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Quotes from Chaucer

Source: John Bartlett (18201905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

1
    Whanne that April with his shoures sote
The droughte of March hath perced to the rote.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 1.
2
    And smale foules maken melodie,
That slepen alle night with open eye,
So priketh hem nature in hir corages;
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 9.
3
    And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 69.
4
    He was a veray parfit gentil knight.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 72.
5
    He coude songes make, and wel endite.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 95.
6
    Ful wel she sange the service devine,
Entuned in hire nose ful swetely;
And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly,
After the scole of Stratford atte bowe,
For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 122.
7
    A Clerk ther was of Oxenforde also.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 287.
8
    For him was lever han at his beddes hed
A twenty bokes, clothed in black or red,
Of Aristotle, and his philosophie,
Than robes riche, or fidel, or sautrie.
But all be that he was a philosophre,
Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 295.
9
    And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 310.
10
    Nowher so besy a man as he ther n’ as,
And yet he semed besier than he was.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 323.
11
    His studie was but litel on the Bible.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 440.
12
    For gold in phisike is a cordial;
Therefore he loved gold in special.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 445.
13
    Wide was his parish, and houses fer asonder.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 493.
14
    This noble ensample to his shepe he yaf,—
That first he wrought, and afterwards he taught.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 498.
15
    But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught; but first he folwed it himselve.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 529.
16
    And yet he had a thomb of gold parde. 1
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 565.
17
    Who so shall telle a tale after a man,
He moste reherse, as neighe as ever he can,
Everich word, if it be in his charge,
All speke he never so rudely and so large;
Or elles he moste tellen his tale untrewe,
Or feinen thinges, or finden wordes newe.
          Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 733.
18
    For May wol have no slogardie a-night.
The seson priketh every gentil herte,
And maketh him out of his slepe to sterte.
          Canterbury Tales. The Knightes Tale. Line 1044.
19
    That field hath eyen, and the wood hath ears. 2
          Canterbury Tales. The Knightes Tale. Line 1524.
20
    Up rose the sonne, and up rose Emelie.
          Canterbury Tales. The Knightes Tale. Line 2275.
21
    Min be the travaille, and thin be the glorie.
          Canterbury Tales. The Knightes Tale. Line 2408.
22
    To maken vertue of necessite. 3
          Canterbury Tales. The Knightes Tale. Line 3044.
23
    And brought of mighty ale a large quart.
          Canterbury Tales. The Milleres Tale. Line 3497.
24
    Ther n’ is no werkman whatever he be,
That may both werken wel and hastily. 4
This wol be done at leisure parfitly. 5
          Canterbury Tales. The Marchantes Tale. Line 585.
25
    Yet in our ashen cold is fire yreken. 6
          Canterbury Tales. The Reves Prologue. Line 3880.
26
    The gretest clerkes ben not the wisest men.
          Canterbury Tales. The Reves Tale. Line 4051.
27
    So was hire joly whistle wel ywette.
          Canterbury Tales. The Reves Tale. Line 4153.
28
