The General Prologue from the Hengwrt Manuscript of the Canterbury Tales

written by

« Reload image

{{Folio 2r}}

Here bygynneth the Book{/} of the tales of Can|ter|bury

Whan that Aueryll |with| his Shoures sooteThe droghte of March / hath |per|ced to the rooteAnd bathed euery veyne in swich lycourOf which |ver|tu engendred is the flourWhan zephirus eek / |with| his sweete breethIn{s}pired hath in euery holt/ and heethThe tendre croppes / and the yonge sonneHath in the Ram / his half cours yronneAnd sm[a]le foweles / maken melodyeThat sl[epen] al the nyght/ with open IyeSo priketh hem nature / in hir coragesThan[ne longen] folk/ to goon on pilgrymagesAnd Palmere[s] for to seeken straunge strondesTo ferne halwes / kouthe in sondry londesAnd specially / from euery shyres endeOf Engelond / to Caunterbury they wendeThe holy bli{s}ful martir / for to sekeThat hem hath holpen whan |þt| they weere seekeBifel |þt| in that se{s}o|un| on a dayIn Southwerk/ at the Tabard / as .I. layRedy to weenden / on my pilgrymageTo [Ca]unterbury / with ful deuout corageAt nyght/ was come / in to that ho{s}telryeWel .xxix. in a compaignyeOf sondry folk / by auenture yfalleIn felawe{s}hipe / and pilgrymes weere they alleThat toward Caunterbury wolden rydeThe chambres and the stables / weeren wydeAnd wel we weeren e{s}ed / at the be{s}teAnd shortly whan the sonne was to re{s}teSo hadde I spoken with hem euerichoonThat I was of hir felawe{s}hipe anon

{{Folio 2v}}

And maade / erly for to ry{s}eTo take oure wey / ther as .I. yow deuy{s}e¶But nathelees / while .I. haue tyme and spaceEr that I ferther / in this tale paceMe thynketh it/ acordant to re{s}o|un|To telle yow / al the condicio|un|Of eech of hem / so as it seemed meAnd whiche they weere / and of what degreeAnd eek/ in what array / |þt| they weere InneAnd at a knyght/ thanne wol I fir{s}t bigynne


¶A knyght ther was / and that a worthy manThat fro the tyme / |þt| he fir{s}t biganTo ryden out/ he loued chiualryeTrouthe and hon|our| / fredom and curtei{s}yefful worthy was he / in his lordes werreAnd ther to hadde he ryden / no man ferreAs wel in cri{s}tendom / as hethene{ss}eAnd euere honured / for his worthyne{ss}e¶At Ali{s}aundre he was / whan it was wonnefful ofte tyme / he hadde the bord bigonneAbouen alle nacions / in PruceIn lectow / hadde he rey{s}ed / and in RuceNo cri{s}ten man so ofte / of his degreeIn Gernade at the seege eek hadde he beAt Algizir / and ryden in BelmaryeAt lyeys was he / and at SatalyeWhan they weere wonne / and in the grete SeeAt many a noble armee / hadde he bee¶At mortal batailles / hadde he been fifteneAnd foghten for oure feyth / at Tramy{ss}eneIn ly{s}tes thryes / and ay slayn his foo¶This ilke worthy knyght/ hadde been al{s}oSom tyme / with the lord of PalatyeAgayn another hethen in TurkyeAnd e|uer|e moore / he hadde a souereyn prysAnd thogh |þt| he weere worthy / he was wysAnd of his poort/. as meke / as is a maydeNe neuere yet/ no vileynye he saydeIn al his lyf/ vn to no manere wightHe was a verray |per|fit/ gentil knyght/

{{Folio 3r}}

But for to tellen yow / of his arrayHi{s}e hors weere goode / but he ne was nat gayOf ffu{s}tian / he wered a gypo|un|Al bi{s}motered / with his haubergeo|un|ffor he was laate / comen from his viageAnd wente / for to doon his pilgrymage

¶With hym / ther was his sone a yong/ SquyerA louere / and a lu{s}ty BachilerWith lokkes crulle / as they weere leyd in |pre|{ss}eOf .xx. yeer / he was of age I ge{ss}eOf his stature / he was of euene lengtheAnd wonderly delyuere / and of greet strengtheAnd he hadde been som tyme / in chiu[ac]hyeIn fflaundres / in Artoys / and PicardyeAnd born hym wel / as in so litel spaceIn hope / to stonden / in his lady grace¶Embrouded was he / as it weere a meedeAl ful of fre{ss}he floures / white and reedeSyngynge he was / or floytynge al the dayHe was as fre{ss}h / as is the Monthe of MayShort was his gowne / with sleues / longe |&| wydeWel koude he sitte on hors / and faire rydeHe koude songes wel make / and enditeIu{s}te and eek daunce / and wel portreye and writeSo hoote he loued / that by nyghtertaleHe slepte namoore / than dooth a nyghtyngaleCurteys he was / lowely / and seruy{s}ableAnd carf biforn his fader / at the table

¶A yeman he hadde / and seruantz namoAt that tyme / for hym li{s}te ryde soAnd he was clad / in coote and hood of greeneA sheef of Pecok arwes / bright/ and keeneVnder his belt/ he bar ful thriftilyWel koude he dre{ss}e his takel yemanlyHis arwes drowped noght/ with fetheres loweAnd in his hand / he bar a myghty boweA not heed hadde he / with a broun vi{s}ageOf wodecraft / koude he wel al the v{s}ageVp on his arm / he bar a gay bracerAnd by his syde / a swerd and a Bokeler

