If I so often might have wedded be,) 

And all were worthy men in their degree. 5590 

But me was told, not longe time agone is, 
That sithen 1 Christ ne went never but onis 
To wedding, in the Cane* of Galilee, 
That by that ilk 2 ensample taught he me, 
That I ne shoulde wedded be but ones. 
Lo, hearke eke, what a sharp word for the nones, 8 
Beside a welle Jesu, God and man, 
Spake in reproof of the Samaritan : 
'Thou hast yhadde five husbands/ said he; 
'And thilke man, that now hath wedded thee, 6600 

* 'Cane:' Cana John ii. 





1 Com 


3 What 
sort of. 

4 Under 

5 In life. 

6 On God's 

7 Burn. 

Is not thine husband:' thus said he certain; 5601 

What that he meant thereby, I cannot sayn. 

But that I ask, why that the fifthe man 

Was none husband to the Samaritan? 

How many might she have in marriage? 

Yet heard I never tellen in mine age 

Upon this number definitioun; 

Men may divine, and glosen 1 up and down. 

But well I wot, express withouten lie, 
God bade us for to wax and multiply ; 56io 

That gentle text can I well understand. 
Eke well I wot, he said, that mine husband 
Should leave father and mother, and take to me; 
But of no number mentidn made he, 
Of bigamy or of octogamy ; 
Why should men then speak of it villainy? 

Lo here the wise king Dan 2 Solomon, 
I trow he hadde wives more than one, 
(As woulde God it lawful were to me 
To be refreshed half so oft as he) 5620 

Which 3 a gift of God had he for all his wives? 
No man hath such, that in this world on live is. 
God wot, this noble king, as to my wit, 4 
The firste night had many a merry fit 
With each of them, so well was him on live. 5 
Blessed be God that I have wedded five, 
Welcome the sixthe when that ever he shall. 
For since I will not keep me chaste in all, 
When mine husband is from the world ygone, 
Some Christian man shall wedden me anon. 5630 
For then the apostle saith that I am free 
To wed, a' God's half, 6 where it liketh me. 
He saith, that to be wedded is no sin; 
Better is to be wedded than to brinne. 7 


What recketh me though folk say villainy 5635 
Of shrewed 1 Lamech, and his bigamy] 
I wot well Abraham was an holy man, 
And Jacob eke, as far as ever I can, 2 
And each of them had wives more than two, 
And many another holy man also, 5640 

Where can ye see in any manner age 
That highe God defended 3 marriage 
By Express word? I pray you telleth 4 me, 
Or where commanded he virginity* 

I wot as well as ye, it is no dread, 5 
The apostle, when he spake of maidenhead, 
He said, that precept thereof had he none : 
Men may counsel a woman to be one, 6 
But counselling is no commandement; 
He put it in our owen judgement. seso 

For hadde God commanded maidenhead, 
Then had he damned 7 wedding out of dread; 
And certes, if there were no seed ysovv, 
Virginity then whereof should it grow? 

Paul durste not commanden at the lest 8 
A thing, of which his Master gave no hest. 9 
The dart 10 is set up for virginity, 
Catch whoso may, who runneth best let see. 
But this word is not take of every wight, 
But there as God will give it of his might. 5660 

I wot well that the apostle was a maid, 
But natheless, though that he wrote and 


He would that every wight were such as he, 
All n'is but counsel to virginity. 
And for to be a wife he gave me leave, 
Of indulgence, so n'is it no repreve 11 
To wodden me, if that my make 12 die, 

1 Ill-temp 

1 Know. 

3 Forbade. 

4 Tell. 

4 Doubt. 

Remain a 

7 Condem 

8 Least 

10 Goal. 

11 Reproof. 



2 Mind. 

3 Calleth. 

4 To divide. 

5 Foun 

6 Doctrine. 


Without exception of bigamy; 
All were it good no woman for to touch, 
(He meant as in his bed or in his couch,) 
For peril is both fire and tow to assemble; 
Ye know what this example may resemble. 

This is all and some, he held virginity 
More perfect than wedding in freelty: 1 
(Frailty clepe I, but if that he and she 
Would lead their lives all in chastity,) 
I grant it well, I have of none envy, 
Who maidenhead prefer to bigamy; 
It liketh them to be clean in body and ghost; 2 
Of mine estate I will not maken boast. 568 o 

For well ye know, a lord in his household 
Ne hath not every vessel all of gold: 
Some be of tree ; and do their lord service. 
God clepeth 3 folk to him in sundry wise, 
And evereach hath of God a proper gift, 
Some this, some that, as that him liketh shift. 4 
Virginity is great perfection, 
And continence eke with devotion : 
But Christ, that of perfection is well, 5 
Ne bade not every wight he should go sell 5690 

All that he had, and give it to the poor, 
And in such wise f ol!6w him and his lore : 6 
He spake to them that would live perfectly, 
And, lordings, (by your leave,) that am not I ; 
I will bestow the flower of all mine age 
In th' actes and the fruit of marriage. 

Tell me also, to what conclusion 
Were members made of generation, 
And of so perfect wise a wight y wrought ? 
Trusteth me well, they were not made for nought. 
Glose whoso will, and say both up and down, 5701 


That they were made for purgatiotin 5702 

Of urine, and of other thinges smale, 

And eke to know a female from a male : 

And for none other cause"? say ye no? 

The experience wot well it is not so. 

So that the clerkes be not with me wroth, 

I say this, that they maked 1 be for both, 

This is to say, for office, 2 and for ease 3 

Of engendrure, there we not God displease. sno 

Why should men elle's in their booke's set, 

That man shall yielden to his wife her debt? 

Now wherewith should he make his payement, 

If he ne used his silly instrument 1 

Then were they made upon a creature 

To purge urine, and eke for engendrure. 

But I say not that every wight is hold, 
That hath such harness as I to you told, 
To go and usen them in engendrure ; 
Then should men take of chastity no cure. 4 5720 
Christ was a maid, and shapen as a man, 
And many a saint, since that this world began, 
Yet lived they ever in perfect chastity. 
I n'ill 5 envy 6 with no virginity. 
Let them with bread of pured 7 wheat be fed, 
And let us wives eaten barley bread. 
And yet with barley bread, Mark tellen can, 
Our Lord Jesu refreshed many a man. 
In such estate as God hath cleped 8 us, 
I will persever, I n'am not precious, 9 5730 

In wifehood will I use mine instrument 
As freely as my Maker hath it sent. 
If I be dangerous 10 God give me sorrow, 
Mine husband shall it have both even and morrow, 
When that him list come forth and pay his debt. 

1 Made. 

3 Pleasure. 


5 Will not. 

6 Contend. 

7 Purified. 

* Called. 

9 Nice, or 

' Sparing, 
or dif 


1 Hind 


* Suffer. 

4 Rather. 
8 This year, 


An husband will I have, I will not let, 1 5736 

Which shall be both my debtor and my thrall, 

And have his tribulation withal 

Upon his flesh, while that I am his wife. 

I have the power during all my life 

Upon his proper body, and not he ; 

Right thus the apostle told it unto me, 

And bade our husbands for to love us well ; 

All this sentence me liketh every del. 2 

Up start the Pardoner, and that anon ; 
' Now, Dame/ quod he, * by God and by Saint John, 
Ye been a noble preacher in this case. 
I was about to wed a wife, alas! 
What? should I bie 3 it on my flesh so dear? 
Yet had I lever 4 wed no wife to-year/ 5 5750 

' Abide/ quod she, ' my tale is not begun. 
Nay, thou shalt drinken of another tun 
Ere that I go, shall savour worse than ale. 
And when that I have told thee forth my tale 
Of tribulation in marriage, 

O ' 

Of which I am expert in all mine age, 

(This is to say, myself hath been the whip,) 

Then may'st thou choosen whether thou wilt sip 

Of thilke tunne, that I shall abroach. 5 

Beware of it, ere thou too nigh approach. sreo 

For I shall tell ensamples more than ten : 

Whoso that n'ill beware by other men 

By him shall other men corrected be : 

These same wordes writeth Ptolomy, 

Read in his Almagest, and take it there/ 

'Dame, I would pray you, if your will it were/ 
3aide this Pardoner, ' as ye began, 
Tell forth your tale, and spareth for no man, 
And teacheth us young men of your practique/ 


2 With dif 


4 Held it of 
no use. 

Gladly, quod she, since that it may you like. 
But that I pray to all this company, 5771 

If that I speak after my fantasy, 
As taketh not a grief 1 of that I say, 
For mine intent is not but for to play. 

Now, sirs, then will I tell you forth my tale. 
As ever may I drinken wine or ale 
I shall say sooth, the husbands that I had 
As three of them were good, and two were bad. 
The three were goode men and rich and old. 
Unethes 2 mighten they the statute hold, 57so 

In which that they were bounden unto me. 
Yet wot well what I mean of this, pardie. 
As God me help, I laugh when that I think, 
How piteously a-night I made them swink, 3 
But by my fay, I told of it no store :* 
They had me given their land and their treasore, 
Me needed not do longer diligence 
To win their love, or do them reverence. 
They loved me so well, by God above, 
That I ne told no dainty 5 of their love. 5790 

A wise woman will busy her ever in one 6 
To gotten their love, there 7 as she hath none. 
But since I had them wholly in mine hand, 
And that they hadde given me all their land, 
What should I taken keep them for to please, 8 
But it were for my profit, or mine ease? 
I set them so a-w r orke, by my fay, 
That many a night they sangen Wala-wa! 
The bacon was not fet 9 for them, I trow, 
That some men have in Essex at Dunmow. ssoo 
I govern'd them so well after my law, 
That each of them full blissful was and fawe 10 
To bringcn me gay thinges from the fair. 

5 Set no 
value on. 

6 Constant 

7 As long. 


9 Fetched. 

10 Fain. 



a Make 
them be 


4 Know. 

5 Mad. 

6 Whisper- 


7 Buffoon 

8 Evil may 
it prove ! 

9 Expense. 

10 Kindred. 

11 Whore 

They were full glade when I spake them fair, 5304 
For God it wot, I cjiid them spiteously. 1 
Now hearkeneth how I bare me properly. 

Ye wise wives, that can understand, 
Thus shall ye speak, and bear them wrong on hand, 2 
For half so boldely can there no man 
Swearen and lien 3 as a woman can. 5310 

(I say not this by wives that be wise, 
But if it be when they them misadvise.) 

wise wife if that she can 4 her good, 
Shall bearen them on hand the cow is wood, 5 
And taken witness of their owen maid 
Of their assent : but hearkeneth how I said. 

' Sir olde kaynard,* is this thine array \ 
Why is my neigheboure's wife so gay ? 
She is honoured over all where she go'th, 
I sit at home, I have no thrifty cloth. 5820 

What dost thou at my neigheboure's house? 
Is she so fair? art thou so amorous? 
What rownest 6 thou with our maid? benedicite, 
Sir olde lecher, let thy japes 7 be. 

* And if I have a gossip, or a friend, 
(Withouten guilt,) thou chidest as a fiend, 
If that I walk or play unto his house. 

' Thou comest home as drunken as a mouse, 
And preachest on thy bench, with evil prefe: 8 
Thou sayst to me, it is a great mischief ssso 

To wed a poore woman, for costage : 9 
And if that she be rich of high parage, 10 
Then sayst thou, that it is a tormentry, 
To suffer her pride and her melancholy. 
And if that she be fair, thou very knave, 
Thou sayst that every holour 11 will her have. 

* ' Kaynard : ' a French term of reproach from ' canis.' 


She may no while in chastity abide, 5837 

That is assailed upon every side. 

Thou sayst some folk desire us for riche's, 

Some for our shape, and some for our fairness, 

And some, for she can either sing or dance, 

And some for gentiless and dalliance, 

Some for her handes and her armes smale : 

Thus go'th all to the devil by thy tale. 

Thou sayst, men may not keep a castle wall, 

It may so long assail'd be over all. 

And if that she be foul, thou sayst, that she 

Coveteth every man that she may see; 

For as a spaniel, she will on him leap, 

Till she may finden some man her to chepe. 1 5850 

Ne none so grey goose go'th there in the lake, 

(As sayst thou) that will be without a make. 2 

And sayst, it is an hard thing for to weld 3 

A thing, that no man will, his fhankes, 4 held. 

' Thus sayst thou, lorel, 5 when thou go'st to bed, 
And that no wise man needeth for to wed, 
Nor no man that intendeth unto heaven. 
With wilde thunder dint and fiery leven 6 
Mote 7 thy welked 8 necke be to-broke. 

' Thou sayst, that dropping houses, and eke smoke, 
And chiding wives maken men to flee 586 1 

Out of their own house ; ah ! benedicite, 
What aileth such an old man for to chide? 

* Thou sayst, we wives will our vices hide, 
Till we be fast, and then we will them shew. 
Well may that be a proverb of a shrew. 

* Thou sayst, that oxen, asses, horse, and hounds, 
They be assayed 9 at diverse stounds, 10 

Basons, laveres, ere that men them buy, 

Spoones, stooles, and all such husbandry, 5870 

2 Mate. 

3 Govern. 

4 With his 

5 Good-for- 

8 Light- 

1 May. 

8 Wither 

9 Proved. 

111 Seasons. 


1 Call. 

2 That. 

8 Nurse. 

4 Chamber 

6 Rela 



Spite of. 


And so be pottes, clothes, and array, 5871 

But folk of wives maken none assay, 
Till they be wedded, olde dotard shrew! 
And then, sayst thou, we will our vices shew. 

' Thou sayst also, that it displeaseth me, 
But if that thou wilt praisen my beauty, 
And but thou pore alway upon my face, 
And clepe 1 me fair dame in every place; 
And but thou make a feast on thilke 2 day 
That I was born, and make me fresh and gay; ssso 
And but thou do to my norice 3 honoiir, 
And to my chamberere 4 within my bower, 
And to my father's folk, and mine allies; 5 
Thus sayst thou, olde barrel full of lies. 
' And yet also of our prentice Jenkin, 
For his crisp hair, shining as gold so fine, 
And for he squireth me both up and down, 
Yet hast thou caught a false suspection : 

I will him not, though thou were dead to-morrow. 
' But tell me this, why hidest thou with sorrow 

The keyes of thy chest away from me? 5591 

It is my good as well as thine, pardie. 

What, ween'st 6 thou make an idiot of our dame? 

Now by that lord that cleped is Saint Jame, 

Thou shalt not bothe, though that thou were wood, 7 
Be master of my body and of my good, 

That one thou shalt forego maugre 8 thine eyen. 

What helpeth it of me to inquire and spyen? 
[ trow thou wouldest lock me in thy chest. 

Thou shouldest say, " Fair wife, go where thee lest; 9 

Take your disport; I will not Tieve no tales; 5901 

I know you for a true wife, Dame Ales." 

' We love no man, that taketh keep or charge 

Where that we go, we will be at our large. 



Of alle men yblessed may he be 5905 

The wise astrologer Dan Ptolomy, 

That saith this proverb in his Almagest : 

" Of alle men his wisdom is highest, 

That recketh not who hath the world in hand." 

'By this proverb thou shalt well. understand, 5910 
Have thou enough, what thar 1 thee reck or care 
How merrily that other folkes fare? 
For certes, olde dotard, by your leave, 
Ye shallen have queint right enough at eve. 
He is too great a niggard that will werne 2 
A man to light a candle at his lantern ; 
He shall have never the lesse light pardie. 
Have thou enough, thee thar 3 not plainen 4 thee. 

' Thou sayst also, if that we make us gay 
With clothing and with precious array, 5920 

That it is peril of our chastity. 
And yet, with sorrow, thou enforcest thee, 
And sayst these wordes in the apostle's name : 
" In habit made with chastity and shame 
Ye women shall apparel you," quod he, 
" And not in tressed hair, and gay perrie, 5 
As pearles, nor with gold, nor clothes rich." 

' After thy text, ne after thy rubrich 
I will not work as much el as a gnat. 

' Thou sayst also, I walk out like a cat ; 5930 

For whoso woulde singe the catte's skin, 
Then will the cat well dwellen in her inn; 6 
And if the catte's skin be sleek and gay, 
She will not dwellen in house half a day, 
But forth she will, ere any day be daw'd, 
To shew her skin, and go a caterwaw'd. 7 
This is to say, if I be gay, sir shrew, 
I will run out, my borel 8 for to shew. 



1 Behoves. 

5 Precious 

8 House. 

7 Cater 

8 Clothing. 





3 Make a 
jest of 

4 Thrive. 

5 Fourth. 

6 Pleasant. 

7 Shorten. 



10 Made 
them be 

11 Com- 

12 Ground. 

13 Stopped. 

Sir olde fool, what helpeth thee to spyen ? 5939 

Though thou pray Argus with his hundred eyen 
To be my wardecorps, 1 as he can best, 
In faith he shall not keep me, but me lest : 2 
Yet could I make his beard, 3 so may I the. 4 

* Thou sayest eke, that there be thinges three, 
Which thinges greatly troublen all this earth, 
And that no wight ne may endure the ferth : 5 
lefe 6 sir shrewe, Jesu short 7 thy life. 

* Yet preachest thou, and sayst, an hateful wife 
Yreckon'd is for one of these mischances. 

Be there none other manner resemblances 5950 

That ye may liken your parables to, 
But if a silly wife be one of tho ? 8 

* Thou likenest eke woman's love to hell, 
To barren land, where water may not dwell. 

' Thou likenest it also to wilde fire ; 
The more it burneth, the more it hath desire 
To consume every thing, that burnt will be. 

' Thou sayest, right as wormes shend 9 a tree, 
Right so a wife destroyeth her husbond ; 
This knowen they that be to wives bond/ 5950 

Lordings, right thus, as ye have understand, 
Bare I stiffly mine old husbands on hand, 10 
That thus they saiden in their drunkenness ; 
And all was false, but as I took witness 
On Jenkin, and upon my niece also. 

Lord, the pain I did them, and the woe, 
Full guilteless, by Godde's sweete pine ; 
For as an horse, I coulde bite and whine ; 

1 coulde plain, 11 and I was in the guilt, 

Or elle's oftentime I had been spilt. 5970 

Whoso first cometh to the mill, first grint ; 12 
I plained first, so was our war y stint. 13 



They were full glad to excusen them full blive 1 5973 

Of thing, the which they never aguilt 2 their live. 

Of wenches would I bearen them on hand, 

When that for sick 3 unnethes 4 might they stand, 

Yet tickled I his hearte for that he 

Wend 5 that I had of him so great chiertee: 6 

I swore that all my walking out by night 

Was for to espyen wenches that he dight : 6980 

Under that colour had I many a mirth. 

For all such wit is given us in our birth ; 

Deceite, weeping, spinning, God hath given 

To women kindly, 7 while that they may liven. 

And thus of one thing I may avaunten me, 

At th' end I had the better in each degree, 

By sleight or force, or by some manner thing, 

As by continual murmur or grutching, 8 

Namely a-bed, there hadden they mischance, 

There would I chide, and do them no pleasancT 

I would no longer in the bed abide, 991 

If that I felt his arm over my side, 

Till he had made his ransom unto me, 

Then would I suffer him to do his nicety. 9 

And therefore every man this tale I tell, 

Win whoso may, for all is for to sell : 

With empty hand men may no hawke's lure, < 

For winning would I all his lust endure, 

And maken me a feigned appetite, 

And yet in bacon had I never delight : eooo 

That maked 10 me that ever I would them chide. 

For though the pope had sitten them beside, 

I would not spare them at their owen board, 

For by my truth I quitt 11 them word for word. 

As help me very God omnipotent, 

Though I right now should make my testament, 

1 Quickly. 
8 Sinned. 


4 Scarcely. 

5 Thought. 


8 Corn- 



11 Requit 









9 Certain- 

I ne owe them not a word, that it n'is quit, eoor 

I brought it so abouten by my wit, 

That they must give it up, as for the best, 

Or elle's had we never been in rest. 

For though he looked as a wood 1 lion, 

Yet should he fail of his conclusion. 

Then would I say, ' Now, goode lefc, 2 take keep. 3 
How meekly looketh Wilken oure sheep! 
Come ner, 4 my spouse, and let me ba 5 thy cheek. 
Ye shoulden be all patient and meek, 
And have a sweete spiced conscience, 
Since ye so preach of Jobe's patience. 
SufPreth alway, since ye so well can preach, 
And but ye do, certain we shall you teach 6020 

That it is fair to have a wife in peace, 
One of us two must bowen doubteless : 
And since a man is more reasonable 
Than woman is, ye musten be sufFrable. 
What aileth you to grutchen 6 thus and groan? 
Is it for ye would have my queint alone ? 
Why take it all : lo, have it every del. 
Peter, I shrew 7 you but ye love it well. 
For if I woulde sell my belle chose, 
I coulde walk as fresh as is a rose, eoso 

But I will keep it for your owen tooth. 
Ye be to blame, by God, I say you sooth/ 

Such manner wordes hadden we on hand. 
Now will I speaken of my fourth husband. 

My fourthe husband was a revellour, 
This is to say, he had a paramour, 
And I was young and full of ragerie, 8 
Stubborn and strong, and jolly as a pie. 
Then could I dancen to an harpe smale, 
And sing, ywis, 9 as any nightingale, 6040 



When I had drunk a draught of sweete wine. 6041 

Metcllius, the foule churl, the swine, 

That with a staft* bereft his wife her life 

For she drank wine, though I had been his wife, 

Ne should he not have daunted me from drink : 

And after wine, of Venus most I think. 

For all so siker 1 as cold engend'reth hail, 

A likerous mouth must have a likerous tail. 

In woman vinolent 2 is no defence, 

This knowen lechers by experience. eoso 

But, lord Christ, when that it rememb'reth me 
Upon my youth, and on my jollity, 
It tickleth me about mine hearte-root, 
Unto this day it doth mine hearte boot, 3 
That I have had my world as in my time. 
But age, alas! that all will envenime, 4 
Hath me bereft my beauty and my pith : 
Let go, farewell ; the devil go therewith. 
The flour is gone, there n'is no more to tell, 
The bran, as I best may, now must I sell; eoeo 

But yet to be right merry will I fond. 5 
Now forth to tellen of my fourth husbond. 

I say, I had in hearte great despite, 
That he of any other had delight ; 
But he was quit, 6 by God and by Saint Joce:* 
I made him of the same wood a cross, 
Not of my body in no foul mannere, . . 
But certainly I made folk such cheer, 
That in his owen grease I made him fry 
For anger, and for very jealousy. 6070 

By God, in earth I was his purgatory, 
For which I hope his soule be in glory. 
For, God it wot, he sat full oft and sung, 

* ' Saint Joce :' Judocus, a saint of Pontbieu. 

1 Sure. 

* Full of 

3 Help. 

4 Poison. 





1 Buried. 

2 Cross. 

4 Ill-tem 

5 In a row. 

6 Flatter. 

7 Beaten. 

8 Better. 

10 Mer 

When that his shoe full bitterly him wrung. 6074 

There was no wight, save God and he, that wist 

In many a wise how sore that I him twist. 

He died when I came from Jerusalem, 

And li'th ygrave 1 under the roode-beam: 2 

All 3 is his tombe not so curious 

As was the sepulchre of him, Darius, eoso 

Which that Apelles wrought so subtlely. 

It is but waste to bury them preciously. 

Let him farewell, God give his soule rest, 

He is now in his grave and in his chest. 

Now of my fifthe husband will I tell : 
God let his soule never come in hell. 
And yet was he to me the moste shrew, 4 
That feel I on my ribbe's all by rew, 5 
And ever shall, unto mine ending day. 
But in our bed he was so fresh and gay, 6090 

And therewithal he could so well me glose, 6 
When that he woulde have my belle chose, 
That though he had me bet 7 on every bone, 
He coulde win again my love anon. 
I trow, I love him the bet, 8 for he 
Was of his love so dangerous 9 to me. 
We women have, if that I shall not lie, 
In this matter a quainte fantasy. 
Waite, what thing we may not lightly have, 
Thereafter will we cry all day and crave. eioo 

Forbid us thing, and that desiren we ; 
Press on us fast, and thenne will we flee. 
With danger uttren we all our chaftare; 10 
Great press at market maketh deare ware, 
And too great cheap is holden at little prise, 
Xliis knoweth every woman that is wise. 

My fifthe husband, God his soule bless, 



Which that I took for love and no riches, 6ios 

He sometime was a clerk of Oxenford, 

And had left school, and went at home at board 

With my gossip, dwelling in oure town: 

God have her soul, her name was Alisoun. 

She knew my heart and all my privity, 

Bet than our parish priest, so may I the. 1 

To her bewrayed I my counsel all ; 

For had my husband pissed on a wall, 

Or done a thing that should have cost his life, 

To her, and to another worthy wife, 

And to my niece, which that I loved well, 

I would have told his counsel every del. 2 6120 

And so I did full often, God it wot, 

That made his face full often red and hot 

For very shame, and blamed himself, for he 

Had told to me so great a privity. 3 

And so befell that ones in a Lent, 
(So often times I to my gossip went, 
For ever yet I loved to be gay, 
And for to walk in March, April, and May 
From house to house, to hearen sundry tales,) 
That Jenkin clerk, and my gossip, Dame Ales, GISO 
And I myself, into the fieldes went. 

Mine husband was at London all that Lent; 

I had the better leisure for to pleie, 4 

And for to see, and eke for to be seie 5 

Of lusty folk; what wist I where my grace s 

Was shapen for to be, or in what place ? 

Therefore made I my visitations 

To vigilies, 7 arid to processions, 

To preachings eke, and to these pilgrimages, 

To plays of miracles, and marriages, <JHO 

And weared upon my gay scarlet gites. 3 

VOL. 1L * B ""*?- 

1 Thrive. 

2 Whit 


1 Play. 
3 Seen. 
f Favour. 

- F.Mival- 




1 Apparel. 

2 Fed. 

4 Knowest. 

5 Fore 


7 Done. 

8 Made him 

9 Dreamed. 

1(1 Always. 
11 Counte 

12 Mate. 

13 Promise. 

These wormes, nor these mothes, nor these mites 
Upon my paraille 1 frett 2 them never a del, 3 
And wost 4 thou why? for they were used well. 

Now will I tellen forth what happed me : 
I say, that in the fieldes walked we, 
Till truely we had such dalliance 
This clerk and I, that of my purveyance 5 
I spake to him, and said him how that he, 
If I were widow, shoulde wedden me. 
For certainly, I say for no bobance, 6 
Yet was I never without purveyance 
Of marriage, nor of other thinges eke : 
I hold a mouse's wit not worth a leek, 
That hath but one hole for to starten to, 
And if that faille, then is all ydo. 7 

I bare him on hand 8 he had enchanted me 
(My dame taughte me that subtilty ;) ^^O 
And eke I said, I mette 9 of him all night, 
He would have slain me, as I lay upright, 
And all my bed was full of very blood; 
But yet I hope that ye shall do me good : 
For blood betokeneth gold, as me was taught. 
And all was false, I dream'd of him right naught, 
But as I follow'd aye my dame's lore, 
As well of that as of other things more. 

But now, sir, let me see, what shall I sayn 1 
Aha! by God I have my tale again. 
When that my fourthe husband was on bier, 
I wept algate 10 and made a sorry chere, 11 
As wives musten, for it is the usage ; 
And with my kerchief covered my visage ; 
But, for that I was purvey'd of a make, 12 
I wept but small, and that I undertake. 13 
To church was mine husband borne a-morrow 







With neighbours that for him maden sorrow, 
And Jenkin, oure clerk, was one of tho: 1 
As help me God, when that I saw him go 
After the bier, methought he had a pair 
Of legges and of feet, so clean and fair, 
That all my heart I gave unto -his hold. 
He was, I trow, a twenty winter old, 
And I was forty, if I shall say sooth, 
But yet I had alway a colte's tooth. 
Gat-toothed 2 I was, and that becamjejaoJ^file, 
I had the print of Sainte Venus' seal. 
As help me God, I was a lusty one, 
And fair, and rich, and young, and well begone 
And truely, as mine husbands tolden me, 
I had the beste queint that mighte be. 
For certes I am all venerian 
In feeling, and my heart is martian: 4 
Venus me gave my lust and likerousness, 
And Mars gave me my sturdy hardiness. 
Mine ascendent was Taure,* and Mars therein: 

Alas, alas, that ever love was sin ! 

I followed aye mine inclination 

By virtue of my constellation : 

That made me that 1 coulde not withdraw 

My chamber of Venus from a good fellaw. 

Yet have I Marte's mark upon my face, 

And also in another privy place. 

For God so wisly 5 be my salvatidn, 

I loved never by no discretion, 

But ever followed mine appetite, 

All were he shorte, longe, black, or white, 

I took no keep, so that he liked me, 

How poor he was, ne eke of what degree. 

*'Taure:' The Bull. 






1 Those. 

* Perhaps 

3 In a good 

of Mars. 




1 Civil. 

2 Would 

3 Pleasure. 



(! Bare 
7 Saw. 

8 Knowing. 

9 Same. 

10 Willows. 

11 Holy 

What should I say? but at the monthe's end 6209 
This jolly clerk Jenkin, that was so hend, 1 
Hath wedded me with great solemnity, 
And to him gave I all the land and fee, 
That ever was me given therebefore : 
But afterward repented me full sore. 
He n'olde 2 suffer nothing of my list. 3 
By God, he smote me ones with his fist, 
For that I rent out of his book a leaf, 
That of the stroke mine eare wax'd all deaf. 
Stubborn I was, as is a lioness, 
And of my tongue a very jangleress, 4 6220 

And walk I would, as I had done beforn, 
From house to house, although he had it sworn: 
For which he oftentimes woulde preach, 
And me of olde Homan gestes 5 teach. 

How he, Sulpitius Gallus, left his wife, 
And her forsook for term of all his life, 
Not but for open-headed 6 he her say 7 
Looking out at his door upon a day. 

Another Roman told he me by name, 
That, for his wife was at a summer game 6230 

Without his weeting, 8 he forsook her eke. 

And then would he upon his Bible seek 
That ilke 9 proverb of Ecclesiast, 
Where he commandeth, and forbiddeth fast, 
Man shall not suffer his wife go roll about. 

Then would he say right thus withouten doubt: 
' Whoso that buildeth his house all of sallows, 10 
And pricketh his blind horse over the fallows, 
And suffereth his wife to go seeken hallows, 11 
Is worthy to be hanged on the gallows/ 6240 

But all for nought, I sette not an haw 
Of his proverbs, ne of his olde saw; 



Ne I would not of him corrected be. 6243 

I hate them that my vices tellen me, 
And so do more of us (God wot) than I. 
This made him wood 1 with me all utterly; 
I n'olde not forbear 2 him in no case. 

Now will I say you sooth by Saint Thomas, 
Why that I rent out of his book a leaf, 
For which he smote me, so that I was deaf. 6250 

He had a book, that gladly night and day 
For his disport he would it read alway, 
He cleped it Valerie, and Theophrast, 
And with that book he laugh'd alway full fast. 
And eke there was a clerk sometime at Borne, 
A cardinal, that highte Saint Jerome, 
That made a book against Jovinian, 
Which book was there, and eke Tertullian, 
Chrysippus, Trotula, and Heloise, 
That was abbesse not far from Paris; 6260 

And eke the Parables 3 of Solomon, 
Ovide's Art,* arid bourdes 4 many one; 
And alle these were bounden in one volume. 
And every night and day was his custume 
(When he had leisure and vacation 
From other worldly occupation) 
To readen in this book of wicked wives. 
He knew of them more legends and more lives, 
Than be of goode wives in the Bible. 

For trusteth well, it is an impossible, 6270 

That any clerk will speaken good of wives, 
(But if it be of holy saintes' lives) 
Ne of none other woman never the mo. 
Who painted the lion, telleth 5 me, whol 
By God, if women hadden written stories, 

* * Ovidb's Art : ' Art of Love.' 

1 Furioua 

8 Would 
not ab- 
Btain or 

3 Proverbs. 

4 Jests. 

4 Toll 




8 Our 


As clerkes have, within their oratories, 6276 

They would have writ of men 'more wickedness, 

Than all the mark of Adam"' may redress. 

The children of Mercury and of Venus 

Be in their working full contrarious. 

Mercury loveth wisdom and science, 

And Venus loveth riot and dispense. 1 

And for their diverse disposition, 

Each falleth in other's exaltation. 

As thus, God wot, Mercury is desolate 

In Pisces, where Venus is exaltate, 

And Venus falleth where Mercury is raised. 

Therefore no woman of no clerk is praised. 

The clerk when he is old, and may nought do 

Of Venus' workes not worth his old shoe, 6290 

Then sitteth he down, and writeth in his dotage, 

That women cannot keep their marriage. 

But now to purpose, why I tolde thee, 

That I was beaten for a book, pardie. 

Upon a night Jenkin, that was our sire, 2 
Read on his book, as he sat by the fire, 
Of Eva first, that for her wickedness 
Was all mankinde brought to wretchedness, 
For which that Jesus Christ himself was slain, 
That bought us with his hearte-blood again. esoo 

Lo here express of women may ye find, 
That woman was the loss of all mankind. 

Then read he me how Samson lost his heres 
Sleeping, his leman cut them with her shears, 
Through whiche treason lost he both his eyen. 

Then* read he me, if that I shall not lien, 
Of Hercules, and of his Dejanire, 
That caused him to set himself a-fire. 

* 'Mark of Adam :' all the images of Adam i. e., all men. 




! Ill-na 

Nothing forgat he the care and the woe, 6309 

That Socrates had with his wives two ; 
How Xantippe cast piss upon his head. 
This silly man sat still, as he were dead, 
He wiped his head, no more durst he sayn, 
But, 'Ere the thunder stint 1 there cometh rain/ 

Of Phasiphae, that was the queen of Crete, 
For shrewedness 2 him thought the tale sweet. 
Fy, speak no more (it is a grisly thing) 
Of her horrible lust and her liking. 

Of Clytemnestra for her lechery 
That falsely made her husband for to die, 6320 

He read it with full good devotion. 

He told me eke, for what occasion 
Amphiorax at Thebes lost his life : 
My husband had a legend of his wife 
Eryphile, that for an ouche 3 of gold 
Hath privily unto the Greekes told, 
Where that her husband hid him in a place, 
For which he had at Thebes sorry grace. 

Of Lima told he me, and of Lucie : 
They bothe made their husbands for to die, 6330 
That one for love, that other was for hate. 
Lima her husband on an even late 
Enpoison'd hath, for that she was his foe : 
Lucia likerous loved her husband so, 
That for he should alway upon her think, 
She gave him such # manner 4 love-drink, 'Sort. 

That he was dead ere it were by the morrow : 
And thus algates 5 husbands hadden sorrow, 'Always. 

Then told he me, how one Latumeus 
Complained to his fellow Anus, 634 o 

That in his garden growed such a tree, 
On which he said how that his wives three 





s Think. 

5 Plucked. 


Hanged themselves for heartes despitous. 
' leve 1 brother/ quod this Arius, 
* Give me a plant of thilke blessed tree, 
And in my garden planted shall it be/ 

Of later date of wives hath he read, 
That some have slain their husbands in their bed, 
And let their lecher dight them all the night, 
While that the corpse lay in the floor upright : 6350 
And some have driven nailes in their brain, 
While that they slept, and thus they have them 

slain : 

Some have them given poison in their drink : 
He spake more harm than hearte may bethink. 

And therewithal he knew of more proverbs, 
Than in this world their growen grass or herbs. 

'Bet 2 is (quod he) thine habitation 
Be with a lion, or a foul dragon, 
Than with a woman using for to chide/ 

' Bet is (quod he) high in the roof, abide, 
Than with an angry woman down in the house, 
They be so wicked and contrarious : 
They haten that their husbands loven aye/ 

He said, 'A woman cast her shame away, 
When she cast off her smock; and furthermo, 
A faire woman, but she be chaste also, 
Is like a gold ring in a sowe's nose/ 

Who coulde ween, 3 or who coulde suppose 
The woe that in mine heart was, and the pine? 
And when I saw he n'olde never fine 4 
To readen on this cursed book all night, 
All suddenly three leaves have I plight 5 
Out of his book, right as he read, and eke 
I with my fist so took him on the cheek, 
That in our fire he fell backward adown. 




And lie up start, as doth a wood lioiin, 6376 

And witli his fist he smote me on the head, 

That on the floor I lay as I were dead. 

And when he saw how stille that I lay, 

He was aghast, and would have fled away, 

Till at the last out of my swoon I braid, 1 


' Oh, hast thou slain me, false thief? ' I said, 

'And for my land thus hast thou murder'd 

me 7 ? 

Ere I be dead, yet will I kissen thee/ 

And near he came, and kneeled fair adown, 

And saide, * Deare sister Alisoun, 

As help tne God I shall thee never smite : 

That I have done it- is thyself to wite, 2 

2 Blame. 

Forgive it me, and that 1 thee beseek/ 

And yet eftsoons I hit him on the cheek, 6390 

And saide, * Thief, thus much am I awreke. 3 

5 Avenged. 

Now will I die, I may no longer speak/ 

But at the last, with muchel care and woo 

We fell accorded 4 by ourselven two: 


He gave me all the bridle in mine hand 

To have the governance of house and land, 

And of his tongue, and of his hand also, 

And made him burn his book anon right tho. 5 . 

5 Then. 

And when that I had gotten unto me 

By mast'ry all the sovereignety, 6400 

And that he said, ' Mine owen true wife, 

Do as thee list, the term of all thy life, 

Keep thine honour, and keep eke mine estate ; ' 

After that day we never had debate. 

God help me so, I was to him as kind, 

As any wife from Denmark unto Ind, 

And also true, and so was he to me: 

I pray to God that sit in majesty 



1 Speak. 

2 Interpose. 

s Preamble. 
4 Hinder- 

6 Curse. 

6 Please. 

So bless his soule, for his mercy dear. 
Now will I say my tale, if ye will hear. 


The Friar laugh'd when he had heard all this : 
'Now Dame/ quod he, ' so have I joy and bliss, 
This is a long preamble of a tale/ 

And when the Sompnour heard the Friar gale, 1 
' Lo (quod this Sompnour) Godde's arme's two, 
A friar will entermete 2 him evermo: 
Lo, goode men, a fly and eke a frere 
Will fall in every .dish and eke mattere. 
What speakest thou of preambulatioun'? 3 
What ? amble or trot ; or peace, or go sit down : 
Thou lettest 4 our disport in this mattere/ 6421 

* Yea, wilt thou so, Sir Sompnour'?' quod the 


* Now by my faith I shall, ere that I go, 
Tell of a Sompnour such a tale or two, 
That all the folk shall laughen in this place/ 

'Now elles, Friar, I will beshrew 5 thy face, 
(Quod this Sompnour) and I beshrewe me, 
But if I telle tales two or three 
Of friars, ere I come to Sidenborne, 
That I shall make thine hearte for to mourn: 6430 
For well I wot thy patience is gone/ 

Our Hoste cried, 'Peace, and that anon;' 
And saide, ' Let the woman tell her tale. 
Ye fare as folk that drunken be of ale. 
Do, Dame, tell forth your tale, and that is best/ 

' All ready, sir/ quod she, ' right as you lest, 6 
If I have licence of this worthy Frere/ 

' Yes, Dame/ quod he, ' tell forth, and I will hear/ 




IN olde dayes of the king Artour, 6439 

Of which that Britons speaken great honour, 

All was this land f ulfill'd of faerie ; 

The Elf -queen, with her jolly company, 

Danced full oft in many a greene mead. 

This was the old opinion as I read; 

I speak of many hundred years ago ; 

But now can no man see none elves mo, 

For now the greate charity and prayers 

Of limiters 1 and other holy freres, 

That searchen every land and every stream, 

As thick as motes in the sunne-beam, 6450 

Blessing halls, chambers, kitchens, and bowers, 

Cities and burghs, castles high and towers, 

Thorpes 2 and barne's, shepens 3 and dairies, 

This maketh that there be no faeries : 

For there 4 as wont to walken was an elf, 

There walketh now the limiter himself, 

In undermeales 5 and in morrownings, 

And saith his matins and his holy things, 

As he go'th in his limitatioun, 6 

Women may now go safely up and down, 6460 

In every bush, and under every tree, 

There is none other incubus but he, 

And he ne will do them no dishonour. 

And so befell it, that this king Artour 
Had in his house a lusty bachelor, 
That on a day came riding from river: 
And happed, that, alone as she was borne, 
He saw a maiden walking him beforne, 


* Villages. 
8 Stables. 

4 Where. 

5 Dinner 




Spite of. 



* Learn. 

5 Satisfac 

6 Go. 

7 Sigheth. 


Of which maid he anon, maugre 1 her head, 6469 

By very force bereft her maidenhead : 

For which oppression was such clamour, 

And such pursuit unto the king Artour, 

That damned was this knight for to be dead 

By course of law, and should have lost his head, 

(Paraventure such was the statute tho, 2 ) 

But that the queen and other ladies mo 

So longe prayeden the king of grace, 

Till he his life him granted in the place, 

And gave him to the queen, all at her will 

To choose whether she would him save or spill. 3 6480 

The queene thank' th the king with all her might; 
And after this thus spake she to the knight, 
When that she saw her time upon a day. 

' Thou standest yet (quod she) in such array, 
That of thy life yet hast thou no surety; 
I grant thee life, if thou canst tellen me, 
What thing is it that women most desiren : 
Beware, and keep thy necke-bone from iron. 
And if thou canst not tell it me anon, 
Yet will I give thee leave for to gon 6490 

A twelvemonth and a day, to seek and lere 4 
An answer suffisant 5 in this mattere. 
And surety will I have, ere that thou pace, 6 
Thy body for to yielden in this place/ 

Woe was the knight, and sorrowfully he siketh; 7 
But what? he may not do all as him liketh. 
And at the last he chose him for to wend, 8 
And come again right at the yeare's end 
With such answer, as God would him purvey: 
And tak'th his leave, and wendeth forth his way. 

He seeketh every house and every pjace, 
Where as he hopeth for to linden grace, 


To Icarnen what thing women loven most : 
But he ne could arriven in no coast, 
Where as he mighte find in this mattere 
Two creatures according in fere. 1 
Some saiden, women loven best riche'ss, 
Some saiden honour, some saiden jolliness, 
Some rich array, some saiden lust a-bed, 
And oft time to be widow and to be wed. 

Some saiden, that we be in heart most eased 
When that we be yflatter'd and ypraised. 
He go'th full nigh the sooth, I will not lie ; 
A man shall win us best with flattery; 
And with attendance, and with business 
Be we ylimed 2 bo the more and less. 

And some men saiden, that we loven best 
For to be free, and do right as us lest, 3 
And that no man reprove us of our vice, 
But say that we be wise, and nothing nice. 
For truely there n'is none of us all, 
If any wight will claw us on the gall, 4 
That we n'ill 5 kick, for that he saith us sooth: 
Assay, 6 and he shall find it, that so do'th. 
For be we never so vicious within, 
We will be holden wise and clean of sin. 

And some saiden, that great delight have we 
For to be holden stable and eke secre, 
And in one purpose steadfastly to dwell, 
And not bewrayen thing that men us tell. 
But that tale is not worth a rake-stele. 7 
Pardie, we women cannen nothing hele, 8 
Witness on Mida; will ye hear the tale? 

Ovid, amonges other thinges smale, 
Said, Mida had under his longe heres 
Growing upon his head two ass's ears; 






2 Caught. 

3 Please. 

4 Fret the 

* Will not 


7 Handle 
of a rake. 

8 Conceal 



1 Marsh. 

2 Make a 

3 Learn. 

The whiche vice lie hid, as he best might, 6537 

Full subtlely from every manne's sight, 

That, save his wife, there wist of it no mo ; 

He loved her most, and trusted her also ; 

He prayed her, that to no creature 

She n'olde tellen of his disfigure. 

She swore him, nay, for all the world to win, 
She n'olde do that villainy, nor sin, 
To make her husband have so foul a name : 
She n'old not tell it for her owen shame. 
But natheless her thoughts that she did, 
That she so longe should a counsel hide ; 
Her thought it swell so sore about her heart, 
That needely some word her must astart; 6550 

And since she durst riot tell it to no man, 
Down to a marais 1 faste by she ran, 
Till she came there, her hearte was a-fire : 
And as a bittern bumbleth 2 in the mire, 
She laid her mouth unto the water down. 
' Bewray me not, thou water, with thy soun/ 
Quod she, ' to thee I tell it, and no mo, 
Mine husband hath long ass's eares two. 
Now is mine heart all whole, now is it out, 
I might no longer keep it out of doubt/ eseo 

Here may ye see, though we a time abide, 
Yet out it must, we can no counsel hide. 
The remnant of the tale, if ye will hear, 
Readeth Ovid, and there ye may it lere. 3 

This knight, of which my tale is specially, 
When that he saw he might not come thereby, 
(This is to say, what women loven most,) 
Within his breast full sorrowful was his ghost. 
But home he go'th, he mighte not sojourn, 
The day was come, that homeward must he turn. 


l More. 


And in his way, it happened him to ride 657 1 

In all his care, under a forest side, 

Whereas he saw upon a dance go 

Of ladies four-and-twenty, and yet mo. 1 

Toward this ilke dance he drew full yern, 2 

In hope that he some wisdom shoulde learn; 

But certainly, ere he came fully there, 

Yvanish'd was this dance, he n'ist not 3 where; 

No creature saw he that bare life, 

Save on the green he saw sitting a wife, esso 

A fouler wight there may no man devise. 

Again 4 this knight this old wife 'gan arise, 

And said, 'Sir Knight, here forth ne li'th no 


Tell me what that ye seeken by your fay. 5 
Paraventure it may the better be : 
These olde folk con 6 muchel thing/ quod she. 

'My leve 7 mother/ quod this knight, 'certain, 
I n'am but dead, but if that I can sayn, 
What thing it is that women most desire : 6589 

Could ye me wiss, 8 I would quit well your hire.' 
'Plight me thy truth here in mine hand/ quod 


' The nexte thing that I require of thee 
Thou shalt it do, if it be in thy might, 
And I will tell it you ere it be night/ 

' Have here my truthe/ quod the knight, 'I grant.' 
' Thenne/ quod she, ' I dare me well avaunt, 
Thy life is safe, for I will stand thereby, 
Upon my life the queen will say as I : 
Let see, which is the proudest of them all, 
That weareth on a kerchief or a caul, eeoo 

That dare say nay of that I shall you teach. 
Let us go forth withouten longer speech/ 




6 Know. 

7 Dear. 

8 Instruct. 



1 Promised. 



Then rowned she a pistel* in his ear, 
And bade him to be glad, and have no fear. 

When they been comen to the court, this knight 
Said, he had held his day, as he had hight,^ 
And ready was his answer, as he said. 
Full many a noble wife, and many a maid, 
And many a widow, for that they been wise, 
(The queen herself sitting as a justice,) 
Assembled been, his answer for to hear, 
And afterward this knight was bid appear. 

To every wight commanded was silence, 
And that the knight should tell in audience, 
What thing that worldly women loven best. 
This knight ne stood not still, as doth a beast, 
But to this question anon answer'd 
With manly voice, that all the court it heard, 

' My liege lady, generally/ quod he, 
' Women desiren to have sovereignty, 
As well over their husband as their love, 
And for to be in mast'ry him above. 
This is your most desire, though ye me kill, 
Do as you list, I am here at your will/ 

In all the court ne was there wife nor maid, 
Nor widow, that contraried that he said, 
But said, he was worthy to have his life. 

And with that word up start this olde wife, 
Which that the knight saw sitting on the green. 
' Mercy/ quod she, ' my sovereign lady queen, 
Ere that your court depart, as do me right. 
I taughte this answer unto this knight, 
For which he plighted me his truth e there, 
The firste thing I would of him requere, 
He would it do, if it lay in his might. 

* ' Rowned she a pistel :' Whispered a short speech or lesson. 






Before this court then pray I thee, Sir Knight/ 
Quod she, * that thou me take unto thy wife, 6637 
For well thou wo'st, 1 that I have kept thy life. 
If I say false, say nay upon thy fay/ 

This knight answer 'd, ' Alas and wala wa ! 
I wot right well that such was my behest. 2 
For Godde's love as choose a new request : 
Take all my good, and let my body go/ 

'Nay, then/ quod she, 'I shrew 3 us bothe two, 
For though that I be olde, foul, and pore, 4 
I n'old for all the metal nor the ore, 
That under earth is grave, 5 or li'th above, 
But if thy wife I were and eke thy love/ 

'My love V quod he, 'nay, my damnation. 
Alas ! that any of my nation ecso 

Should ever so foul disparaged be/ 
But all for nought ; the end is this, that he 
Constrained was, he needes must her wed, 
And tak'th this olde wife, and go'th to bed. 

Now, woulden some men say paraventure, 
That for my negligence I do no cure 6 
To tellen you the joy and all th' array, 
That at the feaste was that like 7 day. 

To which tiling shortly answeren I shall : 
I say there was no joy nor feast at all, 6660 

There n'as 8 but heaviness and muchel sorrow: 
For privily he wedded her on the morrow ; 
And all day after hid him as an owl, 
So woe was him, his wife looked so foul. 

Great was the woe the knight had in his thought 
When he was with his wife a-bed ybrought ; 
He walloweth, and he turneth to and fro. 

This olde wife lay smiling evermo, 
And said, 1 deare husband, benedicite, 



s Promise. 

3 Curse. 

4 Poor. 

5 Buried. 

6 Take no 

1 Same. 

8 Was not. 



1 Fastidi 

8 Burst 



8 Ances 

Fareth every knight thus with his wife as ye ? 6670 

Is this the law of king Artoure's house ? 

Is every knight of his thus dangerous ? l 

J am your owen love, and eke your wife, 

I am she, which that saved hath your life, 

And certes yet did I you never unright. 

Why fare ye thus with me this firste night 1 

Ye faren like a man had lost his wit. 

What is my guilt 1 for Godde's love tell it, 

And it shall be amended, if I may/ 

' Amended !' quod this knight, ' alas! nay, nay, 
It will not be amended never mo ; 6681 

Thou art so loathly, and so old also, 
And thereto comen of so low a kind, 
That little wonder is though I wallow and wind ; 
So woulde God, mine hearte woulde brest/ 2 
'Is this/ quod she, 'the cause of your unrest V 
' Yea, certainly/ quod he, ' no wonder is/ 
* Now, Sir/ quod she, ' I could amend all this, 
If that me list, ere it were dayes three, 
So well ye mighten bear you unto me.* 6690 

' But for ye speaken of such gentleness, 
As is descended out of old rich ess, 
That therefore shallen ye be gentlemen ; 
Such arrogance n'is not worth an hen. 

' Look who that is most virtuous alway, 
Privy and apert, 3 and most intendeth aye 
To dcrihe gentle deedes that he can, 
And take him for the greatest gentleman. 
Christ will 4 we claim of him our gentleness, 
Not of our elders 5 for their old richess. 6700 

For though they gave us all their heritage, 

* ' So well ye mighten bear you unto me :' If so be that you could conduct 
yourself well towards me. 



For which we claim to be of high parage, 1 6702 

Yet may they not bequeathen, for no thing, 
To none of us, their virtuous living, 
That made them gentlemen called to be, 
And bade us follow them in such degree. 

* Well can the wise poet of Florence, 
That highte Dant', speaken of this sentence r 
Lo, in such manner rhyme is Dante's tale. 

' Full seld' upriseth by his branches smale 6710 
Prowess of man, for God of his goodness 
Wills that we claim of him our gentleness : 
For of our elders may we nothing claim 
But temporal thing, that man may hurt and maim. 

* Eke every wight wot this as well as I, 
If gentleness were planted naturally 
UnTo a certain Jin'_age down the line, 

Privy and ape*rt, 2 then would they never fine 3 

To do of gentleness the fair office, 

They mighten 4 do no villainy or vice. 6720 

* Take fire, and bear it into the darkest house 
Betwixt this and the mount of Caucasus, 

And let men^slmt the doores, and go thenne, 5 
Yet will th^fire)as faire lie and brenne 6 
As twenty thousand men might it behold; 
His office natural aye will it hold, 
Up 7 peril of my Me, till that it die. 

