The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale in the Hengwrt Manuscript of the Canterbury Tales

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{{Folio 58r}}¶Here bigynneth the prologe of the taleof the Wyf of Bathe

EXperience / thogh noon AuctoriteeWere in this world / is right ynogh for meTo speke of wo / that is in mariageffor lordynges / sith |þt| I twelf yeer was of ageThonked be god / that is eterne on lyueHou{s}bondes atte chirche dore / I haue had fyueIf I so ofte / myghte han wedded beAnd alle were worthy men / in hir degreeBut me was told certeyn / noght longe agon isThat sith |þt| Cri{s}t/ ne wente ne|uer|e but onysTo weddyng/ in the Cane of GalileeThat by the same en{s}ample / taughte he meThat I ne sholde / wedded be but ones¶Herke eek / lo / which a sharp word for the nonesBi{s}yde a welle / |Ihus| / god and manSpak / in repreeue of the Samaritan¶Thow ha{s}t yhad / fyue hou{s}bondes quod heAnd that ilke man / which that now hath theeIs nat thyn hou{s}bonde / thus he seyde |cer|teynWhat that he mente ther by / I kan nat seynBut |þt| I axe / why |þt| the fifthe manWas noon hou{s}bonde / to the SamaritanHow manye / myghte she han in mariageYet herde I neuere / tellen in myn ageVp on this nombre / diffyncyciounMen may dyuyne / and glo{s}en vp |&| dounBut wel I woot ex|pre|{s} / with outen lyeGod bad vs / for to wexe and multiplyeThat gentil text/ kan I wel vnder{s}tonde¶Eek wel I woot/ he seyde |þt| myn hou{s}bondeSholde lete / fader and moder/ and take to meBut of {^}{{no}} nombre / mencio|un| made heOf Bigamye / or of OctogamyeWhy sholde men thanne speke of it vileynye¶Lo here / the wi{s}e kyng/ daun SalomonI trowe / he hadde wyues many oon

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As wolde god / it leueful were to meTo be refre{ss}hed / half {s}o ofte as heWhich yifte of god hadde he / for alle hi{s}e wyuysNo man hath swith / that in this world alyue isGod woot/ this noble kyng/ as to my witThe fir{s}te nyght/ hadde many a murye fitWith ech of hem / {s}o wel was hym on lyueBle{ss}ed be god / that I haue wedded fyueWel come the sixte / whan |þt| e|uer|e he shalffor sith I wol nat kepe {^}{{me}} / chaa{s}t in alWhan myn hou{s}bonde / is fro the world agonSom cri{s}ten man / shal wedde me anonffor thanne thapo{s}tle seith / |þt| I am freeTo wedde a goddes half / where it liketh meHe seith / that to be wedded is no synneBet is to be wedded / than to brynneWhat rekketh me / theigh folk / seye vileynyeOf shrewed Lameth / and his bigamyeI woot wel / Abraham was an holy manAnd Iacob eek/ as fer as e|uer|e I kanAnd ech of hem / hadde wyues mo than twoAnd many another / holy man al{s}o¶Where kan ye seye / in any maner ageThat heighe god / defended mariageBy expres word / I pray yow telleth meOr where comanded he virgynyteeI woot as wel as ye / it is no dredeThapo{s}tle / whan he speketh of maydenhedeHe seyde / that |pre|cept ther of / hadde he noonMen may con{s}eille a womman / to be oonBut con{s}eillyng/ nys no comandement/He put it/ in oure owene Iuggement/ffor hadde god / comanded maydenhedeThanne hadde he dampned weddyng/ |with| the dedeAnd certes / if ther were no seed y{s}oweVirgynytee thanne / wher of sholde it growePoul dor{s}te nat comanden / at the lee{s}teA thyng/ of which / his may{s}ter yaf noon hee{s}teThe dart / is set vp for virgynyteeCacche who so may / who renneth be{s}t lat se

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But this word / is noght take of euery wight/But ther as god / li{s}t yeue it of his myght/I woot wel / that thapo{s}tle was a maydeBut nathelees / thogh |þt| he wroot/ or saydeHe wolde / that euery wight/ were swich as heAl nys but con{s}eil / to virgynyteeAnd for to been a wyf / he yaf me leueOf Indulgence / so nys it no repreueTo wedde me / if that my make dyeWith outen excepcio|un| of bigamyeAl were it good / no womman for to toucheHe mente / as in his bed / or in his coucheffor |per|il is / bothe fyr and tow ta{ss}embleYe knowe / what this en{s}ample may re{s}embleThis al and som / he heeld virgynyteeMoore |per|fit/ than weddyng in freleteeffreletee clepe I / but if |þt| he and sheWolde leden / al hir lyf/ in cha{s}titeeI graunte it wel / I haue noon enuyeThogh maydenhede / |pre|ferre bigamyeIt liketh hem to be clene / in body and goo{s}t/Of myn e{s}tat/ ne wol I make no boo{s}t/ffor wel ye knowe / a lord in his hou{s}holdNe hath nat euery ve{ss}el / al of goldS|om|me been of tree / and doon hir lord s[er]uy{s}eGod clepeth folk to hym / in sondry wy{s}eAnd euerich / hath of god a |prop|re yifteSom this / som that/ as hym liketh shifteVirgynytee / is greet |per|feccio|un|And continence eek/ with deuocio|un|But Cri{s}t/ that of |per|feccion / is welleBad nat euery wight / he sholde go selleAl that he hadde / and yeue it to the pooreAnd in swich wi{s}e / folwe hym and his fooreHe spak to hem / that wol lyue |per|fitlyAnd lordynges / by youre leue / that am nat II wol bi{s}towe / the flour of al myn ageIn thactes / and in fruyt of mariage

¶Telle me al{s}o / to what conclu{s}io|un|Were membres maad / of generacio|un|

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And of so |per|fit/ wys a wight ywroght/Tru{s}teth right wel / they were nat maad for noght/Glo{s}e who {s}o wole / and seye bothe vp and dounThat they were maad / for purgaciounOf Vryne / and oure bothe thynges smaleWas eek to knowe / a femelle / from a maleAnd for noon oother cau{s}e / sey ye / no{?.}Thex|per|ience / woot wel it is noght soSo that the Clerkes / be nat with me wrotheI sey this / |þt| they maked been for botheThat is to seyn / for office and for e{s}eOf engendrure / ther we nat god di{s}ple{s}eWhy sholde men ellis / in hir bokes setteThat man shal yelde / to his wyf hir detteNow wherwith / sholde he make his paiementIf he ne v{s}ed / his sely In{s}trument/Thanne were they maad / vp on a creatureTo purge vryne / and eek for engendrure¶But I seye noght/ |þt| euery wight is holdeThat hath swich harneys / as I to yow toldeTo goon / and v{s}en hem in engendrureThanne sholde men take / of Cha{s}titee no cureCri{s}t was a mayde / and shapen as a manAnd many a Seynt/ sith that the world biganYet lyued they euere / in |per|fit Cha{s}titeeI nyl envie / no virgynyteeLat hem be breed / of pured whete seedAnd lat vs wyues / hote BarlybreedAnd yet |with| Barly breed / Mark telle kanOure lord |Iesu| / refre{ss}hed many a manIn swich e{s}tat/ as god hath clepyd vsI wol |per|{s}euere / I nam nat |pre|ciusIn wifhode / wol I v{s}e myn In{s}trument/As frely / as my makere hath it sent/If I be daungerous / god yeue me sorweMyn hou{s}bonde / shal it han / bothe eue and morweWhan that hym li{s}t/ com forth and paye his detteAnd hou{s}bonde / wol I haue / I wol nat letteWhich shal be / bothe / my dettour and my thralAnd haue / his tribulacion / with al

