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But me was told, not longe time agon is,
That fithen Crist ne went never but onis
To wedding in the Cane cf Galilee,
That hy tnat ilke enfample taught he me
That (ne fhulde wedded be but ones.
Locherke eke, which a sharp word for the nones,
Beficle a velle Jefu God and man
Spake in reprete of the Samaritan;
Thou haft yhadde five husbonds, fayde he,
And thilko man that now hath wedded thee 5600
Is not thyo husbond. Thus faid he certain,
What that he ment therby I can not lain ;
But that I aike why that the fifthe man
Was non husbond to the Samaritan?
How many might she have in mariage? 3605
Yet herd I never tellen in min age
Upon this noumbre diffinitioun;
Men may devine and glosen up and doun.
But wel I wot exprelle withouten lie God had us for to wex and multiplie;
5610 That gentil text can I wel understond: Eke wel I wot he fayd that min husbond Shuld leve fader and moder and take to me; But of no noumbre mention made he Of bigamie or of odogamie;
5615 Why fuld men than speke of it vilanie?
Lo here the wife King, Dan Salomon I trow he hadde wives mo than on,
(As wolde God it-teful were to me
To be refreshed half fo oft as he) Lia 5620
Which a gift of God bad he for alle his wives?
No man hath swiche that in this world on live is.
God wot this noble king, as to my witte,"
The firste night had many a mery fitte
With eche of hem, fo wel was him on live. 5625
Blessed be God that I have wedded five;
Welcome the sixthe whan that ever he shall;
For sith I wol not kepe me chaste in all,
Whan min husbond is fro the world ygone
Som Cristen man fhal wedden me anon; 5630
For than the apostle saith that I am fre
To wedde a'Goddes half wher it liketh me;
He saith that'to be wedded is no finne;
Better is to be wedded than to brinne.
What rekketh me though folk say vilanie . 5635 Of shrewed Lamech and his bigamie?
7.5626. I have wedded five] After this verse the fix following are in mil. a, HA. C. 2, and in edit. Ca. 2;
Of wbiche I have pyked out the belte
Butbe of here nether purs and of here chefte.
Diverfe fcoles maken parfyt clerkes,
And diverse practyk in many fondry werkęs
Maken the werkman parfyt sekirly :
Of tive husbondes sculetyng am I;
Welcome the fixthe, &c. If these lines are not Chaucer's they are certainly more in his manner than the generality of the imitations of him. Perhaps he wrote them, and afterwards blotted them out. They come in but awkwardly here, and he has used the principal idea in another place, March. T. ver. 9301.
I wot wel Abraham was an holy man,
And Jacob eke, as fer as ever I can,
And eche of hem had wives mo than two,
And many another holy man also.
Wher can ye seen in any maner age
That highe God defended mariage
By expresie word? I pray you telleth me,
Or wher commanded he virginitee?
I wot as wel as ye, it is no drede,
5645 The apostle, whan he spake of maidenhede, He said that precept therof had he non; Men may conseille a woman to ben on, But conseilling is no conimandement; He put it in our owen jugement.
5630 For hadde God commanded maidenhede, Than had he dampned wedding out of drede; And certes if ther were no fede ylowe Virginitee than wherof fhuld it growe? Poule dorste not commanden at the left
3655 A thing of which his maister yaf non hest. The dart is sette up for virginitee, Catch who so may, who renneth best let see. But this word is not take of every wight, But ther as God wol yeve it of his might.
5660 I wot wel that the apostle was a maid, But natheles, though that he wrote and said He wold that every wight were swiche as he, All n’is but conseil to virginitee.
And for to ben a wif he yaf me leve,
Of indulgence, so n'is it non repreve
if that my make die,
Withoute exception of bigamie ;
All were it good no woman for to touche,
(He ment as in his bed or in his couche)
For peril is both fire and tow to assemble;
Ye know what this ensample may resemble.
This is all and fom, he held virginitee
More parlit than wedding in freeltee:
fFreeltee clepe I, but if that he and the
Wold lede hir lives all in chastitee)
I graunt it wel, I have of non envie
Who maidenhed preferre to bigamie;
It liketh hem to be clene in body and gost :
Of min estat I wol not maken boit.
For wel ye know a lord in his houfhold
Ne hath nat every veffell all of gold:
Som ben of tree, and don hir lord service.
God clepeth folk to him in foodry wise,
7.5677. Igraunt it wel, I have non envie-Though maidenbel preferre bigamie] So these two verses ftand, without any material difference, in all the mil. If they are right we mutt understand preferre to fignify the same as be preferredt 19. Knowing no example of such a construction I have ventured at an alteration of the text. It might have been as well, perhaps, to have left the firlt line untouched, and to have com Icated the second only thus;
Though maidenhed be preferr'd bigamie. 7.5681. a lord in bis boufboldj See 2 Tim. ii. 20." I
And everich hath of God a propre gift, 5685
Som this, som that, as that him liketh shift.
Virginitee is gret perfection,
And continence eke with devotion;
But Crist, that of perfection is welle,
Ne bade not every wight he shuld go felle 5690
All that he had and yeve it to the poure,
And in fwiche wife follow him and his lore:
He spake to hem that wold livé parfitly,
And, Lordings, (by your leve) that am nat I:
I wol bestow the flour of all myn age 5695
In th'actes and the fruit of mariage.
Tell me also to what conclusion
Were membres made of generation,
And of fo parfit wise a wight ywrought?
Trusteth me wel they were nat made for nought.
Glofe who fo wol, and say bothe up and doun,
That they were made for purgatioun
Of urine, and of other thinges (male,
And eke to know a female from a male:
And for non other cause ? say ye no? 5705
The experience wot wel it is not fo.
So that the clerkes be not with me wroth
I say this, that they maked ben for both,
This is to sayn, for office and for ese
Of engendrure, ther we not God difplefe. 3710
Why shuld men elles in hir bookes sette
That man shal yelden to his wif hire dette?