Part 16 out of 19
Although they go in full *bad leas."* *sorry plight*
This Aeolus gan it so blow,
That through the world it was y-know.
Then came the seventh rout anon,
And fell on knees ev'ry one,
And saide, "Lady, grant us soon
The same thing, the same boon,
Which *this next folk* you have done." *the people just before us*
"Fy on you," quoth she, "ev'ry one!
Ye nasty swine, ye idle wretches,
Full fill'd of rotten slowe tetches!* *blemishes <75>
What? false thieves! ere ye would
*Be famous good,* and nothing n'ould *have good fame*
Deserve why, nor never raught,* *recked, cared (to do so)
Men rather you to hangen ought.
For ye be like the sleepy cat,
That would have fish; but, know'st thou what?
He woulde no thing wet his claws.
Evil thrift come to your jaws,
And eke to mine, if I it grant,
Or do favour you to avaunt.* *boast your deeds
Thou Aeolus, thou King of Thrace,
Go, blow this folk a *sorry grace,"* *disgrace
Quoth she, "anon; and know'st thou how?
As I shall telle thee right now,
Say, these be they that would honour
Have, and do no kind of labour,
Nor do no good, and yet have laud,
And that men ween'd that Belle Isaude <76>
*Could them not of love wern;* *could not refuse them her love*
And yet she that grinds at the quern* *mill <77>
Is all too good to ease their heart."
This Aeolus anon upstart,
And with his blacke clarioun
He gan to blazen out a soun'
As loud as bellows wind in hell;
And eke therewith, the sooth to tell,
This sounde was so full of japes,* *jests
As ever were mows* in apes; *grimaces
And that went all the world about,
That ev'ry wight gan on them shout,
And for to laugh as they were wood;* *mad
*Such game found they in their hood.* <78> *so were they ridiculed*
Then came another company,
That hadde done the treachery,
The harm, and the great wickedness,
That any hearte coulde guess;
And prayed her to have good fame,
And that she would do them no shame,
But give them los and good renown,
And *do it blow* in clarioun. *cause it to be blown*
"Nay, wis!" quoth she, "it were a vice;
All be there in me no justice,
Me liste not to do it now,
Nor this will I grant to you."
Then came there leaping in a rout,* *crowd
And gan to clappen* all about *strike, knock
Every man upon the crown,
That all the hall began to soun';
And saide; "Lady lefe* and dear, *loved
We be such folk as ye may hear.
To tellen all the tale aright,
We be shrewes* every wight, *wicked, impious people
And have delight in wickedness,
As goode folk have in goodness,
And joy to be y-knowen shrews,
And full of vice and *wicked thews;* *evil qualities*
Wherefore we pray you *on a row,* *all together*
That our fame be such y-know
In all things right as it is."
"I grant it you," quoth she, "y-wis.
But what art thou that say'st this tale,
That wearest on thy hose a pale,* *vertical stripe
And on thy tippet such a bell?"
"Madame," quoth he, "sooth to tell,
I am *that ilke shrew,* y-wis, *the same wretch*
That burnt the temple of Isidis,
In Athenes, lo! that city." <79>
"And wherefore didst thou so?" quoth she.
"By my thrift!" quoth he, "Madame,
I woulde fain have had a name
As other folk had in the town;
Although they were of great renown
For their virtue and their thews,* *good qualities
Thought I, as great fame have shrews
(Though it be naught) for shrewdeness,
As good folk have for goodeness;
And since I may not have the one,
The other will I not forgo'n.
So for to gette *fame's hire,* *the reward of fame*
The temple set I all afire.
*Now do our los be blowen swithe,
As wisly be thou ever blithe."* *see note <80>
"Gladly," quoth she; "thou Aeolus,
Hear'st thou what these folk prayen us?"
"Madame, I hear full well," quoth he,
"And I will trumpen it, pardie!"
And took his blacke trumpet fast,
And gan to puffen and to blast,
Till it was at the worlde's end.
With that I gan *aboute wend,* *turn*
For one that stood right at my back
Me thought full goodly* to me spake, *courteously, fairly
And saide, "Friend, what is thy name?
Art thou come hither to have fame?"
"Nay, *for soothe,* friend!" quoth I; *surely*
"I came not hither, *grand mercy,* *great thanks*
For no such cause, by my head!
Sufficeth me, as I were dead,
That no wight have my name in hand.
I wot myself best how I stand,
For what I dree,* or what I think, *suffer
I will myself it alle drink,
Certain, for the more part,
As far forth as I know mine art."
"What doest thou here, then," quoth he.
Quoth I, "That will I telle thee;
The cause why I stande here,
Is some new tidings for to lear,* *learn
Some newe thing, I know not what,
Tidings either this or that,
Of love, or suche thinges glad.
For, certainly, he that me made
To come hither, said to me
I shoulde bothe hear and see
In this place wondrous things;
But these be not such tidings
As I meant of." "No?" quoth he.
And I answered, "No, pardie!
For well I wot ever yet,
Since that first I hadde wit,
That some folk have desired fame
Diversely, and los, and name;
But certainly I knew not how
Nor where that Fame dwelled, ere now
Nor eke of her description,
Nor also her condition,
Nor *the order of her doom,* *the principle of her judgments*
Knew I not till I hither come."
"Why, then, lo! be these tidings,
That thou nowe hither brings,
That thou hast heard?" quoth he to me.
"But now *no force,* for well I see *no matter*
What thou desirest for to lear."
Come forth, and stand no longer here.
And I will thee, withoute dread,* *doubt
Into another place lead,
Where thou shalt hear many a one."
Then gan I forth with him to go'n
Out of the castle, sooth to say.
Then saw I stand in a vally,
Under the castle faste by,
A house, that domus Daedali,
That Labyrinthus <81> called is,
N'as* made so wondrously, y-wis, *was not
Nor half so quaintly* was y-wrought. *strangely
And evermore, as swift as thought,
This quainte* house aboute went, *strange
That nevermore it *stille stent;* *ceased to move*
And thereout came so great a noise,
That had it stooden upon Oise, <82>
Men might have heard it easily
To Rome, I *trowe sickerly.* *confidently believe*
And the noise which I heard,
For all the world right so it far'd
As doth the routing* of the stone *rushing noise*
That from the engine<83> is let go'n.
And all this house of which I read* *tell you
Was made of twigges sallow,* red, *willow
And green eke, and some were white,
Such as men *to the cages twight,* *pull to make cages*
Or maken of these panniers,
Or elles hutches or dossers;* *back-baskets
That, for the swough* and for the twigs, *rushing noise
This house was all so full of gigs,* *sounds of wind
And all so full eke of chirkings,* *creakings
And of many other workings;
And eke this house had of entries
As many as leaves be on trees,
In summer when that they be green,
And on the roof men may yet see'n
A thousand holes, and well mo',
To let the soundes oute go.
And by day *in ev'ry tide* *continually*
Be all the doores open wide,
And by night each one unshet;* *unshut, open
Nor porter there is none to let* *hinder
No manner tidings in to pace;
Nor ever rest is in that place,
That it n'is* fill'd full of tidings, *is not
Either loud, or of whisperings;
And ever all the house's angles
Are full of *rownings and of jangles,* *whisperings and chatterings*
Of wars, of peace, of marriages,
Of rests, of labour, of voyages,
Of abode, of death, of life,
Of love, of hate, accord, of strife,
Of loss, of lore, and of winnings,
Of health, of sickness, of buildings,
Of faire weather and tempests,
Of qualm* of folkes and of beasts; *sickness
Of divers transmutations
Of estates and of regions;
Of trust, of dread,* of jealousy, *doubt
Of wit, of cunning, of folly,
Of plenty, and of great famine,
Of *cheap, of dearth,* and of ruin; *cheapness & dearness (of food)*
Of good or of mis-government,
Of fire, and diverse accident.
And lo! this house of which I write,
*Sicker be ye,* it was not lite;* *be assured* *small
For it was sixty mile of length,
All* was the timber of no strength; *although
Yet it is founded to endure,
*While that it list to Adventure,* *while fortune pleases*
That is the mother of tidings,
As is the sea of wells and springs;
And it was shapen like a cage.
"Certes," quoth I, "in all mine age,* *life
Ne'er saw I such a house as this."
And as I wonder'd me, y-wis,
Upon this house, then ware was I
How that mine eagle, faste by,
Was perched high upon a stone;
And I gan straighte to him go'n,
And saide thus; "I praye thee
That thou a while abide* me, *wait for
For Godde's love, and let me see
What wonders in this place be;
For yet parauntre* I may lear** *peradventure **learn
Some good thereon, or somewhat hear,
That *lefe me were,* ere that I went." *were pleasing to me*
"Peter! that is mine intent,"
Quoth he to me; "therefore I dwell;* *tarry
But, certain, one thing I thee tell,
That, but* I bringe thee therein, *unless
Thou shalt never *can begin* *be able*
To come into it, out of doubt,
So fast it whirleth, lo! about.
But since that Jovis, of his grace,
As I have said, will thee solace
Finally with these ilke* things, *same
These uncouth sightes and tidings,
To pass away thy heaviness,
Such ruth* hath he of thy distress *compassion
That thou suff'rest debonairly,* *gently
And know'st thyselven utterly
Desperate of alle bliss,
Since that Fortune hath made amiss
The fruit of all thy hearte's rest
Languish, and eke *in point to brest;* *on the point of breaking*
But he, through his mighty merite,
Will do thee ease, all be it lite,* *little
And gave express commandement,
To which I am obedient,
To further thee with all my might,
And wiss* and teache thee aright, *direct
Where thou may'st moste tidings hear,
Shalt thou anon many one lear."
And with this word he right anon
Hent* me up betwixt his tone,** *caught **toes
And at a window in me brought,
That in this house was, as me thought;
And therewithal me thought it stent,* *stopped
And nothing it aboute went;
And set me in the floore down.
