Chaucer's translation of Boethius's "De consolatione philosphiæ"
Richard Morris



After þis she stynte a litel. and after þat she hadde gadred by atempre stillenesse myn attencioun she seide þus. ¶ As who so myȝt[e] seye þus. After þise þinges she stynt[e] a lytel. and whanne she aperceiued[e] by atempre stillenesse þat I was ententif to herkene hire. she bygan to speke in þis wyse. ¶ Yif Page  30I quod she haue vnderstonden and knowe vtterly þe causes and þe habit of þi maladie. þou languissed and art deffeted for talent and desijr of þi raþer fortune. ¶ She þat ilke fortune only þat is chaunged as þou feinest to þe ward. haþ peruerted þe clerenesse and þe astat of þi corage. ¶ I vnderstonde þe felefolde colour and deceites of þilke merueillous monstre fortune. and how she vseþ ful flatryng familarite wiþ hem þat she enforceþ to bygyle. so longe til þat she confounde wiþ vnsuffreable sorwe hem þat she haþ left in despeir vnpurueyed. ¶ and if þou remembrest wel þe kynde þe maners and þe desert of þilke fortune. þow shalt wel knowe as in hir þou neuer ne haddest ne hast ylost any fair þing. But as I trowe I shal not gretly trauaile to don þe remembren of þise þinges. ¶ For þou were wont to hurtlen [and despysen] hir wiþ manly wordes whan she was blaundissinge and presente and pursewedest hir wiþ sentences þat were drawen oute of myne entre. þat is to seyne out of myn informacioun ¶ But no sudeyne mutacioun ne bytideþ nat wiþ outen a maner chaungyng of curages. and so is it byfallen þat þou art departed a litel fro þe pees of þi þouȝt. but now is tyme þat þou drynke and atast[e] some softe and delitable þinges. so þat whan þei ben entred wiþ inne þe. it mow make weye to strenger drynkes of medycynes. ¶ Com nowe furþe þerfore þe suasioun of swetnesse Rethoryen. whiche þat goþ oonly þe ryȝt wey whil she forsakeþ not myne estatutȝ. ¶ And wiþ Rethorice com forþe musice a damoisel of oure house þat syngeþ now lyȝter moedes Page  31or prolaciouns now heuyer [fol. 9] what ayleþ þe man. what is it þat haþ cast þe in to murnyng and in to wepyng. I trow[e] þat þou hast sen some newe þing and uncouþe. ¶ Þou wenest þat fortune be chaunged aȝeins þe ¶ But þou wenest wrong. yif þou [þat] wene. Alwey þo ben hire maners. she haþ raþer [kept] as to þe ward hire propre stablenes in þe chaungyng of hyre self. ¶ Ryȝt swyche was she whan she flatered[e] þe. and desseiued[e] þe wiþ vnleueful lykynges of false welefulnesse. þou hast now knowen and ataynt þe doutous or double visage of þilke blynde goddesse fortune. ¶ She þat ȝit couereþ hir and wympleþ hir to oþer folk. haþ shewed hir euerydel to þe. ¶ Ȝif þou approuest hir and þenkest þat she is good. vse hir maners and pleyne þe nat. ¶ And if þou agrisest hir fals[e] trecherie. dispise and cast aweye hir þat pleyeþ so harmefully. for she þat is now cause of so myche sorwe to þe. sholde be to þe cause of pees and [of] ioie. ¶ she haþ forsaken þe forsoþe. þe whiche þat neuer man may be syker þat she ne shal forsake hym. Glose. ¶ But naþeles some bookes han þe text þus. For soþe she haþ forsaken þe ne þer nis no man syker þat she ne haþ not forsaken. ¶ Holdest þou þan þilke welefulnesse preciouse to þe þat shal passen. and is present fortune derworþi to þe. whiche þat nis not feiþful forto dwelle. and whan she goþ aweye þat she bryngeþ a wyȝt in sorwe ¶ For syn she may nat be wiþholden at a mans wille. she makeþ hym a wrecche when she departeþ fro hym. ¶ What oþer þing is Page  32flitting fortune but a manere shewyng of wrycchednesse þat is to comen. ne it ne suffriþ nat oo[n]ly to loken of þing þat is present byforne þe eyen of man. but wisdom lokeþ and mesureþ þe ende of þinges. and þe same chaungyng from one to an oþer. þat is to seyne fro aduersite to prosperite makeþ þat þe manaces of fortune ne ben not forto dreden. ne þe flatrynges of hir to ben desired. ¶ Þus atte þe last it byhoueþ þe to suffren wiþ euene wille in pacience al þat is don inwiþ þe floor of fortune. þat is to seyne in þis worlde. ¶ Syþen þou hast oones put þi nekke vnder þe ȝokke of hir. for if þou wilt write a lawe of wendyng and of dwellyng to fortune whiche þat þou hast chosen frely to be þi lady ¶ Art þou nat wrongful in þat and makest fortune wroþe and aspere by þin inpacience. and ȝit þou mayst not chaungen hir. ¶ Yif þou committest [and] bitakest þi sayles to þe wynde. þou shalt be shouen not þider þat þou woldest(:) but whider þat þe wynde shoueþ þe ¶ Yif þou castest þi seedes in þe feldes þou sholdest haue in mynde þat þe ȝeres ben oþer while plenteuous and oþer while bareyne. ¶ Þou hast bytaken þiself to þe gouernaunce of fortune. and forþi it byhoueþ þe to ben obeisaunt to þe manere of þi lady. and enforcest þou þe to aresten or wiþstonden þe swyftnesse and þe sweyes of hir tournyng whele. ¶ O þou fool of alle mortel fooles if fortune bygan to dwelle stable. she cesed[e] þan to ben fortune.

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Whan fortune wiþ a proude ryȝt hande haþ turnid hir chaungyng stoundes she fareþ lyke þe maners of þe boillyng eurippe. Glose . Eurippe is an arme of þe see þat ebbith and flowiþ. and somtyme þe streme is on one syde and somtyme on þat oþer.Texte¶ She cruel fortune kasteþ adoune kynges þat somtyme weren ydred. and she deceiuable enhaunseth vp þe humble chere of hym þat is discomfited. and she neyþer hereþ ne reccheþ of wrecched[e] wepynges. and she is so harde þat she lauȝeþ and scorneþ þe wepyng of hem þe whiche she haþ maked wepe wiþ hir free wille. ¶ Þus she pleyeþ and þus she preueþ hir strengþe and sheweþ a grete wondre to alle hir seruauntȝ. ¶ Yif þat a wyȝt is seyn weleful and ouerþrowe in an houre.


