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The thar not drede for to be bywrayd ;
But he that hath myssayd, I dar wel sayn,
He may by no way clepe his word agayn.
Thing that is sayd is sayd, and forth it goth,
Though him repent, or be him never so loth,
He is his thral, to whom that he hath sayd
A tale, of which he is now yvel apayd.
My sone, be war, and be noon auctour newe
Of tydyngs, whether thay ben fals or trewe ;
Wher so thou comest, amonges heih or lowe,
Kep wel thy tonge, and thenk

upon

the crowe.

17290

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THE PROLOGE OF THE PERSONES TALE.

By that the Maunciple had his tale endid,

17291-be noon auctour newe. This is taken also from Cato, lib. i, dist. 2,–

Rumores fuge, ne incipias novus auctor haberi, Which Chaucer seems to have read,

Rumoris fuge ne incipias novus auctor haberi. 17299_Ten. I have not ventured to change the reading of the Harl. MS., which is partly supported by that of the Lansd. MS. Than. Tyrwhitt, who reads foure, makes the following observation on this passage. “In this Prologue, which introduces the last tale upon the journey to Canterbury, Chaucer has again pointed out to us the time of the day; but the hour by the clock is very differently represented in the MSS. In some it is ten, in others tuo: in most of the best MSS. foure" (Tyrwhitt's judgment of the MSS. is not to be depended upon), “and in one five. According to the phænomena here mentioned, the sun being 290 high, and the length of the shadow to the projecting body as eleven to six, it was between foure and five. As by this reckoning there were at least three hours left to sunset, one does not well see with what propriety the host admonishes the person to haste him, because the sonne wol adoun, and to be 'fructuous in litel space; and indeed the person, knowing probably how much time he had good, seems to have paid not the least regard to his admonition; for his tale, if it may be so called, is twice as long as any of the others. It is entitled in some MSS. Tractatus de Pænitentia, pro fabula, ut dicitur, Rectoris; and I much suspect that it is a translation of some such treatise."

17300

The sonne fro the south line is descendid
So lowe, that it nas nought to my sight
Degrees nyne and twenty as in hight.
Ten on the clokke it was, as I

gesse,
For enleven foote, or litil more or lesse,
My schadow was at thilk tyme of the yere,
Of which feet as my lengthe parted were
In sixe feet equal of proporcioun.
Therwith the mones exaltacioun,
In mena Libra, alway gan ascende,
As we were entryng at a townes ende.
For which our host, as he was wont to gye,
As in this caas, our joly compaignye,
Sayd in this wise: “Lordings, everichoon,
Now lakketh us no moo tales than oon,

17310

17305-In mena Libra. “ This is a very obscure passage.

Some of the MSS. read I mene Libra. According to the reading which I have followed, exaltation is not to be considered as a technical term, but as signifying simply rising ; and the sense will be, that the moon's rising in the middle of Libra, was continually ascending, etc. If exaltation be taken in its technical meaning, as explained in a former note, it will be impossible to make any sense of either of the readings; for the exaltation of the moon was not in Libra, but in Taurus. Kalendrier des Bergiers, sign. i, ult. Mr. Speght, I suppose, being aware of this, altered Libra into Taurus; but he did not consider, that the sun, which has just been said to be descending, was at that time in Taurus, and that cousequently Taurus must also have been descending. Libra therefore, should by no means be parted with. Being in that part of the zodiac which is nearly opposite to Taurus, the place of the sun, it is very properly represented as ascending above the horizon toward the time of the sun's setting. If any alteration were to be admitted, I should be for reading

Therwith Saturnes exaltation,

I mene Libra, alway gan ascendeT'he exaltation of Saturn was in Libra. Kalendrier des Bergers, sign. K. i.”Tyrwhitt.

17306-a townes. The Lansd. MS. reads, at the thropos ende.

