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The Sergeant of the Law


A sergeant of the law, wary and wise,
Who'd often gone to Paul's walk to advise,
There was also, compact of excellence.
Discreet he was, and of great reverence;
At least he seemed so, his words were so wise.
Often he sat as justice in assize,
By patent or commission from the crown;
Because of learning and his high renown,
He took large fees and many robes could own.
So great a purchaser was never known.
All was fee simple to him, in effect,
Wherefore his claims could never be suspect.
Nowhere a man so busy of his class,
And yet he seemed much busier than he was.
All cases and all judgments could he cite
That from King William's time were apposite.
And he could draw a contract so explicit
Not any man could fault therefrom elicit;
And every statute he'd verbatim quote.
He rode but badly in a medley coat,
Belted in a silken sash, with little bars,

But of his dress no more particulars.

Paraphrase

The Sergeant of the Law was a wise man.
He was a lawyer that was appointed to be a
judge by the king. He was a prude about it,
and he charged a lot because of his high knowledge
and amazing reputation. He was always doing something,
or so it seemed. He was always up to date on the
crimes and convictions dating back to 1087.
He wore a wool coat, encircled with a belt of
silk with little bars, and the rest of his outfit
was nothing particular.

The Commentary We feel Chaucer respects the Sergeant of the Law because overall he says very nice words of him. That he was very wise, a man of his word, and had a lot of respect for many people.