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Corresponding Member of the lustitute of France (Academie 
deg Inscriptions ct Belles Lettres). 






Cfte percp ^onetj)* 








J. H. DIXON, Esq. 



J. S. MOORE, Esq. 


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



THOMAS WRIGHT, Esq. MA., l'.ii.A.,Trcasurer Sj- Secretary. 



This worthy lymytour, this noble Frere, 
He made alway a mauer lourynge cheere 
Upon the Sompnour, but for honeste 
No vileyns worde yit to him spak he. ^850 

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 difl&culte. 
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 preching 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 

6858. — Auctorites. " Auctorilas was the usual word for what we call 
a fe.r^ of Scripture. MS. Harl. 106, 10, Expositio auclorilatis, Mo.^n% 
gauduim super uiio peccatore. Ibid 21. E-s.^os\tw auctoritatis, Stetit 
populus de longe," &c. Tyrwhitt. 



With maundcmentz for fornicacioun, 

And is y-bete at every tounes eende." 

Our oste spak, "A! sir, ye schold been heende 

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 ray 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 liis offis I schal him telle i-^^•is." 

Oure host answerd, "Pees, no more of this." ^^80 

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


Whilom there was dwc41yng in my countre 

An erchedeken, a man of gret degre, 

That boldely did execucioun 

In punyschyng of fonxicacioun. 

Of wchecraft, and eek of bauderye. 

Of diflfamacioun, and avoutrie, 

0880— Pecs, no more <•} tliis. Tho Harl. MS. roiids, ami sai/d the 
Sompnour this. 

6882 — leve. This word is omitted in the MS. Harl., hut seems neces- 
sary for the metre, and is adopted from the Lansdown MS. Tyrwhitt has 
owen maister. 

The Freres Tale. — It is prohalile that Cliaiicertook this achiiirahle story 
from an old fahliaii, now h)st, or at least unknown. It has however heen 
preserved in an abridged form in a talc printed in my Selection of Latin 
Sloriex, p. 70, under the title of I)e Advocato et Diabolo, from ihcPromp- 
tuarium Exemplorum,a work compiled in the earlier part of the fifteenth 


Of chirclie-reves, and of testamentes, 

Of contractes, and of lak of sacraments, 

And eek of many another maner cryme, 

Wliich needith not to relierse at this tyme, ^^90 

Of usur, and of symony also ; 

But cartes lecchours did he grettest woo ; 

Thay schulde synge, if thay were hent ; 

And smale tythers thay were fouly schent, 

If eny persouu wold upon hem pleyne, 

Thar might astart 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 liis hook, 

They weren in the archadeknes book ; ^^^^ 

And hadde thurgh his juradiccioim 

Power to have of hem correccioun. 

He had a sompuour rady to liis bond, 

A slyer boy was noon in Engelond ; 

Ful prively he had his espiaile, 

That taughte him whar he might avayle. 

He couthe spare of lecchours ooa or tuo, 

To techen him to foui" and twenty mo. 

For though this Sompnour wood ware as an hare, 

To telle his harlottry I wol not spare ; 69io 

For we ben out of here correccioun, 

Thay have of us no juradiccioun, 

Ne never schul to terme of alia her lyves. 

6897 — smale tythes and for smal offrynge. Tlie sermons of the friars in 
the fourteenth century were most frequently designed to impress the 
absolute duty of paying full tithes and offerings, which were enforced 
by a number of legends and stories. 



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

"Pees! with meschaunce and with mesaventures !" 
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, <59-20 
Had alway hawdes 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 luiew nat alway what he wan. 
Withoute maundement, a lewed man 
He couthe sompne, up peyne of Cnstes curs, 
And thay were glad to fille wel his purs, fi'^^o 

And make him grete festis atte nale. 
And riglit 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, TJici/ htlli 
i-put al out, etc. 

0032 — Judas. According to the medieval legends, Judas was Clirisf s 
purse-bearer, and embezzled a part of the money which was given to 
him for his master. We are informed in the metrical life of .Tiida.s, in 
MS. Harl. 2277 (fol. 228, vo..) that— 

Sitbthe oure Loverd him makede apostle to fondi his mod, 

And silhlhe pursbercr of his )ians to syvnv al his pod ; 

For meni men (lyve oure Loverd god tliat were of gode tboght. 

To susteyni his apostles, other uadde be noght. 

Ac tho Judas withitme was and his miphte founde, 

Of oure Loverdes god that be wiste be stal al to grounde ; 

Wbeu be uiigbte of ecbe tbing, tlic teulbing he wolde stele: 

A schrewe be was al bis lyf, y ne niai no leiig hele. 

Wel wist« oure Loverd tbus and al bis litber dede, 

Ac natbeles be mostc fulfulle that the propbetcs 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 liis eere. ^^^o 

Thus was the wenche and he of oon 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 : 69^0 

For in this world nys dogge for the bowe. 
That can an hurt deer from an hoi y-knowe. 
Bet than this sompnour knew a leccheour, 
Or avoutier, or ellis a paramour : 
And for that was the fruyt of al liis 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, 
Feynyng 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 omitted iu the Harl. aud Lausd. MSS. 


A bow he bar, and arwes bright and kene, 

He had upon a courtepy of grene, 

An liat upon his heed, with frenges blake. 
" Sir," quod this sompnour, " heyl and wel overtake !" 
" Welcome," quod he, " and every good felawe ; 

Whider ridestow under this grene schawe?" 

Sayde this yiman, " Wiltow fer to day?" 

Tliis sompnour answerd, and sayde, " Nay. ^^^^ 

Her faste by," quod he, " is myn entent 

To ryden, for to reysen up a rent, 

That longith to my lordes duete." 
" Allow 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 acqueintaiice I wol pi-aye 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 thin, right as thou wolt desire." 
" Ormmt mercy," quod this sompnour, " by my faith!" 

Everich in otheres bond his trouthe laith, 

For to be swome bretheren til thay deyen. 

In daliaunce forth thay ride and pleycn. 

6971 — Vc. Iliis word is omitted in the Harl. MS., probably by an 

(i!l87 — etrornc hrethcrcn. The cusloni of swearing Iratoriiity has been 
alreudv alluded to in a note on line 1134. 


This sompnour, whicli that was as ful as jangles, 
As ful of veuym ben these weiyangles, 6990 

And ever enquering upon every thing, 
" Rrother," quod he, " wher now is your dwellyng, 
Another day if that I schuld yow seeche ? " 
This yiman him answered in softe speche ; 
" Brother," quod he, " fer in the north centre, 
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 mpi office how that I may wynne. 

And spare not for conscieus 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 ; 70io 

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." 

6995 — north contrc. According to medieval legends, hell lay to the 
north, (see my Patrick's Purgatory) so that there is irony in this reply. 

7009 — hard. The Harl. MS. reads streyt, probahly a mere error, 
arising from the occurrence of the same word in the preceding line 


" Now certes," quod this sompuour, " 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. '^o^*^ 

Nere myn extorcions, 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 sompuour. In this mene while 
This yeman gan a litel for to smyle. 
" Brothir," quod he, " woltow that I the telle ? 
I am a feend, my dwellyng is in helle, 'o^o 

And her I ryde about my purchasyng. 
To wite wher men wol give me eny thing. 
My pm'chas is theffect of al my rent 
Loke how thou ridest for the same entent 
To \\ynne good, thou rekkist never how. 
Right so fare I, for ryde I wolde now 
Unto the worldes ende for a pray." 

" A!" quod the sompnour, " benedicite, what ye say? 
I wende ye were a yeman trewely. 
Ye han a manues schap as wel as I. 7010 

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 ii prendre, 
s'il nVstoit imp rhaud, trop I'roid, on trop pisant. 

7011 — -figure than determinate. In this and the following lines, Chaucer 
niters into the ordinary philosophical speculatiODS of his time on the 
nature of spirits. 


In helle, ther ye ben in your estate ?" 
" Nay, certeynly," quod be, "tber 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 deceyve the, 

And, parfay, yit can I more craft than he.'.' '050 

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

In sondry wyse, and nought alway in oon?"' 
"For," quod he, "we wol us in such forme make, 

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

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

The day is schort, and it is passed prime. 

And yit ne W£in I nothing in this day ; 

I wol entent to wynnyng, if I may, '060 

And not entende oure thinges to declare : 

For, brother myn, thy wit is al to bare 

To understond although I told hem the. 

For but thou axid whi laboui'e we ; 

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

7045 — yow seme, i.e. raake it seem to you. Tyrwhitt reads u;ene, but 
the reading oi the present text is supported by the best MSS. 

7049 — lousy jogelour. The jogelour (Joculator) was originally the 
minstrel, and at an earlier period was an important member of society. 
He always combined mimicry and mountebank performances with poetry 
and music. In Chaucer's time he had so far degenerated £is to have 
become a mere mountebank, and, as it appears, to have merited the ener- 
getic ephithet here applied to him. 


For som tyme we ben Goddis instrumentes, 

And menes to don his comaimdementes, 

Whaai that him list, upon his creatures, 

In divei-s act and in divers figm-es. 

Withouten him we have no might certeyn, 

If that him liste stonde ther agayn. ''070 

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 tyme 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 -svithstondith oure temptaciouu, 'O^o 

Al be it so it was nought oure entent 

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

And som tyme we ben servaunt unto man, 

As to therchebisschop seynt Duustan, 

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 t}Tne we feyne, and som tyme we ryse 
With dede bodies, in ful wonder wyse, '090 

7085 — Sfijnt Dunstan. Tliis probably allades to some popular story 
of Dunstan now lost. 

7090 — dede bodies. The adoption of the bodies of tlip deceased by evil 
spirits in their wanderings upon the earth, was an iiiiportunt part of tlie 
medieval superstitions of this country, and enters largely into a variety 
of legendarj- stories lound in the old chroniclers. 


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 with 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, 'HO 

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 grauute," quod the devel, " by my fay!" 
And with that word thay riden forth her way ; 
And right at thentryng of a townes ende, 
To which this sompnour schope him for to wende, '130 


Thay seigh 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 de\'yl have al, bothe cart, and hors, and hay!" 

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

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

Ful prively, and rouned in his eere : 
" Herke, my brother, herke, by tlii 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, tinistith wel, 

Ask it thiself, if thou not trowist me, 

Or ellis stint a while and thou schalt se." ''l-*^ 

Tliis carter thakketh his hors upon the croupe. 

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? 

71 no — sc play. The Lansd. MS. reads, have a pleie. Tyrwhitt's 
readiug is, have a pray. 


Her may ye seen, myn owne deere brother, 

The carter spak oon thing, and thought another. 7150 

Let us go forth abouten our viage ; 

Hier -wynne I nothing upon cariage." 

Whan that thay comen som-n-hat out of toune. 

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

That had almost as lief to leese hir necke, 

As for to give a peny of hir good. 

I -wol han 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. 7160 

But for thou canst not, as in this contre, 

Wynne thy cost, tak her ensample of me." 

This sompnoui" 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, '' henedicite! 

God save yow, sir ! what is your swete wille ?" 
"I have," quod he, " a somonaimce 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 kinges, 

So msly helpe me, as I ne may. 

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

I may not goon so fer," quod sche, " ne ryde. 

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

7158 — wol han twelf. By a curious error of the scribe, these three 
words are contracted into wolf in the Harl. MS. 


May I nat aske a lybel, sir sompnour, 

Aud answer thcr 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 uo profyt have therby but lite : 

My mayster 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 Maiy 

So wisly help me out of care and sjmne, 

This w}'de world though that I schulde wynne, 

Ne have I not twelf pens witliinne myn hold. 

Ye knowen wel that I am pore and old ; 7190 

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 I" quod sche, " God wot, I have no gilt." 
"Pay me," quod he, " or by the swet seint Anne! 

As I wol bare 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, ^^ydow 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 liiewe 

7186 — twelf pens. The penny was at tliis time a coin ofmiicl) greater 
relative value than the coin known under tliat name at the present day. 


Give I thy body and the panne also!" 
And whan the devyl herd hir curse so 
Upon hir knees, he sayd in this manere ; 

" Now, Mabely, myn owne modir deere, 
Is tliis yoiu" wil in emest that ye seye?" 

"The devel," quod sche, " fecche him er he deye, 7210 
And parme 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 tliis panne is myn by right. 
Thow schalt ^vith me to helle yit to night, 
Wher thou schalt knowen of oure privete 
More than a maister of divinite." ^^220 

And ^\itll that word the foule fend him hente ; 
Body and soule, he with the deryl 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 leysu* 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 herte might agrise, 
Al be it so, no tonge may devj-se. 
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, 

Waldth, and prayeth Jhesu for his grace, 

So kepe us fro the temptour Sathanas. 

Herknith this word, beth war as in tliis cas. 

The lyoun syt in his awayt alway 

To slen the innocent, if that he may. 7240 

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 heite was so wood. 
That lyk an aspen leef he quok for ire : 
" Lordyngs," quod he, " but oon thing I desire ^250 
I yow biseke, that of your curtesye, 
Syn ye han herd this false Frere lye. 
As suffxith 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 asondcr. 
For, pardy, ye han often tyme herd telle. 
How that a frere ravyscht was to helle 
In spirit ones by a \dsioun, 

And as an aungel lad him up and doun, 7260 

To schewen liim 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 dnun. 
' And now hath Sathanas,' saith he, 'a tayl 

Broder than of a carrik is the sayl.' "2'" 

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

* Schew forth thyn ars, and let the frere se, 
Wheris 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 diTve, 
Twenty thousand freres on a route, 

And thorughout helle swarmed al aboute, 

And comen agen, as fast as thay may goon, 

And in his ers thay crepen everichoon : '280 

He clappid his tayl agayn, and lay ful stille. 

This frere, whan he loked had his fille 

Upon the torment of this sory place, 

His spirit God restored of his grace 

Unto his body agapi, and he awook ; 

But natheles for fere yit he quonk. 

So was the develes ers yit in his m_mde, 

That is his heritage of verray kynde. 

God save yow alle, save this cursed Frere ; 

My prolong wol I ende in this mane re," 729ft 



LoKDTNGs, thcr is in Engelond, I gesse, 
A merssclily lond called Holdemesse, 
lu ^Yhicll ther went a lymytour al)Oute 
To jireche, and eek to begge, it is nodoute. 
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, 
Wherwith men mighten holy houses make, '300 

Ther as divine servys 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 

TIte Sompnoures Tale. I have not mi't with this story elsewhere. It 
is a bitter satire on the covetoiisness of the friars, wlio were eager and 
officious attendants on the death-Vie<ls of those wlio liad anytliing to give 
awa}'. In this respect, it may be compared with the satirical notices in 
Piers Ploughman's Crcede. 

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

7900— houses. The Harl. MS. reads .-^ouks. 

7301 — poxsessioneres — i.e. the regular orders of monks, who possessed 
landed property, and enjoyed rich revenues. 'I'lie friars were forbidden 
by their rule to possess jiroperly, wliich they only did under false pre- 
tences : they depended for support on voluntary oflerings. 

7306 — Trcnlah. A service of thirty masses, for which the 
friars re<]uired a much greater sum tlian for a single mass. 


Delyverith out," quod he, "anoon the soules. 
Ful hard it is, %vith fleischhok or '\\'ith 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 wepit. 
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 male or chese, or ellis com. 
His felaw had a staf typped with honi, 
A payi' of tablis al of yvorv, 
And a p03^ltel 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 kichil, or a trip of chese, 

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

7312 — fleischhok or tvith oules. In the old paintings and illuminations, 
representinft the infernal regions, the fiends are pictured tearing and 
piercing the wicked with hooks and other similar instruments, while tliey 
are roasting in fires and hoiling in pots, or tormented in other similar 

7316 — qui cum patre. The conclusion of the formula of final hene- 
diction. MS. Harl. omits the words his way, which seem necessary for 
the metre. 

7329 — A Goddes kichil. Tyrwhitt explains this phrase by a note of 
M. De la Monnaye on the Contes of Bonavcnture des Periers, t. ii, 
p. 107. Belle serrure de Dt'eu. .expression du petit peuple, qui rapport* 
pieusement tout a Dieu. — Rien n'est plus commun dans la bouche des 
bonnes vieilles, que ces especes d'Hebraismes : II men coute un hel cm 
de Dieu ; II ne me rcste que ce pauvre enfant de Dieu ; Donnez moi unc 
benite aumone de Dieu. So we have two lines below, a Goddes halpeny. 

c 2 


Or cllos what vow list, we may not chesc ; 7r?.30 

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

That he bifom had writen in his tablis : 
He served hem with nyfles and with fablis. 
" Nay, ther thou lixt, thou Sompnour," sayd the Fi'Pr<- . 

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

" So thrive I," quod the Sompnour, "so T s(_-li;il !" 
So long he wente hous by hous, til he 
Cam til an hous, ther he was wont to be 
Refresshid mor than in an hundrid plncis. 
Syk lay the housbond man, whos that llic ]il:ico is, 7350 
Bedx'ed upon a couche lowe he lay : 

" Dens Jiic," quod he, " Thomas, frcnd, good day !" 
Sayde this frere al curteysly and softe. 

" O 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, 

7:iS2 — Deux hie ! <in(l be Iutp ! (lie i^riliiiarv tVinnnlii of Irciii iliition 
on entering a liniisR. 


And layd adoun liis potent and his hat, 
And eek liis scrip, and set him soft adoun : 
His felaw was go walkid in the toun '-*'J'^ 

Forth with his Imave, into the ostehye, 
Wher as he schop him thilke niglit 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, " labord have I ful sore ; 
And specially for thy salvacioun 
Have I sayd many a precious orisoun, 
And for myn other freudes, God hem blesse. 
I have to day ben at your cliirche at messe, ^^'O 

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 saja. 
Tber have I taught hem to be charitable. 
And spend her good ther it is resonable ; 
And ther I seigh our dame, wher is she ?" 
" Yond in the yerd I trowe that sche be," ^380 

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 arise th up ful curt ey sly, 
And her embracith in his armes narwe, 
And kist hir swete, and chirkith as a sparwe 
With his lippes : " Dame," quod he, " riglit wel. 
As he that is your servaunt everydcl. 


Thankyd be God, that yow gaf soule and lif, 

Yit saugh I not this day so fair a wyf 7390 

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 yom- grete goodnes, by youre leve, 
T wolde pray yow that ye vow not greeve, 
I wil with Thomas speke a Htel throwe : 
These curates ben ful negligent and slowe 
To grope tendurly a conscience. 
In schrift and preching is my diligence, '^Ot^ 

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

" Now, by your leve, o deere sir," quod sche, 
" Chyd him right 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 liini wuriii. 
And over him lay my leg other myn arm, 7iio 

He groneth lik our boor, that lith in sty : 
Othir cUsport of him right noon have I, 
I may please him in no mauer caas. ' 

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

" Now, maister," quod the wyf, " er that I go, 
What wil yc dine ? I wil go tlicraboutc." 

TUli SOMrNOUKliS TALK. "i'i 

" Now, dame, "quod he,"jeo vous dy ndun:: donle, '^^^o 
Have I not of a capoun but the lyvere. 
And of your softs brede but a schivere, 
And after that a rostyd pigges heed, 
(But tliat I wold for me no best were deed) 
Thau had I with yow homly suffisaunce. 
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, '■'*-''0 

For I so freudly 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 mthinne 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 sayu, er that half an hour 

After his deth, I seigh him boni to blisse 

In myn avysioun, so God me msse. ''^^'^ 

So did our sexteiu, 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 — jubile. "See Ducange in v. Semjxcta. Peculiar honours 
and immunities were granted by the Rule of St. Benedict to those monks, 
qui quinquaginta annoi in ordine excgerant, quos annum juhileeum exegisse 
vulgo dicimus. It is probable that some similar regulation obtained in 
the other orders." TyrwhiU. The Harl. MS. has vuiny instead of JiJ'ty, 
which reading is given by MS. Lansd., and would seem by the context to 
be the correct one. 


And up I roos, and al oui' covent eeke, 

With many a teere trilling on my cheeko, 

Te Deum was our song, and nothing ellis, 

Withouten noys or clateryng of bellis. 

Save that to Crist I sayd an orisoun, 

Thank}^lg him of my revelaciomi. 'i^'^ 

For, sire and dame, trustith me right wel, 

Our orisouns ben more eiYectuel, 

And more we se of Goddis secre thinges, 

Than borel folk, although that thay ben kinges. 

We lyve in povert, and in abstinence, 

And borel folk in riches and dispence 

Of mete and drink, and in her ful delyt. 

We han al this wo rides lust al in despyt. 

Lazar and Dives lyveden diversely. 

And divers guerdoun liadde thay thereby. ''i60 

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 

Sufficcth 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 : 

7 J54 — hord folk — laymen. The term appears to have arisen from the 
material of their clothing which was not used by the clergy. 

7t58 — lust al. I have adopted this reading from the Lansdowne MS., 
as the reading of the Hail. MS., dcUl, seems to have been an error of the 
scriVie, who iiad in his ears the last word of the preceding line. 

Tlfil — he musl. These words, omitted in the Harl. MS., seem neces- 
sary to the sense. 


With empty wombe fastyng niaiiy a day, ^ i^*' 

lvecey\-ed he the lawe, that was writen 

With Goddis fynger ; and EH, 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 manei- wise '^80 

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 — po mor : for it suffisith. 

Oure Lord Jhesu, as oure lore devysith, 

Gaf us ensampil of fastyng and prayeres : 

Therfore we mendinauutz, we sely freres, 

Ben wedded to povert and to continence, 

To charite, humblesse, and abstinence, 7490 

To persecucioun for rightAvisnesse, 

To wepyng, misericord, and clenuesse. 

And therfor may ye seen that oure prayeres 

(I speke 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, 

7486 — oure lore, Tlie Lansd. MS. reads holi/ God. and TvrwhiU 
gives holy writ. 


Was man out chaced for his glotonye, 

And chast was man in Paradis certeyn. 

But now herk, Thomas, what I schal the seyii, '500 

I ue have no tixt of it, os I suppose, 

But I schal fjTid 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 sj^irit ben. 

And so forth in the gospel ye may seen. 

Whether it be likir oure j)rofessioun, 

Or heris that swymmeu in possessioun. 

Fy on her pomp, and on her glotenye, 

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

Me tliinkith thay ben lik Jovynian, 

Fat as a whal, and walken as a swan ; 

Al Ainolent as hotel in the spence. 

Her prayer is of ful gret reverence ; 

^Vhan thay for soules sayn the Psalm of David, 

Lo, boef thay say, Cor meum eructavit. 

Wlio folwith Cristes gospel and his lore 

But we, that humble ben, and chast, and pore, 

Workers of Goddes word, not auditours ? 

Therfor right as an hauk upon a sours 7520 

Upspringeth into thaer, right so prayeres 

Of charitabil and chaste busy freres 

Maken her soui"s to Goddis eeres tuo. 

751 1 — Jovynian. Probably an allusion to an emperor Jovinian, cele- 
brated in the Gesta Romanorum (c. lix.) and in other medieval legends, 
for his pride and luxury. In the sixteenth centurj-, the story was in 
France worked into a morality, under the title L'onjucil et pnsomptivn 
(U reminreur Jovinicn. 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, 

Aud by that Lord that clepid is seiut Ive, 

Ner thou cure brother, schuldestow never thrive. 

In oure chapitre pray we day and night 

To Crist, that he the sende hele and might 

Thy body for to welden hastily." 

" God wot," quod he, " therof nought feele I, 7580 
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 : 
FaiTvel my gold, for it is almost ago." 
The frere answerd, " Thomas, dostow so ? 
What needith yow dyverse freres seche ? 
What needith liim that hath a parfyt leche, 
To sechen othir leches in the touu? 
Youre inconstance is youre confusioim. 7o40 

Holde ye than me, or elles oure covent, 
To praye for yow insufficient? 
Thomas, that jape is not worth a mjle ; 
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 fertliing 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 have our labour al for nought. 


The hihe God, that al, this world hath wrought, 

Saith, that the werkman is worthy of his liyre. 

Thomas, nought of your tresor I desire 

As for myself, but for that oure coveut 

To pray for yow is ay so diligent : 

And for to buylden Cristes holy chirche. 

Thomas, if ye wil lenie for to %nrche, '^oo 

Of buyldyng up on chirches may ye fyude 

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 

Your wyf, that is so meke and pacient. 

And therfor trow me, Thomas, if thou list, 

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

And ber tliis word away now by thy faith, 

Touchinge such thing, lo, the wise man saith : '5'*' 

Withinne tliin hous be thou no lyoun ; 

To thy subjects do noon ojipressioun ; 

Ne make thyn acqueyntis fro the fie. 

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 styngith prively ; 

Be war, my sone, and werk paciently, 

For twenty thousend men han lost her lyves 

For stryvyng with her lemmans and her wyves. '^*' 

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


Now syns yc han so holy and meeke a wif, 

What iiedith yow, Thomas, to make strif ? 

Ther nys i--«is no serpent so cruel, 

Wlien men trede on his tail, ne lialf 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, oon the grete of sevene, 

Abhominable to the God of hevene, 

And to himself it is destruccioun. 

This every lewed vicor}^ or parsoun ''•^^^ 

Can say, how ire engendrith homicide ; 

Tre is in soth executour of pride. 

I couthe of ii'B seyn so moche sorwe. 

My tale schulde laste til to morwe. 

Ire is the grate of synne, as saith the ^ise, 

To fle therfro ech man schuld him dexyse. 

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 duiyng liis estaat 7600 

Upon a day out riden knightes tuo ; 

7.587 — Schorfy, etc. This and the following line are not in Tyr- 
whitt's text. 

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

7600 — Senek. This story is told of Cornelius Piso, by Seneca, Je Ira, 
lib. 1. c. xvi. It is also found in the Gcsia Ruwuruirnm, wliere it is told 
of an emperor named Eraclius. 


And, as fortune woldc right as it were so, 

That oon of hem cam home, that other nought. 

Anoon the knight bifore the juge is brought. 

That sayde thus : tliou hast thy felaw slayu, 

For which I deme the to deth certayn. 

And to anothir knight comamidid he : 

Go, lede him to the deth, I chai'ge the. 

And happed, as thay wente by the weye 

Toward the place ther he schulde deye, '610 

The knight com, which men wend badde 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 stent hool on lyve. 

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, 7f>20 

To lede him 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 the. 

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 and the following line, because 
they fnnn part of the Hiirl. MS., although they seem to be an unneces- 
sary interruption of the sense. They are not in Tyrwhitt. 

7627 — Cambises. See Seneca, de Ira, lib. iii. c. 14. 


And so bifol, a lord of his meigne, 

That loved vertues, and eek moralite, 

Sayd on a day bitwx liem tuo viglit thus : 

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

An irons man is lik a frentik best, 

In whioh ther is of ^^^sdom 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 mynde, 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. '''^'* 

Ther is no wyn byreveth me my might 

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

And for despyt he dronke moche more 

An hundrid part than he had doon byfore ; 

And right anoon, this irous cursid wrecche 

Let this knightes sone anoon bifoni him fecche, 

Comaundyng hem thay schuld biforn him stonde : 

And sodeinly he took his bowe on honde. 

And up the strong he pulled to his eere, 

And \\itli an arwe he slough the child right there. 7630 

Now whetliir have I a sikur hond or noon ? 

Quod he. Is al my mynde and might agoon ? 

7631 — ^n irous man. These two lines are also peculiar to the Harl. MS. 
7641 — might. The Harl. MS. reads wil. 


Hath wyn byrevyd mn mjai eye sight ? 

What schuld I telle the answer of the knight ? 

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

Be war therfor with lordes how ye play, 

Spigith Placebo, and I schal if I can, 

But if it be unto a pore man ; 

To a pore man men schuld his vices telle, 

But not to a lord, they he schuld go to helle. 760ii 

Lo, irous Cinis, thilke Percien, 

How he destruyed the ryA-er of Gysen, 

For that an hors of his was dreynt therinne, 

Whan that he wente Babiloyne to wynne : 

He made that the lyver 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 chiircli, 
from Psalm cwi. 9, which in the viilgate stands thus : Placebo Domine, 
in rejjione virorum. Hence the 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. Tlie Harl, MS. reads ahvay, which seems to dcsfroy the 


'* Nay," quod this syke man, " by seynt Symouu, 
I have ben schriven this day of my curate ; 
I have him told holly al mjn 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 cloystev," 
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 withinne 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 ; ^090 

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 conne ? 
And this is not of litel tyme," quod he, 
" But siththen Elye was her, or Elisee, 
Han freres ben, fynde I of record. 
In charite, i-thanked be oure Lord. '700 

Now, Thomas, help for seynte Charite." 

7687 — o tyle. The pavements were maile of encaustic tiles, and tliere- 
fore must have been rather costly. 

7698— or Ei.ixee. Ihe Harl. MS. reads, or Ele, an evident cor- 
ruption l\y the scribe. 



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

He wolde that the frere had ben on fuyre 

With his fals dissimulacioun. 
" Such thing as is in my possessioun," 

Quod he, " that may I geve yow 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, imder oure sel." ''710 

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

Unto your holy covent whils that I lyve ; 

And in thyn hond thou schalt it have anoon. 

On this condicioun, and other noon. 

That thou depart it so, my deere brother, 

That eveiy frere have as moche as other : 

This schal tow swere on thy professioun, 

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

And therwith his hond in his he laith ; 7720 

" Lo here mya hond, in me schal be no lak." 
" Now thanne, put tliyn hond doun at my bak," 

Sayde this man, " and grope wel hyhynde, 

Bynethe my buttok, there schaltow fynde 

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

And domi his hond he launcheth to the clifte. 

In hope for to fjiide 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 the convent, and in their expected reward after 


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

Amyd liis 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 his teeth, so was he wroth. 
A stoi'dy paas doun to the court he goth, 
Wher as ther wonyd a man of gret 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 his brethren when he cam home. 
And thus is this tale idon : 
For we were almost att the toun. 
I only mention this to shew what liberties some copyists have taken with 
our author." — Tyrwhitt. 

7744 — the court. The larger country-houses consisted generally of an 
inclosed court, from which 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. 

D 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 Johau ! 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 \ilage. 

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

That he nold have abhominaciouu 

Of that I have receyved in youre toun : 

And yet ne grevith me no thing so sore. 

As that this elde cherl, with lokkes hore. 

Blasphemed hath oui' 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 honoiu'. 

God likith not that Raby men us calle. 

Neither in market, neyther in j^our large halle." 7770 
" No fors," quod he, " tellith me al your greef." 

This frere sayd, " Sire, an odious meschief 

This day bytid is to myn 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 confessour. 

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 hous ay stille sat, 

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

Is ther ought elles? tel me faithfully." 
" Madame," quod he, "how thjnike yow therby?" 
" How that me thyukith?" quod sche; "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. 7790 

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 blasfememoui", 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 m his heit 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 fynde 

Bifom this day of such a questioim. 

Who schulde make a demonstracioun, 

That every man schuld have alyk his part 

As of a soun or savom* of a fart ? 

7802— e/t. Some of the MSS read rri^l. 


nyce proude cherl, I echrew his face ! 

Lo, sires," quod the lord, with harde grace, ^^lo 

" Who ever herde of such a thing er now? 
To every man y-like ? tel me how. 
It is impossible, it may not he. 
Ey, nyce cherl, God let him never the ! 
The romblyng of a fart, and every soun, 
Nis hut 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 himseK on devel way !" 
Now stood the lordes squier at the bord, 
That carf his mete, and herde word by word 
Of al this thing, which that I of have sayd : 
" My lord," quod he, " be ye nought evel payd, 
I couthe telle for a go^ne-clotli 
To yow, sir frere, so that ye be not wroth, 7830 

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

7829. — gownc-cloth. In the middle ages, the most common rewards, 
and even those given by 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 tins custom in the romances and poetry 
of former days, and they sometimes occur in historical writers. Money 
was comparatively very scarce in the middle ages ; and as tlie household 
retainers were lodged and fed, clothing was almost the only article they 


• Tel," quod the lord, " and thou schalt have anoon 
A gouiie-cloth, by God and by seint 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 ? '840 

For threttene is a covent as I gesse : 
Your noble confessour, her God him blesse, 
Schal parfoum up the nombre of this covent. 
Thanne schal thay knele doun 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 whole of this cart 
Upon the nave, and make him lete a fart, 
And ye schul seen, up peril of my lif, 
By verray proef that is demonstratif, 
That equally the somi of it wol wende, 
And eek the stynk, unto the spokes ende ; 

7841 — threttene. The regular number of monks or friars in a convent 
had been fixed at twelve, with their superior; in imitation, it is said, of 
the number of twelve apostles and their divine master. The larger 
religious houses were considered as consisting of a certain number of 
convents. Thus Thorn, speaking of the abbot of St. Augustine's at 
Canterbury, says, Anno Domini m.c.xlvi. iste Hugo reparavit antiquum 
numerum monachorum istius monasterii, et erant Ix. monachi professi 
prajter abbatein, hoc est, quinque conventm in universe. — Decern Scrip- 
tores, col. 1807. 


Save that this worthy mau, your coulessour, 

(Bycause he is a mau of gret honour) 

Schal have the firste fruyt, as resoun is. 

The noble usage of freres is this, "^^^^ 

The worthy men of hem first schal be served. 

And ceileynly 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 matiere '^^"^ 

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 goune ; 
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 w'ord. 7880 

I trowe ye study aboute som sophime : 
But Salomon saith, eveiy 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 yoiu' fay ; 


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

Tel us som meiy thing of aventures. 
Youre termes, your colours, and your figures, 
Keep hem in stoor, til so be 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 under your yerde, 
Ye have of us as now the govemaunce, 
And therfor wol I do yow obeissaunce, '^^^^^ 

Als fer as resoun askith hardily : 
I wil yow telle a tale, wliich that I 
Lemed at Padowe of a worthy clerk, 
As px'oved by his wordes and liis 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 
Enlumynd al Ytail of poetrie, 

As Linian did of philosophie, ''^io 

Or lawiie, 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. Liniun, who was celebrated 
iih a lawj'er and as a philosopher, 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 descri\dth he 

Piemomide, and of Saluces the contre, ''^^o 

And speldth of Appenyne the hulles hye, 

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 Ferai'e, 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 tliis is the tale wliich 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-ward. " One of the regions of Itally was called Emilia, 
from the Via Emilia, which crossed it from Placentia to Rimini. I'la- 
centia stood upon the Po. Pitisc. Lex. Ant. Rom. in v. Via Emilia, 
Petrarch's description of this part of the Po is a httle different. He 
speaks of it as dividing the ^milian and Flaminian regions from Venice 
— JEmiliam atque Flaminiam Venetiamque discriminans. But our 
Author's Emelif is plainly taken from him." — Tyrwhitl. 

The C'krkes 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 translates it closely from I'ctrarch's Latin romance 
J)c obedientia et fidt uxoria Mytholugia. 


Wher many a tour and toun thou maist byholde, 
That foundid were in tynie of fadres olde, 
And many anothir delitable sight, 
And Saluces this noble contray hight. 

A marquys whilom duellid in that lond, 7940 

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

Ther^\ith 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 : '"^o 

Discret y-nough his centre 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 otliir cures let he slyde. 
And eek he nolde (that was the worst of al) 
Wedde no wyf for no tiling that might bifal. 796a 

Only that poynt his poeple bar so sore. 
That flokmel on a day to him tliay went, 
And oou of hem, that wisest was of lore, 
(Or dies that the lord wolde best assent 
That he schuld telle him what his poeple ment, 


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

" noble marquys, youre humanite 
Assm'eth us and giveth us hardynesse, 
As ofte as tyme is of necessite, 7970 

That we to vow 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, '980 

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

" For certes, lord, so wel us likith yow 
And al your werk, and ever han doon, that we 
Ne couthen not ourselve devysen how 
We mighte lyre more in feHcite : 
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 sovereignete, nought of senise, '990 

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

7972 — {lentileste. Tlie Har). MS. reads necessite, a mere repetition of 
the conclusion of 1. 7970. 

7980. The reading of tlie Harl. MS. is And audience to otken 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 floui'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 certepi, as we l^nowe everychon ^ooo 

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

" Acceptith 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 tliis lond, so that it oughte seme 
Honour to God and yow, as we can deme. 

" Deliver us out of al this busy drede, soio 

And tak a ^vyf, for hihe Goddes sake : 
For if it so bifel, as God forbede, 
That thurgh your deth your lignage scliuld aslake, 
And that a straunge successoui* schuld take 
Your heritage, o ! wo were us on lyve : 
Wherfor we pray yow hastily to wyve." 

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


Ther I was fre, I mot ben in servage. 

" But natheles I se youre tre-we entent, 
And tmst upon your witt, and have doon ay : 
"VMierfor of my fre wil I vnl assent 
To -wedde me, as soon as ever I may. 
But ther as ye have profred me to day 
To chese me a wyf, I wol relese 
That choys, and pray yow of that profre cesse. 8030 

" For God it woot, that childer 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 m Goddes boimte, 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, ^^'^o 

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

"And forthermor thus schul ye swer, that ye 
Ageins my chois schuln never grucche ne stryve. 
For sins I schal forgo my hberte 
At your request, as ever mot I thrive, 
Ther as myn hert is set, ther wil I wyve : 
And but ye wil assent in such manere, 805t 

8024 — $e youre trewe. Tlie MS. se 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 horn agein 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, «0'0 

And ech of hem doth his diligence 
To doon unto 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 erthe gaf hem abimdaunce. 


Among this pore folk ther duelt a man, 8080 

Which that was holdeu porest of liem alle : 
But heighe God som tyme sende can 
His grace mito a litel oxe stalle : 
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 heaute, 
Than was sche oon the fayrest under sonne : 
For porely i-fostred up was sche, 
No licorous lust was in hir body roime ; 8090 

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

But though this mayden tender were of age. 
Yet in the brest of hir ^drginite 
Ther was enclosed rype and sad corrage : 
And in gret reverence and charite 
Hir olde pore fader fostred sche : 
A fewe scheep spymiyng on the feld sche kept, 
Sche nold not ben ydel til sche slept. 8100 

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

8086 — mayden. The Harl. MS. reads doughlcr, wliich probably 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 huntyng rood peraventure. '^'•^ 

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

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 bounte, and desposed that he wolde 8120 

Wedde Mr oonly, if ever he wedde scholde. 

The day of weddyng cam, but no wight can 
Telle what womman it schulde be ; 
For which mervayle woudrith 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 himseK and us bigyle ?" 

But natheles this marquys hath doon make 
Of gemmes, set in gold and in asure, *130 

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 omamentes 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 and chambur, 3-lik here degre, 

Houses of office stuffid with plente ^^"^^ 

Ther maystow se of deyntevous Adtayle, 

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 souu of sondry melodye, 
Unto the vilage, of which I tokle, 
In this array the right way han thay holde. 

Grysild of this (God wot) ful innocent, 8150 

That for hir schapen was al tliis array, 
To fecclie water at a welle is went, 
And Cometh hom 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 stondc, 
That ben my felawes, in oure dore, and see 
The marquysesse, and therfore wol I fonde 
To don at hom, as soone as it may be, *^'*'" 

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

And as sche wold over the threisshfold goon, 

SlZQ^ylik here degre. Other MSS. have eche in ftix dctfre, which 
is perhaps the better reading. 

81 13 — riclicli/. The reading of the Harl. MS. is rralh/. 


The marquys cam and gan hir for to calle. 

Antl sche set doiin hir water-pot anoon 

Bisides the threischfold of this oxe stalle, 

And doun upon Mr Itnees sche gan falle, 

And with sad countenaunce knelith stille, 

Til sche had herd what was the lordes wille. ^''O 
This thoughtful marquys spak unto this mayd(! 

Ful soberly, and sayd in this 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 hir fader fet. 

He by the hond than takith this olde man, 

And sayde thus, whan he him had on syde : 
"Janicula, I neither may ne can 81 so 

Lenger the plesauns of myn herte hyde ; 

If that ye vouchesauf, what so bytyde. 

Thy doughter wil 1 take er that I wende 

As for my wyf, unto hir lyves ende. 
" Thow lovest me, I wot it wel certeyn, 

And art my faithful leige-man i-bore, 

And al that likith me, I dar wel sayn, 

It likith the, and specially therfore 

Tel me that poynt, as ye have herd bifore, 

If that thou wolt unto that purpos drawe, 8190 

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 2 


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 list, goveruith this matiere." 

" Yit wol I," quod this markys softely, 
"That in thy chambre, I, and thou, and sche, ^^^^ 
Have a collacioun, and wostow why ? 
For I wol aske if it liir ^ville 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, wliich as ye schul after hiere, 
The poeple cam unto the hous -withoute, 
And wondrid hem, in how honest manere 
And tendurly sche kept hir fader deei*e : ^^i*' 

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 am the wordes that the marquys sayde 
To this benigne, verray, faitliful mayde. 

" Grisyld,"he sayde, "ye schul wel imderstonde, ^220 
It liketh to your fader and to me. 
That I yow wedde, and eek it may so stondc, 
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 vryse, 
Wol ye assent, or elles yow avyse ? 

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

And eek whan I say ye, ye say not nay, 
Neyther by word, ne fro^\Tiyng contenaunce ? 
Swer this, and here swer I oure alliaunce." 

Wondryng upon this word, quakyng for drede. 
Sche 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 here I swere, that never wityngly 
In werk, ne thought, I uyl yow disobeye 
For to the deed, though me were loth to deye." 8240 

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

And for that no thing of hir olde gere 
Sche schulde brynge unto his hous, he bad 
That wommen schuld despoilen hir right there, 8250 
Of which these ladyes were nought ful glad 
To handle hir clothes wherin sche was clad : 
But natheles this mayde bright of hew- 
Fro foot to heed thay schi-edde han al newe. 


Hir heeres ban thay kempt, that lay untressed 
Ful rudely, and with hir fyngres smale 
A coroun on hir heed thay han i-dressed, 
And set hir ful of nowches gret and smale. 
Of liir array what schuld I make a tale ? 
Unnethe the poeple hir luiew for hir faimesse, *^260 
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 longer lette, 
(With joyful poeple, that hir ladde and mette) 
Conveyed hire, and thus the day thay spends 
In revel, til the sonne gan descende. 

And schortly forth tliis 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 bom 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 woi-schipful, that folk ther sche was born, 
And from hir burtho knew hir yer by yere, 
Unneth trowed tliay, but dorst han sworn, 
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 excellence 


Of thewes goode, i-sct in high bounte, 
And so discret, and fair of eloquence, 
So benigne, and so digne of reverence, 
And couthe so the poeples hert embrace. 
That ech hir loveth that lokith in hir face. 

Nought ooiily of Saluce in the toun 8290 

Pubhssched 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 with fortunat honestete, 
In Goddes pees l}T^eth ful esily 
At home, and outward grace y-nough hath he ; 8300 
And for he saugh that under low degre 
Was ofte vertu y-liid, the poeple him helde 
A prudent man, and that is seen ful selde. 

