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And eke as loude, as doth the chapell belle,
Ther as this lord was keeper of the celle.
The reule of Seint Maure and of Seint Beneit,
Because that it was olde and somdele streit,
This ilkè monke lette oldè thingés pace,
And held after the newè worlde the trace.
He yave' not of the text a pulled hen,
That saith, that hunters ben not holy men ;
Ne that a monk, whan he is rekkēles, 2
Is like to a fish that is waterles ;
This is to say, a monk out of his cloistre.
This ilkè text held he not worth an oistre.
And I say his opinion was good.
What shulde he studie, and make himselven wood 3
Upon a book in cloistre alway to pore,
Or swinken4 with his hondès, and laboùre,
As Austin bit' ? how shal the world be served ?
Let Austin have his swink to him reserved.
Therfore he was a prickasoure a right:
Greihoundes he hadde as swift as foul of flight:
Of pricking and of hunting for the hare
Was all his lust, for no coste wolde he spare.
I saw his sleves purfiled at the hond
With gris, 8 and that the finest of the lond.
And for to fasten his hood under his chinne,
He had of gold ywrought a curious pinne;
A love-knotte in the greter end ther was.
His hed was balled, and shone as any glas,
And eke his face, as it hadde been anoint.
He was a lord ful fat and in good point.
eyen stepe, and rolling in his hed,
That stemed as a fornëis of led.
His botès souple, his hors in gret estat ;
Now certainly he was a fayre prelàt.
He was not pale as a forpined gost.
A fat swan loved he best of any rost.
His palfrey was as broune as is a bery.
A Frere there was, a wanton and a mery, A Limitour, a ful solempnè man. In all the ordres foure is none that can 2 So muche of daliance and fayre langage. He hadde ymade ful many a mariage Of yongè wimmen, at his owen cost, Until his ordre he was a noble post. Ful wel beloved, and familier was he With frankeleins over all in his contrée, And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun : For he had power of confession, As saide himselfè, more than a curàt, For of his ordre he was licenciat. Ful swetely herde he confession, And plesant was his absolution. He was an esy man to give penance, There as he wiste to han3 a good pitànce: For unto a poure4 ordre for to give Is signè that a man is well yshrive.5 For if he gave, he dorstèo make avant, He wistè that a man was repentant. For many a man so hard is of his herte, He may not wepe although him soré smerte. Therfòre in stede of weping and praières, Men mote give silver to the pourè freres.
His tippet was ay farsed? ful of knives, And pinnès, for to given fayrè wives. And certainly he hadde a mery note. Well coude he singe and plaien on a rote.
Of yeddingeshe bare utterly the pris.
His nekke was white as the flour de lis.
Therto he strong was as a champioun,
And knew wel the tavèrnes in every toun,
And every hosteler and gay tapstère,
Better than a lazar or a beggère,
For unto swiche a worthy man as he
Accordeth nought, as by his facultè,
To haven? with sike lazars acquaintànce,
It is not honest, it may not avance,
As for to delen with no swiche pouràille,3
But all with riche, and sellers of vitàille.
And over all, ther as profit shuld arise,
Curteis he was, and lowly of servise.
Ther n'as no man no wher so vertuous.
He was the beste beggèr in all his hous:
And gave a certain fermè 4 for the grant,
Non of his bretheren came in his haunt.
For though a widewe hadde but a shoo,
(So plesant was his in principio)
Yet wold he have a ferthing or he went.
His pourchasó was wel better than his rent.
And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp,
In lovèdayes, there coude he mochel help.
For ther was he nat like a cloisterere,
With thredbare cope, as is a poure scholere,
But he was like a maister or a pope.
Of double worsted was his semicope,
That round was as a belle out of the presse,
Somewhat he lipsed for his wantonnesse,
To make his English swete upon his tongue;
And in his harping, whan that he hadde songe
His eyen twinkeled in his hed aright,
As don the sterrès in a frosty night.
This worthy limitour was cleped Hubèrd.
i Story-telling. 2 Have. 3 Poor people.
A Clerk there was of Oxenforde alsò, That unto logike haddè long ygo. As lenè was his hors as is a rake, And he was not right fat, I undertake; But loked holwe, and thereto soberly. Ful thredbare was his overest courtepy,2 For he hadde geten him yet no benefice, Ne was nought worldly to have an officè. For him was lever3 han at his beddes hed A twenty bokes, clothed in black and red, Of Aristotle, and his philosophie, Than robès riche, or fidel, or sautrie. But all be that he was a philosophre, Yet haddè he but litel gold in cofre, But all that he might of his frendès hente 4 On bokès and on lerning he it spente, And besily gan for the soulès praie Of hem, that yave him wherwith to scolaie.” Of studie toke he mostè cure and hede. Not a word spake he more than was nede; And that was said in forme and reverence, And short and quike, and ful of high sentènce. Souning in moral vertue was his speche, And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.
A good man there was of religioun,
That was a pourè Persone 6 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.2
Ful loth were him to cursen for his tithes,
But rather wolde he yeven 3 out of doute,
Unto his pourè parishens aboute,
Of his offring, and eke of his substance.
He coulde in litel thing have suffisance.
Wide was his parish, and houses fer asоnder,
But he ne left nought for no rain ne thonder,
In sickenesse and in mischief to visite
The ferrest in his parish, moche and lite,4
Upon his fete, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensample to his shepe he yaf,
That first he wrought and afterwards 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:
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 Seinte 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 wolfe 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 :