Page images

and studious in the midst of an active life. He was period of their sojourn ; and we have thus a hundred an enemy to superstition and priestly abuse, but stories, lively, humorous, or tender, and full of chaplayful in his satire, with a keen sense of the ludi- racteristic painting in choice Italian. Chaucer seems crous, and the richest vein of comic narrative and to have copied this design, as well as part of the delineation of character. He retained through life Florentine's freedom and licentiousness of detail; a strong love of the country, and of its inspiring and but he greatly improved upon the plan. There is invigorating influences. No poet has dwelt more something repulsive and unnatural in a party of fondly on the charms of a spring or summer morn- ladies and gentlemen meeting to tell loose tales of ing; and the month of May seems to have been successful love and licentious monks while the plague always a carnival in his heart and fancy. His re- is desolating the country around them. The tales tirement at Woodstock, where he had indulged the of Chaucer have a more pleasing origin. A compoetical reveries of his youth, and where he was pany of pilgrims, consisting of twenty-nine sundry crowned with the latest treasures of his genius, was folk, meet together in fellowship at the Tabard Inn, exactly such an old age as could have been desired Southwark,* all being bent on a pilgrimage to the for the venerable founder of our national poetry. shrine of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury. These

pilgrimages were scenes of much enjoyment, and even mirth; for, satisfied with thwarting the Evil One by the object of their mission, the devotees did not consider it necessary to preserve any religious


Chaucer's Tomb.

Tabard Inn, Southwark. The principal of Chaucer's minor poems are the strictness or restraint by the way. The poet himFlower and Leaf, a spirited and graceful allegorical self is one of the party at the Tabard. They all sup poem, with some fine description; and Troilus and together in the large room of the hostelrie; and after Cresseide, partly translated, but enriched with many great cheer, the landlord proposes that they shall marks of his original genius. Sir Philip Sidney travel together to Canterbury; and, to shorten admired this pathetic poem, and it was long po- their way, that each shall tell a tale, both in going pular. Warton and every subsequent critic have and returning, and whoever told the best, should quoted with just admiration the passage in which have a supper at the expense of the rest. The Cresseide makes an avowal of her love :

company assent, and mine host' (who was both And as the new-abashed nightingale,

• bold of his speech, and wise and well taught ') That stinteth first when she beginneth sing,

is appointed to be judge and reporter of the stories.

The characters composing this social party are When that she hcareth any herdes tale, Or in the hedges any wight stirring,

inimitably drawn and discriminated. We have a And after, sicker, doth her voice outring ;

knight, a mirror of chivalry, who had fought Right so Cresseide, when that her dread stent,

against the Heathenesse in Palestine ; his son, a

gallant young squire with curled locks, laid in Opened her heart, and told him her intent.

presse' and all manner of debonair accomplishments ; The House of Fame, afterwards so richly paraphrased a nun, or prioress, beautifully drawn in her arch by Pope, contains some bold imagery, and the ro- simplicity and coy reserve; and a jolly monk, who mantic machinery of Gothic fable. It is, however, boasted a dainty, well-caparisoned horsevery unequal in execution, and extravagant in con

And when he rode men might his bridle hear ception. Warton has pointed out many anachron

Gingling in a whistling wind as clear, isms in these poems. We can readily believe that

And eke as loud as doth the chapel bell. the unities of time and place were little regarded by the old poet. They were as much defied by Shak- * The house is supposed still to exist, or an inn built upon speare ; but in both we have the higher qualities of the site of it, from which the personages of the Canterbury true feeling, passion, and excitement, which blind Tales set out upon their pilgrimage. The sign bas been conus to mere scholastic blemishes and defects.

verted by a confusion of speech from the Tabard—"a sleeveless The Canterbury Tales form the best and most coat worn in times past by noblemen in the wars," but now durable monument of Chaucer's genius. Boccaccio, only by heralds (Speght's Glossary)—to the Talbot, a species of in his Decameron, supposes ten persons to have respot:-“This is the inn where Geoffrey Chaucer and nine-and

hound; and the following inscription is to be found on the tired from Florence during the plague of 1348, and twenty pilgrims lodged on their journey to Canterbury in 1382." there, in a sequestered villa, amused themselves by The inscription is truly observed by Mr Tyrrwhit to be modern, relating tales after dinner. Ten days formed the land of little authority: —Godwin's Lip of Chaucer.

