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Singers with harpes, baudés,l waferers, 2
And look that thou report his namé well.' Which he the very devil's officers,
“Sir,' quod this boy, 'it needeth never a deal ;' To kindle and blow the fire of “luxury,'
It was me told ere ye came here two hours ; That is annexéd unto gluttony.
He was pardé an old fellaw of yours, The holy writ take I to my witness
And suddenly he was yslain to-night, That luxury' is in wine and drunker:ness.
Fordrunk as he sat on his bench upright; ( ! wist a man how inany maladies
There came a privy thief men clepen Death, Followen of excesse and of gluttonies,
That in this country all the people slay'th, He wouldé be the more measuráble
And with his spear he smote his heart atwo, Of his diete, sitting at his table.
And went his way withouten wordés mo. Alas! the shorté throat, the tender mouth,
He hath a thousand slain this pestilence; Maketh that east and west, and north and south, And, master, ere ye come in his presence, In earth, in air, in water, men to swink3
Me thinketh that it were full necessary To get a glutton dainty meat and drink.
For to beware of such an adversary: A likerous' thing is wine, and drunkenness
Be ready for to meet him evermore ; Is full of striving and of wretchedness.
Thus taughté me my dame ; I say no more.' O drunken man ! disfigur’d is thy face,
• By Sainté Mary,' said this tavernere, Sour is thy breath, foul art thou to embrace ;
• The child saith soth,2 for he hath slain this year, And through thy drunken nose seemeth the soun Hence over a mile, within a great villáge, As though thou saidést aye Sampsoun ! Sampsoun ! Both man and woman, child, and hind and page ; And yet, Got wot, Sampsoun drunk ne'er no wine : I trow his habitation be there : Thou fallest as it were a stickéd swine ;
To be aviséd3 great wisdóm it were Thy tongue is lost, and all thine honest cure,
Ere that he did a man a dishonour.' For drunkenness is very sépulture
'Yea, Goddes armés !' quod this rioter, Of mannés wit and his discretion.
Is it such peril with him for to meet ? In whom that drink hath domination
I shall him seek hy stile and eke by street, He can no counsel keep, it is no drede.5
I make a vow by Goddés dignet bones. Now keep you from the white and from the rede, 6 Hearkeneth, fellaws, we three been allé ones ;5 And nainely from the whité wine of Lepe,7
Let each of us hold up his hand to other, That is to sell in Fish Street and in Cheap.
And each of us becomnen other's brother, This wine of Spain creepeth subtlely
And we will slay this falsé traitour Death: In other winés growing fasté by,
He shall be slain, he that so many slay'th, Of which there riseth such fumosity, 8
By Goddés dignity, ere it be night.' That when a man hath drunken draughtés three, Together have these three their truthés plight And wecnetho that he be at home in Cheap,
To live and dien each of them for other, He is in Spain, right at the town of Lepe,
As though he were his owen boren brother. Not at the Rochelle, or at Bordeaux towni,
And up they start all drunken in this rage, And thenné will he say Sampsoun ! Sampsoun ! And forth they gone towardés that villáge And now that I have spoke of gluttony,
Of which the taverner had spoke beforen Now will I you defendenio hazardry.ll
And many a grisly7 oath then have they sworu, Hazard is very mother of leasings,
And Christés blessed body they to-rent, And of deceits and cursed forswearings,
• Death shall be dead, if that we may him hent."9 Blaspheming of Christ, manslaughter', and waste also When they had gone not fully half a mile, Of cattle, and of time ; and furthermo
Right as they would have trodden o'er a stile, It is reproof, and contrary' of honour
An old man and a poore with them met : For to be held a common hazardour,
This oldé man full meekely them gret, 10 And ever the higher he is of estate
And saidé thus: Now, Lordés, God you see !'!] The more he is ħolden desolate.
The proudest of these riotourés three If that a princé useth hazardry,
Answerd again: 'What ? churl, with sorry grace, In allé governance and policy
Why art thou all forwrapped save thy face? He is, as by common opinión,
Why livest thou so long in so great age ?' Yhold the less in reputation.
This oldé man 'gan look in his visage, Now will I speak of oathés false and great
And saidé thus : * For I ne cannot find A word or two, as oldé bookés treat.
