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P411F ! 

v . 2 5P erc y ^iiclet; 

Southern Branch 
of the 

University of California 

Los Angeles 

Fovm L-1 

I I I 
1>4- Ue 

This book is DUE on iast date stamped below 

APR ^11924^:^0) _ ^ 
MAY 6 1924 

NOV 8 1? 

V^ rvA^^i^vfef" 


^ercj) ^ocietp. 





f. ON DON 










Corresi>onUing Member of the Institute of France (Academie 
des Inscriptions c^ Belles Lettres). 

4 5 3 9 






€f)t ^ercp ^otitt^. 








J. H. DIXON, Esq. 



J. S. MOORE, Esq. 


T. J. PETTIGREW, Esq. F.R.S., F.S.A. 



THOMAS WRIGHT, Esq. M.A., F.S A.,Trca6urer Sj- Hccreiary. 




Tins worthy lymytour, this noble Frere, 
He made alway a maiier lourjnige cheere 
Upon the Sompnour, but for honeste 
No vileyns worde yit to him spak he. 
But atte last he sayd unto the wyf, 
" Dame," quod he, " God give yow good lyf ! 
Ye han her touchid, al so mot I the. 
In scole matier gret difficulte. 
Ye han sayd mochel thing right wel, I say : 
But, dame, right as we ryden by the way, 
Us needeth nought but for to speke of game, 
And lete auctorites, in Goddes name. 
To precliing and to scoles of clergie. 
But if it like to this companye, 6860 

I wil yow of a sompnour telle a game : 
Parde, ye may wel knowe by the name, 
That of a sompnour may no good be sayd ; 
I pray that noon of yow be evel apayd ; 
A sompnour is a renner up and doun 

6868. — Auctorites. "Auctoritas was the usual word for what we call 
a /e.r/ of Scripture. MS. Harl. 10(5,10. Expositio auctoritatix, Majus 
gaudium super uiio peccatore. Ibid 21. ExponWin mtclontdtim, Stetit 
populus do longc," &c. T(jru'hUt. 

VOL. II. J} 


With maundementz for fomicacioun, 

And is y-bete at every tounes eende." 

Our oste spak, " A ! sir, ye scliold been heendo 

And curteys, as a man of your estaat, 

In company we wol have no debaat : 6870 

Telleth your tale, and let the Sompnour be." 
"Nay," quoth the Sompnour, "let him say to me 

What so him list ; whan it cometh to my lot. 

By God ! I schal him quyten every grot. 

I schal him telle which a gret honour 

Is to ben a fals flateryng lymytour. 

And his oflBs I schal him telle i-wis." 

Oure host answerd, "Pees, no more of this." ''^0 

And after this he sayd unto the Frere, 
" Telleth forth your tale, my leve maister deere." 


Whilom there was dwellyng in my countro 

An erchedeken, a man of gret degre, 

That boldely did execueioun 

In punyschyng of fomicacioun, 

Of vdcchecraft, and eek of bauderj^e, 

Of diffamacioun, and avoutrie, 

6880 — Pea:, no more of this. The Harl. MS. roads, and sayd the 
Sompnour this. 

6882 — leve. This word is omitted in the MS. Harl., but seeins neces- 
sary for the metre, and is adopted from the Lans<lown MS. Tjrwhitt has 
otnen maister. 

The FreresTak. — Itisprohahle that Chaucer tools this admirable story 
from an old fabliau, now lost, or at least unknown. It has however been 
preserved in an abridged form in a tale printed in my Seh'clion of Latin 
Stories, p. 70, under tlie title of Ik Adtmcato ct Dialiolo, from UiePromp- 
tuarium Exemplorum,ti work compiled in the earlier part of the (il'teenth 


Of chirche-reves, and of testamentes, 

Of contractes, and of lak of sacraments, 

And eek of many another manor cryme, 

Wliich needith not to reherse at this tyme, ^890 

Of usur, and of symony also ; 

But certes lecchours did he grettest woo ; 

Thay schulde synge, if thay were heut ; 

And smale tytliers thay were fouly schent, 

If eny persoun wold upon hem pleyne, 

Ther might astert him no pecunial peyne. 

For smale tythes and for smal offrynge, 

He made the poeple pitously to synge. ' 

For er the bisschop caught hem in his hook, 

They weren in the archedeknes book ; ^900 

And hadde thurgh his jurediccioun 

Power to have of hem coi'reccioun. 

He had a sompnour redy to his bond, 

A slyer boy was noon in Engelond ; 

Ful prively he had his espiaile, 

That taughte him wher he might avayhi. 

He couthe spare of lecchours oon or tuo, 

To teclien him to four and twenty mo. 

For though this Sompnour wood were as an hare, 

To telle his harlottry I wol not spare ; 6910 

For we ben out of here correccioun, 

Thay have of us no jurediccioun, 

Ne never schul to terme of alio her lyves. 

0897 — smale tythes andfor smal ojfrijnge. The surnions of the friars in 
th(! foiirtoeiilli century w(M-c most frcqiKnitly ilcsigiioil to impress the 
ah.sohito duty of paying full tithes and oficiings, which were enforced 
by a number of legends and stories. 

B 2 


" Peter ! so been the wommen of the styves," 
Quod this Sompnour, " i-put out of oure cures." 

" Pees! with meschaunce and with mesaveutures !" 
Thus sayd our host, "and let him telle his tale. 
Now telleth forth, although the Sompnour gale, 
Ne spareth nought, myn owne maister deere." 

This false theef, the sompnour, quoth the frere, '5920 
Had alway bawdes redy to his hond. 
As eny hauk to lure in Engelond, 
That told him al the secre that thay knewe. 
For here acqueintaunce was not come of newe ; 
Thay were his approwours prively. 
He took himself a gret profyt therby : 
His maister knew nat alway what he wan. 
Withoute maundement, a lowed man 
He couthe sompne, up peyne of Cristes cuvs, 
And thay were glad to fille wel his purs, f'-'^o 

And make him grete fastis atte nale. 
And right as Judas hadde purses smale 
And was a theef, right such a theef was he. 
His maister had not half his duete; 

6915 — quod this Sompnour. The MS. Harl. reads here. They heth 
i-put al out, etc. 

C932 —Judas. According to the medieval legends, Judas was Christ's 
purse-bearer, and embezzled a part of the money which was given to 
liiiii for his master. We are informed in the metrical life of .Tiida.s, in 
MS. Harl. 2277 (fol. 228, vo..) that— 

Siththe oure Loverd him makede apostle to fondi Ids mod, 

And siththe pursberer of bis )iaiis to spene al his fjod ; 

Fur meni men gyve oure I.ovcrdgod that were of gode tboght, 

To susteyni his apostles, other nadde be noght. 

Ac tbo Juilas withiuue was and bis miabte founde, 

Of oure I.overdes god that be wiste be stal al to grounde ; 

When he nunbte of ecbe thing, the teotbing be wohle stele: 

A scbrewe he was al bis lyC, y ne mai no Icng he!e. 

Wel wistt: oure Loverd thas and al bis litber dede, 

Ac natheles be moste fullulle that the prophetes sede. 


He was (if I schal give him his laude) 
A theef, a sompnour, and eek a baude. 
And he had wenches at his retenue, 
That whethir that sir Robert or sir Hughe, 
Or Jak, or Rauf, or who so that it were 
That lay by hem, thay told it in his eere. ^^^o 

Thus was the wenche and he of con assent. 
And he wold fecche a feyned maundement. 
And sompne hem to chapitre bothe tuo. 
And pyle the man, and let the wenche go. 
Than wold he sayn : " I schal, frend, for thy sake, 
Don strike the out of oure lettres blake ; 
The thar no more as in this cas travayle ; 
I am thy frend ther I the may avayle." 
Certeynly he knew of bribours mo 
Than possible is to telle in yeres tuo : ^9^0 

For in this world nys dogge for the bo we, 
That can an hurt deer from an hoi y-knowe. 
Bet than this sompnour imew a leccheour, 
Or avoutier, or ellis a paramour : 
And for that was the fruyt of al his rent, 
Therfore theron he set al his entent. 
And so bifel, that oones on a day 
This sompnour, ever wayting on liis pray, 
Rod forth to sompne a widew, an old ribibe, 
FeynjTig a cause, for he wolde han a bribe. 6960 

And happed that he say bifore him ryde 
A gay yeman imder a forest syde : 

6960 — han a. These words are oiiiitltil in llic Hurl ami Laiisd. MSS. 


A bow he bar, and arwes bright and kene, 

He had iqwn a courtepy of grene, 

An hat upon his heed, with frenges blake. 

" Sir," quod this sompnour, " heyl and wel overtake !" 

" Welcome," quod he, " and every good felawe ; 
Winder ridestow under this grene schawe?" 
Sayde this yiman, " Wiltow fer to day?" 
This sompnour answerd, and sayde, " Nay. ^^''O 

Her faste by," quod he, " is myn entent 
To ryden, for to reysen up a rent, 
That longith to my lordes duete." 

" Artow than a bayely ?" " Ye," quod he. 
He durste not for verray filth and schame 
Sayn that he was a sompnour, for the name. 

" De par dieux!'' quod the yeman, " lieve brother, 
Thou art a bayly, and I am another. 
I am unknowen, as in this centre ; 
Of thin acqueintauce I wol praye the, ^>^^^ 

And eek of brotherheed, if it yow lest. 
I have gold and silver in my chest ; 
If that the happe come into oure schire, 
Al schal be tliin, right as thou wolt desire." 

" Graunt mercy," quod this sompnour, " by my faith!" 
Everich in otheres hond his trouthe laith, 
For to be sworne bretheren til thay deyen. 
In daliaunce forth thay ride and pleyen. 

6974 — Ye. This word is omitted in the Hail. MS., probably by an 

0987 — sivornc brethiren. The custom of swearing fraternity has been 
already alhideil to in a note on line 1134. 


This sompnour, which that was as ful as jangles, 

As ful of venym ben these weryangles, 6990 

And ever enquering upon every tiling, 
" Brother," quod he, " wher now is youi* dwellyng, 

Another day if that I schuld yow seeche ? " 

This yiman him answered in softe speche ; 
" Brother," quod he, " fer in the north contre, 

Wheras I hope somtyme I schal the se. 

Er we depart I schal the so wel wisse, 

That of myn hous ne schal tow never misse." 

"Now brother," quod this sompnour, " I yow pray, 

Teche me, whil that we ryden by the way, ^ooo 

Syn that ye ben a baily as am I, 

Som subtilte, as tel me faithfully 

In myn office how that I may wynne. 

And spare not for conscious or for synne. 

But, as my brother, tel me how do ye." 

" Now, by my trouthe, brothir myn," sayd he, 
" As I schal telle the a faithful tale. 

My wages ben ful streyt and eek ful smale ; 

My lord to me is hard and daungerous. 

And myn office is ful laborous ; 'Oio 

And therfor by extorciouns I lyve, 

Fosoth I take al that men wil me give, 

Algate by sleighte or by violence 

Fro yer to yer I wynne my despence ; 

I can no better telle faithfully." 

(5995 — north conlrc. Accordiug to medieval legonds, hell Lay to tlie 
iiortli, (see my Palrick'.s Piirgatory) so tliiit there is irony in this rejtlv. 

7009 — hard. The Harl. MS. reads s/ni/l, jirohalily a mere error, 
arising from the occurrence ol'the same word in the preceding line 


" Now certes," quod this sompnour, " so fare I : 
I spare not to take, God it woot, 
But if it be to hevy or to hoot. 
What I may gete in counseil prively, 
No more consciens of that have I. '^^^^ 

Nere myu extorcious, I might not lyven, 
Ne of such japes I wil not be schriven. 
Stomak ne conscience know I noon ; 
I schrew thes schrifte-fadres everychoon. 
Wei be we met, by God and by seint Jame ! 
But, leve brother, telle me thy name," 
Quod this sompnour. In this mene while 
Tliis yeman gan a litel for to smyle. 
" Brothir," quod he, " woltow that I the telle ? 
I am a feend, my dwellyng is in helle, '030 

And her I ryde about my purchasyng, 
To wite wher men wol give me eny thing. 
My purchas is theffect of al my rent. 
Loke how thou ridest for the same entent 
To Wynne good, thou rekkist never how, 
Eight so fare I, for ryde I wolde now 
Unto the wo rides ende for a pray." 

" A!" quod the sompnour, " henedicitc, what ye say? 
I wende ye were a yeman trewely. 
Ye han a mainies schap as wel as I. 7040 

Have ye a figure than determinate 

7018 — to hevy or to hoot. This was a common expression. Tyrwhitt 
quotes an example from Froissart, v. i. c. 229, nelaissoient rien a prendre, 
s'il n'cstoit trop chaud, trop froid, on trop pesant. 

7041 — -figure than determinate. In this and the following linos, Chaucer 
enters into the ordinary philosophical speculations of his time on the 
nature of spirits. 


In helle, thcr ye ben in your estate?" 
" Xay, certeynly," quod he, " ther have we non, 

But whan us likith we can take us on, 

Or ellis make yow seme that we ben schape 

Som tyme like a man, or like an ape ; 

Or lik an aungel can I ryde or go ; 

It is no wonder thing though it be so, 

A lousy jogelour can decep'e the. 

And, parfay, yit can I more craft than he." '•^■^'^ 

"Why," quod this sompnour, "ryde ye than or goon 

In sondry wjse, and nought alway in oon r" 
" For," quod he, " we w'ol us in such forme make. 

As most abil is oure pray to take." 
" What makith yow to have al this labour r" 
" Ful many a cause, lieve sir sompnour," 

Sayde this feend. " But al thing hath a tyme ; 

The day is schort, and it is passed prime. 

And yit ne wan I nothing in this day ; 

1 wol cntent to wynnyng, if I may, '""^ 

And not entende oure thinges to declare : 

For, brother myn, tliy wit is al to bare 

To understond although I told hem the. 

For but thou axid whi laboure we ; 

7044 — take. The Harl. MS. has make, but the readinp; of 
the Lansd. MS., here adopted, seems best. 

704.') — yoiv seme, i.e. make it seem to you. Tjrwhitt reads 
icene, but the reading of the present text is supported by the 
best MSS. 

7040 — lousy jogelour. The jogelour (joculator) was originally 
the minstrel, and at an earlier peiiod was an important member 
of society. He always combined mimicry and mountebank per- 
formances with poetry and music. In Cliaucer's time he had so 
far degenerated as to have become a mere mountebank, and, as 
i( appears, to have merited the energetic epithet hero apjilii^d 
III him. 


For soia tyiue we ben Goddis instrumentcs, 

And menes to don his comaundementes, 

Whan that him list, upon his creatures, 

In divers act and in divers figures. 

Withouten him we have no might certeyn, 

If that him liste stonde ther agayn. ■^"■^'^ 

And som tyme at our prayer have we leeve, 

Only the body, and not the soule greve : 

Witness on Jobe, whom we dide ful wo. 

And som tjTne have we might on bothe tuo, 

This is to say of body and soule eeke. 

And som tyme be we sufFred for to seeke 

Upon a man, and doon his soule unrest 

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

Whan he withstondith oure temptacioun, 

It is a cause of his savacioun, '^^^'^ 

Al be it so it was nought oure entent 

He schiild be sauf, but that we wold him hent. 

And som tyme we ben servaunt unto man, 

As to therchebisschop seynt Dunstan, 

And to thapostolis, servaunt was I." 

" Yit tel me," quod the sompnour, " faithfully, 
Make ye yow newe bodies alway 
Of elementz ?" The fend answerde, " Nay : 
Som tyme we feyne, and som tyme we ryse 
With dede bodies, in ful wonder ^vyse, ^3" 

7085 — seynt Dunstan. This probably alludes to some popular 
story of Dunstan now lost. 

7090 — dede bodies. The adoption of the bodies of the deceased 
by evil spirits in theii* wanderings upon earth, was an important 
part of the medieval superstitions of this counti-y, and enters 
largely into a variety of legendary stories found in the old 


And speke renably, and as fair and wel, 

As to the Phitonissa dede Samuel : 

And yit wol somme say, it was not he. 

I do no fors of your divinite. 

But oon thing wame I the, I wol not jape. 

Thou wilt algates wite how we ben schape : 

Thow schalt herafter-ward, my brother deere. 

Come, wher the nedith nothing for to leere, 

For thou schalt by thin oughn experience 

Conne in a chayer reden of this sentence, '^i^o 

Bet than Virgile, whils he was on lyve, 

Or Daunt also. Now let us ryde blyve, 

For I wol holde company \nth the, 

Til it be so that thou forsake me." 

'Nay," quod the sompnour, "that schal nought betyde. 
I am a yiman that knowen is ful wyde ; 
My trouthe wol I hold, as in this caas. 
For though thou be the devyl Sathanas, 
My trouthe wol I holde to the, my brother, 
As I am swore, and ech of us to other, 71 lO 

For to be trewe bretheren in this caas ; 
For bothe we goon abouten oure purchas. 
Tak thou thi part, and that men wil the gyven, 
And I schal myn, thus may we bothe lyven. 
And if eny of us have more than other. 
Let him be trewe, and part it with liis brother." 

' I graunte," quod the devel, " by my fay!" 
And with that word thay riden forth her way ; 
And riglit at thcntryng of a towues cnde, 
To which this sompnour scliopc him for to wcndc, 'i"-^^' 


Thay scigh a cart, that chargid was with hay. 

Which that a carter drof forth in his way. 

Deep was the way, for which the carte stood : 

This carter smoot, and cryde as he wer wood, 
" Hayt, brok ; hayt, stot ; what spare ye for the stoones ? 

The fend," quod he, " yow fech body and bones, 

As ferforthly as ever wer ye folid ! 

So moche wo as I have with yow tholid ! 

The devyl have al, bothe cart, and hors, and hay!" 

This sompnour sayde, " Her schal we se play." ''^30 

And ner the feend he drough, as nought ne were, 

Ful prively, and rouned in his eere : 
" Herke, my brother, herke, by thi faith ! 

Ne herest nought thou what the carter saith ? 

Hent it anoon, for he hath given it the, 

Bothe hay and caples, and eek his cart, parde !" 
" Nay," quod the devyl, " God wot, never a del. 

It is nought his entente, trustith wel, 

Ask it thiself, if thou not trowist me, 

Or ellis stint a while and thou schalt se." ^140 

This carter thaklveth his hors upon the crouj)e. 

And thay bygon to drawen and to stowpe. 
" Hayt now," quod he, " ther Jhesu Crist yow blesse, 

And al his hondwerk, bothe more and lesse ! 

That was wel twight, myn oughne lyard, boy, 

I pray God save thy body and seint Loy. 

Now is my cart out of the sloo parde!" 
"Lo! brother," quod the feend, "what told I the? 

7130 — se play. The Lausd. MS. reads, have a ylcie. Tyrwhitt's 
reading is, have a pray. 


Her may ye seen, myn owne deere brother, 

The carter spak oon thing, and thought another. 71 50 

Let us go forth abouten our ■vaage ; 

Hier wynne I nothing upon cariage." 

Whan that thay comen somwhat out of toune, 

This sompnour to his brothir gan to roune ; 
" Brothir," quod he, " her wonyth an old rebekke, 

That had almost as lief to leese hir necke, 

As for to give a peny of hir good. 

I wol ban twelf pens though that sche go wood, 

Or I wol somone hir to oure office ; 

And yit, God wot, I know of hir no vice. ''•^o 

But for thou canst not, as in this contre, 

Wynne thy cost, tak her ensample of me." 

This sompnour clapped at the widowes gate ; 
" Com out," quod he, " thou olde viritrate ; 

I trowe thou hast som frere or prest with the." 
" Who clappith ther?" sayd this widow, '' benedicite! 

God save yow, sir ! what is your swete wille ?" 
"I have," quod he, " a somonamice of a bille, 

Up payne of cursyng, loke that thou be 

To morwe bifom our erchedeknes kne, 7170 

To answer to the court of certeyn thinges." 
"Now," quod sche, " Jhesu Crist, and king of lunges, 

So wisly helpe me, as I ne may. 

I have ben seek, and that fid many a day. 

I may not goon so for," quod sche, " ne ryde, 

But I be deed, so prikith it in my syde. 

7158 — wol han iwelf. By a curious error of the scribe, these three 
words are cotitractud into wulf in the Harl. MS. 


May I nat aske a lybel, sir sompnour, 

And answer tlier by my procuratour 

To suche thing as men wol oppose me?" 
" Yis,"quod this sompnour, "pay anoon, let se, 7180 

Twelf pens to me, and I the wil acquite. 

I schal no profyt have therby but lite : 

My may star hath the profyt and not I. 

Com of, and let me lyden hastily ; 

Gif me my twelf pens, I may no longer tary." 
" Twelf pens?" quod sche, " now lady seinte Mary 

So wisly help me out of care and synne, 

This wj^de world though that I schulde wynne, 

Ne have 1 not twelf pens withinne myn hold. 

Ye knowen wel that I am pore and old ; 'l^*) 

Kithe youre almes on me pore wrecche." 
"Nay than," quod he, "the foule fend me fecche! 

If I thexcuse, though thou schalt be spilt." 
"Alias!" quod sche, " God wot, I have no gilt." 
"Pay me," quod he, " or by the swet seint Anne! 

As I wol here away thy newe panne 

For dette, which thou owest me of old, 

Whan that thou madest thin housbond cokewold, 

I payd at horn for thy correccioun." 
"Thou lixt," quod sche, "by my savacioun, 7200 

Ne was I never er now, wydow ne wyf, 

Somound unto your court in al my lyf ; 

Ne never I was but of my body trewe. 

Unto the devel rough and blak of hiewe 

7186 — twelf pens. The penny was at tliis time a coiiuif much grnater 
relative value tlian the coin known i;niler that name at the present day. 


Give I thy body and the panne also!" 
And whan the devyl herd hii' curse so 
Upon hir knees, he sayd in this manere ; 
" Now, Mahely, myn owne modir deere, 

Is this your wil in emest that ye seye?" 
"The devel," quod sche, " fecche him er he deye, 7210 
And panne and al, but he wol him repente!" 

" Nay, olde stot, that is not myn entente. 
Quod this sompnour, for to repente me 
For eny thing that I have had of the ; 
I wold I had thy smok and every cloth." 

"Now brothir," quod the devyl, " be not wroth ; 
Thy body and this panne is myn by right. 
Thow schalt \vith me to helle jit to night, 
Wher thou schalt knowen of oure privete 
More than a maister of divinite." ''220 

And \vith that word the foule fend him hente ; 
Body and soule, he with the devyl wente, 
Wher as the sompnours han her heritage ; 
And God that maked after his ymage 
Mankynde, save and gyde us alle and some, 
And leeve this Sompnour good man to bycome. 

"Lordyngs, I couth han told yow," quod the frere, 
" Had I had leysir for this Sompnour here, 
After the text of Crist, and Powel, and Jon, 
And of oure other doctours many oon, 7230 

Such peynes that our hcrte might agrise, 
Al be it so, no tonge may devyse. 
Though that I might a thousand wynter telle. 
The peyn of thilke cursed hous of helle. 


But for to kepe us from that cursed place, 

Waluth, and prayetli Jhesu for his grace, 

Sc kepe us fro the temptour Sathanas. 

Herknith this word, both war as in this cas. 

The lyoun syt in his awayt alway 

To slen the innocent, if that he may. ''240 

Disposith youre hertes to withstonde 

The fend, that wolde make yow thral and bonde ; 

He may not tempte yow over your might, 

For Crist wol be your champioun and knight ; 

And prayeth, that oure Sompnour him repente 

Of his mysdede, er that the fend him hente." 


This Sompnour in his styrop up he stood. 
Upon the Frere his herte was so wood. 
That lyk an aspen leef he quok for ire : 
" Lordyngs," quod he, " but oon thing I desire 7250 
I yow biseke, that of your curtesye, 
Syn ye ban herd this false Frere lye, 
As suffrith me I may my tale telle. 
This Frere bosteth that he knowith helle, 
And, God it wot, that is litil wonder, 
Freres and feendes been but litel asonder. 
For, pardy, ye ban often tyme herd telle. 
How that a frere ravyscht was to helle 
In spirit ones by a visioun. 

And as an aungel lad him up and doun, 7260 

To schewen him the peynes that ther were 


In al the place saugh he not a frere, 
Of other folk he saugh y-nowe in wo. 
Unto this aungel spak this frere tho ; 

' Now, sire,' quod he, 'han freres such a grace. 
That noon of hem schal comen in this place ?' 

' Yis, ' quod this aungil, ' many a mylioun.' 
And unto Sathanas he lad him doun. 

' And now hath Sathanas,' saith he, 'a tayl 
Broder than of a carrik is the sayl.' '27o 

* Hold up thy tayl, thou Sathanas,' quod he, 

' Schew forth thyn ars, and let the frere se, 
Wher is the nest of freres in this place.' 
And er than half a forlong way of space, 
Right so as bees swarmen out of an hyve. 
Out of the develes ers thay gonne dryve, 
Twenty thousand freres on a route, 
And thorughout helle swarmed al aboute, 
And comen agen, as fixst as thay may goon. 
And in his ers thay crepen everichoon : ^'iso 

He clappid his tayl agayn, and lay ful stille. 
This frere, whan he loked had his fille 
Upon the torment of tliis sory place, 
His spirit God restored of his grace 
Unto his body agayn, and he awook ; 
But natheles for fere yit he quook. 
So was the develes ers yit in his mynde. 
That is his heritage of verray kynde. 
God save yow alle, save this cursed Frere ; 
My proloug wol I ende in this manere." 7'j;io 



LoRDYKGs, tlier is in Engelond, I gesse, 
A mcrsschly loud called Holdeniesse, 
In which ther went a lymytour aboute 
To preche, and eek to begge, it is no doute. 
And so bifel it on a day this frere 
Had preched at a chirch in his manere, 
And specially aboven every thing 
Excited he the poepul in his preching 
To trentals, and to give for Goddis sake, 
Whei-with men mighten holy houses make, ''^^o 

Ther as divine seiTys is honoured, 
Nought ther as it is wasted and devoured ; 
Neither it needeth not for to be give 
As to possessioneres, that mow lyve. 
Thanked be God ! in wele and abundaunce. 
"Trentals," sayd he, " delyvereth fro penaunce 
Her frendes soules, as wel eld as yonge. 
Ye, whanne that thay hastily ben songe, 
Nought for to hold a prest jolif and gay. 
He syngith not but oon masse in a day. 7310 

The Sompjiourcs Tale. I have not met witli this story elsewhere. It 
is a bitter satire on the covetousness of the friars, who were eager and 
officious attendants on the death-beds of those who had anything to give 
away. In this respect, it may be compared with the satirical notices in 
Piers Ploughman's Creede. 

7292 — Holdernesse. This district lies on the coast of Yorkshire. 

7300 — houses. The Harl. MS. reads sonks. 

7304 — possessioneres — i.e. the regular orders of monks, who possessed 
landed property, and enjoyed rich revenues. The friars were forbidden 
by their rule to possess property, which they only did under false pre- 
tences ; they depended for support on voluntary offerings. 

7306 — Trentals. A service of thirty masses, for which the 
friars required a much greater sum than for a single mass. 


Delyverith out, " quod he, " anoon the souh;s. 
Ful hard it is, with fleischhok or with oules 
To ben y-clawed, or brend, or i-bake : 
Now speed yow hastily for Cristes sake." 

And whan this frere had sayd al his entent, 
With qui cum patre forth his way he went. 
Whan folk in chirch had give him what hem lest, 
He went his way, no lenger wold he rest. 
With scrip and pyked staf, y-touked hye : 
In every hous he gan to pore and prye, "^^'^^ 

And beggyd mele or chese, or ellis com. 
His felaw had a staf typped with horn, 
A payr of tablis al of yvoiy, 
And a poyntel y-polischt fetisly, 
And wroot the names alway as he stood, 
Of alle folk that gaf him eny good, 
Ascaunce that he wolde for hem preye. 
"Gif us a busshel whet, or malt, or reye, 
A Goddes kicliil, or a trip of chese, 

7311 — anoon. This word is omitted in the Harl. MS. 

7312 — fleisrhhnk or with oules. In the old paintings and ilhiminations, 
ropro.snntin<» tlie infernal regions, the fiends are pictured tearing and 
picrcini; the wicked with hooks and other similar instruments, while they 
are roasting in fires and hoiling in pots, or tormented in other similar 

7.S1C — q\ii cum patrc. The conclusion of the formula of final hene- 
diction. MS. Harl. omits the words his way, which seem necessary for 
tlie metre. 

7329 — A Goddex Icichil. Tyrwhitt explains this phrase hy a note of 
M. De la Monnayc on the Contcs of 15onav(mturo dps Periers, t. ii, 
p. 107. Hclle nrrrure de 7>f(;!<. .expression du petit peuple, qui rapporte 
pieusement tout a Dieti. — Rien n'est plus commnn dans la houche des 
hoiuics vieilles, que ces esp6ecs d'llehraismes : II m'cn rnutr nn hcl eru 
di: DIeu ; II ne vie rente qiif ce pcnirre enfant de Dieu ; Donne:: moi nne 
benile aumunc de Dieu. So wo have Iwolines l)elow,o Goddex hfilpeny. 

V 2 


Or elles what yow list, we may not chese ; 7330 

A Goddes halpeny, or a masse peny ; 
Or gif us of youre braune, if ye have eny, 
A dagoim of your blanket, leeve dame, 
Oure suster deer, — lo ! her I write your name — 
Bacoun or beef, or such thing as we fynde." 
A stourdy harlot ay went hem byhpide, 
That was her hostis man, and bar a sak, 
And what men gaf hem, layd it on his bak. 
And whan that he was out atte dore, anoon 
He planed out the names everychoon, 7340 

That he biforn had wTiten in his tablis : 
He served hem with nyfles and with fablis. 
" Nay, ther thou lixt, thou Sompnour,"saydtheFrere. 

" Pees," quod our host, " for Cristes moder deere, 
Tel forth thy tale, and spare it not at al." 

" So thrive I," quod the Sompnour, "so I schal !" 
So long he wente hous by hous, til he 
Cam til an hous, ther he was wont to be 
Eefresshid mor than in an hundrid placis. 
Syk lay the housbond man, whos that the place is, 7350 
Bedred upon a couche lowe he lay : 

" Deus hie," quod he, " Thomas, frend, good day!" 
Sayde this frere al curteysly and softe. 

" Thomas, God yeld it yow, ful ofte 
Have I upon this bench i-fare ful wel. 
Her have I eten many a mery mel." 
And fro the bench he drof away the cat, 

7352 — DeiLs hie ! God be here ! the ordinary foriiiiila of benediction 
on entering a house. 


And laycl adoun his potent and bis hat, 
And eek his scrip, and set him soft adoun : 
His felaw was go walkid in tlie toun ''•^''^ 

Forth with his knave, into the ostelrye, 
Wher as he schop him thilke night to lye. 
" O deere maister," quod the seeke man, 
' How have ye fare siththe March bygan ? 
I saygh yow nought this fourtenight or more." 

" God wot," quod he, " bxbord have I ful sore ; 
And specially for thy salvacioun 
Have I sayd many a precious orisouu, 
And for myn other frendes, God hem blesse. 
I have to day ben at your chirche at messe, '^'^'^^ 

And sayd a sermoun after my simple wit, 
Nought al after the text of holy wryt. 
For it is hard for yow, as I suppose, 
And therfor wil I teche yow ay the glose. 
Glosyng is a ful glorious thing certayn. 
For letter sleth, so as we clerkes sayn. 
Tlier have I taught hem to be charitable, 
And spend her good ther it is resonable ; 
And ther I seigh oiir dame, wher is she ?" 
" Yond in the yerd I trowe that sche be," '3S0 

Sayde this man, " and sche wil come anoon." 

" Ey, mayster, welcome be ye, by seint Johan !" 
Sayde this wyf, " how fare ye hertily?" 

The frere ariseth up ful curteysly. 
And her embracith in his armes narwe, 
And kist hir swetc, and cliirkith as a sparwe 
With his lippes : " Dame," (juod be, " right wel. 
As h(,' that is your servuunt evervdel. 


Thankyd he ( lod, that yow gaf soule and lif, 

Yit saugh I not this day so fair a wyf ^390 

In al the chirche, God so save me." 

" Ye, God amend defautes, sir," quod sche, 
" Algates -welcome be ye, by my fay." 

" Graunt mercy, dame; this have I found alway. 
But of yoiu' grete goodnes, by youre leve, 
I wolde pray yow that ye yow not greeve, 
I wil with Thomas speke a litel throwe : 
These curates ben ful negligent and slowe 
To grope tendurly a conscience. 
In schrift and preching is my diligence, ^loo 

And study in Petres wordes and in Poules, 
I walk and fissche Cristen mennes soules. 
To yelde Jhesu Crist his propre rent ; 
To spreden his woi'd is al myn entent." 

" Now, by your leve, o deere sir," quod sche, 
" Chyd him riglit wel for seinte Trinite. 
He is as angry as a pissemyre, 
Though that he have al that he can desire, 
Though I him wrye on night, and make him warm, 
And over him lay my leg other myn arm, 74io 

He groneth lik our boor, that lith in sty : 
Othir disport of him right noon have I, 
I may please him in no maner caas." 

" Thomas, jeo vous dy, Tliomas, Thomas, 
This makth the feend, this moste ben amcndid. 
Ire is a thing that highe God defendid. 
And therof wold I speke a word or tuo." 

" Now, maister," quod the wyf, " cr that I go, 
Wliat wil \T' dine ? I wil m) theraboutc." 


" Now, dame," quod he,"Jeo voiis dij sannz duale, '^■^20 
Have I not of a capoun but the lyvere, 
And of your softe brede but a schivere, 
And after that a rostyd pigges heed, 
(But that I wold for me no best were deed) 
Than had I with yow homly suffisamice. 
I am a man of litel sustinaunce. 
My spirit hath his fostryng on the Bible. 
The body is ay so redy and so penyble 
To wake, that my stomak is destroyed. 
I pray yow, dame, that ye be not anoyed, 7430 

For I so frendly yow my counseil schewe ; 
By God ! I nold not telle it but a fewe." 

" Now, sir," quod sche, " but o word er I go. 
My child is deed withinne this wykes tuo. 

Soon after that ye went out of this toun." 
" His deth saugh I by revelacioun," 

Sayde this frere, " at hoom in oure dortour. 

I dar wel sayn, er that half an hour 

After his deth, I seigh him born to blisse 

In myn avysioun, so God me wisse. 7i40 

So did our sextein, and our fermerere, 

That han ben trewe freres fifty yere ; 

Thay may now, God be thanked of his lone, 

Maken her jubile, and walk alloone. 

7444 — juhiU. " See Ducange in v. Sempcclai. Peculiar honours 
and immunities were granted by the Rule of St. Benedict to thi)se monks, 
qui quinquaginla atuws in ordinc. excgerant, quos annum juhilwum exeyisse 
vulgo dicimus. It is probable that some similar roj;ulation obtained in 
the other orders." Tijrwhitt. The Ilarl. MS. has manij instead of fiflu, 
which reading is given by MS. Lansd., and would seem by the context to 
be the correct one. 


And up I roos, and al our covent eeke, 

With many a teere trilling on my cheeke, 

Te Deum was our song, and nothing ellis, 

Withouten noys or clateryng of bellis, • 

Save that to Crist I sayd an orisoun, 

Thankyng him of my revelacioun. ' '•^" 

For, sire and dame, trustith me right wel, 

Our orisouns ben more efiectuel, 

And more we se of Goddis secre tliinges. 

Than borel folk, although that thay ben lunges. 

We lyve in povert, and in abstmence, 

And borel folk in riches and dispence 

Of mete and drink, and in her ful delyt. 

We han al this worldes lust al in despyt. 

Lazar and Dives lyveden diversely, 

And divers guerdoun hadde thay thereby. '160 

Who so wol praye, he must faste, and be clone, 

And fatte his soule, and make his body lene. 

We faren, as saith thapostil ; cloth and foode 

Sufficeth us, though thay ben not goode. 

The clennes and the fastyng of us freres 

Makith that Crist acceptith oure prayeres. 

Lo, Moyses fourty dayes and fourty night 

Fasted, er that the highe God of might 

Spak with him in the mount of Synay : 

7454 — borel folk — laymen. The term appears to have arisen from tlie 
material of their clotbiug which was not used by the clergy. 

7458 — lust al. I have adopted this reading I'rom the Lansdowue MS., 
as the reading of the Harl. MS., delit, seems to liave been an error of the 
scribe, who bad in his ears the last word of the preceding line. 

7161 — he must. These words, omitted in Ihe Harl. MS., seem neces- 
sary to the sense. 


With empty wombe fastyng many a day, ''■^'^ 

Receyved he the lawe, that was writen 
With Goddis fynger ; and Eli, wel ye witen, 
. In mount Oreb, er he had any speche 
With highe God, that is oure lyves leche. 
He fastid, and was in contemplacioun. 
Aron, that had the temple in govemacioun, 
And eek the other prestes eveiychoon. 
Into the temple whan thay schulden goon 
To preye for the poeple, and doon servise, 
Thay nolden drinken in no maner wise ''■^'^'^ 

No drynke, which that dronke might hem make. 
But ther in abstinence prey and wake, 
Lest that thay dedin : tak heed what I say — 
But thay ben sobre that for the pepul pray — 
War that I say — no mor : for it suffisith. 
Oui'e Lord Jhesu, as oure lore devysith, 
Gaf us ensampil of fastyng and prayeres : 
Therfore we mendinauntz, we sely freres, 
Ben wedded to povert and to continence. 
To charite, humblesse, and abstinence, 7-^90 

To persecucioun for rightwisnesse. 
To wepyng, misericord, and clennesse. 
And thcrfor may ye seen that oure prayeres 
(I spcke of us, we mendeaunts, we freres) 
Ben to the hihe God mor acceptable 
Than youres, with your festis at your table. 
Fro Paradis first, if I schal not lye, 

7186 — oure Ion-, The Laus.d. MS. reads, holi/ doil. ami Tyruhitt 
gives hull/ writ. 


Was man out chaced for his glotonye, 

And chast was man in Paradis ceiteyn. 

But now herk, Thomas, what I schal the seyn, ^ooo 

I ne have no tixt of it, as I supj)ose, 

But I schal iynd it in a maner glose ; 

That specially our swete Lord Jhesus 

Spak this by freres, whan he sayde thus, 

Blessed be thay that pover in spirit ben. 

And so forth in the gospel ye may seen, 

Whether it be likir oure professioun, 

Or hens that swymmen in possessioun. 

Fy on her pomp, and on her glotenye, 

And on her lewydnesse ! I hem defye. '^lo 

Me thinldth thay ben lik Jovynian, 

Fat as a whal, and walken as a swan ; 

Al vinolent as hotel in the spence. 

Her prayer is of ful gret reverence ; 

Whan thay for soules sayn the Psalm of David, 

Lo, boef thay say, Cor meuvi eructavit. 

Who fohvith Cristes gospel and his lore 

But wc, that humble ben, and chast, and pore. 

Workers of Goddes word, not auditours ? 

Therfor right as an luiuk upon a sours 7520 

Upspringeth into thaer, right so prayeres 

Of charitabil and chaste busy freres 

Maken her sours to Goddis eeres tuo. 

7511 — Jovynian. Frobably an allusion to an emperor Jovinian, cele- 
brated in the Gesta Romanorum (c. lix.) and in other medieval legends, 
lor his pride and luxury. In the sixteenth century, the story was in 
France worked into a morality, under the title L'orijueil et presomption 
de I'empcreur Jovinien. It is the same story as that of Robert king of 
Sicily, iu the early English romance. 


Thomas, Thomas, so mote I ryde or go, 

And by that Lord that clejiid is semt Ive, 

Ner thou oure brother, schuldestow never thrive. 

In oure chapitre pray we day and night 

To Crist, that he the sonde hele and might 

Thy body for to welden hastily." 

" God wot," quod he, " therof nought feele T, '530 
As help me Crist, as I in fewe yeeres 
Have spendid upon many divers freres 
Ful many a pound, yit fare I never the bet ; 
Certeyn my good have I almost byset : 
Farwel my gold, for it is almost ago." 
The frere answerd, " Thomas, dostow so ? 
What needith yow dyverse freres seche ? 
What needith him that hath a parfyt leche, 
To sechen othir leches in the toun ? 
Youre inconstance is youre confusioun. 7540 

Holde ye than me, or elles oui'e covent, 
To praye for yow insufficient? 
Thomas, that jape is not worth a myte ; 
Youre malady is for we have to lite. 
A ! give that covent half a quarter otes ; 
A ! give that covent four and twenty grotes; 
A ! give that frere a peny, and let him go : 
Nay, nay, Thomas, it may nought be so. 
What is a fcrtliing worth depart in tuelve ? 
Lo, ech thing that is ooned in himselve 7550 

Is more strong than whan it is to-skatrid. 
Thomas, of me thou schalt not ben y-flatrid, 
Thow woldist ha\e our labour ul for nought. 


The hihe God, that al tliis workl hath wrought, 

Saith, that the werkman is worthy of his hyre. 

Thomas, nought of your tresor I desire 

As for myself, hut for that oure coveut 

To pray for yow is ay so dihgent : 

And for to buylden Cristes holy chirche. 

Thomas, if ye wil leme for to wirche, '''^''•' 

Of buyldyng up on chirches may ye fynde 

If it be good, in Thomas lyf of Ynde. 

Ye lye her ful of anger and of ire, 

With which the devel set your hert on fuyre. 

And chyden her the holy innocent 

Youi' wyf, that is so meke and pacient. 

And therfor trow me, Thomas, if thou list, 

Ne stryve nought with thy wyf, as for thi best. 

And her this word away now by thy faith, 

Touchuige such thhig, lo, the wise man saith : '^^^^ 

Witliinne thin hous be thou no lyoun ; 

To thy subjects do noon oppressioun ; 

Ne make thyn acqueyntis fro the fle. 

And yit, Thomas, eftsons I charge the, 

Be war for ire that in thy bosom slepith, 

War for the serpent, that so slely crepith 

Under the gras, and styugith prively ; 

Be war, my sone, and werk paciently, 

For twenty thousend men han lost her lyves 

For stiyvyng with her lemmans and her wyves. '^so 

7562 — in Thomas lyf of Ynde. I find nothing of the sort in the life of 
St. Thomas. Perhaps the friar is made to quote at random, reckoning 
upon the ignorance of his auditor. 


Now syns ye han so holy and meeke a wif, 

What nedith yow, Thomas, to make strif ? 

Ther nys i-wis no sei^pent so cruel. 

When men trede on liis tail, ne half so fel. 

As womman is, whan sche hath caught an ire ; 

Vengeans is thanne al that thay desire. 

Schortly may no man, by rym and vers, 

Tellen her thoughtes, thay ben so dyvers. 

Ire is a sinne, con the grete of sevene, 

Abhominable to the God of hevene, 

Aiid to himself it is destruccioun. 

This every lewed vicoiy or parsoun ''•^'•o 

Can say, how ire engendrith homicide ; 

Ire is in soth executour of pride. 

I couthe of ire seyn so moche sorwe. 

My tale schulde laste til to morwe. 

Ire is the grate of synne, as saitli the wise. 

To fle therfro ech man schuld him devyse. 

And therfor pray I God bothe day and night, 

An irous man God send him litil might. 

It is greet harm, and also gret pite, 

To set an irous man in high degre. 

" Whilom ther was an irous potestate, 
As seith Senek, that duryng his estaat ^ooo 

Upon a day out riden knightes tuo ; 

7587 — Schort'y, etc. Tliis and the following line are not in Tyr- 
wliitt's text. 

7595 — Ire, etc. This line and the following are not in Tyrwhitt. 

7600 — Senek. This story is told of Cornelius I'iso, liy Seneca, tie Ira, 
lib. 1. c. xvi. It is also found in the Gefia liomanorum.vihcie. it is lold 
of an emperor named Eraclius. 


And, as fortune wolde riglit as it were so, 

That con of hem cam home, that other nought. 

Anoon the knight bifore the juge is brought, 

That sayde thus : thou hast thy felaw slayn, 

For which I dame the to deth certayn. 

And to anothir knight comaundid he : 

Go, lede him to the deth, I charge the. 

And happed, as thay wente by the weye 

Toward the place ther he schulde deye, ^eio 

The knight com, which men wend hadde be deed. 

Than thoughten thay it were the beste reed 

To lede hem bothe to the juge agayn. 

Thay sayden. Lord, the knight hath not slayn 

His felaw ; lo, heer he stont hool on Ip'e. 

Ye schal be deed, quod he, so mote I thrive ! 

That is to sayn, bothe oon, tuo, and thre. 

And to the firste knyght right thus spak he : 

I deme the, thou most algate be deed. 

Than thoughte thay it were the beste rede, 7620 

To lede liim forth into a fair mede. 

And, quod the juge, also thou most lese thin heed. 

For thou art cause why thy felaw deyth. 

And to the thridde felaw thus he seith, 

Thou hast nought doon that I comaundid tlio. 

And thus he let don sle hem alle thre. 

Irous Cambises was eek dronkelewe. 

And ay delited him to ben a schrewe ; 

7612 — Than thoughten, etc. I retain this anfl the following line, because 
they form part of the Harl. MS., although they seem to be an unneces- 
sary interruption of the sense. They are not in Tyrwhitt. 

laiT-^Cambises. See Seneca, de Ira, lib. iii. c. 11. 


And so liifcl, a lord of his meigne, 

Tliat loved vertues, and eek moralite, 

Sayd on a day bitwix hem tuo right thus : 

A lord is lost, if he be vicious ; ''•^^^ 

An irons man is lik a frentik best, 

In which ther is of wisdom noon arrest ; 

And dronkenes is eek a foul record 

Of any man, and namly of a lord. 

Ther is ful many an eyghe and many an eere 

Awaytand on a lord, and he not where. 

For Goddes love, drynk more attemperelly : 

Wyn makith man to lese wrecchedly 

His mj^nde, and eek his lymes everichoon, 

Tlie revers schaltow seen, quod he, anoon. 

And prove it by thin owne experience. 

That wyn ne doth to folk non such offence. ^r.-io 

Ther is no wyn byreveth me my might 

Of hond, of foot, ne of myn eyghe sight. 

And for despyt he dronke moclie more 

An hundrid part than he had doon byfore ; 

And right anoon, this irous cursid wrecche 

Let this knightes sone anoon biforn him fecchc, 

Comaundyng hem thay schuld bifoni him stonde : 

And sodeinly he took his bowe on honde, 

And up the streng he pulled to his eere. 

And with an arwe he slough the child right there, ^gso 

Now whethir have I a sikur hond or noon ? 

Quod he, Is al my mynde and might agoon '' 

7631 — Jin irous man. Those two lines are alsp peculiar to the Hnrl. MS. 
7(iil—mi(iht. Tlie H;irl. M.S. roads wit. 


Hath wyn byrevyd me mjrn eye sight ? 

What schuld I telle the answer of the knight ? 

His soue was slayn, ther is no more to say. 

Be war therfor with lordes how ye play, 

Syiigith Placebo, and I schal if I can. 

But if it be unto a pore man ; 

To a pore man men schuld his \aces telle, 

But not to a lord, they he schuld go to helle. ^ood 

Lo, irous Cirus, thilke Percien, 

How he destruyed the ryver of Gysen, 

For that an hors of his was drejmt therinno, 

Whan that he wente Babiloyne to wynne : 

He made that the ryver was so smal. 

That wommen mighte wade it over al. 

Lo, what sayde he, that so wel teche can ? 

Ne be no felaw to an irous man, 

Ne with no wood man walke by the way, 

Lest the repent. I wol no lenger say. 7670 

Now, Thomas, leve brother, leve thin ire, 

Thow schalt me fynde as just, as is a squire ; 

Thyn anger doth the al to sore smerte, 

Hald not the develes knyf ay at thyn herte. 

But schewe to me al thy confessioun." 

7657 — Placebo. " The allusion is to an Anthem in the Romish church, 
from Psalm cxvi. 9, which in the vulgate stands thus : Placebo Domine, 
in regione virorum. Hence tlie complacent brother in the Marchant's 
Tale is called Placebo." Tyrwhitt. 

7662 — Gysen. Seneca, de Ira, lib. iii. c. 31, from whom the story- 
is taken, calls the river Gyndes. Sir John Maundeville tells this story of 
the Euphrates. 

7674 — ay. The Harl. MS. reads alway, which seems to destroy the 


" Nay," quod this syke man, " by seynt Symoun, 
I have ben schriven this day of my curate ; 
I have him told holly al m}ai estate. 
Nedith no more to speken of it, saith he. 
But if me list of myn humilite." '^^^^ 

"Gif me than of thy good to make our cloyster," 
Quod he, "for many a muscle and many an oyster 
Hath ben oure foode, our cloyster to arreyse, 
Whan other men han ben ful wel at eyse : 
And yit, God wot, unnethe the foundement 
Parformed is, ne of oure pavyment 
Is nought a tyle yit withimie our wones : 
By God, we owe yit fourty pound for stones. 
Now help, Thomas, for him that harewed helle. 
Or elles moote we oure bookes selle ; 7G90 

And gif yow lakke oure predicacioun, 
Thanne goth the world al to destruccioun. 
For who so wold us fro the world byreve, 
So God me save, Thomas, by youre leve, 
He wolde byreve out of this world the sonne. 
For who can teche and werken as we comie ? 
And this is not of litel tyme," quod he, 
' But siththen Elye was her, or Elisee, 
Han freres ben, fynde I of record, 
In charitc, i-thanked be oure Lord. 7700 

Now, Thomas, help for seynte Charite." 

7687 — a tyle. The pavements wore mailcdlonraiistic tiles, aixl tliore- 
fore must have been ralhur costly. 

7698-or Edxec: Ihv. lliirl. MS. rviuU. ur Elv, an coi-- 
ruption hy the scrilio. 



Adoun he sette him auoon on his kne. 
This sike man wex wehieigh wood for ire, 

He wolde that the frere had ben on fuyre 

With Ids fals dissimulacioun. 
" Such thing as is in my possessiouu," 

Quod he, " that may I geve yew and noon other : 

Ye sayn me thus, how that I am your brother." 
" Ye certes," quod the frere, " trusteth wel ; 

I took our dame the letter, under cure sel." '''''O 

" Now wel," quod he, " and somwhat schal I give 

Unto your holy covent whils that I ly\'e ; 

And in thyn bond thou schalt it have anoon, 

On tliis condieioun, and other noon, 

That thou depart it so, my deere brother, 

That every frere have as moche as other : 

This schaltow swere on thy professioun, • 

Withouten fraude or cavillacioun." 
" I swere it," quod this frere, " upon my faith." 

And therwith his bond in his he laith ; '720 

" Lo here mjn bond, in me schal be no lak." 
" Now thanne, put thyn bond doun at my bak," 

Sayde this man, " and grope wel byhynde, 

Bynetbe my buttok, there schaltow fynde 

A thing, that I have hud in privete." 
" A !" thought this frere, "that schal go with me." 

And doun his bond he launcheth to the clifte. 

In hope for to fjTide ther a gifte. 

7710 — the letter. It was a common practice to grant under the con- 
ventual seal to benefactors and others a brotherly participation in the 
spiritual good works of tlie convent, and in their expected reward after 


And whan this syke man felte tliis frere 
Aboute his tuel grope ther and heere, '730 

Amyd his hond he leet the freere a fart ; 
Ther is no capul drawyng in a cart, 
That might have let a fart of such a soun. 
The frere upstart, as doth a wood lyoun : 
" A ! false cherl," quod he, " for Goddes bones ! 
This hastow in despit don for the noones : 
Thou schalt abye this fart, if that I may." 

His meyne, which that herd of this affray, 
Com lepand in, and chased out the frere. 
And forth he goth with a foul angry cheere, ^740 

And fat his felaw, there lay his stoor : 
He lokid as it were a wylde boor, 
And grynte with Ms teeth, so was he wroth. 
A stordy paas doun to the court he goth, 
Wlier as ther wonyd a man of gi'et honour. 
To whom that he was alway confessour : 
This worthy man was lord of that village. 
This frere com, as he were in a rage, 
Wher that this lord sat etyng at his bord : 

7740. " The remainder of this tale is omitted in MSS. B. G. and 
Bod. B. and instead of it they give us the following lame and impotent 
conclusion : — 

He ne had noght ellis for his sermon 

To part among liis 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." — Ti/rwhitt. 

7744 — the court. The larger country-houses consisted generally of an 
inclosed court, from wiiich circumstance this name was usually given to 
the manorial residence, and it has been preserved to modern times as a 
common term for gentlemen's seats. 

i) 2 


Unnethe might the frere speke a word, ''''^^ 

Til atte last he sayde, " God yow se !" 

This lord gan loke, and sayde, " Benedicite ! 

What, frere Johan ! what maner world is this ? 

I se wel that som thing is amys ; 

Ye loke as though the woode were ful of thevys. 

Sit doun anoon, and tel me what your gref is, 

And it schal ben amendit, if that I may." 
" I have," quod he, " had a despit to day, 

God yelde yow, adoun in youre vilage, 

That in this world is noon so pore a page, '^'^^^ 

That he nold have abhominacioun 

Of that I have receyved in youre toun : 

And yet ne grevith me no tiling so sore, 

As that this elde cherl, with lokkes hore. 

Blasphemed hath our holy covent eeke." 
" Now, maister," quod this lord, " I yow biseke." 
" No maister, sir," quod he, " but servitour, 

Though I have had in scole such honour. 

God likith not that Raby men us calle, 

Neither in market, neyther in your large halle." '''7''*^ 
" No fors," quod he, " tellith me al your greef." 

This frere sayd, " Sire, an odious meschief 

This day bytid is to mju ordre, and to me, 

And so par consequens to ech degre 

Of holy chirche, God amend it soone !" 
" Sir," quod the lord, " ye wot what is to doone ; 

Distempre yow nought, ye ben my coufessour. 

Ye ben the salt of therthe, and savyour ; 

For Goddes love, youre pacience ye holde ; 


Tel me your greef." And he anoon him tolde '780 

As ye han herd bifore, ye wot -wel what. 
The lady of that lious ay stille sat, 

Til sche had herd what the frere sayde. 
" Ey, Goddes moodir!" quod sche, " blisful mayde ! 

Is ther ought elles? tel me faithfully." 
" Madame," quod he, "how thynke yow therby ?" 
" Howthatmethynkith?"quodsche; "soGodmespeede! 

I say, a cherl hath doon a cherles deede. 

What schuld I say? God let him never the ! 

His syke heed is ful of vanyte. '790 

I hold him in a maner frenesye." 
" Madame," quod he, " i-wis I schal not lye. 

But I in othir wise may be wreke, 

I schal defame him over al wher I speke ; 

The false blasfememour, that chargid me 

To parten that wil not departed be, 

To every man y-liche, with meschaunce !" 
The lord sat stille, as he were in a traunce. 

And in his hert he rollid up and doun, 
" How had this cherl ymaginacioun 7800 

To schewe such a probleme to the frere ? 

Never eft er now herd I of such matiere ; 

I trowe the devel put it in his mynde. 

In arsmetrik schal ther no man iynde 

Biforn this day of such a questioim. 

Who schulde make a demonstracioun. 

That every man schuld have alyk his part 

As of a soun or savour of a fart ? 

7802— eft. Some of the MSS. read irsc. 

4 5 3 !) 


nyce proutle cherl, I schrew his face ! 

Lo, sires," quod the lord, with harde grace, 7810 

" Who ever herde of such a thing er now"? 
To every man y-like ? tel me how. 
It is impossible, it may not be. 
Ey, nyce cherl, God let him never the ! 
The romblyng of a fart, and every soun, 
Nis but of aier reverberacioun. 
And ever it wastith lyte and lyte away ; 
Ther nys no man can deme, by my fay. 
If that it were departed equally. 
What, lo, my cherl, what, lo, how schrewedly 7820 
Unto my confessour to day he spak ! 

1 hold him certeinly demoniak. 

Now etith your mete, and let the cherl go play, 
Let him go honge himself on devel way !" 
Now stood the lordes squier at the bord. 
That carf liis mete, and herde word by word 
Of al tliis thing, which that I of have sayd : 
" My lord," quod he, " be ye nought evel j)ayd, 
I couthe telle for a gowne-clotli 
To yow, sir frere, so that ye be not wroth, 7830 

How that this fart even departed schuld bo 
Among your covent, if I comaunded be." 

7829. — gowne-cloth. In the middle ages, the most common rewards, 
and even those given hy the feudal land-holders to their dependants and re- 
tainers, were articles of apparel, especially the gown or outer robe. We 
meet with constant allusions to this custom in the romances and poetry 
of former days, and they sometimes occur in historical writers. Monej' 
was comparatively very scarce in the middle ages ; and as the household 
retainers were lodged and fed, clotlung was almost the only article they 


' Tel," quod the lord, "and thou schalt have anooii 
A goune-cloth, by God and by saint Johan!" 

' My lord," quod he, " whan that the wedir is fair, 
Withoute wynd, or pertourbyng of ayr, 
Let bring a large whel into this halle. 
But loke that it have his spokes alle ; 
Twelf spokes hath a cart whel comunly ; 
And bring me twelve freres, wit ye why ? 78io 

For threttene is a covent as I gesse : 
Your noble confessour, her God him blesse, 
Schal parfouni up the nombre of this covent. 
Thanne schal thay knele doim by oon assent, 
And to every spokes ende in this manere 
Ful sadly lay his nose schal a frere ; 
Your noble confessour ther, God him save, 
Schal hold his nose upright under the nave. 
Than schal this churl, with bely stif and tought 
As eny tabor, hider ben y-brought ; 7850 

And sette him on the whele of this cart 
Upon the nave, and make him lete a fart. 
And ye schul seen, up peril of my lif, 
By verray proof that is demonstratif, 
That equally the soun of it wol wende, 
And eek the stynk, unto the spokes endo ; 

7811 — threllenc. The regular number of monks or friars in a convent 
had been fixed at twelve, witli tliuir suporior ; in imitation, it is said, of 
the number of twelve apostles and their divine master. Tlie larger 
religious houses were considered as consisting of a certain niuuber of 
convents. Tlius Tliorn, speaking of the abbot of St. Augustine's at 
Canterbury, says, Anno Domini m.c.xlvi. iste Hugo reparavit antiquum 
numeruni monachorum istius mouasterii, et erant Ix. monaclii professi 
praiter abbatem, hoc est, quinquc coiwrntus in univcrso. — Decern Scrip- 
tores, col. 1807. 


Save that this worthy man, your confessour, 

(Bycause he is a man of gret honour) 

Schal have the firste fniyt, as resoun is. 

The noble usage of freres is tliis, ^^60 

The worthy men of hem first schal be served. 

And certeynly he hath it wel deserved ; 

He hath to day taught us so mochil good, 

With preching in the pulpit ther he stood, 

That I may vouchesauf, I say for me, 

He hadde the firste smel of fartes thre, 

And so wold al his covent hardily, 

He berith him so fair and holily." 

The lord, the lady, and ech man, sauf the frere, 
Sayde that Jankyn spak in this niatiere 7870 

As wel as Euclide, or elles Phtolome. 
Touchand the cherl, thay sayd that subtilte 
And high wyt made him speken as he spak ; 
He nas no fool, ne no demoniak : 
And Jankyn hath i-wonne a new goime ; 
My tale is don, we ben almost at toune. 


" Sir Clerk of Oxenford," our hoste sayde, 
*' Ye ryde as stille and coy as doth a mayde. 
Were newe spoused, sittyng at the bord : 
This day ne herd I of your mouth a word. 7880 

I trowe ye study aboute som sophime : 
But Salomon saith, every thing hath tyme. 
For Goddis sake ! as beth of better cheere, 
It is no tyme for to stody hiere. 
Tel us som mery tale, by your fay ; 


For what man is entred unto play, 
He moot nodes unto that play assent. 
But precliith not, as freres doon in Lent, 
To make us for our olde synnes wepe, 
Ne that thy tale make us for to slepe. '^'^'•^^ 

Tel us som mery thing of aventures. 
Youre termes, your colours, and your figures, 
Keep hem in stoor, til so he that ye endite 
High style, as whan that men to kynges write. 
Spekith so playn at this tyme, I yow pray, 
That we may understonde what ye say." 
This worthy Clerk benignely answerde ; 
" Sir host," quod he, " I am mider your yerde, 
Ye have of us as now the govemaunce, 
And therfor wol I do yow obeissaunce, ''J^^*^ 

Als fer as resoim askith hardily : 
I wil yow telle a tale, which that I 
Lemed at Padowe of a worthy clerk. 
As proved by his wordes and his werk. 
He is now deed, and nayled in his chest, 
Now God give his soule wel good rest! 
Fraunces Petrark, the laureat poete, 
Highte this clerk, whos rethorique swete 
Enlum^iid al Ytail of poetrie, 

As Linian did of philosophic, ''JiiJ 

Or lawue, or other art particulere ; 
But deth, that wol not suffre us duellen heere, 
But as it were a twyncling of an ye, 
Hem bothe hath slayn, and alle we schul dye. 

7912 — But delh. Petrarch died iu 1374. Linian, who was celebrated 
as a lawyer iind as a philo.SDphcr, died about 1378. 


But forth to telle of this worthy man, 

That taughte me this tale, as I bigan, 

I say that he first with heigh stile enditith 

(Er he the body of his tale wiitith) 

A proheme, in the which descrivith he 

Piemounde, and of Saluces the centre, ^920 

And spekith of Appenyne the hulles liye, 

That ben the boundes of al west Lombardye : 

And of mount Vesulus in special, 

Wher as the Poo out of a welle smal 

Takith his firste springyng and his sours, 

That est-ward ay encresceth in his cours 

To Emyl-ward, to Ferare, and to Venise, 

To which a long thing were to devyse. 

And trewely, as to my juggement, 

Me thinketh it a thing impertinent, 7930 

Save that he wold conveyen his matiere : 

But this is the tale which that ye schuln heere." 


Ther is at the west ende of Ytaile, 
Doun at the root of Vesulus the colde, 
A lusty playn, abundaunt of vitaile. 

7927 — Emyl-ivard. " One of the regions of Itally was called Emilia, 
from the Via Emilia, which crossed it from Placentia to Rimini. Pla- 
centia stood upon the Po. Pitisc. Lex. Ant. Rom. in v. Via Emilia, 
Petrarch's description of this part of the Po is a little different. He 
speaks of it as dividing the ^Emilian and Flaminian regions from Venice 
— JEmiliam atque Flaminiam Veneiiamque discrimiiians. But our 
Author's Emelie is plainly taken from him." — Tyrwhitt. 

The Clcrkes Tale. The popular story of Griseldis, which has appeared 
in so great a variety of forms from the days of Petrarch almost to the 
present time, is so well known, that it is hardly necessary to say more 
than that Chaucer ti'auslates it closely from Petrarch's Latin romance 
De obedientia etfidc uxoria Mylhologia. 


Wlier mauy a tour and toun thou maist byliolde, 
That foundid were iu tyme of fadres olde, 
And many anothir delitable sight, 
And Saluces tliis noble contray hight. 

A marquys whilom duellid in that lond, ''^^^ 

As were his worthy eldris him bifore, 
And obeisaunt ay redy to his bond, 
Were alle his liegis, bothe lesse and more: 
Thus in delyt he lyveth and hath don yore, 
Biloved and drad, thurgh favour of fortune, 
Bothe of his lordes and of his comune. 

Therwith he was, as to speke of lynage. 
The gentileste bom of Lumbardye, 
A fair persone, and strong, and yong of age, 
And ful of honour and of curtesie : 7950 

Discret y-nough his contre for to gye, 
Savynge in som thing he was to blame. 
And Wautier was this yonge lordes name. 

I blame him thus, that he considered nought 
In tyme comyng what mighte bityde, 
But on his lust present was al his thought. 
As for to hauke and hunte on every syde : 
Wei neigh al othir cures let he slyde, 
And eek he nolde (that was the worst of al) 
Wedde no wyf for no thing tliat might bifal. ''OOQ 

Only that poynt his pocplo bar so sore, 
That flokmel on a day to him thay went. 
And oon of hem, that wisest was of lore, 
(Or elles that the lord wolde best assent 
That ho schuld tcllo hiui wluit his pocplo niont. 


Or ellis couthe he schewe wel such matiere) 
He to the marquys sayd as ye schuln hiere. 

" O noble marquys, youre humanite 
Assureth us and giveth us hardynesse, 
As ofte as tyme is of necessite, ''^''^ 

That we to yow may telle oure hevynesse : 
Acceptith, lord, now of your gentilesse, 
That we with pitous hert unto yow playne, 
And let youre eeris my vois not disdeyne. 

" And have I nought to doon in this matere 
More than another man hath in tliis place, 
Yit for as moche as ye, my lord so deere, 
Han alway schewed me favour and grace, 
I dar the better ask of yow a space 
Of audience, to schewen oure request, ^^8*^ 

And ye, my lord, to doon right as yow lest. 

" For certes, lord, so wel us likitli yow 
And al your werk, and ever ban doon, that we 
Ne couthen not ourselve de\ysen how 
We mighte lyve more in felicite : 
Save oon thing, lord, if that your wille be, 
That for to be a weddid man yow list. 
Than were your pepel in sovereign hertes rest. 

" Bowith your neck undir that blisful yok 
Of sovereiguete, nought of servise, 7990 

Which that men clepe spousail or wedlok : 
And thenketh, lord, among your thoughtes wise, 

7972 — gentilesse. Tlie Harl. MS. reads necemte. a mere repetition of 
the conclusion ot'l. 7970. 

7980. The reachiig of the Harl. MS. is And audience to cLsken oure 


How that our dayes passe in sondiy wyse ; 
For though we slepe, or wake, or rome, or ryde, 
Ay fleth the tyme, it wil no man abyde. 

" And though your grene youthe floiu'e as yit, 
In crepith age alway as stille as stoon, 
And deth manasith every age, and smyt 
In ech estat, for ther ascapith noon : 
And as certeyn, as we knowe everychon ^ooo 

That we schuln deye, as uncerteyn we alle 
Ben of that day that deth schal on us falle. 

" Accept! th thanne of us the trewe entent. 
That never yit refusid youre hest. 
And we wil, lord, if that ye wil assent, 
Chese yow a wyf, in schort tyme atte lest, 
Bom of the gentilest and the heighest 
Of al this lond, so that it oughte seme 
Honour to God and yow, as we can dome. 

" Deliver us out of al this busy drede, 8010 

And tak a wyf, for hihe Goddes sake : 
For if it so bifel, as God forbede. 
That thurgh your deth your lignage schuld aslake, 
And that a straunge successour schuld take 
Your heritage, o ! wo were us on \y\(i : 
Wherfor we pray yow hastily to Avyve." 

Her meeke prayer and her pitous cliere 
Made the marquys for to han pite. 
' Ye wolde," quod he, " myn owne poeple deero, 
To that I never erst thought, constreigne me. (^020 
I me rejoysid of my liberte. 
That selden tyme is founde in manage: 


Ther I was fre, I mot ben in sen'age. 

" But natheles I se youre trewe entent, 
And trust upon your witt, and have doon ay : 
Wlierfor of my fre wil I wil assent 
To wedde me, as soon as ever I may. 
But ther as ye have profred me to day 
To chese me a \vyf, I wol relese 
That choys, and pray yow of that profre cesse. • ^^^'^ 

" For God it woot, that chikler ofte been 
Unlik her worthy eldris hem bifore ; 
Bounte cometh al of God, nought of the streen 
Of which thay ben engendrid and i-bore. 
I trust in Goddes bounte, and therfore 
My manage, and myn estat and rest, 
I him bytake, he may doon as him lest. 

" Let me alloon in chesyng of my wif, 
That charge upon my bak I wil endure : 
But I yow pray, and charge upon your lyf, 8040 

That what wyf that I take, ye me assure 
To worschip whil that hir lif may endure. 
In word and werk, bothe heer and every where. 
As sche an emperoures doughter were. 

" And forthermor thus schul ye swer, that ye 
Ageins my chois schuln never ginicche ne strj've. 
For sins I schal forgo my liberte 
At your request, as ever mot I thrive, 
Ther as myn hei*t is set, ther wil I wyve : 
And but ye wil assent in such manere, 8050 

8024 — sc youre Irewc. Tlie MS. Harl. reads sc of yow the trewe. 


I pray yow spek no more of this matiere." 

With hertly wil thay sworen and assentyn 
To al this thing, ther sayde no wight nay, 
Bysechyng him of grace, er that thay wentyn, 
That he wold graunten hem a certeyn day 
Of his spousail, as soone as ever he may ; 
For yit alway the peple som what dredde, 
Lest that the marquys wolde no wyf wedde. 

He graunted hem a day, such as him lest, 
On which he wolde be weddid sicurly ; 8060 

And sayd he dede al this at her requeste. 
And thay with humble hert ful buxomly 
Knelyng upon her knees ful reverently 
Him thanken alle, and thus thay have an ende 
Of her entent, and hom ageiu they wende. 

And herupon he to his officeris 
Comaundith for the feste to purveye. 
And to his prive knightes and squyeres 
Such charge gaf as him list on hem leye : 
And thay to his comaundement obeye, 8070 

And ech of hem doth his diligence 
To doon mito the feste reverence. 
Pars secunda. 

Nought fer fro thilke palys honurable, 
Wher as this marquys schop his mariage, 
Ther stood a throp, of sighte delitable, 
In which that pore folk of that vilage 
Hadden her bestes and her herburgage, 
And after her labour took her sustienaunce. 
After the erthc gaf hem abundaunce. 


Among this pore folk ther duelt a man, 8080 

Which that was holdeii porest of hem alle : 
But heighe God som tyme sende can 
His grace unto a litel oxe stalls : 
Janicula men of that throop him calle. 
A doughter had he, fair y-nough to sight, 
And Grisildes this yonge mayden hight. 

But for to speke of hir vertuous beaute, 
Thau was sche oon the fayrest imder sonue : 
For porely i-fostred up was sche, 
No licorous lust was iu hir body ronne ; ^^^ 

Wei ofter of the welle than of the tonne 
Sche dronk, and for sche wolde vertu please, 
Sche loiew wel labour, but noon ydel ease. 

But though this mayden tender were of age. 
Yet iu the brest of hir virginite 
Ther was enclosed rype and sad corrage : 
And in gret reverence and charite 
Hir olde pore fader fostred sche : 
A fewe scheep spynnyug on the feld sche kept, 
Sche nold not ben ydel til sche slept. ^^^^ 

And whan sche com hom sche wolde brynge 
Wortis and other herbis tymes ofte, 
The which sche schred and setli for hir lyvyng, 
And made hir bed ful hard, and no thing softe : 
And ay sche kept hir fadres lif on lofte, 
With every obeissance and diligence. 
That child may do to fadres reverence. 

