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From The Tale of Melibeus.

A yong man called Melibeus, mighty and riche, bygat upon his wif, that called was Prudens, a doughter which that called was Sophie. Upon a day byfel, that for his desport he is went into the feldes him to play. His wif and his doughter eek hath he laft within his hous, of which the dores were fast i-schitte. Thre of his olde foos 3 han it espyed, and setten laddres to the walles of his hous, and by the wyndowes ben entred, and betyn his wyf, and woundid his doughter with fyve mortal woundes, in fyve sondry places, that is to sayn, in here feet, in here hondes, in here eeres, in here nose, and in here mouth; and lafte her for deed, and went away.

Whan Melibeus retourned was into his hous, and seigh 4 al this mischief, he, lik a man mad, rendyng his clothes, gan wepe and crie. Prudens his wyf, as ferforth as sche dorste, bysought him of his wepyng to stynte. But not forthi7 he gan to crie ever lenger the more.

JOHN GOWER: 1325-1408.

Gower was the friend of Chaucer, and is said to have been a lawyer, attached to the Duke of Gloucester, uncle of King Richard II. His chief poem is Confessio Amantis, or Lover's Confession.

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From the Confessio Amantis.


Whan come was the moneth of Maie,
She wolde walke upon a daie,

And that was er the son arist,8
Of women but a fewe it wist; 9
And forth she went prively,
Unto a parke was faste by,
All softe walkende on the grass,
Tyll she came there the launde was,
Through which ran a great rivere;
It thought her fayre, and said, here
I will abide under the shawe; 10

And bade hir women to withdrawe :
And ther she stood alone stille,

To thinke what was in her wille;

She sighell the swete floures sprynge,

She herde glad fowles synge,

She sighe beastes in her 12 kynde,

The buck, the doo,13 the hert,14 the hynde,
The males go with the femele;


And so began there a quarele
Betwene love and her owne herte,
Fro whiche she couthe not asterte.16

3 Foes. 4 Saw. 5 Far forth.

9 But a few of her women knew of it.

14 Hart. 15 Dispute. 16 Escape.

6 Cease.
10 Grove.

Therefore. 11 Saw.

JOHN DE WYCLIFFE: 1324-1384.

Wycliffe was professor of divinity in Baliol College, Oxford. He is distinguished by his efforts to reform religion in England and by his translation of the Bible inte English, for which reasons he has been termed 'The Morning-Star of the English Reformation.'

THE MAGNIFICAT. From his Translation of the Bible.

And Marye seyde: My soul magnifieth the Lord.
And my spiryt hath gladid in God myn helthe.

For he hath behulden the mekenesse of his handmayden: for lo for this alle generatiouns schulen seye that I am blessid.

For he that is mighti hath don to me grete thingis, and his name is holy. And his mercy is fro kyndrede into kyndredis to men that dreden him. He hath made myght in his arm, he scatteride proude men with the thoughte of his herte.

He sette doun myghty men fro seete, and enhaunside meke men. He hath fulfillid hungry men with goodis, and he has left riche men voide. He heuynge mynde of his mercy took up Israel his child.

As he hath spokun to oure fadris, to Abraham, and to his seed into worlds.

JOHN BARBOUR, Scottish Poet: died 1395.

Barbour was archdeacon of Aberdeen in 1356. His only existing work is The Bruce, a narrative poem relating the adventures of King Robert Bruce, written about 1376.


A! fredome is a nobill thing!
Fredome mayse man to haiff liking!
Fredome all solace to man giffis :
He levys at ese that frely levys!
A noble hart may haiff nane ese,
Na ellys nocht that may him plese,
Gyff fredome failythe: for fre liking
Is yearnyt our all othir thing.
Na he, that ay hase levyt fre,
May nocht knaw weill the propyrte,
The angyr, na the wrechyt dome,
That is cowplyt to foule thyrldome.
Bot gyff he had assayit it,
Than all perquer he suld it wyt;
And suld think fredome mar to pryse
Than all the gold in warld that is.

1 Perfectly.

Ah! Freedom is a noble thing!
Freedom makes man to have liking!
Freedom all solace to man gives:
He lives at ease that freely lives!
A noble heart may have none ease,
Nor else nought that may him please,
If freedom faileth: for free liking
Is yearned over all other thing.
Nor he, that aye has lived free,
May not know well the property,
The anger, nor the wretched doom,
That is coupled to foul thraldom.
But if he had assayed it,
Then all perquer he should it wit;2
And should think freedom more to

Than all the gold in world that is.

2 Know.



KING JAMES I. of Scotland: 1394-1437.

James, while in captivity in England, became proficient in all the learning of the English court. His chief poem is The King's Quhair (Quire or Book), the subject of which is his love for Lady Joan Beaufort, whom he afterwards married.

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Lydgate was a monk of Bury. Of his numerous poems, the principal are The History of Thebes, The Fall of Princes, and The Destruction of Troy.