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Fulfilled is my sentens and my decré ;
I trowe that we han herd of ech degré.
Almost fulfilled is myn ordynaunce ;
I pray to God so geve him right good chaunce,
That tellith to us his tale lustily.
Sir prest," quod he, "artow a vicory?
Or artow a persoun ? say soth, by thy fay.
Be what thou be, ne breke nought oure play ;
For every man, save thou, hath told his tale.
Unbocle, and schew us what is in thy male.
For trewely me thinketh by thy chier,
Thou scholdist wel knyt up a gret matier.
Tel us a tale anoon, for cokkes boones!”

This Persoun him answerde al at oones :
“ Thow getist fable noon i-told for me,
For Poul, that writes unto Thimothé,
Repreveth hem that weyveth sothfastnesse,
And tellen fables, and such wrecchednesse.
Why schuld I sowen draf out of my fest,
Whan I may sowe whete, if that me lest ?
For which I say, if that yow lust to hiere
Moralité and vertuous matiere,
And thanne that ye wil give me audience,
I wol ful fayn at Cristis reverence
Do yow plesaunce leful, as I can.
But trusteth wel, I am a suthern man,
I can not geste, rum, raf, ruf, by letter,

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17323—tale. The Lansd. MS. reads fable, which is the reading adopted by Tyrwhitt, and it seems to be authorized by the parson's reply.

17337—rum, raf, ruf. This seems generally to be understood as an ironical allusion to the popular alliterative verse of Chaucer's age, in contradistinction to rhyme, which is spoken of in the line following.

tale in prose,

17340

17350

Ne, God wot, rym hold 1 but litel better.
And therfor, if yow lust, I wol not glose,
I wol

yow
telle

a mery
To knyt up al this fest, and make an ende ;
And Jhesu for his

grace

wit me sende
To schewe yow the way, in this viage,
Of thilke perfyt glorious pilgrimage
That hatte Jerusalem celestial.
And if ye vouchesauf, anoon I schal
Bygynne my tale, for which I yow pray
Telle your avis, I can no better say.
But natheles this meditacioun
I put it ay under correccioun
Of clerkes, for I am not textuel ;
I take but the sentens, trustith wel.
Therfor I make protestacioun,
That I wol stonde to correccioun."

Upon this word we han assented soone.
For, as it semed, it was for to done,
To enden in som vertuous sentence,
And for to geve

him
space

and audience;
And bad oure host he schulde to him say,
That alle we to telle his tale him pray.
Our host hadde the wordes for us alle:
“Sir prest,” quod he, “now faire yow bifalle;
Say what yow lust, and we wil gladly hiere.”
And with that word he said in this manere ;
“Telleth," quod he, "your meditacioun;
But hasteth yow, the sonne wol adoun.
Beth fructuous, and that in litel space,
And to do wel God sende

yow

his grace."

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17360

THE PERSONES TALE.

Jer. 6o. State super vias, et videte et interrogate de

semitis antiquis quæ sit via bona, et ambulate in ea, et

invenietis refrigerium animabus vestris, etc. OWRE swete Lord God of heven, that no man wil perische, but wol that we comen alle to the knowleche of him, and to the blisful lif that is perdurable, ammonestith us by the prophet Jeremye, that saith in this wise: Stondeth

upon the weyes, and seeth and axeth of olde pathes, that is to sayn, of old sentence, which is the good way, and walketh in that way, and ye schul fynde refresshyng for youre soules, etc. Many ben the wayes espirituels that leden folk to oure Lord Jhesu Christ, and to the regne of glorie; of whiche weyes, ther is a ful noble way, and ful covenable, which may not faile to man ne to womman, that thorugh synne hath mysgon fro the right way of Jerusalem celestial; and this wey is cleped penitence. Of which men schulden gladly herken and enquere with al here herte, to wyte what is penitence, and whens it is cleped penitence, and in what maner, and in how many maneres been the acciones or workynges of penance, and how many spieces ben of penitences, and whiche thinges apperteynen and byhoven to penitence, and whiche thinges destourben penitence.

The Persones Tale. In all probability this is a free translation of some treatise upon penitence, but it is hardly worth our while to look far after the original. Tyrwhitt's opinion has been given in the note on 1. 17299. The references to Scripture, and to the theological writers of the Romish Church, are so numerous that I shall not attempt to verify them.

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