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A SKIPPER was there, come from out the West,
He was at Dartmouth born, for aught I know.
He rode upon a hack-nag, anyhow,
All in a coarse frock reaching to his knee.
A dagger, hanging by a lace, had he
About his neck, under his arm adown.
The summer hot had made his hue all brown,
And certainly he was a fellow good.
Wine had he drawn right often from the wood
In Bourdeaux docks, while that the dealers snored :
For a nice conscience he cared not a cord.
If that he fought, and had the higher hand,
By water he sent them home to every land.*
But of his craft to reckon well each tide,
His inland streams, and unknown strands beside,
His harbour, compass, moon, and gallant triin,
'Twixt Hull and Carthage there was none like him.
Hardy he was, and very wise I reckon :
With many a tempest had his beard been shaken.
He knew well all the havens, as they were,
From Gothland, to the Cape de Finistere,
And every creek in Britain and in Spain :
His jolly bark was call’d the “ Magdelain.”
A Doctor of Physic rode with us along ;
There was none like him in this wide world's throng,
To speak of physic and of surgery;
For he was grounded in astronomy.
* Verbatim from Chaucer, but the meaning is not very clear. Is it to be inferred that he drowned his piratical prisoners,—"every land” meaning the bottom of the sea ?
He very much prolong’d his patients' hours
By natural magic; and the ascendant powers
Of figures that he cast, his art could make
Benign of aspect, for his patient's sake.
He knew the cause of every malady,
Were it of cold, or hot, or moist, or dry,
And how engender'd—what the humours were-
He was a very perfect practiser.
The cause once known, and root of the disease,
Anon he placed the sick man at his ease.
Full ready had he his apothecaries
To send him drugs and his electuaries,
And each one made the other sure to win:
Their friendship was no new thing to begin.
Well the old Æsculapius he knew,
And Dioscorides, and Rufus too;
Hali, and old Hippocrates, and Galen,
Serapion, Rasis, and wise Avicen;
Averroes, Damascene, and Constantin,
Deep-seeing Bernard, Gatesden, Gilbertin.
His diet by its nutriment weigh'd he,
For to be charged with superfluity
In meat and drink, had been to him a libel.
His study was but little in the Bible.
He was all clad in crimson and sky-grey,
With thin silk lined, and lustrous taffeta.
And yet he was but moderate in expense.
He hoarded what he gain'd i' the pestilence;
For gold in physic is a cordial old-
Therefore the Doctor specially loved gold.
A good man of religion did I see, And a poor Parson of a town was he:
But rich he was of holy thought and work.
He also was a learned man, a clerk,
And truly would Christ's holy gospel preach.
And his parishioners devoutly teach.
Benign he was and wondrous diligent,
And patient when adversity was sent;
Such had he often proved, and loath was he
To curse for tythes and ransack poverty ;
But rather would he give, there is no doubt,
Unto his poor parishioners about,
Of his own substance, and his offerings too.
His wants were hum'sle, and his needs but few.
Wide was his parish-houses far asunder-
But he neglected nought for rain or thunder,
In sickness and in grief to visit all
The farthest in his parish, great and small;
Always on foot, and in his hand a stave.
This noble example to his flock he gave;
That first he wrought, and afterwards he taught
Out of the Gospel he that lesson caught,
And this new figure added he thereto, -
That if gold rust, then what should iron do?
And if a priest be foul, on whom we trust,
No wonder if an ignorant man should rust:
And shame it is, if that a priest take keep, .
To see an obscene shepherd and clean sheep..
Well ought a priest to all example give,
By his pure conduct, how his sheep should live.
He let not out his benefice for hire, Leaving his flock encumber'd in the mire, While he ran up to London, to St. Paul's, To seek a well-paid chantery for souls,
Or with a loving friend his pastime hold;
But dwelt at home and tended well his fold,
So that to foil the wolf he was right wary:
He was a shepherd, and no mercenáry.
And though he holy was and virtuous,
He was to sinful men full piteous;
His words were strong, but not with anger fraught :
A lore benignant he discreetly taught.
To draw mankind to heaven by gentleness
And good example, was his business.
But if that any one were obstinate,
· Whether he were of high or low estate,
Him would he sharply check with alter'd mien :
A better parson there was nowhere seen.
He paid no court to pomps and reverence,
Nor spiced his conscience at his soul's expense ;*
But Jesus' lore, which owns no pride or pelf,
He taught—but first he follow'd it himself.
A PLOUGHMANĂ hale, his brother, with him rude,
Who of manure had spread full many a load.
A right good, constant, labouring man was he,
Living in peace and perfect charity.
O’er all the world to God he gave his heart
At all times, whether for his gain or smart;
And next his neighbour as himself he held.
He thrash'd, made dykes, he planted, or he felld,
For Jesus' sake, in aid of each poor wight,
And without hire, when it lay in his might.
* That is, he did not embalm « preserve his conscience by sophistries and artificial moralities. + Ploughman here signifies a small farmer.
His tythes he also paid without a word,
Both of his proper labour and his herd.
In a short frock he rode upon a mare.
A Miller and a Reve were also there;
A Sompnour and a Pardoner-making four-
A Manciple and myself: there were no more.*
The MILLER was a stout carl, deep of tones;
Right large he was of brawn, and eke of bones,
Which he proved well, for over all that came
In wrestling he would bear away the ram.
With shoulders broad and short-a knob or gnarr-
There was no door but he'd heave up the bar,
Or break, by running at it with his head.
His beard as any sow or fox was red,
And thereto broad, as though it were a spade.
Upon the tip-top of his nose he had
A wart, and thereon stood a tuft of hairs,
Red as the bristles of a wild sow's ears:
His open nostrils they were black and wide.
A sword and buckler bare he by his side.
His mouth gaped like a furnace, red and great.
He was a huge wag and enjoy'd his prate,
Which mainly turn'd on sin and haunts of vice.
He oft stole corn, and charged, for grinding, thrice.
And yet he had a golden thumb, pardie !
A white coat with a hood of blue had he.
* Reve, a steward; Sompnour, a summoner, the officer (now called an apparitor) who summoned delinquents to appear in ecclesiastical courts Manciple, the caterer or steward of an Inn of Court,