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Singers with harpés, baudés,1 waferers,2
Which be the very devil's officers,
To kindle and blow the fire of luxury,'
That is annexed unto gluttony.
The holy writ take I to my witness
That luxury' is in wine and drunkenness.
O! wist a man how many maladies
Followen of excesse and of gluttonies,
He wouldé be the moré measurable
Of his diete, sitting at his table.
Alas! the shorté throat, the tender mouth,
Maketh that east and west, and north and south,
In earth, in air, in water, men to swink3
To get a glutton dainty meat and drink.

A'likerous' thing is wine, and drunkenness
Is full of striving and of wretchedness.

O drunken man! disfigur'd is thy face,
Sour is thy breath, foul art thou to embrace;
And through thy drunken nose seemeth the soun
As though thou saidést aye Sampsoun ! Sampsoun !
And yet, Got wot, Sampsoun drunk ne'er no wine:
Thou fallest as it were a stickéd swine;

Thy tongue is lost, and all thine honest cure,4 For drunkenness is very sépulture

Of mannés wit and his discretión.

In whom that drink hath dominatión

He can no counsel keep, it is no drede.5

Now keep you from the white and from the rede,6
And namely from the white wine of Lepe,7
That is to sell in Fish Street and in Cheap.
This wine of Spain creepeth subtlely
In other winés growing fasté by,
Of which there riseth such fumosity,8
That when a man hath drunken draughtés three,
And weeneth that he be at home in Cheap,
He is in Spain, right at the town of Lepe,
Not at the Rochelle, or at Bordeaux town,
And thenné will he say Sampsoun! Sampsoun !
And now that I have spoke of gluttony,
Now will I you defenden10 hazardry.11
Hazard is very mother of leasings,
And of deccits and cursed forswearings,
Blaspheming of Christ, manslaughter', and waste also
Of cattle, and of time; and furthermo
It is reproof, and contrary' of honour
For to be held a common hazardour,
And ever the higher he is of estate
The more he is holden desolate.
If that a princé useth hazardry,
In allé governance and policy
He is, as by common opinión,
Yhold the less in reputatión.

Now will I speak of oathés false and great A word or two, as oldé bookés treat. Great swearing is a thing abominable, And false swearing is yet more reprovable. The highé God forbade swearing at all, Witness on Mathew; but in special

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And look that thou report his name well.'
'Sir,' quod this boy, it needeth never a deal ;l
It was me told ere ye came here two hours;
He was pardé an old felláw of yours,
And suddenly he was yslain to-night,
Fordrunk as he sat on his bench upright;
There came a privy thief men clepen Death,
That in this country all the people slay'th,
And with his spear he smote his heart atwo,
And went his way withouten wordés mo.
He hath a thousand slain this pestilence;
And, master, ere ye come in his presence,
Me thinketh that it were full necessary
For to beware of such an adversary:
Be ready for to meet him evermore;
Thus taughté me my dame; I say no more.'
'By Sainté Mary,' said this tavernere,

'The child saith soth, for he hath slain this year,
Hence over a mile, within a great village,
Both man and woman, child, and hind and page;
I trow his habitatión be there:

To be aviséd3 great wisdóm it were Ere that he did a man a dishonour.'

'Yea, Goddés armés!' quod this rioter,
Is it such peril with him for to meet?
I shall him seek by stile and eke by street,
I make a vow by Goddés digné bones.
Hearkeneth, fellaws, we three been allé ones
Let each of us hold up his hand to other,
And each of us becomen other's brother,
And we will slay this falsé traitour Death:
He shall be slain, he that so many slay'th,
By Goddés dignity, ere it be night.'

Together have these three their truthés plight
To live and dien each of them for other,
As though he were his owen boren6 brother.
And up they start all drunken in this rage,
And forth they gone towardés that villáge
Of which the taverner had spoke beforen,
And many a grisly7 oath then have they sworn,
And Christés blessed body they to-rent,8
'Death shall be dead, if that we may him hent."9
When they had gone not fully half a mile,
Right as they would have trodden o'er a stile,
An old man and a pooré with them met:
This oldé man full meekely them gret,10
And saidé thus: "Now, Lordés, God you see I'll
The proudest of these riotourés three
Answer'd again: What? churl, with sorry grace,
Why art thou all forwrapped save thy face?
Why livest thou so long in so great age?'

