The Canterbury tales
The Shipman's Tale
a merchant whilom dwelled at seint-denys,
That riche was, for which men helde hym wys.
A wyf he hadde of excellent beautee;
And compaignable and revelous was she,
Which is a thyng that causeth more dispence
Than worth is al the chiere and reverence
That men hem doon at festes and at daunces.
Swiche salutaciouns and contenances
Passen as dooth a shadwe upon the wal;
But wo is hym that payen moot for al!
The sely housbonde, algate he moot paye,
He moot us clothe, and he moot us arraye,
Al for his owene worshipe richely,
In which array we daunce jolily.
And if that he noght may, par aventure,
Or ellis list no swich dispence endure,
But thynketh it is wasted and ylost,
Thanne moot another payen for oure cost,
Or lene us gold, and that is perilous.
this noble marchaunt heeld a worthy hous,
For which ne hadde alday so greet repair
For his largesse, and for his wyf was fair,
That wonder is; but herkneth to my tale.
Amonges alle his gestes, grete and smale,
Ther was a monk, a fair man and a boold --
I trowe a thritty wynter he was oold --
That evere in oon was drawynge to that place.
This yonge monk, that was so fair of face,
Aqueynted was so with the goode man,
Sith that hir firste knoweliche bigan,
That in his hous as famulier was he
As it is possible any freend to be.
and for as muchel as this goode man,
And eek this monk, of which that I began,
Were bothe two yborn in o village,
The monk hym claymeth as for cosynage;
And he agayn, he seith nat ones nay,
But was as glad therof as fowel of day;
For to his herte it was a greet plesaunce.
Thus been they knyt with eterne alliaunce,
And ech of hem gan oother for t'assure
Of bretherhede, whil that hir lyf may dure.
Free was daun john, and namely of dispence,
As in that hous, and ful of diligence
To doon plesaunce, and also greet costage.
He noght forgat to yeve the leeste page
In al that hous; but after hir degree,
He yaf the lord, and sitthe al his meynee,
Whan that he cam, som manere honest thyng;
For which they were as glad of his comyng
As fowel is fayn whan that the sonne up riseth.
Na moore of this as now, for it suffiseth.
But so bifel, this marchant on a day
Shoop hym to make redy his array
Toward the toun of brugges for to fare,
To byen there a porcioun of ware;
For which he hath to parys sent anon
A messager, and preyed hat daun john
That he sholde come to seint-denys to pleye
With hym and with his wyf a day or tweye,
Er he to brugges wente, in alle wise.
This noble monk, of which I yow devyse,
Hath of his abbot, as hym list, licence,
By cause he was a man of heigh prudence,
And eek an officer, out for to ryde,
To seen hir graunges and hire bernes wyde,
And unto seint-denys he comth anon.
Who was so welcome as my lord daun john,
Oure deere cosyn, ful of curteisye?
With hym broghte he a jubbe of malvesye,
And eek another, ful of fyn vernage,
And volatyl, as ay was his usage.
And thus I lete hem ete and drynke and pleye,
This marchant and this monk, a day or tweye.
The thridde day, this marchant up ariseth,
And on his nedes sadly hym avyseth,
And up into his countour-hous gooth he
To rekene with hymself, as wel may be,
Of thilke yeer how that it with hym stood, Page 157
And how that he despended hadde his good,
And if that he encressed were or noon.
His bookes and his bagges many oon
He leith biforn hym on his countyng-bord.
Ful riche was his tresor and his hord,
For which ful faste his countour-dore he shette;
And eek he nolde that no man sholde hym lette
Of his acountes, for the meene tyme;
And thus he sit til it was passed pryme.
Daun john was rysen in the morwe also,
And in the gardyn walketh to and fro,
And hath his thynges seyd ful curteisly.
This goode wyf cam walkynge pryvely
Into the gardyn, there he walketh softe,
And hym saleweth, as she hath doon ofte.
A mayde child cam in hire compaignye,
Which as hir list she may governe and gye,
For yet under the yerde was the mayde.
O deere cosyn myn, daun john, she sayde,
What eyleth yow so rathe for to ryse?
Nece, quod he, it oghte ynough suffise
Fyve houres for to slepe upon a nyght,
But it were for an old appalled wight,
As been thise wedded men, that lye and dare
As in a fourme sit a wery hare,
Were al forstraught with houndes grete and smale.
But deere nece, why be ye so pale?
I trowe, certes, that oure goode man
Hath yow laboured sith the nyght bigan,
That yow were nede to resten hastily.
And with that word he lough ful murily,
And of his owene thought he was reed.
This faire wyf gan for to shake hir heed
And seyde thus, ye, God woot al, quod she.
Nay, cosyn myn, it stant nat so with me;
For, by that God that yaf me soule and lyf,
In al the reawme of france is ther no wyf
That lasse lust hath to that sory pley.
For I may synge -- allas and weylawey
That I was born, -- but to no wight, quod she,
Dar I nat telle how that it stant with me.
Wherfore I thynke out of this land to wende,
Or elles of myself to make an ende,
So ful am I of drede and eek of care.
This monk bigan upon this wyf to stare,
And seyde, allas, my nece, God forbede
That ye, for any sorwe or any drede,
Fordo youreself; but telleth me youre grief.
Paraventure I may, in youre meschief,
Conseille or helpe; and therfore telleth me
Al youre anoy, for it shal been secree.
For on my porthors here I make an ooth
That nevere in my lyf, for lief ne looth,
Ne shal I of no conseil yow biwreye.
The same agayn to yow, quod she, I seye.
By God and by this porthors I yow swere,
Though men me wolde al into pieces tere,
Ne shal I nevere, for to goon to helle,
Biwreye a word of thyng that ye me telle,
Nat for no cosynage ne alliance,
But verraily, for love and affiance.
Thus been they sworn, and heerupon they kiste,
And ech of hem tolde oother what hem liste.
Cosyn, quod she, if that I hadde a space,
As I have noon, and namely in this place,
Thanne wolde I telle a legende of my lyf,
What I have suffred with I was a wyf
With myn housbonde, al be he youre cosyn.
Nay, quod this monk, by God and seint martyn,
He is na moore cosyn unto me
Than is this leef that hangeth on the tree!
I clepe hym so, by seint denys of fraunce,
To have the moore cause of aqueyntaunce
Of yow, which I have loved specially
Aboven alle wommen, sikerly.
This swere I yow on my professioun.
Telleth youre grief, lest that he come adoun;
And hasteth yow, and gooth youre wey anon.
My deere love, quod she, o my daun john,
Ful lief were me this conseil for to hyde,
But out it moot, I may namoore abyde.
Myn housbonde is to me the worste man
That evere was sith that the world bigan.
But sith I am a wyf, it sit nat me
To tellen no wight of oure privetee,
Neither abedde, ne in noon oother place;
God shilde I sholde it tellen, for his grace!
A wyf ne shal nat seyn of hir housbonde
But al honour, as I kan understonde;
Save unto yow thus muche I tellen shal:
As helpe me god, he is noght worth at al
In no degree the value of a flye.
But yet me greveth moost his nygardye.
And wel ye woot that wommen naturelly
Desiren thynges sixe as wel as I:
They wolde that hir housbondes sholde be
Hardy, and wise, and riche, and therto free,
And buxom unto his wyf, and fressh abedde.
But by that ilke lord that for us bledde,
For his honour, myself for to arraye, Page 158
A sonday next I moste nedes paye
An hundred frankes, or ellis I am lorn.
Yet were me levere that I were unborn
Than me were doon a sclaundre or vileynye;
And if myn housbonde eek it myghte espye,
I nere but lost; and therfore I yow preye,
Lene me this somme, or ellis moot I deye.
Daun john, I seye, lene me thise hundred frankes.
Pardee, I wol nat faille yow my thankes,
If that yow list to doon that I yow praye.
For at a certeyn day I wol yow paye,
And doon to yow what plesance and service
That I may doon, right as yow list devise.
And but I do, God take on me vengeance
As foul as evere hadde genylon of france.
This gentil monk answerde in this manere:
Now trewely, myn owene lady deere,
I have, quod he, on yow so greet a routhe
That I yow swere, and plighte yow my trouthe,
That whan youre housbonde is to flaundres fare,
I wol delyvere yow out of this care;
For I wol brynge yow an hundred frankes.
And with that word he caughte hire by the flankes,
And hire embraceth harde, and kiste hire ofte.
Gooth now youre wey, quod he, al stille and softe,
And lat us dyne as soone as that ye may;
For by my chilyndre it is pryme of day.
Gooth now, and beeth as trewe as I shal be.
Now elles God forbede, sire, quod she;
And forth she gooth as jolif as a pye,
And bad the cookes that they sholde hem hye,
So that men myghte dyne, and that anon.
Up to hir housbonde is this wyf ygon,
And knokketh at his countour boldely.
Quy la? quod he. Peter! it am I,
Quod she; what, sire, how longe wol ye faste?
How longe tyme wol ye rekene and caste
Youre sommes, and youre bookes, and youre thynges?
The devel have part on alle swiche rekenynges!
Ye have ynough, pardee, of goddes sonde;
Com doun to-day, and lat youre bagges stonde.
Ne be ye nat ashamed that daun john
Shal fasting al this day alenge goon?
What! lat us heere a messe, and go we dyne.
Wyf, quod this man, litel kanstow devyne
The curious bisynesse that we have.
For of us chapmen, also God me save,
And by that lord that clepid is seint yve,
Scarsly amonges twelve tweye shul thryve
Continuelly, lastynge unto oure age.
We may wel make chiere and good visage,
And dryve forth the world as it may be,
And kepen oure estaat in pryvetee,
Til we be deed, or elles that we pleye
A pilgrymage, or goon out of the weye.
And therfore have I greet necessitee
Upon this queynte world t' avyse me;
For everemoore we moote stonde in drede
Of hap and fortune in oure chapmanhede.
To flaundres wol I go to-morwe at day,
And come agayn, as soone as evere I may.
For which, my deere wyf, I thee diseke,
As be to every wight buxom and meke,
And for to kepe oure good be curious,
And honestly governe wel oure hous.
Thou hast ynough, in every maner wise,
That to a thrifty houshold may suffise.
Thee lakketh noon array ne no vitaille;
Of silver in thy purs shaltow nat faille.
And with that word his countour-dore he shette,
And doun he gooth, no lenger wolde he lette.
But hastily a messe was ther seyd,
And spedily the tables were yleyd,
And to the dyner faste they hem spedde,
And richely this monk the chapman fedde.
At after-dyner daun john sobrely
This chapman took apart, and prively
He seyde hym thus: cosyn, it standeth so,
That wel I se to brugges wol ye go.
Go and seint austyn spede yow and gyde!
I prey yow, cosyn, wisely that ye ryde.
Governeth yow also of youre diete
Atemprely, and namely in this hete.
Bitwix us two nedeth no strange fare;
Farewel, cosyn; God shilde yow fro care!
And if that any thyng by day or nyght,
If it lye in my power and my myght,
That ye me wol comande in any wyse,
It shal be doon, right as ye wol devyse.
O thyng, er that ye goon, if it may be,
I wolde prey yow; for to lene me
An hundred frankes, for a wyke or tweye,
For certein beestes that I moste beye,
To stoore with a place that is oures.
God helpe me so, I wolde it were youres!
I shal nat faille surely of my day,
Nat for a thousand frankes, a mile way.
But lat this thyng be secree, I yow preye, Page 159
For yet to-nyght thise beestes moot I beye.
And fare now wel, myn owene cosyn deere;
Graunt mercy of youre cost and of youre cheere.
This noble marchant gentilly anon
Answerde and seyde, o cosyn myn, daun john,
Now sikerly this is a smal requeste.
My gold is youres, whan that it yow leste,
And nat oonly my gold, but my chaffare.
Take what yow list, God shilde that ye spare.
But o thyng is, ye knowe it wel ynogh,
Of chapmen, that hir moneie is hir plogh.
We may creaunce whil we have a name;
But goldlees for to be, it is no game.
Paye it agayn whan it lith in youre ese;
After my myght ful fayn wolde I yow plese.
Thise hundred frankes he fette forth anon,
And prively he took hem to daun john.
No wight in al this world wiste of this loone,
Savynge this marchant and daun john allone.
They drynke, and speke, and rome a while and pleye,
Til that daun john rideth to his abbeye.
The morwe cam, and forth this marchant rideth
To flaundres-ward; his prentys wel hym gydeth,
Til he came into brugges murily.
Now gooth this marchant faste and bisily
Aboute his nede, and byeth and creaunceth.
He neither pleyeth at the dees ne daunceth,
But as a marchaunt, shortly for to telle,
He let him lyf, and there I lete hym dwelle.
The sonday next the marchant was agon,
To seint-denys ycomen is daun john,
With crowne and berd al fressh and newe yshave.
In al the hous ther nas so litel a knave,
Ne no wight elles, that he nas ful fayn
For that my lord daun john was come agayn.
And shortly to the point right for to gon,
This faire wyf acorded with daun john
That for thise hundred frankes he sholde al nyght
Have hire in his armes bolt upright;
And this acord parfourned was in dede.
In myrthe al nyght a bisy lyf they lede
Til it was day, that daun john wente his way,
And bad the meynee farewel, have good day!
For noon of hem, ne no wight in the toun,
Hath of daun john right no suspecioun.
And forth he rydeth hoom to his abbeye,
Or where hym list; namoore of hym I seye.
This marchant, whan that ended was the faire,
To seint-denys he gan for to repaire,
And with his wyf he maketh feeste and cheere,
And telleth hire that chaffare is so deere
That nedes moste he make a chevyssaunce;
For he was bounden in a reconyssaunce
To paye twenty thousand sheeld anon.
For which this marchant is to parys gon
To borwe of certeine freendes that he hadde
A certeyn frankes; and somme with him he ladde.
And whan that he was come into the toun,
For greet chiertee and greet affeccioun,
Unto daun john he gooth first, hym to pleye;
Nat for to axe or borwe of hym moneye,
But for to wite and seen of his welfare,
And for to tellen hym of his chaffare,
As freendes doon whan they been met yfeere.
Daun john hym maketh feeste and murye cheere,
And he hym tolde agayn, ful specially,
How he hadde wel yboght and graciously,
Thanked be god, al hool his marchandise;
Save that he moste, in alle maner wise,
Maken a chevyssaunce, as for his beste,
And thanne he sholde been in joye and reste.
Daun john answerde, certes, I am fayn
That ye in heele ar comen hom agayn.
And if that I were riche, as have I blisse,
Of twenty thousand sheeld sholde ye nat mysse,
For ye so kyndely this oother day
Lente me gold; and as I kan and may,
I thanke yow, by God and by seint jame!
But nathelees, I took unto oure dame,
Youre wyf, at hom, the same gold ageyn
Upon youre bench; she woot it wel, certeyn,
By certeyn tokenes that I kan hire telle.
Now, by youre leve, I may no lenger dwelle;
Oure abbot wole out of this toun anon,
And in his compaignye moot I goon.
Grete wel oure dame, myn owene nece sweete,
And fare wel, deere cosyn, til we meete!
This marchant, which that was ful war and wys,
Creanced hath, and payd eek in parys
To certeyn lumbardes, redy in hir hond,
The somme of gold, and gat of hem his bond;
And hoom he gooth, murie as a papejay,
For wel he knew he stood in swich array
That nedes moste he wynne in that viage Page 160
A thousand frankes aboven al his costage.
His wyf ful redy mette hym atte gate,
As she was wont of oold usage algate,
And al that nyght in myrthe they bisette;
For he was riche and cleerly out of dette.
Whan it was day, this marchant gan embrace
His wyf al newe, and kiste hire on hir face,
And up he gooth and maketh it ful tough.
Namoore, quod she, by god, ye have ynough!
And wantownly agayn with hym she pleyde,
Til atte laste thus this marchant seyde:
By go, quod he, I am a litel wrooth
With yow, my wyf, although it be me looth.
And woot ye why? by god, as that I gesse
That ye han maad a manere straungenesse
Bitwixen me and my cosyn daun john.
Ye sholde han warned me, er I had gon,
That he yow hadde an hundred frankes payed
By redy token; and heeld hym yvele apayed,
For that I to hym spak of chevyssaunce;
Me semed so, as by his contenaunce.
But nathelees, by god, oure hevene kyng,
I thoughte nat to axen hym no thyng.
I prey thee, wyf, ne do namoore so;
Telle me alwey, er that I fro thee go,
If any dettour hath in myn absence
Ypayed thee, lest thurgh thy necligence
I myghte hym axe a thing that he hath payed.
This wyf was nat afered nor affrayed,
But boldely she seyde, and that anon;
Marie, I deffie the false monk, daun john!
I kepe nat of his tokenes never a deel;
He took me certeyn gold, that woot I weel, --
What! yvel thedam on his monkes snowte!
For, God it woot, I wende, withouten doute,
That he hadde yeve it me bycause of yow,
To doon therwith myn honour and my prow,
For cosynage, and eek for beele cheere
That he hath had ful ofte tymes heere.
But sith I se I stonde in this disjoynt,
I wol answere yow shortly to the poynt.
Ye han mo slakkere dettours than am i!
For I wol paye yow wel and redily
Fro day to day, and if so be I faille,
I am youre wyf; score it upon my taille,
And I shal paye as soone as ever I may.
For by my trouthe, I have on myn array,
And nat on wast, bistowed every deel;
And for I have bistowed it so weel
For youre honour, for goddes sake, I seye,
As be nat wrooth, but lat us laughe and pleye.
Ye shal my joly body have to wedde;
By god, I wol nat paye yow but abedde!
Forgyve it me, myn owene spouse deere;
Turne hiderward, and maketh bettre cheere.
This marchant saugh ther was no remedie,
And for to chide it nere but folie,
Sith that the thyng may nat amended be.
Now wyf, he seyde, and I foryeve it thee;
But, by thy lyf, ne be namoore so large.
Keep bet my good, this yeve I thee in charge.
Thus endeth now my tale, and God us sende
Taillynge ynough unto oure lyves ende. Amen
The Words of the Host to the Prioress
Wel seyd, by corpus dominus, quod oure hoost,
Now longe moote thou saille by the cost,
Sire gentil maister, gentil maryneer!
God yeve the monk a thousand last quade yeer!
A ha! felawes! beth ware of swich a jape!
The monk putte in the mannes hood an ape,
And in his wyves eek, by seint austyn!
Draweth no monkes moore unto youre in.
But now passe over, and lat us seke aboute,
Who shal now telle first of al this route
Another tale; and with that word he sayde,
As curteisly as it had been a mayde,
My lady prioresse, by youre leve,
So that I wiste I sholde yow nat greve,
I wolde demen that ye tellen sholde
A tale next, if so were that ye wolde.
Now wol ye vouche sauf, my lady deere?
Gladly, quod she, and seyde as ye shal heere.
The Prioress' Prologue
O lord, oure lord, thy name how merveillous
Is in this large world ysprad, quod she;
For noght oonly thy laude precious
Parfourned is by men of dignitee,
But by the mouth of children thy bountee
Parfourned is, for on the brest soukynge
Somtyme shewen they thyn heriynge.
Wherfore in laude, as I best kan or may,
Of thee and of the white lyle flour
Which that the bar, and is a mayde alway,
To telle a storie I wol do my labour;
Nat that I may encressen hir honour,
For whe hirself is honour and the roote
Of bountee, next hir sone, and soules boote.
O mooder mayde! o mayde mooder free!
O bussh unbrent, brennynge in moyses sighte,
That ravyshedest doun fro the dietee,
Thurgh thyn humbless, the goost that in th' alighte,
Of whos vertu, whan he thyn herte lighte,
Conceyved was the fadres sapience,
Help me to telle it in thy reverence!
Lady, thy bountee, thy magnificence,
Thy vertu, and thy grete humylitee,
Ther may no tonge expresse in no science;
For somtyme, lady, er men praye to thee,
Thou goost biforn of thy benyngnytee,
And getest us the lyght, of thy preyere,
To gyden us unto thy sone so deere.
My konnyng is so wayk, o blisful queene,
For to declare thy grete worthynesse
That I ne may the weighte nat susteene;
But as a child of twelf month oold, or lesse,
That kan unnethes any word expresse,
Right so fare I, and therfore I yow preye,
Gydeth my song that I shal of yow seye.
The Prioress' Tale
Ther was in asye, in a greet citee,
Amonges cristene folk, a jewerye,
Sustened by a lord of that contree
For foule usure and lucre of vileynye,
Hateful to crist and to his compaignye;
And thurgh the strete men myghte ride or wende,
For it was free and open at eyther ende.
A litel scole of cristen folk ther stood
Doun at the ferther ende, in which ther were
Children an heep, ycomen of cristen blood,
That lerned in that scole yeer by yere
Swich manere doctrine as men used there,
This is to seyn, to syngen and to rede,
As smale children doon in hire childhede.
Among thise children was a wydwes sone,
A litel clergeon, seven yeer of age,
That day by day to scole was his wone,
And eek also, where as he saugh th' ymage
Of cristes mooder, hadde he in usage,
As hym was taught, to knele adoun and seye
His ave marie, as he goth by the weye.
Thus hath this wydwe hir litel sone ytaught
Oure blisful lady, cristes mooder deere, Page 162
To worshipe ay, and he forgat it naught,
For sely child wol alday soone leere.
But ay, whan I remembre on this mateere,
Seint nicholas stant evere in my presence,
For he so yong to crist dide reverence.
This litel child, his litel book lernynge,
As he sat in the scole at his prymer,
He alma redemptoris herde synge,
As children lerned hire antiphoner;
And as he dorste, he drough hym ner and ner,
And herkned ay the wordes and the noote,
Til he the firste vers koude al by rote.
Noght wiste he what this latyn was to seye,
For he so yong and tendre was of age.
But on a day his felawe gan he preye
T' expounden hym this song in his langage,
Or telle hym why this song was in usage;
This preyde he hym to construe and declare
Ful often tyme upon his knowes bare.
His felawe, which that elder was than he,
Answerde hym thus: this song, I have herd seye,
Was maked of our blisful lady free,
Hire to salue, and eek hire for to preye
Fo been oure help and socour whan we deye.
I kan namoore expounde in this mateere;
I lerne song, I kan but smal grammeere.
And is this song maked in reverence
Of cristes mooder? seyde this innocent.
Now, certes, I wol do my diligence
To konne it al er cristemasse be went.
Though that I for my prymer shal be shent,
And shall be beten thries in an houre,
I wol it konne oure lady for to honoure!
His felawe taughte hym homward prively,
For day to day, til he koude it by rote,
And thanne he song it wel and boldely,
Fro word to word, acordynge with the note.
Twies a day it passed thurgh his throte,
To scoleward and homward whan he wente;
On cristes mooder set was his entente.
As I have seyd, thurghout the juerie,
This litel child, as he cam to and fro,
Ful murily than wolde he synge and crie
O alma redemptoris everemo.
The swetnesse hath his herte perced so
Of cristes mooder that, to hire to preye,
He kan nat stynte of syngyng by the weye.
Oure firste foo, the serpent sathanas,
That hath in jues herte his waspes nest,
Up swal, and seide, o hebrayk peple, allas!
Is this to yow a thyng that is honest,
That swich a boy shal walken as hym lest
In youre despit, and synge of swich sentence,
Which is agayn youre lawes reverence?
Fro thennes forth the jues han conspired
This innocent out of this world to chace.
And homycide therto han they hyred,
That in an aleye hadde a privee place;
And as the child gan forby for to pace,
This cursed jew hym hente, and heeld hym faste,
And kitte his throute, and in a pit hym caste.
I seye that in a wardrobe they hym threwe
Where as thise jewes purgen hire entraille.
O cursed folk of herodes al newe,
What may youre yvel entente yow availle?
Mordre wol out, certeyn, it wol nat faille,
And namely ther th' onour of God shal sprede;
The blood out crieth on youre cursed dede.
O martir, sowded to virginitee,
Now maystow syngen, folwynge evere in oon
The white lamb celestial -- quod she --
Of which the grete evaungelist, seint john,
In pathmos wroot, which seith that they that goon
Biforn this lamb, and synge a song al newe,
That nevere, flesshly, wommen they ne knewe.
This poure wydwe awaiteth al that nyght
After hir litel child, but he cam noght;
For which, as soone as it was dayes lyght,
With face pale of drede and bisy thoght,
She hath at scole and elleswhere hym soght,
Til finally she gan so fer espie
That he last seyn was in the juerie.
With moodres pitee in hir brest enclosed,
She gooth, as she were half out of hir mynde,
To every place where she hath supposed
By liklihede hir litel child to fynde; Page 163
And evere on cristes mooder meeke and kynde
She cride, and atte laste thus she wroghte:
Among the cursed jues she hym soghte.
She frayneth and she preyeth pitously
To every jew that dwelte in thilke place,
To telle hire if hir child wente oght forby.
