John Heywood - A DIALOGUE
containing the number of the effectual
PROVERBS IN THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Internetbewerking: M.H.H. Engels, januari 2012
Among other things profiting in our tongue
Those which much may profit both old and young,
Such as on their fruit will feed or take hold
Are our common plain pithy proverbs old.
Some sense of some of which, being bare and rude,
Yet to fine and fruitful effect they allude.
And their sentences include so large a reach.
That almost in all things good lessons they teach.
This write I, not to teach, but to touch: for why?
Men know this as well or better than I.
But this, and this rest, I write for this,
Rememb'ring and considering what the pith is:
That, by remembrance of these, proverbs may grow.
In this tale, erst talked with a friend, I show
As many of them as we could fitly find
Falling to purpose, that might fall in mind;
To th'intent that the reader readily may
Find them, and mind them, when he will alway.
--- Chapter I.
Of mine acquaintance a certain young man
(Being a resorter to me now and than)
Resorted lately, showing himself to be
Desirous to talk at length alone with me.
And, as we for this a meet place had won,
With this old proverb this young man begun.
Whoso that knew what would be dear,
Should need be a merchant but one year.
Though it, (quoth he), thing impossible be
The full sequel of present things to foresee,
Yet doth this proverb provoke every man
Politically, (as man possible can),
In things to come after to cast eye before,
To cast out, or keep in, things for fore store;
As the provision may seem most profitable,
And the commodity most commendable.
Into this consideration I am wrought
By two things, which fortune to hands hath brought.
Two women I know, of which twain the tone
Is a maid of flowering age, a goodly one;
Th'other a widow, who so many years bears,
That all her whiteness lieth in her white hairs.
This maid hath friends rich, but riches hath she none,
Nor none can her hands get to live upon.
This widow is very rich, and her friends bare,
And both these, for love, to wed with me fond are.
And both would I wed, the better and the worse;
The tone for her person, the tother for her purse.
They woo not my substance, but myself they woo.
Goods have I none and small good can I do.
On this poor maid, her rich friends, I clearly know,
(So she wed where they will), great gifts will bestow,
But with them all I am so far from faver,
That she shall sure have no groat, if I have her.
And I shall have as little, all my friends swear,
Except I follow them, to wed elsewhere.
The poor friends of this rich widow bear no sway,
But wed her and win wealth, when I will I may.
Now which of these twain is like to be dearest?
In pain or pleasure to stick to me nearest?
The depth of all doubts with you to confither,
The sense of the said proverb sendeth me hither,
The best bargain of both quickly to have scan'd,
For one of them, think I, to make out of hand.
--- Chapter II.
Friend, (quoth I), welcome! and with right good will,
I will, as I can, your will herein fulfil.
And two things I see in you, that show you wise.
First, in wedding, ere ye wed to ask advice.
The second, your years being young it appears,
Ye regard yet good proverbs of old feme years.
And, as ye ground your tale upon one of them,
Furnish we this tale with everychone of them,
Such as may fitly fall in mind to dispose.
Agreed, (quoth he). Then, (quoth I), first this disclose
Have you to this old widow, or this young maid.
Any words of assurance ere this time said?
Nay, in good faith! said he. Well then, (said I),
I will be plain with you, and may honestly
And plainly too speak: I like you, (as I said),
In two foretold things; but a third have I weighed
Not so much to be liked, as I can deem;
Which is, in your wedding, your haste so extreme.
The best or worst thing to man, for this life,
Is good or ill choosing his good or ill wife.
I mean not only of body good or bad,
But of all things meet or unmeet to be had;
Such as at any time by any mean may,
Between man and wife, love increase or decay.
Where this ground in any head gravely grateth,
All fiery haste to wed, it soon rebateth.
Some things that provoke young men to wed in haste,
Show, after wedding, that haste maketh waste.
When time hath turned white sugar to white salt,
Then such folk see, soft fire maketh sweet malt.
And that deliberation doth men assist,
Before they wed, to beware of Had I wist.
And then, their timely wedding doth clear appear
That they were early up, and never the near.
And once their hasty heat a little controlled,
Then perceive they well, hot love soon cold.
And when hasty witless mirth is mated weele,
Good to be merry and wise, they think and feel.
Haste in wedding some man thinketh his own avail,
When haste proveth a rod made for his own tail.
And when he is well beaten with his own rod.
Then seeth he haste and wisdom things far odd.
And that in all, or most things, wisht at need,
Most times he seeth, the more haste the less speed.
In less thing's than wedding haste show'th hasty man's foe,
So that the hasty man never wanteth woe.
These sage said saws if ye take so profound,
As ye take that by which ye took your ground,
Then find ye grounded cause by these now here told,
In haste to wedding your haste to withhold.
And though they seem wives for you never so fit,
Yet let not harmful haste so far outrun your wit
But that ye hark to hear all the whole sum
That may please or displease you in time to come.
Thus, by these lessons, ye may learn good cheap
In wedding and all thing to look or ye leap.
Ye have even now well overlooked me, (quoth he),
And leapt very nigh me too. For, I agree
That these sage sayings do weightily weigh
Against haste in all thing, but I am at bay
By other parables, of like weighty weight,
Which haste me to wedding, as ye shall hear straight.
--- Chapter III.
He that will not when he may,
When he would he shall have nay.
Beauty or riches, the tone of the twain
Now may I choose, and which me list obtain.
And if we determine me this maid to take,
And then tract of time train her me to forsake,
Then my beautiful marriage lieth in the dike;
And never for beauty shall I wed the like.
Now if we award me this widow to wed,
And that I drive off time, till time she be dead,
Then farewell riches, the fat is in the fire,
And never shall I to like riches aspire.
And, a thousandfold would it grieve me more
That she, in my fault, should die one hour before
Than one minute after; then haste must provoke,
When the pig is proffered to hold up the poke.
When the sun shineth make hay; which is to say,
Take time when time cometh, lest time steal away.
And one good lesson to this purpose I pike
From the smith's forge, when th'iron is hot, strike!
The sure seaman seeth, the tide tarrieth no man;
And long delays or absence somewhat to scan,
Since that, that one will not another will
Delays in wooers must needs their speed spill.
And touching absence, the full accompte who summeth
Shall see, as fast as one goeth another cometh.
Time is tickle; and, out of sight, out of mind.
Then catch and hold while I may: fast bind, fast find.
Blame me not to haste for fear mine eye be bleared,
And thereby the fat clean flit from my beard.
Where wooers hop in and out, long time may bring
Him that hoppeth best at last to have the ring.
I hopping without for a ring of a rush,
And while I at length debate and beat the bush,
There shall step in other men and catch the birds.
And by long time lost in many vain words,
Between these two wives make sloth speed confound;
While, between two stools, my tail go to ground.
By this, since we see sloth must breed a scab,
Best stick to the tone out of hand, hab or nab.
Thus, all your proverbs inveighing against haste,
Be answered with proverbs plain and promptly placed.
Whereby, to purpose all this no further fits,
But to show so many heads so many wits.
Which show, as surely in all that they all tell,
That in my wedding I may even as well
Tarry too long, and thereby come too late,
As come too soon by haste in any rate.
And prove this proverb, as the words thereof go
Haste or sloth herein work nother wealth nor woe
Be it far or nigh, wedding is destiny.
And hanging likewise, saith that proverb, said I.
Then wed or hang, (quoth he), what helpeth in the whole,
To haste or hang aloof, happy man happy dole.
Ye deal this dole, (quoth I), out at a wrong dur;
For destiny, in this case doth not so stir
Against man's endeavour, but man may direct
His will, for provision to work or neglect.
But, to show that quick wedding may bring good speed,
Somewhat to purpose your proverbs prove in deed.
Howbeit, whether they counterpoise or outweigh
The proverbs which I before them did lay,
The trial thereof we will lay a water
Till we try more. For trying of which matter
Declare all commodities ye can devise
That, by those two weddings, to you can rise.
--- Chapter IV.
I will, (quoth he), in both these cases straight show
What things, (as I think), to me by them will grow.
And, where my love began, there begin will I
With this maid, the piece peerless in mine eye;
Whom I so favour, and she so favoureth me,
That half a death to us ['tis] asunder to be.
Affection, each to other, doth us so move
That well nigh, without food, we could live by love.
For, be I right sad, or right sick, from her sight,
Her presence absenteth all maladies quite;
Which seen, and that the great ground in marriage
Standeth upon liking the parties personage,
And then of old proverbs, in opening the pack,
One sheweth me openly, in love is no lack.
No lack of liking, but lack of living
May lack in love, (quoth I), and breed ill chieving.
Well, as to that, (said he), hark this othing:
What time I lack not her, I lack nothing.
But though we have nought, nor nought we can geat,
God never sendeth mouth but he sendeth meat;
And a hard beginning maketh a good ending;
In space cometh grace, and this further amending
Seldom cometh the better, and like will to like;
God sendeth cold after clothes; and this I pike,
She, by lack of substance, seeming but a spark,
Steinth yet the stoutest: for a leg of a lark
Is better than is the body of a kite;
And home is homely though it be poor in sight.
These proverbs for this part show such a flourish,
And then this party doth delight so nourish;
That much is my bow bent to shoot at these marks,
And kill fear: when the sky falleth we shall have larks.
All perils that fall may, who feareth they fall shall,
Shall so fear all thing, that he shall let fall all;
And be more fraid than hurt, if the things were doone;
Fear may force a man to cast beyond the moon;
Who hopeth in God's help, his help cannot start:
Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.
And will may win my heart, herein to consent,
To take all things as it cometh, and be content.
And here is, (q'he), in marrying of this maid,
For courage and commodity all mine aid.
Well said, (said I), but awhile keep we in quench
All this case, as touching this poor young wench.
And now declare your whole consideration;
What manner things draw your imagination
Toward your wedding of this widow, rich and old?
That shall ye, (q'he), out of hand have told.
--- Chapter V.
This widow, being foul, and of favour ill,
In good behaviour can very good skill;
Pleasantly spoken, and a very good wit;
And, at her table, when we together sit,
I am well served we fare of the best;
The meat good and wholesome, and whole-somely dressed;
Sweet and soft lodging, and thereof great shift
This felt and seen; with all implements of thrift,
Of plate and money such cupboards and coffers;
And that without pain I may win these proffers.
Then covetise, bearing Venus's bargain back,
Praising this bargain saith, better leave than lack.
And greediness, to draw desire to her lore,
Saith, that the wise man saith, store is no sore.
Who hath many peas may put the mo in the pot;
Of two ills, choose the least, while choice lieth in lot.
Since lack is an ill, as ill as man may have,
To provide for the worst, while the best itself save.
Resty wealth willeth me this widow to win.
To let the world wag, and take mine ease in mine inn
He must needs swim, that is hold up by the chin;
He laugheth that winneth. And this thread finer to spin,
Maister promotion saieth: make this substance sure;
If riches bring once portly countenance in ure,
Then shalt thou rule the roost all round about;
And better to rule, than be ruled by the rout.
It is said: be it better, be it worse,
Do ye after him that beareth the purse.
Thus be I by this once le senior de graunde,
Many that commanded me I shall command.
And also I shall, to revenge former hurts,
Hold their noses to grindstone, and sit on their skirts
That erst sat on mine. And riches may make
Friends many ways. Thus, better to give than take.
And, to make carnal appetite content,
Reason laboureth will, to win will's consent,
To take lack of beauty but as an eye fore,
The fair and the foul by dark are like store;
When all candles be out all cats be grey;
All things are then of one colour, as who say.
And this proverb saith, for quenching hot desire
Foul water as soon as fair will quench hot fire.
Where gifts be given freely east, west, north or south
No man ought to look a given horse in the mouth.
And though her mouth be foul she hath a fair tail
I conster this text, as is most my avail.
In want of white teeth and yellow hairs to behold,
She flourisheth in white silver and yellow gold.
What though she be toothles, and bald as a coot?
Her substance is shoot anker, whereat I shoot.
Take a pain for a pleasure all wise men can
What? hungry dogs will eat dirty puddings, man!
And here I conclude, (quoth he), all that I know
By this old widow, what good to me may grow.
--- Chapter VI.
Ye have, (quoth I), in these conclusions found
Sundry things, that very savourly sound;
And both these long cases, being well viewed,
In one short question we may well include;
Which is: whether best or worse be to be led
With riches, without love or beauty, to wed;
Or, with beauty without richesse, for love.
This question, (quoth he), inquireth all that I move.
It doth so, (said I), and is neerly couched,
But th'answer will not so briefly be touched;
And yourself, to length it, taketh direct trade.
For to all reasons that I have yet made,
Ye seem more to seek reasons how to contend,
Than to the counsel of mine to condescend.
And to be plain, as I must with my friend,
I perfectly feel, even at my fingers end,
So hard is your hand set on your halfpenny,
That my reasoning your reason setteth nought by.
But, reason for reason, ye so stiffly lay
By proverb for proverb, that with you do weigh,
That reason only shall herein nought move you
To hear more than speak; wherefore, I will prove you
With reason, assisted by experience,
Which myself saw, not long since nor far hence,
In a matter so like this fashioned in frame
That none can be liker it seemeth even the same;
And in the same, as yourself shall espy,
Each sentence suited with a proverb well nigh;
And, at end of the same, ye shall clearly see
How this short question shortly answered may be.
Yea, marry! (quoth he); now ye shoot nigh the prick;
Practise in all, above all toucheth the quick.
Proof upon practise, must take hold more sure
Than any reasoning by guess can procure.
If ye bring practise in place, without fabling,
I will banish both haste and busy babling.
And yet, that promise to perform is mickle,
For in this case my tongue must oft tickle.
Ye know well it is, as telleth us this old tale,
Meet that a man be at his own bridal,
If he wive well, (quoth I), meet and good it were;
Or else as good for him another were there.
But for this your bridal, I mean not in it
That silence shall suspend your speech every whit.
But in these marriages, which ye here meve,
Since this tale containeth the counsel I can give,
I would see your ears attend with your tongue;
For advice in both these weddings, old and young.
In which hearing, time seen when and what to talk,
When your tongue tickleth, at will let it walk.
And in these bridals, to the reasons of ours,
Mark mine experience in this case of yours.
--- Chapter VII.
Within few years passed, from London no far way,
Where I and my wife with our poor household lay,
Two young men were abiding; whom to discrive
Were I, in portraying persons dead or alive,
As cunning and as quick, to touch them at full,
As in that feat I am ignorant and dull,
Never could I paint their pictures to allow
More lively than to paint the picture of you.
And as your three persons show one similitude,
So show you three one, in all things to be viewed.
