The complete works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Vol. 7. Chaucerian and other pieces / edited from numerous mauscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat.

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The complete works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Vol. 7. Chaucerian and other pieces / edited from numerous mauscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat.
Chaucer, Geoffrey, -1400.
Oxford :: Clarendon Press,

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"The complete works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Vol. 7. Chaucerian and other pieces / edited from numerous mauscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat." In the digital collection Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 18, 2024.


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VERY welth may not be founden in al this worlde; and that is wel sene. Lo! how in my mooste comfort, as I wende and moost supposed to have had ful answere of my contrary thoughtes, sodaynly it was vanisshed. And al the workes of man faren in the same wyse; whan folk wenen best her entent for to [ 5] have and willes to perfourme, anon chaunging of the lift syde to the right halve tourneth it so clene in-to another kynde, that never shal it come to the first plyte in doinge.

O this wonderful steering so soone otherwysed out of knowinge! But for my purpos was at the beginninge, and so dureth yet, if god [ 10] of his grace tyme wol me graunt, I thinke to perfourme this worke, as I have begonne, in love; after as my thinne wit, with inspiracion of him that hildeth al grace, wol suffre. Grevously, god wot, have I suffred a greet throwe that the Romayne emperour, which in unitè of love shulde acorde, and every with [ 15] other * * * * in cause of other to avaunce; and namely, sithe this empyre [nedeth] to be corrected of so many sectes in heresie of faith, of service, o[f] rule in loves religion. Trewly, al were it but to shende erroneous opinions, I may it no lenger suffre. For many men there ben that sayn love to be in gravel and sande, [ 20] that with see ebbinge and flowinge woweth, as riches that sodaynly vanissheth. And some sayn that love shulde be in windy blastes, that stoundmele turneth as a phane, and glorie of renomè, which after lustes of the varyaunt people is areysed or stilled.

Many also wenen that in the sonne and the moone and other [ 25] sterres love shulde ben founden; for among al other planettes moste soveraynly they shynen, as dignitees in reverence of estates rather than good han and occupyen. Ful many also there ben that in okes and in huge postes supposen love to ben grounded, as in strength and in might, whiche mowen not helpen their owne [ 30]

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wrecchidnesse, whan they ginne to falle. But [of] suche diversitè of sectes, ayenst the rightful beleve of love, these errours ben forth spredde, that loves servantes in trewe rule and stedfast fayth in no place daren apere. Thus irrecuperable joy is went, and anoy endless is entred. For no man aright reproveth suche errours, [ 35] but [men] confirmen their wordes, and sayn, that badde is noble good, and goodnesse is badde; to which folk the prophete biddeth wo without ende.

Also manye tonges of greet false techinges in gylinge maner, principally in my tymes, not only with wordes but also with armes, [ 40] loves servauntes and professe in his religion of trewe rule pursewen, to confounden and to distroyen. And for as moche as holy †faders, that of our Christen fayth aproved and strengthed to the Jewes, as to men resonable and of divinitè lerned, proved thilke fayth with resones, and with auctoritès of the olde testament and of the newe, [ 45] her pertinacie to distroy: but to paynims, that for beestes and houndes were holde, to putte hem out of their errour, was †miracle of god shewed. These thinges were figured by cominge of th'angel to the shepherdes, and by the sterre to paynims kinges; as who sayth: angel resonable to resonable creature, and sterre of miracle [ 50] to people bestial not lerned, wern sent to enforme. But I, lovers clerk, in al my conning and with al my mightes, trewly I have no suche grace in vertue of miracles, ne for no discomfit falsheedes suffyseth not auctoritès alone; sithen that suche [arn] heretikes and maintaynours of falsitès. Wherfore I wot wel, sithen that [ 55] they ben men, and reson is approved in hem, the clowde of errour hath her reson beyond probable resons, whiche that cacchende wit rightfully may not with-sitte. By my travaylinge studie I have ordeyned hem, †whiche that auctoritè, misglosed by mannes reson, to graunt shal ben enduced. [ 60]

Now ginneth my penne to quake, to thinken on the sentences of the envyous people, whiche alway ben redy, both ryder and goer, to scorne and to jape this leude book; and me, for rancour and hate in their hertes, they shullen so dispyse, that although my book be leude, yet shal it ben more leude holden, and by [ 65] wicked wordes in many maner apayred. Certes, me thinketh,

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[of] the sowne of their badde speche right now is ful bothe myne eeres. O good precious Margaryte, myne herte shulde wepe if I wiste ye token hede of suche maner speche; but trewly, I wot wel, in that your wysdom shal not asterte. For of god, maker of [ 70] kynde, witnesse I took, that for none envy ne yvel have I drawe this mater togider; but only for goodnesse to maintayn, and errours in falsetees to distroy. Wherfore (as I sayd) with reson I thinke, thilke forsayd errours to distroye and dequace.

These resons and suche other, if they enduce men, in loves [ 75] service, trewe to beleve of parfit blisse, yet to ful faithe in cre∣dence of deserte fully mowe they nat suffyse; sithen 'faith hath no merite of mede, whan mannes reson sheweth experience in doing.' For utterly no reson the parfit blisse of love by no waye may make to be comprehended. Lo! what is a parcel of lovers [ 80] joye? Parfit science, in good service, of their desyre to compre∣hende in bodily doinge the lykinge of the soule; not as by a glasse to have contemplacion of tyme cominge, but thilke first imagined and thought after face to face in beholding. What herte, what reson, what understandinge can make his heven to be [ 85] feled and knowe, without assaye in doinge? Certes, noon. Sithen thanne of love cometh suche fruite in blisse, and love in him-selfe is the most among other vertues, as clerkes sayn; the seed of suche springinge in al places, in al countreys, in al worldes shulde ben sowe. [ 90]

But o! welawaye! thilke seed is forsake, and †mowe not ben suffred, the lond-tillers to sette a-werke, without medlinge of cockle; badde wedes whiche somtyme stonken †han caught the name of love among idiotes and badde-meninge people. Never-the-later, yet how-so-it-be that men clepe thilke †thing preciousest [ 95] in kynde, with many eke-names, that other thinges that the soule yeven the ilke noble name, it sheweth wel that in a maner men have a greet lykinge in worshippinge of thilke name. Wherfore this worke have I writte; and to thee, tytled of Loves name, I have it avowed in a maner of sacrifyse; that, where-ever it be [ 100] rad, it mowe in merite, by the excellence of thilke name, the more wexe in authoritè and worshippe of takinge in hede; and to

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what entent it was ordayned, the inseëres mowen ben moved. Every thing to whom is owande occasion don as for his ende, Aristotle supposeth that the actes of every thinge ben in a maner [ 105] his final cause. A final cause is noblerer, or els even as noble, as thilke thing that is finally to thilke ende; wherfore accion of thinge everlasting is demed to be eternal, and not temporal; sithen it is his final cause. Right so the actes of my boke 'Love,' and love is noble; wherfore, though my book be leude, the cause [ 110] with which I am stered, and for whom I ought it doon, noble forsothe ben bothe. But bycause that in conninge I am yong, and can yet but crepe, this leude A. b. c. have I set in-to lern∣ing; for I can not passen the telling of three as yet. And if god wil, in shorte tyme, I shal amende this leudnesse in joininge [ 115] syllables; whiche thing, for dulnesse of witte, I may not in three letters declare. For trewly I saye, the goodnesse of my Margaryte∣perle wolde yeve mater in endyting to many clerkes; certes, her mercy is more to me swetter than any livinges; wherfore my lippes mowen not suffyse, in speking of her ful laude and wor∣shippe [ 120] as they shulde. But who is that [wolde be wyse] in knowing of the orders of heven, and putteth his resones in the erthe? I forsothe may not, with blere eyen, the shyning sonne of vertue in bright whele of this Margaryte beholde; therfore as yet I may her not discryve in vertue as I wolde. In tyme cominge, [ 125] in another tretyse, thorow goddes grace, this sonne in clerenesse of vertue to be-knowe, and how she enlumineth al this day, I thinke to declare.


IN this mene whyle this comfortable lady gan singe a wonder mater of endytinge in Latin; but trewly, the noble colours in rethorik wyse knitte were so craftely, that my conning wol not strecche to remembre; but the sentence, I trowe, somdel have I in mynde. Certes, they were wonder swete of sowne, and they [ 5] were touched al in lamentacion wyse, and by no werbles of myrthe. Lo! thus gan she singe in Latin, as I may constrewe it in our Englisshe tonge.

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'Alas! that these hevenly bodyes their light and course shewen, as nature yave hem in commaundement at the ginning of the first [ 10] age; but these thinges in free choice of reson han non under∣stondinge. But man that ought to passe al thing of doinge, of right course in kynde, over-whelmed sothnesse by wrongful tytle, and hath drawen the sterre of envye to gon by his syde, that the clips of me, that shulde be his shynande sonne, so ofte is seye, [ 15] that it wened thilke errour, thorow hem come in, shulde ben myn owne defaute. Trewly, therfore, I have me withdrawe, and mad my dwellinge out of lande in an yle by my-selfe, in the occian closed; and yet sayn there many, they have me harberowed; but, god wot, they faylen. These thinges me greven to thinke, and [ 20] namely on passed gladnesse, that in this worlde was wont me disporte of highe and lowe; and now it is fayled; they that wolden maystries me have in thilke stoundes. In heven on highe, above Saturnes sphere, in sesonable tyme were they lodged; but now come queynte counsailours that in no house [ 25] wol suffre me sojourne, wherof is pitè; and yet sayn some that they me have in celler with wyne shed; in gernere, there corn is layd covered with whete; in sacke, sowed with wolle; in purse, with money faste knit; among pannes mouled in a †whicche; in presse, among clothes layd, with riche pelure arayed; in stable, [ 30] among hors and other beestes, as hogges, sheep, and neet; and in many other wyse. But thou, maker of light (in winking of thyn eye the sonne is queynt), wost right wel that I in trewe name was never thus herberowed.

Somtyme, toforn the sonne in the seventh partie was smiten, [ 35] I bar both crosse and mytre, to yeve it where I wolde. With me the pope wente a-fote; and I tho was worshipped of al holy church. Kinges baden me their crownes holden. The law was set as it shuld; tofore the juge, as wel the poore durste shewe his greef as the riche, for al his money. I defended tho taylages, [ 40] and was redy for the poore to paye. I made grete feestes in my tyme, and noble songes, and maryed damoselles of gentil feture, withouten golde or other richesse. Poore clerkes, for witte of schole, I sette in churches, and made suche persones to preche;

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and tho was service in holy churche honest and devout, in [ 45] plesaunce bothe of god and of the people. But now the leude for symonye is avaunced, and shendeth al holy churche. Now is steward, for his achates; now †is courtiour, for his debates; now is eschetour, for his wronges; now is losel, for his songes, per∣soner; and [hath his] provendre alone, with whiche manye [ 50] thrifty shulde encrese. And yet is this shrewe behynde; free herte is forsake; and losengeour is take. Lo! it acordeth; for suche there ben that voluntarie lustes haunten in courte with ribaudye, that til midnight and more wol playe and wake, but in the churche at matins he is behynde, for yvel disposicion of his [ 55] stomake; therfore he shulde ete bene-breed (and so did his syre) his estate ther-with to strengthen. His auter is broke, and lowe lyth, in poynte to gon to the erthe; but his hors muste ben esy and hye, to bere him over grete waters. His chalice poore, but he hath riche cuppes. No towayle but a shete, there god [ 60] shal ben handled; and on his mete-borde there shal ben bord-clothes and towelles many payre. At masse serveth but a cler∣gion; fyve squiers in hal. Poore chaunsel, open holes in every syde; beddes of silke, with tapites going al aboute his chambre. Poore masse-book and leud chapelayn, and broken surplice with [ 65] many an hole; good houndes and many, to hunte after hart and hare, to fede in their feestes. Of poore men have they greet care; for they ever crave and nothing offren, they wolden have hem dolven! But among legistres there dar I not come; my doinge[s], they sayn, maken hem nedy. They ne wolde for [ 70] nothing have me in town; for than were tort and †force nought worth an hawe about, and plesen no men, but thilk grevous and torcious ben in might and in doing. These thinges to-forn-sayd mowe wel, if men liste, ryme; trewly, they acorde nothing. And for-as-moch as al thinges by me shulden of right ben governed, [ 75] I am sory to see that governaunce fayleth, as thus: to sene smale and lowe governe the hye and bodies above. Certes, that policye is naught; it is forbode by them that of governaunce treten and enformen. And right as beestly wit shulde ben

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subject to reson, so erthly power in it-selfe, the lower shulde ben [ 80] subject to the hygher. What is worth thy body, but it be governed with thy soule? Right so litel or naught is worth erthely power, but if reignatif prudence in heedes governe the smale; to whiche heedes the smale owen to obey and suffre in their governaunce. But soverainnesse ayenward shulde thinke in [ 85] this wyse: "I am servaunt of these creatures to me delivered, not lord, but defendour; not mayster, but enfourmer; not possessour, but in possession; and to hem liche a tree in whiche sparowes shullen stelen, her birdes to norisshe and forth bringe, under suretee ayenst al raveynous foules and beestes, and not to [ 90] be tyraunt them-selfe." And than the smale, in reste and quiete, by the heedes wel disposed, owen for their soveraynes helth and prosperitè to pray, and in other doinges in maintenaunce therof performe, withouten other administracion in rule of any maner governaunce. And they wit have in hem, and grace to come to [ 95] suche thinges, yet shulde they cese til their heedes them cleped, although profit and plesaunce shulde folowe. But trewly, other governaunce ne other medlinge ought they not to clayme, ne the heedes on hem to putte. Trewly, amonges cosinage dar I not come, but-if richesse be my mene; sothly, she and other [ 100] bodily goodes maketh nigh cosinage, ther never propinquitè ne alyaunce in lyve was ne shulde have be, nere it for her medling maners; wherfore kindly am I not ther leged. Povert of kinred is behynde; richesse suffreth him to passe; truly he saith, he com never of Japhetes childre. Whereof I am sory that [ 105] Japhetes children, for povert, in no linage ben rekened, and Caynes children, for riches, be maked Japhetes heires. Alas! this is a wonder chaunge bitwene tho two Noës children, sithen that of Japhetes ofspring comeden knightes, and of Cayn discended the lyne of servage to his brothers childre. Lo! how gentillesse [ 110] and servage, as cosins, bothe discended out of two brethern of one body! Wherfore I saye in sothnesse, that gentilesse in kinrede †maketh not gentil linage in succession, without desert of a mans own selfe. Where is now the lyne of Alisaundre the noble, or els of Hector of Troye? Who is discended of right [ 115] bloode of lyne fro king Artour? Pardè, sir Perdicas, whom that

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Alisandre made to ben his heire in Grece, was of no kinges bloode; his dame was a tombestere. Of what kinred ben the gentiles in our dayes? I trow therfore, if any good be in gen∣tilesse, it is only that it semeth a maner of necessitè be input to [ 120] gentilmen, that they shulden not varyen fro the vertues of their auncestres. Certes, al maner linage of men ben evenliche in birth; for oon †fader, maker of al goodnes, enformed hem al, and al mortal folk of one sede arn greyned. Wherto avaunt men of her linage, in cosinage or in †elde-faders? Loke now the gin∣ning, [ 125] and to god, maker of mans person; there is no clerk ne no worthy in gentilesse; and he that norissheth his †corage with vyces and unresonable lustes, and leveth the kynde course, to whiche ende him brought forth his birthe, trewly, he is ungentil, and among †cherles may ben nempned. And therfore, he that [ 130] wol ben gentil, he mot daunten his flesshe fro vyces that causen ungentilnesse, and leve also reignes of wicked lustes, and drawe to him vertue, that in al places gentilnesse gentilmen maketh. And so speke I, in feminine gendre in general, of tho persones, at the reverence of one whom every wight honoureth; for her [ 135] bountee and her noblesse y-made her to god so dere, that his moder she became; and she me hath had so greet in worship, that I nil for nothing in open declare, that in any thinge ayenst her secte may so wene. For al vertue and al worthinesse of plesaunce in hem haboundeth. And although I wolde any-thing speke, [ 140] trewly I can not; I may fynde in yvel of hem no maner mater.'


