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From The Merchant's Tale, lines 33-54:
About an old knight who wants to marry
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Merchant's Tale
lines 55-98: About the pros of marriage


55        And certeinly, as sooth as God is kyng,
To take a wyf it is a glorious thyng,
And namely whan a man is oold and hoor;
Thanne is a wyf the fruyt of his tresor.
Thanne sholde he take a yong wyf and a feir,
60On which he myghte engendren hym and heir,
And lede his lyf in joye and in solas,
Where as thise bacheleris synge allas,
Whan that they funden any adversitee
In love, which nys but childyssh vanytee.
65And trewely it sit wel to be so,
That bacheleris have often peyne and wo;
On brotel ground they buylde, and brotelnesse
They fynde, whan they wene sikernesse.
They lyve but as a bryd or as a beest,
70In libertee, and under noon arreest,
Ther as a wedded man in his estaat
Lyveth a lyf blisful and ordinaat,
Under this yok of mariage ybounde.
Wel may his herte in joy and blisse habounde,
75For who kan be so buxom as a wyf?
Who is so trewe, and eek so ententyf
To kepe hym, syk and hool, as is his make?
For wele or wo she wole hym nat forsake;
She nys nat wery hym to love and serve,
80Thogh that he lye bedrede, til he sterve.
And yet somme clerkes seyn it nys nat so,
Of whiche he Theofraste is oon of tho.
What force though Theofraste liste lye?
"Ne take no wyf," quod he, "for housbondrye,
85As for to spare in houshold thy dispence.
A trewe servant dooth moore diligence
Thy good to kepe, than thyn owene wyf,
For she wol clayme half part al hir lyf.
And if that thou be syk, so God me save,
90Thy verray freendes, or a trewe knave,
Wol kepe thee bet than she that waiteth ay
After thy good and hath doon many a day.
And if thou take a wyf unto thyn hoold,
Ful lightly maystow been a cokewold."
95This sentence, and an hundred thynges worse,
Writeth this man, ther God his bones corse!
But take no kep of al swich vanytee;
Deffie Theofraste, and herke me.
55       And certainly, as sure as God is King,
To take a wife, it is a glorious thing,
Especially when a man is old and hoary;
Then is a wife the fruit of wealth and glory.
Then should he take a young wife and a fair,
60On whom he may beget himself an heir,
And lead his life in joy and in solace,
Whereas these bachelors do but sing "Alas!"'
When they fall into some adversity
In love, which is but childish vanity.
65And truly, it is well that it is so
That bachelors have often pain and woe;
On shifting ground they build, and shiftiness
They find when they suppose they've certainness.
They live but as a bird does, or a beast,
70In liberty and under no arrest,
Whereas a wedded man in his high state
Lives a life blissful, ordered, moderate,
Under the yoke of happy marriage bound;
Well may his heart in joy and bliss abound.
75For who can be so docile as a wife?
Who is so true as she whose aim in life
Is comfort for him, sick or well, to make?
For weal or woe she will not him forsake.
She's ne'er too tired to love and serve, say I,
80Though he may lie bedridden till he die.
And yet some writers say it is not so,
And Theophrastus is one such, I know.
What odds though Theophrastus chose to lie?
"Take not a wife," said he, "for husbandry,
85If you would spare in household your expense;
A faithful servant does more diligence
To keep your goods than your own wedded wife.
For she will claim a half part all her life;
And if you should be sick, so God me save,
90Your true friends or an honest serving knave
Will keep you better than she that waits, I say,
After your wealth, and has done, many a day.
And if you take a wife to have and hold,
Right easily may you become cuckold."
95This judgment and a hundred such things worse
Did this man write, may God his dead bones curse!
But take no heed of all such vanity.
Defy old Theophrastus and hear me.




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From The Merchant's Tale, lines 99-124:
God made Adam a wife
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