Likewise a widow and a maid there did dwell;
Alike, like the widow and maid ye of tell,
The friends of them four, in every degree
Standing in state, as the friends of you three.
Those two men, each other so hasted or tarried,
That those two women on one day they married.
Into two houses, which next my house did stand,
The one on the right, th'other on the left hand,
Both bridegrooms bade me I could do none other
But dine with the tone, and sup with the tother.
He that wedded this widow rich and old,
And also she, favoured me so that they wold
Make me dine or sup once or twice in a week.
This poor young man and his make, being to seek
As oft where they might eat or drink, I them bad,
Were I at home, to such pittance as I had.
Which common conference such confidence wrought
In them to me, that deed, word, ne well nigh thought
Chanced among them, whatever it were,
But one of the four brought it straight to mine ear.
Whereby, between these twain, and their two wives,
Both for wealth and woe, lives.
I knew all their four And since the matter is much intricate,
Between side and side, I shall here separate
All matters on both sides, and then sequestrate
Th'one side, while th'other be full rehearsed, in rate,
As for your understanding may best stand.
And this young poor couple shall come first in hand
Who, the day of wedding, and after a while,
Could not look each on other but they must smile;
As a whelp, for wantonness, in and out whips,
So played these twain, as merry as three chips.
Yea, there was God, (quoth he), when all is doone.
Abide! (quoth I), it was yet but honey moon;
The black ox had not trod on his nor her foot.
But ere this branch of bliss could reach any root,
The flowers so faded that, in fifteen weeks
A man might espy the change in the cheeks,
Both of this poor wretch, and his wife, this poor wench
Their faces told toys, that Tott'n'am was turned French.
And all their light laughing turn'd and translated
Into sad sighing; all mirth was amated.
And, one morning timely, he took in hand
To make, to my house, a sleeveless errand;
Hawking upon me, his mind herein to break,
Which I would not see till he began to speak,
Praying me to hear him: and I said, I would;
Wherewith this that followeth forthwith he told.
--- Chapter VIII.
I am now driven, (quoth he), for ease of my heart
To you, to utter part of mine inward smart.
And the matter concerneth my wife and me,
Whose fathers and mothers long since dead be;
But uncles, with aunts and cousins, have we
Divers, rich on both sides; so that we did see
If we had wedded, each where each kindred would,
Neither of us had lacked either silver or gold.
But never could suit, on either side, obtain
One penny to the one wedding of us twain.
And since our one marrying, or marring day,
Where any of them see us, they shrink away,
Solemnly swearing, such as may give ought,
While they and we live, of them we get right nought.
Nor nought have we, nor no way ought can we get,
Saving by borrowing till we be in debt
So far, that no man any more will us lend;
Whereby, for lack, we both be at our wits' end.
Whereof, no wonder; since the end of our good,
And beginning of our charge, together stood.
But wit is never good till it be bought.
Howbeit, when bought, wits to best price be brought;
Yet is one good forewit worth two after wits.
This payeth me home, lo! and full mo folly hits;
For, had I looked afore, with indifferent eye,
Though haste had made me thirst never so dry,
Yet to drown this drought, this must I needs think:
As I would needs brew, so must I needs drink.
The drink of my bride cup I should have forborne,
Till temperance had tempered the taste beforne.
I see now, and shall see while I am alive,
Who weddeth or he be wise shall die or he thrive.
I sing now in this fact, factus est repente,
Now mine eyes be open I do repent me:
He that will sell lawn before he can fold it,
He shall repent him before he have sold it.
Some bargains dear bought, good cheap would be sold;
No man loveth his fetters, be they made of gold;
Were I loose from the lovely links of my chain,
I would not dance in such fair fetters again.
In house to keep household, when folks will needs wed,
Mo things belong than four bare legs in a bed.
I reckoned my wedding a sugar-sweet spice;
But reckoners without their host much reckon twice.
And, although it were sweet for a week or twain,
Sweet meat will have sour sauce, I see now plain.
Continual penury, which I must take,
Telleth me: better eye out than alway ache.
Boldly and blindly I ventured on this;
Howbeit, who so bold as blind Bayard is?
And herein, to blame any man, then should I rave
For I did it myself: and self do, self have.
But, a day after fair cometh this remorse
For relief: for, though it be a good horse
That never stumbleth, what praise can that avouch
To jades that break their necks at first trip or touch?
And before this my first foil or breakneck fall,
Subtilly like a sheep, thought I, I shall
Cut my coat after my cloth when I have her.
But now I can smell, nothing hath no savour;
I am taught to know, in more haste than good speed,
How Judicare came into the Creed.
My careful wife in one corner weepeth in care,
And I in another; the purse is threadbare.
This corner of our care, (quoth he), I you tell,
To crave therein your comfortable counsel.
--- Chapter IX.
I am sorry, (quoth I), of your poverty;
And more sorry that I cannot succour ye;
If ye stir your need mine alms to stir,
Then of truth ye beg at a wrong man's dur.
There is nothing more vain, as yourself tell can,
Than to beg a breech of a bare-arsed man.
I come to beg nothing of you, (quoth he),
Save your advice, which may my best way be;
How to win present salve for this present sore.
I am like th'ill surgeon, (said I), without store
Of good plasters. Howbeit, such as they are,
Ye shall have the best I have. But first declare
Where your and your wife's rich kinfolk do dwell.
Environed about us, (quoth he), which showeth well,
The nearer to the church, the farther from God.
Most part of them dwell within a thousand rod,
And yet shall we catch a hare with a taber
As soon as catch aught of them, and rather.
Ye play cole-prophet, (quoth I), who taketh in hand
To know his answer before he do his errand.
What should I to them, (quoth he), fling or flit?
An unbidden guest knoweth not where to sit.
I am cast at cart's arse, some folk in lack
Cannot prease: a broken sleeve holdeth th'arm back;
And shame holdeth me back, being thus forsaken.
Tush, man! (quoth I), shame is as it is taken;
And shame take him that shame thinketh ye think none.
Unminded, unmoaned, go make your moan;
Till meat fall in your mouth, will ye lie in bed?
Or sit still? nay, he that gapeth till he be fed
May fortune to fast and famish for hunger.
Set forward, ye shall never labour younger.
Well, (quoth he), if I shall needs this viage make
With as good will as a bear goeth to the stake,
I will straight weigh anchor, and hoist up sail;
And thitherward hie me in haste like a snail;
And home again hitherward quick as a bee:
Now, for good luck, cast an old shoe after me.
And first to mine uncle, brother to my father,
By suit I will assay to win some favour.
Who brought me up, and till my wedding was done
Loved me, not as his nephew, but as his son;
And his heir had I been, had not this chanced.
Of lands and goods which should me much avanced.
Trudge, (quoth I), to him, and on your marybones
Crouch to the ground, and not so oft as once
Speak any one word him to contrary.
I cannot tell that, (quoth he), by Saint Mary!
One ill word axeth another, as folks spake.
Well! (quoth I), better is to bow than break
It hurteth not the tongue to give fair words;
The rough net is not the best catcher of birds.
Since ye can nought win, if ye cannot please,
Best is to suffer: for of sufferance cometh ease.
Cause causeth, (quoth he), and as cause causeth me,
So will I do: and with this away went he.
Yet, whether his wife should go with him or no,
He sent her to me to know ere he would go.
Whereto I said, I thought best he went alone.
And you, (quoth I), to go straight as he is gone,
Among your kinsfolk likewise, if they dwell nigh.
Yes, (quoth she), all round about, even here by.
Namely, an aunt, my mother's sister, who well,
(Since my mother died), brought me up from the shell,
And much would have given me, had my wedding grown
Upon her fancy, as it grew upon mine own.
And, in likewise, mine uncle, her husband, was
A father to me. Well, (quoth I), let pass;
And, if your husband will his assent grant,
Go, he to his uncle, and you to your aunt.
Yes, this assent he granteth before, (quoth she),
For he, ere this, thought this the best way to be.
But of these two things he would determine none
Without aid: for two heads are better than one.
With this we departed, she to her husband,
And I to dinner to them on th'other hand.
--- Chapter X.
When dinner was done I came home again
To attend on the return of these twain.
And ere three hours to end were fully tried,
Home came she first: welcome, (quoth I), and well hied!
Yea, a short horse is soon curried, (quoth she);
But the weaker hath the worse we all day see.
After our last parting, my husband and I
Departed, each to place agreed formerly.
Mine uncle and aunt on me did lower and glome;
Both bade me God speed, but none bade me welcome.
Their folks glomed on me too, by which it appeareth:
The young cock croweth, as he the old heareth.
At dinner they were, and made, (for manners' sake),
A kinswoman of ours me to table take;
A false flatt'ring filth; and, if that be good,
None better to bear two faces in one hood.
She speaketh as she would creep into your bosom;
And, when the meal-mouth hath won the bottom
Of your stomach, then will the pickthank it tell
To your most enemies, you to buy and sell.
To tell tales out of school, that is her great lust;
Look what she knoweth, blab it wist, and out it must.
There is no mo such titifils in England's ground,
To hold with the hare, and run with the hound.
Fire in the tone hand, and water in the tother,
The makebate beareth between brother and brother.
She can wink on the ewe and worry the lamb;
She maketh earnest matters of every flimflam.
She must have an oar in every man's barge;
And no man may chai ought in ought of her charge.
Coll under canstick, she can play on both hands;
Dissimulation well she understands.
She is lost with an apple, and won with a nut;
Her tongue is no edge tool, but yet it will cut.
Her cheeks are purple ruddy like a horse plum;
And the big part of her body is her bum.
But little tit-all-tail, I have heard ere this,
As high as two horse-loaves her person is.
For privy nips or casts overthwart the shins,
He shall lese the mastery that with her begins.
She is, to turn love to hate, or joy to grief,
A pattern as meet as a rope for a thief.
Her promise of friendship for any avail,
Is as sure to hold as an eel by the tail.
She is nother fish, nor flesh, nor good red herring.
She is a ringleader there; and I, fearing
She would spit her venom, thought it not evil
To set up a candle before the devil.
I clawed her by the back, in way of a charm
To do me, not the more good, but the less harm;
Praying her, in her ear, on my side to hold;
She thereto swearing, by her false faith, she would.
Straight after dinner mine aunt had no choice,
But other burst, or burst out in Pilate's voice:
Ye huswife, what wind bloweth ye hither this night?
Ye might have knocked ere ye came in; leave is light.
Better unborn than untaught, I have heard say;
But be ye better fed than taught, far away;
Not very fat fed, said this flebergebet;
But need hath no law; need maketh her hither jet.
She cometh, niece Alice, (quoth she), for that is her name,
More for need than for kindness, pain of shame.
Howbeit, she cannot lack, for he findeth that seeks;
Lovers live by love, yea, as larks live by leeks,
Said this Alice, much more than half in mockage.
Tush! (quoth mine aunt), these lovers in dotage
Think the ground bear them not, but wed of courage
They must in all haste; though a leaf of borage
Might buy all the substance that they can sell.
Well, aunt, (quoth Alice), all is well that ends well.
Yea, Alice, of a good beginning cometh a good end;
Not so good to borrow, as be able to lend.
Nay indeed, aunt, (quoth she), it is sure so;
She must needs grant she hath wrought her own woe.
She thought, Alice, she had seen far in a millstone,
When she gat a husband, and namely such one,
As they by wedding could not only nought win,
But lose both living and love of all their kin.
Good aunt, (quoth I), humbly I beseech ye,
My trespass done to you forgive it me.
I know, and knowledge I have wrought mine own pain;
But things past my hands, I cannot call again.
True, (quoth Alice], things done cannot be undone,
Be they done in due time, too late, or too soon;
But better late than never to repent this.
Too late, (quoth mine aunt), this repentance showed is:
When the steed is stolen shut the stable durre.
I took her for a rose, but she breedeth a burr;
She cometh to stick to me now in her lack;
Rather to rent off my clothes fro my back,
Than to do me one farthing worth of good.
I see day at this little hole. For this bood
Showeth -what fruit will follow. In good faith, I said,
In way of petition I sue for your aid.
Ah, well! (quoth she), now I well understand
The walking staff hath caught warmth in your hand.
A clean-fingered huswife, and an idle, folk say,
And will be lime-fingered, I fear, by my fay!
It is as tender as a parson's leman
Nought can she do, and what can she have than?
As sober as she seemeth, few days come about
But she will once wash her face in an ale clout.
And then between her and the rest of the rout,
I proud, and thou proud, who shall bear th'ashes out?
She may not bear a feather, but she must breathe,
She maketh so much of her painted sheath.
She thinketh her farthing good silver, I tell you;
But, for a farthing, whoever did sell you
Might boast you to be better sold than bought.
And yet, though she be worth nought, nor have nought,
Her gown is gayer and better than mine.
At her gay gown, (quoth Alice), ye may repine,
Howbeit, as we may, we love to go gay all.
Well, well! (quoth mine aunt), pride will have a fall;
For pride goeth before, and shame cometh after.
Sure, (said Alice), in manner of mocking laughter,
There is nothing in this world that agreeth worse
Than doth a lady's heart and a beggar's purse.
But pride she showeth none,_ her look reason alloweth,
She looketh as butter would not melt in her mouth.
Well, the still sow eats up all the draf, Alice;
All is not gold that glitters, by told tales.
In youth she was toward and without evil:
But soon ripe, soon rotten; young saint, old devil
Howbeit, Lo God sendeth the shrewd cow short horns.
While she was in this house she sat upon thorns,
Each one day was three till liberty was borrow,
For one month's joy to bring her whole life's sorrow.
It were pity, (quoth Alice), but she should do well;
For beauty and stature she beareth the bell.
Ill weed groweth fast, Alice: whereby the corn is lorne;
For surely the weed overgroweth the corn.
Ye praise the wine before ye taste of the grape;
But she can no more harm' than can a she ape.
It is a good body, her property preves
She lacketh but even a new pair of sleeves.
If I may, (as they say), tell truth without sin,
Of truth she is a wolf in a lamb's skin.
Her heart is full high when her eye is full low
A guest as good lost as found, for all this show
But many a good cow hath an evil calf.
I speak this, daughter, in thy mother's behalf,
My sister, (God rest her soul!) whom, though I boast,
Was called the flower of honesty in this coast.
Aunt, (quoth I), I take for father and mother
Mine uncle and you, above all other.
When we would, ye would not be our child, (quoth she),
Wherefore now when ye would, now will not we;
Since thou wouldst needs cast away thyself thus,
Thou shalt sure sink in thine own sin for us.
