« PreviousContinue »
She is honoured over al wher she goth,
And but thou do to my norice honour, I sit at home, I have no thrifty cloth.
And to my chamberere within my bour, What dost thou at my neigheboures hous?
And to my faders folk, and myn allies; Is she so faire: art thou so amorous ?
Thus sayst thou, olde barel ful of lies. What rownest thou with our maide ? benedicite, 6“ • And yet also of our prentis Jankin, Sire olde lechour, let thy japes be.
For his crispe here, shining as gold so fin, * • And if I have a gossib, or a frend,
And for he squiereth me both up and doun, (Withouten gilt) thou chidest as a fend,
Yet hast thou caught a false suspection : If that I walke or play unto his hous.
I wol him nat, though thou were ded to-morwe. ** Thou comest home as dronken as a mous, ** • But tell me this, why hidest thou with sorwe And prechest on thy benche, with evil prefe: The keies of thy chest away fro me? Thou sayst to me, it is a gret meschiefe
It is my good as wel as thin parde, To wed a poure woman, for costage:
What, wenest thou make an idiot of our dame ? And if that she be riche of high parage,
Now by that lord that cleped is Seint Jame, Than sayst thou, that it is a tourmentrie
Thou shalt not bothe, though that thou were wood, To soffre hire pride and hire melancolie.
Be maister of my body and of my good, And if that she be faire, thou veray kuave,
That on thou shalt forgo maugre thin eyen. Thou sayst that every holour wol hire have. What helpeth it of me to enquere and spien ? She may no while in chastitee abide,
I trow thou woldest locke me in thy cheste. That is assailled upon every side.
Thou shuldest say, fayr wif, go wher thee leste; Thou sayst som folk desire us for richesse,
Take your disport; I wol nat leve no tales ;
s. We love no man, that taketh kepe or charge And som for gentillesse and daliance,
Wher that we gon, we wol be at our large.
The wise astrologien dan Ptholomee,
• Of alle men his wisdom is higheste, And if that she be foul, thou sayst, that she
That rekketh not who hath the world in hond.' Coveteth every man that she may see;
*** By this proverbe thou shalt wel understond, For as a spaniel, she wol on him lepe,
Have thou ynough, what thar thee rekke or care Til she may finden some man hire to chepe. How merily that other folkes fare? Ne non so grey goos goth ther in the lake,
For certes, olde dotard, by your leve,
He is to gret a nigard that wol werne
* * Thus sayst thou, lorel, whan thou gost to bed He shall have never the lesse lighte parde. And that no wise man nedeth for to wed,
Have thou ynough, thee thar not plainen thee. Ne no man that entendeth unto Heven.
6 • Thou sayst also, if that we make us
gay With wilde thonder dint and firy leven
With clothing and with precious array, Mote thy welked nekke be to-broke. (smoke, That it is peril of our chastitee.
* * Thou sayst, that dropping houses, and eke And yet, with sorwe, thou enforcest thee, And chiding wives maken men to flee
And sayst thise wordes in the apostles name: Out of hir owen house ; a, benedicite,
• In habit made with chastitee and shame What aileth swiche an old man for to chide ? Ye women shul appareile you,' (quod he)
**Thou sayst, we wives wol our vices hide, · And nat in tressed here, and gay perrie, Til we be fast, and than we wol hem shewe. As perles, ne with gold, ne clothes riche.' Wel may that be a proverbe of a shrewe.
“After thy text, ne after thy rubriche **Thou sayst, that oxen, asses, hors, and houndes, I wol not work as mochel as a gnat. They ben assaied at diverse stoundes,
4 • Thou sayst also, I walke out like a cat; Basins, lavoures, or that men hem bie,
For who so wolde senge the cattes skin, Spones, stooles, and all swiche husbondrie, Than wol the cat wel dwellen in hire in; And so ben pottes, clothes, and aray,
And if the cattes skin be sleke and gay, Bat folk of wives maken non assay,
She wol nat dwellen in hous half a day, Til they ben wedded, olde dotard shrewe!
