Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

If I thee excuse, though thou shuldest be spilt
Alas ! quod she, God wot I have no gilt.

Pay me, quod he, or by the swete Seinte Anne
As I wol bere away thy newè panne
For dette which thou owest me of old,
Whan that thou madest thyn husbond cokėwold,
I paied at home for thy correction.

Thou liest, quod she, by my salvatïon ;
Ne was I never or now, widew ne wif,
Sompned unto your court in all my lif,
Ne never I n'as but of my body trewe.
Unto the devil rough and blake of hewe
Yeve I thy body and my panne also.

And whan the devil herd hire cursen so
Upon hire knees, he sayd in this manere;

Now, Mabily, min owen moder dere,
Is this your will in earnest that ye say ?

The devil, quod she, so fetche him or he dey,
And panne and all, but he wol him repent.

Nay, oldè stot, that is not min entent,
Quod this Sompnour, for to repenten me
For anything that I have had of thee:
I wold I had thy smok and every cloth.

Now, brother, quod the devil, be not wroth;
Thy body and this panne ben min by right:
Thou shalt with me to hellè yet to-night,

“ Alas !" cried she, “God knows I'm innocent! I've done nothing in the world."

“Pay me,” interrupted the summoner, “or I'll carry away the new pan I see yonder. You have owed me as much years ago, for getting you out of that scrape about your husband.”

“ Scrape about my husband !” cried the old widow. What scrape! You are a lying wretch. I never was in any scrape about my husband, or anything ; nor ever summoned into your court in all my born Jays. Go to the devil yourself. May he take you and the pan together.”

The poor old soul fell on her knees as she said these words, in order to give the greater strength to the imprecation.

“Now, Mabel, my good mother,” cried the devil,“ do you speak this in earnest ?”

“Ay, marry do I,” cried she “May the devil fetch him, pan and all; that is to say, unless he repents.”

“ Repent!" exclaimed the summoner : “ I'd sooner take every sag you have on your bones, you old reprobate.”

“Now, brother," said the devil, “ calm your feelings. I'm very sorry, but you must e’en go where the old woman desires. You and the pan are

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

mine. We must arrive to-night; and then you'll know more about us all and our craft, than ever was discovered by Doctor of Divinity,”

And with these words, sure enough, the devil carried him off. He took him to the place where summoners are in the habit of going.

a

Gentlemen (said the pardoner), whenever I preach in the pulpit, I make a point of being as noisy as possible, ringing the whole sermon out as loud as a bell; for which purpose I get it by heart. My text is always the same, and ever was :

* Radix malorum est cupiditas." I stretch forth my neck and nod on the congregation right and left, like a dove sitting on a barn; and my hands and my tongue go so busily together, that it is a pleasure to see me. I preach against nothing but avarice, and cursed vices of that sort; for my only object is to make the people disburse freely; videlicet, unto myself. My sermon has never any other purpose

I recke never whan that they be beried,
Though that hire soulés gon a blake-beried.

Therefore my teme is yet, and ever was,
Radix MALORUM EST CUPDITAS.

1 “ Radir malorum est cupiditas.”—Covetousness is the root of all evil.—Those critics who supposed that Chaucer, notwithstanding his intimacy with the Latin and Italian poets, and his own hatred of " mis-metre," had no settled rules of versification, would have done well to consider the rhythmical exactitude with which he fits Latin quotations into his lines. See another instance in the extract entitled Gallantry of Translation. He is far more particular in this respect than versifiers of later ages.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

I care nothing for the amendment of the disbursers. When the sexton is ready for them, I have done with them. They may go where they please for me, by millions, like black-berries. Therefore my only text, I say, is still, and always was,

Radix malorum est cupiditas."

A wife is the gift of Heaven :-there's no doubt of it. Every other kind of gift, such as lands, rents, furniture, right of pasture or common,-these are all mere gifts of fortune, that pass away like shadows on a wall; but you have to apprehend no such misfortune with a wife Your wife will last Innger, perhaps, even than you may desire

A wif? A! Seinte Marie, henedicite!
How might a man have any adversite
That hath a wif? certěs I cannot seye.
The blisse the which that is betwix hem tweye
Ther may no tongě telle or hertě thinke.
If he be poure, she helpeth him to swinke;
She kepeth his goods, and wasteth never a del;
All that hire husbond doth, hire liketh wel:
She saith not oněs, Nay, whan he saith, Ye.
Do this, saith he ; Al redy, sire, saith she.

O blissful ordre, o wedlok precious !
Thou art so mery and eke so vertuous,
And so commended and apprověd eke,
That every man that holt him worth a leke,
Upon his barě knees ought, all his lif,
Thanken his God that him hath sent a wif,
Or ellěs pray to God him for to send
A wife to last unto his livěs end;
For than his lif is set in sikerness,
He may not be deceivěd, as I gesse,
So that he werche after his wivěs rede ;
Than may he boldly berēn up his hede,
They ben so trewe, and therwithal so wise;
For which, if thou wilt werchen as the wise,
Do alway so as women wol thee rede.

A wife: Why, bless my soul, how can a man have any adversity that has a wife? Answer me that. Tongue cannot tell, nor heart think, of the felicity there is between a man and his wife. If he is poor, she belps him to work. She takes care of his money for him, and never wastes anything. She never says “yes,” when he says “ no.” “ Do this,” says he. “Di. rectly,” says she.

O blessed institution ! O precious wedlock! thou art so joyous, and at the same time so virtuous, and so recommended to us all, and so approved by us all, that every man who is worth a farthing should go down on his bare knees, every day of his existence, and thank Heaven for having sent him a wife; or if he hasn't got one, he ought to pray for one, and beg that she may last him to his life's end; for his life, in that case, is set in security. Nothing can deceive him.

He has only to act by his wife's advice, and he may hold up his head with the best. A wife is so true,-so wise. Oh! ever while you live take your wife's advice, if you would be thought a wise man.

5*

GALLANTRY OF TRANSLATION.

In the fable of the Cock and the Fox, the Cock, who has been alarmed by a dream, and consulting about it with his wife Dame Partlet, quotes a Latin sentence which tells us, that “woman is man's confusion,” but he contrives at once to retain the satire, and make the lady feel grateful for it, by the following exquisite version :

But let us speke of mirthe, and stinte all this.
Madàmě Pertelot, so have I blis,
Of o thing God hath sent me largě grace :
For whan I see the beautee of your face,
Ye ben so scarlet red about your eyen,
It maketh all my dredě for to dien;
For, al so sicker as IN PRINCIPIO,
MULIER EST HOMINIS CONFUSIO.
Madame, the sentence of this Latine is,
Woman is mannés joye and manněs blis.'

1 “ Woman is manněs joy and manněs blis.”—Or as the same words would have been written at a later day :

Woman is man his joy and man his bliss.

The Latin quotation is from the writings of a Dominican friar, Vincent de Beauvais. Sir Walter Scott was much taken with this wicked jest of Chanticleer’s. “The Cock's polite version,” says he, “is very ludicrous." (Edition of Drydon, vol. xi., p.

. 340.) Dryden's translation of the passage is very inferior to the original :

“Madam, the meaning of this Latin is,
That woman is to man his sovereign bliss.”

But let us speak of mirth, and put an end to all this. Madame Partlet, as I hope to be saved, Heaven has shown me special favor in one respect, for when I behold the beauty of your face, you are so scarlet red about the eyes, it is impossible for me to dread anything.

There is an old and a true saying, the same now as it was in the beginning of the world, and that is, Mulier est hominis confusio. Madam, the mean ing of this Latin is,-Woman is man's joy and man's bliss.

« ElőzőTovább »