Aunt, (quoth I), after a doting or drunken deed,
Let submission obtain some mercy or meed.
He that killeth a man when he is drunk, (quoth she),
Shall be hanged when he is sober; and he.
Whom in itching no scratching will forbear.
He must bear the smarting that shall follow there.
And thou, being borne very nigh of my stock,
Though nigh be my kirtle, yet near is my smock
I have one of mine own whom I must look to.
Yea, aunt, (quoth Alice), that thing must ye needs do;
Nature compelleth you to set your own first up;
For I have heard say, it is a dear collop
That is cut out of th'own flesh. But yet, aunt,
So small may her request be, that ye may grant
To satisfy the same, which may do her good,
And you no harm in th'avancing your own blood.
And cousin, (quoth she to me), what ye would crave,
Declare, that our aunt may know what ye would have.
Nay, (quoth I), be they winners or losers,
Folk say alway beggars should be no choosers.
With thanks I shall take whatever mine aunt please;
Where nothing is, a little thing doth ease;
Hunger maketh hard beans sweet; where saddles lack,
Better ride on a pad than on the horse bare back.
And by this proverb appeareth this o'thing:
That alway somewhat is better than nothing.
Hold fast when ye have it, (quoth she), by my life!
The boy thy husband, and thou the girl, his wife,
Shall not consume that I have laboured for.
Thou art young enough, and I can work no more.
Kit Callot, my cousin, saw this thus far on,
And in mine aunt's ear she whispereth anon,
Roundly these words, to make this matter whole:
Aunt, let them that be a-cold blow at the coal.
They shall for me, Alice, (quoth she), by God's blist!
She and I have shaken hands: farewell, unkissed!
And thus, with a beck as good as a dieu gard,
She flang fro me, and I from her hitherward.
Begging of her booteth not the worth of a bean;
Little knoweth the fat sow what the lean doth mean.
Forsooth! (quoth I), ye have bestirred ye well
But where was your uncle while all this fray 'fell?
Asleep by, (quoth she), routing like a hog;
And it is evil waking of a sleeping dog.
The bitch and her whelp might have been asleep too,
For ought they in waking to me would do.
Fare ye well! (quoth she); I will now home straight,
And at my husband's hands for better news wait.
--- Chapter XI.
He came home to me the next day before noon:
What tidings now, (quoth I), how have ye doon?
Upon our departing, (quoth he), yesterday,
Toward mine uncle's, somewhat more than midway,
I overtook a man, a servant of his,
And a friend of mine; who guessed straight with this
What mine errand was, offering in the same
To do his best for me; and so, in God's name
Thither we went; nobody being within
But mine uncle, mine aunt, and one of our kin
A mad knave, as it were a railing jester,
Not a more gaggling gander hence to Chester.
At sight of me he asked, who have we there?
I have seen this gentleman, if I wist where;
Howbeit, lo! seldom seen, soon forgotten.
He was, (as he will be), somewhat cupshotten:
Six days in the week, beside the market day,
Malt is above wheat with him, market men say.
But forasmuch as I saw the same taunt
Contented well mine uncle and mine aunt,
And that I came to fall in and not to fall out,
I forbear; or else his drunken red snout
I would have made as oft change from hue to hue
As doth the cocks of Ind; for this is true:
It is a small hop on my thumb; and Christ wot,
It is wood at a word little pot soon hot.
Now merry as a cricket, and by and by
Angry as a wasp, though in both no cause why.
But he was at home there, he might speak his will:
Every cock is proud on his own dunghill.
I shall be even with him herein when I can.
But he, having done, thus mine uncle began:
Ye merchant! what attempteth you to attempt us,
To come on us before the messenger thus?
Roaming in and out, I hear tell how ye toss;
But son, the rolling stone never gathereth moss.
Like a pickpurse pilgrim ye pry and ye prowl
At rovers, to rob Peter and pay Poule.
Iwys, I know, or any more be told,
That draf is your errand, but drink ye wolde.
Uncle, (quoth I), of the cause for which I come
I pray you patiently hear the whole sum.
In faith! (quoth he), without any more summing,
I know to beg of me is thy coming.
Forsooth! (quoth his man), it is so, indeed;
And I dare boldly boast, if ye knew his need,
Ye would of pity yet fet him in some stay.
Son, better be envied than pitied, folk say;
And for his cause of pity, (had he had grace),
He might this day have been clear out of the case;
But now he hath well fished and caught a frog
Where nought is to wed with, wise men flee the clog.
Where I, (quoth I), did not as ye willed or bad,
That repent I oft, and as oft wish I had.
Son, (quoth he), as I have heard of mine olders,
Wishers and woulders be no good householders:
This proverb for a lesson, with such other.
Not like, (as who sayeth), the son of my brother,
But like mine own son, I oft before told thee
To cast her quite off; but it would not hold thee
When I willed thee any other where to go
Tush! there was no mo maids but malkin though
Ye had been lost to lack your lust when ye list,
By two miles trudging twice a week to be kissed.
I would ye had kissed well I will no more stir:
It is good to have a hatch before the dur.
But who will, in time present, pleasure refrain
Shall, in time to come, the more pleasure obtain.
Follow pleasure, and then will pleasure flee;
Flee pleasure, and pleasure will follow thee.
And how is my saying come to pass now?
How oft did I prophesy this between you
And your ginifinee nycebecetur?
When sweet sugar should turn to sour saltpetre?
Whereby ye should in saying that ye never saw,
Think that you never thought yourself a daw.
But that time ye thought me a daw, so that I
Did no good in all my words then, save only
Approved this proverb plain and true matter:
A man may well bring a horse to the water,
But he cannot make him drink without he will.
Colts, (quoth his man), may prove well with tatches ill,
For of a ragged colt there cometh a good horse
If he be good now of his ill past no force,
Well, he that hangeth himself a Sunday, (said he),
Shall hang still uncut down a Monday for me.
I have hanged up my hatchet, God speed him well!
A wonder thing what things these old things tell:
Cat after kind good mouse hunt; and also
Men say, kind will creep where it may not go.
Commonly all thing showeth fro whence it came;
The litter is like to the fire and the dam;
How can the foal amble if the horse and mare trot?
These sentences are assigned unto thy lot,
By conditions of thy father and mother,
My sister-in-law, and mine own said brother.
Thou followest their steps as right as a line.
For when provender prickt them a little tyne,
They did as thy wife and thou did, both dote
Each one on other; and being not worth a groat,
They went (witless) to wedding; whereby, at last,
They both went a-begging. And even the like cast
Hast thou; thou wilt beg or steal ere thou die
Take heed, friend, I have seen as far come as nigh.
If ye seek to find things ere they be lost,
Ye shall find one day you come to your cost.
This do I but repeat, for this I told thee;
And more I say; but I could not then hold thee;
Nor will not hold thee now; nor such folly feel,
To set at my heart that thou settest at thy heel.
And as of my good ere I one groat give,
I will see how my wife and myself may live.
Thou goest a-gleaning ere the cart have carried;
But ere thou glean ought, since thou wouldst be married,
Shall I make thee laugh now, and myself weep then?
Nay, good child! better children weep than old men.
Men should not prease much to spend much upon fools;
Fish is cast away that is cast in dry pools.
To flee charge, and find ease, ye would now here host
It is easy to cry ble at other men's cost.
But, a bow long bent, at length must wear weak:
Long bent I toward you, but that bent I will break.
Farewell, and feed full, that love ye well to do;
But you lust not to do that longeth thereto.
The cat would eat fish and would not wet her feet;
They must hunger in frost that will not work in heat.
And he that will thrive must ask leave of his wife;
But your wife will give none: by your and her life,
It is hard to wive and thrive both in a year.
Thus, by thy wiving, thriving doth so appear,
That thou art past thrift before thrift begin.
But lo! will will have will, though will woe win;
Will is a good son, and will is a shrewd boy;
And wilful shrewd will hath wrought thee this toy.
A gentle white spur, and at need a sure spear;
He standeth now as he had a flea in his ear.
Howbeit, for any great courtesy he doth make,
It seemeth the gentle man hath eaten a steak.
He beareth a dagger in his sleeve, trust me,
To kill all that he meeteth prouder than he.
He will perk: I here say he must have the bench
Jack would be a gentleman if he could speak French.
He thinketh his feet be where his head shall never come;
He would fain flee, but he wanteth feathers, some.
Sir, (quoth his man), he will no fault defend,
But hard is for any man all faults to mend
He is lifeless, that is faultless, old folks thought.
He hath, (quoth he), but one fault, he is nought.
Well, (quoth his man), the best cart may overthrow,
Carts well driven, (quoth he), go long upright, though.
But, for my reward, let him be no longer tarrier,
I will send it him by John Long the carrier.
O! help him, sir, (said he), since ye easily may.
Shameful craving, (quoth he), must have shameful nay.
Ye may, sir, (quoth he), mend three nays with one yea.
Two false knaves need no broker, men say, (said he).
Some say also, it is merry when knaves meet;
But the mo knaves, the worse company to greet;
The one knave now croucheth while th'other craveth.
But to show what shall be his relevavith,
Either after my death, if my will be kept,
Or during my life: had I this hall hept
With gold, he may his part on Good Friday eat
And fast never the worse, for ought he shall geat.
These former lessons conned, take for this, son:
Tell thy cards, and then tell me what thou hast won.
Now, here is the door, and there is the way;
And so, (quoth he), farewell, gentle Geoffrey!
Thus parted I from him, being much dismayed,
Which his man saw, and (to comfort me) said:
What, man, pluck up your heart, be of good cheer!
After clouds black, we shall have weather clear.
What, should your face thus again the wool be shorn
For one fall? What, man, all this wind shakes no corn!
Let this wind overblow; a time I will spy
To take wind and tide with me, and speed thereby.
I thank you, (quoth I), but great boast and small roast
Maketh unsavoury mouths, wherever men host.
And this boast very unfavourly serveth;
For while the grass groweth the horse sterveth;
Better one bird in hand than ten in the wood.
Rome was not built in one day, (quoth he), and yet stood
Till it was finished, as some say, full fair.
Your heart is in your hose, all in despair;
But, as every man sayeth, a dog hath a day
Should you, a man, despair then any day? nay!
Ye have many strings to the bow, for ye know,
Though I, having the bent of your uncle's bow,
Can no way bring your bolt in the butt to stand;
Yet have ye other marks to rove at hand.
The keys hang not all by one man's girdle, man;
Though nought will be won here, I say, yet ye can
Taste other kinsmen; of whom ye may geat
Here some, and there some: many small make a great.
For come light winnings with blessings or curses,
Evermore light gains make heavy purses.
Children learn to creep ere they can learn to go;
And, little and little, ye must learn even so.
Throw no gift again at the giver's head;
For, better is half a loaf than no bread.
I may beg my bread, (quoth I), for my kin all
That dwelleth nigh. Well, yet, (quoth he), and the worst fall,
Ye may to your kinsman, hence nine or ten mile,
Rich without charge, whom ye saw not of long while.
That benchwhistler, (quoth I), is a pinchpenny,
As free of gift as a poor man of his eye.
I shall get a fart of a dead man as soon
As a farthing of him; his dole is soon done.
He is so high in th'instep, and so straightlaced,
That pride and covetise withdraweth all repast,
Ye know what he hath been, (quoth he), but i-wis,
Absence sayeth plainly, ye know not what he is.
Men know, (quoth I), I have heard now and then,
How the market goeth by the market men.
Further it is said, who that saying weigheth,
It must needs be true that every man sayeth.
Men say also: children and fools cannot lie
And both man and child sayeth, he is a heinsby.
And myself knoweth him, I dare boldly brag,
Even as well as the beggar knoweth his bag.
And I knew him not worth a grey groat;
He was at an ebb, though he be now afloat,
Poor as the poorest. And now nought he setteth
By poor folk, For the parish priest forgetteth
That ever he hath been holy water clerk.
By ought I can now hear, or ever could mark,
Of no man hath he pity or compassion.
Well, (quoth he), every man after his fashion;
He may yet pity you, for ought doth appear,
It happeth in one hour that happeth not in seven year.
Forspeak not your fortune, nor hide not your need;
Nought venture, nought have; spare to speak, spare to speed;
Unknown, unkissed; it is lost that is unsought.
As good seek nought, (quoth I), as seek and find nought.
It is, (quoth he), ill fishing before the net.
But though we get little, dear bought and far fet
Are dainties for ladies. Go we both two;
I have for my master thereby to do.
I may break a dish there; and sure I shall
Set all at six and seven, to win some windfall.
And I will hang the bell about the cat's neck,
For I will first break and jeopard the first check.
And for to win this prey, though the cost be mine,
Let us present him with a bottle of wine.
What should we, (quoth I), grease the fat sow in th'arse,
We may do much ill, ere we do much wars.
It is, to give him, as much alms or need,
As cast water in Thames, or as good a deed
As it is to help a dog over a stile.
Then go we, (quoth he), we lese time all this while.
To follow his fancy we went together,
And toward night yesternight when we came thither,
She was within, but he was yet abroad,
And straight as she saw me she swelled like a toad,
Pattering the devil's Pater noster to herself:
God never made a more crabbed elf!
She bade him welcome, but the worse for me;
This knave cometh a-begging by me, thought she.
I smelled her out, and had her straight in the wind;
She may abide no beggars of any kind.
They be both greedy guts all given to get
They care not how: all is fish that cometh to net.
They know no end of their good; nor beginning
Of any goodness: such is wretched winning.
Hunger droppeth even out of both their noses.
She goeth with broken shoon and torn hoses;
But who is worse shod than the shoemaker's wife,
With shops full of new shoes all her life?
Or who will do less than they that may do most?
And namely of her I can no way make boast.
She is one of them to whom God bade ho;
She will all have, and will right nought forego;
She will not part with the paring of her nails;
She toileth continually for avails;
Which life she hath so long now kept in ure,
That for no life she would make change, be sure.
But this lesson learned I, ere I was years seven:
They that be in hell ween there is none other heaven.
She is nothing fair, but she is ill favoured;
And no more uncleanly than unsweet favoured;
But hackney men say at mangy hackney's hire,
A scald horse is good enough for a scabbed squire.
He is a knucklebone-yard, very meet
To match a minion nother fair nor sweet.
He winketh with the tone eye and looketh with the tother;
I will not trust him though he were my brother.
He hath a poison wit, and all his delight
To give taunts and checks of most spiteful spite.
In that house commonly, such is the cast,
A man shall as soon break his neck as his fast;
And yet, now such a gid did her head take,
That more for my mate's than for manner's sake,
We had bread and drink, and a cheese very great;
But the greatest crabs be not all the best meat.
