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The Canterbury Tales and Other Poems
by Geoffrey Chaucer
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"Now, Thomas, leve* brother, leave thine ire, *dear Thou shalt me find as just as is as squire; Hold not the devil's knife aye at thine heaat; Thine anger doth thee all too sore smart;* *pain But shew to me all thy confession." "Nay," quoth the sicke man, "by Saint Simon I have been shriven* this day of my curate; *confessed I have him told all wholly mine estate. Needeth no more to speak of it, saith he, But if me list of mine humility." "Give me then of thy good to make our cloister," Quoth he, "for many a mussel and many an oyster, When other men have been full well at ease, Hath been our food, our cloister for to rese:* *raise, build And yet, God wot, unneth* the foundement** *scarcely **foundation Performed is, nor of our pavement Is not a tile yet within our wones:* *habitation By God, we owe forty pound for stones. Now help, Thomas, for *him that harrow'd hell,* *Christ For elles must we oure bookes sell, And if ye lack our predication, Then goes this world all to destruction. For whoso from this world would us bereave, So God me save, Thomas, by your leave, He would bereave out of this world the sun For who can teach and worken as we conne?* *know how to do And that is not of little time (quoth he), But since Elijah was, and Elisee,* *Elisha Have friars been, that find I of record, In charity, y-thanked be our Lord. Now, Thomas, help for sainte charity." And down anon he set him on his knee, The sick man waxed well-nigh wood* for ire, *mad He woulde that the friar had been a-fire With his false dissimulation. "Such thing as is in my possession," Quoth he, "that may I give you and none other: Ye say me thus, how that I am your brother." "Yea, certes," quoth this friar, "yea, truste well; I took our Dame the letter of our seal" "Now well," quoth he, "and somewhat shall I give Unto your holy convent while I live; And in thine hand thou shalt it have anon, On this condition, and other none, That thou depart* it so, my deare brother, *divide That every friar have as much as other: This shalt thou swear on thy profession, Withoute fraud or cavillation."* *quibbling "I swear it," quoth the friar, "upon my faith." And therewithal his hand in his he lay'th; "Lo here my faith, in me shall be no lack." "Then put thine hand adown right by my back," Saide this man, "and grope well behind, Beneath my buttock, there thou shalt find A thing, that I have hid in privity." "Ah," thought this friar, "that shall go with me." And down his hand he launched to the clift,* *cleft In hope for to finde there a gift. And when this sicke man felte this frere About his taile groping there and here, Amid his hand he let the friar a fart; There is no capel* drawing in a cart, *horse That might have let a fart of such a soun'. The friar up start, as doth a wood* lioun: *fierce "Ah, false churl," quoth he, "for Godde's bones, This hast thou in despite done for the nones:* *on purpose Thou shalt abie* this fart, if that I may." *suffer for His meinie,* which that heard of this affray, *servants Came leaping in, and chased out the frere, And forth he went with a full angry cheer* *countenance And fetch'd his fellow, there as lay his store: He looked as it were a wilde boar, And grounde with his teeth, so was he wroth. A sturdy pace down to the court he go'th, Where as there wonn'd* a man of great honour, *dwelt To whom that he was always confessour: This worthy man was lord of that village. This friar came, as he were in a rage, Where as this lord sat eating at his board: Unnethes* might the friar speak one word, *with difficulty Till at the last he saide, "God you see."* *save

This lord gan look, and said, "Ben'dicite! What? Friar John, what manner world is this? I see well that there something is amiss; Ye look as though the wood were full of thieves. Sit down anon, and tell me what your grieve* is, *grievance, grief And it shall be amended, if I may." "I have," quoth he, "had a despite to-day, God *yielde you,* adown in your village, *reward you That in this world is none so poor a page, That would not have abominatioun Of that I have received in your town: And yet ne grieveth me nothing so sore, As that the olde churl, with lockes hoar, Blasphemed hath our holy convent eke." "Now, master," quoth this lord, "I you beseek" — "No master, Sir," quoth he, "but servitour, Though I have had in schoole that honour. God liketh not, that men us Rabbi call Neither in market, nor in your large hall." *"No force,"* quoth he; "but tell me all your grief." *no matter* Sir," quoth this friar, "an odious mischief This day betid* is to mine order and me, *befallen And so par consequence to each degree Of holy churche, God amend it soon." "Sir," quoth the lord, "ye know what is to doon:* *do *Distemp'r you not,* ye be my confessour. *be not impatient* Ye be the salt of th' earth, and the savour; For Godde's love your patience now hold; Tell me your grief." And he anon him told As ye have heard before, ye know well what. The lady of the house aye stiller sat, Till she had hearde what the friar said, "Hey, Godde's mother;" quoth she, "blissful maid, Is there ought elles? tell me faithfully." "Madame," quoth he, "how thinketh you thereby?" "How thinketh me?" quoth she; "so God me speed, I say, a churl hath done a churlish deed, What should I say? God let him never the;* *thrive His sicke head is full of vanity; I hold him in *a manner phrenesy."* *a sort of frenzy* "Madame," quoth he, "by God, I shall not lie, But I in other wise may be awreke,* *revenged I shall defame him *ov'r all there* I speak; *wherever This false blasphemour, that charged me To parte that will not departed be, To every man alike, with mischance."

The lord sat still, as he were in a trance, And in his heart he rolled up and down, "How had this churl imaginatioun To shewe such a problem to the frere. Never ere now heard I of such mattere; I trow* the Devil put it in his mind. *believe In all arsmetrik* shall there no man find, *arithmetic Before this day, of such a question. Who shoulde make a demonstration, That every man should have alike his part As of the sound and savour of a fart? O nice* proude churl, I shrew** his face. *foolish **curse Lo, Sires," quoth the lord, "with harde grace, Who ever heard of such a thing ere now? To every man alike? tell me how. It is impossible, it may not be. Hey nice* churl, God let him never the.** *foolish **thrive The rumbling of a fart, and every soun', Is but of air reverberatioun, And ever wasteth lite* and lite* away; *little There is no man can deemen,* by my fay, *judge, decide If that it were departed* equally. *divided What? lo, my churl, lo yet how shrewedly* *impiously, wickedly Unto my confessour to-day he spake; I hold him certain a demoniac. Now eat your meat, and let the churl go play, Let him go hang himself a devil way!"

Now stood the lorde's squier at the board, That carv'd his meat, and hearde word by word Of all this thing, which that I have you said. "My lord," quoth he, "be ye not *evil paid,* *displeased* I coulde telle, for a gowne-cloth,* *cloth for a gown* To you, Sir Friar, so that ye be not wrot, How that this fart should even* dealed be *equally Among your convent, if it liked thee." "Tell," quoth the lord, "and thou shalt have anon A gowne-cloth, by God and by Saint John." "My lord," quoth he, "when that the weather is fair, Withoute wind, or perturbing of air, Let* bring a cart-wheel here into this hall, cause* But looke that it have its spokes all; Twelve spokes hath a cart-wheel commonly; And bring me then twelve friars, know ye why? For thirteen is a convent as I guess; Your confessor here, for his worthiness, Shall *perform up* the number of his convent. *complete* Then shall they kneel adown by one assent, And to each spoke's end, in this mannere, Full sadly* lay his nose shall a frere; *carefully, steadily Your noble confessor there, God him save, Shall hold his nose upright under the nave. Then shall this churl, with belly stiff and tought* *tight As any tabour,* hither be y-brought; *drum And set him on the wheel right of this cart Upon the nave, and make him let a fart, And ye shall see, on peril of my life, By very proof that is demonstrative, That equally the sound of it will wend,* *go And eke the stink, unto the spokes' end, Save that this worthy man, your confessour' (Because he is a man of great honour), Shall have the firste fruit, as reason is; The noble usage of friars yet it is, The worthy men of them shall first be served, And certainly he hath it well deserved; He hath to-day taught us so muche good With preaching in the pulpit where he stood, That I may vouchesafe, I say for me, He had the firste smell of fartes three; And so would all his brethren hardily; He beareth him so fair and holily."

The lord, the lady, and each man, save the frere, Saide, that Jankin spake in this mattere As well as Euclid, or as Ptolemy. Touching the churl, they said that subtilty And high wit made him speaken as he spake; He is no fool, nor no demoniac. And Jankin hath y-won a newe gown; My tale is done, we are almost at town.

Notes to the Sompnour's Tale

1. Trentals: The money given to the priests for performing thirty masses for the dead, either in succession or on the anniversaries of their death; also the masses themselves, which were very profitable to the clergy.

2. Possessioners: The regular religious orders, who had lands and fixed revenues; while the friars, by their vows, had to depend on voluntary contributions, though their need suggested many modes of evading the prescription.

3. In Chaucer's day the most material notions about the tortures of hell prevailed, and were made the most of by the clergy, who preyed on the affection and fear of the survivors, through the ingenious doctrine of purgatory. Old paintings and illuminations represent the dead as torn by hooks, roasted in fires, boiled in pots, and subjected to many other physical torments.

4. Qui cum patre: "Who with the father"; the closing words of the final benediction pronounced at Mass.

5. Askaunce: The word now means sideways or asquint; here it means "as if;" and its force is probably to suggest that the second friar, with an ostentatious stealthiness, noted down the names of the liberal, to make them believe that they would be remembered in the holy beggars' orisons.

6. A Godde's kichel/halfpenny: a little cake/halfpenny, given for God's sake.

7. Harlot: hired servant; from Anglo-Saxon, "hyran," to hire; the word was commonly applied to males.

8. Potent: staff; French, "potence," crutch, gibbet.

9. Je vous dis sans doute: French; "I tell you without doubt."

10. Dortour: dormitory; French, "dortoir."

12. The Rules of St Benedict granted peculiar honours and immunities to monks who had lived fifty years — the jubilee period — in the order. The usual reading of the words ending the two lines is "loan" or "lone," and "alone;" but to walk alone does not seem to have been any peculiar privilege of a friar, while the idea of precedence, or higher place at table and in processions, is suggested by the reading in the text.