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Vp on his fle{ss}h / whil that I am his wyfI haue the power / duryng al my lyfVp on his |prop|re body / and nat heRight thus / thapo{s}tle / tolde it vn to meAnd bad oure hou{s}bondes / for to loue vs welAl this sentence / me liketh euery delVp stirte the Pardoner / and that anonNow dame quod he / by god and by Seint |Iohan|Ye been a noble Prechour/ in this casI was aboute / to wedde a wyf allasWhat/ sholde I bye {^}{{it}} / on my fle{ss}h {s}o deereYet hadde I leuere / wedde no wyf to yeere¶Abyd quod she / my tale is nat bigonneNay /thow shalt drynken / of another tonneEr |þt| I go / shal {s}auoure wors than AleAnd whan that I / haue toold thee forth my taleOf tribulacion / in maryageOf which I am expert/ in al myn ageThis is to seye / my self hath been the whippeThanne may{s}tow / che{s}e / wheither |þt| thow wolt sippeOf thilke tonne / that I shal abrocheBe war of it / er thow to neigh approcheffor I shal telle en{s}amples / mo than tenWho so |þt| nyle / be war/ by othere menBy hym / shal othere men corrected beThi{s}e same wordes / writeth ProtholomeRede in his Almage{s}te / and take it there¶Dame I wolde pray yow / if youre wyl it wereSeyde this Pardoner / as ye biganTelle forth youre tale / spareth for no manAnd techeth vs yonge men / of youre praktyke¶Gladly quod she / syn it may yow lykeBut that I praye / to al this compaignyeIf that I speke / after my fanta{s}yeAs taketh nat agrief / of that I seyeffor myn entente / nys but for to pleyeNow sire / thanne wol I telle yow forth my taleAs euere / moot I drynke / wyn or AleI shal seye sooth / tho hou{s}bondes |þt| I haddeAs three of hem were goode / and two were badde

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The thre men / were goode / and ryche / and oldeVnnethe myghte they / the Statut holdeIn which / that they were bounden vn to meYe woot wel / what I mene of this |per|deeAs help me god / I laughe whan I thynkeHow pitou{s}ly / a nyght I made hem swynkeAnd by my fey / I tolde of it no stoorThey hadde me yeuen / hir land and hir tre{s}oorMe neded nat/ do lenger diligenceTo wynne hir loue / or doon hem re|uer|enceThey loued me so wel / by god aboueThat I ne tolde / no deyntee of hir loueA wys womman / wol bi{s}ye hi|re| / e|uer|e in oonTo gete hir loue / ye ther as she hath noonBut sith I hadde hem / hoolly in myn hondAnd sith that they / hadde yeuen me al hir londWhat sholde I take kepe / hem for to ple{s}eBut it were / for my |pro|fit/ and myn e{s}eI sette hem awerk/ by my feyThat many a night/ they songen weylaweyThe bacon / was nat fet for hem I troweThat {s}om men han / in E{ss}e|x'| at DonmoweI go|uer|ned hem / so wel after my laweThat ech of hem / ful bli{s}ful was and faweTo brynge me / gaye thynges fro the ffeyreThey were ful glad / whan I spak to hem feyreffor god it woot/ I chidde hem spitou{s}ly¶Now herkneth / how I bar me |prop|relyYe wi{s}e wyues / that konne vnder{s}tondeThus sholde ye speke / and bere hem wrong on hondeffor half {s}o boldely / kan ther no manSwere and lye / as a womman kanI sey nat this / by wyues |þt| ben wy{s}eBut if it be / whan they hem my{s}auy{s}eA wys wyf / if that she kan hir goodShal bere hym an hond / the Cow is woodAnd take witne{ss}e / of hir owene maydeOf hire a{ss}ent/ but herkneth how I sayde¶Sire olde kaynard / is this thyn arrayWhy is / my Neghebores wyf {s}o gay

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She is hon|our|ed / ouer al ther she gothI sitte at hoom / I haue no thrifty clothWhat do{s}tow / at my neghebores housIs she so fair / artow so amorousWhat rowne ye with oure mayde / benediciteSire olde lechour / lat thy Iapes beAnd if I haue / a go{ss}ib / or A freendWith outen gilt/ ye chiden as a feendIf that I walke / or pleye vn to his housThow come{s}t hoom / as dronken as a mousAnd |pre|che{s}t on thy bench / with yuel preefThow sey{s}t to me / it is a greet me{s}cheefTo wedde a poure womman / for co{s}tageAnd if that she be ryche / of heigh parageThanne sei{s}tow / that it is a tormentryeTo suffre / hir pryde / and hir malencolyeAnd if |þt| she be fair / thow verray knaueThow sei{s}t/ that euery holour wol hi|re| haueShe may no while / in cha{s}titee abydeThat is a{ss}ayled / vp on ech a syde¶Thow sey{s}t/ som folk de{s}iren vs for riche{ss}eS|om|me for oure shap / and s|om|me for oure fairne{ss}eAnd s|om|me / for she kan outher synge / or daunceAnd s|om|me / for gentille{ss}e / and dalyaunceS|om|me for hir handes / and hir armes smaleThus goth al to the deuel / by thy taleThow sey{s}t / men may nat kepe a Ca{s}tel walIt may so longe / a{ss}aylled been ouer alAnd if that she be foul / thow sey{s}t |þt| sheCoueiteth euery man / that she may seffor as a Spaynel / she wol on hym lepeTil that she fynde / som man hir to chepeNe noon so grey goos / goth ther in the lakeAs sei{s}tow / wol be with oute makeAnd sey{s}t/ it is an hard thyng / for to woldeA thyng / that no man wol his thankes holdeThus sei{s}tow lorel / whan thow goo{s}t to beddeAnd that no wys man / nedeth for to weddeNe no man / that entendeth vn to heueneWith wilde thonder dynt/ and firy leuene

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Moote thy welked nekke / be to brokeThow sey{s}t/ that droppyng hou{s}es / and eek smokeAnd chidyng wyues / maken men to fleeOut of hir owene hou{s}es / a |_bn|dicitee |?|What eyleth / swich an old man for to chideThow sey{s}t/ we wyues / wil oure vices hydeTil we be fa{s}t/ and thanne we wol hem sheweWel may that be / a prouerbe of a ShreweThow sei{s}t/ |þt| Oxen / A{ss}es / hors / and houndesThey been a{ss}ayed / at dy|uer|{s}e {s}toundesBacynes / lauours / er that men hem byeSpoones / stooles / and al swich hou{s}bondryeAnd so be pottes / clothes / and arrayBut folk / of wyues / maken noon a{ss}ayTil they be wedded / olde dotard shreweAnd thanne sei{s}tow / we wil oure vices sheweThow sei{s}t al{s}o / that it di{s}ple{s}eth meBut if that thow / wolt prei{s}e my beauteeAnd but thow powre / alwey vp on my faceAnd clepe me faire dame / in e|uer|y placeAnd but thow make a fee{s}te / on thilke dayThat I was born / and make me fre{ss}h and gayAnd but thow do / to my norice honourAnd to my chambrere / with Inne my bourAnd to my fadres folk / and his allyesThus sei{s}tow / olde barel ful of lyesAnd yet/ of oure Ap|pre|tice / Iankynffor his crisp heer / shynyng/ as gold so fynAnd for he Squyereth me / bothe vp and dounYet ha{s}tow caught/ fals su{s}peciounI wil hym nat/ thogh thow were deed to morwe¶But tel me this / why hide{s}tow with sorweThe keyes of thy Che{s}te / awey fro meIt is my good / as wel as thyn pardeeWhat wene{s}tow / make an ydiote of oure dameNow by that lord / that called is Seint IameThow shalt noght bothe / thogh |þt| thow were woodBe mai{s}ter / of my body / and my goodThat oon thow shalt forgo / maugree thyne eyenWhat helpeth it/ of me enquere and spyen

