Chaucer, CT, Franklin’s Tale

Index to this series

Remarkable teachings from the Franklin, who says he never learned rhetoric, nor read Cicero:

Pacience is an heigh vertu certeyn;
For it venquisseth, as thise clerkes seyn,
Thinges that rigour sholde never atteyne.

Patience is a high virtue certain;
For it vanquisheth, as these clerks say,
Things that rigor should never attain.

There are things that you cannot win by force. Love is one, and that is the Franklin’s theme.

You can’t hurry love
No you just have to wait

Respect is another thing that you cannot win by force. I took up that theme in considering Collingwood on “Civilization as Education” (September, 2018). Confusion here may explain the problem of bad leadership that Socrates takes up in the Republic – which I have now taken up in a new series.

Rembrandt van Rijn
Lucretia, 1664
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
National Gallery of Art, Washington

The Franklin continues:

Lerneth to suffre, or elles, so moot I goon,
Ye shul it lerne, wher-so ye wole or noon.

Learn to suffer, or else – so must I go –
You shall it learn, whether you will or no.

Get ready for pain, or it will find you when you are not ready. How close is this to Buddhism?

We think the Franklin’s heroine is going to suffer the fate of Lucretia, who killed herself, because otherwise people might think she had cheated with Tarquinus, whose lust had been enflamed by her husband Collatinus, who had boasted of her virtue.

Dorigen knows a lot of suicides like Lucretia. She thinks she will have to follow their example.

Everybody else in the world can an example, good or bad. We have to decide who the good examples are. This is what I say, at least.

Dorigen does not follow Lucretia to the grave just yet, because of the virtue of her husband Arveragus and would-be lover Aurelius. The magician of Orleans who has let Aurelius win Dorigen in the first place renounces his fee. The Franklin will leave us with a question:

Lordinges, this question wolde I aske now,
Which was the moste free, as thinketh yow?
Now telleth me, er that ye ferther wende.
I can na-more, my tale is at an ende.

Being free is being liberal, giving things away, letting others be free. Arveragus, Aurelius, and the magician set free, respectively, his wife, his beloved, his client.

Meanwhile, we saw the theme of patience also in the Clerk’s Tale, where Griselda showed an incredible degree of it, even though Jesus may have shown greater in the Agony in the Garden, which was pondered with Pascal on this blog last May (2021). The Franklin’s teaching is more obviously practical:

For in this world, certein, ther no wight is,
That he ne dooth or seith som-tyme amis.

On every wrong a man may nat be wreken;
After the tyme, moste be temperaunce
To every wight that can on governaunce.

There’s nobody in the world that never does nor says anything amiss. You cannot wreak vengeance for every wrong.

“An eye for an eye will leave everyone blind,” as Gandhi might have said, but perhaps did not specifically. Neither does he seem to have said that Western civilization would be a good idea. Also in May, in “To Be Civilized,” I took issue with an historian for being sloppy on this point and on the philosophy of Collingwood, whom he supposedly admired.


The Franklin shares his plot with, or takes it from, the fifth tale of the tenth day of the Decameron.

  1. One man loves another man’s wife.

  2. She agrees return the love, if he performs an impossible task.

  3. Magic for hire accomplishes the task.

  4. The husband frees his wife, advising her to to keep her word.

  5. The lover frees her of keeping her promise.

  6. The magician frees the lover of his debt.


Arveragus and Dorigen pledge to serve one another in marriage. After a year of marital bliss, Arveragus goes off as an errant knight. The friends of Dorigen try to cheer her up. When she sees ships at sea from her castle, she wishes her husband were in one of them. Then she looks down at the rocks on which he might be dashed. If god made everything for a reason, why these? Let all rocks be dammed to hell!

Her friends take Dorigen away from the sea. In a garden on May 6, they all dance but Dorigen. A squire called Aurelius dances best; he has been her secret admirer more than two years. He tells her he wishes it had been he, rather than Arveragus, who had gone abroad.

His love for Dorigen might have been read in his face, but she never knew. Now she has the power to save him or slay him.

Dorigen will never be unfaithful, she says, unless – she now says, “in play” – he clears the coast of all rocks.

Nobody else knows what has happened. All go home happy but Aurelius, who is lovesick and raving. He prays Phoebus Apollo to have his sister Lucina (that is, Diana) bring a flood to cover the rocks on the coast for two years. As governing the moon, she should go no faster than her brother for those two years, that the tide may stay in; and let the rocks sink down to Pluto’s realm. Aurelius will make a barefoot pilgrimage to Delphi for this.

Arveragus comes home, in blissful ignorance.

Aurelius is sick for two years, though healed on the outside like a sursanure. His love for Dorigen is more secret than Pamphilius’s for Galatea.

Only Aurelius’s brother the clerk knows something is wrong. He remembers seeing a magic book in Orleans, even though, today, the holy church teaches us not to believe in such things.

Aurelius is keen to go to Orleans. Near town, the brothers meet a clerk who knows why they have come.

Before supper at his house, in his study, this clerk or philosopher makes the visitors see images of hunting, jousting, and dancing.

Inquiring of his squire, the philosopher is told supper is ready.

After supper, the philosopher wants a thousand pounds to remove the rocks from around Brittany. Aurelius accepts. They all go to Brittany. It is December.

Studying the books and the stars, the philosopher finds the right time to make the rocks disappear for a week or two. Aurelius tells Dorigen he has done what she asked.

Arveragus is out of town. Dorigen can foresee only death or dishonor. She thinks of numerous women, such as Lucretia, who chose death.

When Arveragus comes home on the third night, Dorigen tells him everything. “Is that all?” he asks with a smile.

Arveragus would rather die than see his wife not keep her word. Just let her tell nobody about it. He sends her with a squire and a maid to meet Aurelius, who, seeing her distress, disavows his lust and releases her. She and her husband live happily ever after.

Meanwhile, Aurelius can pay the philosopher five hundred pounds, but asks two or three years to raise the rest. Learning the whole story, the philosopher releases Aurelius.

Who was the most free?


We don’t know what Arveragus and Dorigen see in each other. The former may be more concerned with his honor than his love. On the other hand, Dorigen does tell him the whole story about Aurelius, and thus Arveragus can see that she still loves him. He may understand that Aurelius will see this too and thus decline to take what he has been promised.

Can Dorigen argue, or Arveragus argue on her behalf, that Aurelius has not performed exactly the task required, which was to “remove all the rocks, stone by stone”? Such pettifogging might be dishonorable. To demand a task that one believes impossible is already dishonorable, I think, at least if betting on a certainty is dishonorable.


This is little to do with Chaucer, but betting on a certainty is ungentlemanly, according to John Blackbridge in The Complete Poker Player (1880), as quoted by Maugham in the story, “The Portrait of a Gentleman”:

Poker is a game for gentlemen (he does not hesitate to make frequent use of this abused word; he lived in a day when to be a gentleman had its obligations but also its privileges) and a straight flush is to be respected, not because you make money on it (“I have never seen anyone make much money upon a straight flush,” he says) but “because it prevents any hand from being absolutely the winning hand, and thus relieves gentlemen from the necessity of betting on a certainty. Without the use of straights, and hence without the use of a straight flush, four aces would be a certainty and no gentleman could do more than call on them.”

