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UNivm-'TY OF

Sire Topas and j gret Glaunt Olipbaant




JJttmt tfje







D. APPLETON & CO., 346 & 348 BROADWAY,







WHANNE that April with his shonres sote 1
The droughts of March hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every veine in swiche 2 licour,
Of whiche vertuo engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eke with his sote bretho
Enspired hath in every holt 3 and hethe
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Earn 4 his halfe cours yronne,

1 Sweet. * Such. s Grove.

4 It seems to have been the intention of Chaucer, in the first lines ot
the Prologue, to mark with some exactness the time of his supposed
pilgrimage; but unluckily the two circumstances of his description,
which were most likely to answer that purpose, are each of them irre-
concilable to the other. When he tells us that " the shoures of April
had peiced to the rote the drought of March," we must suppose, in order
to allow due time for such an operation, that April was far advanced;
while, on the other hand, the place of the sun, " having just run half his
course in the ttam," restrains us to some day in the very latter end of
March; as the vernal equinox, in the age of Chaucer, according to his
own treatise on the Astrolabe, was computed to happen on the 12th of
Jlarch. This difficulty may, and I think should, be removed by reading
in ver. 8, the Bull, instead of the Itain. All the parts of the description
will then be consistent." Tyrwhitt.

An ingenious writer (to whom we shall hereafter be frequently indebted),
in Notet and Queries, \. iii. p. 3 1C, has opposed this conjecture, remarking,
that " there are ho less than two ways of understanding the seventh and
eighth lines of the Prologue so as to be perfectly in accordance with the
rest of the description. One of these would be to suppose the sign Aries
divided into two portions (not necessarily equal in the phraseology of
the time), one of which would appertain to March and the other to
April ; and that Chaucer, by the ' balfe cours yronne,' meant the last,
or the April, ball' of the sign Aries. But I think a more probable sup-



And smale foules 1 maken melodic,

That slepen alle night with open eye,

So priketh hem nature in hir corages ;

Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,

And palmeres for to seken strange strondes,

To serve halwes couthe 2 in sondry londesj

And specially, from every shires ende

Of Englelond, to Canterbury they wende,

The holy blisful martyr for to seke,

That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.

Befelle, that, in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard 3 as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with devoute corage,
At night was come into that hostelrie
Wei nine and twenty in a compaguie

position still would be to imagine the month of April, of which Chaucer
was speaking, to be divided into two 'halfe cours,' in one of which the
sun would be in Aries, and in the other in Taurus ; and that when
Chaucer says that 'the yonge sonne had in the Ram his halfe cours
yronne,' he meant that the Ariet half of the month of April had been ran
through, thereby indicating, in general terms, some time approaching to
the middle of April." The same writer observes, that " the whole of the
opening of the Prologue, down to verse 19, is descriptive, not of any par-
ticular days, but of the usual season of pilgrimages ; and Chaucer himself
plainly declares, by the words ' in that season, on a day,' that the day is
at yet indefinite." See also, Hid., p. 515, and the note on v. 17,322.

1 Birds. 2 Known.

* They who are disposed to believe the pilgrimage to have been real,
and to have happened in 1383, may support their opinion by the follow-
ing inscription, which is still to be read upon the inn, now called the
Talbot, in Southwark: " This is the Inn where Sir Jeffrey Chaucer and
the twenty-nine Pilgrims lodged in their journey to Canterbury, Anno
1383." Though the present inscription is evidently of a very recent
date, we might suppose it to have been propagated to us by a succession
of faithful transcripts from the very time ; but unluckily there is too good
reason to be assured that the first inscription of this sort was not earlier
than the last century. Mr. Speght, who appears to have been inquisitive
concerning this inn in 1597, has left us this account of it in his Glossary,
v. Tabard: " Ajaquet, or slevelesse coate, worne in times past by noble-
men in the warres, but now onely by heraults, and is called theyrc coate
of armes in servisc. It is the signe of an inne in Southwarke by London,
within the which was the lodging of the Abbot of Hyde by Winchester.
This is the hostelry where Chaucer and the other pilgrims mett together,
and, with Ilenry Baily their lioste, accorded about the manner of their
journey to Canterbury. And whereas through time it hath bin much
decaied, it is now by Master J. Preston, with the abbot's house thereto

25-44. THE PROLOGUE. 3

Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
In felawship, and pilgrimes were they alle,
That toward Canterbury wolden ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And wel we weren esed 2 atte beste.

And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to resto,
So hadde I spoken with hem everich on, 3
That I was of hir 4 felawship anon,
And made forword erly for to rise,
To take oure way ther as I you devise.

