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Enjoying while we live the present bour,
Deep in her cell her cottage lonely stood, And dying in our excellence and flower.
Well thatch'd, and under covert of a wood. Then round our death-bed every friend should run, This dowager, on whom my tale I found, And joyous of our conquest early won:
Since last she laid her husband in the ground, While the malicious world with envious tears A simple sober life, in patience, led, Should grudge our happy end, and wish it theirs. And had but just enough to buy her bread: Since then our Arcite is with honour dead, But huswifing the little Heaven had lent, Why should we mourn, that he so soon is frecd, She duly paid a groat for quarter rent; Or call untimely what the gods decreed? And pinch'd her belly, with her daughters tivo, With grief as just, a friend may be deplor'd, To bring the year about with much ado. From a foul prison to free air restor'd.
The cattle in her homestead were three sows, Ought he to thank his kinsmen or his wife, An ewe call'd Mallie, and three brinded cows. Could tears recall him into wretch'd life?
Her parlour-window stuck with herbs around, Their sorrow hurts themselves; on him is lost; Of savoury smell; and rushes strew'd the ground. And, worse than both, offends his happy ghost. A maple-dresser in her hall she had, What then remains, but, after past annoy,
On which full many a slender meal she made; To take the good vicissitude of joy ?
For no delicious morsel pass'd her throat; To thank the gracious gods for what they give, According to her cloth she cut her coat: Possess our souls, and, while we live, to live? No poignant sauce she knew, nor costly treat, Ordain we then two sorrows to combine,
Her hunger gave a relish to her meat : And in one point th' extremes of grief to join; A sparing diet did her health assure; That thence resulting joy may be renew'd, Or, sick, a pepper posset was her cure. As jarring notes in harmony conclude.
Before the day was done, her work she sped, Then I propose that Palamon shall be
And never went by candle-light to bed:
Her poverty was glad ; her heart content;
But white and black was all her homely chear: By Arcite's death from former vows is free: Brown bread, and milk, (but fitst she skimm’dler If you, fair sister, ratify th'accord,
And rashers of sing'd bacon on the coals. [vowls) And take him for your husband and your lord, On holy days an egg, or two at most; 'Tis no dishonour to confer your grace
But her ambition never reach'd to roast. On one descended from a royal race:
A yard she had with pales enclos'd about, And were he less, yet years of service past Some high, soine low, and a dry ditch without. From grateful souls exact reward at last : Within this homestead, liv'd, without a peer, Pity is Heaven's and your's; nor can she find For crowing loud, the noble Chanticleer; A throne so soft as in a woman's mind.”
So hight her cock, whose singing did surpass He said; she blush'd; and, as o'eraw'd by might, The merry notes of organs at the mass. Seem'd to give Theseus what she gave the knight. More certain was the crowing of the cock Then turning to the Theban thus he said; To number hours, than is an abbey-clock; “Sinall arguments are needful to persuade And sooner than the mattin-bell was rung, Your temper to comply with my command;" He clapp'd his wings upon his roost, and sung: And speaking thus, he gave Emnilia's hand. For when degrees fitteen ascended right, Smild Venus, to behold her own true knight By sure instinct he knew 'twas one at night. Obtain the conquest, though he lost the fight; High was his comb, and coral-red withal, And bless’d with nuptial bliss the sweet labo- In dents embattled like a castle wall; rious night.
His bill was raven-black, and shone like jet;
His body glittering like the burnish'd gold.
Six misses had, besides his lawful wife;
Scandal, that spares no king, though nc'er so good, No jealousy, but mutual truth believ'd,
Says, they were all of his own flesh and blood, Secure repose, and kindness undeceiv'd.
His sisters both by sire and mother's side; Thus Heaven, beyond the compass of his thought, | And sure their likeness show'd them near ally'd. Sent him the blessing he so dearly bought.
But make the worst, the monarch did no more,
When incest is for interest of a nation,
Which by their common uyliness are known.
But passing this, as from our tale apart,
Dame Partlet was the sovereign of his heart: OR THE TALE OF THE NUN'S PRIEST. Ardent in love, outrageous in his play,
He feather'd her a hundred times a day: There liv'd, as authors tell, in days of yore, And she, that was not only passing fair, A widow, somewhat old, and very poor ;
But was withal discreet, and debonair,
Pesolv’d the passive doctrine to fulfil,
From rising fumes of indigested food, Though loth; and let him work his wicked will: And noxious humours that infect the blood : At board and bed was affable and kind,
And sure, my lord, if I can read aright, According as their marriage vow did bind, These foolish fancies you have had to-night And as the church's precept had enjoin'd: Are certain symptoms (in the canting style) Ev'n since she was a se'nnight oid, they say, Of boiling choler, and abounding bile; Was chaste and humble to her dying day, This yellow gall, that in your stomach floats, Nor chick nor hen was known to disobey.
