The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale

From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

CYT 720 With this Chanoun I dwelt have seven yeer,
CYT 721 And of his science am I never the neer.
CYT 722 Al that I hadde I have lost therby,
CYT 723 And, God woot, so hath many mo than I.
CYT 724 Ther I was wont to be right fressh and gay
CYT 725 Of clothyng and of oother good array,
CYT 726 Now may I were an hose upon myn heed;
CYT 727 And wher my colour was bothe fressh and reed,
CYT 728 Now is it wan and of a leden hewe —
CYT 729 Whoso it useth, soore shal he rewe! —
CYT 730 And of my swynk yet blered is myn ye.
CYT 731 Lo, which avantage is to multiplie!
CYT 732 That slidynge science hath me maad so bare
CYT 733 That I have no good, wher that evere I fare;
CYT 734 And yet I am endetted so therby
CYT 735 Of gold that I have borwed, trewely,
CYT 736 That whil I lyve I shal it quite nevere.
CYT 737 Lat every man be war by me for evere!
CYT 738 What maner man that casteth hym therto,
CYT 739 If he continue, I holde his thrift ydo.
CYT 740 For so helpe me God, therby shal he nat wynne,
CYT 741 But empte his purs and make his wittes thynne.
CYT 742 And whan he thurgh his madnesse and folye
CYT 743 Hath lost his owene good thurgh jupartye,
CYT 744 Thanne he exciteth oother folk therto,
CYT 745 To lesen hir good as he hymself hath do.
CYT 746 For unto shrewes joye it is and ese
CYT 747 To have hir felawes in peyne and disese.
CYT 748 Thus was I ones lerned of a clerk.
CYT 749 Of that no charge; I wol speke of oure werk.
CYT 750 Whan we been there as we shul exercise
CYT 751 Oure elvysshe craft, we semen wonder wise,
CYT 752 Oure termes been so clergial and so queynte.
CYT 753 I blowe the fir til that myn herte feynte.
CYT 754 What sholde I tellen ech proporcion
CYT 755 Of thynges whiche that we werche upon —
CYT 756 As on fyve or sixe ounces, may wel be,
CYT 757 Of silver, or som oother quantitee —
CYT 758 And bisye me to telle yow the names
CYT 759 Of orpyment, brent bones, iren squames,
CYT 760 That into poudre grounden been ful smal;
CYT 761 And in an erthen pot how put is al,
CYT 762 And salt yput in, and also papeer,
CYT 763 Biforn thise poudres that I speke of heer;
CYT 764 And wel ycovered with a lampe of glas;
CYT 765 And of muche oother thyng which that ther was;
CYT 766 And of the pot and glasses enlutyng
CYT 767 That of the eyr myghte passe out nothyng;
CYT 768 And of the esy fir, and smart also,
CYT 769 Which that was maad, and of the care and wo
CYT 770 That we hadde in oure matires sublymyng,
CYT 771 And in amalgamyng and calcenyng
CYT 772 Of quyksilver, yclept mercurie crude?
CYT 773 For alle oure sleightes we kan nat conclude.
CYT 774 Oure orpyment and sublymed mercurie,
CYT 775 Oure grounden litarge eek on the porfurie,
CYT 776 Of ech of thise of ounces a certeyn —
CYT 777 Noght helpeth us; oure labour is in veyn.
CYT 778 Ne eek oure spirites ascencioun,
CYT 779 Ne oure materes that lyen al fix adoun,
CYT 780 Mowe in oure werkyng no thyng us availle,
CYT 781 For lost is al oure labour and travaille;
CYT 782 And al the cost, a twenty devel waye,
CYT 783 Is lost also, which we upon it laye.
CYT 784 Ther is also ful many another thyng
CYT 785 That is unto oure craft apertenyng.
CYT 786 Though I by ordre hem nat reherce kan,
CYT 787 By cause that I am a lewed man,
CYT 788 Yet wol I telle hem as they come to mynde,
CYT 789 Thogh I ne kan nat sette hem in hir kynde:
CYT 790 As boole armonyak, verdegrees, boras,
CYT 791 And sondry vessels maad of erthe and glas,
CYT 792 Oure urynales and oure descensories,
CYT 793 Violes, crosletz, and sublymatories,
CYT 794 Cucurbites and alambikes eek,
CYT 795 And othere swiche, deere ynough a leek —
CYT 796 Nat nedeth it for to reherce hem alle —
CYT 797 Watres rubifiyng, and boles galle,
CYT 798 Arsenyk, sal armonyak, and brymstoon;
CYT 799 And herbes koude I telle eek many oon,
CYT 800 As egremoyne, valerian, and lunarie,
CYT 801 And othere swiche, if that me liste tarie;
CYT 802 Oure lampes brennyng bothe nyght and day,
CYT 803 To brynge aboute oure purpos, if we may;
CYT 804 Oure fourneys eek of calcinacioun,
CYT 805 And of watres albificacioun;
CYT 806 Unslekked lym, chalk, and gleyre of an ey,
CYT 807 Poudres diverse, asshes, donge, pisse, and cley,
CYT 808 Cered pokkets, sal peter, vitriole,
CYT 809 And diverse fires maad of wode and cole;
CYT 810 Sal tartre, alkaly, and sal preparat,
CYT 811 And combust materes and coagulat;
CYT 812 Cley maad with hors or mannes heer, and oille
CYT 813 Of tartre, alum glas, berme, wort, and argoille,
CYT 814 Resalgar, and oure materes enbibyng,
CYT 815 And eek of oure materes encorporyng,
CYT 816 And of oure silver citrinacioun,
CYT 817 Oure cementyng and fermentacioun,
CYT 818 Oure yngottes, testes, and many mo.
