The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Shipmannes Tale.

Here biginneth the Shipmannes Tale.

A marchant whylom dwelled at Seint Denys,

That riche was, for which men helde him wys;

A wyf he hadde of excellent beautee,

And compaignable and revelous was she,

1195

Which is a thing that causeth more dispence

Than worth is al the chere and reverence

That men hem doon at festes and at daunces;

Swiche salutaciouns and contenaunces

Passen as dooth a shadwe up-on the wal.

1200

But wo is him that payen moot for al;

(11)

The sely housbond, algate he mot paye;

He moot us clothe, and he moot us arraye,

Al for his owene worship richely,

In which array we daunce Iolily.

1205

And if that he noght may, par-aventure,

Or elles, list no swich dispence endure,

But thinketh it is wasted and y-lost,

Than moot another payen for our cost,

Or lene us gold, and that is perilous.

1191. Hl. hild.   1196. E. chiere.   1201. E. honsbonde.   Hn. moot; Pt. mot; rest moste.   1205. Pt. Hl. may not.   1206. E. ellis.   1208. E. Thanne.

1210

 This noble Marchant heeld a worthy hous,

(21)

For which he hadde alday so greet repair

For his largesse, and for his wyf was fair,

That wonder is; but herkneth to my tale.

Amonges alle his gestes, grete and smale,

1215

Ther was a monk, a fair man and a bold,

I trowe of thritty winter he was old,

That ever in oon was drawing to that place.

This yonge monk, that was so fair of face,

Aqueinted was so with the gode man,

1220

Sith that hir firste knoweliche bigan,

(31)

That in his hous as famulier was he

As it possible is any freend to be.

1214. E. Hn. hise; Hl. these; rest his.   1216. E. of; Hn. Cp. Ln. a; rest om.   1217. E. comynge; rest drawyng.   1220-3. Pt. omits.

 And for as muchel as this gode man

And eek this monk, of which that I bigan,

1225

Were bothe two y-born in o village,

The monk him claimeth as for cosinage;

And he again, he seith nat ones nay,

But was as glad ther-of as fowel of day;

For to his herte it was a greet plesaunce.

1230

Thus been they knit with eterne alliaunce,

(41)

And ech of hem gan other for tassure

Of bretherhede, whyl that hir lyf may dure.

1222. E. om. is; Hl. possibil is; rest is possible.   1231. E. Hn. Pt. ech; Hl. ilk; rest ilke.    Cp. for to assure; Hl. Ln. to assure (om. for).

 Free was daun Iohn, and namely of dispence,

As in that hous; and ful of diligence

1235

To doon plesaunce, and also greet costage.

He noght forgat to yeve the leeste page

In al that hous; but, after hir degree,

He yaf the lord, and sitthe al his meynee,

When that he cam, som maner honest thing;

1240

For which they were as glad of his coming

(51)

As fowel is fayn, whan that the sonne up-ryseth.

Na more of this as now, for it suffyseth.

1237. E. the; rest that.

 But so bifel, this marchant on a day

Shoop him to make redy his array

1245

Toward the toun of Brugges for to fare,

To byën ther a porcioun of ware;

For which he hath to Paris sent anon

A messager, and preyed hath daun Iohn

That he sholde come to Seint Denys to pleye

1250

With him and with his wyf a day or tweye,

(61)

Er he to Brugges wente, in alle wyse.

 This noble monk, of which I yow devyse,

Hath of his abbot, as him list, licence,

By-cause he was a man of heigh prudence,

1255

And eek an officer, out for to ryde,

To seen hir graunges and hir bernes wyde;

And un-to Seint Denys he comth anon.

Who was so welcome as my lord daun Iohn,

Our dere cosin, ful of curteisye?

1260

With him broghte he a Iubbe of Malvesye,

(71)

And eek another, ful of fyn Vernage,

And volatyl, as ay was his usage.

And thus I lete hem ete and drinke and pleye,

This marchant and this monk, a day or tweye.