13. Borel folk: laymen, people who are not learned; "borel" was a kind of coarse cloth.

14. Eli: Elijah (1 Kings, xix.)

15. An emperor Jovinian was famous in the mediaeval legends for his pride and luxury

16. Cor meum eructavit: literally, "My heart has belched forth;" in our translation, (i.e. the Authorised "King James" Version - Transcriber) "My heart is inditing a goodly matter." (Ps. xlv. 1.). "Buf" is meant to represent the sound of an eructation, and to show the "great reverence" with which "those in possession," the monks of the rich monasteries, performed divine service,

17. N'ere thou our brother, shouldest thou not thrive: if thou wert not of our brotherhood, thou shouldst have no hope of recovery.

18. Thomas' life of Ind: The life of Thomas of India - i.e. St. Thomas the Apostle, who was said to have travelled to India.

19. Potestate: chief magistrate or judge; Latin, "potestas;" Italian, "podesta." Seneca relates the story of Cornelius Piso; "De Ira," i. 16.

20. Placebo: An anthem of the Roman Church, from Psalm cxvi. 9, which in the Vulgate reads, "Placebo Domino in regione vivorum" — "I will please the Lord in the land of the living"

21. The Gysen: Seneca calls it the Gyndes; Sir John Mandeville tells the story of the Euphrates. "Gihon," was the name of one of the four rivers of Eden (Gen. ii, 13).

22. Him that harrowed Hell: Christ. See note 14 to the Reeve's Tale.

23. Mr. Wright says that "it was a common practice to grant under the conventual seal to benefactors and others a brotherly participation in the spiritual good works of the convent, and in their expected reward after death."

24. The friar had received a master's degree.

25. The regular number of monks or friars in a convent was fixed at twelve, with a superior, in imitation of the apostles and their Master; and large religious houses were held to consist of so many convents.



THE CLERK'S TALE.

THE PROLOGUE.

"SIR Clerk of Oxenford," our Hoste said, "Ye ride as still and coy, as doth a maid That were new spoused, sitting at the board: This day I heard not of your tongue a word. I trow ye study about some sophime:* *sophism But Solomon saith, every thing hath time. For Godde's sake, be of *better cheer,* *livelier mien* It is no time for to study here. Tell us some merry tale, by your fay;* *faith For what man that is entered in a play, He needes must unto that play assent. But preache not, as friars do in Lent, To make us for our olde sinnes weep, Nor that thy tale make us not to sleep. Tell us some merry thing of aventures. Your terms, your coloures, and your figures, Keep them in store, till so be ye indite High style, as when that men to kinges write. Speake so plain at this time, I you pray, That we may understande what ye say."

This worthy Clerk benignely answer'd; "Hoste," quoth he, "I am under your yerd,* *rod Ye have of us as now the governance, And therefore would I do you obeisance, As far as reason asketh, hardily:* *boldly, truly I will you tell a tale, which that I Learn'd at Padova of a worthy clerk, As proved by his wordes and his werk. He is now dead, and nailed in his chest, I pray to God to give his soul good rest. Francis Petrarc', the laureate poet, Highte* this clerk, whose rhetoric so sweet *was called Illumin'd all Itale of poetry, As Linian did of philosophy, Or law, or other art particulere: But death, that will not suffer us dwell here But as it were a twinkling of an eye, Them both hath slain, and alle we shall die.

"But forth to tellen of this worthy man, That taughte me this tale, as I began, I say that first he with high style inditeth (Ere he the body of his tale writeth) A proem, in the which describeth he Piedmont, and of Saluces the country, And speaketh of the Pennine hilles high, That be the bounds of all West Lombardy: And of Mount Vesulus in special, Where as the Po out of a welle small Taketh his firste springing and his source, That eastward aye increaseth in his course T'Emilia-ward, to Ferraro, and Venice, The which a long thing were to devise.* *narrate And truely, as to my judgement, Me thinketh it a thing impertinent,* *irrelevant Save that he would conveye his mattere: But this is the tale, which that ye shall hear."

Notes to the Prologue to the Clerk's Tale

1. Under your yerd: under your rod; as the emblem of government or direction.

2. Francesco Petrarca, born 1304, died 1374; for his Latin epic poem on the carer of Scipio, called "Africa," he was solemnly crowned with the poetic laurel in the Capitol of Rome, on Easter-day of 1341.

3. Linian: An eminent jurist and philosopher, now almost forgotten, who died four or five years after Petrarch.

4. Saluces: Saluzzo, a district of Savoy; its marquises were celebrated during the Middle Ages.

5. Emilia: The region called Aemilia, across which ran the Via Aemilia — made by M. Aemilius Lepidus, who was consul at Rome B.C. 187. It continued the Flaminian Way from Ariminum (Rimini) across the Po at Placentia (Piacenza) to Mediolanum (Milan), traversing Cisalpine Gaul.

THE TALE.

*Pars Prima.* *First Part*

There is, right at the west side of Itale, Down at the root of Vesulus the cold, A lusty* plain, abundant of vitaille;* *pleasant **victuals There many a town and tow'r thou may'st behold, That founded were in time of fathers old, And many another delectable sight; And Saluces this noble country hight.

A marquis whilom lord was of that land, As were his worthy elders* him before, *ancestors And obedient, aye ready to his hand, Were all his lieges, bothe less and more: Thus in delight he liv'd, and had done yore,* *long Belov'd and drad,* through favour of fortune, *held in reverence Both of his lordes and of his commune.* *commonalty

Therewith he was, to speak of lineage, The gentilest y-born of Lombardy, A fair person, and strong, and young of age, And full of honour and of courtesy: Discreet enough his country for to gie,* *guide, rule Saving in some things that he was to blame; And Walter was this younge lordes name.

I blame him thus, that he consider'd not In time coming what might him betide, But on his present lust* was all his thought, *pleasure And for to hawk and hunt on every side; Well nigh all other cares let he slide, And eke he would (that was the worst of all) Wedde no wife for aught that might befall.

Only that point his people bare so sore, That flockmel* on a day to him they went, *in a body And one of them, that wisest was of lore (Or elles that the lord would best assent That he should tell him what the people meant, Or elles could he well shew such mattere), He to the marquis said as ye shall hear.

"O noble Marquis! your humanity Assureth us and gives us hardiness, As oft as time is of necessity, That we to you may tell our heaviness: Accepte, Lord, now of your gentleness, What we with piteous heart unto you plain,* *complain of And let your ears my voice not disdain.

"All* have I nought to do in this mattere *although More than another man hath in this place, Yet forasmuch as ye, my Lord so dear, Have always shewed me favour and grace, I dare the better ask of you a space Of audience, to shewen our request, And ye, my Lord, to do right *as you lest.* *as pleaseth you*

"For certes, Lord, so well us like you And all your work, and ev'r have done, that we Ne coulde not ourselves devise how We mighte live in more felicity: Save one thing, Lord, if that your will it be, That for to be a wedded man you lest; Then were your people *in sovereign hearte's rest.* *completely

"Bowe your neck under the blissful yoke Of sovereignty, and not of service, Which that men call espousal or wedlock: And thinke, Lord, among your thoughtes wise, How that our dayes pass in sundry wise; For though we sleep, or wake, or roam, or ride, Aye fleeth time, it will no man abide.

"And though your greene youthe flow'r as yet, In creepeth age always as still as stone, And death menaceth every age, and smit* *smiteth In each estate, for there escapeth none: And all so certain as we know each one That we shall die, as uncertain we all Be of that day when death shall on us fall.

"Accepte then of us the true intent,* *mind, desire That never yet refused youre hest,* *command And we will, Lord, if that ye will assent, Choose you a wife, in short time at the lest,* *least Born of the gentilest and of the best Of all this land, so that it ought to seem Honour to God and you, as we can deem.

"Deliver us out of all this busy dread,* *doubt And take a wife, for highe Godde's sake: For if it so befell, as God forbid, That through your death your lineage should slake,* *become extinct And that a strange successor shoulde take Your heritage, oh! woe were us on live:* *alive Wherefore we pray you hastily to wive."

Their meeke prayer and their piteous cheer Made the marquis for to have pity. "Ye will," quoth he, "mine owen people dear, To that I ne'er ere* thought constraine me. *before I me rejoiced of my liberty, That seldom time is found in rnarriage; Where I was free, I must be in servage!* *servitude

"But natheless I see your true intent, And trust upon your wit, and have done aye: Wherefore of my free will I will assent To wedde me, as soon as e'er I may. But whereas ye have proffer'd me to-day To choose me a wife, I you release That choice, and pray you of that proffer cease.

"For God it wot, that children often been Unlike their worthy elders them before, Bounte* comes all of God, not of the strene** *goodness Of which they be engender'd and y-bore: **stock, race I trust in Godde's bounte, and therefore My marriage, and mine estate and rest, I *him betake;* he may do as him lest. *commend to him

"Let me alone in choosing of my wife; That charge upon my back I will endure: But I you pray, and charge upon your life, That what wife that I take, ye me assure To worship* her, while that her life may dure, *honour In word and work both here and elleswhere, As she an emperore's daughter were.

"And farthermore this shall ye swear, that ye Against my choice shall never grudge* nor strive. *murmur For since I shall forego my liberty At your request, as ever may I thrive, Where as mine heart is set, there will I live And but* ye will assent in such mannere, *unless I pray you speak no more of this mattere."

With heartly will they sworen and assent To all this thing, there said not one wight nay: Beseeching him of grace, ere that they went, That he would grante them a certain day Of his espousal, soon as e'er he rnay, For yet always the people somewhat dread* *were in fear or doubt Lest that the marquis woulde no wife wed.

He granted them a day, such as him lest, On which he would be wedded sickerly,* *certainly And said he did all this at their request; And they with humble heart full buxomly,* *obediently Kneeling upon their knees full reverently, Him thanked all; and thus they have an end Of their intent, and home again they wend.

And hereupon he to his officers Commanded for the feaste to purvey.* *provide And to his privy knightes and squiers Such charge he gave, as him list on them lay: And they to his commandement obey, And each of them doth all his diligence To do unto the feast all reverence.

