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Wel coude he dresse his takel1 yemanly:
His arwes drouped not with fetheres lowe,
And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.
A not-hed hadde he, with a broune visage,
Of wood-craft coude he wel alle the usage.
Upon his arme he bare a gaie bracer,
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.
There was also a Nonne, a Prioresse, That of hire smiling was ful 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 atte bowe, For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe. At mete was she wel ytaughte withalle; She lette no morsel from hire 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.4 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. And sikerly she was of grete disport, And ful plesant, and amiable of port, And peined hire to contrefeten 5 chere Of court, and ben estatelich of manere, And to ben holden digne of reverence.
But for to speken of hire conscience, She was so charitable and so pitous, She wolde wepè if that she saw a mous Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde. Of smale houndes 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 smert :" And all was conscience and tendre herte.
Ful semely hire wimple 8 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 spanne brode I trowe; For hardily she was not undergrowe.
Full fetise 10 was hire cloke, as I was ware. Of smale corall aboute hire arm she bare A pair of bedes, 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.
A Monk ther was, a fayre 12 for the maistrie, An out-rider, that loved venerie; 13
A manly man, to ben an abbot able.
Ful many a deinte hors hadde he in stable:
And whan 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,14
That saith, that hunters ben not holy men;
Ne that a monk, whan he is rekkeles,15
Is like to a fish that is waterles;
This is to say, a monk out of his cloistre.
This ilke text held he not worth an oistre.
And I say his opinion was good.
What shulde he studie, and make himselven wood,
Upon a book in cloistre alway to pore,
Or swinken with his hondes, and laboure,
As Austin bit? 16 how shal the world be served ?
Let Austin have his swink 17 to him reserved.
Therfore he was a prickasoure 18 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 end 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,19 and rolling in his hed,
That stemed as a forneis of a led.
His botes souple, his hors in gret estat,
Now certainly he was a fayre prelat.
He was not pale as a forpined 20 gost.
A fat swan loved he best of any rost.
His palfrey was as broune as is a bery.
A Frere ther was, a wanton and a mery, A Limitour,21 a ful solempne man. In all the ordres foure is non that can So moche of daliance and fayre langage. He hadde ymade ful many a mariage Of yonge wimmen, at his owen cost. Until his ordre he was a noble post. Ful wel beloved, and familier was he With frankeleins 22 over all in his contree,
* Le. round, like a nut, probably from being cropped. whitt. Neatly, cleverly.
4 Delight, pleasure.
She took great pains to assume.
Long and well proportioned.
12 We should say, a fair one; but in Chaucer's time such tautology was not, I suppose, elegant. So below, ver. 189:
Therfore he was a prickasoure a right.
As to the phrase for the maistrie, I take it to be derived from the French pour la maistrie, which I find, in an old book of Physick, applied to such medicines as we usually call Sovereign, excellent above all others.-Tyr
13 Hunting. 14 I. e., he cared not a straw. 15 Cloisterless. 16 Biddeth. 17 Labor. 18 A hard rider, from prick, to spur on a horse. 19 Sunk deep in his head. 20 Wasted, tormented. 21 I. e., one licensed to beg within a certain district. 22 Wealthy landholders; country gentlemen of good estate.
And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun:
For he had power of confession,
As saide himselfe, 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 signe that a man is wel yshrive.
For if he gave, he dorste make avant,1
He wiste that a man was repentant.
For many a man so hard is of his berte,
He may not wepe although him sore smerte.
Therfore in stede of weping and praieres,
Men mote give silver to the poure freres.
His tippet was ay farsed ful of knives, And pinnes, for to given fayre wives. And certainly he hadde a mery note. Wel coude he singe and plaien on a rote.3 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 tapstere, Better than a lazar or a beggere, For unto swiche a worthy man as he Accordeth nought, as by his faculte, To haven with sike lazars acquaintance. It is not honest, it may not avance, As for to delen with no swiche pouraille,5 But all with riche, and sellers of vitaille.
And over all, ther as profit shuld arise, Curteis he was, and lowly of servise. Ther n'as no man nowher so vertuous. He was the beste begger in all his hous: And gave a certaine ferme 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) 6 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 lovedayes, 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 sterres in a frosty night. This worthy limitour was cleped Huberd.
Souning alway the encrese of his winning.
He wold the see were kept 10 for anything
Betwixen Middelburgh and Orewell.11
Wel coud he in eschanges sheldes 12 selle.
This worthy man ful wel his wit besette;
Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette,
So stedefastly didde he his governance,
With his bargeines, and with his chevisance. 13
Forsothe he was a worthy man withalle,
But soth to sayn, I n'ot how men him calle.