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I trowe / thow wolde{s}t/ lok me in thy chi{s}teThow sholde{s}t seye / wyf / go wher thee li{s}teTaak youre di{s}port/ I nyl leue no talisI knowe yow / for a trewe wyf / Dame AlisWe loue no man / that taketh kepe / or chargeWher |þt| we goon / we wol been at oure largeOf alle men / yble{ss}ed moote he beThe wi{s}e A{s}trologen / Daun ProtholomeThat seith this prouerbe / in his Almage{s}teOf alle men / his wi{s}dom is hye{s}teThat rekketh nat/ who hath the world in hondeBy this |pro||uer|be / thow shalt vnder{s}tondeHaue thow ynogh / what thar thee rekke / or careHow myrily / that othere folkes fareffor |cer|tes / olde dotard / by youre leueYe shal han queynte / right ynogh at eueHe is to greet a nygard / that wil werneA man to lighte a candle / at his lanterneHe shal han / neuer the la{ss}e light pardeeHaue thow ynogh / thee thar nat pleyne thee¶Thow sei{s}t al{s}o / that if we make vs gayWith clothyng/ and with |pre|cious arrayThat it is peril / of oure cha{s}titeeAnd yet with sorwe / thow mo{s}t enforce theeAnd seye thi{s}e wordes / in thapo{s}tles nameIn habit/ maad with cha{s}titee and shameYe w|om|men / shal apparaille yow quod heAnd nat in tre{ss}ed heer / and gay perreeAs perlys / ne with gold / ne clothes rycheAfter thy text/ ne after thy rubrycheI wol nat werke / as muche / as is a gnat/Thow seyde{s}t this / |þt| I was lyk a Cat/ffor who so wolde senge / a Cattes skynThanne wolde the Cat/ wel dwellen in his InAnd if the Cattes skyn / be slyk/ and gayShe wol nat dwelle in hou{s}e / half a dayBut forth she wole / er any day be dawedTo shewe hir skyn / and goon a CaterwawedThis is to seye / if I be gay si|re| shreweI wol renne out/ my borel for to shewe

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Sire olde fool / what helpeth thee te{s}pyenThogh thow preye Argus / |with| his hundred eyenTo be my warde corps / as he kan be{s}tIn feith / he shal nat kepe me / but me le{s}t/Yet koude I make his berd / as mote I thee¶Thow seyde{s}t eek/ |þt| ther ben thynges threeThe whiche thynges / troublen al this ertheAnd that no wight/ may endure the fertheO leeue sire shrewe / |Iesu| shorte thy lyfYet |pre|che{s}tow / and sei{s}t an hateful wyfYrekened is / for oon of thi{s}e my{s}chauncesBeen ther / noone othere re{s}emblauncesThat ye may likne / youre |per|ables toBut if a sely wyf/ be oon of tho¶Thow likne{s}t eek / w|om|manes loue to helleTo bareyne lond / ther water may nat dwelleThow likne{s}t it al{s}o / to wilde fyrThe moore it brenneth / the moore it hath de{s}yrTo con{s}umen euery thyng/ |þt| brent wol beThow sei{s}t/ right as wormes shende a treeRight so a wyf / de{s}troyeth hir hou{s}bondeThis knowen they / that been to wyues bonde¶Lordynges / right thus / as ye han vnder{s}tondeBar I stifly / myne olde hou{s}bondes on hondeThat thus they seyden / in hir dronkene{ss}eAnd al was fals / but that I took witne{ss}eOn Iankyn / and on my Nece al{s}oO lord / the pyne I dide hem / and the wofful giltlees / by goddes swete pyneffor as an hors / I koude byte and whyneI koude pleyne / and I was in the giltOr ellis / often tyme / I hadde been spilt/Who so that fir{s}t to Mille comth / fir{s}t grynt/I pleyned fir{s}t/ so was oure wer|re| stynt/They were ful glad / to excu{s}en hem ful blyueOf thyng/ of which they neuere agilte hir lyueOf wenches / wolde I bern hem on hondeWhan that for syk/ they myghte vnnethe stondeYet tikled I his herte / for that heWende that I hadde had of hym / {s}o greet chiertee

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I swoor / that my walkyng/ out by nyghteWas for to e{s}pye / wenches that he dighteVnder that colour / hadde I many a myrtheffor al swich wit/ is yeuen vs in oure birtheDeceite / wepyng/ spynnyng/ god hath yeueTo wommen kyndely / whil they may lyueAnd thus / of o thyng/ I auante meAt ende / I hadde the bet in ech degreeBy sleighte / or force / or by som maner thyng/As by continuel murmur / or grucchyng/Namely abedde / hadden they me{s}chaunceTher wolde I chide / and do hem no ple{s}aunceI wolde no lenger / in the bed abydeIf that I felte his arm / ouer my sydeTil he hadde maad / his raunceon vn to meThanne wolde I suffre hym / do his nyceteeAnd ther fore / euery man / this tale I telleWynne who so may / for al is for to selleWith empty hond / men may none haukes lureffor wynnyng/ wolde I al his lu{s}t endureAnd make me / a feyned appetit/And yet in baco|un| / hadde I ne|uer|e delitThat made me / that euere I wolde hem chydeffor thogh the Pope / hadde seten hem bi{s}ydeI wolde noght spare hem / at hir owene bordffor by my trouthe / I quytte hem / word for wordAs help me / verray god omnipotentTogh I right now / sholde make my te{s}tament/I ne owe hem nat a word / that it nys quyt/I broghte it so aboute / by my witThat they mo{s}te yeue it vp / as for the be{s}teOr ellis / hadde we ne|uer|e been in re{s}teffor thogh he looked / as a wood leo|un|Yet sholde he faille / of his conclu{s}io|un|¶Thanne wolde I seye / good lief taak keepHow mekely / looketh Wilkyn oure sheepCom neer my spou{s}e / lat me ba thy chekeYe sholden be / al pacient / and mekeAnd han / a swete spyced con{s}cienceSith ye so |pre|che / of Iobes pacience

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Suffreth alwey / syn ye so wel kan |pre|cheAnd but ye do / |cer|teyn we shal yow techeThat it is fair / to han a wyf in peesOon of vs two / mo{s}te bowen douteleesAnd sith a man / is moore re{s}onableThan womman is / ye mo{s}ten been suffrableWhat eyleth yow / to grucche thus and groneIs it/ for ye wolde haue / my queynte alloneWy taak it al / lo haue it euery delPeter I shrewe yow / but ye loue it welffor if I wolde selle / my bele cho{s}eI koude walke / as fre{ss}h as is a ro{s}eBut I wol kepe it/ for youre owene toothYe be to blame / by god I sey yow soothSwiche manere wordes / hadde we on hondeNow wol I speke / of my ferthe hou{s}bondeMy ferthe hou{s}bonde / was a reuelourThis is to seyn / he hadde a |per|amourAnd I was yong/ and ful of rageryeStibourne and strong/ and ioly as a pyeHow koude I daunce / to an harpe smaleAnd synge ywys / as any nyghtyngaleWhan I hadde dronke / a draghte of swete wynMetellyus / the foule cherl the swynThat with a staf / birafte his wyf hir lyfffor she drank/ wyn /. though I hadde been his wyfNe sholde nat/ han daunted me fro drynkeAnd after wyn / on Venus mo{s}te I thynkeffor al{s}o siker / as coold engendreth haylA likerous mouth / mo{s}te han a likerous taylIn womman vynolent / is no defenceThis knowen lechours / by experienceBut lord cri{s}t/ whan |þt| it remembreth meVp on my youthe / and on my iolyteeIt tikeleth me / aboute myn herte rooteVn to this day / it dooth myn herte booteThat I haue had my world / as in my tymeBut age allas / that al wole enuenymeHath me biraft/ my beautee / and my pithLat go farwel / the deuel go ther with

