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No doun of fetheres ne no bleched shete
Vnforged was the hawberke and the plate;
The lambish peple, voided of al vyce, 50
Hadden no fantasye to debate,
But eche of hem wolde other wel cheryce;
No pryde, non enuye, non auaryce,
No lord, no taillage by no tira1mye.
Humblesse and pees, good feith the emperyce,
[Fulfilled erthe of olde curteisye].
Yit was not Jupiter the likerous,
That first was fader of delicacye,
Come in this world; ne Nembroth, desirous
To regnen, had nat maad his toures hye. 60
Allas, allas, now may men wepe and crye,
For in our dayes nis but couetyse,
Doublenesse, and tresoun, and enuye,
Poison, manslaughtre, and. mordre in sundry wyse.
Line 46. Kid, made known. 47. Al oon, all one, united, without the gall of •nvy. 56. A line is here lost in both MSS., and is supplied from conjecture. Chaucer uses to fulfil of where we now say to fill full with. 59. Nembroth. Nimrod; the usual old spelling. The reference is to his building of Babylon. 6}. The accent is on the first syllable of the line, as in other places; we need not supply And at the beginning, though it would then sound better to modern ears.
BALLADE DE VISAGE SAUNS PEYNTURE.
THIS wreched worldes transmutacion,
Yet ys me lefte the sighte of my resoun,
0 Socrates, thou stedfast champion,
1 knowe hir eke a fals dissimuloure,
LA RESPONS DU FORTUNE AU PLEINTIF.
No man is wrechched but himselfe yt wene,
1 This line is quoted by the Persone in his tale as' a newe Frensche song.'—See vol. ii. p. 269.
2 See also The Romaunt of the Rote, vol. iv. p. 185, note 3.
"That is,' Thy violence (redeur) is not to be accounted of by one who has the mastery over himself.'
Sey thus:—' Graunt mercy of thyn habundaunce
I have the taught divisioun betwene
How many have I refused to sustene,
LE PLEINTIF ENCOUNTRE FORTUNE.
Thy loor I dampne! hit is adversite!
1 That is, 'Friend in reality and friend in appearance only.' This idea is taken from Boethins, and occurs also in the Bom. of the Rose.—Se£ vol. iv. p. 185, n' te J.
2 It appears that the gall of a hyena was a cure for sore eyes.
3 ' Your anchor still holdeth.' The poet here compares the 'best friend,' to whom frequent allusion is made, to an anchor.
4 That is, ' The wholesome lesson which I teach is sufficient to counterbalance the affliction you suffer.'
* That is,' The friends whose friendship depends on the favours of Fortune to its object.'
The negardes in kepinge hir richesse,
FORTUNE ENCOUNTRE LE PLEINTIF.
Thou pynchest at my mutabilite,
For I thee lent a drope of my rychesse;
And now me liketh to withdrawe me,
Why shuldest thou my royaltee oppresse?
The see may ebbe and flowe more and lesse;
The welkene hath myghte to shine, reyn, and hayle;
Eight so mote I kythe my brotelnesse,
In general this rule may nat fayle.
Loo, thexecucion of the Mageste
LENVOYE DU FORTUNE.
Princes! I pray yow of your gentilesse
1 That is, 'Their niggardliness [negardes] in not imparting their riches to the poet is a prognostic that Fortune is about to become their enemy, just as an unnaturally greedy appetite is an omen of approaching sickness.'
2 Interesse appears to be a noun formed from the Lat. interesse, to have a part in a business. Fortune says that she will not cease to have a part in the affairs of men till the final day of doom, when all shall be judged by their merits.
* Who this best friend may have been it is impossible to determine: A GOODLY BALLADE OP CHAUCER.
TIT OTHER of norture, best beloved of alle,
-L'-*- And freshe floure, to whom good thrift God
Your child, if it luste you me so to calle, [sende!
Al be I unable my selfe so to pretende,
To your discrecion I recommende
Mine herte and al, with every circumstance,
Al holly to be under your governaunce.
Most desire I, and have and ever shal,
Mieulx un in herte which never shal appalle,1
Daisye of light, very ground of comfort,"
it may have been John of Gaunt, Edward III., Richard II., or Henry IV. The poem is evidently a delicate form of petition to him, whoever he may be, and to the Council, for promotion or pecuniary assistance.
1 That is,' Better one whose love willneverpall,' or become changed by fruition.
3 The lady's name was evidently Margaret, which means in French a daisy, perhaps the Lady Margaret, Countess of Pembroke, the great patroness of learning.—See vol. iv. p. j6j, note 2.