The early South-English legendary ; or, Lives of saints. I. Ms. Laud, 108, in the Bodleian library. Edited by Carl Horstmann.
Horstmann, Carl, b. 1851.
SEynt laurence guod man was : and in strong Martyrdom
he endede here on eorþe is lijf : and to þe Ioye of heuene he com.
Decius þe Aumperour : þat luþur was i-novȝ,
And is Iustise Valerian : þat to alle schrewe-hede drovȝ,
huy wenden and souȝten cristine Men : and ȝwane huy enie founde,
huy pineden heom with gret torment : and brouȝten heom sone to grounde.
huy comen*. [MS. comenen] and founden þene bischop sixte : and a-slowen him with gret wouȝ.
Seint laurence was is Ercedeckne : þat guod man was i-novȝ.
¶ þo þe bischop scholde beon i-nome : and he þat cas i-seiȝ,
Seint laurence, is Ercedekne : he cleopede, þat was him neiȝ :
Al þat tresor of holie churche : þat he to-gadere drovȝ [folio 147b]
Seint laurence he it bi-tok : to witien it wel i-novȝ.
þe tormentores, þat þis i-seiȝen : heom boþe huy nome faste,
Seint sixte and seint laurence : and strongue biendes on heom caste.
huy ladden seint sixte to heore false godes : and is tweie felawes al-so,
And scheweden heom heore false hymages : and beden heom a-loute þar-to;
Þo þis guode men nolden don so : ake on ore louerd huy crieden faste,
huy smiten of heore heuedes sone : and heore bodies þare caste.
Þe Aumperoure huy senden word : al ȝwat huy hadden i-do,
And hov seint laurence in prisone was : in strongue bendes, al-so,
And hou he al þat tresor hadde : of churchene to him i-drawe.*. [A v. om.]
Þe Aumperov[r] i-heorde þis : he was glad þarof and fawe :
For he þouȝte þat tresor al habbe : þei it were a-ȝen lawe.
¶ Þane holie Man he liet fette : and bi-fore him lede,
And bi-heold him wel stuyrneliche : and wrotþeliche*. [MS. wortþeliche] to him sede :
"Ȝware is þat tresor of þe churchene : þat þe was i-brouȝt?"
Seint laurence stod wel stille : and ne ansuerede*. [MS. ansueredede] him riȝt nouȝt.
Þe Aumperour was swiþe wroth : þo he ne ȝaf him non Answere;
A-non he wolde habbe defouled him : vnneþe he it*. [al. om.] niȝte for-bere.
he liet cleopie valerian : þat was is heiȝe Iustise, Page 341
"Nim," he seide, "þeosne Man : wel faste in alle wise
And win of him þat tresor : and make him don sacrefise,
Oþur bring him in swuch torment : þat oþure of him a-grise."
Þe Iustise nam þene holie Man : and liet him binde faste,
And bi-tok him Ypolite, þe knyȝt : In strong prisone to caste.
he brouȝte [him] in strong prisoun : and bi-lek him faste al-so,
with þeoues and with luþere Men : þat hadden þe Aumperoure mis-do.—
On heþene man þare was Inne : lucille was is name,
Þat hadde þare-inne so muche i-wope : for seoruwe and for schame,
Þat he weop out boþe is eiȝene : and al blynd was bi-come.
Seint laurence hadde reuþe : þat is siȝt him was bi-nome :
"bi-lief," he seide, "on Iesu crist : þat for us schedde is blod,
And afong cristinedom : ant þov schalt habbe þi siȝt wel guod."
"Ich bi-lieue," þis oþur seide : "on him with al mi þouȝt,
And for-sake alle þeos false godes : þat ne mowen me helpe nouȝt."
¶ Seint laurence baptizede him : and a-non-riȝt with þe dede
his siȝt him cam wel cler and guod. : þo bi-gan he a-non to grede :
"I-hered beo swete Iesu crist : þat here hath i·cud is miȝte
And þoruȝ is seriaunt, seint laurence : me hath i-sent mi siȝte!
For ase ȝe wuten euerechone : mi siȝt me was bi-nome,
And þoruȝ Iesu crist and seint laurence : it is me aȝein i-come."
Þis tyþingue sprong sone wide : so þat oþore i-nowe
Þat wide a-boute blinde weren : þuder-ward faste huy drowe.
¶ Þo Ypolite þis i-saiȝ : þat ore louerd hadde swuch miȝte
Þat alle þe blinde þat þudere comen : anon hadden heore siȝte,
[folio 148] "Merci!" he criede, "seint laurence" : and to Iesu*. [MS. Iusu.] crist him nam,
And he, and al is maynie : nomen cristine-dom.
Valerian þare-after-ward sone : ase it cam in is þouȝte,
Sende to ypolite þe knyȝt : þat he seint laurence him brouȝte.
