The Tale of the Chanons Yeoman
Transcribed by Martin Stewart
Back to English alchemical verse .

THE TALE OF THE
CHANONS YEOMAN.

Written by our Ancient and famous
English Poet,Geoffry Chaucer.

THE PROLOGUE OF
The Chanons Yeoman.

Whan ended was the Lyfe of Saint Cecyle,
Er we fully had rydden fyve myle:
Att Boughton under the blee us gan a take
A Man that clothed was in clothes blake;
And under that he had a whyte Surplyse,
His hakeny that was all pomely gryse;
So swete that itt wonder was to see;
It seemed that he had precked myles three.
The horse eke that his Yoman rode uppon,
So Swete,that urmeth mighthe gon:
About the paytrell stode the fome full hye,
He was of fome as flecked as a pye:
A Male twyfolde on his croper lay;
Itt semed that he carryed letel Aray;
All fight for somer rode this worthy Man,
And in my heart wondren I began,
What that he was,till I understode,
How that his cloke was sewed to his hode:
For which whan I had long avysed me;
I demyd him some Chanon for to be:
His hatt hynge att his backe by a Lace,
For he had rydden more then trot or pace.
He rode aye pryckyng as he were wode,
A Clote leafe he had layd under his hode,
For Swett and for to keepe his heede from hete,
Butt itt was joy for to se him swete:
His foreheed dropped as a Stillatorie,
But full of Playntaine or of Peritorie:
And when he was come he gan crye,
God save(quod he)this Iolly company:
Fast have I pricked(quod he)for your sake,
Bycause that I wold you overtake,
To ryden in this mery company.
His Yoman was eke full of curtesy,
And sayd,Syrs,now in the morowe tyde,
Out of your hostrye I saw you ride,
And warned here my Lord and Soverayne,
Which that to ryden with you is full fayne:
For his disporte,he loveth dalyance.
Frede for thy warning God yeve thee good chance.
Then sayd our Host,certayne itt wold seme
Thys Lord were wyse,and so I may well deme:
He is full locunde,alsoe dare I lay,
Can he ought tell a mery Tale or tway,
With which he glad may this company.
Who Sir my Lord? ye without lye,
He can of myrthe and eke of lolyte,
Not but ynough also Sir trusteth me;
And ye him knew also well as doe I,
Ye wold wonder how well and thriftely
He con the werke and that in sondry wyse;
He hath taken on him many a great Empryse:
Which were full hard for any that is here,
To bring about,but they of him itt lere.
As homely as he rideth among you,
If ye him knew itt wold ben for your prowe:
Ye nolde not forgon his aquayntaunce,
For Mochel good I dare lay in balaunce
All that i have in my possession;
He is a man of hye discression:
I warne you well he is a passing wyse man.
Wel(quod our Hoste)I pray thee tell me than,
Is he a Clerke or non? tell what he is.
A Clerke!nay greater then a Clerke I wys,
Sayd the Yoman,and in words fewe,
Hoste of his Crafte somwhat wol I shew;
I say my Lord can such a subtelte,
But of his Crafte ye may not wete of me:
And somewhat helpe I yett to his worchyng,
That all the ground that we be on rydyng,
Till we come to Canterbury Towne,
He could all cleane turne up and downe:
And pave it all of Silver and of Gold.
And when this Yoman had thus I told
Unto our Hoste,he sayd benedicite,
This thing is wonder and marvellous to me:
Sens that thy Lord is of so high prudence,
(Because of which men shold him reverence,)
That of his worship recketh he so lyte,
His overest slopp is not worth a myte;
As in effect to him so mote I go,
It is all bawdy and to tore alsoe.
Why is thy Lord soe slotlyche I thee pray,
And is of power better clothes to bey?
If that his dede accord with thy speech,
Tell me that and that I thee beseech.
Why(quod this Yoman)whereto aske ye me?
God helpe mee so,for he shall never ythe:
But I wol not avow that I saye,
And therefore keepe itt secrett I you praye;
He is to wyse in fay as I beleeve,
That is overdone wil not preve;
And right as Clerkes sayne itt is a vyce,
Wherefore I holde him in that leude and nyce;
For whan a man hath over greate a witte,
Full ofte it happeth him to misusen itt:
So doth my Lord,and that me greveth sore;
God amend itt,I can say you no more.
Thereof no force good Yoman(quod our Host)
Sens of the connyng of thy Lord thou wost:
Tell how he doth I pray the hertely,
Sens that he is so crafty and so sly,
Where dwellen ye if itt to tell be?
In the Subbarbes of a Towne(quod he)
Lurkeyng in hernes and in lanes blynde,
Where these Robbers,and Theeves by kynde
Holden her privy fearefull residence,
As they that dare not shewen her presence;
Soe fare we if that I shall say the sothe,
Yett(quod our Hoste)lett me talke to the.
