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His body was bolled,' for wrath he bit his lips, And have indulgences double-fold; but if Do-well Wroth-like he wrung his fist; he thought him to you help wreak
I set your patents and your pardons at one pie's heel!1 With works or with words when he seeth his time. ... Forthwith I counsel all Christians to cry God mercy, And then came Covetise ; can I him nought descrive, And Mary his mother be our mene between, So hungrily and hollow Sir Hervy' him looked ; That God give us grace here ere we go hence, He was beetle-browed and babber-lipt also,
Such works to work while we ben here, With two bleared een as a blind hag,
That after our death-day, Do-well rehearse
At the day of doom, we did as he hight.3
of life at home and abroad, besides enjoying the
special favour of the court—to give consistency Mercy and Truth.
and permanence to the language and poetry of Out of the west, as it were, a wench, as methought, England. Henceforward, his native style, which Came walking in the way, to helle-ward she looked ; Spenser terms 'the pure well of English undefiled,' Mercy hight that maid, a mild thing withal,
formed a standard of composition. A full benign burd, and buxom of speech.
GEOFFREY CHAUCER could not boast of any Her sister, as it seemed, came softly walking high lineage-his father and grandfather were Even out of the east, and westward she looked, London vintners.* The date of his birth is unA full comely creature, Truth she hight, For the virtue that her followed afеard was she never tradition that he was then seventy-two years of
certain. He died in 1400, and there is an old When these maidens metten, Mercy and Truth, Either axed of other of this great wonder,
age ; consequently, born in 1328. The poet's own Of the din and of the darkness.
testimony, however, seems at variance with this
statement. In the famous controversy in 1386 These are vivid pictures, and there are many between Richard, Lord Scrope, and Sir Robert such in Langland--strong repulsive delineations Grosvenor, concerning their coat of arms, Chaucer of vice, misery, and corruption. He was an ear- was examined as a witness, and in the deposition nest moral teacher, not an imaginative poet. He he is stated to be ‘of the age of forty years and had none of the chivalrous sentiment or gay fancy upward, and to have borne arms twenty-seven of his great contemporary Chaucer.
years. This would place his birth about 1345, Langland thus closes' his vision of Piers the instead of 1328. The earliest notice of the poet Plowman, Passus vii. (language modernised) : occurs in some fragments of the Household Book
of the Lady Elizabeth, wife of Prince Lionel, Now hath the Pope power pardon to grant the son of Edward III., of the date of 1357. From
people, Withouten any penance, to passen into heaven?
these it appears that payments were made for This is our belief, as lettered men us teacheth
articles of dress and 'necessaries' to Chaucer(Quodcumque ligaueris super terram, erit ligatum et in a suit of clothes and shoes, 7s., with a donation celis, &c.6),
of 3s. 6d. He was then probably a page to the And so I leave it verily (Lord forbid else !)
Lady Elizabeth. In 1359 he accompanied the That pardon and penance and prayers don save royal army to France, doubtless in the retinue of Souls that have sinned seven sins deadly.
Prince Lionel. If we take the 'forty years and But to trust to these triennales,” truly me thinketh upwards' to signify forty-three or forty-four, he Is nought so sicker 8 for the soul, certes, as Do-well. was then sixteen or seventeen-an age not two Forthwith I rede you, renkes, that rich ben on this early for a youth in the royal household to enter earth,
military service. There is no evidence as to the Upon trust of your treasure triennales to have,
education of the poet, though he is said to have Be ye never the balder to break the ten behests, And namely the masters, mayors, and judges
studied both at Cambridge and Oxford. Having That have the wealth of this world, and for wise men joined Edward III.'s army which invaded France ben holden,
in 1359, he was taken prisoner, but was soon set To purchase you pardon and the Pope's bulls.
