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loft, and brother Robert, indignant that the lord of the manor should be put off with sheep's head, when he had just witnessed such dainty viands hid in the pantry, determines to bring to light the cunning of dame Alison. He coughs loud ; Simon, starting up, asks what sound was this ? and his wife informs him of the arrival of the two friars during his absence :
Yond is friar Robert and aged friar Allane,
Go call them down that we may drink together. The two friars are not slow to obey the hospitable invitation; and after a kindly meeting honest Simon laments that he has not a more dainty supper to set before them
Yet would I give a crown of gold for me,
For some good meat and drink among us three *. • My excellent friend,' said friar Robert, let me know only what kind of meat or drink you most long for. I was educated in Paris, and acquired in that university some little skill in the occult sciences, which I would gladly use for your profit, and the comfort of this kind landlady, to whom we are indebted for a lodging :
I take on hand, an ye will counsel keep,
# Ibid, p. 14.
Simon is delighted with the proposal, and friar Robert, at his entreaty, commences his pretended conjurations. He starts upon the floor, opens a little volume which he has in his hand, turns first to the east, next to the west, then to the aumry or pantry, and lastly strikes with his wand the trough or girnel in which friar John lay trembling. After many complicated gestures and incantations, the hooded magician starts up ‘full stoure,' and declares that his work is completed :
Now it is done, and ye shall have plenty
Dame Alison at once perceives that her practices have been discovered; but, proceeding to the cupboard, and disclosing each savoury dish as it is named by the necromancer, she assumes a wellacted astonishment, whilst honest Simon cannot contain either his wonder or his appetite :
He had great wonder, and swore by the mone,
* Poems, vol. ii. p. 16.
The innkeeper, however, is hungry, and has no inclination to waste time in empty compliments ; so sitting down without question or debate, he does excellent justice to the capons, plovers, partridges, and washes all down with many a lusty draught of the good Gascoign wine, little careful by what strange and unlawful practices it seemed to be procured; but, on the contrary, wonderfully pleased with that substantial philosophy which had provided him so excellent a repast. Having assuaged his appetite, however, he becomes inquisitive as to the mode by which so extraordinary a feat of necromancy has been performed, and earnestly begs friar Robert to show him his familiar; but he is answered, that were the spirit to appear in its own dreadful shape, it is as much as his senses or his life were worth: he adds, however, that it is possible to make him change himself into some less questionable form, and bids the innkeeper say what that shall be :
Then Simon said in likeness of a frier,
For white colour to hurt no man will dare. It may not be so,' says friar Robert, ' for it were a despite to our order that so lubbard a fiend should be honoured by bearing our livery; yet since you desire it, he shall assume the likeness a friar, but it shall be a black one.'
But since it pleases you that now are here, Ye shall him see in likeness of a frier, In habit black it was his kind to wear*. Simon then receives directions to take his stand at the door with a stout oak cudgel in his hand,
* Poems, vol. ii. p. 19.
and to hold himself ready to strike with all his might the moment he received his orders, but to be careful not to speak a word. The catastrophe may be readily anticipated. Friar Robert, advancing to the trough, beneath which friar John has lain ensconced during the whole of this adventure, evokes him to make his instant appearance, by the name of Hurlybass.
Ha! how, Sir Hurlybass I conjure thee
That thou uprise, and soon to me appear
In habit black, in likeness of a frier,
With that the friar beneath the trough that lay,
but he was in a fray";
and wist na better wayn,
way; 4 Then from the same, going past. gone.
But in sic haste, that mist he has the trap,
I trow he shall be loath to come again*. There are few of Chaucer's tales which are equal, and certainly none of them superior to this excellent piece of satire. I have dwelt upon it the rather, because without the coarseness and licentiousness which infects the poetry of the age, it gives us a fine specimen of its strength and natural painting. The whole management of the story, its quiet comic humour, its variety and natural delineation of human character, the freshness and brilliancy of its colouring, the excellence and playfulness of its satire upon the hypocritical and dissolute lives of many of the monastic orders, and the easy and vigorous versification into which it is thrown, are entitled to the highest praise.
Another beautiful poem of this author is, the • Golden Targe, but our limits will hardly permit us to touch upon it. Its subject is, the Power of Love; and nothing, certainly, can breathe a sweeter or truer spirit of poetry than its opening stanzas.
Brycht as the sterne of day begonth to schyne,