{{Folio 3v}}

And on that oother syde / a gay daggereHarney{s}ed wel / and sharp / as poynt/ of spereA |christ|ofre on his bre{s}t/ of siluer sheeneAn horn he bar / the bawdryk/ was of greeneA ffor{s}ter was he / soothly as I ge{ss}e


¶Ther was al{s}o / a Nonne a Priore{ss}eThat of hir smylyng/ was ful symple and coyHir grette{s}te ooth / was but by Seint LoyAnd she was clepyd / madame Eglentynefful wel she soong/ the seruyce dyuyneEntuned in hir no{s}e / ful semelyAnd fren{ss}h she spak / ful faire and feti{s}lyAfter the scole / of Stratford at the Boweffor fren{ss}h of Parys / was to hire vnknoweAt mete / wel ytaught/ was she with alleShe leet/ no mor{s}el / from hir lyppes falleNe wette hir fyngres / in hir sauce deepeWel koude she carye a mor{s}el / and wel keepeThat no drope / fille vp on hir bri{s}t/In curtei{s}ye / was set muchel hir li{s}t/Hir ouer lyppe / wyped she so cleeneThat in hir coppe / ther was no ferthyng/ seeneOf grece / whan she dronken hadde hir draghtefful semely / after hir mete she raghteAnd sikerly / she was of greet/ de{s}port/And ful ple{s}aunt/ and amyable of port/And peyned hire / to countrefete chiereOf Court/ and been e{s}tatlich of manereAnd to been holden / digne of re|uer|enceBut for to speken / of hir con{s}cienceShe was so charitable / and so pitousShe wolde{^}{{wepe}} / if |þt| she sawe a MousCaught in a trappe / if it weere deed / or bleddeOf smale houndes / hadde she / |þt| she feddeWith ro{s}ted fle{ss}h / or mylk/ and wa{s}tel breedBut soore wepte she / if oon of hem weere deedOr if men smoot/ it / with a yerde smerteAnd al was con{s}cience / and tendre hertefful semely / hir wympel pynched wasHir no{s}e tretez / hir eyen / greye as glas

{{Folio 4r}}

Hir mouth ful smal / and ther to / softe and reedBut sikerly / she hadde a fair forheedIt was almoo{s}t/ a spanne brood I troweffor hardily / she was nat vndergrowefful fetys was hir cloke / as I was warOf smal Coral / aboute hir arm she barA peyre of bedes / gauded al with greeneAnd ther on heeng/ a brooch of gold ful sheeneOn which / was fir{s}t writen / a crowned .A.And after / Amor vincit/ omnia.¶Another Nonne / with hire hadde she

Nonne Chapeleyne

That was hire Chapeleyne / and pree{s}tes thre

and thre pre{s}tes


¶A Monk ther was / a fair for the may{s}tryeAn outrydere / that/ louede veneryeA manly man / to been an Abbot ablefful many a deyntee hors / hadde he in stableAnd whanne he rood / men myghte his brydel heereGyngle in a whi{s}tlynge wynd / as cleereAnd eek/ as loude / as dooth the Chapel belleThere as this lord / is kepere of the SelleThe rule of Seint Maure / or of Seint Beneyt/By cau{s}e |þt| it was oold / and som deel streyt/This ilke Monk/ leet oolde thynges paceAnd heeld / after the newe world the spaceHe yaf noght of that text/ a pulled henThat seith / |þt| hunterys been none holy menNe |þt| a Monk/. whan he is reccheleesIs likned / til a fi{ss}h / |þt| is waterleesThis is to seyn / a Monk/ out of his Cloy{s}treBut thilke text/ heeld he nat worth an Oy{s}treAnd I seyde / his opynyon was goodWhat sholde he studie / and make hym seluen woodVp on a book/ in Cloy{s}tre alwey to poureOr swynke with his handes / and laboureAs Au{s}tyn bit/. how shal the world be seruedLat Au{s}tyn haue his swynk/. to hym re{s}eruedTher fore / he was a pryka{s}our aryght/Grehoundes he hadde / as swift/ as fowel in flyght/Of prikyng/ and of huntyng/ for the haareWas al his lu{s}t/. for no co{s}t wolde he spaare

{{Folio 4v}}

I saugh his sleues / |pur|filed at the hondWith grys / and that the fyne{s}te of a londAnd for to fe{s}tne his hood / vnder his chynHe hadde / of gold / wroght a ful curious pynA loue knotte / in the gretter ende ther wasHis heed was balled / that shoon as any glasAnd eek his face / as he hadde been enoynt/He was a lord ful fat/ and in good poynt/Hi{s}e eyen steepe / and rollynge in his heedThat stemed / as a fourneys of a leedHi{s}e bootes souple / his hors / in greet e{s}taat/Now certeynly / he was a fair |pre|lat/He was nat paale / as is a forpyned goo{s}t/A fat swan / loued he / be{s}t of any roo{s}t/His palfrey / was as broun as any berye