RIGHT with these wordes she stinte of that lamentable melodye; and I gan with a lyvely herte to praye, if that it were lyking unto her noble grace, she wolde her deyne to declare me the mater that firste was begonne, in which she lefte and sainte to speke beforn she gan to singe. [ 5]

'O,' quod she, 'this is no newe thing to me, to sene you men desyren after mater, whiche your-selfe caused to voyde.'

'Ah, good lady,' quod I, 'in whom victorie of strength is proved above al other thing, after the jugement of Esdram, whos lordship

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al lignes: who is, that right as emperour hem commaundeth, [ 10] whether thilke ben not women, in whos lyknesse to me ye aperen? For right as man halt the principaltè of al thing under his be∣inge, in the masculyne gender; and no mo genders ben there but masculyn and femenyne; al the remenaunt ben no gendres but of grace, in facultee of grammer: right so, in the femenyne, the [ 15] women holden the upperest degree of al thinges under thilke gendre conteyned. Who bringeth forth kinges, whiche that ben lordes of see and of erthe; and al peoples of women ben born. They norisshe hem that graffen vynes; they maken men comfort in their gladde cheres. Her sorowe is deth to mannes herte. [ 20] Without women, the being of men were impossible. They conne with their swetnesse the crewel herte ravisshe, and make it meke, buxom, and benigne, without violence mevinge. In beautee of their eyen, or els of other maner fetures, is al mens desyres; ye, more than in golde, precious stones, either any richesse. [ 25] And in this degree, lady, your-selfe many hertes of men have so bounden, that parfit blisse in womankynde to ben men wenen, and in nothinge els. Also, lady, the goodnesse, the vertue of women, by propertè of discrecion, is so wel knowen, by litelnesse of malice, that desyre to a good asker by no waye conne they [ 30] warne. And ye thanne, that wol not passe the kynde werchinge of your sectes by general discrecion, I wot wel, ye wol so enclyne to my prayere, that grace of my requeste shal fully ben graunted.'

'Certes,' quod she, 'thus for the more parte fareth al mankynde, to praye and to crye after womans grace, and fayne many fan∣tasyes [ 35] to make hertes enclyne to your desyres. And whan these sely women, for freeltè of their kynde, beleven your wordes, and wenen al be gospel the promise of your behestes, than graunt[en] they to you their hertes, and fulfillen your lustes, wherthrough their libertè in maystreship that they toforn had is thralled; and [ 40] so maked soverayn and to be prayed, that first was servaunt, and voice of prayer used. Anon as filled is your lust, many of you be so trewe, that litel hede take ye of suche kyndnesse; but with traysoun anon ye thinke hem begyle, and let light of that thing whiche firste ye maked to you wonders dere; so what [ 45] thing to women it is to loven any wight er she him wel knowe, and have him proved in many halfe! For every glittring thing

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is nat gold; and under colour of fayre speche many vices may be hid and conseled. Therfore I rede no wight to trust on you to rathe; mens chere and her speche right gyleful is ful ofte. [ 50] Wherfore without good assay, it is nat worth on many †of you to truste. Trewly, it is right kyndely to every man that thinketh women betraye, and shewen outward al goodnesse, til he have his wil performed. Lo! the bird is begyled with the mery voice of the foulers whistel. Whan a woman is closed in your nette, [ 55] than wol ye causes fynden, and bere unkyndenesse her †on hande, or falsetè upon her putte, your owne malicious trayson with suche thinge to excuse. Lo! than han women non other wreche in vengeaunce, but †blobere and wepe til hem list stint, and sorily her mishap complayne; and is put in-to wening that [ 60] al men ben so untrewe. How often have men chaunged her loves in a litel whyle, or els, for fayling their wil, in their places hem set! For fren[d]ship shal be oon, and fame with another him list for to have, and a thirde for delyt; or els were he lost bothe in packe and in clothes! Is this fair? Nay, god wot. [ 65] I may nat telle, by thousande partes, the wronges in trechery of suche false people; for make they never so good a bond, al sette ye at a myte whan your hert tourneth. And they that wenen for sorowe of you deye, the pitè of your false herte is flowe out of towne. Alas! therfore, that ever any woman wolde take [ 70] any wight in her grace, til she knowe, at the ful, on whom she might at al assayes truste! Women con no more craft in queynt knowinge, to understande the false disceyvable conjectementes of mannes begylinges. Lo! how it fareth; though ye men gronen and cryen, certes, it is but disceyt; and that preveth wel [ 75] by th'endes in your werkinge. How many women have ben lorn, and with shame foule shent by long-lastinge tyme, whiche thorow mennes gyle have ben disceyved? Ever their fame shal dure, and their dedes [ben] rad and songe in many londes; that they han don, recoveren shal they never; but alway ben demed [ 80] lightly, in suche plyte a-yen shulde they falle. Of whiche slaunders and tenes ye false men and wicked ben the verey causes; on you by right ought these shames and these reproves al hoolly discende.

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Thus arn ye al nighe untrewe; for al your fayre speche, your herte is ful fickel. What cause han ye women to dispyse? Better [ 85] fruite than they ben, ne swetter spyces to your behove, mowe ye not fynde, as far as worldly bodyes strecchen. Loke to their forminge, at the making of their persones by god in joye of paradyce! For goodnesse, of mans propre body were they maked, after the sawes of the bible, rehersing goddes wordes in [ 90] this wyse: "It is good to mankynde that we make to him an helper." Lo! in paradyse, for your helpe, was this tree graffed, out of whiche al linage of man discendeth. If a man be noble frute, of noble frute it is sprongen; the blisse of paradyse, to mennes sory hertes, yet in this tree abydeth. O! noble helpes [ 95] ben these trees, and gentil jewel to ben worshipped of every good creature! He that hem anoyeth doth his owne shame; it is a comfortable perle ayenst al tenes. Every company is mirthed by their present being. Trewly, I wiste never vertue, but a woman were therof the rote. What is heven the worse though Sarazins [ 100] on it lyen? Is your fayth untrewe, though †renegates maken theron lesinges? If the fyr doth any wight brenne, blame his owne wit that put him-selfe so far in the hete. Is not fyr gen∣tillest and most comfortable element amonges al other? Fyr is cheef werker in fortheringe sustenaunce to mankynde. Shal [ 105] fyr ben blamed for it brende a foole naturelly, by his own stulty witte in steringe? Ah! wicked folkes! For your propre malice and shreudnesse of your-selfe, ye blame and dispyse the precious∣[es]t thing of your kynde, and whiche thinges among other moste ye desyren! Trewly, Nero and his children ben shrewes, [ 110] that dispysen so their dames. The wickednesse and gyling of men, in disclaundring of thilke that most hath hem glad[d]ed and plesed, were impossible to wryte or to nempne. Never-the-later yet I say, he that knoweth a way may it lightly passe; eke an herbe proved may safely to smertande sores ben layd. So [ 115] I say, in him that is proved is nothing suche yvels to gesse. But these thinges have I rehersed, to warne you women al at ones, that to lightly, without good assaye, ye assenten not to mannes speche. The sonne in the day-light is to knowen from the moone that shyneth in the night. Now to thee thy-selfe [ 120]

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(quod she) as I have ofte sayd, I knowe wel thyne herte; thou art noon of al the tofore-nempned people. For I knowe wel the continuaunce of thy service, that never sithen I sette thee a-werke, might thy Margaryte for plesaunce, frendship, ne fayrhede of none other, be in poynte moved from thyne herte; wherfore [ 125] in-to myne housholde hastely I wol that thou entre, and al the parfit privitè of my werking, make it be knowe in thy understond∣ing, as oon of my privy familiers. Thou desyrest (quod she) fayn to here of tho thinges there I lefte?'

'Ye, forsothe,' quod I, 'that were to me a greet blisse.' [ 130]

'Now,' quod she, 'for thou shalt not wene that womans con∣dicions for fayre speche suche thing belongeth:—


THOU shalt,' quod she, 'understonde' first among al other thinges, that al the cure of my service to me in the parfit blisse in doing is desyred in every mannes herte, be he never so moche a wrecche; but every man travayleth by dyvers studye, and seke[th] thilke blisse by dyvers wayes. But al the endes [ 5] are knit in selinesse of desyre in the parfit blisse, that is suche joye, whan men it have gotten, there †leveth no thing more to ben coveyted. But how that desyre of suche perfeccion in my service be kindely set in lovers hertes, yet her erroneous opinions misturne it by falsenesse of wening. And although [ 10] mannes understanding be misturned, to knowe whiche shuld ben the way unto my person, and whither it abydeth; yet wote they there is a love in every wight, [whiche] weneth by that thing that he coveyteth most, he shulde come to thilke love; and that is parfit blisse of my servauntes; but than fulle blisse may not [ 15] be, and there lacke any thing of that blisse in any syde. Eke it foloweth than, that he that must have ful blisse lacke no blisse in love on no syde.'

'Therfore, lady,' quod I tho, 'thilke' blisse I have desyred, and †soghte toforn this my-selfe, by wayes of riches, of dignitè, [ 20]

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of power, and of renomè, wening me in tho †thinges had ben thilke blisse; but ayenst the heer it turneth. Whan I supposed beste thilke blisse have †getten, and come to the ful purpose of your service, sodaynly was I hindred, and throwen so fer abacke, that me thinketh an inpossible to come there I lefte.' [ 25]

'I †wot wel,' quod she; 'and therfore hast thou fayled; for thou wentest not by the hye way. A litel misgoing in the ginning causeth mikil errour in the ende; wherfore of thilke blisse thou fayledest, for having of richesse; ne non of the other thinges thou nempnedest mowen nat make suche parfit blisse in love as I shal [ 30] shewe. Therfore they be nat worthy to thilke blisse; and yet somwhat must ben cause and way to thilke blisse. Ergo, there is som suche thing, and som way, but it is litel in usage and that is nat openly y-knowe. But what felest in thyne hert of the service, in whiche by me thou art entred? Wenest aught thy∣selfe [ 35] yet be in the hye way to my blisse? I shal so shewe it to thee, thou shalt not conne saye the contrary.'

'Good lady,' quod I, 'altho I suppose it in my herte, yet wolde I here thyn wordes, how ye menen in this mater.'

Quod she, 'that I shal, with my good wil. Thilke blisse [ 40] desyred, som-del ye knowen, altho it be nat parfitly. For kyndly entencion ledeth you therto, but in three maner livinges is al suche wayes shewed. Every wight in this world, to have this blisse, oon of thilke three wayes of lyves must procede; whiche, after opinions of grete clerkes, are by names cleped bestiallich, resonablich, [and [ 45] manlich. Resonablich] is vertuous. Manlich is worldlich. Bestial∣liche is lustes and delytable, nothing restrayned by bridel of reson. Al that joyeth and yeveth gladnesse to the hert, and it be ayenst reson, is lykened to bestial living, which thing foloweth lustes and delytes; wherfore in suche thinge may nat that precious blisse, [ 50] that is maister of al vertues, abyde. Your †faders toforn you have cleped such lusty livinges after the flessh "passions of desyre," which are innominable tofore god and man both. Than, after determinacion of suche wyse, we accorden that suche passions of desyre shul nat be nempned, but holden for absolute from al other [ 55] livinges and provinges; and so †leveth in t[w]o livinges, manlich

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and resonable, to declare the maters begonne. But to make thee fully have understanding in manlich livinges, whiche is holden worldlich in these thinges, so that ignorance be mad no letter, I wol (quod she) nempne these forsayd wayes †by names and [ 60] conclusions. First riches, dignitè, renomè, and power shul in this worke be cleped bodily goodes; for in hem hath ben, a gret throw, mannes trust of selinesse in love: as in riches, suffisance to have maintayned that was begonne by worldly catel; in dignitè, honour and reverence of hem that wern underput by maistry [ 65] therby to obeye. In renomè, glorie of peoples praising, after lustes in their hert, without hede-taking to qualitè and maner of doing; and in power, by trouth of lordships mayntenaunce, thing to procede forth in doing. In al whiche thinges a longe tyme mannes coveytise in commune hath ben greetly grounded, to come [ 70] to the blisse of my service; but trewly, they were begyled, and for the principal muste nedes fayle, and in helping mowe nat availe. See why. For holdest him not poore that is nedy?'

'Yes, pardè,' quod I.

'And him for dishonored, that moche folk deyne nat to [ 75] reverence?'

'That is soth,' quod I.

'And what him, that his mightes faylen and mowe nat helpen?'

'Certes,' quod I, 'me semeth, of al men he shulde be holden a wrecche.' [ 80]

'And wenest nat,' quod she, 'that he that is litel in renomè, but rather is out of the praysinges of mo men than a fewe, be nat in shame?'