For her crabbed cheese, with all the greatness,
Might well abide the fineness, or sweetness.
Anon he came in; and when he us saw,
To my companion kindly he did draw;
And a well favoured welcome to him he yields,
Bidding me welcome strangely over the fields
With these words: Ah, young man! I know your matter;
By my faith! you come to look in my water;
And for my comfort to your consolation,
Ye would buy my purse give me a purgation!
But I am laxative enough there otherwise.
This, (quoth this young man), contrary doth rise;
For he is purse-sick, and lacketh a physician;
And hopeth upon you in some condition,
Not by purgation, but by restorative,
To strength his weakness to keep him alive.
I cannot, (quoth he), for though it be my lot
To have speculation, yet I practise not.
I see much, but I say little, and do less
In this kind of physic and what would ye guess:
Shall I consume myself to restore him now?
Nay, backare! (quoth Mortimer to his sow);
He can, before this time, no time assign,
In which he hath laid down one penny by mine,
That ever might either make me bite or sup.
And by'r lady, friend! nought lay down, nought take up;
Ka me, ka thee; one good turn asketh another;
Nought won by the tone, nought won by the tother.
To put me to cost, thou eamest half a score miles
Out of thine own nest, to seek me in these out isles:
Where thou wilt not step over a straw, I think,
To win me the worth of one draught of drink,
No more than I have won of all thy whole stock.
I have been common Jack to all that whole flock;
When ought was to do I was common hackney
Folk call on the horse that will carry alway
But evermore the common horse is worst shod.
Desert and reward be ofttimes things far odd;
At end I might put my winning in mine eye,
And see never the worse, for ought I wan them by.
And now, without them I live here at stave's end,
Where I need not borrow, nor I will not lend.
It is good to beware by other men's harms;
But thy taking of thine halter in thine arms
Teacheth other to beware of their harms by thine:
Thou hast stricken the ball under the line.
I pray you, (quoth I), pity me, a poor man,
With somewhat till I may work as I can.
Toward your working, (quoth he), ye make such tastings,
As approve you to be none of the hastings.
Ye run to work in haste as nine men held ye;
But whensoever ye to work must yield ye,
If your meet-mate and you meet together,
Then shall we see two men bear a feather;
Recompensing former loitering life loose,
As did the pure penitent that stale a goose
And stack down a feather. And, where old folk tell
That evil gotten good never proveth well;
Ye will truly get, and true getting well keep
Till time ye be as rich as a new shorn sheep.
Howbeit, when thrift and you fell first at a fray,
You played the man, for ye made thrift run away.
So help me God! in my poor opinion,
A man might make a play of this minion,
And fain no ground, but take tales of his own friends:
I suck not this out of my own fingers' ends.
And since ye were wed, although I nought gave you,
Yet pray I for you, God and Saint Luke save you!
And here is all: for what should I further wade?
I was neither of court nor of council made;
And it is, as I have learned in listening,
A poor dog that is not worth the whistling.
A day ere I was wed, I bade you, (quoth I).
Scarb'rough warning I had, (quoth he), whereby
I kept me thence, to serve thee according,
And now, if this night's lodging and boarding
May ease thee, and rid me from any more charge,
Then welcome! or else get thee straight at large.
For of further reward, mark how I boast me,
In case as ye shall yield me as ye cost me,
So shall ye cost me as ye yield me likewise;
Which is, a thing of nought rightly to surmise.
Herewithal, his wife, to make up my mouth,
Not only her husband's taunting tale avoweth,
But thereto deviseth to cast in my teeth
Checks and choking oysters. And when she seeth
Her time to take up, to show my fare at best:
Ye see your fare, (said she), set your heart at rest.
Fare ye well! (quoth I), however I fare now;
And well mote ye fare both when I dine with you.
Come, go we hence, friend! (quoth I to my mate)
And now will I make a cross on this gate.
And I, (quoth he), cross thee quite out of my book
Since thou art cross failed; avail, unhappy hook!
By hook or crook nought could I win there; men say:
He that cometh every day, shall have a cockney;
He that cometh now and then, shall have a fat hen.
But I gat not so much in coming seeld when,
As a good hen's feather, or a poor eggshell:
As good play for nought as work for nought, folk tell.
Well, well! (quoth he), we be but where we were;
Come what come would, I thought ere we came there,
That if the worst fell, we could have but a nay.
There is no harm done, man, in all this fray;
Neither pot broken, nor water spilt.
Farewell, he! (quoth I), I will as soon be hilt
As wait again for the moonshine in the water.
But is not this a pretty piked matter?
To disdain me, who muck of the world hoardeth not,
As he doeth; it may rhyme but it acaordeth not.
She foameth like a boar, the beast should seem bold;
For she is as fierce as a Lion of Cotsolde.
She frieth in her own grease, but as for my part,
If she be angry, beshrew her angry heart!
Friend, (quoth he), he may show wisdom at will,
That with angry heart can hold his tongue 'still:
Let patience grow in your garden alway.
Some loose or odd end will come, man, some one day
From some friend, either in life or at death.
Death! (quoth I), take we that time to take a breath?
Then graft we a green graft on a rotten root:
Who waitelh for dead men shoes shall go long barefoot.
Let pass, (quoth he), and let us be trudging
Where some noppy ale is, and soft sweet lodging.
Be it, (quoth I), but I would very fain eat;
At breakfast and dinner I eat little meat,
And two hungry meals make the third a glutton.
We went where we had boiled beef and bake mutton,
Whereof I fed me as full as a tun;
And a-bed were we ere the clock had nine run.
Early we rose, in haste to get away;
And to the hostler this morning, by day,
This fellow called, What ho! fellow, thou knave!
I pray thee let me and my fellow have
A hair of the dog that bit us last night
And bitten were we both to the brain aright.
We saw each other drunk in the good ale glass,
And so did each one each other, that there was,
Save one; but old men say that are skilled:
A hard foughten field where no man scapeth unkilled.
The reckoning reckoned, he needs would pay the shot;
And needs he must for me, for I had it not.
This done we shook hands, and parted in fine;
He into his way, and I into mine.
But this journey was quite out of my way:
Many kinsfolk and few friends, some folk say;
But I find many kinsfolk, and friend not one.
Folk say it hath been said many years since gone
Prove thy friend ere thou have need; but, indeed,
A friend is never known till a man have need.
Before I had need, my most present foes
Seemed my most friends; but thus the world goes:
Every man basteth the fat hog we see;
But the lean shall burn ere he basted be.
As sayeth this sentence, oft and long said before:
He that hath plenty of goods shall have more;
He that hath but a little, he shall have less;
He that hath right nought, right nought shall possess.
Thus, having right nought, and would some what obtain,
With right nought, (quoth he), I am returned again.
--- Chapter XII.
Surely, (quoth I), ye have in this time, thus worn,
Made a long harvest for a little corn!
Howbeit, comfort yourself with this old text,
That telleth us, when bale is hekst, boot is next;
Though every man may not sit in the chair,
Yet alway the grace of God is worth a fair.
Take no thought in no case, God is where he was.
But put case, in poverty all your life pass,
Yet poverty and poor degree, taken well,
Feedeth on this: he that never climbed, never fell.
And some case, at some time, showeth prefe somewhere,
That riches bringeth oft harm, and ever fear,
Where poverty passeth without grudge of grief.
What, man! the beggar may sing before the thief;
And who can sing so merry a note
As may he that cannot change a groat?
Yea, (quoth he), beggars may sing before thieves,
And weep before true men, lamenting their greeves.
Some say, and I feel, hunger pierceth stonewall;
Meat, nor yet money to buy meat withal,
Have I not so much as may hunger defend
Fro my wife and me. Well! (quoth I), God will send
Time to provide for time, right well ye shall see.
God send that provision in time! (said he.)
And thus, seeming well-nigh weary of his life,
The poor wretch went to his like poor wretched wife:
From wantonness to wretchedness, brought on their knees;
Their hearts full heavy, their heads be full of bees.
And after this a month, or somewhat less,
Their landlord came to their house to take a stress
For rent; to have kept Bayard in the stable
But that to win, any power was unable.
For, though it be ill playing with short daggers,
Which meaneth, that every wise man staggers,
In earnest or boord to be busy or bold
With his biggers or betters, yet this is told:
Whereas nothing is, the king must lose his right.
And thus, king or keyser, must have set them quight.
But warning to depart thence they needed none;
For, ere the next day, the birds were flown, each one
To seek service; of which, where the man was sped,
The wife could not speed; but, maugre her head,
She must seek elsewhere, for either there or nigh,
Service for any suit she none could espy.
All folk thought them, not only too lither
To linger both in one house together;
But also, dwelling nigh under their wings,
Under their noses they might convey things
Such as were neither too heavy nor too hot
More in a month than they their master got
In a whole year. Whereto folk further weighing,
Receive each of other in their conveying,
Might be worst of all; for this proverb preeves:
Where be no receivers, there be no thieves.
Such hap here hapt, that common dread of such gyles
Drove them and keepeth them asunder many miles.
Thus, though love decree departure death to be,
Yet poverty parteth fellowship, we see;
And doth those two true lovers so dissever,
That meet shall they seeld when, or haply never.
And thus by love, without regard of living,
These twain have wrought each other's ill chieving;
And love hath so lost them the love of their friends,
That I think them lost; and thus this tale ends.
--- Chapter XIII.
Ah, sir! (said my friend), when men will needs marry,
I see now, how wisdom and haste may vary:
Namely, where they wed for love altogether.
I would for no good, but I had come hither.
Sweet beauty with sour beggary! nay, I am gone
To the wealthy withered widow, by Saint John!
What! yet in all haste, (quoth I)? Yea! (q. he);
For she hath substance enough; and ye see
That lack is the loss of these two young fools.
Know ye not, (quoth I), that, after wise men's schools,
A man should hear all parts ere he judge any?
Why axe ye that (quoth he)? For this, (quoth I):
I told you, when I this began, that I would
Tell you of two couples; and I, having told
But of the tone, ye be straight starting away,
As I of the tother had right nought to say;
Or, as yourself of them right nought would hear.
Nay, not all so, (quoth he), but since I think clear
There can no way appear so painful a life
Between your young neighbour and his old rich wife,
As this tale in this young poor couple doth show;
And that the most good or least ill ye know
To take at end, I was at beginning bent,
With thanks for this and your more pain to prevent,
Without any more matter now revolved,
I take this matter here clearly resolved;
And that ye herein award me to forsake
Beggarly beauty, and rivalled riches take.
That's just, if the half shall judge the whole,
But yet, hear the whole, the whole wholly to try
To it (quoth he) then, I pray you, by and by.
We will dine first, (quoth I), it is noon high.
We may as well, (quoth he), dine when this is done;
The longer forenoon, the shorter afternoon
All cometh to one, and thereby men have guessed,
Alway the longer east, the shorter "west.
We have had, (quoth I), before ye came, and syne,
Weather meet to set paddocks abrood in:
Rain more than enough; and when all shrews have dined,
Change from foul weather to fair is oft inclined.
And all the shrews in this part, saving one wife
That must dine with us, have dined, pair of my life!
Now, if good change of ill weather be depending
Upon her diet, what were mine offending
To keep the woman any longer fasting?
If ye, (quoth he), fet all this far casting
For common wealth, as it appeareth a clear case,
Reason would your will should, and shall take place.
Thus Endeth The First Part.
--- Chapter I.
Diners cannot be long where dainties want;
Where coin is not common, commons must he scant.
In post pace we passed from potage to cheese,
And yet this man cried: Alas, what time we lese!
He would not let us pause after our repast;
But apart he plucked me straight, and in all haste,
As I of this poor young man, and poor young maid,
Or more poor young wife, the foresaid words had said,
So prayeth he me now the process may be told,
Between th'other young man, and rich widow old.
If ye lack that, (quoth I), away ye must wind,
With your whole errand, and half th'answer behind.
Which thing to do, since haste thereto showeth you loth,
And to haste your going, the day away goeth;
And that time lost, again we cannot win:
Without more loss of time, this tale I begin.
In this late old widow, and then old new wife,
Age and appetite jell at a strong strife:
Her lust was as young as her limbs were old.
The day of her wedding, like one to be sold,
She set out herself in fine apparel.
She was made like a beer pot, or a barrel;
A crooked hooked nose, beetle browed, blear eyed.
Many men wished, for beautifying that bride,
Her waist to be gird in, and for a bon grace,
Some well favoured visor on her ill favoured face.
But with visorlike visage, such as it was,
She smirked, and she smiled, but so lisped this lass,
That folk might have thought it done only alone
Of wantonness, had not her teeth been gone.
Upright as a candle standeth in a socket
Stood she that day, so simper-de-cocket.
Of ancient fathers she took no cure nor care,
She was to them as coy as a croker's mare.
She took th'entertainment of the young men
All in dalliance, as nice as a nun's hen.
I suppose that day her ears might well glow,
For all the town talked of her, high and low.
One said, a well favoured old woman she is;
The devil she is, said another; and to this,
In came the third, with his five eggs, and said,
Fifty year ago I knew her a trim maid.
Whatever she were then, (said one), she is now
To become a bride, os meet as a sow
To bear a saddle. She is, in this marriage,
As comely as is a cow in a cage.
Gup! with a galled back Gill, come up to supper!
What? mine old mare would have a new crupper!
And now mine old hat must have a new band!
Well, (quoth one), glad is he that hath her in hand;
A goodly marriage she is, I hear say.
She is so, (quoth one), were the woman away.
Well, (quoth another), fortune this moveth;
And in this case every man as he loveth
Quoth the good man when thai he kissed his cow.
That kiss, (quoth one), doth well here, by God a vow!
But how can she give a kiss, sour or sweet?
Her chin and her nose within half an inch meet.
Cod is no botcher, sir! said another;
He shapeth all parts as each part may fit other.
Well, (quoth one), wisely, let us leave this scanning;
God speed them! be as be may is no banning.
That shall be, shall be; and with God's grace they shall
Do well, and that they so may, wish we all.
This wonder, (as wonders last), lasted nine days;
Which done, and all guests of this feast gone there ways,
Ordinary household this man straight began
Very sumptuously, which he might well do than.
What he would have, he might have; his wife was set
In such dotage of him, that fair words did fet
Gromwell-seed plenty; and pleasure to prefer,
She made much of him, and he mocked much of her.
I was, (as I said), much there, and most of all
The first month; in which time such kindness did fall
Between these two counterfeit turtle birds;
To see his sweet looks, and hear her sweet words,
And to think wherefore they both put both inure,
It would have made a horse break his halter sure.