The story was apparently first published in June, 1925, in Cosmopolitan. In January, there had been “Mr Know-All,” in which Mrs Ramsey warns her husband not to bet on the certainty that her pearls are not real. The couple are on a ship from San Francisco to Yokohama, and Mr Ramsey is in the American Consular Service.

Mrs Ramsey has told her husband that the pearls are not real. However, she is not like Dorigen, but has accepted a gift from a wealthy lover. At the end of the story, the title character tells Maugham, “If I had a pretty little wife I shouldn’t let her spend a year in New York while I stayed at Kobe.”

Because of this, Maugham, or his persona, warms to Mr Know-All, having made racist comments about him throughout the story. This makes even creepier what Maugham says in “The Portrait of a Gentleman” about John Blackbridge, who lived twenty years in New York, and yet,

It may be presumed that he was a Southerner, for while speaking of Jack Pots, which he describes as a frivolous attempt to make the game more interesting, he remarks that they are not popular in the South. “This last fact,” he says, “contains much promise, because the South is the conservative portion of the country, and may be relied on as the last resort of good sense in social matters. The revolutionary Kossuth made no progress below Richmond; neither Spiritualism, nor Free Love, nor Communism, has ever been received with the least favour by the Southern mind; and it is for this reason that we greatly respect the Southern verdict upon the Jack Pot.”

For explanation of jack pots, I pass to “A History of Poker” by David Parlett:

From the middle of the 19th century Poker experienced rapid changes and innovations as it became more widespread through the upheavals of the Civil War … More contentious was the introduction of Jack Pots, which originally meant that you were not allowed to open unless you held a pair of Jacks or better, and were obliged to open if you did, though the second half of this rule was subsequently abandoned … This device was intended to impose discipline on the game … Blackridge [sic] opposed Jack Pots, pithily declaring it ‘equivalent to a lottery except that all players must buy tickets’.

I see copies of Blackbridge’s book available from booksellers and auction houses, but not for download from the Web Archive or Project Gutenberg. One blogger writes of how it was excerpted in a poker anthology.


The Prologe of the Frankeleyns Tale.

THISE olde gentil Britons in hir dayes
Of diverse aventures maden layes,  710
Rymeyed in hir firste Briton tonge;
Which layes with hir instruments they songe,  (40)
Or elles redden hem for hir plesaunce;
And oon of hem have I in remembraunce,
Which I shal seyn
with good wil as I can.  715


But, sires, by-cause I am a burel man,
At my biginning first I yow biseche
Have me excused of my rude speche;
I lerned never rethoryk certeyn;

Thing that I speke, it moot be bare and pleyn.  720
I sleep never on the mount of Pernaso,
Ne lerned Marcus Tullius Cithero.  (50)
Colours ne knowe I none, with-outen drede,
But swiche colours as growen in the mede,
Or elles swiche as men dye or peynte.  725
Colours of rethoryk ben me to queynte;
My spirit feleth noght of swich matere.
But if yow list, my tale shul ye here.

How long has it been happening that people are ashamed of being ill educated?


Here biginneth the Frankeleyns Tale.

“Map of Gaul in the 1st century BCE,
showing the relative positions of the Celtic tribes.”
From Wikimedia Commons.
In a close-up, “Aremorio” was changed to “Armorica”

IN Armorik, that called is Britayne,
Ther was a knight that loved and dide his payne  730
To serve a lady in his beste wyse;

And many a labour, many a greet empryse
He for his lady wroghte, er she were wonne.
For she was oon, the faireste under sonne,
And eek therto come of so heigh kinrede,  735
That wel unnethes dorste this knight, for drede,
Telle hir his wo, his peyne, and his distresse.
But atte laste, she, for his worthinesse,  (10)
And namely for his meke obeysaunce,
Hath swich a pitee caught of his penaunce,  740
That prively she fil of his accord
To take him for hir housbonde and hir lord,

Of swich lordshipe as men han over hir wyves;
And for to lede the more in blisse hir lyves,
Of his free wil he swoor hir as a knight,  745
That never in al his lyf he,
day ne night,
Ne sholde up-on him take no maistrye
Agayn hir wil,
ne kythe hir Ialousye,  (20)
But hir obeye, and folwe hir wil in al
As any lovere to his lady shal;  750
Save that the name of soveraynetee,
That wolde he have for shame of his degree.

Apparently Dorigen has not demanded sovereignty over Arveragus; he offers it. Read on.

She thanked him, and with ful greet humblesse
She seyde, ‘sire, sith of your gentillesse
Ye profre me to have so large a reyne,
Ne wolde never god bitwixe us tweyne,
As in my gilt, were outher werre or stryf.
Sir, I wol be your humble trewe wyf,  (30)
Have heer my trouthe, til that myn herte breste.’
Thus been they bothe in quiete and in reste.  760

The grammar is confusing. Perhaps, in Dorigen’s speech, wolde is our “would,” in the subjunctive mood, used imperatively or optatively, as if the meaning were,

Sir, since of your gentility you proffer me to have so large a reign, may God never will that betwixt us twain, as in my guilt, there be either war or strife.

Perhaps “as in my gilt” means as [for example] if I am guilty, or even if I am guilty. Here then is a possible verse rendition:

She thanked him, and with full great humbleness
She told him, “Sir, since of your gentleness
You proffer me to have so large a reign,
I would to God that ne’er betwixt us twain,
Though in my guilt, were either war or strife.”

Robinson notes “pleonastic” uses of “as” in two passages. Neither one may be parallel to the passage we are puzzling over, but at least we can see that Chaucer uses “as” in various ways:

  • Knight’s Tale, line 2302:

    ‘O chaste goddesse of the wodes grene,
    To whom bothe hevene and erthe and see is sene,  (1440)
    Quene of the regne of Pluto derk and lowe,
    Goddesse of maydens, that myn herte hast knowe  2300
    Ful many a yeer, and woost what I desire,
    As keep me fro thy vengeaunce and thyn ire,
    That Attheon aboughte cruelly.’

  • Prologue, line 462:

    She was a worthy womman al hir lyve,
    Housbondes at chirche-dore she hadde fyve,  460
    Withouten other companye in youthe;
    But therof nedeth nat to speke as nouthe.