Nought oonly this Grisildes thm-gh hir witte 
Couthe al the feet of vfi&y homlynesse, 
But eek whan that the tyme required it. 
The comun profyt couthe sche redresse : 
Ther nas discord, rancour, ne hevynesse 
In al that lend, that sche ne couthe appose, 
And TOsly bryng hem alle in rest and ese. 83io 

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


Though that hir housbond absent were anoou, 
If gentilmen, or other of liir contre, 
Were wroth, sche wolde brynge hem at oou, 
So wyse aud rype wordes hadde sche, 
And juggement of so gret equite, 
That sche from heven sent was, as men wende, 
Poeple to save, and eveiy 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 chikle, 8320 

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 wyi tassaye ; 8330 

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, 

8o31 — Ncdeks. 'rUc Harl. MS. reads, Now, God real, but llie readiug 
of tlic Lan-sdowne 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 *^340 

With steme face, and with ful trouble 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, 
Maldth 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 every word that I yow say, 
Ther is no wight that heritli it but we tway. 

" Ye wot your self how that ye comen heere 
Into this lious, 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 bom art of a smal village. 

" And namely syn thy doughter was i-bore, 8360 
These wordes ban 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 wolde, but as my pepul lest. 

" And yit, God wot, tliis is ful loth to me : 



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

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

Whan Bche 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 cliild 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 liir answer\Tig, 
But yit he fejnied as he -were not so. 
Al dreery was his 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 unto his ^vyf him sent. 

A maner sergeant was this prive man, 
The which that faithful oft he fouuden hadde 
In thinges grete, 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 his lordes wille, 8400 
Into the chamber he stalked him 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 comaundid for to take." 
And spak no more, but out the child he hent 84io 
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 this cruel sergeant doon Ms wille. 

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

But natheles sche neyther weep ne siked, 
Conformyng hir 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 faina, 
suspecta facies, suspecta liora, suspecta erat oratio, quibus et si clare 
occisum iri dulce iiUaui intelligeret." 


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

And thus sche sayd in hir benigne vois : 8130 

"Fan\'el, 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 schal tow deyen for my sake." 

I trowe that to a norice 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, 8**0 

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 thing 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 liir cheere 
He tolde poynt for poynt, in schort and playn, 

8127 — arm. Other MSS. read 6nrm«, the bosom. 


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

And bad the sergeaunt that he prively 
Scholde this childe softe wjTide and wrappe, 
With alle circumstaunces tendvirly, 8*"^ 

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 whider 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 busjaiesse 
This child to fostre in alle gentilesse, 
And whos child that it was he bad hir hyde ®*'^o 

From every wight, for ought that mighte bytyde. 

The sergeant goth, and hath fulfild this thing. 
But to this marquys now retoume we ; 
For now goth he ful fast ymaginyng. 
If by liis \vyves cher he mighte se. 
Or by hir word apparceyve, that sche 
Were chaunged, but he hir never couthe f}nide. 
But ever in oon y-like sad and kynde. 

8466 — of Panik. " Quieto omni quanta possit diligentia Bononiam 
deferret, ad sororem suam, qua; illic comiti de Panico nupta erat, eamque 
sibi traderet alendam matemo studio charis inoribus instruendam," etc. 
Tyrwhitt, rather hastily, changed the name to Pavie in his text, and, 
although he corrected himself in the notes which were printed after the 
text, the error has been retained in subsequent editions. 


As glad, as humble, as busy in gervise 8480 

And eek in love, as sche was wont to be. 
Was sche to him, in every maner wyse ; 
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 emest 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 biliolde : 
And whan that folk it to his fader tolde, ^'^^ 

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 wif yit after, if he may. 
O ! needles was sche tempted in assay. 
But weddid men ne knowen no mesure. 
Whan that thay fynde a pacient creature. 

" Wyf," quod this marquys, " ye han herd er this 85()o 
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 mjai hert and my corrage, 
For to myn eeris cometh the vois so smerte. 
That it wel neigh destroyed hath myn herte. 

" Now say thay flms, Whan Wauter is agoon, 


Than schal the blood of Jauicle succede, 

And ben our lord, for other have we noon : 

Suche wordes saith my poeple, out of drede. ^510 

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 sei*vede by night, 
Right so thynk I to serve him prively. 
This warn I you, that ye not sodeinly 
Out of your seK for no thing schuld outraye, 
Beth pacient, and therof I yow pray." ^520 

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

" Ye ben oui'e lord, doth witli your owne thing 
Right as yow list, axith no red of me : 
For as I left at horn al my clothing S-oso 

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

" And certes, if I hadde prescience 
Your wil to knowe, er ye youre lust me tolde, 
I wold it doon withoute negligence : 


But now I wot yom* lust, and what ye wolde, 

Al your plesaunce ferm and stable I holde, 

For wist I that my deth wold doon yow ease, 8540 

Right gladly wold I deye, yow to please. 

" Deth may make no comparisoun 
Unto your love." And whan this marquys say 
The Constance of liis 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 his 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 de^7'se, 
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 eortlie 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 that he 
Ne hadde sothly knowen therbifore. 
That parfytly hir children loved sche, 
He wold have wend that of som subtilte 


And of malice, or of cruel corrage, 

That sche had suffred this with sad visage. 

But wel he knew, that, next himself, certayn 8570 
Sche loved hir children best in every wise. 
But now of wommcn wold I aske favn, 
If these assayes mighten not suffice ? 
What couthe a stourdy housebonde more devyse 
To prove hir wyfhode, and hir stedefastnesse, 
And he contynuyng 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, ^^^^^ 

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

He wayteth, if by word or coimtenaunce 
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. ^^^0 

For which it semyd this, that of hem tuo 
Ther nas but 00 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 
Wvlne in effect, but as hir housbond wolde. 


The sclaunder of Walter ofte ami wj'tle spradde, 
That of a cruel hert he wikkedly, 
For he a pore woraman weddid hadde, 8600 

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

For which, wher as his peple therbyfore 
Had loved him wel, the sclaunder of his diflfame 
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 cruel purpos nolde stente, 8610 

To tempt his wyf was set al his entente. 

Wlian that his doughter twelf yer was of age, 
He to the court of Rome, in suche wise 
Enformed of his wille, sent his message, 
Comaundyng liem, such bulles to devj'^se, 
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 counti'efete 
The popes bulles, makyng mencioun 8(5'20 

That he hath leve his firste wyf to lete. 
As by the popes dispensacioun. 
To stynte rancour and discencioun 
Bitwix his peple and liim : thus sayd the l)ullt% 
The which thay han publisshid atte fulle. 

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


But whan these tyd}Tiges come to Grisildis, 

I deeme that hir herte was ful wo ; 

But sche y-like sad for evermo 8^30 

Disposid was, this humble creature, 

Thadversite of fortun al tendure ; 

Abydyng ever his hist 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 Bolovne it sent. 

To therl of Panyk, which that hadde the 80 lo 

Weddid his suster, prayd he specially 
To bi-jaige hom agein his children tuo 
In honuralile estaat al openly : 
But oon thing he him prayde outerly, 
That he to no wight, though men wold enquere, 
Schuld not tellen whos children thay were, 

But say the mayde 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 w^ay is goon 8650 

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

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



And tlius in gret noblesse and with glad chere 
Toward Saluces schapyng her journay, 
Fro day to day thay ryden in her way. 8660 

Incipit pars quinta. 

Among al this, after his wikked usage, 
This marqms yit liis 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 hir 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 oheissaunce, 8670 
Nought for your lignage, ne for your richesse ; 
But now know T in veri'ay sothfastnesse, 
That in gret lordschip, if I wel axjse, 
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 uudeitake : 
And trewely, thus moche I wol yow say, 8680 

My newe vdi is comyng by the way. 

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

8674 — lervilude. ''Nunc qiioniani, lit video, majnia omnis fortuna 
semtiis magna est, non milii licet qnoil cuilibet licerot asricola^," etc. 
The Harl. MS. reads Ktrvise, which is inconsistent with the metre. 


Tak it agayii, I gvaunt it of my grace. 

Retoumeth to your fadres hous," quod he, 
" No man may alway have prosperite. 

With even hert I rede yow endnre 

The strok of fortune or of adventure." 
And sche agayn answerd in pacience : 
" My lord," quod sche, " I wot, and wist alway, '^^on 

How that betmxe your magnificence 

And my poverte no wight 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 fader gladly wil I wende. 

And with him duelle unto my lyves ende. 

" Ther I was fostred as a child ful smal, •'*'i'^ 

Til I be deed my lyf ther vd\ I lede, 

A widow clene in body, hert, and al. 

For sith I gaf to yow my maydenhede, 

And am your trewe wyf, it is no drede. 


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

" And of your newe vni, God of his grace 
So gi'aunte yow wele and prosperite : 
For I wol gladly yelden hir my place, 
In which that I was blisful wont to be. ^^^^o 

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 m my mynde, 
It were my wrecchid clothes, no thing faire. 
The whiche to me wei'e hard now for to fynde. 
goode God ! how gentil and how kynde 
Ye semed by youi- speche and your visage, 
That day that maked was our mariage ! 8730 

" But soth is sayd, algate I fynd it trewe. 
For in eflfect 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 repeute, 
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 ; 

87 12 — nakednesse. The Harl. MS. reads, erroneously, mekenes. The 
words of Tetrarch are, " neque nmniiio alia itiilii dos i'uit, qiiam fides et 


And her agayu my clothyng I restore, 
And eek my weddyng lyng for evermore. 

" The remenant of your jewels redy be 
Within 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 hope it be not youre entent, 8750 

That I smocles out of your paleys went. 

Ye couthe not doon so dishonest a thing, 
That thilke wombe, in which your cliildren leye, 
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 ouglme lord so deere, 
I was your wyf, though I miworthy were. 

" Wherfor, in guerdoun of my niaydenhede, 
Wliich that I brought and nought agayn I here, 87ti0 
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 leva 
Of yow, myn oughne lord, lest I yow greve." 

" The smok," quod he, "that thou hast on thy bak, 
Let it be stille, and her it forth with the." 
But wel unuethes 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 \vepyiig in liir weye, 
And fortune ay thay cursen as thay goon : 
But sche fro wepyng kept hir eyen dreye, 
Ne in this tyme word ne '=:pak sche noon. 
Hir fader, that tins 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 liis 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 : 8790 

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

Thus with hir fader for a certejTi space 
Dwellith this flour of wifly pacience. 
That neyther by her wordes ne by hir face, 
Byforu the folk, nor eek in her absence, 
Ne schewed sche that hir was doou offence, 
Ne of hir highe astaat no remembraunce 
Ne hadde ache, as by hu- countenaunce. ^^^^ 

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


Ne tender mouth, noon heite 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 speke of Job, and most for liis humblessc, 
As clerkes, whan hem lust, can wel endite, 
Namely of men, but as in sothfastnesse, ^'^ 

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 BolojTie is this erl of Panik y-come. 
Of which the fame up-sprong to more and lasse. 
And to the poeples eeres alle and some 
Was couth eek, that a newe marquisesse 
He with him brought, in such pomp and richesse. 
That never was ther seyn with mannas ye ^20 

So noble array in al West Lombardye. 

The marquys, wliich that schoop and knew al this, 
Er that this erl was come, sent his message 
For thilk cely pore Grisildis ; 
And sche with humble hert and glad visage. 
Not with no swollen hert in hir corrage. 
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. 


" Gi'isild." 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 myn hous to be : 
And eek that eveiy wight in his degre 
Have his estaat in sittyng and servyse, 
In high plesaunce, as I can devj'se. 

" 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 govemaunce : 
Thow knowest eek of al my plesaunce ; ssw 

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 ser\^e 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 with al my trewe entent." 

And with that word sche gau 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 — feynlyng. The Harl. MS. reads fcynyng, the t having been 
probably omitted by accident. The Latin text lias, " ne()iie in hoc 
iinijiiaiu fatigabor." 


Hath every chamber arrayed, and his halle. 

Abouten underii gau this erl aUght, 
That with him brought these noble children tweye ; 
For which the peple ran to se that sight 
Of her array, so richely biseye : ^*^o 

And than at erst amonges hem thay seye. 
That Walter was no fool, though that him lest 
To chauuge his wji ; 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 liigh lynage : 
Hir brother eek so fair was of visage, 
That hem to seen the peple hath caught plesaunce, 
Comending now the marquys govemaunce. 8870 

O stormy poeple, unsad and ever untrewe, 
And undiscret, and chaungyng 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, youi* 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 ; " Proxiine lucis 
ore tertia, cujnes supervenerat." 

8873 — delytyng. The reading of MS. Harl. is daynyng, which does 
not seem to aflbrd 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 ia every thing, 
That to the feste was aj)pertiuent ; 
Right nought was sche abaissht of hir clothing, 
Though it were iniyde, and som del eek to-rent. 
But with glad cheer to the gate is sche went. 
With other folk, to giiete the marquisesse, ssoo 

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 aiTay was for to se, 
And couthe such honour and reverence, 
And worthily thay prayse hir pnadence. 

In all this mene while sche ne stent 
This mayde and eek hir brother to comende 8900 

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 lialle. 

" 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 ; ^^^ 

8901 — benigne. The reading ol' MS. Harl. is buxom. 


And so hope I, that he wol to yow sende 

Plesauuce y-nough uuto your h^^es eude. 
" On thing warn I yow and biseke also, 

That ye ne prike ^^ith no tormentynge 

This tendre mayden, as ye have do mo : 

For sche is fostrid in hir norischinge 

More tendrely, and to my supposynge 

Sche couthe not adversite endure, 

As couthe a pore fostrid creature." 

And whan this Walter saugh hir pacience, 8^2'^ 

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 beuignite, 
As wel as ever womman was, assayed ^^^^ 

In gret estate, and propreliche arrayed : 
Now knowe I, dere vfj{, 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 — mo. For me, to suit the rhyme. Tyrwhitt ha.s pointed tliis 
ont as one of the most remarliable licences that Chaucer 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 noou other I have, 
Ne never had, as God my soule save. 8940 

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

" And folk, that other weyes han seyd of me, 
I wai'n hem wel, that I have doon this deede 
For no malice, ne for no cnielte, ^^^^ 

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 liir armes pitously wepyng 
Embraseth hem, and tenderly kissyng, 
Ful lik a moder with hir salte teris 8960 

Sche bathis bothe hir ^^sage and hir eeris. 

O, 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. tins line stands, That ye han Icpl my chiMren 
no deere, but the reading; given in the text and adopted hy Tvrwhitt seems 
to me preferable. 


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

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

That cruel houndes or som foul vermyne 
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 thay gonne arace. 
O ! 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 liir 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 chambre goon. 
And strippe hir out of hir rude array. 
And in a cloth of gold that binghte schon, 
With a coroun of many a riche stoon 


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

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

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

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 wj'^-es fader in his court he kepith. 
Til that the soule out of his body crepith. *'"io 

His sone succedith in his heritage, 
In rest and pees, after liis fader day ; 
And fortunat was eek in maiiage, 
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 every wight in his degre 
Schulde be constant in adversite, 

9018 — This ami the nrxt stanza are translated almost literally from 
Petrarch's Latin. 


As was Grisilcl, therfore Petrark writeth 
This stoYj, 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 seint Jame, if ye his pistil rede ; ^'^'=*" 

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 sondiy wise : 
Nought for to knowe oure ^ille, for certes he, 
Er we were born, knew al our frelte ; 
And for oure best is al his governaunce ; 
Leet us thanne lyve in vertuous suffraunce. 

But 00 word, lordes, herkueth er I go : 
It were ful hard to fpide now a dayes SO'IO 

As Grisildes in al a touu thi-e 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 maistiy, and elles were it scathe, — 
I wil -svdth 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. The Lansd. MS. and others have 
For sith a woman, which may possibly be the correct reading. 


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

And lat us stynt of emestful matiere. 
Herknith my song, that saith in this manere. 

Uenvoye de Chaucer. 

Grisild is deed, and eek hir pacience, 
And bothe at oones buried in Itayle : 
For whiche I crye in open audience, 
No weddid man so hardy be to assayle 
His wyA'es pacience, in hope to fynde 
Grisildes, for in certeyn he schal fayle, 

O noble wyves, ful of heigh pmdence. 
Let noon humilite your tonges nayle : 9060 

Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence 
To write of yow a stoiy of such mei'vayle, 
As of Grisildes pacient and kynde, 
Lest Chicluvache yow swolwe in hir entraile. 

9061 — Chichivache. According to a popular fable, which seems to 
have had its orifrfn in France, the chichevache or chicheface, was a 
monster which lived only on good women, and wliich was said to be 
always thin and meagre on account of the extreme rarity of tliis article 
of food. M. Achille Juhinal, in the notes to his Myslrres inrdils du xv. 
siecle, torn, 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, (.lubinal, ib. p. 281) a 
man says satirically to the saint, — 

Gardcz-vous de la chicheface, 

El vous mordra s'el vous encontre, 

Vous n'amendez point sa besoigne. 

I am not aware of any allusion to this falile in England before Chaucer; 
but our countrymen carried the satire still fiirlher, and added another 
beast named Rycorn, who lived upon good and p.itient husbands, aTid 
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," 


Folwith ecco, that holdith no silence, 
But evei' answereth at the countretayle : 
Beth nought l)Ydaffed for your innocence, 
But scharply tak on yow the goveniayle : 
Emprpitith wel tliis lessoun on your mynde, 
For comun profyt, sith it may avayle. ^^"^^ 

Ye archewyves, stondith at defens, 
Syn ye hen 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 Inde ; 
Ay clappith as a mylle, I yow counsaile. 
Ne drede hem not, do hem no reverence, 

For though thin housbond armed he in mayle, 

The aiTves of thy crabbid eloquence 

Schal perse his brest, and eek his adventayle : 9080 

In gelousy I rede eek thou him hynde, 

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

Schew thou thy \dsage 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 wiyng, and wayle. 

is printed in Mr. HalHwell's Minor Poems of Van John Lydgate, 
p. 129. A larce woodcut, printed in a broadside of the time of Elizabeth, 
and preserved in tlie collection of broadsides, &c in the library of the 
Society of Antiquaries, gives a representation of these t;vo raonsters. 
9074 — wyveg. The reading of the Harl. MS. is wydewes. 

G 2 



" Wepyng and wailyng care and other sorwe 
I knowe y-nougli, botlie on even and on morwe," ^o^o 
Quod the marchaund, " and so doon other mo, 
That weddid hen ; I trowe that it he so ; 
For wel I woot it fareth so ^vith 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, 9100 

And of my ^vyf the passyng cruelte. 
Were I unboundeu, 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 lude. 
As for the more part, I say not alle ; 

The prologe. This prologue is omitted in some MSS., and in others a 
diflerent prologue is given, and the Clerlics Tale is in some followed by 
the Franlielein's Tale. The prologue and arrangement of the Harl. MS. 
are, however, evidently the genuine ones. Tyrwhitt quotes from other 
MSS. the following concluding stanza to the envoye ; — 

This worthy clerk whan ended was his tale, 

Our hoste saide and swore by cockes bones, 

Me were lever than a barrel of ale 

My wif at home had herd this legend ones; 

This is a gentil tale for the nones, 

As to my piirpos, wiste ye my wille. 

But thing that wol not be, let it be stille. 



God schilde that it schokle so byfalle. 

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

Thise monethes tuo, and more not, parde ; ^'lo 

And yit I trowe that he, that al his lyve 

Wyfles hath ben, tliough that men wold him rive 

Unto the hert, ne couthe in no manere 

Tellen so moche sorsve, as I now heere 

Couthe telle of my wyfes cursednesse." 

"Now, "quod our ost, " Marchaunt, soGodyowblesse ! 
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." 9i*^o 


Whilom tlier was dwellpig in Lombardy 
A worthy knight, that bom was of Pavy, 
In which he lyved in gret prosperite ; 
And fomty yer a \\'ifles 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 fabliau, from which this Tale 
was no doubt translated, is not now known to exist, but the subject has 
been preseryed 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 of ^sop's Fables printed in the fifteenth centurj-. 

9128 — sixtij. 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 Ic in the second, which numbers I have thought it safest 


Were it for holyness or for dotage, 
I can not say, but sucli a gret corrage 9130 

Hadde tliis kuiglit to ben a weddid man. 
That day and night he doih al tliat he can 
Taspye Avher that he niighte weddid be ; 
Praying our lord to graunte him, that he 
Might oones kuoweu of that blisful lif, 
That is bitwix an housbond and his ^v}'f, 
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, 9^^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 lung. 
To take a ■\vyf is a glorious tiling. 
And namely whan a man is old and hoor, 
Than is a wyf the fruyt of his tresor ; 
Than schuld he take a yong wif and a fail, 
On which he might engendre him an hair, 
And lede his lyf in miithe and solace, 
Wheras these bachileres synge alias, '-^^^^ 

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

to adopt : the transposition of I and .r easily gave rise to difl'erent readings. 
I .sup])Ose that Cbaiiccr meant to reclion the period during which his 
licro remained '• wifles" from the ordinury period of marriage, or about 
liis twentieth year. 'I'he reading of MS. Harl , in ]. iU28, is totally 
incompatible with tlie old age and impotcuc}' under which Jauiiaiy is 
described as labouring. 


That bachilers have ofte peyne and wo : 

On brutil grouud thay bukle, and brutelnesse 

Thay fynde, whan thay wene sikemesse : 

Thay lyve but as a brid other as a best, 

In libert^i and under noon arrest ; 

Ther as a weddid man, in his estate, 

Ly\dth his lif busily and ordinate, 9Jt>o 

Under the yok of manage i-bounde : 

Wei may his herte in joye and blisse abouude. 

For who can be so buxom as a wyf ? 

Who is so trewe and eek so ententyf 

To kepe him, 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 wliiche Theofrast is oon of tho : 9 no 

What fors though Theofrast liste lye ? 

Ne take no wif, quod he, for housbondrye, 

As for to spare m houshold 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 — busily. The MS. Lansdowne has blisful, which is the reading 
adopted by Tjrwhitt. 

9172 — Ne take ho ivif. " What follows to ver. 9180 incl. is taken Ironi 
the Liber aureolus Theophrasti de nupiiis,as quoted by Hieronj-nius con- 
tra Jovinianum, and from thence by John of Salisbury, Polycrat. 1. viii. 
c. si. Quod si propter dispensationem domus,et langiioris solatia, et fuga7n 
soliliidinis, ducunlur iixores, multo melius dispensat servus fidelis, fic. 
Assidere aulcmcBijrotanti maqis possunt amici ct vernula: beneficiis obli- 
flati qiiam ilia qiuc nobis imputet lachrymas suas," &c -—Tijrwhilt. 


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

Thpie verray frendes or a trewe knave 

Wol kepe the bet than sche that waytith ay 

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

And if that thou take a wif, be war 

Of oon peril, which declare I ne dar. 

This entent, and an hundrid si the wors, 
Writith this man, ther God liis l)ones curs. 
But take no keep of al such vanite ; 
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, 9190 

9181 — And if that. This and the following line are not in the Text 
of Tvrwhitt, who observes on this passage, — " After this verse in the 
common Editt. are these two. 

And if tLou take to the a wife untrue 

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

And if thou take a wif be wel ywar 

Of on P'^"' which I declare ne dare. 


In MSS. C. l.HA. I), thus— 

And if thou take a wif of heye lynage 

She shal be hautovn of gret costage. 
In MS. B. 5. thus— 

And if thou take a wif in thin ago olde 

Ful liuhtly mayst thou be a cokewold. 
In MSS. Ask. 1. 2. E. H." B. Sr. N. c. and both Caxtons Editt. they are 
entirely omitted, and so I believe they should bo. If any one of these 
couplets should be allowed to be from the hand of Chaucer, it can only 
be considered as the opening of a new argument, which the author, for 
8ome reason or other, immediately abandonded, and consc(jucntly would 
have cancelled, if he had lived to publish his work." 


A "wyf wil last and iu tliin hous endure, 

Wei lenger than the lust peradventiu-e. 

Mariage is a ful gret sacrament ; 

He wliicli hath no wif 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, ^200 

God of his 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. ^210 

A wyf? a! seinte Maiy, benedicite, 

How might a man have eny adversite 

That hath a wyf? certes I can not say. 

The joye that is betwLxen hem tway 

Ther may no tonge telle or herte think. 

If he be pore, sche helpith him to swynk ; 

Sche kepith his good, and wastith never a del ; 

And al that her housbond list, sche likith it wel ; 

9200 — body naked. Tyrwhitt reads I'rom other MSS. belli/ naked, 
which was the ordinarj' phrase lor entirely naked. MS. Lansd. has bbj 
naked, which is probably a mere error for hrllij naked. 


Sche saith nought oones nay, whan he saith ye ; 

Do this, saith he ; al redy, sir, saith sche. 9220 

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 his lyf 
Thanken his God, that him hath sent a wif, 
Or pray to God oon him for to sende 
To be with liim 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 liis wyfes red ; 
Than may he boldely bere 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 liis nekke ; 
For which his fader benesoun he wan, 
Lo Judith, as the story telle can, 9210 

By wys counseil sche Goddes poepel kept, 
And slough him Oliphenius whil he slej)t. 

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

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

0215 — Hester. Tlie Harl. MS. aud some otliers read after also, an 
evident error of the scribes. In 1. 9217 the Marl. MS. reads corruptly 
Maiidoclie. The proper names are often corrupted in this iiiatnicr by 
the ignorance or carelessness of scribes, in manuscripts of early Muglisli 


Schold hail ben slayn. And loke, Hester also 

By good couuseil delivered out of wo 

The poeple of God, and made liim Mardoche 

Of Assuere enhaunsed for to be. 

Ther nys no thing in gre superlatif 

(As saith Senec) above an humble wyf. 9'-^^'* 

Suffre thy wyves tonge, 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 warne 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 ^^60 

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 holden 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 — Js seith Senec. The passage of Seneca alluded to, was written 
iu the margin of one of the MSS. consulted by Tyrwhitt : " Sicut nihil est 
superius benigna conjuge, ita nihil est crudelius iufesta muliere." 

9251 — as Catoun byt. The allusion is to tlie popular treatise entitled 
Cato de Morihus, lib. iii, distich 25: — 

" Uxoris linguara, si Irugi est, ferre memento." 

U258 — Love wel, etc. The allusion is to Paul's Epist. to the Ephesians, 
V. 25,28, 29, viri diligite uxores vestras, sicut et Christus dik'xit cede- 
siam .... Qui suani uxoreui diligit, seipsum diligit. Nemo enim unquam 
rarnem suam odio habuit : sed nutrit et fovit earn. 


Considered hath iuwith his dayes olde 

The lusty hf, the vertuous quiete, 

That is in manage 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 brinke, 
Upon my soule som what most I thynke. 
I have my body fohly dispendid, 
Blessed be God that it schal be amendid : 
For I vn\ be ceiteyn a weddid man, 
And that anoon in al the hast I can, ^^^O 

Unto som mayde, fair and tender of age : 
I pray yow helpith for my manage 
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 wanie I yow, my frendes deere, 
I wol noon old wyf have in no manere : ^290 

Sche schal not passe sLxtene yer ceiiayn. 
Old fisch and yong fleisch that wold I have ful fayn. 
Bet is," quod he, "a pyk than a pikerell. 
And bet than olde Ijoef is the tendre vel. 
I wil no womman twenty yer of age, 
It nys but bene-straw and gret forage. 
And eek these olde wydewes (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 sondiy scolis makeu subtil clerkes ; 

Womman of many a scole half a clerk is. 

But certeyn, a yong thing may men gye, 

Right as men may wanii wax with hondes plye. 

Wherfor I say yow plenerly in a clause, 

I wil noon old ^vyf han right for that cause. 

For if so were I hadde so meschaunce, 

That I in hir ne couthe have no plesaunce, 

Than schuld I lede my lyf in advoutrie, 

And go streight to the devel whan I dye. ^sio 

Ne children schuld I noon upon hir geten : 

Yet were me lever houndes had me eten. 

Than that myn heritage schulde falle 

In straunge 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 nomore of it than wot my page, 

9298 — of TFades hoot. The popular legend of Wade's boat, though 
well knorni in the sixteenth century, is now unfortunately lost, so that 
we cannot fully understand the force of Chaucer's allusion. Made 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 Guiugelot; and 
these adventures seem to be cited in the text as e.xamples 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 pleyede, he tolde a tale of Wade." 

9302— scole. The Harl. MS. reads skile. 


For whiche causes man scliuld take a wyf. 

If he ne may not cliast be by his lif, 9320 

Take him a wif with gret devociomi, 

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, 9330 

For God be thanked, I dar make avaunt, 

I fele my lemys stark and suffisaunt 

To doon al that a man bilongeth vmto : 

I wot my solve best what I may do. 

" Though I be hoor, I fare as doth a tree. 
That l)lossemith er that the fmyt 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 laui'er 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 bretheren tuo, 

Of which that oon was clepid Placebo, 9350 

Justinus sothly clepecl was that other. 

Placebo sayde : " 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, unto us eveiychoon : 

Werk al thing by counsail, thus sayd he. 

And thanne schaltow nought repente the. ^'-^^^ 

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 youi" oughne counseil is the best. 

For, brother myn, of me tak this 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, 93*t» 

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. reads 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 honour, 
That dar presume, or oones thenken it, 
That his counseil schuld passe his lordes wit. 
Nay, loi'des ben no fooles by my fay. 
Ye have your self y-spoken heer to day ®*8^ 

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 liira 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, 
Plight in this A^ise 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 I'ight wel, ^^oo 

To whom I give my good away fro me, 
Wel more I aught avised for to be 
To whom I give my body : for alwey 
I warn yow wel it is no childes pley 
To take a wvf withoute a\'isement. 


Men most enquere (this is myn assent) 

Wlier sclie be wys, or sobre, or dronkelewe, 

Or proud, or eny other way a schrewe, 

A chyder, or a wastoui* of thy good, 

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

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 were that sche hadde 

Mo goode thewes than hir vices badde : 

And al this 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, ^^-^ 

Ceites I fynd in it but cost and care, 

And observaunce of alle blisses bare. 

And yit, God woot, myn neighebours aboute, 

And namely of wommen many a route, 

Sayn that I have the moste stedefast wyf, 

And eek the meekest oon that berith lyf. 

But I woot best, wher wi-jTigith 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 manage ; ^430 

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, 

!)427 — m;/ acho. See bpfore the note on 1. 6074. 



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

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

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

" Tliat Icttith matrimoigne sicurly." 
And \\'ith that word thay rysen up sodeinly. 
And ben assented fully, that he scholdc 
Be weddid whan him lust, and wlicr he woldc. ^'•''" 

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

Of maydcns, which that dwcllid him bisyde : 
He wist not where that he might abyde. 
For though that oon have beaute in liir face, 



Another slant so in the poeples grace 

For hir sadness and hir benignite, 

That of the poeple grettest vois hath sche : 

And som were riche and hadde badde name. 

But natheles, bitwi.x: eniest and game, 

He atte last appoynted him an oon, 

And let al other fro his herte goon, 9470 

And ches hir of his oughne auctorite. 

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

And whan he was into bedde brought. 

He purtrayed m his hert and in his thought 

Hir freische beaute, and hir age tendre, 

Hir myddel smal, hir armes long and sclendre, 

Hir wise govemaunce, hir gentilesse, 

Hir wommanly beryng, and hir sadnesse. 

And whan that he on hir was condescendid, 
Him thought his chois miglite 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 lais 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 he wold abyde. 9*90 

Placebo cam, and eek his frendes soone, 

9i82—ioitte. This is the reading of Lansd. MS. The Harl. MS. 
reads ivyf, which appears to be incorrect. 

H 2 


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

He sayd, ther was a mayden in the toun, 
^^^lich that of beaute hadde gret renoun, 
Al were it so, sche were of smal degre, 
Suffisith him hir youthe and hir lieaute : ^^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 wght with his blisse parten schal : 
And prayed hem to laboure in this neede, 
And schapen that he faile not to sjjeede. 
For tlian, he sayd, his spirit 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. ^^if* 

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 liim fro the synnes sevene. 
And eek from ylk a braunche of thilke tre, 
Yit is ther so parfyt felicite 
And so gret ease and lust in manage. 
That ever I am agast now in myn age, 

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

O-jI."}. hraiinehe. — The popular medieval treatises on the seven sins, 
arrange the minor transgressions connected witli each a.*- branches of the 
priinarj- tree. 


That I schal lede uow so mery a lyf, 

So delicat, withoute wo and stryf, ^^^O 

That I schal have myu heven in erthe heere. 

For sith that verrey heven is bought so deere 

With tribvdacioun and gret penaunce, 

How schuld I tlianne, that live in such plesaunce 

As alle weddid men doon with her wyves, 

Come to blisse ther Crist etenie on lyve is ? 

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

Assoilith me this questioun, I yow preye." 

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

And for he wold his longe tale abiigge, 
He wolde noon auctorite alegge, 
But sayde, " Sir, so ther be noon obstacle 
Other than this, God of his high 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 Ijf, 
In which ye sajn ther is no wo ne stryf : 
And ellis God forbede, but he sente 
A weddid man grace him to repente 9540 

Wei ofte, rather than a sengle man. 
And therfor, sire, the beste reed I can, 
Dispaii'e 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 skippe 
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 nevennor schal be, ^550 

That yow schal lette of your savacioun, 

So that ye use, as skile is and resoun. 

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 mf of Bathe, if ye han understonde, 

Of mariage, wliich ye han now in honde, 9560 

Declared hath fill 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 trete, 
That sche this maydeu, 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, 5t570 

If I yow tolde of every scrit and bond, 
By which that sche was feofFed in his lend ; 
Or for to herken of hir riclie array. 
But finally y-comen is that day, 
That to the chirche bothe ben thay went, 
For to receyve tlie holy sacrament. 

Q573— herken. Other MSS, with Tynvhitt, have rekken. 


Forth comth the preost, with stoole about his necke, 
And bad hir be lik Sarra and Kebecke 
In wisdom and in trouth of manage : 
And sayd his orisomis, as is usage, ^580 

And crouched hem, and bad God schuld hem blesse, 
And made al secur y-nowh with holhiesse. 
Thus ben thay weddid \\ith 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. 
Bifom hem stood such instruments of soun. 
That Orpheus, ne of Thebes Amphioun, ^590 

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 the 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 his corrage 
In liberte and eek in manage) 9600 

And with hir fuyrbrond in hir bond aboute 

9594 — Ae he Theodomas. " This person is mentioned again as a i'amous 
trumpeter in the H. of F. iii. 156, but upon what authority I really do not 
know. 1 should suspect that our author met with him, and the anecdote 
alluded to, in some Romantic History of Tliebes. He is prefixed to proper 
names emphatically, according to tlie S;ixon usage. See before ver. 9242, 
him, Holofemes ; ver. 9247, him Mardochec ; and below ver. 9608. Of 
hire Philologie and him Mercury." — Tyrwhitt. 


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 Marcian, 

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 «6io 

For to deserive of this manage. 

WTian 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 \vith so benigne 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 de\'yse al hir beaute ; ^620 

But thus moche of liii- beaute telle I may, 

That sche was lyk the biighte morw of May, 

Fulfild of aDe beaute and plesaunce. 

This January is ra\7scht in a traunce, 
At every tyme he lokith in hir face, 
But in his hert he gan hir to manace, 
That he tliat night in annes wold hir streyne 
Harder tlaan ever Paris did Eleyne. 

9606 — Marcian. Marcianus Capella.the wellkiiown author of a kiu^ 
of philosophical romance, IJe Nuptiis Mercurii et Philologia. 

i)608 — he Mercurie. Tynvhitt reads him. See his observations in 
the note on 1. 9594. I have not ventured to alter the reading of the 
Harl. MS., where it involves a question of grammatical construction. 


But natheles yit had he gret pite 

That thilke night offenden hir most he, '-"530 

And thought : " Alas ! o tendre creature. 

Now wolde God ye mighte wel endure 

Al my corrage, it is so scharp and keene ; 

I am agast ye schul it not susteene. 

For God forbede, that I dede al my might. 

Now wolde God that it were woxe night, 

And that the night wold stonden evermo. 

I wold that al this poeple "were ago." 

And fynally he doth al his labour, 

As he best mighte, savyng his honoui-, 9«J40 

To hast hem from the mete in subtil wise. 
The tyme cam that resoun was to ryse, 

And after that men daunce, and dryuke 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 veiTay peyne he was nigh wood ; 

Almost he swelt and swowned ther he stood : 9650 

So sore hath Venus hurt him with hir broud, 

As that sche bare it daunsyng in hir bond. 

And to his bed he went him hastily ; 

No more of him as at this tyme telle I ; 

But ther I lete him now his wo compleyne. 

9637 — stonden. Other MSS. read lasten. 

965.5 — now his wo compleyne. MS. Lansd., with others, reads, let hi 
loepe ynowe andpleine. 


Til freisslie May wol rewen on his peyno. 

jDerilous fuyr, that in the bed-straw bredith ! 

famuler fo, that his sendee bedith ! 

O servaunt traitour, false homly hewe, 

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

God scliild us alle from your acqueintauce ! 

January, dronken in plesaunce 

Of manage, se how thy Damyan, 

Thyn ouglme squier and thy bomc 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 diournc. 
No lenger may the body of him sojoume ^^'^^ 

On thorisonte, as in that latitude : 
Night ^\•ith liis mantel, that is derk and rude, 
Gan oversprede themesperie aboute : 
For wliich departed is the lusti route 
Fro January, 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 tlu,- word when it was written 
holy. Tyrwhitt however adopts this reading, mistakes the meaning of 
the word liewc, and, to make sense of the passage, adds of, which is found 
in none of the MSS ; and in his text it stands, /a?se of holy Iwive, which 
lie supposes to signify false of holy colour. Conjectural emendations are 
always dangerous. 

S(0(iO — ilcighc. I have added this word from the MS. Lansdowue, as 
the line seems imperfect without it. 


Wher as thay doon her thinges, as hem leste, 

And whan thay seigh her tyme thay goon to reste. 

Soone after that this hasty Januarie 

Wokl go to bed, he -wold no lenger tarie. ^680 

He diinldth ypocras, clarre, and vemage 

Of spices hote, to encrese his corrage : 

And many a letuary had he ful ijn, 

Such as the cursed monk daun Constantin 

Hath writen in his book de Coitu ; 

To ete hem alle he wold no thing eschieu : 

And to liis prive frendes thus sayd he : 

For Goddes love, as soone as it may be, ^^^^ 

Let voyden al this hous in cuileys wise." 

And thay han doon right as he wold devyse. 

Men drinken, and the travers di'awe anoon ; 

The bruyd 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 Januaiy hath fast in armes take 

His freisshe May, his paradj's, his make. 

9681 — vemage. " Vernaccia, Ital. ' Credo sic dictum (says Skinner) 
quasi Veronaccia, ab agro Veronensi, in quo optimum es hoc genere %-inum 
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 lisle de CanJe il leur venoit tresbonnes malvoisies 
at grenaches (r. gernaches) dont ils estoient largement servis et confortez. 
Our author in another place, ver. 13000, 1. joins together the wines of 
Malvesie and Vemage. Malvasia was a town upon the eastern coast of 
the Morea, near the site of the ancient Epidaurus Limera, within a small 
distance from Crete." — Tyrwhitt. 

9684 — Constantin. This medical writer lived about the year 1080, 
according to Yai)T\c'n\s,,Bibl. Med. ^t. His works, including the treatise 
mentioned in the text, were printed at Basil, fol. 1536. 

9686 — wold. Tlie MS. Harl. reads nas, which seems not to furnish 
^:0 good a grammatical construction 


He lullith hir, he kissith hir ful ofte ; 
With thikke bristlis on his herd unsofte, 
Lik to the skyn of houndfisch, scharp as brere, 
(For he was schave al newe in his manere) 9700 

He rubbith hir about hii* tendre face, 
And sayde thus : " Alias ! I mot trespace 
To yow, my spouse, and yow gretly offende, 
Or tyme come tliat I wol doun desceude, 
But uatheles considerith this," quod he, 
" Ther nys no werkman, whatsoever he be, 
That may bothe werke wel and hastily : 
This wol be doon at leysir pai-fitly. 
It is no fors how longe that we pleye ; 
In trewe wedlok coupled be we tweye ; 07io 

And blessed be the yok that we ben inne, 
For in our actes we mow do no sjame. 
A man may do no synne with his wif, 
Ne hurt liimselven with his oughue knyf : 
For we han leve to play us by the la we." 

Thus laborith he, til that the day gan dawe, 
And than he takith a sop in fyn clarre. 
And upright in liis bed than sittith he. 
And after that he song ful lowd and clere. 
And kissed his wyf, and made wantoun cheere. "-''20 
He was al coltissch, ful of ragerye, 
And ful of jargoun, as a flekked pye. 
The slakke skin about his nekke schakith, 

9723 — schakcth. I have adopted tliis reailiii-j troiii tin: LaiiMl. MS.. 
a.s being preferable to that of the MS. Harl. slaktih, which is a repeti- 
tioii of the idea conveyed by the previous word xtakkc, and seeius to 
create a redundancy in the mcaniDK. 


Whil that he song, so chaunteth he and crake th. 

But God wot what that May thought in hir hert, 

Whan sche him saugh up sittyng in his schert. 

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

Sche pi-aysith nought liis pleying worth a bene. 

Than sayd he thus : " My reste wol I take 

Now day is come, I may no lenger wake." 9^30 

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, ^''^^ 

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 sake Damyan in Venus fuyr 
So brennith, that he deyeth for desir ; 9750 

For which he put his lyf in aventure, 

9741 — languyssheth. The Lansd. MS. reads lonipirilh, i.e. falls into 



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

The moone that a-noon was thilke day 
That Januaiy hath weddid freische May 
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 the clerk carried about wiih 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 behind him 
at Waddington Hall, in Yorkshire, in his flight after the battle of Towtou. 

As such articles belonged only to clergj' and scholars, we understand 
why the " squire" Damyan was obliged to borrow one for his use. An 
early vocabulary entitled " Nominalo" mentions, among the nomina rerum 
pcrlinentium clerico,'' pennare, apener". 

9755 — complcynt. . . lay. These were the technical names of two forms 
of metrical composition. 

0761 — In tuo of Taurc. Tyrwhitt alters this reading (which is that 
of nearly all the MSS.) into ten, and obsen^es : — " The greatest number 
of MSS. read, two, tuo, too, or to. But the time given [foure dayes com- 
plete, ver. 9767) is not sufEcient for the moon to pass from the 2d degree 
of Taurus into Cancer. The mean daily motion of the moon being 
='130 10'. 35". her motion in 1 days is = 1^. 22°. 42'. or not quite 53 
degrees ; so that supposing her to .set out from the 2d of Taurus, she 
would not, in that time, be advanced beyond the 35th degree of Gemini. 
If she set out from the 10th degree of Taurus, as I have corrected the 
text, she might properly enough be said, in four days, to be gliden into 
Cancer." — Tt/rwhill. 


As custom is unto these nobles alle. 

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, 

Wlian that the heighe masse was i-doon, 

In halle sitte this Januaiy and May, 

As freissch as is the brighte someres day. 9'"^ 

And so bifelle, that this goods man 

Remembrid him upon this Damyan, 

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

That Damj-an eutendith 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 Mm tarie. 
• That me for-thinketh," quod this Januarie ; ^''^o 

■ 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 thiifty 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, S's^ 

That of his bounte and his gentilesse 

He wolde so comfort in seckenesse 


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 tliis 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 liis halle, 
And told him ceiteyn thinges that he wolde. 