A wanton friar is also of the party-full of sly and ral objects and scenery, in Chaucer's clear and simple solemn mirth, and well beloved for his accommodat- style. The tales of the miller and reve are coarse, ing disposition

but richly humorous. Dryden and Pope have hoFull sweetly heard he confession,

noured the Father of British verse by paraphrasing And pleasant was his absolution.

some of these popular productions, and stripping

them equally of their antiquated style and the more We have a Pardoner from Rome, with some sacred gross of their expressions, but with the sacrifice of relics (as part of the Virgin Mary's veil, and part of most that is characteristic in the elder bard. In a the sail of St Peter's ship), and who is also brim- volume edited by Mr R. H. Horne, under the title ful of pardons come from Rome all hot.' In satirical of Chaucer Modernised, there are specimens of the contrast to these merry and interested churchmen, poems altered with a much more tender regard to we have a poor parson of a town, 'rich in holy the original, and in some instances with considerable thought and work, and a clerk of Oxford, who was success; but the book by which ordinary readers of skilled in logic

the present day, who are willing to take a little Sounding in moral virtue was his speech,

trouble, may best become acquainted with this great

light of the fourteenth century, is one entitled the And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.

Riches of Chaucer, by C. C. Clarke (two volumes, Yet, with all his learning, the clerk's coat was thread-1835), in which the best pieces are given, with only bare, and his horse was ‘lean as is a rake.' Among the spelling modernised. An edition of the Can. the other dramatis persona are, a doctor of physic, a terbury Tales was published, with a learned commengreat astronomer and student, whose study was tary, by Thomas Tyrwhitt, Esq. (5 vols. 1778). but little on the Bible;' a purse-proud merchant; a

The verse of Chaucer is, almost without excepsergeant of law, who was always busy, yet seemed tion, in ten-syllabled couplets, the verse in which busier than he was ; and a jolly Franklin, or free- by far the largest portion of our poetry since that holder, who had been a lord of sessions, and was time has been written, and which, as Mr Southey fond of good eating

has remarked, may be judged from that circumWithouten baked meat never was his house,

stance to be best adapted to the character of our Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous ;

speech. The accentuation, by a license since abanIt snowed in his house of meat and drink.

doned, is different in many instances from that of

common speech: the poet, wherever it suits his conThis character is a fine picture of the wealthy rural veniency, or his pleasure, makes accented syllables Englishman, and it shows how much of enjoyment short, and short syllables emphatic. This has been and hospitality was even then associated with this not only a difficulty with ordinary readers, but a station of life. The Wife of Bath is another lively subject of perplexity amongst commentators; but national portrait: she is shrewd and witty, has the principle has latterly been concluded upon as of abundant means, and is always first with her offer- the simple kind here stated. Another peculiarity ing at church. Among the humbler characters are, is the making silent e's at the end of words tell in a stout carl' of a miller, a reve or bailiff, and a the metre, as in French lyrical poetry to this day : sompnour or church apparitor, who summoned of- for examplefenders before the archdeacon's court, but whose

Full well she sangé the service divine. fire-red face and licentious habits contrast curiously with the nature of his duties. A shipman, cook, Here 'sangé' is two syllables, while service furhaberdasher, &c., make up the goodly company

nishes an example of a transposed accent. In pursuthe whole forming such a genuine Hogarthian picance of the same principle, a monosyllabic noun, as ture, that we may exclaim, in the eloquent language beam, becomes the dissyllable beamés in the plural. of Campbell, What an intimate scene of English When these peculiarities are carefully attended to, life in the fourteenth century do we enjoy in these much of the difficulty of reading Chaucer, even in tales, beyond what history displays by glimpses the original spelling, vanishes. through the stormy atmosphere of her scenes, or the

