The canterbury tales, p.75
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.75

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  By ordre, as ofte I herde my lord hem nevene821:

  The firste spirit quiksilver called is;

  The seconde, orpiment; the thridde, iwys,

  Sal armoniak, and the ferthe brimstoon.

  825 The bodies sevene eek, lo, hem heer anoon:

  Sol826 gold is, and Luna silver we threpe;

  Mars, iren, Mercurye quiksilver we clepe;

  Saturnus, leed, and Juppiter is tin,

  And Venus coper, by my fader kin.

  830 This cursed craft whoso wol excercise,

  He shal no good han that him may suffise,

  For al the good he spendeth theraboute832

  He lese833 shal; therof have I no doute.

  Whoso that listeth outen834 his folye,

  835 Lat him com forth and lerne multiplye.

  And every man that oght hath in his cofre,

  Lat him appere and wexe a philosophre,

  Ascaunce that craft is so light to lere!

  Nay, nay, God woot, al be he839 monk or frere,

  840 Preest or chanoun, or any oother wight,

  Though he sitte at his book bothe day and night

  In lerning of this elvissh nice842 loore,

  Al is in vein – and pardee, muchel moore

  To lerne a lewed844 man this subtiltee!

  845 Fy! Spek nat therof, for it wol nat be.

  And konne he letterure, or konne he noon,846

  As in effect, he shal finde it al oon;

  For bothe two, by my savacioun,

  Concluden in multiplicacioun849

  850 Ilike850 wel, whan they han al ydo –

  This is to seyn, they faillen bothe two.

  Yet forgat I to maken rehersaille852

  Of watres corosif853, and of limaille,

  And of bodies mollificacioun854,

  855 And also of hir induracioun855,

  Oilles, abluciouns856, and metal fusible –

  To tellen al wolde passen any bible857

  That owher858 is; wherfore, as for the beste,

  Of alle thise names now wol I me reste.

  860 For, as I trowe, I have yow told inowe

  To reise861 a feend, al looke he nevere so rowe.

  A, nay, lat be! The philosophres stoon,

  Elixir863 clept, we sechen faste echoon,

  For hadde we him864 thanne were we siker inow.

  865 But unto God of hevene I make avow,

  For al oure craft, whan we han al ydo,

  And al oure sleighte867, he wol nat come us to.

  He hath ymaad us spenden muchel good,

  For sorwe of which almoost we wexen wood869,

  870 But that good hope crepeth in oure herte,

  Supposinge evere, thogh we soore smerte871,

  To be releved by him afterward.

  Swich supposing873 and hope is sharp and hard;

  I warne yow wel, it is to seken evere874.

  875 That futur temps875 hath maad men to dissevere,

  In trust therof, from al that evere they hadde;

  Yet of that art they kan nat wexen sadde877,

  For unto hem it is a bittre swete.

  So semeth it – for nadde they but a shete,

  880 Which that they mighte wrappe hem in a-night,

  And a brat881 to walken in by daylight,

  They wolde hem selle, and spenden on this craft.

  They kan nat stinte883 til nothing be laft.

  And everemoore, wher that evere they goon,

  885 Men may hem knowe by smel of brimstoon.

  For al the world they stinken as a goot!

  Hir savour is so rammissh887 and so hoot

  That though a man a mile from hem be,

  The savour889 wol infecte him, trusteth me.

  890 Lo, thus, by smelling, and threedbare array,

  If that men liste, this folk they knowe may.

  And if a man wol aske hem prively892

  Why they been clothed so unthriftily893,

  They right anon wol rownen894 in his ere,

  895 And seyn that if that they espied895 were

  Men wolde hem slee896, bicause of hir science.

  Lo, thus this folk bitrayen innocence!

  Passe over this; I go my tale unto.

  Er that the pot be on the fir ydo899,

  900 Of metals with a certein quantitee

  My lord hem tempreth901, and no man but he –

  Now he is goon, I dar sey boldely –

  For, as men seyn, he kan doon craftily

  (Algate904, I woot wel he hath swich a name),

  905 And yet ful ofte he renneth in905 a blame.

  And wite ye906 how? Ful ofte it happeth so,

  The pot to-breketh907, and farewel, al is go!