This fi'eisshe May hath streight hir wey i-liolde 
With alle liir wommen unto Damyan. 
Doun by his beddes syde sat sche than, 
Comfortyng him as goodly as sche may. 

This Damyan, whan that his tyme he say, ^^lo 
In secre wise, his purs, and eek his bille. 
In which that he i-writen had liis wille, 
Hath put into hir hond 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 this thing be kidde." 

0817 — be kiflde. The Harl. MS. reads here and in the following 
line, — 

if that this thing discovered be, 

This purs in hir bosom hud hatli sche. 
But I prefer the reading here adopted from the Lansd. MS., on account 
of th<' repelilion of rlivmo.s in the otlicr reading. 


This purs hath sche inwith hir bosom hud, 

And went hir way ; je gete no more of me ; 

But unto Januaiy comen is sche, ^820 

That on his beddes syde sit ful softe. 

He takith hir, and kissith hir ful ofte : 

And layd liim doun to slepe, and that anoon. 

Sche feyned hir as that sche moste goon 

Ther as ye woot that every wight moot neede ; 

And whan sche of tliis 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 Januaiy sche lay, ^^^^ 

That slepith, til that the coughe hath him awaked : 
Anoon he prayde stripen hir al naked. 
He wold of hii', he sayd, have some plesaunce ; 
Hir clothis dede him, he sayde, som grevaunce. 
And sche obeieth, be hir lief or loth. 
But lest that precious folk be with me ^sToth, 
How that he wrought© 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 aiise. ^840 

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 tyme fortxmate, 
As for to putte a bille of Venus werkis 
(For alle thing hath tyme, as seyn these clerkis) 
To eny womman for to gete hir love, 



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

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

Heer may ye see, how excellent fraunchise 
In womman is whan thay narow hem avyse. 
Som tyrauut is, as ther ben many oon. 
That hath an hert as hard as is a stoon, 
Which wold ban lete sterven in the place 
Wei rather than ban graunted him her grace : 
And hem rejoysen in her cruel piide, 
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 him hir verray grace ; 
Ther lakkid nought but oonly day and place, 
WTier that sche might unto his 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 ]\Iay, 
And subtilly this lettredoun sche thruste 


Under his pylow, rede it if him luste. 
Sche takith him by the hond, and hard him twiste 
So secrely, that no wight of it wiste, ^880 

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

That eveiy 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 procede. 
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 fooo 

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

988S — a dogge for the bowe. A dog used in shooting. Conf. 1. 6951. 

1 2 


That he that wroot 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, tliis 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, ^920 

With which whan that him list he it unschette. 

And whan he wolde pay his vryi hir dette 

In somer sesoun, thider wold he go. 

And May his wyf, and no ^vight but thay tuo ; 

And thinges which that weren not doon in bedde, 

He in the gardyn parformed hem and spedde. 

And in this wise many a raery day 

Ly^'ed this January and freische May ; 

But worldly joye may not alway endure 

To January, ne to no creature. ^930 

sodeyn hap ! o thou foi'tune unstable ! 
Lyk to the scoi-pioun so desceyvaVde, 

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


That flaterest ^\ith tliin heed whan thou wilt stynge; 

Thy tayl is deth, thurgh thin envenymynge. 

britel joye ! o sweete venym quepite ! 

monster, that so subtily canst peynte 

Thyn giftes, under hew of stedfastnesse, 

That thou desceyvest bothe more and lesse I 

Why hastow Januaiy thus deceyved, 

That haddist him for thy fulle frend receyved ? ^^ lO 

And now thou hast byreft him bothe his yen, 

For sorw of which desireth he to dyen. 

Alias ! this noble Januaiy fre, 

Amyd his lust and his prospexite 

Is woxe blynd, and that al sodeynly. 

He wepith and he weyleth pitously ; 

And theiTvithal, 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 : ^950 

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 tuiiil 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 fox'goon, 

That he nas jalous everaiore in oon : ^^^o 

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 liir to rjAe or go, 

But if that he had hond ou hir alway. 

For which ful ofte wepeth freische May, 

That loveth Damyan so benignely. 

That sche moot outher deyen sodeinly, 

Or elles sche moot han him as hir lest : 

She waytith whan hir herte wolde brest. 9970 

Upon that other syde Damyan 

Bicomen is the sonvfuUeste man 

That ever was, for neyther night ne day 

Ne might he speke a word to fressche May, 

As to his pm-pos, of no such matiere, 

But if that January most it heere. 

That had an hond upon hir eveiTno. 

But natheles, by writyng to and fro. 

And prive signes, wist he what sche ment. 

And sche luiew eek the fyn of his entent. ^"^^ 

January, what might it thee availe. 
If thou might see as fer as schippes saile ? 
For as good is blpid deceyved be, 
As to be decejved 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 sj^ak of so yore. 
In warm wex hath empiynted the cliket. 
That January bar of the smale wiket, 



By which into his gavdjTi ofte he went ; 
And Damyan that knew al liir entent 
The cliket counterfeted piively ; 
Ther nys no more to say, but hastily 
Som wonder by this cliket schal betyde, 
Which ye schal heeren, if ye wol abyde. 

noble Ovyde, wel soth saistow, God woot, 
AVhat sleight is it though it be long and hoot, lOOOO 
That he nyl fynd it out in some manere ? 
By Pu'amus and Thesbe may men leere ; 
Though thay were kept ful longe streyt over al, 
Thay ben accorded, rownjmg thurgh a wal, 
Ther no wight couthe han found out swich a sleight. 
For now to purpos ; er that dayes eyght 
Were passed of the moneth of Juyl, bifille 
That January hath caught so gret a wille, 
Thorugh eggyng of his wyf, liim for to pleye 
In his gardyn, and no -snglit but they tweye, looio 
That in a morwe unto this JNJay saith he ; 
" Rys up, my wif, my love, my lady fre ; 
The tmllis vois is herd, my douve swete ; 
The wynter is goon, with his raynes wete. 
Come forth now with tliin 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 myu hert, o wyf : 
No spot in the knew I in al my lif. 10020 

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


Com fortli, and let us take oure desport, 
I ches the for my wji and my comfort." 
Such olde lewed wordes used he. 
On Damyan a signe made sche, 
That he schuld go Lifoni mth 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 imder a bussch. Anoon 
This Januaiy, as blynd 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 sodeinly. 
•' 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 knyf. 
Than the offende, deere trewe vryL 
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 monv er sonne reste, 
So wislj God my soule bringe to blisse ! 
I pray yow first in covenaunt ye me kisse. 10050 


And though that I be jalous, wyt me nought ; 
Ye ben so deep emprinted in my thought, 
That whan that I considre your beaute, 
And therwithal the unlildy eelde 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 tendre flour, 
Which that I have ensured in your houd, 
Whan that the prest to yow my body bond : 
Wherfor 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 that lak. 
Doth strepe me, and put me in a sak, 
And in the nexte ryver do me dreuche : 
I am a gentil womman, and no weuche. 
Why speke ye thus ? but men ben ever untrewe. 
And wommen han reproef of yow ever newe. 
Ye have noon other coutenaunce, I leve. 
But speke to us as of untrust and repreve." looso 


And with that word sche saugh wher Damyan 

Sat iu the buissh, and coughen sche bigan ; 

And with hir fyngres signes made sche, 

That Damyan schuld clymb upon a tre, 

That charged was with fniyt, 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 niatier, how he worche schal. 10090 

And thus I lete him sitte in the pirie, 

And Januaiy and May romynge mirye. 

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

Pluto, that is the kyng of fayeiye, 
And many a lady in his compaignie 
Folwjng his wif, the queene Proserpina, 
Whiche that he ravesched out of Ethna, 
Whil that sche gadred floures in the mede, 
(In Claudiau ye may the story rede. 
How in his grisly carte he hir fette) 

10103 — Preserpina. The Harl. MS. reads, by some error of the scribe, — 
.... Preserpine, 
Ecb after otber as right as a lyue. 


This king of fayn^ than adoun him sette 
Upon a bench of turves freissh and greeue, 
And right anoon thus sayd he to his queene : ^oiio 
" My wyf," quod he, " ther may no wight say nay, 
Thexperiens so preveth every day. 
The tresomi wliich that wommaji doth to man. 
Ten hundrid thousand stories tellen I can 
Notable of your untrouth and bmtelnesse. 
O Salamon, wys and richest of richesse, 
Fulfild 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 spekith of yow but selde reverence. 
A \vild fuyr and coriiipt pestilence 
So falle upon your bodies yit to night : 
Ne see ye not this honurable knight ? 
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 wol 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 harlotr}'e, 

10121. Among a thousand. See Eccksiaslcs, vii, 28. 


Bothe in reproof of her aud other mo." 
" Ye schal !" quod Presei'pine, " and wol ye so? 
Now by my modres Ceres soule I swere. 
That I schal give hir sufhsaunt answere, 10140 

And alle wommeu after for hir sake ; 
That though thay be in any gult i-take, 
With face bold thay schul hemself 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 ? loi^o 

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 Romayii gestes eek make remembraunce 
Of many a verray trewe wyf also. 
But, sire, be nought wrath, al be it so, loico 

10139 — Ceres. The Harl. MS. reads Sires ; the Lansd. Sire. Ceres 
is of course the word intended. 

101 16— The Harl. MS. reads this line,— 

Al had a man seyn a thing with bothe his yen. 

10158 — The Romain gestes. Tyrwhitt says that the allusion is to the 
popular book known as the Gcsla Romanonim. I am inclined, however, 
t/j think it more probable that the poet had in his eye the examples of 
Lucretia, Portia, and other ladies celebrated in Koman 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 bounte 
Nis noon but God, that sit in Trinite. 
Ey, for verrey God that nys but 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 ? loi^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 his regne rather than he wolde. 
I sette right nought of the vilonye, 
That 36 of wommen wiite, a botei'flie ; 
I am a womman, needes most I speke, 
Or elles swelle tyl myn herte breke. 1018O 

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 hann, that wold us vilonye." 
' 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 ageia. 
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. 10190 


Hir answer schal sche have, I undertake ; 

Let us no mo wordes lierof make. 

Forsoth I -wol no lenger yow contrarie." 
Now let us tume 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 le\'yes greene. 

Tliis 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 fruyt so gret an appetyt, U)2U) 

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 piiy 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." 
" Cartes," quod he, " theron schal be no lak, '0'-20 


Might I yow helpe with myn herte hlood." 

He stoupith doun, and on his hak sche stood, 

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

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

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 his sight again,] 
Ne was ther never man of tiling 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 imcurteisly. 
And up he gaf a roryng and a ciy, 
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 youi* mynde, 
I have yow holpen on bothe your eyen bljnide. 

10227 — In some late MSS., and in the printed editions, several lines 
of obscene ribaldry 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, are not 
found in the Harl MS. 


Up peril of my soule, I schal not lyen, 

As me was taught to hele with your yen, 

Was notliing bet for to make yow see, 

Than stroggle with a man upon a tree : 

God woot, I dede it in ful good entent." 
" Stroggle !" quod he, "ye, algat in it went. '0250 

God give yow bothe on schames deth to dyen ! 

He swyved the ; I saugh it with myn yen ; 

And elles be I houged by the hals." 
" Thau 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) ■snth 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 maiid 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 wakitli out of his slop, 

He may not sodeynly wel take keep 

Upon a thing, ne seen it pai'fytly, 

Til that he be adawed verrayly. 


Right SO a man, that long hath blj^nd i-be. 

He may not sodeynly so wel i-se, 

First whan the sight is newe comen agayn, 

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. 10280 

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 mysconceyveth 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 horn he hath hir lad. 
Now, goode men, I pray yow to be glad. 10-290 

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


" Et ! 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 Marchauudes tale it proveth wel. 
But douteles, as trewe as eny steel 10.300 

I have a wyf, though that sche pore be ; 


But of hir tonge a labb\nig schrewe is sche ; 

And yit sche hath au heep of vices mo. 

Therof no fors ; let alle such thinges go. 

But wite ye what ? in counseil 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, ^0310 

(Of whom it needith not for to declare, 

Sto wommen connen oute such chaffare) ; 

And eek my witte suffisitli nought therto 

To tellen al ; wherfor my tale is do. 

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

" Nay, sire," quod he ; " but I wl say as I can 
With herty wil, for I wil not rebelle 
Against your wille ; a tale wil I telle, 10320 

Have me excused if that I speke amys ; 
My vd\ is good ; and thereto my tale is tliis." 


At Sarray, in the lond of Taitaiy, 

Ther dwelled a kyug that werryed Russy, 

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

Tlte Squycret Tale. It is unknown at present from wliat source Chaucer 
derived this Tale, which is not found (as far as I am aware) in any other 
lorm in tlie literature of the Middle Ages. It is to be regretted that 


Tliurgh which ther deyed many a doughty man : 

This nobil kyng was cleped Camhynskan, 

Whirh 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, • '^^so 

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 ryal man. 

This noble kyng, this Tartre, this Camhynskan, 

Hadde tuo sones by Eltheta his wyf, 

Chaucer left it unfinislied. It may be observed that throiiRhoiit the tale 
the name of tlie Tartar king is Camhynskan, in the MS. PI;irl as well as 
in the Lansdowue 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 ("ambuscan bold, 
Of Cambali, and of Algarsife, 
And who had Canace to wife, 
That o« n'd the virtuous ring of glas ; 
And of the wondrous horse of bras 
On which the Tartar king did ride. 

(II Penseroso.) 

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



Of whicli the oldest liiglite Algixrsyf, 

That otlier was i-cleped Camballo. 

A doughter had this wortlii king also, 

That yongest was, and highte Canace : 

But for to telle yow al hir beaute. 

It lith not on my tonge, ne my connyng, 

I dar nought undertake so heigh a tiling : i03r,o 

Myn Englissh eek is insufficient, 

It moste be a rethor excellent 

That couth liis 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 liis dyademe : 
As he was wont fro yer to yer, I deme, 
He leet the fest of his nativite 

Don cryen, thurghout Sarray his cite, 10360 

The last Idus of March, after the yeer. 
Phebus the sonne was joly and cleer. 
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 J'^^TO 

10311 — Algarityf. The Harl MS. reads AlgaryS,sa\A in tlie next line 
Samballo for Camballo, which are probubly mere errors of tlie scribe. 


Agens the swerd of wynter kene and cold. 

This Camb}Tiskan, of which I have told, 

In royal vesture, sittyug on his deys 

With dyadem, ful heigh in his paleys ; 

And held his fest solempne and so riche, 

That in this worlde was there noon it liche. 

Of which if I schal tellen al thaiTay, 

Than wold it occupie a someres day ; 

And eek it needith nought for to devyse 

At every cours the ordre and the servyse. '"^so 

I wol nat tellen of her stramige sewes, 

Ne of her swannes, 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 piyme, 

And for it is no fniyt, but los of tyme, 

Unto my purpos I wol have my recoui's. 

That so bifelle after the thridde cours, iC3yi» 

Whil that this kyng sit thus in liis nobleye, 

Herkyng his mynstrales her thinges pleye 

Byfome him atte boord deliciously, 

In atte halle dore al sodeyuly 

Ther com a knight upon a steed of bras, 

10382 — swannes . . heroun-sewes. It is hardly necessary to observe tbat 
swans were formerly eaten at table, and considered among the choicest 
ornaments of the festive board. Tyrwhitt informed us that at the inthro- 
nization of archbp Nevil, 6 Edward IV, there were " heronshawes iii. c." 
{Leland, Colled, vol. vi, 3), and that at another feast in 1530, we read of 
" 10 hearoitfcws, every one 12rf." {Peck's Dcs. Cur. vol. ii, 12.) 


And in his hond a brod myroui* of glas ; 

Upon his thomb he had of gold a ryng, 

And by his side a naked swerd hangyng : 

And up he lideth to the heyghe hard. 

In al the halle ue was ther spoke a word, lOlOO 

For mervayl of this knight ; liim to byholde 

Ful besily they way ten yong and olde. 

This straunge 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 with his olde curtesye, 
They he were come agein out of fayrye, 10410 

Ne couthe liim nought amende wth no word. 
And after this, bifom the highe bord 
He with a manly vois 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 Icerc. 
Al be it that I can nat sowne his style, 
Ne can nat clymben over so heigh a stj'le, 10*20 

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. 

10400 — Gawcj/n. The Harl. MS. reads Eivcn. Gaweyn was cele- 
brated in roedieral loraante as the most courteous of Artliur's kiitghts. 


He sayd: " The kyng of Arraby and of Ynde, 
My liege lord, ou 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 space of o day naturel, ^^^'^^ 

(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 wliich your herte 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), lo^^*^ 
And tome agein, with wrytliing of a pyn. 
He that it wrought, he cowthe many a gyn ; 
He wayted 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 

10445 — seal. The making and arrangement of seals was one of tbe 
important operations of medieval magic, and treatises on this subject are 
found in manuscripts One of these was believed to have been compiled 
bj' the children of Israel in the Desert. A copy of this is found in MS. 
Arundel, No. 295, fol. 265, which commences with the statement — In 
nomine Domini. Incipit liber prociosus et secretus sigillorum quern 
fecerunt filii Israel in deserto secundum motus et cursus siderum, etc. 


Unto your regiie, or to your self also, 

And openly, who is youi" freud or fo. 10450 

And over al this, if any lady bright 

Hath set hir hert on eny maner wght, 

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 mii-our 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, lO*^^ 
Is this, that who so lust it for to were 
Upon lur thomb, or in hir purs to here, 
Ther is no foul that fleeth under the heven. 
That sche ne schal understonden his steven, 
And know his menyng openly and pleyn. 
And answer him in his langage ageyn : 
And evei-y 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 hangeth l)y my syde, 10470 
Such vertu hath, that what man that it smyte, 
Thurghout his armiu* it wol kerve and byte, 
Were it as tliikke as a bmunched ook : 
And what man is i- wounded with the strook 
Schal never be hool, til that you lust of grace 
To strok him with the plat in tliilke place 
Ther he is hurt ; tliis is as moche to seyn. 
Ye moote with the plattc swerd agein 
Stroke him in the wound, and it wol close. 


This is the verray soth withouten glose, 10480 

It failleth uought, whil it is in your hold." 

And whan this knight thus had his tale told, 
He rit out of the halle, and doun he light : 
His steede, wliich that schon as sonne bright, 
Stant in the court as stille as eny 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 unto the highe tour, loioo 

With certein ofl&cers ordeynd therfore ; 
And unto Canace the lyng 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-sflewed ; 
Ther may no man out of the place it dryve 
For noon eng}'n of wyndas or polyve : 
And cause why, for they can nought the craft. 
And therfor in the place thei have it laft, lo^oo 

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. 

10498 — wyndas. The Harl. MS. reads wymlyng. 
\0o06~high. The Harl. MS. ri'atls w'/ri. 


Right as it wei-e a steed of Lumbardve : 
Therto so liorsly, and so quyk of ye, 
As it a gentil Poyleys com*ser were : 
For cartes, fro his tayl unto his eere ^^^^^ 

Nature ne art ne couthe him nought amende 
In no degre, as al the poej^el wende. 
But evermore her moste wonder was, 
How that it couthe goon, and was of bras ; 
It was of fayiy, 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, 10520 

And seyden it was i-hke the Pagase, 
The hors that hadde wynges for to fle. 
Or eUes it was the Grekissch hors Synon, 
That broughte Troye to destmccioun, 
As men may in the okle gestes rede. 
" Myn hert," quod oon, " is evennore in dredc, 
I trow som men of armes ben therinne, 

10509 — a genlil Poijlei/s courser '• A horse of Apulia, wliich in old 
French was usually called Poillc. The honses of that country were much 
esteemed. MS. 5orf. James vi, 112. Richard, .\rchbp. of Annagh, in the 
xivth century.says in praiseof our St. Tliomas, ' quod ucc mulus Hispaniee, 
uec dtrlrarius Apulia, nee repedo .Ethiopia;, nee elephantus Asia;, nee 
camelus Syriaj hoc asino no.stro Anglia; aptior sivc audentior invenitur 
ad prselia.' He had before informed his audience, that Thomas, Anglice, 
idem est quod Thorn Aaitius. There is a patent iu Rymer, 2 E. II, 
De Dtxtrariif in Lumbardia emendis." — Ti/ncliitl. 

10521 — the ParjoKc. — i.e. Pegasus. In the margin of the Harl. MS. it 
is explained in Latin, i. cquus peijaseus. 

1052.3— .S'//iioH. Sinon, according to Grecian story, was the maker of 
llie wooden horse hv means of which Trov was finally taken. 


That schapen hem this cite for to wynne : 

It were good that such thing were knowe." 

Another rownecl 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 sondiy thoughtes tlius they jangle and trete, 

As lewed peple demeth comunly 

Of thinges that ben maad more subtily, 

Than they can in her lewednes 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, 10540 

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 myiTours and prospectyves. 

As knowen they that hau her bokes herd. 

And other folk have wondred on the swerd, 10550 

That wolde passe thorughout every thing : 

1054'! — heigh. Other MSS., with Tyrwhitt, read sli/he or sleigh, sly. 

10545 — in Rome. The erection of this mirror was one ol' the feats of 
the legendary ^'iigil, and will be found described in the early English 
poem of the Seven Sages. 

10546 — Alhazen and Vitihjon. The Harl. MS. reads Alceyt for 
Alhazen, and the Lansd. MS Aloccn. " Alhazcni et Vitellonis Oplica are 
extant, printed at Basil, 1572. The first is supposed by his Editor to 
have lived about a.d. 1100, and the second in a.d. 1270."— Ti/ruhilt, 


And fel in speche of Telophus the kyng, 

And of Achilles for his queynte spere, 

For he couthe with it bothe hele and dero, 

Right in such wise as men may with the swerd. 

Of which right now ye have your selven herd. 

They speeken of sondiy hai'dyug of metal, 

And speken of medicines therwithal, 

And how and whan it schulde harded be. 

Which is imlvuowe algat unto me. 10560 

Tho speeken they of Canacees ryng. 

And seyden alle, that such a wonder thing 

Of craft of lynges herd they never noon, 

Sauf that he Moyses and kjug 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 ferae aisschen glas, 

And yit is glas nought like aisschen of feme, 

But for they ban i-knowen it so feme : 10570 

Therfor cesseth her janglyng and her wonder. 

10.552 — Telophux. Telephus, king of Mysia, iu atfenipting to hinder 
the Greeks from marching through his country against Troy, was wounded 
hT Achilles, and was informed bj- the oracle that his wcuiid could only 
be cured by being touched by the spear which had made it. Whence 
Propertius says, — 

Mysus at Ha;raonii juvenis qui cuspide vulnus 
Senscrat, hoc ipsa cuspide sensit opem. 
And Ovid,— 

Telephus petema consumptus tabe perisset. 
Si non qua; nocuit destra tulisset opem. 
10,56 I — Moiifcs and ki/rig Salamon. These personages, especiall}- the 
hitler, had a high reputation (derived a^'parently from the Arabs) in the 
Middle Ages for their skill iu magic. 

10566 — and drawvn hem apart. The llarl. M.S. reads, (//t pcplc on 
every part. 


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 demen 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 Lyoun, with his Aldiyan, 
Whan that this gentil kjmg, this Cambynskan, io^'^^ 
Ros fro his bord, ther as he sat ful hye : 
Bifom 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 heyghe, 
And loketh on hem -with a frendly eyghe. 
This noble kyng is set upon his trone ; 
This straunge knight is fet to him ful sone, l^-^'^'^ 
And in the daunce he gan with Canace. 

10577— left. The Harl. MS. reads lost. Tliis MS has in several 
instances lost for left, and vice versa. 

10.579 — Aldnjan. The Harl. MS. reads Adryan. 
10583— c/iamfcre of parementz. " CAamfcrc rf(? p«reme«/, is translated by 
Cotgrave, the presence-chamber : and Lit cle parement a bed of state. 
Parements originally signified all sorts of ornamental furniture, or clothes, 
from parf r, Fb. to adorn. See ver. 2503 and Leg. ofG. W. Dido, ver. 181. 
To dauncing chambres ful of parementes, 
Of riche beddes and of pavementes, 
This Eneas is ledde after the mete. 
Tlie Italians have the same expression. 1st. d. Cone. Trident. 1. iii. II 
Pontefice — ritornato alia camera de' parmenti co' Cardinali — ." — Ti/rwhitt. 
10587. — in (lie Jlssch. — i.e. in the zodiacal sign pisces. See before, the 
note on 1. 0284. 


Her is the revel and the jolyte, 

That is not able a dul man to devyse : 

He most have kiiowe 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 lokyug of dissimilynges. 

For drede of jalous folk appareeyvynges ? 10600 

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 wyn, in al this melodye ; 

Thes usschers and thes squyers ben agon, 

The spices and the vvyn is come anoon : 

They eet and drank, and whan this had an ende. 

Unto the temple, as resoun was, they wende : 'O'^io 

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. 

S\\ich wondryng 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 woudryng as was tho. 

But fynally the kyng asked the kiiight 

The vertu of tliis courser, and the might, 

And prayd him tellen of his govemaunce. 

The hors anoon gan for to trippe and daunce, 

Whan that the knight leyd hand upon his rayne. 

And sayde, " Sir, ther is nomore to sayne, 

But whan you lust to r}'de any where, 

Ye moote trille a pyn, sUmt in his ere, ioc:iO 

Wliich 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 douu descend and do your wile. 

And in that place he wol abyde stille : 

Though al the world had the contraiy swore. 

He schal nat thennes be i-thi'owe ne bore. looio 

Or if you lust to bid liim thennes goon, 

Trille this pyn, and he wol vanyssh anoon 

Out of the sight of eveiy maner ^^■ight, 

And come agein, be it by day or night. 

Whan that you lust to clepen him agayn 

In such a gyse, as I schal vow sayn 

Betwixe you and me, and therfor soone, 

Byd whan you lust, ther nys nomor to doone." 

Enformed whan the k}Tig was of the knight. 

And had conceyved in his wit aright 106.50 

The maner and the forme of al this thing. 


Fill glad and blith, this noble doughty kyng 
Repeymig to his revel, as biforn, 
The bridel is unto the tour inborn, 
And kept among his 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 secunda pars. 
The nonce of digestioun, the sleep, 1066O 

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 thankyn 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. 10670 
Here dremes schiil not now be told for me ; 

10663 — moche mete. — This reading is taken fVdin the Lands. MS. 
The Harl. MS. has that mirllic a»(i Zaftour, the word 7Ht'r</ic being perhaps 
a misreading for jncle. Tyrwhitt reads mocltil drinJce, and observes, — 
" So MSS. C. 1. HA. In MS A. it is, That miiihe 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 furtlier, I apprehend, for 
tlie true meaning." 

10066 — blood. According to the old physicians, blood was in domi- 
nation during the latter part of the night and the earher part of the day. 
Tvrwhitt (]uoles from the lib. Galeuo ad^scr. de natura, etc., torn, t, p. 
:i"i7, Sanguis dniiiinatur iioris septem ab hora nuctis nona ad horam diei 


Ful were here heedes of fumosite, 

That causeth tlrem, of which ther is no charge. 

They sleepen til it was prime large, 

The moste part, but it were Canace ; 

Sche was fal 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 ; lO^so 

And kept hir firste sleep, and then awook. 

For such a joye sche in hir herte took, 

Bothe of liir queynte ryng, and hir myrrour. 

That twenty tyme chaunged hire colour" ; 

And in hire sleep, right for the impressioun 

Of liir myrrour, sche had a visioun. 

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 wjse, 10690 

As is here maystresse, answered her anoon, 

And sayd, " Madame, whider 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 lyseth fresshe Canace hir selve, 
As rody and bright, as is the yonge sonne 
That in the ram is ten degrees i-ronne ; lO'OO 

10700 — ten. This is the reading of the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. 
Tvrwhitt reads, foure degrees. L, 


No lieiher was he, ^Yhan sche rcdy was ; 

And forth sche walked esily a pas, 

Arajed after the lusty sesouu soote 

Liglitly for to play, and walke on foote, 

Nought but TOth fyve or sbc of liir meyne ; 

And in a trencli fer m the park goth sche. 

The vapour, which that of the erthe glod, 

Maketh the sonne seme rody and brod : 

But natheles, it was so fair a sight. 

That it made alle here hertes for to light, '07io 

What for the sesoun, what for the momyng 

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 taiyed til lust be cold 
Of hem that han it after herkned yore. 
The savour passeth ever lenger the more. 
For fulsomnes of the prolixite : 
And by this same resoun thinketh me 10720 

I schulde to the knotte condescende. 
And make of hir walkynge sone an ehde. 

Amyddes a tree for-dniye, 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 ciye. 
That al the woode resowTied of hire cry. 
And beten hadde sche hir self so pitously 
With bothe hir wynges, to the reede blood 
Ran endelong the tree, ther as sche stood. 10730 


And ever in oon sche cried and sclie schryght, 

And with hir bek hir salve so sche pight, 

That ther nys tigre non ne cruel baste, 

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 faukoim wel discrive. 

That herd of such another of faimesse 

As wel of plumage, as of gentillesse lOTio 

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, Canaca, 

That on hir fynger bar the queynte ryng, 

Thurgh which sche understood wel every thing 

That eny foul may in Ms lydne sayn, 

And couthe answer him ui his lydne agayn, 10750 

Hath understonde what tliis faukoun seyde, 

And wel neigh almost for the rewthe sche deyde : 

And to the tree scha goth ful hastily, 

And on this faukoun loketh pitously. 

1 0742 — a faukoun peregryn. " This species of falcon is thus described 
iti the Tresorde Brunei Latin, P. 1, Ch. Dcs Faucons. MS. Reg. 19, C. x. 
' La seconde hgnie est faucons, que horn apele pelerins, par ce que nus 
ne trove son ni. ainsestprisautresi conieen/)e?frtno^ est mult legiers 
a norrir, et mult cortois, et vaillans, et de bone manicre.' Chaucer adds, 
that this Falcon was of fremde. or f rented , lond ; from a foreign country." 

L 2 


And held hir lappe abrod, for wel sche wii^t 

The faukoim moste falle fro the twist, 

Whan that she swowned next, for lak of blood. 

A long -while to wayten liir sche stood, 

Til atte last sche spak in this manere 

Unto the liauk, as ye schul after heere. '^"60 

" What is the cause, if it be for to telle. 

That ye ben in that furyalle peyne of helle ? " 

Quod Canace imto this hauk above ; 
" Is this for sorwe of deth, or elles love ? 

For as I trowe, tliis ben causes tuo, 

That causen most a gentil herte wo. 

Of other hanu 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 cruel dede, 10770 

Sith that I see noon other wdght 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 i0780 

Of your disese, if it lay in my might, 

I wold amenden it, or that it wer night. 

10782 — Or (hat it were night. The Harl MS. reads, if that J might ; 
wliicli appears to be too nearly a repetition of the conclusion of the prc- 


Als wisly help me grete God of kyude. 

And herbes schal I right y-nowe fynde, 

To helen witli your hurtes hastyly." 

The schright this faukoun more pitously 

Than ever sche did, and lil to groimd anoon, 

And lay aswowne, deed as eny stoon, 

Til Canace hath in hir lap y-take, 

Unto that tyme sche gan of swowne slake ; i^'-'O 

And after that sche gan of swown abreyde, 

Right in hir haukes lydne thus sche sayde. 

That pite renneth soue in geutil 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 fairs 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 tbat conclusiomi, 

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 stille, losio 

And with a sighhe thus sche sayd liir tille. 



" Ther I was bred, (alias that like day !) 
And fostred in a roch of marble gmy 
So tendrely, that nothing eyled me, 
I ne ^nste not what was adversite, 
Til T couthe flee ful heigh imder 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-wa-apped imder humble cheere, 
And under heewe of trouthe in such manere, 
Under plesaunce, and under besy peyne, 
That no wight wende that he couthe feyne, 
So deep in greyn he deyed his colours. 
Eight as a sei-pent hut him under floures 
Til he may see hie tyme for to byte ; 
Eight so this god of loves ypocrite 
Doth so his seiToonys and his observaunce, 
Under subtil colour and aqueyntaunce, 
That so\vneth unto geutilesse of love. 
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 mcnt : 
Til he so long had weped and compleyned, 



10827 — god of loves ypocryte. This is Tyrwhitt's reaJing. The Harl. 
AIS. has, this god of love, thisypocryle,^\■h\ch appears not to give so good 
a meaning. The Lansd. MS. reads, this god of love ipocrite. 

10828— In the Lansd. MS., witli which Tyrwhitt agrees, these two 
lines stand thus, — 

Dolho so his cercmoniis and obeiceances. 
And keped in semblant al his observances. 


And many a yeer his service to me feyued, 

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 evermo myn honour and my renoim 

Were saved, both piyvy 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 thyng so fer i-goon. 

That I had graimted 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 joye, 10S60 

That never Jason, ne Parys of Troye, 

Jason ? certes, ne noon other man, 

Sith Lameth was, that altherfirst bygan 

To loven two, as wiiten folk biforn, 

Ne never sith the firste man was born, 

Ne couthc man by twenty thousand part 


Contrefete the sophemes of his art ; 

Ne were worthy to unbokel his galoche, 

Ther doublenes of feynyng schold approche, 

Ne so couthe thankyn a vight, as he did me. lo^'*^ 

His maner was an heven for to see 

To eny womman, were sche never so wys ; 

So peyuteth he and kembeth poynt devys, 

As wel his wordes, as his coutiiiaunce. 

And I so loved him for his obeisauuce, 

And for the trouthe I demed in his herte, 

That if so were that eny thing liim smeite, 

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 instmment; 

This is to say, my wille obeied his wille 

In alle thing, as fer as resoun fille, 

Kepyng the bomades of my worschip ever : 

Ne never had I thing so leef, ne lever. 

As him, God woot, ne never schal nomo. 

This laste lenger than a yeer or two, 

That I supposed of him nought but good. 

But fjnally, atte laste thus it stood, 

That fortune wolde that he moste twynne '0890 

Out of the place which that I was inne. 

Wher me was wo, it is no questioun ; 

I can nat make of it descripcioun. 

For thing dar I telle boldely, 

I know what is the peyne of deth, therby, 

Which harm I foil, fcir he ne mightc bvlcvc. 


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, loooo 

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 resoim 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 fi-o him my sorwe, 

And took him by the hand, seint Johan to borwe, loaio 

And sayde thus : ' Lo, I am yoiu'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 werse ? 

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 he cam ther him leste. 

10906 — as oft happeth so. In the Harl. MS. these words have been 
omitted by a bhmder ol" the scribe. The lacuna is supplied from the 
Lansd. MS. 

10916 — a ful long spoon. This singular proverb appears to be of con- 
siderable antiquity. It occurs more frequently in the sixteenth century ; 
among a few proverbs of this date printed in the Eeliq Antiq. vol. i, p. 
208, one is, " He hath need of a long spoone that eateth with the devill." 
So in Shakespeare, Com. of Errors, iv, 3, " Marry, he must have a long 
spoon, that must eat with the devil ;" and, Tempest, ii, 2, Stephano says, 
" Mercy ! mercy I this is a devil, and uo monster : I will leave him ; I have 
no long spoon. " 


Whan it cam him to pui-pos for to reste, 

I trow he hadde thilke text in mynde, 10920 

That alle thing repeyryng to his kynde 

Gladeth himself; thus seyu men, as I gesse : 

Men loven of kynde newefangilnesse. 

As briddes doon, that men in cage feede. 

For theigh thou night and day take of hem heede, 

And straw her cage faii-e and soft as silk, 

And geve hem sugre, hony, breed, and mylk, 

Yet right anoon as that his dore is uppe, 

He •svith his feet \\i\ sporue domi his cuppe, 'O^^o 

And to the wode he \vil, and wormes ete ; 

So newefangel be thei of her mete. 

And loven non leveres of propre kinde ; 

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 fle, 

And sodeynly he loved this kite soo, 

That al his love is clene fro me goo : 10940 

And hath his trouthe falsed in this wise. 

Thus liathe the kite my love in hir servise. 

And I am lorne withoute remedy." 

10920 — ihilke text. " Boethius. 1. iii, met. 2, 

llepetunt proprios qua'ijuc recursus, 
Redituque suo singula gaudent. 
H)930 — A leaf or two have uiifortunately been lost from the Harli'iMti 
MS. after tliis line, and I am obliged to take the remainder of the tale from 
Tynvhitt, collated with the Lansd. MS. 

109:;:$ — Hon Icvercs — no rations. Tyrwhilt has, loven novclkcg. 


And with that worde this faukou gaii to cry, 

And swowneth eft in Canacees baiTae. 

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 bereth hir in hir lappe, 

And softely in piastres gan hir wrappe, 10950 

Ther as sche with hir bek hadde hurt hir selve. 

Now can nought Canace hot herbes delve 

Out of the grounde, and makeu 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 pejTited greene, 109C0 

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 hii' rynge. 
Til it come eft to purpos for to seyn, 
How that this faukon gat hir love ageyn 
Repentaunt, as the stoiy telleth us, 

10958 — hlewe. Blue was the colour of truth. 

10963,4 — I have followed TjTwhitt 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 crye and chide. 


By mediacioun of Camballus lO^'O 

The kinges sone, of wliicli that I yow tolde ; 

But hennesforth I wil my proces holde 

To spekeu of aventures, and of batailes, 

That yit was never herd so grete mei'vailes. 

First wil I telle yow of Cambynskan, 

That in 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 perU he was, 

Ne had he ben holpen by the hors of bras. 10980 

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 Algarsif s adventures." — Tyrwhitl. 

10981 — of Camballo. "MS. A. reads Caballo. But that is not my 
only reason for suspecting a mistake in this name. It seems clear from 
the context, that the person here intended is not a brother, but a lover, 
of Canace, 

Who fought in listes with the brethren two 
For Canace, or that he might hire winne 
The brethren two are, obviou.<ly, the two brethren of Canace, who have 
been mentioned above, Algarsif and Camballo. In MS. Ask. 1, 2, it is, 
TiiV brethren two ; which would put the matter out of all doubt. Camballo 
could not fight with himself. Again, if this Camballo bo supposed to be 
the brother of Canace, and to fight in defence of her with some two 
brethren, who might be suitors to her, according to Spencers fiction, he 
could not properly be said to toiniic 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 Cambuskan ; the winning of 
Theodora by Algarsif, with the assistance of the horse of brass ; and the 
marriage of Canace to some knight, who was first obliged to fight for her 
with her two brt'lhren ; a method of coiutship very consonant to the 
spirit of ancient chivalry.' — Tyrwhitl. 


For Canace, er that he might hir wynne, 
And ther I left I wol ageyii hegiime. 


"In faith, Squier, thou hast the wel y-quit 
And gentilly, I preise wel thy wit," 
Quod the Frankeleyn, "considering thin youthe, 
So felingly thou spekest, sire, I aloue the 
As to my dome, ther is non that is here, 
Of eloquence that schal he thy pere, ^0990 

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, 
Though it right now were fallen in my hond, 
He were a man of swiche discretion, 
As that ye ben : fie on possession, 
Biit if a man be vertuous withal. 

10981 — In the Lands. MS., in which the Sqiiyeres Tale is followed 
by the tale of the Wyf of Bathe, the following lines are added as a sort 
of conclusion to the former : — 

Bot I wil here now raaake a inotte 

To the time it come next to my lotte ; 

For here be fclawes behinde an hepe treulye, 

That wolde talke ful besilye, 

And have her sporte as wele as I, 

And the daie passeth fast certanly. 

Therefore, oste, taketh nowe goode heede, 

■N^Hio schalle next telle, and late him speede. 
10985 — All from this line to 1. 11020 is omitted in the Lansdowne and 
other MSS., and I have given it chiefly from Tyrwhitt. 


I have my sone snibbed, and j'et shal, 'i^oo 

For lie to vertue listeth not to entend, 

But for to play at dis, and to dispend, 

And lese all that he hath, is his usage ; 

And he had lever talken with a page, 

Than to commune with any gentil wight, 

Ther he might lereTi gentillesse aright." 

" Straw for your gentillesse !" quod our hoste. 
" WTiat? Frankeleyn, parde, sire, wel thou wost, 

That eche of you mote tellen at the lest 

A tale or two, or breken his behest." uoio 

" 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. 11^^20 

" This olde gentil Bretons in here dales 

Of divers aventui*es maden laies, 

Piimyden in her firste Breton tonge ; 

Whiche laies with here instrumentes thei songe. 

Other elles redden hem for her plesance, 

11021 — geniil Bretons. The Breton " laies" here alhuled to were very 
famous in the Middle Ages ; but they involve a question in literary 
history of considerable difliculty, into which we cannot enter on the 
present occasion. 


And one of hem have I in remembrance, 

Which I schal seie Avith goocle 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. 11030 

I lemed never rethorik certeine ; 

Thinge that I speke, it most be bare and pleine, 

I slept never on the mount of Paniaso, 

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 que^Tite ; 

My spirit feleth nought of suche matiere. 

But if you luste my tale schal ye here." UOM 


In Armorik, that clepid is Bretaigne, 
Ther was a knyght, that loved and dede his peyne 
To serven a lady in his beste wise ; 
And many a labom*, many a grete emprise 
He for his lady wrouht, or sche were wonne : 

11034 — Marcits, Tullius, ne Cithero. This is the reading of the 
Lansdowne MS., and I am inclined to think it may he the right one, 
Chaucer's intention being to exhibit the Frankeleyne's ignorance of 
classical literature. 

The Frankeleynes Tale. The lay, from which Chaucer informs us 
that he took this tale, appears to be entirely lost ; but Bocaccio, who 
made up his Decameron from the popular fabliaux and tales of the time, 
has preserved a version of this story in that work, Day. x, 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 hilie kinrede. 

That wele unnethes dorst this knyht for drede 

Tel liir his woo, his peine, and his distresse. 

But at the last, sche for his worthinesse, 11050 

And namely for his meke obeissance, 

Hath suche a pite caught of liis penance, 

That prively sche fel of his accorde 

To take him for hir husbonde and hir lorde, 

(Of suche lordschip as men han over hire wyves); 

And, for to lede the more in blisse her lyves, 

Of his fre wil he swore hire as a knyht. 

That never in his wil be day ne nyht 

Ne scholde he upon him take no maistrie 

Ageines hir wille, ne kythe hire jelousye, 11060 

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 profer me to have als large a reyne, 

Ne wold nevere God betwix us tweyne. 

As in my gulte, were eyther werre or strif : 

Sir, I wil be youre humble trewe wif; ^1070 

Have here my trouthe, til that myn herte bruste." 

Thus ben they bothe in quiete and in ruste. 

For o 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, 11080 

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 every worde men may noulit chide ne pleine. 

Lemeth to suffer, or elles, so most T gon, 

Ye schul it lenie whether ye wol or uon. 11090 

For in this world certein no wight ther is. 

That he ne doth or seyth som time amis. 

Ire, or sikenesse, or constellacioim, 

Wyn, wo, or chaunginge of complexioun, 

Causeth ful oft to don amys or speken. 