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The flour is goon / ther is namoore to telleThe bren as I be{s}t kan / now mo{s}te I selleBut yet/ to be right murye / wol I fondeNow wol I tellen / of my ferthe hou{s}bonde¶I seye I hadde in herte gret de{s}pitThat he / of any oother had delitBut he was quyt/ by god and by Seint IoceI made hym / of the same wode a troceNat of my body / in no foul manereBut |cer|teynly / I made folk swich chiereThat in his owene grece / I made hym fryeffor angre / and for verray Ialou{s}yeBy god / in erthe / I was his purgatorieffor which I hope / his soule be in glorieffor god it woot/ he sat ful ofte and soong /Whan |þt| his shoo / ful bitterly hym wroong/Ther was no wight/ saue god and he / |þt| wi{s}teIn many wi{s}e / how soore I hym twi{s}teHe deyde / whan I cam fro |Ier{_lm}|And lyth ygraue / vnder the roode beemAl is his toumbe / noght so curyusAs was the sepulcre / of hym DaryusWhich that Appellus / wroghte subtillyIt nys but wa{s}t/ to burye hym |pre|ciou{s}lyLat hym fare wel / god gyue his soule re{s}te


He is now / in his |gra|ue / and in his che{s}te


Now / of my fifthe hou{s}bonde / wol I telleGod lat his soule / neuere come in helleAnd yet was he to me / the moo{s}te shreweThat feele I / on my rybbes al by reweAnd euere shal / vn to myn endyng dayBut in oure bed / he was so fre{ss}h and gayAnd ther with al / so wel koude he me glo{s}eWhan that he wolde / han my bele cho{s}eThat thogh he hadde me bet/ on euery bonHe koude wynne agayn / my loue anonI trowe I loued hym be{s}t/ for that heWas of his loue / daungerous to meWe wommen han / if that I shal nat lyeIn this matere / a queynte fanta{s}ye

{{Folio 64v}}

Wayte what thyng/ we may nat lightly haueTher after / wol we crye al day / and crauefforbede vs thyng/ and that de{s}iren wePree{ss}e on vs fa{s}te / and thanne wol we fleWith daunger / oute we / al oure chaffareGreet prees at Market / maketh deere wareAnd to greet cheep / is holden at litel prysThis knoweth euery womman / that is wys¶My fifthe hou{s}bonde / god his soule ble{ss}eWhich |þt| I took for loue / and no ryche{ss}eHe som tyme / was a clerk of OxenfordAnd hadde laft scole / and wente at hom to bordWith my go{ss}yb / dwellyng in oure townGod haue hir soule / hir name was Ali{s}ounShe knew myn herte / and eek my pryueteeBet than oure pary{ss}he pree{s}t/ as mote I theeTo hire biwreyed I / my con{s}eil alffor hadde myn hou{s}bonde / pi{ss}ed on a walOr doon a thyng/ that sholde haue co{s}t his lyfTo hire / and to another worthy wyfAnd to my Nece / which |þt| I loued welI wolde han toold / his con{s}eil euery delAnd so I dide / ful often / god it woot/That made his face / often reed and hootffor verray shame / and blamed hym self/ for heHadde toold to me / so greet a pryuetee¶And so bifel / that ones in a lenteSo often tymes / I to my go{ss}yb wenteffor euere yet/ I louede to be gayAnd for to walke / in March / Aueryll / and Mayffrom hous to hous / to here sondry talesThat Iankyn Clerk / and my go{ss}yb dame AlysAnd I my self / in to the feeldes wenteMyn hou{s}bonde was at londo|un| / al that lenteI hadde / the bettre ley{s}er for to pleyeAnd for to se / and eek for to be seyeOf lu{s}ty folk/ what wi{s}te {^}{{I}} wher my |gra|ceWas shapen for to be / or in what placeTher fore / I made my vi{s}itacionsTo vigilies / and to proce{ss}ions

{{Folio 65r}}

To |pre|chyng/ eek / and to thi{s}e pilgrymagesTo pleyes of myracles / and to mariagesAnd wered vp on / my gaye scarlet gytesThi{s}e wormes / ne thi{s}e moththes / ne thi{s}e MytesVp on my peril / frete hem neuer a delAnd wo{s}tow / why / for they were v{s}ed wel¶Now wol I tellen forth / what happed meI seye / that in the feeldes walked weTil trewely / we hadde swich daliaunceThis clerk / and I / that of my |pur|ueiaunceI spak to hym / and seyde hym / how that heIf I were wydewe / sholde wedde meffor certeynly / I seye for no bob|_an|ceYet was I neuere / with outen puruei|an|ceOf mariage / nof othere thynges eek /I holde a mou{s}es herte / noght worth a leek/That hath but oon hole / for to sterte toAnd if that faille / thanne is al y doBut now {s}ire / lat me se / what shal I seynA .ha. by god / I haue my tale ageyn¶Whan that my fourthe hou{s}bonde / was a beereI weep algate / and made sory cheereAs wyues mooten / for it is v{s}ageAnd with my co|uer|chief / couered my vi{s}ageBut for that I was / purueyed of a makeI wepte but smal / and that I vndertake¶To chirche was myn hou{s}bonde / born a morweWith neghebores / that for hym maden sorweAnd Iankyn oure clerk / was oon of thoAs help me god / whan that I saw hym goAfter the beere / me thoughte he hadde a payreOf legges / and of feet/ so clene and fayreThat al myn herte / I yaf vn to his hooldHe was I trowe / twenty wynter ooldAnd I was fourty / if I shal seye soothBut yet I hadde alwey / a coltes toothGat tothed I was / |&| that bicam me weelI hadde the preente / of Seynt Venus seelAs help me god / I was a lu{s}ty oonAnd fayr/ and ryche / and yong/ and wel bigoon

{{Folio 65v}}

And trewely / as myne hou{s}bondes tolde meI hadde the be{s}te quonyam / myghte beMyn a{s}cendent/ was Taur / and Mars ther InneAllas / allas / that e|uer|e loue was synneI folwed ay / myn Inclinacio|un|By vertu / of my con{s}tellacio|un|That made me / I koude noght withdraweMy chambre of Venus / from a good felawe¶What sholde I seye / but at the Monthes endeThis ioly clerk / Iankyn |þt| was so hendeHath wedded me / with greet solempnyteeAnd to hym yaf I / al the lond and feeThat euere was me yeuen / ther biforeBut afterward / repented me ful soreHe nolde suffre / no thyng of my li{s}t/By god / he smoot me ones / on the ly{s}t/ffor that I rente / out of his book {^}{{a}} leefThat of the strook/ myn ere weex al deefStibourne I was as is a leone{ss}eAnd of my tonge / a verray Ianglere{ss}eAnd walke I wolde / as I hadde doon bifornffrom hous to hous / al thogh he hadde it swornffor which / he often tymes / wolde |pre|cheAnd me / of olde Romayn ge{s}tes techeHow he Symplicius Gallus / lafte his wifAnd hire for{s}ook/ for terme of al his lif/Noght/ but for open heueded he hir sayLokynge out at his dore / vp on a day¶Another Romayn / tolde he me by nameThat for his wyf / was at a so|mer|es gameWith outen his wityng/ he for{s}ook hi|re| ekeAnd thanne wolde he / vp on his Bible sekeThat ilke |pro||uer|be / of Eccle{s}ia{s}teWhere he comandeth / and forbedeth fa{s}teMan shal nat suffre his wyf / go roule abouteThanne wolde he seye right thus / with outen douteWho so |þt| buyldeth his hous / al of salwes }And priketh his blynde hors / ouer the falwes }


