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And every creke in Bretagne and in Spaine :
His barge ycleped was the Magdelaine.
With us ther was a Doctour of Phisike,
In all this world ne was ther non him like
To speke of phisike, and of surgerie :
For he was grounded in astronomie.
He kept his patient a ful gret del
In hourès by his magike naturel.
Wel coude he fortunen (a) the ascendent (6)
Of his images for his patient.
He knew the cause of every maladie,
Were it of cold, or hote, or moist, or drie,
And wher engendred, and of what humour,
He was a veray parfite practisour.
The cause yknowe, and of his arm the rote, (c)
Anon he gave to the sike man his bote. (d)
Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries
To send him draggès, (e) and his lettuaries, (f)
For eche of hem made other for to winne;
Hir frendship n'as not newè to beginne,
Wel knew he the old Esculapius,
And Dioscorides, and eke Rufus ;
Old Hippocras, Hali, and Gallien;
Serapion, Rasis, and Avicen ;
Averriois, Damascene, and Constantin ;
Bernard, and Gatisden, and Gilbertin.
Of his diete mesurable was he,
For it was of no superfluitee,
But of gret nourishing, and digestible.
His studie was but litel on the Bible.
In sanguin (8) and in perse (h) he clad was alle
Lined with taffata, and with sendalle. (i)
And yet he was but esy of dispence, (k)
He kepte that he wan (l) in the pestilence.
(a) Make fortunate. (6) The ascendant. (c) Root. (d) Remedy.
(f) Electuaries. (g) Blood-red colour.
(h) Sky-coloured, or blueish grey. (i) Thin silk.
(k) Expense. (1) Gained, got.
For gold in phisike is a cordial ;
Therfore he loved gold in special.
A good Wif was ther of besidè Bathe,
But she was som del defe, and that was scathe. (a)
Of cloth making she hadde swiche an haunt,
She passed hem of Ipres, and of Gaunt.
In all the parish wif ne was ther non,
That to the offring before hire shulde gon,
And if ther did, certain so wroth was she,
That she was out of allé charitee.
Hire coverchiefs weren ful fine of ground;
I dorstè swere, they weyeden (6) a pound;
That on the Sonday were upon hire hede.
Hire hosen weren of fine scarlet rede,
Ful streite yteyed, (c) and shoon ful moist and newe.
Bold was hire face, and fayre and rede of hew.
She was a worthy woman all hire live,
Housbondes at the chirche dore had she had five,
Withouten other compagnie in youthe.
But therof nedeth not to speke as nouthe. (d)
And thries hadde she ben at Jerusaleme.
She hadde passed many a strangè streme.
At Rome she haddè ben, and at Boloine,
In Galice at Seint James, and at Coloine.
She coudé (e) moche of wandring by the way.
Gat-tothed was she, sothly for to say.
Upon an ambler esily she sat,
Ywimpled wel, and on hire hede an hat,
As brode as is a bokeler, or a targe.
A fote-mantel (f ) about hire hippès large,
And on hire fete a pair of sporres sharpe.
In felawship wel coude she laughe and carpe (g)
Of remedies of love she knew perchance.
For of that arte she coude the oldè dance.
A good man ther was of religioun,
That was a pourè Persone (h) of a toun :
(c) Tied. (d) Now; adv. (e) Knew. (f) A riding petticoat. (g) Talk.
But riche he was of holy thought and werk.
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That Cristès gospel trewely woldè preche.
His parishens devoutly wolde he teche.
Benigne he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversite ful patient :
And swiche he was ypreved (a) often sithes. (6)
Ful loth were him to cursen for his tithes,
But rather wolde he yeven (c) out of doute,
Unto his pourè parishens aboute,
Of his offring, and eke of his substance.
He coude in litel thing have suffisance.
Wide was his parish, and houses fer asоnder,
But he ne left nought for no rain ne thonder,
In sikenesse and in mischief to visite
The ferrest in his parish, moche and lite, (d)
Upon his fete, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensample to his shepe he yaf, (e)
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
Out of the gospel he the wordès caught,
And this figure he added yet therto,
That if golde rustè, what shuld iron do?