Fogenders all these visionary thoughts. By this her husband's heart she did obtain; When choler overflows, then dreams are bred What cannot beauty, join’d with virtue, gain! Of flames, and all the family of red; She was his only joy, and he her pride,
Red dragons, and red beasts, in sleep we view, She, when he walk’d, went pecking by his side; For humours are distinguish'd by their hue. If, spurning up the ground, he sprung a corn, From hence we dream of wars and warlike things, The tribute in his bill to her was borne.
And wasps and hornets with their double wings. But, oh! what joy it was to hear hinn sing
Choler adust congeals our blood with fear, In summer, when the day began to spring, Theu black bulls toss us, and black devils tear. Stretching his neck, and warbling in his throat, In sanguine airy dreams aloft we bound, “ Sulus cum sola,” then was all his note.
With rheums oppress'd we sink, in rivers drown'd. For in the days of yore, the birds of parts [arts. “ More I could say, but thus conclude my there, Were bred to speak, and sing, and learn the liberal | The dominating humour makes the dream.
It happ'd, that, perching on the parlour-beam Cato was in his time accounted wise, Ainidst his wives, he had a deadly dream, And he condemns them all for empty lies. Just at the dawn; and sigh’d, and groan'd so fast, Take my advicc, and when we fiy to ground, As every breath he drew would be his last. With laxatives preserve your body sound, Dame Partlet, ever nearest to his side,
And purge the peccant humours that abound. Heard all his piteous mvan, and how he cry'd I should be loth to lay you on a bier; For help from gods and men: and sore aghast And though there lives no 'pothecary near, She peck'd and pull'd, and waken'd him at last, I dare for once prescribe for your disease, “Dear heart,” said she, “ for love of Heaven, | And save long bills, and a damn'd doctor's fees. declare
“ Two sovereign herbs which I by practice Your pain, and make me partner of your care.
know, You gruan, sir, ever since the morning-light, And both at hand (for in our yard they grow); As something had disturb'd your noble spright.” On peril of my soul shall rid you wholly
“And madam, well I might,” said Chanticleer, Of yellow choler, and of melancholy: “Never was shrovet de cock in such a fear, You must both purge and vomit; but obey, Ev'n still I run all over in a sweat,
And for the love of Heaven make no delay. My princely senses not recover'd yet.
Since hot and dry in your complexion join, For such a dream I had of dire portent,
Beware the Sun when in a'vernal sign;
For when he mounts exalted in the Ram,
Replete with choler, I dare lay a groat,
A day or two before your laxative, Tipp'd was his tail, and both his pricking cars Take just three worms, nor under nor above, Were black, and inuch unlike his other hairs: Because the gods unequal numbers love. The rest, in shape a beagle's whelp throughout, These digestives prepare you for your purge ; With broad r forehead, and a sharper snout: Of fumetery, centaury, and spurge, Deep in his front were sunk his glowing eyes, And of ground-ivy add a leaf or two, That yat methinks I see himn with surprise. All which within our yard or garden grow. Reach out your hand, I drop with clammy sweat, Eat these, and be, my lord, of better cheer; And lay it to my heart, and feel it beat.”
Your father's son was never born to fear.” “Now fy for shame," quoth she, “by Heaven “Madam,” quoth he, “grammercy for your care, above,
But Cato, whom you quoted, you may spare : Thou last for ever lost thy lady's love;
"Tis true, a wise and worthy man he seems, No woman can endure a recreant knight,
And (as you say) gave no belief to dreams : He must be bold by day, and free by night: But other man of more authority, Our sex desires a husband or a friend,
And, by th' iminortal powers, as wise as he, Who can cur honour and his own defend;
Maintain, with sounder sense, that dreams foreWise, hardly, secret, liberal of his purse:
bude; A fvol is nauseous, but a coward worse :
For Homer plainly says they come from God. No bragging coxcomb, yet no bafiled knight. Nor Cato said it: but some modern fool How dar'st thou talk of love, and darst not fight? Impos'd in Cato's name on boys at school. How dar'st thou tell thy dame thou art affiard ? “ Believe me, madam, morning dreams foreshow Hast thou no meniy heart, and hast a beard? Th’event of things, and future weal or woe:
“ li aught from fearful dreams may be divin'd, Some truths are not by reason to be tryd, They signify a cock of dunghill kind.