This oldé man 'gan look in his visage,
And saidé thus: For I ne cannot find
A man, though that I walked into Ind,
Neither in city nor in no village,
That wouldé change his youthé for mine age;
And therefore must I have mine agé still
As longé time as it is Goddés will.

Ne Death, alas ! ne will not have my life:
Thus walk I, like a restéless caitiff,12
And on the ground, which is my mother's gate,
I knocké with my staff early and late,
And say to her, "Level3 mother, let me in.
Lo, how I vanish, flesh, and blood, and skin.
Alas! when shall my bonés be at rest?
Mother, with you would I change my chest,
That in my chamber longé time hath be,
for an hairy clout to wrap in me."
But yet to me she will not do that grace,
For which full pale and welked14 is my face.

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'But, Sirs, to you it is no courtesy To speak unto an old man villainy, But hel trespass in word or else in deed. In holy writ ye may yourselven read; "Against an old man, hoar upon his hede, Ye should arise :" therefore I give you rede? Ne do'th unto an old man none harm now, No more than that ye would a man did you In age, if that ye may so long abide ; And God be with you whe'r ye go or ride: I must go thither as I have to go.'

"Nay, oldé churl, by God thou shalt not so,' Saidé this other hazardour anon; 'Thou partest not so lightly, by Saint John. Thou spake right now of thilkes traitour Death, That in this country all our friendés slay'th; Have here my truth, as thou art his espy, Tell where he is, or thou shalt it aby,6 By God and by the holy sacrament, For sothly thou art one of his assent To slay us youngé folk, thou falsé thief.' 'Now, Sirs,' quod he, if it be you so lief? To finden Death, turn up this crooked way; For in that grove I left him, by my fay, Under a tree, and there he will abide, Nor for your boast he will him nothing hide. See ye that oak right there ye shall him find. God save you that bought again mankind, And you amend !' Thus said this oldé man. And evereach of these riotourés ran

Till they came to the tree, and there they found
Of florins fine of gold ycoinéd round
Well nigh an eighté bushels, as them thought;
No longer then after Death they sought,
But each of them so glad was of the sight,
For that the florins been so fair and bright,
That down they set them by the precious hoard:
The worst of them he spake the firsté word.

'Brethren,' quod he,' take keep what I shall say ;
My wit is great, though that I bourde" and play.
This treasure hath Fortúne unto us given,
In mirth and jollity our life to liven,
And lightly as it com'th so will we spend,
Ey! Goddés precious dignity! who ween'd9
To-day that we should have so fair a grace?
But might this gold be carried from this place
Home to my house, or ellés unto yours,
(For well I wot that all this gold is ours)
Thenné were we in high felicity;
But truely by day it may not be ;-
Men woulden say that we were thieves strong,
And for our owen treasure done us hong,10
This treasure must ycarried be by night
As wisely and as slyly as it might;
Wherefore I redell that cut12 among us all
We draw, and let see where the cut will fall;
And he that hath the cut, with hearté blithe,
Shall runnen to the town, and that full swith,13
And bring us bread and wine full privily;
And two of us shall keepen subtlely

This treasure well; and if he will not tarrien,
When it is night we will this treasure carrien
By one assent where as us thinketh best.'

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Thy profit will I tell thee right anon.
Thou wott'st well that our fellow is agone;
And here is gold, and that full great plenty,
That shall departed be among us three;
But natheless, if I can shape it so
That it departed were among us two,
Had I not done a friendés turn to thee?"

That other answer'd: 'I n'ot1 how that may be: He wot well that the gold is with us tway. What shall we do? what shall we to him say?' Shall it be counsel?' said the firsté shrew,2 'And I shall tellen thee in wordés few What shall we do, and bring it well about.'

'I granté,' quod that other, out of doubt, That by my truth I will thee not betray.'

"Now,' quod the first, 'thou wott'st well we be tway; And tway of us shall stronger be than one. Look, when that he is set, thou right anon Arise, as though thou wouldest with him play, And I shall rive him through the sides tway: While that thou strugglest with him as in game; And with thy dagger look thou do the same; And then shall all this gold departed be, My dearé friend! betwixen thee and me; Then may we both our lustés all fulfil, And play at dice right at our owen will.' And thus accorded been these shrewés tway To slay the third, as ye have heard ine say.