Why art thou soe discolored in thy face?
Peter(quod he)God yeve itt hard grace;
I am so used in the hott fyre to blowe,
That itt hath changed my colour as I trow:
I am not wonte in no mirrour to prye,
But swynke sore and lerne to Multipye.
We blondren ever and pooren in the fyre,
And for all that we faylen of our desyre:
For ever we lacken our conclusion,
To moche folke we do illusion:
And borrowe Golde be itt a pounde or two,
Or ten or twelve or many somes mo,
And make hem wene at the leste way,
That of a pound we could make tway;
Yett is itt false,and ay hav we grope.
Itt for to done,and after it we grope.
But that Science is so ferre us by forne,
We mowe not all though we had itt sworne
Itt overtake,itt flytte away soe faste,
Itt wol us make Beggers at the laste.
Whiles this Yeman was thus in his talking
This Chanon drew him nere and herde all thing
Which this Yeman spake,for suspection
Of mennes speche ever had this Chanon:
For Cato saythe,he that giltye is,
Deemeth all thing be speke of him Iwys:
Bycause of that he gan so nyghe to draw,
To his Yeman to herken all his saw;
And thus he sayd unto his Yeman tho,
Holde nowe thy peace and speke no words mo,
For if thou doe,thou shalt it sore abye,
Thou slanderest me here in this Companye:
And eke discocerest that thou sholdest hyde.
Ye(quod our Hoste)tell on what soever betyde,
Of all his thretynge recke the not a myte.
In fayth(quod he)no more doe I but lyte.
And whan this Chanon saw itt wolde not be,
But his Yeman wolde tel his privyte,
He fledde away for very sorrow and shame.
A(quod the Yeman)here shall ryse a game,
All that I can anon woll I you tell,
Sens he is gone the foule Fend him quell;
For never hereafter wol I with him mete,
For penny ne for pounde I you behete;
He that me brought first unto that game,
Er that he dye sorrowe have he and shame;
For it is ernest to me by my faith:
That fele I well whatsoe any man saith:
And yett for all my smerte and all my greife,
For all my sorrowe,labour and mischeife,
I couthe never leave it in noe wyse:
Now wolde God my witt might suffyse,
To tellen all that longeth to that Arte.
But nathelesse,yet wol I tell you a parte:
Sens that my Lord is gon I wol not spare;
Such thyng as I know I wol declare.

Here endeth the Prologue of the Chanons
Yeoman,and here followeth his Tale.

THE TALE OF
The Chanons Yeoman.

With this Chanon I dwelt seaven yere,
And of this Science am I never the nere:
All that I had I have lost thereby,
And God wotte soe hath many moe then I,
There I was wonte to be right,fresh and gay,
Of clothing and eke of other good aray;
Now may I weare an hose uppon myne heed:
And where my colour was both fresh and reed,
Now itt is wanne and of a leaden hewe,
Whoe soe itt useth,sore shall him rewe.
And of my swynke yett blered in myne Eye,
Lo which avauntage itt is to Multiply:
That slyding Science hath me made so bare,
That I have noe good where that ever I fare:
And yett I am indetted so thereby,
Of Gold,that I have borrowed truly,
That while I live I shall itt quitt never,
Let every man beware by me ever;
What manner man that casteth him thereto,
If he contynue I hold his thrifte I do do:
So helpe me God thereby shall he never wyn,
But empte his purse and make his witts thyn;
And whan he thorow his madnesse and folye,
Hath lost his ownw good through Jeopardye:
Than he exiteth other men thereto,
To lese her good as himselfe hath do;
For unto shrewes joy it is and ese,
To have her fellowes in paine and disese;
For thus was I ones served of a Clerke;
Of that noe charge,I wol speke of our werke.
When we be there as we shall exercise
Our elvish Craft,we semen wonder wise.
Our termes be so Clergiall and so quaynte,
I blow the fyre tyll myn hearte faynte.
What shold I tell each proportion
Of things which we werchen uppon?
As on fyve or syxe unces,may well be
Of Silver or of other quantite;
And besye me to tellen you the names,
Of Orpiment,brent Bones,Yron squames;
That into powder grounden ben full small,
And in an Erthen pott how putt is all:
And salt y put in and also pepere,
Before these powdres that I speke of here:
And well y covered with a lompe of Glasse,
And of moch other thing that there was.
And of the potts and glass englutyng,
That of the ayre might passe out nothing;
And of the easy fyre and smerte alsoe,
Which that was made,and of the care and wo
That we had in our matters Sublymeing,
And in Amalgamyng and Calsenyng:
Of Quicksilver icleped Mercury crude,
For all our fleight we conne not conclude.
