Poems » gilbert white » the shipman s tale in the hengwrt manuscript of the canterbury tales


{{Folio 204r}}

¶Here bigynneth the Shipmannes tale

 A Marchant whilom / dwelled at Seint Denys
 That riche was / for which men helde hym wys
 A wyf he hadde / of excellent beautee
 And compaignable / and reuelous was she
 Which is a thyng/ that cau{s}eth moore di{s}pence
 Than worth / is al the cheere and reuerence
 That men hem doon / at fe{s}tes and at daunces
 Swiche salutacions / and contenances
 Pa{ss}en / as dooth a shadwe vp on the wal
 But wo is hym / that payen moot for al
 The sely hou{s}bonde / algate he moot paye
 He moot vs clothe / and he moot vs arraye
 Al for his owene wor{s}hip / richely
 In which array / we dauncen iolily
 And if |þt| he noght may / |per|auenture
 Or ellis / li{s}t no swich di{s}pen{s}e endure
 But thynketh / it is wa{s}ted and ylo{s}t/
 Thanne moot another / payen for oure co{s}t/
 Or lene vs gold / and that is |per|ilous
 This noble Marchant/ heeld a worthy hous
 ffor which / he hadde alday / {s}o greet repair
 ffor his large{ss}e / and for his wyf was fair
 That wonder is / but herkneth to my tale
 Amonges alle hi{s}e ge{s}tes / grete and smale
 ¶Ther was a Monk/ a fair man and a bold
 I trowe / a thritty wynter / he was old
 That euere in oon / was drawyng/ to that place
 This yonge Monk/ that was {s}o fair of face
 Aqueynted was so / with the goode man
 Sith that/ hir fir{s}te knewliche bigan
 That in his hous / as famulier was he
 As it is po{ss}ible / any freend to be
 And for as muchel / as this goode man
 And eek this Monk / of which |þt| I bigan
 Were bothe two yborn / in o village
 The Monk/ hym claymeth / as for co{s}ynage

{{Folio 204v}}

 And he agayn / he seith nat ones nay
 But was as {`,}glad ther of / as fowel of day
 ffor to his herte / it was a gret ple{s}ance
 Thus been they knyt/ with eterne alliance
 And ech of hem / gan oother/ for ta{ss}ure
 Of bretherhede / whil |þt| hir lyf may dure
 ¶ffree was daun |Iohan| / and manly of di{s}pence
 As in that hous / and ful of diligence
 To doon ple{s}ance / and al{s}o greet co{s}tage
 He nat forgat/ to yeue the lee{s}te page
 In al that hous / but after hir degree
 He yaf the lord / and sith al his meynee
 Whan |þt| he cam / {s}om manere hone{s}te thyng/
 ffor which / they were as glad of his comyng/
 As fowel is fayn / whan |þt| the sonne vp ri{s}eth
 Namoore of this as now / for it suffi{s}eth
 ¶But {s}o bifel / this Marchant/ on a day
 Shoop hym / to make redy his array
 Toward the town of Brugges / for to fare
 To byen there / a porcion of ware
 ffor which he hath / to Parys sent anon
 A me{ss}ager / and preyed hath daun |Iohan|
 That he sholde come / to Seint Denys and pleye
 With hym / and with his wyf/ a day or tweye
 Er he to Brugges wente / in alle wi{s}e
 ¶This noble Monk/ of which I yow deuy{s}e
 Hath of his Abbot/ as hym li{s}t licence
 By cau{s}e he was a man / of heigh prudence
 And eek an Officer / out for to ryde
 To {s}een hir granges / and hir bernes wyde
 And vn to Seint Denys / he comth anon
 Who was {s}o welcome / as my lord Daun |Iohan|
 Oure deere co{s}yn / ful of curtei{s}ye
 With hym broghte he / a Iubbe of Malue{s}ye
 And eek another/ ful of fyn vernage
 And volatil / as ay was his v{s}age
 And thus I lete hem / ete and drynke and pleye
 This Marchant/ and this Monk / a day or tweye
 ¶The thridde day / this Marchant vp ari{s}eth
 And on his nedes / sadly hym auy{s}eth