1261. Cp. Ln. good (for fyn); Hl. wyn.   1262. Hl. volantyn (!)   1263. E. om. ete and.

1265

 The thridde day, this marchant up aryseth,

And on his nedes sadly him avyseth,

And up in-to his countour-hous goth he

To rekene with him-self, as wel may be,

Of thilke yeer, how that it with him stood,

1270

And how that he despended hadde his good;

(81)

And if that he encressed were or noon.

His bokes and his bagges many oon

He leith biforn him on his counting-bord;

Ful riche was his tresor and his hord,

1275

For which ful faste his countour-dore he shette;

And eek he nolde that no man sholde him lette

Of his accountes, for the mene tyme;

And thus he sit til it was passed pryme.

1266, 1272, 1277. E. hise.   1268. Pt. Hl. as; rest om.

 Daun Iohn was risen in the morwe also,

1280

And in the gardin walketh to and fro,

(91)

And hath his thinges seyd ful curteisly.

 This gode wyf cam walking prively

In-to the gardin, ther he walketh softe,

And him saleweth, as she hath don ofte.

1285

A mayde child cam in hir companye,

Which as hir list she may governe and gye,

For yet under the yerde was the mayde.

‘O dere cosin myn, daun Iohn,’ she sayde,

‘What eyleth yow so rathe for to ryse?’

1290

‘Nece,’ quod he, ‘it oghte y-nough suffyse

(101)

Fyve houres for to slepe up-on a night,

But it were for an old appalled wight,

As been thise wedded men, that lye and dare

As in a forme sit a wery hare,

1295

Were al for-straught with houndes grete and smale.

But dere nece, why be ye so pale?

I trowe certes that our gode man

Hath yow laboured sith the night bigan,

That yow were nede to resten hastily?’

1300

And with that word he lough ful merily,

(111)

And of his owene thought he wex al reed.

1294. E. fourme; rest forme.   1300. E. murily.   1301. E. Cp. wax.

 This faire wyf gan for to shake hir heed,

And seyde thus, ‘ye, god wot al,’ quod she;

‘Nay, cosin myn, it stant nat so with me.

1305

For, by that god that yaf me soule and lyf,

In al the reme of France is ther no wyf

That lasse lust hath to that sory pley.

For I may singe “allas” and “weylawey,

That I was born,” but to no wight,’ quod she,

1310

‘Dar I nat telle how that it stant with me.

(121)

Wherfore I thinke out of this land to wende,

Or elles of my-self to make an ende,

So ful am I of drede and eek of care.’

1304. E. repeats nay.   1306. Cp. Pt. rewme; Hl. Ln. reme; E. Hn. Reawme; see B. 4326.

 This monk bigan up-on this wyf to stare,

1315

And seyde, ‘allas, my nece, god forbede

That ye, for any sorwe or any drede,

Fordo your-self; but telleth me your grief;

Paraventure I may, in your meschief,

Conseille or helpe, and therfore telleth me

1320

Al your anoy, for it shal been secree;

(131)

For on my porthors here I make an ooth,

That never in my lyf, for lief ne looth,

Ne shal I of no conseil yow biwreye.’

1317. Hn. Cm. Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl. telleth;    E. tel.    E. me of; Cp. Ln. forth; rest me.   1318. E. I yow may; rest om. yow.   1321. Cm. here; rest om.

 ‘The same agayn to yow,’ quod she, ‘I seye;

1325

By god and by this porthors, I yow swere,

Though men me wolde al in-to peces tere,

Ne shal I never, for to goon to helle,

Biwreye a word of thing that ye me telle,

Nat for no cosinage ne alliance,

1330

But verraily, for love and affiance.’

(141)

Thus been they sworn, and heer-upon they kiste,

And ech of hem tolde other what hem liste.

1326. E. pieces; rest peces, peeces.

 ‘Cosin,’ quod she, ‘if that I hadde a space,

As I have noon, and namely in this place,

1335

Than wolde I telle a legende of my lyf,

What I have suffred sith I was a wyf

With myn housbonde, al be he your cosyn.’

1335. E. Thanne.   1337. your cosyn] E. of youre kyn.

 ‘Nay,’ quod this monk, ‘by god and seint Martyn,

He is na more cosin un-to me

1340

Than is this leef that hangeth on the tree!

