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The Canterbury Tales and Other Works of Chaucer (Middle English), by Geoffery Chaucer, [14th cent.], at

The Shorter Poems


 The firste stok, fader of gentilesse --
 What man that desireth gentil for to be
 Must folowe his trace, and alle his wittes dresse
 Vertu to love and vyces for to flee.
 For unto vertu longeth dignitee
 And noght the revers, saufly dar I deme,
 Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.
 This firste stok was ful of rightwisnesse,
 Trewe of his word, sobre, pitous, and free,
10 Clene of his gost, and loved besinesse,
 Ayeinst the vyce of slouthe, in honestee;
 And, but his heir love vertu as dide he,
 He is noght gentil, thogh he riche seme,
 Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.
 Vyce may wel be heir to old richesse,
 But ther may no man, as men may wel see,
 Bequethe his heir his vertuous noblesse
 (That is appropred unto no degree
 But to the firste fader in magestee,
20 That maketh hem his heyres that him queme),
 Al were he mytre, croune, or diademe.

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