"Nov, laurence," quath ypolite : "forth ich mot þe lede."
"Ȝe, go we forth," seide laurence : "ne schal us no-þing drede :
Þe Ioye of heouene is al-ȝare : to us boþe in alle wise."
Þo ladde ypolit laurence forth : bi-fore þe luþere Iustise.
Valerian þe Iustise : bi-heold laurence faste, Page 342
And seide, "bel ami, hov longue : schal ower folie i-laste?
Tuyrn þi þouȝt, ich rede, sone : and schewe us þat tresour
Of churchene þat þe was bi-take : and de-liuere it þe Aumperour!"
¶ "Sire Iustise," seint laurence seide : "ȝif þov onder-stanst resoun,
Þov wost wel þat ich habbe i-leye : longue in þat prisoun,
So þat i-ne habbe nouȝt þat tresor : of churche here nov ȝare;
Ake ȝif me þreo dawes furst : þat ich mouwe a-boute fare,
And ich it wolle to-gadere bringue : and here bi-fore þe lede."
Þo was þe Iustise swyþe glad : of wordes þat he sede;
For hope of*. [orig. op] þat grete tresor : and for none oþur*. [MS. oþur þur] þingue,
he ȝaf him respit of þreo dawes : þat tresor forth to bringue,
And bi-tok him ypolite in warde : þat he him aȝein brouȝte.
Forth huy wenden wide a-boute : and guod tresor huy souȝte :
Alle þe men þat huy miȝten finde : þat pouere and feble were,
In sicnesse oþur in miseise : to-gadere huy brouȝten þere,
And in ypolitus house hudden heom : And wenden to þe Aumperour.
Þe Aumperour heom Axede sone : ȝware were þat tresour.
¶ "Sire," seide seint laurence : "redi it is a-non."
he wende out after þe selie Men : and bad heom with him gon.
In-to þe paleis*. [orig. palais] he ladde heom forth : bi-fore þe Aumperour,
"Lo, sire," he seide, "ich habbe i-brouȝt : holi churche tresour.
Þis tresour is swiþe holi and guod : and euere it wole i-laste,
hit ne schal neuere wanie : ake euere wexe faste;
In eche londe it is redi : ȝwodere-so ani man wiende;
Þare-with Man may þe blisse of heouene : bugge with-outen ende."*. [al. 2 vv. more.]
"Ei, traitre," seide þe Aumperour : "is it i-come here-to?
hastþov us þus to scorn i-driue? : þov ne schalt non-more so."
he liet him streope nakede a-non : and with smarte scourgene him bete,
Þat blod orn bi is limes a-doun : boþe in lengþe and in grete (!).
Þo seide þis holie man : "louerd, ich þonkie þe
Þat a-mong þine holie compaynie : þi wille is to bringue me.
And þov, wrechche luþere þing : þov art in gret torment i-wis,
In wrathþe and soruwe of heorte : and neuere þe worse me nis."
"A, traytour," seide þis luþere Man : "neltþov non-oþur singue?"
Alle manere of tormenz : bi-fore him he liet bringue, Page 343
Hokes of .Ire., and ȝweoles also : with rasores al-a-boute,
And a bed of Ire with kene pikes : al brenninde with-oute, [folio 148b]
Scourgene of led and raketeiȝes : and oþere wel mani on,
Þat we ne conne nouȝt alle tellen : on eorþe nouþe nis swuch non.
"Lo," seide þe Aumperour : "bi-hold nouþe al-a-boute,
And honovre ore godes, ich rede, a-non : oþur herto þov schalt loute;*. [al. route]
For alle þe tormenz þat þov i-sixt : and ȝeot wel mo þer-to,
bote þov tuyrne þi þouȝt a-non : on þi bodi schullen beo i-do."
¶ "Þov wrechche," seide þis holie man : "mi wille hath euere i-beo
For-to come to þis murie solas : þat ich here nouþe i-seo.
Wel mo tormenz þane here beoth : to þe beoth i-mad al-ȝare
In þe pine of helle : ȝwane ich schal to þe Ioye of heuene fare."
Decius þe Aumperour þo : fierde ase he were wod.
Þe compaynie of tormentores : wel prest bi-fore him stod :
he het heom with grete staues : leggen on him to grounde.
Þe tormentores leiden on him : and maden him mani a wounde.
Ase huy beoten þis holie bodi : seint laurence him sede :
"Þou wrechche, nouþe þov miȝt i-seo : þat I-nabbe of þe no drede."
"Nimez a-non," quath þe Aumperour : "and makiez is torment more!"
Wel redie weren þe schrewes alle : to don aftur is lore :
Irene plates al brenninde : In is woundes huy duden so sore.
"Swete louerd," þis holi man seide : "ich bidde þe milce and ore :
For þo ich was harde a-coupet : I-ne for-sok þe nouȝt,
Ake þo me Axeden me, ich was a-knowe of þe : with worde and with þouȝt."
