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Among his verses, how ther was a cok,
That, for a prestes sone gaf him a knok
Upon his leg, whil he was yong and nyce,
He made him for to lese his benefice.
But certeyn ther is no comparisoun
Betwix the wisdom and discressioun
Of youre fader, and of his subtilté.
Now syngeth, sire, for seinte Charité ;
Let se, can ye your fader countrefete ?"
This Chaunteclere his wynges gan to bete,
As man that couthe his tresoun nought espye,
So was he ravyssht with his flaterie.
Allas ! ye lordlynges, many a fals flatour
Is in your hous, and many a losengour,
That pleasen yow wel more, by my faith,
Than he that sothfastnesse unto yow saith.
Redith Ecclesiast of flaterie;
Beth war, ye lordes, of her treccherie.
This Chaunteclere stood heighe upon his toos,
Strecching his necke, and held his yhen cloos,
And gan to crowe lowde for the noones;
And daun Russel the fox stert up at oones,
And by the garget hente Chaunteclere,
And on his bak toward the woode him bere.
For yit was there no man that him sewed.
O desteny, that maist not ben eschiewed !
Allas, that Chaunteclere fleigh fro the bemis !
16812-hous. The Lansdowne MS. reads courte, which is adopted by Tyrwhitt.
16820-daun Russel. Russel was a common name given to the fox, from his colour.
Allas, his wif ne roughte nought of dremis !
And on a Friday fel al this mischaunce.
O Venus, that art goddes of pleasaunce,
Syn that thy servant was this Chaunteclere,
And in thy service did al his powere,
More for delit, than the world to multiplie,
Why woldest thou suffre him on thy day to dye?
O Gaufred, dere mayster soverayn,
That, whan the worthy king Richard was slayn
With schot, compleynedist his deth so sore,
Why ne had I nought thy sentence and thy lore,
The Friday for to chiden, as dede ye?
(For on a Fryday sothly slayn was he).
Than wold I schewe how that I couthe pleyne,
For Chauntecleres drede, and for his peyne.
Certis such cry ne lamentacioun
Was never of ladies maad, whan Ilioun
16833–0 Gaufred. Geoffrey de Vinsauf, the author of a celebrated medieval treatise on writing poetry, entitled, Nova Poetria. Tyrwhitt has quoted the bombastic lines on the death of Richard I, which are given as a specimen of the plaintive style, and are here ridiculed by Chaucer. They are,
Neustria, sub clypeo regis defensa Ricardi,
Indefensa modo, gestu testare dolorem.
Exundent oculi lacrymas; exterminet ora
Pallor; connodet digitos tortura; cruentet
Interiora dolor, et verberet æthera clamor.
Tota peris ex morte sua. Mors non fuit ejus,
Sed tua; non una, sed publica mortis origo.
O Veneris lacrymosa dies! o sydus amarum!
Illa dies tua nox fuit, et Venus illa venenum.
Illa dedit vulnus, &c.
These lines are sufficient to shew the object, and the propriety, of
Chaucer's ridicule. The whole poem is printed in Leyser's Hist. Po.
Med. Ævi, p. 862-978.
16836-sentence. This is the reading of the Harl. and Lansd. MSS.; Tyrwhitt prints science, which weakens the sense.
Was wonne, and Pirrus with his strit swerd,
Whan he had hente kyng Priam by the berd,
And slaugh him (as saith us Eneydos),
As maden alle the hennes in the clos,
Whan thay had sayn of Chauntecler the sight.
But soveraignly dam Pertelote schright,
Ful lowder than did Hasdrubaldes wyf,
Whan that hir housebond had lost his lyf,
And that the Romayns had i-brent Cartage,
Sche was so ful of torment and of rage,
That wilfully unto the fuyr sche stert,
And brend hirselven with a stedfast hert.
O woful hennes, right so cride ye,
As, whan that Nero brente the cité
Of Rome, criden the senatoures wyves,
For that her housbondes losten alle here lyves ;
Withouten gult this Nero hath hem slayn.
Now wol I torne to my matier agayn.
The sely wydow, and hir doughtres tuo,
Herden these hennys crie and maken wo,
And out at dores starte thay anoon,
And sayden the fox toward the woode is goon,
And bar upon his bak the cok away;
They criden, "out! harrow and wayleway!
Ha, ha, the fox!” and after him thay ran,
And eek with staves many another man;
Ran Colle our dogge, and Talbot, and Garlond,
And Malkyn, with a distaf in hir hond;
Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges
So were they fered for berkyng of dogges,
And schowtyng of the men and wymmen eke,
Thay ronne that thay thought her herte breke.
Thay yelleden as feendes doon in helle;
The dokes criden as men wold hem quelle ;
for fere flowen over the trees;
Out of the hyve came the swarm of bees;
So hidous was the noyse, a benedicite !
Certes he Jakke Straw, and his megné,
Ne maden schoutes never half so schrille,
Whan that thay wolden eny Flemyng kille,
As thilke day was maad upon the fox.
Of bras thay broughten hornes and of box,
Of horn and boon, in which thay blew and powped,
And therwithal thay schryked and thay howped;
It semed, as that heven schulde falle.
Now, goode men, I pray herkneth alle;
Lo, how fortune torneth sodeinly
The hope and pride eek of her enemy.
This cok that lay upon this foxes bak,
In al his drede, unto the fox he spak,
And saide, “sire, if that I were as ye,
Yet schuld I sayn (as wis God helpe me),
Turneth agein, ye proude cherles alle;
A verray pestilens upon yow falle.
Now am I come unto this woodes syde,
Maugré youre hede, the cok schal heer abyde ;
I wol him ete in faith, and that anoon."
16884—hornes. Tyrwhitt reads beemes.
The Harl. MS. reads envy; but as this does not seem to make good sense, I have taken the reading printed by Tyrwhitt.
The fox answerd, “ in faith, it schal be doon."
And whil he spak that word, al sodeinly
This cok brak from his mouth delyverly,
And heigh upon a tree he fleigh anoon.
And whan the fox seigh that he was i-goon,
“ Allas!" quod he, “o Chaunteclere, allas!
I have to yow," quod he, “y.don trespas,
Inasmoche as I makid
Whan I yow hent, and brought out of the yerd;
But, sire, I dede it in no wicked entent:
Com doun, and I schal telle yow what I ment.
16910 I schal say soth to yow, God help me so." “ Nay than," quod he, “I schrew us bothe tuo. And first I schrew myself, bothe blood and boones, If thou bigile me any ofter than oones. Thou schalt no more thurgh thy flaterye Do me to synge and wynke with myn ye. For he that wynkith, whan he scholde see, Al wilfully, God let him never the.” “ Nay,” quod the fox, “but God give him meschaunce, That is so undiscret of governaunce,
16920 That jangleth, whan he scholde holde his pees.”
Lo, such it is for to be recheles
And necgligent, and trust on flaterie.
that holde this tale a folye,
As of a fox, or of a cok or hen,
Takith the moralité therof, goode men.
For seint Poul saith, that all that writen is,
To oure doctrine it is i-write i-wis.
Takith the fruyt, and let the chaf be stille.