In the extracts which follow, we present, first, a antiquary can discover by the cold light of his re- specimen in the original spelling; then various spesearches! Chaucer's contemporaries and their suc- cimens in the reduced spelling adopted by Mr Clarke, cessors were justly proud of this national work. but without his marks of accents and extra syllables, Many copies existed in manuscript, and when the except in a few instances; and, finally, one specimen art of printing came to England, one of the first (the Good Parson), in which, by a few slight changes, duties of Caxton's press was to issue an impression of the verse is accommodated to the present fashion. those tales which first gave literary permanence and

[Select characters from the Canterbury Pilgrimage.]
consistency to the language and poetry of England.
All the pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales do not

A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
relate stories. Chaucer had not, like Boccaccio, That fro the time that he first began
finished his design ; for he evidently intended to To riden out, he loved chevalrie,
have given a second series on the return of the com- Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie.
pany from Canterbury, as well as an account of the Ful worthy was hie in his lordes werre;
transactions in the city when they reached the sacred And, therto, hadde he ridden, none more ferre,
shrine. The concluding supper at the Tabard, As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
would have afforded a rich

display for the poet's And of his port, as meke as is a mayde :
when the successful competitor was to be declared, And ever honoured for his worthinesse.

Though that he was worthy he was wise ;
peculiar humour. The parties who do not relate He never yet no vilainie ne sayde,
tales (as the poem has reached us) are the yeoman,
the ploughman, and the five city mechanics. The In all his lif, unto no manere wight,
squire's tale is the most chivalrous and romantic, He was a veray parfit gentil knight.

But, for to tellen you of his araie,-
and that of the clerk, containing the popular legend
of Patient Grisilde, is deeply affecting for its pathos His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie.
and simplicity. The Cock and the Fox," related of fustian he wered a gipon!
by the nun's priest, and “January and May,' the Alle besinatred with his habergeon,

TA short cassock.
merchant's tale, have some minute painting of natu-


[ocr errors]


With rosted flesh, and milk, and wastel brede.
But sore wept she if on of hem were dede,
Or if men smote it with a yerde smerte ::
And all was conscience and tendre herte.

Ful semely hire wimple ypinched was;
Hire nose tretis ;3 hire eyen grey as glas;
Hire mouth ful smale, and thereto soft and


For he was late ycome fro his viage,
And wente for to don his pilgrimage.

With him, ther was his sone, a yonge Squier,
A lover, and a lusty bacheler ;
With lockes crull as they were laide in presse.
Of twenty yere of age he was,


Of his stature he was of even lengthe;
And wonderly deliver, and grete of strengthe,
And he hadde be, somtime, in chevachieľ
In Flaundres, in Artois, and in Picardie,
And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
In hope to standen in his ladies grace.

Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
All full of freshe floures, white and rede.
Singing he was, or floyting all the day :
He was as freshe as is the moneth of May.
Short was his goune, with sleves long and wide.
Wel coude he sitte on hors, and fayre ride,
He coude songes make, and wel endite ;
Juste and eke dance ; and wel pourtraie and write :
So hote he loved, that by nightertale?
He slep no more than doth the nightingale :
Curteis he was, lowly and servisable;
And carf before his fader at the table.

A Yeman hadde he; and servantes no mo
At that time ; for him luste to ride so:
And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene ;
A shefe of peacock arwes bright and kene
Under his belt he bare ful thriftily ;
Wel coude he dresse his takel yemanly :
His arwes drouped not with fetheres lowe,
And in his hand he bare a mighty bowe.

A not-hed3 hadde he with a broun visage,
Of wood-craft coude he wel alle the usage.
Upon his arme, he bare a gaie bracer ;4
And by his side, a swerd and a bokeler ;
And on that other side, a gaie daggere,
Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere :
A Cristofre on his brest of silver shene.
An horne he bare, the baudrik was of grene.
A forster was he, sothely, as I gesse.

Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of hire smiling was full simple and coy ;
Hire gretest othe n'as but by Seint Eloy ;
And she was cleped 5 Madame Eglentine.
Ful wel she sange the service devine,
Entuned in hire nose ful swetely ;
And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly,
After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe,
For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At mete was she wele ytaughte withalle ;
She lette no morsel from her lippes falle,
Ne wette hire fingres in hire sauce depe.
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe,
Thatte no drope ne fell upon hire brest.
In curtesie was sette ful moche hire lest.7
Hire over-lippe wiped she so clene,
That in hire cuppe was no ferthing & sene
Of grese, whan she dronken hadde hire draught.
Ful semely after hire mete she raught.9
And sikerly she was of grete disport,
And ful plesant, and amiable of port,
And peined 10 hire to contrefeten il chere
Of court, and ben estatelich of manere,
And to ben holden dignel2 of reverence.

But for to speken of hire conscience,
She was so charitable and so pitous,
She wolde wepe if that she saw a mous
Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde.
Of smale houndes hadde she, that she fedde

But sikerly she hadde a fayre forehed.
It was almost a spande brode I trowe;
For hardily she was not undergrowe.4

Ful fetise5 was hire cloke, as I was ware.
Of smale corall aboute hire arm she bare
A pair of bedes, gauded all with grene ;
And thereon heng a broche of gold ful shene,
On whiche was tirst ywriten a crouned A,
And after, Amor vincit omnia.
Another Nonne also with hire hadde she,
That was hire chapelleine, and Preestes thre.

A Monk ther was, a fayre for the maistrie,
An out-rider, that loved venerie ;
A manly man, to ben an abbot able.
Ful many a deinte hors hadde he in stable;
And when he rode, men mighte his bridel here
Gingeling, in a whistling wind, as clere
And eke as loude as doth the chapell belle,
Ther as this lord was keper of the celle.

The reule of Seint Maure and of Seint Beneit,
Because that it was olde and somdele streit,
This ilke monk lette olde thinges pace,
And held after the newe world the trace.
He yave not of the text a pulled hen,
That saith that hunters ben not holy men ;
Ne that a monk, whan he is rekkeles,
Is like to a fish that is waterles ;
(This is to say, a monk out of his cloistre);
This ilke text he held not worth an oistre.
Therfore he was a prickasoure7 a right :
Greihoundes he hadde as swift as foul of flight:
Of pricking, and of hunting for the hare
Was all his lust ; for no cost wolde he spare.

I saw his sleves purfiled at the hond
With gris,& and that the finest of the lond,
And, for to fasten his hood, under his chinne
He hadde, of gold ywrought, a curious pinne
A love-knotte in the greter ende ther was.
His hed was balled, and shone as any glas,
And eke his face, as it hadde ben anoint.
He was a lord ful fat and in good point.
His eyen stepe, and rolling in his hed,
That stemed as a furneis of a led;
His bootes souple, his hors in gret estat;
Now certainly he was a fayre prelat.
He was not pale as a forpined gost.
A fat swan loved he best of any rost.
His palfrey was as broun as is a bery. *

A Marchant was ther with a forked berd,
In mottelee, and highe on hors he sat,
And on his hed a Flaundrish bever hat,
His bootes clapsed fayre and fetisly,
His resons spake he ful solempnely,
Souning alway the encrese of his winning.
He wold the see were kept, for any thing,
Betwixen Middleburgh and Orewell.
Wel coud he in eschanges sheldes selle.
This worthy man ful wel his wit besette;
Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette,
So stedfastly didde he in his governance,
With his bargeines, and with his chevisance.10
Forsothe he was a worthy man withalle.
But soth to sayn, I no't how men hiin calle.

1 Rod.

Smartly, adv. 6 Neat. Hunting.

I On an expedition.