A man, though that I walked into Ind, Great swearing is a thing abominable,
Neither in city nor in no villáge, And false swearing is yet more reprovable.
That woulde change his youthé for mine age; The highé God forbade swearing at all,
And therefore must I have inine agé still Witness on Mathew; but in special
As longé time as it is Goddés will. Of swearing saith the holy Jeremie,
Ne Death, alas ! ne will not have my life : Thou shalt swear soth 12 thine oathes and not lic, | Thus walk 1, like a restéless caitiff, 12 And swear in doom, 13 and eke in righteousness, And on the ground, which is my mother's gate, But idle swearing is a cursedness.
I knocké with my staff early and late, These riotourés three of which I tell,
And say to her, 'Levéi3 mother, let me in. Long erst14 ere primé rung of any bell,
Lo, how I vanish, flesh, and blood, and skin. Were set them in a tavern for to drink,
Alas ! when shall my bonés be at rest ? And as they sat they heard a bellé clink
Mother, with you would I change my chest, Before a corpse was carried to his grave;
That in my chamber longé time hath be, That one of them 'gan callen to his knave ;15
Yea, for an hairy clout to wrap in me.' “Go bet, '16 quod he, and aské readily
But yet to me she will not do that grace, What corpse is this that passeth here forth by, For which full pale and welked14 is my face,
1 Mirthful, joyous. 2 Sellers of wafer-cakes. 3 Labour. i Not a whit. 2 Truth.
3 Watchful, prepared. 4 Care. 6 Fear. 6 Red. 7 A place in Spain.
or in unity.
6 Born. . 8 Fumes from drinking. 9 Thinketh, imagineth.
10 Grceted. 10 Forbid. 11 Gaming. 19 True. 13 Judgment. 11 That is, “God preserve you in his sight." 14 Before. 15 Servant lad. 16 Better go.
* But, Sirs, to you it is no courtesy
Nay, oldé churl, by God thou shalt not so,
Now, Sirs,' quod he, if it be you so lief 7
And evereach of these riotourés ran
Brethren,' quod he, 'take keep what I shall say ;
That one of them the cut brought in his fist, And bade them draw, and look where it would
fall, And it fell on the youngest of them all ; And forth toward the town he went anon : And all so soon as that he was agone, That one of them spake thus unto that other ; 'Thou wottest well thou art my sworen brother,
Thy profit will I tell thee right anon.
That other answer'd : 'I n'otl how that may be :
Shall it be counsel ?' said the firsté shrew,
'I granté,' quod that other, 'out of doubt, That by my truth I will thee not betray.'
Now,' quod the first, 'thou wott'st well we be tway ; |
This youngest, which that wenté to-the town,
The 'pothecary answer'd : “Thou shalt have
This cursed man hath in his hand yhent12
The third he kepté cleané for his drink,
And when this rioter with sorry grace15 Hath filled with wine his greaté bottles three, To his fellows again repaireth he.
1 Unless he, &c.
Advice. 3 Whether.
I Know not. 2 A cursed man. 3 Inclination.
8 Certainly. 9 Amounting. 10 Give over. 11 Die 19 Taken. 13 Immediately. 14 Labour, work. is Evil, or misfortune.
What needeth is thereof to sermon more? For right as they had cast his death before, Right so they have him slain, and that anon. And when that this was done thus spake that
But certés I suppose that Avicenne
[The Good Parson.] A true good man there was there of religion, Pious and poor--the parson of a town. But rich he was in holy thought and work ; And thereto a right learned man ; a clerk That Christ's pure gospel would sincerely preach, And his parishioners devoutly teach. Benign he was, and wondrous diligent, And in adversity full patient, As proven oft ; to all who lack'd a friend. Loth for his tithes to ban or to contend, At every need much rather was he found Unto his poor parishioners around Of his own substance and his dues to give : Content on little, for himself, to live.
Wide was his cure ; the houses far asunder, Yet never fail'd he, or for rain or thunder, Whenever sickness or mischance might call, The most remote to visit, great or small, And, staff' in hand, on foot, the storm to brave.