'For soth,' quod I, 'it is shame and villany, to him that coveyteth renomè, that more folk nat prayse in name than preise.' [ 85]

'Soth,' quod she, 'thou sayst soth; but al these thinges are folowed of suche maner doinge, and wenden in riches suffisaunce, in power might, in dignitè worship, and in renomè glorie; wherfore they discended in-to disceyvable wening, and in that service disceit is folowed. And thus, in general, thou and al suche other that so [ 90] worchen, faylen of my blisse that ye long han desyred. Wherfore truly, in lyfe of reson is the hye way to this blisse; as I thinke more openly to declare herafter. Never-the-later yet, in a litel to comforte thy herte, in shewing of what waye thou art entred thy∣selfe,

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and that thy Margarite may knowe thee set in the hye way, [ 95] I wol enforme thee in this wyse. Thou hast fayled of thy first purpos, bicause thou wentest wronge and leftest the hye way on thy right syde, as thus: thou lokedest on worldly living, and that thing thee begyled; and lightly therfore, as a litel assay, thou songedest; but whan I turned thy purpos, and shewed thee [ 100] a part of the hye waye, tho thou abode therin, and no deth ne ferdnesse of non enemy might thee out of thilk way reve; but ever oon in thyn herte, to come to the ilke blisse, whan thou were arested and firste tyme enprisoned, thou were loth to chaunge thy way, for in thy hert thou wendest to have ben there [ 105] thou shuldest. And for I had routhe to sene thee miscaried, and wiste wel thyn ablenesse my service to forther and encrese, I com my-selfe, without other mene, to visit thy person in comfort of thy hert. And perdy, in my comming thou were greetly glad[d]ed; after whiche tyme no disese, no care, no tene, might [ 110] move me out of thy hert. And yet am I glad and greetly enpited, how continually thou haddest me in mynde, with good avysement of thy conscience, whan thy king and his princes by huge wordes and grete loked after variaunce in thy speche; and ever thou were redy for my sake, in plesaunce of the Margarite-perle and [ 115] many mo other, thy body to oblige in-to Marces doing, if any contraried thy sawes. Stedfast way maketh stedfast hert, with good hope in the ende. Trewly, I wol that thou it wel knowe; for I see thee so set, and not chaunginge herte haddest in my service; and I made thou haddest grace of thy kinge, in foryeve∣nesse [ 120] of mikel misdede. To the gracious king art thou mikel holden, of whos grace and goodnesse somtyme hereafter I thinke thee enforme, whan I shew the ground where-as moral vertue groweth. Who brought thee to werke? Who brought this grace aboute? Who made thy hert hardy? Trewly, it was I. For [ 125] haddest thou of me fayled, than of this purpos had[dest thou] never taken [hede] in this wyse. And therfore I say, thou might wel truste to come to thy blisse, sithen thy ginninge hath ben hard, but ever graciously after thy hertes desyr hath proceded. Silver fyned with many hetes men knowen for trew; and safely men [ 130]

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may trust to the alay in werkinge. This †disese hath proved what way hence-forward thou thinkest to holde.'

'Now, in good fayth, lady,' quod I tho, 'I am now in; me semeth, it is the hye way and the right.'

'Ye, forsothe,' quod she, 'and now I wol disprove thy first [ 135] wayes, by whiche many men wenen to gette thilke blisse. But for-as-moche as every herte that hath caught ful love, is tyed with queynt knittinges, thou shalt understande that love and thilke foresayd blisse toforn declared in this[e] provinges, shal hote the knot in the hert.' [ 140]

'Wel,' quod I, 'this inpossession I wol wel understande.'

'Now also,' quod she, 'for the knotte in the herte muste ben from one to an-other, and I knowe thy desyr, I wol thou under∣stande these maters to ben sayd of thy-selfe, in disproving of thy first service, and in strengthinge of thilke that thou hast undertake [ 145] to thy Margaryte-perle.'

'A goddes halfe,' quod I, 'right wel I fele that al this case is possible and trewe; and therfore I †admitte it altogither.'

'†Understand wel,' quod she, 'these termes, and loke no con∣tradiccion thou graunt.' [ 150]

'If god wol,' quod I, 'of al these thinges wol I not fayle; and if I graunt contradiccion, I shulde graunte an impossible; and that were a foul inconvenience; for whiche thinges, lady, y-wis, herafter I thinke me to kepe.'


'WEL,' quod she, 'thou knowest that every thing is a cause, wherthrough any thing hath being that is cleped "caused." Than, if richesse †causeth knot in herte, thilke richesse †is cause of thilke precious thinge being. But after the sentence of Aristotle, every cause is more in dignitè than his thinge caused; [ 5] wherthrough it foloweth richesse to ben more in dignitè than thilke knot. But richesses arn kyndely naughty, badde, and nedy; and thilke knotte is thing kyndely good, most praysed and desyred. Ergo, thing naughty, badde, and nedy in kyndely

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understandinge is more worthy than thing kyndely good, most [ 10] desyred and praysed! The consequence is fals; nedes, the antecedent mot ben of the same condicion. But that richesses ben bad, naughty, and nedy, that wol I prove; wherfore they mowe cause no suche thing that is so glorious and good. The more richesse thou hast, the more nede hast thou of helpe hem [ 15] to kepe. Ergo, thou nedest in richesse, whiche nede thou shuldest not have, if thou hem wantest. Than muste richesse ben nedy, that in their having maken thee nedy to helpes, in suretee thy richesse to kepen; wherthrough foloweth, richesse to ben nedy. Everything causinge yvels is badde and naughty; but [ 20] richesse in one causen misese, in another they mowen not evenly strecchen al about. Wherof cometh plee, debat, thefte, begylinges, but richesse to winne; whiche thinges ben badde, and by richesse arn caused. Ergo, thilke richesse[s] ben badde; whiche badnesse and nede ben knit in-to richesse by a maner of kyndely propertee; [ 25] and every cause and caused accorden; so that it foloweth, thilke richesse[s] to have the same accordaunce with badnesse and nede, that their cause asketh. Also, every thing hath his being by his cause; than, if the cause be distroyed, the being of caused is vanisshed. And, so, if richesse[s] causen love, and richesse[s] [ 30] weren distroyed, the love shulde vanisshe; but thilke knotte, and it be trewe, may not vanisshe, for no going of richesse. Ergo, richesse is no cause of the knot. And many men, as I sayd, setten the cause of the knotte in richesse; thilke knitten the richesse, and nothing the yvel; thilke persons, what-ever they [ 35] ben, wenen that riches is most worthy to be had; and that make they the cause; and so wene they thilke riches be better than the person. Commenly, suche asken rather after the quantitè than after the qualitè; and suche wenen, as wel by hem-selfe as by other, that conjunccion of his lyfe and of his soule is no more [ 40] precious, but in as mikel as he hath of richesse. Alas! how may he holden suche thinges precious or noble, that neither han lyf ne soule, ne ordinaunce of werchinge limmes! Suche richesse[s] ben more worthy whan they ben in †gadering; in departing, ginneth his love of other mennes praysing. And avarice †gadering [ 45] maketh be hated, and nedy to many out-helpes; and whan leveth the possession of such goodes, and they ginne vanissh, than

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entreth sorowe and tene in their hertes. O! badde and strayte ben thilke, that at their departinge maketh men teneful and sory, and in the †gadering of hem make men nedy! Moche folk at [ 50] ones mowen not togider moche therof have. A good gest gladdeth his hoste and al his meyny; but he is a badde gest that maketh his hoste nedy and to be aferd of his gestes going.'

'Certes,' quod I, 'me wondreth therfore that the comune opinion is thus: "He is worth no more than that he hath in [ 55] catel."'

'O!' quod she, 'loke thou be not of that opinion; for if gold or money, or other maner of riches shynen in thy sight, whos is that? Nat thyn. And tho[ugh] they have a litel beautee, they be nothing in comparison of our kynde; and therfore, ye shulde nat sette [ 60] your worthinesse in thing lower than your-selfe. For the riches, the fairnesse, the worthinesse of thilke goodes, if ther be any suche preciousnesse in hem, are nat thyne; thou madest hem so never; from other they come to thee, and to other they shul from thee. Wherfore enbracest thou other wightes good, as [ 65] tho[ugh] they were thyn? Kynde hath drawe hem by hem-selfe. It is sothe, the goodes of the erth ben ordayned in your fode and norisshinge; but if thou wolt holde thee apayd with that suffyseth to thy kynde, thou shalt nat be in daunger of no suche riches; to kynde suffyseth litel thing, who that taketh hede. [ 70] And if thou wolt algates with superfluitè of riches be a-throted, thou shalt hastelich be anoyed, or els yvel at ese. And fairnesse of feldes ne of habitacions, ne multitude of meynè, may nat be rekened as riches that are thyn owne. For if they be badde, it is greet sclaunder and villany to the occupyer; and if they be good [ 75] or faire, the mater of the workman that hem made is to prayse. How shulde other-wyse bountee be compted for thyne? Thilke goodnesse and fairnesse be proper to tho thinges hem-selfe; than, if they be nat thyne, sorow nat whan they wende, ne glad thee nat in pompe and in pride whan thou hem hast. For their [ 80] bountee and their beautees cometh out of their owne kynde, and nat of thyne owne person. As faire ben they in their not having as whan thou hast hem. They be nat faire for thou hast hem; but thou hast geten hem for the fairnesse of them-selfe. And there the vaylance of men is demed in richesse outforth, wenen [ 85]

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me[n] to have no proper good in them-selfe, but seche it in straunge thinges. Trewly, the condicion of good wening is to thee mistourned, to wene, your noblesse be not in your-selfe, but in the goodes and beautee of other thinges. Pardy, the beestes that han but feling soules, have suffisaunce in their owne selfe; [ 90] and ye, that ben lyke to god, seken encrese of suffisaunce from so excellent a kynde of so lowe thinges; ye do greet wrong to him that you made lordes over al erthly thinges; and ye putte your worthinesse under the nombre of the fete of lower thinges and foule. Whan ye juge thilke riches to be your worthinesse, than [ 95] putte ye your-selfe, by estimacion, under thilke foule thinges; and than leve ye the knowing of your-selfe; so be ye viler than any dombe beest; that cometh of shrewde vice. Right so thilke persons that loven non yvel for dereworthinesse of the persone, but for straunge goodes, and saith, the adornement in the knot [ 100] lyth in such thing; his errour is perilous and shrewd, and he wryeth moche venim with moche welth; and that knot may nat be good whan he hath it getten.

Certes, thus hath riches with flickering sight anoyed many; and often, whan there is a throw-out shrewe, he coyneth al the [ 105] gold, al the precious stones that mowen be founden, to have in his bandon; he weneth no wight be worthy to have suche thinges but he alone. How many hast thou knowe, now in late tyme, that in their richesse supposed suffisance have folowed, and now it is al fayled!' [ 110]

'Ye, lady,' quod I, 'that is for mis medling; and otherwyse governed [they] thilke richesse than they shulde.'

'Ye,' quod she tho, 'had not the flood greetly areysed, and throwe to-hemward both gravel and sand, he had mad no med∣linge. And right as see yeveth flood, so draweth see ebbe, and [ 115] pulleth ayen under wawe al the firste out-throwe, but-if good pyles of noble governaunce in love, in wel-meninge maner, ben sadly grounded; †the whiche holde thilke gravel as for a tyme, that ayen lightly mowe not it turne; and if the pyles ben trewe, the gravel and sand wol abyde. And certes, ful warning in love shalt [ 120] thou never thorow hem get ne cover, that lightly with an ebbe, er

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thou be ware, it [ne] wol ayen meve. In richesse many men have had tenes and diseses, whiche they shulde not have had, if therof they had fayled. Thorow whiche, now declared, partly it is shewed, that for richesse shulde the knotte in herte neither ben [ 125] caused in one ne in other; trewly, knotte may ben knit, and I trowe more stedfast, in love, though richesse fayled; and els, in richesse is the knotte, and not in herte. And than suche a knotte is fals; whan the see ebbeth and withdraweth the gravel, that such richesse voydeth, thilke knotte wol unknitte. [ 130] Wherfore no trust, no way, no cause, no parfit being is in richesse, of no suche knotte. Therfore another way muste we have.


HONOUR in dignitè is wened to yeven a ful knot.'

'Ye, certes,' quod I, 'and of that opinion ben many; for they sayn, dignitè, with honour and reverence, causen hertes to encheynen, and so abled to be knit togither, for the excellence in soverayntè of such degrees.' [ 5]

'Now,' quod she, 'if dignitè, honour, and reverence causen thilke knotte in herte, this knot is good and profitable. For every cause of a cause is cause of thing caused. Than thus: good thinges and profitable ben by dignitè, honour, and rever∣ence caused. Ergo, they accorden; and dignites ben good with [ 10] reverences and honour. But contraries mowen not accorden. Wherfore, by reson, there shulde no dignitee, no reverence, non honour acorde with shrewes. But that is fals; they have ben cause to shrewes in many shreudnes; for with hem they accorden.

Ergo, from beginning to argue ayenward til it come to the laste [ 15] conclusion, they are not cause of the knot. Lo, al day at eye arn shrewes not in reverence, in honour, and in dignitè? Yes, for∣sothe, rather than the good. Than foloweth it that shrewes rather than good shul ben cause of this knot. But of this [the] contrarie of al lovers is bileved, and for a sothe openly de∣termined [ 20] to holde.'

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'Now,' quod I, 'fayn wolde I here, how suche dignitees acorden with shrewes.'

'O,' quod she, 'that wol I shewe in manifolde wyse. Ye wene (quod she) that dignites of office here in your citè is as the [ 25] sonne; it shyneth bright withouten any cloude; [of] whiche thing, whan they comen in the handes of malicious tirauntes, there cometh moche harm, and more grevaunce therof than of the wilde fyre, though it brende al a strete. Certes, in dignitè of office, the werkes of the occupyer shewen the malice and the [ 30] badnesse in the person; with shrewes they maken manyfolde harmes, and moche people shamen. How often han rancours, for malice of the governour, shulde ben mainteyned? Hath not than suche dignitees caused debat, rumours, and yvels? Yes, god wot, by suche thinges have ben trusted to make mens under∣standing [ 35] enclyne to many queynte thinges. Thou wottest wel what I mene.'

'Ye,' quod I, 'therfore, as dignitè suche thing in tene y-wrought, so ayenward, the substaunce in dignitè chaunged, relyed to bring ayen good plyte in doing.' [ 40]

'Do way, do way,' quod she; 'if it so betyde, but that is selde, that suche dignitè is betake in a good mannes governaunce, what thing is to recken in the dignitees goodnesse? Pardè, the bountee and goodnesse is hers that usen it in good governaunce; and therfore cometh it that honour and reverence shulde ben [ 45] don to dignitè bycause of encresinge vertue in the occupyer, and not to the ruler bycause of soverayntee in dignitè. Sithen dignitè may no vertue cause, who is worthy worship for suche goodnesse? Not dignitè, but person, that maketh goodnesse in dignitè to shyne.' [ 50]

'This is wonder thing,' quod I; 'for me thinketh, as the person in dignitè is worthy honour for goodnesse, so, tho[ugh] a person for badnesse ma[u]gree hath deserved, yet the dignitè leneth to be commended.'

