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Benigne he was, and wonder1 diligent,
And in adversitee ful patient:


And swiche he was yprevéd often2 sithes.
Ful loth were him to cursen for his tithes,
But rather wolde he yeven,3 out of doute,
Unto his pouré parishens aboute,
Of his offring, and eke of his substànce.
He coude in litel thing have suffisance.*
Wide was his parish, and houses fer asonder,
But he ne left nought for no rain ne thonder,
In sikenesse and in mischief5 to visìte
The ferrest in his parish, moche and lite,
Upon his fete, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensample to his shepe he yaf,7
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
Out of the Gospel he the wordés caught,
And this figure he added yet therto,
That if gold rusté, what shuld iren do?
For if a preest be foule, on whom we trust,
No wonder is a lewed man to rust.
Wel ought a preest ensample for to yeve,
By his cleennessé, how his shepe shulde live.
He setté not his benefice to hire,

And lette 10 his shepe acombred11 in the mire,
And ran unto Londòn, unto Seint Poules,
To seken him a chanterie 12 for soules,
Or with 13 a brotherhede to be withold;
But dwelt at home, and kepte wel his fold,
So that the wolf ne made it not miscarie.
He was a shepherd, and no mercenàrie.
And though he holy were, and vertuous,
He was to sinful men not dispitòus,14
Ne of his speché dangerous 15 ne digne,10
But in his teching discrete and benigne.
To drawen folk to heven with fairéness,
By good ensample, was his besinesse :


(1) Wonder-wonderfully. (2) Ypreved often, &c.-Proved often since. (3) Yeven-give. (4) Suffisance-sufficiency. (5) Mischief-trouble. (6) Moche and lite-great and small. (7) Yaf-gave. (8) Foule-soiled, defiled. (9) Lewed-ignorant; connected with low. (10) Lette-left. (11) Acombredencumbered. (12) Chanterie-a singing for souls, an endowment for that purpose. (13) Or with, &c.-Or be kept from the world with a brotherhood of monks, or friars. (14) Dispitous-inexorable, angry to excess. (15) Dangerous-(16) Digne-proud, disdainful.


But it were1 any persone obstinat,
What so he were of highe, or low estat,

Him wolde he snibben sharply for the nonés.3
A better preest I trowe that nowher non1 is.
He waited after no pompe ne reverence,
Ne makéd him no spiced consciènce,"
But Cristés lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught, but first he folwed it himselve.


AT Sarra, in the lond of Tartarie,

Ther dwelt a king that werreièd' Russie,
Thurgh which ther diéd many a doughty man:
This noble king was clepéd Cambuscàn,
Which in his time was of so gret renoun,
That ther n' as no wher in no regioùn
So excellent a lord in allé thing:
Him lacked nought that longeth' to a king,
As of the secte 10 of which that he was borne.
He kept his lay11 to which he was ysworne;
And, therto, he was hardy, wise, and riche,
And pitöus, and just; and alway yliche; 12

(1) But it were-But if there were. (2) Snibben-snub, reprove. (3) For the nones-for the occasion, implying that he did not generally reprove sharply. (4) Non-no one. (5) Spiced conscience—a conscience embalmed in sophistries. (6) This romantic story-usually called "the Squire's Tale "-seems to have been a favourite with Milton, who in the "Il Penseroso" characterizes Chaucer


"Him that left half-told

The story of Cambuscan bold,
Of Camball, and of Algarsife,

And who had Canace to wife,

That owned the virtuous ring and glass,

And of the wondrous horse of brass,

On which the Tartar king did ride."

"The imagination," says Warton ("History of English Poetry," § xv), "of this story, consists in Arabian fiction, engrafted on Gothic chivalry."

The story, as above intimated, is in the original only "half told," but to fit it for this selection, the fragment has been somewhat abridged-the part left out however being a wearisome specimen of that "tediousness" which even Chaucer, sometimes "bestows" upon his readers.

(7) Werreied--made war against. (8) Thurgh-through. belongeth.

(9) Longeth

(10) As of the secte, &c.-As suitable to the rank in life to which he (11) Lay-law, that which is laid down, as saw is that which is said. (12) Yliche-alike, the same.

was born.

Trewe of his word, benigne and honouràble;
Of his coràge as any centre, stable;

Yong, fresh, and strong; in armés desiroùs,
As any bacheler of all his hous.

A faire person he was, and fortunate,
And kept alway so well reàl' estat,

That ther n' as no wher swiche another man.
This noble king, this Tartre Cambuscàn,
Haddé two sones by Elfeta his wif,
Of which the eldest sone highte2 Algarsif,
That other was yclepéd Camballo.

that art,

A daughter had this worthy king also,
That yongest was, and highté Canace:
But for to tellen you all hire beautee,
It lith3 not in my tonge, ne in my conning;
I dare not undertake so high a thing:
Min English, eke, is unsufficient;
It musté ben a rethor1 excellent,
That coude his colours longing for
If he shuld hire descriven ony part:
I am not swiche; I mote7 speke as I can.
And so befell, that when this Cambuscàn
Hath twenty winter borne his diademe,
As he was wont fro yere to yere, I deme,
He let the feste of his nativitee,
Don crién, thurghout Sarra his citee,
The last Idus of March, after the yere.

