Page images
PDF
EPUB

16880

That Alisaunder wan by heigh maistrye,
Ful many an hethen wroughtest thou ful wo,
Of which thin oughne lieges had envye;
And for no thing but for thy chivalrie,
Thay in thy bed han slayn the by the morwe.
Thus can fortune the whel governe and

gye, And out of joye bringe men into sorwe.

De Barnabo comite Mediolano.
Of Melayn grete Barnabo Viscount,
God of delyt and scourge of Lumbardye,
Why schuld thyn infortune I nought accounte,
Syn in astaat thou clombe were so hye;
Thy brother sone, that was thy double allie,
For he thy nevew was and sone in lawe,
Withinne his prisoun made the to dye;
But why ne how, not I, that thou were slawe.

De Hugilino comite Pise.
Of the erl Hugilin of Pise the langour
Ther may no tonge telle for pité.
But litil out of Pise stant a tour,
In whiche tour in prisoun put was he;
And with him been his litil children thre,

16890

at the beginning of the Canterbury Tales (1. 51). This prince was assassinated in 1639.

15885–Of Melayn grete Barnabo. Bernabo Visconti, duke of Milan, was deposed by bis nephew and thrown into prison, where he died in 1385. This tragedy must have occurred 80 recently when Chaucer wrote, that we do not wonder at his not knowing the circumstances of his death.

16886—scourge. I have adopted this reading from the Lansd. MS., in place of strength, given by the Harl. MS., wbich seems evidently incorrect.

15893—Of the erl Hugilin. The story of Hugilin of Pise had been told by Dante, in the Inferno, canto 33, whom Chaucer quotes directly as his authority.

16900

16910

Theldest skarsly fyf yer was of age;
Allas ! fortune! it was gret cruelté
Suche briddes to put in such a cage.

Dampnyd he was to deye in that prisoun,
For Roger, which that bisschop was of Pise,
Had on him maad a fals suggestioun;
Thurgh which the peple gan on him arise,
And putte him in prisoun in such wise
As ye han herd, and mete and drynk he hadde
So smal that wel unnethe it may suffise,
And therwithal it was ful pore and badde.

And on a day bifel that in that hour
Whan that his mete was wont to be brought,
The gayler schet the dores of that tour.
He herd it wel, but he saugh it nought,
And in his hert anoon ther fel a thought
That thay for hungir wolde doon him dyen.
“ Alas!” quod he, “ allas ! that I was wrought !"
Therwith the teeres felle fro his eyen.

His yongest sone, that thre yer was of age,
Unto him sayde, “ Fader, why do ye wepe ?
Whan wil the gayler bringen oure potage?
Is ther no morsel bred that ye doon kepe?
I am so hongry that I may not sleepe.
Now wolde God that I might slepe ever!
Than schuld not hunger in my

wombe

crepe. Ther is no thing save bred that me were lever.”

Thus day by day this child bigan to crie,
Til in his fadres barm adoun he lay,
And sayde, “Far wel, fader, I moot dye !"

15920

And kist his fader, and dyde the same day.
And whan the woful fader deed it say,
For wo his armes tuo he gan to byte,

51930 And sayde, “ Fortune, alas and waylaway! Thin false querel al my woo I wyte."

His childer wende that it for hongir was, That he his armes grew, and nought for wo, And sayden, “ Fader, do nought so, allas ! But rather et the fleisch upon us tuo. Oure fleisch thou gave us, oure fleissh thou take us fro, And ete y-nough;" right thus thay to him seyde. And after that, withinne a day or tuo, Thay layde hem in his lappe adoun and deyde.

15940 Himself despeired eek for honger starf. Thus ended is this mighty eorl of Pise; For his estate fortune fro him carf. Of this tregede it ought y-nough suffise ; Who so wil it hiere in lenger wise, Rede the gret poet of Itaile That highte Daunt, for he can it devise, Fro poynt to poynt nought oon word wil he fayle.

De Nerone. Although Nero were als vicious

fend that lith ful lowe adoun, Yit he, as tellith us Swethoneus, This wyde world had in subjeccioun,

As any

15950

16932– The Lansd. MS. has whele, which is perhaps the better reading.

15949--Although Nero. Although Chaucer quotes Suetonius, his account of Nero is really taken from the Roman de la Rose, and from Boethius, de Consolat. Philos., lib. ii, met. 6.

15960

Bothe est and west and septemtrioun.
Of rubies, safers, and of perles white,
Were alle his clothes embroudid up and doun;
For he in gemmis gretly gan delite.

More delycat, more pompous of array,
More proud was never emperour than he.
That ylke cloth that he had wered a day,
After that tyme he nolde it never se.
Nettis of gold thred had he gret plenté,
To fissche in Tyber, whan him lust to pleye.
His willes were as lawe in his degré,
For fortune as his frend wold him obeye.

He Rome brent for his delicacie ;
The senatours he slough upon a day,
To here how men wolde

wepe
and

crye;
And slough his brother, and by his suster lay.
His modir made he in pitous array,
For hire wombe slyt he, to by-holde
Wher he conceyved was, so waylaway !
That he so litel of his moodir tolde.

15970

15953—and septemtrioun. This line stands as here printed in the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. Tyrwhitt inserts south (south and septemtrion), and observes : “ The MSS. read north; but there can be no doubt of the propriety of the correction, which was made, I believe, in Ed. Urr. In the Rom. de la R., from whence great part of this tragedy of Nero is translated, the passage stands thus, 6501.

Ce desloyal, que je te dy,
Et d'Orient et de Midy,
D'Occident, de Septentrion,

Tint-il la jurisdicion." 15963-willes. The Lansd. MS. has lustes, the reading adopted by Tyrwhitt. I am inclined to prefer the reading of the Harl. Ms., which avoids the repetition of the word from the previous line.

16970_hire wombe slyt he. So the Harl, and Lansd. MSS.; Tyr. whitt reads, he hire wombe let slitte.

15980

No teer out of his eyen for that sight
Ne came; but sagde, a fair womman was sche.
Gret wonder is that he couthe or might
Be domesman on hir dede beauté.
The wyn to bringen him comaundid he,
And drank anoon, noon other wo he made.
Whan might is torned unto cruelté,
Allas ! to deepe wil the venym

wade.
In youthe a maister had this emperour,
To teche him letterure and curtesye ;
For of moralité he was the flour,
And in his tyme, but if bokes lye.
And whil his maister had of him maistrie,
He made him so connyng and so souple,
That long tyme it was or tyrannye
Or ony vice dorst on him uncouple.

This Seneca, of which that I devyse,
Bycause Nero had of him such drede,
For fro vices he wol him chastise
Discretly as by word, and nought by dede.
“ Sir," wold he sayn,

an emperour mot neede
Be vertuous and hate tyrannye.”
For which he in a bath made him to bleede

15990

15976-on hir dede beauté. The word dede, omitted in the Harl. MS., is evidently necessary for the sense and measure. Chaucer is translating the words of Boethius, lib.ü, met. 6,

“Ora non tinxit lacrymis, sed esse

Censor extincti potuit decoris"; which he has given thus in his prose version of Boethius, “ Ne no tere wette his face, but he was so harde harted, that he might be domesman, or judge, of her dedde beauté". In both, domesman represents the Latin

censor.

« PreviousContinue »