¶A frere ther was / a wantowne and a meryeA lymytour / a ful solempne manIn alle the ordres foure / is noon |þt| kanSo muche of daliaunce / and fair langageHe hadde maked / ful many a mariageOf yonge wommen / at his owene co{s}t/Vn to his ordre / he was a noble po{s}t/fful wel biloued / and famylier was heeWith ffrankeleyns / ouer al in his contreeAnd eek/ with worthy wommen / of the townffor he hadde / power of confe{ss}iounAs seyde hym self / moore than a curaat/ffor of his ordre / he was licenciaat/fful swetely / herde he confe{ss}io|un|And ple{s}ant/. was his ab{s}olucio|un|He was an e{s}y man / to yeue penaunceTher as he wi{s}te / to haue a good pitaunceffor vn to a poure ordre / for to yeueIs signe / that a man / is wel y{s}hryueffor if he yaf/ he dor{s}te make auaunt/He wi{s}te / |þt| a man was repentaunt/ffor many a man / so hard is of his herteHe may nat weepe / thogh |þt| he soore smerteTher fore / in {s}tede of wepynge / and preyeresMen moote yeue siluer / to the poure freres

{{Folio 5r}}

¶His typet/ was ay far{s}ed ful of knyuesAnd pynnes / for to yeuen faire wyuesAnd certeynly / he hadde a murye nooteWel koude he synge / and pleyen on a rooteOf yeddynges / he bar outrely the prysHis nekke whit was / as the flour delysTher to he stroong/ was / as a ChampiounHe knew the tauernes wel in euery townAnd euery ho{s}tiler / and Tappe{s}tereBet / than a lazer / or a begge{s}tereffor vn to swich a worthy man / as heAcorded nat / as by his faculteeTo haue / with syke lazers aqueyntaunceIt is nat hone{s}te / it may noght auaunceffor to deelen / with no swich porailleBut al with riche / and sellerys of vitailleAnd ouer al / ther as |pro|fit sholde ary{s}eCurteys he was / and lowely of seruy{s}eTher was no man / nowheer / {s}o |ver|tuousHe was the be{s}te beggere / of his housAnd yaf a |cer|teyn ferme / for the graunt/Noon of his bretheren / cam ther in his haunt/ffor thogh a wydwe / hadde noght/ a shoSo ple{s}ant/ was his In principioYet wolde he haue a ferthyng/ er he wenteHis purchaas / was wel bettre than his renteAnd rage he koude / as it weere right a whelpIn louedayes / koude he muchel helpffor there / he was nat lyk/ a Cloy{s}trerWith a threedbare cope / as is a poure scolerBut he was lyk a mai{s}ter / or a PopeOf double wor{s}tede / was his semycopeAnd rounded as a belle / out of the pre{ss}eSomwhat he lyp{s}ed / for his wantowne{ss}eTo make his engly{ss}h / sweete vp on his tongeAnd in his harpyng/ whan |þt| he hadde songehi{s}e eyen twynkled / in his heed aryght/As doon the {s}terres / in the fro{s}ty nyght/This worthy lymytour / was cleped huberd


¶A Marchant was ther / with a forked berd

{{Folio 5v}}

In Motlee / and hye on hors he sat/Vp on his heed / a fflaundry{ss}h Be|uer|e hat/his bootes cla{s}ped / faire and feti{s}lyHi{s}e re{s}ons / he spak ful solempnelySownyng/ alwey / thencrees of his wynnyng/He woolde / the see weere kept/ for any thyng/Bitwixen Myddelburgh / and OrewelleWel koude he / in e{s}chaunge / sheeldes selleThis worthy man / ful wel his wit bi{s}etteTher wi{s}te no wight/. that he was in detteSo e{s}taatly was he / of his go|uer|naunceWith his bargaynes / and |with| his cheuy{s}aunceffor soothe / he was a worthy man with alleBut sooth to seyn / I noot how men hym calle

¶Clerc/ of Oxenford

¶A Clerc/ ther was / of Oxenford al{s}oThat vn to logyk/. hadde longe ygoAs leene was his hors / as is a rakeAnd he was noght right fat/ I vndertakeBut looked holwe / and ther to sobrelyfful threedbaare / was his o|uer|e{s}te Courtepyffor he hadde / geten hym yet/ no beneficeNe was {s}o worldly / for to haue officeffor hym was leuere / haue at his beddes heedTwenty bookes / clad / in blak / or reedOf Ari{s}totle / and his Philo{s}ophyeThan robes riche / or ffithele / or gay SautryeBut al be / that he was a Philo{s}ophreYet hadde he / but litel gold in CofreBut al that he myghte / of his frendes henteOn bookes / and on lernynge / he it spenteAnd bi{s}ily / gan for the soules preyeOf hem / that yaf hym / wher with to scoleyeOf studye / took he moo{s}t cure and moo{s}t heedeNoght oo word spak/ he / moore than was needeAnd that was spoke / in forme / and reuerenceAnd short/ and quyk/ and ful of heigh sentenceSownynge in moral |ver|tu / was his specheAnd gladly wolde he lerne / and gladly teche