    In his owen grese I made him frie. 7
          Canterbury Tales. The Reves Tale. Line 6069.
29
    And for to see, and eek for to be seie. 8
          Canterbury Tales. The Wif of Bathes Prologue. Line 6134.
30
    I hold a mouses wit not worth a leke,
That hath but on hole for to sterten to. 9
          Canterbury Tales. The Wif of Bathes Prologue. Line 6154.
31
    Loke who that is most vertuous alway,
Prive and apert, and most entendeth ay
To do the gentil dedes that he can,
And take him for the gretest gentilman.
          Canterbury Tales. The Wif of Bathes Tale. Line 6695.
32
    That he is gentil that doth gentil dedis. 10
          Line 6752.
33
    This flour of wifly patience.
          Canterbury Tales. The Clerkes Tale. Part v. Line 8797.
34
    They demen gladly to the badder end.
          Canterbury Tales. The Squieres Tale. Line 10538.
35
    Therefore behoveth him a ful long spone,
That shall eat with a fend. 11
          Line 10916.
36
    Fie on possession,
But if a man be vertuous withal.
          Canterbury Tales. The Frankeleines Prologue. Line 10998.
37
    Truth is the highest thing that man may keep.
          Canterbury Tales. The Frankeleines Tale. Line 11789.
38
    Full wise is he that can himselven knowe. 12
          Canterbury Tales. The Monkes Tale. Line 1449.
39
    Mordre wol out, that see we day by day. 13
          Canterbury Tales. The Nonnes Preestes Tale. Line 15058.
40
    But all thing which that shineth as the gold
Ne is no gold, as I have herd it told. 14
          Canterbury Tales. The Chanones Yemannes Tale. Line 16430.
41
    The firste vertue, sone, if thou wilt lere,
Is to restreine and kepen wel thy tonge.
          Canterbury Tales. The Manciples Tale. Line 17281.
42
    The proverbe saith that many a smale maketh a grate. 15
          Canterbury Tales. Persones Tale.
43
    Of harmes two the lesse is for to cheese. 16
          Troilus and Creseide. Book ii. Line 470.
44
    Right as an aspen lefe she gan to quake.
          Line 1201.
45
    For of fortunes sharpe adversite,
The worst kind of infortune is this,—
A man that hath been in prosperite,
And it remember whan it passed is.
          Troilus and Creseide. Book iii. Line 1625.
46
    He helde about him alway, out of drede,
A world of folke.
          Troilus and Creseide. Book iii. Line 1721.
47
    One eare it heard, at the other out it went. 17
          Troilus and Creseide. Book iv. Line 435.
48
    Eke wonder last but nine deies never in toun. 18
          Troilus and Creseide. Book iv. Line 525.
49
    I am right sorry for your heavinesse.
          Troilus and Creseide. Book v. Line 146.
50
    Go, little booke! go, my little tragedie!
          Troilus and Creseide. Book v. Line 1798.
51
    Your duty is, as ferre as I can gesse.
          The Court of Love. Line 178.
52
    The lyfe so short, the craft so long to lerne, 19
Th’ assay so hard, so sharpe the conquering.
          The Assembly of Fowles. Line 1.
53
    For out of the old fieldes, as men saithe,
Cometh al this new corne fro yere to yere;
And out of old bookes, in good faithe,
Cometh al this new science that men lere.
          The Assembly of Fowles. Line 22.
54
    Nature, the vicar of the Almightie Lord.
          The Assembly of Fowles. Line 379.
55
    O little booke, thou art so unconning,
How darst thou put thy-self in prees for drede?
          The Flower and the Leaf. Line 59.
56
    Of all the floures in the mede,
Than love I most these floures white and rede,
Soch that men callen daisies in our toun.
          Prologue of the Legend of Good Women. Line 41.
57
    That well by reason men it call may
The daisie, or els the eye of the day,
The emprise, and floure of floures all.
          Prologue of the Legend of Good Women. Line 183.
58
    For iii may keep a counsel if twain be away. 20
          The Ten Commandments of Love.