free, the king giving, in March 1360, £16 towards At the dreadful doom when dead shallen rise,
his ransom. A blank of six years occurs, but when And comen all before Christ accounts to yield, the name of Chaucer reappears in the public How thou leddest thy life here and his laws kept’st, records, he is found attached to the court and And how thou didest day by day, the doom will rehearse ;
1 Pie's heel, magpie's heel, a curious expression. But the Cam
bridge manuscript has pese hule, that is, a pea's hull, a pea-shell, A poke full of pardons there, ne provinciales letters, husk of a pea.-SKEAT. The Cambridge manuscript surely Though they be found in the fraternity of all the four the correct reading. orders,
2 Mene, medium, Mediator.
3 Hight, commanded. * This point has been settled by the researches of Mr F. J.
Furnival, editor-in-chief of the Chaucer Society. Richard Chaucer, 1 Swollen.
vintner of London, in April 1349, bequeathed his tenement and ? Mr Skeat points out that Skelton has the same name for a tavern to the Church of St Mary, Aldermary. His son, John
And Harry Hafler, that well could pick a meal.' Chaucer, citizen and vintner,' Thames Street, in July 1349 exe3 Hanging lower.
cuted a deed relating to some lands. The poet, by deed, in 1380 4 As the mouth of a bondman or rural labourer is with the bacon released all right in his father's house in Thames Street to Henry he eats, so was his beard bedaubed or smeared. 5 Maiden. Herbury, vintner. This pedigree confirms Fuller's joke, that 6 Matthew xvi. 19. 7 Masses said for three years.
some wits had made Chaucer's arms (argent and gules) the 8 Sure.
9 Men; Anglo-Saxon rinc, a warrior (SKEAT). dashing of white and red wine, as' nicking his father's profession' 10 The four orders of Friars.
(Fuller's Church History, Book iv.).
engaged in diplomatic service. About 1366, he December 1386, Chaucer was superseded in his married Philippa, one of the ladies of the chamber office of comptroller of customs, and is found to the queen, daughter of Sir Payne Roet, and raising money on his two pensions of twenty sister of Katherine Swynford, the mistress, and marks each. His wife died in 1387 (after June of ultimately the wife of John of Gaunt. In 1367 this year there is no mention of the pension of the king granted Chaucer an annuity of 20 marks ten marks given yearly to Philippa Chaucer), but by the title of valettus noster, our yeoman, so that King Richard having dismissed his council, and hé then stood in the intermediate rank between restored the Lancastrian party to power, the old squire and groom. In 1369 he was on a second poet regained, for a brief space, a share of the invasion of France. In 1372 he was appointed royal favour. In July 1389 he was appointed envoy, with two others, to Genoa, and he was clerk of the king's works at Westminster, the then styled scutifer, or squire. It is supposed Tower of London, and Windsor. * His salary that on this occasion he made a tour of the was two shillings a day, with power to appoint a northern states of Italy, and visited Petrarch, who deputy. He held these appointments for little was at Arqua, near Padua, in 1373. The poet's more than a year, and is believed to have been mission to Italy was to confer with the Duke and afterwards in straitened circumstances. He still, merchants of Genoa, for the purpose of choosing however, enjoyed his pension of £10, with his some port in England where the Genoese might allowance of forty shillings yearly for robes as one form a commercial establishment; and he had of the king's esquires. In 1394 he obtained from discharged his duty satisfactorily, for next year, the king a grant of £20 a year for life, on which, on the celebration of St George's day, 23d April, being apparently in want, he received advances at Windsor, Chaucer received a grant of a pitcher from the exchequer. In his Complaint to his of wine daily (commuted in 1378 for a yearly pay- Purse, Chaucer refers to this period : ment of 20 marks), and in June was appointed comptroller of the customs and subsidy of wool,
To you, my purse, and to none other wight, skins, &c. in the port of London. The duties of
Complain I, for ye be my lady dear, his office he had to perform personally, writing the
I am so sorry now that ye be light;
For certes, but if ye make me heavy cheer, rolls with his own hand; and in his House of Me were as lief be laid upon my bier, Fame he refers to this period, stating that when For which unto your mercy thus I cry, his labour was all done, and his ó reckonings.' all Be heavy again, or else might I die ! made, he used to go home to his house, and sit at his books till he appeared dazed or lost in study. In May 1398 Chaucer got letters of protection to The same year (1374) Chaucer received a pension secure him from arrest on any plea except it were of £10 from the Duke of Lancaster, and the city connected with land,' for a term of two years