*Pars Secunda* *Second Part*

Not far from thilke* palace honourable, *that Where as this marquis shope* his marriage, *prepared; resolved on There stood a thorp,* of sighte delectable, *hamlet In which the poore folk of that village Hadde their beastes and their harbourage,* *dwelling And of their labour took their sustenance, After the earthe gave them abundance.

Among this poore folk there dwelt a man Which that was holden poorest of them all; But highe God sometimes sende can His grace unto a little ox's stall; Janicola men of that thorp him call. A daughter had he, fair enough to sight, And Griseldis this younge maiden hight.

But for to speak of virtuous beauty, Then was she one the fairest under sun: Full poorely y-foster'd up was she; No *likerous lust* was in her heart y-run; *luxurious pleasure* Well ofter of the well than of the tun She drank, and, for* she woulde virtue please *because She knew well labour, but no idle ease.

But though this maiden tender were of age; Yet in the breast of her virginity There was inclos'd a *sad and ripe corage;* *steadfast and mature And in great reverence and charity spirit* Her olde poore father foster'd she. A few sheep, spinning, on the field she kept, She woulde not be idle till she slept.

And when she homeward came, she would bring Wortes,* and other herbes, times oft, *plants, cabbages The which she shred and seeth'd for her living, And made her bed full hard, and nothing soft: And aye she kept her father's life on loft* *up, aloft With ev'ry obeisance and diligence, That child may do to father's reverence.

Upon Griselda, this poor creature, Full often sithes* this marquis set his eye, *times As he on hunting rode, paraventure:* *by chance And when it fell that he might her espy, He not with wanton looking of folly His eyen cast on her, but in sad* wise *serious Upon her cheer* he would him oft advise;** *countenance **consider

Commending in his heart her womanhead, And eke her virtue, passing any wight Of so young age, as well in cheer as deed. For though the people have no great insight In virtue, he considered full right Her bounte,* and disposed that he would *goodness Wed only her, if ever wed he should.

The day of wedding came, but no wight can Telle what woman that it shoulde be; For which marvail wonder'd many a man, And saide, when they were in privity, "Will not our lord yet leave his vanity? Will he not wed? Alas, alas the while! Why will he thus himself and us beguile?"

But natheless this marquis had *done make* *caused to be made* Of gemmes, set in gold and in azure, Brooches and ringes, for Griselda's sake, And of her clothing took he the measure Of a maiden like unto her stature, And eke of other ornamentes all That unto such a wedding shoulde fall.* *befit

The time of undern* of the same day *evening Approached, that this wedding shoulde be, And all the palace put was in array, Both hall and chamber, each in its degree, Houses of office stuffed with plenty There may'st thou see of dainteous vitaille,* *victuals, provisions That may be found, as far as lasts Itale.

This royal marquis, richely array'd, Lordes and ladies in his company, The which unto the feaste were pray'd, And of his retinue the bach'lery, With many a sound of sundry melody, Unto the village, of the which I told, In this array the right way did they hold.

Griseld' of this (God wot) full innocent, That for her shapen* was all this array, *prepared To fetche water at a well is went, And home she came as soon as e'er she may. For well she had heard say, that on that day The marquis shoulde wed, and, if she might, She fain would have seen somewhat of that sight.

She thought, "I will with other maidens stand, That be my fellows, in our door, and see The marchioness; and therefore will I fand* *strive To do at home, as soon as it may be, The labour which belongeth unto me, And then I may at leisure her behold, If she this way unto the castle hold."

And as she would over the threshold gon, The marquis came and gan for her to call, And she set down her water-pot anon Beside the threshold, in an ox's stall, And down upon her knees she gan to fall, And with sad* countenance kneeled still, *steady Till she had heard what was the lorde's will.

The thoughtful marquis spake unto the maid Full soberly, and said in this mannere: "Where is your father, Griseldis?" he said. And she with reverence, *in humble cheer,* *with humble air* Answered, "Lord, he is all ready here." And in she went withoute longer let* *delay And to the marquis she her father fet.* *fetched

He by the hand then took the poore man, And saide thus, when he him had aside: "Janicola, I neither may nor can Longer the pleasance of mine hearte hide; If that thou vouchesafe, whatso betide, Thy daughter will I take, ere that I wend,* *go As for my wife, unto her life's end.

"Thou lovest me, that know I well certain, And art my faithful liegeman y-bore,* *born And all that liketh me, I dare well sayn It liketh thee; and specially therefore Tell me that point, that I have said before, — If that thou wilt unto this purpose draw, To take me as for thy son-in-law."

This sudden case* the man astonied so, *event That red he wax'd, abash'd,* and all quaking *amazed He stood; unnethes* said he wordes mo', *scarcely But only thus; "Lord," quoth he, "my willing Is as ye will, nor against your liking I will no thing, mine owen lord so dear; Right as you list governe this mattere."

"Then will I," quoth the marquis softely, "That in thy chamber I, and thou, and she, Have a collation;* and know'st thou why? *conference For I will ask her, if her will it be To be my wife, and rule her after me: And all this shall be done in thy presence, I will not speak out of thine audience."* *hearing

And in the chamber while they were about The treaty, which ye shall hereafter hear, The people came into the house without, And wonder'd them in how honest mannere And tenderly she kept her father dear; But utterly Griseldis wonder might, For never erst* ne saw she such a sight. *before

No wonder is though that she be astoned,* *astonished To see so great a guest come in that place, She never was to no such guestes woned;* *accustomed, wont For which she looked with full pale face. But shortly forth this matter for to chase,* *push on, pursue These are the wordes that the marquis said To this benigne, very,* faithful maid. *true

"Griseld'," he said, "ye shall well understand, It liketh to your father and to me That I you wed, and eke it may so stand, As I suppose ye will that it so be: But these demandes ask I first," quoth he, "Since that it shall be done in hasty wise; Will ye assent, or elles you advise?* *consider

"I say this, be ye ready with good heart To all my lust,* and that I freely may, *pleasure As me best thinketh, *do you* laugh or smart, *cause you to* And never ye to grudge,* night nor day, *murmur And eke when I say Yea, ye say not Nay, Neither by word, nor frowning countenance? Swear this, and here I swear our alliance."

Wond'ring upon this word, quaking for dread, She saide; "Lord, indigne and unworthy Am I to this honour that ye me bede,* *offer But as ye will yourself, right so will I: And here I swear, that never willingly In word or thought I will you disobey, For to be dead; though me were loth to dey."* *die

"This is enough, Griselda mine," quoth he. And forth he went with a full sober cheer, Out at the door, and after then came she, And to the people he said in this mannere: "This is my wife," quoth he, "that standeth here. Honoure her, and love her, I you pray, Whoso me loves; there is no more to say."

And, for that nothing of her olde gear She shoulde bring into his house, he bade That women should despoile* her right there; *strip Of which these ladies were nothing glad To handle her clothes wherein she was clad: But natheless this maiden bright of hue From foot to head they clothed have all new.

Her haires have they comb'd that lay untress'd* *loose Full rudely, and with their fingers small A crown upon her head they have dress'd, And set her full of nouches great and small: Of her array why should I make a tale? Unneth* the people her knew for her fairness, *scarcely When she transmuted was in such richess.

The marquis hath her spoused with a ring Brought for the same cause, and then her set Upon a horse snow-white, and well ambling, And to his palace, ere he longer let* *delayed With joyful people, that her led and met, Conveyed her; and thus the day they spend In revel, till the sunne gan descend.

And, shortly forth this tale for to chase, I say, that to this newe marchioness God hath such favour sent her of his grace, That it ne seemed not by likeliness That she was born and fed in rudeness, — As in a cot, or in an ox's stall, — But nourish'd in an emperore's hall.

To every wight she waxen* is so dear *grown And worshipful, that folk where she was born, That from her birthe knew her year by year, *Unnethes trowed* they, but durst have sworn, *scarcely believed* That to Janicol' of whom I spake before, She was not daughter, for by conjecture Them thought she was another creature.

For though that ever virtuous was she, She was increased in such excellence Of thewes* good, y-set in high bounte, *qualities And so discreet, and fair of eloquence, So benign, and so digne* of reverence, *worthy And coulde so the people's heart embrace, That each her lov'd that looked on her face.

Not only of Saluces in the town Published was the bounte of her name, But eke besides in many a regioun; If one said well, another said the same: So spread of here high bounte the fame, That men and women, young as well as old, Went to Saluces, her for to behold.

Thus Walter lowly, — nay, but royally,- Wedded with fortn'ate honestete,* *virtue In Godde's peace lived full easily At home, and outward grace enough had he: And, for he saw that under low degree Was honest virtue hid, the people him held A prudent man, and that is seen full seld'.* *seldom

Not only this Griseldis through her wit *Couth all the feat* of wifely homeliness, *knew all the duties* But eke, when that the case required it, The common profit coulde she redress: There n'as discord, rancour, nor heaviness In all the land, that she could not appease, And wisely bring them all in rest and ease

Though that her husband absent were or non,* *not If gentlemen or other of that country, Were wroth,* she woulde bringe them at one, *at feud So wise and ripe wordes hadde she, And judgement of so great equity, That she from heaven sent was, as men wend,* *weened, imagined People to save, and every wrong t'amend

Not longe time after that this Griseld' Was wedded, she a daughter had y-bore; All she had lever* borne a knave** child, *rather **boy Glad was the marquis and his folk therefore; For, though a maiden child came all before, She may unto a knave child attain By likelihood, since she is not barren.

*Pars Tertia.* *Third Part*

There fell, as falleth many times mo', When that his child had sucked but a throw,* little while This marquis in his hearte longed so To tempt his wife, her sadness* for to know, *steadfastness That he might not out of his hearte throw This marvellous desire his wife t'asssay;* *try Needless,* God wot, he thought her to affray.** *without cause **alarm, disturb He had assayed her anough before, And found her ever good; what needed it Her for to tempt, and always more and more? Though some men praise it for a subtle wit, But as for me, I say that *evil it sit* *it ill became him* T'assay a wife when that it is no need, And putte her in anguish and in dread.

For which this marquis wrought in this mannere: He came at night alone there as she lay, With sterne face and with full troubled cheer, And saide thus; "Griseld'," quoth he "that day That I you took out of your poor array, And put you in estate of high nobless, Ye have it not forgotten, as I guess.