But such a congregatioun
Of folk, as I saw roam about,
Some within and some without,
Was never seen, nor shall be eft,* *again, hereafter
That, certes, in the world n' is* left *is not
So many formed by Nature,
Nor dead so many a creature,
That well unnethes* in that place *scarcely
Had I a foote breadth of space;
And ev'ry wight that I saw there
Rown'd* evereach in other's ear *whispered
A newe tiding privily,
Or elles told all openly
Right thus, and saide, "Know'st not thou
What is betid,* lo! righte now?" *happened
"No," quoth he; "telle me what."
And then he told him this and that,
And swore thereto, that it was sooth;
"Thus hath he said," and "Thus he do'th,"
And "Thus shall 't be," and "Thus heard I say
"That shall be found, that dare I lay;"* *wager
That all the folk that is alive
Have not the cunning to descrive* *describe
The thinges that I hearde there,
What aloud, and what in th'ear.
But all the wonder most was this;
When one had heard a thing, y-wis,
He came straight to another wight,
And gan him tellen anon right
The same tale that to him was told,
Or it a furlong way was old, <84>
And gan somewhat for to eche* *eke, add
To this tiding in his speech,
More than it ever spoken was.
And not so soon departed n'as* *was
He from him, than that he met
With the third; and *ere he let
Any stound,* he told him als'; *without delaying a momen*
Were the tidings true or false,
Yet would he tell it natheless,
And evermore with more increase
Than it was erst.* Thus north and south *at first
Went ev'ry tiding from mouth to mouth,
And that increasing evermo',
As fire is wont to *quick and go* *become alive, and spread*
From a spark y-sprung amiss,
Till all a city burnt up is.
And when that it was full up-sprung,
And waxen* more on ev'ry tongue *increased
Than e'er it was, it went anon
Up to a window out to go'n;
Or, but it mighte thereout pass,
It gan creep out at some crevass,* *crevice, chink
And fly forth faste for the nonce.
And sometimes saw I there at once
*A leasing, and a sad sooth saw,* *a falsehood and an earnest
That gan *of adventure* draw true saying* *by chance
Out at a window for to pace;
And when they metten in that place,
They were checked both the two,
And neither of them might out go;
For other so they gan *to crowd,* *push, squeeze, each other*
Till each of them gan cryen loud,
"Let me go first!" -- "Nay, but let me!
And here I will ensure thee,
With vowes, if thou wilt do so,
That I shall never from thee go,
But be thine owen sworen brother!
We will us medle* each with other, *mingle
That no man, be he ne'er so wroth,
Shall have one of us two, but both
At ones, as *beside his leave,* *despite his desire*
Come we at morning or at eve,
Be we cried or *still y-rowned."* *quietly whispered*
Thus saw I false and sooth, compouned,* *compounded
Together fly for one tiding.
Then out at holes gan to wring* *squeeze, struggle
Every tiding straight to Fame;
And she gan give to each his name
After her disposition,
And gave them eke duration,
Some to wax and wane soon,
As doth the faire white moon;
And let them go. There might I see
Winged wonders full fast flee,
Twenty thousand in a rout,* *company
As Aeolus them blew about.
And, Lord! this House in alle times
Was full of shipmen and pilgrimes, <85>
With *scrippes bretfull of leasings,* *wallets brimful of falsehoods*
Entremedled with tidings* *true stories
And eke alone by themselve.
And many thousand times twelve
Saw I eke of these pardoners,<86>
Couriers, and eke messengers,
With boistes* crammed full of lies *boxes
As ever vessel was with lyes.* *lees of wine
And as I altherfaste* went *with all speed
About, and did all mine intent
Me *for to play and for to lear,* *to amuse and instruct myself*
And eke a tiding for to hear
That I had heard of some country,
That shall not now be told for me; --
For it no need is, readily;
Folk can sing it better than I.
For all must out, or late or rath,* *soon
All the sheaves in the lath;* *barn <87>
I heard a greate noise withal
In a corner of the hall,
Where men of love tidings told;
And I gan thitherward behold,
For I saw running ev'ry wight
As fast as that they hadde might,
And ev'reach cried, "What thing is that?"
And some said, "I know never what."
And when they were all on a heap,
Those behinde gan up leap,
And clomb* upon each other fast, <88> *climbed
And up the noise on high they cast,
And trodden fast on others' heels,
And stamp'd, as men do after eels.
But at the last I saw a man,
Which that I not describe can;
But that he seemed for to be
A man of great authority.
And therewith I anon abraid* *awoke
Out of my sleepe, half afraid;
Rememb'ring well what I had seen,
And how high and far I had been
In my ghost; and had great wonder
Of what the mighty god of thunder
Had let me know; and gan to write
Like as ye have me heard endite.
Wherefore to study and read alway
I purpose to do day by day.
And thus, in dreaming and in game,
Endeth this little book of Fame.
Here endeth the Book of Fame
Notes to The House of Fame
1. Rood: the cross on which Christ was crucified; Anglo-Saxon,
2. Well worth of this thing greate clerks: Great scholars set
much worth upon this thing -- that is, devote much labour,
attach much importance, to the subject of dreams.
3. The poet briefly refers to the description of the House of
Somnus, in Ovid's "Metamorphoses," 1. xi. 592, et seqq.; where
the cave of Somnus is said to be "prope Cimmerios," ("near the
Cimmerians") and "Saxo tamen exit ab imo Rivus aquae
Lethes." ("A stream of Lethe's water issues from the base of the
4. See the account of the vision of Croesus in The Monk's Tale.
5. The meaning of the allusion is not clear; but the story of the
pilgrims and the peas is perhaps suggested by the line following
-- "to make lithe [soft] what erst was hard." St Leonard was the
patron of captives.
5. Corsaint: The "corpus sanctum" -- the holy body, or relics,
preserved in the shrine.
7. So, in the Temple of Venus described in The Knight's Tale,
the Goddess is represented as "naked floating in the large sea".
8. Vulcano: Vulcan, the husband of Venus.
9. Ered: ploughed; Latin, "arare," Anglo-Saxon, "erean,"
10. Sours: Soaring ascent; a hawk was said to be "on the soar"
when he mounted, "on the sours" or "souse" when he
descended on the prey, and took it in flight.
11. This is only one among many instances in which Chaucer
disclaims the pursuits of love; and the description of his manner
of life which follows is sufficient to show that the disclaimer
was no mere mock-humble affectation of a gallant.
12. This reference, approximately fixing the date at which the
poem was composed, points clearly to Chaucer's daily work as
Comptroller of the Customs -- a post which he held from 1374
13. This is a frank enough admission that the poet was fond of
good cheer; and the effect of his "little abstinence" on his
corporeal appearance is humorously described in the Prologue
to the Tale of Sir Thopas, where the Host compliments Chaucer
on being as well shapen in the waist as himself.
14. "To make the beard" means to befool or deceive. See note
15 to the Reeve's Tale. Precisely the same idea is conveyed in
the modern slang word "shave" -- meaning a trick or fraud.
15. Love-days: see note 21 to the Prologue to the Canterbury
16. If this reference is to any book of Chaucer's in which the
House of Fame was mentioned, the book has not come down to
us. It has been reasonably supposed, however, that Chaucer
means by "his own book" Ovid's "Metamorphoses," of which he
was evidently very fond; and in the twelfth book of that poem
the Temple of Fame is described.
17. Saint Julian was the patron of hospitality; so the Franklin, in
the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales is said to be "Saint Julian
in his country," for his open house and liberal cheer. The eagle,
at sight of the House of Fame, cries out "bon hostel!" -- "a fair
lodging, a glorious house, by St Julian!"
18. The laurel-tree is sacred to Apollo. See note 11 to The
Assembly of Fowls.
19. French, "roche," a rock.
20. St. Thomas of Kent: Thomas a Beckett, whose shrine was
21. The half or side of the rock which was towards the poet,
was inscribed with, etc.
22. Cop: summit; German, "kopf"; the head.
23. Gestiours: tellers of stories; reciters of brave feats or
24. Arion: the celebrated Greek bard and citharist, who, in the
seventh century before Christ, lived at the court of Periander,
tyrant of Corinth. The story of his preservation by the dolphin,
when the covetous sailors forced him to leap into the sea, is
25. Chiron the Centaur was renowned for skill in music and the
arts, which he owed to the teaching of Apollo and Artemis. He
became in turn the instructor of Peleus, Achilles, and other
descendants of Aeacus; hence he is called "Aeacides" -- because
tutor to the Aeacides, and thus, so to speak, of that "family."
26. Glasgerion is the subject of a ballad given in "Percy's
Reliques," where we are told that
"Glasgerion was a king's own son,
And a harper he was good;
He harped in the king's chamber,
Where cup and candle stood."
27. Cornemuse: bagpipe; French, "cornemuse." Shawmies:
shalms or psalteries; an instrument resembling a harp.
28. Dulcet: a kind of pipe, probably corresponding with the
"dulcimer;" the idea of sweet -- French, "doux;" Latin, "dulcis"
-- is at the root of both words.
29. In the early printed editions of Chaucer, the two names are
"Citherus" and "Proserus;" in the manuscript which Mr Bell
followed (No. 16 in the Fairfax collection) they are "Atileris"
and "Pseustis." But neither alternative gives more than the
slightest clue to identification. "Citherus" has been retained in
the text; it may have been employed as an appellative of Apollo,
derived from "cithara," the instrument on which he played; and
it is not easy to suggest a better substitute for it than "Clonas" -
- an early Greek poet and musician who flourished six hundred
years before Christ. For "Proserus," however, has been
substituted "Pronomus," the name of a celebrated Grecian
player on the pipe, who taught Alcibiades the flute, and who
therefore, although Theban by birth, might naturally be said by
the poet to be "of Athens."