CErtis I wolde plete wiþ þee a fewe þinges vsynge þe wordes of fortune tak heede now þi self. yif þat she axeþ ryȝt [fol. 9b] ¶ O þou man wher fore makest þou me gilty by þine euerydayes pleynynges. what wronges haue I don þe. what goodes haue I byreft þe þat weren þine. stryf or plete wiþ me by fore what iuge þat þou wilt of þe possessioun of rycchesse or of dignites ¶ And yif þou maist shewe me þat euer any mortal man haþ receyued any of þese þinges to ben his in propre. þan wol I graunt[e] frely þat [alle] þilke þinges weren þine whiche þat þou axest. ¶ Whan þat nature brouȝt[e] þe forþe out of þi moder wombe. I receyued[e] þe naked Page  34and nedy of al þing. and I norysshed[e] þe wiþ my rychesse. and was redy and ententif þoruȝ my fauour to sustene þe. ¶ And þat makeþ þe now inpacient aȝeins me. and I envirounde þe wiþ al þe habundaunce and shinyng of al goodes þat ben in my ryȝt. ¶ Now it lykeþ me to wiþ drawe myne hande. þou hast had grace as he þat haþ vsed of foreyne goodes. þou hast no ryȝt to pleyne þe. as þouȝ þou haddest vtterly lorn alle þi þinges. whi pleynest þou þan. I haue don þe no wrong. Ricches honoures and swyche oþer þinges ben of my ryȝt. ¶ My seruauntes knowen me for hir lady. þei comen wiþ me and departen whan I wende. I dar wel affermen hardyly. þat yif þo þinges of whiche þou pleynest þat þou hast forlorn hadde ben þine. þou ne haddest not lorn hem. ¶ shal I þan only be defended to vse my ryȝt. ¶ Certis it is leueful to þe heuene to make clere dayes. and after þat to keuere þe same dayes wiþ derke nyȝtes. ¶ Þe erþe haþ eke leue to apparaile þe visage of þe erþe now with floures and now wiþ fruyt. and to confounde hem somtyme wiþ raynes and wiþ coldes. ¶ Þe see haþ eke hys ryȝt to be somtyme calme and blaundyshing wiþ smoþe water. and somtyme to be horrible wiþ wawes and wiþ tempestes. ¶ But þe couetyse of men þat may not be staunched shal it bynde me to be stedfast. syn þat stedfastnesse is vnkouþ to my maneres. ¶ Swyche is my strengþe. and þis pley. I pley[e] continuely. I tourne þe whirlyng whele wiþ þe tournyng cercle ¶ I am glade to chaunge þe lowest to þe heyeste. and þe heyest to þe loweste. Page  35worþe vp yif þou wilt. so it be by þis lawe. þat þou ne holde not þat I do þe wronge þouȝ þou descende doun whanne resoun of my pleye axeþ it. Wost þou not how Cresus kyng of lyndens of whiche kyng Cirus was ful sore agast a litel byforne þat þis rewlyche Cresus was cauȝt of Cirus and lad to þe fijr to be brent. but þat a reyne descended[e] doun from heuene þat rescowed[e] hym ¶ And is it out of þi mynde how þat Paulus consul of Rome whan he hadde take þe kyng of perciens weep pitou[s]ly for þe captiuitee of þe self[e] kyng. What oþer þinges bywaylen þe criinges of Tragedies. but only þe dedes of fortune. þat wiþ an vnwar stroke ouerturneþ þe realmes of grete nobley ¶ Glose. Tragedie is to seyne a dite of a prosperite for a tyme þat endiþ in wrechednesse. Lernedest nat þou in grek whan þou were ȝonge þat in þe entre or in þe seler of Iuppiter þer ben couched two tunnes. þat on is ful of good þat oþer is ful of harme. ¶ What ryȝt hast þou to pleyne. yif þou hast taken more plenteuously of þe goode syde þat is to seyne of my rycchesse and prosperites. and what eke. yif I be nat departed fro þe. What eke. yif my mutabilitee ȝiueþ þe ryȝtful cause of hope to han ȝit better þinges. ¶ Naþeles desmaie þe nat in þi þouȝt. and þou þat art put in comune realme of alle: ne desijr[e] nat to lyue by þine oonly propre ryȝt.


Þouȝ plentee þat is goddesse of rycches hielde adoun wiþ ful horn. and wiþdraweþ nat hir hand. ¶ As many recches as þe see turneþ vpwardes sandes whan it Page  36is moeued wiþ rauysshing blastes. or ellys as many rycches as þer shynen bryȝt[e] sterres on heuene on þe sterry nyȝt. ȝit for al þat mankynde nolde not cesce to wope wrecched[e] pleyntes. ¶ And al be it so [fol. 10] þat god receyueþ gladly her prayers and ȝeueþ hem as ful large muche golde and apparaileþ coueytous folk wiþ noble or clere honours. ȝit semeþ hem haue I-gete noþing but alwey her cruel ravyne deuourynge al þat þei han geten shewiþ oþer gapinges. þat is to seye gapen and desiren ȝit after moo rycchesse. ¶ What brideles myȝten wiþholde to any certeyne ende þe desordene coueitise of men ¶ Whan euere þe raþer þat it fletiþ in large ȝiftis: þe more ay brenneþ in hem þe þrest of hauyng. ¶ Certis he þat quakyng and dredeful weneþ hym seluen nedy. he ne lyueþ neuere mo ryche.


Þerfore yif þat fortune spake wiþ þe for hir self in þis manere. For soþe þou ne haddest [nat] what þou myȝtest answere. and if þou hast any þing wherwiþ. þou mayist ryȝtfully tellen þi compleynt. ¶ It byhoueþ þe to shewen it. and .I. wol ȝeue þe space to tellen it. ¶ Certeynely quod I þan þise ben faire þinges and enoyntid wiþ hony swetnesse of rethorike and musike. and only while þei ben herd þei ben deliciouse. ¶ But to wrecches is a deppere felyng of harme. þis is to seyn þat wrecches felen þe harmes þat þei suffren more greuously þan þe remedies or þe delites of þise wordes mowe gladen or comforten hem. so þat Page  37whan þise þinges stynten forto soun[e] in eres. þe sorwe þat is inset greueþ þe þouȝt. Ryȝt so is it quod she. ¶ For þise ne ben ȝit none remedies of þi maladie. but þei ben a manere norissinges of þi sorwe ȝit rebel aȝeyne þi curacioun. ¶ For whan þat tyme is. I shal moue swiche þinges þat percen hem self depe. ¶ But naþeles þat þou shalt not wilne to leten þi self a wrecche. ¶ Hast þou forȝeten þe noumbre and þe manere of þi welefulnesse. I holde me stille how þat þe souerayn men of þe Citee token þe in cure and kepynge whan þou were orphelyn of fadir and modir. and were chosen in affinite of princes of þe Citee. ¶ And þou bygunne raþer to ben leef and deere þan forto ben a neyȝbour. þe whiche þing is þe most preciouse kynde of any propinquitee or aliaunce þat may ben. ¶ Who is it þat ne seide þou nere ryȝt weleful wiþ so grete a nobley of þi fadres in lawe. ¶ And wiþ þe chastite of þi wijf. and wiþ þe oportunite and noblesse of þi masculyn children. þat is to seyne þi sones and ouer al þis me lyst to passe of comune þinges. ¶ How þou haddest in þi þouȝt dignitees þat weren warned to olde men. but it deliteþ me to comen now to þe singuler vphepyng of þi welefulnesse. ¶ Yif any fruyt of mortal þinges may han any weyȝte or price of welefulnesse. ¶ Myȝtest þou euere forȝeten for any charge of harme þat myȝt[e] byfallen. þe remembraunce of þilke day þat þou sey[e] þi two sones maked conseillers. and ylad to gidre from þin house vndir so gret assemble of senatours. and vndir þe blyþenesse of poeple. and whan þou say[e] hem sette in þe court in her Page  38chaieres of dignites. ¶ Þou rethorien or pronouncere of kynges preysinges. deseruedest glorie of wit and of eloquence. whan þou sittyng bytwix þi two sones conseillers in þe place þat hyȝt Circo. and fulfildest þe abydyng of multitude of poeple þat was sprad about þe wiþ large praysynge and laude as men syngen in victories. þo ȝaue þou wordes of fortune as I trowe. þat is to seyne. þo feffedest þou fortune wiþ glosynge wordes and desseiuedest hir. whan she accoied[e] þe and norsshed[e] þe as hir owen delices. ¶ Þou hast had of fortune a ȝifte þat is to seyn swiche gerdoun þat she neu[er]e ȝaf to preue man ¶ Wilt þou þerfore leye a rekenyng wiþ fortune. she haþ now twynkeled first vpon þe wiþ a wykked eye. ¶ Yif þou considere þe noumbre and þe manere of þi blysses. and of þi sorwes. [fol. 10b] þou maist nat forsake þat þou nart ȝit blysful. For if þou þerfore wenest þi self nat weleful for þinges þat þo semeden ioyful ben passed. ¶ Þer nis nat whi þou sholdest wene þi self a wrecche. for þinges þat now semen soory passen also. ¶ Art þou now comen firste a sodeyne gest in to þe shadowe or tabernacle of þis lijf. or trowest þou þat any stedfastnesse be in mannis þinges. ¶ Whan ofte a swifte houre dissolueþ þe same man. þat is to seyne whan þe soule departiþ fro þe body. For al þouȝ þat yelde is þer any feiþ þat fortunous þinges willen dwelle. ȝit naþeles þe last[e] day of a mannis lijf is a manere deeþ to fortune. and also to þilke þat haþ dwelt. and þerfore what wenist þou þar recche yif þou forlete hir in deynge or ellys þat she fortune forlete þe in fleenge awey. Page  39