9 In the night-time.

4 Armour for the arm. 8 A head like a bullock's. 6 Called.


7 Her pleasure. 8 Smallest spot.

9 Rose.

10 Took pains. Il To imitate.

13 Worthy.

9 French crowns. money.

3 Straight. Of low statura 7 A hard rider.

& Fur. 10 An agreement for borrowing

[ocr errors]

A Clerk ther was of Oxenforde also,
That unto logike hadde long ygo.
As lene was his hors as is a rake,
And he was not right fat I undertake ;
But looked holwe, and thereto soberly.
Ful thredbare was his overest courtepy,
For he hadde geten him yet no benetice,
He was nought worldly to have an office.
For him was lever han, at his beddes hed,
Twenty bokes clothed in black or red,
Of Aristotle and his philosophie,
Than robes riche, or fidel, or sautrie :

But all be that he was a philosophre,
Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre;
But all that he might of his frendes hente,
On bokes and on lerning he it spente ;
And besily gan for the soules praie
Of hem that yave him wherwith to scolaie.
Of studie toke he most cure and hede.
Not a word spake he inore than was nede;
And that was said in forme and reverence,
And short and quike, and full of high sentence:
Souning in moral vertue was his speche ;
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.

A Frankelein was in this compagnie ; White was his berd as is the dayesie. Of his complexion he was sanguin. Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in win. To liven in delit was ever his wone 3 For he was Epicures owen sone, That held opinion, that plein delit Was verails felicite parfite. An housholder, and that a grete was he ; Seint Julian he was in his contree. His brede, his ale, was alway after on; A better envyned man was no wher non. Withouten bake mete never was his hous, Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous, It snewed in his hous of mete and drinke, Of alle deintees that men coud of thinke. After the sondry sesons of the yere, So changed he his mete and his soupere. Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in mewe ; And many a breme, and many a luce, in stue. Wo was his coke but if his sauce were Poinant and sharpe, and redy all his gere. His table, dormant in his halle, alway Stode redy covered alle the longe day.

At sessions ther was he lord and sire; Ful often time he was knight of the shire. An anelace and a gipcierebi all of silk Heng at his girdel, white as morwe milk. A shereve hadde he ben and a countour. Was no wher swiche a worthy vavasour.7

An Haberdasher, and a Carpenter, A Webbe, a Deyer, and a Tapiser, Were alle yclothed in 08 livere Of a solempne and grete fraternite. Ful freshe and newe bir gere ypiked was ; Hir knives were ychaped not with bras, But all with silver wrought full clene and wel, Hir girdeles and hir pouches, every del. Wel semed eche of hem a fayre burgeis, To sitten in a gild halle, on the deis. Everich, for the wisdom that he can, Was shapelich for to ben an alderman. For catel hadden they ynough, and rent. And, eke, hir wives wolde it wel assent, And elles certainly they were to blame, It is full fayre to ben ycleped Madame And for to gon to vigiles all before, And have a mantel reallich ybore.

A good Wif was ther of beside Bathe ;
But she was som del defe, and that was scathe.
Of cloth making she hadde swiche an haunt, -
She passed hem of Ipres, and of Gaunt.
In all the parish, wif ne was ther non
That to the offring before hire shulde gon-
And if ther did, certain so wroth was she,
That she was out of alle charitce.
Hire coverchiefs weren ful fine of ground,
(I dorste swere they weyeden a pound),
That on the Sonday were upon hire hede :
Hire hosen weren of fine scarlet rede,
Ful streite yteyed, and shoon ful moist and newe.
Bold was hire face, and fayre and rede of hew.
She was a worthy woman all hire live :
Housbondes, at the chirche dore, had she had five,
Withouten other compagnie in youthe,
But thereof nedeth not to speke as nouthe.
And thries hadde she ben at Jerusaleme;
She had passed many a strange streme :
At Rome she hadde ben, and at Boloigne,
In Galice at Seint James, and at Coloine :
She coude moche of wandring by the way,
Gat-tothed was she, sothly for to say.
Upon an ambler esily she sat,
Ywimpled wel ; and on hire hede an hat
As brode as is a bokeler, or a targe ;
A fore-mantel about hire hippes large ;
And on hire fete a pair of sporres sharpe.
In felawship, wel coude she laughe and carpe
Of remedies of love she knew perchance ;
For, of that arte, she coude the olde dance.

Ther was also a Reve and a Millere,
A Sompnour, and a Pardoner also,
A Manciple, and myself; ther n'ere no mo.