30. Marsyas: The Phrygian, who, having found the flute of
Athena, which played of itself most exquisite music, challenged
Apollo to a contest, the victor in which was to do with the
vanquished as he pleased. Marsyas was beaten, and Apollo
flayed him alive.
31. The German (Deutsche) language, in Chaucer's time, had
not undergone that marked literary division into German and
Dutch which was largely accomplished through the influence of
the works of Luther and the other Reformers. Even now, the
flute is the favourite musical instrument of the Fatherland; and
the devotion of the Germans to poetry and music has been
celebrated since the days of Tacitus.
32. Reyes: a kind of dance, or song to be accompanied with
33. Beam: horn, trumpet; Anglo-Saxon, "bema."
34. Messenus: Misenus, son of Aeolus, the companion and
trumpeter of Aeneas, was drowned near the Campanian
headland called Misenum after his name. (Aeneid, vi. 162 et
35. Joab's fame as a trumpeter is founded on two verses in 2
Samuel (ii. 28, xx. 22), where we are told that he "blew a
trumpet," which all the people of Israel obeyed, in the one case
desisting from a pursuit, in the other raising a siege.
36. Theodamas or Thiodamas, king of the Dryopes, plays a
prominent part in the tenth book of Statius' "Thebaid." Both he
and Joab are also mentioned as great trumpeters in The
37. Jongelours: jugglers; French, "jongleur."
38. Tregetours: tricksters, jugglers. For explanation of this
word, see note 14 to the Franklin's tale.
39. Pythonesses: women who, like the Pythia in Apollo's
temple at Delphi, were possessed with a spirit of divination or
prophecy. The barbarous Latin form of the word was
"Pythonissa" or "Phitonissa." See note 9 to the Friar's Tale.
40. Subfumigations: a ceremony employed to drive away evil
spirits by burning incense; the practice of smoking cattle, corn,
&c., has not died out in some country districts.
41. In certain ascendents: under certain planetary influences.
The next lines recall the alleged malpractices of witches, who
tortured little images of wax, in the design of causing the same
torments to the person represented -- or, vice versa, treated
these images for the cure of hurts or sickness.
42. Medea: celebrated for her magical power, through which
she restored to youth Aeson, the father of Jason; and caused the
death of Jason's wife, Creusa, by sending her a poisoned
garment which consumed her to ashes.
43. Circes: the sorceress Circe, who changed the companions of
Ulysses into swine.
44. Calypsa: Calypso, on whose island of Ogygia Ulysses was
wrecked. The goddess promised the hero immortality if he
remained with her; but he refused, and, after a detention of
seven years, she had to let him go.
45. Hermes Ballenus: this is supposed to mean Hermes
Trismegistus (of whom see note 19 to the Canon's Yeoman's
Tale); but the explanation of the word "Ballenus" is not quite
obvious. The god Hermes of the Greeks (Mercurius of the
Romans) had the surname "Cyllenius," from the mountain
where he was born -- Mount Cyllene, in Arcadia; and the
alteration into "Ballenus" would be quite within the range of a
copyist's capabilities, while we find in the mythological
character of Hermes enough to warrant his being classed with
jugglers and magicians.
46. Limote and Colle Tregetour seem to have been famous
sorcerers or jugglers, but nothing is now known of either.
47. Simon Magus: of whom we read in Acts viii. 9, et seqq.
48. "And made well more than it was
To seemen ev'rything, y-wis,
As kindly thing of Fame it is;"
i.e. It is in the nature of fame to exaggerate everything.
49. Corbets: the corbels, or capitals of pillars in a Gothic
building; they were often carved with fantastic figures and
50. A largess!: the cry with which heralds and pursuivants at a
tournament acknowledged the gifts or largesses of the knights
whose achievements they celebrated.
51. Nobles: gold coins of exceptional fineness. Sterlings:
sterling coins; not "luxemburgs", but stamped and authorised
money. See note 9 to the Miller's Tale and note 6 to the
Prologue to the Monk's tale.
52. Coat-armure: the sleeveless coat or "tabard," on which the
arms of the wearer or his lord were emblazoned.
53. "But for to prove in alle wise
As fine as ducat of Venise"
i.e. In whatever way it might be proved or tested, it would be
found as fine as a Venetian ducat.
54. Lapidaire: a treatise on precious stones.
55. See imperial: a seat placed on the dais, or elevated portion
of the hall at the upper end, where the lord and the honoured
56. The starres seven: Septentrion; the Great Bear or Northern
Wain, which in this country appears to be at the top of heaven.
57. The Apocalypse: The last book of the New Testament, also
called Revelations. The four beasts are in chapter iv. 6.
58. "Oundy" is the French "ondoye," from "ondoyer," to
undulate or wave.
59. Partridges' wings: denoting swiftness.
60. Hercules lost his life with the poisoned shirt of Nessus, sent
to him by the jealous Dejanira.
61. Of the secte Saturnine: Of the Saturnine school; so called
because his history of the Jewish wars narrated many horrors,
cruelties, and sufferings, over which Saturn was the presiding
deity. See note 71 to the Knight's tale.
62. Compare the account of the "bodies seven" given by the
"Sol gold is, and Luna silver we threpe;
Mars iron, Mercury quicksilver we clepe;
Saturnus lead, and Jupiter is tin,
And Venus copper, by my father's kin."
63. Statius is called a "Tholosan," because by some, among
them Dante, he was believed to have been a native of Tolosa,
now Toulouse. He wrote the "Thebais," in twelve books, and
the "Achilleis," of which only two were finished.
64. Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis were the names
attached to histories of the Trojan War pretended to have been
written immediately after the fall of Troy.
65. Lollius: The unrecognisable author whom Chaucer
professes to follow in his "Troilus and Cressida," and who has
been thought to mean Boccaccio.
66. Guido de Colonna, or de Colempnis, was a native of
Messina, who lived about the end of the thirteenth century, and
wrote in Latin prose a history including the war of Troy.
67. English Gaufrid: Geoffrey of Monmouth, who drew from
Troy the original of the British race. See Spenser's "Faerie
Queen," book ii. canto x.
68. Lucan, in his "Pharsalia," a poem in ten books, recounted
the incidents of the war between Caesar and Pompey.
69. Claudian of Alexandria, "the most modern of the ancient
poets," lived some three centuries after Christ, and among other
works wrote three books on "The Rape of Proserpine."
70. Triton was a son of Poseidon or Neptune, and represented
usually as blowing a trumpet made of a conch or shell; he is
therefore introduced by Chaucer as the squire of Aeolus.
71. Sky: cloud; Anglo-Saxon, "scua;" Greek, "skia."
72. Los: reputation. See note 5 to Chaucer's Tale of Meliboeus.
73. Swart: black; German, "schwarz."
74. Tewell: the pipe, chimney, of the furnace; French "tuyau."
In the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, the Monk's head is
described as steaming like a lead furnace.
75. Tetches: blemishes, spots; French, "tache."
76. For the story of Belle Isaude see note 21 to the Assembly of
77. Quern: mill. See note 6 to the Monk's Tale.
78. To put an ape into one's hood, upon his head, is to befool
him; see the prologue to the Prioresses's Tale, l.6.
79. Obviously Chaucer should have said the temple of Diana, or
Artemis (to whom, as Goddess of the Moon, the Egyptian Isis
corresponded), at Ephesus. The building, famous for its
splendour, was set on fire, in B.C. 356, by Erostatus, merely
that he might perpetuate his name.
80. "Now do our los be blowen swithe,
As wisly be thou ever blithe." i.e.
Cause our renown to be blown abroad quickly, as surely as you
wish to be glad.
81. The Labyrinth at Cnossus in Crete, constructed by Dedalus
for the safe keeping of the Minotaur, the fruit of Pasiphae's
82. The river Oise, an affluent of the Seine, in France.
83. The engine: The machines for casting stones, which in
Chaucer time served the purpose of great artillery; they were
called "mangonells," "springolds," &c.; and resembled in
construction the "ballistae" and "catapultae" of the ancients.
84. Or it a furlong way was old: before it was older than the
space of time during which one might walk a furlong; a measure
of time often employed by Chaucer.
85. Shipmen and pilgrimes: sailors and pilgrims, who seem to
have in Chaucer's time amply warranted the proverbial
imputation against "travellers' tales."
86. Pardoners: of whom Chaucer, in the Prologue to The
Canterbury Tales, has given us no flattering typical portrait
87. Lath: barn; still used in Lincolnshire and some parts of the
north. The meaning is, that the poet need not tell what tidings
he wanted to hear, since everything of the kind must some day
come out -- as sooner or later every sheaf in the barn must be
brought forth (to be threshed).
88. A somewhat similar heaping-up of people is de scribed in
Spenser's account of the procession of Lucifera ("The Faerie
Queen," book i. canto iv.), where, as the royal dame passes to
"The heaps of people, thronging in the hall,
Do ride each other, upon her to gaze."
