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For him was lever have at his beddes heede
Uppon an amblere esily sche sat, Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reede,
Ywymplid wel, and on hire heed an hat Of Aristotle and his philosophie,
As brood as is a bocler or a targe ; Then robes riche, or fithel,' or gay sawtrie.
A foot-mantel aboute hire hipes large, But al be that he was a philosophre,
And on hire feet a paire of spores scharpe. Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre ;
In felawschipe wel cowde sche lawghe and carpe. But al that he mighte of his frendes hente,
Of remedyes of love 1 sche knew perchaunce,
For of that art sche couthe the olde daunce.
A Sergeant of Law, 'discreet and of great reverOf studie took he most cure and most heede.
ence,' is portrayed : Not oo word spak he more than was neede, And that was seid in forme and reverence,
No where so besy a man as he ther nas, And schort and quyk, and ful of high sentence.
And yit he seemed besier than he was. Sownynge in moral vertu was his speche,
Chaucer has many satires on the clergy, but he And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.
gives one redeeming sketch--that of a poor A Franklin, or freeholder was in the company,
Parson : 'Epicurus' own son,' a great householder:
A good man was ther of religioun, His breed, his ale, was alway after oon ;3
And was a poure Parsoun of a toun; A bettre envyned* man was nowher noon.
But riche he was of holy thought and werk. Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous,
He was also a lerned man, a clerk Or fleissch and fissch, and that so plentyvous,
That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche ; It snewede in his hous of mete and drynke,
His parischens devoutly wolde he teche. Of alle deyntees that men cowdé thynke.
Benigne he was, and wonder diligent, After the sondry sesouns of the yeer,
And in adversité ful pacient; So chaungede he his mete and his soper.
And such he was i-proved ofte sithes.3 Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in mewe,
Ful loth were him to curse for his tythes, And many a brem and many a luce in stewe.
But rather wolde he geven out of dowte, Woo was his cook, but-if his sauce were
Unto his poure parisschens aboute, Poynaunt and scharp, and redy all his gere.
Of his offrynge, and eek of his substaunce. His table dormant in his halle alway
He cowde in litel thing han suffisaunce. Stood redy covered al the longe day.
Wyd was his parisch, and houses fer asоnder,
But he ne lafte not * for reyne ne thonder, This character is a fine picture of the wealthy
In siknesse nor in meschief to visite rural Englishman, and it shews how much of enjoy- The ferreste in his parissche, moche and lite, ment and hospitality was even then associated Uppon his feet, and in his hond a staf. with this station of life. The Wife of Bath is an
This noble ensample to his scheep he gaf,
That first he wroughte, and after that he taughte, other lively national portrait ; she is shrewd and
Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte, witty, has abundant means, and is always first
And this figure he addede eek therto, with her offering at church.
That if gold ruste, what schal yren do? A good Wif was ther of byside Bathe,
For if a prest be foul, on whom we truste, But sche was somdel deef, and that was skathe.
No wonder is a lewed 6 man to ruste ; Of cloth-makyng she hadde such an haunt,
He sette not his benefice to hyre, Sche passede hem of Ypres and of Gaunt.?
And leet his scheep encombred in the myre, In al the parisshe wyf ne was ther noon
And ran to Londone, unto seynte Poules, That to the offryng byforn hire schulde goon, 8
To seeken him a chaunterie for soules, And if ther dide certeyn so wroth was sche,
Or with a bretherhede to ben withholde ; That sche was out of alle charité.
But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde, Hire keverchefs ful syne weren of grounde ;
So that the wolf ne made it not myscarye. I durste swere they weygheden ten pounde
He was a schepherde and no mercenarie ; That on a Sonday were upon hire heed.
And though he holy were, and vertuous, Hire hosen weren of fyn scarlett reed,
He was to sinful man nought dispitous, Ful streyte y-teyd, and schoos ful moyste and newe.
Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne,? Bold was hire face, and fair, and reed of hewe.
But in his teching discret and benigne. Sche was a worthy womman al hire lyfe,
To drawe folk to heven by fairnesse, Husbondes at chirch dore sche hadde fyfe,
By good ensample, this was his busynesse : Withouten other companye in youthe ;
But it were eny persone obstinat, But therof needeth nought to speke as nouthe.'