. In authorities of London granted him for life a lease October King Richard granted him a tun of wine of the dwelling-house above the gate of Aldgate. yearly for life. The son of his friend John of Next year he was appointed guardian of a certain Gaunt, the triumphant Henry Bolingbroke, now Edmond Staplegate of Kent, and received for supplanted Richard on the throne ; and, October wardship and marriage fee a sum of £104. In 3, 1399, we find Henry IV. granting Chaucer 40 1377 we find him joint-envoy on a secret mission marks yearly in addition to his former £20 from to Flanders, and afterwards sent to France to Richard II. On 24th December the poet covetreat of peace with Charles V., and to negotiate a nanted for the lease of a tenement in the garden of secret treaty for the marriage of Richard, Prince of St Mary's Chapel, Westminster (the site of Henry Wales, with Mary, daughter of the king of France. VII,'s chapel), for the long term of 53 years, but Richard succeeded to the throne by the death of he lived only till the following autumn, dying Edward III., June 21, 1377, and Chaucer was re- October 25, 1400. He was buried in Westminster appointed one of the king's esquires. In May Abbey, the first of the illustrious file of poets 1378 he was sent with Sir Edward Berkeley to whose ashes rest in that great national sanctuary. Lombardy on a mission 'touching the king's ex
Chaucer is said to have left two sons-Lewis, pedition of war.' The prosperous poet was now who died early, and Thomas, who rose to allowed to discharge his duties as comptroller of great wealth and position, was Speaker of the customs by deputy, and he thus had greater House of Commons, and father of an only leisure to devote himself to the composition of his daughter, Alice Chaucer, who married John De Canterbury Tales. Shortly after his return from la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, declared by Richard III. Italy, Chaucer appears in a questionable light. By heir-apparent to the throne. There are doubts, a deed, dated 1st of May 1379, enrolled on the however, in spite of the attestations of heralds, Close Roll of 3 Richard II., Cecilia Chaumpaigne, whether this rich and great Sir Thomas Chaucer daughter of the then late William Chaumpaigne
was really the son of the author of the Canterbury and Agnes his wife, released to Geoffrey Chaucer
Tales. all her rights of action against him for his abduc
The personal appearance of the poet is partly tion of her, de raptu meo. The poet may have described by himself in the Prologue to Sir Thopas. carried off the young lady, as Mr Furnival sug- He was stout, but ‘small and fair of face:' gests, to marry her to one of his friends, or the Thou lookest as thou wouldst find an hare, charge may have been dismissed as unfounded. For ever upon the ground I see thee stare. ... In 1386 Chaucer sat in parliament as one of the
He seemeth elvish by his countenance, knights of the shire for Kent. But the Duke of For unto no wight doth he dalliance. Gloucester succeeding to the government in place of the Duke of Lancaster, then abroad, and with wages, &c., Chaucer was exposed toodanger. On September 3;
* As clerk of the royal works, riding about with money to pay whom he was at enmity, the poet, as friend and 1390, he was robbed at the Foul Oak' of £20, his horse, and protégé of the latter, may have shared in the ill-movables. The king forgave him the tzo, and the robber, who will of the duke. It is certain that, on the 4th of hanged.
had appealed by wager of battle against his accomplice, was
His character may be seen in his works. He was have been always consistent in his rhymes, or the counterpart of Shakspeare in cheerfulness and copyists may have made alterations; and we know benignity of disposition=no enemy to mirth and of no other poet of that day who was capable joviality, yet delighting in his books, and studious (none has claimed or been mentioned) of writing in the midst of an active life. He was opposed to the rejected poems. Poetical readers will not all superstition and priestly abuse, but playful in readily surrender Chaucer's right to the Romaunt his satire, with a keen sense of the ludicrous, and of the Rose, the Court of Love, or the Flower and the richest vein of comic narrative and delineation the Leaf-all fresh with the dew of youth and of character. He retained through life a strong brilliant fancy. love of the country, and of its inspiring and invig- The versification of Chaucer is various. He orating influences. No poet has dwelt more probably began with the octo-syllabic measure fondly on the charms of a spring or summer common with the French poets, as he translated morning :
the Roman de la Rose, or rather adapted it, from
the work of William de Loris and John de Meun : The busy lark, the messenger of day, Saluteth in her song the morrow gray,
of the 22,000 verses Chaucer translated 7700. The
House of Fame, an allegorical version, is in the
same measure, and contains some bold imagery
more important work, Troilus and Cressida, is in And Arcite that is in the Court Royal,
seven-line stanzas. This poem, taken from the
Filostrato of Boccaccio, has, from its pathos and
beauty, always been popular. Sir Philip Sidney
admired it. Warton and every subsequent critic The Knight's Tale.