On every wronge men maye nouht be wreken ; 

After the time most be temperance 

To every wight that can of governance. 

And therfor hath this worthy ^vise knight 

To liven in ese suffrance hir behight ; lllOO 

And sche to him ful wisely gan to swere, 

That nevere schold ther be defaute in liire. 

Here may men seen an humble wise accorde : 

Thus hath sche take hire servant and hir lorde. 

Servant in love, and lorde in manage. 



Than was he bothe in lordeschipe and servage ? 

Servage ? nay, hut in lordeschip al above, 

Sethen he hath bothe his lady and his love : 

His lady certes, and his \7if also, 

The which that law of love accordeth to. imo 

And whan he was in this prosperite, 

Home with his wif he goth to his centre, 

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, 11120 

Schope him to gon and dwelle a yere or tweyne 
In Engelond, that cleped eke was Bretayne, 
To sake in armes worschipe and honour, 
(For al his lust he set in suche 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 monieth, waketh, waileth, fasteth, pleyneth ; 

11113 — Penmarke. 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 inOorm 
us where the place is situated. In the Lansd. MS. it is called Ki/nred. 


Desire of his presence hir so flistreineth, 

That al this wide world sche set at nouht. 

Hire frendes, which that knewe hir hev^ 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. m-io 

By proces, as ye laiowen everychone. 

Men mowe so longe graven in a stone. 

Til som figure therinne emprinted be : 

So longe have thei comforted hire, that sche 

Receyved hath, by hope and by resoun. 

The emprintinge of hire consolacioun, 

Tborugh which liire grete sorwe gan assuage ; 

Sche may not alway duren in suche rage. 

And eke An^iragus, in al this care. 

Hath sent his lettres home of his welfare, lllM 

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 fantasie : 

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, Hieo 

Hir to disporten on the bank an hihe, 



Wher as sche many a schip and barge sihe, 
Sailinge her cours, wher as hem liste to go. 
But yit 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 bringen home my lorde ? than were rajn herte 
Al warisshed of this bitter peine smerte." 

Another time wold sche sitte and thinke, 
And kast hir eye dounward fro the brinke ; 11170 

But whan sche sawh the grisly roldces 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 biholde. 
And seyn right thus, with careful sikes colde. 

" Etenie God, that thoragh thy purveance 
Ledest this world by certein governance, 
In idel, as men sein, ye nothinge make. 
But, lord, this 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 han ye wrouht this werk unresonablc ? 
For by this werke, southe, northe, este, ne west, 
Ther nis i fostred man, ne brid, ne best : 
It doth no good, to my wit, 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 ; 'l''-"^ 
Which 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 mankiiide ; but how thau may it be. 

That ye suche menes make it to destroyen ? 

Which menes doth no good, but ever anoyen. 

I woot wel, clei'kes wohi 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, u^oo 

As kepe my lord, this is my conclusioun : 

To clerkes lete I al disputisoim : 

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 som where elles. 
They leden hire by rivers and by welles, U2io 

And eke in other places delitables ; 
They dauncen and they pley at ches and tables. 
So on a day, right in the monve tide, 
Unto a gardeyn that was ther beside. 
In which that they had made her ordinance 
Of \dtaile, 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 peinted with his softe schoures 
This gardeyn ful of leves and of floures: 11220 

And craft of mannes bond so curiously 


Arrayed had this gardeyn trewely, 
That never was ther gardeyn of suche pi'is, 
But if it were the verray paradis. 
The odour of floures and the fresshe siht, 
Wold hau 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 11230 

And singe also, sauf Dorigen alone. 
Which made alway hire compleynt and hire nione, 
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. 11240 
He singeth and daunseth passing any man, 
That is or was siththe that the world began ; 
Thenvith he was, if men schuld him descrive, 
On of the beste faringe men on live, 
Yonge, strong, riht virtuous, 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, 11250 

Had loved hire best of any creature 


Two yere and more, as was his adventure : 

But uever 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 wTeye 

His woo, as in a general compleyning ; 

He said, he loved, and was beloved nothing. 

Of suche matier made he many layes, 

Songes, compleyntes, rouudelets, vii'elayes ; il'iso 

How that he dorste not his sonve telle, 

But languissheth as doth a fuyr in helle ; 

And deie he must, he seid, as did Ekko 

For Xarcisus, that dorst nought telle hir wo. 

In other maner than ye here me seye, 

Ne dorst he nouht to hire his wo bewreye, 

Sauf that paraventui*e 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, ^ '"-^'O 

But nothing wiste sche of his entent. 

Natheles it happed, er they thennes went, 

Because that he was hire neighebour. 

And was a man of worschipe and honoiu", 

And had y-knowen him oft times yore, 

Thei felle in speche, and forth ay more and more 

Unto his purpos drowh Aiirelius ; 

And whan he sawh his time, he seide thus. 

11264 — Narcisus. This classic personage was known popularly in 
the Middle Ages, from the circumstance of his haviug 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 Arviragus 
Went over see, that I Aurelius 
Had went ther I schold never come agein ; 
For wel I wot my serNdse is in vein, 
My guerdon nys but bresting of m}Ti herte. 
Madame, reweth upon my peines 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 AureUus ; 

" Is this your wil," quod sche, "and say ye thus ? 
Never erst," quod sche, " ne ^ist I what ye ment : 
But now, Aurelie, I know your enteut. 
But thilke God, that gave me soule and lif, 
Ne schal I never ben mitrewe 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 : ii^oo 

" Aurelie," quod sche, " by liihe God above, 
Yit vidl I graunte you to be your love, 
(Sin I yow see so pitously compleyne), 
Loke, what day that endelong Breteigne 
Ye remewe al the rokkes, ston by ston. 
That they ne letten schip ne bote to gon, 
1 say, whan ye have maad this cost so clene 
Of rokkes, that ther nys no ston y-seue, 


Than wol I love yow best of any man, 

Have here my trouthe, in al that ever I can; lisio 

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 wif, 

That hath hir body whan that ever him liketh?" 

Aurelius ful often sore siketh ; 

" Is tlier 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 with a sonveful herte he thus answerde. 11320 

" Madame," quod he, " this were an impossible. 
Than moste I deie of sodeyn deth horrible." 
And with that word he turned him anon. 
Tho come liir other freudes many on, 
And in the alleyes romed up and doun, 
And nothing wist of this conclusioun, 
But sodepily began to revel newe. 
Til that the brighte soune had lost liis hewe. 
For the orizont had reft the sonue his liht, 
(This is as much to sayn as it was nyht) ; 11330 

And home thei gon in joye and solas ; 
Sauf only wrecche Am-elius, alas I 
He to his hous is gon with sorn-eful herte. 
He saith, he may not from his deth asterte. 
Him semeth, that he felt his herte colde. 
Up to the heven his handes gan he holde. 
And on his knees bare he set him doun. 
And in liis raving seid his orisoun, 


For verray wo out of his witte he braide, 

He nyst nouht what he spak, but thus he seide ; 1^340 

With pitous herte his pleyut hath he begoune 

Unto the goddes, aud first unto the sonne. 

He seid, " Apollo, God and govemour 

Of every plaute, herbe, tre, and floui', 

That givest after thy declinacioun 

To eche of hem Ms tyme and sesoun, 

As that thin herbergh chaungeth low and hihe ; 

Lord Phebus, cast thy merciable eye 

On wrecche Am-elie, which that am for dome. 

Lo, lord, my lady hath my deth y-swome usoo 

Withouten gilt, but thy benignite 

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 de\ise 

How that I may be holpe and in what wise. 

Your bhsful suster, Lucina the schene, 

That of the see is chief goddes and qwene : — 

Though Neptimus have deite in the see, 

Yit emperes aboven him is sche : 11360 

Ye knowe wel, lord, that right as hir desu-e 

Is to be quiked and lihted of your fire, 

For which sche folwith yow ful besily. 

Right so the see desireth natiu-elly 

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 sigue schal be of the Lyouu, 11>J'<J 

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 hest, the rokkes ben away. 

Lord Phebus, this miracle doth for me, 

Prey hire sche go no faster conrs than ye ; 

I sey this, preyeth your suster that sche go 

No faster cours than ye this yeres tuo : U380 

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 adoim 

Into hir owen darke regioun 

Under the grounde, ther Pluto duelleth imie, 

Or nevermo schal I my lady wynne. 

Thy temple in Delphos wil I barfote seke ; 

Lord Phebus, se the teres on my cheke, 11390 

And on my peyne have some compassioun." 

And with that word in sorwe 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 he hath him brouht. 

Dispeired in this turmeut and this thouht. 

Let I tliis woful creature lye, 

Chese he for me whether he wol leve or deyc. 


Arviragus with hele and grete honour 
(As he that was of chevalrie the flour) H-iou 

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 armes. 
That loveth the, as his owen hertes lif : 
Nothing list him to be imaginatif, 
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 chore, mio 
And thus in joye and blisse I let hem dwelle, 
And of the sike Aurelius wol I telle. 
In langour and in turment fiirius 
Two yere and more lay wrecche Aui'elius, 
Er any foot on erthe he mighte gon ; 
Ne comfort in tliis 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 ; 11420 

Under liis brest he bar it more secre. 
Than ever dede Pamphilus for Galathe. 

11422 — Pamphilus /or Galathi. The allusion is to a popular medie. 
val poem commonly known by the name of Pamphilus, 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 as.sidue plaga dolorque mihi ; 
Et ferientis adhuc nou audeo dicere iiomeii, 
Nee sinit aspectus plaga videre sues. 


His brest was hole withouten for to sene, 

But in his herte ay was the ai-we kene ; 

And wel ye wote that of a sursanure 

In surgerie ful perilous is the cure, 

But men myght touche the anve or come therhy. 

His brother wepeth and weyleth prively. 

Til at the last him fel in remembraiince, 

That whiles he was in Orleaunce in Fraunce, m^o 

As yonge clerkes, that ben likerous 

To reden artes that ben curious, 

Seken in every halke and every heme 

Particulere sciences for to leme, 

He him remembreth, that upon a day 

At Orleaunce in studie a boke he 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; 11440 

Which book spak moche of operaciouns 

Touchinge the eight and twenty mansiouns 

That longen to the mone, and suche folie 

As in oure dayes nys not worth a flye : 

For holy cherches feith, 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 celebrated and very ancient 
university at Orleans, which fell into disrepute as the university of Paris 
became famous, and the rivalry probably led to the imputation that the 
occult sciences were cultivate<l at Orleans. 


And to him self he seide prively ; 
" My brother schal be warisshed hastely : iiiso 

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 ^vel hei'd seyn, 
That tregetoures, within an halle large, 
Have made come in a water and a barge, 
And in the halle rowen 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 ; lueo 
Som time a castel al of lime and ston, 
And whan hem liketh voideth it anon : 
Thus semeth it to eveiy mannes sight. 
Now than conclude I thus, if that I might 
At Orleaimce som olde felaw finde, 
That hath tliis mones mansions in mvnde, 
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'470 
Of Breteigne were y-voided everichon, 
And schippes by the brinke comen and gon. 
And in suche foiTue 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 suche comfort he gaf him, for to gon 
To Orleaunce, that he up stert anon, luso 

And on his way forth \s'ard than is lie fare. 
In hope for to ben lissed of his care. 
Whan they were come almost to that cite, 
But if it were a tuo fui'long or thre, 
A yonge clerke roming by himself they mette. 
Which that in Latine thriftily hem grette. 
And after that he seyd a wonder thinge ; 
■ I know," quod he, " the cause of your comynge :" 
And er they forther any foote went. 
He told hem al that was in her entent. 11490 

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 which he wept ful often many a tere. 

Doun of his hors Aurelius light anon, 
And forth with this magicien is he gon 
Home to liis 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. 11500 

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 with 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, 
Thise faukoners upon a faire rivere, 


That with hir haukes han the heron slein. 

Tho saw he knyhtes justen in a pleyn. iioio 

And after this he dede him suche plesaunce, 

That he him schewed his lady in a daunce, 

On which liim selven daunced, as him thouht. 

And whan this maister, that this magik wrouht. 

Saw it was time, he clapped his hondes two, 

And fare wel, al the revel is ago. 

And yet remued they never out of the hous, 

'V^^Iiles they sawe alle tliis sightes mervelous ; 

But in his stodie, ther his bokes be, 

They saten stilie, and no wight but they thre. u^^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." ii^so 

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, 

11535 — Thf liifiiiia ill 11u> Harl. MS. ends with this line. 


Ne gladly for that somme be wolde not goon. 
Aurilius with blisful hert anoon 
Answerde thus : " Fy on a thousand pound ! 
This wjde world, wliich that men say is round, UoiO 
I wold it give, if I were lord of it. 
This bargeyn is fill dryve, for we ben Imyt ; 
Ye schal be payed trewly by my trouthe. 
But loketh now, for necligence or slouthe. 
Ye tarie us heer no lenger than to morwe." 
" Nay," quod this clerk, "have her my faith to borwe." 
To bed is goon Aurilius whan him leste. 
And wel neigh al night he had his reste. 
What for liis labour, and his hope of blisse, 
His woful hert of penaunce had a lisse. 11550 

Upon the monve, whan that it was day, 
To Breteign take thei the righte way, 
Amilius, 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, u^eo 

Wher as he schon ful pale, I dar wel sayn. 
The bitter frostes with the sleet and rayn 
Destroyed hath the grene in every yerd. 
Janus sit by the fujT." \\ith double herd. 
And drynketh of his bugle horn the wyn : 
Biforn him stent the braun of toskid swyn. 


And 7iou-el crietb every lusty man. 

Auvilius, in al that ever he can, 

Doth to his maister chier and reverence, 

And pe^Tieth him to dooa his dihgence U570 

To hringen 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 tyme 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 ^vight schold wene and saye. 
That of Breteygn the roldves were awaye, 11580 

Or elles they sonkeu 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 coiTected, 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 iisoo 

11585 — His tables Tollitanes. " TLe As(ronomic;il Tables, composed 
by onler of Alphonso X, king of Castile, about tbe middle of the xmth 
century, ■ncre called sometimes Tabula; Toletance, from their being 
adapted to the city of Toledo. There is a very elegant copy of them in 
MS. Hnrl. 3C47. 1 am not sufficiently skilled in ancient astronomy to 
add anything to the explanation of the following technical terms, drawn 
chiefly from those tables, nhich has been given in the Addit. to Gloss. 
Urr." — Tyrwhilt. See our Glossary, under Exfans yeeres. 


For her equaciouns iu every thing. 

And by his thre speeres in bis \Yorcbing, 

He knew ful wel how far 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 proporcioun ; 

And knew the arisyiig of this moone wel, 

And in whos face, and tei*me, and every del ; n^oo 

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 dares. 

For which no lenger maked he delayes. 

But thui'gh his magik, for a mke or tweye. 

It semed that the rokkes were aweye. 

Aurilius, which yet dispayred is 
Wher he schal han his love or fare amys, 11610 

Awayteth night and day on tliis mLracle : 
And whan he Imew 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. 
11593 — Allnath. The first star in the horns of Aries, whence the first 
mansion of the moon is named. 

11595— /oHr<;i€. Tyrwhitt, with MS. Lansd., reads ninthe. 

N 2 


That me ban holpe fro my cares colde." 
And to the temple his way forth he hath hohle, 
Wher as he knew he schold his lady se. 
And whan he saugh his tyme, anoon right he UG20 
With di'edful hert and with ful humble cheere 
Salued hath liis owne lady deere. 
" My soverayn lady," quod this woful man, 
" Whom I most di'ede, 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 by goon, 
But cartes outher most I dye or pleyne ; 
Ye sleen me gulteles for verrey peyne. 11630 

But of my deth though that ye have no routhe, 
Avyseth yow, or that ye breke yom- trouthe : 
Eepenteth yow for thilke God above, 
Or ye me sleen, bycause that I you love. 
For, madame, wel ye woot what ye han hight ; 
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 youi- trouthe plighte ye, ^^^"^ 

To love me best ; God woot ye sayde so, 
Al be that I unworthy am therto ; 
Madame, I speke it for thonour of yow, 
More than to save m^-n hertes 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 mynde, 
For quyk or deed, right ther ye schul me fyude : 
In yow lith al to do me lyve or deye ; 
But wel I wot the rokkes ben aweye." H^so 

He taketh his leve, and sche astoned stood ; 
In alle hu- face nas oon drop 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 monstre or men'eyl mighte be ; 
It is agayns the proces of natui'e." 
And horn sche goth a soiTN'ful creatm*e, 
For verray fere unnethe may sche go. 
Sche wepeth, wayleth al a day or tuo, iieoo 

And swowneth, that it routhe was to see : 
But why it was, to no wight tolde sche, 
For out of toune was goon Arviragiis. 
But to hir self sche spak, and sayde thus, 
With face pale, and with ful sorwful chiere, 
In hir compleint, as ye schul after hiere. 

"Alias !" quod sche, " on the, fox'tune, I pleyne, 

That unwar wrapped me hast in thy cheyne, 

Fro which tescape, woot I no socour. 

Save oonly deth, or elles dishonour : 11670 

Oon of these tuo bihoveth me to chese. 

But natheles, yet have I lever leese 

My lif, than of my body to have schame, 

Or knowe my solve fals, or lese my name ; 

And with my deth I may be quyt i-wys. 

Hath ther not many a noble wyf, er this, 


And many a mayden, slayu hir self, alias ! 

Rather than with her body doon trespas ? 

Yis certeynly ; lo, stories beren witnes. 

Whan thritty tirauntz ful of cursednes 11680 

Hadde slayu Phidon in Athenes atte fest, 

Thay comaunded his doughtres to arest, 

And bryngen hem bifom 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 Tvoful maydens, ful of drede, 

Rather than they wolde lese her maydenhede, 

They prively ben stert into a welle. 

And drenched hem seKen, as the bookes 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 drede ? 

" Lo eek the tyraunt Aristoclides, 
That loved a mayden heet Stimphalides, ii'Of' 

Whan that hir father slayn was on a niglit, 
Unto Dyanes temple goth sche right, 
And hent the ymage in hir hondes tuo, 
Fro which ymage wold sche never go. 

11670 — tloriet herin wilnet. Thry are all laki u from Hieronymv 
contra Jovinianum, 1. i, c. 39. 


No wight might of it hir houcles race, 

Til sche was slajTi right in the selve place. 

Now sith that maydens hadde such despit 

To ben defouled with marnies foul delit, 

Wei aught a wyf rather hir self to sle, 

Than be defouled, as it thenketh me. ii7io 

" What schal I seyu of Hasdrubaldes wyf, 
That at Cartage byi-aft 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, whanne sche oppressid was 
Of Tarquyn ? for hir thought it was a schame 
To lyven, whan sche hadde lost hir name. 11730 

" The seven maydens of Milesie also 
Han slayn hem self for verray drede and wo, 
Piather than folk of Gawle hem schulde oppresse. 
Mo than a thousand stoiies, 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. n^so 

What schold I mo ensamples herof sayn ? 
Seththen so many han hem selven slayn 
Wei rather than they wolde defouled be, 
I wol conclude that it is best for me 


To sleu my self than be clefouled thus. 
I wol be trewe unto Arviragus, 
Or rather sle my self in som manere, 
As dede Demociouis 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 maydeuhede redressed. 
What schal I sayn of Niceratis wif. 
That for such caas biraft hir self hir lyf ? n^so 

How trewe eek was to Alcebiades 
His love, that for to dyen rather ches, 
Thau for to suffre his body unburied be ? 
Lo, which a \vif was Alceste?" quod sche, 
" What saith Omer of good Penolope ? 
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; il^eo 

Withoute Brutus coude sche not lyve. 
To whom sche had al hool hir herte gyve. 

11761 — The Harl. MS. reads this line, apparently incorrectly, wilhouk 
Brutes kynde nrhe wyghl not lyve. 


The paifyt wyfhod of Artemesye 
Honoured is thurgli al the Barbarie. 

Teuta queen, thy wifly chastite 
To alle wyves may a mirour be." 

Thus playned Dorigen a day oi* tweye, 
Pui*posyng ever that sche wolde deye ; 
But natheles upon the thridde night 
Horn cam Arviragus, the worthy knight, 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 bom ! 
Thus have I sayd," quod sche, "thus have I swom;" 
And told him al, as ye han herd bifora: 
It nedeth nought reherse it you no more. 

This housbond with glad chiere in good wise 
Answerd and sayde, as I schal you de\'yse. 

" 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 wel peraunter yet to day, 
Ye schal your 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 I to you have, 

11765— Teuta. Tlie Harl. MS. reads O Thena. 
11766 — To alle wives. '• After this verse the two following are found 
in several MSS., — 

The same thing I say of BiUa, 
Of Rhodogone and of Valeria. 
But as they are wanting in MSS. A. C. 1 Ask. 1, 2, HA. I was not unwill- 
ing to leave them out." — Tyrwhitl. 


But if ye scbolde your trouthe kepe aud save. 
Trouthe is the heighest thing that men may kepe." 
But ^vith that word he gan anoon to wepe, moo 

And sayde, " I yow forbedt up peyne of deth, 
That never whil ye lasteth lyf or breth, 
To no vdght telle you of this aventure. 
As I may best I wil my woo endure. 
Ne make no conteuaunce 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 biyngeth hir to sucli a place anoon." 
Thay take her leve, and on her wey they gon : nsoo 
But thay ne wiste why sche thider went, 
He nolde no wight tellen his entent. 

This squyer, which that hight Aurilius, 
On Dorigen that was so amerous, 
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 hight. 

] 1802 — He nolde. " After this verse Ed. Ca. 2 has the six following : 

Peraventure an hepe of you I wis, 

Will hoklen him a lewed man in this, 

Tliat he woll put his wife in joopardie. 

Herkneth the tale, or ye upon him crie. 

Sche may have better fortune than you semeth; 

And whan that ye han hcrde the tale demcth. 
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, he would probably, upon more mature consideration, 
have suppressed them, as unnecessarily anticipating the catastrophe of 
the tale." — Tyrwhitt. 



And he was to the gardyn-ward also ; 

For wel he spyed whan sche wolde go ^^^i*^ 

Out of hir hous, to eny maner place. 

But thus thay mctte of adventure or grace, 

And he salueth hir ^nth glad entent, 

And askith liire 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 gan wondreu on this caas. 

And in his hert had gret compassiouu 

Of hire, and of hir lamentacioun, 11820 

And of Ai-viragus 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 frauuchis of alle gentilesce ; 
For which in fewe wordes sayd he thus. 
'• Madame, saith to your lord Arviragus, 11830 

That sith I se his gi'ete gentilesse 
To you, and eek I se wel your distresse, 
That him 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 byt\\ix yow tuo, 
I yow relesse, madame, into your bond 
Quyt every seurement and eveiT bond, 


That ye han maacl to me as herbiforu, 

Sith tliilke tyme which that ye were boni. 11840 

]\Iy trouthe I phght, I schal yow never repreve 

Of uo hyhest, and her I take my leve, 

As of the trewest and the beste wif 

That ever yit I knew in al my lyf. 

But eveiy wj^f 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 knees al bare, 
And hoom mito liir housbond is sche fare, 11850 

x\ud 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 wif 
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. iiseo 

Aurilius, that his cost hath al for-lorn, 
Curseth the tyme that ever he was bom. 
" 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 sella, 
And ben a begger, her may I not duelle, 


And schamen al my kynrecle in this place, 

But I of him may gete better grace. IIS'O 

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 graimte him dayes of the remenaunt ; 

And sayde : " Maister, I dar wel make avaunt, nsso 

I fayled never of my trouthe as yit. 

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 semte 

Tuo yer or thre for to respite me, 

Than vrere I wel, for elles most I selle 

Mvn heritage, ther is nomore to telle," 
This Philosophre sobrely answerde, 

And seyde thus, whan he these wordes herde ; usoo 
" Have I not holden covenaimt 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 ban herd bifore. 

It needeth nat to you reherse it more. 


He sayde, Arviragus of gentilesse 
Had lever dye in sorwe and in distresse, 11900 

Thau that his wyf were of hir trouthe fals. 
The soi-we of Dorigen he tolde him als, 
How loth hir was to ben a wikked wyf, 
And that sche lever had han lost hir lyf ; 
And that hir trouthe sche swor thm'gh innocence ; 
Sche never eret hadde herd speke of apparence : 
" That made me han of hir 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, ther is no more to sayn." ii9io 
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 \d\ not take a peny of the 11920 

For al my craft, ne nought for al my travayle : 
Thou hast y-payed wel for my \-itayle. 
It is y-nough, and fai' wel, have good day." 
And took his hors, and forth he goth his way. 
Lordynges, tliis questioun wolde I axe now, 

1 1908 — And right as. MS. Harl. reads this and the next linp, — 
Bycause hir housebond sente hir to me, 
And right as frely sent I hir to him ageyn. 


"Which was the moste free, as thiuketh yow ? 
Now telleth me, er that I ferther wende. 
I cau no more, my tale is at an ende. 


The minister and the uorice ujito ^•ices, 
Which that men clepe in Englisch ydelnesse, 11930 
The porter at the gates is of delicis ; 
To eschiewe, and by her contraiy hire oppresse, 
That is to say, by leful besynesse, 
Wei oughte we to do al oiu'e 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 cacehe him in his trappe. 
Til that a man be hent right by the lappe, 11940 

He is nought ware the fend hath him in honde : 
Wei oughte we wirche, and ydelnes withstonde. 

11926 — Which was the moste free. TynvHtt remarks that, The same 
question is stated in the conclusion of Boccace's tale. Philoc. 1, v. 
Dubitasi era qual di costoro fusse maggior liberalita, &c. The queen 
detennines in favour of the husband." It may be further observed that 
this conclusion of the story gives it the character of those questions which 
were usually debated in the medieval courts of love. 

The Secounde Nonnes Tale. This is almost a literal translation from 
the life of St. Cecilia in the Legenda Aurea. It appears to have been 
first composed by Chaucer as a separate work, and is enumerated as such 
in the Legende 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 Harleian MS. difi"ers 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 dredde never for to deye. 
Yet seen men wel by resoun douteles, 
That ydelues is rote of sloggardye. 
Of which ther cometh never good encres ; 
And sin that sleuth he holdeth in a lees, 
Oouly to sleep, and for to ete and dxynke. 
And to devoure al that other swynke. 

And for to put us from such ydelnes, ii^-'*^ 

That cause is of so gret confusioun, 
I have her doon my faithful busyues 
After the legende in translacioun 
Right of this glorious lif and passioun. 
Thou with thi gai'lond, wi'ought with rose and lylye. 
The mene I, mayde and martir Cecilie. 

And thou, that flour of virgines art alle. 
Of whom that Bernard lust so wel to write, 
To the at my bygynn}^lg first I calle : 
Thou comfort of us wrecches, do me endite ii^eo 
Thy maydenes deth, that wan thurgh hii*e meiite 
Thetemal lif, and of the feend victorie, 
As man may after reden in hii* 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 eveiy 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.ii970 

11958 — Bernard. Some of the most eloqueDt of the serraons of St. 
Bernard are on the nativity and assumption of the Virgin. 


Witliimie the cloj'ster of tlii blisful sydes, 
Took mannes schap 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 mayden pm-e, 
The creatour of eveiy creature. 

Assembled is in the magnificence 
With mercy, goodnes, and with such pitee, 
That thou, that art the soune of excellence, ^^^^^ 
Not oonly helpist hem that prayen the, 
But often tyme of thy benignite 
Ful frely, er that men thin 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 from her lordes table ben i-falle ; 
And though that I, unworthy sone of Eve, H^^o 

Be synful, yet accepte my bileve. 

And for that faith is deth withouten werkis. 
So for to werken give we witt and space, 
That I be quit fro thennes that most derk is ; 
O thou, that art so fair and ful of grace, 
Be myn advocat in that hihe place, 
Ther as A\-ithouten ende is songe Osanne, 
Thou Cristes moder, doughter deere of Anne. 

11987 — the womman. Conniipc. The Harl. MS. reads erroneously the 
iromman C'anare. 


And of tlii light my soule in pnsoun liglit, 
That troubled is by the contagiouu 12000 

Of my body, and also by the wight 
Of everich lust and fals affeccioun : 
heven of refuyt, salvaciouu 
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 hir story se : 
It is to say on Englisch, hevenes lilie, 
For pure chastenesse of virginite. 
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 techyng(? ; 
Or elles Cecily, as I writen fynde. 
Is joyned by a maner conjoynynge 
Of heven and lya, and hei'e in figurynge 
The heven is sette for thought of holynesse, 

12013 — Oie name. These punning explanations of proper names were 
very fashionable in the Middle Ages. In the present instance, they are 
translated iliri'ctly from tlie prolof,'UC to the Latin legend. 


And lya, for hir lastyng besynesse. 

Cecili may eek be seycl iu tliis manere, 
AVautyng of blyndnes, for hir grete light 
Of sapience, and of thilke thewes cleere. 
Or elles lo, this maydenes name bright \1QZQ 

Of heven and los comes, for which by right 
Men might hir wel the heven of peple calls, 
Ensample of goode and wise werkes alle : 

For leos peple in Englissh is to say ; 
And right as men may in the heven see 
The Sonne and moone, and sterres every way, 
Plight SO men gostly, in this maj^den free 
Seen of faith the magnanimite, 
And eek the clemes hool of sapience, 
And sondry werkes, bright of excellence. 12040 

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 round and hool in good perseverynge, 
And brennyng ever in charite ful bright : 
Now have I yow declared what sche hight. 

This mayden bright Cecilie, 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 pi'ayer, and God to love and drede, 
Byseching him to kepe hir maydenhede. 

And whan this niayde schuld unto a man 



Y-wedded be, that was ful j'ong of age, 

Which that i-cleped was Valirian, 

Aud day was comen of hir manage, 

Sche ful devout and humble in hir currage, 

Under hir robe of gold, that sat ful faire, 12060 

Hadde next hir fleissh i-clad hir in an lieire. 

And whil the organs made melodic, 
To God alloon in herte thus sang sche ; 

" O 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 pi'ively to him sche sayde anoon ; 

" O swete and wel biloved spouse deere, 
Ther is a counseil, aud ye wold it heere. 
Which that right fayn I wold unto you saye. 
So that ye swere ye schul it not bywraye." 

Valirian gan fast unto hir swere. 
That for no caas ue 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 

Thiit 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. Tliis line has been omiUed by the scribe of the Harl. MS., the 
next line there commencing 7/ ye mc louche. 


That ye me touclie oi' love in vilonye, 

He light anoou wil sle you with the detle, 

And in youre youthe thus schulde ye dye. 

And if that ye in clene love me gye, 

He wol 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 be, 
Than wol I doon as thou hast prayed me ; 
And if thou love another man, forsothe 
Right with this swerd than wol I slee you bothe." 
Cecilie answerd anoon right 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 T 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 han 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 lemynge. 
He fond this holv old Urban anoon 


Among the seyntes buriels lotynge : 
And he anoon withoute taryinge 
Did his message, and wlian that he it tolde, 
Urban for joye his handes gan upholde. 
The teres from his eygheu let he falle ; 
" Almyghty Lord, o Jhesu Crist," quod he, 
" Sower of chaste counseil, herde of us alle, 12120 

The fniyt of thilke seed of chastite 
That thcHi hast sowe in Cecilie, tak to the : 
Loo, like a busy bee withouten gyle 
The serveth ay thin owne tkral Cecile. 

" For thilke spouse, that sche took right now 
Fill lyk a fers lyoun, sche sendeth here 
As meek as ever was eny 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, ^2130 
And gan to-fom VaUrian to stonde. 

Valirian, as deed, fyl doun for drede, 
Whan he him say ; and he him uj) liente tho, 
And on his book right thus he gan to rede ; 
" On Lord, feith, oou God -svithouten 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, 

121 11 — lotynge. The Latin legend has, inter sepidchra martyrum 
latitantem invenit. 

12138 — 12144. These lines are omitted in MS. Hail, hv the inad- 
■vertence of the scribe. 


" Levest thou this thing or uo ? say ye or naye." 12140 

" I leve al this thing," quod Valirian, 

" For sother thing than this, I dare wel saye, 

Under the heven no Anght thenken maye." 

Tho vanysched the old man, he nyste where, 

And pope Urban him cristened right there. 
Valirian goth home, and lint Cecilie 

Withinne liis chambre ^Nith an aungel stonde : 

This aungel had of roses and of liUe 

Corounes tuo, the which he bar in honde. 

And first to Cecilie, as I understonde, 12I0O 

He gaf that oon, and after can he take 

That other to Valirian liir 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 savoui", tinisteth me, 

Ne never wight schal seen hem with his ye, 

But he be chast, and hate vilonye. 

" And thou Valirian, for thou so soone 12ICO 

Assentedist to good counseil, also 

Say what the list, and thou schalt have thi boone." 
" I have a brother," quod Valirian tho, 
" That in this world I love no man so, 

I pray yow that my brother may have grace 

To kuowe the trouthe, as I doo in this place." 
The aungel sayde, " God liketh thy request, 

And bothe with the palme of marlirdom 


Ye schulleu 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 tne lilies cast, 

Withiuue his hert he gan to wondre fast. 
And sayde, " I wondre this tyme of the yer, 

Whennes this soote savour cometh so 

Of rose and lilies, that I smelle her ; 

For though I had hem in myn hondes tuo, 

The savom* might in me no depper go : 

The swete smel, that in myn hert I fynde, 

Hath chaunged me al in another kynde." ^^l*"^ 

Valirian 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 thui'gh my prayere, 
So schalt thou seen hem, lieve brothere deere. 
If it so be thou wilt withouten slouthe 
Bilieven aright, and knowen verray trouthe." 
Tybui'ce answerde, " Says thou thus to me 
In sothenes, or in drem I herkne this ?" 

" In dremes," quod Valirian, "han we be 12190 

Unto this tpne, brother myn, i-wys : 
But now at erst in trouthe oure duellyng is." 

" How wost thou this," quod Tybm'ce, "andinAvhatwise?" 

12169 — hlisful feste. This is the reading of the Harl. and Lan&d. MSS. 
The words of the Latin legend are, — Cui angelus, I'lacet Uoiuino petitio 
fua, et anibo cum paltna martyrii ad Dominum venietis. Tyrwhitt 
reads, rest. 


Quod Valirian, " That schal I the devyse. 

" The auugel of God hath me trouthe y-taught, 
Which thou schalt seen, if that thou wilt reneye 
The ydols, and be clene, and tiles nought." 
And of the miracles of these corones tweye 
Seynt Ambrose in his prefas list to seye ; 
Solempuely tliis noble doctour deere *2200 

Comendeth it, and saith in this maneere. 

" The palme of mailirdom for to receyve, 
Seynt Cecilie, fulfilled of Goddes gifte, 
The world and eek hir chamber gan sche weyve ; 
Witnes Tyburces and Cecilies shiifte. 
To whiche God of his bounte wolde schifte 
Corounes tuo, of floures wel smellyuge, 
And made his aungel home the croune bryuge." 

The mayde hath brought this men to blisse above ; 
The world hath wist what it is worth certeyn, 12210 
Devocioun of chastite to love. 
Tho schewed him CecUie al open and pleyn, 
That alle ydoles nys but thing in veyn ; 
For thay ben doumbe, and therto they ben deve. 
And chargeth him liis 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 kisse his brest that herde this, 
And was ful glad he couthe trouthe espye : 
" This day I take the for myn allye," 12220 

12198. Tlae lines which follow, and which interrupt the narration 
very awkwardly, are translated almost literally from the Latin legend, iu 
which Tyrwhitt supposes them to have been originally ;;n interpolation. 


Sayde this blisful faire mayde deere ; 
And after that sche sayde as ye may heere. 
" Lo, right so as the love of Ciist," quod sche, 

" Made me thy brotheres v,yf, right in that wyse 
Auoou for myn allye heer take I the, 
Sin that thou -wilt thyne ydoles despise. 
Go with tlii brother now and the baptise. 
And make the cleue, so that thou mowe biholde 
The aungeles face, of which thy brother tolde." 

Tyburce answerde, and sayde, "Brother dere, 12230 
Fii'st tel me whider I schal, and to what man." 

'• To whom ?"' quod he, " com forth with good cheere, 
I wol the lede unto the pope Urban." 

" Til Urban? brother myn Yalirian," 
Quod Tiburce, "wilt thou me tliider 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 I'eed, 
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 Cecilia answerde boldely, 

12237 — A'e menist. De illo Urbano dicis.qui tolieui dainuatus est, ct 
adinic in latebris commoratur? — Lai, Lig. 

I22i7—huldeli/. The Harl. MS. reads, bodyli/. 


Meu migliten dreclen wel aud skilfully 

This lyf to lese, myn ouglme dere brother, 

If this were lyvjnig 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 procede, 
Hath sowled hem withouten eny drede. 

" By word and miracle hihe Goddes sone, 
Whan he was in this world, declared heere. 
That ther was other lyf ther men may wone." 12260 
To whom answerde Tyburce, " O suster deere, 
Ne seydest thou right now in this manere, 
Ther nys but oon God, o Lord, in sothfastnesse. 
And now of thre how maystow 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. 

12266 — sapiences thre. In the original Larin it is, Eespoudit Cecilia, 
Sicut in una hominis sapientia sunt tria, scilicet ingenium, niemoria, et 
intellectus, sic in una Jivinitatis essentia tres persona; esse possent. In 
1. 15807, the Harl. MS reads erroneously eyen for engin. 

12271 — come. So the Harl. MS., corroctlj-. In the Lat. legend it is. 
Tunc cepit ei de adventu filii Dei et passione prcedicare. Tyrwhitt reads 


And many pointes of his passioiui; 
How Goddes soue iu this world was withholde 
To doon mankynde pleyn remissioun, 
That was i-bounde in synue and cares colde. 
Al this thing sehe unto Tyburce tolde, 
And after this Tibiu'ce 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 hi that place 12280 
Parfyt in his lemynge, Goddes knyght. 
And after this Tiburce gat such grace. 
That every day he say in tyme and space 
The aungel of God, and eveiy manor 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 playne, 
The sergeantz of the tomi of Rome hem soughte. 
And hem byfom Almache the prefect broughte, 12290 
Which hem apposed, and knew alle here entente. 
And to the ymage of Jubiter hem sente ; 

And saide, " Who so ml not saciifise, 
Swope of his heved, this my sentence heere." 
Anoon these martires, that I you devise, 
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. 

12207 — corniciihrc. 'I'lif Harl. MS. has vounciiUrc. 


Whan Maximus had herd the seintes lore, 12300 
He gat him of his tormentoures leve, 
And bad hem to his hous \\-ithouten more ; 
And with her preching, er that it were eve, 
Thay gonne fro the tormentoures to reve, 
And fro Maxima, and fro his folk echoone, 
The false faith, to trowe in God alloone. 

Cecilie cam, whan it was waxen night. 
With prestis, that hem cristenid alle in feere ; 
And aftei-ward, whan day was waxen light, 
Cecilie hem sayde with a ful stedefast chere ; 12310 
' Now, Cristes owne knyghtes leef and deei'e, 
Cast al away the wei'kes of derknes, 
And aiTnith you in armur of brightnes, 

" Ye hau forsothe y-doon a greet batayle ; 
Youi'e cours is doou, youre faith han ye conserved ; 
Goth to the coroiui 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 thing was sayd, as I devyse, 
Men ladde hem forth to doon the sacrifise, 12320 

But whan they were to the place y-brought. 
To telle schortly the conclusioun. 
They nolde enceuse, 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. 

12302 — bad. Tvrwhitt reads ?a--? ; and the Lansd. MS. has ^ni/rfe. 



This Maximus, that say this thing betyde, 
With pilous teeres tolde it auoou right, 
That he here soules saugh to heven glyde 12330 

With aungels, ful of clerues and of light ; 
And \\ith his word converted many a wight. 
For which Almachius dede him so bete, 
With whippes of leed, til he his lif gan lete. 

Cecilie him took, and buried him anoon 
By Tibm"ce 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 \dse lore, 
Wepten ful sore, and gaven ful credence 
Unto hir word, and cryden more and more ; 

" Crist, Goddes sone, withouten difference, 
Is ven-ay God, this is al oure sentence. 
That hath so good a servaunt him to serve : 
Thus with oon vois we troweu though we sterve." 

Almachius, that herd of tliis doynge, 
Bad fecchen Cecilie, that he might hir se : 123.50 

And alther-first, lo, this was his axinge ; 

" What maner womman art thou ?" quod he. 

" I am a gentil-womman bom," quod sche. 

" I axe the," quod he, " though the it greve, 

12333 — ,0 hele. The Lansd. MS has so to-bete, and Tyrwhitt adopts 
dede him lo-bete. 

12331. — whippes of leed. Eum pbimbatis tamdiu caedi fecit quous<]ue 
spiritum excussit — Lat. Leg. 


Of thi religioun and of thi byleve." 

" Ye ban Itygoune your qucstioun folily," 
Quod sclie, " that wolden tuo answers conclude 
In 00 demaunde? ye axen lewedly." 
Almache answerde to that similitude, 
' Of whens cometh thin answering so rude ?" 12360 
' 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 manues power nys 
But lyk a bladder ful of wynd i-wis : 
For with a nedeles 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 oure mighty princes fre 
Han thus comaunded and maad ordinaunce, 
That every cristen Avight schal han penaunce ; 
But if that he his Cristendom withseye, 
And goon al quyt, if he "wil it reneye ?" 

" Y'oure princes erre, as youre nobleye doth," 
Quod tho Cecilie ; " and \vith a wood sentence 
Ye make us gulty, and it is nought soth : 
For ye that knowen wel oure innocence, 12380 

Forasmoche 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 withseye." 

Almacbe sayde, " Cheese oon of these tuo, 

Do sacrifice or Cristendom reneye, 

That thou mow now eschapen by that weye." 

At which the holy blisful faire mayde 

Gan for to laughe, and to the jugge sayde: 12390 

" O jiigge confus in tliis nycete, 
Wilt thou that I refuse innocence ? 
To make me a wikked wight," quod sche, 
" Lo, he dissimuleth beer in audience, 
He staritli and woodith in his advertence." 
To whom Almachius sayde, " Uusely wrecche, 
Ne wostow nought how fer my might may strecche ? 

"Han nought our mighty princes to me y-given. 
Ye, bothe power and eek auctorite 
To maken folk to deyen or to lyA^en ? 12100 

Why spekestow so proudly than to me ? " 
" I speke 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 ban i-give the might 
Bothe for to sleen and eek to quike a wight, 
Thou that ne maist but oonly lif byreve, 12410 

Thou hast noon other power ne no leve. 

" But thou maist sayn, thi princes ban the maked 
Minister of deth : for if thou speke of moo, 
Thow liest ; foi- thy power is ful naked." 


" Do way thj lewednes," saycl Almachius tho, 
" Aud sacrifice to oure 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 lier," quod he. 12420 
CeciUe answered, " nice creature. 
Thou saydest no word sins thou spak to mo, 
That I ne knew ther^vith thy nicete, 
And that thou were in every maner wise 
A lowed officer, a vein justise. 

" Ther lakketh no thing to thin outer eyen 
That thou art blyude ; 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, '2430 

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 thi 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 ben nought worth a myte." 