"I say, Griseld', this present dignity, In which that I have put you, as I trow* *believe Maketh you not forgetful for to be That I you took in poor estate full low, For any weal you must yourselfe know. Take heed of every word that I you say, There is no wight that hears it but we tway.* *two

"Ye know yourself well how that ye came here Into this house, it is not long ago; And though to me ye be right lefe* and dear, *loved Unto my gentles* ye be nothing so: *nobles, gentlefolk They say, to them it is great shame and woe For to be subject, and be in servage, To thee, that born art of small lineage.

"And namely* since thy daughter was y-bore *especially These wordes have they spoken doubteless; But I desire, as I have done before, To live my life with them in rest and peace: I may not in this case be reckeless; I must do with thy daughter for the best, Not as I would, but as my gentles lest.* *please

"And yet, God wot, this is full loth* to me: *odious But natheless withoute your weeting* *knowing I will nought do; but this will I," quoth he, "That ye to me assenten in this thing. Shew now your patience in your working, That ye me hight* and swore in your village *promised The day that maked was our marriage."

When she had heard all this, she not amev'd* *changed Neither in word, in cheer, nor countenance (For, as it seemed, she was not aggriev'd); She saide; "Lord, all lies in your pleasance, My child and I, with hearty obeisance Be youres all, and ye may save or spill* *destroy Your owen thing: work then after your will.

"There may no thing, so God my soule save, *Like to* you, that may displease me: *be pleasing* Nor I desire nothing for to have, Nor dreade for to lose, save only ye: This will is in mine heart, and aye shall be, No length of time, nor death, may this deface, Nor change my corage* to another place." *spirit, heart

Glad was the marquis for her answering, But yet he feigned as he were not so; All dreary was his cheer and his looking When that he should out of the chamber go. Soon after this, a furlong way or two, He privily hath told all his intent Unto a man, and to his wife him sent.

A *manner sergeant* was this private* man, *kind of squire* The which he faithful often founden had *discreet In thinges great, and eke such folk well can Do execution in thinges bad: The lord knew well, that he him loved and drad.* *dreaded And when this sergeant knew his lorde's will, Into the chamber stalked he full still.

"Madam," he said, "ye must forgive it me, Though I do thing to which I am constrain'd; Ye be so wise, that right well knowe ye *That lordes' hestes may not be y-feign'd;* *see note * They may well be bewailed and complain'd, But men must needs unto their lust* obey; *pleasure And so will I, there is no more to say.

"This child I am commanded for to take." And spake no more, but out the child he hent* *seized Dispiteously,* and gan a cheer** to make *unpityingly **show, aspect As though he would have slain it ere he went. Griseldis must all suffer and consent: And as a lamb she sat there meek and still, And let this cruel sergeant do his will

Suspicious* was the diffame** of this man, *ominous **evil reputation Suspect his face, suspect his word also, Suspect the time in which he this began: Alas! her daughter, that she loved so, She weened* he would have it slain right tho,** *thought **then But natheless she neither wept nor siked,* *sighed Conforming her to what the marquis liked.

But at the last to speake she began, And meekly she unto the sergeant pray'd, So as he was a worthy gentle man, That she might kiss her child, ere that it died: And in her barme* this little child she laid, *lap, bosom With full sad face, and gan the child to bless,* *cross And lulled it, and after gan it kiss.

And thus she said in her benigne voice: Farewell, my child, I shall thee never see; But since I have thee marked with the cross, Of that father y-blessed may'st thou be That for us died upon a cross of tree: Thy soul, my little child, I *him betake,* *commit unto him* For this night shalt thou dien for my sake.

I trow* that to a norice** in this case *believe **nurse It had been hard this ruthe* for to see: *pitiful sight Well might a mother then have cried, "Alas!" But natheless so sad steadfast was she, That she endured all adversity, And to the sergeant meekely she said, "Have here again your little younge maid.

"Go now," quoth she, "and do my lord's behest. And one thing would I pray you of your grace, *But if* my lord forbade you at the least, *unless* Bury this little body in some place, That neither beasts nor birdes it arace."* *tear But he no word would to that purpose say, But took the child and went upon his way.

The sergeant came unto his lord again, And of Griselda's words and of her cheer* *demeanour He told him point for point, in short and plain, And him presented with his daughter dear. Somewhat this lord had ruth in his mannere, But natheless his purpose held he still, As lordes do, when they will have their will;

And bade this sergeant that he privily Shoulde the child full softly wind and wrap, With alle circumstances tenderly, And carry it in a coffer, or in lap; But, upon pain his head off for to swap,* *strike That no man shoulde know of his intent, Nor whence he came, nor whither that he went;

But at Bologna, to his sister dear, That at that time of Panic'* was Countess, *Panico He should it take, and shew her this mattere, Beseeching her to do her business This child to foster in all gentleness, And whose child it was he bade her hide From every wight, for aught that might betide.

The sergeant went, and hath fulfill'd this thing. But to the marquis now returne we; For now went he full fast imagining If by his wife's cheer he mighte see, Or by her wordes apperceive, that she Were changed; but he never could her find, But ever-in-one* alike sad** and kind. *constantly **steadfast

As glad, as humble, as busy in service, And eke in love, as she was wont to be, Was she to him, in every *manner wise;* *sort of way* And of her daughter not a word spake she; *No accident for no adversity* *no change of humour resulting Was seen in her, nor e'er her daughter's name from her affliction* She named, or in earnest or in game.

*Pars Quarta* *Fourth Part*

In this estate there passed be four year Ere she with childe was; but, as God wo'ld, A knave* child she bare by this Waltere, *boy Full gracious and fair for to behold; And when that folk it to his father told, Not only he, but all his country, merry Were for this child, and God they thank and hery.* *praise

When it was two year old, and from the breast Departed* of the norice, on a day *taken, weaned This marquis *caughte yet another lest* *was seized by yet To tempt his wife yet farther, if he may. another desire* Oh! needless was she tempted in as say;* *trial But wedded men *not connen no measure,* *know no moderation* When that they find a patient creature.

"Wife," quoth the marquis, "ye have heard ere this My people *sickly bear* our marriage; *regard with displeasure* And namely* since my son y-boren is, *especially Now is it worse than ever in all our age: The murmur slays mine heart and my corage, For to mine ears cometh the voice so smart,* *painfully That it well nigh destroyed hath mine heart.

"Now say they thus, 'When Walter is y-gone, Then shall the blood of Janicol' succeed, And be our lord, for other have we none:' Such wordes say my people, out of drede.* *doubt Well ought I of such murmur take heed, For certainly I dread all such sentence,* *expression of opinion Though they not *plainen in mine audience.* *complain in my hearing*

"I woulde live in peace, if that I might; Wherefore I am disposed utterly, As I his sister served ere* by night, *before Right so think I to serve him privily. This warn I you, that ye not suddenly Out of yourself for no woe should outraie;* *become outrageous, rave Be patient, and thereof I you pray."

"I have," quoth she, "said thus, and ever shall, I will no thing, nor n'ill no thing, certain, But as you list; not grieveth me at all Though that my daughter and my son be slain At your commandement; that is to sayn, I have not had no part of children twain, But first sickness, and after woe and pain.

"Ye be my lord, do with your owen thing Right as you list, and ask no rede of me: For, as I left at home all my clothing When I came first to you, right so," quoth she, "Left I my will and all my liberty, And took your clothing: wherefore I you pray, Do your pleasance, I will your lust* obey. *will

"And, certes, if I hadde prescience Your will to know, ere ye your lust* me told, *will I would it do withoute negligence: But, now I know your lust, and what ye wo'ld, All your pleasance firm and stable I hold; For, wist I that my death might do you ease, Right gladly would I dien you to please.

"Death may not make no comparisoun Unto your love." And when this marquis say* *saw The constance of his wife, he cast adown His eyen two, and wonder'd how she may In patience suffer all this array; And forth he went with dreary countenance; But to his heart it was full great pleasance.

This ugly sergeant, in the same wise That he her daughter caught, right so hath he (Or worse, if men can any worse devise,) Y-hent* her son, that full was of beauty: *seized And ever-in-one* so patient was she, *unvaryingly That she no cheere made of heaviness, But kiss'd her son, and after gan him bless.

Save this she prayed him, if that he might, Her little son he would in earthe grave,* *bury His tender limbes, delicate to sight, From fowles and from beastes for to save. But she none answer of him mighte have; He went his way, as him nothing ne raught,* *cared But to Bologna tenderly it brought.

The marquis wonder'd ever longer more Upon her patience; and, if that he Not hadde soothly knowen therebefore That perfectly her children loved she, He would have ween'd* that of some subtilty, *thought And of malice, or for cruel corage,* *disposition She hadde suffer'd this with sad* visage. *steadfast, unmoved

But well he knew, that, next himself, certain She lov'd her children best in every wise. But now of women would I aske fain, If these assayes mighte not suffice? What could a sturdy* husband more devise *stern To prove her wifehood and her steadfastness, And he continuing ev'r in sturdiness?

But there be folk of such condition, That, when they have a certain purpose take, Thiey cannot stint* of their intention, *cease But, right as they were bound unto a stake, They will not of their firste purpose slake:* *slacken, abate Right so this marquis fully hath purpos'd To tempt his wife, as he was first dispos'd.

He waited, if by word or countenance That she to him was changed of corage:* *spirit But never could he finde variance, She was aye one in heart and in visage, And aye the farther that she was in age, The more true (if that it were possible) She was to him in love, and more penible.* *painstaking in devotion

For which it seemed thus, that of them two There was but one will; for, as Walter lest,* *pleased The same pleasance was her lust* also; *pleasure And, God be thanked, all fell for the best. She shewed well, for no worldly unrest, A wife as of herself no thinge should Will, in effect, but as her husbaud would.

The sland'r of Walter wondrous wide sprad, That of a cruel heart he wickedly, For* he a poore woman wedded had, *because Had murder'd both his children privily: Such murmur was among them commonly. No wonder is: for to the people's ear There came no word, but that they murder'd were.