They seyde nay; but jhesu, of his grace,
Yaf in hir thoght, inwith a litel space,
That in that place after hir sone she cryde,
Where he was casten in a pit bisyde.
O grete god, that parfournest thy laude
By mouth of innocentz, lo, heere thy myght!
This gemme of chastite, this emeraude,
And eek of martirdom the ruby bright,
Ther he with throte ykorven lay upright,
He alma redemptoris gan to synge
So loude that al the place gan to rynge.
The cristene folk that thurgh the strete wente
In coomen for to wondre upon this thyng,
And hastily they for the provost sente;
He cam anon withouten tariyng,
And herieth crist that is of hevene kyng,
And eek his mooder, honour of mankynde,
And after that the jewes leet he bynde.
This child with pitous lamentacioun
Up taken was, syngynge his song alway,
And with honour of greet processioun
They carien hym unto the nexte abbay.
His mooder swownynge by the beere lay;
Unnethe myghte the peple that was theere
This newe rachel brynge fro his beere.
With torment and with shameful deeth echon
This provost dooth thise jewes for to sterve
That of this mordre wiste, and that anon.
He nolde no swich cursednesse observe.
Yvele shal have that yvele wol deserve;
Therfore with wilde hors he dide hem drawe,
And after that he heng hem by the lawe.
Upon this beere ay lith this innocent
Biforn the chief auter, whil masse laste;
And after that, the abbot with his covent
Han sped hem for to burien hym ful faste;
And whan they hooly water on hym caste,
Yet spak this child, whan spreynd was hooly water,
And song o alma redemptoris mater!
This abbot, which that was an hooly man,
As monkes been -- or elles oghte be --
This yonge child to conjure he bigan,
And seyde, o deere child, I halse thee,
In vertu of the hooly trinitee,
Tel me what is thy cause for to synge,
Sith that thy throte is kut to my semynge?
My throte is kut unto my nekke boon,
Seyde this child, and, as by wey of kynde,
I sholde have dyed, ye, longe tyme agon.
But jesu crist, as ye in bookes fynde,
Wil that his glorie laste and be in mynde,
And for the worship of his mooder deere
Yet may I synge o alma loude and cleere.
This welle of mercy, cristes mooder sweete,
I loved alwey, as after my konnynge;
And whan that I my lyf sholde forlete,
To me she cam, and bad me for to synge
This anthem verraily in my deyynge,
As ye han herd, and whan that I hadde songe,
Me thoughte she leyde a greyn upon my tonge.
Wherfore I synge, and synge moot certeyn,
In honour of that blisful mayden free,
Til fro my tonge of taken is the greyn;
And after that thus seyde she to me;
-- My litel child, now wol I fecche thee,
Whan that the greyn is fro thy tonge ytake.
Be nat agast, I wol thee nat forsake. --
This hooly monk, this abbot, hym meene I,
His tonge out caughte, and took awey the greyn,
And he yaf up the goost ful softely.
And whan this abbot hadde this wonder seyn,
His salte teeris trikled doun as reyn,
And gruf he fil al plat upon the grounde,
And stille he lay as he had ben ybounde.
The covent eek lay on the pavement
Wepynge, and herying cristes mooder deere,
And after that they ryse, and forth been went,
And tooken awey this martir from his beere;
And in a tombe of marbul stones cleere
Enclosen they his litel body sweete.
Ther he is now, God leve us for to meete! Page 164
O yonge hugh of lyncoln, slayn also
With cursed jewes, as it is notable,
For it is but a litel while ago,
Preye eek for us, we synful folk unstable,
That, of his mercy, God so merciable
On us his grete mercy multiplie,
For reverence of his mooder marie. Amen
The Prologue to the Tale of Sir Thopas
Whan seyd was al this miracle, every man
As sobre was that wonder was to se,
Til that oure hooste japen tho bigan,
And thanne at erst he looked upon me,
And seyde thus: what man artow? quod he;
Thou lookest as thou woldest fynde an hare,
For evere upon the ground I se thee stare.
Approche neer, and looke up murily.
Now war yow, sires, and lat this man have place!
He in the waast is shape as wel as I;
This were a popet in an arm t' enbrace
For any womman, smal and fair of face.
He semeth elvyssh by his contenaunce,
For unto no wight dooth he daliaunce.
Sey now somwhat, syn oother folk han sayd;
Telle us a tale of myrthe, and that anon.
Hooste, quod I, ne beth nat yvele apayd,
For oother tale certes kan I noon,
But of a rym I lerned longe agoon.
Ye, that is good, quod he; now shul we heere
Som deyntee thyng, me thynketh by his cheere.
The Tale of Sir Thopas
Listeth, lordes, in good entent,
And I wol telle verrayment
Of myrthe and of solas;
Al of a knyght was fair and gent
In bataille and in tourneyment,
His name was sire thopas.
Yborn he was in fer contree,
In flaundres, al biyonde the see,
At poperyng, in the place.
His fader was a man ful free,
And lord he was of that contree,
As it was goddes grace.
Sire thopas wax a doghty swayn;
Whit was his face as payndemayn,
His lippes rede as rose;
His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,
And I yow telle in good certayn,
He hadde a semely nose.
His heer, his berd was lyk saffroun,
That to his girdel raughte adoun;
His shoon of cordewane.
Of brugges were his hosen broun,
His robe was of syklatoun,
That coste many a jane.
He koude hunte at wilde deer,
And ride an haukyng for river
With grey goshauk on honde;
Therto he was a good archeer;
Of wrastlyng was ther noon his peer,
Ther any ram shal stonde. Page 165
Ful many a mayde, bright in bour,
They moorne for hym paramour,
Whan hem were bet to slepe;
But he was chaast and no lechour,
And sweete as is the brembul flour
That bereth the rede hepe.
And so bifel upon a day,
For sothe, as I yow telle may,
Sire thopas wolde out ride.
He worth upon his steede gray,
And in his hand a launcegay,
A long swerd by his side.
He priketh thurgh a fair forest,
Therinne is many a wilde best,
Ye, bothe bukke and hare;
And as he priketh north and est,
I telle it yow, hym hadde almest
Bitid a sory care.
Ther spryngen herbes grete and smale,
The lycorys and the cetewale,
And many a clowe-gylofre;
And notemuge to putte in ale,
Wheither it be moyste or stale,
Or for to leye in cofre.
The briddes synge, it is no nay,
The sparhauk and the papejay,
That joye it was to heere;
The thrustelock made eek his lay,
The wodedowve upon the spray
She sang ful loude and cleere.
Sire thopas fil in love-longynge,
Al whan he herde the thrustel synge,
And pryked as he were wood.
His faire steede in his prikynge
So swatte that men myghte him wrynge;
His sydes were al blood.
Sire thopas eek so wery was
For prikyng on the softe gras,
So fiers was his corage,
That doun he leyde him in that plas
To make his steede som solas,
And yaf hym good forage.
O seinte marie, benedicite!
What eyleth this love at me
To bynde me so soore?
Me dremed al this nyght, pardee,
An elf-queene shal my lemman be
And slepe under my goore.
An elf-queene wol I love, ywis,
For in this world no womman is
Worthy to be my make
Alle othere wommen I forsake,
And to an elf-queene I me take
By dale and eek by downe!
Into his sadel he clamb anon,
And priketh over stile and stoon
An elf-queene for t' espye,
Til he so longe hath riden and goon
That he foond, in a pryve woon,
The contree of fairye
For in that contree was ther noon
That to him durste ride or goon,
Neither wyf ne childe;
Til that ther cam a greet geaunt,
His name was sire olifaunt,
A perilus man of dede.
He seyde, child, by termagaunt!
But if thou prike out of myn haunt,
Anon I sle thy steede
Heere is the queene of fayerye,
With harpe and pipe and symphonye,
Dwellynge in this place.
The child seyde, also moote I thee,
Tomorwe wol I meete with thee,
Whan I have myn armoure;
And yet I hope, par ma fay,
That thou shalt with this launcegay
Abyen it ful sowre.
Shal I percen, if I may,
Er it be fully pryme of day,
For heere thow shalt be slawe.
Sire thopas drow abak ful faste;
This geant at hym stones caste
Out of a fel staf-slynge.
But faire escapeth child thopas,
And al it was thurgh goddes gras,
And thurgh his fair berynge.
Yet listeth, lordes, to my tale
Murier than the nightyngale,
For now I wol yow rowne
How sir thopas, with sydes smale,
Prikyng over hill and dale,
Is comen agayn to towne. Page 166
His myrie men comanded he
To make hym bothe game and glee,
For nedes moste he fighte
With a geaunt with hevedes three,
For paramour and jolitee
Of oon that shoon ful brighte.
Do come, he seyde, my mynstrale,
And geestours for to tellen tales,
Anon in myn armynge,
Of romances that been roiales,
Of popes and of cardinales,
And eek of love-likynge.
They fette hym first the sweet wyn,
And mede eek in a mazelyn,
And roial spicerye
Of gyngebreed that was ful fyn,
And lycorys, and eek comyn,
With sugre that is trye.
He dide next his white leere,
Of cloth of lake fyn and cleere,
A breech and eek a sherte;
And next his sherte an aketoun,
And over that an haubergeoun
For percynge of his herte;
And over that a fyn hawberk,
Was al ywroght of jewes werk,
Ful strong it was of plate;
And over that his cote-armour
As whit as is a lilye flour,
In which he wol debate.
His sheeld was al of gold so reed,
And therinne was a bores heed,
A charbocle bisyde;
And there he swoor on ale and breed
How that the geaunt shal be deed,
Bityde what bityde!
His jambeux were of quyrboilly,
His swerdes shethe of ivory,
His helm of latoun bright;
His sadel was of rewel boon,
His brydel as the sonne shoon,
Or as the moone light.
His spere was of fyn ciprees,
That bodeth werre, and nothyng pees,
The heed ful sharpe ygrounde;
His steede was al dappull gray,
It gooth an ambil in the way
Ful softely and rounde
Loo, lordes myne, heere is a fit!
If ye wol any moore of it,
To telle it wol I fonde.
Now holde youre mouth, par charitee,
Bothe knyght and lady free,
And herkneth to my spelle;
Of bataille and of chivalry,
And of ladyes love-drury
Anon I wol yow telle.
Men speken of romances of prys,
Of horn child and of ypotys,
Of beves and sir gy,
Of sir lybeux and pleyndamour, --
But sir thopas, he bereth the flour
Of roial chivalry!
His goode steede al he bistrood,
And forth upon his wey he glood
As sparcle out of the bronde;
Upon his creest he bar a tour,
And therinne stiked a lilie flour, --
God shilde his cors for shonde!
And for he was a knyght auntrous,
He nolde slepen in noon hous,
But liggen in his hoode;
His brighte helm was his wonger,
And by hym baiteth his dextrer
Of herbes fyne and goode.
Hymself drank water of the well,
As dide the knyght sire percyvell
So worthy under wede,
Til on a day --
The Host's Interruption of the Tale of Sir Thopas
Namoore of this, for goddes dignitee,
Quod oure hooste, for thou makest me
So wery of thy verray lewednesse
That, also wisly God my soule blesse,
Myne eres aken of thy drasty speche.
Now swich a rym the devel I biteche!
This may wel be rym dogerel, quod he.
Why so? quod I, why wiltow lette me
Moore of my tale than another man,
Syn that it is the beste rym I kan?
By god, quod he, for pleynly, at a word,
Thy drasty rymyng is nat worth a toord!
Thou doost noght elles but despendest tyme.
Sire, at o word, thou shalt no lenger ryme.
Lat se wher thou kanst tellen aught in geeste,
Or telle in prose somwhat, at the leeste,
In which ther be som murthe or som doctryne
Gladly, quod I, by goddes sweete pyne!
I wol yow telle a litel thyng in prose
That oghte liken yow, as I suppose,
Or elles, certes, ye been to daungerous.
It is a moral tale vertuous,
Al be it told somtyme in sondry wyse
Of sondry folk, as I shal yow devyse.
As thus: ye woot that every evaungelist,
That telleth us the peyne of jhesu crist,
Ne seith nat alle thyng as his felawe dooth;
But nathelees hir sentence is al sooth,
And alle acorden as in hire sentence,
Al be ther in hir tellyng difference.
For somme of hem seyn moore, and somme seyn lesse,
Whan they his pitous passioun expresse --
I meene of mark, mathew, luc, and john --
But doutelees hir sentence is al oon.
Therfore, lordynges alle, I yow biseche,
If that yow thynke I varie as in my speche,
As thus, though that I telle somwhat moore
Of proverbes than ye han herd bifoore
Comprehended in this litel tretys heere,
To enforce with th' effect of my mateere,
And though I nat the same wordes seye
As ye han herd, yet to yow alle I preye
Blameth me nat; for, as in my sentence,
Shul ye nowher fynden difference
Fro the sentence of this tretys lyte
After the which this murye tale I write.
And therfore herkneth what that I shal seye,
And lat me tellen al my tale, I preye.
The Tale of Melibee
A yong man called melibeus, myghty and
Riche, bigat upon his wyf, that called was prudence,
a doghter which that called was sophie./
Upon a day bifel that he for his desport is
Went into the feeldes hem to pleye./ His wyf
And eek his doghter hath he left inwith his hous,
Of which the dores weren faste yshette./ Thre
Of his olde foes han it espyed, and setten laddres
To the walles of his hous, and by wyndowes
been entred,/ and betten his wyf,
And wounded his doghter with fyve mortal
woundes in fyve sondry places, -- / this is to
Seyn, in hir feet, in hire handes, in hir erys, in
Hir nose, and in hire mouth, -- and leften hire
For deed, and wenten awey./
Whan melibeus retourned was in to his hous,
And saugh al this meschief, he, lyk a mad man,
Rentynge his clothes, gan to wepe and crie./
Prudence, his wyf, as ferforth as she dorste,
Bisoghte hym of his wepyng for to stynte;/ but
Nat forthy he gan to crie and wepen
Evere lenger the moore./
This noble wyf prudence remembred
Hire upon the sentence of ovide, in his book
That cleped is the remedie of love, where as
He seith/ he is a fool that destourbeth the
Mooder to wepen in the deeth of hire child,
Til she have wept hir fille as for a certein tyme;/
And thanne shal man doon his diligence with
Amyable wordes hire to reconforte, and preyen Page 168
Hire of hir wepyng for to stynte./ For which
Resoun this noble wyf prudence suffred hir
Housbonde for to wepe and crie as for a certein
Space;/ and whan she saugh hir tyme, she
Seyde hym in this wise: allas, my lord, quod
She, why make ye youreself for to be
Lyk a fool?/ for sothe it aperteneth nat
To a wys man to maken swich a sorwe./
Youre doghter, with the grace of god, shal
Warisshe and escape./ And, al were it so that
She right now were deed, ye ne oughte nat, as
For hir deeth, youreself to destroye./ Senek
Seith: the wise man shal nat take to greet disconfort
for the deeth of his children;/ but,
Certes, he sholde suffren it in pacience as wel
As he abideth the deeth of his owene
Propre persone. -- /
This melibeus answerde anon, and
Seyde, what man, quod he, sholde of his
Wepyng stente that hath so greet a cause for
To wepe?/ jhesu crist, oure lord, hymself
Wepte for the deeth of lazarus hys freend./
Prudence answerde: certes, wel I woot attempree
wepyng is no thyng deffended to hym
That sorweful is, amonges folk in sorwe, but it
Is rather graunted hym to wepe./ The apostle
Paul unto the romayns writeth, -- man shal rejoyse
with hem that maken joye, and wepen
With swich folk as wepen. -- / ut though attempree
wepyng be ygraunted, outrageous
wepyng certes is deffended./
Mesure of wepyng sholde be considered,
after the loore that techeth us senek:/
-- whan that thy frend is deed, -- quod he, -- lat
Nat thyne eyen to moyste been of teeris, ne
To muche drye; although the teeris come to
Thyne eyen, lat hem nat falle;/ and whan thou
Hast forgoon thy freend, do diligence to gete
Another freend; and this is moore wysdom than
For to wepe for thy freend which that thou has
Lorn, for therinne is no boote. -- / and therfore,
If ye governe yow by sapience, put awey sorwe
Out of youre herte./ Remembre yow that
Jhesus syrak seith, -- a man that is joyous and
Glad in herte, it hym conserveth florissynge
In his age; but soothly sorweful herte
Maketh his bones drye. -- / he seith eek
Thus, that sorwe in herte sleeth ful many
A man./ Salomon seith that right as motthes
In shepes flees anoyeth to the clothes, and
The smale wormes to the tree, right so anoyeth
Sorwe to the herte./ Wherfore us oghte, as wel
In the deeth of oure children as in the los of
Oure othere goodes temporels, have pacience./
Remembre yow upon the pacient job. Whan
He hadde lost his children and his temporeel
Substance, and in his body endured and receyved
ful many a grevous tribulacion, yet
Seyde he thus:/ -- oure lord hath yeve it me;
Oure lord hath biraft it me; right as oure lord
Hath wold, right so it is doon; blessed
Be the name of oure lord! -- /
To thise forseide thynges answerde
Melibeus unto his wyf prudence: alle thy
Wordes, quod he, been sothe, and therto profitable;
but trewely myn herte is troubled with
This sorwe so grevously that I noot what to
Lat calle, quod prudence, thy trewe
Freendes alle, and thy lynage whiche that been
Wise. Telleth youre cas, and herkneth what
They seye in conseillyng, and yow governe after
Hire sentence./ Salomon seith, -- werk alle thy
Thynges by conseil, and thou shalt never repente.
Thanne, by the conseil of his wyf prudence,
This melibeus leet callen a greet congregacion
Of folk;/ as surgiens, phisiciens, olde folk and
Yonge, and somme of his olde enemys reconsiled
as by hir semblaunt to his love and
Into his grace;/ and therwithal ther
Coomen somme of his neighebores that
Diden hym reverence moore for drede than for
Love, as it happeth ofte./ Ther coomen also
Ful many subtille flatereres, and wise advocatz
lerned in the lawe./
And whan this folk togidre assembled weren,
This melibeus in sorweful wise shewed hem his
Cas./ And by the manere of his speche it
Semed that in herte he baar a crueel ire, redy
To doon vengeaunce upon his foes, and sodeynly
desired that the werre sholde bigynne;/
But nathelees, yet axed he hire conseil
Upon this matiere./ A surgien, by licence
and assent of swiche as weren
Wise, up roos, and to melibeus seyde as ye may
Sire, quod he, as to us surgiens aperteneth
that we do to every wight the beste that
We kan, where as we been withholde, and to
Oure pacientz that we do no damage;/ wherfore
it happeth many tyme and ofte that whan
Twey men han everich wounded oother, oon
Same surgien heeleth hem bothe;/ wherfore
Unto oure art it is nat pertinent to norice werre
Ne parties to supporte./ But certes, as to the
Warisshynge of youre doghter, al be it so that
She perilously be wounded, we shullen do so Page 169
Ententif bisynesse fro day to nyght that with
The grace of God she shal be hool and
Sound as soone as is possible./
Almoost right in the same wise the
Phisiciens answerden, save that they seyden a
Fewe woordes moore:/ that right as maladies
Been cured by hir contraries, right so shul men
Warisshe werre by vengeaunce./
His neighebores ful of envye, his feyned
Freendes that semeden reconsiled, and his flatereres/
maden semblant of wepyng, and empeireden
and agreggeden muchel of this matiere
in preisynge greetly melibee of myght, of
Power, of richesse, and of freendes, despisynge
The power of his adversaries,/ and seiden outrely
that he anon sholde wreken hym on
His foes, and bigynne werre./
Up roos thanne an advocat that was
Wys, by leve and by conseil of othere that were
Wise, and seide:/ lordynges, the nede for
Which we been assembled in this place is a ful
Hevy thyng and an heigh matiere,/ by cause
Of the wrong and of the wikkednesse that hath
Be doon, and eek by resoun of the grete damages
that in tyme comynge been possible to
Fallen for this same cause,/ and eek by resoun
Of the grete richesse and power of the parties
Bothe;/ for the whiche resouns it were a
Ful greet peril to erren in this matiere./
Wherfore, melibeus, this is oure sentence:
we conseille yow aboven alle thyng
That right anon thou do thy diligence in
Kepynge of thy propre persone in swich
A wise that thou ne wante noon espie ne
Wacche, thy persone for to save./ And after
That, we conseille that in thyn hous thou sette
Sufficeant garnisoun so that they may as wel
Thy body as thyn hous defende./ But certes,
For to moeve werre, ne sodeynly for to doon
Vengeaunce, we may nat demen in so litel
Tyme that it were profitable./ Wherfore we
Axen leyser and espace to have deliberacion in
This cas to deme./ For the commune proverbe
Seith thus: -- he that soone deemeth,
Soone shal repente. -- / and eek men seyn
That thilke juge is wys that soone under-
Stondeth a matiere and juggeth by leyser;/ for
Al be it so that alle tariyng be anoyful, algates it
Is nat to repreve in yevynge of juggement ne
In vengeance takyng, whan it is sufficeant
And resonable./ And that shewed oure lord
Jhesu crist by ensample; for whan that the
Womman that was taken in avowtrie was broght
In his presence to knowen what sholde be doon
With hire persone, al be it so that he wiste wel
Hymself what that he wolde answere, yet ne
Wolde he nat answere sodeynly, but he wolde
Have deliberacion, and in the ground he wroot
Twies./ And thise causes weaxen deliberacioun,
and we shal thanne, by the grace of
God, conseille thee thyng that shal be profitable./
n=11035>Up stirten thanne the yonge folk atones, and
The mooste partie of that compaignye han
Scorned this olde wise man, and bigonnen
to make noyse, and seyden that/
Right so as, whil that iren is hoot, men
Sholden smyte, right so men sholde wreken hir
Wronges whil that they been fresshe and newe;
And with loud voys they criden werre!
Up roos tho oon of thise olde wise, and with
His hand made contenaunce that men sholde
Holden hem stille and yeven hym audience./
Lordynges, quod he, ther is ful many a man
That crieth -- werre! werre! -- that woot ful litel
What werre amounteth./ Werre at his bigynnyng
hath so greet an entryng and so large, that
Every wight may entre whan hym liketh, and
Lightly fynde werre;/ but certes what ende
That shal therof bifalle, it is nat light to
Knowe./ For soothly, whan that werre is
Ones bigonne, ther is ful many a child
Unborn of his mooder that shal sterve yong by
Cause of thilke werre, or elles lyve in sorwe and
Dye in wrecchednesse./ And therfore, er that
Any werre bigynne, men moste have greet conseil
and greet deliberacion./ And whan this
Olde man wende to enforcen his tale by resons,
Wel ny alle atones bigonne they to rise for to
Breken his tale, and beden hym ful ofte his
Wordes for to abregge./ For soothly, he that
Precheth to hem that listen nat heeren his
Wordes, his sermon hem anoieth./ For jhesus
Syrak seith that musik in wepynge ia a noyous
Thyng; this is to seyn: as muche availleth to
Speken bifore folk to which his speche anoyeth,
as it is to synge biforn hym that
Wepeth./ And whan this wise man
Saugh that hym wanted audience, al
Shamefast he sette hym doun agayn./ For
Salomon seith: ther as thou ne mayst have
Noon audience, enforce thee nat to speke./
I see wel, quod this wise man, that the commune
proverbe is sooth, that -- good conseil
Wanteth whan it is moost nede. -- /
Yet hadde this melibeus in his conseil many
Folk that prively in his eere conseilled hym Page 170
Certeyn thyng, and conseilled hym the contrarie
in general audience./
Whan melibeus hadde herd that the gretteste
partie of his conseil weren accorded that
He sholde maken werre, anoon he consented to
Hir conseillyng, and fully affermed hire
Sentence./ Thanne dame prudence,
Whan that she saugh how that hir
Housbonde shoop hym for to wreken hym on
His foes, and to bigynne werre, she in ful humble
wise, whan she saugh hir tyme, seide to
Hym thise wordes:/ my lord, quod she, I
Yow biseche as hertely as I dar and kan, ne
Haste yow nat to faste, and for alle gerdons, as
Yeveth me audience./ For piers alfonce seith,
-- whoso that dooth to thee oother good or harm,
Haste thee nat to quiten it; for in this wise thy
Freend wole abyde, and thyn anemy shal the
Lenger lyve in drede. -- / the proverbe seith, -- he
Hasteth wel that wisely kan abyde, -- and in
Wikked haste is no profit./
This melibee answerde unto his wyf prudence:
I purpose nat, quod he, to werke by
Thy conseil, for many causes and resouns.