Whan phebus þe sonne bygynneþ to spreden his clerenesse with rosene chariettes. þan þe sterre ydimmyd paleþ hir white cheres. by þe flamus of þe sonne þat ouer comeþ þe sterre lyȝt. ¶ Þis is to seyn whan þe sonne is risen þe day sterre wexiþ pale and lesiþ hir lyȝt for þe grete bryȝtnesse of þe sonne. ¶ Whan þe wode wexeþ redy of rosene floures in þe first somer sesoun þoruȝ þe breþe of þe wynde Zephirus þat wexeþ warme. ¶ Yif þe cloudy wynde auster blowe felliche. þan goþ awey þe fayrnesse of þornes. Ofte þe see is clere and calme wiþoute moeuyng floodes. And ofte þe horrible wynde aquilon moeueþ boylyng tempestes and ouer whelweþ þe see. ¶ Yif þe forme of þis worlde is so [ȝeelde] stable. and yif it tourniþ by so many entrechaungynges. wilt þou þan trusten in þe trublynge fortunes of men. wilt þou trowen in flittyng goodes. It is certeyne and establissed by lawe perdurable þat no þing þat is engendred nys stedfast no stable.


Þanne seide I þus. O norice of alle uertues þou seist ful soþe. ¶ Ne I may nat forsake þe ryȝt[e] swifte cours of my prosperitee. þat is to seine. þat prosperitee ne be comen to me wondir swiftly and soone. but þis is a þing þat gretly smertiþ me whan it remembreþ me. ¶ For in alle aduersitees of fortune þe most vnsely kynde of contrariouse fortune is to han ben weleful. ¶ But þat þou quod she abaist þus þe tourment of þi fals[e] opinioun þat maist þou not ryȝtfully Page  40blamen ne aretten to þinges. as who seiþ for þou hast ȝitte many habundaunces of þinges. ¶ Textus. For al be it so þat þe ydel name of auenterouse welefulnesse moeueþ þe now. it is leueful þat þou rekene with me of how many[e] þinges þou hast ȝit plentee. ¶ And þerfore yif þat þilke þing þat þou haddest for most precious in alle þi rycchesse of fortune be kept to þe by þe grace of god vnwemmed and vndefouled. Mayst þou þan pleyne ryȝtfully vpon þe myschief of fortune. syn þou hast ȝit þi best[e] þinges. ¶ Certys ȝit lyueþ in goode poynt þilke precious honour of mankynde. ¶ Symacus þi wyues fadir whiche þat is a man maked al of sapience and of vertue. þe whiche man þou woldest b[i]en redely wiþ þe pris of þin owen lijf. he byweyleþ þe wronges þat men don to þee. and not for hym self. for he liueþ in sykernesse of any sentence put aȝeins hym. ¶ And ȝit lyueþ þi wif þat is attempre of witte and passyng oþer women in clennes of chastitee. and for I wol closen shortly her bountes she is lyke to hir fadir. I telle þe welle þat she lyueþ looþ of hir life. and kepiþ to þee oonly hir goost. and is al maat and ouer-comen by wepyng and sorwe for desire of þe ¶ In þe whiche þing only I mot graunten þat þi welefulnesse is amenused. ¶ What shal I seyn eke of þi two sones conseillours of whiche as of children of hir age þer shineþ [fol. 11] þe lyknesse of þe witte of hir fadir and of hir eldefadir. and siþen þe souereyn cure of alle mortel folke is to sauen hir owen lyues. ¶ O how weleful art þou þouȝ þou knowe þi goodes. Page  41¶ But ȝitte ben þer þinges dwellyng to þe wardes þat no man douteþ þat þei ne ben more derworþe to þe þen þine owen lijf. ¶ And forþi drie þi teres for ȝitte nys nat eueriche fortune al hateful to þe warde. ne ouer greet tempest haþ nat ȝit fallen vpon þe. whan þat þin ancres cliue fast[e] þat neiþer wole suffre þe comfort of þis tyme present. ne þe hope of tyme comynge to passen ne to fallen. ¶ And I preie quod I þat fast[e] mot[en] þei holden. ¶ For whiles þat þei halden. how so euere þat þinges ben. I shal wel fleten furþe and eschapen. ¶ But þou mayst wel seen how greet[e] apparailes and aray þat me lakkeþ þat ben passed awey fro me. ¶ I haue sumwhat auauneed and forþered þe quod she. if þat þou anoie nat or forþenke nat of al þi fortune. As who seiþ. ¶ I haue somwhat comforted þe so þat þou tempest nat þe þus wiþ al þi fortune. syn þou hast ȝit þi best[e] þinges. ¶ But I may nat suffre þin delices. þat pleinst so wepyng. and anguissous for þat oþer lakkeþ somwhat to þi welefulnesse. ¶ For what man is so sad or of so perfit welefulnesse. þat he ne stryueþ or pleyneþ on some half aȝeine þe qualitee of his estat. ¶ For whi ful anguissous þing is þe condicioun of mans goodes. ¶ For eyþer it comeþ al to gidre to a wyȝt. or ellys it lasteþ not perpetuely. ¶ For som man haþ grete rycchesse. but he is asshamed of hys vngentil lynage. and som man is renomed of noblesse of kynrede. but he is enclosed in so grete angre for nede of þinges. þat hym were leuer þat he were vnknowe. and som man habundeþ boþe in rychesse and noblesse. but ȝit he bywaileþ hys chast[e] Page  42lijf. for he haþ no wijf. ¶ and som man is wel and selily maried but he haþ no children. and norissheþ his ricchesse to þe heires of straunge folk. ¶ And som man is gladded wiþ children. but he wepiþ ful sory for þe trespas of his son or of his douȝtir. ¶ and for þis þer accordeþ no wyȝt lyȝtly to þe condicioun of his fortune. for alwey to euery man þere is in mest somwhat þat vnassaieþ he ne wot not or ellys he drediþ þat he haþ assaied. ¶ And adde þis also þat euery weleful man haþ a wel delicat felyng. ¶ So þat but yif alle þinges fallen at hys owen wille for he inpacient or is nat vsed to han none aduersitee. an-oone he is þrowe adoūne for euery lytel þing. ¶ And ful lytel þinges ben þo þat wiþdrawen þe somme or þe perfeccioun of blisfulnesse fro hem þat ben most fortunat. ¶ How many men trowest þou wolde demen hem self to ben almost in heuene yif þei myȝten atteyne to þe leest[e] partie of þe remenaunt of þi fortune. ¶ Þis same place þat þou clepist exil is contre to hem þat enhabiten here. and forþi. Noþing wrecched. but whan þou wenest it ¶ As who seiþ. þouȝ þi self ne no wyȝt ellys nys no wrecche but whan he weneþ hym self a wrecche by reputacioun of his corage.