  Thise metals been of so greet violence,

  Oure walles mowe909 nat make hem resistence,

  910 But if910 they weren wroght of lim and stoon.

  They percen911 so, and thurgh the wal they goon,

  And somme of hem sinken into the ground –

  Thus han we lost bitimes913 many a pound –

  And somme ar scatered al the floor aboute,

  915 Somme lepe into the roof. Withouten doute,

  Though that the feend noght in oure sighte him shewe,

  I trowe he with us be, that ilke shrewe917!

  In helle, wher that he lord is and sire,

  Nis ther moore wo, ne moore rancour ne ire,

  920 Whan that oure pot is broke, as I have said;

  Every man chit and halt him ivele apaid.921

  Somme seide it was long on922 the fir making;

  Somme seide nay, it was on the blowing;

  Thanne was I fered924, for that was min office.

  925 ‘Straw!’ quod the thridde, ‘ye been lewed925 and nice!

  It was nat tempred as it oghte be!’

  ‘Nay,’ quod the ferthe, ‘stinte, and herkne me.

  Bicause oure fir ne was nat maad of beech,

  That is the cause, and oother noon, so thee929’ch!’

  930 I kan nat telle wheron it was long930,

  But wel I woot greet strif is us among.

  ‘What!’ quod my lord, ‘ther is namoore to doone.

  Of thise perils I wol be war eftsoone933.

  I am right siker934 that the pot was crased.

  935 Be as be may, be ye nothing amased;935

  As usage is, lat swepe the floor as swithe936.

  Plukke937 up youre hertes, and beeth glad and blithe!’

  The mullok938 on an heep ysweped was,

  And on the floor ycast939 a canevas,

  940 And al this mullok in a sive940 ythrowe,

  And sifted and ypiked941 many a throwe.

  ‘Pardee,’ quod oon, ‘somwhat of oure metal

  Yet is ther heere, thogh that we han nat al.

  And thogh this thing mishapped have as now,

  945 Another time it may be wel inow.

  Us moste putte oure good in aventure!946

  A marchant, pardee, may nat ay endure,

  Trusteth me wel, in his prosperitee.

  Somtime his good is drowned in the see,

  950 And somtime comth it sauf950 unto the londe.’

  ‘Pees!’ quod my lord, ‘the nexte time I shal fonde951

  To bringe oure craft al in another plite952,

  And but I do, sires, lat me han the wite953!

  Ther was defaute in somwhat, wel I woot.’

  955 Another seide the fir was over-hoot955 –

  But, be it hoot or coold, I dar seye this,

  That we concluden everemoore amis.957

  We faille of that which that we wolden have,

  And in oure madnesse everemoore we rave.

  960 And whan we been togidres everychon,

  Every man semeth a Salomon;

  But al thing which that shineth as962 the gold

  Ne is nat gold, as that I have herd told,

  Ne every appul that is fair at eye964

  965 Ne is nat good, whatso
men clappe965 or crye.

  Right so, lo, fareth it amonges us:

  He that semeth the wisest, by Jesus,

  Is moost fool whan it cometh to the preef968,

  And he that semeth trewest is a theef.

  970 That shul ye knowe, er that I fro yow wende,

  By that971 I of my tale have maad an ende.

  [Part Two]

  Ther is a chanoun of religioun

  Amonges us wolde infecte al a toun,

  Thogh it as greet974 were as was Ninivee,

  975 Rome, Alisaundre975, Troye, and othere three.

  His sleightes and his infinite falsnesse

  Ther koude no man writen, as I gesse,

  Though that he live mighte a thousand yeer.

  In al this world of falshede979 nis his peer,

  980 For in hise termes980 so he wol him winde,

  And speke hise wordes in so sly981 a kinde,

  Whan he commune shal with any wight,

  That he wol make him doten983 anon-right,

  But it a feend be984, as himselven is.

  985 Ful many a man hath he bigiled er this,

  And wol, if that he live may a while.

  And yet men ride and goon ful many a mile

  Him for to seke, and have his aqueintaunce,

  Noght knowinge of his false governaunce989.

  990 And if yow list to yeve me audience990,

  I wol it tellen here in youre presence.

  But, worshipful chanones religious,

  Ne demeth nat that I desclaundre993 youre hous,

  Althogh that my tale of a chanoun be.

  995 Of every ordre som shrewe995 is, pardee!

  And God forbede that al a compaignye

  Sholde rewe997 o singuler mannes folye.

  To sclaundre yow is nothing998 min entente,

  But to correcten that is mis999 I mente.