All the first fortnight their ticking might have taught
Any young couple their love ticks to have wrought.
Some laughed, and said: all thing is gay that is green.
Some thereto said: the green new broom sweepeth clean.
But since all thing is the worse for the wearing,
Decay of clean sweeping folk had in fearing.
And indeed, ere two months away were crept,
And her biggest bags into his bosom swept,
Where love had appeared in him to her alway
Hot as a toast, it grew cold as a kay.
He at meat carving her, and none else before,
Now carved he to all but her, and her no more.
Where her words seemed honey, by his smiling cheer,
Now are they mustard, he frowneth them to hear.
And when she saw sweet sauce began to wax sour,
She waxed as sour as he, and as well could lower.
So turned they their tippets by way of exchange,
From laughing to lowering, and taunts did so range
That in plain terms, plain truth to you to utter,
They two agreed like two cats in a gutter.
Marry, sir! (quoth he), by scratching and biting
Cats and dogs come together, by folks reciting.
Together by the ears they come, (quoth I), cheerly;
Howbeit those words are not void here clearly.
For, in one state they twain could not yet settle,
But wavering as the wind: in dock, out nettle.
Now in, now out; now here, now there; now sad,
Now merry; now high, now low; now good, now bad.
In which unsteady sturdy storms strainable,
To know how they both were irrefrainable,
Mark how they fell out, and how they fell in:
At end of a supper she did thus begin.
--- Chapter II.
Husband, (quoth she), I would we were in our nest;
When the belly is full, the bones would be at rest.
So soon upon supper, (said he), no question
Sleep maketh ill and unwholesome digestion:
By that diet a great disease once I gat.
And burnt child fire dreadeth; I will beware of that.
What, a post of physic, (said she)? Yea, a post;
And from post to pillar, wife, I have been tossed
By that surfeit. And I feel a little fit
Even now, by former attempting of it.
Whereby, except I shall seem to leave my wit
Before it leave me, I must now leave it.
I thank God, (quoth she), I never yet felt pain
To go to bed timely; but rising again,
Too soon in the morning, hath me displeased.
And I, (quoth he), have been more diseased
By early lying down, than by early rising.
But thus differ folk, lo! in exercising:
That one may not, another may.
Use maketh maistry; and men many times say
That one loveth not, another doth; which hath sped
All meats to be eaten, and all maids to be wed.
Haste ye to bed now, and rise ye as ye rate;
While I rise early, and come to bed late.
Long lying warm in bed is wholesome, (quoth she);
While the leg warmeth, the boot harmeth, (quoth he).
Well, (quoth she), he that doeth as most men do,
Shall be least wondered on; and take any two
That be man and wife, in all this whole town,
And most part together they rise and lie down.
When birds shall roost, (quoth he), at eight, nine, or ten,
Who shall appoint their hour the cock, or the hen?
The hen, (quoth she); the cock, (quoth he); just, (quoth she),
As Germans lips. It shall prove more just, (quoth he).
Then prove I, (quoth she), the more fool far away;
But there is no fool to the old fool, folk say.
Ye are wise enough, (quoth he), if ye keep ye warm.
To be kept warm, and for none other harm,
Nor for much more good, I took you to wed.
I took not you, (quoth he), night and day to bed.
Her carrain carcase, (said he), is so cold
Because she is aged, and somewhat too old,
That she killeth me: I do but roast a stone
In warming her. And shall not I save one,
As she would save another? Yes, by Saint John!
Ah, sir! (quoth she), marry! this gear is alone.
Who that worst may shall hold the candle; I see
I must warm bed for him should warm it for me.
This medicine thus ministered is sharp and cold;
But all thing that is sharp is short, folk have told.
This trade is now begun, but if it hold on,
Then farewell my good days! they will be soon gone.
Gospel in thy mouth, (quoth he), this strife to break.
Howbeit, all is not gospel that thou dost speak.
But what need we lump out love, at once lashing
As we should now shake hands? what! soft for dashing?
The fair lasteth all the year; we be new knit,
And so late met that I fear we part not yet.
Quoth the baker to the pillory. Which thing,
From distemperate fonding, temperance may bring;
And this reason to aid, and make it more strong,
Old wise folk say: love me little, love me long.
I say little, (said she), but I think more;
Thought is free. Ye lean, (quoth he), to the wrong shore.
Brawling booted not, he was not that night bent
To play the bridegroom: alone to bed she went.
This was their beginning of jar. Howbeit,
For a beginning, this was a feat fit,
And but a fleabiting to that did ensue
The worst is behind; we come not where it grew.
How say you, (said he to me), by my wife?
The devil hath cast a bone, (said I), to set strife
Between you; but it were a folly for me
To put my hand between the bark and the tree;
Or to put my finger too far in the fire
Between you, and lay my credence in the mire.
To meddle little for me it is best;
For of little meddling cometh great rest.
Yes, ye may meddle, (quoth he), to make her wise,
Without taking harm, in giving your advice.
She knoweth me not yet; but if she wax too wild
I shall make her know an old knave is no child.
Slugging in bed with her is worse than watching;
I promise you an old sack axeth much patching.
Well, (quoth I), to-morrow I will to my beads
To pray, that as ye both will, so ache your heads;
And in meantime, my aching head to ease,
I will couch a hogshead. Quoth he, when ye please.
We parted; and this, within a day or twain,
Was raked up in th'ashes, and covered again.
--- Chapter III.
These two days past, he said to me, when ye will
Come chat at home; all is well Jack shall have Jill.
Who had the worst end of the staff, (quoth I), now?
Shall the master wear a breech, or none? say you?
I trust the sow will no more so deep root.
But if she do, (quoth he), you must set in foot;
And whom ye see out of the way, or shoot wide,
Over-shoot not yourself any side to hide;
But shoot out some words, if she be too hot.
She may say, (quoth I), a fool's bolt soon shot.
Ye will me to a thankless office hear;
And a busy officer I may appear;
And, Jack out of office, she may bid me walk;
And think me as wise as Waltham's calf, to talk
Or chat of her charge, having therein nought to do.
Howbeit, if I see need, as my part cometh too,
Gladly between you I will do my best.
I bid you to dinner, (quoth he), as no guest,
And bring your poor neighbours on your other side.
I did so. And straight as th'old wife us espied,
She bade us welcome, and merrily toward me:
Green rushes for this stranger, straw here, (quoth she).
With this, apart she pulled me by the sleeve,
Saying in few words: my mind to you to meve,
So it is, that all our great fray, the last night,
Is forgiven and forgotten between us quite;
And all frays by this I trust have taken end,
For I fully hope my husband will amend.
Well amended, (thought I), when ye both relent,
Not to your own, but each to other's mend ment.
Now, if hope fail, (quoth she), and chance bring about
Any such breach, whereby we fall again out,
I pray you tell him he's pars vers, now and than,
And wink on me. Also hardly, if ye can
Take me in any trip. Quoth I, I am loth
To meddle commonly. For as this tale go'th,
Who meddleth in all thing may shoe the gosling.
Well! (quoth she), your meddling herein may bring
The wind calm between us, when it else might rage.
I will, with good will, (quoth I), ill winds to swage,
Spend some wind at need, though I waste wind in vain.
To table we sat where fine fare did remain;
Merry we were as cup and can could hold;
Each one with each other homely and bold.
And she for her part, made us cheer heaven high
The first part of dinner merry as a pie:
But a scald head is soon broken; and so they,
As ye shall straight hear, fell at a new fray.
--- Chapter IV.
Husband, (quoth she), ye study, be merry now;
And even as ye think now, so come to you.
Nay, not so, (quoth he), for my thought to tell right,
I think how ye lay groaning wife, all last night.
Husband! a groaning horse, and a groaning wife,
Never fail their master, (quoth she), for my life.
No, wife! a woman hath nine lives like a cat.
Well, my lamb I (quoth she), ye may pick out of that,
As soon goeth the young lamskin to the market
As th' old ewe's. God forbid, wife! ye shall first jet.
I will not jet yet, (quoth she), put no doubting:
It is a bad sack that will abide no clouting.
And, as we oft see, the lothe stake standeth long,
So is it an ill stake, I have heard among,
That cannot stand one year in a hedge.
I drink! (quoth she). Quoth he, I will not pledge.
What need all this? a man may love his house well
Though he ride not on the ridge, I have heard tell.
What? I ween, (quoth she), proffered service stinketh;
But somewhat it is, I see, when the cat winketh,
And both her eyne out; but further strife to shun;
Let the cat wink, and let the mouse run.
This passed, and he cheered us all, but most cheer
On his part, to this fair young wife did appear.
And as he to her cast oft a loving eye,
So cast her husband like eye to his plate by;
Wherewith in a great musing he was brought.
Friend! (quoth the good man), a penny for your thought.
For my thought, (quoth he); that is a goodly dish.
But of truth I thought: better to have than wish.
What! a goodly young wife, as you have, (quoth he)?
Nay, (quoth he), goodly gilt goblets, as here be.
By'r lady, friends! (quoth I), this maketh a show,
To show you more unnatural than the crow:
The crow thinketh her own birds fairest in the wood.
But, by your words, (except I wrong understood),
Each other's birds or jewels, ye do weigh
Above your own. True, (quoth the old wife), ye say!
But my neighbour's desire rightly to measure,
Cometh of need, and not of corrupt pleasure;
And my husband's more of pleasure, than of need.
Old fish and young flesh, (quoth he), doth men best feed;
And some say, change of pasture maketh fat calves.
As for that, reason, (quoth she), runneth to halves:
As well for the cow calf as for the bull.
And though your pasture look barrenly and dull,
Yet look not on the meat, but look on the man;
And whoso looketh on you, shall shortly skan.
Ye may write to your friends that ye are in health;
But all thing may be suffered saving wealth.
An old said saw: itch and ease can no man please;
Plenty is no dainty; ye see not your own ease.
I see, ye cannot see the wood for trees,
Your lips hang in your light; but this poor man sees
Both how blindly ye stand in your own light;
And that you rose on your right side here right;
And might have gone further and have faren worse.
I wot well I might, (quoth he), for the purse;
But ye be a baby of Belsabub's bower,
Content ye, (quoth she)! take the sweet with the sour;
Fancy may bolt bran and make ye take it flour.
It will not be, (quoth he), should I die this hour,
While this fair flower flourisheth thus in mine eye.
Yes, it might, (quoth she), and hear this reason why:
Snow is white
And heth in the dike.
And every man lets it lie.
Pepper is black,
And hath a good smack,
And every man doth it buy.
Milk, (q' he), is white,
And lieth not in the dike.
But all men know it good meat.
Ink is all black,
And hath an ill smack.
No man will it drink nor eat.
Thy rhyme, (quoth he), is much older than mine;
But mine, being newer, is truer than thine.
Thou likenest now, for a vain advantage,
White snow to fair youth, black pepper to foul age,
Which are placed out of place here, by rood!
Black ink is as ill meat, as black pepper is good;
And white milk as good meat, as white snow is ill
But a milk snow-white, smooth, young skin, who change will
For a pepper ink-black, rough, old withered face?
Though change be no robbery for the changed case,
Yet shall that change rob the changer of his wit.
For, who this case searcheth, shall soon see in it,
That as well agreeeth thy comparison in these,
As alike to compare in taste, chalk and cheese;
Or alike in colour to deem ink and chalk.
Walk, drab, walk! Nay, (quoth she), walk, knave, walk!
Sayeth that term. Howbeit, sir, I say not so;
And best we lay a straw here, and even there, ho!
Or else this gear will breed a pad in the straw;
If ye haul this way, I will another way draw.
Here is God in th'ambry (quoth I)! Quoth he, Nay!
Here is the devil in th'orologe, ye may say.
Since this, (quoth I), rather bringeth bale than boot,
Wrap it in the cloth, and tread it under foot.
Ye harp on the string that giveth no melody;
Your tongues run before your wits, by Saint Antony!
Mark ye, how she hitteth me on the thumbs, (quoth he);
And ye taunt me tit over thumb, (quoth she).
Since tit for tat, (quoth I), on even hand is set,
Set the hare's head against the goose giblet.
She is, (quoth he), bent to force you, perforce
To know that the grey mare is the better horse.
She choppeth logic, to put me to my clargy:
She hath one point of a good hawk; she is hardy.
But wife, the first point of hawking is hold fast.
And hold ye fast, I rede you, lest ye be cast
In your own turn. Nay, she will turn the leaf;
And rather, (quoth I), take as falleth in the sheaf
At your hands; and let fall her hold, than be too bold.
Nay, I will spit in my hands, and take better hold.
He, (quoth she), that will be angry without cause,
Must be at one, without amends; by sage saws.
Tread a worm on the tail, and it must turn again.
He taketh pepper in the nose, that I complain
Upon his faults, myself being faultless;
But that shall not stop my mouth, ye may well guess.
Well, (quoth I), too much of one thing is not good;
Leave off this! Be it! (quoth he), fall we to our food;
But sufferance is no quittance in this daiment.
No, (quoth she), nor misreckoning is no payment,
But even reckoning maketh long friends, my friend;
For alway own is own at the reckoning's end.
This reckoning thus reckoned, and dinner once done,
We three from them twain departed very soon.
--- Chapter V.
This old woman, the next day after this night,
Stale home to me, secretly as she might,
To talk with me; in secret counsel, (she said),
Of things which in no wise might be bewrayed.
We twain are one too many, (quoth I), for men say:
Three may a-keep counsel, if two be away.
But all that ye speak, unmeet again to tell,
I will say nought but mum, and mum is counsel.
Well then, (quoth she), herein avoiding all fears,
Avoid your children: small pitchers have wide ears.
Which done, (she said), I have a husband, ye know,
Whom I made of nought, as the thing self doth show.
And for these two causes only, him I took
First, that for my love, he should lovingly look
In all kind of cause, that love engender might
To love and cherish me by day and by night;
Secondly, the substance, which I to him brought,
He rather should augment, than bring to nought.
But now my good, shall both be spent, ye shall see,
And it in spending sole instrument shall be
Of my destruction, by spending it on such
As shall make him destroy me; I fear this much.
He maketh havoc, and setteth cock on the hoop.
He is so lavish, the stock beginneth to droop;
And as for gain is dead and laid in tomb,
When he should get aught, each finger is a thumb;
Each of his joints against other justles,
As handsomely as a bear picketh muscles.
Flattering knaves and Hearing queans being the mark,
Hang on his sleeve: many hands make light work.
