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THE COKES TALE.

A PRENTIS whilom dwelt in our citee,
And of a craft of vitaillers was he:

Gaillard he was, as goldfinch in the shawe,
Broune as a bery, a propre short felawe:
With lokkes blake, kembed ful fetisly.
Dancen he coude so wel and jolily,
That he was cleped Perkin Revelour.
He was as ful of love and paramour,
As is the hive ful of hony swete;

Wel was the wenche with him mighte mete.
At every bridale would he sing and hoppe;
He loved bet the taverne than the shoppe.
For whan ther any riding was in Chepe,
Out of the shoppe thider wold he lepe,
And til that he had all the sight ysein,
And danced wel, he wold not come agein;
And gadred him a meinie of his sort,

To hoppe and sing, and maken swiche disport:
And ther they setten steven for to mete
To plaien at the dis in swiche a strete.
For in the toun ne was ther no prentis,
That fairer coude caste a pair of dis
Than Perkin coude, and therto he was fre
Of his dispence, in place of privetee.
That fond his maister wel in his chaffare,
For often time he fond his box ful bare.
For sothly, a prentis, a revelour,
That hanteth dis, riot and
paramour,
His maister shal it in his shoppe abie,
Al have he no part of the minstralcie.

For theft and riot they ben convertible,
Al can they play on giterne or ribible.
Revel and trouth, as in a low degree,
They ben ful wroth all day, as men may see.
This joly prentis with his maister abode,
Til he was neigh out of his prentishode,
Al were he snibbed bothe erly and late,
And somtime lad with revel to Newgate.
But at the last his maister him bethought
Upon a day, when he his paper sought,
Of a proverbe, that saith this same word;
Wel bet is roten appel out of hord,
Than that it rote alle the remenant:
So fareth it by a riotous servant;
It is wel lasse harm to let him pace,
Than he shende all the servants in the place.
Therfore his maister yaf him a quitance,

And bad him go, with sorwe and with meschance. And thus this joly prentis had his leve:

Now let him riot all the night or leve.

And for ther n'is no thefe without a louke,
That helpeth him to wasten and to souke
Of that he briben can, or borwe may,
Anon he sent his bed and his array
Unto a compere of his owen sort,
That loved dis, and riot, and disport;
And had a wif, that held for contenance
A shoppe, and swived for hire sustenance.

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THE MAN OF LAWES PROLOGUE.

OUR Hoste saw wel, that the brighte sonne
The ark of his artificial day had ronne
The fourthe part, and half an houre and more;
And though he were not depe expert in lore,
He wiste it was the eighte and twenty day
Of April, that is messager to May;

And saw wel that the shadow of every tree
Was as in lengthe of the same quantitee
That was the body erect, that caused it;
And therfore by the shadow he toke his wit,
That Phebus, which that shone so clere and bright,
Degrees was five and fourty clombe on hight;
And for that day, as in that latitude,
It was ten of the clok, he gan conclude;
And sodenly he plight his hors aboute.

Lordings, quod he, I warne you all this route,
The fourthe partie of this day is gon,
Now for the love of God and of Seint John
Leseth no time, as ferforth as ye may.
Lordings, the time it wasteth night and day,
And steleth from us, what prively sleping,
And what thurgh negligence in our waking,
As doth the streme, that turneth never again,
Descending fro the montagne into a plain.
Wel can Senek and many a philosophre
Bewailen time, more than gold in coffre.
For losse of catel may recovered be,
But losse of time shendeth us, quod he.
It wol not come again withouten drede,
No more than wol Malkins maidenhede,

Whan she hath lost it in hire wantonnesse.
Let us not moulen thus in idlenesse.

Sire man of Lawe, quod he, so have ye blis, Tell us a tale anon, as forword is.

Ye ben submitted thurgh your free assent
To stonde in this cas at my jugement.
Acquiteth you now, and holdeth your behest;
Than have ye don your devoir at the lest.

Hoste, quod he, de par dieux jeo assente,
To breken forword is not min entente.
Behest is dette, and I wold hold it fayn
All my behest, I can no better sayn.
For swiche lawe as man yeveth another wight,
He shuld himselven usen it by right.
Thus wol our text: but natheles certain
I can right now no thrifty tale sain,
But Chaucer (though he can but lewedly
On metres and on riming craftily)

Hath sayd hem, in swiche English as he can,
Of olde time, as knoweth many a man.
And if he have not sayd hem, leve brother,
In o book, he hath sayd hem in another.
For he hath told of lovers up and doun,
Mo than Ovide made of mentioun
In his Epistolis, that ben ful olde.

What shuld I tellen hem, sin they ben tolde?
In youthe he made of Ceys and Alcyon,
And sithen hath he spoke of everich on
Thise noble wives, and thise lovers eke.
Who so that wol his large volume seke
Cleped the seintes legende of Cupide:
Ther may he se the large woundes wide
Of Lucrece, and of Babylon Thisbe;
The swerd of Dido for the false Enee;

The tree of Phillis for hire Demophon;
The plaint of Deianire, and Hermion,
Of Adriane, and Ysiphilee;

The barreine ile stonding in the see;
The dreint Leandre for his fayre Hero;
The teres of Heleine, and eke the wo
Of Briseide, and of Ladomia;
The crueltee of thee, quene Medea,
Thy litel children hanging by the hals,
For thy Jason, that was of love so fals.
O Hipermestra, Penelope, Alceste,
Your wifhood he commendeth with the beste,
But certainly no word ne writeth he
Of thilke wicke ensample of Canace,
That loved hire owen brother sinfully;
(Of all swiche cursed stories I say fy)
Or elles of Tyrius Appolonius,
How that the cursed king Antiochus
Beraft his doughter of hire maidenhede,
That is so horrible a tale for to rede,
Whan he hire threw upon the pavement.
And therfore he of ful avisement
N'old never write in non of his sermons
Of swiche unkinde abhominations;
Ne I wol non reherse, if that I may.
But of my tale how shal I don this day?
Me were loth to be likened douteles
To Muses, that men clepe Pierides,
(Metamorphoseos wote what I mene)
But natheles I recche not a bene,

Though I come after him with hawebake,
I speke in prose, and let him rimes make.
And with that word, he with a sobre chere
Began his tale, and sayde, as ye shull here,

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