And aȝeinewarde al fortune is blisful to a man by þe agreablete or by þe egalite of hym þat suffreþ it. ¶ What man is þat. þat is so weleful þat nolde chaungen his estat whan he haþ lorn pacience. þe swetnesse of mannes welefulnesse is yspranid wiþ many[e] bitternesses. Page  43þe whiche welefulnesse al þouȝ it seme swete and ioyeful to hym þat vseþ it. ȝit may it not be wiþ-holden þat it ne goþ away whan it wol. ¶ Þan is it wel sen how wrecched is þe blisfulnesse of mortel þinges. þat neiþer it dwelliþ perpetuel wiþ hem þat euery fortune receyuen agreablely or egaly. ¶ Ne it ne deliteþ not in al. to hem þat ben anguissous. ¶ O ye mortel folkes what seke [fol. 11b] ȝe þan blisfulnesse oute of ȝoure self. whiche þat is put in ȝoure self. Errour and folie confoundeþ ȝow ¶ I shal shewe þe shortly. þe poynt of souereyne blisfulnesse. Is þer any þing to þe more preciouse þan þi self ¶ Þou wilt answere nay. ¶ Þan if it so be þat þou art myȝty ouer þi self þat is to seyn by tranquillitee of þi soule. þan hast þou þing in þi power þat þou noldest neuer lesen. ne fortune may nat by-nyme it þe. and þat þou mayst knowe þat blisfulnesse [ne] may nat standen in þinges þat ben fortunous and temperel. ¶ Now vndirstonde and gadir it to gidir þus yif blisfulnesse be þe souereyne goode of nature þat liueþ by resoun ¶ Ne þilke þing nis nat souereyne goode þat may be taken awey in any wyse. for more worþi þing and more digne is þilke þing þat may nat be taken awey. ¶ Þan shewiþ it wele þat þe vnstablenesse of fortune may nat attayne to receyue verray blisfulnes. ¶ And ȝit more ouer. ¶ What man þat þis toumblyng welefulnesse leediþ. eiþer he woot þat [it] is chaungeable. or ellis he woot it nat. ¶ And yif he woot it not. what blisful fortune may þer be in þe blyndenesse of ignoraunce. and yif he woot þat it is chaungeable. he mot alwey ben adrad þat he ne lese þat þing. þat he ne douteþ nat but þat he may leesen Page  44it. ¶ As whoo seiþ he mot ben alwey agast lest he leese þat he wot wel he may leese. ¶ For whiche þe continuel drede þat he haþ ne suffriþ hym nat to ben weleful. ¶ Or ellys yif he leese it he wene to be dispised and forleten hit. ¶ Certis eke þat is a ful lytel goode þat is born wiþ euene hert[e] whan it is loost. ¶ Þat is to seyne þat men don no more force. of þe lost þan of þe hauynge. ¶ And for as myche as þou þi self art he to whom it haþ ben shewid and proued by ful many[e] demonstraciouns. as I woot wel þat þe soules of men ne mowen nat dien in no wise. and eke syn it is clere. and certeyne þat fortunous welefulnesse endiþ by þe deeþ of þe body. ¶ It may nat ben douted þat yif þat deeþ may take awey blysfulnesse þat al þe kynde of mortal þingus ne descendiþ in to wrecchednesse by þe ende of þe deeþ. ¶ And syn we knowen wel þat many a man haþ souȝt þe fruit of blisfulnesse nat only wiþ suffryng of deeþ. but eke wiþ suffryng of peynes and tourmentes. how myȝt[e] þan þis present lijf make men blisful. syn þat whanne þilke self[e] lijf is endid. it ne makeþ folk no wrecches.


What maner man stable and war þat wil founden hym a perdurable sete and ne wil not be cast doune wiþ þe loude blastes of þe wynde Eurus. and wil dispise þe see manassynge wiþ floodes ¶ Lat hym eschewe to bilde on þe cop of þe mountayngne. or in þe moyste sandes. ¶ For þe fel[le] wynde auster tourmenteþ þe cop of þe mountayngne wiþ alle his strengþes. ¶ and þe Page  45lowe see sandes refuse to beren þe heuy weyȝte. and forþi yif þou wolt flee þe perilous auenture þat is to seine of þe worlde ¶ Haue mynde certeynly to ficchyn þi house of a myrie site in a lowe stoone. ¶ For al þouȝ þe wynde troublyng þe see þondre wiþ ouereþrowynges ¶ Þou þat art put in quiete and welful by strengþe of þi palys shalt leden a cleer age. scornyng þe wodenesses and þe Ires of þe eir.