What so he were, of high or lowe estat, And thries hadde sche ben at Jerusalem ;
Him wolde he snybbe scharply for the nones. 8 Sche hadde passed many a straunge streem ;
A bettre preest I trowe ther nowher non is. At Rome sche hadde ben, and at Boloyne,
He waytede after no pompe and reverence, In Galice at seynt Jame, 10 and at Coloyne.
Ne makede him a spiced conscience, Sche cowde moche of wandryng by the weye.
But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve, Gattothed 11 was sche, sothly for to seye.
He taughte, and first he folwede it himselve. i Fiddle.
We have a pardoner from Rome, with some ? To attend school. 3 Oon, one. 4 Stored with wine,
sacred relics--as part of the Virgin Mary's veil, 5 The luce is the pike. 6 .
7. The west of England was famous for cloth-making, and the and part of the sail of St Peter's ship-and who is good wife surpassed even the manufactures of Ypres and Ghent, the great continental marts.
1 An allusion to Ovid's De Remedio Amoris. & The offering in church on relic Sunday,'when the congrega- 9 Nas, ne was, was not. tion went up to the altar to kiss the relics. -MORRIS.
4 Left or ceased not. • To speak now, at present.
5 Lewd was unlearned or ignorant. 19 In Galicia, where the body of St James was interred.
6 St Paul's had thirty-five chantries or endowments for priests 11 Gat-toothed, having teeth with gaps between, or goat-toothed, to sing masses. denoting lasciviousness.
7 Not high or haughty. 8 Snub sharply for the occasion.
also 'brimful of pardons come from Rome all hot.? her to quit his house to make room for a new
*And of your new wife God of his grace church apparitor, who summoned offenders before
So grant you weal and prosperité ; the archdeacon's court, but whose fire-red face For I will gledly yielden her my place, and licentious habits contrast curiously with the In which that I was blissful wont to be. nature of his duties. A shipman, cook, haber- For sith it liketh you, my lord,' quod she, dasher, &c. make up the goodly company-the “That whilom were all mine herte's rest, whole forming such a genuine Hogarthian picture, That I shall gon, I will go whan you list. that we may exclaim, in the eloquent language of
'But thereas ye profre me such dowayre Campbell : What an intimate scene of English
As I first brought, it is well in my mind life in the fourteenth century do we enjoy in these
It were my wretched clothes, no thing fair, tales, beyond what history displays by glimpses The which to me were hard now for to find. through the stormy atmosphere of her scenes, or O good God! how gentle and how kind the antiquary can discover by the cold light of his Ye seemed by your speech and your visage researches ! Chaucer's contemporaries and their The day that makèd was our marriage !' successors were justly proud of this national work.
Griselde, the 'flower of wifely patience,' goes to Many copies existed in manuscript (a six-text
her father's house. edition is now in progress);* and when the art of her husband, sends for her, declares that he has
But at length the marquis, printing came to England, one of the primary been merely playing an assumed part, that he duties of Caxton's press was to issue an impres- I will have no other wife, nor ever had, and she is sion of those inimitable creations. All the pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales do not
introduced to her two children whom she believed
dead : relate stories. Chaucer had not, like Boccaccio, finished his design ; for he intended, as we have When she this heard, aswoone down she falleth said, to have given a second series on the return For piteous joy ; and after her swooning of the company from Canterbury, as well as an She both her young children to her calleth, account of the transactions in the city when they
And in her armés piteously weeping, reached the sacred shrine. The concluding
Embraceth them, and tenderly kissing supper at the Tabard, when the successful com
Full like a mother, with her salte tears
She bathed both her visage and her hairs. petitor was to be declared, would have afforded a rich display for the poet's peculiar humour. O such a piteous thing it was to see The parties who do not relate tales—as the poem Her swooning and her humble voice to hear! has reached us—are the yeoman, the plough- Grand mercy, lord ! God thank it you,' quoth she, man, and the five city mechanics. Like Shak- *That ye have saved me my children dear : speare, Chaucer was content to borrow most of Now reck I never to be dead right here the outlines of his plots or stories. The Knight's
Since I stand in your love and in your grace, Tale—the most chivalrous and romantic of the
No force of death, nor when my spirit pace. series—is founded on the Theseida of Boccaccio.