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
[In several respects, the story of "Troilus and Cressida" may be
regarded as Chaucer's noblest poem. Larger in scale than any
other of his individual works -- numbering nearly half as many
lines as The Canterbury Tales contain, without reckoning the
two in prose -- the conception of the poem is yet so closely and
harmoniously worked out, that all the parts are perfectly
balanced, and from first to last scarcely a single line is
superfluous or misplaced. The finish and beauty of the poem as
a work of art, are not more conspicuous than the knowledge of
human nature displayed in the portraits of the principal
characters. The result is, that the poem is more modern, in form
and in spirit, than almost any other work of its author; the
chaste style and sedulous polish of the stanzas admit of easy
change into the forms of speech now current in England; while
the analytical and subjective character of the work gives it, for
the nineteenth century reader, an interest of the same kind as
that inspired, say, by George Eliot's wonderful study of
character in "Romola." Then, above all, "Troilus and Cressida"
is distinguished by a purity and elevation of moral tone, that
may surprise those who judge of Chaucer only by the coarse
traits of his time preserved in The Canterbury Tales, or who
may expect to find here the Troilus, the Cressida, and the
Pandarus of Shakspeare's play. It is to no trivial gallant, no
woman of coarse mind and easy virtue, no malignantly
subservient and utterly debased procurer, that Chaucer
introduces us. His Troilus is a noble, sensitive, generous, pure-
souled, manly, magnanimous hero, who is only confirmed and
stimulated in all virtue by his love, who lives for his lady, and
dies for her falsehood, in a lofty and chivalrous fashion. His
Cressida is a stately, self-contained, virtuous, tender-hearted
woman, who loves with all the pure strength and trustful
abandonment of a generous and exalted nature, and who is
driven to infidelity perhaps even less by pressure of
circumstances, than by the sheer force of her love, which will go
on loving -- loving what it can have, when that which it would
rather have is for the time unattainable. His Pandarus is a
gentleman, though a gentleman with a flaw in him; a man who,
in his courtier-like good-nature, places the claims of
comradeship above those of honour, and plots away the virtue
of his niece, that he may appease the love-sorrow of his friend;
all the time conscious that he is not acting as a gentleman
should, and desirous that others should give him that
justification which he can get but feebly and diffidently in
himself. In fact, the "Troilus and Cressida" of Chaucer is the
"Troilus and Cressida" of Shakespeare transfigured; the
atmosphere, the colour, the spirit, are wholly different; the older
poet presents us in the chief characters to noble natures, the
younger to ignoble natures in all the characters; and the poem
with which we have now to do stands at this day among the
noblest expositions of love's workings in the human heart and
life. It is divided into five books, containing altogether 8246
lines. The First Book (1092 lines) tells how Calchas, priest of
Apollo, quitting beleaguered Troy, left there his only daughter
Cressida; how Troilus, the youngest brother of Hector and son
of King Priam, fell in love with her at first sight, at a festival in
the temple of Pallas, and sorrowed bitterly for her love; and
how his friend, Cressida's uncle, Pandarus, comforted him by
the promise of aid in his suit. The Second Book (1757 lines)
relates the subtle manoeuvres of Pandarus to induce Cressida to
return the love of Troilus; which he accomplishes mainly by
touching at once the lady's admiration for his heroism, and her
pity for his love-sorrow on her account. The Third Book (1827
lines) opens with an account of the first interview between the
lovers; ere it closes, the skilful stratagems of Pandarus have
placed the pair in each other's arms under his roof, and the
lovers are happy in perfect enjoyment of each other's love and
trust. In the Fourth Book (1701 lines) the course of true love
ceases to run smooth; Cressida is compelled to quit the city, in
ransom for Antenor, captured in a skirmish; and she sadly
departs to the camp of the Greeks, vowing that she will make
her escape, and return to Troy and Troilus within ten days. The
Fifth Book (1869 lines) sets out by describing the court which
Diomedes, appointed to escort her, pays to Cressida on the way
to the camp; it traces her gradual progress from indifference to
her new suitor, to incontinence with him, and it leaves the
deserted Troilus dead on the field of battle, where he has sought
an eternal refuge from the new grief provoked by clear proof of
his mistress's infidelity. The polish, elegance, and power of the
style, and the acuteness of insight into character, which mark
the poem, seem to claim for it a date considerably later than that
adopted by those who assign its composition to Chaucer's
youth: and the literary allusions and proverbial expressions with
which it abounds, give ample evidence that, if Chaucer really
wrote it at an early age, his youth must have been precocious
beyond all actual record. Throughout the poem there are
repeated references to the old authors of Trojan histories who
are named in "The House of Fame"; but Chaucer especially
mentions one Lollius as the author from whom he takes the
groundwork of the poem. Lydgate is responsible for the
assertion that Lollius meant Boccaccio; and though there is no
authority for supposing that the English really meant to
designate the Italian poet under that name, there is abundant
internal proof that the poem was really founded on the
"Filostrato" of Boccaccio. But the tone of Chaucer's work is
much higher than that of his Italian "auctour;" and while in
some passages the imitation is very close, in all that is
characteristic in "Troilus and Cressida," Chaucer has fairly
thrust his models out of sight. In the present edition, it has been
possible to give no more than about one-fourth of the poem --
274 out of the 1178 seven-line stanzas that compose it; but
pains have been taken to convey, in the connecting prose
passages, a faithful idea of what is perforce omitted.]
THE FIRST BOOK.
THE double sorrow <1> of Troilus to tell,
That was the King Priamus' son of Troy,
In loving how his adventures* fell *fortunes
From woe to weal, and after* out of joy, *afterwards
My purpose is, ere I you parte froy.* *from
Tisiphone,<2> thou help me to indite
These woeful words, that weep as I do write.
To thee I call, thou goddess of torment!
Thou cruel wight, that sorrowest ever in pain;
Help me, that am the sorry instrument
That helpeth lovers, as I can, to plain.* *complain
For well it sits,* the soothe for to sayn, *befits
Unto a woeful wight a dreary fere,* *companion
And to a sorry tale a sorry cheer.* *countenance
For I, that God of Love's servants serve,
Nor dare to love for mine unlikeliness,* <3> *unsuitableness
Praye for speed,* although I shoulde sterve,** *success **die
So far I am from his help in darkness;
But natheless, might I do yet gladness
To any lover, or any love avail,* *advance
Have thou the thank, and mine be the travail.
But ye lovers that bathen in gladness,
If any drop of pity in you be,
Remember you for old past heaviness,
For Godde's love, and on adversity
That others suffer; think how sometime ye
Founde how Love durste you displease;
Or elles ye have won it with great ease.
And pray for them that been in the case
Of Troilus, as ye may after hear,
That Love them bring in heaven to solace;* *delight, comfort
And for me pray also, that God so dear
May give me might to show, in some mannere,
Such pain or woe as Love's folk endure,
In Troilus' *unseely adventure* *unhappy fortune*
And pray for them that eke be despair'd
In love, that never will recover'd be;
And eke for them that falsely be appair'd* *slandered
Through wicked tongues, be it he or she:
Or thus bid* God, for his benignity, *pray
To grant them soon out of this world to pace,* *pass, go
That be despaired of their love's grace.
And bid also for them that be at ease
In love, that God them grant perseverance,
And send them might their loves so to please,
That it to them be *worship and pleasance;* *honour and pleasure*
For so hope I my soul best to advance,
To pray for them that Love's servants be,
And write their woe, and live in charity;
And for to have of them compassion,
As though I were their owen brother dear.
Now listen all with good entention,* *attention
For I will now go straight to my mattere,
In which ye shall the double sorrow hear
Of Troilus, in loving of Cresside,
And how that she forsook him ere she died.
In Troy, during the siege, dwelt "a lord of great authority, a
great divine," named Calchas; who, through the oracle of
Apollo, knew that Troy should be destroyed. He stole away
secretly to the Greek camp, where he was gladly received, and
honoured for his skill in divining, of which the besiegers hoped
to make use. Within the city there was great anger at the
treason of Calchas; and the people declared that he and all his
kin were worthy to be burnt. His daughter, whom he had left in
the city, a widow and alone, was in great fear for her life.
Cressida was this lady's name aright;
*As to my doom,* in alle Troy city *in my judgment*
So fair was none, for over ev'ry wight
So angelic was her native beauty,
That like a thing immortal seemed she,
As sooth a perfect heav'nly creature,
That down seem'd sent in scorning of Nature.
In her distress, "well nigh out of her wit for pure fear," she
appealed for protection to Hector; who, "piteous of nature,"
and touched by her sorrow and her beauty, assured her of
safety, so long as she pleased to dwell in Troy. The siege went
on; but they of Troy did not neglect the honour and worship of
their deities; most of all of "the relic hight Palladion, <4> that
was their trust aboven ev'ry one." In April, "when clothed is the
mead with newe green, of jolly Ver [Spring] the prime," the
Trojans went to hold the festival of Palladion -- crowding to
the temple, "in all their beste guise," lusty knights, fresh ladies,
and maidens bright.
Among the which was this Cresseida,
In widow's habit black; but natheless,
Right as our firste letter is now A,
In beauty first so stood she makeless;* *matchless
Her goodly looking gladded all the press;* *crowd
Was never seen thing to be praised derre,* *dearer, more worthy
Nor under blacke cloud so bright a sterre,* *star
As she was, as they saiden, ev'ry one
That her behelden in her blacke weed;* *garment
And yet she stood, full low and still, alone,
Behind all other folk, *in little brede,* *inconspicuously*
And nigh the door, ay *under shame's drede;* *for dread of shame*
Simple of bearing, debonair* of cheer, *gracious
With a full sure* looking and mannere. *assured
Dan Troilus, as he was wont to guide
His younge knightes, led them up and down
In that large temple upon ev'ry side,
Beholding ay the ladies of the town;
Now here, now there, for no devotioun
Had he to none, to *reave him* his rest, *deprive him of*
But gan to *praise and lacke whom him lest;* *praise and disparage
whom he pleased*
And in his walk full fast he gan to wait* *watch, observe
If knight or squier of his company
Gan for to sigh, or let his eyen bait* *feed
On any woman that he could espy;
Then he would smile, and hold it a folly,
And say him thus: "Ah, Lord, she sleepeth soft
For love of thee, when as thou turnest oft.
"I have heard told, pardie, of your living,
Ye lovers, and your lewed* observance, *ignorant, foolish
And what a labour folk have in winning
Of love, and in it keeping with doubtance;* *doubt
And when your prey is lost, woe and penance;* *suffering
Oh, very fooles! may ye no thing see?
Can none of you aware by other be?"