This youngest, which that wenté to the town,
Full oft in heart he rolleth up and down
The beauty of these florins new and bright.
O Lord!' quod he, if so were, that I might
Have all this treasure to myself alone,
There is no man that liv'th under the throne
Of God that shouldé live so merry' as I.'
And at the last, the fiend, our enemy,
Put in his thought that he should poison buy
With which he mighté slay his fellows tway:
For why? the fiend found him in such living,
That he had leve3 to sorrow him to bring;
For this was utterly his full intent,
To slay them both and never to repent.
And forth he go'th, no longer would he tarry,
Into the town unto a 'pothecary,

And prayed him that he him wouldé sell
Some poison, that he might his ratouns quell;
And eke there was a polecat in his haw5
That, as he said, his capons had yslaw 6
And fain he would hini wreaken if he might,
Of vermin that destroyed them by night.

The 'pothecary answer'd: "Thou shalt have
A thing, as wisly8 God
soulé save,
In all this world there n'is no creáture
That eat or drunk hath of this cónfecture
Not but the mountance of a corn of wheat,
That he ne shall his life anon forlet,10
Yea, starvell he shall, and that in lesse while
Than thou wilt go a pace not but a mile;
This poison is so strong and violent.'

This cursed man hath in his hand yhent12 This poison in a box, and swith13 he ran Into the nexté street unto a man, And borrowed of him largé bottles three, And in the two the poison poured he; The third he kepté cleané for his drink, For all the night he shope him for to swink 14 In carrying of the gold out of that place.

And when this rioter with sorry grace15 Hath filled with wine his greaté bottles three, To his fellows again repaireth he.

1 Know not.

2 A cursed man.

4 Rats.

5 Farm-yard.

9 Amounting. 13 Immediately.

7 Revenge himself if he could. 10 Give over. 11 Die. 14 Labour, work.

3 Inclination.

6 Slain.

8 Certainly.

12 Taken.

15 Evil, or misfortune.

What needeth it thereof to sermon more? For right as they had cast his death before, Right so they have him slain, and that anon. And when that this was done thus spake that


'Now let us sit and drink, and make us merry,
And afterward we will his body bury.'
And with that word it happen'd him par cas1
To take the bottle where the poison was,
And drank, and gave his fellow drink also,
For which anon they storven? bothé two.

But certés I suppose that Avicenne
Wrote never in no canon ne' in no fenne3
More wonder signés of empoisoning
Than had these wretches two, or their ending.
Thus ended been these homicidés two,
And eke the false empoisoner also.



[The Good Parson.]

A true good man there was there of religion,
Pious and poor-the parson of a town.
But rich he was in holy thought and work;
And thereto a right learned man; a clerk
That Christ's pure gospel would sincerely preach,

And his parishioners devoutly teach.
Benign he was, and wondrous diligent,
And in adversity full patient,

As proven oft; to all who lack'd a friend.
Loth for his tithes to ban or to contend,
At every need much rather was he found
Unto his poor parishioners around

Of his own substance and his dues to give :
Content on little, for himself, to live.

Wide was his cure; the houses far asunder,
Yet never fail'd he, or for rain or thunder,
Whenever sickness or mischance might call,
The most remote to visit, great or small,
And, staff in hand, on foot, the storm to brave.

This noble ensample to his flock he gave, That first he wrought, and afterward he taught. The word of life he from the gospel caught; And well this comment added he thereto, If that gold rusteth what should iron do? And if the priest be foul on whom we trust, What wonder if the unletter'd layman lust? And shame it were in him the flock should keep, To see a sullied shepherd, and clean sheep. For sure a priest the sample ought to give By his own cleanness how his sheep should live. He never set his benefice to hire, Leaving his flock acomber'd in the mire, And ran to London cogging at St Poul's, To seek himself a chauntery for souls, Or with a brotherhood to be enroll'd; But dwelt at home, and guarded well his fold, So that it should not by the wolf miscarry. He was a shepherd, and no mercenary.

Tho holy in himself, and virtuous,

He still to sinful men was mild and piteous:
Not of reproach imperious or malign;
But in his teaching soothing and benign.
To draw them on to heaven, by reason fair
And good example, was his daily care.
But were there one perverse and obstinate,
Were he of lofty or of low estate,
Him would he sharply with reproof astound.
A better priest is no where to be found.

