« PreviousContinue »
Whan that Arcite to Thebes come was,
Ful ofte a day he swelde and seyde alas,
For seen his lady schal he never mo.
And schortly to concluden al his wo,
So moche sorwe had never creature,
That is or schal whil that the world wol dure.
His sleep, his mete, his drynk is him byraft,
That lene he wexe, and drye as eny schaft.
His eyen holwe, grisly to biholde ;
His hewe falwe, and pale as asschen colde,
And solitary he was, and ever alone,
And dwellyng all the night, making his moone.
And if he herde song or instrument,
Then wolde he wepe, he mighte nought be stent. 1370
So feble were his spirites, and so lowe,
And chaunged so, that no man couthe knowe
His speche nother his vois, though men it herde.
And in his gir, for all the world he ferde
Nought oonly lyke the lovers maladye
Of Hercos, but rather lik manye,
Engendrud of humour malencolyk,
Byforne in his selle fantastyk.
1378.—in his selle fantastyk. Tyrwhitt reads, Beforne his hed in his celle fantastike. The division of the brain into cells, according to the different sensitive faculties, is very ancient aud is found depicted in medieval manuscripts. It was a rude forerunner of the science of phrenology. The fantastic cell' (fantasia) was in front of the head. In MS. Harl. No. 4025, is a treatise entitled Liber Thesauri Occulti, in which (fol. 5, ro.), we are informed, “ Et est in cerebro rationativa, in corde irascibilis vel inspirativa, in epate voluntaria vel concupiscibilis. . Verumptamen certum est in prora cerebri esse fantasiam, in medio rationem discretionis, in puppi memoriam; quarum si aliqua naturali
And schortly turned was al up-so-doun
Bothe abyt and eek disposicioun
Of him, this woful lovere daun Arcite.
What schulde I alway of his wo endite ?
Whan he endured hadde a yeer or tuoo
This cruel torment, and this peyne
At Thebes, in his contré, as I seyde,
Upon a night in sleep as he him leyde,
Him thought that how the venged god Mercurie
Byforn him stood, and bad him to be murye.
His slepy yerd in hond he bar upright;
An hat he wered upon his heres bright.
Arrayed was this god (as he took keepe)
As he was whan that Argous took his sleep;
And seyde him thus: “To Athenes schalt thou wende;
Ther is the schapen of thy wo an ende.”
And with that word Arcite wook and sterte.
“ Now trewely how sore that me smerte,"
Quod he,“ to Athenes right now wol I fare;
Ne for the drede of deth schal I not spare
To see my lady, that I love and serve ;
In hire presence I recche nat to sterve."
1400 And with that word he caught a gret myrour,
infirmitate vel percussione desipuerit et maxime memoria, prorsus et sompnia perempta sunt, si ratio vel fantasia vero destructa, sompnia quoquo modo ex memoria remanserunt. Si itaque homo multa per sompnium sæpe viderit et oblitus fuerit ea quæ vidit, scito memorialem partem cerebri ejus tenebrositate et obscuritate detentam esse. Similiter de ratione vel judicio et fantasia præjudicandum est, et infirmitati futuræ præcavendum."
1384.—I retain Tyrwhitt's reading of this line, which in the Harl. MS. runs, In this cruel torment, peyne, and woo.
And saugh that chaunged was al his colour,
And saugh his visage was in another kynde.
And right anoon it ran him into mynde,
That seththen his face was so disfigured
Of maladie the which he hath endured,
He mighte wel, if that he bar him lowe,
Lyve in Athenes evere more unknowe,
And see his lady wel neih day by day.
And right anon he chaunged his aray,
And clothed him as a pore laborer.
And al alone, save oonly a squyer,
That knew his pryvyté and al his cas,
Which was disgysed povrely as he was,
To Athenes is he go the nexte way.
And to the court he went upon a day,
And at the gate he profred his servyse,
To drugge and drawe, what so men wolde devyse.
And schortly of this matier for to seyn,
He fel in office with a chambirleyn,
1420 The which that dwellyng was with Emelye. For he was wys, and couthe sone aspye Of every servaunt, which that served here. Wel couthe he hewe woode, and water bere, For he was yonge and mighty for the nones, And therto he was strong and bygge of bones To doon that eny wight can him devyse. A yeer or two he was in this servise, Page of the chambre of Emelye the bright; And Philostrate he seide that he hight.
But half so wel beloved a man as he,
Ne was ther never in court of his degree.
He was so gentil of his condicioun,
That thorughout al the court was his renoun.
They seyde that it were a charité
That Theseus wolde enhaunsen his degree,
And putten him in worschipful servyse,
Ther as he might his vertu excersise.
And thus within a while his name spronge
Bothe of his dedes, and of goode tonge,
That Theseus hath taken him so neer
That of his chambre he made him squyer,
And gaf him gold to mayntene his degree;
And eek men brought him out of his countré
Fro yeer to yer ful pryvyly his rente,
But honestly and sleighly he it spente,
That no man wondred how that he it hadde,
And thre yeer in this wise his lyf he ladde,
And bar him so in pees and eek in werre,
Ther nas no man that Theseus hath so derre.
And in this blisse lete I now Arcite,
And speke I wole of Palamon a lyte.
In derknes and orrible and strong prisoun
This seven yeer hath seten Palamon,
Forpyned, what for woo and for destresse.
Who feleth double sorwe and hevynesse
But Palamon ? that love destreyneth so,
That wood out of his witt he goth for wo,
1439.-within. The MS. Harl. reads incorrectly withinne, which is the adverbial form of the preposition.
And eek therto he is a prisoner
Perpetuelly, nat oonly for a yeer.
Who couthe ryme in Englissch propurly
His martirdam? for sothe it am nat I;
Therfore I passe as lightly as I may.
It fel that in the seventhe yeer in May
The thridde night, (as olde bookes seyn,
That al this storie tellen more pleyn)
Were it by aventure or destené,
(As, whan a thing is schapen, it schal be,)
That soone aftur the mydnyght, Palamon
By helpyng of a freend brak his prisoun,
And fleeth the cité fast as he may goo,
For he had give drinke his gayler soo
Of a clarré, maad of a certayn wyn,
With nercotykes and opye of Thebes fyn,
That al that night though that men wolde him schake,
The gayler sleep, he mighte nought awake.
And thus he fleeth as fast as ever he may.
The night was schort, and faste by the day,
That needes cost he moste himselven hyde.
And til a grove ther faste besyde
With dredful foot than stalketh Palamon.
For schortly this was his opynyoun,
That in that grove he wolde him hyde al day,
And in the night then wolde he take his way
To Thebes-ward, his frendes for to preye
On Theseus to helpe him to werreye.
And schortelich, or he wolde lese his lyf,