He hath his hawks in the mew; but, make ye sure,
With empty hands men may no hawks allure.
There is a nest of chickens, which he doth brood,
That will sure make his hair grow through his hood.
They can curryfavel; and make fair weather
While they cut large thongs of other men's leather.
He maketh his marts with merchants likely
To bring a shilling to sixpence quickly.
If he hold on awhile as he begins,
We shall see him prove a merchant of eelskins
A merchant without either money or ware.
But all be bug's words, that I speak to spare.
Better spare at brim than at bottom, say I.
Ever spare and ever bare, (saith he), by and by.
Spend, and God shall send, (sayeth he), saith th' old ballet,
What sendeth he, (say I), a staff and a wallet?
Then up goeth his staff, to send me aloof;
He is at three words up in the house roof.
And herein to grow, (quoth she), to conclusion,
I pray your aid, to avoid this confusion;
And for counsel herein, I thought to have gone
To that cunning man, our curate, Sir John.
But this kept me back: I have heard, now and then,
The greatest clerks be not the wisest men.
I think, (quoth I), whoever that term began,
Was neither great clerk, nor the greatest wise man.
In your running from him to me, ye run
Out of God's blessing into the warm sun.
Where the blind leadeth the blind, both fail in the dike ;
And, blind be we both, if we think us his like.
Folk show much folly, when things should be sped,
To run to the foot that may go to the head.
Since he best can, and most ought, to do it,
I fear not, but he will, if ye will woo it.
There is one let, (quoth she), mo than I spake on:
My husband and he be so great, that the ton
Cannot piss but the tother must let a fart.
Choose we him aparty, then farewell my part;
We shall so part stake, that I shall lese the whole.
Folk say of old: the shoe will hold with the sole.
Shall I trust him, then? nay, intrust is treason.
But I trust you, and come to you this season
To hear me, and tell me, what way ye think best
To hem in my husband, and set me in rest.
If ye mind, (quoth I), a conquest to make
Over your husband, no man may undertake
To bring you to ease, nor the matter amend
Except ye bring him to wear a cock's comb at end.
For, take that your husband were, as ye take him,
As I take him not, as your tale would make him,
Yet were contention like to do nought in this
But keep him nought, and make him worse than he is.
But, in this complaint for .counsel quick and clear,
A few proverbs for principles, let us hear:
Who that may not as they would, will as they may;
And this to this: they that are bound must obey.
Folly it is to spurn against a prick;
To strive against the stream, to winch or kick
Against the hard wall. By this ye may see,
Being bound to obedience, as ye be,
And also overmatched, sufferance is your dance.
He may overmatch me, (quoth she), perchance
In strength of body, but my tongue is a limb
To match and to vex every vein of him.
Tongue breaketh bone, itself having none, (quoth I);
If the wind stand in that door, it standeth awry.
The peril of prating out of tune by note,
Telleth us that a good bestill is worth a groat;
In being your own foe, you spin a fair thread.
Advise ye well, for here doth all lie and bleed;
Flee th'attempting of extremities all.
Folk say: better sit still than rise and fall.
For little more or less no debate make;
At every dog's bark seem not to awake.
And where the small with the great cannot agree,
The weaker goeth to the pot, we all day see.
So that alway the bigger eateth the bean
Ye can nought win, by any wayward mean.
Where the hedge is lowest men may soonest over:
Be silent! let not your tongue run at rover;
Since by strife ye may lose, and cannot win,
Suffer! it is good sleeping in a whole skin.
If he chide, keep you bill under wing mute;
Chatting to chiding is not worth a chut.
We see many times, might overcometh right
Were not you as good then to say the crow is white?
And so, rather let fair words make fools fain,
Than be plain without pleats, and plant your own pain.
For, were ye as plain as Dunstable highway,
Yet should ye that way rather break a love day,
Than make one thus; though ye perfectly knew
All that ye conjecture to be proved true.
Yet better dissemble it, and shake it off,
Than to broid him with it in earnest or scoff.
If he play falsehed in fellowship, play ye
See me and see me not; the worst part to flee.
Why, think ye me so white-livered, (quoth she),
That I will be tongue-tied? Nay, I warrant ye
They that will be afraid of every fart
Must go far to piss. Well, (quoth I), your part
Is to suffer (I say); for ye shall preeve
Taunts appease not things; they rather agrieve.
But for ill company, or expense extreme,
I here no man doubt, so far as ye deem;
And there is no fire without some smoke, we see.
Well, well! make no fire, raise no smoke, (said she);
What cloak for the rain soever ye bring me,
Myself can tell best where my shoe doth wring me.
But as ye say: where fire is smoke will appear.
And so hath it done; for I did lately hear
How flek and his make use their secret haunting,
By one bird, that in mine ear was late chaunting
One swallow maketh not summer, (said I), men say.
I have, (quoth she), mo blocks in his way to lay,
For further increase of suspicion of ills:
Beside his jetting into the town to his gills,
With callets he consumeth himself and my goods;
Sometime in the fields, sometime in the woods,
Some hear and see him whom he heareth nor seeth not
But fields have eyes and woods have ears, ye wot;
And also on my maids he is ever tooting.
Can ye judge a man, (quoth I), by his looking?
What, a cat may look on a king, ye know!
My cat's leering look, (quoth she), at first show,
Showeth me that my cat goeth a catterwawing;
And specially by his manner of drawing
To Madge, my fair maid; for may he come nigh her
He must needs bass her, as he cometh by her.
He loveth well sheep's flesh, that wets his bread in the wool
If he leave it not, we have a crow to pull.
He loveth her better at the sole of the foot
Than ever he loved me at the heart root.
It is a foul bird that fileth his own nest;
I would have him live as God's law hath expressed,
And leave lewd ticking: he that will none ill do
Must do nothing that belongeth thereto;
To tick and laugh with me he hath lawful leave.
To that I said nought, but laughed in my sleeve;
But when she seemed to be fixed in mind,
Rather to seek for that she was loth to find,
Than leave that seeking, by which she might find ease,
I fained this fancy, to feel how it would please.
Will ye do well? (quoth I), take pain to watch him;
And if ye chance in advoutry to catch him,
Then have ye him on the hip, or on the hurdle;
Then have ye his head fast under your girdle;
Where your words now do but rub him on the gall,
That deed without words shall drive him to the wall.
And further than the wall he cannot go,
But must submit himself; and if it hap so
That at end of your watch he guiltless appear,
Then all grudge, grown by jealousy, taketh end clear.
Of all folks I may worst watch him, (said she);
For of all folks himself most watcheth me;
I shall as soon try him, or take him this way,
As drive a top over a tiled house: no, nay!
I may keep corners or hollow trees with th' owl,
This seven years, day and night to watch a bowl,
Before I shall catch him with undoubted evil.
He must have a long spoon shall eat with the devil;
And the devil is no falser than is he.
I have heard tell, if had need to be
A wily mouse that should breed in the cat's ear;
Shall I get within him then? nay, ware that gear!
It is hard halting before a cripple, ye wot;
A falser water drinker there liveth not.
When he hunteth a doe that he cannot avow,
All dogs bark not at him, I warrant yow.
Namely not I, I say, though as I said,
He sometime, though seldom, by some be bewrayed,
Close hunting, (quoth I), the good hunter alloweth;
But, be your husband never so still of mouth,
If ye can hunt, and will stand at receipt,
Your maid examined, maketh him open straight.
That were, (quoth she), as of my truth to make preef,
To axe my fellow whether I be a thief.
They cleave together like burrs; that way I shall
Pike out no more than out of the stone wall.
Then like" ye not to watch him for wife nor maid?
No! (quoth she). Nor I, (quoth I), whatever I said;
And I mislike not only your watch in vain,
But also, if ye took him, what could ye gain?
From suspicion to knowledge of ill, forsooth!
Could make ye do but as the flounder doeth
Leap out of the frying pan into the fire;
And change from ill pain to worse is worth small hire.
Let time try! Time trieth truth in every doubt;
And deem the best till time hath tried the truth out.
And reason sayeth: make not two sorrows of one;
But ye make ten sorrows where reason maketh none.
For where reason, (as I said), willeth you to wink
(Although all were proved as ill as ye think),
Contrary to reason ye stamp and ye stare;
Ye fret and ye fume, as mad as a March hare,
Without proof to his reproof, present or past,
But by such report as most prove lies at last.
And here goeth the hare away; for ye judge all,
And judge the worst in all, ere proof in ought fall.
But blind men should judge no colours: by old saws;
And folk ofttimes are most blind in their own cause
The blind eat many flies. Howbeit, the fancy
Of your blindness cometh not of ignorancy.
Ye could tell another herein the best way;
But it is as folk do, and not as folk say;
For they say, saying and doing are two things
To defend danger that double dealing brings:
As ye can seem wise in words, be wise in deed.
That is, (quoth she), sooner said than done, I drede;
But methinketh your counsel weigheth in the whole
To make me put my finger in a hole;
And so, by sufferance, to be so lither
In my house to lay fire and tow together.
But if they fire me, some of them shall win
More tow on their distaves than they can well spin;
And the best of them shall have both their hands full
Bolster or pillow for me, be whose wull.
I will not bear the devil's sack, by Saint Audry!
For concealing suspicion of their baudry.
I fear false measures, or else I were a child;
For they that think none ill, are soonest beguiled.
And thus, though much water goeth by the mill
That the miller knoweth not of, yet I will
Cast what may scape; and, as though I did find it,
With the clack of my mill to fine meal grind it.
And sure ere I take any rest in effect,
I must banish my maids such as I suspect:
Better it be done than wish it had been done.
As good undone, (quoth I), as do it too soon.
Well, (quoth she), till soon, fare ye well! and this
Keep ye as secret as ye think meet is.
Out at doors went she herewith; and hereupon
In at doors came he forthwith, as she was gone;
And, without any temperate protestation,
Thus he began, in way of exclamation.
--- Chapter VI.
Oh! what choice may compare to the devil's life
Like his that have chosen a devil to his wife?
Namely, such an old witch, such a mackabroine,
As evermore like a hog hangeth the groyne
On her husband, except he be her slave,
And follow all fancies that she would have.
'Tis said: there is no good accord
Where every man would be a lord.
Wherefore, my wife will be no lord, but lady,
To make me, that should be her lord, a baby.
Before I was wedded, and since, I made reckoning
To make my wife bow at every beckoning.
Bachelors boast how they will teach their wives good;
But many a man speaketh of Robin Hood
That never shot in his bow. When all is sought,
Bachelors' wives, and maids' children be well taught.
And this with this, I also begin to gather:
Every man can rule a shrew, save he that hath her.
At my will I weened she should have wrought like wax;
But I find and feel she hath found such knacks
In her bouget, and such toys in her head,
That to dance after her pipe I am nigh led.
It is said of old: an old dog biteth sore;
But, by God! th' old bitch biteth sorer and more;
And not with teeth (she hath none) but with her tongue.
If all tales be true, (quoth I), though she be stung,
And thereby sting you, she is not much to blame;
For, whatever you say, thus goeth the same.
When folk first saw your substance laid in your lap,
Without your pain, with your wife brought by good hap,
Oft in remembrance of haps happy device
They would say: better to be happy than wise;
Not minding thereby then to deprave your wit,
For they had good hope to see good proof of it.
But since their good opinion therein so cools,
That they say as oft: God sendeth fortune to fools;
In that, as fortune without your wit gave it,
So can your wit not keep it when ye have it.
Sayeth one: this gear was gotten on a holy day;
Sayeth another: who may hold that will away.
This game, from beginning, showeth what end is meant:
Soon gotten, soon spent; ill gotten, ill spent.
Ye are called not only too great a spender,
Too frank a giver, and as free a lender;
But also, ye spend, give, and lend, among such
Whose lightness minisheth your honesty as much
As your money; and much they disallow
That ye brike all from her, that brought all to yow;
And spend it out at doors, in spite of her,
Because ye would kill her to be quit of her.
For all kindness, of her part, that may rise,
Ye show all th' unkindness ye can devise.
And where reason and custom, (they say), affords
Alway to let the losers have their words,
Ye make her a cuckquean and consume her good;
And she must sit like a bean in a monk's hood.
Bearing no more rule than a goose turd in Thames;
But, at her own maids' becks, wings, or hems,
She must obey those lambs, or else a lambskin
Ye will provide for her, to lap her in.
This biteth the mare by the thumb, as they say;
For were ye, touching condition, (say they),
The castle of honesty in all things else,
Yet should this one thing, as their whole tale tells,
Defile and deface that castle to a cottage
One crop of a turd marreth a pot of potage.
And some to this cry, Let him pass, for we think
The more we stir a turd, the worse it will stink.
With many conditions good, one that is ill
Defaoeth the flower of all, and doth all spoil.
Now, (quoth I), if you think they truly clatter,
Let your amendment amend the matter:
Half warned, half armed. This warning for this I show,
He that hath an ill name is half hanged, ye know.
--- Chapter VII.
Well said! (said he). Marry, sir! here is a tale
For honesty, meet to set the devil on sale.
But now am I forced a bead roll to unfold,
To tell somewhat more to the tale I erst told.
Grow this, as most part doth, I durst hold my life,
Of the jealousy of dame Julok, my wife,
Then shall ye wonder, when truth doth define,
How she can, and doth here both bite and whine.
Frenzy, heresy, and jealousy are three,
That men say hardly, or never, cured be.
And although jealousy need not or boot not,
What helpeth that counsel, if reason root not?
And in mad jealousy she is so far gone
She thinketh I run over all that I look on.
Take good heed of that, (quoth I), for at a word,
The proverb saith: he that striketh with the sword
Shall be stricken with the scabbard. Tush! (quoth he),
The devil with my scabbard will not strike me;
But, my dame taking suspicion for full prefe,
Reporteth it for a truth to the most mischief.
In words gold and whole, as men by wit could wish,
She will lie as fast as a dog will lick a dish.
She is, of ixuth, as false as God is true;
And, if she chance to see me, at a view,
Kiss any ol my maids alone, but in sport,
That taketh she in earnest, after Bedlam sort.
The cow is wood; her tongue runneth on pattens;
If it be morn, we have a pair of matins;
If it be even, evensong", not Latin nor Greek,
But English, and like that as in Easter week.
She beginneth, first with a cry a leison;
To which she ringeth a peal, a larum; such one
As folk ring bees with basins the world runneth on wheels.
But except her maid show a fair pair of heels,
She haleth her by the boy rope, till her brains ache.
And bring I home a good dish, good cheer to make
What is this? (saith she). Good meat, (say I), for yow!