He waited not on pomp or reverence, Nor made himself a spiced conscience. The lore of Christ and his apostles twelve He taught but, first, he followed it himselve.

1 By accident.

2 Storven (perfect tense of starve)-died.

8 The title of one of the sections in Avicenne's great work, entitled Canun.

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Therefore whoso doth them accuse
Of any double intention,
To speaké rown, other to muse,1
To pinch at their conditión,

All is but false collusión,

I dare right well the soth express,
They have no better protection,
But shroud them under doubleness.

So well fortunéd is their chance,
The dice to-turnen up so down,
With sice and cinque they can advance,
And then by revolutión

They set a fell conclusión

Of lombés,3 as in sothfastness,
Though clerkés maken mention
Their kind is fret with doubleness.

Sampson yhad experience

That women were full true yfound;
When Dalila of innocence
With shearés 'gan his hair to round;4

To speak also of Rosamond,

And Cleopatra's faithfulness,

The stories plainly will confound
Men that apeach their doubleness.

Single thing is not ypraised,

Nor of old is of no renown,

In balance when they be ypesed,6
For lack of weight they be borne down,
And for this cause of just reason
These women all of rightwisness?
Of choice and free electión
Most love exchange and doubleness.


O ye women! which be inclinéd
By influence of your natúre
To be as pure as gold yfinéd,
And in your truth for to endure,
Armeth yourself in strong armúre,
(Lest men assail your sikerness),
Set on your breast, yourself t' assure,
A mighty shield of doubleness.

[Last Verses of Chaucer, written on his Deathbed.]
Fly from the press, and dwell with sothfastness ;10
Suffice unto thy good though it be small;
For hoard hath hate, and climbing tickleness,
Press12 hath envy, and weal is blent13 o'er all;
Savour14 no more than thee behoven shall;
Rede15 well thyself, that otherfolk can'st rede,
And truth thee shall deliver 't is no drede.16

Pain thee not each crooked to redress
In trust of her that turneth as a ball ;
Great rest standeth in little business;
Beware also to spurn against a nalle ;17
Strive not as doth a crocké18 with a wall;
Deemeth19 thyself that deemest other's deed,
And truth thee shall deliver 't is no drede.

That 20 thee is sent receive in buxomness ;21
The wrestling of this world asketh a fall;
Here is no home, here is but wilderness;
Forth, pilgrim, forth, O beast out of thy stall;
Look up on high, and thank thy God of all;

Either in whispering or musing. To find a flaw in. 3. Though clerks, or scholars, represent women to be like lambs for their truth and sincerity, yet they are all fraught, or filled with doubleness, or falsehood.'—Urry.

1 Spirit.

* It is always to be kept in mind that the language employed in literary composition is apt to be different from that used by the bulk of the people in ordinary discourse. The literary language of these early times was probably much more refined than the colloquial. During the fourteenth century, various dialects of English were spoken in different parts of the country, and the mode of pronunciation also was very far from being uniform. Trevisa, a historian who wrote about 1380, remarks that, Hit semeth a grete wonder that Englyssmen have so grete dyversyte in their owin langage in sowne and in spekyin of it, which is all in one ilonde.' The prevalent harshness of pronunciation is thus described by the same writer: Some use straunge wlaffing, chytryng, harring, garrying, and grys. byting. The langage of the Northumbres, and specyally at Yorke, is so sharpe, slytting, frotyng, and unshape, that we sothern men maye unneth understande that langage.' Even in the reign of Elizabeth, as we learn from Holinshed's Chronicle, the dialects spoken in different parts of the country were exceedingly various.

+ Mr Hallam mentions, on the authority of Mr Stevenson, sub-commissioner of public records, that in England, all letters, even of a private nature, were written in Latin till the beginning of the reign of Edward I., soon after 1270, when a sudden change brought in the use of French.-Hallam's Introduction to the Lite16 Without fear. 17 Nail. 18 Earthen pitcher. rature of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth cen20 That (which). 21 Humility, obedience. | turies, i. 63.

4 To round off, to cut round. 5 Impeach.

6 Ypesed, Fr. pesé-weighed. 7 Justice. 8 Security.
11 Be satisfied with thy wealth.
13 Prosperity has ceased. 14 Taste.

10 Truth.

Crowd. 12 Striving. 15 Counsel. 19 Judge.

