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What good they have as they suppose,
He bad anon the cofre unclose,
Which was fulfild with straw and stones :
Thus be they served all at ones.
This king'than, in the same stede,
Anon that other cofre, undede,
Where as they sihen gret richesse,
Wel more than they couthen gesse.
Lo! seith the king, now may ye se
That ther is no defalte in me;
Forthy ?? my self I wol aquite,
And bereth ye your ownè wite 23
Of that 24 fortune hath you refused.
Thus was this wise king excused :
And they lefte off her evil speche,
And mercy of her king beseche.
13. CHAUCER, 1328-1400. (Manual, p. 35, seq.)
FROM THE PROLOGUE TO THE CANTERBURY TALES.
Whannė that April with his shourès sote 1
The droughte of March hath perced to the rote,*
And bathed every veine in swiche : licour,
Of whiche vertùe engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eke with his sotè brethe
Enspired hath in every holt and hethe
The tendre croppés, and the yongè sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfè cours yronne,
And smalè foulès maken melodie,
That slepen alle night with open eye,
So priketh hem nature in hire corages;”
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken strangè strondes,
To serve 8 halweys couthe lo in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shirès ende
Of Englelond, to Canterbury they wende,"
The holy blisful martyr for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke, is
At night was come into that hostelrie
Wel nine and twenty in a compagnie
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
In felawship, and pilgrimes were they alle,
That toward Canterbury wolden ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And wel we weren esed attè beste.
And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everich on
That I was of hir felawship anon,
And made forword erly for to rise,
To take oure way ther as I you
But natheles, while I have time and space,
Or that I forther in this talè pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to resón,
To tellen you alle the condition
Of eche of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degre;
And eke in what araie that they were inne:
And at a knight than wol I firste beginne.
A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the time that he firste began
To riden out, he loved Chevalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordès werre,'
And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre,
As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.
At Alisandre he was whan it was wonne.
Ful often time he hadde the bord 3 begonne*
Aboven alle nations in Pruce.
In Lettowe hadde he reysed and in Ruce,
No cristen man so ofte of his degre.
In Gernade at the siege eke hadde he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie.
At Leyès was he, and at Satalie,
Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete see
At many a noble armee hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissene
In listės thries, and ay slain his fo.
This ilkè worthy knight hadde ben also
Sometime with the Lord of Palatie,
Agen another hethen in Turkie:
And evermore he hadde a sovereine pris.
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vilanie ne sayde
In alle his lif, unto no manere wight.
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.
But for to tellen you of his araie,
His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie.
Of fustian he wered a gipòn,
Alle besmotred & with his habergeon,
For he was late ycome fro his viage,
And wentè for to don his pilgrimage.
7 Wore a short cassock.
Ther was alsò 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' 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 atté Bowe,
For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At metè was she wel ytaughte withalle;
She lette no morsel from her lippès fall,
Ne wette hire fingres in hire sauce depe.
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe
Thattè no drope ne fell upon hire brest.
In curtesie was sette ful moche hire lest.3
Hire over lippe wiped she so clene,
That in hire cuppe was no ferthing sene
Of gresè, whan she dronken hadde hire draught.
Ful semèly after her mete she raught."
And sikerly she was of grete disport,
And ful plesànt, and amiable of port,
And peined hire to contrefeten? chere
Of court, and ben estatelich of manère,
And to ben holden digne 8 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 smalè houndès hadde she, that she fedde
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 o smert,
And all was conscience and tendre herte.
Full semely hire wimple ypinched was;
Hire nose tretis;" hire eyen grey as glas;
Hire mouth ful smale, and therto soft and red;
But sikerly she hadde a fayre forehed.
It was almost a spannè brode I trowe;
For hardily she was not undergrowe.
Ful fetise was hire cloke, as I was ware.
Of smale corall aboute hire arm she bare
A pair of bedès, gauded all with grene;
And theron heng a broche of gold ful shene,
On whiche was first ywriten a crouned A,
And after, Amor vincit omnia.
10 Smartly, adv. 11 Straight. 12 Of low stature.. 18 Neat
A Frere ther was, a wanton and a mery,
A Limitour, a ful solempné man.
In all the ordres foure is none that can
So muche of daliance and fayre langage.
He hadde ymade ful many a mariage
Of yongè wimmin, at his owen cost.
Until his ordre he was a noble post.
Ful wel beloved, and familier was he
With frankeleins over all in his contrée,
And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun:
For he had power of confession,
As saide himselfè, more than a curat,
For of his ordre he was licenciat.
Ful swetely herde he confession,
And plesant was his absolution.
He was an esy man to give penance,
Ther as he wiste to han’ a good pitance :.
For unto a poure ordre for to give
Is signè that a man is well yshrive.
For if he gave, he dorstè • make avant,
He wistè that a man was repentànt.
For many a man so hard is of his herte,
He may not wepe although him soré smerte.
Therfòre in stede of weping and praières,
Men mote give silver to the pourè freres.
His tippet was ay farsed & ful of knives,
And pinnès, for to given fayre wives.
And certainly he hadde a mery note.
Wel coude he singe and plaien on a rote.?
Of yeddinges & he bare utterly the pris.
His nekke was white as the flour de lis.
Therto he strong was as a champioun,
And knew wel the tavernes in every toun,
And every hosteler and gay tapstère,
Better than a lazar or a beggère.
For unto swiche a worthy man as he
Accordeth nought, as by his facultè,
To haven' with sike lazars acquaintance.
It is not honest, it may not avance,
As for to delen with no swiche pouràille,'
But all with riche, and sellers of vitàille.
And over all, ther as profit shuld arise,
Curteis he was, and lowly of servise.
Ther n' as no man no wher so vertuous.
He was the beste beggèr in all his hous:
And gave a certain fermè" for the grant,
Non of his bretheren came in his haunt.
For though a widewe hadde but a shoo,
(So plesant was his in principio)
Yet wold he have a ferthing or he went.
His pourchas was wel better than his rent,
And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp,
In lovėdayes,"3 ther coude he mochel help.
For ther was he nat like a cloisterere,
With thredbare cope, as is a poure scolere,
But he was like a maister or a pope.
Of double worsted was his semicope,'
That round was as a belle out of the presse.
Somwhat he lisped for his wantonnesse,
To make his English swete upon his tonge ;
And in his harping, whan that he hadde songe,
His eyen twinkeled in his hed aright,
As don the sterrès in a frosty night,
This worthy limitous was cleped Hubèrd.