But natheles, while I have time and space,
Or that I forther in this tale pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to reson,
To tellen you alle the condition
Of eche of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degre ;
And eke in what araie that they were inne :
And at a knight than wol I firste beginne.

A knight 5 ther was, and that a worthy man,'
That fro the time that he firste began

adjoined, newly repaired, and with convenient roomes much encreased,
for the receipt of many guests."

If any inscription of this kind bad then been there, he would hardly
have omitted to mention it; and therefore I am persuaded it has been
put up since his time, and most probably when the sign was changed
from the Tabard to the Talbot, in order to preserve the ancient glory of
the house, notwithstanding its new title. Whoever furnished the date,
must be allowed to have at least invented plausibly.

While I am upon the subject of this famous hostelry.t will just add,
that it was probably parcel of two tenements which appear to have been
conveyed by William de Ludegarsale to the abbot, &c. de Hydd juxta
Winton, in 1306, and which are described, in a former conveyance there
recited, to extend in length, " a communi fossato de Suthwerke versus
Orientem, usque Regiam viam de Suthwerke versus Occidentem." Re-
gistrumde Hyde, MS. Harl. 1761. fol. 1G6 173. If we should ever be
so happy as to recover the account-books of the Abbey of Hyde, we may
possibly learn what rent Harry Bailly paid for his inn, and many other
important particulars. Tyrwhitt.

1 Fallen. 2 Accommodated. 3 Every one of them. 4 Their.

5 Why Chaucer should have chosen to bring his knight from Alex-
andria and Lettowe rather than from Cresiy and Poitieri, is a problem
difficult to resolve, except by supposing that the slightest services
against infidels were in those days more honourable than the most
splendid victories over Christians. Tynahitt.



To riden out, he loved chevalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordes wcrre,
And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre, 1
As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.

At Alisandre he was whan it was wonne. 8
Ful often time he hadde the bord begonne 3
Aboven alle nations in Pruce.
In Lettowe hadde he reysed 4 and in Euce,
No cristen man so ofte of his degre.
In Gernade 1 " at the siege eke hadde he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmai-ie. 6
At Leyes" was he, and at Satalie 8 ,
Whan they were wonne ; and in the Grete see 9
At many a noble armee hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissene
In listes thries, and ay slain his fo.

This ilke worthy knight hadde ben also
Somtime with the lord of Palatie, 10
A gen another hethen in Turkic:
And evermore he hadde a sovereine prig.
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vilanie ne sayde
In alle his lif, unto no manere 11 wight.
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.

Farther. So derre for dearer, v. 1450.

1 J. e., in A.D. 13C5, by Pierre de Lusignan, King of Cyprus, who, how-
ever, immediately abandoned it.

3 /. e., fie had been placed at the head of the table; tbe usual compliment
to extraordinary merit. When our military men wanted employment,
it was usual for them to go and serve in Pruse, or Prussia, with the
knights of the Teutonic order, who were in a state of constant warfare
with their heathen neighbours in Lettow (Lithuania), nutr. (Russia), and
elsewhere. A pagan King of Lettow is mentioned by Walsingham, pp.
180,343. Tyrtckitt. 4 Journeyed.

5 The city of Algezir was taken from the Moorish King of Granada
in 1344. 6 Probably in Africa.

7 Layas, in Armenia. 8 Attalia.

9 Better, the " Grekish sea," '. e. t the part of the Mediterranean, from
Sicily to Cyprus. See Tynvhitfa notes.

lu 1'alatlua, in Anatolia. n Meaner, inferior.

73-102. THE PROLOGUE. 5

But for to tcllen you of his araie,
His hors was good, but he ne -was not gaie.
Of fustian he wered a gipou, 1
Alle besmotred 2 with his habergeon,
For he was late ycome fro his viage, 3
And wente for to don his pilgrimage.

With him ther was his sone a yonge squier,
A lover, and a lusty bacheler,
With lockes crull 4 as they were laide in presse.
Of twenty yere of age he was I gesse.
Of his stature he was of even lengthe,
And wondeiiy deliver, 5 and grete oi strengthe.
And he hadde be somtime in chevachie,
In Flaundres, in Artois, and in Picardie,
And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
In hope to stonden in his ladies grace.

Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
Alle ful of freshe floures, white and rede.
Singing he was, or lioyting alle the day,
He was as freshe, as is the moneth of May.
Short was his goune, with sieves long and wide.
Wel coude he sitte on hors, and fayre ride.
He coude songes make, and wel endite,
Juste and eke dance, and wel pourtraie and writa.
So hote he loved, that by nightertale 7
He slep no more than doth the nightingale.

Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable,
And cavf before his fader at the table. 8

A yeman 4 hadde he, and servantes no mo
At that time, for him luste to ride so ;

> A short cassock. z Smutted. 3 Journey. * Curled.

6 Agile, nimble. 6 Playing on the flute. ^ Night time.

s It was anciently the custom for squires, of the highest quality, to
carve at the sires' tables.

9 Yeman, or yeoman, is an abbreviation of yeongeman, as youthe is of
yeonglhe. Young men being most usually employed in service, servants
have, in many languages, been denominated from the single circum-
stance of age ; as puer, garyon, boy, groom. As a title of service or
office, yoman is used in the Stat. 37 E. III. c. 9 and 1 !, to denote a
servant of the next degree above a garson, or groom ; and at this day, in
several departments of the royal household, the attendants are distri-
buted into three classes of serjcants or squiers, yeomen, and gruouu.



And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene.
A shefe of peacock arwes 1 bright and keue
Under his belt he bare ful thriftily.
Wei coude he dresse his takel 2 yemanly:
His arwes drouped not with fetheres lowe.
And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.

A uot-hed 3 hadde he, with a broune visage.
Of wood-craft coude he wel alle the usage.
Upon his arme he bare a gaie bracer,
And by his side a swerd and a bokeler,
And on that other side a gaie daggere,
Earneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere:
A Cristofre 4 on his brest of silver shene.
An home he bare, the baudrik was of grene.
A forster was he sothely as I gesse.

There was also a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of hire smiling was ful simple and coy;
Hire gretest othe n'as but by Seint Eloyj
And she was cleped madame Eglentine.
Ful wel she sange the service devine,
Entuned in hire nose ful swetely ;
And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly, 5
After the scole of Stratford atte bowe,
For Frenche of Paris 6 was to hire unknowe.
At mete was she wel ytaughte withalle ;
She lette no morsel from hire lippes falle,
Ne wette hire fingres in hire sauce depe.
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe,
Thatte no drope ne fell upon hire brest.
In curtesie was sette ful moche hire lest. 7
Hire over lippe wiped she so clene,
That in hire cuppe was no ferthing sene
Of grese, whan she dronken hadde hire draught.
Ful semely after hire mete she raught.

1 Arrows with peacock feathers. 2 Arrow.

3 /. e. round, like a nut, probably from being cropped.

4 I do not see the meaning of this ornament. By the stat. 37 E. III.
yomen are forbidden to wear any ornaments of gold or silver. Tyrwhitt.

5 Neatly, cleverly.

6 It has been mentioned before, that Chancer thought bnt meanly of
the English-French spoken in his time. It was proper, however, that
the prioresse should speak some sort of French ; not only as a woman
of las! lion, a character which she is represented to affect, ver. 139, 110,
but as a religious person. Tyrwhitt. 1 Delight, pleasure.

137-168. THE PROLOGUE. 7

And sikerly she was of grete disport,
And fill plesant, and amiable of port,
And peined hire to contrefeten 1 chere
Of court, and ben estatelich of manere,
And to ben holden digne of reverence.

But for to speken of hire conscience,
She was so charitable and so pitous,
She wolde wepe if that she saw a mous
Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde.
Of smale houndes hadde she, that she fedde
With rosted flesh, and milk, and wastel brede.
But sore wept she if on of hem were dede,
Or if men smote it with a yerde 2 smert : 3
And all was conscience and tendre herte.

Ful semely hire wimple 4 ypinched was ;
Hire nose tretis ; s hire eyen grey as glas ;
Hire mouth ful smale, and therto soft and red;
But sikerly she hadde a fayre forehed.
It was almost a spanne brode I trowe ;
For hardily she was not undergrowe.

Full fetise 6 was hire cloke, as I was ware.
Of smale corall aboute hire arm she bare
A pair of bedes, gauded 7 all with grene ;
And theron heng a broche of gold ful shene,
On whiche was first ywriten a crouned A,
And after, Amor vincit omnia.

Another Nonne also with hire hadde she, 8
That was hire chapelleine, and Preestes thre.

A Monk ther was, a fayre 9 for the maistrie,
An out-rider, that loved venerie ; 10
A manly man, to ben an abbot able.
Ful many a deinte hors hadde he in stable:

She took great pains to assume. 2 A stick. 3 Hardly.

4 A covering for the neck. s Long and well proportioned.

6 Neat, tasteful. 7 Decked.

8 This and the following line have been condemned by Tyrwhitt as
spurious. See his Discourse, p. 78.

9 We should say, a fair one; but in Chaucer's time such tautology
was not, I suppose, elegant. So below, ver. 189 :

Therfore he was a prickasoure a right.