God have mercy, horse! a pig of mine own sow!
Thus when I see by kindness ease reneweth not,
And then, that the eye seeth not, the heart reweth not;
And that he must needs go whom the devil doth drive;
Her force forcing me, for mine ease to contrive
To let her fast and fret alone for me,
I go where merry chat and good cheer may be.
Much spend I abroad, which at home should be spent
If she would leave controlling and be content.
There leaped a whiting, (quoth she), and leaped in straight;
Take a hair from his beard, and mark this conceit.
He maketh you believe, by lies laid on by load,
My brawling at home maketh him banquet abroad.
Where his banquets abroad make me brawl at home.
For, as in a frost, a mud wall made of loam
Cracketh and crummeth in pieces asunder,
So melteth his money, to the world's wonder.
Thus may ye see, to turn the cat in the pan,
Or set the cart before the horse, well he can;
He is but little at home, the truth is so;
And, forth with him, he will not let me go;
And if I come to be merry where he is,
Then is he mad, as ye shall hear by this.
Where he, with gossips at a banquet late was,
At which, as use is, he paid all but let pass!
I came to be merry; wherewith merrily:
Proface! Have among you blind harpers, (said I)-
The mo the merrier, we all day hear and see.
Yea, but the fewer the better fare, (said he).
Then here were, ere I came, (quoth I), too many;
Here is but little meat left, if there be any.
And it is ill coming, I have heard say,
To th' end of a shot and beginning of a fray.
Put up thy purse, (quoth he), thou shalt none pay;
And fray here should be none were thou gone thy way.
Here is, since thou earnest, too many feet a-bed;
Welcome! when thou goest: thus is thine errand sped.
I come, (quoth I), to be one here, if I shall
It is merry in hall when beards wag all.
What, bid me welcome, pig? I pray thee kiss me!
Nay, farewell, sow! (quoth he), our Lord bliss me
From bassing of beasts of Bearbinder Lane.
I have, (quoth I), for fine sugar, fair rat's-bane.
Many years since, my mother said to me,
Her elders would say: it is better to be
An old man's darling than a young man's warling.
And God knoweth! I knew none of this snarling
In my old husband's days; for, as tenderly
He loved me as ye love me slenderly;
We drew both in one line. Quoth he, would to our lord
Ye had, in that drawing, hanged both in one cord.
For I never meet thee at flesh, nor at fish,
But I have sure a dead man's head in my dish;
Whose best and my worst day, that wish might be,
Was when thou didst bury him and marry me.
If you, (quoth I), long for change in those cases,
Would to God he and you had changed places!
But best I change place, for here I may be spared,
And for my kind coming, this is my reward.
Claw a churl by th' arse, and he shittcth in my hand;
Knack me that nut, much good doyt you all this band.
Must she not, (quoth he), be welcome to us all,
Among us all, letting such a farewell fall?
Such carpenters, such chips, (quoth she); folk tell;
Such lips, such lettuce; such welcome, such farewell.
Thine own words, (quoth he), thine own welcome marr'd.
Well, (said she), whensoever we twain have jarr'd,
My words be pried at narrowly, I espy.
Ye can see a mote in another man's eye,
But ye cannot see a balk in your own.
Yea, mark my words, but not that they be grown
By your revellous riding on every royle;
Well nigh every day a new mare or a moyle,
As much unhonest, as unprofitable,
Which shall bring us shortly to be unable
To give a dog a loaf, as I have oft said.
Howbeit, your pleasure may no time be denied,
But still you must have both the finest meat,
Apparel, and all thing that money may geat;
Like one of fond fancy so fine and so neat
That would have better bread than is made of wheat.
The best is best cheap, (quoth he), men say clear.
Well, (quoth she), a man may buy gold too dear;
Ye nother care, nor wellnigh cast what ye pay,
To buy the dearest for the best alway.
Then for your diet who useth feeding such,
Eat more than enough, and drink much more too much.
But temperance teacheth this, where he keepeth school:
He that knoweth when he hath enough is no fool.
Feed by measure, and defy the physician;
And, in the contrary, mark this condition:
A swine over fat is cause of his own bane;
Who seeth nought herein, his wit is in the wane.
But pompous provision, cometh not all, alway
Of gluttony, but of pride sometime, some say.
But this proverb preacheth to men haut or high:
Hew not too high lest the chips fall in thine eye.
Measure is a merry mean, as this doth show:
Not too high for the pye, nor too low for the crow.
The difference between staring and stark blind
The wise man at all times to follow can find;
And i-wis an auditor of a mean wit,
May soon accompt, though hereafter come not yit;
Yet is he sure, be the day never so long,
Evermore at last they ring to evensong.
And where ye spend much though ye spent but lickle,
Yet little and little the cat eateth the flickle;
Little loss by length may grow importable;
A mouse in time may bite a-two a cable.
Thus, to end of all things, be we lief or loth,
Yet lo, the pot so long to the water goeth,
Till at the last it cometh home broken;
Few words to the wise suffice to be spoken.
If ye were wise, here were enough, (quoth she).
Here is enough, and too much, dame, (quoth he);
For, though this appear a proper pulpit piece,
Yet when the fox preacheth then beware your geese.
A good tale ill told, in the telling is marred.
So are, (quoth she), good tales well told, and ill heard.
Thy tales, (quoth he), show long hair, and short wit, wife:
But long be thy legs, and short be thy life.
Pray for yourself! I am not sick, (quoth she).
Well let's see, what thy last tale cometh to, (quoth he):
Thou sayest I spend all; to this, thy words wander;
But, as deep drinketh the goose as the gander.
Thou canst cough in the aumbry, if need be,
When I shall cough without bread or broth for thee.
Whereby, while thou sendest me abroad to spend,
Thou gossipest at home to meet me at land's end.
Ah! then I beguile you, (quoth she), this ye mean
But sir! my pot is whole, and my water clean.
Well, thou wouldsthave me, (quoth he), pinch like a snudge,
Every day to be thy drivel and drudge.
Not so, (quoth she), but I would have ye stir
Honestly; to keep the wolf from the dur.
I would drive the wolf out at door first, (quoth he);
And that can I not do, till I drive out thee.
A man were better be drowned in Venice gulf
Than have such a bearded bear, or such a wolf!
But had I not been witched, my wedding to flee,
The terms that long to wedding had warned me.
First, wooing for woeing; banna for banning;
The banns for my bane; and then this, thus scanning
Marrying marring. And what married I than?
A woman! As who saith, woe to the man!
Thus wed I with woe, wed I Jill, wed I Jane
I pray God, the devil go with thee down the lane!
I grant, (quoth she), this doth sound, (as ye agreed),
On your side in words, but on my side in deed.
Thou grant'st this grant, (quoth he), without any grace;
Ungraciously, to thy side, to turn this case.
Leave this, (quoth she), and learn liberality
To stint strife, grown by your prodigality.
Oft said the wise man, whom I erst did bury:
Better are meals many than one too merry.
Well, (quoth he), that is answered with this, wife:
Better is one month's cheer than a churl's whole life.
I think it learning of a wiser lectour,
To learn to make myself mine own exectour,
Than spare for another that might wed thee,
As the fool, thy first husband, spared for me.
And as for ill places, thou seekest me in mo,
And in worse too, than I into any go.
Whereby this proverb showeth thee in by the week:
No man will another in the oven seek
Except that himself have been there before.
God give grace thou hast been good! I say no more;
And would have thee say less except thou couldst prove
Such process as thou slanderously dost move.
For slander, perchance, (quoth she), I not deny
It may be a slander, but it is no lie.
It is a lie, (quoth he), and thou a liar!
Will ye, (quoth she), drive me to touch ye nigher?
I rub the galled horse back till he winch; and yit
He would make it seem that I touch him no whit.
But I wot what I wot, though I few words make:
Many kiss the child for the nurse's sake.
Ye have many good children to look upon,
And ye bless them all, but ye bass but one.
This half showeth, what the whole meaneth, that I meve,
Ye fet circumquaques to make me believe,
Or think, that the moon is made of a green cheese.
And when ye have made me a lout in all these,
It seemeth ye would make me go to bed at noon.
Nay, (quoth he), the day of doom shall be done
Ere thou go to bed at noon, or night, for me.
Thou art, to be plain, and not to flatter thee,
As wholesome a morsel for my comely corse
As a shoulder of mutton for a sick horse.
The devil with his dam hath more rest in hell
Than I have here with thee; but well, wife, well!
Well, well! (quoth she), many wells, many
Yea! (quoth he), and many words, many buffets.
Had you some husband, and snapped at him thus,
Iwys he would give you a recumbentibus.
A dog will bark ere he bite, and so thou
After thy barking wilt bite me, I trow now;
But it is hard to make an old dog stoop, lo!
Sir, (quoth she), a man may handle his dog so
That he may make him bite him, though he would not.
Husbands are in heaven, (quoth he), whose wives scold not;
Thou makest me claw where it itcheth not. I would
Thy tongue were cooled to make thy tales more cold;
That aspen leaf, such spiteful clapping have bred,
That my cap is better at ease than my head.
God send that head, (said she), a better nurse!
For when the head acheth all the body is the worse.
God grant, (quoth I), the head and body, both two,
To nurse each other better than they do:
Or ever have done for the most times past.
I brought to nurse both, (quoth she), had it not been waste.
Margery, good cow, (quoth he), gave a good meal;
But then she cast it down again with her heel.
How can her purse for profit be delightful
Whose person and properties be thus spiteful?
A piece of a kid is worth two of a cat
Who the devil will change a rabbit for a rat?
If I might change, I would rather choose to beg,
Or sit with a roasted apple or an egg
Where mine appetite serveth me to be,
Than every day to fare like a duke with thee!
Like a duke? like a duck! (quoth she), thou shalt fare,
Except thou wilt spare, more than thou dost yet spare.
Thou farest too well, (quoth he), but thou art so wood,
Thou knowest not who doth thee harm, who doth thee good.
Yes, yes! (quoth she), for all those wise words uttered,
I know on which side my bread is buttered;
But there will no butter cleave on my bread,
And on my bread any butter to be spread;
Every promise that thou therein dost utter,
Is as sure as it were sealed with butter,
Or a mouse tied with a thread. Every good thing
Thou lettest even slip, like a waghalter slipstring.
But take up in time, or else I protest,
All be not a-bed that shall have ill rest.
Now, go to thy darlings, and declare thy grief,
Where all thy pleasure is: hop whore, pipe thief!
--- Chapter VIII.
With this, thence hopped she; wherewith, O Lord! he cried,
What wretch but I this wretchedness could bide?
Howbeit, in all this woe, I have no wrong;
For it only is all on myself along.
Where I should have bridled her first with rough bit,
To have made her chew on the bridle one fit,
For lickorous lucre of a little winning,
I gave her the bridle at beginning;
And now she taketh the bridle in the teeth,
And runneth away with it; whereby each man seeth
It is, (as old men right well understand),
Ill putting a naked sword in a madman's hand.
She taketh such heart of grace that though I maim her,
Or kill her, yet shall I never reclaim her.
She hath, (they say), been s'iff-necked evermore;
And it is ill healing of an old sore.
This proverb prophesied many years agone:
It will not out of the flesh that is bred in the bone.
What chance have I, to have a wife of such sort
That will no fault amend, in earnest nor sport?
A small thing amiss lately I did espy,
Which to make her mend, by a jest merrily,
I said but this: taunt tivet, wife, your nose drops;
So it may fall, I will eat no browesse sops
This day. But two days after this came in ure,
I had sorrow to my sops enough, be sure!
Well! (quoth I), it is ill jesting on the sooth;
Sooth bourd is no bourd, in ought that mirth doeth.
Such jests could not juggle her, were ought amiss,
Nor turn melancholy to mirth; for it is
No playing with a straw before an old cat.
Every trifling toy age cannot laugh at;
Ye may walk this way, but sure ye shall find
The further ye go, the further behind.
Ye should consider the woman is old:
And what for? a hot word? soon hot, soon cold!
Bear with them that bear with you, and she is scanned
Not only the fairest flower in your garland,
But also she is all the fair flowers thereof:
Will ye requite her then with a taunting scoff?
Or with any other kind of unkindness?
Take heed is a fair thing: beware this blindness!
Why will ye, (quoth he), I shall follow her will?
To make me John Drawlatch, or'such a sneakbill?
To bring her solace that bringeth me sorrow?
By'rlady! then we shall catch birds to-morrow:
A good wife maketh a good husband, (they say).
That, (quoth I), ye may turn another way:
To make a good husband, make a good wife;
I can no more herein, but God stint all strife!
Amen! (quoth he), and God have mercy, brother!
I will now mend this house and pair another.
And that he meant, of likelihood, by his own;
For, so apaired he that, ere three years were grown,
That little and little he decayed so long,
Till he at length came to buckle and bare thong.
To discharge charge, that necessarily grew,
There was no more water than the ship drew.
Such drifts drave he, from ill to worse and worse
Till he was as bare as a bird's arse.
Money, and money worth, did so miss him,
That he had not now one penny to bliss him;
Which, foreseen in this woman, wisely weighing:
That meet was to stay somewhat for her staying,-
To keep yet one mess for Alison in store,
She kept one bag that he had not seen before:
A poor cook that may not lick his own fingers.
But about her at home now still he lingers,
Not checker a-boord, all was not clear in the coast,
He looked like one that had beshit the roast.
But whether any secret tales were sprinkling,
Or that he by guess had got an inkling
Of her hoard; or that he thought to amend,
And turn his ill beginning to a good end
In showing himself a new man, as was fit,
That appeared shortly after, but not yet.
--- Chapter IX.
One day in their arbour which stood so to mine,
That I might, and did, closely mine ear incline,
And likewise cast mine eye, to hear and see
What they said and did, where they could not see me
He unto her a goodly tale began,
More like a wooer than a wedded man.
As ferre as matter thereof therein served
But the first part from words of wooing swerved,
And stood upon repentance, with submission
Of his former crooked unkind condition;
Praying her to forgive and forget all, free
And he forgave her as he forgiven would be ;
Loving her now, as he full deeply swore,
As hotly as ever he loved her before.
Well, well! (quoth she), whatever ye now say,
It is too late to call again yesterday.
Wife! (quoth he), such may my diligence seem
That th'offence of yesterday I may redeem;
God taketh me as I am, and not as I was
Take you me so too, and let all things past pass.
I pray thee, good wife! think I speak and think plain:
What! he runneth far that never turneth again.
Ye be young enough to mend, I agree it;
But I am, (quoth she), too old to see it;
And amend ye or not, I am too old a year.