¶Sergeaunt of Lawe

¶A Sergeaunt of lawe / waar / and wysThat often / hadde been at the Parvys

{{Folio 6r}}

Ther was al{s}o /ful ryche of excellenceDi{s}creet he was / and of greet re|uer|enceHe {s}eemed swich / hi{s}e wordes weeren {s}o wy{s}eIu{s}tice he was / ful often in A{ss}i{s}eBy patente / and by pleyn c|om|mi{ss}io|un|ffor his science / and for his heigh reno|un|Of fees and robes / hadde he many oonSo greet a purcha{s}our / was nowher noonAl was fee symple / to hym / in effect/His purcha{s}yng/ myghte nat been infect/Nowher {s}o bi{s}y a man as he / ther nasAnd yet he {s}eemed / bi{s}yer than he wasIn |ter|mes / hadde he caas / and doomes alleThat from tyme of kyng william / weere falleTher to / he koude endite / and make a thyng/Ther koude no wight/ pynchen at his writyng/And euery statut/. koude he pleyn by rooteHe rood but hoomly / in a medlee cooteGirt with a ceynt of sylk/. with barres smaleOf his array / telle I no lenger tale


A ffrankeleyn / was in his compaignyeWhit was his berd / as is the daye{s}yeOf his complexcion / he was sangwynWel loued he by the morwe / a sop in wynTo lyuen in delyt/ was euere his woneffor he was / Epicurus owene soneThat heeld opynyo|un| / |þt| pleyn delitWas verray / felicitee parfit/An hou{s}holdere / and that a greet was heeSeint Iulyan he was / in his contreeHis breed / his ale / was alweys after oonA bettre envyned man / was neuere noonWith outen bake mete / was neuere his housOf fre{ss}h fi{ss}h / and fle{ss}h / and that so plentevousIt snewed in his hous / of mete and drynkeOf alle deyntees / |þt| men koude bithynkeAfter / the sondry se{s}ons / of the yeerSo chaunged he / his mete / and his soperfful many a fat partrych / hadde he in MuweAnd many a breem / and many a luce in Stuwe

{{Folio 6v}}

Wo was his Cook/ / but if his sauce weerePoynaunt/ and sharp / and redy al his geereHys table dormaunt/ in his halle alwayStood redy couered / al the longe dayAt Se{ss}ions / ther was he / lord and Sirefful ofte tyme / he was knyght of the ShireAn Anlaas / and a Gip{s}er / al of Sylk/Heeng/ at his girdel / whit as morne mylk/A shirreue hadde he been / and CountourWas nowheer / swich a worthy vaua{s}our


¶An haberda{ss}here / and a Carpenter

A Webbe / a Dyere / and a Tapycer

And they weere clothed alle / in oo ly|uer|ee

Of a solempne / and a greet fra|ter|nytee

fful fre{ss}h and newe / hir geere apyked wasHir knyues weere chaped / noght with brasBut al with siluer / wroght ful cleene and welHir girdles / and hir pouches / euerydelWel {s}eemed eech of hem / a fair BurgeysTo sitten in a yeldehalle / on a deysEuerych / for the wi{s}dom / |þt| he kanWas shaply / for to been an Aldermanffor catel / hadde they ynogh / and renteAnd eek hir wyues / wolde it wel a{ss}enteAnd ellis certeyn / they weere to blameIt is ful fair / to been yclepyd madameAnd goon to vigilies / al biforeAnd haue a Mantel / realliche ybore


¶A Cook they hadde with hem / for the nonesTo boille the chiknes / with the MarybonesAnd poudre marchaunt/. tart/ and / GalyngaleWel koude he knowe / a draghte of london aleHe koude roo{s}te / and seethe / and broille / |&| fryeMaken Mortreux / and wel bake a pyeBut greet harm was it / as it thoughte meThat on his Shyne / a Mormal hadde heffor Blankmanger / that maade he with the be{s}te

¶A Shipman was ther / wonyng fer by we{s}teffor aught I woot/ he was of DertemoutheHe rood vp on a Rouncy / as he kouthe

{{Folio 7r}}

In a gowne of faldyng/ to the kneeA daggere hangynge on a laas / hadde heAboute his nekke / vnder his arm adownThe hoote Somer / hadde maad his hewe al brownAnd certeynly / he was a good felawefful many a draghte of wyn / hadde he draweffro Burdeuxward/ whil |þt| the Chapman sleepOf nyce con{s}cience / took he no keepIf |þt| he faught/ and hadde the hyer hondBy watre he sente hem hoom / to euery londBut of his craft/ to rekene wel his tydesHis stremys / and his daungers hym bi{s}ydesHis {^}{{herberwe}} and his moone / his lodmenageTher was noon swich / from hull to CartageHardy he was / and wys to vndertakeWith many a tempe{s}t/ hadde his beerd been shakeHe knew alle the hauenes / as they weereffro Gootlond / to the cape of ffyny{s}teereAnd euery cryke / in Britaigne / and in SpaigneHis barge / yclepyd was the Mawdelayne

Doct|our| of

¶With vs / ther was / a Doctour of Phi{s}yk/


In al this world / ne was ther noon hym lyk/To speken of Phi{s}yk/ and of Surgeryeffor he was grounded / in A{s}tronomyeHe kepte his pacient/ a ful greet deelIn houres / by his magyk natureelWel koude he fortunen / the a{s}cendent/Of hi{s}e ymages / for his pacient/He knew the cau{s}e / of euery maladyeWeere it/ of hoot/ or coold / or moy{s}te / or dryeAnd where it engendred / and of what humourHe was a verray / |per|fit practi{s}ourThe cau{s}e yknowe / and of his harm the rooteAnoon he yaf / the sike man his boote¶fful redy hadde he / hi{s}e ApothecaryesTo senden hym / his drogges / and his letuaryesffor eech of hem / maade oother for to wynneHir frend{s}hipe / was noght newe to bigynneWel knew he / the oolde E{s}culapyusAnd Di{s}corides / and eek/ Ru{s}us

