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Wel coude he fortunen' the ascendent2
Of his images for his patient.
He knew the cause of every maladie, Were it of cold, or hote, or moist, or drie, And wher engendred, and of what humour, He was a veray prafite practisour.
The cause yknowe, and of his harm the rote",
Anon he gave to the sikè man his bote".
Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries
To send him draggès, and his lettuaries,
For eche of hem made other for to winne;
Hir friendship na's not newè to beginne.
Wel knew he the old Esculapius,
And Dioscorides, and eke Rufùs ;
Old Hippocras, Hali, and Gallien,
Serapion, Rasis, and Avicen ;
Averrois, Damascene, and Constantin ;
Bernard, and Gatisden, and Gilbertin.
Of his diete mesúrable was he,
For it was of no superfluitee,
But of gret nourishing, and digestible.
His studie was but little on the Bible.
In sanguine and in persef he clad was alle
Lined with taffata, and with sendalles.
And yet he was but esy of dispenceh :
He kepte that he wan' in the pestilence.
For golde in phisike is a cordial;
Therfore he loved gold in special.
A good Wif was ther of besidè Bathe,
But she was som del defe, and that was scathe).
Of cloth making she haddè swiche an haunt,
She passed hem of Ipres, and of Gaunt.
In all the parish wif ne was ther non,
That to the offring before hire shulde gon,
And if ther did, certain so wroth was she,
That she was out of allè charitee.
Hire coverchiefs weren ful fine of ground;
I dorstè swere, they weyedenk a pound;
That on the Sonday were upon hire hede.
Hire hosen weren of fine scarlet rede,
Ful streite yteyed', and shoon ful moist and newe.
Bold was hire face, and fayre and rede of hew.
She was a worthy woman all hire live,
Housbondes at the chirche dore had she had five,
Withouten other compagnie in youthe.
But therof nedeth not to speke as nouthem.
And thries hadde she ben at Jerusaleme,
She hadde passed many a strangè streme.
At Rome she hadde ben, and at Boloine,
In Galice at Seint James, and at Coloine.
She coude moche of wandering by the way.
Gat-tothed was she, sothly for to say.
Upon an ambler esily she sat,
Ywimpled wel, and on hire hede an hat,
As brode as is a bokeler, or a targe.
A fote-mantel about hire hippès large,
And on hire fete a pair of sporres sharpe.
In felawship wel coude she laughe and carpe
Of remedies of love she knew parchance,
For of that arte she coude the olde dance.
A good man there was of religioun,
That was a pourè Persone of a toun:
But riche he was of holy thought and werk.
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That Cristès gospel trewely woldè preche.
His parishens devoutly wolde he teche.
Benigne he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversite ful patient :
And swiche he was ypreved' often sithes*.
Ful loth were him to cursen for his tithes,
But rather wolde he yeven' out of doute,
Unto his pourè parishens aboute,
Of his offring, and eke of his substance.
He coude in litel thing have suffisance.
Wide was his parish, and houses fer asonder,
But he ne left nought for no rain ne thonder,
In sikenesse and in mischief to visite
The ferrest in his parish, moche and lite,"
Upon his fete, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensample to his shepe he yafˇ.
That first he wrought and afterward he taught.
Out of the gospel he the wordès caught,
And this figure he added yet thereto,
That if golde rustè, what shuld iren do?
For if a preest be foule, on whom we trust,
No wonder is a lewèd man to rust:
And shame it is, if that a preest take kepe,
To see a shitten shepherd, and clene shepe:
Wel ought a preest ensample for to yeve,
By his clenenessè, how his shepe shuld live.
He sette not his benefice to hire,
And lette his shepe accombred in the mire,
And ran unto London, unto Seint Poules,
To seeken him a chanterie for soules,
Or with a brotherhede to be withold:
But dwelt at home, and keptè wel his fold,
So that the wolf ne made it not miscarie.
He was a shepherd, and no mercenarie.
And though he holy were, and vertuous,
He was to sinful men not dispitous,
Ne of his spechè dangerous ne digne,
But in his teching discrete and benigne.
To drawen folk to heven, with fairènesse,
By good ensample, was his besinesse :
But it were any persone obstinat,
What so he were of highe, or low estat,
Him wolde he snibben sharply for the nonès.
A better preest I trowe that nowher* non is
He waited after no pompe ne reverence,
Ne maked him no spiced conscience,
But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught, but first he folwed it himselve.
