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And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun :
For he had power of confession,
As saidè himselfè, more than a curat,
For of his ordre he was licentiat.
Ful swetely herde he confession,
And plesant was his absolution.
He was an esy man to give penance,
Ther as he wiste to han (a) a good pitance :
For unto a poure (6) ordre for to give
Is signè that a man is well yshrive. (c)
For if he gave, he dorstè (d) make avant,
He wistè that a man was repentant.
For many a man so hard is of his herte,
He may not wepe although him soré smerte.
Therfore in stede of weping and praières,
Men mote give silver to the pourè freres.
His tippet was ay farsed (e) ful of knives,
And pinnès, for to given fayrè wives.
And certainly he had a mery note.
Wel coude he singe and plaien on a rote. (J)
Of yeddinges (g) he bare utterly the pris.
His nekke was white as is the flour de lis.
Thereto he strong was as a champioun,
And knew wel the tavèrnes in every toun,
And every hosteler and gay tapstère,
Better than a lazar or a beggère,
For unto swiche a worthy man as he
Accordeth nought, as by his facultè,
To haven (h) with sike lazars acquaintance.
It is not honest, it may not avance,
As for to delen with no swiche pouraille, (i)
But all with riche, and sellers of vitaille.
And over all, ther as profit shuld arise,
Curteis he was, and lowly of servise,
Ther n'as no man no wher so vertuous.
He was the beste beggèr in all his hous:
(a) Have. (6) Poor. (c) Shriven. (d) Durst make a boast. (e) Stuffed. (S). A stringed instrument. (g) Story telling. (h) Have. (i) Poor people.
And gave a certaine fermè (a) for the grant,
Non of his bretheren came in his haunt.
For though a widewe hadde but a shoo,
(So plesant was his In principio)
Yet wold he have a ferthing or he went.
His pourchas (6) was wel better than his rent.
And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp,
In lovèda yes, (c) ther coude he mochel help.
For ther was he nat like a cloisterere,
With thredbare cope, as is a poure scolere,
But he was like a maister or a pope.
Of double worsted was his semicope, (d)
That round was as a belle out of the presse.
Somwhat he lisped for his wantonnesse,
To make his English swete upon his tonge ;
And in his harping, whan that he hadde songe,
His eyen twinkeled in his hed aright,
As don the sterrès in a frosty night.
This worthy limitour was cleped Hubèrd
* * *
A Clerk ther was of Oxenforde also,
That unto logike hadde long ygo.
As lenè was his hors as is a rake,
And he was not right fat, I undertake;
But loked holwe, (e) and therto soberly.
Ful thredbare was his overest courtepy, (f)
For he hadde geten him yet no benefice,
Ne was nought worldly to have an office.
For him was lever (g) han at his beddes hed
A twenty bokes, clothed in black or red,
Of Aristotle, and his philosophie,
Than robès riche, or fidel, or sautrie.
But all be that he was a philosophre,
Yet haddè he but litel gold in cofre,
(6) What he obtained. (c) Days appointed for the amicable settlement of differences. (d) Half cloak.
(e) Hollow. (f) Uppermost cloak of coarse cloth. (g) He would rather have.
But all that he might of his frendès hente, (a)
On bokès and on lerning he it spente,
And besily gan for the soulès praie
Of hem, that yave him wherwith to scolaie. (b)
Of studie toke he mostè cure and hede.
Not a word spak e he more than was nede;
And that was said in forme and reverence,
And short and quike, and ful of high sentence.
Souning in moral vertue was his speche,
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.
A Sergeant of the Lawe warè (c) and wise,
That often hadde yben at the paruis, (d)
Ther was also, ful riche of excellence.
Discrete he was, and of gret reverence:
He semed swiche, his wordés were so wise,
Justice he was ful often in assise,
By patent, and by pleine commissioun;
For his science, and for his high renoun,
Of fees and robès had he many on.
So grete a pourchasour was nowher non.