{{Folio 7v}}

Olde ypocras / Haly / and GalyenSerapion / Razis / and AvycenAuerroys / Dama{s}cien / and Con{s}tantynBernard / and Gate{s}den / and GilbertynOf his diete / me[a]{s}urable was heeffor it was / of no su|per|fluyteeBut of greet nori{ss}ynge / and dige{s}tibleHis studye / was but litel on the BibleIn sangwyn and in Pers / he clad was alLyned with Taffata / and with SendalAnd yet he was / but e{s}y of di{s}penceHe kepte / |þt| he wan in pe{s}tilenceffor gold in Phi{s}yk/. is a CordialTherfore / he loued gold in special

The goode Wyf

¶A good wyf was ther / of bi{s}yde Bathe

of bi{s}yde Bathe

But she was somdel deef/ and that was scatheOf clooth makynge / she hadde swich an haunt/She pa{ss}ed hem / of Ipres / and of Gaunt/In al the pary{ss}he / wyf ne was ther noonThat to the offrynge / bifore hire sholde goonAnd if ther dide / certeyn / {s}o wrooth was sheeThat she was / out of alle chariteeHir Co|uer|chiefes / ful fyne weere of growndI dor{s}te swere / they weyeden. ten powndThat on a Sonday / weeren vp on hir heedHir ho{s}en weeren / of fyn scarlet reedfful streyte yteyd / and shoes / ful moy{s}te |&| neweBoold was hir face / and fair and reed of heweShe was a worthy woman / al hir lyueHou{s}bondes at chirche dore / she hadde fyueWith outen oother compaignye / in yowtheBut ther of / nedeth noght/ to speke as nowtheAnd thries / hadde she been at Ieru{s}alemShe hadde pa{ss}ed / many a straunge stremAt Rome she hadde been / and at BoloyneIn Galyce at Seint Iame / and at ColoyneShe koude muchel / of wandrynge by the weyeGattothed was she / soothly for to seyeVp on an Amblere / e{s}ily she sat/Ywympled wel / and on hir heed an hat/

{{Folio 8r}}

As brood as is / a Bokeler / or a TargeA foot mantel / aboute hir hypes largeAnd on hir feet/ a peyre of spores sharpeIn felawe{s}hipe / wel koude she laughe.[ ] and carpeOf remedies of loue / she knew |per| chaunceffor she koude of that art/ the olde daunce

[Per{s}o]|un| of a town

¶A good man / was ther / of ReligiounAnd was a poure |per|{s}on / of a tounBut riche he was / of holy thoght and werk/He was al{s}o / a lerned man a Clerk/That Cri{s}tes go{s}pel / trewely wolde |pre|cheHis pari{ss}hens / deuoutly wolde he techeBenygne he was / and wonder diligentAnd in aduer{s}itee / ful pacient/And swich he was proeued / ofte sythesfful looth weere hym / to cur{s}en for his tythesBut rather wolde he yeuen / out of douteVn to his poure pari{ss}hens abouteOf his offrynge / and eek/ of his sub{s}taunceHe koude / in litel thyng/ haue suffi{s}aunceWyd was his pari{ss}he / and hou{s}es fer a {s}onderBut he ne lafte noght/ for reyn ne thonderIn sikne{ss}e / nor in me{s}chief/ to vi{s}iteThe ferre{s}te in his pari{ss}he / muche and lyteVp on his feet/ and in his hond a staf/This noble en{s}ample / to his sheep he yaf/That fir{s}t he wroghte / and afterward he taughteOut of the go{s}pel / he tho wordes caughteAnd this figure / he added eek ther toThat if gold ru{s}te / what sholde Iren doffor if a pree{s}t be foul / in whom we tru{s}teNo wonder is / a lewed man to ru{s}teAnd shame it is / if a pree{s}t take keepA shiten Shepherde / and a clene sheepWel oghte a pree{s}t/ en{s}ample for to yiueBy his clenne{ss}e / how |þt| his sheep sholde lyueHe sette noght/. his benefice to hyreAnd leet his sheep / encombred in the MyreAnd ran to Londo|un| / vn to Seint PoulesTo seeken hym / a Chauntrye for soules

{{Folio 8v}}

Or with a breetherede / to been withhooldeBut dwelte at hoom / and kepte wel his fooldeSo |þt| the wolf/ ne maade it noght/ my{s}caryeHe was a sheepherde / and noght a MercenaryeAnd thogh he hooly weere / and vertuousHe was noght/ to synful men de{s}pitousNe of his speche / daungerous / ne digneBut in his techyng/ di{s}creet/ and benygneTo drawen folk/ to heuene / |with| fairne{ss}eBy good en{s}ample / this was his bi{s}yne{ss}eBut it weere / any |per|{s}one ob{s}tynaat/What so he weere / of heigh / or lowe e{s}taat/Hym wolde he snybben / sharply for the nonysA bettre pree{s}t/ I trowe ther nowher noon ysHe wayted / after no pomp / and reuerenceNe maked hym / a spyced con{s}cienceBut Cri{s}tes loore / and hi{s}e Apo{s}tles twelueHe taughte / but fir{s}t/ he folwed it hym selue