8086 — mayden. The Harl. MS. reads doughlcr, which probahly is 
only an accidental repetition of the word in the preceding line. 


Upon Grisildes, the pore creature, 
Ful ofte sithes this marquys set his ye, 
As he on huutyng rood peraventure. ^i^o 

And whan it fel he mighte hir espye. 
He not with wantoun lokyng of folye 
His eyghen cast upon hir, but in sad wyse 
Upon liir cheer he wold him oft avise, 

Comendyng in his hert hir wommanhede, 
And eek hir vertu, passyng any other wight 
Of so yong age, as wel in cheer as dede. 
For though the poeple have no gret insight 
In vertu, he considereth aright 
Hir bouute, and desposed that he wolde ®120 

Wedde hir oonly, if ever he wedde schokle. 

The day of weddyng cam, but no wight can 
Telle what womman it schulde be ; 
For which mervayle wondrith many a man, 
And sayden, whan thay were in privete, 
' Wol nought our lord yit leve his vanite ? 
Wol he not wedde ? alias, alias the while ! 
Why wol he thus himself and us bigyle ?" 

But natheles this marquys hath doon make 
Of gemmes, set in gold and in asure, 8i3o 

Broches and rynges, for Grisildes sake. 
And of hir clothing took he the mesure, 
By a mayde y-lik to hir of stature. 
And eek of other ornamentes alle 
That unto such a weddyng schulde falle. 

The tyme of undern of the same day 
Approchith, that this weddyng schulde be, 


And al the palys put was in array, 

Bothe halle aiid chambur, y-lik here degre, 

Houses of office stuffid with plente ^^"^^ 

Ther maystow se of deyntevous vitayle, 

That may be founde, as fer as lastith Itaile. 

This real marquys, richely arrayd, 
Lordes and ladyes in his compaignye, 
The which unto the feste were prayed, 
And of his retenu the bachelerie. 
With many a soun of sondry melodye, 
Unto the vilage, of which I tolde, 
In this array the right way han thay holde. 

GrysikI of tliis (Grod wot) ful innocent, ^150 

That for hir schapen was al this array. 
To fecche water at a welle is went. 
And Cometh horn as soone as sche may. 
For wel sche had herd say, that ilke day 
The marquys schulde wedde, and, if sche might, 
Sche wold have seyen somwhat of that sight. 

Sche sayd, " I wol with other maydenes stonde, 
That ben my felawes, in oure dore, and see 
The marquysesse, and therfore wol I fondo 
To don at hom, as soone as it may be, ^ico 

The labour which that longeth unto me. 
And thanne may I at leysir hir byholde. 
And sche the way into the castel holde." 

And as sche wold over the threisshfold goon. 

8139 — !/ lik here degre. Other MSS. have cche in hit der/re, which 
is perliaps the better reading;. 

SI 13 — richehj. Tlie roadiiic; nf the Harl. MS. \srealh/. 


The marquys cam and gan hir for to calle. 

And sche set doun hii* water-pot anoon 

Bisides the threischfold of this oxe stalle, 

And doun upon hir knees sche gan falle, 

And with sad countenaunce knelith stille, 

Til sche had herd what was the lordes wille. 8170 

This thoughtful marquys spak unto this mayde 
Ful soberly, and sayd in tliis manere : 
Wher is your fader, Grisildes?" he sayde. 
And sche with reverence in humble cheere 
Answerd, " Lord, he is al redy heere." 
And in sche goth withouten lenger let. 
And to the marquys sche liir fader fet. 

He by the hond than taldth this olde man, 
And sayde thus, whan he him had on syde : 
' Janicula, I neither may ne can 81 80 

Lenger the plesauns of myn herte hyde ; 
If that ye vouchesauf, what so bytyde. 
Thy doughter wil ] take er that I wende 
As for my wyf, unto hir lyves ende. 

" Thow lovest me, I wot it wel certcyn. 
And art my faithful leige-man i-bore, 
And al that lildth me, I dar wel sayn, 
It lildth the, and specially therfore 
Tel me that poynt, as ye have herd bifore. 
If that thou wolt unto that purpos drawe, f^^'o 

To take me as for thy sone in lawe. " 

The sodeyn caas the man astoneyd tho. 
That reed he wax, abaischt, and al quakyng 
He stood, unnethe sayd he wordes mo, 

E U 


But oonly this : " Lord," quod he, " my willyng 
Is as ye wol, agenst youre likyng 
I wol no thing, ye be my lord so deere ; 
Right as yow Hst, governith this matiere." 

" Yit wol I," quod this markys softely, 
"That in thy chambre, I, and thou, and sche, 8200 
Have a collacioun, and wostow why ? 
For I wol aske if it hir wille be 
To be my wyf, and reule hir after me : 
And al tliis schal be doon in thy presence, 
I wol nought speke out of thyn audience." 

And in the chamber, whil thay were aboute 
The tretys, which as ye schul after hiere, 
The poeple cam imto the hous withoute, 
And wondrid hem, in how honest manere 
And tendurly sche kept hir fader deere : 8210 

But outerly Grisildes wonder might, 
For never erst ne saugh sche such a sight. 

No wonder is though that sche were astoned, 
To seen so gret a gest come into that place ; 
Sche never was to suche gestes woned, 
For which sche loked with ful pale face. 
But schortly this matiere forth to chace. 
These arn the wordes that the marquys sayde 
To this benigne, verray, faithful mayde. 

" Grisyld,"he sayde, "ye schul wel understonde, ^220 
It liketh to your fader and to me. 
That I yow wedde, and eek it may so stonde, 
As I suppose ye wil that it so be : 
But these demaundes aske I first," quod he, 


"That sith it schal be doon in hasty wyse, 
Wol ye assent, or elles yow avyse ? 

" I say this, be ye redy with good hart 
To al my lust, and that I frely may 
As me best liste do yow laughe or smart, 
And never ye to gruch it, night ne day ; 8230 

And eek whan I say ye, ye say not nay, 
Neyther by word, ne frownyng contenaunce ? 
Swar this, and here swer I oure alliaunce." 

Wondryng upon this word, quakyng for drede, 
Scha sayde : " Lord, undigne and unworthy 
I am, to thilk honour that ye me bede ; 
But as ye wil your self, right so wol I : 
And hara I swere, that never wityngly 
In werk, ne thought, I nyl yow disobeye 
For to the deed, though me were loth to deye." 8240 

" This is y-nough, Grisilde myn," quod he. 
And forth goth he with a ful sobre chore, 
Out at the dora, and after that cam sche. 
And to the pepul he sayd in this manere : 
"Tliis is my wyf," quod he, "that stondith heere. 
Honourath hir, and loveth hir, I yow pray, 
Who so me loveth : ther is no more to say." 

And for that no thing of hir olda gere 
Sche schulde brynge unto his hous, he bad 
That wommen schuld despoilen hir right there, 8250 
Of which these ladyas were nought ful glad 
To handle hir clothes wherin sche was clad : 
But nathelcs this mayda bright of lunv 
Fro foot to heed thay schredde ban ul n(!we. 


Hir heeres ban thay kempt, that lay untressetl 
Ful rudely, and with hir fyugres smale 
A corouu on hir heed thay han i-dressed, 
And set hir ful of nowches gret and smale. 
Of hir array what schuld I make a tale ? 
Unnethe the poeple hir knew for hir faimesse, 8260 
Whan sche translated was in such richesse. 

This marquis hath hir spoused with a ryng 
Brought for the same cause, and than hir sette 
Upon an hors snow-whyt, and wel amblyng, 
And to his palys, er he lenger lette, 
(With joyful poeple, that hir ladde and mette) 
Conveyed hire, and thus the day thay spende 
In revel, til the sonne gan descende. 

And schortly forth this tale for to chace, 
I say, that to this newe marquisesse 8270 

God hath such favour sent hir of his grace, 
That it ne semyd not by liklynesse 
That sche was born and fed in rudenesse, 
As in a cote, or in an oxe stalle. 
But norischt in an emperoures halle. 

To every wight sche waxen is so deere, 
And worschipful, that folk ther sche was born. 
And from hir burthe laiew hir yer by yere, 
Unneth trowed thay, but dorst han swoi'n, 
That to Janicle, of which I spak biforn, 8280 

Sche doughter were, for as by conjecture 
Hem thought sche was another creature. 

For though that ever vertuous was sche, 
Sche was encresed in such (>xcellence 


Of thewes goode, i-set in liigli bouute, 
And so discret, and fair of eloquence, 
So benigne, and so digne of reverence, 
And coutlie so the poeples hert embrace. 
That ech hir loveth that lokith in hir face. 

Nought oonly of Saluce in the toun 8290 

PubUssched was the bounte of hir name, 
But eek byside in many a regioun, 
If oon sayd wel, another sayd the same : 
So sprad of hire heigh bounte the fame, 
That men and wommen, as wel yong as olde, 
Gon to Saluce upon hir to byholde. 

Thus Walter louly, nay but really, 
Weddid \^ith fortunat honestete, 
In Goddes pees lyveth ful esily 
At home, and outward grace y-nough hath he ; 8300 
And for he saugh that under low degre 
Was ofte vertu y-hid, the poeple him lielde 
A prudent man, and that is seen ful selde. 

Nought oonly this Grisildes thurgh hir witte 
Couthe al the feet of witiy homlynesse, 
f3ut eek whan that the tyme required it, 
The comun profyt couthe sche redresse : 
Ther nas discord, rancour, ne hevynesse 
In al that lond, that sche ne couthe appese. 
And wisly bryng hem alle in rest and ese. S3io 

8305 — homlynesse. The Harl. MS. reads humhUsse ; but the context 
shows that the reading adopted in tlie text is the riglit one. She not 
only knew how to attend to the domestic afl'airs of lier lord's household, 
(wifly homlynesse) but when time or occasion required it she could 
redress the common profit of his subjects. 


Though that hir housboud absent were anoon, 
If gentilmen, or other of hir contre, 
Were wroth, sche wolde brynge hem at oon, 
So wyse and rype wordes hadde sche, 
And juggement of so gret equite. 
That sche from heven sent was, as men wende, 
Poeple to save, and every wrong to amende. 

Nought longe tyme after that this Grisilde 
Was wedded, sche a doughter hath i-bore ; 
Al had hir lever han had a knave chihle, 832a 

Glad was this marquis and the folk therfore, 
For though a mayden child come al byfore, 
Sche may unto a knave child atteigne 
By liklihed, sith sche nys not bareigne. 
Incipit tertia pars. 

Ther fel, as fallith many times mo, 
Whan that this child hath souked but a throwe, 
This marquys in his herte longith so 
Tempte his wyf, hir sadnesse for to knowe, 
That he ne might out of his herte throwe 
This mervaylous desir his wji tassaye ; *^330 

Nedeles, God wot, he thought hir to affraye. 

He had assayed hir y-nough bifore, 
And fond hir ever good, what needith it 
Hire to tempte, and alway more and more '? 
Though som men prayse it for a subtil wit. 
But as for me, I say that evel it sit 
Tassay a wyf whan that it is no neede, 

8331 — Ncdekn. The Hail. MS. reads, Now, God wol, but the reading 
of the Lansdownc MS., here adopted, seems preferable. 


And putte hir in anguysch and in dreede. 

For which this marquis wrought in this manere ; 
He com aloone a-night ther as sche lay 8340 

With steme face, and with ful trouhle cheere, 
And sayde thus, " Grisild," quod he, " that day 
That I yow took out of your pore array, 
And putte yow in estat of heigh noblesse. 
Ye have not that forgeten, as I gesse. 

" I say, Grisild, this present dignite. 
In which that I have put yow, as I trowe, 
Makith yow not forgetful for to be 
That I yow took in pore estat ful lowe. 
For eny wele ye moot your selve knowe. 8350 

Tak heed of eveiy word that I yow say, 
Ther is no wight that herith it but we tway. 

" Ye wot your self how that ye comen heere 
Into this hous, it is nought long ago, 
And though to me that ye be leef and deere, 
Unto my gentils ye be no thing so : 
Thay seyn, to hem it is gret schame and wo 
For to ben subject and ben in servage 
To the, that born art of a smal village. 

" And namely syn thy doughter was i-bore, 8360 
Tliese wordes han thay spoken douteles. 
But I desire, as I have doon byfore, 
To lyve my lif with hem in rest and pees : 
I may not in this caas be reccheles ; 
I moot do with thy doughter for the best, 
Not as I woldc, but as my pepul lest. 

" And yit, ( jnd wot, this is ful loth to me : 


But natheles withoute youre witynge 
Wol I not doon ; but this wol I," quod he, 
"That ye to me assent as in this thing. 8370 

Schew now your paciens in your wirching, 
That thou me hightest and swor in yon village, 
That day that maked was oure manage," 

Whan sche had herd al this, sche nought ameevyd 
Neyther in word, in cheer, or countenaunce, 
(For, as it semed, sche was nought agreeved) ; 
Sche sayde, " Lord, al lith in your plesaunce ; 
My child and I, with hertly obeisaunce, 
Ben youres al, and ye may save or spille 
Your oughne thing : werkith after your wille. 8380 

" Ther may no tiling, so God my soule save, 
Liken to yow, that may displesen me : 
Ne I desire no thing for to have, 
Ne drede for to lese, save oonly ye : 
This wil is in myn hert, and ay schal be. 
No length of tyme or deth may tliis deface, 
Ne chaunge my corrage to other place." 

Glad was this marquis for lii-r answerj'ng, 
But yit he feyned as he were not so. 
Al dreery was liis cheer and his lokyng, 8390 

Whan that he schold out of the chambre go. 
Soon after this, a forlong way or tuo, 
He prively hath told al his entent 
Unto a man, and imto his wyf him sent. 

A maner sergeant was this prive man, 
The which that faithful oft he founden hadde 
In thinges gretc, and eek such folk wel can 


Don execucioun in thinges badde : 
The lord knew wel that he him loved and dradde. 
And whan this sergeant wist liis lordes wille, 8400 
Into the chamber he stalked liim ful stille. 

"Madame," he sayd, " ye most forgive it me, 
Though I do thing to which I am constreynit : 
Ye ben so wys, that ful wel knowe ye. 
That lordes hestes mow not ben i-feynit. 
They mowe wel be biwaylit or compleynit ; 
But men moot neede unto her lust obeye, 
And so wol I, ther is no more to seye. 

" This child I am comaimdid for to take." 
And spak no more, but out the child he hent 8410 
Dispitously, and gan a chiere make, 
As though he wold han slayn it, er he went. 
Grisild moot al suffer and al consent ; 
And as a lamb, sche sitteth meeke and stille. 
And let tliis cruel sergeant doon his wille. 

Suspecious was the defame of this man, 
Suspect his face, suspect his word also, 
Suspect the tyme in which he this bigan : 
Alias I hir doughter, that sche loved so, 
Sche wend he wold han slayen it riglit tho, 8420 

But natheles sche neyther weep ne siked, 
Conformyng liir to that the marquis liked. 

But atte last speke sche bigan, 
And mekely sche to the sergeant preyde. 

1416 — Suspecious. The words of Petrarch are; " Suspecta viri fania, 
suspecta facios, suspecta hora, siispucta crut oratio, qiiibus et si clare 
occiiium iri dulce filiam iutcUigerct." 


So as he was a worthy gentilman, 
That sche most kisse hir child, er that it deycle : 
And on hir arm this litel child sche leyde, 
With ful sad face, and gan the child to blesse, 
And lullyd it, and after gan it kesse. 

And thus sche sayd in hir benigne vois : 8430 

"Fanvel, my child, I schal the never see. 
But sith I the have marked withe the croys. 
Of thilke fader blessed mot thou be, 
That for us deyde upon a cros of tre : 
Thy soule, litel child, I him bytake, 
For this night schaltow deyen for my sake." 

I trowe that to a nonce in this caas 
It had ben hard this rewthe for to see : 
Wei might a moder than have cryed alias, 
But natheles so sad stedefast was sche, 8440 

That sche endured al adversite, 
And to the sergeant mekely sche sayde, 
" Have her agayn your litel yonge mayde. 

" Goth now," quod sche, " and doth my lordes heste : 
But thi]ig wil I pray yow of your grace. 
That but my lord forbede yow atte leste, 
Burieth this litel body in som place. 
That bestes ne no briddes it to-race." 
But he no word wil to the purpos say, 
But took the child and went upon his way. 8450 

This sergeant com unto this lord agayn. 
And of Grisildes wordes and hir cheere 
He tolde pojait for poynt, in schort and playn, 

8427 — arm. Other MSS. read barme, the bosom. 


And him presentith with his doughter deere. 
Somwhat this lord hath rewthe in his manere, 
But natheles his purpos huld he stille, 
As lordes doon, whan thay woln have her wille ; 

And bad the sergeaunt that he piively 
Scholde this childe softe wynde and wrappe, 
With alle circumstaunces tendurly, 8460 

And cary it in a cofre, or in his lappe ; 
Upon peyne his heed of for to swappe 
That no man schulde knowe of this entent, 
Ne whens he com, ne wliider that he went ; 

But at Boloygne, to his suster deere, 
That thilke tyme of Panik was countesse, 
He schuld it take, and schewe hir this matiere, 
Byseching hir to doon hir busynesse 
Tliis child to fostre in alle gentilesse. 
And whos child that it was he bad hir hyde ^470 

From eveiy wight, for ought that mighte bytyde. 

The sergeant goth, and hath fulfild this thing. 
But to this marquys now retounie we ; 
For now goth he ful fast ymaginyng, 
If by his ^vyves cher he mighte se, 
Or by hir word apparceyve, that sche 
Were chaunged, but he hir never couthe fynde, 
But ever in con y-like sad and kynde. 

8466 — o/ Panik. " Quieto omni quanta possit diligentia Bononiam 
deferret, ad sororem suara, qua; illic comiti de Panico nupta erat, eainque 
sibi traderet alondam matemo studio charis moribus instruendam," etc. 
Tyrwhitt, rather hastily, changed the name to Favie in his text, and, 
although he rorrected himself in the notes which were printed after the 
text, (lie error has been retained in subsequent editions. 


As glad, as humble, as busy in servise 8^80 

And eek in love, as sche was wont to be. 
Was sche to him, in every manor wj^se ; 
Ne of hir doughter nought o word spak sche : 
Non accident for noon adversite 
Was seyn in hir, ne never hir doughter name 
Ne nempnyd sche, in eniest ne in game. 
Incipit quarta pars. 

In this estaat ther passed ben foure yer 
Er sche with childe was, but, as God wolde, 
A knave child sche bar by this Waltier, 
Ful gracious, and fair for to biholde : 
And whan that folk it to his fader tolde, si90 

Nought oonly he, but al his centre, merye 
Was for this child, and God thay thank and herie. 

Whan it was tuo yer old, and fro the brest 
Departed fro his noris, upon a day 
This markys caughte yit another lest 
To tempt his ^rd yit after, if he may. 
O ! needles was sche tempted in assay. 
But weddid men ne knowen no mesure. 
Whan that thay fjn^ide a pacient creature. 

" Wyf," quod this marquys, " ye han herd er this 8500 
My peple sekly berith oure mariage, 
And namly syn my sone y-boren is, 
Now is it wors than ever in al our age : 
The murmur sleth myn hert and my corrage. 
For to myn eeris cometh the vois so smerte. 
That it wel neigh destroyed hath myn heite. 

" Now say thay thus, Whan Wauter is agoon, 


Thau schal the blood of Janicle succede, 

And ben our lord, for other have we noon : 

Suche wordes saith my poeple, out of drede. ^^lo 

Wei ought I of such murmur taken heede, 

For certeynly I drede such sentence, 

Though thay not pleynly speke in my audience. 

" I wolde lyve in pees, if that I might : 
Wherfor I am disposid outrely. 
As I his suster serv^ede by night, 
Right so thynk I to serve him prively. 
This warn I you, that ye not sodeinly 
Out of your self for no thing schuld outraye, 
Beth pacient, and therof I yow pray." ^^20 

" I have," quod sche, " sayd thus and ever schal, 
I wol no thing, ne nil no thing certayn, 
But as yow list : nought greveth me at al, 
Though that my doughter and my sone be slayn 
At your comaundement : this is to sayne, 
I have not had no part of children twayne, 
But fii'st syknes, and after wo and payne. 

" Ye ben oure lord, doth witli your owne thing 
Right as yow list, axith no red of me : 
For as I left at hom al my clothing 8r>30 

Whan I first com to yow, right so," quod sche, 
" Left I my wille and my liberte, 
And took your clothing : wherfor I yow preye. 
Doth youre plesaunce, I wil yourc lust obeye. 

" And certes, if I hadde prcsci(nicc 
Your wil to knowe, er ye yourc lust me tolde, 
I wold it (loon withouto negligence : 


But now I wot your lust, and what ye wolde, 

Al your plesaunce ferm and stable I holde, 

For wist I that my deth wold doon yow ease, ^540 

Eight gladly wold I deye, yow to please. 

" Deth may make no comparisoun 
Unto your love." And whan this marquys say 
The Constance of his wyf, he cast adoun 
His eyghen tuo, and wondrith that sche may 
In pacience suffre as this array : 
And forth he goth with drery countenaunce, 
But to liis hert it was ful gret plesaunce. 

This ugly sergeaunt in the same wise 
That he hir doughter fette, right so he, 8550 

Or worse, if men worse can devyse, 
Hath hent hir sone, that ful was of beaute : 
And ever in oon so pacient was sche, 
That sche no cheere made of hevynesse, 
But kist hir sone, and after gan him blesse. 

Save this sche prayed him, if that he mighte, 
Hir litel sone he wold in eorthe grave, 
His tendre lymes, delicate to sight, 
From foules and from bestes him to save. 
But sche noon answer of him mighte have, 8660 

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

This marquis wondreth ever the lenger the more 
Upon hir pacience, and if tliat he 
Ne hadde sothly knoweu therbifore. 
That parfytly hir children loved sche. 
He wold have wend that of som subtilte 


And of malice, or of cruel corrage, 

That sclie had suflfred this mth sad visage. 

But wel he knew, that, next himself, certayn ^'''^o 
Sche loved hir children best in every wise. 
But now of wommen wold I aske fayn. 
If these assayes mighten not suffice ? 
Wliat couthe a stourdy housebonde more devyse 
To prove hir wTfhode, and hir stedefastnesse, 
And he contjmuyng ever in stourdynesse ? 

But ther ben folk of such condicioun, 
That, whan thay have a certeyn purpos take, 
Thay can nought stynt of her entencioun, 
But, right as thay were bounden to a stake, ^-'^o 

Thay wil not of her firste purpos slake : 
Right so this marquys fullich hath pui-posed 
To tempt his wyf, as he was first disposed. 

He wayteth, if by word or countenaunce 
That sche to him was chaunged of corage : 
But never couthe he fynde variaunce, 
Sche was ay oon in hert and in visage ; 
And ay the ferther that sche was in age. 
The more trewe, if that were possible, 
Sche was to him, and more penyble. ^-'^o 

For which it semyd this, that of hem tuo 
Ther nas but oo wil ; for as Walter lest. 
The same plesaunce was hir lust also ; 
And, God be thanked, al fel for the best. 
Sche schewed wel, for no worldly unrest 
A wyf, as of hir self, no thing ne scholde 
Wylnc in effect, but as hir housbond wolde. 


The sclaunder of Walter ofte and vvyde spradde, 
That of a cruel hart he wikkedly, 
For he a pore womman weddid hadde, 8600 

Hath morthrid bothe liis children prively : 
Such murmur was among hem comunly. 
No wonder is : for to the peples eere 
Ther com no word, but that thay mortherid were. 

For which, wher as his peple therbyfore 
Had loved him wel, the sclaunder of his diffanie 
Made hem that thay him hatede therfore : 
To ben a mordrer is an hateful name. 
But natheles, for emest or for game, 
He of his cniel purpos nolde stente, 86 lo 

To tempt his wyf was set al his entente. 

Whan that his dofighter twelf yer was of age, 
He to the court of Rome, in suche wise 
Enformed of his wille, sent his message, 
Comaundyug hem, such bulles to devyse, 
As to his cruel purpos may suffise, 
How that the pope, as for his peples reste, 
Bad him to wedde another, if him leste. 

I say, he bad, thay schulde countrefete 
The popes bulles, makyng mencioun 8620 

That he hath leve his firste \vyf to lete, 
As by the popes dispensacioun. 
To stynte rancour and discencioun 
Bitwix his pej)le and him : thus sayd the bulle, 
The which thay han publisshid atte fulle. 

The rude poepel, as it no wonder is, 
Wende ful wel that it had be right so. 


But whan these tydjnges come to Grisildis, 

I deeme that hir herte was ful wo ; 

But sche y-like sad for evermo 8830 

Disposid was, this humble creature, 

Thadversite of fortun al tendure ; 

Abydyng ever his lust and his plesaunce, 
To whom that sche was give, hert and al, 
As to hir verray worldly suffisaunce. 
But schortly if I this story telle schal, 
This marquys writen hath in special 
A letter, in which he schewith his entent. 
And secrely he to Boloyne it sent. 

To therl of Panyk, which that hadde tho 8640 

Weddid his suster, prayd he specially 
To brynge hom agein his children tuo 
In honurable estaat al openly : 
But oon thing he him praydo outerly, 
That he to no \vight, thougli men wold enquere, 
Schuld not tellen whos children thay were. 

But say the mnyde schuld i-weddid be 
Unto the markys of Saluce anoon. 
And as this eorl was prayd, so dede he. 
For at day set he on his way is goon 8650 

Toward Saluce, and lordes many oon 
In riche array, this mayden for to guyde, 
Her yonge brother lydyng by hir syde. 

Arrayed was toward hir mariagc 
This freisshe may al ful of gemmes clere, 
Hir brother, which that seven yer was of age, 
Arrayed eek ful freissh in his manere : 



And thus in gret noblesse and with glad chere 
Toward Saluces schapyng her journay, 
Fro day to day thay ryden in her way. ^^co 

Incipit pars quinta. 

Among al this, after his wildsed usage, 
This marquis yit his wif to tempte more 
To the uttrest proef of hir corrage. 
Fully to han experiens and lore, 
If that sche were as stedefast as byfore, 
He on a day in open audience 
Ful boystrously hath sayd liir this sentence : 

" Certes, Grisildes, I had y-nough plesaunce 
To have yow to my wif, for your goodnesse. 
And for youre trouthe, and for your obeissaunce, 8670 
Nought for your lignage, ne for your richesse ; 
But now know T in verray sothfastnesse. 
That in gret lordschip, if I wel avyse, 
Ther is gret servitude in sondry wyse, 

I may not do, as every ploughman may ; 
My poeple me constreignith for to take 
Another wyf, and cryen day by day ; 
And eek the popes rancour for to slake 
Consentith it, that dar I undertake : 
And trewely, thus moche I wol yow say, 8680 

My newe wif is comyng by the way. 

" Be strong of hert, and voyde anoon hir place, 
And thilke dower that ye broughten me 

8674 — servitude. '' Nunc quoniam, ut video, magna omnis fortnna 
sprvitiis mafjiia est, non mihi licet quod cuilibet liceret aRricolae," etc. 
The Harl. MS. reads strvise, wliich is inconsistent with the metre. 


Tak it agayn, I graunt it of my grace. 
Retounieth to your fadres hous," quod he, 
" No man may alway have prosperite. 
With even hert I rede yow endure 
The strok of fortune or of adventure." 

And sche agayn answerd in pacience : 
" My lord," quod sche, " I wot, and wist alway, 86^*^ 
How that betwixe your magnificence 
And my poverte no \\'ight can ne may 
Make comparisoun, it is no nay ; 
I ne held me never digne in no manere 
To ben your wyf, ne yit your chamberere. 

" And in this hous, ther ye me lady made, 
(The highe God take I for my witnesse. 
And al so wisly he my soule glade) 
I never huld me lady ne maistresse, ^''"^ 

But humble servaunt to your worthinesse, 
And ever schal, whil that my lyf may dure, 
Aboven every worldly creature. 

" That ye so longe of your benignite 
Han holden me in honour and nobleye, 
Wlier as I was not worthy for to be. 
That thonk I God and yow to whom I preye 
For yeld it yow, ther is no more to seye : 
Unto my Ijider gladly wil I wende. 
And with Mm duelle unto my lyves ende. 

" Ther I was fostred as a child ful smal, ^^'lo 

Til I be deed my lyf ther wil I lede, 
A widow clene in body, hert, and al. 
For sith I gaf to yow my maydenhede, 
And am your trcwc wyf, it is no drede, 


God schilde such a lordes wyf to take 
Another man to housbond or to make. 

" And of your newe mf, God of his grace 
So graunte yow wele and prosperite : 
For I wol gladly yelden hir my place, 
In wliich that I was blisful wont to be. ^'2*^ 

For sith it liketh yow, my lord," quod sche, 
" That whilom were al myn hertes reste, 
That I schal gon, I wil go whan yow leste. 

" But ther as ye profre me such dowayre 
As I ferst brought, it is wel in my mynde, 
It were my wrecchid clothes, no thing faire, 
The whiche to me were hard now for to fynde. 
goode God ! how gentil and how kynde 
Ye semed by your speclie and your visage, 
That day that maked was our manage ! 8730 

'• But soth is sayd, algate I fynd it trewe. 
For in effect it proved is on me, 
Love is nought old, as whan that it is newe. 
But certes, lord, for noon adversite 
To deyen in the caas, it schal not be 
That ever in word or werk I schal repente, 
That I yow gaf myn hert in hoi entente. 

" My lord, ye wot, that in my fadres place 
Ye dede me strippe out of my pore wede. 
And richely me cladden of your grace ; 8740 

To yow brought I nought elles out of drede, 
But faith, and nakednesse, and maydenhede ; 

8742 — nakednesse. The Harl. MS. riads, erroneously, mckenes. The 
words of Petrarch are, "ncqne (niiuino alia mihi dos luit, quani fides et 


And her agayn my clothyng I restore, 
And eek my weddyng ryag for evermore. 

" The remenant of your jewels redy be 
Witliiu your chambur dore dar I saufly sayn : 
Naked out of my fadres hous," quod sche, 
" I com, and naked moot I tome agayn. 
Al your pleisauns wold I fulfille fayn : 
But yit I hojie it be not youre entent, 87.50 

That I smocles out of your paleys went. 

Ye couthe not-doou so dishonest a tiling, 
That thilke wombe, in which your children leyc, 
Schulde byfom the poeple, in my walkyng. 
Be seye al bare : wherfore I yow pray 
Let me not lik a worm go by the way : 
Remembre yow, myn oughne lord so deere, 
I was your wyf, though I unworthy were. 

" Wlierfor, in guei'doun of my maydenhede, 
Which that I brought and nought agayn I ben.-, S/UO 
As vouchethsauf to geve me to my meede 
But such a smok as I was wont to were, 
That I therwith may wrye the wombe of here 
That was your wif : and here take I my leve 
Of yow, myn oughne lord, lest I yow greve." 

" The smok," quod he, "that thou hast on thy bak. 
Let it be stille, and ber it forth with the." 
But wel unnethes thilke word he spak, 
But went his way for routhe and for pite. 
Byfom the folk liirselven strippith sche, 8770 

And in hir smok, with heed and foot al bare. 
Toward hir fader house forth is sche fare. 


The folk hir folwen wepyng in Iiir weye, 
And fortune ay thay cursen as thay goon : 
But sche fro wepyng kept hir eyen dreye, 
Ne in this tyme word ne spak sche noon. 
Hir fader, that this tyding herd anoon, 
Cursed the day and tyme, that nature 
Schoop him to ben a lyves creature. 

For out of doute this olde pore man ^780 

Was ever in suspect of hir manage : 
For ever he deemed, sith that it bigan, 
That whan the lord fulfilled had his corrage. 
Him wolde think that it were disparage 
To his estate, so lowe for to light, 
And voyden hire as sone as ever he might. 

Agayns his doughter hastily goth he ; 
For he by noyse of folk knew hir comyng ; 
And with hir olde cote, as it might be, 
He covered hir ful sorwfully wepynge : ^790 

But on hir body might he it nought bringe. 
For rude was the cloth, and mor of age 
By dayes fele than at hir mariage. 

Thus -with hir fader for a certeyn space 
DwelKth this flour of wifly pacience. 
That neyther by her wordes ne by hir face, 
Byfom the folk, nor eek in her absence, 
Ne schewed sche that hir was doon offence, 
Ne of hir highe astaat no remembraunce 
Ne hadde sche, as by hir countenaimce. *"^oo 

No wonder is, for in hir gret estate 
Hir gost was ever in playn humilite ; 


Ne teuder mouth, noon herte delicate, 

Ne pompe, ne semblant of realte ; 

But ful of pacient benignite. 

Discrete, and prideles, ay honurable, 

And to hir housbond ever meke and stable. 

Men spake of Job, and most for his humblesse, 
As clerkes, whan hem lust, can wel endite. 
Namely of men, but as in sothfastnesse, ^^o 

Though clerkes prayse wommen but a lite, 
Ther can no man in humblesse him acquyte 
As wommen can, ne can be half so trewe 
As wommen ben, but it be falle of mewe. 
Pars sexta. 

Fro Boloyne is this erl of Panik y-come. 
Of which the fame up-sprong to more and lasse. 
And to the peoples eeres alle and some 
Was couth eek, that a newe marquisesse 
He with liim brought, in such pomp and richesse, 
That never was ther seyn with mannes ye 8830 

So noble array in al West Lombardye. 

The marquys, which that schoop and knew al this, 
Er that this erl was come, sent his message 
For thilk cely pore Gi-isildis ; 
And sche with humble hert and glad visage, 
Not with no swollen hert in hir corragc. 
Cam at his best, and on hir knees hir sette, 
And reverently and wyfly schc him grette. 

Pars sexta. — In the Harl. MS, this title of division is omitted, the 
Clerkes Tale beinp arranged in five parts only. 
8825 — glad. MS. Harl. reads good. 


" Grisilcl," quod he, " my "wil is outrely, 
This mayden, that schal weddid be to me, 8830 

Receyved be to morwe as really 
As it possible is in myii hous to be : 
And eek that every wight in his degre 
Have his estaat in sittyng and servyse, 
In high plesaunce, as I can de\'yse. 

" I have no womman suffisant certeyne 
The chambres for tarray in ordinance 
After my lust, and therfor wold I feyne, 
That thin were al such maner governaunce : 
Thow knowest eek of al my plesamice ; ssiO 

Though thyn array be badde, and ille byseye, 
Do thou thy dever atte leste weye." 

" Nought oonly, lord, that I am glad," quod sche, 
" To don your lust, but I desire also 
Yow for to serve and plese in my degre, 
Withoute feyntyng, and schal evermo : 
Ne never for no wele, ne for no wo, 
Ne schal the gost withinne myn herte stente 
To love yow best vnih al my trewe entent." 

And with that word sche gan the hous to dight, 8850 
And tables for to sette, and beddes make, 
And peyned hir to doon al that sche might, 
Preying the chamberers for Goddes sake 
To hasten hem, and faste swepe and schake, 
And sche the moste servisable of alle 

8846 — feyntyng. The Harl. MS. reads feynyng, the t having been 
probably omitted by accident. The Latin text has, " neque in hoc 
■ inquani J'atigabor." 


Hath every chamber arrayed, and his halle. 

Abouten undern gau this erl alight, 
That with Mm brought these noble children tweye ; 
For wliich the peple ran to se that sight 
Of her array, so richely biseye : ^^^ 

And than at erst amonges hem thay seye, 
That Walter was no fool, though that him lest 
To chaimge his wyf ; for it was for the best. 

For sche is fairer, as thay demen alle, 
Than is Grisild, and more tender of age. 
And fairer fruyt bitwen hem schulde falle. 
And more plesaunt for hir high lynage : 
Hir brother eek so fair was of visage. 
That hem to seen the peple hath caught plesauuce, 
Comending now the marquys goveniaunce. 8870 

stormy poeple, unsad and ever mitrewe, 
And undiscret, and chaungyug as a fane, 
Delytyng ever in rombel that is newe. 
For lik the moone ay wax ye and wane : 
Ay ful of clappyng, dere y-nough a jane, 
Youre doom is fals, your constaunce yvel previth, 
A ful gret fool is he that on yow leevith. 

Thus sayde saad folk in that citee, 
Whan that the poeple gased up and doun : 
For thay were glad right for the novelte, 8880 

To have a newe lady of her toun. 

8857 — erl. The Harl. MS. reads lord, but the reading here adopted 
from other MSS. is supported by the words of Petrarch ; " Proxime hicis 
ore tertia, comes supervencriit." 

8873 — dehjlyng. Tlio readiiit; of MS. Harl, is dcsytvjng, which does 
not seem to allord so good a sense. 


No more of this now make I mencioun, 
But to Grisildes agayn wol I me dresse, 
And telle hir Constance, and her busynesse. 

Ful busy was Grisild in every thing, 
That to the feste was appertinent ; 
Eight nought was sche abaissht of hir clothing, 
Though it were ruyde, and som del eek to-rent. 
But with glad cheer to the gate is sche went. 
With other folk, to griete the marquisesse, 8890 

And after that doth forth her busynesse. 

With so glad chier his gestes sche receyveth. 
And so connyngly everich in his degre, 
That no defaute no man aparceyveth, 
But ay thay wondren what sche mighte be. 
That in so pover array was for to se, 
And couthe such honour and reverence. 
And worthily thay prayse hir prudence. 

In all this mene while sche ne stent 
This mayde and eek hir brother to comende ^^00 

With al hir hert in ful benigne entent. 
So wel, that no man couthe hir pris amende : 
But atte last whan that these lordes wende 
To sitte doun to mete, he gan to calle 
Grisild, as sche was busy in his halle. 

" Grisyld," quod he, as it were in his play, 
" How likith the my wif, and hir beaute ?" 
" Right wel, my lord," quod sche, " for in good fay, 
A fairer saugh I never noon than sche. 
I pray to God give hir prosperite ; 8^10 

8901 — benigne. The leading oJ' MS. Harl. is buxom. 


And so hope I, that he wol to yow sende 

Plesaunce y-nough unto your lyves ende. 
" On thing warn I yow and biseke also, 

That ye ne prike with no tormentynge 

Tliis tendre mayden, as ye have do mo : 

For sche is fostrid in liir norischinge 

More tendrely, and to my supposyuge 

Sche couthe not adversite endure, 

As couthe a pore fostrid creature." 

And whan this Walter saugh hir pacience, 8920 

Hir glade cheer, and no malice at al. 

And he so oft had doon to hir offence, 

And sche ay sad and constant as a wal, 

Continuyng ever hir innocence over al. 

This sturdy marquys gan his herte dresse 

To rewen upon hir wyfly stedefastnesse. 
" This is y-nough, Grisilde myn," quod he, 
" Be now no more agast, ne yvel apayed. 
I have thy faith and thy benignite, 
As wel as ever womman was, assayed "^^30 

In gret estate, and propreliche arrayed : 
Now knowe I, dere wyf, thy stedefastnesse ;" 
And hir in armes took, and gan hir kesse. 

And sche for wonder took of it no keepe ; 
Sche herde not what thing he to hir sayde : 
Sche ferd as sche had stert out of a sleepe, 
Til sche out of hir masidnesse abrayde. 

8915 — TOO. For mc, to suit tlic rliyinc. Tyrwliitt has pointed tins 
ont as (ino of tlie most roiniirlialilo licenci's tlmt Chancer has taken in 
altering the orthography of a word for this purpose. 


" Grisild," quod he, " by God that for us deyde, 
Thou art my wyf, ne noon other I have, 
Ne never had, as God my soule save. 8910 

" This is my doughter, which thou hast supposed 
To be my wif ; that other faithfully 
Schal be m}Ti heir, as I have ay purposed ; 
Thow bar hem in thy body trewely : 
At Boloyne have I kept hem prively : 
Tak hem agayu, for now maistow not seye, 
That thou hast lorn noon of thy children tweye. 

" And folk, that other weyes ban seyd of me, 
I warn hem wel, that I have doon this deede 
For no malice, ne for no ciiielte, ^^-'O 

But for tassaye in the thy wommanhede : 
And not to slen my children, (God forbede !) 
But for to kepe hem prively and stille. 
Til I thy purpos knewe, and al thy will." 

Whan sche this herd, aswoned doun sche fallith 
For pitous joy, and after hir swownyng 
Sche bothe hir yonge children to hir callith, 
And in hir armes pitously wepyng 
Embrasetli hem, and tenderly kissyng, 
Ful lik a moder with hir salte teris 8960 

Sche bathis bothe hir visage and hir eeris. 

0, such a pitous thing it was to see 
Hir swownyng, and hir humble vois to heere ! 
*' Graunt mercy, lord, God thank it yow," quod sche, 
" That ye han saved me my children deere : 

8965 — In the Harl. MS. this line stands, That ye han kepi my children 
so deere, but the reading given in tlie text and .adopted by Tvrwhitt seems 
to me prei'erable. 


Now rek I never to be deed right lieere, 
Sith I stond in your love, and in your grace, 
No fors of deth, ne whan my spirit pace. 

" tender deere yonge children myne, 
Youre woful moder wende stedefastly, 8970 

That crael houndes or som foul verrayne 
Had eten yow ; but God of his mercy, 
And your benigne fader tenderly 
Hath doon yow kepe." And in that same stounde 
Al sodeinly sche swapped doun to grounde. 

And in hir swough so sadly holdith sche 
Hir children tuo, whan sche gan hem tembrace, 
That with gret sleight and gret difficulte 
The children from her arm tliay gonne arace. 
! many a teer on many a pitous face ^^^^ 

Doun ran of hem that stooden hir bisyde, 
Unnethe aboute hir mighte thay abyde. 

Waltier hir gladith, and hir sorwe slakith, 
Sche rysith up abaisshed from hir traunce, 
And every wight hir joy and feste makith, 
Til sche hath caught agayn hir continaunce. 
Wauter hir doth so faithfully plesaunce, 
That it was daynte for to see the cheere 
Bitwix hem tuo, now thay be met in feere. 

These ladys, whan that thay her tyme say, 8990 
Han taken hir, and into chambrc goon, 
And strippe hir out of hir rude array. 
And in a cloth of gold that brighte schon, 
With a coroun of many a riche stoon 


Upon hir heed, tliay into halle hir brought : 
And ther sche was honoured as hir ought. 

Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende ; 
For every man and womman doth his might 
This day in mirth and revel to despende, 
Til on the welken schon the sterres bright : ^"^oo 

For more solempne in every mannes sight 
This feste was, and gretter of costage, 
Than was the revel of hir mariage. 

Ful many a yer in heigh prosperite 
Lyven these tuo in concord and in rest, 
And richeliche his doughter maried he 
Unto a lord, on of the worthiest 
Of al Ytaile, and thanne in pees and rest 
His wyves fader in his court lie kepith, 
Til that the soule out of his body crepith. ^oio 

His sone succedith in his heritage. 
In rest and pees, after his fader day ; 
And fortunat was eek in mariage, 
Al put he not his wyf in gret assay. 
This world is not so strong, it is no nay, 
As it hath ben in olde tymes yore, 
And herknith, what this auctor saith therfore. 

This story is sayd, not for that wyves scholde 
Folwe Grisild, as in humilite. 

For it were importable, though thay wolde ; 9020 

But for that eveiy wight in his degre 
Schulde be constant in adversite, 

0018 — This ami the next stanza are traTislatcd ahiiost hterally from 
Petrarch's Latin. 


As was Grisild, therfore Petrark writeth 
This story, which with high stile he enditeth. 

For swich a wommau was so pacient 
Unto a mortal man, wel more us oughte 
Receyven al in gre that God us sent. 
For gret skil is he prove that he wroughte : 
But he ne temptith no man that he boughte, 
As saith seiut Jame, if ye his pistil rede ; ^o^o 

He provith folk al day, it is no drede : 

And suffrith us, as for our exercise, 
With scharpe scourges of adversite 
Ful ofte to be bete in sondry wise : 
Nought for to knowe oure wille, for cartes he, 
Er we were bom, knew al our frelte ; 
And for oure best is al his governaunce ; 
Leet us thanne lyve in vertuous suffraunce. 

But 00 word, lordes, herkneth er I go : 
It were ful hard to fynde now a dayes 9040 

As Grisildes in al a toun thre or tuo : 
For if that thay were put to such assayes, 
The gold of hem hath now so badde alayes 
With bras, that though the coyn be fair at ye. 
It wolde rather brest in tuo than plye. 

For which heer, for the wyves love of Bathe, — 
Whos lyf and alle of hir secte God meyntene 
In high maistry, and ellos were it scathe, — 
I wil with lusty herte freisch and grene, 

9026 — For swich a womman, etc. — i.e. Because .such a woman was 
so patient, we ought the more, etc. Tlic Lansd. MS. and others have 
For sith a rvoman, which may possibly be the correct reading. 


Say yow a song to glade yow, I wene : ^^^^ 

And lat us stynt of ernestful matiere. 
Herknith my song, that saitli in this manere. 

L'envoye de Chaucer. 

Grisild is deed, and eek bir pacience. 
And bothe at oones buried in Itayle : 
For wbiche I crye in open audience. 
No weddid man so hardy be to assayle 
His \vyves pacience, in hope to fynde 
Grisildes, for in certeyn he schal fayle. 

O noble wyves, ful of heigh prudence. 
Let noon humilite your tonges nayle : ^060 

Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence 
To write of yow a story of such mervayle. 
As of Grisildes pacient and kynde, 
Lest Chichivache yow swolwe in bir entraile. 

9064 — Chichivache. According to a popular fable, which seems to 
have had its origin in France, the chicheraehe or chicheface, was a 
monster which lived only on good women, and which was said to be 
always thin and meagre on account of the extreme rarity of this article 
of food. M. Achille Jubinal, in the notes to his Mijstcres inedils du xv. 
siecle, tom. i, p. 390, has printed a French poetical description of this 
animal from a manuscript of the fourteenth century. In the French 
miracle of St. Genevieve, of the fifteenth century, (Jubinal, ib. p. 281) a 
man says satirically to the saint, — 

Gardez-vous de la chicheface, 

El vous mordra s'el vous eucontre, 

Vous n'amendez point sa besoigne. 

I am not aware of any allusion to this fable in England before Chaucer ; 
but our countrymen carried the satire still further, and added another 
beast named Bycorn, who lived upon good and patient husbands, and 
who was as fat as the other was lean, on account of the abundance of his 
favourite food. A poem by Lydgate on " Bycome and Chichevache," 


Fohnth ecco, that holcUth no silence, 
But ever answereth at the countretayle : 
Beth nought bydaffed for your innocence, 
But scharply tak on yow the govemayle : 
Empryntith wel this lessoun on your mynde. 
For comun profyt, sith it may avayle. ^^"^^ 

Ye archewyves, stondith at defens, 
8311 ye ben strong, as is a greet chamayle, 
Ne suffre not, that men yow don offens. 
And sclendre wyves, felle as in batayle, 
Beth egre as is a tyger yond in lude ; 
Ay clappith as a mylle, I yow counsaile. 
Ne drede hem not, do hem no reverence. 

For though thin housbond armed be in mayle, 

The arwes of thy crabbid eloquence 

Schal perse his brest, and eek his adventayle : 9080 

In gelousy I rede eek thou him bynde. 

And thou schalt make him couche as doth a quayle. 
If thou be fair, ther folk ben in presence 

Schew thou thy visage and thin apparaile ; 

If thou be foul, be fre of thy despense, 

To gete the frendes do ay thy travayle : 

Be ay of chier as light as lef on lynde, 

And let hem care, and wepe, and wiyug, and wayle. 

is printed in Mr. Halliwpll's Minor Poems of Dan John Lydgate, 
p. 129. A largo woodcut, printed in a broadsidn of tlie time olElizabeth, 
and preserved in the collection of broadsides, &c. in the library of the 
Society of Antiquaries, gives a representation of these two monsters. 
9074 — ivyveg. The reading of the Harl. MS. i.s wj/dciven. 



" Weptng and wailyug, care and other sorwe 
I Imowe y-nough, botlie on even and on morwe," ^O^o 
Quod the marchaund, " and so doou other mo, 
That weddid ben ; I trowe that it be so : 
For wel I woot it fareth so with me. 
I have a wyf, the worste that may be, 
For though the feend to hir y-coupled were, 
Sche wold him overmacche I dar wel swere. 
What schuld I yow reherse in special 
Hir high malice ? sche is a schrewe at al. 
Ther is a long and a large difference 
Betwix Grisildes grete pacience, ^loo 

And of my wyf the passyng cruelte. 
Were I imbounden, al so mot I the, 
I wolde never eft come in the snare. 
We weddid men lyve in sorwe and care, 
Assay it who so wil, and he schal fynde 
That I say soth, by seint Thomas of Inde. 
As for the more part, I say not alle ; 

The prolnge. This prologue is omitted in some MSS., and in others a 
different prologue is given, and the Clerkes Tale is in some followed by 
the Frankelein's Tale. The prologue and arrangement of the Harl. MS. 
are, however, e^^dently the genuine ones. Tyrwhitt quotes from other 
MSS. the following concluding stanza to the envorje ; — 

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 tliis 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. 


God schilde that it scholde so byfalle. 

A! good sir host, I have y-weddid be 

Thise monethes tuo, and more not, parde ; ^no 

And yit I trowe that he, that al his lyve 

Wyfles hath ben, tliough that men wold him live 

Unto the hert, ue couthe in no manere 

Tellen so moche sorwe, as I now heere 

Couthe telle of my wyfes cursednesse." 

"Now, "quod our ost, "Marchaunt, so God yowblesse ! 
Sin ye so moche knowen of that art, 
Ful hertily tellith us a part." 
" Gladly," quod he, " but of myn oughne sore 
For sory hert I telle may na more." ^120 


Whilom ther was dwellyng in Lombardy 
A worthy knight, that born was of Pavy, 
In which he lyved in gret prosperity ; 
And fourty yer a wifles man was he, 
And folwed ay his bodily delyt 
On wommen, ther as was his appetyt, 
As doon these fooles that ben seculere. 
And whan that he was passed sixty yere, 

The Marchaundes Tale. The French fabhau, from which this Tale 
■was no doubt translated, is not now known to exist, but the subject has 
been preserved in Latin in the metrical tales of Adolfus, printed in my 
Latin Stories, p. 174, of which collection it forms the first tale. It is told 
also in a Latin prose tale given in my Latin Stories, p. 78, from the 
Appendix to the editions oi ^sop's Fahlc.t printed in the fifteenth century. 

0128 — si.rt;/. The Harl. MS. reads here as in 1. 9124, fourty. Tyr- 
whitt reads in both places sixty. The Lansdowne MS. has xl in the 
first place, and Ix in the second, which numbers I have thought it safest 


Were it for holyness or for dotage, 
I can not say, but such a gret corrage ^i^o 

Hadcle this knight to ben a weddid man, 
That day and night he doth al that he can 
Taspye wher that he niighte weddid be ; 
Praying our lord to graunte him, that he 
Might oones knoweu of that blisful hf. 
That is bitwLx an housbond and his wyi, 
And for to lyve under that holy bond, 
With which God first man to womman bond. 
" Noon other lif," sayd he, " is worth a bene : 
For wedlok is so holy and so clene, ^l^O 

That in this world it is a paradis." 
Thus sayd this olde knight, that was so wys. 
And certeinly, as soth as God is king, 
To take a wj^ is a gloiious thing, 
And namely whan a man is old and lioor. 
Than is a wyf the fruyt of his tresor ; 
Than schuld he take a yong wif and a fair. 
On which he might engendre him an hair, 
And lede his lyf in mirthe and solace, 
Wheras these bachileres synge alias, ^i^^ 

Whan that thay fynde eny adversite 
In love, which is but childes vanite. 
And trewely it sit wel to be so. 

to adopt : the transposition of I and x e<isily gave rise to different readings. 
I suppose that Chaucer meant to reckon the period during which liis 
hero remained " wifles" I'roni the ordinary period of marriage, or about 
liis twentieth year. The reading of MS. Hurl , in 1. 9128, is totally 
incompatible with tlio ohl age and impotency under which January is 
described as labouring. 


That bachilers have ofte peyue aiid wo : 

On bmtil grouud thay bulde, and brutelnesse 

Thay fyude, whan thay wene sikeniesse : 

Thay lyve but as a brid other as a best, 

In liberte and under noon arrest ; 

Ther as a weddid man, in his estate, 

Lyvith liis hf busily and ordinate, 9i<»o 

Under the yok of mariage i-bounde : 

Wei may his herte in joye and blisse abounde. 

For who can be so buxom as a wyf ? 

Who is so trewe and eek so ententyf 

To kepe liim, seek and hool, as is his make ? 

For wele or woo sche wol him not forsake : 

Sche is not wery him to love and serve, 

Theigh that he lay bedred til that he sterve. 

And yet som clerkes seyn, it is not so, 

Of whiche Theofrast is oon of tho : 91'0 

What fors though Theofrast liste lye ? 

Ne take no wif, quod he, for housbondrye, 

As for to spare in housliold thy dispense : 

A trewe servaunt doth more diligence 

Thy good to kepe, than thin oughne wif, 

For sche wol clayme half part in al hir lif. 

9160 — huailtj. Tlie MS. Lansdownc has hlisful, which is the reading 
adopted by Tyrwhitt. 

9172 — Ne take no wif. " What follows to ver. 9180 taken from 
the Liher aurcolus Theophrasti de nupliis, as quoted by Hieronyrnus con- 
tra Jovinianum, and from thence by John of Salisbury, Polycrat. 1. viii. 
c. xi. Quod si propter dispensationem domus,el languoris solatia, ct fiigam 
soliiudinis, dticuntur uxores, multo melius dispensat servus fidclis, &c, 
Assidere autem cegrolanli magis possunt amici et vernula beneficiis obli- 
gati qnam ilia qua 7iohis imputet lachrymas suas," &e — Tyrwhitt. 


And if that thou be seek, so God me save, 

Thyne verray frendes or a trewe knave 

Wol kepe the bet than sche that waytith ay 

After thy good, and hath doon many a day. ^i^^ 

And if that thou take a wif, be war 

Of oon peril, which declare I ne dar. 

This entent, and an hundrid sithe wors, 
Writith this man, ther God liis bones curs. 
But take no keep of al such vauite ; 
Deffy Theofrast, and herkne me. 
A wyf is Goddes gifte verrayly ; 
Al other maner giftes hardily. 
As landes, rentes, pasture, or comune. 
Or other moeblis, ben giftes of fortune, 
That passen as a schadow on a wal : 
But dred not, if I playnly telle schal, ^^^o 

9181 — Aiid if that. This and the following line are not in the Text 
of Tyrwhitt, who observes on this passage, — " After this verse in the 
corninon Edift. are these two. 

And if thou take to the a wife untrue 

Ful oftentime it shall the sore rew." 
In MSS. A C. and B. a. they stand thus— 

And if thou take a wif be wel ywar 

Of on F"' which I declare ne dare. 


In MSS. C. 1. HA. D. thus— 

And if thou take a wif of heye lynagc 

She shal be hauteyn of gret costage. 
In MS. B. S. thus— 

And if thou take a wif in thin age olds 

Ful lightly mayst thou be a cokewokl. 
In MSS. Ask. 1. 2. E. H. B. 3-. 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 tlie opening of a new argument, which the author, for 
some reason or other, immediately- abandondcd, and consequently would 
have cancelled, if he had lived to publish his work." 


A vryi wil last and in thiu hous endure, ' 

Wei lenger than the lust peradventm'e. 

Manage is a ful gret sacrament ; 

He which hath no \vif I hold him schent ; 

He lyveth helples, and is al desolate : 

(I speke of folk in seculer estate) : 

And herken why, I say not this for nought. 

That womman is for mannes help i-wrought. 

The heighe God, whan he had Adam maked, 

And saugh him al aloone body naked, 9200 

God of liis grete goodnes sayde thanne. 

Let us now make an helpe to this manne 

Lyk to himself ; and than he made Eve. 

Her may ye see, and here may ye preve, 

That wyf is mannes help and liis comfort, 

His paradis terrestre and his desport : 

So buxom and so vertuous is sche, 

Thay mosten neede lyve in unite : 

fleisch thay ben, and on blood, as I gesse, 

Have but oon hert in wele and in distresse. ^310 

A wyf? a! seinte Mary, henedlcite, 
How might a man have eny adversite 
That hath a wyf? certes I can not say. 
The joye that is betwixen hem tway 
Ther may no tonge telle or herte think. 
If he be pore, sche helpith him to svvyuk ; 
Sche kepith his good, and wastith never a del ; 
And al that her housbond list, sche likith it wel ; 

9200 — hotly naked. Tvrwhitt reads from other MSS. hcllji naked, 
■which was the ordinary phrase lor entirely naked. MS. Lansd. has hhj 
naked, which is j>robab!y a mere error Ibr hcUy naked. 


Sche saith nought oones nay, whan he saith ye ; 

Do this, saith he ; al recly, sir, saith sche. ^220 

O blisful ordre, o ■wedlok precious I 
Thou art so mery, and ek so vertuous. 
And so comendid, and approved eek, 
That every man that holt him worth a leek, 
Upon his bare knees ought al Ms lyf 
Thanken his God, that him hath sent a wit', 
Or pray to God oon him for to sende 
To be \vith him unto his lyves ende. 
For than his lyf is set in sikemesse ; 
He may not be deceyved, as I gesse, 9230 

So that he worche after his wyfes red ; 
Than may he boldely here up his heed, 
Thay ben so trewe, and also so wyse. 
For wliiche, if thou wolt do as the wyse. 
Do alway so, as womman wol the rede. 
Lo how that Jacob, as the clerkes rede. 
By good counseil of his moder Rebecke, 
Band the kydes skyn about his nelike ; 
For which his fader benesoun he wan, 
Lo Judith, as the story telle can, 92io 

By wys counseil sche Goddes poepel kept, 
And slough him Oliphemus whil he slept. 

Lo Abygaille, by good counseil how sche 
Savyd hir housbond Nabal, whan that he 

9244 — Nahal. The Harl. MS. reads Nacab, which appears to be a 
mere error of the scribe. 

9245 — Hester. The Harl. MS. and some others read after also, an 
evident error of the scribes. In 1. 9247 the Harl. MS. reads corruptly 
Mamloche. The proper names are often corrupted in this manner by 
the ignorance or carelessness of scribes, in manuscripts of early English 


Schold hau ben slayn. And loke, Hester also 

By good counseil delivered out of wo 

The poeple of God, and made him Mardoche 

Of Assuere enhaunsed for to be. 

Ther nys no thing in gre superlatif 

(As saith Senec) above an humble wyf. ^^50 

Suffre thy \vyves touge, as Catoun byt, 

Sche schal comaunde, and thou schalt suffre it, 

And yit sche wil obeye of curtesye. 

A wif is keper of thin housbondrye : 
Wei may the sike man wayle and wepe, 
Ther as ther is no wyf the hous to kepe. 
I wai'ne the, if wisly thou wilt wirche, 
Love wel thy wyf, as Crist loveth his chirche : 
If thou lovest thiself, thou lovest thy wyf. 
No man hatith his fleissch, but in his lif ^260 

He fostrith it, and therfore warne I the 
Cherissh thy wyf, or thou schalt never the. 
Housbond and wif, what so men jape or pleye, 
Of worldly folk holdeu the righte weye : 
Thay ben so knyt, ther may noon harm bytyde, 
And nameliche upon the wyves syde. 
For which this January, of which I tolde, 

9250 — As scith Senec. The passage of Seneca alluded to, was written 
in the margin of one of the MSS. consulted by Tyrwhitt : " Sicut nihil est 
superius benigua conjuge, ita nihil est crudelius infesta niuliere." 

92i51 — us Catoun hyi. The allusion is to the popular treatise entitled 
C'alo de Moribits, lib. iii, distich 25: — 

" U.\oris linguam, si frugi est, ferre memento." 

9258 — Love toel,€!c. The allusion is to Paul's Epist. to the Ephcsians, 
V. 25,28, 29, viri diligile uxores vestras, sicut ct Chvistus dilcxit cccle- 
siain. . . .Qui suam uxorem diligit, seipsuin diiigit. Nemo cuini uuquam 
carncm suaiii odio habuit : sod uutrit ot lovit eaiu. 


Considered hath inwith his dayes olde 

The lusty lif, the vertuous quiete, 

That is in mariage honey-swete. ^'^"^^ 

And for his frendes on a day he sent 
To tellen hem theffect of his entent. 
With face sad, he hath hem this tale told : 
He sayde, " Frendes, I am hoor and old, 
And almost (God woot) at my pittes hrinke, 
Upon my soule som what most I thyuke. 
I have my body folily dispendid, 
Blessed be God that it schal be amendid : 
For I wil be certeyn a weddid man, 
And that anoon in al the hast I can, ^^^ 

Unto som mayde, fair and tender of age : 
I pray yow helpith for my mariage 
Al sodeynly, for I wil not abyde : 
And I wil fonde tespien on my syde. 
To whom I may be weddid hastily. 
But for als moche as ye ben mo than I, 
Ye schul rather such a thing aspien 

Than I, and wher me lust beste to allien. 

But 00 thing warne I yow, my frendes deere, 

I wol noon old wyf have in no manere : ^^90 

Sche schal not passe sistene yer ceitayn. 

Old fisch and yong fleisch that wold I have ful fayn. 

Bet is," quod he, " a pyk than a pikerell. 

And bet than olde boef is the tendre vel. 

I ml no womman twenty yer of age, 

It nys but bene-straw and gret forage. 

And eek these olde w\alewes (God it woot) 


Thay can so moche craft of Wades boot, 

So moche broken harm whan that hem list, 

That with hem schuld I never ly^^en in rest. 9300 

For sondry scolis maken subtil clerkes ; 

Womman of many a scole half a clerk is. 

But certeyn, a yong thing may men gye, 

Eight as men may warm wax with hondes plye. 

Wherfor I say yow plenerly in a clause, 

I wil noon old Avyf han right for that cause. 

For if so were I hadde so meschaunce, 

That I in hir ne couthe have no plesaimce. 

Than schuld I lede my lyf in advoutrie, 

And go streight to the devel whan I dye. ^3io 

Ne children schuld I noon upon hir geten : 

Yet were me lever houndes had me eten, 

Than that myn heritage schulde falle 

In straimge bond : and thus I telle yow alle. 

I doute not, I wot the cause why 

Men scholde wedde : and forthermor woot I, 

Ther spekith many man of mariage, 

That wot uomore of it than wot my page, 

■9298 — of Wades boot. The popular legend of Wade's boat, thougli 
well known in the sixteenth century, is now unfortunately lost, so that 
we cannot fully understand the force of Chaucer's allusion. Wade was 
one of the heroes of the Northern Mythology, and like so many of the 
same class, became subsequently the hero of a medieval romance of the 
same class as the romances of Horn and Havelok. M. Fr. Michel has 
collected together nearly all the passages of old writers that can now be 
found, in which he is mentioned, in an essay in French, sur Vade. 
The medieval romance appears to have related a long series of wild 
adventures which Wade encountered in his boat, named Guingelot; and 
these adventures seem to be cited in the text as examples of craft and 
cunning: in another passage of Chaucer, Troilus, lib. iii, 1. 615, they 
are spoken of as examples of romantic or idle tales, — 

" He songe, sche pleyedo, he tolde a tale of Wade." 

9S02— scale. The Harl. MS. reads sicile. 


For wliiche causes man schuld take a wyf. 

If he ne may not chast be by his lif, '^^^o 

Take him a wif with gret devocioun, 

Bycause of lawful procreacioun 

Of children, to thonour of God above, 

And not oonly for paramour and for love ; 

And for thay schulde leccherye eschiewe, 

And yeld oure dettes whan that it is due : 

Or for that ilk man schulde helpen other 

In meschief, as a suster schal the brother, 

And lyve in chastite ful holily. 

But, sires, by your leve, that am not I, ^330 

For God be thanked, I dar make avaunt, 

I fele my lemys stark and suffisaunt 

To doon al that a man bilongeth unto : 

I wot my selve best what I may do. 

" Though I be hoor, I fare as doth a tree, 
That blossemith er that the frayt i-waxe be ; 
A blossemy tre is neither drye ne deed : 
I fele me no wher hoor but on myn heed. 
Myn herte and al my lymes ben as greene. 
As laurer thurgh the yeer is for to scene. ^340 

And synnes ye han herd al myn entent, 
I pray yow to my wille ye assent." 

Diverse men diversly him tolde 
Of manage many ensamples olde ; 
Some blamed it, some praised it certayn ; 
But atte laste, schortly for to sayn, 
(As alday fallith altercacioun, 
Bitwixe frendes in dispitesoun) 


Ther fel a strif bitwen his bretlieren tuo, 

Of which that oon was clepid Placebo, ^350 

Justinus sothly clepecl was that other. 

Placebo saycle : " O January, brother, 

Ful litel need had ye, my lord so deere, 

Counseil to axe of eny that is heere : 

But that ye ben so ful of sapience, 

That yow ne likith for your heigh prudence, 

To wayve fro the word of Salamon. 

This word, said he, imto us everychoon : 

Werk al thing by counsail, thus sayd he, 

And thanne schaltow nought repente the. ^360 

But though that Salamon speke such a word, 

Myn owne deere brother and my lord. 

So wisly God bring my soule at rest, 

I holde your oughne counseil is the best. 

For, brother myn, of me tak tliis motif, 

I have now ben a court-man al my lyf. 

And God wot, though that I unworthy be, 

I have standen in ful gret degre 

Abouten lordes in ful high estat : 

Yit had I never with noon of hem debaat, 9370 

I never hem contraried trewely. 

I wot wel that my lord can more than I ; 

What that he saith, I hold it ferm and stable, 

I say the same, or elles thing semblable. 

A ful gret fool is eny counselour, 

9363 — at rest. The Harl. MS. re.ids at ese and rest, which makes the 
line too long. The word ese has probably crept in as a gloss upon rest, 
or as a various reading. 


That servith any lord of high honoui-, 
That dar presume, or oones thenken it, 
That his counseil schuld passe his lordes wit. 
Nay, lordes ben no fooles by my fay. 
Ye have your self y-spoken heer to day ^^^^ 

So heigh sentens, so holly, and so wel, 
That I consente, and conferme every del 
Youre wordes alle, and youre oppinioun. 
By God, ther is no man in al this toun 
Ne in Ytaile, couthe better have sayd : 
Crist holdith him of this ful wel apayd. 
And trewely it is an heigh corrage 
Of any man that stopen is in age, 
To take a yong wyf, by my fader kyn : 
Your herte hongith on a joly pyn. 9390 

Doth now in this matier right as yow lest, 
For fynally I hold it for the best." 
Justinus, that ay stille sat and herde. 
Right in this wise he to Placebo answerde. 
" Now, brother myn, be pacient I yow pray, 
Syns ye have sayd, and herknith what I say : 
Senek amonges other wordes wyse 
Saith, that a man aught him wel avyse, 
To whom he giveth his lond or his catel. 
And syns I aught avyse me right wel, ^**oo 

To whom I give my good away fro me, 
Wel more I aught avised for to l)e 
To whom I give my body : for alwey 
I warn yow wel it is no childes pley 
To take a w\'f withoute avisement. 


Men most enquere (this is myn assent) 

Wher sche be wys, or sobre, or dronkelewe, 

Or proud, or eny other way a schrewe, 

A chyder, or a wastour of thy good, 

Or riche or pore, or elles man is wood. ^^^^ 

Al be it so, that no man fynde schal 

Noon in this world, that trottith hool in al, 

Neyther man, ne best, such as men can devyse, 

But natheles it aught y-nough suffise 

With any wyf, if so w^ere that sche hadde 

Mo goode thewes than hir vices badde : 

And al tliis askith leyser to enquere. 

For God woot, I have weped many a tere 

Ful prively, syns I have had a wyf. 

Prayse who so wil a weddid mannes lif, ^^-'^ 

Cartes I fynd in it but cost and care, 

And observaunce of alle blisses bare. 

And jat, God woot, myn neigheboiu's aboute, 

And namely of wommen many a route, 

Sayn that I have the moste stedefast wyf, 

And cek the meekest oon that berith lyf. 

But I woot best, wher wryngith me my scho. 

Ye may for me right as yow liste do. 

Avysith yow, ye ben a man of age, 

How that ye entren into mariage ; ^^^"^ 

And namly with a yong wif and a fair. 

By him that made water, eorthe, and air. 

The yongest man, that is in al this route, 

01'27 — wi/ .irho. Son before the note on 1. (\07i. 



Is busy y-uoiigb to bring it wel aboute 
To have his wif alloone, tnistith me : 
Ye schul not please hir fully yeres thre, 
This is to say, to doon hir ful plesaunce. 
A wyf axith ful many an observaunce. 
I pray yow that ye be not evel apaycl." 

" Wel," quod this January, "and hastow sayd? ^^40 
Straw for thy Senec, and for thy proverbis ! 
I covmte nought a panyer ful of herbes 
Of scole termes ; wiser men than thow. 
As I have sayd, assenten her right now 
Unto my purpose : Placebo, what say ye ?" 

" I say it is a cursed man," quod he, 

" That lettith matrimoigne sicurly." 
And mth that word thay rysen up sodeinly. 
And ben assented fully, that lie scholde 
Be weddid whan him lust, and wher he wolde. 9150 

The fantasy and the curious busynesse 
Fro day to day gan in the soule impresse 
Of January aboute liis manage. 
Many a fair schap, and many a fair visage, 
Ther passith thorugh his herte night by night. 
As who so took a mirrour polissched bright. 
And set it in a comun market place, 
Than schuld he se many a figure pace 
By his mirrour ; and in the same Arise 
Gan January in his thought devyse 9400 

Of maydens, which that dwellid him bisyde : 
He wist not where that he might abyde. 
For though that oon have beaute in hir face, 


Another stant so in the poeples grace 

For hir sadness and hir benignite, 

That of the poeple grettest vols hath sche : 

And som were riche and hadde badde name. 

But natheles, bitwix emest and game, 

He atte last appoynted him an oon, 

And let al other fro his herte goon, ^^^o 

And dies hir of his oughne auctorite. 

For love is blynd al day, and may not se. 

And whan he was into bedde brought, 

He purtrayed in his hert and in his thought 

Hir freische beaute, and hir age tendre, 

Hir myddel smal, hir armes long and sclendre, 

Hir ^vise goveniaunce, hir gentilesse, 

Hir wommanly beryng, and hir sadnesse. 