As to the phrase for the maittrie, I take it to be derived from the
French pour la maistrie, which I find, in an old book of Physick, applied
to such medicines as we usually call Sovereign, excellent above all others.
MS. Bod. 761. Secreta h.Samp de Cloioburnet, fol. 17 b. Ciroigne bone
pur la maittrie a briser et a meurer apostemes, &c. Tyrwhitt.
10 Hunting.


And whan he rode, men mighte his bridel here
Gingeling in a whistling wind as clere,
And eke as loude, as doth the chapell belle,
Ther as this lord was keper of the celle.

The reule of seint Maure and of seint Beneit^
Because that it was olde and somdele streit,
This ilke monk lette olde thinges pace,
And held after the newe world the trace.
He yave not of the text a pulled hen, 1
That saith, that hunters ben not holy men ;
Ne that a monk, whan he is rekkeles, 2
Is like to a fish that is waterles ;
This is to say, a monk out of his cloistre.
This ilke text held he not worth an oistre.
And I say his opinion was good.
What shulde he studie, and make himselven wood,
Upon a book in cloistre alway to pore,
Or swinken with his hondes, and laboure,
As Austin bit ? 3 how shal the world be served?
Let Austin have his swink 4 to him reserved.
Therfore he was a prickasoure 5 a right :
Greihoundes he hadde as swift as foul of flight:
Of pricking and of hunting for the hare
Was all his lust, for no cost wolde he spare.

' I.e., he cared not a straw. One MS. reads aputfrfhen.which seems
more intelligible, unless it refer to the supposition that a plucked lien
cannot lay eggs. Tiini-hitt,gl.

2 Eekkeles MS. C. reads Cloisterles; to which the only objection is,
that if it had been the true reading there would have been no occasion
to explain or paraphrase it in ver. 181. The text alluded to is attributed
by Gratian, Decret. P. ii. Cau. xvi. Q. I. c. viii. to a Pope Eugenius.
Sicut p:sris fine aqua caret vita, ita sine monasterio monachus. In P. P.,
according to MS. Cotton. Vesp. B. xvi. (for the passage is omitted in the
printed editions), a similar saying is quoted from Gregory.

Gregori the grete clerk garte write in bokes
The rcwle of alle religioun riytful and obedient
Riyt as fishes in a flod whan hem faileth water
Deien for drowthe whan thei clrie liggen
Riyt so religious roten and sterven
That out of covent or cloistre coveiten to dwelle.

As the known senses ofrekkelet, viz., careless, negligent, by no means
suit with this passage, I am inclined to susjiect that Chaucer possibly
wrote reghelles, i. e., without rule. Kegol, from Regula, was the Saxon
word for a rule, and particularly for a monastic rule. Tyrwhitt.

3 Biddeth. 4 Labour.

8 A hard rider, from prick, to spur on a horse.

103-230. TUB PROLOGUE. 9

I saw his sieves purfiled at the hond
With gris, 1 and that the finest of the lond.
And for to iasten his hood under his chirme,
He hadde of gold ywrought a curious pinne :
A love-knotte in the greter end ther was.
His hed was balled, and shone as any glas,
And eke his face, as it hadde ben anoint.
He was a lord ful fat and in good point.
His cyen stepe, 2 and rolling in his hed,
That stemed as a forneis of a led.
His botes souple, his hors in gret estatj
Now certainly he was a fayre prelat.
He was not pale as a forpined a gost.
A fat swan loved he best of any rost.
His palfrey was as broune as is a bery.

A Frere ther was, a wanton and a mery,
A Limitour, 4 a ful soleinpne man.
In all the ordres foure is non that can
So moche of daliance and fayro langago.
He hadde ymade ful many a mariago
Of yonge wimmen, at his owen cost.
Until his ordre he was a noble post.]
Ful wcl beloved, and familier was he
With fraukeleins 5 over all in his contree,
And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun:
For he had power of confession,
As saide himselfe, more than a curat^
For of his ordre he was licenciat.
Ful swetely herde he confession,
And plesant was his absolution.
He was an esy man to give penance,
Ther as he wiste to han a good pitanco :
For unto a poure ordre for to give
Is signe that a man is wel yshrive.
For if he gave, he dorste make avant,"
He wiste that a man was repentant.
For many a man so hard is of his herte,
He may not wepe although him sore smerte.