Our Orpyment and Sublymed Mercury;
Our grounde Litarge eke on the porphirye:
Of eche of these unces a certayne
Not helepth us,our labour is in vayne;
Ne eke our Spyrites affecioun,
Ne yet our matters,that lyen al fyxe adoun:
Mowe in our werkyng nothing avayle,
For lost is our laboure and our travayle.
And all the Coste,a twenty dyvel away,
Is lost alsoe which we uppon itt lay.
There is alsoe full many another thing,
That is to our Craft apertaynyng:
Though I by ordre hem ne reherce can,
Bycause that I am a leud man.
Yet wol I tellen hem as they come to mynde,
Though I ne can sette hem in her kynde,
As bole Armonyake,Verdegreece,Boras,
And sondry Vessles made of Erth and Glas.
Our Urynalls and our Discensories,
Vyols,Crosseletts and Sublimatories:
Concurbytes and Alembykes eke,
And other such dere ynough a leke:
It needeth not to reherce them all,
Waters rubyfyeng and Boles,Gall;
Arsneke, Sal Armonyake and Brymstone,
And herbes could I tell eke many one:
As Egrimonye,Valeryan,and Lunarye,
And other such if that me lifte to tarye;
Our Lampes brennyng both night and day,
To bringen about our Crafte if that we may;
Our Fournyce eke of Calcination,
And of our Waters Albifycation.
Unfleked Lyme,Chalke,and glere of an eye,
Poudres divers,Ashes,Dong,Pisse,and Cley:
Sered pokettes,salt Peter,and Vitriole,
And divers fyres made of wood and cole;
Sal Tartre,Alkaly,and Sal preparate,
And combust matters,and coagulate,
Cley made with horse donge,mans heere and Oyle,
Of Tartre,Alym,Glas,Berme,Worte and Argoyle:
Resalgor and others maters enbybyng,
And eke of our Silver Citrynacion,
Our Cementyng,and eke Fermentacyon;
Our Ingottes,Testes and many mo.
I wol you tel as was me taught also,
The fowre Spyrites and the bodies seven,
By order as oft I herd my lord nemene.
The first Spyrite Quicksilver cleped is,
The second Orpyment,the third I wis
Armonyake,the fourth Brimstone.
The Bodyes seven eke lo here hem anone,
Sol Gold is,and Luna Sylver we threpe,
Mars,Iron,Mercury,Quicksilver we clepe:
Saturnus Lede,and Iupiter is Tynne,
And Venus Copper,by my father kynne.
This cursed Crafte whoe soe wol exercyse,
He shall noe good have that may him suffyse,
For all the good he spendeth thereaboute,
He lese shall thereof have I no doute;
Whoso that lysten to utter his solye,
Let him com forth and lerne to Multiplye:
And every man that hathh ought in his cofer.
Let him apere and wexe a Philosopher:
Askaunce that Crafte is so light for to lere;
Nay God wot all be he Monke or Frere,
Preist,or Chanon,or any other wight,
Though he sytte at hys boke both day and night;
In lernyng of this Elvysh nyce lore,
All is in vayne,and parde moche more;
Is to lere a leude man this subtelte,
Fye speke not thereof,itt wol not be;
Al coulde he lettrure or coulde he none,
As in effect he shall fynd itt all one;
For bothe two by may Salvacyon
Concluden in Multyplycacyon:
IIyche well whan they have al ydo,
This is to sayen,they faylen both two.
Yet forgate I moche rehersayle,
Of waters Corosyfe and lymayle:
And of Bodyes molifycacion,
And also of her Induration:
Oyles,Ablucyons,Mettall fusyble
To tellen you all,wolde passe any Byble:
That O where is,wherefore as for the best
Of all these names nowe woll I rest.
For as I trowe I have you told ynowe
To reyse a Fende,al loke he never sorowe.
A nay let be the Philosphers Stone;
Alixer cleped,we seken faste echeone,
For had we him,than were we syker ynowe:
But unto God of Heaven I make a vowe,
For al our crafte whan that we han al ydo,
And all our sleyght,he wol not come us to;
He hath made us spend moche goode,
For sorrow of which almost we wexen wode;
But that good hope crepeth in our herte,
Supposyng ever though we sore smerte,
To ben releved by him afterwarde,
Supposyng,and hope is sharpe and harde;
I warne you wel it is to syken ever,
That future temps hath made men discever,
In trust therof,all that ever they had,
Yet of that Arte,they could not waxe sad;
For unto him itt is a bytter swete,
So semeth itt,for ne had they but a shete:
Which that they might wrappen hem in a night,
And a bratte to walken in a day light;
They wolden hem sel and spend it on this Crafte,
They conne not stynte,tyl nothing be lafte;
And evermore where that ever they gone,
Men may hem ken by smell of Brimstone:
For al the world they stynken as a Gote,
Her Savour is so rammish and so hote:
That though a man myle from him be,
The savour wol infecte him trusteth me.