And whan that he on hir was condescendid. 
Him thought his chois mighte nought be amendid ; 9480 
For whan that he himself concludid hadde. 
Him thought ech other mannes witte so badde, 
That impossible it were to repplie 
Agayn his choys ; tliis was his fantasie. 
His frendes sent he to, at his instaunce. 
And prayed hem to doon him that plesaunce, 
That hastily thay wolde to him come ; 
He wold abrigge her labour alle and some : 
Nedith no more for him to gon ne ryde, 
He was appoynted ther lie wold abyde. **490 

Placebo cam, and eek his frendes soone, 

diSi—toiite. This is the reading of Lansd. MS. The Harl. MS. 
reads wyf, \rhich appears to be incorrect. 

II 2 


And althirfirst he bad hem alle a boone, 
That noon of hem noon argumentis make 
Agayn the purpos which that he had take : 
Whicli purpos was plesaunt to God, sayd he, 
And verray ground of his prosperite. 

He sayd, ther was a mayden in the toun, 
Which that of beaute hadde gret renoun, 
Al were it so, sche were of smal degre, 
Suffisith him hir youthe and hir beaute : ^^00 

Which mayde, he sayd, he wold have to his wyf, 
To lede in ease and holinesse his lyf : 
And thanked God, that he might have hir al, 
That no wight with his blisse parten schal : 
And prayed hem to laboure in this neede, 
And schapen that he faile not to speede. 
For than, he sayd, his sjnrit was at ease ; 
" Than is," quod he, " no thing may me displease, 
Save oon thing prikkith in my conscience, 
The which I wil reherse in your presence. 9510 

I have herd sayd," quod he, " ful yore ago, 
Ther may no man have parfyt blisses tuo, 
This is to say, in erthe and eek in hevene. 
For though he kepe him fro the synnes sevene. 
And eek from ylk a l)raunche of thilke tre, 
Yit is ther so parfyt felicite 
And so gret ease and lust in mariage, 
That ever I am agast now in myn age, 

9500. youthe. — This reading also is adopted from the Lansdowne MS., 
as being apparently better than that of the Harl. MS., which has trout h. 

9.51.5. hraunche. — The popular medieval treatises on the seven sins, 
arrange the minor transgressions connected with each as branches of the 
]iriiiiarv tree. 


That I scbal lede now so mery a lyf, 

So delicat, withoute wo and stryf, 9520 

That I schal have myn heven in erthe heere. 

For sith that verrey heven is bought so deere 

With tribulacioim and gret penaunce, 

How schuld I thanne, that live in such plesaunce 

As alle weddid men doon with lier wyves, 

Come to blisse ther Crist eterne on ly\'e is ? 

This is my drede, and ye, my bretheren tweye, 

Assoilith me this questioun, I yow preye." 

Justinus, which that hated his folye, 
Answerd anoon right in his japerie ; ^^^o 

And for he wold his longe tale abrigge, 
He wolde noon auctorite alegge, 
But sayde, " Sir, so ther be noon obstacle 
Other than this, God of his liigh miracle, 
And of his mercy may so for yow wirche. 
That er ye have your rightes of holy chirche. 
Ye may repente of weddid mannes lyf, 
In which ye sayn ther is no wo ne stryf : 
And ellis God forbade, but he sente 
A weddid man grace him to repente ^540 

Wei ofte, rather than a sengle man. 
And therfor, sire, the beste reed I can, 
Dispaire yow nought, but have in youre memorie, 
Peradventure sche may be your purgatorie ; 
Sche may be Goddes mene and Goddes whippe ; 
Than schal your soule up to heven sldppe 
Swyfter than doth an arwe out of a bowe. 
I hope to God herafter ye shuln knowe, 


That ther nys noon so gret felicite 

In mariage, ne nevermor schal be, ^^so 

That yow schal lette of your savacioun, 

So that ye use, as skile is and resomi. 

The lustes of your wyf attemperely, 

And that ye please hir not to amorously : 

And that ye kepe yow eek from other synne. 

My tale is doon, for my witt is thynne. 

Beth not agast herof, my brother deere, 

But let us waden out of this matiere. 

The wif of Bathe, if ye han imderstonde, 

Of mariage, which ye han now in honde, ^560 

Declared hath ful wel in litel space : 

Fareth now well, God have yow in his grace." 

And with that word this Justinus and his brother 
Han take her leve, and ech of hem of other. 
And whan thay saugh that it most needis be, 
Thay wroughten so by sleight and wys ti'ete, 
That sche this mayden, which that Mayus hight. 
As hastily as ever that sche might, 
Schal weddid be unto this Januarie. 
I trow it were to longe yow to tarie, '>'570 

If I yow tolde of every sent and bond, 
By wliich that sche was feofFed in his lond ; 
Or for to herken of hir riche array. 
But finally y-comen is that day. 
That to the chirche bothe ben thay went, 
For to rece\'ve the holy sacrament. 

9573— herken. Other MSS, with TvrwLitt, have rcMien. 


Forth comth the preost, with stoole about his iiecke, 
Aiid bad hir be lik Sarra and Rebecke 
In -wisdom and in trouth of mariage : 
And sayd his orisouns, as is usage, 9^80 

And crouched hem, and bad God schuld hem blesse, 
And made al secur y-nowh with holinesse. 
Thus ben thay weddid with solempnite ; 
And atte fest sittith he and sche 
With othir worthy folk upon the deys. 
Al.ful of joy and blis is the paleys, 
And ful of instrumentz, and of vitaile, 
The moste deintevous of al Ytaile. 
Biforn hem stood such instruments of soun, 
That Orpheus, ne of Thebes Amphioun, 9^90 

Ne maden never such a melodye. 
At every cours ther cam loud menstralcye. 
That never tromped Joab for to heere, 
Ne he Theodomas yit half so cleere 
At Thebes, whan t]ie cite was in doute. 
Bachus the wyn hem schenchith al aboute, 
And Venus laughith upon every wight, 
(For January was bycome hir knight. 
And wolde bothe assayen liis corrage 
In liberte and eek in mariage) 9600 

And \vith hir fuyrbrond in hir liond aboute 

9594 — Ne he Theodomas. " This person is niejitioned aguin as a lamous 
trumpeter in the H. of F. iii. 1 50, but upon what authority I really do not 
know. 1 should stispect that our author met with him, and the anecdote 
alluded to, in some Romantic Hiaturi/ ol'Tliebes. He is prefixed to proper 
names emphatically, according to the Saxon usage. See before ver. 9242, 
/«'m Holofcrnes; ver. 9247, him Miirdochcn ; and below vor. 9608. Of 
hire Philologic and /u?« Mercury." — Ti/itrhilt. 


Daunceth bifore the bryde and al the route. 

And certeynly I dar right wel say this, 

Ymeneus, that god of weddyng is, 

Seigh never his lif so mery a weddid man. 

Holde thy pees, thow poete Marciau, 

That writest us that ilke weddyng merye 

Of hir Philologie and he Mercurie, 

And of the songes that the Muses songe : 

To smal is bothe thy penne and eek thy tonge ^610 

For to descrive of this mariage. 

Whan tender youthe hath weddid stoupyng age, 

Ther is such mirthe that it may not be write ; 

Assaieth it your self, than may ye wyte 

If that I lye or noon in this mateere. 

Mayus, that sit with so benigue a cheere, 

Hir to bihold it semed fayerye ; 

Queen Ester loked never with such an ye 

On Assuere, so meke a look hath sche ; 

I may not yow devyse al hir beaute ; ^^^^o 

But thus moche of hir beaute telle I may, 

That sche was lyk the brighte morw of May. 

Fulfild of alle beaute and plesaunce. 

This January is ravyscht in a traunce. 
At every tyme he lokith in hir face, 
But in liis hert he gan hir to manace, 
That he that night in armes wold hir streyne 
Harder than ever Paris did Eleyne. 

9606 — Marcian. Marcianus Capella, the well-kuown author of a kind 
of philosophical romance, l)e Nupliis Mcrcurii ct Philologice. 

9608— Ac Mercurie. Tynvhitt reads him. See his observations in 
the note on I. 9594. I have not ventured to alter the reading of the 
Harl. MS., where it involves a question of grainiuatical construction. 


But natlieles yit had he gret pite 
That thilke night offenden hir most he, 9630 

And thought : " Alas ! o tendre creature. 
Now wolde God ye mighte wel endure 
Al my corrage, it is so schaq) and keene ; 
I am agast ye schul it not susteene. 
For God forhede, that I dede al my might. 
Now wolde God that it were woxe night, 
And that the night wold stonden evermo. 
I Avoid that al this poeple were ago." 
And fynally he doth al his labour, 
, As he best mighte, savyng his honoui', oow 

To hast hem from the mete in subtil wise. 
The tyme cam that resoun was to ryse. 
And after that men daunce, and drynke fast, 
And spices al about the hous thay cast. 
And ful of joy and blis is every man, 
Al but a squier, that hight Damyan, 
Which karf to-for the knight ful many a day : 
He was so ravyssht on his lady May, 
That for the verray peyne he was nigh wood ; 
Almost he swelt and swowned ther he stood : ^650 
So sore hath Venus hurt him with liir broud, 
As that sche bare it daunsyng in hir bond. 
And to his bed he went him hastily ; 
No more of liim as at this tyme telle I ; 
But ther I lete him now his wo compleyne, 

9637 — stonden. Other MSS. read lastcn. 

9655 — now his ivo compleyne. MS. Laiisd., wilL others, rcatls, let him 
ivepe y-nowc andpkine. 



Til freisshe May wol rewen on his peyno. 

O perilous fuyr, that in the bed-straw bredith ! 

O famuler fo, that his service bedith ! 

servaunt traitour, false homly hewe, 

Lyk to the nedder in bosom sleighe untrewe, ^^^60 

God schild us alle from youi' acqueintance ! 

O January, dronken in plesaunce 

Of mariage, se how thy Damyan, 

Thyn oughne squier and thy borne man, 

Entendith for to do the vilonye : 

God graunte the thin homly fo espye. 

For in this world nys worse pestilence, 

Than homly foo, alday in thy presence. 

Parfourmed hath the sonne his ark diourne, 
No lenger may the body of him sojourne ^670 

On thorisonte, as in that latitude : 
Night with his mantel, that is derk and rude, 
Gan oversprede themesperie aboute : 
For wliich departed is the lusti route 
Fro Januaiy, with thank on every side. 
Hoom to her houses lustily thay ryde, 

9659 — homly. Homly of course means domestic : hewe is the Anglo- 
Saxon hiwa, a household servant. O false domestic servant ! This 
reading of our MS. is undoubtedly the right one. Other MSS. have holy 
instead of homly, an error perhaps arising from the omission of the mark 
of abbreviation by some scribe who copied the word when it was written 
holy. Tjrwhitt however adopts this reading, mistalies the meaning of 
the word hewe, and, to make sense of the passage, adds of, which is found 
in none of the MSS ; and in his text it stands, /aZ>t' of holy hewe, which 
he supposes to signify false of holy colour. Conjectural emendations are 
always dangerous. 

9(i60 — sleighe. I have added this word from the MS. Lausdowne, as 
the line seems imperfect williout it. 


Wher as thay doon her tliiuges, as hem leste, 
And whan tlaay seigh her tyme thay goon to reste. 
Soone after that this hasty Januarie 
Wold go to hed, he wold no longer tarie. ^^80 

He drinldth ypocras, clarre, and vemage 
Of spices hote, to encrese his corrage : 
And many a letuary had he ful fyn, 
Such as the cursed monk dauu Constantin 
Hath writen in his liook de Coitii ; 
To ete hem alle he wold no thing eschieu : 
And to his prive frendes thus sayd he : 
" For Groddes love, as soone as it may he, ^690 

Let voyden al this hous in curteys wise." 
And thay han doon right as he wold devyse. 
Men drinken, and the travers drawe anoon ; 
The bmyd was brought abedde as stille as stoon ; 
And whan the bed was with the prest y-blessid, 
Out of the chambre hath every wight him dressed, 
And January hath fast in armes take 
His freisshe May, his paradys, his make. 

9681 — vemage. " Vernaecia, Ital. ' Credo sic dictum (says Skinner) 
quasi Veronaccia, ab agro Veronensi, in quo optimum rx hoc geiiere vinum 
crescit.' But the Vemage, 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. De I'isle de Cande il leur venoit tresbonnes malvoisies 
et grenaches (r. gernaches) dont ils estoient largement servis ct confortez. 
Our author in another place, ver. 13000, 1. joins together the wines of 
Malvesie and Vemage. Malvasia was a town upon tlie eastern coast of 
the Morca, near the site of the ancient Epidaurus Limera, witliin a small 
distance from Crete." — Tyrwhili. 

9084 — Comianlin. This medical writer lived about the year 1080, 
according to V aXmciwi, Bihl. M(d. JEl. His works, including the treatise 
mentioiunl in the text, were jinnled at Jtasil, fol. 153fi. 

0(i80 — /('()/'/. The MS. llarl. reads was, which seems not to furnish 
so good a grammatical couslrnction 


He lullith liir, he kissith hir ful ofte ; 
With thikke bristlis on his herd iinsofte, 
Lik to the skyn of houndfisch, scharp as brere, 
(For he was schave al newe in his manere) ^^oo 

He rubbith hir about hir tendre face, 
And sayde thus : " Alias ! I mot trespace 
To yow, my spouse, and yow gretly offende, 
Or tyme come that I wol doun descende, 
But natheles considerith this," quod he, 
" Ther nys no werkman, whatsoever he be, 
That may bothe werke wel and hastily : 
This wol be doon at leysir parfitly. 
It is no fors how longe that we pleye ; 
In trewe wedlok coupled be we tweye ; ^'^^^ 

And blessed be the yok that we ben inne. 

For in our actes we mow do no synne. 

A man may do no sjTine with his ^vif, 

Ne hurt himselven with liis oughne knyf : 

For we han leve to play us by the lawe." 
Thus laborith he, til that the day gan dawe, 

And than he taldth a sop in fyn clarre, 

And upright in his bed than sittith he. 

And after that he song ful lowd and clere. 

And kissed his wyf, and made wantoun cheere. ''^^o 

He was al coltissch, ful of ragerye. 

And ful of jargoun, as a flekked pye. 

The slakke skin about his nekke schakith. 

9723 — schakeih. I have adopted this reading from the Lansd. MS., 
as being preferable to that of the MS. Harl. slaketh, which is a repeti- 
tion of the idtii conveved by tlie previous word dakkc, and seems to 
create a redundancy in the meaning. 


Wliil that he song, so chaunteth he and craketh. 

But God wot what that May thought m hir hert, 

AVlian sche him saugh up sittjmg in his schert. 

In his night-cappe, and with his nekke lene : 

Sche praysith nought his pleying worth a bene. 

Than sayd he thus : " My reste wol I take 

Now day is come, I may no lenger wake." ^'^^ 

And doun he layd his heed and sleep til prime. 

And afterward, whan that he saugh his tyme, 

Up riseth January, but freissche May 

Holdith hir chamber unto the fourthe day, 

As usage is of wyves for the best. 

For every labour som tyme moot have rest, 

Or elles longe may he not endure ; 

This is to say, no lyves creature, 

Be it of fissch, or brid, or best, or man. 

Now wol I speke of woful Damyan, 9740 

That languyssheth for love, as ye schuln here ; 
Therfore I speke to him in this manere. 
I say, " sely Damyan, alias ! 
Answere to my demaunde, as in this caas. 
How schaltow to thy lady, freissche May, 
Telle thy woo ? Sche wol alway say nay ; 
Eek if thou speke, sche wol thy woo bywreye ; 
God be thy help, I can no better seye." 

This seke Damyan in Venus fuyr 
So brennith, that lie deyeth for desir ; 9750 

For which he put liis lyf in aventure. 

9741 — languyssheth. The Lansd. MS. Tcais longurilh, i.e. falls into 


No lenger might he in this wo endure, 
But prively a penner gan he borwe, 
And in a letter wrot he al his sorwe, 
In maiier of a compleynt or of a lay, 
Unto his fairs freissche lady May. 
And in a purs of silk, heng on his schert, 
He hath it put, and layd it at his hert. 

The moone that a-noon was thilke day 
That January hath weddid freische May '^''eo 

In tuo of Taure, was into Cancre gliden ; 
So long hath Mayus in hir chambre abiden. 

9753 — a penner. The penner was a case containing the pens, ink, and 
other apparatus of writing, which tlie clerk carried about witli him, as the 
Eastern students do at the present day The accompanying cut represents 
a penner belonging to the weak monarch Henry VI, and left beliind him 
at Waddington Hall, in Yorkshire, in his flight after the battle of Towton. 

As such articles belonged only to clergy and scholars, we understand 
why the " squire" Damyan was obliged to borrow one for his use. An 
early vocabulary entitled " Nominale" mentions, among the nomina rerum 
pertinentium clerico, " pennare, a pener". 

9755 — compleynt. . . lay. These were the technical names of two iorms 
of metrical composition. 

9761 — In txio of Taure. Tyrwhitt alters this reading (which is that 
of nearly all the MSS.) into ten, and observes : — " The greatest number 
of MSS. read, two, tuo, too, or to. But the time given (foiire dayes com- 
plete, 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 
r='13o 10'. 35". her motion in 4 days is =^ 1^ 22°. 42'. or not quite 53 
degrees ; so that supposing her to set out from tho 2d of Taurus, she 
would not, in that time, be advanced beyond the 25th degree of Gemini. 
If she set out from the lOth degree of Taurus, as I have corrected the 
text, she might properly enough be said, in four days, to be gliden into 
Cancer." — Tyrwhitt. 


As custom is unto these nobles alio. 

A bryde schal not eten in the halle, 

Til dayes foure or thre dayes atte lest 

I-passed ben, than let hir go to the fest. 

The fourthe day complet fro noon to noon, 

Whan that the heighe masse was i-doon, 

In halle sitte this January and May, 

As freissch as is the brighte someres day. ^'''^ 

And so bifelle, that this goode man 

Remembrid him upon this Damyan, 

And sayde, " Seinte Mary ! how may this be, 

That Damyan entendith not to me ? 

Is he ay seek ? or how may this bityde ?"' 

His squiers, which that stoode ther bisyde, 

Excusid him, bycause of his syknesse, 

Which letted him to doon his busynesse : 

Noon other cause mighte make him tarie. 
' That me for-thinketh," quod this Januarie ; '^'SO 

' He is a gentil squyer, by my trouthe, 

If that he deyde, it were harm and routhe. 

He is as wys, discret, and eek secre. 

As any man I wot of his degre, 

And therto manerly and servysable. 

And for to be a thrifty man right able. 

But after mete, as soon as ever I may 

I wol myself visit him, and eek May, 

To doon him al the confort that I can." 

And for that word him blessed every man, 9790 

That of his bounte and his gentilesse 

He wolde so comfort in soekenesse 


His squyer, for it was a gentil deede. 

" Dame," quod this January, "tak good heede. 
At after mete, ye with your wommen alle, 
(Whan ye han ben in chambre out of this halle) 
That alle ye goo to se this Damyan : 
Doth him desport, he is a gentil man. 
And tellith him that I wil him visite. 
Have I no thing but rested me a lyte : ^^00 

And spedith yow faste, for I wol abyde 
Til that ye slope faste by my syde." 
And with that word he gan unto him calle 
A squier, that was marchal of his halle. 
And told him certeyn thinges that he wolde. 

This freisshe May hath streight hir wey i-holde 
With alle hir wommen unto Damyan. 
Doun by his beddes syde sat sche than, 
Comfort}Tig him as goodly as sche may. 

This Damyan, whan that his tyme he say, ^810 
In secre wise, his purs, and eek his bille, 
In which that he i-writen had his wille, 
Hath put into hir bond withouten more. 
Save that he siketh wonder deepe and sore. 
And softely to hir right thus say he ; 

" Mercy, and that ye not discover me : 
For I am deed, if that tliis thing be kidde." 

9817 — be kifJde. The Harl. MS. reads here and in the following 
line, — 

if that this thing discovered be, 

This purs in hir bosom hud hath sche. 
But I prefer the reading here adopted from the Lansd MS., on account 
of the repetition of rhymes in the other reading. 


This purs hath sche inwith hir bosom hud, 

And went hir way ; ye gete uo more of me ; 

But unto January comen is sche, 9820 

That on his beddes syde sit ful softe. 

He takith hir, and kissith hir ful ofte : 

And layd him doim to slope, and that anoon. 

Sche feyned hir as that sche moste goon 

Ther as ye woot that every wight moot neede ; 

And whan sche of this bille hath taken heede, 

Sche rent it al to cloutes atte laste, 

And into the privy softely it cast. 

Who studieth now but faire freissche May ? 
Adoun by olde January sche lay, ^^^^ 

That slepith, til that the coughe hath him awaked : 
Anoon he prayde stripen hir al naked. 
He wold of hir, he sayd, have some plesaunce ; 
Hir clothis dede liim, he sayde, som grevaunce. 
And sche obeieth, be hir lief or loth. 
But lest that precious folk be with me wroth, 
How that he wroughte I dar not telle, 
Or whethir it semed him paradys or helle ; 
But here I lete hem werken in her wise 
Til evensong rong, and than thay most arise. ^^lo 

Whethir it be by desteny or adventure. 
Were it by influence, or by nature. 
Or by constellacioun, that in such estate 
The heven stood that tymc fortunate. 
As for to putte a bille of Venus werkis 
(For alle thing hath tymc, as scyn tliese clevkis) 
To eny woumiau for to gcte hir love, 



I can not say, but grete God above, 
That knowith that noon acte is causeles, 
He deme of al, for I wil holde my pees. ^850 

But soth is this, how that this freisshe May 
Hath take such impressioun that day, 
Of pite on this sike Damyan, 
That from hir herte sche ne dryve can 
The remembrauuce for to doon him ease. 
" Certeyn," thought sche, "whom that this thing displease 
I rekke not, for her I him assure. 
To love him best of eny creature, 
Though he no more hadde than his scherte." 
Lo, pite renneth soone in gentil herte. ^860 

Heer may ye see, how excellent fraunchise 
In womman is whan thay narow hem avyse. 
Som tyraunt is, as ther ben many oon, 
That hath an hert as hard as is a stoon. 
Which wold han lete sterven in the place 
Wei rather than han graunted him her grace : 
And hem rejoysen in her cruel pride. 
And rekken nought to ben an homicide. 

This gentil May, fulfillid of pite. 
Right of hir bond a letter maked sche, 9870 

In which sche grauntith liim hir verray grace ; 
Ther lakkid nought but oonly day and place, 
Wher that sche might unto liis lust suffise : 
For it schal be, right as he wol devyse. 
And whan sche saugh hir tyme upon a day 
To visite this Damyan goth May, 
And subtilly this lettre doun sche thruste 


Under his pylow, rede it if him luste. 
Sche takith him bj the hond, and hard him twiste 
So secrely, that no wight of it wiste, ^^80 

And bad him be al hool, and forth sche wente 
To January, whan that he for hir sente. 
Up ryseth Damyan the nexte morwe, 
Al passed was his silmes and his sorwe. 
He kembith him, he pruneth him and pyketh, 
He doth al that unto his lady Hkith ; 
And eek to Januaiy he goth as lowe 
As ever did a dogge for the bowe. 
He is so plesaunt unto every man, 
(For craft is al, who so that do it can) ^890 

That every wight is fayn to speke him good ; 
And fully in his ladys grace he stood. 
Thus lete I Damyan about his neede, 
And in my tale forth I wol precede. 
Some clerkes holden that felicite 
Stant in delit, and therfor certeyn he 
This noble January, with al his might 
In honest wise as longith to a knight, 
Schop him to lyve ful deliciously. 
His housyng, his array, as honestly ^900 

To his degre was maked as a kyngcs. 
Amonges other of his honest thinges 
He had a gardyn walled al with stoon. 
So fair a gardyn wot I no whcr noon. 
For out of doute I verrely suppose, 

9888 — a dogge for the bowe. A dog used in shooting. C'onf. 1. C951. 

1 1> 


That he that \vroot the Romauns of the Rose, 

Ne couthe of it the beaute wel devyse : 

Ne Priapus ne might not wel suffice, 

Though he be god of gardyns, for to telle 

The beaute of the gardyn, and the welle, ^^10 

That stood under a laurer alway greene. 

Ful ofte tyme he Pluto and his queene 

Preserpina, and al the fayerie, 

Desporten hem and maken melodye 

Aboute that welle, and daunced, as men tolde. 

This noble knight, this January the olde. 

Such deynte hath in it to walk and pleye, 

That he wold no wight suffre here the keye, 

Save he himself, for of the smale wyket 

He bar alway of silver a smal cliket, 9^20 

With which whan that him list he it unschette. 

And whan he wolde pay his wyf hir dette 

In somer sesoun, thider wold he go, 

And May his wyf, and no wight but tliay tuo ; 

And thinges which that weren not doon in bedde, 

He in the gardyn parformed hem and spedde. 

And in this wise many a mery day 

Lyved this January and freische May ; 

But worldly joye may not alway endure 

To January, ne to no creatnre. ^930 

sodepi hap ! o thou fortune unstable ! 
Lyk to the scorpioun so desceyvable, 

9906 — Romauns of the Rose. The Romance of the Rose opens with 
the description of a magnificent garden, wiiicb was looked upon by sub- 
sequent writers as the highest perfection of such descriptions. 


That flaterest with thin heed whan thou wilt stynge; 

Thy tayl is deth, thurgh thin envenymynge. 

O britel joye ! o sweete venym .queynte ! 

O monster, that so subtily canst peynte 

Thyn giftes, iinder hew of stedfastnesse, 

That thou desceyvest bothe more and lesse I 

Why hastow January thus deceyved, 

That liaddist him for thy fulle frend receyved ? ^9 ^^ 

And now thou hast byreft him bothe his yen, 

For sorw of which desireth he to dyen. 

Alias ! this noble January fre, 

Amyd his lust and his prosperite 

Is woxe blynd, and that al sodeynly. 

He wepith and he weyleth pitously ; 

And therwithal, the fuyr of jalousye 

(Lest that his wif schuld falle in some folye) 

So brent his herte that he wolde fayn 

That som man bothe hir and him had slayn : 9950 

For neyther after his deth, nor in his lyf, 

Ne wold he that sche were love ne wyf, 

But ever lyve as wydow in clothes blake, 

Soul as the turtil that lost hath hir make. 

But atte last, after a moneth or tweye, 

His sorwe gan aswage, soth to seye. 

For whan he wist it may noon other be, 

He paciently took his adversite : 

Save out of doute he may not forgoon. 

That he nas jalous evermore in oon : ^^^^ 

"Which jalousie it was so outrageous. 

That neyther in halle, ne in noon other hous, 



Ne in noon other place never the mo 
He nolde suffre hir to ryde or go, 
But if that he had hond on hir alway. 
For which ful ofte wepeth freische May, 
That loveth Damyan so benignely, 
That sche moot outlier deyen sodeinly, 
Or elles sche moot han him as hir lest : 
She waytith whan hir herte wolde brest. 
Upon that other syde Damyan 
Bicomen is the sorwfulleste man 
That ever was, for neyther night ne day 
Ne might he speke a word to fressche May, 
As to his purpos, of no such matiere. 
But if that January most it heere. 
That had an hond upon hir evermo. 
But natheles, by writyng to and fro. 
And prive signes, wist he what sche ment. 
And sche knew eek the fyn of liis entent. 

O January, what might it thee availe, 
If thou might see as fer as schippes saile ? 
For as good is blynd deceyved be, 
As to be deceyved whan a man may see. 
Lo, Argus, which that had an hundred eyen, 
For al that ever he couthe poure or prien. 
Yet was he blent, as, God wot, so ben moo, 
That weneth wisly that it be nought so : 
Passe over is an ease, I say no more. 
This freissche May, that I spak of so yoi-e, ^'-'so 

In warm wex hath emprynted the cliket, 
That January bar of the smale mket,' 



By which into his gardyn ofte he went ; 
And Damyan that knew al hir entent 
The chket counterfeted prively ; 
Ther nys no more to say, hut hastily 
Som wonder by this chket schal betyde, 
Which ye schal heeren, if ye wol abyde. 

O noble Ovyde, wel soth saistow, God woot, 
Wliat sleight is it though it be long and hoot, loooo 
That he nyl fynd it out in some manere ? 
By Ph'amus and Thesbe may men leere ; 
Though thay were kept ful longe streyt over al, 
Thay ben accorded, rownyng thurgh a wal, 
Ther no wight couthe ban found out swich a sleight. 
For now to purpos ; er that dayes eyght 
Were passed of the moneth of Juyl, bifille 
That Januaiy hath caught so gret a wille, 
Thorugh eggyng of his wyf, him for to pleye 
In his gardyn, and no wight but they tweye, ^ooio 
That in a morwe unto this May saith he ; 
" Rys uj), my wif, my love, my lady fre ; 
The turtlis vois is herd, my douve swete ; 
The wynter is goon, with his raynes wete. 
Come forth now with thin eyghen columbine. 
How fairer ben thy brestes than is the wyne. 
The gardyn is enclosed al aboute ; 
Com forth, my swete spouse, out of doute, 
Thow hast me wounded in myn hert, o wyf : 
No spot in the knew I in al my lif. 10020 

10000 — though it. Tyrwhitt reads if love, against the authority of the 
best MSS. 


Com forth, and let us take oure desport, 
I dies the for my wyf and my comfort." 
Such olde lewed wordes used he. 
On Damyan a signe made sche, 
That he schuld go Lifom with his cliket. 
This Damyan than hath opened the wiket, 
And in he stert, and that in such manere, 
That no -wight it mighte see nor heere, 
And stille he seet under a Lussch. Anoon 
This January, as hlpid as is a stoon, 10030 

With Mayus in his hond, and no wight mo, 
Into this freische gardyn is ago. 
And clappid to the wiket sodeiuly. 
" Now, wyf," quod he, " her nys but ye and I, 
Thou art the creature that I best love : 
For by that lord that sit in heven above, 
Lever ich had to dyen on a liuyf, 
Than the offende, deere trewe wyf. 
For Goddes sake, thenk how I the chees, 
Nought for no coveytise douteles, 10040 

But oonly for the love I had to the. 
And though that I be old and may not se, 
Beeth trewe to me, and I wol telle yow why ; 
Thre thinges, certes, schul ye wynne therby ; 
First, love of Crist, and to your self honour, 
And al myn heritage, toun and tour. 
I give it yow, makith chartres as yow leste : 
This schal ben doon to morw er Sonne reste, 
So wisly God my soule briuge to blisse ! 
I pray yow first in coveuaunt ye me kisse. 10050 


And thougli that I be jalous, wyt me nought ; 
Ye ben so deep emprinted in my thought, 
That whan that I considre your beaute, 
And thenvithal the unlikly eekle of me, 
I may nought, certes, though I schulde dye, 
Forbere to ben out of your companye 
For verray love ; this is withouten doute : 
Now kisse me, wyf, and let us rome aboute." 
This freissche May, whan sche his wordes herde, 
Benignely to January answerde, 10060 

But first and forward sche bigan to wepe : 
*' I have," quod sche, " a soule for to kepe 
As wel as ye, and also myn honour, 
And of my wifhod thilke teudre flour. 
Which that I have ensured in your bond. 
Whan that the prest to yow my body bond : 
'V\Tierfor I wil answer in this manere. 
With the leve of yow, myn owen lord so deere. 
I pray to God that never dawe the day. 
That I ne sterve, as foule as womman may, 10070 
If ever I do unto my kyn that schame. 
Or elles I empaire so my name. 
That I be fals ; and if I do tliat lak. 
Doth strepe me, and put me in a sak. 
And in the nexte lyver do me drenche : 
I am a geutil womman, and no wenche. 
Wliy speke ye thus ? but men ben ever untrewe, 
And wommen han reproof of yow ever newe. 
Ye have noon other contenaunce, I leve. 
But speke to us as of luitrust and repreve." 10080 


And with that word sche saugh wher Damyan 

Sat in the buissh, and coughen sche bigan ; 

And with hir fyngres signes made sche, 

That Damyan schuld clymb upon a tre, 

That charged was with fruyt, and up he went : 

For verrayly he knew al hir entent, 

And every signe that sche couthe make, 

Wei bet than January hir oughne make. 

For in a letter sche had told him al 

Of this matier, how he worche schal. 10090 

And thus I lete him sitte in the pirie, 

And January and May romynge mirye. 

Bright was the day, and bliew the firmament ; 
Phebus hath of gold his stremes doun i-sent 
To gladen every flour with his warmnesse ; 
He was that tyme in Gemines, as I gesse, 
But litel fro his declinacioun 
Of Canker, Joves exaltacioun. 
And so bifel that brighte morwen tyde, 
That in that gardyn, in the ferther syde, loioo 

Pluto, that is the kyng of fayerye, 
And many a lady in his compaignie 
Folwyng his wif, the queene Preseqiina, 
Whiche that he ravesched out of Ethna, 
Whil that sche gadred floures in the mede, 
(In Claudian ye may the stoiy rede. 
How in his grisly carte he hir fette) 

10103 — Preserpina. The Harl. MS. reads, by some error of the scribe, — 
.... Preserpine, 
Eeb after otlier as right as a lyne. 


This Idng of fayry than adoun him sette 
Upon a bench of turves freissh and greene, 
And right anoon thus sayd he to his queene : i(^iiO 
" My ^vyf," quod he, " ther may no wight say nay, 
Thexperiens so preveth every day, 
The tresoun which that womman doth to man. 
Ten hundrid thousand stories tellen I can 
Notable of your untrouth and brutehiesse. 
O Salamon, wys and richest of richesse, 
Fulfikl of sapiens, and of worldly glorie, 
Ful worthy ben thy wordes to memorie 
To every wight, that wit and resoun can. 
Thus praysith he yit the bounte of man ; 10120 

Among a thousand men yit fond I oon. 
But of alle wommen found I never noon. 
Thus saitli the king, that knoweth your wikkednesse ; 
That Jhesus, Jilius Sirac, as I gesse, 
Ne speldth of yow but selde reverence. 
A wild fuyr and corrupt pestilence 
So falle upon your bodies yit to night : 
Ne see ye not this honurable Imight ? 
Bycause, alias ! that he is blynd and old. 
His owne man schal make him cokewold. 10130 

Loo, wher he sitt, the lecchour, in the tre. 
Now Avol I graunten, of my majeste. 
Unto this olde blinde worthy knight, 
That he schal have agein his eyghen sight, 
Whan that his wyf wol do him vilonye ; 
Than schal he knowe al her harlotrye, 

10121. Amo7ig a thousand. See Eccltsiasies, vii, 28. 


Bothe in reproef of her and other mo." 
" Ye schal !" quod Preserpine, " and wol ye so ? 
Now by my modres Ceres soule I swere, 
That I schal give hir suffisaunt answere, lOUii 

And alls wommen after for hir sake ; 
That though thay be in any gult i-take, 
With face bold thay schul liemself excuse, 
And here hem doun that wolde hem accuse. 
For lak of answer, noon of hem schal dyen. 
Al had ye seyn a thing with bothe your yen, 
Yit schul we wymmen visage it hardily. 
And wepe and swere and chide subtilly, 
That ye schul ben as lewed as ben gees. 
What rekkith me of your auctoritees ? 10150 

I wot wel that this Jew, this Salamon, 
Fond of us wommen fooles many oon : 
But though he ne fond no good womman, 
Yit hath ther founde many another man 
Wommen ful trewe, ful good, and vertuous ; 
Witnesse on hem that dwelle in Cristes hous, 
With martirdom thay proved hir constaunce. 
The Romayn gestes eek make remembraimce 
Of many a verray trewe wyf also. 
But, sire, be nought wrath, al be it so, 10160 

10130— Ctres. The Harl. MS. reads Sires ; the Lansd. Sire. Ceres 
is of course the word intended. 

10146— The Harl. MS. reads this Hne, — 

Al had a man seyn a thing -nith hothe his yen. 

101.58 — The Bomain gestes. Tyrwhitt says that the allusion is to the 
popular book known as the Gcsta Romanorum. I am inclined, however, 
to think it more probable that the poet had in his eye the examples of 
Lucretia, Portia, and other ladies celebrated in Roman history. 


Though that he sayd he fond no good womman, 

I pray yow tak the sentens of the man : 

He mente thus, that in sovereign hounte 

Nis noon but God, that sit in Trinite. 

Ey, for verrey God that nys hut oon, 

What make ye so moche of Salamon ? 

What though he made a temple, Goddes hous ? 

What though he were riche and glorious ? 

So made he eek a temple of fals godis. 

How might he do a thing that more forbod is ? lOl^o 

Parde, als fair as ye his name emplastre, 

He was a lecchour and an ydolastre, 

And in his eelde he verray God forsook; 

And if that God ne hadde (as saith the book) 

I-spared him for his fadres sake, he scholde 

Have lost liis regne rather than he wolde. 

I sette right nought of the vilonye, 

That je of wommen write, a boterflie ; 

I am a womman, needes most I speke, 

Or elles swelle tyl myn herte broke. 10180 

For syn he sayd that we ben jangleresses. 

As ever hool I moote brouke my tresses, 

I schal not spare for no curtesye 

To speke him harm, that wold us ^dlonye." 

" Dame," quod this Pluto, " be no lenger wroth, 
I give it up : but sith I swore myn oth. 
That I wil graunte him his sight agein, 
My word schal stonde, I wame yow certeyn : 
I am a kyng, it sit me nought to lye." 

" And I," quod sche, " am queen of faierie. lOl^'O 


Hir answer schal sche have, I undertake ; 

Let us no mo wordes herof make. 

Forsotli I wol no lenger yow contrarie." 
Now let us turne agayn to Januarye, 

That in this gardyn with this faire May 

Syngeth, ful merier than the papinjay, 
" Yow love I best, and schal, and other noon." 

So long about the aleys is he goon. 

Til he was come agaynes thilke pirie, 

Wher as this Damyan sittith ful mirye ^0200 

On heigh, among the freische levyes greene. 

This freissche May, that is so bright and scheene, 

Gan for to syke, and sayd, " Alias my syde ! 

Now, sir," quod sche, "for aught that may bityde, 

I most han of the peres that I see. 

Or I moot dye, so sore longith me 

To eten of the smale peris greene : 

Help for hir love that is of heven queene ! 

I telle yow wel a womman in my plyt 

May have to fniyt so gret an appetyt, lo^io 

That sche may deyen, but sche it have." 
" Alias !" quod he, " that I nad heer a knave 

That couthe climbe, alias! alias!" quod he, 
'■'■ For I am blynd." " Ye, sire, no fors," quod sche ; 
" But wolde ye vouchesauf, for Goddes sake, 

The piry inwith your armes for to take, 

(For wel I woot that ye mystruste me) 

Than schold I clymbe wel y-nough," quod sche, 
" So I my foot might set upon your bak." 
" Certes," quod he, " theron schal be no lak, ^0^20 


Might I yow helpe with myn herte blood." 

He stoupith doun, and on his bak sche stood, 

And caught hir by a twist, and up sche goth. 

(Ladys, I pray yow that ye be not wruth, 

I can not glose, I am a rude man :) 

And sodeinly anoon this Damyan 

Gan pullen up the smok, and in he throng. 

And whan that Pluto saugh this grete wrong, 
To Januaiy he gaf agayn his sight, 
[And made him see as wel as ever he might. 10230 
And whan he thus had caught bis sight again,] 
Ne was ther never man of thing so fayn : 
But on his wyf his thought was evermo. 
Up to the tree he kest his eyghen tuo, 
And seigh that Damyan his wyf had dressid 
In which maner it may not ben expressid, 
But if I wolde speke uncurteisly. 
And up he gaf a roryng and a cry. 
As doth the moder whan the child schal dye ; 
" Out! help ! alias ! harrow !" he gan to crie ; 10210 
" stronge lady stoure, what dos thow?" 

And sche answerith : " Sire, what eylith yow? 
Have paciens and resoun in your mjnide, 
I have yow holpen on bothe yoiu- eyen bljmde. 

10227 — 111 some late MSS., and in the printed editions, several lines 
of obscene ribaldrj' are added here and in the subsequent parts of the 
tale; but, as they are not found in MSS. of any authority, Tyrwhitt very 
properly omitted them. It may be observed that there are several other 
variations in parts of this tale in some MSS., which it has not been thought 
necessary to point out 

10230 — This and the following line, given here from Tyrwhitt, arc not 
found iu the Harl MS. 


Up peril of my soule, I schal not lyen, 

As me was taught to hele with yoiir yen, 

Was nothing bet for to make yow see, 

Than stroggle with a man upon a tree : 

God woot, I decle it in ful good entent." 
" Stroggle !" quod he, "ye, algat in it went. 10250 

God give yow bothe on schames deth to dyen ! 

He swyved the ; I saugh it with myn yen ; 

And elles be I honged by the hals." 
" Than is," quod sche, " my medicine fals. 

For certeynly, if that ye mighten see. 

Ye wold not say tho wordes unto me. 

Ye han som glymsyng, and no parfyt sight." 
" I se," quod he, "as wel as ever I might, 

(Thankid be God) with bothe myn yen tuo, 

And by my trouth me thought he did the so." 10260 
" Ye, mase, mase, goode sir," quod sche ; 
" This thank have I for I have maad yow see : 

Alias !" quod sche, "that ever I was so kynde." 
" Now, dame," quod he, " let al passe out of mynde : 

Com doun, my leef, and if I have myssayd, 

God help me so, as I am evel appayd. 

But by my faders soule, I wende have seyn, 

How that this Damyan had by the leyn. 

And that thy smok had layn upon thy brest." 
" Ye, sire," quod sche, " ye may wene as yow lest : 10270 

But, sire, a man that waldth out of his slep. 

He may not sodeynly wel take keep 

Upon a thing, ne seen it parfytly, 

Til that he be adawed verrayly. 


Right SO a man, that long hath blynd i-be. 

He may not sodeynly so wel i-se, 

First whan the sight is newe comen agajTi, 

As he that hath a day or tuo i-sayn. 

Til that your sight y-stablid be a while, 

Ther may ful many a sighte yow bigile. 1028O 

Beth war, I pray yow, for, by heven king, 

Ful many man wenith for to se a thing, 

And it is al another than it semeth : 

He that mysconcep^eth he mysdemeth." 

And with that word sche leep doun fro the tre. 
This January who is glad but he ? 
He kissith hir, and clippith hir ful ofte, 
And on hir wombe he strokith hir ful softe ; 
And to his paleys hom lie hath hir lad. 
Now, goode men, I pray yow to be glad. '•^-^^ 

Thus endith her my tale of Januarye, 
God blesse us, and his moder scinte Marie ! 


" Ey ! Goddes mercy !" sayd our Hoste tho, 
" Now such a wyf I pray God keep me fro. 
Lo, whiche sleightes and subtilitees 
In wommen ben ; for ay as busy as bees 
Ben thay us seely men for to desceyve, 
And from a soth ever wol thay weyve. 
By this Marchaundes tale it proveth wel. 
But douteles, as trewe as eny steel lo^oo 

T have a wyf, thougli tliat s(^lie pore be ; 


But of hir tonge a labbyng sclirewe is sclie ; 
And yit sche hath an heep of vices mo. 
Therof no fors ; let alle such thinges go. 
But wte ye what? in coonseil be it seyd, 
Me rewith sore I am unto hir teyd ; 
And if I scholde reken every vice, 
Which that sche hath, i-wis I were to nyce ; 
And cause why, it schuld reported be 
And told to hir of som of this meyne, ^^^^^ 

(Of whom it needith not for to declare, 
Syn wommen connen oute such chaffare) ; 
And eek my witte suffisith nought therto 
. To tellen al ; wherfor my tale is do. 

"Sir Squier, com forth, if that your -wille be. 
And say us a tale of love, for certes ye 
Connen theron as moche as ony man." 

" Nay, sire," quod he ; " but I wil say as I can 
With herty wil, for I wil not rebelle 
Against your wille ; a tale wil I telle, 10.120 

Have me excused if that I speke amys ; 
My wil is good ; and thereto my tale is this." 


At Sarray, in the lond of Tartary, 

Ther dwelled a kyng that wenyed Russy, 

10316 — of love. These two words are omitted in MS. Harl.,but they 
seem necessary for the sense and metre. 

The Sqmjcres Tale. It is unltnowii at present from what source Chaucer 
derived this Tale, which is not found (as for as I am aware) in any other 
lorm in the literature of the Middle Ages. It is to be regretted that 


Thurgh which ther cleyed many a doughty man : 

This nobil kyng was cleped Cambynskan, 

Which in his tyme was of so gret renoun, 

That ther nas nowher in no regioun 

So excellent a lord in alle thing : 

Him lakked nought that longed to a kyng, • ^^^^ 

As of the secte of which that he was bom. 

He kept his lawe to which he was sworn, 

And therto he was hardy, wys, and riche. 

And pitous and just, and alway y-liche, 

Soth of his word, benign and honurable ; 

Of his corage as eny centre stable ; 

Yong, freisch, and strong, in armes desirous. 

As eny bachiler of al his hous. 

A fair person he was, and fortunat, 

And kepte so wel his real astat, 10340 

That ther was nowher such a rs'^al man. 

This noble kyng, this Tartre, this Cambynskan, 

Hadde tuo sones by Eltheta his wyf. 

Chaucer left it unfinished. It may be observed that throughout the tale 
the name of the Tartar king is Cambynskan, in the MS. Harl as well as 
in the Lansdowne and other MSS. It is almost with regret that we give 
up the form of the name rendered classic by Milton, — 

Or call up him that left half told 
The story of Cambuscan bohl. 
Of Camball, and of Algarsife, 
And who liad Canacc to wife, 
That own'd the virtuous ring of glas; 
And of the wond'rous horse of bras 
On which the 'I'artar king did ride. 

fll Penseroso.J 

10324 — Rhsxij. Thp Tartars and Russians were constantly engaged 
in hostilities with each other from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries 



Of which the eldest highte Algarsyf, 

That other was i-cleped Camballo. 

A doughter had this worthi king also, 

That yougest was, and highte Canace : 

But for to telle yow al hir heaute. 

It lith not on my tonge, ne my connyng, 

I dar nought undertake so heigh a thing: 10350 

Myn Englissh eek is insufficient, 

It moste be a rethor excellent 

That couth his colours longyng for that art, 

If he schold hir discryve in eny part : 

I am non such, I mot speke as I can. 

And so bifel it, that this Cambynskan 
Hath twenty wynter bom his dyademe : 
As he was wont fro yer to yer, I deme, 
He leet the fest of his nativite 

Don cryen, thurghout Sarray his cite, Josco 

The last Idus of March, after the yeer. 
Phebus the sonne was joly and clear, 
For he was neigh his exaltacioun 
In Marces face, and in his mansioun 
In Aries, the colerik, the hote signe : 
Ful lusty was the wedir and benigne. 
For which the foules agein the sonne scheene, 
What for the sesoun and for the yonge greene, 
Ful lowde song in here affecciouns : 
Hem semed have geten hem protecciouns 10370 

10341 — Algarsyf, The Harl MS. leails Algaryf, and in the next line 
Samhallo for Camballo, which are probably mere errors of the scribe. 


Ageus the swerd of wynter kene and cold. 

This Cambynskan, of which I have tokl, 

In royal vesture, sittyng on his deys 

With dyadem, ful heigh in his paleys ; 

And held his fest solempue and so riche, 

That in tliis wo ride was there noon it liche. 

Of which if I schal tellen al tharray, 

Than wold it occupie a someres day ; 

And eek it needith nought for to devyse 

At every cours the ordre and the servyse. loaso 

I wol nat tellen of her straunge sewes, 

Ne of her swanues, ne here heroun-sewes. 

Ek in that lond, as tellen knightes olde, 

Ther is som mete that is ful deynte holde, 

That in this lond men recch of it but smal : 

Ther is no man it may reporten al. 

I wol not tarien you, for it is pryme. 

And for it is no fruyt, but los of tyme, * 

Unto my purpos I wol have my recours. 

That so bifelle after the thridde cours, i^s^o 

Whil that this kyug sit thus in his nobleye, 

Herkyiig his mynstrales her tliinges pleye 

Byfome him atte boord deliciously, 

In atte halle dore al sodeynly 

Ther com a knight upon a steed of bras. 

10382 — sivannes. .heroiin-scwcs. It is hardly necessary to observe that 
sivanx were formerly eaten at tabic, and considered among the choicest 
ornaments of the festive board. Tyrwhitt hiformcd us that at the inthro- 
nization of archbp. Nevil, G Edward IV, there were " heronsliaweam.c." 
[Lcland, Collect, vol. vi, 2), and that at anotlier feast in 1530, we read of 
" \Ct hearniist wx, every one 12(/." (/Vc/c'.s ])cs. Ctir. vol. ii, 12.) 


And in his bond a brod myrour of glas ; 

Upon his thomb he bad of gold a ryng, 

And by his side a naked swerd hangyng : 

And up he rideth to the heyghe bord. 

In al the halle ne was ther spoke a word, lOloo 

For mervayl of this knight ; him to byhoblo 

Fill besily they wayten yong and olde. 

This strauuge knight that cam thus sodeynly, 
Al armed sauf his heed ful richely, 
Salued the kyng and queen, and lordes alle 
By ordre, as they seten into halle, 
With so heigh reverens and observaunce, 
As wel in speche as in contynaunce, 
That Gaweyn \vith his olde eurtesye, 
They he were come agein out of fayrye, lo-iio 

Ne coiithe him nought amende \nth no word. 
And after tlais, bifom the highe bord 
He with a manly vols sayd this message, 
After the forme used in his langage, 
Withouten vice of sillabil or letter. 
And for his tale schulde seme the better, 
Accordaunt to his wordes was his cheere. 
As techeth art of speche hem that it leere. 
Al be it that I can nat sowne his style, 
Ne can nat clymben over so heigh a style, 10420 

Yit say I this, as to comun entent. 
Thus moche amounteth al that ever he ment. 
If it so be that I have it in mynde. 

10409 — Gaweyn. The Harl. MS. reads Ewen. Gaweyn was cele- 
brated in medieval romance as the most courteous of Arthur's knights. 


He sayd: " The kyiig of Airaby and oi" Yude, 
My liege lord, on this solempne day 
Saluteth you as he best can or may, 
And sendeth you, in honour of your feste, 
By me, that am redy at al his heste, 
This steede of bras, that esily and wel 
Can in the sj)ace of o day naturel, 10130 

(This is to say, in four and twenty houres) 
Wher so yow lust, in droughthe or in schoures, 
Beren your body into every place. 
To which your heite wilneth for to pace, 
Withouten wem of you, thurgh foul and fair. 
Or if you lust to flee as heigh in thair. 
As doth an egle, whan him list to sore, 
This same steede schal here you evermore 
Withoute harm, til ye be ther yow leste, * 
(Though that ye slepen on his bak or reste), 10 1'^*^ 
And tome agein, with wrytliing of a pyn. 
He that it wrought, he cowthe many a gyn ; 
He wa}i:ed many a constellacioun, 
Er he had do this operacioun. 
And knew ful many a seal and many a bond. 

" This mirour eek, that I have in myn bond, 
Hath such a mighte, that men may in it see 
When ther schal falle eny adversite 

10415 — seal. The making and arrangement of seals was one of tlie 
iniporlant operations of medieval magic, and treatises dn this suhject are 
found in jnauuscripts One of these was believed to have been compiU d 
by the children of Israel in the Desert. A copy of tliis is found in IMS. 
Arundel, No. 295, fid. 205, wliich commences with the statement — In 
nomine Domini. Incipit liber ])reciosus ct secretus sigillorum queni 
fecerunt tilii Israel in deserto secundum mutus et cursus siderum, etc. 


Unto your regne, or to your self also, 

And openly, who is your frend or fo. 10450 

And over al this, if eny lady bright 

Hath set liir hert on eny maner Aviglit, 

If he be fals, sche schal his tresoun see. 

His newe love, and his subtilite. 

So openly, that ther schal nothing hyde. 

Wherfor ageins this lusty somer tyde 

This mirour and this ryng, that ye may see. 

He hath send to my lady Canacee, 

Your excellente doughter that is heere. 

" The vertu of this ryng, if ye wol heere, 10460 
Is this, that who so lust it for to were 
Upon hir thomb, or in hir purs to here, 
Ther is no foul that tleetli under the heven, 
That sche ne schal understonden liis Steven, 
And know his menyng openly and pleyn, 
And answer him in his langage ageyn : 
And every gras that groweth upon roote 
Sche schal eek know, to whom it wol do boote, 
Al be his woundes never so deep and wyde. 

" This naked swerd, that haugeth by my syde, 10470 
Such vertu hath, that what man that it smyte, 
Thurghout his armur it wol kerve and byte, 
Were it as tliikke as a braunched ook : 
And what man is i-\vounded with the strook 
Schal never be hool, til that you lust of grace 
To strok him with, the plat in thilke j)lace 
Ther he is hurt ; this is as moche to seyn. 
Ye moote with the platte swerd agein 
Stroke liim in the wound, and it wol close. 


This is the verray soth withouten glose, 10480 

It failleth nought, whil it is in your hokl." 

And whan this knight thus had his tale tokl. 
He rit out of the lialle, and doun he light : 
His steede, wliich that schon as Sonne bright, 
Stant in the court as stille as any stoon. 
This knight is to his chambre lad anoon, 
And is unarmed, and to mete i-sett. 
This presentz ben ful richely i-fett, 
This is to sayn, the swerd and the myrrour. 
And bom anon mito the highe tour, 10490 

With certain officers ordeynd therfore ; 
And unto Canace the ryng is bore 
Solempnely, ther sche syt atte table ; 
But sikerly, withouten eny fable, 
The hors of bras, that may nat be remewed. 
It stant, as it were to the ground i-glewed ; 
Ther may no man out of the place it dryve 
For noon engyn of wyndas or polyve : 
And cause why, for they can nought the craft, 
And therfor in the place thei have it laft, 10500 

Til that the knight hath taught hem the manere 
To voyden him, as ye schul after heere. 

Greet was the pres that swarmed to and fro 
To gauren on this hors that stondeth so : 
For it so high was, and so brod and long. 
So wel proporcioned to be strong. 

10198 — ivijndas. The lliirl, MS. reads uyivlijnij. 
1 0.30-5 — /(/;/'«■ The ll.irl. MS. reads iry</. 


Right as it were a steed of Lumburdye : 
Therto so horsly, and so quyk of ye, 
As it a gentil Poyleys courser were : 
For certes, fro his tayl unto his eere 10510 

Nature ne art ne couthe him nought amende 
In no degre, as al the poepel wende. 
But evermore her moste wonder was, 
How that it couthe goon, and was of bras ; 
It was of fayry, as the poeple semed. 
Diverse peple diversly they demed ; 
As many hedes, as many wittes been. 
They murmured, as doth a swarm of been. 
And made skiles after her fantasies, 
Rehersyng of the olde poetries, 1^520 

And seyden it was i-like the Pagase, 
The hors that hadde ^vynges for to fie. 
Or elles it was the Grekisscli hors Synon, 
That broughte Troye to destruccioun, 
As men may in the olde gestes rede. 
" Myn hert," quod oon, "is evermore in drede, 
I trow som men of amies ben therinne, 

10509 — a gentil Poyleys courser " A horse of Apulia, which in old 
French was usually c.illed Poilk. The horses of that country were much 
esteemed. MS. Bod. James vi, 142. Kichard, Archbp. of Armagh, in the 
xivth century,saysinpraiseofour St. Thomas, 'quod nee mulusHispanise, 
nee dextrarius Apulia;, nee repedo -Ethiopia;, nee elcphantus Asiae, nee 
camehis Syria; hoc asino nostro Anglias aptior sive audenlior invenitur 
ad pra;lia.' He had before informed his audience, that Thomas, Anglice, 
idem est quod Thorn Asinus. There is a patent in Kymer, 2 E. II, 
De Dexlrariis in lAunhaxAiii emendis." — Tt/rwhitl. 

10521 — the Pagase. — i.e. Pegasus. In tlie margin of the Harl. MS. it 
is explained in Latin, i. equus pcgasetis. 

10523 — Synon. Sinon, according to Grecian story, was the maker of 
the wooden horse by means of which Troy was finally taken. 



That schapen hem this cite for to wyiine : 

It were good that such thing were kuowe." 

Another rowned to his felaw lowe, 10530 

And sayde : " It lyth, for it is rather lik 

An apparence maad by som magik, 

As jogelours pleyen at this festes grete." 

Of sondry thoughtes thus they jangle and trete, 

As lowed peple demeth comunly 

Of thinges that ben maad more subtily, 

Than they can in her lewedues comprehende, 

They deem en gladly to the badder ende. 

And som of hem wondred on the mirrour, 

That bom was up into the maister tour, ^'^■^^ 

How men might in it suche thinges se. 

Another answerd, and sayd, it might wel be 

Naturelly by composiciouns 

Of angels, and of heigh reflexiouns ; 

And sayde that in Rome was such oon. 

They speeke of Alhazen and Vitilyon, 

And Aristotle, that writen in her lyves 

Of queynte myrrours and prospectyves. 

As knowen they that han her bokes herd. 

And other folk have wondred on the swerd, 10550 

That wolde passe thonighout every thing : 

10541 — heigh. Other MSS., with Tyrwhitt, read slyhc or skigh, sly. 

10545 — in Home. The erection of this mirror was one of the feats of 
the legendary Virgil, and will be found described in tlie early English 
poem of the Seven Sayrs. 

10546 — Alhazen mid Vitilijon. Tlie Harl. MS. reads Alceyt for 
Alhazen, and the Lansd. MS. Alocen. " Alhazeni et Vilelloni.i Oplicm are 
extant, printed at Basil, 1572. The first is supposed by liis Editor to 
have lived about a.d. 1100, and the second in a.d. 1270."— Tgiwhitt. 


And fel in speche of Telophus the kyng, 

And of Achilles for his queynte spare, 

For he couthe with it bothe hele and dere, 

Right in such wise as men may with the swerd, 

Of which right now ye have your selven herd. 

They speeken of sondry hardyng of metal. 

And speken of medicines therwithal. 

And how and whan it schulde harded be, 

Wliich is unknowe algat unto me. 10560 

Tho speekeii they of Canacees ryng, 

And seyden alle, that such a wonder thing 

Of craft of rynges herd they never noon, 

Sauf that he Moyses and kyng Salamon 

Hadden a name of connyng in such art. 

Thus seyen the peple, and drawen hem apart. 

But natheles som seiden that it was 

Wonder thing to make of feme aisschen glas, 

And yit is glas nought like aisschen of feme, 

But for they ban i-ltnowen it so feme : 10570 

Therfor cesseth her janglyng and her wonder. 

10552 — Telophus. Telephus, king of Mysia, in attempting to binder 
the Greeks f'rnin inarching through his country against Troy, was wounded 
by Achilles, and was informed by the oracle that his wouthI could only 
be cured by being touched by the spear which had made it. Wlieuco 
Tropertius says, — 

Mysus et Hsemonii juvenis qui cuspide vulnus 
Senserat, hoc ipsa cuspide sensit opem. 
And Ovid, — 

Telephus letema consumptus tabe perisset, 
Si non qua; nocuit dextra tulisset opem. 
10.561 — Aloyses and ki/iiij Salamon. These personages, especially the 
latter, had a high reputation (derived apparently from the Arabs) in the 
Middle Ages for their skill in magic. 

10566 — and drawen hem apari. The Harl. MS. reads, <Af pcplc on 
every pari. 


As sore wondrcd som of cause of thonder, 
On ebbe and flood, on gossomer, and on myst, 
And on alle thing, til that the cause is wist. 
Thus janglen they, and demon and devyse, 
Til that the kyng gan fro his bord arise. 

Phebus hath left the angel merydyonal, 
And yit ascendyng was a best roial. 
The gentil Lyomi, with liis Aldryan, 
Whan that this gentil kyng, this Cambynskan, lO-^so 
Eos fro his bord, ther as he sat ful hye : 
Biforn him goth ful lowde menstralcye. 
Til he cam to his chambre of parementz, 
Ther as ther were divers instrumentz, 
That is y-like an heven for to heere. 

Now dauncen lusty Venus children deere : 
For in the fissch her lady sat ful heyglie, 
x\nd loketh on hem with a frendly eyghe. 
This noble kyng is set upon his trone ; 
This atraunge knight is fet to him ful sone, l^-^'^"^ 
And in the daunce he gan Avith Canace. 

10577— left. The Harl. MS. reads lost. Tliis MS. lias in several 
instances lost for left, and vice versa. 

10579 — Aldryan. The Harl. MS. reads Ailryan. 
10583 — chamhrc of paremtntz. " C/iamfire (if ;«(re/nc;!<, is translated by 
Cotgrave, the presence-chamber ; and Lit dc pavement a bed of state. 
Parements originally signified all sorts of ornamental furniture, or clothes, 
from parcr, Fr. to adorn. See ver. 250:1 and Leg. of G. W, Dido, ver. 181 . 
To dauncing chambres ful of pareinentes. 
Of riche beddcs and of pavenientes, 
This Eneas is ledde after the iiicte. 
The Italians have the same expres.sion. 1st. d. Cone. Trident. 1. iii. II 
I'ontefice — ritornato alia camera dc' parmcnti co' Cardinali — ." — TijrwhiH. 
10587. — in the fissch. — i.e. in the zodiacal sign pisces. See before, the 
note on 1. 0281. 


Her is the revel and the jolyte, 

That is not able a dul man to devyse : 

He most have knowe love and his servise, 

And ben a festly man, as freisch as May, 

That schulde you devyse such array. 

Who couthe telle you the forme of daunce 

So uncouth, and so freische countinaunce, 

Such subtil lokyng of dissimilynges, 

For drede of jalous folk apparceyvynges ? 'oeoo 

No man but Launcolet, and he is deed. 

Therfore I passe over al this lustyheed, 

I say no more, but in this jolynesse 

I lete hem, til men to soper hem dresse. 

The styward byt the spices for to hye 

And eek the wjti, in al this melodye ; 

Thes usschers and thes squyers ben agon. 

The spices and the wyn is come anoon : 

They eet and drank, and whan this had an ende, 

Unto the temple, as resoun was, they wende : 10610 

The servise doou, they soupen al by day. 

What needeth you to rehersen her array ? 

Ech man wot wel, that a kynges feste 

Hath plente, to the lest and to the meste, 

And deyntees mo than ben in my knowyng. 

At after souper goth this noble kyng 

To see this hors of bras, with al his route 

Of lordes and of ladyes him aboute. 

Swich wondrj'ng was ther on this hors of bras, 

That seth this grete siege of Troye was, 

Ther as men wondrid on an hors also, 10620 


Ne was ther such a wondryng as was tho. 

But fynally the kyiig asked the kiiight 

The vertu of this courser, and the might, 

Aud prayd him tellen of his govemaunce. 

The hors anoon gaii for to trippe and dauuce, 

Whan that the knight leyd hand upon his rayne. 

And sayde, " Sir, ther is nomore to sayne, 

But whan you lust to ryde any where, 

Ye moote trille a pyn, stant in his ere, loeso 

Which I schal telle you betwen us two, 

Ye moste nempne him to what place also. 

Or what countre you luste for to lyde. 

And whan ye come ther you lust abyde. 

Bid him descende, and trille another pynne, 

(For therin lith theffet of al the gynne) 

And he wol doun descend and do your wille, 

And in that place he wol abyde stille : 

Tliough al the world had the contrary swore, 

He schal nat thennes be i-throwe ne bore. ^oojo 

Or if you lust to bid him thennes goon, 

Trille this pyn, and he wol vanj^ssh anoon 

Out of the sight of every maner wight, 

And come agein, be it by day or niglit, 

Whan that you lust to clepen him agayn 

In such a gyse, as I schal yow sayn 

Betmxe you and me, and therfor soone, 

Byd whan you lust, ther nys nomor to doone." 

Enformed whan the kyng was of the knight. 

And had conceyved in liis wit aright 106.50 

The maner and tlie forme of al this thincr. 


Ful glad and blith, this uoble doughty kyiig 
Repeyryng to his revel, as biforn, 
The bridal is unto the tour i-boni, 
And kept among liis jewels leef and deere : 
The hors vanyscht, I not in what manere, 
Out of her sight, ye get nomore of me : 
But thus I lete him in his jolite 
This Cambinskan his lordes festeyng, 
Til wel neigh the day bigan to spryng. 
Incipit secimda pars. 
The norice of digestioun, the sleep, 1^660 

Gan to him wynk, and bad of him take keep, 
That moche mete and labour wol have his rest : 
And with a galpyng mouth hem alle he keste. 
And sayd, that it was tyme to lye doun, 
For blood was in his dominacioun : 
■" Cherischeth blood, natures frend," quod he. 
They thankpi him galpyng, by two and thre ; 
And every wight gan drawe him to his rest, 
As sleep hem bad, they took it for the best. io<5"0 
Here dremes schul not now be told for me; 

10663 — moche mete. — TLis reading is taken from the Lands. MS. 
The Harl. MS. has thai mirlhe a»rfZo6oMr, the word //if r</if being perhaps 
a misreading for mete. Tyrwhitt reads mochel drinJce, and observes, — 
" So MSS. C. 1. H.\. In MS. A. it is, That mirthe and labour. In Ask. 
1. 2. Thog after moche labour. In several other MSS. and Editt. C. 1. 2, 
That moche mete and labour. We must search further, I apprehend, for 
the true meaning." 

10666 — blood. According to the old physicians, blood was in domi- 
nation during the latter part of the night and the earlier part of the day. 
Tyrwhitt fjuotes from the lib. Galeuo adscr, de natura, etc., torn, v, p. 
327, Sanguis domiuatar horis .septem ab bora noctis nona ad horam diei 


Ful were here heedes of fumosite, 

That causeth drem, of which ther is no charge. 

They sleepen til it was prime large, 

The moste part, but it were Canace ; 

Sche was ful mesurable, as wommen be. 

For of hir fader had sche take hir leve 

To go to reste, soon after it was eve ; 

Hir luste not appalled for to be, 

Ne on the morwe unfestly for to se ; 1068O 

And kept liir firste sleep, and then awook. 

For such a joye sche in hir herte took, 

Bothe of hir queynte ryng, and hir myrrour. 

That twenty tyme chaunged hij*e colour ; 

And in hire sleep, right for the impressioun 

Of hir myrrour, sche had a visiou^n. 

Wherfor, or that the sonne up gan glyde, 
Sche cleped upon hir maistresse beside, 
And sayde, that hire luste for to ryse. 
These olde wommen, that ben gladly wyse, 10690 

As is here maystresse, answered her anoon, 
And sayd, " Madame, wliider wold ye goon 
Thus erly? for folk ben alle in reste." 
" I wil," quod sche, " aryse, for me leste 
No lenger for to slepe, and walke aboute." 
Hir maistres clepeth wommen a gret route. 
And up they risen, a ten other a twelve. 
Up ryseth fi'csshe Canace hir selve. 
As rody and bright, as is the yonge sonne 
That in the ram is ten degrees i-ronne ; 10700 

\0700— ten. This is the reading of the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. 
Tyrwhitt reads, foure drffrees. I, 


No heiher was he, whan sche recly was ; 

And forth sche walked esily a pas, 

Arayed after the lusty sesoun soote 

Lightly for to play, and walke on foote. 

Nought hut with fyve or six of hir meyne ; 

And in a trench fer in the park goth sche. 

The vapour, which that of the erthe glod, 

Maketh the sonne seme rody and hrod : 

But natheles, it was so fair a sight. 

That it made alle here hertes for to light, 10710 

What for the sesoun, what for the mornyng 

And for the foules that sche herde syng. 

For right anoon sche wiste what they ment 

Plight by here song, and knew al here entent. 

The knotte, why that every tale is told. 
If that it be taryed til lust be cold 
Of hem tliat han it after herkned yore. 
The savour passeth ever lenger the more. 
For fulsomnes of the prolixite : 

A.nd by this same resoun thinketh me 10720 

I schulde to the knotte condescende. 
And make of hir walkynge sone an ende. 

Amyddes a tree for-druye, as whit as chalk, 
As Canace was pleyyng in hir walk. 
There sat a faukoun over hir heed ful hye. 
That with a pitous vois bigan to crye. 
That al the woode resowned of hire cry. 
And beten hadde sche hir self so pitously 
With bothe hir w}aiges, to the reede blood 
Ran endelong the tree, ther as sche stood. lo^'^o 


And ever in oon sche cried and sche schryght, 

And with hir bek hir selve so sche pight, 

That ther nys tigre non ne cruel beste, 

That dwelleth eyther in wood, or in foreste, 

That nold han wept, if that he wepen cowde, 

For sorw of hir, sche schright alwey so lowde. 

For ther nas never yit no man on lyve, 

If that he couthe a faukoun wel discrive, 

That herd of such another of faimesse 

As wel of plumage, as of gentillesse 10740 

Of schap, of al that might i-rekened be. 

A faukoun peregryn than semed sche, 

Of fremde lond ; and ever as sche stood, 

Sche swowned now and now for lak of blood. 

Til wel neigh is sche fallen fro the tre. 

This faire kynges doughter, Canace, 

That on hir fynger bar the queynte ryng, 

Thurgh which sche understood wel every thing 

That eny foul may in his lydne sayn, 

And couthe answer him in his lydne agayn, 10750 

Hath understonde what this faukoun seyde, 

And wel neigh almost for the rewthe sche deyde : 

And to the tree sche goth ful hastily. 

And on this faukoun loketh pitously. 

1 07 12 — a faukoun peregryn. " This spccios of falcon is tlius described 
in the Tresor de Brunei Latin, P. 1, Cli. Ihs Faucnns. MS. iv(v/. 19, C. x. 
' La secondo hgiiiu est /(lucons, que hoiii apcle jielerins, par co que mis 
ne trove son ni. ainsestpris autresi come en/jcicnnar/e. ct est niultlegiers 
a norrir, et mult cortois, et vaillans, et de bone manierc.' Chaucer adds, 
that this Falcon was of fremde, or fremcd, lond ; from a foreign country." 


And held hir lappe abrod, for wel sche wist 

The faukoim moste falle fro the twist, 

Whan that she swowned next, for lak of blood. 

A long while to wayten hir sche stood, 

Til atte last sche spak in this manere 

Unto the hauk, as ye schul after heere. '^760 

" What is the cause, if it be for to telle. 

That ye ben in that furyalle peyne of helle?" 

Quod Canace unto this hauk above ; 
" Is tliis for sorwe of deth, or elles love ? 

For as I trowe, this ben causes tuo, 

That causen most a gentil herte wo. 

Of other harm it needeth nought to speke, 

For ye your self upon your self awreke ; 

Which preveth wel, that either ire or drede 

Mote ben enchesoun of your cniel dede, •f"'70 

Sith that I see noon other wight you chace. 

For love of God, so doth your selve grace : 

Or what may ben your helpe ? for west ner est 

Ne saugh I never er now no bryd ne beste, 

That ferde with him self so pitously. 