' Here may ye see well, how that gentcry 8 
Is not annexed to possession, 

Since folk ne do their operation 6730 

Alway, as doth the fire, lo, in his kind. 
For God it wot, men may full often find 
A lorde's son do shame and villainy. 
And he that will have price 9 of his gentry, 
For 10 he was boren of a gentle house, 

1 Parent 

9 Open. 

4 Would be 

5 Thence. 
9 Burn. 

1 Upon. 

9 Reward. 

10 Because. 



1 Churl. 
L> Renown. 


4 Doubt. 

5 Dear. 

6 Forsake. 

And had his elders noble and virtuous, 6736 

And n'ill himselven do no genjle deedes, 

Ne follow his gentle ancestry, that dead is, 

He n'is not gentle^be he duke or earl; 

For villain's sinful deedes make a cherl. 1 

For gejLtlejiess n'is but the renomee 2 

Of thine ancestors, for their high bounty, 

Which is a strange thing to thy person : 

Thy gentleness cometh from God alone. 

Then cometh our very gentleness of grace ; 

It was no thing bequeath'd us with our place. 

' Thinketh how noble, as saith Valerius, 
Was thilke 3 Tullius Hostilius, 
That out of povert' rose to high nobless. 
Headeth Senec, and readeth eke Boece, 6750 

There shall ye see express, that it no drede 4 is, 
That he is gentle that doth gentle deedes. 
And therefore, leve 5 husband, I thus conclude, 
All be it that mine ancestors were rude, 
Yet may the highe God, and so hope I, 
Granten me grace to liven virtuously : 
Then am I gentle, when that I begin 
To liven virtuously, and waiven 6 sin 

* And there as ye of povert 7 me repreve, 
The highe God, on whom that we believe, 6760 

In wilful povert' chose to lead his life : 
And certes, every man, maiden, or wife, 
May understand, that Jesus heaven king 
Ne would not choose a vicious living. 

'Glad povert' is an honest thing certain; 
This will Senec and other clerkes sayn. 
Whoso that halt him paid* of his povert', 
I hold him rich, all had he not a shert. 

* 'Halt him paid :' Holds him satisfied; is content. 


He that cov^teth is a poore wight, 6769 

For he would have that is not in his might. 
But he that nought hath, ne coveteth t' have, 
Is rich, although ye hold him but a knave. 
Very povert' is sinne properly. 

' Juvenal saith of povert' merrily : 
The poore man when he go'th by the way, 
Before the thieves he may sing and play. 
/ is hateful good ; and, as I guess, 

A full great bringer out of business ; l 

A great amender eke of sapience 

To him, that taketh it in patience. 6780 

Povert' is this, although it seem elenge, 2 



Possession that no wight will challenge. 
Povert' full often, when a man is low, 
Maketh his God and eke himself to know : 
Povert' a spectacle is, as thinketh me, 
Through which he may his very friendes see. 
And, therefore, Sir, since that I you not grieve, 
Of my povert' no more me repreve. 

' Now, Sir, of eld, 3 that ye reproven me : j :l Age. 

And certes, Sir, though none authority 6790 

Were in no book, ye gentles of honour 
Say, that men should an olde wight honour, 
And clepe 4 him father, for your gentleness ; call 

And authors shall I finden, as I guess. 

' Now there ye say that I am foul and old, 
Then dread ye not to be a cokewold. 
For filth, and eld also, so may I the, 5 s Thrive. 

Be greate wardens upon chastity. 
But natheless, since I know your delight, 
I shall fulfil your worldly appetite. 6800 

* Choose now,' quod she, 'one of these thinges tway, 
To have me foul and old till that I dey, 6 Die. 




2 Con 

3 Sigheth. 

4 I care 


And be to you a true humble wife, 

And never you displease in all my life : 

Or elles will ye have me young and fair, 

And take your aventure of the repair, 1 

That shall be to your house because of me, 

Or in some other place it may well be \ 

Now choose yourselven whether that you liketh/ 

This knight aviseth 2 him, and sore siketh, 3 68io 
But at the last he said in this manne're ; 

' My lady and my love, and wife so dear, 
I put me in your wise governance, 
Chooseth yourself which may be most pleasance 
And most honour to you and me also, 
I do no force 4 the whether of the two : 
For as you liketh, it sufficeth me.' 

' Then have I got the mastery/ quod she, 
' Since I may choose and govern as me lest/ 5 
1 Yea certes, wife/ quod he, ' I hold it best/ 6820 

' Kiss me/ quod she, ' we be no longer wroth, 
For by my truth I will be to you both, 
This is to say, yea, bothe fair and good. 
I pray to God that I may sterven 6 wood, 7 
But 8 I to you be all so good and true, 
As ever was wife, since that the world was new; 
And but I be to-morrow as fair to seen, 
As any lady, emperess, or queen, 
That is betwixt the East and eke the West, 
Do with my life and death right as you lest. 6830 
Cast up the curtain, look how that it is/ 

And when the knight saw verily all this, 
That she so fair was, and so young thereto, 
For joy he hent 9 her in his armes two : 
His hearte bathed in a bath of bliss, 
A thousand times a-row 10 he 'gan her kiss: 


And she obeyed him in every thing, 6837 

That mighte do him pleasance or liking. 

And thus they live unto their lives' end 

In perfect joy, and Jesu Christ us send 

Hushandes meek and young, and fresh a-bed, 

And grace to overlive them that we wed. / f Y~C{. 

And eke I pray Jesus to short their lives, ( ^^ 

That will not be governed by their wives. 
And old and angry niggards of dispense, 
God send them soon a very pestilence. 



1 Sort of. 

2 Look. 

3 Good 

4 Low-bred 

5 Thrive. 

7 A petty 

8 Satisfied. 

10 Civil. 


THIS worthy limiter, this noble Frere, 6847 

He made alway a manner 1 louring chere 2 

Upon the Som'nour, but for honesty 3 

No villain's word 4 as yet to him spake he : 

But at the last he said unto the wife ; 

' Dame, (quod he,) God give you right good life, 

Ye have here touched, all so may I the, 5 

In school matter a full great difficulty. 

Ye have said muchel thing right well, I say; 

But, Dame, here as we riden by the way, 

Us needeth not to speaken but of game, 

And let 6 authorities, in Godde's name, 

To preaching, and to school eke of clergy. 

'But if it like unto this company, 6860 

I will you of a Som'nour tell a game; 
Pardie, 7 ye may well knowen by the name, 
That of a Som'nour may no good be said; 
I pray that none of you be evil apaid ; 8 
A Som'nour is a runner up and down 
With mandements 9 for fornicatioun, 
And is ybeat at every towne's end/ 

Then spake our Host ; * Ah, Sir, ye should be hend 10 
And courteous, as a man of your estate, 


In company we will have no debate : 6870 

Telleth your tale, and let the Som'nour be/ 

' Nay/ quod the Som'nour, ' let him say by me 

What so him list ; when it cometh to my lot, 

By God I shall him quiten every groat. 

I shall him tellen what a great honour 

It is to be a flattering limitour, 

And eke of many another manner 1 crime, 

Which needeth not rehearsen at this time, 

And his office I shall him tell ywis/ 2 

Our Hoste answer'd, ' Peace, no more of this/ 6880 

And afterward he said unto the Frere, 

e Tell forth your tale, mine owen master dear/ 


Whilom there was dwelling in my country 

An archdeacon, a man of high degree, 

That boldely did execution, 

In punishing of fornication, 

Of witchecraft, and eke of baudery, 

Of defamation, and avoutery, 3 

Of churche-reeves, 4 and of testaments, 

Of contracts, and of lack of sacraments, 6890 

Of usure, and of simony also ; 

But certes lechers did he greatest woe ; 

They shoulden singen, if that they were hent ; 5 

And smalle tithers weren foul yshent, 6 

If any person would upon them plain, 7 

There might astert them no pecunial pain.* 

For smalle tithes, and small offering, 

* ' No pecunial pain :' They were released from no pecuniary trouble. 

1 Sort of. 

2 Assured 

3 Adultery. 

4 Church 






2 Wild. 

3 Stews. 
* Care. 

5 Whistle. 

6 Mandate. 

7 Ignorant. 


He made the people piteously to sing ; 6898 

For ere the bishop hent them with his crook 
They weren in the archedeacon's book ; 
Then had he through his jurisdiction 
Power to do on them correction. 

He had a Som'nour ready to his hand, 
A slier boy was none in Engleland; 
For subtlely he had his espiaille, 1 
That taught him well where it might ought avail. 
He coulde spare of lechers one or two, 
To teachen him to four and twenty mo. 
For though this Som'nour wood 2 be as an hare, 
To tell his harlotry I will not spare, 69io 

For we be out of their correction, 
They have of us no jurisdiction, 
Ne never shall have, term of all their lives. 

' Peter, so be the women of the stives/ 3 
Quod this Som'nour, ' yput out of our cure/ 4 

' Peace, with mischance and with misaventure/ 
Our Hoste said, ' and let him tell his tale. 
Now telleth forth, and let the Som'nour gale, 5 
Ne spareth not, mine owen master dear/ 

This false thief, this Som'nour, (quod the Frere,) 
Had alway baudes ready to his hand, 6921 

As any hawk to lure in Engleland, 
That told him all the secrets that they knew, 
For their acquaintance was not come of new, 
They weren his approvers privily. 
He took himself a great profit thereby : 
His master knew not alway what he wan. 
Withouten mandement, 6 a lewed 7 man 
He coulde summon, up pain of Christe's curse, 
And they were inly glad to fill his purse, 6930 

And maken him great feastes at the nale. 8 



And right as Judas liadde purses smale 1 6932 

And was a thief, right such a thief was he, 
His master had but half his duety. 
He was (if I shall given him his laud) 
A thief, and eke a Som'nour, and a baud. 

He had eke wenches at his retinue, 
That whether that Sir Robert or Sir Hugh, 
Or Jack, or Ralph, or whoso that it were 
That lay by them, they told it in his ear. 6940 

Thus was the wench and he of one assent; 
And he would fetch a feigned mandement, 
And summon them to the chapter bothe two, 
And pill 2 the man, and let the wenche go. 
Then would he say, * Friend, I shall for thy sake 
Do 3 strike thee out of oure letters blake; 4 
Thee thar 5 no more as in this case travail; 
I am thy friend there I may thee avail/ 
Certain he knew of briberies many mo, 
Than possible is to tell in yeare's two: 6950 

For in this world n'is dogge for the bow, 
That can an hurt deer from an whole yknow, 
Bet 6 than this Som'nour knew a sly lechour, 
Or an avoutrer, or a paramour: 
And for that was the fruit of all his rent, 
Therefore on it he set all his intent. 

And so befell, that ones on a (lay 
This Som'nour, waiting ever on his prey, 
Rode forth to summon a widow, an old ribibe,* 
Feigning a cause, for he would have a bribe. 6960 
And happed that he saw before him ride 
A gay yeoman under a forest side : 
A bow he bare, and arrows bright and keen, 

* 'Ribibe:' Musical instrument; supposed to be applied to an old 
woman on account of its shrillness. 



3 Cause. 

4 Black. 
8 Behov- 





1 Short 

2 Well 

Shade of 

4 Dear. 


* Chatter 

7 A bird of 



He had upon a courtepy 1 of green, 

An hat upon his head with fringes blake. 

'Sir/ quod this Som'nour, 'hail, and well atake/ 2 

' Welcome/ quod he, ' and every good fella w ; 
Whither ridest thou under this green shaw?' 3 
Saide this yeoman ; ' wilt thou far to-day T 

This Som'nour him answer'd, and saide, *Nay. 
Here faste by/ quod he, ' is mine intent 6971 

To riden, for to raisen up a rent, 
That 'longeth to my lorde's duety/ 

'Ah! art thou then a bailiff?' 'Yea/ quod he. 
(He durste not for very filth and shame 
Say that he was a Som'nour, for the name.) 

'Depar dieux,' quod this yeoman, 'leve 4 brother, 
Thou art a bailiff, and I am another. 
I am unknowen, as in this country. 
Of thine acquaintance I will prayen thee, 6980 

And eke of brotherhood, if that thee list. 
I have gold and silver lying in my chest; 
If that thee hap to come into our shire, 
All shall be thine, right as thou wilt desire/ 

'Grand mercy,' quod this Som'nour, 'by my 


Evereach in other's hand his truthe lay'th, 
For to be sworne brethren till they dey. 5 
In dalliance they riden forth and play. 

This Som'nour, which that was as full of jangles, 6 
As full of venom be these wariangles, 7 6990 

And ever inquiring upon every thing, 
'Brother/ quod he, 'where is now your dwelling, 
Another day if that I should you seech 1 ?' 8 

This yeoman him answer'd in sof te speech ; 
' Brother/ quod he, ' far in the North countrjf, 
Whereas I hope some time I shall thee see. 



Ere \ve depart I shall tliee so well wiss, 1 6997 

That of mine house ne shalt thou never miss/ 

* Now, brother/ quod this Som'nour, * I you pray, 
Teach me, while that we riden by the way, 
(Since that ye be a bailiff as am I,) 
Some subtilty, and tell me faithfully 
In mine office how I may moste win. 
And spareth 2 not for conscience or for sin, 
But, as my brother, tell me how do ye/ 

' Now by my truthe, brother mine/ said he, 
' As I shall tellen thee a faithful tale. 
My wages be full strait and eke full smale ; 
My lord is hard to me and dangerous, 3 
And mine office is full laborious ; 7010 

And therefore by extortion I live, 
Forsooth I take all that men w r ill me give. 
Algates 4 by sleighte or by violence 
From year to year I win all my dispense ; 
I can no better tellen faithfully/ 

'Now certes/ quod this Som'nour, 'so fare I; 
I spare not to taken, God it wot, 
But if it be too heavy or too hot. 
What I may get in counsel privily, , 
No manner conscience of that have I. 7020 

N'ere 5 mine extortion, I might not liven, 
Ne of such japes 6 will I not be shriven. 7 
Stomach nor conscience know I none; 
I shrew 8 these shrifte-fathers 9 evereach one. 
Well be we met, by God and by Saint Jame. 
But, leve brother, tell me then thy name/ 
Quod this Som'nour. Right in this meane while 
This yeoman 'gan a little for to smile. 

'Brother/ quod he, 'wilt thou that I thee tell? 
I am a fiend, my dwelling is in hell, 7030 

1 Inform. 

2 Spare. 


4 However. 

8 Were it 


7 Confess 

8 Curse. 



1 Whether. 

2 Know. 



And here I ride about my purchasing, 7031 

To wot whe'r 1 men will give me any thing. 

My purchase is th' effect of all my rent. 

Look how thou ridest for the same intent 

To winnen good, thou reckest never how, 

Eight so fare I, for riden will I now 

Unto the worlde's ende for a prey/ 

'Ah/ quod this Som'nour, 'benedicite! what say ye? 
I ween'd ye were a yeoman truely. 
Ye have a manne's shape as well as I. 70*0 

Have ye then a figure determinate 
In helle, there ye be in your estate?' 

'Nay certainly/ quod he, ' there have we none, 
But when us liketh we can take us one. 
Or elle's make you ween that we be shape 
Sometime like a man, or like an ape ; 
Or like an angel can I ride or go ; 
It is no wonder thing though it be so, 
A lousy juggler can deceiven thee, 
And pardie yet can 2 I more craft than he/ 7050 

1 Why/ quod the Som'nour, ' ride ye then or gon 
In sundry shape, and not alway in one?' 

' For we/ quod he, ' will us such forme make, 
As most is able our preye for to take/ 

'What maketh you to have all this labour?' 

'Full many a cause, leve Sir Som'nour/ 
Saide this fiend. ' But alle thing hath time ; 
The day is short, and it is passed prime, 
And yet ne won I nothing in this day ; 
I will intend 3 to winning, if I may, 7060 

And not intend our thinges to declare : 
For, brother mine, thy wit is all too bare 
To understand, although I told them thee. 
But for 4 thou askest, why labouren we : 



For 1 sometimes we be Godde's instruments, 7065 

And meanes to do his commandements, 

When that him list, upon his creatures, 

In divers acts and in diverse figures : 

Withouten him we have no might certain, 

If that him list to standen thereagain. 2 7070 

And sometimes at our prayer have we leave, 

Only the body, and not the soul to grieve : 

Witness on Job, whom that we diden 3 woe. 

And sometimes have we might on bothe two, 

This is to say, on soul and body eke. 4 

And sometimes be we suffer'd for to seek 

Upon a man, and do his soul unrest 

And not his body, and all is for the best. 

When he withstandeth our temptatidn, 

It is a cause of his salvatitfn, 7oso 

All be it that it was not our intent 

He should be safe, but that we would him hent. 6 

And sometimes be we servants unto man, 

As to the archebishop Saint Dunstan, 

And to the apostle servant eke was I/ 

* Yet tell me/ quod this Som'nour, ' faithfully, 
Make ye you newe bodies thus alway 
Of elements V The fiend answered, ' Nay : 
Sometimes we feign, and sometimes we arise 
With deade bodies, in full sundry wise, 7090 

And speak as renably, 6 and fair, and well, 
As to the Pythoness did Samuel : 
And yet will some men say it was not he. 
I do no force 7 of your divinity. 
But one thing warn I thee, I will not jape, 8 
Thou wilt algates 9 weet 10 how we be shape : 
Thou shalt hereafterward, my brother dear, 
Come, where thee needeth not of me to lear, 11 

1 Because. 

1 Against 

3 Caused. 

4 Also. 


6 Reason 

7 I heed 


9 Never 

10 Know. 

11 Learn. 



1 Learn. 

2 Better. 


4 Prepared. 



For tliou shalt by thine own experience 7099 

Conne 1 in a chaier red of this sentence, 

Bet 2 than Virgile, while he was on live, 

Or Dant' also. Now let us riden blive, 3 

For I will holden company with thee, 

Till it be so that thou forsake me/ 

' Nay/ quod this Som'nour, ' that shall ne'er betide. 
I am a yeoman, knowen is full wide ; 
My truthe will I hold, as in this case ; 
For though thou were the devil Sathanas, 
My truthe will I hold to thee, my brother, 
As I have sworn, and each of us to other, 71 10 

For to be true brethren in this case, 
And both we go abouten our purchase. 
Take thou thy part, what that men will thee give, 
And I shall mine, thus may we bothe live. 
And if that any of us have more than other, 
Let him be true, and part it with his brother/ 

* I grante/ quod the devil, ' by my fay.' 
And with that word they riden forth their way, 
And right at entering of the towne's end, 
To which this Som'nour shope 4 him for to wend, 7120 
They saw a cart, that charged was with hay, 
Which that a carter drove forth on his way. 
Deep was the way, for which the carte stood : 
The carter smote, and cried as he were wood, 5 
'Heit Scot! heit Brok! what, spare ye for the stones'? 
The fiend (quod he) you fetche body and bones, 
As farforthly as ever ye were foal'd, 
So muchel woe as I have with you tholed. 6 7128 
The devil have all, both horse, and cart, and hay/ 

The Som'nour said, * Here shall we have a prey;' 
And near the fiend he drew, as nought ne were,* 

* ' Nought ne were : ' Nothing were the matter. 




Full privily, and rouned 1 in his ear: 
' Hearken, my brother, hearken, by thy faith, 
Hearest thou not, how that the carter saith? 
Hent 2 it anon, for he hath given it thee, 
Both hay and cart, and eke his caples 3 three/ 

' Nay/ quod the devil, ' God wot, never a del, 4 
It is not his intent, trust thou me well, 
Ask him thyself, if thou not trowest 5 me, 
Or elles stint 6 a while and thou shalt see/ 7140 

This carter thwacketh his horse upon the croup, 
And they began to drawen and to stoop. 
' Heit now/ quod he ; * there, Jesu Christ you ble&s, 
And all his hande's work, both more and less! 
That was well twight, 7 mine owen Hard 8 boy, 
I pray God save thy body and Saint Eloy. 
Now is my cart out of the slough pardie/ 

'Lo, brother/ quod the fiend, 'what told I thee? 
Here may ye see, mine owen dear brother, 
The churl spake one thing, but he thought another. 
Let us go forth abouten our vidge; 9 7151 

Here win I nothing upon this carriage/' 

When that they comen somewhat out of town, 
This Som'nour to his brother 'gan to roun ; 
' Brother/ quod he, ' here wonneth an old rebeck, 
That had almost as lief to lose her neck, 
As for to give a penny of her good. 
I will have twelve pence though that she be wood, 10 
Or I will summon her to our office; 
And yet, God wot, of her know I no vice. 
But for thou canst not, as in this country, 
Winnen thy cost, take here example of me/ 

This Som'nour clappeth at the widow's gate ; 
' Come out/ he said, ' thou olde very trate ; n 
I trow thou hast some friar or priest with thee/ 


1 Whisper 

8 Lay hold 

3 Horses. 

4 Whit. 

5 Believest 

6 Stop. 

8 Gray. 


10 Mad. 

11 Term for 
an old 





Am not 

Lay to 






'Who clappeth 1 ?' said this wife, 'benedicite, 7166 
God save you, Sir, what is your sweete will?' 

' I have/ quod he, ' of summons here a bill. 
Up 1 pain of cursing, looke that thou be 
To-morrow before the archedeacon's knee, 
To answer to the court, of certain things/ 

' Now lord/ quod she, ' Christ Jesu, king of kings, 
So wisly 2 helpe me, as I ne may. 3 
I have been sick, and that full many a day. 
I may not go so far (quod she) nor ride, 
But I be dead, so prick'th it in my side. 
May I not ask a libel, Sir Som'nour, 
And answer there by my prociiratour 
To such thing as men would apposen 4 me?' 

'Yes/ quod this Som'nour, 'pay anon, let see, 7iso 
Twelve pence to me, and I will thee acquit. 
I shall no profit have thereby but lit : 5 
My master hath the profit and not I. 
Come off, and let me riden hastily; 
Give me twelve pence, I may no longer tarry/ 

'Twelve pence!' quod she, 'now lady Saint Mary 
So wisly help me out of care and sin, 
This wide world though that I should it win, 
Ne have I not twelve pence within my hold. 
Ye knowen well that I am poor and old; 7100 

Kithe your almess 6 upon me poore wretch/ 

' Nay then/ quod he, 'the foule fiend me fetch, 
If I thee' excuse, though thou shouldest be spilt/ 7 

'Alas!' quod she, 'God wot, I have no guilt/ 

'Pay me/ quod he, 'or by the sweet Saint Anne 
As I will bear away thy newe pan 
For debte', which thou owest me of old, 
When that thou madest thine husband cuckold, 
I paid at home for thy correction/ 


' Thou liest/ quod she, ' by my salvation 7200 

Ne was I ne'er ere now, widow nor wife, 
Summon'd unto your court in all my life ; 
Ne never I n'as but of my body true. 
Unto the devil rough and black of hue 
Give I thy body and my pan also/ 

And when the devil heard her cursen so 
Upon her knees, he said in this mannere; 

' Now, Mabily, mine oweri mother dear, 
Is this your will in earnest that ye sayT 

' The devil/ quod she, ' so fetch him ere he dey, 1 
And pan and all, but he will him repent/ 7211 

' Nay, olde stoat, 2 that is not mine intent/ 
Quod this Som'nour, 'for to repenten me 
For any thing that I have had of thee ; 
I would I had thy smock and every cloth/ 

' Now, brother/ quod the devil, * be not wroth : 
Thy body and this pan be mine by right. 
Thou shalt with me to helle yet to-night, 
Where thou shalt knowen of our privity 
More than a master of divinity/ 7220 

And with that word the foule fiend him hent. 3 
Body and soul, he with the devil went, 
Where as these Som'nours have their heritage ; 
And God that maked after his image 
Mankinde, save and guide us all and some, 
And lene 4 this Som'riour good man to become. 

Lordings, I could have told you, (quod this Frere,) 
Had I had leisure for this Som'nour here, 
After the text of Christ, and Paul, and John, 
And of our other doctors many one, 7230 

Such paines, that your heartes might agrise, 6 
All be it so, that no tongue may devise, 
Though that I might a thousand winter tell, 



3 Seized. 


8 Shudder. 



2 For 

The pains of thilke 1 cursed house of hell. 7234 

But for to keep us from that cursed place, 

Waketh, and prayeth 2 Jesu of his grace, 

So keep us from the tempter, Sathanas. 

Heark'neth this word, beware as in this case. 

The lion sits in his await alway 

To slay the innocent, if that he may. 7240 

Disposeth aye your heartes to withstond 

The fiend, that you would maken thrall and bond; 

He may not tempten you over your might, 

For Christ will be your champion and your knight; 

And prayeth, that this Som'nour him repent 


Of his misdeeds, ere that the fiend him hent/ 3 




1 Furious. 

THIS Som'nour in his stirmps high he stood, 7247 

Upon this Friar his hearte was so wood, 1 

That like an aspen leaf he quoke for ire : 

Lordings, quod he, but one thing I desire, 

I you beseech, that of your courtesy, 

Since ye have heard this false Friar lie, 

As suffereth me I may my tale tell. 

This Friar boasteth that he knoweth hell, 
And, God it wot, that is but little wonder, 
Friars and fiends be but little asunder. 

For pardie, ye have often time heard tell, 
How that a friar ravish'd was to hell 
In spirit ones by a visidun, 

And as an angel led him up and down, 7260 

To shewen him the paine's that there were, 
In all the place saw he not a frere, 
Of other folk he saw enough in woe. 

Unto this angel spake the friar tho; 2 'Then. 

' Now, Sir,' quod he, ' have friars such a grace, 
That none of them shall comen in this placet 

' Yes/ quod this angel, 'many a millioun:' 
And unto Sathanas he led him down. 
CAnd now hath Sathanas, saith he, a tail 



1 By na 

2 Begging 

Broader than of a carrack is the sail.) 7270 

' Hold up thy tail, thou Sathanas/ quod he, 

' Shew forth thine ers, and let the friar see 

Where is the nest of friars in this place/ 

And ere than half a furlong way of space, 

Eight so as bees out swarmen of a hive, 

Out of the devil's ers there 'gannen drive 

A twenty thousand friars on a rout. 

And throughout hell they swarmed all about, 

And come again, as fast as they may gon, 

And in his ers they creepen evereach one : 7230 

He clapt his tail again, and lay full still. 

This friar, when he looked had his fill 
Upon the torments of this sorry place, 
His spirit God restored of his grace 
Into his body again, and he awoke ; 
But riatheless for feare yet he quoke, 
So was the devil's ers aye in his mind, 
That is his heritage of very kind. 1 

God save you alle, save this cursed Frere ; 
My prologue will I end in this mannere. 7290 


LORDINGS, there is in Yorkshire, as I guess, 
A marsh country ycalled Holderness, 
In which there went a limiter 2 about 
To preach, and eke to beg, it is no doubt. 
And so befell that on a day this frere 
Had preached at a church in his mannere, 
And specially aboven every thing 
Excited he the people in his preaching 


To trentals, and to give for Godde's sake, 7299 

Wherewith men mighten holy houses make, 
There as divine service is honour 'd, 
Not there as it is wasted and devour'd, 
Ne there it needeth not for to be given, 
As to possessioners,* that mayen liven 
(Thanked be God) in wealth and abundance. 

* Trentals/ said he, ' deliveren from penance 
Their friendes' soules, as well old as young, 
Yea, when that they be hastily ysung, 
Not for to hold a priest, jolif l and gay, 

He singeth not but one mass on a day. 7310 

Delivereth out/ quod he, * anon the souls. 
Full hard it is, with flesh-hook or with owls 
To be yclawed, or to burn or bake : 
Now speed you hastily for Christe's sake/ 

And when this friar had said all his intent, 
With qui cum patre forth his way he went. 
When folk in church had giv'n him what them lest, 2 
He went his way, no longer would he rest, 
With scrip and tipped staff, ytucked high : 
In every house he 'gan to pore and pry, 7320 

And begged meal and cheese, or elles corn. 
His fellow had a staff tipped with horn, 
A pair of tables all of ivory, 
And a pointel 3 ypolish'd fetisly, 4 
And wrote alway the names, as he stood, 
Of alle folk that gave them any good, 
Askaunce that he woulde for them pray. 

Give us a bushel wheat, or malt, or rey, 5 
A Godde's kichel, 6 or a trippe 7 of cheese, 

Or elles what you list, we may not chese; 8 7330 

* ' Possessioners :' A name given to such religious communities as were 
endowed with lands, &c. 



3 A style, 
or pencil. 

4 Neatly. 


9 Little 

7 Small 

9 Choose. 





4 Where. 



7 Servant. 

8 Purposed. 

A Godde's halfpenny, or a mass penny; 7331 

Or give us of your brawn, if ye have any, 

A dagon 1 of your blanket, leve dame, 

Our sister dear, (lo, here I write your name,) 

Bacon or beef, or such thing as ye find/ 

A sturdy harlot 2 went them aye behind, 
That was their hostes man, and bare a sack, 
And what men gave them, laid it on his back. 
And when that he was out at door, anon 
He planed away the names evereach one, 7340 

That he before had written in his tables : 
He served them with nifles 3 and with fables. 

' Nay, there thou liest, thou Som'nour,' quod the 

' Peace,' quod our Host, ' for Christe's mother dear, 
Tell forth thy tale, and spare it not at all/ 

' So thrive I, (quod this Som'nour,) so I shall/ 

So long he went from house to house, till he 
Came to an house, there 4 he was wont to be 
Refreshed more than in a hundred places. 
Sick lay the husband man, whose that the place is, 
Bedrid upon a couche now he lay : 7351 

' Deus hie,' quod he, ' Thomas friend, good day,' 
Saide this friar all courteously and soft. 
' Thomas,' quod he, ' God yield it you," 5 " full oft 
Have I upon this bench faren full wele, 5 
Here have I eaten many a merry meal/ 
And from the' bench he drove away the cat, 
And laid adown his potent 6 and his hat, 
And eke his scrip, and set himself adown : 
His fellow was ywalked into town 7360 

Forth with his knave, 7 into that hostelry, 
Where as he shope 8 him thilke night to lie. 

* 'God yield it you :' God reward you for it. 


2 Com 

' Where. 

' deare master/ quod this sicke man, 7368 

' How have ye faren since that March began ? 
I saw you not this fourteen night and more/ 

' God wot/ quod he, ' labour 'd have I full sore, 
And specially for thy salvatidn 
Have I said many a precious orison, 
And for our other friendes, God them bless. . 
I have this day been at your church at mess, 1 7370 
And said a sermon to my simple wit, 
Not all after the text of holy writ, 
For it is hard to you, as I suppose, 
And therefore will I teach you aye the glose. 2 
Glosing is a full glorious thing certain, 
For letter slay'th, so as we clerkes sayn. 
There have I taught them to be charitable, 
And spend their good there 3 it is reasonable. 
And there I saw our dame; ah, where is she?' 

* Yonder I trow that in the yard she be/ 7380 
Saide this man, * and she will come anon/ 

' Hey master, welcome be ye by Saint John/ 
Saide this wife; ' how fare ye hoartily?' 

This friar ariseth up full courteously, 
And her embraceth in his armes narrow, 
And kisseth her sweet, and chirketh as a sparrow 
With his lippes : ' Dame/ quod he, * right well, 
As he that is your servant every del. 4 
Thanked be God, that you gave soul and life, 
Yet saw I not this day so fair a wife 7390 

In all the churche, God so save me/ 

* Yea, God amend defaulted, Sir/ quod she, 
* Algates 5 welcome be ye, by my fay/ 

' Grand mercy, Dame, that have I found alway. 
But of your greate goodness, by your leave, 
I woulde pray you that ye not you grieve, 





1 Confes 

2 Cover. 


4 Thin 

5 Pains 

I will with Thomas speak a little throw : 7397 

These curates be so negligent and slow 

To gropen tenderly a conscience. 

In shrift, 1 in preaching is my diligence 

And study, in Peter's wordes and in Paul's, 

I walk and fishe Christian menne's souls, 

To yield our Lord Jesu his proper rent; 

To spread his word is set all mine intent/ 

' Now by your faith, deare Sir,' quod she, 
' Chideth him well for Sainte Charity. 
He is aye angry as is a pismire, 
Though that he have all that he can desire, 
Though I him wrie 2 a-night, and make him warm, 
And over him lay my leg and eke mine arm, 7410 
He groaneth as our boar, li'th in our sty : 
Other disport of him right none have I, 
I may not please him in no manner case/ 

4 Thomas, je vous dis, Thomas, Thomas, 
This maketh the fiend, this muste be amended. 
Ire is a thing that high God hath defended, 3 
And thereof will I speak a word or two/ 

' Now, master/ quod the wife, ' ere that I go, 
What will ye dine \ I will go thereabout/ 

* Now, Dame/ quod he, ( je vous dis sans doute, 7420 
Have I not of a capon but the liver, 
And of your white bread not but a shiver, 4 
And after that a roasted pigge's head, 
(But I ne would for me no beast were dead,) 
Then had I with you homely suffisance. 
I am a man of little sustenance. 
My spirit hath his fost'ring in the Bible. 
My body is aye so ready and so penible 5 
To waken, that my stomach is destroyed. 
I pray you, Dame, that ye be nought annoy'd, 7430 



Though I so friendly you my counsel shew ; 7431 
By God, I n'old 1 have told it but a few/ 

' Now, Sir/ quod she, ' but one word ere I go ; 
My child is dead within these weekes two, 
Soon after that ye went out of this town/ 

' His death saw I by revelati<5un/ 
Saide this friar, ' at home in our dortour. 2 
I dare well say, that ere than half an hour 
After his death, I saw him borne to bliss 
In mine avision, so God me wiss. 3 7440 

So did our sexton, and our fermerere,* 
That have been true friars fifty year ; 
They may now, God be thanked of his loan, 
Maken their jubilee, and walk alone. 
And up I rose, and all our convent eke, 
With many a teare trilling on our cheek, 
Withouten noise or clattering of bells, 
Te Deum was our song, and nothing else, 
Save that to Christ I bade an orison, 
Thanking him of my revelation. 7450 

For, Sir and Dame, trusteth me right well, 
Our orisons be more effectuel, 
And more we see of Christe's secret things, 
Than borel folk, 4 although that they be kings. 
We live in povert', and in abstinence, 
And borel folk in riches and dispense 
Of meat and drink, and in their foul delight. 
We have this worlde's lust 5 all in despight. 6 
Lazar and Dives liveden diversely, 
And diverse guerdon hadden they thereby. 7460 

Whoso will pray, he must fast and be clean, 
And fat his soul, and keep his body lean. 

* 'Fermerere:' The officer in a monastery who had charge of the 

1 Would 

2 Dormi 


4 Laymen. 

5 Pleasure. 





3 Would 

4 Watch. 

5 Simple. 

6 Compas 

We fare, as saith the Apostle; cloth 1 arid food 7463 
Sufficeth us, though they be not full good. 
The cleanness and the fasting of us freres, 
Maketh that Christ accepteth our prayeres. 

'Lo, Moses forty days and forty night 
Fasted, ere that the high God full of might 
Spake with him in the mountain of Sinay : 
With empty womb of fasting many a day, 7470 

Received he the lawe, that was written 
With Godde's finger; and Eli, well ye witten, 2 
In mount Oreb, ere he had any speech 
With highe God, that is our lives' leech, 
He fasted long, and was in contemplance. 

'Aaron, that had the temple in governance, 
And eke the other priestes every one, 
Into the temple when they shoulden gon 
To prayen for the people, and do servise, 
They n'olden 3 drinken in no manner wise 7480 

No drinke, which that might them drunken make, 
But there in abstinence pray and wake, 4 
Lest that they dieden : take heed what I say 
But they be sober that for the people pray 
Ware that I say no more : for it sufficeth. 
Our Lord Jesu, as holy writ deviseth, 
Gave us example of fasting and prayeres : 
Therefore we mendicants, we sely 5 freres, 
Be wedded to povert' and continence, 
To charity, humbless, and abstinence, 7490 

To persecution for righteousness, 
To weeping, misericorde, 6 and to cleanness. 
And therefore may ye see that our prayeres 
(I speak of us, we mendicants, we freres,) 
Be to the highe God more acceptable 
Than youres, with your feastes at your table. 



'From Paradise first, if I shall not lie, 7497 

Was man out chased for his gluttony, 
And chaste was man in Paradise certain. 
But hearken now, Thomas, what I shall sayn, 
I have no text of it, as I suppose, 
But I shall find it in a manner glose ; l 
That specially our sweete Lord Jesus 
Spake this by friars, when he saide thus, 
" Blessed be they that poor in spirit be." 
And so forth all the gospel may ye see, 
Whether it be liker our profession, 
Or theirs that swimmen in possession, 
Fie on their pomp, and on their gluttony, 
And on their lewedness : I them defy. 75io 

Me thinketh they be like Jovinian, 
Fat as a whale, and walken as a swan; 
All vinolent as bottle in the spence; 2 
Their prayer is of full great reverence ; 
When they for soule's say the Psalm of Davit, 
Lo, "Buf" they say, Cor meum eructavit, 

* Who followeth Christe's gospel and his lore 3 
But we, that humble be, and chaste, and pore, 4 
Workers of Godde's word, not auditoiirs? 
Therefore right as an hawk upon a sours 5 7520 

Up spring'th into the air, right so prayeres 
Of charitable and chaste busy freres, 
Maken their sours to Godde's eare's two. 
Thomas, Thomas, so may I ride or go, 
And by that lord that cleped is Saint Ive, 
N'ere thou our brother, shouldest thou not thrive. 
In our chapiter pray we day and night 
To Christ, that he thee sende health and might 
Thy body for to wielden hastily/ 

' God wot/ quod he, ' nothing thereof feel I, 7530 

1 Com 

8 Store 

8 Doctrine. 

4 Poor. 

5 A rise. 



1 Divers 


2 Better. 

3 Laid out. 

4 Gone. 

5 Trick. 

6 Little. 

7 Made one, 

8 Work. 

9 Lie. 

As help me Christ, as I in fewe years 7531 

Have spended upon divers manner 1 freres 
Full many a pound, yet fare I never the bet; 2 
Certain my good have I almost beset : 3 
Farewell my good, for it is all ago/ 4 

The friar answer'd, '0 Thomas, dost thou sol 
What needeth you diverse friars to seech? 
What needeth him that hath a perfect leech, 
To seeken other leeches in the town ? 
Your inconstance is your confusion. 7540 

Hold ye then me, or elles our convent, 
To pray for you be insufficient ? 
Thomas, that jape 5 n'is not worth a mite; 
Your malady is for we have too lite. 6 
Ah, give that convent half a quarter oats; 
And give that convent four and twenty groats ; 
And give that friar a penny, and let him go : 
Nay, nay, Thomas, it may no thing be so. 
What is a farthing worth parted on twelve ? 
Lo, eache thing that is oned 7 in himselve 7550 

Is more strong than when it is yscatter'd. 
Thomas, of me thou shalt not be yflatter'd, 
Thou wouldest have our labour all for nought. 
The highe God, that all this world hath wrought, 
Saith, that the workman worthy is his hire. 
Thomas, nought of your treasure I desire 
As for myself, but that all our convent 
To pray for you is aye so diligent : 
And for to builden Christe's owen chirch. 
Thomas, if ye will learnen for to wirch, 8 7500 

Of building up of churches may ye find 
If it be good, in Thomas' life of Inde. 

' Ye liggen 9 here full of anger and of ire, 
With which the devil set your heart on fire, 



And chiden here this holy innocent 7555 

Your wife, that is so good and patient. 
And therefore trow 1 me, Thomas, if thee lest, 2 
Ne strive not with thy wife, as for the best. 
And bear this word away now by thy faith, 
Touching such thing, lo, what the wise saith: 

' Within thy house ne be thou no li<5n ; 
To thy subjects do none oppression ; 
Ne make thou not thine acquaintance to flee. 

'And yet, Thomas, eftsoones charge I thee, 
Beware from ire that in thy bosom sleepeth, 
Ware from the serpent, that so slily creepeth 
Under the grass, and stingeth subtilly. 
Beware, my son, and hearken patiently, 
That twenty thousand men have lost their lives 
For striving with their lemans and their wives. 7580 
Now since ye have so holy' and meek a wife, 
What needeth you, Thomas, to maken strife? 
There n'is ywis 3 no serpent so cruel, 
When man tread'th on his tail, nor half so fell, 
As woman is, when she hath caught an ire; 
Very vengeance is then all her desire. 

' Ire is a sin, one of the greate seven, 
Abominable unto the God of heaven, 
And to himself it is destruction. 
This every lewed 4 vicar and parson 7590 

Can say, how ire engend'reth homicide; 
Ire is in sooth executor of pride. 

' I could of ire* say so muchel sorrow, 
My tale shoulde lasten till to-morrow. 
And therefore pray I God both day and night, 
An irous 5 man God send him little might, 
It is great harm, and certes great pity 
To set an irous man in high degree. 

1 Believe. 



8 Passion 



1 Chief ma 

2 Term of 


4 Thought. 

5 Counsel. 

6 At all 

T Cause. 

8 Given to 


10 Attend 

' Whilom there was an irons potestat, 1 7599 

As saith Senec, that during his estate 2 
Upon a day out riden knightes two ; 
And, as fortune would that it were so, 
That one of them came home, that other nought. 
Anon the knight before the judge is brought, 
That saide thus ; " Thou hast thy fellow slain, 
For which I deem thee to the death certain." 
And to another knight commanded he ; 
" Go, lead him to the death, I charge thee." 
And happen'd, as they wenten by the way 
Toward the place there as he shoulde dey, 3 76io 

The knight came, which men wenden 4 had been dead. 
Then thoughten they it was the beste rede 5 
To lead them bothe to the judge again. 
They saiden, " Lord, the knight ne hath not slain 
His fellow ; here he standeth whole alive." 

' " Ye shall be dead," quod he, " so may I thrive, 
That is to say, both one, and two, and three." 
And to the firste knight right thus spake he : 

'"I damned thee, thou must algate 6 be dead: 
And thou also must neede's lose thine head, 7 6 20 
For thou art cause why thy fellow deyeth." 
And to the thirde knight right thus he sayeth, 
" Thou hast not done that I commanded thee." 
And thus he did do 7 slay them alle three. 

' Irous Cambyses was eke dronkelew, 8 
And aye delighted him to be a shrew. 9 
And so befell, a lord of his meinie, 10 
That loved virtuous morality, 
Said on a day betwixt them two right thus : 
" A lord is lost, if he be vicious ; 7630 

And drunkenness is eke a foul record 
Of any man, and namely of a lord. 



There is full many an eye and many an ear 7633 

Awaiting on a lord, and he n'ot 1 whe'r. 2 

For Godde's love, drink more attemprely: 3 

Wine maketh man to losen wretchedly 

His mind, and eke his limbes every one." 

" The reverse shalt thou see," quod he, " anon, 

And prove it by thine own experience, 

That wine ne doth to folk no such offence. 7640 

There is no wine bereaveth me my might 

Of hand, nor foot, nor of mine eyen sight." 

And for despite he dranke muchel more 

An hundred part than he had done before, 

And right anon, this cursed irous wretch 

This knighte's sone let before him fetch, 

Commanding him he should before him stand : 

And suddenly he took his bow in hand, 

And up the string he pulled to his ear, 

And with an arrow he slew the child right there. 7650 

' "Now whether have I a siker 4 hand or non?" 5 
Quod he, " Is all my might and mind agone ? 
Hath wine bereaved me mine eyen sight V 9 

' What should I tell the answer of the knight ? 
His son was slain, there is no more to say. 
Beware therefore with lordes for to play, 
Singeth Placebo, and I shall if I can, 
But 6 if it be unto a poore man: 
To a poor man men should his vices tell, 
But not to a lord, though he should go to hell. 76 GO 

'Lo, irous Cyrus, thilke 7 Persian, 
How he destroyed the river of Gisen, 
For that an horse of his was drent 8 therein, 
When that he wente Babylon to win : 
He made that the river was so small, 
That women might it waden over all. 


1 Knows 

8 Whether. 


* Sure. 
5 For 'not.' 

6 Unless. 

7 That. 

8 Drowned. 




2 Confess 

3 Raise. 

4 Scarcely. 

5 Founda 

6 Habita 

Are able. 


Lo what said he, that so well teachen can? 7667 

Ne be no fellow to none irons man, 

Ne with no wood 1 man walke by the way, 

Lest thee repent ; I will no further say. 

' Now, Thomas, leve brother, leave thine ire, 
Thou shalt me find as just as is a squire; 
Hold not the devil's knife aye to thine heart, 
Thine anger doth thee all too sore smart, 
But shew to me all thy confession/ 

' Nay/ quod the sicke man, ' by Saint Simon 
I have been shriven 2 this day of my curate ; 
I have him told all wholly mine estate. 
Needeth no more to speak of it, saith he, 
But if me list of mine humility/ 7680 

' Give me then of thy gold to make our cloister/ 
Quod he, 'for many a mussel and many an 


When other men have been full well at ease, 
Hath been our food, our cloister for to rese : 3 
And yet, God wot, uneth 4 the fundament 5 
Performed is, nor of our pavement 
N'is not a tile yet within our wones : 6 
By God, we owen forty pound for stones. 
Now help, Thomas, for him that harrow 'd hell, 
For elles must we oure bookes sell, 7690 

And if ye lack our predication, 
Then go'th this world all to destruction. 
For whoso from this world would us bereave, 
So God me save, Thomas, by your leave, 
He would bereave out of this world the sun. 
For who can teach and worken as we conne \ 7 
And that is not of little time, (quod he,) 
But sithen 8 Elie was, and Elisee, 
Have friars been, that find I of record, 



In charity, ythanked bo our Lord 7700 

Now, Thomas, help for Sainte Charity/ 

And down anon he set him on his knee. 

This sicke man wox well nigh wood for ire, 
He woulde that the friar had been a-fire 
With his false dissimulation, 

' Such thing as is in my possession/ 
Quod he, ' that may I give you and none other : 
Ye say me thus, how that I am your brother/ 
* Yea certes/ quod this friar, ' yea, trusteth well ; 
I took our dame the letter of our seal/ 7710 

' Now well/ quod he, ' and somewhat shall I give 
Unto your holy convent while I live ; 
And in thine hand thou shalt it have anon, 
On this condition, and other none, 
That thou depart 1 it so, my deare brother, 
That every friar have as much as other: 
This shalt thou swear on thy profession 
Withouten fraud or cavillation/ 

* I swear it/ quod the friar, c upon my faith.' 
And therewithal his hand in his he lay'th ; 7720 
' Lo here my faith, in me shall be no lack/ 

* Then put thine hand adown right by my back/ 
Saide this man, ' and grope well behind, 
Beneath my buttock, there thou shalte find 

A thing, that I have hid in privity/ 
' Ah/ thought this friar, * that shall go with me/ 
And down his hand he launch eth to the clift, 
In hope for to finden there a gift. 

And when this sicke man felte this frere 
About his towel gropen there and here, 7730 

Amid his hand he let the friar a fart; 
There n'is no capel 2 drawing in a cart, 
That might have let a fart of such a soun. 




1 Fierce. 

2 Purpose. 

3 Servants. 

4 Counte 

5 Fetched. 

6 Ground. 

7 With dif 

8 Reward 

9 Would 

The friar up start, as doth a wood 1 lioiin: 7734 
' Ah, false churl/ quod he, ' for Godde's bones, 
This hast thou in despite done for the nones : 2 
Thou shalt abye this fart, if that I may/ 

His meinie, 3 which that hearden this affray, 
Came leaping in, and chased out the frere, 
And forth he go'th with a full angry chere, 4 7740 
And fet 5 his fellow, there as lay his store : 
He looked as it were a wilde boar, 
And grinte 6 with his teeth, so was he wroth. 
A sturdy pace down to the court he go'th, 
Where as there wonn'd a man of great honour, 
To whom that he was alway conf essdur : 
This worthy man was lord of that village. 
This friar came, as he were in a rage, 
Where as this lord sat eating at his board : 
Unnethes 7 might the friar speak one word, 7750 

Till atte last he saide, ' God you see/ 

This lord 'gan look, and said, ' Benedicite ! 
What? Friar John, what manner world is this 1 ? 
I see well that something there is amiss; 
Ye looken as the wood were full of thieves. 
Sit down anon, and tell me what your grieve is, 
And it shall be amended, if I may/ 

' I have/ quod he, * had a despite to-day, 
God yielde you, 8 adown in your village, 
That in this world there n'is so poor a page, 7760 
That he n'old 9 have abominatioiin 
Of that I have received in your town : 
And yet ne grieveth me nothing so sore, 
As that the olde churl, with lockes hoar, 
Blasphemed hath our holy convent eke/ 

1 Now, master/ quod this lord, ' I you beseek/ 

' No master, Sir/ quod he, * but servitdur, 



Though I have had in schoole that honour. 7768 

God liketh not, that men us Rabbi call, 
Neither in market, nor in your large hall/ 

'No force/ 1 quod he, 'but tell me all your grief/ 

' Sir/ quod this friar, ' an odious mischief 
This day betid is to mine order, and me, 
And so per consequent to each degree 
Of holy churche, God amend it soon/ 

'Sir/ quod the lord, 'ye wot what is to don: 
Distemper you not, ye be my confessour. 
Ye be the salt of the earth, and the savour; 
For Godde's love your patience now hold; 
Tell me your grief/ And he anon him told 7780 
As ye have heard before, ye wot well what. 

The lady of the house aye stille sat, 
Till she had hearde what the friar said. 

' Hey, Godde's mother/ quod she, ' blissful maid, 
Is there ought elles? tell me faithfully/ 
'Madame/ quod he, 'how thinketh you thereby?' 
' How that me thinketh?' quod she; 'so God me 


I say, a churl hath done a churle's deed. 
What should I say? God let him never the; 2 
His sicke head is full of vanity; 7790 

I hold him in a manner 8 phrenesy/ 

' Madame/ quod he, ' by God, I shall not lie, 
But I in other wise may be awreke, 4 
I shall diffame him over all, there I speak ; 
This false blasphemour, that charged me 
To parten that will not departed be, 
To every man alike, with mischance/ 

The lord sat still, as he were in a trance, 
And in his heart he rolled up and down, 
How had this churl imaginatioiin 78oo 

No mat 

2 Thrive. 

3 Sort of. 





To she wen such a problem to the frere. 7soi 

' Never erst 1 ere now ne heard I such mattere; 

I trow 2 the Devil put it in his mind. 

In all arsmetrike 3 shall there no man find 

Before this day of such a question. 

Who shoulde make a demonstration, 

That every man should have alike his part 

As of a sound or savour of a fart? 

nice proude churl, I shrew 4 his face. 

' Lo, Sires/ quod the lord, ' with harde grace,* 7810 
Who ever heard of such a thing ere now? 
To every man alike? tell me how. 
It is an impossible, it may not be. 
Hey, nice 5 churl, God let him never the. 6 
The rumbling of a fart, and every soun, 
N ; is but of aire reverberatioiin, 
And ever it wasteth lite and lite 7 away; 
There n'is no man can deemen, by my fay, 
If that it were departed 8 equally. 
What? lo> my churl, lo yet how shrewedly 9 mo 
Unto my confessoiir to-day he spake ; 

1 hold him certain a demoniac. 

Now eat your meat, arid let the churl go 

Let him go hang himself a devil way/ 

Now stood the lorde's squier atte board, 
That carved his meat, and hearde word by word 
Of all this thing, of which I have you said. 

' My lord/ quod he, ' be ye not evil apaid, 10 
I coulde telle for a gowne-cloth 11 
To you, Sir Friar, so that ye be not wroth, 7330 

How that this fart should even ydealed be 
Among your convent, if it liked thee/ 

* 'With harde grace :' May misfortune attend him (the churl). 


