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(1474-1523 / England)

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The Example of Vertu : Cantos I.-VII.

Here begynneth the boke called the example of vertu.

The prologe.

Whan I aduert in my remembraunce
The famous draughtes of poetes eloquent
Whiche theyr myndes dyd well enhaunce
Bokes to contryue that were expedyent
To be remembred without Impedyment
For the profyte of humanyte
This was the custume of antyquyte.
I now symple and moost rude
And naked in depured eloquence
For dulnes rethoryke doth exclude
Wherfore in makynge I lake intellygence
Also consyderynge my grete neglygence
It fereth me sore for to endyte
But at auenture I wyll now wryte.
As very blynde in the poetys art
For I therof can no thynge skyll
Wherfore I lay it all a part
But somwhat accordynge to my wyll
I wyll now wryte for to fulfyll
Saynt Powles wordes and true sentement
All that is wryten is to oure document
O prudent Gower in langage pure
Without corrupcyon moost facundyous
O noble Chauser euer moost sure
Of frutfull sentence ryght delycyous
O vertuous Lydgat moche sentencyous
Unto you all I do me excuse
Though I your connynge do now vse
Explicit prologus.

Capitulum Primsi.
In Septembre in fallynge of the lefe
Whan phebus made his declynacyon
And all the whete gadred was in the shefe
By radyaunt hete and operacyon
Whan the vyrgyn had full domynacyon
And Dyane entred was one degre
Into the sygne of Gemyne
Whan the golden sterres clere were splendent
In the firmament puryfyed clere as crystall
By imperyall course without incombrement
As Iuppyter and Mars that be celestyall
With Saturne and Mercury that wer supernall
Myxt with venus that was not retrograte
That caused me to be well fortunate
In a slombrynge slepe with slouth opprest
As I in my naked bedde was leyd
Thynkynge all nyght to take my rest
Morpleus to me than made abreyd
And in my dreme me thought he sayd
Come walke with me in a medowe amerous
Depeynted with floures that be delycyous
I walked with hym into a place
Where that there grue many a fayre floure
With Ioye replete and full of solace
And the trees dystyllynge redolent lycoure
More sweter fer than the Aprell shour
And tary I dyd there by longe space
Tyll that I saw before my face
A ryght fayre lady of myddell stature
And also enduyd with grete vertue
Her apparell was set with perlys pure
Whose beaute alway dyd renue
To me she sayd and ye wyll extue
All wyldnes I wyll be your guyde
That ye to fraylte shall not slyde.
Unto her I answerde o lady gloryous
I pray you tell me what is your name
For ye seeme to be ryght precyous
And I am yonge and sore to blame
Of vyces full and in vertue lame
But I wyll be ruled now by your pleasure
So that your order be made by mesure
Eclepyd I am she sayd dyscrecyon
And yf ye wyll be ruled by me
Ye shall haue Ioye without reprehencyon
And neuer fall in to fragylyte
Youth lackynge me it is grete pyte
For in what place I am exyled
They be with synne ryght oft defyled
It longeth euer vnto my properte
Youth to gyue courage for to lerne
I wyll not medle with no duplycyte
But faythfulnes I wyll dyscerne
And brynge thy soule to blesse eterne
By wyse example and morall doctryne
For youth hauynge to me is a good syne
Forsake also all euyll company
And be founde true in worde and dede
Remembre that this worlde is transytory
After thy desert shall be thy mede
Loue god alway and eke hym drede
And for no mannes pleasure be thyn owne foo
Gyue theym fayre wordes and lete theym goo.
Be to thy kynge euer true subgete
As thou sholdest be by ryght and reason
Lete thy herte lowely on hym be sete
Without ony spot of euyll treason
And be obedyent at euery season
Unto his grace without rebellyon
That thou with trouth may be companyon
Loue neuer vnloued for that is payne
Whyle that thou lyuest of that beware
Loue as thou seest the loued agayne
Or elles it wyll torne the to care
Be neuer taken in that fast snare
Proue or thou loue that is moost sure
And than thou in doubte shalt not endure.
Beware byleue no flaterynge tonge
For flaterers be moost disseyuable
Though that they company with the longe
Yet at the ende they wyll be varyable
For they by reason are not fauorable
But euermore fals and double
And with theyr tonges cause of grete trouble
This brytell worlde ay full of bytternes
Alway turnynge lyke to a ball
No man in it can haue no sykernes
For whan he clymmeth he hath a fall
O wauerynge shadowe bytter as gall
O fatall welth full soone at ende
Though thou ryght hy do oft assende
Whan she to me had made relacyon
Of all these prouerbes by good conclusyon
She gaue to me an Informacyon
For to depryue all yll abusyon
And to consydre the grete derysyon
Whiche is in youth that may not se
No thynge appropred to his prosperyte
Forth than we went to an hauen syde
Wher was a shyp lyenge at rode
Taryenge after the wynde and tyde
And with moche spyces ryght well lode
Upon it lokynge we longe abode
Tyll colus with blastes began to rore
Than we her aborded with payne ryght sore
This water eclyped was vayneglory
Euer with yeopardy and tempestyous
And the shyp called was ryght truly
The vessell of the passage daungerous
The wawys were hyghe and gretly troublous
The captayn called was good comfort
And the sterysman fayre pasport.