But for as moche as þe noryssinges of my resouns descenden now in to þe. I trowe it were tyme to vsen a litel strenger medicynes. ¶ Now vndirstonde here al were it so þat þe ȝiftis of fortune nar[e] nat brutel ne transitorie. what is þer in hem þat may be þine [fol. 12] in any tyme. or ellis þat it nys foule if þat it be considered and lokid perfitely. ¶ Richesse ben þei preciouse by þe nature of hem self. or ellys by þe nature of þe. What is most worþi of rycchesse. is it nat golde or myȝt of moneye assembled. ¶ Certis þilke golde and þilke moneye shineþ and ȝeueþ better renoun to hem þat dispenden it. þen to þilke folke þat mokeren it. For auarice makeþ alwey mokeres to be hated. and largesse makeþ folke clere of renoun ¶ For syn þat swiche þing as is transfered from o man to an oþer ne may nat dwellen wiþ no man. Certis þan is þilke moneye precious. whan it is translated in to oþer folk. and stynteþ to ben had by vsage of large ȝeuyng of hym þat haþ ȝeuen it. and also yif al þe moneye þat is ouer-al in þe world were Page  46gadered towar[d] o man. it sholde maken al oþer men to ben nedy as of þat. ¶ And certys a voys al hool þat is to seyn wiþ-oute amenusynge fulfilleþ to gyder þe heryng of myche folke. but Certys ȝoure rycchesse ne mowen nat passen vnto myche folk wiþ-oute amenussyng ¶ And whan þei ben apassed. nedys þei maken hem pore þat forgon þe rycchesses. ¶ O streite and nedy clepe I þise rycchesses. syn þat many folke [ne] may nat han it al. ne al may it nat comen to on man wiþ-oute pouerte of al oþer folke. ¶ And þe shynynge of gemmes þat I clepe preciouse stones. draweþ it nat þe eyen of folk in to hem warde. þat is to seyne for þe beaute. ¶ For certys yif þer were beaute or bounte in shynyng of stones. þilke clerenesse is of þe stones hem self. and nat of men. ¶ For whiche I wondre gretly þat men merueilen on swiche þinges. ¶ For whi what þing is it þat yif it wanteþ moeuyng and ioynture of soule and body þat by ryȝt myȝt[e] semen a faire creature to hym þat haþ a soule of resoun. ¶ For al be it so þat gemmes drawen to hem self a litel of þe laste beaute of þe worlde. þoruȝ þe entent of hir creatour and þoruȝ þe distinccioun of hem self. ȝit for as myche as þei ben put vndir ȝoure excellence. þei han not desserued by no weye þat ȝe shullen merueylen on hem. ¶ And þe beaute of feeldes deliteþ it nat mychel vnto ȝow. Boyce . ¶ Whi sholde it nat deliten vs. syn þat it is a ryȝt fayr porcioun of þe ryȝt fair werk. þat is to seyn of þis worlde. ¶ And ryȝt so ben we gladed somtyme of þe face of þe see whan it is clere. And also merueylen we on þe heuene and Page  47on þe sterres. and on þe sonne. and on þe mone. Philosophie. ¶ Apperteineþ quod she any of þilke þinges to þe. whi darst þou glorifie þe in þe shynynge of any swiche þinges. Art þou distingwed and embelised by þe spryngyng floures of þe first somer sesoun. or swelliþ þi plente in fruytes of somer. whi art þou rauyshed wiþ ydel ioies. why enbracest þou straunge goodes as þei weren þine. Fortune shal neuer maken þat swiche þinges ben þine þat nature of þinges maked foreyne fro þe. ¶ Syche is þat wiþ-outen doute þe fruytes of þe erþe owen to ben on þe norssinge of bestes. ¶ And if þou wilt fulfille þi nede after þat it suffiseþ to nature þan is it no nede þat þou seke after þe superfluite of fortune. ¶ For wiþ ful fewe þinges and with ful lytel þing nature halt hire appaied. and yif þou wilt achoken þe fulfillyng of nature wiþ superfluites ¶ Certys þilke þinges þat þou wilt þresten or pouren in to nature shullen ben vnicyeful to þe or ellis anoies. ¶ Wenest þou eke þat it be a fair þinge to shine wiþ dyuerse cloþing. of whiche cloþing yif þe beaute be agreable to loken vpon. I wol merueylen on þe nature of þe matere of þilke cloþes. or ellys on þe werkeman þat wrouȝt[e] hem. but al so a longe route of meyne. makiþ þat a blisful [fol. 12] man. þe whiche seruauntes yif þei ben vicioūs of condiciouns it is a greet charge and a destruccioun to þe house. and a greet enmye to þe lorde hym self ¶ And yif þei ben goode men how shal straung[e] or foreyne goodenes ben put in þe noumbre of þi rycchesse. so þat by alle þise forseide þinges. it is clerly shewed þat neuer none of þilke þinges þat þou accoumptedest for þin goodes nas nat þi goode. ¶ In þe whiche þinges yif þer be no beaute to ben desired. Page  48whi sholdest þou be sory yif þou leese hem. or whi sholdest þou reioysen þe to holden hem. ¶ For if þei ben fair of hire owen kynde. what apperteneþ þat to þe. for as wel sholde þei han ben faire by hem self. þouȝ þei weren departid from alle þin rycchesse. ¶ For-why faire ne precioūs ne weren þei nat. for þat þei comen amonges þi rycchesse. but for þei semeden fair and precious. þerfore þou haddest leuer rekene hem amonges þi rycchesse. but what desirest þou of fortune wiþ so greet a noyse and wiþ so greet a fare ¶ I trowe þou seke to dryue awey nede wiþ habundaunce of þinges. ¶ But certys it turneþ to ȝow al in þe contrarie. for whi certys it nediþ of ful many[e] helpynges to kepen þe dyuersite of preciouse ostelmentȝ. and soþe it is þat of many[e] þinges han þei nede þat many[e] þinges han. and aȝeyneward of litel nediþ hem þat mesuren hir fille after þe nede of kynde and nat after þe outrage of couetyse ¶ Is it þan so þat ye men ne han no propre goode. I-set in ȝow. For whiche ȝe moten seken outwardes ȝoure goodes in foreine and subgit þinges. ¶ So is þan þe condicioun of þinges turned vpso doun. þat a man þat is a devyne beest by merit of hys resoun. þinkeþ þat hym self nys neyþer fair ne noble. but if it be þoruȝ possessioun of ostelmentes. þat ne han no soules. ¶ And certys al oþer þinges ben appaied of hire owen beautes. but ȝe men þat ben semblable to god by ȝoure resonable þouȝt desiren to apparaille ȝoure excellent kynde of þe lowest[e] þinges. ne ȝe ne vndirstonde nat how gret a wrong ȝe don to ȝoure creatour. for he wolde þat man kynde were moost worþi and noble of Page  49any oþer erþely þinges. and ȝe þresten adoun ȝoure dignitees by-neþen þe lowest[e] þinges. ¶ For if þat al þe good of euery þing be more preciouse þan is þilk þing whos þat þe good is. syn ȝe demen þat þe foulest[e] þinges ben ȝoure goodes. þanne summytten ȝe and putten ȝoure self vndir þo foulest[e] þinges by ȝoure estimacioun. ¶ And certis þis bitidiþ nat wiþ out ȝoure desert. For certys swiche is þe condicioun of al man kynde þat oonly whan it haþ knowyng of it self. þan passeþ it in noblesse alle oþer þinges. and whan it forletiþ þe knowyng of it self. þan it is brouȝt byneþen alle beestes. ¶ For-why alle oþer [leuynge] beestes han of kynde to knowe not hem self. but whan þat men leten þe knowyng of hem self. it comeþ hem of vice. but how brode sheweþ þe errour and þe folie of ȝow men þat wenen þat ony þing may ben apparailled wiþ straunge apparaillementȝ ¶ but for-soþe þat may nat be don. for yif a wyȝt shyneþ wiþ þinges þat ben put to hym. as þus. yif þilke þinges shynen wiþ whiche a man is apparailled. ¶ Certis þilke þinges ben commendid and preised wiþ whiche he is apparailled. ¶ But naþeles þe þing þat is couered and wrapped vndir þat dwelleþ in his filþe. and I denye þat þilke þing be good þat anoyeþ hym þat haþ it. ¶ Gabbe I of þis. þou wolt seye nay. ¶ Certys rycchesse han anoyed ful ofte hem þat han þe rycchesse. ¶ Syn þat euery wicked shrew and for hys wickednesse þe more gredy aftir oþer folkes rycchesse wher so euer it be in any place. be it golde or Page  50 precious stones. and weniþ hym [fol. 13] only most worþi þat haþ hem ¶ þou þan þat so besy dredest now þe swerde and þe spere. yif þou haddest entred in þe paþe of þis lijf a voide wayfaryng man. þan woldest þou syng[e] by-fore þe þeef. ¶ As who seiþ a poure man þat bereþ no rycchesse on hym by þe weye. may boldly syng[e] byforne þeues. for he haþ nat wher-of to ben robbed. ¶ O preciouse and ryȝt clere is þe blysfulnesse of mortal rycchesse. þat whan þou hast geten it. þan hast þou lorn þi syke[r]nesse.


