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The virtue expulsive or animal,
Nought may the woful spirit in mine heart
Since that my life ne may no longer dure.
Alas the woe! alas the paines strong,
Alas mine hearte's queen! alas my wife!
'I have here with my cousin Palamon Had strife and rancour many a day agone For love of you, and for my jealousy; And Jupiter so wis my soule gie,7 To speaken of a servant properly, With alle circumstances truely;
That is to say, truth, honour, and knighthead,
And with that word his speeche fail began ;
The will of Christ, and kneeling on the strond,
Her little child lay weeping in her arm;
'Mother, quod she, and maiden bright, Mary! Soth is, that through womannes eggement,+ Mankind was lorn,5 and damned aye to die, For which thy child was on a cross yrent :6 Thy blissful eyen saw all his torment; Then is there no comparison between Thy woe and any woe man may sustain.
Thou saw'st thy child yslain before thine eyen, And yet now liveth my little child parfay :7 Now, lady bright! to whom all woful crien, Thou glory of womanhood, thou faire May! Thou haven of refute, bright star of day! Rue on my child, that of thy gentleness Ruest on every rueful in distress.
'O little child, alas! what is thy guilt, That never wroughtest sin as yet, pardíe? Why will thine harde father have thee spilt ? 10 O mercy, deare Constable! (quod she) As let my little child dwell here with thee; And if thou dar'st not saven him from blame, So kiss him ones in his father's name.'
Therewith she looketh backward to the land, And saide, Farewell, husband rutheless!' 11 And up she rose, and walketh down the strand Toward the ship; her followeth all the press : And ever she prayeth her child to hold his peace, And tak'th her leave, and with a holy' intent She blesseth her, and into the ship she went.
[Departure of Custance.]
[Custance is banished from her husband, Alla, king of Northumberland, in consequence of the treachery of the king's
mother. Her behaviour in embarking at sea, in a rudderless
Weepen both young and old in all that place
4 He is able for.
8 Ruined, destroyed.
Victailled was the ship, it is no drede,13
[The Pardoner's Tale.]
In Flanders whilom was a company
And right anon in comen tombesteres 18
* Guide, helm.
19 Well made, neat.
Took. 4 Incitement.
18 Female dancers.
20 Female fruitsellers
8 Refuge 12 Crowd.
Singers with harpés, baudés,1 waferers,2
A likerous' thing is wine, and drunkenness
O drunken man! disfigur'd is thy face,
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
In other wines growing fasté by,
That when a man hath drunken draughtés three,
Now will I speak of oathés false and great
These riotourés three of which I tell,
And look that thou report his name well.'
To be aviséd3 great wisdóm it were Ere that he did a man a dishonour.'
'Yea, Goddes 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 false traitour Death: He shall be slain, he that so many slay'th, By Goddes 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 boren brother. And up they start all drunken in this rage, And forth they gone towardés that village 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.
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 !'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?
2 Sellers of wafer-cakes. 3 Labour.
Red. 7 A place in Spain.
1 Mirthful, joyous.
8 Fumes from drinking.
15 Servant lad.
This oldé man 'gan look in his visage,
Ne Death, alas! ne will not have my life:
And on the ground, which is my mother's gate,
1 Not a whit.
5 All one, or, in unity.
6 Born. 10 Greeted.
" 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; 66 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 hazardour4 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 lief7 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 olde man. And evereach of these riotourés ran
Thy profit will I tell thee right anon.
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;
This youngest, which that wenté to the town,
O Lord!' quod he, if so were, that I might
Till they came to the tree, and there they found
'Brethren,' quod he, take keep what I shall say;
This treasure well; and if he will not tarrien,
That one of them the cut brought in his fist,
And it fell on the youngest of them all ;
1 Unless he, &c.
5 This same.
9 Guessed. 12 Lot.
To slay them both and never to repent.
The 'pothecary answer'd: Thou shalt have
This cursed man hath in his hand yhent12
And borrowed of him largé bottles three,
And when this rioter with sorry grace15
1 Know not.
A cursed man. 5 Farm-yard.
7 Revenge himself if he could.
15 Evil, or misfortune.
What needeth it thereof to sermon more !
But certés I suppose that Avicenne
[The Good Parson.]
Wide was his cure ; the houses far asunder,
This noble ensample to his flock he gave,
He never set his benefice to hire,
Tho holy in himself, and virtuous,
He waited not on pomp or reverence,
[An Ironical Ballad on the Duplicity of Women.)
This world is full of variance
Also that the fresh summer flowers,
The crooked moon, (this is no tale),
The lusty freshé summer's day,
The sea eke with his sterné wawes8
Fortunés wheel go’th round about
What man ymay the wind restrain,
At every haven they can arrive
1 By accident.
8 The title of one of the sections in Avicenne's great work, entitled Canun.
8 Doubtless. I Fear.
Surety, steadfastness. 4 Shining.
6 Truth. 6 Pleasant. 7 Entire, whole, sounde 8 Waves. 9 Complote.
13 Guida Il Natural right. 19 Novelty, inconstancy. 14 Steering, pilotage.
Therefore whoso doth them accuse
Waiveth thy lust and let thy ghost1 thee lead,
And truth thee shall deliver 't is no drede.