Waiveth thy lust and let thy ghost thee lead,
And truth thee shall deliver 't is no drede.

However far the genius of Chaucer transcended that of all preceding writers, he was not the solitary light of his age. The national mind and the national language appear, indeed, to have now arrived at a certain degree of ripeness, favourable for the production of able writers in both prose and verse.* Heretofore, Norman French had been the language of education, of the court, and of legal documents; and when the Normanised Anglo-Saxon was employed by literary men, it was for the special purpose, as they were usually very careful to mention, of conveying instruction to the common people. But now the distinction between the conquering Normans and subjected Anglo-Saxons was nearly lost in a new and fraternal national feeling, which recognised the country under the sole name of England, and the people and language under the single appellation of English. Edward III. substituted the use of English for that of French in the public acts and judicial proceedings; and the schoolmasters, for the first time, in the same reign, caused their pupils to construe the classical tongues into the vernacular.† The consequence of this ripening of the national mind and language was, that, while English heroism was gaining the victories of Cressy and Poitiers, English genius was achieving milder and more beneficial triumphs, in the productions of Chaucer, of Gower, and of Wickliffe.


JOHN GOWER is supposed to have been born some time about the year 1325, and to have consequently been a few years older than Chaucer. He was a gentleman, possessing a considerable amount of property in land, in the counties of Nottingham and Suffolk. In his latter years, he appears, like Chaucer, to have been a retainer of the Lancaster branch of the royal family, which subsequently ascended the throne; and his death took place in 1408, before which period he had become blind. Gower wrote a poetical work in three parts, which were respectively entitled Speculum Meditantis, Vox Clamantis, and Confessio Amantis; the last, which is a grave discussion of the morals and metaphysics of love, being the only part written in English. The solemn sententiousness of this work caused Chaucer, and sub

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[Episode of Rariphele.]

[Rosiphele, princess of Armenia, a lady of surpassing beauty, but insensible to the power of love, is represented by the poet as reduced to an obedience to Cupid, by a vision which befell her on a May-day ramble. The opening of this episode is as follows:-]


When come was the month of May,
She would walk upon a day,
And that was ere the sun arist,
Of women but a few it wist ;1
And forth she went privily,
Unto a park was fast by,
All soft walkand on the grass,
Till she came there the land was,
Through which ran a great river,
It thought her fair; and said, here
I will abide under the shaw;2
And bade her women to withdraw:
And there she stood alone still,
To think what was in her will,
She saw the sweet flowers spring,
She heard glad fowls sing,

She saw beasts in their kind,
The buck, the doe, the hart, the hind,
The males go with the female;
And so began there a quarrel
Between love and her own heart,
Fro which he could not astart.
And as she cast her eye about,
She saw clad in one suit, a rout
Of ladies, where they comen ride
Along under the woode side;
On fair ambuland horse they set,
That were all white, fair, and great;
And everich one ride on side.

The saddles were of such a pride,
So rich saw she never none;
With pearls and gold so well begone,
In kirtles and in copes rich
They were clothed all alich,
Departed even of white and blue,
With all lusts that she knew,
They were embroidered over all:
Their bodies weren long and small,
The beauty of their fair face
There may none earthly thing deface:
Crowns on their heads they bare,
As each of them a queen were;
That all the gold of Croesus' hall
The least coronal of all

Might not have bought, after the worth: Thus comen they ridand forth.

[In the rear of this splendid troop of ladies, the princess beheld one, mounted on a miserable steed, wretchedly adorned in everything excepting the bridle. On questioning this straggler why she was so unlike her companions, the visionary lady replied that the latter were receiving the bright reward of having loved faithfully, and that she herself was suffering punishment for cruelty to her admirers. The reason that the bridle alone resembled those of her companions was, that for the last fortnight she had been sincerely in love, and a change for the better was in consequence beginning to show itself in her accoutrements. The parting words of the dame are-]

Now have ye heard mine answer;
To God, madam, I you betake,
And warneth all for my sake,
Of love that they be not idle.
And bid them think of my bridle.

[It is scarcely necessary to remark, that the hard heart of the princess of Armenia is duly impressed by this lesson.]

1 Few of her women knew of it.

2 A grove.

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