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 loked holwe, and therto soberly. Ful thredbare was his overest courtepy,14 For he hadde geten him yet no benefice, Ne was nought worldly to have an office. For him was lever han 15 at his beedes hed A twenty bokes, clothed in black or red, Of Aristotle, and his philosophie, Than robes riche, or fidel, or sautrie.16 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,1 On bokes and on lerning he it spente, And besily gan for the soules praie Of hem, that yave him wherwith to scolaie.18 Of studie toke he moste cure and hede. Not a word spake he more than was nede; And that was said in forme and reverence, And short and quike, and ful of high sentence. Souning in moral vertue was his speche, And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.
A sergeant of the lawe ware and wise, That often hadde yben at the paruis, Ther was also, ful riche of excellence. Discrete he was, and of gret reverence: He semed swiche, 19 his wordes were so wise, Justice he was ful often in assise, By patent, and by pleine commissioun ; For his science, and for his high renoun, Of fees and robes had he many on.
So grete a pourchasour was nowher non.
All was fee simple to him in effect,
His pourchasing might not ben in suspect.
Nowher so besy a man as he ther n'as,
And yet he semed besier than he was.
In termes hadde he cas and domes 20 alle,
That fro the time of king Will. weren falle.
Therto he coude endite, and make a thing,
Ther coude no wight pinche at his writing.
And every statute coude he plaine by rote.
He rode but homely in a medlee cote,
Girt with a seint of silk, with barres 21 smale;
Of his array tell I no lenger tale.
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,
For he was Epicures owen sone,
That held opinion, that plein delit
Was veraily felicite parfite.
An housholder, and that a grete was he;
Seint Julian 3 he was in his contree,
His brede, his ale, was alway after on;4
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 all 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 stewe.
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 gipciere all of silk, Heng at his girdel, white as morwe 10 milk. A shereve hadde he ben, and a countour.11 Was no wher swiche a worthy vavasour.
An haberdasher, and a carpenter,
A webbe,13 a deyer, and a tapiser,14
Were alle yclothed in o livere,
Of a solempne and grete fraternite.15
Ful freshe and newe hir gere ypiked was.
Hir knives were ychaped not with bras,
But all with silver wrought ful clene and wel,
Hir girdeles and hir pouches every del.16
Wel semed eche of hem a fayre burgeis,
To sitten in a gild halle, on the deis.11
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 19 certainly they were to blame.
It is ful fayre to ben ycleped madame,
And for to gon to vigiles all before,
And have a mantel reallich 20 ybore.
A coke they hadden with hem for the nones,?
To boile the chikenes and the marie bones,
And poudre marchant, tart and galingale,
Wel coude he knowe a draught of London ale.
He coude roste, and sethe, and broile, and frie,
Maken mortrewes, and wel bake a pie.
But gret harm was it, as it thoughte me,
That on his shinne a mormal 2 hadde he.
For blanc manger that made he with the best.
1 Morning. 2 I. e., a great one. * St. Julian was eminent for providing his votaries with good lodgings and accommodation of all sorts. 5 Better stocked with wine. 7 I. e., if it were not.
4 One o'clock. • Pike.
* A kind of knife or dagger, usually worn at the waist. A purse. 10 Morning. 11 Coroner. 12 A kind of middle-class landholder. 13 A weaver.
14 A tapestry-worker.
15 An evident reference to the guilds of the middle ages. The epithet "solempne" probably refers to the initiation into a species of free-masonry, which was bestowed upon the licensed workers in a particular department.
16 Every bit.
18 Each one of them. 20 Royally.
21 The nonce, the occasion.
A shipman was ther, woned fer by West:
For ought I wote, he was of Dertemouth.
He rode upon a rouncie, 23 as he couthe,
All in a goune of falding to the knee.
A dagger hanging by a las hadde hee
About his nekke under his arm adoun.
The hote sommer hadde made his hewe al broun.
And certainly he was a good felaw.
Ful many a draught of win he hadde draw
From Burdeux ward, while that the chapman slepe.
Of nice conscience toke he no kepe.
If that he faught, and hadde the higher hand,
By water he sent hem home to every land.
But of his craft to reken wel his tides,
His stremes and his strandes him besides,
His herberwe, 24 his mone, and his lodemanage, 25
Ther was non swiche, from Hull unto Cartage.
Hardy he was, and wise, I undertake:
With many a tempest hadde his berd be shake.
He knew wel alle the havens, as they were,
Fro Gotland, to the Cape de finistere,
And every creke in Bretagne and in Spaine.
His barge ycleped was the Magdelaine.
With us ther was a doctour of phisike,
In all this world ne was ther non him like
To speke of phisike, and of surgerie:
For he was grounded in astronomie.
He kept his patient a ful gret del
In houres by his magike naturel.
Wel coude he fortunen the ascendent
Of his images for his patient.
He knew the cause of every maladie,
Were it of cold, or hote, or moist, or drie,
And wher engendred, and of what humour,
He was a veray parfite practisour.
The cause yknowe, and of his harm the rote,
Anon he gave to the sike man his bote.26
Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries
To send him dragges, and his lettuaries, 27
For eche of hem made other for to winne:
Hir friendship n'as not newe to beginne.