'Let be,' quod she, 'thou errest right foule; dignitè with [ 55] badnesse is helper to performe the felonous doing. Pardy, were it kyndly good, or any propertè of kyndly vertue [that men] hadden in hem-selfe, shrewes shulde hem never have; with hem shulde they never accorde. Water and fyr, that ben contrarious,

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mowen nat togider ben assembled; kynde wol nat suffre suche [ 60] contraries to joyne. And sithen at eye, by experience in doing, we seen that shrewes have hem more often than good men, siker mayst thou be, that kyndly good in suche thing is nat appropred. Pardy, were they kyndly good, as wel oon as other shulden evenlich in vertue of governaunce ben worthe; but oon fayleth in [ 65] goodnesse, another doth the contrary; and so it sheweth, kyndly goodnesse in dignitè nat be grounded. And this same reson (quod she) may be mad, in general, on al the bodily goodes; for they comen ofte to throw-out shrewes. After this, he is strong that hath might to have grete burthens, and he is light [ 70] and swifte, that hath soveraintè in ronning to passe other; right so he is a shrewe, on whom shreude thinges and badde han most werchinge. And right as philosophy maketh philosophers, and my service maketh lovers, right so, if dignites weren good or vertuous, they shulde maken shrewes good, and turne her malice, [ 75] and make hem be vertuous. But that they do nat, as it is proved, but causen rancour and debat. Ergo, they be nat good, but utterly badde. Had Nero never ben Emperour, shulde never his dame have be slayn, to maken open the privitè of his engendrure. Herodes, for his dignitè, slew many children. The [ 80] dignitè of king John wolde have distroyed al England. Therfore mokel wysdom and goodnesse both, nedeth in a person, the malice in dignitè slyly to brydel, and with a good bitte of arest to withdrawe, in case it wolde praunce otherwyse than it shulde. Trewly, ye yeve to dignites wrongful names in your cleping. [ 85] They shulde hete, nat dignitè, but moustre of badnesse and mayntenour of shrewes. Pardy, shyne the sonne never so bright, and it bringe forth no hete, ne sesonably the herbes out-bringe of the erthe, but suffre frostes and cold, and the erthe barayne to ligge by tyme of his compas in circute about, ye wolde wonder, [ 90] and dispreyse that sonne! If the mone be at ful, and sheweth no light, but derke and dimme to your sight appereth, and make distruccion of the waters, wol ye nat suppose it be under cloude or in clips, and that som prevy thing, unknowen to your wittes, is cause of suche contrarious doinge? Than, if clerkes, that han [ 95] ful insight and knowing of suche impedimentes, enforme you of

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the sothe, very idiottes ye ben, but-if ye yeven credence to thilk clerkes wordes. And yet it doth me tene, to sene many wrecches rejoycen in such maner planettes. Trewly, litel con[ne] they on philosophy, or els on my lore, that any desyr haven suche [ 100] lightinge planettes in that wyse any more to shewe.'

'Good lady,' quod I, 'tel me how ye mene in these thinges.' 'Lo,' quod she, 'the dignites of your citè, sonne and mone, nothing in kynde shew their shyning as they shulde. For the sonne made no brenning hete in love, but freesed envye in [ 105] mennes hertes, for feblenesse of shyning hete; and the moone was about, under an olde cloude, the livinges by waters to distroye.'

'Lady,' quod I, 'it is supposed they had shyned as they shulde.' [ 110]

'Ye,' quod she, 'but now it is proved at the ful, their beautè in kyndly shyning fayled; wherfore dignitè of him-selven hath no beautee in fayrnesse, ne dryveth nat awaye vices, but encreseth; and so be they no cause of the knotte. Now see, in good trouth; holde ye nat such sonnes worthy of no reverence, and dignites [ 115] worthy of no worship, that maketh men to do the more harmes?'

'I not,' quod I.

'No?' quod she; 'and thou see a wyse good man, for his goodnesse and wysnesse wolt thou nat do him worship? Therof he is worthy.' [ 120]

'That is good skil,' quod I; 'it is dewe to suche, both rever∣ence and worship to have.'

'Than,' quod she, 'a shrewe, for his shreudnesse, altho he be put forth toforn other for ferde, yet is he worthy, for shrewdnesse, to be unworshipped; of reverence no part is he worthy to have, [ 125] [that] to contrarious doing belongeth: and that is good skil. For right as he besmyteth the dignites, thilke same thing ayen∣ward him smyteth, or els shulde smyte. And over this thou wost wel (quod she) that fyr in every place heteth where it be, and water maketh wete. Why? For kyndely werking is so y-put in [ 130] hem, to do suche thinges; for every kyndely in werking sheweth his kynde. But though a wight had ben mayre of your city many winter togider, and come in a straunge place there he were

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not knowen, he shulde for his dignitè have no reverence. Than neither worshippe ne reverence is kyndely propre in no dignitè, [ 135] sithen they shulden don their kynde in suche doinge, if any were. And if reverence ne worshippe kyndely be not set in dignitees, and they more therein ben shewed than goodnesse, for that in dignitè is shewed, but it proveth that goodnesse kyndely in hem is not grounded. I-wis, neither worshippe, ne reverence, ne good∣nesse [ 140] in dignitè don non office of kynde; for they have non suche propertee in nature of doinge but by false opinion of the people. Lo! how somtyme thilke that in your city wern in dignitè noble, if thou liste hem nempne, they ben now over∣turned bothe in worship, in name, and in reverence; wherfore [ 145] such dignites have no kyndly werching of worshippe and of reverence. He that hath no worthinesse on it-selfe, now it ryseth and now it vanissheth, after the variaunt opinion in false hertes of unstable people. Wherfore, if thou desyre the knotte of this jewel, or els if unstable people. Wherfore, if thou desyre the knotte of this jewel, or els if thou woldest suppose she shulde sette the knotte [ 150] on thee for suche maner dignitè, than thou wenest beautee or goodnesse of thilke somwhat encreseth the goodnesse or vertue in the body. But dignite[es] of hemself ben not good, ne yeven reverence ne worshippe by their owne kynde. How shulde they than yeve to any other a thing, that by no waye mowe they have [ 155] hem-selfe? It is sene in dignitè of the emperour and of many mo other, that they mowe not of hem-selve kepe their worshippe ne their reverence; that, in a litel whyle, it is now up and now downe, by unstedfaste hertes of the people. What bountee mowe they yeve that, with cloude, lightly leveth his shyninge? Certes, [ 160] to the occupyer is mokel appeyred, sithen suche doinge doth villanye to him that may it not mayntayne. Wherfore thilke way to the knotte is croked; and if any desyre to come to the knot, he must leve this way on his lefte syde, or els shal he never come there. [ 165]

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AVAYLETH aught (quod she) power of might in maynten∣aunce of [men, to maken hem] worthy to come to this knot?'

'Pardè,' quod I, 'ye; for hertes ben ravisshed from suche maner thinges.' [ 5]

'Certes,' quod she, 'though a fooles herte is with thing ravisshed, yet therfore is no general cause of the powers, ne of a siker parfit herte to be loked after. Was not Nero the moste shrewe oon of thilke that men rede, and yet had he power to make senatours justices, and princes of many landes? Was not [ 10] that greet power?'

'Yes, certes,' quod I.

'Wel,' quod she, 'yet might he not helpe him-selfe out of disese, whan he gan falle. How many ensamples canst thou remembre of kinges grete and noble, and huge power †helden, and [ 15] yet they might not kepe hem-selve from wrecchednesse? How wrecched was king Henry Curtmantil er he deyde? He had not so moche as to cover with his membres; and yet was he oon of the grettest kinges of al the Normandes ofspring, and moste possession had. O! a noble thing and clere is power, that is not [ 20] founden mighty to kepe him-selfe! Now, trewly, a greet fole is he, that for suche thing wolde sette the knotte in thyne herte! Also powr of rëalmes, is not thilke grettest power amonges the worldly powers reckened? And if suche powers han wrecched∣nesse in hem-selfe, it foloweth other powers of febler condicion to [ 25] ben wrecched; and than, that wrecchednesse shulde be cause of suche a knotte! But every wight that hath reson wot wel that wrecchednesse by no way may ben cause of none suche knotte; wherfore suche power is no cause. That powers have wrecched∣nesse in hem-selfe, may right lightly ben preved. If power lacke on [ 30] any syde, on that syde is no power; but no power is wrecched∣nesse; for al-be-it so the power of emperours or kinges, or els of their rëalmes (which is the power of the prince) strecchen

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wyde and brode, yet besydes is ther mokel folk of whiche he hath no commaundement ne lordshippe; and there-as lacketh his [ 35] power, his nonpower entreth, where-under springeth that maketh hem wrecches. No power is wrecchednesse and nothing els; but in this maner hath kinges more porcion of wrecchednesse than of power. Trewly, suche powers ben unmighty; for ever they ben in drede how thilke power from lesing may be keped [ 40] of sorow; so drede sorily prikkes ever in their hertes: litel is that power whiche careth and ferdeth it-serfe to mayntayne. Unmighty is that wrecchednesse whiche is entred by the ferdful weninge of the wrecche him-selfe; and knot y-maked by wrecched∣nesse is betwene wrecches; and wrecches al thing bewaylen; [ 45] wherfore the knot shulde be bewayled; and there is no suche parfit blisse that we supposed at the ginning! Ergo, power in nothing shulde cause suche knottes. Wrecchednesse is a kyndely propertee in suche power, as by way of drede, whiche they mowe nat eschewe, ne by no way live in sikernesse. For thou wost wel [ 50] (quod she) he is nought mighty that wolde don that he may not don ne perfourme.'

'Therfore,' quod I, 'these kinges and lordes that han suffi∣saunce at the ful of men and other thinges, mowen wel ben holden mighty; their comaundementes ben don; it is nevermore [ 55] denyed.'

'Foole,' quod she, 'or he wot him-selfe mighty, or wot it not; for he is nought mighty that is blynde of his might and wot it not.'

'That is sothe,' quod I. [ 60]

'Than if he wot it, he must nedes ben a-drad to lesen it. He that wot of his might is in doute that he mote nedes lese; and so ledeth him drede to ben unmighty. And if he recche not to lese, litel is that worth that of the lesing reson reccheth nothing; and if it were mighty in power or in strength, the lesing shulde ben [ 65] withset; and whan it cometh to the lesing, he may it not with∣sitte. Ergo, thilke might is leude and naughty. Such mightes arn y-lyke to postes and pillers that upright stonden, and greet might han to bere many charges; and if they croke on any syde, litel thing maketh hem overthrowe.' [ 70]

'This is a good ensample,' quod I, 'to pillers and postes that

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I have seen overthrowed my-selfe; and hadden they ben under∣put with any helpes, they had not so lightly falle.'

'Than holdest thou him mighty that hath many men armed and many servauntes; and ever he is adrad of hem in his herte; [ 75] and, for he gasteth hem, somtyme he mot the more fere have. Comenly, he that other agasteth, other in him ayenward werchen the same; and thus warnisshed mot he be, and of warnisshe the hour drede. Litel is that might and right leude, who-so taketh hede.' [ 80]

'Than semeth it,' quod I, 'that suche famulers aboute kinges and grete lordes shulde greet might have. Although a sypher in augrim have no might in significacion of it-selve, yet he yeveth power in significacion to other; and these clepe I the helpes to a poste to kepe him from falling.' [ 85]

'Certes,' quod she, 'thilke skilles ben leude. Why? But-if the shorers be wel grounded, the helpes shulden slyden and suffre the charge to falle; her might litel avayleth.'

'And so me thinketh,' quod I, 'that a poste alone, stonding upright upon a basse, may lenger in greet burthen endure than [ 90] croken pilers for al their helpes, and her ground be not siker.'

'That is sothe,' quod she; 'for as, [if] the blynde in bering of the lame ginne stomble, bothe shulde falle, right so suche pillers, so envyroned with helpes, in falling of the grounde fayleth †al∣togider. How ofte than suche famulers, in their moste pryde [ 95] of prosperitè, ben sodainly overthrowen! Thou hast knowe many in a moment so ferre overthrowe, that cover might they never. Whan the hevinesse of suche fayling cometh by case of fortune, they mowe it not eschue; and might and power, if ther were any, shulde of strength such thinges voyde and weyve; and [ 100] so it is not. Lo, than! whiche thing is this power, that, tho men han it, they ben agast; and in no tyme of ful having be they siker! And if they wold weyve drede, as they mow not, litel is in worthines. Fye therfore on so naughty thing, any knot to cause! Lo! in adversitè, thilk ben his foes that glosed and [ 105] semed frendes in welth; thus arn his familiers his foes and his enemyes; and nothing is werse, ne more mighty for to anoy than is a familier enemy; and these thinges may they not weyve; so

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trewly their might is not worth a cresse. And over al thinge, he that may not withdrawe the brydel of his flesshly lustes and his [ 110] wrecched complayntes (now think on thy-selfe) trewly he is not mighty; I can seen no way that lyth to the knotte. Thilke people than, that setten their hertes upon suche mightes and powers, often ben begyled. Pardè, he is not mighty that may do any thing, that another may doon him the selve, and that men [ 115] have as greet power over him as he over other. A justice that demeth men ayenward hath ben often demed. Buserus slew his gestes, and he was slayn of Hercules his geste. Hugest betrays∣shed many men, and of Collo was he betrayed. He that with swerde smyteth, with swerde shal be smitten.' [ 120]

Than gan I to studyen a whyle on these thinges, and made a countenaunce with my hande in maner to ben huisht.

'Now let seen,' quod she, 'me thinketh somwhat there is within thy soule, that troubleth thy understanding; saye on what it is.' [ 125]

Quod I tho, 'me thinketh that, although a man by power have suche might over me, as I have over another, that disproveth no might in my person; but yet may I have power and might never-the-later.'

'See now,' quod she, 'thyne owne leudenesse. He is mighty [ 130] that may without wrecchednesse; and he is unmighty that may it not withsitte; but than he, that might over thee, and he wol, putte on thee wrecchednesse, thou might it not withsitte. Ergo, thou seest thy-selfe what foloweth! But now (quod she) woldest thou not skorne, and thou see a flye han power to don harm to [ 135] an-other flye, and thilke have no might ne ayenturning him-selfe to defende?'

'Yes, certes,' quod I.