For certes, every wight wolde holde me
Thanne a fool;/ this is to seyn, if I, for
Thy conseillyng, wolde chaungen thynges
That been ordeyned and affermed by so manye
Wyse./ Secoundely, I seye that alle wommen
Been wikke, and noon good of hem alle. For -- of
A thousand men, -- seith salomon, -- I foond o
Good man, but certes, of alle wommen, good
Womman foond I nevere.--/ and also, certes,
If I governed me by thy conseil, it sholde
Seme that I hadde yeve to thee over me
The maistrie; and God forbede that it so
Weere!/ for jhesus syrak seith that -- if the
Wyf have maistrie, she is contrarious to hir
Housbonde./ -- and salomon seith: -- nevere in
Thy lyf to thy wyf, ne to thy child, ne to
Thy freend, ne yeve no power over thy-
Self; for bettre it were that thy children aske
Of thy persone thynges that hem nedeth, than
Thou see thyself in the handes of thy
Children. -- / and also if I wolde werke
By thy conseillyng, certes, my conseil
Moste som tyme be secree, til it were tyme
That it moste be knowe, and this ne may noght
Be./ (car il est escript, la genglerie des
Femmes ne puet riens celler fors ce qu' elle ne
Scet./ Apres, le philosophre dit, en mauvais
Conseil les femmes vainquent les hommes: et
Par ces raisons je ne dois point user de ton conseil.)/
n=11064>Whanne dame prudence, ful debonairly and
With greet pacience, hadde herd al that hir
Housbonde liked for to seye, thanne axed she
Of hym licence for to speke, and seyde in this
Wise:/ my lord, quod she, as to youre firste
Resoun, certes it may lightly been answered.
For I seye that it is no folie to chaunge conseil
Whan the thyng is chaunged, or elles whan
The thyng semeth ootherweyes than it
Was biforn./ And mooreover, I seye
That though ye han sworn and bihight
To perfourne youre emprise, and nathelees ye
Weyve to perfourne thilke same emprise by
Juste cause, men sholde nat seyn therfore that
Ye were a liere ne forsworn./ For the book
Seith that -- the wise man maketh no lesyng
Whan he turneth his corage to the bettre. --/
And al be it so that youre emprise be establissed
and ordeyned by greet multitude of folk,
Yet that ye nat accomplice thilke ordinaunce,
But yow like./ For the trouthe of thynges and
The profit been rather founden in fewe folk that
Been wise and ful of resoun, than by greet multitude
of folk ther every man crieth and clatereth
what that hym liketh. Soothly swich multitude
is nat hones./ And as to the seconde
Resoun, where as ye seyn that alle wommen
Been wikke; save youre grace, certes ye despisen
alle wommen in this wyse, and -- he that
Al despiseth, al displeseth, -- as seith the
Book./ And senec seith that -- whose
Wole have sapience shal no man dispreyse,
but he shal gladly techen the science
That he kan withouten presumpcion or pride,/
And swiche thynges as he noght ne kan, he
Shal nat been ashamed to lerne hem, and enquere
of lasse folk than hymself. -- / and, sire,
That ther hath been many a good womman,
May lightly be preved./ For certes, sire, oure
Lord jhesu crist wolde nevere have descended
To be born of a womman, if alle wommen hadden
been wikke./ And after that, for the grete
Bountee that is in wommen, oure lord jhesu
Crist, whan he was risen fro deeth to lyve,
Appeered rather to a womman than to
His apostles./ And though that salomon
seith that he ne foond nevere womman
good, it folweth nat therfore that alle wommen
ben wikke./ For though that he ne foond
No good womman, certes, many another man
Hath founden many a womman ful good and
Trewe./ Or elles, per aventure, the entente of
Salomon was this, that, as in sovereyn bounte,
He foond no womman;/ this is to seyn, that ther Page 171
Is no wight that hath sovereyn bountee save
God allone, as he hymself recordeth in hys
Evaungelie./ For ther nys no creature so good
That hym ne wanteth somwhat of the
Perfeccioun of god, that is his makere./
Youre thridde reson is this: ye seyn that
If ye governe yow by my conseil, it sholde
Seme that ye hadde yeve me the maistrie and
The lordshipe over youre persone./ Sire, save
Youre grace, it is nat so. For if it so were that
No man sholde be conseilled but oonly of hem
That hadden lordshipe and maistrie of his persone,
men wolden nat be conseilled so ofte./
For soothly thilke man that asketh conseil of
A purpos, yet hath he free choys wheither he
Wole werke by that conseil or noon./ And as
To youre fourthe resoun, ther ye seyn that the
Janglerie of wommen kan hyde thynges that
They wot noght, as who seith that a womman
Kan nat hyde that she woot;/ sire, thise wordes
Been understonde of wommen that been
Jangleresses and wikked;/ of whiche
Wommen men seyn that thre thynges
Dryven a man out of his hous, -- that is to seyn,
Smoke, droppyng of reyn, and wikked wyves,/
And of swiche wommen seith salomon that -- it
Were bettre dwelle in desert than with a woman
that is riotous. --/ and sire, by youre leve,
That am nat I;/ for ye han ful ofte assayed my
Grete silence and my grete pacience, and eek
How wel that I kan hyde and hele thynges that
Men oghte secreely to hyde./ And soothly, as
To youre fifthe resoun, where as ye seyn that
In wikked conseil wommen venquisshe men,
God woot, thilke resoun stant heere in
No stede./ For understoond now, ye
Asken conseil to do wikkednesse;/ and if
Ye wole werken wikkednesse, and youre wif
Restreyneth thilke wikked purpos, and overcometh
yow by reson and by good conseil,/
Certes youre wyf oghte rather to be preised
Than yblamed./ Thus sholde ye understonde
The philosophre that seith, -- in wikked conseil
Wommen venquisshen hir housbondes. -- / and
Ther as ye blamen alle wommen and hir resouns,
I shal shewe yow by manye ensamples
That many a womman hath ben ful good, and
Yet been, and hir conseils ful hoolsome
And profitable./ Eek som men han seyd
That the conseillynge of wommen is
Outher to deere, or elles to litel of pris./ But al
Be it so that ful many a womman is badde, and
Hir conseil vile and noght worth, yet han men
Founde ful many a good womman, and ful discret
and wis in conseillynge./ Loo, jacob, by
Good conseil of his mooder rebekka, wan the
Benysoun of ysaak his fader, and the lordshipe
Over alle his bretheren./ Judith, by hire good
Conseil, delivered the citee of bethulie, in
Which she dwelled, out of the handes of olofernus,
that hadde it biseged and wolde have al
Destroyed it./ Abygail delivered nabal hir
Housbonde fro david the kyng, that wolde
Have slayn hym, and apaysed the ire of the
Kyng by hir wit and by hir good conseillyng./
hester, by hir good conseil,
Enhaunced greetly the peple of God in
The regne of assuerus the kyng./ And the
Same bountee in good conseillyng of many a
Good womman may men telle./ And mooreover,
Whan oure lord hadde creat adam, oure
Forme fader, he seyde in this wise:/ -- it is nat
Good to been a man alloone; make we to
Hym an helpe semblable to hymself. -- / heere
May ye se that if that wommen were nat
Goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable,/
oure lord God of hevene wolde
Nevere han wroght hem, ne called hem
Help of man, but rather confusioun of man./
And ther seyde oones a clerk in two vers,
-- What is bettre than gold? jaspre. What is
Bettre than jaspre? wisedoom./ And what is
Better than wisedoom? womman. And what is
Bettre than a good womman? nothyng. -- / and,
Sire, by manye of othre resons may ye seen
That manye wommen been goode, and hir
Conseils goode and profitable./ And therfore,
sire, if ye wol triste to my conseil, I shal
Restoore yow youre doghter hool and
Sound./ And eek I wol do to yow so
Muche that ye shul have honour in this
Whan melibee hadde herd the wordes of his
Wyf prudence, he seyde thus:/ I se wel that
The word of salomon is sooth. He seith that
-- Wordes that been spoken discreetly by ordinaunce
been honycombes, for they yeven swetnesse
to the soule and hoolsomnesse to the
Body. -- / and, wyf, by cause of thy sweete
Wordes, and eek for I have assayed and preved
Thy grete sapience and thy grete trouthe, I wol
Governe me by thy conseil in alle thyng./
Now, sire, quod dame prudence, and syn
Ye vouche sauf to been governed by my conseil,
I wol enforme yow how ye shul governe
Yourself in chesynge of youre conseillours./
ye shul first in alle youre werkes
Mekely biseken to the heighe God that Page 172
He wol be youre conseillour;/ and shapeth yow
To swich entente that he yeve yow conseil and
Confort, as taughte thobie his sone:/ -- at alle
Tymes thou shalt blesse god, and praye hym
To dresse thy weyes, and looke that alle thy
Conseils been in hym for everemoore. -- / seint
Jame eek seith: -- if any of yow have nede of
Sapience, axe it of god. -- / and afterward
Thanne shul ye taken conseil in youreself, and
Examyne wel youre thoghtes of swich thyng
As yow thynketh that is bes for youre
Profit./ And thanne shul ye dryve fro
Youre herte thre thynges that been contrariouse
to good conseil;/ that is to seyn, ire,
Coveitise, and hastifnesse./
First, he that axeth conseil of hymself, certes
He moste been withouten ire, for manye
Causes./ The firste is this: he that hath greet
Ire and wratthe in hymself, he weneth alwey
That he may do thyng that he may nat do./
And secoundely, he that is irous and
Wrooth, he ne may nat wel deme;/ and
He that may nat wel deme, may nat wel
Conseille./ The thridde is this, that he that is
Irous and wrooth, as seith senec, ne may nat
Speke but blameful thynges,/ and with his
Viciouse wordes he stireth oother folk to angre
And to ire./ And eek, sire, ye moste dryve
Coveitise out of youre herte./ For the aposthe
seith that coveitise is roote of alle
Harmes./ And trust wel that a coveitous
Man ne kan noght deme ne thynke, but
Oonly to fulfille the ende of his coveitise;/ and
Certes, that ne may nevere been accompliced;
For evere the moore habundaunce that he hath
Of richesse, the moore he desireth./ And, sire,
Ye moste also dryve out of youre herte hastifnesse;
for certes,/ ye ne may nat deeme for
The beste by a sodeyn thought that falleth in
Youre herte, but ye moste avyse yow on it
Ful ofte./ For, as ye herde her biforn, the
Commune proverbe is this, that -- he that
Soone deemeth, soone repenteth. -- / sire,
Ye ne be nat alwey in lyk disposicioun;/
For certes, somthyng that somtyme semeth to
Yow that it is good for to do, another tyme it
Semeth to yow the contrarie./
Whan ye han taken conseil in youreself, and
Han deemed by good deliberacion swich thyng
As yow semeth bes,/ thanne rede I yow that
Ye kepe it secree./ Biwrey nat youre conseil
To no persone, but if so be that ye wenen
Sikerly that thurgh youre biwreyyng youre
Condicioun shal be to yow the moore profitable./
for jhesus syrak seith, -- neither
To thy foo, ne to thy frend, discovere nat
Thy secree ne thy folie;/ for they wol yeve yow
Audience and lookynge and supportacioun in
Thy presence, and scorne thee in thyn absence.
-- / another clerk seith that -- scarsly
Shaltou fynden any persone that may kepe conseil
secrely. -- / the book seith, -- whil that thou
Kepest thy conseil in thyn herte, thou kepest
It in thy prisoun;/ and whan thou biwreyest
Thy conseil to any wight, he holdeth
Thee in his snare. -- / and therfore yow
Is bettre to hyde youre conseil in youre
Herte than praye him to whom ye han biwreyed
Youre conseil that he wole kepen it cloos and
Stille./ For seneca seith: -- if so be that thou
Ne mayst nat thyn owene conseil hyde, how
Darstou prayen any oother wight thy conseil
Secrely to kepe? -- / but nathelees, if thou wene
Sikerly that the biwreiyng of thy conseil to a
Persone wol make thy condicion to stonden in
The bettre plyt, thanne shaltou tellen hym thy
Conseil in this wise./ First thou shalt make no
Semblant wheither thee were levere pees or
Werre, or this or that, ne shewe hym nat thy
Wille and thyn entente. / for trust wel that
Comunli thise conseillours been flatereres,/
namely the conseillours of grete
Lordes;/ for they enforcen hem alwey
Rather to speken plesante wordes, enclynynge
To the lordes lust, than wordes that been trewe
Or profitable./ And therfore men seyn that the
Riche man hath seeld good conseil, but if he
Have it of hymself./
And after that thou shalt considere thy
Freendes and thyne enemys./ And as touchynge
thy freendes, thou shalt considere which
Of hem been moost feithful and moost wise
And eldest and most approved in conseillyng;/
and of hem shalt thou aske
Thy conseil, as the caas requireth./ I
Seye that first ye shul clepe to youre conseil
Youre freendes that been trewe./ For salomon
Seith that -- right as the herte of a man deliteth in
Savour that is soote, right so the conseil of trewe
Freendes yeveth swetnesse to the soule -- / he
Seith also, -- ther may no thyng be likned to the
Trewe freend;/ for certes gold ne silver ben nat
So muche worth as the goode wyl of a
Trewe freend. -- / and eek he seith that
-- A trewe freend is a strong deffense;
Who so that it fyndeth, certes he fyndeth a
Greet tresour. -- / thanne shul ye eek considere
If that youre trewe freendes been discrete and Page 173
Wise. For the book seith, -- axe alwey thy conseil
of hem that been wise. -- / and by this same
Resoun shul ye clepen to youre conseil of youre
Freendes that been of age, swiche as han seyn
And been expert in manye thynges and been
Approved in conseillynges./ For the book seith
That -- in olde men is the sapience, and in longe
Tyme the prudence. -- / and tullius seith that
-- Grete thynges ne been nat ay accompliced by
Strengthe, ne by delivernesse of body, but by
Good conseil, by auctoritee of persones, and by
Science; the whiche thre thynges ne been nat
Fieble by age, but certes they enforcen
And encreescen day by day. -- / and
Thanne shul ye kepe this for a general
Reule: first shul ye clepen to youre conseil a
Fewe of youre freendes that been especiale;/
For salomon seith, -- manye freendes have thou,
But among a thousand chese thee oon to be
Thy conseillour. -- / for al be it so that thou first
Ne telle thy conseil but to a fewe, thou mayst
Afterward telle it to mo folk if it be nede./ But
Looke alwey that thy conseillours have thilke
Thre condiciouns that I have seyd bifore, that
Is to seyn, that they be trewe, wise, and of
Oold experience./ And werke nat alwey in
Every nede by oon counseillour allone; for somtyme
bihooveth it to been conseilled by
Manye./ For salomon seith, -- salvacion
Of thynges is where as ther been manye
Conseillours. -- /
Now, sith that I have toold yow of which
Folk ye sholde been conseilled, now wol I
Teche yow which conseil ye oghte to eschewe/.
First, ye shul eschue the conseillyng of fooles;
For salomon seith, -- taak no conseil of a fool,
For he ne kan noght conseille but after his
Owene lust and his affeccioun. -- / the book
Seith that -- the propretee of a fool is this: he
Troweth lightly harm of every wight, and lightly
Troweth alle bountee in hymself. -- / thou shalt
Eek eschue the conseillyng of alle flatereres,
Swiche as enforcen hem rather to preise youre
Persone by flaterye than for to telle yow
The soothfastnesse of thynges./ Wherfore
tullius seith, -- amonges alle the
Pestilences that been in freendshipe the gretteste
is flaterie. -- and therfore is it moore nede
That thou eschue and drede flatereres than any
Oother peple./ The book seith, -- thou shalt
Rather drede and flee fro the sweete wordes of
Flaterynge preiseres than fro the egre wordes
Of thy freend that seith thee thy sothes. -- / salomon
seith that -- the wordes of a flaterere is a
Snare to cacche with innocentz. -- / he seith also
That -- he that speketh to his freend wordes of
Swetnesse and of plesaunce, setteth a net biforn
his feet to cacche hym. -- / and therfore
Seith tullius, -- enclyne nat thyne eres to flatereres,
ne taak no conseil of the wordes
Of flaterye. -- / and caton seith, -- avyse
Thee wel, and eschue the wordes of swetnesse
and of plesaunce. -- / and eek thou shalt
Eschue the conseillyng of thyne olde enemys
That been reconsiled./ The book seith that -- no
Wight retourneth saufly into the grace of his
Olde enemy. -- / and isope seith, -- ne trust nat
To hem to whiche thou hast had som tyme
Werre or enemytee, ne telle hem nat thy
Conseil. -- / and seneca telleth the cause why:
-- it may nat be. -- seith he, -- that where greet
Fyr hath longe tyme endured, that ther
Ne dwelleth som vapour of warmness.
-- / and therfore seith salomon, -- in
Thyn olde foo trust nevere. -- / for sikerly,
Though thyn enemy be reconsiled, and maketh
thee chiere of hymylitee, and lowteth to
Thee with his heed, ne trust hym nevere./ For
Certes he maketh thilke feyned humilitee moore
For his profit than for any love of thy persone,
By cause that he deemeth to have victorie over
Thy persone by swich feyned contenance, the
Which victorie he myghte nat have by strif or
Werre./ And peter alfonce seith, -- make no
Felawshipe with thyne olde enemys; for if thou
Do hem bountee, they wol perverten it into
Wikkednesse. -- / and eek thou most eschue
The conseillyng of hem that been thy servantz
and beren thee greet reverence, for
Peraventure they seyn it moore for drede
Than for love./ And therfore seith a philosophre
in this wise: ther is no wight
Parfitly trewe to hym that he to soore dredeth.
-- / and tullius seith, ther nys no myght
So greet of any emperour that longe may endure,
but if he have moore love of the peple
Than drede. -- / thou shalt also eschue the conseiling
of folk that been dronkelewe, for they
Ne kan no conseil hyde./ For salomon seith,
-- ther is no privetee ther as regneth dronkenesse.
-- / ye shul also han in suspect the conseillyng
of swich folk as conseille yow o thyng
Prively, and conseille yow the contrarie
Openly./ For cassidorie seith that -- it
Is a manere sleighte to hyndre, whan he
Sheweth to doon o thyng openly and werketh
Prively the contrarie. -- / thou shalt also have
In suspect the conseillyng of wikked folk, for Page 174
The book seith, -- the conseillyng of wikked folk
Is alwey ful of fraude. -- / and david seith, -- blisful
is that man that hath nat folwed the con --
Seilyng of shrewes. -- / thou shalt also eschue
The conseillyng of yong folk, for hir conseil is
Now, sire, sith I have shewed yow of
Which folk ye shul take youre conseil, and of
Which folk ye shul folwe the conseil,/
now wol I teche yow how ye shal
Examyne youre conseil, after the doctrine
of tullius./ In the examynynge thanne
Of youre conseillour ye shul considere manye
Thynges./ Alderfirst thou shalt considere that
In thilke thyng that thou purposest, and upon
What thyng thou wolt have conseil, that verray
Trouthe be seyd and conserved; this is to seyn,
Telle trewely thy tale./ For he that seith fals
May nat wel be conseilled in that cas of which
He lieth./ And after this thou shalt considere the
Thynges that acorden to that thou purposest for
To do by thy conseillours, if resoun accorde
therto;/ and eek if thy myhgt may
Atteine therto; and if the moore part and
The bettre part of thy conseillours acorde therto,
Or noon./ Thanne shaltou considere what
Thyng shal folwe of that conseillyng, as hate,
Pees, werre, grace, profit, or damage, and
Manye othere thynges./ And in alle thise
Thynges thou shalt chese the beste, and weyve
Alle othere thynges./ Thanne shaltow considere
of what roote is engendred the matiere of
Thy conseil, and what fruyt it may conceyve
And engendre./ Thou shalt eek considere
Alle thise causes, fro whennes they been
Sprongen./ And whan ye han examyned
youre conseil, as I have seyd, and
Which partie is the bettre and moore profitable,
and han approved it by manye wise folk
And olde,/ thanne shaltou considere if thou
Mayst parfourne it and maken of it a good
Ende./ For certes, resoun wol nat that any
Man sholde bigynne a thyng, but if he myghte
Parfourne it as hym oghte;/ ne no wight sholde
Take upon hym so hevy a charge that he
Myghte nat bere it./ For the proverbe seith,
-- he that to muche embraceth, distreyneth
litel. -- / and catoun seith, -- assay
To do swich thyng as thou hast power to
Doon, lest that the charge oppresse thee so
Soore that thee bihoveth to weyve thyng that
Thou hast bigonne. -- / and if so be that thou
Be in doute wheither thou mayst parfourne a
Thing or noon, chese rather to suffre than bigynne./
and piers alphonce seith, -- if thou hast
Myght to doon a thyng of which thou most
Repente, it is bettre nay than ye. -- / this is
To seyn, that thee is bettre holde thy tonge
Stille than for to speke./ Thanne may ye understonde
by strenger resons that if thou hast
Power to parfourne a werk of which thou shalt
Repente, thanne is it bettre that thou suffre
than bigynne./ Wel seyn they that
Defenden every wight to assaye a thyng
Of which he is in doute wheither he may parfourne
it or noon./ And after, whan ye han
Examyned youre conseil, as I have seyd biforn,
And knowen wel that ye may parfourne youre
Emprise, conferme it thanne sadly til it be at
Now is it resoun and tyme that I shewe yow
Whanne and wherfore that ye may chaunge
Youre conseillours withouten youre repreve./
Soothly, a man may chaungen his purpos and
His conseil if the cause cesseth, or whan a newe
Caas bitydeth./ For the lawe seith that -- upon
Thynges that newely bityden bihoveth
Newe conseil. -- / and senec seith, -- if thy
Conseil is comen to the eeris of thyn enemy,
chaunge thy conseil. -- / thou matst also
Chaunge thy conseil if so be that thou fynde
That by errour, or by oother cause, harm or
Damage may bityde./ Also if thy conseil be
Dishonest, or ellis cometh of dishonest cause,
Chaunge thy conseil./ For the lawes seyn that
-- alle bihestes that been dishoneste been of no
Value -- ;/ and eek if so be that it be inpossible,
or may nat goodly be parfourned
And take this for a general reule, that
Every conseil that is affermed so strongly that
It may nat be chaunged for no condicioun that
May bityde, I seye that thilke conseil is wikked./
n=11232>This melibeus, whanne he hadde herd the
Doctrine of his wyf dame prudence, answerde
In this wyse:/ dame, quod he, as yet into
This tyme ye han wel and covenably taught me
As in general, how I shal governe me in the
Chesynge and in the withholdynge of my conseillours./
but now wolde I fayn that ye wolde
Condescende in especial,/ and telle me how liketh
yow, or what semeth yow, by oure conseillours
that we han chosen in oure present
My lord, quod she, I biseke yow in al
Humblesse that ye wol nat wilfully replie agayn
My resouns, ne distempre youre herte, thogh I Page 175
Speke thyng that yow displese./ For God woot
That, as in myn entente, I speke it for youre
Beste, for youre honour, and for youre profite
Eke./ And soothly, I hope that youre benyngnytee
wol taken it in pacience./ Trusteth me
Wel, quod she, that youre conseil as in this
Caas ne sholde nat, as to speke properly, be
Called a conseillyng, but a mocioun or a moevyng
of folye,/ in which conseil ye han
Erred in many a sondry wise./
First and forward, ye han erred in
Th' assemblynge of youre conseillours./ For ye
Sholde first have cleped a fewe folk to youre
Conseil, and after ye myghte han shewed it
To mo folk, if it hadde been nede./ But certes,
Ye han sodeynly cleped to youre conseil a greet
Multitude of peple, ful chargeant and ful anoyous
for to heere./ Also ye han erred, for theras
Ye sholden oonly have cleped to youre conseil
Youre trewe frendes olde and wise./ Ye han
Ycleped straunge folk, yonge folk, false flatereres,
And enemys reconsiled, and folk that
Doon yow reverence withouten love./
And ekk also ye have erred, for ye han
Broght with yow to youre conseil ire, coveitise,
And hastifnesse,/ the whiche thre thinges been
Contrariouse to every conseil honest and profitable;/
the whiche thre thinges ye han nat
Anientissed or destroyed hem, neither in youreself,
ne in youre conseillours, as yow oghte./
Ye han erred also, for ye han shewed to youre
Conseillours youre talent and youre affeccioun
To make werre anon, and for to do vengeance./
They han espied by youre wordes to
What thyng ye been enclyned;/ and
Therfore han they rather conseilled
Yow to youre talent that to youre profit./
Ye han erred also, for it semeth that yow
Suffiseth to han been conseilled by thise
Conseillours oonly, and with litel avys,/
Whereas in so greet and so heigh a nede
It hadde been necessarie mo conseillours
And moore deliberacion to parfourne youre emprise./
ye han erred also, for ye ne han nat
Examyned youre conseil in the forseyde manere,
ne in due manere, as the caas requireth./
Ye han erred also, for ye han maked no division
bitwixe youre conseillours; this is to
Seyn, bitwixen youre trewe freendes and
Youre feyned conseillours;/ ne ye han
Nat knowe the wil of youre trewe
Freendes olde and wise;/ but ye han cast alle
Hire wordes in an hochepot, and enclyned
Youre herte to the moore part and to the gretter
Nombre, and there been ye condescended./
And sith ye woot wel that men shal alwey
Fynde a gretter nombre of fooles than of wise
Men,/ and therfore the conseils that been at
Congregaciouns and multitudes of folk, there as
Men take moore reward to the nombre than to
The sapience of persones,/ ye se wel that in
Swiche conseillynges fooles han the maistrie./
Melibeus answerde agayn, and seyde,
I graunte wel that I have erred;/ but there
As thou hast toold me heerbiforn that he nys
Nat to blame that chaungeth his conseillours in
Certein caas and for certeine juste causes,/ I am
Al redy to chaunge my conseillours right as thow
Wolt devyse./ The proverbe seith that -- for
To do synne is mannyssh, but certes for to persevere
longe in synne is werk of the devel. -- /
To this sentence answered anon dame
Prudence, and seyde:/ examineth,
Quod she, youre conseil, and lat us see
The whiche of hem han spoken most resonably
And taught yow best conseil./ And for as
Muche as that the examynacion is necessarie,
Lat us bigynne at the surgiens and at the phisiciens,
that first speeken in this matiere./ I sey
Yow that the surgiens and phisiciens han
Seyd yow in youre conseil discreetly, as hem
Oughte;/ and in hir speche seyden ful wisely
That to the office of hem aperteneth to doon to
Every wight honour and profit, and no wight
For to anoye;/ and after hir craft to doon greet
Diligence unto the cure of hem which
That they han in hir governaunce./
And, sire, right as they han answered
Wisely and discreetly,/ right so rede I that they
Been heighly and sovereynly gerdoned for hir
Noble speche;/ and eek for they sholde do the
Moore ententif bisynesse in the curacion of
Youre doghter deere./ For al be it so that they
Been youre freendes, therfore shal ye nat suffren
that they serve yow for noght,/ but ye
Oghte the rather gerdone hem and shewe
Hem youre largesse./ And as touchynge
The proposicioun which that the phisiciens
encreesceden in this caas, this is to seyn./
That in maladies that oon contrarie is warisshed
By another contrarie,/ I wolde fayn knowe hou
Ye understonde thilke text, and what is youre
Certes, quod melibeus, I understonde
It in this wise:/ that right as they han
Doon me a contrarie, right so sholde I
Doon hem another./ For right as they Page 176
Han venged hem on me and doon me wrong,
Right so shal I venge me upon hem and doon
Hem wrong;/ and thanne have I cured oon contrarie
Lo, lo, quod dame prudence, how lightly
Is every man enclined to his owene desir and
To his owene plesaunce!/ certes, quod she,
The wordes of the phisiciens ne sholde nat
Han been understonden in thys wise./ For
Certes, wikkednesse is nat contrarie to wikkednesse,
ne vengeance to vengeaunce, ne
Wrong to wrong, but they been semblable./
and therfore o vengeaucne is
Nat warisshed by another vengeaunce,
Ne o wroong by another wroong,/ but everich
Of hem encreesceth and aggreggeth oother./
But certes, the wordes of the phisiciens sholde
Been understonden in this wise:/ for dood and
Wikkednesse been two contraries, and pees and
Werre, vengeaunce and suffraunce, discord and
Accord, and manye othere thynges./ But certes,
Wikkednesse shal be warisshed by goodnesse,
Discord by accord, werre by pees, and
So forth of othere thynges./ And heerto
Accordeth seint paul the apostle in
Manye places./ He seith: -- ne yeldeth nat
Harm for harm, ne wikked speche for wikked
Speche;/ but do wel to hym that dooth thee
Harm, and blesse hym that seith to thee harm./
And in manye othere places he amonesteth pees
And accord./ But now wol I speke to yow of
The conseil which that was yeven to yow
By the men of lawe and the wise
Folk,/ that seyden alle by oon accord,
As ye han herd bifore,/ that over alle
Thynges ye shal doon youre diligence to kepen
Youre persone and to warnestoore youre hous;
And seyden also that in this caas yow oghten
For to werken ful avysely and with greet deliberacioun./
and, sire, as to the firste point, that
Toucheth to the kepyng of youre persone,/ ye
Shul understonde that he that hath werre
Shal everemoore mekely and devoutly
Preyen, biforn alle thynges,/ that jhesus
Crist of his mercy wol han hym in his
Proteccion and been his sovereyn helpyng at
His nede./ For certes, in this world ther is no
Wight that may be conseilled ne kept sufficeantly
Withouten the kepyng of oure lord jhesu
Crist./ To this sentence accordeth the prophete
david, that seith,/ -- if God ne kepe the
Citee, in ydel waketh he that it kepeth. -- /
Now, sire, thanne shul ye committe the kepyng
of youre persone to youre trewe freendes,
That been approved and yknowe,/ and
Of hem shul ye axen help youre persone
For to kepe. For catoun seith: -- if thou hast
Nede of help, axe it of thy freendes;/ for ther
Nys noon so good a phisicien as thy trewe
Freend. -- / and after this thanne shul ye kepe
Yow fro alle straunge folk, and fro lyeres, and
Have alwey in suspect hire compaignye./ For
Piers alfonce seith, -- ne taak no compaignye by
The weye of a straunge man, but if so be that
Thou have knowe hym of a lenger tyme./ And
If so be that he falle into thy compaignye
Paraventure, withouten thyn assent,/ enquere
thanne as subtilly as thou mayst of
His conversacion, and of his lyf bifore, and feyne
Thy wey; seye that thou wolt thider as thou
Wolt nat go;/ and if he bereth a spere, hoold
Thee on the right syde, and if he bere a swerd,
Hoold thee on the lift syde. -- / and after this
Thanne shul ye kepe yow wisely from all swich
Manere peple as I have seyd bifore, and hem
And hir conseil eschewe./ And after this
Thanne shul ye kepe yow in swich manere/
That, for any presumpcion of youre strengthe,
That ye ne dispise nat, ne accompte nat the
Myght of youre adversarie so litel, that ye lete
The kepyng of youre persone for youre
Presumpcioun;/ for every wys man
Dredeth his enemy./ And salomon
Seith: -- weleful is he that of alle hath drede;/
For certes, he that thurgh the hardynesse of
His herte, and thurgh the hardynesse of
Hymself, hath to greet presumpcioun, hym shal
Yvel bityde. -- / thanne shul ye everemoore contrewayte
embusshementz and alle espiaille./
For senec seith that -- the wise man that
Dredeth harmes, eschueth harmes,/ ne
He ne falleth into perils that perils eschueth.