But the God of Love vowed vengeance on Troilus for that
despite, and, showing that his bow was not broken, "hit him at
Within the temple went he forth playing,
This Troilus, with ev'ry wight about,
On this lady and now on that looking,
Whether she were of town, or *of without;* *from beyond the walls*
And *upon cas* befell, that through the rout* *by chance* *crowd
His eye pierced, and so deep it went,
Till on Cresside it smote, and there it stent;* *stayed
And suddenly wax'd wonder sore astoned,* *amazed
And gan her bet* behold in busy wise: *better
"Oh, very god!" <5> thought he; "where hast thou woned* *dwelt
That art so fair and goodly to devise?* *describe
Therewith his heart began to spread and rise;
And soft he sighed, lest men might him hear,
And caught again his former *playing cheer.* *jesting demeanour*
*She was not with the least of her stature,* *she was tall*
But all her limbes so well answering
Were to womanhood, that creature
Was never lesse mannish in seeming.
And eke *the pure wise of her moving* *by very the way
She showed well, that men might in her guess she moved*
Honour, estate,* and womanly nobless. *dignity
Then Troilus right wonder well withal
Began to like her moving and her cheer,* *countenance
Which somedeal dainous* was, for she let fall *disdainful
Her look a little aside, in such mannere
Ascaunce* "What! may I not stande here?" *as if to say <6>
And after that *her looking gan she light,* *her expression became
That never thought him see so good a sight. more pleasant*
And of her look in him there gan to quicken
So great desire, and strong affection,
That in his hearte's bottom gan to sticken
Of her the fix'd and deep impression;
And though he erst* had pored** up and down, *previously **looked
Then was he glad his hornes in to shrink;
Unnethes* wist he how to look or wink. *scarcely
Lo! he that held himselfe so cunning,
And scorned them that Love's paines drien,* *suffer
Was full unware that love had his dwelling
Within the subtile streames* of her eyen; *rays, glances
That suddenly he thought he felte dien,
Right with her look, the spirit in his heart;
Blessed be Love, that thus can folk convert!
She thus, in black, looking to Troilus,
Over all things he stoode to behold;
But his desire, nor wherefore he stood thus,
He neither *cheere made,* nor worde told; *showed by his countenance*
But from afar, *his manner for to hold,* *to observe due courtesy*
On other things sometimes his look he cast,
And eft* <7> on her, while that the service last.** *again **lasted
And after this, not fully all awhaped,* *daunted
Out of the temple all easily be went,
Repenting him that ever he had japed* *jested
Of Love's folk, lest fully the descent
Of scorn fell on himself; but what he meant,
Lest it were wist on any manner side,
His woe he gan dissemble and eke hide.
Returning to his palace, he begins hypocritically to smile and
jest at Love's servants and their pains; but by and by he has to
dismiss his attendants, feigning "other busy needs." Then, alone
in his chamber, he begins to groan and sigh, and call up again
Cressida's form as he saw her in the temple -- "making a mirror
of his mind, in which he saw all wholly her figure." He thinks no
travail or sorrow too high a price for the love of such a goodly
woman; and, "full unadvised of his woe coming,"
Thus took he purpose Love's craft to sue,* *follow
And thought that he would work all privily,
First for to hide his desire all *in mew* *in a cage, secretly
From every wight y-born, all utterly,
*But he might aught recover'd be thereby;* *unless he gained by it*
Rememb'ring him, that love *too wide y-blow* *too much spoken of*
Yields bitter fruit, although sweet seed be sow.
And, over all this, muche more he thought
What thing to speak, and what to holden in;
And what to arten* her to love, he sought; *constrain <8>
And on a song anon right to begin,
And gan loud on his sorrow for to win;* *overcome
For with good hope he gan thus to assent* *resolve
Cressida for to love, and not repent.
The Song of Troilus. <9>
"If no love is, O God! why feel I so?
And if love is, what thing and which is he?
If love be good, from whence cometh my woe?
If it be wick', a wonder thinketh me
Whence ev'ry torment and adversity
That comes of love *may to me savoury think:* *seem acceptable to me*
For more I thirst the more that I drink.
"And if I *at mine owen luste bren* *burn by my own will*
From whence cometh my wailing and my plaint?
If maugre me,<10> *whereto plain I* then? *to what avail do I complain?*
I wot ner* why, unweary, that I faint. *neither
O quicke death! O sweete harm so quaint!* *strange
How may I see in me such quantity,
But if that I consent that so it be?
"And if that I consent, I wrongfully
Complain y-wis: thus pushed to and fro,
All starreless within a boat am I,
Middes the sea, betwixte windes two,
That in contrary standen evermo'.
Alas! what wonder is this malady! --
For heat of cold, for cold of heat, I die!"
Devoting himself wholly to the thought of Cressida -- though he
yet knew not whether she was woman or goddess -- Troilus, in
spite of his royal blood, became the very slave of love. He set at
naught every other charge, but to gaze on her as often as he
could; thinking so to appease his hot fire, which thereby only
burned the hotter. He wrought marvellous feats of arms against
the Greeks, that she might like him the better for his renown;
then love deprived him of sleep, and made his food his foe; till
he had to "borrow a title of other sickness," that men might not
know he was consumed with love. Meantime, Cressida gave no
sign that she heeded his devotion, or even knew of it; and he
was now consumed with a new fear -- lest she loved some other
man. Bewailing his sad lot -- ensnared, exposed to the scorn of
those whose love he had ridiculed, wishing himself arrived at
the port of death, and praying ever that his lady might glad him
with some kind look -- Troilus is surprised in his chamber by his
friend Pandarus, the uncle of Cressida. Pandarus, seeking to
divert his sorrow by making him angry, jeeringly asks whether
remorse of conscience, or devotion, or fear of the Greeks, has
caused all this ado. Troilus pitifully beseeches his friend to leave
him to die alone, for die he must, from a cause which he must
keep hidden; but Pandarus argues against Troilus' cruelty in
hiding from a friend such a sorrow, and Troilus at last confesses
that his malady is love. Pandarus suggests that the beloved
object may be such that his counsel might advance his friend's
desires; but Troilus scouts the suggestion, saying that Pandarus
could never govern himself in love.
"Yea, Troilus, hearken to me," quoth Pandare,
"Though I be nice;* it happens often so, *foolish
That one that access* doth full evil fare, *in an access of fever
By good counsel can keep his friend therefro'.
I have my selfe seen a blind man go
Where as he fell that looke could full wide;
A fool may eke a wise man often guide.
"A whetstone is no carving instrument,
But yet it maketh sharpe carving tooles;
And, if thou know'st that I have aught miswent,* *erred, failed
Eschew thou that, for such thing to thee school* is. *schooling, lesson
Thus oughte wise men to beware by fooles;
If so thou do, thy wit is well bewared;
By its contrary is everything declared.
"For how might ever sweetness have been know
To him that never tasted bitterness?
And no man knows what gladness is, I trow,
That never was in sorrow or distress:
Eke white by black, by shame eke worthiness,
Each set by other, *more for other seemeth,* *its quality is made
As men may see; and so the wise man deemeth." more obvious by
Troilus, however, still begs his friend to leave him to mourn in
peace, for all his proverbs can avail nothing. But Pandarus
insists on plying the lover with wise saws, arguments,
reproaches; hints that, if he should die of love, his lady may
impute his death to fear of the Greeks; and finally induces
Troilus to admit that the well of all his woe, his sweetest foe, is
called Cressida. Pandarus breaks into praises of the lady, and
congratulations of his friend for so well fixing his heart; he
makes Troilus utter a formal confession of his sin in jesting at
lovers and bids him think well that she of whom rises all his
woe, hereafter may his comfort be also.
"For thilke* ground, that bears the weedes wick' *that same
Bears eke the wholesome herbes, and full oft
Next to the foule nettle, rough and thick,
The lily waxeth,* white, and smooth, and soft; *grows
And next the valley is the hill aloft,
And next the darke night is the glad morrow,
And also joy is next the fine* of sorrow." *end, border
Pandarus holds out to Troilus good hope of achieving his
desire; and tells him that, since he has been converted from his
wicked rebellion against Love, he shall be made the best post of
all Love's law, and most grieve Love's enemies. Troilus gives
utterance to a hint of fear; but he is silenced by Pandarus with
another proverb -- "Thou hast full great care, lest that the carl
should fall out of the moon." Then the lovesick youth breaks
into a joyous boast that some of the Greeks shall smart; he
mounts his horse, and plays the lion in the field; while Pandarus
retires to consider how he may best recommend to his niece the
suit of Troilus.
THE SECOND BOOK.
IN the Proem to the Second Book, the poet hails the clear
weather that enables him to sail out of those black waves in
which his boat so laboured that he could scarcely steer -- that is,
"the tempestuous matter of despair, that Troilus was in; but
now of hope the kalendes begin." He invokes the aid of Clio;
excuses himself to every lover for what may be found amiss in a
book which he only translates; and, obviating any lover's
objection to the way in which Troilus obtained his lady's grace -
- through Pandarus' mediation -- says it seems to him no
"For ev'ry wighte that to Rome went
Held not one path, nor alway one mannere;
Eke in some lands were all the game y-shent
If that men far'd in love as men do here,
As thus, in open dealing and in cheer,
In visiting, in form, or saying their saws;* *speeches
For thus men say: Each country hath its laws.
"Eke scarcely be there in this place three
That have in love done or said *like in all;"* *alike in all respects*
And so that which the poem relates may not please the reader --
but it actually was done, or it shall yet be done. The Book sets
out with the visit of Pandarus to Cressida:--
In May, that mother is of monthes glade,* *glad
When all the freshe flowers, green and red,
Be quick* again, that winter deade made, *alive
And full of balm is floating ev'ry mead;
When Phoebus doth his brighte beames spread
Right in the white Bull, so it betid* *happened
As I shall sing, on Maye's day the thrid, <11>
That Pandarus, for all his wise speech,
Felt eke his part of Love's shottes keen,
That, could he ne'er so well of Love preach,
It made yet his hue all day full green;* *pale
So *shope it,* that him fell that day a teen* *it happened* *access
In love, for which full woe to bed he went,
And made ere it were day full many a went.* *turning <12>
The swallow Progne, <13> with a sorrowful lay,
When morrow came, gan make her waimenting,* *lamenting
Why she foshapen* was; and ever lay *transformed
Pandare a-bed, half in a slumbering,
Till she so nigh him made her chittering,
How Tereus gan forth her sister take,
That with the noise of her he did awake,
And gan to call, and dress* him to arise, *prepare
Rememb'ring him his errand was to do'n
From Troilus, and eke his great emprise;
And cast, and knew in *good plight* was the Moon *favourable aspect*
To do voyage, and took his way full soon
Unto his niece's palace there beside
Now Janus, god of entry, thou him guide!