* Tell/ quod the lord, ' and thou shalt have anon 
A gowne-cloth, by God and by Saint John/ 7334 

' My lord/ quod he, * when that the weather is fair, 
Withouten wind, or perturbing of air, 
Let 1 bring a cart-wheel here into this hall, 
But looke that it have his spokes all ; 
Twelve spokes hath a cart-wheel commonly; 
And bring me then twelve friars, weet 2 ye why? 
For thirteen is a convent as I guess : 7841 

Your confessdr here for his worthiness 
Shall perform up the number of his convent. 
Then shall they kneel adown by one assent, 
And to every spoke's end in this mannere 
Full sadly 3 lay his nose shall a frere; 
Your noble confessor, there God him save, 
Shall hold his nose upright under the nave. 
Then shall this churl, with belly stiff and tought 4 
As any tabour, hither be ybrought; 7850 

And set him on the wheel right of this cart 
Upon the nave, and make him let a fart, 
And ye shall see, up peril of my life, 
By very proof that is demonstrative, 
That equally the sound of it will wend, 5 
And eke the stink, unto the spokes' end, 
Save that this worthy man, your confessoiir, 
(Because he is a man of great honodr,) 
Shall have the firste fruit, as reason is. 
The noble usage of friars yet it is, 7800 

The worthy men of them shall first be served. 
And certainly he hath it well deserved; 
He hath to-day taught us so muchel good, 
With preaching in the pulpit there he stood, 
That I may vouchesafe, I say for me, 
He had the firste smell of fartes three, 

1 Cause 






And so would all his brethren hardily ; 7867 

He beareth him so fair and holily.' 

The lord, the lady, and each man, save the frere, 
Saiden, that Jankin spake in this mattere 
As well as Euclid, or else Ptolomy. 
Touching the churl, they saiden, subtilty 
And high wit made him speaken as he spake; 
He n'is no fool, ne no demoniac. 
And Jankin hath ywon a newe gown; 
My tale is done, we be almost at town. 




' SIR Clerk of Oxenford/ our Hoste said, 7877 

' Ye ride as still and coy, as doth a maid, 

Were newe spoused, sitting at the board : 

This day ne heard I of your tongue a word. 

I trow ye study abouten some sophime: 1 

But Solomon saith, that every thing hath time. 

For Godde's sake as be of better cheer, 

It is no time for to studied here. 

Tell us some merry tale by your fay; 2 

For what man that is enter'd in a play, 

He neede's must unto the play assent. 

But preacheth not, as friars do in Lent, 

To make us for our olde sinne's weep, 

Ne that thy tale make us not to sleep. 7890 

' Tell us some merry thing of aventures, 
Your terms, your coloures, and your figiires, 
Keep them in store, till so be ye indite 
High style, as when that men to kinges write. 
Speaketh so plain at this time, I you pray, 
That we may understanden what ye say/ 

This worthy Clerk benignely answeYd; 
* Hoste/ quod he, ' I am under your yerd, 3 
Ye have of us as now the governance, 
And therefore would I do you ob&sance, 7900 



wand of 



1 Boldly. 
s Padua. 


* Saluzzo 

As far as reason asketh hardily : 1 7901 

I will you tell a tale, which that I 
Learned at Padow 4 of a worthy clerk, 
As proved by his worde's and his werk. 
He is now dead, and nailed in his chest, 
I pray to God so give his soule rest. 
Francis Petrarc, the laureat poet, 
Highte 2 this clerk, whose retorike sweet 
Illumin'd all Itaille of poetry, 

As Linian did of philosophy, 7910 

Or law, or other art particulere : 
But death, that will not suffer us dwellen here, 
But as it were a twinkling of an eye, 
Them both hath slain, and alle we shall die. 

* But forth to tellen of this worthy man, 
That taughte me this tale, as I began, 
I say that first he with high style inditeth 
(Ere he the body of his tale writeth) 
A proem, in the which describeth he 
Piedmont, and of Saluces 4 the country, 7920 

And speak'th of Apennine the hilles high, 
That be the boundes of west Lombardy: 
And of Mount Vesulus in special, 
Where as the Po out of a welle small 
Taketh his firste springing and his source^ 
That eastward aye increaseth in his course 
To EmihV* ward, to Ferare, and Venice, 
The which a longe thing were to devise. 
And truely, as to my judgement, 
Me thinketh it a thing impertinent, 7930 

Save that he will conveyen his mattere : 
But this is the tale which that ye may hear/ 

* 'To Emilie:' A district of Italy, so called from the Via ^Emilia, by 
which it is traversed. 



THERE is right at the West side of Itaille, 7933 

Down at the root of Vesulus the cold, 

A lusty 1 plain, abundant of vitaille, 

There many a town and tower thou may'st behold, 

That founded were in time of fathers old, 

And many another delectable sight, 

And Saluces this noble country hight. 2 

A marquis whilom lord was of that land, 1 7940 
As were his worthy elders 3 him before, J 

And obeisant, aye ready to his hand, 
Were all his lieges, bothe less and more : 
Thus in delight he liveth, and hath done yore, 4 
Belov'd and drad, 5 through favour of fortune, 
Both of his lordes, and of his commune. 6 

Therewith he was, to speaken of lin'age, 
The gentilest yborn of Lombardy, 
A fair person, and strong, and young of age, 
And full of honour and of courtesy : 7950 

Discreet enough, his country for to gie, 7 
Save in some thinges that he was to blame, 
And Walter was this younge lorde's name. 

I blame him thus, that he eonsider'd nought 
In time coming what might him betide, 
But on his lust 8 present was all his thought, 
And for to hawk and hunt on every side : 
Well nigh all other cares let he slide, 
And eke he n'old 9 (and that was worst of all) 
Wedden no wife for ought that might befall. 7960 


* la called. 

3 Ances 

4 Long. 
4 Dreaded. 

6 Common- 


8 Pleasure. 

9 Would 



1 Together 
in a flock. 

2 Either 


* Al 

5 Please. 

Only that point his people bare so sore, 7961 

That flockmel 1 on a day to him they went, 
And one of them, that wisest was of lore, 
(Or elle's that 2 the lord would best assent 
That he should tell him what the people meant, 
Or elle's could he well shew such mattere,) 
He to the marquis said as ye shall hear. 

'0 noble Marquis! your humanity 
Assureth us and giveth us hardiness, 
As oft as time is of necessity, 7970 

That we to you may tell our heaviness : 
Accepteth, Lord, then of your gentleness, 
That we with piteous heart unto you plain, 3 
And let your eare's not my voice disdain. 

* All 4 have I not to do in this mattere 
More than another man hath in this place, 
Yet for as much as ye, my Lord so dear, 
Have alway shewed me favour and grace, 
I dare the better ask of you a space 
Of audience, to shewen our request, 7980 

And ye, my Lord, to do right as you lest. 5 

' For certes, Lord, so well us liketh you 
And all your work, and ever have done, that we 
Ne coulden not ourself devisen how 
We mighten live in more felicity: 
Save one thing, Lord, if it your wille be, 
That for to be a wedded man you lest, 
Then were your people in sovereign heartes rest. 

' Boweth your neck under the blissful yoke 
Of sovereignty, and not of service, 7990 



Which that men clepen 1 spousal or wedlock: 7991 
And thinketh, Lord, among your thoughtes wise, 
How that our dayes pass in sundry wise; 
For though we sleep, or wake, or roam, or ride, 
Aye fle'th the time, it will no man abide. 

' And though your greene youthe flower as yet, 
In creepeth age alway as still as stone, 
And death menaceth every age, and smit 2 
In each estate, for there escapeth none : 
And all so certain, as we know each one sooo 

That we shall die, as uncertain we all 
Be of that day when death shall on us fall. 

' Accepteth then of us the true intent, 
That never yet refuseden your hest, 3 
And we will, Lord, if that ye will assent, 
Choose you a wife in short time at the niest, 4 
Born of the gentilest and of the best 
Of all this land, so that it oughte seem 
Honour to God and you, as we can deem. 

' Deliver us out of all this busy drede, 5 soio 

And take a wife, for highe Godde's sake: 
For if it so befell, as God forbede, 
That through your death your lineage should slake, 
And that a strange siiccessor should take 
Your heritage, oh! woe were us on live: 6 
Wherefore we pray you hastily to wive/ 

Their meeke prayer and their piteous cheer, 
Made the marquis for to have pity. 
' Ye will/ quod he, * mine owen people dear, 
To that I ne'er ere thought constrainen me. 8020 



5 Doubt. 

Us who 




2 Goodness. 
8 Stock, 

4 Com 
mend to 

5 Please. 


I me rejoiced of my liberty, 

That seldom time is found in marriage; 

There 1 I was free, I must be in servage. 

* But natheless I see your true intent, 
And trust upon your wit, and have done aye : 
Wherefore of my free will I will assent 

To wedden me, as soon as e'er I may. 

But there as ye have proffer'd me to-day 

To choosen me a wife, I you release 

That choice, and pray you of that proffer cease, soso 

' For God it wot, that children often been 
Unlike their worthy elders them before, 
Bounty 2 com'th all of God, not of the strene, 3 
Of which they be ygender'd and ybore : 
I trust in Godde's bounty, and therefore 
My marriage, and mine estate, and rest 
I him betake; 4 he may do as him lest. 5 

* Let me alone in choosing of my wife, 
That charge upon my back I will endure : 

But I you pray, and charge upon your life, 8040 
That what wife that I take, ye me assure 
To worship her while that her life may dure, 
In word and work both here and elle's where, 
As she an emperore's daughter were. 

' And furthermore this shall ye swear, that ye 
Against my choice shall never grutch 6 nor 


For since I shall forego my liberty 
At your request, as ever may I thrive, 
There as mine heart is set, there will I wive: 


And, but 1 ye will assent in such mannere, soco 

1 Unless. 

I pray you speak no more of this mattere.' 

With heartly will they sworen and assenten 

To all this thing, there said not one wight nay: 

Beseeching him of grace, ere that they wenten, 

That he would granten them a certain day 

Of his spousal, as soon as e'er he may, 

For yet alway the people somewhat dread, 

Lest that this marquis woulde no wife wed. 

He granted them a day, such as him lest, 2 


On which he would be wedded sikerly, 3 sooo 

3 Certain 

And said he did all this at their request; 


And they with humble heart full buxomly 4 

4 Obedient 

Kneeling upon their knees full reverently 


Him thanken all, and thus they have an end 

Of their intent, and home again they wend. 

And hereupon he to his officers 

Commandeth for the feaste to purvey. 

And to his privy knightes and squieVs 

Such charge he gave, as him list on them lay: 

And they to his commandement obey, 8070 

And each of them doth all his diligence 

To do unto the feast all reverence. 


Nought far from thilke 6 palace honourable, 

6 That. 

Where as this marquis shope* his marriage, 


There stood a thorp, 7 of sighte delectable, 

1 Village. 

In which that poore folk of that village 

Hadden their beastes and their harbourgage, 8 




1 Glutton 

2 Because. 

3 Grave. 

4 Spirit. 

s Cabbages. 

6 Up, aloft. 

And of their labour took their sustenance, 8078 

After that th' earthe gave them abundance. 

Among this poore folk there dwelt a man; 
Which that was holden poorest of them all : 
But highe God sometime senden can 
His grace unto a little ox's stall : 
Janicola, men of that thorp him call. 
A daughter had he, fair enough to sight, 
And Grisildis this younge maiden hight. 

But for to speak of virtuous beauty, 
Then was she one the fairest under sun : 
Full poorely yfoster'd up was she : 
No likerous 1 lust was in her heart yrun; 8090 

Well ofter of the well than of the tun 
She drank, and for 2 she woulde virtue please, 
She knew well labour, but no idle ease. 

But though this maiden tender were of age, 
Yet in the breast of her virginity 
There was inclosed sad 3 and ripe courage: 4 
And in great reverence and charity 
Her olde poore father foster'd she : 
A few sheep spinning on the field she kept, 
She woulde not be idle till she slept. sioo 

And when she homeward came, she woulde bring 
Wortes 5 and other herbes times oft, 
The which she shred and seeth'd for her living, 
And made her bed full hard, and nothing soft : 
And aye she kept her father's life on loft 6 
With every obeisance and diligence, 
That child may do to father's reverence. 



Upon Grisild', tins poore creature, sios 

Full often sithe 1 this marquis set his eye, 
As he on hunting rode paraventure : 
And when it fell that he might her espy, 
He not with wanton looking of folly 
His eyen cast on her, but in sad 2 wise 
Upon her chere 3 he would him oft avise, 4 

Commending in his heart her womanhede, 6 
And eke her virtue, passing any wight 
Of so young age, as well in chere as deed. 
For though the people have no great insight 
In virtue, he considered full right 
Her bounty, 6 and disposed that he would 8120 

Wed her only, if ever he wedden should. 

The day of wedding came, but no wight can 
Tellen what woman that it shoulde be, 
For which mervaille wonder'd many a man, 
And saiden, when they were in privity, 
' Will not our lord yet leave his vanity ? 
Will he not wed? Alas, alas the while! 
Why will he thus himself and us beguile?' 

But natheless this marquis hath done 7 make 
Of gemmes, set in gold and in azu*re, siso 

Brooches and ringes, for Grisilda's sake, 
And of her clothing took he the measiire 
Of a maiden like unto her stature, 
And eke of other ornamentes all, 
That unto such a wedding shoulde fall. 

The time of undern 8 of the same day 
Approacheth, that this wedding shoulde be, 


1 Times. 


* Counte 

4 Consi 

nine qua 


7 Caused. 




2 Strive. 

And all the palace put was in array, si 38 

Both hall and chambers, each in his degree, 
Houses of office stuffed with plenty 
There may'st thou see of dainteous vitaille, 
That may be found, as far as lasteth Itaille. 

This royal marquis richely array'd, 
Lordes and ladies in his company, 
The which unto the feaste weren pray'd, 
And of his retinue the bachlery, 
With many a sound of sundry melody, 
Unto the village, of the which I told, 
In this array the righte way they hold. 

Grisild' of this (God wot) full innocent, si 50 

That for her shapen was all this array, 
To fetchen water at a well is went, 
And cometh home as soon as e'er she may. 
For well she had heard say, that thilke 1 day 
The marquis shoulde wed, and, if she might, 
She woulde fain have seen some of that sight. 

She thought, ' I will with other maidens stond, 
That be my fellows, in our door, and see 
The marchioness, and thereto will I fond 2 
To do at home, as soon as it may be, si GO 

The labour which that 'longeth unto me, 
And then I may at leisure her behold, 
If she this way unto the castle hold/ 

And as she would over the threshold gon, 
The marquis came and 'gan her for to call, 
And she set down her water-pot anon 
Beside the threshold in an ox's stall, 


And down upon her knees she 'gan to fall, 8168 

And with sad 1 countenance kneeleth still, 

1 Steady. 

Till she had heard what was the lorde's will. 

This thoughtful marquis spake unto this 


Full soberly, and said in this mannere : 

'Where is your father, GrisildisT he said. 

And she with reverence in humble cheer 

Answered, ' Lord, he is already here/ 

And in she go'th withouten longer let, 2 

8 Delay. 

And to the marquis she her father fet. 8 

1 Fetched. 

He by the hand then took this poore man, 

And saide thus, when he him had aside : 

' Janicola, I neither may nor can 8180 

Longer the pleasance of mine hearte hide, 

If that thou vouch esafe, whatso betide, 

Thy daughter will I take, ere that I wend 4 

* Go. 

As for my wife, unto her life's end. 

' Thou lovest me, that wot I well certain, 

And art my faithful liegeman ybore, 

And all that liketh me, I dare well sayn 

It liketh thee, and specially therefore 

Tell me that point, that I have said before, 

If that thou wilt unto this purpose draw, 8190 

To taken me as for thy son-in-law.' 

This sudden case 5 this man astonied so, 

5 Event 

That red he wax'd, abash'd, and all quaking 

He stood, unnethes 6 said he worde's mo, 7 

6 Scarcely. 

But only thus; 'Lord,' quod he, 'my willing 

7 More. 

Is as ye will, nor against your liking 



1 Confer 

2 Knowest. 

8 Before. 

4 Accus 

5 Dismiss. 



I will no thing, mine owen lord so dear, 8197 

Eight as you list, governeth this mattere/ 

' Then will I/ quod this marquis sof tely, 
' That in thy chamber, I, and thou, and she, 
Have a collation, 1 and wost 2 thou whyl 
For I will ask her, if it her will be 
To be my wife, and rule her after me : 
And all this shall be done in thy presence, 
I will not speak out of thine audience/ 

And in the chamber, while they were about 
The treaty, which as ye shall after hear, 
The people came into the house without, 
And wonder'd them, in how honest manne're 
Attentively she kept her father dear: 8210 

But utterly Grisildis wonder might, 
For never erst 3 ne saw she such a sight. 

No wonder is though that she be astoned, 
To see so great a guest come in that place, 
She never was to no such guestes woned, 4 
For which she looked with full pale face. 
But shortly forth this matter for to chase, 5 
These are the wordes that the marquis said 
To this benigne, very, 6 faithful maid. 

' GrisildV he said, ' ye shall well understand, 8220 
It liketh to your father and to me, 
That I you wed, and eke it may so stand 
As I suppose, ye will that it so be : 
But these demandes ask I first (quod he) 
That since it shall be done in hasty wise, 
Will ye assent, or elles you avise? 7 


' I say this, be ye ready with good heart 8227 

To all my lust, 1 and that I freely may 

1 Pleasure. 

As me best thinketh, do 2 you laugh or smart, 

8 Cause. 

And never ye to grutchen, 3 night nor day, 

8 Murmur. 

And eke when I say Yea, ye say not Nay, 

Neither by word, nor frowning countenance? 

Swear this, and here I swear our alliance/ 

Wond'ring upon this thing, quaking for drede,\ 

She saide; 'Lord, indign and unworthy \ 

Am I, to thilk 4 hondur, that ye me bede, 6 

4 This. 

But as ye will yourself, right so will I : 

5 Ofler. 

And here I swear, that never willingly / 

In work, nor thought, I n'ill you disobey / 

For to be dead, though me were loth to dey/ 6 / 8240 

8 Die. 

' This is enough, Grisilda mine/ quod he. 

And forth he go'th with a full sober cheer, 

Out at the door, and after then came she, 

And to the people he said in this mannere: 

' This is my wife/ quod he, ' that standeth here. 

Honoureth her, and loveth her, I pray, 

Whoso me loveth; there n'is no more to say/ 

And for that nothing of her olde gear 

She shoulde bring into his house, he bade 

That women should despoilen her right there, 8250 

Of which these ladies weren nothing glad 

To handle her clothes wherein she was clad : 

But natheless this maiden bright of hue 

From foot to head they clothed have all new. 

Her haires have they kempt, that lay untress'd 

Full rudely, and with their fingers small 



1 Scarcely. 


3 Where. 

4 Scarcely 

5 Was not. 

1 Qualities. 

A coroune on her head they have ydress'd, 8257 

And set her full of nouches great and small : 
Of her array what should I make a tale ? 
Unneth 1 the people her knew for her fairness, 
When she transmewed was in such richess. 

This marquis hath her spoused with a ring 
Brought for the same cause, and then her set 
Upon a horse snow-white, and well ambling, 
And to his palace, ere he longer let, 2 
(With joyful people, that her led and met,) 
Conveyed her, and thus the day they spend 
In revel, till the sunne 'gan descend. 

And shortly forth this tale for to chase, 
I say, that to this newe marchioness 8270 

God hath such favour sent her of his grace, 
That it ne seemeth not by likeliness 
That she was born and fed in rudeness, 
As in a cot, or in an ox's stall, 
But nourished in an emperore's hall. 

To every wight she waxen is so dear, 
And worshipful, that folk there 3 she was bore, 
And from her birthe knew her year by year, 
Unnethes trowed 4 they, but durst have swore, 
That to Janicle, of which I spake before, 8280 

She daughter n'as, 5 for as by conjecture 
Them thought she was another creature. 

For though that ever virtuous was she, 
She was increased in such excellence 
Of thewes 6 good, yset in high bounty, 
And so discreet, and fair of eloquence 



So benign, and so digne of reverence, ^v 8287 

And coulde so the people's heart embrace, 

That each her lov'th that looketh on her face. 

Not only of Saluces in the town 

Published was the bounty of her name, 

But eke beside in many a regioiin ; 

If one saith well, another saith the same : 

So spreadeth of her high bounty the fame, 

That men and women, young as well as old, 

Go to Saluces upon her to behold. 

Thus Walter lowly, nay but royally, 

Wedded with fortunate honestety, 1 

1 Virtue. 

In Godde's peace liveth full easily 

At home, and grace enough outward had 

he : 8300 

And for he saw that under low degree 

Was honest virtue hid, the people him held 

A prudent man, and that is seen full seld. 2 

3 Seldom. 

Not only this Grisildis through her wit 

Could all the feat 3 of wifely homeliness, 

8 Act, per- 

But eke when that the case required it, 


The common profit coulde she redress : 

There n'as discord, rancour, ne heaviness 

In all the land, thart she ne could appease, 

And wisely bring them all in heartes ease. ssio 

Though that her husband absent were or non, 

If gentlemen, or other of that countr^ 

Were wroth, she woulde bringen them at one, 

So wise and ripe worde's hadde she, 

And judgement of so great equity, 





That she from heaven sent was, as men wend, 1 8316 
People to save, and every wrong t' amend. 

Not longe time after that this Grisild' 
Was wedded, she a daughter hath ybore, 
All had her lever 2 have born a knave 3 child: 8320 
Glad was the marquis and his folk therefore, 
For though a maiden child come all before, 
She may unto a knave child attain 
By likelihood, since she n'is not barren. 


There fell, as it befalleth times mo, 
When that his child had sucked but a throw, 4 
This marquis in his hearte longed so 
To tempt his wife, her sadness 5 for to know, 
That he ne might out of his hearte throw 
This marvellous desire his wife t' assay, 6 ssso 

Needless, God wot, he thought her to affray. 7 

He had assayed her enough before, 
And found her ever good; what needeth it 
Her for to tempt, and alway more and more? 
Though some men praise it for a subtle wit. 
But as for me, I say that evil it fit 8 \. 

T assay a wife when that it is no need, y 
And putten her in anguish and in drede. / 

For when this marquis wrought in this mannere ; 
He came a-night alone there as she lay, 3340 

With sterne face, and with full troubled chere, 9 
And saide thus ; ' Grisild', (quod he,) that day 
That I you took out of your poor array, 



And put you in estate of high nobless, 8344 

Ye have it not forgotten, as I guess. 

' I say, Grisild', this present dignity, 
In which that I have put you, as I trow, 1 
Maketh you not forgetful for to be 
That I you took in poor estate full low, 
For any weal ye must yourselven know. 8350 

Take heed of every word that I you say, 
There is no wight that heareth it but we tway. 2 

* Ye wot yourself well how that ye came here 
Into this house, it is not long ago; 
And though to me ye be right lief 3 and dear, 
Unto my gentles ye be nothing so : 
They say, to them it is great shame and woe 
For to be subjects, and be in servage 
To thee, that born art of a small lineage. 

' And namely, since thy daughter was ybore, 8360 
These wordes have they spoken doubteless; 
But I desire, as I have done before, 
To live my lif e with them in rest and peace : 
I may not in this case be reckeless; 
I must do with thy daughter for the best, 
Not as I would, but as my gentles lest. 4 

'And yet, God wot, this is full loth to me: 
But natheless withouten your wee ting 6 
I will nought do, but thus will I (quod he) 
That ye to me assenten in this thing. 8370 

Shew now your patience in your working, 
That ye me hight 6 and swore in your village 
The day that maked was our marriage.' 





5 Knowing. 

8 Pro 



1 Moved. 

2 Destroy. 



5 Kind of. 


When she had heard all this, she not ameved 1 
Neither in word, in cheer, nor countenance, 8375 
(For as it seemed, she was not aggrieved,) 
She saide; 'Lord, all li'th in your pleasance, 
My child and I, with heartly obeisance 
Be youres all, and ye may save or spill, 2 
Your owen thing : worketh after your will. 8380 

' There may no thing, so God my soule save, 
Like unto you, that may displeasen me : 
Nor I desire nothing for to have, 
Nor dreade for to lose, save only ye : 
This will is in mine heart, and aye shall be, 
No length of time, or death may this deface, 
Nor change my courage 3 to another place/ 

Glad was this marquis for her answering, 
But yet he feigned as he were not so ; 
All dreary was his chere 4 and his looking, 8390 

When that he should out of the chamber go. 
Soon after this, a furlong way or two, 
He privily hath told all his intent 
Unto a man, and to his wife him sent. 

A manner 5 sergeant was this private man, 
The which he faithful often founden had 
In thinges great, and eke such folk well can 
Do execution on thinges bad : 
The lord knew well, that he him loved and drad. 6 
And when this sergeant wist his lorde's will, 8 400 
Into the chamber he stalked him full still. 

' Madam/ he said, ' ye must forgive it me, 
Though I do thing, to which I am constrained: 



Ye be so wise, that right well knowen ye, 8404 

That lorde's' hestes' 1 may not be yfeign'd, 
They may well be bewailed and complained, 
But men must needes to their lust 2 obey, 
And so will I, there n'is no more to say. 

' This child I am commanded for to take/ 
And spake no more, but out the child he hent 3 84io 
Despiteously, 4 and 'gan a chere 5 to make, 
As though he would have slain it, ere he went. 
Grisildis must all suffer and all consent : 
And as a lamb, she sitteth meek and still, 
And let this cruel sergeant do his will. 

Suspicious was the diffame 6 of this man, 
Suspect his face, suspect his word also, 
Suspect the time in which he this began: 
Alas! her daughter, that she loved so, 
She ween'd he would have slayen it right tho, 7 8420 
But natheless she neither wept nor siked, 8 
Conforming her to that the marquis liked. 

But at the last to speaken she began, 
And meekely she to the sergeant pray'd 
(So as 9 he was a worthy gentle man) 
That she might kiss her child, ere that it deid: 10 
And in her barme 11 this little child she leid, 12 
With full sad face, and 'gan the child to bliss, 
And lulled it, and after 'gan it kiss. 

And thus she said in her benigne voice : 8*30 

* Farewell, my child, I shall thee never see, 
But since I have thee marked with the cross, 
Of thilk 13 father, y blessed may thou be, 



mend to. 

2 Believe. 

3 Nurse. 

4 Object of 

* Com 

6 Unless. 

7 Least. 

8 Tear. 

9 Demea 

10 Strike. 

That for us died upon a cross of tree : 8434 

Thy soule, little child, I him betake, 1 

For this night shalt thou dien for my sake/ 

I trow 2 that to a nourice 3 in this case . 
It had been hard this rathe' 4 for to see : 
Well might a mother then have cried, Alas ! \ 
But natheless so sad steadfast was she, / 8440 

That she endured all adversity, 
And to the sergeant meekely she said, 
' Have here again your little younge maid. 

' Go now (quod she) and do my lorde's hest : 5 
And one thing would I pray you of your grace, 
But 6 if my lord forbade you at the lest, 7 
Bury this little body in some place, 
That beastes ne no birde's it to-race/ 8 
But he no word to that purpose would say, 
But took the child and went upon his way. 8450 

This sergeant came unto his lord again, 
And of Grisilda's worde's and her chere 9 
He told him point for point, in short and 


And him presented with his daughter dear. 
Somewhat this lord hath ruth in his mannere, 
But natheless his purpose held he still, 
As lordes do, when they will have their will, 

And bade this sergeant that he privily 
Shoulde this child full softe wind and wrap, 
With alle circumstances tenderly, 8460 

And carry it in a coffer, or in a lap ; 
But upon pain his head off for to swap 10 



That no man shoulde know of his intent, 8463 

Nor whence he came, nor whither that he went; 

But at Bologn', unto his sister dear, 
That thilke time of Pavie was Countess, 
He should it take, and shew her this matteYe, 
Beseeching her to do her business : 
This child to foster in all gentleness, 
And whose child that it was he bade her hide 8470 
From every wight, for ought that may betide. 

This sergeant go'th, and hath fufilTd this thing. 
But to this marquis now returne we ; 
For now go'th he full fast imagining, 
If by his wife's chere 1 he mighte see, 
Or by her worde's apperceive, that she 
Were changed, but he never could her find, 
But ever in one alike sad 2 and kind. 

As glad, as humble, as busy in service 
And eke in love, as she was wont to be, \ 8480 
Was she to him, in every manner wise; 3 
Nor of her daughter not a word spake she 
No accident for no adversity 
Was seen in her, ne never her daughter^ name 
Ne nevened 4 she, for earnest nor for gdme. 


In this estate there passed been four year 
Ere she with childe was, but, as God wold, 
A knave child she bare by this Waltere 
Full gracious, and fair for to behold : 
And when that folk it to his father told, 8 400 

1 Demea 

2 Steadfast. 

3 Sort of 




1 Praise. 

2 Inclina 

8 Trial. 

4 Know. 


6 Doubt. 

T Com 

8 Before. 

9 Become 

Not only he, but all his country merry 8461 

Was for this child, and God they thank and hery. 1 

When it was two year old, and from the breast 
Departed of his nourice, on a day 
This marquis caughte yet another lest 2 
To tempt his wife yet ofter, if he may. 
Oh! needless was she tempted in assay, 3 
But wedded men ne connen 4 no measure, 
When that they find a patient creature. 

* Wife/ quod this marquis, ' ye have heard ere this 
My people sickly bearen our marriage, 8501 
And namely since my son yboren 6 is, 

Now is it worse than ever in all our age : 
The murmur slay'th mine heart and my courage, 
For to mine ears cometh the voice so smart, 
That it well nigh destroyed hath mine heart. 

' Now say they thus, " When Walter is agone, 
Then shall the blood of Janicle succeed, 
And be our lord,. for other have we none:" 
Such wordes say my people, it is no drede. 6 85io 
Well ought I of such murmur taken heed, 
For certainly I dread all such sentence, 
Though they not plainen 7 in mine audience. 

* I woulde live in peace, if that I might : 
Wherefore I am disposed utterly, 

As I his sister served ere 8 by night, 

Right so think I to serve him privily. 

This warn I you, that ye not suddenly 

Out of yourself for no woe should outraie ; 9 

Be patient, and thereof I you pray/ ssao 



' I have/ quod she, * said thus and ever shall, 8521 
I will no thing, ne n'ill no thing certain, 
But as you list : not grieveth me at all, 
Though that my daughter and my son be slain 
At your commandement : that is to sayn, 
I have not had no part of children twain, 
But first sickness, and after woe and pain. 

* Ye be my lord, do with your owen thing 
Right as you list, asketh no rede 1 of me: \ i Advice. 
For as I left at home all my clothing 
When I came first to you, right so (quod she) 
Left I my will and all my liberty, 
And took your clothing: wherefore I you pray, 
Do your pleasance, I will your lust 2 obey. / Pleasure. 

' And certes, if I hadde prescience 
Your will to know, ere ye your lust me told, 
I would it do withouten negligence : 
But now I wot your lust, and what ye wold, 
All your pleasance firm and stable I hold; 
For wist I that my death might do you ease, 8540 
Eight gladly would I dien, you to please. 

' Death may not maken no comparisoun 
Unto your love/ And when this marquis say 3 ' Saw. 

The Constance of his wife, he cast adown 
His eyen two, and wond'reth how she may 
In patience suffer all this array: 
And forth he go'th with dreary countenance, 
But to his heart it was full great pleasance. 

This ugly sergeant in the same wise 
That he her daughter caughte, right so he 8550 



1 Taken. 

2 Unvary 

8 Demea 




7 Cease. 

(Or worse, if men can any worse devise,) X 8551 
Hath Lent 1 her son, that full was of beauty r 
And ever in one 2 so patient was she, 
That she no chere 3 made of heaviness, 
But kiss'd her son and after 'gan it bless. 

Save this she prayed him, if that he might, 
Her little son he would in earthe grave, 
His tender limbes, delicate to sight, 
From fowles and from beastes for to save. 
But she none answer of him mighte have ; 8560 

He went his way, as him no thing ne rought, 4 
But to Bologn' he tenderly it brought. 

This marquis wond'reth ever longer the more 
Upon her patience; and if that he 
Ne hadde soothly knowen therebefore, 
That perfectly her children loved she, 
He would have ween'd 5 that of some subtilty 
And of malice, or for cruel courage, 
That she had suffered this with sad 6 visage. 

But well he knew, that next himself, certain 8570 
She loved her children best in every wise. 
But now of women would I asken fain, 
If these assay es mighten not suffice'? 
What could a sturdy husband more devise 
To prove her wifehood, and her steadfastness, 
And he continuing ever in sturdiness ? 

But there be folk of such condition, 
That when they have a certain purpose take, 
They cannot stint 7 of their intention, 
But, right as they were bounden to a stake, ssso 



They will not of their firste purpose slake : 8581 

Eight so this marquis fully hath purposed 
To tempt his wife, as he was first disposed. 

He waiteth, if by word or countenance 
That she to him was changed of courage : l 1 Spirit 

But never could he finden variance, 
She was aye one in heart and in visage, 
And aye the further that she was in age, 
The more true (if that it were possible) 
She was to him in love, and more penible. 2 8590 

For which it seemed thus, that of them two 
There was but one will; for as Walter lest, 3 'Pleased. 

The same lust 4 was her pleasance also; 4 Pleasure. 

And God be thanked, all fell for the best. 
She shewed well, for no worldly unrest 
A wife, as of herself, no thing ne should 
Will in effect, but as her husband would. 

The slander of Walter wonder wide sprad, 
That of a cruel heart he wickedly, 

For 5 he a poore woman wedded had, seoo 4 Because. 

Hath murder'd both his children privily: 
Such murmur was among them commonly. 
No wonder is: for to the people's ear 
There came no word, but that they murder'd 

For which thereas 6 his people therebefore 6 whereas. 

Had loved him well, the slander of his diffame 7 7 Evil 
Made them that they him hateden therefore : 
To be a murderer is a hateful name. 
But natheless, for earnest nor for game, 




1 Would 
not stop. 

2 Messen 

3 Pleased. 

4 Leave. 
6 Stay. 

6 Steadfast. 

' Suffi 

He of his cruel purpose n'olde stent, 1 
To tempt his wife was set all his intent. 


When that his daughter twelve year was of age, 
He to the court of Eome, in subtle wise 
Informed of his will, sent his message, 2 
Commanding him, such billes to devise, 
As to his cruel purpose may suffice, 
How that the Pope, as for his people's rest, 
Bade him to wed another, if him lest. 3 

I say he bade they shoulden counterfeit 
The Pope's bulle's, making mention 8620 

That he hath leave his firste wife to lete, 4 
As by the Pope's dispensation, 
To stinten 5 rancour and dissension 
Betwixt his people and him : thus spake the bull, 
The which they have published at the full. 

The rude people, as no wonder is, 
Ween'den full well, that it had been right so : 
But when these tidings came to Grisildis, 
I deeme that her heart was full of woe; 
But she alike sad 6 for evermo seso 

Disposed was, this humble creature, 
The adversity of fortune all to endure; 

Abiding ever his lust and his pleasance, 
To whom that she was given, heart and all, 
As to her very w r orldly suffisance. 7 
But shortly if this story tell I shall, 
This marquis written hath in special 
A letter, in which he sheweth his intent, 
And secretly he to Bologn' it sent, 



To the Earl of Pavie, which that hadde tho 1 
Wedded his sister, pray'd he specially 
To bringen home again his children two 
In honourable estate all openly: 
But one thing he him prayed utterly, 
That he to no wight, though men would inquere, 
Shoulde not tell whose children that they were, 

But say, the maiden should ywedded be 
Unto the Marquis of Saliice' anon. 
And as this earl was prayed, so did he, 
For at day set he on his way is gone 
Toward Saliice', and lordes many one 
In rich array, this maiden for to guide, 
Her younge brother riding her beside. 

Arrayed was toward her marriage 
This freshe maiden, full of gemmes clear, 
Her brother, which that seven year was of age, 
Arrayed eke full fresh in his manne're: 
And thus in great nobless and with glad cheer 
Toward Saluces shaping their journay 
From day to day they riden in their way. 


Among all this, after his wick'd usage, 
This marquis yet his wife to tempten more 
To the uttereste proof of her courage, 
Fully to have experience and lore, 2 
If that she were as steadfast as before, 
He on a day in open audience 
Full boist'rously hath said here this sentence : 


1 Then. 




l The 


:1 Not to be 

4 Worthy. 

5 Chamber- 

' Certes, Grisild 7 , I had enough pleasance 8668 
To have you to my wife, for your goodness, 
And for your truth, and for your obeisance, 
Not for your lineage, nor for your richess, 
But now know I in very soothfastness, 
That in great lordship, if I me well avise, 
There is great servitude in sundry wise. 

'I may not do, as every ploughman may: 
My people me constraineth for to take 
Another wife, and cry en day by day ; 
And eke the Pope, rancour for to slake 
Consenteth it, that dare I undertake : 
And truely, thus much I will you say, 8 6 so 

My newe wife is coming by the way. 

' Be strong of heart, and void anon her place, 
And thilke 1 dower that ye broughten me 
Take it again, I grant it of my grace. 
Returneth to your father's house, (quod he,) 
No man may alway have prosperity. 
With even heart I rede 2 you to endure 
The stroke of fortune, or of aventure/ 

And she again answeYd in patience : 
* My Lord/ quod she, ' I wot, and wist alway, 8690 
How that betwixen your magnificence 
And my povert' no wight ne can nor may 
Maken comparison, it is no nay; 3 
I ne' held me never digne 4 in no mannere 
To be your wife, nor yet your chamberere. 5 

' And in this house, there ye me lady made, 
| (The highe God take I for my witness, 


And all so wisly 1 he my soule glad,) 8698 

1 Surely. 

I never held me lady nor mistress, 

But humble servant to your worthiness, 

And ever shall, while that my life may dure, 

Aboven every worldly creature. 

' That ye so long of your benignity 

Have holden me in honour and nobley, 2 \ 


Whereas I was not worthy for to be, \ 

That thank I God and you, to whom I pray\ 

Foryield it you; there is no more to say: / 

Unto my father gladly will I wend, 3 

a Go. 

And with him dwell unto my life's end; 

'There I was foster'd of a child full small; 87io 

Till I be dead my life there will I lead, 

A widow clean in body, heart and all. 

For since I gave to you my maidenhede, 

And am your true wife, it is no drede, 4 

4 Doubt 

God shielde 5 such a lorde's wife to take 


Another man to husband or to make. 6 


' And of your newe wife, God of his grace 

So grant you weale and prosperity: 

For I will gladly yielden her my place, 

In which that I was blissful wont to be. 8720 

For since it liketh you, my Lord, (quod she,) 

That whilom weren all mine hearte's rest, 

That I shall go, I will go when you lest. 7 

1 Please. 

' But thereas 8 ye me proffer such dowaire 


As I first brought, it is well in my mind, 

It were my wretched clothes, nothing fair, 

The which to me were hard now for to find. 



At all 

2 Doubt. 

3 Cheer 


goode God! how gentle and how kind 8728 
Ye seemed by your speech and your visage, 

The day that maked was our marriage! 

* But sooth is said, algate 1 I find it true, 
For in effect it proved is on me, 
Love is not old, as when that it is new. 
But certes, Lord, for no adversity 
To dien in this case, it shall not be 
That ever in word or work I shall repent, 
That I you gave mine heart in whole intent. 

'My Lord, ye wot, that in my father's 


Ye did me strip out of my poore weed, 
And richely ye clad me of your grace ; 8740 

To you brought I nought elles out of drede, 2 
But faith, and nakedness, and maidenhede; 
And here again your clothing I restore, 
And eke your wedding ring for evermore. 

' The remnant of your jewels ready be 
Within your chamber, I dare it safely sayn : 
Naked out of my father's house, (quod she,) 

1 came, and naked I must turn again. 
All your pleasance would I follow fain: 3 

But yet I hope it be not your intent, 8750 

That I smockle'ss out of your palace went. 

' Ye could not do so dishonest 4 a thing, 
That thilke womb, in which your children lay, 
Shoulde before the people, in my walking, 
Be seen all bare : wherefore I you pray 
Let me not like a worm go by the way : 


Kemember you, mine owen Lord so dear, 8757 

I was your wife, though I unworthy were. 

' Wherefore in guerdon of my maidenhede, 
Which that I brought and not again I bear, 
As vouchesafe to give me to my meed 
But such a smock as I w r as wont to wear, 
That I therewith may wrie 1 the womb of her Cover. 

That was your wife : and here I take my leave 
Of you, mine owen Lord, lest I you grieve/ 

* The smock/ quod he, ' that thou hast on thy back, 
Let it be still, and bear it forth with thee/ 
But well unnethes 2 thilke 3 word he spake, * Scarcely. 

But went his way for ruth and for pity. 
Before the folk herselven strippeth she, 8770 

And in her smock, with foot and head all bare, 
Toward her father's house forth is she fare. 4 

The folk her followen weeping in their way, 
And fortune aye they cursen as they gon : 
But she from weeping kept her eyen drey, 
Nor in this time word ne spake she none. 
Her father, that this tiding heard anon, 
Curseth the day and time, that nature 
Shope 5 him to be a living creature. 

For out of doubt this olde poore man 8780 

Was ever in siispect of her marriage : 
For ever he deemed, since it first began, 
That when the lord fulfill'd had his courage, 6 
Him woulde think it were a disparage 
To his estate, so low for to alight, 
And voiden her as soon as ever he might. 


5 Formed. 

6 Inclina 



1 To meet. 


3 Spirit. 

4 Full. 


Again 1 his daughter hastily go'th he, 8787 

(For he by noise of folk knew her coming,) 
And with her olde coat, as it might be, 
He covereth her full sorrowfully weeping : 
But on her body might he it not bring, 
For rude was the cloth, and more of age 
By daye's fele 2 than at her marriage. 

Thus with her father for a certain space 
Dwelleth this flower of wifely patience, 
That neither by her wordes nor her face, 
Before the folk, nor eke in their absence, 
Ne shewed she that her was done offence, 
Nor of her high estate no remembrance 
Ne hadde she, as by her countenance. ssoo 

No wonder is, for in her great estate 
Her ghost 3 was ever in plein 4 humility; 
No tender mouth, no hearte delicate, 
No pompe, no semblant of royalty; 
But full of patient benignity, 
Discreet, and prideless, aye honourable, 
And to her husband ever meek and stable. 

Men speak of Job, and most for his humbless, 
As clerkes, when them list, can well indite, 
Namely of men, but as in soothfastness, ssio 

Though clerkes praisen women but a lite, 5 
There can no man in humbless him acquite 
As woman can, nor can be half so true 
As women be, but it be fall of new.* 

* ' But it be fall of new :' Unless it be lately come to pass. 




From Bologn' is this Earl of Pavie come, 8815 
Of which the fame up sprang to more and less : 
And to the people's eare's all and some 
Was couth 1 eke, that a newe marchioness 
He with him brought, in such pomp and richess, 
That never was there seen with manne's eye 
So noble array in all West Lombardy. 

The marquis, which that shope 2 and knew all this, 
Ere that this Earl was come, sent his message 3 
For thilke poore sely 4 Grisildis; 
And she with humble heart and glad visage, 
Not with no swollen thought in her courage, 5 
Came at his hest, 6 and on her knees her set, 
And reverently and wisely she him gret. 7 

' GrisildV quod he, ' my will is utterly, 
This maiden, that shall wedded be to me, ssso 

Received be to-morrow as royally 
As it possible is in mine house to be : 
And eke that every wight in his degree 
Have his estate in sitting and service, 
And high pleasance, as I can best devise. 

I have no woman suffisant, certain, 
The chambers for t' array in ordinance 
After my lust, 8 and therefore would I fain, 
That thine were all such manner governance : 
Thou knowest eke of old all my pleasance ; 8840 
Though thine array be bad, and evil besey, 9 
Do thou thy devoir at the leaste way/ 10 

1 Known. 

8 Contriv 

4 Simple. 

6 Order. 
1 Greeted. 

8 Pleasure. 

B Beseem. 

10 In the 




2 Arrange. 


4 Beseem. 

5 First/ 

6 Please. 

8 Vane. 

' Not only, Lord, that I am glad/ quod she, 8843 
' To do your lust, but I desire also 
You for to serve and please in my degree, 
Withouten fainting, and shall evermo : 
Ne never for no weal, nor for no woe, 
Ne shall the ghost within mine hearte stent 1 
To love you best with all my true intent/ 

And with that word she 'gan the house to dight, 2 
And tables for to set, and beddes make, 8851 

And pained her to do all that she might, 
Praying the chambereres for Godde's sake 
To hasten them, and faste sweep and shake, 
And she the moste serviceable of all 
Hath every chamber arrayed, and his hall. 

Abouten undern 3 'gan this Earl alight, 
That with him brought these noble children tway ; 
For which the people ran to see the sight 
Of their array, so richely besey: 4 sseo 

And then at erst 5 amonges them they say, 
That Walter was no fool, though that him lest 6 
To change his wife; for it was for the best. 

For she is fairer, as they deemen all, 
Than is Grisild', and more tender of age, 
And fairer fruit between them shoulde fall, 
And more pleasant for her high lineage : 
Her brother eke so fair was of visage, 
That them to see the people hath caught pleasance, 
Commending now the marquis' governance. 8870 

' stormy people, unsad 7 and ever untrue, 
And undiscreet, and changing as a fane, 8 



Delighting ever in rombel 1 that is new, 8873 

For like the moone waxen ye and wane : % 

Aye full of clapping, dear enough a jane, 2 

Your doom 3 is false, your Constance evil preveth, 4 

A full great fool is he that on you lieveth/ 

Thus saiden sade 6 folk in that city, 
When that the people gazed up and down; 
For they were glad, right for the novelty, 8880 

To have a newe lady of their town. 
No more of this make I now mentioun, 
But to Grisild' again I will me dress, 
And tell her Constance, and her business. 

Full busy was Grisild' in every thing, 
That to the f easte was appertinent ; 
Right naught was she abaist 6 of her clothing, 
Though it were rude, and somedeal eke to-rent, 
But with glad chere 7 to the gate is went 
With other folk, to greet the marchioness, 8890 

And after that doth forth her business. 

With so glad cheer his guestes she receiveth 
And conningly 8 evereach in his degree, 
That no defaulte no man apperceiveth, 
But aye they wond'ren what she mighte be, 
That in so poor array was for to see, 
And coulde such honour and reverence, 
And worthily they praisen her prudence. 

In all this meane while she ne stent 9 
This maid and eke her brother to commend 
With all her heart in full benign intent, 
So well, that no man could her praise amend : 



A small 


4 Proveth. 

s Sedate. 

7 Mien. 

8 Cleverly. 

9 Ceased. 




3 Me. 

4 Steadfast. 

5 Prepare. 

6 Reward 

But at the last when that these lorde's wend 1 8903 
To sitten down to meat, he 'gan to call 
Grisild', as she was busy in the hall. 

' Grisild', (quod he, as it were in his play,) 
How liketh thee my wife, and her beauty 1 ?' 
'Right well, my Lord/ quod she, 'for in good 

fay, 2 

A fairer saw I never none than she : 
I pray to God give you prosperity ; 89io 

And so I hope, that he will to you send 
Pleasance enough unto your lives' end. 

' One thing beseech I you, and warn also\ 
That ye ne pricke with no tormenting 
This tender maiden, as ye have done mo: 3 
For she is foster'd in her nourishing 
More tenderly, and to my supposing 
She mighte not adversity endure, 
As could a poore foster'd creature/ 

And when this Walter saw her patience, 8920 
Her glade cheer, and no malice at all, 
And he so often had her done offence, 
And she aye sad 4 and constant as a wall, 
Continuing ever her innocence o'er all, 
This sturdy marquis 'gan his hearte dress 5 
To rue upon her wifely steadfastness. 

' This is enough, Grisilda mine/ quod he, 
' Be now no more aghast, nor evil apaid, 6 
I have thy faith and thy benignity, 
As well as ever woman was, assay 'd 8 930 

In great estate, and poorely array'd: 


Now know I, deare wife, thy steadfastness,' 8932 
And her in armes took, and 'gan to kiss. 

And she for wonder took of it no keep; 1 l Notice. 

She hearde not what thing he to her said : 

She fared as she had start out of a sleep, 

Till she out of her mazedness abraid. 2 'Awoke. 

* GrisildV quod he, ' by God that for us dey'd, 

Thou art my wife, none other I ne have, 

Ne never had, as God my soule save. 8940 

' This is thy daughter, which thou hast supposed 
To be my wife ; that other faithfully 
Shall be mine heir, as I have aye disposed ; 
Thou bare them of thy body truely: 
At Bologn' have I kept them privily: 
Take them again, for now may'st thou not say, 
That thou hast lorn 3 none of thy children tway. Lost 

' And folk, that otherwise have said of me, 
I warn them well, that I have done this deed 
For no malice, ne for no cruelty, 8950 

But for t' assay in thee thy womanhede : 
And not to slay my children (God forbede) 
But for to keep them privily and still, 
Till I thy purpose knew, and all iihy will/ 

When she this heard, aswoone down she falletlj 
For piteous joy; and after her swooning 
She both her younge children to her calleth, 
And in her armes piteously weeping 
Embraceth them, and tenderly kissing 
Full like a mother with her salte tears s\ 

She bathed both their visage and their heres. 4 \ 4 Hair. 




3 Care. 

3 No mat 
ter for. 

4 Departs. 

6 Believed 

6 Caused. 

7 Instant. 

8 Fell. 

9 Firmly. 

10 Art. 

11 Pluck. 

12 Scarcely. 

13 Com 

14 Saw. 

0, which 1 a piteous thing it was to see 
Her swooning, and her humble voice to hear! 
* Grand mercy, Lord, God thank it you, (quod 
That ye have saved me my children dear : 
Now reck 2 I never to be dead right here, 
Since I stand in your love, and in your grace, 
No force 3 of death, nor when my spirit pace. 4 

' tender, dear, younge children mine, -x 
Your woful mother weened steadfastly, 5 8970 

That cruel houndes, or some foul vermin 
Had eaten you; but God of his mercy, 
And your benigne father tenderly 
Hath done 6 you keep:' and in that same stound 7 I 
All suddenly she swapt 8 adown to ground. 

And in her swoon so sadly 9 holdeth she 
Her children two, when she 'gan them embrace, 
That with great sleight 10 and great difficulty 
The children from her arm they 'gan arrace 11 
! many a tear on many a piteous face 
Down ran of them that stooden her beside, 
Unnethe 12 abouten her might they abide. 

Walter her gladdeth, and her sorrow slaketh; 
She riseth up abashed from her trance, 
And every wight her joy and feaste maketh, 
Till she hath caught again her countenance. 
Walter her doth so faithfully pleasance, 
That it was dainty for to see the cheer 
Betwixt them two, since they been met in fere. 13 

These ladies, when that they their time sey, 14 i 
Have taken her, and into chamber gone, 



And strippen her out of her rude array, 3992 

And in a cloth of gold that brighte shone, 
With a coroune of many a riche stone 
Upon her head, they into hall her brought : 
And there she was honoured as her ought. 

Thus hath this piteous day a blissful end ; 
For every man and woman doth his might 
This day in mirth and revel to dispend, 
Till on the welkin shone the starres bright : 9000 
For more solemn in every manne's sight 
This feaste was, and greater of costage, 
Than was the revel of her marriage. 

Full many a year in high prosperity 
Liven these two in concord and in rest, 
And richely his daughter married he 
Unto a lord, one of the worthiest 
Of all Itaille, and then in peace and rest 
His wife's father in his court he keepeth, 
Till that the soul out of his body creepeth. 9010 

His son succeedeth in his heritage, 
In rest and peace, after his father's day: 
And fortunate was eke in marriage, 
All 1 put he not his wife in great assay: 
This world is not so strong, it is no nay, 2 
As it hath been in olde times yore, 
And heark'neth, what this author saith therefore. 

This story is said, not for that wives should 
Follow Grisild' as in humility, 
For it were importable, 3 though they would ; 
But for that every wight in his degree 

i Al 

Not to be 

8 Intole 



1 Good-will. 



4 Break. 
8 Bend. 


Shoulde be constant in adversity, /9022 

As was Grisilda, therefore Petrarch writeth \ 
This story, which with high style he' inditeth. 

