HERE FOLLOW THE WORDS OF THE FRANKLIN TO THE SQUIRE, AND THE WORDS OF
THE HOST TO THE FRANKLIN
In faith, sir squire, you have done well with it,
And openly I praise you for your wit,"
The franklin said, "Considering your youth,
So feelingly you speak, sir, in good truth!
In my opinion, there is none that's here
In eloquence shall ever be your peer,
If you but live; may God give you good chance
And in all virtue send continuance!
For, sir, your speech was great delight to me.
I have a son, and by the Trinity
I'd rather have, than twenty pounds in land,
Though it were right now fallen to my hand,
He were a man of such discretion shown
As you, sir; fie on what a man may own,
Unless the man have virtue therewithal.
I've checked my son, and yet again I shall,
For he toward virtue chooses not to wend;
But just to play at dice, and gold to spend,
And lose all that he has, is his usage.
And he would rather talk with any page
Than to commune with any gentle wight
From whom he might, learn courtesy aright."
"A straw for courtesy!" exclaimed our host;
"What, franklin? Gad, sir, well you know, I trust,
That each of you must tell us, at the least,
A tale or two, or break his sworn behest."
"I know it," said the franklin; "I am fain,
And pray you all, you do not me disdain,
Though to this man I speak a word or two."
"Come, tell your tale, sir, without more ado."
"Gladly, sir host," said he, "I will obey
Your will, good host; now hearken what I say.
For I'll not be contrary in any wise,
At least so far as my wit shall suffice;
I pray to God that it may please you; rough
Though it may be, I'll know 'tis good enough.
These ancient gentle Bretons, in their days,
Of divers high adventures made great lays
And rhymed them in their primal Breton tongue,
The which lays to their instruments they sung,
Or else recited them where joy might be;
And one of them have I in memory,
Which I shall gladly tell you, as I can.
But, sirs, because I am an ignorant man,
At my beginning must I first beseech
You will excuse me for my vulgar speech;
I never studied rhetoric, that's certain;
That which I say, it must be bare and plain.
I never slept on Mount Parnassus, no,
Nor studied Marcus Tullius Cicero.
Colours I know not, there's no doubt indeed,
Save colours such as grow within the mead,
Or such as men achieve with dye or paint.
Colours of rhetoric I find but quaint;
My spirit doesn't feel the beauty there.
But if you wish, my story you shall hear."
HERE ENDS THE FRANKLIN'S PROLOGUE