Note 1.
In allusion to the proverb, “Every honest miller has a golden thumb.” [back]
Note 2.
Fieldes have eies and woodes have eares.—John Heywood: Proverbes, part ii. chap. v.

Wode has erys, felde has sigt.—King Edward and the Shepherd, MS. Circa 1300.

Walls have ears.—Hazlitt: English Proverbs, etc. (ed. 1869) p. 446. [back]
Note 3.
Also in Troilus and Cresseide, line 1587.

To make a virtue of necessity.—William Shakespeare: Two Gentlemen of Verona, act iv. sc. 2. Mathew Henry: Comm. on Ps. xxxvii. John Dryden: Palamon and Arcite.

In the additions of Hadrianus Julius to the Adages of Erasmus, he remarks, under the head of Necessitatem edere, that a very familiar proverb was current among his countrymen,—“Necessitatem in virtutem commutare” (To make necessity a virtue).

Laudem virtutis necessitati damus (We give to necessity the praise of virtue).— Quintilian: Inst. Orat. i. 8. 14. [back]
Note 4.
Haste makes waste.—John Heywood: Proverbs, part i. chap. ii.

Nothing can be done at once hastily and prudently.—Publius Syrus: Maxim 357. [back]
Note 5.
Ease and speed in doing a thing do not give the work lasting solidity or exactness of beauty.—Plutarch: Life of Pericles. [back]
Note 6.
E’en in our ashes live their wonted fires.—Thomas Gray: Elegy, Stanza 23. [back]
Note 7.
Frieth in her own grease.—John Heywood: Proverbs, part i. chap. xi. [back]
Note 8.
To see and to be seen.—Ben Jonson: Epithalamion, st. iii. line 4. Oliver Goldsmith: Citizen of the World, letter 71.

Spectatum veniunt, veniunt spectentur ut ipsæ (They come to see; they come that they themselves may be seen).—Ovid: The Art of Love, i. 99. [back]
Note 9.
Consider the little mouse, how sagacious an animal it is which never entrusts his life to one hole only.—Plautus: Truculentus, act iv. sc. 4.

The mouse that always trusts to one poor hole
Can never be a mouse of any soul.
Alexander Pope: Paraphrase of the Prologue, line 298. [back]
Note 10.
Handsome is that handsome does.—Oliver Goldsmith: Vicar of Wakefield, chap. i. [back]
Note 11.
Hee must have a long spoon, shall eat with the devill.—John Heywood: Proverbes, part ii. chap v.

He must have a long spoon that must eat with the devil.—William Shakespeare: Comedy of Errors, act iv. sc. 3. [back]
Note 12.
Thales was asked what was very difficult; he said, “To know one’s self.”—Diogenes Laertius: Thales, ix.

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man.
Alexander Pope: Epistle ii. line 1. [back]
Note 13.
Murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, act ii. sc. 2. [back]
Note 14.
Tyrwhitt says this is taken from the Parabolae of Alanus de Insulis, who died in 1294,—Non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum (Do not hold everything as gold which shines like gold).

All is not golde that outward shewith bright.—Lydgate: On the Mutability of Human Affairs.

Gold all is not that doth golden seem.—Edmund Spenser: Faerie Queene, book ii. canto viii. st. 14.

All that glisters is not gold.—William Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice, act ii. sc. 7. Googe: Eglogs, etc., 1563. George Herbert: Jacula Prudentum.

All is not gold that glisteneth.—Thomas Middleton: A Fair Quarrel, verse 1.

All, as they say, that glitters is not gold.— John Dryden: The Hind and the Panther.

Que tout n’est pas or c’on voit luire (Everything is not gold that one sees shining).—Li Diz de freire Denise Cordelier, circa 1300. [back]
Note 15.
Many small make a great.—John Heywood: Proverbes, part i. chap. xi. [back]
Note 16.
Of two evils the less is always to be chosen.—Thomas à Kempis: Imitation of Christ, book ii. chap. xii. Richard Hooker: Polity, book v. chap. lxxxi.

Of two evils I have chose the least.—Matthew Prior: Imitation of Horace.

E duobus malis minimum eligendum (Of two evils, the least should be chosen).—Erasmus: Adages. Cicero: De Officiis, iii. 1. [back]
Note 17.
Went in at the tone eare and out at the tother.—John Heywood: Proverbes, part ii. chap. ix. [back]
Note 18.
This wonder lasted nine daies.—John Heywood: Proverbes, part ii. chap. i. [back]
Note 19.
Ars longa, vita brevis (Art is long: life is brief).—Hippocrates: Aphorism i. [back]
Note 20.
Three may keepe counsayle, if two be away.—John Heywood: Proverbes, part ii. chap. v. [back]




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Created by Anniina Jokinen on July 26, 1996. Last updated on August 31, 2012.



 




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