Quod this chanoun : “Yet wol I make assay
The second time, that ye mow taken heed
And ben expert of this ; and in your need
Another day assay in mine absence
This discipline and this crafty science.
Let take another ouncè," quod he tho,
“Of quicksilver, withouten wordes mo,
And do therewith as ye have done ere this
With that other which that now silver is."
The priest him busyeth in all that he can
To doon as this chanoun, this cursèd man,
Commanded him ; and faste blew the fire
For to come to the effect of his desire.
And this chanoun right in the meanewhile
All ready was this priest eft to beguile;
And, for a countenance, in his hond bare
An hollow sticke (take keep and be ware)
In the end of which an ounce and no more
Of silver limayl put was, as before
Was in his coal, and stopped with wex well
For to keep in his limayl every del.
But, while the priest was in his business,
This chanoun with his sticke gan him dress
To him anon, and his powder

cast in,
As he did ere (the devil out of his skin
Him turn, I pray to God, for his falsehead,
For he was ever false in word and deed !)
And with this stick above the croslet,
That was ordained with that false get,2
He stirred the coales, till relente gan
The wex again the fire-as every man,
But it a fool be, woot well it moot need ;
And all that in the hole was out-yede,
And into the croslet hastily it fell

Now, good sirès, what wol ye bet than well?
Whan that this priest thus was beguiled again-
Supposing not but truthe, sooth to sayn,-
He was so glad that I can nought express
In no manner his mirth and his gladness :
And to the chanoun he proffered eftsoon
Body and good.

“Yea," quod the chanoun, "soon, Though poor I be, crafty thou shalt me find : I warne thee, yet is there more behind. Is there any copper here within ?" quod he. “Yea, sir,” quod this priest, “I trowe there be."

i Contrivance, device.


“Elles go buye some, and that as swithè.
Now, good sirè, go forth thy way and hie thee."
He went his way, and with this copper came :
And this chanoun it in his hondès name,
And of that copper weighed out but an ounce.
All too simple is my tongue to pronounce,
As minister of my wit, the doubleness
Of this chanoun, root of all cursedness.
He seemed friendly to hem that knew him nought,
But he was fiendly, both in work and thought.
It wearieth me to tell of his falseness :
And nathèless yit wol I it express,
To that intent men may be ware thereby,
And for none other causè truely.
He put this ounce of copper in the croslet ;
And on the fire als swithe he hath it set,
And cast in powder, and made the priest to blow :
And, in his worching for to stoope low,
As he did ere (and all nas but a jape),
Right as him list the priest he made his ape.
And afterward in the ingot he it cast;
And in the panne put it, atte last,
Of water, and in he put his owne hond.
And in his sleevè, as ye bèfornhond
Hearde me tell, he had a silver teyne.
He slyly took it out, this cursèd heyne
(Unwittinge this priest of his false craft),
And in the panne's bottom he hath it laft,
And in the water rumbleth to and fro;
And wonder privily took up also
The copper teynė (nought knowing this priest),
And hid it, and him hente by the breast,
And to him spake, and thus said in his game :
"Stoopeth adown! by God, ye ben to blame !
Helpeth me now, as I'dede you whilere :
Put in your hond, and looke what is there.
This priest took up this silver teyne anon.
And thannè said the chanoun: “Let us gone,
With these three teynès which that we han wrought,
To some goldsmith, and wite if it be aught.
For by my faith I noldè, for mine hood,
But if they were silver fine and good ;
And that as swithè provèd shall it be.”
Unto the goldsmith with these teynės three
They went, and put these teynès in assay
To fire and hammer : might no man say nay
But that they were as hem oughte be.

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This sotted priest, who was gladder than he ?
Was never brid gladder again the day;
Ne nightingale in the seasoun of May
Was never none that list better to sing ;
Ne lady lustier in caroling,
Or for to speak of love and womanhede;
Ne knight in armes doon an hardy deed
To stond in grace of his lady dear,-
Than hadde this priest this craft for to lere.
And to the chanoun thus he spake and said :
“For the love of God, that for us alle deyd,
And as I may deserve it unto yow,
What shall this receipt costè ?' Telleth now.”
" By our Lady,” quod the chanoun, “it is dear,
I warn you well ; for, save I and a frere,
In Engelond there can no man it make.”

