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He was a gentil harlot (a) and a kind ;
A better felaw shulde a man not find.
He woldè suffre for a quart of wine,
A good felaw to have his concubine
A twelve month, and excuse him at the full.
Ful prively a finch eke coude he pull.
And if he found owhere a good felawe,
He woldè techen him to have non awe
In swiche a cas of the archedekenes curse;
But if a mannès soule were in his purse;
For in his purse he shulde ypunished be.
Purse is the archèdekens helle, said he.
But wel I wote, he lied right in dede:
Of cursing ought eche gilty man him drede.
For curse wol sle right as assoiling saveth,
And also ware him of a significavit.
In danger hadde he at his owen gise
The yongè girlès of the diocise,
And knew hir conseil, and was of hir rede. ()
A gerlond hadde he sette upon his hede,
As gret as it were for an alèstake : (c)
A bokeler hadde he made him of a cake.
With him ther rode a gentil Pardonere (d)
Of Rouncevall, (e) his frend and his compere,
That streit was comen from the court of Rome.
Ful loude he sang, Come hither, love, to me.
This sompnour bare to him a stiff burdoun, (f)
Was never trompe of half so gret a soun.
This pardoner had here as yelwe (8) as wax,
But smoth it heng, as doth a strike of flax :
By unces (h) heng his lokkės that he hadde,
And therwith he his shulders overspradde.
(a) The name harlot was anciently given to men as well as women, and without any bad signification.
(6) Advised. (c) An alehouse sign. (d) Vide a former note. (e) Supposed by Stevens to be Runceval Hall, in Oxford. (J) Sang the bass. (8) Yellow. (h) Ounces.
Ful thinne it lay, by culpons (a) on and on,
But hode, for jolite, ne wered he non,
For it was trussed up in his wallet.
Him thought he rode al of the newe get,
Dishevele, sauf his cappe, he rode all bare.
Swiche glaring eyen hadde he, as an hare.
A vernicle hadde he sewed upon his cappe.
His wallet lay beforne him in his lappe,
Bret-ful (6) of pardon come from Rome al hote.
A vois he hadde, as smale as hath a gote,
No berd hadde he, ne never non shulde have,
As smothe it was as it were newè shave;
I trowe he were a gelding or a mare.
But of his craft, fro Berwike unto Ware,
Ne was ther swiche an other pardonere.
For in his male (c) he hadde a pilwebere, (d)
Which, as he saidè, was oure ladies veil :
He saide, he hadde a gobbet (e) of the seyl (f)
Thatte seint Peter had, whan that he went
Upon the see, till Jesu Crist him hent, (g)
He had a crois of laton (h) ful of stones,
And in a glas he haddè piggès bones.
But with these relikes, whannè that he fond
A pourè persone dwelling up on lond,
Upon a day he gat him more moneie
Than that the persone gat in monethes tweie.
And thus with fained flattering and japes, (i)
He made the persone, and the peple, his apes. (k)
But trewely to tellen attè last,
He was in churche a noble ecclesiast.
Wel coude he rede a lesson or a storie,
But alderbest (1) he sang an offertorie : (m)
For wel he wistè, whan that song was songe,
He mustè preche, and wel afile (n) his tonge,
(a) Shreds. (b) Brimful. (c) Budget. (d) Case. (e) Morsel
(g) Assisted, took. (h) A mixed metal of the colour of brass. (i) Tricks (k) Dupes.
(m) Part of the mass. (n) Polish
To winné silver, as he right wel coude :
Therfore he sang the merrier and loude.
This prologue is in Chaucer's broad and favour. ite style in his riper years. As a specimen of another manner, the description of the Temple of Mars, the figure of the god, and the portraits of the King of Thrace and of India, are selected from Palamon and Arcite :
In which there wonneth nether man ne best :
With knotty knarry barrein treys old,
Of stubbys shape, and hideous to behold,
In which ther was a rombyll and a swough (a)
As though a storm shulde burstein every bough,
And downward from a hill, under a bent, (6)
There stode the temple of Mars armipotent,
Wrought all of burnyd (c) stele : of which th' entre
Was long, and streight, and gastly for to se:
And therout came such a rage and avyse (d)
That it made al the gatys for to ryse. (e)
The northern light in at the doris shone,
For window on the wall ne was ther none,
Throgh which men mightin any light dissern.
