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That thou into that yerd flough fro the bemes!



Thou were ful wel y-warned by thy dremes,
That thilke day was perilous to thee.
But what that God forwot mot nedes be,
After the opinioun of certeyn clerkis.
Witnesse on him, that any perfit clerk is,
That in scole is gret altercacioun
In this matere, and greet disputisoun,
And hath ben of an hundred thousand men.
But I ne can not bulte it to the bren,
As can the holy doctour Augustyn,
Or Boece, or the bishop Bradwardyn,
Whether that Goddes worthy forwiting
Streyneth me nedely for to doon a thing,
(Nedely clepe I simple necessitee);
Or elles, if free choys be graunted me
To do that same thing, or do it noght,
Though God forwot it, er that it was

Or if his witing streyneth nevere a del
But by necessitee condicionel.



I wol not han to do of swich matere;
My tale is of a cok, as ye may here,
That took his counseil of his wyf, with

To walken in the yerd upon that morwe 434
That he had met the dreem, that I of tolde.
Wommennes counseils been ful ofte colde;
Wommannes counseil broghte us first to wo,
And made Adam fro paradys to go,


Ther as he was ful mery, and wel at ese.
But for I noot, to whom it mighte displese,
If I counseil of wommen wolde blame,
Passe over, for I seyde it in my game.
Rede auctours, wher they trete of swich

And what thay seyn of wommen ye may here.

Thise been the cokkes wordes, and nat myne; I can noon harme of no womman divyne.


Faire in the sond, to bathe hire merily, 447 Lyth Pertelote, and alle hir sustres by, Agayn the sonne; and Chauntecleer so free Song merier than the mermayde in the see; For Phisiologus seith sikerly, How that they singen wel and merily. And so bifel, that as he caste his yë, Among the wortes, on a boterflye, He was war of this fox that lay ful lowe. 455 No-thing ne liste him thanne for to crowe, But cryde anon, 'cok, cok,' and up he sterte, As man that was affrayèd in his herte. For naturelly a beest desyreth flee Fro his contrarie, if he may it see, Though he never erst had seyn it with his yë.


This Chauntecleer, whan he gan him espye, He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon Seyde, Gentil sire, allas! wher wol ye gon? Be ye affrayed of me that am your freend? Now certes, I were worse than a feend, 466 If I to yow wolde harm or vileinye. I am nat come your counseil for tespye; But trewely, the cause of my cominge Was only for to herkne how that ye singe. For trewely ye have as mery a stevene, 471 As eny aungel hath, that is in hevene; Therwith ye han in musik more felinge Than hadde Boece, or any that can singe. My lord your fader (God his soule blesse!) And eek your moder, of hir gentilesse, 476 Han in myn hous y-been, to my gret ese; And certes, sire, ful fayn wolde I yow plese. But for men speke of singing, I wol saye, So mote I brouke wel myn eyen tweye, Save yow, I herde nevere man so singe, As dide your fader in the morweninge; Certes, it was of herte, al that he song. And for to make his voys the more strong, He wolde so peyne him, that with both his yên 485




He moste winke, so loude he wolde cryen,
And stonden on his tiptoon therwithal,
And strecche forth his nekke long and smal.
And eek he was of swich discrecioun,
That ther nas no man in no regioun
That him in song or wisdom mighte passe.
I have weel rad in daun Burnel the Asse,
Among his vers, how that ther was a cok,
For that a prestes sone yaf him a knok
Upon his leg, why he was yong and nyce,
He made him for to lese his benefyce.
But certeyn, ther nis no comparisoun
Bitwix the wisdom and discrecioun
Of your fader, and of his subtiltee.
Now singeth, sire, for seinte charitee,
Let se, conne ye your fader countrefete?'
This Chauntecleer his winges gan to bete,
As man that coude his tresoun nat espye,
So was he ravisshed with his flaterye.
Allas! ye lordes, many a fals flatour
Is in your courtes, and many a losengeour,
That plesen yow wel more, by my feith,
Than he that sooth fastnesse unto yow seith.
Redeth Ecclesiaste of flaterye;



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For yet ne was ther no man that him sewèd. destinee, that mayst nat ben eschewed! Allas, that Chauntecleer fleigh fro the bemes!