With him ther was a Plowman, was his brother.
That hadde ylaid of dong2 ful many a fother".
P Talk. 9 Parson. r Proved. s Times. t Give.
The nearest and most distant of his parishioners.
▾ Gave. w Snub, reprove.
* No where.
y Nice, in an affected sense.
A trewè swinker, and a good was he,
Living in pees, and parfite charitee.
God loved he bestè with alle his herte
At alle timès, were it gain as smerte,
And than his neighèbour right as himselve.
He wolde thresh, and therto dike, and delve,
For Cristès sake, for every pourè wight,
Withouten hire, if it lay in his might.
His tithes paied he ful fayre and wel
Bothe of his propre swinke, and his catel.
In a tabard he rode upon a mere.
There was also a reve, and a millere,
A sompnour, and a pardonere also,
A manciples, and myself, ther ne'ere no mo.
The Miller was a stout carl for the nones,
Ful bigge he was of braun, and eke of bones;
That proved wel, for over all ther he came,
At wrastling he wold bere away the rams.
He was short shuldered brode, a thikke gnarre,
Ther n'as no dore, that he n'olde heve of barre,
Or breke it at a renning) with his hede.
His berd as any sowe or fox was rede,
And therto brode, as though it were a spade.
Upon the cop right of his nose he hade
A wert, and theron stode a tufte of heres,
Rede as the bristles of a sowès eres.
His nose-thirlèsk blacke were and wide.
A swerd and bokeler bare he by his side.
His mouth as widè was as a forneis.
He was a jangler', and a goliardeism,
And that was most of sinne, and harlotries.
Wel coude he stelen corne, and tollen thries.
And yet he had a thomb" of gold pardeo,
A white cote and a blew hode wered he.
A baggépipe wel coude he blowe and soune,
And therwithall he brought us out of toune.
A gentil Mancipler was ther of a temple,
Of which achatours mighten take ensemple
For to ben wise in bying of vitaille.
For whether that he paide, or toke by taille,
Algate he waited so in his achate',
That he was ay before in good estate.
Now is not that of God a ful fayre grace,
That swiche a lewed mannès wit shal pace
The wisdom of an hepe of lered men?
Of maisters had he mo than thriès ten,
That were of lawe expert and curious :
Of which ther was a dosein in that hous,
Worthy to ben stewardes of rent and lond
Of any lord that is in Englelond,
To makn him live by his propre good,
In honour detteless, but if he were wood,
Or live as scarsly, as him list desire;
And able for to helpen all a shire
In any cas that mighte fallen or happe :
And yet this manciple sette hir aller cappet.
The Revè was a slendre colerike man,
His berd was shave as neighe as ever he can.
His here was by his erès round yshorne.
His top was docked like a preest beforne.
Ful longè were his leggès, and ful lene,
Ylike a staff, ther was no calf ysene.
Wel coude he kepe a garner and a binne:
Ther was non auditour coude on him winne.
Wel wiste he by the drought, and by the rain,
The yelding" of his seed, and of his grain.
His lordès shepe, his nete', and his deirie,
His swine, his hors, his store, and his pultrie,
Were holly in his reves governing,
And by his covenant yave he rekening,
Sin that his lord was twenty yere of age;
Ther coude no man bring him in arerage.
Ther n'as baillif, ne herde, ne other hine,
That he ne knew his sleight and his covine:
They were adradde of him, as of the deth.
His wonning was ful fayre upon an heth,
With grene trees yshadewed was his place.
He coude better than his lord pourchace.
Ful ryche he was ystored privily.
His lord wel coude he plesen subtilly,
To yeve and lene him of his owen good,
And have a thank, and yet a cote and hood.
In youthe he lerned hadde a good mistere.
He was a wel good wright, a carpentere.
This reve sat upon a right good stot",
That was all pomelee grey, and highte Scot.
A long surcote of perse upon he hade,
And by his side he bare a rusty blade.
Of Norfolk was this reve, of which I tell,
Beside a toun, men clepen Baldeswell.
Tucked he was, as is a frere, aboute,
And ever he rode the hindrest of the route.
