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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;
That not holdeth to their natural speech but England (al-) one. But well I wot for to know both well it is:
Vor the more that a man con, the For the more that a man knows, more worth he ys.
11. The Vision of Piers Ploughman, 1350. (Manual, p. 54.1
12. JOHN GOWER, d. 1408. Confessio Amantis. (Marai, p. 56, seq.)
TALE OF THE COFFERS OR CASKETS.
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 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 erliche 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,"
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.
The sothe shall be proved now:
To stoppe with your evil word,
Lo! here two cofres on the bord;
Chese which you list of bothè two;
And witeth well that one of tho
Is with tresor so full begon,
That if ye happè therupon
Ye shall be richè men for ever:
Now chese," and take which you is lever,
But be well ware ere that ye take,
For of that one I undertake
Ther is no maner good therein,
Wherof ye mighten profit winne.
Now goth 12 together of one assent,
And taketh your avisement;
For, but I you this day avance,
It stant upon your ownè chance,
Al only in defalte of grace;
So shall be shewed in this place
Upon you all well afyn,13
That no defaltè shal be myn.
They knelen all, and with one vois
The king they thonken of this chois :
And after that they up arise,
And gon aside, and hem avise,
And at lastè they accorde
(Wherof her 4 talè to recorde
To what issue they be falle)
A knyght shall spekè for hem alle :
He kneleth doun unto the king,
And seith that they upon this thing,
Or for to winne, or for to lese,"
Ben all avised for to chese.
Tho 16 toke this knyght a yerd 17
And goth there as the cofres stonde,
And with assent of everychone 18
He leith his yerde upon one,
And seith 19 the king how thilke same
They chese in reguerdon 20 by name,
And preith him that they might it have.
The king, which wolde his honor save,
Whan he had heard the common vis,
Hath granted hem her owne chois,
And toke hem therupon the keie;
But for he woldè it were seie 2
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 samè 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 sote
The droughte of March hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every veine in swiche 3 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 hirR 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.1
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,