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From The Merchant's Tale, lines 203-256:
January explains he wants a young wife
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Merchant's Tale
lines 257-306: January's brother Placebo agrees with him


       Diverse men diversely hym tolde
Of mariage manye ensamples olde.
Somme blamed it, somme preysed it, certeyn;
260But atte laste, shortly for to seyn,
As al day falleth altercacioun
Bitwixen freendes in disputisoun,
Ther fil a stryf bitwixe his bretheren two,
Of whiche that oon was cleped Placebo,
265Justinus soothly called was that oother.
Placebo seyde, "O Januarie, brother,
Ful litel nede hadde ye, my lord so deere,
Conseil to axe of any that is heere,
But that ye been so ful of sapience
270That yow ne liketh, for youre heighe prudence,
To weyven fro the word of Salomon.
This word seyde he unto us everychon:
Wirk alle thyng by conseil," - thus seyde he,
"And thanne shaltow nat repente thee." -
275But though that Salomon spak swich a word,
Myn owene deere brother and my lord,
So wysly God my soule brynge at reste,
I holde youre owene conseil is the beste.
For, brother myn, of me taak this motyf,
280I have now been a court-man al my lyf,
And God it woot, though I unworthy be,
I have stonden in ful greet degree
Abouten lordes of ful heigh estaat;
Yet hadde I nevere with noon of hem debaat.
285I nevere hem contraried, trewely;
I woot wel that my lord kan moore than I.
With that he seith, I holde it ferme and stable;
I seye the same, or elles thyng semblable.
A ful greet fool is any conseillour
290That serveth any lord of heigh honour,
That dar presume, or elles thanken it,
That his conseil sholde passe his lordes wit.
Nay, lordes been no fooles, by my fay!
Ye han youreselven shewed heer to-day
295So heigh sentence, so holily and weel,
That I consente and conferme everydeel
Youre wordes alle and youre opinioun.
By God, ther nys no man in al this toun,
Ne in Ytaille, that koude bet han sayd!
300Crist halt hym of this conseil ful wel apayd.
And trewely, it is an heigh corage
Of any man that stapen is in age
To take a yong wyf; by my fader kyn,
Youre herte hangeth on a joly pyn!
305Dooth now in this matiere right as yow leste,
For finally I holde it for the beste."
       Then divers men to him diversely told,
Of marriage, many an instance known of old.
Some blamed it and some praised it, that's certain,
260But at the last, and briefly to make plain,
Since altercation follows soon or late
When friends begin such matters to debate,
There fell a strife between his brothers two,
Whereof the name of one was Placebo
265And truly Justinus was that other.
Placebo said: "O January, brother,
Very little need had you, my lord so dear,
Counsel to ask of anyone that's here;
Except that you are so full of sapience
270That you like not, what of your high prudence,
To vary from the word of Solomon.
This word said he to each and every one:
'Do everything by counsel,' thus said he,
'And then thou hast no cause to repent thee.'
275But although Solomon spoke such a word,
My own dear brother and my proper lord,
So truly may God bring my soul to rest
As I hold your own counsel is the best.
For, brother mine, of me take this one word,
280I've been a courtier all my days, my lord.
And God knows well, though I unworthy be
I have stood well, and in full great degree,
With many lords of very high estate;
Yet ne'er with one of them had I debate.
285I never contradicted, certainly;
I know well that my lord knows more than I.
Whate'er he says, I hold it firm and stable;
I say the same, or nearly as I'm able.
A full great fool is any Councillor
290That serves a lord of any high honour
And dares presume to say, or else think it,
His counsel can surpass his lordship's wit.
Nay, lords are never fools, nay, by my fay;
You have yourself, sir, showed, and here today,
295With such good sense and piety withal
That I assent to and confirm it all,
The words and the opinions you have shown.
By God, there is no man in all this town,
Or Italy, it better could have phrased;
300And Christ Himself your counsel would have praised
And truthfully, it argues high courage
In any man that is advanced in age
To take a young wife; by my father's kin,
A merry heart you've got beneath your skin?
305Do in this matter at your own behest,
For, finally, I hold that for the best."




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From The Merchant's Tale, lines 307-353:
January's brother Justinus advises a wise wife
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