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.
Page  391

58 hic incipit uita sancti Siluestri.

SEint Siluestre pope was : þe furste þat þare cam
þat euere hadde Rome in pes : to holde up cristindom;
For alle þat comen bi-fore him : luþere Men to-drowe
And harleden heom out of þe londe : and with tormens manie huy slowe.
Ake ore louerdes miȝhte euere wax : and þe strencþe of cristindom,
So þat it was in betere pays : þo seint siluestre cam.
¶ It bi-fel þat he prechede þe Aumperoure : Costantin þat was þo;
þat he grauntede him þe churche of Rome : in pays with-outen wo.
Ake erore he hadde wo i-nouȝh : are it miȝhte þar-to astonde:
For in prisone he was ofte ido : and ofte i-driue out of londe.
¶ A luþur Iustise cam in a time : in-to þe contreye a-boute
For-to tormenti cristine men : and to*. [overlined.] harli with gret route;
he liet martri ane holie Man : þat hiet thymothe,
And liet him sethþe in a foul stude : casten with gret vilte.
Seint siluestre wente a-niȝht : and þat bodi þannes drouȝh
And burede it with gret honour : in a fair place i-nouȝh.
¶ þe Iustise sethþe it vnder-ȝat : siluestre faste he nam, [folio 166b]
And seide, "þeof, þou schalt habbe : þat ilke sulue dom
Ȝwy laddest þou a-wei þanne þeof trichour? : ȝwodere hastþou him -brouȝt?"
"Certes, sire," quath siluestre : "þeof ne trichour nas he nouȝht;
Ake þou art swuch on, ich wot it wel : and godes martyr he is.
And þat þou þare-of þe soþe i-seo : to-niȝht þou schalt, i-wis,
In strongue deþe a-strangled [be] : and wiende to þe pine of helle."
"A, þeof traitour," quath þe Iustise : "raþer ichulle þe a-quelle."
¶ He liet nime þis holie man : and in strong prisone caste,
For-to he bi-seiȝe him in ȝwat deþe : he were i-brouȝt ate laste.
his soper he liet greiþi faire : ase he was i-woned to do,
And with grete pruyte and nobleiȝe : he eode and sat þar-to.
A fisches bon schet in is þrote : ase he sat and .et.,
þat neuereft ne cam out a-ȝein : are he is lijf fur-liet;
For he was a-choked a-non : and toward þe deþe he drouȝh,
Vnneþe he liuede for-to mid-niȝht : with pine and seoruwe i-nov. Page  392
¶ His Men þat weren is conseilers : comen eorninde faste
Into þe prisone to siluestre : and sore huy weren a-gaste,
And seiden, "leoue louerd, fur-ȝif us : þat we þe habbez mis-do!
Gret wreche to ore Maister cam for þe : ne lat nouȝht to us so!
Louerd, graunte us þi guode wille : we nelleth mis-don þe non-more;
Go forth ȝware þi wille is : we biddeth þe milce and ore."
¶ þis guode man wende out of prison : with honour i-novȝ,
Riȝht ase Men þane luþere Iustise : to-ward þe eorþe drovȝ.
þat folk bi-leueden heore owene prince : þat huy heolden er so heiȝe,
And alle siweden þis holi man : for miracle þat huy seien.
Sorie weren þe luþere Men þo : for heore lawe eode al-to nauȝhte;
And þe cristine Men weren glade i-nouȝ : for al þe pris huy cauȝhte.
Mani heþene Man þare-fore : tornede to cristindom,
And wel þe betere pais þoruȝ al þe lond : a-mong cristine men bi-cam.
¶ Seint siluestre bi-lefde pope : in guod pais þo i-novȝ
And muche folk wide a-boute : to godes lawe þare drouȝ.
Preostes he made and deknene al-so : and he him-sulf furst bi-founde
þe ordres to maken a-ȝein midewynter : þat men halt ȝuy[t] in al þe londe.
Al-so he bi-fond þat Men scholden : maken þe seruise
with linnene cloth clene i-wasche : ope þe weuede in alle wise,
And helie with clene linnene cloth : ore louerdes flechs and is blod,
And noþer in pal ne in seolke : nere it no so guod—
¶ And þat was, for, þo ore louerd : bouȝte us with is blode,
Iosep of Aramathie : nam him a-doun of þe rode
And wond him in ȝwiȝht linnene cloth : ase þe godspel hath i-seid,
Ake noþur in seolke ne in sendel : þo þat swete flesch was ded.
In swuch cloth ase is swete flechs : was i-wounde þo,
his swete flechs schal ope þe weued : beon i-wounden euere-mo.
þis guode Man þreo-and-twenti ȝer : pope was at rome
And þreo monþes and endleoue dawes : are is ende-day him come. [folio 167]
And þo he deide in godes seruise : ase he hadde longue þare-in i-beo,
I-bured he was bi-side rome : for-soþe, Milene þreo.
Nou god for is swete loue : us graunti þulke blisse
þat seint siluestre is inne : þat we þar-of ne misse.