(151)

I clepe him so, by Seint Denys of Fraunce,

To have the more cause of aqueintaunce

Of yow, which I have loved specially

Aboven alle wommen sikerly;

1345

This swere I yow on my professioun.

Telleth your grief, lest that he come adoun,

And hasteth yow, and gooth your wey anon.’

1338. and] E. Cp. Pt. Ln. and by.   1340. E. lief.

 ‘My dere love,’ quod she, ‘o my daun Iohn,

Ful lief were me this conseil for to hyde,

1350

But out it moot, I may namore abyde.

(161)

Myn housbond is to me the worste man

That ever was, sith that the world bigan.

But sith I am a wyf, it sit nat me

To tellen no wight of our privetee,

1355

Neither a bedde, ne in non other place;

God shilde I sholde it tellen, for his grace!

A wyf ne shal nat seyn of hir housbonde

But al honour, as I can understonde;

Save un-to yow thus muche I tellen shal;

1360

As help me god, he is noght worth at al

(171)

In no degree the value of a flye.

But yet me greveth most his nigardye;

And wel ye woot that wommen naturelly

Desyren thinges sixe, as wel as I.

1365

They wolde that hir housbondes sholde be

Hardy, and wyse, and riche, and ther-to free,

And buxom to his wyf, and fresh a-bedde.

But, by that ilke lord that for us bledde,

For his honour, my-self for to arraye,

1370

A Sonday next, I moste nedes paye

(181)

An hundred frankes, or elles am I lorn.

Yet were me lever that I were unborn

Than me were doon a sclaundre or vileinye;

And if myn housbond eek it mighte espye,

1375

I nere but lost, and therfore I yow preye

Lene me this somme, or elles moot I deye.

Daun Iohn, I seye, lene me thise hundred frankes;

Pardee, I wol nat faille yow my thankes,

If that yow list to doon that I yow praye.

1380

For at a certein day I wol yow paye,

(191)

And doon to yow what plesance and servyce

That I may doon, right as yow list devyse.

And but I do, god take on me vengeance

As foul as ever had Geniloun of France!’

1351. E. housbonde.   1355. Hl. om.   1367. to] E. Hn. Cm. unto.   1371, 1376. E. ellis.   1371. E. Ln. Hl. I am; rest am I.   1374. E. housbonde.   1376-9. Hl. omits.   1384. E. hadde.

1385

 This gentil monk answerde in this manere;

‘Now, trewely, myn owene lady dere,

I have,’ quod he, ‘on yow so greet a routhe,

That I yow swere and plighte yow my trouthe,

That whan your housbond is to Flaundres fare,

1390

I wol delivere yow out of this care;

(201)

For I wol bringe yow an hundred frankes.’

And with that word he caughte hir by the flankes,

And hir embraceth harde, and kiste hir ofte.

‘Goth now your wey,’ quod he, ‘al stille and softe,

1395

And lat us dyne as sone as that ye may;

For by my chilindre it is pryme of day.

Goth now, and beeth as trewe as I shal be.’

1389. E. housbonde.

 ‘Now, elles god forbede, sire,’ quod she,

And forth she gooth, as Iolif as a pye,

1400

And bad the cokes that they sholde hem hye,

(211)

So that men mighte dyne, and that anon.

Up to hir housbonde is this wyf y-gon,

And knokketh at his countour boldely.

 ’Qui la?’ quod he. ‘Peter! it am I,’

1405

Quod she, ‘what, sire, how longe wol ye faste?

How longe tyme wol ye rekene and caste

Your sommes, and your bokes, and your thinges?

The devel have part of alle swiche rekeninges!

Ye have y-nough, pardee, of goddes sonde;

1410

Come doun to-day, and lat your bagges stonde.

(221)

Ne be ye nat ashamed that daun Iohn

Shal fasting al this day elenge goon?

What! lat us here a messe, and go we dyne.’

