For, if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt
He wiste that a man was répentaunt;
For many a man so hard is of his herte
He may nat wepe al-thogh hym soore smerte.
(= If a man gave, [the Friar] dared to assert / That he knew the man was repentant / For many men are so hard of heart / That they can’t weep, although they suffer painfully.)
Again the Friar is ventriloquizing Chaucer the pilgrim to provide a justification for his method of hearing confessions. He doesn’t need to see his ‘clients’ weep, or even show that they’re repentant.
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