1 The habit of wearing fur trimmings was forbidden the monks by
Caviliuul Wolscy, in 1519.

2 Sunk deep in his head. 3 Wasted, tormented.
4 /. e., one licensed to beg within a certain district.

* Wealthy landholders ; country gentlemen of good estate. 6 Boast.


Therfore in stede of weping and praieres,
Men mote give silver to the poure freres.

His tippet was ay farsed 1 ful of knives,
And pinnes, for to given fayre wives.
And certainly he hadde a mery note.
Wei coude he singe and plaien on a rote. 9
Of yeddinges 3 he bare utterly the pris.
His nekke was white as the flour de lis.
Therto he strong was as a champioun,
And knew wel the tavernes in every toun,
And every hosteler and gay tapstere,
Better than a lazar or a beggere,
For unto swiche a worthy man as he
Accordeth nought, as by his faculte,
To haven with sike lazars acquaintance.
It is not honest, it may not avance,
As for to delen with no swiche pouraille, 4
But all with riche, and sellers of vitaille.

And over all, ther as profit shuld arise,
Curteis he was, and lowly of servise.
Ther n'as no man nowher so vertuous.
He was the beste begger in all his hous:
And gave a certaine ferme for the grant,
Non of his bretheren came in his haunt.
For though a widewe hadde but a shoo,
(So plesant was his In principiof
Yet wold he have a ferthing or he went.
His pourchas was wel better than his rent.
And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp,
In lovedayes, 6 ther coude he mochel help.
For ther was he nat like a cloisterere,
With thredbare cope, as is a poure scolere,
But he was like a maister or a pope.
Of double worsted was his semicope,
That round was as a belle out of the presse.
Somwhat he lisped for his wantounesse,
To make his English swete upon his tonge ;
And in his harping, whan that he hadde songe,

> Stuffed. 2 By rote, by heart. 3 A kind of song.

4 7. e., commonalty, poor people.

5 The beginning of the Latin text either of Genesis or of St. John's
Gospel. ,

6 Days appointed for the amicable settlement or arbitration of dif-

269-298. THE PROLOGUE. 11

His eyen twinkeled in his hed aright,
As don the sterres in a frosty night.
This worthy limitour was cleped Huberd.

A Marchant was ther with a forked herd,
In mottelee, 1 and highe on hors he sat,
And on his hed a Flaundrish bever hat.
His botes elapsed fayre and fetisly.
His resons spake he ful solempnely,
Souning 2 alway the encrese of his winning.
He wold the see were kept 3 for anything
Betwixen Middelburgh and Orewell. 4
Wei coud he in eschanges sheldes 5 selle.
This worthy man ful wel his wit besette ;
Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette,
So stedefastly diode he his governance,
With his bargeines, and with his chevisance.*
Forsothe he was a worthy man withalle,
But soth to sayn, I n'ot how men him calle.

A Clerk ther was of Oxenforde also,
That unto logike hadde long ygo.
As lene was his hors as is a rake,
And he was not right fat, I undertake ;
But loked holwe, and therto soberly.
Ful thredbare was his overest courtepy, 7
For he hadde geten him yet no benefice,
Ne was nought worldly to have an office.
For him was lever han s at his beedes hed
A twenty bokes, clothed in black or red,
Of Aristotle, and his philosophie,
Than robes riche, or fidel, or sautrie. 9

1 Mixed, various colours, motley. 2 Sounding.

3 Guarded. The old subsidy of tonnage and poundage was given to
the king pur la tauf garde et custodie del mer, 12 E. IV. C. 3. Tynchitt.
4 A seaport in Essex.

5 French crowns, so called from their having a shield stamped on one
side. c An arrangement for borrowing money.

7 A sort of short upper cloak. 8 /. e., he had rather, lie preferred.

9 Psaltery. It may be observed, that although organ-builders have
introduced reed stops, purporting to represent the sacbut, clarion,
psaltery, shalm, and other instruments mentioned in Scripture, we are
totally ignorant what they were. The psaltery was probably a stringed
instrument, and perhaps the same aa the "rote" spoken of elsewhere.


But all be that he was a philosophre,

Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre,

But all that he might of his frendes hente, 1

On bokes and on lerning he it spente,

And besily gan for the soules praie

Oi hem, that yave him wherwith to scolaie.'

Oi studie toke he moste cure and hede.

Not a word spake he more than was nede ;

And that was said in forme and reverence,

And short and quike, and ful of high sentence.

Souning in moral vertue was his speche,

And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.

A sergeant of the lawe ware and wise,
That often hadde yben at the paruis,
Ther was also, ful riche of excellence.
Discrete he was, and of gret reverence :
He semed swiche, 3 his wordes were so wise.

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