The dore was al of adamant eterne,
Yclenchid overthwart and endelong,
With iron tough, for to makin it strong.
Every pillar the tempyl to sustene
Was tonne grete (f) of yren bright and shene.
The dismal group of figures assembled in this terrific abode are worthy of the harbourage. The
(6) Precipice (c) Burnished. (d) Noise. (e) “ It strained the doors ; almost forced them from their hinges." (f) A great tun; a tun weight.
first dark Ymagining of Felony, Cruel Ire, Pale Dread, the Smyter with the knife under his cloak, Wodeness (madness) laughing in his rage, Strife with bloody knives, the Slayer of himself, his hair bathed in his heart's blood, are some of the figures in this sublime and horrible group. The form of the god himself is yet more boldly sketched :
The statue of Mars upon a cart (a) ystode,
Armid, and lokid grym as he were wode.
A wolfe ther stod before him at his fete
With eyin red, and of a man he ete.
This noble poem is paraphrased by Dryden, as has been mentioned. In his works it may be seen in modern English and flowing numbers ; but we cannot help regretting, that Chaucer's emendators have so often, in eking his lines, lopped his thoughts:
Ther mayst 'ou (6) see, commyng with Palamon,
Lycurgus himself, the grete king of Thrace ;
Blake was his berde, and manly was his face :
The circles of his eyin in his hede
They glowdin betwixtè yalowe and rede :
And like a lyon lokid he about,
With kempid heris on his browis stout :
His limis grete, his brawnis herd and strong,
His shulderes brode, his armis round and long.
And as the guise ywas in his contre
Full high upon a char of gold stode he:
With four grete white bullis in the tracis.
Instead of court cote armur, on his harneis
With yalowe nailes, and bright as any gold,
He hath a beris (a) skinn cole-blak for old.
His long here was kemped behind his bak,
As any raven’s fether't shone for blak.
A wrethe of golde armgrete, (b) of huge weight,
Upon his hed, sett ful of stonis bright,
Of fine rubies, and clere diamondes.
About his char ther wentin white alandes, (c)
Twentie and more, as grete as any stere,
To huntin at the lyon or wild bere ;
And folowid him with mosil (d) fast ybound,
Coleres of gold and torretes (e) filid (f) round.
A hundrid lordis had he
Armid ful wele, with hertis stern and stout.
With Arcitè, in storys as men find,
The grete Emetrius, the king of Ind,
Upon a stedè bay, trappid in stele,
Coverid with clothe of gold diaprid (g) wel,
Cam riding like the god of armis, Mars :
His cote armure was of the clothes of Tars, (h)
Couchid with perles white, and round, and grete ;
His sadill was of brent (i) gold new ybete.
A mantlet upon his shuldères hanging,
Bretfull (k) of rubies redde as fire sparkling.
His crispè here like ringes (l) was yronne,
And yt was yalowe, glittering as the sonne.
His nose was high, his eyin bright citryn, (m)
Ruddy his lippes, his colour was sangyn.
And a fewe frekles in his face yspreint, (n)
Betwixt yalowe and somedele blak ymeint. (0)
(a) A bear's. (6) As big as your arm. (c) Greyhounds. (d) Muzzle. (e) Rings. The fastening of dog's collars. (f) Filed ; highly polished.
(g) Embroidered ; diversified. (h) Not of Tarsus in Cilicia; it is rather an abbreviation for Tartarin, or Tartarium. (i) Burnt ; burnished. (k) Quite full. (1) Rings. (m) Lemoncolour, (n) Sprinkled. (0) A mixture of black and yellow