'Who is a frayler thing,' quod she, 'than the fleshly body of a man, over whiche have oftentyme flyes, and yet lasse thing than [ 140] a flye, mokel might in grevaunce and anoying, withouten any withsittinge, for al thilke mannes mightes? And sithen thou seest thyne flesshly body in kyndely power fayle, how shulde than the accident of a thinge ben in more suretè of beinge than sub∣stancial? Wherfore, thilke thinges that we clepe power is but [ 145]

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accident to the flesshly body; and so they may not have that suretee in might, whiche wanteth in the substancial body. Why there is no way to the knotte, [for him] that loketh aright after the hye way, as he shulde. [ 149]


VERILY it is proved that richesse, dignitè, and power ben not trewe way to the knotte, but as rathe by suche thinges the knotte to be unbounde; wherfore on these thinges I rede no wight truste to gette any good knotte. But what shul we saye of renomè in the peoples mouthes? Shulde that ben any cause? [ 5] What supposest thou in thyn herte?'

'Certes,' quod I, 'yes, I trowe; for your slye resons I dare not safely it saye.'

'Than,' quod she, 'wol I preve that shrewes as rathe shul ben in the knotte as the good; and that were ayenst kynde.' [ 10]

'Fayn,' quod I, 'wolde I that here; me thinketh wonder how renomè shuld as wel knitte a shrewe as a good person; renomè in every degree hath avaunced; yet wist I never the contrarye. Shulde than renomè accorde with a shrewe? It may not sinke in my stomake til I here more.' [ 15]

'Now,' quod she, 'have I not sayd alwayes, that shrewes shul not have the knotte?'

'What nedeth,' quod I, 'to reherse that any more? I wot wel every wight, by kyndely reson, shrewes in knitting wol eschewe.'

'Than,' quod she, 'the good ought thilke knotte to have.' [ 20]

'How els?' quod I.

'It were greet harm,' quod she, 'that the good were weyved and put out of espoire of the knotte, if he it desyred.'

'O,' quod I, 'alas! On suche thing to thinke, I wene that heven wepeth to see suche wronges here ben suffred on erthe; the [ 25] good ought it to have, and no wight els.'

'The goodnesse,' quod she, 'of a person may not ben knowe outforth but by renomè of the knowers; wherfore he must be renomed of goodnesse, to come to the knot.'

'So must it be,' quod I, 'or els al lost that we carpen.' [ 30]

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'Sothly,' quod she, 'that were greet harm, but-if a good man might have his desyres in service of thilke knot, and a shrewe to be †weyved, and they ben not knowen in general but by lacking and praysing, and in renomè; and so by the consequence it foloweth, a shrewe to ben praysed and knit; and a good to be [ 35] forsake and unknit.'

'Ah,' quod I tho, 'have ye, lady, ben here abouten; yet wolde I see, by grace of our argumentes better declared, how good and bad do acorden by lacking and praysing; me thinketh it ayenst kynde.' [ 40]

'Nay,' quod she, 'and that shalt thou see as yerne; these elementes han contrarious qualitees in kynde, by whiche they mowe not acorde no more than good and badde; and in [some] qualitees they acorde, so that contraries by qualitè acorden by qualitè. Is not erthe drye; and water, that is next and bitwene [ 45] th'erthe, is wete? Drye and wete ben contrarie, and mowen not acorde, and yet this discordaunce is bounde to acorde by cloudes; for bothe elementes ben colde. Right so the eyre, that is next the water, is wete; and eke it is hot. This eyre by his hete con∣trarieth water that is cold; but thilke contrarioustè is oned †by [ 50] moysture; for bothe be they moyst. Also the fyr, that is next the †eyre and it encloseth al about, is drye, wherthrough it contrarieth †eyre, that is wete; and in hete they acorde; for bothe they ben hote. Thus by these acordaunces discordantes ben joyned, and in a maner of acordaunce they acorden by [ 55] conneccion, that is, knitting togither; of that accorde cometh a maner of melodye that is right noble. Right so good and bad arn contrarie in doinges, by lacking and praysing; good is bothe lacked and praysed of some; and badde is bothe lacked and praysed of some; wherfore their contrarioustee acorde bothe by [ 60] lacking and praysing. Than foloweth it, though good be never so mokel praysed, [it] oweth more to ben knit than the badde; or els bad, for the renomè that he hath, must be taken as wel as the good; and that oweth not.'

'No, forsothe,' quod I. [ 65]

'Wel,' quod she, 'than is renomè no way to the knot. Lo, foole,' quod she, 'how clerkes wryten of suche glorie of renomè:—

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"O glorie, glorie, thou art non other thing to thousandes of folke but a greet sweller of eeres!" Many oon hath had ful greet renomè by false opinion of variaunt people. And what is fouler than [ 70] folk wrongfully to ben praysed, or by malice of the people giltlesse lacked? Nedes shame foloweth therof to hem that with wrong prayseth, and also to the desertes praysed; and vilanye and reproof of him that disclaundreth.

Good child (quod she) what echeth suche renomè to the [ 75] conscience of a wyse man, that loketh and mesureth his good∣nesse, not by slevelesse wordes of the people, but by sothfastnesse of conscience? By god, nothing. And if it be fayr, a mans name be eched by moche folkes praysing, and fouler thing that mo folk not praysen? I sayd to thee a litel here-beforn, that no folk in [ 80] straunge countreyes nought praysen; suche renomè may not comen to their eeres, bycause of unknowing and other obstacles, as I sayde: wherfore more folk not praysen, and that is right foul to him that renomè desyreth, to wete, lesse folk praisen than renomè enhaunce. I trowe, the thank of a people is naught [ 85] worth in remembraunce to take; ne it procedeth of no wyse jugement; never is it stedfast pardurable. It is veyne and fleing; with winde wasteth and encreseth. Trewly, suche glorie ought to be hated. If gentillesse be a cleer thing, renomè and glorie to enhaunce, as in reckening of thy linage, than is gentilesse of thy [ 90] kinne; for-why it semeth that gentilesse of thy kinne is but praysing and renomè that come of thyne auncestres desertes: and if so be that praysing and renomè of their desertes make their clere gentillesse, than mote they nedes ben gentil for their gentil dedes, and not thou; for of thy-selfe cometh not such [ 95] maner gentilesse, praysinge of thy desertes. Than gentillesse of thyne auncesters, that forayne is to thee, maketh thee not gentil, but ungentil and reproved, and-if thou continuest not their gentilesse. And therfore a wyse man ones sayde: "Better is it thy kinne to ben by thee gentyled, than thou to glorifye of thy [ 100] kinnes gentilesse, and hast no desert therof thy-selfe."

How passinge is the beautee of flesshly bodyes, more flittinge than movable floures of sommer! And if thyne eyen weren as good as the lynx, that may seen thorow many stone walles, bothe fayre

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and foule, in their entrayles, of no maner hewe shulde apere to [ 105] thy sight; that were a foule sight. Than is fayrnesse by feblesse of eyen, but of no kynde; wherfore thilke shulde be no way to the knot; whan thilke is went, the knotte wendeth after. Lo, now, at al proves, none of al these thinges mowe parfitly ben in understanding, to ben way to the during blisse of the knotte. [ 110] But now, to conclusion of these maters, herkeneth these wordes. Very sommer is knowe from the winter: in shorter cours draweth the dayes of Decembre than in the moneth of June; the springes of Maye faden and †falowen in Octobre. These thinges ben not unbounden from their olde kynde; they have not lost her werke [ 115] of their propre estat. Men, of voluntarious wil, withsitte that hevens governeth. Other thinges suffren thinges paciently to werche; man, in what estat he be, yet wolde he ben chaunged. Thus by queynt thinges blisse is desyred; and the fruit that cometh of these springes nis but anguis and bitter; al-though it [ 120] be a whyle swete, it may not be with-holde; hastely they departe; thus al-day fayleth thinges that fooles wende. Right thus hast thou fayled in thy first wening. He that thinketh to sayle, and drawe after the course of the sterre de polo antartico, shal he never come northward to the contrarye sterre of polus articus; of whiche [ 125] thinges if thou take kepe, thy first out-waye-going "prison" and "exile" may be cleped. The ground falsed underneth, and so hast thou fayled. No wight, I wene, blameth him that stinteth in misgoing, and secheth redy way of his blisse. Now me thinketh (quod she) that it suffyseth in my shewing; the wayes [ 130] by dignetè, richesse, renomè, and power, if thou loke clerely, arn no wayes to the knotte.'


'EVERY argument, lady,' quod I tho, 'that ye han maked in these fore-nempned maters, me thinketh hem in my ful witte conceyved; shal I no more, if god wil, in the contrarye be begyled. But fayn wolde I, and it were your wil, blisse of the knotte to me were declared. I might fele the better how my [ 5]

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herte might assente, to pursue the ende in service, as he hath begonne.'

'O,' quod she, 'there is a melodye in heven, whiche clerkes clepen "armony"; but that is not in brekinge of voice, but it is a maner swete thing of kyndely werching, that causeth joye[s] [ 10] out of nombre to recken, and that is joyned by reson and by wysdome in a quantitè of proporcion of knitting. God made al thing in reson and in witte of proporcion of melody, we mowe not suffyse to shewe. It is written by grete clerkes and wyse, that, in erthly thinges, lightly by studye and by travayle the knowinge [ 15] may be getten; but of suche hevenly melody, mokel travayle wol bringe out in knowing right litel. Swetenesse of this paradyse hath you ravisshed; it semeth ye slepten, rested from al other diseses; so kyndely is your herte therein y-grounded. Blisse of two hertes, in ful love knitte, may not aright ben imagined; ever [ 20] is their contemplacion, in ful of thoughty studye to plesaunce, mater in bringinge comfort everiche to other. And therfore, of erthly thinges, mokel mater lightly cometh in your lerning. Knowledge of understonding, that is nigh after eye, but not so nigh the covetyse of knittinge in your hertes. More soverain [ 25] desyr hath every wight in litel heringe of hevenly conninge than of mokel material purposes in erthe. Right so it is in propertee of my servauntes, that they ben more affiched in steringe of litel thinge in his desyr than of mokel other mater lasse in his conscience. This blisse is a maner of sowne delicious in [ 30] a queynte voice touched, and no dinne of notes; there is non impression of breking labour. I can it not otherwyse nempne, for wantinge of privy wordes, but paradyse terrestre ful of delicious melody, withouten travayle in sown, perpetual service in ful joye coveyted to endure. Only kynde maketh hertes in understonding [ 35] so to slepe, that otherwyse may it nat be nempned, ne in other maner names for lyking swetnesse can I nat it declare; al sugre and hony, al minstralsy and melody ben but soot and galle in comparison, by no maner proporcion to reken, in respect of this blisful joye. This armony, this melody, this perdurable joye may [ 40] nat be in doinge but betwene hevens and elementes, or twey kyndly hertes ful knit in trouth of naturel understonding, withouten weninge and disceit; as hevens and planettes, whiche thinges

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continually, for kyndly accordaunces, foryeteth al contrarious mevinges, that in-to passive diseses may sowne; evermore it [ 45] thirsteth after more werking. These thinges in proporcion be so wel joyned, that it undoth al thing whiche in-to badnesse by any way may be accompted.'

'Certes,' quod I, 'this is a thing precious and noble. Alas! that falsnesse ever, or wantrust shulde ever be maynteyned, this [ 50] joye to voyde. Alas! that ever any wrecche shulde, thorow wrath or envy, janglinge dare make, to shove this melody so farre a-backe, that openly dar it nat ben used; trewly, wrecches ben fulfilled with envy and wrathe, and no wight els. Flebring and tales in suche wrecches dare appere openly in every wightes [ 55] eere, with ful mouth so charged, [with] mokel malice moved many innocentes to shende; god wolde their soule therwith were strangled! Lo! trouth in this blisse is hid, and over-al under covert him hydeth; he dar not come a-place, for waytinge of shrewes. Commenly, badnesse goodnesse amaistreth; with my∣selfe [ 60] and my soule this joye wolde I bye, if the goodnesse were as moche as the nobley in melody.'

'O,' quod she, 'what goodnesse may be acompted more in this material worlde? Truly, non; that shalt thou understonde. Is nat every thing good that is contrariant and distroying yvel?' [ 65]

'How els?' quod I.

'Envy, wrathe, and falsnesse ben general,' quod she; 'and that wot every man being in his right mynde; the knotte, the whiche we have in this blisse, is contrariaunt and distroyeth such maner yvels. Ergo, it is good. What hath caused any wight [ 70] to don any good dede? Fynd me any good, but-if this knotte be the cheef cause. Nedes mot it be good, that causeth so many good dedes. Every cause is more and worthier than thing caused; and in that mores possession al thinges lesse ben compted. As the king is more than his people, and hath in [ 75] possession al his rëalme after, right so the knot is more than al other goodes; thou might recken al thinges lasse; and that to him longeth, oweth in-to his mores cause of worship and of wil †to turne; it is els rebel and out of his mores defending to voyde. Right so of every goodnesse; in-to the knotte and [ 80] in-to the cause of his worship [it] oweth to tourne. And trewly,

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every thing that hath being profitably is good, but nothing hath to ben more profitably than this knot; kinges it mayntayneth, and hem, their powers to mayntayne. It maketh misse to ben amended with good governaunce in doing. It closeth hertes [ 85] so togider, that rancour is out-thresten. Who that it lengest kepeth, lengest is glad[d]ed.'

'I trowe,' quod I, 'heretykes and misse-mening people hence∣forward wol maintayne this knotte; for therthorough shul they ben maintayned, and utterly wol turne and leve their olde yvel [ 90] understanding, and knitte this goodnesse, and profer so ferre in service, that name of servauntes might they have. Their jangles shal cese; me thinketh hem lacketh mater now to alege.'

'Certes,' quod Love, 'if they, of good wil thus turned, as thou sayst, wolen trewly perfourme, yet shul they be abled party [ 95] of this blisse to have; and they wol not, yet shul my servauntes the werre wel susteyne in myn helpe of maintenaunce to the ende. And they, for their good travayle, shullen in reward so ben meded, that endelesse joye body and soule †to-gider in this shullen abyden. There is ever accion of blisse withouten possible [ 100] corrupcion; there is accion perpetuel in werke without travayle; there is everlasting passife, withouten any of labour; continuel plyte, without cesinge coveyted to endure. No tonge may telle, ne herte may thinke the leest point of this blisse.'

'God bring me thider!' quod I than. [ 105]

'Continueth wel,' quod she, 'to the ende, and thou might not fayle than; for though thou spede not here, yet shal the passion of thy martred lyfe ben written, and rad toforn the grete Jupiter, that god is of routhe, an high in the holownesse of heven, there he sit in his trone; and ever thou shalt forward ben holden [ 110] amonge al these hevins for a knight, that mightest with no penaunce ben discomfited. He is a very martyr that, livingly goinge, is gnawen to the bones.'