¶With hym ther was a Plowman / was his brootherThat hadde ylad of donge / ful many a ffootherA trewe swynkere / and a good was heLyuynge in pees / and |per|fit chariteeGod loued he be{s}t/ with al his hoole herteAt alle tymes / thogh hym gamed / or smerteAnd thanne his Neighebore / right as hym selueHe wolde thre{ss}he / and ther to / dyke and delueffor Cri{s}tes sake / for euery poure wight/With outen hyre / if it laye in his myght/His tythes payde he / ful faire and welBothe of his |prop|re swynk/ and his catelIn a Tabard he rood / vp on a MereTher was al{s}o / a Reue / and a MillereA Somonour / and a Pardoner al{s}oA Maunciple / and my self/ ther weere namo

¶The Millere / was a stout carl / for the nonesfful byg/ he was / of brawen / and eek of bonesThat proeued wel / for ouer al ther he camAt wra{s}tlynge / he wolde haue alwey the RamHe was short shuldred / brood / a thikke knarreTher was no dore / that he noolde heue of harre

{{Folio 9r}}

Or breke it at a rennynge / with his heedHis beerd / as any sowe / or fox / was reedAnd ther to brood / as thogh it weere a spaadeVp on the cop right of his no{s}e he haadeA werte / and ther on stood / a tuft/ of heerysReede / as the bri{s}tles / of a Sowes eerysHi{s}e no{s}ethirles / blake weere and wydeA swerd and a bokeler / baar he by his sydeHis mouth as greet was / as a greet fourneysHe was a Ianglere / a GolyardeysAnd that was moo{s}t/ of synne and harlotryesWel koude he stelen corn / and tollen thryesAnd yet he hadde / a thombe of gold |per|deeA whit coote / and a blew hood wered heeA Baggepipe / wel koude he / blowe and sowneAnd ther with al / he broghte vs out of towne


¶A gentil Maunciple / was ther / of a TempleOf which / Achatours myghte take exempleffor to been wy{s}e / in byynge of vitailleffor wheither |þt| he payde / or took by tailleAlgate / he wayted so / in his achaat/That he was ay biforn / and in good staat/¶Now is nat that of god / a ful greet graceThat swich a lewed mannes wit/ shal paceThe wy{s}dom / of a heep of lerned menOf Mai{s}tres hadde he mo / than thryes tenThat weeren / of lawe / expert/ and curiousOf whiche / ther weere a dozeyne / in that housWorthy / to been Stywardes / of rente / and londOf any lord / that is in EngelondTo make hym lyue / by his |prop|re goodIn honour dettelees / but if he weere woodOr lyue as scar{s}ly / as hym ly{s}t de{s}ireAnd able / for to helpen / al a ShireIn any caas / that myghte falle / or happeAnd yet this Maunciple / sette hir aller cappe

¶The Reue / was a sclendre coleryk/ manHis beerd was shaue / as neigh as euer he kanHis heer was by his eerys / ful rownd y{s}hornHis top was dokked / lyk/ a pree{s}t byforn

{{Folio 9v}}

fful longe weere hi{s}e legges / and ful leeneYlik a staf / . ther / was no calf y{s}eeneWel koude he keepe / a Gerner and a BynneTher was noon Auditour / koude on hym wynneWel wi{s}te he / by the droghte and by the reynThe yeldynge / of his seed / and of his greynHis lordes sheep / his neet / his dayeryeHis swyn / his hors / his Stoor / and his pultryeWas hoolly / in this Reues go|uer|nyngeAnd by his couenant/. yaf the rekenyngeSyn that his loord / was twenty yeer of ageTher koude no man / brynge hym in arrerageTher nas Baillyf/. hierde / nor oother hyneThat he ne knew / his sleyghte / and his couyneThey weere adrad of hym / as of the deethHis wonyng/ was ful faire vp on an heethWith greene trees / shadwed was his placeHe koude bettre / than his lord purchacefful riche / he was a{s}toored pryuelyHis lord / wel koude he ple{s}en subtillyTo yeue / and leene hym / of his owene goodAnd haue a thank/. and yet a coote and hoodIn youthe / he lerned hadde / a good Mi{s}terHe was a wel good wrighte / a CarpenterThis Reue sat/ vp on a wel good Stot/That was a Pomely gray / and highte Scot/A long Surcote of Pers / vp on he haadeAnd by his syde / he baar a ru{s}ty blaadeOf Northfolk was this Reue / of which I telleBi{s}yde a town / men clepyn Balde{s}welleTukked he was / as is a ffrere abouteAnd euere he rood / the hyndre{s}te of oure route

¶A Somonour/ was ther was with vs / in that placeThat hadde / a fyr reed Cherubynnes faceffor Sawceflewm he was / with eyen{`,}narweAnd hoot he was / and lecherous as a SparweWith scaled browes blake / and pyled berdOf his vi{s}age / children weere aferdTher nas quyk/ siluer / lytarge / ne Brym{s}toonBorace / Ceruce / ne Oille of Tartre noon