Ye sle me with your sorwe so verrily, 

I have of you so gret compassioun. 

For Goddes love, come fro the tree adoun ; 

And as I am a kynges doughter trewe, 

If that I verrayly the cause knewe lO'SO 

Of your disese, if it lay in my might, 

I wold amenden it, or that it wer night. 

10782 — Or that it were ni{jht. The Harl MS. reads, i/that I might ; 
wliich appears to be too nearly a repetition of the coiiclu.sion of the pre- 
ceding line. 


Als wisly help me grete God of kynde. 

Aud herbes sclial I right y-no\ve fyiide, 

To helen with your hui'tes hasty ly." 

Tho schright tliis faukoun more pitously 

Than ever sche did, aud hi to gromid anouu, 

Arid lay aswowne, deed as eny stoon, 

Til Canace hath in hir lap y-take, 

Unto that tyme sche gan of swowne slake ; iotm) 

And after that sche gau of swown abreyde, 

Right in hir haukes lydue thus sche sayde. 

That pite renneth sone in gentil hert 

(Felyng his similitude in peynes smerte) 

Is proved alday, as men may see, 

As wel by werk as by auctorite ; 

For gentil herte kepeth gentillesse. 

I see wel, that ye have on my distresse 

Compassioun, my faire Canace, 

Of verray wommanly benignite. 

That nature in your principles hath set. lOSOO 

But for noon hope for to fare the bet. 

But for to obeye unto your herte fre, 

And for to make othere war by me, 

As by the whelp chastised is the lyoun ; 

And for that cause and that conclusioun, 

Whiles that I have a leyser and a space, 

Myn harm I wil confessen er I pace." 

And whil sche ever of hir sorwe tolde, 

That other wept, as sche to water wolde, 

Til that the faucoun bad hir to be stillo, 10«10 

And with a sighhc thus sche sayd hir tillc 


" Ther I was bred, (alias that like clay !) 
And fostred in a rocli of marble gray- 
So tendrely, that nothing eyled me, 
I ne wiste not what was adversite, 
Til I couthe flee ful heigh under the sky. 
Tho dwelled a tercelet me faste by, 
That semed welle of alle gentillesse ; 
Al were he ful of tresoun and falsnesse, 
It was i-wrapped under humble cheere, 10820 

And under heewe of trouthe in such manere, 
Under plesaunce, and under besy pejTie, 
That no wight wende that he couthe feyne, 
So deep in greyn he deyed his colours. 
Right as a serpent hut him under floures 
Til he may see his tyme for to byte ; 
Right so this god of loves ypocrite 
Doth so his sermonys and his observaunce, 
Under subtil colour and aqueyntaunce, 
That sowneth mito gentilesse of love. 1^830 

As in a tombe is al the faire above, 
And under is the corps, whiche that ye wot ; 
Such was this ipocrite, bothe cold and hot, 
And in this wise he served his entent. 
That, sauf the feend, noon wiste what he ment : 
Til he so long had weped and compleyned, 

10827 — (jod of loves ypocnjte. This is Tyrwhitt's reading. The Harl. 
MS. has, this god of love, this y poor i/te, which appears not to give so good 
a meaning. The Lansd. MS. reads, this god of love ipocrite. 

10828— In the Lausd. MS., with which Tyrwhitt agrees, these two 
lines stand thus, — 

Dothe so his ceremoniis and obeiceances, 
And keped in seniblant al his observances. 


And many a yeer his service to me feyned, 

Til that myn hert, to pitous and to nyce, 

Al innocent of his crouned malice, 

For-fered of his deth, as thoughte me, 10840 

Upon his othes and his sewerte, 

Graunted him love, on this condicioun. 

That evei'mo myn honom* and my renomi 

Were saved, both pryvy and apert ; 

That is to sayn, that, after his desert, 

I gaf him al myn hert and al my thought, 

(God woot, and he, that other weye nought) 

And took his hert in chaunge of myn for ay. 

But soth is sayd, go sithens many a day, 

A trew wight and a theef thenketh nought oon. 10850 

And when he saugh the th}aig so fer i-goon, 

That I had graunted him fully my love. 

In such a wyse as I have sayd above, 

And geven him my trewe hert as fre 

As he swor that he gaf his herte to me. 

Anon this tigre, ful of doublenesse, 

Fil on his knees with so gret devoutenesse, 

With so high reverence, as by his chere. 

So lyk a gentil lover of manere. 

So ravysched, as it semede, for joyo, lOHoo 

That never Jason, ne Parys of Troye, 

Jason ? certes, ne noon otlier man, 

Sith Lameth was, that altherfirst bygan 

To loven two, as writen folk biforn, 

Ne never sith the firste man was born, 

Nc coutho man by twenty thousand part 


Contrefete the sophemes of his art ; 

Ne were worthy to uubokel his galoche, 

Ther doublenes of feyuyiig schold approche, 

Ne so couthe thankyn a wight, as he did me. lO^/O 

His maner was an haven for to see 

To eny womman, were sche never so wjs ; 

So peynteth he and kembeth poynt devys, 

As wel his wordes, as his continauuce. 

And I so loved liim for his obeisauuce, 

And for the trouthe I demed in his herte, 

That if so were that eny thing him smerte, 

Al were it never so litel, and I it wist, 

Me thought I felte deth at myn hert twist. 

And schortly, so ferforth this thing is went, 10880 

That my wil was his willes instrument; 

This is to say, my wille obeied his wille 

In alle thing, as fer as resoun fille, 

KepjTig the boundes of my worschip ever : 

Ne never had I thing so leef, ne lever. 

As him, God woot, ne never schal nomo. 

This laste longer than a yeer or two, 

That I supposed of him nought but good. 

But fynally, atte laste thus it stood. 

That fortune wolde that he moste twynno 10890 

Out of the place wliich that I was inne. 

Wher me was wo, it is no questioun ; 

I can nat make of it descripciouu. 

For o thing dar I telle boldely, 

I know what is the peync of deth, therby, 

Which harm I felt, for he ne miglite byleve. 


So on a day of me he took his leve, 

So sorwful eek, that I went verrayly, 

That he had feled als moche harm as I, ^0^°^ 

Whan that I herd him speke, and saugh his hewe. 

But natheles, I thought he was so trewe, 

And eek that he schulde repeire ageyn 

Withinne a litel while, soth to seyn, 

And resoun wold eek that he moste go 

For his honour, as oft happeth so. 

Than I made vertu of necessite, 

And took it wel, sethens it moste be. 

As I best might, I had fro him my sorwe. 

And took him by the hand, seint Johan to borwe, 1 0910 

And sayde thus : ' Lo, I am youi'es al, 

Beth such as I have be to you and schal.' 

What he answerd, it needeth nat to reherse ; 

Who can say bet than he, who can do worse ? 

Whan he hath al wel sayd, than hath he doon. 

Therfor bihoveth him a ful long spoon. 

That schal ete with a feend ; thus herd I say. 

So atte last he moste forth his way, 

And forth he fleeth, til ho cam tlier liim leste. 

10906 — as oft happeih so. In tlie Harl. MS. these words have been 
omitted by a blunder of tlie scribe. The lacune is supplied from the 
Lansd. MS. 

10916 — a ful lonij spoon. This singular proverb appears to be of con- 
siderable antiquity. It occurs more frequently in the si.xtecnth century ; 
among a few proverbs of tliis date printed in the Rdiq Antiq. vol. i, p. 
208, one is, " He hath need of a long sjioone that eateth with the devill." 
So in Shakespeare, Com. of Errors, iv, ;5, " Marry, he must have a long 
spoon, tiiat nnist eat witli tlie devil ;" and, Tcmpisl, ii, 2, Stephano says, 
" Mercy ! mercy I this is a devil, and no monster : I will leave him ; I have 
no long spoon." 


Whan it cam him to purpos for to reste, 

I trow he haclde thilke text in mynde, 10920 

That alle thing repeyryng to his kyude 

Gladeth himself ; thus seyu men, as I gesse : 

Men loven of kynde newefangilnesse, 

As hriddes doon, that men in cage feede. 

For theigh thou night and day take of hem heede, 

And straw her cage faire and soft as silk, 

And geve hem sugre, hony, breed, and mylk, 

Yet right anoon as that his do re is uppe, 

He with his feet wil sporue domi his cuppe, 10930 

And to the wode he wil, and wormes ete ; 

So newefangel be thei of her mete. 

And loven non leveres of proj)re Idnde ; 

No gentiles of blood ne may hem binde. 

So ferde this tercelet, alas the day ! 

Though he were gentil bom, and fresh, and gay, 

And goodly for to see, and humble, and free, 

He saw upon a time a kite fie. 

And sodeynly he loved this kite soo. 

That al his love is clene fro me goo : 10940 

And hath his trouthe Msed in this wise. 

Thus hathe the Itite my love in hir servise, 

And I am lorne withoute remedy." 

10920 — thilke text. " Boetliins. 1. iii, met. 2, 

Repetiint projirios quacque recursiis, 
Redituque suo singula gaudent. 
10930— A leaf or two have uut'ortimately been lost from tlie HarkMaii 
MS. after this line, and I am obliged to take the remainder of the tale from 
Tyrwliitt, collated with the Lansd. MS. 

10933— )!0)( ktrirs — no rations. Tyrwhitt has, loven iwvcllccs. 


And with that worde this faukon gan to cry, 

And swowneth eft in Canacees barme. 

Gret was the sorwe for that haukes harme, 

That Canace and alle hire wommen made ; 

They nysten howe they myght the faukon glade. 

But Canace horn hereth hir in hir lappe, 

And softely in piastres gan hir wrappe, it^^-^O 

Ther as sche with hir bek hadde hurt hir selve. 

Now can nought Canace hot herbes delve 

Out of the grounde, and maken salves newe 

Of herbes precious and fyne of hewe, 

To helen with this hauk ; fro day to night 

Sche doth liir besines, and al hir might. 

And by hir beddes heed sche made a mewe, 

And covered it with veluettes blewe, 

In signe of trewthe that is in womman seene ; 

And al withoute the mewe is pejmted greene, 10960 

In whiche were peynted alle this false foules, 

As ben this tideves, tercelettes, and owles ; 

And pies, on hem for to crye and chide, 

Right for despite were peynted hem byside. 

Thus lete I Canace hir hauk kepyng. 
I wil nomore nowe speken of liir rynge. 
Til it come eft to purpos for to seyn. 
How that this faukon gat hir love ageyn 
Piepentaunt, as the story telleth us, 

10958 — bleiKC. Blue was the colour of truth. 

10963,4 — I have followed Tyrwhitt in transposing these two lines, 
which stand in the Lansd. and other MSS., — 

Right for despite were peynted hem bytide, 
And pies, on hem for to erye and ehidr. 


By mediaciouu of Camballus 10970 

The kinges sone, of which that I yow tolde ; 

But hennesforth I wil my proces holde 

To speken of aventures, aud of batailes, 

That yit was never herd so grete mervailes. 

First wil I telle yow of Cambynskan, 

That ill his time many a cite wan : 

And after wil I speke of Algarsif, 

How that he wan Theodora to his wif, 

For whom ful ofte in grete peril he was, 

Ne had he ben holpen by the liors of bras. ^0980 

And after wil I speke of Camballo, 

That fought in listes with the bretheren tuo 

10977,8 " are also transposed. According to the common arrange- 
ment, old Cambuscan is to win Theodora to his ivif, and we are not told 
what is to be the object of Algarsifs adventures." — Tyrwhitt. 

10981 — ofCambuUo. "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 hrother, but a lorer, 
of Canace, 

Who fought In listes with the hreihren two ' 
For Canace, or that he might hire winiie. 
The brethren tivo are, obviously, the two brethren of Canace, who have 
been mentioned above, Algarsif and Camballo. In MS. Ask. 1, 2, it is, 
hir brethren two ; which would put the matter out of all doubt. Camballo 
could not fight with himself. Again, if this Camballo be supposed to be 
the brother of Canace, and to fight in defence of her with some two 
bretliren, who might be suitors to her, according to Spencer'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, according to my idea, is nearly this; the conclusion of the 
story of the Faucon, 

" By mediation of Camballus," 
with the help of the ring ; the conquests of Cambiiskan ; the winning of 
Tlieodora 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 chivalry." — Tyrwhitt. 


For Canaoe, er that he might hir wynne, 
And thev I left I wol ageyn begiune. 


"In faith, Squier, thou hast the wel y-quit 
And gentilly, I preise wel thy wit," 
Quod the Frankeleyn, "considering thin youthe, 
So fehngly thou spekest, sire, I aloue the 
As to my dome, ther is non that is here, 
Of eloquence that schal be thy pere, lo^^o 

If that thou live ; God geve thee goode chance, 
And in vertue send the continaunce. 
For of thy speking I have gret deinte. 
I have a sone, and by the Trinite 
It were me lever than twenty pound worth lond, 
Tliough it right now were fallen in my hond, 
He were a man of swiche discretion, 
As that ye ben : fie on possession. 
But if a man be vertuous withal. 

10984 — In the Lands. MS., in which the Squyeres Tale is followed 
by the tale of the Wyf of Batlie, the following lines are added as a sort 
of conclusion to the former : — 

Bot I wil here now niaalie a tnotte 

To the time it come next to my lotte ; 

For here be folawes behinde an hepe treiilye, 

That wolde talkc fill besilye, 

And have her sporte as wele as I, 

And the dale passeth fast certanly. 

Therefore, oste, talfuth nowe goode hoede, 

AVho sclialh^ next tclli', and late him speede. 
10985 — All from tliis line! to 1. 11020 is omitu^d in the Lansdowne and 
othca- MSS., and I have given it chiefly from Tyrwhitt. 


I have my sone snibbed, and yet sbal, ^'ooo 

For he to vertue listeth not to entend, 

But for to play at dis, and to dispend, 

And less all that he hath, is his usage ; 

And he had lever talken vrith a page, 

Than to commune with any gentil wight, 

Ther he might leren gentillesse aright." 

" Straw for your gentillesse !" quod our hoste. 
" Wliat ? Frankeleyn, parde, sire, wel thou wost, 

That eche of you mote tellen at the lest 

A tale or two, or breken his behest." lioio 

" That know I wel, sire," quod the Frankeleyn, 
" I pray you haveth me not in disdein. 

Though I to this man speke a word or two." 
" Tell on thy tale, withouten wordes mo." 
" Gladly, sire hoste," quod he, " I wol obeye 

Unto your wille ; now herkeneth what I seye ; 

I wol you not contrarien in no wise, 

As fer as that my wittes may suffice. 

I pray to God that it may plesen you, 

That wot I wel that it is good y-now. 11020 

" This olde gentil Bretons in here dales 

Of divers aventures maden laies, 

Rimyden in her firste Breton tonge ; 

Whiche laies with here instrumentes thei songe. 

Other elles redden hem for her plesance, 

11021 — gentil Bretons. The Breton " laies" here alluded to were very 
foraous in tlie Middle Ages ; but tliey involve a question in literary 
history of considerable difficulty, into which we cannot enter on the 
present occasion. 


And one of hem have I in remembrance, 

Which I schal seie with goode wil as I can. 

But, sires, because I am a burel man, 

At my beginnyng first I you beseche 

Haveth me excused of my rude speche. I'oso 

I lemed never rethorilv certeine ; 

Thinge that I speke, it most be bare and pleine, 

I slept never on the mount of Parnaso, 

Ne lemed Marcus, Tullius, ne Cithero. 

Colours ne know I non, withouten drede. 

But suche colours as growen in the mede. 

Or elles suche as men deye with or peinte ; 

Colours of rethorik ben to me queynte ; 

My spirit feleth nought of suche matiere. 

But if you luste my tale schal ye here." 11040 


In Armorik, that clepid is Bretaigne, 
Ther was a knyght, that loved and dede his pejnic 
To serv^en a lady in his beste wise ; 
And many a labour, many a grate emprise 
He for his lady wrouht, or sche were wonne : 

11034 — Marcus, Tullius, ne Cithero. This is the reading of the 
Lansdowne MS., and I am inclined to think it inny he the right one, 
Chaucer's intention being to exhibit the Frankeleyne's ignorance of 
classical literature. 

The Frankehynes Tale. The lay, from which Cliaucer informs us 
that he took this tale, appears to bo entirely lost; but Bocaccio, who 
made up his Decamernn from tlic popular fabliaux and talcs of the time, 
has preserved a version of this story in that work. Day. \, num. 5, as 
well as in the fifth book of his Philocopo. 


For sche was on the fairest under sonne, 

And eke therto com of so liilie kinrede, 

That wele unnethes dorst this knyht for drede 

Tel hir his woo, his peine, and liis distresse. 

But at the last, sche for his worthinesse, 11050 

And namely for his meke obeissance, 

Hath suche a pite caught of his penance, 

That prively sche fel of his accorde 

To take liim for hir husbonde and hir lorde, 

(Of suche lordschip as men han over hire wy ves) ; 

And, for to lede the more in blisse her lyves. 

Of liis fre wil he swore hire as a knyht. 

That never in his vn\ be day ne nyht 

Ne scholde he upon him take no maistrie 

Ageines hir mile, ne kythe hire jelousye, iioeo 

But hire obeie, and folowe hire wille in al, 

As any lover to his lady schal : 

Save that the name of sovereignete 

That nolde he have for schame of his degre. 

Sche thonketh him, and with ful grete humblesse 

Sche seide ; " Sir, seththe ye of youre gentillesse 

Ye prefer me to have als large a reyne, 

Ne wold nevere God betwix us tweyue, 

As in my gulte, were e}i:her werre or strif : 

Sir, I wil be youre humble trewe mf; ^lo^o 

Have here my trouthe, til that myn herte bruste." 

Thus ben they bothe in quiete and in ruste. 

For thinge, sires, saufly dar I seie, 

That frendes everyche other motte obeie. 

If thei wil longe holde compaigne. 


Love wil nouht buen constreyned by maistre. 

Whan maistre commeth, the god of love anon 

Beteth his winges, and fare wel, he is gon. 

Love is a thinge, as any spirit, fre. 

Wommen of kinde desiren liberte, noso 

And nouht to be constreined as a thral ; 

And so doth men, if I the sothe saie schal. 

Loke who that is most pacient in love, 

He is at his avantage al above. 

Paciens is an liihe vertue certein, 

For it venquisheth, as this clerkes sein, 

Thinges that rigour never sholde atteine. 

For eveiy worde men may nouht chide ne pleine. 

Lemeth to suffer, or elles, so most I gon. 

Ye schul it leme whether ye wol or non. 11090 

For in this world certein no wight ther is. 

That he ne doth or seyth som time amis. 

Ire, or sikenesse, or constellacioun, 

Wyn, wo, or chaunginge of comple.Kiomi, 

Causeth ful oft to don amys or speken. 

On every wronge men maye nouht be wreken ; 

After the time most be temperance 

To every ^\ight that can of governance. 

And therfor hath this worthy wise knight 

To liven in ese suffrance hir behight; moo 

And sche to him ful wisely gan to swere, 

That nevere schold ther be defaute in hire. 

Here may men seen an humble wise accordo : 

Thus hath sche take hire servant and hir lorde, 

Servant in love, and lorde in mariage. 



Tliau was he bothe in lorclesohipe and sewage ? 

Servage ? nay, but in lordeschip al above, 

Sethen lie hath bothe his lady and his love : 

His lady certes, and his wif also. 

The which that law of love accordeth to. nno 

And whan he was in this prosperite. 

Home with his wif he goth to his contre, 

Nouht fer fro Penmarke, ther his dwellinge was, 

Wher as he leveth in blisse and in solas. 

Who couthe telle, but he had wedded be, 
The joye, the ese, and the prosperite. 
That is betwix an housbond and his wif? 
A yere and more lasteth this blisful lif, 
Til that this knight, of which I spak of thus, 
That of Cairrud was cleped Arviragus, mso 

Schope him to gon and dwelle a yere or tweyne 
In Engelond, that cleped eke was Bretayne, 
To seke in amies worschipe and honour, 
(For al his lust he set in suclie labour) ; 
And dwelleth there tuo yere ; the boke seith thus. 

Now wil I stint of this Arviragus, 
And speken I wil of Dorigen his wif. 
That loveth hire husbond as hire hertes lif. 
For his absence wepeth sche and siketh. 
As don this noble wives whan hem liketh ; 11130 

Sche mometh, waketh, waileth, fasteth, pleyneth ; 

11113 — Vcnmarke. Penmark is on the western coat of Britany, 
between Brest and L'Orient. 

1 1 120 — Cairrud. So Tyrwhitt gives the name, but he does not inform 
us where the place is situated. In the Lansd. MS. it is called Ki/nred. 


Desire of his presence hir so distreinetli, 

That al this wide world sche set at nouht. 

Hire frendes, which that knewe hir hevy thouht, 

Comforten hire in al that ever thei may ; 

Thei prechen hire, thei tellen hire nyht and day, 

That causeles sche sleth hir self, alas ! 

And every comfort possible in this cas 

They don to hire, with al here businesse. 

And al to make hire leve hire hevynesse. ^'^^ 

By proces, as ye knowen everychone, 

Men mowe so longe graven in a stone. 

Til som figure therinne emprinted be : 

So longe have thei comforted hii-e, that sche 

Receyved hath, by hope and by resomi, 

The emprintinge of hire consolacioun, 

Thorugh which hire grete sorwe gan assuage ; 

Sche may not alway duren in suche rage. 

And eke Arviragus, in al this care. 

Hath sent his letti'es home of his welfare, n'''^* 

And that he wolde come hastily ageyn, 

Or elles had this sorwe hire herte sleyn. 

Hire frendes sauh hire sorwe gan to slake. 

And preiden hire on knees, for Goddes sake, 

To come and romen in here companye, 

Away to driven hire derke fautasie : 

And finally sche graunted that request, 

For wel sche sauh that it was for the best. 

Now stode hir castel faste by the see. 
And often with hire frendes walked sche, IU60 

Hir to dis)»nrfon on tho bank an bilie. 


Wher as sche many a schip and barge sihe, 
Sailinge her cours, ■wher as hem liste to go. 
But jit was that a parcel of hir wo, 
For to hir selve ful oft> " alas !" seid sche, 

" Is ther no schip, of so many as I se, 
Wil l>ringen home my lorde ? than were myn herte 
Al warisshed of this hitter peine smerte." 

Another time wold sche sitte and thinke, 
And kast hir eye dounward fro the brinke ; 1U70 

But whan sche sawh the grisly rokkes blake, 
For verray fere so wolde hire herte qwake, 
That on hir feet sche myhte nouht hir sustene. 
Than wolde sche sit adoun upon the grene. 
And pitously into the see biliolde, 
And seyn right thus, with careful sikes colde. 

" Etenie God, that thorugh thy purveance 
Ledest this world by certein governance. 
In idel, as men sein, ye nothinge make. 
But, lord, tliis grisely fendely rockes blake, ^^^^^ 
That semen rather a foule confusioun 
Of werke, than any faire creacioun 
Of suche a parfit wise God and stable. 
Why ban ye wrouht this werk unresonable ? 
For by this werke, southe, northe, este, ne west, 
Ther nis i fostred man, ne brid, ne best : 
It doth no good, to my vnt, but anoyeth. 
See ye nouht, lord, how mankind it destroyeth? 
An hundred thousand bodies of mankinde 
Han rokkes slein, al be they nouht in mynde ; 'i'^*^ 
Whicli mankinde is so faire parte of thy werke. 


Thou madest it like to thyn owen merke, 

Than, semeth it, ye had a gret cherte 

Toward inankinde ; but how than may it 1)0, 

That ye suche menes make it to destroyen ? 

A^liich menes doth no good, but ever anoyen. 

I woot wel, clerkes woln sein as hem lest 

By argumentz, that al is for the best. 

Though I ne can the causes nought y-knowe ; 

But thilke God that maad the wind to blowe, 1130"J 

As kepe my lord, this is my conclusioun : 

To clerkes Lete I al disputisoun : 

But wolde God, that al this rokkes blake 

Were sonken into helle for his sake ! 

This rokkes slee myn herte for the fere." 

Thus wold sche say with many a pitous tere. 

Hire frendes sawe that it nas no disport. 
To romen by the see, but discomfort. 
And schope hem for to pleien somwhere elles. 
They leden hire by rivers and by welles, lV2i.o 

And eke in other places delitables ; 
They dauncen and they pley at dies and tables. 
So on a day, right in the morwe tide, 
Unto a gardeyn that was ther beside, 
In which that they had made her ordinance 
Of vitaile, and of other purveance, 
They gon and plaie hem al the longe day : 
And this was on the sixte morwe of May, 
Which May had peiuted with his softe sehoures 
This gardeyn ful of levos and of (loures: II220 

And craft of mannes bond so curiously 


Arrayed had this gardeyn trewely, 
That never was ther gardeyn of suche pris, 
But if it were the verray paradis. 
The odour of floures and the fresshe siht, 
Wold han y-maked any herte light 
That ever was born, but if to gret sikenesse 
Or to gret sorwe held it in distresse, 
So ful it was of beaute and plesaunce. 
And after dinner gan thay to daunce ii^^o 

And singe also, sauf Dorigen alone, 
Which made alway hire compleynt and hire mone, 
For sche ne sawh him on the daunce go, 
That was hir housbond, and hire love also : 
But natheles sche moste hir time abide, 
And with good hope lete hire sorwe slide < 
Upon this daunce, amonges othere men, 
Daunced a squier before Dorigen, 
That fresscher was and jolier of array, 
As to my dome, than is the moneth of May. 112-10 
He singeth and daunseth passing any man, 
That is or was siththe that the world began; 
Therwith he w^as, if men schuld him descrive, 
On of the beste faringe men on live, 
Yonge, strong, riht \drtuous, and riche, and wise, 
And wel beloved, and holden in gret prise. 
And schortly, if the soth I tellen schal, 
Unweting of this Dorigen at al. 
This lusty squier, servant to Venus, 
Which that y-cleped was Aurelius, ^1250 

Had loved hire best of anv creature 


Two yere aud more, as was his adventure : 

But never dorst he tellen hire his grevance, 

Withouten cuppe he drank al his penance. 

He was dispeired, nothing dorst he seye, 

Sauf in his songes somwhat wolde he wreye 

His woo, as in a general complejniing ; 

He said, he loved, and was heloved nothing. 

Of suche matier made he many layes, 

Songes, compleyntes, I'oundelets, virelayes ; IV260 

How that he dorste not his sorwe telle, 

But languissheth as doth a fuyr in helle ; 

And deie he must, he seid, as did Ekko 

For Narcisus, that dorst nought telle hir wo. 

In other maner than ye here me seye, 

Ne dorst he nouht to hire his wo hewreye, 

Sauf that paraventure som time at daunces, 

Ther yonge folk kepen her observaunces, 

It may wel be he loked on hir face 

In suche a wise, as man that axeth grace, ^ •^''^ 

But nothing mste sche of his entent. 

Natheles it happed, er they thennes went, 

Because that he was hire neighebour, 

And was a man of worschipe and honour. 

And had y-knowen him oft times yore, 

Tliei felle in speche, and forth ay more and more 

Unto his purpos drowh Aurelius ; 

And whan he sawh liis time, he seide thus. 

11261 — Narcisus. This classic personage was known popularly in 
th(! Middle Ages, from the circiuiistiinco of his huviug been made the 
subject of a French fabliau or metrical story. 


" Madame," quod he, " by God that this world made. 
So that I wist it might your herte glade, i '280 

I wolde that day, that your Ar\iragus 
Went over see, that I Aurelius 
Had went ther I schold never come agein ; 
For wel I wot my ser\dse is in vein, 
My guerdon nys but bresting of myn herte. 
Madame, reweth upon my jDeines smerte. 
For with a word ye may me sle or save. 
Here at youre feet God wold that I were grave ! 
I ne have as now no leiser more to seye : 
Have mercy, swete, or ye wol do me deye." 11290 
Sche gan to loke upon Aurelius ; 

" Is this your wil," quod sche, "and say ye thus '? 
Never erst," quod sche, " ne -wist I what ye ment : 
But now, Aurelie, I luiow your entent. 
But thilke God, that gave me soule and lif, 
Ne schal I never ben untrewe wif 
In word ne werk, as fer as I have witte, 
I wil ben his to whom that I am knitte : 
Take this for final answer as of me." 
But after that in play thus seide sche : 11300 

" Aurelie," quod sche, " by liihe God above, 
Yit wil I graimte you to be your love, 
(Sin I yow see so pitously compleyne), 
Loke, what day that endelong Breteigne 
Ye remewe al the rolikes, ston by ston, 
That they ne letten schip ne bote to gon, 
I say, whan ye have maad this cost so clene 
Of rokkes, that ther nvs no ston v-sene, 


Than wol I love yow best of any man, 

Have here my trouthe, in al that ever I can; 11310 

For wel I wot that that schal never betide. 

Let suche folie out of youre herte glide. 

What deynte scholde a man have in his lif, 

For to go love another manues wdf, 

That hath hir body whan that ever him liketh ?" 

Aurelius ful often sore siketh ; 
" Is ther non other grace in you ?" quod he. 
" No, by that lord," quod sche, " that maked me." 

Wo was Aurelie whan that he this herde. 

And mth a sorweful herte he thus answerde. n^-O 
" Madame," quod he, " this were an impossible. 

Than moste I deie of sodeyn deth horrible." 

And with that word he turned him anon. 
The come hir other frendes many on, 

And in the alleyes romed up and doun. 

And nothing wist of this conclusioun, 

But sodeynly began to revel uewe. 

Til that the brighte sonne had lost his hewe, 

For the orizont had reft the sonne his liht, 

(This is as much to sayn as it was nyht) ; 11330 

And home thei gon in joye and solas ; 

Sauf only wrecche Aurelius, alas ! 

He to his hous is gon with sorweful herte. 

He saith, he may not from his deth asterte. 

Him semeth, that he felt his herte colde. 

Up to the lieven his handes gan he holde, 

And on his knees bare ho set him doun, 

And in his raving seid his orisoun. 


For verray wo out of his witte he braide, 

He nyst nouht what he spak, but thus he seide ; nsio 

With pitous herte liis pleyut hath he begonne 

Unto the goddes, aud first unto the sonne. 

He seid, " Apollo, God and govemour 

Of every plante, herbe, tre, and flour, 

That givest after thy declinacioun 

To eche of hem his tyme and sesoun, 

As that thin herbergh chaungetli low and hihe ; 

Lord Phebus, cast thy merciable eye 

On wrecche Aiu'elie, which that am for-lorne. 

Lo, lord, my lady hath my deth y-sworue 11350 

Withouten gilt, but thy beuignite 

Upon my dedly herte have some pite. 

For wel I wot, lord Phebus, if you lest, 

Ye may me helpen, sauf my lady, best. 

Now voucheth sauf, that I may you devise 

How that I may be holpe and in what wise. 

Your blisful suster, Lucina the schene. 

That of the see is chief goddes and qwene: — 

Though Neptunus have deite in the see, 

Yit emperes aboven him is sche : 11360 

Ye knowe wel, lord, that right as hir desire 

Is to be quiked and lihted of your fire, 

For which sche folvvith yow ful besily, 

Right so the see desireth naturelly 

To folwen hir, as sche that is goddesse 

Both in the see and rivers more and lesse. 

Wherfor, lord Phebus, this is my request, 

Do this miracle, or do myn herte brest ; 


That now next at this opposicioun, 

Which in the signe schal be of the Lyoun, 11^70 

As preyeth hire so grete a flood to bringe, 

That five fathome at the lest it overspringe 

The hihest rokke in Armorik Bretaine, 

And let this flod enduren yeres twaine : 

Than certes to my lady may I say, 

Holdeth your best, the rokkes ben away. 

Lord Phebvis, this miracle doth for me, 

Prey hire sche go no faster cours than ye ; 

I sey this, preyeth your suster that sche go 

No faster cours than ye this yeres tuo : ivssQ 

Than schal sche even be at ful alway, 

And spring-flood lasten bothe night and day. 

And but sche vouchesauf in suche manere 

To graunten me my sovereigne lady dere, 

Prey hir to sinken eveiy rok adoun 

Into hir owen darke regioun 

Under the gromide, ther Pluto duelleth inne, 

Or nevermo schal J my lady wynne. 

Thy temple in Delphos wil I barfote seke ; 

Lord Phebus, se the teres on my cheke, ^^^^f* 

And on my peyne have some compassioun." 

And with that word in sorwc he fel adoun, 

And longe time he lay forth in a traunce. 

His brother, which that knew of his penaunce, 

Up cauht him, and to bed ho hath him brouht. 

Dispeired in this turment and tliis thouht, 

Let I this wofiil (U'cuLui'u lye, 

Chese he for me whether he wol leve or deye. 


Amragus with hele and grete honour 
(As he that was of chevalrie the flour) luoo 

Is comen home, and other worthy men : 
0, blisful art thou now, thou Dorigen, 
That hast thy lusty housbond in thin armes, 
The fressche knight, the worthy man of amies, 
That loveth the, as his owen hertes lif : 
Nothing list him to be imagiuatif. 
If any wight had spoke, while he was oute. 
To hire of love ; he had of that no doute ; 
He nouht entendeth to no suche matere. 
But daunceth, justeth, and maketh mery chere. m^o 
And thus in joye and blisse I let hem dwellej 
And of the sike Aurelius wol I telle. 
In langour and in turment furius 
Two yere and more lay wrecche Aurelius, 
Er any foot on erthe he mighte gon ; 
Ne comfort in this time had he non, 
Sauf of his brother, which that was a clerk. 
He knew of al this wo and al this werk ; 
For to non other creature certein 
Of this matere he dorste no word seyn ; luao 

Under his brest he bar it more secre. 
Than ever dede Pamphilus for Galathe. 

11422 — Pamphilus for Galathe. The allusion is to a popular medie. 
ral poem commonly known by the name of Pamphihis, in which a person 
of this name gives the history of his amour with Galatea, and which 
commences with the following lines (conveying the idea alluded to by 
Chaucer), — 

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 suo.s. 


His brest was hole withouten for to sene, 

But in his herte ay was the arwe kene ; 

And wel ye wote that of a sursanure 

In surgerie ful perilous is the cure, 

But men myght touche the arwe or come therby. 

His brother wepeth and weyleth prively, 

Til at the last liim fel in remembraimce, 

That whiles he was in Orleaunce in Fraunce, i'-*^'^ 

As yonge clerkes, that ben likerous 

To reden artes that ben curious, 

Seken in every halke and every heme 

Particulere sciences for to lenie, 

He him remembreth, that upon a day 

At Orleaunce in studie a boke lie seye 

Of magik naturel, which his felaw. 

That was that time a bacheler of law, 

Al were he ther to leme another craft. 

Had prively upon his desk y-laft; wuo 

Which book spak moche of operaciouns 

Touchinge the eiglit and twenty mansiouns 

That longen to the mone, and suche folie 

As in oure dayes nys not worth a flye : 

For holy cherches feitli, in oure byleve, 

Ne suffreth non illusioun us to greve. 

And whan this boke was in his remembraunce, 

Anon for joye his herte gan to daunce. 

1 1430 — Orleaunce in Fraunce. There was a cplebrated and very ancient 
university nt Orleans, wliicli I'tll into disrepute as the university of Paris 
became famous, and the rivalry probably led to the imputation that the 
occult sciences were cultivated at Orleans. 


And to liim self he seide prively ; 
" My brother schal be warisshed hastely : m-'*^ 

For I am siker that ther be sciences, 
By which men maken divers apparences, 
Such as this subtil tregetoures pleyn. 
For oft at festes have I wel herd seyn, 
That tregetoures, within an halle large, 
Have made come in a water and a barge, 
And in the halle I'owen up and doun. 
Som time hath semed come a grim lyoun; 
And som time floures springe as in a mede ; 
Som time a vine, and grapes white and rede ; 11460 
Som time a castel al of lime and ston, 
And whan hem liketh voideth it anon : 
Thus semeth it to every mannes sight. 
Now than conclude I thus, if that I might 
At Orleaunce som olde felaw finde, 
That hath this mones mansions in m^Tide, 
Or other magik naturel above, 
He scholde wel make my brother have his love. 
For with an apparence a clerk may make 
To mannes sight, that alle the rokkes blake i'4"0 
Of Breteigne were y-voided everichon, 
And schippes by the brinke comen and gon. 
And in suche forme endure a day or tuo : 
Than were my brother warisshed of his wo, 
Than most sche nedes holden hire behest. 
Or elles he schal schame hire at the lest." 
What schold I make a lenger tale of this ? 
Unto his brothers bedde comen he is. 


And suclie comfort he gaf liim, for to goii 
To Orleaiince, that he up stert anon, Wim 

And on his way forth ward than is he fare, 
In hope for to ben lissed of his care. 
Whan they were come almost to that cite, 
But if it were a tuo furlong or thre, 
A yonge clerke roming by himself they matte. 
Which that in Latine thriftily hem grette. 
And after that he seyd a wonder thinge ; 
" I know," quod he, " the cause of your com^Tige :" 
And er they forther any foote went, 
He told hem al that was in her entent. iMW 

This Breton clerk him asked of felawes. 
The which he had y-knowen in olde dawes ; 
And he answerd him that they dede were. 
For wliich he Avept ful often many a tere. 

Doun of his hors Aurelius light anon, 
And forth mth this magicien is he gon 
Home to his hous, and made him wel at ese : 
Hem lacked no vitaile that might hem plese. 
So wel arraied hous as ther was on, 
Aurelius in his lif saw never non. 11 500 

He schewed him, er they went to soupere, 
Forestes, parkes ful of wilde dere. 
Ther saw he hartes with her homes hee. 
The gretest that were ever seen witli eye. 
He saw of hem an hundred slain with houndes, 
And som with arwes blede of bitter woundes. 
He saw, whan voided were the wilde dere, 
Tliise faukoiicrs upon n fairo rivere, 


That with hir haukes han the heron slein. 

Tho saw he knyhtes justeu in a pleyn. 11510 

And after this he dede him suche plesaunce, 

That he him schewed his lady in a daunce, 

On which him selven daunced, as him thouht. 

And whan this maister, that this magik wrouht. 

Saw it was time, he clapped liis hondes two, 

And fare wel, al the revel is ago. 

And yet remued they never out of the hous. 

Whiles they sawe alle this sightes mervelous ; 

But in his stodie, ther his bokes be, 

They saten stille, and no wight but they thre. ll^^o 

To him this maister called than his squyere, 

And sayde him thus, " May we go to soupere ? 

Almost an houre it is, I undertake, 

Sin I yow bad our soper for to make, 

Wlian that this worthy men wenten with me 

Into my stodie, ther as my bokes be." 

" Sire," quod this squyere, "whan it lyketh you, 
It is al redy, though ye wolde righte now." 

" Go we than soupe," quod he, " as for the best. 
This amorous folk som time moste have rest." 

At after soper fel they in trete 
What somme schold his maisters guerdon be, 
To remue alle the rokkes of Bretaigne, 
And eke fro Gerounde to the mouth of Seine. 
He made it strange, and swore, so God him save, 
Lesse than a thousand pound he wolde nought have, 

11, -535 — Thf lacuna in the Hail. MS. ends with this line. 


Ne gladly for that somme he wolde not goon. 
Aurilius with hlisful hert anoon 
Answerde thus : " Fy on a thousand pound ! 
This wyde world, which that men say is roimd, 1 1-540 
I wold it give, if I were lord of it. 
This bargeyn is ful dryve, for we ben knyt ; 
Ye schal be payed trewly by my trouthe. 
But loketh now, for necligence or slouthe, 
Ye tarie us heer no longer than to morwe." 
"Nay," quod this clerk, "have her my faith to borwe." 
To bed is goon Amilius whan him leste. 
And wel neigh al night he had his reste. 
What for his labour, and his hope of blisse. 
His woful hert of penaunce had a lisse. 11550 

Upon the moi"we, whan that it was day, 
To Breteign take thei the righte way, 
Aiuilius, and this magicien bisyde, 
And ben descendid ther thay wol abyde : 
And this was, as these bookes me remembre, 
The colde frosty seisoun of Decembre. 
Phebus wax old, and hewed lyk latoun. 
That in his hoote declinacioun 
Schon as the burned gold, with stremes bright ; 
But now in Capricorn adoun he light, ii^eo 

Wher as he schon ful pale, I dar wel sayn. 
The bitter frostes with the sleet and rayn 
Destroyed hath the grene in eveiy yerd. 
Janus sit by the fuyr ^^ith double herd. 
And drynketh of his bugle horn the wyn : 
Bifora him stent the braun of toskid s^vyn, 


And noicel crieth every lusty man. 

Aiirilius, in al that ever he can, 

Doth to his maister cliier and reverence, 

And pepieth him to doou his diligence ii-'"*^ 

To bringen him out of his peynes smerte, 

Or with a swerd that he wold slytte his herte. 

This subtil clerk such routhe had of this man, 
That night and day he spedeth him, that he can, 
To wayte a t\nne of his conclusioun ; 
This is to say, to make illusioun. 
By such an apparence of jogelrie, 
(I can no termes of astrologie) 
That sche and every wight schold wene and saye, 
That of Breteygn the rokkes were awaj^e, I'^so 

Or elles they sonken were under the grounde. 
So atte last he hath a tyme i-founde 
To make his japes and his wrecchednesse 
Of such a supersticious cursednesse. 
His tables Tollitanes forth he brought 
Ful wel corrected, ne ther lakked nought. 
Neither his collect, ne his expans yeeres. 
Neither his rootes, ne his other geeres, 
As ben his centris, and his argumentis, 
And his proporcionels convenientis 11590 

11585 — His talks Tollitanes. " The Astronomical Tables, composed 
by order of Alplionso X, king of Castile, about the middle of the xiiith 
century, were called sometimes Tahnla Toklatxe, from their being 
adapted to the city of Toledo. There is a very elegant copy of them in 
MS. Harl. 36 17. I am not sufficiently skilled in ancient astronomy to 
add anything to the e.xplanation of the following technical terms, drawn 
chiefly from those tables, nhich has been given in the Addit. to Gloss. 
Urr." — Tyrwhitl. See our Glossary, under Expans yeebes. 


For her equaciouns in every thing. 

And by his thre speeres in his worching, 

He knew ful wel how fer Allnath was schove 

Fro the heed of thilk fixe Aries above, 

That in the fourthe speere considred is. 

Ful subtilly he calkiled al this. 

Whan he had founde his firste mancioun, 

He knew the remenaunt by proporciouu ; 

And knew the arisyng of this moone wel, 

And in whos face, and terme, and every del ; iieoo 

And knew ful wel the moones mancioun 

Acordaimt to his operacioun ; 

And knew also his other observaunces, 

For suche illusiouns and suche meschaunces, 

As hethen folk used in thilke dayes. 

For which no lenger maked he delayes, 

But thurgh liis magik, for a wike or tweye, 

It semed that the rokkes were aweye. 

Aurilius, which yet dispayred is 
Wher he schal han his love or fare amys, ^^^lo 

Awayteth night and day on this mu'acle : 
And whan he knew that ther was noon obstacle, 
That voyded were these rokkes everichoon, 
Doun to his maistres feet he fel anoon, 
And sayd ; "I wrecched woful Aurilius, 
Thanke you, lord, and my lady Venus, 

11592 — thre. Tyrwhitt, with the MS. Lansd., reads eighte. 
1 1 503 — Allnath. Tlie first star iu the horns of Aries, whence tlie first 
mansion of the moon is named. 

11596 — fourthe. Tyrwhitt, with MS. Lansd., reads ninthc. 

N 2 


That me ban holpe fro my cares colde." 
And to the temple his way forth he hath holde, 
Wher as he knew he schold his lady se. 
And whan he saugh his tyme, anoon right he UQ^o 
With dredful hert and -with ful humble cheere 
Sallied hath his owne lady deere. 
" My soverapi lady," quod this woful man, 
" Whom I most drede, and love, as I can, 
And lothest were of al this world displese, 
Nere it that I for you have such desese, 
That I most deye her at youre foot anoon, 
Nought wold I telle how me is wo bygoon' 
But certes outher most I dye or pleyne ; 
Ye sleen me gulteles for verrey peyne. 11630 

But of my deth though that ye have no routlie, 
Avyseth yow, or that ye breke your trouthe : 
Repenteth yow for thilke God above, 
Or ye me sleen, bycause that I you love. 
For, madame, wel ye woot what ye ban bight ; 
Nat that I chalenge eny thing of right 
Of yow, my soverayn lady, but youre grace ; 
But in a gardyn yonde, at such a place. 
Ye wot right wel what ye byhighte me, 
And in myn bond your trouthe plighte ye, i "5 to 

To love me best ; God Avoot ye sayde so, 
Al be that T unworthy am therto ; 
Madame, I speke it for thonour of yow, 
More than to save myn liertes lif right now : 
I have do so as ye comaunded me. 
And if ye vouchesauf, ye may go se. 


Doth as you list, have youre byheste in myude, 
For quyk or deed, right ther ye sehul me fynde : 
lu yow lith al to do me lyve or deye ; 
But wel I wot the rokkes beu aweye." il&oO 

He taketh liis leve, and sche astoned stood ; 
In alle Mr face nas oon di'op of blood : 
Sche wende never have be in such a trappe. 
" Alias !" quod sche, " that ever this schulde happe ! 
For wend I never by possibilite. 
That such a moustre or merveyl mighte be ; 
It is agayns the proces of nature." 
And hom sche goth a sorwful creature. 
For verray fere unnethe may sche go. 
'Sche wepeth, wayleth al a day or tuo, 11660 

And swowneth, that it routhe was to see : 
But why it was, to no wight tolde sche, 
For out of toune was goon Arviragus. 

But to Mr self sche spak, and sayde thus, 
With face pale, and \\'ith ful sorwful chiere, 

In Mr compleint, as ye schul after hiere. 

"Alias !" quod sche, " on the, fortune, I pleyne, 

That unwar wrapped me hast in thy cheyne, 

Fro which tescape, woot I no socour. 

Save oonly deth, or elles dishonour : U67Q 

Oon of these tuo bihoveth me to chese. 

But natheles, yet have I lever lease 

My lif, than of my body to have schame, 

Or knowe my selve fals, or lese ray name ; 

And witli my deth I may be quyt i-wys. 

Hath ther not many a noble wyf, or this, 


And many a may den, slayn liir self, alias ! 

Rather than ^ith her hody doon trespas ? 

Yis certeynly; lo, stories beren witnes. 

Whan thritty tirauntz ful of cursednes 11680 

Hadde slayn Phidon in Athenes atte fast, 

Thay comaunded his doughtres to arest. 

And brjTigen hem biforn hem in despit 

Al naked, to fulfille her foule delyt ; 

And in her fadres blood they made hem daunce 

Upon the pavyment, God geve hem meschaunce. 

For which these -woful maydens, ful of drede, 

Rather than they -wolde lese her maydenhede, 

They prively ben stert into a welle. 

And drenched hem selfen, as thebookes telle. 11690 

" They of Mecene leet enquere and seeke 
Of Lacidomye fifty maydenes eeke. 
On which thay wolden doon her leccherie : 
But was ther noon of al that companye 
That sche nas slayn, and with a good entente 
Ches rather for to deye, than to assente 
To ben oppressed of hir maydenhede. 
Why schuld I than to deyen ben in dx'ede ? 

" Lo eek the tyraimt Aristoclides, 
That loved a mayden heet Stimphalides, n^oo 

Whan that hir father slayn was on a night, 
Unto Dyanes temple goth sche right, 
And hent the ymage in hir hondes tuo, 
Fro which ymage wold sche never go, 

11679 — stones hertn wilnes. They are all takeu from Hieronymus 
contra Jovmianum, I. i, c. 39. 


No wight might of it hir hondes race, 

Til sche was slayn light in the selve place. 

Now sith that maj'dens hadde such despit 

To ben defouled with mannas foul delit, 

Wei aught a wyf rather hir self to sle, 

Than be defouled, as it thenketh me. ii^io 

" What schal I seyu of Hasdrubaldes wyf, 
That at Cartage byraft hir self the lyf ? 
For whan sche saugh that Romayns wan the toun, 
Sche took hir children alle, and skipte adoun 
Into the fuyr, and ches rather to deye, 
Than eny Romayn dide hir vilonye. 

" Hath nought Lucresse slayn hir self, alias ! 
At Rome, whanue sche oppressid was 
Of Tarqu}Ti ? for hir thought it was a schame 
To lyven, whan sche hadde lost hir name. 11720 

" The seven raaydens of Milesie also 
Han slayn hem self for verray drede and wo, 
Rather than folk of Gawle hem schulde oppresse. 
Mo than a thousand stories, as I gesse, 
Couthe I now telle as touching this matiere. 

" Whan Habradace was slayn, his wif so deere 
Hir selven slough, and leet hir blood to glyde 
In Habradaces woundes, deepe and wyde ; 
And seyde, my body atte leste way 
Ther schal no wight defoulen, if I may. 11 '30 

What schold I mo ensamples herof sayn ? 
Seththeu so many han hem selven slayn 
Wei rather than they wolde defouled be, 
I wol conclude that it is best for nic 


To slen my self than be clefouled thus. 
I wol be trewe unto Arviragus, 
Or rather sle my self in som manere, 
As dede Democionis doughter deere, 
Bycause sche wolde nought defouled be. 
Cedasus, it is ful gret pite ^^"^^^ 

To reden how thy doughteren dyed, alias ! 
That slowe hem self for suche mauer caas. 
As gret a pite was it or wel more, 
The Theban mayden, that for Nichonore 
Hir selven slough, right for such maner wo. 
Another Theban mayden dede right so, 
For oon of Macidone had hir oppressed, 
Sche with hire deth hire maydenhede redressed. 
What schal I sayn of Niceratis wif, 
That for such caas biraft hir self hir lyf ? 11760 

How trewe eek was to Alcebiades 
His love, that for to dyen rather dies, 
Than for to suffre his body unburied be ? 
Lo, which a ^vif was Alceste?" quod sche, 
" What saith Omer of good Penelope ? 
Al Grece knoweth of hir chastite. 
Pardi, of Laodomya is writen thus. 
That whan at Troye was slayn Prothesilaus, 
No lenger wol sche lyve after his day. 
The same of noble Porcia telle I may ; 11760 

Withoute Brutus coude sche not lyve. 
To whom sche had al hool hir herte gyve. 

11701 — The Harl. MS. reads this lint', appiuently incorrectly, wilhoulc 
Brutes kyndc sche myghl not I'jvc. 


The parfyt wyfhod of Artemesye 
Honoured is tliurgli al the Barbaric. 

Teuta queen, thy wifly chastite 
To alle wj'^'es may a mirour be." 

Thus playned Dorigen a day or tweye, 
Piu'posyng ever that sche wolde deye ; 
But uatheles upon the thridde night 
Horn cam Arviragus, the worthy laiight, 11770 

And asked hir why that sche wept so sore : 
And sche gan wepe ever lenger the more. 

" Alias!" quod sche, " that ever was I born ! 
Thus have I sayd," quod sche, "thus have I sworn;" 
And told him al, as ye han herd biforn: 
It nedeth nought reherse it you no more. 

This housbond with glad chiere in good wise 
Answerd and sayde, as I schal you devyse. 

" Is ther aught elles, Dorigen, but this ?" 

" Nay, nay," quod sche, " God me so rede and wis, 11780 
This is to moche, and it were Goddes wille." 

" Ye, wyf," quod he, " let slope that may be stille, 
It may be wcl peraunter yet to day, 
Ye schal j'our trouthe holden, by my fay. 
For God so wisly have mercy on me, 

1 hadde wel lever i-stekid for to be. 

For verray love which that 1 to you have, 

mas— Teuta. Tlie Hail. MS. reads Thcna. 

11766 — Tu alle wives. " After this verse the two following are found 
in several MSS.,— 

The same thing I say oi' Bilia, 
Of Khodogoue and of Valeria. 
Butas they are wanting in MSS. A. C. 1 Ask. 1, 2, HA. I mil iinwiil- 
ing to leave thcni out." — Tyrwhitt, 


But if ye scholde your trouthe kepe and save. 
Troutlie is the heighest thing that men may kepe." 
But with that word he gan anoon to wepe, 11790 

And sayde, " I yow forbede up peyne of deth, 
That never whil ye lasteth lyf or breth, 
To no wight telle you of this aventure. 
As I may best I wil my woo endure. 
Ne make no contenaunce of he\'ynesse, 
That folk of you may deme harm or gesse." 
And forth he cleped a squyer and a mayde. 
" Go forth anoon with Dorigen," he sayde, 
" And bryngeth hir to such a place anoon." 
Thay take her leva, and on her wey they gon : n^oo 
But thay ne wiste why sche thider went, 
He nolde no wight tellen his entent. 

This squyer, wliich that bight Aurilius, 
On Dorigen that was so amorous, 
Of aventure happed hire to mete 
Amyd the toun, right in the quyke strete ; 
As sche was boun to goon the wey forth- right 
Toward the gardyn, ther as sche had liight. 

1 1802 — He nolde. " After Ibis verse Ed. Ca. 2 has the six following : 

Peraventure an hepe of you I wis, 

Will holdcn lura a lowed man in this, 

That he woll put his wife in jeopardie. 

Herkneth the tale, or ye upon him crie. 

Sche may have better fortune than you semetb ; 

And whan that ye han berde the tale demeth. 
These lines are more in the style and manner of Chaucer than interpo- 
lations generally are ; but as I do not remember to have found them in 
any MS. I could not receive them into the text. I think too, that, if they 
were written by him, be would probably, upon more mature consideration, 
have suppressed them, as unnecessarily anticipating the catastrophe of 
the tale." — Tyrwhill. 


And he was to the gardyn-ward also ; 

For wel he spjed whan sche wokle go 11810 

Out of hir hous, to eny maner place. 

But thus thay mette of adventure or grace, 

And he salueth hir with glad entent, 

And askith hire whider-ward sche went. 

And sche answered, half as sche were mad, 
" Unto the gardyn, as myn housbond bad, 

My trouthe for to holde, alias ! alias !" 

Auiilius gau wondren on this caas. 

And in his hert had gret compassiouu 

Of hire, and of hir lamentacioim, 11820 

And of Ar^'iragus the worthy knight. 

That bad hir hold al that sche hadde hight. 

So loth him was his wif schuld breke hir trouthe. 

And in his hert he caught of this gret routhe, 

Consideiyng the best on every syde, 

That fro his lust yet were him lever abyde, 

Than doon so high a cheerlissch wrecchednesse 

Agayns fraunchis of alle gentilesce ; 

For which in fewe wordes sayd he thus. 
'• Madame, saith to your lord Arviragus, ii^3t> 

That sith I se his grete gentilesse 

To you, and eek I se wel your distresse, 

That liim were lever have schame (and that were routhe) 

Than ye to me schulde breke youre trouthe, 

I have wel lever ever to suffre woo, 

Than I departe the love bytwix yow tuo, 

I yow relessc, madame, into your bond 

Quyt every seurement and every Imnd, 


That ye hau maad to me as herbifoni, 

Sith thilke tyme "which that ye were bom. ^ 1840 

My trouthe I plight, I schal yow never repreve 

Of no byhest, and her I take my leve, 

As of the trewest and the bests wif 

That ever yit T laiew in al my lyf. 

But eveiy ^\•yf be war of hir byhest ; 

On Dorigen remembreth atte lest. 

Thus can a squyer doon a gentil dede. 

As wel as can a knyght, withouten drede." 

Sche thanketh him upon hir luiees al bare, 
And hoom unto hir housbond is sche fare, 11850 

And told him al, as ye han herd me sayd : 
And, be ye siker, he was so wel apayd. 
That it were impossible me to write. 
What schuld I lenger of this caas endite ? 
Arviragus and Dorigen his mf 
In sovereyn blisse leden forth here lyf. 
Never eft ne was ther anger hem bytwen ; 
He cherisscheth hir as though sche were a queen, 
And sche was to him trewe for evermore : 
Of these tuo folk ye gete of me nomore. 11860 

Aurilius, that his cost hath al for-lom, 
Curseth the tyme that ever he was born. 
" Alias !" quod he, "alias, that I byhight " 
Of pured gold a thousand pound of wight 
Unto this philosophre ! how schal I doo ? 
I se no more, but that I am for-doo. 
Myn heritage moot I needes selle. 
And ben a begger, her may I not duelle, 


And schamen al my kj^nrede in this place, 

But I of liim may gete better grace. 11870 

But natheles I wol of him assay 

At certeyn dayes yeer by yer to pay, - 

And thanke him of his grete curtesye. 

My trouthe wol I kepe, I wol not lye." 

With herte soor he goth unto his cofre, 

And broughte gold unto this philosophre, 

The value of fyf hundred pound, I gesse. 

And him bysecheth of his gentilesce 

To graunte liim dayes of the remenaunt ; 

And sayde : " Maister, I dar wel make avaunt, usso 

I fayled never of my trouthe as jit. 

For sikerly my dettes schal be quyt 

Towardes yow, how so that ever I fare 

To goon and begge in my kurtil bare : 

But wolde ye vouchesauf upon seiu'te 

Tuo yer or thre for to respite me, 

Than were I weL, for elles most I selle 

Myn hentage, ther is nomore to telle," 
This Philosophre sobrely answerde, 

And seyde thus, whan he these wordes herde ; usdo 
" Have I not holden covenaunt unto the ?" 
" Yis certes, wel and trewely," quod he. 
" Hastow nought had thy lady as the liketh?" 
" No, no," quod he, and sorwfully he siketh. 
" What was the cause ? tel me, if thou can." 

Aurilius his tale anoon bygan. 

And told him al as ye han herd bifore, 

It neodeth nat to you reherse it more. 


He sayde, Arviragus of gentilesse 
Had lever dye in sorwe and in distresse, 11900 

Than that his wyf were of hir trouthe fals. 
The sorwe of Dorigen he tolde him als, 
How loth hir was to beu a mkked wyf, 
And that sche lever had han lost hir lyf ; 
And that hir trouthe sche swor thurgh innocence ; 
Sche never erst hadde herd speke of apparence : 
" That made me han of liir so gret pyte. 
And right as frely as he sente hir to me, 
As frely sent I hir to him agayn : 
This is al and som, tlier is no more to sayn." n^io 
The Philosophre answerde : "Leve brother, 
Everich of yow dede gentilly to other : 
Thow art a squyer, and he is knight, 
But God forbede, for his blisful might. 
But if a clerk couthe doon as gentil dede 
As wel as eny of you, it is no drede. 
Sire, I relesse the thy thousand pound, 
As thou right now were crope out of the ground, 
Ne never er now ne haddest knowen me. 
For, sire, I wil not take a peny of the 11^20 

For al my craft, ne nought for al my travayle : 
Thou hast y-payed wel for my vitayle. 
It is y-nough, and far wel, have good day." 
And took his hors, and forth he goth his way. 
Lordynges, tliis questioun wolde I axe now, 

11908 — And right as. MS. Harl. reads this and the next line, — 
Bycause hir housebond sonte hir to me, 
.'\nd right as Irely sent I liir to him ageyn. 


Which was the moste free, as thiuketh yow ? 
Now telleth me, er that I ferther wende/ 
I can no more, my talc is at an 


The minister and the nonce mato vices, 
Which that men clepe m Englisch ydelnesse, i^^^^o 
The porter at the gates is of delicis ; 
To eschiewe, and by her contrary hire oppresse. 
That is to say, by leful besyuesse, 
Wei oughte we to do al oure entente, 
Lest that the fend thurgh ydelnesse us hente. 

For he that with his thousand cordes slye 
Continuelly us wayteth to byclappe. 
Whan he may man in ydelnes espye. 
He can so lightly cacche him in his trappe. 
Til that a man be hent right by the lappe, 119-10 

He is nought ware the fend hath him in honde : 
Wei oughte we wirche, and ydelnes withstoude. 

11926 — Which teas the mode free. Tyrwhitt remarks that, The same 
question is stated in the conclusion of Buccace's tale. Philoc. 1, v. 
Dubitasi ora qiial di costoro t'usse maggior liberalita, &c. The queen 
determines in favour of the husband." It may be further observed that 
this conclusion of tlie story gives it the character of those questions which 
were usually debated in the medieval courts of love. 

The Sccounde Nonnes Tale. This is almost a literal translation from 
the life of St. Cecilia in the Legcnda Aurea. It appears to have been 
first composed by Chaucer as a separate work, and is enumerated as such 
in the Legcnde of Good Women, 1. 426. In two manuscripts quoted by 
Tyrwhitt, some lines, evidently not by Chancer, are prefixed as an 
Introduction. It may be added that here the HarleianMS. differs from 
Tyrwhitt's edition in the arrangement of the Tales, which renders it 
impossible to continue my original intention of preserving Tyrwhitt's 
numbering of the lines. 


And though men dreclde never for to deye, 
Yet seen men wel by resoun douteles, 
That ydelnes is rote of sloggardye, 
Of which ther cometh never good encres ; 
And sin that slouth he holdeth in a lees, 
Oonly to sleep, and for to ete and drynke. 
And to devoure al that other swynke. 

And for to put us from such ydelnes, U^-^O 

That cause is of so gret confusioun, 
I have her doon my faithful busynes 
After the legende in translacioun 
Right of this glorious lif and passioun, 
Thou with thi garlond, wrought with rose and lylye. 
The mene I, mayde and martir Cecilie. 

And thou, that flour of \drgines art alio. 
Of whom that Bernard lust so wel to write, 
To the at my bygjamyng first I calle : 
Thou comfort of us wrecches, do me endite ii^*50 
Thy maydenes deth, that wan thurgh hire merite 
Thetemal lif, and of the feend victorie. 
As man may after reden in hir storie. 

Thou mayde and moder, doughter of thi sone, 
Thow welle of mercy, synful soules cure. 
In whom that God of bountes chees to wone ; 
Thou humble and heyh over every creature, 
Thow nobelest so ferforth oure nature, 
That no disdeyn the maker had of kynde 
His sone in blood and fleissh to clothe and wynde. 11970 

11958 — Bernard. Some of the most eloquent of the serrnons of St. 
Bernard are on the nativity and assuinption of the Virgin. 


Withinne the clojster of thi blisful sydes, 
Took marines scliap the eternal love and pees, 
That of the trine compas lord and guyde is, 
Whom erthe, and see, and heven out of relees 
Ay herien ; and thou, virgine wemmeles, 
Bar of thy body, and dwellest maydeu pure. 
The creatour of every creature. 

Assembled is in tlie magnificence 
With mercy, goodnes, and with such pitee, 
That thou, that art the soime of excellence, 11980 
Not oonly helpist hem that prayen the. 
But often tyme of thy benignite 
Ful frely, er that men tliin help biseche, 
Thou gost bifoni, and art her lyfes leche. 

Now help, thou meke and blisful faire mayde. 
Me flemed wrecche, in this desert of galle ; 
Thenk on the womman Cananee, that sayde 
That whelpes ete some of the crommes alle 
That fi'om her lordes table ben i-falle ; 
And though that I, unworthy sone of Eve, ii*'^o 

Be synful, yet accepte my bileve. 

And for that faith is deth withouten werkis. 
So for to w'erken give we witt and space, 
That I be quit fro thennes tliat most derk is ; 
thou, that art so fair and ful of grace, 
Be myn advocat in that hihe place, 
Ther as withouten ende is songe Osanne, 
Thou Cristes moder, doughter deere of Anne. 

11987 — the womman Cniwncc. The Harl. MS. roaris erroneo'isly Ihr 
womman Canace. 


And of tlii light my soule in prisoun light, 
That troubled is by the contagioiui 12000 

Of my body, and also by the wight 
Of everich lust and fals affeccioun : 
haven of refuyt, salvacioun 
Of hem that ben in sorwe and in destresse, 
Now help, for to my werk I wil me dresse. 

Yet pray I you that reden that I write, 
Forgeve me, that I doo no diligence 
This ilke story subtilly to endite. 
For bothe have I the wordes and sentence 
Of him, that at the seintes reverence ^^oio 

The story wroot, and folwen hir legende, 
And pray yow that ye wol my werk amende. 

First wol I yow the name of seint Cecilie 
Expoime, as men may in liir story se : 
It is to say on Englisch, hevenes lilie, 
For pure chastenesse of ^^.rginite, 
Or for sche witnesse hadde of honeste 
And grene of conscience, and of good fame 
The soote savour, lilie was hir name. 

Or Cecile is to say, the way of blynde, 12020 

For sche ensample was by way of techynge ; 
Or elles Cecily, as I writen fynde, 
Is joyned by a maner conjoynynge 
Of heven and lya, and here in figurynge 
The heven is sette for thought of holynesse. 

12013 — the name. These punning explanations of proper names were 
very fashionable in the Middle Ages. In the present instance, they are 
translated directly from tlie prologue to the Latin legend. 


And Uja, for hir lastyng besynesse. 

Cecili may eek be seyd in this manere, 
Wantyng of blyndnes, for hir grete light 
Of sapience, and of thilke thewes cleere. 
Or elles lo, this maydenes name bright 12030 

Of heven and los comes, for which by right 
Men might hir wel the heven of peple calle, 
Ensample of goode and wise werkes alls : 

For leos peple in Englissh is to say ; 
And right as men may in the heven see 
The soime and moone, and sterres every way. 
Plight so men gostly, in this mayden free 
Seen of faith the magnanimite. 
And eek the denies hool of sapience, 
And sondry werkes, bright of excellence. I2040 

And right so as these philosofres wryte, 
That heven is swyft and round, and eek brennynge, 
Plight so was faire Cecily the whyte 
Ful swyft and besy ever in good werkynge, 
And romid and liool in good perseverynge, 
And brennyng ever in charite ful bright : 
Now have I yow declared what sche liight. 

This mayden bright Cecilia, as hir lyf saith, 
Was comen of Romayns and of noble kynde. 
And from hir cradel fostred in the faith 12050 

Of Crist, and bar his Gospel in hir mynde ; 
Sche never cessed, as I writen fynde, 
Of hire prayer, and God to love and drede, 
Byseching him to kepe hir maydenliede. 

And whan this mayde schuld unto ii man 



Y-wedded be, that was ful yong of age, 

Which that i-cleped was Valirian, 

And day was comen of hir mariage, 

Sche ful devout and humble in hir currage, 

Under hir robe of gold, that sat ful faire, 1206O 

Hadde next hir fleissh i-clad hir in an heire. 

And whil the organs made melodie, 
To God alloon in herte thus sang sche ; 

" Lord, my soule and eek my body gye 
Unwemmed, lest that I confounded be." 
And for his love that deyde upon a tre. 
Every secound or thridde day sche faste. 
Ay biddyng in hire orisouns ful faste. 

The nyght cam, and to bedde most sche goon 
With hir housbond, as oft is the manere, 12070 

And prively to him sche sayde anoon ; 

" swete and wel biloved spouse deere, 
Ther is a counseil, and ye wold it lieere, 
Which that right fayn I wold unto you saye, 
So that ye swere ye sehul it not bywraye." 

Valirian gan fast unto hir swere, 
That for no caas ne thing that mighte be, 
He scholde never mo bywreye hire ; 
And thanne at erst thus to him sayde sche : 

" I have an aungel which that loveth me, 1208O 

That with gret love, wher so I wake or slepe. 
Is redy ay my body for to kepe ; 

" And if that he may felen, out of drede, 

12083. This line has been omitted by the scribe of the Harl. MS., the 
next line there commencing If ye me louche. 


That ye me touche or love in vilonye, 

He right anoon wil sle you with the dede, 

And in youre youthe thus schulde ye dye. 

And if that ye in clene love me gye, 

He vfol yow love as me, for your clennesse, 

And schewe to you his joye and his brightnesse." 

Valirian, corrected as God wolde, '2090 

Answerde agayn : " If I schal truste the, 
Let me that aungel se, and him biholde ; 
And if that it a verray aungel he, 
Than wol I doon as thou hast prayed me ; 
And if thou love another man, forsothe 
Right vdth this swerd than wol I slee you bothe." 

Cecilie answerd anoon light in this wise ; 
" If that 30W list, the aungel schul ye see, 
So that ye trowe on Crist, and you baptise ; 
Goth forth to Via Apia," quod sche, 12100 

" That fro this toun ne stant but myles thre. 
And to the pore folkes that ther duelle 
Saith hem right thus, as that I schal you telle. 

" Tell hem, I Cecilie yow unto hem sent. 
To schewen yow the good Urban the olde. 
For secre needes, and for good entente ; 
And whan that ye seint Urban ban byholde, 
Tel him the wordes which that I to yow tolde ; 
And whan that he hath purged you fro synne, 
Than schul ye se that aungel er ye twynne." 12110 

Valirian is to the place y-goon, 
And right as him was taught by his lernynge, 
lie fond this holy old Urban anoon 


Among the seyntes buriels lotynge : 
And he anoon withoute taryinge 
Did his message, and whan that he it tolde, 
Urban for joye his handes gan uphokle. 

The teres from his eyghen let he falle ; 
" Almyghty Lord, o Jhesu Crist," quod he, 
" Sower of chaste counseil, herde of us alle, 12120 

The fruyt of thilke seed of chastite 
That thou hast sowe in Cecilie, tak to the : 
Loo, like a busy bee withouten gyle 
The serveth ay thin owTie thral Cecile. 

" For thilke spouse, that sche took right now 
Ful lyk a fers lyoun, sche sendeth here 
As meek as ever was euy lamb to yow." 
And with that word anoon ther gan appere 
An old man, clad in white clothes clere. 
That had a book with lettres of gold in honde, 12130 
And gan to-forn Valiriau to stonde. 

Valirian, as deed, fyl doun for drede. 
Whan he him say ; and he him up hente tho. 
And on his book right thus he gan to rede ; 
" On Lord, feith, oon God withouten mo. 
On Cristendom. and oon fader of alle also, 
Aboven alle, and over alle every where :" 
This wordes al with golde writen were. 

Whan this was red, than seide this olde man. 

12114 — lotynge. The Latin legend has, inter sepulchra martyrum 
latitantem invenit. 

12138—12144. These lines are omitted in MS. Harl. by the inad- 
vertence of the scribe. 


" Levest thou this thing or uo ? say ye or naye." 12U0 

" I leve al this thing," quod Valiriau, 

" For sother thing than this, I dare wel saye, 

Under the heven no wight thenken maye." 

Tho vanysched the old man, he nyste where, 

And pope Urban him cristened right there. 
Valiiian goth home, and fint Cecilie 

Withinne his chambre \\ith an aungel stonde : 

This aungel had of roses and of lilie 

Corounes tuo, the which he bar in honde. 

And first to Cecilie, as I understonde, 12150 

He gaf that oon, and after can he take 

That other to Valirian hir make. 