'Certes,' quod I, 'these ben good wordes of comfort; a litel myne herte is rejoyced in a mery wyse.' [ 115]

'Ye,' quod she; 'and he that is in heven felith more joye, than whan he firste herde therof speke.'

'So it is,' quod I; 'but wist I the sothe, that after disese comfort wolde folowe with blisse, so as ye have often declared,

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I wolde wel suffre this passion with the better chere. But my [ 120] thoughtful sorowe is endelesse, to thinke how I am cast out of a welfare; and yet dayneth not this yvel non herte, non hede, to meward throwe: which thinges wolde greetly me by wayes of comfort disporte, to weten in my-selfe a litel with other me[n] ben y-moved; and my sorowes peysen not in her balaunce the [ 125] weyght of a peese. Slinges of her daunger so hevily peysen, they drawe my causes so hye, that in her eyen they semen but light and right litel.'

'O! for,' quod she, 'heven with skyes that foule cloudes maken and darke †weders, with gret tempestes and huge, [ 130] maketh the mery dayes with softe shyning sonnes. Also the yere with-draweth floures and beautee of herbes and of erth; the same †yere maketh springes and jolitè in Vere so to renovel with peinted coloures, that erthe semeth as gay as heven. Sees that blasteth and with wawes throweth shippes, of whiche the [ 135] living creatures for greet peril for hem dreden; right so, the same sees maketh smothe waters and golden sayling, and com∣forteth hem with noble haven that firste were so ferde. Hast thou not (quod she) lerned in thy youth, that Jupiter hath in his warderobe bothe garmentes of joye and of sorowe? What [ 140] wost thou how soone he wol turne of the garment of care, and clothe thee in blisse? Pardè, it is not ferre fro thee. Lo, an olde proverbe aleged by many wyse:—"Whan bale is greetest, than is bote a nye-bore." Wherof wilt thou dismaye? Hope wel and serve wel; and that shal thee save, with thy good bileve.' [ 145]

'Ye, ye,' quod I; 'yet see I not by reson how this blisse is coming; I wot it is contingent; it may falle on other.'

'O,' quod she, 'I have mokel to done to clere thyne under∣standing, and voyde these errours out of thy mynde. I wol prove it by reson, thy wo may not alway enduren. Every thing [ 150] kyndely (quod she) is governed and ruled by the hevenly bodyes, whiche haven ful werchinge here on erthe; and after course of these bodyes, al course of your doinges here ben governed and ruled by kynde.

Thou wost wel, by cours of planettes al your dayes proceden; [ 155] and to everich of singuler houres be enterchaunged stondmele

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about, by submitted worching naturally to suffre; of whiche changes cometh these transitory tymes that maketh revolving of your yeres thus stondmele; every hath ful might of worchinge, til al seven han had her course about. Of which worchinges and [ 160] possession of houres the dayes of the weke have take her names, after denominacion in these seven planettes. Lo, your Sonday ginneth at the first hour after noon on the Saturday, in whiche hour is than the Sonne in ful might of worching; of whom Son∣day taketh his name. Next him foloweth Venus, and after [ 165] Mercurius, and than the Moone; so than Saturnus, after whom Jovis; and than Mars; and ayen than the Sonne; and so forth †by .xxiiii. houres togider; in whiche hour ginning in the seconde day stant the Moone, as maister for that tyme to rule; of whom Monday taketh his name; and this course foloweth of al other [ 170] dayes generally in doing. This course of nature of these bodyes chaunging stinten at a certain terme, limitted by their first kynde; and of hem al governementes in this elemented worlde proceden, as in springes, constellacions, engendrures, and al that folowen kynde and reson; wherfore [in] the course that foloweth, sorowe [ 175] and joy kyndely moten entrechangen their tymes; so that alway oon wele, as alway oon wo, may not endure. Thus seest thou appertly, thy sorowe in-to wele mot ben chaunged; wherfore in suche case to better syde evermore enclyne thou shuldest. Trewly, next the ende of sorowe anon entreth joy; by maner [ 180] of necessitè it wol ne may non other betyde; and so thy conti[n]∣gence is disproved; if thou holde this opinion any more, thy wit is right leude. Wherfore, in ful conclusion of al this, thilke Margaryte thou desyrest hath ben to thee dere in thy herte, and for her hast thou suffred many thoughtful diseses; herafter shal [ 185] [she] be cause of mokel mirth and joye; and loke how glad canst thou ben, and cese al thy passed hevinesse with manifolde joyes. And than wol I as blythly here thee speken thy mirthes in joye, as I now have y-herd thy sorowes and thy complayntes. And if I mowe in aught thy joye encrese, by my trouthe, on [ 190] my syde shal nat be leved for no maner traveyle, that I with al my mightes right blythly wol helpe, and ever ben redy you bothe to plese.' And than thanked I that lady with al goodly

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maner that I worthily coude; and trewly I was greetly rejoysed in myne herte of her fayre behestes; and profered me to be [ 195] slawe, in al that she me wolde ordeyne, while my lyf lested.


'ME thinketh,' quod I, 'that ye have right wel declared, that way to the knot shuld not ben in none of these disprovinge thinges; and now, order of our purpos this asketh, that ye shulde me shewe if any way be †thider, and whiche thilke way shulde ben; so that openly may be seye the verry [ 5] hye way in ful confusioun of these other thinges.'

'Thou shalt,' quod she, 'understande that [of] one of three lyves (as I first sayd) every creature of mankynde is sprongen, and so forth procedeth. These lyves ben thorow names departed in three maner of kyndes, as bestialliche, manliche, and resona∣bliche; [ 10] of whiche two ben used by flesshely body, and the thirde by his soule. "Bestial" among resonables is forboden in every lawe and every secte, bothe in Cristen and other; for every wight dispyseth hem that liveth by lustes and delytes, as him that is thral and bounden servaunt to thinges right foule; suche [ 15] ben compted werse than men; he shal nat in their degree ben rekened, ne for suche one alowed. Heritykes, sayn they, chosen lyf bestial, that voluptuously liven; so that (as I first sayde to thee) in manly and resonable livinges our mater was to declare; but [by] "manly" lyfe, in living after flesshe, or els flesshly wayes [ 20] to chese, may nat blisse in this knotte be conquered, as by reson it is proved. Wherfore by "resonable" lyfe he must nedes it have, sithe a way is to this knotte, but nat by the firste tway lyves; wherfore nedes mot it ben to the thirde; and for to live in flesshe, but nat after flessh, is more resonablich than manliche rekened [ 25] by clerkes. Therfore how this way cometh in, I wol it blythely declare.

See now (quod she) that these bodily goodes of manliche livinges yelden †sorowfulle stoundes and smertande houres. Who∣so so †wol remembre him to their endes, in their worchinges they [ 30]

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ben thoughtful and sorie. Right as a bee that hath had his hony, anon at his flight beginneth to stinge; so thilke bodily goodes at the laste mote awaye, and than stinge they at her goinge, wher∣through entreth and clene voydeth al blisse of this knot.'

'Forsothe,' quod I, 'me thinketh I am wel served, in shewing [ 35] of these wordes. Although I hadde litel in respect among other grete and worthy, yet had I a fair parcel, as me thought, for the tyme, in forthering of my sustenaunce; whiche while it dured, I thought me havinge mokel hony to myne estat. I had richesse suffisauntly to weyve nede; I had dignitè to be reverenced in [ 40] worship. Power me thought that I had to kepe fro myne enemyes, and me semed to shyne in glorie of renomè as manhood asketh in mene; for no wight in myne administracion coude non yvels ne trechery by sothe cause on me putte. Lady, your-selve weten wel, that of tho confederacies maked by my soverains [ 45] I nas but a servaunt, and yet mokel mene folk wol fully ayenst reson thilke maters maynteyne, in whiche mayntenaunce [they] glorien them-selfe; and, as often ye haven sayd, therof ought nothing in yvel to be layd to me-wardes, sithen as repentaunt I am tourned, and no more I thinke, neither tho thinges ne [ 50] none suche other to sustene, but utterly distroye, without med∣linge maner, in al my mightes. How am I now cast out of al swetnesse of blisse, and mischevously [is] stongen my passed joy! Soroufully muste I bewayle, and live as a wrecche.

Every of tho joyes is tourned in-to his contrary. For richesse, [ 55] now have I povertè; for dignitè, now am I emprisoned; in stede of power, wrecchednesse I suffre; and for glorie of renomè, I am now dispysed and foulich hated. Thus hath farn Fortune, that sodaynly am I overthrowen, and out of al welth dispoyled. Trewly, me thinketh this way in entree is right hard; god graunt [ 60] me better grace er it be al passed; the other way, lady, me thought right swete.'

'Now, certes,' quod Love, 'me list for to chyde. What ayleth thy darke dulnesse? Wol it nat in clerenesse ben sharped? Have I nat by many resons to thee shewed, suche bodily goodes [ 65] faylen to yeve blisse, their might so ferforth wol nat strecche?

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Shame (quod she) it is to say, thou lyest in thy wordes. Thou ne hast wist but right fewe that these bodily goodes had al atones; commenly they dwellen nat togider. He that plentè hath in riches, of his kinne is ashamed; another of linage right noble and wel [ 70] knowe, but povert him handleth; he were lever unknowe. Another hath these, but renomè of peoples praysing may he nat have; overal he is hated and defamed of thinges right foule. Another is fair and semely, but dignitè him fayleth; and he that hath dignitè is croked or lame, or els misshapen and foully dis∣pysed. [ 75] Thus partable these goodes dwellen commenly; in one houshold ben they but silde. Lo! how wrecched is your truste on thing that wol nat accorde! Me thinketh, thou clepest thilke plyte thou were in "selinesse of fortune"; and thou sayest, for that the selinesse is departed, thou art a wrecch. Than foloweth [ 80] this upon thy wordes; every soule resonable of man may nat dye; and if deth endeth selinesse and maketh wrecches, as nedes of fortune maketh it an ende. Than soules, after deth of the body, in wrecchednesse shulde liven. But we knowe many that han geten the blisse of heven after their deth. How than may this [ 85] lyf maken men blisful, that whan it passeth it yeveth no wrecched∣nesse, and many tymes blisse, if in this lyfe he con live as he shulde? And wolt thou acompt with Fortune, that now at [t]he first she hath don thee tene and sorowe? If thou loke to the maner of al glad thinges and sorouful, thou mayst nat nay it, that [ 90] yet, and namely now, thou standest in noble plyte in a good ginning, with good forth-going herafter. And if thou wene to be a wrecch, for such welth is passed, why than art thou nat wel fortunate, for badde thinges and anguis wrecchednesse ben passed? Art thou now come first in-to the hostry of this lyfe, or els the [ 95] both of this worlde? Art thou now a sodayn gest in-to this wrecched exile? Wenest there be any thing in this erthe stable? Is nat thy first arest passed, that brought thee in mortal sorowe? Ben these nat mortal thinges agon with ignorance of beestial wit, and hast receyved reson in knowing of vertue? What comfort is [ 100] in thy herte, the knowinge sikerly in my service [to] be grounded? And wost thou nat wel, as I said, that deth maketh ende of al

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fortune? What than? Standest thou in noble plyte, litel hede or recking to take, if thou let fortune passe dy[i]ng, or els that she fly whan her list, now by thy lyve? Pardy, a man hath [ 105] nothing so leef as his lyf; and for to holde that, he doth al his cure and diligent traveyle. Than, say I, thou art blisful and fortunat sely, if thou knowe thy goodes that thou hast yet †beleved, whiche nothing may doute that they ne ben more worthy than thy lyf?' [ 110]

'What is that?' quod I.

'Good contemplacion,' quod she, 'of wel-doing in vertue in tyme coming, bothe in plesaunce of me and of thy Margarit-peerle. Hastely thyn hert in ful blisse with her shal be esed. Therfore dis∣may thee nat; Fortune, in hate grevously ayenst thy bodily person, [ 115] ne yet to gret tempest hath she nat sent to thee, sithen the holding cables and ankers of thy lyfe holden by knitting so faste, that thou discomforte thee nought of tyme that is now, ne dispayre thee not of tyme to come, but yeven thee comfort in hope of weldoing, and of getting agayn the double of thy lesing, with [ 120] encresing love of thy Margarite-perle therto! For this, hiderto, thou hast had al her ful daunger; and so thou might amende al that is misse and al defautes that somtyme thou diddest; and that now, in al thy tyme, to that ilke Margaryte in ful service of my lore thyne herte hath continued; wherfore she ought moche [ 125] the rather enclyne fro her daungerous sete. These thinges ben yet knit by the holding anker in thy lyve, and holden mote they; to god I pray, al these thinges at ful ben perfourmed. For whyle this anker holdeth, I hope thou shalt safely escape; and [in a] whyle thy trewe-mening service aboute bringe, in dispyte of al [ 130] false meners that thee of-newe haten; for [in] this trewe service thou art now entred.'

'Certayn,' quod I, 'among thinges I asked a question, whiche was the way to the knot. Trewly, lady, how-so it be I tempt you with questions and answers, in speking of my first service, I am [ 135] now in ful purpos in the pricke of the herte, that thilke service was an enprisonment, and alway bad and naughty, in no maner to be desyred; ne that, in getting of the knot, may it nothing aveyle. A wyse gentil herte loketh after vertue, and none other

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bodily joyes alone. And bycause toforn this in tho wayes I was [ 140] set, I wot wel my-selfe I have erred, and of the blisse fayled; and so out of my way hugely have I ronne.'

'Certes,' quod she, 'that is sothe; and there thou hast mis∣went, eschewe the path from hens-forward, I rede. Wonder I trewly why the mortal folk of this worlde seche these ways out∣forth; [ 145] and it is preved in your-selfe. Lo, how ye ben confounded with errour and folly! The knowing of very cause and way is goodnesse and vertue. Is there any thing to thee more precious than thy-selfe? Thou shalt have in thy power that thou woldest never lese, and that in no way may be taken fro thee; and thilke [ 150] thing is that is cause of this knot. And if deth mowe it nat reve more than an erthly creature, thilke thing than abydeth with thy∣selfe soule. And so, our conclusion to make, suche a knot, thus getten, abydeth with this thinge and with the soule, as long as they laste. A soule dyeth never; vertu and goodnesse evermore [ 155] with the soule endureth; and this knot is parfit blisse. Than this soule in this blisse endlesse shal enduren. Thus shul hertes of a trewe knot ben esed: thus shul their soules ben plesed: thus perpetually in joye shul they singe.'