have quoted, with just admiration, the passage May-day, the great English rural festival and in which Cressida makes an avowal of her love : Robin Hood anniversary, seems always to have And as the new abashed nightingale, been a carnival in the poet's heart. It enticed That stinteth first, when she beginneth sing, him from his studies—'farewell, my book !'-and When that she heareth any herdis tale, he is profuse in descriptions of the new green' Or in the hedges any wight stirring; of spring, the soft sweet grass,' and flowers white And, after, siker (sure) doth her voice outring : and red.' In his youth he paid homage to the
Right so Cresside, when her dread stent, luxuriant beauty of the rose, but at a later period
Opened her heart, and told him her intent. joined the French poets in adopting the mythology
The Canterbury Tales are chiefly in the heroic of the daisy.
couplet, containing five accents, and generally ten The daisy, or else the eye of day,
syllables, but in this respect Chaucer adopted the The Empress and flower of flowers all,
poetic license of lengthening or shortening the
lines. The opening of the poem, with the accents Perhaps alluding metaphorically, as Nicolas sug- marked, is as follows: gests, to some fair lady named Marguerite, as the word means either a daisy, a pearl, or a woman.
Whan that Aprillé, with his schowrés swoote,1 Chaucer's minor poems are numerous.
The drought of Marche hath percéd to the roote, cent critic-Professor Bernard Ten Brink-divides
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur,a
Of which vertue engendred is the flour ; them into three periods, though no such classifi
Whan Zephirus eek, with his sweté breeth cation can be considered certain. (1) The A.B.C.,
Enspired hath in every holtes and heeth the Romance of the Rose, and Book of the Duchess,
The tender croppés, 4 and the yongé sonne all written before the poet set out on his Italian Hath in the Ram his halfé cours i-ronne, missions in 1372. (2) The House of Fame, the And smalé fowlés maken melodie, Life of St Cecil (Second Nun's Tale), the Parlia- That slepen al the night with open yhe, ment of Birds, Troilus and Cressida, and The So priketh hem natúre in here corages ; Knight's Tale-this period ending in 1384. (3) Thanne longen folk to gon on pilgrimages, The Legend of Good Women, the Canterbury And palmers for to seeken straunge strondes Tales, and other lesser poems.
Some of the
To ferné halwes? kouthes in sondry londes ; most admired minor poems are rejected by Ten And specially, from every schirés ende Brink, Mr Bradshaw, and Mr Furnival. The Court
Of Engelond, to Canturbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seeke, of Love, the Flower and the Leaf, Chaucer's Dream,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke. and the Romance of the Rose, are considered spurious, as contravening the laws of rhyme observed The Canterbury Tales form the best and most by the poet in his genuine works. “For instance, durable monument of Chaucer's genius. Boccaccio, if in Chaucer's undoubted works you find that in his Decameron, supposes ten persons to have mal-a-dy-e, or cur-tei-si-e, is four syllables, and retired from Florence during the plague of 1348, rhymes only with other nouns in y-e or i-e, proved by derivation to be a two-syllable termination, and i Sweet, sometimes written sote and swete. with infinitives in y-e, then if you find in the
2 Such liquor or moisture.
3 Holt, a wooded hill.
• Croppés, twigs, boughs, the tops of branches. Romaunt,
5 I-ronne, sometimes yronne, for the i and y were used indiscrim
inately to denote the past participle. Thus Spenser has yclad, Sich joie anon thereof hadde I
ydrad, &c. That I forgat my maladie,
6 Hem and her were in Chaucer's time, and previously, the same you get a rhyme that is not Chaucer's.'* We can- 7 Ferné halwés, distant saints or shrines ( ferné, from fer or far: not think this test infallible. The poet may not halwés, as in Al-Hallows, &c.).
