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The thinges that I herde there,
What aloude, and what in ere.
But al the wonder most was this:
Whan oon had herde a thinge, ywis, 970
He come forthright to another wight,
\nd gan him tellen, anon ryght,
The same thynge that him was tolde,
Or hyt a forlonge way1 was olde,
But gan sommewhat for to eche1
Tho this tydyrige in this speche
More than hit ever was.
And nat so sone departed nas
That he fro him, thoo he ne mette
With the thridde; and, or he lette 980
A:.y stounde,1 he told hym als;
Were the tydynge sothe or fals,
Yit wolde he telle hyt natheles,
And evermo with more encres
Than yt was erst. Thus north and southe
Went every mothe* fro mouthe to mouthe,
And that encresing evermoo,
As fire ys wont to quyk 4 and goo
From a sparke sprongen amys,
Tille alle a citee brent up ys. 990
And whan that hit was ful yspronge,
'Short time. * Increase (eke). * Mite, atom. * Grow liver/.
Hyt gan oute crepe at somme crevace,
And somtyme saugh I thoo, at ones
Thus out at holes gunne wringe' 1020 Every tydynge streght to Fame; And she gan geve eche hys name, After hir disposicioun,
1 A He and an established truth. 1 Struggle (throe). • Occasion, Mix. * Whispered. 6 Squeeze.
And gaf hem eke duracioun,
Some to wexe and wane sone,
As dothe the faire white mone,
And lete hem goon. Ther myght I seen
Wenged wondres faste fleen,
Twenty thousand in a route,
As Eolus hem blew aboute. 1030
And, lord! this hous in alle tymes Was ful of shipmen and pilgrimes, With scrippes bret-ful of lesenges, Entremedled 1 with tydynges, And eke allone be hemselve. O, many a thousand tymes twelve Saugh I eke of these pardoners, Currours,* and eke messangers, With boystes * crammed ful of lyes, As ever vessel was with lyes. 1040 And as I alther-fastest * wente 'Vbout, and did al myn entente, Me for to pleyen and for to lere,' And eke a tydynge for to here, That I had herd of somme contre That shal not now be tolde for me; For hit no nede is, redely; Folke kan hit synge bet than I. For alle mote oute, other late or rathe,* Alle the sheves in the latbe.7 1050
I herde a grete noyse withalle In a corner of the halle,
1 Mingled. 1 Couriers. * Boms (0. Fr. baiste, box). 4 Fastest of all. • Learn. 9 Early. 7 Barn.
Ther men of love tydynges tolde,
And I gan thiderwarde beholde;
For I saugh rennynge every wight,
As fast as that they hadden myght;
And everyche criede, "What thing is that?"
And somme sayde, " I not never what."
And whan they were alle on an hepe,
Tho behynde begunne up lepe, 1060
And clamben up on other faste,
And up the noyse an-highen kaste,
And troden faste on otheres heles,
And stampe, as men doon after eles.
Atte laste I saugh a man,
And therwithalle I abrayde *
Thus in dreaming and in game Endeth this lytel booke of Fame. 1080
1 Knew not. • The remaining lines are from Thynne's editroi 3532), whence they came from Caxton's (about 1483). 3 Started.
LEGENDE OF GOODE WOMEN. 79
THE LEGENDE OF GOODE WOMEN.
A Thousande tymes I have herde telle, There ys joy in hevene, and peyne in helle, And I acorde wel that it ys so; But, natheles, yet wot I wel also, That ther is noon dwellyng in this countree, That eythir hath in hevene or helle ybe, Ne may of hit noon other weyes witen,1 But as he hath herd seyde, or founde it writen; For by assay ther may no man it preve.
But God forbede but men shulde leve 10 Wel more thing then men han seen with eye! Men shal not wenen every thing a lye But-yf hymselfe yt seeth, or elles dooth; For, God wot, thing is never the lasse sooth, Thogh every wight ne may it not ysee. Bernarde, the monke, ne saugh nat alle, pardeI3
Than mote we to bokes that we fynde, — Thurgh which that olde thinges ben in mynde, — Ant' to the doctrine of these olde wyse,* Geve credence, in every skylful4 wise, 20 That tellen of these olde appreved stoiies, Of holynesse, of regnes,6 of victories,
1 Know. * Cf. Hamlet^ act i., sc. 5, 1. 166: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." s W.»e ones. * Reasonable. 6 Kingdoms.