Wel knew he the old Esculapius,
21 And Dioscorides, and eke Rufus;
Old Hippocras, Hali, 28 and Gallien ;
Serapion, Rasis, and Avicen;
Averrois, Damascene, and Constantin;
Bernard, and Gatisden, and Gilbertin.
Of his diete mesurable was he,
For it was of no superfluitee,
But of gret nourishing, and digestible.
His studie was but litel on the Bible.
In sanguin and in perse 29 he clad was alle
Lined with taffata, and with sendalle.30
And yet he was but esy of dispence:
He kepte that he wan in the pestilence.
For gold in phisike is a cordial;
Therfore he loved gold in special.
A good wif was ther of beside Bathe,
But she was som del1 defe, and that was scathe.
Of cloth making she hadde swiche an haunt,2
She passed hem of Ipres, and of Gaunt.
In all the parish wif ne was ther non,
That to the offring 3 before hire shulde gon,
And if ther did, certain so wroth was she,
That she was out of alle charitee.
Hire coverchiefs weren ful fine of ground;
I dorste swere, they wayeden 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 therof nedeth not to speke as nouthe.5
And thries hadde she ben at Jerusaleme.
She hadde passed many a strange streme.
At Rome she hadde ben, and at Boloine,
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 fote-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 parchance,
For of that arte she coude the olde dance.
A good man ther was of religioun,
That was a poure persone of a toun:
But riche he was of holy thought and werk.
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche.
His parishens devoutly wolde he teche.
Benigne he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversite ful patient:
And swiche he was ypreved often sithes.
Ful loth were him to cursen for his tithes,
But rather wolde he yeven out of doute,
Unto his poure parishens aboute,
Of his offring, and eke of his substance.
He coude in litel thing have suffisance.
Wide was his parish, and houses fer asonder,
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,8
Upon his fete, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensample to his shepe he yaf,
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
Out of the gospel he the wordes caught,
And this figure he added yet therto,
That if gold ruste, what shuld iren 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 clenenesse, how his shepe shulde live.
He sette not his benefice to hire,
And lette his shepe acombred in the mire,
1 A little.
3 The offertory at mass.
7 Parson, rector.
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 kepte wel his fold,
So that the wolf ne made it not miscarie.
He was a shepherd, and no mercenarie.
And though he holy were, and vertuous,
He was to sinful men not dispitous,
Ne of his speche dangerous ne digne,'
But in his teching discrete and benigne.
To drawen folk to heven, with fairenesse,
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 sharply for the nones.10
A better preest I trowe that nowher non is.
He waited after no pompe ne reverence,
Ne maked him no spiced conscience,"
But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught, but first he folwed it himselve.
2 Practice, custom.
• High and low.
With him ther was a plowman, was his brother,
That hadde ylaid of dong ful many a fother.
A trewe swinker," and a good was he,
Living in pees, and parfite charitee.
God loved he beste with alle his herte
At alle times, were it gain or smerte,
And than his neighebour right as himselve.
He wolde thresh, and therto dike, and delve,
For Cristes sake, for every poure wight,
Withouten hire, if it lay in his might.
His tithes 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, 13 and a millere,
A sompnour, 14 and a pardoner also,
A manciple, 15 and myself, ther n'ere no mo.
The miller was a stout carle 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 17 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, 18 and a goliardeis, 19
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 baggepipe wel coude he blowe and soune,
And therwithall he brought us out of toune.
A gentil manciple was ther of a temple, Of which achatours 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, That he was ay before in good estate. Now is not that of God a ful fayre grace, That swiche a lewed mannes wit shal pace The wisdom of an hepe of lered men?
Of maisters had he mo than thries ten, 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, 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.
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 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: 5
They were adradde of him, as of the deth.
His wonning was ful fayre upon an heth,
With grene 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 youthe he lerned hadde a good mistere.
He was a wel good wright, a carpentere.
This 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, For sausefleme he was, with eyen narwe. As hote he was, and likerous as a sparwe, With scalled browes 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, No oinement 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 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 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 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,1 wolde he crie.
He was a gentil harlot and a kind;
A better felaw shulde a man not find.
He wolde suffre for a quart of wine,
A good felaw to have his concubine
A twelve month, and excuse him at the full.
Ful prively a finch eke coude he pull.11
And if he found owhere 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 archedekens helle, said he.
But wel I wote, he lied right in dede:
Of cursing ought eche gilty man him drede.
For curse wol sle 12 right as assoiling 13 saveth,
And also ware him of a significavit.14
In danger 15 hadde he at his owen gise
The yonge girles 16 of the diocise,
And knew hir conseil, and was of hir rede.
A gerlond hadde he sette upon his hede,
As gret as it were for an alestake: 17
A bokeler hadde he made him of a cake.