Pandarus finds his niece, with two other ladies, in a paved
parlour, listening to a maiden who reads aloud the story of the
Siege of Thebes. Greeting the company, he is welcomed by
Cressida, who tells him that for three nights she has dreamed of
him. After some lively talk about the book they had been
reading, Pandarus asks his niece to do away her hood, to show
her face bare, to lay aside the book, to rise up and dance, "and
let us do to May some observance." Cressida cries out, "God
forbid!" and asks if he is mad -- if that is a widow's life, whom it
better becomes to sit in a cave and read of holy saints' lives.
Pandarus intimates that he could tell her something which could
make her merry; but he refuses to gratify her curiosity; and, by
way of the siege and of Hector, "that was the towne's wall, and
Greekes' yerd" or scourging-rod, the conversation is brought
round to Troilus, whom Pandarus highly extols as "the wise
worthy Hector the second." She has, she says, already heard
Troilus praised for his bravery "of them that her were liefest
praised be" [by whom it would be most welcome to her to be
"Ye say right sooth, y-wis," quoth Pandarus;
For yesterday, who so had with him been,
Might have wonder'd upon Troilus;
For never yet so thick a swarm of been* *bees
Ne flew, as did of Greekes from him flee'n;
And through the field, in ev'ry wighte's ear,
There was no cry but 'Troilus is here.'
"Now here, now there, he hunted them so fast,
There was but Greekes' blood; and Troilus
Now him he hurt, now him adown he cast;
Ay where he went it was arrayed thus:
He was their death, and shield of life for us,
That as that day there durst him none withstand,
While that he held his bloody sword in hand."
Pandarus makes now a show of taking leave, but Cressida
detains him, to speak of her affairs; then, the business talked
over, he would again go, but first again asks his niece to arise
and dance, and cast her widow's garments to mischance,
because of the glad fortune that has befallen her. More curious
than ever, she seeks to find out Pandarus' secret; but he still
parries her curiosity, skilfully hinting all the time at her good
fortune, and the wisdom of seizing on it when offered. In the
end he tells her that the noble Troilus so loves her, that with her
it lies to make him live or die -- but if Troilus dies, Pandarus
shall die with him; and then she will have "fished fair." <14> He
beseeches mercy for his friend:
"*Woe worth* the faire gemme virtueless! <15> *evil befall!*
Woe worth the herb also that *doth no boot!* *has no remedial power*
Woe worth the beauty that is rutheless!* *merciless
Woe worth that wight that treads each under foot!
And ye that be of beauty *crop and root* *perfection <16>
If therewithal in you there be no ruth,* *pity
Then is it harm ye live, by my truth!"
Pandarus makes only the slight request that she will show
Troilus somewhat better cheer, and receive visits from him, that
his life may be saved; urging that, although a man be soon going
to the temple, nobody will think that he eats the images; and
that "such love of friends reigneth in all this town."
Cressida, which that heard him in this wise,
Thought: "I shall feele* what he means, y-wis;" *test
"Now, eme* quoth she, "what would ye me devise? *uncle
What is your rede* that I should do of this?" *counsel, opinion
"That is well said," quoth he;" certain best it is
That ye him love again for his loving,
As love for love is *skilful guerdoning.* *reasonable recompense*
"Think eke how elde* wasteth ev'ry hour *age
In each of you a part of your beauty;
And therefore, ere that age do you devour,
Go love, for, old, there will no wight love thee
Let this proverb a lore* unto you be: *lesson
'"Too late I was ware," quoth beauty when it past;
And *elde daunteth danger* at the last.' *old age overcomes disdain*
"The kinge's fool is wont to cry aloud,
When that he thinks a woman bears her high,
'So longe may ye liven, and all proud,
Till crowes' feet be wox* under your eye! *grown
And send you then a mirror *in to pry* *to look in*
In which ye may your face see a-morrow!* *in the morning
*I keep then wishe you no more sorrow.'"* *I care to wish you
Weeping, Cressida reproaches her uncle for giving her such
counsel; whereupon Pandarus, starting up, threatens to kill
himself, and would fain depart, but that his niece detains him,
and, with much reluctance, promises to "make Troilus good
cheer in honour." Invited by Cressida to tell how first he know
her lover's woe, Pandarus then relates two soliloquies which he
had accidentally overheard, and in which Troilus had poured
out all the sorrow of his passion.
With this he took his leave, and home he went
Ah! Lord, so was he glad and well-begone!* *happy
Cresside arose, no longer would she stent,* *stay
But straight into her chamber went anon,
And sat her down, as still as any stone,
And ev'ry word gan up and down to wind
That he had said, as it came to her mind.
And wax'd somedeal astonish'd in her thought,
Right for the newe case; but when that she
*Was full advised,* then she found right naught *had fully considered*
Of peril, why she should afeared be:
For a man may love, of possibility,
A woman so, that his heart may to-brest,* *break utterly
And she not love again, *but if her lest.* *unless it so please her*
But as she sat alone, and thoughte thus,
In field arose a skirmish all without;
And men cried in the street then:"
Troilus hath right now put to flight the Greekes' rout."* *host
With that gan all the meinie* for to shout: *(Cressida's) household
"Ah! go we see, cast up the lattice wide,
For through this street he must to palace ride;
"For other way is from the gates none,
Of Dardanus,<18> where open is the chain." <19>
With that came he, and all his folk anon,
An easy pace riding, in *routes twain,* *two troops*
Right as his *happy day* was, sooth to sayn: *good fortune <20>*
For which men say may not disturbed be
What shall betiden* of necessity. *happen
This Troilus sat upon his bay steed
All armed, save his head, full richely,
And wounded was his horse, and gan to bleed,
For which he rode a pace full softely
But such a knightly sighte* truly *aspect
As was on him, was not, withoute fail,
To look on Mars, that god is of Battaile.
So like a man of armes, and a knight,
He was to see, full fill'd of high prowess;
For both he had a body, and a might
To do that thing, as well as hardiness;* *courage
And eke to see him in his gear* him dress, *armour
So fresh, so young, so wieldy* seemed he, *active
It was a heaven on him for to see.* *look
His helmet was to-hewn in twenty places,
That by a tissue* hung his back behind; *riband
His shield to-dashed was with swords and maces,
In which men might many an arrow find,
That thirled* had both horn, and nerve, and rind; <21> *pierced
And ay the people cried, "Here comes our joy,
And, next his brother, <22> holder up of Troy."
For which he wax'd a little red for shame,
When he so heard the people on him cryen
That to behold it was a noble game,
How soberly he cast adown his eyen:
Cresside anon gan all his cheer espien,
And let it in her heart so softly sink,
That to herself she said, "Who gives me drink?"<23>
For of her owen thought she wax'd all red,
Rememb'ring her right thus: "Lo! this is he
Which that mine uncle swears he might be dead,
But* I on him have mercy and pity:" *unless
And with that thought for pure shame she
Gan in her head to pull, and that full fast,
While he and all the people forth by pass'd.
And gan to cast,* and rollen up and down *ponder
Within her thought his excellent prowess,
And his estate, and also his renown,
His wit, his shape, and eke his gentleness
But most her favour was, for his distress
Was all for her, and thought it were ruth
To slay such one, if that he meant but truth.
. . . . . . . . . .
And, Lord! so gan she in her heart argue
Of this mattere, of which I have you told
And what to do best were, and what t'eschew,
That plaited she full oft in many a fold.<24>
Now was her hearte warm, now was it cold.
And what she thought of, somewhat shall I write,
As to mine author listeth to endite.
She thoughte first, that Troilus' person
She knew by sight, and eke his gentleness;
And saide thus: *"All were it not to do'n,'* *although it were
To grant him love, yet for the worthiness impossible*
It were honour, with play* and with gladness, *pleasing entertainment
In honesty with such a lord to deal,
For mine estate,* and also for his heal.** *reputation **health
"Eke well I wot* my kinge's son is he; *know
And, since he hath to see me such delight,
If I would utterly his sighte flee,
Parauntre* he might have me in despite, *peradventure
Through which I mighte stand in worse plight. <25>
Now were I fool, me hate to purchase* *obtain for myself
Withoute need, where I may stand in grace,* *favour
"In ev'rything, I wot, there lies measure;* *a happy medium
For though a man forbidde drunkenness,
He not forbids that ev'ry creature
Be drinkeless for alway, as I guess;
Eke, since I know for me is his distress,
I oughte not for that thing him despise,
Since it is so he meaneth in good wise.
"Now set a case, that hardest is, y-wis,
Men mighte deeme* that he loveth me; *believe
What dishonour were it unto me, this?
May I *him let of* that? Why, nay, pardie! *prevent him from*
I know also, and alway hear and see,
Men love women all this town about;
Be they the worse? Why, nay, withoute doubt!
"Nor me to love a wonder is it not;
For well wot I myself, so God me speed! --
*All would I* that no man wist of this thought -- *although I would*
I am one of the fairest, without drede,* *doubt
And goodlieste, who so taketh heed;
And so men say in all the town of Troy;
What wonder is, though he on me have joy?