CYT 819 I wol yow telle, as was me taught also,
CYT 820 The foure spirites and the bodies sevene,
CYT 821 By ordre, as ofte I herde my lord hem nevene.
CYT 822 The firste spirit quyksilver called is,
CYT 823 The seconde orpyment, the thridde, ywis,
CYT 824 Sal armonyak, and the ferthe brymstoon.
CYT 825 The bodyes sevene eek, lo, hem heere anoon:
CYT 826 Sol gold is, and Luna silver we threpe,
CYT 827 Mars iren, Mercurie quyksilver we clepe,
CYT 828 Saturnus leed, and Juppiter is tyn,
CYT 829 And Venus coper, by my fader kyn!
CYT 830 This cursed craft whoso wole excercise,
CYT 831 He shal no good han that hym may suffise,
CYT 832 For al the good he spendeth theraboute
CYT 833 He lese shal; therof have I no doute.
CYT 834 Whoso that listeth outen his folie,
CYT 835 Lat hym come forth and lerne multiplie;
CYT 836 And every man that oght hath in his cofre,
CYT 837 Lat hym appiere and wexe a philosophre.
CYT 838 Ascaunce that craft is so light to leere?
CYT 839 Nay, nay, God woot, al be he monk or frere,
CYT 840 Preest or chanoun, or any oother wyght,
CYT 841 Though he sitte at his book bothe day and nyght
CYT 842 In lernyng of this elvysshe nyce loore,
CYT 843 Al is in veyn, and parde, muchel moore.
CYT 844 To lerne a lewed man this subtiltee —
CYT 845 Fy! Spek nat therof, for it wol nat bee.
CYT 846 And konne he letterure or konne he noon,
CYT 847 As in effect, he shal fynde it al oon.
CYT 848 For bothe two, by my savacioun,
CYT 849 Concluden in multiplicacioun
CYT 850 Ylike wel, whan they han al ydo;
CYT 851 This is to seyn, they faillen bothe two.
CYT 852 Yet forgat I to maken rehersaille
CYT 853 Of watres corosif, and of lymaille,
CYT 854 And of bodies mollificacioun,
CYT 855 And also of hire induracioun;
CYT 856 Oilles, ablucions, and metal fusible —
CYT 857 To tellen al wolde passen any bible
CYT 858 That owher is; wherfore, as for the beste,
CYT 859 Of alle thise names now wol I me reste,
CYT 860 For, as I trowe, I have yow toold ynowe
CYT 861 To reyse a feend, al looke he never so rowe.
CYT 862 A! Nay! Lat be; the philosophres stoon,
CYT 863 Elixer clept, we sechen faste echoon;
CYT 864 For hadde we hym, thanne were we siker ynow.
CYT 865 But unto God of hevene I make avow,
CYT 866 For al oure craft, whan we han al ydo,
CYT 867 And al oure sleighte, he wol nat come us to.
CYT 868 He hath ymaad us spenden muchel good,
CYT 869 For sorwe of which almoost we wexen wood,
CYT 870 But that good hope crepeth in oure herte,
CYT 871 Supposynge evere, though we sore smerte,
CYT 872 To be releeved by hym afterward.
CYT 873 Swich supposyng and hope is sharp and hard;
CYT 874 I warne yow wel, it is to seken evere.
CYT 875 That futur temps hath maad men to dissevere,
CYT 876 In trust therof, from al that evere they hadde.
CYT 877 Yet of that art they kan nat wexen sadde,
CYT 878 For unto hem it is a bitter sweete —
CYT 879 So semeth it — for nadde they but a sheete
CYT 880 Which that they myghte wrappe hem inne a-nyght,
CYT 881 And a brat to walken inne by daylyght,
CYT 882 They wolde hem selle and spenden on this craft.
CYT 883 They kan nat stynte til no thyng be laft.
CYT 884 And everemoore, where that evere they goon,
CYT 885 Men may hem knowe by smel of brymstoon.
CYT 886 For al the world they stynken as a goot;
CYT 887 Hir savour is so rammyssh and so hoot
CYT 888 That though a man from hem a mile be,
CYT 889 The savour wole infecte hym, trusteth me.
CYT 890 Lo, thus by smellyng and threedbare array,
CYT 891 If that men liste, this folk they knowe may.
CYT 892 And if a man wole aske hem pryvely
CYT 893 Why they been clothed so unthriftily,
CYT 894 They right anon wol rownen in his ere,
CYT 895 And seyn that if that they espied were,
CYT 896 Men wolde hem slee by cause of hir science.
CYT 897 Lo, thus this folk bitrayen innocence!
CYT 898 Passe over this; I go my tale unto.
CYT 899 Er that the pot be on the fir ydo,
CYT 900 Of metals with a certeyn quantitee,
CYT 901 My lord hem tempreth, and no man but he —
CYT 902 Now he is goon, I dar seyn boldely —
CYT 903 For, as men seyn, he kan doon craftily.
CYT 904 Algate I woot wel he hath swich a name;
CYT 905 And yet ful ofte he renneth in a blame.
CYT 906 And wite ye how? Ful ofte it happeth so
CYT 907 The pot tobreketh, and farewel, al is go!
CYT 908 Thise metals been of so greet violence
CYT 909 Oure walles mowe nat make hem resistence,
CYT 910 But if they weren wroght of lym and stoon;
CYT 911 They percen so, and thurgh the wal they goon.
CYT 912 And somme of hem synken into the ground —
CYT 913 Thus han we lost by tymes many a pound —
CYT 914 And somme are scatered al the floor aboute;
CYT 915 Somme lepe into the roof. Withouten doute,
CYT 916 Though that the feend noght in oure sighte hym shewe,
CYT 917 I trowe he with us be, that ilke shrewe!