For which, whereas his people therebefore Had lov'd him well, the sland'r of his diffame* *infamy Made them that they him hated therefore. To be a murd'rer is a hateful name. But natheless, for earnest or for game, He of his cruel purpose would not stent; To tempt his wife was set all his intent.

When that his daughter twelve year was of age, He to the Court of Rome, in subtle wise Informed of his will, sent his message,* *messenger Commanding him such bulles to devise As to his cruel purpose may suffice, How that the Pope, for his people's rest, Bade him to wed another, if him lest.* *wished

I say he bade they shoulde counterfeit The Pope's bulles, making mention That he had leave his firste wife to lete,* *leave To stinte* rancour and dissension *put an end to Betwixt his people and him: thus spake the bull, The which they have published at full.

The rude people, as no wonder is, Weened* full well that it had been right so: *thought, believed But, when these tidings came to Griseldis. I deeme that her heart was full of woe; But she, alike sad* for evermo', *steadfast Disposed was, this humble creature, Th' adversity of fortune all t' endure;

Abiding ever his lust and his pleasance, To whom that she was given, heart and all, As *to her very worldly suffisance.* *to the utmost extent But, shortly if this story tell I shall, of her power* The marquis written hath in special A letter, in which he shewed his intent, And secretly it to Bologna sent.

To th' earl of Panico, which hadde tho* *there Wedded his sister, pray'd he specially To bringe home again his children two In honourable estate all openly: But one thing he him prayed utterly, That he to no wight, though men would inquere, Shoulde not tell whose children that they were,

But say, the maiden should y-wedded be Unto the marquis of Saluce anon. And as this earl was prayed, so did he, For, at day set, he on his way is gone Toward Saluce, and lorde's many a one In rich array, this maiden for to guide, — Her younge brother riding her beside.

Arrayed was toward* her marriage *as if for This freshe maiden, full of gemmes clear; Her brother, which that seven year was of age, Arrayed eke full fresh in his mannere: And thus, in great nobless, and with glad cheer, Toward Saluces shaping their journey, From day to day they rode upon their way.

*Pars Quinta.* *Fifth Part*

*Among all this,* after his wick' usage, *while all this was The marquis, yet his wife to tempte more going on* To the uttermost proof of her corage, Fully to have experience and lore* *knowledge If that she were as steadfast as before, He on a day, in open audience, Full boisterously said her this sentence:

"Certes, Griseld', I had enough pleasance To have you to my wife, for your goodness, And for your truth, and for your obeisance, Not for your lineage, nor for your richess; But now know I, in very soothfastness, That in great lordship, if I well advise, There is great servitude in sundry wise.

"I may not do as every ploughman may: My people me constraineth for to take Another wife, and cryeth day by day; And eke the Pope, rancour for to slake, Consenteth it, that dare I undertake: And truely, thus much I will you say, My newe wife is coming by the way.

"Be strong of heart, and *void anon* her place; *immediately vacate* And thilke* dower that ye brought to me, *that Take it again, I grant it of my grace. Returne to your father's house," quoth he; "No man may always have prosperity; With even heart I rede* you to endure *counsel The stroke of fortune or of aventure."

And she again answer'd in patience: "My Lord," quoth she, "I know, and knew alway, How that betwixte your magnificence And my povert' no wight nor can nor may Make comparison, it *is no nay;* *cannot be denied* I held me never digne* in no mannere *worthy To be your wife, nor yet your chamberere.* *chamber-maid

"And in this house, where ye me lady made, (The highe God take I for my witness, And all so wisly* he my soule glade),** *surely **gladdened I never held me lady nor mistress, But humble servant to your worthiness, And ever shall, while that my life may dure, Aboven every worldly creature.

"That ye so long, of your benignity, Have holden me in honour and nobley,* *nobility Where as I was not worthy for to be, That thank I God and you, to whom I pray Foryield* it you; there is no more to say: *reward Unto my father gladly will I wend,* *go And with him dwell, unto my lifes end,

"Where I was foster'd as a child full small, Till I be dead my life there will I lead, A widow clean in body, heart, and all. For since I gave to you my maidenhead, And am your true wife, it is no dread,* *doubt God shielde* such a lordes wife to take *forbid Another man to husband or to make.* *mate

"And of your newe wife, God of his grace So grant you weal and all prosperity: For I will gladly yield to her my place, In which that I was blissful wont to be. For since it liketh you, my Lord," quoth she, "That whilom weren all mine hearte's rest, That I shall go, I will go when you lest.

"But whereas ye me proffer such dowaire As I first brought, it is well in my mind, It was my wretched clothes, nothing fair, The which to me were hard now for to find. O goode God! how gentle and how kind Ye seemed by your speech and your visage, The day that maked was our marriage!

"But sooth is said, — algate* I find it true, *at all events For in effect it proved is on me, — Love is not old as when that it is new. But certes, Lord, for no adversity, To dien in this case, it shall not be That e'er in word or work I shall repent That I you gave mine heart in whole intent.

"My Lord, ye know that in my father's place Ye did me strip out of my poore weed,* *raiment And richely ye clad me of your grace; To you brought I nought elles, out of dread, But faith, and nakedness, and maidenhead; And here again your clothing I restore, And eke your wedding ring for evermore.

"The remnant of your jewels ready be Within your chamber, I dare safely sayn: Naked out of my father's house," quoth she, "I came, and naked I must turn again. All your pleasance would I follow fain:* *cheerfully But yet I hope it be not your intent That smockless* I out of your palace went. *naked

"Ye could not do so dishonest* a thing, *dishonourable That thilke* womb, in which your children lay, *that Shoulde before the people, in my walking, Be seen all bare: and therefore I you pray, Let me not like a worm go by the way: Remember you, mine owen Lord so dear, I was your wife, though I unworthy were.

"Wherefore, in guerdon* of my maidenhead, *reward Which that I brought and not again I bear, As vouchesafe to give me to my meed* *reward But such a smock as I was wont to wear, That I therewith may wrie* the womb of her *cover That was your wife: and here I take my leave Of you, mine owen Lord, lest I you grieve."

"The smock," quoth he, "that thou hast on thy back, Let it be still, and bear it forth with thee." But well unnethes* thilke word he spake, *with difficulty But went his way for ruth and for pity. Before the folk herselfe stripped she, And in her smock, with foot and head all bare, Toward her father's house forth is she fare.* *gone

The folk her follow'd weeping on her way, And fortune aye they cursed as they gon:* *go But she from weeping kept her eyen drey,* *dry Nor in this time worde spake she none. Her father, that this tiding heard anon, Cursed the day and time, that nature Shope* him to be a living creature. *formed, ordained

For, out of doubt, this olde poore man Was ever in suspect of her marriage: For ever deem'd he, since it first began, That when the lord *fulfill'd had his corage,* *had gratified his whim* He woulde think it were a disparage* *disparagement To his estate, so low for to alight, And voide* her as soon as e'er he might. *dismiss

Against* his daughter hastily went he *to meet (For he by noise of folk knew her coming), And with her olde coat, as it might be, He cover'd her, full sorrowfully weeping: But on her body might he it not bring, For rude was the cloth, and more of age By dayes fele* than at her marriage. *many

Thus with her father for a certain space Dwelled this flow'r of wifely patience, That neither by her words nor by her face, Before the folk nor eke in their absence, Ne shewed she that her was done offence, Nor of her high estate no remembrance Ne hadde she, *as by* her countenance. *to judge from*

No wonder is, for in her great estate Her ghost* was ever in plein** humility; *spirit **full No tender mouth, no hearte delicate, No pomp, and no semblant of royalty; But full of patient benignity, Discreet and prideless, aye honourable, And to her husband ever meek and stable.

Men speak of Job, and most for his humbless, As clerkes, when them list, can well indite, Namely* of men; but, as in soothfastness, *particularly Though clerkes praise women but a lite,* *little There can no man in humbless him acquite As women can, nor can be half so true As women be, *but it be fall of new.* *unless it has lately come to pass*

*Pars Sexta* *Sixth Part*

From Bologn' is the earl of Panic' come, Of which the fame up sprang to more and less; And to the people's eares all and some Was know'n eke, that a newe marchioness He with him brought, in such pomp and richess That never was there seen with manne's eye So noble array in all West Lombardy.

The marquis, which that shope* and knew all this, *arranged Ere that the earl was come, sent his message* *messenger For thilke poore sely* Griseldis; *innocent And she, with humble heart and glad visage, Nor with no swelling thought in her corage,* *mind Came at his hest,* and on her knees her set, *command And rev'rently and wisely she him gret.* *greeted

"Griseld'," quoth he, "my will is utterly, This maiden, that shall wedded be to me, Received be to-morrow as royally As it possible is in my house to be; And eke that every wight in his degree Have *his estate* in sitting and service, *what befits his And in high pleasance, as I can devise. condition*

"I have no women sufficient, certain, The chambers to array in ordinance After my lust;* and therefore would I fain *pleasure That thine were all such manner governance: Thou knowest eke of old all my pleasance; Though thine array be bad, and ill besey,* *poor to look on *Do thou thy devoir at the leaste way."* * do your duty in the quickest manner* "Not only, Lord, that I am glad," quoth she, "To do your lust, but I desire also You for to serve and please in my degree, Withoute fainting, and shall evermo': Nor ever for no weal, nor for no woe, Ne shall the ghost* within mine hearte stent** *spirit **cease To love you best with all my true intent."

And with that word she gan the house to dight,* *arrange And tables for to set, and beds to make, And *pained her* to do all that she might, *she took pains* Praying the chambereres* for Godde's sake *chamber-maids To hasten them, and faste sweep and shake, And she the most serviceable of all Hath ev'ry chamber arrayed, and his hall.

Aboute undern* gan the earl alight, *afternoon That with him brought these noble children tway; For which the people ran to see the sight Of their array, so *richely besey;* *rich to behold* And then *at erst* amonges them they say, *for the first time* That Walter was no fool, though that him lest* *pleased To change his wife; for it was for the best.