But forth she wol, or any day be dawed, And than, sayst thou, we wol our vices shewe. To shew hire skin, and gon a caterwayed.
** Thou sayst also, that it displeseth me, This is to say, if I be gay, sire shrewe, But if that thou wolt preisen my beautee,
I wol renne out, my borel for to shewe. And but thou pore alway upon my face,
Sire olde fool, what helpeth thee to spien ? And clepe me faire dame in every place;
Though thou pray Argus with his hundred eyen And but thou make a feste on thilke day
To be my wardecorps, as he can best. That I was borne, and make me fresh and gay; In faithe he shal not kepe me but me lest:
say you soth.'
Yet coude I make his berd, so mote I the.
As helpe mo veray God omnipotent,
That they must yeve it up, as for the best, " • Yet prechest thou, and sayst, an hateful wif Or elles had we never ben in rest. Yrekened is for on of thise meschances.
For though he loked as a wood leon, Be ther non other maner resemblances
Yet shuld he faille of his conclusion. That ye may liken your parables to,
“ Than wold I say, “Now, goode lefe, take kepe, But if a sely wif be on of tho?
How mekely loketh Wilkin oure shepe! 6 • Thou likenest eke womans love to Helle, Come ner my spouse, and let me ba thy cheke. To barrein lond, ther water may not dwelle.
Ye shulden be al patient and meke, “ • Thou likenest it also to wilde fire;
And han a swete spiced conscience, The more it brenneth, the more it hath desire Sith ye so preche of Jobes patience. To consume every thing, that brent wol be.
Suffreth alway, sin ye so wel can preche, " • Thou sayest right as wormes shende a tre, And but ye do, certain we shal you teche Right so a wif destroieth hire husbond ;
That it is faire to han a wif in pees. This knowen they that ben to wives bond.'
On of us two moste bowen doutelees: Lordings, right thus, as ye han understond, And, sith a man is more resonable Bare I stifly min old husbondes on hond,
Than woman is, ye mosten ben suffrable. That thus they saiden in hir dronkennesse :
What aileth you to grutchen thus and grone? And all was false, but as I toke witnesse
Is it for ye wold have my queint alone? On Jankin, and upon my nece also.
Why take it all: lo, have it every del. O Lord, the peine I did hem, and the wo,
Peter, I shrew you but ye love it wel. Ful gilteles, by Goddes swete pine ;
For if I wolde sell my belle chose, For as an hors, I coude bite and whine;
I coude walke as freshe as is a rose, I coude plain, and I was in the gilt,
But I wol kepe it for your owen toth. Or elles oftentime I had ben spilt.
Ye be to blame, by God, I Who so first cometh to the mill, first grint;
“Swiche maner wordes hadden wc on hond. I plained first, so was our werre ystint.
Now wol I speken of my fourthe husbond. They were ful glad to excusen hem ful blive
“My fourthe husbonde was a revellour, Of thing, the which they never agilt hir live. This is to sayn, he had a paramour, Of wenches wold I beren hem on hond,
And I was yonge and ful of ragerie, Whan that for sike unnethes might they stond, Stibborne and strong, and joly as a pie. Yet tikeled I his herte for that he
Tho coude I dancen to an harpe smale, . Wend that I had of him so gret chiertee:
And sing ywis as any nightingale, I swore that all my walking out by night
Whan I had dronke a draught of swete wine. Was for to espien wenches that he dight:
Metellius, the foule cherle, the swine, Under that colour had I many a mirth;
That with a staf berast his wif hire lif For all swiche wit is yeven us in our birth;
For she drank wine, though I had ben his wif, Deceite, weping, spinning, God hath yeven
Ne shuld he not have daunted me fro drinke: To woman kind, while that they may liven.
And after wine of Venus most I thinke. And thus of o thing I may avaunten me,
For al so siker as cold engendreth hayl, At th' ende I had the beter in eche degree,
A liherous mouth most han a likerous tayl. By sleight or force, or by som maner thing,
In woman vinolent is no defence, As by continual murmur or grutching,
This knowen lechours by experience.
But, Lord Crist, whan that it remembreth me
It tikleth me about myn herte-rote.
