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She is honoured over al wher she goth,
“And if I have a gossib, or a frend, (Withouten gilt) thou chidest as a fend, If that I walke or play unto his hous.
"Thou comest home as dronken as a mous, And prechest on thy benche, with evil prefe: Thou sayst to me, it is a gret meschiefe To wed a poure woman, for costage: And if that she be riche of high parage, Than sayst thou, that it is a tourmentrie To soffre hire pride and hire melancolie. And if that she be faire, thou veray knave, Thou sayst that every holour wol hire have. She may no while in chastitee abide, That is assailled upon every side.
Thou sayst som folk desire us for richesse,
And if that she be foul, thou sayst, that she
“Thus sayst thou, lorel, whan thou gost to bed
"Thou sayst, that oxen, asses, hors, and houndes, They ben assaied at diverse stoundes, Basins, lavoures, or that men hem bie, Spones, stooles, and all swiche husbondrie, And so ben pottes, clothes, and aray, But folk of wives maken non assay,
Til they ben wedded, olde dotard shrewe!
And but thou do to my norice honour, And to my chamberere within my bour, And to my faders folk, and myn allies; Thus sayst thou, olde barel ful of lies.
"And yet also of our prentis Jankin, For his crispe here, shining as gold so fin, And for he squiereth me both up and doun, Yet hast thou caught a false suspection:
I wol him nat, though thou were ded to-morwe. "But tell me this, why hidest thou with sorwe The keies of thy chest away fro me?
It is my good as wel as thin parde,
What, wenest thou make an idiot of our dame?
"We love no man, that taketh kepe or charge Wher that we gon, we wol be at our large. Of alle men yblessed mote he be The wise astrologien dan Ptholomee, That sayth this proverbe in his Almageste: 'Of alle men his wisdom is higheste, That rekketh not who hath the world in hond.' "By this proverbe thou shalt wel understond, Have thou ynough, what thar thee rekke or care How merily that other folkes fare?
For certes, olde dotard, by your leve,
“Thou sayst also, I walke out like a cat ;
Yet coude I make his berd, ko mote I the.
“ . Thou sayest eke, that ther ben thinges three, Which thinges gretly troublen all this erthe, And that no wight ne may endure the ferthe: O lefe sire shrewe, Jesu short thy lif.
« «Yet prechest thou, and sayst, an hateful wif Yrekened is for on of thise meschances. Be ther non other maner resemblances That ye may liken your parables to, But if a sely wif be on of tho?
6 • Thou likenest eke womans love to Helle, To barrein lond, ther water may not dwelle.
6 • Thou likenest it also to wilde fire; The more it brenneth, the more it hath desire To consume every thing, that brent wol be.
" • Thou sayest right as wormes shende a tre,
“ Lordings, right thus, as ye han understond,
As helpe mo veray God omnipotent,
" Than wold I say, · Now, goode lefe, take kepe,
“ Swiche maner wordes hadden we on hond. Now wol I speken of iny fourthe husbond.
“My fourthe husbonde was a revellour,
“ But, Lord Crist, whan that it remembreth me
“ I say, I had in herte gret despit,
Not of my body in no foule manere,
From hous to hous, to heren sondry tales) But certainly I made folk swiche chere,
That Jankin clerk, and my gossib dame Ales, That in his owen grese I made him frie
And I myself, into the feldes went. For anger and for veray jalousie.
Myn husbond was at London all that Lent; By God, in earth I was his purgatorie,
I had the better leiser for to pleie, For which I hope his soule be in glorie.
And for to see, and eke for to be seie
Of lusty folk; what wist I wher my grace
To vigilies, and to processions, le died whan I came fro Jerusalem,
To prechings eke, and to thise pilgrimages, And lith ygrave under the rode-beem:
To playes of miracles, and mariages, All is his tombe not so curious
And wered upon my gay skarlet gites. As was the sepulcre of him Darius,
Thise wormes, ne thise mothes, ne thise mites Which that Appelles wrought so sotelly.
Upon my paraille frett hem never a del, It is but wast to bury hem preciously.