For since a woman was so patient 
Unto a- mortal man, well more we ought 
Eeceiven all in gree 1 that God us sent. 
For great skill* is he proved that he wrought : 
But he ne tempteth no man that he bought, 
As saith Saint James, if ye his 'pistle read ; 9030 
He proveth folk all day, it is no drede : 2 

And sufFreth us, as for our exercise, 
With sharpe scourges of adversity 
Full often to be beat in sundry wise ; 
Not for to know our will, for certes he, 
Ere we were born, knew all our frailety; 
And for our best is all his governance ; 
Let us then live in virtuous sufferance. 

But one word, Lordings, heark'neth, ere I go : 
It were full hard to finden now-a-days 9040 

In all a town Grisildas three or two : 
For if that they were put to such assays, 
The gold of them hath now so bad allays 3 
With brass, that though the coin be fair at eye, 
It woulde rather brast 4 a-two than plie. 5 

For which here, for the wife's love of Bath, 
Whose life and all her secte God maintene 
In high mast'rjr, and elle's were it scath, 6 
I will with lusty hearte fresh and green, 
Say you a song to gladden you, I ween : 9050 

* ' For great skill : ' He who does so is proved to possess great skill. 



And let us stint of camestful mature. 9051 

Heark'neth my song, that saith in this manne're. 

Grisild' is dead, and eke her patience, 
And both at ones buried in Itaille: 
For which I cry in open audience, 
No wedded man so hardy be t' assail 
His wife's patience, in trust to find 
Grisilda's, for in certain he shall fail. 

O noble wives, full of high prudence, 
Let no humility your tongues nail : 
Ne let no clerk have cause or diligence 
To write of you a story of such marvail, 
As of Grisilda patient and kind, 
Lest Chichevache you swallow in her entrail. 

Followeth Echo, that holdeth no silence, 
But ever answereth at the countertaille: 1 
Be not bedaffed 2 for your innocence, 
But sharply taketh on you the governaille: 3 
Imprinteth well this lesson in your mind, 
For common profit, since it may avail. 

Ye archewives, 4 stand'th aye at defence, 
Since ye be strong, as is a great camail, 5 
Ne suff'reth not that men do you offence. 
And slender wives, feeble as in battail, 
Be eager as is a tiger yond' in Ind; 
Aye clappeth as a mill, I you counsail. 

Ne dread them not, do them no reverence, 
For though thine husband armed be in mail, 
The arrows of thy crabbed eloquence 




1 Counter- 
8 Befooled. 

3 Helm. 

4 Wives of 

8 Camel. 



1 Forepart 
of ar 

2 Advise. 

3 Lime- 

Shall pierce his breast, and eke his aventail: 1 goso 

In jealousy I rede 2 eke thou him bind, 

And thou shalt make him couch as doth a quail. 

If thou be fair, there folk be in presence 
Shew thou thy visage, and thine apparail: 
If thou be foul, be free of thy dispense; 
To get thee f riendes aye do thy travail : 
Be aye of cheer as light as leaf on lind, 3 
And let him care, and weep, and wring, and wail. 



' WEEPING and wailing, care and other sorrow 9089 

I have enough, on even and on morrow/ 

Quod the Merchant, ' and so have other mo, 

That wedded be ; I trow that it be so : 

For well I wot it fareth so by me. 

I have a wife, the worste that may be, 

For though the fiend to her ycoupled were, 

She would him overmatch, I dare well swear. 

What should I you rehearse in special 

Her high malice 1 ? she is a shrew at all. 

* There is a long and a large difference 
Betwixt Grisilda's greate patience, ( 9100 
And of my wife the passing cruelty. 

Were I unbounden, all so may I the, 1 
I woulde never eft 2 come in the snare. 
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, 
As for the more part, I say not all; 
God shielde 3 that it shoulde so befall. 

* Ah ! good Sir Host, I have y wedded be 

These moneths two, and more not pardie; 9110 

And yet I trow that he, that all his life 

1 Thrive. 


3 Forbid. 




Of the 

* Inclina 

Wifeless hath been, though that men would him rife 1 
Into the heart, ne could in no mannere 9113 

Tellen so much sorrow, as I you here 
Could tell en of my wife's cursedness/ 

' Now/ quod our Host, * Merchant, so God you 
Since ye so muchel knowen of that art, [bless, 
Full heartily I pray you tell us part/ 

' Gladly/ quod he, ' but of mine owen sore 
For sorry heart I tellen may no more.' 


WHILOM there was dwelling in Lombardy 
A worthy knight, that born was at Pavie, 
In which he lived in great prosperity; 
And sixty year a wifeless man was he, 
And followed aye his bodily delight 
On women, there as was his appetite, 
As do these fooles that be seculere. 2 
And when that he was passed sixty year, 
Were it for holiness or for dotage, 
I cannot say, but such a great courage 3 
Hadde this knight to be a wedded man, 
That day and night he doth all that he can 
T' espien where that he might wedded be ; 
Praying our Lord to granten him, that he 
Mighte once knowen of that blissful life, 
That is betwixt an 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 saith this olde knight, that was so wise. 

And certainly, as sooth 1 as God is king, 
To take a wife, it is a glorious thing, 
And namely when a man is old and hoar, 
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 solas, 2 
Whereas these bachelors singen Alas! 
When that they find any adversity 
In love, which n'is but childish vanity. 
And true'ly it sit 3 well to be so, 
That bachelors have often pain and woe: 
On brittle ground they build, and brittleness 
They finden, when they weenen 4 sikerness:* 
They live but as a bird or as a best, 6 
In liberty and under no arrest, 
Thereas 7 a wedded man in his estate 
Liveth a life blissful and ordinate, 
Under the yoke of marriage ybound: 
Well may his heart in joy and bliss abound. 
For who can be so buxom 8 as a wife? 
Who is so true and eke so Attentive 
To keep him, sick and whole, as is his make? 9 
For weal or woe she n'ill him not forsake : 
She n'is not weary him to love and serve, 
Though that he lie bedrid till that he sterve. 10 

And yet some clerkes say, it is not so, 
Of which he, Theophrast, is one of tho: 11 
What force 12 though Theophrast list for to lie? 

' Ne take no wife/ quod he, * for husbandry, 13 
As for to spare in household thy dispense: 
A true servant doth more diligence 


91 GO 



' Mirth. 

3 Becomes. 

4 Thiuk. 

5 Security. 

6 Beast 

7 Whereas. 


10 Die. 

11 Those. 

13 What 

13 Thrift 






Thy good to keep, than doth thine owen wife, 9175 

For she will claimen half part all her life. 

And if that thou be sick, so God me save, 

Thy very friendes or a true knave 1 

Will keep thee bet 2 than she, that waiteth aye 

After thy good, and hath done many a day/ 9iso 

This sentence, and an hundred thinges worse 
Writeth this man, there God his bones curse. 
But take no keep 3 of all such vanity, 
Defieth Theophrast, and heark'neth me. 

A wife is Godde's gifte verily; 
All other manner gifte's hardily, 
As landes, rentes, pasture, or commune, 4 
Or mebles, 5 all be gifte's of fortune, 
That passen as a shadow on the wall : 
But drede 6 thou not, if plainly speak I shall, 9190 
A wife will last and in thine house endure, 
Well longer than thee list paraventure. 

Marriage is a full great sacrament; 
He which that hath no wife I hold him shent; 7 
He liveth helpless, and all desolate, 
(I speak of folk in secular estate :) 
And heark'neth why, I say not this for nought, 
That woman is for manners help ywrought. 
The highe God, when he had Adam maked, 
And saw him all alone belly naked, 9200 

God of his greate goodness saide than, 8 
Let us now make an help unto this man 
Like to himself; and then he made him Eve. 

Here may ye see, and hereby may ye preve, 9 
That a wife is man's help and his comfort, 
His paradise terrestre and his disport : 
So buxom 10 and so virtuous is she, 
They musten neede's live in unity: 




* Labour. 
3 Whit 



One flesh they be, and one flesh, as I guess, 9209 
Hath but one heart in weal and in distress. 

A wife? Ah! Sainte Mary, benedicite, 
How might a man have any' adversity 
That hath a wife ? certes I cannot sey. 1 
The bliss the which that is betwixt them tway 
There may no tongue tell or hearte think. 
If he be poor, she helpeth him to swink; 2 
She keep'th his good, and wasteth never a del ; 
All that her husband doth, her liketh well ; 
She saith not ones Nay, when he saith Ye; 4 
'Do this/ saith he; 'All ready, Sir/ saith she. 9220 

O blissful order, wedlock precious, 
Thou art so merry, and eke so virtuous, 
And so commended, and approved eke, 
That every man that holt 5 him worth a leek, Hoideth. 

Upon his bare knees ought all his life 
Thanken 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 sikerness, 6 
He may not be deceived, as I guess, 9230 

So that he work after his wife's rede ; 7 
Then may he boldly bearen 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. 8 

Lo how that Jacob, as these clerkes read, 
By good counsel of his mother Bebec' 
Bounde the kidde's skin about his neck; 
For which his father's benison 9 he wan. 

Lo Judith, as the story eke tell can, 9240 

By good counsel she Godde's people kept, 
And slew him, Holofernes, while he slept. 

8 Security. 

7 Advice. 

8 Advise. 



1 Satisfac 

2 Biddeth. 

8 Work. 

4 Thrive. 

5 Mock. 

6 Sure. 

T Serious. 

Lo Abigail, by good counsel how she 9243 

Save'd her husband Nabal, when that he 
Should have been slain. And look, Hester also 
By good counsel delivered out of woe 
The people of God, and made him, Mardochee 
Of Assuere enhanced for to be. 

There n'is no thing in gree 1 superlative 
(As saith Senec) above an humble wife. 9250 

Suffer thy wife's tongue, as Caton bit, 2 
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 werche, 3 
Love well thy wife, as Christ love'th his cherche : 
If thou lovest thyself, love thou thy wife. 
No man hateth his flesh, but in his life 9250 

He fost'reth it, and therefore bid I thee 
Cherish thy wife, or thou shalt never the. 4 
Husband and wife, what so men jape 5 or play, 
Of worldly folk holden the siker 6 way : 
They be so knit, there may no harm betide, 
And namely upon the wife's side. 

For which this January, of whom I told, 
Considered hath within his dayes old 
The lusty life, the virtuous quiet, 
That is in marriage honey- sweet. 9270 

And for his friendes on a day he sent 
To tellen them th' effect of his intent. 

With face sad, 7 his tale he hath them told: 
He saide, ' Friendes, I am hoar and old, 
And almost (God wot) on my pitte's brink, 
Upon my soule somewhat must I think. 


I have my body folily 1 dispended, 9277 

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 shapeth 2 for my marriage 

All suddenly, for I will not abide : 

And I will fonde 3 t' espien on my side, 

To whom I may be wedded hastily. 

But forasmuch as ye be more than I, 

Ye shallen rather such a thing espien 

Than I, and where me beste were t' allien. 

' But one thing warn I you, my friendes dear, 
I will none old wife have in no mannere : 9290 

She shall not passen twenty year certain. 
Old fish and younge flesh would I have fain. 
Bet 4 is (quod he) a pike than a pikerel, 6 
And bet than old beef is the tender veal. 
I will no woman thirty year of age, 
It is but beanestraw and great forage. 
And eke these olde widows (God it wote) 
They connen 6 so much craft on Wades boat, 
So muchel broken harm when that them lest, 7 
That with them should I never live in rest. 9300 
For sundry schooles maken subtle clerkes ; 
Woman of many schooles half a clerk is. 
But certainly, a young thing men may gie, 8 
Right as men may warm wax with handes plie. 9 
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 ne could have no pleasance, 
Then should I lead my life in avoutrie, 
And so straight to the devil when I die. 98ic 




4 Better. 

8 Young 


6 Know. 





1 Rather. 

Ne children should I none upon her getten: 9311 

Yet were me lever 1 houndes had me eaten, 

Than that mine heritage shoulde fall 

In strange hands : and this I tell you all. 

I doate not; I wot the cause why 

Men shoulden wed : and furthermore wot I, 

There speaketh many a man of marriage, 

That wot no more of it than wot my page, 

For which causes a man should take a wife. 

If he ne may not liven chaste his life, 

Take him a wife with great devotidn, 

Because of lawful procreation 

Of children, to th' honoiir of God above, 

And not only for paramour or love; 

And for they shoulden lechery eschew, 

And yield their debte when that it is due : 

Or for that each of them should helpen other 

In mischief, as a sister shall the brother, 

And live in chastity full holily. 

'But, Sires, (by your leave,) that am not I, 9330 
For God be thanked, I dare make avaunt, 
I feel my limbes stark and suffisant 
To do all that a man belongeth to : 
I wot myselven best what I may do. 
Though I be hoar, I fare as doth a tree, 
That bloometh ere the fruit ywoxen be; 
The bloomy tree n'is neither dry nor dead : 
I feel me nowhere hoar but on my head. 
Mine heart and all my limbes be as green, 
As laurel through the year is for to seen. 9340 

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' ensamples old; 



Some blamed it, some praised it certain; 9345 

But atte laste, shortly for to sayn, 

(As all day falleth altercation 

Betwixen friendes in disputison 1 ) i Dispute. 

There fell a strife betwixt his brethren two, 

Of which that one was cleped Placebo, 9350 

Justinus soothly called was that other. 

Placebo said; '0 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 ne liketh for your high prudence, 
To weiven 2 from the word of Solomon. Depart. 

This word said he unto us every one ; 
Work alle thing by counsel, thus said he, 
And then ne shalt thou not repenten thee. 9360 

But though that Solomon spake such a word, 
Mine owen deare brother and my lord, 
So wisly 3 God my soule bring at rest, 
I hold your owen counsel is the best. 

' For, brother mine, take of me this motive, 
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 
Abouten lordes of full high estate : 
Yet had I never with none of them debate, 9370 
I never them contraried true'ly. 
I wot well that my lord can 4 more than I ; 
What that he saith, I hold it firm and stable, 
I say the same, or elles 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 

8 Certain 




1 Judg 

2 Better. 

4 Satisfied. 

ff Advanc 


T Given to 

8 A scold. 

Nay, lordes be no fooles, by my fay. 9379 

Ye have yourselven shewed here to-day 

So high sentence, 1 so holily, and well, 

That I consent, and confirm every deal 

Your worde's all, and your opinioiin. 

By God, there n'is no man in all this town 

Ne in Itaille, could bet 2 have ysaid: 

Christ holt 3 him of this counsel well apaid. 4 

And truely it is an high courage 

Of any man that stop en 5 is in age, 

To take a young wife, by my father kin; 

Your hearte hangeth on a jolly pin. 9390 

' 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 he to Placeb 7 answer'd. 
' Now, brother mine, be patient I pray, 
Since ye have said, and heark'neth what I say. 

' Senec among his other worde's wise 
Saith, that a man ought him right well avise, 6 
To whom he giveth his land or his chattel. 
And since I ought avisen me right well, 9400 

To whom I give my good away from me, 
Well more I ought avisen 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 avisement. 
Men must inquiren (this is mine assent) 
Whether she be wise and sober, or dronkelew, 7 
Or proud, or elles other ways a shrew, 
A chidester, 8 or a waster of thy good, 
Or rich or poor, or else a man is wood. 9 9410 

All be it so, that no man finden shall 
None in this world, that trotteth whole in all, 



Nor man, nor beast, such as men can devise, 9413 

But natheless it ought enough suffice 

With any wife, if so were that she had 

More goode thewe's, 1 than her vices bad : 

And all this asketh leisure to inquire. 

For God it wot, I have wept many a tear 

Full privily, since that I had a wife. 

Praise whoso will a wedded manne's life, 9420 

Certain 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, 

Say that I have the moste steadfast wife, 

And eke the meekest one that beareth life. 

But I wot best, where wringeth me my shoe. 

Ye may for me right as you liketh do. 

Aviseth you, ye be a man of age, 

How that ye enter into marriage ; 0430 

And namely with a young wife and a fair. 

By him that made water, fire, earth, and air, 

The youngest man, that is in all this rout, 2 

Is busy enough to bringen it about 

To have his wife alone, trusteth me : 

Ye shall not pleasen her fully years three, 

This is to say, to do her full pleas&nce. 

A wife asketh full many an observance. 

I pray you that ye be not evil apaid/ 3 

'Well/ quod this January, 'and hast thou said 7 ? 
Straw for Senec, and straw for thy proverbs, 44i 
I counte not a pannier full of herbs 
Of schoole terme's ; wiser men than thou, 
As thou hast heard, assented here right now 
To my purpose: Placebo, what say yeT 

' I say it is a cursed 4 man/ quod he, 



8 Displeas 



1 Hinder- 

2 Surely. 

3 Crowd. 


4 That letteth 1 matrimony sikerly/ 2 9447 

And with that word they risen suddenly, 

And been 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 empress 8 
Of January about his marriage. 
Many a fair shape, and many a fair visage 
There passeth 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 figiire pace 
By his mirror, and in the same wise 
'Gan January in with his thought devise 9460 

Of maidens, which that dwelten him beside : 
He wiste not where that he might abide. 
For if that one have beauty in her face, 
Another stood so in the people's grace 
For her sadness 4 and her benignity, 
That of the people the greatest voice hath she : 
And some were rich and hadden a bad name. 
But natheless, betwixt earnest and game, 
He at the last appointed him on one, 
And let all other from his hearte gon, 9470 

And chose her of his own authority, 
For love is blind all day, and may not see. 
And when that he was in his bed ybrought, 
He portray'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. / 

And when that he on her was condescended, 
Him thought his choice it might not be amended; 9480 





8 First of 

For when that he himself concluded had, 9481 

Him thought each other manners 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 woulden to him come; 
He would abridge their labour all and some: 
Needed no more to them to go nor ride, 
He was appointed there 1 he would abide. 

Placebo came, and eke his friendes soon, 
And alderfirst 2 he bade them all a boon,* 
That none of them no argumentes make 
Against the purpose that he hath ytake: ' 
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 3 were it so, she were of small degree, 
Sufficeth him her youth and her beauty : 9500 

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 parten shall; 
And prayed them to labour in this need, 
And shapen that he faille not to speed. 
For then (he said) his spirit was at ease; 
Then is (quod he) nothing may me displease, 
Save one thing pricketh in my conscience, 
The which I will rehearse in your presence. 9510 

'I have (quod he) heard said full yore 4 ago, Long. 

There may no man have perfect blisses two, 
This is to say, in earth and eke in heaven. 

* ' Bade them all a boon :' Made a request of them all. 








For though he keep him from the sinnes seven, 

And eke from every branch of thilke 1 tree, 9515 

Yet is there so perfect felicity, 

And so great ease and lust 2 in marriage, 

That ever I am aghast now in mine age, 

That I shall leaden now so merry a life, 

So delicate, withouten woe or strife, 9520 

That I shall have mine heaven in earthe here. 

For since that very heaven is bought so dear 

With tribulation and great pen&nce, 

How should I then, living in such pleasance 

As alle wedded men do with their wives, 

Come to the bliss, there Christ etern on live isl 

This is my dread, and ye, my brethren tway, 

Assoileth 3 me this question I pray/ 

Justinus, which that hated his folly, 
AnsweYd anon right in his j apery ; 4 0530 

And for he would his longe tale abridge, 
He woulde no authority allege, 
But saide, ' Sir, so there be none obstacle 
Other than this, God of his high miracle, 
And of his mercy, may so for you werche, 5 
That ere ye have your rites of holy cherche, 6 
Ye may repent of wedded manners life, 
In which ye say there is no woe nor strife: 
And elles God forbid, but if he sent 
A wedded man his grace him to repent 9540 

Well often, rather than a single man. 
And therefore, Sir, the best rede 7 that I can, 
Despair you not, but haveth in memory, 
Paraventure she may be your purgatory; 
She may be Godde's mean and Godde's whip ; 
Then shall your soul up unto heaven skip 
Swifter than doth an arrow of a bow. 



I hope to God hereafter ye shall know, 9543 

That there n'is no so great felicity 

In marriage, ne never more shall be, 

That you shall let 1 of your salvation, 

So that ye use, as skill is and reas<5n, 

The lustes of your wife attemprely, 2 

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, 

But let us waden out of this m atte*re. 

The wife of Bath, if ye have understand, 

Of marriage, which ye now have in hand, 9560 

Declared hath full well in little space : 

Fareth now well, God have you in his grace/ 

And with this word this Justine and his brother 
Have take their leave, and each of them of other. 
And when they saw that it must neede's be, 
They wroughten so by sleight and wise treaty, 
That she, this maiden, which that Maius night, 8 
And hastily as ever that she might, 
Shall wedded be unto this January. 
I trow it were too longe you to tarry, 9670 

If I told you of every script 4 and band, 
By which that she was feoff'd in his land; 
Or for to reckon of her rich array. 
But finally yeomen is the day, 
That to the churche bothe been they went, 
For to receive the holy sacrament. 
Forth cometh the priest, with stole about his 


And bade her be like Sarah and Kebec', 
In wisdom and in truth of marriage : 
And said his orisons, as is usage, 9530 


1 Hinder. 


8 Called. 




1 Crossed. 

2 Sure. 

3 Pours 

And crouched 1 them, and bade God should them 

bleSS, 9581 

And made all siker 2 enough with holiness. 

Thus be they wedded with solemnity; 
And at the feaste sitteth 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, 
The moste dainteous of all Itaille. 
Before them stood such instruments of soun, 
That Orpheus, nor of Thebes Amphion, 9590 

Ne maden never such a melody. 
At every course in came loud minstrelsy, 
That never Joab trumped for to hear, 
Ne he, Theodomas, yet half so clear 
At Thebes, when the city was in doubt. 
Bacchus the wine them skinketh 3 all about, 
And Venus laugheth upon every wight, 
(For January was become her knight, 
And woulde both assayen his courage 
In liberty, and eke in marriage,) OGOO 

And with her firebrand in her hand about 
Danceth 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, 
That writest us that ilke wedding merry 
Of her Philologie and him Mercury, 
And of the songe's that the Muses sung : 
Too small is both thy pen and eke thy tongue 96io 
For to describen of this marriage. 
When tender youth hath wedded stooping age, 
There is such mirth that it may not be written; 


Assayeth it yourself, then may ye witten 1 9614 

If that I lie or no in this matteYe. 

Maius, that sits with so benign a chere, 2 
Her to behold it seemed faerie, 
Queen Hester looked never with such an eye 
On Assuere, so meek a look hath she, 
I may you not devise all her beauty ; 9620 

But thus much of her beauty tell I may, 
That she was like the brighte morrow of May 
Fulfilled of all beauty and pleasance. 

This January is ravish'd in a trance, 
At every time he looketh in her face, 
But in his heart he 'gan her to menace, 
That he that night in arme's would her strain 
Harder than ever Paris did Helene. 
But natheless yet had he great pity 
That thilke night offenden her must he, 9630 

And thought, Alas, O tender creature, 
Now woulde God ye mighten well endure 
All my courage, it is so sharp and keen; 
I am aghast ye shall it not sustene. 
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 ago. 
And finally he doth all his labour, 
As he best mighte, saving his honour, 9640 

To haste them from the meat in subtle wise.. 

The time came that reason was to rise; 
And after that men dance, and drinken 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, 
Which carved before the knight full many a day : 

1 Know. 




2 Fainted. 


4 Domestic. 

5 Offers. 

6 At home. 


8 Pleasant 

8 Spiced 

He was so ravish'd on his lady May, 
That for the very pain he was nigh wood; 1 
Almost he swelt, 2 and swooned there he stood : 
So sore hath 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, 3 
Till freshe May will ruen on his pain. 

perilous fire, that in the bedstraw breedeth! 
famuler 4 foe, that his service bedeth! 5 
servant traitor, false of holy hue, 
Like to the adder in bosom sly untrue, 
God shield us alle from your acquaintance! 
January, drunken in pleasance 
Of marriage, see how thy Damian, 
Thine owen squier and thy boren man, 
Intendeth for to do thee villainy : 
God grante thee thine homely 6 foe to espy. 
For in this world n'is worse pestilence, 
Than homely foe, all day in thy presence. 

Performed hath the sun his arc diurn, 7 
No longer may the body of him sojourn 
On the horizon, as in that latitude : 
Night with his mantle, that is dark and rude, 
'Gan overspread the hemisphere about: 
For which departed is this lusty rout 8 
From January, with thank on every side. 
Home to their houses lustily they ride, 
Thereas they do their thinges, as them lest, 
And when they saw their time, go to rest. 

Soon after that this hasty January 
Will go to bed, he will no longer tarry. 
He drinketh hippocras, clarre, 9 and vernage 







Of spices hot, t j increasen his courage : 
And many a 'lectuary had he full fine, 
Such as the cursed monk Dan Constantine 
Hath written in his book de Coitu; 
To eat them all he woulde 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/ 
And they have done right as he will devise. 

Men drinken, and the travers 1 draw anon; 
The bride is brought a-bed as still as stone ; 
And when the bed was with the priest ybless'd, 
Out of the chamber hath every wight him dr 
And January hath fast in armes take 
His freshe May, his paradise, his make. 2 
He lulleth her, he kisseth her full oft; 
With thicke bristles of his beard unsoft, 
Like to the skin of houndfish, sharp as brere, 
(For he was shave all new in his mann^re,) 
He rubbeth her upon her tender face, 
And saide thus; ' Alas! I must trespace 
To you, my spouse, and you greatly offend, 
Or time come that I will down descend. 
But natheless considereth this, (quod he,) 
There n'is no workman, whatsoever he be, 
That may both worken well and hastily : 
This will be done at leisure perfectly. 
It is no force 3 how longe that we play: 
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, 
Ne hurt himselven with his owen knife : 
For we have leave to play us by the law/ 



1 Servants. 


3 No mat 



Thus laboureth he, till that the day 'gan daw, 
And then he tak'th a sop in fine clarre, 9717 

And upright in his bed then sitteth he. 
And after that he sang full loud and clear, 
And kiss'd his wife, and maketh wanton cheer. 
He was all coltish, full of ragerie, 1 
And full of jargon, as a flecked pie. 
The slacke skin about his necke shaketh, 
While that he sang, so chanteth he and craketh. 
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 praiseth not his playing worth a bean. 
Then said he thus ; * My reste will I take 
Now day is come, I may no longer wake;' 9730 

And down he laid his head and slept till prime. 
And afterward, when that he saw his time, 
Up riseth January, but freshe May 
Held her in chamber till the fourthe day, 
As usage is of wives for the best. 
For every labour sometime must have rest, 
Or elle's longe may he not endure ; 
This is to say, no lives creature, 
Be it of fish, or bird, or beast, or man. 

Now will I speak of woful Damian, 9740 

That languisheth for love, as ye shall hear; 
Therefore I speak to him in this mannere. 
I say, silly Damian, alas! 
Answer to this demand, as in this case, 
How shalt thou to thy lady freshe May 
Tellen thy woe? She will alway say nay; 
Eke if thou speak, she will thy woe bewrein; 2 
God be thine help, I can no better sein. 3 

This sicke Damian in Venus' fire 


So burneth, that he dieth for desire; 9750 

For which he put his life in ^venture, 

No longer might he in this wise endure, 

But privily a penner 1 'gan he borrow, Pen-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 2 day * That 

That January hath wedded freshe May 9760 

In ten of Taure, was into Cancer gliden; 
So long hath Maius in her chamber abiden, 
As custom is unto these nobles alL 
A bride shall not eaten in the hall, 
Till dayes four or three days at the least 
Ypassed been, then let her go to feast. 
The fourthe day complete from noon to noon, 
When that the highe masse was ydone, 
In halle sat this January and May, 
As fresh as is the brighte summer's day. 9770 

And so befell, how that this goode man 
Eemember'd him upon this Damian, 
And saide; ' Saint Mary, how may it be, 
That Damian attendeth not to me? 
Is he aye sick? or how may this betide?' 

His squiers, which that stooden there beside, 
Excused him, because of his sickness, 
Which letted 3 him to do his business: * Hinder- 

None other cause mighte make him tarry. 

'That me forthinketh,' 4 quod this January; 9780 4 Grieves. 
' He is a gentle squier, by my truth ; 
If that he died, it were great harm and ruth. 
He is as wise, discreet, and as secree, 





3 Discover 

As any man I wot of his degree, 9784 

And thereto manly and eke serviceable, 

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, 0790 

That of his bounty and his gentleness 

He woulde so comforten in sickness 

His squier, for it was a gentle deed. 

' Dame/ quod this January, ' take good heed, 
At after meat, ye with your women all, 
(When that ye be in chamber out of this hall,) 
That all ye go to see this Damian : 
Do him disport, he is a gentleman, 
And telleth him that I will him visit, 
Have I no thing but rested me a lite: 1 9800 

And speed you faste, for I will abide 
Till that ye sleepen faste by my side/ 
And with that word he J gan unto him call 
A squier, that was marshall of his hall, 
And told him certain thinges that he wold. 

This freshe May hath straight her way yhold 
With all her women unto Damian. 
Down by his bedde's side sits she than, 
Comforting him as goodly as she may. 

This Damian, when that his time he say, 2 9310 
In secret wise, his purse, and eke his bill, 
In which that he ywritten had his will, 
Hath put into her hand withouten more, 
Save that he sighed wonder 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/ 3 


This purse hath she in with her bosom hid, 9818 
And went her way ; ye get no more of me ; 
But unto January ycome is she, 
That on his bedde's side sat full soft. 
He taketh her, and kisseth her full oft : 
And laid him down to sleep, and that anon. 
She feigned her, as that she muste gon 
Thereas ye wot that every wight must need; 
And when she of this bill hath taken heed, 
She rent it all to cloutes at the last, 
And in the privy softely it cast. 

Who studieth now but faire freshe May? 
Adown by olde January she lay, 9330 

That slepte, till the cough hath him awaked: 
Anon he pray'd her strippen her all naked, 
He would of her, he said, have some pleas&nce ; 
And said, her clothes did him incumbrance. 
And she obey'th him, be her lefe 1 or loth. waiing. 

But lest that precious 2 folk be with me wroth, Precise. 

How that he wrought, I dare not to you tell, 
Or whether her thought it paradise or hell; 
But there I let them worken in their wise 
Till evesong rang, and that they must arise. 9340 

Were it by destiny, or aventiire, 
Were it by influence, or by natiire, 
Or constellation, that in such estate 
The heaven stood at that time fortunate, 
As for to put a bill of Venus' werkes 
(For alle thing hath time, as say these clerkes,) 
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. 9350 

But sooth is this, how that this freshe May 



1 Genero 

2 Die. 



Hath taken such impression that day 

Of pity on this sicke Damian, 

That from her hearte she ne driven can 

The remembrance for to do him ease. 

' Certain (thought she) whom that this thing displease 

I recke not, for here I him assure, 

To love him best of any creature, 

Though he no more hadde than his shert/ 

Lo, pity runneth soon in gentle heart. 
Here may ye see, how excellent franchise 1 
In women is when they them narrow avise. 
Some tyrant is, as there be many one, 
That hath an heart as hard as any stone, 
Which would have let him sterven 2 in the place 
Well rather than have granted him her grace : / 
And them rejoicen in their cruel pride, 
And reckon not to be an homicide. 

This gentle May, fulfilled of pity, 
Right of her hand a letter maketh she, 
In which she granteth 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 visiten this Damian go'th this May, 
And subtilly this letter down she threst 
Under his pillow, read it if him lest. 
She tak'th him by the hand, and hard him twist 
So secretly, that no wight of it wist, 9880 

And bade him be all whole ; and forth she went 
To January, when he for her sent. 

Up riseth Damian the nexte morrow, 
All passed was his sickness and his sorrow. 

* ' When they them narrow avise :' When they closely consider. 



8 Shaped. 
3 Honour- 

He combeth him, he proineth 1 him and picketh, 
He doth all that his lady list and liketh; 9886 

And eke to January he go'th as low, 
As ever did a dogge for the bow. 
He is so pleasant unto every man, 
(For craft is all, whoso that do it can,) 
That every wight is fain to speak him good; 
And fully in his lady's grace he stood. 

Thus let I Damian about his need, 
And in my tale forth I will proceed. 

Some clerkes holden that felicity 
Stands in delight, and therefore certain he, 
This noble January, with all his might 
In honest wise as 'longeth to a knight, 
Shope 2 him to liven full deliriously: 
His housing, his array, as honestly 3 9900 

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, 
Ne could of it the beauty well devise : 
Ne Priapus ne mighte not suffice, 
Though he be god of gardens, for to tell 
The beauty of the garden, and the well, 9910 

That stood under a laurel alway green. 
Full often time he, Pluto, and his queen, 
Proserpina, and alle their faerie, 
Disporten them and maken melody 
About that well, and danced, as men told. 

This noble knight, this January the old, 
Such dainty hath in it to walk and pley, 
That he will suffer no wight bear the key, 




2 Strange. 

8 Pleasure. 



Save he himself, for of the small wicket 
He bare alway of silver a cliket, 1 
With which when that him list he it unshet. 
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 a-bed, 
He in the garden performed them and sped. 

And in this wise many a merry day 
Lived this January and fresh e May, 
But worldly joy may not alway endure 
To January, nor to no creature. 

sudden hap, thou fortiine unstable, 
Like to the scorpion so deceivable, 
That flatt'rest with thy head when thou wilt sting ; 
Thy tail is death, through thine envenoming. 
brittle joy, sweete poison quaint, 2 
monster, that so subtilly canst paint 
Thy gifte's, under hue of steadfastness, 
That thou deceivest bothe more and less, 
Why hast thou January thus deceived, 
That haddest him for thy full friend received \ 
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 3 and his prosperity 
Is waxen blind, and that all suddenly. 
He weepeth and he waileth piteously; 
And therewithal, the fire of jealousy 
(Lest that his wife should fall in some folty) 
So burnt his hearte, that he woulde fain, 
That some man had both him and her yslain; 
For neither after his death, nor in his life, 
Ne would he that she were no love nor wife, 



But ever live as a widow in clothes blake, 9953 

Sole as the turtle that hath lost her make. 1 l Mate. 

But at the last, after a month or tway, 

His sorrow 'gan assuagen, sooth to say. 

For when he wist it might none other be, 

He patiently took his adversity: 

Save out of doubt he ne may not forgon, 

That he n'as jealous ever more in one : 9960 

Which jealousy it was so outrageoiis, 

That neither in hall, ne in none other house, 

Ne in none other place never the mo 

He n'olde suffer her for to ride or go, 

But if that he had hand on her alway. 

For which full often weepeth freshe May, 

That loveth Damian so burningly, 

That she must either dien suddenly, 

Or elle's she must have him as her lest: 2 'Please. 

She waited 3 when her hearte would to-brest. 4 9970 Expect- 

Upon that other side Damian 
Becomen is the sorrowfullest man 
That ever was, for neither night nor day 
Ne might he speak a word to freshe May, 
As to his purpose of no such mattere, 
But if that January must it hear, 
That had an 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 5 of his intent. 9980 * End. 

January, what might it thee avail, 
Though thou might see as far as shippes sail? 
For as good is blind to deceived be, 
As be deceived, when a man may see. 
Lo, Argus, which that had an hundred eyen, 
For all that ever he could pore or pryen, 



1 Deceived. 

2 Surely. 



5 Whisper 



Of a 

Was not. 

Yet was he blent, 1 and, God wot, so be mo, 9987 
That weenen wisly 2 that it be not so: 
Pass over is an ease, I say no more. 

This freshe May, of which I spake of yore, 
In warm wax hath imprinted the cliket, 3 
That January bare of the small wicket, 
By which into his garden oft he went; 
And Damian, that knew all her intent, 
The cliket counterfeited privily; 
There n'is no more to say, but hastily 
Some wonder by this cliket shall betide, 
Which ye shall hearen, if ye will abide. 

noble Ovid, sooth sayest thou, God wot, 
What sleight is it, if love be long and hot, 10000 
That he n'ill find it out in some mannere 1 
By Pyramus and Thisbe may men lere; 4 
Though they were kept full long and strait over all, 
They been accorded, rowning 5 through a wall, 
There no wight could have founden such a sleight. 
But now to purpose ; ere that daye's eight 
Were passed of the month of Juil, befill, 6 
That January hath caught so great a will, 
Through egging of his wife, him for to play 
In his garden, and no wight but they tway, 10010 
That in a morrow unto this May said he; 
'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. 7 
Come forth now with thine eyen columbine. 8 
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, wife : 
No spot in thee n'as 9 never in all thy life. 10020 





Come forth, and let us taken our disport, 
I choose thee for my wife and my comfort/ 

Such olde lewed wordes used he. 
On Damian a signe made she, 
That he should go before with his cliket. 
This Damian hath opened the wicket, 
And in he start, and that in such mannere, 
That no wight might him see neither yhear, 
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 ago, 
And clapped to the wicket suddenly. 

* Now, wife/ quod he, ' here n'is but thou, and I, 
That art the creature that I best love : 
For by that Lord that sits in heaven above, 
I hadde lever 1 dien on a knife, 
Than thee offenden, deare true wife. 
For Godde's sake, think how I thee chees, 2 
Not for no covetise doubteless, 
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 3 God my soule bring to bliss; 
I pray you on this cov'nant ye me kiss. 
And though that I be jealous, wite 4 me nought; 
Ye be so deep imprinted in my thought, 
That when that I consider your beauty, 
And therewithal the unlikely eld of me, 



1 Rather. 

8 Surely. 
4 Blame. 







I may not certes, though I shoulde die, 10055 

Forbear to be out of your company 
For very love ; this is withouten doubt : 
Now kiss me, wife, and let us roam about/ 

This freshe May, when she these worde's heard, 
Benignely to January answer'd, looeo 

But first and forward she began to weep: 
' I have/ quod she, ' a soule for to keep 
As well as ye, and also mine honour, 
And of my wifehood thilke tender flow'r, 
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 that day, 
That I ne sterve, 1 as foul as woman may, 10070 

If ever I do unto my kin that shame, 
Or elles I impaire so my name, 
That I be false ; and if I do that lack, 
Do strippen me and put me in a sack, 
And in the nexte river do 2 me drench: 3 
I am a gentlewoman, and no wench. 
Why speak ye thus? but men be ever untrue, 
And women have reproof of you aye new. 
Ye con 4 none other dalliance, I 'lieve, 
But speak to us as of untrust and repreve/ 5 looso 

And with that word she saw where Damian 
Sat in the bush, and coughen she began ; 
And with her finger a sign made she, 
That Damian should climb up on 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, 
Well bet 6 than January her owen make. 7 



For in a letter she had told him all 10039 

Of this matter, how that he worken shall. 
And thus I let 1 him sitting in the pery, 2 
And January and May roaming full merry. 

Bright was the day, and blue the firmament; 
Phoebus of gold his streames down hath 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 morrow-tide, 
That in the garden, on the farther side, 10100 

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, 
While that she gathered flowers in the mead, 
(In Claudian ye may the story read, 
How that her in his grisly cart 3 he fet, 4 } 
This king of Faerie adown him set 
Upon a bench of turfes fresh and green, 
And right anon thus said he to his queen. 10110 

* My wife/ quod he, ' there may no wight say nay, 
Th' experience so prov'th it every day, 
The treason which that woman doth to man. 
Ten hundred thousand stories tell I can 
Notable of your untruth and brittleness. 

' Solomon, richest of all richess, 
Fulfill'd of sapience, and worldly glory, 
Full worthy be thy worde's to memory 
To every wight, that wit and reason can. 5 
Thus praiseth he the bounty 6 yet of man; 10120 
Among a thousand men yet found I one, 

But of all women found I never none. 
VOL. n. K 

1 Leave. 

2 Pear-tree. 

3 Chariot 

4 Fetched. 




3 Face it. 


Thus saith this king, that knew your wickedness ; 

And Jesus, Filius Sirach, as I guess, 10124 

He speaketh of you but seldom reverence. 

A wilde fire, a 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 cokewold. 10130 

Lo, where he sits, the lecher, 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 villany; 

Then shall he knowen all her harlotry, 

Both in reproof of her and other mo.' 

' Yea, Sir/ quod Proserpine, ' and will ye so ? 
Now by my mother Ceres' soul I swear, 
That I shall give her suffisant answere, 10140 

And alle women after for her sake ; 
That though they be in any guilt ytake, 
With face bold they shall themselves excuse, 
And bear them down that woulden them accuse. 
For lack of answer, none of us shall dien, 
All 1 had ye seen a thing with both your eyen, 
Yet shall we so visdge 2 it hardily, 
And weep and swear and chiden subtlely, 
That ye shall be as lewed 3 as be geese. 

'What recketh me of your authorities'? 10150 

I wot well that this Jew, this Solomon, 
Found of us women f ooles many one : 
But though that he ne found no good woman, 
There hath yfounden many another man 
Women full good, and true, and virtuous; 
Witness on them that dwelt in Christe's house, 



With martyrdom they proved their consignee. 10157 

The Roman gestes 1 maken remembrance 

Of many a very true wife also. 

But, Sir, ne be not wroth, all be it so, 

Though that he said he found no good woman, 

I pray you take the sentence 2 of the man: 

He meant thus, That in sovereign bounty 

N'is none but God, no, neither he nor she. 3 

' Hey, for the very God that n'is but one, 
What maken ye so much of Solomon \ 
What though he made a temple, Godde's house? 
What though he riche were and glorious 1 ? 
So made he eke a temple of false goddes, 
How might he do a thing that more forbode 4 is? 
Pardie, as fair as ye his name emplastre, 5 10171 

He was a lecher, and an idolastre, 6 
And in his eld he very God forsook. 
And if that God ne had (as saith the book) 
Spared him for his father's sake, he should 
Have lost his regne 7 rather than he would. 

' I sette 8 not of all the villainy, 
That he of women wrote, a butterfly. 
I am a woman, needes must I speak, 
Or swell unto that time mine hearte break. loiso 
For since he said that we be jangleresses, 9 
As ever may I brooken 10 whole my tresses, 
I shall not sparen for no courtesy 
To speak him harm, that saith us villainy/ 

' Dame/ quod this Pluto, ' be no longer wroth, 
I give it up : but since I swore mine oath, 
That I would granten him his sight again, 
My word shall stand, that warn I you certdin: 
I am a king, it sit 11 me not to lie/ 
' And I/ quod she, ' am queen of Faerie. 10190 

1 Histories. 

* Opinion. 

Male nor 

4 Forbid 

5 Plaster 

8 Idolater. 

7 King 
3 Value. 

10 Enjoy. 



1 Parrot. 

2 Pear-tree. 

8 Had not. 
4 Servant. 

8 No mat 




Her answer she shall have, I undertake. 

Let us no more wordes of it make/ 

' Forsooth/ quod he, ' I will you not contrary/ 

Now let us turn again to January, 
That in the garden with his faire May 
Singeth well merrier than the popinjay: 1 
' You love I best, and shall, and other none/ 

So long about the alleys is he gone, 
Till he was come again to thilke pery, 2 
Where as this Darnian sitteth full merry 
On high, among the freshe leaves green. 

This freshe May, that is so bright and she" 
'Gan for to sigh, and said, * Alas my side ! 
Now, Sir/ quod she, * for ought 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 
May have to fruit so great an appetite, 
That she may dien, but she of it have/ 

'Alas!' quod he, 'that I n'ad 3 here a knave, 4 
That coulde climb, alas! alas!' quod he, 
'For I am blind/ 'Yea, Sir, no force/ 5 quod she; 
But would ye vouchesafe for Godde's sake, 
The pery in with your armes for to take, 
(For well I wot that ye mistrusten me,) 
Then would I climben well enough/ quod she, 
' So I my foot might setten on your back/ 

' Certes/ said he, ' therein shall be no lack, 
Might I you helpen with mine hearte blood/ 

He stoopeth down, and on his back she stood, 
And caught her by a twist, 6 and up she go'th. 
(Ladies, I pray you that ye be not wroth, 





I cannot glose, I am a rude man :) 

And suddenly anon this Damian 

'Gan pullen up the smock, and in he throng. N 

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,/ 
Ne was there never man of thing 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 manne're, it may not be express'd, 
But if I woulde speak uncourteously. 
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; 
*0 stronge lady store, what doest thou?' 

And she answeYd: 'Sire, what aileth you? 
Have patience and reason in your mind, 
I have you helped on both your eyen blind. 
Up peril of my soul, I shall not lien, 
As me was taught to helped 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!' quod he, 'yea, algate in it went. 
God give you both one shames death to dien! 
He swived thee ; I saw it with mine eyen ; 
And elles be I hanged by the halse/ 1 

' Then is/ quod she, ' my medicine all false ; 
For certainly, if that ye mighten see, 
Ye would not say these wordes unto me. 
Ye have some glimpsing, and no perfect sight/ 

' I see/ quod he, ' as well as ever I might, 






1 Neck. 



1 Dear. 

2 Grieved. 

3 Awaken 



(Thanked be God,) with both mine eyen two, 10259 
And by my faith methought he did thee so/ 
* Ye maze, ye mazen, goode Sir/ quod she ; 
' This thank have I for I have made you see : 


Alas!' quod she, 'that ever I was so kind/ 

' Now, dame/ quod he, ' let all pass out of mind : 
Come down, my lefe, 1 and if I have missaid, 
God help me so, as I am evil apaid. 2 
But by my father's soul, I ween'd have sein, 
How that this Damian had by thee lein, 
And that thy smock had lain upon his breast/ 

' Yea, Sir/ quod she, ' ye may ween as you lest : 
But, Sir, a man that waketh of his sleep,\ 10271 
He may not suddenly well taken keep 
Upon a thing, nor see it perfectly, 
Till that he be adawed 3 verily. 
Eight so a man, that long hath blind ybe, 
He may not suddenly so well ysee, 
First when his sight is new comen again, 
As he that hath a day or two yseen. 
Till that your sight ysettled be a while, 
There may full many a sighte you beguile. 10280 
Beware, I pray you, for by heaven 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 kisseth her, and clippeth 4 her full oft, 
And on her womb he stroketh her full soft ; 
And to his palace home he hath her lad. 5 
Now, goode men, I pray you to be glad. 10290 

Thus endeth here my tale of January, 
God bless us, and his mother, Saint Mary. 



' BY Godde's mercy/ said our Hoste tho, 1 10293 

1 Then. 

* Now such a wife 1 pray God keep me fro. 

Lo, suche sleightes and subtilities 

In women be ; for aye as busy as bees 

Be they us silly men for to deceive, 

And from a soothe 2 will they ever weive. 3 

1 Truth. 


By this Merchante's tale it proveth well. 

3 Swerve. 

But natheless, as true as any steel, losoo 

I have a wife, though that she poore be ; 

But of her tongue a blabbing shrew is she ; 

And yet she hath an heap of vices mo. 

Thereof no force; 4 let all such thinges go. 

* No mat- 

But weet 5 ye what? in counsel be it said, 

5 Know. 

Me rueth sore I am unto her tied; 

For, and 6 I shoulde reckon every vice, 

6 If. 

Which that she hath, ywis 7 I were too nice; 

7 Certainly. 

And cause why, it should reported be 

And told to her of 8 some of this company, 10310 


(Of whom it needeth not for to declare, 

Since women connen 9 utter 10 such chaffare,) 11 
And eke my wit suffice th not thereto 

9 Know. 
10 Utterly, 

To tellen all; wherefore my tale is do. 

11 Ware. 

' Squier, come near, if it your wille be, 



1 Know. 

2 Pleasure. 


And say somewhat of love, for certes ye 
Connen 1 thereon as much as any man/ 
' Nay, Sir/ quod he, * but such thing as I can 
With heartly will, for I will not rebel 
Against your lust, 2 a tale will I tell. 
Have me excused if I speak amiss ; 
My will is good; and lo, my tale is this/ 



AT Sarra, in the land of Tartary, 
There dwelt a king that warrayed Russie, 
Through which there died many a doughty man : 
This noble king was cleped Cambuscan, 
Which in his time was of so great renown, 
That there n'as nowhere in no regioiin, 
So excellent a lord in alle thing : 
Him lacked nought that 'longeth to a king, 10330 
As of the sect of which that he was born. 
He kept his law to which he was ysworn, 
And thereto he was hardy, wise, and rich, 
And piteous and just, and alway yliche; 3 
True of his word, benign and honourable ; 
Of his courage as any centre stable ; 
Young, fresh, and strong, in arme's desirous, 
As any bachelor of all his house. 
A fair person he was, and fortunate, 
And kept alway so well royal estate, 10340 

That there n'as nowhere such another man. 
This noble king, this Tartar Cambuscan, 
Had two sonnes by Elfeta his wife, 



Of which the eldest son hight Algarsife, 10344 

That other was ycleped Camballo. 

A daughter had this worthy king also, 
That youngest was, and highte Canace : 
But for to tellen you all her beauty, 
It li'th not in my tongue, nor in my conning, 1 
I dare not undertake so high a thing : 10350 

Mine English eke is insufficient, 
It muste be a rethor 2 excellent, 
That coud 3 his colours longing for that art, 
If he should her describen any part : 
I am not such, I must speak as I can. 

And so befell, that when this Cambuscan 
Hath twenty winter borne his diadem, 
As he was wont from year to year I deem, 
He let the feast of his nativity 
Done 4 cry en, throughout Sarra his city, loseo 

The last Idus of March, afteY the year. 

Phoabus the sun full jollif was and clear, 
For he was nigh his exaltation 
In Marte's face, and in his mansion 
In Aries, the choleric hot sign : 
Full lusty 5 was the weather and benign, 
For which the fowls against the sunne sheen, 6 
What for the season and the younge green, 
Full loude sungen their affections : 
Them seem'd have gotten them protections 10370 
Against the sword of winter keen and cold. 

This Cambuscan, of which I have you told, 
In royal vestiments, sat on his dais 
With diadem, full high in his palace ; 
And held his feast so solemn and so rich, 
That in this world ne was there none it liche. 7 
Of which if I shall tellen all th' array, 


1 Rhetori 

4 Caused. 

5 Pleasant 




Care for. 



Then would it occupy a summer's day; 
And eke it needeth not for to devise 
At every course the order of their service. 
I will not tellen of their strange sewes, 1 
Nor of their swannes, ne their heronsewes. 2 
Eke in that land, as tellen knightes old, 
There is some meat that is full dainty hold, 
That in this land men reck 3 of it full small : 
There n'is no man that may reporten all. 
I will not tarrien you, for it is prime, 
And, for it is no fruit, but loss of time, 
Unto my purpose I will have recourse. 

And so befell that after the thirde course, 10390 
While that this king sat thus in his nobley, 4 
Hearkening his ministrels their thinges pley 
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 rideth to the highe board. 
In all the hall ne was there spoke a word, 
For marvel of this knight ; him to behold 
Full busily they waiten young and old. 

This strange knight that came thus suddenly 
All armed save his head full richely, 
Saluteth 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 with his olde courtesy, 
Though he were come again out of Faerie, 
Ne could him not amenden with a word. 




1 Demean 


And after this, before the highe board 10412 

He with a manly voice said his message, 

After the form used in his language, 

Withouten vice of syllable or of letter. 

And for his tale shoulde seem the better, 

Accordant to his wordes was his chere, 1 

As teach eth art of speech them that it lere. 2 

Albeit that I cannot sound his style, 

Ne cannot climben over so high a stile, 10420 

Yet say I this, as to common intent, 

Thus much amounteth all that ever he meant, 

If it so be that I have it in mind. 

He said ; ' The king of Araby' and of Ind, 
My liege lord, on this solemne day 
Salute th you as he best can and may, 
And sendeth you in honour of your feast 
By me, that am all ready at your hest, 8 
This steed of brass, that easily and well 
Can in the space of a day naturel, 10430 

(This is to say, in four-and-twenty hours,) 
Whereso you list, in drought or elle's show'rs, 
Bearen your body into every place, 
To which your hearte willeth for to pace, 4 
Withouten wemme 5 of you, through foul or fair. 
Or if you list to fly as high in th' air, 
As doth an eagle, when him list to soar, 
This same steed shall bear you evermore 
Withouten harm, till ye be there 6 you lest, 7 
(Though that ye sleepen on his back or rest,) 10440 
And turn again, with writhing of a pin. 
He that it wrought, he coude 8 many a gin; 9 
He waited many a constellation, 
Ere he had done this operation, 
And knew full many a seal and many a bond. 

