The Tale of the Doctor of Phisik
When that this yeoman his tale ended hadde
Of this false chanon whiche that was so badde
gan sayen, truly and certayne
Thys preest was begylèd, sothely for to sayne,
(He wenynge for to be a
Tylle he no golde lefte had in hys coffre;
And sothely this preest met a sorry jape,
canoun put in hys hood an ape.
But al this wil I passe overe as nowe.
Sir Doctour of Phisyke we prayen
Telle us a tale of some honéste matére.
It shal be done, yf that ye wille it here,
Sayde this doctoúr, and
hys tale began anon.
Nowe, gode men, quoth he, herken every oon.
Ther was, as telleth Titus Lyvius,
A knight, that clepèd was Virginius,
Fulfild of honours and of worthiness,
strong of frendes, and of gret riches.
This knight a doughter hadde by his wyf,
And never hadde he mo in
al his lyf.
Fair was this mayde in excellent beautee
Aboven every wight that men may see;
For Nature hath
with sovereyn diligence
I-formèd hir in so gret excellence,
As though she wolde say, Lo, I, Natùre,
I forme and peynte a crèatùre,
When that me list; who can me counterfete?
Pigmalion? No, though he alwey
forge and bete,
Or grave, or paynte; for I dar wel sayn,
Apelles, Zeuxis, shulde wirche in vayn,
grave, or paynte, or forge or bete,
If thay presumèd me to counterfete.
For He that is the Former principal
made me his viker general,
To forme and peynte al erthely créatúre
Right as me list, al thing is in my care
the moone that may wane and waxe,
And for my werke no thing wil I axe;
My lord and I be fully at accord.
made hir to the worship of my Lord;
So do I alle myn other créatúres,
What colour that thay be, or what
Thus semeth me that Nature wolde saye.
This mayde was of age twelf yer and twaye,
that nature hadde suche delite.
For right as she can peynte a lili white
And ruddy a rose, right with such
She peynted hath this noble créatúre
Er she was born, upon her limbes free,
Where as by right
such coloures shulde be;
And Phebus deyèd hadde hire tresses bright,
I-lyk the stremes of his burning
And if that excellent was hir beautee,
A thousand fold more vertuous was she.
In hir there lakketh
That hath ben praysed by mens discrecioun.
As wel in body as soule chaste was she;
which she flourèd in virginitee,
With alle humilitee and abstinence,
With alle temperaunce and pacience,
modest look and bearyng and array.
Discret she was in answeryng alway,
Though she were wis as Pallas,
dar I sayn.
Hir spekyng was ful womanly and playn;
No countrefeted termes hadde she
To seeme wys; but
after hir degree
She spak and alle hir wordes more and lesse
Sounyng in vertu and in gentilesse.
she was in maydenes shamfastnesse,
Constant in hert, and ever in besynesse,
To dryve hir out of ydelle
Bacchus had of hir mouth no maistrye;
For wyn and youthe doon Venús encrece,
As when men
in the fyr caste oyle or grece.
And of hir owne vertu unconstreined,
She hath ful ofte tyme sikness feyned,
that she wolde flee the companye,
Wher likly was to treten of folye,
As is at festes, reveles, and at daunces,
be occasiouns of daliaunces.
Such thinges maken children for to be
Too soone rype and bold, as men
Which is ful perilous, and hath ben yore;
For al too soone may she lerne the lore
when that she is a wyf.
And ye maystresses that older are in lyf
Who lordes doughtres have in governaunce,
ye not of my word no displesaúnce;
Thinke that ye be set in governynges
Of lordes doughtres, only for
Either for ye have kept your honestee,
Or else for ye have fallen in freletee,
And knowe wel
y-nough the olde daunce,
And conne forsake fully suche meschaunce
For evermo; therfore, for Cristes
Kepe wel those that ye undertake.
A theef of venesoun, that hath ylaft
His theevishness, and al his
Can kepe a forest best of any man.
Now kepe them wel, for if ye wil ye can;
Loke wel, that to
no vice ye assente,
Lest ye be damnèd for your wikked entente,
For who-so doth, a traytour is certayn;
take keep of that that I shal sayn;
Of al tresoún the sovereyn pestilence
Is, when a wight bytrayeth innocence.
fadres, and ye modres eek also,
Though ye have children, be it one or mo,
Yours is the charge of al their
Whiles thay be under your governaunce.
Be war, that by ensample of youre lyvynge,
your negligence in chástisynge,
That thay ne perishe; for it is wel sayd,
If that thay do, ye shul ful sore abide.
a shepherd softe and negligent,
The wolf hath many a shep and lamb to-rent.
Sufficeth one ensample
now as here,
For I moot turne agein to my matére.
This mayde, of which I now my tale expresse,
So kept hir self, hir nedede no maystresse;
For in hir lyvyng
maydens mighte rede,
As in a book, every word and dede,
That longeth unto a mayden vertuous;
was so prudent and so bounteous.
For which the fame outsprong on every syde
Bothe of hir beautee and
hir bountee wyde;
That thurgh the lond thay praysèd hir each one,
That lovèd vertu, save envye allone
sory is of other mennes wele,
And glad is of his sorwe and his ill.
(The doctor made this descripcioun.)
mayde wente on a day into the toun
Toward the temple, with hir moder deere,
As is of yonge maydenes