& Kouthe, or couthe, known, renowned : we still have uncouth.
9 The famous martyr, Thomas à Becket, slain in Canterbury Chaucer's Works, Aldine Edition, edited by Morris, vol. i. 267. Cathedral in 1170.
as them and their.
and there, in a sequestered villa, amused them- And though that he was worthy, he was wys,
In al his lyf, unto no maner wight. and full of characteristic painting in choice Italian.
He was a verray perfight gentil knight.
But for to telle you of his array, Chaucer seems to have copied this design, as
His hors was good, but here ne was nought gay. well as part of the Florentine's freedom and licentiousness of detail ; but he greatly improved
Of fustyan he werede a gepoun
Al bysmotered with his habergeoun. upon the plan. There is something repulsive and
For he was late ycome from his viage, unnatural' in a party of ladies and gentlemen And wente for to doon his pilgrimage. meeting to tell tales, many of them of a loose kind, while the plague is desolating the country The Knight was accompanied by his son, a around them. The tales of Chaucer have a more gay young Squire with curled locks : pleasing origin. A company of pilgrims, consisting of twenty-nine sundry folk,' meet together in
With him ther was his sone, a yong Squyer, fellowship at the Tabard Inn, Southwark, all being
A lovyer, and a lusty bacheler,
With lokkes crulle as they were layde in presse. bent on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas à
Of twenty yeer of age he was I gesse. Becket at Canterbury. These pilgrimages were
Of his stature he was of evene lengthe, scenes of much enjoyment, and even mirth; for,
And wonderly delyver, and gret of strengthe. satisfied with thwarting the Evil One by the object And he hadde ben somtyme in chivachie,? of their mission, the devotees did not consider it
In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Picardie, necessary to preserve any religious strictness or
And born him wel, as in so litel space, restraint by the way. The poet himself is one of In hope to stonden in his lady grace. the party at the Tabard. They all sup together in Embrowdid was he, as it were a mede the large room of the hostelry; and after great Al ful of fresshe floures, white and reede. cheer, the landlord proposes that they shall travel Syngynge he was, or floytynge, al the day ; together to Canterbury; and, to shorten their way, He was as fressh as is the moneth of May. that each shall tell two tales, both in going and
Schort was his goune, with sleeves longe and wyde. returning, and whoever told the best, should have
Wel cowde he sitte on hors, and faire ryde.
He cowde songes wel make and endite, a supper at the expense of the rest. The company assent, and mine host, ‘Harry Bailly'—who was
Juste 3 and eek daunce, and wel purtraye and write.
So hote he lovede, that by nightertale both 'bold of his speech, and wise and well taught'
He sleep nomore than doth a nightyngale. -is appointed to be judge and reporter of the Curteys he was, lowly, and servysable, stories. The characters composing this social And carf byforn his fadur at the table. party are inimitably drawn and discriminated. First we have the chivalrous Knight:
A yeoman was also in attendance, with his bow
and sheaf of arrows : 'a nut-head had he, with a A Knight there was, and that a worthy man, brown visage. And then we have a Nun or That from the tyme that he first bigan
Prioress, beautifully drawn in her arch simplicity To ryden out, he lovede chyvalrye,
and coy reserve: Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie. Ful worthi was he in his lordes werre,
Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse, And thereto hadde he riden, noman ferre,
That of hire smylyng was ful symple and coy; As wel in Cristendom as in hethenesse.
Hire gretteste ooth ne was but by seynt Loy;" And evere honoured for his worthinesse.
And sche was cleped madame Englentyne. At Alisandre " he was whan it was wonne,
Ful wel sche sang the servise divyne, Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bygonne
Entuned in hire nose ful semely ; Aboven alle naciouns in Pruce.
And Frensch sche spak ful faire and fetysly, In Lettowe hadde he reysed and in Ruce, 3
After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe, No cristen man so ofte of his degre.