1404. E. Hn. Who ther (with Qi la in margin); Hl. Qy la; Cp. Pt. Quy la; Ln. Que la.   1408. Hl. Cm. of; rest on.   1412. E. Cm. alenge; rest elenge.   1413. E. om. What.

 ‘Wyf,’ quod this man, ‘litel canstow devyne

1415

The curious bisinesse that we have.

For of us chapmen, al-so god me save,

And by that lord that cleped is Seint Yve,

Scarsly amonges twelve ten shul thryve,

Continuelly, lastinge un-to our age.

1420

We may wel make chere and good visage,

(231)

And dryve forth the world as it may be,

And kepen our estaat in privetee,

Til we be deed, or elles that we pleye

A pilgrimage, or goon out of the weye.

1425

And therfor have I greet necessitee

Up-on this queinte world tavyse me;

For evermore we mote stonde in drede

Of hap and fortune in our chapmanhede.

1417. E. clepid.   1418. E. xij.   1420. E. chiere.   1426. E. Hn. Cm. tauyse; rest to auyse.

 To Flaundres wol I go to-morwe at day,

1430

And come agayn, as sone as ever I may.

(241)

For which, my dere wyf, I thee biseke,

As be to every wight buxom and meke,

And for to kepe our good be curious,

And honestly governe wel our hous.

1435

Thou hast y-nough, in every maner wyse,

That to a thrifty houshold may suffyse.

Thee lakketh noon array ne no vitaille,

Of silver in thy purs shaltow nat faille.’

And with that word his countour-dore he shette,

1440

And doun he gooth, no lenger wolde he lette,

(251)

But hastily a messe was ther seyd,

And spedily the tables were y-leyd,

And to the diner faste they hem spedde;

And richely this monk the chapman fedde.

1441. E. Hn. But; rest And.

1445

 At-after diner daun Iohn sobrely

This chapman took a-part, and prively

He seyde him thus, ‘cosyn, it standeth so,

That wel I see to Brugges wol ye go.

God and seint Austin spede yow and gyde!

1450

I prey yow, cosin, wysly that ye ryde;

(261)

Governeth yow also of your diete

Atemprely, and namely in this hete.

Bitwix us two nedeth no strange fare;

Fare-wel, cosyn; god shilde yow fro care.

1455

If any thing ther be by day or night,

If it lye in my power and my might,

That ye me wol comande in any wyse,

It shal be doon, right as ye wol devyse.

1445. E. Hn. Cm. At; rest And.   1455. E. Hn. And if that any thyng by day or night.

 O thing, er that ye goon, if it may be,

1460

I wolde prey yow; for to lene me

(271)

An hundred frankes, for a wyke or tweye,

For certein beestes that I moste beye,

To store with a place that is oures.

God help me so, I wolde it were youres!

1465

I shal nat faille surely of my day,

Nat for a thousand frankes, a myle-way.

But lat this thing be secree, I yow preye,

For yet to-night thise beestes moot I beye;

And fare-now wel, myn owene cosin dere,

1470

Graunt mercy of your cost and of your chere.’

1465. E. at; rest of.

(281)

 This noble marchant gentilly anon

Answerde, and seyde, ‘o cosin myn, daun Iohn,

Now sikerly this is a smal requeste;

My gold is youres, whan that it yow leste.

1475

And nat only my gold, but my chaffare;

Take what yow list, god shilde that ye spare.

 But o thing is, ye knowe it wel y-nogh,

Of chapmen, that hir moneye is hir plogh.

We may creaunce whyl we have a name,

1480

But goldlees for to be, it is no game.

(291)

Paye it agayn whan it lyth in your ese;

After my might ful fayn wolde I yow plese.’

1479. Cm. encrece (for creaunce).

 Thise hundred frankes he fette forth anon,

And prively he took hem to daun Iohn.

1485

No wight in al this world wiste of this lone,

Savinge this marchant and daun Iohn allone.

They drinke, and speke, and rome a whyle and pleye,

Til that daun Iohn rydeth to his abbeye.

1483. E. fette hyrn forth; rest om. hym.

 The morwe cam, and forth this marchant rydeth

1490

To Flaundres-ward; his prentis wel him gydeth,

(301)

Til he cam in-to Brugges merily.