Allas, his wyf ne roghte nat of dremes! 520
And on a Friday fil al this meschaunce.
() Venus, that art goddesse of plesaunce,
Sin that thy servant was this Chauntecleer,
And in thy service dide al his poweer,
More for delyt, than world to multiplye, 525
Why woldestow suffre him on thy day to

0 Gaufred, dere mayster soverayn,

That, whan thy worthy king Richard was slayn

With shot, compleynedest his deth so sore, Why ne hadde I now thy sentence and thy lore,

The Friday for to chide, as diden ye?


For on a Friday soothly slayn was he.) Than wolde I shewe yow how that I coude pleyne


For Chauntecleres drede, and for his peyne.
Certes, swich cry ne lamentacioun
Was nevere of ladies maad, whan Ilioun
Was wonne, and Pirrus with his streite

Whan he hadde hent king Priam by the berd,
And slayn him (as saith us Eneydos),

As maden alle the hennes in the clos, 540 Whan they had seyn of Chauntecleer the sighte.

But sovereynly dame Pertelote shrighte,
Ful louder than dide Hasdrubales wyf,
Whan that hir housbond hadde lost his lyf,
And that the Romayns hadde brend Cartage,
She was so ful of torment and of rage, 546
That wilfully into the fyr she sterte,


And brende hir-selven with a stedfast herte.
O woful hennes, right so cryden ye,
As, whan that Nero brende the citee
Of Rome, cryden senatoures wyves,
For that hir housbondes losten alle hir

Withouten gilt this Nero hath hem slayn.
Now wol I torne to my tale agayn:

This sely widwe, and eek hir doghtres two, Herden thise hennes crye and maken wo, 556 And out at dores sterten thay anoon, And syen the fox toward the grove goon, And bar upon his bak the cok away; And cryden, Out! harrow! and weylaway! Ha, ha, the fox!' and after him they ran, And eek with staves many another man; 562 Ran Colle our dogge, and Talbot, and Gerland,

And Malkin, with a distaf in hir hand; 564 Kan cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges

So were they fered for berking of the dogges
And shouting of the men and wimmen eke,
They ronne so, hem thoughte hir herte breke.
They yelleden as feendes doon in helle;
The dokes cryden as men wolde hem quelle;
The gees for fere flowen over the trees; 571
Out of the hyve cam the swarm of bees;
So hidous was the noyse, a! benedicite!
Certes, he Iakke Straw, and his meynee,
Ne maden nevere shoutes half so shrille, 575
Whan that they wolden any Fleming kille,
As thilke day was maad upon the fox.
Of bras thay broghten bemes, and of box,
Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and

And therwithal thay shrykèd and they houped;


It semèd as that hevene sholde falle.
Now, gode men, I pray yow herkneth alle!
Lo, how fortune turneth sodeinly

The hope and pryde eek of hir enemy!
This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak, 585
In al his drede, un-to the fox he spak,
And seyde, Sire, if that I were as ye,
Yet sholde I seyn (as wis God helpe me),
"Turneth agayn, ye proude cherles alle!
A verray pestilence up-on yow falle!
Now am I come un-to this wodes syde,
Maugree your heed, the cok shal heer


I wol him ete in feith, and that anon."
The fox answerde, 'In feith, it shal be

And as he spak that word, al sodeinly 595
This cok brak from his mouth deliverly,
And heighe up-on a tree he fleigh anon.
And whan the fox saugh that he was y-gon,
'Allas!' quod he, 'O Chauntecleer, allas!
I have to yow,' quod he, 'y-doon trespas,
In-as-muche as I makèd yow aferd,
Whan I yow hente, and broghte out of the


But, sire, I dide it in no wikke entente; Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I


I shal seye sooth to yow, God help me so.' 'Nay than,' quod he, 'I shrewe us bothe two, And first I shrewe my-self, bothe blood and bones, 607

If thou bigyle me ofter than ones.
Thou shalt namore, thurgh thy flaterye
Do me to singe and winke with myn yë. 610
For he that winketh, whan he sholde see,
Al wilfully, God lat him never thee!'
'Nay,' quod the fox, 'but God yive him

That is so undiscreet of governance,
That iangleth whan he sholde holde his pees.'