For o thing, sires, saufly dar I seye,
That frendes everich other moot obeye,
If they wol longe holden companye.
Love wol nat ben constreyned by maistrye;
Whan maistrie comth, the god of love anon  765
Beteth hise winges, and farewel! he is gon!
Love is a thing as any spirit free;
Wommen of kinde desiren libertee,
And nat to ben constreyned as a thral;
And so don men, if I soth seyen shal.  770
Loke who that is most pacient in love,
He is at his avantage al above.
Pacience is an heigh vertu certeyn;
For it venquisseth, as thise clerkes seyn,
Thinges that rigour sholde never atteyne.  775
For every word men may nat chyde or pleyne.
Lerneth to suffre, or elles, so moot I goon,
Ye shul it lerne, wher-so ye wole or noon.  (50)
For in this world, certein, ther no wight is,
That he ne dooth or seith som-tyme amis.
Ire, siknesse, or constellacioun,
Wyn, wo, or chaunginge of complexioun
Causeth ful ofte to doon amis or speken.
On every wrong a man may nat be wreken;
After the tyme, moste be temperaunce  785
To every wight that can on governaunce.
And therfore hath this wyse worthy knight,
To live in ese, suffrance hir bihight,  (60)
And she to him ful wisly gan to swere
That never sholde ther be defaute in here.  790

Wreken is past participle of “wreak [vengeance].”

Bihight is the past participle of beheten “promise.”

I have quoted a lot of this passage in my introduction. It starts by saying that friends must always obey one another; it ends by saying that Arverigus and Dorigen pledge to be such friends. How long have there been married couples who could be such friends?

Heer may men seen an humble wys accord;
Thus hath she take hir servant and hir lord,
Servant in love, and lord in mariage;

Than was he bothe in lordship and servage;
Servage? nay, but in lordshipe above,  795
Sith he hath bothe his lady and his love;
His lady, certes, and his wyf also,
The which that lawe of love acordeth to.  (70)
And whan he was in this prosperitee,
Hoom with his wyf he gooth to his contree,  800
Nat fer fro Penmark,
ther his dwelling was,
Wher-as he liveth in blisse and in solas.

There is a village of Penmark (Pen-marc in Welsh) in Wales, near the Severn Estuary and with the remains of a 13th-century castle; but apparently the town of Arveragus is Penmarc’h in Brittany.

Who coude telle, but he had wedded be,
The Ioye, the ese, and the prosperitee
That is bitwixe an housbonde and his wyf?  805
A yeer and more lasted this blisful lyf,
that the knight of which I speke of thus,
That of Kayrrud was cleped Arveragus,  (80)
Shoop him to goon, and dwelle a yeer or tweyne
In Engelond, that cleped was eek Briteyne,
To seke in armes worship and honour;
For al his lust he sette in swich labour;
And dwelled ther two yeer, the book seith thus.

Who could tell the joy, ease, and prosperity of marriage? Would the Wife of Bath tell it? As some wag might say, even Socrates, or Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, “One somebody who had not been married would praise it in such terms.” Arverigus evidently has more lust for knight-errantry than for his wife.

Now wol I stinte of this Arveragus,
And speken I wole of Dorigene his wyf,  815
That loveth hir housbonde as hir hertes lyf.
For his absence wepeth she and syketh,
As doon thise noble wyves whan hem lyketh.  (90)
She moorneth, waketh, wayleth, fasteth, pleyneth;
Desyr of his presence hir so distreyneth,  820
That al this wyde world she sette at noght.
Hir frendes, whiche that knewe hir hevy thoght,
Conforten hir in al that ever they may;
They prechen hir, they telle hir night and day,
That causelees she sleeth hir-self, allas!
And every confort possible in this cas
They doon to hir with al hir bisinesse,
Al for to make hir leve hir hevinesse.  (100)

How comforting are these friends? How are they, as friends, different from the husband?

By proces, as ye knowen everichoon,
Men may so longe graven in a stoon,  830
Til som figure ther-inne emprented be.
So longe han they conforted hir, til she
Receyved hath, by hope and by resoun,
The emprenting of hir consolacioun,

Thurgh which hir grete sorwe gan aswage;  835
She may nat alwey duren in swich rage.

If your friend is not cheering up under your attention, does that mean you should redouble your attention?

And eek Arveragus, in al this care,
Hath sent hir lettres hoom of his welfare,
And that he wol come hastily agayn;
Or elles hadde this sorwe hir herte slayn.  840


Hir freendes sawe hir sorwe gan to slake,
And preyede hir on knees, for goddes sake,
To come and romen hir in companye,
Awey to dryve hir derke fantasye.
And finally, she graunted that requeste;  845
For wel she saugh that it was for the beste.


Now stood hir castel faste by the see,
And often with hir freendes walketh she  (120)
Hir to disporte up-on the bank an heigh,
Wher-as she many a ship and barge seigh  850
Seilinge hir cours, wher-as hem liste go;
But than was that a parcel of hir wo.
For to hir-self ful ofte ‘allas!’ seith she,
‘Is ther no ship, of so manye as I see,
Wol bringen hom my lord? than were myn herte  855
Al warisshed of his bittre peynes smerte.’

“Warish,” or “guarish,” is from the verb that in French is now guérir.

Another tyme ther wolde she sitte and thinke,
And caste hir eyen dounward fro the brinke.  (130)
But whan she saugh the grisly rokkes blake,
For verray fere so wolde hir herte quake,  860
That on hir feet she mighte hir noght sustene.
Than wolde she sitte adoun upon the grene,
And pitously in-to the see biholde,
And seyn right thus, with sorweful sykes colde:


Eterne god, that thurgh thy purveyaunce  865
Ledest the world by certein governaunce,
In ydel, as men seyn, ye no-thing make;
But, lord, thise grisly feendly rokkes blake,
That semen rather a foul confusioun
Of werk than any fair creacioun  870
Of swich a parfit wys god and a stable,
Why han ye wroght this werk unresonable?
For by this werk, south, north, ne west, ne eest,
Ther nis y-fostred man, ne brid, ne beest;
It dooth no good, to my wit, but anoyeth.  875
See ye nat, lord, how mankinde it destroyeth?
An hundred thousand bodies of mankinde
Han rokkes slayn, al be they nat in minde,  (150)
Which mankinde is so fair part of thy werk
That thou it madest lyk to thyn owene merk.  880
Than semed it ye hadde a greet chiertee
Toward mankinde; but how than may it be
That ye swiche menes make it to destroyen,
Whiche menes do no good, but ever anoyen?
I woot wel clerkes wol seyn, as hem leste,  885
By arguments, that al is for the beste,

Though I ne can the causes nat y-knowe.
But thilke god, that made wind to blowe,  (160)
As kepe my lord!
this my conclusioun;
To clerkes lete I al disputisoun.  890
But wolde god that alle thise rokkes blake
Were sonken in-to helle for his sake!

Thise rokkes sleen myn herte for the fere.’
Thus wolde she seyn, with many a pitous tere.