Lo thus by smelling and by threde bare aray,
If that men lift this folke know they may:
And if a man wol aske him prively,
Why they be clothed so unthriftely:
Right anon they wil rowne in his ere,
And sayne if that they be aspyed were,
Men wold hem flee bycause of her Science,
Lo thus these folke betrayen innocence.
Passe over this I goe my tale unto,
Ere that the pott be on the fyre ydo:
Of Mettalls with a certayne quantyte,
My Lord hem tempteth and no man but he:
Now he is gon I dare say boldly,
For as men sayne,he can done craftely;
Algate I wotte wel he hath such a name,
And yet full oft he renneth in the blame,
And wotte ye how full oft itt happeth so,
The potte to breaketh and farewel all is go.
These Mettalls ben of soe greate violence,
Our walls may not make hem resystence;
But if they were wrought of lyme and stone,
They percen soe and through the wall they gone;
And some of them synken into the ground,
Thus have we lost by tymes many a pound:
And some are scattered all the floore aboute,
Some lepen into the rofe withouten doute:
Tho that the fende not in our syght him shewe,
I trow that he with us be,that ilke shrewe:
In hell where that he is Lord and syre,
Ne is there no more wo,ne angre,ne yre:
When that our potte is broke as I have said,
Every man chyte and holte him yvell apayde.
Some sayd itt was long of the Fyre makeing,
Some sayd nay,it was on the blowing:
Than was I ferd,for that was myn offyce,
Straw(quod the third)ye ben lewde and nyce;
It was not tempered as it ought to bee,
Nay(quod the fourthe)stynte and herken me:
Bycause our fyre was not made of beche
That is the cause,and none other so teche;
I can not tell whereon itt is alonge,
But well I wotte greate strife is us among.
What(quod my lord)ther nys no more to done,
Of these perill I will beware ofte soone;
I am right Syker that the potte was crased,
Be as be may,be ye not amased;
As usage is,let swepe the floore as swythe,
Plucke up your heart and be glad and blythe.
The Mullocke on an heape yswepte was,
And on the floore cast a Canvas;
And all this Mullocke in a syve y throwe,
And ysyfted and yplucked many a throwe.
Parde(quod one)somewhat of our Mettall;
Yet is there here though we have not all;
And though this thyng mishapped hath as now,
Another tyme it may ben wel ynowe;
We mote put our good in aventure,
A Marchant parde may not aye endure;
Trusteth me wel in his prosperyte,
Sometyme his good is drowned in the see:
And sometyme it cometh safe unto the londe.
Peace(quod my lord)the next tyme I wol fonde,
To bring our Crafte all in another plyte,
And but I doe Syrs lett me have the wyte:
There was default in somewhat wel I wote.
Another sayd the Fyre was over hote.
But be it hotte or colde I dare say this,
That we concluden evermore amys:
We faylen of that which we wolde have,
And in our madnesse evermore we crave;
And whan we be togyther everychon,
Every man semeth as wyse as Solomon,
But all thing which that shyneth as the Golde,
Is not Golde as I have here tolde:
Ne every Apple that is faire at Eye,
Nys not good what so men clappe or cry.
Right soe itt fareth among us;
He that semeth the wysest by Iesus
Is most foole when it cometh to the prefe,
And he that semeth truest is a Theefe:
That shall ye know er that I from you wende,
By that I of my Tale have made an end.
There was a Chanon of Religyoun
Amonge us wolde enfect all a Towne,
Rome,Alysaundere,Troy,and other thre,
His sleyght and his infynyte falsenesse,
There couthe no man written as I gesse;
Though that he might lyve a thousand yere
In all this worlde of falsenesse nye his pere:
For in his termes he wol him so wynde,
And kepe his words in so slye a kynde,
Whan he comen shall with any wight,
That he wol make him dote anon right.
But it a feude be as himselfe is,
Full many a man hath he begyled er this;
And mo wol,if that he may lyve a whyle,
And yet men ryden and gone full many a myle
Him for to seeke and have acquayntaunce,
Not knowing of his false governaunce:
And if ye luste to give me audience,
I wol it tellen here in your presence.
Ne demeth not that I sclaunder your house;
Although my tale of a Chanon be,
Of every ordre some shrewe is parde:
And God forbid that al a Companye
Shoulde rue a syngle mannes folye.
To slaunder you is not myn entente,
But to correct that mysse is mente;
This tale was not only told for you,
But eke for other moe ye wotte wel howe;
That among Christs Apostles twelve,
There was no traytour but Iudas himselve:
Then why shoulde the remenant have blame
That gyltlesse were?by you I say the same:
Save only this,if you wol herken me;
If any Judas in your Covent be,
Remeveth him betyme I you rede,
If shame or losse may causen any drede,
And be nothing displesed I you pray,
But in this case herkenneth what I say.