But we have sure experience for our guide. All dreams, as in old Galen I have read,
An ancient author, equal with the best, Are from repletion and complexion bred; Relates this tale of dreams among the rest.
“ Two friends or brothers, with devout intent, All in a trice they cast the cart to the ground, On some far pilgrimage together went.
And in the dung the murder'd body found ; It happen'd so, that, when the Sun was down, Though breathless, warm, and reeking from the They just arriv'd by twilight at a town:
wound. That day had been the baiting of a bull,
Good Heaven, whose darling attribute we find 'Twas at a feast, and every inn so full,
Is boundless grace, and mercy to mankind, That no void room in chamber, or on ground, Abhors the cruel ; and the deeds of night And but one sorry bed was to be found:
By wondrous ways reveals in open light: And that so little it would hold but one,
Murder may pass unpunisb’d for a time, Though till this hour they never lay alone. But tardy Justice will o'ertake the crime.
“So were they forc'd to part; one stay'd behind And oft a speedier pain the guilty feels: (heels: His fellow sought what lodging he could find : The hue and cry of Heaven pursues him at the At last he found a stall where oxen stood,
Fresh from the fact, as in the present case, And that be rather chose than lie abroad,
The criminals are seiz'd upon the place : 'Twas in a farther yard without a door;
Carter and host confronted face to face. But, for his ease, well litter'd was the floor. Stiff in denial, as the law appoints,
“ His fellow, who the narrow bed had kept, On engines they distend their tortur'd joints : Was weary, and without a rocker slept :
So was confession forc'd, th’offence was known, Supine be snor'd; but in the dead of night, And public justice on th' offenders done. He dreamt his friend appearl before his sight, “ Here may you see that visions are to dread; Who, with a ghastly look and doleful cry, And in the page that follows this, I read Said, “Help me, brother, or this night I die: Of two young merchants, whom the hope of gain Arise, and help, before all help be vain,
Inducd in partnership to cross the main. Or in an ox's stall I shall be slain.'
Waiting till willing winds their sails supply'd, “ Rous'd from his rest, he waken'd in a start, Within a trading town they long abide, Shivering with horrour, and with aching heart, Full fairly situate on a haven's side; At length to cure himself by reason tries;
One evening it befell, that looking out, 'Tis but a dream, and what are dreams but lies? The wind they long had wish'd was come about: So thinking, chang'd his side, and clos'd his eyes. Well pleas'd they went to rest; and if the gale His dream returns; his friend appears again : Till morn continued, both resolv'd to sail. "The murderers come, now help, or I am slain :' But as together in a bed they lay, Tvas but a vision still, and visions are but vain. The younger had a dream at break of day. He dreamt the third: but now his friend appeard A man he thought stood frowning at his side: Pale, naked, pierc'd with wounds, with blood be- Who warnd him for his safety to provide, smear'd:
Nor put to sea, but safe on shore abide. Thrice warn'd, “Awake, said he; relief is late, 'I come, thy genius, to command thy stay; The deed is done; but thou revenge my fate: Trust not the winds, for fatal is the day, Tardy of aid, unseal thy heavy eyes,
And Death unhop'd attends the watery way.' Awake, and with the dawning day arise :
“ The vision said: and vanish'd from his sight: Take to the western gate thy ready way,
The dreamer waken'd in a mortal fright: For by that passage they my corpse convey:
Then pulld his drowsy neighbour, and declar'd My corpse is in a tumbril lajd, among
What in his slumber he had seen and heard. The filth and ordure, and enclos'd with dung: His friend smild scornful, and with proud conThat cart arrest, and raise a common cry;
Rejects as idle what his fellow dreamt. [tempt For sacred hunger of my gold, I die:
'Stay, who will stay: for me no fears restrain, Then show'd his griesly wound: and last he drew Who follow Mercury the god of gain; A piteous sigh, and took a long adieu.'
Let each man do as to his fancy seems, “ The frighted friend arose by break of day, I wait not, I, till you have better dreams. And found the stall where late his fellow lay. Dreams are but interludes which Fancy makes; Then of his impious host inquiring more,
When monarch Reason sleeps, this mimic wakes : Was answer'd that his guest was gone before: Compounds a medley of disjointed things,
Muttering, he went, said he, by morning-light, A mob of coblers, and a court of kings :
And many monstrous forms in sleep we see,
Rush forward in the brain, and come to mind.