However far the genius of Chaucer transcended All is but false collusión,
that of all preceding writers, he was not the solitary I dare right well the soth express,
light of his age. The national mind and the national They have no better protection,
language appear, indeed, to have now arrived at a But shroud them under doubleness.
certain degree of ripeness, favourable for the proSo well fortunéd is their chance,
duction of able writers in both prose and verse. * The dice to-turnen up so down,
Heretofore, Norman French had been the language With sice and cinque they can advance,
of education, of the court, and of legal documents; And then by revolution
and when the Normanised Anglo-Saxon was emThey set a fell conclusión
ployed by literary men, it was for the special purOf lombés,3 as in sothfastness,
pose, as they were usually very careful to mention, Though clerkés maken mention
of conveying instruction to the common people. But Their kind is fret with doubleness.
now the distinction between the conquering Normans
and subjected Anglo-Saxons was nearly lost in a Sampson yhad experience
new and fraternal national feeling, which recognised That women were full true yfound ;
the country under the sole name of England, and the When Dalila of innocence
people and language under the single appellation of With shearés 'gan his hair to round ;4
English. Edward III. substituted the use of English To speak also of Rosamond,
for that of French in the public acts and judicial proAnd Cleopatra's faithfulness,
ceedings; and the schoolmasters, for the first time, The stories plainly will confound
in the same reign, caused their pupils to construe Men that apeach their doubleness.
the classical tongues into the vernacular.t The Single thing is not ypraised,
consequence of this ripening of the national mind Nor of old is of no renown,
and language was, that, while English heroism was In balance when they be ypesed, 6
gaining the victories of Cressy and Poitiers, English For lach of weight they be borne down,
genius was achieving milder and more beneficial triAnd for this cause of just reason
umphs, in the productions of Chaucer, of Gower, and These women all of rightwisness7
of Wickliffe. Of choice and free election Most love exchange and doubleness.
JOHN Gower is supposed to have been born some L'Envoye.
time about the year 1325, and to have consequently O ye women ! which be inclinéd
been a few years older than Chaucer. He was a By influence of your natúre
gentleman, possessing a considerable amount of proTo be as pure as gold yfinéd,
perty in land, in the counties of Nottingham and And in your truth for to endure,
Suffolk. In his latter years, he appears, like Chaucer, Armeth yourself in strong armúre,
to have been a retainer of the Lancaster branch of (Lest men assail your sikerness),
the royal family, which subsequently ascended the Set on your breast, yourself t'assure,
throne; and his death took place in 1408, before A mighty shield of doubleness,
which period he had become blind. Gower wrote a
poetical work in three parts, which were respectively [Last Verses of Chaucer, written on his Deathbed.]
entitled Speculum Meditantis, Vox Clamuntis, and Fly from the press, 9 and dwell with sothfastness ;10 Confessio Amantis; the last, which is a grave disSuffice unto thy goodll though it be small;
cussion of the morals and metaphysics of love, being For hoard bath hate, and climbing tickleness,
the only part written in English. The solemn senPressl2 hath envy, and weal is blent13 o'er all ;
tentiousness of this work caused Chaucer, and subSavour14 no more than thee behoven shall; Redel5 well thyself, that otherfolk can’st rede,
1 Spirit. And truth thee shall deliver 't is no drede.16
* It is always to be kept in mind that the language employed Pain thee not each crooked to redress
in literary composition is apt to be different from that used by
the bulk of the people in ordinary discourse. The literary lanIn trust of her that turneth as a ball ;
guage of these early times was probably much more refined Great rest standeth in little business ;
than the colloquial. During the fourteenth century, various Beware also to spurn against a nalle ;17
dialects of English were spoken in different parts of the country, Strive not as doth a crockels with a wall ;
and the mode of pronunciation also was very far from being Deemeth 19 thyself that deemest other's deed,
uniform. Trevisa, a historian who wrote about 1380, remarks And truth thee shall deliver 't is no drede.
that, • Hit semeth a grete wonder that Englyssmen have so That20 thee is sent receive in buxomness ;21
grete dyversyte in their owin langage in sowne and in spekyin
of it, which is all in one ilonde.' The prevalent harshness of The wrestling of this world asketh a fall;
pronunciation is thus described by the same writer : Some Here is no home, here is but wilderness ;
use straunge wlaffing, chytryng, harring, garrying, and grysForth, pilgrim, forth, 0 beast out of thy stall ;
byting. The langage of the Northumbres, and specyally at Look up on high, and thank thy God of all ;
Yorke, is so sharpe, slytting, frotyng, and unshape, that we
Nothern men maye unneth understande that langage. Even 1 Either in whispering or musing. ? To find a flaw in. in the reign of Elizabeth, as we learn from Holinshed's Chro
3. Though clerks, or scholars, represent women to be like nicle, the dialects spoken in different parts of the country were lambs for their truth and sincerity, yet they are all fraught, exceedingly various. or filled with doubleness, or falsehood.' -Urry.
† Mr Hallam mentions, on the authority of Mr Stevenson, * To round off, to cut round.
sub-commissioner of public records, that in England, all letters, 6 Ypesed, Fr. pese weighed. 7 Justice. 8 Security. even of a private nature, were written in Latin till the beginning 9 Crowd.
10 Truth. 11 Be satisfied with thy wealth. of the reign of Edward I., soon after 1270, when a sudden change 12 Striving. 18 Prosperity has ceased.
brought in the use of French.-Hallam's Introduction to the Lite13 Counsel. 16 Without fear.
17 Nail 18 Earthen pitcher. rature of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth cene 20 That (which). 21 Humility, obedience. | turies, i. 63.