The Miller was a stout carl for the nones,
Ful bigge he was of braun, and eke of bones;
That proved wel ; for over all ther he came,
At wrastling he wold bere away the ram.
He was short shuldered, brode, a thikke gnarre,
Ther n'as no dore, that he n'olde heve of barre,
Or breke it at a renning with his hede.
His berd as any sowe or fox was rede,
And therto brode, as though it were a spade :
Upon the cop right of his nose he hade
A wert, and theron stode a tufte of heres,
Rede as the bristles of a sowes eres :
His nose-thirles blacke were and wide.
A swerd and bokeler bare he by his side.
His mouth as wide was as a forneis :
He was a jangler, and a goliardeis,2
And that was most of sinne and harlotries.
Wel coude he stelen corne and tollen thries.
And yet he had a thomb of gold parde.
A white cote and a blew hode wered he.
A baggcpipe wel coude he blowe and soune,
And therwithall he brought us out of toune.

The Reve was a slendre colerike man;
His berd was shave as neighe as ever he can :
His here was by his eres round yshorne ;
His top was docked like a preest beforne :
Ful longe were his legges, and ful lene,
Ylike a staff, ther was no calf ysene.
Wel coude he kepe a garner and a binne ;
Ther was non auditour coude on him winne.
Wel wiste he, by the drought and by the rain,
The yelding of his seed and of his grain.
His lordes shepe, his nete, and his deirie,
His swine, his hors, his store, and his pultrie,
Were holly in this Reves governing;
And by his covenant yave he rekening,
Sin that his lord were twenty yere of age ;
Ther coude no man bring him in arerage.

1 Obtain.
• Fixed.
1 Landlord.

6 Dagger.
8 Ope

8 Wont, custom.
& Purse.

[blocks in formation]

I A knot in a tree. * Dairy.



Ther n'as bailif, ne herde, ne other hine,
That he ne knew his sleight and his covine :1
They were adradde of him as of the deth.
His wonning was ful fayre upon an heth ;
With greene trees yshadewed was his place.
He coude better than his lord pourchace :
Ful riche he was ystored privily.
His lord wel coude he plesen, subtilly
To yeve and lene? him of his owen good,
And have a thank, and yet a cote and hood.
In youth he lerned hadde a good mistere ;
He was a wel good wright, a carpentere.
The Reve sate upon a right good stot
That was all pomelee grey, and highte Scot.
A long surcote of perse upon he hade,
And by his side he bare a rusty blade.
Of Norfolk was this Reve of which I tell,
Beside a toun men clepen Baldeswell.
Tucked he was, as is a frere, aboute ;
And ever he rode the hinderest of the route.

A Sompnour was ther with us in that place,
That hadde a fire-red cherubinnes face,
With scalled browes blake, and pilled berd:
Of his visage children were sore aferd.
Ther n'as quicksilver, litarge, ne brimston,
Boras, ceruse, ne oile of tartre non,
Ne ointement, that wolde clense or bite,
That him might helpen of his whelkes white,
Ne of the knobbes sitting on his chekes.
Wel loved he garlike, onions, and lekes,
And for to drinke strong win as rede as blood;
Than wold he speke and crie as he were wood;
And when that he wel dronken had the win,
Than wold he speken no word but Latin.
A fewe termes coude he, two or three,
That he had lerned out of som decree;
No wonder is, he herd it all the day :
And eke ye knowen wel how that a jay
Can clepen watte as well as can the pope :
But who so wolde in other thing him grope
Than hadde he spent all his philosophie;
Ay Questio quid juris ? wolde he crie.

He was a gentil harlot, and a kind; A better felaw shulde a man not find. And if he found o where a good felawe, He wolde techen him, to have non awe, In swiche a cas, of the archedekenes curse : But if a mannes soule were in his purse, For in his purse he shulde ypunished be. Purse is the archedekenes hell, said he. But, wel I wote, he lied right in dede: Of cursing ought eche gilty man him drede ; For curse wol sle, right as assoiling sareth, And also ware him of a significarit. In danger hadde he, at his owen gise, The yonge girles of the diocise ; And krew hir conseil and was of hir rede. A girlond hadde he sette upon his hede, As gret as it were for an alestake ;3 A bokeler hadde he made him of a cake.