" With body clene, and with unwemmed thought, 

Kepeth ay wel these corouns tuo," quod he, 
" Fro paradys to you I have hem brought, 

Ne never moo ne schul they roten be, 

Ne leese here swoote savour, trusteth me, 

Ne never wight schal seen hem with his ye, 

But he be chast, and hate vilonye. 

" And thou Yalirian, for thou so soone 1216O 

Assentedist to good couuseil, also 

Say what the list, and thou schalt have thi booue." 
" I have a brother," quod Valiriau tho, 
" That in this world I love no man so, 

I pray yow that my brother may have grace 

To knowe the trouthe, as I doo in this place." 
The aungel sayde, " Grod liketh thy request, 

And bothe with the palmc of martirdoni 


Ye schullen come unto his blisful feste." 

And with that word, Tiburce his brother com. I'-^^^o 

And whan that he the savour undernom, 

Which that the roses and the liHes cast, 

Withinne his hert he gan to woudre fast. 

And sayde, " I wondre this tyme of the yer, 
Whennes this soote savour cometh so 
Of rose and hhes, that I smelle her ; 
For though I had hem in myn hondes tuo, 
The savour might in me no depper go : 
The swete smel, that in myn hert I fynde, 
Hath chaunged me al in another kynde." 12180 

Vahrian sayd, " Tuo corouns have we, 
Snow-whyt and rose-reed, that schinen cleere, 
Whiche that thine eyghen han no might to see : 
And as thou smellest hem thurgh my prayere. 
So schalt thou seen hem, lieve brothere deere, 
If it so be thou wilt withouten slouthe 
Bilieven aright, and knowen verray trouthe." 
Tyburce answerde, " Says thou thus to me 
In sothenes, or in drem I herkne this ?" 
" In dremes," quod Vahrian, " han we be 12190 

Unto this tyme, brother myn, i-wys : 
But now at erst in trouthe oure duellyng is." 
' ' How west thou tliis, " quod Tyburce, ' ' and in what wise ?" 

12169 — blis/ul feste. This is the reading of the Harl. ami Lansd. MSS. 
The words of the Latin legend are, — Cui angelus, Placet Domino petitio 
tua, et ambo cum palma inartyrii ad Dominum venietis. Tyrwhitt 
reads, rest. 


Quod Valirian, " That sclial I the devyse. 

" The aungel of God hath me trouthe y-taught, 
Which thou schalt seen, if that thou wilt reneye 
The ydols, and be clene, and elles nought." 
And of the miracles of these corones tweye 
Seynt Ambrose in his prefas list to seye ; 
Solempnely this noble doctour deere 12200 

Comeudeth it, and saith in this maneere. 

" The palme of martirdom for to receyve, 
Seynt Cecilie, fulfilled of Goddes gifte, 
The world and eek hir chamber gan sche weyve ; 
Witnes Tyburces and Cecilies shrifte, 
To whiche God of his bounte wolde schifte 
Corounes tuo, of floures wel smellynge, 
And made his aungel home the crouue brynge." 

The mayde hath brought this men to blisse above ; 
The world hath wist what it is worth certeyn, 122IL 
Devocioun of chastite to love. 
The schewed him Cecilie al open and pleyn, 
That alle ydoles nys but thing in veyn ; 
For thay ben doumbe, and therto they ben deve, 
And chargeth him his ydoles for to leve. 

" Who so that troweth not this, a best he is," 
Quod this Tyburce, "• if that I schal not lye." 
And sche gan Idsse his brest that herde this. 
And was ful glad he couthc trouthe espye : 
' This day I take the for myn allye," 12220 

12198. The linos wliicli follow, and which inteiTiipt the narration 
very awkwarrlly, arc translated almost literally from the Latin legend, in 
which Tyrwhitt supposes them to have been originally an interpolation. 


Sayde this blisful faire mayde deere ; 
And after that sche sayde as ye may heere. 
" Lo, right so as the love of Crist," quod sche, 

" Made me thy brotheres "wyf, right in that Avyse 
Anoon for myn allye heer take I the. 
Sin that thou wilt thyne ydoles despise. 
Go vdth thi brother now and the baj^tise. 
And make the clene, so that thou mowe biholde 
The aungeles face, of which thy brother tolde." 

Tyburce answerde, and sayde, "Brother dere, 12230 
First tel me whider I schal, and to what man." 

" To whom?" quod he, "com forth mth good cheere, 
I wol the lede unto the pope Urban." 

" Til Urban? brother myn Valirian," 
Quod Tiburce, " wilt thou me thider lede? 
Me thenketh that it were a wonder dede. 
" Ne menist thou nat Urban," quod he tho, 

" That is so ofte dampned to the deed, 
And woneth in halkes alway to and fro. 
And dar nought oones putte forth his heed ? 12240 
Men schold him brenne in a fuyr so reed, 
If he were founde, or if men might him spye. 
And we also to here him companye. 

"And whil we seken thilke divinite, 
That is i-hyd in heven prively, 
Algate i-brent in this world schuld we be." 
To whom Cecilie answerde boldely, 

12237 — Ne menisl. De illo Urbauo dicis, ijtii totieus (luinuutiis est, et 
adhiic iu latebris coinmoratur ? — Lai. Leg. 

122^7— boldely. The Hail. MS reads, bodylij. 


Meu migliten drecleii wel and skilfully 

This lyf to lese, myn oughne dere brother, 

If this were lyvyng oonly and noon other. 12250 

" But ther is better lif in other place, 
That never schal be lost, ne drede the nought : 
Which Goddes sone us tolde thurgh his grace. 
That fadres sone that alle thing hath -wrought ; 
And al that wrought is with a skilful thought, 
The gost, that from the fader gan precede, 
Hath sowled hem withouten eny drede. 

" By word and mii'acle liihe Goddes sone, 
Whan he was in this world, declared heere. 
That ther was other lyf ther men may wone." 12260 
To whom answerde Tyburce, " suster deere, 
Ne seydest thou right now in tliis manere, 
Ther nys but oon God, Lord, in sothfastnesse, 
And now of thre how may stow here witnesse ?" 

" That schal I telle," quod sche, " er that I go. 
Right as a man hath sapiences thre, 
Memorie, engin, and intellect also, 
So in 00 being in divinite 
Thre persones may ther right wel be." 
Tho gan sche him ful besily to preche 12270 

Of Cristes come, and of his peynes teche. 

13266 — sapiences thre. In the original Latin it is, Respondit Cecilia, 
Sicut in una homiuis sapientia sunt tria, scilicet ingcnium, memona, et 
intellectus, sic in una ilivinitatis esstntiii tres personaj esse possent. In 
1. 15807, tlieHarl. MS reads erroneously eijen for engin. 

12271 — come. So the Harl. MS., correctly. In the Lat. legend it is. 
Tunc eepit ei de adventu filii Dei et passions pricdicare. Tyrwhitt reads 


And many pointes of his passioun ; 
How Goddes sone in this world was withholde 
To doon mankynde pleyn remissioun, 
That was i-boimde in syune and cares colde. 
Al this thing sche unto Tj-burce tolde, 
And after this Tiburce in good entente, 
With Valirian to pope Urban he wente, 

That thanked God, and with glad hert and light 
He cristened him, and made him in that place 1228O 
Parfyt in his lernynge, Goddes loiyght. 
And after this Tiburce gat such grace. 
That every day he say in tyme and space 
The aungel of God, and every maner boone 
That he God asked, it was sped ful soone. 

It were ful hard by ordre for to sayne 
How many wondres Jesus for hem wroughte ; 
But atte last, to tellen schort and plajTie, 
The sergeantz of the toun of Rome hem soughte. 
And hem byforn Almache the prefect broughte, 12290 
Which hem apposed, and Imew alle here entente, 
And to the ymage of Jubiter hem sente ; 

And saide, " Who so wil not sacrifise, 
Swope of his heved, this my sentence heere." 
Anoon these martires, that I you de\'yse, 
Oon Maximus, that was an officere 
Of the prefectes, and his corniculere. 
Hem lient, and whan he forth the seyntes ladde. 
Him self he wept for pite that he hadde. 

12297 — contiritkri'. Tlie Hail. IMS. lias cowiceilerc. 


Whan Maximus had herd the seintes lore, 12300 
He gat him of his tonnentoures leve, 
And bad hem to his hous withouten more ; 
And with her preching, er that it were eve, 
Thay gonue fro the tormentoures to reve. 
And fro Maxime, and fro his folk echoone, 
The false faith, to trowe in God alloone. 

CeciHe cam, whan it was waxen night, 
With prestis, that hem cristenid alle in feere ; 
And afterward, whan day was waxen light, 
Cecilie hem sayde with a ful stedefast chere ; 12310 
' Now, Cristes owne knyghtes leef and deere, 
Cast al away the werkes of derknes, 
And armith you in armur of brightnes. 

" Ye han forsothe y-doon a greet batayle ; 
Youre cours is doon, youre faith han ye conserved ; 
Goth to the coroun of lyf that may not fayle ; 
The rightful jugge, which that ye han served, 
Schal geve it yow, as ye han it deserved." 
And whan this tiling was sayd, as I devyse, 
Men ladde hem forth to doon the sacrifise, 123'20 

But whan they were to the place y-brought, 
To telle schortly the conclusioun. 
They nolde encense, ne sacrifice right nought, 
But on her knees they setten hem adoun. 
With humble hert and sad devocioun, 
And leften bothe her heedes in that place ; 
Here soules wenten to the king of grace. 

]2302 — had. Tyrwliitt reads lad ; and the Lansd. MS. has hadde. 


This Maximus, that say this tiling betyde, 
With pitous teeres tolde it anoon right, 
That he here soules saiigh to heven glyde 12330 

With aungels, ful of clernes and of hght ; 
And with his word converted many a wight. 
For which Almachius dede him so bete, 
With wliippes of leed, til he his lif gan lete. 

Cecilia him took, and buried him anoon 
By Tiburce and Valirian softely, 
Withinne hire berieng place, under the stoon. 
And after this Almachius hastily 
Bad his ministres fecchen openly 
Cecilie, so that sche might in his presence 12340 

Doon sacrifice, and Jubiter encense. 

But they, converted at hir wise lore, 
Wepten ful sore, and gaven ful credence 
Unto hir word, and cryden more and more ; 

" Crist, Goddes sone, withouten difference, 
Is verray God, this is al oui'e sentence, 
That hath so good a servaunt him to seiTe : 
Thus with oon vois we trowen though we sterve." 

Almachius, that herd of this dojTige, 
Bad fecchen Cecilie, that he might hir se : 123.30 

And alther-first, lo, this was his axiuge ; 

''• What maner womman art thou ?" quod he. 

" I am a gentil-womman bom," quod sche. 

" T axe the," quod he, " though the it greve, 

12333 — .10 Me. The Lansd. MS has so io-bele, and Tyrwhitt adopts 
dede him tnbete. 

12334. — tvhippes of leed. Eum plumbatis tamdiu csedi fecit quousque 
.^piritum exciissit. — Lat. Leg. 


Of tbi religioun and of tlii byleve." 

" Ye hau bygonne your questioun folily," 
Quod sche, " that woldeu tuo answers conclude 
In 00 demaunde? ye axen lewedly." 
Almacbe answerde to that similitude, 
" Of whens cometh thin answering so rude ?" 13360 
" Of whens?" quod sche, whan she was i-freyned, 
" Of conscience, and of good faith unfeyned." 
Almachius sayde, " Takest thou noon heede 
Of my power ?" and sche answerde him this ; 
" Youre might," quod sche, " ful litel is to drede; 
For every mortal mannes power nys 
But lyk a bladder ful of wynd i-wis : 
For with a uedeles poynt, whan it is blowe, 
May al the host of it be layd ful lowe." 

" Ful wrongfully bygonnest thou," quod he, 12370 
" And yet in wrong is thy perseveraunce : 
Wostow nought how cure mighty princes fre 
Han thus comaunded and maad ordinaunce, 
That every cristen wight schal ban penaunce ; 
But if that he his Cristendom withseye. 
And goon al quyt, if he wil it reneye ?" 

" Youre princes erre, as youre nobleye doth," 
Quod tho Cecilia ; " and with a wood sentence 
Ye make us gulty, and it is nought soth : 
For ye that knowen wcl oure iimocence, 12380 

Forasmo(;he as we doon ay reverence 
To Crist, and for we here a Cristen name. 
Ye putten on us a crim and eek a blame. 
" But we that knowen thilke name so 


For vertuous, we may it not witliseye." 

Almache sayde, " Cheese oon of these tuo, 

Do sacrifice or Cristendom reneye, 

That thou mow now eschapen by that weye." 

At which the holy Llisful faire mayde 

Gan for to laughe, and to the jugge sayde: iisoo 

" O jugge confus in this nycete, 
Wilt thou that I refuse innocence ? 
To make me a wikked wight," quod sche, 
" Lo, he dissimuleth heer in audience, 
He starith and woodith in his advertence." 
To whom Almachius sayde, " Unsely wrecche, 
Ne wostow nought how fer my might may strecche ? 

"Han nought our mighty princes to me y-gTN^en, 
Ye, bothe power and eek auctorite 
To maken folk to deyen or to lyven ? 12400 

Why spekestow so proudly than to me ? " 
" I sj)eke not but stedefastly," quod sche, 
" Nought proudly, for I say, as for my syde, 
We haten deedly thilke vice of pryde. 

" And if thou drede nought a soth to heere. 
Than wol I schewe al openly by right, 
That thou hast maad a ful greet lesyng heere. 
Thou saist, thy princes han i-give the might 
Bothe for to sleen and eek to quike a ■\right, 
Thou that ne maist but oonly lif byreve, 12410 

Thou hast noon other i)ower ne no leve. 

" But thou maist sayn, tin princes han the maked 
Minister of deth : for if thou sj)eke of moo, 
Thow liest ; for thy power is ful naked." 


" Do way thy leweclnes," sayd Almachius tlio, 
" And sacrifice to cure goddes, er thou go. 
I recche nought what wrong that thou me profre, 
For I can suffre it as a philosophre. 

"But thilke wronges may I not endure, 
That thou spekis of oure goddis her," quod he. 12420 
Cecilie answered, " nice creature, 
Thou saydest no word sins thou spak to me, 
That I ne knew therwith thy nicete, 
And that thou were in every maner \vise 
A lewed officer, a vein justise. 

" Ther lakketh no thing to thin outer eyen 
That thou art blynde ; for thing that we seen alle 
That it is stoon, that men may wel aspien. 
That ilke stoon a god thou wilt it calle. 
I rede the, let thin hond upon it falle, 12130 

And tast it wel, and stoon thou schalt it fynde, 
Sith that thou seest not with thin eyghen blynde. 

" It is a schame that the poeple schal 
So scorne the, and laughe at tlii folye : 
For comunly men woot it wel over al. 
That mighty God is in liis heven hye ; 
And these ymages, wel thou mayst espie, 
To the ne to hem self may nought profyte. 
For in effect they hen nought worth a myte." 

Tliise wordes and such other sayde sche ; 12440 
And he wax wroth, and bad men schold hir Icde 
Horn to hir hous; "And in hir hous," quod he, 

12415 — lewcdncs. The Lansd MS, reads holdenes. 



" Brenne bir right in a bath of flammes rede." 
And as he bad, right so was doon the dede ; 
For in a bath thay gonne hir faste schetten, 
And nyght and day greet fuyr they under betten. 

The longe night, and eek a day also, 
For al the fuyr, and eek the bathes hete, 
Sche sat al cold, and felte of it no woo. 
It made hir not oon drope for to swete. 12450 

But in that bath hir lif sche moste lete ; 
For he Almachius, with ful wikke entente, 
To sleen hir in the bath his sondes sente. 

Thre strokes in the nek he smot hir tho 
The tormentour, but for no maner chaunce 
He might nought smyte hir faire necke a-tuo. 
And for ther was that tyme an ordinaunce 
That no man scholde do man such penaunce 
The ferthe strok to smyten, softe or sore, 
This tormentour ne dorste do no more; 1216O 

But half deed, with hir nekke corven there 
He laft hir lye, and on his way he went. 
The cristen folk, which that about hir were. 
With scheetes ban the blood ful faire y-hent : 
Thre dayes lyved sche in this torment, 
And never cessed hem the faith to teche, 
That sche had fostred hem, sche gan to preche. 

And hem sche gaf hir moebles and hir thing, 
And to the pope Urban bytook hem tho, 
And s&jA, " I axe this of heven kyng, 12470 

12iG7—foslr€d. The Hail. MS. has suffred. 


To have i-espit thre dayes and uo mo, 
To recomende to yow, er that I go, 
These soules lo, and that I mighte do ^Yivche 
Heer of myn hous pei"petuelly a chirche." 
Se}Tit Urban, ^\ith his dekenes prively 
The body fette, and buried it by nighte 
Among his other seyntes honestely. 
Hir hous the chirch of seynt Cecily yit highte ; 
Seynt Urban halwed it, as he ^vel mighte ; 
In which into this day in noble wyse 12480 

Men doon to Crist and to his seint ser\dse. 


Whan ended was the lif of seynt Cecile, 
Er we fully had riden fv^ve myle. 
At Boughtoun under Blee us gan atake 
A man, that clothed was in clothes blake. 
And under that he had a whit sui-plice. 
His hakeney, that was a pomely grice, 
So swete, that it wonder was to se. 
It semed he hadde priked myles thre. 
The hors eek that his yyman rood upon, 12490 

So swette, that unnethes might he goon. 
Aboute the peytrel stood the foom ful hye. 
He was of foom as flekked as a pye. 
A male tweyfold on his croper lay, 
It semed that he caried litel array, 
Al light for somer rood this worthy man. 
And in myn herte wondren I bigan 


What that he -was, til that I understood, 

How that his cloke was sowed unto his hood ; 

For which whan I long had avysed me, 12500 

I demed him som chanoun for to be. 

His hat lieng at his bak doun by a laas, 

For he had riden more than trot or paas, 

He had i-pryked lik as he were wood. 

A cloote-leef he had under his hood 

For swoot, and for to kepe his heed from hete. 

But it was joye for to se him swete; 

His forhed dropped as a stillatorie 

Were ful of plantayn and of peritoiie. 

And whanne that he was com, he gan to crie, 12510 

" God save," quod he, " this joly compaignye ! 
Fast have I priked," quod he, " for your sake, 
Bycause that I wolde you atake. 
To lyden in this mery companye." 

His yeman eek was ful of curtesye. 
And seid, " Sires, now in the moi-we tyde 
Out of your ostelry I saugh you ryde. 
And warned heer mj' lord and soverayn, 
Which that to ryden with yow is ful fajTi, 
For his desport; he loveth daliaunce." 12520 

" Frend, for thy warnyng God geve the good chaunce," 
Sayde oui'e host, " for certes it wolde seme 
Thy lord were wys, and so I may wel deme ; 
He is ful jocound also dar I leye : 
Can he ought telle a mery tale or tweye. 
With which he glade may this companye ? " 
" Who, sire ? mv lord ? Ye, ye, withoute lye, 


He can of merthe and eek of jolite 

Not but y-nough ; also, sir, tmsteth me, 

And ye liim knewe as wel as do I, 12530 

Ye wolde wonder how wel and thriftily 

He couthe werke, and that in sondiy wise. 

He hath take on him many sondry emprise, 

"WHiich were ful hard for eny that is heere 

To bringe aboute, but thay of him it leere. 

As homely as he ryt amonges yow, 

If ye him knewe, it wolde be your prow : 

Ye nolde nought for-gon his acqueyntaunce 

For moche good, I dar lay in balaunce 

Al that I have in my possessioun. 12540 

He is a man of heigh discressioun, 

I wame yow wel, he is a passyng man." 

"Wel," quod our oost, " I pray the, tel me than. 
Is he a clerk, or noon ? tel what he is." 
" Nay, he is gretter than a clerk i-wis," 
Sayde this yyman, " and in wordes fewe, 
Ost, of his craft somwhat I wil you schewe. 
I say, my lord can such a subtilite, 
(But al his craft ye may nought vnie of me, 
And somwhat helpe I yit to his worchynge), 12550 
That al this ground on which we ben ridynge 
Til that we comen to Caunterbury toun. 
He couthe al clone turnen up so doun. 
And pave it al of silver and of gold." 

And whan this ycman haddc thus i-told 
Unto oure oost, he seydc, '■'■ Bcncdicilcl 


This thing is wonder merveylous to me, 

Syn that this lord is of so heigh prudence, 

Bycause of which men schuld him reverence, 

That of his worschip rekketh he so lite ; 12560 

His over slop it is not worth, a myte 

A.S in effect to him, so mot I go ; 

It is al bawdy and to-tore also. 

Why is tlii lord so slottisch, I the preye, 

And is of power better clothis to beye, 

If that his dede accorde with thy speche ? 

Telle me that, and that I the biseche." 

" Why ?" quod this yiman, " wherto axe ye me? 

God help me so, for he schal never the, 

(But I wol nought avowe what I say, 12570 

And therfor kep it secre I yow pray) 

He is to wys in faith, as I bileve. 

Thing that is over-don, it wil nought preve 

Aright, as clerkes sein, it is a vice ; 

Wherfore in that I holde him lowed and uyce. 

For whan a man hath over-greet a witte, 

Ful ofte him happeth to mysusen itte : 

So doth my lord, and that me greveth sore. 

God it amende, I can say now nomore." 
" Therof no fors, good yeman," quod oure ost, 12580 
" Syn of the counyng of thi lord thou wost, 

Tel how he doth, I pray the hertily. 

Sin that he is so crafty and so sly. 

Wher dwell en ye, if it to telle be ?" 
" In the subarbes of a toun," quod lie, 


" Lurkiug in liirues and in laues bljTicle, 

Wher as these robbours and these theves by kynde 

Holden here prive ferful residence, 

As thay that dor nought schewen her presence ; 

So faren we, if I schal say the sothe." ^2590 

" Now," quod cure ost, " yit let me talke to the ; 

Why artow so discoloui'ed on thy face ?" 
•' Peter ! " quod he, " God give it harde grace, 

I am so used the fuyr to blowe. 

That it hath chaunged my colour I trowe ; 

I am not wont in no mirour to prie, 

But s^vynke sore, and leme to multiplie. 

We blondren ever, and pouren in the fuyr, 

And for al that we faile of oui'e desir. 

For ever we lacken oure conclusioun. 12000 

To moche folk we ben illusioun, 

And borwe gold, be it a poimd or tuo, 

Or ten or twelve, or many sommes mo. 

And make hem wenen atte leste weye, 

That of a pound we conne make tweye. 

Yit is it fals ; and ay we han good hope 

It for to doon, and after it we grope : 

But that science is so fer us bifoni. 

We mowen nought, although we had it sworn. 

It overtake, it slyt away so fast ; 12610 

It wol us make beggers atte last." 

Whil this yeman was thus in his talkyng, 

This Chanoun drough him ner and herd al thing 

Which that this yiman spak, for suspeccioun 

Of mennes speche ever haddc this Chanoun : 


For Catoun saith, tlaat he that gulty is, 

Demeth al thing be spoke of him, i-wis : 

By cause of that he gan so neigh to drawe 

His yeman, that he hercle al his sawe ; 

And thus he sayd unto his yeman tho : 12620 

" Hold now thi pees, and spek no wordes mo : 

For if thou do, thou schalt it deere abye. 

Thow sclaundrest me here in this companye, 

And eek discoverest that thou schuldest hide." 
" Ye," quod oiu'e ost, " tel on, what so bytyde; 

Of alle this thretyng recche the nought a myte." 
" In faith," quod he, " no more do I but lite." 

And whan tliis Chanoun seih it wold not be, 

But his yeman wold telle his privete. 

He fledde away for verray soi'we and schame. 12C30 
" A !" quod the yeman, " her schal arise game : 

Al that I can anoon now wol I telle, 

Sin he is goon ; the foule feend him quelle ! 

For never herafter wol I with him meete 

For peny ne for pound, I wol byheete. 

He that me broughte first unto that game, 

Er that he deye, sorwe have he and schame ! 

For it is emest to me, by my faith ; 

That fele I wel, whfit so eny man saith; 

And yet for al my smert, and al my greef, ^2640 

For al my sorwe, and labour, and mescheef. 

12616 — Caloun saith. The allusion is to Cato de Morib. lib. i, dis- 
tich 17,— 

Ne cures si quis tacito scrmonc loqnatur ; 
Conscins ipse sibi <lc sc putat niimia 'lici. 


I couthe never leve it in no wise. 

Now wolde God my wyt mighte suffise 

To tellen al that longeth to that art ; 

But natheles, yet wil I telle yow part ; 

Sill that my lord is gooii, I wol nought spare, 

Such tiling as that I knowe, I wol declare. 

" With this Chanoun I duelled have seven yer, 
And of his science am I never the ner : 
Al that I hadde, I have lost therby, 12650 

And God wot, so hath many mo than I. 
Ther I was wont to be right freisch and gay 
Of clothing, and of other good array, 
Now may I were an hose upon myn heed ; 
And where my colour was bothe freissch and reed. 
Now it is wan, and of a ledeii hewe, 
(Who so it useth, sore schal he rewe); 
And of my swynk yet blended is myn ye ; 
Lo ! such avauntage it is to multiplie ! 
That slydynge science had me made so bare, '2660 
That I have no good, wher that ever I fare ; 
And yit I am endetted so therby 
Of gold, that I have borwed trewely, 
That whil I lyve schal I quite never ; 
Lat every man be war by me for ever. 
What maner man that casteth him therto. 
If he continue, I holde his thrift i-do ; 
So help me God, therby schal he not Wynne, 
But empte his purs, and make liis wittes thynne. 
And whan he, thurgh his madues and folyc, 12670 
Hatli lost his owne good in jeu]»ardie, 


Thau he exciteth other men therto, 

To lease her good as he himself hath do. 

For unto schrewes joy it is and ese 

To have here felawes in peyne and desese. 

Thus was I oones lemed of a clerk ; 

Of that no charge ; I wol speke of oiu'e werk. 

Whan we hen ther as we schul exercise 

Oure elvyssh craft, we seme wonder wyse, 

Oure termes ben so clergeal and queynte. 12680 

I blowe the fuyr til that myn herte feynte. 

What schulde I telle ech proporcioun 

Of thinges which that we werke up and doun, 

As on fyve or six ounces, may wel be, 

Of silver, or som other quantite ? 

And besy me to telle yow the names, 

As orpiment, bi'ent bones, yren squames, 

That into poudre grounden ben ful smal ? 

And in an erthen pot how put is al, 

And salt y-put in, and also paupere, 12690 

Bifom these poudres that I speke of heere. 

And wel i-covered with a lamp of glas ? 

And of moche other tiling what that ther was ? 

And of the pot and glas enlutyng, 

That of the aier mighte passe no thing? 

And of the esy fuyr, and smert also. 

Which that was maad ? and of the care and wo, 

That we hadde in oure matiers sublymynge, 

12094 — pot and glas. This is the reading of the Harleian and Lans 
downe MSS. Tyrwhitt reads, poites and glasses engluting, which seems 
to improve the metre. 


And in am,algamynge, and calcenynge 

Of quyksilver, y-clept mercury crude ? 12700 

For alle oure sleightes we can nought conclude. 

Oure orpiment, and sublyment mercm-ie, 

Oure grounde litarge eek on the porfurye, 

Of ech of these of ounces a certayn 

Nat helpeth us, oure labour is in vayn. 

Ne eek oure spirites ascencioun, 

Ne eek oure matiers that lyn al fix adoun, 

Mowe in oure werkjmg us no tiling avayle; 

For lost is al oure labour and travayle, 

And al the cost On twenty devel way i27io 

Is lost also, which we upon it lay. 

Ther is also ful many another thing, 

That is to oure craft appertenyng. 

Though I by ordre hem here reherse ne can, 

Bycause that I am a lowed man, 

Yet wil I telle hem, as they come to mynde. 

Though I ne conne nought sette hem in her kynde : 

As bol armoniak, verdegres, boras ; 

And sondry vessels maad of erthe and glas, 

Oui'e urinals and oure descensories, 12720 

Viols, croslets, and sublimatories, 

Concurbites, and alembikes ceke. 

And othere suche, deere y-nough a leeke, 

Nat needith it to rehersen hem alle ; 

Watres rubifying, and boles gallc, 

Arsnek, sal armoniak, and brimstoon. 

12702— sublyment. TIic Lansd. MS., with Tyrwliitt, reads sublimed. 
12725 — ruhifyini/. MS. llar\. rcaAs j-iibisyn//. 


And herbes couthe I telle eek many oou, 

As egrimoigne, valirian, and lunarie, 

And other suche, if that me list to tarie ; 

Oure lampes brennyng bothe night and day, 12730 

To bringe aboute oure craft if that we may ; 

Oiu'e foumeys eek of calcinacioun, 

And of watres albificaciomi, 

Unslekked lym, salt, and glayre of an ey, 

Poudres dyvers, aissches, dong, pisse, and cley, 

Cored poketts, sal petre, vitriole ; 

And dyvers fuyres maad of woode and cole ; 

Salt tartre, alcaly, and salt preparat, 

And combust matieres, and coagulat ; 

Cley maad with hers or mannes her, and oyle 12740 

Of tartre, alym, glas, berm, wort, and argoyle, 

Resalgar, and oure matiers enbibing ; 

And eek of oure matiers encorporing, 

And of oure silver citrinacioun, 

Oiu'e cementynge and fermentacioun, 

Oure yngottes, testes, and many thinges mo. 

I wol you telle as was me taught also 

The foure spiritz, and the bodies seven 

By ordre, as ofte herd I my lord neven. 

The firste spirit quyksilver called is ; 12750 

The secound oi-piment ; the thridde i-A^s 

Sal armoniac, and the ferthe bremstoon. 

12732 — foumeys. The MS. Harl. appears to read fourmes ; but MS. 
Lansd. reads fornci/n, wliich is adopted by Tyi'whitt, and seems to be 

UJU—salt. Tlic Laiibd. MS., with Tvrwhitf, reads rhalk. 


The bodies seven, eek, lo hem heer anoon. 
Sol gold is, and Luna silver we threpe ; 
Mars yren, Mercurie quyksilver we clepe : 
Satumus leed, and Jubitiu' is tyn, 
And Venus coper, by my fader kyn. 

" This cursed craft who so wol exercise, 
He schal no good han that may liim suffise ; 
For al the good he spendeth theraboute 12760 

He lese schal, therof have I no doute. 
Who so that list outen his folye, 
Let him come forth and leme multiplie : 
And every man that hath ought in his cofre, 
Let him appiere, and wexe a philosofre, 
Ascauns that craft is so light to lere. 
Nay, nay, God wot, al be he monk or frere, 
Prest or chanoun, or eny other wight, 
Though he sit at his book bothe day and night 
In lemyng of this ehysch nice lore, J 2770 

Al is in vayn, and parde moche more 
Is to leme a lewed man this subtilte ; 
Fy, spek not therof, for it ml not be. 
Al couthe he letterure, or couthe he noon. 
As in effect, he schal fynd it al oon ; 
For bothe tuo by my salvacioun 
Concluden in multiplicacioun 
I-liche wel, whan thay han al y-do ; 
This is to sayn, thay fayle bothe tuo. 
Yet forgat I to make rehersayle 13780 

Of watres corosif, and of lymayle. 
And of bodyes mollificacioun, 


And also of here enduracioun, 

Oyles ablucioun, aud metal fusible, 

To tellen al, wold passen eny bible 

That wher is ; wherfore, as for the best, 

Of alle these names now wil I me rest ; 

For, as I trowe, I have yow told y-nowe 

To reyse a feend, al loke he never so rowe. 

A, nay, let be ; the philosophre stoon, 12790 

Elixir clept, we sechen fast echoon, 

For had we him, than were we syker y-nough ; 

But unto God of heven I make avow, 

For al oure craft, whan we han al y-do, 

And al oure sleight, he wol not come us to. 

He hath i-made us speude moche good, 

For sorwe of which almost we wexen wood. 

But that good hope crepeth in oure herte, 

Supposing ever, though we sore smerte. 

To ben relieved by him after-ward. 12800 

Such supposing and hope is scharp aud hard. 

I wame you wel it is to seken ever. 

That future temps hath made men dissevere. 

In trust therof, from al that ever they liadde. 

Yet of that art thay conne nought wexe sadde. 

For unto hem it is a bitter swete ; 

So semeth it ; for nad thay but a scheete 

Which thay mighte wrappe hem in a-night, 

And a bak to walke mne by day-light, 

They wolde hem selle, and spenden on this cnift; 12810 

12809— 6a7f. This is tbe reading of the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. 
Tyrwhitt reads brait, which he interprets a coarse mantle. 


Tliay can nought stiute, til no thing be laft. 

And evermore, wher that ever they goon, 

Men may hem knowe by smel of bremstoon ; 

For al the world thay stynken as a goot ; 

Her savour is so rammyssch and so hoot, 

That though a man fro hem a myle be. 

The savour wol infecte liim, trusteth me. 

Lo, thus by smellyng and by thred-bare array, 

If that men list, this folk they knowe may. 

And if a man wol aske hem prively, 12820 

Why thay ben clothed so unthriftily. 

Right anoon thay wol rounen in his eere, 

And say, if that thay espied were, 

Men wold hem slee, bycause of here science : 

Lo, thus this folk bytrayen innocence. 

Passe over this, I go my tale unto. 

Er than the pot be on the fuyr y-do 

Of metals with a certeyn quantite. 

My lord hem temjireth, and no man but be ; 

(Now he is goon, I dar say boldel}-) i2830 

For as men sayn, he can doon craftily ; 

Algate I wot wel he hath such a name, 

And yet ful ofte he renneth in blame ; 

" And wite ye how ? ful ofte it happeth so, 
The pot to-breketh, and farwel al is goo. 
These metals been of so gret violence, 
Ourc walles may not make hem resistence. 
But if thay were wrought of lym and stoon : 
Thay percen so, that thurgh the wal thay goon ; 
And some of hem synken into the grounde, 12840 


(Thus have we lost by tymes many a pouiide), 

And some are skatered al the floor aboute ; 

Some lepe into the roof, withouten doute. 

Though that the feend nought in oure sight him schewe, 

I trowe that he with us be, that schrewe ; 

In helle, wher that he is lord and sire, 

Nis ther no more woo, ne anger, ne ire. 

Whan that oui'e pot is broke, as I have sayd. 

Every man ch}i:, and halt him evel apayde. 

Som sayd it was long on the fuyr-makyng ; 12850 

Some sayde nay, it was on the blowyng ; 

(Than was I ferd, for that was myn office). 
' Straw ! ' quod the thridde, 'ye been lewed and nyce, 

It was nought tempred as it oughte be.' 
' Nay,' quod the ferthe, ' stynt and herkne me ; 

Bycause oure fuyr was nought y-maad of beech, 

That is the cause, and other noon, so theech.' 

I can not telle wheron it was long. 

But wel I woot gret stryf is us among. 
' What?' quod my lord, ' ther is no more to doone, 12860 

Of these periles I wol be war eftsoone, 

I am right siker, that the pot was erased. 

Be as be may, be ye no thing amased. 

As usage is, let swoope the floor as s^^ithe ; 

Pluk up your hertes and beth glad and blithe.' 

The mullok on an heep i-swoped was. 

And on the floor y-cast a canevas, 

And al this mulloc in a syve i-throwe. 

And sifted, and y-plukked many a throwe. 
' Parde,' quod oon, ' somwhat of oure metal 12870 


Yet is ther heer, though that we have nouoht al. 
And tliough this thing myshapped hath as now, 
Another tyme it may be wel y-now. 
Us moste putte oure good in adventure. 
A marchaunt, parde, may not ay endure, 
Trusteth me wel, in his prosperite ; 
Som tyme his good is drowned in the see, 
And som tyme cometh it sauf unto the londe.' 
* Pees ! ' quod my lord, ' the nexte tyme I wol fonde 
To bringe oure craft al in another plyte, 12880 

And but I do, sires, let me have the -svyte : 
Ther was defaute in som what, wel I woot.' 
Another sayde, the fuyr was over hoot. 
But be it hoot or cold, I dar say this. 
That we concluden evermor amys ; 
We faile of that which that we wolden have, 
And in oure madnesse evermore we rave. 
And whan we ben togideres everichon, 
Everiche man semeth a Salamon. 
But al tiling which that schineth as the gold, 12890 
Is nought gold, as that I have herd told ; 
Ne every appel that is fail- at ye, 
Ne is not good, what so men clappe or crye. 
Right so, lo, fareth it amonges us. 
He that semeth the wisest, by Jesus ! 
Is most fool, whan it cometh to the preef ; 

12890 — as the gold. This proverb is talicn directly from the Parabola 
of Alanus do Insulis, who expresses it tlius in two Leoniiies, — 
Non teneas aurum totum quod splendct iit auruin, 
Ncc pulchrum ponmm quodlibet esse bonum. 



And he that semeth trewest, is a theef. 

That schul j^e knowe, er that I fro yow wende, 

By that I of my tale have maad an ende. 

" Thar is a chanoun of religioun 12900 

Amonges us, wold infecte al a toun, 
Though it as gret were as was Niuive, 
Rome, Alisaundre, Troye, or other thre. 
His sleight and his infinite falsnesse 
Ther couthe no man writen, as I gesse, 
Though that he mighte lyven a thousand ycer ; 
Of al this world of falsheed nys his peer, 
For in his termes he wol him so wynde, 
And speke his wordes in so sleygh a kynde, 
Whan he comune schal with eny wight, J 2910 

That he ml make him dote anoon right, 
But it a feend be, as him selven is. 
Ful many a man hath he bygiled er this, 
And wol, if that he lyve may a while : 
And yet men ryde and goon ful many a myle 
Elim for to seeke, and have his aqueintaunce, 
Nought knowyng of his false goveniaunce. 
And if yow list to gave mc audience, 
I wol it telle here in youre presence. 
But, worschipful chanouns religious, 13920 

Ne demeth not that I sclaundre youre hous. 
Although my tale of a chanoun be. 
Of every ordre som schrewe is, pardee : 
And God forbede that al a companye 
Schulde rewe a singular mannes folye. 
To sclaunder yow is no thing niyn entent. 


But to correcten that is mys I ment. 

This tale ^Yas not ooiily told for vow, 

But eek for other moo : ye woot wel how 

That among Cristes apostles twelve 12930 

Ther was no traytoui' but Judas liim selve ; 

Than why schulde the remenaunt have a blame, 

That gulteles were ? by yow I say the same. 

Save oonly this, if ye wol herkene me, 

If any Judas in yovire covent be, 

Remewe him by tyme, I yow rede, 

If schame or los may causen eny drede. 

And beth no thing displesed, I you pray, 

But in this caas herkeneth what I say," 


Ix Londoun was a prest, an annueler, I29i0 

That therin dwelled hadde many a yer. 
Which was so plesaunt and so servisable 
Unto the wyf, wher as he was at table, 

Tlie Chanounea Yemannes Tale. In a preceding tale, Chaucer has 
toucheil upou the astrologers and practisers of " magiko naturel" ; this, 
and perhaps some temporary occurrences, led him now to satiiizc hitterly 
another class who infected society at this period, the alchemists. The 
Chanounes Yemannes Tale may dcscriho an occurrence in Chaucer's 
time, for the " multipliers" seem to have been very busy deceiving people 
at the end of tlie fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth centuries ; and 
Tyrwhitthas pointed out as a curious coincidence, that an act was passed 
soon after the poet's death, 5 H. IV, c. iv, maliing it felony " to multiplie 
gold or silver, or to use the art of multiplication." 

12940 — an annueler. " They were called annuellcrcs, not from their 
receiving a yearly stipend, as the Gloss, explains it, but from their being 
employed solely in singing annuals, or anniversary masses, for the dead, 
without any cure of souls. See the Stat. 3C Edw. HI, c. viii, where the 

Q 2 


That sche wolde suffre him no thing for to pay 
For bord ne clothmg, went he never so gay ; 
And spending silver had he right y-nough : 
Therof no force ; I wol precede as now, 
And telle forth my tale of the chanoun, 
That brought tliis prest to confusioun. 

This false chanoun cam upon a day 12950 

Unto the prestes chambre, wher he lay, 
Biseching him to lene liim a certeyn 
Of gold, and he wold quyt it him ageyn. 

" Lene me a mark," quod he, " but dayes thre, 
And at my day I wil it quyte the. 
And if so be, that thou fynde me fals. 
Another day hong me up by the hals." 
This prest him took a mark, and that as swithe. 
And this chanoun him thankid ofte sithe. 
And took his leve, and wente forth his wey ; ' 2960 
And atte thridde day brought his money. 
And to the prest he took his gold agayn, 
Wherof this prest was wonder glad land fayn. 

" Certes," quod he, " no thing annoyeth me 
To lene a man a noble, or tuo, or thre, 
Or what thing were in my possessioun. 
Whan he so trewe is of condicioun. 
That in no wise he breke wol his day : 

chapelleim parochiels are distinguished from others chantanz anuales, 
et a cure des almes nient enUndantz. They were both to receive yearly 
stipends, but the former was allowed to take six marks, and the latter only 
five. Compare Stat. 2 H. V, St. 2, c. 2, where the stipend of the cha. 
pcllein parochiel is raised to eight marks, and that of the chapellein 
annueler (he is so named in the statute) to seven." — Tyrwhilt. 


. To such a man I can never say nay." 12969 

"What?" quod this chanoun, "schold I be untrewe? 

Nay, that were thing i-fallen of the newe. 

Trouthe is a thiug that I wol ever kepe, 

Unto that day in vrhich that I schal crepe 

Into my grave, and elles God forbede ! 

Bilieveth that as siker as your crede. 

God thank I, and in good tyme be it sayd, 

That ther was never man yet evel apayd 

For gold ne silver that he to me lent, 

Ne never falshed in myn hert I ment. 

And, sire," quod he, "now of my privete, 12980 

Syn ye so goodlich have be unto me, 

And kythed to me so gret gentilesce, 

Som what, to quyte with yoiu'e kyndenesse, 

I wil yow schewe, and if yow lust to lex'e 

I wil yow teche pleynly the manere. 

How I kan werken in philosophic. 

Takith good heed, ye schul seen wel at ye. 

That I wol doon a maystry er I go." 
" Ye?" quod the prest, " ye, sire, and wol ye so? 

Mary! therof I pray yow hertily." 12900 

" At youre comaundement, sire, trewely," 

Quod the chanoun, " and elles God forbede ! " 

Lo, how this theef couthe his servise beede. 

Ful soth it is that such profred servise 

Stynketh, as witnessen these olde wise ; 

And that ful soone I wol it verefye 

In this chanoun, rootc of al treccherie, 

That cvcrmor delit halh and gladucsse 


(Such feendly thoughtes in his hert empresse) 

How Cristes poeple he may to meschief bringe. isooo 

God kepe us from his fals dissimilynge. 

What wiste this prest with whom that he delte ? 

Ne of his harm comyng he no thing felte. 

seely prest, o sely innocent, 

With coveytise anoon thou schalt be blent ; 

graceles, ful blynd is thy conceyt, 

No thing art thou war of the deceyt, 

Which that this fox i-schapen hath to the ; 

His ^vily wrenches y-wis thou maist not fle. 

Wherfor to go to the conclusioun, i30io 

That referreth to thy confusioun, 

Unhappy man, anoon I wil me hie 

To tellen thin uuwitte and thy folye, 

And eek the falsnesse of that other wrecche, 

Als ferforth as my connyng wol strecclie. 

This chanoun was my lord, ye wolde weene : 
Sire ost, in faith, and by the heven queene, 
It was another chanoun, and not he. 
That can an hundred fold more sub til te. 
He hath bitrayed folkes many tyme ; 13020 

Of his falsnes it dullith me to ryme. 
Ever whan I speke of his falshede, 
For schame of him my cheekes wexen reede ; 
Algates thay bygynne for to glowe, 
For reednes have I noon, right wel I knowc, 
In my visage, for fumes diverse 
Of metals, which yc han mc herd reherse, 
Consumed and wasted han my rccduesse. 


Now tak heed of this chauouns cursednesse. 

" Sire, "quod he to the prest, "let your man goon i^oso 
For quyksilver, that we it hadde anoon ; 
And let him bringe ounces tuo or thre ; 
And whan he cometh, as faste schul ye see 
A wonder thing, which ye saugh never er this." 

" Su'e," quod the prest, "it schal be doon, i-wis." 
He bad his servaunt fecche him his thinges, 
And he al redy was at his biddynges, 
And went him forth, and com anoon agajai 
With this quylcsilver, schortly for to sajm,. 
And took these ounces thre to the chanoun ; ' '^^^^ 
And he it layde faire and wel adoun, 
And bad the servaunt coles for to bringe, 
That he anoon might go to his werkynge. 
The coles right anoon weren i-fett, 
And this chanoun took out a croselett 
Of his bosom, and schewed it the prest : 

" This instrument," quod he, " which that thou sest, 
Tak in thin hond, and put thiself therinne 
Of this quiksilver an mice, and her bygpme 
In tlie name of Crist to wax a philosophre. '^^^50 

Ther ben ful fewe, whiche that I wolde profre 
To schewe hem thus moche of my science : 
For ye schul seen heer by experience. 
That this quiksilver I wol mortifye. 
Right in youre sight anoon, withouten lyp, 
And make it as good silver and as fpi 
As ther is any in youre purs or myn. 
Or elles wher; and make it nmllcablo ; 


And elles holdeth me fals and unable 

Amouges folk for ever to appeere. isi^^o 

I have a ponder heer that cost me deere, 

Schal make al good, for it is cause of al 

My connyng, vs^hich that I you schewe schal. 

Voydith youre man, and let liim be theroute ; 

And schet the dore, whils we ben aboute 

Oure privetee, that no man us aspie. 

Whiles we werken in this philosophie." 

Al, as he bad, fulfilled was in dede. 

This ilke servaunt anoon right out yede. 

And his maister schitte the dore anoon, 13070 

And to here labour speedily thai goon. 

This prest, at this cursed chanouns biddyng. 
Upon the fuyr anoon sette this thing. 
And blew the fuyr, and busied him ful fast ; 
And this chanoim into the croslet cast 
A j)ouder, noot I wherof that it was 
I-maad, outher of chalk, outlier of glas, 
Or som what elles, was nought worth a llye, 
To blynde with this prest ; and bad him hye 
These coles for to couchen al above 13080 

The croislet; for " in tokenyng I the love," 
Quod this chanoun, " thin oughne handes tuo 
Schal wirche al thing which that schal be do." 
" Graunt mercy," quod the prest, and was ful glad. 
And couchede coles as the chanoun bad. 

13062 — good. I have ventured to retain TyrwLitt's reading, which 
is supported by the Lansdowne MS. The Harl. MS. reads, gold. 


And ■whil he besy was, this feendly wrecche, 

This false chanoun (the foule feend him fecche !) 

Out of his bosom took a bechen cole, 

In which ful subtilly was maad an hole, 

And tlierin put was of silver lymayle 13090 

An unce, and stopped was -withoute fayle 

The hole \\ith wex, to kepe the lymail in. 

And vuiderstondith, that this false gyn 

Was not maad ther, but it was maad bifore ; 

And other thinges I schal telle more 

Herafter-ward, which that he with him brought, 

Er he com there, to bigyle him he thought, 

And so he dede, er thay wente atwynne': 

Til he had tomed him, couthe he nought blynne. 

It dulleth me, whan that I of him speke ; i^i^^ 

On his falshede fayn wold I me wreke. 

If I wist how, but he is heer and there, 

He is so variant, he byt no where. 

But taketh heed now, sii'es, for Goddes love. 
He took his cole of which I spak above, 
And in his hond he bar it prively. 
And whiles the preste couched bysily 
The coles, as I tolde yow er this. 
This chanoun sayde, " Freend, ye doon amys ; 
This is not couched as it oughte be, laoio 

But soone I schal amenden it," quod he. 
' Now let me melle therwilh but a while, 
For of yow have I pitee, by seint Gile ! 
Ye been right hoot, I so wcl how ye swcte ; 
Have heer a cloth and wvpe away the wctc." 


And whiles that this prest him wyped haas, 
This chanoun took his cole, I schrewe his faas ! 
And layd it ahoven on the myd-ward 
Of the croslet, and blew wel aftei'sv'ard, 
Til that the coles gonne faste brenne. 13120 

" Now geve us drinke," quod the chanoun thenne, 
" Als swithe al schal be wel, I undertake. 
Sitte we dou.n, and let us meiy make." 
And whan that the chanounes bechene cole 
Was brent, al the lymail out of the hole 
Into the crosselet anoon fel adoun ; 
And so it moste needes by resoun, 
Sins it so even above couched was ; 
But therof wist the prest no thing, alias ! 
He demed alle the colis i-liche goode, i^iso 

For of the sleight he no thing understood. 
And whan this alcamister saugh his tyme, 
" Rys up, sire prest," quod he, " and stonde by me ; 
And for I wot wel ingot have ye noon, 
Gotli, walldth forth, and brynge a chalk-stoon ; 
For I wol make it of the same schap, 
That is an ingold, if I may have hap. 
And bringe with you a bolle or a panne 
Ful of water, and ye schul wel se thanne 
How that oure besyiaes schal happe and preve. i^i^o 

13124. This line, as it stands in the Harl. MS., 

Ami whan tlio chanouns hechene cole, 
appears to be impcrlbct, although it is supported by the Lansdowne MS. 
I have ventured to add the word that from Tjrwhitt, and to insert 
the e in dianouncs, which had probably slipped out by the inadvertence 
of a scribe. 


And yit, for ye scliul have no mysbileeve 
Ne wrong conceyt of me in youre absence, 
I no wol nought ben out of youre presence, 
But go with you, and come with you agayn." 
The chambur dore, schortly for to sayn, 
Thay opened and schette, and wente here weye, 
And forth with hem they caryed the keye, 
And comen agayn withouten eny delay. 
What schuld I tary al the longe day ? 
He took the chalk, and schop it in the wise ^3150 
Of an ingot, as I schal yow devyse ; 
I say, he took out of his oughne sleeve 
A teyne of silver (evel mot he cheeve !) 
Wliich that was but an unce of wight. 
And taketh heed now of his cursed slight ; 
He schop his ingot in lengthe and in brede 
Of tliis teyne, withouten eny drede, 
So sleighly, that the prest it nought aspydc ; 
And in his sleeve agayn he gan it hyde ; 
And fro the fuyr he took up liis mateere, i^ieo 

And into the ingot put it with mery clieere : 
And into the watir-vessel he it cast, 
Whan that him list, and bad this jirest as fost, 
" Loke what ther is ; put in thin bond and grope ; 
Thou fynde ther schalt silver, as I hope." 
What devel of hello schold it elles be ? 

13116 — ivente here weye. The Harl. and Laiistl. MSS. read, ivenic forth 
here tvcyc, wliieli makes a rcdtmdancy in the measure ; the supcrfliums 
word appears to liavc been brouglit in lierc from the begiuiiing of tlic 
next lino. 


Schavyng of silver, silver is, parde ! 

He putte in his hond and tok up a teyne 
Of silver fyn, and glad in every veyue 
Was this prest, whan he saugh it was so. "^^^o 

" Goddes blessyng, and his modres also, 
And alle halwes, have ye, sire chanoun !" 
Seyde this prest, and I her malisoun ; 

" But, and ye vouche sauf to teche me 
This nobil craft and this subtilite, 
I wil be youi'e in al that ever I may." 
Quod this chanoun, " Yet wol I make assay 
The secound tyme, that ye mow taken heede, 
And ben expert of this, and in yoiu" neede 
Another day assay in myn absence 13180 

This dicipline, and this crafty science. 
Let take another uuce," quod he tho, 

" Of quyksilver, withouten wordes mo. 
And do therwith as ye have doon er this 
With that other, which that now silver is." 
The prest him busyeth in al that he can 
To doon as this chanoun, this cursed man, 
Comaunded him, and faste blew the fuyr, 
For to come to theffect of his desyr. 
And this chanoun right in the mene while i^iso 

Al redy was this prest eft to bygile, 
And for a countenaunce in his hond bar 

13180 — assay. The Harl. MS. substitutes yow self, which makes an 
uuiiitelligible sentence, without a verb. The Lansd. MS. omits the 
wortl, and makes the Hue imperfect in mcasuri; as well as grauiiuatical 


An holow stikke (tak keep and be war), 

In thende of which an unce and no more 

Of silver lymail put was, as bifore 

Was in his cole, and stopped with wex wel 

For to kepe in his limail every del. 

And wliil the prest was in his besynesse, 

This chanoun with his stikke gan him dresse 

To him anoon, and his pouder cast in, is'iOi) 

As he dede er, (the devel out of his skyn 

Him tome, I pray to God, for his falshede ! 

For he was ever fals in worde and deede). 

And with this stikke above the croslet, 

That was ordeyned with that false get. 

He styred the coles, til relente gan 

The wex agayn the fuyr, as every man. 

But it a fool be, woot w^el it moot neede 

And al that in the hole was out yede, 

And into the croslet hastily it fel. 13210 

Now, good sires, what wol ye bet than wel ? 

Whan that this prest thus was begiled agayn, 

Supposyng not but trouthe, soth to sayn. 

He was so glad, that I can nought expresse 

In no maner his myrtlie and his gladnesse, 

And to the chanoun he profred eft soono 

Body and good. " Ye," quod the chanoun, " soone, 

Though pore I be, crafty thou schalt me fynde : 

13203 — wordc. This, which is the reading of the Lansd. MS., is 
perliaps hettvT than that of llie Hail. MS., otii. 'I'yrwhitt has thought. 

13204— aioi'e. So Tjrwliitt and the Lansd. MS., apparently the correct 
reading. The Harl. MS. reads ulone. 


I warne the, yet is ther more byhyude. 

Is ther any coper her withinne ?" quod he. 13220 

" Ye, sir," quod this prest, " I trowe ther he. 
Elles go bye som, and that as swithe." 

" Now goode sire, go forth thy way and hy the." 
He went his way, and with this coper cam ; 
And this chanoun it in his hondes nam, 
And of that coper weyed out but an ounce. 
Al to simple is my tonge to pronounce, 
As minister of my witt, the doublenesse 
Of this chanoun, roote of al cui'sednesse. 
He semed frendly to hem that knew him nought, 13230 
But he was fendly bothe in werk and thought. 
It werieth me to telle of his falsnesse ; 
And natheles yit wol I it expi'esse. 
To that entent men may be war therby. 
And for noon other cause trewely. 

He put this unce of coper in the croslet, 
And on the fuyr als swithe he hath it set, 
And cast in pouder, and made the prest to blowe, 
And in his worching for to stoupe lowe. 
As he dede er, and al nas but a jape; '"^^lo 

Eight as him list the prest he made his ape. 
And afterward in the ingot he it cast. 
And in the panne putte it atte last 
Of water, and in he put his owne bond. 
And in his sleeve, as ye byforn-hond 

13228 — as minister of my witt. I retain tliis reading from Tyrwliitt, 
as apparently fiiruishing the best meaning. MS. Harl. reads, the minister 
and of his ivilt ; the reading of the Lansd. MS. is, his monstre and his witte. 


Herde me telle, he had a silver teyne ; 

He sleyghly took it out, this cursed heyue, 

(Uuwitynge this prest of his false craft), 

And in the pannes botme he hath it laft; 

And in the water rumbleth to and fro. 13250 

And wonder prively took up also 

The coper teyne, (nought kno^\7ng this prest) 

And hidde it, and hent him by the brest, 

And to him spak, and thus sayde in his game ; 

Stoupeth adoun ! by God, ye ben to blame ; 

Helpeth me now, as I dede yow whil er ; 

Put in yoiu' bond, and loke what is ther." 

This prest took up this silver teyne anoon. 

And thanne sayde the chanoun, let us goon 

With the se thre teynes whiche that we hau wrought, 1 3260 

To som goldsmyth, and wite if it be ought. 

For by my faith I nolde, for myn hood, 

But if they were silver fyn and good. 

And that as s-^nthe proved schal it be." 

Unto the goldsmith with these teynes thre 

Thay went, and putte these teynes in assay 

To fuyr and hammer : might no man say nay. 

But that thay were as hem oughte be. 

This sotted prest, who was gladder than he ? 
Was never brid gladder agayn the day ; J^'^^^o 

Ne nightyngale in the sesoun of May 
Was never noon, that liste better to synge ; 
Ne lady lustier in carolyngo ; 
Or for to spekc of love and wommanhede, 
Ne knvght in amies doou an hardy dcedc 


To stonde in grace of his lady deere, 

Thau hadde this prest tliis craft for to lore ; 

And to the chanoun thus he spak and seyde : 
" For the love of God, that for us alle deyde, 

And as I may deserve it unto yow, 13280 

What schal this receyt coste? telleth now." 
" By oure lady," quod the chanoun, "it is deere, 

I wanie yow wel, for, save I and a freere, 

In Engelond ther can no man it make." 
" No fors," quoth he ; " now, sire, for Goddes sake. 

What schal I paye? telleth me, I pray." 
" I-wis," quod he, " it is ful dere I say. 

Sire, at a word, if that ye lust it have, 

Ye schul pay fourty pound, so God me save ; 

And nere the frendschipe that ye dede er this 13290 

To me, ye schulde paye more i-wys." 

This prest the somme of fourty pound anoon 

Of nobles fette, and tooke hem everychoon 

To this chanouii, for this ilk receyt. 

Al his wei'kyng nas but fraude and deceyt. 
" Sire prest," he seyde, " I kepe have no loos 

Of my craft, for I wold it kept were cloos ; 

And as ye loveth me, kepeth it secre. 

For and men knewe al my sotilte, 

By God, men wolden have so gret envye 13300 

To me, bycause of my philosophie, 

I schulde be deed, ther were noon other weye." 
" God it forbede," quoth the prest, "what seye. 

13283— /or, save. The Harl. MS. reads, /or, sire, which is evidently 
an error: the Lansd. MS. has, 60/, save, and Tvrwhitt, /?ia< save. 


Yet had I lever spendeu al the good 
Which that I have, (and elles wax I wood) 
Thau that ye schulde falle in such raeschief." 
" For your good wil, sir, have ye right good preef," 
Quoth the chanoun, "and far wel, graunt mercy.'' 
He went his way, and never the prest liim sey 
After this day : and whan that this prest scholde 13310 
Maken assay, at such tyme as he wolde, 
Of this receyt, far wel, it wold not be. 
Lo, thus byjaped and hygilt was he : 
Thus maketh he his introduccioun 
To bringe folk to here destruccioun. 

Considereth, sires, how that in ech astaat 
Bitwixe men and gold ther is debaat, 
So ferforth that unnethe ther is noon. 
This multiplying blent so many oon. 
That in good faith I trowe that it be 13320 

The cause grettest of swich scarsete. 
Pbilosophres speken so mistyly 
In this craft, that men conue not come therby, 
For any witt that men han now on dayes. 
They may wel chiteren, as doon these jayes. 
And in here termes sette lust and peyne, 
But to her purjjos schul thay never atteyne. 
A man may lightly lerne, if he have ought, 
To multiplie, and bringe his good to nought. 
Lo, such a lucre is in this lusty game ; 13330 

A mannes mirthe it wol torne into grame. 
And empte also grate and hevy purses, 
And make folk for to purchace curses 
Of hem, that han her good Iherto i-lent. 


0, fy! for scliame, thaj that have he hrent, 
Alias ! can thay not fle the fuyres hate ? 
Ye that it usen, I rede ye it lete, 
Lest ye lesen al ; for het than never is late : 
Never to thrive, were to long a date. 
Though ye prolle ay, ye schul it never fynde : 13340 
Ye ben as bolde as is Bayard the blynde, 
That blundreth forth, and peril casteth noon : 
He is as bold to renne agayn a stoon, 
As for to go bj'sides in the wey : 
So fare ye that multiplie, I sey. 
If that youre yghen can nought seen aright, 
Loke that youre mynde lakke nought his sight. 
For though ye loke never so brode and stare. 
Ye schul nought \vynne a mite on that chaffare, 
But wasten al, that thay may rape and renne. 13350 
Withdrawe the fuyr, lest it to faste brenne ; 
Medleth no more with that art, I mene ; 
For gif ye doon, youre thrift is goon ful clene. 
And right as swithe I wol yow telle heere 
What philosophres sein in this mateere. 
Lo, thus saith Arnold of the Newe-toun, 

13341 — Bayard the blynde. This appears to have been a very popular 
old proverb. A number of references illustrative of it will be found in 
Mr. Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words; the following 
passage from Gower's Confess. Amantis is nearly parallel to Chaucer : — 
Ther is no God, ther is no lawe 
Of wlioni tliat he taketh eny liede, 
J$ut as Bayarde the blynde stede, 
Tille he falle in the diche amidde, 
He goth ther no man wol him bidde. 
13350— /;«((/. The Lansd. MS and Tyrwhitt read, ye. 
13350 — Arnold. Aruald de Villcneuve (in Lat. De Villa Nova, or 
Villanovanus) a distinguished French physician and alchemist of the 
fourteenth century, whose Mosarius Philosophorum was a text book for 
the alchemists of the following age. 


As his Rosarie maketh menciouu, 

He saith right thus, withouten euy lye ; 

Ther may no man Mercuiy mortifye, 

But it be with his brother kuowleching. 13360 

Lo, how that he, which that first sayd this thing. 

Of philosophres fader was, Hermes : 

He saith, how that the dragoun douteles 

He dyeth nought, but if that he be slayn 

With his brother. And that is for to sayn. 

By the dragoun, Merciuy, and noon other, 

He understood, and brimstoon be his brother, 

That out of Sol and Luna were i-drawe. 

" And therfore," sayde he, " take heed to my sawe: 
Let no man besy him this art to seche, 13370 

But if that he thentencioun and speche 
Of philosophres understonde can ; 
And if he do, he is a lewed man. 
For this sciens, and this connyng," quod he, 

" Is of the Secre of secretz, parde." 

13361 — Lo. This word, which seems neeessaiy to the sense, is not 
found either in MS. Harl. or in MS. Lausd. 

13362 — Hermes. The treatise of the philosopher's stone, ascribed to 
Hermes Trismegistus, was popular in the Middle Ages; its author being 
supposed to have been the founder of the Hermetic philosophy. 

13375 — the Score of secretz. " He alludes to a treatise, entitled Secreta 
Sccretonim, which was supposed to contain the sum of Aristotle's instruc- 
tions to Alexander. See Fabric. Bibl. Gr. v. ii, p. 167. It was very 
popular in the Middle Ages. ^■Egidius de Columna, a famous divine and 
bishop, about the latter end of the thirteenth ceutuiy, built upon it his book 
De regimine principum, of which our Ocdeve made a free translation in 
English verse, and addressed it to Henry V while prince of Wales. A 
part of Lydgatc's translation of the Secreta Secrelorum is printed in Ash- 
mole's Thtat. Chem. Brit. p. 397. He did not translate more than about 
half of it, being prevented bj- death. See MS. Harl 2251, and 'I'anner, 
liih. Brit, in v. Lvdoate. The gi-eatestpart of the seventh book of Gower's 
C'onf. Amant. is taken from this supposed work of Aristotle." — Ti/rirhill. 



Also ther was a disciple of Plato, 

That on a tyme sayde his maister to, 

As his book Senior wil bare Avitnesse, 

And this was his demaunde in sothfastnesse : 
' Tel me the name of thilke prive stoon." 13380 

And Plato answered unto him anoon : 
" Take the stoon that titanos men name." 
" AVhich is that T quod he. "Magnasia is the same," 

Sayde Plato. " Ye, sire, and is it thus ? 

This is ignotum per ignotius. 

What is magnasia, good sir, I you pray ?" 
" It is a water that is maad, I say, 

Of elementes foure," quod Plato. 
" Telle me the rote, good sire," quod he tho, 
" Of that water, if it be your wille." 13390 

" Nay, nay," quod Plato, " certeyn that I nylle. 

Tlie philosophres sworn were everichoon. 

That thay ne scliolde discovere it unto noon, 

Ne in no book it write in no manere ; 

For unto Crist it is so leef and deere. 

That he Avil not that it discovered be. 

But wher it liketh to his deite 

Man to enspire, and eek for to defende 

Whom that him liketh; lo, this is the ende." 

Than thus conclude I, s}ti that God of hevene 13100 

13378 — his book Senior. The Harl. and Lansd. MSS. read Somer. 
Tyrwliitt observes on tliis passage, " The book alhided to is printed in 
the Theatrum Chemicum, vol. v, p. 219, under this title: ' Senioris 
Zadith fil. Hamuelis tabula chymica.' The story which follows of 
Plato and his disciple, is there told (p. 219), with some variations, of 
Salomon. ' Dixit Salomon rex. Recipe lapidem qui dicitur Thitarios. — 
Dixit sapiens, Assigna mihi illnm. Dixit, est corpus magnesia — Dixit, 
Quid est magnesia ? Respondif, Magnesia est aqua, composita, &c.'" 

13389— ro/p. The Harl. MS. reads, rooe/(^. 


Ne wol not that the philosophres neveue, 
How that a man schal come unto this stoon, 
I rede as for the beste, let it goon. 
For who so maketh God his adversarie, 
As for to werke euy thing in coutrarie 
Unto his wil, certes never schal he thrive, 
Though that he multiplie terme of al his Ijve. 
And ther a poynt; for ended is my tale. 
God send every trewe man boote of his bale ! 


["Ye, let that passen," quod oure hoste, "as now. 
Sire Doctour of Physike, I praye you, 13411 

The Dodoures Proloye. MS. Harl.,vvith others of the best MSS., has 
no prologue to the tale of the Doctor of Physick. In two MSS. quoted 
by Tyrwhitt there is a mere colojjhon to the efl'ect, Here endeth the 
Frankeleyns Tale, and bigin/ieth the Pliisiciens Tale without a prologe. 
Other MSS. have dillerent prologues ; that jjriuteil above is given by Tyr- 
whitt from one MS., but it is not much in Chaucer's style ; the following, 
which is given in the Lausd. MS., is still less so : — 

" Now trewly," quod oure oste, " this a prati tale ; 

For litel iiierveile it is that thou lokest so pale, 

Sethen thou hast medeled with so mony thinges ; 

With bloweinge att the cole to inelte bothe brochez and ringes. 

And other many jewels dar I undertake, 

And that thi lorde couthe us tel if we might him overtake. 

Bot lat him go a devel waye, the conipaigny is never the wars ; 

And al suche fals harlotes 1 sette not be hem a Iters ; 

Bot latt pas overe uowe al thes subtilitees, 

And sume worthi man tel us summe veritees. 

As ye, worschipful maister of phisike, 

Tellith us somme tale tliat is a crouyke, 

That we may of yowe Icren sum witte," 

Quod the maister of phisik, " A tale that I linde writte 

In cronyke passed of olde tyme, 

Herkcneth, for 1 wil tel it vow iu rime." 


Tel US a tale of som honest matere." 
" It schal be don, if that ye wol it here," 

Said this doctour, and his tale began anon. 
" Now, good men," quod he, " herkeneth evericlion."] 


Thek was, as telleth Titus Lyvius, 
A knight, that cleped was Virginius, 
Fulfild of honours and of worthines. 
And strong of frendes, and of gret riches. 
This knight a dough ter hadde by his wyf, 13420 

And never ne hadde he mo in al liis lyf. 
Fair was this mayde in excellent beaute 
Above every wight that men may se : 
For nature hath with sovereyn diligence 
I-formed liir in so gret excellence. 
As though sche wolde say, " Lo, I nature. 
Thus can I forme and peynte a creature. 
Whan that me lust ; who can me counterfete ? 
Pigmalion? nought, though he alwey forge and bete, 
Or grave, or peynte : for I dar wel sayn, 13130 

Apelles, Zeuxis, schulde wirche in vayn, 

The Talc of the Doctor of Phisik. It is hardly necessary to state that 
this tale is the common story of Virginius ami his daughter, related, as 
here stated, hy Livy, hut a little modified in its details to suit medieval 
notions. Chaucer seems to have followed chiefly the version of the story 
given in his favourite hook the Roman de la Rose, (vol. ii, p. 74 et seqq. 
ed. Meon.) and perhaps he had also in his eye Gower, who gives the 
story of Virginius in the seventh hook of his Confcs>iio Amantix. 

13420 — Tills knifihl a doiighter. MSS. Harl.and Lansd. omit the first 
two words, and read the line, A doughUr he hadde by his wyf. 

13431 — Apelles, Zeuxis. The Harl. and Lansd. MSS. read the names 


Other to grave, or paynte, or forge or bete, 

If tliay presumed me to counterfete. 

For lie that is the former principal, 

Hath maad me his viker general 

To forme and peynte erthely creature 

Eight as me lust, al thing is in my cure 

Under the moone that may wane and waxe. 

And for my werke no thing wol I axe ; 

My lord and I ben fully at accord. 13440 

I made hir to the worschip of my lord ; 

So do I alle myn other creatures, 

What colour that thay been, or what figures." 

Thus semeth me that nature wolde say. 

This mayde was of age twelf yer and tway, 
In which that nature hath suche delite. 
For right as sche can peynte a lili white 
And rody a rose, right with such peynture 
Sche peynted hath this noble creature 
Er sche was born, upon hir limes fre, 13450 

Wlieras by right such colours schulde be : 
And Phebus deyed hadde hire tresses grete, 
I-lyk to the stremes of his horned hete. 
And if that excellent was hir beaute, 
A thousand fold more vertuous was sche. 
In hire ne lakketh no condicioun. 

corruptly, Appollus, Zeplierns. This reference to the painters of antiquity 
as well as most of the ideas relating to the personification and operations of 
nature, are talienfroni the Roman de la Ilofe. See vol. ill, p. 102,3. ed. Meon. 
13451. I have in this line adopted Tyrwhitt's reading. The Ilarl. 
MS. reads, Here ah bright as such colour echulde be. MS. Lausd. Las 
the same reading. 


That is to preyse, as by cliscreciouii. 

As wel in body as goost chaste was sche : 

For which sche floured in virginite, 

With alle humihte and abstinence, 13460 

With alle attemperaunce and pacience, 

With mesure eek of beryng of array. 

Discret sche was in answeryng alway, 

Though sche were wis as Pallas, dar I sayn, 

Hir facound eek ful wommanly and playn. 

Noon countrefeted termes hadde sche 

To seme wys ; but after hir degre 

Sche spak, and alle hire wordes more and lesse 

Sounyng in vertu and in gentilesse. 

Schamefast sche was in maydenes schamfastnesse, 

Constant in hert, and ever in besynesse, 13470 

To dryve hire out of idol slogardye. 

Bachus had of hir mouth no maistrye : 

For wyn and thought doon Venus encrece. 

As men in fuyr wil caste oyle or grace. 