{{Folio 205r}}

 And vp / in to his Countour hous goth he
 To rekene with hym self / wel may be
 Of thilke yeer / how |þt| it with hym {s}tood
 And how |þt| he / de{s}pended hadde his good
 And if that he / encre{ss}ed were or noon
 Hi{s}e bokes / and his bagges / many oon
 He leyth biforn hym / on his Countyng bord
 fful riche was his tre{s}or / and his hord
 ffor which ful fa{s}te / his Countour dore he shette
 And eek he nolde / |þt| no man sholde hym lette
 Of his acountes / for the mene tyme
 And thus he sit / til it was pa{ss}ed |pri|me
 ¶Daun |Iohan| was ri{s}en / in the morwe al{s}o
 And in the gardyns / walketh to and fro
 And hath his thynges seyd / ful curtei{s}ly
 ¶This goode wyf / cam walkyng |pri|uely
 In to the gardyn / ther he walketh softe
 And hym salueth / as she hath doon ofte
 A mayde child / cam in hir compaignye
 Which as hir li{s}t/ she may gouerne and gye
 ffor yet/ vnder the yerde was the mayde
 ¶O deere co{s}yn myn / Daun |Iohan| she sayde
 What eyleth yow / so rathe for to ry{s}e
 ¶Nece quod he / it oghte ynow suffi{s}e
 ffyue houres / for to slepe / vp on a nyght/
 But it were / for an old apalled wight/
 As been thi{s}e wedded men / |þt| lye and dare
 As in a forme / sit a wery hare
 Were al for{s}traught/ |with| houndes grete |&| smale
 But deere Nece / why be ye so pale
 I trowe |cer|tes / that oure goode man
 Hath yow laboured / sith the nyght bigan
 That yow were nede / to re{s}ten ha{s}tily
 And with that word / he lough ful myrily
 And of his owene thoght/ he weex al reed
 ¶This faire wyf / gan for to shake hir heed
 And seyde thus / ye god woot al quod she
 Nay co{s}yn myn / it stant nat {s}o with me
 ffor by that god / that yaf me soule and lyf
 In al the Reawme of ffrance / is ther no wyf

{{Folio 205v}}

 That la{ss}e lu{s}t hath / to that sory pley
 ffor I may synge / allas and weilawey
 That I was born / but to no wight/ quod she
 Dar I nat telle / how |þt| it stant with me
 Wher fore I thynke / out of this land to wende
 Or ellis / of my self / to make an ende
 So ful am I / of drede/ and eek of care
 ¶This Monk bigan / vp on this wyf to stare
 And seyde / allas / my Nece god forbede
 That ye / for any sorwe / or any drede
 ffordo your self / but telleth me you|re| grief
 |per|auenture / I may in youre me{s}chief/
 Con{s}eille / or helpe / and therfore telleth me
 Al youre anoy / for it shal been secree
 ffor on my Porthors / I make an oth
 That ne|uer|e in my lif / for lief / or loth
 Ne shal I / of no con{s}eil / yow biwreye
 ¶The same agayn to yow / quod she I seye
 By god / and by this Porthors / I swere
 Thogh men me wolde / al in to peces tere
 Ne shal I ne|uer|e / for to gon to helle
 Biwreye a word / of thyng |þt| ye me telle
 Nat for no co{s}ynage / ne alliance
 But verraily / for loue and affiance
 Thus been they sworn / and her vp on they ke{s}te
 And ech of hem / tolde oother what hem le{s}te
 ¶Co{s}yn quod she / if |þt| I hadde a space
 As I haue noon / and namely in this place
 Thanne wolde I telle / a legende of my lyf
 What I haue suffred / sith I was a wyf
 With myn hou{s}bonde / al be he youre co{s}yn
 ¶Nay quod this Monk/ by god and Seint Martin
 He is namore / co{s}yn vn to me
 Than is this leef/ |þt| hangeth on the tree
 I clepe hym so / by Seint Denys of ffrance
 To han / the moore cau{s}e of aqueyntance
 Of yow / which I haue loued specially
 Abouen alle wommen / sikerly
 This swere I yow / on my |pro|fe{ss}io|un|
 Telleth youre grief / le{s}t |þt| he come adoun