{{Folio 10r}}

Ne oynement/. that wolde clen{s}e and byteThat hym myghte helpen / of his whelkes whyteNor of the knobbes / sittynge on his chekesWel loued he garlek/ oynons and eek lekesAnd for to drynke strong wyn / reed as bloodThanne wolde he speke / and crye as he were woodA fewe |ter|mes hadde he / two / or threThat he hadde lerned / out of som decreeNo wonder is / he herde it al the dayAnd eek ye knowe wel / how |þt| a IayKan clepen watte / as wel as kan the PopeBut who {s}o koude / in oother thyng hym gropeThanne hadde he spent/ al his philo{s}ophieAy / Que{s}tio quid iuris / wolde he crye¶He was a gentil harlot/ and a kyndeA bettre felawe / sholde men noght fyndeHe wolde suffre / for a quart/ of wynA good felawe / to haue his concubynA twelf monthe / and excu{s}en hym at the fullefful pryuely / a fynch eek koude he pulleAnd if he foond owher / a good felaweHe wolde techen hym / to haue noon aweIn swich caas / of the Ercedeknes cursBut if a mannes soule / were in his pursffor in his purs / he sholde ypuny{ss}hed bePurs is the Ercedeknes helle / seyde he¶But wel I woot / he lyed right in dedeOf cur{s}yng/ oghte ech gilty man dredeffor curs wol sle / right as a{ss}oillyng/ sauythAnd al{s}o / war hym of a Significauit/¶In daunger hadde he / at his owene gy{s}eThe yonge gerles / of the dioci{s}eAnd knew hir con{s}eil / and was al hir reedA gerland / hadde he set/ vp on his heedAs greet/. as it were / for an Ale stakeA bokeler / hadde he maad hym of a cake

¶With hym ther rood / a gentil PardonerOf Rouncyual / his freend / and his comperThat streight was comen / fro the Court of Romefful loude he {s}oong/ com hyder loue to me

{{Folio 10v}}

This Somon|our| baar to hym / a styf burdounWas ne|uer|e trompe / of half {s}o greet a soun¶This |per|doner / hadde heer / as yelow as wexBut smothe it heeng/ as dooth a stryke of flexBy ounces / henge his lokkes |þt| he haddeAnd ther with / he his shuldres ouer{s}praddeBut thynne it lay / by colpons oon and oonBut hood for Iolitee / wered he noonffor it was tru{ss}ed vp / in his walet/Hym thoughte / he rood al of the newe Iet/Di{s}cheuellee saue his cappe / he rood al bareSwiche glarynge eyen / hadde he as an hareA vernycle / hadde he sowed / vp on his cappeHis walet/ biforn hym / in his lappeBretful of pardo|un| / comen from Rome al hoot/A voys he hadde / as smal / as hath a Goot/No berd hadde he / ne neuere sholde haueAs smothe it was / as it were late y{s}haueI trowe he were a geldyng/ or a MareBut of his craft/. fro Berwyk in to WareNe was ther / swich another Pardonerffor in his Male / he hadde a pilwe beerWhich |þt| he seyde / was oure lady veylHe seyde he hadde / a gobet of the seylThat Seint Peter hadde / whan |þt| he wenteVp on the See / til |Iesu| Cri{s}t hym henteHe hadde a cros of lato|un| / ful of stonesAnd in a glas / he hadde pigges bonesBut with thi{s}e relykes / whan |þt| he foondA poure |per|{s}on / dwellyng vp on londVp on a day / he gat hym moore moneyeThan |þt| the |per|{s}o|un| gat/ in Monthes tweyeAnd thus / with feyned flaterye and IapesHe made the |per|{s}on / and the peple his apesBut trewely / to tellen at the la{s}teHe was in chirche / a noble Eccle{s}ia{s}teWel koude he / rede a le{ss}on / and a StorieBut alderbe{s}t/ he {s}oong an Offertorieffor wel he wi{s}te / whan |þt| soong was songeHe mo{s}te |pre|che / and wel affyle his tonge

{{Folio 11r}}

To wynne siluer / as he ful wel koudeTher fore he soong/ the muryerly and loude¶Now haue I toold yow / soothly in a clau{s}eThe{s}taat / tharray / the nombre / and eek the cau{s}eWhy |þt| a{ss}embled was this compaignyeIn Southwerk/. at this gentil ho{s}telryeThat highte the tabard / fa{s}te by the belleBut now is tyme / to yow for to telleHow |þt| we baren vs / that ilke nyght/Whan we weere / in that ho{s}telrye alyght/And after wol I telle / of oure viageAnd al the remenant/ of oure pilgrymage¶But fir{s}t I pray yow / of youre curtei{s}yeThat ye narette it / noght my vileynyeThough |þt| I pleynly speke / in this matereTo telle yow / hir wordes / and hir cheereNe thogh I speke / hir wordes |prop|relyffor this ye knowen / al{s}o wel as IWho so shal telle a tale / after a manHe moot reherce / as neigh as e|uer|e he kanEuerich a word / if it be in his chargeAl speke he / neuer {s}o rudeliche and largeOr ellis / he moot telle his tale vntreweOr feyne thyng/ or fynde wordes neweHe may noght spare / al thogh he weere his brotherHe moot as wel / seye o word / as anotherCri{s}t spak hym self/ ful brode in holy writ /And wel ye woot/ no vileynye is itEk Plato seith / who so kan hym redeThe wordes / mote be co{s}yn / to the dede¶Al{s}o I pray yow / to foryeue it meAl haue I nat set folk / in hir degreeHere in this tale / as |þt| they sholde stondeMy wit is short/ ye may wel vnder{s}tonde¶Greet cheere / made oure hoo{s}t vs euerichonAnd to the souper / sette he vs anonHe serued vs / with vitaille / at the be{s}teStrong was the wyn / and wel to drynke vs le{s}teA semely man / oure hoo{s}t was with alleffor to been / a Marchal in an halle

