Early English versions of the Gesta Romanorum
Sidney J.H. Herrtage

EMPERATOR POMPEIUS.
(HOW THE LAME MAN AND THE BLIND MAN FOUND THEIR WAY TO THE EMPEROR'S FEAST. )

[ VI. ]
Harl. MS. 7333.

[leaf 153, col. 1 (cont'd)]

Story.

Pompeius was a wise Emperour, regnyng̘ in þe cite of Rome; And he lete make a proclamacion̛ þorȝ aƚƚ his Empire, þat he wold make a gret generaƚƚ feste, And þat aƚƚ poor̛ and Ricℏ shuld come to þat feste; For þey shuld̛ [not] only be wele y-fed, But also that þei shuld have many faire ȝiftis. whenne the bedeƚƚ hadde y-makid̛ this proclamacion̛, Ther lay by the wey too feble men, a blynde And a lame. Thoo þe blynde seide to þe lame, his felowe, "Woo be now to me and to þe, For how may we too do! The Emperour hatℏ makid sucℏ a proclamacion̛, þat he woƚƚ make a generaƚƚ feste, And who that euer comitℏ thedir, he shaƚƚ Fare wele of metis And drinkis, And also be avauncyd for euermore; And I am blind, and þou art lame, And þerfore neyþer of vs may come þere." "Ȝe," quoþ þe Page  16 lame man, "I shaƚƚ shew þe a goode wit in þis cas; and if þou wolt do after my conseile, þou shalt not repente. Now herken me; I am lame and feble, þat I may not goo, but I may see, And þou art strong and swifte of foote, but þou may not see. Take me vpon þi bak, and bere me, And I shaƚƚ teche þe the riȝte way, And so we boþe shuƚƚ come thedir." "This is a goode conseile," seide þe blinde man, "come vp fast vpon̛ my bak, and teche me þe riȝte wey, as þou seist, and so we botℏ shuƚƚ come thedir, I trowe, as þou seist," &c.

MORALITE.

Dere frendis, þis Emperour is our lord ihesu criste, þat hatℏ y-made a generaƚƚ proclamacion̛, And a generaƚƚ feste, scil. the Ioye of hevene, to þe whicℏ ioye he hath callid aƚƚ mankynde; for he deniitℏ to no man þat ioy, if þey woƚƚ come þer to. By þis lame or halting man buþ vndirstond prelatis of holy chirche, as ben prechours, and confessours; and þei ben callid lame, or halting men, for þey have not of hire owne to lyve with, but of tythingis, and of almys-dede of seculers. By þe blynde man we shuƚƚ vndirstond þe lewde seculers, þat ben blynde, yn as mocℏ as þei conne not [leaf 153, col. 2] see the rigℏt way toward ioye; and þerfore iff̘ theise too men woƚƚ come to-geder to þe feste of̘ Hevene, þe blind, scil. þe lewde men, most Page  17 holde vp þe laame men, scil. men of holy chircℏ, thoroȝ almesse offryngys, and tendingys; And that oþer, scil. men of holy Chircℏ, most leede that oþer þe wey by hire connyng̘, Clergy, and labour of teching̘; And þenne shuƚƚ botℏ come thedir, scil. to þe ioye of hevene, wher þey shuƚƚ not only have feste, but euerlasting meede and glorie, Ad quam nos &c.

Page  15

[ Second Version. XL.]
Addit. MS. 9066.

[leaf 56]

Story.

POmpeius in the Cite of rome reigned̛, a fuƚƚ wise man, and̛ amonge othere vertues he was right mercyfuƚƚ; wherfore he did̛ Crie throw oute his Empire a feste, that euery man̛ rich and̛ pore shuld̛ come to the feste, and̛ aƚƚ þat comen to the feste shuld̛ not only be fedde, but he shuld̛ haue many giftes. when the bediƚƚ had̛ proclamed̛ this throw oute aƚƚ the Empire, there were that tyme twoo feble men̛ lyeng̘ by the way; oon̛ was halte, and̛ the tothere blynde. The blynde man̛ saide to þe Crokyd̛, "Alas!" he saide, "woo is the and̛ me; how mow we do? The Emperour [leaf 56, back] hathe do crie[ cried̛ ] a grete feste generaƚƚ to aƚƚ and̛ who that Euer comyth thiddere, he shaƚƚ not only haue a feste, but also many giftes. I am blynde, and̛ thou arte Crokyd̛ and̛ feble, and̛ may not go; and̛ IPage  16 may wele se, and̛ thou arte stronge and̛ myghty, and̛ may not se." he seide, "thou croked̛ man̛, thou shalte take me on thi back, and̛ bere me, and̛ I wil lede the by the right way." and̛ so they didden̛, and̛ comen̛ bothe to the feste, and̛ ressayued̛ grete mede amonge other; and̛ so they endid̛ here life in pease.

[Declaracio.]

Frendes, this Emperour is oure lorde Ihesu criste, the which hathe done crie a feste generaƚƚ, that is, the Ioye and̛ the blisse of þe kyngdome of heuyn̛; to the which Ioye he hathe called̛ aƚƚ mankynde, for he denyes it to none that wil come to hym. Be the halte and̛ croked̛ are vndirstondyn̛ prelates of holy chirche, prechours, and̛ confessours, abbottes and̛ prioures. thes are halte, for they han no thing̘ in propre, in alse mych as they lyuen̛ ofte sithes of almes of othere. Be the blynde we shuƚƚ vndirstonde the lewde men̛, that are blynde, for they know not the right way. therfore if thes ij. wil come to the feste of the kyngdome of heuyn̛, It behouys that the blynde, that is, the lewde men̛, bere the halte men; tho be the prelates ofPage  17 the chirche, and̛ othere men̛ of holy chirche, sustenyng̘ hem be tythes and̛ oblacions, and̛ othere almese. And̛ prelates, and̛ other men̛ of holy chirche, are holdyn̛ for to teche hem, and̛ Enfourme hem the way towarde heuyn̛, where is not al only a feste for a tyme, But there we shuƚƚ haue many preciouse giftes; Tho be the Ioyes and̛ blisses that neuer shaƚƚ haue Ende. to the which bryng̘ vs oure lorde Ihesu criste, to þe feste riaƚƚ þat is in heuyne, withouten Ende!