Hir freendes sawe that it was no disport  895
To romen by the see,
but disconfort;
And shopen for to pleyen somwher elles.
They leden hir by riveres and by welles,  (170)
And eek in othere places delitables;
They dauncen, and they pleyen at ches and tables.  900


So on a day, right in the morwe-tyde,
Un-to a gardin that was ther bisyde,
In which that they had maad hir ordinaunce
Of vitaille and of other purveyaunce,
They goon and pleye hem al the longe day.  905
And this was on the sixte morwe of May,

Which May had peynted with his softe shoures
This gardin ful of leves and of floures;  (180)
And craft of mannes hand so curiously
Arrayed hadde this gardin, trewely,  910
That never was ther gardin of swich prys,
But-if it were the verray paradys.
The odour of floures and the fresshe sighte
Wolde han maad any herte for to lighte
That ever was born, but-if to gret siknesse,  915
Or to gret sorwe helde it in distresse;
So ful it was of beautee with plesaunce.
At-after diner gonne they to daunce,  (190)
And singe also, save Dorigen allone,

Which made alwey hir compleint and hir mone;  920
For she ne saugh him on the daunce go,
That was hir housbonde and hir love also.
But nathelees she moste a tyme abyde,
And with good hope lete hir sorwe slyde.


Up-on this daunce, amonges othere men,  925
Daunced a squyer biforen Dorigen,
That fressher was and Iolyer of array,
As to my doom, than is the monthe of May.
He singeth, daunceth, passinge any man
That is, or was, sith that the world bigan.  930
Ther-with he was, if men sholde him discryve,
Oon of the beste faringe man on-lyve;
Yong, strong, right vertuous, and riche and wys,
And wel biloved, and holden in gret prys.
And shortly, if the sothe I tellen shal,  935
Unwiting of this Dorigen at al,
This lusty squyer, servant to Venus,
Which that y-cleped was Aurelius,  (210)
Had loved hir best of any creature
Two yeer and more,
as was his aventure,  940
But never dorste he telle hir his grevaunce;
With-outen coppe he drank al his penaunce.
He was despeyred, no-thing dorste he seye,
Save in his songes somwhat wolde he wreye
His wo, as in a general compleyning;  945
He seyde he lovede, and was biloved no-thing.

Of swich matere made he manye layes,
Songes, compleintes, roundels, virelayes,  (220)
How that he dorste nat his sorwe telle,
But languissheth, as a furie dooth in helle;  950
And dye he moste, he seyde, as dide Ekko
For Narcisus, that dorste nat telle hir wo.
In other manere than ye here me seye,
Ne dorste he nat to hir his wo biwreye;
Save that, paraventure, som-tyme at daunces,  955
Ther yonge folk kepen hir observaunces,
It may wel be he loked on hir face
In swich a wyse, as man that asketh grace;  (230)
But no-thing wiste she of his entente.
it happed, er they thennes wente,  960
By-cause that he was hir neighebour,
And was a man of worship and honour,
And hadde y-knowen him of tyme yore,
They fille in speche; and forth more and more
Un-to his purpos drough Aurelius,  965
And whan he saugh his tyme, he seyde thus:


‘Madame,’ quod he, ‘by god that this world made,
So that I wiste it mighte your herte glade,  (240)
I wolde, that day that your Arveragus
Wente over the see, that I, Aurelius,  970
Had went ther
never I sholde have come agayn;
For wel I woot my service is in vayn.
My guerdon is but bresting of myn herte;
Madame, reweth upon my peynes smerte;
For with a word ye may me sleen or save,
Heer at your feet god wolde that I were grave!
I ne have as now no leyser more to seye;
Have mercy, swete, or ye wol do me deye!’  (250)

Arveragus gave Dorigen sovereignty. Now Aurelius says she has sovereignty, but how different is it?

She gan to loke up-on Aurelius:
‘Is this your wil,’ quod she, ‘and sey ye thus?  980
Never erst,’ quod she, ‘ne wiste I what ye mente.
But now, Aurelie, I knowe your entente,
By thilke god that yaf me soule and lyf,
Ne shal I never been untrewe wyf
In word ne werk, as fer as I have wit:  985
I wol ben his to whom that I am knit;
Tak this for fynal answer as of me.’
But after that in pley thus seyde she:  (260)


‘Aurelie,’ quod she, ‘by heighe god above,
Yet wolde I graunte yow to been your love,  990
Sin I yow see so pitously complayne;
Loke what day that, endelong Britayne,
Ye remoeve alle the rokkes, stoon by stoon,
That they ne lette ship ne boot to goon –
I seye, whan ye han maad the coost so clene  995
Of rokkes, that ther nis no stoon y-sene,
Than wol I love yow best of any man;

Have heer my trouthe in al that ever I can.’  (270)


‘Is ther non other grace in yow,’ quod he.


‘No, by that lord,’ quod she, ‘that maked me!  1000
For wel I woot that it shal never bityde.
Lat swiche folies out of your herte slyde.

What deyntee sholde a man han in his lyf
For to go love another mannes wyf,
That hath hir body whan so that him lyketh?’  1005


Aurelius ful ofte sore syketh;
Wo was Aurelie, whan that he this herde,
And with a sorweful herte he thus answerde:  (280)


‘Madame,’ quod he, ‘this were an inpossible!
Than moot I dye of sodein deth horrible. 1010
And with that word he turned him anoon.
Tho come hir othere freendes many oon,
And in the aleyes romeden up and doun,
And no-thing wiste of this conclusioun,
But sodeinly bigonne revel newe  1015
Til that the brighte sonne loste his hewe;
For thorisonte hath reft the sonne his light;
This is as muche to seye as it was night.  (290)
And hoom they goon in Ioye and in solas,
Save only wrecche Aurelius, allas!  1020
He to his hous is goon with sorweful herte;

He seeth he may nat fro his deeth asterte.
Him semed that he felte his herte colde;
Up to the hevene his handes he gan holde,
And on his knowes bare he sette him doun,  1025
And in his raving seyde his orisoun.
For verray wo out of his wit he breyde.
He niste what he spak, but thus he seyde;  (300)
With pitous herte his pleynt hath he bigonne
Un-to the goddes, and first un-to the sonne:  1030


He seyde, ‘Appollo, god and governour
Of every plaunte, herbe, tree and flour,
That yevest, after thy declinacioun,
To ech of hem his tyme and his sesoun,
As thyn herberwe chaungeth lowe or hye,  1035
Lord Phebus, cast thy merciable ye
On wrecche Aurelie, which that am but lorn.
Lo, lord! my lady hath my deeth y-sworn  (310)
With-oute gilt, but thy benignitee
Upon my dedly herte have som pitee!  1040
For wel I woot, lord Phebus, if yow lest,
Ye may me helpen, save my lady, best.

Now voucheth sauf that I may yow devyse
How that I may been holpe and in what wyse.’


Your blisful suster, Lucina the shene,  1045
That of the see is chief goddesse and quene,
Though Neptunus have deitee in the see,
Yet emperesse aboven him is she:  (320)
Ye knowen wel, lord, that right as hir desyr
Is to be quiked and lightned of your fyr,  1050
For which she folweth yow ful bisily,
Right so the see desyreth naturelly
To folwen hir, as she that is goddesse
Bothe in the see and riveres more and lesse.
Wherfore, lord Phebus, this is my requeste –  1055
Do this miracle, or do myn herte breste –
That now, next at this opposicioun,
Which in the signe shal be of the Leoun,  (330)
As preyeth hir so greet a flood to bringe,
That fyve fadme at the leeste it overspringe  1060
The hyeste rokke in Armorik Briteyne;
And lat this flood endure yeres tweyne;

Than certes to my lady may I seye:’

‘“Holdeth your heste, the rokkes been aweye.”’