{{Folio 206r}}

 And ha{s}teth yow / and goth awey anon
 ¶My deere loue quod she / o my daun |Iohan|
 fful lief were me / this con{s}eil for to hyde
 But out it moot/ I may namoore abyde
 ¶Myn hou{s}bonde is to me / the wor{s}te man
 That euere was / sith |þt| the world bigan
 But sith I am a wyf / it sit nat me
 To tellen no wight/ of oure |pri|uetee
 Neither abedde / ne in noon oother place
 God shilde / I sholde it tellen for his |gra|ce
 A wyf ne shal nat seyn / of hir hou{s}bonde
 But al honour / as I kan vnder{s}tonde
 Saue vn to yow / thus muche I tellen shal
 As help me god / he is noght worth at al
 In on degree / the value of a flye
 But yet/ me greueth moo{s}t his nygardye
 And wel ye woot/ |þt| wommen naturelly

A womman wolld haue
her hu{s}band, to be
hardye, wy{s}e Ryche,
free, buxom / that
is to {s}aye gentell
and to be fre{s}he
in bed / the{s}e /
{s}yxe things a
woman dothe
de{s}yre as Mr.
Chaucer dothe wryte

 De{s}iren thynges .vj. as wel as I
 They wolde / |þt| hir hou{s}bondes sholde be
 ¶Hardy and wi{s}e / and riche / and ther to free
 And buxom vn to his wyf / and fre{ss}h abedde
 But by that ilke lord / that for vs bledde
 ffor his honour / my self for to arraye
 A sonday next/ I moot nedes paye
 An hundred frankes / or ellis am I lorn
 Yet were me le|uer|e / |þt| I were Vnborn
 Than me were doon / a sclaundre / or vileynye
 And if myn hou{s}bonde eek / myghte it e{s}pye
 I nere but lo{s}t/ and ther fore I yow preye
 Lene me this s|om|me / or ellis moot I deye
 Daun |Iohan| I seye / lene me thi{s}e hundred frankes
 Pardee / I wol noght/ faile yow my thankes
 If |þt| yow li{s}t/ to doon / that I yow praye
 ffor at a |cer|teyn day / I wol yow paye
 And doon to yow / what ple{s}ance and seruy{s}e
 That I may doon / right as yow li{s}t deuy{s}e
 And but {.}I{.} do / god take on me vengeance
 As foul / as e|uer|e hadde Genelo|un| of ffrance
 ¶This gentil Monk/ an{s}werde in this manere
 Now trewely / myn owene lady deere
 I haue quod he / on yow so gret a routhe
 That I yow swere / and plighte yow my trouthe

{{Folio 206v}}

 That whan youre hou{s}bonde / is to fflandres fare
 I wol deliuere yow / out of this care
 ffor I wol brynge yow / an hundred frankes
 And with that word / he caughte hi|re| by the flankes
 And hi|re| embraceth harde / and ki{s}te hi|re| ofte
 Goth now youre wey quod he / al {s}tille and softe
 And lat vs dyne / as {s}oone / as |þt| ye may
 ffor by my chilyndre / it is Pryme of day
 Goth now / and beth as trewe as I shal be
 ¶Now ellis / god forbede sire quod she
 And forth she goth / as iolif as a pye
 And bad the Cokes / |þt| they sholde hem hye
 So |þt| men myghte dyne / and that anon
 Vp to hir hou{s}bonde / is his wyf ygon
 And knokketh at his Countour/ boldely

qi la.