Þo decius i-heorde þis : for wrathþe he gan grede,
And liet nime scourgene : with grete bottene*. [al. battes] of lede
And liet beten þis holi man : þat is bones breken some;
Þat he was op-on þe pointe of deth : and is strencþe neiȝ bi-nome.
¶ "Louerd," he seide, "Iesu crist : þat þoledest deth [for*. [added later]] me,
Onder-fong, ȝwane ich heonnes wiende : mine soule, ich bidde þe!"
Þo cam þare a swete voiz : a-doun fram heuene anon,
Þat þeos wordes to him seide : þat huy heorden ech-on :
"Ȝeot þe beoth for godes loue : tormentes*. [MS. tormentores] to come wel mo."
¶ Þo Decius i-heorde þis : for wrathþe he gradde and wo : Page 344
"Lo," he seide, "mine barones : þat mi conseileres ȝe beoth,
Conseil nimez here-of*. [al. To con|seile me] in mine court : of þingue þat ȝe i-seoth :
Ȝe i-heorez wel hov þe deuele[n] : with him spekez nov here—
For of þing þat ȝe i-heorez alle : he ne may him nouȝt skere.
huy comieth here and confortiez him : ase ȝe i-heorez ech-on.
Strong wichche [he] is, þat ne doutez : of ore godes ech-on;
Wel hardi he is, for he ne tellez : of alle ore tormenz non.
bi þe fei þat ich owe to mahun : an-oþur it schal gon!"
Scourgene he liet nime of Ire : þat harde weren i-novȝ,
And is flesch, þat was er bi-leued : þare-with he*. [al. me] to-gnovȝ.
Þo is flesch þus defouled was : þat reovþe it was to seo,
"Þeof," he seide, "ȝeot þov schalt : In wel more torment beo."
his chekene and is mouth a-boute : he liet*. [MS. liete] bete with stones, [folio 149]
And daschte þe tiez out of is heued : and to-breken is bones.
"Þov wrechche," he seide, "bi-þiench þi-seolf : and torne sone þi þouȝt!"
¶ "Sire Aumperour," laurence seide : "þov spext al embe nouȝt :
I-nelle honovri none oþur godes : þane Iesus, in none wise;
For him ich louie, and euere wolle : don him sacrefise."
Þo Decius him hadde i-do : al þat he couþe bi-þenche,
"Certes," he seide, "þov schalt beo ded : ne schaltþov nouȝt so at|blenche."
Strong fuyr he lieth maken and gret : and a gredire þar-on sette,
Þene holie Man, seint laurence : þar-to he liet fette
And al-a-long opon þe gredire : ouer þe fure him caste.
Þe tormentores stoden al-a-boute : and bleowen þat fuyr wel faste;
with Irene pikes huy pulten him : and schouen In*. [al. him] faste a-boue.
Louerd, muche was þe pyne : þat he soffrede for þi loue!
Þat fuyr bi-neoþe rostede him : al quic mid flesch and blode,
And þe Irene pikes in is flesch : ful bitterliche huy wode.
Seint laurence bi-gan to speke [þo] : and to þe Aumperore he sede :
"Þov luþere wrechche, it ne deriez me nouȝt : al þine luþere dede.
Nim ȝeme þat þine fuyrie coles : wel muche a-kelez me,
And into þe strongue fuyre of helle : huy schullen bringue þe.
"LOuerd Iesu crist, þov it wost : I-ne habbe þe nouȝt for-sake,
Ake clanliche mi bodi and al mi þouȝt : þe ich habbe bi-take." Page 345
Þo bi-heold he þene Aumperour : with fair semblaunt and louvȝ :
"Þov wrechche," he seide, "þou hast i-rosted : þulke one side i-nouȝ :
Torne hire opward and .et. hire nouþe : for ȝare heo is þare-to;
And wiend and roste þat oþur side : þat heo beo i-novȝ al-so."*. [al. 2 vv. more.]
¶ Þo bi-heold he up on heiȝ : and toward heouene is Eyene caste,
And seide : "swete Iesu crist : Ich þonki þe wel faste
Þat ich it habbe of-serued : at þine ȝates In to wiende."
With þulke worde he deide þo : and broute is lijf to ende.*. [al. 2 vv. more.]
Ypolit, þe guode knyȝt : þat he brouȝte to cristine-dom,
And þat him wuste in prisone .er : swyþe sori bi-com :
bi niȝte he wende stillede-liche : and þis holie bodi he nom
And burede hit wel stillede-liche : after is harde dom.
Louerd, muche was þe pine : þat he þolede here :
hit*. [MS. his] is wel riȝt þat he beo : Apostles i-fere.
Novþe, Iesu, for þe grete pine : þat seint laurence here hadde,
Vs bringue to þulke Ioye : þat þine Aungels his soule ladde. Amen.