Perhaps this kind of thinking is why we have an ecological emergency.

‘Lord Phebus, dooth this miracle for me;  1065
Preye hir she go no faster cours than ye;
I seye, preyeth your suster that she go
No faster cours than ye thise yeres two.  (340)
Than shal she been evene atte fulle alway,
And spring-flood laste bothe night and day.  1070
And, but she vouche-sauf in swiche manere
To graunte me my sovereyn lady dere,
Prey hir to sinken every rok adoun
In-to hir owene derke regioun
Under the ground, ther Pluto dwelleth inne,
Or never-mo shal I my lady winne.
Thy temple in Delphos wol I barefoot seke;
Lord Phebus, see the teres on my cheke,  (350)
And of my peyne have som compassioun.’
And with that word in swowne he fil adoun,  1080
And longe tyme he lay forth in a traunce.


His brother, which that knew of his penaunce,
Up caughte him and to bedde he hath him broght.

Dispeyred in this torment and this thoght
Lete I this woful creature lye;  1085
Chese he, for me, whether he wol live or dye.

Let the brother choose for the Franklin whether Aurelius shall live or die?

Arveragus, with hele and greet honour,
As he that was of chivalrye the flour,  (360)
Is comen hoom, and othere worthy men.
O blisful artow now, thou Dorigen,  1090
That hast thy lusty housbonde in thyne armes,
The fresshe knight, the worthy man of armes,
That loveth thee, as his owene hertes lyf.
No-thing list him to been imaginatyf
If any wight had spoke, whyl he was oute,  1095
To hire of love;
he hadde of it no doute.
He noght entendeth to no swich matere,
But daunceth, Iusteth, maketh hir good chere;  (370)
And thus in Ioye and blisse I lete hem dwelle,
And of the syke Aurelius wol I telle.  1100


In langour and in torment furious
Two yeer and more lay wrecche Aurelius,
Er any foot he mighte on erthe goon;
Ne confort in this tyme hadde he noon,
Save of his brother, which that was a clerk;
He knew of al this wo and al this werk.
For to non other creature certeyn
Of this matere he dorste no word seyn.  (380)
Under his brest he bar it more secree
Than ever dide Pamphilus for Galathee.  1110
His brest was hool, with-oute for to sene,
But in his herte ay was the arwe kene.

And wel ye knowe that of a sursanure
In surgerye is perilous the cure,
But men mighte touche the arwe, or come therby.  1115
His brother weep and wayled prively,
Til atte laste him fil in remembraunce,
That whyl he was at Orliens in Fraunce,  (390)
As yonge clerkes,
that been likerous
To reden artes that been curious,  1120
Seken in every halke and every herne
Particuler sciences for to lerne,
He him remembred that, upon a day,
At Orliens in studie a book he say
Of magik naturel,
which his felawe,  1125
That was that tyme a bacheler of lawe,
Al were he ther to lerne another craft,
Had prively upon his desk y-laft;  (400)
Which book spak muchel of the operaciouns,
Touchinge the eighte and twenty mansiouns  1130
That longen to the mone, and swich folye,
As in our dayes is nat worth a flye;
For holy chirches feith in our bileve
Ne suffreth noon illusion us to greve.

And whan this book was in his remembraunce,  1135
Anon for Ioye his herte gan to daunce,
And to him-self he seyde prively:
My brother shal be warisshed hastily;  (410)
For I am siker that ther be sciences,
By whiche men make diverse apparences  1140
Swiche as thise subtile tregetoures pleye.

For ofte at festes have I wel herd seye,
That tregetours, with-inne an halle large,
Have maad come in a water and a barge,
And in the halle rowen up and doun.  1145
Somtyme hath semed come a grim leoun;
And somtyme floures springe as in a mede;
Somtyme a vyne, and grapes whyte and rede;  (420)
Somtyme a castel, al of lym and stoon;
And whan hem lyked, voyded it anoon.  1150
Thus semed it to every mannes sighte.’

The “Pamphilus de amore” is said to be the source of our word “pamphlet.” Writes Irina Dumitrescu, “Making My Moan” (London Review of Books, Vol. 42, No. 9, 7 May 2020), which Wikipedia cites,

In Pamphilus, a short Latin comedy probably written in France before 1200, the eponymous hero falls pathetically in love with the virgin Galathea. Instead of attempting to win her heart, he pays an old woman to entrap her and, despite her protestations, rapes her. Early in the story Galathea is quite keen on Pamphilus, but being violated destroys any feelings she has for him. Although Pamphilus and the old woman argue that she should accept her situation, her last words are despondent: ‘There is no hope of happiness for me.’ Why was Pamphilus such a popular school text, circulating so widely that it gave us the word ‘pamphlet’? The medievalist Marjorie Curry Woods has pointed out that schoolboys reading Pamphilus may actually have identified with Galathea. As children, they were often physically assaulted and sometimes sexually abused.

“Tregetour,” from French, as if from a Latin verb *transjactare. Compare the Italian tragettatore, “juggler.”

‘Now than conclude I thus, that if I mighte
At Orliens som old felawe y-finde,
That hadde this mones mansions in minde,
Or other magik naturel above,  1155
He sholde wel make my brother han his love.
For with an apparence a clerk may make
To mannes sighte, that alle the rokkes blake  (430)
Of Britaigne weren y-voyded everichon,

And shippes by the brinke comen and gon,  1160
And in swich forme endure a day or two;
Than were my brother warisshed of his wo.
Than moste she nedes holden hir biheste,
Or elles he shal shame hir atte leste.’


What sholde I make a lenger tale of this?  1165
Un-to his brotheres bed he comen is,
And swich confort he yaf him for to gon
To Orliens, that he up stirte anon,
And on his wey forthward thanne is he fare,
In hope for to ben lissed of his care.  1170


Whan they were come almost to that citee,
But-if it were a two furlong or three,
A yong clerk rominge by him-self they mette,
Which that in Latin thriftily hem grette,
And after that he seyde a wonder thing:  1175
‘I knowe,’ quod he, ‘the cause of your coming’;
And er they ferther any fote wente,
He tolde hem al that was in hir entente.  (450)


This Briton clerk him asked of felawes
The whiche that he had knowe in olde dawes;  1180
And he answerde him that they dede were,
For which he weep ful ofte many a tere.