With him there rode a gentil Pardonere Of Rouncevall, his frend and his compere, That streit was comen from the court of Rome, Ful loude he sang Come hither, love! to me : This Sompnour bare to him a stiff burdoun, Was never trompe of half so gret a soun. This Pardoner had here as yelwe as wax, Ful smothe it heng, as doth a strike of tax : By unces heng his

Dishevele, sauf his cappe, he rode all bare.
Swiche glaring eyen hadde he as an hare.
A verniclel hadde he sewed upon his cappe.
His wallet lay beforne him, in his lappe,
Bret-ful of pardon come from Rome al hote.
A vois he hadde, as smale as hath a gote :
No berd hadde he, ne never non shulde have;
As smothe it was as it were newe shave.

But of his craft, fro Berwike unto Ware,
Ne was ther swiche an other Pardonere ;
For in his male? he hadde a pilwebere,
Which, as he saide, was our Ladies veil :
He saide he hadde a gobbet of the seyl
Thatte Seint Peter had, whan that he went
Upon the see till Jesu Crist him hent :
He had a crois of laton ful of stones ;
And in a glas he hadde pigges bones.
But with these relikes, whanne that he fond
A poure persone dwelling upon lond,
Upon a day he gat him more moneie
Than that the persone gat in monethes tweie ;
And thus with fained flattering and japes,
He made the persone, and the peple, his apes.

But trewely to tellen atte last,
He was in chirche a noble ecclesiast;
Wel coude he rede a lesson or a storie,
But alderbest 3 he sang an offertorie ;
For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe,
He muste preche and wel afile his tonge,
To winne silver, as he right wel coude;
Therfore he sang the merier and loude.

[Description of a Poor Country Widow.]
A poore widow, somedeal stoop'n in age,
Was whilom dwelling in a narwé cottage
Beside a grove standing in a dale.
This widow, which I tell you of my Tale,
Since thilke day that she was last a wife,
In patience led a full simple life,
For little was her cattle and her rent ;
By husbandry4 of such as God her sent,
She found herself and eke her daughters two.
Three large sowes had she, and co mo,
Three kine, and eke a sheep that highte5 Mall :
Full sooty was her bower and eke her hall,
In which she ate many a slender meal ;
Of poignant sauce ne knew she never a deal ; 6
No dainty morsel passed through her throat;
Her diet was accordant to her cote :
Repletion ne made her never sick ;
Attempers diet was all her physic,
And exercise, and heartes suffisance :
The goute let her nothing for to dance,
Ne apoplexy shente 10 not her head;
No wine ne drank she neither white nor red ;
Her board was served most with white and black,
Milk and brown bread, in which she found no lack,
Seindell bacon, and sometime an egg or tway,
For she was as it were a manner dey.12

[The Death of Arcite.] V
Swelleth the breast of Arcite, and the sore
Encreaseth at his hearte more and more.
The clottered blood for any leche-craft13
Corrupteth, and is in his bouk14 ylaft,
That neither veine-blood ne ventousing, 15
Ne drink of herbes may be his helping.

1 A copy of the miraculous handkerchief.
2 Trunk.

lokkes that he hadde, And therwith he his shulders overspradde : Ful thinne it lay, by culpons on and on. But hode, for jolite, ne wered he non, For it was trussed up in his wallet. Him thought he rode al of the newe get ;4 1 Becret contrivances.

8 Give and lend * The sign of an alehouse. • Fashion.

3 Best of all. * Thrift, economy.

6 Called. Not a bit. 7 Cot, cottage 8 Temperate. 9 Prevented. 10 Injured. 11 Singed.

12 Mr Tyrwhitt supposes the word 'dey' to refer to the management of a dairy; and that it originally signified a hind. • Manner dey' may therefore be interpreted a species of hired, or day.labourer.' 13 Medical skill. 14 Body. 16 Ven. tousing (Fr.)-cupping; hence the term breathing a vein.'

« PreviousContinue »