Imatges de pàgina
[blocks in formation]

Now certes, frend, I dreed of thyn unhappe, Leste for thy gilte the wreche1 of love precede On alle hem that ben hoor and rounde of shappe,2 31 That ben so lykly folke in love to spede, Than shal we for oure laboure have noo mede; But wel I wot thow wolt answere and saye, 'Loo, tholde Grisel * lyste to ryme and playe I"

Nay, Scogan, say not soo, for I mexcuse, God helpe me so, in no ryme dowteles; Ne thynke I never of slepe to wake my muse, That rusteth in my shethe stille in pees; While I was yonge I put her forth in prees ; 40 But alle shal passe that men prose or ryme, Take every man hys turne as for his tyme.

Scogan, that knelest at the stremes hede * Of grace, of alle honour, and of worthynesse 1 In thende of which streme* I am dul as dede, Forgete in solytarie wildernesse; Yet, Scogan, thenke on Tullius * kyndenesse; Mynde thy frend there it may fructyfye, Farewel, and loke thow never eft7 love dyffye.


My maister, Buktoun, whan of Crist our kyng Was axed, What ys trouthe or sothefastnesse?

1 Vengeance. 1 An allusion to Chaucer's age and form. 1 The tiC gray one. * That is, at Windsor. 6 That is, Greenwich. s That is, Marcus Tullius Cicero's De A micitid (of friendship). * Again. • One Peter de Bukton is mentioned by Tyrwhitt, but the identity of Chaucer's friend is still uncertain.

He nat a worde answerde to that axinge,
As who saith, "Noo man is al trew," ]

And therfore, though I highte 1 to expresse
The sorwe and woo that is in mariage,
I dar not writen of hit no wikkednesse,
Leste I my-self falle eft2 in swich dotage.

I wol nat seyn how that hyt is the cheyne
Of Sathanas, on which he gnaweth evere; 10
But I dar seyn, were he oute of his peyne,
As by his wille he wolde be bounde nevere.
But thilke doted foole that ofte hath levere
Ycheyned be than out of prison crepe,
God lete him never fro his woo dissevere,
Ne no man him bewayle though he wepe!

But yet lest thow do worse, take a wyfe;
Bet ys to wedde than brenne in worse wise,
But thow shalt have sorwe on thy fiessh, tKy

And ben thy wyfes thral, as seyn these wise.
And yf that hooly writte may nat suffyse,
Experience shal the teche, so may happe,
That the were lever to be take in Frise,
Than eft falle of weddynge in the trappe.

This lytel written proverbes or figure
I sende yow, take kepe of hyt, I rede: *
Unwise is he that kan noo wele endure.
If thow be siker,4 put the nat in drede.
The Wyfe of Bathe I pray yow that ye rede

1 Promised. • Afterward. 'Advise. * Seam.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Of this matere that we have on honde. 30
God graunte yow your lyfe frely to lede
In fredom, for ful harde is to be bonde.


The firste fadir and fynder of gentilnesse,1

What man desireth gentle for to be Moste folowe his trace and alle his wittes dresse 2

Vertu to shew and vicis for to flee;

For unto vertu longeth ' dignitee,
And nought the revers, savely dare I deme,
Al were he4 mitre, corone, or diademe.

The firste stoke 6 was ful of rightwisnesse,
Trewe of his word, soboure, pitous and free,

Cleene of his gooste and lovid besynesse,
Ageynste the vice of slowthe in honeste;
And but his heire love vertu as did he,

He nis not gentille though him riche seme,

Al were he mitre, corone, or diademe.

Vice may wel bee heyre to olde richesse,

But there may no man, as ye may welle see, Byquethe his sone his vertuous noblesse;

1 That is, Christ, Compare DekkeKs expression, "the first true [entleman that ever breathed." The same idea was suggested by Juliana Bcmers, cire. 1485. * Address * Belongeth. 4 Althougr wear 'Race. Cf. Altai Prima.

That is approperid into noo degree, But the firste Fadir in Magestee, Which may his heires deeme hem that him queme,1

Al were he mytre, corone, or diademe.


Sometyme the worlde was so stedfast and stable,

That mannes worde was holde obligacioun;
And now hyt is so fals and disceyvable,
That worde and dede, as in conclusyoun,
Been noothing oon ; for turned up-so-doun
Is alle this worlde, thurgh mede 2 and wilful-

That alle is loste for lakke of stedfastnesse.

What maketh this worlde to be so variable But luste that folke han in dissensioun? For nowe adayes a man is holde unhable,* 10 But yf he kan, by somme collusyoun, Do his neghbour wronge or oppressioun. What causeth this but wilfulle wrecchednesse, That alle ys loste for lakke of stedfastnesse?

Trouthe is put doun, resoun is holden fable Vertu bathe now noo dominacioun; Pitee exiled, noo man ys merciable; Thurgh covytyse is blente 4 discrecioun;

•Please. "Bribery. • UnskilliuMFr. inhaiilr). * Put atid*


The worlde hath made permutacioun

Fro ryght to wrong, fro trouthe to fikelenesse,

That alle ys lost for lakke of stedfastnesse. 31


O Prince, desire to be honourable; Cherysshe thy folke, and hate extorcioun; Suffre nothing, that may be reprovable To thyn estaate, doon 1 in thy regioun; Shew forth the swerde of castigacioun; Drede God, do law, love trouthe and worthinesse,

And wedde thy folke ageyne to stedfastnesse.


This wrecched worlde is transmutacioun,
As wele or wo, now poverte, now honour, —
Withowten ordyr or wis descresyoun,
Governed is by Fortunes erroure;
But natheles the lakke of hyr favoure
Ne may nat don me syngen,* thogh I deye,
J'ay tout perdu, mon temps et mon laboured
For fynaly, Fortune, I the deffye.

Yit is me left the lyght of my resoun,
To knowen frend fro foo in thi merour, 10

1 To be done. * This appears to be a translation, but the conneo •ion with the text is not apparent. * Cause roe to sing. 4 Cf. Cmm kr&ury Talti, h 1*,492. I hare lost all, my time and my labor.

« AnteriorContinua »