Page images


His purchasyng might nought ben to him suspecte.
Nowher so besy a man as he ther nas,

And yit he semed besier than he was.
In termes hadde caas and domes alle,
That fro the tyme of kyng Will. were falle.
Therto he couthe endite, and make a thing,
Ther couthe no man pynche at his writyng.
And every statute couthe he pleyn by roote.
He rood but hoomly in a medled coote,
Gird with a seynt of silk, with barres smale ;
Of his array telle I no lenger tale.

A FRANKELEYN ther was in his companye ;
Whit was his berde, as the dayesye.
Of his complexioun he was sangwyn.
Wel loved he in the morn a sop of wyn.
To lyve in delite was al his wone,
For he was Epicurius owne sone,
That heeld opynyoun that pleyn delyt

339 Was verraily felicité perfyt. An househaldere, and that a gret, was he; Seynt Julian he was in his countré. His breed, his ale, was alway after oon; A bettre envyned man was nowher noon. Withoute bake mete was never his hous, Of fleissch and fissch, and that so plentyvous, It snewed in his hous of mete and drynk,

347 Of alle deyntees that men cowde thynke, Aftur the sondry sesouns of the yeer,

312. St. Julian was the patron of hospitality.



He chaunged hem at mete and at soper.
Ful many a fat partrich had he in mewe,
And many a brem and many a luce in stewe.
Woo was his cook, but if his sauce were
Poynant and scharp, and redy al his gere.
His table dormant in his halle alway
Stood redy covered al the longe day.
At sessions ther was he lord and sire.
Ful ofte tyme he was knight of the schire.
An anlas and a gipser al of silk
Heng at his gerdul, whit as morne mylk.
A schirreve hadde he ben, and a counter ;
Was nowher such a worthi vavaser.

Weren with us eeke, clothed in oo lyveré,
Of a solempne and gret fraternité.
Ful freissh and newe here gere piked was ;
Here knyfes were i-chapud nat with bras,
But al with silver wrought ful clene and wel,
Here gurdles and here pouches every del.
Wel semed eche of hem a fair burgeys,
To sitten in a geldehalle, on the deys.
Every man for the wisdom that he can,
Was schaply for to ben an aldurman.


352.-in stewe ; i. e., in a fish pond. The great consumption of fish under the Romish regime rendered a fish.pond a necessary accessory to every gentleman's house. 355.-table dormant. Probably the fixed table at the end of the hall.



For catel hadde they inough and rente,
And eek here wyfes wolde it wel assente :
And elles certeyn hadde thei ben to blame.
It is right fair for to be clept madame,
And for to go to vigilies al byfore,
And han a mantel rially i-bore.

A Cook thei hadde with hem for the nones,
To boyle chiknes and the mary bones,
And poudre marchant, tart, and galyngale.
Wel cowde he knowe a draught of Londone ale.
He cowde roste, sethe, broille, and frie,
Make mortreux, and wel bake a pye.
But gret harm was it, as it semede me,
That on his schyne a mormal hadde he;
For blankmanger he made with the beste.

A SCHIPMAN was ther, wonyng fer by weste:
For ought I woot, he was of Dertemouthe.
He rood upon a rouncy, as he couthe,
In a gowne of faldyng to the kne.
A dagger hangyng on a laas hadde he
Aboute his nekke under his arm adoun.
The hoote somer had maad his hew al broun;
And certeinly he was a good felawe.
Ful many a draught of wyn had he drawe

390 400

384.--London ale. Tyrwhitt has cited a passage of an old writer, which shews that London ale was prized above that of other parts of the country.

396.—the hoote somer. Perhaps this is a reference to the summer of the year 1351, which was long remembered as the dry and hot summer. Other allusions in this general prologue seem to shew that Chaucer in. tended to lay the plot of his Canterbury pilgrimage soon after this date. 410.-Scotland. Most of the MSS. have Gotland, the reading adopted by Tyrwhitt, and perhaps the correct one.

From Burdeux-ward, whil that the chapman sleep.
Of nyce conscience took he no keep.
If that he foughte, and hadde the heigher hand,
By water he sente hem hoom to every land.
But of his craft to rikne wel the tydes,
His stremes and his dangers him bisides,
His herbergh and his mone, his lodemenage,
Ther was non such from Hulle to Cartage.
Hardy he was, and wys to undertake:
With many a tempest hadde his berd ben schake.
He knew wel alle the venes, as thei were,
From Scotlond to the cape of Fynestere,

410 And every cryk in Bretayne and in Spayne : His barge y-clepud was the Magdelayne.

Ther was also a DOCTOUR OF PHISIK,
In al this world ne was ther non him lyk
To speke of phisik and of surgerye :
For he was groundud in astronomye.
He kepte his pacient a ful gret del
In houres by his magik naturel.
Wel cowde he fortune the ascendent
Of his ymages for his pacient.

420 He knew the cause of every maladye, Were it of cold, or hete, or moyst, or drye,

416.- Astronomye. A great portion of the medical science of the middle ages depended on astrological and other superstitious observances.

417.-a ful gret del. This is the reading of most of the MSS. ; the MS. Harl. has wondurly wel.

And where thei engendrid, and of what humour ;
He was a verrey parfight practisour.
The cause i-knowe, and of his harm the roote,
Anon he gaf the syke man his boote.
Ful redy hadde he his apotecaries,
To sende him dragges, and his letuaries,
For eche of hem made othur for to wynne :
Here friendschipe nas not newe to begynne. 430
Wel knew he the olde Esculapius,
And Deiscorides, and eeke Rufus ;
Old Ypocras, Haly, and Galien;
Serapyon, Razis, and Avycen;
Averrois, Damascen, and Constantyn;
Bernard, and Gatisden, and Gilbertyn.
Of his diete mesurable was he,
For it was of no superfluité,
But of gret norisching and digestible.
His studie was but litel on the Bible.


431,-Wel knew he. The authors mentioned here were the chief medical textbooks of the middle ages. Rufus was a Greek physician, of Ephesus, of the age of Trajan ; Haly, Serapion, and Avicen, were Arabian physicians and astronomers of the eleventh century; Rhasis was a Spanish Arab, of the tenth century; and Averroes was a Moorish scholar, who flourished in Morocco in the twelfth century; Johannes Damascenus was also an Arabian physician, but of a much earlier date ; Constantius Afer, a native of Carthage, and afterwards a monk of Monte Cassino, was one of the founders of the school of Salerno,-he lived at the end of the eleventh century; Bernardus Gordonius, professor of medicine at Montpellier, appears to have been Chaucer's contemporary; John Gatisden was a distinguished physician of Oxford, in the earlier half of the fourteenth century; Gilbertyn is supposed by Warton to be the cele. brated Gilbertus Anglicus. The other names inentioned here are too well known to need further observation. The names of Hippocrates and Galen were, in the middle ages, always (or nearly always) spelt Ypocras and Galienus.

« PreviousContinue »