And of lur oughne vertu unconstreigned, 

Sche hath ful ofte tyme hire seek y-feyned, 

For that sche wolde fleen the compauye, 

Wher likly was to treten of folye, 

As is at festes, reveles, and at daunces, 13480 

That ben occasiouns of daliaunces. 

Suche thinges maken children for to be 

]3474 — ivyn and thought. I have retained wyn instead of iville, 
which latter is the reading of the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. The sense 
■would seem to require, as Tyrwhitt conjectures, s/ow/Ae instead oi thought, 
but this reading is not found in the MSS. The Lansd. MS. reads with 
Tvrwhitt, youthc. 


To scone rype and bold, as men may se, 

"VVliich is ful perilous, and hath ben yore; 

For al to soone may sche leme lore 

Of boldeuesse, whan sche is a wyf. 

And ye maystresses in youre olde lyf 

That lordes doughtres han in govemaunce, 

Ne taketh of my word no displesaunce : 

Thinketh that ye ben set in goveruynges 13490 

Of lordes doughtres, oouly for tuo thinges ; 

Outlier for ye han kept your honeste, 

Other elles for ye han falle in frelete, 

And knowe wel y-uough the olde dauuce, 

And conne forsake fully such meschaunce 

For evermo: therfore, for Cristes sake, 

Kepeth wel tho that ye undertake. 

A theof of venisoun, that hath for-laft 

His licorousnesse, and al his theves craft, 

Can kepe a forest best of every man. 13500 

Now kepe hem wel, for and ye wil ye can : 

Loke wel, that ye unto no vice assent, 

Lest ye be dampued for your wikked entent, 

For who so doth, a tray tour is certayn: 

And taketh keep of that th:^it I schal sayn ; 

Of al tresoun sovereyn pestilence 

Is, whan a \vight bytrayeth innocence. 

Ye fadres, and ye modres eek also. 

Though ye han children, be it oon or mo. 

13497. This line is given from tlie Harl. and Lansil. MSS., instead of 
Tyrwbitl's reading, To teche hem I'erlue lake that ijc ne slake. 

13501 — kipc hem. The Hurl. MS. rcad.s, hir, apparonlly iucorrcctlv. 


Youre is the charge of al her sufferaunce, 13510 

Wliiles thay be under your govemaunce. 

Beth war, that by ensample of youre lyvynge, 

Outher by necghgence in chastisynge, 

That thay ne perische : for I dar wel seye, 

If that thay doon, ye schul ful sore abeye. 

Under a schepherd softe and necligent, 

The wolf hath many a schep and lamb to-rent. 

Sufficeth oon ensample now as hei'e, 

For I moot turne agein to my matiere. 

This mayde, of which I telle my tale expresse, 13520 
So kept hir self, hir neded no maystresse ; 
For in hir lyvjnag maydens mighte rede, 
As in a book, every good word and dede, 
That longeth unto a mayden vertuous : 
Sche was so prudent and so bounteous. 
For which the fame outsprong on every syde 
Bothe of hir beaute and hir bounte 'wyde : 
That thurgh the loud thay praysed hir ilkoone, 
That lovede vertu, save enyje alloone, 
That sory is of other mennes wele, 13530 

And glad is of his sorwe and unhele. 
The doctor made this descripcioun. 
This mayde wente upon a day into the toun 
Toward the temple, with hir moder deere, 
As is of yonge maydenes the manere. 

lS5lO—siiffcraniicc. So (he Harl. and Lansd. MSS. Tyrwbitt reads, 

1 3532 — The doctor. In the margin of a MS. quoted by Tyrwhitt this 
description of envy is ascribed to St. Augustine. 


Now was ther tliau a justice in the toun, 
That govemoui" was of that regioun. 
And so bifel, this juge his eyghen cast 
Upon tliis maycle, avjsing hir ful fast, 
As sche cam forby ther the juge stood. 13640 

Anoon his herte chaunged and his mood, 
So was he caught with beaute of this mayde, 
And to him self ful prively he sayde, 
" Tliis mayde schal be myn for any man." 
Anoon the feend into his herte ran, 
And taughte him sodeinly, that he by slighte 
This mayde to his purpos wynne mighte. 
For certes, by no fors, ne by no meede, 
Him thought he was not able for to speede ; 
For sche was strong of frendes, and eek sche 13550 
Conformed was in such soverayne beaute, 
That wel he wist he might hir never wynne. 
As for to make liir with hir body syinie. 
For which witli gret deliberacioun 
He sent after a clerk was in the toun, 
The which he knew for subtil and for bold. 
This juge unto the clerk his tale hath told 
In secre wyse, and made him to assure, 

13551 — con formed ... .heanle. This is the reading of the Harl. and 
Lands. MSS. Tyrwhitt reads confermed and hoimte, which seem to make 
a better sense. 

13557 — clerk. This is the reading of the Harl. and Lands. MSS. Tyi- 
whitt, who gives the reading cherl, saj's he took it from " tlie best MSS. 
and Kd. Ca. 2. The common Editt. have client. In the Rom. de la R. 
where this story is tokl, vcr. 5815 — 5894, Claudius is cnWcA Scrgeiit of 
Appius: and accordingly Chaucer a little lower, vcr. 12204, calls him 
' servant — unto — .^ppius.' " Clerk seems the better reading, as a cherl 
would hardly possess thrals or bondsmen. 


He scliulde telle it to no creature; 

And if he dede be scliulde lese his heed. 13560 

Whan that assented was this cursed reed, 

Glad was the juge, and made Mm gret cheere, 

And gaf him giftes precious and deere. 

Whan schapen was al this conspiracye 
Fro pojnt to pojnt, how that his leccherie 
Parformed scholde be M subtilly, 
As ye schul here after-ward openly, 
Hom goth this clerk, that highte Claudius. 
This false juge, that highte Apius, — 
(So was his name, for it is no fable, 13570 

But loiowen for a storial thing notable ; 
The sentence of it soth is out of doute) — 
This false jugge goth now fast aboute 
To hasten his delit al that he may. 
And so bifel, soone after on a day 
This false juge, as telleth us the story, 
As he was wont, sat in his consistory. 
And gaf his domes upon sondry caas ; 
This false clerk com forth a ful good paas, 
And saide: " Lord, if that it be your wille, 13580 

As doth me right upon this pitous bille, 
In which I pleyne upon Virginius. 
And if he wile seyn it is nought thus, 
I wil it prove, and fynde good witnesse, 
That soth is that my bille wol expresse." 
The juge answerd: " Of this in his absence 
I may not give diffinityf sentence. 
Let do him calle, and T wol gladly hiere; 


Thou schalt have alle riglit, and no wrong heere." 
Virginias com to wite the jugges wille, 13590 

And right anoon was red this cursed bille ; 
The sentence of it was as ye schul heere. 

" To yow, my lord sire Apius so deere, 
Scheweth youre pore servaunt Claudius, 
How that a knight called Virginius, 
Ageins the lawe, agens alle equyte, 
Holdeth, expresse against the wille of me, 
My servaunt, which that my thral is by riglit, 
Which fro myn hous was stolen on a night 
Whiles sche was ful youg, that wol I preve isfloo 

By Avitnesse, lord, so that ye yow not grave ; 
Sche is nought his doughter, what so he say. 
Wherfore to yow, my lord the jugge, I pray, 
Yelde me my thralle, if that it be your willa." 
Lo, this was al the sentence of the bille. 

Virginius gan upon tha clerk byholda : 
But hastily, er he his tale tolde. 
And wolde have proved it, as schold a knight. 
And eek by A\'itnessyng of many a wight, 
That al was fals that sayda his adversaria, i^eio 

This cursed juge wold no longer tarye, 
Na haare a w^ord more of Virginius, 
But gaf his jugement, and saide thus : 
' I dame anoon this clerk his servaunt have. 
Thou schalt no longer in thin hous hir save. 
Go biinga hir forth, and put hir in oure warde. 

13615— «orc So MS. Lansd ; MS. Ilarl. rends have. 


This clerk schal have his thral ; thus I awarde." 

And whau tliis worthy knight Virginius, 
Thurgh thasseut of this juge Apius, 
Moste by force his deere doughter given 13620 

Unto the juge, in lecchery to Ip'en, 
He goth him horn, and sette him in his halle, 
And leet anoon his deere doughter calle : 
And with a face deed as aisshen colde, 
Upon hir humble face he gan byholde, 
With fadres pite stildng thoinigh his herte, 
Al wolde he from his purpos not converte. 
" Doughter," quod he, " Virginia by name, 
Ther ben tuo weyes, eyther deth or schame. 
That thou most suffre, alias that I was bore ! 13630 
For never thou deservedest wherfore 
To deyen with a swerd or ■snth a knyf. 
O deere doughter, ender of my lif, 
Which I have fostred up with such plesaunce, 
That thou nere never oute of my remembraunce : 
O doughter, which that art my laste wo. 
And in this lif my laste joye also, 
O gemme of chastite in pacience 
Tak thou thy deth, for this is my sentence ; 
For love and not for hate thou must be deed, 13640 

13640 — For love. Rom. de la R. vol. ii, p. 77. 
Car il par ainors, sans haine, 
A sa belle fiUe Virgine 
Taiitost a la teste copce, 
Et puis au juge presentee 
Devant tons en plain conshtoirt : 
Et li jnges, selonc Vcstoire, 
Le commanda tantost a prendre, etc. 
See below, v. 13670—3. 


My pitous liond mot smyteii of thin heed. 

Alias that ever Apius the say ! 

Thus hath he falsly jugged the to day." 

And told hir al the caas, as ye bifore 

Han herd, it nedeth nought to telle it more. 

" Mercy, deere fader," quod this mayde. 
And with that word sche bothe hir armes layde 
Aboute his nekke, as sche was want to doo, 
(The teeres brast out of hir eyghen tuo), 
And sayde : " Goode fader, schal I dye ? 136.10 

Is ther no grace '? is ther no remedye ?" 

" No, certeyn, deere doughter myn," quod he. 

" Than geve me leve, fader myn," quod sche, 

" My deth for to compleyne a litel space : 
For pardy Jepte gaf his doughter grace 
For to compleyne, er he hir slough, alias ! 
And God it woot, no thing was hir trespas, 
But that sche ran hir fader first to se. 
To welcome him with gret solempnite." 
And with that word aswoun sche fel anoon, 136C0 

And after, whan hir swownyng was agoon, 
Sche liseth up, and to hir fader sayde : 

" Blessed be God, that I schal deye a mayde. 
Geve me my deth, er that I have a schame. 
Do with your child your wille, a goddes name !" 
And with that word sche prayed him ful ofte. 
That with his swerd he schulde smyte hir softe ; 

13G55— Jepte. The Hurl, ami Lansil. MSS read, Jeffa. This refer- 
ence to Jpphtha's (liiughter is one of the aiiaclironisms so coinmon iu the 
medieval poets, aud which arc lound so late even as the age of Shakespeare. 


And with that word on swomie domi sche fel. 

Hir fader, with ful sonvful hert and fel, 

Hir heed of smoot, and by the top it hente, 13670 

And to the juge bigan it to presente, 

As he sat in his doom in concistoiy. 

And wlian the juge it say, as saith the story, 

"He bad to take him, and honge him faste. 

But right anoon alia the poeple in thraste 

To save the knight, for routhe and for pite, 

For knowen was the fals iniquite. 

The poeple anoon had suspect in tliis thing, 

By maner of this clerkes chalengyng, 

That it was by thassent of Apius ; 13680 

That wuste wel that he was leccherous. 

For which unto this Apius tliay goon. 

And casten him in prisouu right anoon, 

Wher as he slough him self; and Claudius, 

That sei'vaunt was imto this Apius, 

Was demed for to honge upon a tree ; 

But Virginius of his grete pite 

Prayde for him, that he was exiled, 

And elles certes he had ben bigiled : 

The remenaunt were anhanged, more and lesse, 13690 

That were consented to this cursednesse. 

Her may men se how synne hath his merite : 
Be war, for no man woot how God wol smyte 
In no degre, ne in which maner wise 
The worm of conscience wol agrise 
Of wicked lyf, though it so pi^y^-e be. 
That no man woot of it but God and he : 


Whether that he be lewed man or lered, 
He not how soone that he may be afered. 
Therfore I rede jow this comiseil take, 13700 

Forsakith synne, er synne yow forsake. 


OwRE ost gan swere as he were wood ; 
' Harrow!" quod he, " by nayles and by blood ! 
Tliis was a cursed thef, a fals justice. 
As schendful deth, as herte can devise, 
So falle upon his body and his boones ! 
The devel I bykenne him al at oones ! 
Alias ! to deere boughte sche hir beaute. 
Wherfore I say, that alle men may se, 
That giftes of fortune or of nature 13710 

Ben cause of deth of many a creature. 
Hir beaute was hir deth, I dar wel sayn ; 
Alias ! so pitously as sche was slayn ! 
[Of bothe giftes, that I speke of now, 
Men han ful often more for harm than prow.] 

" But trewely, myn owne maister deere, 
This was a pitous tale for to heere : 
But nathelcs, pas over, this is no fors. 
I pray to God to save thi gentil corps, 

13706 — So falk, etc. Instead of this and the following line, Tyrwhitt 
reads : — 

Come to thise jiiges and hir advocas. 
A]f;ate this scly inaide is slain, alas! 
13714,6. Tliese two hncs are omitted in the Harl. MS., and tliey seem 
superfluous. Tyrwhitt has made them up from more than one MS. 


And eek thyn uriuals, and tliy jordanes, 13720 

Thyn Ypocras, and eek thy Galianes, 

And every boist ful of tlii letuaiie, 

God blesse hem and oure lady seiute Marie ! 

So mot I then, thou art a propre man, 

And y-lik a prelat, by seint Kunyan. 

Sayde I not -wel ? can I not speke in terme ? 

But wel I woot, thou dost myn herte erme, 

I have almost y-caught a cardiacle : 

By coi-pus boones, but I have triacle, 

Other elles a draught of moyst and corny ale, 13730 

Other but I hiere anoon a mery tale, 

Myn hert is brost for pite of that mayde. 

Thow pardoner, thou belamy," he sayde, 
" Tel us a tale, for thou canst many oon." 

" It schal be doon," quod he, "and that anoon. 

But first," quod he, " her at this ale-stake 

I wil both drynke and byten on a cake." 

But right anoon the gentils gan to crie, 
" Nay, let him tell en us no ribaudye. 

Tel us som moral thing, that "we may leere." 13740 
" Gladly," quod he, and sayde as ye schal heere. 
" But in the cuppe wil I me bethinke 

Upon som honest tale, whil I drinke." — 

"Lordyngs," quod he, "in chirche whan I preche, 

13720.1. These two lines are also omitted in the Harl. MS., but they 
seem necessary for the sense, and are given here from the Lansd. MS. For 
the explanation of the last of these two lines see the note on 1. 433. 

13741.2. Instead of these two lines, Tyrwliitt and the Lansd. MS. 

Som wit, and thanne wol we gladly here. 
I graiinte y-wis, quod he, but I must thinke. 


I peyne me to have an hauteyn speche, 
And rjBg it out, as lowd as doth a belle, 
For I can al by rote that I telle. 
My teeme is alway oon, and ever was : 
Radix malorum est ciqnditas. 

" First I pronounce whennes that I come, 13750 
And thanne my bulles schewe I alle and some : 
Oure liege lordes seal upon my patent. 
That schewe I first my body to warent, 
That no man be so hardy, prest ne clerk, 
Me to destourbe of Ciistes holy werk. 
And after that than tel I forth my tales. 
Bulles of popes, and of cardynales. 
Of patiiarkes, and of bisshops, I schewe. 
And in Latyn speke I wordes fewe 
To savore with my predicacioun, 13760 

And for to stere men to devocioun. 
Thanne schewe I forth my longe cristal stoones, 
I-crammed ful of cloutes and of boones, 
Reliks thay ben, as wene thei echoon. 
Than have I in latomi a schulder boon. 
Which that was of an holy Jewes scheep. 
Good men," say I, " tak of my wordes keep : 
If that tliis boon be waische in eny welle. 
If cow, or calf, or scheep, or oxe swelle. 
That eny worm hath ete, or worm i-stonge, 1^770 

Tak water of that Avelle, and waisch his tonge. 

13719 — radix malorum. The Harl. and LanstL MSS. have radix 
omnium malonim,hvA the word omnitcm seems tobe redumlant, ami spoils 
the metre. 



And it is hool anoon : and forthermore 

Of pokkes, and of scabbe, and every sore, 

Schal every sclieep be hool, that of tliis welle 

Drynketh a draught ; tak heed eek what I telle. 

If that the goode man, that the beest oweth, 

Wol every -svike, er that the cok him croweth, 

Fastynge, drynke of this welle a draught. 

As thilke holy Jew oure eldres taught, 

His beestes and his stoor schal multiplie. 13780 

And, sires, also it kelith jalousie. 

For though a man be ful in jalous rage, 

Let make -with this water his potage, 

And never schal he more his wyf mystrist, 

Though he the soth of hir defaute wist; 

Al hadde sche take prestes tuo or thre. 

Here is a meteyn eek, that ye may see : 

He that his honde put in this metayn, 

He schal have multiplying of his grayn, 

Whan he hath sowen, be it whete or otes, 13790 

So that ye offre pans or elles grootes, 

And, men and wommen, oon thing warne I yow : 

If eny wight be in this chirche now. 

That hath doon synne orrible, that he 

Dar nought for scliame of it schiyven be : 

Or ony womman, be sche yong or old, 

That hath y-niaad hir housbond coke wold, 

Such folk schal have no power ne grace 

To offre to my relikes in this place. 

1S7Sl—kelilh. The Lansd. MS. has, -svith Tyrwhitt, heleih, which is 
perliaps the better reading. 


And who so fint him out of suche blame, i^soo 

Thay wol come up and offre in Goddes name. 
And I assoile hem by the auctorite, 
Which that by bulle was i-graunted me. 

" By this gavide have I wonne every yeer 
An hundred mark, syn I was pardoner. 
I stonde lik a clerk in my pulpit, 
And whan the lowed poeple is doun i-set, 
I preche so as ye have herd before, 
And telle hem an hondi'ed japes more. 
Than peyne I me to strecche forth my necke, 13810 
And est and west upon the poeple I bekke. 
As doth a dowfe, syttyng on a berne : 
Myn hondes and my tonge goon so yerne, 
That it is joye to se my busynesse. 
Of avarice and of such cursednesse 
Is al my preching, for to make hem fre 
To geve here pans, and namely unto me. 
For myn enteut is nought but for to wynne. 
And no thing for correccioun of syune. 
I rekke never when thay ben i-beryed. 13820 

Though that here soules gon a blakeberyed. 

" For certes many a predicacioun 
Cometh ofte tyme of evel entencioun ; 
Som for plesauns of folk and Haterie, 
To ben avaunced by ypocrisie ; 
And som for veine gloir, and som for hate. 
For whan I dar not other weys debate. 
Than wil I stynge him witli my tonge smerte 
In preching, so that he schal not asterte 


To be diffamecl falsly, if that he 13830 

Hath trespast to my bretheren or to me. 

For though I telle not his propre name, 

Men schal wel knowe that it is the same 

By signes, and by other circumstaunces. 

Thus quyt I folk, that doon us displesaunces : 

Thus put I ou.t my venym under hiewe 

Of holynes, to seme holy and trewe. 

But schortly myn entent I wol devyse, 

I preche no thing but of coveityse. 

Therfor my teem is yit, and ever was, 13840 

Radix malorum est cujndltas. 

" Thus can I preche agayn the same vice 
Which that I use, and that is avaiice. 
But though my self be gulty in the synne, 
Yit can I make other folk to twynne 
From avarice, and soone to repent. 
But that is not my principal entent ; 
I preche no thing but for coveitise. 
Of tliis matier it ought i-nough suffise. 

" Than telle I hem ensamples may oon 13850 

Of olde thinges longe tyme agoon. 
For lewed poeple loven tales olde ; 
Which thinges can thay wel report and holde. 
What ? trowe ye, whiles I may preche 
And Wynne gold and silver for I teche. 
That I wil lyve in povert wilfully ? 
Nay, nay, I thought it never trewely. 
For I wol preche and begge in sondry londes. 
I wil do no labour with mvn hondes, 


Ne make basketis and Ij^'e tlierby, 13860 

Bycause I wil nought begge ydelly. 

I wol noon of thapostles counterfete : 

I wol have money, wolle, chese, and whete, 

Al -were it geven of the prestes page, 

Or of the porest wydow in a village, 

And schold hir children sterve for famyn. 

Nay, I wol drinke licour of the wyn, 

And have a joly wenche in every toun. 

But herkneth, lordynges, in couclusioun, 

Youre likyng is that I schal telle a tale. 1^870 

Now have I dronk a draught of corny ale, 

By God, I hope I schal telle yow a thing, 

That schal by resoun be at your liking : 

For though my self be a ful vicious man, 

A moral tale yit I yow telle can. 

Which I am wont to preche, for to wynne. 

Now liold your pees, my tale I wol byginne." 


In Flaundres whilom was a companye 
Of yonge folkes, that haunted folye. 
As ryot, hasard, st}^es, and tavenies ; 13880 

Wher as with lutes, harpes, and gyternes, 

13864 — preslcf page. The Lansd. MS tcaAs jiorcd page, v<\u.<:\\'k (\io 
reading adopted by Tyrwhitt. 

The Vardoncres Tale. This beautiful moral story appears to have 
been taken from a fabliau, now lost, but of which the outline is pre- 
served in the Cento Novelle Anliche, Nov. Ixxxii, as well as the story 
itself by Chaucer. 


Thay daunce and play at dees bothe day and night, 

And ete also, and diynk over her might ; 

Thurgh which thay doon the devjl sacrifise 

Withinne the develes temple, in cursed wise, 

By supei'fluite abhominable. 

Her othes been so greet and so dampnable, 

That it is giisly for to hiere hem swere. 

Our blisful lordes body thay to-tere ; 

Hem thoughte Jewes rent him nought y-nough; 13890 

And ech of hem at otheres synne lough. 

And right anoon ther come tombesteris 

[Fetis and smale, and yonge fruitesteres, 

Singers with harpes, baudes, wafereres,] 

Whiche that ben verray develes officeres, 

To kyndle and blowe the fuyr of leccheiie. 

That is anexid unto glotonye. 

The holy wryt take I to my witnesse. 

That luxmy is in wyn and droukenesse. 

Lo, how that dronkeu Loth unkyndely isooo 

Lay by his doughtres tuo unwityngly. 

So dronk he was he niste what he wrought, 

Herodes, who so wel the story sought. 

Whan lie of wyn was repleet at his fest. 

13889 — to-tere. The common oaths in the Middle Ages were by the 
different parts of God's body ; and the popular preachers represented 
that profane swearers tore Christ's body by their imprecations. 

13893,4. These two lines are omitted in the Harl. MS. 

13898 — Jwly wryt. MS. Harl. and others have in the margin the refer- 
ence, H Nolite inebriare vino, in quo est luxuria. 

13900 — dronken Loth. This transgression of Lot is one of the most 
favourite examples, in the medieval moralists, of the ill consequences of 
drunkenness. Compare Piers Ploughman, 1. 612, et scqq. 


Eight at his oughue table gaf his hest 

To sle the baptist Johan ful gilteles. 

Seneca seith a good word douteles : 

He saith he can no difference fynde 

Betuj'x a man that is out of his mynde. 

And a man the which is dronkelewe : 13910 

But that woodnes, fallen in a schrewe, 

Persevereth leuger than doth dronkenesse. 

glutonye, ful of corsidnesse ; 
cause first of oure confusioun, 
O original of oure dampnacioim, 
Til Crist had bought us with his blood agayn ! 
Loketh, how dere, schortly for to sayn, 
Abought was first tliis cursed felonye : 
Corupt was al this world for glotonye. 
Adam our fader, and his wyf also, 13920 

Fro Paradys to labour and to wo 
Were dry^^en for that vice, it is no drede. 
For wliils that Adam fasted, as I rede. 
He was in Paradis, and whan that he 
Eet of the fruyt defendit of a tre. 
He was out cast to wo and into peyne. 
O glotony, wel ought us on the pleyne ! 
0, wist a man how many maladyes 
Fulwith of excesse and of glotonyes. 

13907 — Seneca. " Perbaps he rel'ers to Epist Ixxxiii. Extende iu 
plures Jies ilium ebrii liabituin : nuniiuiil do furore dubitatis? nunc 
quoquc nou est minor sed brevier." — TyrwhiU. 

13918 — felonye. The Lansd. MS. reads, with Tyrwbitt, vilanie. 

13923 — lohils that Adam. In the margin of MS. Harl. is the quota- 
tion, Qiianidiu jojuuavit Adam in I'aradyso fuit, coniedit et ejectus est; 
statini duxit iixorem, etc. It is from Uieronijmus contra Joviniunuin. 


He wolde be the more mesurable 13930 

Of his cliete, sittyiig at his table. 

Alias ! the schorte throte, the tendre mouth, 

Maketh that Est and West, and North and South, 

In erthe, in watir, in ayer, man to s^v}'nke, 

To gete a sely glotoun mete and drynke. 

Of this matier, Poul, wel canstow trete. 

Mete unto wombe, and wombe unto mete, 

Schal God destroyen bothe, as Powel saith. 

Alias ! a foul thing is it by my faith 

To say this word, and fouler is the dede, 13940 

Whan men so drynke of the whyt and rede, 

That of his throte he makith his prive 

Thurgh thilke cursed superfluite. 

Thapostil wepyng saith ful pitously, 

Ther walkith many, of which you told have I, 

I say it now wepjug with pitous vois, 

Thay are enemy s of Cristes croys : 

Of which the ende is deth, wombe is her God, 

wombe, o bely, o stynkyng is thi cod, 

Fulfild of dong and of corrupcioun ; 13950 

At ejAther ende of the foul is the soun. 

How gret cost and labour is the to fynde ! 

These cokes how they stamp, and streyn, and giyude. 

And torne substaunce into accident. 

To fulfille thy licorous talent ! 

139.37 — Mete unto womhe. The margin of the Harl. MS. has the quo- 
tation, Esca ventris et venter escis, Deus autem hnnc et illain destruet, etc. 

13914 — Thapodle . .saith. Philipp. iii, 18, 19, Miilti enim ambulant, 
quos sicpe dicebam vobis (nunc autem et flens dico) inimicos crucis 
Christi : quorum finis intcritiis, quorum deus venter est. 


Out of the harde boones gete thay 

The maiy, for thay caste nought away 

That may go thurgh the golet softe and soote : 

Of spicery and levys, barke and roote, 

Schal ben his sause maad to his delyt 139S0 

To make him have a uewe appetit. 

But certes he that haunteth suche delices, 

Is deed ther, whiles that he lyveth in vices. 

A licorous thing is wyn, and dronkenesse 

Is ful of stiyvyng and of wrecchednesse. 

dronke man, disfigured is thi face, 

Sour is thy breth, foul artow to embrace : 

And thurgh thi di'onkenesse sowneth the soun, 

As though thou seydest ay, Sampsoun, Sampsoun: 

And yit, God wot, Sampson drank never wyn. 139'0 

Thow fallist, as it were a stiked swyn : 

Thy tonge is lost, and al thin honest cure, 

For dronkenes is verray sepulture 

Of mannes witt and his discrecioun. 

In whom that drynk hath dominacioun, 

He can no counseil kepe, it is no di-ede. 

Ne keep yow from the wMte and from the rede, 

And namely fro the white wyn of Leepe, 

13968 — dronkenesse. Tyrwliitt has dronken nose, which is perhaps the 
better reading. 

13978 — whik ivyn of Leepe. " According to the geographers, Lepe 
was not far from Cadiz. This wine, of whatever sort it may liavo been, 
was probably much stronger than the Gascon wines, usually drunk in 
England. La Ilochellc and Bordeaux, the two chief ports of Gascony, 
were both, in Chaucer's tiuic, part of the English dominions. Spanish 
wines might also be more alluring upon account of their greater rarity. 
Among tlie Orders of the Royal Household, in 1(!01, is thi^ following. 
(MS. Harl. 2U3, fol. l(i"2.) ' Aiul whereas, in tymes past, Spanish 


That is to selle in Fleetstreet or in Chepe. 

This wyu of Spayne crepith subtily 139S0 

In other wynes growyng faste by, 

Of wliich ther riseth such fumosite, 

That whan a man hath clronke draughtes thre, 

And weneth that he be at horn in Chepe, 

He is in Spayne, right at the toun of Lepe, 

Nought at the Rocliel, ne at Burdeaux tomi; 

And thanne wol thai say, Sampsoun, Sampsoun. 

But herken, lordyngs, o word, I you pray, 

That alle the soverayn actes, dar I say. 

Of victories in the Olde Testament, 13990 

Tliat thurgh the verray God omnipotent 

Were doon in abstinence and in prayere : 

Lokith the Bible, and ther ye may it hiere. 

Loke Atthila, the grete conqueroui", 

Deyd in his sleep, with schame and dishonour, 

Bleed}Tig ay at his nose in dronkenesse : 

A captayn schuld ay lyve in sobrenesse. 

And over al this, avyse yow right wel. 

What was comaimded unto Lamuel ; 

Nought Samuel, but Lamuel say I. 14000 

wines, called sacke, were little or noe whit use in our courte, and that 
in later years, thouglinot ofordinary allowance, it was thought convenient, 
that noblemen, etc. might have a houle or glass, etc. Vi'e understiinding 
that it is now used as common drinke, etc., reduce the allowance to twelve 
gallons a day for the court, etc.'" — TyrwhUt. 

13979 — Fleetstreet. So the Harl MS. The Lansd. MS. reads Fische- 
streie, which is the reading adopted by Tyrwhitt. 

13993 — Mere. The Lansd. MS. and Tyrwhitt have, Zere. 

13994 — Atthila. Atlila died in the night suffocated by an hsemorrage, 
brought on by a debauch, in the year 4d3, when he was preparing for a 
new invasion of Italy. 


Eedith the Bible, aud fyndetli expresly 
Of wyn gevyng to hem that han justice. 
No more of this, for it may wel suffice. 
And now that I have spoke of glotonye, 
Now wil I yow defeude hasardrye. 

Hasard is verray moder of lesynges, 
And of deceipt, and cursed forsweringes : 
Blaspheme of Crist, manslaught, and wast also 
Of catel, aud of tyme ; and forthermo 
It is reproef, and contrair of honour, 14010 

For to be halde a comun hasardour. 
And ever the heyer he is of astaat. 
The more is he holden desolaat. 
If that a prince use hasardrie, 
In alle governance and policie 
He is, as by comun opinioun, 
Holde the lasse in reputacioun. 
Stilbon, that was a Avis embasitour. 
Was sent unto Corinthe with gret honour 
Fro Lacidome, to make hir alliaunce : 14020 

And whan he cam, him happede^jar chaunce, 
That alle the grettest that were of that lend 
Playing atte hasard he hem fond. 

WQOl^Rcdith the Bible. See Proverbs xxiii. 

14020 — Lacidome. The Lansdowne MS. reads Calidonye, and 
Tyrwbitt adopts Calidone in liis text, but be observes in the note, " John 
of Sahsbury, from whom our author probably took this story and the 
following, calls him Chilon. Polycrat. lib. i, c. 5. Cbilon Lacedsemonius, 
jugendffi societatis causa missus Corintlium, duces ct seniores populi lu- 
dentes invonit in alea. Infecto itaquo negntio reversus est, &c. Ac- 
cordingly in ver. 11()20, IMS. C. 1. reads vtry rightly Lacedomye instead 
of Calidone, the couunon reading. Our author lias before used Lacedomie 
for Lacedamon." 


For which, as sooue as it mighte be, 

He stal him hoom ageiu to his contre, 

And saide ther : " I nyl nought less my name, 

I nyl not take on me so gret diffame, 

Yow for to allie unto noon hasardoures. 

Sendeth som other wise embasitoures, 

For by my trouthe, me were lever dye, i^oso 

Than I yow scholde to hasardours allye. 

For ye, that ben so glorious in honoures, 

Schal not allie yow with hasardoures, 

As by my wil, ne as by my trete." 

This wise philosophre thus said he. 

Lo eek how that the king Demetrius 
The king of Parthes, as the book saith us, 
Sent him a paire dees of gold in scorn. 
For he had used hasard ther to-forn : 
For which he hield his gloir and liis renoun 14040 
At no valieu or reputacioun. 
Lordes may fynde other maner play 
Honest y-nough to dryve away the day. 

Now wol I speke of othes fals and grete 
A word or tuo, as other bookes entrete. 
Gret sweiing is a thing abhominable, 
And fals swering is more reprovable. 
The hyhe God forbad sweryng at al, 
Witnes on Mathew : but in special 
Of sweryng saith the holy Jeremye, ^4050 

Thou schalt say soth thin othes, and not lye ; 

14038 — hazard. This is Tyrwhitt's reading, supported by the Lansd. 
MS. which reads ha^ardnj. The Harl. MS. reads tavern, which docs not 
agree so well with the context. 


And swere in doom, and eek in rightwisnes ; 
But ydel sweryng is a cursednes. 
Bihold and se, ther in the firste table 
Of hihe Goddes lieste honuraLle, 
How that the secounde heste of him is this : 
Tak not in ydel my name or amys. 
Lo, rather he forbedith such sweryng, 
Than homicide, or many a corsed thing. 
I say that as by order thus it stondith ; 14060 

This knoweth he that the hestes understondeth. 
How that the second hest of God is that. 
And forthermore, I wol the telle a plat, 
That vengance schal not parte fro his hous, 
That of his othes is outrageous. 
" By Goddes precious hert, and by his nayles, 
And by the blood of Crist, that is in Hayles, 
Seven is my chaunce, and also cink and tray ! 
By Goddes armes, and thou falsly play, 
This daggere schal thurgh thin herte goo!" 14070 

14066 — his nayles. Not his finger nails, but the nails with which he 
was nailed to the cross. These were objects of superstition in the Middle 
Ages. Sir John Maundeville, c. vii, says, " And thereby in the walle is the 
place where the four nayles of oure Lord weren hidd ; for he had two in 
his houdcs, and two in his feet ; and of on of theise the emperour of 
Constantynoble made a brydille to his hors, to here him in bataylle ; and 
thorghe vertue thereof ho overcam his eneniyes, «&c." He had said before, 
c. ii. that " on of the nayles that Crist was naylled with on the cros," 
was at Constantynoble ; and " on in France, in the kinges chapelle." 

14067 — blood. Hayles. " The abbey of Hailcs,in Gloucestershire, 
was founded by Richard king of the Romans, brother to Henry HI. 
This precious relick, which was afterwards commonly called ' the blood 
of Hailes,' was brought out of Germany by the son of Richard, Edmund, 
who bestowed a third part of it upon his lather's abbey of Hailes, and 
some time after gave the other two parts to an abbc}' of his own 
foundation, at Ashrug, near Berkham^5ted. Hollinsh. v. ii. p. 275.'' 
— Tymhill. 


This fi'Liyt Cometh of the bicchid boones tuo, 
Forswering, ire, falsnes, homicide. 
Now for the love of Crist that for us dyde, 
Levith youre othis, bothe gret and smale. 
But, sires, now wol I telle forth my tale. 
These riottoures thre, of which I telle, 
Longe erst than prime rong of eny belle. 
Were set hem in a tavern for to drynke : 
And as thay sat, thay herd a belle clinke 
Bifom a corps, was caried to the grave : 14080 

That oon of hem gan calle unto his knave, 

" Go bet," quoth he, " and axe I'edily, 
What corps is that, that passeth her forthby : 
And loke that thou report his name wel." 

" Sire," quod he, " but that nedeth never a del; 
It was me told er ye com heer tuo houres ; 
He was, pardy, an old felaw of youres. 
And sodeinly he was i-slayn to night ; 
For-dronk as he sat on his bench upright, 
Ther com a pi'ive thef, men clepen Deth, 14090 

That in this contre al the peple sleth. 
And with his spere he smot his hert a-tuo, 
And went his way "ftithoute wordes mo. 

14071 — hicchid hoones. This is the general reading of the manu- 
scripts, and Tyrwhitt acted unadvisedly in changing it to hicchel. 
Bicched bones appears to have been not an uncommon term for dice : 
in the Towneley mystery of the Processus Talevtorum, where the 
executioners are deciding their right to Christ's tunic by throwing the 
dice, one of them (p. 241), -who has lost, exclaims, — 

I was falsly begj'lyd withe thise hyched holies, 
Ther cursyd thay be ! 


He hatli a thousand slayn this pestilence. 
And, maister, er ye come in his presence, 
Me tliinketh that it is ful necessarie, 
For to be war of such an adversarie : 
Beth redy for to meete him evermore. 
Thus taughte me my dame, I say nomore." 

" By seinte Mary! " sayde this taveruer, ^^i^*^ 

" The child saith soth ; for he hath slayn this yeer, 
Hens over a myle, withinne a gret village, 
Bothe man and womman, child, and hyne, and page ; 
I trowe his habitacioun be tliere. 
To ben avysed gret wisdom it were, 
Er that he dede a man that dishonour." 

"Ye, Goddis armes!" quod this ryottour, 

" Is it such peril with him for to meete? 
I schal him seeke by way and eek by strete. 
I make avow to Groddis digne boones! nwo 

Herlineth, felaws, we thre ben al oones : 
Let ech of us hold up his hond to other, 
And ech of us bycome otheres brother. 
And we wil slee this false traitour Deth : 
He schal be slayne, that so many sleeth, 
By Goddis dignete, er it be night!" 

Togideres ban these thre here trouthes plight 
To lyve and deye ech of hem with other. 
As though he were his oughne swonie brother. 

14103 — and hyne. I have inserted these two words, which are not 
in MSS. Harl. and Lansd , from Tyrwhitt; they appear necessary to 
complete the hue. 

14119 — stvorne. Tyrwhitt reads ioren, but he does not appear to have 
heen aware of the frequency of tliis sworn fraternity in medieval story. 



And up thai startyn, al clronke in this rage, lii^o 

And forth thai goon towardes that village, 

Of which the taverner hath spoke biforn, 

And many a grisly oth than han thay sworn. 

And Cristes blessed body thay to-rent ; 

Deth schal be deed, if that they may him hent. 

Right as thay wolde have torned over a style, 

Whan thai liau goon nought fully a myle, 

An old man and a pore with hem mette. 

This olde man ful mekely hem grette, 

And saide thus: " Lordynges, God yow se!" ^4130 

The proudest of the ryotoures thre 

Answerd agein, "What? carle, with sory grace. 
Why artow al for-wrapped save thi face? 

Whi lyvest thou so longe in so gret age?" 

This olde man gan loke on his ^dsage, 

And saide thus: "For that I can not fynde 

A man, though that I walke into Inde, 

Neither in cite noon, ne in village. 

That wol cliaunge his youthe for myn age ; 

And therfore moot I have myn age stille m-^o 

As longe tyme as it is Goddes wille. 

And deth, alias ! ne wil not have my lif. 

Thus walk I lik a resteles caytif. 

And on the ground, which is my modres gate, 

I kirokke with my staf, erly and late. 

And saye, ' Leeve moder, let me in. 

Lo, how I wane, fleisch, and blood, and skyn. 

Alias ! whan schuln my boones ben at rest? 

Moder, with yow wil I chaunge my chest, 


That in my chamber longe tyme hath be, i^'-'O 

Ye, for au haire clout to wrap in me.' 

But yet to me sche wol not do that grace, 

For ■which ful pale ami welkid is my face. 

But, sires, to yow it is no curtesye 

To speke unto an old man vilonye, 

But he trespas in word or elles in dede. 

In holy writ ye may your self wel rede, 

Agens an old man, hoor upon his hede, 

Ye schold arise : wherfor I yow rede, 

Ne doth unto an old man more harm now% i-^'^o 

Namore than ye wolde men dede to yow 

In age, if that ye may so long abyde. 

And God be with you, wherso ye go or ryde ! 

I moot go tliider as I have to goo." 
"Nay, olde cherl, by God! thou schalt not so," 

Sayde that other hasardour anoon ; 
" Thou partist nought so lightly, by seint Johan! 

Thou spak right now of tliilke traitour Deth, 

That in this centre alle oure frendes sleth ; 

Have her my trouth, as thou art his aspye, i ti7a 

Tel wher ho is, or elles thou schalt dye. 

By God and by that holy sacrament ! 

For sothly thou art oon of his assent 

To slen us yonge folk, thou false theef." 
" Now, sires, than if that yow be so leef 

To fynde Deth, torn up this croked way, 

For in that grove I laft him, by my fay! 

Under a tree, and ther he wil abyde; 

Ne for your host he nyl hini no tiling hyde. 

T 2 


Se ye that ook? right ther ye schuhi him fjnde. 14180 
God save yow, that bought agein mankynde, 
And yow amend." Thus sayde this olde man, 
And everich of these riotoures ran, 
Til thay come to the tre, and ther thay founde 
Of florins fyn of gold y-coyned rounde, 
Wei neygh a seven busshels, as hem thought. 
No lenger thanne after Deth thay sought ; 
But ech of hem so glad was of that sight, 
For that the florens so faire were and bright. 
That doun thai sette hem by that precious hord. 14190 
The yongest of hem spak the firste word. 
" Bretheren," quod he, " take keep what I schal say; 
My witte is gret, though that I bourde and play. 
This tresour bath fortune to us given 
In mirth and jolyte our lif to lyven, 
And lightly as it comth, so wil we spende. 
Ey, Goddis precious dignite ! who wende 
To day, that we schuld have so fair a grace? 
But might this gold be caried fro this place 
Horn to myn hous, or ellis unto youres, 1*200 

(For wel I wot that this gold is nought oures). 
Than were we in heyh felicite. 
But trewely by day it may not be; 
Men wolde say that we were theves stronge, 
And for oure tresour doon us for to honge. 
This tresour moste caried be by night 
As wysly and as slely as it might. 

11186 — a seven busshels. So MS?. Harl. aud Lansd. Tjrwhitt reads, 

■an eighle busshels. 


Wherfore I rede, that cut among us alle 

We clrawe, and let se wlier the cut wil falle : 

And he that hath the cut, with herte blithe 14210 

Schal renne to the toun, and that ful smthe, 

And bring us bred and wyu ful prively : 

And tuo of us schal kepe subtilly 

This tresour wel : and if he wil not tarie, 

Whan it is night, we wol this tresour cane 

By oon assent, ther as us liketh best." 

That oon of hem the cut brought in his fest. 
And bad hem drawe and loke wher it wil falle, 
And it fel on the yongest of hem alle : 
And forth toward the toim he went anoon. 142-20 

And al so soone as he was agoon, 
That oon of hem spak thus unto that other : 

" Thow wost wel that thou art my swonie brother, 
Thy profyt wol I telle the anoon. 
Thow wost wel that our felaw is agoon, 
And her is gold, and that ful gret plente, 
That schal departed be among us thre. 
But natheles, if I can schape it so. 
That it departed were bitwix us tuo, 
Had I not doon a frendes torn to the?" 14230 

That other answerd : "I not how that may be: 
He wot wel that the gold is with us tway. 
What schulde we than do ? what schuld we say ?" 

" Schal it be counsail ?" sayde the ferste schrewe, 

" And I schal telle the in wordes fewe 
What we schul doon, and bringe it wel aboute." 

" I graunte," quod that other, " withoute doute, 


That by my troutlie I wil the nought bywray." 

" Now," quod the first, "thouwost wel we ben tway, 
And two of us schuhi stronger be than oon. 14240 
Lok, whanne he is sett, thou right anoon 
Arys, as though thou woldest with him pleye ; 
And I schal ryf him thurgh the sydes tweye, 
Whils that thou strogelest with him as in game, 
And mth thi dagger loke thou do the same ; 
And than schal al the gold departed be, 
My dere frend, bitwixe the and me : 
Than may we oure lustes al fulfille, 
And play at dees right at our owne wille." 
And thus accorded ben these schrewes twayn, I42o0 
To sle the thridde, as ye herd me sayn. 

This yongest, which that wente to the tomi, 
Ful fast in hert he rollith up and doun 
The beaute of the florins newe and bright : 
" O Lord !" quod he, " if so w'ere that I might 
Have al this gold mito my self alloone, 
Ther is no man that lyveth under the troone 
Of God, that schulde lyve so meiy as I." 
And atte last the feend oure enemy 
Put in his thought, that he schuld poysoun beye, 1^260 
With which he mighte sle his felaws tweye. 
For why, the feend fond him in such lyvynge. 
That he had leve to sorwe him to biynge. 
For this witterly was his ful entent 
To slen hem bothe, and never to repent. 
And forth he goth, no longer wold he tary. 
Into the toun unto a potecary. 


And prayde him that he him wolde selle 

Som poysomi, that he might his rattis quelle. 

And eek ther was a polkat in his liawe, 14270 

That, as he sayde, his capomis had i-slawe : 

And said he wold him wreke, if that he might, 

On vermyn, that destroyed him by night. 

Thapotecary answerd : " And thou schalt have 

A thing that, also God my soule save. 

In al this world ther nys no creature, 

That ete or dronk had of this confecture, 

Nought but the mountaunce of a com of whete, 

That he ne schuld his lif anoon for-lete ; 

Ye, sterve he schal, and that in lasse while, 14280 

Than thou wilt goon a paas not but a myle ; 

The poysoun is so strong and violent." 

This cursed man hath in his bond i-hent 

This poysoun in a box, and sins he ran 

Into the nexte stret unto a man, 

And borwed of him large hotels thre ; 

And in the two his poysoun j)oured he ; 

The thrid he keped clene for his drynke, 

For al the night he schop him for to swynke 

In carying the gold out of that place. 14290 

And whan this riotour, with sory grace, 

Hath fiUid with wyn his grete hotels thre, 

To his felaws agein repaireth he. 

What neditli it therof to sermoun more ? 
For right as thay had cast his deth bifore, 
Right so thay han him slayn, and that anoon. 
And whan this was i-doon, thus spak that oon ; 


" Now let us diynk and sitte, and make us mery 
And siththen we wil liis body bery." 
And afterward it happed him 2iar cas, 14300 

To take the hotel ther the poysoun was, 
And drank, and gaf liis felaw drink also. 
For which anon thay sterved bothe tuo. 
But certes I suppose that A\'ycen 
Wrot never in canoun, ne in non fen. 
Mo wonder sorwes of empoisonyng, 
Than hadde these wrecches tuo or here endyng. 
Thus endid been these homicides tuo, 
And eek the fals empoysoner also. 

O cursed sjTine ful of cursednesse ! 14310 

O traytorous homicidy ! O wikkednesse ! 
glotony, luxiuie, and hasardrye ! 
Thou blasphemour of Crist with vilanye, 
And othes grete, of usage and of pride ! 
Alias ! maukynde, how may it bytyde, 
That to thy creatour, which that the wrought, 
And with his precious herte-blood the bought, 
Thou art so fals and so unkynde, alias ! 

" Now, good men, God forgeve yow your trespas, 
And ware yow fro the synne of avarice. 14320 

Myn holy pardoun may you alle warice, 
So that ye ofFren noblis or starlinges. 
Or elles silver spones, broches, or rynges. 

14304-^^i!;(/ccn. The Harl. MS. reads, Amycen. Avicenna was one 
of the most distiiigui.shed physicians of the Arabian school of the eleventh 
century, and enjoyed great popularity in the Middle Ages. 


Bo with your hedes under this holy bulle. 

Cometh forth, ye wyves, aud offveth your wolle; 

Your uames I entre her in my rolle anoon ; 

Into the bHs of heven schul ye goon ; 

I yow assoile by myn heyh power, 

If ye woln offre, as clene and eek als cler 

As ye were boni. And, sires, lo, thus I preche; 14330 

And Jhesu Crist, that is oure soules leche, 

So graunte yow his pardoun to receyve ; 

For that is best, I wil not yow disceyve. 

But, sires, o word forgat I in my tale ; 

I have reliks and pardoun in my male, 

As fair as eny man in Engelond, 

Which were me geve by the popes hond. 

If eny of yow wol of devocioun 

Offren, and have myn absolucioun, 

Cometh forth anon, and knelith her adoun, 14340 

And ye schul have here my pardoun. 

Or elles takith pardoun, as ye wende, 

Al newe and freissch at every townes ende, 

So that ye offren alway new and newe 

Nobles and pens, which that ben good and trewe. 

It is an honour to every that is heer, 

That ye may have a suffisaunt pardoner 

Tassoile yow in contre as ye ryde, 

For aventures which that may bytyde. 

143 11 — Ajid ye scliul have here. Tyrwliitt Tends, And ineekly rcceiveth. 
The Lansd. MS. reads this and following line on a dillerent rhyme,— 
Commeth ibr auone, and kiieleth adowne here, 
And yc schal have my pardon that is dere. 


For paraanter ther may falle oon, or tuo, 14350 

Doiin of his hors, and breke his nelvke a-tuo. 
Loke, such a seui'ete is to you alle 
That I am in your felaschip i-falle, 
That may assoyle you bothe more and lasse, 
Whan that the soule schal fro the body passe. 
I rede that oure hoste schal bygynne, 
For he is most envoliped in synne. 
Com forth, sire ost, and offer first anoon, 
And thou schalt Idsse tlie rehqiiis everichoon, 
Ye, for a grote; unbocle anon thi purs." 14360 

" Nay, nay," quod he, " than have I Cristes curs! 
Let be," quod he, "it schal not be, so theech. 
Thou woldest make me kisse thin olde breech, 
And swere it were a relik of a seynt. 
Though it were with thy foundement depeynt. 
But by the cros, which that seynt Heleyn fond, 
I wold I had thy coylons in myn hond. 
In stede of reliks, or of seintuary. 
Let cut hem of, I wol help hem to cary; 
Thay scluil be schryned in an hogges tord." I'l^TO 
This Pardoner answerde nat o word ; 
So wroth he was, he wolde no word say. 

" Now," quod oure host, " I wol no lenger play 
With the, ne with noon other angry man." 
But right anoon the worthy laiight bygan, 
(Whan that he saugh that al the peple lough) 
" No more of this, for it is right y-nough. 
Sir Pardoner, be glad and mery of cheere ; 
And ye, sir host, that ben to me so deere, 


I pray yow that ye kisse tlie Pardoner ; i-^sso 

And, Pardoner, I pray yow draweth yow ner, 
And as we dede, let us laugh and play." 
Anon thay Idsse, and riden forth her way. 


[Our hoste upon his stirrops stode anon, 
And saide, " Good men, herkeneth everichon. 
This was a thrifty tale for the nones. 
Sire parish preest," quod he, " for Goddes bones. 
Tell us a tale, as was thy forward yore : 
I see wel that ye lerned men in lore 
Can mochel good, by Goddes dignitee." 14390 

The Person him auswerd : " Benedicite ! 
What eileth the man, so sinfully to swere ?" 

The Schipmannes Prologe. Tlie Sliipinan's tale has no prologue iu the 
Harl. MS., and in otlier of the best copies of the Canterbury Tales. The 
prologue here given is from Tyrwliitt, who observes, — " The tale of the 
Shipmau in the best MSS. has no prologue. "What has been printed as 
such in the common editions is evidently spurious. To supply this defect 
I have ventured, upon the authority of one MS. (and, I confess, not one 
of tlie best) to prefix to this tale the prologue, which has usually been 
prefixed to the tale of the Squier. As this prologue was undoubtedly 
composed by Chaucer, it must have had a place somewhere in this edi- 
tion, and if I cannot prove that it was really intended by him for this 
place, I think the reader will allow that it fills the vacancy exti'emely 
well. The Pardonercs tale may very properly be called a thrifty tale, 
and he himself a learned man (ver. 14475,8); and all the latter part, 
though highly improper in the moutli of the curlcis Squier, is perfectly 
suited to the character of the Shipman." The following short and dog- 
gerel prologue to the Shipman's Tale, from the Lansd. MS., is given only 
as an example of the way in which difl'erent persons attempted to supply 
the deficiencies in Chaucer's unfinished work : — 

15ot than spak ourc oste unto maister Schipman, 
" Mai.ster," quod he, " to us sumrae tale tel ye can, 

Wherewithe ye myght glad al this company, 

If it were youre pleseingc, I wotc wele sckurlye." 
" Sertes," quod this Schipman, " a tale I can telle. 

And tlurfore hrrkruoth hyiidtrward how that I will !>pelle.' 


Our hoste answercl: "O Jankin, be ye there ? 

Now, good men," quod our hoste, " herkneth to me. 

I smell a loller in the wind," quod he. 
" Abideth for Goddes digue passion. 

For we schul han a predication : 

This loller here wol precheu us somwhat." 

" Nay by my fathers soule ! that schal he nat." 

Sayde the Schipman, "here schal he uat preche, 

He schal no gospel glosen here ne teche. 14401 

We leven al in the gret God," quod he. 
" He wolden sowen som difficultee, 

Or springen cockle in our clene come. 

And therfore, hoste, I wame thee befonae, 

My joly body schal a tale telle. 

And I schal clinken you so mery a belle. 

That I schal waken al this compagnie : 

But it schal not ben of philosophic, 

Ne of physike, ne termes queinte of lawe ; 14410 

Ther is but litel Latin in my mawe."] 


A Marchaunt whilom dwelled at Seiut Denys, 
That riche was, for which men hild him wys. 

14395 — a loller. This is in character, as appears from a treatise of the 
time. Harl. Catal.n. 1666. "Now in Engelon J it is a comun protectioun 
ayens presecutiouns — if a man is customable to swere nedeles and falsand 
unavised, hy the bones, nailes, and sides and other members 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 some lordes 
sclaundren men, and clepen hem lollards, eretikes, etc." — Tijrwhitt. 

14104— Or springen cockle. This alludes to a punning derivation of 
Lollard, from the Latin Tolinm. 

The Scliipmannes Talc. In this tale also Chaucer probably gives au 
English version of an earlier French fabliau. The same story probably 


A wyf be had of excellent beaute, 

And companable, and reverent was scbe ; 

Wbicb is a tbing tbat causetb more despence, 

Than wortb is al tbe cber and reverence, 

Tbat men doon bem at festes or at daunces. 

Sucb salutaciouns and continaunces 

Passetb, as doth tbe scbadow on a wal : 14420 

But wo is bim tbat paye moot for al. 

Tbe sely bousbond algat moste pay, 

He most us clothe in ful good array 

Al for bis oughne worschip ricbely : 

In wbicb array we daunce jolily. 

And if tbat be may not, paraventure, 

Or elles \\i\ not sucb dispens endure, 

But thynketb it is wasted and i-lost. 

Than moot another paye for oure cost, 

Or lene us gold, that is perilous. 14430 

This worthy marcbaunt buld a noble bous, 
For wbicb be badde alday gret repair 
For his largesce, and for his wyf was fair. 
What wonder is ? but berkneth to my tale. 

Amonges al these gestes gret and smale, 
Ther was a monk, a fair man and a bold, 
I trowe, tbritty winter he was old. 
That ever in oon was drawyng to tbat place. 
This yonge monk, tbat was so fair of face, 
Aqueynted was so with the goode man, 14440 

Sith tbat her firste knowlecbc bygan, 
Tbat in bis lious as familier was be, 

formed the Rrounilwork in the first story in the Eiyhth Day of the Deca- 
meron, which (liii'crs little from Chaucer's tale, and >vas frequently imi- 
tated Vty subsequent conleiirs. 


As it possibil is a frend to be. 

Aud for as mochil as this goode man ■ 

And eek this monk, of which that I bygau, 

Were bothe tuo i-born in oon \dllage, 

The monk him claymeth, as for cosynage ; 

And he agein him saith nat oones nay, 

But was as glad therof, as foul of day ; 

For to his hert it was a gret plesaunce. '*^^o 

Thus ben thay knyt mth etenie alliaunce, 

And ilk of hem gan other to assure 

Of brotherhed, whil that her lif may dure. 

Fre was daun Johan, and namely of despence 

As in that hous, and ful of diligence 

To do plesaunce, and also gret costage : 

He nought forgat to geve the leste page 

In al that hous ; but, after her degre. 

He gaf the lord, and siththen liis meyne. 

Whan that he com, som manor honest thing ; H460 

For which thay were as glad of his comyng 

As foul is fayn, whan that the sonne upriseth. 

No mor of this as now, for it suffiseth. 

But so bifel, this marchaunt on a day 
Schop him to make redy his array 
Toward the toun of Bruges for to fare. 
To byen ther a porcioun of ware : 
For which he hath to Paris sent anoon 
A messanger, and prayed hath dan Johan 

144ot — namely. I have adopted this reading from the Lansd. MS. and 
Tyrwhitt, as giving apparently the best sense. The Harl. MS. reads, ma/f/y. 

14166 — Bnigcs. Bruges was the grand central mart of European 
commerce in the Middle Ages, until its decline in consequence of the 
wars and trouhlcs of the sixteenth centurv. 


That he schukl come to Seint Denys, and play 14470 
With him, and Avith his wyf, a day or tway, 
Er he to Brigges went, in alle wise. 
This nobil monk, of which I yow devyse, 
Hath of his abbot, as him list, licence, 
(By cause he was a man of heih prudence, 
And eek an officer out for to ryde. 
To se her graunges and her bernes wyde) ; 
And unto Seint Denys he cometh anoon. 
Who was so welcome as my lord dan Johan, 
Oure deere cosyn, ful of curtesie ? 14480 

With him brought he a jubbe of Malvesie, 
And eek another ful of wyn vernage. 
And volantyn, as ay was his usage : 
And thus I lete hem ete, and drynk, and p»lay, 
This marchaunt and his monk, a day or tway. 
The thridde day this marchaund up he riseth. 

And on his needes sadly him avyseth : 

And up into his countour hous goth he, 

To rekpi mth him self, as wel may be, 

Of thilke yer, how that it with him stood, 14400 

And how that be dispended had his good, 

And if that he encresced were or noon. 

His bookes and his baggcs many oon 

He hath byforn him on his counter herd, 

For riche was his tresor and his herd ; 

For which ful fast his countour dore he schette ; 

And eek he wolde no man schold him lette 

lAiSS—vulantijn. SotheHarl. MS. ThnLansd. MS. lias !'o?a/;7t', which 
is the reading adopted by Tyrwhitt, and is probably the correct one. 


Of his accomptes, for the meiie tyme : 
And thus he sat, til it was passed prime. 

Dan Johan was risen in the mom also, U500 

And in tlie gardyn walldth to and fro, 
And hath his thinges said ful curteisly. 
This good wyf com walkyng ful prively 
Into the gardyn, ther he walketh softe, 
And him salueth, as sche hath doon ful ofte. 
A mayde child com in hir compaignie, 
Which as hir list sche may govenie and gye. 
For yit under the yerde was the mayde. 
" dere cospi myn, dan Johan," sche sayde, 
" What ayleth yow so rathe to arise?" H5io 

" Nece," quod he, " it aught y-nough suffise 
FyYB houres for to slepe upon a night : 
But it were for eny old palled wight, 
As ben these weddid men, that lye and dare, 
As in a forme lith a wery hare, 
Were al for-straught with houndes gret and smale. 
But, dere nece, why be ye so pale ? 
I trowe certis, that oui'e goode man 
Hath on yow laborid, sith the night bj^gan. 
That yow were nede to resten hastiliche." lir>20 

And with that word he lowgh ful merilicbe. 
And of his owne thought he was al reed. 

This faire wyf bygan to schake hir heed. 
And sayde thus : " Ye, God wot al," quod sche. 
" Nay, cosyn myn, it stant not so with me. 
For by that God, that gaf me soule and lif, 
In al the reme of Fraunce is ther no wyf 
That lasse lust hath to that sory play ; 


For I may synge alias and waylaway 

That I was bom, but to uo wght," quod sclie, 14530 
" Dar I not telle how it stont with me. 

Wherfor I think out of this lond to wende, 

Or elles of my self to make an ende, 

So ful am I of drede and eek of care." 
This monk bygan upon this wif to stare ; 

And sayd : " Alias ! my nece, God forbede, 

That ye for eny sorw, or eny drede, 

For-do your self : but telleth me your greef, 

Paraventure I may in youre mescheef 

Councel or help : and therfor telleth me ^-i^^o 

Al your annoy, for it schal be secre. 

For on my portos here I make an oth. 

That never in my lif, for lief ne loth, 

Ne schal I of no counseil you. bywray." 
"The same agein," quod sche, "to yow I say. 

By God and by this portos wil I swere, 

Though men me wolde al in peces tere, 

Ne schal I never, for to go to helle, 

Bywreye word of thing that ye me telle, 

Not for no cosynage, ne alliaunce, M550 

But verrayly for love and affiaunce." 

Thus ben thay sworn, and herupon i-kist. 

And ilk of hem told other what hem list. 
" Cosjni," quod sche, " if that I had a space, 

As I have noon, and namly in this place. 

Then wold I telle a legend of my lyf. 

What I have suffred sith T was a wyf 

With myn housbond, though he be your cosyn." 



. " Nay," quod this monk, " by God and scint Martyn ! 
He is no more cosyn unto mo, 14560 

Than is this leef that hongeth on the tre : 
I cleped him so, by saint Denis of Fraunce, 
To have the more cause of acquejiitaunce 
Of yow, which I have loved specially 
Aboven alle vsrommen sikerly ; 
This swere I yow on my professioun. 
Tellith youre greef, lest that he come adoun, 
And hasteth yow ; and goth your way anoon." 
" My deere love," quod sche, " o dan Johan, 
Ful leef me were this counseil for to hydc, i^S'O 

But out it moot, I may no more abyde. 
Myn housbond is to me the worste man, 
That ever was siththe the world bigan : 
But sith I am a wif, it sit nought me 
To telle no wight of oure privete, 
Neyther a bedde, no in noon other place ; 
God schilde I scholde telle it for his grace. 
A wyf ne schal not say of hir housbonde 
But al honour, as I can understondo. 
Save unto yow thus moche telle I schal : 1^580 

As help me God, he is nought worth at al. 
In no degre, the valieu of a flie. 
But yit me greveth most his nigardye. 
And wel ye wot, that wymmen naturelly 
Desiren sixe thinges, as wel as I. 
They wolde that here housbondes sclioldc be 

1 1560. This line is omitted in MS. Ilarl. anil is here given from MS. 



Hardy, and wys, and riche, and tlicrto fre, 
And buxom to his wyf, and freisch on bedde. 
But by the Lord that for us alle bledde, 
For his honour my selven to array, ' i''-'^ 

A sonday next comyug yit most I pay 
An hvmdred frank, or elles I am lorn. 
Yit were me lever that I were unborn. 
Than me were doon a sclaunder or vilenye. 
And if myn housbond eek might it espic, 
I ner but lost; and therfor I yow pray 
Lene me this summe, or elles mot I dey. 
Dan Johan, I seye, lene me this hundred frankes ; 
Parde I wil nought fails yow my thankes, 
If that yow list to do that I yow pray. ^'^'^^'^ 

For at a ceitein day I wol yow pay. 
And do to yow what pleasaunce and servise 
That I may do, right as you list dcvyse : 
And but I do, God take on mo vengeaunce, 
As foul as haddo Geneloun of Fraunce !" 
This gentil monk answard in this manere : 
" Now trewely, myn owne lady deere, 
I have on yow so gret pite and reuthe, 
That I yow swere, and plighte yow my treuthe. 
Than whan your housbond is to Flaundrcs fare, MCio 
I schal deliver yow out of youre care, 

14597-1 ICOO. These four lines are also oniitfeil in tlie Harl MS , liy 
an evident error of the scribe, arising fniin a similar termination of lines 
11590 and 1 lUOO. Tliey are here snpjdicd froni (he Lunsd. MS. 

14005 — Giiieloun. Geneloun, or Ganelon, in the old romances, was 
the person whose treason led to the disastious battle of lloncesvalles. 

u 9 


For I wol bringe yow an hundred frankes." 

And with that word he caught hir by the schaukes, 

And hir embraced hard, and kist hir ofte. 

" Goth now your way," quod he, " al stille and softe, 
And let us dyne as sone as ye may, 
For by my chilindre it is prime of day : 
Goth now, and beth as trew as I schal be." 

" Now elles God forbede, sire !" quod sche. 
And forth sche goth, as joly as a pye, H620 

And bad the cookes that tliai schokl hem hye, 
So that men myghte dj^ne, and tliat anoon. 
Up to hir housbond this wif is y-goon. 
And knokketh at his dore boldely. 

" Quy est la?" quod he. " Peter! it am I," 
Quod sche. " How longe, sire, wol ye fast? 
How longe tyme wol ye reken and cast 
Your sommes, and your bokes, and your thinges ? 
The devel have part of alle such rekenynges. 
Ye have i-nough pardy of Goddes sonde. 146.30 

Com doun to day, and let your bagges stonde. 
Ne be ye not aschamed, that daun Johan 
Schal alday fastyng thus elenge goon ? 
What? let us hiere masse, and gowe dyne." 

"Wif," quod this man, " litel canstow divine 
The curious besynesse that we have : 
For of us chapmen, al so God me save, 
And by that lord that cleped is seint Ive, 

14617 — chilindre. This is the reading of the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. 
Tyrvvhitt has substituted kalcndcr. 


Scarsly amonges twelve, two schulu thrive 

Continuelly, lastyng into her age. 14640 

We may wel make cheer and good visage, 

And dryve forth the workl, as it may be. 

And kepen our estat in pi-ivete, 

Til we be deed, or elles that we play 

A pilgrimage, or goon out of the way. 

And therfor have I gret necessite 

Upon this queynte world to avyse me. 

For evermor we moste stond in drede 

Of hap and fortun in our chapmanhede. 

To Flaundres wil I go to morw at day, imM 

And come agayn as soone as I may : 

For which, my deere wif, I the byseeke 

As be to every wight buxom and meeke. 

And for to kepe oure good be curious, 

And honestly governe wel our hous. 

Thou hast y-nough, in every manor wise, 

That to a thrifty housbond may suffise. 

The lakketh noon array, ne no vitaile ; 

Of silver in thy purs thou mayst not faile." 

And Mith that word his countour dore he schitte, 1-1660 

And doun he goth ; no longer wold he lette ; 

And hastily a masse was ther sayd, 

And spedily the tables were i-layd, 

14639 — twelve, two. This is the reading of the Harl. and Lansd. 
MSS.,excejit that the latter lias twcijuc for two. Tyrwliitt reads, nmu;/(/fs 
twenty, ten. 

14640 — her. The Latisd. MS. reads, our. 

14657 — huusho/id. This is tlie reading of the Harl. and Lansd. RISS. 
Tyrvvliilt reads, houishoM. I think the reading of tlie MSS. is tlie best — 
thou hast enough money, consistent with a thrifty husband. * 


And to the dyiier faste tliay hem spedde, 
And rychely this chapman the monk fedde. 

And after dyner daun Johan sobrely 
This chapman took on part, and piively 
Sayd him thus : " Cosyn, it stondeth so, 
That, wel I se, to Brigges wol ye go ; 
God and seint Austyn spede you and gyde. 14G70 

I pray yow, cosyn, wisly that ye ryde ; 
Govemeth yow also of your diete 
Al temperelly, and namely in this hete. 
Bitwix us tuo nedeth no straunge fare ; 
Far wel, cosyn, God scliilde you fro care. 
If eny thing ther be by day or night, 
If it lay in my power and my might, 
That ye wil me comaunde in eny wise, 
It schal be doon, right as ye wol devyse. 

thing er that ye goon, if it might be, 14680 

1 wolde pray yow for to lene me 

An hundred frankes for a wyke or tweye, 

For certeyn bcstis that I moste beye, 

To store with a place that is oures : 

(God help me so, I wolde it were youres !) 

I schal not faile seurly of my day, 

Nought for a thousand frankes, a myle way. 

But let this thing be secre, I yow pray ; 

For for the bestis this night most I pay. 

And fare now wel, myn owne cosyn deere. 'looo 

Graunt mercy of your cost and of your cheere." 

This noble merchaunt gentilly anoon 
Answerd and sayde : ''0 cosyn daun Johan, 


Now sikerly this is a smal request : 
My gold is youres, wlianne that yow lest, 
And nought oonly my gold, hut my chaffarc : 
Tak what yow liste, God schilde that ye spare ! 
But oon thiug is, ye Imow it wel y-nough 
Of chapmen, that her money is here plough. 
We may creaunce whils we have a name, i^^oo 

But goldles for to be it is no game. 
Pay it agayn, whan it lith in your ese ; 
After my might ful fayn wold I yow plese." 
Tliis hundred frankes he fet forth anoon, 
And prively be took hem to daun Johan : 
No wight in al this world wist of this loone, 
Savyng this marchaund, and daun Johan alloone. 
Thay drynke, and speke, and rome a while and play, 
Til that dan Johan rydeth to his abbay. 
The morwe cam, and forth this marchaund rideth 
To Flaundres-ward, his prentis wel him gydeth, 14711 
Til that he cam to Biigges merily. 
Now goth this marchaund faste and busily 
Aboute his neede, and bieth, tmd creaunceth; 
He neither pleyeth atte dys, ne daunceth ; 
But as a marchaund, schortly for to telle, 
He lad his lyf, and ther I let him dwcllc. 
. The sonday next the marchaund was agoon, 
To Seint Denys i-come is daun Johan, 
With crounc and herd al freisch and newe i-schave. 
In al the hous ther nas so litel a knave, U'^l 

Ne no wight elles, that he nas ful fayn, 
For that my lord dan Johan was come agayn. 


And schortly to the poynte for to gon, 

This faire wif acordith with dan Johan, 

That for these hundred frank he schuld al night 

Have hir in his armes bolt upright : 

And this acord paiformed was in dede. 

In mirth al night a hisy lif thay lede 

Til it was day, that dan Johan went his way, 14730 

And bad the meigne far w'el, have good day. 

For noon of hem, ne no wight in the toun. 

Hath of dan Johan noon suspeccioun ; 

And forth he rideth horn to his abbay, 

Or wher him list, no more of him I say. 

This marchaund, whan that ended was the faire, 
To Seynt Denys he gan for to repeire, 
And with his wif he maketh test and cheei'e, 
And tellith hir that chaffar is so deere. 
That needes most he make a chev-isaunce, 14740 

For he was bounde in a reconisamice. 
To paye twenty thousand scheldes anoon. 
For which this marchaund is to Paris goon, 
To borwe of certeyu frendes that he hadde 
A certein frankes, and some with him he ladde. 
And whan that he was come into the toim. 
For gret chiertee and gret affeccioun 
Unto dan Johan he first goth him to play ; 
Nought for to borwe of him no kyn monay. 
But for to wite and se of his welfare, ^^'^^ 

1-17 Vi—schcldcs. Tlio literal version of the French ecus, or crowns. 
They are saitl to have received their name from bearing the figure of a 
shield on one side. 