CYT 918 In helle, where that he is lord and sire,
CYT 919 Nis ther moore wo, ne moore rancour ne ire.
CYT 920 Whan that oure pot is broke, as I have sayd,
CYT 921 Every man chit and halt hym yvele apayd.
CYT 922 Somme seyde it was long on the fir makyng;
CYT 923 Somme seyde nay, it was on the blowyng —
CYT 924 Thanne was I fered, for that was myn office.
CYT 925 “Straw!” quod the thridde, “ye been lewed and nyce.
CYT 926 It was nat tempred as it oghte be.”
CYT 927 “Nay,” quod the fourthe, “stynt and herkne me.
CYT 928 By cause oure fir ne was nat maad of beech,
CYT 929 That is the cause and oother noon, so thee ‘ch!”
CYT 930 I kan nat telle wheron it was long,
CYT 931 But wel I woot greet strif is us among.
CYT 932 “What,” quod my lord, “ther is namoore to doone;
CYT 933 Of thise perils I wol be war eftsoone.
CYT 934 I am right siker that the pot was crased.
CYT 935 Be as be may, be ye no thyng amased;
CYT 936 As usage is, lat swepe the floor as swithe,
CYT 937 Plukke up youre hertes and beeth glad and blithe.”
CYT 938 The mullok on an heep ysweped was,
CYT 939 And on the floor ycast a canevas,
CYT 940 And al this mullok in a syve ythrowe,
CYT 941 And sifted, and ypiked many a throwe.
CYT 942 “Pardee,” quod oon, “somwhat of oure metal
CYT 943 Yet is ther heere, though that we han nat al.
CYT 944 And though this thyng myshapped have as now,
CYT 945 Another tyme it may be well ynow.
CYT 946 Us moste putte oure good in aventure.
CYT 947 A marchant, pardee, may nat ay endure,
CYT 948 Trusteth me wel, in his prosperitee.
CYT 949 Somtyme his good is drowned in the see,
CYT 950 And somtyme comth it sauf unto the londe.”
CYT 951 “Pees!” quod my lord, “the nexte tyme I wol fonde
CYT 952 To bryngen oure craft al in another plite,
CYT 953 And but I do, sires, lat me han the wite.
CYT 954 Ther was defaute in somwhat, wel I woot.”
CYT 955 Another seyde the fir was over-hoot —
CYT 956 But, be it hoot or coold, I dar seye this,
CYT 957 That we concluden everemoore amys.
CYT 958 We faille of that which that we wolden have,
CYT 959 And in oure madnesse everemoore we rave.
CYT 960 And whan we been togidres everichoon,
CYT 961 Every man semeth a Salomon.
CYT 962 But al thyng which that shineth as the gold
CYT 963 Nis nat gold, as that I have herd told;
CYT 964 Ne every appul that is fair at eye
CYT 965 Ne is nat good, what so men clappe or crye.
CYT 966 Right so, lo, fareth it amonges us:
CYT 967 He that semeth the wiseste, by Jhesus,
CYT 968 Is moost fool, whan it cometh to the preef;
CYT 969 And he that semeth trewest is a theef.
CYT 970 That shul ye knowe, er that I fro yow wende,
CYT 971 By that I of my tale have maad an ende.
CYT 972 Ther is a chanoun of religioun
CYT 973 Amonges us, wolde infecte al a toun,
CYT 974 Thogh it as greet were as was Nynyvee,
CYT 975 Rome, Alisaundre, Troye, and othere three.
CYT 976 His sleightes and his infinite falsnesse
CYT 977 Ther koude no man writen, as I gesse,
CYT 978 Though that he myghte lyve a thousand yeer.
CYT 979 In al this world of falshede nis his peer,
CYT 980 For in his termes he wol hym so wynde,
CYT 981 And speke his wordes in so sly a kynde,
CYT 982 Whanne he commune shal with any wight,
CYT 983 That he wol make hym doten anonright,
CYT 984 But it a feend be, as hymselven is.
CYT 985 Ful many a man hath he bigiled er this,
CYT 986 And wole, if that he lyve may a while;
CYT 987 And yet men ride and goon ful many a mile
CYT 988 Hym for to seke and have his aqueyntaunce,
CYT 989 Noght knowynge of his false governaunce.
CYT 990 And if yow list to yeve me audience,
CYT 991 I wol it tellen heere in youre presence.
CYT 992 But worshipful chanons religious,
CYT 993 Ne demeth nat that I sclaundre youre hous,
CYT 994 Although that my tale of a chanoun bee.
CYT 995 Of every ordre som shrewe is, pardee,
CYT 996 And God forbede that al a compaignye
CYT 997 Sholde rewe o singuleer mannes folye.
CYT 998 To sclaundre yow is no thyng myn entente,
CYT 999 But to correcten that is mys I mente.
CYT 1000 This tale was nat oonly toold for yow,
CYT 1001 But eek for othere mo; ye woot wel how
CYT 1002 That among Cristes apostelles twelve
CYT 1003 Ther nas no traytour but Judas hymselve.
CYT 1004 Thanne why sholde al the remenant have a blame
CYT 1005 That giltlees were? By yow I seye the same,
CYT 1006 Save oonly this, if ye wol herkne me:
CYT 1007 If any Judas in youre covent be,
CYT 1008 Remoeveth hym bitymes, I yow rede,
CYT 1009 If shame or los may causen any drede.
CYT 1010 And beeth no thyng displesed, I yow preye,
CYT 1011 But in this cas herkneth what I shal seye.