In LONDON was a Preest annuellere,
That therin had dwelt many a yere,
Which was soe plesaunt and so servysable
Unto the Wyse,where he was att table;
That she wolde suffer him nothing to pay
For borde,ne clothing,went he never so gay;
And spending Sylver had he right ynowe,
There of no force I wol proceed as nowe:
And tell forth my tale of the Chanon,
That brought this Preest to confusyon.
This false Chanon came uppon a daye
Unto this Preests chamber where he laye,
Beseechyng him to leve him a certayne
Of Gold,and he wolde quyte him agen:
Leveth me a Marke(quod he)but dayes thre,
And att my day I wol quyte itt the;
And if it so be,that thou fynde me false,
Another day hang me by the halse.
This Preest toke him a Marke and that swyth,
And this Chanon him thanked oft syth;
And toke his leve,and went forth his wey,
And att his third day brought his money.
And to this Preest he toke this Gold ayen,
Whereof this Preest was gladde and fayn.
Certes(quod he) nothing anoyeth me
To lend a man a Noble,two or thre;
Or what thing were in my possession,
Whan he soe true is of Condition:
That in no wyse he breke wol his day,
To such a man I can never say nay.
What(quod this Chanon)sholde I be untrewe,
Nay!that were a thyng sallen of newe,
Trouthe is a thyng that wol ever I kepe
Unto the day,in which I shall crepe
Into my Grave,or els God forbede:
Beleveth this as syker as your Crede:
God thanke I and in good tyme be it sayd,
That there was never man yett yvel apayd;
For Gold ne Sylver that he to me lent,
Ne never falsehede in myn herte I ment.
And Sir(quod he)now of my privyte,
Sens ye so goodlych have ben to me;
And kythe to me so great gentlenesse,
Somwhat to quyte with your kyndnesse;
I wol you shewe if ye wol it lere,
(I shall it shewe to you anon right here)
How I can werche in Phylosophye:
Taketh good hede ye shall it se with your Eye,
That I woll done a Maistrye or I goe.
Ye sir(quod the Preest)and wol ye so?
Marye thereof I pray you hertely.
Att your Commandement Sir truly,
(Quod the Chanon)and els God forbede,
Lo how this thefe couthe his servyce bede.
Ful sothe itt is such profered servyse
Stynketh,as wittnesseth the olde wyse:
And that ful sone I wol it verefye,
In this Chanon rote of all trechery,
That evermore delyte hath and gladnesse:
Such fendly thoughts in his herte empresse,
How Christs people he may to mischiefe bring,
God kepe us from his false dissymuling.
What wyst this Preest with whom that he delte,
Ne of his harme comyng nothing he felte.
O sely Preest,O sely Innocente.
With Covetyse anon thou shalt be blente;
O gracelesse ful blynde is thy conceyte,
Nothyng arte thou ware of his deceyte.
Which that this foxe hath shapen to the,
His wylye wrenches thou mayst notfle.
Wherefore to goe to thy Conclusyon,
That referreth to thy confusyon:
Unhappy man anon I wol me hye,
To tell thyn unwitte ne thy folye:
And eke the falsenesse of that other wretch,
As fer forth as my connyng wol stretche.
This Chanon was my Lord ye wold wene,
Syr hoste in fayth and by the heven Quene:
It was another Chanon and not he,
That can an hundredfold more subtelte:
He hath betrayed folke many a tyme,
Of his falsenesse it doleth me to ryme;
Ever whan I speke of his falseheed,
For shame of him my chekes waxen reed:
Algates they begennen for to glowe,
For rednesse have I non right well I knowe
In my visage,for fumes dyverce
Of Mettalls which ye have herde me reherce,
Consumed and wasted hath my rednesse,
Now take heed of this Chanons Cursednesse.
Syr(quod he)to the Preest,set your Man gon,
For Quicksilver that we it had anon;
And lett him bring unces two or thre,
And whan he cometh as faste shul ye se
A wonder thyng which ye saw never er this;
Syr(quod the Preest)itt shalbe done iwys:
He badd his servaunte fetch him this thyng,
And he already was att his bydding;
And went him forth and came anon agayne
With this Quicksylver shortly for to sayne:
And toke these unces there to the Chanoun,
And he hem sayd well and fayre adoun:
And bade the servaunt Coles for to bryng,
That he anon might go to his werkyng.
The Coles right anon were yfet,
And this Chanon toke out a Crosselett
Of his bosome,and shewed it to the Preest:
This Instrument(quod he)which that thou seest
Take in thy hond,and put thy selfe therein
Of this Quicksylver an unce and begyn
In the name of Christ to wexe a Philosopher,
There be ful fewe which I wolde it profer;
To shewe him this moche of my Science,
For here shul ye se by experience,
That this Quicksylver I wol mortifye
Right in your syght anon withouten lye,
And make it as good Sylver and as fyne,
As there is any in your purse or myne,
Or elsewhere,and make it malliable,
Or els hold me false and unstable;
Amonges folke ever to appere.