Doun of his hors Aurelius lighte anon,
And forth with this magicien is he gon
Hoom to his hous,
and made hem wel at ese.  1185
Hem lakked no vitaille that mighte hem plese;
So wel arrayed hous as ther was oon
Aurelius in his lyf saugh never noon.  (460)


He shewed him, er he wente to sopeer,
Forestes, parkes ful of wilde deer;
Ther saugh he hertes with hir hornes hye,
The gretteste that ever were seyn with ye.
He saugh of hem an hondred slayn with houndes,
And somme with arwes blede of bittre woundes.
He saugh, whan voided were thise wilde deer,  1195
Thise fauconers upon a fair river,
That with hir haukes han the heron slayn.


Tho saugh he knightes Iusting in a playn;  (470)
And after this, he dide him swich plesaunce,
That he him shewed his lady on a daunce  1200
On which him-self he daunced, as him thoughte.

And whan this maister, that this magik wroughte,
Saugh it was tyme, he clapte his handes two,
And farewel! al our revel was ago.
And yet remoeved they never out of the hous,  1205
Whyl they saugh al this sighte merveillous,
But in his studie, ther-as his bookes be,
They seten stille, and no wight but they three.  (480)


To him this maister called his squyer,
And seyde him thus: ‘is redy our soper?  1210
Almost an houre it is, I undertake,
Sith I yow bad our soper for to make,
Whan that thise worthy men wenten with me
In-to my studie, ther-as my bookes be.’


‘Sire,’ quod this squyer, ‘whan it lyketh yow,  1215
It is al redy, though ye wol right now.’
‘Go we than soupe,’ quod he, ‘as for the beste;
This amorous folk som-tyme mote han reste.’  (490)


At-after soper fille they in tretee,
What somme sholde this maistres guerdon be,
To remoeven alle the rokkes of Britayne,
And eek from Gerounde to the mouth of Sayne.


He made it straunge, and swoor, so god him save,
Lasse than a thousand pound he wolde nat have,
Ne gladly for that somme he wolde nat goon.  1225


Aurelius, with blisful herte anoon,
Answerde thus, ‘fy on a thousand pound!
This wyde world, which that men seye is round,  (500)
I wolde it yeve, if I were lord of it.
This bargayn is ful drive, for we ben knit.  1230
Ye shal be payed trewely, by my trouthe!
But loketh now, for no necligence or slouthe,
Ye tarie us heer no lenger than to-morwe.’
‘Nay,’ quod this clerk, ‘have heer my feith to borwe.’


To bedde is goon Aurelius whan him leste,  1235
And wel ny al that night he hadde his reste;
What for his labour and his hope of blisse,
His woful herte of penaunce hadde a lisse.  (510)


Upon the morwe, whan that it was day,
To Britaigne toke they the righte way,  1240
Aurelius, and this magicien bisyde,

And been descended ther they wolde abyde;
And this was, as the bokes me remembre,
The colde frosty seson of Decembre.


Phebus wex old, and hewed lyk latoun,  1245
That in his hote declinacioun
Shoon as the burned gold with stremes brighte;
But now in Capricorn adoun he lighte,  (520)
Wher-as he shoon ful pale, I dar wel seyn.
The bittre frostes, with the sleet and reyn,  1250
Destroyed hath the grene in every yerd.
Ianus sit by the fyr, with double berd,
And drinketh of his bugle-horn the wyn.
Biforn him stant braun of the tusked swyn,
And “Nowel” cryeth every lusty man.  1255


Aurelius, in al that ever he can,
Doth to his maister chere and reverence,

And preyeth him to doon his diligence  (530)
To bringen him out of his peynes smerte,
Or with a swerd that he wolde slitte his herte.  1260

The master being the philosopher, or Apollo?

This subtil clerk swich routhe had of this man,
That night and day he spedde him that he can,
To wayte a tyme of his conclusioun;
This is to seye, to make illusioun,

By swich an apparence or Iogelrye,  1265
I ne can no termes of astrologye,
That she and every wight sholde wene and seye,
That of Britaigne the rokkes were aweye,  (540)
Or elles they were sonken under grounde.
So atte laste he hath his tyme y-founde  1270
To maken his Iapes and his wrecchednesse

Of swich a supersticious cursednesse.
His tables Toletanes forth he broght,
Ful wel corrected, ne ther lakked noght,
Neither his collect ne his expans yeres,  1275
Ne his rotes ne his othere geres,
As been his centres and his arguments,
And his proporcionels convenients  (550)
For his equacions in every thing.
And, by his eighte spere in his wirking,  1280
He knew ful wel how fer Alnath was shove
Fro the heed of thilke fixe Aries above
That in the ninthe speere considered is;
Ful subtilly he calculed al this.


Whan he had founde his firste mansioun,  1285
He knew the remenant by proporcioun;
And knew the arysing of his mone weel,
And in whos face, and terme, and every-deel;  (560)
And knew ful weel the mones mansioun
Acordaunt to his operacioun,  1290
And knew also his othere observaunces
For swiche illusiouns and swiche meschaunces
As hethen folk used in thilke dayes;
For which no lenger maked he delayes,
But thurgh his magik, for a wyke or tweye,  1295
It semed that alle the rokkes were aweye.


Aurelius, which that yet despeired is
Wher he shal han his love or fare amis,  (570)
Awaiteth night and day on this miracle;
And whan he knew that ther was noon obstacle,  1300
That voided were thise rokkes everichon,
Doun to his maistres feet he fil anon,
And seyde, ‘I woful wrecche, Aurelius,
Thanke yow, lord, and lady myn Venus,
That me han holpen fro my cares colde:’  1305
And to the temple his wey forth hath he holde,
Wher-as he knew he sholde his lady see.

And whan he saugh his tyme, anon-right he,  (580)
With dredful herte and with ful humble chere,
Salewed hath his sovereyn lady dere:  1310


‘My righte lady,’ quod this woful man,
‘Whom I most drede and love as I best can,
And lothest were of al this world displese,
Nere it that I for yow have swich disese,
That I moste dyen heer at your foot anon,  1315
Noght wolde I telle how me is wo bigon;
But certes outher moste I dye or pleyne;
Ye slee me giltelees for verray peyne.  (590)
But of my deeth, thogh that ye have no routhe,
Avyseth yow, er that ye breke your trouthe.  1320
Repenteth yow, for thilke god above,
Er ye me sleen by-cause that I yow love.
For, madame, wel ye woot what ye han hight;
Nat that I chalange any thing of right
Of yow my sovereyn lady, but your grace;  1325
But in a gardin yond, at swich a place,
Ye woot right wel what ye bihighten me;
And in myn hand your trouthe plighten ye  (600)
To love me best, god woot, ye seyde so,
Al be that I unworthy be therto.  1330
Madame, I speke it for the honour of yow,
More than to save myn hertes lyf right now;
I have do so as ye comanded me;
And if ye vouche-sauf, ye may go see.
Doth as yow list, have your biheste in minde,  1335
For quik or deed, right ther ye shul me finde;
In yow lyth al, to do me live or deye; –
But wel I woot the rokkes been aweye!’  (610)