-- / and al be it so that it seme that
Thou art in siker place, yet shaltow alwey do
Thy diligence in kepynge of thy persone;/ this
Is to seyn, ne be nat necligent to kepe thy persone,
nat oonly for thy gretteste enemys, but
Fro thy leeste enemy./ Senek seith: -- a man
That is well avysed, he dredeth his leste enemy.
-- / ovyde seith that -- the litel wesele
Wol slee the grete bole and the wilde
Hert. -- / and the book seith, -- a litel
Thorn may prikke a kyng ful soore, and
An hound wol holde the wolde boor. -- / but
Nathelees, I sey nat thou shalt be so coward
That thou doute ther wher as is no drede./ The
Book seith that -- somme folk han greet lust to
Deceyve, but yet they dreden hem to be deceyved. Page 177
-- / yet shaltou drede to been empoisoned,
and kepe the from the compaignye of
Scorneres./ For the book seith, -- with scorneres
make no compaignye, but flee hire
Wordes as venym. -- /
Now, as to the seconde point, where
As youre wise conseillours conseilled yow to
Warnestoore youre hous with gret diligence,/
I wolde fayn knowe how that ye understonde
Thilke wordes and what is youre sentence./
Melibeus answerde, and seyde, certes, I understande
it in this wise: that I shal warne --
Stoore myn hous with toures, swiche as han
Castelles and othere manere edifices, and armure,
and artelries;/ by whiche thynges I may
My persone and myn hous so kepen and deffenden
that myne enemys shul been in drede
Myn hous for to approche./
To this sentence answerde anon prudence:
Warnestooryng, quod she, of heighe toures
And of grete edifices apperteyneth somtyme
to pryde./ And eek men make
Heighe toures, and grete edifices with
Grete costages and with greet travaille; and
Whan that they been accompliced, yet be they
Nat worth a stree, but if they be defended by
Trewe freendes that been olde and wise./ And
Understoond wel that the gretteste and strongeste
garnysoun that a riche man may have, as
Wel to kepen his persone as his goodes, is/
That he be biloved with hys subgetz and with
His neighebores./ For thus seith tullius, that
-- ther is a manere garnysoun that no man may
Vanquysse ne disconfite, and that is/ a lord to
Be biloved of his citezeins and of his
Peple. -- /
Now, sire, as to the thridde point,
Where as youre olde and wise conseillours
Seyden that yow ne oghte nat sodeynly ne
Hastily proceden in this nede,/ but that yow
Oghte purveyen and apparaillen yow in this caas
With greet diligence and greet deliberacioun;/
Trewely, I trowe that they seyden right wisely
And right sooth./ For tullius seith: -- in every
Nede, er thou bigynne it, apparaille thee with
Greet diligence. -- / thanne seye I that in vengeance-
takyng, in were, in bataille, and
In warnestooryng,/ er thow bigynne, I
Rede that thou apparaille thee therto,
And do it with greet deliberacion./ For tul
Lius seith that -- longe apparaillyng biforn the
Bataille maketh short victorie. -- / and cassidorus
seith, -- the garnysoun is stronger, whan
It is longe tyme avysed. -- /
But now lat us speken of the conseil that
Was accorded by youre neighebores, swiche
As doon yow reverence withouten love,/
Youre olde enemys reconsiled, youre flatereres,/
that conseilled yow certeyne
Thynges prively, and openly conseilleden
Yow the contrarie;/ the yonge folk also, that
Conseilleden yow to venge yow, and make
Werre anon./ And certes, sire, as I have seyd
Biforn, ye han greetly erred to han cleped
Swich manere folk to youre conseil,/ which
Conseillours been ynogh repreved by the re/
Souns aforeseyd./ But nathelees, lat us now
Descende to the special. Ye shuln first
Procede after the doctrine of tullius./
Certes, the trouthe of this matiere, or of
This conseil, nedeth nat diligently enquere;/
For it is wel wist whiche they been that han
Doon to yow this trespas and vileynye,/ and
How manye trespassours, and in what manere
They han to yow doon al this wrong and al this
Vileynye./ And after this, thanne shul ye examyne
the seconde condicion which that the
Same tullius addeth in this matiere./ For tullius
put a thyng which that he clepeth
-- consentynge -- ; this is to seyn,/ who been
They, and which been they and how
Manye, that consenten to thy conseil in thy
Wilfulnesse to doon hastif vengeance./ And
Lat us considere also who been they, and how
Manye been they, and whiche been they, that
Consenteden to youre adversaries./ And certes,
As to the first poynt, it is wel knowen whiche
Folk been they that consenteden to youre hastif
Wilfulnesse;/ for trewely, alle tho that conseilleden
yow to maken sodeyn were ne been nat
Youre freendes./ Lat us now considere whiche
Been they that ye holde so greetly youre
Freendes as to youre persone./ For al
Be it so that ye be myghty and riche,
Certes ye ne been but allone,/ for certes ye ne
Han no child but a doghter,/ ne ye ne han
Brotheren, ne cosyns germayns, ne noon oother
Neigh kynrede,/ wherfore that youre enemys
For drede wholde stinte to plede with yow, or
To destroye youre persone./ Ye knowen also
That youre richesses mooten been dispended
in diverse parties,/ and whan
That every wight hath his part, they ne
Wollen taken but litel reward to venge thy
Deeth./ But thyne enemys been thre, and they
Han manie children, bretheren, cosyns, and
Oother ny kynrede./ And though so were that
Thou haddest slayn of hem two or tree, yet Page 178
Dwellen ther ynowe to wreken hir deeth and
To sle thy persone./ And though so be that
Youre kynrede be moore siker and stedefast
Than the kyn of youre adversarie,/ yet nathelees
youre kynrede nys but a fer kynrede;
they been but litel syb to yow,/
And the kyn of youre enemys been ny
Syb to hem. And certes, as in that, hir condicioun
is bet than youres./ Thanne lat us considere
also if the conseillung of hem that conseilleden
yow to taken sodeyn bengeaunce,
Wheither it accorde to resoun./ And certes, ye
Knowe wel -- nay. -- / for, as by right and resoun,
Ther may no man taken vengeance on no wight
But the juge that hath the jurisdiccioun of it,/
Whan it is graunted hym to take thilke vengeance
hastily or attemprely, as the lawe
Requireth./ And yet mooreover of thilke
Word that tullius clepeth -- consentynge,
-- / thou shalt considere if thy myght and
Thy power may consenten and suffise to thy
Wilfulnesse and to thy conseillours./ And certes
Thou mayst wel seyn that -- nay. -- / for sikerly,
as for to speke proprely, we may do
No thyng, but oonly swich thyng as we may
Doon rightfully./ And certes rightfully ne mowe
Ye take no vengeance, as of youre
Propre auctoritee./ Thanne mowe ye
Seen that youre power ne consenteth
Nat, ne accordeth nat, with youre wilfulnesse./
Lat us now examyne the thridde point, that
Tullius clepeth -- consequent. -- / thou shal understonde
that the vengeance that thou purposest
for to take is the consequent;/ and
Therof folweth another vengeaunce, peril, and
Werre, and othere damages withoute nombre,
Of whiche we be nat war, as at this tyme./
And as touchynge the fourthe point,
That tullius clepeth -- engendrynge, -- /
Thou shalt considere that this wrong
Which that is doon to thee is engendred of the
Hate of thyne enemys,/ and of the vengeance-
Takynge upon that wolde engendre another
Vengeance, and muchel sorwe and wastynge
Of richesses, as I seyde./
Now, sire, as to the point that tullius clepeth
-- causes, -- which that is the laste point,/ thou
Shalt understonde that the worng that thou hast
Receyved hath certeine causes,/ whiche that
Clerkes clepen oriens and efficiens, and causa
Longinqua and causa propinqua, this is
To seyn, the fer cause and the ny cause./
The fer cause is almyghty god, that is
Cause of alle thynges./ The neer cause is thy
Thre enemys.// the cause accidental was hate./
The cause material been the fyve woundes of
Thy doghter./ The cause formal is the manere
Of hir werkynge that broghten laddres
And cloumben in at thy wyndowes./
The cause final was for to sle thy doghter.
it letted nat in as muche as in hem was./
But for to speken of the fer cause, as to what
Ende they shul come, or what shal finally bityde
Of hem in this caas, ne kan I nat deeme but
By conjectynge and by supposynge./ For we
Shul suppose that they shul come to a wikked
Ende,/ by cause that the book of decrees seith,
-- seelden, or with greet peyne, been causes
Ybroght to good ende whanne they been baddely
bigonne. -- /
Now, sire, if men wolde axe me why that
God suffred men to do yow this vileynye, certes,
I kan nat wel answere, as for no soothfastnesse./
for th' apostle seith that -- the
Sciences and the juggementz of oure
Lord God almyghty been ful depe;/ ther may
No man comprehende ne serchen hem suffisantly.
-- / nathelees, by certeyne presumpciouns
and conjectynges, I holde and bileeve/
That god, which that is ful of justice and of
Rightwisnesse, hath suffred this bityde by juste
Thy name is melibee, this is to seyn,
-- a man that drynketh hony. -- / thou hast
Ydronke so muchel hony of sweete temporeel
richesses, and delices and honours of
This world,/ that thou art dronken, and hast
Forgeten jhesu crist thy creatour./ Thou ne
Hast nat doon to hym swich honour and reverence
as thee oughte,/ ne thou ne hast nat
Wel ytaken kep to the wordes of ovide, that
Seith,/ -- under the hony of the goodes of
The body is hyd the venym that sleeth
The soule -- / and salomon seith, -- if thou
Hast founden hony, ete of it that suffiseth;/
for if thou ete of it out of mesure, thou
Shalt spewe, -- and be nedy and povre./ And
Peraventure crist hath thee in despit, and hath
Turned awey fro thee his face and his eeris of
Misericorde;/ and also he hath suffred that thou
Hast been punysshed in the manere that thow
Hast ytrespassed./ Thou hast doon
Synne agayn oure lord crist;/ for certes,
The three enemys of mankynde, that is to
Seyn, the flessh, the feend, and the world,/
Thou hast suffred hem entre in to thyn herte
Wilfully by the wyndowes of thy body,/ and
Hast nat defended thyself suffisantly agayns Page 179
Hire assautes and hire temptaciouns, so that they
Han wounded thy soule in fyve places;/ this is
To seyn, the deedly synnes that been entred into
Thyn herte by thy fyve wittes./ And in the
Same manere oure lord crist hath woold and
Suffred that thy three enemys been entred
into thyn house by the wyndowes,/
And han ywounded thy doghter in the
Certes, quod melibee, I se wel that ye
Enforce yow muchel by wordes to overcome
Me in swich manere that I shal nat venge me
Of myne enemys,/ shewynge me the perils and
The yveles that myghten falle of this vengeance./
but whoso wolde considere in alle
Vengeances the perils and yveles that myghte
Sewe of vengeance-takynge,/ a man wolde
Nevere take vengeance, and that were
Harm;/ for by the vengeance-takynge
Been the wikked men dissevered fro the
Goode men,/ and they that han wyl to do wikkednesse
restreyne hir wikked purpos, whan
They seen the punyssynge and chastisynge of
(et a ce respont dame prudence, certes,
Dist elle, je t' ottroye que de vengence vient
Molt de maulx et de biens;/ mais vengence
N' appartient pas a un chascun fors seulement
Aux juges et a ceulx qui ont la juridicion sur
Les malfaitteurs.)/ and yet seye I moore, that
Right as singuler persone synneth in
Takynge vengeance of another man,/
Right so synneth the juge if he do no
Vengeance of hem that it han disserved./ For
Senec seith thus: -- that maister, -- he seith, -- is
Good that proveth shrewes. -- / and as cassidore
seith, -- a man dredeth to do outrages
Whan he woot and knoweth that it despleseth
To the juges and the sovereyns. -- / and another
Seith, -- the juge that dredeth to do right, maketh
men shrewes. -- / and seint paul the apostle
seith in his epistle, whan he writeth unto
The romayns, that -- the juges beren nat
The spere withouten cause,/ but they
Beren it to punysse the shrewes and mysdoers,
and for to defende the goode men./ If ye
Wol thanne take vengeance of youre enemys, ye
Shul retourne or have youre recours to the juge
That hath the jurisdiccion upon hem,/ and he
Shal punysse hem as the lawe axeth and requireth./
A! quod melibee, this vengeance liketh
Me no thyng./ I bithenke me now and take
Heede how fortune hath norissed me fro my
Childhede, and hath holpen me to passe
Many a stroong paas./ Now wol I assayen
hire, trowynge, with goddes help,
That she shal helpe me my shame for to
Certes, quod prudence, if ye wol werke
By conseil, ye shul nat assaye fortune by
No wey,/ ne ye shul nat lene or bowe unto
Hire, after the word of senec;/ for -- thynges that
Been folily doon, and that been in hope of
Fortune, shullen nevere come to good ende. -- /
And, as the same senec seith, -- the moore cleer
And the moore shynyng that fortune is, the
Moore brotil and the sonner broken she
Is -- ./ Trusteth nat in hire, for she nys
Nat stidefast ne stable;/ for whan thow
Trowest to be moost seur or siker of hire help,
She wol faille thee and deceyve thee./ And
Where as ye seyn that fortune hath norissed
Yow fro youre childhede,/ I seye that in so
Muchel shul ye the lasse truste in hire and in
Hir wit./ For senec seith, -- what man that is
Norissed by fortune, she maketh hym
A greet fool. -- / now thanne, syn ye desire
and axe vengeance, and the vengeance
that is doon after the lawe and bifore
The juge ne liketh yow nat,/ and the vengeance
That is doon in hope of fortune is perilous and
Uncertein,/ thanne have ye noon oother remedie
but for to have youre recours unto the sovereyn
juge that vengeth alle vileynyes and
Wronges./ And he shal venge yow after that
Hymself witnesseth, where as he seith,/ -- leveth
the vengeance to me, and I shal
Do it. -- /
Melibee answerde, if I ne venge me
Nat of the vileynye that men han doon to me,/
I sompne or warne hem that han doon to me
That vileynye, and alle othere, to do me another
Vileynye./ For it is writen, -- if thou take no
Vengeance of an oold vileynye, thou sompnest
Thyne adversaries to do thee a newe vileynye. -- /
And also for my suffrance men wolden do
Me so muchel vileynye that I myghte neither
Bere it ne susteene,/ and so sholde I
Been put and holden overlowe./ For
Men seyn, -- in muchel suffrynge shul
Manye thynges falle unto thee whiche thou
Shalt nat mowe suffre. -- /
Certes, quod prudence, I graunte yow
That over -- muchel suffraunce is nat good./ But
Yet ne folweth it nat therof that every persone
To whom men doon vileynye take of it vengeance;/
for that aperteneth and longeth al Page 180
Oonly to the juges, for they shul venge the
Vileynyes and injuries./ And therfore tho two
Auctoritees that ye han seyd above been
Oonly understonden in the juges./ For
Whan they suffren over-muchel the
Wronges and the vileynyes to be doon withouten
punysshynge,/ the sompne nat a man
Al oonly for to do newe wronges, but they
Comanden it./ Also a wys man seith that the
Juge that correcteth nat the synnere comandeth
and biddeth hym do synne. -- / and the juges
And sovereyns myghten in hir land so muchel
Suffre of the shrewes and mysdoeres/ that they
Sholden, by swich suffrance, by proces of
Tyme wexen of swich power and myght that
They sholden putte out the juges and the
Sovereyns from hir places,/ and atte laste
Maken hem lesen hire lordshipes./
But lat us now putte that ye have leve to
Venge yow./ I seye ye been nat of myght and
Power as now to venge yow;/ for if ye wole
Maken comparisoun unto the myght of youre
Adversaries, ye shul fynde in manye thynges
That I have shewed yow er this that hire condicion
is bettre than youres./ And therfore
Seye I that it is good as now that ye suffre
and be pacient./
Forthermoore, ye knowen wel that
After the comune sawe, -- it is a woodnesse a
Man to stryve with a strenger or a moore
Myghty man than he is hymself;/ and for to
Stryve with a man of evene strengthe, that is
To seyn, with as strong a man as he is, it is
Peril;/ and for to stryve with a weyker man, it
Is folie. -- / and therfore sholde a man flee stryvynge
as muchel as he myghte./ For salomon
Seith, -- it is a greet worshipe to a man to
Kepen hym fro noyse and stryf. -- / and
If it so bifalle or happe that a man of
Gretter myght and strengthe than thou art do
Thee grevaunce,/ studie and bisye thee rather
To stille the same grevaunce than for to venge
Thee./ For senec seith that -- he putteth hym in
Greet peril that stryveth with a gretter man
Than he is hymself. -- / and catoun seith, -- if a
Man of hyer estaat or degree, or moore myghty
Than thou, do thee anoy or grevaunce, suffre
Hym;/ for he that oones hath greved thee,
May another tyme releeve thee and
Helpe. -- / yet sette I caas, ye have bothe
Myght and licence for to venge yow,/ I
Seye that ther be ful manye thynges that shul
Restreyne yow of vengeance-takynge,/ and
Make yow for to enclyne to suffre, and for to
Han pacience in the wronges that han been
Doon to yow./ First and foreward, if ye wole
Considere the defautes that been in youre
Owene persone,/ for whiche defautes God hath
Suffred yow have this tribulacioun, as I
Have seyd yow heer-biforn./ For the
Poete seith that -- we oghte paciently
Taken the tribulacions that comen to us, whan
We thynken and consideren that we han disserved
to have hem. -- / and seint gregorie
Seith that -- whan a man considereth wel the
Nombre of his defautes and of his synnes,/ the
Peynes and the tribulaciouns that he suffreth
Semen the lesse unto hym;/ and in as muche
As hym thynketh his synnes moore hevy and
Grevous,/ in so muche semeth his peyne
The lighter and the esier unto hym. -- /
Also ye owen to enclyne and bowe youre
Herte to take the pacience of oure lord jhesu
Crist, as seith seint peter in his epistles./
Jhesu crist, -- he seith, -- hath suffred for us and
Yeven ensample to every man to folwe and
Sewe hym;/ for he dide nevere synne, ne nevere
cam ther a vileyns word out of his mouth./
Whan men cursed hym, he cursed hem noght;
And whan men betten hym, he manaced hem
Noght. -- / also the grete pacience which the
Seintes that been in paradys han had in tribulaciouns
that they han ysuffred, withouten
Hir desert or gilt,/ oghte muchel stiren
Yow to pacience./ Forthermoore ye
Sholde enforce yow to have pacience,/ considerynge
that the tribulaciouns of this world but
Litel while endure, and soone passed been and
Goon,/ and the joye that a man seketh to have
By pacience in tribulaciouns is perdurable,
After that the apostle seith in his epistle./ The
Joye of god, he seith, is perdurable,
That is to seyn, everelastynge./ Also
Troweth and bileveth stedefastly that he
Nys nat wel ynorissed, ne wel ytaught, that kan
Nat have pacience, or wol nat receyve pacience./
for salomon seith that -- the doctrine
And the wit of a man is knowen by pacience. -- /
And in another place he seith that -- he that is
Pacient governeth hym by greet prudence. -- /
And the same salomon seith, -- the angry and
Wrathful man maketh noyses, and the pacient
Man atempreth hem and stilleth. -- / he seith
Also, -- it is moore worth to be pacient
Than for to be right strong;/ and he
That may have the lordshipe of his
Owene herte is moore to preyse than he that
By his force or strengthe taketh grete citees. -- / Page 181
And therfore seith seint jame in his epistle that
-- pacience is a greet vertu of perfeccioun. -- /
Certes, quod melibee, I graunte yow,
Dame prudence, that pacience is greet vertu
Of perfeccioun;/ but every man may nat have
The perfeccioun that ye seken;/ ne I nam
Nat of the nombre of right parfite men,/
For myn herte may nevere been in pees
Unto the tyme it be venged./ And al be it so
That it was greet peril to myne enemys to do
Me a vileynye in takynge vengeance upon me,/
Yet tooken they noon heede of the peril, but
Fulfilleden hir wikked wyl and hir corage./
And therfore me thynketh men oghten nat
Repreve me, though I putte me in a litel peril
For to venge me,/ and though I do a greet
Excesse, that is to seyn, that I venge
Oon outrage by another./
A, quod dame prudence, ye seyn
Youre wyl and as yow liketh,/ but in no caas
Of the world a man sholde nat doon outrage
Ne excesse for to vengen hym./ For cassidore
Seith that -- as yvele dooth he that vengeth hym
By outrage as he that dooth the outrage. -- / and
Therfore ye shul venge yow after the ordre of
Right, that is to seyn, by the lawe, and noght
By excesse ne by outrage./ And also, if ye
Wol venge yow of the outrage of youre adversaries
in oother manere than right comandeth,
ye synne./ And therfore seith senec
That -- a man shal nevere vengen shrewednesse
by shrewednesse. -- / and if ye seye that
Right axeth a man to defenden violence by violence,
and fightyng by fightyng,/ certes ye seye
Sooth, whan the defense is doon anon withouten
intervalle or withouten tariyng or delay,/
for to deffenden hym and nat for to
Vengen hym./ And it bihoveth that a man
Putte swich attemperance in his deffense/
that men have no cause ne matiere
to repreven hym that deffendeth
Hym of excesse and outrage, for ellis were it
Agayn resoun./ Pardee, ye knowen wel that
Ye maken no deffense as now for to deffende
Yow, but for to venge yow;/ and so seweth
It that ye han no wyl to do youre dede attemprely./
and therfore me thynketh that pacience
is good; for salomon seith that -- he that
Is nat pacient shal have a greet harm. -- /
Certes, quod melibee, I graunte yow that
Whan a man is inpacient and wrooth, of that
That toucheth hym noght and that aperteneth
Nat unto hym, though it harme hym, it
Is no wonder./ For the lawe seith that
-- he is coupable that entremetteth hym or