As hounds in sleep will open for their prey.
Whate'er I get this voyage is my own.' “ The word thus given, within a little space, “ Thus while he spoke, he heard the shouting The mob came roaring out, and throng’d the place.
That call'd aboard, and took his last adieu.
The vessel went before a merry gale,
While thou art constant to thy own true knight, And for quick passage put on every sail :
While thou art mine, and I am thy delight, But when least feard, and ev'n in open day, All sorrows at thy presence take their flight. The mischief overtook her in the way:
For true it is, as in principio, Whether she sprung a leak, I cannot find,
Mulier est hominis confusio. Or whether she was overset with wind,
Madam, the meaning of this Latin is, Or that some rock below her bottom rent;
That woman is to man his sovereign bliss. But down at once with all her crew she went: For when by night I feel your tender side, Her fellow ships from far her loss descry'd : Though for the narrow perch I cannot ride, But only she was sunk, and all were safe beside. Yet I have such a solace in my mind,
“By this example you are taught again, That all my boding cares are cast behind; That dreams and visions are not always vain: And ev'n already I forget my dream :" But if, dear Partlet, you are still in doubt,
He said, and downward flew from off the beam. Another tale shall make the former out.
For day-light now began apace to spring, Kenelm the son of Kenulph, Mercia's king, The thrush to whistle, and the lark to sing. Whose holy life the legends loudly sing,
Then crowing clapp'd his wings, th’appointed call, Warn’d in a dream, his murder did foretel
To chuck his wives together in the hall. From point to point as after it befel;
By this the widow had unbarr'd the door, All circumstances to his nurse he told
And Chanticleer went strutting out before, (A wonder from a child of seven years old): With royal courage, and with heart so light, The dream with horrour heard, the good old wife As show'd he scorn'd the visions of the night. From treason counsel'd him to guard his life; Now roaming in the yard he spurn’d the ground, But close to keep the secret in his mind,
And gave to Partlet the first grain he found. For a boy's vision small belief would find.
Then often feather'd her with wanton play, The pious child, by promise bound, obey'd, And trod her twenty times ere prime of day: Nor was the fatal murder long delay'd:
And took by turns and gave so much delight, By Quenda slain, he fell before his time,
Her sisters pin'd with envy at the sight. Made a young martyr by his sister's crime. He chuck'd again, when other corns he found, The tale is told by venerable Bede,
And scarcely deign’d to set a foot to ground. Which at your better leisure you may read. But swagger'd like a lord about his hall,
“ Macrobius too relates the vision sent And his seven wives came running at his call. To the great Scipio, with the fam'd event:
'Twas now the month in which the world began Objections makes, but after makes replies, (If March beheld the first created man): And adds, that dreams are often prophesies. And since the vernal equinox, the Sun,
“Of Daniel you may read in holy writ, In Aries, twelve degrees, or more, had run; Who, when the king his vision did forget,
When casting up his eyes against the light, Could word for word - the wondrous dream re- Both month, and day, and hour, he measur'd right; peat.
And told more truly than th’Ephemeris : Not less of patriarch Joseph understand,
For Art may err, but Nature cannot miss. Who by a dream enslav'd th’Egyptian land, Thus numbering times and seasons in his breast, The years of plenty and of dearth foretold, His second crowing the third hour confess'd. When, for their bread, their liberty they sold. Then turning, said to Partlet, “See, my dear, Nor must th' exalted butler be forgot,
How lavish Nature has adorn’d the year; Nor he whose dream presag'd his hanging lot. How the pale primrose and blue violet spring,
“And did not Cresus the same death foreseen And birds essay their throats, disus'd to sing: Rais'd in his vision on a lofty tree?
All these are ours; and I with pleasure see
Man strutting on two legs, and aping me:
And ev'n this day in more delight abound, “ Much more I know, which I forbear to speak Than, since I was an egg, I ever found.” For see the ryddy day begins to break;
The time shall come when Chanticleer shall wish Let this suffice, that plainly I foresee
His words unsaid, and hate his boasted bliss : My dream was bad, and bodes adversity: The crested bird shall by experience know, But neither pills nor laxatives I like,
Jove made not him his master-piece below; They only serve to make the well-man sick: And learn the latter end of joy is woe. Of these his gain the sharp physician makes, The vessel of his bliss to dregs is run, And often gives a purge, but seldom takes : And Heaven will have him taste his other tun. They not correct, but poison all the blood,
Ye wise, draw near, and hearken to my tale, And ne'er did any but the doctors good:
Which proves that oft the proud by flattery fall: Their tribe, trade, trinkets, I defy them all, The legend is as true, I undertake, With every work of 'pothecary's hall.
