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[Here follows the Man of Lawes Tale, 11. 134-1162. See pp. 1-37 of The Man of Law's Tale, and other extracts from Chaucer, ed. Skeat (Clarendon Press Series).]
Here endith the man of lawe his tale. And next folwith
the Shipman his prolog'.
Our hoste vpon his stiropes stood anon,
And seyde, ‘good men, herkeneth euerich on;
This was a thrifty tale for the nones !
Sir parish prest,' quod he, 'for goddes bones,
Tel vs a tale, as was thy forward yore.
I se wel that ye lerned men in lore
Can moche good, by goddes dignitee !'
The persone him answerde, benedicite !
What eyleth the man so sinfully to swere?'
Our hoste answerde, O lankyn, be ye there?
I smelle a loller in the wynd,' quod he.
· Hoo! good men, quod our hoste, ‘herkneth me,
Abydeth, for goddes digne passioun,
For we shal han a predicacioun ;
This loller heer wil prechen vs som-what.'
• Nay, by my fader soule! that shal he nat,'
Seyde the Shipman”, heer shal he nat preche,
He shal no gospel glosen heer ne teche.
We leue 3 alle in the grete god,' quod* he,
· He wolde sowen som difficultee,
1 This rubric is from MS. Arch. Seld. B. 14. In some MSS. it is called The prolog of the squyers tale. The text of the prologue itself is founded on the Corpus MS. E. Hn. Cm. omit this Prologue; see note.
2 MS. Arch. Seld. has Shipman; Cp. Pt. Ln. Þe squier.
3 MS. Arch. Seld. We leuen ; Cp. Pt. Ln. He leueb.
4 MS. Arch. Seld. inserts quod, which Cp. Pt. Ln. omit.
Or springen cokkel in our clene corn,
And therfor, hoste, I warne thee biforn,
My Ioly body shal a tale telle,
And I shal clinken yow so mery a belle,
That I shal waken al this companye;
But it shal not ben of philosophye,
Ne of phisyk , ne termes queinte of lawe;
Ther is but litel latin in my mawe.
Here endeth the Shipman his prolog. And next
folwyng he bigynneth his tale, &c. *
[Here follows The Shipman's Tale, 11. 1191-1624. After which-]
Bihoold the murie wordes of the Hoost to the
Shipman and to the lady Prioresse.
Wel seyd, by corpus dominus,' quod our hoste,
* Now longe mot thou sayle by the coste,
Sir gentil maister, gentil marineer,
God yeue this monk a thousand last quad yeer!
A ha! felawes! beth war of swich a Iape,
The monk putte in the mannes hode an ape,
And in his wyues eek, by seint Austin ;
Draweth no monkes more in-to your in.
But now passe ouer, and lat vs seke aboute,
Who shal now telle first of al this route
Another tale?' and with that word he sayde,
As curteisly as it had been a mayde,
1 Tyrwhitt reads of phisike; the MSS. have the unmeaning word phislyas; Sloane MS. phillyas.
? Rubric from MS. Arch. Seld.
s From E.; here again made the basis of the text.
• My lady Prioresse, by your leue,
So that I wiste I shulde you nat greue,
I wolde demen that ye tellen sholde
A tale next, if so were that ye wolde.
Now wol ye vouche sauf, my lady dere?'
'Gladly,' quod she, and seyde as ye shal here.
GROUP B. THE PRIORESSES TALE.
The prologe of the Prioresses tale.
O lord our lord, thy name how merueillous
Is in this large worlde ysprad-quod she :-
For noght oonly thy laude precious
Parfourned is by men of dignitee,
But by the mouth of children thy bountee
Parfourned is, for on the brest souking
Som tyme shewen they thyn herying.
Wherfor in laude, as I best can or may,
Of thee, and of the whyte 1 lily flour
Which that thee bar, and is a mayde alway,
To telle a storie I wol doon my labour;
Not that I may encresen hir honour;
For she hir-self is honour, and the rote
Of bountee, next hir sone, and soules bote.-
O mooder mayde! o mayde mooder free! O bush vnbrent, brenning in Moyses syghte, That rauysedest doun fro the deitee, Thurgh thyn humblesse, the goost that in thalyghte, 1660 Of whos vertu, whan he thyn herte lyghte, Conceyued was the fadres sapience, Help me to telle it in thy reuerence!
1 E. omits whyte, found in the rest.
Lady! thy bountee, thy magnificence,
Thy vertu, and thy grete humilitee
Ther may no tonge expresse in no science;
For som tyme, lady, er men praye to thee,
Thou goost biforn of thy benignitee,
And getest vs the lyght, thurgh” thy preyere,
To gyden vs vn-to thy sone so dere.
My conning is so wayk, o blisful quene,
For to declare thy grete worthynesse,
That I ne may the weighte nat sustene,
But as a child of twelf monthe old, or lesse,
That can vnnethes any word expresse,
Ryght so fare I, and therfor I yow preye,
Gydeth my song that I shal of yow seye.
Heere bigynneth the Prioresses tale.
Ther was in Asie, in a gret citee,
Amonges cristen folk a Iewerye,
Sustened by a lord of that contree
For foule vsure and lucre of vilanye,
Hateful to Crist and to his companye;
And thurgh the strete men myght ryde or wende,
For it was free, and open at eyther ende.
A litel scole of Cristen folk ther stood
Doun at the ferther ende, in which ther were
Children an heep, ycomen of Cristen blood,
That lerned in that scole yeer by yere
Swich maner doctrine as men vsed there,
1 Hn. Cm. Ln. Hl. the; E. thurgh; Cp. Pt. to.
E. Hn. of; but the rest thurgh.