Now gooth this marchant faste and bisily

Aboute his nede, and byeth and creaunceth.

He neither pleyeth at the dees ne daunceth;

1495

But as a marchant, shortly for to telle,

He let his lyf, and there I lete him dwelle.

1491. E. Hn. murily.   1494. E. Cm. om. the.   1496. E. Hn. let; Cm. lat; Hl. Pt. lad; Cp. leet; Ln. leteþ (let = ledeth).

 The Sonday next this Marchant was agon,

To Seint Denys y-comen is daun Iohn,

With crowne and berd all fresh and newe y-shave.

1500

In al the hous ther nas so litel a knave,

(311)

Ne no wight elles, that he nas ful fayn,

For that my lord daun Iohn was come agayn.

And shortly to the point right for to gon,

This faire wyf accorded with daun Iohn,

1505

That for thise hundred frankes he sholde al night

Have hir in his armes bolt-upright;

And this acord parfourned was in dede.

In mirthe al night a bisy lyf they lede

Til it was day, that daun Iohn wente his way,

1510

And bad the meynee ‘fare-wel, have good day!’

(321)

For noon of hem, ne no wight in the toun,

Hath of daun Iohn right no suspecioun.

And forth he rydeth hoom to his abbeye,

Or where him list; namore of him I seye.

1502. E. Hn. Cm. om. For.   1503. E. right to the point.   1506. E. hise.

1515

 This marchant, whan that ended was the faire,

To Seint Denys he gan for to repaire,

And with his wyf he maketh feste and chere,

And telleth hir that chaffare is so dere,

That nedes moste he make a chevisaunce.

1520

For he was bounde in a reconissaunce

(331)

To paye twenty thousand sheeld anon.

For which this marchant is to Paris gon,

To borwe of certein frendes that he hadde

A certein frankes; and somme with him he ladde.

1525

And whan that he was come in-to the toun,

For greet chertee and greet affeccioun,

Un-to daun Iohn he gooth him first, to pleye;

Nat for to axe or borwe of him moneye,

But for to wite and seen of his welfare,

1530

And for to tellen him of his chaffare,

(341)

As freendes doon whan they ben met y-fere.

Daun Iohn him maketh feste and mery chere;

And he him tolde agayn ful specially,

How he hadde wel y-boght and graciously,

1535

Thanked be god, al hool his marchandyse.

Save that he moste, in alle maner wyse,

Maken a chevisaunce, as for his beste,

And thanne he sholde been in Ioye and reste.

1517, 1532. E. feeste.   1519, 1537. E. cheuyssaunce.   1520. Hl. bounde; rest bounden.   1526. Pt. cheertee; Ln. chere; rest chiertee.   1532. E. murye.

 Daun Iohn answerde, ‘certes, I am fayn

1540

That ye in hele ar comen hoom agayn.

(351)

And if that I were riche, as have I blisse,

Of twenty thousand sheeld shold ye nat misse,

For ye so kindely this other day

Lente me gold; and as I can and may,

1545

I thanke yow, by god and by seint Iame!

But nathelees I took un-to our dame,

Your wyf at hoom, the same gold ageyn

Upon your bench; she woot it wel, certeyn,

By certein tokenes that I can hir telle.

1550

Now, by your leve, I may no lenger dwelle,

(361)

Our abbot wol out of this toun anon;

And in his companye moot I gon.

Grete wel our dame, myn owene nece swete,

And fare-wel, dere cosin, til we mete!’

1540. ar] Cp. Pt. Ln. be.   1549. E. Hn. Cm. yow; rest hir.

1555

 This Marchant, which that was ful war and wys,

Creaunced hath, and payd eek in Parys,

To certeyn Lumbardes, redy in hir hond,

The somme of gold, and gat of hem his bond;

And hoom he gooth, mery as a papeiay.

1560

For wel he knew he stood in swich array,

(371)

That nedes moste he winne in that viage

A thousand frankes above al his costage.