What is life where living is extinct clear?
Namely at old years of least help and most need;
But no tale could tune you in time to take heed.
If I tune myself now, (quoth he), it is fair;
And hope of true tune shall tune me from despair,
Believe well, and have well, men say; yea, (said she);
Do well, and have well, men say also, we see.
But what man can believe, that man can do well
Who of no man will counsel take, or hear tell?
Which to you, when any man any way tried,
Then were ye deaf: ye could not hear on that side.
Whoever with you any time therein wears,
He must both tell you a tale, and find you ears.
You had on your harvest ears, thick of hearing;
But this is a question of old inquiring:
Who is so deaf, or so blind, as is he
That wilfully will nother hear nor see?
When I saw your manner, my heart for woe molt;
Then would ye mend as the fletcher mends his bolt:
Or as sour ale mendeth in summer: I know,
And knew, which way the wind blew, and will blow.
Though not to my profit, a prophet was I:
I prophesied this, too true a prophecy.
When I was right ill believed, and worse hard,
By flinging from your folks at home, which all marred,
When I said in semblance either cold or warm:
A man far from his good is nigh his harm.
Or willed ye to look, that ye lost no more,
On such as show that hungry flies bite sore,
Then would ye look over me, with stomach swollen,
Like as the devil looked over Lincoln,
The devil is dead, wife, (quoth he), for ye see
I look like a lamb in all your words to me.
Look as ye list now, (quoth she), thus looked ye than;
And for those looks I show this, to show each man,
Such proof of this proverb, as none is greater,
Which saith, that some man may steal a horse better
Than some other may stand and look upon.
Lewd huswives might have words, but I not one
That might be allowed. But now if ye look,
In mistaking me, ye may see, ye took
The wrong way to wood, and the wrong sow by th'ear;
And thereby in the wrong box to thrive, ye were.
I have heard some, to some tell this tale not seeld:
When thrift is in the town, ye be in the field;
But contrary, you made that sense to sown,
When thrift was in the field, ye were in the town.
Field ware might sink or swim while ye had any;
Town ware was your ware to turn the penny.
But town or field, where most thrift did appear,
What ye won in the hundred ye lost in the shire
In all your good husbandry thus rid the rock.
Ye stumbled at a straw, and leapt over a block.
So many kinds of increase you had in choice,
And nought increase nor keep, how can I rejoice?
Good riding at two anchors men have told,
For if the tone fail, the tother may hold.
But you leave all anchor hold, on seas or lands,
And so set up shop upon Goodwin's sands.
But as folk have a saying, both old and true,
In that they say: black will take none other hue;
So may I say here, to my deep dolour,
It is a bad cloth that will take no colour.
This case is yours; for ye were never so wise
To take speck of colour of good advice.
Th'advice of all friends I say, one and other
Went in at the tone ear, and out at the tother.
And as those words went out, this proverb in came:
He that will not be ruled by his own dame
Shall be ruled by his stepdame; and so you,
Having lost your own good, and own friends now,
May seek your foreign friends, if you have any.
And sure one of my great griefs, among many,
Is that ye have been so very a hog
To my friends. What, man? love me, love my dog!
But you, to cast precious stones before hogs,
Cast my good before a sort of cur dogs
And salt bitches; which by whom now devoured,
And your honesty among them deflowered,
And that you may no more expense afford,
Now can they not afford you one good word,
And you them as few. And old folk understood:
When thieves fall out true men come to their good.
Which is not alway true; for, in all that bretch,
I can no farthing of my good the more fetch;
Nor, I trow, themselves neither, if they were sworn;
Light come, light go! And sure, since we were born,
Ruin of one ravine was there none greater;
For, by your gifts, they be as little the better
As you be much the worse, and I cast away
An ill wind that bloweth no man to good, men say.
Well, (quoth he), every wind bloweth not down the corn.
I hope, (I say), good hap be not all outworn.
I will now begin thrift, when thrift seemeth gone
What, wife! there be mo ways to the wood than one;
And I will assay all the ways to the wood
Till I find one way to get again this good.
Ye will get it again, (quoth she), I fear,
As shortly as a horse will lick his ear.
The Dutchman sayeth, that segging is good cope;
Good words bring not ever of good deeds good hope;
And these words show your words spoken in scorn
It pricketh betimes that will be a good thorn;
Timely crooketh the tree, that will a good cammock be.
And, such beginning such end, we all day see;
And you, by me at beginning being thriven,
And then to keep thrift could not be pricked nor driven
How can ye now get thrift, the stock being gone?
Which is th'only thing to rise thrift upon.
Men say: he may ill run that cannot go,
And your gain, without your stock, runneth even so.
For, what is a workman without his tools?
Tales of Robin Hood are good among fools.
He can ill pipe that lacketh his upper lip;
Who lacketh a stock, his gain is not worth a chip.
A tale of a tub, your tale no truth avoweth;
Ye speak now as ye would creep into my mouth;
In pure painted process as false as fair
How ye will amend when ye cannot appair?
But against gay glossers this rude text recites:
It is not all butter that the cow shites.
I heard once a wise man say to his daughter:
Better is the last smile than the first laughter.
We shall, I trust, (quoth he), laugh again at last,
Although I be once out of the saddle cast;
Yet, since I am bent to sit, this will I do:
Recover the horse or lese the saddle too.
Ye never could yet, (quoth she), recover any hap,
To win or save ought, to stop any one gap.
For stopping of gaps, (quoth he), care not a rush,
I will learn to stop two gaps with one bush.
Ye will, (quoth she), as soon stop gaps with rushes
As with any husbandly handsome bushes.
Your tales have like taste, where temperance is taster,
To break my head, and then give me a plaster.
Now thrift is gone, now would ye thrive in all haste;
And when ye had thrift, ye had like haste to waste.
Ye liked then better an inch of your will
Than an ell of your thrift. Wife (quoth he), be still,
May I be holp forth an inch at a pinch,
I will yet thrive, (I say): As good is an inch
As an ell. Ye can, (quoth she), make it so well;
For when I gave you an inch, ye took an ell.
Till both ell and inch be gone, and we in debt.
Nay, (quoth he), with a wet finger ye can fet
As much as may easily all this matter ease;
And this debate also pleasantly appease,
I could do as much with an hundred pound now,
As with a thousand afore, I assure you.
Yea, (quoth she), who had that he hath not would
Do that he doeth not, as old men have told.
Had I, as ye have, I would do more, (quoth he),
Than the priest spake of on Sunday, ye should see.
Ye do, as I have, (quoth she); for nought I have
And nought ye do. What, man! I trow ye rave:
Would ye both eat your cake and have your cake?
Ye have had of me all that I might make;
And, be a man never so greedy to win,
He can have no more of the fox but the skin.
Well! (quoth he), if ye list to bring it out,
Ye can give me your blessing in a clout.
That were for my child, (quoth she), had I ony;
But husband! I have neither child, nor money.
Ye cast and conjecture this much, like in show,
As the blind man casts his staff, or shoots the crow.
Howbeit, had I money right much, and ye none,
Yet to be plain, ye should have none for Joan.
Nay, he that first flattereth me, as ye have done,
And doth as ye did to me after, so soon,
He may be in my Pater noster indeed;
But be sure, he shall never come in my Creed.
Ave Maria! (quoth he), how much motion
Here is to prayers, with how little devotion;
But some men say: no penny no Pater noster!
I say to such (said she): no longer foster,
No longer lemman. But fare and well then,
Pray and shift each one for himself, as he can:
Every man for himself, and God for us all.
To those words he said nought; but, forthwith did fall
From harping on that string to fair flattering speech.
And, as I erst said, he did her so beseech,
That things erst so far off were now so far on,
That as she may wallow, away she is gone
Where all that was left lay with a trusty friend,
Dwelling a good walk from her at the town's end.
And back again straight a halting pace she hobbles,
Bringing a bag of royals and nobles;
All that she had, without restraint of one jot
She brought bullock's noble, for noble or groat
Had she not one mo: which I after well knew.
And anon smiling, toward him as she drew,
Ah, sir! light burden far heavy (quoth she);
This light burden in long walk well-nigh trieth me.
God give grace I play not the fool this, day;
For here I send th'axe after the helve away.
But if ye will stint and avoid all strife,
Love and cherish this as ye would my life.
I will, (quoth he), wife, by God Almighty!
This gear cometh even in pudding time rightly.
He snatched at the bag. No haste but good, (quoth she);
Short shooting leseth your game, ye may see.
Ye missed the cushion, for all your haste to it,
And I may set you beside the cushion yit,
And make you wipe your nose upon your sleeve
For ought ye shall win without ye axe me leave.
Have ye not heard tell, all covet, all lose?
Ah, sir! I see ye may see no green cheese
But your teeth must water a good cockney coke!
Though ye love not to buy the pig in the poke.
Yet snatch ye at the poke, that the pig is in,
Not for the poke, but the pig good cheap to win.
Like one half lost, till greedy grasping gat it,
Ye would be over the stile ere ye come at it.
But abide, friend! your mother bid till ye were born:
Snatching winneth it not, if ye snatch till to morn.
Men say, (said he), long standing and small offering
Maketh poor persons; and, in such signs and proffering
Many pretty tales and merry toys had they,
Before this bag came fully from her away.
Kindly he kissed her, with words not tart nor tough:
But the cat knoweth whose lips she licketh well enough.
Anon, the bag she delivered him, and said
He should bear it, for that it now heavy weighed.
With good will, wife! for it is, (said he to her),
A proud horse that will not bear his own provender.
And oft before seemed she never so wise,
Yet was she now, suddenly waxen as nice
As it had been a halporih of silver spoons.
Thus cloudy mornings turn to clear afternoons ;
But so nigh noon it was, that by and by,
They rose, and went to dinner lovingly.
--- Chapter X.
This dinner thought he long, and straight after thet
To his accustomed customers he gat;
With whom, in what time he spent one groat before,
In less time he spent now ten groats or more;
And in small time he brought the world so about
That he brought the bottom of the bag clean out.
His gadding thus again made her ill content;
But she not so much as dreamed that all was spent.
Howbeit, suddenly, she minded on a day
To pick the chest lock, wherein this bag lay;
Determining this: if it lay whole still,
So shall it lie no mite she minish will;
And, if the bag began to shrink, she thought best
To take for her part some part of the rest.
But straight as she had forthwith opened the lock,
And looked in the bag what it was a clock,
Then was it proved true, as this proverb goeth:
He that cometh last to the pot is soonest wroth.
By her coming last, and too late to the pot,
Whereby she was potted thus like a sot
To see the pot both skimmed for running over,
And also all the liquor run at rover.
At her good husband's and her next meeting,
The devil's good grace might have given a greeting,
Either for honour or honesty, as good
As she gave him: she was, (as they say), horn wood;
In no place could she sit herself to settle,
It seemed to him she had pissed on a nettle.
She nettled him, and he rattled her so,
That at end of that fray asunder they go;
And never after came together again
He turned her out at doors to graze on the plain,
And himself went after; for, within fortnight,
All that was left was launched out quite.
And thus had he brought haddock to paddock,
Till they both were not worth a haddock.
It hath been said: need maketh the old wife trot
Other folk said it, but she did it, God wot!
First from friend to friend, and then from dur to dur,
A-begging of some that had begged of her.
But as men say: misery may be mother
Where one beggar is driven to beg of another.
And thus wore and wasted this most woeful wretch,
Till death from this life did her wretchedly fetch.
Her late husband, and now widower, here and there
Wandering about, few know and fewer care where;
Cast out as an abject, he leadeth his life
Till famine belike fet him after his wife.
Now let us note here: First, of the first twain,
Where they both wedded, together to remain,
Hoping joyful presence should wear out all woe:
Yet poverty brought that joy to joy-fail, lo!
But, notably note these last twain: whereas he
Took her only for that he rich would be,
And she him only in hope of good hap
In her doting days to be danced on the lap.
In condition they differed so many ways,
That lightly he laid her up for holy days;
Her good he laid up so, lest thieves might spy it,
That nother she could, nor he can, come by it.
Thus failed all four, of all things less and more,
Which they all, or any of all, married for.
--- Chapter XI.
Forsooth! said my friend, this matter maketh boast
Of diminution. For, here is a mill post
Thwitten to a pudding prick so nearly,
That I confess me discouraged clearly.
In both my weddings, in all things, except one,
This spark of hope have I, to proceed upon:
Though these and some other speed ill as ye tell,
Yet other have lived and loved full well.
If I should deny that, (quoth I), I should rave;
For, of both these sorts, I grant, that myself have
Seen of the tone sort, and heard of the tother.
That liked and lived right well, each with other.
But whether fortune will you that man declare,
That shall choose in this choice, your comfort or care,
Since, before ye have chosen, we cannot know,
I thought to lay the worst, as ye the best show,
That ye might, being yet at liberty,
With all your joy, join all your jeopardy.
And now, in this heard, in these cases on each part,
I say no more, but lay your hand on your heart.
I heartily thank you, (quoth he); I am sped
Of mine errand: this hitteth the nail on the head.
Who that leaveth surety and leaneth unto chance,
When fools pipe, by authority he may dance.
And sure am I, of those twain, if I none choose,
Although I nought win, yet shall I nought lose.
And to win a woman here, and lose a man,
In all this great winning what gain win I than?
But, mark how folly hath me away carried;
How, like a weathercock, I have here varied:
First, these two women to lose I was so loth,
That if I might, I would have wedded them both;
Then thought I since, to have wedded one of them;
And, now know I clear, I will wed none of them.
They both shall have this one answer by letter:
As good never a whit as never the better.
Now let me ask, (quoth I), and yourself answer
The short question that I asked while're.
A foul, old, rich widow, whether wed would ye,
Or a young, fair maid, being poor as ye be?
In neither barrel better herring, (quoth he).
I like thus richesse as ill as poverty;
Who that hath either of these pigs in ure,
He hath a pig of the worse pannier sure.
I was wedded unto my will; howbeit,
I will be devorst, and be wed to my wit;
Whereby, with these examples past, I may see
Fond wedding, for love, as good only to flee.
Only for love, or only for good,
Or only for both I wed not, by my hood!
Thus, no one thing only, though one thing chiefly
Shall woo me to wed now: for now I espy,
Although the chief one think in wedding be love,
Yet must mo things join, as all in one may move
Such kind of living, for such kind of life,
As lacking the same, no lack to lack a wife.
Here is enough, I am satisfied, (said he).
Since enough is enough, (said I), here may we,
With that one word take end good, as may be guessed
For folk say: enough is as good as a feast.