And wost thou why? for they were used wel. Let him farewel, God give his soule rest,
“ Now wol I tellen forth what happed me: He is now in his grave and in his chest.
I say, that in the feldes walked we, “ Now of my fifthe husbonde wol I telle;
Till trewely we had swiche daliance God let lois soule never come in Helle.
This clerk and I, that of my purveance And yet was he to me the moste shrew,
I spake to him, and said him how that he, That fele I on my ribbes all by rew,
If I were widewe, shulde wedden me. And ever shal, unto min ending day.
For certainly, I say for no bobance, But in our bed he was so fresh and gay,
Yet was I never without purveance And therwithall he coude so wel me glose,
Of mariage, ne of other thinges eke: Whan that he wolde han my belle chose,
I hold a mouses wit not worth a leke, That, though he had me bet on every bon,
That hath but on hole for to sterten to, He coude win agen my love anon.
And if that faille, than is all ydo. I trow, I love him the bet, for lie
* I bare hiin on hond, he hath enchanted me; Was of his love so dangerous to me.
(My dame taughte me that subtiltee) We wimmen han, if that I sbal not lie,
And eke I sayd, I mette of him all night, In this matere a queinte fantasie.
He wold han slain me, as I lay upright, Waite, what thing we may nat lightly have, And all my bed was full of veray blood; Therafter wol we cry all day and crave.
But yet I hope that ye shuln do me good: Forbede us thing, and that desiren we;
For blood betokeneth gold, as me was taught. Prese on us fast, and thanne wol we flee.
And al was false, I dremed of him right naught, With danger uttren we all our chaffare;
But as I folwed ay my dames lore, Gret prees at market maketh dere ware,
As wel of that as other thinges more. And to gret chepe is holden at litel prise;
“ But now, sire, let me sce, what shall I sain ? This knoweth every woman that is wise.
A ha, by God I have my tale again. * My fifthe husbonde, God his soule blesse, Whan that my fourthe husbonde was on bere, Which that I toke for love and no richesse,
I wept algate and made a sory chere, He somtime was a clerk of Oxenforde,
As wives moten, for it is the usage; And had left scole, and went at home at borde And with my coverchefe covered my visage; With my gossib, dwelling in our toun:
But, for that I was purveyed of a make, God have hire soule, hire name was Alisoun. I wept but smal, and that I undertake. She knew my herte and all my privetee,
To chirche was myn husbond born a-morwe Bet than our parish preest, so mote I the.
With neigheboures that for him maden sowre, To hire bewried I my conseil all;
And Jankin oure clerk was on of tho: For had my husbond pissed on a wall,
As helpe me God, whan that I saw him go Or don a thing that shuld have cost his lif,
After the bere, me thought he had a paire To hire, and to another worthy wif,
Of legges and of feet, so clene and faire, And to my nece, which that I loved wel,
That all my herte I yave unto his hold. I wold have told his conseil every del.
He was, I trow, a twenty winter old, And so I did ful often, God it wote,
And I was fourty, if I shal say soth, That made his face ful often red and hote
But yet I had alway a coltes toth. For veray shame, and blamed himself, for ho Gat-tothed I was, and that became me wele, Had told to me so gret o privetee.
I had the print of seinte Venus sele. ** And so befell that ones in a Lent,
As helpe me God, I was a lusty on, (so often times I to my gossib went,
And faire, and riche, and yonge, and wel begon: For ever yet I loved to be gay,
And trewely, as min husbondes tolden me, Aod for to walke in March, April, and May, I had the beste queint that might be.
For certes I am all vencrian
He cleped it Valerie, and Theophrast, In feling, and my herte is marcian:
And with that book he lough alway ful fast. Venus me yave my lust and likerousnesse,
And eke ther was a clerk somtime at Rome, And Mars yave me my sturdy hardinesse.
A cardinal, that highte Seint Jerome, Min ascendent was Taure, and Mars therinne: That made a book against Jovinian, Alas, alas, that ever love was sinne!
Which book was ther, and eke Tertullian, i folwed ay min inclination
Crisippus, Tortula, and Helowis, By vertue of my constellation :
That was abbesse not fer fro Paris; That made me that I coude nat withdraw
And eke the paraboles of Salomon, My chambre of Venus from a good felaw.
