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But riche he was of holy thought and werk.
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That Cristès gospel trewely woldè preche.
His parishens devoutly wolde he teche.
Benigne he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversite ful patient :
And swiche he was ypreved (a) often sithes. (6)
Ful loth were him to cursen for his tithes,
But rather wolde he yeven (c) out of doute,
Unto his pourè parishens aboute,
Of his offring, and eke of his substance.
He coude in litel thing have suffisance.
Wide was his parish, and houses fer asоnder,
But he ne left nought for no rain ne thonder,
In sikenesse and in mischief to visite
The ferrest in his parish, moche and lite, (d)
Upon his fete, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensample to his shepe he yaf, (e)
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
Out of the gospel he the wordès caught,
And this figure he added yet therto,
That if golde rustè, what shuld iron do?
For if a preest be foule, on whom we trust,
No wonder is a lewed man to rust:
And shame it is, if that a preest take kepe,
To see a shitten shepherd, and clene shepe :
Wel ought a preest ensample for to yeve,
By his clenenessè, how his shepe shulde live.
He settè not his benefice to hire,
And lette his shepe acombred in the mire,
And ran unto London, unto Seint Poules,
To seken him a chanterie for soules,
Or with a brotherhede to be withold:
But dwelt at home, and keptè wel his fold,
So that the wolf ne made it not miscarie.
He was a shepherd, and no mercenarie.
(c) Give. (d) The nearest and most distant of his parishioners. (e) Gave.
And though he holy were, and vertuous,
He was to sinful men not dispitous,
Ne of his spechè dangerous ne digne,
But in his teaching discrete and benigne.
To drawen folk to heven, with fairènesse,
By good ensample, was his besinesse :
But it were any persone obstinat,
What so he were of highe, or low estat
Him wolde he snibben (a) sharply for the nonės.
A better preest, I trowe, that no wher (b) non is.
He waited after no pompe ne reverence,
Ne maked him no spiced (c) conscience,
But Cristès lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught, but first he folwed it himselve.
With him ther was a Plowman, was his brother,
That hadde ylaid of dong (d) ful many a fother. (e)
A trewe swinker, and a good was he,
Living in pees, (f) and parfite charitee.
God loved he beste with all his herte
At allè times, were it gain or smerte, (g)
And than his neighèbour right as himselve
He woldè thresh, and therto dike, and delve,
For Cristè's sake, for every pourè wight,
Withouten hire, if it lay in his might.
His tithès paied he ful fayre and wel
Both of his propre swinke, and his catel.
In a tabard he rode upon a mere.
Ther was also a reve, and a millere,
A sompnour, (h) and an pardoner (i) also,
A manciple, (k) and myself, ther n'ere no mo.
(a) Snub, reprove. () No where. (c) Nice, in an affected sense.
(e) Load. (f) Peace. (g) Pain. (h) A sompnour, an officer employed to summon delinquents in ecclesiastical courts, now called an apparitor.-Tyrwhitt. (1) A pardoner, a seller of pardons or indulgences.
(k) A manciple, an officer who has the care of furnishing victuals for an Inn of court.
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. (a)
He was short shuldered, brode, a thikke gnarre, (6)
Ther n'as no dore, that he n'olde heve of barre,
Or breke it at a renning (c) with his hede.
His berd as any sowe or fox was rede,
And therto brode, as though it were a spade.
Upon the cop (d) right of his nose he hade
A wert, and theron stode a tufte of heres,
Rede as the bristles of a sowès eres.
His nosè-thirlès (e) blacké were and wide.
A swerde and bokeler bare he by his side.
His mouth as wide was as a forneis.
He was a jangler, (f) and a goliardeis, (g)
And that was most of sinne, and harlotries.
Wel coude he stelen corne, and tollen thries.
And yet he had a thomb (h) of gold parde. (i)
A white cote and a blew hode wered he.
A baggèpipe wel coude he blowe and soune,
And therwithall he brought us out of toune.
A gentil Manciple (k) was ther of a temple,
Of which achatours (1) mighten take ensemple
For to ben wise in bying of vitaille.
For whether that he paide, or toke by taille,
Algate he waited so in his achate, (m)
That he was ay before in good estate.
Now is not that of God a ful fayre grace,
That swiche a lewed mannès wit shal pace
The wisdom of an hepe of lered men ?
Of maisters had he mo than thriès ten,
(a) The prize. () A hard knot in a tree. (c) A running. (d) Top (e) Nostrils. (f) Prater. (g) Buffoon. (hi) He was as honest as other millers, though he had, according to the proverb, like every miller, a thumb of gold. (k) Vide note (k) on the preceding page. () Purchasers. (m) Purchase.
That were of lawe expert and curious :
Of which ther was a dosein in that hous,
Worthy to ben stewardes of rent and lond
Of any lord that is in Englelond,
To maken him live by his propre good,
In honour detteles, (a) but if he were wood,
Or live as scarsly, as him list desire;
And able for to helpen all a shire
In any cas that mighte fallen or happe;
And yet this manciple sette hir aller cappe. (b)
The Revè was a slendre colerike man,
His berde was shave as neighe as ever he can.
His here was by his erès round yshorne.
His top was docked like a preest beforne.
Ful longè were his leggès, 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 (c) of his seed, and of his grain.
His lordès shepe, his nete (d) and his deirie,
His swine, his hors, his store, and his pultrie,
Were holly in this revès (e) gouerning,
And by his covenant yave he rekening,
Sin that his lord was twenty yere of age;
Ther coude no man bring him in arerage.
Ther n'as baillif, ne herde, ne other hine,
That he ne knew his sleight and his covine: (f)
They were adradde (g) of him as of the deth.
His wonning was ful fayre upon an heth,
With grenè trees yshadewed was his place.
He coudè better than his lord pourchase.
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.
(a) Free from debt. (c) Returns. (d) Cows. contrivances. (8) Afraid.
(6) Made a fool of them all. (e) Steward. (f) Secret
In youth he lerned hadde a good mistere : (a)
He was a wel good wright, a carpentere.
This revè sate upon a right good stot, (6)
That was all pomelee (c) grey, and hightè 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 had a fire-red cherubinnès (d) face,
For sausèfleme (e) he was, with eyen narwe. (f)
As hote he was, and likerous as a sparwe,
With scalled browės blake, and pilled berd:
Of his visage children were sore aferd.
Ther n'as quiksilver, litarge, ne brimston,
Boras, ceruse, ne oile of tartre non,
Ne ointment that woldè clense or bite,
That him might helpen of his whelkės (8) white,
Ne of the knobbès sitting on his chekes.
Wel loved he garlike, onions, and lekes,
And for to drinke strong win as rede as blood.
Than wolde he speke, and crie as he were wood.
And whan that he wel dronken had the win,
Than wold he speken no word but Latin.
A fewè termès 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 wel 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.
(a) Trade, occupation. (6) Horse, beast. (d) Cherub's
(e) Red pimpled face. close, (g) Spots.