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In sangwin and in pers he clad was al,
A good WiF was ther of byside BATHE,
444.—pestilence. An allusion, probably, to the great pestilences which devastated Europe in the middle of the fourteenth century, and to which we owe the two celebrated works, the Decameron of Boccacio, and the Visions of Piers Ploughman.
449.-cloth makyng. The west of England, and especially the neighbourhood of Bath, from which the “ good wif" came, was celebrated, till a comparatively recent period, as the district of cloth-making. Ipres and Ghent were the great clothing marts on the Continent.
456.-ten pounde, This is the reading of all the best MSS. I have consulted. Tyrwhitt has a pound. It is a satire on the fashionable head dresses of the ladies at this time, which appear in the illuminations to be composed of large quantities of heavy wadding, and the satirist takes the liberty of exaggerating a little.
459.-moyste. One of the Cambridge MSS. reads softe, which was, perhaps, originally a gloss to moyste.
Bold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe.
A good man was ther of religioun,
462.-atle chirche dore. The priest formerly joined the hands of the couple, and performed a great part of the marriage service, in the church porch. See Warton's History of English Poetry, ii. 201 (ed. of 1840).
468.-Coloyne. At Cologne the bones of the three kings of the East were believed to be preserved.
477.—remedyes. An allusion to the title and subject of Ovid's book, De Remedio Amoris.
480. Chaucer, in his beautiful character of the parson, sets up the industrious secular clergy against the lazy, wicked monks.
But riche he was of holy thought and werk.
483.-truly. I have substituted this word, which is found in most of the other MSS., for gladly, the reading of the MS. Har).
Wel oughte a prest ensample for to give,
520 To drawe folk to heven by fairnesse, By good ensample, was his busynesse: But it were eny persone obstinat, What so he were of high or lowe estat, Him wolde he snybbe scharply for the nones. A bettre preest I trowe ther nowher non is. He waytud after no pompe ne reverence, Ne maked him a spiced conscience, But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve, He taught, and ferst he folwed it himselve.
530 With him ther was a PLOUGHMAN, his brothur, That hadde i-lad of dong ful many a fothur.
621.-fairnesse. This is the reading of most of the MSS. The MS. Harl. has clennesse, which seems not to give so good a sense.
A trewe swynker, and a good was hee,
Ther was also a reeve and a mellere,
The MELLERE was a stout carl for the nones,
550.--the ram. “This was the usual prize at wrestling-matches. See below, ver. 13,671 ; and Gamelyn, ver. 343 and 555. M. Paris mentions a wrestling.match at Westminster, in the year 1222, at which a ram was the prize."--Tyrwhitt.
652.-harre. This is the reading of all the oldest and best MSS.; barre, a later reading, adopted by Tyrwhitt, appears to have originated with some one who did not know the meaning of the other word.