For she is fairer, as they deemen* all, *think Than is Griseld', and more tender of age, And fairer fruit between them shoulde fall, And more pleasant, for her high lineage: Her brother eke so fair was of visage, That them to see the people hath caught pleasance, Commending now the marquis' governance.

"O stormy people, unsad* and ev'r untrue, *variable And undiscreet, and changing as a vane, Delighting ev'r in rumour that is new, For like the moon so waxe ye and wane: Aye full of clapping, *dear enough a jane,* *worth nothing * Your doom* is false, your constance evil preveth,** *judgment **proveth A full great fool is he that you believeth."

Thus saide the sad* folk in that city, *sedate When that the people gazed up and down; For they were glad, right for the novelty, To have a newe lady of their town. No more of this now make I mentioun, But to Griseld' again I will me dress, And tell her constancy and business.

Full busy was Griseld' in ev'ry thing That to the feaste was appertinent; Right nought was she abash'd* of her clothing, *ashamed Though it were rude, and somedeal eke to-rent;* *tattered But with glad cheer* unto the gate she went *expression With other folk, to greet the marchioness, And after that did forth her business.

With so glad cheer* his guestes she receiv'd *expression And so conningly* each in his degree, *cleverly, skilfully That no defaulte no man apperceiv'd, But aye they wonder'd what she mighte be That in so poor array was for to see, And coude* such honour and reverence; *knew, understood And worthily they praise her prudence.

In all this meane while she not stent* *ceased This maid, and eke her brother, to commend With all her heart in full benign intent, So well, that no man could her praise amend: But at the last, when that these lordes wend* *go To sitte down to meat, he gan to call Griseld', as she was busy in the hall.

"Griseld'," quoth he, as it were in his play, "How liketh thee my wife, and her beauty?" "Right well, my Lord," quoth she, "for, in good fay,* *faith A fairer saw I never none than she: I pray to God give you prosperity; And so I hope, that he will to you send Pleasance enough unto your lives end.

"One thing beseech I you, and warn also, That ye not pricke with no tormenting This tender maiden, as ye have done mo:* *me For she is foster'd in her nourishing More tenderly, and, to my supposing, She mighte not adversity endure As could a poore foster'd creature."

And when this Walter saw her patience, Her gladde cheer, and no malice at all, And* he so often had her done offence, *although And she aye sad* and constant as a wall, *steadfast Continuing ev'r her innocence o'er all, The sturdy marquis gan his hearte dress* *prepare To rue upon her wifely steadfastness.

"This is enough, Griselda mine," quoth he, "Be now no more *aghast, nor evil paid,* *afraid, nor displeased* I have thy faith and thy benignity As well as ever woman was, assay'd, In great estate and poorely array'd: Now know I, deare wife, thy steadfastness;" And her in arms he took, and gan to kiss.

And she for wonder took of it no keep;* *notice She hearde not what thing he to her said: She far'd as she had start out of a sleep, Till she out of her mazedness abraid.* *awoke "Griseld'," quoth he, "by God that for us died, Thou art my wife, none other I have, Nor ever had, as God my soule save.

"This is thy daughter, which thou hast suppos'd To be my wife; that other faithfully Shall be mine heir, as I have aye dispos'd; Thou bare them of thy body truely: At Bologna kept I them privily: Take them again, for now may'st thou not say That thou hast lorn* none of thy children tway. *lost

"And folk, that otherwise have said of me, I warn them well, that I have done this deed For no malice, nor for no cruelty, But to assay in thee thy womanhead: And not to slay my children (God forbid), But for to keep them privily and still, Till I thy purpose knew, and all thy will."

When she this heard, in swoon adown she falleth For piteous joy; and after her swooning, She both her younge children to her calleth, And in her armes piteously weeping Embraced them, and tenderly kissing, Full like a mother, with her salte tears She bathed both their visage and their hairs.

O, what a piteous thing it was to see Her swooning, and her humble voice to hear! "Grand mercy, Lord, God thank it you," quoth she, That ye have saved me my children dear; Now reck* I never to be dead right here; *care Since I stand in your love, and in your grace, No *force of* death, nor when my spirit pace.* *no matter for* *pass

"O tender, O dear, O young children mine, Your woeful mother *weened steadfastly* *believed firmly* That cruel houndes, or some foul vermine, Had eaten you; but God of his mercy, And your benigne father tenderly Have *done you keep:"* and in that same stound* *caused you to All suddenly she swapt** down to the ground. be preserved* *hour **fell And in her swoon so sadly* holdeth she *firmly Her children two, when she gan them embrace, That with great sleight* and great difficulty *art The children from her arm they can arace,* *pull away O! many a tear on many a piteous face Down ran of them that stoode her beside, Unneth'* aboute her might they abide. *scarcely

Walter her gladdeth, and her sorrow slaketh:* *assuages She riseth up abashed* from her trance, *astonished And every wight her joy and feaste maketh, Till she hath caught again her countenance. Walter her doth so faithfully pleasance, That it was dainty for to see the cheer Betwixt them two, since they be met in fere.* *together

The ladies, when that they their time sey,* *saw Have taken her, and into chamber gone, And stripped her out of her rude array, And in a cloth of gold that brightly shone, And with a crown of many a riche stone Upon her head, they into hall her brought: And there she was honoured as her ought.

Thus had this piteous day a blissful end; For every man and woman did his might This day in mirth and revel to dispend, Till on the welkin* shone the starres bright: *firmament For more solemn in every mannes sight This feaste was, and greater of costage,* *expense Than was the revel of her marriage.

Full many a year in high prosperity Lived these two in concord and in rest; And richely his daughter married he Unto a lord, one of the worthiest Of all Itale; and then in peace and rest His wife's father in his court he kept, Till that the soul out of his body crept.

His son succeeded in his heritage, In rest and peace, after his father's day: And fortunate was eke in marriage, All* he put not his wife in great assay: *although This world is not so strong, it *is no nay,* *not to be denied* As it hath been in olde times yore; And hearken what this author saith, therefore;

This story is said, not for that wives should Follow Griselda in humility, For it were importable* though they would; *not to be borne But for that every wight in his degree Shoulde be constant in adversity, As was Griselda; therefore Petrarch writeth This story, which with high style he inditeth.

For, since a woman was so patient Unto a mortal man, well more we ought Receiven all in gree* that God us sent. good-will *For great skill is he proved that he wrought:* *see note * But he tempteth no man that he hath bought, As saith Saint James, if ye his 'pistle read; He proveth folk all day, it is no dread.* *doubt

And suffereth us, for our exercise, With sharpe scourges of adversity Full often to be beat in sundry wise; Not for to know our will, for certes he, Ere we were born, knew all our frailty; And for our best is all his governance; Let us then live in virtuous sufferance.

But one word, lordings, hearken, ere I go: It were full hard to finde now-a-days In all a town Griseldas three or two: For, if that they were put to such assays, The gold of them hath now so bad allays* *alloys With brass, that though the coin be fair *at eye,* *to see* It woulde rather break in two than ply.* *bend

For which here, for the Wife's love of Bath, — Whose life and all her sex may God maintain In high mast'ry, and elles were it scath,* — *damage, pity I will, with lusty hearte fresh and green, Say you a song to gladden you, I ween: And let us stint of earnestful mattere. Hearken my song, that saith in this mannere.

L'Envoy of Chaucer.

"Griseld' is dead, and eke her patience, And both at once are buried in Itale: For which I cry in open audience, No wedded man so hardy be t' assail His wife's patience, in trust to find Griselda's, for in certain he shall fail.

"O noble wives, full of high prudence, Let no humility your tongues nail: Nor let no clerk have cause or diligence To write of you a story of such marvail, As of Griselda patient and kind, Lest Chichevache you swallow in her entrail.

"Follow Echo, that holdeth no silence, But ever answereth at the countertail;* *counter-tally Be not bedaffed* for your innocence, *befooled But sharply take on you the governail;* *helm Imprinte well this lesson in your mind, For common profit, since it may avail.

"Ye archiwives,* stand aye at defence, *wives of rank Since ye be strong as is a great camail,* *camel Nor suffer not that men do you offence. And slender wives, feeble in battail, Be eager as a tiger yond in Ind; Aye clapping as a mill, I you counsail.

"Nor dread them not, nor do them reverence; For though thine husband armed be in mail, The arrows of thy crabbed eloquence Shall pierce his breast, and eke his aventail; In jealousy I rede* eke thou him bind, *advise And thou shalt make him couch* as doth a quail. *submit, shrink

"If thou be fair, where folk be in presence Shew thou thy visage and thine apparail: If thou be foul, be free of thy dispence; To get thee friendes aye do thy travail: Be aye of cheer as light as leaf on lind,* *linden, lime-tree And let him care, and weep, and wring, and wail."

Notes to the Clerk's Tale

1. Petrarch, in his Latin romance, "De obedientia et fide uxoria Mythologia," (Of obedient and faithful wives in Mythology) translated the charming story of "the patient Grizel" from the Italian of Bocaccio's "Decameron;" and Chaucer has closely followed Petrarch's translation, made in 1373, the year before that in which he died. The fact that the embassy to Genoa, on which Chaucer was sent, took place in 1372-73, has lent countenance to the opinion that the English poet did actually visit the Italian bard at Padua, and hear the story from his own lips. This, however, is only a probability; for it is a moot point whether the two poets ever met.

2. Vesulus: Monte Viso, a lofty peak at the junction of the Maritime and Cottian Alps; from two springs on its east side rises the Po.

3. Buxomly: obediently; Anglo-Saxon, "bogsom," old English, "boughsome," that can be easily bent or bowed; German, "biegsam," pliant, obedient.

4. Well ofter of the well than of the tun she drank: she drank water much more often than wine.

5. Undern: afternoon, evening, though by some "undern" is understood as dinner-time — 9 a. m. See note 4 to the Wife of Bath's Tale.

6. Very: true; French "vrai".

7. Nouches: Ornaments of some kind not precisely known; some editions read "ouches," studs, brooches. (Transcriber's note: The OED gives "nouches" as a form of "ouches," buckles)

8. A furlong way or two: a short time; literally, as long as it takes to walk one or two furlongs (a furlong is 220 yards)

9. Lordes' hestes may not be y-feign'd: it will not do merely to feign compliance with a lord's commands.

10. Arace: tear; French, "arracher."

11. Fele: many; German, "viel."

12. Dear enough a jane: worth nothing. A jane was a small coin of little worth, so the meaning is "not worth a red cent".