Unto this day it doth myn herte bote, Til he had made his raunson unto me,
That I have had my world as in my time. Than wold 1 soffre him do his nicetec.
But age, alas! that all wol cnvenime, And therfore every man this tale I tell,
Hath me beraft my beautee and my pith: Winne who so may, for all is for to sell :
farewel, the devil go therwith. With empty hond men may no haukes lure, The four is gon, ther n'is no more to tell, For winning wold I all his lust endure,
The bren, as I best may, now moste I sell. And maken me a feined appetit,
But yet to be right mery wol I fond, And yet in bacon had I never delit:
Now forth to tellen of my fourthe husbond, That maked me that ever I wold hem chide.
" I say, I had in herte gret despit, For though the Pope had sitten hem beside, That he of any other had delit; I wold not spare hem at hir owen bord,
But he was quit by God and by Seint Joce: For by my trouthe I quitte hem word for word. I made him of the same wood a croce,
From hous to hous, to heren sondry tales)
That Jankin clerk, and my gossib dame Ales,
And I myself, into the feldes went.
Myn husbond was at London all that Lent;
I had the better leiser for to pleie,
And for to see, and eke for to be seie
Of lusty folk; what wist I wher my grace
To vigilies, and to processions,
To prechings eke, and to thise pilgrimages,
To playes of miracles, and mariages,
And wered upon my gay skarlet gites.
Thise wormes, ne thise mothes, ne thise mites
Upon my paraille frett hem never a del,
And wost thou why? for they were used wel.
“ Now wol I tellen forth what happed me: He is now in his grave and in his chest.
I say, that in the feldes walked we,
Till trewely we had swiche daliance
This clerk and I, that of my purveance
I spake to him, and said him how that he,
If I were widewe, shulde wedden me.
For certainly, I say for no bobance,
Yet was I never without purveance
Of mariage, ne of other thinges eke:
I hold a mouses wit not worth a leke,
That hath but on hole for to sterten to,
And if that faille, than is all ydo.
*] bare hiin on hond, he hath enchanted me; Was of his love so dangerous to me.
(My dame taughte me that subtiltee)
And cke I sayd, I mette of him all night,
He wold han slain me, as I lay upright,
But yet I hope that ye shuln do me good:
For blood betokeneth gold, as me was taught.
And al was false, I dremed of him right naught,
But as I folwed ay my dames lore,
As wel of that as other thinges more.
“ But now, sire, let me see, what shall I sain? This knoweth every woman that is wise.
A ha, by God I have my tale again.
I wept algate and made a sory chere,
As wives moten, for it is the usage;
And with my coverchefe covered my visage;
But, for that I was purveyed of a make,
To chirche was myn husbond born a-morwe
With neigheboures that for him maden sowre,
And Jankin oure clerk was on of tho:
As helpe me God, whan that I saw him go
After the bere, me thought he had a paire
Of legges and of feet, so clene and faire,
That all my herte I yave unto his hold.
Hle was, I trow, a twenty winter old,
And I was fourty, if I shal say soth,
But yet I had alway a coltes toth.
Gat-tothed I was, and that became me wele,
I had the print of seinte Venus sele.
As helpe me God, I was a lusty on, · And so befell that ones in a Lent,
And faire, and richc, and yonge, and wel begon: (so often times I to my gossib went, Forever yet I loved to be gay,
And trewely, as min husbondes tolden me,
I had the beste queint that mighte be.
For certes I am 'all vencrian
He cleped it Valerie, and Theophrast, In feling, and my herte is marcian:
And with that book he lough alway ful fast. Venus me yave my lust and likerousnesse,
And eke ther was a clerk somtime at Rome, And Mars yave me my sturdy hardinesse.
A cardinal, that highte Seint Jerome, Min ascendent was Taure, and Mars therinne: That made a book against Jovinian, Alas, alas, that ever love was sinne!
Which book was ther, and eke Tertullian, i folwed ay min inclination
Crisippus, Tortula, and Helowis, By vertue of my constellation :
That was abbesse not fer fro Paris; That made me that I coude nat withdraw
And eke the paraboles of Salomon, My chambre of Venus from a good felaw.