"I am mine owen woman, well at ease,
I thank it God, as after mine estate,
Right young, and stand untied in *lusty leas,* *pleasant leash
Withoute jealousy, or such debate: (of love)*
Shall none husband say to me checkmate;
For either they be full of jealousy,
Or masterful, or love novelty.
"What shall I do? to what fine* live I thus? *end
Shall I not love, in case if that me lest?
What? pardie! I am not religious;<26>
And though that I mine hearte set at rest
And keep alway mine honour and my name,
By all right I may do to me no shame."
But right as when the sunne shineth bright
In March, that changeth oftentime his face,
And that a cloud is put with wind to flight,
Which overspreads the sun as for a space;
A cloudy thought gan through her hearte pace,* *pass
That overspread her brighte thoughtes all,
So that for fear almost she gan to fall.
The cloudy thought is of the loss of liberty and security, the
stormy life, and the malice of wicked tongues, that love entails:
[But] after that her thought began to clear,
And saide, "He that nothing undertakes
Nothing achieveth, be him *loth or dear."* *unwilling or desirous*
And with another thought her hearte quakes;
Then sleepeth hope, and after dread awakes,
Now hot, now cold; but thus betwixt the tway* *two
She rist* her up, and wente forth to play.** *rose **take recreation
Adown the stair anon right then she went
Into a garden, with her nieces three,
And up and down they made many a went,* *winding, turn <12>
Flexippe and she, Tarke, Antigone,
To playe, that it joy was for to see;
And other of her women, a great rout,* *troop
Her follow'd in the garden all about.
This yard was large, and railed the alleys,
And shadow'd well with blossomy boughes green,
And benched new, and sanded all the ways,
In which she walked arm and arm between;
Till at the last Antigone the sheen* *bright, lovely
Gan on a Trojan lay to singe clear,
That it a heaven was her voice to hear.
Antigone's song is of virtuous love for a noble object; and it is
singularly fitted to deepen the impression made on the mind of
Cressida by the brave aspect of Troilus, and by her own
cogitations. The singer, having praised the lover and rebuked
the revilers of love, proceeds:
"What is the Sunne worse of his *kind right,* *true nature*
Though that a man, for feebleness of eyen,
May not endure to see on it for bright? <27>
Or Love the worse, tho' wretches on it cryen?
No weal* is worth, that may no sorrow drien;** <28> *happiness **endure
And forthy,* who that hath a head of verre,** *therefore **glass <29>
From cast of stones ware him in the werre. <30>
"But I, with all my heart and all my might,
As I have lov'd, will love unto my last
My deare heart, and all my owen knight,
In which my heart y-growen is so fast,
And his in me, that it shall ever last
*All dread I* first to love him begin, *although I feared*
Now wot I well there is no pain therein."
Cressida sighs, and asks Antigone whether there is such bliss
among these lovers, as they can fair endite; Antigone replies
confidently in the affirmative; and Cressida answers nothing,
"but every worde which she heard she gan to printen in her
hearte fast." Night draws on:
The daye's honour, and the heaven's eye,
The nighte's foe, -- all this call I the Sun, --
Gan westren* fast, and downward for to wry,** *go west <31> **turn
As he that had his daye's course y-run;
And white thinges gan to waxe dun
For lack of light, and starres to appear;
Then she and all her folk went home in fere.* *in company
So, when it liked her to go to rest,
And voided* were those that voiden ought, *gone out (of the house)
She saide, that to sleepe well her lest.* *pleased
Her women soon unto her bed her brought;
When all was shut, then lay she still and thought
Of all these things the manner and the wise;
Rehearse it needeth not, for ye be wise.
A nightingale upon a cedar green,
Under the chamber wall where as she lay,
Full loude sang against the moone sheen,
Parauntre,* in his birde's wise, a lay *perchance
Of love, that made her hearte fresh and gay;
Hereat hark'd* she so long in good intent, *listened
Till at the last the deade sleep her hent.* *seized
And as she slept, anon right then *her mette* *she dreamed*
How that an eagle, feather'd white as bone,
Under her breast his longe clawes set,
And out her heart he rent, and that anon,
And did* his heart into her breast to go'n, *caused
Of which no thing she was *abash'd nor smert;* *amazed nor hurt*
And forth he flew, with hearte left for heart.
Leaving Cressida to sleep, the poet returns to Troilus and his
zealous friend -- with whose stratagems to bring the two lovers
together the remainder of the Second Book is occupied.
Pandarus counsels Troilus to write a letter to his mistress,
telling her how he "fares amiss," and "beseeching her of ruth;"
he will bear the letter to his niece; and, if Troilus will ride past
Cressida's house, he will find his mistress and his friend sitting
at a window. Saluting Pandarus, and not tarrying, his passage
will give occasion for some talk of him, which may make his
ears glow. With respect to the letter, Pandarus gives some
"Touching thy letter, thou art wise enough,
I wot thou *n'ilt it dignely endite* *wilt not write it haughtily*
Or make it with these argumentes tough,
Nor scrivener-like, nor craftily it write;
Beblot it with thy tears also a lite;* *little
And if thou write a goodly word all soft,
Though it be good, rehearse it not too oft.
"For though the beste harper *pon live* *alive
Would on the best y-sounded jolly harp
That ever was, with all his fingers five
Touch ay one string, or *ay one warble harp,* *always play one tune*
Were his nailes pointed ne'er so sharp,
He shoulde maken ev'ry wight to dull* *to grow bored
To hear his glee, and of his strokes full.
"Nor jompre* eke no discordant thing y-fere,** *jumble **together
As thus, to use termes of physic;
In love's termes hold of thy mattere
The form alway, and *do that it be like;* *make it consistent*
For if a painter woulde paint a pike
With ass's feet, and head it as an ape,<32>
It *'cordeth not,* so were it but a jape." *is not harmonious*
Troilus writes the letter, and next morning Pandarus bears it to
Cressida. She refuses to receive "scrip or bill that toucheth such
mattere;" but he thrusts it into her bosom, challenging her to
throw it away. She retains it, takes the first opportunity of
escaping to her chamber to read it, finds it wholly good, and,
under her uncle's dictation, endites a reply telling her lover that
she will not make herself bound in love; "but as his sister, him
to please, she would aye fain [be glad] to do his heart an ease."
Pandarus, under pretext of inquiring who is the owner of the
house opposite, has gone to the window; Cressida takes her
letter to him there, and tells him that she never did a thing with
more pain than write the words to which he had constrained
her. As they sit side by side, on a stone of jasper, on a cushion
of beaten gold, Troilus rides by, in all his goodliness. Cressida
waxes "as red as rose," as she sees him salute humbly, "with
dreadful cheer, and oft his hues mue [change];" she likes "all
y-fere, his person, his array, his look, his cheer, his goodly
manner, and his gentleness;" so that, however she may have
been before, "to goode hope now hath she caught a thorn, she
shall not pull it out this nexte week." Pandarus, striking the iron
when it is hot, asks his niece to grant Troilus an interview; but
she strenuously declines, for fear of scandal, and because it is all
too soon to allow him so great a liberty -- her purpose being to
love him unknown of all, "and guerdon [reward] him with
nothing but with sight." Pandarus has other intentions; and,
while Troilus writes daily letters with increasing love, he
contrives the means of an interview. Seeking out Deiphobus,
the brother of Troilus, he tells him that Cressida is in danger of
violence from Polyphete, and asks protection for her.
Deiphobus gladly complies, promises the protection of Hector
and Helen, and goes to invite Cressida to dinner on the morrow.
Meantime Pandarus instructs Troilus to go to the house of
Deiphobus, plead an access of his fever for remaining all night,
and keep his chamber next day. "Lo," says the crafty promoter
of love, borrowing a phrase from the hunting-field; "Lo, hold
thee at thy tristre [tryst <33>] close, and I shall well the deer
unto thy bowe drive." Unsuspicious of stratagem, Cressida
comes to dinner; and at table, Helen, Pandarus, and others,
praise the absent Troilus, until "her heart laughs" for very pride
that she has the love of such a knight. After dinner they speak
of Cressida's business; all confirm Deiphobus' assurances of
protection and aid; and Pandarus suggests that, since Troilus is
there, Cressida shall herself tell him her case. Helen and
Deiphobus alone accompany Pandarus to Troilus' chamber;
there Troilus produces some documents relating to the public
weal, which Hector has sent for his opinion; Helen and
Deiphobus, engrossed in perusal and discussion, roam out of
the chamber, by a stair, into the garden; while Pandarus goes
down to the hall, and, pretending that his brother and Helen are
still with Troilus, brings Cressida to her lover. The Second
Book leaves Pandarus whispering in his niece's ear counsel to
be merciful and kind to her lover, that hath for her such pain;
while Troilus lies "in a kankerdort," <34> hearing the
whispering without, and wondering what he shall say for this
"was the first time that he should her pray of love; O! mighty
God! what shall he say?"
THE THIRD BOOK.
To the Third Book is prefixed a beautiful invocation of Venus,
under the character of light:
O Blissful light, of which the beames clear
Adornen all the thirde heaven fair!
O Sunne's love, O Jove's daughter dear!
Pleasance of love, O goodly debonair,* *lovely and gracious*
In gentle heart ay* ready to repair!** *always **enter and abide
O very* cause of heal** and of gladness, *true **welfare
Y-heried* be thy might and thy goodness! *praised
In heav'n and hell, in earth and salte sea.
Is felt thy might, if that I well discern;
As man, bird, beast, fish, herb, and greene tree,
They feel in times, with vapour etern, <35>
God loveth, and to love he will not wern forbid
And in this world no living creature
Withoute love is worth, or may endure. <36>
Ye Jove first to those effectes glad,
Through which that thinges alle live and be,
Commended; and him amorous y-made
Of mortal thing; and as ye list,* ay ye *pleased
Gave him, in love, ease* or adversity, *pleasure
And in a thousand formes down him sent
For love in earth; and *whom ye list he hent.* *he seized whom you
Ye fierce Mars appeasen of his ire,
And as you list ye make heartes dign* <37> *worthy
Algates* them that ye will set afire, *at all events
They dreade shame, and vices they resign
Ye do* him courteous to be, and benign; *make, cause
And high or low, after* a wight intendeth, *according as
The joyes that he hath your might him sendeth.
