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great while is passed from the time when I began to write to this

present hour whenas I come to the end of my toils, it hath not

therefor escaped my memory that I proffered this my travail to idle

women and not to others, and unto whoso readeth to pass away the time,

nothing can be overlong, so but it do that for which he useth it.

Things brief are far better suited unto students, who study, not to

pass away, but usefully to employ time, than to you ladies, who have

on your hands all the time that you spend not in the pleasures of

love; more by token that, as none of you goeth to Athens or Bologna or

Paris to study, it behoveth to speak to you more at large than to

those who have had their wits whetted by study. Again, I doubt not a

jot but there be yet some of you who will say that the things

aforesaid are full of quips and cranks and quodlibets and that it ill

beseemeth a man of weight and gravity to have written thus. To these I

am bound to render and do render thanks, for that, moved by a virtuous

jealousy, they are so tender of my fame; but to their objection I

reply on this wise; I confess to being a man of weight and to have

been often weighed in my time, wherefore, speaking to those ladies who

have not weighed me, I declare that I am not heavy; nay, I am so light

that I abide like a nutgall in water, and considering that the

preachments made of friars, to rebuke men of their sins, are nowadays

for the most part seen full of quips and cranks and gibes, I conceived

that these latter would not sit amiss in my stories written to ease

women of melancholy. Algates, an they should laugh overmuch on that

account, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the Passion of our Saviour and

the Complaint of Mary Magdalen will lightly avail to cure them

thereof.

Again, who can doubt but there will to boot be found some to say that

I have an ill tongue and a venomous, for that I have in sundry places

written the truth anent the friars? To those who shall say thus it

must be forgiven, since it is not credible that they are moved by

other than just cause, for that the friars are a good sort of folk,

who eschew unease for the love of God and who grind with a full head

of water and tell no tales, and but that they all savour somewhat of

the buck-goat, their commerce would be far more agreeable. Natheless,

I confess that the things of this world have no stability and are

still on the change, and so may it have befallen of my tongue, the

which, not to trust to mine own judgment, (which I eschew as most I

may in my affairs,) a she-neighbour of mine told me, not long since,

was the best and sweetest in the world; and in good sooth, were this

the case, there had been few of the foregoing stories to write. But,

for that those who say thus speak despitefully, I will have that which

hath been said suffice them for a reply; wherefore, leaving each of

you henceforth to say and believe as seemeth good to her, it is time

for me to make an end of words, humbly thanking Him who hath, after so

long a labour, brought us with His help to the desired end. And you,

charming ladies, abide you in peace with His favour, remembering you

of me, if perchance it profit any of you aught to have read these

stories.

HERE ENDETH THE BOOK CALLED DECAMERON

AND SURNAMED PRINCE GALAHALT

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Giovanni Boccaccio
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