Blysful was þe first age of men. þei helden hem apaied wiþ þe metes þat þe trewe erþes brouȝten furþe. ¶ þei ne destroyed[e] ne desceyued[e] not hem self wiþ outerage. ¶ þei weren wont lyȝtly to slaken her hunger at euene wiþ acornes of okes ¶ þei ne couþe nat medle þe ȝift of bacus to þe clere hony. þat is to seyn. þei couþe make no piment of clarre. ne þei couþe nat medle þe briȝt[e] flies of þe contre of siriens wiþ þe venym of tirie. þis is to seyne. þei couþe nat dien white flies of sirien contre wiþ þe blode of a manar shelfysshe. þat men fynden in tyrie. wiþ whiche blode men deien purper. ¶ þei slepen holesom slepes vpon þe gras. and dronken of þe rynnyng watres. and laien vndir þe shadowe of þe heyȝe pyne trees. ¶ Ne no gest ne no straunger [ne] karf ȝit þe heye see wiþ oores or wiþ shippes. ne þei ne Page  51hadden seyne ȝitte none newe strondes to leden merchaundyse in to dyuerse contres. ¶ þo weren þe cruel clariouns ful whist and ful stille. ne blode yshed by egre hate ne hadde nat deied ȝit armurers. for wherto or whiche woodenesse of enmys wolde first moeuen armes. whan þei seien cruel woundes ne none medes ben of blood yshad ¶ I wolde þat oure tymes sholde turne aȝeyne to þe oolde maneres. ¶ But þe anguissous loue of hauyng brenneþ in folke moore cruely þan þe fijr of þe Mountaigne of Ethna þat euer brenneþ. ¶ Allas what was he þat first dalf vp þe gobets or þe weyȝtys of gold couered vndir erþe. and þe precious stones þat wolden han ben hid. he dalf vp precious perils. þat is to seyne þat he þat hem first vp dalf. he dalf vp a precious peril. for-whi. for þe preciousnesse of swyche haþ many man ben in peril.


But what shal I seyne of dignitees and of powers. þe whiche [ye] men þat neiþer knowen verray dignitee ne verray power areysen hem as heye as þe heuene. þe whiche dignitees and powers yif þei come to any wicked man þei don [as] greet[e] damages and distruccioun as doþ þe flamme of þe Mountaigne Ethna whan þe flamme wit walwiþ vp ne no deluge ne doþ so cruel harmes. ¶ Certys ye remembriþ wel as I trowe þat þilke dignitee þat men clepiþ þe emperie of consulers þe whiche þat somtyme was bygynnyng of fredom. ¶ Ȝoure eldres coueiteden to han don a-wey þat dignitee for þe pride of þe conseilers. Page  52¶ And ryȝt for þe same pride ȝoure eldres byforne þat tyme hadden don awey out of þe Citee of rome þe kynges name. þat is to seien. þei nolden haue no lenger no kyng ¶ But now yif so be þat dignitees and powers ben ȝeuen to goode men. þe whiche þing is ful ȝelde. what agreable þinges is þer in þo dignitees. or powers. but only þe goodenes of folk þat vsen hem. ¶ And þerfore it is þus þat honour ne comeþ nat to vertue for cause of dignite. but aȝeinward. honour comeþ to dignite by cause of vertue. but whiche is ȝoure derworþe power þat is so clere and so requerable ¶ O ȝe erþelyche bestes considere ȝe nat ouer whiche þing þat it semeþ þat ȝe han power. ¶ Now yif þou say[e] a mouse amongus [fol. 13b] oþer myse þat chalenged[e] to hymself ward ryȝt and power ouer alle oþer myse. how gret scorne woldest þou han of hit. ¶ Glosa. ¶ So fareþ it by men. þe body haþ power ouer þe body. For yif þow loke wel vpon þe body of a wyȝt what þing shalt þou fynde moore frele þan is mannes kynde. þe whiche ben ful ofte slayn wiþ bytynge of smale flies. or ellys wiþ þe entryng of crepyng wormes in to þe priuetees of mennes bodyes. ¶ But wher shal men fynden any man þat may exercen or haunten any ryȝt vpon an oþer man but oonly vpon hys body. or ellys vpon þinges þat ben lower þen þe body. whiche I clepe fortunous possessiouns ¶ Mayst þou euer haue any comaundement ouer a fre corage ¶ Mayst þou remuen fro þe estat of hys propre reste. a þouȝt þat is cleuyng to gider in hym self by stedfast resoun. ¶ As somtyme a tiraunt wende to confounde a freeman of Page  53corage ¶ And wende to constreyne hym by tourment to maken hym dyscoueren and acusen folk þat wisten of a coniuracioun. whiche I clepe a confederacie þat was cast aȝeins þis tyraunt ¶ But þis free man boot of hys owen tunge. and cast it in þe visage of þilke woode tyraunte. ¶ So þat þe tourmentȝ þat þis tyraunt wende to han maked matere of cruelte. þis wyse man maked[e it] matere of vertues. ¶ But what þing is it þat a man may don to an oþer man. þat he ne may receyue þe same þing of oþer folke in hym self. or þus. ¶ What may a man don to folk. þat folk ne may don hym þe same. ¶ I haue herd told of busirides þat was wont to sleen hys gestes þat herburghden in hys hous. and he was slayn hym self of ercules þat was hys gest ¶ Regulus had[de] taken in bataile many men of affrike. and cast hem in to fetteres. but sone after he most[e] ȝiue hys handes to ben bounden with þe cheynes of hem þat he had[de] somtyme ouercomen. ¶ Wenest þou þan þat he be myȝty. þat may nat don a þing. þat oþer ne may don hym. þat he doþ to oþer. and ȝit more ouer yif it so were þat þise dignites or poweres hadden any propre or naturel goodnesse in hem self neuer nolden þei comen to shrewes. ¶ For contrarious þinges ne ben not wont to ben yfelawshiped togidres. ¶ Nature refuseþ þat contra[r]ious þinges ben yioigned. ¶ And so as I am in certeyne þat ryȝt wikked folk han dignitees ofte tymes. þan sheweþ it wel þat dignitees and powers ne ben not goode of hir owen kynde. syn þat þei suffren hem self to cleuen or ioynen hem to shrewes. ¶ And certys þe same þing may most digneliche Iugen Page  54and seyen of alle þe ȝiftis of fortune þat most plenteuously comen to shrewes. ¶ Of þe whiche ȝiftys I trowe þat it auȝt[e] ben considered þat no man doutiþ þat he nis strong. in whom he seeþ strengþe. and in whom þat swiftnesse is ¶ Soþe it is þat he is swyfte. Also musyk makeþ musiciens. and fysik makeþ phisiciens. and rethorik rethoriens. ¶ For whi þe nature of euery þing makiþ his propretee. ne it is nat entermedled wiþ þe effectis of contrarious þinges. ¶ And as of wil it chaseþ oute þinges þat to it ben contrarie ¶ But certys rycchesse may nat restreyne auarice vnstaunched ¶ Ne power [ne] makeþ nat a man myȝty ouer hym self. whiche þat vicious lustis holden destreined wiþ cheins þat ne mowen nat ben vnbounden. and dignitees þat ben ȝeuen to shrewed[e] folk nat oonly ne makiþ hem nat digne. but it sheweþ raþer al openly þat þei ben vnworþi and vndigne. ¶ And whi is it þus. ¶ Certis for ȝe han ioye to clepen þinges wiþ fals[e] names. þat beren hem al in þe contrarie. þe whiche names ben ful ofte reproued by þe effect of þe same þinges. so þat [fol. 14] þise ilke rycchesse ne auȝten nat by ryȝt to ben cleped rycchesse. ne whiche power ne auȝt[e] not ben cleped power. ne whiche dignitee ne auȝt[e] nat ben cleped dignitee. ¶ And at þe laste I may conclude þe same þinge of al þe ȝiftes of fortune in whiche þer nis no þing to ben desired. ne þat haþ in hym self naturel bounte. ¶ as it is ful wel sene. for neyþer þei ne ioygnen hem nat alwey to goode men. ne maken hem alwey goode to whom þei ben y-ioigned.