And for to telle him of his chaffare, 

As frendes dooii, whan thay hen met in fere. 

Dan Johan him maketh fest and mery cheere ; 

And he him told agayn ful specially, 

How he had bought right wel and graciously 

(Thanked be God !) al hole his marchaundise : 

Save that he most in alle manere wise 

Maken a chevyssauns, as for his best : 

And than he schulde be in joye and rest. 

Dan Johan answerde, " Certis I am fayn, 14760 

That ye in hele are comen horn agayn : 

And if that I were riche, as have I blisse, 

Of twenty thousand sclield schuld ye not mysse, 

For ye so kyndely this other day 

Lenta me gold ; and as I can and may 

I thanke yow, by God and by seint Jame. 

But natheles I took it to oure dame, 

Youre wif at home, the same gold agein 

Upon your bench, sche wot it wel ceiteyn. 

By certein toknes that I can hir telle. 14770 

Now by your leve, I may no lenger duelle ; 

Oure abbot wol out of this toun anoon, 

And in his compaignye moot I goon. 

Grete wel oure dame, myn owen nece swete, 

And far wel, dere cosyn, til that we meete." 

This marchaund, which that was bothc war and wys, 

14756 — hole. I have aildcd this word from the Lansd. MS. It is 
omittid in llie Hurl. MS. 

14768 — at home. Tlieso words also arc added from the Lausd. MS. 
as being evidently necessary to complete the metro. 


Creaunced hatli, and payed eek iu Parys 

To certeyn Lombardes redy in hir liond 

This soiume of gold, and took of hem his bond, 

And horn he goth, as mery as a popinjay. u^so 

For wel he knew he stood in such array, 

That needes most he wynne in that viage 

A thousand frankes, above al his costage. 

His wyf ful redy mette him at tlie gate. 

As sche was wont of ohl usage algate : 

And al that night in mirthe thay ben sette. 

For he was riche, and clerly out of dette. 

Whan it was day, this marchaimd gau embrace 

His wyf al newe, and lust hir on hir face. 

And up he goth, and maketh it ful tough. 14790 

" No more," quod sche, " by God, ye have y-nough :" 
And wantounly with him sche lay and playde, 
Til atte laste thus this marchaund sayde : 

" By 6rod," quod he, "I am a litel wroth 
With yow, my wyf, although it be me loth : 
And Avite ye why ? by God, as that I gesse, 
Ye ban i-maad a mauer straungenesse 
BitwLxe me and my cosyn dan Johan, 
Ye schold have warned me, er I had goon. 
That he yow had an hundred frankes payd 14800 

14778 — LomhanJes. It is scarcely uccessarv to inloiTn the reader that 
the Lombard merchants were the cliief money dealers in the thirteenth 
and fourteenth centuries, alter the Jews had been placed under a ban. 
Lombard Street in London seems to have preserved traditionally the 
peculiar character uiveu to it by its former inhabitants from whom it was 


By redy tokne : and huld liim evil appayd 

For that I to him spak of chevysauiice, 

(Me semed so as by his couuteiiauuce) : 

But natheles, by God of heveu king ! 

I thoughte nought to axe him no thing. 

I pray the, wif, do thou no more so. 

Tel me alway, er that I fro the go, 

If eny dettour have in myn absence 

I-payed the, lest in thy necgligence 

I may liim axe a thing that he hath payed." 14810 

This wyf was not affered ne affray ed, 
But boldely sche sayde, and that anoon ; 
Mary ! I diffy that ftilse monk, dan Johan, 
I kepe not of his tokenes never a del : 
He took me a certeyn gold, that wot I wel. 
What ? evel thedom on his monkes snowte ! 

For, God it wot ! I wende withoute doute. 

That he had geve it me, bycause of yow, 
To do therwith myn honour and my prow, 

For cosynage, and eek for hele cheer 14820 

That he hath had ful ofte tyme heer. 

But synncs that I stonde in this disjoynt, 

I wol answer yow schortly to the poynt. 

Ye han mo slakke dettours than am I : 

For I wol pay yow wel and redily 

Fro day to day, and if so be I faile, 

I am your wif, score it upon my taile. 

And I schal paye it as soone as I may. 

For by my trouthe, I have on myn array, 

And nought on wast, bistowcd it every del. '1830 


And for I have bistowed it so "svel 

For youre honour, for Goddes sake I say, 

As beth nought wroth, but let us laugh and play ; 

Ye schul my joly body have to vpedde : 

By God, I wol not pay yow but on bedde : 

Forgeve it me, niyn owne spouse deere ; 

Tume hidei'-ward and make better cheere." 

This marchauud saugh noon other remedy : 
And for to chide, it nas but foly, 
Sith that the thing may not amendid be. 14840 

" Now, wif," he sayde, " and I forgive it the ; 
And by thi lif, ne be no more so large ; 
Keep better my good, this give I the in charge." 
Thus endeth now my tale, and God us sonde 
Talyng y-nough, unto our ly\'es ende !" 


" Wel sayd, by corpus boones!" quod oure host, 
" Now longe mot thou sayle by the cost, 
Sir gentil maister, gentil mariner. 
God give the monk a thousand last quade yer. 
Haha ! felaws, be war for such a jape. 14850 

The monk put in the mannes hood an ape, 
And in his wyves eek, by seint Austyn. 
Draweth no monkes more unto your in. 
But now pas over, and let us loke aboute. 
Who schal now telle first of al this route 
Another tale :" and with that word he sayde. 
As curteisly as it had ben a mayde. 


" My lady Pi'ioresse, by your leve, 

So that I ^\•ist I schokle yow not greve, 

I wolde dome, that ye telle scholde 14860 

A tale next, if so were that ye ■wolde. 

Now wol ye vouche sauf, my lady deere ?" 
" Gladly," quod sche, and sayd in this manere. 


Lord, cure lord, thy name how merveylous 
Is in this large world i-sprad ! (quod sche) 
For nought oonly thy laude precious 
Parformed is by men of heih degre, 
But by mouthes of children thy bounte 
Parformed is ; on oure brest soukynge 
Som tyme schewe thay thin heriynge. 14870 

"Wlierfore in laude, as I best can or may. 
Of the and of thy white lily flour. 
Which that the bar, and is a mayde alway. 
To telle a story I vn\ do my labour ; 
Nought that I may encresce youre honour, 
For sche hir silf is honour and roote 
Of bounte, next hir sone, and soules boote. 

O moodir mayde, o mayde mooder fre, 
O bussh unbrent, brennjaig in Moises sight. 

The Priorcs.tps Talc. Tlie subject of tliis story was n vcrj' popular 
legend in tlie niidille ages, told in a variety of forms, and located in as 
many dill'erent places, but tending and perliaps intended to lieep up a 
strong prejudice against the Jews. It is not necessary to enumerate tlicni. 

1480 1 — (> Lord, oure lord. This is a translation of the first words of 
the eighth Psalm, Dominc, dominus iioskr, etc. 


That ravj'sshcdest doun fro the deite, i^^so 

Thurgh thin humblesse, the gost that in the alight : 
Of whos vertu, he in thin herte pight, 
Conceyved was the fadres sapience : 
Help me to telle it in thy reverence. 

Lady, thi bounte, and thy magnificence, 
Thy vertu and thi gret humilite, 
Ther may no tonge expres in no science : 
For som tyme, lady, er men pray to the, 
Thow gost bifom of thy benignite. 
And getist us the light, thurgh thy prayere, 14890 
To gyden us the way to thy sone so deere. 

My connyng is so weyk, o blisful queene. 
For to declare thy grete worthiuesse, 
That I may not this in my wyt susteene ; 
But as a child of twelf month old or lesse, 
That can unnethes eny word expresse. 
Right so fare I, and therfor I you pray, 
Gydeth my song, that I schal of yow say. 

Ther was in Acy, in a greet citee, 
Amonges Cristen folk a Jewerye, M900 

Susteyned by a lord of that centre. 
For foul usure, and lucre of felonye, 
Hateful to Crist, and to his compaignye : 
And thurgh the sti'ete men might ride and wende, 
For it was fre, and open at everich ende. 

liSdS— Gydeth. The Harl. MS. lias entkth. 

148d9— Acy. Tlie MS., Jcc. Tyrwliitt Ask, i.e. Asia. 
14902 — The Lansd. MS. and Tyrwhitt liave vilanye. These two words 
are not imfre(]iieutly iutcrchanged iu the MSS. 


A litel scole of Cristen folk ther stood 
Domi at the fortber ende, in which ther were 
Children an heep y-comen of Cristen blood, 
That lered in that scole yer by yere 
Such mauer doctrine as men used there : iioio 

This is to say, to synge and to rede, 
As smale childer doon in her childhede. 

Among these children was a widow sone, 
A litel clergeoun, that seve yer was of age, 
That day by day to scole was his wone, 
And eek also, wherso he saugh thymage 
Of Cvistes moder, had he in usage, 
As him was taught, to kncle adoun, and say 
His Ave Maria, as he goth by the way. 

Thus hath tliis widow hir litel cliild i-taught 14920 
Oure blisful lady, Cristes moder deere, 
To worschip ay, and he forgat it nought : 
For cely child wil alway soonc leere. 
But ay whan I remembre of this matiero, 
Seint Nicholas stont ever in my presence. 
For he so yong to Crist dede reverence. 

This litel child his litel book lernyngc, 
As he sat in tlie scole in his primere. 
He alma rcdempforis herde synge. 
As children lemed her antiphonere : 11930 

1-1926 — ScM A^icholds. Wo have an aimising account of the very 
early piety of this saint in his lesson, Brcv. Roman, vi Dccemh. " Cujns 
viri sanctitas, quanta fntura ossct, jam ah incunahiilis appariiit. Nam 
iufans, cum reliquas dies lac nutricis frequens sugcrct, quurta et scxta feria 
(on Wednesdays and Fridays) semel duutaxat, idque vesperi, sugebat." 


And as he durst, he drough him uer and ueere, 
And herkned ever the wordes and the note, 
Til he the firste vers couthe al by rote. 

Nought ^\ist he what this Latyn was to say, 
For he so yong and tender was of age ; 
But on a day his felaw gan he pray 
To expoune him the song in his langage, 
Or telle him what this song was in usage : 
This prayd he him to construe and declare, 
Ful often tyme upon his knees bare. 14940 

His felaw, which that elder was than he, 
Answerd him thus : "This song, I have herd seye, 
Was maked of our blisful lady fre, 
Hire to saluen, and eek hire to preye 
To ben our help and socour whan we deye, 
I can no more expoune in this matere : 
I lerne song, I can no more gramer." 

" And is this song i-maad in reverence 
Of Cristes moder?"' sayde this innocent; 
" Now certes I wol do my diligence 14950 

To conne it al, er Cristemasse be went. 
Though that I for my primer schal be schent. 
And schal be betyn thries in an hour, 
I wol it conne, oure lady to honoure." 

His felaw taught him hom-ward prively 
From day to day, til he couthe it by rote. 
And than he song it wel and boldcly ; 
Twyes on the day it passed tliurgh his throte, 

14947 — 7w more gramer- The Lausd. MS. aud Tyrvvliitt read, but 
smal grammere. 


From word to word accordyng with the note. 

To scole-ward and horn- ward whan he went: ii^o 

On Cristes moder was set al his entent. 

As I have sayd, thurghout the Jewrye 
This litel child as he cam to and fro, 
Ful merily than wold he synge and crie, 
O alma redenq^toris, evermo : 
The swetnes hath his herte persed so 
Of Cristes moder, that to hir to pray 
He can not stynt of syngyng by the way. 

Oure firste foo, the serpent Sathanas, 
That hath in Jewes hert liis waspis nest, \.'mo 

Upswal and sayde : " Ebreik peple, alias ! 
Is this a thing to yow that is honest, 
That such a boy schal walken as him lest 
In youre despyt, and synge of such sentence, 
Which is agens your lawes reverence ?" 

Fro thennesforth the Jewes han conspired 
This innocent out of this world to enchace : 
An homicide therto han thay hired, 
That in an aley had a prive place ; 
And as the childe gan forthby to pace, w^^Q 

This false Jewe him hent, and huld ful faste, 
And kut his throte, and in a put liim caste. 

I say in a w^ardrobe thay him threw, 
Wher as the Jewes purgen her entraile. 
O cursed folk, o Herodes al newe. 
What may your evyl entente you availe? 

14982 — and in a put him caste. This is the reading of the Lansd. MS. 
The Harl. MS. reads, and threw him in allc laxte. 


Morther wol out, certeyn it wil nought faile, 
* And namly ther thonour of God scliuld sprede : 
The blood out crieth ou your cursed dede. 

" O martir sondit to virginite, 14900 

Now maystow synge, folwyng ever in oon 
The white lomb celestial," quod sche, 
" Of which the grete evaungelist seint Johan 
In Pathmos wroot, which seith that thay that goon 
Bifore the lamb, and synge a song al newe, 
That never fleischly wommen thay ne knewe." 

This pore widowe wayteth al this night 
After this litel child, but he cometh nought : 
For which as soone as it was dayes light, 
With face pale, in drede and busy thought, 15000 

Sche hath at scole and elles wher liim souglit, 
Til fynally sche gan of hem aspye. 
That he was last seyn in the Jewerie. 

With moodres pite in hir brest enclosed, 
Sche goth, as sche were half out of Mr mynde. 
To eveiy place, wher sche hath supposed 
By liklihede hir child for to fynde : 
And ever on Cristes mooder meke and kynde 
Sche cried, and atte laste thus sche wrought. 
Among the cursed Jewes sche him sought. i-soio 

Sche freyned, and sche prayed pitously 
To every Jew that dwelled in that place. 
To telle hir, if hir child wente ther by : 
Thay sayden nay ; but Jhesu of his grace 
Gaf in hir thought, ^dthinne a litel space, 
Tliat in that place after hir sone sche cryde, 


Wher as he was cast iu a put bysyde. 

grete God, tliat parformedist thin laude 
By mouth of innocentz, lo, here thy might ! 
This gemme of chastite, this emeraude, 15020 

And eek of martirdom the ruby bright, 
Ther he with throte y-corve lay upright, 
He Alma redemptoris gan to synge 
So lowde, that al the place bigan to rynge. 

The Cristen folk, that thurgh the strete went, 
In comen, for to wonder upon this thing : 
And hastily for the provost thay sent. 
He cam anoon, withoute tarying. 
And heriede Crist, that is of heven king. 
And eek his moder, honour of mankynde, i^oso 

And after that the Jewes let he bjTide. 

This child with pitous lamentacioun 
Up taken was, syngyng his song alway : 
And witli honour of gret processioun, 
Thay caried him unto the next abbay. 
His modir swownyng by the beere lay ; 
Unnethe might the poeple that was there 
This newe Rachel bringe fro the beere. 

With torment and with schamful deth echon 
This provost doth these Jewes for to sterve, i''»oio 
That of this moerder wist, and that anoon ; 
He wolde no such cursednesse observe : 
Evel schal have, that evyl wol deserve. 

15022 — ji-corvc. I have siibstitiitod lliis reading (from the Lansd. 
MS), for i-kut, the reading of the Marl. MS. 

X 2 


Therfore ■with -wilde hors lie dede hem drawe, 
And after that he heng hem hy the lawe. 

Upon his beere ay Hth the innocent 
Biforn the chief auter whiles the masse last : 
And after that, thabbot with his eovent 
Han sped hem for to burie him ful fast : 
And whan thay halywater on him cast, 15050 

Yet spak this child, whan spreynde was the water, 
And song, alma redemptoris mater. 

This abbot, which that was an holy man, 
As monkes ben, or elles oughte be. 
This yonge cliild to conjure he bigan, 
And sayd: " deere child, I liaise the. 
In vertu of the holy Trinite, 
Tel me what is thy cause for to synge, 
Sith that thy throte is kit at my sem^ige." 

" My throte is Idt unto my nelcke-boon," 1^060 
Sayde this cliild, " and as by way of kjnide 
I schulde han ben deed long tyme agoon : 
But Jhesu Crist, as ye in bookes fynde, 
Wol that his glorie laste and be in mynde ; 
And for the worschip of his moder deere, 
Yet may I synge O alma lowde and cleere. 

" This welle of mercy, Cristes moder swete, 
I loved alway, as after my connynge : 
And whan that I my lyf schulde leete, 
To me sche cam, and bad me for to synge 15070 

This antym verraily in my deyinge, 
As ye have herd, and, whan that I had songe, 
Me thought sche layde a grayn luider my tonge. 


" Wherfor I syuge, and synge moot certeyue 
111 honour of that blisful mayden fre, 
Til fro my tonge taken is the greyne. 
And after that thus saide sche to me ; 
' My litil child, now wil I fecche the, 
Whan that the grayn is fro thi tonge i-take : 
Be nought agast, I wol the nought forsake.'" 15080 

This holy monk, this abbot him mene I, 
His tonge out caught, and took away the greyn ; 
And he gaf up the gost ful softely. 
And whan the abbot hath this wonder seyu, 
His salte teres striken doun as reyn : 
And gruf he fel adoun unto the grounde, 
And stille he lay, as he had ben y-bounde. 

The covent eek lay on the pavyment 
WejDyng and herying Cristes moder deere. 
And after that thay rise, and forth thay went, 15090 
And took away this martir fro his beere. 
And in a tombe of marble stoones cleere 
Enclosed thay this litil body sweete : 
Ther he is now, God leiie us for to meete ! 

O yonge Hughe of Lyncoln, slayii also 
With cursed Jewes, (as it is notable, 
For it nys but a litel while ago), 
Pray eek for us, we syuful folk unstable. 
That of his mercy God so merciable 

15095 — Hughe of Lyncoln. The story of Hugh of Lincoln, -which was 
made tlio subject of a variety of balhuls, etc., is jilaced by the historinns 
in the year 1265. The ballads in English and French, were collected 
together by M. Michel, and pubhshed at Paris in a small volume in 1831. 


On US his grete mercy multiplie, 15100 

For reverence of his modir Maiie. 


Whan sayd was tliis miracle, every man 

As sober was, that wonder was to se, 

Til that oure host to jape he bigan, 

And than at erst he loked upon me. 

And sayde thus : " \'\Tiat man art thou '?" quod he. 
" Thou lokest as thou woldest fyude an hare, 

For ever upon the ground I se the stare. 
" Approche ner, and loke merily. 

Now ware you, sires, and let this man have space. 

He in the wast is schape as well as T : i^iii 

This were a popet in an arm to embrace 

For any womman, smal and fair of face. 

He semeth elvisch by his countenaunce, 

For unto no wight doth he daliaunce. 

" Say now som what, sins other folk hau said ; 

Telle us a tale and that of mirthe anoon." 
" Host," quod I, "ne beth nought evel apayd. 

For other tale certes can I noon. 

But of a rym I lerned yore agoon." 15120 

" Ye, that is good," quod he, " now schul we heere 

Som deynte thing, me thinketh by thy cheere." 

1.510'l — he hiffan. I have ventured to add the personal pronoun, 
which is wanting in thn Hnrl. and Lansd. MSS., from TjTvvhitt. 



Lesteneth, lordyugs, in good entent, 
Aud I wol telle verrayment 

Of myrtlie and solas, 
Al of a knyght was fair aud gent 
In batail and in tomament, 

His name was sii* Thopas. 
I-bore he was in fer contre, 
In Flaundres, al byyonde the se, 15130 

At Poperyng in the place ; 
His fader was a man ful fre, 
And lord he was of that contre : 

As it was Goddes grace. 
Sir Thopas wax a doughty swayn ; 
Whyt was his face as payndemayn, 

His lij)pes reed as rose ; 

The Tale of sir Thopas. The introduction of this story by Chaucer 
is clearly intended as a satire on tlie dull metrical romances, then so 
popular, but of which Chaucer fully saw the absurdity. It is in fact a 
protest against the literary taste of his day. It is made up of phrases 
from the common metrical romances, if it be not a fragment of a romance 
dragged in by Chaucer. It has been stated that such a romance existed 
under the title of The giant Ohjphant and chijkle I'hopas, but literary 
historians have not j-et been able to find any traces of such a romance. 
This notion is, however, somewhat favoured by the circumstance that all 
the MSS. do not end with the same line, the Lansd. MS. concluding with 
1. 15322, and the Harl. wanting the last fragment of a line, as though 
difl'erent scribes omitted some, or added as from a poem which they had 
in memory. 

15131 — Poperijny. Peppering or Poppeling was aparish in the marches 
of Calais. 


His rode is lik scarlet en grayii, 
And I yow telle in good certayn 

He had a semly nose. 15140 

His heer, his herd, was lik safi'ouu, 
That to his girdil raught adoun ; 

His schoon of cordewaue ; 
Of Brigges were his hosen brouu ; 
His robe was of sicladoim, 

That coste many a jane. 
He couthe hunt at wilde deer, 
And ride on haukyng for ryver 

With gray goshault on honde : 
Therto he was a good archeer, 15150 

Of wrastelyng was noon his peer, 

Ther eny ram schal stonde. 
Ful many mayde bright in hour 
Thay mounie for him, par amour. 

Whan hem were bet to slepe ; 
But he was chast and no lecchoiu", 
And sweet as is the brembre flour 

That bereth the reede heepe. 

15146 — jane. A coin of Geno&( Janua), some of which, apparently of 
inferior value, ai-e called in the English statutes galley halfpence. The 
siglaton, or siclaton, was a rich cloth or silk brought from the East, and 
is therefore appropriately mentioned as hought with Genoese coin. 

15148 — on haukyng for ryver. The river side is commonly described 
in the romances as the scene of hawking. Thus in the Squier of Low 
Degree, — 

Homward thus schal ye ryde 
On haukyng by the ryvers syde, 
AVitli goshauke and \vith gentil fawcon, 
With buglehorn and merlyon. 
See also before, I. 6466. 

15152 — eny ram. See before, line 550 and Ihc tale of Gamelyn,\. 172. 


And so it fel upon a clay, 

For soth as I yow telle may, 15160 

Sir Thopas wold out ryde ; 
He worth upon liis steede gray, 
And in his hond a launcegay, 

A long sword by his syde. 
He priketh thurgh a fair forest, 
Theriu is many a wilde best, 

Ye, bothe buk and hare ; 
And as he priked north and est, 
I tel it yow, hym had almest 

Bityd a sory care. loi/O 

Ther springen herbes greet and smale. 
The licorys and the cetewale, 

And many a clow gilofre. 
And notemuge to put in ale, 
Whcthir it be moist or stale, 

Or for to lay in cofre. 
The briddes sjTige, it is no nay. 
The sperhauk and the popinjay, 

That joye it was to heere. 
The throstilcok maad eek his lay, i^iso 

The woode dowve upon the spray 

Sche song ful lowde and cleere. 
Sir Thopas fel in love-longing. 
Whan that he herde the briddes synge, 

And priked as he were wood ; 

lo\8'2—Sche Sunt/. The llarl. MS. ivadsjio for schc. Tyrwbitt gives 
he. The reading of tlie text is talsen from tlie Lausd. MS. 


His faire steede in his prikpige 

So swette, that men might him wrynge, 

His sycles were al blood. 
Sir Thopas eek so weiy was 
For priking on the softe gras, 15190 

So feers was his corrage, 
That doun he layd him in that place 
To make his steede som solace, 

And gaf him good forage. 
" O, seinte Mary, henediclte, 
What eylith this love at me 

To bynde me so sore ? 
Me dremed al tliis night, parde, 
An elf queen schal my lemman be, 

And slepe under my gore. 15200 

An elf queen wol I have i-wis, 
For in this world no womman is 

Worthy to be my make 
In toune ; 
Alle othir wommen I forsake. 
And to an elf queen I me take 

By dale and eek by doune." 
Into liis sadil he clomb anoon, 
And priked over stile and stoon 

An elf queen for to spye ; 15210 

Til he so longe hath ryden and goon, 
That he fond in a prive woon 

The contre of fairy e. 

So wylde ; 

15214 — so wylde. This and the following lines, with the whole of this 
stanzu, are given as they stand in the Harl. and Lansd. MSS., which I 


For iu that contre was ther noon, 
That to him dorste ride or goon, 

Neither wif ne childe. 
Til that ther cam a greet geaunt, 
His name was sir Olifaiiiit, 

A perilous man of dede : 15220 

He swar, " Child, by Termagaunt, 
For if thou prike out of myn haunt, 

Auoon I slee thy stede, 

With mace. 
Hear is the queen of fayerie. 
With haip, and lute, and symphony e, 

Dwellyng in this place." 
The child sayd : " Al so mote I the, 
To morwe wil I meete with the, 

Whan I have myn armure. 15230 

believe to be correct. I do not think, with Tyrwhitt, that there is any- 
thing necessarily wanting: he closes one stanza with line 15213, and 
gives as another stanza (the supplementary lines have been taken irom a 
late and bad MS.), — 

Wherin he soughte north and south, 
And oft he spied with his mouth 

In many a forest wilde, 
For in that contree n'as ther non, 
That to him dorst ride or gon, 
Neither wit ue childe. 
15219 — sir Olifaunt. OUfaunt means an elephant, and is nut an iuap- 
propriat(3 name lor a pagan giant. 

16221 — Termagaunt. Termagant or Tervagant is the name of one of 
the favourite gods of the Saracens and pagans, in the popular literature 
of the Middle Ages. From the way in which they are made to bluster 
and rant, arose our modern use of the tiTm krmagant. 

15222 — For. The Lansd. IMS. reads But, which is perhaps better. 
15223 — thy slede. This reading is adopted from the Lansd. MS., as 
being evidently the correct one. The Hail MS. reads as one line, Anovn 
I skc the ivHh mace. 


And yit I hope, par ma fay, 

That thou schalt with this launcegay 

Abyen it ful sore ; 
Thy mawe 
Schal I persyn, if that I may, 
Er it be fully prime of day, 

For heer schalt thou be slawe." 
Sir Thopas drough on bak ful fast ; 
This geaunt at him stooues cast 

Out of a fell staf slynge ; 16240 

But faire eschapeth child Thojias, 
And al it was thurgh Goddis gras, 

And thurgh his faire berynge. 
Yet lesteneth, lordynges, to my tale, 
Merier than the nightyngale 

I wol yow roune, 
How sir Thopas with sides smale, 
Prikynge over hul and dale, 

Is come ageyn to toune. 
His mery men comaunded he, 16260 

To make him bothe game and gle, 

For needes most he fight 
Witli a geaunt with heedes thre. 
For paramours and jolite 

Of oou that schon ful bright. 
" Do come," lie sayde, " my mynstrales 
And gestours for to telle tales 

1 5243— /(liVe. I have added this word from the Lansd. MS. 
15251 — gestours for to telle tales. " Tlie proper business of a ijcsiour 
was to recite tales, or ijestes ; wliicli was only one of tlic branches of the 


Aiioon in myn armynge, 
Of romaunces that ben reales, 
Of popes and of cardinales, 1^260 

minstrel's profession. Minstrels and gestours arc mentioned together in 
the following lines, from William of Nassington's translation of a religious 
treatise hy John of Waldby. MS. Reg. 17 C. \dii, p. 2. 

I wame you furst at the begynninge, 

That I \vill make no vain carpinge 

Of dedes of armys ne of amours, 

As dus mynstrelles and jostours, 

That makys carpinge in many a place 

Of Ocloviane and Isemhrase, 

And of many other jestes, 

And namely whan they come to festes ; 

Ne of the life of Bcvijs of Hampton, 

That was a knight of gret renoun, 

Ne of Sir Gije of Warwyke, 

Al if it might sum men lyke — 
I cite these lines to shew the species of tales related hy the ancient 
gestours, and how much they difiered from what we now call jestes." — 

15259 — romaunces . .reales. " So in the rom. of Twain and Gawain, 
MS.Cott Galb. E ix. 

He fund a knight under a tre ; 

Upon a cloth of gold he lay ; 

Byfor him sat a ful iayr may : 

A lady sat with thaiii in fere ; 

The maiden red, that thai might here, 

A real romance in that place, — 
The original of this title, which is an uncommon one, I take to be this. 
When the French romances found their way into Italy (not long before 
the year 1300, Crcscimb. T. i, p. 330), some Italian undertook to collect 
together all those relating to Charlemagne and his familj', and to form 
them into a regular body of history. The six first books of this work 
come down to the death of Pepin. They begin thus : Qui se comenza 
la hystoria el Meal di Franza comenzando a Constantino imperatore 
secondo nioltc Irzonde che io ho attrovate e racolte insiemo. Edit. 
Mutince. 1191, fol. It was reprinted in 1537 under this title, ' I reali di 
Franza, nel quale si conli( ne la generazione di tutti i Ke, Duchi, Principi 
e TJaroni di Franza, e delli Paladini, colic Battaglie da loro fijtte, etc' 
Quadrio, T. vi, p 530 Salviati had seen a MS. of this work written about 
1350 {Crescimb. T. i, p. 330), and I do not believe that any mention of a 
real, or royal, romance is to be found, in French or English, prior to that 
date." — Tyrwh ill. 


And eek of love-likynge." 
Thay fet him first the swete wyn, 
And made him eek in a maselyn 

A real spicerye, 
Of gyngebred that was so fyn, 
And licorys, and eek comyn, 

With sugre that is trye. 
He dede next his -white leere 
Of cloth of lake whyt and cleerc 

A brech and eek a schert ; 
And next his schert an aketoun, 
And over that an haberjoun, 

For perspng of his hert ; 15270 

And over that a fyn hauberk, 
Was al i-\vrought of Jewes work, 

Ful strong it was of plate ; 
And over that his cote-armour, 
As whyt as is a lily flour, 

In which he wold debate. 
His scheld was al of gold so red. 
And therinne was a bores heed, 

A charbocle by his syde ; 

15261 — love likynge. The Lansd. MS. reads, with Tyrwhitt, love- 

15263. Tyrwhitt reads this and the next line, — 
And mede eke in a rnaselin, 
And real spicevie. 
But I prefer much the reading of Harl. MS., as mead was not a very 
romantic liquor to be served to a knight adventurous. 

15272 — Jewes werk. I hiive not met with any passage in medieval 
writers explaining the nature of this Jewes werk, but I am not quite pre- 
pared to think with Tjrwliitt that a Jeiv means here a magician. 


And thei' tie swor on ale and bred 15280 

How that the geaunt schal be deed, 

Bytyde what betyde. 
His jambeiix were of quirboily, 
His swerdes schethe of yvory, 

His helm of latoun bright. 
His sadel was of rowel boon. 
His bridel as the sonne schon, 

Or as the moone light. 
His spere was of fine cipres. 
That bodeth werre, and no thing pees, '5290 

The heed ful scharp i-grounde. 
His steede was al dappul gray, 
It goth an ambel in the way 

Ful softely and rounde 
In londe. 
Lo, lordes, heer is a fyt ; 
If ye wil eny more of it, 

To telle it wol I fonde. 

[ FIT II. ] 

Now hold your mouth for charite, 

Botlie knight and lady fre, ^^^00 

15286 — rowel boon. This material, whatever it may be, is mentioned 
elsewhere as that of which rich saddles were made ; as in the early ballad 
of Thomas and the Elf queen, speal;ing of the latter, — 
Hir sadille was oi'reuylk bone, 
Semely was that sight to se, 
Stifly sette with precious stone, 
Compaste aboute with crapote. 
15289 — -fine. I have added this word from the Lansd. MS. 
J 5200 — a fyt. Tliis was a common Englisli term for tlie difl'crent 
parts or divisions of a metrical romance. 


And herkneth to my spelle : 
Of batail and of chivalry, 
Of ladys love and drewery, 

Auoon I wol yow telle. 
Men speken of romauns of pris, 
Of Horn child, and of Ypotis, 

Of Bevys, and sir Gy, 
Of sir Libeaux, and Pleyndamour, 
But sir Thopas bereth the flour 

Of real chivalry. issio 

His goode steede he bistrood, 
And forth upon his way he glood, 

As spark out of the bronde ; 
Upon his crest he bar a tour, 
And therin stiked a lily flour, 

God schilde his corps fro schonde. 
And for he was a knyght auntrous, 
He nolde slepen in noon hous. 

But liggen in his hood. 
His brighte helm was his wonger, 15320 

And by him baytith his destrer 

Of herbes fyne and goode. 
Him self drank water of the welle, 
As dede the knight sir Percivelle 

15305 — romaunces of pris. Nearly all the romances here enumerated 
are extant. The romance of Horn is preserved in Anglo-Norman and iu 
English; the latter version is printed in Ritson's Metrical Romances. 
Ypotis is found in a Cottonian MS. (Calig. A. II) and in the Vernon MS. 
at Oxford. Bevis of Hampton and Guy of Warwick are too well known 
to need any explanation. Sir Libeaux, or Libeaus Desconus (the fair 
unknown), is printed also in Ritson's Metrical liomances. 

1.5324 — sir Percivelle. I have adopted Tyrwhitt's reading instead of 
lliat of the Harl. MS., of Periinelk, because I remember no romance or 


So worthy under wede, 
[Til on a day] 


" No mor of this, for Goddes dignite !" 

Quod our hoste, " for thou makest me 

So wery of thy verrey lewednesse, 

That al so wisly God my soule blesse, 15330 

Myn eeres aken for thy drasty speche. 

Now such a rj^m the devel I byteche ! 

This may wel be rym dogerel," quoth he. 
" Why so?" quod I, " why wilt thou lette me 

More of my tale than another man, 

Syn that it is the beste lym that I can?" 
" By God !" quod he, " for pleinly at o word, 

Thy drasty rymyng is not worth a tord : 

Thou dost nought elles but despendist tyme. 

Sir, at word, thou schalt no longer ryme. 15340 

talo of a knight of Pertinelle, and the romance of Percival is well known. 
Tyrwhitt observes, " The romance of Perceval le Galois, or de Galis, 
Avas composed in octosyllable French verse by Chrestien do Troyes, one 
of the oldest and best French romancers, before the year 1191. Fauchet, 
]. ii, c. X. It consisted of above sixty thousand verses [Bihl. dex Rom. 
T. 1 1 , p. 2.50), so that it would be some trouble to find the fact which is, 
probably, here alluded to. The romance, under the same title, in French 
prose, printed at Paris, 1630, fol. can only be an abridgement, I suppose, 
of the original poem." 

1532.5 — Sn ivorthy under wede. " This phrase occurs repeatedly in 
the romance of Emare. 

fol. 70. b. Than sayde that worthy itnther wede. 
74. b. The cbilde was worthy nnlhcr ivedc, 
And sate upon a nobyl stcde. 
See also fol. 71, b. 73, a." — Tyrwhitt. 

15326 — Til on a day. These words are not in the Harl. MS. 


Let se wlier tliou canst tellen ought in gcst, 

Or telle in prose som what atte lest, 

In wliicli tlier be som merthe or doctrine." 

" Gladly," quod I, " by Goddes swete pyne, 
I wol yow telle a litel thing in prose. 
That oughte like yow, as I suppose, 
Or elles cartes ye be to daungerous. 
It is a moral tale vertuous, 
Al be it told som tyme in sondiy wise 
Of soudry folk, as I schal yow devyse. 1^350 

As thus, ye woot that every evaungelist, 
That telleth us the peyne of Jhesu Ciist, 
Ne saith not alle thing as his felawes doth : 
But natheles here sentence is al soth. 
And alle accordeu as in here sentence, 
Al be ther in her tellyng difference. 
For some of hem sayn moi'e, and some lessc, 
Whan thay his pitous passioun expresse ; 
I mene of Mark and Mathew, Luk and Johan, 
But douteles her sentence is al oon. 1-5360 

Therfor, lordynges alle, I yow biseche. 
If yow think that I varye as in my speche. 
As thus, though that I telle som what more 
Of proverbes, than I have herd bifore 
Comprehended in this litel tretys here, 
To enforcen with theffect of my matiere, 
And though I not the same wordes say 
As ye have herd, yit to yow alle I pray, 

1.5364 — I have. The Lansil. MS. and Tyrwliitt read, ye. 


Blameth me nouglit, for, in my seutence, 

Schul ye no wlier fynde diflference 15370 

Fro the sentence of this tretys lite, 

After the which this litil tale I write. 

And therfor herkeueth wliat I schal say, 

And let me tellen al my tale, I pray." 


A YONG man called Melibeus, mighty and riche, bygat 
upon his wif, that called was Prudens, a doughter which 
that called was Sophie.' Upon a day byfel, that for his 
desport he is went into the feldes him to play. His 
wif and his doughter eek hath he laft within his hous, 
of which the dores were fast i-schitte. Thre^ of his olde 
foos han it espyed, and setten laddres to the walles of 
his hous, and by the wyndowes ben entred, and betyn 
his wyf, and woundid his doughter with fyve mortal 
woundes, in fyve sondiy places, that is to sayn, in here 
feet, in here hondes, in here eeres, in here nose, and in 
here mouth ; and lafte her for deed, and went away. 

Whan Melibeus retourned was into his hous, and 
seigli al this moschief, he, lik a man mad, rendyng his 
clothes, gan wepe and crie. Prudens his wyf, as ferforth 

The Tale of Melibeus. This is ;i literal translation from a French story, 
of which there are two copies in the British Museum, MS. Reg. 19, C 
vii and MS. Reg. 19, C. xi, both of the fifteenth century. The former, 
as apparently the best copy, is quoted in the following notes. 

1 Sophie. The name of the daughter is omitted in both the French MSS. 

2 Thre. The Lansd. MS. and Tyrwhitt rea(l,/o«;r. The reading of 
both the French MSS., however, is iroix, which is in all probability correct. 
Three was a favourite number in the medieval tales and apologues. 

Y 2 


as sche dorste, bysought Mm of his wepyiig to stynte. 
But not forthi he gan to crie ever lenger the more. 

This noble wyf Prudence remembred hire upon the 
sentens of Ovide,^ in his book that cleped is the Remedy 
of Love, -wher as he seith : He is a fool that distourbeth 
the nioder to wepe in the deth of hir childe, til sche 
have i-wept hir fille, as for a certeyn tyme : and than 
schal man doon his diligence as with amyable wordes 
hire to recomforte and praye hire of hire -vvepyng to 
stinte. For which resoun this noble vdi Pi-udens suf- 
fred hir housbonde for to wepe and crie, as for a certeyn 
space; and whan sche seigh lur tyme, sche sayd him in 
this wise : " Alias ! my lord," quod sche, " why make 
ye youre self for to be lik a fool? Forsothe it apper- 
teyneth not to a wys man, to make such sorwe. Youre 
doughter, with the grace of God, schal warischt be and 
eschape. And al were it so that sche right now were 
deed, ye ne oughte nought as for hir deth yom'e silf 
destroye. Senec saith. The ^vise man schal not take to 
gret discomfort for the deth of his children, but certes 
he schulde suffren it in pacience, as wel as he abydeth 
the deth of his o^vne persone." 

This Melibeus answerde anoon and sayde: "What 
man," quod he, " schuld of his wepynge stynte, that 
hath so gret a cause for to wepe? Jhesu Crist, oure 
Lord, him self wepte for the deth of Lazarus his frend." 
Pmdens answerde: "Certes, wel I wot, attempei'el 

' Ihe sentens of Ovkle. The allusion is to the Mewed. Am. 1. 125- 
Quis matrera, nisi matris inops, in funere uati 
Flere vetet ? etc. 


wepyng is no thing defended to liim that sorw-ful is, 
amouges folk in sorwe, but it is rather graunted liim to 
wepe. The aj)ostel Poule unto the Romayns writeth, 
A man schal rejoyce with hem that maken joye, and 
wepe vdth such folk as wepen. But though attemperel 
wepyng be graunted, outrageous wepynge certes is de- 
fended. Mesure of wepynge schuld be conserved,'* after 
the lore of Crist that techeth us Senec : Whan that 
thi frend is deed, quod he, let nought thin yen to 
moyste ben of teres, ne to moche drye : although the 
teeres come to thine eyghen^, let hem not falle. And 
whan thou hast for-gon thy frend, do diligence to gete 
another frende : and tliis is more wisedom than to 
wepe for thy frend, which that thou hast lorn, for therin 
is no boote. And therfore if ye governe yow by sapience, 
put away sorwe out of youre hert. Eemembreth yow 
that Jhesus Sirac saith, A man that is joyous and glad 
in herte, it liim consen^eth florischinge in his age : but 
sothly sorweful herte maketh his boones drye. He 
saith eek thus, that sorwe in herte sleth ful many a 
man. Salamon saith, that right as motthes in schepes 
flees annoyeth the clothes, and the smale wormes to 
the tre, right so annoyeth sorwe to the herte. Wherfore 
us oughte as wel in the deth of oure children, as in the 

* conserved. The Lansd. MS., and Tyrwhilt xea,d, considered; but the 
reading of the Harl. MS., representing the word garder, is correct. The 
original is, " E pour ce on doit paine mettre et garder la mesure, que 
Senesques dist." 

* come 1.0 thine eygken. I have kept the reading of Tyrwhitt, as most 
accordant with the original. " Car ja soit ce que la lerme viengue a 
I'euoil, elle ne doit point yssu- dehors." The Harl. MS. has, come out of 
thine eyyhen; the Lausd. MS. comen of. 


losse of oure goodes temporales, have pacience. Re- 
membretli yow ui)on the pacient Job, whan he hadde 
lost his cliildren and his temporal substance, and in his 
body endured and receyved ful many a grevous tribula- 
cioun, yit sayde he thus : Oure Lord it sent unto me, 
oure Lord it hath raft fro me ; right so as oure Lord 
wil, right so be it doon ; i-blessed be the name of 
oure Lord ! " To these forsayde thinges answerith 
Melibeus unto his wif Prudens : " Alle thine wordes 
ben soth," quod he, " and therto profytable, but sothly 
myn herte is so troubled with this sorwe, that I noot 
what to doone." " Let calle," quod Pinidence, " thy 
trewe frendes alle, and thy linage, whiche that ben trewe 
and wise ; telleth hem youre grevaunce, and herken what 
thay say in counseilynge, and yow goveme after here 
sentence. Salamon saith, werke al thi tiling by coun- 
seil, and the thar never rewe." 

Than, by the counseil of his wyf Prudens, this Meli- 
beus let calle a gret congregacioun of peple, as surgiens, 
phisiciens, ohle, and yonge,*" and some of his olde ene- 
myes I'ecounsiled (as by her semblaimt) to his love and to 
his grace : and therwithal ther come some of liis neighe- 
bours, that deden him reverence more for drede than 
for love, as happeth ofte. Ther comen also ful many 
subtil flaterers, and wise advoketes lenied in the lawe. 
And whan these folk togidere assemblid were, this 
Melibeus in sorwful wyse schewed hem his cans, and 
by the maner of his speche, it semed that in herte he 

" olde, 'jonfje. This i.s literal from the French original. Tyruhitt 
reads, olde folk and yortge. 


bar a cruel ire, recly to do vengeance upon his foos, and 
sodeynly desirede that the werre schulde Lygynne, but 
natheles yit axed he her counseil in this matier. A 
sirurgien, by licens and assent of suche as were wyse, up 
ros, and to Mehbeus sayde, as ye may hiere. 

" Sire," quod he, "as to us sirurgiens appertieneth, 
that we do to every mght the beste that we can, wher 
as we ben withhokle, and to oure pacient that we do no 
damage : wherfore it happeth many tyme and ofte, that 
whan tweye ban everich wounded other, oo same sur- 
gien heleth hem bothe, where unto oure art it is not 
perteyned to norische werre, ne parties to supporte. 
But cartes, as to warischiug of youre doughter, al be it 
so that sche peiilously be woundid, we schullen do so 
tentyf besynes fro day to night, that mth the grace of 
God sche schal be hool and sound, als soone as it is 
possible." Almost light in the same wise the phisiciens 
answcrden, save that thay sayden a fewe wordes more : 
that ryght as maladies ben cured by her contraries, 
right so schal men waiissch werre by vengeaunce.'^ His 
neygheboures ful of envy, his fcyncd freendes that 
semede recounsilcd, and his flatereres, maden semblaunt 
of wepyng, and appaired and aggregged moche of this 
matiere, in preisyng grctly Melibe of might, of power, 
of riches, and of frendes, dcspisinge the power of his 
adversaries ; and sayden outerly, that he anoon schulde 
wreke him on his adversaries be bygynnynge of werre. 

^ loarisich werre by vcngeannce. So the Harl. ami Lansd. MSS. read 
correctly. Tyrwhitt omits the words by vengcauncv. 'Die original is, 
" aussi doit on guerir guerre par vengencc." 


Up roos thaune an advocate that was wys, by leve 
and by counseil of otliere that were wise, and sayde : 
" Lordynges, the needes for whiche we ben assemblit in 
this place, is ful hevy thing, and an heigh matier, 
bycause of the wrong and of the wikkednes that hath ben 
doun, and eek by resoim of the grete damages that in 
tyme comyng ben possible to falle for the same, and eek 
bycause of the grete richesse and power of the partes 
bothe, for the whiche resouns, it were a ful gret peril to 
erren in these materes. Wherfore, Melibeus, this is 
cure sentence; we counseile j^ow, aboven alle thinges, 
that right anoon thou do diligence in kepyng of thy 
body in such a wyse that thou ne wante noon espye ne 
wacche thy body for to save. And after that, we coun- 
seile that in thin hous thou sette suffisaunt gaiiiisoun, 
so that thay may as wel thy body as thin hous defende. 
But ceites for to moeve werre, ne sodeynly for to doo 
vengeance, we may not deme in so litel tyme that it 
were profitable. Wherfore we axen leysir and a space 
to have deliberacioun*' in this caas to demen; for the 
comune proverbe saith this : He that soone demeth, 
soone schal repente. And eek men sayn, that thilke 
juge is wj's, that soone understondeth a matier, and 
juggeth by leysir. For al be it so, that alle tarjnnge is 
anoyful, algates it is no reproef in gevynge of juggement, 
ne of vengaunce takyng, whan it is suffisaunt and reson- 
able. And that schewed cure Lord Jhesu Crist by en- 

^ Space to have ddiheraciuiin. I Lave added the three last « ords i'rom 
the Lansd. MS., as they are authorized by the Frencli origitiah They 
are omiited in the Harl. MS. 


samjjle, for whan that the wommau that was i-take in 
advoutrie, was brought in his presence to knowen what 
schulde be doon of hir persona, al be it that he wist 
him self what that he wolde answere, yit wolde he not 
answere sodeynly, but he wolde have deliberacioun, and 
in the ground hem wrot t^vyes. And by these causes we 
axe delibei'acioun ; and we schul thanne by the grace of 
God counseile the thing that schal be profy table." Up- 
starten thenne the youge folkes anoon at oones, and the 
moste parte of that companye han skoraed these olde 
wise men, and bygonne to make noyse and sayden : 
" Plight so as whil that iren is hoot men scholden 
smyte, right so schulde men wreke here wronges, whil 
that thay ben freische and newe :" and with lowde vois 
thay Clyde, " Werre, werre." 

Uproos tho oon of these olde wise, and with his bond 
made countenaunce that men schulde holde hem stille, 
and given him audience. " Lordyngs," quod he, " ther 
is ful many a man that crieth werre, werre, that wot ful 
litel what werre amounteth. Werre at his bygynnyng 
hath so greet an entre and so large, that every wight 
may entire whan him liketh, and lightly fynde werre : 
but certes what ende schal falle therof, it is not lightly to 
knows. For sothly whan that werre is oones bygonne, 
ther is ful many a child unbore of his mooder that schal 
sterve yong, bycause of thilke werre, or elles lyve in 
sorwe and deye in wrecchidnes : and therfore er that 
eny werre be bygonne, men moste have gret counseil 
and gret deliberacioun." And whan this olde man 
wcnde to enforce his talc by rcsouns, wcl neigh alle at 


oones bygonne thay to rise, for to breke ids tale, and 
beden him ful ofte his wordes to abrigge. For sothly he 
that precheth to hem that liste not to heere his wordes, 
his sermoun hem anoyeth. For Jhesus Sirac saith, 
that musik in wepyng^ is a noyous thing. This is to 
say, as moche avayleth to speke to-fore folk to whiche his 
speche annoyeth, as it is to synge byfore hem whiche that 
wepith. And whan this wise man saugli him wanted 
audience, al schamefast he sette him doun agayn. For 
Salamon saith, Ther as thou may have noon audience, 
enforce the not to speke. " I se wel," quod this wise 
man, " that the comune proverbe is soth, that good 
counseil wantith, whan it is most neede." Yit hadde 
this Melibeus in his coimseil many folk, that prively in 
his eere counseled him certein thinges, and counseled 
him the contrarie in general audience. 

Whan Melibeus hadde herd that the grettest party of 
his counseil were accorded that he schulde make werre, 
anoon he consented to here counseilyng, and fully 
affermed here sentence. Thanue dame Prudence, whan 
that sche saugh that liir housbonde schop him to wreke 
him of his enemyes, and to gynne werre, sche in ful 
humble wise, whan sche saugh hire tyme, sayde him 
these wordes : "My lord," quod sche, " I yow biseche '^^ as 
hertily as I dar and kan, ne haste yow nought to faste, 

" Miisik in wepyng. The Harl. MS. reads ivcpyng in musik; but the 
other reatliiig, taken from the Lansd. MS., is authorized uot only by the 
French original, but it is required by the context. 

'" 1 yow biseche." Sire, dist elle,je vous pvie que vous ne voushastez, 
et quo vous pour tous dons nic donncz cspace." 


and for alle guerdoims as geve me audience. For Peres 
Alfons^' saith, Who that doth to the outher good or harm, 
haste the nought to quyten liim, for in this wise thy 
freend -vdl abjde, and thin enemy schal the longer lyve 
in drede. The proverhe saith, He hastith wel that 
wisly can abyde : and in wiltked haste is no profyt." 
This Mehbeus answerde unto his wyi Prudens : "I 
purpose not," quod he, " to werke by thy counseil, for 
many causes and resomis : for certes every -wight wolde 
holde me thanne a fool ; this is to sayn, if I for thy 
counseil wolde chaunge thinges that afFermed ben by so 
many wise. Secoundly, I say that alle wommen be 
wikked, and noon good of hem alle. For of a thousand 
men, saith Salamon, I fond oon good man : but certes 
of alle wommen good womman fond I never noon. And 
also certes, if I govemede me by thy counseil, it schulde 
seme that I hadde given to the over me the| maistry : 
and God forbeede er it so were. For Jhesus Sirac 
saith, that if a wif have maistrie, schc is contrarious to 
hir housbond. And Salamon saith, Never in thy lif to 
thy wyf, ne to thy child, ne to thy freend, ne geve no 
power over thi self : for better it were that thy children 
axen of thy persoiie thinges that been needful to hem, 
than thou se thi self in the hondes of thy children. 
And also, if I wolde werke by thy counseljaige, certes it 

1' Feres Alfons. Peter Alfonsus, or AUbiisi, was a converted Spanish 
.Tow, who flourished in the tuc^lfth century, and is well Icnown I'or his 
disciplina clcricalis, — a collection of stories and nioralizatious in Latin 
prose, which was translated afterwards into French verse under the title 
of the Caslokmcnl d'un perc a son fUs. It was a book im:ch in vogue 
nnion;^ the preachers from the tliirteenth to tlio iiftc^enth century. 


most som tyme be secre, til it were tyme that it moste 
be knowe : and tliis ne may not be,"'^ 

Whan dame Prudence, ful debonerly and with gret 
pacience, hadde herd al that hir housbonde liked for to 
seye, thanne axed sche of him licence for to speke, and 
sayde in this wise : " My lord," quod sche, "as to youre 
firste resoun, certes it may lightly be answered ; for I say 
it is nofoly to chaunge counsel whan the tiling is chaungid, 
or elles whan the thing semeth otherwise than it was 
biforn. And moreover I say, though that ye han sworn 
and i-hight to parforme youre emprise, and natheles ye 
wayve to parforme thilke same emprise by juste cause, 
men schulde not say therfore that ye were a lyere, ne 
for-sworn : for the book seith, that the wise man maketh 
no lesyng, whan he tometh his corrage to the better. 
And al be it so that youre emprise be establid and 
ordeyned by gret multitude of people, yet thar ye not 
accomplise thilke same ordinaunce but you like : for the 
trouthe of a thing, and the profyt, ben rather founde in 
fewe folk that ben wise and ful of resoun, than by gret 
multitude of folk, ther every man crieth and clatereth 
what that him liketh : sothely such multitude is not 
honest. And to the secoimde resoun, wher as ye sayn, 
that alle wommen ben wildce : save youre grace, certis 

" Ne may not be. After tliis paragraph, Chaucer has omitted to trans- 
late a passage ol" the French original, which, as it is requisite to under- 
stand some parts of tlie lady's reply, is here given. Melibeus concludes 
his discourse with the observation — " Car il est escript, la genglerie des 
femmes ne puet riens cellcr fors ce qu'elle ne scet. Apres le philozophe 
dit, en mauvais con.seil les femnies vainqueut les hommcs. Et par ces rai- 
sousj e ne dois point user do ton conseil." 


ye despise alle wommen in this wise, and he that alle 
despysith, saith the book, alle displeseth.'^ And Senec 
saith. Who so wil have sapience, schal no man disprayse, 
but he schal gladly teche the science that he can, 
withoute presumpcioun or pryde : and suche thinges as 
he nought can, he schal not ben aschamed to lerne hem, 
and enquere of lasse folk than himself. And, sire, that 
ther hath be ful many a good womman, may lightly be 
proeved ; for certes, sire, our Lord Jhesu Crist nolde 
never han descended to be borne of a -womman,^* if alle 
wommen hadde ben wildve. And after that, for the 
grete bounte that is in wommeu, oure Lord Jhesu Crist, 
whan he was risen fro deth to lyve, apperede rather to a 
womman than to his apostles. And though that Sa- 
lamon say, he fond never good womman, it folwith 
nought therfore, that alle w-ommen ben wikke : for 
though that he fonde nooue goode wommen, certes 
many another man hath founden many a womman ful 
goode and trewe. Or elles paraventure thentent of 
Salamon was this, as in sovere\Ti bounte he fond no 
womman ; this is to say, that ther is no wight that hath 
soverein bounte, save God aloone, as he him self re- 
cordeth in his Evaungelie. For ther nys no creature so 
good, that liim ne wantith som what of the perfeccioun 
of God that is his makere. Youre thridde resoun is 
this : ye seyn that if ye governed yow by counsel of 

?' And he that alle despysith. " Car il est escript, qui tout desprise, a 
tons desplaist." The words alle displcscth are omitted in the Harl. MS. 

'* Mai/ lightly . ... of a wumman. The whole of this passage has been 
accidentally omitted by the scribe of tlic Harl MS. It is here supplied 
from the Lansd. MS. 


me, it scliulde seme that ye hadde geve me the mays- 
try and the lordschipe over youre persone. Sire, save 
youre grace, it is not so ; for if so were that no man 
schulde be counseiled but by hem that hadde maj'^strie and 
lordschipe of his persone, men wolde nought be comi- 
seiled so ofte : for sothly thilke man that axeth counseil 
of a purpos, yet hath he fro chois whether he ml werke 
by that purpos or non. And as to youre ferthe resoun, 
ther ye sayn that the janglerie of wommcn can hyde 
thinges that tliay wot not of ; as who saith, that a 
womman can nought hyde that sche woot. Sire, these 
wordes ben understonde of wommen that ben jangelers 
and wikke ; of whiche wommen men sayn that thre 
thinges dryven a man out of his oughne hous ; that is to 
say, smoke, droppyng of reyn, and wikked wyfes. Of 
suche wommen saith Salamon, that it were better to a 
man to dwelle in desert, that with a womman that is 
riotous. And, sire, by youre leve, that am not I ; for 
ye han ful ofte assayed my grete silence and my grete 
pacience, and eek how wel that I can hyde and hele 
thinges, that ben secrely to hyde. And sothly as to 
youre fyfte resoun, wher as ye sayn, that in wikkede 
counseil wommen venquisscheth men, God wot thilke 
resoun stent hei'e in no stede : for imderstondith now, 
ye axen counseil to do wickidnes ; and if ye wil wirke 
wickidnes, and youre wyf restreyne thilke wicked pur- 
pos, and overcome you by resoun and by good counseil, 
certes youre wyf oweth rather be preised than y-blamed. 
Thus schulde ye understonde the philosopher that seith, 
In wcked counseil wommen venquysclien her hous- 


bondes. And ther as ye blame alle wynimen and here 
resouns, I schal scliewe by many resouns and ensamples 
that many a womman hath ben ful good, and yit been and 
here counseiles ful holsome and profitable. Eke some 
men han sayd, that the counseilyng of wommen is 
outher to dere, or to litel of pris. But al be it so that ful 
many a womman is badde, and hircounseil vile and not 
worth, yet han men founde many a ful good womman, 
and ful discret and wys in counseilyng. Lo, Jacob, by 
counseil of his moder Rebecca, wan the blessyng of his 
fader Ysaac, and the lordschipe of alle his bretheren. 
Judith, by hire good counseil, delyvered the citee of 
Bethulie, in which sche dwellid, out of the honde of 
Olophemus, that had byseged it, and wolde it al de- 
stroye. Abigayl delivered Nabal hir housbond fro David 
the lung, that wolde have i-slayn him, and appesed the 
ire of the kyng by hir witte, and by hir good coun- 
seilynge. Hester by good counseil enhaunsed gretly the 
poeple of God, in the regne of Assuerus the kyng. And 
the same bounte in good counseilyng of many a good 
womman may men rede and telle. And moreover, 
whan oure Lord had creat Adam oure forme fader, he 
sayde in this wise : It is not good to be a man aloone : 
make we to him an help semblable to him self. Here 
may ye se that if tliat a womman were not good, and hir 
counseil good and profytable, oure Lord God of heven 
wolde neither have wrought hem, no called hem help of 
man, but rather confusioun of man. And ther sayde 
cones a clerk in tuo versus,^^ What is better that gold ? 

'^ In two vers'ts. I have not met witli the hvo verses in nui'stiou, Vnit 


Jasper. And what is better than jasper ? Wisedom, 
And what is better than wisedom ? Womman. And 
what is better than a good womman ? No thing. And, 
sire, by many other resouns may ye se, that many 
wommen ben goode, and eek her comiseil good'^ and pro- 
fitable. And therfore, if ye wil truste to my counseil, I 
schal restore you youre doughter hool and sound : and 
eek I wil doon you so moche, that ye schul have honour 
in this cause." 

Whan Melibe had herd these wordes of his wif Pru- 
dens, he seide thus : "I se wel that the word of Sala- 
mon is soth ; he seith, that the wordes that ben spoken 
discretly by ordinauuce, been honycombes, for thay 
geven swetnes to the soule, and holsomnes^'^ to the body. 
And, wyf, bycause of thy swete wordes, and eek for 
I have assayed and proved thi grete sapiens and thi 
grete trouthe, I wil governe me by thy counseil in alle 

"Now, sire," quod dame Prudens, "and syn ye 
vouchen sauf to be governed by my comiseilyng, I wil 
enforme you how ye schul governe youre self, in chesyng 

tbey seem to be a modification of a distich which is not uncommoa in 
MSS., and which are printed thus in the Reliq. Antiq. i, p. 19:— 

Auro quid melius ? jaspis. Quid jaspide? scnsus. 

Sensu quid ? ratio. Quid ratione ? nihil. 
In the manuscript from which this distich is there printed, it is coupled 
Viith another much less favourable to the fair sex than the version given 
by dame Prudence : — 

Vento quid levius? fulgur. Quid fulgure? flamma. 

Flamma quid ? mulier. Quid muliere ? nihil. 
'* And eek her counseil good. These words have been accidentally 
omitted in the Harl. MS. 

" Holsomncs. The Harl. MS. reads erroneously /ioZ<«cs. The French 
original has, ct sanie au corps. 


of youre conseil. Ye scbul first in alle youre we rites 
mekely biseclie to tlie liihe God, tliat lie wol be your 
counseilour : and scbape you to that eutent that be give 
you counseil and confort, as taughte Toby his sone : At 
alle tymes thou schalt blesse God, and pray bim to 
dresse thy wayes ; and loke that alle thi counseiles be in 
bim for evermore. Seint Jame eek saith : If eny of 
yow have needs of sapiens, axe it of God. And aftir- 
ward, thanue scbul ye take counseil in youre self, and 
examine wel youre tbougbtes, of sucbe tbinges as you 
tbinkitb that is best for youre profyt. And thanne scbul 
ye dryve fro youre berte thre tbinges'^ that ben con- 
trarie to good counseil; that is to say, ire, coveytise, 
and bastynes. First, he that axeth counseil of him self, 
certes he moste be withoute ire, for many cause. The 
first is this : be that bath gret ire and wrath the in him 
self, be wenetb alwey be may do thing that be may not 
doo. And secoundly, be that is irons and wroth, he may 
not wel deme : and be that may not wel deme, may 
nought wel counseile. The thridde is this : that he that 
is irons and wroth, as saith Senec, may not speke but 
blameful tbinges, and ^v^th his vicious wordes be stiretb 
other folk to anger and to ire. And eek, sire, ye moste 
diyve coveitise out of youre berte. For thapostle saith, 
tliat coveytise is roote of alle harmes. And trustetb wel, 
that a coveitous man ne can not deme ne tbinke, but 

'" Dryve fro youre herte thre tldnges. The Harl.MS, reads imperfectly 
herles tho that hen, and the Lansd. MS. omits the word thre, wliich how- 
ever is requisite to give the full sense of the original, — " Et lors tu dois 
oster de toy troix choses qui sent contraires a conseil." 



oonly to fulfill e the encle of liis coveitise ; and certes 
that may never ben accomplisecl ; for ever the more 
abundaunce that he hath of riches, the more he de- 
sireth. And, sire, ye moste also dryve out of your 
herte hastynes : for certes ye may nought deme for the 
beste a sodein thought that falleth in youre herte, but ye 
moste avyse you on it ful ofte. For as ye herde here 
bifom, the comune proverbe is this ; that he that 
soone demeth, soone repentith. Sire, ye ben not alway 
in iik disposicioun, for certis som thing that som tyme 
semeth to yow that it is good for to doo, another tyme 
it semeth to you the contrarie. Whan ye ban taken 
counseil in youre selven, and ban demed by good deli- 
beraciomi such tiling as yow semeth best, thanne rede I 
you that ye kepe it secre. Bywreye nought youre coun- 
seil to no persone, but it so be that ye wene sicurly, 
that thurgh youre by wreyinge youre condicioun schal be 
to yow the more profytable. For Jhesus Syrac saith, 
Neither to thi foo ne to thi freend discovere not thy 
secre ne thy foly ; for they wil give you audience and 
lokyng and supportacioun in thi presence, and scorn in 
tliin absence. Another clerk saith, that skarsly schal 
thou fynde eny persone that may kepe counseil se- 
creely. The book saith : Wliil thou kepist thi coun- 
sail in thin herte, thou kepest it in thi prisoun : and 
whan thou bywreyest thi counseil to any wight, he hold- 
eth the in his snare. And therfore yow is better hyde 
youre counseil in youre herte, than prayen him to whom 
ye have bywryed youre counseil, that he wol kepe it 
clos and stillc. For Seneca seith : If so be that thou 


ne maist not thin owne coimseil hycle, how darst thou 
preyen any other wight thy counseil secreely to kepe ? 
But natheles, if thou wene securly that thy bywreying 
of thy counseil to a pei'sone wol make thy condicioun 
stonde in the better pUte, thanne schalt thou telle him 
thy counseil in tliis wise. First, thou schalt make no 
semblaunt wher the were lever werre or pees, or tlais or 
that ; ne schewe him not thi -wille and thin entent : for 
truste wel that comunly these counseilours ben flaterers, 
namely the counselours of grete lordes, for thay en- 
forcen hem alway rather to speke plesaunt wordes 
enclynyng to the lordes lust, than wordes that been 
trewe and profytable. And therfore men say, that the 
liche man hath selden good counseil, but if he have it of 
him self. And after that thou schalt consider thy 
frendes and thine enemyes. And as touching thy frendes, 
thou schalt considere which of hem beth most fiiithful 
and most wise, and eldest and most approvyd in coun- 
saylinge : and of hem schalt thou axe thy counsail, as the 
caas requireth. 

" I say, that first ye schul clepe to youre counseil 
youre frendes that ben trewe. For Salamon saith, 
that right as the hert of a man delitith in savour that is 
soote, right so the counseil of trewe frendes geveth 
swetnes to the soule. He saith also, ther may no 
thing be likened to the trewe freeud : for certes gold ne 
silver beth nought so moche worth as the goode wil of a 
trewe freend. And eek he sayde, that a trewe frend is 
a strong defens ; who that it fyudeth, certes he fyndeth 
a gret tresour. Thanne schul ye eek considere if that 



yoiu'e trewe frendes ben discrete and wyse : for the 
book saith, Axe thi counseil alwey of hem that ben wyse. 
And by this same resoun schul ye clepe to youre coun- 
seil of youre frendes that ben of age, suche as have 
i-seye sightes and ben expert in many thinges, and 
ben approvj^d in counseylinges. For the book saith," 
that in okle men is the sapience, and in longe tyme the 
prudence. And TulHus saith, that grete thinges ben not 
ay accompliced by strengthe, ne by delyvemes of body, 
but by good counseil, by auctorite of persones, and by 
science : the whiche thre thinges ne been not feble by 
age, but certis thay enforsen and encresen day by day. 
And thanne schul ye kepe this for a general reule. 
First schul ye clepe to youre counseil a fewe of youre 
frendes that ben especial. For Salamon saith, many 
frendes have thou, but among a thousand chese the oon 
to be thy coimseilour. For al be it so, that thou first ne 
telle thy counseil but to a fewe, thou mayst afterward 
telle it to mo folk, if it be neede. But loke alwey that 
thy counseilours have thilke thre condiciouns that I 
have sayd bifore ; that is to say, that they ben trewe, and 
olde, and of wys experiens. And werke nought alwey 
in every neede by oon counseilour alloone : for som 
tyme byhoveth it be counselled by many. For Salamon 
saitb, Salvacioun of thinges is wher as there beth many 

"Now sith that I have told yow of whiche folk ye 
schul be counselled, now wil I telle yow which counseil 

" For the book saith. The original refers for this maxim to the book 
of .Tol), — " Car il est escript en Job." 


ye ought escliiewe. First, ye sclial eschiewe the coun- 
seil of fooles ; for Salamou seith, Take no couuseil of a 
fool, for he ne can not counseile hut after his oughne 
lust and his affeccioun. The book seith, that the pro- 
prete of a fool in this : he troweth lightly harm of 
every wight, and lightly troweth alle bounte in him 
self. Thow schalt escliiewe eek the counseil of alle 
flaterers, suche as enforcen hem rathere to prayse 
youre persone by flaterie, than for to telle yow the soth- 
fastnesse of thinges. Wherfore Tullius saith, Amonges 
alle pestilences that ben in frendschipe, the grettest is 
flaterie. And therfore is it more neede that thou 
eschiewe and drede flaterers, more than eny other peple. 
The book saith. Thou schalt rather drede and flee fro 
the swete wordes of flaterers, then fro the egre wordes 
of thy frend that saith the thi sothes. Salamon saith, 
that the wordes of a flaterer is a snare to cacche in inno- 
centz. He saith also, He that sj)eketli to his frend 
wordes of swetnesse and of plesaunce, setteth a uette 
byfore his feet to cacchen him. And therfore saith 
Tullius, Encline not thin eeres to flaterers, ne tak no 
counseiP" of tlic wordes of flaterers. And Catoun^' 
saith, Avjse the wel, and eschiewe wordes of swetnes and 
of plesaunce. And eek thou schalt eschiewe thp couu- 
selyng of thin olde enemys that ben recounsiled. The 
book saith, that no wight retorneth safly^ into the grace 

*" counseil. I have retained this reading on the authority of MS. 
Lansd. and the original French. The Harl, MS. reads, confurt. 

*' Catoun. Lib. iii, dist. 0, — ' 

Sermones blandos bloesosque cavere memento. 

'- Saftij. In the French original, seurcmcnt. 'I'lio Havl. MS. reads, 


of his olde euemyes. And Ysope"^ saith, Ne tmste not 
to hem, with which thou hast had som tyme werre oi* 
enmyte, ne telle not hem thy counseil. And Seneca 
telleth the cause why : it may not be, saith he, that 
wher as a greet fuyr hath longe tyme endured, that 
there ne leveth som vapour of hete. And therfore 
saith Salamon, In thin olde enemy truste thou uevere. 
For sicm-ly, though thin enemy be reconsiled, and make 
the cheer of humilite, and lowteth to the his heed, 
ne ti'ist him never : for certes he makith thilke feyned 
humilite more for his profyt, than for eny love of thi 
persone ; bycause he demyth to have victorie over thi 
persone by such fejaied coimtynaunce, the which vic- 
torie he might nought have by stryf and werre. And 
Petir Alphons saith : Make no felaschipe with thine 
olde enemyes, for if thou do hem bounte, they wil per- 
verten it into wikkednes. And eek thou most eschiewe 
the counseilynge of hem that ben thy servauntz, and 
beren the gret reverence : for paraventure thai say it 
more for drede than for love. And therfore saith a 
philosophre in tliis wise : Ther is no wight parfytly 
trewe to him that he to sore dredeth. And Tullius 
saith, Ther is no might so gret of any emperour that 
longe may endure, but if he have more love of the peple 
than drede. Thow schalt also eschiewe the counseil of 
folk that ben dronkelewe, for thay ne can no coun- 
sel hyde. For Salamon saith, Ther is no privete 

22 J'sope. Several collections of-.bles in the Middle Ages went under 
the name of Ysopc, or ^Esop, so that it would not be easy to point out the 
one from which this moral aphorism is taken. 


ther as regneth dronkenesse.^ Ye scliul also have in 
suspect the couuseil of such folk as coimseileth you oon 
thing prively, and counseile yow the contrarie openly. 
For Cassiodorie saith, It is a maner sleighte to hindre,.^ 
whan he schewith to doon oon thing openly, and werkith 
prively the contrarie. Thou schalt also eschiewe the 
counseil of wikked folkes ; for the book saith, The coun- 
selyng of wikked folk is alway ful of fraude. And David 
saith, Blisful is that man that hath not folwed the 
counseilyng of wikked men or schrewes. Thow schalt 
also eschiewe the coimseilynge of yonge folk, for here 
counseil is nought rype. 

" Now, sire, syn I have schewed yow of what folk 
ye schul take youre counsail, and of whiche folk ye 
schullen eschiewe the comiseil, now schal I teche yow 
how ye schul examyne youre counseil after the doc- 
trine of Tullius. In examynyng of youre counseil- 
oures, ye schul considre many thinges. Althirfirst ye 
schul considre that in thilke thing that thou proposist, 
and up what thing thou wilt have counseil, that verray 
trouthe be sayd and considerid ; this is to sayn, telle 
trewely thy tale. For he that saith fals, may not wel 
be counseled in that cas of which he lyeth. And after 
this, thou schalt considere the thinges that accorden to 
that purpos for to do by thy counseil, if resoun accorde 

-^ dronlcenesse. Nul secret ii'est oii regno yvresse. Fr. Orig. 