Medleth with swych thyng as aperteneth nat
Unto hym. -- / and salomon seith that -- he that
Entremetteth hym of the noyse or strif of another
man is lyk to hym that taketh an hound
By the eris. -- / for right as he that taketh a
Straunge hound by the eris is outherwhile biten
With the hound,/ right in the same wise is it
Resoun that he have harm that by his inpacience
medleth hym of the noyse of another
Man, wheras it aperteneth nat unto hym./ But
Ye knowen wel that this dede, that is to seyn,
My grief and my disese, toucheth me
Right ny./ And therfore, though I be
Wrooth and inpacient, it is no merveille./
And, savynge youre grace, I kan nat seen that it
Myghte greetly harme me though I tooke vengeaunce./
for I am richer and moore myghty
Than myne enemys been;/ and wel knowen ye
That by moneye and by havynge grete possessions
been alle the thynges of this world governed./
and salomon seith that -- alle
Thynges abeyen to moneye. -- /
Whan prudence hadde herd hir housbonde
avanten hym of his richesse and of his
Moneye, dispreisynge the power of his adversaries,
she spak, and seyde in this wise:/
Certes, deere sire, I graunte yow that ye been
Riche and myghty,/ and that the richesses been
Goode to hem that han wel ygeten hem and wel
Konne usen hem./ For right as the body of a
Man may nat lyven withoute the soule, namoore
May it lyve withouten temporeel goodes./ And
By richesses may a man gete hym grete
Freendes./ And therfore seith pamphilles:
-- if a net -- herdes doghter, -- seith
He, -- be riche, she may chesen of a thousand
Men which she wol take to hir housbonde;/
For, of a thousand men, oon wol nat forsaken
Hire ne refusen hire. -- / and this pamphilles
Seith also: -- if thow be right happy -- that is to
Seyn, if thou be right riche -- thou shalt fynde
A greet nombre of felawes and freendes./ And
If thy fortune change that thou wexe povre,
Farewel freendshipe and felaweshipe;/ for thou
Shalt be alloone withouten any compaignye,
But if it be the compaignye of povre
Folk. -- / and yet seith this pamphilles
Moreover that -- they that been thralle and
Bonde of lynage shullen been maad worthy and
Noble by the richesses. -- / and right so as by
Richesses ther comen manye goodes, right so
By poverte come ther manye harmes and
Yveles./ For greet poverte constreyneth a man Page 182
To do manye yveles./ And therfore clepeth
Cassidore poverte the mooder of ruyne,/ that
Is to seyn, the mooder of overthrowynge
Or fallynge doun./ And therfore seith
Piers alfonce: -- oon of the gretteste adversitees
of this world is/ whan a free man by
Kynde or of burthe is constreyned by poverte
To eten the almesse of his enemy, -- / and the
Same seith innocent in oon of his bookes. He
Seith that -- sorweful and myshappy is the condicioun
of a povre beggere;/ for if he axe nat
His mete, he dyeth for hunger;/ and if he axe,
He dyeth for shame; and algates necessitee
constreyneth hym to axe. -- / and
Seith salomon that -- bet it is to dye than
For to have swich poverte. -- / and as the same
Salomon seith, -- bettre it is to dye of bitter deeth
Than for to lyven in swich wise. -- / by thise
Resons that I have seid unto yow, and by manye
Othere resons that I koude seye,/ I graunte yow
That richesses been goode to hem that geten
Hem wel, and to hem that wel usen tho richesses./
and therfore wol I shewe yow hou ye
Shul have yow and how ye shul bere yow in
Gaderynge of richesses, and in what
Manere ye shul usen hem./
First, ye shul geten hem withouten
Greet desir, by good leyser, sokyngly and nat
Over-hastily./ For a man that is to desirynge
To gete richesses abaundoneth hym first to
Thefte, and to alle othere yveles;/ and therfore
seith salomon, -- he that hasteth hym to
Bisily to wexe riche shal be noon innocent. -- /
He seith also that -- the richesses that hastily cometh
to a man, soone and lightly gooth and
Passeth fro a man;/ but that richesse that
Cometh litel and litel, wexeth alwey and
Multiplieth. -- / and, sire
Richesses by youre wit and by youre
Travaille unto youre profit;/ and that withouten
Wrong or hamr doynge to any oother persone./
For tha lawe seith that -- ther maketh no man
Himselven riche, if he do harm to another
Wight. -- / this is to seyn, htat nature deffendeth
and fordedeth by right that no man make
Hymself riche unto the harm of another persone./
and tulliur seith that -- no sorwe, ne no
Drede of deeth, ne no thyng that may
Falle unto a man,/ is so muchel agayns
Nature as a man to encressen his owene
Profit to the harm of another man./ And
Though the grete man and the myghty men
Geten richesses moore lightly than thou, / yet
Shaltou nat been ydel ne slow to do thy profit,
For thou shalt in alle wise flee ydelnesse. -- / for
Salomon seith that -- ydelnesse techeth a man to
Do manye yveles. -- / and the same salomon
Seith that -- he that travailleth and bisieth
Hym to tilien his land, shal eten breed;/
But he that is ydel and casteth hym to
No bisynesse ne occupacioun, shal falle into
Poverte, and dye for hynger. -- / and he that is
Ydel and slow kan nevere fynde covenable
Tyme for to doon his profit./ For ther is a
Versifiour seith that -- the ydel man excuseth hym
In wynter by cause of the grete coold, and in
Somer by enchesoun of the greete heete. -- / for
Thise causes seith caton, -- waketh and enclyneth
nat yow over -- muchel for to slepe, for overmuchel
reste norisseth and causeth manye
Vices. -- / and therfore seith seint jerome,
-- dooth somme goode dedes that the devel,
Which is oure enemy, ne fynde yow nat
Unocupied. -- / for the devel ne taketh
Nat lightly unto his werkynge swiche as
He fyndeth occupied in goode werkes./
Thanne thus, in getynge richesses, ye mosten
Flee ydelnesse./ And afterward, ye shul use
The richesses which ye have geten by youre wit
And by youre travaille,/ in swich a manere that
Men holde yow nat to scars, ne to sparynge, ne
To fool-large, that is to seyen, over-large a
Spendere./ For right as men blamen an avaricious
man by cause of his scarsetee and
Chyncherie,/ in the same wise is he to
Blame that spendeth over-largely./ And
Therfore seith caton: -- use, -- he seith, -- thy richesses
that thou hast geten/ in swich a manere
That men have no matiere ne cause to calle
The neither wrecche ne chynche;/ for it is a
Greet shame to a man to have a povere herte
And a riche purs. -- / he seith also: -- the goodes
That thou hast ygeten, use hem by mesure, --
That is to seyn, spende hem mesurably;/
for they that folily wasten and
Despenden the goodes that they han,/
What they han namoore propre of hir owene,
They shapen hem to take the goodes of another
Man./ I seye thanne that ye shul fleen avarice;/
usynge youre richesses in swich manere
That men seye nat that youre richesses been
Yburyed,/ but that ye have hem in
Youre myght and in youre weeldynge./
For a wys man repreveth the avaricious
Man, and seith thus in two vers:/ -- wherto and
Why burieth a man his goodes by his grete
Avarice, and knoweth wel that nedes moste
He dye?/ for deeth is the ende of every man Page 183
As in this present lyf. -- / and for what cause or
Enchesoun joyneth he hym or knytteth he hym
So faste unto his goodes/ that alle hise wittes
Mowen nat disseveren hym or departen
Hym from his goodes,/ and knoweth
Wel, or oghte knowe, that whan he is
Deed he shal no thyng bere with hym out of
This world?/ and therfore seith seint austyn
That -- the avaricious man is likned unto helle,/
That the moore it swelweth. The moore desir it
Hath to swelwe and devoure. -- / and as wel as
Ye wolde eschewe to be called an avaricious
Man or chynche,/ as wel sholde ye kepe yow
And governe yow in swich a wise that
Men calle yow nat fool-large./ Therfore
seith tullius: -- the goodes, -- he seith,
-- of thyn hous ne sholde nat been hyd ne kept
So cloos, but that they myghte been opened
By pitee and debonairetee; -- / that is to seyn, to
Yeven part to hem that han greet nede;/ -- ne
Thy goodes shullen nat been so opene to been
Every mannes goodes. -- / afterward, in getynge
Of youre richesses and in usynge hem, ye shul
Alwey have thre thynges in youre herte,/ that
Is to seyn, oure lord god, conscience,
And good name./ First, ye shul have
God in youre herte,/ and for no richesse
Ye shullen do no thyng which may in any
Manere displese god, that is youre creator
And makere./ For after the word of salomon,
-- it is bettre to have a litel good with the love
Of god,/ than to have muchel good and tresour,
and lese the love of his lord god./ And
The prophete seith that -- bettre it is to been
A good man and have litel good and
Tresour,/ than to been holden a shrewe
And have grete richesses. -- / and yet seye
I ferthermoore, that ye sholde alwey doon youre
Bisynesse to gete yow richesses,/ so that ye
Gete hem with good conscience./ And th' apostle
seith that -- ther nys thyng in this world
Of which we sholden have so greet joye as
Whan oure conscience bereth us good witnesse.
-- / and the wise man seith, -- the substance
of a man is ful good, whan synne
Is nat in mannes conscience. -- / afterward,
in getynge of youre richesses and
In usynge of hem,/ yow moste have greet bisynesse
and greet diligence that youre goode
Name be alwey kept and conserved./ For salomon
seith that -- bettre it is an moore it availleth
a man to have a good name, than for
To have grete richesses. -- / and therfore he
Seith in another place, -- do greet diligence,
Seith salomon, -- in kepyng of thy freend and
Of thy goode name;/ for it shal lenger abide
With thee than any tresour, be it never
So precious. -- / and certes he sholde nat
Be called a gentil man that after god
And good conscience, alle thynges left, ne
Dooth his diligence and bisynesse to kepen his
Goode name./ And cassidore seith that -- it is
Signe of a gentil herte, whan a man loveth and
Desireth to han a good name. -- / and therfore
Seith seint austyn that -- ther been two thynges
That arn necessarie and nedefulle,/ and that
Is good conscience and good loos;/ that is to
Seyn, good conscience to thyn owene persone
Inward, and good loos for thy neighebor
Outward. -- / and he that trusteth hym so
Muchel in his goode conscience/ that he
Displeseth, and setteth at noght his goode
Name or loos, and rekketh noght though he
Kepe nat his goode neam, nys but a crueel
Sire, now have I shewed yow how ye shul
Do in getynge richesses, and how ye shullen
Usen hem,/ and I se wel that for the trust
That ye han in youre richesses ye wole moeve
Werre and bataille./ I conseille yow that ye
Bigynne no were in trust of youre richesses,
For thay ne suffisen noght werres to
Mayntene./ And therfore seith a philosophre,
hthat man that desireth and
Wole algates han werre, shal nevere have suffisaunce;/
for the richer that he is, the gretter
Despenses moste he make, if he wole have worshipe
and victorei. -- / and salomon seith that
-- the gretter richesses that a man hath, the mo
Despendours he hath. -- / and, deere sire, al be
It so that for youre richesses ye mowe have
Muchel folk,/ yet bihoveth it nat, ne it is nat
Good, to bigynne werre, whereas ye mowe in
Oother manere have pees unto youre
Worshipe and profit./ For the victorie
Of batailles that been in this world lyth
Nat in greet nombre or multitude of the peple,
Ne in the vertu of man,/ but it lith in the wyl
And in the hand of oure lord God almyghty./
And therfore judas machabeus, which was
Goddes knyght,/ whan he sholde fighte agayn
His adversarie that hadde a gretter nombre and
A gretter multitude of folk and strenger than
Was this peple of machabee,/ yet he reconforted
his litel compaignye, and seyde
Right in this wise:/ -- als lightly, -- quod
He, -- may oure lord God almyghty yeve
Victorie to a fewe folk as to many folk;/ for the Page 184
Victorie of a bataile comth nat by the grete
Nombre of peple,/ but it cometh from oure
Lord God of hevene. -- / and, deere sire, for as
Muchel is ther is no man certein if he be
Worthy that God yeve hym victorie, (ne plus
Que il est certain se il est digne de l' amour de
Dieu), or naught, after that salomon seith,/
Therfore every man sholde greetly drede
Werres to bigynne./ And by cause that
In batailles fallen manye perils,/ and
Happeth outher while that as soone is the grete
Man slayn as the litel man;/ and as it is writen
In the seconde book of kynges, -- the dedes of
Batailles been aventurouse and nothyng certeyne,/
for as lightly is oon hurt with a spere
As another; -- / and for ther is gret peril in
Werre; therfore sholde a man flee and eschue
Werre, in as muchel as a man may
Goodly./ For salomon seith, -- he that
Loveth peril shal falle in peril -- /
After that dame prudence hadde spoken in
This manere, melibee answerde, and seyde:/
I see wel, dame prudence, that by youre faire
Wordes, and by youre resouns that ye han
Shewed me, that the werre liketh yow no
Thyng;/ but I have nat yet herd youre conseil,
How I shal do in this nede./
Certes, quod she, I conseille yow that ye
Accorde with youre adversaries and that
Ye have pees with he./ For seint jame
Seith in his epistles that -- by concord and
Pees the smale richesses wexen grete,/ and by
Debaat and discord the grete richesses fallen
Doun. -- / and ye knowen wel that oon of the
Gretteste and moost sovereyn thyng that is in
This world is unytee and pees./ And therfore
Seyde oure lord jhesu crist to his apostles in
This wise:/ -- wel happy and blessed been they
That loven and purchacen pees, for they
Been called children of god. -- /
A, quod melibee, now se I wel that
Ye loven nat myn honour ne my worshipe./
Ye knowen wel that myne adversaries han
Bigonnen this debaat and bryge by hire outrage,/
and ye se wel that they ne requeren ne
Preyen me nat of pees, ne they asken nat to be
Reconsiled./ Wol ye thanne that I go and meke
Me and obeye me to hem, and crie hem
Mercy?/ for sothe, that were nat my
Worshipe./ For right as men seyn that
-- over-greet hoomlynesse engendreth dispreisynge,
-- so fareth it by to greet hymylitee
Thanne bigan dame prudence to maken
Semblant of wratthe, and seyde:/ certes, sire,
Sauf youre grace, I love youre honour and youre
Profit as I do myn owene, and evere have
Doon;/ ne ye, ne noon oother, seyn nevere
The contrarie./ And yit if I hadde seyd that
Ye sholde han purchaced the pees and the
Reconsilacioun, I ne hadde nat muchel
Mystaken me, ne seyd amys./ For the
Wise man seith, -- the dissensioun bigynneth
by another man, and the reconsilyng bygynneth
by thyself. -- / and the prophete seith,
-- flee shrewednesse and do goodnesse;/ seke
Pees and folwe it, as muchel as in thee is. -- /
Yet seye I nat that ye shul rather pursue to
Youre adversaries for pees than they shuln to
Yow./ For I knowe wel that ye been so hard-
Herted that ye wol do no thyng for
Me./ And salomon seith, -- he that hath
Over-hard an herte, atte laste he shal
Myshappe and mystyde. -- /
Whanne melibee hadde herd dame prudence
Maken semblant of wratthe, he seyde in this
Wise:/ dame, I prey yow that ye be nat displesed
of thynges that I seye,/ for ye knowe
Wel that I am angrey and wrooth, and that is
No wonder;/ and they that been wrothe witen
Nat wel what they don, ne what they
Seyn./ Therfore the prophete seith that
-- troubled eyen han no cleer sighte. -- / but
Seyeth and conseileth me as yow liketh, for I
Am redy to do right as ye wol desire;/ and if
Ye repreve me of my folye, I am the moore
Holden to love yow and to preyse yow./ For
Salomon seith that -- he that repreveth hym
That dooth folye,/ he shal fynde gretter grace
Than he that deceyveth hym by sweete
Wordes. -- /
Thanne seide dame prudence, I
Make no semblant of wratthe ne anger, but
For youre grete profit./ For salomon seith,
-- he is moore worth that repreveth or chideth
A fool for his folye, shewynge hym semblant
Of wratthe,/than he that supporteth hym and
Preyseth hym in his mysdoynge, and laugheth
At his folye. -- / and this same salomon seith
Afterward that -- by the sorweful visage of a
Man, -- that is to seyn by the sory and hevy contenaunce
of a man,/ -- the fool correcteth
And amendeth hymself. -- /
Thanne seyde melibee, I shal nat
Koone answere to so manye faire resouns as ye
Putten to me and shewen./ Seyeth shorthly
Youre wyl and youre conseil, and I am al redy
To fulfille and parfourne it./ Page 185
Thanne dame prudence discovered al hir
Wyl to hym, and seyde,/ I conseille yow,
Quod she, aboven alle thynges, that ye make
Pees bitwene God and yow;/ and beth
Reconsiled unto hym and to his grace./
For, as I have seyd yow heer biforn, god
Hath suffred yow to have this tribulacioun and
Disese for youre synnes./ And if ye do as I sey
Yow, God wol sende youre adversaries unto
Yow,/ and maken hem fallen at youre feet,
Redy to do youre wyl and youre comande --
Mentz./ For salomon seith, -- whan the condicioun
of man is plesaunt and likynge to god,/
He chaungeth the hertes of the mannes adversaries
and constreyneth hem to biseken
hym of pees and of grace. -- / and
I prey yow lat me speke with youre adversaries
in privee place;/ for they shul nat
Knowe that it be of youre wyl or of youre adsent./
and thanne, whan I knowe hir wil and
Hire entente, I may conseille yow the moore
Dame, quod melibee, dooth youre wil and
Youre likynge;/ for I putte me hoolly in
Youre disposicioun and ordinaunce./
Thanne dame prudence, whan she
Saugh the goode wyl of hir housbonde, delibered
and took avys in hirself,/ thinkinge how
She myghte brynge this nede unto a good conclusioun
and to a good ende./ And whan she
Saugh hir tyme, she sente for thise adversaries
To come unto hire into a pryvee place,/ and
Shewed wisely unto hem the grete goodes that
Comen of pees,/ and the grete harmes
And perils that been in werre;/ and
Seyde to hem in a goodly manere hou
That hem oughten have greet repentaunce/ of
The injurie and wrong that they hadden doon
To melibee hir lord, and unto hire, and to hire
And whan they herden the goodliche wordes
Of dame prudence,/ they weren so supprised
And ravysshed, and hadden so greet joye of
Hire that wonder was to telle./ A, lady, quod
They, ye han shewed unto us the blessynge
Of swetnesse, after the sawe of david the
Prophete;/ for the reconsilynge which
We been nat worthy to have in no manere,/
but we oghte requeren it with greet contricioun
and humylitee,/ ye of youre grete
Goodnesse have presented unto us./ Now se
We wel that the science and the konnynge
Of salomon is ful trewe./ For he seith that
-- sweete wordes multiplien and encreescen
Freendes, and maken shrewes to be debonaire
and meeke. -- /
Certes, quod they, we putten oure
Dede and al oure matere and cause al hooly in
Youre goode wyl/ and been redy to obeye to
The speche and comandement of my lord melibee./
and therfore, deere and benygne lady,
We preien yow and biseke yow as mekely as we
Konne and mowen,/ that it lyke unto youre
Grete goodnesse to fulfillen in dede youre goodliche
wordes./ For we consideren and knowelichen
that we han offended and greved
My lord melibee out of mesure,/ so ferforth
that we be nat of power to maken
His amendes./ And therfore we oblige and
Bynden us and oure freendes for to doon al
His wyl and his comandementz./ But peraventure
he hath swich hevynesse and swich wratthe
To us -- ward, by cause of oure offense,/ that he
Wole enjoyne us swich a peyne as we mowe
Nat bere ne susteene./ And therfore, noble
Lady, we biseke to youre wommanly
Pitee/ to taken swich avysement in this
Nede that we, ne oure freendes, be nat
Desherited ne destroyed thurgh oure folye./
Certes, quod prudence, it is an hard
Thyng and right perilous/ that a man putte
Hym al outrely in the arbitracioun and juggement,
and in the myght and power of his enemys./
for salomon seith, -- leeveth me, and
Yeveth credence to that I shal seyn: I seye, --
Quod he, -- ye peple, folk and governours of
Hooly chirche,/ to thy sone, to thy wyf,
To thy freend, ne to thy broother,/ ne
Yeve thou nevere myght ne maistrie of
Thy body whil thou lyvest. -- / now sithen he
Deffendeth that man sholde nat yeven to his
Broother ne to his freend the myght of his
Body,/ by a strenger resoun he deffendeth and
Forbedeth a man to yeven hymself to his enemy./
and nathelees I conseille you that ye
Mystruste nat my lord,/ for I woot wel and
Knowe verraily that he is debonaire and
Meeke, large, curteys,/ and nothyng desirous
ne coveitous of good ne richesse./
For ther nys nothyng in this world that he
Desireth, save oonly worshipe and honour./
Forthermoore I knowe wel and am right seur
That he shal nothyng doon in this nede withouten
my conseil;/ and I shal so werken in this
Cause that, by the grace of oure lord god, ye
Shul been reconsiled unto us./
Thanne seyden they with o voys, worshipful
lady, we putten us and oure goodes Page 186
Al fully in youre wil and disposicioun,/
And been redy to comen, what day that
It like unto youre noblesse to lymyte us or assigne
us,/ for to maken oure obligacioun and
Boond as strong as it liketh unto youre goodnesse,/
that we mowe fulfille the wille of yow
And of my lord melibee./
Whan dame prudence hadde herd the answeres
of thise men, she bad hem goon agayn
Prively;/ and she retourned to hir lord melibee,
and tolde hym how she foond his
Adversaries ful repentant,/ knowelechynge
ful lowely hir synnes and trespas,
And how they were redy to suffren al peyne,/
Requirynge and preiynge hym of mercy and
Thanne seyde melibee: he is wel worthy
To have pardoun and foryifnesse of his synne.