 ¶Who {^}{{ys}} ther quod he / Peter it am I
 Quod she / what sire / how longe wol ye fa{s}te
 How longe tyme / wol ye rekene and ca{s}te
 Youre sommes / and youre bokes / and youre thynges
 The deuel haue part/ on alle swiche rekenynges
 Ye haue ynogh pardee / of goddes sonde
 Com doun to day / and lat youre bagges {s}tonde
 Ne be ye nat a{s}hamed / that daun |Iohan|
 Shal fa{s}tynge / al this day elenge gon
 What lat vs heere a ma{ss}e / and go we dyne
 ¶Wyf quod this man / litel kan{s}tow deuyne
 The curious bi{s}yne{ss}e / that we haue
 ffor of vs chapmen / al{s}o god me {s}aue
 And by that lord / that clepid is Seint Yue
 Scar{s}ly amonges .xij. x. shul thryue
 Continuelly / la{s}tyng vn to oure age
 We may wel make cheere / and good vi{s}age
 And dryue forth the world / as it may be
 And kepen oure e{s}tat/ in pryuetee
 Til we be dede / or ellis that we pleye
 A pilgrymage / or goon out of the weye
 And ther fore / haue I gret nece{ss}itee
 Vp on this queynte world / tauy{s}e me
 ffor euere mo / we mote {s}tonde in drede
 Of hap and ffortune / in oure chapmanhede

{{Folio 207r}}

 ¶To fflandres wol I go / tomorwe at day
 And come agayn / as {s}oone as e|uer|e I may
 ffor which my deere wyf / I thee bi{s}eke
 As be to euery wight/ buxom and meke
 And for to kepe oure good / be curious
 And hone{s}tly / gouerne wel oure hous
 Thow ha{s}t ynow / in euery mane|re| wi{s}e
 That to a thrifty hou{s}hold / may suffi{s}e
 Thee lakketh noon array / ne no vitaille
 Of siluer in thy purs / shaltow nat faille
 And with that word / his Countour dore he shette
 And doun he goth / no lenger wolde he lette
 But ha{s}tily / a ma{ss}e was ther seyd
 And spedily / the tables were yleyd
 And to the dyner / fa{s}te they hem spedde
 And richely this Monk/ the chapman fedde
 ¶At after dyner / daun |Iohan| sobrely
 This chapman took a part/ and |pri|uely
 He seyde hym thus / co{s}yn it standeth so
 That wel I se / to Brugges wol ye go
 God and Seint Au{s}tyn / spede yow and gyde
 I pray yow co{s}yn / wy{s}ly |þt| ye ryde
 Gouerneth yow al{s}o / of youre diete
 Atemprely / and namely / in this hete
 Bitwix vs two / nedeth no strange fare
 ffarewel co{s}yn / god shilde yow fro care
 And if |þt| any thyng/ by day or nyght
 If it lye in my power/ and my myght/
 That ye me wol comande / in any wi{s}e
 It shal be doon / right as ye wol deuy{s}e
 ¶O thyng er |þt| ye goon / if it may be
 I wold {`,}preye yow / for to lene me
 An hundred frankes / for a wyke or tweye
 ffor |cer|teyn be{s}tes / |þt| I mo{s}te beye
 To store with a place / that is oures
 God help me so / I wolde it were youres
 I shal nat faille / {s}eurely of my day
 Nat for a thou{s}and frankes / a myle way
 But lat this thyng be secree / I yow preye
 ffor yet to nyght/ thi{s}e be{s}tes moot I beye

