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Than may men wel by this ordre discerne,
That thilke moevere stabul is and eterne.
Wel may men knowe, but it be a fool,
That every partye dyryveth from his hool.
For nature hath nat take his bygynnyng
Of no partye ne cantel of a thing,
But of a thing that parfyt is and stable,
Descendyng so, til it be corumpable.
And therfore of his wyse purveaunce
He hath so wel biset his ordenaunce,
That spices' of thinges and progressiouns
Schullen endure by successiouns,
And nat eterne be withoute lye:
This maistow understand and se at ye.2

3

'Lo the ook, that hath so long norisschyng
Fro tyme that it gynneth first to spring,
And hath so long a lyf, as we may see,
Yet atte laste wasted is the tree.

'Considereth eek, how that the harde stoon
Under oure foot, on which we trede and goon,
Yit wasteth it, as it lith by the weye.
The brode ryver som tymne wexeth dreye.
The grete townes see we wane and wende.
Then may I see that al thing hath an ende.
‘Of man and womman se we wel also,
That wendeth in oon of this termes two,
That is to seyn, in youthe or elles in age,
He moot ben deed, the kyng as schal a page;
Sum in his bed, som in the deepe see,

Som in the large feeld, as men may se.
Ther helpeth naught, al goth thilke weye.
Thanne may I see wel that al thing schal deye.

1 Species.

2 See at eye, by experience.

3 This passage is taken from the Theseida. It is in what Chaucer calls high style,' and is in accordance with the medieval taste for apologues, ridiculed by Shakespeare in Falstaff's personation of Henry IV. For though the camomille, the more it is trodden on, the more it groweth, &c.'-Henry IV., Part I., Act ii.

I. CHAUCER.

13

What maketh this but Jubiter the kyng?
The which is prynce and cause of alle thing,
Convertyng al unto his propre wille,
From which he is dereyned, soth to telle.
And here agayn no creature on lyve
Of no degré avayleth for to stryve.

'Than is it wisdom, as thenketh me, To maken vertu of necessité,

And take it wel, that we may nat eschewe,
And namely that that to us alle is dewe.
And who so gruccheth aught, he doth folye,
And rebel is to him that al may gye.
And certeynly a man hath most honour
To deyen in his excellence and flour,
Whan he is siker of his goode name.

Than hath he doon his freend, ne him, no schame.
And glader ought his freend ben of his deth,
Whan with honour is yolden up the breth,
Thanne whan his name appelled is for age;
For al forgeten is his vasselage.

Thanne is it best, as for a worthi fame,
To dye whan a man is best of name.
The contrary of al this is wilfulnesse.
Why grucchen we? why have we hevynesse,
That good Arcyte, of chyvalry the flour,
Departed is, with worschip and honour
Out of this foule prisoun of this lyf?
Why gruccheth heer his cosyn and his wyf
Of his welfare, that loven him so wel?
Can he hem thank? nay, God woot, never a del,
That bothe his soule and eek hemself offende,
And yet they may here lustes nat amende.
'What may I conclude of this longe serye,

But aftir wo I rede us to be merye,
And thanke Jubiter of al his grace?
And or that we departe fro this place,
I rede that we make, of sorwes two,
O parfyt joye lastyng ever mo:

And loketh now wher most sorwe is her-inne,
Ther wol we first amenden and bygynne.

'Sustyr,' quod he, 'this is my ful assent, With all thavys heer of my parlement, That gentil Palamon, your owne knight, That serveth yow with herte, will, and might, And ever hath doon, syn fyrst tyme ye him knewe, That ye schul of your grace upon him rewe, And take him for your housbond and for lord: Lene me youre hand, for this is oure acord. Let see now of your wommanly pité. He is a kynges brothir sone, pardee; And though he were a pore bachiller,1 Syn he hath served you so many a yeer, And had for you so gret adversité, It moste be considered, trusteth me. For gentil mercy aughte passe right.' Than seyde he thus to Palamon ful right; 'I trowe ther needeth litel sermonyng To make you assente to this thing. Com neer, and tak your lady by the hond.' Bitwix hem was i-maad anon the bond, That highte matrimoyn or mariage, By alle the counseil of the baronage. And thus with blys and eek with melodye Hath Palamon i-wedded Emelye.

And God, that al this wyde world hath wrought,
Send him his love, that hath it deere i-bought.

For now is Palamon in al his wele,
Lyvynge in blisse, richesse, and in hele,

And Emelye him loveth so tendirly,
And he hir serveth al so gentilly,

That never was ther wordes hem bitweene
Of jelousy, ne of non othir tene.
Thus endeth Palamon and Emelye;
And God save al this fayre companye!