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We han wel knowen how many greet[e] harmes and destrucciouns weren don̄ by þe Emperoure Nero. ¶ He letee brenne þe citee of Rome and made slen þe senatours. and he cruel somtyme slouȝ hys broþer. and he was maked moyst wiþ þe blood of hys modir. þat is to seyn he let sleen and slitten þe body of his modir to seen where he was conceiued. and he loked[e] on euery half vpon hir colde dede body. ne no tere ne wette his face. but he was so hard herted þat he myȝt[e] ben domesman or Iuge of hire dede beaute. ¶ And ȝitte neuerþeles gouerned[e] þis Nero by Ceptre al þe peoples þat phebus þe sonne may seen comyng from his outerest arysyng til he hidde his bemes vndir þe wawes. ¶ þat is to seyne. he gouerned[e] alle þe peoples by Ceptre imperial þat þe sonne goþ aboute from est to west ¶ And eke þis Nero goueyrende by Ceptre. alle þe peoples þat ben vndir þe colde sterres þat hyȝten þe seuene triones. þis is to seyn he gouerned[e] alle þe poeples þat ben vndir þe parties of þe norþe. ¶ And eke Nero gouerned[e] alle þe poeples þat þe violent wynde Nothus scorchiþ and bakiþ þe brennynge sandes by his drie hete. þat is to seyne. alle þe poeples in þe souþe. [but yit ne myhte nat al his heye power torne the woodnesse of this wykkyd nero / Allas it is greuous fortune it is]. as ofte as wicked swerde is ioygned to cruel venym. þat is to sein. venimous cruelte to lordshipe.

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Þanne seide I þus. þou wost wel þiself þat þe couetise of mortal þinges ne hadden neuer lordshipe of me. but I haue wel desired matere of þinges to done. as who seiþ. I desired[e] to han matere of gouernaunce ouer comunalites. ¶ For vertue stille ne sholde not elden. þat is to seyn. þat list þat or he wex olde ¶ His uertue þat lay now ful stille. ne sholde nat perisshe vnexcercised in gouernaunce of comune. ¶ For whiche men myȝten speke or writen of his goode gouernement. ¶ Philosophie. ¶ For soþe quod she. and þat is a þing þat may drawen to gouernaunce swiche hertes as ben worþi and noble of hir nature. but naþeles it may nat drawen or tollen swiche hertes as ben y-brouȝt to þe ful[le] perfeccioun of vertue. þat is to seyn couetyse of glorie and renoun to han wel administred þe comune þinges. or doon goode decertes to profit of þe comune. for se now and considere how litel and how voide of al prise is þilke glorie. ¶ Certeine þing is as þou hast lerned by demonstracioun of astronomye þat al þe envyronynge of þe erþe aboute ne halt but þe resoun of a prykke at regard of þe gretnesse of heuene. þat is to seye. þat yif þat þer were maked comparisoun of þe erþe to þe gretnesse of heuene. men wolde Iugen in alle þat erþe [ne] helde no space ¶ Of þe whiche litel regioun of þis worlde þe ferþe partie is enhabitid wiþ lyuyng beestes þat we knowen. as þou hast þi self lerned by tholome þat prouitℏ it. ¶ yif þou haddest wiþ drawen and abated in þi þouȝte fro þilke ferþe partie as myche space as þe see and [the] mareys contenen and ouergon and as myche space as þe regioun of droughte ouerstreccheþ. Page  57þat is to seye sandes and desertes wel vnneþ sholde [fol. 14b] þer dwellen a ryȝt streite place to þe habitacioun of men. and ȝe þan þat ben environed and closed wiþ inne þe leest[e] prikke of þilk prikke þenke ȝe to manifesten ȝoure renoun and don ȝoure name to ben born forþe. but ȝoure glorie þat is so narwe and so streyt yþrongen in to so litel boundes. how myche conteinþe it in largesse and in greet doynge. And also sette þis þer to þat many a nacioun dyuerse of tonge and of maneres. and eke of resoun of hir lyuyng ben enhabitid in þe cloos of þilke litel habitacle. ¶ To þe whiche naciouns what for difficulte of weyes. and what for diuersite of langages. and what for defaute of vnusage entercomunynge of marchaundise. nat only þe names of singler men ne may [nat] strecchen. but eke þe fame of Citees ne may nat strecchen. ¶ At þe last[e] Certis in þe tyme of Marcus tulyus as hym self writeþ in his book þat þe renoun of þe comune of Rome ne hadde nat ȝitte passed ne cloumben ouer þe mountaigne þat hyȝt Caucasus. and ȝitte was þilk tyme rome wel wexen and gretly redouted of þe parthes. and eke of oþer folk enhabityng aboute. ¶ Sest þou nat þan how streit and how compressed is þilke glorie þat ȝe trauailen aboute to shew and to multiplie. May þan þe glorie of a singlere Romeyne strecchen þider as þe fame of þe name of Rome may nat clymben ne passen. ¶ And eke sest þou nat þat þe maners of diuerse folk and eke hir lawes ben discordaunt amonge hem self. so þat þilke þing þat sommen iugen worþi of preysynge. oþer folk iugen þat it is worþi of torment. ¶ and þer of comeþ þat þouȝ a man delite hym in Page  58preysyng of his renoun. he ne may nat in no wise bryngen furþe ne spreden his name to many manere peoples. ¶ And þerfore euery maner man auȝte to ben paied of hys glorie þat is puplissed among hys owen neyȝbores. ¶ And þilke noble renoun shal be restreyned wiþ-inne þe boundes of o maner folk but how many a man þat was ful noble in his tyme. haþ þe nedy and wrecched forȝetynge of writers put oute of mynde and don awey. ¶ Al be it so þat certys þilke writynges profiten litel. þe whiche writynges longe and derke elde doþ aweye boþe hem and eke her autours. but ȝe men semen to geten ȝow a perdurablete whan ȝe þenke þat in tyme comyng ȝoure fame shal lasten. ¶ But naþeles yif þou wilt maken comparisoun to þe endeles space of eternite what þing hast þou by whiche þou maist reioysen þe of long lastyng of þi name. ¶ For if þer were maked comparysoun of þe abidyng of a moment to ten þousand wynter. for as myche as boþe þo spaces ben endid. ¶ For ȝit haþ þe moment some porcioun of hit al þouȝ it a litel be. ¶ But naþeles þilke self noumbre of ȝeres. and eke as many ȝeres as þer to may be multiplied. ne may nat certys be comparisound to þe perdurablete þat is een[de]les. ¶ For of þinges þat han ende may be mad comparisoun [but of thinges that ben with-owtyn ende to thinges þat han ende may be maked no comparysoun]. ¶ And for þi is it al þouȝ renoun of as longe tyme as euer þe lyst to þinken were þouȝt by þe regard of eternite. þat is vnstauncheable and infinit. it ne sholde nat oonly semen litel. but pleinliche ryȝt nouȝt. ¶ But ȝe men certys ne konne Page  59don no þing aryȝt. but ȝif it be for þe audience of poeple. and for ydel rumours. and ȝe forsaken þe grete worþinesse of conscience and of vertue. and ȝe seken ȝoure gerdouns of þe smale wordes of strange folke. ¶ Haue now here and vndirstonde in þe lyȝtnesse of whiche pride and veyne glorie. how a man scorned[e] festiualy and myrily swiche vanite. somtyme þere was a man þat had[de] assaied wiþ striuyng wordes an oþer man. ¶ þe whiche nat for vsage of verrey vertue. but for proude veyne glorie had[de] taken vpon hym falsly þe name of a philosopher. ¶ þis raþer man þat I speke of þouȝt[e] he wolde assay[e] where he þilke were a philosopher or no. þat is to seyne yif he wolde han suffred lyȝtly in pacience þe wronges [fol. 15] þat weren don vnto hym. ¶ þis feined[e] philosophre took pacience a litel while. and whan he hadde receiued wordes of outerage he as in stryuynge aȝeine and reioysynge of hym self seide at þe last[e] ryȝt þus. ¶ vndirstondest þou nat þat I am a philosophere. þat oþer man answered[e] aȝein ful bityngly and seide. ¶ I had[de] wel vndirstonden [yt]. yif þou haddest holden þi tonge stille. ¶ But what is it to þise noble worþi men. For certys of swyche folk speke .I. þat seken glorie wiþ vertue. what is it quod she. what atteiniþ fame to swiche folk whan þe body is resolued by þe deeþ. atte þe last[e]. ¶ For yif so be þat men dien in al. þat is to seyne body and soule. þe whiche þing oure resoun defendiþ vs to byleuen þanne is þere no glorie in no wyse. For what sholde þilke glorie ben. for he of whom þis glorie is seid to be nis ryȝt nouȝt in no wise. and ȝif þe soule whiche þat haþ in it self science of Page  60goode werkes vnbounden fro þe prisoun of þe erþe wendeþ frely to þe heuene. dispiseþ it nouȝt þan alle erþely occupaciouns. and beynge in heuene reioiseþ þat it is exempt from alle erþely þinges [as wo seith / thanne rekketh the sowle of no glorye of renoun of this world].