Ovides art, and bourdes many on ; Yet have I Martes merke upon my face,
And alle thise were bonden in o volume. And also in another privee place.
And every night and day was his custume For God so wisly be my salvation,
(Whan he had leiser and vacation I loved never by no discresion,
From other worldly occupation) But ever folwed min appetit,
To reden in this book of wikked wives. All were he shorte, longe, blake, or white,
He knew of hem mo legendes and mo lives, I toke no kepe, so that he liked me,
Than ben of goode wives in the Bible. How poure he was, ne eke of what degree.
“For trusteth wel, it is an impossible, “ What shuld I saye? but at the monthes ende That any clerk wol spoken good of wives, This jolly clerk Jankin, that was so hende, (But if it be of holy seintes lives) Hath wedded me with gret solempnitee,
Ne of non other woman never the mo. And to him yave I all the lond and fee,
Who peinted the leon, telleth me, who? That ever was me yeven therbefore:
By God, if wimmen hadden written stories, But afterward repented me ful sore.
As clerkes han, within hir oratories, He n'olde suffre nothing of my list.
They wol have writ of men more wikkednesse By God he smote me ones with his fist,
Than all the merke of Adam may redresse. For that I rent out of his book a lefe,
The children of Mercury and of Venus That of the stroke myn ere wex al defe.
Ben in hir werking ful contrarious. Stibborn I was, as is a leonesse,
Mercury loveth wisdom and science, And of my tonge a veray jangleresse,
And Venus loveth riot and dispence. And walk I wold, as I had don beforn,
And for hir divers disposition, Fro house to house, although he had it sworn : Eche falleth in others exaltation. For which he oftentimes wolde preche,
As thus, God wote, Mercury is desolat And me of olde Romaine gestes teche.
In Pisces, wher Venus is exaltat, “How he Sulpitius Gallus left his wif,
And Venus falleth wher Mercury is reised. And hire forsoke for terme of all his lif,
Therfore no woman of no clerk is preised. Not but for open-heded he hire say
The clerk whan he is old, and may nought do Loking out at his dore upon a day.
Of Venus werkes not worth his old sho, “ Another Romaine told he me by name,
Than siteth he doun, and writeth in his dotage, That, for his wif was at a sommer game
That wimmen cannot kepe hir mariage. Without his weting, he forsoke hire eke.
But now to purpos, why I tolde thee, “ And than wold he upon his Bible seke
That I was beten for a book parde. That ilke proverbe of Ecclesiaste,
“ Upon a night Jankin, that was our sire, Wher he commandeth, and forbedeth faste, Red on his book, as he sate by the fire, Man shal not suffer his wife go roule about. Of Eva first, that for hire wikkednesse
“ Than wold he say right thus withouten doute: Was all mankind brought to wretchedness, “Who so that bildeth his house all of salwes, For which that Jesu Crist himself was slain, And pricketh his blind hors over the falwes, That bought us with his herte-blood again. And suffereth his wif to go seken halwes,
“Lo here expresse of wimmen may ye find, Is worthy to be honged on the galwes.'
That woman was the losse of all mankind. “ But all for nought, I sette not an hawe
“ Tho redde he me how Sampson lost his heres Of his proverbes, ne of his olde sawe ;
Sleping, his lemman kitte hem with hire sheres, Ne' I wold not of him corrected be.
Thurgh whiche treson lost he both his eyen. I hate hem that my vices tellen me,
" Tho redde he me, if that I shal not lien, And so do mo of us (God wote) than I.
Of Hercules, and of his Deianire, This made him wood with me all utterly ;
That caused him to set himself a-fire. I n'olde not forbere him in no cas.
“ Nothing forgat he the care and the wo, “Now wol I say you soth by Seint Thomas, That Socrates had with his wives two; Why that I rent of his book a lefe,
How Xantippa cast pisse upon his hed. For which he smote me, so that I was defe.
This sely man sat still, as he were ded, “ He had a book, that gladly night and day He wiped his hed, no more dorst he sain, For his disport he wolde it rede alway,
But, er the thonder stint, ther cometh rain.