1 Bachelor, the lowest rank of knighthood.

THE PROLOGE OF THE MYLLER.

WH

HAN that the Knight had thus his tale i-told,
In al the route nas ther yong ne old,

That he ne seyde it was a noble story,
And worthi to be drawen to memory;
And namely the gentils everichoon.

ye

Our Host tho lowh and swoor, 'So moot I goon,
This goth right wel; unbokeled is the male;"
Let se now who schal telle another tale;
For trewely this game is wel bygonne.
Now telleth ye, sir Monk, if that konne
Somwhat, to quyte with the knightes tale.'
The Myller that for drunken was al pale,2
So that unnethe upon his hors he sat,
He wold avale nowther hood ne hat,
Ne abyde no man for his curtesye,

But in Pilates

3

he

to
voys gan crye,

1 Apparently a proverbial expression derived from the market, and meaning, literally, that the male, or bale of goods, is opened and the ware exposed for the customers' inspection; metaphorically, that the business is well begun.

It does not seem here the German 2 All pale for drunkenness. particle vertrunken, but a preposition meaning à force de, for very drunkenness. There are several examples: see two, 'for old' and for blak,' ante, p. 158. Others occur elsewhere.

The

3 In the gruff, hoarse voice assumed by the actors who played the character of Pilate in the popular mysteries of the Passion. 'mysteries' or 'miracles,' founded on Scripture, or the Lives of the Christian Martyrs, were often performed by ecclesiastics in churches, for the purpose of instructing the unlearned people in the substance of Scripture history, or exciting them to zeal by the force of example. So early as the time of William I., Matt. Paris relates that Geoffrey, a learned Norman, composed a play on the martyrdom of St. Catherine. Mr. Price, the learned editor of Warton, says, that the earliest miracle play extant in English is Our Saviour's Descent into Hell, in MS. of the time of Edward II. There is this curious passage in Lambarde's Topographical Dictionary, written about the year 1570. 'In the dayes of ceremonial religion, they used at Wytney (in Oxfordshire) to set fourthe yearly, in manner of a shew or interlude, the ResurThe like to which I myselfe, being rection of our Lord, &c. then a childe, once sawe in Poule's Churche in London, at a feast of Whitsuntide; wheare the comynge down of the Holy Gost was set forthe by a white pigeon, that was let to fly out of a hole that yet is to be sene in the mydst of the roofe of the greate ile,' &c. See also the series

.

And swor by armes and by blood and bones,
'I can a noble tale for the noones,

With which I wol now quyte the knightes tale.'
Oure Hoost saw wel how dronke he was of ale,
And seyde, Robyn, abyde, my leve brother,
Som bettre man schal telle first another;
Abyd, and let us worken thriftyly.'

By Goddes soule!' quod he, 'that wol nat I,
For I wol speke, or elles go my way.'
Oure Host answerd, 'Tel on, a devel way!
Thou art a fool; thy witt is overcome.'

'Now herkneth,' quod this Myller, 'al and some; But first I make a protestacioun,

That I am dronke, I knowe wel by my soun;
And therfore if that I mys-speke or seye,
Wyte it the ale of Southwerk, I you preye;
For I wol telle a legende and a lyf

Bothe of a carpenter and of his wyf,

How that the clerk hath set the wrightes cappe.'
The Reve answered and seyde, 'Stynt thi clappe.
Let be thy lewed drunken harlottrye.

It is a synne, and eek a greet folye
To apeyren eny man, or him defame,
And eek to brynge wyves in ylle name.
Thou mayst ynowgh of other thinges seyn.'
This dronken Miller spak ful sone ageyn,
And seyde,Leeve brother Osewold,
Who hath no wyf, he is no cokewold.

It

of plays exhibited at Chester, in 1327, at the expense of the different trading companies, of which an edition was edited by Mr. Wright for the Shakspeare Society; also The Towneley and Coventry Mysteries. appears from Strype's Grindal, p. 82, that this practice of acting plays in churches lingered even after the Reformation, except that profane stories had taken the place of religious. The celebrated ceremonies of the Holy Week in the Sistine Chapel, to which the English abroad always flock in such numbers, are something of the same character. The events of the Passion are read from one of the Evangelists in a simple but very touching chaunt, by different divisions of the choir, one division taking the words of our Lord, another of the Scribes and Pharisees, another of the people, and a fourth reading the narrative.

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