From The Destruction of Troy.

Tyll at the last, amonge the bowes glade,
Of adventure, I caught a plesaunt shade;
Ful smothe, and playn, and lusty for to sene,
And softe as velvette was the yonge grene:
Where from my hors I did alight as fast,
And on a bowe aloft his reyne cast.
So faynte and mate of werynesse I was,
That I me layd adowne upon the gras,
Upon a brincke, shortly for to telle,
Besyde the river of a cristall welle;
And the water, as I reherse can,
Like quicke sylver in his streames y-ran,
Of which the gravell and the brighte stone,
As any golde, agaynst the sun y-shone.



Scottish Poet: 1465-1520.

Dunbar spent some of his early years as a mendicant friar, but was afterwards employed at the court of James IV. He has been styled 'The Chaucer of Scotland,' and placed by Sir Walter Scott at the head of Scottish poets. His chief poems are The Thistle and the Rose, a nuptial-song on the union of James and the Princess Margaret, The Golden Terge, and The Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins.

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Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld, is celebrated for his translation of Virgil's Eneid, the first version of a Latin classic into any British tongue. He wrote also two allegorical poems, King Hart, and The Palace of Honour. Douglas's language is remarkable for the number of words it contains derived from the Latin.


From his Translation of Virgil's Æneid.

Quhil schortlie, with the blesand 10 torche of day,
Abulzeit 11 in his lemand 12 fresche array,
Furth of his palice ryall ischit 13 Phebus,
With golden crown and visage glorious,
Crisp haris, bricht as chrissolite or thopas;
For quhais hew mycht nane behold his face :
The firie sparkis brasting from his ene,1


To purge the air, and gilt the tender grene.
The auriat phanis 15 of his trone soverane
With glitterand glance overspred the octiane ; 16
The largé fludis, lemand all of licht

Bot with ane blenk of his supernal sicht.

1 Disturbance.

2 Brandished like a bear.

3 Boasters, braggarts, and bargainers.

4 Arrayed in feature of war. 5 In coats-of-mail and helmets.


10 Blazing.

7 With swords struck.

11 Clothed. 12 Flaming.

8 Cut others to the hilt.
13 Issued. 14 Eyes.

6 Froward was their

9 Sharp could cut. 15 Vanes. 16 Ocean.

SIR THOMAS MORE: 1480-1535,

Sir Thomas More became Lord Chancellor of England in 1529. He was a devoted adherent of the Catholic faith, and a man of great learning and talent. He incurred the displeasure of Henry VIII. by his opposition to the divorce of Queen Katherine, and perished on the scaffold. His chief works are Utopia, or scheme of a moral republic, and a History of Edward V., and of his Brother, and of Richard III.


On hearing that his barns, and some of those of his neighbours, had been
burned down.

MAISTRES ALYCE, in my most harty wise I recommend me to you; and whereas I am enfourmed by my son Heron of the losse of our barnes and of our neighbours also, with all the corn that was therein, albeit (saving God's pleasure) it is gret pitie of so much good corne lost, yet sith it hath liked hym to sende us such a chaunce, we must and are bounden, not only to be content, but also to be glad of his visitacion. He sente us all that we have loste: and sith he hath by such a chaunce taken it away againe, his pleasure be fulfilled. Let us never grudge ther at, but take it in good worth, and hartely thank him, as well for adversitie as for prosperitie. And peradventure we have more cause to thank him for our losse, then for our winning; for his wisdome better seeth what is good for vs then we do our selves. Therfore I pray you be of good chere, and take all the howsold with you to church, and there thanke God, both for that he hath given us, and for that he hath taken from us, and for that he hath left us, which if it please hym he can encrease when he will. And if it please hym to leave us yet lesse, at his pleasure be it.

I pray you to make some good ensearche what my poore neighbours have loste, and bid them take no thought therfore for and I shold not leave myself a spone, there shal no pore neighbour of mine bere no losse by any chaunce happened in my house. I pray you be with my children and your household merry in God. And devise some what with your frendes, what waye wer best to take, for provision to be made for corne for our household, and for sede thys yere comming, if ye thinke it good that we kepe the ground stil in our handes. And whether ye think it good that we so shall do or not, yet I think it were not best sodenlye thus to leave it all up, and to put away our folk of our farme till we have somwhat advised us thereon. How beit if we have more nowe then ye shall nede, and which can get them other maisters, ye may then discharge us of them. But I would not that any man were sodenly sent away he wote nere


At my comming hither I perceived none other but that I shold tary still with the Kinges Grace. But now I shal (I think) because of this chance, get leave this next weke to come home and se you: and then shall we further devyse together uppon all thinges, what order shal be best to take. And thus as hartely fare you well with all our children as ye can wishe. At Woodestok the thirde daye of Septembre by the hand of

your louing husbande,


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