That excuseth nat his synne,/ but knowelecheth
It and repenteth hym, axinge indulgence./ For
Senec seith, ther is the remissioun and
Foryifnesse, where as the confessioun is -- ;/
For confessioun is neighebor to innocence./
and he seith in another place that -- he
That hath shame of his synne and knowlecheth
It, is worthy remissioun. -- and therfore I assente
and conferme me to have pees;/ but it
Is good that we do it nat withouten the assent
And wyl of oure freendes./
Thanne was prudence right glad and joyeful,
and seyde:/ certes, sire, quod
She, ye han wel and goodly answered;/
For right as by the conseil, assent, and
Help of youre freendes ye han been stired to
Venge yow and maken werre,/ right so withouten
hire conseil shul ye nat accorden yow
Ne have pees with youre adversaries./ For the
Lawe seith: -- ther nys no thyng so good by wey
Of kynde as a thyng to be unbounde by hym
That it was ybounde. -- /
And thanne dame prudence, withouten delay
or tariynge, sente anon hire messages for
Hire kyn, and for hire olde freendes which
That were trewe and wyse,/ and tolde hem
By ordre in the presence of melibee al this mateere
as it is aboven expressed and declared,/
and preyden hem that they
Wolde yeven hire avys and conseil what
Best were to doon in this nede./ And whan
Melibees freendes hadde taken hire avys and
Deliberacioun of the forseide mateere,/ and
Hadden examyned it by greet bisynesse and
Greet diligence,/ they yave ful conseil for to
Have pees and reste,/ and that melibee sholde
Receyve with good herte his adversaries
To foryifnesse and mercy./
And whan dame prudence hadde herd
The assent of hir lord melibee, and the conseil
of his freendes/ accorde with hire wille
And hire entencioun,/ she was wonderly glad
In hire herte, and seyde:/ ther is an old
Proverbe, quod she, seith that -- the goodnesse
that thou mayst do this day, do it,/
And abide nat ne delaye it nat til tomorwe.
-- / and therfore I conseille that
Ye sende youre messages, swiche as been
Discrete and wise,/ unto youre adversaries,
Tellynge hem on youre bihalve/ that if they
Wole trete of pees and of accord,/ that they
Shape hem withouten delay or tariyng to comen
Unto us./ Which thyng parfourned was
In dede./ And whanne thise trespassours
and repentynge folk of hire folies,
That is to seyn, the adversaries of melibee,/
Hadden herd what thise messagers seyden unto
Hem,/ they weren right glad and joyeful, and
Answereden ful mekely and benignely,/ yeldynge
graces and thankynges to hir lord melibee
and to al his compaignye;/ and shopen
Hem withouten delay to go with the messagers,
And obeye to the comandement of hir
And right anon they tooken hire wey
To the court of melibee,/ and tooken with hem
Somme of hire trewe freendes to maken feith
For hem and for to been hire borwes./ And
Whan they were comen to the presence of
Melibee, he seyde hem thise wordes:/ it standeth
thus, quod melibee, and sooth it is, that
Ye,/ causelees and withouten skile and
Resoun,/ han doon grete injuries and
Wronges to me and to my wyf prudence,
And to my doghter also./ For ye han entred
Into myn hous by violence,/ and have doon
Swich outrage that alle men knowen wel that
Ye have disserved the deeth./ And therfore
Wol I knowe and wite of yow/ wheither ye
Wol putte the punyssement and the chastisynge
And the vengeance of this outrage in the wyl
Of me and of my wyf prudence, or ye
Thanne the wiseste of hem thre answerde
for hem alle, and seyde,/ sire, quod
He, we knowen wel that we been unworthy
To comen unto the court of so greet a lord and
So worthy as ye been./ For we han so greetly
Mystaken us, and han offended and agilt in
Swich a wise agayn youre heigh lordshipe,/ Page 187
That trewely we han disserved the deeth./ But
Yet, for the grete goodnesse and debonairetee
That al the world witnesseth of youre
Persone,/ we submytten us to the excellence
and benignitee of youre gracious
Lordshipe,/ and been redy to obeie to alle youre
Comandementz;/ bisekynge yow that of youre
Merciable pitee ye wol considere oure grete
Repentaunce and lowe submyssioun,/ and
Graunten us foryevenesse of oure outrageous
Trespas and offense./ For wel we knowe that
Youre liberal grace and mercy strecchen hem
Ferther into goodnesse than doon oure outrageouse
giltes and trespas into wikkednesse,/
al be it that cursedly and
Dampnablely we han agilt agayn youre
Thanne melibee took hem up fro the ground
Ful benignely,/ and receyved hire obligaciouns
And hir boondes by hire othes upon hire plegges
And borwes,/ and assigned hem a certeyn day
To retourne unto his court,/ for to accepte and
Receyve the sentence and juggement that
Melibee wolde comande to be doon on
Hem by the causes aforeseyd./ Whiche
Thynges ordeyned, every man retourned
To his hous./
And whan that dame prudence saugh hir
Tyme, she freyned and axed hir lord melibee/
What vengeance he thoughte to taken of his
To which melibee answerde, and seyde:
Certes, quod he, I thynke and purpose me
Fully / to desherite hem of al that evere they
Han, and for to putte hem in exil for
Certes, quod dame prudence, this
Were a crueel sentence and muchel agayn resoun./
for ye been riche ynough, and han
No nede of oother mennes good;/ and ye
Myghte lightly in this wise gete yow a coveitous
name,/ which is a vicious thyng, and
Oghte been eschued of every good man./ For
After the sawe of the word of the apostle,
-- coveitise is roote of alle harmes. -- /
And therfore it were bettre for yow to
Lese so muchel good of youre owene, than for
To taken of hir good in this manere;/ for bettre
it is to lesen good with worshipe, than it
Is to wynne good with vileynye and shame./
And everi man oghte to doon his diligence and
His bisynesse to geten hym a good name./
And yet shal he nat oonly bisie hym in kepynge
of his good name,/ but he shal also enforcen
hym alwey to do somthyng by
Which he may renovelle his good name./
For it is writen that -- the olde good loos
Or good name of a man is soone goon and
Passed, whan it is nat newed ne renovelled. -- /
And as touchynge that ye seyn ye wole exile
Youre adversaries,/ that thynketh me muchel
Agayn resoun and out of mesure,/ considered
The power that they han yeve yow upon hemself./
and it is writen that -- he is worthy
To lesen his privilege, that mysuseth the
Myght and the power that is yeven
Hym. -- / and I sette cas ye myghte enjoyne
hem that peyne by right and by
Lawe,// which I trowe ye mowe nat do,/ I seye
Ye mighte nat putten it to execucioun peraventure,/
and thanne were it likly to retourne
To the werre as it was biforn./ And therfore,
If ye wole that men do yow obeisance,
Ye moste deemen moore curteisly;/ this
Is to seyn, ye moste yeven moore esy sentences
and juggementz./ For it is writen that
-- he that moost curteisly comandeth, to hym
Men moost obeyen. -- / and therfore I prey yow
That in this necessitee and in this nede ye caste
Yow to overcome youre herte./ For senec seith
That -- he that overcometh his herte, overcometh
Twies. -- / and tullius seith: -- ther is no
Thyng so comendable in a greet lord/ as
Whan he is debonaire and meeke, and
Appeseth him lightly. -- / and I prey yow that ye
Wole forbere now to do vengeance,/ in swich
A manere that youre goode name may be kept
And conserved,/ and that men mowe have
Cause and mateere to preyse yow of pitee and
Of mercy,/ and that ye have no cause to
Repente yow of thyng that ye doon./
For senec seith, -- he overcometh in an
Yvel manere that repenteth hym of his victorie.
-- / wherfore I pray yow, lat mercy been in
Youre herte,/ to th' effect and entente that
God almighty have mercy on yow in his laste
Juggement./ For seint jame seith in his epistle:
-- juggement withouten mercy shal be doon
To hym that hath no mercy of another wight. -- /
Whanne melibee hadde herd the grete skiles
And resouns of dame prudence, and hire
Wise informaciouns and techynges,/ his
Herte gan enclyne to the wil of his wif,
Considerynge hir trewe entente,/ and conformed
hym anon, and assented fully to werken
After hir conseil;/ and thonked god, of whom
Procedeth al vertu and alle goodnesse, that
Hym sente a wyf of so greet discrecioun./ And Page 188
Whan the day cam that his adversaries sholde
Appieren in his presence,/ he spak unto
Hem ful goodly, and seyde in this wyse:/
Al be it so that of youre pride and heigh
Presumpcioun and folie, and of youre necligence
and unkonnynge,/ ye have mysborn yow
And trespassed unto me,/ yet for as muche as
I see and biholde youre grete humylitee,/ and
That ye been sory and repentant of youre
Giltes,/ it constreyneth me to doon yow
Grace and mercy./ Wherfore I receyve
Yow to my grace,/ and foryeve yow outrely
alle the offenses, injuries, and wronges that
Ye have doon agayn me and myne,/ to this
Effect and to this ende that God of his endelees
mercy/ wole at the tyme of oure diynge
Foryeven us oure giltes that we han trespassed
To hym in this wrecched world./ For doutelees,
if we be sory and repentant of the synnes
And giltes which we han trespassed in
The sighte of oure lord god,/ he is so
Free and so merciable/ that he wole foryeven
us oure giltes,/ and bryngen us to the
Blisse that nevere hath ende. Amen.
The Monk's Prologue
Whan ended was my tale of melibee,
And of prudence and hire benignytee,
Oure hooste seyde, as I am feithful man,
And by that precious corpus madrian,
I hadde levere than a barel ale
That goodelief, my wyf, hadde herd this tale!
For she nys no thyng of swich pacience
As was this melibeus wyf prudence.
By goddes bones! whan I bete my knaves,
She bryngeth me forth the grete clobbed staves,
And crieth, -- slee the dogges everichoon,
And brek hem, bothe bak and every boon! --
And if that any neighebor of myne
Wol nat in chirche to my wyf enclyne,
Or be so hardy to hire to trespace,
Whan she comth hoom she rampeth in my face,
And crieth, -- false coward, wrek thy wyf!
By corpus bones, I wol have thy knyf,
And thou shalt have my distaf and go spynne! --
Fro day to nyght right thus she wol bigynne.
-- allas! -- she seith, -- that evere I was shape
To wedden a milksop, or a coward ape,
That wol been overlad with every wight!
Thou darst nat stonden by thy wyves right! --
This is my lif, but if that I wol fighte;
And out at dore anon I moot me dighte,
Or elles I am but lost, but if that I
Be lik a wilde leoun, fool-hardy.
I woot wel she wol do me slee som day
Som neighebor, and thanne go my way;
For I am perilous with knyf in honde,
Al be it that I dar nat hire withstonde,
For she is byg in armes, by my feith:
That shal he fynde that hire mysdooth or seith, --
But lat us passe awey fro this mateere.
My lord, the monk, quod he, by myrie of cheere,
For ye shul telle a tale trewely.
Loo, rouchestre stant heer faste by!
Ryde forth, myn owene lord, brek nat oure game.
But, by my trouthe, I knowe nat youre name.
Wher shal I calle yow my lord daun john,
Or daun thomas, or elles daun albon?
Of what hous be ye, by youre fader kyn?
I vowe to god, thou hast a ful fair skyn;
It is a gentil pasture ther thow goost.
Thou art nat lyk a penant or a goost:
Upon my feith, thou art som officer,
Som worthy sexteyn, or som celerer,
For by my fader soule, as to my doom,
Thou art a maister whan thou art at hoom;
No povre cloysterer, ne no novts,
But a governour, wily and wys,
And therwithal of brawnes and of bones,
A wel farynge persone for the nones.
I pray to god, yeve hym confusioun
That first thee broghte unto religioun!
Thou woldest han been a tredefowel aright. Page 189
Haddestow as greet a leeve, as thou hast myght,
To parfourne al thy lust in engendrure,
Thou haddest bigeten ful many a creature.
Allas, why werestow so wyd a cope?
God yeve me sorwe, but, and I were a pope,
Nat oonly thou, but every myghty man,
Though he were shorn ful hye upon his pan,
Sholde have a wyf; for al the world is lorn!
Religioun hath take up al the corn
Of tredyng, and we borel men been shrympes.
Of fieble trees ther comen wrecched ympes.
This maketh that oure heires been so sklendre
And feble that they may nat wel engendre.
This maketh that oure wyves wole assaye
Religious folk, for ye mowe bettre paye
Of venus peiementz than mowe we;
God woot, no lussheburghes payen ye!
But be nat wrooth, my lord, though that I pleye.
Ful ofte in game a sooth I have herd seye!
This worthy monk took al in pacience,
And seyde, I wol doon al my diligence,
As fer as sowneth into honestee,
To telle yow a tale, or two, or three.
And if yow list to herkne hyderward,
I wol yow seyn the lyf of seint edward;
Or ellis, first, tragedies wol I telle,
Of whiche I have an hundred in my celle.
Tragedie is to seyn a certeyn storei,
As olde bookes maken us memorie,
Of hym that stood in greet prosperitee,
And is yfallen out of heigh degree
Into myserie, and endeth wrecchedly.
And they ben versified communely
Of six feet, which men clepen exametrron.
In prose eek been endited many oon,
And eek in meetre, in many a sondry wyse.
Lo, this declaryng oghte ynogh suffise.
Now herkneth, if yow liketh for to heere.
But first I yow biseeke in this mateere,
Though I by ordre telle nat thise thynges,
Be it of popes, emperours, or kynges,
After hir ages, as men writen fynde,
But tellen hem som bifore and som bihynde,
As it now comth unto my remembraunce,
Have me excused of myn ignoraunce.
The Monk's Tale
I wol biwaille, in manere of tragedie,
The harm of hem that stoode in heigh degree,
And fillen so that ther nas no remedie
To brynge hem out of hir adversitee.
For certein, whan that fortune list to flee,
Ther may no man the cours of hire withholde.
Lat no man truste on blynd prosperitee;
Be war by thise ensamples trewe and olde.
At lucifer, though he an angel were,
And nat a man, at hym wol I bigynne.
For though fortune may noon angel dere,
From heigh degree yet fel he for his synne
Doun into helle, where he yet is inne.
O lucifer, brightest of angels alle,
Now artow sathanas, that mayst nat twynne
Out of miserie, in which that thou art falle.
Loo adam, in the feeld of damyssene,
With goddes owene fynger wroght was he,
And nat bigeten of mannes sperme unclene,
And welte al paradys savynge o tree.
Hadde nevere worldly man so heigh degree
As adam, til he for mysgovernaunce
Was dryven out of hys hye prosperitee
To labour, and to helle, and to meschaunce.
Loo sampsoun, which that was annunciat
By th' angel, longe er his nativitee,
And was to God almyghty consecrat,
And stood in noblesse whil he myghte see.
Was nevere swich another as was hee,
To speke of strengthe, and threwith hardynesse; Page 190
But to his wyves toolde he his secree,
Thurgh which he slow hymself for wrecchednesse.
Sampsoun, this noble almyghty champioun,
Withouten wepen, save his handes tweye,
He slow and al torente the leoun,
Toward his weddyng walkynge by the weye.
His false wyf koude hym so plese and preye
Til she his conseil knew; and she, untrewe,
Unto his foos his conseil gan biwreye,
And hym forsook, and took another newe.
Thre hundred foxes took sampson for ire,
And alle hir tayles he togydre bond,
And sette the foxes tayles alle on fire,
For he on every tayl had knyt a brond;
And they brende alle the cornes in that lond,
And alle hire olyveres, and vynes eke.
A thousand men he slow eek with his hond,
And hadde no wepen but an asses cheke.
Whan they were slayn, so thursted hym that he
Was wel ny lorn, for which he gan to preye
That God wolde on his peyne han some pitee,
And sende hym drynke, or elles moste he deye;
And of this asses cheke, that was dreye,
Out of a wang-tooth sprang anon a welle,
Of which he drank ynogh, shortly to seye;
Thus heelp hym god, as judicum telle.
By verray force at gazan, on a nyght,
Maugree philistiens of that citee,
The gates of the toun he hath up plyght,
And on his bak ycaryed hem hath hee
Hye on an hill whereas men myghte hem see.
O noble, almyghty sampsoun, lief and deere,
Had thou nat toold to wommen thy secree,
In al this world ne hadde been thy peere!
This sampson nevere ciser drank ne wyn,
Ne on his heed cam rasour noon ne sheere,
By precept of the messager divyn,
For alle his strengthes in his heeres weere.
And fully twenty wynter, yeer by yeere,
He hadde of israel the governaunce.
But soone shal he wepe many a teere,
For wommen shal hym bryngen to meschaunce!
Unto his lemman dalida he tolde
That in his heeris al his strengthe lay,
And falsly to his foomen she hym solde.
And slepynge in hir barm, upon a day,
She made to clippe or shere his heres away,
And made his foomen al his craft espyen;
And whan that they hym foond in this array,
They bounde hym faste and putten out his yen.
But er his heere were clipped or yshave,
Ther was no boond with which men myghte him bynde;
But now is he in prison in a cave,
Were-as they made hym at the queerne grynde.
O noble sampsoun, strongest of mankynde,
O whilom juge, in glorie and in richesse!
Now maystow wepen with thyne eyen blynde,
Sith thou fro wele art falle in wrecchednesse.
The ende of this caytyf was as I shal seye.
His foomen made a feeste upon a day,
And made hym as hire fool biforn hem pleye;
And this was in a temple of greet array.
But atte laste he made a foul affray;
For he two pilers shook and made hem falle,
And doun fil temple and al, and ther it lay, --
And slow hymself, and eek his foomen alle.
This is to seyn, the prynces everichoon,
And eek thre thousand bodyes, were ther slayn
With fallynge of the grete temple of stoon.
Of sampson now wol I namoore sayn.
Beth war by this ensample oold and playn
That nomen telle hir conseil til hir wyves
Of swich thyng as they wolde han secree fayn,
If that it touche hir lymes or hir lyves.
Of hercules, the sovereyn conquerour,
Syngen his werkes laude and heigh renoun;
For in his tyme of strengthe he was the flour.
He slow, and frate the skyn of the leoun;
He of centauros leyde the boost adoun;
He arpies slow, the crueel bryddes felle;
He golden apples rafte of the dragoun;
He drow out cerberus, the hound of helle;
He slow the crueel tyrant busirus,
And made his hors to frete hem, flessh and boon;
He slow the firy serpent venymus;
Of acheloys two hornes he brak oon;
And he slow cacus in a cave of stoon;
He slow the geant antheus the stronge; Page 191
He slow the grisly boor, and that anon;
And bar the hevene on his nekke longe.
Was nevere wight, sith that this world bigan,
That slow so manye monstres as dide he.
Thurghout this wyde world his name ran,
What for his strengthe and for his heigh bountee,
And every reawme wente he for to see.
He was so stoong that no man myghte hym lette.
At bothe the worldes endes, seith trophee,
In stide of boundes he a pileer sette.
A lemman hadde this noble champioun,
That highte dianira, fressh as may;
And as thise clerkes maken mencioun,
She hath hym sent a sherte, fressh and gay.
Allas! this sherte, allas and weylaway!
Envenymed was so subtilly withalle,
That er that he had wered it half a day,
It made his flessh al from his bones falle.
But nathelees somme clerkes hire excusen
By oon that highte nessus, that it maked.
Be as be may, I wol hire noght accusen;
But on his bak this sherte he wered naked,
Til that his flessh was for the venym blaked.
And whan he saugh noon oother remedye,
In hoote coles he hath hymselven raked,
For with no venym deigned hym to dye.
Thus starf this worthy, myghty hercules.
Lo, who may truste on fortune and throwe?
For hym that folweth al this world of prees,
Er he be war, is ofte yleyd ful lowe.
Ful wys is he that kan hymselven knowe!
Beth war, for whan that fortune list to glose,
Thanne wayteth she her man to overthrowe
By swich a wey as he wolde leest suppose.
The myghty trone, the precious tresor,
The glorious ceptre, and roial magestee
That hadde the kyng nabugodonosor
With tonge unnethe may discryved bee.
He twyes wan jerusalem the citee;
The vessel of the temple he with hym ladde.
At babiloigne was his sovereyn see,
In which his glorie and his delit he hadde.
The faireste children of the blood roial
Of israel he leet do gelde anoon,
And maked ech of hem to been his thral.
Amonges othere daniel was oon,
That was the wiseste child of everychon;
For he the dremes of the kyng expowned,
Whereas in chaldeye clerk ne was ther noon
That wiste to what fyn his dremes sowned.
This proude kyng leet maken a statue of gold,
Sixty cubites long and sevene in brede;
To which ymage bothe yong and oold
Comanded he to loute, and have in drede,
Or in a fourneys, ful of flambes rede,
He shal be brent that wolde noght obeye.
But nevere wolde assente to that dede
Daniel, ne his yonge felawes tweye.
This kyng of kynges proud was and elaat;
He wente that god, that sit in magestee,
Ne myghte hym nat bireve of his estaat.
But sodeynly he loste his dignytee,
And lyk a beest hym semed for to bee,
And eet hey as an oxe, and lay theroute
In reyn; with wilde beestes walked hee,
Til certein tyme was ycome aboute.
And lik an egles fetheres wax his heres;
His nayles lyk a briddes clawes weere;
Til God relessed hym a certeyn yeres,
And yaf hym wit, and thanne with many a teere
He thanked god, and evere his lyf in feere
Was he to doon amys or moore trespace;
And til that tyme he leyd was on his beere,
He knew that God was ful of myght and grace.
His sone, which that highte balthasar,
That heeld the regne after his fader day,
He by his fader koude noght be war,
For proud he was of herte and of array;
And eek an ydolastre was he ay.
His hye estaat assured hym in pryde;
But fortune caste hym doun, and ther he lay,
And sodeynly his regne gan divide.
A feeste he made unto his lordes alle,
Upon a tyme, and bad hem blithe bee;
And thanne his officeres gan he calle:
Gooth, bryngeth forth the vesseles, quod he,
Whiche that my fader in his prosperitee
Out of the temple of jerusalem birafte;
And to oure hye goddes thanke we
Of honour that oure eldres with us lafte. Page 192
Hys wyf, his lordes, and his concubynes
Ay dronken, whil hire appetites laste,
Out of thise noble vessels sondry wynes.
And on a wal this kyng his eyen caste,
And saugh an hand, armlees, that wroot ful faste,
For feere if which he quook and siked soore.
This hand, that balthasar so soore agaste,
Wroot mane, techel phares, and namoore.
In all that land magicien was noon
That koude expoune what this lettre mente;
But daniel expowned it anoon,
And seyde, kyng, God to thy fader lente
Glorie and honour, regne, tresour, rente;
And he was proud, and nothyng God ne dradde,
And therfore God greet wreche upon hym sente,
And hym birafte the regne that he hadde.
He was out cast of mannes compaignye;
With asses was his habitacioun,
And eet hey as a beest in weet and drye,
Til that he knew, by grace and by resoun,
That God of hevene hath domynacioun
Over every regne and every creature;
And thanne hadde God of hym compassioun,
And hym restored his regne and his figure.
Eek thou, that art his sone, art proud also,
And knowest alle thise thynges verraily,
And art rebel to god, and art his foo.
Thou drank eek of his vessels boldely;
Thy wyf eek, and thy wenches, synfully
Dronke of the same vessels sondry wynys;
And heryest false goddes cursedly;
Therfore to thee yshapen ful greet pyne ys.
This hand was sent from God that on the wal
Wroot mane, techel, phares, truste me;
Thy regne is doon, thou weyest noght at al.
Dyvyded is thy regne, and it shal be
To medes and to perses yeven, quod he.
And thilke same nyght this kyng was slawe,
And darius occupieth his degree,
Thogh he therto hadde neither right ne lawe.
Lordynges, ensample heerby may ye take
How that in lordshipe is no sikernesse;
For whan fortune wole a man forsake,
She bereth awey his regne and his richesse,
And eek his freendes, bothe moore and lesse.
For what man that hath freendes thurgh fortune,
Mishap wol maken hem enemys, I gesse;
This proverbe is ful sooth and ful commune.
Cenobia, of palymerie queene,
As writen persiens of hir noblesse,
So worthy was in armes and so keene,
That no wight passed hire in hardynesse,
Ne in lynage, ne in oother gentillesse.
Of kynges blood of perce is she descended.
I seye nat that she hadde moost fairnesse,
But of his shap she myghte nat been amended.
From hire childhede I fynde that she fledde
Office of wommen, and to wode she wente,
And many a wolde hertes blood she shedde
With arwes brode that she to hem sente.