Thise wordes and such other sayde sche ; 12440 
And he wax wToth, and bad men schold hir lede 
Hom to hir hous; " And in hir hous," quod he, 

12415 — lewednes. The Lansd MS. reads holdenes. 



" Brenne hir right in a bath of flammes rede." 
Aud 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. 124.50 

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 chauuce 
He might nought smyte hir faire necke a-tuo. 
And for ther was that tyme an ordiuaunce 
That no man scholde do man such penaunce 
The fertile strok to smyten, softe or sore, 
Tliis tormentour ne dorste do no more; 12100 

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 han 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 sayd, " I axe this of heven kyng, 12470 

12iG7—foslred. The Harl. MS. has svffnd. 


To have respit thre dayes and no mo, 
To recomeude to yow, er that I go, 
These soules lo, and that I mighte do ^\-irche 
Heer of myn ho us perpetuelly a chirche." 
Seynt Urban, with liis dekenes piively 
The body fette, and buried it by nighte 
Among his other seyntes honestely. 
Hir hous the chii'ch of seynt Cecily yit highte ; 
Seynt Urban halwed it, as he wel 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 fyve myle. 
At Boughtoun under Blee us gan atake 
A man, that clothed was in clothes blakc, 
And under that he had a wloit surplice, 
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 fleldted 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 wondi'en I bigan 

p 2 


What that he was, til that I understood, 

How that his cloke was sowed imto his hood ; 

For which whan I long had avysed me, 12500 

I demed him som chanoun for to be. 

His hat heng at his bak doun by a laas. 

For lie 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 peritorie. 

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 osteliy I saugh you ryde. 
And warned heer my lord and soverayn, 
Which thAt to rjden with yow is ful fayn, 
For his desport; he loveth daliaunce." 12520 

" Frend, for thy warnyng God geve the good chaunce," 
Say do 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 meiy tale or tweye. 
With wliich he glade may this companye ? " 
" Who, sire ? my lord ? Ye, ye, withoute lye. 


He can of merthe and eek of jolite 

Not but y-uough ; also, sir, trusteth me, 

And ye him knewe as wel as do I, ^2530 

Ye wolde wonder how wel and thriftily 

He couthe werke, and that in sondry wise. 

He hath take on him many sondry emprise, 

Which 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 balauuce 

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 vnte of me, 
And somwhat helpe I yit to his worchynge), 12550 
That al this groimd on which we ben ridynge 
Til that we comen to Caunterbury tovui. 
He couthe al clene turnen up so doun, 
And pave it al of silver and of gold." 

And whan tliis yeman hadde thus i-told 
Unto oure oost, he seyde, " Be^iedicite ! 


Tliis thing is wonder merveylous to me, 

Sjn that tliis lord is of so heigh pmdeuce, 

Bycause of which men schuld him reverence, 

That of lus 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 thi 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 \dce ; 

Wheifore in that I holde him lewed and uycc. 

For whan a man hath over-greet a mtte, 

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 coiuiyng of thi lord thou wost, 

Tel how he doth, I pray the hertily, 

Sin that he is so crafty and so sly. 

Whcr dwell eu ye, if it to telle be ?" 
" In the subarbes of a toun," quod he, 


" Lurking iu hinies and in laues blyncle, 

Wher as these robbours and tbese theves by kynde 

Holdeu here jirive ferful residence, 

As thay that dor nought schewen her presence ; 

So faren we, if I schal say the sothe." ^2590 

" Now," quod oure ost, " yit let me talke to the ; 

Why artow so discoloiu'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 swynke sore, and leme to multiplie. 

We blondren ever, and pouren in the fuyr, 

And for al that we faile of oure desir. 

For ever we lacken oure conclusioun. 12600 

To moche folk we ben illusioun. 

And borwe gold, be it a pound 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 biforn. 

We mowen nought, although we had it sworn. 

It overtake, it slyt away so fast; ^^^^^ 

It wol us make beggers atte last." 

Whil this yeman was thus in liis talkyng, 

Tliis Chanoun drough him ner and herd al thing 

Which that this yiman spak, for suspeccioun 

Of mennes speche ever hadde this Chanoun : 


For Catouu saith, that he that gulty is, 

Demeth al thing be spoke of him, i-wis : 

By cause of that he gau so neigh to drawe 

His yemau, that he hercle al his sawe ; 

And thus he sayd unto his yeman tho : 12C20 

" Hold now thi pees, and spek no wordes mo : 

For if thou do, tliou schalt it deere abye. 

Thow sclaundrest me here in this companye. 

And eek disco verest that thou schuldest hide." 
" Ye," quod oure ost, " tel on, what so bytyde; 

Of alle this thretyng recche the nought a myte." 
" In faith," quod he, " no more clo I but lite." 

And whan tliis Chanoun seih it wold not be. 

But his yeman wold telle his privete. 

He fledde away for verray sonve and schame. 12630 
" 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, what so eny man saith ; 

And yet for al my smert, and al my greef, '2Gio 

For al my sorwe, and labour, and mescheef. 

12C16 — Catoun saith. The allusion is to Cato de Morib. lib. i.dis 
tich 17,— 

Ne cures si quis tacito sermonc loquatur ; 
Conscius ipse sibi tie se putat omnia ilici. 


I couthe never leve it in no -wise. 

Now wolde God my wyt mighte suffise 

To tellen al that longetli to that art ; 

But natheles, yet ■s\-il I telle yow part ; 

Sin that my lord is goon, I wol nought spare, 

Such thing 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 leden 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, 12660 
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 his wittes thynne. 
And whan he, thm'gh his madnes and folye, 12670 
Hath lost his owne good in jeupardie, 


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 pcyne and desese. 

Thus was I oones lemed of a clerk ; 

Of that no charge ; I wol speke of oure werk. 

Whan we ben ther as we schul exercise 

Oure elvyssh craft, we seme wonder wyse, 

Oure termes ben so clergeal and queynte. '2080 

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, brent bones, yren squames, 

That into poudre grounden ben ful smal ? 

And in an ertlien pot how put is al, 

And salt y-put in, and also paupere, ^-^'^^ 

Bifoni these poudres that I speke of heere, 

And wel i-covered with a lamp of glas ? 

And of moche other thing 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, 

12694 — pot and glm. Tliis is the reading of the Harlcian and Lans- 
dowuc MSS. Tyrwhitt reads, poUcs and glasses emjluling, which seems 
to improve tlic metro. 


Ami in amalgamyiige, and calcenynge 

Of quyksilver, y-clept mercury crude ? 12700 

For alle oure sleightes we can nought conclude. 

Oure orpiment, and sublyment mercurie, 

Oure gi'oimde litarge eek on the porfurye, 

Of ech of these of ounces a certayn 

Nat helpeth us, om-e labom- is in vayn. 

No eek oure spirites ascencioun, 

Ne eek oure matiers that lyn al fix adoun, 

Mowe in oure werkyng us no tiling avayle ; 

For lost is al oui'e labour and travayle, 

And al the cost on twenty devel way 127 lo 

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 lewed man, 

Yet vdl I telle hem, as they come to mynde, 

Though I ne conne nought sette hem in her kyude : 

As bol aiTQoniak, verdegres, boras ; 

And sondiy vessels maad of erthe and glas, 

Oure luinals and oure descensories, 12720 

Viols, croslets, and sublimatories, 

Concurbites, and alembikes eeke. 

And othere suche, deere y-nough a leeke, 

Nat needith it to rehersen hem alle ; 

Watres i-ubifying, and boles galle, 

Arsnek, sal armoniak, and biimstoon. 

12702— sublijment. The Lansd. MS., with Tyrwliitt, reads suhlivied. 
l"272o — ruhifying. MS. Harl. reads ruhhyng- 


And herbes couthe I telle eek many oon, 

As egrimoigne, valirian, and lunarie, 

And other suche, if that me list to tarie ; 

Oure lampes brennyng bothe night and day, viTiO 

To biinge aboute oure craft if that we may ; 

Oure foumeys eek of calcinacioun, 

And of wati'es albificacioun, 

Unslekked lym, salt, and glayre of an ey, 

Poudres dyvers, aissches, dong, pisse, and cley, 

Cered poketts, sal petre, vitriole ; 

And dyvers fuyi'es maad of woode and cole ; 

Salt tartre, alcaly, and salt preparat, 

And combust matieres, and coagulat ; 

Cley maad with hors or mannes her, and oyle 12740 

Of tartre, alym, glas, berm, wort, and argoyle, 

Resalgar, and oure matiers enbibing ; 

And eek of oure matiers encoi-poring, 

And of oure silver citrinacioun, 

Oure 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 ; 12760 

The secound orpiment ; the thridde i-wis 

Sal armoniac, and the ferthe bremstoon. 

12732 — foumeys. The MS. Harl. appears to read fourtncs ; liut MS. 
Lansd. reads forncy», wliicli is adopted by Tyrwliitt, and seeins to bo 

12731— sa?^ The Laiisd. MS., with Tvrwhitt, read.^ chalk. 


The bodies seven, eek, lo hem heer anoon. 
Sol gold is, and Luna silver we threpe ; 
Mars yren, Mercurie quyksilver we clepe : 
Satnmus leed, and Jubitur is tyn, 
And Venus coper, by my fader kyn. 

" This cursed craft who so wol exercise, 
He schal no good han that may loim 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 eveiy 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 elvysch nice lore, '2770 

Al is in vayn, and parde moche more 
Is to leme a lowed man this subtilte ; 
Fy, spek not therof, for it wil not be. 
Al couthe he letteinire, or couthe he noon, 
As in effect, he schal fynd it al oon ; 
For bothe tuo by my salvacioun 
Concluden in multipHcacioun 
I-liche wel, whan thay han al y-do ; 
Tliis is to sayn, thay fayle bothe tuo. 
Yet forgat I to make rehersayle 12780 

Of watres corosif, and of lymayle, 
And of bodves mollificacioun. 


And also of here euduracioun, 

Oyles ablucioun, and 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, i^'^*^ 

Elixir clept, we sechen fast echoou, 

For had we him, than were we syker y-nough ; 

But unto God of heven I make avow, 

For al oxu'e craft, whan we han al y-do. 

And al oure sleight, he wol not come us to. 

He hath i-made us spende 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. J2800 

Such supposing and hope is schai'p and hard. 

I warae you wel it is to sekeu ever. 

That future temps hath made men dissevere. 

In tnist therof, from al that ever they hadde. 

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 inne by day-light. 

They wolde hem sellc, and spenden on this craft; 12810 

12809— tafe. This is tlie reading of the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. 
Tyrwhitt reads bratt, which he interprets a coarse mantle. 


Thay cau 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 \vorld 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 him, trusteth me. 

Lo, thus by smellyng and by thred-bare ai'ray. 

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 tempreth, and no man but he ; 

(Now he is goon, I dar say boldely) '2830 

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, 

Oure walles may not make hem resistance. 

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, 12810 


(Thus have we lost by tymes many a pounde), 

Aiid 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 chyt, and halt him evel apayde. 

Som sayd it was long on the fup'-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, ' styat 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^vithe ; 

Pluk up your hertes and beth glad and blithe.' 

The mullok on an beep 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 oou, ' somwhat of oure metal 12870 


Yet is ther heer, though that we have uoiiglit al. 
And though this thing myshappecl hath as now, 
Another tyme it may be "wel y-now. 
Us moste putte cure good in adventure. 
A marchaimt, parde, may not ay endure, 
Tmsteth 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 foiide 
To bringe ouve craft al in another plyte, 12880 

And but I do, sires, let me have the wyte : 
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 evennor 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 thing which that schineth as the gold, 12890 
Is nought gold, as that I have herd told ; 
Ne every' appel that is fair 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 taken directly from the Parabolm 
of Alanus de Insulis, who expresses it thus in two Leonines, — 
Non teneas auriim totum quod splendet ut aurum, 
Nee pulchrum pomum quodlibet esse bonum. 



And he that semeth trewest, is a theef. 

That schul ye knowe, er that I fro vow weiide, 

By that I of my tale have maad an eude. 

" Ther is a chanoun ot religioun 12900 

Amonges us, -wold infecte al a touu, 
Though it as gret were as was Ninive, 
Rome, Alisaundre, Troye, or other thre. 
His sleight and his iufinite falsnesse 
Ther couthe no man writen, as I gesse, 
Though that he mighte ly\'en a thousand yeer ; 
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, '2910 

That he wil make liim dote anoon right. 
But it a feend he, as him selven is. 
Ful many a man hath he hygiled er this, 
And wol, if that lie lyve may a while : 
And yet men ryde and goon ful many a myle 
Him for to seeke, and have his aqueintaunce, 
Nought knowyng of his false govemaunce. 
And if yow list to geve me aucUence, 
I wol it telle here in yom'e presence. 
But, worschipful chanouns religious, 12920 

Ne demeth not that I sclaundre youre hous, 
Although my tale of a chanomi be. 
Of every ordre som schrewe is, pai'dee : 
And God forbede that al a companye 
Scliulde rewe a singuler mannes folye. 
To sclaunder yow is no thing niyn entent, 


But tx) correcten that is iiiys I ment. 

This tale was not oonly told for vow, 

But eek for other moo : ye woot wel how 

That among Cristes apostles twelve 12930 

Ther was no traytovu* but Judas him selve ; 

Than why schulde the remenamit have a blame, 

That gulteles were ? by yew I say the same. 

Save oonly this, if ye wol herkene me. 

If any Judas in youre 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 tills caas herkeneth what I say." 


I\ Londoun was a prest, an annueler, 129^0 

That therin dwelled hadde many a yer, 
Which was so plesaunt and so senisable 
Unto the wyf, wher as he was at table. 

The Chanounes Yemannes Tale. In a preceding tale, Chaucer has 
touched upon the astrologere and practisers of " magiie naturel" ; this, 
and perhaps some temporary occurrences, led him now to satirize bitterly 
another class who infected society at this period, the alchemists. Tlie 
Chanounes Yemannes Tale may describe an occurrence in Chaucer's 
time, for the " multipliers" seem to have been very busy deceiving people 
at the end of the 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, making it felony " to multiplie 
gold or silver, or to use the art of multiplication" 

12940 — an annueler. " They were called annuelkres, not from their 
receiving a yearly stipend, as the Gloss, explains it,bLit from their being 
employed solely in singing annuals, or anniversary masses, for the dead, 
without any cure of souls. See the Stat. 36 Edw. Ill, c. viii, where the 



That sclie wolde suffre him no thing for to pay 
For bord ne clothing, 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 this prest to confusionn. 

This false chanoun cam upon a day 12950 

Unto the prestes chambre, wher he lay, 
Biseching him to lene him a certeyn 
Of gold, and he wold quyt it him ageyn. 

" Leue 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 fels, 
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 ; 12960 
And atte thridde day l)rought his money, 
And to the prest he took his gold agayn, 
Wherof this prest was wonder glad and 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, 
"WTian he so trewe is of condicioun, 
That in no wise he breke wol his day : 

chapclkins parochieh are distinguished from others chanianz anuales, 
et a cure des almes nient entindantz. They were both to receive yearly 
stipends, hut 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- 
pellein paTochiel is raised to eight marks, and that of the chapelle'm 
annueler (he is so named in the statute) to seven." — Tyrwhitt. 


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 thing that I wol ever kepe, 

Unto that day in wliich 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 youre kyndenesse, 

I wil yow schewe, and if yow lust to lere 

I wil yow teche pleynly the manere, 

How I kan werken in philosophie. 

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." 12990 

" At youre comaundement, sire, trewely," 

Quod the chanoim, " and elles God forbede ! " 

Lo, how this tlieef couthe his servise beede. 

Ful soth it is that such profred servise 

Stynketh, as witnessen these olde ^\'ise ; 

And that ful soone I wol it verefye 

In this chanoun, roote of al treccherie. 

That evermor delit hath and gladnesse 


(Such feeudlj thoughtes in liis hert empresse) 

How Cristes poeple he may to meschief briuge. i^ooo 

God kepe us from his fals dissimilynge. 

What wiste this prest -with whom that he delte ? 

Ne of his harm comyng he no tiling felte. 

O seely prest, o sely innocent, 

With coveytise anoon thou schalt be blent ; 

O graceles, ful blynd is thy conceyt, 

No tiling art thou \Yar of the deceyt. 

Which that this fox i-schapen hath to the ; 

His wily wrenches y-wis thou maist not fle. 

Wherfor to go to the conclusioun, Jsoio 

That referreth to thy confusioun, 

Unhappy man, anoon I wil me hie 

To tellen thin unwitte and thy folye. 

And eek the falsnesse of that other wrecche, 

Als ferforth as my connyng wol strecche. 

Tliis chanoun was my lord, ye wolde weene : 
Sire ost, in faith, and by the heven queeue. 
It was another chanoun, and not he. 
That can an hundred fold more subtilte. 
He hath bitrayed folkes many tyme ; 13020 

Of his falsnes it dullith me to lyme. 
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 knowe. 
In my visage, for fumes diverse 
Of metals, which ye han me herd reherse, 
Consumed and wasted han mv rcedncsse. 


Now tak heed of this chanouus cursednesse. 

" Sire, "quod hetotheprest, "let your man goon isosd 
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 tiling, which ye saugh never er this." 
Sire," quod the j)rest, "it schal be doon, i-wis." 
He bad his servaunt fecclie him his thinges, 
And he al redy was at his biddynges, 
And went him forth, and com anoon agayn 
With this quyksilver, schortly for to sayn. 
And took these ounces thre to the chanouu ; i^*^!'* 
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 instniment," quod he, " which that thou sest, 
Tak in thin hond, and put thiself therinne 
Of this quiksilver an unce, and her bygynne 
In the name of Crist to wax a philosophre. '^oso 

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 yom'e sight anoon, withouten lye, 
And make it as good silver and as fjm 
As ther is any in youre purs or myn, 
Or elles wher; and make it malleable ; 


And elles holdeth me fals and unable 

Amouges folk for ever to appeere. 13060 

I have a ponder heer that cost me deere, 

Schal make al good, for it is cause of al 

My connjTQg, wliich that I you schewe schal. 

Voydith youre man, and let liim be theroute ; 

And schet the dore, whils we ben aboute 

Om-e privetee, that no man us aspie. 

Whiles we werken in this philosophic." 

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 chanoun into the croslet cast 
A pouder, noot I wherof that it was 
I-maad, outher of chalk, outher of glas, 
Or som what elles, was nought worth a flye. 
To bhTide with tliis 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, an<I was ful glad, 
And couchede coles as the chanoim bad. 

13062 — yood. I have ventured to retain 'lyrwliitl's readiun. which 
is supported by Die Lansdow no MS The Harl. MS reads, gold. 


And whil he besy was, this feenclly wrecche, 

This false chanouu (the foule feend him fecche !) 

Out of his bosom took a bechen cole, 

In which ful subtilly was maad an hole. 

And theriu put was of silver lymayle 13090 

An uuce, and stopped was withoute fayle 

The hole with wex, to kepe the lymail in. 

And understondith, 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 ; isioo 

On his falshede fayn wold I me wreke, 

If I wist how, but he is hear and there, 

He is so variant, he byt no where. 

But taketh heed now, sires, for Goddes love. 
He took his cole of which I spak above, 
And in his bond he bar it prively, 
And whiles the preste couched bysily 
The coles, as I tolde yow er this, 
This chauoun sayde, " Fi'eend, ye doon amys ; 
This is not couched as it oughte be, i^uio 

But soone I schal amenden it," quod he. 
" Now let me melle therwith but a while, 
For of yow have I pitee, by seint Gile 1 
Ye been right hoot, I se wel how ye swete ; 
Have beer a cloth and wype away the wete." 


And whiles that this prest him wyped haas. 
This chauoun took his cole, I schrewe his faas ! 
And layd it aboven on the myd-ward 
Of the croslet, and blew wel afterward, 
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 doun, and let us mery 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 tiling, 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, 
" PiYS up, sire prest," quod he, " and stonde by me ; 
And for I wot wel ingot have ye noon, 
Goth, walkith forth, and biynge 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 thanuc 
How that oure besjoies schal happe and preve. i3Mi> 

13121. This line, as it stands in the Harl. MS , 

And whan the chanoiins bochcne cole, 
appears to be imperfect, although it is supported by the Lansdowne MS. 
I have ventured to add the word that from Tyrwhitt, and to insert 
the e in chanounes, which had probably- slipped out by the iiiadveitenco 
of a scribe. 


And yit, for ye schul have no mysbileeve 

Ne wrong conceyt of me in youre absence, 

I ne wol nought ben out of youre presence, 

But go with you, and come \^•ith you agayn." 

The chambur dore, schortly for to sayn, 

Thay opened and schette, and wente here weye, 

And fortli ^^•ith hem they caiyed the keye, 

And comen agayn withouten eny delay. 

What schuhl I tary al the longe day ? 

He took the chalk, and schop it iu the wise 13150 

Of an ingot, as I schal yow de^'yse ; 

I say, he took out of his oughne sleeve 

A teyne of silver (evel mot he cheeve !) 

Which that was but an unce of wight. 

And taketh heed now of his cursed slight ; 

He schop his ingot in lengthe and iu brede 

Of this teyne, withouten eny drede. 

So sleighly, that the prest it nought aspyde ; 

And in his sleeve agayn he gan it hyde ; 

And fro the fuyr he took up his mateere, 13160 

And into the ingot put it ■with mery cheere : 

And into the watir-vessel he it cast. 

Whan that him list, and bad this prest as fast, 

Loke what ther is ; put in thin hond and grope ; 

Thou fynde ther schalt silver, as I hope." 

What devel of helle schold it elles be ? 

131 16 — wente here weye. The Hari. and Lansd. MSS. read, xventc forth 
here weye, which malsos a redundancj in the measure ; the superfluous 
word appears to have been brought iu liere from the beginning of the 
next hne. 


Schavyng of silver, silver is, parde ! 

He putte in his lioud and toli up a teyne 
Of silver fyn, and glad in every veyne 
Was this prest, whan he saugh it was so. iiU70 

" Goddes blessyug, and his modres also. 
And alle halwes, have ye, sire chauoun !" 
Seyde this prest, and I her malisoun ; 

" But, and ye vouche sauf to teche me 
This nobil craft and this subtilite, 
I wil be youre 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 your neede 
Another day assay in myn absence 13I80 

This dicipline, and this crafty science. 
Let take another unce," quod he tho, 

" Of quyksilver, withouten wordes mo, 
And do therwith as ye have doou 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 liim, and faste blew the fuyr, 
For to come to theffect of his desyr. 
And this chanoun right in the mene while 13190 

Al redy was this prest eft to bygile, 
And for a countenaunce in his bond bar 

13180 — assay. The Harl. MS. substitutes i/our self , which makes an 
unintelligible sentence, without a verb. The Lansd. MS. oniitjs tlio 
wort), and makes the line iniperl'ect in measure as well as grammatical 


An holow stikke (tak keep cond 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 whil the prest was in his besynesse, 

This chanoun with his stildce gan him dresse 

To liim auoon, and his ponder cast in, '^'^o*^ 

As he dede er, (the devel out of his sk}Ti 

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 wel 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 agajTi, 

Supposyng not but trouthe, soth to sayn. 

He was so glad, that I can nought expresse 

In no maner his myrthe and his gladnesse. 

And to the chanoun he profred eft soone 

Body and good. " Ye," quod the chanoun, " soone. 

Though pore I be, crafty thou schalt me fynde : 

13203 — worde. This, which is the reading of the Lansd. MS., is 
perhaps better than that of the Hurl. MS., oth. Tyrwhitt has thought. 

13204 — above. So Tyrwhitt and the Lansd. MS., apparently the correct 
reading. The Harl. MS. reads alone. 


I warne the, yet is ther more byhyncle. 

Is ther any coper her -withinne ?" quod he. I'-i'iiO 

" Ye, sir," quod this prest, " I trowe ther he. 
Elles go bye som, and thut 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 ciu'sednesse. 
He semed frendly to hem that knew him nought, ^3230 
But he was fendly bothe in werk and thought. 
It werieth me to telle of his falsnesse ; 
And natheles jit wol I it expresse, 
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 fup' als swithe he hath it set, 
And cast in pouder, and made the prest to blowe, 
And in his worcliing for to stoupe lowe. 
As he dede er, and al nas but a jape; ^3210 

Right 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 byfoni-hond 

13228 — as minister of my witt. I retain this reading from Tyrwhitt, 
as apparently furnishing the best meaning. MS. Ilarl. reads, the minister 
and of his wilt ; the reading of the Lanstl. MS. is, his monstre and his loitte. 


Herde me telle, he had a silver teyne ; 
He sleyghly took it out, this cursed heyue, 
(Unwitynge this prest of his false craft), 
And ill the pannes botnie he hath it laft; 
And in the water rumbleth to and fro, 13250 

And wonder prively took up also 
The coper teyne, (nought knovvjng tliis prest) 
And hidde it, and heut him by the brest, 
And to him spak, and thus sayde in his game ; 
'■ Stoupeth adouu ! by God, ye ben to blame ; 
Helpeth me now, as I dede yow whil er ; 
Put in yom' bond, and loke what is ther." 
This prest took up this silver teyne anoon. 
And thanne sayde the chanoun, let us goon 
With these thre tejmes whiche that we ban wrought, 13260 
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-^ithe 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 ; l^'^^o 

Ne nightyngale in the sesoun of May 
Was never noon, that liste better to synge ; 
Ne lady lustier in carolynge ; 
Or for to speke of love and wommanhede, 
Ne knyght in amies doon an hardy deede 


To stoude in grace of his lady deere, 

Than hadde this prest this craft for to lore ; 

And to the chanouu 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 wame 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 pave? 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 chanoun, for this ilk receyt. 

Al his werkyng nas but fraude and deceyt. 
" Sire jjrest," 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 i^^O'* 

To me, bycause of my philosophie, 

I schulde be deed, ther were noon other weye." 
" God it forbede," quoth the prest, "what seye. 

13283 — for, save. The Harl. MS. reads, /or, sire, which is evidently 
ail error: the Lansd. MS. has, hot, save, and TTrwhitt,//(a^ save. 


Yet had I lever spenden id the good 
Which that I have, (and elles wax I wood) 
Than that ye schulde falle in such meschief." 
" For your good ■vvil, sir, have ye right good preef," 
Quoth the chanoun, " and far wel, graunt mercy." 
He went his way, and never the prest him 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 bygilt was he : 
Thus maketh he his introduccioun 
To bringe folk to here destruccioun. 

Considereth, sires, how that in ech astaat 
Bitwise 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. 
Philosophres speken so mistyly 
In this craft, that men conne 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 purpos 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 grete and hevy purses. 
And make folk for to purchace curses 
Of hem, that han her good therto i-lent. 


0, fy ! for schaine, tliay that have be brent, 
Alias ! can thay not fle the fuyres hete ? 
Ye that it usen, I rede ye it lete, 
Lest ye lesen al ; for bet 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 bysides in the wey : 
So fare ye that multiplie, I sey. 
If that youre yghen can nought seen aright, 
Loke that youre mynde lakl^e 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 
Withdra-we 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 whom that he takcth eny hede, 
But as Bayarde the blynde stede, 
Tille he falle in the diche amidde, 
He goth ther no man wol him bidde. 
13350— <;(a.v. The Lansd. MS and Tyrwhitt road, ye. 
13.350 — Arnold. Aruald de Villeneuve (in Lat. De Villa Nova, or 
Villanovanus) a distinguished French physician and alchemist of the 
fourteenth century, whose Rosarius Philosophorum was a text book for 
the alchemi.sts of the following age. 


As his Rosarie maketh menciomi, 

He saith right thus, \sathouten eny lye ; 

Ther may no man Mercuiy moitifye, 

But it be with his brother knowleching. 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 sayu, 

By the cbagouu, Mercuiy, and noon other, 

He imderstood, and brimstoon be his brother, 

That out of Sol and Luna were i-drawe. 

" And thei-fore," sayde he, " take heed to my sawe: 
Let no man besy him this ax*t 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 ivord, which seems necessary to the sense, is not 
found either in MS. Harl. or in MS. Lansd. 

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 Secre ofsecrelz. " He alludes to a treatise, entitled Secreta 
Secretorum, 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, aboutthelatter endof the thirteenth century, built upon it his book 
De regimine principum, of which our Occleve made a free translation in 
English verse, and addressed it to Henry V while prince of Wales. A. 
part of Lydpate's translation of the Secreta Secretorum is printed in Ash- 
mole's Theal. Chem. Brit. p. 397. He did not translate more than about 
half of it, being prevented by death. See MS. Harl 2251, and Tanner, 
Bib. Brit, in v. Ltdqate. The greatest part of the seventh book of Gower's 
Conf. Amant. is taken from tliis supposed work of Aristotle.'" — TyrwMtt. 



Also ther was a disciple of Plato, 

That on a tyme sayde his maister to, 

As his book Senior wil here witnesse, 

And this was his demaunde in sothfastnesse : 
' Tel me the name of thilke prive stoon." 13380 

And Plato answered unto him auoon : 
" Take the stoon that titanos men name." 
" Which is that?'' quod he. "Magnasia is the same," 

Sayde Plato. " Ye, sire, and is it thus ? 

This is ignotum, per ignotius. 

Wliat 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. 

The philosophres sworn were everichoon. 

That thay ne scholde discovere it unto noon, 

Ne in no book it write in no manere ; 

For unto Crist it is so leef and deere. 

That he wil not that it discovered be, 

But wher it liketh to his deite 

Man to enspire, and eek for to defende 

Wliom that him liketh; lo, this is the ende." 

Than thus conclude I, syn that God of hevene 13400 

13378— /i/s book Senior. The Harl. and Lansd. MSS. read Somer. 
Tyrwhitt observes on this passage, " The book alhided to is printed in " 
the Tliealnim Chemicum, vol. v, p. 219, under this title: ' Senioris 
Zadith fil. Hamuelis tabula chymica.' The story -nhich follows of 
Plato and his disciple, is there told {p. 249), with some variations, of 
Salomon. ' Dixit Salomon rex, Recipe lapidem qui dicitur Thitarios. — 
Dixit sapiens, Assigna mihi ilium. Dixit, est corpus mn/jncsio' — Dixit, 
Quid est mngnrxia ? Respondit, Magnesia est aqua, composita. &c.'" 

133,S9— ro/c. The Harl. MS. reads, rrtor/c. 


Ne wol uot that tlie philosophres ueveue, 
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 Averke any thing in colitrarie 
Unto his wil, certes never schal he thiive, 
Though that he multiplie terme of al his lyve. 
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 Docloures Piologe. MS. Harl., with 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 mei-e colophon to the eflect, Here endeth the 
Frankeleyns Tale, and higinneth the Phisicieiis Tale without a proloye. 
Other MSS have different prologues ; that printed above is given b^' Tyr- 
whitt from one MS., but it is not much in Chaucer's style ; the following, 
which is given in the Lansd. MS., is still less so : — 

" Now trewly," quod oure oste, " this a prati tale ; 

For litel merveile it is that thou lokest so pale, 

Sethen thou hast medeled with so mony thinges ; 

AVith bloweinge att the cole to melte bothe brochez and ringes, 

And other many jewels dar 1 undertake, 

And that thi lorde coutbe us tel if we might him overtake. 

Bot lat him go a devel wave, the compaigny is never the wers ; 

And al suche fals harlotes I sette not be hem a kers; 

Bot latt pas overe nowe al thes subtilitees, 

And same worthi man tel us summe veritees, 

As ye, worschipful maister of phisike, 

Tellith us somme tale that is a cronyke. 

That we may of yowe leren sum witte." 

Quod the maister of phisik, " A tale that I fiude writte 

In cronyke passed of olde tyme, 

Herkeneth, for I wil tel it vow in rime." 


Tel US a tale of som honest matere." 
" It schal be dou, if that ye wol it here," 

Said this doctour, and his tale began anon. 
" Now, good men," quod he, " herkeneth everichon."] 


Thee was, as telleth Titus L^'^aus, 
A knight, that cleped was Yirginius, 
Fulfild of honours and of worthines. 
And strong of frendes, and of gret riches. 
This knight a doughter hadde by his w}^f, ^3420 

And never ne hadde he mo in al his lyf. 
Fair was this mayde in excellent beaute 
Above eveiy wight that men may se : 
For nature hath with sovereyn diligence 
I-foiTued hii" in so gret excellence, 
As though sche wolde say, " Lo, I natui'e. 
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, 13430 

Apelles, Zeuxis, schulde wirche in vayn, 

The Tale of the Doctor of Phixik It is hardly necessary to state that 
tliis tale is the common story of 'S'lrj^'inius and his daughter, related, as 
here stated, by Livy, but 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 book the Roman de la Roue, (vol. ii, p. 74 et .scqq. 
ed. Meoii.) and perhaps he had also in his eye Gower, who gives the 
story of Virginius in the seventh book of his Confessio Amantis. 

13420 — Tim knight a doughter. MSS. Harl.and Lansd. omit the first 
two words, and read the line, A daughter he hadde hy his toyf. 

13131 — Aiirllen, Zatxis. The Harl. and Lansd. MSS. read the names 


Other to grave, or paynte, or forge or bete, 

If tbay presumed me to counterfete. 

For he that is the former principal, 

Hath maad me his viker general 

To forme and peynte erthely creature 

Right 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 hen 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 peyuture 
Sche peynted hath this noble creature 
Er sche was born, upon hir limes fre, 13450 

Wheras by right such colours schulde be : 
And Phebus deyed hadde hire tresses grete, 
I-lyk to the stremes of his homed hete. 
And if that excellent was hir beaute, 
A thousand fold more vertuous was sche. 
In hire ne lakketh no condicioun. 

corruptly, AppoUus, Zephenis. This reference to the painters of antiquity 
as well as most of the ideas relating to the personification and operations of 
nature, are taken from the Roman de la Hose. See vol.iii,p. 102,3. ed. Meon. 
13451. I have in this line adopted Tyrwhitt's reading. The Harl. 
MS. reads, Here al.i bright as such colour schulde he, MS. Lausd. has 
the same reading. 


That is to preyse, as by discreciouB. 

As wel in body as goost chaste was sche : 

For -which sche floured in ^-irginite, 

With alle huiniHte and abt:,tiuence, 13460 

With alle attemperaimce and pacience, 

With mesure eek of beryng of array. 

Discret sche -was in answeryng alway, 

Though sche were wis as Pallas, dar I sayn, 

Hu* 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 diyve hire out of idel slogardye. 

Bachus had of hir mouth no maistiye : 

For wyn and thought doon Venus encrece, 

As men in fup" -wil caste oyle or grece. 

And of hir ouglme vertu imconstreigned, 

Sche hath ful ofte tyme hire seek y-feyned, 

For that sche wolde fleen the companye, 

Wher lilvly 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 

13474 — wyn and thought. I have retained wyn instead of wille, 
whicli latter is the reading of the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. Tlie sense 
would seem to require, as Tyi'whitt conjectures, «tou//ie instead of thovffhl, 
but this reading is not found in the MSS. The Lansd. MS. reads with 
TjTwhitt, youlhe. 


To scone rype and bold, as men may se, 

Which is ful perilous, and hath ben yore; 

For al to soone may sche lerue lore 

Of boldenesse, whan sche is a wyf. 

And ye maystresses in yoiu'e olde lyf 

That lordes doughtres han in govemaunce, 

Ne taketh of my word no displesaunce : 

Thinketh that ye ben set in govemynges 13490 

Of lordes doughtres, oonly for tuo thinges ; 

Outher for ye han kept your honeste, 

Other elles for ye han falle in frelete, 

And knowe wel y-nough the olde daunce, 

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 dampned for your wikked entent. 

For who so doth, a traji;our is certayn : 

And taketh keep of that that I schal sajTi ; 

Of al tresoun sovereyn pestilence 

Is, whan a -night bytrayeth innocence. 

Ye fadres, and ye modres eek also, 

Though ye han children, be it con or mo. 

13497. This line is given fironi the Harl. and Lansd. MSS., instead of 
Tyrwhitt's reading, To teche hem vcrttie loke that ye ne slake. 

13501 — kepe hem. The Harl. MS. reads, hir, apparently incorrectly. 


Youi'e is the charge of al her sufferaunce, 13510 

Whiles thay be under your govemaunce. 

Beth war, that by ensample of youre lyvynge, 

Outher by necgligence in '^hastisynge, 

That thay ne peiische : for I dar wel seye, 

If that thay doou, ye schul ful sore abeye. 

Under a schepherd softe and necligent, 

The ■wolf hath many a schep and lamb to-rent. 

Siifficeth oon ensample now as here, 

For I moot turne agein to my matiere. 

This mayde, of which I telle my tale expresse, 1^520 
So kept hir self, hir neded no maystresse ; 
For in hir lyvyng 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 liir beaute and hir bounte wyde : 
That thurgh the lond thay praysed hir ilkoonc, 
That lovede vertu, save envye alloone, 
That sory is of other mennes wele, ]3o30 

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, ^vith hir moder deere. 
As is of yonge maydenes the manere. 

13510— sufftrauttce. So the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. Tyrwhitt 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 tlier than a justice in the touu, 
That goveniour was of that regioun. 
And so bifel, tliis juge his eyghen cast 
Upon this mayde, avj'sing hir ful fast, 
As sche cam forby ther the juge stood. 135-10 

Anoon his herte chaunged and his mood, 
So was he caught with beaute of this mayde, 
And to him self ful prively he sayde, 
" This mayde schal be myn for any man." 
Anoon the feend into his herte ran, 
And taughte him sodemly, that he by slighte 
This mayde to his purpos wynue 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 hir with hir body synne. 
For which with 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, 

13.551 — con farmed . . ..heauir. This is the reading of the Harl. and 
Lands. MSS. Tyrwhitt reads confermed and boiinte, ■svhich seem to make 
a better sense. 

13557 — clerk This is the reading of the Harl. and Lands. MSS. Tyr- 
whitt, who gives the reading clierl, says he took it from " the best MSS. 
and Ed. Ca. 2. The common Editt. have client. In the Rom. de la R. 
where this story is told, ver. 5815—5894, Claudius is caWeA Sergent of 
Appiiis : and accordingly Chaucer a little lower, ver. 1220 1, calls hira 
' servant — unto — Appius.' " Clerk seems the better reading, as a cherl 
would hardly possess thrals or bondsmen. 


He schulde teUe it to no creature; 

And if lie dede he schulde lese his heed. 13360 

Whan that assented was this cursed reed, 

Glad Avas the juge, and mrde him gret cheere, 

And gaf him giftes precious and deere. 

Whan schapeu was al this conspiracye 
Fro poTut to porat, how that his leccherie 
Parformed schokle be ful subtilly, 
As ye schul here after-ward openly, 
Horn goth this clerk, that liighte Claudius. 
This false juge, that highte Apius, — 
(So was his name, for it is no fable, 13570 

But knowen 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 Yii'ginius. 
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 ui his absence 
I may not give difl&nityf sentence. 
Let do him calle, and I wol gladly hiere; 


Thou schalt have alle right, and no wrong heere." 
Virginius com to wite the jugges wille, 13590 

And right anoon was red this cursed hille ; 
The sentence of it was as ye schul heere. 

" To yow, my lord sire Apius so deere, 
Scheweth youre pore sei'vaunt Claudius, 
How that a knight called Virginius, 
Ageins the lawe, agens alle equyte, 
Holdeth, expresse ageinst the wille of me. 
My sen-aunt, which that my thral is by right. 
Which fro myn hous was stolen on a night 
Whiles sche was fid yong, that wol I preve 13600 

By ■svitnesse, lord, so that ye yow not greve ; 
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 -wille." 
Lo, tliis was al the sentence of the bille. 

"Virguiius gan upon the clerk byholde: 
But hastily, er he his tale tolde, 
And wolde have proved it, as schold a knight. 
And eek by witnessyng of many a wight, 
That al was fals that sayde his adversarie, 13610 

This cui'sed juge wold no lenger taiye, 
Ne heere a word more of Virginius, 
But gaf his jugement, and saide thus : 
' I deme anoon this clerk his sei'vaimt have. 
Thou schalt no lenger in thin hous Mr save. 
Go bringe hir forth, and put hir in oure warde. 

13615— srti'e. So MS. Lansd ; MS. Harl. reads have. 


TJiis clerk schal have Ms tlxi'al; thus I awarde." 

And whan this worthy knight Virginius, 
Thurgh thassent of this juge Apius, 
Moste by foi'ce his deere doughter given 13620 

Unto the juge, in lecchery to lyven, 
He goth him horn, and sette him in his halle, 
And leet an con liis deere dough ter calle : 
And with a face deed as aisshen colde, 
Upon hir humble face he gan byholde, 
With fadres pite stiking thonigh his herte, 
Al wolde he fi'om his pui-pos not converte. 
" Doughter," quod he, " Vii-ginia by name, 
Ther ben tuo weyes, eyther deth or schame, 
That thou most suffre, alias that I was bore ! 13630 
For never thou desei^vedest wherfore 
To deyen with a swerd or ^^ith a knyf. 
O deere doughter, ender of my lif. 
Which I have fosti*ed up with such plesaunce, 
That thou nere never oute of my remembraunce : 
doughter, which that art my laste wo, 
And in this lif my laste joye also, 
gemma 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 ilpar amorx, sans haine, 
A sa belle fille Virpine 
Tantost a la teste copee, 
Et puis au juge presentee 
Devant tous en plain consisioire : 
Et li jupes, selonc I'estoire, 
Le commanda tantost a prendre, etc. 
Seebplow, v. 13670—3. 


My pitous lioud mot smyteii of thin heed. 

Alias that ever Apius the say ! 

Thus hath he fiilsly jugged the to day." 

And told hir al the caas, as ye bifore 

Hau 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 ? 13650 

Is ther no grace '? is ther no remedye ?" 

" No, certeyn, deere doughter mjm," 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 liir fiider first to se, 
To welcome him with gret solempnite." 
And with that word aswoun sche fel anoon, 13660 

And after, whan hir swownyng was agoon, 
Sche riseth 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 ; 

13655 — Jepte. The Harl. and Lansd. MSS read, Jeffa. This refer- 
ence to Jephtha's daughter is one of the anachronisms so common in the 
medieval poets, and which are found so late even as the age of Shakespeare. 


And with that word on swoune doun sche fel. 

Hir fader, with ful sorwful 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 whan the juge it say, as saith the story, 

He bad to take him, and honge him faste. 

But right anoon alle 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 this thing. 

By maner of this clerkes chalengyng. 

That it was by thassent of Apius ; i^eso 

That wiste wel that he was leccherous. 

For which unto this Apius thay goon, 

And casten him in prisoun right anoon, 

AVher as he slough him self; and Claudius, 

That sen"aunt was unto this Apius, 

Was demed for to honge upon a tree ; 

But Yirginius 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 
Tlae worm of conscience wol agrise 
Of wicked lyf, though it so pryve be, 
That no man woot of it l)ut God and he : 


Whether that he be lewecl man or lei'ed, 
He not how soone that he may be aferecl. 
Therfore I rede yow tliis counseil take, ^^''^'^ 

Foi'sakith synne, er synne yow forsake. 


