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Of the rude night that with his boistous wede
Of darkenesse shadoweth our emispere,
Than closen ye, my lives ladie dere!

Dawening the Day to his kinde resort,
And Phebus your father with his stremes rede
Adorneth the morrow, consuming the sort
Of inistie cloudes that wolden overlede
Trewe humble hertes with hir mistyhede,
Nere comfort a-dayes, whan1 eyen clere
Disclose and sprede my lives ladye dere,

Je vouldray—but grete God disposeth
And maketh casuel, by his providence,
Suche thing as mannes frele witte purposeth,
Al for the best, if that your conscience
Not grucche it, but in humble pacience
It receive: for God seyth, withoute fable,
A feythful2 herte ever is acceptable.

Cautels who so useth gladly, gloseth;

To eschewe soch it is right high prudence;

What ye sayd ones mine herte opposeth,

That my writing japes in your absence

Plesed you moche better thanne my presence:

Yet can I more; ye be not excusable,

A faithfull herte ever is acceptable.

Quaketh my penne; my spirit supposeth
That in my writing ye fynde wol some offence;
Min herte welkeneth thus; anon it riseth;

1 If we read of the daye, instead of a dayes, and whos instead of whan, this stanza will become intelligible. It will then mean, 'As soon as Day rises into his natural place, and your father Phoebus adorns the morning with his rosy beams, consuming the throng of clouds which, were it not for the comfort of Day, whose clear eyes disclose my lady dear to my sight, would overlade true hearts with their mistiness, I would—' The poet here breaks off by an expressive aposiopesis. [For And Phebus read Dan Phebus; and stop at dere.— W.W.S.]

"Til • allusion is to the promises made in the Kew Testament to the Christian grace of faith.

Now hotte, now colde, and efte in fervence:1
That misse is, is caused of negligence,
And not of malice; therefore beth merciahle:
A faithfull herte ever is acceptable.


Forth compleynt! forth lacking eloquence!
Forth little letter, of enditing lame!
I have besought my ladies sapience
Of thy behalfe, to accept in game
Thine inabilitie; doe thou the same:
Abide! have more yet!—Je serve Joyesse.
Now forth I close thee in holy Venus name!
Thee shall unclose my hertes governeresse.


SOMETYME this worlde was so stedfast and stable.
That mannis worde was holde obligacioun;5
And nowe it is so fals and deseyvable,
That worde and werke, as in conclusioun,
Been noothyng oon; for turnid up so downe
Is all this worlde, thorowe mede and wylfulnesse,"
That al is loste for lacke of stedfastnesse.

What make this worlde to be so variable
But luste, that folke have in dissension?
For nowe adayes a man is holde unable,

1 Compare vol. i. p. i37, note 4.

* It appears that even in the fourteenth century there were persons who lamented the degeneracy of modern days, and sighed for a return of the' good old times.'

'That is,' Through the prevalence of bribery and wilfulness.'

But yf he can, by some collusion,
Do his neyghboure wronge or oppression.
What causithe this but wilful wrecchednesse,
That al is loste for lack of stedfastnesse?

Trowthe is put downe, resoun is holden fable;

Vertu hathe nowe no domination;

Pite exiled, no wight is merciable;

Thorowe covetyse is blente discretion;

The worlde hathe made permutation

From right to wronge, from trowthe to fekylnesse,

That al is lost for lacke of stedfastnesse.


O Prince desire to be honourable;
Cherishe thy folke, and hate extorcioun;
Suffre noothing that may be reprovable
To thyn estate, done in thy regyoun ;1
Shewe forthe the sworde of castigacioun;
Drede God, do lawe, love thorow worthinesse,
And wedde thi folke" ageyne to stedfastnesse.