13. Mo: me. "This is one of the most licentious corruptions of orthography," says Tyrwhitt, "that I remember to have observed in Chaucer;" but such liberties were common among the European poets of his time, when there was an extreme lack of certainty in orthography.

14. The fourteen lines that follow are translated almost literally from Petrarch's Latin.

15. For great skill is he proved that he wrought: for it is most reasonable that He should prove or test that which he made.

16. Chichevache, in old popular fable, was a monster that fed only on good women, and was always very thin from scarcity of such food; a corresponding monster, Bycorne, fed only on obedient and kind husbands, and was always fat. The origin of the fable was French; but Lydgate has a ballad on the subject. "Chichevache" literally means "niggardly" or "greedy cow."

17. Countertail: Counter-tally or counter-foil; something exactly corresponding.

18. Aventail: forepart of a helmet, vizor.



THE MERCHANT'S TALE.

THE PROLOGUE.

"Weeping and wailing, care and other sorrow, I have enough, on even and on morrow," Quoth the Merchant, "and so have other mo', That wedded be; I trow* that it be so; *believe For well I wot it fareth so by me. I have a wife, the worste that may be, For though the fiend to her y-coupled were, She would him overmatch, I dare well swear. Why should I you rehearse in special Her high malice? she is *a shrew at all.* *thoroughly, in There is a long and large difference everything wicked* Betwixt Griselda's greate patience, And of my wife the passing cruelty. Were I unbounden, all so may I the,* *thrive I woulde never eft* come in the snare. *again We wedded men live in sorrow and care; Assay it whoso will, and he shall find That I say sooth, by Saint Thomas of Ind, As for the more part; I say not all, — God shielde* that it shoulde so befall. *forbid Ah! good Sir Host, I have y-wedded be These moneths two, and more not, pardie; And yet I trow* that he that all his life *believe Wifeless hath been, though that men would him rive* *wound Into the hearte, could in no mannere Telle so much sorrow, as I you here Could tellen of my wife's cursedness."* *wickedness

"Now," quoth our Host, "Merchant, so God you bless, Since ye so muche knowen of that art, Full heartily I pray you tell us part." "Gladly," quoth he; "but of mine owen sore, For sorry heart, I telle may no more."

Notes to the Prologue to the Merchant's Tale

1. Though the manner in which the Merchant takes up the closing words of the Envoy to the Clerk's Tale, and refers to the patience of Griselda, seems to prove beyond doubt that the order of the Tales in the text is the right one, yet in some manuscripts of good authority the Franklin's Tale follows the Clerk's, and the Envoy is concluded by this stanza: — "This worthy Clerk when ended was his tale, Our Hoste said, and swore by cocke's bones 'Me lever were than a barrel of ale My wife at home had heard this legend once; This is a gentle tale for the nonce; As, to my purpose, wiste ye my will. But thing that will not be, let it be still.'"

In other manuscripts of less authority the Host proceeds, in two similar stanzas, to impose a Tale on the Franklin; but Tyrwhitt is probably right in setting them aside as spurious, and in admitting the genuineness of the first only, if it be supposed that Chaucer forgot to cancel it when he had decided on another mode of connecting the Merchant's with the Clerk's Tale.

2. Saint Thomas of Ind: St. Thomas the Apostle, who was believed to have travelled in India.

THE TALE.

Whilom there was dwelling in Lombardy A worthy knight, that born was at Pavie, In which he liv'd in great prosperity; And forty years a wifeless man was he, And follow'd aye his bodily delight On women, where as was his appetite, As do these fooles that be seculeres. And, when that he was passed sixty years, Were it for holiness, or for dotage, I cannot say, but such a great corage* *inclination Hadde this knight to be a wedded man, That day and night he did all that he can To espy where that he might wedded be; Praying our Lord to grante him, that he Mighte once knowen of that blissful life That is betwixt a husband and his wife, And for to live under that holy bond With which God firste man and woman bond. "None other life," said he, "is worth a bean; For wedlock is so easy, and so clean, That in this world it is a paradise." Thus said this olde knight, that was so wise. And certainly, as sooth* as God is king, *true To take a wife it is a glorious thing, And namely* when a man is old and hoar, *especially Then is a wife the fruit of his treasor; Then should he take a young wife and a fair, On which he might engender him an heir, And lead his life in joy and in solace;* *mirth, delight Whereas these bachelors singen "Alas!" When that they find any adversity In love, which is but childish vanity. And truely it sits* well to be so, *becomes, befits That bachelors have often pain and woe: On brittle ground they build, and brittleness They finde when they *weene sickerness:* *think that there They live but as a bird or as a beast, is security* In liberty, and under no arrest;* *check, control Whereas a wedded man in his estate Liveth a life blissful and ordinate, Under the yoke of marriage y-bound; Well may his heart in joy and bliss abound. For who can be so buxom* as a wife? *obedient Who is so true, and eke so attentive To keep* him, sick and whole, as is his make?** *care for **mate For weal or woe she will him not forsake: She is not weary him to love and serve, Though that he lie bedrid until he sterve.* *die And yet some clerkes say it is not so; Of which he, Theophrast, is one of tho:* *those *What force* though Theophrast list for to lie? *what matter*

"Take no wife," quoth he, "for husbandry,* *thrift As for to spare in household thy dispence; A true servant doth more diligence Thy good to keep, than doth thine owen wife, For she will claim a half part all her life. And if that thou be sick, so God me save, Thy very friendes, or a true knave,* *servant Will keep thee bet than she, that *waiteth aye *ahways waits to After thy good,* and hath done many a day." inherit your property* This sentence, and a hundred times worse, Writeth this man, there God his bones curse. But take no keep* of all such vanity, *notice Defy* Theophrast, and hearken to me. *distrust

A wife is Godde's gifte verily; All other manner giftes hardily,* *truly As handes, rentes, pasture, or commune,* *common land Or mebles,* all be giftes of fortune, *furniture That passen as a shadow on the wall: But dread* thou not, if plainly speak I shall, *doubt A wife will last, and in thine house endure, Well longer than thee list, paraventure.* *perhaps Marriage is a full great sacrament; He which that hath no wife, I hold him shent;* *ruined He liveth helpless, and all desolate (I speak of folk *in secular estate*): *who are not And hearken why, I say not this for nought, — of the clergy* That woman is for manne's help y-wrought. The highe God, when he had Adam maked, And saw him all alone belly naked, God of his greate goodness saide then, Let us now make a help unto this man Like to himself; and then he made him Eve. Here may ye see, and hereby may ye preve,* *prove That a wife is man s help and his comfort, His paradise terrestre and his disport. So buxom* and so virtuous is she, *obedient, complying They muste needes live in unity; One flesh they be, and one blood, as I guess, With but one heart in weal and in distress. A wife? Ah! Saint Mary, ben'dicite, How might a man have any adversity That hath a wife? certes I cannot say The bliss the which that is betwixt them tway, There may no tongue it tell, or hearte think. If he be poor, she helpeth him to swink;* *labour She keeps his good, and wasteth never a deal;* *whit All that her husband list, her liketh* well; *pleaseth She saith not ones Nay, when he saith Yea; "Do this," saith he; "All ready, Sir," saith she. O blissful order, wedlock precious! Thou art so merry, and eke so virtuous, And so commended and approved eke, That every man that holds him worth a leek Upon his bare knees ought all his life To thank his God, that him hath sent a wife; Or elles pray to God him for to send A wife, to last unto his life's end. For then his life is set in sickerness,* *security He may not be deceived, as I guess, So that he work after his wife's rede;* *counsel Then may he boldely bear up his head, They be so true, and therewithal so wise. For which, if thou wilt worken as the wise, Do alway so as women will thee rede. * *counsel Lo how that Jacob, as these clerkes read, By good counsel of his mother Rebecc' Bounde the kiddes skin about his neck; For which his father's benison* he wan. *benediction Lo Judith, as the story telle can, By good counsel she Godde's people kept, And slew him, Holofernes, while he slept. Lo Abigail, by good counsel, how she Saved her husband Nabal, when that he Should have been slain. And lo, Esther also By counsel good deliver'd out of woe The people of God, and made him, Mardoche, Of Assuere enhanced* for to be. *advanced in dignity There is nothing *in gree superlative* *of higher esteem* (As saith Senec) above a humble wife. Suffer thy wife's tongue, as Cato bit;* *bid She shall command, and thou shalt suffer it, And yet she will obey of courtesy. A wife is keeper of thine husbandry: Well may the sicke man bewail and weep, There as there is no wife the house to keep. I warne thee, if wisely thou wilt wirch,* *work Love well thy wife, as Christ loveth his church: Thou lov'st thyself, if thou lovest thy wife. No man hateth his flesh, but in his life He fost'reth it; and therefore bid I thee Cherish thy wife, or thou shalt never the.* *thrive Husband and wife, what *so men jape or play,* *although men joke Of worldly folk holde the sicker* way; and jeer* *certain They be so knit there may no harm betide, And namely* upon the wife's side. * especially