4 Go. 

8 Fault 

6 Where. 

7 Please. 

8 Knew. 

9 Contriv 



1 King 

2 Speech. 


4 Flat. 
6 The 

6 Where. 

' This mirror eke, that I have in mine hond, 10440 
Hath such a might, that men may in it see, 
When there shall fall any adversity 
Unto your regne, 1 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 Can ace, 
Your excellente daughter that is here. 

' The virtue of this ring, if ye will hear, 10460 

Is this, that if her list it for to wear 
Upon her thumb, or in her purse it bear, 
There is no fowl that fleeth under heaven, 
That she ne shall well understand his steven, 2 
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, and whom it will do boot, 3 
All be his woundes ne'er so deep and wide. 

' This naked sword, that hangeth by my side, 10470 
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 that is wounded with the stroke 
Shall ne'er be whole, till that you list of grace 
To stroken him with the plat 4 in thilk 5 place 
There 6 he is hurt; this is as much to sayn, 
Ye musten with the platte sword again 
Stroken him in the wound, and it will close. 



This is the very sooth withouten glose, 1 KHSO 

It faileth not, while it is in your hold/ 

And when this knight hath thus his tale told, 
He rideth out of hall, and down he light : 
His steede, which that shone as sunne bright, 
Stands in the court as still as any stone. 
This knight is to his chamber led anon, 
And is unarm'd, and to the meat yset. 
These presents been full richely yfet, 2 
This is to say, the sword and the mirroiir, 
And borne anon into the highe tow'r, 10490 

With certain officers ordain'd therefore; 
And unto Canace the ring is bore 
Solemnely, there 3 she sat at the table; 
But sikerly, 4 withouten any fable, 
The horse of brass, that may not be remued ; 5 
It stands, as it were to the ground yglued ; 
There may no man out of the place it drive 
For no engine, of windlass, or polive : 6 
And cause why, for they con 7 not the craft, 
And therefore in the place they have it laft, 10500 
Till that the knight hath taught them the manne*re 
To voiden 8 him, as ye shall after hear. 

Great was the press, that swarmed to and fro 
To gauren 9 on this horse that standeth so: 
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 courser were : 
For certes, from his tail unto his ear 10510 

Nature nor art ne could him not amend 
In no degree, as all the people wend. 10 

But evermore their moste wonder was, 

1 Deceit. 

1 Fetched. 

1 Where. 
* Certain- 

5 Removed. 

6 Pulley. 
1 Know. 

8 Remove. 

a Gaze. 

10 Thought 



1 Bees. 

2 Reasons. 


5 Whisper 




How that it coulde go, and was of brass; 
It was of Faerie, as the people seem'd. 
Diverse folk diversely have deem'd; 
As many heads, as many wittes been. 
They murmured, as doth a swarm of been, 1 
And maden skills 2 after their fantasies, 
Rehearsing of the olde poetries, 
And said it was ylike the Pegasee, 
The horse that hadde winges for to flee, 
Or else it was the Greeke's horse Sinon, 
That broughte Troye to destruction, 
As men may in these olde gestes 3 read. 

' Mine heart (quoth one) is evermore in drede, 4 
I trow some men of armes be therein, 
That shapen them this city for to win: 
It were right good that all such thing were know.' 
Another rowned 5 to his fellow low, 
And said, * He lieth, for it is rather like 
An apparence ymade by some magic, 
As jugglers playen at these feastes great/ 
Of sundry doubtes thus they jangle and treat, 
ignorant As lewed 6 people deemen commonly 

Of thinges, that be made more subtlely, 
Than they can in their lew'dness comprehend, 
They deemen gladly to the badder end. 

And some of them wond'red on the mirroiir, 
That borne was up in to the master tow'r, 7 
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 Home was suche one. 
They speak of Alhazen and Vitellon, 
And Aristotle, that writen in their lives 




Of quainte 1 mirrors, and of prospectives, 105*8 l Curious. 

As knowen they, that have their bookes heard. 

And other folk have wonder'd on the swerd, 
That woulde piercen throughout every thing: 
And fell in speech of Telephus the king, 
And of Achilles for his quainte spear, 
For he could with it bothe heal and dere, 2 * Wound. 

Right in such wise as men may with the swerd, 
Of which right now ye have yourselven heard. 
They speaken of sundry harding of metal, 
And speaken of medicines therewithal, 
And how, and when it should yharded be, 
Which is unknown algates 3 unto me. 10500 'However. 

Then speaken they of Canacee's ring, 
And saiden all, that such a wonder thing 
Of craft of ringe's heard they never none, 
Save that he, Moses and King Solomon, 
Hadden a name of conning 4 in such art. Knowing. 

Thus say the people, and drawen them apart. 

But natheless some saiden that it was 
Wonder to maken of fern ashes glass, 
And yet is glass nought like ashes of fern, 
But for they have yknowen it so feme, 6 10570 a Before. 

Therefore ceaseth their jangling and their wonder. 

As sore wonder some on cause of thunder, 
On ebb and flood, on gossamer, and on mist, 
And on all thing, till that the cause is wist. 6 Known. 

Thus jangle they, and deemen and devise, 
Till that the king 'gan from his board arise. 

Phoebus hath left the angle meridional, 
And yet ascending was the beast real, 7 Royal. 

The gentle Lion, with his Aldrian, 
When that this Tartar king, this Cambuscan, 
Rose from his board, thereas he sat full high : 


1 Orna 


2 Fetched. 
8 Soon. 



7 Haste. 


Before him go'th the loude minstrelsy, 10582 

Till he come to his chamber of parements, 1 
Thereas they sounden divers instruments, 
That it is like an heaven for to hear. 

Now dancen lusty Venus' children dear: 
For in the Fish their lady sat full high, 
And looketh on them with a friendly eye. 

This noble king is set upon his throne ; 
This strange knight is fet 2 to him full sone, 3 10590 
And on the dance he go'th with Canace. 

Here is the revel and the jollity, 
That is not able a dull man to devise : 
He must have knowen love and his service, 
And been a feastly man, as fresh as May, 
That shoulde you devisen such array. 

Who coulde tellen you the form of dances 
So lincouth, 4 and so freshe countenances, 
Such subtle lockings and dissimulings, 
For dread of jealous men's apperceivings ? IOGOO 

No man but Launcelot, and he is dead. 
Therefore I pass o'er all this lustyhed, 5 
I say no more, but in this jolliness 
I let them, till men to the supper them dress. 

The steward bit 6 the spices for to hie 7 
And eke the wine, in all this melody; 
The ushers and the squiery been gone, 
The spices and the wine is come anon: 
They eat and drink, and when this had an end, 
Unto the temple, as reason was, they wend : loeio 
The service done, they suppen all by day. 

What needeth you rehearsen their array? 
Each man wot well, that at a kinge's feast 
Is plenty, to the most 8 and to the least, 
And dainties more than be in my knowing. 


At after supper go'th this noble king 
To see this horse of brass, with all a rout 
Of lorde's and of ladies him about. 
Such wond'ring was there on this horse of brass, 
That since the great assiege of Troye was, 
Thereas men wonder'd on an horse also, 
Ne was there such a wond'ring as was tho. 1 
But finally the king asketh the knight 
The virtue of this courser, and the might, 
And prayed him to tell his governance. 2 

This horse anon gan for to trip and dance, 
When that the knight laid hand upon his rein, 
And saide, ' Sir, there n'is no more to sayn, 
But when you list to riden anywhere, 
Ye musten trill 3 a pin, stant 4 in his ear, 10630 

Which I shall tellen you betwixt us two, 
Ye musten name him to what place also, 
Or to what country that you list to ride. 

' And when ye come there as you list abide, 
Bid him descend, and trill another pin, 
(For therein li'th th' effect of all the gin, 5 ) 
And he will down descend and do your will, 
And in that place he will abiden still : 
Though all the world had the contrary swore, 
He shall not thence be drawe nor be bore. 10640 
Or if you list to bid him thennes go, 
Trille this pin, and he will van'sh arion 
Out of the sight of every manner wight, 6 
And come again, be it by day or night, 
When that you list to clepen 7 him again 
In such a guise, as I shall to you sayn 
Betwixen you and me, and that full soon. 
Ride when you list, there n'is no more to don.' 

Informed when the king was of the knight, 



- Mode of 
ing him. 

8 Turn. 
4 Which 

* Contriv 


8 Sort of 




1 Loved. 

2 Know 

3 Leave. 

4 Nurse. 

5 Notice. 

6 Kissed. 

7 Fumes of 

8 Full day. 

9 Except. 

10 Made 

And hath, conceived in his wit aright 10650 

The manner and the form of all this thing, 

Full glad and blithe, this noble doughty king 

Ptepaireth to his revel, as beforne. 

The bridle is in to the tow'r yborne, 

And kept among his jewels lefe 1 and dear: 

The horse vanished, I n'ot 2 in what mannere, 

Out of their sight ; ye get no more of me : 

But this I lete 3 in lust and jollity 

This Cambuscan his lordes feastying, 

Till that well nigh the day began to spring. loseo 


The nourice 4 of digestion, the sleep, 
'Gail on them wink, and bade them taken keep, 5 
That muchel drink and labour will have rest : 
And with a gaping mouth them all he kest, 6 
And said, that it was time to lie adown, 
For blood was in his dominatioiin : 
Cherisheth blood, nature's friend, quod he. 

They thanken him gaping, by two, by three; 
And every wight 'gan draw him to his rest, 
As sleep them bade, they took it for the best. 10070 

Their dreames shall not now be told for me; 
Full were their heades of fumosity, 7 
That causeth dream, of which there is no charge.'" 
They sleeperi till that it was prime large, 8 
The moste part, but 9 it were Canace ; 
She was full measurable, as women be. 
For of her father had she take her leave 
To go to rest, soon after it was eve; 
Her liste not appalled 10 for to be, 

* 'No charge :' No consequence to be apprehended. 



Nor on the morrow unfeastly 1 for to see; IOGSO 

And slept her firste sleep, and then awoke. 

For such a joy she in her hearte toke 

Both of her quainte 2 ring, and her mirror, 

That twenty time she changed her coloiir; 

And in her sleep right for the impression 

Of her mirr<5r she had a vision. 

Wherefore, ere that the sunne 'gan up glide, 

She clepeth 3 upon her mistress her beside, 

And saide, that her liste for t' arise. 

These olde women, that be gladly wise, 10690 

As is her mistress, answer'd her anon, 
And said ; * Madame, whither will ye gon 
Thus early? for the folk be all in rest/ 

* I will/ quod she, * arisen (for me lest 
No longer for to sleep) and walk about/ 

Her mistress clepeth women a great rout, 
And up they risen, well a ten or twelve ; 
Up riseth freshe Canace herselve, 
As ruddy and bright, as the younge sun, 
That in the Ram is four degrees yrun; 10700 

No higher was he, when she ready was; 
And forth she walketh easily a pace, 
Arrayed after the lusty 4 season sote 5 
Lightly for to play, and walken on foot, 
Nought but with five or six of her meinie ; 6 
And in a trench forth in the park go'th she. 

The vapour, which that from the earthe 

glode, 7 

Maketh the sun to seeme ruddy and broad : 
But natheless, it was so fair a sight, 
That it made all their heartes for to light, 8 10710 
What for the season, and the morrowning, 
And for the fowle's that she hearde sing. 

1 Unfit for 
a feast. 

2 Curious. 


4 Pleasant. 
8 Sweet 



8 Lighten. 



1 Knew. 




8 Inclina 

4 Some 

8 Quite 


7 Shrieked. 

9 Strange. 

For right anon she wiste 1 what they meant 10713 
Right by their song, and knew all their intent. 

The knotte, 2 why that every tale is told, 
If it be tarried till the lust 3 be cold 
Of them, that have it hearken'd after yore, 4 
The savour passeth ever longer the more, 
For fulsomeness of the prolixity : 
And by that same reason thinketh me 10720 

I should unto the knotte condescend, 
And maken of her walking soon an end. 

Amid a tree for-dry, 5 as white as chalk, 
As Canace was playing in her walk, 
There sat a falcon over her head full high, 
That with a piteous voice so 'gan to cry, 
That all the wood resounded of her cry, 
And beaten had herself so piteously 
With both her winges, till the rede blood 
Ran endelong the tree, there as she stood. 10730 

And ever in one 6 alway she cried and shright, 7 
And with her beak herselven she so twight, 8 
That there n'is tiger, ne no cruel beast, 
That dwelleth either in wood, or in forest, 
That n'old have wept, if that he weepen could, 
For sorrow of her, she shright alway so loud. 

For there was never yet no man on live, 
If that he could a falcon well descrive, 
That heard of such another of fairene~ss 
As well of plumage, as of gentleness, 10740 

Of shape, of all that might yreckon'd be. 
A falcon peregrine seemed she 
Of fremde 9 land, and ever as she stood, 
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 1 ring, 10747 

Through which she understood well every thing 

That any fowl may in his leden 2 sayn, 

And could answer him in his leden again, 

Hath understanden what this falcon said, 

And well-nigh for the ruth 3 almost she deyd: 4 

And to the tree she go'th full hastily, 

And on this falcon looketh piteously, 

And held her lap abroad, for well she wist 

The falcon muste fallen from the twist 6 

When that she swooned next, for faute 6 of blood. 

A longe while to waiten her she stood, 

Till at the last she spake in this manne're 

Unto the hawk, as ye shall after hear. 10760 

* What is the cause, if it be for to tell, 
That ye be in this furial 7 pain of hellT 
Quod Canace unto this hawk above ; 
* Is this for sorrow of death, or loss of love? 
For as I trow, these be the causes two, 
That causen most a gentle hearte woe. 
Of other harm it needeth not to speak, 
For ye yourself upon yourself awreke, 8 
Which proveth well, that either ire or drede 9 
Must be encheson 10 of your cruel deed, 10770 

Since that I see none other wight you chase. 
For the love of God, as do yourselven grace : 
Or what may be your help? for west nor east 
Ne saw I never 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 compassioiln. 
For Godde's love come from the tree adown; 
And as I am a kinge's daughter true, 
If that I verilv the causes knew 10780 

1 Curious. 


1 Pity. 
4 Died. 

5 Twig. 


8 Revenge. 
10 Cause. 






Of your disease, 1 if it lay in my might, IOTSI 

I would amend it, ere that it were night, 
As wisly 2 help me the great God of kind. 3 
And herbes shall I right enough yfind, 
To healen with your hurte's hastily.' 

Then shright 4 this falcon yet more piteously 
Than ever she did, and fell to ground anon, 
And li'th aswoon, as dead as li'th a stone, 
Till Canace hath in her lap her take, 
Unto that time she 'gan of swoon awake : 10790 

And after that she out of swoon abraid, 5 
Eight in her hawkes' leden 6 thus she said: 

' That pity runneth soon in gentle heart 
(Feeling his similitude in paine's smart) 
Is proved alle day, as men may see, 
As well by work as by authority/ 
For gentle hearte kitheth 8 gentleness. 
I. see well, that ye have on my distress 
Compassion, my faire Canace, 

Of very womanly benignity, losoo 

That nature in your principles hath set. 
But for none hope for to fare the bet, 9 
But for t' obey unto your hearte free, 
And for to maken other yware by me, 
As by the whelp chastised is the lion, 
Eight for that cause and that conclusion, 
While that I have a leisure and a space, 
Mine harm I will confessen ere I pace/ 10 
And ever while that one her sorrow told, 
That other wept, as she to water wold, losio 

Till that the falcon bade her to be still, 
And with a sigh right thus she said her till : 

'There I was bred, (alas that ilke 11 day!) 
And foster'd in a rock of marble gray 


So tenderly, that nothing ailed me. 10815 

I ne wist not what was adversity, 
Till I could flee full high under the sky. 
'Then dwell'd a tercelet 1 me faste by, 
That seemed well of alle gentleness, 
All were he full of treason and falseness. 10820 

It was so wrapped under humble chere, 2 
And under hue of truth in such manne're, 
Under pleasance, and under busy pain, 
That no wight could have ween'd he coulde feign, 
So deep in grain he dyed his colours. 
Right as a serpent hideth him under flowers, 
Till he may see his time for to bite; 
Right so this god of love's hypocrite 
Doth so his ceremonies and obeisance, 
And keep'th in semblant all his observance, losao 
That souneth 3 unto gentleness of love. 
As on a tomb is all the fair above, 
And under is the corpse, such as ye wot; 
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 complained, 
And many a year his service to me feign'd, 
Till that mine heart, too piteous and too nice, 4 
All innocent of his crowned malice, 108*0 

For-f eared of his death, as though te me, 
Upon his oathes and his surety, 
Granted him love, on this conditioiin, 
That evermore mine honour and renown 
Were saved, bothe privy and apert ; 6 
This is to say, that, after his desert, 
I gave him all mine heart and all my thought, 
(God wot, and he, that other wayes nought,) 



3 Is conso 
nant to. 

4 Foolish. 




1 Mien. 

* First of 

8 Since. 

5 Shoe. 

5 Little. 

And took his heart in change of mine for aye. 10349 
But sooth is said, gone since is many a day, 
A true wight and a thief thinken not one. 

' And when he saw the thing so far ygone, 
That I had granted him fully my love, 
In such a guise 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 chere, 1 
So like a gentle lover of mannere, 10860 

So ravish'd, as it seemed, for the joy, 
That never Jason, nor Paris of Troy, 
Jason 7 ? certes, ne never other man, 
Since Lamech was, that alderfirst 2 began 
To loven two, as writen folk beforn, 
Ne never sithen 3 the first man was born, 
Ne coulde man by twenty thousand part 
Counterfeit the sophimes 4 of his art; 
Ne were worthy to unbuckle his galoche, 5 
There doubleness of feigning should approach, 10870 
Ne could so thank a wight, as he did me. 
His manner was an heaven for to see 
To any woman, were she never so wise ; 
So painted he and kempt, at point devise, 
As well his wordes, as his countenance. 
And I so loved him for his obeisance, 
And for the truth I deemed in his heart, 
That if so were that any thing him smart, 
All were it never so lite, 6 and I it wist, 
Methought I felt death at my hearte twist. losso 
And shortly, so farforth this thing is went, 
That my will was his wille's instrument ; 



This is to say, my will obey'd his will 
In alle thing, as far as reason fill, 1 
Keeping the boundes of my worship ever: 
Ne never had I thing so lefe, 2 nor lever, 3 
As him, God wot, ne never shall no mo. 

'This lasteth longer than a year or two, 
That I supposed of him nought but good. 
But finally, thus at the last it stood, 
That fortune would e that he muste twin 4 
Out of that place which that I was in. 
Where me was woe, it is no question ; 
I cannot make of it description. 
For one thing dare I tellen boldely, 
I know what is the pain of death thereby, 
Such harm I felt, for he ne might byleve. 5 

* So on a day of me he took his leave, 
So sorrowful eke, that I ween'd verily, 
That he had felt as muchel 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 repairen should again 
Within a little while, sooth to sayn, 
And reason would eke that he muste go 
For his honoiir, 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, 6 

And said him thus; "Lo, I am youres all, 
Be such as I have been to you and shall." 

' What he answer'd, it needeth not rehearse ; 
Who can say bet 7 than he, who can do worse"? 
When he hath all well said, then hath he done. 



3 Dearer. 



8 Witness. 




1 Their 



* Again. 
4 Lap. 

5 Knew 

6 Make 

Therefore behoveth him a full long spoon, 10916 
That shall eat with a fiend; thus heard I say. 

' So at the last he muste forth his way, 
And forth he fli'th, till he come there 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; thus say men as I guess: 
Men loven of proper kind 1 newfarigleness, 
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, 
He with his feet will spurnen down his cup, 10930 
And to the wood he will, and wormes eat; 
So newefangle be they of their meat, 
And loven novelties of proper kind ; 
No gentleness of blood ne may them bind. 

* So fared 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, 
And suddenly he loved this kite so, 
That all his love is clean from me ago : 10940 

And hath his truthe falsed in this wise. 
Thus hath the kite my love in her service, 
And I am lorn 2 withouten remedy/ 

And with that word this falcon 'gan to cry, 
And swooneth eft 3 in Canacee's barm. 4 
Great was the sorrow for that hawke's harm, 
That Canace and all her women made ; 
They n'isten 5 how they might the falcon glade. 6 
But Canace home bear'th her in her lap, 



And softely in plasters 'gan her wrap, 10950 

There as she with her beak had hurt herselve. 

Now cannot Canace but herbes delve 
Out of the ground, and maken salves new 
Of herbes precious and fine of hue, 
To healen with this hawk; from day to 


She doth her business, and all her might. 
And by her bedde's head she made a mew, 
And cover'd it with velouettes blue, 
In sign of truth, that is in woman seen ; 
And all without the mew is painted green, IOOGO 
In which were painted all these false 


As be these tidifes, tercelets, and owls; 
And pies, on them for to cry and chide, 
Right for despite were painted them beside. 

Thus lete 1 I Canace her hawk keeping. 
I will no more as now speak of her ring, 
Till it come eft 2 to purpose for to sayn, 
How that this falcon got her love again 
Repentant, as the story telleth us, 
By mediation of Camballus, 10970 

The kinge's son, of which that I you told. 
But hennesforth I will my process hold 
To speak of ^ventures, and of battailes, 
That yet was never heard so great marvailles. 

First I will tellen you of Cambuscan, 
That in his time many a city wan : 
And after will I speak of Algarsif, 
How that he won Theodora to his wife, 
For whom full oft in great peril he was, 
Ne had he been holpen by the horse of 

brass. 10980 

1 Leave. 




1 Where. 

And after will I speak of Camballo, 
That fought in listes with the brethren two 
For Canace, ere that he might her win, 
And there 1 I left I will again begin. 






' IN faith, SquieY, thou hast thee well acquit 
And gentlely, I praise well thy wit/ 
Quod the Franklin ; * considering thine youth, 
So feelingly thou speakest, Sir, I aloue 1 thee 
As to my doom, 2 there is none that is here, 
Of eloquence that shall be thy peer, 
If that thou live ; God give thee goode chance, 
And in virtue send thee continuance, 
For of thy speaking I have great dainty. 
I have a son, and by the Trinity 
It were me lever 3 than twenty pound worth land, 
Though it right now were fallen in my hand, 
He were a man of such discretion, 
As that ye be : fie on possessidn, 
But 4 if a man be virtuous withal. 
I have my sone snibbed, 6 and yet shall, 
For he to virtue listeth not t' intend, 6 
But for to play at dice, and to dispend, 
And lose all that he hath, is his usage ; 
And he had lever talken with a page, 
Than to commune with any gentle wight, 
There he might learen gentilless aright/ 
* Straw for your gentillesse/ quod our Host. 




1 Praise. 

8 Judg 

a Rather. 

4 Unless. 

5 Rebuked. 

6 Apply. 



1 Knowest. 

2 Plain. 


4 Strange. 

'What? Frankelin, pardie, Sir, well thou wost, 1 noos 

That each of you must tellen at the lest 

A tale or two, or breaken his behest/ 

' That know I well, Sir/ quod the Frankelin, 

' I pray you haveth me not in disdain, 

Though I to this man speak a word or two/ 
' Tell on thy tale, withouten wordes mo/ 
'Gladly, Sir Host/ quod he, 'I will obey 

Unto* your will; now heark'neth what I say; 

I will you not contrarien in no wise, 

As far as that my witte's may suffice. 

I pray to God that it may pleasen you, 

Then wot I well that it is good enow. 11020 

* These olde gentle Bretons in their days 
Of diverse aventures maden lays, 
Rhymed in their firste Breton tongue; 
Which layes with their instruments they sung, 
Or elles readen 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 2 man, 
At my beginning first I you beseech 
Have me excused of my rude speech. 11030 

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. 
Colours ne know I none, withouten drede, 3 
But such colours as growen in the mead, 
Or elles such as men dye with or paint; 
Colours of rhetoric be to me quaint; 4 
My spirit feeleth not of such mattere. 
But if you list my tale shall ye hear. 11040 



IN Armoric', that called is Bretagne, 11041 

There was a knight, that lov'd and did his pain 

To serve a lady in his beste wise ; 

And many a labour, many a great emprise 

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 1 durst this knight for dread 

Tell her his woe, his pain, and his distress. 

But at the last, she for his worthiness, 11050 

And namely for his meek obeisance, 

Hath such a pity caught of his pen&nce, 

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 

Ne shoulde take upon him no mast'ry 

Against her will, nor kithe 2 her jealousy, noeo 

But her obey, and follow her will in all, 

As any lover to his lady shall : 

Save that the name of sovereignly 

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 : 

Sir, I will be your humble true wife, 11070 

1 Scarcely. 





By na 



Is cap 
able of. 



Have here my truth, till that mine hearte brest/ 1 
Thus be they both in quiet and in rest. 11072 

For one thing, Sires, safely dare I say, 
That friendes ever each other must obey, 
If they will longe holden company. 
Love will not be constrained by mast'ry. 
When mast'ry cometh, the god of Love anon 
Beateth his wings, and, farewell, he is gone. 
Love is a thing, as any spirit, free. 
Women of kind 2 desiren liberty, noso 

And not to be constrained as a thrall; 3 
And so do men, if soothly I say shall. 
Look who that is most patient in love, 
He is at his advantage* all above. 
Patience is an high virtue certain, 
For it vanquisheth, as these clerkes sayn, 
Thinges that rigour never should attain. 
For every word men may not chide or plain. 
Learneth to suffer, or, so may I go, 4 
Ye shall it learn whether ye will or no. 11090 

For in this world certain no wight there is, 
That he ne doth or saith sometime amiss. 
Ire, sickness, or constellation, 
Wine, woe, or changing of complexion, 
Causeth full oft to do amiss or speaken : 
On every wrong a man may not be wreaken. 5 
After the time must be temperance 
To every wight that can 6 of governance. 
And therefore hath this worthy wise knight 
(To liven in ease) suff'rance her benight; 7 moo 

And she to him full wisly 8 'gan to swear, 
That never should there be default in her. 

Here may men see an humble wife accord : 

* ' He is at his advantage : ' Is in possession of every advantage. 



Thus hath she take her servant and her lord, 11104 

Servant in love, and lord in marriage. 

Then was he both in lordship and servage 1 ? 

Servage? nay, but in lordship all above, 

Since he hath both his lady and his love : 

His lady certes, and his wife also, 

The which that law of love accordeth to. 11110 

And when he was in this prosperity, 

Home with his wife he go'th to his country, 

Not far from Penmark, there his dwelling was, 

Where as he liveth in bliss and in solas. 1 

Who coulde tell, but 2 he had wedded be, 
The joy, the ease, and the prosperity, 
That is betwixt an husband and his wife I 
A year and more lasteth this blissful life, 
Till that this knight, of which I spake of thus, 
That of Cairrud was cleped Arviragus, 11120 

Shope 3 him to go and dwell a year or twain 
In Engleland, that clep'd was eke Britain, 
To seek in armes worship and hondur, 
(For all his lust 4 he set in such labour:) 
And dwelte there two year; the book saith thus. 

Now will I stint 5 of this Arviragus, 
And speak I will of Dorigen his wife, 
That loveth her husband as her hearte's life. 
For his absence weepeth she and siketh, 6 
As do these noble wives when them liketh; inso 
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, 
Comforten her in all that ever they may; 
They preachen her, they tell her night and day, 
That causeless she slay'th herself, alas! 


1 Enjoy* 



J Prepared. 

4 Delight 




1 Assidui 



4 Black. 

And every comfort possible in this case 
They do to her, with all their business, 1 
All for to make her leave her heaviness. 

By process, as ye knowen evereach one, 
Men may so longe graven in a stone, 
Till some figure therein imprinted be : 
So long have they comforted her, till she 
Eeceived hath, by hope and by reason, 
The imprinting of their consolation, 
Through which her greate sorrow 'gan assuage ; 
She may not alway duren in such rage. 
And eke Arviragus, in all this care, 
Hath sent his letters home of his welfare, mso 

And that he will come hastily again, 
Or else had this sorrow her hearte slain. 

Her friendes saw her sorrow 'gan to slake, 
And prayden her on knees for Godde's sake 
To come and roamen in their company, 
Away to driven her dark 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, 11160 

Her to disporten on the bank on high, 
Where as she many a ship and barge sie, 2 
Sailing their course, where as them list to go. 
But then was that a parcel of her woe, 
For to herself full oft, ' Alas!' said she, 
' Is there no ship, of so many as I see, 
Will bringen home my lord? then were my heart 
All warish'd 3 of his bitter paine's smart/ 

Another time would she sit and think, 
And cast her eyen downward from the brink; 11170 
But when she saw the grisly rockes blake, 4 



For very fear so would her hearte quake, 11172 

That on her feet she might her not sustene. 

Then would she sit adown upon the green, 

And piteously into the sea behold, 

And say right thus, with careful sike's 1 cold: 

'Eterne God! that through thy purveyance 
Leadest this world by certain governance, 
In idle, 2 as men say, ye nothing make ; 
But, Lord, these grisly fiendly rockes blake, inso 
That seemen 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, nor west, nor 


There n'is 3 y foster'd man, nor bird, nor beast: 
It doth no good, to my wit, but annoyeth. 
See ye not, Lord, how mankind it destroyeth? 
An hundred thousand bodies of mankind 
Have rockes slain, all be they not in mind; moo 
Which mankind is so fair part of thy work, 
Thou madest it like to thine owen mark. 4 
Then, seemeth it, ye had a great cherte'e 5 
Toward mankind ; but how then may it be, 
That ye such meanes make it to destroyen? 
Which meanes do no good, but ever annoyen. 

* I wot well, clerkes will say as them lest 6 
By arguments, that all is for the best, 
Though I ne can the causes nought yknow ; 
But thilke 7 God that made the wind to blow, 11200 
As keep my lord, this is my conclusion: 
To clerkes let 8 I all disputation: 
But woulde God, that all these rockes blake 
Were sunken into helle for his sake. 


3 In vain. 

la not 

4 Image. 

5 Love. 







These rockes slay mine hearte for the fear/ 11205 
Thus would she say with many a piteous tear. 

Her friendes saw that it was no disport 
To roamen by the sea, but discomfort, 
And shape them for to playen somewhere else. 
They ledden her by rivers and by wells, 11210 

And eke in other places delitables ; 
They dancen, and they play at chess and tables. 

So on a day, right in the morrow-tide, 
Unto a garden that was there beside, 
In which that they had made their ordinance 
Of victual, and of other purveyance, 
They go and play them all the longe day : 
And this was on the sixte morrow of May, 
Which May had painted with his softe showers 
This garden full of leaves and of flowers : 11220 

And craft of manners hand so curiously 
Arrayed had this garden truely, 
That never was there garden of such price, 
But if it were the very Paradise. 
Th' odour of flow'res, and the freshe sight, 
Would have ymaked any hearte light 
That ever was born, but if 1 too great sickness 
Or too great sorrow held it in distress, 
So full it was of beauty and pleasance. 

And after dinner gonnen 2 they to dance 11230 
And sing also, save Dorigen alone, 
Which made alway her complaint and her moan, 
For she ne saw 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, amonges other men, 
Danced a squier before Dorigen, 



That fresher was and jollier of array, 11239 

As to my doom, 1 than is the month of May. 

He singe th, danceth, 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 2 men on live, 

Young, strong, and virtuous, and rich, and wise, 

And well belov'd, and holden in great prise. 3 

And shortly, if the sooth I tellen shall, 

Unweeting 4 of this Dorigen at all, 

This lusty squier, servant to Venus, 

Which that ycleped was Aurelius, 11250 

Had lovM her best of any creature 

Two year and more, as was his ^venture: 5 

But never durst he tell her his grievance, 

Withouten cup he drank all his penance. 

He was despaired, nothing durst he say, 

Save in his songes somewhat would he 'wray 6 

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; 11260 

How that he durste not his sorrow tell, 

But languisheth, 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, 
Ne durst he not to her his woe bewray, 
Save that paraventure sometime at dances, 
There 7 younge folk keepen their observances, 
It may well be he looked on her face 
In such a wise, as man that asketh grace, 11270 

But nothing wiste she of his intent. 
Nathless it happened, ere they thennes went, 

1 Judg- 




8 Fortune. 


1 Where. 



1 Time 




5 Cause. 

6 Die. 

7 Before. 

8 That 

9 From end 
to end. 

10 Prevent. 

Because that he was her neigh e'bour, 11273 

And was a man of worship and honour, 

And had yknowen him of time yore, 1 

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/ quod he, ' by God that this world made, 

So that I wist it might your hearte glade, 2 11280 

I would that day, that your Arviragus 

Went over sea, that I, Aurelius, 

Had went there 3 I should never come again; 

For well I wot my service is in vain. 

My guerdon n'is but bursting of mine heart. 

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. 4 

I ne have as now no leisure more to say : 

Have mercy, sweet, or you will do 5 me dey/ 6 11290 

She 'gan to look upon Aurelius ; 
' Is this your will (quod she) and say ye thus 1 
Never erst 7 (quod she) ne wist I what ye meant: 
But now, Aurelie, I know your intent. 
By thilke 8 God that gave me soul and life, 
Ne shall I never 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. moo 

' Aurelie, (quod she,) by high God above 
Yet will I granten you to be your love, 
(Since I you see so piteously complain,) 
Looke, what day that endelong 9 Bretagne 
Ye remove all the rockes, stone by stone, 
That they ne letten 10 ship nor boat to gon, 



I say, when ye have made the coast so clean 11307 

Of rockes, that there n'is no stone yseen, 

Then will I love you best of any man, 

Have here my truth, in all that ever I can ; 

For well I wot that it shall never betide. 

Let such folly out of your hearte glide. 

What deintee 1 should a man have in his life 

For to go love another manne's wife, 

That hath her body when that ever him liketh?' 

Aurelius full often sore siketh; 2 
* Is there none other grace in you?' quod he. 

' No, by that Lord/ quod she, ' that maked me.' 
Woe was Aurelie when that he this heard, 
And with a sorrowful heart he thus answ^r'd. 11320 

' Madam/ quod he, ' this were an impossible. 
Then must I die of sudden death horrible. 5 
And with that word he turned him anon. 

Then come her other friendes many one, 
And in the alleys roamed up and down, 
And nothing wist of this conclusion, 
But suddenly begunnen revel new, 
Till that the brighte sun had lost his hue, 
For th' <5rizon had reft the sun his light; 
(This is as much to say as it was night;) 11330 

And home they go in mirth and in solas ; 3 
Save only wretch Aurelius, alas! 
He to his house is gone with sorrowful heart. 
He saith, he may not from his death astart. 4 
Him seemeth, that he felt his hearte cold. 
Up to the heaven his handes J gan he hold, 
And on his knees bare he set him down, 
And in his raving said his orisoiin. 5 
For very woe out of his wit he braid, 6 
He n'iste 7 what he spake, but thus he said; 11340 

1 Value. 





6 Wander 

7 Knew 



1 Dwelling. 

2 Lost, 

* Unless. 

* Please. 

8 Describe. 

6 Helped, 

7 Bright. 

8 Quicken 

9 Cause. 

10 Burst. 

With piteous heart his plaint hath he begun 11341 

Unto the gods, and first unto the Sun. 

He said ; ' Apollo ! God and governour 

Of every plante, herbe, tree, and flow'r, 

That givest after thy declination 

To each of them his time and his season, 

As that thine harbour 1 changeth low and high; 

Lord Phoebus ! cast thy merciable eye 

On wretch Aurelie, which that am but lorn. 2 

Lo, lord, my lady hath my death ysworn mso 

Withouten guilt, but 8 thy benignity 

Upon my deadly heart have some pit;f. 

For well I wot, Lord Phoebus, if you lest, 4 

Ye may me helpen, save my lady, best. 

Now voucheth safe, that I may you devise 5 

How that I may be holp 6 and in what wise. 

' Your blissful sister, Lucina the sheen, 7 
That of the sea is chief goddess and queen, 
Though Neptunus have deity in the sea, 
Yet emperess aboven him is she: iiseo 

Ye know well, lord, that right as her desire 
Is to be quick'd 8 and lighted of your fire, 
For which she follVeth 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 9 mine hearte brest; 10 
That now next at this opposition, 
Which in the sign shall be of the Lion, 11370 

As prayeth her so great a flood to bring, 
That five fathom at least it overspring 
The highest rock in Armoric' Bretaigne, 
And let this flood enduren yeares twain : 



Then certes to my lady may I say, 11375 

Holdeth your best, 1 the rockes be away. 

Lord Phoebus, this miracle do for me, 

Pray her she go no faster course than ye ; 

I say this, prayeth your sister that she go 

No faster course than ye these yeares two : iisso 

Then shall she be even at full alway, 

And spring-flood lasten bothe night and day. 

And but she vouchesafe in such manne're 

To granten me my sovereign lady dear, 

Pray her to sinken every rock adown 

Into her owen darke regioiin 

Under the ground, there 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, 11390 
And on my pain have some compassioiin/ 
And with that word, in sorrow he fell adown, 
And longe time he lay forth in a trance. 
His brother, which that knew of his pen&nce, 
Up caught him, and to bed he hath him brought. 
Despaired in this torment and this thought 
Let I this wof ul creature lie ; 
Choose he for me whether he will live or die. 

Arviragus with health and great honour 
(As he that was of chivalry the flow'r) 11400 

Is comen 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, 2 
If any wight had spoke, while he was out, 
To her of love ; he had of that no doubt ; 

1 Promise. 

He cared 
not to 



1 Inclin- 



4 Hole. 

5 Corner. 



He not intendeth 1 to no such mature, 11409 

But danceth, jousteth, and maketh 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 Aurelius, 
Ere any foot on earth he mighte gon; 
Nor comfort in this time ne had he none, 
Save of his brother, which that was a clerk. 
He knew of all this woe and all this werk ; 
For to none other creature certain 
Of this matter he durste no word sayn; 11420 

Under his breast he bare it more secree, 
Than e'er did Pamphilus for Galatee. 
His breast was whole withouteri for to seen, 
But in his heart aye was the arrow keen, 
And well ye know that of a sursanure"* 
In surgery is perilous the cure, 
But 2 men might touch the arrow or come thereby. 

His brother weepeth and waileth privily, 
Till at the last him fell in remembrance, 
That while he was at Orleans in France, 11430 

As younge clerkes, that be likerous 8 
To readen arte's that be curious, 
Seeken in every halk 4 and every hern 5 
Particular sciences for to learn, 
He him remember'd, that upon a day 
At Orleans in study a book he say 6 
Of magic natural, which his fellaw, 
That was that time a bachelor of law, 
All 7 were he there to learn another craft, 
Had privily upon his desk ylaft; 11440 

Which book spake much of operations 

* ' A sursanure :' Wound healed on the surface. 


Touching the eight-and-twenty mansions 11442 

That 'longen to the Moon, and such foll^ 

As in our dayes n'is not worth a fly : 

For holy church's faith, in our believe, 

Ne suff'reth no illusion us to grieve. 

And when this book was in his remembrance, 

Anon for joy his hearte 'gan to dance, 

And to himself he sayed privily ; 

'My brother shall be warish'd 1 hastily: 

For I am siker 2 that there be sciences, 

By which men maken divers appearances, 

Such as these subtle tragetoures 8 play. 

For oft at feastes have I well heard say, 

That tragetours, within an halle large, 

Have made come in a water and a barge, 

And in the halle rowen up and down. 

Sometime hath seemed come a grim lioiln, 

And sometime flow'res spring as in a mead, 

Sometime a vine, and grapes white and rede, 

Sometime a castle all of lime and stone, 

And when them liketh, voideth it anon: 

Thus seemeth 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 


For with an appearance a clerk may make 
To manne's sight, that all the rockes blake 11470 
Of Bretagne were yvoided every one, 
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. 

1 Cured. 

1 Players. 



1 Promise. 

2 Least. 

3 Gone. 
* Believed. 

5 Shortly. 

6 Greeted. 


Then must she needes holden her behest, 1 11475 

Or elles he shall shame her at the lest/ 2 

What 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 up start anon, 11480 

And on his way forthward then is he fare, 3 
In hope for to be lissed 4 of his care. 

When they were come almost to that city, 
But if it were a two furlong or three, 
A young clerk roaming by himself they met, 
Which that in Latin thriftily 5 them gret. 6 
And after that he said a wonder thing; 
* I know/ quod he, ' the cause of your coming : ' 
And ere they farther any foote went, 
He told them all that was in their intent. 11490 

This Breton clerk him asked of fellaws, 
The which he had yknown in olde dawes, 7 
And he answeYd 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 gone 
Home to his house, and made them well at 


Them lacked no vitaille that might them please. 
So well-arrayed house as there was one, 
Aurelius in his life saw never none. 11500 

He shewed him, ere they went to suppere, 
Forestes, parkes, full of wilde deer. 
There saw he harte's with their homes high, 
The greatest that were ever seen with eye. 
He saw of them an hundred slain with hounds, 
And some with arrows bled of bitter wounds. 
He saw, when voided were the wilde deer, 



These falconers upon a fair rivere, nsos 

That with their hawkes have the heron slain. 

Then saw he knightes jousten in a plain. 
And after this he did him such pleasance, 
That he him shew'd his lady on a dance, 
On which himselven 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 ago. 
And yet removed they never out of the house, 
While they saw all these sightes marvellous; 
But in his study, there 1 his bookes be, 
They saten still, and no wight but they three. 11520 

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 wenten with me 
Into my study, there my bookes be/ 

' Sir/ quod this squier, * when it liketh you, 
It is all ready, though ye will right now/ 

' Go we then sup/ quod he, ' as for the best ; 
These amorous folk sometime must have rest/ 11530 

At after supper fell they in treaty 
What summe should this master's guerdon be, 
To remove all the rockes of Bretagne, 
And eke from Geronde to the mouth of Seine. 

He made it strange, 2 and swore, so God him save> 
Less than a thousand pound he would not have, 
Ne gladly for that sum he would not gon. 3 

Aurelius with blissful heart anon 
Answered thus; 'Fie on a thousand pound! 
This wide world, which that men say is round, 11540 
I would it give, if I were lord of it. 


1 A diffi 




1 Pledged. 

3 For a 

4 Relief. 

' Where. 

8 A kind of 


This bargain is full-drive, for we be knit; 1 11542 

Ye shall be payed truly by my truth. 

But looketh, for no negligence or slouth, 2 

Ye tarry us here no longer than to-morrow/ 

'Nay/ quod this clerk, 'have here my faith to borrow/ 3 

To bed is gone Aurelius when him lest, 
And well-nigh all that night he had his rest, 
What for his labour, and his hope of bliss, 
His woful heart of penance had a liss. 4 11550 

Upon the morrow when that it was day, 
To Bretagne tooken they the righte way, 
AureF, and this magician him beside, 
And be descended there 5 they would abide: 
And this was, as the bookes me remember, 
The colde frosty season of December. 

Phoebus wax'd old, and hued like laton, 6 
That in his hote declination 
Shone as the burned gold, with streames bright; 
But now in Capricorn adown he light, useo 

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. 
Janus sits by the fire with double beard, 
And drink eth of his bugle horn the wine : 
Before him stands brawn of the tusked swine, 
And nowel* crieth every lusty man. 

Aurelius in all that ever he can, 
Doth to his master cheer and reverence, 
And prayeth him to do his diligence 
To bringen him out of his paine's smart, 
Or with a sword that he would slit his heart. 

This subtle clerk such ruth 7 hath on this man, 
That night and day he speed'th him, that he can, 

* 'Nvwel:' A festive cry. See note. 



To wait a time of his conclusion ; 11575 

This is to say, to make illusion, 

By such an appearance or jugglery, 

(I can 1 no terme's of astrology,) 

That she and every wight should ween and say, 

That of Bretagne the rockes were away, 11530 

Or elles they were sunken under ground. 

So at the last he hath his time yfound 

To make his japes 2 and his wretchedness 

Of such a superstitious cursedness. 

His tables Toletanes 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 11590 

For his equations in every thing. 

And by his eighte spheres in his working, 

He knew full well how far Alnath was shove 

From the head of thilk fix 3 Aries above, 

That in the ninthe sphere consider'd is. 

Full subtlely he calculed 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 ; neoo 

And knew full well the moone's mansion 

Accordant to his operation; 

And knew also his other observances, 

For such illusions and such meschances, 4 

As heathen folk used in thilke days. 

For which no longer maketh he delays, 

But through his magic, for a day or tway, 

It seemed all the rockes were away. 

1 Know. 

1 Tricks. 






1 Fearful. 

2 Deport 

8 Were not. 
4 Uneasi- 

8 Pro 

Aurelius, which that despaired is, 
Whether he shall have his love, or fare amiss, 
Awaiteth night and day on this miracle : 
And when he knew that there was no obstacle, 
That voided were these rockes every one, 
Down to his master's feet he fell anon, 
And said; 'I, woful wretch 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, 
There as he knew he should his lady see. 
And when he saw his time, anon right he 11020 

With dreadful 1 heart and with full humble chere 2 
Saluted hath his sovereign lady dear. 

* My rightful Lady/ quod this woful man, 
c Whom I most dread, and love, as I best can, 
And lothest were of all this world displease, 
N'ere 3 it that I for you have such disease, 4 
That I must die here at your foot anon, 
Nought would I tell how me is woe-begone. 
But certes either must I die or 'plain ; 
Ye slay me guilteless for very pain. 
But of my death though that ye have no ruth, 
Aviseth you, ere that ye break your truth : 
Eepenteth you for thilke God above, 
Ere ye me slay, because that I you love. 
For, Madam, well ye wot what ye have bight; 5 
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 behighten me, 
And in mine hand your truthe plighten ye, 
To love me best; God wot ye sayed so, 
Although that I unworthy be thereto; 



Madam, I speak it for the honour of you, 

More than to save my hearte's life right now : 

I have done so as" ye commanded me, 

And if ye vouch esafe, 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 li'th all to do 1 me live or dey, Cause. 

But well I wot the rockes be away/ neso 

He tak'th his leave, and she astonied stood ; 
In all her face n'as 2 one drop of blood: Was not. 

She weened never have come in such a trap. 

'Alas!' quod she, 'that ever this should hap! 
For ween'd I never by possibility, 
That such a monster or mar vail might be ; 
It is against the process of natiire.' 
And home she go'th a sorrowful creatilre, 
For very fear unnethes 3 may she go. 'Scarcely. 

She weepeth, waileth, all a day or two, neeo 

And sw r ooneth, 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 sayed thus, 
With face pale, and with full sorry cheer, 
In her complaint, as ye shall after hear. 

'Alas!' quod she, 'on thee, Fortune, I 'plain, 
That unware hast me wrapped in thy chain : 
From which to 'scapen, wot I no succoiir, 
Save only death, or elles dishonour: iwo 

One of these two behoveth me to choose. 
But natheless, yet had I lever 4 lose 4 Bather. 

My life, than of my body have a shame, 
Or know myselven false, or lose my name ; 
And with my death I may be quit ywis. 5 
Hath there not many a noble wife ere this, 


8 Certain- 



1 Drowned. 




And many a maid yslain herself, alas! 11077 

Rather than with her body do trespass ? 
Yes, certes; lo, these stories bear witness. 

' When thirty tyrants full of cursedness 
Had slain Phidon in Athens at the feast, 
They commanded his daughters for t' arrest, 
And bringen 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 woful maidens full of dread, 
Rather than they would lose their maidenhead, 
They privily been start into a well, 
And dreint 1 themselven, as the bookes tell. HGOO 

' They of Messene let inquire and seek 
Of Lacedomie fifty maidens eke, 
On which they woulden do their lechery : 
But there was none of all that company 
That she n'as slain, and with a glad intent 
Chose rather for to dien, than assent 
To be oppressed of their maidenhead. 
Why should I then to dien be in dread? 

* Lo, eke the tyrant Aristoclides, 
That lov'd a maid hight Stimphalides, 11700 

When that her father slain was on a night, 
Unto Diana's temple go'th she right, 
And hent 2 the image in her handes two, 
From which image would she never go, 
No wight her handes might off it arrace, 3 
Till she was slain right in the selve place. 

' Now since that maidens hadden such despite 
To be defouled with man's foul delight, 
Well ought a wife rather herselven sle, 4 
Than be defouled, as it thinketh me. 11710 


'What shall I say of Hasdrubale's wife, 11711 
That at Carthage bereft herself her life? 
For when she saw that Romans won the town, 
She took her children all, and skipt adown 
Into the fire, and chose rather to die, 
Than any Roman did her villainy. 

* Hath not Lucrece yslain herself, alas ! 
At Rome, when that she oppressed was 

Of Tarquin? for her thought it was a shame 

To liven, when she hadde lost her name. 11720 

* 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 
Herselven 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 defoulen, if I may." 11730 

* What should I more examples hereof sayn ? 
Since that so many have themselven slain 
Well rather than they would defouled be, 

I will conclude that it is bet 1 for me 
To slay myself than be defouled thus. 
I will be true unto Arviragus, 
Or elles slay myself in some manne'rc, 
As did Demotione's daughter dear, 
Because she woulde not defouled be. 

* O Sedasus, it is full great pity 11740 
To readen how thy daughters died, alas! 

That slew themselven for such manner cas. 2 

' As great a pity was it, or well more, 
The Theban maiden, that for Nicanore 

1 Better. 





2 For 

3 Die. 

4 Deport 

Herselven slew, right for such manner woe. 11745 

Another Theban maiden did right so, 

For one of Macedon had her oppress'd, 

She with her death her maidenhead redress'd. 

* What shall I say of Nicerates' wife, 

That for such case bereft herself her life 1 mso 

' How true was eke to Alcibiades 
His love, that for to dien rather chees, 1 
Than for to suffer his body unburied be? 

'Lo, which 2 a wife was Alcest' ekeT quod she. 
' What saith Homer of good Penelope ? 
All Greece knoweth of her chastity. 

* Pardie, of Laodomia is written thus, 
That when at Troy was slain Protesilaus, 
No longer would she live after his day. 

'The same of noble Portia tell I may; 11700 

Withouten Brutus coulde she not live, 
To whom she had all whole her hearte give. 

' The perfect wifehood of Artemisie 
Honoured is throughout all Barbarie. 

' Teuta queen, thy wifely chastity 
To alle wives may a mirror be/ 

Thus plained Dorigen a day or tway, 
Purposing ever that she woulde dey; 3 
But natheless upon the thirde night 
Home came Arviragus, the worthy knight, 11770 
And asked her why that she wept so sore ? 
And she 'gan weepen ever longer the more. 

* Alas,' quod she, ' that ever I was yborn ! 
Thus have I said/ quod she, 'thus have I 


And told him all, as ye have heard before : 
It needeth not rehearse it you no more. 

This husband with glad chere, 4 in friendly wise, 



AnsweYd and said, as I shall you devise. ims 

'Is there ought elles, Dorigen, but this?' 

' Nay, nay/ quod she, ' God help me so, as wis 1 
This is too much, and 2 it were Godde's will/ 

' Yea, wife/ quod he, ' let sleepen that is still, 
It may be well par'venture yet to-day. 
Ye shall your truthe holden, by my fay. 
For God so wisly 3 have mercy' on me, 
I had well lever 4 sticked for to be, 
For very love which that I to you have, 
But if ye should your truthe keep and save. 
Truth is the highest thing that man may keep/ 
But with that word he burst anon to weep, 11790 
And said; ' I you forbid on pain of death, 
That never while you lasteth life or breath, 
To no wight tell ye this misa venture ; 
As I may best I will my woe endure; 
Nor make no countenance of heaviness, 
That folk of you may deemen harm or guess/ 
And forth he clep'd a squier and a maid. 
' Go forth anon with Dorigen/ he said, 
' And bringeth her to such a place anon/ 
They take their leave, and on their way they gon : 
But they ne wisten why she thither went, nsoi 

She n'olde 5 no wight tellen her intent. 