I have a poudre that cost me deere,
Shall make all good,for it is cause of all
My connyng,which I you shewe shall;
Voydeth your Man,and let him be therout,
And shette the dore,whyles we be about
Our privetie,that no man us espy,
Whyles that we Werken in our Philosophye.
Al as he bade fulfylled was indede:
This ylke servant anon out yede,
And his Maister shette the dore anon,
And to her labour spedily they gone.
This Preest at this cursed Chanons byddyng,
Uppon the fyre anon set this thyng;
And blewe the fyre and besyed him ful faste,
And this Chanon into the croslet caste
A pouder,I not wherof it was,
Ymade either of Chalke,Erthe,or Glasse
Or somwhat els,was not worth a fly,
To blynde with this Preest,and bade him hye
These Coles for to couchen al above
The Crosslet for in token that I the love;
(Quod this Chanon)thyn hondes two,
Shal werke al thing that here shalbe do;
Graunt mercy(quod the Preest)and was ful glad,
And couched coles as the Chanon bad.
And whyle he besy was,this fendely wretch,
This false Chanon,the foule fende him fetch;
Out of his bosome toke a bechen cole,
In which ful subtelly was made an hole,
Anf therein was put of Sylver lymayle,
An unce,and stopped was without fayle,
The hole with waxe to kepe the Limayle in.
And understandeth that this false gyn
Was not made there,but it was made byfore;
And other thynges that I shall you tell more
Herafter,that whiche he with him brought,
Er he came there to begyle him he thought:
And so he did er they went a twynne
Till he had turned him,coulde he not blynne,
It dulleth me whan that I of him speke,
On his false hede fayne wolde I me wreke,
If I wyste how,but he is here and there,
He is so varyaunt he bydeth no where.
But taketh heed Syrs nowe for Godds love,
He toke his Cole of which I spake above,
And in his honde he bare it prively,
And whyles the Preest couched besily
The Coles,as I told you er this,
This Chanon sayd,Frende ye done amys:
This is not couched as it ought to be;
But sone I shall amend it (quod he)
Nowe let me medle therwith but a whyle,
For of you have I pyte by Saint Gyle:
Ye ben right hotte,I se wel how ye swete,
Have here a clothe and wype away the wete:
And while the Preest wyped hace,
This Chanon toke the Cole,I shrewe his face:
And layd it aboven uppon the mydwarde
Of the Croslet,and blewe wel afterwarde,
Till that the Coles gone faste brenne.
Nowe yeve us drinke(quod this Chanon)then,
As swythe al shall be well I undertake,
Sytte we downe and let us mery make;
And whan this Chanons bechen Cole
Was brent,al the Limayle out of the hole
Into the Croslet anon fell adoun,
And soe it must needes by resoun,
Sens it so even above couched was,
But thereof wyste the Preest nothing alas:
He demed all the coles lyche goode,
For of the sleyght nothing he understoode.
And whan this Alkamistre sawe his tyme,
Ryseth up Syr Preest(quod he)and stondeth byme;
And for I wott well yngot have I none:
Gothe walketh forth and brynge a chalke stone,
For I wol make it of the same shappe,
That an yngott is if I may have happe;
And bring eke with you a bolle or a panne
Full of water,and you shall se thanne,
How that our besynesse shall happe and preve,
And yet for ye shall have no misbyleve,
Ne wronge conceyte of me in your absence,
I wol not ben out of your presence:
But goe with you and come with yon agayne.
The Chamber dore shortly to sayne,
They opened and shette and went forth her wey,
And forthe with him they carryed the key;
And comen agen withouten any delay,
What shulde I tarry all the long day?
He toke the Chalke and shope it in the wyse
Of an yngot as I shall you devyse.
I say he toke out of his owne sleve
A teyne of Sylver,yvel mote he cheve;
Which that was but an unce of weight,
And taketh heed now of his cursed sleight,
He shope his yngot in lenght and in brede,
Of the teyne withouten any drede,
So slily that the Preest it not aspyde,
And in his sleve agayne he gan it hyde;
And from the fyre toke up his Mattere,
And into the yngot it put with mery chere:
And into the water-vessele he it caste
Whan that him list,and bade the Preest as faste
Looke what there is put in thyn honde,and grope,
Thou shalt finde there Sylver as I hope;
What dyvel of hell shulde it els be?
Shaving of Sylver,Sylver is parde.
He put in his honde and toke up a Teyne
Of silver fyne,and glad in every veyne
Was this Preest,whan he saw itt was so,
Gods blessynge and his Mothers also:
And al hallowes have ye Sir Chanon
Sayd the Preest,and I her Malyson.
But and ye vouchsafe to teche me
This noble Crafte,and this subtelte;
I wol be yours in al that ever I may.