TO yow my purse and to noon other wighte
Complayne I, for ye be my lady dere!
I am so sory now that ye been lyghte,

1 That is, 'Suffer not anything prejudicial to thine estate to he Jotie,' &c.

2 The Harl. MS., 7333, reads, drive thi peple; the reading in the text, which is much better, is from Fairfax MS. 16".

3 In the Harl. MS. 7333, this little poem is called A Supplication to King Richard, by Chaucer, but the Envoy manifestly applies to Henry IV. If, therefore, it be really Chaucer's, it must have been written in the last year of his life, just after the accession of his patron's sqn, when we know he was in difficulties.—See Life, vol. i. p. 3o.

For, certes yf ye make me hevy chere,
Me were as leef be layde upon my bere.
For whiche unto your mercy thus I crye,
Beeth hevy ageyne, or elles mote I die!

Now voucheth sauf this day, or hyt be nyghte,
That I of yow the blissful soune may here,
Or see your colour lyke the sunne bryghte,
That of yelownesse hadde never pere.
Ye be my lyf! ye be myn hertys stere!
Queue of comfort and good companye!
Beth hevy ayeyne, or elles moote I dye!

Now, purse! that ben to me my lyves lyghte,

And saveour as doune in this worlde here,

Oute of this toune helpe me thurgh your myghte,

Syn that you wole not bene my tresorere;

For I am shave as nye as is a frere.1

But I pray unto your curtesye,

Bethe hevy ayeyne, or elles moote I dye!


O conquerour of Brutes Albyon,"
Whiche that by lygne and free election,
Been verray Kynge,3 this song to yow I sende,
And ye that mowen alle myn harme amende,
Have mynde upon my supplicacion.

1 That is, 'I am as bare of money as the tonsure of a friar is of hair,'—a very ludicrous simile.

2 In Geoffrey of Monmouth's History, which professes to be translated from an ancient British original, the British are said to be descended from the fugitive Trojans, who, under a chief of the name of Brutus, took refuge in this island. From this Brutus the line of British kings is traced to Cadwallader, who flourished in the seventh century after Christ. The Poet here calls England Brutes Albyon, or Brutus' Albion, as being its most ancient and honourable title.

3 In Henry IV.'s proclamation to the people of England he founds his title on conquest, hereditary right, and election; and from this inconsistent and absurd document Chaucer no doubt took his cue.



"|?LE fro the pres and dwel with sothfastnesse;
J- Suffise thin owen thing thei it be smal;
For hord hath hate, and clymbyng tykelnesse:
Prees hath envye, and wele blent overal.2
Savour3 no more than the by hove schal;
Keul wel thi self that other folk canst rede,
And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede.

Tempest4 the nought al croked to redresse,
In trust of hire that toumeth as a bal ;5
Mych wele6 stant in litel besynesse,
Bywar therfor to spurne agheyns an al.7
Stryve not as doth the crokke with the wal.8
Daunte9 thi self that dauntest otheres dede;
And trouthe shal delyvere, it is no drede.

That the is sent, receyve in buxhumnesse;
The wrestlyng for the worlde axeth10 a fal.
Her is non home, her nys but wyldernesse.
Forth, pylgrym, forth! forth, beste, out of thi

Know thi contre, loke up, thonk God of al.
Hold the hey wey 11 and lat thi gost the lede,
And trouthe shal delyvere, it is no drede.

1 [Besides the copy In Add. MSS. 10,340 from which this version is taken, there is another in the Cottonian collection, and a third in the Cambridge Library which give some variations. The poem is said to have been made by Chaucer 'upon his death-bed, lying in his anguish.']

2 [Wealth, above all things, blinds (people).]

* [Taste what is pleasant.]

« [Cambr. MS. reads Peyne.] » [I.e. Fortune.]

« [Cott. MS. reads Grete rest. Cambr. MS. Fore gret retQ

* [I.e. an awl. Cott MS. reads an nolle, which means the same thing.]

* [A metaphor akin to the table of the brazen and earthen pots.] » [Subdue or control.]

1° [Demands, or must expect]

<1 [Cott. MS. reads Weyve thy lu»t, l.e., set aside carnal appetites. Gott is spirit.]

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