Who so þat wiþ ouerþrowyng þouȝt only sekeþ glorie of fame. and weniþ þat it be souereyne good ¶ Lete hym loke vpon þe brode shewyng contreys of þe heuen. and vpon þe streite sete of þis erþe. and he shal be ashamed of þe encres of his name. þat may nat fulfille þe litel compas of þe erþe. ¶ O what coueiten proude folke to liften vpon hire nekkes in ydel and dedely ȝok of þis worlde. ¶ For al þouȝ [þat] renoune y-spradde passynge to ferne poeples goþ by dyuerse tonges. and al þouȝ grete houses and kynredes shyne wiþ clere titles of honours. ȝit naþeles deeþ dispiseþ al heye glorie of fame. and deeþ wrappeþ to gidre þe heye heuedes and þe lowe and makeþ egal and euene þe heyest[e] to þe lowest[e]. ¶ where wonen now þe bones of trewe fabricius. what is now brutus or stiern Caton þe þinne fame ȝit lastynge of hir ydel names is markid wiþ a fewe lettres. but al þouȝ we han knowen þe faire wordes of þe fames of hem. it is nat ȝeuen to knowe hem þat ben dede and consumpt. Liggiþ þanne stille al vtterly vnknowable ne fame ne makeþ ȝow nat knowe. and yif ȝe wene to lyuen þe lenger for wynde of ȝoure mortal name. whan o cruel day shal rauyshe ȝow. þan is þe secunde deeþ dwellyng in ȝow. Glosa. þe first deeþ he clepiþ Page  61here þe departynge of þe body and þe soule. ¶ and þe secunde deeþ he clepeþ as here. þe styntynge of þe renoune of fame.

*. [The next three chapters are from Camb. MS.]


Bvt for-as-mochel as thow shalt nat wenen quod she þat I bere vntretable batayle ayenis fortune // yit som-tyme it by-falleth þat she desseyuable desserueth to han ryht good thank of men // And þat is whan she hire self opneth / and whan she descouereth hir frownt / and sheweth hir maneres par-auenture yit vndirstondesthow nat þat .I. shal seye // it is a wondyr þat .I. desyre to telle / and forthi vnnethe may I. vnpleyten my sentense with wordes for I. deme þat contraryos fortune profiteth more to men than fortune debonayre // For al-wey whan fortune semeth debonayre than she lyeth falsly in by-hetynge the hope of welefulnesse // but forsothe contraryos fortune is alwey sothfast / whan she sheweth hir self vnstable thorw hyr chaungynge // the amyable fortune desseyueth folk / the contrarye fortune techeth // the amyable fortune byndeth with the beaute of false goodys the hertes of folk þat vsen hem / the contrarye fortune vnbyndeth hem by þe knowynge of freele welefulnesse // the amyable fortune maysthow sen alwey wyndynge and flowynge / and euere mysknowynge of hir self // the contrarye fortune is a-tempre and restreynyd and wys thorw excersyse of hir aduersyte // at the laste amyable fortune with hir flaterynges draweth mys wandrynge men fro the souereyne good // the contraryos fortune ledith ofte folk ayein to sothfast goodes / and haleth hem ayein as with an hooke / weenesthow thanne þat thow owhtest to leten this a lytel thing / þat this aspre and horible fortune hath discoueryd to the / the thowhtes of thy trewe frendes // For-why this ilke fortune Page  62 hath departyd and vncoueryd to the bothe the certeyn vysages and ek the dowtos visages of thy felawes // whan she departyd awey fro the / she took awey hyr frendes and lafte the thyne frendes // now whan thow were ryche and weleful as the semede / with how mochel woldesthow han bowht the fulle knowynge of this // þat is to seyn the knowynge of thy verray freendes // now pleyne the nat thanne of Rychesse .I.-lorn syn thow hast fowndyn the moste presyos kynde of Rychesses þat is to seyn thy verray frendes.


That þe world with stable feith / varieth acordable chaungynges // þat the contraryos qualite of elementȝ holden amonge hem self aliaunce perdurable / þat phebus the sonne with his goldene chariet / bryngeth forth the rosene day / þat the mone hath commaundement ouer the nyhtes // whiche nyhtes hesperus the eue sterre hat browt // þat þe se gredy to flowen constreyneth with a certeyn ende hise floodes / so þat it is nat l[e]ueful to strechche hise brode termes or bowndes vp-on the erthes // þat is to seyn to couere alle the erthe // Al this a-cordaunce of thinges is bownden with looue / þat gouerneth erthe and see / and hath also commaundementȝ to the heuenes / and yif this looue slakede the brydelis / alle thinges þat now louen hem to gederes / wolden maken a batayle contynuely and stryuen to fordoon the fasoun of this worlde / the which they now leden in acordable feith by fayre moeuynges // this looue halt to gideres poeples Ioygned with an hooly bond / and knytteth sacrement of maryages of chaste looues // And loue enditeth lawes to trewe felawes // O weleful weere mankynde / yif thilke loue þat gouerneth heuene gouerned[e] yowre corages /