Phebus the sonne ful jolif was and clere,

For he was nigh his exaltation
In Martés face, and in his mansion
In Aries, the colerike hote signe:

Ful lusty 10 was the wether, and benigne ;
For which the foules again" the sonné shene,
(What for the seson and the yonge grene),
Ful loudé songen hir affections; 12

Hem semed 13 han gatten hem protections

(1) Real-royal, from the Latin regalis. (2) Highte-was called. lieth. (4) Rethor-rhetorician, one highly skilled in composition. knew. (6) Longing for, &c.-Belonging to that art. (7) Mote-must. the feste, &c.-Ordered the feast of his nativity to be proclaimed. of March-the 15th day, by the Roman computation. inspiriting. (11) Again-against, in front of. (13) Hem semed, &c.-i. e. they seemed to have got, &c.

(3) Lith(5) Coude

(8) Let (9) Idus

(10) Lusty-vigorous, (12) Affections---gratitude.

Again the swerd' of winter kene and cold.
This Cambuscàn, of which I have you told,
In real vestiments, sit on his deis

With diademe, ful high in his paleìs;
And holt his feste so solempne and so riche,
That in this world ne was ther non it liche,
Of which if I shal tellen all the array,
Than wold it occupie a somers day;
And, eke, it nedeth not for to devise
At every cours the order of hir servìce :
I wol not tellen of hir strangé sewes,*
Ne of hir swannés, ne hir heronsewes.5
Eke, in that lond, as tellen knightés old,
Ther is som mete that is ful daintee hold,
That in this lond men recche of it ful smal:
Ther n' is no man that may reporten al.
I wol not tarien you, for it is prime,7
And for it is no fruit, but losse of time,
Unto my purpose I wol have recours.

And so befell, that after the thriddes cours,
While that this king sit thus in his noblèy,"
Herking his minstrallés hir thingés pley
Before him at his bord deliciously,
In at the hallé dore, al sodenly,

Ther came a knight upon a stede of bras,
And in his hond a brod 10 mirroùr of glas;
Upon his thombe he had of gold a ring;
And by his side a naked swerd hanging,
And up he rideth to the highé bord.
In all the halle ne was ther spoke a word,
For mervaille of this knight; him to behold
Ful besily they waiten, yong and old.

This strangé knight that come thus sodenly

Al arméd, save his hed, ful richély,
Salueth" king and quene, and lordés alle,
By order as they saten in the halle,

(1) Swerd sword. (2) Deis-dais, the elevated part of an ancient dining hall,

(3) Holt-held. (4) Hir (5) Heronseues-young herons. (7) It is prime, either means,

where the principal persons sat under a canopy. strange sewes-their strange or dainty dishes. (6) Recche of it, &c.-Reck, or care for it very little. it is now the first quarter of the day (or early in the morning), and therefore I must be quicker with my story; or it is used metaphorically for the season of action and business.

or, among his nobility.

(8) Thridde-third.

(10) Brod-broad.

(9) In his nobley-in his splendour,

(11) Salueth-saluteth.

With so high reverence and òbservance,
As wel in speche as in his contenance,
That Gawain' with his oldé curtesie,
Though he were come agen out of faerie,
Ne coude him not amenden with a word.
And, after this, beforn the highé bord,
He with a manly vois sayd his message,
After the forme used in his langage,
Withouten vice of sillable or of letter.
And for his talé shuldé seme the better,
Accordant to his wordés was his chere,3
As techeth art of speche hem that it lere:4
Al be it that I cannot soune his stile,
Ne cannot climben over so high a stile,5
Yet say I this, as to comùn entent,6
Thus much amounteth al that ever he ment,
If it so be7 that I have it in mind.

He sayd: "The King of Arabie and of Inde,
My liege Lord! on this solempné day,
Salueth you as he best can and


And sendeth you, in honour of your feste,
By me, that am al redy at your heste,
This stede of bras, that esily and wel
Can in the space of a day naturel,

(This is to sayn, in four and twenty houres),
Wher so you list, in drought or ellés shoures,

Beren your body into every place,

To which your herté willeth for to pace,9

Withouten wemme of you,10 thurgh foule or faire.
Or if you list to fleen as high in the aire
As doth an egle, whan him list 12 to sore,
This samé stede shal bere you evermore,

(1) Gawain-a nephew to King Arthur, and described as a model of knightly courtesy. (2) And for, &c.-And in order that his tale, &c. (3) Chereappearance, the expression of his countenance. (4) Lere-learn; hence the noun, lore. (5) Stile-the two words thus written above, and given as rhymes, are of different origin-the former is from the Latin stylus, the writing implement of the Romans; the latter from the Anglo-Saxon stigh-el, something raised. (6) Comun entent-the general meaning or scope. (7) If it so be, &c.-If at least I understand it well myself. (8) Heste-command. (9) Pace-pass,


(10) Withouten wemme of you-without spot or any injury to you. (11) Fleen-to fly. (12) Him list-this verb is generally used in old authors, as in the above examples, impersonally. It is the same as lest, used two lines below; its past tense was luste.

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