Ovides art, and bourdes many on ; Yet have I Martes merke upon my face,
And alle thise were bonden in o volume. And also in another privee place.
And every night and day was his custume For God so wisly be my salvation,
(Whan he had leiser and vacation I loved never by no discresion,
From other worldly occupation) But ever folwed min appetit,
To reden in this book of wikked wives. All were he shorte, longe, blake, or white,
He knew of hem mo legendes and mo lives, I toke no kepe, so that he liked me,
Than ben of goode wives in the Bible. How poure he was, ne eke of what degree.
“For trusteth wel, it is an impossible, “What shuld I saye? but at the monthes ende That any clerk wol spoken good of wives, This jolly clerk Jankin, that was so hende, (But if it be of holy seintes lives) Hath wedded me with gret solempnitee,
Ne of non other woman never the mo. And to him yave I all the lond and fee,
Who peinted the leon, telleth me, who? That ever was me yeven therbefore:
By God, if wimmen hadden written stories, But afterward repented me ful sore.
As clerkes han, within hir oratories, He n'olde suffre nothing of my list.
They wol have writ of men more wikkednesse By God he smote me ones with his fist,
Than all the merke of Adam may redresse. For that I rent out of his book a lefe,
The children of Mercury and of Venus That of the stroke myn ere wex al defe.
Ben in hir werking ful contrarious. Stibborn I was, as is a leonesse,
Mercury loveth wisdom and science, And of my tonge a veray jangleresse,
And Venus loveth riot and dispence. And walk I wold, as I had don beforn,
And for hir divers disposition, Fro house to house, although he had it sworn: Eche falleth in others exaltation. For which he oftentimes wolde preche,
As thus, God wote, Mercury is desolat And me of olde Romaine gestes teche.
In Pisces, wher Venus is 'exaltat, “ How he Sulpitius Gallus left his wif,
And Venus falleth wher Mercury is reised. And hire forsoke for terme of all his lif,
Therfore no woman of no clerk is preised. Not but for open-heded he hire say
The clerk whan he is old, and may nought do Loking out at his dore upon a day.
Of Venus werkes not worth his old sho, “Another Romaine told he me by name,
Than siteth he doun, and writeth in his dotage, That, for his wif was at a sommer game
That wimmen cannot kepe hir mariage. Without his weting, he forsoke hire eke.
But now to purpos, why I tolde thee, “ And than wold he upon his Bible seke
That I was beten for a book parde. That ilke proverbe of Ecclesiaste,
“Upon a night Jankin, that was our sire, Wher he commandeth, and forbedeth faste, Red on his book, as he sate by the fire, Man shal not suffer his wife go roule about.
Of Eva first, that for hire wikkednesse “Than wold he say right thus withouten doute: Was all mankind brought to wretchedness, “Who so that bildeth his house all of salwes, For which that Jesu Crist himself was slain, And pricketh his blind hors over the falwes, That bought us with his herte-blood again. And suffereth his wif to go seken halwes,
“Lo here expresse of wimmen may ye find, Is worthy to be honged on the galwes.'
That woman was the losse of all mankind. “But all for nought, I sette not an hawe
“ Tho redde he me how Sampson lost his heres Of his proverbes, ne of his olde sawe;
Sleping, his lemman kitte hem with hire sheres, Ne' I wold not of him corrected be.
Thurgh whiche treson lost he both his eyen. I hate hem that my vices tellen me,
Tho redde he me, if that I shal not lien, And so do mo of us (God wote) than I.
Of Hercules, and of his Deianire, This made him wood with me all utterly;
That caused him to set himself a-fire. I n'olde not forbere him in no cas.
Nothing forgat he the care and the wo, “Now wol I say you soth by Seint Thomas, That Socrates had with his wives two; Why that I rent of his book a lefe,
How Xantippa cast pisse upon his hed. For which he smote me, so that I was defe.