'In good trouth,' quod I, 'here is a good beginning; yeve us [ 160] more of this way.'

Quod she, 'I said to thee nat longe sithen, that resonable lyf was oon of three thinges; and it was proved to the soule.


EVERY soule of reson hath two thinges of stering lyf, oon in vertue, and another in the bodily workinge; and whan the soule is the maister over the body, than is a man maister of him∣selfe. And a man, to be a maister over him-selfe, liveth in vertu and in goodnesse, and as reson of vertue techeth. So the soule and the [ 5] body, worching vertue togider, liven resonable lyf, whiche clerkes clepen "felicitè in living"; and therein is the hye way to this knot. These olde philosophers, that hadden no knowing of divine grace, of kyndly reson alone, wenden that of pure nature, withouten any

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helpe of grace, me might have y-shoned th'other livinges. [ 10] Resonably have I lived; and for I thinke herafter, if god wol, and I have space, thilke grace after my leude knowing declare, I leve it as at this tyme. But, as I said, he that out-forth loketh after the wayes of this knot, [his] conning with whiche he shulde knowe the way in-forth, slepeth for the tyme. Wherfore he that [ 15] wol this way knowe, must leve the loking after false wayes out∣forth, and open the eyen of his conscience, and unclose his herte. Seest nat, he that hath trust in the bodily lyfe is so besy bodily woundes to anointe, in keping from smert (for al-out may they nat be heled), that of woundes in his true understanding he taketh no [ 20] hede; the knowing evenforth slepeth so harde: but anon, as in knowing awake, than ginneth the prevy medicynes, for heling of his trewe intent, inwardes lightly †helen conscience, if it be wel handled. Than must nedes these wayes come out of the soule by stering lyfe of the body; and els may no man come to parfit [ 25] blisse of this knotte. And thus, by this waye, he shal come to the knotte, and to the parfit selinesse that he wende have had in bodily goodes outforth.'

'Ye,' quod I, 'shal he have both knot, riches, power, dignitè, and renomè in this maner way?' [ 30]

'Ye,' quod she, 'that shal I shewe thee. Is he nat riche that hath suffisaunce, and hath the power that no man may amaistrien? Is nat greet dignitè to have worship and reverence? And hath he nat glorie of renomè, whos name perpetual is during, and out of nombre in comparacion?' [ 35]

'These be thinges that men wenen to getten outforth,' quod I.

'Ye,' quod she; 'they that loken after a thing that nought is therof, in al ne in partie, longe mowe they gapen after!'

'That is sothe,' quod I.

'Therfore,' quod she, 'they that sechen gold in grene trees, and [ 40] wene to gader precious stones among vynes, and layn her nettes in mountains to fisshe, and thinken to hunte in depe sees after hart and hynd, and sechen in erth thilke thinges that surmounteth heven, what may I of hem say, but folisshe ignoraunce misledeth wandring wrecches by uncouth wayes that shulden be forleten, [ 45] and maketh hem blynde fro the right pathe of trewe way that

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shulde ben used? Therfore, in general, errour in mankynde departeth thilke goodes by mis-seching, whiche he shulde have hole, and he sought by reson. Thus goth he begyled of that he sought; in his hode men have blowe a jape.' [ 50]

'Now,' quod I, 'if a man be vertuous, and al in vertue liveth, how hath he al these thinges?'

'That shal I proven,' quod she. 'What power hath any man to lette another of living in vertue? For prisonment, or any other disese, [if] he take it paciently, discomfiteth he nat; the [ 55] tyrant over his soule no power may have. Than hath that man, so tourmented, suche power, that he nil be discomfit; ne over∣come may he nat ben, sithen pacience in his soule overcometh, and †is nat overcomen. Suche thing that may nat be a-maistred, he hath nede to nothing; for he hath suffisaunce y-now, to helpe [ 60] him-selfe. And thilke thing that thus hath power and suffisance, and no tyrant may it reve, and hath dignitè to sette at nought al thinges, here it is a greet dignitè, that deth may a-maistry. Wher∣fore thilke power [with] suffisaunce, so enclosed with dignitè, by al reson renomè must have. This is thilke riches with suffisaunce [ 65] ye sholde loke after; this is thilke worshipful dignitè ye shulde coveyte; this is thilke power of might, in whiche ye shulde truste; this is the ilke renomè of glorie that endlesse endureth; and al nis but substaunce in vertuous lyving.'

'Certes,' quod I, 'al this is sothe; and so I see wel that vertue [ 70] with ful gripe encloseth al these thinges. Wherfore in sothe I may saye, by my trouth, vertue of my Margarite brought me first in-to your service, to have knitting with that jewel, nat sodain longinges ne folkes smale wordes, but only our conversacion togider; and than I, seinge th'entent of her trewe mening with [ 75] florisshing vertue of pacience, that she used nothing in yvel, to quyte the wicked lesinges that false tonges ofte in her have laid, I have seye it my-selfe, goodly foryevenesse hath spronge out of her herte. Unitè and accord, above al other thinges, she desyreth in a good meke maner; and suffereth many wicked [ 80] tales.

Trewly, lady, to you it were a gret worship, that suche thinges by due chastisment were amended.'

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'Ye,' quod she, 'I have thee excused; al suche thinges as yet mowe nat be redressed; thy Margarites vertue I commende wel [ 85] the more, that paciently suche anoyes suffreth. David king was meke, and suffred mokel hate and many yvel speches; no despyt ne shame that his enemys him deden might nat move pacience out of his herte, but ever in one plyte mercy he used. Wherfore god him-selfe took reward to the thinges; and theron suche [ 90] punisshment let falle. Trewly, by reson, it ought be ensample of drede to al maner peoples mirth. A man vengeable in wrath no governance in punisshment ought to have. Plato had a cause his servant to †scourge, and yet cleped he his neibour to performe the doinge; him-selfe wolde nat, lest wrath had him a-maistred; and [ 95] so might he have layd on to moche: evermore grounded vertue sheweth th' entent fro within. And trewly, I wot wel, for her good∣nesse and vertue, thou hast desyred my service to her plesance wel the more; and thy-selfe therto fully hast profered.'

'Good lady,' quod I, 'is vertue the hye way to this knot that [ 100] long we have y-handled?'

'Ye, forsoth,' quod she, 'and without vertue, goodly this knot may nat be goten.'

'Ah! now I see,' quod I, 'how vertu in me fayleth; and I, as a seer tree, without burjoning or frute, alwaye welke; and [ 105] so I stonde in dispeyre of this noble knot; for vertue in me hath no maner workinge. A! wyde-where aboute have I traveyled!'

'Pees,' quod she, 'of thy first way; thy traveyle is in ydel; and, as touchinge the seconde way, I see wel thy meninge. Thou [ 110] woldest conclude me, if thou coudest, bycause I brought thee to service; and every of my servantes I helpe to come to this blisse, as I sayd here-beforn. And thou saydest thy-selfe, thou mightest nat be holpen as thou wenest, bycause that vertue in thee fayleth; and this blisse parfitly without vertue may nat be [ 115] goten; thou wenest of these wordes contradiccion to folowe. Pardè, at the hardest, I have no servant but he be vertuous in dede and thought. I brought thee in my service, yet art thou nat my servant; but I say, thou might so werche in vertue her∣after, that than shalt thou be my servant, and as for my servant [ 120]

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acompted. For habit maketh no monk; ne weringe of gilte spurres maketh no knight. Never-the-later, in confort of thyne herte, yet wol I otherwyse answere.'

'Certes, lady,' quod I tho, 'so ye muste nedes; or els I had nigh caught suche a †cardiacle for sorowe, I wot it wel, I shulde [ 125] it never have recovered. And therfore now I praye [thee] to enforme me in this; or els I holde me without recovery. I may nat long endure til this lesson be lerned, and of this mischeef the remedy knowen.'

'Now,' quod she, 'be nat wroth; for there is no man on-lyve [ 130] that may come to a precious thing longe coveited, but he somtyme suffre teneful diseses: and wenest thy-selfe to ben unliche to al other? That may nat ben. And with the more sorowe that a thing is getten, the more he hath joye the ilke thing afterwardes to kepe; as it fareth by children in scole, that for lerninge arn [ 135] beten, whan their lesson they foryetten. Commenly, after a good disciplyning with a yerde, they kepe right wel doctrine of their scole.'


RIGHT with these wordes, on this lady I threw up myne eyen, to see her countenaunce and her chere; and she, aperceyv∣ing this fantasye in myne herte, gan her semblaunt goodly on me caste, and sayde in this wyse.

'It is wel knowe, bothe to reson and experience in doinge, [ 5] every active worcheth on his passive; and whan they ben togider, "active" and "passive" ben y-cleped by these philosophers. If fyr be in place chafinge thing able to be chafed or hete[d], and thilke thinges ben set in suche a distaunce that the oon may werche, the other shal suffre. Thilke Margarite thou desyrest is [ 10] ful of vertue, and able to be active in goodnesse: but every herbe sheweth his vertue outforth from within. The sonne yeveth light, that thinges may be seye. Every fyr heteth thilke thing that it †neigheth, and it be able to be hete[d]. Vertue of this Margarite

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outforth †wercheth; and nothing is more able to suffre worching, [ 15] or worke cacche of the actife, but passife of the same actife; and no passife, to vertues of this Margaryte, but thee, in al my Donet can I fynde! So that her vertue muste nedes on thee werche; in what place ever thou be, within distaunce of her worthinesse, as her very passife thou art closed. But vertue may thee nothing [ 20] profyte, but thy desyr be perfourmed, and al thy sorowes cesed. Ergo, through werchinge of her vertue thou shalt esely ben holpen, and driven out of al care, and welcome to this longe by thee desyred!'

'Lady,' quod I, 'this is a good lesson in ginning of my joye; [ 25] but wete ye wel forsothe, though I suppose she have moche vertue, I wolde my spousaile were proved, and than may I live out of doute, and rejoice me greetly, in thinking of tho vertues so shewed.'

'I herde thee saye,' quod she, 'at my beginning, whan I receyved [ 30] thee firste for to serve, that thy jewel, thilke Margaryte thou desyrest, was closed in a muskle with a blewe shel.'

'Ye, forsothe,' quod I; 'so I sayd; and so it is.'

'Wel,' quod she, 'every-thing kyndly sheweth it-selfe; this jewel, closed in a blewe shel, [by] excellence of coloures sheweth [ 35] vertue from within; and so every wight shulde rather loke to the propre vertue of thinges than to his forayne goodes. If a thing be engendred of good mater, comenly and for the more part, it foloweth, after the congelement, vertue of the first mater (and it be not corrupt with vyces) to procede with encrees of good [ 40] vertues; eke right so it fareth of badde. Trewly, greet excellence in vertue of linage, for the more part, discendeth by kynde to the succession in vertues to folowe. Wherfore I saye, the †colour of every Margarit sheweth from within the fynesse in vertue. Kyndely heven, whan mery †weder is a-lofte, apereth in mannes [ 45] eye of coloure in blewe, stedfastnesse in pees betokening within and without. Margaryte is engendred by hevenly dewe, and sheweth in it-selfe, by fynenesse of colour, whether the engendrure were maked on morowe or on eve; thus sayth kynde of this perle. This precious Margaryte that thou servest, sheweth it-selfe [ 50] discended, by nobley of vertue, from this hevenlich dewe, norisshed

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and congeled in mekenesse, that †moder is of al vertues; and, by werkes that men seen withouten, the significacion of the coloures ben shewed, mercy and pitee in the herte, with pees to al other; and al this is y-closed in a muskle, who-so redily these vertues loken. [ 55] Al thing that hath soule is reduced in-to good by mene thinges, as thus: In-to god man is reduced by soules resonable; and so forth beestes, or bodyes that mowe not moven, after place ben reduced in-to manne by beestes †mene that moven from place to place. So that thilke bodyes that han felinge soules, and move [ 60] not from places, holden the lowest degree of soulinge thinges in felinge; and suche ben reduced in-to man by menes. So it foloweth, the muskle, as †moder of al vertues, halt the place of mekenesse, to his lowest degree discendeth downe of heven, and there, by a maner of virgine engendrure, arn these Margarytes [ 65] engendred, and afterward congeled. Made not mekenesse so lowe the hye heven, to enclose and cacche out therof so noble a dewe, that after congelement, a Margaryte, with endelesse vertue and everlasting joy, was with ful vessel of grace yeven to every creature, that goodly wolde it receyve?' [ 70]

'Certes,' quod I, 'these thinges ben right noble; I have er this herd these same sawes.'

'Than,' quod she, 'thou wost wel these thinges ben sothe?'

'Ye, forsothe,' quod I, 'at the ful.'

'Now,' quod she, 'that this Margaryte is ful of vertue, it is wel [ 75] proved; wherfore som grace, som mercy, among other vertues, I wot right wel, on thee shal discende?'

'Ye,' quod I; 'yet wolde I have better declared, vertues in this Margarite kyndely to ben grounded.'

'That shal I shew thee,' quod she, 'and thou woldest it lerne.' [ 80]

'Lerne?' quod I, 'what nedeth suche wordes? Wete ye nat wel, lady, your-selfe, that al my cure, al my diligence, and al my might, have turned by your counsayle, in plesaunce of that perle? Al my thought and al my studye, with your helpe, desyreth, in worshippe [of] thilke jewel, to encrese al my travayle and al my [ 85] besinesse in your service, this Margaryte to gladde in some halve. Me were lever her honour, her plesaunce, and her good chere

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thorow me for to be mayntayned and kept, and I of suche thinge in her lykinge to be cause, than al the welthe of bodily goodes ye coude recken. And wolde never god but I putte my-selfe in [ 90] greet jeopardy of al that I †welde, (that is now no more but my lyf alone), rather than I shulde suffre thilke jewel in any pointe ben blemisshed; as ferre as I may suffre, and with my mightes strecche.'

'Suche thing,' quod she, 'may mokel further thy grace, and [ 95] thee in my service avaunce. But now (quod Love) wilt thou graunte me thilke Margaryte to ben good?'

'O! good †god,' quod I, 'why tempte ye me and tene with suche maner speche? I wolde graunt that, though I shulde anon dye; and, by my trouthe, fighte in the quarel, if any wight wolde [ 100] countreplede.'

'It is so moche the lighter,' quod Love, 'to prove our entent.'