Capitulum II.

Longe were we dryuen with wynde & weder
Tyll we arryued in a fayre Ilonde
Wher was a boote tyed with a teeder
Of merueylous wood as I vnderstonde
Precyous stones ley vpon the sond
And poynted dyamondes grewe on the rockes
And corall also by ryght hyghe stockes
Amased I was for to beholde
The precyous stones vnder my fete
And the erth glysterynge of golde
With floures fayre of odour swete
Dame dyscrecyon I dyd than grete
Praynge her to me to make relacyon
Who of this Ilonde hath domynacyon
She sayd foure ladyes in vertue excellent
Of whiche the eldest is dame nature
That dayly fourmeth after her entent
Euery beest and lyuynge creature
Both foule and fayre and also pure
All that dependynge in her ordynaunce
Where that she fauoureth there is grete pleasaunce
The seconde is called dame fortune
Ayenst whome can be no resystence
For she doth sette the strynges in tune
Of euery persone by her magnyfycence
Whan they sound best by good experyence
She wyll theym loose and let theym slyp
Causynge theym fall by her turnynge tryp
The thyrde called is dame hardynes
That often rulyth by her cheualry
She is ryght stowt and of grete prowes
And the captayn of a lusty company
And ruleth theym euer full hardely
And to gete honour and worldely tresure
She putteth her oft in auenture
The fourth is wysedome a lady bryght
Whiche is my syster as ye shall se
Whom I do loue with all my myght
For she enclyneth euer to benygnyte
And medeleth not with fraude nor subtylyte
But maketh many noble clerkes
And ruleth theym in all theyr werkes
They dwell all in a fayre castell
Besyde a ryuer moche depe and clere
And be expert in feytys manuell
That vnto theym can be no peere
Of erthely persone that lyueth here
For they be so fayre and wounderous
That theym to se it is solacyous.
Longe haue they trauerst gretly in the lawe
Whiche of theym sholde haue the preemynence
And none of them theyr case wyll withdrawe
Tyll of dame Iustyce they knowe the sentence
They argue often and make defence
Eche vnto other withouten remedy
I wyll no lenger of them specefy.

Capitulum Tercium.