* Of Clitemnestra for hire lecherie
And whan he saw how stille that I lay, That falsely made hire husbond for to die,
He was agast, and wold have fled away, He redde it with ful good devotion.
1. Til at the last out of my swough I brayde. “ He told me eke, for what oocasion,
• 0, bast thou slain me, false theef?' I sayde, Amphiorax at Thebes lost his lif:
• And for my lond thus hast thou mordered me ? My husbond had a legend of his wif
Er I be ded, yet wol I kissen thee.' Eriphile, that for an quche of gold
And nere he came, and kneled faire adoun,
And sayde; • Dere suster Alisoun,
That I have don it is thyself to wite, * Of Lima told he me, and of Lucie:
Foryeve it me, and that I thee besehe.' They bothe made hir husbondes for to die,
And yet eftsones I hitte him on the cheke, That on for love, that other was for hate.
And sayde; • Theef, thus much am I awrehe, Lima hire husbond on an even late
Now wol I die, I may no longer speke.' Empoysoned bath, for that she was his fo:
“ But at the last with mochel care and wo Lucia likerous loved hir husbond so,
We fell accorded by ourselven two:
He yaf me all the bridel in min hond
And of his tonge, and of his hond also,
And made him brenne bis book anon right tho. “ Than told he me, how on Latumeus
* And whan that I had getten unto me Complained to his felaw Arius,
By maistrie all the soverainetee, That in his garden growed swiche a tree,
And that he sayd, · Min owen trewe wif, On which he said how that his wives three
Do as thee list, the terme of all thy lif, Honged hemself for hertes despitous.
Kepe thin honour, and kepe eke min estat;' O leve brother,' quod this Arius,
After that day we never had debat. Yeve me a plant of thilke blessed tree,
God helpe me so; I was to him as kinde, And in my gardin planted shal it bę.'
As any wif fro Denmark unto Inde. “ Of later date of wives hath he redde,
And al so trewe, and so was he to me:
The Frere lough whan he herd all this:
This is a long preamble of a tale." He spake more harm than herte may bethinke. And whan the Sompnour herd the Frere gale,
“ And therwithall he knew of mo proverbes, “ Lo” (quod this Sompnour)“ Goddes armes two, Than in this world their growen gras or herbes.
A frere wol entermit him evermo; * * Bet is' (quod he) .thin habitation,
Lo, goode men, a flie and eke a frere Be with a leon, or a foule dragon,
Wol fall in every dish and eke matere. Than with a woman using for to chide.
What spekest thou of preambulatioun ? « • Bet is' (quod he) high in the roof abide, What ? amble or trot; or pees, or go sit doun : Than with an angry woman doun in the hous, Thou lettest our disport in this matere.” (Frere; They ben so wikked and contrarious :
“ Ye, wolt thou so, sire Sompnour:" quod the They haten, that hir husbonds loven ay.'
“ Now by my faith. I shal, er that I go, " He sayd, a woman cast hire shame away, Tell of a sompnour swiche a tale or two, Whan she cast of hire smock; and furthermo, That all the folk shal laughen in this place." A faire woman, but she be chast also,
“ Now elles, Frere, I wol beshiewe thy face," Is like a gold ring in a sowes nose.
(Quod this Sompnour) " and I beshrewe me, " Who coude wene, or who coude suppose
But if I telle tales two or three
That I shal make thin herte for to morne:
For wel I wot thy patience is gon.” Al sodenly three leves have I plight
Our Hoste cried; " Pees, and that anon;" Out of his book, right as he redde, and eke
And sayde; “Let the woman tell hire tale. I with my fist so toke him on the cheke,
Ye fare as folk that dronken ben of ale. That in oure fire he fell bakward adoun.
Do, dame, tell forth your tale, and that is best." And he up sterte, as doth a wood leoun,
Alredy, sire” (quod she), “ right as you lest, And with his fist he smote ine on the hed,
If I have licence of this worthy frere.” [here." That in the flore I lay a; I were ded.
“Yes, dame" (quod he), - tell forth, and I wol