1558. E. hadde; Hl. took; rest gat.   Over bond is the gloss — obligacionem.   1559. E. murie.   E. papeiay; rest papyniay, popiniay.   1562. E. Hn. Cm. Cp. abouen; rest aboue.

 His wyf ful redy mette him atte gate,

As she was wont of old usage algate,

1565

And al that night in mirthe they bisette;

For he was riche and cleerly out of dette.

Whan it was day, this marchant gan embrace

His wyf al newe, and kiste hir on hir face,

And up he gooth and maketh it ful tough.

1570

 ‘Namore,’ quod she, ‘by god, ye have y-nough!’

(381)

And wantounly agayn with him she pleyde;

Til, atte laste, that this Marchant seyde,

‘By god,’ quod he, ‘I am a litel wrooth

With yow, my wyf, al-thogh it be me looth.

1575

And woot ye why? by god, as that I gesse,

That ye han maad a maner straungenesse

Bitwixen me and my cosyn daun Iohn.

Ye sholde han warned me, er I had gon,

That he yow hadde an hundred frankes payed

1580

By redy tokene; and heeld him yvel apayed,

(391)

For that I to him spak of chevisaunce,

Me semed so, as by his contenaunce.

But nathelees, by god our hevene king,

I thoghte nat to axe of him no-thing.

1585

I prey thee, wyf, ne do namore so;

Tel me alwey, er that I fro thee go,

If any dettour hath in myn absence

Y-payëd thee; lest, thurgh thy necligence,

I mighte him axe a thing that he hath payed.’

1571. E. wantownely.   1572. Cp. Pt. þat; Hl. þus; rest om.   1574. E. were; rest be.   1584. E. axen; rest axe.   E. Hl. om. of.   1585. E. as; Hl. om.; rest ne.   1586. Hn. Hl. Tel; Ln. Til; rest Telle.

1590

 This wyf was nat afered nor affrayed,

(401)

But boldely she seyde, and that anon:

‘Marie, I defye the false monk, daun Iohn!

I kepe nat of hise tokenes never a deel;

He took me certein gold, that woot I weel!

1595

What! yvel thedom on his monkes snoute!

For, god it woot, I wende, withouten doute,

That he had yeve it me bycause of yow,

To doon ther-with myn honour and my prow,

For cosinage, and eek for bele chere

1600

That he hath had ful ofte tymes here.

(411)

But sith I see I stonde in this disioint,

I wol answere yow shortly, to the point.

Ye han mo slakker dettours than am I!

For I wol paye yow wel and redily

1605

Fro day to day; and, if so be I faille,

I am your wyf; score it up-on my taille,

And I shal paye, as sone as ever I may.

For, by my trouthe, I have on myn array,

And nat on wast, bistowed every deel.

1610

And for I have bistowed it so weel

(421)

For your honour, for goddes sake, I seye,

As be nat wrooth, but lat us laughe and pleye.

Ye shal my Ioly body have to wedde;

By god, I wol nat paye yow but a-bedde.

1615

Forgive it me, myn owene spouse dere;

Turne hiderward and maketh bettre chere.’

1592. Cm. defye; rest deffie.   1595. E. Hn. Cp. thedam.   1597. E. hadde.   1599. E. beele; Cm. beel; rest bele.   1601. E. Hn. Hl. this; rest suche, such.   1611. E. Hn. For; rest To.

 This marchant saugh ther was no remedye,

And, for to chyde, it nere but greet folye,

Sith that the thing may nat amended be.

1620

'Now, wyf,' he seyde, 'and I foryeve it thee;

(431)

But, by thy lyf, ne be namore so large;

Keep bet our good, this yeve I thee in charge.’

Thus endeth now my tale, and god us sende

Taling y-nough un-to our lyves ende. Amen.

Here endeth the Shipmannes Tale.

1622. E. that; rest this.   1623. E. Hn. om. now.   1624. Cm. Talynge; Hl. Talyng; E. Hn. Pt. Taillynge; Cp. Ln. Toylyng(!).   Colophon. So E. Hn. Cp. Pt.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/chaucer/canterbury/skeat/chapter8.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37