And suffreth his wyf / to go seken halwesIs worthy / to ben hanged on the galwes

{{Folio 66r}}

But al for noght/ I sette noght an haweOf his |pro||uer|be / nof his olde saweNy wolde nat/ of hym corrected beI hate hym / |þt| my vices telleth meAnd so doon mo / god woot of vs than IThis made hym / with me wood al outrelyI nolde noght forbere hym / in no cas¶Now wol I sey yow sooth / by Seint ThomasWhy |þt| I rente / out of his book a leefffor which / he smoot me so / |þt| I was deefHe hadde a book / |þt| gladly nyght and dayffor his di{s}port/ he wolde rede alwayHe clepyd it/ Valerie and Theofra{s}teAt which book / he logh alwey ful fa{s}teAnd eek ther was / som tyme a clerk at RomeA Cardynal / that highte Seint IeromeThat made a book/ agayn IovinianIn which book/ eek ther was TertulanCri{s}ippus / Trotula / and HelowysThat was Abbe{ss}e / nat fer fro ParysAnd eek the parables / of SalomonOuydes art/ and bokes many onAnd alle thi{s}e were bounden / in o volumeAnd euery nyght and day / was his cu{s}tumeWhan he hadde ley{s}er / and vacacio|un|ffrom oother / worldly ocupacio|un|To reden in this book/ of wikked wyuesHe knew of hem / mo legendes and lyuesThan been of goode wyues in the Bibleffor tru{s}teth wel / it is an inpo{ss}ibleThat any clerk/ wol speke good of wyuesBut if it be / of holy seintes lyuesNof noon oother womman / neuer the moWho peynted the leo|un| / tel me whoBy god / if w|om|men / hadden writen storiesAs clerkes han / with Inne hir oratoriesThey wolde han writen of men / moore wikkedne{ss}eThan al the mark of Adam may redre{ss}eThe children / of Mercurie and VenusBeen in hir wirkyng / ful contrarius

{{Folio 66v}}

Mercurie loueth / wy{s}dam and scienceAnd Venus loueth / Riot and di{s}penceAnd for hir di|uer|{s}e / di{s}po{s}icio|un|Ech faileth / in ootheres exaltacio|un|And thus god woot/ Mercurie is de{s}olatIn pi{s}ces / wher Venus is exaltat/And Venus faileth / ther Mercurie is rey{s}edTher fore no w|om|man / of no clerk is prey{s}edThe clerk/ whan he is old / and may noght doOf Venus werkes / worth his olde shoThanne sit he doun / and writ in his dotageThat wommen / kan nat kepe hir mariage¶But now to purpos / why I tolde theeThat I was beten / for a book pardeeVp on a nyght/ Iankyn |þt| was oure sireRedde on his book / as he sat by the fireOf Eua fir{s}t / |þt| for hir wikkedne{ss}eWas al man kynde / broght to wrecchedne{ss}e¶Tho redde he me / how Samp{s}on lo{s}te his herysSlepynge / his lemman kitte it |with| hir sherysThurgh which tre{s}o|un| / lo{s}te he bothe hi{s}e eyen¶Tho redde he me / if that I shal nat lyenOf Hercules / and of his DianyreThat cau{s}ed hym / to sette hym self afyre¶No thyng forgat he / the sorwe and woThat Socrates / hadde with his wyues twoHow xantippa / ca{s}te pi{ss}e vp on his heedThis sely man sat {s}tille / as he were deedHe wipte his heed / namoore dor{s}te he seynBut er that thonder stynte / comth a reyn¶Of Pha{s}ifpha / that was the queene of Creteffor shrewedne{ss}e / hym thoughte the tale sweteffy spek namoore / it is a gri{s}ly thyng/Of hi|re| horrible lu{s}t/ and hir likyng/¶Of Clitermy{s}tra / for hir lecheryeThat fal{s}ly / made hir hou{s}bonde for to dyeHe redde it/ with ful good deuocio|un|¶He tolde me eek / for what occa{s}io|un|Amphiorax / at Thebes lo{s}te his lyfMyn hou{s}bonde / hadde a legende of his wyf

{{Folio 67r}}

¶Exiphilem / that for an Ouch of goldHath |pre|uely / vn to the grekys toldWher |þt| hir hou{s}bonde / hidde hym in a placeffor which / he hadde at Thebes sory grace¶Of lyma tolde he me / and of lucieThey bothe / made hir hou{s}bondes for to dyeThat oon for loue / that oother was for hateLyma hir hou{s}bonde / on an euen lateEmpoy{s}oned hath / for |þt| she was his foLucya likerous / loued hir hou{s}bonde soThat for he sholde alwey / vp on hir thynkeShe yaf hym / swich a manere loue drynkeThat he was deed / er it were by the morweAnd thus algates / hou{s}bondes han sorwe¶Thanne tolde he me / how |þt| oon latumyusCompleyned / vn to his felawe ArriusThat in his gardyn / growed swich a treeOn which he seyde / how |þt| hi{s}e wyues threHonged hem self / for hertes de{s}pitus¶O leeue brother / quod this ArriusYif me a plante / of thilke ble{ss}ed treeAnd in my gardyn / planted shal it be¶Of latter date of wyues / hath he redThat s|om|me han slayn / hir hou{s}bondes in hir bedAnd lete hir Lechour / dighte hi|re| al the nyght/Whan |þt| the corps / lay in the floor vp ryght/¶And s|om|me / han dryuen nayles in hir braynWhil |þt| they sleepe / and thus they han hem slayn¶S|om|me han hem yeuen poy{s}o|un| / in hir drynkeHe spak moore harm / than herte may bithynkeAnd ther with al / he knew of mo |pro|uerbesThan in this world / ther growen gras or herbesBet is quod he / thyn habitacio|un|Be with a leo|un| / or a foul drago|un|Than |with| a womman / v{s}yng for to chideBet is quod he / hye in the roof abydeThan with an angry wyf / down in the housThey been {s}o wikked / and contrariousThey haten / that hir hou{s}bondes loueth ayHe seyde / a womman / ca{s}t hir shame away

{{Folio 67v}}

Whan she ca{s}t of hir smok/ and forther moA fair w|om|man / but she be chaa{s}t al{s}oIs lyk a gold ryng/ in a sowes no{s}eWho wolde wene / or who wolde suppo{s}eThe wo / that in myn herte was and pyne¶And whan I say / he wolde ne|uer|e fyneTo reden / on this cur{s}ed book al nyght/Al {s}odeynly / thre leues / haue I plyght/Out of his book/ right as he radde / and ekeI with my fi{s}t/ so took on the chekeThat in oure fyr / he fil bakward adownAnd he vp {s}tirte / as dooth a wood leounAnd with his fe{s}t / he smoot me on the heedThat in the floor / I lay as I were deedAnd whan he say / how stille |þt| I layHe was aga{s}t/ and wolde haue fled his wayTil atte la{s}te / out of my swowgh I braydeO ha{s}tow slayn me / fal{s}e theef I saydeAnd for my land / thus ha{s}tow mordred meEr I be deed / yet wol I ki{ss}e thee¶And neer he cam / and kneled faire adownAnd seyde / deere su{s}ter Ali{s}ounAs help me god / I shal thee ne|uer|e smyteThat I haue doon / it is thy self to wytefforyeue it me / and that I thee bi{s}ekeAnd yet eft {s}oones / I hitte hym on the chekeAnd seyde theef / thus muchel am I wrekeNow wol I dye / I may no lenger speke¶But at the la{s}te / with muchel care and woWe fille acorded / by vs seluen twoHe yaf me / al the brydel in myn hondTo han the gouernance / of hous and londAnd of his tonge / and his hond al{s}oAnd made hym brenne his book/ anon right thoAnd whan that I hadde / geten vn to meBy mai{s}trye / al the souerayneteeAnd |þt| he seyde / myn owene trewe wyfDo as thee lu{s}t/ the |ter|me of al thy lyfKeep thyn honour / and keep eek myn e{s}taatAfter that day / we hadden ne|uer|e debaat /

