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Thou art a maister whan thou art at hoom,
No pover cloysterer, ne non novys,
But a governour bothe wily and wys;
And therwithal of brawne and of bones
A wel faryng persone for the noones.
I praye God give him confusioun,
That first the broughte to religioun !
Thow woldist han be a trede-foul aright;
Haddist thou as gret a leve as thou hast might
To performe al thi wil in engendrure,
Thow haddist bigeten many a creature.
Allas! why werest thou so wyd a cope ?
God gif me sorwe! and I were a pope,
Nought only thou, but every mighty man,
Though he were schore brode upon


Schuld han a wif; for al this world is lorn,
Religioun hath take up al the corn
Of tredyng, and we burel men ben schrympes ;
Of feble trees ther cometh feble ympes.
This makith that oure heires ben so sclender
And feble, that thay may not wel engender.
This maketh that oure wyfes wol assaye
Religious folk, for thay may bettre paye
Of Venus payementes than may we.


15424-a maister. The Harl. MS. reads an officer, which probably slipped in by the negligence of a scribe, who had those words on his ear froin line 15421. The present reading is given from the Lansd. MS. and Tyrwhitt.

15426—bothe. I have added this word as apparently necessary to the metre, though found neither in the Harl. MS nor Lansd. MS.

15432—thou hast. These words are added from the Lansd. MS., and seem necessary to the sense and metre.


God woot, no lusscheburghes paye ye !
But beth nought wroth, my lorde, though I play,
For oft in game a soth I have herd say.”

This worthy monk took al in pacience,
And saide, "I wol doon al my diligence,
Als fer as souneth into honesté,
To telle yow a tale, or tuo or thre;
And if


lust to herken hider-ward, I will yow say the lif of seint Edward, Or elles first tregedis wil I yow telle,

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15448—lusscheburghes. A somewhat similar comparison occurs in Piers Ploughman, 1. 10322.

“ Ac there is a defaute in the folk
That the feith kepeth;
Wherfore folk is the febler,
And noght ferm of bileve,
As in lussheburwes is a luther alay
And yet loketh he like a sterlyng.
The merk of that monee is good,

Ac the metal is feeble."
In fact, the coin alluded to was a base money (a luther, or bad, alay),
which was brought into this country in considerable quantities in the
times of the first Edwards, and, as we see from the specimens existing, it
must when new have easily passed for the sterling money of the English
kings. The name appears to have been derived from its being struck at
Luxemburg, by the counts. The annexed cut represents one of these
coins; the legend on the obverse, GVALE DE LVSENB., and on the reverse

MONETA SERENE. It was struck
by Gualeran, count of Luxem-
burg, in the latter end of the
13th century

All sorts of false money ap.
pear to have been continually
brought into this country in the
Middle Ages; but these lussche.

burghes seem to have been the greatest cause of annoyance. In the year 1346 the petition of the Commons in the parliament assembled at Westminster, pointed out several mal-practices which were supposed to be the cause of the scarcity of good money at that time, and began with stating, that many merchants and others carried the good money out of the realm, and brought in its room false money called lusshebourues, which were worth only eight shillings the pound, or

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Of which I have an hundred in my celle.
Tregedis is to sayn a certeyn storie,
As olde bookes maken us memorie,
Of hem that stood in greet prosperité,
And is y-fallen out of heigh degré
Into miserie, and endith wrecchedly;
And thay ben versifyed comunly
Of six feet, which men clepe exametron.

ben eek endited many oon;
In metre eek, in many a sondry wise ;
Lo, this declaryng ought y-nough suffise.
Now herkneth, if yow likith for to heere ;
But first I yow biseche in this matiere,
Though I by ordre telle not thise thinges,
Be it of popes, emperours, or kynges,
After her age, as men may write fynde,
But telle hem som bifore and som byhynde,
As it cometh now to my remembraunce,
Haveth me excused of myn ignoraunce.


less; by which means the importers, and they who took them at a low price to utter again, were suddenly, wrongfully, and beyond measure enriched; whilst they who were unable to distinguish the said money were cheated and impoverished, and the whole realm was fraudulently filled with those base coins. In 1347, the false lusshebourues still continued to be brought into the kingdom in great quantities, and the Commons petitioned that the guilty might suffer the punishment of drawing and hanging. In 1348, it was again necessary to forbid the circulation of lussheburghs; and in 1351, the Statute of Purveyors was passed, which (cap. 11) declares what offences shall be adjudged treason, amongst which is this : if a man counterfeit the king's seal on his money, and if a man bring false money into the realm, counterfeit of the money of England, as the money called lushburgh, or other like to the said money of Englar etc.

16467-I have ventured to emendate this line from the Lansd. MS. The Harl. MS. has, " And in inetre eek, and in sondry wise", in which both sense and metre suffer.


I wol by-waile, in maner of tregedye,
The harm of hem that stood in heigh degré,
And fallen so ther is no remedye
To bring hem out of her adversité ;

For certeynly, whan fortune lust to flee,
Ther may no man the cours of hir whiel holde ;
Let no man truste in blynd prosperité,
Beth war by these ensamples trewe and olde.

At Lucifer, though he an aungil were,
And nought a man, at him wil I bygynne ;
For though fortune may non aungel dere,
From heigh degré yit fel he for his synne
Doun into helle, wher he yet is inne.
O Lucifer! brightest of aungels alle,
Now art thou Sathanas, that maist nought twynne
Out of miserie in which thou art falle.

Lo Adam, in the feld of Damassene


The Monkes Tale. This tale is evidently founded upon Boccaccio's celebrated work De casibus virorum illustrium; but Chaucer has introduced the several stories according to his own fancy, and has often taken them from other sources. They are not contained in the same order in all the manuscripts of Chaucer.

15482the cours of hir whiel holde. Tyrwhitt has adopted a reading which is far less natural and expressive, in the language of Chaucer's age,

“ of hire the course withholde". The wheel of fortune is a well known emblem not only in medieval literature, but in medieval art.

15493-Lo Adam.-Adam comes first in the stories of Boccaccio. Lydgate, in his translation of Boccace, says of Adam and Eve,

“ Of slime of the erth in Damascene the felde

God made them above eche creature."


With Goddes oughne fynger wrought was he,
And nought bigeten of mannes sperma unclene,
And welt al paradys, savyng oon tre.
Had never worldly man suche degré
As Adam, til he for mysgovernance
Was dryven out of heigh prosperité,
To labour, and to helle, and to meschaunce.

Lo Sampson, whiche that was annunciate
By thangel, long er his nativité,
And was to God Almighty consecrate,
And stood in nobles whil that he might se.
Was never such another as was he,
To speke of strength, and therto hardynesse ;
But to his wyfes tolde he his secré,
Thurgh which he slough himselfe for wrecchidnesse.

Sampson, this noble and myhty champioun,
Withouten wepen save his hondes tueye,
He slowhe and al to-rent the lyoun
To-ward his weddynge walkinge be the waie.
The false wif couthe him plese and preie
Til sche his counseile knewe, and sche untrewe
Unto his foos his consel gan bewreye,
And him for-soke, and toke another newe.

Thre hundred foxis tok Sampson for ire,


16501Lo Sampson. Chaucer appears to have taken the story of Samson directly from the book of Judges, which he quotes in express words a few lines further on.

15509—This stanza has been accidentally omitted in the Harl. MS, and is here inserted from the Lansd. MS. It represents the fourteenth chapter of the book of Judges.

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