Come on fayre youth and go with me
Unto that place that is delectable
Bylded with towres of curyosyte
And yet though that ye be lamentable
Whan thou art there you wylt be confortable
To se the merueyles that there be wrought
No man can prynt it in his thought
A path we founde ryght gretely vsed
Where in we went tyll at the last
A castell I sawe wherof I mused
Not fully from me a stones cast
To se the towres I was agast
Set in a valey so strongely fortefyed
So gentyll compassed and well edefyed
The towres were hyghe of adamond stones
With fanes wauerynge in the wynde
Of ryght fyne golde made for the noonys
And roobuckes ran vnder the lynde
And hunters came theym fer behynde
A Ioye it was suche sawe I neuer
Abyde quod she ye shall se a better.
Forth she me ledde to the castell warde
Where we were let in by humylyte
And so after she lede me forwarde
Tyll that I sawe a royall tre
With buddys blossomed of grete beaute
And than we wente in to the hall
That glased was truely with crystall
And hanged was with clothes of Aras
Made of fyne golde with a noble story
How that there some tyme reynynge was
In the regyon of hyghe Italy
A valyaunt emperour and a myghty
That had to name forsothe Tyberius
Whiche dyde enquere of prudent Iosethus
Why he his offycers so longe kepte
Unto hym he answered a good cause why
Somtyme I sawe a man that slepte
That wounded was full pyteously
And on his woundes suckynge many a fly
I than for pyte moued theym away
By whiche he woke and to me dyde say
Wher that thou trowed to me comfort
Thou now hast done me double greuaunce
Puttynge away the flyes that dyde resorte
To me beynge full of blody sustynaunce
By this thou mayst haue good perseueraunce
That now wyll come the flyes moost hungry
That wyll me byte .x. tymes more greuously
The roof was wrought by merueylous gemetry
Colered with asure gold and gowlys
With knottes coruen full ryght craftely
And set also with wanton fowlys
As popyn iays/pyes/Iays/and owlys
And as I loked on my ryght syde
A lady I sawe of meruellous pryde
Syttynge in a chayer at the vpper ende
Of all the hall as a lady and prynces
Amonge many kynges that dyde entende
To be obedyent to her hyghe noblenes
Her apparell was made of moche fayre ryches
Set with rubyes moost pure and rubicound
Embrawded with perles and many a dyamound

Besydes her sate the worthyes nyne
And she amonge theym a whele turnynge
Full lowe to her they dyd than enclyne
She somtyme laughynge and somtyme lowrynge
Her condycyon was to be dyssymelynge
And many exalten vpon her whele
Gyuynge theym grete falles that they dyd fele
Than sayd dyscrecyon beholde and see
That in dame fortune is no stablenes
This worlde also is but a vanyte
A dreme a pompe nothynge in stedfastnes
For fortune is fals and full of doblenes
Whan she moost flatereth she is not sure
As thou mayst se dayly in vre.

Capitulum IIII.

Forth than we went vnto the habytacle
Of dame hardynes moost pure and fayre
Aboue all places a ryght fayre spectacle
Strowyd with floures that gaue good eyer
Of vertuous turkeys there was a cheyr
Wherin she sate in her cote armure
Berynge a shelde the felde of asure
Wherin was sette a rampynge lyon
Of fyne golde ryght large and grete
A swerd she had of merueylous fassyon
As though a thousand she sholde bete
No man the vyctory of her myght gete
A noble vyrgyn there dyde her serue
That fyrst made harnes called Mynerue
The chaumbre where she held her consystory
The dewe aromatyke dyde oft degoute
Of fragraunt floures full of delycasy
That all yll heyres dyde ensence oute
A carbuncle there was that all aboute
Enlumyned the chaumbre both day and nyght
My thought it was an heuenly syght
Nyne quenes I sawe that satte her by
Beynge all armed of grete fortytude
In many a stower they wanne the vyctory
And were endued with facounde pulcrytude
For to haunte armes was theyr consuetude
Many a regyon they often wanne
And also vaynquysshed many a noble man
Nexte vnto her sate the hyghe quene Azia
That was a conqueres so puyssaunt
And besyde her the quene of Saba
Whiche in grete ryches was tryumphaunt
And also Ipolyte in armes valyaunt
Sate with her besyde quene Hecuba
And yet also the quene Europa
Present ther was the wiche quene Iuno
And quene Pantasyll wyth fayre quene Elyn
And yet I sawe by her than also
The noble vyrgyn yonge Polyxyn
That was destroyed at the last ruyn
Of Troye the grete by cruelll Pyrrus
The sone of Achylles that was so cheualrus
As I dyd loke I had commaundement
Of dame dyscrecyon for to remembre
These noble ladyes so pure and excellent
Hardy in corage of age ryght tendre
Yet not withstandynge deth dyde surrendre
And all theyr strength and lusty corage
For he spareth nother youth ne age.

Capitulum V.