This squier, which that hight Aurelius, 
On Dorigen that was so amorous, 
Of aventure happened her to meet 
Amid the town, right in the quickest 6 street, 
As she was bound to go the way forthright 
Toward the garden, there as she had hight. 7 
And he was to the garden ward also; 
For well he spied when she woulde go usio 

Out of her house, to any manner place : 


s Certain- 



3 Would 





1 Rather. 


8 Divide. 

4 Security. 

5 Reproach. 

But thus they met of aventure or grace, 11812 

And he saluteth her with glad intent, 
And asketh of her whitherward she went. 

And she answered, half as she were mad, 
* Unto the garden, as mine husband bade, 
My truthe for to hold, alas! alas!' 

Aurelius 'gan wonder on this case, 
And in his heart had great compassion 
Of her, and of her lamentation, H82o 

And of Arviragus, the worthy knight, 
That bade her holden all that she had hight, 
So loth him was his wife should break her truth. 
And in his heart he caught of it great ruth, 
Considering the best on every side, 
That from his lust yet were him lever 1 abide, 
Than do so high a churlish wretchedness 
Against franchise, 2 and alle gentleness ; 
For which in fewe wordes said he thus : 

* Madam, say to your lord Arviragus, iisso 

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) 
Than ye to me should breaken thus your truth, 
I had well lever ever to suffer woe, 
Than to depart 3 the love betwixt you two. 
I you release, Madam, into your hond 
Quit every surement* and every bond, 
That ye have made to me, as herebeforn, 
Since thilke time that ye were yborn. 11340 

Have here my truth, I shall you never repreve 5 
Of no behest, and here I take my leave, 
As of the truest and the beste wife, 
That ever yet I knew in all my life.' 
But every wife beware of her behest; 



On Dorigen rememb'reth at the lest. 1 H846 

Thus can a squier do a gentle deed, 

As well as can a knight, withouten drede. 2 

She thanketh him upon her knees bare, 
And home unto her husband is she fare, 3 
And told him all, as ye have heard me said : 
And, trusteth me, he was so well apaid, 4 
That it were impossible me to write. 

What should I longer of this case indite ? 
Arviragus and Dorigen his wife 
In sovereign blisse ledden forth their life, 
Never eft 5 lie 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. nseo 

Aurelius, that his cost hath all forlorn, 6 
Curseth the time that ever he was born. 
'Alas!' quod he, 'alas that I behight 7 
Of pured gold a thousand pound of weight 
Unto this philosopher! how shall I do? 
I see no more, but that I am fordo. 8 
Mine heritage must I needes sell, 
And be a beggar; here I n'ill 9 not dwell, . 
And shamen all my kindred in this place, 
But 10 I of him may getten better grace. 11370 

But natheless I will of him assay 
At certain dayes year by year to pay, 
And thank him of his greate courtesy. 
My truthe will I keep, I will not lie/ 

With hearte sore he go'th unto his coffer, 
And broughte gold unto this philosopher, 
The value of five hundred pound I guess, 
And him beseecheth of his gentleness 
To grant him dayes of the remenant, 

1 Least 




Will not 
10 Unless. 



1 Assured- 





And said; * Master, I dare well make avaunt, nsso 

I failed never of my truth as yet. 

For sikerly 1 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 vouchen safe upon surety 

Two year or three for to respiten me, 

Then were I well, for elles must I sell 

Mine heritage, there is no more to tell/ 

This philosopher soberly answer'd, 
And sayed thus, when he these wordes heard; nsoo 
' Have I not holden covenant to thee \ ' 

* Yes, certes, well and truely,' quod he. 
' Hast thou not had thy lady as thee likethT 

'No, no/ quod he, and sorrowfully he siketh. 2 
'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 rehearse it any more. 
He said, ' Arviragus of gentleness 
Had lever 3 die in sorrow and in distress, 11900 

Than that his wife were of her truthe false. 
The sorrow of Dorigen he told him als, 
How loth her was to be a wicked wife, 
And that she lever had lost that day her life ; 
And that her truth she swore through innocence; 
She ne'er erst 4 had heard speak of apparence: 
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 n'is no more to sayn/ 

The philosopher answer'd; 'Leve 5 brother, 11911 
Evereach of you did gentlely to other : 
Thou art a squier, and he is a knight, 



1 Doubt 


But God forbide for his blissful might, ii9u 

But if a clerk could do a gentle deed 
As well as any of you, it is no drede. 1 

' Sir, I release thee thy thousand pound, 
As thou right now were crope 2 out of the ground, 
Ne never ere now ne haddest knowen me. 
For, Sir, I will not take a penny of thee 11920 

For all my craft, ne nought for my travaille : 
Thou hast ypayed well for my vitaille. 
It is enough, and farewell, have good day/ 
And took his horse, and forth he go'th his way. 

Lordings, this question would I asken now, 
Which was the moste free, 3 as thinketh you? 
Now telleth me, ere that ye further wend. 
I can no more, my tale is at an end. 





' YEA, let that passen/ quod our Host, * as now. 

Sir Doctor of Physike, I pray you, 11930 

Tell us a tale of some honest mattere/ 

' It shall be done, if that ye will it hear/ 
Said this Doctor, and his tale began anon. 
' Now, good men/ quod he, * heark'neth every one/ 


THERE was, as telleth Titus Livius, 
A knight, that cleped was Virginius, 
Fulfilled of honour and worthiness, 
And strong of friendes, and of great riche'ss. 
This knight a daughter hadde by his wife, 
No children had he more in all his life. 
Fair was this maid in excellent beauty 
Aboven every wight that man may see : 
For nature hath with sovereign diligence 
Yformed 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 1 11947 

Pygmalion? not, though he aye forge and beat, 

Or grave, or painte : for I dare well sayn, 

Apelles, Xeuxis, shoulden 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 maked me his vicar-general 

To form and painten earthly creature's 

Right as me list, and each thing in my cure 1 is 

Under the moone, that may wane and wax. 

And for my work right nothing will I axe ; 

My lord and I be full of one accord. 

I made her to the worship of my lord; 11960 

So do I all mine other creatures, 

What colour that they have, or what figiires/ 

Thus seemeth me that Nature woulde say. 

This maid of age twelve year was and tway, 
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 hath this noble creature 
Ere she was born, upon her limbes free, 
Whereas by right such colours shoulden be : 11970 
And Phoebus dyed hath her tresses great, 
Like to the streames of his burned heat. 
And if that excellent were her beauty, 
A thousand-fold more virtuous was she. 
In her ne lacked no condition, 
That is to praise, as by discretion. 
As well in ghost 2 as body, chaste was she: 
For which she flow'red in virginity, 
With all humility and abstinence, 
With all attemperance and patience, 11930 





1 Utter 

2 Long 

3 Wicked- 

With measure eke, of bearing and array. nosi 

Discreet she was in answering alway, 

Though she were wise as Pallas, dare I sayn, 

Her faconde 1 eke full womanly and plain, 

No counterfeited termes hadde she 

To seemen wise ; but after her degree 

She spake, and all her wordes more and less 

Sounding in virtue and in gentleness. 

Shamefast she was in maiden's shamefastness, 

Constant in heart, and ever in business 11990 

To drive her out of idle sluggardy : 

Bacchus had of her mouth right no mast'ry. 

For wine and youthe do Vemis increase, 

As men in fire will casten oil and grease. 

And of her owen virtue unconstrained, 

She hath herself full often sick yfeign'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. 12000 

Such thinges maken children for to be 

Too soone ripe and bold, as men may see, 

Which is full perilous, and hath been yore; 2 

For all too soone may she learnen lore 

Of boldness, when she waxed is a wife. 

And ye mistresses in your olde life, 
That lorde's' daughters have in governance, 
Ne taketh of my wordes displeasance : 
Thinketh that ye be set in governings 
Of lordes' daughters, only for two things ; 12010 

Either for ye have kept your honesty, 
Or else for ye have fallen in frailty, 
And knowen well enough the olde dance, 
And have forsaken fully such meschance 3 



For evermore : therefore for Christe's sake 12015 
To teach them virtue look that ye ne slake. 

A thief of venison, that hath forlaft 1 
His likerousness, 2 and all his olde craft, 
Can keep a forest best of any man : 
Now keep'th them well, for if ye will ye can, 12020 
Look well, that ye unto no vice assent, 
Lest ye be damned for your wick' 3 intent, 
For whoso doth, a traitor is certain : 
And taketh keep of that I shall you sayn; 
Of alle treason sovereign 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 surveance, 4 
While that they be under your governance. 12030 
Beware, that by example of your living, 
Or by your negligence in chastising, 
That they ne perish : for I dare well say, 
If that they do, ye shall it dear abeye. 5 
Under a^hepherd soft and negligent, 
The wolf hath many a sheep and lamb to-rent. 

Sufficeth this example now as here, 
For I must turn again to my matte're. 

This maid, of which I tell my tale express, 
She kept herself, her needed no mistress; 12040 

For in her living, maidens mighten read, 
As in a book, every good word and deed, 
That longeth to a maiden virtuous : 
She was so prudent and so bounteous. 
For which the fame out sprung on every side 
Both of her beauty and her bounty 6 wide: 
That through the land they praised her each one, 
That loved virtue, save envy alone, 

1 For 
J Gluttony. 

3 Wicked. 


5 Pay for. 




1 Misfor 

8 Observ 
8 Where. 

4 Good 

5 Head. 
a Counsel. 

That sorry is of other marine's weal, 12049 

And glad is of his sorrow and his unhele. 1 
The Doctor maketh this descriptioiin. 

This maiden on a day went in the town 
Toward a temple, with her mother dear, 
As is of younge maidens the manne're. 

Now was there then a justice in that town, 
That governor was of that regioiin : 
And so befell, this judge his eyen cast 
Upon this maid, arising 2 her full fast, 
As she came forth by there 3 this judge stood: 
Anon his hearte changed and his mood, 12060 

So was he caught with beauty of this maid, 
And to himself full privily he said, 
' This maiden shall be mine for any man/ 

Anon the fiend into his hearte ran, 
And taught him suddenly, that he by sleight 
This maiden to his purpose winnen might. 
For certes, by no force, nor by no meed, 
Him thought he was not able for to speed ; 
For she was strong of friendes, and eke she 
Confirmed was in such sovereign bounty, 4 12070 

That well he wist he might her never win, 
As for to make her with her body sin. 
For which with great deliberatioiin 
He sent after a churl was in the town, 
The which he knew for subtle and for bold. 
This judge unto this churl his tale hath told 
In secret wise, and made him to insure, 
He shoulde tell it to no creature, 
And if he did, he shoulde lose his hede. 5 
And when assented was this cursed rede, 6 12030 

Glad was the judge, and maked him great cheer, 
And gave him giftes precious and dear. 




When shapen was all their conspiracy 
From point to point, how that his lechery 
Performed shoulde be full subtlely, 
As ye shall hear it after openly, 
Home go'th this churl, that highte Claudius. 
This false judge, that highte Appius, 
(So was his name, for it is no fable, 
But known for an historial thing notable ; 
The sentence of it sooth is out of doubt ;) 
This false judge go'th 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 ; 
This false churl came forth a full great pace, 
And saide ; ' Lord, if that it be your will, 
As do me right upon this piteous bill, 
In which I 'plain upon Virginius. 
And if that he will say it is not thus, 
I will it prove, and finden good witness, 
That sooth is that my bille will express/ . 

The judge answeYd, * Of this in his absence 
I may not give definitive sentence. 
Let do 1 him call, and I will gladly hear; 
Thou shalt have right, and no wrong as now here.' 

Virginius came to weet 2 the judge's will, 
And right anon was read this cursed bill ; 
The sentence of it was as ye shall hear: 

' To you, my lord, Sir Appius so dear, 
Sheweth your poore servant Claudius, 
How that a knight called Virginius, 
Against the law, against all equity, 
Holdeth, express against the will of mo, 



1 Cause. 

2 Know. 



1 Pro 


My servant, which that is my thrall by right, 
Which from mine house was stolen on a night 
While that she was full young, I will it preve 
By witness, lord, so that it you not grieve ; 
She n'is his daughter nought, whatso 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 his bill. 

Virginius 'gan upon the churl 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 woulde nothing tarry, 
Nor hear a word more of Virginius, 
But gave his judgement, and saide thus: 

' I deem 1 anon this churl his servant have; 
Thou shalt no longer in thine house her save. 
Go, bring her forth, and put her in our ward ; 
The churl 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 given 
Unto the judge, in lechery to liven, 
He go'th him home, and set 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, 
All 2 would he from his purpose not convert. 

' Daughter/ quod he, ' Virginia by thy name, 
There be two wave's, either death or shame, 
That thou must suffer, alas that I was bore ! 
For never thou deservedest wherefore 







To dien with a sword or with a knife. 12151 

O deare daughter, ender of my life, 

Which 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 my 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 12160 

Alas that ever Appius thee say! 1 

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. 

' mercy, deare father/ quod this maid. 
And with that word she both her armes laid 
About his neck, as she was wont to do, 
(The teare's burst out of her eyen two,) 
And said, ' O goode father, shall I die? 
Is there no grace? is there no remedy"?' 12170 

'No certes, deare daughter mine,' quod he. 
' Then give me leisure, father mine/ quod she, 
My death for to complain a little space : 
For, pardie, 2 Jephthah gave his daughter 


For to complain, ere he her slew, alas! 
And God it wot, nothing was her trespass, 
But for she ran her father first t6 see, 
To welcome him with great solemnity/ 
And with that word she fell aswoon anon, 
And after, when her swooning was agone, 12180 

She riseth up, and to her father said : 
' Blessed be God, that I shall die a maid. 
Give me my death, ere that I have a shame; 





l Took. 

2 Judg 

3 Hang up. 

4 Thrust. 

4 Cause to 

Do with your child your will, a' Godde's name/ 
And with that word she prayed him full oft, 12135 
That with his sword he woulde smite her soft; 
And with that word, aswoon again she fell. 
Her father, with full sorrowful heart and will, 
Her head off smote, and by the top it hent, 1 
And to the judge he 'gan it to present, 12190 

As he sat yet in doom 2 in consistory. 

And when the judge it saw, as saith the 


He bade to take him, and anhang 3 him fast. 
But right anon a thousand people in thrast 4 
To save the knight, for ruth and for pity, 
For knowen was the false iniquity. 

The people anon had suspect in this thing 
By manner of the churle's challenging, 
That it was by the assent of Appius ; 
They wisten well that he was lecherous. 12200 

For which unto this Appius they gon, 
And cast him in a prison right anon, 
Whereas 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 exiled, 
And elle's certes had he been beguiled : 
The remnant were anhanged, more and less, 
That were consentant of this cursedness. 12210 

Here men may see how sin hath his merit: 
Beware, for no man wot whom God will 


In no degree, nor in which manner wise 
The worm of conscience may agrise 5 
Of wicked life, though it so privy be, 



That no man wot thereof, save God and lie : 
For be he lewed 1 man or elles lear'd, 2 
He n'ot 3 how soon that ho shall be afear'd, 
Therefore I rede 4 you this counsel take, 
Forsaketh sin, ere sinne you forsake* 


1 Ignorant 
1 Learned. 
' Knows 





2 Counsel 

8 Never 

4 Innocent. 


6 :N T o mat 


8 Thrive. 



OUR Hoste 'gan to swear as lie were wood; 1 12221 

' Harrow ! (quod he) by nailes and by blood, 

This was a false churl, and a false justice. 

As shameful death, as hearte can devise, 

Come to these judges and their advocas. 2 

Algate 3 this sely 4 maid is slain, alas! 

Alas ! too dear abought she her beauty. 

Wherefore I say, that all day man may see, 

That giftes of fortiine 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 for harm than prow. 5 

' But truely, mine owen master dear, 
This was a piteous tale for to hear : 
But natheless, pass over; is no force. 6 
I pray to God to save thy gentle corse, 
And eke thine urinals, and thy jordans, 
Thine Hippocras, and eke thy Galiens, 
And every boist 7 full of thy lectuary, 
God bless them and our lady Sainte Mary. 
So may I the, 8 thou art a proper man, 



And like a prelate, by Saint Ronian ; 12244 

Said I not well"? I cannot speak in term; 1 

But well I wot, thou dost 2 mine heart to erme, 3 

That I have almost caught a cardiacle : * 

By corpus Domini but 5 I have triple, 6 

Or else a draught of moist 7 and corny ale, 

Or but I hear anon a merry tale, 12250 

Mine heart is lost for pity of this maid. 

Thou bel amy, thou Pardoner,' he said, 

* Tell us some mirth of japes 8 right anon/ 

* It shall be done/ quod he, ' by Saint Ronion. 
But first (quod he) here at this ale-stake^ 

I will both drink, and biten on a cake/ 
But right anon these gentles 'gan to cry ; 

* Nay, let him tell us of no ribaldry. 

Tell us some moral thing, that we may lere 10 
Some wit, and thenne will we gladly hear/ 12260 
' I grant ywis/ 11 quod he, ' but I must think 
Upon some honest thing, while that I drink.' 


LORDINGS, (quod he,) in churche when I preach, 
I paine me to have an hautein 12 speech, 
And ring it out, as round as go'th a bell, 
For I can 13 all by rote that I tell. 
My theme is alway one, and ever was; 
Radix malorum est cupiditas. 

First I pronounce whennes 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, 





3 Think. 


* Owneth. 

1 Glove. 


That no man be so bold, ne priest nor clerk, 12273 

Me to disturb of Christe's holy werk. 

And after that then tell I forth my tales. 

Bulles of pope's, and of cardinales, 

Of patriarchs, and bishopes I shew, 

And in Latin I speak a wordes few, 

To saffron 1 with my predication, 

And for to stir men to devotion. 

Tli en shew I forth my longe crystal stones, 

Ycrammed full of cloutes and of bones, 

Relics they be, as weenen 2 they each one. 

Then have I in laton 3 a shoulder-bone, 
Which that was of an holy Jewe's sheep. 

'Good men/ say I, 'take of riry wordes keep: 4 
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 ystung, 
Take water of that well, and wash his tongue, 
And it is whole anon : and furthermore 
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. 

' If that the good man, that the beastes oweth, 5 
Will every week, ere that the cock him croweth, 
Fasting ydrinken 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 in jealous rage, 
Let maken with this water his potage, 
And never shall he more his wife mistrist, 
Though he the sooth of her defaulte wist; 
All 6 had she taken priestes two or three. 

' Here is a mittain 7 eke, that ye may see 





He that his hand will put in this mittain, 12307 

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 thiri% 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 yshriven 1 be: 
Or any woman, be she young or old, 
That hath ymade her husband cokewold, 
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 Godde's name, 12320 
And I assoil him by the authority, 
Which that by bull ygranted was to me/ 

By this gaud 2 have I wonnen year by year 
An hundred mark, since I was pardonere. 
I stande like a clerk in my pulpit, 
And when the lewed 3 people is down yset, 
I preache so as ye have heard before, 
And tell an hundred false japes 4 more. 
Then pain I me to stretch en forth my neck, 
And east and west upon the people I bec^, 12330 
As doth a dove, sitting upon a bern: 6 
My handes and my tongue go so yern, 6 
That it is joy to see my business. 
Of avarice and of such cursedness 
Is all my preaching, for to make them free 
To give their pence, and namely unto me. 
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 blacke buried. 12340 

1 Confe 


1 Ignorant 

4 Tricks. 




For certes many a predication 12341 

Cometh oft-time of evil intention; 
Some for pleasance of folk, and flattery, 
To be advanced by hypocrisy; 
And some for vafh-glory, and some for hate. 
For when I dare none other ways debate, 
Then will I sting him with my tongue smart 
In preaching, so that he shall not astart 
To be defamed falsely, if that he 
Hath trespass'd to my brethren or to me. 12350 

For though I telle not his proper name, 
Men shall well knowen that it is the same 
By signes, arid by other circumstances. 
Thus quit I folk, that do us displeasances : 
Thus spit I out my venom under hue 
Of holiness, to seeme- holy' and true. 
But shortly mine intent I will devise, 
I preach of nothing but for covetise. 
Therefore my theme is yet, and ever was, 
Radix malorum est cupiditas. 12300 

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 1 
From avarice, and sore them to 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 one 
Of olde stories longe time agone. 12370 

For lewed 2 people loven tales old; 
Such thinges can they well report and hold. 
What? trowen ye, that whiles I may preach 
And winnen gold and silver for I teach, 



That I will live in povert' wilfully? 12375 

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 baskettes for to live thereby, 

Because I will not beggen idlely. 12330 

I will none of the apostles counterfeit: 

I will have money, woolle, cheese, and wheat, 

All 1 were it given of the poorest page, 

Or of the poorest widow in a village : 

All should her children starven for famine. 

Nay, I will drink the liquor of the vine, 

And have a jolly wench in every town. 

But heark'neth, lordings, in conclusioun, 
Your liking is that I shall tell a tale. 
Now I have drunk a draught of corny ale, 12390 
By God, I hope I shall you tell a thing, 
That shall by reason be at your liking: 
For though myself be a full vicious man, 
A moral tale yet I you tellen can, 
Which I am wont to preachen, for to win. 
Now hold your peace, my tale I will begin. 

IN Flanders whilom was a company 
Of younge folk, that haunteden folly, 
As hazard, riot, stewes, and taveVns; 
Whereas with harpes, lutes, and gitt&rns, 2 12400 

They dance and play at dice both day and night, 
And eat also, and drinke o'er their might ; 
Through which they do the devil sacrifice 
Within the devil's temple, in cursed wise, 
By superfluity abominable. 
Their oathe's been so great and so damnable, 
That it is grisly 3 for to hear them swear. 






1 Female 

2 Neat. 

8 Female 

4 Joyous. 

8 Sellers of 

6 Unnatu 

T Com 

8 Drunken. 

9 Madness. 

10 One evil- 

11 Purchas 


Our blissful Lorde's body they to-tear; 12408 

Them thought the Jewes rent him not enough ; 
And each of them at other's sinne lough. 

And right anon in comen tombesteres 1 
Fetis 2 and small, and younge fruitesteres, 3 
Singers with harpes, baudes, 4 waferers, 5 
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. 

Lo, how that drunken Lot unkindely 6 
Lay by his daughters two unwittingly, 12420 

So drunk he was he n'iste what he wrought. 

Herodes, who so well the stories sought, 
When he of wine replete was at his feast, 
Right at his owen table he gave his hest 7 
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: 8 
But that woodness, 9 yfalien in a shrew, 10 12430 

Persevereth longer than doth drunkenness. 

O gluttonie, full of cursedness; 
cause first of our confusion, 
original of our damnation, 
Till Christ had bought us with his blood again. 
Looketh, how deare, shortly for to sayn, 
Abought 11 was thilke cursed villainy : 
Corrupt was all this world for gluttony. 

Adam our father, and his wife also, 
From Paradise, to labour and to woe, 12440 

Were driven for that vice, it is no drede. 12 



For while that Adam fasted, as I read, 12442 

He was in Paradise, and when that he 
Ate of the fruit defended, 1 on a tree, 
Anon lie was out -cast to woe and pain. 

gluttony! on thee well ought us 'plain. 
Oh ! wist a man how many maladies 

Follow of excesse and of gluttonies, 

He woulde be the more measurable 

Of his diete, sitting at his table. 12450 

Alas! the shorte throat, the tender mouth, 

Maketh that east and west, and north and south, 

In earth, in air, in water, men to-swink, 2 

To get a glutton dainty meat and drink. 

Of this matter, O Paul! well canst thou treat. 

Meat unto womb, and womb eke unto meat, 

Shall God destroyen both, as Paulus saith. 

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 rede, 12460 

That of his throat he maketh his privy 

Through thilke cursed superfluity. 

The Apostle saith, weeping full pitecusly, 
There walken many', of which you told have I, 

1 say it now weeping with piteous voice, 
That they be enemies of Christe's crois : 

Of which the end is death ; womb is their God. 

O womb, belly, stinking is thy cod, 3 

Fulfill'd of dung and of corruptioiin ; 

At either end of thee foul is the soun'. 12470 

How great labour and cost is thee to find! 4 

These cookes how they stamp, and strain, and grind, 

And turnen substance into accident, 

To fulfil all thy likerous talent! 

Out of the harde bones knocken they 

1 Forbid 

* Labour. 

A bag. 

To sup 




8 Care. 



The marrow, for they casten nought away, 12476 

That may go through the gullet soft and sote ; l 

Of spicery, of leaf, of bark, and root, 

Shall be his sauce ymaked by delight 

To make him yet 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! disfigured is thy face, 
Sour is thy breath, foul art thou to embrace : 
And through thy drunken nose seemeth the soun', 
As though thou saidest aye, Samsoun! Samsoun! 
And yet, God wot, Samson drank ne'er no wine. 
Thou fallest, as it were a sticked swine : 12490 

Thy tongue is lost, and all thine honest cure, 2 
For drunkenness is very sepulture 
Of manners wit, and his discretion. 
In whom that drink hath domination, 
He can no counsel keep, it is no dread. 3 
Now keep you from the white and from the red, 
And namely from the white wine of Lepe, 
That is to sell in Fish-street and in Cheap. 
This wine of Spaine creepeth subtlely 
In other wines growing faste by, 12500 

Of which there riseth such fumosity, 4 
That when a man hath drunken draughted three, 
And weeneth that he be at home in Cheap, 
He is in Spain, right at the town of Lepe, 
Not at the Rdchelle, nor at Bourdeaux town; 
And thenne will he say, Samsoun! Samsoun! 

But heark'neth, lordings, one word, I you pray, 
That all the sovereign actes, dare I say, 
Of victories in the Olde Testament, 



Through veiy God, that is omnipotent, 12510 

Were done in abstinence and in prayeVe : 
Looketh the Bible, and there ye may it lere. 1 

Look, Attila, the greate conqueror, 
Died in his sleep, with shame and dishonor, 
Bleeding aye at his nose in drunkenness: 
A capitain should live in soberness. 

And o'er all this, aviseth 2 you right well, 
What was commanded unto Lemuel ; 
Not Samuel, but Lemuel say I. 
Eeadeth the Bible, and find it expressly 12520 

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 defenden 3 hazardry. 4 
Hazard is very mother of leasings, 5 
And of deceit, and cursed f orswearings : 
Blaspheming of Christ, manslaughter, and waste also 
Of chattel, 6 and of time; and furthermo 
It is repreve, 7 and contrary of honour, 
For to be held a common hazardoiir. 12530 

And ever the higher he is of estate, 
The more he is holden desolate. 
If that a prince useth hazardry, 
In alle governance and policy 
He is, as by common opinion, 
Yhold the less in reputation. 

Stilbon, that was a wise ambassador, 
Was sent to Corinth with full great honour 
From Calidon, to maken them alliance : 
And when he came, it happened him par chance, 
That all the greatest that were of that lond 12541 
Yplaying atte hazard he them fond. 
For which, as soon as that it mighte be, 



4 Gaming. 
4 Lies. 

8 Property. 
T Reproach. 



1 Rather. 

2 Judg 

8 Com 

4 In vain. 

He stole him home again to his country, 12544 

And saide there, ' I will not lose my name, 

Ne will not take on me so great defame, 

You for t' ally unto no hazardors. 

Sendeth some other wise ambassadors, 

For by my truthe, me were lever 1 die, 

Than I you should to hazarders ally. 12550 

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 reputatioiin. 12560 

Lorde's may finden other manner play 
Honest enough to drive the day away. 

Now will I speak of oathe's false and great 
A word or two, as olde bookes treat. 
Great swearing is a thing abominable, 
And false swearing is yet more reprovable. 
The highe God forbade swearing at all, 
Witness on Matthew : but in special 
Of swearing saith the holy Jeremie, 
Thou shalt swear sooth thine oathe's, and not lie : 
And swear in doom, 2 and eke in righteousness; 
But idle swearing is a cursedness. 12572 

Behold and see, that in the n'rste table 
Of highe Godde's heste's 3 honourable, 
How that the second hest of him is this, 
Take not my name in idle 4 or amiss. 
Lo, rather he forbiddeth such swearing, 




Than homicide, or many another thing. 

I say that as by order thus it standeth ; 

This knoweth he that his hests understandeth, 

How that the second hest of God is that. 

And furthermore, I will thee tell all plat, 1 

That vengeance shall not parten from his house, 

That of his oathe's is outrageous. 

' By Godde's precious heart, and by his nails, 

And by the blood of Christ, that is in Hailes, 

Seven is my chance, and thine is cinque and trey: 

By Godde's arme's, if thou falsely play, 

This dagger shall throughout thine hearte go/ 

This fruit com'th of the bicchel bones two, 

Forswearing, ire, falseness, and homicide. 

Now for the love of Christ that for us died, 
Leteth 2 your oathe's, bothe great and smale. 
But, Sirs, now will I tell you forth my tale. 

These riotoures three, of which I tell, 
Long erst 3 ere prime rung of any bell, 
Were set them in a tavern for to drink : 
And as they sat, they heard a belle clink 
Before a corpse, was carried to his grave : 
That one of them 'gan callen to his knave, 4 
'Go bet/ 5 quod he, 'and aske readily, 
What corpse is this, that passeth here forth by : 
And look that thou report his name well/ 

'Sir/ quod this boy, 'it needeth never a del; 6 
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, 
There came a privy thief, men clepen 7 Death, 
That in this country all the people slay'th, 
And with his spear he smote his heart atwo, 




8 Before. 

4 Servant. 

8 A hunt- 

6 WhiL 




1 Watchful. 

2 Worthy. 

3 At one. 

4 Dreadful. 
* Catch. 

And went his way withouten wordes mo. 12612 

He hath a thousand slain this pestilence : 

And, master, ere you come in his presence, 

Methinketh 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/ 

1 By Sainte Mary/ said this tavern ere, 
' The child saith sooth, for he hath slain this year 
Hence over a mile, within a great village, 12021 

Both man and woman, child, and hind, and page ; 
I trow his habitation be there : 
To be avised 1 great wisdom it were, 
Ere that he did a man a dishonour/ 

' Yea, Godde's armes/ quod 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 2 bones. 
Heark'neth, fellows, we three be alle ones: 3 12630 
Let each of us hold up his hand to other, 
And each of us becomen 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 truthes plight 
To live and dien each of them for other, 
As though he were his owen boren brother. 
And up they start all drunken in this rage, 
And forth they go towardes that village, 12040 

Of which the taverner had spoke beforn, 
And many a grisly 4 oath then have they sworn, 
And Christe's blessed body they to-rent ; 
'Death shall be dead, if that we may him hent/ 5 

When they have gone not fully half a mile, 



Right as they would have trodden over a stile, 
An old man and a poore with them met 12647 

This olde man full meekely them gret, 1 
And saide thus; 'Now, lordes, God you see/ 2 

The proudest of these riotoures three 
AnsweYd again; 'What? churl, with sorry grace, 
Why art thou all forwrapped save thy face I 
Why livest thou so long in so great age?' 

This olde man 'gaii look in his visage, 
And saide thus ; ' For I ne cannot find 
A man, though that I walked into Ind, 
Neither in city, nor in no village, 
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. 12660 

Ne Death, alas! ne will not have my life. 
Thus walk I like a resteless caitiff, 
And on the ground, which is my mother's gate, 
I knocke' with my staff, early and late, 
And say to her, " Leve 3 mother, let me in. 
Lo, how I vanish, flesh, and blood, and skin ; 
Alas! when shall my bones be at rest? 
Mother, with you would I changen my chest, 
That in my chamber longe time hath be, 
Yea, for an hairy clout to wrap in me." 12070 

But yet to me she will not do that grace, 
For which full pale and welked 4 is my face. 

' But, Sirs, to you it is no courtesy 
To speak unto an old man villainy, 
But 5 he trespass in word or else in deed. 
In holy writ ye may yourselven read ; 
" Against 6 an old man, hoar upon his head, 
Ye should arise:" therefore I give you rede, 7 
Ne do unto an old man no harm now, 

VOL. n. P 

1 Greeted. 
" Preserve. 


4 Wither 


6 To meet, 

7 Advice. 



buffer for. 

* Pleasant. 

3 Joko. 


No more than that ye would a man did you 
In age, if that ye may so long abide. 
And God be with you, where 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 hazardour anon; 
' Thou partest not so lightly, by Saint John. 
Thou spake right now of thilke traitor Death, 
That in this country all our friendes slay'th ; 
Have here my truth, as thou art his espy; 
Tell w r here he is, or thou shalt it aby, 1 126 90 

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/ quod he, ' if it be you so lief 2 
To finden 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, 12700 
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 ycoined round, 
Well nigh an eighte 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 been so fair and bright, 
That down they set them by the precious hoard. 
The worst of them he spake the firste word. 12710 

' Brethren/ quod he, ' take keep what I shall say ; 
My wit is great, though that I bourd 3 and play. 
This treasure hath fortiine unto us given 



In mirth and jollity our life to liven, mu 

And lightly as it com'th, so will we spend. 

Hey! Godde's precious dignity! who wend 1 

To-day, that we should have so fair a grace? 

But might this gold be carried from this place 

Home to mine house, or elle's unto yours, 

(For well I wot that all this gold is ours,) 12720 

Thenne were we in high felicity. 

But truely by day it may not be ; 

Men woulden say that we were thieves strong, 

And for our owen treasure do 2 us hong. 

This treasure must ycarried be by night 

As wisely and as slily as it might. 

Wherefore I rede, 3 that cut 4 among us all 

We draw, and let see where the cut will fall: 

And he that hath the cut, with hearte blith, 

Shall runnen to the town, and that full swith, 5 12730 

And bring us bread and wine full privily : 

And two of us shall keepen subtlely 

This treasure well : and if he will not tarrien, 

When it is night, we will this treasure carrien 

By one assent, where as us thinketh best/ 

That 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 agone, 12740 

That one of them spake thus unto that other; 
' Thou wottest well thou art my sworen brother, 
Thy profit will I tell thee right anon. 
Thou wost 6 well that our fellow is agone, 
And here is gold, and that full great plenty, 
That shall departed be among us three. 
But natheless, if I can shape it so, 



8 Advise. 
4 Lot 





1 Know- 

That it departed were among us two, 12743 

Had I not done a friende's turn to thee?' 

That other answer'd, *I n'ot 1 how that may be: 
He wot 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; 
* And I shall tellen thee in wordes few 
What we shall do, and bring it well about/ 

' I grante,' quod that other, ' out of doubt, 
That by my truth I will thee not bewray.' 

'Now,' quod the first, 'thou wost well we be tway, 
And tway of us shall stronger be than one. 
Look, when that he is set, thou right anon 12760 
Arise, as though thou wouldest with him play; 
And I shall rive him through the sides tway, 
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, 
My deare friend, betwixen thee and me : 
Then may we both our lustes all fulfil, 
And play at dice right at our owen will/ 
And thus accorded been these shrewes tway, 
To slay the third, as ye have heard me say. 12770 

This youngest, which that wente to the town, 
Full oft in heart he rolleth up and down 
The beauty of these florins new and bright. 
' Lord!' quod he, 'if so were that I might 
Have all this treasure to myself alone, 
There n'is no man that liveth under throne 
Of God, that shoulde live 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 tway. 12780 
For why, the fiend found him in such living, 


That he had leave to sorrow him to bring. 

For this was utterly his full intent 

To slay them both, and never to repent. 

And forth he go'th, no longer would he tarry, 
Into the town unto a Apothecary, 
And prayed him that he him woulde sell 
Some poison, that he might his rattons 1 quell, 
And eke there was a polecat in his haw, 2 
That, as he said, his capons had yslaw: 8 12700 

And fain he would him wreaken, 4 if he might, 
Of vermin, that destroyed them by night. 

The Apothecary answeYd, * Thou shalt have 
A thing, as wisly 5 God my soule save, 
In all this world there n'is no cre&ture, 
That eat or drank hath of this cdnfecture, 
Not but the mountance 6 of a corn of wheat, 
That he ne shall his life anon forlete; 7 
Yea, sterve 8 he shall, and that in lesse while, 
Than thou wilt go a pace not but a mile: 12800 

This poison is so strong and violent/ 

This cursed man hath in his hand yhent 9 
This poison in a box, and swith 10 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 cleane for his drink, 
For all the night he shope 11 him for to swink 12 
In carrying oft' the gold out of that place. 

And when this rioter, with sorry grace, 12810 

Hath fill'd with wine his greate bottles three, 
To his fellows again repaireth he. 

What needeth it thereof to sermon more? 
For right as they had cast his death before, 
Eight so they have him slain, and that anon. 









And when that this was done, thus spake that one; 
' Now let us sit and drink, and make us merry, 
And afterward we will his body bury/ 12818 

And with that word it happened him par cas, 1 
To take the bottle there 2 the poison was, 
And drank, and gave his fellow drink also, 
For which anon they storven 3 bothe two. 

But certes I suppose that Avicenne 
Wrote never in no canon, nor in no fenne,* 
More wonder signes of empoisoning, 
Than had these wretches two ere their ending. 
Thus ended been these homicides two, 
And eke the false empoisoner also. 

cursedness of alle cursedness ! 
traitors homicide! O wickedness! 12830 

glutt'ny, luxury, and hazardry! 

Thou blasphemer of Christ with villainy, 
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, 4 alas! 

Now, good men, God forgive you your trespass, 
And ware you from the sin of avarice. 
Mine holy pardon may you all warice. 5 12340 

So that ye offer nobles or sterlings, 6 
Or elles silver brooches, spoones, rings. 
Boweth your head under this holy Bull. 
Come up, ye wives, and off'reth of your will ; 
Your names I enter here in my roll anon ; 
Into the bliss of heaven shall ye gon: 

1 you assoile 7 by mine high power, 

* 'Fenne :' The name of the sections of Avicenna's great work entitled 
' Canon.' 



You that will offer, as clean and eke as clear 12848 
As ye were born. Lo, Sires, thus I preach; 
And Jesus Christ, that is our soules' leach, 
So grante you his pardon to receive ; 
For that is best, I will you 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 devoti<5n 
Offer, and have mine absolutidn, 
Come forth anon, and kneeleth here adown, 
And meekely receiveth my pardoiin. 12860 

Or elles taketh pardon, as ye wend, 1 
All new and fresh at every towne's end, 
So that ye ofter alway new and new, 
Nobles or pence, which that be good and true. 
It is an honour to evereach that is here, 
That ye may have a suffisant pardoneVe 
T" assoilen you in country as ye ride, 
For aventures, which that may betide. 
Para venture there may fall one or two, 
Down of his horse, and break his neck atwo. 12870 
Look, which 2 a surety is it to you all, 
That I am in your fellowship yfall, 
That may assoil you bothe more and lass, 3 
When that the soul shall from the body pass. 
I rede 4 that our Hoste shall begin, 
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/ quod he, ' then have I Christe's curse. 
Let be/ quod he, ' it shall not be, so the ich. 5 12881 


* Advise. 

So may I 





Thou wouldest make me kiss thine olde breech, 
And swear it were a relic of a saint, 12883 

Though it were with thy fundament depaint. 
But by the cross, which that Saint Helen fond, 1 
I would I had thine coilons in mine hond, 
Instead of relics, or of sanctuary. 
Let cut them off, I will thee help them carry; 
They shall be shrined in an hogge's tord/ 

This Pardoner answered not a word; 12890 

So wroth he was, no word ne would he say. 

' Now/ quod 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,) 
' 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, 2 12900 
And as we diden, let us laugh and play/ 
Anon they kiss'd, and riden forth their way. 




OUR Host upon his stirrups stood anon, 12903 

And saide; ' Good men, heark'neth every one, 

This was a thrifty tale for the nones. 

Sir Parish Priest/ quod he, * for Godde's bones, 

Tell us a tale, as was thy forword 1 yore: 

I see well that ye learned men in lore 

Can muchel good, by Godde's dignity/ 

The Parson him answeYd, 'Benedicite! 12910 

What aileth the man, so sinfully to swear?' 

Our Host answ^r'd, '0 Jankin, be ye there? 
Now, good men/ quod our Host, * heark'neth to me. 
I smell a loller 2 in the wind/ quod he. 
'Abideth for Godde's digne 3 passion, 
For we shall have a predication: 
This loller here will preachen us somewhat/ 

' Nay, by my father's soul, that shall he nat, 
Saide the Shipman; 'here shall he not preach, 
He shall no gospel glosen 4 here nor teach. 12920 
We 'lieven all in the great God/ quod he. 
' He woulde sowen some difficulty, 
Or springen cockle in our cleane corn. 
And therefore, Host, I warne thee beforn, 
My jolly body shall a tale tell, 

1 Promise. 

5 Lollard. 




1 Stomach. 

8 Sociable. 

4 Never- 

And I shall clinken 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. 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 compaignable, 2 and revellous was she, 
Which is a thing that causeth more dispense 
Than worth is all the cheer and reverence, 
That men them do at feastes and at dances. 
Such salutations and countenances 
Passen, as doth a shadow upon the wall : 
But woe is him that payen must for all. 
The sely 3 husband algate 4 he must pay, 
He must us clothe and he must us array 
All for his owen worship richely : 
In which array we dancen jollily. 
And if that he may not par&venture, 
Or elles list not such dispense endure, 
But thinketh it is wasted and ylost, 
Then must another payen for our cost, 
Or lend us gold, and that is perilous. 

This noble Merchant held a worthy house, 
For which he had all day so great repair 
For his largesse, and for his wife was fair, 
That wonder is : but heark'neth to my tale. 

Amonges all these guestes great and smale, 





8 Since. 

There was a monk, a fair man and a bold, 12955 

I trow a thirty winter he was old, 

That ever in one 1 was drawing to that place. 'Constant- 

This younge monk, that was so fair of face, 

Acquainted was so with this goode man, 

Sithen 2 that their first knowledge began, 12960 

That in his house as familiar was he, 

As it possible is any friend to be. 

And for as muchel as this goode man 

And eke this monk, of which that I began, 

Were bothe two yborn in one village, 

The monk him claimeth, as for cousinage, 

And he again him said not ones nay, 

But was as glad thereof as fowl of day; 

For to his heart it was a great pleasance. 

Thus been they knit with etern alliance, 12970 
And each of them 'gan other for t j insure 
Of brotherhood, while that their life may dure. 

Free was Dan John, and namely of dispense 
As in that house, and full of diligence 
To do pleasance, and also great costge: 
He not forgat to give the leaste page 
In all that house; but, after their degree, 
He gave the lord, and si then 3 his meinee, 4 
When that he came, some manner honest thing; 
For which they were as glad of his coming 12980 
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 5 him to maken ready his array 
Toward the town of Bruges for to fare, 
To buyen there a portion of ware : 
For which he hath to Paris sent anon 
A messenger, and prayed hath Dan John 

1 After. 
4 Servants. 




l Jar. 

2 Malmsey. 

3 Wild 

4 Serious- 

5 Consider- 

8 Count 

1 Would 

8 Hinder. 

That he should come to Saint Denis, and play 
With him, and with his wife, a day or tway, 12990 
Ere he to Bruges went, in alle wise. 

This noble monk, of which I you devise, 
Hath 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,) 
And unto Saint Denis he cometh anon. 

Who was so welcome as my lord Dan John, 
Our deare cousin, full of courtesy ? 
With him he brought a jub 1 of malvesie, 2 13000 

And eke another full of fine vernage, 
And volatile, 3 as aye was his usage : 
And thus I let them eat, and drink, and play, 
This merchant and this monk, a day or tway. 

The thirde day this merchant up ariseth, 
And on his neecles sadly 4 him aviseth: 5 
And up into his countour 6 house go'th he, 
To reckon with himselven, well may be, 
Of thilke year, how that it with him stood, 
And how that he dispended had his good, 13010 

And if that he increased were or non. 
His bookes and his bagges many one 
He lay'th 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 n'olde 7 no man should him let 8 
Of his accounted, for the meane time : 
And thus he sits, till it was passed prime : 

Dan John was risen in the morrow also, 
And in the garden walketh to and fro, 13020 

And hath his thinges said full courteously. 

This goode wife came walking privily 



Into the garden, there he walketh soft, 13023 

And him saluteth, as she hath done oft: 
A maiden child came in her company, 
Which as her list she may govern and gie, 1 
For yet under the yarde 2 was the maid. 

* O deare cousin mine, Dan John/ she said, 
'What aileth you so rathe 3 for to arise?' 

'Niece/ quod he, 'it ought enough suffice 13030 
Five houres for to sleep upon a night : 
But 4 it were for an old appalled 5 wight, 
As be these wedded men, that lie and dare, 6 
As in a forme sitteth a weary hare, 
Were all forstraught 7 with houndes great and smale, 
But, deare niece, why be ye so pale? 
I trowe certes, that our goode man 
Hath you laboiired, since this night began, 
That you were need to resten hastily.' 
And with that word he laugh'd full merrily, 13040 
And of his owen thought he wax'd all red. 

This faire wife 'gan for to shake her head, 
And sayed thus ; ' Yea, God wot all/ quod 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 wala-wa! 
That I was born, but to no wight (quod she) 
Dare I not tell how that it stands with me. 13050 
Wherefore I think out of this land to wend, 
Or elle's 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 forbede, 
That ye for any sorrow, or any drede, 

1 Guide. 

3 Early. 

* Unless. 




7 Distract 



1 Ruin. 

2 Breviary. 

3 Willing 
or un 


8 Assured 

8 Aree 


Fordo 1 yourself: but telleth me your grief, 13057 

Paraventure I may in your mischief 

Counsel or help : and therefore telleth me 

All your annoy, for it shall be secree. 

For on my Portos 2 here I make an oath, 

That never in my life, for lief nor loth, 3 

Ne shall I of no counsel you bewray.' 

' The same again to you/ quod she, ' 1 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, 
Bewray one word of thing that ye me tell, 
Nought for no cousinage, nor alliance, 
But verily for love and affiance/ 13070 

Thus be they sworn, and hereupon they kiss'd, 
And each of them told other what them list. 

' Cousin/ quod she, ' if that I had a space, 
As I have none, and namely in this place, 
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/ 

'Nay/ quod this monk, 'by God and Saint Martin, 
He n'is no more cousin unto me, 
Than is the leaf that hangeth on the tree : isoso 

I clepe 4 him so, by Saint Denis of France, 
To have the more cause of acquaintance 
Of you, which I have loved specially 
Aboven alle women sikerly, 5 
This swear I you on my professioiin : 
Telleth your grief, lest that he come ad own, 
And haste th you, and go'th away anon/ 

' My deare love/ quod she, ' my Dan John, 
Full lief 6 were me this counsel for to hide, 
But out it must, I may no longer abide. ISODO 



' Mine husband is to me the worste man, 13091 
That ever was since that the world began : 
But since I am a wife, it sit 1 not me 
To tellen no wight of our privity, 
Neither in bed, nor in none other place ; 
God shield 2 I should it tellen for his grace ; 
A wife ne shall not say of her husband 
But all honour, as I can understand ; 
Save unto you thus much I tellen shall : 
As help me God, he is nought worth at all, 13100 
In no degree, the value of a fly. 
But yet me grieveth most his niggardy : 
And well ye wot, that women naturally 
Desiren thinges six, as well as I. 
They woulden that their husbands shoulden 


Hardy, and wise, and rich, and thereto free, 
And buxom 8 to his wife, and fresh a-bed. 
But by that ilke Lord that for us bled, 
For his honour myselven for t' array, 
On Sunday next I muste needes pay mio 

An hundred francs, or elles am I lorn. 4 
Yet were me lever 5 that I were unborn, 
Than me were done a slander or villainy. 
And if mine husband eke might it espy, 
I n'ere but lost; and therefore I you pray 
Lend me this sum, or elles must I dey. 
Dan John, I say, lend me this hundred 

frankes ; 

Pardie, I will not faille you my thankes, 
If that you list to do that I you pray. 
For at a certain day I will you pay, 13120 

And do to you what pleasance and service 
That I may do, right as you list devise : 

1 Becoi 

3 Forbid. 


4 Lost 
8 Rather. 



1 Unless. 

2 Pity. 

3 Gone. 




And but 1 I do, God take on me vengeance, 13123 
As foul as ever had Genelon* of France/ 

This gentle monk answeYd in this mannere ; 
1 Now truely, mine owen lady dear, 
I have (quod he) on you so great a ruth, 2 
That I you swear, and plighte you my truth, 
That when your husband is to Flanders fare, 3 
I will deliver you out of this care, 
For I will bringen you an hundred francs/ 
And with that word he caught her by the flanks, 
And her embraced hard, and kiss'd her oft. 
* Go now your way/ quod he, ' all still and soft, 
And let us dine as soon as that ye may, 
For by my calender it is prime of day : 
Go now, and be as true as I shall be/ 

' Now elle's God forbide, Sir/ quod she ; 
And forth she go'th, as jolly as a pie, 
And bade the cookes that they should them hie, 4 
So that men mighten dine, and that anon. 
Up to her husband is this wife ygone, 
And knocketh at his countour boldely. 
' Qui est la?' quod he. 'Peter, it am I,' 
Quod she. * What, Sir, how longe will ye fast? 
How longe time will ye reckon and cast 
Your summes, and your booke's, and your things ? 
The devil have part of all such reckonings. 
Ye have enough pardie of Godde's sond. 5 
Come down to-day, and let your bagge's stond. 13150 
Ne be ye not ashamed, that Dan John 
Shall fasting all this day elenge 6 gon? 
What 1 ? let us hear a mass, and go we dine/ 

* Wife/ quod this man, ' little canst thou divine 

* ' Genelon : ' One of Charlemagne's officers, whose treachery was the 
cause of the defeat at Roncevaux, for which he was torn to pieces by horses. 



The curious businesse that we have : 
For of us chapmen, all so God me save, 
And by that lord that cleped is Saint Ive, 
Scarcely amonges twenty, ten shall thrive 
Continually, lasting unto our age. 
We may well maken cheer and good visage, 
And driven 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 quainte 1 world t' avisen 2 me. 
For evermore must we stand in dread 
Of hap and fortune in our chapmanhead. 3 

' To Flanders will I go to-morrow at day, 
And come again as soon as ever I may : 
For which, my deare wife, I thee beseek 
As be to every wight buxom 4 and meek, 
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 vitaille ; 
Of silver in thy purse shalt thou not fail/ 
And with that word his countour door he shet, 
And down he go'th: no longer would he let; 
And hastily a masse was there said, 
And speedily the tables were ylaid, 
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, 





1 Strange. 
* Consider. 

8 Trading. 




1 Tempe 

2 Ado. 

3 Civilly. 

4 Surely. 

5 Merchan 


God and Saint Austin speede you and guide, 
I pray you, cousin, wisely that ye ride ; 
Governeth you also of your diet 
Attemprely, 1 and namely in this heat. 
Betwixt us two needeth no strange fare ; 2 
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 en you for to lend me 
An hundred frankes for a week or twey, 
For certain beastes that I muste buy, 
To storen with a place that is ours, 
(God help me so, I would that it were yours :) 
I shall not faille 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.' 

This noble merchant gentilly 8 anon 
AnsweYd and said, ' cousin mine, Dan John, 
Now sikerly 4 this is a small request: 
My gold is youres, when that it you lest, 
And not only my gold, but my chaffare : 5 
Take what you list, God shielde that ye spare. 
But one thing is, ye know it well enough 
Of chapmen, that their money is their plough. 
We may creancen 6 while we have a name, 
But goodless for to be it is no game. 
Pay it again, when it H'th in your ease; 
After my might full fain would I you please.' 






These hundred frankes set he forth anon, 13223 
And privily he took them to Dan John : 
No wight in all this world wist of this loan, 
Saving this merchant and Dan John alone. 
They drink, and speak, and roam a while and play, 
Till that Dan John rideth to his abbay. 

The morrow came, and forth this merchant rideth 
To Flanders-ward, his 'prentice well him guideth, 
Till he came in to Bruges merrily. 13231 

Now go'th this merchant fast and busily 
About his need, and buyeth, and creanceth; 1 
He neither playeth at the dice, nor danceth ; 
But as a merchant, shortly for to tell, 
He leadeth his life, and there I let him dwell. 