As Tristran is, and Launcelot of the lake :
Which all our ladies in such reverence hold,
A fox, full-fraught with seeming sanctity,
And durst not sin before he said his prayer;
This pious cheat, that never suck'd the blood, I wave, for fear of splitting on a rock,
Had he believ'd his dream, and not his wife :
Pervert, with bad advice, our better mind. And in his high imagination cast,
A woman's counsel brought us first to woe, By stratageun to gratify his taste.
And made her man his Paradise forego,
For what the devil had their sex to do,
But I myself presume, and let it pass.
Silence in times of suffering is the best,
But all they say of dames is idle stuff.
Legends of lying wits together bound, O vile subverter of the Gallic reign,
The Wife of Bath would throw them to the ground; More false than Gano was to Charlemaign!
These are the words of Chanticleer, not mine, O Chanticleer, in an unhappy hour
I honour dames, and think their sex divine. Didst thou forsake the safety of thy bower:
Now to continue wbat my tale begun; Better for thee thou badst believ'd thy dream, Lay madam Partlet basking in the Sun, And not that day descended from the beam! Breast high in sand: her sisters, in a row, But here the doctors eagerly dispute:
Enjoy'd the beams above, the warmth below, Some hold predestination absolute: (sees, The cock, that of his flesh was ever free, Some clerks maintain, that Heaven at first fore- Sung merrier than the mermaid in the sea : And in the virtue of foresight decrees.
And so befell, that as he cast his eye, If tbis be so, then prescience binds the will, Among the coleworts, on a butterfly, And mortals are not free to good or ill;
He saw false Reynard where he lay full low : For what he first foresaw, he must ordain,
I need not swear he had no list to crow: Or its eternal prescience may be vain :
Butcry'd, “ Cock, cock!” and gave a sudden start, As bad for us as prescience had not been,
As sore dismay'd and frighted at his heart; For first, or last, he's author of the sin.
For birds and beasts, inform'd by Nature, know And who says that, let the blaspheming man Kinds opposite to theirs, and fly their foe. Say worse ev'n of the Devil, if he cau.
So Chanticleer, who never saw a fox, For how can that eternal Power be just
Yet shunnd him as a sailor shuns the rocks. To punish man, who sins because he must?
But the false loon, who could not work his will Or, how can be reward a virtuous deed,
By open force, employ'd his flattering skill; Which is not done by us; but first decreed?
I hope, my lord,” said he, “ I not offend; I cannot bolt this matter to the bran,
Are you afraid of me, that am your friend? As Bradwardin and holy Austin can;
I were a beast indeed to do you wrong,
1, who have lov'd and honour'd you so long :
I come no spy, nor as a traitor press,
To learn the secrets of your soft recess : Another sort there is conditional,
Far be from Reynard so profane a thought, The first so binds the will, that things foreknown But by the sweetness of your voice was brought: By spontaneity, not choice, are done.
For, as I bid my beads, by chance I heard Thus galley-slaves tug willing at their oar, The song as of an angel in the yard; Content to work, in prospect of the shore;
song that would have charm'd th’infernal gods, But would not work at all if not constrain'd before. And banish'd horrour from the dark abodes; That other does not liberty constrain,
Had Orpheus sung it in the nether sphere, But man may either act, or may refrain.
So much the hymn had plcas'd the tyrant's ear, Heaven made us agents free to good or ill,
The wife had been detain'd, to keep the husband And forc'd it not, though he foresaw the will.
there. Freedom was first bestow'd on human race,
My lord, your sire familiarly I knew, And prescience only held the second place. A peer deserving such a son as you:
If he could make such agents wholly free, He, with your lady-mother, (whom Heaven rest) I not dispute, the point's too high for me;
Has often grac'd my house, and been my guest: For Heaven's unfathom'd power what man can To view his living features, does me good; sound,
For I am your poor neighbour in the wood; Or put to his Omnipotence a bound?
And in my cottage should be proud to see He made us to his image, all agree;
The worthy heir of my friend's family. That image is the soul, and that must be,
“ But since I speak of singing, let me say, Or not the Maker's image, or be free.
As with an upright heart I safely may, But whether it were better man had beeu
That, save yourself, there breathes not on the By nature bound to good, not free to sin,
One like your father for a silver sound, [ground