Chaucer's Works (ed. Skeat) Vol. I/XVII
XVII. LENVOY DE CHAUCER A BUKTON.
The counseil of Chaucer touching Mariage, which
was sent to Bukton.
My maister Bukton, whan of Criste our kinge
Was axed, what is trouthe or sothfastnesse,
He nat a word answerde to that axinge,
As who saith: 'no man is al trewe,' I gesse.
And therfor, thogh I highte to expresse 5
The sorwe and wo that is in mariage,
I dar not wryte of hit no wikkednesse,
Lest I my-self falle eft in swich dotage.
I wol nat seyn, how that hit is the cheyne
Of Sathanas, on which he gnaweth ever, 10
But I dar seyn, were he out of his peyne,
As by his wille, he wolde be bounde never.
But thilke doted fool that est hath lever
Y-cheyned be than out of prisoun crepe,
God lete him never fro his wo dissever, 15
Ne no man him bewayle, though he wepe.
But yit, lest thou do worse, tak a wyf;
Bet is to wedde, than brenne in worse wyse.
But thou shalt have sorwe on thy flesh, thy lyf,
And been thy wyves thral, as seyn these wyse, 20
And if that holy writ may nat suffyse,
Experience shal thee teche, so may happe,
That thee were lever to be take in Fryse
Than eft to falle of wedding in the trappe.
This litel writ, proverbes, or figure 25
I sende you, tak kepe of hit, I rede:
Unwys is he that can no wele endure.
If thou be siker, put thee nat in drede.
The Wyf of Bathe I pray you that ye rede
Of this matere that we have on honde. 30
God graunte you your lyf frely to lede
In fredom; for ful hard is to be bonde. 32
Title: so in MS. Fairfax 16. Second Title from Ju.
The authorities are: F. (Fairfax 16); Th. (Thynne's edition, 1532); and a printed copy by Julian Notary (Ju.). I follow F. mainly.
2. F. ys; sothefastnesse. 3. F. worde. 4. F. noo. Ju. Th. trewe; F. trew. 5. F. therfore though; hight (Ju. hyghte). 6. F. woo. 7. F. writen; hyt noo. 8. Ju. Lest; F. Leste. 9. F. hyt. 10. F. euere. 11. F. oute. 12. F. neuere. 13. F. foole. Th. efte; F. ofte; Ju. oft. F. leuere. 15. F. woo disseuere. 16. F. noo. 17. F. yet; thow doo; take; wyfe. 19. F. thow; flessh; lyfe. 20. F. ben. F. wifes; Ju. Th. wynes.
21. F. yf; hooly writte. 22. F. the. 23. F. the. 24. F. Ju. om. to; which Th. inserts. 25. F. writte; Th. writ; Ju. wryt. 26. F. yow take; hyt. 27. F. Vnwise; kan noo. 28. F. thow; the. 29. F. wyfe; yow. 31. F. yow; lyfe. 32. F. fredam. F. harde it is; Ju. hard is; Th. foule is (omitting ful). All add Explicit.