Lo, swich it is for to be recchelees, And necligent, and truste on flaterye. But ye that holden this tale a folye, As of a fox, or of a cok and hen, Taketh the moralitee, good men. For seint Paul seith, that al that writen is, To our doctryne it is y-write, y-wis. Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille. Now, gode God, if that it be thy wille, 624 As seith my lord, so make us alle good men; And bringe us to his heighe blisse. Amen.

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O prince, desyre to be honourable,
Cherish thy folk and hate extorcioun!
Suffre no thing, that may be reprevable 25
To thyn estat, don in thy regioun.
Shew forth thy swerd of castigacioun,
Dred God, do law, love trouthe and worthi-

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SIR THOMAS MALORY (c. 1400-1471)

Concerning the life of the author of the Morte d'Arthur little is known. He was born about the year 1400, lived at Newbold Revell, was knighted, and represented Warwickshire in parliament in 1445. He was a gentleman of an ancient house and a soldier,' belonging to the most highly cultivated society of his day. Malory was prominent on the Lancastrian side in the Wars of the Roses, and his military service extended to France, where he was associated with Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, a knight distinguished throughout Europe as the embodiment of the chivalric ideal and as the father of courtesy.' Certain of the Earl of Warwick's exploits provide a rapid and highly colored narrative not unlike that of the Morte Arthur itself. It would seem, then, that Sir Thomas Malory was in every way endowed for composing the chivalric compilation by which he is now chiefly known.

William Caxton (c. 1422-1491) deserves a place by the side of Malory in the literary history of the fifteenth century not only because he edited and published the Morte d'Arthur, but also because he brought into print numerous other works of romance. After a considerable period of activity as a merchant, Caxton began his career as printer, translator, and editor by issuing at Bruges, about 1475, the first book printed in English, The Recuyell of the Histories of Troy. Caxton translated this work himself, from the French of Raoul le Fevre. In 1476 he returned to England, and set up his press in Westminster, where he finished printing, on November 18, 1477, The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, the first dated book issued in England. From his press in Westminster, Caxton issued some seventy-one separate works, of which Malory's Morte d'Arthur was the fifty-second.



After that I had accomplished and finished divers histories, as well of contemplation as of other historical and worldly acts of great conquerors and princes, and also certain books of ensamples and doctrine, many noble and divers gentlemen of this realm of England came and demanded me, many and ofttimes, wherefore that I 10 have not do made and enprint the noble history of the Sangreal, and of the most renowned christian king, first and chief of the three best christian and worthy, King Arthur, which ought most to be remem- 15 bered among us Englishmen to-fore all ther christian kings. For it is notoiously known through the universal world hat there be nine worthy and the best that ever were. That is to wit three pay- 20 nims, three Jews, and three christian men. As for the paynims they were to-fore the Incarnation of Christ, which were amed, the first, Hector of Troy, of whom the history is come both in ballad and in 25 prose; the second, Alexander the Great;

and the third, Julius Cæsar, Emperor of Rome, of whom the histories be well known and had. And as for the three Jews which also were to-fore the Incar5 nation of our Lord, of whom the first was Duke Joshua which brought the children of Israel into the land of behest; the second, David, King of Jerusalem; and the third, Judas Maccabæus: of these three the Bible rehearseth all their noble histories and acts. And since the said Incarnation have been three noble christian men stalled and admitted through the universal world into the number of the nine best and worthy, of whom was first the noble Arthur, whose noble acts I purpose to write in this present book here following. ing. The second was Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, of whom the history is had in many places, both in French and English; and the third and last was Godfrey of Boloine, of whose acts and life I made a book unto the excellent prince and king of noble memory, King Edward the Fourth. The said noble gentlemen instantly required me to enprint the history