Quod the Chanon yet woll I make assay
The seconde tyme,that ye mowe take heede,
And ben expert of this and in your neede
Another day assay in myn absence,
This Disciplyne and this crafty Science.
Lette take onother ounce(quod he)tho
Of Quicksylver withouten words mo,
And don therwith as I have don er this,
With that other which that nowe silver is.
This Preest him besyethnin all that he can,
To don as this Chanon this cursed man
Commanded him,and fast blew the fyre
For to come to the effect of his desyre;
And this Chanon right in the meane while,
All redy was,this Preest efte to begyle;
And for a Countenance in his honde bare
An holow sticke,take keepe and beware;
In thend of which an unce and no more
Of Sylver Lymayle putte was,as before,
Was in his cole,and stopped with wexe wele,
For to kepen in his Lymaile every dele.
And whiles this Preest was in his besynesse
This Chanon with his sticke gan him dresse
To him anon,and his poudre cast in,
As he did erst,the Dyvell out of his skyn
Him torne,I pray to God for his falshede,
For he was ever false in thought and dede:
And with his sticke above the Crosslette,
That was ordeyned with that false iette,
He styreth the coles tyl all relent gan
The waxe agayne the fye,as every man,
But he a foole be,wote wel it mote nede,
And al that in the hole was out yede:
And into the crosslette hastely it fell.
The Preest supposed nothing but well,
But besyed him fast and was wonder fayne,
Supposing nought but trouthe,soth to sayne:
He was so gladd that I cannot expresse,
In no manere his mirth and his gladnesse;
And to the Chanon he profered eft soone
Body and good:ye(quod the Chanon)anone,
Though I be poore,crafty thou shalt me fynde,
I warne the yet is there more behynde,
Is there any Copper here within sayd he?
Ye Sir(quod the Preest)I trowe there be.
Els go bye some and that aswythe.
Nowe good Sir go forth thy way and hythe.
He went his way and with the Coper he came,
And this Chanon in his honde it name;
And of that Coper wayed out but an unce,
All to symple is my tonge to pronounce:
As to ministre by my wytte the doublenesse
Of this Chanon,roote of all cursydnesse:
He semed freindly to hem that knew him nought.
But he was fendly both in werke and thought,
It weryeth me to tell of his falsenesse
And nathlesse,yet wol I it expresse,
To the entent that men may beware thereby,
And for none other cause truly.
He put this unce of Coper into the Crosslett,
And on the fyre as swythe he hath it sett;
And cast in pouder,and made the Preest to blowe,
And in his workeing for to stoupe lowe:
As he did erste,and all nas but a jape,
Right as him lyste,the Preest he made his Ape;
And afterward in the yngot he it caste,
And in the panne put it at the laste
Of water,and in he put his owne honde,
And in his sleve,as ye by forehonde
Herd me tell,he had a Sylver Teyne,
He slily toke it out,this cursed heyne,
Unwetyng this Preest of his false crafte,
And in the pannes botome he hath it lafte,
And in the water rombleth to and fro:
And wonder prively toke up also
The coper Teyne,not knowing this Preest,
And hydde itt,and hent him by the brest;
And to him spake,and thus sayd in his game,
Stoupeth adowne,by God ye be to blame,
Helpeth me nowe,as I did you whylere:
Put in your honde,and loketh what is there.
This Preest toke up this Sylver Teyne anone,
And then said the Chanon,lette us gon
With these thre Teynes which we han wrought
To some Goldsmythe,and wete if it be ought:
For by my faith,I nolde for my hoode,
But if it were Sylver fyne and goode,
And that as swythe wellproved shalbe.
Unto the Goldsmythe with these Teynes three,
They went and put them in assaye,
To fyre and hammer,might no man say nay,
But they were as them ought for to be.
This sotted Preest who was gladder then he,
Was never Byrd gladder agenst the day,
Ne Nightyngale agenst the ceason of May,
Was never none,that lyst better to synge,
Ne Lady lustier in Carolyng:
And for to speke of love and woman hede,
Ne Knight in armes to done a herdy dede,
To stonden in grace of his Lady dere,
Then had this Preest this crafte to lere,
And to the Chanon,thus he spake and sayd
For the love of God,that for us all deyd,
And as I may deserve it unto yow,
What shall this receite cost,telleth me nowe?
By our Lady(quod this Chanon)it is dere,
I warne you well,save I and a Frere:
In ENGLAND there can no man it make.
No force(quod he)nowe Sir for Gods sake,
What shall I pay?tell me I you pray.
I wys (quod he)it is ful dere I say.
Syr at one word if that ye lyst it have,
Ye shall pay fortye pound,so God me save:
And nere the freindshyp that ye did er this
To me,ye shulden pay more y wys.