He taketh his leve, and she astonied stood,
In al hir face nas a drope of blood;  1340
She wende never han come in swich a trappe:
‘Allas!’ quod she, ‘that ever this sholde happe!
For wende I never, by possibilitee,
That swich a monstre or merveille mighte be!
It is agayns the proces of nature’:  1345
And hoom she gooth a sorweful creature.
For verray fere unnethe may she go,
She wepeth, wailleth, al a day or two,  (620)
And swowneth, that it routhe was to see;
But why it was, to no wight tolde she;  1350
For out of toune was goon Arveragus.
But to hir-self she spak, and seyde thus,
With face pale and with ful sorweful chere,
In hir compleynt, as ye shul after here:


‘Allas,’ quod she, ‘on thee, Fortune, I pleyne,  1355
That unwar wrapped hast me in thy cheyne;
For which, tescape, woot I no socour
Save only deeth or elles dishonour;
Oon of thise two bihoveth me to chese.
But nathelees, yet have I lever to lese  1360
My lyf than of my body have a shame,
Or knowe my-selven fals, or lese my name,
And with my deth I may be quit, y-wis.
Hath ther nat many a noble wyf, er this,
And many a mayde y-slayn hir-self, allas!  1365
Rather than with hir body doon trespas?’


‘Yis, certes, lo, thise stories beren witnesse;
Whan thretty tyraunts, ful of cursednesse,  (640)
Had slayn Phidoun in Athenes, atte feste,
They comanded his doghtres for tareste,  1370
And bringen hem biforn hem in despyt
Al naked, to fulfille hir foul delyt,
And in hir fadres blood they made hem daunce
Upon the pavement, god yeve hem mischaunce!
For which thise woful maydens, ful of drede,  1375
Rather than they wolde lese hir maydenhede,
They prively ben stirt in-to a welle,
And dreynte hem-selven, as the bokes telle.’  (650)

Chaucer is apparently reading Jerome, Golden Book of Marriage:

When the thirty tyrants of Athens had slain Phidon at the banquet, they commanded his virgin daughters to come to them, naked like harlots, and there upon the ground, red with their father’s blood, to act the wanton. For a little while they hid their grief, and then when they saw the revellers were intoxicated, going out on the plea of easing nature, they embraced one another and threw themselves into a well, that by death they might save their virginity.

Examples to come may also come from this source.

‘They of Messene lete enquere and seke
Of Lacedomie fifty maydens eke,  1380
On whiche they wolden doon hir lecherye;
But was ther noon of al that companye
That she nas slayn, and with a good entente
Chees rather for to dye than assente
To been oppressed of hir maydenhede.  1385
Why sholde I thanne to dye been in drede?


‘Lo, eek, the tiraunt Aristoclides
That loved a mayden, heet Stimphalides,  (660)
Whan that hir fader slayn was on a night,
Un-to Dianes temple goth she right,  1390
And hente the image in hir handes two,
Fro which image wolde she never go.
No wight ne mighte hir handes of it arace,
Til she was slayn right in the selve place.
Now sith that maydens hadden swich despyt  1395
To been defouled with mannes foul delyt,
Wel oghte a wyf rather hir-selven slee
Than be defouled, as it thinketh me.


What shal I seyn of Hasdrubales wyf,
That at Cartage birafte hir-self hir lyf?  1400
For whan she saugh that Romayns wan the toun,
She took hir children alle, and skipte adoun
In-to the fyr, and chees rather to dye
Than any Romayn dide hir vileinye.


Hath nat Lucresse y-slayn hir-self, allas!  1405
At Rome, whanne she oppressed was
Of Tarquin, for hir thoughte it was a shame
To liven whan she hadde lost hir name?’  (680)


‘The sevene maydens of Milesie also
Han slayn hem-self, for verray drede and wo,  1410
Rather than folk of Gaule hem sholde oppresse.
Mo than a thousand stories, as I gesse,
Coude I now telle as touchinge this matere.’


‘Whan Habradate was slayn, his wyf so dere
Hirselven slow, and leet hir blood to glyde  1415
In Habradates woundes depe and wyde,
And seyde, “my body, at the leeste way,
Ther shal no wight defoulen, if I may.”’  (690)


‘What sholde I mo ensamples heer-of sayn,
Sith that so manye han hem-selven slayn  1420
Wel rather than they wolde defouled be?
I wol conclude, that it is bet for me
To sleen my-self, than been defouled thus.
I wol be trewe un-to Arveragus,

Or rather sleen my-self in som manere,  1425
As dide Demociones doghter dere,
By-cause that she wolde nat defouled be.’

Because these other women killed themselves, therefore so must Dorigene? Examples are not enough, but they must be judged to be good.

‘O Cedasus! it is ful greet pitee,  (700)
To reden how thy doghtren deyde, allas!
That slowe hem-selven for swich maner cas.’  1430


‘As greet a pitee was it, or wel more,
The Theban mayden, that for Nichanore
Hir-selven slow, right for swich maner wo.’


‘Another Theban mayden dide right so;
For oon of Macedoine hadde hir oppressed,  1435
She with hir deeth hir maydenhede redressed.’


‘What shal I seye of Nicerates wyf,
That for swich cas birafte hir-self hir lyf?’  (710)


‘How trewe eek was to Alcebiades
His love, that rather for to dyen chees  1440
Than for to suffre his body unburied be!
Lo which a wyf was Alceste,’ quod she.


What seith Omer of gode Penalopee?
Al Grece knoweth of hir chastitee.

Margaret Atwood thinks otherwise in The Penelopiad.

‘Pardee, of Laodomya is writen thus,  1445
That whan at Troye was slayn Protheselaus,
No lenger wolde she live after his day.’


‘The same of noble Porcia telle I may;  (720)
With-oute Brutus coude she nat live,
To whom she hadde al hool hir herte yive.’  1450


‘The parfit wyfhod of Arthemesye
Honoured is thurgh al the Barbarye.’


‘O Teuta, queen! thy wyfly chastitee
To alle wyves may a mirour be.
The same thing I seye of Bilia, [T. om.
Of Rodogone, and eek Valeria.’ [T. om.


Thus pleyned Dorigene a day or tweye,
Purposinge ever that she wolde deye.  (730)


But nathelees, upon the thridde night,
Hom cam Arveragus,
this worthy knight,  1460
And asked hir, why that she weep so sore?
And she gan wepen ever lenger the more.


‘Allas!’ quod she, ‘that ever was I born!
Thus have I seyd,’ quod she, ‘thus have I sworn’ –
And told him al as ye han herd bifore;  1465
It nedeth nat reherce it yow na-more.


This housbond with glad chere, in freendly wyse,
Answerde and seyde
as I shal yow devyse:  (740)
‘Is ther oght elles, Dorigen, but this?’


‘Nay, nay,’ quod she, ‘god help me so, as wis;  1470
This is to muche, and it were goddes wille.’