No force," quod he ; "now, sir, for Goddes sake,
What shall I paye? Telleth me, I pray."
"I wis,” quoth he, “it is full dear, I say.
Sir, at a word, if that ye lust it have,
Ye shul pay fourty pound, so God me save:
And, nere the friendship that ye dede ere this
To me, ye shoulde paye more, I wis."
This priest the sum of fourty pound anon
Of nobles fett, and took hem everychone
To this chanoun, for this ilkè receipt.
All his working nas but fraud and deceit.
“Sir priest,” he said, “I keepè have no los 1
Of my craft, for I would it kept were close;
And, as ye loveth me, keep it secrè.
For, and men knewe all my subtlety,
By God, men woulden have so great envý
To me, because of my philosophy,
I should be dead—there were none other way.”
“God it forbedè !” quoth the priest : “What say?
Yet had I liever spenden all the good
Which that I have (and elles wax I wood)
Than that ye shoulde fall in such mischief:
“For your good will, sir, have ye right good preef,'
Quoth the chanoun, “and farewell, graunt-mercy.'
He went his way; and never the priest him sey
After this day. And, whan that this priest should
Maken assay, at such time as he would,
Of this receipt-farewell, it would not be.

1 Praise.

Lo! thus bejaped and beguilt was he !
Thus maketh he his introduction
To bringe folk to here destruction.
Considereth, sirs, how that in each astate
Betwixe men and gold there is debate,
So ferforth that unnethè there is none.
This multiplying? blent so many one
That in good faith I trowe that it be
The cause grettest of swich scarcity.
Philosophers speaken so mistily
In this craft that men connot come thereby,
For any wit that men han now-on-days.
They may well chitteren, as doon these jays,
And in here termes sette lust and pain,
But to here purpose shul they never attain.
A man may lightly learn, if he have aught,
To multiply, and bring his good to naught.
Lo, such a lucre is in this lusty game !
A manne's mirth it wol turn into grame,
And empty also great and heavy purses,
And makė folk for to purchasè curses
Of hem that han here good thereto ylent.
Oh fie for shame! They that have been brent,
Alas! can they not flee the fire's heat ?
Ye that it usen, I rede ye it lete,
Lest ye lesen all; for bet than never is late,-
Never to thrive were too long a date.
Though ye proll 2 all, ye shul it never find.
Ye been as bold as is Bayard the blind, 3
That blundereth forth, and peril casteth none :
He is as bold to ren again a stone
As for to go besides in the way :-
So farè ye that multiply, I say.
If that your eyen can nought see aright,
Look that your minde lacke nought his sight :
For, though ye look never so broad, and stare,
Ye shul nought win a mite on that chaffare,
But wasten all, that they may rape and ren.
Withdraw the fire, lest it too faste brenn :
Meddleth no more with that art, I mean,-
For, gif ye doon, your thrift is gone full clean.
And right as swithe I wol you telle here
What philosophers sayn in this mattere.
Lo thus saith Arnold of the Newe Toun,

As his Rosary maketh mention,1 Multiplying of precious metals, alchemy 2 Prowl, search for. 3A popular old,proverb—"Bayard" being understood as the name of a horse. 4 Arnold de Villeneuve, author of the Rosarius Philosophorum.

He saith right thus, withouten any lie :
“ There may no man Mercury mortify,
But it be with his brother knowleching:
Lo how that he which that first said this thing
Of philosophers fader was, Hermès :
He saith how that the dragoun doubteless
He dieth nought but if that he be slain
With his brother :—and that is for to sayn,
By the dragoun, Mercury, and none other,
He understood, and brimstone be his brother,
That out of Sol and Luna were ydraw.
And therefore, said he, ‘Take heed to my saw :-
Let no man busy him this art to seech
But if that he the intention and speech
Of philosophers understondè can;
And, if he do, he is a lewed man :
For this science and this cunning,' quod he,
'Is of the Secrè of Secrets, pardie.'
Also there was a disciple of Plato
That on a time saide his master to,
As his book Senior 2 will bear witness,
And this was his demand in soothfastness :
“Tell me the name of thilkè privy stone."
And Plato answered unto him anon,
“Take the stone that titanos men name.
“Which is that ?" quod he. “Magnasia is the same,
Saide Plató. Yea, sir, and is it thus?
This is ignotum per ignotius.
What is magnasia, good sir, I you pray?"
“It is a water that is made, I say,
Of elementes foure," quod Plató.
Tell me the rotè,good sir,” quod he tho,
“Of that water, if it be your will."
“Nay, nay," quod Plato, “certain that I nill.
The philosophers sworn were everychone
That they ne should discover it unto none,
Ne in no book it write in no mannere ;
For unto Christ it is so lief and dear
That he will not that it discovered be
But where it liketh to his deity
Man to inspire, and eke for to defend 4
Whom that him liketh:-lo, this is the end.”
Than thus conclude I: sin' that God of heaven

Ne wol not that the philosophers neven5 1 An allusion to a treatise, Secreta Secretorum, which was supposed to embody Aristotle's instructions to Alexander.

2 The book is named Senioris Zadith fil. Hamuelis Tabula Chymica. The story in this work (quoted by Chaucer) is related of Solomon-not Plato. 3 Root, source.

4 Prohibit.

5 Name, notify

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