'O tender, dear, young children mine! The Clerk's Tale, so touching in its simplicity and Your woful mother weened steadfastly, pathos, has also an Italian origin. The Clerk That cruel houndes or some foul vermin says :
Had eaten you ; but God of his mercy,
And your benign father tenderly Lerned at Padowe of a worthy clerk, ..
Hath done you keep ;' and in that same stound
All suddenly she swapped down to ground.
And in her swoon so sadly holdeth she
Her children two, when she gan them embrace, The tale thus learned is the pathetic story of
That with great sleight and great difficulty
The children from her arm they gan arrace.1 Patient Griselde, which was written by Boccaccio,
O many a tear or many a piteous face and only translated into Latin by Petrarch. It
Down ran of them that stooden her beside ; appears that Petrarch did not translate this tale
Unnethe2 abouten her might they abide. from Boccaccio's Decameron until the end of September 1373, and Chaucer was in England on The happy ending of the story, and the husband's the 22d of November following, as is proved by declaration : his having that day received his pension in person.
I have done this deed But whether or not the two poets ever met, the For no malice, ne for no cruelty, Italian journey of Chaucer, and the fame and But for t' assay thee in thy womanhoodworks of Petrarch, must have fired the ambition of the accomplished Englishman, and greatly refined will not reconcile the reader to his marital experiand elevated his literary taste. As a model or ment; but such tales appear to have been more example of wifely obedience and implicit faith, suited to the ideas of the spinsters and knitters this story of Griselde long kept up its celebrity, in the sun' in the old age.' The Squire's Tale, both in prose and verse. The husband of Gris- 'the story of Cambuscan bold,' by which Milton elde certainly carried his trial of his wife's sub- characterises Chaucer, has not been traced to any
other source. For two of his stories—the Man of mission to the last extremity-worse even than the trial of the Nut-Brown Maid-when he ordered Law's Tale, and the Wife of Bath's Tale, Chaucer
was indebted to the Confessio Amantis of his con
temporary Gower. Boccaccio was laid under con* Much has been done to elucidate the works of the Father of tribution for other outlines, but the influence of English Poetry by Mr R. Morris, the Rev. Mr Skeat, Mr Ellis, Mr Furnival, and the Chaucer Society. They may be said to have given quite a revival to the old poet.
1 Tear away by force.
French literature was perhaps more predominant Came riding like the god of arms, Mars. with the poet than that of Italy. The Prioress's His coat-armour was of cloth of Tars, Tale, the scene of which is laid in Asia, is supposed
Couched with pearls white, and round, and great ; to be taken from some legend of the miracles of the
His saddle was of brent gold new i-beat ; Virgin, 'one of the oldest of the many stories,
A mantelet upon his shoulders hanging
Bret-ful of rubies red, as fire sparkling. which have been propagated at different times,
His crisp hair like rings was i-run to excite or justify several merciless persecutions
And that was yellow and glittered in the sun of the Jews upon the charge of murdering Chris
His nose was high, his eyen bright citron, tian children. The Nun's Priest's Tale (contain
His lippes round, his colour was sanguine. ing the fable of the cock and the fox) and the A few freckles in his face i-sprent. Merchant's Tale (modernised by Pope) have some Betwixt yellow and somedel black i-ment, minute painting of natural objects and scenery And as a lion he his looking cast. in Chaucer's clear and simple style. The tales Of five and twenty year his age I cast. of the Miller and Reve are coarse, but richly
His beard was well beginnen for to spring; humorous.
His voice was as a trump thundering.
Upon his heed he weared of laurel green
Upon his hand he bare for his delight,
An eagle tame, as any lily white.
An hundred lords had he with him there,
All armed safe, their heads in their gear, Was whilom dwelling in a narwé cottage
Full richly in all manner things Beside a grove standing in a dale.
For trusteth well that dukes, earls, kings This widow, which I tell you of my tale,
Were gathered in this noble company, Since thilke day that she was last a wife,
For love, and for increase of chivalry. In patience led a full simple life,
About this king there ran on every part
Full many a tame lion and leopart.
