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What sholde I yow reherce in special
Hir hy malice? she is a shrewe at al.
Ther is a long and large difference
Bitwix Grisildes grete pacience
And of my wyf the passing crueltee.
Were I vnbounden, al so mote I thee !
I wolde neuer eft comen in the snare.
We wedded men liuen in sorwe and care;
Assaye it who so wol, and he shal fynde,
I seye sooth, by seint Thomas of Ynde,
1230 As for the more part, I seye nat alle. God shilde that it sholde so bifalle! A! good sir hoste! I haue ywedded be Thise monthes two, and more nat, pardee ; And yit I trowe that he, that al his lyue
1235 Wyflees hath ben, though that men wolde him ryue Vn-to the herte, ne coude in no manere Tellen so moche sorwe, as I now here Coude tellen of my wyues cursednesse !'
Now,' quod our host, ‘marchaunt, so god yow blesse, Sin ye so moche knowen of that art,
1241 Ful hertely I preye yow telle vs part.'
Gladly,' quod he, but of myn owen sore, For sory herte, I telle may no more.'
[Here follows The Merchant's Tale, numbered Il. 1245–2418 in the Six-Text edition ; after which comes The Merchant's End-link, called The Squire's Prologue in the Ellesmere MS., as follows.]
The Prologe of the Squieres Tale.
Ey! goddes mercy !' seyde our hoste tho,
Now swich a wyf I preye god kepe me fro!
Lo whiche sleightes and subtilitees
In wommen ben ! for ay as bisy as bees
Ben they, vs sely men for to deceyue,
And from a sothe euer wol they weyue ;
By this marchauntes tale it preueth weel.
But douteles, as trewe as any steel
I haue a wyf, though that she poure be;
But of hir tonge a labbing shrewe is she,
And yet she hath an heep of vices mo;
Ther-of no fors, lat alle swiche thinges go.
But, wite ye what? in conseil be it seyd,
Me reweth sore I am vn-to hir teyd.
For, and I sholde rekenen euery vice
Which that she hath, ywis I were to nice,
And cause why; it sholde reported be
And told to hir of somme of this meynee,
Of whom, it nedeth nat for to declare,
Sin wommen connen outen swich chaffare,
And eek my wit suffiseth nat ther-to
To tellen al; wherfor my tale is do.'
[Here ends Group E, or the fifth fragment, which is followed in the Ellesmere MS. (without any break) by Group F.]
GROUP F. THE SQUIERES TALE.
[THE SQUIRE's HEAD-LINK.]
Squyer, com neer, if it your wille be,
And sey somwhat of loue; for certes ye
Konnen ther-on as muche as any man.'
• Nay, sir, quod he, but I wol seye as I can
With hertly wille ; for I wol nat rebelle
Agayn your lust; a tale wol I telle.
Haue me excused if I speke amis,
My wille is good; and lo, my tale is this.
Heere bigynneth the Squieres Tale.
At Sarray, in the londe of Tartarye,
Ther dwelte a king, that werreyed Russye,
Thurgh which ther deyde many a doughty man.
This noble king was cleped Cambynskan,
Which in his tyme was of so greet renoun
That ther nas no-wher in no regioun
So excellent a lord in alle thing;
Him lakked nought that longeth to a king.
As of the secte of which that he was born
He kepte his lay, to which that he was sworn;
And ther-to he was hardy, wys, and riche,
And pitous [eek] and Iust, alwey yliche ;
Sooth of his word, benigne and honurable,
Of his corage as any centre stable;
Yong, fresh, strong, and in armes desirous
As any bacheler of al his hous.
A fair persone he was and fortunat,
And kepte alwey so wel roial estat,
That ther was nowher swich another man.
This noble king, this Tartre Cambynskan
Hadde two sones on Elpheta his wyf,
Of whiche the eldeste highte Algarsyf,
That other sone was cleped Cambalo.
A doughter hadde this worthy king also,
That yongest was, and highte Canacee.
But for to telle yow al hir beautee
It lyth nat in my tonge, nin my conning;
I dar nat vndertake so hy a thing.
Myn english eek is insufficient;
Iti moste ben a rethor excellent,
That coude his colours longing for that art,
If he sholde hir discryuen euery part.
I am non swich, I mot speke as I can.
And so bifel that, whan this Cambynskan
Hath twenty winter born his diademe,
As he was wont fro yeer to yeer, I deme,
He leet the feste of his natiuitee
Don cryen thurghout? Sarray his citee,
The last Idus of March, after the yeer.
Phebus the sonne ful ioly was and cleer;
For he was neigh his exaltacion
In Martes face, and in his mansion
In Aries, the colerik hote signe.
1 E. I moste, perhaps miswritten; the rest It moste.
? Hn. Hl. thurghout; the rest thurgh.
Ful lusty was the weder and benigne,
For which the foules, agayn the sonne shene,
What for the seson and the yonge grene,
Ful loude songen hir affeccions ;
Him semed han geten hem proteccions
Agayn the swerd of winter kene and cold.
This Cambynskan, of which I haue yow told,
In roial vestiment sit on his deys,
With diademe, ful hy in his paleys,
60 And halt his feste, so solempne and so riche That in this world ne1 was ther noon it liche. Of which if I shal tellen al tharray, Than wolde it occupye a someres day; And eek it nedeth nat for to deuyse At euery cours the ordre of her seruyse. I wol nat tellen of her strange sewes, Ne of her swannes, ne? of her heronsewes. Eek in that lond, as tellen knyghtes olde, Ther is som mete that is ful deyntee holde,
70 That in this lond men recche of it but smal; Ther nis no man that may reporten al. I wol nat tarien yow, for it is pryme, And for it is no fruyt but los of tyme; Vn-to my firste I wol haue my recours.
75 And so bifel that, after the thridde cours, Whyl that this king sit thus in his nobleye, Herkning his minstralles her thinges pleye Biforn him at the bord deliciously, In at the halle dore al sodeynly
80 Ther cam a knyght vp-on a stede of bras, And in his hond a brood mirour of glas. Vpon his thombe he hadde of gold a ring, 1 E. Hl. omit ne; the rest have it.