  1000 This tale was nat oonly told for yow,

  But eek for othere mo1001. Ye woot wel how

  That among Cristes apostelles twelve

  Ther nas no traitour but Judas himselve;

  Thanne why sholde al the remenant have a blame

  1005 That giltlees were? By1005 yow I seye the same –

  Save oonly this, if ye wol herkne1006 me:

  If any Judas in youre covent1007 be,

  Remeveth him bitimes, I yow rede,1008

  If shame or los may causen any drede.

  1010 And beth nothing1010 displesed, I yow preye,

  But in this cas herketh what I shal seye.

  In London was a preest annueleer1012,

  That therinne hadde ydwelled many a yeer,

  Which was so plesaunt1014 and so servisable

  1015 Unto the wif wheras he was at table1015,

  That she wolde suffre1016 him nothing for to paye

  For bord ne clothing, wente he nevere so gaye1017;

  And spending-silver1018 hadde he right inow.

  Therof no fors1019; I wol procede as now,

  1020 And telle forth my tale of the chanoun

  That broghte this preest to confusioun.

  This false chanoun cam upon a day

  Unto this preestes chambre wher he lay,

  Biseching him to lene1024 him a certein

  1025 Of gold, and he wolde quite1025 it him agein.

  ‘Lene me a marke1026,’ quod he, ‘but dayes three,

  And at my day I wol it quiten thee.

  And if so be that thow me finde fals,

  Another day do hange me1029 by the hals!’

  1030 This preest him took1030 a marke, and that as swithe,

  And this chanoun him thanked ofte sithe1031,

  And took his leve and wente forth his weye,

  And at the thridde day broghte his moneye,

  And to the preest he took his gold again,

  1035 Wherof1035 this preest was wonder glad and fain.

  ‘Certes,’ quod he, ‘nothing anoyeth me1036

  To lene a man a noble1037, or two, or thre,

  Or what thing were in my possessioun,

  Whan he so trewe is of condicioun

  1040 That in no wise he breke wol his day.1040

  To swich a man I kan nevere seye nay.’

  ‘What,’ quod this chanoun, ‘sholde I be untrewe?

  Nay, that were thing yfallen1043 al of newe!

  Trouthe is a thing that I wol evere kepe

  1045 Unto that day in which that I shal crepe

  Into my grave, and ellis God forbede1046!

  Bileveth this as siker1047 as the Crede!

  God thanke I, and in good time1048 be it said,

  That ther was nevere man yet ivele apaid1049

  1050 For gold ne silver that he to me lente,

  Ne nevere falshede in min herte I mente.

  And sire,’ quod he, ‘now of my privetee1052,

  Sin ye so goodlich1053 han been unto me,

  And kithed to me so greet gentillesse,1054

  1055 Somwhat to quite with1055 youre kindenesse

  I wol yow shewe: if that yow list to lere1056,

  I wol yow teche pleinly the manere

  How I kan werken in philosophye1058.

  Taketh good heed; ye shul wel seen at eye1059

  1060 That I wol doon a maistrye1060 er I go.’

  ‘Ye1061?’ quod the preest, ‘Ye, sire, and wol ye so?

  Marye! therof I pray yow hertely.’

  ‘At youre comandement, sire, trewely,’

  Quod the chanoun, ‘and ellis God forbede1065!’

  1065 Loo, how this theef koude his servise bede!

  Ful sooth it is that swich profred1066 servise

  Stinketh, as witnessen thise olde wise;

  And that ful soone I wol it verifye1068

  In this chanoun, roote of al trecherye,

  1070 That everemoore delit hath and gladnesse –

  Swiche feendly thoghtes in his herte impresse1071 –

  How Cristes peple he may to meschief1072 bringe.

  God kepe us from his false dissimulinge1073!

  Noght wiste1074 this preest with whom that he delte,

  1075 Ne of his harm cominge he nothing felte.

  O sely1076 preest, o sely innocent!

  With coveitise anon thow shalt be blent1077.

  O gracelees1078, ful blind is thy conceit!

  Nothing ne artow war of the deceit

  1080 Which that this fox yshapen1080 hath for thee.

  Hise wily wrenches1081 thow ne mayst nat flee;

  Wherfore, to go to the conclusioun

  That refereth to1083 thy confusioun,

  Unhappy1084 man, anon I wol me hie

  1085 To tellen thin unwit1085 and thy folye,

  And eek the falsnesse of that oother wrecche,

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