{{Folio 11v}}

A large man he was / with eyen stepeA fairer burgeys / was ther noon in ChepeBoold of his speche / and wys / and wel ytaught/And of manhode / hym lakked right naught/Eke ther to / he was right a murye manAnd after souper / pleyen he biganAnd spak of murthe / amonges othere thyngesWhan |þt| we hadde maad oure rekenyngesAnd seyde thus / now lordes trewelyYe been to me / right wel come hertelyffor by my trouthe / if |þt| I shal nat lyeI seigh noght this yeer / so murye a compaignyeAtones in this herberwe / as is nowffayn wolde I doon yow myrthe / wi{s}te I howAnd of a myrthe / I am right now bithoght/To doon yow e{s}e / and it shal co{s}te noght/¶Ye goon to Caun|ter|bury / god yow spedeThe bli{s}ful Martir / quyte yow youre medeAnd wel I woot / as ye goon by the weyeYe shapen yow / to talen and to pleyeffor trewely / confort / ne murthe is noonTo ryde by the weye / domb as stoonAnd ther fore / wol I maken yow de{s}port/As I seyde er{s}t/ and doon yow {s}om confort/And if yow liketh alle / by oon a{ss}ent/ffor to stonden / at my Iuggement/And for to werken / as I shal yow seyeTomorwe / whan ye ryden by the weyeNow by my fader soule / |þt| is deedBut ye be murye / I wol yeue yow myn heedHoold vp youre hondes / with outen moore speche¶Oure con{s}eil / was nat longe for to secheVs thoughte / it was nat worth / to make it wysAnd graunted hym / with outen moore avysAnd bade hym seye / his voirdit/ as hym le{s}te¶Lordynges quod he / now herkneth for the be{s}teBut taketh it noght/ I pray yow in de{s}deynThis is the poynt/ to speken short and pleynThat ech of yow / to shorte with oure weyeIn this viage / shal tellen tales tweye

{{Folio 12r}}

To Caunterburyward / I mene it soAnd homward / he shal tellen othere twoOf auentures / |þt| whilom haue bifalleAnd which of yow / |þt| bereth hym be{s}t of alleThat is to seyn / that telleth in this casTales of be{s}t sentence / and moo{s}t solasShal haue a Souper / at oure aller co{s}t /Here in this place / sittynge by this po{s}t/Whan that we come agayn / fro Caun|ter|buryAnd for to make yow / the moore muryI wol my self/ goodly wit yow rydeRight at myn owene co{s}t/ and be you|re| gydeAnd who so wole / my Iuggement with {s}eyeShal paye / al that we spende by the weyeAnd if ye vouche sauf / |þt| it be soTel me anoon / with outen wordes moAnd I wol erly / shape me ther fore¶This thyng was graunted / and oure othes sworeWith ful glad herte / and preyden hym al{s}oThat he wolde vouche sauf / for to do soAnd that he wolde been / oure go|uer|nourAnd of oure tales / Iuge and reportourAnd sette a Souper / at a certeyn prysAnd we wol ruled been / at his deuysIn heigh and logh / and thus by oon a{ss}ent/We been acorded / to his Iuggement/And ther vp on / the wyn was fet anoonWe dronken / and to re{s}te wente echo|n_|With outen / any lenger taryynge¶A morwe / whan |þt| day bigan to spryngeVp roos oure hoo{s}t/ and was oure aller cok/And gadred vs / togydres in a flok/And forth we ryden /a litel moore than pasVn to the wateryng/ of Seint ThomasAnd there oure hoo{s}t / bigan his hors are{s}teAnd seyde / lordes / herkneth if yow le{s}te¶Ye woot youre forward / and it yow recordeIf euen{s}ong / and morwe{s}ong/ acordeLat se now / who shal telle the fir{s}te taleAs euere mote I drynke wyn / or Ale

{{Folio 12v}}

Who {s}o be rebel / to my Iuggement/Shal paye / for al / that by the wey is spentNow draweth cut/ er |þt| we ferrer twynneHe which |þt| hath the shorte{s}te / shal bigynne¶Sire knyght quod he / my may{s}ter and my lordNow draweth cut/ for that is myn acordCometh neer quod he / my lady Priore{ss}eAnd ye sire Clerc/. lat be youre shamefa{s}tne{ss}eNe studieth noght/ ley hond to / euery man¶Anoon to drawen / euery wight biganAnd shortly / for to tellen / as it wasWere it by auenture / or sort/ or casThe sothe is this / the Cut fil to the knyght/Of which ful blithe and glad was euery wight/And telle he mo{s}te his tale / as was re{s}ounBy forward / and by compo{s}icio|un|As ye han herd / what nedeth wordes moAnd whan this goode man / saugh |þt| it was {s}oAs he / |þt| wys was / and obedient/To kepe his forward / by his free a{ss}ent/He seyde / syn I shal bigynne the gameWhat wel come be the Cut/ in goddes nameNow lat vs ryde / and herkneth what I seyeAnd with that word / we ryden forth oure weyeAnd he bigan / with right a murye cheereHis tale anoon / and seyde as ye may heere

© Geoffrey Chaucer