Imatges de pÓgina


[Introduction to the Man of Law's Prologue.]

The wordes of the Hoost to the compaignye.

Our hoste sey wel that the bryghte sonne
The ark of his artificial day hath ronne
The fourthe part, and half an houre, and more;
And though he were not depe expert in lore,
He wiste it was the eightetethe day

5 Of April, that is messager to May; And sey

wel that the shadwe of euery tree Was as in lengthe the same quantitee That was the body erect that caused it. And therfor by the shadwe he took his wit That Phebus, which that shoon so clere and bryghte, Degrees was fyue and fourty clombe on hyghte; And for that day, as in that latitude, It was ten of the : clokke, he gan conclude, And sodeynly he plyghte his hors aboute.

15 Lordinges,' quod he, ‘I warne yow, al this route,


* Cm. wanting ; Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl. expert; E. Hn. ystert. 2 Hn. xviijthe; Cp. xviije; Cm. Pt. Ln. xviij; E. eighte and twentithe; Hl. threttenthe.' 3 Cm. Pt. Hl. of the; E. Hn. at the; Cp. atte; Ln. att,




The fourthe party of this day is goon;
Now, for the loue of god and of seint Iohn,
Leseth no tyme, as ferforth as ye may;
Lordinges, the tyme wasteth nyght and day,
And steleth from vs, what priuely slepinge,
And what thurgh necligence in our wakinge,
As dooth the streem, that turneth neuer agayn,
Descending fro the montaigne in-to playn.
Wel can Senec, and many a philosophre
Biwailen tyme, more than gold in cofre.
“For los of catel may recouered be,
But los of tyme shendeth vs,” quod he.





Sir man of lawe,' quod he, ‘so haue ye blis,
Tel vs a tale anon, as forward is;
Ye ben submitted thurgh your free assent
To stonde in this cas at my Iugement.
Acquiteth yow, and holdeth 1 your biheste,
Than haue ye doon your deuoir atte leste 2.'
* Hoste,' quod he, depardieux ich assente,
To breke forward is not myn entente.
Biheste is dette, and I wol holde fayn
Al my biheste; I can no better seyn.
For swich lawe as man? yeueth another wyghte,
He sholde him-seluen vsen it by ryghte;
Thus wol our text, but natheles certeyn
I can ryght now no thrifty tale seyn,
But : Chaucer, though he can but lewedly
On metres and on ryming craftily,


1 Hl. and holdeth; the rest of (badly).
2 Cm. man; the rest a man.
3 MS. Camb. Dd. 4. 24 has But; the rest That; see nole.




Hath seyd hem in swich english as he can
Of olde, tyme, as knoweth many a man.
And if he haue not seyd hem, leue brother,
In o boke, he hath seyd hem in another.
For he hath told of loueres vp and doun
Moo than Ovide made of mencioun
In his Epistolis, that ben ful olde.
What sholde I tellen hem, sin they ben tolde ?
In youthe he made of Ceys and Alcioun,
And sithen hath he spoke of euerichoon,
Thise noble 'wyues and thise loueres eek.
Who so that wol his large volume seek
Cleped the seintes legende of Cupyde,
Ther may he seen the large woundes wyde
Of Lucresse, and of Babiloin Tisbee ;
The swerd of Dido for the false Enee;
The tree of Phillis for hir Demophon;
The pleinte of Dianire? and Hermion,
Of Adriane and of Isiphilee;
The bareyne yle stonding in the see;
The dreynt Leander for his fayre Erro;
The teres of Eleyne, and eek4 the wo
Of Brixseide, and of thee, Ladomëa;
The cruelte of thee, queen Medëa,
Thy litel children hanging by the hals
For thy lason, that was of 6 loue so fals !
O Ypermistra, Penelope, Alceste,
Your wyfhood he comendeth with the beste !




1 Hl. sorwe; but the rest swerd.
& E. Cm. Hl. Diane; but Hn. Cp, Pt. Ln. Dianire, or Dyanyre.
3 Hl. fayre, which the rest omit.
4 E, omits eek, which is in the rest.
5 E. omits of, but it is in the rest.
6 E, Cm, in; the rest of.

But certeinly no word ne wryteth he
Of thilke wikke ensample of Canacee;




And therfor he, of ful auysement,
Nolde neuer wryte in none of his sermouns
Of swiche vnkynde abhominaciouns,
Ne I wol noon reherse, if that I may.
But of my tale how shal I doon this day?
Me were looth be lykned douteles
To Muses that men clepen Pierides-
Metamorphoseos wot what I mene-
But natheles, I recche noght a bene
Though I come after him with hawe bake 1;
I speke in prose, and lete him rymes make.'
And with that word he, with a sobre chere,
Bigan his tale, as ye shal. after here.


The prologe of the mannes tale of lawe.

O hateful harm! condicion of pouerte !
With thurst, with cold, with hunger so confounded ! 100
To asken help thee shameth in thyn herte ;
If thou noon aske, with nede artow so wounded?,
That verray need vnwrappeth al thy wounde hid !
Maugre thyn heed, thou most for indigence
Or stele, or begge, or borwe thy despence!


Thou blamest Crist, and seyst ful bitterly,
He misdeparteth richesse temporal;

1 Hn. Cp. Pt. Hl. hawe bake ; E. hawebake; Cm. aw bake; Ln. halve bake.

? So Hn.; Cm. Cp. with art bou so wounded; Ln, wit nede bou art so wounded; Hl. with neede so art thou woundyd; but E. so soore artow ywoundid.

Thy neighebor thou wytest sinfully,
And seist thou hast to lite', and he hath al.

Parfay,' seistow, 'somtyme he rekne shal,
Whan that his [cors] shal brennen in the glede,
For he noght helpeth needfulle in her nede.'

[ocr errors][merged small]

Herkne what is the sentence of the wyse :-
• Bet is to dyen than haue indigence;'
Thy selue neighebor wol thee despyse;
If thou be poure, farwel thy reuerence !
Yet of the wyse man tak this sentence:-
* Alle the dayes of poure men ben wikke;'
Be war therfor, er thou come in that prikke!

I 20

If thou be poure, thy brother hateth thee,
And alle thy frendes fleen fro thee, alas !
O riche marchauntz, ful of wele ben ye,
O noble, o prudent folk, as in this cas !
Your bagges ben nat filled with ambes as,
But with sis cink, that renneth for your chaunce;
At Cristemasse merie may ye daunce !


Ye seken lond and see for your winninges,
As wyse folk ye knowen al thestaat
Of regnes; ye ben fadres of tydinges
And tales, both of pees and of debat.
I were ryght now of tales desolat,
Nere that a marchaunt, goon is many a yere,
Me taughte a tale, which that ye shal here.


1 E. Hn. lite; the rest litel. 2 E. Cm. omit the; the rest have it. 3 E. Hn. Hl. to; Cm. Pt. Ln. in.

« AnteriorContinua »