'Ye,' quod I; 'but yet wolde I here how ye wolde prove that she were good by resonable skil, that it mowe not ben denyed. For although I knowe, and so doth many other, manifold good∣nesse [ 105] and vertue in this Margaryte ben printed, yet some men there ben that no goodnesse speken; and, wher-ever your wordes ben herd and your resons ben shewed, suche yvel spekers, lady, by auctoritè of your excellence, shullen be stopped and ashamed! And more, they that han non aquayntaunce in her persone, yet [ 110] mowe they knowe her vertues, and ben the more enfourmed in what wyse they mowe sette their hertes, whan hem liste in-to your service any entree make. For trewly al this to beginne, I wot wel my-selfe that thilke jewel is so precious perle, as a womanly woman in her kynde; in whom of goodnesse, of vertue, and also [ 115] of answeringe shappe of limmes, and fetures so wel in al pointes acording, nothing fayleth. I leve that kynde her made with greet studye; for kynde in her person nothing hath foryet[en], and that is wel sene. In every good wightes herte she hath grace of commending and of vertuous praysing. Alas! that ever kynde [ 120] made her deedly! Save only in that, I wot wel, that Nature, in fourminge of her, in no-thinge hath erred.'

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'CERTES,' quod Love, 'thou hast wel begonne; and I aske thee this question: Is not, in general, every-thing good?'

'I not,' quod I.

'No?' quod she; '†saw not god everything that he made, and weren right good?' [ 5]

'Than is wonder,' quod I, 'how yvel thinges comen a-place, sithen that al thinges weren right good.'

'Thus,' quod she, 'I wol declare. Everiche qualitè and every accion, and every thing that hath any maner of beinge, it is of god; and god it made, of whom is al goodnesse and al being. [ 10] Of him is no badnesse. Badde to be, is naught; good to be, is somwhat; and therfore good and being is oon in under∣standing.'

'How may this be?' quod I. 'For often han shrewes me assailed, and mokel badnesse therin have I founden; and so me [ 15] semeth bad to be somwhat in kynde.'

'Thou shalt,' quod she, 'understande that suche maner badnesse, whiche is used to purifye wrong-doers, is somwhat; and god it made, and being [it] hath; and that is good. Other badnesse no being hath utterly; it is in the negative of somwhat, and that is [ 20] naught and nothing being. The parties essential of being arn sayd in double wyse, as that it is; and these parties ben founde in every creature. For al thing, a this halfe the first being, is being through participacion, taking partie of being; so that [in] every creature is difference bitwene being of him through whom [ 25] it is, and his own being. Right as every good is a maner of being, so is it good thorow being; for it is naught other to be. And every thing, though it be good, is not of him-selfe good; but it is good by that it is ordinable to the greet goodnesse. This dualitè, after clerkes †determinison, is founden in every [ 30] creature, be it never so single of onhed.'

'Ye,' quod I; 'but there-as it is y-sayd that god †saw every∣thing of his making, and [they] were right good (as your-selfe sayd to me not longe tyme sithen), I aske whether every creature

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is y-sayd "good" through goodnesse unfourmed eyther els fourmed; [ 35] and afterward, if it be accept utterly good?'

'I shal say thee,' quod she. 'These grete passed clerkes han devyded good in-to good being alone, and that is nothing but †god, for nothing is good in that wyse but god: also, in good by participacion, and that is y-cleped "good" for far fet and repre∣sentative [ 40] of †godly goodnesse. And after this maner manyfold good is sayd, that is to saye, good in kynde, and good in gendre, and good of grace, and good of joy. Of good in kynde Austen sayth, "al that ben, ben good." But peraunter thou woldest wete, whether of hem-selfe it be good, or els of anothers goodnesse: [ 45] for naturel goodnesse of every substaunce is nothing els than his substancial being, which is y-cleped "goodnesse" after comparison that he hath to his first goodnesse, so as it is inductatife by menes in-to the first goodnesse. Boece sheweth this thing at the ful, that this name "good" is, in general, name in kynde, as it is com∣parisoned [ 50] generally to his principal ende, which is god, knotte of al goodnesse. Every creature cryeth "god us made"; and so they han ful apeted to thilke god by affeccion such as to hem longeth; and in this wyse al thinges ben good of the gret god, which is good alone.' [ 55]

'This wonder thing,' quod I, 'how ye have by many resons proved my first way to be errour and misgoing, and cause[d] of badnesse and feble meninge in the grounde ye aleged to be roted. Whence is it that suche badnesse hath springes, sithen al thinges thus in general ben good, and badnesse hath no being, as ye have [ 60] declared? I wene, if al things ben good, I might than with the first way in that good have ended, and so by goodnesse have comen to blisse in your service desyred.'

'Al thing,' quod she, 'is good by being in participacion out of the firste goodnesse, whiche goodnesse is corrupt by badnesse [ 65] and badde-mening maners. God hath [ordeyned] in good thinges, that they ben good by being, and not in yvel; for there is absence of rightful love. For badnesse is nothing but only yvel wil of the user, and through giltes of the doer; wherfore, at the ginninge of the worlde, every thing by him-selfe was good; and in universal [ 70] they weren right good. An eye or a hand is fayrer and betterer

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in a body set, in his kyndely place, than from the body dissevered. Every thing in his kyndly place, being kyndly, good doth werche; and, out of that place voyded, it dissolveth and is defouled him∣selve. Our noble god, in gliterande wyse, by armony this world [ 75] ordeyned, as in purtreytures storied with colours medled, in whiche blacke and other derke colours commenden the golden and the asured paynture; every put in kyndely place, oon, besyde another, more for other glitereth. Right so litel fayr maketh right fayr more glorious; and right so, of goodnesse, and of other [ 80] thinges in vertue. Wherfore other badde and not so good perles as this Margaryte that we han of this matier, yeven by the ayre litel goodnesse and litel vertue, [maken] right mokel goodnesse and vertue in thy Margaryte to ben proved, in shyning wyse to be founde and shewed. How shulde ever goodnesse of pees have [ 85] ben knowe, but-if unpees somtyme reigne, and mokel yvel †wrathe? How shulde mercy ben proved, and no trespas were, by due justificacion, to be punisshed? Therfore grace and goodnesse of a wight is founde; the sorouful hertes in good meninge to endure, ben comforted; unitè and acord bitwene hertes knit in joye to [ 90] abyde. What? wenest thou I rejoyce or els accompte him among my servauntes that pleseth Pallas in undoinge of Mercurye, al-be-it that to Pallas he be knit by tytle of lawe, not according to resonable conscience, and Mercurie in doinge have grace to ben suffered; or els him that †weyveth the moone for fayrenesse of [ 95] the eve-sterre? Lo! otherwhyle by nightes, light of the moone greetly comforteth in derke thoughtes and blynde. Understanding of love yeveth greet gladnesse. Who-so list not byleve, whan a sothe tale is shewed, a dewe and a deblys his name is entred. Wyse folk and worthy in gentillesse, bothe of vertue and of [ 100] livinge, yeven ful credence in sothnesse of love with a good herte, there-as good evidence or experience in doinge sheweth not the contrarie. Thus mightest thou have ful preef in thy Margarytes goodnesse, by commendement of other jewels badnesse and yvelnesse in doing. Stoundemele diseses yeveth several houres [ 105] in joye.'

'Now, by my trouthe,' quod I, 'this is wel declared, that my

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Margaryte is good; for sithen other ben good, and she passeth manye other in goodnesse and vertue; wherthrough, by maner necessarie, she muste be good. And goodnesse of this Margaryte [ 110] is nothing els but vertue; wherfore she is vertuous; and if there fayled any vertue in any syde, there were lacke of vertue. Badde nothing els is, ne may be, but lacke and want of good and good∣nesse; and so shulde she have that same lacke, that is to saye, badde; and that may not be. For she is good; and that is good, [ 115] me thinketh, al good; and so, by consequence, me semeth, vertuous, and no lacke of vertue to have. But the sonne is not knowe but he shyne; ne vertuous herbes, but they have her kynde werchinge; ne vertue, but it strecche in goodnesse or profyt to another, is no vertue. Than, by al wayes of reson, sithen mercy and pitee ben [ 120] moste commended among other vertues, and they might never ben shewed, [unto] refresshement of helpe and of comfort, but now at my moste nede; and that is the kynde werkinge of these vertues; trewly, I wene, I shal not varye from these helpes. Fyr, and-if he yeve non hete, for fyre is not demed. The sonne, but [ 125] he shyne, for sonne is not accompted. Water, but it wete, the name shal ben chaunged. Vertue, but it werche, of goodnesse doth it fayle; and in-to his contrarie the name shal ben reversed. And these ben impossible; wherfore the contradictorie, that is necessarye, nedes muste I leve.' [ 130]

'Certes,' quod she, 'in thy person and out of thy mouthe these wordes lyen wel to ben said, and in thyne understanding to be leved, as in entent of this Margaryte alone. And here now my speche in conclusion of these wordes.


IN these thinges,' quod she, 'that me list now to shewe openly, shal be founde the mater of thy sicknesse, and what shal ben the medicyn that may be thy sorowes lisse and comfort, as wel thee as al other that amisse have erred and out of the way walked, so that any drope of good wil in amendement [ 5] [may] ben dwelled in their hertes. Proverbes of Salomon openly techeth, how somtyme an innocent walkid by the way in blynd∣nesse

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of a derke night; whom mette a woman (if it be leefly to saye) as a strumpet arayed, redily purveyed in turninge of thoughtes with veyne janglinges, and of rest inpacient, by dis∣simulacion [ 10] of my termes, saying in this wyse: "Com, and be we dronken of our swete pappes; use we coveitous collinges." And thus drawen was this innocent, as an oxe to the larder.'

'Lady,' quod I, 'to me this is a queynte thing to understande; I praye you, of this parable declare me the entent.' [ 15]

'This innocent,' quod she, 'is a scoler lerninge of my lore, in seching of my blisse, in whiche thinge the day of his thought turning enclyneth in-to eve; and the sonne, of very light faylinge, maketh derke night in his conninge. Thus in derknesse of many doutes he walketh, and for blyndenesse of understandinge, he ne [ 20] wot in what waye he is in; forsothe, suche oon may lightly ben begyled. To whom cam love fayned, not clothed of my livery, but [of] unlefful lusty habit, with softe speche and mery; and with fayre honyed wordes heretykes and mis-meninge people skleren and wimplen their errours. Austen witnesseth of an [ 25] heretyk, that in his first beginninge he was a man right expert in resons and swete in his wordes; and the werkes miscorden. Thus fareth fayned love in her firste werchinges. Thou knowest these thinges for trewe; thou hast hem proved by experience somtyme, in doing to thyne owne person; in whiche thing thou hast [ 30] founde mater of mokel disese. Was not fayned love redily purveyed, thy wittes to cacche and tourne thy good thoughtes? Trewly, she hath wounded the conscience of many with florissh∣inge of mokel jangling wordes; and good worthe thanked I it for no glose. I am glad of my prudence thou hast so manly her [ 35] †weyved. To me art thou moche holden, that in thy kynde course of good mening I returne thy mynde. I trowe, ne had I shewed thee thy Margaryte, thou haddest never returned. Of first in good parfit joye was ever fayned love impacient, as the water of Siloë, whiche evermore floweth with stilnesse and privy [ 40] noyse til it come nighe the brinke, and than ginneth it so out of mesure to bolne, with novelleries of chaunging stormes, that in course of every renning it is in pointe to spille al his circuit of †bankes. Thus fayned love prively, at the fullest of his flowinge,

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[ginneth] newe stormes [of] debat to arayse. And al-be-it that [ 45] Mercurius [servants] often with hole understandinge knowen suche perillous maters, yet Veneriens so lusty ben and so leude in their wittes, that in suche thinges right litel or naught don they fele; and wryten and cryen to their felawes: "here is blisse, here is joye"; and thus in-to one same errour mokel folk they [ 50] drawen. "Come," they sayen, "and be we dronken of our pappes"; that ben fallas and lying glose, of whiche mowe they not souke milke of helthe, but deedly venim and poyson, corrupcion of sorowe. Milke of fallas is venim of disceyt; milke of lying glose is venim of corrupcion. Lo! what thing cometh out of these [ 55] pappes! "Use we coveited collinges"; desyre we and meddle we false wordes with sote, and sote with false! Trewly, this is the sori∣nesse of fayned love; nedes, of these surfettes sicknesse muste folowe. Thus, as an oxe, to thy langoring deth were thou drawen; the sote of the smoke hath thee al defased. Ever the deper thou [ 60] somtyme wadest, the soner thou it founde; if it had thee killed, it had be litel wonder. But on that other syde, my trewe servaunt[s] not faynen ne disceyve conne; sothly, their doinge is open; my foundement endureth, be the burthen never so greet; ever in one it lasteth. It yeveth lyf and blisful goodnesse [ 65] in the laste endes, though the ginninges ben sharpe. Thus of two contraries, contrarye ben the effectes. And so thilke Margaryte thou servest shal seen thee, by her service out of perillous tribulacion delivered, bycause of her service in-to newe disese fallen, by hope of amendement in the laste ende, with joye [ 70] to be gladded. Wherfore, of kynde pure, her mercy with grace of good helpe shal she graunte; and els I shal her so strayne, that with pitè shal she ben amaystred. Remembre in thyne herte how horribly somtyme to thyne Margaryte thou trespasest, and in a grete wyse ayenst her thou forfeytest! Clepe ayen thy [ 75] mynde, and know thyne owne giltes. What goodnesse, what bountee, with mokel folowing pitè founde thou in that tyme? Were thou not goodly accepted in-to grace? By my pluckinge was she to foryevenesse enclyned. And after, I her styred to drawe thee to house; and yet wendest thou utterly for ever [ 80] have ben refused. But wel thou wost, sithen that I in suche

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sharpe disese might so greetly avayle, what thinkest in thy wit? How fer may my wit strecche? And thou lache not on thy syde, I wol make the knotte. Certes, in thy good bering I wol acorde with the psauter: "I have founde David in my service true, and [ 85] with holy oyle of pees and of rest, longe by him desyred, utterly he shal be anoynted." Truste wel to me, and I wol thee not fayle. The †leving of the first way with good herte of continuance that I see in thee grounded, this purpose to parfourme, draweth me by maner of constrayning, that nedes muste I ben thyne helper. [ 90] Although mirthe a whyle be taried, it shal come at suche seson, that thy thought shal ben joyed. And wolde never god, sithen thyne herte to my resons arn assented, and openly hast confessed thyne amisse-going, and now cryest after mercy, but-if mercy folowed; thy blisse shal ben redy, y-wis; thou ne wost how sone. [ 95] Now be a good child, I rede. The kynde of vertues, in thy Margaryte rehersed, by strength of me in thy person shul werche. Comfort thee in this; for thou mayst not miscary.' And these wordes sayd, she streyght her on length, and rested a whyle.

¶ Thus endeth the seconde book, and here after foloweth the thirde book.