For if a preest be foule, on whom we trust,
No wonder is a lewed man to rust:
And shame it is, if that a preest take kepe,
To see a shitten shepherd, and clene shepe :
Wel ought a preest ensample for to yeve,
By his clenenessé, how his shepe shulde live.
He settè not his benefice to hire,
And lette his shepe acombred in the mire,
And ran unto London, unto Seint Poules,
To seken him a chanterie for soules,
Or with a brotherhede to be withold:
But dwelt at home, and keptè wel his fold,
So that the wolf ne made it not miscarie.
He was a shepherd, and no mercenarie.
(c) Give. (d) The nearest and most distant of his parishioners. (e) Gave.
And though he holy were, and vertuous,
He was to sinful men not dispitous,
Ne of his speche dangerous ne digne,
But in his teaching discrete and benigne.
To drawen folk to heven, with fairènesse,
By good ensample, was his besinesse :
But it were any persone obstinat,
What so he were of highe, or low estat
Him wolde he snibben (a) sharply for the nonės.
A better preest, I trowe, that no wher (b) non is.
He waited after no pompe ne reverence,
Ne maked him no spiced (c) conscience,
But Cristès lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught, but first he folwed it himselve.
With him ther was a Plowman, was his brother,
That hadde ylaid of dong (d) ful many a fother. (e)
A trewe swinker, and a good was he,
Living in pees, (f) and parfite charitee.
God loved he beste with all his herte
At alle timès, were it gain or smerte, (g)
And than his neighèbour right as himselve
He woldè thresh, and therto dike, and delve,
For Cristė's sake, for every pouré wight,
Withouten hire, if it lay in his might.
His tithès paied he ful fayre and wel
Both of his propre swinke, and his catel.
In a tabard he rode upon a mere.
Ther was also a reve, and a millere,
A sompnour, (h) and an pardoner (i) also,
A manciple, (k) and myself, ther n'ere no mo.
(a) Snub, reprove. (b) No where (c) Nice, in an affected sense.
(e) Load. (f) Peace. (g) Pain. (h) A sompnour, an officer employed to summon delinquents in ecclesiastical courts, now called an apparitor.-Tyrwhitt. (i) A pardoner, a seller of pardons or indulgences.
(k) A manciple, an officer who has the care of furnishing victuals for an Inn of court.
The Miller was a stout carl for the nones,
Ful bigge he was of braun, and eke of bones ;
That proved wel, for over all ther he came,
At wrastling he wold bere away the ram. (a)
He was short shuldered, brode, a thikke gnarre, (6)
Ther n'as no dore, that he n'olde heve of barre,
Or breke it at a renning (c) with his hede.
His berd as any sowe or fox was rede,
And therto brode, as though it were a spade.
Upon the cop (d) right of his nose he hade
A wert, and theron stode a tufte of heres,
Rede as the bristles of a sowės eres.
His nosè-thirlès (e) blacké were and wide.
A swerde and bokeler bare he by his side.
His mouth as wide was as a forneis.
He was a jangler, (f) and a goliardeis, (g)
And that was most of sinne, and harlotries.
Wel coude he stelen corne, and tollen thries.
And yet he had a thomb (h) of gold parde. (i)
A white cote and a blew hode wered he.
A baggèpipe wel coude he blowe and soune,
And therwithall he brought us out of toune.
A gentil Manciple (k) was ther of a temple,
Of which achatours (1) mighten take ensemple
For to ben wise in bying of vitaille.
For whether that he paide, or toke by taille,
Algate he waited so in his achate, (m)
That he was ay before in good estate.
Now is not that of God a ful fayre grace,
That swiche a lewed mannès wit shal pace
The wisdom of an hepe of lered men ?
Of maisters had he mo than thriès ten,
(a) The prize. (6) A hard knot in a tree. (c) A running. (d) Top (e) Nostrils. (J) Prater. (g) Buffoon. (hi) He was as honest as other millers, though he had, according to the proverb, like every miller, a thumb of gold. (k) Vide note (k) on the preceding page. () Purchasers. (m) Purchase.