OwRE ost gan swere as he were wood ; 
" Harrow!" quod he, " by nayles and by blood ! 
This 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 1^710 

Ben cause of deth of many a creature. 
Hir beaute was hir deth, I dar wel sayu ; 
Alias ! so pitously as sche was slayn ! 
[Of bothe giftes, that I speke of now, 
Men hau ful often more for harm than prow.] 

" But trewely, myn owne maister deere, 
This was a pitous tale for to heere : 
But natheles, pas over, this is no fors. 
I pray to God to save thi gentil coi"ps, 

1S706 — So falle, etc. Instead of this aud the following line, Tynvliitt 
reads : — 

Come to thise juges and hir advocas. 
Algate this scly maide is slain, alas! 
13714,5. These two lines are omitted in the Harl. MS., aud they seem 
superfluous. Tyrwhitt has made them up from more than one MS. 



And eek thyn urinals, and tliy jordaues, 13720 

Tbyu Ypocras, and eek thy Galianes, 

And every boist ful of thi letuaiie, 

God blesse hem and oure lady seinte Marie ! 

So mot I then, thou art a propre man, 

And y-lik a prelat, by seint Eunyan. 

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 corpus boones, but I have triacle. 

Other elles a draught of moyst and corny ale, 1^730 

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 diynke and byten on a cake." 

But right anoon the gentils gan to crie, 
" Nay, let him tellen us no ribaudye. 

Tel us som moral thing, that we may leere." J37io 
" Gladly," quod he, and sayde as ye schal lieere. 
" 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 tlit^ 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, Tyrwhitt and the Lansd. MS. 

Sora wit, and thannc wol we gladly licre. 
I graunte y-wis, quod he, hut I must thiulse. 



I peyne me to have an hauteyn speche, 
And ryng it out, as lowd as doth a belle, 
For I can al by rote that I telle. 
My teeme is alway oou, and ever was : 
Radix vialorum est cupiditas. 

" First I pronounce whennes that I come, 13750 
And thanne my bulles schewe I alle aud 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 Cristes holy werk. 
And after that than tel I forth my tales. 
Bulles of popes, and of cardynales, 
Of patriai'kes, and of bisshops, I schewe, 
And in Latyn speke I wordes fewe 
To savore with my predicaciouu, 13760 

And for to stere men to devocioun. 
Thanne schewe I forth my longe cristal stoones, 
I-crammed ful of cloutes aud of boones, 
Reliks thay ben, as wene thei echoon. 
Than have I in latoun a schulder boon. 
Which that was of an holy Jewes scheep. 
Good men," say I, " tak of my wordes keep : 
If that this boon be waische in eny welle. 
If cow, or calf, or scheep, or oxe swelle, 
That eny worm hath ete, or worm i-stonge, 13770 

Tak water of that welle, and waisch his touge, 

13749 — radix malorum. The Harl. and Lansd. MSS. have radix 
omnium malorum, hni the word omnium seems to be redundant, and spoils 
the metre. 



Aud it is liool anoon : and fortliermore 

Of jjokkes, and of scabbe, and every sore, 

Schal every scheep be hool, that of this welle 

Drynketh a draught ; tak heed eek what I telle. 

If that the goode man, that the beest oweth, 

Wol every Avike, er that the cok him croweth, 

Fastynge, dryuke of this welle a draught, 

As tliilke holy Jew oure eldres taught, 

His beestes and liis stoor schal multiplie. 13780 

And, sires, also it kelith jalousie. 

For though a man be ful in jalous rage, 

Let make A\dth 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 metayu, 

He schal have multiplying of his grayn, 

"V^Tian 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 Avight be in this cliirche now. 

That hath doon synne oriible, that he 

Dar nought for schame of it schryven be : 

Or ony Avomman, be sche yong or old. 

That hath y-maad hir housbond cokewold, 

Such folk schal have no power ne grace 

To offre to my relikes in this place. 

13781 — kelith. The Lansd. MS. bas, with Trrwhitt, hekth, which is 
perhaps the better reading. 


And who so fiut him out of suche blame, 13800 

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 gaude have I wonne every yeer 
An hundred m.irk, syn I was pardoner. 
I stonde lilv 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 hondred 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 beme : 
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 synne. 
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 flaterie, 
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 diffamed falsly, if that he 13830 

Hath trespast to my bretheren or to me. 

For though I telle not his propre name, 

Men schal wel knows that it is the same 

By signes, and by other circumstaunces. 

Thus quyt I folk, that doou us displesaunces : 

Thus put I out 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 cujnditas. 

" Thus can I preche agayn the same ^ice 
Which that I use, and that is avarice. 
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 this 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 tx-ewely. 
For I woi preche and begge in sondry londes. 
T wil do no labour with myn hondes. 


Ne make basketis and lyve tlierby, 13860 

Bycause I vdl nought begge yclelly. 

I wol noon of tliapostles 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 ever'y toun. 

But herkneth, lordynges, in conclusioun, 

Youre likyug is that I schal telle a tale. 13870 

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 hold your pees, my tale I wol byginne." 


In Flaundres whilom was a companye 
Of yonge folkes, that haunted folye, 
As ryot, hasard, stywes, and tavemes ; i^sso 

Wher as with lutes, hai-pes, and gytemes, 

13864 — prestes page. The Lansd. MS leais porest page, vrhich is the 
reading adopted by Tyrwhitt. 

The Pardoneres Tale. Tins 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 Aniiche, Nov. Ixxxii, as well as the story 
itself by Chaucer. 


Tliay daunce and play at dees botlie day and night, 

And ete also, and drynk over her might ; 

Tliurgh which thay doon the Aevjl sacrifise 

Withinne the develes temple, in cursed wise, 

By supei-fluite ahhominable. 

Her othes been so greet and so dampnable, 

That it is grisly 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 fniitesteres, 

Singers with harpes, baudes, wafereres,] 

Whiche that ben verray develes officeres. 

To kyndle and blowe the fuyr of leccherie, 

That is anexid unto glotonye. 

The holy wryt take I to my witnesse, 

That luxuiy is in wyn and dronkenesse. 

Lo, how that dronken Loth imkyndely 13900 

Lay by his doughtres tuo unwityngly, 

So dronk he was he niste what he wrought. 

Herodes, who so wel the story sought, 

Whan he of wyn was repleet at his fest. 

13889 — loterc. The common oaths in the Middle Ages were by the 
diflcrent 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 — holi/ 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 seqq. 


Right at his oughne table gaf his hest 
To sle the haptist 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 : i39io 

But that woodnes, fallen in a schrewe, 
Persevereth lenger than doth dronkenesse. 
O glutonye, ful of corsidnesse ; 

cause first of oure confusioun, 

original of oure dampnacioun, 

Til Crist had bought us with his blood agayn ! 

Loketh, how dere, schortly for to sayu, 

Abought was first this cursed felonye : 

Corupt was al this world for glotonye. 

Adam our fader, and his wyf also, 13920 

Fro Paradys to lahour and to wo 

Were dryven for that vice, it is no drede. 

For whils 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. 

glotony, wel ought us on the pleyne ! 

O, wist a man how many maladyes 

Fohvith of excesse and of glotonyes, 

13907 — Seneca. " Perhaps he refers to Epist Ixxxiii. Extends in 
phires Jies ilium ebrii habitum : nunquid de furore dubitatis? nunc 
quoque non est minor sed brevior." — Tijrwhilt. 

13918 — felonye. The Lansd. MS. reads, with Tyrwhitt, vilanie. 

13923 — ivhih that Adam. lu the margin of MS. Harl. is the quota- 
tion, Qiianidiu jejuuavit Adam in I'aradyso fuit, comedit et ejectus est; 
statim duxit uxorem, etc. It is from Hieronymus contra Jovinianum. 


He wolde be the more mesurable 13930 

Of his diete, sittjmg at his table. 

Alias ! the schorte throte, the tendre mouth, 

Maketh that Est aud Wesu, and North aud South, 

In erthe, in watir, in ayer, man to swpike, 

To gete a sely glotoun mete aud diynke. 

Of this matier, Poul, wel canstow trete. 

Mete unto wombe, and wombe xmto 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, I39i0 

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 mauy, of which you told have I, 

I say it now wepyng with pitous vois, 

Thay are enemys of Cristes croys : 

Of which the ende is deth, wombe is her God. 

O wombe, o bely, o stynkyng is thi cod, 

Fulfild of dong and of corrupcioun ; 13950 

At eyther eude of the foul is the soun. 

How gret cost and labour is the to fynde ! 

These cokes how they stamp, and streyn, and giynde. 

And torne substaunce into accident, 

To fulfille tliy licorous talent ! 

13937 — Meie unto wombe. The margin of the Harl. MS. has the quo- 
tation, Esca venfris et venter escis, Deus aiitera hnnc ct illam ilestriict, etc. 

ISQU—TJiapostle . .saith. Philipp. iii, 18, 19, Multi enim ambulant, 
quos sffipe diccbam vobis (nunc aiitem ct flcns dice) inimicos crucis 
C'hristi : quorum finis interitus, 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 spiceiy and levys, barke and roote, 

Schal ben his sause maad to his delyt 139G0 

To make him have a newe appetit. 

But certes he that haunteth suche deUces, 

Is deed ther, whiles that he lyveth in \ices. 

A licorous thing is wyn, and dronkenesse 

Is ful of strysyng and of wi'ecchednesse. 

O dronke man, disfignired is thi face, 

Sour is thy breth, foul artow to embrace : 

And thurgh thi dronkenesse sowneth the soma, 

As though thou seydest ay, Sampsoun, Sampsoun: 

And yit, God wot, Sampson drank never wyu. 13970 

Thow fallist, as it were a stiked s-\vyn : 

Thy tonge is lost, and al thin honest cure, 

For dronkenes is verray sepulture 

Of mamies witt and his discrecioun. 

In whom that drynk hath dominacioun, 

He can no coimseil kepe, it is no drede. 

Ne keep yow from the white and from the rede, 

And namely fro the white wyn of Leepe, 

13968 — dronkenesse. Tyrwhitt has dronken nose, which is perhaps the 
better reading. 

13978 — while wyn of Leepe. " According to the geographers, Lepe 
was not far from Cadiz. This wine, of whatever sort it may have been, 
was probably much stronger than the Gascon wines, usually drunk in 
England. La Ilochelle and Bordeaux, the two chief ports of Gascony, 
were both, in Chaucer's time, part of the English dominions. Spanish 
wines might also be more alluring upon account of their greater rarity. 
Among tlie Orders of the Koyal Household, in 1 604, i.s the following. 
(MS. Harl. 293, fol. 162.) ' And whereas, in tymes past, Spanish 


That is to selle in Fleetstreet or iu Chepe. 

This ■svyn of Spayne crepith subtily 13980 

In other •wynes growyng faste by, 

Of which ther riseth such fumosite, 

That Tvhan a man hath dronke draughtes thre, 

And weneth that he be at horn in Chepe, 

He is in Spayne, right at the toun of Lepe, 

Nought at the Eocliel, ne at Bui'deaux toun; 

And thanne wol thai say, Sampsoun, Sampsoun. 

But herkeu, lordyngs, o word, I you i)ray, 

That alia the soverayn actes, dar I say. 

Of victories iu the Olde Testament, 13990 

That thurgh the ven-ay God omnipotent 

Were doon in abstinence and in prayere : 

Lokith the Bible, and ther ye may it Mere. 

Loke Atthila, the grete conqueroui-, 

Deyd in his sleep, with schame and dishonour, 

Bleedyng ay at his nose in dronkenesse : 

A captayn schuld ay lyve iu sobrenesse. 

And over al this, avyse yow right wel, 

WTiat was comaunded unto Lamuel ; 

Nought Samuel, but Lamuel sa}- I. liooo 

wines, called sacke, were little or noe whit use ia our courte, and that 
in later years, though not of ordinary allowance, it was thought convenient, 
that noblemen, etc. might have a hoiile or glass, etc. "We understanding 
that it is now used as common drinke, etc., reduce the allowance to twelve 
gallons a day for the court, etc.'" — Tyrwhitt. 

iyjH)—Fleelslreet. So the Harl MS. The Lunsd. MS. reads Fische- 
strete, which is the reading adopted by Tyrwhitt. 

13993— /(/ere. The Lansd. MS. and Tyrwhitt have, Icre. 

13994 — Atthila. Attila died iu the night suffocated by an ha;morrage, 
brought on by a debauch, in the year 453, when he was preparing for a 
new invasion of Italv. 


Reclith the Bible, and fyudeth expresly 
Of wyu gexyng to hem that han justice. 
No more of this, for it may wel suffice. 
And now that I have spoke of glotonye, 
Now ml I yow defende hasardrye. 

Hasard is verray moder of lesynges, 
And of deceipt, and ciu'sed forsweringes : 
Blaspheme of Crist, manslaught, and wast also 
Of catel, and of tyme ; and forthermo 
It is reproef, and contrair of honour, i^oio 

For to be halde a comim hasardour. 
And ever the heyer he is of astaat. 
The more is he liolden desolaat. 
If that a prince use hasardrie, 
In alle governance and policie 
He is, as by comim opinioun, 
Holde the lasse in reputacioun. 
Stilbon, that was a wis embasitour. 
Was sent unto Coiinthe with gi'et honour 
Fro Lacidome, to make hir alHaimce : 14020 

And whan he cam, him happede par ckaunce. 
That alle the grettest that were of that lond 
Playing atte hasard he hem fond. 

14001 — Bedith the Bible. See Proverbs xxin. 

14020 — Lacidome. The Lansdowne MS. reads Calidonye, and 
Tyrwiiitt adopts C'alidone in his text, but he observes in the note, " John 
of Sahsbury, from whom our author probably took this story and the 
following, calls him Chilon. I'olycrat. lib. i, c. 5 Chilon Lacedienionius, 
jugendiE societatis causa missus Corinthura, duces et seniores populi lu- 
dentes invenit in alea. Infecto itaque uegotio reversus est, &c. Ac- 
cordingly in ver. 14020, MS. C. 1. reads very rightly Lacedomye instead 
of Calidone, the common reailing. Our author has before used Lacedomie 
for LacedcBmon." 


For which, as soone as it mighte be, 

He stal him hoom ageiu to his contre, 

And saicle ther : "I nyl nouglit lese my name, 

I nyl not take on me so gret diffame, 

Yow for to allie unto noon hasardoures. 

Sendeth som other ^vise embasitoures, 

For by my trouthe, me were lever dye, MOSO 

Thau I yow scholde to hasardours allye. 

For ye, that beu 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 paii'e dees of gold in scorn. 
For he had used hasard ther to-forn : 
For which he hi eld liis gloir and his renoun 1 1040 
At no valieu or reputacioun. 
Lordes may fpide other maner play 
Honest y-nough to diyve away the day. 

Now wol I speke of othes fals and grete 
A word or tuo, as other bookes entrete. 
Gret swering is a thing abhominable, 
And fals swering is more reprovable. 
Tlie hyhe God forbad sweryng at al, 
Witnes on Mathew : but in special 
Of sweryng saith the holy Jeremye, ^^^^^ 

Thou schalt say soth thin othes, and not lye ; 

M03S — hazard This is TyrwhiU's reading, supported by the Lansd. 
MS. wliich reads ha.ardry. The Harl. MS. reads tavern, which does not 
agree so well with the context. 


And swere in doom, aud eek iu right wisnes; 
But ydel sweiyng is a cui-sednes. 
Biliold and se, ther in the firste table 
Of hihe Groddes heste honuvable, 
How that the secounde heste of him is this : 
Tak not in ydel my name or amys. 
Lo, rather he forhedith such sweiyng, 
Than homicide, or many a corsed thing. 
I say that as by order thus it stoudith ; - 14060 

This knoweth he that the hestes miderstondeth, 
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. Tiiese 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 tivo in 
his hondes, and two in Ids 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 he overcam his enemyes, &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 Gloucestershire, 
was founded hy Richard king of the Eomans, 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 father's abbey of Hailes, and 
some time after gave the other two parts to an abbey of his own 
foundation, at Ashrug, near Berkhamsted. Holhnsh. v. ii. p. 275. '• 


This fniyt 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 
Bifoni a corps, was caried to the grave: i^oso 

That oon of hem gan calle unto his knave, 

" Go bet," quoth he, " and axe redily. 
What corps is that, that passeth her forthliy : 
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 prive thef, men clepen Deth, '4090 

That in this centre al the peple sleth. 
And with his spere he smot his hert a-tuo. 
And went his way withoute wordes mo. 

14071 — hicchid boones. This is the general reading of the manu- 
scripts, and Tyrwliitt acted unadvisedly in changing it to hicchel. 
Bicched bones appears to have heen not an unconiinon term for dice: 
in the Tovrnclcy mystery of the Processus Takntorum, where the 
executioners are deciding tlicnr right to Christ's tunic hy throwing the 
dice, one of them (p. 241), wlio has lost, exclaims, — 

I was falsly hegylyd withe thise hyclud bones, 
Ther cursyd thav he! 


He hath a thousand slayn this pestilence. 
And, maistev, er ye come in his presence, 
Me thinketh 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 no mo re." 

" By seinte Mary! " sayde this taverner, moo 

" The child saith soth ; for he hath slayn this yecr. 
Hens over a myle, withinne a gret village, 
Bothe man and womman, child, and hyne, and page ; 
I trowe his habitacioun be there. 
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 Goddis digne boones! i'^""* 

Herkneth, felaws, we thre ben al oones: 
Let ech of us hold up his bond 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 swome 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 line. 

14119 — sivorne. Tyrwhitt reads fiocfn, but he does not appear to have 
been aware of the I'requency of this sworn fraternity in medieval story. 



And up thai start}Ti, al dronke iu this rage, ui'^^o 

And fortli thai goon towardes that viHage, 

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 tomed over a style, 

Whan thai han 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!" 14130 

The proudest of the lyotoures thre 

Answerd agein, "What? carle, with soiy grace. 

Why artow al for-wrapped save thi face? 

Whi ly^'est thou so longe in so gret age?" 

This olde man gan loke on liis visage. 

And saide thus : " For that I can not iyade 

A man, though that I walke into Inde, 

Neither ia cite noon, ne in village. 

That wol chauuge his youthe for myn age ; 

And therfore moot I have myn age stille 14U0 

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 knokke 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 ail haire clout to wrap in me.' 

But yet to me sche wol not do that grace, 

For wliich ful pale and welkid is my face. 

Biit, 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 : w^herfor I yow rede, 

Ne doth mito an old man more harm now, uieo 

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 thider as I have to goo." 
"Nay, olde cherl, by God! thou schalt not so," 

Sayde that other hasardour anoon ; 
" Thou paitist nought so lightly, by seint Johaii! 

Thou spak right now of thilke traitour Deth, 

That in tliis contre alle oure frendes sleth ; 

Have her my trouth, as thou art his aspye, uno 

Tel wher he 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 him no thing hyde. 


Se ye that ook? right ther ye schiiln him fynde. 14180 
God save yow, that bought agein maiik}Tide, 
And yow amend." Thus sayde this olde man, 
And everich of these rioto\;res 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 doxm thai sette hem by that precious herd. 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 hath fortmie to us given 
In mirth and jolyte our lif to lyven, 
And lightly as it comth, so wil we speude. 
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 
Hom to myn hous, or ellis unto youres, 11200 

(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 Avolde 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. 

IIIS6 — a seven lunshels. So MS!'. Harl. aud Lausil. Tjrwhitt reads, 
an cighte butshcU. 


Wherfore I rede, that cut among us alle 

We drawe, and let se wher the cut wil falle : 

And he that hath the cut, with herte blithe >i2io 

Schal renne to the toun, and that ful svvithe. 

And bring us bred and wjti ful prively : 

And tuo of us schal kepe subtilly 

This tresour wel : and if he wil not tai'ie, 

Whan it is night, we wol this tresour caiie 

By oon assent, ther as us liketh best." 

That oon of hem the cut brought in his fest. 
And bad hem draAve and loke wher it wil falle. 
And it fel on the yongest of hem alle : 
And forth toward the toim he went anoou. i'i2"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 swome 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 depaited were bitwix us tuo, 
Had I not doon a frendes torn to the ?" 1^230 

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 biinge it wel aboute." 

" I graunte," quod that other, " withoute doute, 


That by my trouthe I wil the nouglit by^-ray." 

" Now," quod the first, " thou wost ^vel ^ve ben tway. 
And two of us schuln stranger be than oon. 1*240 
Lok, -whanne he is sett, thou right anoon 
Arys, as though thou woldest with him pleye ; 
And I schal ryf him thui'gh the sydes tweye, 
Whils that thou strogelest with him as in game, 
And with thi dagger loke thou do the same ; 
And than schal al the gold departed be. 
My dere frend, bit-\vixe the and me: 
Than may we oure lustes al fulfille, 
And play at dees right at our owne willed" 
And thus accorded ben these schrewes twayn, 1A250 
To sle the thridde, as ye herd me sayn. 

This yongest, which that wente to the toun, 
Ful fast in hert he rollith up and doun 
The beaute of the florins newe and bright ; 
" O Lord !" quod he, " if so were that I might 
Have al this gold unto my self alloone, 
Ther is no man that lyveth under the troone 
Of God, that schulde ly^e so meiy as I." 
And atte last the feend oui'e enemy 
Put in his thought, that he schuld poysoun beye, 14260 
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 brynge. 
For this witterly was his ful entent 
To slen hem bothe, and never to repent. 
And forth lie goth, no longer wold he tary. 
Into the toun unto a potecary, 


And prayde liim that he him wolde selle 

Som poysomi, that he might his rattis quelle. 

And eek ther was a polkat in his hawe, 14270 

That, as he sayde, his capoims had i-slawe : 

And said he wold him wi'eke, if that he might, 

On vermyn, that destroyed him by night. 

Thapotecaiy answerd : " And thou schalt have 

A thing that, also God my soule save, 

In al this world ther nys no creatm'e, 

That ete or dronk had of this confecture, 

Nought but the moimtaimce of a com of whete, 

That he ne schuld his lif auoon 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 

Tliis poysoun in a box, and sins he ran 

Into the nexte stret unto a man, 

And borwed of him large hotels thi'e ; 

And in the two his poysouD pom'ed 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 notour, with sory grace, 

Hath fillid with wyn his grete hotels thre, 

To his felaws agein repaireth he. 

What nedith it therof to sermoim more ? 
For right as thay had cast his deth bifore, 
Eight so thay ban 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 his body bery." 
And afterward it happed him^3«r cas, l43oo 

To take the botel ther the poysoun was, 
And drank, and gaf his felaw drink also, 
For which anon thay sterved bothe tuo. 
But certes I suppose that Axjcen 
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 synne ful of cursednesse ! 14310 

traytorous homicidy ! O wikkednesse ! 
glotony, luxui-ie, and hasai'drye ! 
Thou blasphemour of Crist with vilanye, 
And othes grete, of usage and of pride ! 
Alias ! mankjTide, how may it bytyde. 
That to thy creatour, which that the wrought, 
And \\ith liis 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 syime of avarice. M32() 

Myn holy pardoun may you alle warice. 
So that ye offi'en noblis or starlinges. 
Or elles silver spones, broches, or rynges. 

14304 — Avyccn. TLe Harl. MS. reads, Amycen. A\-icenna was one 
of (lie most distinguished physicians of the Arabian school of the eleventh 
cpnliirv, and enjoyed great poimlarity in the Middle Ages. 


Bowith your hecles under this holy hulle. 
Cometh forth, ye wyves, and offreth your woUe ; 
Your names I entre her in my rolle anoon ; 
Into the blis of heven schul ye goon ; 
I yow assoile by myn heyh power, 
If ye woki offre, as clene and eek als cler 
As ye were bom. And, sires, lo, thus I preche; 14330 
And Jhesu Crist, that is oui'e soules leche, 
So graunte yow his pardoun to recey\'e ; 
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 Engeloud, 
Which were me geve by the popes hond. 
If eny of yow wol of devocioun 
Offren, and have myn absolucioun, 
Cometh forth anon, and knehth her adomi, 11340 

And ye schul have here my pardoun. 
Or elles taldth pardoun, as ye wende, 
Al newe and freissch at every townes ende, 
So that ye ofii'en 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 pai'doner 
Tassoile yow in centre as ye lyde, 
For aventures which that may bytyde. 

14341 — And ye schul have here. Tyrwhitt reads, Jnrf meekly receivelh. 
The LaDsd. MS. reads this and following line on a different rhyme,— 
Comraeth for anone, and kneleth adowne here, 
And ye schal have my pardon that is dere. 


For imraimter ther may falle oon, or tuo, 11350 

Doun of liis hors, and breke his uekke a-tuo. 
Loke, such a seurete is to you alle 
That I am in your felascliip 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 envolijoed in synne. 
Com forth, sire ost, and oflFer first anoon, 
And thou schalt kisse the reliquis everichoon, 
Ye, for a grote ; imbocle anon tlii pui's." US6() 

" Nay, nay," quod he, " than have I Cristes cm-s! 
Let be," quod he, "it schal not be, so theech. 
Thou coldest make me kisse thin olde breech. 
And swere it were a relik of a seynt. 
Though it were with thy foimdement depejnit. 
But by the cros, which that seynt Heleyn fond, 
I w^old 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 schul be schiyned in an hogges tord." li^^O 
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 knight 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 meiy of cheere ; 
And ye, sir host, that ben to me so deerc. 


I pray yow that ye kisse the Pardoner ; i^sso 

And, Pardoner, I pray yow draweth yow ner, 
And as we dede, let us laugh and play." 
Anon thay kisse, and riden forth her way. 


[Our hoste upon his stirrops stode anon, 
And saide, " Good men, herkeneth eveiichou, 
This was a thrifty tale for the nones. 
Sire parish preest," quod he, " for Goddes hones, 
Tell us a tale, as was thy forward yore : 
I see wel that ye lemed men in lore 
Can mochel good, by Goddes dignitee." 1-1390 

The Person him answerd: '■' Benedicite ! 
What eileth the man, so sinfully to swere ?" 

The Schipmannes Prologe. The Shipman's tale has no prologue in the 
Harl. MS., and iu other of the best copies of the Canterbury Tales. The 
prologue here given is from Tyrwhitt, who observes, — " The tale of the 
Shipman 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 the 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 Pardoneres tale may very properly be called a thrifty tale, 
and he him.self a learned man (ver. 14475,8); and all the latter part, 
though highly improper in the mouth of the curteis 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 waj' in which diflerent persons attempted to supply 
the deficiencies in Chaucer's unfinished work : — 

Bot than spak cure oste unto maister Schipman, 
" Maister," quod he, " to us summe tale tel ye can, 

Wherewithe ye myght glad al this company, 

If it were youre pleseinge, I wote wele sekurlye." 
" Sertes," quod this Schipman, " a tale I can telle. 

And therforc herkeneth hynderw ard how that I will spelle." 


Our hoste answerd: "0 Jankin, be ye there ? 

Now, good men," quod oiu- hoste, " herkneth to me. 

I smell a loller in the wind," quod he. 
" Abideth for Goddes digne passion, 

For we schul hau a predication : 

This loller here wol prechen us somwhat." 

" Nay by my fathers soule ! that schal he uat." 

Sayde the Schipman, " here schal he nat preche, 

He schal no gospel glosen here ne teche. 1*401 

We leven al in the gret God, " quod he. 
" He woldeu sowen som difficultee. 

Or springen cockle in our clene come. 

And therfore, hoste, I warne thee befonae, 

My joly body schal a tale telle, 

And I schal clinlcen you so mery a belle, 

That I schal waken al this compagnie : 

But it schal not ben of philosophie, 

Ne of physike, ne ternies queinte of lawe ; uno 

Ther is but litel Latin in my mawe."] 


A Marchaunt whilom dwelled at Seint Denys, 
That riche was, for wliich men hild him Avys. 

14395 — a loller. This is in character, as appears from a treatise of the 
time. Had. Calal.n. 1666. " Now in Engelond it is a comun protectioim 
ayens presecutiouns — if a man is customable to swere nedeles and fals and 
unavised, by 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." — Tynvhiit. 

14101 — Or springeti cockle. This alludes to a punning derivation of 
Lollard, from the Latin lolium. 

The Schipmannes Tale. In this tale also Chaucer probably gives an 
Knglish version of an earlier French fabliau. The same story probablj' 


A wyf he had of excellent beaute, 

And companable, and reverent was sche ; 

Which is a thing that causeth more despence, 

Than worth is al the cher and reverence, 

That men doon hem at festes or at daimces. 

Such salutacioims and continaimces 

Passeth, as doth the schadow on a wal : J4t20 

But wo is him that pave moot for al. 

The sely housbond algat moste pay, 

He most us clothe in ful good array 

Al for his oughne worschip richely : 

In which array we daunce jolily. 

And if that he may not, paraventure, 

Or elles wi). not such dispens endure, 

But thynketh it is wasted and i-lost, 

Than moot another paye for oure cost, 

Or lene us gold, that is perilous. luso 

This worthy marchaunt huld a noble hous, 
For wliich he hadde alday gret repair 
For his largesce, and for his wyf was fair. 
What wonder is ? but herkneth to my tale. 

Amonges al these gestes gret and smale, 
Ther was a monk, a fair man and a bold, 
I trowe, thritty wynter he was old, 
That ever in oon was drawyng to that place. 
This yonge monk, that was so fair of face, 
Aqueynted was so with the goode man, i^^'^o 

Sith that her firste knowleche bygan, 
That in his hous as familier was he, 

formed the groundwork in the first story in the Eighth Day of I he Deca- 
meron, which differs little from Chaucer's tale, and was frequently imi- 
tated hy subsequent conte'im. 


As it possibil is a freud to be. 

Aud for as mochil as tliis goode man 

And eek this monk, of which that I bygan, 

Were bothe tuo i-boru in oon Aillage, 

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 plesauuce. •'^^^^ 

Thus ben thay knyt with eteme alliaunce, 

And ilk of hem gan other to assure 

Of brotherhed, whil that her lif may dure. 

Fre was daun Johan, and namely of despeuce 

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 his meyne, 

Whan that he com, som maner honest thing ; i^^^o 

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 porcioim of ware : 
For which he hath to Paris sent anoon 
A messanger, and pmyed hath dan Johan 

114o4 — namely. I liave adopted this reading Iroiii tlie Laiisd. MS and 
Tvrwhitt, as giving apparently the best sense. The Harl. MS. reads. /«««/;/. 

14466 — Bruges. Bruges was the grand central mart of European 
commerce in the Middle Ages, until its decline in conse(iijeuce ol' the 
wars and troubles of the sixteenth century. 


That he schuld come to Seint Denys, and play 1^470 

With him, and with his yvjf, a day ox' tway, 

Er he to Brigges went, in alle ^vise. 

This nobil monk, of which I yow devyse, 

Hath of his abbot, as him list, licence, 

(Bycause he was a man of heih prudence. 

And eek an ofl&cer out for to lyde, 

To se her graunges and her hemes wyde) ; 

And unto Seint Denys he cometh anoou. 

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 volantyu, as ay was his usage : 

And thus I lete hem ete, and drynk, and play, 

This marchaunt and his monk, a day or tway. 

The thridde day this marchaund up he liseth, 
And on his needes sadly him a\'yseth : 
And up into his countour hous goth he, 

To rekjTi with him self, as wel may be, 

Of thilke yer, how that it 'with him stood, 14490 

And how that be dispended had his good, 

And if that he encresced were or noon. 

His bookes and his bagges many oon 

He hath byforn him on his counter bord. 

For riche was his tresor and his hord ; 

For which ful fast his countour dore he schette ; 

And eek he wolde no man schold him lette 

lUSS—volantyn. SotheHarl. MS. TheLansil. MS. has rote^iVe, which 
is the reading adopted by Tyrwhitt, and is probably the correct one. 


Of his accomi^tes, for the mene tyme : 
And thus he sat, til it was passed prime. 

Dan Johan was risen in the morn also, i^soo 

And in the gardyn walkith 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, 
AVhich as hir list sche may goveme and gye. 
For yit under the yerde was the mayde. 
" dare cosyn myn, dan Johan," sche sayde, 
" What ayleth yow so rathe to arise?" • '-'i** 

" Nece," quod he, " it aught y-nough siiffise 
Fyve 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 smalo. 
But, dere nece, why be ye so pale ? 
I trowe certis, that oure goode man 
Hath on yow laborid, sith the night bygan, 
That yow were nede to resten hastiliche." iAr,2o 

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 mya, 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 
Tliat l;iss;f liHt hath to that sory play ; 


For I may syiige alias and waylaway 

That I ^Yas bom, but to no -night,'' quod sche, 14530 
" Dar I not telle how it stent with me. 

WHierfor I think out of this lend 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 soi*w, or eny drede, 

For-do youi" self : but telleth me your greef, 

Paraventure I may m youre mescheef 

Couucel or help : and therfor telleth me 14540 

Al your annoy, for it sclial 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 again," 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, 

Bvwreye word of thing that ye me telle, 

Xot for no cosynage, ne alhaunce, 14550 

But verrayly for love and afi&aunce." 

Thus ben thay sworn, and hempon i-kist, 

And ilk of hem told other what hem list. 
" Cosyn," quod sche, " if that I had a space. 

As I have noon, and nandy in this place, 

Then wold I telle a legend of my lyf. 

What I have suffred sith I was a wyi 

With myn housbond, though he be your cosyn." 





" Nay," quod this monk, " by God and seint Martyn ! 

He is no more cos^^l unto me, 14560 

Than is this leef that hongeth on the tre : 

I cleped him so, by seint Denis of Fraunce, 

To have the more cause of acqueyntaunce 

Of yow, -which I have loved specially 

Aboven alia wommen 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 hyde, 

But out it moot, I may no more abyde. 

Myn housbond is to me the worste man. 

That ever was siththe tlie world bigan : 

But sith I am a wif, it sit nought me 

To telle no ^vight of cure privete, 

Neyther a bedde, ne 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 understonde. 

Save unto yow thus moche telle I schal : 

As help me God, he is nought wortli 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 scholde be 


14.')66. This line is omitterl in MS. Harl. and is liere given from MS. 



Hardy, and wys, and riclie, and therto fre, 
And bvixom to liis wyf, and freisch on bedde. 
But by the Lord that for us alle bledde, 
For his honour my selveu to aiTay, '^''^^ 

A sonday next comyng yit most I pay 
An hmidred frank, or elles T am lorn. 
Yit were me lever that I were miborn. 
Than me were doon a sclaunder or vilenye. 
And if myn housbond eek might it espie, 
I ner but lost; and therfor I yow pray 
Lene me this summe, or elles mot T dey. 
Dan Johan, I seye, lene me tliis hundred frankes ; 
Parde I wil nought faile yow my thankes, 
If that yow list to do that I yow pray. 14600 

For at a certein day I wol yow pay. 
And do to yow what pleasaunce and senise 
That I may do, right as you Hst devyse : 
And but I do, God take on me vengeavmce, 
As foul as hadde Geneloun of Fraunce !" 
This gentil monk answard in tliis 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 Flaundres fare, 14C10 
I schal deliver yow out of yoiu'e care. 

14597-14600. These four lines are also omitted in the Harl MS , by 
an evident error of the scribe, arising from a similar termination of lines 
14596 and 14600. They are here supplied from the Lausd. MS. 

14605 — Gineloun. Geneloun, or Ganclon, in the old romances, was 
the person whose treason led to the disastrous battle of Roncesvalles. 

U 2 


For I wol bringe yow an hundred fi-ankes." 

And with that word he caught hir by the schankes, 

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, 14620 

And bad the cookes that thai schohl hem liye. 
So that men myghte dyne, and that 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 thing(>s ? 
The devel have part of alle such rekenynges. 
Ye have i-nough pardy of Goddes sonde. wa^Q 

Com doun to day, and let your bagges stonde. 
Ne 1)6 ye not aschamed, that daun Johan 
Schal alday fastyug thus elenge goon ? 
What? let us Mere masse, and gowe dyne." 

"Wif," quod this man, " litel canstow divine 
The curious besniesse 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 tlie reading of the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. 
Tvrnhitt has suhslitutcd haknder. 



Scarsly amonges twelve, two schulu thrive 

Continually, lastyng into her age. 1^640 

We may wel make cheer and good visage, 

And drjxe forth the world, as it may be, 

And kepen our estat in private, 

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 haj) and fortun in our chapmanhede. 

To Flaundres wil I go to morw at day, i-itijo 

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 mauer wise, 

That to a thrifty housbond may suffise. 

The lakketh noon array, ne no v'itaile ; 

Of silver in thy purs thou mayst not faile." 

And with that word his countour dore he schitte, UtitiO 

And domi 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.,exceiit that the latter has tweyne for two, Tjrwhitt reads, amon(/«s 
twenty, ten. 

14640 — her. The LansJ. MS. reads, our. 

146.57 — huushond. Tlii.s is the reading of the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. 
Tyrwhitt reads, houshold. I think the reading of tlie MSS. is the best — 
thou hast enough money, consistent with a tlirility husband. 


And to the dyner faste tliay hem spedde, 
And rychely tliis chapman the monk fcdde. 

And after dpier daun Johan sohrely 
This chapman took on p?rt, and p lively 
Sayd him thus : " Cosyn, it stondeth so, 
That, wel I se, to Brigges wol ye go ; 
God and seint Austyn spede you and gyde. > i*^'*^ 

I pray yow, cosyn, wisly that ye ryde ; 
Govemeth yow also of youi* diete 
AI temperelly, and namely in this hete. 
Bit^^ix us tuo nedeth no straunge fare ; 
Far wel, cospi, God schilde you fro care. 
If eny thing ther he hy 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, ^4680 

1 wolde pray yow for to lene me 

An hmidred frankes for a wyke or tweye, 

For certeyn bestis that I moste beye, 

To store with a place that is oures : 

(God help me so, I wolde it were youres !) 

T 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. ' ^690 

Graunt mercy of your cost and of your cheere." 

This noble merchamit gentilly anoon 
Answerd and savde : "0 cosyn daun Johan, 

THE Stllir.MANNKS TALE. '295 

Now sikerly this is a smal request : 

My gold is youres, wbamie that yow lest, 

And nought oouly my gold, but my chafFare: 

Tak what yow liste, God schilde that ye spai'e ! 

But oou thing is, ye know it wel y-nough 

Of chapmen, that her money is here plough. 

We may creaunce whils we have a name, i47oo 

But goldles for to be it is no game. 

Pay it agajTi, whan it lith in your ese ; 

After my might ful fayn wold I yow plese." 

This hundred fi'ankes 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-wai'd, his prentis wel him gydeth, 14711 
Til that he cam to Brigges merily. 
Now goth this marchaund faste and busily 
Aboute his neede, and bieth, and 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 dwelle. 

The sonday next the marchaund was agoon, 
To Seint Denys i-come is daim Johan, 
With croune and herd al freisch and newe i-schave. 
In al the hous ther nas so litel a knave, 1^721 

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 faii'e wif acordith with dan Johan, 

That for these hundred frank he schukl al night 

Have hir in his armes bolt upright : 

And this acord parformed was in dede. 

In mirth al night a bisy lif thay lede 

Til it was day, that dan Johan went his way, ^4730 

And bad the meigne far wel, 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 marchauud, whan that ended was the faire. 
To Seyat Denys he gan for to repeire, 
And with his \\ii he maketh fest and cheere, 
And tellith liir that chaflfar is so deere. 
That needes most he make a chevisaunce, 1-J740 

For he was bounde in a reconisaunce. 
To paye twenty thousand scheldes anoon. 
For which this marchaund is to Paris goon, 
To borwe of certeyn frendes that he hadde 
A certein frankes, and some ^vith liim he ladde. 
And whan that he was come into the toma. 
For gret chiertee and gret afifeccioun 
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, ii/.io 

147 i2—schcldcii. Tlie literal version of the French ecus, or crowns. 
They are saifl 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 doon, whan thay beu 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 chevyssaims, as for his best : 

And than he schulde be in joye and rest. 

Dan Johan answeixle, " 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 scheld sehuld ye not mysse, 

For ye so kyndely this other day 

Lente me gold ; and as I can and may 

I thanke yow, by God and by seint Jame. 

But natheles I took it to oui'e dame, 

Youre "wif at home, the same gold agein 

Upon your bench, sche wot it wel certeyn, 

By certein toknes that I can hir telle. li^^^) 

Now by your leve, I may no leuger duelle ; 

Om'e 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 marchaimd, which that was bothe war and wys, 

147.56 — hole. I Lave added this word from the Lansd, MS. It is 
omitted in the Harl. MS. 

14768 — al home. These words also are added from the Lansd. MS. 
as being evidently necessary to complete the metre. 


Creaunced hath, aud payed eek iu Parys 

To certeyn Lombardes redy in hir hond 

This somme of gold, and took of hem his bond, 

Aud horn he goth, as meiy as a popiujay. i^'So 

For Avel he knew he stood iu such aiTay, 

That needes most he ^^■yune in that viage 

A thousand fi-ankes, above al his costage. 

His wyf fill redy mette him at the gate. 

As sche -was -wont of old usage algate : 

And al that night in mirthe thay ben sette, 

For he was riehe, and clerly out of dette. 

Whan it was day, this marchaund gan embrace 

His wyf al newe, and kist hir on hir face. 

And up he goth, and maketh it ful tough. 14790 

" No more," quod sche, " by God, ye have y-nough :" 
Aud wantounly with him sche lay and playde, 
Til atte laste thus this marchaund sayde : 

" By God," quod he, " I am a litel wroth 
With yow, my wyf, although it be me loth : 
And wite ye why ? by God, as that I gesse. 
Ye han i-maad a maner straungenesse 
Bitwixe me and my cosyn dan Johan. 
Ye schold have warned me, er I had goon. 
That he yow had an hundred frankes i)ayd 14800 

14778 — Lomhardeg. It is scarcely necessary to inform the reader that 
the T/inihard merchants were the chief nionpy dealers in the thirteenth 
and fourteenth centuries, after the Jews had been placed under a ban. 
I/ombard Street in London seems to have preserved traditionally the 
peculiar character given to it hj' its former inhabitants from wliom it was 



By redy tokne: aud huld him evil appayd 

For that I to hiin spak of che\7saunce, 

(Me semed so as by his countenauuce) : 

But uatheles, by God of heven 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 

T may liim axe a thing that he hath payed." u^^o 
This vryi was not atfered ne affray ed. 

But boldely sche sayde, and that anoon ; 
' Mary ! I diffy that false 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 thei-with myn honour and my prow, 

For cospiage, and eek for hele cheer i'^^^^ 

That he hath had ful ofte tyme heer. 

But synnes that I stonde in this disjoynt, 

I wol answer yow schoitly to the poynt. 

Ye han mo slakke dettom's 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, bistowed it every del. i-^^so 


And for I have bistowed it so wel 

For youre honour, for Goddes sake I say, 

As beth nought wroth, but let us laugh and j^lay ; 

Ye schul my joly body have to v^^edde : ' 

By God, I wol not pay yow but on bedde : 

Forgeve it me, myn o\vne spouse deere ; 

TiuTie hider-ward and make better cheere." 

