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Save wyn and wymmen, no thing might aswage
His heigh entent in armes and labour,
So was he ful of leonyne corage.
What pité were it to him, though I yow tolde
Of Darius, and an hundred thousand mo
Of kynges, princes, dukes, and eorles bolde,
Which he conquered and brought unto wo ?
I say, as fer as men may ryde or go,
The world was his, what schold I more devyse ?
For though I write or tolde you evermo,
Of his knighthood it mighte nought suffise.
Twelf yer he regned, as saith Machabé ;
Philippes son of Macedon he was,
That first was king in Grece that contré.
O worthy gentil Alisaundre, alas !
That ever schulde falle such a caas !
Empoysoned of thin oughne folk thou were ;
Thyn sis fortune is torned into an aas,
And right for the ne wepte sche never a teere
Who schal me give teeres to compleigne
The deth of gentiles and of fraunchise,
That al the worlde had in his demeigne;
And yit him thought it mighte nought suffice,
So ful was his corage of high emprise.
Allas ! who schal helpe me to endite
Fals infortune, and poysoun to devyse,
The whiche two of al this wo I wyte.
16132-leonyne. I have adopted this reading from Tyrwhitt. That of the Harl. MS., lumyne, seems to make no sense, and the reading of the Lapsd. MS., loveinge, is no better.
By wisedom, manhod, and by gret labour,
Fro humblehede to royal magesté
Up roos he, Julius the conquerour,
That wan al thoccident by land and see,
By strengthe of hond or elles by treté,
And unto Rome made hem contributarie,
And siththe of Rome themperour was he,
Til that fortune wax his adversarie.
O mighty Cesar, that in Thessalie
Agains Pompeus, fader thin in lawe,
That of the orient had al the chivalrie,
Als fer as that the day bigynnes to dawe,
Thorugh thi knighthod thou hast him take and slawe,
Save fewe folk that with Pompeus fledde ;
Thurgh which thou puttist al thorient in awe ;
Thanke fortune that so wel the spedde.
But now a litel while I wil bywaile
This Pompeus, the noble governour
Of Rome, which that flowe fro this bataile ;
Alas ! I say, oon of his men, a fals traitour,
His heed of smoot, to wynne his favour
Of Julius, and him the heed he brought.
Alas ! Pompeus, of the orient conquerour,
That fortune to such a fyn the brought.
To Rome agayn repaireth Julius,
With his triumphe laurial ful hye.
But on a tyme Brutus and Cassius,
That ever had to his estat envye,
Ful prively hath made conspiracie
Agains this Julius in subtil wise ;
And cast the place in which he schulde dye
With boydekyns, as I schal yow devyse.
This Julius to the capitoile went
Upon a day, as he was wont to goon;
And in the capitoil anoon him hent
This false Brutus, and his other foon,
And stiked him with boydekyns anoon
With many a wounde, and thus thay let him lye.
But never gront he at no strook but oon,
Or elles at tuo, but if the storie lye.
So manly was this Julius of hert,
And so wel loved estatly honesté,
That though his deedly woundes sore smert,
His mantil over his hipes caste he,
For no man schulde seen his priveté.
And as he lay deyinge in a traunce,
And wiste wel that verrayly deed was he,
Of honesté yet had he remembraunce.
Lucan, to the this story I recomende,
And to Swetoun and to Valirius also,
That al the story writen word and ende,
How to these grete conqueroures tuo
Fortune was first frend and siththen fo.
No man trust upon hir favour longe,
But have hir in awayt for evermo,
Witnesse on alle thise conqueroures stronge.
This riche Cresus, whilom king of Lyde,
16213-Cresus. The Harl. MS. has Gresus all through, which I
Of which Cresus Cirus him sore dradde,
Yet was he caught amyddes al his pride,
And to the fuyr to brenne him men him ladde.
But such a rayn doun fro the heven schadde,
That slough the fuyr and made him to eschape.
But to be war yet grace noon he hadde,
Til fortune on the galwes made him gape.
Whan he was eschaped, he couth nought stent
For to bygynne a newe werre agayn ;
He wende wel, for that fortune him sent
Such hap that he eschaped thurgh the rayn,
That of his foos he mighte not be slayn.
And eek a sweven upon a night he mette,
Of which he was so proud and eek so fayn,
That in vengeaunce he al his herte sette.
Upon a tree he was set, as him thought,
Wher Jubiter him wissch bothe bak and side,
And Phebus eek a fair towail him brought
To drye him with, and therfore wax his pride;
And to his doughter that stood him biside,
Which that he knew in heigh science abounde,
And bad hire telle what it signifyde,
And sche his dreem right thus gan expounde.
“The tree," quod sche, “ the galwes is to mene, And Jubiter betokenith snow and rayn,
have not thought it necessary to retain. Tyrwhitt observes that,—“In the opening of this story, our author has plainly copied the following passage of his own version of Boethius, B. ii, Pro. 2: · Wiste thou not how Cresus, king of Lydiens, of whiche king Cyrus was ful sore agaste a litel before, etc. But the greatest part is taken from the Rom, de la Rose, ver. 6817-6912".
16217– heven. The Lansd. MS. has walkyn, and Tyrwhitt welken.
THE PROLOGE OF THE NONNE PRESTES TALE.
And Phebus with his towail so clene,
Tho ben the sonne stremes, soth to sayn.
Thow schalt enhangid ben, fader, certayn;
Rayn shal the wasch, and sonne schal the drye."
Thus warned sche him ful plat and ek ful playn,
His doughter, which that called was Phanie.
And hanged was Cresus this proude king,
His real trone might him not availe.
Tregedis, ne noon other maner thing,
Ne can I synge, crie, ny biwayle,
But for that fortune wil alway assayle
With unwar strook the regnes that ben proude ;
For whan men trusteth hir, than wil sche faile,
And cover hir brighte face with a clowde.
THE PROLOGE OF THE NONNE PRESTES TALE.
Ho, sire!" quod the knight, no more of this; That ye han said is right y.nough y-wys, And mochil mor; for litel hevynesse Is right i-nough for moche folk, I gesse. I say for
me, it is a gret disease, Wher as men han ben in gret welthe and ease, To hieren of her sodeyn fal, allas !
16247 – Tregedis. These two lines are given differeutly in Tyrwhitt, and perhaps better, as follows:
• Tragedie is non other maner thing,
Ne can in singing crien ne bewaile". And he observes, “ This reflection seems to have been suggested by one which follows soon after the mention of Cresus in the passage just cited from Boethius. •What other thing bewaylen the cryinges of tragedyes but onely the dedes of fortune, that with an aukewarde stroke overtourneth the realmes of grete nobleye?''