{{Folio 68r}}

God help me {s}o / I was to hym as kyndeAs any wyf / from Denmark/ vn to IndeAnd al{s}o trewe / and so was he to meI pray to god / that sit in mage{s}teeSo ble{ss}e his soule / for his |mer|cy deereNow wol I seye my tale / if ye wol heereThe frere logh / whan he hadde herd al thisNow dame quod he / so haue I ioye / or blysThis is a long |pre|amble / of a taleAnd whan the Somnour / herde the frere gale¶Lo quod the Somnour / goddes armes twoA frere / wol entremette hym e|uer|e moLoo goode men / a flye / and eek a frereWol falle in euery dy{ss}h and matereWhat speke{s}tow / of preambulaciounWhat amble / or trotte / or pees / or go sit dounThow lette{s}t oure di{s}port/ in this manere¶Ye woltow so / sir Somnour / quod the frereNow by my feith / I shal er that I goTelle of a Somnour / swich a tale / or twoThat al the folk / shal laughen in this place¶Now ellis frere / I wol bi{s}hrewe thy faceQuod this Somnour / and I bi{s}hrewe meBut if I telle tales / two or threOf freres / er I come to SydyngborneThat I shal make thyn herte for to morneffor wel I woot/ thy pacience is gon¶Oure hoo{s}t/ cryde pees / and that anonAnd seyde / lat the womman / telle hir taleYe fare as folk / that dronken ben of AleDo dame / tel forth youre tale / and that is be{s}t/¶Al reddy sire quod she / right as yow le{s}t/If I haue licence / of this worthy frere¶Yis dame quod he / tel forth / and I wol heere

¶Here endeth the prologe of the Wyf of Bathe

{{Folio 68v}}

¶Here bigynneth the tale / of the Wyf of Bathe

IN tholde dayes / of the kyng ArthourOf which that Britons / speken greet honourAl was this land / fulfild of ffairyeThe Elf queene / with hir ioly compaignyeDaunced ful ofte / in many a grene medeThis was / the olde opynyo|un| / as I redeI speke / of many hundred yerys agoBut now kan no man / se none Elues moffor now the grete charitee / and prayeresOf lymytours / and othere holy freresThat serchen / euery lond and euery streemAs thikke / as motes in the sonne beemBle{ss}ynge halles / chambres / kichenes bouresCitees / Burghes / Ca{s}tels / hye TouresThropes / Bernes / Shipnes / DayeryesThis maketh / |þt| ther been no fairyesffor ther as wont/ to walken was an ElfTher walketh now / the lymytour hym selfIn vndermelys / and in morwenyngesAnd seith his matyns / and his holy thyngesAs he gooth / in his lymytaciounWommen / may go saufly vp and downIn euery bu{ss}h / or vnder euery treeTher is noon oother Incubus / but heAnd he ne wol doon hem / but di{s}honour¶And so bifel / that this kyng ArthourHadde in his hous / a lu{s}ty BachilerThat on a day / cam ridyng fro RyuerAnd happed that allone / as he was bornHe say a mayde / walkynge hym bifornOf which mayde / anoon maugree hir hedBy verray force / he rafte hir maydenhedffor which o|pp'|{ss}io|un| / was swich clamourAnd swich pur{s}uyte / vn to the kyng ArthourThat dampned was this knyght / for to be deedBy cours of lawe / and sholde han lo{s}t his heed

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Par auenture / swich was the statut thoBut that the queene / and othere ladyes moSo longe preyden / the kyng of graceTil he his lyf / hym graunted in the placeAnd yaf hym to the queene / al at hir willeTo che{s}e / wheither she wolde / hym saue or spilleAnd after this / thus spak she to the knyghtWhan that she saw / hir tyme vp on a dayThow stande{s}t yet quod she / in swich arrayThat of thy lyf / yet ha{s}tow no {s}ureteeI graunte thee lyf / if thow kan{s}t tellen meWhat thyng is it/ |þt| wommen moo{s}t de{s}irenBe war / and keep thy nekke boon from IrenAnd if thow kan{s}t nat / tellen me anonYet/ wol I yeue thee leue / for to gonA twelf monthe and a day / to seche and lereAn an{s}were suffi{s}ant/ in this matereAnd {s}euretee wol I han / er that thow paceThy body / for to yelden / in this place¶Wo was this knyght/ and sorwefully he sikethBut what/ he may nat doon / al as hym likethAnd atte la{s}te / he chees hym for to wendeAnd come agayn / right at the yeres endeWith swich an{s}were / as god wolde hym |pur|ueyeAnd taketh his leue / and wendeth forth his weyeHe seketh euery hous / and euery placeWhere as he hopeth / for to fynde graceTo lerne / what thyng/ wommen loue moo{s}tBut he ne koude / arryuen in no coo{s}t/Where as he myghte fynde / in this matereTwo creatures / acordyng/ in feere¶S|om|me seyden / wommen louen be{s}t riche{ss}eS|om|me seyde honour / s|om|me seyde Iolifne{ss}eS|om|me riche array / s|om|me lu{s}t abeddeAnd ofte tyme / to be widwe and weddeS|om|me seyde / that oure herte / is moo{s}t e{s}edWhan that we been / yflatered and yple{s}edHe gooth ful ny the sothe / I wol nat lyeA man shal wynne vs be{s}t / with flaterye

{{Folio 69v}}

And with attendaunce / and with bi{s}yne{ss}eBeen we ylymed / bothe moore and le{ss}e¶And s|om|me seyn / |þt| we louen be{s}tffor to be free / and do right as vs le{s}t/And that no man / repreue vs of oure viceBut seye |þt| we be wi{s}e / and no thyng nyceffor trewely / ther is noon of vs alleIf any wight/ wolde clawe vs on the galleThat we nyl kike / for he weith vs soothA{ss}ay / and he shal fynde it/ that so doothffor be we / ne|uer| {s}o vicious / with InneWe wol be holden wi{s}e / and clene of synne¶And s|om|me seyn / that greet delit han weffor to be holden / stable and eek secreeAnd in o purpos / {s}tedefa{s}tly to dwelleAnd nat biwreye thyng/ that men vs telleBut that tale / is nat worth a Rake stelePardee / we wommen / konne no thyng heleWitne{ss}e on Mida / wol ye heere the tale¶Ouyde / amonges othere thynges smaleSeyde / Mida / hadde vnder his longe herysGrowynge vp on his heed / two A{ss}es erysThe which vice he hidde / as he be{s}t myghtefful sotilly / from euery mannes sighteThat {s}aue his wyf / ther wi{s}te of it na moHe loued hi|re| moo{s}t/ and tru{s}ted hi|re| al{s}oHe preyed hi|re| / that to no creatureSHe sholde tellen / of his diffigure¶She swoor hym nay / for al this world to wynneShe nolde do / that vileynye / or synTo make hir hou{s}bonde / han {s}o foul a nameShe nolde nat telle it/ for hir owene shameBut nathelees / hir thoughte |þt| she dydeThat she {s}o longe / sholde a con{s}eil hydeHir thoughte / it swal {s}o {s}oore aboute hir herteThat nedely / som word / hir mo{s}te a{s}terteAnd sith / she dor{s}te nat telle it to no manDoun to a Marys / fa{s}te by she ranTil she cam there / hir herte was a fyreAnd as a Bitore / bombleth in the Myre