For which this January, of whom I told, Consider'd hath within his dayes old, The lusty life, the virtuous quiet, That is in marriage honey-sweet. And for his friends upon a day he sent To tell them the effect of his intent. With face sad,* his tale he hath them told: *grave, earnest He saide, "Friendes, I am hoar and old, And almost (God wot) on my pitte's* brink, *grave's Upon my soule somewhat must I think. I have my body foolishly dispended, Blessed be God that it shall be amended; For I will be certain a wedded man, And that anon in all the haste I can, Unto some maiden, fair and tender of age; I pray you shape* for my marriage * arrange, contrive All suddenly, for I will not abide: And I will fond* to espy, on my side, *try To whom I may be wedded hastily. But forasmuch as ye be more than, Ye shalle rather* such a thing espy Than I, and where me best were to ally. But one thing warn I you, my friendes dear, I will none old wife have in no mannere: She shall not passe sixteen year certain. Old fish and younge flesh would I have fain. Better," quoth he, "a pike than a pickerel,* *young pike And better than old beef is tender veal. I will no woman thirty year of age, It is but beanestraw and great forage. And eke these olde widows (God it wot) They conne* so much craft on Wade's boat, *know *So muche brooke harm when that them lest,* *they can do so much That with them should I never live in rest. harm when they wish* For sundry schooles make subtle clerkes; Woman of many schooles half a clerk is. But certainly a young thing men may guy,* *guide Right as men may warm wax with handes ply.* *bend,mould Wherefore I say you plainly in a clause, I will none old wife have, right for this cause. For if so were I hadde such mischance, That I in her could have no pleasance, Then should I lead my life in avoutrie,* *adultery And go straight to the devil when I die. Nor children should I none upon her getten: Yet *were me lever* houndes had me eaten *I would rather* Than that mine heritage shoulde fall In strange hands: and this I tell you all. I doubte not I know the cause why Men shoulde wed: and farthermore know I There speaketh many a man of marriage That knows no more of it than doth my page, For what causes a man should take a wife. If he ne may not live chaste his life, Take him a wife with great devotion, Because of lawful procreation Of children, to th' honour of God above, And not only for paramour or love; And for they shoulde lechery eschew, And yield their debte when that it is due: Or for that each of them should help the other In mischief,* as a sister shall the brother, *trouble And live in chastity full holily. But, Sires, by your leave, that am not I, For, God be thanked, I dare make avaunt,* *boast I feel my limbes stark* and suffisant *strong To do all that a man belongeth to: I wot myselfe best what I may do. Though I be hoar, I fare as doth a tree, That blossoms ere the fruit y-waxen* be; *grown The blossomy tree is neither dry nor dead; I feel me now here hoar but on my head. Mine heart and all my limbes are as green As laurel through the year is for to seen.* *see And, since that ye have heard all mine intent, I pray you to my will ye would assent."

Diverse men diversely him told Of marriage many examples old; Some blamed it, some praised it, certain; But at the haste, shortly for to sayn (As all day* falleth altercation *constantly, every day Betwixte friends in disputation), There fell a strife betwixt his brethren two, Of which that one was called Placebo, Justinus soothly called was that other.

Placebo said; "O January, brother, Full little need have ye, my lord so dear, Counsel to ask of any that is here: But that ye be so full of sapience, That you not liketh, for your high prudence, To waive* from the word of Solomon. *depart, deviate This word said he unto us every one; Work alle thing by counsel, — thus said he, — And thenne shalt thou not repente thee But though that Solomon spake such a word, Mine owen deare brother and my lord, So wisly* God my soule bring at rest, *surely I hold your owen counsel is the best. For, brother mine, take of me this motive; * *advice, encouragement I have now been a court-man all my life, And, God it wot, though I unworthy be, I have standen in full great degree Aboute lordes of full high estate; Yet had I ne'er with none of them debate; I never them contraried truely. I know well that my lord can* more than I; *knows What that he saith I hold it firm and stable, I say the same, or else a thing semblable. A full great fool is any counsellor That serveth any lord of high honour That dare presume, or ones thinken it; That his counsel should pass his lorde's wit. Nay, lordes be no fooles by my fay. Ye have yourselfe shewed here to day So high sentence,* so holily and well *judgment, sentiment That I consent, and confirm *every deal* *in every point* Your wordes all, and your opinioun By God, there is no man in all this town Nor in Itale, could better have y-said. Christ holds him of this counsel well apaid.* *satisfied And truely it is a high courage Of any man that stopen* is in age, *advanced To take a young wife, by my father's kin; Your hearte hangeth on a jolly pin. Do now in this matter right as you lest, For finally I hold it for the best."

Justinus, that aye stille sat and heard, Right in this wise to Placebo answer'd. "Now, brother mine, be patient I pray, Since ye have said, and hearken what I say. Senec, among his other wordes wise, Saith, that a man ought him right well advise,* *consider To whom he gives his hand or his chattel. And since I ought advise me right well To whom I give my good away from me, Well more I ought advise me, pardie, To whom I give my body: for alway I warn you well it is no childe's play To take a wife without advisement. Men must inquire (this is mine assent) Whe'er she be wise, or sober, or dronkelew,* *given to drink Or proud, or any other ways a shrew, A chidester,* or a waster of thy good, *a scold Or rich or poor; or else a man is wood.* *mad Albeit so, that no man finde shall None in this world, that *trotteth whole in all,* *is sound in No man, nor beast, such as men can devise,* every point* *describe But nathehess it ought enough suffice With any wife, if so were that she had More goode thewes* than her vices bad: * qualities And all this asketh leisure to inquere. For, God it wot, I have wept many a tear Full privily, since I have had a wife. Praise whoso will a wedded manne's life, Certes, I find in it but cost and care, And observances of all blisses bare. And yet, God wot, my neighebours about, And namely* of women many a rout,** *especially **company Say that I have the moste steadfast wife, And eke the meekest one, that beareth life. But I know best where wringeth* me my shoe, *pinches Ye may for me right as you like do Advise you, ye be a man of age, How that ye enter into marriage; And namely* with a young wife and a fair, * especially By him that made water, fire, earth, air, The youngest man that is in all this rout* *company Is busy enough to bringen it about To have his wife alone, truste me: Ye shall not please her fully yeares three, This is to say, to do her full pleasance. A wife asketh full many an observance. I pray you that ye be not *evil apaid."* *displeased*

"Well," quoth this January, "and hast thou said? Straw for thy Senec, and for thy proverbs, I counte not a pannier full of herbs Of schoole termes; wiser men than thou, As thou hast heard, assented here right now To my purpose: Placebo, what say ye?" "I say it is a cursed* man," quoth he, *ill-natured, wicked "That letteth* matrimony, sickerly." *hindereth And with that word they rise up suddenly, And be assented fully, that he should Be wedded when him list, and where he would.

High fantasy and curious business From day to day gan in the soul impress* *imprint themselves Of January about his marriage Many a fair shape, and many a fair visage There passed through his hearte night by night. As whoso took a mirror polish'd bright, And set it in a common market-place, Then should he see many a figure pace By his mirror; and in the same wise Gan January in his thought devise Of maidens, which that dwelte him beside: He wiste not where that he might abide.* *stay, fix his choice For if that one had beauty in her face, Another stood so in the people's grace For her sadness* and her benignity, *sedateness That of the people greatest voice had she: And some were rich and had a badde name. But natheless, betwixt earnest and game, He at the last appointed him on one, And let all others from his hearte gon, And chose her of his own authority; For love is blind all day, and may not see. And when that he was into bed y-brought, He pourtray'd in his heart and in his thought Her freshe beauty, and her age tender, Her middle small, her armes long and slender, Her wise governance, her gentleness, Her womanly bearing, and her sadness.* *sedateness And when that he *on her was condescended,* *had selected her* He thought his choice might not be amended; For when that he himself concluded had, He thought each other manne' s wit so bad, That impossible it were to reply Against his choice; this was his fantasy. His friendes sent he to, at his instance, And prayed them to do him that pleasance, That hastily they would unto him come; He would abridge their labour all and some: Needed no more for them to go nor ride, *He was appointed where he would abide.* *he had definitively

Placebo came, and eke his friendes soon, made his choice* And *alderfirst he bade them all a boon,* *first of all he asked That none of them no arguments would make a favour of them* Against the purpose that he had y-take: Which purpose was pleasant to God, said he, And very ground of his prosperity. He said, there was a maiden in the town, Which that of beauty hadde great renown; All* were it so she were of small degree, *although Sufficed him her youth and her beauty; Which maid, he said, he would have to his wife, To lead in ease and holiness his life; And thanked God, that he might have her all, That no wight with his blisse parte* shall; *have a share And prayed them to labour in this need, And shape that he faile not to speed: For then, he said, his spirit was at ease. "Then is," quoth he, "nothing may me displease, Save one thing pricketh in my conscience, The which I will rehearse in your presence. I have," quoth he, "heard said, full yore* ago, *long There may no man have perfect blisses two, This is to say, on earth and eke in heaven. For though he keep him from the sinne's seven, And eke from every branch of thilke tree, Yet is there so perfect felicity, And so great *ease and lust,* in marriage, *comfort and pleasure* That ev'r I am aghast,* now in mine age *ashamed, afraid That I shall head now so merry a life, So delicate, withoute woe or strife, That I shall have mine heav'n on earthe here. For since that very heav'n is bought so dear, With tribulation and great penance, How should I then, living in such pleasance As alle wedded men do with their wives, Come to the bliss where Christ *etern on live is?* *lives eternally* This is my dread;* and ye, my brethren tway, *doubt Assoile* me this question, I you pray." *resolve, answer

Justinus, which that hated his folly, Answer'd anon right in his japery;* *mockery, jesting way And, for he would his longe tale abridge, He woulde no authority* allege, *written texts But saide; "Sir, so there be none obstacle Other than this, God of his high miracle, And of his mercy, may so for you wirch,* *work That, ere ye have your rights of holy church, Ye may repent of wedded manne's life, In which ye say there is no woe nor strife: And elles God forbid, *but if* he sent *unless A wedded man his grace him to repent Well often, rather than a single man. And therefore, Sir, *the beste rede I can,* *this is the best counsel Despair you not, but have in your memory, that I know* Paraventure she may be your purgatory; She may be Godde's means, and Godde's whip; And then your soul shall up to heaven skip Swifter than doth an arrow from a bow. I hope to God hereafter ye shall know That there is none so great felicity In marriage, nor ever more shall be, That you shall let* of your salvation; *hinder So that ye use, as skill is and reason, The lustes* of your wife attemperly,** *pleasures **moderately And that ye please her not too amorously, And that ye keep you eke from other sin. My tale is done, for my wit is but thin. Be not aghast* hereof, my brother dear, *aharmed, afraid But let us waden out of this mattere, The Wife of Bath, if ye have understand, Of marriage, which ye have now in hand, Declared hath full well in little space; Fare ye now well, God have you in his grace."

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