This noble ensample to his flock he gare,
He never set his benefice to hire,
Tho holy in himself, and virtuous,
He waited not on pomp or rererence,
[An Ironical Ballad on the Duplicity of Women.]
This world is full of variance
Also that the fresh summer flowers,
The crooked moon, (this is no tale),
The lusty freshé summer's day,
The sea eke with his sterné wawé38
Fortunés wheel go'th round about
What man ymay the wind restrain,
At erery haven they can arrive
1 By accident.
3 The title of one of the sections in Avicenne's great work, entitled Canun.
1 Fear. 2 Surety, steadfastness. 3 Doubtless.
18 Guide 14 Steering, pilotage.
Therefore whoso doth them accuse
Waiveth thy lust and let thy ghostl thee lead,
And truth thee shall deliver it is no drede.
However far the genius of Chaucer transcended All is but false collusión,
that of all preceding writers, he was not the solitary I dare right well the soth express,
light of his age. The national mind and the national They have no better protection,
language appear, indeed, to have now arrived at a But shroud them under doubleness.
certain degree of ripeness, favourable for the proSo well fortunéd is thcir chance,
duction of able writers in both prose and verse.* The dice to-turnen up so down,
Heretofore, Norman French had been the language With sice and cinque they can advance,
of education, of the court, and of legal documents; And then by revolution
and when the Normanised Anglo-Saxon was emThey set a fell conclusión
ployed by literary men, it was for the special purOf lombés,3 as in sothfastness,
pose, as they were usually very careful to mention, Though clerkés maken mention
of conveying instruction to the common people. But Their kind is fret with doubleness.
now the distinction between the conquering Normans
and subjected Anglo-Saxons was nearly lost in a Sampson yhad experience
new and fraternal national feeling, which recognised That women were full true yfound ;
the country under the sole name of England, and the When Dalila of innocence
people and language under the single appellation of With shearés 'gan his hair to round ;'
English. Edward III. substituted the use of English To speak also of Rosamon
for that of French in the public acts and judicial proAnd Cleopatra's faithfulness,
ceedings; and the schoolinasters, for the first time, The stories plainly will confound
in the same reign, caused their pupils to construe Men that apeach their doubleness.
the classical tongues into the vernacular.t The Single thing is not ypraiséd,
consequence of this ripening of the national mind Nor of old is of no renown,
and language was, that, while English heroism was In balance when they be ypesed,6
gaining the victories of Cressy and Poitiers, English For lack of weight they be borne down,
genius was achieving milder and more beneficial triAnd for this cause of just reason
umphs, in the productions of Chaucer, of Gower, and These women all of rightwisness7
of Wickliffe. Of choice and free election Most love exchange and doubleness.
JOHN GOWER is supposed to have been born some L'Envoye.
time before the year 1340, and to have consequently O ye women ! which be inclined
been a few years younger than Chaucer. He was a By influence of your natúre
gentleman, possessing a considerable amount of proTo be as pure as gold yfinéd,
perty in land, in the counties of Nottingham and And in your truth for to endure,
Suffolk. In his latter years, he appears, like Chaucer, Armeth yourself in strong armúre,
to have been a retainer of the Lancaster branch of (Lest men assail your sikerness),8
the royal family, which subsequently ascended the Set on your breast, yourself t'assure,
throne; and his death took place in 1408, before A mighty shield of doubleness.
which period he had become blind. Gower wrote a
poetical work in three parts, which were respectively [Last Verses of Chaucer, written on his Deathbed.]
entitled Speculum Meditantis, Vor Clamantis, and Fly from the press, 9 and dwell with sothfastness ;10 Confessio Amantis; the last, which is a grave disSuffice unto thy goodli though it be small;
cussion of the morals and metaphysics of love, being For hoard hath hate, and climbing tickleness,
the only part written in English. The solemn senPress 12 hath envy, and weal is blent13 o'er all; tentiousness of this work caused Chaucer, and subSarour]4 no more than thee behoven shall ; Redel5 well thyself, that otherfolk can’st rede,
1 Spirit. And truth thee shall deliver 't is no drede.16
* It is always to be kept in mind that the language employed
in literary composition is apt to be different from that used by Pain thee not each crooked to redress
the bulk of the people in ordinary discourse. The literary lanIn trust of her that turneth as a ball;
guage of these early times was probably much more refined Great rest standeth in little business ;
than the colloquial. During the fourteenth century, various Beware also to spurn against a nalle ; 17
dialects of English were spoken in different parts of the country, Strive not as doth a crocké18 with a wall;
and the mode of pronunciation also was very far from being Deemeth 19 thyself that deemest other's deed,
uniform. Trevisa, a historian who wrote about 1380, remarks And truth thee shall deliver 't is no drede.