CYT 1012 In Londoun was a preest, an annueleer,
CYT 1013 That therinne dwelled hadde many a yeer,
CYT 1014 Which was so plesaunt and so servysable
CYT 1015 Unto the wyf, where as he was at table,
CYT 1016 That she wolde suffre hym no thyng for to paye
CYT 1017 For bord ne clothyng, wente he never so gaye,
CYT 1018 And spendyng silver hadde he right ynow.
CYT 1019 Therof no fors; I wol procede as now,
CYT 1020 And telle forth my tale of the chanoun
CYT 1021 That broghte this preest to confusioun.
CYT 1022 This false chanon cam upon a day
CYT 1023 Unto this preestes chambre, wher he lay,
CYT 1024 Bisechynge hym to lene hym a certeyn
CYT 1025 Of gold, and he wolde quite it hym ageyn.
CYT 1026 “Leene me a marc,” quod he, “but dayes three,
CYT 1027 And at my day I wol it quiten thee.
CYT 1028 And if so be that thow me fynde fals,
CYT 1029 Another day do hange me by the hals!”
CYT 1030 This preest hym took a marc, and that as swithe,
CYT 1031 And this chanoun hym thanked ofte sithe,
CYT 1032 And took his leve, and wente forth his weye,
CYT 1033 And at the thridde day broghte his moneye,
CYT 1034 And to the preest he took his gold agayn,
CYT 1035 Wherof this preest was wonder glad and fayn.
CYT 1036 “Certes,” quod he, “no thyng anoyeth me
CYT 1037 To lene a man a noble, or two, or thre,
CYT 1038 Or what thyng were in my possessioun,
CYT 1039 Whan he so trewe is of condicioun
CYT 1040 That in no wise he breke wole his day;
CYT 1041 To swich a man I kan never seye nay.”
CYT 1042 “What!” quod this chanoun, “sholde I be untrewe?
CYT 1043 Nay, that were thyng yfallen al of newe.
CYT 1044 Trouthe is a thyng that I wol evere kepe
CYT 1045 Unto that day in which that I shal crepe
CYT 1046 Into my grave, and ellis God forbede.
CYT 1047 Bileveth this as siker as your Crede.
CYT 1048 God thanke I, and in good tyme be it sayd,
CYT 1049 That ther was nevere man yet yvele apayd
CYT 1050 For gold ne silver that he to me lente,
CYT 1051 Ne nevere falshede in myn herte I mente.
CYT 1052 And sire,” quod he, “now of my pryvetee,
CYT 1053 Syn ye so goodlich han been unto me,
CYT 1054 And kithed to me so greet gentillesse,
CYT 1055 Somwhat to quyte with youre kyndenesse
CYT 1056 I wol yow shewe, and if yow list to leere,
CYT 1057 I wol yow teche pleynly the manere
CYT 1058 How I kan werken in philosophie.
CYT 1059 Taketh good heede; ye shul wel seen at ye
CYT 1060 That I wol doon a maistrie er I go.”
CYT 1061 “Ye,” quod the preest, “ye, sire, and wol ye so?
CYT 1062 Marie, therof I pray yow hertely.”
CYT 1063 “At youre comandement, sire, trewely,”
CYT 1064 Quod the chanoun, “and ellis God forbeede!”
CYT 1065 Loo, how this theef koude his service beede!
CYT 1066 Ful sooth it is that swich profred servyse
CYT 1067 Stynketh, as witnessen thise olde wyse,
CYT 1068 And that ful soone I wol it verifie
CYT 1069 In this chanoun, roote of al trecherie,
CYT 1070 That everemoore delit hath and gladnesse —
CYT 1071 Swiche feendly thoghtes in his herte impresse —
CYT 1072 How Cristes peple he may to meschief brynge.
CYT 1073 God kepe us from his false dissymulynge!
CYT 1074 Noght wiste this preest with whom that he delte,
CYT 1075 Ne of his harm comynge he no thyng felte.
CYT 1076 O sely preest! O sely innocent!
CYT 1077 With coveitise anon thou shalt be blent!
CYT 1078 O gracelees, ful blynd is thy conceite,
CYT 1079 No thyng ne artow war of the deceite
CYT 1080 Which that this fox yshapen hath to thee!
CYT 1081 His wily wrenches thou ne mayst nat flee.
CYT 1082 Wherfore, to go to the conclusion,
CYT 1083 That refereth to thy confusion,
CYT 1084 Unhappy man, anon I wol me hye
CYT 1085 To tellen thyn unwit and thy folye,
CYT 1086 And eek the falsnesse of that oother wrecche,
CYT 1087 As ferforth as that my konnyng wol strecche.
CYT 1088 This chanon was my lord, ye wolden weene?
CYT 1089 Sire hoost, in feith, and by the hevenes queene,
CYT 1090 It was another chanoun, and nat hee,
CYT 1091 That kan an hundred foold moore subtiltee.
CYT 1092 He hath bitrayed folkes many tyme;
CYT 1093 Of his falsnesse it dulleth me to ryme.
CYT 1094 Evere whan that I speke of his falshede,
CYT 1095 For shame of hym my chekes wexen rede.
CYT 1096 Algates they bigynnen for to glowe,
CYT 1097 For reednesse have I noon, right wel I knowe,
CYT 1098 In my visage; for fumes diverse
CYT 1099 Of metals, whiche ye han herd me reherce,
CYT 1100 Consumed and wasted han my reednesse.
CYT 1101 Now taak heede of this chanons cursednesse!
CYT 1102 “Sire,” quod he to the preest, “lat youre man gon
CYT 1103 For quyksilver, that we it hadde anon;
CYT 1104 And lat hym bryngen ounces two or three;
CYT 1105 And whan he comth, as faste shal ye see
CYT 1106 A wonder thyng, which ye saugh nevere er this.”