Emily.- From the Knight's Tale.
mo, Three kine, and eke a sheep that hight Mall :
Thus passeth year by year, and day by day, Full sooty was her bower and eke her hall,
Till it fell once on a morrow of May, In which she ate full many a slender meal ;
That Emily, that fairer was to seen Of poignant sauce her needed never a deal ;
Than is the lily upon her stalk green, No dainty morsel passed through her throat;
And fresher than the May with floures newHer diet was accordant to her coat :
For with the rose colour strove her hue, Repletion ne made her never sick;
I n'ot which was the fairer of them twoAttemper diet was all her physic,
Ere it was day, as it was her wont to do, And exercise, and heartés suffisance :
She was arisen, and all ready dightThe goute let her nothing for to dance,
For May will have no sluggardie a-night. Ne apoplexy shente’ not her head ;
The season pricketh every gentle heart, No wine ne drank she neither white nor red ;
And maketh him out of his sleepé start, Her board was served most with white and black, And saith : 'Arise, and do thine observance !' Milk and brown bread, in which she found no lack, This maketh Emily have remembrance Seinde 3 bacon, and sometime an egg or tway,
To do honour to May, and for to rise, For she was as it were a manner dey."
Y clothed was she fresh for to devise. A yard she had, enclosed all about
Her yellow hair was braided in a tress, With sticks, and a dry ditch without,
Behind her back, a yardé long, I guess ; In which she had a cock hight Chanticleer,
And in her garden, as the sun uprist, In all the land, of crowing n'as his peer.
She walked up and down, and as her list, His voice was merrier than the merry organ,
She gathereth floures, party white and red, On massé-days that in the churché gon;
To make a sotil2 garland for her head ;
And as an angel heavenly she sung!
The Death of Arcite.-From the same. For when degrees fifteen were ascended,
Swelleth the breast of Arcite, and the sore Then crew he that it might not be amended.
Encreaseth at his hearte more and more. ... His comb was redder than the fine coral,
All is to-bursten thilke region ; And 'battled as it were a castle wall ;
Nature hath now no domination : His bill was black, and as the jet it shone ;
And certainly where nature will not werche,? Like azure were his legs and his ton ;6
Farewell physic; go bear the man to church. His nails whiter than the lily flower,
This is all and some, that Arcite muste die ; And like the burnished gold was his coloúr.
For which he sendeth after Emily,
And Palamon, that was his cousin dear ;
Then said he thus, as ye shall after hear :
Nought may the woful spirit in mine heart The great Emetrius, the king of Inde,
Declare one point of all my sorrows' smart Upon a steed bay, trapped in steel
To you, my lady, that I love most. Covered with cloth of gold, diapered well,
But I bequeath the service of my ghost
To you aboven every creature, 1 Hindered.
3 Singed or broiled. 4 Mr Tyrwhitt supposed the word 'dey' to refer to the manage.
Since that my life ne may no longer dure. ment of a dairy. Mr Morris states that, in the statute 37 Edward
• Alas the woe! alas the paines strong, III. (1363), the deye is mentioned among others of a certain rank, That I for you have suffered, and so long! not having goods or chattels of forty shillings value. Sures, 6 Toes.
1 Subtle, artfully contrived
Alas the death ! alas mine Emily!
'I have here with my cousin Palamon
And with that word his speeche fail began; For from his feet up to his breast was come The cold of death that had him overnome ; 3 And yet, moreover, in his armes two, The vital strength is lost and all ago ;* Only the intellect, withouten more, That dwelled in his hearte sick and sore, 'Gan faillen when the hearte felte death ; Dusked his eyen two, and failed his breath : But on his lady yet cast he his eye ; His laste word was : ‘Mercy, Emily!'
• Thou saw'st thy child yslain before thine eyen,
O little child, alas! what is thy guilt,
Therewith she looketh backward to the land,
Victailled was the ship, it is no drede, Abundantly for her a full long space ; And other necessaries that should need She had enow, heried be Goddess grace : For wind and weather, Almighty God purchase, And bring her home, I can no better say, But in the sea she driveth forth her way.