This Preest the some of forty pounde anon
Of Nobles fette,and told hem everychon
To this Chanon for this ilke receyte,
All his worchyng was fraude and deceyte.
Syr Preest he said; I kepe for to have no loos
Of my craft,for I wold itt were kept cloos:
And as ye love me kepeth it secre,
For and men knowe all my Subtelte,
By God men wolde have soe greate envye
To me by cause of my Phylosophye:
I shulde be deed,ther were none other way.
God it forbid(quod the Preest)what ye say:
Yet had I lever spend all the good,
Which that I have,or els waxe I wood
Than that ye shoulde fallen in such mischeife:
For your good wyll have ye right good prefe,
(Quod the Chanon)and farewell graunt mercy:
He went his way,and never the Preest him sey
After that day:And whan that this Preest sholde
Maken assay at such tyme as he wolde,
Of this receyte,farwell it nold not be:
Lo thus bejaped and begyled was he.
Thus maketh he his Introduction,
To bringe folke to her distruction.
Consydereth Sirs,howe in eche estate:
Betwixt Men and Gold is debate,
Soe fer forthe,that unneths there is none,
This Multiplying blyndeth so many one;
That in good fayth,I trowe that it be
The greatest cause of such scarsyte:
These Phylosophers speken so mistily,
In this Crafte,that men cannot come thereby,
For any witte that men have nowe adayes,
They may well chattre and jangle as doth the Jayes:
And in her termes sett her luste and payne,
But to her purpose shall they never attaine;
A man may lightly lerne if he have ought,
To Multiply and bring his good to nought:
Lo such a Lucre is in this lusty game,
A mans myrthe it wol turne all to grame:
And emptien also greate and hevy purses,
And maken folke to purchase curses:
Of hem that han alsoe her good ylent.
Of fye for shame,they that han be brente:
Alas cannot they fly the fyres hete,
Ye that it usen,I rede thet ye it lete:
Lest ye lesen al,for bet then never is late,
Never to thryve were to long a date,
Though that ye prolle aye ye shall it never fynde,
Ye ben as bold as is Bayarde the blynde;
That blondereth forth,and perill casteth none;
He is as bolde to renne agenst a stone,
As for to go besyde in the way;
So faren ye that multiplyen I say;
If that your Eyen can not sene aright,
Loketh that your Mynde lacke not his sight;
For though ye loke never soe brode and stare,
Ye shall not wynne a myte in that chaffare:
But waste all that ye may repe and renne,
Withdrawe the fyre least it ti fast brenne:
Medleth with that Arte noe more I mene;
For yf ye done your thrifte is gone full cleane.
And right as swythe I woll you tellen here,
What that the Phylosophers sayne in this mattere.
Lo thus saith Arnolde of the newe toune,
As his Rosarye maketh mencioune:
He sayth right thus withouten any lye,
There may noe man Mercury mortifye;
But if it be with his brothers knowlegyng;
Lo how that he which firste sayd this thyng
Of Phylosophers father was,Hermes.
He saythe how that the Dragon doutlesse
Ne dyeth not,but if he be slayne
With his brother:and this is for to sayne,
By the Dragon Mercurye and none other,
He understood that Brimstone was his brother.
That out of Sol and Luna were ydrawe,
And therefore sayd he,take heed to my sawe.
Let no man besye him this Arte for to seche,
But he that the Entention and speche
Of Phylosophers understonde can,
And if he do he is a leud man:
For this Science,and this connyng(quod he)
Is of the Secre,of the Secres parde.
Alsoe there was a Disciple of Plato,
That on a tyme sayd his Maister to:
As his booke Senior wol bere wytnesse,
And this was his demaunde in sothfastnesse.
Tell me the name of the privy Stone?
And Plato answered unto him anone,
Take the Stone that Tytanos men name.
Which is that(quod he?)Magnatia is the same,
Said Plato: ye Sir,and is it thus?
This is ignotum per ignotius:
What is Magnatia good Sir I you pray?
It is a Water that is made I say
Of Elements foure(quod Plato)
Tell me the Rocke good Sir(quod he tho)
Of that Water,if it be your wyll.
Nay nay(quod Plato)certayne that I nyll,
The Philosophers were y sworne echone,
That they shulde discover it unto none;
Ne in no Boke it write in no manere,
For unto Christ it is so lefe and dere,
That he wol not that it discovered be,
But where it liketh to his deite;
Man to enspyre and eke for to defende,
Whan that him lyketh,lo this is his ende.
Then conclude I thus,sens the God of heaven,
Ne wyl not that the Phylosophers nemen:
Howe that a Man shall come unto this Stone,
I rede as for the best,lett itt gone;
For who so maketh God his adversary,
As for to werche any thing in contrary:
Unto his will,certes never shall he thrive;
Though that he Multiplye terme of his live,
And there a poynte:for ended is my Tale,
God send every true man Bote of his bale.


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