CYT 1107 “Sire,” quod the preest, “it shal be doon, ywis.”
CYT 1108 He bad his servant fecchen hym this thyng,
CYT 1109 And he al redy was at his biddyng,
CYT 1110 And wente hym forth, and cam anon agayn
CYT 1111 With this quyksilver, shortly for to sayn,
CYT 1112 And took thise ounces thre to the chanoun;
CYT 1113 And he hem leyde faire and wel adoun,
CYT 1114 And bad the servant coles for to brynge,
CYT 1115 That he anon myghte go to his werkynge.
CYT 1116 The coles right anon weren yfet,
CYT 1117 And this chanoun took out a crosselet
CYT 1118 Of his bosom, and shewed it to the preest.
CYT 1119 “This instrument,” quod he, “which that thou seest,
CYT 1120 Taak in thyn hand, and put thyself therinne
CYT 1121 Of this quyksilver an ounce, and heer bigynne,
CYT 1122 In name of Crist, to wexe a philosofre.
CYT 1123 Ther been ful fewe to whiche I wolde profre
CYT 1124 To shewen hem thus muche of my science.
CYT 1125 For ye shul seen heer, by experience,
CYT 1126 That this quyksilver I wol mortifye
CYT 1127 Right in youre sighte anon, withouten lye,
CYT 1128 And make it as good silver and as fyn
CYT 1129 As ther is any in youre purs or myn,
CYT 1130 Or elleswhere, and make it malliable;
CYT 1131 And elles holdeth me fals and unable
CYT 1132 Amonges folk for evere to appeere.
CYT 1133 I have a poudre heer, that coste me deere,
CYT 1134 Shal make al good, for it is cause of al
CYT 1135 My konnyng, which that I yow shewen shal.
CYT 1136 Voyde youre man, and lat hym be theroute,
CYT 1137 And shette the dore, whils we been aboute
CYT 1138 Oure pryvetee, that no man us espie,
CYT 1139 Whils that we werke in this philosophie.”
CYT 1140 Al as he bad fulfilled was in dede.
CYT 1141 This ilke servant anonright out yede,
CYT 1142 And his maister shette the dore anon,
CYT 1143 And to hire labour spedily they gon.
CYT 1144 This preest, at this cursed chanons biddyng,
CYT 1145 Upon the fir anon sette this thyng,
CYT 1146 And blew the fir, and bisyed hym ful faste.
CYT 1147 And this chanoun into the crosselet caste
CYT 1148 A poudre, noot I wherof that it was
CYT 1149 Ymaad, outher of chalk, outher of glas,
CYT 1150 Or somwhat elles, was nat worth a flye,
CYT 1151 To blynde with this preest; and bad hym hye
CYT 1152 The coles for to couchen al above
CYT 1153 The crosselet. “For in tokenyng I thee love,”
CYT 1154 Quod this chanoun, “thyne owene handes two
CYT 1155 Shul werche al thyng which that shal heer be do.”
CYT 1156 “Graunt mercy,” quod the preest, and was ful glad,
CYT 1157 And couched coles as the chanoun bad.
CYT 1158 And while he bisy was, this feendly wrecche,
CYT 1159 This false chanoun — the foule feend hym fecche! —
CYT 1160 Out of his bosom took a bechen cole,
CYT 1161 In which ful subtilly was maad an hole,
CYT 1162 And therinne put was of silver lemaille
CYT 1163 An ounce, and stopped was, withouten faille,
CYT 1164 This hole with wex, to kepe the lemaille in.
CYT 1165 And understondeth that this false gyn
CYT 1166 Was nat maad ther, but it was maad bifore;
CYT 1167 And othere thynges I shal tellen moore
CYT 1168 Herafterward, whiche that he with hym broghte.
CYT 1169 Er he cam there, hym to bigile he thoghte,
CYT 1170 And so he dide, er that they wente atwynne;
CYT 1171 Til he had terved hym, koude he nat blynne.
CYT 1172 It dulleth me whan that I of hym speke.
CYT 1173 On his falshede fayn wolde I me wreke,
CYT 1174 If I wiste how, but he is heere and there;
CYT 1175 He is so variaunt, he abit nowhere.
CYT 1176 But taketh heede now, sires, for Goddes love!
CYT 1177 He took his cole of which I spak above,
CYT 1178 And in his hand he baar it pryvely.
CYT 1179 And whiles the preest couched bisily
CYT 1180 The coles, as I tolde yow er this,
CYT 1181 This chanoun seyde, “Freend, ye doon amys.
CYT 1182 This is nat couched as it oghte be;
CYT 1183 But soone I shal amenden it,” quod he.
CYT 1184 “Now lat me medle therwith but a while,
CYT 1185 For of yow have I pitee, by Seint Gile!
CYT 1186 Ye been right hoot; I se wel how ye swete.
CYT 1187 Have heere a clooth, and wipe awey the wete.”
CYT 1188 And whiles that the preest wiped his face,
CYT 1189 This chanoun took his cole — with sory grace! —
CYT 1190 And leyde it above upon the myddeward
CYT 1191 Of the crosselet, and blew wel afterward
CYT 1192 Til that the coles gonne faste brenne.
CYT 1193 “Now yeve us drynke,” quod the chanoun thenne;
CYT 1194 “As swithe al shal be wel, I undertake.
CYT 1195 Sitte we doun, and lat us myrie make.”
CYT 1196 And whan that this chanounes bechen cole
CYT 1197 Was brent, al the lemaille out of the hole
CYT 1198 Into the crosselet fil anon adoun;
CYT 1199 And so it moste nedes, by resoun,
CYT 1200 Syn it so evene above couched was.