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She leyde hir mouth / vn to the water downBiwrey me nat/ thow water with thy sownQuod she / to thee I telle it and namoMyn hou{s}bonde / hath longe A{ss}es erys twoNow is myn herte al hool / now it is outeI myghte no lenger / kepe it out of douteHeere may ye see / thogh we a tyme abydeYet out it moot/ we kan no con{s}eil hydeThe remenant of the tale / if ye wol heereRedeth Ouyde / and ther ye may it leere¶This knyght/ of which my tale is speciallyWhan that he say / he myghte nat come ther byThis is to seye / what wommen louen moo{s}t/With Inne his bre{s}t/ ful sorweful was the goo{s}t /But hom he gooth / he myghte nat soiorneThe day was come / that homward mo{s}te he torneAnd in his wey / it happed hym to rydeIn al this care / vnder a ffore{s}t sydeWher as he say / vp on a daunce goOf ladyes .xxiiij. and yet moToward the whiche daunce / he drow ful yerneIn hope / that som wi{s}dom sholde he lerneBut |cer|teynly / er he cam fully thereVany{ss}hed was this daunce / he ny{s}te whereNo creature say he / that bar lyfSaue on the grene / he say sittynge a wyfA fouler wight/ ther may no man deuy{s}eAgayn the knyght/ this olde wyf gan ry{s}eAnd seyde sire knyght/ heer forth ne lyth no weyTel me / what |þt| ye seken by youre feyPar auenture / it may the bettre beThis olde folk/ konne muchel thyng quod she¶My leeue moder / quod this knyght |cer|teynI nam but deed / but if that I kan seynWhat thyng it is / that wommen moo{s}t de{s}ireKoude ye me wi{ss}e / I wolde wel quyte youre hyre¶Plight me thy trouthe / here in myn hand quod sheThe nexte thyng/ that I requere theeThow shalt it do / if it lye in thy myght/And I wol telle it yow / er it be nyght/

{{Folio 70v}}

[¶]Haue here my trouthe / quod the knyght I graunte¶Thanne quod she / I dar me wel auaunteThy lyf is sauf / for I wole {s}tonde ther byVp on my lyf / the queene wol {s}eye as ILat see / which is the proudde{s}te of hem alleThat wereth on / a co|uer|chief / or a calleThat dar weye nay / of that I shal thee techeLat vs go forth / with outen lenger specheTho rowned she / a pi{s}tel in his ereAnd bad hym to be glad / and haue no fere¶Whan they be comen to the Court/ this knyght/Seyde / he hadde holde his day / as he had hight/And redy was his an{s}were / as he saydefful many a noble wyf/ and many a maydeAnd many a widwe / for |þt| they ben wi{s}eThe queene hir self / sittyng as Iu{s}ti{s}eA{ss}embled been / this an{s}were for to hereAnd afterward / this knyght was bode appereTo euery wight/ comanded was silenceAnd that the knyght/ sholde telle in audienceWhat thyng/ that worldly wommen louen be{s}t/This knyght/ ne stood nat {s}tille as dooth a be{s}t/But to his que{s}tion / anon an{s}werdeWith manly voys / that al the court it herde¶My lige lady / generally quod heWommen de{s}ire / to haue souereynteeAs wel / ouer hir hou{s}bonde / as hir loueAnd for to been in mai{s}trie / hym aboueThis is youre moo{s}te de{s}ir / thogh ye me killeDooth as yow li{s}t/ I am here at youre wille¶In al the Court/ ne was ther wyf ne maydeNe wydwe / that contraryed that he saydeBut seyden / he was worthy han his lyf¶And with that word / vp {s}tirte that olde wyfWhich that the knyght/ say sittyng on the greneMercy quod she / my so|uer|eyn lady queeneEr that youre Court departe / do me right/I taughte this an{s}were / vn to the knyght/ffor which / he plighte me his trouthe thereThe fir{s}te thyng/ I wolde hym requere

{{Folio 71r}}

He wolde it do / if it laye in his myght/Bifore the court/ thanne preye I thee sire knyght/Quod she / that thow me take vn to thy wyfffor wel thow woo{s}t/ that I haue kept thy lyfIf I seye fals / sey nay vp on thy fey¶This knyght an{s}werde / allas and weilaweyI woot right wel / that swich was my bihe{s}teffor goddes loue / as chees a newe reque{s}teTaak al my good / and lat my body go¶Nay thanne quod she / I shrewe vs bothe twoffor thogh |þt| I be foul / old / and pooreI nolde for al the metal / ne for ooreThat vnder erthe is graue / / or lith aboueBut if thy wyf I were / and eek thy loue¶My loue quod he / nay my dampnacio|un|Allas / that any of my nacio|un|Sholde euere / so foule dis|per|aged beBut al for noght/ thende is this / that heCon{s}treyned was / he nedes mo{s}te hir weddeAnd taketh his olde wyf / and goth to bedde¶Now wolden som men / seye |per| auentureThat for my necligence / I do no cureTo tellen yow / the ioye / and al tharrayThat at the fe{s}te / was that ilke dayTo which thyng/ shortly / an{s}were I shalI seye / ther nas no ioye / ne fe{s}te at alTher nas but heuyne{ss}e / and muche sorweffor |pri|uely / he wedded hi|re| on morweAnd al day after/ hidde hym as an OwleSo wo was hym / his wyf looked {s}o foule¶Greet was the wo / the knyght hadde in his thoght/Whan he was with his wyf / a bedde ybroght/He walweth / and he turneth to and froHis olde wyf / lay smylyng e|uer|e moAnd seyde / o deere hou{s}bonde benediciteffareth euery knyght thus with his wyf / as yeIs this the lawe / of kyng Arthures housIs euery knyght of his/ thus daungerousI am youre owene loue / and youre wyfI am she / which that saued hath youre lyf

{{Folio 71v}}

And |cer|tes / yet ne dide I yow ne|uer|e vnright/Why fare ye thus with me / this fir{s}te nyght/Ye faren lyk a man / hadde lo{s}t his witWhat is my gilt / for goddes loue tel itAnd it shal ben amended / if I may¶Amended quod this knyght/ allas nay / nayIt wol nat ben amended ne|uer|e moThow art so loothly / and {s}o old al{s}oAnd ther to comen / of {s}o lowe a kyndeThat litel wonder is / thogh I walwe and wyndeSo wolde god / myn herte wolde bre{s}te¶Is this quod she / the cau{s}e of youre vnre{s}te¶Ye |cer|teynly quod he / no wonder is¶Now sire quod she / I koude amende al thisIf that me li{s}te / er it were dayes threSo wel ye myghte / bere yow vn to me