A Sompnour was ther with us in that place, That had a fire-red cherubinnes face, For sauseflemes he was, with eyen narwed. As hote he was, and likerous as a sparwe, With scalled browes blake, and pilled berd : Of his visage children were sore aferd. Ther n'as quicksilver, litarge, ne brimston, Boras, ceruse, ne oile of tartre non, Ne oinément that wolde clense or bite, That him might helpen of his whelkese white, Ne of the knobbes sitting on his chekes. Wel loved he garlike, onions, and lekes. And for to drinke strong win as rede as blood. Than wolde he speke, and crie as he were wood.
And whan that he wel dronken had the win,
Than wold he speken no word but Latin.
A fewè termès coude he, two or three,
That he had lerned out of som decree ;
No wonder is, he herd it all the day.
And eke ye knowen wel, how that a jay
Can clepen watte, as wel as can the pope.
But who so wolde in other thing him grope,
Than hadde he spent all his philosophie,
Ay, Questio quid juris, wolde he crie.
He was a gentil harlot and a kind;
A better felaw shulde a man not find.
He wolde suffre for a quart of wine,
A good felàw to have his concubine
A twelve month, and excuse him at the full.
Ful prively a finch eke coude he pull.
And if he found owhere a good felàwe,
He wolde techen him to have non awe
In swiche a cas of the archedekenes curse;
But if a mannès soule were in his purse;
For in his purse he shulde ypunished be.
Purse is the archedekens helle, said he.
But wel I wote, he lied right in dede :
Of cursing ought eche gilty man him drede.
For curse wol sle right as assoiling saveth,
And also ware him of a significavit.
In danger hadde he at his owen gise
The yonge girles of the diocise,
And knew hir conseil, and was of hir redes.
A gerlond hadde he sette upon his hede,
As gret as it were for an alestake":
A bokeler hadde he made him of a cake.
With him ther rode a gentil Pardonerei
Of Rouncevall, his frend and his compere,
f The name harlot was anciently given to men as well as women, and without any bad signification. [When the word harlot,' says Gifford, became (like knave) a term of reproach, it was appropriated solely to males: in Jonson's days it was applied indiscriminately to both sexes; though without any determinate import; and it was not till long afterwards that it was restricted to females, and to the sense which it now bears. To derive harlot from Arlotte, the mistress of the Duke of Normandy, is ridiculous.' (BEN JONSON, vol. iii. p. 312.) The word harlott,' Jonson told Drummond, was taken from Arlotte, who was the mother of William the Conqueror; a Rogue from the Latine, Erro, by putting a G to it.' (ARCH. SCOT. vol. iv. p. 100.) This supposition of Jonson's has been discovered since Gifford wrote.]
That streit was comen from the court of Rome.
Ful loude he sang, Come hither, love, to me.
This sompnour bare to him a stiff burdounk,
Was never trompe of half so gret a soun.
This pardoner had here as yelwel as wax,
But smoth it heng, as doth a strike of flax :
By unces heng his lokkes that he hadde,
And therwith he his shulders overspradde.
Ful thinne it lay, by culpons" on and on,
But hode, for jolite, ne wered he non,
For it was trussed up in his wallet.
Him thought he rode al of the newè get,
Dishevele, sauf his cappe, he rode all bare.
Swiche glaring eyen hadde he, as an hare.
A vernicle hadde he sewed upon his cappe.
His wallet lay beforne him in his lappe,
Bret-ful of pardon come from Rome al hote.
A vois he hadde, as smale as hath a gote.
No berd hadde he, ne never non shulde have,
As smothe it was as it were newe shave;
I trowe he were a gelding or a mare.
But of his craft, fro Berwike unto Ware,
Ne was ther swiche an other pardonere.
For in his malep he hadde a pilwebere,
Which, as he saide, was Our Ladies veil :
He saide, he hadde a gobbet of the seyl
Thatte seint Peter had, whan that he went
Upon the see, till Jesu Crist him hent'.
He had a crois of laton" ful of stones,
And in a glas he hadde pigges bones.
But with these relikes, whanne that he fond
A poure persone dwelling up on lond,
Upon a day he gat him more moneie
Than that the persone gat in monethes tweie.
And thus with fained flattering and japes",
He made the persone, and the peple, his apes".
But trewely to tellen atte last,
He was in chirche a noble ecclesiast.
Wel coude he rede a lesson or a storie,
But alderbest he sang an offertorie" :
For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe,
He muste preche, and wel afile' his tonge,
To winne silver, as he right wel coude :
Therefore he sang the merrier and loude.
