« PreviousContinue »
Ac lowe me holdeth to Englyss | But low men nold to English, and and to he kunde speche yute. to their natural speech yet. ich wene ther ne be man in world I wen there not be man in world contreyes none
That ne holdeth to her kunde
speche, bot Engelond one.
Ac wel me wot vor to conne both
wel yt ys;
Vor the more that a man con, the For the more that a man knows,
more worth he ys.
the more worth he is.
10. ROBERT MANNYNG OR ROBERT OF BRUNNE.
(Manual, p. 33.)
That not holdeth to their natural speech but England (al-) one. But well I wot for to know both well it is:
Lordynges, that be now here,
If ye wille listene & lere
All the story of Inglande,
Lords, that be now here,
If ye will listen and learn
All the story of England,
Als Robert Mannyng wryten it As Robert Mannyng found it writ fand,
And in English has shewed it,
Not for the learned but for the un-
& on Inglysch has it schewed,
Not for the lerid bot for the lewed,
For tho that in this land wonn,
That the Latyn no Frankys conn,
For to haf solace & gamen
In felawschip when thai sitt samen.
For those that in this land dwell,
That know not Latin nor French,
In order to have solace and enjoy-
In fellowship when they sit to gether.
11. The Vision of Piers Ploughman, 1350. (Manual, p. 54.)
12. JOHN GOWER, d. 1408. Confessio Amantis. (Mar al,
p. 56, seq.)
TALE OF THE COFFERS OR CASKETS.
From the Fifth Book.
In a Cronique thus I rede:
Aboute a king, as must nede,
Ther was of knyghtès and squiers
Gret route, and eke of officers:
Some of long time him hadden served,
And thoughten that they haue deserved
Avancèment, and gon withoute⚫
And some also ben of the route,
That comen but a while agon,
And they avanced were anon.
These olde men upon this thing,
So as they durst, ageyne the king
Among hemself1 compleignen ofte
But there is nothing said so softe,
That it ne comith out at laste:
The king it wiste, and als so faste,
As he which was of high prudènce:
He shope therfore an evidence
Of hem 2 that pleignen in the cas,
To knowe in whose defalte it was;
And all within his owne entent,
That non ma wistè what it ment.
Anon he let two cofres make
Of one semblance, and of one make,
So lich,3 that no lif thilke throwe,
That one may fro that other knowe:
They were into his chamber brought,
But no man wot why they be wrought,
And natheles the king hath bede
That they be set in privy stede,
As he that was of wisdom slih;
Whan he therto his time sih,*
All privěly, that none it wiste
His ownè hondes that one chiste
of fin gold, and of fin perie,"
The which out of his tresorie
Was take, anon he fild full;
That other cofre of straw and mull
With stones meynd' he fild also:
Thus be they full bothè two.
So that erliche3 upon a day
He had within, where he lay,
Ther should be tofore his bed
A bord up set and fairè spred :
And than he let the cofres fette
Upon the bord, and did hem sette.
He knewe the names well of tho,10
The whiche agein him grutched so,
Both of his chambre and of his halle,
Anon and sent for hem alle;
And seide to hem in this wise.
What good they have as they suppose,
He bad anon the cofre unclose,
Which was fulfild with straw and stones:
Thus be they served all at ones.
This king than, in the same stede,
Anon that other cofre undede,
Where as they sihen gret richesse,
Wel more than they couthen gesse.
Lo! seith the king, now may ye se
'That ther is no defalte in me;
Forthy 22 my self I wol aquite,
And bereth ye your ownè wite 23
Of that 24 fortune hath you refused.
Thus was this wise king excused:
And they lefte off her evil speche,
And mercy of her king beseche.
13. CHAUCER, 1328-1400. (Manual, p. 35, seq)
FROM THE PROLOGUE TO THE CANTERBURY TALES.
Whannè that April with his shourès sote1
The droughte of March hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every veine in swiche3 licour,
Of whiche vertùe engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eke with his sotè brethe
Enspired hath in every holt and hethe
The tendre croppès, and the yongè sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfè cours yronne,
And smalè foulès maken melodie,
That slepen allè night with open eye,
So priketh hem" nature in hir" corages;"
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken strangè strondes,
To serve halweys couthe 10 in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shirès ende
Of Englelond, to Canterbury they wende,11
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 as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with devoute coràge,