For Frensch of Parys was to hire unknowe. In Gernade atte siege hadde he he
At mete wel i-taught was sche withalle ; Of Algesir, and riden in Belmarie.
Sche leet no morsel from hire lippes falle, At Lieys was he, and at Satalie, 4
Ne wette hire fyngres in hire sauce deepe. Whan they were wonne ; and in the Greete see
Wel cowde sche carie a morsel, and wel keepe, At many a noble arive hadde he be.
That no drope ne fil uppon hire breste. At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
In curtesie was set ful moche hire leste.7 And foughten for oure feith at Tramassene 5
Hire overlippe wypede sche so clene, In lystes thries, and ay slayn his foo.
That in hire cuppe was no ferthing® sene This ilke worthi knight hadde ben also
Of greece, whan sche dronken hadde hire draughte. Sometyme with the lord of Palatye,
Ful semely after hire mete sche raughte, Ageyn another hethene in Turkye :
And sikerly sche was of gret disport, And everemore he hadde a sovereyn prys.
And ful plesant, and amyable of port,
1 No man further.
1 Gepoun, a short cassock ; bysmotered, soiled or smutted (from 9 Alexandria. 'Why Chaucer should have chosen to bring his the Anglo-Saxon besmittan, to defile). knight from Alexandria and Lettowe rather than from Cressy and 9 Military expeditions, riding. Poitiers, is a problem difficult to resolve, except by supposing that 3 Joust, tilt. the slightest services against infidels were in those days more Night-time; tale, reckoning. honourable than the most splendid victories over Christians.' 5 Seynt Loy, a corruption of St Eligius, or perhaps another form -TYRWHITT.
of St Louis. 3 Pruce, Lettowe, Ruce-Prussia, Lithuania, Russia.
6 Stratford-le-Bow, in Middlesex. Chaucer is supposed, in this * Gernade, Granada; Algesir, Algesiras in Spain ; Belmarie, allusion to the French of the Prioress, to have sneered at the old one of the Moorish kingdoms in Africa : Lieys, in Armenia : Anglo-Norman French taught in England. Satalie, or Atalia, in Asia Minor. Both the latter were taken 7° Hire leste, her pleasure or delight. from the Turks by Pierre de Lusignan-Lieys about 1367, Atalia 8 Ferthing, fourth part, and hence a small portion.
9 Raughte, pret. of reche, reached-stretched out her hand at A Moorish kingdom in Africa. 6 High praise. table.
And peynede hire to countrefete cheere
And eek with worthi wommen of the toun : Of court, and ben estatlich of manere,
For he hadde power of confessioun, And to ben holden dignel of reverence.
As seyde himself, more than a curat, But for to speken of hire conscience,
For of his ordre he was licentiat. Sche was so charitable and so pitous,
Ful sweetely herde he confessioun, Sche wolde weepe if that sche sawe a mous
And plesaunt was his absolucioun ; Caught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.
He was an esy man to geve penance Of smale houndes hadde sche, that sche fedde
Ther as he wiste han a good pitance ; With rosted feissh, or mylk and wastel breed:?
For unto a poure ordre for to give But sore wept sche if oon of hem were deed,
Is signe that a man is wel i-schrive. 1 Or if men smot it with a yerde smerte :
For if he gaf, he dorste make avaunt, And al was conscience and tendre herte.
He wiste that a man was repentaunt.
For many a man so hard is of his herte, A Monk and a Friar are next described :
He may not wepe although him sore smerte.
Therefore in stede of wepyng and preyeres, A Monk ther was, a fair for the maistrie,
Men moot give silver to the poure freres. An out-rydere, that lovede venerye ;3
His typet was ay farsed ful of knyfes A manly man, to ben an abbot able.
And pynnes, for to give faire wyfes. Full many a deynté hors hadde he in stable;
And certaynli he hadde a mery noote ; And whan he rood, men mighte his bridel heere Wel couthe he synge and pleyen on a rote. Gynglen, in a whistlyng wynd, as cleere,
Of yeddynges ? he bar utterly the prys. And eek as lowde as doth the chapel belle.
