« ZurückWeiter »
of yeddinges he bare utterly the pris ;
And over all, ther as profit shuld arise,
A CLERK ther was of Oxenford also,
and play on the role. There was nobody to be compared with him for a good story.
His neck was as white as a lily, but that did not hinder his being a very champion for strength. He knew every tavern-keeper, tapster, and ostler about the country, better than he did any beggar, sick or well. Indeed, it is not proper for such as he to go herding with sick beggars. It would not be respectable or useful. The friar's duty lies among the rich, and with people who keep eating-houses.
Where any profit could come of it, who could humble himself as he did ? who show so much activity? He was the best beggar of his house, and rented the district he went about in, so that none of his brethren might interfere. If a widow had but an old shoe, he would get a farthing out of it ere he left her ; so pleasant was his in principio. He made a great deal more of his lease than he paid for it.
An OXFORD SCHOLAR was among us, who had long passed his examin. ation. His horse was as lean as a rake, and he himself was not much falter. He had hollow cheeks, a grave expression of countenance, ard a
For he hadde goten him yet no benefice
A SERGEANT OF THE LAWE warě and wise,
coarse threadbare cloak; for he had got no living yet, and he was not the man to push for one. The finest clothes and the merriest playing on the fiddle were nothing in his estimation compared with a score of old books at his bed's head, of Aristotle and his philosophy, bound in red or black. His philosophy was no philosopher's stone. All the money that friends gave him, he laid out on books and learning; and the moment he received it, he would begin praying for their souls. Study, study was what he cared for. He never used more words than were necessary, and they were all according to form and authority, very emphatical and sententious. Everything which he uttered tended to a moral purpose ; and gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.
We had a SERGEANT-AT-Law with us, a very wary and knowing gentleman Many a consultation had been held with him. You might know what authority he had, his words were so oracular. His knowledge and fame together had brought him a prodigious number of fees and fine things Everything in fact turned to fee-simple in his hands, and all with a justice
No wher so besy a man as he ther n'as ;
^ SHIPMAN was ther, woněd fer by west;
and propriety that nobody could think of disputing. There wasn't such a busy man in existence; and yet he seemed busier than he was. He knew every case and judgment that had been recorded since the time of King William; and could draw out a plea with such perfection, not a flaw was to be found in it. As to the statutes, he knew them all by heart. He was dressed plainly enough in a suit of mixed colors, with a silken sash all over small bars.
There was a CAPTAIN OF A SHIP there, who came a long way out of the West. I think he was from Dartmouth. He had got a horse upon hire, which he rode as well as he was able. He wore a falding that reached to his knee, with a dirk hanging under his arm from a string round the neck; and his skin was all tanned with the sun. A jovial companion was he He had helped himself to many a swig of wine at Bourdeaux, while the merchant was asleep. Conscience was not in his line. If he got the bet. ter of a vessel at sea, he always sent the men hoine by water. As to his seamanship and his pilotage, his knowledge of rivers and coasts, of sun and moon, and his heavings of the lead, there wasn't such another from Hull to Carthage. He was both audacious and cautious. With many a tempes
Hardy he was, and wise, I undertake ;
had his beard been shaken. He knew the soundings of every harbor from Gothland to Cape Finisterre, and every creek in Brittany and Spain. His vessel was called the Magdalen.
!" Whanně that April,” &c.—What freshness and delicacy in this exordium! It seems as if the sweet rains entered the ground, purely to reappear, themselves as flowers.
? “ The holy blissful martyr.”—Thomas à Becket-the great pan. tomimic shifter from a favorite into saint.
3“ In Southwerk at the Tabard.”-Readers hardly need be told, that this Tabard inn is still extant, under the misnomer of the Talbot. It is worthy of any gentleman's " pilgrimage," from the remotest regions of May-Fair. The Borough is one of the most classical spots in England. It has Chaucer at one end, and Shakspeare at the other (in the Globe Theatre); besides Gower, and Fletcher, and Massinger, lying in the churches.
4“ He was a veray parfit gentil knight.”—And a very perfect line is it that so describes him. It would be a pity it did not conclude the portrait, but for the good sense and sobriety of what follows, and the smutted state of the knight's doublet, caused by his coat of mail. This renders the conclusion still better, by showing the crowning point of his character, which is the preference of substance to show, and action before the glory of it.
He is a man who would rather conclude with being a perfect knight than with being called one.
5 “ With lockës crull as they were laide in presse.”—And perhaps the sly poet meant us to understand that they were ; for manliness in youth is not always above the little arts of foppery.
6“ And carf before his fader at the table.”-A custom of the time, and a far more civilized one than that of assigning the office ta old gentlemen and delicate ladies.
?" And all was conscience and tendre herte.”-A lovely verse.
8“ Amor vincit omnia."-Love conquers all things. We are to take this quotation from Ovid in a religious sense; whatever charitable thoughts towards others the good nun might combine with it.
$ “ Preestěs thre.”—The Prioress, for all her fine boarding-school breeding, fed heartily as well as nicely, and was in good buxom condition. We are not to suppose that the “ Preestěs thre” were less so, or fared ill at her table. One of them, indeed, who is called a “sweete Preest,” and a “goodly man,” is described as having a “ large breast," and looking like "a sparrow-hawk with his eyen.” It is he that tells the pleasant fable of the Cock and the For.
10 “ A Frere ther was, a wanton and a mery,
A limitour, a ful solempně man.”
This audacity of style, making the Friar at once merry and solemn, is in the richest comic taste. He is a “ful solempně man ;” that is to say, excessively and ultra solemn, while he is about it ; so much so, that you see the lurking merriment in the
He shakes his head and cheeks, speaks hollow in the throat, and in a nasal tone of disapprobation. He particularly excels in deprecating what he approves. Next to money-getting, he would object to luxury. He had joined numbers of young women in marriage “at his own cost ;' that is to say, for no better pay than being the merriest fellow at the wedding-dinner, and looking forward to every possible good thing in the household. If a widow had but a “shoe” left, he would get a farthing out of it. I have seen such jolly beggars in Italy. One of them, a fine handsome young man, who was having his panniers filled at a farmer's door (for he went about with a donkey), invited me to a pinch of snuff with all the unaffected grace of his country; and on my praising the beauty of the place (it was at Maiano, on the Fiesolan hills, looking towards Florence), he acquiesced with a sort of deprecating admission of the fact, worthy of his brother in Chaucer; observing, while he piously turned up his eyes, that it was “good enough for this world.”
11 “ Litel gold in cofre.”-A hit at the philosopher's stone; or, by inference, at the poverty of philosophy in general.