Love.-From the Franklin's Tale. For one thing, sirs, safely dare I say, That friends ever each other must obey If they will longe holden company : Love will not be constrained by mastery. When mastery cometh, the god of Love anon Beateth his wings and, farewell! he is gone. * Love is a thing as any spirit free. Women of kind desiren liberty, And not to be constrained as a thrall ; And so do men if soothly I say shall. Look who that is most patient in love He is at his advantage all above; Patience is a high virtue certain, For it vanquisheth, as these clerks say'n, Things that rigour never should attain ; For every word men should not chide or plain. Learneth to suffren or else, so might I gon Ye shall it learn whether ye will or non.
Departure of Custancı.- From the Man of Law's Tale.
Custance is banished from her husband, Alla, king of Northumberland, in consequence of the treachery of the king's mother. Her behaviour in embarking at sea, in a rudderless ship, is thus described :
Weepen both young and old in all that place
'He that me kepté from the false blame,
Her little child lay weeping in her arm ;
The Fairies driven out by the Friars.
From the Wife of Bath's Tale. In oldé dayés of the King Arthur Of which that Britons speaken great honour, All was this land fulfilled of Faery ; The elf-queen with her jolly company, Danced full oft in many a green mead : This was the old opinion as I read; I speak of many hundred years ago, But now can no man see none elves mo; For now the great charity and prayers Of limiters and other holy friars, That searchen every land and every stream, As thick as motes in the sun-beam, Blessing halls, chambers, kitchens and bowers, Cities and boroughs; castles high, and towers, Thorps, barns, sheepens, and dairies, That maketh that there be no faéries : For there as wont was to walken an elf, There walketh now the limiter himself,
| By my faith.
3 Have pity. 4 Destroyed. 5 Doubt.
6 Praised. 7 Procure, provide. Pope imitated this in his Eloisa to Abelard:
Love free as air, at sight of human ties
In undermeales and in morrowings,
clepeth Cassiodore, poverty the mother of ruin, that is And saith his matins and his holy things
to sayn, the mother of overthrowing or falling down ; As he goeth in his limitation.
and therefore saith Piers Alphonse : One of the greatest Women may now go safely up and down ;
adversities of the world is when'a free man by kind, or In every bush or under every tree,
of birth, is constrained by poverty to eaten the alms of There is none other incubus but he.
And the same saith Innocent in one of his books; he saith that sorrowful and mishappy is the con
dition of a poor beggar, for if he ax not his meat he Good Counsel of Chaucer.*
dieth of hunger, and if he ax he dieth for shame ; and Flee from the press and dwell with soothfastness,
algates necessity constraineth him to ax ; and therefore Suffice thee thy good though it be small,
saith Solomon : That better it is to die than for to have For hoard hath hate, and climbing tickleness;
such poverty; and, as the same Solomon saith : Better Press hath envy, and weal is blent o'er all.
it is to die of bitter death, than for to liven in such wise. Savour no more than thee behoven shall;
By these reasons that I have said unto you, and by Do well thyself that other folk canst read,
many other reasons that I could say, I grant you that And truth thee shall deliver, 'tis no dread.
riches ben good to 'em that well geten 'em, and to him
that well usen tho' riches; and therefore wol I shew Pain thee not each crooked to redress
you how ye shulen behave you in gathering of your In trust of her that turneth as a ball,
riches, and in what manner ye shulen usen 'em. Great rest standeth in little business,
First, ye shuln geten 'em withouten great desire, by Beware also to spurn an nalle.
good leisure, sokingly, and not over hastily, for a man Strive not as doth a crock with a wall,
that is too desiring to get riches abandoneth him first to Daunt thyself that dauntest others deed,
theft and to all other evils; and therefore saith Solomon : And truth thee shall deliver, 'tis no dread.