{{Folio 207v}}

 And fare now wel / myn owene co{s}yn deere
 Grant |mer|cy / of youre co{s}t/ and of youre cheere
 ¶This noble Marchant/ gentilly anon
 An{s}werde and seyde / o co{s}yn myn daun |Iohan|
 Now sikerly / this is a smal reque{s}te
 My gold is youres / whan |þt| it yow le{s}te
 And nat oonly my gold / but my chaffare
 Tak what yow li{s}t/ god shilde |þt| ye spare
 But o thyng is / ye knowe it wel ynow
 Of Chapmen / that hir moneye is hir plow
 We may creance / whil we han a name
 But goldlees for to been / it is no game
 Pay it agayn / whan it lyth in youre e{s}e
 After my myght/ ful fayn wol I yow ple{s}e
 ¶Thi{s}e hundred frankes / he fette forth anon
 And |pri|uely / he took hem to daun |Iohan|
 No wight in al this world / wi{s}te of this lone
 Sauyng/ this Marchant/ and daun |Iohan| allone
 They drynke / and speke / and rome a while |&| pleye
 Til that daun |Iohan| / rideth to his Abbeye
 ¶The morwe cam / and forth this Marchant rydeth
 To fflandres ward / his Prentys wel hym gydeth
 Til he cam / in to Brugges murily
 Now goth this Marchant/ fa{s}te and bi{s}ily
 Aboute his nede / and byeth and crea|un|ceth
 He neither / pleyeth at the dees / ne daunceth
 But as a Marchant/ shortly for to telle
 He let his lyf / and ther I lete hym dwelle
 ¶The sonday next / the Marchant was agon
 To Seint denys / ycomen is daun |Iohan|
 With crowne and berd / al fre{ss}h |&| newe shaue
 In al the hous / ther nas {s}o litel a knaue
 Ne no wight ellis / |þt| he nas ful fayn
 That my lord daun |Iohan| / was come agayn
 And shortly / to the poynt/ right for to gon
 This faire wyf/ acorded with daun |Iohan|
 That for thi{s}e hundred frankes / he sholde al nyght/
 Haue hire in his armes / bolt vpright/
 And this acord / |per|fourned was in dede
 In myrthe al nyght/ a bi{s}y lyf they lede

{{Folio 208r}}

 Til it was day / that daun |Iohan| wente his way
 And bad the meynee / fare wel haue good day
 ffor noon of hem / ne no wight in the town
 Hath of daun |Iohan| / right no su{s}pecioun
 And forth he rydeth hom / til his Abbeye
 Or where hym li{s}t/ namoore of hym I seye
 ¶This Marchant/ whan |þt| ended was the faire
 To Seint Denys / he gan for to repaire
 And with his wyf / he maketh fe{s}te and cheere
 And telleth hi|re| / that chaffare is so deere
 That nedes / mo{s}te he make a cheuy{ss}ance
 ffor he was bounden / in a recony{ss}ance
 To paye/ twenty thou{s}and sheeld anon
 ffor which / this Marchant/ is to Parys gon
 To borwe / of |cer|teyne freendes / that he hadde
 A |cer|teyn frankes / and s|om|me |with| hym he ladde
 And whan |þt| he was come / in to the town
 ffor greet chiertee / and greet affeccioun
 Vn to daun |Iohan| / he fir{s}t goth / hym to pleye
 Nat for to axe / or borwe of hym moneye
 But for to wite / and {s}een of his welfare
 And for to tellen hym / of his chaffare
 As freendes doon / whan they been met yfeere
 Daun |Iohan| / hym maketh fe{s}te / and murye cheere
 And he hym tolde agayn / ful specially
 How he hadde / wel yboght/ and |gra|ciou{s}ly
 Thanked be god / al hool his marchandi{s}e
 Saue |þt| he mo{s}te / in alle maner wy{s}e
 Maken a cheuy{ss}ance / as for his be{s}te
 And thanne / he sholde been / in ioye and re{s}te
 ¶Daun |Iohan| an{s}werde / certes I am fayn
 That ye in heele / ar comen hom agayn
 And if |þt| I were riche / as haue I bli{ss}e
 Of twenty thou{s}and sheeld / sholde ye nat my{ss}e
 ffor ye {s}o kyndely / this oother day
 Lente me gold / and as I kan and may
 I thanke yow / by god / and by Seint Iame
 But nathelees / I took vn to oure dame
 Yowre wyf at hom / the same gold agayn
 Vp on youre bench / she woot it wel certayn