that, " Hit someth a grete wonder that Englyssinen have so That20 thee is sent receive in buxomness ;21
grete dyversyte in their owin langage in sowne and in spekyin
of it, which is all in one ilonde." The prevalent harshness of The wrestling of this world asketh a fall;
pronunciation is thus described by the same writer: "Some Here is no home, here is but wilderness ;
use straunge wlaffing, chytryng, harring, garrying, and grys. Forth, pilgrim, forth, O beast out of thy stall;
byting. The langage of the Northumbres, and specyally at Look up on high, and thank thy God of all ;
Yorke, is so sharpe, slytting, frotyng, and unshape, that we
sothern men maye unneth understande that langage." Even 1 Either in whispering or musing. ? To find a flaw in. in the reign of Elizabeth, as we learn from Holinshed's Chro.
3 " Though clerks, or scholars, represent women to be like nicle, the dialects spoken in different parts of the country were lambs for their truth and sincerity, yet they are all fraught, exceedingly various. or filled with doubleness, or falsehood."--Urry.
+ Mr Hallam mentions, on the authority of Mr Stevenson, * To round off, to cut round. Impeach.
sub-commissioner of public records, that in England. all letters, 6 Y pesed, Pr. pest-weighed. 7 Justice Security. even of a private nature, were written in Latin till the beginning 9 Crowd. 10 Truth. 11 Be satisfied with thy wealth. of the reign of Edward I., soon after 1270, when a sudden change 12 Striving. 13 Prosperity has ceased. 14 Taste.
brought in the use of French.-Hallam's Introduction to the Lite15 Counsel. 16 Without fear. 17 Nail. 18 Earthen pitcher. rature of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth cen. 20 That (which). 21 Humility, obedience. I turies, i. 63.
sequently Lyndsay, to denominate its author “the moral Gower;" he is, however, considerably inferior to the author of the Canterbury Tales, in almost all the qualifications of a true poet.
[Episode of Rosiphele.) [Rosiphele, princess of Armenia, a lady of surpassing beauty, but insensible to the power of love, is represented by the poet as reduced to an obedience to Cupid, by a vision which befell her on a May-day ramble. The opening of this episode is as follows:-)
When come was the month of May,
Mr Warton has happily selected a few passages from Gower, which convey a lively expression of natural feeling, and give a favourable impression of the author. Speaking of the gratification which his passion receives from the sense of hearing, he says, that to hear his lady speak is more delicious than to feast on all the dainties that could be compounded by a cook of Lombardy. They are not so restorative
As bin the wordes of hir mouth ;
Is verily myne hartes leche.2
Full oft time it falleth so
[In the rear of this splendid troop of ladies, the princess beheld one, mounted on a miserable steed, wretchedly adorned in everything excepting the bridle. On questioning this straggler why she was so unlike her companions, the visionary lady replied that the latter were receiving the bright reward of having loved faithfully, and that she herself was suffering punishment for cruelty to her admirers. The reason that the bridle alone resembled those of her companions was, that for the last fortnight she had been sincerely in love, and a change for the better was in consequence beginning to show itself in her accoutrements. The parting words of the dame are]
That when her list on nights wake, In chamber, as to carol and dance, Methink I may me more avance, If I may gone upon her hond, Than if I win a king's lond. For when I may her hand beclip, With such gladness I dance and skip, Methinketh I touch not the floor; The roe which runneth on the inoor, Is then nought so light as I.
Now have ye heard mine answer ;
And bid them think of my bridle. [It is scarcely necessary to remark, that the hard heart of the princess of Armenia is duly impressed by this lesson.]
1 When she chooses. 2 Physician. 3 A dainty dish. 4 When she chooses to sit up a night in her chamber.
Few of her women knew of it.
? A grove.