The Sunday next the merchant was agone, 
To Saint Denis yeomen is Dan John, 
With crown and beard all fresh and new yshave. 
In all the house there n'as so little a knave, 2 13240 
Nor no wight ellfe, that he n'as full fain, 
For that my lord Dan John was come again. 
And shortly to the point right for to gon, 
This faire wife accordeth with Dan John, 
That for these hundred francs he should all night 
Haven her in his armes bolt-upright : 
And this accord performed was indeed. 
In mirth all night a busy life they lead 
Till it was day, that Dan John yede 3 his way, 
And bade the meinie 4 * Farewell; have good day.' 
For none of them, nor no wight in the town, 13251 
Hath of Dan John right no stispectioiin ; 
And forth he rideth home to his abbay, 
Or where him list, no more of him I say. 

This merchant, when that ended was the fair, 
To Saint Denis he 'gan for to repair, 

1 Borrows. 

2 Servant- 

4 Servants. 



1 Merchan 

2 Agree 
ment for 

3 French 

4 Took. 

5 Love. 

6 Know. 

7 Company. 

8 Glad. 

And with his wife he maketh feast and cheer, 13257 

And telleth her that chafFare 1 is so dear, 

That needes must he make a chevisance, 2 

For he was bound in a recognisance, 

To payen twenty thousand shields 3 anon. 

For which this merchant is to Paris gone 

To borrow of certain friend es that he had 

A certain francs, and some with him he lad. 4 

And when that he was come into the town, 

For great chiertee 5 and great affectknin 

Unto Dan John him go'th him first to play; 

Not for to ask or borrow of him money, 

But for to weet 6 and see of his welfare, 

And for to tellen him of his chaffare, 13270 

As friendes do, when they be met in fere. 7 

Dan John him maketh feast and merry cheer; 
And he him told again full specially, 
How he had well ybought and graciously 
(Thanked be God) all whole his merchandise: 
Save that he must in alle manner wise 
Maken a chevisance, as for bis best : 
And then he shoulde be in joy and rest. 
Dan John answered, * Certes I am fain, 8 
That ye in health be comen home again: 13280 

And if that I were rich, as have I bliss, 
Of twenty thousand shields should ye not miss, 
For ye so kindely this other day 
Lente me gold, and as I can and may 
I thank e 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; 13290 



1 Journey. 

2 Expense. 

Our abbot will out of this town anon, 13291 

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 
To certain Lombards ready in their hond 
The sum of gold, and got of them his bond, 
And home he go'th, merry as a popinjay. 
For well he knew he stood in such array, 13300 

That neede's must he win in that viage 1 
A thousand francs, above all his costage. 2 

His wife full ready met him at the gate, 
As she was wont of old usage algate : 
And all that night in mirthe they been set, 
For he was rich, and clearly out of debt. 
When it was day, this merchant 'gaii embrace 
His wife all new, and kiss'd her in her face, 
And up he go'th, and maketh it full tough. 13309 
'No more/ quod 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,' quod 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 
Betwixen me and my cousin, Dan John. 
Ye should have warned me, ere I had gone, 
That he you had an hundred frankes paid 
By ready token : and held him evil apaid, 3 13320 
For that I to him spake of chevisance, 4 
(Me seemed so as by his countenance :) 
But natheless by God our heaven king, 
I thoughte not to ask of him no thing. 

J Satisfied. 

4 Borrow 








I pray thee, wife, ne do thou no more so. 
Tell me alway, ere that I from thee go, 
If any debtor hath in mine absence 
Ypaide thee, lest through thy negligence 
I might him ask a thing that he hath paid/ 

This wife was not aferde 1 nor afraid, 
But boldely she said, and that anon; 
' Mary ! I defy that false monk Dan John, 
I keep 2 not of his tokens never a del: 3 
He took me certain gold, 1 wot it well. 
What? evil thedom 4 on his monke's snout! 
For, God it wot, I ween'd withouten doubt, 
That he had given it me, because of you, 
To do therewith mine honour and my prow, 5 
For cousinage, and eke for belle chere> 
That he hath had full often times here* 
But since I see I stand in such disjoint, 
I will answer you shortly to the point. 

* Ye have more slacke debtors than am I: 
For I w r ill 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 truth, I have on mine array, 
And not in waste, bestow'd it every del. 
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; 6 
By God I n'ill not pay you but a-bed : 
Forgive it me, mine owen spouse dear; 
Turn hitherward and maketh better cheer/ 

This merchant saw there was no remedy: 
And for to chide, it n'ere but a folly, 







Since that the thing may not amended be. 13359 

* Now, wife/ he said, * and I forgive it thee ; 

But by thy life ne be no more so large ; 

Keep bet 1 my good, this give I thee in charge/ Better. 

Thus endeth now my tale, and God us send 

Taling enough, unto our lives' end. 



1 Trick. 




4 WELL said, by corpus Domini' quod our Host, 13365 

' Now longe may thou sailen by the coast, 

Thou gentle Master, gentle Marinere. 

God give the monk a thousand last quad year.* 

Aha! fellows, beware of such a jape. 1 

The monk put in the manne's hood an ape, 

And in his wife's eke, by Saint Austin. 

Draweth no monkes more into your inn. 

' But now pass over, and let us seek about, 
Who shall now tellen 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 should you not aggrieve, 
I woulde deemen, 2 that ye tellen should 
A tale next, if so were that ye would. 
Now will ye vouchesafe, my lady dear?' 

' Gladly/ quod she, and said as ye shall hear. 

* * 'A thousand last quad year :' A thousand- weight of bad years. 





LORD our Lord! thy name how marvellous issss 

Is in this large world yspread ! (quod she) 

For not all only thy laud 1 precious 

Performed is by men of dignity, 

But by the mouth of children thy bounty 

Performed is, for on the breast sucking 

Sometime showen they thine herying. 2 

Wherefore in laud, as I can best and may, 13390 
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 increasen her honour, 
For she herselven is honour and root 
Of bounty, next her son, and soule's' boot. 3 

mother maid, maid and mother free! 4 
bush unburnt, burning in Moses 1 sight, 
That ravished'st down from the deity, 
Through thine humbless, the ghost that in thee' 

alight : 

Of whose virtue, when he thine hearte light, 5 moi 
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 sometime, Lady! ere men pray to thee, 
Thou go'st before of thy benignity, 



3 Help. 

4 Bounti 

ed, glad- 







8 Young 

6 Custom 

And gettest us the light, of thy pray ere, 13409 

To gulden us unto thy son so dear. 

My conning 1 is so weak, O blissful queen, 
For to declare tlry greate worthiness, 
That I ne may the weighte not sustene ; 
But as a child of twelve month old or less, 
That can unnethes 2 any word express, 
Right so fare I, and therefore I you pray, 
Guideth my song, that I shall of you say. 

THERE was in Asia, in a great city, 
Amonges Christian folk a Jewery, 3 
Sustained by a lord of that country, 13420 

For foul usure, and lucre' of villainy, 
Hateful to Christ, and to his company : 
And through the street men mighten ride and wend, 4 
For it was freq, and open at either end. 

A little school of Christian folk there stood 
Down at the farther end, in which there were 
Children an heape 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, 13430 

As smalle children do in their childhede. 

Among these children was a widow's son, 
A little clergion, 5 seven year of age, 
That day by day to schoole was his won, 6 
And eke also, whereas 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 go'th by the way. 



Thus hath this widow her little son ytaught 
Our blissful Lady, Christe's mother dear, 13440 

To worship aye, and he forgot it naught: 
For sely 1 childe will alway soon lere. 2 
But aye, when I remember on this mattere, 
Saint Nicholas stands ever in my presence, 
For he so young to Christ did reverence. 

This little child his jittle book learning, 
As he sat in the school at his prime're, 
He Alma redemptoris hearde sing, 
As children learned their antiphonere:* 
And as he durst, he drew him nere and nere, 3 13450 
And hearken'd aye the wordes and the note, 
Till he the firste verse coude 4 all by rote. 

Nought wist he what this Latin was to say, 
For he so young and tender was of age; 
But on a day his fellow 'gan he pray 
T' expounden 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 often time upon his knees bare. 

His fellow, which that elder was than he, 13460 
Answer'd him thus : * This song, I have heard say, 
Was maked of our blissful Lady free, 
Her to salute, and eke her for to pray 
To be our help, and succour when we dey. 
I can no more expound in this matteVe : 
I learne song, I can 5 but small grammere/ 

' And is this song maked in reverence 

* ' Antiphonere :' Chanting alternate verses of the Psalms. 

1 Simple. 
i Lean, 

1 Nearer. 
* Knew. 




1 Know. 

2 Disgrac 

3 Knew. 

4 Cease. 


Of Christe's mother'?' said this innocent; 13468 

Now certes I will do my diligence 

To conne 1 it all, ere Christe'mas be went, 

Though that I for my primer shall be shent, 2 

And shall be beaten time's in an hour, 

I will it conne, our Lady for t' honour/ 

His fellow taught him homeward privily 
From day to day, till he coude 3 it by rote, 
And then he sung it well and boldely 
From word to word according with the note : 
Twies a day it passed through his throat, 
To schooleward and homeward when he went : 
On Christe's mother set was his intent. 13430 

As I have said, throughout the Jewery 
This little child as he came to and fro, 
Full merrily then would he sing and cry, 
Alma redemptoris, evermo : 
The sweetness hath his hearte pierced so 
Of Christe's mother, that to her to pray 
He cannot stint 4 of singing by the way. 

Our firste foe, the serpent Sathanas, 
That hath in Jewe's' heart his waspe's nest, 
Upswell'd and said, * Ebraike people', alas! 13490 
Is this to you a thing that is honest, 5 
That such a boy shall walken as him lest 
In your despite, and sing of such sentence, 
Which is against our lawe's reverence 1 ' 

From thennesforth the Jewes have conspired 
This innocent out of this world to chase : 
An homicide thereto have they hired, 


That in an alley had a privy place, 13498 

And as the child 'gan forthby for to pace, 
This cursed Jew him hent, 1 and held him fast, 
And cut his throat, and in a pit him cast. 

I say that in a wardrope 2 they him threw, 
Whereas these Jewes purgen their entrail. 
O cursed folk ! of Herodes all new, 
What may your evil intente you avail? 
Murder will out, certain it will not fail, 
And namely there 3 th' honour of God shall spread: 
The blood outcrieth on your cursed deed. 

martyr souded 4 in virginity, 
Now may'st thou sing, and followen ever in one 5 
The white Lamb celestial, (quod she,) 13511 

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. 

This poore widow awaiteth all that night 
After her little child, and he came nought : 
For which as soon as it was daye's light, 
With face pale of dread and busy thought, 
She hath at school and elleswhere him sought, 13520 
Till finally she 'gan so far espy, 
That he last seen was in the Jewery. 

With mother's pity in her breast enclosed 
She go'th, 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 Christe's mother meek and kind 

1 Seized. 

- Bewer. 

3 Where. 

4 Confirm 

5 Continu- 



1 Asketh. 

8 Where. 




She cried, and at the laste thus she wrought, 13528 
Among the cursed Jewe's she him sought. 

She freyneth, 1 and she prayeth piteously 
To every Jew that dwell'd in thilke place, 
To tell her, if her child went ought f orthby : 
They saiden, Nay ; but Jesu of his grace 
Gave in her thought, within a little space, 
That in that place after her son she cried, 
There 2 he was casten in a pit beside. 

greate' God, that performest thy laud 
By mouth of innocents, lo here thy might! 
This gem of chastity, this emeraud, 
And eke of martyrdom the ruby bright, 13540 

There he with throat ycorven 3 lay upright, 
Pie Alma redemptoris 'gan to sing 
So loud, that all the place 'gan to ring. 

The Christian folk, that through the streete w^ent, 
In comen, for to wonder upon this thing; 
And hastily they for the provost sent, 
He came anon withouten tarrying, 
And herieth 4 Christ, that is of heaven king, 
And eke his mother, honour of mankind, 
And after that the Jewe's let he bind. 13550 

This child with piteous lamentation 
Was taken up, singing his song alway : 
And with honoiir and great procession, 
They carrien him unto the next abbay. 
His mother swooning by the biere lay; 
Unnethes 5 might the people that was there 
This newe Rachel bringen from his bier. 



With torment, and with shameful death each one 
The provost doth 1 these Jewes for to sterve, 2 13559 
That of this murder wist, 3 and that anon ; 
He n'olde 4 no such cursedness observe : 
Evil shall he have, that evil will deserve. 
Therefore with wilde horse he did them draw, 
And after that he hung them by the law. 

Upon his bier aye li'th this innocent 
Before the altar while the masse last: 
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 sprent 5 was th' holy 

And sang, Alma redemptoris mater! 13570 

This abbot, which that was an holy man, 
As monkes be, or elles ought to be, 
This younge child to conjure he began, 
And said; * deare child! I halse 6 thee 
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 neck^-borie/ 
Saide this child, * and as by way of kind 7 issso 

I should have died, yea longe time agone ; 
But Jesus Christ, as ye in booked find, 
Will that his glory last and be in mind, 
And for the worship of his mother dear, 
Yet may I sing Alma loud and clear. 

'This well 8 of mercy, Christe's mother sweet, 

1 Causeth. 


8 Sprink 

' Implore. 





1 Know 

2 Leave. 

3 Bounti 


6 Flat. 
6 Level. 


9 Grant. 

I loved alway, as after my conning: 1 isssr 

And when that I my life should forlete, 2 

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, 

Methought she laid a grain upon my tongue. 

' Wherefore I sing, and sing I must certain 
In honour of that blissful maiden free, 3 
Till from my tongue off taken is the grain. 
And after that thus saide she to me; 
" My little child, then will I f etchen thee, 
When that the grain is from thy tongue ytake: 
Be not aghast, I will thee not for sake. "' 

This holy monk, this abbot him mean I, iseoo 
His tongue outcaught, and took away the 


And he gave up the ghost full softely. 
And when this abbot had this wonder sein, 4 
His salte teares trill'd adown as rain : 
And groff 5 he fell all plat 6 upon the ground, 
And still he lay, as he had been ybound. 

The convent lay eke on the pavement 
Weeping and herying 7 Christ's mother dear. 
And after that they risen, and forth been went, 
And took away this martyr from his bier, iscio 
And in a tomb of marble stones clear 
Enclosen they his little body sweet : 
There 8 he is now, God lene 9 us for to meet. 

younge Hugh of Lincoln! slain also 
With cursed Jewes, as it is notable, 


For it n'is but a little while ago, 
Pray eke for us, we sinful folk unstable, 
That of his mercy God so merciable 
On us his greate mercy multiply, 
For reverence of his mother Mary. 

VOL. n. 




VER. 5583. I have already given my reasons for following the 
best MSS. in placing this prologue of the Wife of Bath next to 
the Man of Law's tale. (< Discourse,' &c., XVI.) The want of 
a few verses to connect this prologue with the preceding tale 
was perceived long ago ; and the defect was attempted to be 
supplied by the author of the following lines, which, in MS. B., 
are prefixed to the common Prologue : 

{ Oure cost gan tho to loke up anon. 
Code men, quod he, herkeneth everichone, 
As evere mote I drynke wyn or ale, 
This marchant hath itold a mery tale, 
Howe Januarie hadde a lither jape, 
His wyf put in his hood an ape. 
But hereof I wil leve off as now. 
Dame wyf of Bathe, quod he, I pray you 
Telle us a tale now nexte after this. 
Sir cost, quod she, so god my soule blis, 
As I fully thereto wil consente, 
And also it is myn hole entente, 
To done yow alle disporte as that I can. 
But holde me excused ; I am a woman. 
I can not reherse as these clerkes kune. <r 

And riyt anon she hath hir tale bygunne. 

Experience,' &c. 

The same lines are in MSS. Bod. and f. I print., them here, 
in order to justify myself for not inserting them in the text. 


Ver. 5626. ' I have wedded five : ' After this verse, the six 
following are in MSS. C. 1, HA., C. 2, and in Edit. Ca. 2 : 

' Of whiche I have pyked out the beste 
Bothe of here nether purs and of here cheste. 
Diverse scoles maken parfyt clerkes, 
And diverse practyk in many sondry werkes 
Maken the werkman parfyt sekirly : 
Of five husbondes scoleryng am I, 
Welcome the sixthe,' &c. 

If these lines are not Chaucer's, they are certainly more in 
his manner than the generality of the imitations of him. Per 
haps he wrote them, and afterwards blotted them out. They 
come in but awkwardly here, and he has used the principal idea 
; jn another place. (Merch. T., ver. 9301.) 

Ver. 5657. 'The dart is set:' See 'Lydg. Boc.,' fol. xxvi. : 

* And oft it happeneth, he that hath best ron 
Doth not the spere like his desert possede.' 

Ver. 5677. 'I grant it well, I have none envy, 

Though maidenhead prefer bigamy:* 

So these two verses stand, without any material difference, in all 
the MSS. If they are right, we must understand l prefer ' to 
signify the same as ' be preferred to.' Knowing no example of 
such a construction, I have ventured at an alteration of the text. 
It might have been as well, perhaps, to have left the first line 
untouched, and to have corrected the second only thus : 

' Though maidenhead be preferr'd to bigamy.' 

Ver. 5681. ' A lord in his household:' See 2 Tim. ii. 20. 

Ver. 5764. < Writeth Ptolemy:' In the margin of MS. C. 1, 
is the following quotation : ' Qui per alios non corrigitur, alii 
per ipsum corrigentur.' But I cannot find any such passage in 
the 'Almageste.' I. suspect that the Wife of Bath's copy of 
Ptolemy was very different from any that I have been able to 
meet with. (See another quotation from him, ver. 5906.) 

Ver. 5799. 'The bacon at Dunmow:' See Blount's 'Ant. 
Tenures,' p. 162, and ' P. P.,' 446. This whimsical institution 
was not peculiar to Dunmow. There was the same in Bretagne. 
' A 1' Abbaie Sainct Melaine, pres Eennes, y a, plus de six cens 


ans sont, un coste* de lard encore tout frais et non corrorapu ; et 
neantmoins voue* et ordonne" aux premiers, qui par an et jour 
ensemble mariez ont vescu san debat, grondement, et sans s'en 
repentir.' (< Contes d'Eutrap.,' t. ii. p. 161.) 

Yer. 5810. ' Swearen and Hen : ' < Rom. de la R.,' ver. 19013: 

' Car plus hardiment que nulz horns 
Certainement jurent et mentent.' 

Ver. 5811. (' I say not this : ') This parenthesis seems to be 
rather belonging to Chaucer himself than to the Wife of Bath. 

Ver. 5814. ' Shall bearen them on hand:' ' Shall make them 
believe falsely,' the cow is ' wood.' The latter words may either 
signify that the cow is ' mad,' or ' made of wood.' Which of 
the two is the preferable interpretation, it will be safest not to 
determine, till we can discover the old story to which this phrase 
seems to be a proverbial allusion. 

Ver. 5817. < Sir old Kaynard:' 'Cagnard,' or 'Caignard,' 
was a French term of reproach, which seems to have been 
originally derived from < Canis.' (Menage, in v.) In the fol 
lowing speech it would be endless to produce all Chaucer's 
imitations. The beginning is from the fragment of Theophras- 
tus, quoted by St Jerome, c., Jovin., 1. i., and by John of 
Salisbury, ' Polycrat.,' 1. viii. c. xi. (See also ' Rom. de la R.,' 
ver. 8967, et suiv. 

Ver. 5882. Chamberere : ' A chamber-maid, Fr. (See 8695, 

* Son varlet et sa chamberiere, 
Aussi sa seur et sa nourrice 
Et sa mere, si moult n'est nice.' 

(< Rom. de la R.,' 14480.) 

Ver. 5923. <In the apostle's name :' See 1 Tim. ii. 9. 

Ver. 6042. ' Metellius : ' This story is told by Pliny ('Nat. 
Hist.' 1. xiv. c. 13.) of one Mecenius ; but Chaucer probably 
followed Valerius Maximus, (1. vi. c. 3.) 

Ver. 6049. 'In woman vinolent: r 'Rom. de la R.,' 14222. 

*"Car puisque femme est enyvre'e 
El n'a point en soy de deffence.' 

Ver. 6065. 'Saint Joce,' or Josse: Sanctus Judocus was a 


saint of Ponthieu. ('Vocab. Hagiol.,' prefixed to Menage, 
'Etymol. Fr,') 
Ver. 6137. < Visitations :' <Eom. de la E.,' 12492: 

' Souvent voise a la mere Eglise, 
.Et f ace visitations 
Aux nopces, aux processions, 
Aux jeux, aux festes, aux caroles.' 

Ver. 6151. 'Bobance:' ( Boasting,' c pride/ Fr. ; c en orgueil 
et en bobans.' (Froissart, v. iv. c. 70.) In the Editt. it is ' bos- 
tance.' The thought in ihe next lines is taken from l Eom. de 
la E./ 13914: 

1 Moult a souris povre recours, 
Et met en grand peril la druge, 
Qui n'a qu'ung partuys a refuge.' 

Ver. 6191-6194. These four lines are wanting in MSS. A., 
Ask. 1, 2, and several others. And so are the eight lines from 
ver. 6201 to ver. 6208, inclusive. They certainly might very 
-well be spared. 

Ver. 6216. ' With his fist :' MS. A. reads, ' on the lyste; ' and 
so does Ed. Ca. 2, with the addition of (what was at first a 
marginal gloss) l on the eheke.' In support of this reading it 
may be observed, that Sir Thomas More, among many Chau 
cerian phrases, has this, in his ' Merry Jest of a Sergeant,' &c.: 

' And with his fist 
Upon the lyst 

He gave him such a blow.' 

Ver. 6227. i Open-headed :' This is literally from Val. Max., 
1. vi. c. 3, ' uxorem dimisit, quod earn capite aperto foris versa- 
tam cognoverat.' He gives the reason of this severity: 'Lex 
enim tibi meos tantum praefinit oculos, quibus formam tuam ap- 
probes. His decoris instrumenta compara : his esto speciosa,' &c. 

Ver. 6230. *A summer-game:' This expression, I suppose, 
took its rise from the summer being the usual season for games. 
It is used in < P. P.,' fol. xxvii. : 

' I have lever here an harlotry, or a somers game.' 

This story is also from Val. Max., 1. vi. c. 3. P. Sempronius 
Sophus ' conjugem repudii not& affecit, nihil aliud quam se ig- 
norante ludos ausam spectare. 


Ver. 6253. ' Valerie, and Theophrast : ' Some account has been 
given of these two treatises in the < Discourse,' &c., note * p. cxx. 
As to the rest of the contents of this volume, ' Hieronymus' (' Con 
tra Jovinianum,') and i Tertullian' (' De Pallio ') are sufficiently 
known; and so are the Letters of Eloisa and Abelard, the Parables 
of Solomon, and Ovid's ' Art of Love.' I know of no * Trotula' 
but one, whose book, 'Curandarum jEgritudinum Muliebrium 
ante, in, et post Partum,' is printed 'int. Medicos Antiquos,' 
Ven. 1547. What is meant by ' Chrysippus ' I cannot guess. 

Ver. 6258. ' Which book was there : ' I have here departed 
from the MSS., which all read, * In which book there was eke/ 
Perhaps, however, it might be sufficient to put a full stop after 
6 Jovinian.' 

Ver. 6284. ' Exaltation : ' In the old astrology, a planet was 
said to be in its exaltation, when it was in that sign of the 
zodiac in which it was supposed to exert its strongest influence. 
The opposite sign was called its dejection, as in that it was 
supposed to be weakest. To take the instance in the text, the 
exaltation of Venus was in Pisces, (see also ver. 10587,) and her 
dejection, of course, in Virgo. But in Virgo was the exaltation 
of Mercury. 

* She is the welthe and the rysynge 
The lust the joy and the lykynge 
Unto Mercury.' 

(Gower, ' Conf. Am.' 1. vii. fol. 147.) So in ver. 10098, Cancer 
is called * Jove's exaltation.' 

Ver. 6303. ' Then read he : ' Most of the following instances 
are mentioned in the 'Epistola Valerii ad Kufinum de non 
Ducenda Uxore.' See also 'Bom. de la R.,' 9140, 9615, et 

Ver. 6329. 'Of Lima and of Lucie:' In the 'Epistola Valerii,' 
&c., (MS. Reg. 12, D. iii.,) the story is told thus : l Luna virum 
suum interfecit quern nimis odivit: Lucilia suum quern nimis 
amavit. Ilia sponte miscuit aconita: hsec decepta furorem 
propinavit pro amoris poculo.' l Lima ' and ' Luna ' in many 
MSS. are only distinguishable by a small stroke over the ' i,' 
which may be easily overlooked where it is, and supposed where 
it is not. 


Ver. 6339. < Latumeus : ' In MSS. Ask. 1, 2, it is < Latynius ; ' 

in the l Epistola Valerii,' just cited, * Pavorinus flens ait Arrio.' 

Ver. 6355. l Mo proverbs : ' For the following aphorisms see 

Prov. xx. 9, 19, xi. 22. The observation in ver. 6364 is in 

Herodotus (B. i. p. 5, Ed. Wesseling). 

Ver. 6414. < The Sompnour heard the Friar gale : ' The same 
word occurs below, ver. 6918, l and let the Sompnour gale.' 
In both places it seems to be used metaphorically. l Galan,' 
Sax., signifies ' canere.' It is used literally in the l Court of 
Love,' ver. 1357, where the nightingale is said 'to cry and 
gale.' Hence its name, t Nightegale,' or * Nightengale.' In the 
Iceland., 'at gala' is 'ululare, Galli more exclamare;' and 
'Hana gal;' l Gallicinium.' (Gudm. And. Lex. Iceland.) 

Ver. 6439. ' King Artour : ' I hope that Chaucer, by placing 
his elf-queen l in the days of King Artour,' did not mean to 
intimate that the two monarchies were equally fabulous and vision 
ary. Master Wace has judged more candidly of the exploits of 
our British hero : 

( Ne tut mensonge, ne tut veir ; 
Ne tut folie, ne tut saveir. 
Tant unt li conteor cont6, 
E li fableor tant fable", 
Pur les contes enbelecer, 
Ke tut unt fait fable sembler.' 

Le Brut. MS. Cotton., Vitell. A. 7. 

Ver. 6441. ' Faerie:' 'Feerie,' Fr., from <Fe'e,' the French 
name for those fantastical beings which in the Gothic languages 
are called ' alfs,' or ' elves.' The corresponding names to t Fee,' 
in the other Romance dialects, are ' Fata,' Ital., and l Hada,' 
Span. ; so that it is probable that all three are derived from the 
Lat. l Fatum,' which, in the barbarous ages, was corrupted into 
' Fatus' and 'Fata. 1 (See Menage, in v. 'Fee;' Du Cange, in 
v. < Fadus.') 

Our system of faerie would have been much more complete, 
if all our ancient writers had taken the same laudable pains to 
inform us upon that head, that Gervase of Tilbery has done. 
(<0t. Imp. Dec.' iii. c. 61, 62.) He mentions two species of 
daemons in England, which I do not recollect to have met with 
in any other author. The first are those, ' quos Galli Neptunos, 


Angli Fortunes nominant.' Of the others he says <Est in 
Anglia quoddara daemonum genus, quod suo idiomate Grant 
nominant, adinstar pulli equini anniculi, tibiis erectum, oculis 
scintillantibus,' &c. 

This last seems to have been a daemon sui generis, but the 
1 portunus' appears to have resembled the ' gobelin,' as described 
by Orderic, < Vital.,' 1. v. p. 556. Speaking of the miracles of St 
Taurinus at Evreux in Normandy, he says, ' Daemon enim, quern 
de Dianae phario expulit, adhuc in eadem urbe degit, et in variis 
frequenter formis apparens neminem laedit. Hunc vulgus " Go- 
belinum " * appellat, et per merita Sancti Taurini ab humana 
laesione coercitum usque hodie affirmat.' 

In the same manner Gervase says of the ' portuni : ' c Id illis 
insitum est, ut obsequi possint et obesse non possint.' He adds 
indeed an exception : l Verum unicum quasi modulum nocendi 
habent. Cum enim inter ambiguas noctis tenebras Angli soli- 
tarii quandoque equitant, Portunus nonnunquam invisus equitanti 
se copulat, et cum diutius comitatur euntem, tandem loris arreptis 
equum in lutum ad manum ducit, in quo dum infixus volutatur, 
Portunus exiens cachinnum facit, et sic hujuscemodi ludibrio 
humanam simplicitatem deridet.' This is exactly such a prank 
as our ' Hob,' or f Hop, goblin ' was used to play. (See the 
* Midsummer Night's Dream/ Act 2, Scene 1 j and Drayton's 
< Nymphidia.') f 

It should be observed, that the ' portuni,' according to Gervase, 
were of the true faery size, ' statura pusilli, dimidium pollicis non 
habentes.' But then, indeed, they were i senili vultu, facie cor- 
rugataV In ' Dec.,' i. c. 18, he describes another species of harm 
less daemons, called < folleti ; ' l esprits follets,' Fr.; < foletti,' Ital. 

The l incubus ' mentioned below, (ver. 6462,) was a faery of 
not quite so harmless a nature. He succeeded to the ancient 

* Gobelinum, v. Du Cange, Gloss. Gr. v. Ko$oAot. 

t I shall here correct a mistake of my own in the * Discourse,' &c., note * 
p. cxxv. I have supposed that Shakspeare might have followed Drayton in 
his Faery system. I have since observed that ' Don Quixote,' which was not 
published till 1605, is cited in the ' Nymphidia,' whereas we have an edition 
of the Midsummer Night's Dream' in 1600. So that Drayton undoubtedly 
followed Shakspeare. 


* fauni,' and like them was supposed to inflict that oppression, 
which goes under the name of the ' ephialtes,' or ' nightmare.' 
Pliny calls the ephialtes i faunorum in quiete ludibria,' (< N. H.,' 1. 
25. x.) The l incubus/ however, as Chaucer insinuates, exerted 
his powers for love as well as for hate. Grervas. Tilber. < Dec.,' 
i. c. 17 : i Vidimus quosdam Dsemones tanto zelo mulieres amare 
quod ad inaudita prorumpunt ludibria, et cum ad concubi- 
tum earum accedunt mir& mole eas opprimunt, nee ab aliis 

Ver. 6457. l Undermeals : ' The undermeal, i.e., 'undern-mele,' 
was the dinner of our ancestors. (See the note on ver. 8136.) 

Yer. 6466. * Came riding fro river : ' or, i fro the river,' as it 
is in some MSS. It means 'from hawking at water-fowl.' 
Froissart, v. i. c. 140 f Le Comtede Flandres estoit tousjours en 
riviere un jour advint qu'il alia voller en la riviere et getta 
son fauconnier un faucon apres le heron, et le Comte aussi un.' 
So, in c. 210, he says, that Edward III. had with him in his 
army 'trente fauconniers a cheval, chargez d'oiseaux, et bien 
soixante couples de forts chiens et autant de levriers: dont il 
alloit, chacun jour, ou en chace ou en riviere, ainsi que il luy 
plaisoit.' Sir Thopas is described as following this knightly 
sport, ver. 13665 : 

* He coude hunte at the wilde dere, 
And ride on haukrng for the rivere 

With grey goshauk on honde.' 

Ver. 6710. 'Full seld up riseth:' Dante, <Purg. ; ' vii. 121: 

* Hade volte risurge per li rami 

L' hum aria probitate : et questo vuole 
Quei che la da, perche da se si chiaini.' 

Ver. 6741. l For gentilless : ' A great deal of this reasoning is 
copied from Boethius, ' De Consol.,' L iii. Pr, 6. See also < K. 
K./ 2184, et seq. : 

* For villanie maketh villoine, 

And by his dedes a chorle is seine,' &c. 

Ver. 6777. l Poverty is hateful good : ' In this commendation 
of poverty, our author seems plainly to have had in view the 
following passage of a fabulous conference between the Emperor 


Adrian and Secundus the philosopher, reported by Vincent of 
Beauvais (' Spec. Histor.' 1. x. c. 71): ' Quid est Paupertas? 
Odibile bonum; sanitatis mater; remotio curarum; sapientiae 
repertrix; negotium sine damno; possessk) absque calumnia; 
sine sollicitudine felicitas.' What Vincent has there published 
appears to have been extracted from a larger collection of 
1 Gnomse' under the name of Secundus, which are still extant in 
Greek and Latin. (See Fabric. * Bib. Gr., 1 1. vi. c. x.; and MS. 
Harl. 399.) The author of l Pierce Ploughman' has quoted and 
paraphrased the same passage, fol. 75. 

Ver. 6781. i Elenge : ' l Strange ;' probably from the old Fr. 
1 esloingneV So in l The Cuckow and Nightingale,' ver. 115 : 

1 Thy songes ben so elenge in good fay.' 
And in l P. P.,' fol. 3. b.: 

* Where the cat is a kiten, the court is full elenge.' 
See also fol. 46. b. 

Ver. 6797. 'For filth, and eld also, so : ' Though none of the 
MSS. that I have seen authorise the insertion of the second l so,' 
it seems absolutely necessary. 

Ver. 6858. c Auctoritees : ' ' Auctoritas ' was the usual word 
for what we call a 'text' of Scripture. MS. Harl. 106, 10: <Ex- 
positio auctoritatis, Majus gaudium super uno peccatore.' Ibid. 
21, 'Expositio auctoritatis, Stetit populus de longe,' &c. 

Ver. 6931. < The nale : ' The ale-house. < P. P.,' fol. 32. b. : 

' And than sat ten some and songe at the nale.' 

Skinner supposes it to be a corruption of ' inn-ale,' which is not 

Ver. 6959. 'An old ribibe:' He calls her below (ver. 7155) 
an ' old rebeck.' They were both names for the same musical 
instrument. See Menage, in v. 'Rebec.' 'Ribeba,' in the 
' Decameron J (ix. 5), is rendered by Ma9on, the old French 
translator, ' rebec ' and ' guiterne.' Chaucer uses also the dimi 
nutive 'ribible,' (ver. 3331, 4395.) How this instrument came 
to be put for an old woman, I cannot guess, unless perhaps from its 
shrillness. An old writer, quoted by Du Cange, in v. ' Baudosa,' 
has the following lines in his description of a concert : 
' Quidam rebeccam arcuabant 
Muliebrem vocem confingentes.' 


Ver. 6990. * Wariangles : ' I have nothing to say either in re 
futation or support of Mr Speght's explanation of this word, 
" A kind of birds full of noise, and very ravenous, preying upon 
others, which, when they have taken, they use to hang upon a 
thorne or pricke, and teare them in peeces, and devour them. 
And the common opinion is, that the thorne, whereupon they thus 
fasten them and eat them, is afterward poisonsome. In Stafford 
shire and Shropshire the name is common,' except that Cotgrave, 
in his ' Fr. Diet,,' explains l arneat ' to signify i The ravenous 
bird called a shrike, nynmurder, wariangle.' 

Ver. 7018. l Too heavy or too hot : ' We have nearly the same 
expression in Froissart, (v. i. c, 229,) 'Ne laissoient riens a 
prendre, s'il n'estoit trop chaud, trop froid, ou. trop pesant.' 

Ver. 7092, < As to the Pythoness did Samuel:' So MS. A. 
The Editt. read 

* As the Phitonesse did to Samuel ;' 

which is certainly wrong. (See 1 Sam. xxvii.) Our author uses 
< Phitonesse' for 'Pythonesse' (<H. F.,' iii. 171). And so does 
Gower ( < Conf, Amant.,' fol. 140) : 

* The Phitonesse in Samary.- 

Ver. 7145. c Liard : ' A common appellative for a horse, from 
its gray colour, as ' bayard' was from 'bay.' (See before, ver. 
4113.) < P. P.,' fol. 92: 

' He lyght downe of liarde and ladde him in his hand.' 
Bp. Douglas, in his Virgil, usually puts l liart ' for l albus,' 
1 incanus,' &c. 

Ver. 7164. < Thou olde very trate : ' So MSS.-C. 1, Ask. 1, 2, 
and Ed. Ca. 2. The later Editt. read < viritrate ' in one word. 
We may suppose l trate ' to be used for ' trot,' a common term for 
an old woman. Keysler ( l Antiq. Sept.' p. 503) refers it to the 
same original with the German l drud,' or l drut ;' * Saga.' 

Ver. 7269. * And now hath Sathanas, saith he : ' So MSS. C. 
1, Ask. 1, 2. I have put these two lines in a parenthesis, as 
1 he ' refers to the narrator, the Sompnour. 

Ver. 7277. 'A twenty thousand:' I have added l A' for the 
sake of the verse. Chaucer frequently prefixes it to nouns of 
number. See ver. 10697 : 

And up they risen, wel a ten or twelve.' 


Ver. 7299. ' To trentals : ' ' Un trentel,' Fr., was a service of 
thirty masses, which were usually celebrated upon as many dif 
ferent days, for the dead. (Du Cange, in v. l Trentale.') 

Ver. 7327. l Askaunce that he woulde for them pray : ' The 
Glossary interprets ' ascaunce ' to mean ' askew, aside, sideways ; 
in a side view ; ' upon what authority I know not It will be 
better to examine the other passages in which the same word 
occurs, before we determine the sense of it. See ver. 16306 : 

1 Ascaunce that craft is so light to lere.' 

1 Ascaunce, lo ! is this not wisely spoken ? * 
Ibid., 292 :- 

' Ascaunce, what, may I not stonden here ? ' 
<Lydg. Trag.,'fol. 136, b :- 

' Ascaunce I am of maners most chaungeable.' 

In the first and last instance, as well as in the text, ' ascaunce' 
seems to signify simply l as if;' l quasi.' In the two others it 
signifies a little more ; ' as if to say.' This latter signification 
may be clearly established from the third line, which, in the 
Italian original, ('Filostrato di Boccaccio,' 1. i.,) stands thus: 
' Quasi dicesse, e no ci si puo stare ?' 

So that 'ascaunce' is there equivalent to t quasi dicesse' in 

As to the etymology of this word, I must confess myself more 
at a loss. I observe, however, that one of a similar form in the 
Teutonic has a similiar signification. ' Als-kacks ;' ' Quasi, quasi 
vero,' Kilian. Our 'as' is the same with *als,' Teut. and Sax. 
It is only a further corruption of <al so.' Perhaps, therefore, 
1 ascaunce ' may have been originally f als-kansse.' l Kansse ' 
in Teut. is l chance,' Fr. and Eng. 

I will just add, that this very rare phrase was also used, as I 
suspect, by the author of the t Continuation of the Canterbury 
Tales,' first printed by Mr Urry (Prol., ver. 361) : 

' And al ascaunce she loved him wel, she toke him by the swere.' 

It is printed l a staunce.' 

Ver. 7329. <A Godde's kichel:' 'It was called a "Godde's 


kichel," because godfathers and godmothers used commonly to 
give one of them to their godchildren, when they asked blessing.' 
(Sp.) And so we are to suppose a i Godde's halfpenny/ in ver. 
7331, was called for the same reason, &c. But this is all gratis 
dictum, I believe. The phrase is French, and the true meaning 
of it is explained by M. de la Monnoye in a note upon the 
'Contesde B. D. Periers' (t. ii. p. 107): ( Belle serrure de 
Dieu :' i Expression du petit peuple, qui raporte pieusement tout 
a Dieu. Eien n'est plus commun dans la bouche des bonnes 
vieilles, que ces especes d'Hebrai'smes : II m'en coute un bel ecu 
de Dieu ; II ne me reste que ce pauvre enfant de Dieu ; Doriez 
moi une benite aumone de Dieu.' 

Ver. 7442. < Fifty year:' See Du Cange, in v. < Sempectse.' 
Peculiar honours and immunities were granted by the Rule of 
St Benedict to those monks, l qui quinquaginta annos in ordine 
exegerant, quos annum jubilseum exegisse vulgo dicimus.' It is 
probable that some similar regulation obtained in the other 

Ver. 7488. l Mendicants :' In MS. A, it is i mendinants/ both 
here and below, (ver. 7494,) which reading, though not agreeable 
to analogy, is perhaps the true one, as I find the word constantly 
so spelled in the Stat. 12 R. II., c. 7-10. 

Ver. 7511. 'Jovinian:' Against whom St Jerome wrote; or, 
perhaps, the supposed emperor of that name in the ' Gesta Roma- 
norum,' (c. lix.,) whose story was wo-rked up into a Morality, 
under the title of 'L'orgueil et pre'somption de FEmpereur 
Jovinien a 19 personages.' It was printed at Lyons, 1581, 
8vo, ' sur une vieille copied (Du Verdier, in v. l Jovinien.') 
The same story is told of a e Robert, King of Sicily,' in an old 
English poem. (MS. Harl. 1701.) Mr Warton has given large 
extracts from an Oxford MS., as I suppose, of the same poem. 
(< Hist, of Eng. Po.,' p. 184.) 

Ver. 7514. 'Of full great reverence:' The Editt. have changed 
this to <ful litel;' but the reading of the MSS. may stand, if it 
be understood ironically. 

Ver. 7600. 'As saith Senec:' This story is told by Seneca, 
( l De Ira,' 1. i. c. xvi.) of Cn. Piso. It is also told of an Emperor 
Eraclius, (^ Gesta Romanorum,' cap. cxi.) 


Ver. 7625. ' Irous Cambyses : ' This story is also in Seneca, 
(1. iii. c. xiv.) It differs a little from one in Herodotus, (1. iii.) 

Ver. 7657. 'Singeth Placebo;' The allusion is to an anthem 
in the Romish Church, from Psalm cxvi. 9, which in the Vulgate 
stands thus : l Placebo Domino in regione vivorum.' Hence the 
complacent brother in the ' Merchant's Tale' is called l Placebo/ 

Ver. 7662. 'The river of Gisen:' It is called 'Gyndes' in 
Seneca (lib. cit. c. xxi.) ; and in Herodotus, (1. i.) 

Ver. 7666. ' That women:* So the best MSS., agreeably to 
the authors just quoted. The Editt. have 

' That men might ride and wade,' &c. 

Sir J. Mandeville tells the story of the Euphrates : l Because 
that he had sworn, that he sholde putte the ryvere in suche 
poynt, that a womman myghte wel passe there, withouten 
castynge of of hire clothes. 7 (P. 49.) 

Ver. 7710. 'The letter of our seal:' There is a letter of this 
kind in Stevens (' Supp. to Dugd.,' vol. ii. App. p. 370) : 
'Fratres Praedicatores, Warwiec. admittunt Thomam Cannings 
et uxorem ejus Agnetem ad participationem omnium bonorum 
operum conventus ejusdem.' It is under seal of the Prior, 4 
Non. Octob. An. Dom. 1347. 

Ver. 7740. The remainder of this tale is omitted in MSS. B., 
G., and Bod. /&, and instead of it they give us the following 
' lame and impotent conclusion : ' 

' He ne had nozt ellis for his sermon 
To part among his brethren when he cam home. 
And thus is this tale idon. 
For we were almost att the toun.' 

I only mention this to shew what liberties some copyists have 
taken with our author. 

Ver. 7879. t Were new spoused:' It has been observed in note 
upon ver. 812, that Chaucer frequently omits the governing pro 
noun before his verbs. The instances there cited were of per 
sonal pronouns. In this line, and some others, which I shall 
point out here, the relatives ' who ' or l which ' are omitted in the 
same manner. (See ver. 7411, 13035, 16049.) 

Ver. 7910. 'Lynyan,' or 'Linian:' The person meant was an 
eminent lawyer, and made a great noise, as we say, in his time. 


His name of late has been so little known, that I believe nobody 
has been angry with the Editt. for calling him i Livian.' There 
is some account of him in Panzirolus (' De Cl. Leg. Interpret.' 
1. iii. c. xxv.) : i Joannes, a Lignano, agri Mediolanensis vico, 
oriundus, et ob id Lignanus dictus,' &c. One of his works, 
entitled, i Tractatus de Bello,' is extant in MS. Reg., 13, B. ix. 
He compiled it at Bologna in the year 1360. 

He was not, however, a mere lawyer. Chaucer speaks of him 
as excelling also ' in philosophy ; ' and so does his epitaph (Ap. 
Panzirol., 1. c.) : 

'Gloria Lignani, titulo decoratus utroque, 

Legibus et sacro Canone dives erat, 
Alter Aristoteles, Hippocras erat et Ptolomseus.' 

The only specimen of his philosophy that I have met with is 
in MS. HarL, 1006. It is an astrological work, entitled, < Con- 
clusiones Judicii composite per Domnum Johannem de Lyviano 
(1. Lyniano) super coronacione Domrii Urbani Pape VI. A.D. 
1378, xviii. April, &c., cum Diagrammate.' He also supported 
the election of Urban as a lawyer. (Panzirol., 1. c. et i Annal. 
Eccles.' a Raynaldo, torn, xvii.) He must, therefore, have lived 
at least to 1378, though in the printed epitaph he is said to have 
died in 1368, xvi. Febr. 

Ver. 7927. 'To Emily-ward:' One of the regions of Italy 
was called ^Emilia, from the Via ^Emilia, which crossed it from 
Placentia to Rimini. Placentia stood upon the Po. ('Pitisc. 
Lex. Ant. Rom.,' in v. * Via ^Emilia.') Petrarch's description of 
this part of the course of the Po is a little different. He speaks 
of it as dividing the .ZEmilian and Flaminian regions from 
Venice 'jEmiliam atque Flaminiam Venetiamque discrimi- 
nans.' But our author's i Emily ' is plainly taken from him. 

As the following tale is almost wholly translated from Petrarch, 
(see the * Discourse,' &c., XX.,) it would be endless to cite 
particular passages from the original, especially as it is printed 
in all the editions of Petrarch's works. It is there entitled, l De 
obedientia et fide uxoria Mythologia.' 

Ver. 8136. i The time of undern : ' The Glossary explains 
this rightly to mean l the third hour of the day, or nine of the 


clock.' In ver. 8857, where this word is used again, the original 
has 'hora tertia.' In this place it has 'hora prandii.' From 
whence we may collect that in Chaucer's time the ' third hour/ 
or * undern/ was the usual hour of dinner. 

I have never met with any etymology of this word ' undern/ 
but the following passage might lead one to suspect that it had 
some reference to ' undernoon.' * In the town-book belonging to 
the corporation of Stanford, 28 E. IV., it is ordeyned, that no 
person opyn tlier sack, or set ther corn to sale afore hour of ten 
of the bell, or els the undernone bell be rongyn.' (Peck's 
1 Desid. Cur./ vol. i. b. vi. p. 36.) In the Icelandic Diet. ' ond- 
verne ' is rendered l mane diei.' 

Ver. 8258. 'Full of nouches:' The common reading is 
1 ouches ; ' but I have retained the reading of the best MSS., as 
it may possibly assist somebody to discover the meaning of the 
word. I observe, too, that it is so written in the inventory of 
the effects of Henry V. (' Rot. Parl./ 2 H. VI. n. 31) : ' Item 6 
Broches et nouches d'or garniz de divers garnades pois 31 d d'or 
pris 35V 

Ver. 8466. ' Of Pavie : ' When the text of this tale was printed, 
I had not sufficiently adverted to the reading of the best MSS. 
which is uniformly l Pauik.' I have little doubt that it should 
be l Panik ' both here and below, (ver. 8640, 8814,) as in Petrarch 
the Marquis's sister is said to be married to the Count de Panico. 
In Boccaccio it is ' de Panago.' 

Ver. 8614. 'His message:' His 'messenger.' (See below, 
ver. 8823.) ' Message ' was commonly used for l messager ' by 
the French Poets. (Du Cange, in v. l Messagarius.') 

Ver. 8915. 'As ye have do mo:' For 'me.' This is one of 
the most licentious corruptions of orthography that I remember 
to have observed in Chaucer. All that can be said in excuse of 
him is, that the old poets of other countries have not been more 
scrupulous. Quadrio has a long chapter (1. ii. dist. iv. cap. 
iv.) upon the licences taken by the Italian poets, and especially 
Dante, the most licentious, as he says, of them all, ' for the sake 
of rhyme.' As long a chapter might easily be filled with the 
irregularities which the old French poets committed for the same 
reason. It should seem that, while orthography was so variable, 

VOL. n. s 


as it was in all the living European languages before the inven 
tion of printing, the poets thought it generally advisable to 
sacrifice propriety of spelling to exactness of rhyming. Of the 
former offence there were but few judges ; the latter was obvious 
to the eye of every reader. 

Ver. 9064. 'Lest Chichevache : ' This excellent reading is 
restored upon the authority of the best MSS., instead of the 
common one, ' Chechiface.' The allusion is to the subject of an 
old ballad, which is still preserved in MS. Harl. (2251, fol. 270, 
b.) It is a kind of pageant, in which two beasts are introduced, 
called ' Bycorne ' and i Chichevache.' The first is supposed to 
feed upon obedient husbands, and the other upon patient wives ; 
and the humour of the piece consists in representing Bycorne as 
pampered with a superfluity of food, and Chichevache as half 

In Stowe's Catalogue of Lydgate's Works, at the end of Speght's 
Edit, of Chaucer, there is one entitled l Of two monstrous beasts 
Bicorne and Chichefache.' It is not improbable that Lydgate 
translated the ballad now extant from some older French poem, 
to which Chaucer alludes. The name of Chichevache is French ; 
' Vacca parca.' 

Ver. 9080. 'Aventail:' 'The forepart of the armour.' (Sk.) 
lie deduces it from ' avant.' But ' ventaille ' was the common 
name for that aperture in a close helmet through which the 
wearer was to breathe (Nicot, in v.) ; so that perhaps e aventaille' 
meant originally an helmet with such an aperture l un heaume 
a ventaille.' 

Ver. 9088. 'And wring and wail:' Besides the MSS. C. 1, 
Ask. 1, 2, and others, we have the authority of both Caxton's 
Editt. for concluding the Clerk's Tale in this manner. I say 
nothing of the two Editt. by Pynson, as they are mere copies of 
Caxton's second. But I must not conceal a circumstance which 
seems to contradict the supposition that the Merchant's Prologue 
followed immediately. In those same MSS. the following stanza 
is interposed : 

* This worthy Clerk whan ended was his tale, 
Our Hoste saide and swore by cockes bones, 
Me were lever than a barrel of ale 


My wif at home had herd this legend ones ; 
This is a gentil tale for the nones, 
As to my purpos, wiste ye my wille. 
But thing that wol not be, let it be stille.' 

Whatever may be thought of the genuineness of these lines, 
they can at best, in my opinion, be considered as a fragment of 
an unfinished prologue, which Chaucer might once have intended 
to place at the end of the Clerk's Tale. When he determined to 
connect that tale with the Merchant's in another manner, he may 
be supposed, notwithstanding, to have left this stanza for the 
present uncancelled in his MS. He has made use of the 
thought, and some of the lines, in the prologue which connects 
the Monk's Tale with 'Melibceus' (ver. 13895-13900). 

The two additional stanzas, which were first printed in Ed. 
Urr. from MS. F., (H. 1, in Urry's List,) and which serve to 
introduce the Franklin's Tale next to the Clerk's, are evidently, 
I think, spurious. They are not found, as I recollect, in any 
MS. except that cited by Mr Urry and MS. B. If these two 
MSS. were of much greater age and authority than they really 
are, they would weigh but little in opposition to the number 
and character of those MSS.. in which these stanzas are wanting, 
and in which the Merchant's Tale stands next to the Clerk's. 

Another proof of the spuriousness of these stanzas is, that they 
are almost entirely made up of lines taken from the prologue, 
which in this Edition, upon the authority of the best MSS., is 
prefixed to the Squire's Tale. (See below, ver. 10301.) 

Ver. 9172. <Ne take no wife:' What follows, to ver. 9180 
inclusive, is taken from the ' Liber aureolus Theophrasti de nup- 
tiis,' as quoted by Hieronymus, (' Contra Jovinianum,') and from 
thence by John of Salisbury, (' Polycrat.,' 1. viii. c. xi.) : ' Quod 
si propter dispensationem domus, et languoris solatia, et fugam 
solitudinis, ducuntur uxorcs, multo melius dispensat servus 
fidelis,' &c. ' Assidere autem aegrotanti magis possunt amici et 
vernulae beneficiis obligati quam ilia, quaB nobis imputet lachry- 
mas suas,' &c. 

Ver. 9180. 'Many a day:' After this verse, in the common 
Editt. ; are these two : 

' And if thou take to thee a wife untrew 
Full oftentime it shall thee sore rew.' 