She was so swift that she anon hem hente;
And whan that she was elder, she wolde
Leouns, leopardes, and beres al torente,
And in hire armes weelde hem at hir wille.
She dorste wilde beestes dennes seke,
And rennen in the montaignes al the nyght,
And slepen under a bussh, and she koude eke
Wrastlen, by verray force and varray myght,
With any yong man, were he never so wight.
Ther myghte no thyng in hir armes stonde.
She kepte hir maydenhod from every wight;
To no man deigned hire for to be bonde.
But atte laste hir freendes han hire maried
To odenake, a prynce of that contree,
Al were it so that she hem longe taried.
And ye shul understonde how that he
Hadde swiche fantasies as hadde she.
But natheless, whan they were knyt in-feere,
They lyved in joye and in felicitee;
For ech of hem hadde oother lief and deere.
Save o thyng, that she wolde nevere assente,
By no wey, that he sholde by hire lye
But ones, for it was hire pleyn entente
To have a child, the world to multiplye;
And also soone as that she myghte espye
That she was nat with childe with that dede
Thanne wolde she suffre hym doon his fantasye
Eft-soone, and nat but oones, out of drede. Page 193
And if she were with childe at thilke cast,
Namoore sholde he pleyen thilke game
Til fully fourty wikes weren past;
Thanne wolde she ones suffre hym do the same.
Al were this odenake wolde or tame,
He gat namoore of hire, for thus she seyde,
It was to wyves lecherie and shame,
In oother caas, if that men with hem pleyde.
Two sones by this odenake hadde she,
The whiche she kepte in verty and lettrure;
But now unto oure tale turne we.
I seye, so worshipful a creature,
And wys therwith, and large with mesure,
So penyble in the werre, and curteis eke,
Ne moore laboure myghte in werre endure,
Was noon, though al this world men sholde seke.
Hir riche array ne myghte nat be told,
As wel in vessel as in hire clothyng.
She was al clad in perree and in gold,
And eek she lafte noght, for noon huntyng,
To have of sondry tonges ful knowyng,
Whan that she leyser hadde; and for to entende
To lerne bookes was al hire likyng,
How she in vertu myghte hir lyf dispende.
And shortly of this storie for to trete,
So doghty was hir housbonde and eek she,
That they conquered manye regnes grete
In the orient, with many a fair citee
Apertanaunt unto the magestee
Of rome, and with strong hond held hem ful faste,
Ne nevere myghte hir foomen doon hem flee,
Ay whil that odenakes dayes laste.
Hir batailles, whoso list hem for to rede,
Agayn spor the kyng and othere mo,
And how that al this proces fil in dede,
Why she conquered, and what title had therto,
And after, of hir meschief and hire wo,
How that she was biseged and ytake, --
Lat hym unto my maister petrak go,
That writ ynough of this, I undertake.
Whan odenake was deed, she myghtily
The regnes heeld, and with hire propre hond
Agayn hir foos she faught so cruelly
That ther nas kyng ne prynce in al that lond
That he nas glad, if he that grace fond,
That she ne wolde upon his lond werreye.
With hire they maden alliance by bond
To been in pees, and lete hire ride and pleye.
The emperour of rome, claudius
Ne hym bifore, the romayn galien,
Ne dorste nevere been so corageus,
Ne noon ermyn, ne noon egipcien,
Ne surrien, ne noon arabyen,
Withinne the feeld that dorste with hire fighte,
Lest that she wolde hem with hir handes slen,
Or with hir meignee putten hem to flighte.
In kynges habit wente hir sones two,
As heires of hir fadres regnes alle,
And hermanno and thymalao
Hir names were, as persiens hem calle.
But ay fortune hath in hire hony galle;
This myghty queene may no while endure.
Fortune out of hir regne made hire falle
To wrecchednesse and to mysaventure.
Aurelian, whan that the governaunce
Of rome cam into his handes tweye,
He shoop upon this queene to doon vengeaunce.
And with his legions he took his weye
Toward cenobie, and shortly for to seye,
He made hire flee, and atte laste hire hente,
And fettred hire, and eek hire children tweye,
And wan the land, and hoom to rome he wente.
Amonges othere thynges that he wan,
Hir chaar, that was with gold wroght and perree,
This grete romayn, this aurelian,
Hath with hym lad, for that men sholde it see.
Biforen his triumphe walketh shee,
With gilte cheynes on hire nekke hangynge.
Coroned was she, as after hir degree,
And ful of perree charged hire clothynge.
Allas, fortune! she that whilom was
Dredeful to kynges and to emperoures,
Now gaureth al the peple on hire, allas!
And she that helmed was in starke stoures,
And wan by force townes stronge and toures,
Shal on hir heed now were a vitremyte;
And she that bar the ceptre ful of floures
Shal bere a distaf, hire cost for to quyte
Pedro of Castille
O noble, o worthy petro, glorie of spayne,
Whom fortune heeld so hye in magestee,
Wel oghten men thy pitous deeth complayne!
Out of thy land thy brother made thee flee,
And after, at a seege, by subtiltee,
Thou were bitraysed and lad unto his tente,
Where as he with his owene hand slow thee,
Succedynge in thy regne and in thy rente.
The feeld of snow, with th' egle of blak therinne,
Caught with the lymrod coloured as the gleede,
He brew this cursednesse and al this synne.
The wikked nest was werker of this nede.
Noght charles olyver, that took ay heede
Of trouthe and honoure, but of armorike
Genylon-olyver, corrupt for meede,
Broghte this worthy kyng in swich a brike.
De Petro Rege de Cipro
O worthy petro, kyng of cipre, also,
That alisandre wan by heigh maistrie,
Ful many an hethen wroghtestow ful wo,
Of which thyne owene liges hadde envie,
And for no thyng but for thy chivalrie
They in thy bed han slayn thee by the morwe.
Thus kan fortune hir wheel governe and gye,
And out of joye brynge men to sorwe.
De Barnabo de Lumbardia
Off melan grete barnabo viscounte,
God of delit, and scourge of lumbardye,
Why sholde I nat thyn infortune acounte,
Sith in estaat thow cloumbe were so hye?
Thy brother sone, that was thy double allye,
For he thy nevew was, and sone-in-lawe,
Withinne his prisoun made thee to dye, --
But why, ne how, noot I that thou were slawe.
De Hugelino Comite de Pize
Off the erl hugelyn of pyze the langour
Ther may no tonge telle for pitee.
But litel out of pize stant a tour,
In which tour in prisoun put was he,
And with hym been his litel children thre;
The eldest scarsly fyf yeer was of age.
Allas, fortune! it was greet crueltee
Swiche briddes for to putte in swich a cage!
Dampned was he to dyen in that prisoun,
For roger, which that bisshop was of pize,
Hadde on hym maad a fals suggestioun,
Thurgh which the peple gan upon hym rise,
And putten hym to prisoun, in swich wise
As ye han herd, and mete and drynke he hadde
So smal, that wel unnethe it may suffise,
And therwithal it was ful povre and badde.
And on a day bifil that in that hour
Whan that his mete wont was to be broght,
The gayler shette the dores of the tour.
He herde it wel, but he spak right noght,
And in his herte anon ther fil a thoght
That they for hunger wolde doon hym dyen.
Allas! quod he, allas, that I was wroght!
Therwith the teeris fillen from his yen.
His yonge sone, that thre yeer was of age,
Unto hym seyde, fader, why do ye wepe?
Whanne wol the gayler bryngen oure potage?
Is ther no morsel breed that ye do kepe?
I am so hungry that I may nat slepe.
Now wolde God that I myghte slepen evere!
Thanne sholde nat hunger in my wombe crepe;
Ther is no thyng, save breed, that me were levere.
Thus day by day this child bigan to crye,
Til in his fadres barm adoun it lay,
And seyde, farewel, fader, I moot dye!
And kiste his fader, and dyde the same day.
And whan the woful fader deed it say,
For wo his armes two he gan to byte,
And seyde, allas, fortune, and weylaway!
Thy false wheel my wo al may I wyte.
His children wende that it for hunger was
That he his armes gnow, and nat for wo,
And seyde, fader, do nat so, allas!
But rather ete the flessh upon us two.
Oure flessh thou yaf us, take oure flessh us fro,
And ete ynogh, -- right thus they to hym seyde,
And after that, withinne a day or two,
They leyde hem in his lappe adoun and deyde.
Hymself, despeired, eek for hunger starf;
Thus ended is this myghty erl of pize.
From heigh estaat fortune awey hym carf.
Of this tragedie it oghte ynough suffise;
Whoso wol here it in a lenger wise,
Redeth the grete poete of ytaille
That highte dant, for he kan al devyse
Fro point to point, nat o word wol he faille.
Although that nero were as vicius
As any feend that lith ful lowe adoun,
Yet he, as telleth us swetonius,
This wyde world hadde in subjeccioun,
Bothe est and west, (south), and septemtrioun.
Of rubies, saphires, and of peerles white
Were alle his clothes brouded up and doun;
For he in gemmes greetly gan delite.
Moore delicaat, moore pompous of array,
Moore proud was nevere emperour than he;
That like clooth that he hadde wered o day,
After that tyme he nolde it nevere see.
Nettes of gold threed hadde he greet plentee
To fisshe in tybre, whan hym liste pleye.
His lustes were al lawe in his decree,
For fortune as his freend hym wolde obeye.
He rome brende for his delicasie;
The senatours he slow upon a day
To heere how that men wolde wepe and crie;
And slow his brother, and by his suster lay.
His mooder made he in pitous array,
For he hire wombe slitte to biholde
Where he conceyved was; so weilaway!
That he so litel of his mooder tolde.
No teere out of his eyen for that sighte
Ne cam, but seyde, a fair womman was she!
Greet wonder is how that he koude or myghte
Be domesman of hire dede beautee.
The wyn to bryngen hym comanded he,
And drank anon, -- noon oother wo he made.
Whan myght is joyned unto crueltee,
Allas, to depe wol the venym wade!
In yowthe a maister hadde this emperour
To teche hym letterure and curteisye,
For of moralitee he was the flour,
As in his tyme, but if bookes lye;
And whil this maister hadde of hym maistrye,
He maked hym so konnyng and so sowple
That longe tyme it was er tirannye
Or any vice dorste on hym uncowple.
This seneca, of which that I devyse,
By cause nero hadde of hym swich drede,
For he fro vices wolde hym ay chastise
Discreetly, as by word and nat by dede, --
Sire, wolde he seyn, an emperour moot nede
Be vertuous and hate tirannye --
For which he in a bath made hym to blede
On bothe his armes, til he moste dye.
This nero hadde eek of acustumaunce
In youthe agayns his maister for to ryse,
Which afterward hym thoughte a greet grevaunce;
Therefore he made hym dyen in this wise.
But natheless this seneca the wise
Chees in a bath to dye in this manere
Rather than han another tormentise;
And thus hath nero slayn his maister deere.
Now fil it so that fortune liste no lenger
The ye pryde of nero to cherice,
For though that he were strong, yet was she strenger.
She thoughte thus, by god! I am to nyce
To sette a man that is fulfild of vice
In heigh degree, and emperour hym calle.
By god! out of his sete I wol hym trice;
Whan he leest weneth, sonnest shal he falle.
The peple roos upon hym on a nyght
For his defaute, and whan he it espied,
Out of his dores anon he hath hym dight
Allone, and ther he wende han been allied,
He knokked faste, and ay the moore he cried,
The fastere shette they the dores alle.
Tho wiste he wel, he hadde himself mysgyed,
And wente his wey; no lenger dorste he calle.
The peple cried and rombled up and doun,
That with his erys herde he how they seyde,
Shere is this false tiraunt, this neroun?
For fere almoost out of his wit he breyde,
And to his goddes pitously he preyde
For socour, but it myghte nat bityde.
For drede of this, hym thoughte that he deyde,
And ran into a gardyn hym to hyde.
And in this gardyn foond he cherles tweye
That seten by a fyr full greet and reed.
And to thise cherles two he gan to preye
To sleen hym, and to girden of his heed,
That to his body, whan that he were deed,
Were no despit ydoon for his defame.
Hymself he slow, he koude no bettre reed,
Of which fortune lough, and hadde a game.
Was nevere capitayn under a kyng
That regnes mo putte in subjeccioun,
Ne strenger was in feeld of alle thyng,
As in his tyme, ne gretter of renoun,
Ne moore pompous in heigh presumpcioun
Than oloferne, which fortune ay kiste
So likerously, and ladde hym up and doun,
Til that his heed was of, er that he wiste.
Nat oonly that this world hadde hym in awe
For lesynge of richesse or libertee,
But he made every man reneyen his lawe.
Nabugodonosor was god, seyde hee;
Noon oother God sholde adoured bee.
Agayns his heeste no wight dar trespace,
Save in bethulia, a strong citee,
Where eliachim a preest was of that place.
But taak kep of the deth of oloferne:
Amydde his hoost he dronke lay a-nyght,
Withinne his tente, large as is a berne,
And yet, for al his pompe and al his myght,
Judith, a womman, as he lay upright
Slepynge, his heed of smoot, and from his tente
Ful pryvely she stal from every wight,
And with his heed unto hir toun she wente.
De Rege Antiocho illustri
What nedeth it of kyng anthiochus
To telle his hye roial magestee,
His hye pride, his werkes venymus?
For swich another was ther noon as he.
Rede which that he was in machabee,
And rede the proude wordes that he seyde,
And why he fil fro heigh prosperitee,
And in an hill how wrecchedly he deyde.
Fortune hym hadde enhaunced so in pride
That verraily he wende he myghte attayne
Unto the sterres upon every syde,
And in balance weyen ech montayne,
And alle the floodes of the see restrayne.
And goddes peple hadde he moost in hate;
Hem wolde he sleen in torment and in payne,
Wenynge that God ne myghte his pride abate.
And for that nichanore and thymothee
Of jewes weren venquysshed myghtily,
Unto the jewes swich an hate hadde he
That he bad greithen his chaar ful hastily,
And swoor, and seyde ful despitously
Unto jerusalem he wolde eftsoone,
To wreken his ire on it ful cruelly;
But of his purpos he was let ful soone.
God for his manace hym so soore smoot
With invisible wounde, ay incurable,
That in his guttes carf it so and boot
That his peynes weren importable.
And certeinly the wreche was resonable,
For many a mannes guttes dide he peyne.
But from his purpos cursed and dampnable,
For al his smert, he wolde hym nat restreyne,
But bad anon apparaillen his hoost;
And sodeynly, er he was of it war,
God daunted al his pride and al his boost.
For he so soore fil out of his char
That it his limes and his skyn totar,
So that he neyther myghte go ne ryde,
But in a chayer men aboute hym bar,
Al forbrused, bothe bak and syde.
The wreche of God hym smoot so cruelly
That thurgh his body wikked wormes crepte,
And therwithal he stank so horribly
That noon of al his meynee that hym kepte,
Theither so he wook, or ellis slepte,
Ne myghte noght the stynk of hym endure.
In this meschief he wayled and eek wepte,
And knew God lord of every creature.
To al his hoost and to hymself also
Ful wlatsom was the stynk of his careyne;
No man ne myghte hym bere to ne fro.
And in this stynk and this horrible peyne,
He starf ful wrecchedly in a monteyne.
Thus hath this robbour and this homycide,
That many a man made to wepe and pleyne,
Swich gerdoun as bilongeth unto pryde.
The storie of alisaundre is so commune
That every wight that hath discrecioun
Hath herd somwhat or al of his fortune.
This wyde world, as in conclusioun,
He wan by strengthe, or for his hye renoun
They weren glad for pees unto hym sende.
The pride of man and beest he leyde adoun,
Wherso he cam, unto the worldes ende. Page 197
Comparisoun myghte nevere yet maked
Bitwixe hym and another conquerour;
For al this world for drede of hym hath quaked.
He was of knyghthod and of fredom flour;
Fortune hym made the heir of hire honour.
Save wyn and wommen, no thing myghte aswage
His hye entente in armes and labour,
So was he ful of leonyn corage.
What pris were it to hym, though I yow tolde
Of darius, and an hundred thousand mo
Of kynges, prices, dukes, erles bolde
Whiche he conquered, and broghte hem into wo?
I seye, as fer as man may ryde or go,
The world was his, -- what sholde I moore devyse?
For though I write or tolde yow everemo
Of his knyghthod, it myghte nat suffise.
Twelf yeer he regned, as seith machabee.
Philippes sone of macidoyne he was,
That first was kyng in grece the contree.
O worthy, gentil alisandre, allas,
That evere sholde fallen swich a cas!
Empoysoned of thyn owene folk thou weere;
Thy sys fortune hath turned into aas,
And yet for thee ne weep she never a teere.
Who shal me yeven teeris to compleyne
The deeth of gentillesse and of franchise,
That al the world weelded in his demeyne,
And yet hym thoughte it myghte nat suffise?
So ful was his corage of heigh emprise.
Allas! who shal me helpe to endite
False fortune, and poyson to despise,
The whiche two of al this wo I wyte?
De Julio Cesare
By wisedom, manhede, and by greet labour,
From humble bed to roial magestee
Up roos he julius, the conquerour,
That wan al th' occident by land and see,
By strengthe of hand, or elles by tretee,
And unto rome made hem tributarie;
And sitthe of rome the emperour was he,
Til that fortune weex his adversarie.
O myghty cesar, that in thessalie
Agayn pompeus, fader thyn in lawe,
That of the orient hadde al the chivalrie
As fer as that the day bigynneth dawe,
Thou thurgh thy knyghthod hast hem take and slawe,
Save fewe folk that with pompeus fledde,
Thurgh which thou puttest al th' orient in awe.
Thanke fortune, that so wel thee spedde!
But now a litel while I wol biwaille
This pompeus, this noble governour
Of rome, which that fleigh at this bataille.
I seye, oon of his men, a fals traitour,
His heed of smoot, to wynnen hym favour
Of julius, and hym the heed he broghte.
Allas, pompeye, of th' orient conquerour,
That fortune unto swich a fyn thee broghte!
To rome agayn repaireth julius
With his triumphe, lauriat ful hey;
But on a tyme brutus cassius,
That evere hadde of his hye estaat envye,
Ful prively hath maad conspiracye
Agayns this julius in subtil wise,
And caste the place in which he sholde dye
With boydekyns, as I shal yow devyse.
This julius to the capitolie wente
Upon a day, as he was wont to goon,
And in the capitolie anon hym hente
This false brutus and his othere foon,
And stiked hym with boydekyns anoon
With many a wounde, and thus they lete hym lye;
But nevere gronte he at no strook but oon,
Or elles at two, but if his storie lye.
So manly was this julius of herte,
And so wel lovede estaatly honestee,
That though his deedly woundes soore smerte,
His mantel over his hypes caste he,
For no man sholde seen his privetee;
And he lay of diyng in a traunce,
And wiste verraily that deed was hee,
Of honestee yet hadde he remembraunce.
Lucan, to thee this storie I recomende,
And to swetoun, and to valerie also,
That of this storie writen word and ende,
How that to thise grete conqueroures two
Fortune was first freend, and sitthe foo.
No man ne truste upon hire favour longe,
But have hire in awayt for everemoo;
Witnesse on alle thise conqueroures stronge.
This riche cresus, whilom kyng of lyde,
Of which cresus cirus soore hym dradde,
Yet was he caught amyddes al his pryde,
And to be brent men to the fyr hym ladde.
But swich a reyn doun fro the welkne shadde
That slow the fyr, and made hym to escape;
But to be war no grace yet he hadde,
Til fortune on the galwes made hym gape.
Whanne he escaped was, he kan nat stente
For to bigynne a newe werre agayn.
He wende wel, for that fortune hym sente
Swich hap that he escaped thurgh the rayn,
That of his foos he myghte nat be slayn;
And eek a sweven upon a nyght he mette,
Of which he was so proud and eek so fayn
That in vengeance he al his herte sette.
Upon a tree he was, as that hym thoughte,
Ther juppiter hym wessh, bothe bak and syde,
And phebus eek a fair towaille hym broughte
To dryen hym with; and therfore was his pryde,
And to his doghter, that stood hym bisyde,
Which that he knew in heigh sentence habounde,
He bad hire telle hym what it signyfyde,
And she his dreem bigan right thus expounde:
The tree, quod she, the galwes is to meene,
And juppiter bitokneth snow and reyn,
And phebus, with his towaille so clene,
Tho been the sonne stremes for to seyn.
Thou shalt anhanged be, fader, certeyn;
Reyn shal thee wasshe, and sonne shal thee drye.
Thus warned hym ful plat and eek ful pleyn
His doghter, which that called was phanye.
Anhanged was cresus, the proude kyng;
His roial trone myghte hym nat availle.
Tragedies noon oother maner thyng
Ne kan in syngyng crie ne biwaille
But that fortune alwey wole assaille
With unwar strook the regnes that been proude;
For whan men trusteth hire, thanne wol she faille,
And covere hire brighte face with a clowde.
The Knight's Interruption of the Monk's Tale
Hoo! quod the knyght, good sire, namoore of this!
That ye han seyd is right ynough, ywis,
And muchel moore; for litel hevynesse
Is right ynough to muche folk, I gesse.
I seye for me, it is a greet disese,
Whereas men han been in greet welthe and ese,
To heeren of hire sodeyn fal, allas!
And the contrarie is joye and greet solas,
As whan a man hath been in povre estaat,
And clymbeth up and wexeth fortunat,
And there abideth in prosperitee.
Swich thyng is gladsom, as it thynketh me,
And of swich thyng were goodly for to telle.
Ye, quod oure hooste, by seint poules belle!
Ye seye right sooth; this monk he clappeth lowde.
He spak how fortune covered with a clowde
I noot nevere what; and als of a tragedie
Right now ye herde, and, pardee, no remedie
It is for to biwaille ne compleyne
That that is doon, and als it is a peyne,
As ye han seyd, to heere of hevynesse.
Sire monk, namoore of this, so God yow blesse! Page 199
Youre tale anoyeth al this compaignye.
Swich talkyng is nat worth a boterflye,
For therinne is ther no desport ne game.
Wherfore, sire monk, or daun piers by youre name,
I pray yow hertely telle us somwhat elles;
For sikerly, nere clunkyng of youre belles,
That on youre bridel hange on every syde,
By hevene kyng, that for us alle dyde,
I sholde er this han fallen doun for sleep,
Althogh the slough had never been so deep;
Thanne hadde your tale al be toold in veyn.
For certeinly, as that thise clerkes seyn,
Whereas a man may have noon audience,
Noght helpeth it to tellen his sentence.
And wel I woot the substance is in me,
If any thyng shal wel reported be.
Sir, sey somwhat of huntyng, I yow preye.
Nay, quod this monk, I have no lust to pleye.
Now lat another telle, as I have toold.
Thanne spak oure hoost with rude speche and boold,
And seyde unto the nonnes preest anon,
Com neer, thou preest, com hyder, thou sir john!
Telle us swich thyng as may oure hertes glade.
Be blithe, though thou ryde upon a jade.
What thogh thyn hors be bothe foul and lene?
If he wol serve thee, rekke nat a bene.
Looke that thyn herte be murie everemo.
Yis, sir, quod he, yis, hoost, so moot I go,
But I be myrie, ywis I wol be blamed.
And right anon his tale he hath attamed,
And thus he seyde unto us everichon,
This sweete preest, this goodly man sir john.
The Nun's Priest's Tale
A povre wydwe, somdeel stape in age
Was whilom dwellyng in a narwe cotage,
Biside a grove, stondynge in a dale.
This wydwe, of which I telle yow my tale,
Syn thilke day that she was last a wyf,
In pacience ladde a ful symple lyf,
For litel was hir catel and hir rente.
By housbondrie of swich as God hire sente
She foond hirself and eek hir doghtren two.
Thre large sowes hadde she, and namo,
Three keen, and eek a sheep that highte malle.
Ful sooty was hire bour and eek hir halle,
In which she eet ful many a sklendre meel.
Of poynaunt sauce hir neded never a deel.
No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte;
Hir diete was accordant to hir cote.
Repleccioun ne made hire nevere sik;
Attempree diete was al hir phisik,
And exercise, and hertes suffisaunce.
The goute lette hire nothyng for to daunce,
N' apoplexie shente nat hir heed.
No wyn ne drank she, neither whit ne reed;
Hir bord was served moost with whit and blak, --
Milk and broun breed, in which she foond no lak,
Seynd bacoun, and somtyme an ey or tweye;
For she was, as it were, a maner deye.
A yeerd she hadde, enclosed al aboute
With stikkes, and a drye dych withoute,
In which she hadde a cok, hight chauntecleer.
In al the land, of crowyng nas his peer.
His voys was murier than the murie orgon
On messe-dayes that in the chirche gon.
Wel sikerer was his crowyng in his logge
Than is a clokke or an abbey orlogge.
By nature he knew ech ascencioun
Of the equynoxial in thilke toun;
For whan degrees fiftene weren ascended,
Thanne crew he, that it myghte nat been amended.