All was fee simple to him in effect,
His pourchasing might not ben in suspect. (e)
Nowher so besy a man as he ther n'as,
And yet he semed besier than he was.
In termès hadde he cas (f) and domès alle,
That fro the time of king Will. weren falle.
Therto he coude endite, and make a thing,
Ther coudè no wight pinche (g) at his writing.
And every statute coude he plaine by rote.
He rode but homely in a medlee (h) cote. (i)
(c) Wary. (d) The paruis, or portico before a church-a place frequented by lawyers. The place of the lawyers paruis in London is assigned to different places by different antiquarians.-Tyrwhitt. (e) Suspicion.
A Frankelein (a) was in this compagnie;
White was his berd, as is the dayesiè.
Of his complexion he was sanguin.
Wel loved he by the morwe (6) a sop in w
To liven in delit was ever his wone,
For he was Epicurès' owen sone,
That held opinion, that plein delit
Was veraily felicitè parfitè.
An housholder, and that a grete was he;
Seint Julian (d) he was in his contrée.
His brede, his ale, was alway after on;
A better envyned (e) man was no wher non.
Withouten bake mete never was his hous,
Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous,
It snewed (f) in his hous of mete and drinke,
Of allé deintees that men coud of thinke,
After the sondry sesons of the yere,
So changed he his mete and his soupère.
Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in mewe. (g)
And many a breme, and many a luce in stewe.
Wo was his coke, but if his sauce were
Poinant and sharpe, and redy all his gere.
His table dormant (h) in his halle alway
Stode redy covered alle the longè day.
At sessions ther was he lord and sire.
Ful often time he was knight of the shire,
An anelace (i) and a gipciere (k) all of silk,
Heng at his girdel, white as morwè (1) milk.
A shereve hadde he ben, and a countour. (m)
Was no wher swiche a worthy vavasour, (n)
(a) A freeholder of considerable estate. (6) Morning. (c) Wine. (d) The saint of hospitality. (e) Stored with wine. (f) It snewed, i. e. there was great abundance. (g) Secret.
(h) Fixed ready. () Knife. (k) Purse.
(1) Morning. (m) Mr Tyrwhitt conjectures, but merely offers it as a conjecture, that the contour was foreman of the hundred court. (n) Vavasour. Of this term Mr T. is doubtful of the meaning.
An Haberdasher, and a Carpenter,
A Webbe, (a) a Deyer, and a Tapiser, (6)
Were alle yclothed in o liverè,
Of a solempne and grete fraternité.
Ful freshe and newe hir (c) gere ypiked (d) was.
Her knivès were ychaped not with bras,
But all with silver wrought ful clene and wel,
Her girdeles and hir pouches every del. (e)
Wel semed eche of hem a fayre burgeis, (f)
To sitten in a gild halle, on the deis. (g)
Everich, for the wisdom that he can,
Was shapelich (h) for to ben an alderman,
For catel hadden they ynough and rent,
And eke hir wives wolde it wel assent:
And elles (i) certainly they were to blame.
It is ful fayre to ben ycleped madame,
And for to gon to vigiles all before,
And have a mantel reallich (k) ybore. («)
A Coke they hadden with hem for the nones, (m)
To boile the chikenes and the marie bones.
* * * *
A Shipman was ther, woned fer (n) by West :
For ought I wote, he was of Dertèmouth.
He rode upon a rouncie, (o) as he couthe.
His herberwe, (p) his mone, (q), and his lodemanage,(r)
Ther was non swiche, from Hull unto Cartage,
Hardy he was, and wise, I undertake:
With many a tempest hadde his berd be shake.
He knew wel alle the havens, as they were,
Fro Gotland, to the Cape de finistere,
(a) A weaver. (8) A maker of tapestry. (c d) Their gear was spruce. (e) Every way. (f ) Burgher. (g) The deis ; a part of the hall that was floored and set apart for a place of respect. --Tyrwhitt.
(h) Fit. (i) Else. (k) Royally. (1) Borne. (m) For the purpose. (n) Lived.
(0) Hack-horse. (p) Place of the Sun.