CYT 1201 But therof wiste the preest nothyng, alas!
CYT 1202 He demed alle the coles yliche good,
CYT 1203 For of that sleighte he nothyng understood.
CYT 1204 And whan this alkamystre saugh his tyme,
CYT 1205 “Ris up,” quod he, “sire preest, and stondeth by me;
CYT 1206 And for I woot wel ingot have ye noon,
CYT 1207 Gooth, walketh forth, and bryngeth a chalk stoon;
CYT 1208 For I wol make it of the same shap
CYT 1209 That is an ingot, if I may han hap.
CYT 1210 And bryngeth eek with yow a bolle or a panne
CYT 1211 Ful of water, and ye shul se wel thanne
CYT 1212 How that oure bisynesse shal thryve and preeve.
CYT 1213 And yet, for ye shul han no mysbileeve
CYT 1214 Ne wrong conceite of me in youre absence,
CYT 1215 I ne wol nat been out of youre presence,
CYT 1216 But go with yow and come with yow ageyn.”
CYT 1217 The chambre dore, shortly for to seyn,
CYT 1218 They opened and shette, and wente hir weye.
CYT 1219 And forth with hem they carieden the keye,
CYT 1220 And coome agayn withouten any delay.
CYT 1221 What sholde I tarien al the longe day?
CYT 1222 He took the chalk and shoop it in the wise
CYT 1223 Of an ingot, as I shal yow devyse.
CYT 1224 I seye, he took out of his owene sleeve
CYT 1225 A teyne of silver — yvele moot he cheeve! —
CYT 1226 Which that ne was nat but an ounce of weighte.
CYT 1227 And taaketh heede now of his cursed sleighte!
CYT 1228 He shoop his ingot in lengthe and in breede
CYT 1229 Of this teyne, withouten any drede,
CYT 1230 So slyly that the preest it nat espide,
CYT 1231 And in his sleve agayn he gan it hide,
CYT 1232 And fro the fir he took up his mateere,
CYT 1233 And in th’ yngot putte it with myrie cheere,
CYT 1234 And in the water-vessel he it caste,
CYT 1235 Whan that hym luste, and bad the preest as faste,
CYT 1236 “Loke what ther is; put in thyn hand and grope.
CYT 1237 Thow fynde shalt ther silver, as I hope.”
CYT 1238 What, devel of helle, sholde it elles be?
CYT 1239 Shaving of silver silver is, pardee!
CYT 1240 He putte his hand in and took up a teyne
CYT 1241 Of silver fyn, and glad in every veyne
CYT 1242 Was this preest, whan he saugh it was so.
CYT 1243 “Goddes blessyng, and his moodres also,
CYT 1244 And alle halwes, have ye, sire chanoun,”
CYT 1245 Seyde the preest, “and I hir malisoun,
CYT 1246 But, and ye vouche-sauf to techen me
CYT 1247 This noble craft and this subtilitee,
CYT 1248 I wol be youre in al that evere I may.”
CYT 1249 Quod the chanoun, “Yet wol I make assay
CYT 1250 The seconde tyme, that ye may taken heede
CYT 1251 And been expert of this, and in youre neede
CYT 1252 Another day assaye in myn absence
CYT 1253 This disciplyne and this crafty science.
CYT 1254 Lat take another ounce,” quod he tho,
CYT 1255 “Of quyksilver, withouten wordes mo,
CYT 1256 And do therwith as ye han doon er this
CYT 1257 With that oother, which that now silver is.”
CYT 1258 This preest hym bisieth in al that he kan
CYT 1259 To doon as this chanoun, this cursed man,
CYT 1260 Comanded hym, and faste blew the fir,
CYT 1261 For to come to th’ effect of his desir.
CYT 1262 And this chanon, right in the meene while,
CYT 1263 Al redy was this preest eft to bigile,
CYT 1264 And for a contenaunce in his hand he bar
CYT 1265 An holwe stikke — taak kep and be war! —
CYT 1266 In the ende of which an ounce, and namoore,
CYT 1267 Of silver lemaille put was, as bifore
CYT 1268 Was in his cole, and stopped with wex weel
CYT 1269 For to kepe in his lemaille every deel.
CYT 1270 And whil this preest was in his bisynesse,
CYT 1271 This chanoun with his stikke gan hym dresse
CYT 1272 To hym anon, and his poudre caste in
CYT 1273 As he dide er — the devel out of his skyn
CYT 1274 Hym terve, I pray to God, for his falshede!
CYT 1275 For he was evere fals in thoght and dede —
CYT 1276 And with this stikke, above the crosselet,
CYT 1277 That was ordeyned with that false jet,
CYT 1278 He stired the coles til relente gan
CYT 1279 The wex agayn the fir, as every man,
CYT 1280 But it a fool be, woot wel it moot nede,
CYT 1281 And al that in the stikke was out yede,
CYT 1282 And in the crosselet hastily it fel.
CYT 1283 Now, good sires, what wol ye bet than wel?
CYT 1284 Whan that this preest thus was bigiled ageyn,
CYT 1285 Supposynge noght but treuthe, sooth to seyn,
CYT 1286 He was so glad that I kan nat expresse
CYT 1287 In no manere his myrthe and his gladnesse;
CYT 1288 And to the chanoun he profred eftsoone
CYT 1289 Body and good. “Ye,” quod the chanoun soone,
CYT 1290 “Though poure I be, crafty thou shalt me fynde.
CYT 1291 I warne thee, yet is ther moore bihynde.
CYT 1292 Is ther any coper herinne?” seyde he.
CYT 1293 “Ye,” quod the preest, “sire, I trowe wel ther be.”
