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17020

And right anoon ye schal se a good jape.
This cook schal drinke therof, if I may ;
Up peyn of deth he wol nought say me nay."
And certeinly, to tellen as it was,
Of this vessel the cook dronk fast, (allas !
What needid it ? he drank y-nough biforn);
And whan he hadde pouped in his horn,
To the Maunciple he took the gourd agayn.
And of that draught the cook was wonder fayn,
And thanked him in such wise as he couthe.
Than gan our host to laughe wonder louthe,
And sayd, “ I se wel it is necessarie
Wher that we go good drynk with us to carie;
For that wol torne rancour and desese
To accord and love, and many a wrong apese.
O thou Bacus, i-blessid be thin name,
That so canst torne ernest into game;
Worschip and thonke be to thy deité !
Of that matier ye get no more of me.
Tel on thi tale, Mauncipel, I the pray."
“ Wel, sir," quod he,“ now hearkyn what I say."

17030

THE MAUNCIPLES TALE.

WHAn Phebus duelt her in this erthe adoun,
As olde bookes maken mencioun,

17030—0 wrong apese.

I take Tyrwhitt's reading of this passage, because no better reading presents itself. The MSS. seem in general more or less corrupt. The Harl. MS. reads, many racour pese ; while in the Lansd. MS. it stands, mony worde to pese.

The Maunciples Tale. This tale is, of course, a medieval version of

17040

He was the moste lusty bachiler
Of al this world, and eek the best archer.
He slough Phiton the serpent, as he lay
Slepyng agayn the sonne upon a day;
And many another noble worthy dede
He with his bowe wrought, as men may rede.
Pleyen he couthe on every mynstralcye,
And synger, that it was a melodye
To heren of his cleere vois the soun.
Certes the kyng of Thebes, Amphioun,
That with his singyng wallid that citee,
Couth never synge half so wel as he.
Therto he was the semlieste man,
That is or was, siththen the world bigan ;
What nedith it his fetures to descrive ?
For in this worlde, is noon so faire on lyve.
He was therwith fulfild of gentilesce,
Of honour, and of parfyte worthinesse.

This Phebus, that was flour of bachilerie,
As wel in fredom, as in chivalrie,
For to disport, in signe of victorie
Of Phiton, so as telleth us the storie,
Was wont to bere in his hond a bowe.

17050

17060

an old classic story, the original of which will be found in the Metamorphoses of Ovid. The story is found in medieval writers under a variety of forms. One of them occurs in the old collection of tales entitled the Seven Sages; another version is given in Gower.

17053— fetures. The Harl. MS. reads forlune ; but the reading I have here adopted from the Lansd. MS. is evidently the more correct one.

17054-80 faire. The Harl. MS. has here, again, wbat appears to be an incorrect reading, noon such on lyve, and I have again followed the Lansd. MS.

17070

Now had this Phebus in his hous a crowe,
Which in a cage he fostred many a day,
And taught it speken, as men doon a jay.
Whit was this crowe, as is a snow-whyt swan,
And countrefete the speche of every man
He couthe, whan he schulde telle a tale.
Ther is withinne this world no nightingale
Ne couthe by an hundred thousend del
Singe so wonder merily and wel.
Now had this Phebus in his hous a wyf,
Which that he loved more than his lif,
And night and day did evermor diligence
Hir for to please, and doon hir reverence;
Sauf oonly, if the soth that I schal sayn,
Jalous he was, and wold have kept hir fayn,
For him were loth bijaped for to be ;
And so is every wight in such degré ;
But al for nought, for it availeth nought.
A good wyf, that is clene of werk and thought,
Schuld not be kept in noon awayt certayn;
And trewely the labour is in vayn
To kepe a schrewe, for it wil nought be.
This hold I for a verray nyceté,
To spille labour for to kepe wyves ;
Thus olde clerkes writen in her lyves.

But now to purpos, as I first bigan.
This worthi Phebus doth al that he can
To pleasen hir, wenyng by such plesaunce,
And for his manhod and his governaunce,
That no man schuld han put him fro hir grace.

17080

17090

17100

But God it woot, ther may no man embrace
As to distroy a thing, the which nature
Hath naturelly set in a creature.
Tak any brid, and put him in a cage,
And do al thin entent, and thy corrage,
To foster it tenderly with mete and drynk,
And with alle the deyntees thou canst think,
And keep it al so kyndly as thou may ;
Although his cage of gold be never so gay,
Yit hath this brid, by twenty thousand fold,
Lever to be in forest, wyld and cold,
Gon ete wormes, and such wrecchidnes.
For ever this brid wil doon his busynes
To scape out of his cage whan he may;
His liberté the brid desireth

aye.
Let take a cat, and foster him wel with mylk
And tender fleisch, and mak his bed of silk,
And let him see a mous go by the wal,
Anoon he wayveth mylk and fleisch, and al,
And every deynté which is in that hous,
Such appetit hath he to ete the mous.
Lo, heer hath kynd his dominacioun,
And appetit flemeth discretioun.

17110

17093—distroy. The Lansd. MS. has discryve, and Tyrwhitt has adopted distreine, which may perhaps be the best reading.

17095-Tak any brid. This and the following examples are all taken, as observed by Tyrwhitt, from the Roman de la Rose, but it is hardly necessary to give particular references to each.

17108-his ed. The Lansd. MS. reads couche, which adopted by Tyrwhitt. It may be observed that Tyrwhitt's text speaks of the cat in the feminine gender, whereas the Harl. and Lansd. MSS. use the masculine, as in the present text.

17120

Al so a sche wolf hath a vilayns kynde ;
The lewidest wolf that sche may fynde,
Or lest of reputacioun, him wol sche take
In tyme whan hir lust to have a make.
Alle this ensamples tel I by this men
That ben untrewe, and nothing by wommen.
For men han ever a licorous appetit
On lower thing to parforme her delit
Than on her wyves, ben thay never so faire,
Ne never so trewe, ne so debonaire.
Fleissch is so newfangil, with meschaunce,
That we can in no thinge have plesaunce
That souneth into vertue

eny

while.
This Phebus, which that thought upon no gile,
Deceyved was for al his jolité;
For under him another hadde sche,
A man of litil reputacioun,
Nought worth to Phebus in comparisoun;
Mor harm it is; it happeth ofte so;
Of which ther cometh bothe harm and woo.

And so bifel, whan Phebus was absent,
His wif anoon hath for hir lemman sent.
Hir lemman ? certes, this is a knavisch speche.
Forgiveth it me, and that I

yow

biseche.
The wise Plato saith, as ye may rede,
The word mot neede accorde with the dede,
If men schal telle propurly a thing,
The word mot corde with the thing werkyng.

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17142—mot corde with the thing werkyng. This is the reading of the Harl. MS., which makes perfectly good sense. Tyrwhitt, like the Lansd. MS., reads must cosin be to the werking.

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