His coomb was redder than the fyn coral, Page 200
And batailled as it were a castel wal;
His byle was blak, and as the jeet it shoon;
Lyk asure were his legges and his toon;
His nayles whitter than the lylye flour,
And lyk the burned gold was his colour.
This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce
Sevene hennes for to doon al his plesaunce,
Whiche were his sustres and his paramours,
And wonder lyk to hym, as of colours;
Of whiche the faireste hewed on hir throte
Was cleped faire damoysele pertelote.
Curteys she was, discreet, and debonaire,
And compaignable, and bar hyrself so faire,
Syn thilke day that she was seven nyght oold,
That trewely she hath the herte in hoold
Of chauntecleer, loken in every lith;
He loved hire so that wel was hym therwith.
But swich a joye was it to here hem synge,
Whan that the brighte sonne gan to sprynge,
In sweete accord, my lief is faren in londe!
For thilke tyme, as I have understonde,
Beestes and briddes koude speke and synge.
And so bifel that in a dawenynge,
As chauntecleer among his wyves alle
Sat on his perche, that was in the halle,
And next hym sat this faire pertelote,
This chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte,
As man that in his dreem is drecched soore.
And whan that pertelote thus herde hym roore,
She was agast, and seyde, herte deere,
What eyleth yow, to grone in this manere?
Ye been a verray sleper; fy, for shame!
And he answerde, and seyde thus: madame,
I pray yow that ye take it nat agrief.
By god, me mette I was in swich meschief
Right now, that yet myn herte is soore afright.
Now god, quod he, my swevene recche aright,
And kepe my body out of foul prisoun!
Me mette how that I romed up and doun
Withinne our yeerd, wheer as I saugh a beest
Was lyk an hound, and wolde han maad areest
Upon my body, and wolde han had me deed.
His colour was bitwixe yelow and reed,
And tipped was his tayl and bothe his eeris
With blak, unlyk the remenant of his heeris;
His snowte smal, with glowynge eyen tweye.
Yet of his look for feere almoost I deye;
This caused me my gronyng, doutelees.
Avoy! quod she, fy on yow, hertelees!
Allas! quod she, for, by that God above,
Now han ye lost myn herte and al my love.
I kan nat love a coward, by my feith!
For certes, what so any womman seith,
We alle desiren, if it myghte bee,
To han housbondes hardy, wise, and free,
And secree, and no nygard, ne no fool,
Ne hym that is agast of every tool,
Ne noon avauntour, by that God above!
How dorste ye seyn, for shame, unto youre love
That any thyng myghte make yow aferd?
Have ye no mannes herte, and han a berd?
Allas! and konne ye been agast of swevenys?
Nothyng, God woot, but vanitee in sweven is.
Swevenes engendren of replecciouns,
And ofte of fume and of complecciouns,
Whan humours been to habundant in a wight.
Certes this dreem, which ye han met to-nyght,
Cometh of the greete superfluytee
Of youre rede colera, pardee,
Which causeth folk to dreden in hir dremes
Of arwes, and of fyr with rede lemes,
Of rede beestes, that they wol hem byte,
Of contek, and of whelpes, grete and lyte;
Right as the humour of malencolie
Causeth ful many a man in sleep to crie
For feere of blake beres, or boles blake,
Or elles blake develes wole hem take.
Of othere humours koude I telle also
That werken many a man sleep ful wo;
But I wol passe as lightly as I kan.
Lo catoun, which that was so wys a man,
Seyde he nat thus, -- ne do no fors of dremes? --
Now sire, quod she, whan we flee for the bemes,
For goddes love, as taak som laxatyf.
Up peril of my soule and of my lyf,
I conseille yow the beste, I wol nat lye,
That bothe of colere and of malencolye
Ye purge yow; and for ye shal nat tarie,
Though in this toun is noon apothecarie,
I shal myself to gerbes techen yow
That shul been for youre hele and for youre prow;
And in oure yeerd tho herbes shal I fynde
The whiche han of hire propretee by kynde
To purge yow bynethe and eek above.
Foryet nat this, for goddes owene love!
Ye been ful coleryk of compleccioun;
Ware the sonne in his ascencioun
Ne fynde yow nat repleet of humours hoote.
And if it do, I dar wel leye a grote, Page 201
That ye shul have a fevere tercaine,
Of an agu, that may be youre bane.
A day or two ye shul have digestyves
Of wormes, er ye take youre laxatyves
Of lawriol, centaure, and fumetere,
Or elles of ellebor, that groweth there,
Of katapuce, or of gaitrys beryis,
Of herbe yve, growyng in oure yeerd, ther mery is;
Pekke hem up right as they growe and ete hem yn.
By myrie, housbonde, for youre fader kyn~
Dredeth no dreem, I kan sey yow namoore.
Madame, quod he, graunt mercy of youre loore.
But nathelees, as touchyng daun catoun,
That hath of wysdom swich a greet renoun,
Though that he bad no dremes for to drede,
By god, men may in olde bookes rede
Of many a man moore of auctorite
Than evere caton was, so moot I thee,
That al the revers seyn of this sentence,
And han wel founden by experience
That dremes been significaciouns
As wel of joye as of tribulaciouns
That folk enduren in this lif present.
Ther nedeth make of this noon argument;
The verray preeve sheweth it in dede.
Oon of the gretteste auctour that men rede
Seith thus: that whilom two felawes wente
On pilgrimage, in a ful good entente;
And happed so, yhey coomen in a toun
Wher as ther was swich congregacioun
Of peple, and eek so streit of herbergage,
That they ne founde as muche as cotage
In which they bothe myghte ylogged bee.
Wherfore they mosten of necessitee,
As for that nyght,departen compaignye;
And ech of hem gooth to his hostelrye,
And took his loggyng as it wolde falle.
That oon of hem was logged in a stalle,
Fer in a yeerd, with oxen of the plough;
That oother man was logged wel ynough,
As was his aventure or his fortune,
That us governeth alle as in commune.
And so bifel that, longe er it were day,
This man mette in his bed, ther as he lay
How that his felawe gan upon hym calle,
And seyde,, -- allas! for in an oxes stalle
This nyght I shal be mordred ther I lye.
Now help me,deere brother, or I dye.
In alle haste com to me! -- he sayde.
This man out of his sleep for feere abrayde;
But whan that he was wakened of this sleep,
He turned hym, and took of this no keep.
Hym thoughte his dreem nas but a vanitte.
Thus twies in his slepyng dremed hee;
And atte thridde tyme yet his felawe
Cam, as hym thoughte, and seide, -- I am now slawe.
Bihood my bloody woundes depe and wyde!
Arys up erly in the morwe tyde,
And at the west gate of the toun, -- quod he,
-- A carte ful of dong ther shaltow se,
In which my body is hid ful prively;
Do thilke carte arresten boldely.
My gold caused my mordre, sooth to sayn.,
And tolde hym every point how he was slayn,
With a ful pitous face, pale of hewe.
And truste wel, his dreem he foond ful trewe,
For on the morwe, as soone as it was day,
To his felawes in he took the way;
And whan that he cam to his oxes stalle,
After his felawe he bigan to calle.
The hostiler answerede hym anon,
And seyde,,sire, your felawe is agon.
As soone as day he wente out of the toun.,
This man gan fallen suspecioun,
Remembrynge on his dremes that he mette,
And forth he gooth no lenger wolde he lette
Unto the west gate of the toun, and fond
A dong carte, wente as it were to donge lond,
That was arrayed in that same wise
As ye han herd the dede man devyse.
And with an hardy herte he gan to crye
Vengeance and justice of this felonye.
My felawe mordred is this same nyght,
And in this carte he lith gapyng upright.
I crye out on the ministres, -- quod he,
-- That sholden kepe and reulen this citee.
Harrow! allas! heere lith my felawe slayn! --
What sholde I moore unto this tale sayn?
The peple out sterte and caste the cart to grounde,
And in the myddel of the dong they founde
The dede man, that mordred was al newe.
O blisful god, that art so just and trewe,
Lo, how that thou biwryest mordre alway!
Mordre wol out, that se we day by day.
Mordre is so wlatsom and abhomynable
To god, that is so just and resonable,
That he ne wol nat suffre it heled be,
Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or thre.
Mordre wol out, this my conclusioun. Page 202
And right anon, ministres of that toun
Han hent the carter and so soore hym pyned,
And eek the hostiler so soore engyned,
That they biknewe hire wikkednesse anon,
And were anhanged by the nekke bon.
Heere may men seen that dremes been to drede.
And certes in the same book I rede,
Right in the nexte chapitre after this
I gabbe nat, so have I joye or blis
Two men that wolde han passed over see,
For certeyn cause, into a fer contree,
If that the wynd ne hadde been contrarie,
That made hem in a citee for to tarie
That stood ful myrie upon an haven-syde;
But on a day, agayn the even-tyde,
The wynd gan chaunge, and blew right as hem leste.
Jolif and glad they wente unto hir reste,
And casten hem ful erly for to saille.
But to that o man fil a greet mervaille:
That oon of hem,in slepyng as he lay,
Hym mette a wonder dreem agayn the day.
Hym thoughte a man stood by his beddes syde,
And hym comanded that he sholde abyde,
And seyde hym thus: -- if thou tomorwe wende,
Thow shalt be dreynt; my tale is at an ende.
He wook, and tolde his felawe what he mette,
And preyde hym his viage for to lette;
As for that day, he preyde hym to byde.
His felawe, that lay by his beddes syde,
Gan for to laughe, and scorned him ful faste.
-- no dreem, -- quod he, -- may so myn herte agaste
That I wol lette for to do my thynges.
I sette nat a straw by thy dremynges,
For swevenes been but vantees and japes.
Men dreme alday of owles and of apes,
And eek of many a maze therwithal;
Men dreme of thyng that nevere was ne shal.
But sith I see that thou wolt heere abyde,
And thus forslewthen wilfully thy tyde,
God woot, it reweth me; and have good day! --
And thus he took his leve, and wente his way.
But er that he hadde half his cours yseyled,
Noot I nat why, ne what myschaunce it eyled,
But casuelly the shippes botme rente,
And ship and man under the water wente
In sighte of othere shippes it bisyde,
That with hem seyled at the same tyde.
And therfore, faire pertelote so deere,
By swiche ensamples olde maistow leere
That no man sholde been to recchelees
Of dremes; for I seye thee, doutelees,
That many a dreem ful soore is for to drede.
Lo, in the lyf of seint kenelm I rede,
That was kenulphus sone, the noble kyng
Of mercenrike, how kenelm mette a thyng.
A lite er he was mordred, on a day,
His mordre in his avysioun he say.
His norice hym expowned every deel
His sweven, and bad hym for to kepe hym weel
For traisoun; but he nas but seven yeer oold,
And therfore lite tale hath he toold
Of any dreem, so hooly was his herte.
By god! I hadde levere than my sherte
That ye hadde rad his legende, as have I.
Dame pertelote, I sey yow trewely,
Macrobeus, that writ the avisioun
In affrike of the worthy cipioun,
Affermeth dremes, and seith that they been
Warnynge of thynges that men after seen.
And forthermoore, I pray yow, looketh wel
In the olde testament, of daniel,
If he heeld dremes any vanitee.
Reed eek of joseph, and ther shul ye see
Wher dremes be somtyme -- I sey nat alle --
Warnynge of thynges that shul after falle.
Looke of egipte the kyng, daun pharao,
His bakere and his butiller also,
Wher they ne felte noon effect in dremes.
Whoso wol seken actes of sondry remes
May rede of dremes many a wonder thyng.
Lo cresus, which that was of lyde kyng,
Mette he nat that he sat upon a tree,
Which signified he sholde anhanged bee?
Lo heere andromacha, ectores wyf,
That day that ector sholde lese his lyf,
She dremed on the same nyght biforn
How that the lyf of ector sholde be lorn,
If thilke day he wente into bataille.
She warned hym, but it myghte nat availle;
He wente for to fighte natheles,
But he was slayn anon of achilles.
But thilke tale is al to longe to telle,
And eek it is ny day, I may nat dwelle.
Shortly I seye, as for conclusioun,
That I shal han of this avisioun
Adversitee; and I seye forthermoor,
That I ne telle of laxatyves no stoor,
For they been venymous, I woot it weel;
I hem diffye, I love hem never a deel!
Now let us speke of myrthe, and stynte al this.
Madame pertelote, so have I blis,
Of o thyng God hath sent me large grace; Page 203
For whan I se the beautee of youre face,
Ye been so scarlet reed aboute youre yen,
It maketh al my drede for to dyen;
For al so siker as in principio,
Mulier est hominis confusio, --
Madame, the sentence of this latyn is,
-- womman is mannes joye and al his blis. --
For whan I feele a-nyght your softe syde,
Al be it that I may nat on yow ryde,
For that oure perche is maad so narwe, allas!
I am so ful of joye and of solas,
That I diffye bothe sweven and dreem.
And with that word he fley doun fro the beem,
For it was day, and eke his hennes alle,
And with a chuk he gan hem for to calle,
For he hadde founde a corn, lay in the yerd.
Real he was, he was namoore aferd.
He fethered pertelote twenty tyme,
And trad hire eke as ofte, er it was pryme.
He looketh as it were a grym leoun,
And on his toos he rometh up and doun;
Hym deigned nat to sette his foot to grounde.
He chukketh whan he hath a corn yfounde,
And to hym rennen thanne his wyves alle.
Thus roial, as a prince is in his halle,
Leve I this chauntecleer in his pasture,
And after wol I telle his aventure.
Whan that the month in which the world bigan,
That highte march, whan God first maked man,
Was compleet, and passed were also,
Syn march bigan, thritty dayes and two,
Bifel that chauntecleer in al his pryde,
His sevene wyves walkynge by his syde,
Caste up his eyen to the brighte sonne,
That in the signe of taurus hadde yronne
Twenty degrees and oon, and somwhat moore,
And knew by kynde, and by noon oother loore,
That it was pryme, and crew with blisful stevene.
The sonne, he seyde, is clomben up on-evene
Fourty degrees and oon, and moore ywis.
Madame pertelote, my worldes blis,
Herkneth thise blisful briddes how they synge,
And se the fresshe floures how they sprynge;
Ful is myn herte of revel and solas!
But sodeynly hym fil a sorweful cas,
For evere the latter ende of joye is wo.
God woot that worldly joye is soone ago;
And if a rethor koude faire endite,
He in a cronycle saufly myghte it write
As for a sovereyn notabilitee.
Now every wys man, lat him herkne me;
This storie is also trewe, I undertake,
As is the book of launcelot de lake,
That wommen holde in ful greet reverence.
Now wol I torne agayn to my sentence.
A col-fox, ful of sly iniquitee,
That in th grove hadde woned yeres three,
By heigh ymaginacioun forncast,
The same nyght thurghout the hegges brast
Into the yerd ther chauntecleer the faire
Was wont, and eek his wyves, to repaire;
And in a bed of wortes stille he lay,
Til it was passed undren of the day,
Waitynge his tyme on chauntecleer to falle,
As gladly doon thise homycides alle
That in await liggen to mordre men.
O false mordrour, lurkynge in thy den!
O newe scariot, newe genylon,
False dissymulour, o greek synon,
That broghtest troye al outrely to sorwe!
O chauntecleer, acursed be that morwe
That thou into that yerd flaugh fro the bemes!
Thou were ful wel ywarned by thy dremes
That thilke day was perilous to thee;
But what that God forwoot moot nedes bee,
After the opinioun of certein clerkis.
Witnesse on hym that any parfit clerk is,
That in scole is greet altercacioun
In this mateere, and greet disputisoun,
And hath been of an hundred thousand men.
But I ne kan nat bulte it to the bren
As kan the hooly doctour augustyn,
Or boece, or the bisshop bradwardyn,
Wheither that goddes worthy forwityng
Streyneth me nedely for to doon a thyng, --
Nedely clepe I symple necessitee;
Or elles, if free choys be graunted me
To do that same thyng, or do it noght,
Though God forwoot it er that was wroght;
Or if his wityng streyneth never a deel
But by necessitee condicioneel.
I wol nat han to do of swich mateere;
My tale is of a cok, as ye may heere,
That tok his conseil of his wyf, with sorwe,
To walken in the yerd upon that morwe
That he hadde met that dreem that I yow tolde.
Wommennes conseils been ful ofte colde;
Wommannes conseil broghte us first to wo,
And made adam fro paradys to go,
Ther as he was ful myrie and wel at ese.
But for I noot to whom it myght displese, Page 204
If I conseil of wommen wolde blame,
Passe over, for I seyde it in my game.
Rede auctours, where they trete of swich mateere,
And what they seyn of wommen ye may heere.
Thise been the cokkes wordes, and nat myne;
I kan noon harm of no womman divyne.
Faire in the soond, to bathe hire myrily,
Lith pertelote, and alle hire sustres by,
Agayn the sonne, and chauntecleer so free
Soong murier than the mermayde in the see;
For phisiologus seith sikerly
How that they syngen wel and myrily.
And so bifel that, as he caste his ye
Among the wortes on a boterflye,
He was war of this fox, that lay ful lowe.
Nothyng ne liste hym thanne for to crowe,
But cride anon, cok! cok! and up he sterte
As man that was affrayed in his herte.
For natureelly a beest desireth flee
Fro his contrarie, if he may it see,
Though he never erst hadde seyn it with his ye.
This chauntecleer, whan he gan hym espye,
He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon
Seyde, gentil sire, allas! wher wol ye gon?
Be ye affrayed of me that am youre freend?
Now, certes, I were worse than a feend,
If I to yow wolde harm or vileynye!
I am nat come youre conseil for t' espye,
But trewely, the cause of my comynge
Was oonly for to herkne how that ye synge.
For trewely, ye have as myrie a stevene
As any aungel hath that is in hevene.
Therwith ye han in musyk moore feelynge
Than hadde boece, or any that kan synge.
My lord youre fader -- God his soule blesse! --
And eek youre mooder, of hire gentillesse,
Han in myn hous ybeen to my greet ese;
And certes, sire, ful fayn wolde I yow plese.
But, for men speke of syngyng, I wol seye, --
So moote I brouke wel myne eyen tweye, --
Save yow, I herde nevere man so synge
As dide youre fader in the morwenynge.
Certes, it was of herte, al that he song.
And for to make his voys the moore strong,
He wolde so peyne hym that with bothe his yen
He moste wynke, so loude he wolde cryen,
And stonden on his tiptoon therwithal,
And strecche forth his nekke long and smal.
And eek he was of swich descrecioun
That ther nas no man in no regioun
That hym in song or wisedom myghte passe.
I have wel rad in -- daun burnel the asse --,
Among his vers, how that ther was a cok,
For that a preestes sone yaf hym a knok
Upon his leg whil he was yong and nyce,
He made hym for to lese his benefice.
But certeyn, ther nys no comparisoun
Bitwixe the wisedom and discrecioun
Of youre fader and of his subtiltee.
Now syngeth, sire, for seinte charitee;
Lat se, konne ye youre fader countrefete?
This chauntecleer his wynges gan to bete,
As man that koude his traysoun nat espie,
So was he ravysshed with his flaterie.
Allas! ye lordes, many a fals flatour
Is in youre courtes, and many a losengeour,
That plesen yow wel moore, by my feith,
Than he that soothfastnesse unto yow seith.
Redeth ecclesiaste of flaterye;
Beth war, ye lordes, of hir trecherye.
This chauntecleer stoond hye upon his toos,
Strecchynge his nekke, and heeld his eyen cloos,
And gan to crowe loude for the nones.
And daun russell the fox stirte up atones,
And by the gargat hente chauntecleer,
And on his bak toward the wode hym beer,
For yet ne was ther no man that hym sewed.
O destinee, that mayst nat been eschewed!
Allas, that chauntecleer fleigh fro the bemes!
Allas, his wyf ne roghte nat of dremes!
And on a friday fil al this meschaunce.
o venus, that art goddesse of plesaumce,
Syn that thy servant was this chauntecleer,
And in thy servyce dide al his poweer,
Moore for delit than world to multiplye,
Why woldestow suffre hym on thy day to dye?
O gaufred, deere maister soverayn,
That whan thy worthy kyng richard was slayn
With shot, compleynedest his deeth so soore,
Why ne hadde I now thy sentence and thy loore,
The friday for to chide, as diden ye?
For on a friday, soothly, slayn was he.
Thanne wolde I shewe yow how that I koude pleyne
For chauntecleres drede and for his peyne.
Certes, swich cry ne lamentacion,
Was nevere of ladyes maad whan ylion
Was wonne, and pirrus with his streite swerd,
Whan he hadde hent kyng priam by the berd,
And slayn hym, as seith us eneydos,
As maden alle the hennes in the clos,
Whan they had seyn of chauntecleer the sighte. Page 205
But sovereynly dame pertelote shrighte
Ful louder than dide hasdrubales wyf,
Whan that hir housbonde hadde lost his lyf,
And that the romayns hadde brend cartage.
She was so ful of torment and of rage
That wilfully into the fyr she sterte,
And brende hirselven with a stedefast herte.
O woful hennes, right so criden ye,
As, whan that nero brende the citee
Of rome, cryden senatoures wyves
For that hir husbondes losten alle hir lyves, --
Withouten gilt this nero hath hem slayn.
Now wole I turne to my tale agayn.
This sely wydwe and eek hir doghtres two
Herden thise hennes crie and maken wo,
And out at dores stirten they anon,
And syen the fox toward the grove gon,
And bar upon his bak the cok away,
And cryden, out! harrow! and weylaway!
Ha! ha! the fox! and after hym they ran,
And eek with staves many another man,
Ran colle oure dogge, and talbot and gerland,
And malkyn, with a dystaf in hir hand;
Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges,
So fered for the berkyng of the dogges
And shoutyng of the men and wommen eeke,
They ronne so hem thoughte hir herte breeke.
They yolleden as feendes doon in helle;
The dokes cryden as men wolde hem quelle;
The gees for feere flowen over the trees;
Out of the hyve cam the swarm of bees.
So hydous was the noyse, a, benedicitee!
Certes, he jakke straw and his meynee
Ne made nevere shoutes half so shrille
Whan that they wolden any flemyng kille,
As thilke day was maad upon the fox.
Of bras they broghten bemes, and of box,
Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and powped,
And therwithal they skriked and they howped.
It semed as that hevene sholde falle.
Now, goode man, I prey yow herkenth alle:
Lo, how fortune turneth sodeynly
The hope and pryde eek of hir enemy!
This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak,
In al his drede unto the fox he spak,
And seyde, sire, if that I were as ye,
Yet sholde I seyn, as wys God helpe me,
Turneth agayn, ye proude cherles alle!
A verray pestilence upon yow falle!
Now am I come unto the wodes syde;
Maugree youre heed, the cok shal heere abyde.
I wol hym ete, in feith, and that anon!
The fox answerde, in feith, it shal be don.
And as he spak that word, al sodeynly
This cok brak from his mouth delyverly,
And heighe upon a tree he fleigh anon.
And whan the fox saugh that the cok was gon,
Allas! quod he, o chauntecleer, allas!
I have to yow, quod he, ydoon trespas,
In as muche as I maked yow aferd
Whan I yow hente and broghte out of the yerd.
But, sire, I dide it in no wikke entente.
Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I mente;
I shal seye sooth to yow, God help me so!
Nay thanne, quod he, I shrewe us bothe two.
And first I shrewe myself, bothe blood and bones,
If thou bigyle me ofter than ones.
Thou shalt namoore, thurgh thy flaterye,
Do me to synge and wynke with myn ye;
For he that wynketh, whan he sholde see,
Al wilfully, God lat him nevere thee!
Nay, quod the fox, but God yeve hym meschaunce,
That is so undiscreet of governaunce
That jangleth whan he sholde holde his pees.
Lo, swich it is for to be recchelees
And necligent, and truste on flaterye.
But ye that holden this tale a folye,
As of a fox, or of a cok and hen,
Taketh the moralite, goode men.
For seint paul seith that al that writen is,
To oure doctrine it is ywrite, ywis;
Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille.
Now, goode god, if that it be thy wille,
As seith my lord, so make us alle goode men,
And brynge us to his heighe blisse! amen.
The Epilogue of the Nun's Priest's Tale
Sire Nonnes Preest," oure Hooste seide anoon,
I-blessed be thy breche, and every stoon!
This was a murie tale of Chauntecleer.
But by my trouthe, if thou were seculer,
Thou woldest ben a trede-foul aright.
For if thou have corage as thou hast myght,
Thee were nede of hennes, as I wene,
Ya, moo than seven tymes seventene.
See, whiche braunes hath this gentil preest
So gret a nekke, and swich a large breest!
He loketh as a sperhauk with his yen;
Him nedeth nat his colour for to dyen
With brasile, ne with greyn of Portyngale.
Now, sire, faire falle yow for youre tale!
And after that he, with ful merie chere,
Seide unto another, as ye shuln heere.