Ye holde realm and house in unity;
Ye soothfast* cause of friendship be also; *true
Ye know all thilke *cover'd quality* *secret power*
Of thinges which that folk on wonder so,
When they may not construe how it may go
She loveth him, or why he loveth her,
As why this fish, not that, comes to the weir.*<38> *fish-trap
Knowing that Venus has set a law in the universe, that whoso
strives with her shall have the worse, the poet prays to be
taught to describe some of the joy that is felt in her service; and
the Third Book opens with an account of the scene between
Troilus and Cressida:
Lay all this meane while Troilus
Recording* his lesson in this mannere; *memorizing
*"My fay!"* thought he, "thus will I say, and thus; *by my faith!*
Thus will I plain* unto my lady dear; *make my plaint
That word is good; and this shall be my cheer
This will I not forgetten in no wise;"
God let him worken as he can devise.
And, Lord! so as his heart began to quap,* *quake, pant
Hearing her coming, and *short for to sike;* *make short sighs*
And Pandarus, that led her by the lap,* *skirt
Came near, and gan in at the curtain pick,* *peep
And saide: "God do boot* alle sick! *afford a remedy to
See who is here you coming to visite;
Lo! here is she that is *your death to wite!"* *to blame for your death*
Therewith it seemed as he wept almost.
"Ah! ah! God help!" quoth Troilus ruefully;
"Whe'er* me be woe, O mighty God, thou know'st! *whether
Who is there? for I see not truely."
"Sir," quoth Cresside, "it is Pandare and I;
"Yea, sweete heart? alas, I may not rise
To kneel and do you honour in some wise."
And dressed him upward, and she right tho* *then
Gan both her handes soft upon him lay.
"O! for the love of God, do ye not so
To me," quoth she; "ey! what is this to say?
For come I am to you for causes tway;* *two
First you to thank, and of your lordship eke
Continuance* I woulde you beseek."** *protection **beseech
This Troilus, that heard his lady pray
Him of lordship, wax'd neither quick nor dead;
Nor might one word for shame to it say, <39>
Although men shoulde smiten off his head.
But, Lord! how he wax'd suddenly all red!
And, Sir, his lesson, that he *ween'd have con,* *thought he knew
To praye her, was through his wit y-run. by heart*
Cresside all this espied well enow, --
For she was wise, -- and lov'd him ne'er the less,
All n'ere he malapert, nor made avow,
Nor was so bold to sing a foole's mass;<40>
But, when his shame began somewhat to pass,
His wordes, as I may my rhymes hold,
I will you tell, as teache bookes old.
In changed voice, right for his very dread,
Which voice eke quak'd, and also his mannere
Goodly* abash'd, and now his hue is red, *becomingly
Now pale, unto Cresside, his lady dear,
With look downcast, and humble *yielden cheer,* *submissive face*
Lo! *altherfirste word that him astert,* *the first word he said*
Was twice: "Mercy, mercy, my dear heart!"
And stent* a while; and when he might *out bring,* *stopped *speak*
The nexte was: "God wote, for I have,
*As farforthly as I have conning,* *as far as I am able*
Been youres all, God so my soule save,
And shall, till that I, woeful wight, *be grave;* *die*
And though I dare not, cannot, to you plain,
Y-wis, I suffer not the lesse pain.
"This much as now, O womanlike wife!
I may *out bring,* and if it you displease, *speak out*
That shall I wreak* upon mine owne life, *avenge
Right soon, I trow, and do your heart an ease,
If with my death your heart I may appease:
But, since that ye have heard somewhat say,
Now reck I never how soon that I dey." *die
Therewith his manly sorrow to behold
It might have made a heart of stone to rue;
And Pandare wept as he to water wo'ld, <41>
And saide, "Woe-begone* be heartes true," *in woeful plight
And procur'd* his niece ever new and new, *urged
"For love of Godde, make *of him an end,* *put him out of pain*
Or slay us both at ones, ere we wend."* *go
"Ey! what?" quoth she; "by God and by my truth,
I know not what ye woulde that I say;"
"Ey! what?" quoth he; "that ye have on him ruth,* *pity
For Godde's love, and do him not to dey." *die
"Now thenne thus," quoth she, "I would him pray
To telle me the *fine of his intent;* *end of his desire*
Yet wist* I never well what that he meant." *knew
"What that I meane, sweete hearte dear?"
Quoth Troilus, "O goodly, fresh, and free!
That, with the streames* of your eyne so clear, *beams, glances
Ye woulde sometimes *on me rue and see,* *take pity and look on me*
And then agreen* that I may be he, *take in good part
Withoute branch of vice, in any wise,
In truth alway to do you my service,
"As to my lady chief, and right resort,
With all my wit and all my diligence;
And for to have, right as you list, comfort;
Under your yerd,* equal to mine offence, *rod, chastisement
As death, if that *I breake your defence;* *do what you
And that ye deigne me so much honour, forbid <42>*
Me to commanden aught in any hour.
"And I to be your very humble, true,
Secret, and in my paines patient,
And evermore desire, freshly new,
To serven, and be alike diligent,
And, with good heart, all wholly your talent
Receive in gree,* how sore that me smart; *gladness
Lo, this mean I, mine owen sweete heart."
. . . . . . . . . .
With that she gan her eyen on him* cast, <43> *Pandarus
Full easily and full debonairly,* *graciously
*Advising her,* and hied* not too fast, *considering* **went
With ne'er a word, but said him softely,
"Mine honour safe, I will well truely,
And in such form as ye can now devise,
Receive him* fully to my service; *Troilus
"Beseeching him, for Godde's love, that he
Would, in honour of truth and gentleness,
As I well mean, eke meane well to me;
And mine honour, with *wit and business,* *wisdom and zeal*
Aye keep; and if I may do him gladness,
From henceforth, y-wis I will not feign:
Now be all whole, no longer do ye plain.
"But, natheless, this warn I you," quoth she,
"A kinge's son although ye be, y-wis,
Ye shall no more have sovereignety
Of me in love, than right in this case is;
Nor will I forbear, if ye do amiss,
To wrathe* you, and, while that ye me serve, *be angry with, chide
To cherish you, *right after ye deserve.* *as you deserve*
"And shortly, deare heart, and all my knight,
Be glad, and drawe you to lustiness,* *pleasure
And I shall truely, with all my might,
Your bitter turnen all to sweeteness;
If I be she that may do you gladness,
For ev'ry woe ye shall recover a bliss:"
And him in armes took, and gan him kiss.
Pandarus, almost beside himself for joy, falls on his knees to
thank Venus and Cupid, declaring that for this miracle he hears
all the bells ring; then, with a warning to be ready at his call to
meet at his house, he parts the lovers, and attends Cressida
while she takes leave of the household -- Troilus all the time
groaning at the deceit practised on his brother and Helen. When
he has got rid of them by feigning weariness, Pandarus returns
to the chamber, and spends the night with him in converse. The
zealous friend begins to speak "in a sober wise" to Troilus,
reminding him of his love-pains now all at an end.
"So that through me thou standest now in way
To fare well; I say it for no boast;
And know'st thou why? For, shame it is to say,
For thee have I begun a game to play,
Which that I never shall do eft* for other,** *again **another
Although he were a thousand fold my brother.
"That is to say, for thee I am become,
Betwixte game and earnest, such a mean* *means, instrument
As make women unto men to come;
Thou know'st thyselfe what that woulde mean;
For thee have I my niece, of vices clean,* *pure, devoid
So fully made thy gentleness* to trust, *nobility of nature
That all shall be right *as thyselfe lust.* *as you please*
"But God, that *all wot,* take I to witness, *knows everything*
That never this for covetise* I wrought, *greed of gain
But only to abridge* thy distress, *abate
For which well nigh thou diedst, as me thought;
But, goode brother, do now as thee ought,
For Godde's love, and keep her out of blame;
Since thou art wise, so save thou her name.
"For, well thou know'st, the name yet of her,
Among the people, as who saith hallow'd is;
For that man is unborn, I dare well swear,
That ever yet wist* that she did amiss; *knew
But woe is me, that I, that cause all this,
May thinke that she is my niece dear,
And I her eme,* and traitor eke y-fere.** *uncle <17> **as well
"And were it wist that I, through mine engine,* *arts, contrivance
Had in my niece put this fantasy* *fancy
To do thy lust,* and wholly to be thine, *pleasure
Why, all the people would upon it cry,
And say, that I the worste treachery
Did in this case, that ever was begun,
And she fordone,* and thou right naught y-won." *ruined
Therefore, ere going a step further, Pandarus prays Troilus to
give him pledges of secrecy, and impresses on his mind the
mischiefs that flow from vaunting in affairs of love. "Of
kind,"[by his very nature] he says, no vaunter is to be believed:
"For a vaunter and a liar all is one;
As thus: I pose* a woman granteth me *suppose, assume
Her love, and saith that other will she none,
And I am sworn to holden it secre,
And, after, I go tell it two or three;
Y-wis, I am a vaunter, at the least,
And eke a liar, for I break my hest.*<44> *promise
"Now looke then, if they be not to blame,
Such manner folk; what shall I call them, what?
That them avaunt of women, and by name,
That never yet behight* them this nor that, *promised (much
Nor knowe them no more than mine old hat? less granted)
No wonder is, so God me sende heal,* *prosperity
Though women dreade with us men to deal!
"I say not this for no mistrust of you,
Nor for no wise men, but for fooles nice;* *silly <45>
And for the harm that in the world is now,
As well for folly oft as for malice;