^ to hindre. Tyrwhitt, with the Lands MS., reads to hinder his 
enemy, whicli conveys a meaning totally different from tliat of the original 
French, which has : "Cassiodoire dit, nne raaniere de grcver son amy est 
quant on hii conseille une chose en secret et monstrer en nppert que on 
vault le contraire." 


therto, and eek if thy might may accorde therto, and if 
the more part and the hetter part of thy counseilours 
accorde therto or noon. Thanne schalt thou cosidere 
what thing schal folwe of that consailynge ; as hate, 
pees, werre, grace, profyt, or damage, and many other 
thinges: and in alle these thinges thou schalt chese the 
beste, and weyve alle other thinges. Thanne schalt 
thou considre of what roote engendred is the matier of 
thy counseil, and what fruyt it may concave and en- 
geudre. Thow schalt also consider al these causes, from 
whens thai ben sprongen. And whan ye have examined 
youre counseil, as I have said, and which party is the 
better and more profitable, and ban approved by many 
wise folk and olde, than schalt thow considre, if thou 
maist parforme it and make of it a good ende. For 
resoun wol nought that any man schuld bygpine a thing, 
but if he mighte parforme it and make therof a good 
ende : ne no wight schulde take upon him so bevy a 
charge, that he mighte not here it. For the proverbe 
seith. He that moche embrasith destroyeth^^ litel. And 
Catoun^ seith. Assay to do such thing as thou hast power 
to doon, lest that thy charge oppresse the so sore, that 
the bihove to wayve thing that thou hast bygonne. And 
if so be that thou be in doubtc, wher thou maist performe 
a tiling or noon, chese rather to suffre than bygynne. 
And Petre Alfons saith, If thou hast might to doon a 

'^ denlrotfelh. Tlie Lansil. MS. and Tyrwhitt read, dislrcinelh. The 
original lias, " Car on dit on proverbe, Qui trop embrasse, pou estraint." 
*' Caloun. This is from the De Morih. lib. iii, dist. 16, — 
Quod potcs, id tontato; operis ne pondere pressus 
Succiinibal labor, et frustra (ontata relinqiias. 


thing, of -which thou most repente, it is better nay than 
yee : this is to sayn, that the is better holde thy tonge 
stille than to speke. Than may ye imclerstonde by 
strenger rasouns, that if thou hast power to performe a 
a werk, of which thou schalt repente, thanne is it better 
tliat thou sutfre than bigynne. Wei seyn thay that 
clefenclen every wight to assaie thing of which he is 
in doute, whetliir he may performe it or noon. And 
after whan ye han examyned youre counseil, as I have 
sayd biforn, and knowen wel ye may performe youi'e 
empnse, conferme it thanne sadly til it be at an ende. 

"Now is it tyme and resoun that I schewe yow 
whanne, and wherfore, that ye may chaunge youre coun- 
seil withouteu reproef, Sothly, a man may chaunge 
his purpos and his counseil, if the cause cesseth, or 
whan a newe cause bytydeth. For the lawe seith, upon 
thinges that newely bitydeth, bihoveth newe counseil. 
And Seneca seith, If thy counseil be comen to the eeres 
of thin enemy, chaunge thy counsail. Thow maist also 
chaunge thy counseil, if so be that thou fynde that by 
errour, or by other processe, harm or damage may 
bytyde. Also thou chaunge thy counseil,"® if thy coun- 
seil be dishonest, or elles cometh of dishoneste ; for the 
lawes sayn, that alle the hestes that ben dishoneste ben 
of no valieu : and cek, if it so be that it be impossible, 
or may not goodly be performed or kept. And take 
this for a general reule, that every comiseil that is 
affermed or strengthed so strongly that it may not be 

2* alto thou chaunge. The original gives this briefly, " Apres, quant le 
conseil est deshonne.ste ou vient lie cause deshouneste, il est dc nulle vahie." 


chaunged for no condicioun that may bitide, I say that 
thilke counseil is wikked." 

This Melibeus, whan he liad herd the doctrine of his 
wyf dame Pi-udens, answerde in this vase. " Dame," 
quod he, " yit as into this tyme ye han wel and coven- 
ably taught me, as in general, how I sclial governe me 
in the chesynge and in the withholdynge of my coun- 
seiloures : but now wold I fayn ye wolde condescend© 
as in especial, and telleth me what semeth or how 
liketh yow by oure comiseiloures that we han chosen 
in oure present neede." 

"My lord," quod sche, "I byseke yow in al hum- 
blesce, that ye wil not wilfully repplye ageinst my re 
souns, ne distempre youre herte, though I say or speke 
thing that yow displesith ; for God woot that, as in myn 
entent, I speke it for youre beste, for j^oure honour, 
and for your profyt eek, and sothly I hope that youre 
benignite wol take it into pacience. For trusteth me 
wel," qviod sche, "that youre counseil as in this caas 
ne schulde not (as for to speke propurly) be called a 
coimseilyng, but a mocioun or a moevynge of foly, in 
which counseil ye han erred in many a sondry wise. 
First and forward, ye han erred in the gaderyng of 
youre counseilours : for ye schulde first han cleped a 
fewe folkes, if it hadde be neede. But certes ye han 
sodeinly cleped to your counseil a gret multitude of 
poeple, ful chargeous and ful anoyous for to hiere. 
Also ye han erred, for tlier as ye schulde oonly have 
clepid to youre counseil youre trewe frendes, olde and 
wise, ye have i-oleped straunge folk, yonge folk, false 


flatereres, and enemyes reconsiled, and folk that doon 
yow reverence witlioute love. And also ye ban erred, 
for ye lian brought with yow to youre counseil ire, 
coveitise, and hastynes, the whiche thre things ben 
contrarious to eveiy counsail honest and profitable : the 
whiche thre thiuges ye have nought anuentisscbed or 
destroyed, neyther in youre self ne in yom-e coun- 
seiloures, as ye oughte. Also ye have erred, for ye 
have schewed to youre counseilours youre talent and 
youre affeccioun to make werre, and for to doon ven- 
geaunce anoon, and thay ban espyed by youre wordes 
to what thinge ye ben enclined : and therfore have thay 
counselled yow rather to youre talent than to youre 
profyt. Ye have erred also, for it semeth that yow 
sufficeth to have been counselled by these counseilours 
only, and with litel axjs, wher as in so gret and so 
heigh a neede, it hadde be necessarious mo comiseilours 
and more deliberacioun to performe youre emprise. Ye 
have erred also,^ for ye have maked no divisioun bytwixe 
youre counseilours ; this is to seyn, bitwix youre frendes 
aitd youre feyned counseiloui's : ne ye ne have nought 
i-knowe the wille of youre frendes, olde and wise, but 
ye have cast alle here wordes in an hochepoche, and 
enclyned youre herte to the more part and to the gretter 
nombre, and there be ye condescendid ; and syn yc wot 
wel men schal alway fynde a gretter nombre of fooles 

29 Ye have erred also. Tyrwhitt Las here adtlcil a short paragrapli, 
apparently made up from more than one MS. The original is : " Apres 
tu as erre quant tu as feit la division de ton conseil ; tu n'as mie suivy la 
voulente de tes loyaiix amis saiges et anciens, mais as seulement regardc 
Ic grant nombre ; et tu sees que tousjours li i'ol sont eji plus grant nomhro 
que les saiges." 


than of wyse men, and tlierfore the couusailes that ben 
at congregaciouns and multitudes of folk, ther as men 
taken more reward to the nombre than to the sapience 
of persones, ye se wel that in suche comiseilynges 
fooles have maystrie." 

Melibeus answerde agayn and sayde : " I graunte wel 
that I have erred ; but ther as thou hast told me to-forn, 
that he is nought to blame that chaun geth his counseilours 
in certeyu caas, and for certeyn juste causes, I am al redy 
to chaunge my counseilours right as thou wilt devyse. The 
jDroverbe saith, that for to do synne is mannysch, but certes 
for to persevere longe in synne is werk of the de\7l." 

To this sentence anoon answerde dame Prudens, and 
saide : " Examineth," quod sche, " youre counsail, and 
let us se which of hem hath spoke most resonably, and 
taught you best counsail. And for as moche as the 
examinacioun is necessarie, let us byginne at the surgiens 
and at the phisiciens, that first spekeu in this matiere. 
I say you that the surgiens and the phisiciens han sayd 
yow in youre counseil discretly, as hem ought : and in 
here speche sayden ful wisely, that to the office of hem 
appendith to doon to every wight honour and profyt, and 
no wight to annoy, and after here craft to do gret dili- 
gence unto the cure of hem wliiche that thay have in 
here goveraaunce. And, sire, right as thay answerde 
wisely and discretly, right so rede I that thay be heighly 
and soveraignly guerdoned for here noble speche, and 
eek for thay schullen do the more enteiityf besynes in 
the curyng of youre doughter dere. For al be it so that 
thai be youre frendes, therfore schul ye nought suffre 


that thay schul serve yow for nought, but ye oughte 
the rathere to guerdoune hem and schewe hem youre 
largesse. And as touchynge the proposiciouns whiche the 
phisicieus han schewed you in this caas, this is to sayn, 
that in maladyes oon contrarie is warisshed by another 
contrarie, I wolde fayn knowe thilke text and how thay 
understonde it, and what is youre entente." " Certes," 
quod Melibeus, " I understonde it in this wise ; that 
right as thay han do me a contrarie, right so schold I 
do hem another ; for right as thai han venged hem on 
me and doon me wrong, right so schal I venge me upon 
hem, and doon hem wrong ; and thanne have I cured oon 
contrarie by another." " Lo, lo," quod dame Prudence, 
" how lightly is every man enclyned to his oughne ple- 
saunce and to his oughne desir ! Certes," quod sche, 
" the wordes of the phisiciens ne schulde nought have 
ben understonde sone in that wise ; for certes wikked- 
nesse is no contrarie to wickednesse, ne vengauns to 
vengeaunce, ne wrong to wrong, but thai ben sem- 
blable : and therfore a vengeaunce is nought warisshed 
by another vengeamice, ne oon wrong by another wrong, 
but eveiych of hem encreseth and engi'eggith other. 
But certes the wordes of the phisiciens schul ben 
understonde in this wise : for good and wikkednesse 
ben tuo contraries, and pees and werre, vengeaunce and 
sufPeraunce, discord and accord, and many other thinges : 
but, certes, wikkednes schal be warrisshed by goodnesse, 
dischrd by accord, werre by pees, and so forth of other 
thinges. And herto accordith seint Paul the apostil 
in many places : he saith, Ne yeldith nought harm for 


harm, ue wikked speche for wikked speche ; but do 
wel to him that doth the harm, and blesse him that 
saith the harme. And in many other places he amo- 
nesteth pees and accord. But now wil I speke to yow 
of the counseil, which was give to yow by the men 
of lawe, and the wise folk, and olde folk,^° that sayde 
alle by oon accord as ye have herd byfore, that over alle 
thinges ye schal do youre diligence to kepe youre per- 
sone, and to warmstore youre house : and seyden also, 
that in this yow aughte for to wirche ful avysily and with 
gret deliberacioun. And, sire, as to the firste poynt, that 
touched to the kepinge of youre persone, ye schul 
imderstonde, that he that hath werre, schal evermore 
devoutly and mekely prayen bifom alle thinges, that 
Jhesu Crist wil of his mercy have him in his protec 
cioun, and ben his soverayn helpyng at his neede : for 
certes in this world ther nys no -svight that may be coun- 
selled or kept sufficauntly, withoute the kepinge of oure 
lord Jhesu Crist. To this sentence accordeth the pro- 
phete David, that seith : If God ne kepe not the citee, 
in ydel waldth he that kepith it. Now, sire, thanne 
schul ye committe the keping of youre persone to youre 
trewe frendes, that ben approved and y-knowe, and of 
hem schul ye axen help, youre persone to kepe. For 
Catomi^' saith : If thou have neede of help, axe it of thy 

^0 and olde folk. These three wordes are omitted in the Harl. MS., 
but I have restored them from the MS. Lansd. and the French original. 
2' Catoun. The passage alluded to is found in the Distich, de Morib. 
lib. iv, dist. 14. 

Auxiliura a notis }>etito, si forte laboras ; 

Nee quisquam melior medicus quam fidus amicus. 


freeucles, for ther is noon so good a phisicien at neecle 
as is a trewe frenil. And after this tlian schal ye kepe 
you fro alle straunge folkes, and fro lyeres, and have 
alway in suspect here compaignye. For Pieres Alfons 
saith : Ne take no compaignye by the way of a straimge 
man, but so be that thou knowe him of a lenger tyme : 
and if so be he falle into thy compaignye paraventure 
withouten tliin assent, enquere thanne, as subtilly as 
thou maist, of his conversacioun, and of his lyf bifore, 
and feyne thy way, and say that thou wilt go thider as 
thou wolt nought goon ; and if he here a spere, hold the 
on the right syde, and if he here a swerd, holde the on 
the lyft syde. And so after this thanne schul ye kepe you 
wisely from al such peple as I have sayd bifore, and 
hem and here counseil eschiewe. And after this, thanne 
schul ye kepe yow in such manere, that for eny pre- 
sumpcioun of youre strengthe, that ye despise not the 
might of youre adversarie so lite, that ye lete the 
kepmge of youre persone for your presumpcioun ; for 
every wis man dredeth his enemy. And Salamon saith : 
Weleful is he that of alle hath drede ; for certes he that 
thurgh hardynes of his herte, and thurgh the hardinesse 
of himself, hath to gret presumpcioun, liim schal evyl 
bitide. Thanne schal ye evermore counterwayte em- 
busshementz and alle espiaille. For Senec saith, that 
the wse man that dredith harmes, eschiewith harmes, 
ne he ne fallith into noone perils, that perils eschieweth. 
And al be it so that the seme that thou art in siker place, 
yit schaltow alway do thy diligence in kepyng of thy 


persoiie ; this is to say, be not necgligent to kepe thy 
persone, nought oonly for thy gretteste enemyes, but fro 
thy lest enemyes. Senec saith : A man that is wel 
avysed, he clredith his lest enemy. Ovide seith,'^ that 
the litel wesil wol sle the grete bole and the wilde hert. 
And the book saith, a litel thorn wol prikke a lung ful 
sore, and an hound wol holde the wilde boore. But na- 
theles, I say not that ye schul be so moche a coward, 
that ye doute where is no neede or drede. The book 
saith,^^ that som folk have gret lust to disceyve, but yit 
thay dreden hem to be deceyved. Yet schal ye drede 
to ben empoisoned. And kepe the fro the companye of 
scomers : for the book saith, with scomers make no 
compaignye, but flee hem and here wordes as venym. 

" Now as to the secounde poynt, where as youre wise 
counseilours wamede yow to warmstore youre hous with 
gret diligence, I wolde fayn wite how that ye under- 
stoode thilke wordes, and what is your sentence." Me- 
libeus answerde and saide : " Certes, I understonde it 
in this wise, that I schal warmstore myn hous with 
toures, suche as han castiles and other manor edifices, 
and armure, and artilries ; by suche thinges I may my 
persone and myn hous so kepen and edifien and defen- 

" Ovide seith. The original quotes more fully, " Et Ovide, ou livre dii 
Remede d' Amours." The maxim is not found, as far as I. can discover, 
in Ovid, de Remed. Amor. 

^' The book saith. "Car il est escript, aucunesgens ont enseingnieleur 
decevoir, car ils ont trop doubte que on ne les deceust." Tyrwhitt has 
what he calls " patched up" this passage in his edition, by the insertion 
of some words of his own. I have followed the Harl. MS. exactly. 
Chaucer amplifies and alters his original in this part, which makes it dif- 
ficult to correct it by the French. 


den, that myu enemyes schul be in drede myn hous to 

To this sentence answerde dame Prudence : " Warm- 
story nge," quod sche, " of heilie toures and grete edi- 
fices, is with grete costages and grete travaile ; and 
whan that thay ben accomplised, yit beth thay nought 
worth a straw, but if they be defended by trewe frendes, 
that beth olde and wise. And understondeth that the 
grettest strength or garnisomi that the riche man may 
have, as wel to kepe his persone as his goodes, is that 
he be biloved with liis subgites and with his neighe- 
bours. For thus saith Tullius, that ther is a maner 
garnisoun, that no man may venquisshe ne discomfite, 
and that is a lord to be biloved with his citezeius, and 
of his peple, 

" Now thanne as to youre thridde poynt, where as 
youre olde and wyse counseillours sayde, ye oughto 
nought sodeinly ne hastily precede in this neede, but 
that ye oughte purveyen yow and apparaile yow in this 
caas with greet diligence and gret deliberacioun ; trewely, 
I trowe, that thay sayden soth and right wisely. For 
Tullius saith : ' In every nede, er thou bigj'une it, ap- 
paraile the with gret diligence.' Thanne say I, that in 
vengeance takinge, in werre, in bataile, and in warm- 
storiuge of thin hous, er thou bygynne, I rede that thou 
apparaille the therto, and do it with gret deliberacioun. 
For Tullius saith, that long apparaylyng byfore the 
bataille, maketh schort victorie. And Cassidorus saith, 
the garnisoun is strenger whan it is long tyme avysed, 

" But now let us speke of the counscil that was 

A A 


accorded by youre neighcbours, suclie as doon you reve- 
rence withoute love, youre olde enemyes recounsiled, 
your flatereres, that counaeile yow certcyn thinges 
pryvely, and openly counseile yow the contrarie, the 
yonge also, that counsaile yow to make werre and venge 
yow anoon. And certes, sire, as I have sayd byforn, 
ye have gretly erred to have cleped such maner folk to 
youre counseil, whiche be now reproved by the resouns 
byfore sayd. But natheles let us now descende to the 
purpos special. Ye schul first precede after the doc- 
trine of Tullius. Certes, the trouthe of this matier or 
this counseil nedeth nought diligently enquere, for it is 
wel wist, wliiche it ben that doon to yow this trespas 
and vilonye, and how many trespasoures, and in what 
maner thay hau to yow doon al tliis wi'ong and al this 
vilonye. And after that schul ye examyne the secounde 
condicioun, which Tullius addith therto in this matier. 
Tullius put a tiling, which that he clepeth consent- 
ynge :'* this is to sayn, who ben thay, and whiche ben 
thay, and how many, that consentid to this matiere, and 
to thy counsail in thy wilfulnesse, to do hasty venge- 
aunces. And let us considere also who ben tho, and 
how many ben tho, that consenteden^ to youre adver- 
saries. And certes, as to the first pojait, it is wel 
knowen whiche folk ben thay that consentid to youre 

^■^Consentyngc. The Hurl. IMS. reatls covclijnije,hy an error of the 
scribp, as appear.s by thn sequel. 

35 Consentedcn. I have restored this reading from MS. Lansd. and the 
French original, instead of the reading of the Harl. MS , thai hen coun- 


first \vilfulne3. For trewly, alle tbo that counsailled 
yow to make sodeyn werre, beth nought youre freudes. 
Let us considre whiche ben tho that ye holde so gretly 
youre frendes, as to youre persone ; for al be it so that 
ye be mighty and riche, certes ye beeil alloone : for 
certes ye have no childe but a doughter, ne ye have no 
bretheren, ne cosins germayns, ne noon other neigh 
kynredc, wherfore that youre onemyes for drede schukl- 
en stynte for to plede with you, and struye youre per- 
sone. Ye knowe also, that youre richesses mooten in 
divers parties be departed ; and whan every wight hath 
his part, thay wol take but litel reward to venge thy 
deth. But thyne enemyes ben thre, and have many 
children, bretheren, cosynes, and othere neigh kynrede ; 
and though it so were ye hadde slayn of hem tuo or 
thre, yet dwellen there y-nowe to wreke here deth and 
sle thi persone. And though so were that youre kyn- 
rede were more sekir and stedefast than the kynrede 
of youre adversaries, yit natheles youre kynrede nis but 
a fei"^ kynrede, and litel sib to yow, and the kyn of 
youre enemyes ben neigh sibbo to hem. And ceiles, 
as in that, here condicioun is bet than youres. Thanne 
let us considere also if the counseilynge of hem that 
counselled yow to take sodein vengeance, whethir it 
accordo to resouu. And certes, ye knowe wel, nay; 
for as by right and resoun, thcr may no man taken 
vengeaunce upon no wight, but tlie juggc that hath 

<"' A fer. Tliis is Tyrwhitt's reading?, wlii(;h seems to agree better willi 
the context' tlian the rciuling of the Harl. MS., lilvl. 

A A 2 


jurediccioun of it, -whan it is y-grauntecl him to take 
thilke vengeaunce hastily, or attemperely, as the lawe 
requireth. And }dt moreover of thilke word that Tul- 
lius clepith consentyiige, thou schalt considre, if thy 
might and thy power may consente and suffice to thy 
wilfulnes and to thy counseilours. And certes, thou 
maist wel say, that nay ; for sicurly, as for to speke pro- 
perly, we may doo no tiling but oonly oon thing which 
we may do rightfully : and certes rightfully may ye 
take no vengeance, as of youre owne auctorite. Than 
may ye se that youre power consentith not, ne accordith 
not, with youre wilfulnesse. 

" Let us now examyne the thridde poynt, that Tul- 
lius clepeth consequente. Thou schalt understonde, 
that the vengeance that thou pui-posiddest for to take, 
is consequent, and therof folweth another vengeaunce, 
peril, and werre, and other damages withoute nombre, 
of whiche we be not war, as at this tyme. And as touch- 
ing the fourthe poynt, that Tullius clepeth engendrynge, 
thou schalt considre that this wrong which that is doon 
to the, is engendred of the hate of thin enemyes, and 
of the vengeaunce takinge up that wolde engendre 
another vengeaunce, and moche sorwe and wastyng of 
riches, as I saj^de. Now, sire, as to the poynt that 
Tullius clepith causes, whiche that is the laste poynt, 
thou schalt understonde that the wrong that thou hast 
rcceyved hath certeyn causes, whiche that clerkes calle 
oriens, and efficiens, and causa longinqua, and causa 
propinqua, this is to say, the fer cause, and the neigh 
cause. For the fer cause is almighty God, that is 


cause of alle thinges : the nero cause, is the thre eue- 
myes ; the cause accidental was hate ; the causes mate- 
riales been the fy\'e woundes of thy doughter ; the cause 
formal is the maner of here werkyng, that brought in 
laddres and clombo in at tliin wyndowes ; the cause 
final was for to sle thy doughter ; it letted nought in as 
moche as was in hem. But for to speke of the fer 
cause, as to what ende thay schal come, or what schal 
finally betyde of hem in this cause, can I not dome, 
but by conjectyng and by supposyng ; for we schul sup- 
pose, that thay schul come to a wikked ende, bycause 
that the book of Decrees saith : Seeldeu, or with gret 
pe}Tie, ben causes i-brought to a good ende, whan thay 
ben evyl bygonne. 

" Now, sire, if men wolde axe me, why that God 
suffrede men to do yow this wrong and vilonye, certes 
I can not wel answere, as for no sothfostnes. For the 
apostil saith, that the sciences and the juggements of 
oure Lord God almyghty ben ful deepe, ther may no 
man comprehende ne serchen hem sufliciauntly. Nathe- 
les, by certeyn presumpciouns and conjectinges, I holde 
and bilieve, that God, which that is ful of justice and of 
rightwisnesse, hath suffred tliis to bityde, by juste cause 
resonable. Thy name, Mclibe, is to say, a man that 
drynketh hony. Thou hast y-drouke so moche hony 
of swccte temperel richesscs and dclices and honours of 
this world, that thou art dronke, and hast forgete 
Jhesu Crist thy creatour : thou hast not doon him such 
honour and reverence as the oughte to doone, ne 
thou hast nought wcl taken keep to the wordcs. of 


Ovidc,^' that saitli, Under tlie liony of thy goodes of thy 
body is hid the venym that sleeth thi soule. And Sala- 
mon saith, If thou have founde hony, ete of it that suf- 
ficeth ; for if thou ete of it out of mesure, thou schalt 
spewe, and be nedy and povere. And peraventure 
Crist hath the in despit, and hath torned away fro the 
his fsice and his eeres of misericorde ; and also he hath 
suffred that thou hast ben punysshed in the maner that 
thou hast i-trespassed. Thou hast doon synne ageinst 
cure Lord Crist, for certes thi thre enemyes of man- 
kynde, that is to say, thy flessche, the feend, and the 
world, thou hast y-suffred hem to entre into thin herte 
wilfully, by the wyndow of thy body, and hast nought 
defended thiself sutBciently agayns here assautes,'** and 
here temptaciouns, so that thay have woundid thi soule 
in fyve places, this is to sa}T.i, the dedly synnes that ben 
entred into thin herte by thy fyve wittes : and in the 
same maner oure Lord Crist hath wolde and suflfred, 
that thy thre enemyes ben entred into thin hous by tho 
wyndowes, and have i-woundid thi doughter in the for- 
sayde maner." 

" Certes," quod Melibeus, " I se wel that ye enforce 
yow moche by wordes to overcome me, in such manere, 
that I schal not venge me on myn enemyes, schewynge 
me the perils and the yveles that mighten falle of this 
vengeaunce. But who so wolde considre in alle ven- 

37 Ovidc. I presume the allusion is to Ovid. Amor. lib. i, el. viii, 104. 
Inipia sub ilulci melle venena latent. 

i& Assaulcs. The Hail. MS. reath anccHlis, and the Lantls. MS. de- 
faults. 'I'hc reading hoie adopted I'roni 'I'jrwhitt is authorized by the 
French original, which has assaux. 


geaunces the periles and the yvelus that mighten folwe 
of vengeaunces takynge, a man wolde never take ven- 
geaunce, and that were harm : for by vengeaunce takynge 
be wikked men destruyed and dissevered fro the goode 
men. And thay that have wille to mkkednes, res- 
treignen here wikked purpos, whan thay seen the pun- 
ysshyng and the chastisyng of trespasours. 

" And yit® say I more, that right so as a sengle per- 
sone synneth in taking of vengeaunce, right so the 
jugge synneth if he doo no vengeaunce of him that it 
hath deserved. For Senec saith thus : That maister, 
he saith, is good that reproveth schrewes.*" And as 
Cassoder saith : A man dredeth to doon outrage, 
whan he woot and knoweth that it displeseth to the 
jugges and the soveraynes. And another saith: The 
jugge that dredeth to demen right, maketh schrewes. 
And seint Poul thappostoil saith in his epistil, whan 
he writeth to the Romayns : The jugges here not the 
spere withoute cause, but they beren it to punysshe 
the schrewes and mysdoers, and for to defende with the 
goode men. If ye wol Uike vengeaunce on youre ene- 
mycs, ye schul retoume or have recours to the jugges, 

39 And yit. The commencement of this paragraph, which is very ne- 
cessary for the sense, is not found in Chaucer's translation in any of the 
MSS. In tlie French original it stands thus : — " Et a ce respont dame 
Prudence, ' Certes," dist-elle, ' je t'octroye que de vengence vient molt de 
maulx et de biens, mais vengence n'apparticnt pas a un chascun, fors 
sculement aux juges, et a ccux qui ont la juridiction siirles malfaitteurs. 
Et dit plus que,' " &c. 

*" For Sencc . .schrewes. I give this reading, adopted by Tyrwhitt, 
instead of that of Iho Harl. MS., lie Ihal maister is, he saith ijood to re- 
prove schrewes, which nciliicr ullefs any apiiarenl sense, nor represents the 
French original, " Car Sencsquu dit, C'clliii unit mix bous qui espargne 
les niauvais." 


that have jurediccioun upon hem, and he echal pun- 
issche hem, as the lawe axeth and requireth." "A!" 
quod Melibeus, " this vengeaunce liketh me no thmg. 
I hythenke me now, and take heed, how fortune hath 
norissched me fro my childhode, and hath holpe me to 
passen many a strayt passage ; now wol I aske her 
that sche schal, ^vith Goddes help, helpe me my schame 
for to venge." 

" Certes," quod Prudence, "if ye wil wirche by my 
counseil, ye schul not assaye fortune by no maner way, 
ne schul not lene ne bowe unto hire, after the word of 
Senec ; for thinges that beth folly, and that beth in 
hope of fortune, schul never come to good ende. And 
as the same Senek saith : The more cleer and the 
more schynynge that fortune is, the more brutil, and 
the sonner breketh sche. So trusteth nought in hire, 
for sche is nought stedefast ne stable : for whan thou 
wenest or trowest to be most seur of hir help, sche wol 
fayle and deceyve the. And wher as ye say, that for- 
tune hath norisshed yow fro youre childhode, I say that 
in so mochel ye schul the lasse truste in hire and in 
hire ^\itte. For Senek saith : What man that is no- 
rissched by fortime, sche maketh him to gret a fool. 
Now siththe ye desire and axe vengeaunce, and the 
vengeaunce that is doon after the lawe and byfonie the 
jugge ne liketh yow nought, and the vengeaunce that is 
doon'" in hope of fortune, is perilous and uncerteyn, 

*^ After the lawe. ..that is doon. These words are omitted in the Harl. 
MS. by an evident error of the scribe, who siiipjied from the first doon 
to the second. They have their representative in the original French, 
and are here given from the Lands. MS. 


thanne haveth ye noon other remedyc, but for to have 
recours unto the soveraigne jugge, that vengith alle 
vilonies and wrongcs ; and he schal venge yow, after 
that himself witnesseth, where as he saith : Leveth 
the vengeaunce to me, and I schal yelde it." Meli- 
beus answerd : " If I ne venge me nought of the vilo- 
nye that men have doon unto me, I schal sonnere wanie 
hem that han doon to me that vilonye, and alle othere, 
to doo me another vilonye. For it is writen : If 
thou tak no vengeaunce of an old vilonye, thou somnest 
thin adversarie do the a newe vilonye. And also, for 
my suffraunce, men wolde do me so moche vilonye, 
that I mighte neither here it ne susteyne it ; and so 
schulde I be put over lowe. For men say, in moche suf- 
ferjTige schal many thinges falle unto the, whiche thou 
schalt nought nowe suffre." " Certes," quod Prudence, 
" I graunte yow wel, that over mocliil suffraunce is 
nought good, but yit folwith it nought therof, that every 
persone to whom men doon vilonye, take of it ven- 
geaunce. For it appertieneth and longeth al oonly to the 
jugges, for thay schul venge the vilonyes and injuries : 
and therfore the auctoritees that ye have sayd above 
been oonly understonden in the jugges: for wlian thay 
suffre to mochil the wronges and the vilonyes that ben 
doon withoute punysshyng, thay somne not a man 
oonly to doo newe wronges, but thay comaunde it. 
Also the wise man saith : The jugge that correcteth not 
the synnerc, comaundith him and byddith him doon 
another synne. And the jugges and sovereigncs 
mightcu in here lond so mochil suffren of the schrcwes 


and raj'sdoeres, that thay schulde by such suffraunce, 
by proces of tynie, wexen of such power and might, 
that thay schulde put out the jugges and the sove- 
reignes from here places, and atte lasto do hem lese 
here lordschipes. But lete us now putte, that ye han 
leva to venge yow : I say ye ben nought of might ne 
power as now to venge you : for if ye wolde make com- 
parisoun as to the might of youre adversaries, ye 
schulde fynde in many tliinges, that I have i-schewed 
yow er this, that here condicioun is bettre than youi'es, 
and therfore say I, that it is good as now, that ye suffre 
and be pacient. 

" Forthermore ye knowe that after the comune sawe, 
it is a woodnesse, a man to stryve mth a strengcr or a 
more mighty man than him selven is ; and for to stryve 
with a man of evene strengthe, that is to say, with as 
strong a man as he is, it is peril ; and for to stryve with 
a weykere, it is folye ; and therfore schulde a man fle 
stryvynge as moche as he mighte. For Salamon seith : 
It is a gret worschipe, a man to kepc him fro noyse and 
stryi. And if it so bifalle or happe that a man of gret- 
ter might and strengthe than thou art, do the gre- 
vaunce, stude and busye the rather to stille the same 
grevaunce, than for to venge the. For Senec saith, he 
putteth him in a gret peril that stryveth with a gretter 
man than he him selven is. And Catoun^- saith : If a 
man of heilier estat or degre, or moi'e mighty then thou, 

•1- Caloun. Lib. iv. (list. 40 : — 

" Cede locum laisiis, Ibrtuna; code potentis ; 
Laiderc qui potuit, piodcsse aliquaudo valcbit." 


do the anoye or grevaunce, suffre him ; for he that hath 
oones don the a grievaunce, may another tyme reheve 
the and helpe the. 

*' Yit sette I a caas, ye have both might and Hcencc 
for to venge yow, I say ther ben ful many thinges that 
schulde restreigne yow of vengeaunce takynge, and 
make yow to enchne to suffre, and to have pacience of 
the wronges that han ben doon to yow. First and for- 
ward, ye wol considre the defautes that been in youre 
owne persone, for whiche defautes God hath suffred yow 
to have this tribulacioun, as I have sayd yow herbyfore. 
For the poete saith. We oughten paciently to suffre the 
tribulacioun that cometh to us, whan that we thenken 
and consideren, that we han deserved to have hem. 
And seint Gregorie saith, that whan a man considereth 
wel the nombre of his defautes, and of his syinies, the 
pcynes and the tribuLacioims that he suffereth semen 
the lasse unto him. And in as moche as him thenldth 
his synnes the more hevy and grevous, in so moche his 
peyne is the lighter and the more esier unto him. 
Also yc oughten to encline and bowe youre herte, to 
take the pacience of oure Lord Jhesu Christ, as saith 
seint Peter in his Epistles. Jhesu Crist, he seith, 
hath suffred for us, and given ensample unto every man 
to f(jl\vc and sewc him, for ho dedc never synne, ne 
never cam vileyns worde out of his mouth. Whan men 
cursed him, he cursed hem not ; and wlian men bectc 
him, he manased hem not. Also the grete pacience 
which that scintcs that been in Paradys han had in tri- 
bulaciouns that thay have lw.d and suffred withouto 


desert or gult, oughte moche stire yow to pacience. 
Forthermore, ye schuld enforce yow to have" pacience, 
consideringe that the tribulaciouns of this world but 
litel while enduren, and soon passed ben and goon, and 
the joye that a man secheth to have by pacience in tri- 
bulaciouns is perdurable ; after that the apostil seith in 
his Epistil : the joye of God, he saith, is perdurable, 
that is to say, evermore lastynge. Also troweth and be- 
lieveth stedefastly, that he is not wel norisched and 
taught, that can nought have pacience, or wil nought re- 
ceyve pacience. For Salamon saith, that the doctrine 
and the witte of a man is i-knowe by pacience. And in 
another place he seith : He that hath pacience goveru- 
eth him by gret prudence. And the same Salamon seith, 
that the wrathful and the angry man maketh noyses, 
and the pacient man attempereth and stilleth him. He 
seith also : It is more worth to be pacient than for to 
be right strong. And he that may have his lordschipe 
of his oughne herte, is more worth and more to preise 
than he that by his force and by his strengthe taketh 
grete citees. And therfore saith seint Jame in his 
Epistil, that pacience is a gret vertu of perfeccioun." 

" Certes," quod Melibeus, " I graunte yow, dame 
Prudence, that pacience is a grete vertue of perfec- 
cioun ; '^ but every man may not have the perfeccioun 
that ye sekyn, ne I am not of the uombre of right 
parfyte men : for myn herte may never be in pees, 

^ Certes ..perfeccioun. Those words have been omitted by the scribe 
of tlie Harl. MS., whose eye ran on from the viovA perfeccioun which closes 
the preceding paragrapli to tlie words hul every man, etc. They are here 
restored from the Lansd. MS. 


unto the tymc it be vengetl. And al be it so, that it 
was a gret peril to myne enemyes to don me a vilonye 
in takinge vengeaiuice upon me, yit tooken thay noon 
heede of the p^il, but fulfilden here wikked desir and 
her corrage : and therfore me thenkith men oughten 
nought reprove me, though I putte me in a litel peril 
for to venge me, and though I do a gret excesse, that is 
to say, that I venge oon outrage by another." 

"A !" quod dame Pinidence, " ye say youre •wille and 
as yow lildth ; but in noon caas in the world a man ne 
schulde nought doon outrage ne excesse for to venge 
him. For Cassidore saith, as evel doth he that avengith 
him by outrage, as he that doth the outrage. And ther- 
fore ye schul venge yow after the ordre of right, that is 
to sayn, by the lawe, and nought by excesse, ne by out- 
rage. And also if ye wil venge yow of the outrage of 
youre adversaries, in other manor than right comaund- 
eth, ye synnen. And therfore saith Senec, that a man 
schal never venge schrewednes by schrewednes. And if 
ye say that right axeth a man to defende violence by 
vyolence, and fightyng by fightynge : certes, ye say 
soth, wlian the defence is doon anoon withouten inter- 
vallo, or withouten tar}'inge or dilay, for to defenden 
him, and nought for to venge him. And it bihoveth a 
man putte such attemperance in his defence, that men 
have no cause ne matiere to reprevcn him, that de- 
fendith him, of excesse and outrage. Parde ! ye knowe 
wel, that ye make no defence as now for to defende yow, 
but for to venge yow : and so semcth it, that yo have no 
wille to do youi'O wille attcmpcrelly : and therfore nic 


thenkith that pacience is good. For Salamon saitli, 
that he that is not pacient, schal have gret harm." 
" Certes," quod Melibeus, " I graunte you wel, that 
whan a man is impacient and wroth of that that toucheth 
him nought, and that apperteineth nought to him, though 
it harme him it is no wonder. "" For the lawe saith, 
that lie is coupahle that entremettith him or melHth 
him with such thing, as aperteyneth not unto him. Dan 
Salamon saith, He that entremetteth him of the noyse 
or stryf of another man, is lik him that takith the 
straunge hound"*^ by the eeres : for right as he that 
takith a straunge hound by the eeres is other while 
biten with the hound, right in the same vdse, it is 
resoun that he have harm, that by his impacience mel- 
leth him of the noise of another man, where it aper- 
teyneth not to him. But ye schul knowe wel, that this 
dede, that is to sayn, myn disease and my grief, toucheth 
me right neigh. And therfore, though I be wroth, it is 
no mervayle : and (savynge your grace) I can not see 
that it mighte gretly harme me, though I toke veu- 
geaunce, for I am richer and more mighty than myne 
enemyes been : and wel knowe ye, that by money and 
by havynge of grete possessiouns, ben alle the thinges 
of this world governede. And Salamon saith, that alle 
thinges obeyen to moneye." 

44 of that. wonder. This passap^e is omitted in the Harl. MS., but it 
is restored from the Lansd. MS., supported by the French original. 

*^ the slrautuje lunuid. The word straunge is omitted in the Harl. and 
Lansd. MSS., the latter of which is somewhat confused hero. It is how- 
ever evidently necessary ; the French lias, " le diieii ijiii ne coiigiioisf.' 
In the next line the Harl. MS. reads, Ihc strong hound. 


Whan Prudence had herd hire houshoud avaunte him 
of his richesse and of his raoneye,'"' dispraisynge the 
power of his adversaries, tho sche spak and saydo in this 
wyse : " Certes, deere sii'e, I graunte yow that ye hen 
riche and mighty, and that richesse is good to hem 
that wel have geten it, and that wel conne use it. For 
right as the body of a man may not be withoute the 
soule, no more may a man lyve withoute temperel 
goodes, and by richesse may a man gete him greet 
frendschipe. And therfore saith Pamphilles :*'^ If a 
neethurdes doughter, he saith, be riche, sche may cheese 
of a thousand men, which sche wol take to hir hous- 
bonde : for of a thousand men oon wil not forsake hir ne 
refuse hire. And this Pamphilles seith also : If thou 
be right happy, that is to sayn, if thou be right riche, 
thanne schalt thou fynde a gret nombre of felawes and 
frendes; and if thy fortune chaunge, that thou waxe 
pore, fare wel frendschipe, for thou schalt ben aloone 
withouten eny companye, but if it be the compaignye of 
pore folk. And yit saith this Pamphillus moreover, 
that they that ben thral and bonde of linage, schullen 
ben maad worthy and noble by richesse. And right so 
as by richesse ther come many goodes, right so by povert 

46 TVhan Prudence, ..his monrye. This is also omitted in the Harl. MS., 
by an oversight of the scribe, who passed on from the word moneye at the 
end of the preceding paragraph. 

'•^ ramiih'ilkx Tliis poein has already been m(^nlioned in the not<i on 
line 11123. Tyrwhitt has given from a Bodleian MS. the Hues here 
alluded to, — 

niiiiiniodo sit dives ciijiisdaio nata bubulci, 
Eligit niillc qiiendiljet ilia virinii, etc. 


comen ther many harmes and y\'els : for grete poverte 
constreigneth a man to doon many yvels.''^ And therfore 
clepeth Cassidore po vert the moder oP ruyne, that is to 
sayn, the moder of overthro^\7ng or fallynge doun. And 
therfore saith Pieres Alphons : Oon of the grettest ad- 
versites of this world, is whan a free man by kyn or 
burthe is constreigued by povert to eten the almes of 
his enemyes. And the same seith Innocent in oon of 
his bookes, that sorweful and unhappy is the condiciomi 
of a povere begger, for if he axe nought his mete, he 
deyeth for hungir, and if he axe, he deyeth for schame : 
and algates the necessite constreigneth hym to axe. And 
therfore saitli Salamon, that bettre is it to dey, than to 
have such povert. And as the same Salamon saith : 
Bettir is to deye on bitter deth, than for to lyve in such 
a wyse. 

" By these resouns that I have sayd unto yow, and 
by many another resoun that I know and couthe say, I 
graunte yow that richesses ben goode to hem that gote 
hem wel, and to hem that hem wel usen : and therfore 
wol I schewe yow how ye schulde here yow in getyng 
of riches, and in what maner ye schulde use hem. First, 
ye schulde gcte hem withoute gret desir, by good leysir, 
sokyngly, and nought over hastily ; for a man that is to 
desirynge for to gete riches, abandoneth him first to 

*^ and ijveh...mamj yvels. The passage, omitted in the Harl. MS., is 
restored t'roin the Lansd. MS. 

^9 the moder of. These three words are omitted in the Harl. MS., hy 
an oversight of the scribe. The origiual is, mere des crUmes, mother of 


thefte and to alle othere yveles. And therfore saith 
Salamon ; He that hastith liim to bisyly to waxe riche, 
schal ben noon innocent. He saith also, that the riches 
that hastily cometh to a man, soone and lightly gotli 
and passeth fro a man, but that richesse that cometh 
alway litel and litel, waxeth alway and multiplieth. And, 
sire, ye schal gete richesse by youre witte and by youre 
travayle, unto youre profyt, and that withoute wrong or 
harm dopige to eny other persone. For the lawe saith, 
that no man maketh him self riche, that doth harm to 
another wight ; this is to say, that nature defendeth and 
forbedith by right, that no man make him self riche 
unto the harm of another persone. Tullius saith, that 
no sorwe ne drede of deth, ne no tiring that may falle to 
a man, is so moche ageinst nature, as a man to encresce 
liis oughne profyt to the harm of another man. And 
though the grete men and the riche men gete richesse 
more lightly than thou, yit schalt thou not be ydil ne 
slowe to thy profyt, for thou schalt in alle wise flee 
ydilnes. For Salamon saith, that ydelnesse techith a 
man to do many p-eles. And the same Salamon saith, 
that he that travaileth and besieth him to tilye the lond, 
schal ete breed : but he that is ydil, and casteth him to 
no busynesse ne occupacioun, schal falle into povert, and 
deye for hunger. And he that is ydel and slough, cair 
never fynde him tyme, for to do his profyt. For ther is 
a versifiour saith, the ydel man excuseth him in wynter, 
bycause of the grete colde, and in somer by enchesoun of 
the grete bete. For these causes, saith Catoun, waketh,'*^ 

^' waketh. " I can find nothing nearer to this in Cato, than the 

B B 


and encliaeth yow nought over moche for to slepe, for 
over moche reste norischeth and causeth many vices. 
And therfore saith seint Jerom : Doth some goode 
deedes, that the devel, which that is oure enemy, ne 
fynde yowimoccupied; for the devel ne takith not lightly 
unto his werkes suche as he fyndeth occupied in goode 
werkes. Thanne thus in getynge of riches je moot flee 
ydelnesse. And afterward ye schul use the richesses, 
the whiclie ye han geten hy youre witte and by youre 
travaile, in such a maner, that men holde yow not skarce 
ne to sparynge, ne to fool large, that is to say, over large 
a spender. For right as men blamen an averous man, 
bycause of his skarsete and chyncherie, in the same 
manere is he to blame, that spendeth over largely. And 
therfore saith Catoun : Use, he saith, thi richesses that 
thou hast y-geten in such a manere, that men have no 
matier ne cause to calle the neither wrecche ne chynche ; 
for it is gret schame to a man to have a pover herte and 
a riche purse. He saith also : The goodes that thou hast 
i-getcn, use hem by mesure, that is to say, spende hem 
mesurably; for thay that folilj^ wasten and spenden the 
goodes that thay have, whan thay have no more propre 
of here oughne, thay schape hem to take the goodes of 
another man. I say thanne ye schul flee avarice, usynge 
youre richesse in such manere, that men seyn nought 
that youre richesse''*' be buried, but that ye have hem in 

maxim, Lib. iii, dist. 7, ' Segnitiem fugito.' For the quotations from the 
same author a few lines below, see Lib. iv, dist. 17, and Lib. iii, dist. 23." 
— TyrivhUt. 

'>'* mm scyn nought thai youre richesse. These words, omitted in tlie 
Harl. MS., are restored from the Lansd. MS. 


youre might and in youre weldynge. For the ^vise man 
reproveth tlie averous man, and saith thus in tiio versus : 
Wherto and why burieth a man his goodes by his gret 
avai-ice, and knowith wel, that needes most he deye, for 
deth is the ende of every man, as in this present lif ? and 
for what cause or enchesoun joyneth he him, or knetteth 
him so fast unto liis goodes, that alle his ^^^ttes mowe 
nought dissever him, or departe him fro his goodes, and 
knowith wel, or oughte knowe wel, that whan he is deed, 
he schal no thing here with him out of this world ? And 
therfore seith seint Austyn, that the averous man is 
likned unto helle, that the more that it swolwith, the 
more it desireth to swolwe and devoure. And as wel 
as ye wolde eschewe to be cleped an averous man or 
chinche, as wel schulde ye kepe yow and governe yow, 
in such a wise, that men clepe yow nought fool large. 
Therfore saith Tullius : The goodes, he saith, of thin 
hous schulde nought ben hidde ne kepte so clos, but 
that thay might ben opened by pite and by bonairete f^ 
that is to sayn, to give hem part that han gret neede ; 
ne thy goodes schul not be so open, to be every mannes 

" Aftirward, in getynge of youre richesses, and in 
usynge hem, ye schul alway have thre thinges in youre 
herte, that is to say, oure lord God, conscience, and good 
name. First, ye schul have God in youre herte, and 
for no riches ye schul in no manere doo no thing 

51 bonairete. This semis to be altogether an English form of the word, 
and oCLurs elsewhere m English writers. The French had only dehnnnaire. 
Tyrwhitthcre remh dchonairelee, kind the French original has, "qiiopitic 
et debonnairete ne les puissent ouvrir. " 

1! u2 


wliich might displese God that is your creatouv and 
youre maker. For after the word of Salamon, it is Letter 
to have litil good mth love of God, than to have mochil 
good and tresor, and lese the love of his lord God. And 
the prophete saith: Better is to ben a good man, and 
have litel good and tresore, than to ben holden a schrewe, 
and have gret riches. And yit say I forthermore, that 
ye schuln alway doon youre businesse to gete yow riches, 
so that ye gete hem with good conscience. And the 
apostil seith, ther nys thing in this world of which we 
schuln have so gret joye, as whan oure conscience bereth 
us good witnes. And the wise man saith : The substaunce 
of a man is ful good, whan synne is not in his conscience. 
Afterward, in getynge of youre richesses, and in usynge 
of hem, you most have gret busynesse and gret diligence, 
that youre good name be alway kept and conserved. For 
Salamon saith : Better it is, and more aveylith a man, 
for to have a good name, than for to have gret riches. 
And therfore he saith in another place : Do gret dili- 
gence, saith Salamon, in kepynge of thy frend, and of 
thy good name, for it schal lenger abyde ^\ith the, than 
eny tresor, be it never so precious. And certes, he 
schulde nought be cleped a gentil man, that after God 
and good conscience, alle thinges left, ne doth his dili- 
gence and busynesse, to kepe his good name. And 
Cassidore saith, that it is signe of a good man and a 
gentil, or of a gentil herte, whan a man loveth or de- 
sireth to have a good name. And therfore saith seint 
Augufttyn, that ther ben tuo thinges that ben necessarie 
and needful ; and that is good conscience and good loos ; 


that is to sayn, good conscience in thin oughne persone 
in-ward, and good loos of thin neghebor out-ward. And 
he that trusteth him so moche in his good conscience, 
that he despiseth and settith at nought his good name 
or loos, and rekketh nought though he kepe not his good 
name, nys but a cruel churl. 

"Sire, now have I schewed yow how ye schulde doon 
in getyng of good and riches, and how ye schulde use 
hem : I see wel that for the trust that ye have in youre 
riches, ye wolde meve werre and bataile. I counseile 
yow that ye bygynne no werre in trust of youre riches, for 
thay suffisen not werres to mayntene. And tlierfore saith 
a philosophre : That man that desireth and wol algate 
have werre, schal never have sufiiceaunce : for the richere 
that he is, the gretter dispenses most he make, if he wol 
have worscliipe or victorie. And Salamon saith : The 
gretter riches that a man hath, the moo despendours he 
hath. And, deere sire, al be it so that for youre riches 
ye mowe have moche folk, yit byhoveth it not ne it is 
not good to bygynnne werre, ther as ye may in other 
maner have pees unto youre woi'schipe and profyt; for 
the victorie of batailles that ben in this world, lith not 
in gret nombro or multitude of poeple, ne in vertu of 
man, but it lith in the wille and in the bond of oure 
lord God almighty. And Judas IMachabeus, which was 
Goddes knight, whan he schulde fighte agcinst his ad- 
versaries, that hadde a gretter nombre and a gretter 
multitude of folk and strengere than was the poeple of 
this Machabe, yit he recouforted his litel poeple, and 
sayde ryght in this wise : As lightly, quod he, may oure 
lord God almighty give victory to fewe folk, as to many 


folk;^'^ for the victorie of batailles cometh nought by the 
grete nombre of poeple, but it cometh fro oure lord God 
of heven. And, dere sire, for as moche as ther is no 
man certeyu, if it be worthi that God give liim \ictorie 
or nought, after that that Salamon saith, therfore every 
man schukle gretly drede werres to bygynne. And by- 
cause that in batailles falle many mervayles and periles, 
and happeth other while, that as soone is the grete man 
slayn as the litel man ; and, as it is writen in the 
secounde book of Kynges, the deedes of batayles be 
a venturous, and no thing certeyn, for as lightly is oon 
hurt with a spere as another ; and for ther is gret peril 
in werre, theifore schulde a man flee and eschewe wen'o 
in as moche as a man may goodly. For Salamon saith : 
He that loveth peril, schal falle in peril." 

After that dame Prudens hadde spoke in this maner, 
Melibe answerde and sayde : " I se wel, dame, that 
by youre faire wordes and by youre resouus, that ye 
have schewed me, that the werre liketh yow^ no thing : 
but I have not yit herd youre counseil, how I schall doo 
in this neede." " Certes," quod sche, " I comiseile 
yow that ye accorde with youre adversaries, and that ye 
have pees with hem. For seint Jame saith in his 
Epistles, that by concord and pees, the smale ryches 
wexen grete, and by debaat and discord the gret rich- 
esses fallen doun. And ye knowe wel, that oon of the 
moste grettest and soveraign thinges, that' is in this 
world, is unite and pees. And therfore saith oure lord 

*2 as to many folk. These -n-ords arc omitted in the Hail. MS., evi- 
dently by a mere oversight of the scribe. 


Jliesu Crist to his ajiosteles iu this wise : Wei happy 
and blessed be thay that loven and purchaceii pees, for 
thay ben called children of God.'"^^ " A !" quod Melibe, 
" now se I wel, that ye loven not myn honour, ne my 
worschipe. Ye Imowe wel that niyne adversaries han 
bygoune this debate and brige by here outrage, and ye 
see wel that thay require ne praye me not of pees, ne 
thay askyn nought to be recounseild ; wol ye thanne that 
I goo and meke me unto hem, and crie hem mercy? 
For sothe that were not my worschipe : for right as 
men seyn, that over gret pryde engendreth dispisyng, 
so fareth it by to gret humblete or mekenes." Thanne 
bygan dame Prudence to make semblant of wraththe, 
and sayde : " Certes, sire, save youre grace, I love 
youre honom' and youre profyt, as I doo myn owne, 
and ever have doon ; ye ne mowe noon other seyn : 
and yit if I hadde sayd, ye scholde have j)urchaced 
pees and the reconciliacioun, I ne hadde not moche 
mystake in me, ne seyd amys. For the wise man saith : 
The discencioun bigynneth by another man, and the 
reconsilynge bygynneth by thy self. And the prophete 
saith : Flee schame and schrewednesse and doo good 
nesse ; seeke pees and folwe it, as moche as in the is. 
Yet seith he not, that ye schul rather pursewe to youre 
adversaries for pees, than thei schul to yow: for I 
knowe wel that ye be so hard-herted, that ye wil doo 

*' Gml. The Hurl. MS. reads Crhl; but the re;iiliiig adopted in tlio 
le.\t is not only sni)ported hy the I.aiisd. MS. iind (he original l-'reiicli, 
but by the words ol' St. Matthew v. 9: " Beati pacifici, quoniain ^/;« 
Vei vocabuntur." 


no thing for me ; and Salamon saith : He that is over 
hard-hertecl, atte laste he schal myshappe and mystyde." 
Whan Mehbe had seyn dame Pnidence make sem- 
blaunce of wraththe, he sayde in this wise : " Dame, 
I pray yow that ye be not displesed of thinges that I 
say, for ye knoweth wel that I am angry and wroth, and 
that is no wonder ; and thay that ben wroth, wot not 
wel what thay doon, ne what thay say. Therfore the 
prophete saith, that troublit eyen have no clear sight. 
But sayeth and comisaileth me forth as yow liketh, for 
I am redy to doo right as ye wol desire. And if ye 
reprove me of my folye, I am the more holde to love 
yow and to prayse yow. For Salamon saith, that he 
that repreveth him that doth folic, he schal fynde gret- 
ter grace than he that deeeyveth him byswete wordes." 
Thanne sayde dame Prudence : " I make no semblant 
of wraththe ne of anger, but for youre grete profyt. 
For Salamon saith : He is more worth that reproveth 
or chydeth a fool for his folie, schewynge him semblant 
of wraththe, than he that supporteth him and prayseth 
him in his mysdoyng, and laugheth at his folie. And 
this same Salamon saith afterward, that by the sorwe- 
ful visage of a man, that is to sayn, by sory and hevy 
countenaimce of a man, the fool corretteth himself and 
amendeth." Thanne sayde Melibeus : '• I schal not 
conne answere to so many faire resomis as ye putten to 
me and schewen ; sayeth schortly youre ■«ille and youre 
counseil, and I am al redy to fulfille and perfourme it." 
Thanne dame Prudence discovered al hire counsail 
and hire will unto him and savde : " I counseile vow," 


quod sche, " above alle thinges, that ye make pees 
bitweu God aud vow, and beth reconsiled unto him 
and to his grace, for as I have sayd vow herbifom, 
God hath suffred yow have this tribulacioim aud dis- 
ease^ for yom*e synnes ; and if ye do as I say yow, God 
wol sende youre adversaries vmto yow, and make hem 
falle at youre feet, al redy to doo youre wille and youre 
comaundment. For Salamon saith : Whan the condi- 
cioun of man is plesant and likyng to God, he chaimg- 
eth the hertes of the mannes adversaries, and con- 
streigneth hem to biseke him of pees and of grace. 
And I pray yow let me spake with youre adversaries in 
prive place, for thay schul not knowe it by youre wille 
or youre assent ; *^ and thanne, whan I laiowe here wille 
and here entent, I may counseile yow the more seurly." 
" Dame," quod Melibeus, " doth youre wille and 
youre likyng, for I putte me holly in youre disposi- 
cioun and ordinaunce." Thanne dame Prudence, whan 
sche seih the good wille of hir housboud, sche deli- 
bered and took avis by hir self, thenkynge how sche 
miglite bringe this neede unto good conclusioun and to 
a good ende. And whan sche saugh hire tj'me, sche 
sente for these adversaries to come unto hire into a 
prive place, and schewed wysly unto hem the grete 
goodes that comen of pees, and the grete harmes and 

" Trihulucioun and difcase. The Harl. M.S. omits the two first words, 
which are given from the Laiisd. MS. The French original has ceste 
tribulacion only. 

** For Ihay schid not knowe, ..ijoure assent. Sans (aire sciublunt que 
cc viengne de vostre consenteinciit. 


perils that ben in werre ; and sayde to hem, in goodly 
manere, how that hem aughte to have gret repentaunce 
of the injurie and wvong that thay hadde doon to Me- 
libe hire lord, and unto hire and hire doughter. And 
whan thay herden the goodly wordes of dame Prudence, 
they were tlio surprised and ravyssclied, and hadden so 
gret joye of liire, that wonder was to telle. " A, lady !"" 
quod thay, " ye have schewed unto us the blessyng of 
swetnes, after the sa,we of David the prophete ; for the 
recounsilyng, which we be nought worthy to have iu no 
manere, but we oughten require it with gret contricioun 
and humilite, ye of youre grete goodnes have presented 
unto us. Now we se wel, that the science of Salamon 
is ful trewe : he saith, that swete wordes multiplien and 
encrescen frendes, and maken schrewes to ben debon 
aire and meke. Certes," quod thay, " we putten oure 
deede, and al oure matier and cause, al holly iu 
youre good wille, and ben redy to obeye to the speche 
and to the comaimdement of my lord Melibe. And 
therfore, deere and benigne lady, we pray yow and by- 
seke yow, as meekely as we conne and may, that it like 
to yowre grete goodnes to fulfille in deede youre good- 
liche wordes. For we considere and Imowleche wel that 
we have offended and greved my lord Melibe out of 
resoun and out of mesure, so ferforth that we ben 
nought of power to make his amendes ; and therfore we 
oblie us and bynde us and oure frendes, for to doo al 
his wille and liis comaundmentz. But peraventure he 
hath such hevynes and such wraththe to us-ward, by- 
cause of oure offence, that he wol enjoyne us such peyne 


as we mow not bere ne susteyiie ; and therfore, noble 
lady, we biseke to youre wommanly pit6 ■ to take such 
avysemeut in this neede, that we, ne oui'e frendes, ben 
not disherited and destroyed thui'gh oure folye." "Cer- 
tes," quod dame Prudence, "it is an hard thing, and 
right a perilous, that a man put him al outrely in the 
arbitracioun and juggement and the might and power 
of his euemyes. For Salamon saith : Leeveth and giveth 
credence to that that I schal say : 1 say, quod he, gave 
poeple and goveniours of holy chirche,^^ to thy sone, to 
thi wyf, to thy frend, ne to thy brother, ne geve thou 
never might ne maystry of thy body, whil thou lyvest. 
Now, sith he defendith that a man schulde not give to 
his brother, ne to his frend, the might of his body, by 
a stranger resoun he defendeth and forbedith a man to 
give his body to his enemye. But natheles, I comiseile 
yow that ye mystruste nought my lord ; for I wot wel 
and knowe verraily, that he is debonaire and make, 
large, curteys, and no thing desirous ne coveytous of 
good ne richessa : for there is no thing in this world 
that he desireth, save oonly worschipe and honour. 
Forthermore I knowe, and am right seure, that he wol 
no thing doo in this neede withoute counsail of me ; 
and I schal so worche in this cause, that by the grace 
of oure lord God ye schul be recounsilad unto us." 

"^ I say, quod he, geve poeple and governours of hoUj chirche. Tliose 
words are not foiiiul in the Lansd. MS., and arc omitted by Tyrwliitt. 
They arc confused ; but the word heed or car npi)uars to bo omitted al'ter 
geve. Tho French has : " Car Sahnon dit, oiez nioy, distil, tous pcuplcs*, 
tonics gens et gouverneurs de gloire, a ton tilz, " &c. 


Thanne sayde thay, with oou voys : " Worschipful lady, 
we putte us and oure goodes al fully in youre wille and 
disposicioun, and ben redy to come, wliat day that it 
like yowand unto youre noblesse to limite us or assigne 
us, for to make oure ol)ligacioun and bond, as strong as 
it liketh to youre goodnes, that we mo we fulfille the 
wille of yow and of my lord Melibe." Whan dame ■ 
Prudence had herd the answeres of thise men, sche bad 
hem go agayn prjv^ely, and sche retourned to hir lord 
Melibe, and tolde him how sche fond his adversaries 
ful repentant, knowlechinge ful lowely here synnes and 
trespasses, and how thay were redy to suffre alle peyne, 
requiring and praying him of mercy and pite. 

Thanne saide Melibeus, " He is wel worthy to have 
pardoun and forgevenes of his synne, that excusith not 
his synne, but knowlecheth and repentith him, axinge 
indulgence. For Senek saith : Ther is the remissioun 
and forgevenesse, wher as the confessioun is ; for confes- 
sioun is neighebor to innocence. And he saith in 
another place, He that hath schame of his synne, 
knowlechith it. And therfore I assente and conferme 
me to have pees, but it is good that we doo it nought 
withoute assent and the wille of oure frendes." 
Thanne was Prudence right glad and jolyf, and sayde : 
" Certes, sire," quod sche, " ye ben wel and goodly 
avysed : for light as by the counsail and assent and help 
of youre frendes, ye have be stired to venge yow and 
make werre, right so withoute here counseil schul ye 
nought acorde yow ne have pees with youre adversaries. 
For the lawe saith : Ther nys no thing so good by way 


of kinde, as thing to be unbounde by him that it was 
bounde." And thanne dame Prudence, withoute delay 
or taryinge, sente auoon messageres for here kyn and 
for here olde frendes, whiche that were trewe and wyse : 
and tokle hem by ordre, in the presence of Melibe, of 
this matier, as it is above expressed and declared ; and 
praide hem that thay wolde give here avys and comiseil 
what best were to doon in this matiere. And whan 
Melibeus frendes hadde take here avys and delibera- 
cioun of the forsayde matier, and hadden examyned it by 
greet besynes and gret diligence, they gafe him ful coun- 
sail to have pees and reste, and that Melibeus schulde 
with good hert resceyve his adversaries to forgivenes 
and mercy. 

And whan dame Prudence had herd thassent of hir 
lord Melibeus, and counseil of his frendes accorde with 
hire wille and hire entencioun, sche w'as wonderly glad 
in herte, and sayde : " Ther is an olde proverbe that 
saith, the goodnesse that thou maist do this day abyde 
not ne delaye it nought unto to morwe ; and therfore I 
counseile yow ye sonde youre messageres, whiche that ben 
discrete and wise, unto youre adversaries, tellynge hem 
on youre bihalve, that if thay wol trete of pees and 
of accord, that thay schape hem withoute dilay or tary- 
inge to come unto us." Which thing was parformedin 
dede ; and whan these trespasours and rcpentynge folk 
of here folios, that is to sayn, the adversaries of Melibe, 
hadden herd what the messangeres sayden unto hem, 
thay were right glad and jolif, and answerden ful 
mekely and benignely, yeldynge graces and thanldnges 


to here lord Melil)e, and to al his compaignye : and 
schope hem withoute delay to go with the messangeres, 
and obeye hem to the comaundement of here lord 
Melibe. And right anoon thay token here way to the 
court of Melibe, and token with hem some of here trewe 
frendes, to make faith for hem, and for to ben here 
borwes. And whan thay were comen to the presence of 
Melibeus, he seyde hem thise wordes : " It stondith 
thus," quod Melibeus, " and soth it is, that ye causeles, 
and withouten sidle and resoun, have doon gret injuries 
and wronges to me, and to my -wyf Prudence, and to my 
doughter also, for ye have entred into myn hous by vio- 
lence, and have doon such outrage, that alle men knowe 
wel that ye have deserved the deth : and therfore wil I 
Imowe and wite of yow, whether ye wol putte the 
punyschment and the chastisement and the vengeaunce 
of tliis outrage, in the wille of me and of my wif, dame 
Prudence, or ye wil not." Thanne the wisest of hem 
thre answerde for hem alle, and sayde : " Sire," quod 
he, " we knowe wel, that we be unworthy to come to the 
court of so gret a lord and so worthy as ye be, for we han 
so gretly mystake us, and have ofFendid and giltid in 
such a wise ageins youre heighe lordschipe, that trewely 
we have desei'ved the deth. But yit for the greete good- 
nes and debonairete thai al the world witnesseth of 
youre persone, we submitten us to the excellence and 
benignite of youre gracious lordschipe, and ben redy to 
obeye to alle youre comaundementz, bisechynge yow, 
that of youre merciable pite ye wol considre oure grete 
repentamice and lowe submissioun, and graunte us for- 


givenes of oure outrage, trespas, and offence. For wel we 
knowen, that youre liberal grace and mercy streclien 
fortbere into goodnesse, than doth oure outrage, gilt, 
and trespas, into wikkednes ; al be it that cursedly, and 
darapnably we have agilt ageinst youre highe lordschipe." 
Thanne Melibe took hem up fro the ground ful be- 
niguely, and resceyved here obligaciouns, and here 
bondcs, by here othes upon here plegges and boi-wes, 
and assigiaed hem a certeyu day to retounie unto his 
court for to accepte and receyve the sentence and jugge- 
ment that Melibe wolde comaunde to be doon on hem, 
by these causes aforn sayde ; which tiling ordeyned, every 
man retounied home to his hous. And whan that dame 
Prudence saugh hire tyme, sche freyned and axed hire 
lord Melibe, what vengeance he thoughte to take upon 
his adversaries. To which Melibeus answerd and 
saide : " Certes," quod he, " I thenke and purpose me 
fully to desherite hem of al that ever thay have, and for 
to putte hem in exil for evermore." 

" Certes," quod dame Pradence, " this were a cruel 
sentence, and mochil ageinst rcsoun. For ye ben riche 
y-nough, and have noon neede of other mennes good ; 
and ye mighte lightly gete yow a coveitous name, which 
is a vicious thing, and oughte to ben eschewed of every 
man : for after the sawe of thapostil, covetise is roote 
of alle harmes. And therfore it were bettre for yow to 
lose so moche good of youre oughne, than for to take of 
here good in this manere. For bettir it is to lese good 
with worscliipe, than it is to wynnc good witli vilonye 
and schanic. And evci'v man oughte to do liis dili- 


gence and his busyuesse, to gete him a good name. And 
yit schal he nought oonly busie him in kepinge of his 
good name,'^^ but he schukle enforce him alway to do som 
thing, by which he may renovele his good name ; for it 
is writen, that the okle goode loos of a man is soone 
goon and passed, whan it is not newed ne renoveled. 
And as touchinge that ye sa}Ti, that ye wol exile youre 
adversaries, that thinketh me mochil ageinst resomi, 
and out of mesure, considered the power that thay han 
gyve to yow upon here body and on hem self. And it 
is writen, that he is worthy to lese liis privelege, that 
mysuseth the might and tlie power that is geve to him. 
And yit I sette the caas,. ye mighte enjoyne hem that 
peyne by right and lawe (which I trowe ye mow nought 
do), I say, ye mighte nought putte it to execucioun 
peraventure, and thannewere it likly to torne to the 
werre, as it was bifom. And therfore if ye wol that 
men do yow obeissaunce, ye moste deme more curteisly, 
that is to sayn, ye moste give more esyere sentence and 
juggement. For it is writen : He that most curteysly 
comaundeth, to him men most obeyen. And therfore I 
pray yow, that in this necessite and in this neede ye 
caste yow to overcome youre herte. For Senek saith, 
he that overcometh his herte, overcometh tvryes. And 
Tullius saith : Ther is no thing so comendable in a 
gi'et lord, as whan he is debonaire and meeke, and ap- 
pesith him lightly. And I pray yow, that ye wol forbere 

*' And yit schal .... good name. This passage, omitted in the Harl. 
MS., is restored from the Lansd. MS. 


now to do vengeaunce, in such a manere, that youre 
goode name may be kept and consei'ved, and that men 
mowe have cause and matiere to prayse yow of pite and 
of mercy ; and that ye have noon cause to repente yow 
ofthingthatye doon. For Senec saith : He overcometh 
in an evel manere, that repenteth him of his victorie. 
Wherfore I pray yow let mercy be in youre herte, to 
theffect and thentent, that God almighty have mercy 
and j)ite upon yow in his laste juggement. For seiut 
Jame saith in liis Epistil : juggement withoute mercy 
schal be doon to him, that hath no mercy of another 

Whan Melibe had herd the grete sidles and resoims of 
dame Prudens, and hir wys informaciouu and techynge, 
his herte gan enclyne to the wille of his wyf, consideryng 
hir trewe entent, conformed him anoon and consented 
fully to werke after hir reed and counseil, and thankid 
God, of whom pi'ocedeth al goodnes, that him sente a 
wif of so gret discreciouu. And whan the day cam that 
his adversaries schulden appere in his presence, he spak 
to hem ful goodly, and sayde in this wise : "Al be it 
so, that of youre pryde and heigh presumpcioun and 
folye, and of youre negligence and unconnyngc, ye have 
mysbore yow, and trespassed unto me, yit forasmoche as I 
se and biholde youre humilite, thatye ben sory and repent- 
aunt of youre giltes, it constreigneth me to do yow grace 
and mercy. Wherfore I rcceyve yow to my grace, and 
forgove yow outerly alle the offenses, injuries, and 
wrongcs, that ye have don to mo and agayns me and 
myne, to this eirect and to this cndc, tliat God of his 



endeles morcy wole at the tyine of oure deyinge forgive 
us oure giltes, that we have trespased to him in this 
wrecched workl : for doutelcs, and we hen sory and re- 
pentaunt of the synnes and giltes, whiche we have tres- 
passed inne in the sight of oure lord God, he is so free 
and so merciahle, that he wil forgive us oure gultes, and 
bringe us to the blisse that never hath ende." Amen. 




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