¶No|ta| bene

¶But for ye speken / of swich gentille{ss}eAs is de{s}cended / out of old riche{ss}eThat therfore / sholden ye be gentil menSwich erroga|un|ce / is nat worth an henLooke who |þt| is / moo{s}t |ver|tuous alwayPryuee and apert/ and moo{s}t entendeth ayTo do / the gentil dedes / |þt| he kanTaak hym / for the gentile{s}te manCri{s}t / wol we clayme of hym oure gentile{ss}eNat of oure eldres / for hir old riche{ss}effor thogh they yeue vs / al hir heritageffor which we clame / to been of hir parageYet may they nat biquethe / for no thyng/To noon of vs / hir vertuous lyuyng/That made hem / gentil men ycalled beAnd bad vs / folwen hem in swich degree¶Wel kan / the wi{s}e poete of fflorenceThat highte Dant/ speken in this {s}entenceLo / in swich maner rym / is Dantes talefful selde vp ri{s}eth / by his bra|un|ches smaleProwe{ss}e of man / for god of his prowe{ss}eWole /. that of hym / we clayme oure gentile{ss}effor of oure eldres / may we no thyng claymeBut temporel thyng/ that man may hurte and mayme

{{Folio 72r}}

Eek e|uer|y wight/ woot this as wel IIf gentile{ss}e / were planted naturellyVn to a |cer|teyn lynage / doun the lynePryuee and apert/ thanne wolde they ne|uer|e fyneTo doon / of gentile{ss}e / the faire officeThey myghte do / no vileynye or vice¶Taak fyr / and bere it in the derke{s}te housBitwix this / and the mount of kauka{s}ousAnd lat men shette the dores / and go thenneYet wol the fyr / as faire lye and brenneAs twenty thou{s}and men / myghte it biholdeHis office naturel / ay wol it holdeVp |per|il of my lyf/ til that it dyeHere may ye se wel / how |þt| genteryeIs nat annexed / to po{ss}e{ss}io|un|Sith folk/ ne doon hir o|per|acio|un|Alwey / as dooth the fyr lo in his kyndeffor god it woot/ men may wel often fyndeA lordes sone / do shame and vileynyeAnd he |þt| wol han prys / of his gentryeffor he was born / of a gentil housAnd hadde hi{s}e eldres / noble and |ver|tuousAnd nyl hym seluen / do no gentil dedisNe folwen his gentil Aunce{s}tre / that deed isHe nys nat gentil / be he Duc/ or Erlffor vileynes synful dedes / maken a cherlffor gentile{ss}e / nys but renomeeOf thyne Aunce{s}tres / for hir hye bo|un|teeWhich is straunge thyng/ for thy |per|{s}oneThy gentile{ss}e / cometh fro god alloneThanne comth / oure verray gentile{ss}e of |gra|ceIt was no thyng/ biquethe vs / with oure place¶Thenketh how noble / as seith ValeriusWas thilke / Tullius ho{s}tilliusThat out of pouerte / roos to heigh noble{ss}eRedeth Senek/ and redeth eek BoeceTher shul ye {s}een expres / |þt| no drede isThat he is gentil / that dooth gentil dedisAnd ther fore / leue hou{s}bonde / I thus concludeAl were it/ that myne Aunce{s}tres weren rude

{{Folio 72v}}

Yet may the hye god / and {s}o hope I /Graunte me grace / to lyuen |ver|tuou{s}lyThanne am I gentil / whan |þt| I bigynneTo lyuen |ver|tuou{s}ly / and weyue synne¶And ther as ye / of po|uer|te me repreueThe hye god / on whom |þt| we bileueIn wilful po|uer|te / chees to lyue his lyf

. . .

And certes euery man / mayden / or wyfMay vnder{s}tonde / |þt| |Iesus| heuene kyng/Ne wolde nat che{s}e / a vicious lyuyng/Glad po|uer|te / is an hone{s}te thyng |cer|teynThis wol Senek/ and othere clerkes seynWho {s}o |þt| halt hym payd / of his pouerteI holde hym riche / al hadde he nat a sherteHe that coueiteth / is a poure wight/ffor he wolde han / that is nat in his myght/But he |þt| noght hath / ne coueiteth haueIs riche / al thogh we holde hym but a knaueVerray pouerte / is synne |prop|relyIuuenal seith / of pouerte myrily¶The poure man / whan he gooth by the weyeBiforn the theues / he may synge and pleyePouerte is hateful good / and as I ge{ss}eA ful greet brynge|re| / out of bi{s}yne{ss}eA greet amendere eek/ of SapienceTo hym / that taketh it in paciencePouerte is thyng/ al thogh it {s}eme elengePo{ss}e{ss}io|un| / that no wight wol chalengePouerte ful often / whan a man is loweMaketh hym self / and eek his god to knowePouerte / a spectacle is / as thynketh meThurgh which he may / his verray freendes seAnd ther fore sire / syn |þt| I noght yow greueOf my pouerte / namoore ye me repreue¶Now sire / of elde ye repreue meAnd certes sire / thogh noon auctoriteeWere in no book / ye gentils of honourSeyn / |þt| men an old wight/ sholde doon fauourAnd clepe hym fader / for youre gentile{ss}eAnd Auctours / shal I fynden / as I ge{ss}e

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¶Now ther ye seye / that I am foul and oldThanne drede yow noght/ to been a Cokewoldffor filthe and elde / al {s}o mote I theeBeen grete wardeyns / vp on cha{s}titeeBut nathelees / syn I knowe youre delit /I shal fulfille / youre worldly appetit/¶Chees now quod she / oon of thi{s}e thynges tweyeTo han me foul and old / til that I deyeAnd be to yow / a trewe humble wyfAnd ne|uer|e yow di{s}ple{s}e / in al my lyfOr ellis / ye wol han me / yong and fairAnd take youre auenture / of the repairThat shal be to youre hous / by cau{s}e of meOr in {s}om oother place / may wel beNow chees your seluen / wheither |þt| yow liketh¶This knyght auy{s}eth hym / and {s}oore sikethBut atte la{s}te / he seyde in this manereMy lady and my loue / and wyf {s}o deereI putte me / in youre wi{s}e gouerna|un|ceChe{s}eth you|re| self/ which |þt| may be moo{s}t ple{s}|_an|ceAnd moo{s}t honour to yow / and me al{s}oI do no fors / the wheither of the twoffor as yow liketh / it suffi{s}eth me¶Thanne haue I gete / of yow mai{s}trye / quod sheSyn I may che{s}e / and gouerne as me le{s}t/¶Ye |cer|tes wyf quod he / I holde it be{s}t/¶Kys me quod she / we be no lenger wrotheffor by my trouthe / I wol be to yow botheThis is to seyn / ye bothe fair and goodI pray to god / that I mote {s}teruen woodBut I to yow / be al {s}o good and treweAs euere was wyf / syn |þt| the world was neweAnd but I be to morn / as fair to seneAs any lady / Emperice / or QueeneThat is bitwix the E{s}t/ and eek the We{s}t/Do with my lyf/ and deth / right as yow le{s}t/Ca{s}t vp the Curtyn / looke how |þt| it isAnd whan the knyght/ say verraily al thisThat she {s}o fair was / and so yong ther to. . .

ffor ioye he hente hi|re| / in his armes two

{{Folio 73v}}

His herte bathed / in a bath of bli{ss}eA thou{s}and tyme a rewe / he gan hir ki{ss}eAnd she obeyed hym / in euery thyng/That myghte do hym ple{s}ance / or likyng/And thus they lyue / vn to hir lyues endeIn |per|fit ioye / and |Iesu| cri{s}t vs sendeHou{s}bondes meke / yonge / and fre{ss}h a beddeAnd grace / to|uer|byde hem that we weddeAnd eek / I praye |Iesu| shorte hir lyuesThat noght wol be go|uer|ned / by hir wyuesAnd olde / and angry nygardes of di{s}penceGod sende hem {s}oone / verray pe{s}tilence

¶Here endeth the Wyues tale of Bathe

© Geoffrey Chaucer