He that hasteth him too busily to wax rich, he shall be
non innocent: he saith also, that the riches that hastily That thee is sent receive in buxomness,
cometh to a man soon and lightly goeth and passeth from The wrestling of this world asketh a fall;
a man, but that riches that cometh little and little waxeth Here is no home, here is but wilderness,
alway and multiplieth. And, sir, ye shuln get riches by Forth, pilgrim, forth ! best out of thy stall.
your wit and by your travail, unto your profit, and that Look up on high, and thank God of all;
withouten wrong or harm doing to any other person; for Waive thy lust, and let thy ghost thee lead,
the law saith : There maketh no man himself rich, if he And truth shall thee deliver, 'tis no dread.
do harm to another wight; that is to say, that Nature Two of the Canterbury Tales are in prose—the defendeth and forbiddeth by right, that no man make him"Tale of Melibeus' and the ‘Persone's (Parson's) self rich unto the harm of another person. And Tullius Tale. A long allegorical and meditative work, that may fall unto a man, is so muckle agains nature as
saith : That no sorrow, ne no dread of death, ne nothing the Testament of Love, an imitation of Boethius' De Consolatione Philosophie, has been ascribed to And though the great men and the mighty men getten
a man to increase his own profit to harm of another man. Chaucer, but its genuineness is doubted, if not riches more lightly than thou, yet shalt thou not ben disproved. The poet, however, wrote in prose a idle ne slow to 'do thy profit, for thou shalt in all translation of Boethius, and a work on the Astro- wise flee idleness ; for Solomon saith : That idleness labe, addressed to his son Lewis.
teacheth a man to do many evils; and the same Solomon saith : That he that travaileth and busieth him
self to tillen his lond, shall eat bread, but he that is On Gathering and Using Riches.-From the ' Tale of idle, and casteth him to no business ne occupation, Melibeus.'
shall fall into poverty, and die for hunger. And When Prudence had heard her husband avaunt him he that is idle and slow can never find convenable self of his riches and of his money, dispreising the time for to do his profit; for there is a versifier saith, power of his adversaries, she spake and said in this wise: that the idle man excuseth him in winter because of Certes, dear sir
, I grant you that ye ben rich and the great cold, and in summer then by encheson of the mighty, and that riches ben good to 'em that han wellheat. For these causes, saith Caton, waketh and inygetten 'em, and that well can usen 'em; for, right as
clineth you not over muckle to sleep, for over muckle the body of a man may not liven withouten soul, no
rest nourisheth and causeth many vices ; and therefore more may it liven withouten temporal goods, and by saith St Jerome: Doeth some good deeds, that the riches may a man get him great friends; and therefore devil, which is our enemy, ne find you not unoccupied, saith Pamphilus : If a neatherd's daughter be rich, she for the devil he taketh not ligḥtly unto his werking such may chese of a thousand men which she wol take to her as he findeth occupied in good werks. husband; for of a thousand men one wol not forsaken
Then thus in getting riches ye musten flee idleness ; her ne refusen her. And this Pamphilus saith also : If and afterward ye shuln usen the riches which ye han thou be right happy, that is to sayn, if thou be right rich, geten by your wit and by your travail
, in such manner, thou shalt
find a great number of fellows and friends; than men hold you not too scarce, né too sparing, ne and if thy fortune change, that thou wax poor, farewell fool-large, that is to say, over large a spender ; for right friendship and fellowship, for thou shalt be all alone as men blamen an avaricious man because of his scarcity withouten any company, but if' it be the company of and chinchery, in the same wise he is to blame that poor folk. And yet saith this Pamphilus, moreover, spendeth over largely ; and therefore saith Caton: Use that they that ben bond and thrall of linage shuln be (saith he) the riches that thou hast ygeten in such made worthy and noble by riches. And right so as by manner, that men have no matter ne cause to call thee riches there comen many goods, right so by poverty to have a poor heart and a rich purse ; he saith also :
nother wretch ne chinch, for it is a great shame to a man come there many harms and evils ; and therefore The goods that thou hast ygeten, use 'em by measure,
that is to sayn, spend measureably, for they that folily 1 After the meal of dinner and in the mornings. The allusion to the zeal of the friars is evidently ironical.
wasten and despenden the goods that they han, when : In one of the Cottonian MSS. (among those destroyed by fire). they han no more proper of 'eir own, that they shapen this poem was described as made by Chaucer upon his death-bed 'em to take the goods of another man. I say, then, that out that statement in two other manuscripts. The copies differ ye shuln flee avarice, using your riches in such manner,
that men sayen not that your riches ben yburied, but • Except.
that ye have 'em in your might and in your wielding ;