This marchaund saugh noon other remedy : 
And for to chide, it nas but foly, 
Sith that the thing may not amendid be. 14840 

" Now, wii," 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 sende 
Talyng y-nough, unto our \j\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 aj)e, 
And in his ^vyves eek, by seint Austyu. 
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 Prioresse, by your leve, 

So that I wist I scholde yow not greve, 

I wolde deme, that ye telle scholde 1^*^60 

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. 


O Lord, oui'e 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 bomite 
Parformed is ; on oure brest soukynge 
Som tyme schewe thay thin heriynge. lis'io 

"Wherfore in laude, as I best can or may, 
Of the and of thy white lily flour, 
"VATiich that the bar, and is a mayde alway. 
To telle a story I wil do my labour ; 
Nought that I may encresce youi'e honour, 
For sche hir silf is honour and roote 
Of boimte, next hir sone, and soules boote. 

O moodir mayde, o mayde mooder fre, 
O bussh unbrent, brennvng in Moises sight. 

Tlte Prioresses Tale. The subject of this story was a very populai* 
legend in the middle ages, told in a variety of forms, and located in as 
many difTerent places, but tending and perhaps intended to keep up a 
strong prejudice against the Jews. It is not necessary to enumerate tliem. 

1 1864 — Lord, oure lord. This is a translation of the first words of 
the eighth Psalm, Domine, dominus iioskr, etc. 


That ra\7sshedest doun fro the deite, 14880 

Thurgh thin humblesse, the gost that m the aUght : 
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 hifom 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 worthinesse, 
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, i^noo 

Susteyned by a lord of that contre, 
For foul usure, and lucre of felonye, 
Hateful to Crist, and to his compaignye : 
And thurgh the strete men might ride and wende, 
For it was fre, and open at everich ende. 

1489S— Gydeth. Tlie Har). MS. has emlelh. 

14899 — Acy. Tim Lansd. M.S. reads, Jcc. Tyrwliitt Asie, i.e. Asia. 
14902 — The Lansd. MS. and Tyrwliitt have vilanye. These two words 
are not unfrequently interdianged in the MSS. 


A litel scole of Cristen folk tlier stood 
Doun at the forther eude, in which ther were 
Children an heep y-comen of Cristen blood, 
That lered in that scole jer by yere 
Such maner doctrine as men used there : i^sio 

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 save yer was of age, 
That day by day to scole was his wone, 
And eek also, wherso he saugh tliymage 
Of Cristes moder, had he in usage, 
As him was taught, to knele adoun, and say 
His Ave Maria, as he goth by the way. 

Thus hath this ^ridow hir litel child i-taught l^9!^o 
Oure blisful lady, Cristes moder deere. 
To worscliip ay, and he forgat it nought : 
For cely child wil alway soone leere. 
But ay whan I remembre of this matiere, 
Seint Nicholas stont ever in my presence. 
For he so youg to Crist dede reverence. 

This litel child his litel book lemynge, 
As he sat in the scole in his primere. 
He alma redemjitoris herde synge, 
As children lemed her antiphonere : 14930 

14925 — Seint Nicholas. We have an amusing account of the very 
early piety of this saint in his lesson, Brev. Roman, vi Decerah. " Cujus 
viri sanctitas, quanta futura esset, jam ab incunabulis apparuit. Nam 
infans, cum reliquas dies lac nutricis frequens sucjeret, quartaet sexta feria 
(on Wednesdays and Fridays) semcl duntaxat, idque vesperi, sugebat." 


Aiid as he durst, he drough him uer and ueere, 
And herkned ever the vrordes and the note, 
Til he the firste vers couthe al by rote. 

Nought wist he what this Latyn was to say, 
For he so youg 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 liire 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 tliis song i-maad in reverence 
Of Cristes moder?"' sayde this iimoceut; 
" 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 horn*, 
I wol it -conne, oure lady to honoure." 

His felaw taught him hom-ward piively 
From day to day, til he couthe it by rote, 
And than he song it wel and boldely ; 
Twyes on the day it passed thurgh his throte, 

14947 — no more ijramcr. The Lansd. MS. and TyrwliiU read, btit 
ftnal grammere. 


From word to word accordyng with the note. 

To scole-ward and hom-ward whan he went : 14960 

On Cristes moder was set al his entent. 

As I have sayd, thurghout the Jewiye 
This litel child as he cam to and fro, 
Ful merily than wold he synge and crie, 
alma redemptoris, 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 sei*pent Sathanas, 
That hath in Jewes hert his waspis nest, 14970 

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 desjtyt, and synge of such sentence. 
Which is agens your lawes reverence ?" 

Fi'o thennesforth the Jewes ban 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, 14980 

This false Jewe him hent, and huld ful faste. 
And kut his throte, and in a put liim caste, 

I say in a wardrobe thay him threw, 
Wher as the Jewes purgen her entrsdle. 
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 thretv him in alte laste. 

306 THE ca>;terbuhy tales. 

Mortlier wol out, certeyn it wil nought faile, 
And namly tlier thonour of God schuld sprede : 
The blood out crieth on your cursed dede. 

" O marth' sondit to virginite, i-iooo 

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 tliis litel child, but he cometh nought : 
For which as soone as it was dayes light, 
With face pale, in drede and busy thought, i^ooo 

Sche hath at scole and elles wher liim sought, 
Til fynally sche gan of hem aspye, 
That he was last seyn in the Jewerie. 

With moodres pite in hu* brest enclosed, 
Sche goth, as sche were half out of hir 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 ciu'sed Jewes sche him sought. i50io 

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, withinne a litel space. 
That in that place after hir sone sche cryde. 


Wher as he was cast in a put bysyde. 

grete God, that parformedist thin laude 
By mouth of iunocentz, lo, here thy might ! 
This gemme of chastite, this emeraude, '•'^'^o 

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 tliis 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 mankpide, '^^^'^ 

And after that the Jewes let he bynde. 

This child with pitous lamentacioun 
Up taken was, syngyng his song alway : 
And with 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 biinge fro the beere. 

With torment and with schamful deth echon 
This provost doth these Jewes for to sterve, 1-5040 
That of this moerder wist, and that anoon ; 
He wolde no such cursednesse observe : 
Evel sohal have, that evvl wol deserve. 

15022 — y-corve. I have substituted this reading (from the 
MS), for i-kut, the reading of the Hari. MS. 

X -2 


Therfore with wilde bors he dede hem drawe, 
Aud after that he heng hem by the lawe. 

Upon his beere ay lith the innocent 
Bifoni the chief auter whites the masse last : 
Aud after that, thabbot with his covent 
Han sped hem for to burie Mm ful fast : 
And whan thay halywater on him cast, 15050 

Yet spak this child, whan spreynde was the water, 
And song, ahna redemptoris mater. 

This abbot, which that was an holy man. 
As monkes ben, or elles oughte be, 
This yonge child to conjure he bigan. 
And sayd: " deere child, T halse thC; 
In vertu of the holy Tiinite, 
Tel me what is thy cause for to synge, 
Sith that thy throte is kit at my semynge." 

" My throte is kit unto my nekke-boon," 15060 
Sayde this child, " and as by way of kynde 
I schulde hau ben deed long tyme agoou : 
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 ahna lowde aud deere. 

" This welle of mercy, Cristes moder swete, 
I loved alway, as after ray connyuge : 
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 under my tonge. 


" Wherfor I synge, and synge moot certoyne 
111 houour of that blisful maydeu fre, 
Til fro my tonge tiikeu is the greyne. 
Aud after that thus saide sche to me ; 
My litil chikl, 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 awey 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 ginxf he fel adoun unto the groimde, 
And stille he lay, as he had ben y-bounde. 

The covent eek lay on the pavymeut 
Wepyng and herying Cristes moder deere. 
Aud 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 lane us for to meete ! 

O yonge Hughe of Lyncoln, slayn also 
With cui-sed Jewes, (as it is notable, 
For it nys but a Htel while ago), 
Pray eek for us, we synful folk unstable. 
That of his mercy God so merciable 

] 5095— -Hughe of Lyncoln. The story of Hugh of Lincoln, which was 
made the suhject of a variety of ballads, etc., is placed by the historians 
in the year 1255. The ballads in English and French, were collected 
together by M. Michel, and published at Paris in a small volume in 1834. 


On US his grete mercy multiplie, loioo 

For reverence of his modir Marie. 


Whan sayd was this miracle, every man 

As sober was, that wonder w-as to se, 

Til that oure host to jape he bigan, 

And than at erst he loked upon me. 

And sayde thus : " "V^Tiat man art thou?" quod he. 
" Thou lokest as thou woldest fynde 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^^^* 

This were a popet in an ann to embrace 

For any womman, smal and fair of face. 

He semeth elvisch by his countenaunce, 

For mito no wight doth he daliaunce. 

" Say now som what, sins other folk han 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 17m I lemed yore agoon." 15120 

" Ye, that is good," quod he, " now schul we heere 

Som deynte thing, me thinketh by thy cheere." 

15104 — he bigan. I have ventured to add the personal pronoun, 
which is wanting in the Harl. and Lansd. MSS., from Tyrwhitt. 



Lesteneth, lordyngs, in good eutent, 
And I wol telle verrayment 

Of myrthe and solas, 
Al of a Iviiyght was fair and gent 
In batail and in toniament, 

His name was sir Thopas. 
I-bore he was in fer centre, 
In Flaundres, al byyoude the se, ^^^^^ 

At Poperyng in the place ; 
His fader was a man ful fre. 
And lord he was of that centre : 

As it was Goddes grace. 
Sir Thopas wax a doughty swayn ; 
Whyt was his face as payndemayn, 

His lippes reed as rose ; 

The Tale of sir Thopas. The introduction of this story hy Chaucer 
is clearly intended as a satire on the dull metrical romances, then so 
popular, hut 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 he not a fragment of a romance 
dragged in by Chaucer. It has been stated that such a romance existed 
imder the title of The giant Ohjphant and chijlde Thopas, but literary 
historians have not yet been able to fiud 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 hne, the Lansd. MS. concluding with 
1. 1.5322, 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. 

151.31 — Poperyng. Popperingor Poppeling was aparishin the marches 
of Calais. 


His rode is lik scarlet en grayn, 
And I yow telle in good ceitayn 

He had a semly nose. 15140 

His heer, his herd, was lik safroun, 
That to his gii'dil raught adoun ; 

His schoon of cordewane ; 
Of Brigges were his hosen broun ; 
His robe was of sicladoun, 

That coste many a jane. 
He couthe limit at wilde deer, 
And ride on haukyng for ryver 

With gray goshauk 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 boui' 
Thay mourne for him, ^J«r amour, 

Whan hem were bet to slope ; 
But he was chast and no lecchour, 
And sweet as is the brembre flour 

That bereth the reede heepe. 

15146 — ^ane. A coin of Genoa (Janua), some of which, apparently of 
inferior value, are called in the English statutes galleij )ialfpence. The 
iiglaton, or siclaton, was a rich cloth or silk brought from the P^ast, and 
is therefore appropriately mentioned as bought with Genoese coin. 

15148 — on haukyng for ryvcr. The river side is commoidy described 
in the romances as the scene of hawking. Thus iu the Squier of Low 
Degree, — 

Horn ward thus schal ye ryde 
On haukyng by the ryvers syde, 
"With goshaukc and with gentil fawcon, 
With buglehorn and merlyon. 
See also before, 1. 6466. 

I5I52 — cny ram. Sec before, line 550 and the tale of Gamehjn,\. 172. 


Aucl SO it fel upon a day, 

For soth as I yow telle may, loieo 

Sir Thopas wold out ryde ; 
He worth upou his steede gray. 
And in his houd a launcegay, 

A long sword by his syde. 
He priketh tliurgh a fair forest, 
Theiin 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 cai'e. 15170 

Ther springen herbes greet and smale, 
The licorys and the cetewale. 

And many a clow gilofre. 
And notemuge to put in ale, 
Whethii' it be moist or stale, 

Or for to lay in cofre. 
The briddes synge, it is no nay, 
The sperhauk and the popinjay, 

That joye it was to heere. 
The throstilcok maad eek liis lay, 15180 

The woode dowve upon the spray 

Sche song ful lowde and cleere. 
Sir Thopas fel m love-longing, 
Whan that he herde the briddes synge, 

And priked as he were wood ; 

15182 — Sche Sung. The Harl. MS. reads so for sc/if. Tyrwhitt gives 
he. The reading of tlie text is taken from the Lansd. MS. 


His faire steede in bis prikynge 

So swette, that men might him ^\lTnge, 

His sycles were al blood. 
Sir Thopas eek so w^ry was 
For priking on the softe gras, 15190 

So feers was bis corrage, 
That doun he layd him in that place 
To make his steede som solace, 

And gaf him good forage. 
" 0, seiate Mary, henedicite. 
What eylith this love at me 

To bynde me so sore ? 
Me dremed al this 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 toime ; 
Alle othir wommen I forsake. 
And to an elf queen I me take 

By dale and eek by doime." 
Into his 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 fairye, 

So wylde ; 

15214 — so wyhlc. This and the followiuj; lines, witli the whole of this 
stauza, are given as thev stand in the Harl. and Lansd. MSS., which I 


For in that coutre was ther uoon, 
That to him dorste ride or goon, 

Neither wif ne childe. 
Til that ther cam a greet geamit. 
His name was sir Olifamit, 

A perilous man of dede : 15220 

He swai", " Child, by Termagaunt, 
For if thou piike out of myu huiuit, 

Anoon I slee thy stede, 

With mace. 
Heer is the queen of fayerie, 
With harp, and lute, and symphonye, 

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 from 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 coutree n'as ther non, 
That to him dorst ride or gon, 
Neither wf ne childe. 
15219 — sir Olifaunt. OUfaunt means an elephant, and is not an inap- 
propriate name for a pagan giant. 

15221 — Termagaunt. Termsigant or Tervagant is the name of one of 
the farourite 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 modem use of the term krmagant. 

15222 — For. The Lansd. MS. reads But, which is perhaps better. 
15223 — thy stede. This reading is adopted from the Lansd. MS., as 
being evidently the correct one. The Harl. MS. reads as one Mue, Anoon 
I slee the with mace. 


And yit I hope, par ma fay, 

That thou schalt Avith this lauucegay 

Abyen it ful sore ; 
Thy ma^ve 
Schal I persyn, if that I may, 
Er it he fully prime of day, 

For heer schalt thou be slawe." 
Sir Thopas drough on bak ful fast ; 
This geaunt at him stoones cast 

Out of a fell staf slynge ; 15240 

But faire eschapeth child Thopas, 
And al it was thurgh Goddis gras, 

And thurgh his faire berpige. 
Yet lesteneth, lordynges, to my tale, 
Merier than the nightyngale 

I wol yow roune. 
How su' Thopas with sides smale, 
Prikynge over hul and dale. 

Is come ageyn to toune. 
His mery men comaunded he, 16250 

To make liim bothe game and gle. 

For needes most he fight 
With a geaunt Avith heedes thre, 
For paramom's and jolite 

Of oon that schon ful bright. 
" Do come," he sayde, " my mynstrales 
And gestom's for to telle tales 

15243 — faire. I have added this word from the Lansd. MS. 
15251 — {jestours for to telle talex. " The proper hu<siness of a gestour 
was to recite tales, or gcMcs ; which was only oue of the hranches of the 


Anoon in myn armjTige, 
Of romaunces that ben reales, 
Of popes and of cardinales, 15260 

minstrel's profession. Minstrels and gestours are mentioned together in 
the following lines, from William of Nassington's translation ol" a religious 
treatise by John of Waldbj. MS. Reg. 17 C. \-iii, p. 2. 

I wame you furst at the begynninge, 

That I ^rill make no vain carpinge 

Of dedes of armys ne of amours, 

As dus mynstrelles and jestours, 

That makys carpinge in many a place 

Of Ocloviane and Isemhrase, 

And of many other jestes, 

And namely whan they come to fostes; 

Ne of the life of Bfvi/s of Hampton, 

That was a knight of gret renoun, 

Ne of Sir Gye of Wanvyke, 

Al if it might sum men lyke — 
I cite these lines to shew the species of tales related by the ancient 
gestours, and how much they difl'ered from what we now call jestes." — 

1.52.59 — romaunces . .reales. " So in the rom. of Ywain 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 fayr may : 

A lady sat with tham in fere; 

The maiden red, that thai might here, 

A real romance in that place, — 
The original of this title, which is an uucommon one, I take to be this. 
When the French romances found their way into Italy (not long before 
the year 1300, Crescimh. T. i, p. 330), some Italian undertook to collect 
together all those relating to Charlemagne and his family, 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 comeuza 
la hystoria el Ileal di Franza comenzando a Constantino imperatore 
secondo molte lezende che io ho attrovate e racolte insieme. Edit. 
Mutin<B, 1491 , fol. It -was reprinted in 1537 under this title, ' I real i di 
Franza, nel quale si contiene la generazione di tutti i Re, Duchi, Principi 
e Baroni di Franza, e delli Paladini, colle Battaglie da loro fatte, etc." 
Quadrio, T. vi, p 530 Salviati had seen a MS. of this work written about 
1350 {Crescimh. 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, prior to that 
date."— ^yrJt■;l(7^ 


And eek of love-likyuge." 
Thay fet him first the swete ^vyn, 
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 liis white leere 
Of cloth of lake whyt and cleere 

A brech and eek a schert ; 
And next his schert an aketoun, 
And over that an habeijoun, 

For persying of his heit ; 15^70 

And over that a fyn hauberk, 
Was al i-wrought of Jewes werk, 

Ful strong it was of plate ; 
And over that his cote-armour, 
As w^hyt 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 Ulcynge. The Lansd. MS. reads, ■with Tyrwhitt, love- 

ld'2G3. Tyrwhitt reads this and the uext line, — 
And raede eke in a maselin, 
And real spioerie. 
But I prefer much the reading of Harl. MS., as mead was not a very 
romantic liquor to be served to a knight adventurous. 

1.5272 — Jewes ivcrk. I have not met with anj' passage in medieval 
writers explaining the nature of this Jcivcs iverk, but I am not quite pre- 
pared to think wiih Tyrwhitt that a Jew means here a magician. 


And ther he swor on ale and bred 15280 

How that the geaunt schal be deed, 

Bytyde what betyde. 
His jambeux 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 fill schaif) i-groimde. 
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 charitc, 

Botlie knight and lady fre, 1^300 

15286 — rowel boon. Tliis 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, speaking of the latter, — 
Hir sadille was of reuylle 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. 
io290 — a fyt. This was a common English term for the difTerent 
parts or divisions of a metrical romance. 


And herkneth to my spelle : 
Of batail and of chivalry, 
Of ladys love and drewery, 

Anoon I wol yow telle. 
Men speken of romauns of pris, 
Of Honi child, and of Ypotis, 

Of Bevys, and sir Gy, 
Of sir Libeaux, and Pleyndamoui", 
But sir Thopas bereth the flour 

Of real chivalry. 15310 

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 theiin stiked a lily flour, 

God schilde his coi-ps fro schonde. 
And for he was a knyght auntrous, 
He nolde slepen in noon hous, 

But liggeu 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 Imieht sir Percivelle 

1.5305 — romaunrcs 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 Romances. 

1532i — sir Percivelle. I have adopted Tyrwliitt's reading instead of 
fliat of the Harl. MS., of Pertinellc, because I remember no romance or 


So ■worth)' 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 rym 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 rym 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 w'ord, thou schalt no lenger ryme. 15340 

tale of a knight of Perlinelle,a.nA the romance of Percival is well known. 
Tyrwliitt observes, " The romance of Perceval le Galois, or de Galis, 
was composed in octosyllable French verse by Chrestien de Troyes, one 
of the oldest and best French romancers, before the year 1191. Fauchct, 
1. il, c. X. It consisted of above sixty thousand verses [Bihl. des Bom. 
T. 1 1 , p. 250), 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." 

15325 — So icorthy under wede. " Tliis phrase occurs repeatedly in 
the romance of Emare. 

fol. 70. b. Than sayde that worthy unther wede. 
7-1. b. The childe was worthy unther ivede, 
And sate upon a nobyl stede. 
See also fol. 71, b. 73, a." — Tyrwhitt. 

15326 — Til on a day. These words are not in the Harl. MS. 



Let se wher thou canst tellen ouglit iu gest, 

Or telle in prose som what atte lest, 

In which ther be som merthe or doctrine." 

" Gladly," quod I, " Ly Goddes swete pyne, 
I wol yow telle a litel thing in prose, 
That oughte like yow, as I suppose, 
Or elles certes ye be to daungerous. 
It is a moral tale vertuous, 
Al be it told som tyme in sondry wise 
Of sondry folk, as I schal yow devyse. 
As thus, ye woot that every evaungelist, 
That telleth us the peyne of Jhesu Crist, 
Ne saith not alle thing as his felawes doth : 
But natheles here sentence is al soth, 
And alle accorden as in here sentence, 
Al be ther in her tellyng difference. 
For some of hem sayn more, and some lesse, 
Whan thay his pitous passioun expresse ; 
I mene of Mark and Mathew, Luk and Johan, 
But douteles her sentence is al oon. 
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. 



15361—7 have. The Lansd. MS. and Tyrwliitt read, yc. 



Blameth me nought, for, iu my sentence, 

Scliul ye no wher fynclo difference 15370 

Fro the sentence of this tretys lite, 

After the which this litil tale I write. 

And therfor herkeneth what I schal say, 

And let me tellen al my tale, I pray." 


A YoxG man called Melibeus, mighty and riche, bygat 
upon his wif, that called was Prudeus, 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 sondry places, that is to sajTi, 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 retoiu'ned was into liis hous, and 
seigh al this meschief, he, lik a man mad, rendyng his 
clothes, gan wepe and crie. Prudens his wyf, as ferforth 

The Tale of Melibeus. This is a 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. 

- Thre. The Lansd. MS. and Tyrwhitt read,/r;!(/r. The reading of 
both the French MSS., however, is irois, which is in all probability correct. 
TTiree was a favourite number in the medieval tales and apologues. 

Y 2 


as sche dorste, bysought liim of his wepyng to styiite. 
But not fortlii 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 moder 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 \\ith amyable wordes 
hire to recomforte and praye hire of hu-e wepyng to 
stinte. For which resoun this noble wif PiTidens suf- 
fred hir housbonde for to wepe and crie, as for a certeyn 
space ; and whan sche seigh liir 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 youi'e silf 
destroye. Senec saith, The wise man schal not take to 
gret discomfort for the deth of his children, but certes 
he schulde suifren it in pacience, as wel as he abydeth 
the deth of his OAvne 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." 
Prudens answerde : " Certes, wel I wot, attemperel 

llie sentenx of Ovide. The allusion is to the Remed. Am. 1. 125, — 
Quis matrem, nisi matris inops, in i'uncro nati 
Flere vetet ? etc. 



wepyug is no thiiig defended to him that sorwful is, 
amonges folk in sorwe, but it is rather graunted him to 
wepe. The apostel Poule unto the Romayns writeth, 
A man schal rejoyce with hem that maken joye, and 
wepe with such folk as wepen. But though attemperel 
wepyng be graunted, outrageous wepynge certes is de- 
fended. Mesui'e of wepynge schuld be conserved,'' after 
the lore of Crist that techeth us Senec : Whan that 
thi freud is deed, quod he, let nought thin yen to 
moyste ben of teres, ne to moche drye : although the 
teeres come to thine eyglien^, 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 govenie yow by sapience, 
put away sorwe out of youre hert. Remembreth yow 
that Jhesus Sirac saith, A man that is joyous and glad 
in herte, it him conserveth 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 wonnes to 
the tre, right so annoyeth sorwe to the herte. Wherfore 
us oughte as wel in the deth of oui'e children, as in the 

* consented. The Lausd. MS.,aud Tyrwhitt, 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 to thine etjghen. I have kept the reading of Tyrwhitt, as most 
accordant with the original. " Car ja soit ce que la leruie viengne a 
I'eueU, elle ne doit point yssii- dehors." The Harl. MS. has, co7ne out of 
thine eyghen ; the Lansd. MS. comen of. 


losse of oure goodes temporales, have pacience. Re- 
membreth yow upon the pacient Job, whan he hadde 
lost liis cliildren and his tempoi'al substance, and in his 
body endured and receyved ml many a grevous tribula- 
cioun, pt 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 Pnidens : " 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 Prudence, " thy 
trewe frendes alle, and thy linage, whiche that ben trewe 
and \nse ; telleth hem youre grevaunce, and herken what 
thay say in counseilynge, and yow goveme after here 
sentence. Salamon saith, werke al thi thing 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, olde, and yonge,^ and some of his olde ene- 
myes recounsiled (as by her semblaunt) to his love and to 
his gi-ace : and theiTNithal 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 lemed in the lawe. 
And whan these folk togidere assemblid were, this 
Melibeus in sorwful wjse schewed hem his caas, and 
by the manor of his speche, it semcd that in herte he 

* olde, yniigc. This is literal from tlie French original. Tyrwhitt 
reads, olde folk and yonge. 


bar a cruel ire, recly to do vengeance upon his foos, and 
sodeynly desirede that the werre schulde bjgynne, 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 Melibeus sayde, as ye may hiere. 

" Su-e," quod he, " as to us sirui-giens appertieneth, 
that we do to every -wight the beste that we can, wher 
as we ben withholde, 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 oui'e art it is not 
perteyned to norische wen-e, ne parties to supporte. 
But certes, as to warisching of youre doughter, al be it 
so that sche perilously be woundid, we schullen do so 
tentyf besynes fro day to night, that ^^ith the grace of 
God sche schal be hool and sound, als soone as it is 
possible." Almost right in the same wise the phisiciens 
answerden, save that thay sayden a fewe wordes more : 
that ryght as maladies ben cured by her contraries, 
right so schal men warissch werre by vengeaimceJ His 
neygheboures ful of envy, his feyned fi-eendes that 
semede recounsiled, and his flatereres, maden semblaunt 
of wepyng, and appaired and aggregged moche of this 
matiere, in preisyng gretly Melibe of might, of power, 
of riches, and of frendes, despisinge the power of his 
adversaries ; and sayden outerly, that he anoon schulde 
wreke him on his adversaries be bygynnynge of werre. 

' warissch icerre by vengeaunce. So the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. read 
correcdy. Tyrwhitt omits the words by vengeaunce. The original is, 
" aussi doit on gnerir guerre par vengence." 


Up roos thaiine au advocate that was 'wj's, by leve 
and by counseil of otliere that were wise, and sayde : 
" Loi'dynges, the needes for whiche we ben assemblit in 
this place, is fid hevy thing, and an heigh matier, 
bycause of the wrong and of the wikkednes that hath ben 
doou, and eek by resoun 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 fiil gret peril to 
erren in these materes. Wherfore, Melibeus, this is 
oure sentence; we coiuiseile yow, aboven alle l^iinges, 
that right anoou 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 tliin hous thou sette sufl&saunt gamisoim, 
so that thay may as wel thy body as thin hous defende. 
But certes 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 deliberaciouu" in this caas to demon; for the 
comune proverbe saith this : He that soone demeth, 
soone schal repente. And eek men sayn, that thilke 
juge is wys, that soone understondeth a matier, and 
juggeth by leysir. For al be it so, that alle taryiuge is 
anoyful, algates it is no reproof in gevynge of juggement, 
ne of veugaunce takyng, whan it is suffisauut and reson- 
able. And that schewed oure Lord Jhesu Crist by en- 

* space to have ikUheracioun. I have added the three last words irom 
the Lansd. MS., as ilicy are authorized by the French original. They 
are omitted in the Harl. MS. 


sample, tor whan that the womman that was i-take in 
advoutrie, was brought in his presence to knowen what 
schulde be doon of liir persone, al be it that he wist 
him self what that he wolde answere, yit wolde he not 
answere sodeyuly, but he wolde have deliberacioun, and 
in the ground hem wrot twyes. And by these causes we 
axe deliberacioun ; and we schul thaune by the grace of 
God counseile the thing that schal be profy table." Up- 
starten thenne the yonge folkes anoon at oones, and the 
moste parte of that companye han skomed these olde 
wise men, and bygonne to make noyse and sayden : 
" Eight 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 
thaycryde, " Werre, werre." 

Uproos tho oon of these olde wise, and with his hond 
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 amoimteth. Werre at his bygynnyng 
hath so greet an entre and so large, that every wight 
may entre whan him liketh, and lightly fynde werre : 
but certes what ende schal falle tlierof, it is not lightly to 
knowe. For sothly whan that werre is oones bygonne, 
ther is fid 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 liis tale by resouns, wel neigh alle at 


oones bygonne thay to rise, for to breke his 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 sermomi hem anoyeth. For Jhesus Sirac saith, 
that miisik 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 saugh 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 counseil many folk, that prively in 
his eere counseled him certain 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 
afifenned here sentence. Thanne dame Prudence, whan 
that sche saugh that hir 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, 

^ Musik in wepyng. Tlie Harl. MS. reads iccpyng in musik ; but the 
other reading, taken from tlie Lansd. MS., is aiitborized uot only by the 
French original, but it is required by the context. 

'" 1 yow biseche." Sire, dist cllc, jo vous prie que vous ne voushastez, 
ct que vous pour tous dous mc dounez c&pace." 


and for alle guerclouns 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 ■wil ahyde, and thin enemy schal the longer lyve 
in drede. The proverhe saith, He hastith wel that 
wisly can ahyde : and in wikked haste is no profyt." 
This Mehbeus answerde unto his wyf Prudens : "I 
purpose not," quod he, " to werke by thy counseil, for 
many causes and resouns : for certes every -wight wolde 
holde me thanne a fool ; this is to sayn, if I for thy 
counseil ■s\-olde 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 thej maistry : 
and God forbeede er it so were. For Jhesus Sirac 
saith, that if a wif have maistrie, sche 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 persone thinges that been needful to hem, 
than thou se tlii self in the hondes of thy children. 
And also, if I wolde werke by thy counselynge, certes it 

11 Pf.j-es Alfons. Peter Alfonsus, or Alfoiisi, was a converted Spanish 
Jew, who flourislied in the twelfth century, and is well known for his 
disciplina cUricalis, — a collection of stories and nioralizations in Latin 
prose, which was translated afterwards into French verse under tlie title 
of the Casloiemcnt d'un pere a son fits. It was a book much in vogue 
among the preachers from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. 


most 6om tyme be secre, til it were tyme that it moste 
be knowe : and this iie may not be.'"'^ 

Whau dame Prudeuce, ful deboiierly aud -with gret 
pacieiice, hadde herd al that hir housboude liked for to 
seye, thanne axed sche of him licence for to speke, and 
sayde in this wise : " My lord," quod sche, "astoyoui-e 
firste resoun, certes it may lightly be answered ; for I say 
it is no foly to chaunge counsel whan the tiling is chaimgid, 
or elles whan the thing semeth othei'wise than it was 
bifom. And moreover I say, though that ye ban swoni 
and i-hight to parforme youre emprise, and natheles ye 
wayve to parforme tliilke same emprise by juste cause, 
men schulde not say therfore that ye were a lyere, ne 
for-swoiTi : 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 ordinavmce 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 eveiy 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 mkke : save youre grace, ceitis 

" Ne may not he. After this paragraph, Chaucer has omitted to trans- 
late a passage of the French original, which, as it is requisite to under- 
stand some parts of the lady's reply, is here given. Melibeus concludes 
bis discourse with the observation — " Car il est escript, la genglerie des 
fenimes ne puet riens celler fors ce qu'elle ne scet. Apres le philozophe 
dit, en mauvais conseil les femines vainquent Ics hommes. Et par ces rai- 
sons je ne dois point user de ton conseil." 


ye despise alle wommen iu this wise, and he that alle 
despysith, saith the book, alle displeseth.'^ Aud Senec 
saith, Who so wil have sapience, schal no man disprayse, 
but he schal gladly teche the science that he can, 
\\ithoute presumpcioun or pryde : and suche thinges as 
he nought can, he schal not ben aschamed to leme 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 wikke. And after that, for the 
grete bounte that is in wommen, 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 wommen ben wikke : for 
though that he fonde noone goode wommen, certes 
many another man hath fouuden many a womman ful 
goode and trewe. Or elles paraventure thentent of 
Salamon was this, as in sovereyn bounte he fond no 
womman ; tliis 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 

?2 And he that alle despysith. " Car il est escript, qui tout desprise, a 
tons desplaist." The words alle displeseth are omitted in the Harl. MS. 

'^ May lightly . ... of a womman. The whole of this passage has been 
accidentally omitted by the scribe of the Harl MS. It is here supplied 
from the Lansd. MS. 


me, it schulde seme that j'e 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 maystrie and 
lordschipe of his persone, men wolde nought be coun- 
selled so ofte : for sothly thilke man that axeth counseil 
of a purpos, yet hath he fre chois whether he wil werke 
by that pui-pos or non. And as to youre ferthe resoun, 
ther ye sayn that the janglerie of wommen can hyde 
thinges that thay 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 sajn that thre 
thinges diyven 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 ban 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 stont here in no stede : for imderstondith now, 
ye axen counseil to do wickidnes ; and if ye wil wirke 
^vickidnes, and youre wyf I'estreyne 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 wicked counseil wommen venquyschcn her hous- 


bondes. And ther as ye blame alia wymmen and here 
resouns, I schal scbewe 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 ban 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 hir counseil vile and not 
•worth, yet ban men founde many a ful good womman, 
and ful discret and wys in counseilyng. Lo, Jacob, by 
counseil of his moder Kebecca, wan the blessyng of his 
fader Ysaac, and the lordschipe of alle his bretheren. 
Judith, by hii'e 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 king, that wolde have i-slayn him, and apposed the 
ire of the kyng by hir witte, and by hir good coun- 
seilynge. Hester by good counseil enhaimsed 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 that a womman were not good, and hir 
counseil good and profytable, oure Lord God of heven 
wolde neither have wi'ought hem, ne called hem help of 
man, but rather confusioun of man. And ther sayde 
oones a clerk in tuo versus,^^ What is better that gold ? 

'^ In two versus. I have not met with the two verses in question, but 


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 resoun-:! may ye se, that many 
wommen ben goode, and eek her counseil good'^ and pro- 
fitable. And therfore, if ye wil tniste to my coimseil, I 
schal restore you youre doughter hool and somid : and 
eek I wil doon you so moche, that ye schul have honour 
in this cause." 

AVhan 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 ordinaunce, 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 goveme me by thy comiseil 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 yom-e self, in chesyng 

tliey seem to bo a modification of a distich n-hicli is not uncommon in 
MSS., and which are printed thus in the Rcliq. Antiq. i, p. 19: — 
Auro quid melius? jaspis. Quid jaspide? sensus. 
Sensuqiiid? ratio. Quidratione? nihil. 
In the manuscript from which this distich is there printed, it is coupled 
with another much less favourable to the fair sex than the version given 
by dame Prudence : — 

Vento quid levius? fulgur. Quid fulgure? flamma. 
Flararaaquid? mulier. Quid rauliere? nihil. 
'* And eek her counseil good. These words have been accidentally 
omitted in the Harl. MS. 

" Hohomnes. The Harl. MS. reads erroneously ft oZ/ncs. The French 
original has, ct saute au corps. 


of youre conseil. Ye schul first in alle youre werkes 
mekely biseche to the hike God, that he wol be your 
counseilour : and schaj^e you to that entent that he give 
you counseil and coufort, as taughte Toby his sone : At 
alle tymes thou schalt blesse God, and pray him to 
dresse thy wayes ; and loke that alle thi counseiles be in 
liim for evermore. Seint Jame eek saith : If eny of 
yow have neede of sapiens, axe it of God. And aftir- 
wai*d, thamie schul ye take counseil in youre self, and 
examine wel youre thoughtes, of suche thinges as you 
thinkith that is best for youre profyt. And thanne schul 
ye drjye fro youre herte thre thinges^^ that ben con- 
trarie to good counseil; that is to say, ire, coveytise, 
and hastynes. First, he that axeth counseil of him self, 
certes he moste be withoute ire, for many cause. The 
first is this : he that hath gret ire and wraththe in him 
self, he weneth alwey he may do thing that he may not 
doo. And secoundly, he that is irous and wroth, he may 
not wel deme : and he that may not wel deme, may 
nought wel counseile. The thridde is this : that he that 
is irous and wroth, as saith Senec, may not speke but 
blameful thinges, and ^vith his vicious wordes he stireth 
other folk to anger and to ire. And eek, sire, ye moste 
dryve coveitise out of youre herte. For thapostle saith, 
that coveytise is roote of alle harmes. And trusteth wel, 
that a coveitous man ne can not deme ne thinke, but 

'® Dryve fro youre herte thre thinges. Tlie Harl. MS. reads imperfectly 
hertes the that hen, and the Lansd. MS. omits the -word thre, which 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 fulfille the ende of his coveitise ; and certes 
that may never hen accomplised ; for ever the more 
ahundannce 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 
bifora, the comune proverbe is this ; that he that 
soone demeth, soone repentith. Sire, ye ben not alway 
in lik 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 
covmseil in youre selveu, and ban demed by good deli- 
beracioun 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 yoiu-e by wreyinge youre condicioim schal be 
to yow the more profy table. For Jhesus Syrac saith, 
Neither to tbi 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 
thin absence. Another clerk saith, that skarsly schal 
thou fynde eny persone that may kepe counseil se- 
creely. The book saith : Whil thou kepist thi coun- 
sail in tliin herte, thou kepest it in tlii prisomi : and 
whan thou bywreyest thi counseil to any wight, he hold- 
eth the in liis snare. And therfore yow is better hyde 
youre counseil in youi'e herte, than prayen him to whom 
ye liave bywiyed youre counseil, that he wol kepe it 
clos and stille. For Seneca scith : If so be that thou 


ne maist not thin owne counseil byde, how darst tliou 
preyen any other \\ight thy counseil secreely to kepe ? 
But natheles, if thou wane securly that thy bywreying 
of thy counseil to a persone wol make thy condicioun 
stonde in the better plite, thanne schalt thou telle him 
thy counseil in this wise. First, thou schalt make no 
semblaunt wher the were lever werre or pees, or this or 
that ; ne schewe him not thi wille and thin eutent : for 
truste wel that comunly these counseilours ben flaterers, 
namely the counselours of grete lordes, for thay en- 
forcen hem alway rather to spake plesaunt wordes 
enclynyng to the lordes lust, than wordes that been 
trewe and profytable. And therfore men say, that the 
riche 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 wliich of hem beth most faithful 
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 sovde. 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 fyndeth, certes he fyndeth 
a gvet 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 approvyd in counseylinges. For the book saith," 
that in olde men is the sapience, and in louge tyme the 
pnideuce. And Tulhus saith, that grete thinges ben not 
ay accompliced by strengthe, ne by delyvemes of body, 
but by good counseil, by auctoiite of persoues, 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 
saith, Salvacioun of thinges is wher as there beth many 

" Now sith that I have told yow of whiche folk ye 
schul be counseiled, now wil I telle yow which counseil 

" For the book saith. The original refers for this maxim to the book 
of Job, — " Car il est escript en Job." 


ye ought escliiewe. First, ye schal eschiewe the coun- 
seil of fooles ; for Salamon seith, Take no couuseil of a 
fool, for he ne can not counseile but 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 wightT and lightly troweth alle boimte in him 
self. Thow schalt eschiewe eek the counseil of alle 
flaterers, suche as enforcen hem rathere to prayse 
yom-e persone by flaterie, than for to telle yow the soth- 
fastnesse of thinges. Wherfore TulUus 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 speketh to his frend 
wordes of swetnesse and of plesaunce, setteth a nette 
byfore his feet to cacchen him. And therfore saith 
TulHus, Encline not thin eeres to flaterers, ne tak no 
counseil"" of the wordes of flaterers. And Catoun^^ 
saith, Avyse the wel, and eschiewe wordes of swetnes and 
of plesaunce. And eek thou schalt eschiewe the coun- 
selyng of thin olde enemys that ben recounsiled. The 
book saith, that no wight retometh safly^ into the grace 

*" counseil. I have retained this reading on the authority of MS. 
LansJ. and the original French. The Harl. MS. reads, confort. 

*' Catoun. Lib. iii, dist. 6, — 

Sermones blandos blaesosque cavere memento. 

22 Safly, In the French original, seuremenl. The Harl. MS. reads, 


of his olde euemyes. Aucl Ysope"^ saith, Ne tniste not 
to hem, with %Yhich thou hast had som tyrne werre or 
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 nevere. 
For sicui'ly, though thin enemy be reconsiled, and make 
the cheer of hvunilite, and lowteth to the liis heed, 
ne trist him never : for certes he makith thilke feyued 
humilite more for his j)rofyt, than for eny love of thi 
persone ; bycause he demyth to have -s-ictorie over tlii 
persone by such feyned 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 
pliilosophre in this wise : Ther is no wight parfytly 
trewe to him that he to sore dredeth. And TulUus 
saith, Ther is no might so gret of any emperoui' that 
longe may endm'e, but if he have more love of the peple 
than drede. Thow schalt also eschiewe the counseil of 
folk that ben droukelewe, for thay ne can no coun- 
sel hyde. For Salamon saith, Ther is no privete 

22 Ytope. Several collections of fables in the Middle Ages went under 
the name of Ysopc, or ^sop, so that it would not be easy to point out the 
one from Tvhich this moral aphorism is taken. 


ther as regnetli rlronkenesse.-* Ye schul also have in 
suspect the comiseil of such folk as counseileth 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 wkked 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 counseilynge of yonge folk, for here 
counseil is nought lype. 

" Now, sire, syn I have schewed yow of what folk 
ye schul take youre counsail, and of whiche folk ye 
schullen eschiewe the counseil, now schal I teche yow 
how ye schul examyne yoiure counseil after the doc- 
trine of jTullius. In examynyng of youre counseil- 
oures, ye schul considre many thinges. Althii-first 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 saya, 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 cousidere the thinges that accorden to 
that purpos for to do by thy counseil, if resoun accorde 

24 dronkenesse. Nul secret n'est ou regne yvresse. Fr. Orig. 

^ to hindre. Tynvhitt, with the Lands. MS., reads to hinder his 
enemy, which conveys a meaning totally different from that of the original 
French, which has ; "Cassiodoire dit, une maniere de grever ton amy est 
quant on lui conseille une chose en secret et monstrer en appert que on 
veult le contraire." 


therto, and eek if thy might may accorcle therto, and if 
the more part and the better 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- 
gendre. Thow schalt also consider al these causes, from 
whens thai ben sprongen. And whan ye have examined 
youre counseil, as I have said, and wliich party is the 
better and more profitable, and han approved by many 
wise folk and olde, than schalt thow considre, if thou 
maist parfoiTue it and make of it a good ende. For 
resoun wol nought that any man schuld bygynne a thing, 
but if he mighte parforme it and make therof a good 
ende : ne no wight schulde take ujion him so hevy 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 doubte, 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 

*^ deftroyelh. The Lansd. MS. and Tyrwliitt read, distreineth. The 
original has, " Car on dit on proverbe, Qui trop embrasse, pou estraint." 
" Catoun. This is from the Be Murih. lib. iii, dist. 16,— 
Quod poles, id tentato ; opcris ue pondere pressus 
Sticciimbat labor, et I'rustra Icntata rcliuquas. 


tiling, of which thou most repente, it is better nay than 
yea : this is to sayn, that the is better holde thy tonge 
stille than to spake. Than may ye understonde by 
stranger resoims, that if thou hast power to performe a 
a werk, of which thou schalt repente, thanne is it better 
that thou suffre than bigymie. Wei seyn thay that 
defendeu every wight to assaie thing of which he is 
in doute, whetliir he may perfox'me it or noon. And 
after whan ye han examyned youre couuseil, as I have 
sayd biforn, and knowen wel ye may performe youra 
emprise, conferme it thanne sadly til it be at an ende. 