276- NOTES ON 

In MSS. A., C., and B. a., they stand thus : 
'And if thou take a wif be wel ywar 
Of on g^ 1 which I declare ne dar.' 

In MSS. C. 1,HA.,D., thus: 

' And if thou take a wif of heye lyriage 

She shal be hauteyn and of great costage. 
In MS. B. 8. thus : 

c And if thou take a wif in thin age olde 
Ful lightly mayst thou be a cokewold.' 

In MSS. Ask. 1, 2, E., H,, B. 0., N. C,, and both Caxton's Editt, 
they are entirely omitted, and so I believe they should be. If 
any one of these couplets should be allowed to be from the hand 
of Chaucer, it can only be considered as the opening of a new 
argument, which the .author, for some reason or other, imme 
diately abandoned, and consequently would have cancelled, if he 
had lived to publish his work. 

Ver. 9236, ' Lo how that Jacob : ' The same instances are 
quoted in ' Meliboeus.' 

Ver. 9250. ( As saith Senec : ' In Marg. C. 1 : ( Sicut nihil est 
superius benigna conjuge, ita nihil est crudelius infesta muliere.' 

Ver. 9251. 'As Caton bit: ' i. <?,, biddeth. (See the note on 
ver, 187.) The line referred to is quoted in Marg, C. 1 : 

f Uxoris linguam, si frugi est, f erre memento.' 
It is in 1. iji. dist. 25. 

Ver, 9259, ' If thou lovest thyself : ' The allusion is to Ephes. 
v. 28 : ' He that loveth his wife, loveth himself.' The MSS. 
read, c If thou lovest thyself, thou lovest thy wife ; ' which, I 
think, is certainly wrong. I have printed, from conjecture only 
'love thou thy wife/ But upon reconsidering the passage, I 
think it may be brought still nearer to the apostle's doctrine by 
writing, 'Thou lovest thyself, if thou lovest thy wife.' 

Ver. 9298. ' Wade's boat : ' Upon this Mr Speght remarks, 
as follows: 'Concerning Wade and his bote called Guingelot, 
as also his straunge exploits in the same, because the matter is 
long and fabulous, I passe it over.' 'Tantamne rem tarn negli- 
genter ? ' Mr Speght probably did not foresee that posterity would 


be as much obliged to him for a little of this * fabulous matter '' 
concerning t Wade and his bote, 7 as for the gravest of his anno 
tations. The story of Wade is mentioned again by our author 
in his < Troilus ' (iii. 615) : 

* He songe, she playede, he tolde a tale of Wade.' 
It is there put proverbially for any romantic history; but the 
allusion in the present passage to ' Wade's boat ' can hardly be 
explained, without a more particular knowledge of his adventures 
than we are now likely ever to attain. 

Ver. 9348. ' Disputison : ' Disputation. So ver. 11202, 15244. 
See Gower, (<Conf. Am./ fol.-15, b) : 

* In great desputeson they were ;' 
and fol. 150, b. 151, K 

Ver. 9409. ' A chidester : ' So MS. A. (See the note on ver. 

Ver. 9410. ' A man is wood : ' In MS. A., l mannishewed ; ' in 
C. 1, l mannish wood. 7 

Ver. 9594. c Ne he Theodomas : * This person is mentioned 
again as a famous trumpeter in the ' H. of F.,' iii. 156 ; but 
upon what authority I really do not know. I should suspect that 
our author met with him, and the anecdote alluded to, in some 
Romantic History of Thebes. 

'He 7 is prefixed to proper names emphatically, according to 
the Saxon usage. See before, ver. 9242, ' him Holofernes j ' ver. 
9247, ' him Mardochee ; 7 and below, ver, 9608, 
* Of her Philology and him Mercury.' 

Ver. 9652. ' As that she bare it: 7 As- this line is not only in 
all the best MSS. but also in Edit Ca. 2, it seems very extra 
ordinary that the later editions should have exchanged it for the 
following : 

' So fresh she was and thereto so licand.' 

Ver. 9658. ' His service bedeth : 7 Proffereth. So this word is 
explained in another passage (ver. 16533 : 

* Lo, how this thief coulde his service bede ! 
Full sooth it is, that such proffer'd service 
Stinketh, as witnessen these olde wise.' 

See also ver. 8236. 


Ver. 9659. < False of holy hue :' I have added 'of, 1 from con 
jecture. See below, ver. 12355, ' under hue of holiness.' 

Ver. 9681. l Vernage : ' i Vernaccia,' Ital. * Credo sic dictum,' 
says Skinner, l quasi Veronaccia, ab agro Veronensi in quo opti 
mum ex hoc genere vinum crescit.' But the vernage, whatever 
may have been the reason of its name, was probably a wine of 
Crete, or of the neighbouring continent. Froiss., v. iv. c. 18 : 
1 De Fisle de Candie il leur venoit tres bonnes malvoisies et grena- 
ches (r. gernaches) dont ils estoient largement servis et confortez.' 
Our author, in another place, (ver. 13001,) joins together the wines 
of f Malvesie ' and t Vernage.' Malvasia was a town upon the 
eastern coast of the Morea, near the site of the ancient Epidaurus 
Limera, within a small distance from Crete. 

Ver. 9684. i Dan Constantino : ' ' Dan,' a corruption of l Do- 
minus,' was a title of honour usually given to monks, as 
Dom and Don still are in France and Spain. See below, ver. 
1,3935 : 

* Whether shall I call you my lord Dan John, 
Or Dan Thomas^or elles Dan Albon ?' 

Dan Constantine, according to Fabric., (<Bibl. Med. JEt,' t. i. p. 
423, Ed. Pat. 4to,) wrote about the year 1080. His works, 
including the treatise mentioned in the text, were printed at 
Basil, 1536, fol. 

Ver. 9690. 'And they have done:' This line has also been 
left out of the later Editt, though it is in all the best MSS. and 
in Edit. Ca. 2. To supply its place the following line 

' So hasted January it must be done ' 

has been inserted after ver. 9691 ; and the four lines have been 
made to rhyme together by adding ' sone ' at the end of ver. 
9689 : 

' Let voiden all this house in courteous wise sone.' 

Ver. 9714. ' Ne hurt himselven : ' In the Parson's Tale we 
have a contrary doctrine: ' God ,wot, a man may slay himself 
with his own knife, and make himself drunken of his own tun.' 

Ver. 9761. f In ten of Taure:' The greatest number of MSS. 
read i two,' l tuo,' f too,' or ' to.' But the time given (< four days 
complete,' ver. 9767,) is not sufficient for the moon to pass from 


the 2d degree of Taurus into Cancer. The mean daily motion 
of the moon being = 13 10' 35", her motion in four days is = 
1 s 22 42', or not quite 53 degrees ; so that, supposing her to set 
out from the 2d of Taurus, she would not, in that time, be ad 
vanced beyond the 25th degree of Gemini. If she set out from 
the 10th degree of Taurus, as I have corrected the text, she 
might properly enough be said, in four days, to be ' gliden into ' 

Ver. 9888. 'A dog for the bow:' A dog used in shooting. 
(See before, ver. 6951.) 

' Ver. 9967. <So burningly:' Vulg. 'benignly.' MSS. Ask. 
1, 2, read t fervently;' which is probably a gloss for the true 
word, ' brenningly.' (See before, ver. 1566.) MS. A. reads 
* benyngly.' 

Ver. 9983. 'For as good is: 7 The reading in the text is from 
MS. Ask. 1. MS. A. reads thus : 

* For as good is al blind deceived be.' 
I should not dislike 

' For as good is al blind deceived to be, 
As be deceived, whan a man may see.' 

Ver. 10000. ' What sleight is it : ' These lines are a little 
different in MSS. C. 1., HA. : 

1 What sleight is it, though it be long and hot, 
That love n'il find it out in some mannere ?' 

Ver. 10104. < Which that he ravished out of Ethna : ' So MS. 
A. In some other MSS., i Ethna,' by a manifest error of the 
copyist, has been changed into * Proserpina.' The passage 
being thus made nonsense, other transcribers left out the line, 
and substituted this in its stead : 

' Each after other right as ony line.' 

Ver. 101 21. ' Among a thousand : ' Ecclesiastes vii. 28. This 
argument is treated in much the same manner in i Meliboeus.' 

Ver. 10158. l The Koman gestes :' He means the collection of 
stories called 'Gesta liomanorum ;' of which I once thought to 
say a few words here, in order to recommend it to a little more 
attention than it has hitherto met with from those who have 


written upon the poetical inventions of the Middle Ages ; but as 
many of the stories in that collection are taken from a treatise of 
Petrus Alphonsus, <De Clerical! disciplina,' an older and still 
more forgotten work, I shall reserve what I have to offer upon 
this subject till I come to the ' Tale of Melibceus,' where l Piers 
Alphonse ' is quoted. 

Ver. 10227. i 'Gan pullen : ' After this verse, the Editt. 
(except Ca. 2, and Pyns. 1, 2,) have eight others of the lowest 
and most superfluous ribaldry that can well be conceived. It 
would be a mere loss of time to argue from the lines themselves, 
that they were not written by Chaucer, as we have this short and 
decisive reason for rejecting them, that they are not found in any 
one MS. of authority. They are not found in MSS. A., C. 1, 
Ask. 1, 2, HA., B., C., D., G., Bod. a. ft. 7 . B. e. f , C. 2, T., 
N. Ch. In MSS. E., EL, I., W., either the whole tale, or that 
part where they might be looked for, is wanting. The only 
tolerable MS. in which I have seen them is F., and there they 
have been added in the margin, by a later hand, perhaps not 
older than Caxton's first edition. 

Ver. 10240. l Out ! help ! ' Two lines, which follow this in the 
common Editt., are omitted for the reasons stated in the note 
upon ver. 10227. And I shall take the same liberty, upon 
exactly the same grounds, with four more, which have been 
inserted in those Editt. after ver. 10250. 

Ver. 10241. <0 stronge lady store:' As all the best MSS. 
support this reading, I have not departed from it, for fear ' store' 
should have some signification that I am not aware of. Some 
MSS. have 'stowre;' MS. G., 'houre;' Edit. Ca. 2, <hore.' 
' Hora, meretrix,' Iceland. 

Ver. 10261. 'Ye mase, ye masen:' The final <n' has been 
added without authority, and unnecessarily. This line is very 
oddly written in MSS. Ask. 1, 2 : 

' Ya may ya may ya, quod she.' 

Ver. 10293. It has been said in the < Discourse,' &c., XXIII., 
that this new Prologue has been prefixed to the Squire's Tale 
upon the authority of the best MSS. They are as follows : 
A., C. 1, Ask. 1, 2, HA., D., Bod. a. y. S. The concurrence of 


the first five MSS. would alone have been more than sufficient 
to outweigh the authorities in favour of the other prologue. Edit. 
Ca. 2 (though it has not this prologue) agrees with these MSS. 
in placing the Squire's Tale after the Merchant's. 

Ver. 10298. ' Weive :' This verb is generally used transitively ; 
to ' wave/ to ' relinquish ' a thing. But it has also a neuter sig 
nification ; to ' depart ;' as here. (See also vers. 4728, 9357.) 

Ver. 10312. l Since women connen utter:' MS. A. reads, 
*oute;' but others have 'utter;' which I believe is right, 
though I confess that I do not clearly understand the passage. 
The phrase has occurred before (ver. 6103) : 

' With danger uttren we all our chaffare.' 

Ver. 10344. < Of which the eldest son:' I have added 'son,' 
for the sake of the metre. 

Ver. 10364. l And in his mansion : 7 l His ' refers to Mars, and 
not to the Sun. ' Aries est 1'exaltation du Soleil ou xix. degre. 
et si est Aries maison de Mars.' (' Calend. des Berg.,' Sign. I. 
ult.) Leo was the mansion of the Sun. (Ibid., Sig. K. 1.) 
Aries is there also said to- be ' signe chault et sec.' 

Ver. 10381. l Strange sewes : ' A sewer was an officer so called 
from his placing the dishes upon the table. i Asseour,' Fr., from 
i asseoir,' to place. In the establishment of the king's household 
there are still four Gentlemen Sewers. ' Sewes ' here seem to 
signify l dishes,' from the same original ; as ' assiette,' in Fr., 
still signifies a < little dish,' or l plate.' See Gower, l Conf. Am./ 
foL115, b: 

' The fleshe, whan it was so to-hewe, 
She taketh, aud maketh therof a sewe.* 

Ver. 10382. c Heronsewes : r 'Heronqeaux/ Fr., according to 
the Glossary. At the Intronisation of Archbp. Nevil, 6 Edward 
IV., there were l Heronshawes iiii C.' (Lei. ' Collect./ vol. vi. 
2.) At another feast, in 1530, we read of <16 Hearonsews, 
every one 12d.' (Peck's < D. C./ vol. ii. 12.) 

Ver. 10509. l A gentle Poileis courser : ' A horse of Apulia, 
which in old Fr. was usually called ' Poille.' The horses of that 
country were much esteemed. (MS. Bod., James VI., 142.) 
Richard, Archbp. of Armagh, in the fourteenth century, says in 


praise of our St Thomas : l Quod nee mulus Hispaniae, nee dex- 
trarius Apulice, nee repedo uEthiopise, nee elephantus Asiae, nee 
camelus Syrise hoc asino nostro Anglise aptior sive audentior in- 
venitur ad praalia.' He had before informed his audience, that 
i Thomas, Angliee, idem est quod Thorn. Asinus/ There is a 
patent in Bymer, 2 E. II., < De dextrariis in Lumbardia emendis.' 

Yer. 10523. ' The Greek's horse Sinon:' This is rather an 
awkward expression for * the horse of Sinon the Greek ; ' ox, as 
we might say, ' Sinon the Greek's horse.' 

Yer, 10546. l Alhazen and Yitellon : ' l Alhazeni et Yitellonis 
Opticse' are extant, printed at Basil, 1572. The first is sup 
posed by his editor to have lived about A.D. 1100, and the 
second to A.D. 1270. 

Yer. 10561. '-Canaeees : ' This word should perhaps have had 
an accent on the first ' e ' Canace'es to shew that it is to be 
pronounced as of four syllables. So also below (ver. 10945) 

* And swouneth eft in Canacees barme.' 

Yer. 10570. ( Yknowen it so feme :' l Known it so before.' I 
take l feme ' to be a corruption of l forne ' (' foran,' Sax.). So in 
<Tro.,' v. 1176, ' ferae yere' seems to signify * former years.' 
In ' P. P.' fol. Ixxx. b., l feme ago ' is used as l long ago.' 

Yer. 10583. ' Chamber of parements : ' l Chambre de pare- 
ment' is translated, by Cot-grave, the presence-chamber; and 
' Lit de parement,' a bed of state. l Parements ' originally sig 
nified all sorts of ornamental furniture, or clothes, from l parer,' 
Fr., < to adorn.' See ver. 2503, and Leg. of G. W., Dido,' ver. 

' To dauncing chambres, f ul of parementes, 
Of riche beddes and of pavementes. 
This Eneas is ledde after the mete.' 

The Italians have the same expression (' 1st. d. Cone. Trident.,' 
1. iii) : l II Pontefice xitornato alia camera de' paramenti co' 

Yer. 10587. ' In the Fish : ' See the note on ver. 6284. 

Yer. 10660. 'Till that well nigh:' 'That' has been added 
for the sake of the metre. We might read with some MSS. 

' Till well nigh the day began for to spring.' 


Ver. 10663. 'Thatmuchel drink and labour:' So MSS. C. 

1, HA. In MS. A. it is That mirthe and labour ; ' in Ask. 1, 

2, l That after moche labour ;' in several other MSS. and Editt. 
Ca. 1, 2, 'That moche mete and labour.' We must search 
further, I apprehend, for the true reading. 

Ver. 10666. l Blood in domination:' V. Lib. Galeno adscr. 
de natura,' &c., Ed. Charter. T. V., p. 327. ' Sanguis dominatur 
horis septem ab hora noctis nona ad horam diei tertiam.' 

Ver. 10742. t A falcon peregrine : ' This species of falcon is 
thus described in the ' Tresor de Brunet Latin,' P. 1. Ch. Des 
Faucons (MS. Keg. 19, C. X.) : ' La seconde lignie est faucons, 
que horn apele pelerins, par ce quo nus ne trove son ni. ains est 
pris autresi come en pelerinage. et est mult legiers a norrir, et 
mult cortois, et vaillans, et de bone maniere.' Chaucer adds, that 
this falcon was of ' fremde,' or ' fremed, lond j ' from .a ' foreign 

Ver. 10749. 'Leden:' ' Language,' Sax., a corruption of 
' Latin.' Dante uses < Latino' in the same sense (Canz. 1): 

'E cantine gli augelli 
Ciascuno in suo latino." 

Ver. 10840. ' Crowned malice : ' The reader of taste will not 
be displeased, I trust, at my having received this reading upon 
the authority of MS. A. only. The common reading is ' cruel.' 

Ver. 10921. 'Thilke text:' Boethius, 1. iii. met 2 : 

1 Repetunt proprios quaoque recursus, 
Redituque suo singula gaudent ;' 

which our author has thus translated : l All thynges seken ayen 
to hir propre course, and all thynges rejoysen on hir retourninge 
agayne to hir nature.' The comparison of the bird is taken 
from the same place. 

Ver. 10958. l Velouettes blue : ' ' Velvets,' from the Fr. < Velou,' 
1 Velouette.' See Du Cange, in v. ' Villosa, Velluctum.' See 
Saintre', t. iii. p. 664. 

I will just add, that as l blue ' was the colour of ' truth,' (see 
CL. 248,) so ' green' belonged to 'inconstancy.' Hence in a 
' Ballade upon an inconstant lady,' (among Stowe's Additions 
to Chaucer's Works, p. 551, Ed. Urry,) the burden is 
<Instede of blew thus may ye were al grene.' 


Ver. 10962.. < These tidifes : r The l tidife ' is mentioned as an 
inconstant "bird in the ' Leg. of G.. W.,' ver. 154 : 

* As doth the tidif for newefangelnesse.'' 

Skinner supposes it to be the ' titmouse;' but he produces no 
authority for his supposition ; nor have I any to oppose to it. 

Ver. 10963, 10964, are transposed from the order in which 
they stand in all the Editt. and MSS. that I have seen. Some 
of the best MSS* however read l And pies/ which rather counte 
nances the transposition. My only excuse for such a liberty 
must be, that I cannot make any good sense of them in the 
common order.. 

Ver. 10977, 10978, are also transposed ; but upon the authority 
of MSS. A., C.. 1, and, I believe, some others; though, being 
satisfied of the certainty of the emendation, I have omitted to 
take a note of their concurrence. Ed. Ca. 2 agrees with those 
MSS. According to the common arrangement, old Cambuscan 
is to 'win Theodora, to his wife,' and we are not told what is to 
be the object of Algarsif 's adventures. 

Veiv 10981. 'Of Camballo.:' MS. A. reads 'Caballo.' But 
that is not my only reason for suspecting a mistake in this name. 
It seems clear from the context, that the person here intended is 
not ' a. brother,' but ' a lover/ of Canace 

1 Who fought in listes with the brethren two 
For Canace, or that he might hire winne.' 

' The brethren two ' are, obviously, the two brethren of Canace, 
who have been mentioned above, Algarsif and Camballo. In 
MSS. Ask. 1, 2, it is, f hir brethren two;' which would put 
the matter out of all doubt., Camballo could not fight with 

Again, if this Camballo be supposed to be the brother of 
Canace, and to fight in defence of her with some two brethren, 
who might be suitors to her, according to Spenser's fiction, he 
could not properly be said to ( winne ' his sister, when he only 
prevented others from winning her. 

The outline therefore of the unfinished part of this tale, accord 
ing to my idea, is nearly this j the conclusion of the story of the 
' Faucon/ 

' By mediation of Camballus/ 


with the help of the liing ; the conquests of Cambuscan ; the 
winning of Theodora by Algarsif, with the assistance of the 
Horse of Brass; and the marriage of Canace to some knight, 
who was first obliged to fight for her with her two brethren a 
method of courtship very consonant to the spirit of ancient 

Ver. 10984 < And there I left :' After this verse, in MS. C. 1, 
and others, is the following note : ' Here endeth the Squieres 
tale as meche as Chaucer made.' The two lines, which in the 
Editt. and some MSS. are made to begin a third part, are want 
ing in all the best MSS. : 

* Apollo whirleth up his chare so hie 
Til that the god Mercurius house the slie.' 

They certainly have not the least appearance of belonging to 
this place. I should guess that they were originally scribbled 
by some vacant reader in the blank space, which is commonly 
left at the end of this tale, and afterwards transcribed, as Chau 
cer's, by some copyist of more diligence than sagacity. 

Ver. 10985. l In faith, Squier : ' The authorities for giving 
this prologue to the Franklin, and for placing his tale next to the 
Squire's, are MSS. A., Ask. 1, 2, HA., Bod. a. y. In MS. C. 
1, there is a blank of near two pages at the end of the Squire's 
Tale, but the Franklin's Tale follows, beginning at ver. 11066. 
This arrangement is also supported by Ed. Ca. 2. For the rest, 
see the ' Discourse,' &c., XXV. 

Ver. 11021. l These olde gentle Bretons : ' Of the collection of 
' British Lays,' by Marie, something has been said in the ' Dis 
course,' &c., p. cxxvii., note. I will here only quote a few passages 
from that collection, to shew how exactly Chaucer and she agree 
in their manner of speaking of the Armorican bards. The Lay 
of ( Elidus' concludes thus (MS. Harl., 978, fol. 181) : 

* De 1'aventure de ces treis 
Li auntien Bretun curteis 
Firent li lai pur remembrer, 
Qe hum nel deust pas oblier.' 

The Lay of l Guiguemar ' thus (fol. 146) : 

' De cest cunte, ke oi avez, 
Fu Guiguemar le lai trovez, 


Q'hum fait en harpe e en rote, 
Dont est a oir la note.' 

The Lay of < Chevrefoil ' begins (fbl. 171) : 

' Asez me plest, e bien le voil, 
Du lai qe hum mime chevrefott 
Q'la verite vus encunt, 
Pur quoi il f u f et e dunt. 
Plusurs le me unt cunte e dit, 
E jeo 1'ai trove en escrit, 
De Tristram e de la reine, 
De lur amur qui tant fu fine, 
Dunt il eurent meinte dolur, 
Puis mururent en un jur.' 

In one particular Chaucer goes further, as I remember,. than 
Marie, when he says, that these Lays were 

' Rimeyed in hir firste Breton tonge,' 

if c rimeyel ' be understood to mean ( written in rhyme.' But it 
may very well signify only ( versified.' Indeed, the Editor of 
the i Dictionaire de la Langue Bretonne,' by Dom Pelletier, 
seems to doubt whether the Armorican language be capable of 
any sort of poetical harmony. 'Nous ne voyons pas que nos 
Bretons Armoricains ayent cultive*e la poesie; et la langue telle 
qu'ils la parlent, ne paroit pas pouvoir se plier a la mesure, a la 
douceur et a la harmonie des vers.' (Pref., p. ix.) A strange 
doubt in him, who might have found in the Dictionary which 
he has published, quotations from two Armorican poems, viz., 
1 Les Propheties de Gwinglaff,' and ' La Destruction de Jerusa 
lem,' both in rhyme. (See l Arabat. Bagat.?) And he himself 
speaks in the same preface (p. viii.) of l la vie de S. Gwenole, 
premier Abbe de Landevenec, e'crite en vers/ The oldest MS., 
however, now known in the language, according to his account, is 
that containing ' Les Propheties de GwinglafF,' written in 1450. 

Ver. 11113. 'Not far from Penmark:' The best MSS. have 
blundered in this name. ' They write it 'Pedmark.' But MSS. 
Bod. a., e., and Ed. Ca. 2, have it right ' Penmark.' The later 
Editt. have changed it ridiculously enough into l Denmark.' 

Penmark is placed in the maps upon the western coast of 
Bretagne, between Brest and Port L'Orient. Walsingham men- 


tions a descent of the English in 1403, ' apud Penarch,' (r. Pen- 
march,) p. 369. (See Lobineau, < H. de Bret.,' t. i. p. 503.) In 
the same history, *de Penmarc' occurs very frequently as a 
family-name. The etymology of the word, from l Pen ' (caput, 
mons) and 'Mark' (limes, regio), is evidently British. 

Ver. 11120. 'Cairrud:' This word is also of British original, 
signifying l the Ked city ; ' as ' Cair guent,' in this island, signi 
fied i the white city.' Arviragus is a known British name from 
the time of Juvenal. 

Ver. 11127. 'Dorigen:' l Droguen,' or l Dorguen,' was the 
name of the wife of Alain I. (Lobineau, t. i. p. 70 j see also 
the index to t. ii.) 

Ver. 11250. 'Aurelius:' This name, though of Koman original, 
was common, we may presume, among the Britons. One of the 
princes mentioned by Gildas was called Aurelius Conanus. 
Another British king is named Aurelius Ambrosius by Geffrey 
of Monmouth. It may be remarked of this last author, that 
although he has not paid the least regard to truth in his narration 
of facts, he has been very attentive to probability in his names 
both of persons and places. 

Ver. 11262. As doth a furie in hell : ' It is < a fire,' in MSS. 
C. 1, Ask. 1, 2, HA., which, perhaps, ought to have been fol 
lowed : though I cannot say that I well understand either of 
the readings. 'Fury' and 'fuyr' have been confounded before 
(ver. 2686). 

Ver. 11317. l Is there none other grace : ' I have inserted these 
two lines in this place upon the authority of MS. A., supported by 
MSS. E., Bod. 0. They have usually been placed after ver. 11310. 

Ver. 11422. 'Pamphilus for Galathee:' Mr Urry, misled by 
his classical learning, has altered this most licentiously 
' Than Polyphemus did for Galathee.' 

But the allusion is plainly to the first lines of a Latin poem, 
which was very popular in the time of Chaucer, in which one 
Pamphilus gives a history of his amour with Galatea. 
The poem begins thus (MS. Cotton. Titus A. xx.) : 

'Liber Pamphili. 

Vulneror et clausum porto sub pectore telum, 
Crescit et assidue plaga dolorque mihi. 


Et ferientis adhuc non audeo dicere nomen, 
Nee sinit aspectus plaga videre suos.' 

This poem, by the name of t Pamphilus,' is quoted in our author's 
'Meliboeus.' It is extant in MS. in many libraries, and it has 
also been printed more than once. (Leyser., t Hist, Poet. Medii 
Mvi; p. 2071 (1171) ; Catal. Gaignat., n. 2233, 2234.) 

Ver. 11453. ' Tregetoures : ' The profession of a l joculator,' or 
'juggler, 1 was anciently very comprehensive, as appears from 
this passage of the l Breviari d' Amors.' (See the l Discourse,' 
&c., page cxxix., note) : 

* Altressi peccan li joglar, 
Que ssabo cantar e balar, 
E ssabo tocar estrumens, 
O ssabon encantar las gens, 
O ffar autra joglayria.' 

In the time of Chaucer, the persons who exercised the first-men 
tioned branches of the art were called, generally, ' minstrels ; ' 
and the name of 'jogelour' was, in a manner, appropriated to 
those who, by sleight of hand and machines, produced such illu 
sions of the senses as are usually supposed to be effected by en 
chantment. (See above, ver. 7049.) This species of l jogelour ' 
is here called a i tregetour.' They are joined together in com 
pany with magicians. ( l H. of F.,' iii. 169.) 

* Ther saw I playing jogelours, 
Magiciens and tragetours, 
And phitonesses, charmeresses 
And clerkes eke which conne wel 
All this magike naturell.' 

See also the following ver. 187-191. 

If we compare the feats of the i tregetours,' as described in 
this passage, with those which are afterwards performed by the 
Clerk's l magike,' for the entertainment of his guests, (ver. 
11501-11519,) we shall find them very similar ; and they may 
both be illustrated by the following account which Sir John 
Mandeville has given of the exhibitions before the i Grete Chan. : ' 
1 And than comen jogulours and enchantoures, that don many 
marvaylles : for they maken to come in the ayr the Sonne and 
the Mone, be seminge, to every mannes sight. And after they 


maken the nyght so derk, that no man may see no tiling. And 
aftre they maken the day to come ay en fair and plesant with 
bright Sonne to every mannes sight. And than they bringen in 
daunces of the fairest damyselles of the world and richest arrayed. 
And aftre they maken to comen in other damyselles, bringinge 
coupes of gold, fulle of mylk of dy verse bestes, and yeven drynke 
to lordes and to ladyes. And than they make knyghtes to 
jousten in armes fulle lustyly ; and. they rennen togidre a gret 
randoum ; and they fmsschen togidere fulle fiercely ; and they 
breken here speres so rudely, that the tronchouns flen in sprotes 
and peces alle aboute the halle. And than they make to come 
in huntyng for the hert and for the boor, with houndes renning 
with open mouthe. And many other thinges they don be craft 
of hir enchauntementes, that it is marveyle tor to see. And suche 
playes of desport they make, til the taking up of the boordes.' 
(< Hand. Trav.,' pp. 285, 286.) See also p. 261 : < And wher it be 
by craft or by nygromancye, I wot nere.' 

The Glossary derives 'tregetour' from the Barb. Lat, 'tricator;' 
but the derivatives of that family are 'tricheur,' 'tricherie,' 'trick,' 
&c. Nor can I find the word 'tregetour' in any language but 
our own. It seems clearly to be formed from l treget,' which is 
frequently used by Chaucer for Deceit,' ' imposture' ('R. R.,' 
6267, 6312, 6825); and so is 'tregetry' (ibid., 6374, 6382). 
From whence l treget ' itself may have been derived is more 
difficult to say ; but I observe that ' trebuchet,' the French name 
for a military engine, is called by Chaucer, 'trepeget' ('R. R.,' 
6279), and by Knighton (2672), <trepget;' and that this same 
word, i trebuchet,' in French, signified also a machine ' for 
catching birds.' Du Cange, in v. 'Trepget:' <Hinc appellatio 
mansit apud nos instruments, aut machinulis, suspensis et 
lapsilibus, ad captandas aviculas. Has enim etiamnum tre- 
buchets appellamus.' Muratori, in his < Antiq. Med. ^E.,' Diss. 
xxvi. p. 473, informs us that ' trabocchello,' or ' trabocchetto,' in 
Italian, (which he explains to be the same as < trebuchet ' in 
French,) signified also another instrument of fraud, which he 
describes thus : ' Sseculis Italiee turbatissimis in usu fuere teter- 
rima insidiarum loca, id est, in cubiculis pavimentum perforatum, 
ac lined tabula (Ribalta appellabant) ita caute coopertum, ut qui, 



improvide alteram tabulae partem pedibus premeret, cedente ipsa 
in ima rueret.' This was clearly a species of trap-door. The 
reader will judge whether the 'tregetour' may not possibly have 
been so called from his frequent use of these insidious machines 
in his operations. 

That a great deal of machinery was requisite to produce the 
' apparences,' or illusions, enumerated by Chaucer in this passage, 
is very certain : but not long after the art of a ' tregetour ' seems 
to have been reduced to that of a modern i juggler/ mere sleight 
of hand. In Lydgate's translation of < The Dance of Macabre ' 
(MS. Harl., 116), he has introduced a 'tregitour' speaking 
thus :-- 

' What may availe mankynde [f. magike] naturals, 

Or any crafte shewed by apparence, 

Or course of sterres above celestjale, 

Or of heven all the influence, 

Ayenst deth to stand at defence ? 

Lygarde de mayne now helpith me right nought. 

Farewell my craft and all such sapience, 

For deth hath more maistries than I have wrought,' 

He has also the following speech of Death to a famous 'tre- 
gitour : ' 

' Maister John Rykell, somtime tregitour 

Of noble Henri kinge of Englelond, 

And of France the mighty conquerour, 

For all the sleightes and turnyng of thyne honde, 

Thou must come nere this dance to understonde : 

Nought may avail all thy conclusions. 

For deth shortly, nother on see nor londe, 

Is not dysceyved by noon illusions.' 

Ver. 11567. ( And nowel crieth : ' ' Noel/ in French, is derived 
from 'natalis,' and signified originally a cry of joy at Christmas, 
1 le jour natal de notre Seigneur,' (Menage in v. ' Nouel.') It 
was afterwards the usual cry of the people upon all occasions of 
joy and festivity. l Hist, de Charles VII.,' par Chartier, p. 3, at 
the proclamation of Henry VI., ( fut crie sur la fosse de son pere 
a haute voix, Vive le Roy Henry, Roy de France et d'Angleterre; 
et avec cela fut crie " Noel," des assistans, confortans lesdits 

Ver. 11585. < His tables Toletanes :' The Astronomical Tables, 


composed by order of Alphonso X., king of Castille, about the 
middle of the thirteenth century, were called sometimes i Tabulae 
Toletanse,' from their being adapted to the city of Toledo. There 
is a very elegant copy of them in MS. Harl., 3647. I am not 
sufficiently skilled in the ancient astronomy to add anything to 
the explanation of the following technical terms, drawn chiefly 
from those tables, which has been given in the Addit. to Gloss., 
Urr., v. l Expans yerss,' p. 81. 

Ver. 11679. t Thise stories bere witnesse :' They are all taken 
from Hieronymus * Contra Jovinianum,' 1. i. c. 39. 

Ver. 11766. l To alle wives :' After this verse, the two follow 
ing are found in several MSS. : 

' The same thing I say of Bilia, 
Of Rhodogone and of Valeria;' 

but as they are wanting in MSS. A. C. 1, Ask. 1, 2, HA., I 
was not unwilling to leave them out. 

Ver. 11802. She n'olde:' After this verse Ed. Ca. 2 has the 
six following : 

' Peraventure an hepe of you I wis 
Will holden him a lewed man in this, 
That he woll put his wife in jeopardie. 
Herkneth the tale, er ye upon him crie. 
She may have better fortune than you semeth ; 
And whan that ye han herde the tale demeth.' 

These lines are more in the style and manner of Chaucer than 
interpolations generally are ; but as I do not remember to have 
found thejn in any MS., I could not receive them into the text. 
I think, too, that if they were written by him, he would probably, 
upon more mature consideration, have suppressed them, as un 
necessarily anticipating the catastrophe of the tale. 

Ver. 11807. l As she was boun : ' < Keady.' This old word is 
restored from MSS. A., Ask. 1, 2. (See/ P. L.,' p. 256, 291.) 

Ver. 11926. ' Which was the most free :' The same question 
is stated in the conclusion of Boccaccio's Tale (* Philoc./ 1. v.): 
' Dubitasi ora qual di costoro fusse maggior liberalita,' &c. The 
queen determines in favour of the husband. 

Ver. 11929. i Yea, let that passen :' I have said all that I have 
lo say in favour of this Prologue to the Doctor's Tale, in the 


< Discourse/ &c., XXVIII. It is only found in MS. A. In 
MSS. C. 1, HA., the following note is at the end of the 
Franklin's Tale : < Here endeth the Fr. T. and biginneth the 
Phisiciens tale without a Prologe.' 

Ver. 11993. 'For wine and youthe:' The context, I think, 
requires that we should read 

' For wine and slouthe do Venus increase.' 

He is giving the reason why she avoided < slogardie,' and did not 
permit Bacchus to have i maistrie of hire mouth ;' because ' wine 
and slouthe encrease the amorous inclinations, as oil and grese 
do fire.' I can make no sense of ' youthe,' or i thoughte,' as 
some MSS. read. 

Ver. 12051. l The Doctor:' Over against this line, in the 
margin of MS. C. 1, is written * Augustinus ; ' which means, I 
suppose, that this description of Envy is taken from S. Austin. 
But I doubt whether Chaucer meant to quote that saint by the 
title of the Doctor. It rather seems to be an idle parenthesis 
like that ver. 7269. 

Ver. 12074. 'A churl:' So the best MSS., and Ed. Ca. 2. 
The common Editt. have ' client.' In the ' Rom. de la R.,' where 
this story is told, (ver. 5815-5894,) Claudius is called * Sergent 
of Appius :' and accordingly Chaucer, a little lower, (ver. 12204,) 
calls him l servant unto Appius.' 

In the l Discourse,' &c., XXIX., I forgot to mention the 
1 Rom. de la Rose' as one of the sources of this tale ; though, upon 
examination, I find that our author has drawn more from thence 
than from either Gower or Livy. 

Ver. 12159. l For love :' < Rom. de la R.,' 5871 : 

' Car par amour et sans haine 
A sa belle fille Virgine 
Tantost a la teste coup6e, 
Et puis au Juge presentee 
Devant tous en plain Consistoire, 
Et le Juge, selon 1'hystoire, 
Le commanda tantost a prendre.' 

(See below, v. 12190-12193.) The speeches of Virginius and 
his daughter are of Chaucer's own invention. 
Ver. 12190. See < P. L.,' 18. 


Ver. 12233. <0f bothe giftes:' This line is restored from 
MSS. C. 1, HA. It had been supplied in the common copies 
by the following : 

1 But hereof wol I not proceed as now.' 

Ver. 12236. l A piteous tale :' This is the reading of two good 
MSS., A. and HA.; but I believe it to be a gloss. The other 
copies read ' erneful,' which is near the truth. It should be 
'ermeful.' 'Earme,' Sax., signifies l miser.' Hence, 'ear- 
melice,' i miserfc ' ( c Chr. Sax.,' 65) ; ' earmthe,' ' miseria,' (Ibid., 
141.) And a little lower, (ver. 12246,) 'to erme' is used for 
' to grieve,' as the Sax. ' earmian ' is, (' Chr. Sax.,' 188, 14.) 

Ver. 12239. 'Thy jordanes:' This word is in Walsingham 
(p. 288), 'duse ollse, quas Jordanes vocamus, ad ejus collum 
colligantur.' This is part of the punishment of a pretended 
1 phisicus et astrologus,' who had deceived the people by a false 
prediction. Hollinshed calls them l two jorden pots ' (p. 440). 

Ver. 12240. < Thine Hippocras:' 'Ypocras,' or 'Hippocras,' 
and l Galianes,' should both have been printed, as proper names, 
with great initial letters. (See the note on ver. 433.) 

Ver. 12245. < Said I not well?' All the best MSS. agree in 
giving this phrase to the Host in this place. It must remind us 
of the similar phrase, ' Said I well? ' which occurs so frequently 
in the mouth of Shakspeare's Host of the Garter ; and may be 
sufficient, with the other circumstances of general resemblance, 
to make us believe that Shakspeare, when he drew that character, 
had not forgotten his Chaucer. 

Ver. 12279. < To saffron :' So MS. A., and Ed. Ca. 2. I have 
preferred it to the common reading < savor,' as more expressive, 
and less likely to have been a gloss. Saffron was used to give 
colour as well ?.s flavour. 

The next lines are thus read in MSS. C. 1, Ask. 1, 2, HA.: 
1 In every village and in every toun, 
This is my teme, and shal and ever was ; 
Radix malorum eat cupiditaa. 
Than shew I forth,' &c. 

And perhaps I ought to have followed them. 

Ver. 12297. ' Fasting ydrinkeri:' The prepositive particle <y' 
has been added for the sake of the metre. 


Ver. 12340. <Go ablake beried:' So all the MSS., I think, 
except Ask. 2, which reads, ' on blake be ryed.' Skinner ex 
plains i blakeberied ' to mean ' in nigras et inauspicatas domos 
missus.' I really cannot guess what it means. 

Ver. 12341. < For certes :' See < R. R,.,' ver. 5763 : 

' For oft gode predicacioun 
Cometh of evil entencioun.' 

Ver. 12409. 'Them thought the Jewes:' The same thought 
is repeated in the Parson's Tale. 

Ver. 12411. 'Tombesteres.-' Women-dancers, from the Sax. 
' tumban,' to dance. He uses the word again in the ' Test, of L.,' 
b. 2. The Editt. read ' tomblesteres ; ' which is a later word, 
formed, like our tumbler, from ' tumbelan,' the frequentative of 
1 tumban.' 

With respect to the termination in ' stere,' see the note on ver. 
2019 ; and in the next line * fruitesteres ' are to be understood to 
be female sellers of fruit. 

Ver. 12417. < The holy writ :' In marg. C. 1, 'Nolite inebriari 
vino, in quo est luxuria.' 

Ver. 12426. ' Seneca : ' Perhaps he refers to Epist. Ixxxiii. : 
' Extende in plures dies ilium ebrii habitum : nunquid de furore 
dubitabis? nunc quoque non est minor sed brevior.' 

Ver. 12442. < For while that Adam : ' At this line, the margin 
of MS. C. 1, quotes Hieronym. (' C. Jovinian.') : * Quam diu je- 
junavit Adam in Paradiso fuit. Comedit et ejectus est. Statim 
duxit uxorem.' 

Ver. 12456. 'Meat unto womb:' In marg. C. 1., 'Esca 
ventri,' &c. 

Ver. 12463. ' The Apostle saith :' Philippians iii. 18. 

Ver. 12468. ' Stinking is thy cod : ' So MS. C. Or we may 
read with MS. B. S, l O foule stinking cod.' 

Ver. 12471. ' To find :' To supply. So ver. 14835 : 

' She found herself and eke her daughters two.' 
See also 'P. P./ fol. Ixxx. : 

1 For a frend, that findeth him, faileth him never at nede.' 

Ver. 12473. V. D'Artigny, vol. vi. p. 399. 

Ver. 12497. ' The white wine of Lepe : ' According to the geo- 


graphers, Lepe was not far from Cadiz. This wine, of whatever 
sort it may have been, was probably much stronger than the 
Gascon wines, usually drunk in England. La Rochelle and 
Bourdeaux, (ver. 12505,) the two chief ports of Gascony, were 
both, in Chaucer's time, part of the English dominions. 

Spanish wines might also be more alluring upon account of 
their greater rarity. Among the Orders of the Royal Household, 
in 1604, is the following (MS. Harl., 293, fol. 162): 'And 
whereas, in tymes past, Spanish wines, called Sacke, were little 
or noe whit used in our courte, and that in later years, though 
not of ordinary allowance, it was thought convenient, that noble 
men, &c., might have a boule or glass, &c. ; we understanding 
that it is now used as common drinke, &c., reduce the allowance 
to xil gallons a day for the court,' &c. 

Ver. 12520. < Readeth the Bible : ' Proverbs xxxi. 4. 

Ver. 12537. 'Stilbon:' John of Salisbury, from whom our 
author probably took this story and the following, calls him 
' Chilon ' (' Polycrat.,' 1. 1, c. 5) : ' Chilon Lacedaemonius, jun- 
gendae societatis causa missus Corinthum, duces et seniores populi 
ludentes invenit in alea. Infecto itaque negotio reversus est,' 
&c. Accordingly, in ver. 12539, MS. C. 1 reads, very rightly, 
' Lacedomye ' instead of l Calidone,' the common reading. Our 
author has used before ' Lacedomie ' for ' Lacedsemon,' (ver. 

Ver. 12542. ' Yplaying atte hazard :' I have added the prepo 
sitive ' y ' for the sake of the metre. ' Atte ' is a dissyllable. It 
was originally 'atten,' and is so used by ' R. G.' (pp. 379, 431). 
It has been frequently corrupted into ' at the ; ' but in Chaucer it 
may, and I think should, almost everywhere be restored. See 
ver. 125, 3934, 4303, where some MSS. have preserved the true 
readings * atte Bowe ; ' l atte full.' 

Ver. 12585. 'His nails:' i. e., with which He was nailed to 
the Cross. Sir J. Mandeville (c. vii.) : ' And thereby in the walle 
is the place where the 4 Nayles of our Lord weren hidd ; for he 
had 2 in his hondes and 2 in his feet : and of one of theise the 
Emperour of Costantynoble made a brydille to his hors, to bere 
him in bataylle; and thorgh vertue thereof he overcame his 
enemies,' &c. He had said before (c. ii.), that l on of the nayles 


that Crist was naylled with on the cross,' was at ' Constanty- 
noble ;' and i on in France, in the Kinges chapelle.' 

Ver. 12586. < The blood in Hailes :' The Abbey of Hailes, in 
Gloucestershire, was founded by Richard, King of the Romans, 
brother to Henry III. This precious relic, which was afterwards 
commonly called l the blood of Hailes ' was brought out of Ger 
many by the son of Richard, Edmund, who bestowed a third 
part of it upon his father's abbey of Hailes, and some time after 
gave the other two parts to an abbey of his own foundation at 
Ashrug, near Berkhampstead. (Hollinsh., v. ii. p. 275.) 

Ver. 12590. 'The bicchel bones two:' The common reading 
is i thilke bones.' The alteration which I have ventured to make 
is not authorised entirely by any MS,, but in part by several. 
MS. A. reads < bicheV C. 1, ' the becched ; ' HA. and H, 'the 
bicched ; ' C., B. 0., N. C., Ed. Ca. 1, < the bicchid ; ' B. a, < the 
bicche ; ' Ed. Ca. 2, l the bitched.' ( Bickel,' as explained by 
Kilian, is ' Talus, ovillus et lusorius ; ' and l Bickelen,' ' talis 
ludere.' See also ' Had. Junii Nomencl.,' n. 213. Our dice, 
indeed, are the ancient ' tesserae ' (KV^OL)^ not ' tali ' (darpayakoi) ; 
but both being games of hazard, the implements of one might be 
easily attributed to the other. It should seem from Junius (loc. 
cit.) that the Germans had preserved the custom of playing with 
the natural bones, as they have different names for a game with 
' tali ovilli,' and another with 'tali bubuli.' 

Ver. 12601. 'Go bet:' The same phrase is used in 'Leg. of 
G. W., Dido,' 288 

' The herd of hartes founden is anon, 
With hey, go bet, pricke thou, let gon, let gon;' 

where it seems to be a term of the chase. 

Ver. 12885. ' Saint Helene ; ' Sir J, Mandeville (c. vii. p. 93) : 
e And nyghe that awtier is a place undre erthe, 42 degrees of 
depenesse, where the Holy Croys was founden, be the wytt of 
Seynte Elyne, undir a roche, where the Jewes had hidde it. 
And that was the veray croys assayed; for they founden 3 
crosses ; on of oure Lord and 2 of the 2 theves : and Seynte 
Elyne proved hem on a ded body, that aros from dethe to lyve, 
whan that it was leyd on it, that oure. Lord dyed on.' (See also 
c. ii. p. 15.) 


Ver. 12914. 1 1 smell a loller : ' This is in character, as appears 
from a treatise of the time (Harl. Catal, n. 1666) : * Now in 
Engelond it is a comun protectioun ayens persecutioun if a man 
is customable to swere nedeles and fals and unavised, by the 
bones, nailes, and sides and other membres of Crist. And to 
absteyne fro othes nedeles and unleful, and repreve sinne by 
way of charite, is mater and cause now, why Prelates and sum 
Lordes sclaundren men, and clepen hem Lollardes, Eretikes/ 

Ver. 12919. < Said the Shipman : ' So MS. B. S, the one MS. 
(as I have said in the ' Discourse,' &c., XXXI.) which coun 
tenances the giving of this prologue to the Shipman. In MSS. 
C. and D. this passage is given to the Sompnour, but not by way 
of prologue to his tale. In C. it is followed by the Wife of 
Bath's Prologue, and in D. by the Prologue which in this edition 
is prefixed to the Squire's Tale. 

When these diversities are considered, and also that the whole 
passage is wanting in the five best MSS., it may perhaps appear 
not improbable that these twenty-eight lines, though composed 
by Chaucer, had not been inserted by him in the body of his 
work ; that they were therefore omitted in the first copies, and 
were afterwards injudiciously prefixed to the Squire's Tale, when 
the true prologue of that tale, as printed above, was become 
unsuitable, by reason of the tale itself being removed out of its 
proper place. 

Ver. 12923. 'Springen cockle:' This seems to shew that 
Chaucer considered l Loller ' as derived from ' lolium ; ' but Du 
Cange, in v. ' Lollardus,' rather supposes that t Lollard ' was a 
word of German original, signifying ' mussitator j 1 a * mumbler ' 
of prayers. (See also Kilian, in T. t Lollaerd.) 

Ver. 12942. <He must us clothe:' In Ed. Ur. it is 'them; 7 
but all the MSS. that I have seen read l us : ' which would lead 
one to suspect that this tale was originally intended for a female 

Ver. 13000. 'Malvesie:' See the note on ver. 9681. 

Ver. 13027. 'Under the yard:' This was properly said of 
children. MS. Bod., Jun. 66, ' Monachicum Colloquium,' Sax. 
Lat., p. 15 : 


4 Mag. Quid manducas in die ? 

Rvfsei ytst thu on dseg ? 
* Dis. Adhuc carnibus vescor, 

Gyt flsescmetum ic bruce, 

quia puer sum 

Fortham cild ic eom 

sub virga degens. 

under gyrda drohtniende.' 

See before, ver. 7898. 

Ver. 13061. 'On my Portos:' i.e., Breviary. Du Cange, in 
v. l Portiforium.' ' Portuasses ' are mentioned among other pro 
hibited books in the Stat. 3 and 4 E. VI., c. 10. And in the 
Parliament-roll of 7 E. IV., n. 40, there is a petition, that the 
robbing of l Porteous, Grayell, Manuell,' &c., should be made 
felony without clergy j to which the King answered, ' Le Roy 

Ver. 13246. < Haven her :' The final < n ' in < haven ' has been 
added for the sake of the metre ; but unnecessarily, as the ( e ' 
feminine may be pronounced before l h,' as before a consonant. 
(See the note on ver. 300.) 

Ver. 13368. ' A thousand last quad year :' < Last,' in Teut, is 
1 onus,' ' sarcina ' (Kilian) ; and ' quaed ' in the same language is 
1 malus.' The meaning, therefore, is ; l God give the monke a 
thousand last (ever so great a weight) of quad yere (bad years, 
misfortune).' The Italians use 'mal anno' in the same sense. 

Ver. 13383. '0 Lord, our Lord:' The Prioress begins her 
legend with the first verses of the 8th Psalm, 'Domine, Dominus 
noster,' &c. 

Ver. 13401. 'When he thine hearte light:' i.e., lighted,- made 
light, or pleasant. So in < Tro.,' b. iii. 1088 : 

' Whan wroth is he that shold my sorrowes light/ 

Ver. 13444. 'Saint Nicholas:' We have an account of the 
very early piety of this Saint in his Lesson, * Brev. Roman.,' vi. 
Decemb. : ' Cujus viri sanctitas, quanta futura esset, jam ab 
incunabulis apparuit. Nam infans, cum reliquas dies lac nutricis 
frequens sugeret, quartd et sexta" feritt (on Wednesdays and 
Fridays) semel duntaxat, idque vesperi, sugebat.' 

Ver. 13509. l Souded in virginity :' or, according to the better 
MSS., ' souded to virginitee.' ' Souded ' is from the Fr. ' souldeY 


and that from the Lat. 'solidatus;' consolidated, fastened to 
gether. In Wycliffe's ' N. T.,' Dedis. iii., ' consolidataj ' is ren 
dered ' sowdid.' The latter part of this stanza refers to Rev. 
xiv. 3, 4. 

Ver. 13575. <I halse thee:' MSS. Ask. 1, 2, read, <I conjure 
thee;' but that seems to be a gloss. 'To halse' signifies pro 
perly { to embrace round the neck/ from the Sax. 'hals,' the 
neck. (See ver. 10253.) So in < CL.,' ver. 1290 : 

' I stand and speke and laugh and kisse and halse.' 
It signifies also < to salute ' (< P. P.,' fol. xxii.) : 

' I halse hym hendjich, as I hys frende were ;' 
and, fol. xxxix., l to salute with reverence ' 

' And the eleven sterres halsed him all ; ' 

which seems to be the sense here. 

Ver. 13597. < Then will I fetchen thee :' The best MSS. read 
'now,' which is scarce reconcilable to any rules of speech. 
Even with the correction which I have adopted, there is a 
greater confusion in this narration than I recollect to have 
observed iii any other of Chaucer's stories. 


AttATtttE \HDCOMfrA 

Chaucer, Geoffrey 
1866 Canterbury tales