‘Ye, wyf,’ quod he, ‘lat slepen that is stille;
It may be wel, paraventure, yet to-day.
Ye shul your trouthe holden, by my fay!
For god so wisly have mercy on me,  1475
I hadde wel lever y-stiked for to be,
For verray love which that I to yow have,
But-if ye sholde your trouthe kepe and save.  (750)
Trouthe is the hyeste thing that man may kepe’: –
But with that word he brast anon to wepe,  1480
And seyde, ‘I yow forbede, up peyne of deeth,
That never, whyl thee lasteth lyf ne breeth,
To no wight tel thou of this aventure.

As I may best, I wol my wo endure,
Ne make no contenance of hevinesse,  1485
That folk of yow may demen harm or gesse.’


And forth he cleped a squyer and a mayde:
‘Goth forth anon with Dorigen,’ he sayde,
‘And bringeth hir to swich a place anon.’
They take hir leve, and on hir wey they gon;  1490
But they ne wiste why she thider wente.
He nolde no wight tellen his entente.  (764)


Paraventure an heep of yow, y-wis, [T. om.
Wol holden him a lewed man in this, [T. om.
That he wol putte his wyf in Iupartye; [T. om.
Herkneth the tale, er ye up-on hir crye. [T. om.
She may have bettre fortune than yow semeth; [T. om.
And whan that ye han herd the tale, demeth. [T. om.


This squyer, which that highte Aurelius,  (771)
On Dorigen that was so amorous,  1500
Of aventure happed hir to mete
Amidde the toun, right in the quikkest strete,
As she was boun to goon the wey forth-right
Toward the gardin ther-as she had hight.
And he was to the gardinward also;
For wel he spyed, whan she wolde go
Out of hir hous to any maner place.
But thus they mette, of aventure or grace;  (780)
And he saleweth hir with glad entente,
And asked of hir whiderward she wente?  1510


And she answerde, half as she were mad,
Un-to the gardin, as myn housbond bad,
My trouthe for to holde,
allas! allas!’


Aurelius gan wondren on this cas,
And in his herte had greet compassioun  1515
Of hir and of hir lamentacioun,
And of Arveragus,
the worthy knight,
That bad hir holden al that she had hight,  (790)
So looth him was his wyf sholde breke hir trouthe;
And in his herte he caughte of this greet routhe,  1520
Consideringe the beste on every syde,
That fro his lust yet were him lever abyde
Than doon so heigh a cherlish wrecchednesse
Agayns franchyse and alle gentillesse;

For which in fewe wordes seyde he thus:  1525


Madame, seyth to your lord Arveragus,
That sith I see his grete gentillesse  (800)
To yow, and eek I see wel your distresse,

That him were lever han shame (and that were routhe)
Than ye to me sholde breke thus your trouthe,  1530
I have wel lever ever to suffre wo
Than I departe the love bitwix yow two.
I yow relesse, madame, in-to your hond
Quit every surement and every bond,

That ye han maad to me as heer-biforn,  1535
Sith thilke tyme which that ye were born.
My trouthe I plighte, I shal yow never repreve
Of no biheste, and here I take my leve,  (810)
As of the treweste and the beste wyf
That ever yet I knew in al my lyf.  1540
But every wyf be-war of hir biheste,
On Dorigene remembreth atte leste.
Thus can a squyer doon a gentil dede,
As well as can a knight, with-outen drede.’


She thonketh him up-on hir knees al bare,  1545
And hoom un-to hir housbond is she fare,
And tolde him al as ye han herd me sayd;
And be ye siker, he was so weel apayd,  (820)
That it were inpossible me to wryte;
What sholde I lenger of this cas endyte?  1550


Arveragus and Dorigene his wyf
In sovereyn blisse leden forth hir lyf.

Never eft ne was ther angre hem bitwene;
He cherisseth hir as though she were a quene;
And she was to him trewe for evermore.  1555
Of thise two folk ye gete of me na-more.


Aurelius, that his cost hath al forlorn,
Curseth the tyme that ever he was born:  (830)
‘Allas,’ quod he, ‘allas! that I bihighte
Of pured gold a thousand pound of wighte  1560
Un-to this philosophre!
how shal I do?
I see na-more but that I am fordo.
Myn heritage moot I nedes selle,
And been a begger; heer may I nat dwelle,
And shamen al my kinrede in this place,  1565
But I of him may gete bettre grace.
But nathelees, I wol of him assaye,
At certeyn dayes, yeer by yeer, to paye,  (840)
And thanke him of his grete curteisye;

My trouthe wol I kepe, I wol nat lye.’  1570


With herte soor he gooth un-to his cofre,
And broghte gold un-to this philosophre,
The value of fyve hundred pound,
I gesse,
And him bisecheth, of his gentillesse,
To graunte him dayes of the remenaunt,  1575
And seyde, ‘maister, I dar wel make avaunt,
I failled never of my trouthe as yit;
For sikerly my dette shal be quit  (850)
Towardes yow, how-ever that I fare
To goon a-begged in my kirtle bare.  1580
But wolde ye vouche-sauf, up-on seurtee,
Two yeer or three for to respyten me,

Than were I wel; for elles moot I selle
Myn heritage; ther is na-more to telle.’


This philosophre sobrely answerde,  1585
And seyde thus, whan he thise wordes herde:
‘Have I nat holden covenant un-to thee?’
‘Yes, certes, wel and trewely,’ quod he.  (860)
‘Hastow nat had thy lady as thee lyketh?’
‘No, no,’ quod he, and sorwefully he syketh.  1590
‘What was the cause? tel me if thou can.’
Aurelius his tale anon bigan,
And tolde him al,
as ye han herd bifore;
It nedeth nat to yow reherce it more.


He seide, ‘Arveragus, of gentillesse,  1595
Had lever dye in sorwe and in distresse
Than that his wyf were of hir trouthe fals.’
The sorwe of Dorigen he tolde him als,  (870)
How looth hir was to been a wikked wyf,
And that she lever had lost that day hir lyf,  1600
And that hir trouthe she swoor, thurgh innocence:
‘She never erst herde speke of apparence;
That made me han of hir so greet pitee.
And right as frely as he sente hir me,
As frely sente I hir to him ageyn.
This al and som, ther is na-more to seyn.’


This philosophre answerde, ‘leve brother,
Everich of yow dide gentilly til other.  (880)
Thou art a squyer, and he is a knight;
But god forbede, for his blisful might,  1610
But-if a clerk coude doon a gentil dede
As wel as any of yow, it is no drede!


‘Sire, I relesse thee thy thousand pound,
As thou right now were cropen out of the ground,
Ne never er now ne haddest knowen me.  1615
For sire, I wol nat take a peny of thee
For al my craft, ne noght for my travaille.
Thou hast y-payed wel for my vitaille;  (890)
It is y-nogh, and farewel, have good day:’
And took his hors, and forth he gooth his way.  1620


Lordinges, this question wolde I aske now,  1621
Which was the moste free, as thinketh yow?

Now telleth me, er that ye ferther wende.
I can na-more, my tale is at an ende.  (896)


Here is ended the Frankeleyns Tale.

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