"Now is it tyme and rasoun that I schawe yow 
whanne, and wherfore, that ye may chaunga youre coun- 
seil withouten raproef, Sothly, a man may chauuge 
his piirpos and his counseil, if the causa cassath, or 
whan a newe cause bytydath. For the lawe seith, upon 
thinges that newely bitydeth, bihoveth newe counseil. 
And Seneca seith, If thy counseil be comen to the eares 
of thin enemy, chaunge thy counsail. Thow maist also 
chaunga thy counseil, if so be that thou fynda that by 
errour, or by other processa, harm or damage may 
bytyde. Also thou chaunge thy counsail,^ if thy coun- 
sail be dishonest, or elles cometh of dishoueste ; for the 
lawes sayn, that alle the hastes that ben dishonasta ben 
of no valieu : and eek, 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 coimsail that is 
affarmed or strengthad so strongly that it may not be 

2^ also thou chaunge. The original gives this briefly, " Apres, quant le 
conseil est deshonneste on vieut de cause deshonneste, il est de nulle value." 


chaunged for no condicioun that may bitide, I say that 
thiike counseil is wikked." 

This Melibeus, whan he had herd the doctrine of his 
"wyf dame Prudens, answerde in this ydse. " Dame," 
quod he, " yit as into this tyme ye han wel and coven- 
ably taught me, as in general, how I schal goveme me 
in the chesyuge and in the withholdynge of my coun- 
seiloures : but now wold I fayn ye wolde condesceude 
as in especial, and telleth me what semeth or how 
liketh yow by oure counseiloui'es that we han chosen 
in oure present neede." 

"My lord," quod sche, "I byseke yow in al hum- 
blesce, that ye wil not wiKully repplye ageiust 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 youre honour, 
and for your profyt eek, and sothly I hope that youre 
benignite wol take it into pacience. For trusteth me 
wel," quod sche, "that youre coiuiseil as in this caas 
ne schulde not (as for to speke propm'ly) be called a 
counseilyng, but a mocioun or a moevynge of foly, in 
which counseil ye han eiTed in many a sondry wise. 
First and fonvard, ye han erred in the gadeiyng of 
youre counseiloui'S : for ye schulde first han cleped a 
fewe folkes, if it hadde be neede. But ceites ye han 
sodeinly cleped to your coimseil a gret multitude of 
poeple, ful chargeous and ful anoyous for to hiere. 
Also ye han eiTed, for tlier as ye schulde oonly have 
clepid to youre counseil youre trewe frendes, olde and 
wise, ye have i-cleped straixnge folk, yonge folk, false 


ilatereres, and enemyes recousiled, aud folk that doon 
yow reverence withoute love. And also ye ban erred, 
for ye han brought with yow to youre counseil ire, 
coveitise, and hastynes, the whiche thre things ben 
contrarious to every counsail honest and profitable : the 
whiche thre thinges ye have nought annentissched or 
destroyed, neyther in youi'e self ne in youi'e coun- 
seiloures, as ye oughte. Also ye have en'ed, for ye 
have schewed to youre counseilom's youre talent and 
youre affeccioun to make -werre, and for to doon ven- 
geaunce anoon, and thay han espyed by youre wordes 
to what thinge ye ben enclined: and therfore have thay 
counseiled yow rather to youi-e talent than to youre 
profyt. Ye have erred also, for it semeth that yow 
sufficeth to have been counseiled by these comiseilours 
only, and with litel avys, wher as in so gret and so 
heigh a neede, it hadde be necessarious mo counseilours 
and more deliberacioun to performe youre emprise. Ye 
have erred also,^ for ye have maked no di\-isioun bytwixe 
youi'e couuseiloui's ; this is to seyn, bitwix youre frendes 
and youi'e 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 pai't and to the gretter 
nombre, and there be ye condescendid ; and syn ye wot 
wel men schal alway fynde a gretter nombre of fooles 

29 Te have erred also. Tynvhitt has here added a short peiragraph, 
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 
Toulente de tes loyaux amis saiges et anciens, mais as seulement regardc 
le grant nombre ; et tu sees que tousjours li fol sent en plus grant nombie 
que les saiges." 


than of ^vyse men, and therfore the counsailes 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 counseilynges 
fooles have maystrie." 

Melibeus answerde agayn and sayde : " I graunte wel 
that I have eiTed ; but ther as thou hast told me to-fom, 
that he is nought to blame that chamigeth his counseilom's 
in certeyu caas, and for certeyn juste causes, I am al redy 
to chaunge my comiseilom's right as thou■«iltde^yse. The 
proverbe saith, that for to do synne is manuysch, but certes 
for to persevere longe in syune is werk of the devyi." 

To this sentence anoon answerde dame Prudens, and 
saide : " Examineth," quod sche, " yom'e counsail, and 
let us se which of hem hath spoke most resonably, and 
taught you best coimsail. And for as moche as the 
examinacioun is necessarie, let us byginne at the surgiens 
and at the phisiciens, that first speken in this matiere. 
I say you that the surgiens and the phisiciens han sayd 
yow in youre coimseil discretly, as hem ought : and in 
here speche sayden ful wisely, that to the office of hem 
appendith to doon to every ■ftight honour and profyt, and 
no wight to annoy, and after here craft to do gret dili- 
gence xmto the cure of hem whiche that thay have in 
here govemaimce. And, sire, right as thay answerde 
^\isely 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 ententyf besynes in 
the curyng of youre doughter dere. For al be it so that 
thai be youre frendes, therfore schul ye nought suflfre 


that thay schul serve yow for nought, but ye oughte 
the rathere to guerdoime hem and schewe hem youre 
lai-gesse. And as touchynge the proposiciouns "whiche the 
phisiciens 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, Ip," quod dame Pnidence, 
" how lightly is eveiy man encl}Tied 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 vengauus to 
vengeaunce, ne wrong to wi'ong, but thai ben sem- 
blable : and therfore a vengeaunce is nought warisshed 
by another vengeaunce, 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, vengeaimce and 
sufferaunce, discord and accord, and many other thinges : 
but, certes, wikkednes schal be warrisshed by goodnesse, 
discord by accord, werre by pees, and so forth of other 
tliinges. And herto accordith seint Paul the apostil 
in many places : he saith, Ne yeldith nought harm for 


harm, ue wikked speclie for wiklced speche ; but do 
wel to him that doth the hann, 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 wai*mstore 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 
understonde, that he that hath wen'e, 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 wight that may be coun- 
selled or kept sufficauntly, withoute the kepinge of oure 
lord Jhesu Crist. To this sentence accordeth the pro- 
phete Da\'id, that seith : If God ne kepe not the citee, 
in ydel wakith 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 
Catoun" saith : If thou have neede of help, axe it of thy 

30 and olde folk. These tliree wordes are omitted in the Harl. M.S , 
but I have restored them from the MS. Lansd. and the French original. 
" Catoun. The passage alluded to is found in the Distich, de Morib. 
lib. iv, dist. 14. 

Auxilium a notis petito, si forte laboras ; 

Nee quisquam melior medicus quam fidus amicus. 


freendes, for tlier is noon so good a phisicien at neede 
as is a trewe frend. And after tliis than sclial ye kepe 
yon fro alle straunge folkes, and fro lyeres, and have 
alway in suspect here compaignye. For Pieres Alfons 
saith : Ne take no compaignye by the \vay of a stramigc 
man, but so be that thou knowe him of a lenger tyme : 
and if so be he falle into thy compaignye paraventure 
withouten thin assent, enquere thanne, as subtilly as 
thou maist, of his conversacioun, €,nd 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 
kepinge of youre persone for your presumpcioun ; for 
eveiy wis man dredeth liis enemy. And Salamon saith : 
Weleful is he that of alle hath drede ; for certes he that 
thurgh hardynes of his herte, and thui'gh the hardinesse 
of himself, hath to gret presumpcioim, him schal evyl 
bitide, Thanne schal ye eveiTuore countei'wayte em- 
busshementz and alle espiaille. For Senec saith, that 
the wise man that di'edith harmes, eschiewith harmes, 
ne he ne fallith into noone perils, that peiils eschieweth. 
And al be it so that the seme that thou art in siker place, 
jit schaltow alway do thy diligence in kepyng of thy 


persone ; 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 dredith his lest enemy. Ovide seith,'^ that 
the litel wesil wol sle the grete bole and the -Rilde hert. 
And the book saith, a litel thorn wol prikke a king ful 
sore, and an hound wol holde the wilde boore. But na- 
theles, I say not that ye schul be so moche a cowai'd, 
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 veuym. 

" 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 wannstore myn hous with 
toures, suche as han castiles and other maner edifices, 
and armure, and artilries ; by suche thinges I may my 
persone and myn hous so kepen and edifien and defen- 

" Ovide seilk. The original quotes more fully, " Et Ovide, ou livre du 
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 enseingnie leur 
dccevoir, car ils ont trop double que on ne les dereust." 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 myn enemyes schul bo in drede myn hous to 

To tliis sentence answerde dame Prudence : "Warm- 
stoiynge," quod sche, " of heilie toures and gi'ete edi- 
fices, is ^\-ith 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 gamisoun that the riche man may 
have, as wel to kepe his persone as his goodes, is that 
he be biloved with his subgites and with his neighe- 
bours. For thus saith Tullius, that ther is a manor 
gamisoun, that no man may venquisshe ne discomfite, 
and that is a lord to be biloved with his citezeins, and 
of his peple. 

" Now thanne as to youi'e thridde pojTit, where as 
youre olde and wyse counseillours sayde, ye oughte 
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 sotli and right wisely. For 
Tullius saith : ' In evei-y nede, er thou bigynne 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 Cassidonis saith, 
the gamisoun is stronger whan it is long tjme avysed, 

" But now let us speke of the comiseil that was 

A A 


accorded by yourc neiglicbours, suchc as doon you reve- 
rence withoute love, youre oldc enemyes rccounsilcd, 
your flatcreres, that counseile yow certeyn tliinges 
pryvely, aud openly counseile yow the contrarie, the 
yonge also, that couusaile yow to make werre and venge 
yow anoon. And certes, sire, as I have sayd byforn, 
ye have gretly erred to have cleped such manor folk to 
youre counseil, whiche be now repreved by the rcsouns 
byfore sayd. But natheles let us now descende to the 
purpos special. Yo schul first proccde after the doc- 
trine of Tullius. Certes, the troutho of this matier or 
this counseil nedeth nought diligently enquere, for it is 
wcl wist, whiche it ben that doon to yow this trespas 
and \dlonye, and how many trespasoures, and in what 
manor thay han to yow doon al tliis wi'ong and al this 
\ilonye. And after that schul ye examyne the secomide 
condicioun, which Tullius addith therto in this matier. 
Tullius put a thing, which that he clepeth consent- 
ynge :^' this is to sayn, who ben thay, and whiche ben 
thay, and how many, that consentid to this maticre, and 
to thy comisail 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 

3' Cnmcnlijnge. The Harl. MS. reails covclymjc , by an error of the 
scribr, as appears by the sequel. 

^ Cunscnledcn. I liave restored this rcadinf? from MS. Lansd. ami the 
French original, iostead of the rcadint; of the Hurl. MS , Ihul ben cuun- 


first wilfulnes. For trewly, alio tho that counsailled 
yow to make sodejn werre, beth nought youre frendes. 
Let us considrc 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 been alloone : for 
certes ye have no childe but a doughter, ne ye have no 
bretheren, ne cosins germayns, ne noon other neigh 
kynrede, wherfore that youre enemyes for drede schuld- 
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, }it natheles youre kynrede nis but 
a fei-*' kynrede, and litel sib to yow, and the kyn of 
yom-e enemyes ben neigh sibbe to hem. And certes, 
as m that, here condicioun is bet than youres. Thanno 
let us considere also if the counscilynge of hem that 
counselled yow to take sodein vengeance, whethir it 
accorde to resomi. And certes, ye knowe wel, nay ; 
for as by right and resoun, ther may no man taken 
vengeaunce upon no wight, but the jugge that hath 

■^'' A fcr. This is Tjrwhiti's reading, which scorns to agi'ee hetter with 
the context than the readiug of the Harl. MS., likl. 

AA 2 


jiirediccioun of it, ^vhan it is y-graunted him to take 
thilke vengeaunce hastily, or attempercly, as the hiwe 
reqiiireth. And jit moreover of tliilke word that Tul- 
lius clepith consentynge, thou schalt considre, if thy 
might and thy power may consente and suffice to thy 
wilfulues and to thy counseilours. And certes, thou 
maist wel say, that nay ; for sicurly, as for to speke pro- 
perly, we may doo no thing but oonly oon thing which 
we may do rightfully : and certes rightfully may ye 
take no vengeance, as of youre owiie 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 purposiddest 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 tymc. And as touch- 
ing the fourthe poynt, that Tullius clepeth engendrynge, 
thou schalt considre that this wrong which that is doon 
to the, is engendi'ed 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 sayde. 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 
receyved hath certeyn causes, whiche that clerkes calle 
onens, and efficiens, and carisa lomjinqna, and causa 
inoinnqua, this is to say, the fer cause, and the neigh 
cause. For the fer cause is almighty God, that is 


cause of alle thiuges : the ncre cause, is the thre cue- 
myes ; the cause accidental was hate ; the causes mate- 
riales beeu the fyve woundes of thy doughter ; the cause 
formal is the manor of here werkyng, that brought in 
Luldres and clomhe in at thin 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 : Seelden, or with gret 
peyne, ben causes i-brought to a good ende, whan thay 
ben e^^yl 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 sothfastnes. 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 sufficiauntly. Nathe- 
les, by certeyn presumpciouns and conjectinges, I holde 
and bilieve, that God, which that is ful of justice and of 
rightwisnesse, hath suffred this to bityde, by juste cause 
resonable. Thy name, Melibe, is to say, a man that 
drynketh hony. Thou hast y-dronke so moche hony 
of sweete temperel richesses and delices 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 wel taken keep to the wordes of 


Ovide,^* that saith, Under the hony of thy goodes of thy 
body is hid the venym that sleeth thi soule. Aud Sala- 
mon saith, If thou have founde hony, etc of it that suf- 
ficeth ; for if thou ete of i*' out of mesure, thou schalt 
spewe, and be nedy and iiovere. And peraventure 
Crist hath the in despit, and hath tomed away fro the 
his face and his eeres of misericorde ; and also he hath 
suffred that thou hast ben puuysshed in the manor 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, aud the 
■vrorhl, thou hast y-suffred hem to entre into thin herte 
■s\ilfully, by the -wyudow of thy body, and hast nought 
defended thiself sufficiently agayns here assautes,^^ and 
here temptaciouns, so that thay have womidid thi soule 
in fyve places, this is to sayn, the dedly syimes that ben 
entred into thin herte by thy iyxe Asittes : and in the 
same maner oure Lord Crist hath wolde and suffred, 
that tliy thre enemyes ben entred into thui hoits by the 
■wyndowes, and have i-^\'Oundid thi doughter in the for- 
sayde maner." 

" Certes," quod Melibeus, " I so %vel that ye enforce 
yow moche by wordes to overcome me, in such manerc, 
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 Ovide. I presume the allusion is to Ovid. Amor. lib. i, el. viii, 104. 
Impia sub dulci melle veiiona latent. 

iS Assaules. The Harl. MS. rcatls asrailis. and tlio Lands. MS. dc- 
fautcs. 'J'lio readiu},' here adnjitid tiom 'I'jrwhilt is authurized hy the 
Freuch original, which Las a!sau.r. 


geaunces the pcrilcs and the yvelcs that mighteu folwe 
of vengeaunccs takyngc, a man woklc never take ven- 
geaunce, and that were harm : for by vengeaunce takynge 
be wikked men destruyed and dissevered fro the goodc 
men. And thay that have wille to wikkednes, res- 
treignen here wikked pui'pos, whan thay seen the pun- 
ysshyng and the chastisyng of trespasours. 

" And yit'" say I more, that right so as a sengle per- 
sone synncth in taking of vengeaunce, right so the 
jugge synnetli 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 dredcth to doou outrage, 
whan he woot and kuoweth that it displeseth to the 
jugges and the sovei'aynes. 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 pmiysshe 
the schrewes and mysdoers, and for to defende with the 
goode men. If ye wol take vengeaunce on youre eue- 
myes, ye schul retoume or have recours to the jugges. 

39 Jiul ijit. The comiiieDCPment of this paragraph, which is very ne- 
crssary for the sense, is not found in Chaucer's translation in any of the 
MSS. In the French original it stands thus : — " Et a ce respont dame 
Prudence, ' Certes,' dist-elle, ' je t'octroye que de vengence vient molt do 
maulx et de hiens, mais vengence n'appartient pas a un chascun, fors 
senlement auxjuges, et a ceux qui ont la juridiction surles malfaitteurs. 
Et dit plus que,' " &c. 

*" For Senec . .schrewes. I give this reading, adopted hy Tyrwhitt, 
instead of that of the Harl. MS., He thai maigler if, he saith t/ood to re- 
prove schrewes, nhich neither oilers Jiny apparent sense, nor represents the 
French original, " Car Senesque dit, Ccllui nuit uux bous qui espargnc 
les niauvais." 


that have juredicciouii upon hem, and he schal pun- 
issche hem, as the lawe axeth and reqiureth." "A!" 
quod Melibeus, " this vengeaunce hketh 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, with Goddes help, helpe me my schame 
for to venge." 

"Certes," quod Pmdence, "if ye wil wirche by my 
counseil, ye schul not assaye fortune by no maner way, 
ne schul not leue 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 witte. 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 byfome the 
jugge ne liketh yow nought, and the vengeaunce that is 
doon*' in hope of fortune, is perilous and uncerteyn, 

*' After the lawe... that h doon. These words are omitted in the Harl. 
MS. by an evident error of the scribe, who ski]iped from the first doon 
to the st'cond. 'I'hev \\i\\v. their rc|>reseutative in the original French, 
and are here given I'rcm t)ic Lands. MS. 


thanne haveth yc noon other remedye, but for to have 
recours unto the soveraigne jugge, that vengith alle 
vilonies and wronges ; 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 \'ilo- 
nye that men have doon unto me, I schal sonnere wame 
hem that han doon to me that \'ilonye, 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 \ilonye. And also, for 
my suflfraunce, 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- 
ferjnige schal many tliinges falle unto the, ■whiche thou 
schalt nought nowe suffre." " Certes," quod Prudence, 
" I graunte yow wel, that over mochil 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 scliul venge the vilonyes and injuries : 
and therfore the auctoritees that ye have sayd above 
been oonly understonden in the jugges : for whan thay 
suffre to mochil the wTonges 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 sjTinere, comaundith him and byddith him doon 
another synne. And the jugges and sovereignes 
mighten in here lond so mochil suflien of the schi'ewes 


and mysdoeres, that tliay schulde by such suffraunce, 
by proces of tyrae, wexcu of sucli power and might, 
that thay scliulde put out the jugges and the sovc- 
reignes from here places, anJ atte laste do hem lose 
here lordschipes. But lete us now putte, that ye hau 
leve 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 fyndo in many thinges, that I have i-sehewed 
yow er this, that here condicioun is bcttre than youres, 
and thei-fore say I, that it is good as now, that ye suffre 
and be pacient. 

" Forthermore yo knowe that after the comune sawe, 
it is a woodnesse, a man to stiyve with a stronger or a 
more mighty man than him selven is ; and for to stiyve 
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 
stry\'ynge as moche as he miglite. For Salamon scitli : 
It is a gret worschipe, a man to kepc him fro noyse and 
stiyf. And if it so bifalle or happe that a man of gret- 
tcr might and strengthe than thou art, do the gre- 
vaunce, stude and busye the rather to stille the same 
grevauncc, than for to venge the. For Scncc saith, ho 
putteth him in a gret peril that stryveth with a grettcr 
man than lie him selven is. And Catoun^- saith : If a 
man of heiher estat or degre, or more mighty then thou, 

^ Catoun. Lib. iv. dist. 40 ; — 

" Cede locuin Isesus, fortuna; code potentis ; 
Luidcrc ijiii potuit, prodesbc aliqiiaiidu vaklnt." 


do the anoye or grevaunce, sufFrc hiin ; for ho that hath 
cones don the a grievaunce, may another tymc relieve 
the and helpe the. 

" Yit sette I a caas, ye have both might and licence 
for to vcnge yow, I say ther ben ful many thinges that 
schulde restreigne yow of vengeaunce takynge, and 
make yow to encliue to suffre, and to have pacience of 
the wronges that hau ben doon to yow. First and for- 
ward, ye wol considre the defautes that been in youre 
ovn.\e persone, for whiche defautes God hath suffred yow 
to have this tribulaciomi, as I have sayd yow herbyfore. 
For the poete saith, We oughten paciently to suffre the 
tribulaciomi 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 synnes, the 
peynes and the tribulaciouns 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 ye 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 scith, 
hath suffred for us, and given ensample unto every man 
to folwe and sewe him, for he dede never synne, ne 
never cam vileyns worde out of his mouth. Whan men 
cursed liim, he cursed hem not ; and whan men beete 
}iim, he manased hem not. Also the gi'ete pacience 
which that seintes that been in Pai'adys han had ia tii- 
bulaciouus that thay have had and suffred withoutc 


desert or gult, oughte moclie stire yow to pacience. 
Forthermore, ye schuld enforce yow to have pacience, 
consideringe that the tribulaciouns of this world but 
litel wliile euduren, 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- 
cejxe 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 goveni- 
eth him by gret piiidence. 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 seiut Jame in his 
Epistil, that pacience is a gret vertu of perfeccioun." 

" Certes," quod Melibeus, " I graunte yow, dame 
Pinidence, 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 nombre of nght 
parfyte men: for myn herte may never be in pees, 

^ Cerles ..perfeccioun. These words liave been omitted by the scribe 
of the Hurl. MS., whose eye ran on from ihe wotA per/ecciouti which closes 
the preceding paragraph to tlie words bul every man, elc. They are here 
restored from the Lansd. MS. 


unto the tyme it be vengcd. And al be it so, that it 
was a gret peril to myne euemyes to don me a vilonye 
in takinge vengeaiince upon me, yit tooken thay noon 
heede of the peril, but fulfilden here wikked desir and 
her corrage : and therfore me theukith men oughten 
nought repreve 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 maner 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, whan the defence is doon anoon mthouten inter- 
valle, or withouten taryinge 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 repreven 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 semeth it, that ye have no 
vdWe to do youre wille attemperelly : and therfore me 


thenldth that pacience is good. For Salamon saith, 
that he that is not pacient, schal have gret hanii." 
" 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 la we saith, 
that he is coupable that entremettith him or mellith 
him with such tiling, as aperteyneth not unto him. Dan 
Salamon saith, He that entremetteth him of the noyse 
or str}^ of another man, is lik him that takith the 
straungo hound^^ by the eeres : for right as he that 
takith a straunge homid by the eeres is other while 
biten with the hound, right in the same wise, it is 
resoun that he have harm, that by his impacience mel- 
Icth him of the noise of another man, where it aper- 
teyneth not to him. But ye schul knowe wel, that tliis 
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 ven- 
geaunce, for I am richer and more mighty than myne 
cnemyes been : and wel knowe ye, that by money and 
by ha\'ynge of grete possessiouns, ben alle the tliingcs 
of this world governede. And Salamon saith, that alle 
thinges obeven to moneve." 

44 ofl} wonder. This passaije is omitted in tlio Harl. MS., but it 
is restored from the Lansd. MS., supported by the Freiicli ori^,'illlll. 

*^ the xlrauiujc hnuud. The word slramii^e is oiiiiltcil in tlie Harl. and 
Lunsd. MSS., tlie latU^r of whicli is somewhat confused liere. It is how- 
ever evidently necessary ; the Freucli hiis, " le chien qui ne coiigiioist.' 
In the next line the Harl, MS. reads, Iht strung hound. 


Whan Prudcnco had herd hiro housbond avaunte him 
of his richcssc and of liis moneyc,'"' dispraisynge the 
power of his adversaries, the sche spak and saydc in this 
wyse : " Ccrtes, deere sire, I graunte yow that ye ben 
richo 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 
ncethm'des 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 chaungc, 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 jit 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 

■•6 Whan Prudence... his vioncije. Tliis is also omittcil in tlie Harl. MS., 
by an ovorsiglit of the scribe, wlio passed on Irom the word muntije at tlie 
end of the preceding paragraph. 

■57 Pamjihilks. This poem has already been mentioned in the note on 
line 11422. T^rwhitt has given from a Bodleian MS. the liues liere 
alluded to, — 

Dummodo sit dives cnjiisdain nata biibulci, 
Eligit c inille iiucmlibet ilia viruiii, etc. 


comen ther many harmes and jxals : for grete poverte 
constreignetli a man to doon many yvels.^ And therfore 
clepetli Cassidore poverttlie moder oP° niyne, that is to 
sayn, the moder of overthrovyng or fallynge domi. And 
therfore saith Pieres Alphons : Oon of the grettest ad- 
versites of this world, is whan a free man by kyn or 
burthe is constreigned by povert to eten the ahnes of 
his enemyes. And the same seith Innocent in oon of 
his bookes, that sorweful and unhappy is the condicioun 
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 constreigiieth hym to axe. And 
therfore saith 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 ly ve in such 
a wyse. 

" By these resouus that I have sayd unto yow, and 
by many another resouu that I know and couthe say, I 
graunte yow that richesses ben goode to hem that gete 
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 manor ye schulde use hem. First, 
ye schulde gete hem withoute gret desir, by good leysir, 
sokyngly, and nought over hastily ; for a man that is to 
desiiynge for to gete riches, abandoneth him first to 

<8 and yvcU..,many yvels. The passage, omitted in the Ilarl. MS., is 
restored from tlie Lansd. MS. 

*^ (he moder of. These three words arc omitted in the Harl. MS , hy 
an oversight of the scribe. The original is, inure des crismes, mollier of 


thefte and to alle othere yveles. And tlierfore saith 
Salamon ; He that bastith him to bisyly to waxe riche, 
schal ben noon innocent. He saith also, that the riches 
tliat hastily cometh to a man, soone and lightly goth 
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 vdtte and by yoiu'e 
travayle, imto youre profyt, and that withoute wrong or 
harm dojTige to eny other persone. For the lawe saith, 
that no man maketh him self riche, that doth harm to 
another \\-ight ; this is to say, that nature defeudeth and 
forbedith by right, that no man make him self riche 
unto the hami of another persone. Tullius saith, that 
no sorwe ne drede of deth, ne no thing that may falle to 
a man, is so moche ageinst natiu'e, as a man to encresce 
his 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 tecliith a 
man to do many y\'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 busjTaesse ne occupacioun, schal falle into povert, and 
deye for himger. And he that is ydel and slough, can 
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 gi-ete colde, and in somer by enchesoun of 
the grete bete. For these causes, saith Catoun, waketh,^^ 

49 tcaketh. " I cau find nothing nearer to this in Calo, than the 



and encliiieth yow nought over moche for to slepe, for 
over moche reste norischeth and causeth many vices. 
And therfore saith semt Jerom : Doth some goods 
deedes, that the devel, wh'.eh that is oure enemy, ne 
fynde yow imoccupied ; for the devel ne takith not lightly 
unto his werkes suche as he fyndeth occupied in goode 
werkes. Thanne thus in getynge of riches ye 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-geten, use hem by mesure, that is to say, spende hem 
mesurably; for thay that folily 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 mithor a few lines below, see Lib. iv, dist. 17, and Lib. iii, dist. 23." 
— Tyrwhitt. 

*" vim seyn nought that youre richesse. These words, omitted in the 
Harl. MS., are restored from the Lansd. MS. 


youre might and in youi-e welclynge. For the wise man 
reproveth the averous man, and saith thus in tuo versus : 
Wherto and why bmieth a man his goodes by his gret 
avarice, and Imowith 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 jopieth he him, or knetteth 
him so fast imto his goodes, that alle his -svittes mows 
nought dissever him, or departe him fro his goodes, and 
knoTOth 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 
moi'e it desire th to swolwe and devoure. And as wel 
as ye wolde eschewe to be cleped an averous man or 
chinche, as Avel schulde ye kepe yow and goverae 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 ban 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 

=• bonairete. This seems to be altogether uu English form of the word, 
and occurs elsewhere in English writers. The French had only dehonnaire. 
Tyrwhitt here reads debonairetee, and the French original has, " que pitie 
et debonnairete ne les piiissent oiivrir. " 



wliicb miglat displese God that is your creatour and 
youre maker. For after the word of Salamon, it is better 
to have litil good with love of God, than to have mochil 
good and tresor, and lese th? love of his lord God. And 
the prophets saith: Better is to beu a good man, and 
have litel good and tresore, than to ben holden a schrewe, 
and have gret riches. And yit say I forthennore, 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, 
Aftenvard, in getynge of youi'e richesses, and in usynge 
of hem, you most have gret busynesse and gret diligence, 
that youre good name be alway kept and consen-ed. For 
Salamon saith : Better it is, and more aveylith a man, 
for to have a good name, than for to have gret riches. 
And theifore he saith in another place : Do gi'et dili- 
gence, saith Salamon, in kepynge of thy frend, and of 
thy good name, for it schal leuger abyde with 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 
Augustyn, that ther ben tuo thinges that ben necessarie 
and needful ; and that is good conscience and good loos ; 


that is to sayu, good conscience in tliin ougline pei*sone 
in-wai'd, 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. 

" Sii-e, 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 bygynue 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 sufficeaunce : for the richere 
that he is, the gretter dispenses most he make, if he wol 
have worschipe 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 worschipe and profyt; for 
the •\ictorie of batailles that ben in this world, lith not 
in gret nombre or multitude of poeple, ne in vertu of 
man, but it lith in the Aville and in the bond of oure 
lord God almighty. And Judas Machabeus, which was 
Goddes knight, whan he schulde fighte ageinst his ad- 
versaries, that hadde a gretter nombre and a gi-etter 
multitude of folk and streugere than was the poeple of 
this Machabe, yit he reconfoited 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 f^ for the \actorie of batailles cometh uouglit 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 certeyn, if it be worthi that God give him ^-ictorie 
or nought, after that that Salamon saith, tlierfore every 
man schulde gretly drede werres to bygynue. And by- 
cause that in liatailles 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 
aventurous, and no thing certeyn, for as lightly is oon 
hurt with a spere as another ; and for ther is gret peril 
in werre, therfore schulde a man flee and eschewe werre 
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 youi'e faire wordes and by youre resouns, that ye 
have schewed me, that the werre liketh yow no thing : 
but I have not yit herd yom^e counseil, how I schall doo 
in this neede." " Ceiles," quod sche, "I counseile 
yow that ye accorde with yom'e adversaries, and that ye 
have pees with hem. For seiut Jame saith in his 
Epistles, that by concord and pees, the smale ryches 
wexen grete, and by debaat and discoi'd the gret rich- 
esses fallen doun. And ye knowe wel, that oon of the 
moste grettest and sovei*aign thinges, that is in this 
world, is vuiite and pees. And therfore saith om'e lord 

*2 as to many folk. These words are omitted in the Harl. MS., evi- 
dently by a mere oversight of the scribe. 


Jhesu Crist to his aposteles iu this wise : Wei happy 
aud blessed be thay that loven and purchacen 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 knowe wel that myue adversaries ban 
bygonne 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 worscliipe : for right as 
men seyn, that over gret piyde engendreth dispisyng, 
so fareth it by to gret humblete or mekenes." Thanne 
bygan dame Pnidence to make semblant of wrath the, 
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 pui'chaced 
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 schi'ewednesse 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 thai schul to yow: for I 
knowe wel that ye be so hard-herted, that ve wil doo 

** God. The Harl. MS. reads Crist ; but the reading adopted in the 
text is not only supported by the Lansd. MS. and the original French, 
but by the words of St. Matthew v. 9: " Bcati pacifici, quoniam filii 
Dei vocabuntur." 


no thing for me ; and Salamon saith : He that is over 
harcl-herted, atte laste he schal myshappe and mystyde." 
Wlian Melibe had seyn dame Prudence make sem- 
blaunce of wTaththe, 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 cleer sight. 
But sayeth and counsaileth 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 folie, he schal fynde gret- 
ter grace than he that deceyveth 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 wi'aththe, than he that supporteth him and prayseth 
liim in his mysdoyng, and laugheth at his folie. And 
this same Salamon saith afterward, that by the sorwe- 
ful Ndsage of a man, that is to sayn, by sory and hev-y 
countenaunce of a man, the fool corretteth himself and 
amendeth." Thanne sayde Melibeus: "I schal not 
conne answere to so many faire resouns as ye putten to 
me and schewen ; sayeth schortly youre wille and j^oure 
comiseil, and I am al redy to fulfille and perfom*me it." 
Thanne dame Prudence discovered al hire counsail 
and hire will unto him and sayde : " I counseile yow," 


quod sche, "above alle thinges, that ye make pees 
bitwen God and yow, and beth reconsiled unto him 
and to his grace, for as I have sayd yow herbifom, 
God hath suflfred yow have this tribulacioun and dis- 
ease^ for youi'e synnes ; and if ye do as I say yow, God 
wol sonde youre advei*saries unto yow, and make hem 
falle at youre feet, al redy to doo youre ^ille and youre 
comaundment. For Salamon saith : Whan the condi- 
cioun of man is plesant and lik3^lg to God, he chaung- 
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 speke with youre adversaries in 
prive place, for thay schul not knowe it by youi'e wille 
or yom'e assent ;^ and thanne, whan I knowe here wille 
and here entent, I may coimseile yow the more seurly." 
" Dame," quod Melibeus, " doth youre wille and 
yoiu'e likyng, for I putte me holly in youre disposi- 
cioun and ordinaunce." Thanne dame Prudence, whan 
sche seih the good wille of hir housbond, sche deli- 
bered and took avis by hir self, thenkynge how sche 
mighte bringe this neede imto good conclusioun and to 
a good ende. And whan sche saugh hire tyme, sche 
sente for these adversaries to come unto hii'e into a 
prive place, and schewed wysly unto hem the grete 
goodes that comen of pees, and the grete harmes and 

** Tribulacioun and disease. The Harl. MS. omits the two first words, 
which are given from the Lausd. MS. The French original has eestc 
tribulacio)i only. 

'* For than schul not knowe. ..ijoure assent. Sans faire semblant que 
cp vicngne de vostre consentement. 


perils that ben in ^velTe ; and sayde to hem, iu goodly 
manere, how that hem aughte to have gret repentaunce 
of the iujurie and wi'ong that thay hadde doou to Me- 
libe hire lord, and unto hir-^ and hire doughter. And 
whan thay herden the goodly wordes of dame Pnidence, 
they were the surprised and ravyssched, and hadden so 
gret joye of hire, that wonder was to telle. " A, lady !" 
quod thay, " ye have schewed unto us the blessyng of 
swetues, after the sawe of David the prophete ; for the 
recounsilvng, which we be nought worthy to have in no 
manere, but we oughten require it ^^ith 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 fi'endes, and maken schrewes to ben debou 
aire and meke. Certes," quod thay, " we putten oiu'e 
deede, and al oure matier and cause, al holly in 
youi-e good wille, and ben redy to obeye to the speche 
and to the comaundement 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 knowleche wel that 
we have offended and greved my lord Melibe out of 
resoim and out of mesui'e, so feiforth that we, ben 
nought of power to make his amendes ; and therfore we 
oblie us and bynde us and oui'e frendes, for to doo al 
his wille and his comaundmeutz. But peraventure he 
hath such he\7Ties and such wraththe to us-ward, by- 
cause of oure offence, that he wol enjoyne us such pejTie 


as we mow not here ue susteyue ; and therfore, noble 
lady, we biseke to youre wommanly pit6 to take such 
avysement in this neede, that we, ue om-e frendes, ben 
not disherited and destroyed thurgh oiire folye." "Cer- 
tes," quod dame Pnidence, "it is an hard tiling, and 
right a perilous, that a man put him al outrely in the 
arbitracioun and juggement and the might and power 
of his enemyes. For Salamon sailh: Leeveth and giveth 
credence to that that I sclial say : I say, quod he, geve 
poeple and govemours of holy chirche,^® to thy sone, to 
thi wyf, to thy frend, ne to thy brother, ne geve thou 
never might ne maystiy 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 stronger resomi he defendeth and forbedith a man to 
give his body to his enemye. But natheles, I counseile 
yow that ye mystruste nought my lord ; for I wot wel 
and knowe verraily, that he is debonaire and meke, 
large, curteys, and no thing desirous ne coveytous of 
good ne richesse : for there is no thing in tliis world 
that he desireth, save oonly worscliipe and honour. 
Forthennore 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 recounsiled unto us." 

^ I say, quod he, geve poeple and govemours of holy chirche. These 
■words are not found in the Lansd. MS., and are omitted by Tyrwhitt. 
They are confused ; but the word heed or ear appears to be omitted after 
geve. The French has : " Car Salmon dit, oicz moy, dist-il, tous peuples, 
toutes gens et gouverneurs de gloire, a ton (ilz," &c. 


Thanne sayde tliay, with oou voj-s : " Worschipful lady, 
we putte us and oure goodes al fully in youre wille and 
(lisposicioun, and ben redy to come, what day that it 
like yow and unto youi'e nobl-^sse to limits us or assigne 
us, for to make oure obligacioun and bond, as strong as 
it liketh to youre goodnes, that we mowe 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 piyvely, and sche retoumed to liir 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 knowleclieth 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." 
Thaime was Pmdence right glad and jolyf, and sayde : 
" Certes, sire," quod sche, " ye ben wel and goodly 
avysed : for right 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 uiiboiinde by him that it was 
bounde." And thanne dame Prudence, withoute delay 
or taryiuge, sente anoon messageres for here kyn and 
for here olde frendes, whiche tliat were trewe and wyse : 
and tolde 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- 
cioim of the forsayde matier, and hadden examyued it by 
greet besynes and gret diligence, they gafe him ful coun- 
sail to have pees and reste, and that Melibeus schulde 
with good heit 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 was 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 monve ; and therfore I 
counseile yow ye st nde yovu'e messageres, whiche that ben 
discrete and wise, unto yom-e adversaries, tellynge hem 
on youre bihalve, that if thay wol trete of pees and 
of accord, that thay schape hem withoute dilay or taiy- 
inge to come imto us." Which thing was parformedin 
dede ; and whan these trespasom-s and repentynge folk 
of here folies, 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 henignely, yeldynge graces and thankinges 


to here lord Melibe, and to al his compaignye : and 
schope hem withoute delay to go Anth the messangeres, 
and obeye hem to the comamidement of here lord 
Melibe. And right auoon 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 vnl I 
knowe and wite of yow, whether ye wol putte the 
punyschment and the chastisement and the vengeaunce 
of this outrage, in the ^Nille 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 ban 
so gretly mystake us, and have ofifendid and giltid in 
such a wise ageins youre heighe lordschipe, that trewely 
we have desen-ed the deth. But •\dt 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 yoiire merciable pite ye wol considre oure grete 
repentaunce and lowe submissioun, and graunte us for- 


givenes of oure outrage, trespas, and offence. For wel we 
knowen, that youre liberal grace and mercy strechen 
forthere into goodnesse, than doth oure outrage, gilt, 
and trespas, into ^viklvednes ; al be it that cursedly and 
dampnably we have agilt ageiast youre highe lordschipe." 
Thanne Melibe took hem up fro the ground ful be- 
nignely, and resceyved here obligaciouns, and here 
bondes, by here othes upon here plegges and borwes, 
and assigned hem a certeyn day to retomiie unto his 
comi; for to accepte and receyve the sentence and jugge- 
ment that Melibe wolde comaunde to be doon on hem, 
by these causes afoni sayde ; which thing ordeyned, every 
man retourned 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 pui"pose me 
fully to desherite hem of al that ever thay have, and for 
to putte hem in exil for evermore." 

" Ceites," quod dame Pradence, " tliis were a cruel 
sentence, and mochil ageiust resoun. 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 eveiy 
man : for after the sawe of thapostil, covetise is roote 
of alle harmes. And therfore it were bettre for yow to 
lese so moche good of youre oughne, than for to take of 
here good in this manere. For bettir it is to lese good 
with worschipe, than it is to wynne good with vilonye 
and schame. And every man oughte to do his dili- 


gence and his busynesse, to gete him a good name. And 
yit schal he nought oonly busie him in kepinge of his 
good name,'^' but he schulde enforce him alway to do som 
thing, by which he may renovele his good name ; for it 
is wiiten, that the olde goode loos of a man is soone 
goon and passed, whan it is not newed ne renoveled. 
And as touchinge that ye saya, that ye wol exile youre 
adversaries, that thinketh me mochil ageinst resoun, 
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 his privelege, that 
mysuseth the might and the 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 execuciomi 
peraventure, and thanne were 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 twyes. And 
Tullius saith : Ther is no thing so comendable in a 
gret 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, ouiitted in tbe Harl. 
MS., is restored from the Lansd. MS. 


now to do vengeaunce, in such a manere, that youre 
goode name may be kept and conserved, 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 liis victorie. 
Wherfore I pray yow let mercy be in youre herte, to 
theffect and thentent, that God almighty have mercy 
and pite upon yow in his laste juggement. For seint 
Jame saith in his Epistil : juggement withoute mercy 
schal be doon to him, that hath no mercy of another 

Whan Melibe had herd the grete skiles and resoims of 
dame Prudens, and hir wys informacioun and techynge, 
his herte gau enclyne to the wille of his wyf, consideryng 
hir trewe entent, confeiTned him anoon and consented 
fully to werke after hir reed and counseil, and thankid 
God, of whom procedeth al goodnes, that him sente a 
wif of so gret discrecioun. 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 yom-e negligence and unconnynge, ye have 
mysbore yow, and trespassed unto me, yit forasmoche as I 
se and biholde yom'e humihte.thatye ben sory and repent- 
aimt of yom'e giltes, it constreigneth me to do yow grace 
and mercy. Wherfore I recep-e yow to my grace, and 
forgeve yow outerly alle the offenses, injm'ies, and 
wronges, that ye have don to me and agayns me and 
myne, to this effect and to this eude, tliat God of his 

c c 


endeles mercy wole at the tyme of oure deyinge forgive 
us oure giltes, that we have trespased to him in tliis 
wrecched world : for douteles, and we ben sory and re- 
pentaunt of the synnes anci giltes, whiche we have tres- 
passed inne in the sight of oure lord God, he is so free 
and so merciable, that he wil forgive us oure gultes, and 
bringe us to the blisse that never hath ende." Amen. 


BI(II\UDS,10n, ST. martin's l.ANE. 


PR Percy Society 

1121 Early English poetry