{{Folio 208v}}

 By |cer|teyn toknes / that I kan yow telle
 Now by youre leue / I may no lenger dwelle
 Oure Abbot/ wol out of this town anon
 And in his compaignye / moot I gon
 Greet wel oure dame / myn owene Nece swete
 And fare wel deere co{s}yn / til we meete
 ¶This Marchant/ which |þt| was ful war and wys
 Creanced hath / and payed eek in Parys
 To |cer|teyn lombardes / redy in hir hond
 The somme of gold / and gat of hem his bond

¶{.}i{.} obligacionem

 And hoom he gooth / murye as a Papyniay
 ffor wel he knew / he {s}tood in swich array
 That nedes mo{s}te he wynne / in that viage
 A thou{s}and frankes / abouen al his co{s}tage
 ¶His wyf ful redy / mette hym at the gate
 As she was wont/ of old v{s}age algate
 And al that nyght/ in myrthe they bi{s}ette
 ffor he was riche / and cleerly out of dette
 ¶Whan it was day / this Marchant gan embrace
 His wyf al newe / and ki{s}te hi|re| on hir face
 And vp he goth / and maketh it ful tough
 Namoore quod she / by god ye haue ynough
 And wantownely agayn / with hym she pleyde
 Til at the la{s}te / this Marchant seyde
 ¶By god quod he / I am alitel wroth
 With yow my wyf / al thogh it be me looth
 And woot ye why / by god as |þt| I ge{ss}e
 That ye han maad / a manere strangene{ss}e
 Bitwixen me / and my co{s}yn Daun |Iohan|
 Ye sholde han warned me / er I had gon
 That he yow hadde / a hundred frankes payed
 Be redy tokne / and heeld hym yuele apayed
 ffor that I to hym / spak of cheuy{ss}ance
 Me semed so / as by his contenance
 But nathelees / by god oure heuene kyng/
 I thoghte nat/ to axe of hym no thyng/
 I pray thee wyf/ ne do namoore so
 Tel me alwey / er that I fro thee go
 If any dettour / hath in myn ab{s}ence
 Ypayed thee / le{s}t thurgh thy necligence

{{Folio 209r}}

 I myghte hym axe / a thyng/ |þt| he hath payed
 ¶This wyf / was nat afered ne afrayed
 But boldely she seyde / and that anon
 Marie I diffye / the fal{s}e Monk/ daun |Iohan|
 I kepe nat of his toknes / ne|uer| a del
 He took me |cer|teyn gold / this woot I wel
 What yuel thedam / on his Monkes snowte
 ffor god it woot/ I wende with outen dowte
 That he hadde yeue it me / by cau{s}e of yow
 To doon ther with / myn honour / and my prow
 ffor co{s}ynage / and eek for bele cheere
 That he hath had / ful ofte tymes heere
 ¶But sith I se / it stant in this di{s}ioynt/
 I wole an{s}were yow / shortly to the poynt/
 Ye han mo slakker dettours / than am I
 ffor I wol paye yow / wel and redily
 ffro day to day / and if {s}o be I fayle
 I am youre wyf / score it vp on my tayle
 And I shal paye / as {s}oone as euere I may
 ffor by my trouthe / I haue on myn array
 And nat in wa{s}t/ bi{s}towed e|uer|y del
 And for I haue / bi{s}towed it {s}o wel
 ffor youre honour / for goddes sake I seye
 As be nat wrooth / but lat vs laughe |&| pleye
 Ye shal / my ioly body han to wedde
 By god / I wol noght paye yow but abedde
 fforgyue it me / myn owene spou{s}e deere
 Turn hiderward / and maketh bettre cheere
 ¶This Marchant/ saugh / ther was no remedye
 And for to chide / it nere but folye
 Syn that the thyng/ may nat amended be
 Now wyf he seyde / and I foryeue it thee
 But by thy lyf/ ne be namoore {s}o large
 Keep bet thy good / this yeue {^}{{I}} thee in charge
 Thus endeth my tale / and god vs sende
 Taillynge ynough / vn to oure lyues ende

¶Here endeth / the Shipmannes tale