This sely man sat still, as he were ded, “ He had a book, that gladly night and day He wiped his hed, no more dorst he sain, For his disport he wolde it rede alway,
But, er the thonder stint, ther cometh rain,
* Of Clitemnestra for hire lecherie
And whan he saw how stille that I lay, That falsely made hire husbond for to die,
He was agast, and wold have fled away, He redde it with ful good devotion.
Til at the last out of my swough I brayde. * He told me eke, for what occasion,
O, hast thou slain me, false theef?' I sayde, Amphiorax at Thebes lost his lif:
* And for my lond thus hast thou mordered med My husbond had a legend of his wif
Er I be ded, yet wol I kissen thee.' Eriphile, that for an quche of gold
And nere he came, and kneled faire adoun,
And sayde; · Dere suster Alisoun,
That I have don it is thyself to wite, * Of Lima told he me, and of Lucie:
Foryeve it me, and that I thee beseke.' They bothe made hir husbondes for to die,
And yet eftsones I hitte him ou the cheke, That on for love, that other was for hate.
And sayde; • Theef, thus much am I awreke, Lima hire husbond on an even late
Now wol I die, I may no longer speke.' Empoysoned bath, for that she was his fo:
“ But at the last with mochel care and wo Lacia likerous loved hir husbond so,
We fell accorded by ourselven two:
He yaf me all the bridel in min hond
And of his tonge, and of his hond also,
And made him brenne his book anon right tho. * Than told he me, how on Latumeus
And whan that I had getten unto me Complained to his felaw Arius,
By maistrie all the soverainetee, "That in his garden growed swiche a tree,
And that he sayd, Min owen trewe wif, On which he said how that his wives three
Do as thee list, the terme of all thy lif, Honged hemself for hertes despitous.
Kepe thin honour, and kepe eke min estat;' .O leve brother,' quod this Arius,
After that day we never had debat. “Yeve me a plant of thilke blessed tree,
God helpe me so; I was to him as kinde, And in my gardin planted shal it be.'
As any wif fro Denmark unto Inde. * Of later date of wives hath he redde,
And al so trewe, and so was he to me:
The Frere lough whan he herd all this:
This is a long preamble of a tale." He spake more harm than herte may bethinke. And whan the Sompnour herd the Frere gale,
“ And therwithall he knew of mo proverbes, “ Lo” (quod this Sompnour)“ Goddes armes two, Than in this world their growen gras or herbes.
A frere wol entermit him evermo: ** Bet is' (quod he) thin habitation,
Lo, goode men, a flie and eke a frere Be with a leon, or a foule dragon,
Wol fall in every dish and eke matere. Than with a woman using for to chide.
What spekest thou of preambulatioun ? * * Bet is' (quod he) high in the roof abide, What ? amble or trot; or pees, or go sit doun : Than with an angry woman doun in the hous, Thou lettest our disport in this matere." (Frere; They ben so wikked and contrarious :
“ Ye, wolt thou so, sire Sompnour:" quod the They haten, that hir husbonds loven ay.'
“ Now by my faith. I shal, er that I go, " He sayd, a woman cast hire shame away, Tell of a sompnour swiche a tale or two, Whan she cast of hire smock; and furthermo, That all the folk shal laughen in this place.” A faire woman, but she be chast also,
“ Now elles, Frere, I wol beshrewe thy face," Le like a gold ring in a sowes nose.
(Quod this Sompnour)" and I beshrewe me, “Who coude wene, or who coude suppose
But if I telle tales two or three
That I shal make thin herte for to morne:
For wel I wot thy patience is gon.” Al sodenly three leves have I plight
Our Hoste cried; “ Pees, and that anon;" Out of his book, right as he redde, and eke And sayde; “Let the woman tell hire tale. Twith my fist so toke him on the cheke,
Ye fare as folk that dronken ben of ale. That in oure fire he fell bakward adoun.
Do, dame, tell forth your tale, and that is best." And he up sterte, as doth a wood leoun,
“ Alredy, sire” (quod she), “ right as you lest, And with his fist he smote me on the hed,
If I have licence of this worthy frere.” (here." That in the flore I lay as I were ded.
* Yes, dame" (quod he), " tell forth, and I wol