of the said noble king and conqueror, King Arthur, and of his knights, with the history of the Sangreal, and of the death and ending of the said Arthur; affirming that I ought rather to enprint his acts and noble feats, than of Godfrey of Boloine, or any of the other eight, considering that he was a man born within this realm, and king and emperor of the same; and that there be in French divers and many noble vol- 10 umes of his acts, and also of his knights. To whom I answered, that divers men hold opinion that there was no such Arthur, and that all such books as been made of him be feigned and fables, because that 15 some chronicles make of him no mention, nor remember him no thing, nor of his knights. Whereto they answered, and one in special said, that in him that should say or think that there was never such a 20 king called Arthur, might well be aretted great folly and blindness; for he said that there were many evidences of the contrary: first ye may see his sepulture in the monastery of Glastonbury. And also in Polichronicon, in the fifth book the sixth chapter, and in the seventh book the twenty-third chapter, where his body was buried, and after found, and translated into the said monastery. Ye shall see 30 also in the history of Bochas, in his book De Casu Principum, part of his noble acts, and also of his fall. Also Galfridus in his British book recounteth his life; and in divers places of England many remem-35 brances be yet of him and shall remain perpetually, and also of his knights. First in the Abbey of Westminster, at Saint Edward's shrine, remaineth the print of his seal in red wax closed in beryl, in 40 which is written Patricius Arthurus, Britannie, Gallie, Germanie, Dacie, Imperator. Item in the castle of Dover ye may see Gawaine's skull and Craddock's mantle: at Winchester the Round Table: in other 45 places Launcelot's sword and many other things. Then all these things considered, there can no man reasonably gainsay but there was a king of this land named Arthur. For in all places, christian and 50 heathen, he is reputed and taken for one of the nine worthy, and the first of the three christian men. And also he is more spoken of beyond the sea, more books made of his noble acts, than there be in 55 England, as well in Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and Greek, as in French. And yet of record remain in witness of him in Wales,

in the town of Camelot, the great stones and marvelous works of iron, lying under the ground, and royal vaults, which divers now living have seen. Wherefore it is a marvel why he is no more renowned in his own country, save only it accordeth to the Word of God, which saith that no man is accept for a prophet in his own country.

Then all these things foresaid alleged, I could not well deny but that there was such a noble king named Arthur, and reputed one of the nine worthy, and first and chief of the christian men; and many noble volumes be made of him and of his noble knights in French, which I have seen and read beyond the sea, which be not had in our maternal tongue, but in Welsh be many and also in French, and some in English, but nowhere nigh all. Wherefore, such as have late been drawn out briefly into English I have after the simple conning that God hath sent to me. under the favor and correction of all noble lords and gentlemen, emprised to enprint a book of the noble histories of the said King Arthur, and of certain of his knights, after a copy unto me delivered, which copy Sir Thomas Malory did take out of certain books of French, and reduced it into English. And I, according to my copy, have done set it in enprint, to the intent that noble men may see and learn the noble acts of chivalry, the gentle and virtuous deeds that some knights used in those days, by which they came to honor; and how they that were vicious were punished and oft put to shame and rebuke; humbly beseeching all noble lords and ladies, with all other estates, of what estate or degree they been of, that shall see and read in this said book and work, that they take the good and honest acts in their remembrance, and to follow the same. Wherein they shall find many joyous and pleasant histories, and noble and renowned acts of humanity, gentleness, and chivalries. For herein may be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardiness, love, friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, virtue, and sin. Do after the good and leave the evil, and it shall bring you to good fame and renown. And for to pass the time this book shall be pleasant to read in; but for to give faith and belief that all is true that is contained herein, ye be at your liberty; but all is written for our doctrine, and

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