CYT 1294 “Elles go bye us som, and that as swithe;
CYT 1295 Now, goode sire, go forth thy wey and hy the.”
CYT 1296 He wente his wey, and with the coper cam,
CYT 1297 And this chanon it in his handes nam,
CYT 1298 And of that coper weyed out but an ounce.
CYT 1299 Al to symple is my tonge to pronounce,
CYT 1300 As ministre of my wit, the doublenesse
CYT 1301 Of this chanoun, roote of alle cursednesse!
CYT 1302 He semed freendly to hem that knewe hym noght,
CYT 1303 But he was feendly bothe in werk and thoght.
CYT 1304 It weerieth me to telle of his falsnesse,
CYT 1305 And nathelees yet wol I it expresse,
CYT 1306 To th’ entente that men may be war therby,
CYT 1307 And for noon oother cause, trewely.
CYT 1308 He putte this ounce of coper in the crosselet,
CYT 1309 And on the fir as swithe he hath it set,
CYT 1310 And caste in poudre, and made the preest to blowe,
CYT 1311 And in his werkyng for to stoupe lowe,
CYT 1312 As he dide er — and al nas but a jape;
CYT 1313 Right as hym liste, the preest he made his ape!
CYT 1314 And afterward in the ingot he it caste,
CYT 1315 And in the panne putte it at the laste
CYT 1316 Of water, and in he putte his owene hand,
CYT 1317 And in his sleve (as ye biforen-hand
CYT 1318 Herde me telle) he hadde a silver teyne.
CYT 1319 He slyly took it out, this cursed heyne,
CYT 1320 Unwityng this preest of his false craft,
CYT 1321 And in the pannes botme he hath it laft;
CYT 1322 And in the water rombled to and fro,
CYT 1323 And wonder pryvely took up also
CYT 1324 The coper teyne, noght knowynge this preest,
CYT 1325 And hidde it, and hym hente by the breest,
CYT 1326 And to hym spak, and thus seyde in his game:
CYT 1327 “Stoupeth adoun. By God, ye be to blame!
CYT 1328 Helpeth me now, as I dide yow whileer;
CYT 1329 Putte in youre hand, and looketh what is theer.”
CYT 1330 This preest took up this silver teyne anon,
CYT 1331 And thanne seyde the chanoun, “Lat us gon
CYT 1332 With thise thre teynes, whiche that we han wroght,
CYT 1333 To som goldsmyth and wite if they been oght,
CYT 1334 For, by my feith, I nolde, for myn hood,
CYT 1335 But if that they were silver fyn and good,
CYT 1336 And that as swithe preeved it shal bee.”
CYT 1337 Unto the goldsmyth with thise teynes three
CYT 1338 They wente and putte thise teynes in assay
CYT 1339 To fir and hamer; myghte no man seye nay,
CYT 1340 But that they weren as hem oghte be.
CYT 1341 This sotted preest, who was gladder than he?
CYT 1342 Was nevere brid gladder agayn the day,
CYT 1343 Ne nyghtyngale, in the sesoun of May,
CYT 1344 Was nevere noon that luste bet to synge;
CYT 1345 Ne lady lustier in carolynge,
CYT 1346 Or for to speke of love and wommanhede,
CYT 1347 Ne knyght in armes to doon an hardy dede,
CYT 1348 To stonden in grace of his lady deere,
CYT 1349 Than hadde this preest this soory craft to leere.
CYT 1350 And to the chanoun thus he spak and seyde:
CYT 1351 “For love of God, that for us alle deyde,
CYT 1352 And as I may deserve it unto yow,
CYT 1353 What shal this receite coste? Telleth now!”
CYT 1354 “By oure Lady,” quod this chanon, “it is deere,
CYT 1355 I warne yow wel; for save I and a frere,
CYT 1356 In Engelond ther kan no man it make.”
CYT 1357 “No fors,” quod he, “now, sire, for Goddes sake,
CYT 1358 What shal I paye? Telleth me, I preye.”
CYT 1359 “Ywis,” quod he, “it is ful deere, I seye.
CYT 1360 Sire, at o word, if that thee list it have,
CYT 1361 Ye shul paye fourty pound, so God me save!
CYT 1362 And nere the freendshipe that ye dide er this
CYT 1363 To me, ye sholde paye moore, ywis.”
CYT 1364 This preest the somme of fourty pound anon
CYT 1365 Of nobles fette, and took hem everichon
CYT 1366 To this chanoun for this ilke receite.
CYT 1367 Al his werkyng nas but fraude and deceite.
CYT 1368 “Sire preest,” he seyde, “I kepe han no loos
CYT 1369 Of my craft, for I wolde it kept were cloos;
CYT 1370 And, as ye love me, kepeth it secree.
CYT 1371 For, and men knewen al my soutiltee,
CYT 1372 By God, they wolden han so greet envye
CYT 1373 To me by cause of my philosophye
CYT 1374 I sholde be deed; ther were noon oother weye.”
CYT 1375 “God it forbeede,” quod the preest, “what sey ye?
CYT 1376 Yet hadde I levere spenden al the good
CYT 1377 Which that I have, and elles wexe I wood,
CYT 1378 Than that ye sholden falle in swich mescheef.”
CYT 1379 “For youre good wyl, sire, have ye right good preef,”
CYT 1380 Quod the chanoun, “and farwel, grant mercy!”
CYT 1381 He wente his wey, and never the preest hym sy
CYT 1382 After that day; and whan that this preest shoolde
CYT 1383 Maken assay, at swich tyme as he wolde,
CYT 1384 Of this receit, farwel! It wolde nat be.
CYT 1385 Lo, thus byjaped and bigiled was he!
CYT 1386 Thus maketh he his introduccioun,
CYT 1387 To brynge folk to hir destruccioun.
