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- The Canterbury Tales - 60/183 -
But well he knew, that, next himself, certain She lov'd her children best in every wise. But now of women would I aske fain, If these assayes mighte not suffice? What could a sturdy* husband more devise *stern To prove her wifehood and her steadfastness, And he continuing ev'r in sturdiness?
But there be folk of such condition, That, when they have a certain purpose take, Thiey cannot stint* of their intention, *cease But, right as they were bound unto a stake, They will not of their firste purpose slake:* *slacken, abate Right so this marquis fully hath purpos'd To tempt his wife, as he was first dispos'd.
He waited, if by word or countenance That she to him was changed of corage:* *spirit But never could he finde variance, She was aye one in heart and in visage, And aye the farther that she was in age, The more true (if that it were possible) She was to him in love, and more penible.* *painstaking in devotion
For which it seemed thus, that of them two There was but one will; for, as Walter lest,* *pleased The same pleasance was her lust* also; *pleasure And, God be thanked, all fell for the best. She shewed well, for no worldly unrest, A wife as of herself no thinge should Will, in effect, but as her husbaud would.
The sland'r of Walter wondrous wide sprad, That of a cruel heart he wickedly, For* he a poore woman wedded had, *because Had murder'd both his children privily: Such murmur was among them commonly. No wonder is: for to the people's ear There came no word, but that they murder'd were.
For which, whereas his people therebefore Had lov'd him well, the sland'r of his diffame* *infamy Made them that they him hated therefore. To be a murd'rer is a hateful name. But natheless, for earnest or for game, He of his cruel purpose would not stent; To tempt his wife was set all his intent.
When that his daughter twelve year was of age, He to the Court of Rome, in subtle wise Informed of his will, sent his message,* *messenger Commanding him such bulles to devise As to his cruel purpose may suffice, How that the Pope, for his people's rest, Bade him to wed another, if him lest.* *wished
I say he bade they shoulde counterfeit The Pope's bulles, making mention That he had leave his firste wife to lete,* *leave To stinte* rancour and dissension *put an end to Betwixt his people and him: thus spake the bull, The which they have published at full.
The rude people, as no wonder is, Weened* full well that it had been right so: *thought, believed But, when these tidings came to Griseldis. I deeme that her heart was full of woe; But she, alike sad* for evermo', *steadfast Disposed was, this humble creature, Th' adversity of fortune all t' endure;
Abiding ever his lust and his pleasance, To whom that she was given, heart and all, As *to her very worldly suffisance.* *to the utmost extent But, shortly if this story tell I shall, of her power* The marquis written hath in special A letter, in which he shewed his intent, And secretly it to Bologna sent.
To th' earl of Panico, which hadde tho* *there Wedded his sister, pray'd he specially To bringe home again his children two In honourable estate all openly: But one thing he him prayed utterly, That he to no wight, though men would inquere, Shoulde not tell whose children that they were,
But say, the maiden should y-wedded be Unto the marquis of Saluce anon. And as this earl was prayed, so did he, For, at day set, he on his way is gone Toward Saluce, and lorde's many a one In rich array, this maiden for to guide, -- Her younge brother riding her beside.
Arrayed was toward* her marriage *as if for This freshe maiden, full of gemmes clear; Her brother, which that seven year was of age, Arrayed eke full fresh in his mannere: And thus, in great nobless, and with glad cheer, Toward Saluces shaping their journey, From day to day they rode upon their way.
*Pars Quinta.* *Fifth Part*
*Among all this,* after his wick' usage, *while all this was The marquis, yet his wife to tempte more going on* To the uttermost proof of her corage, Fully to have experience and lore* *knowledge If that she were as steadfast as before, He on a day, in open audience, Full boisterously said her this sentence:
"Certes, Griseld', I had enough pleasance To have you to my wife, for your goodness, And for your truth, and for your obeisance, Not for your lineage, nor for your richess; But now know I, in very soothfastness, That in great lordship, if I well advise, There is great servitude in sundry wise.
"I may not do as every ploughman may: My people me constraineth for to take Another wife, and cryeth day by day; And eke the Pope, rancour for to slake, Consenteth it, that dare I undertake: And truely, thus much I will you say, My newe wife is coming by the way.
"Be strong of heart, and *void anon* her place; *immediately vacate* And thilke* dower that ye brought to me, *that Take it again, I grant it of my grace. Returne to your father's house," quoth he; "No man may always have prosperity; With even heart I rede* you to endure *counsel The stroke of fortune or of aventure."
And she again answer'd in patience: "My Lord," quoth she, "I know, and knew alway, How that betwixte your magnificence And my povert' no wight nor can nor may Make comparison, it *is no nay;* *cannot be denied* I held me never digne* in no mannere *worthy To be your wife, nor yet your chamberere.* *chamber-maid
"And in this house, where ye me lady made, (The highe God take I for my witness, And all so wisly* he my soule glade),** *surely **gladdened I never held me lady nor mistress, But humble servant to your worthiness, And ever shall, while that my life may dure, Aboven every worldly creature.
"That ye so long, of your benignity, Have holden me in honour and nobley,* *nobility Where as I was not worthy for to be, That thank I God and you, to whom I pray Foryield* it you; there is no more to say: *reward Unto my father gladly will I wend,* *go And with him dwell, unto my lifes end,
"Where I was foster'd as a child full small, Till I be dead my life there will I lead, A widow clean in body, heart, and all. For since I gave to you my maidenhead, And am your true wife, it is no dread,* *doubt God shielde* such a lordes wife to take *forbid Another man to husband or to make.* *mate
"And of your newe wife, God of his grace So grant you weal and all prosperity: For I will gladly yield to her my place, In which that I was blissful wont to be. For since it liketh you, my Lord," quoth she, "That whilom weren all mine hearte's rest, That I shall go, I will go when you lest.
"But whereas ye me proffer such dowaire As I first brought, it is well in my mind, It was my wretched clothes, nothing fair, The which to me were hard now for to find. O goode God! how gentle and how kind Ye seemed by your speech and your visage, The day that maked was our marriage!
"But sooth is said, -- algate* I find it true, *at all events For in effect it proved is on me, -- Love is not old as when that it is new. But certes, Lord, for no adversity, To dien in this case, it shall not be That e'er in word or work I shall repent That I you gave mine heart in whole intent.
"My Lord, ye know that in my father's place Ye did me strip out of my poore weed,* *raiment And richely ye clad me of your grace; To you brought I nought elles, out of dread, But faith, and nakedness, and maidenhead;
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