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From General Prologue, lines 671-716:
The Pardoner
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From The Canterbury Tales:
General Prologue
lines 717-785: The proposal of the Host


       Now have I toold you shortly in a clause,
Th'estaat, th'array, the nombre, and eek the cause
Why that assembled was this compaignye
720In Southwerk, at this gentil hostelrye
That highte the Tabard, faste by the Belle.
But now is tyme to yow for to telle
How that we baren us that ilke nyght,
Whan we were in that hostelrie alyght;
725And after wol I telle of our viage
And all the remenaunt of oure pilgrimage.
But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye,
That ye n'arette it nat my vileynye,
Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere,
730To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere,
Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely.
For this ye knowen also wel as I,
Whoso shal telle a tale after a man,
He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan
735Everich a word, if it be in his charge,
Al speke he never so rudeliche or large,
Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,
Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe.
He may nat spare, al thogh he were his brother;
740He moot as wel seye o word as another.
Crist spak hymself ful brode in hooly writ,
And, wel ye woot, no vileynye is it.
Eek Plato seith, whoso kan hym rede,
The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede.
745Also I prey yow to foryeve it me,
Al have I nat set folk in hir degree
Heere in this tale, as that they sholde stonde.
My wit is short, ye may wel understonde.
       Now have I told you briefly, in a clause,
The state, the array, the number, and the cause
Of the assembling of this company
720In Southwark, at this noble hostelry
Known as the Tabard Inn, closely to the Bell.
But now the time has come wherein to tell
How we conducted ourselves that very night
When at the hostelry we did alight.
725And afterward the story I begin
To tell you of our pilgrimage we're in.
But first, I beg, address your courtesy,
You'll not ascribe it to vulgarity
Though I speak plainly of this matter here,
730Explain to you their words and means of cheer;
Nor though I use their very terms, nor lie.
For this thing do you know as well as I:
When one repeats a tale told by a man,
He must report, as closely as he can,
735Every single word, as he remembers it,
How vulgar it be, or how unfit;
Or else he may be telling what's untrue,
Embellishing, even making up things too.
He may not spare, although it were his brother;
740He must as well say one word as another.
Christ spoke very plainly, in holy writ,
And, you know well, there's nothing rude in it.
And Plato says, to those able to read:
"The word should be the cousin to the deed."
745Also, I beg that you'll forgive it me
If I have not set folk, in their degree
Here in this tale, by rank as they should stand.
My wit is short, as you'll well understand.
       Greet chiere made oure Hoost us everichon,
750And to the soper sette he us anon.
He served us with vitaille at the beste;
Strong was the wyn, and wel to drynke us leste.
A semely man OURE HOOSTE was withalle
For to been a marchal in an halle.
755A large man he was, with eyen stepe -
A fairer burgeys was ther noon in Chepe -
Boold of his speche, and wys, and well ytaught,
And of manhod hym lakkede right naught.
Eek therto he was right a myrie man,
760And after soper pleyen he bigan,
And spak of myrthe amonges othere thynges,
Whan that we hadde maad our rekenynges,
And seyde thus: "Now lordynges, trewely,
Ye been to me right welcome hertely;
765For by my trouthe, if that I shal nat lye,
I saugh nat this yeer so myrie a compaignye
Atones in this herberwe, as is now.
Fayn wolde I doon yow myrthe, wiste I how.
And of a myrthe I am right now bythoght,
770To doon yow ese, and it shal coste noght.
       Great fun our host provided, every one,
750Was set and the supper straightway begun;
And served us then with victuals of the best.
Strong was the wine and pleasant to each guest.
A seemly man our good host was, withal,
And fit to be a marshal in a hall;
755A large man he was, with piercing eyes,
As fine a burgher as in Cheapside lies;
Bold in his speech, and wise, and fairly taught,
And as to manhood, lacking there was not.
Moreover, he's a very merry man,
760And after dinner, with playing he began,
And spoke of mirth among some other things,
When all of us had paid our reckonings;
And saying thus: "Now my lords, truly
You are all welcome here, and heartily:
765On my word, I'm telling you no lie,
I have not seen, this year, a company
Here in this inn, fitter for sport than now.
Fain I'd make you happy, if I'd knew how.
And of a game have I this moment thought
770To give you joy, and it shall cost you not.
       Ye goon to Caunterbury - God yow speede,
The blisful martir quite yow youre meede!
And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye,
Ye shapen yow to talen and to pleye,
775For trewely, confort ne myrthe is noon
To ride by the weye doumb as stoon;
And therfore wol I maken yow disport,
As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort.
And if yow liketh alle by oon assent
780For to stonden at my juggement,
And for to werken as I shal yow seye,
To-morwe, whan ye riden by the weye,
Now, by my fader soule that is deed,
But ye be myrie, I wol yeve yow myn heed!
785Hoold up youre hond, withouten moore speche."
       "You go to Canterbury; may God speed
And the blest martyr listens to your need.
And well I know, as you go on your way,
You'll tell good tales and shape yourselves to play;
775For truly there's no mirth nor comfort, none,
Riding the roads as dumb as is a stone;
And therefore I provide to you a sport,
As I just said, to give you some comfort.
And if you like it all, unanimously,
780Accept my judgement, submit yourselves, agree
And will so do as I'll proceed to say,
Tomorrow, when you ride upon your way,
Then, by my father's spirit, who is dead,
If you're not merry, I will give you my head.
785Hold up your hands, nor more about it speak."




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From General Prologue, lines 786-811:
The rules of the game
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