His nekke whit was as the flour-de-lys. Ther as this lord was kepere of the selle,
Therto he strong was as a champioun. The reule of seynt Maure or of seint Beneyt,
He knew the tavernes wel in every toun, Bycause that it was old and somdel streyt,
And everych hostiller and tappestere, This ilke monk leet olde thinges pace,
Bet than a lazer, or a beggestere, And held after the newe world the space.
For unto such a worthi man as he He gaf nat of that text a pulled hen,
Acordede not, as by his faculte, That seith, that hunters been noon holy men ;
To han with sike lazars aqueyntaunce. Ne that a monk, whan he is reccheles
It is not honest, it may not avaunce, Is likned to a fissch that is waterles;
For to delen with no such poraille, This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloystre.
But al with riche and sellers of vitaille. But thilke text held he not worth an oystre.
And overal, ther as profyt schulde arise, And I seide his opinioun was good.
Curteys he was, and lowely of servyse. What schulde he studie, and make himselven wood, 6 Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous. Uppon a book in cloystre alway to powre,
He was the beste beggere in his hous, Or swynke with his handes, and laboure,
For though a widewe
hadde noght oo schoo, As Austyn byt ?? How schal the world be served ?
So plesaunt was his In principio; Lat Austyn have his swynk to him reserved.
Yet wolde he have a ferthing or he wente. Therfore he was a pricasour 8 aright ;
His purchas was wel better than his rente. Greyhoundes he hadde as swifte as fowel in flight ; And rage he couthe and pleyen as a whelpe, Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare
In love-dayes? couthe he mochel helpe. Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare.
For ther he was not like a cloysterer, I saugh his sleves purfiled atte honde
With a thredbare cope as is a poure scoler, With grys, and that the fyneste of a londe.
But he was like a maister or a pope. And for to festne his hood under his chynne
Of double worstede was his semy.cope, He hadde of gold y-wrought a curious pynne:
That rounded as a belle out of the presse. A love-knotte in the grettere ende ther was.
Somwhat he lipsede, for his wantounesse, His heed was ba'led, and schon as eny glas,
To make his Englissch swete upon his tunge ; And eek his face as he hadde ben anoynt.
And in his harpyng, whan that he hadde sunge, He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt;
His eyghen twynkeld in his heed aright, His eyen steepe, and rollyng in his heede,
As don the sterres in the frosty night.
This worthi lymytour was cleped Huberd.
Then follows a merchant'with a forked beard,'
sitting high on his horse, and with a Flanders The Friar was also a genial churchman :
beaver hat on his head-a worthy man.
In conA Frere ther was, a wantoun and a merye,
trast to these favourites of fortune is a poor A lymytour," a ful solempne man.
A Clerk ther was of Oxenford also,
That unto logik hadde longe i-go. Of yonge wymmen, at his owne cost.
As lene was his hors as is a rake, Unto his ordre he was a noble post.
And he was not right fat, I undertake ; Ful wel biloved and famulier was he
But lokede holwe, and therto soberly. With frankeleyns over-al in his cuntre,
Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy, 8
For he hadde geten him yit no benefice, 1 Digne, worthy.
2 Bread made of the finest flour. Ne was so worldly for to have office. 3 Hunting
4 Somewhat strict. 5 Pulled hen; he cared not a moulting or worthless hen for the
1 Well shriven or confessed. text: 6 Wood or wud, mad or foolish.
2 Yeddynges, songs, the gleeman's songs. 7 Swynke, work as St Austin bid. 8 Pricasour, a hard rider. 3 Better than a leper or a beggar. 4 Poraille, poor people. 9 Purfiled with grys, worked at the edge with fur.
8 Nought but one shoe. 10 Shone as a furnace under a caldron.
6 In principie erat Verbum, the beginning of St John's Gospel, 11 A friar licensed to ask alms within a certain limit.-Morris. which the priest was enjoined to read.
12 The four orders were the Franciscans or Gray Friars, the ? Love-days were days fixed for settling differences by umpire, Augustin Friars, the Dominicans or Black Friars, and the Car- without having recourse to law or violence. -MORRIS. melites or White Friars.
8 Coarse upper coat.