LITTLE is known of Gower's personal history. "The proud tradition in the Marquis of Stafford's family," says Mr. Todd, "has been, and still is, that he was of Stitenham; and who would not consider the dignity of his genealogy augmented, by enrolling among its worthies the moral Gower?"
His effigies in the church of St. Mary Overies is often inaccurately described as having a garland of ivy and roses on the head. It is, in fact, a chaplet of roses, such as, Thynne says, was anciently worn by knights; a circumstance which is favourable to the suspicion, that has been suggested, of his having been of the rank of knighthood. If Thynne's assertion, respecting the time of the lawyers first entering the Temple, be correct, it will be difficult to reconcile it with the tradition of Gower's having been a student there in his youth.
By Chaucer's manner of addressing Gower, the latter appears to have been the elder. He was attached to Thomas of Woodstock, as Chaucer was to John of Gaunt. The two poets appear to have been at one time cordial friends, but ultimately to have quarrelled. Gower tells us himself that he was blind in his old age.
From his will it appears that he was living in 1408. His bequests to several churches and hospitals, and his legacy to his wife of 1007., of all his valuable goods, and of the rents arising from his manors of Southwell in the county of Nottingham, and of Multon in the county of Suffolk, undeniably prove that he was rich.
One of his three great works, the Speculum Meditantis, a poem in French, is erroneously described by Mr. Godwin and others as treating of conjugal fidelity. In an account of its contents in a MS. in Trinity College, Cambridge, we are told that its principal subject is the repentance of a sinner. The Vox Clamantis, in Latin, relates to the insurrection of the commons, in the reign of Richard II. The. Confessio Amantis, in English, is a dialogue between a lover and his confessor, who is a priest of Venus, and who explains, by apposite stories, and philosophical illustrations all the evil affections of the heart which impede, or counteract the progress and success of the tender passion.
His writings exhibit all the crude erudition and science of his age; a knowledge sufficient to have been the fuel of genius, if Gower had possessed its fire.
THE TALE OF THE COFFERS OR CASKETS, &c.,
IN THE FIFTH BOOK OF THE "CONFESSIO AMANTIS."
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, 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 mulls
With stones meynd he fild also:
Thus be they full bothè two.
So that erlichei 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 fettej
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.
There shall no man his hap despise :
I wot well ye have longe served,
And god wot what ye have deserved;
But if it is along on me
Of that ye unavanced be,
Or elles if it belong on yow,
The sothè shall be proved now:
To stoppè 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 he 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 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",
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 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 P,
Ben all avised for to chese.
Tho toke this knyght a yerd' on honde,
And goth there as the cofres stonde,
And with assent of everychone*
He leith his yerde upon one,
And seith the king how thilke same
They chese in reguerdon" by name,
And preith him that they might it have.
The king, which wolde his honor save,
Whan he had heard the common vois,
Hath granted hem her owne chois,
And toke hem therupon the keie ;
But for he woldè it were seie
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 see
That ther is no defalte in me;
Forthy my self I wol acquite,
And bereth he your ownè wite
Of that fortune hath you refused.
Thus was this wise king excused:
And they lefte off her evil speche,
And mercy of her king beseche.
OF THE GRATIFICATION WHICH THE LOVER'S PASSION RECEIVES FROM THE SENSE OF HEARING.
RIGHT as mine eye with his loke Is to myn herte a lusty cooke
Of loves foodè delicate;
Right so myn eare in his estate,
Wher as myn èyè may nought serve,
Can wel myn hertès thonk deserve;
And feden him, fro day to day,
With such deynties as he may.
For thus it is that, over all
Wher as I come in speciall,
I may heare of my lady price:
I heare one say that she is wise;
Another saith that she is good;
And, some men sain, of worthy blood
That she is come; and is also
So fair that no wher is none so:
And some men praise hir goodly chere.
Thus every thing that I may heare,
Which souneth to my lady goode,
Is to myn care a lusty foode.
And eke myn eare hath, over this,
A deyntie feste whan so is
That I may heare hirselvè speke;
For than anon my fast I breke
On suchè wordes as she saith,
That ful of trouth and ful of faith
They ben, and of so good disport,
That to myn earè great comfort
They don, as they that ben delices
For all the meates, and all the spices,
That any Lombard couthè make,
Ne be so lusty for to take,