CYT 1388 Considereth, sires, how that, in ech estaat,
CYT 1389 Bitwixe men and gold ther is debaat
CYT 1390 So ferforth that unnethes is ther noon.
CYT 1391 This multiplying blent so many oon
CYT 1392 That in good feith I trowe that it bee
CYT 1393 The cause grettest of swich scarsetee.
CYT 1394 Philosophres speken so mystily
CYT 1395 In this craft that men kan nat come therby,
CYT 1396 For any wit that men han now-a-dayes.
CYT 1397 They mowe wel chiteren as doon jayes,
CYT 1398 And in hir termes sette hir lust and peyne,
CYT 1399 But to hir purpos shul they nevere atteyne.
CYT 1400 A man may lightly lerne, if he have aught,
CYT 1401 To multiplie, and brynge his good to naught!
CYT 1402 Lo! swich a lucre is in this lusty game,
CYT 1403 A mannes myrthe it wol turne unto grame,
CYT 1404 And empten also grete and hevye purses,
CYT 1405 And maken folk for to purchacen curses
CYT 1406 Of hem that han hir good therto ylent.
CYT 1407 O, fy, for shame! They that han been brent,
CYT 1408 Allas, kan they nat flee the fires heete?
CYT 1409 Ye that it use, I rede ye it leete,
CYT 1410 Lest ye lese al; for bet than nevere is late.
CYT 1411 Nevere to thryve were to long a date.
CYT 1412 Though ye prolle ay, ye shul it nevere fynde.
CYT 1413 Ye been as boold as is Bayard the blynde,
CYT 1414 That blondreth forth and peril casteth noon.
CYT 1415 He is as boold to renne agayn a stoon
CYT 1416 As for to goon bisides in the weye.
CYT 1417 So faren ye that multiplie, I seye.
CYT 1418 If that youre eyen kan nat seen aright,
CYT 1419 Looke that youre mynde lakke noght his sight.
CYT 1420 For though ye looken never so brode and stare,
CYT 1421 Ye shul nothyng wynne on that chaffare,
CYT 1422 But wasten al that ye may rape and renne.
CYT 1423 Withdraweth the fir, lest it to faste brenne;
CYT 1424 Medleth namoore with that art, I mene,
CYT 1425 For if ye doon, youre thrift is goon ful clene.
CYT 1426 And right as swithe I wol yow tellen heere
CYT 1427 What philosophres seyn in this mateere.
CYT 1428 Lo, thus seith Arnold of the Newe Toun,
CYT 1429 As his Rosarie maketh mencioun;
CYT 1430 He seith right thus, withouten any lye:
CYT 1431 “Ther may no man mercurie mortifie
CYT 1432 But it be with his brother knowlechyng”;
CYT 1433 How [be] that he which that first seyde this thyng
CYT 1434 Of philosophres fader was, Hermes;
CYT 1435 He seith how that the dragon, doutelees,
CYT 1436 Ne dyeth nat but if that he be slayn
CYT 1437 With his brother; and that is for to sayn,
CYT 1438 By the dragon, Mercurie, and noon oother
CYT 1439 He understood, and brymstoon by his brother,
CYT 1440 That out of Sol and Luna were ydrawe.
CYT 1441 “And therfore,” seyde he — taak heede to my sawe —
CYT 1442 “Lat no man bisye hym this art for to seche,
CYT 1443 But if that he th’ entencioun and speche
CYT 1444 Of philosophres understonde kan;
CYT 1445 And if he do, he is a lewed man.
CYT 1446 For this science and this konnyng,” quod he,
CYT 1447 “Is of the secree of the secretes, pardee.”
CYT 1448 Also ther was a disciple of Plato,
CYT 1449 That on a tyme seyde his maister to,
CYT 1450 As his book Senior wol bere witnesse,
CYT 1451 And this was his demande in soothfastnesse:
CYT 1452 “Telle me the name of the privee stoon.”
CYT 1453 And Plato answerde unto hym anoon,
CYT 1454 “Take the stoon that Titanos men name.”
CYT 1455 “Which is that?” quod he. “Magnasia is the same,”
CYT 1456 Seyde Plato. “Ye, sire, and is it thus?
CYT 1457 This is ignotum per ignocius.
CYT 1458 What is Magnasia, good sire, I yow preye?”
CYT 1459 “It is a water that is maad, I seye,
CYT 1460 Of elementes foure,” quod Plato.
CYT 1461 “Telle me the roote, good sire,” quod he tho,
CYT 1462 “Of that water, if it be youre wil.”
CYT 1463 “Nay, nay,” quod Plato, “certein, that I nyl.
CYT 1464 The philosophres sworn were everychoon
CYT 1465 That they sholden discovere it unto noon,
CYT 1466 Ne in no book it write in no manere.
CYT 1467 For unto Crist it is so lief and deere
CYT 1468 That he wol nat that it discovered bee,
CYT 1469 But where it liketh to his deitee
CYT 1470 Men for t’ enspire, and eek for to deffende
CYT 1471 Whom that hym liketh; lo, this is the ende.”
CYT 1472 Thanne conclude I thus, sith that God of hevene
CYT 1473 Ne wil nat that the philosophres nevene
CYT 1474 How that a man shal come unto this stoon,
CYT 1475 I rede, as for the beste, lete it goon.
CYT 1476 For whoso maketh God his adversarie,
CYT 1477 As for to werken any thyng in contrarie
CYT 1478 Of his wil, certes, never shal he thryve,
CYT 1479 Thogh that he multiplie terme of his lyve.
CYT 1480 And there a poynt, for ended is my tale.
CYT 1481 God sende every trewe man boote of his bale!