Forth we walked to the dwellynge place
Of dame sapyence so full of blys
Replete with Ioye vertu and grace
No thynge there lacked that possyble is
Man for to comfort withouten mys
Though he were derke in wordely foly
He sholde there b enlumyned shortely
Her towre was made of werkes curyous
I can no thynge extende the goodlynes
Of her palays so good and gloryous
Bylded in the place soth of fastnes
With owten tast of wordely bytternes
No persone can extoll the souerente
Of her worthy and royall dygnyte
She eche estate sholde haue in gouernaunce
As theym to rule or that they repent
For better it is to haue good puruyaunce
At the begynnynge as is expedyent
Than for to wyssh for thynges myspent
That myght be saued longe afore
And with a for wytte kepte in store
Her chaumbre was glased with byrall clarefyed
Depeynted with colours of delectacyon
A place of pleasure so heuenly gloryfyed
In vertue heale lyfe and saluacyon
Without ony stormy trybulacyon
That myght anoy the heuenly helth
But alway comfort to the sowlys welth
There sate dame prudence in vertue magnyfyed
Impossyble it is to shewe her goodelyhed
She was so fayre and clerely puryfyed
And so dyscrete and full of womanhede
That and I trowe vertue were deed
It sholde reuyue yet in her agayne
She was so gentyll and without dysdeyn
It was grete comfort vnto my hert
For to beholde that heuenly syght
Dyscrecyon sayd I sholde not depert
Tyll I had spoken with her syster bryght
Forth she me ledde with all her myght
Unto that prynces and royall souerayn
Ergo my labour was not in vayn
Than spake dame prudence with meke contenaūce
Welcome dyscrecyon my syster dere
Where haue ye ben by longe contynuaunce
Wyth youth she sayd that ye se here
And for my sake I you requere
Hym to receyue in to your seruyse
And he shall serue you in goodely wyse
Welcome she sayd for my systers sake
And yet also now for your owne
In to my seruyce I wyll you take
Sythens that your wyldnes is ouerblowen
The sede of vertu on you shall be sowen
Uyce to depryue by his good auctoryte
As for to subdue all yll iniquyte
Of other mennes wordes be thou not bolde
And of theyr promys make no behest
And yf thou here an yll tale tolde
Gyue no iugement but say the best
So shall thou lyue euermore in rest
Who lytell medeleth is best at ease
For well were he that all myght please
Beware kepe the from grete offence
That thou condempned be not by ryghtwysnes
Whan she doth gyue her mortall sentence
Without pease or mercy cause her reles
Her iugement of mortall heuynes
That the best frende to the wyll be
The for to socour in grete necessyte
But yet in theym haue none affyaunce
As fyrst to synne thynkynge that they
At the ende to the wyll be delyueraunce
Nay ryghtwysnes wyll dryue theym away
For of all synnes without delay
Suche synne in hope it is the moost
For it is the synne of the holy ghoost
Now I amytte you into your rome
In the whiche ye shall your selfe apply
Of myn owne chaumbre ye shall be grome
Loke ye be dylygent and do not vary
From my cōmaundementes neuer specyally
For and ye wyll theym well obserue
A moche better rome ye do deserue
The fyrst cōmaundement that I gyue the
Thynke on the ende or thou begynne
For thou by ryght may knowe the certente
That deth is fyne of euery synne
Be neuer taken in dyabolycall engyne
But that repentaunce may loose the sone
Of that grete synne that thou hast done
Trust not to moche in fortunes grace
Though that she laugh on the a whyle
For she can sodenly turne her face
Whan that she lyst the to begyle
She welth and Ioye can sone defyle
And plonge the in the pyte of pouerte
Wherfore in her haue thou no suertye
Presume no ferther than the behoueth
For it wyll turne the to grete shame
For who that from his rome remoueth
He is often full gretely to blame
And medeleth with other in theym lame
As no thynge connynge nor expert
They may hym say syr malapert
Or that thou speke call to remembraunce
Unto what mater thy worde shall sygnyfye
Loke that it torne no man to greuaunce
Though that it be spoken merely
Yet many a one wyll take it greuously
Whiche that myght cause wroth and debate
Whyle that thou lyues beware of that
For a thynge lost without recouer
Loke that thou neuer be to pensyfe
Thanke god of it thynke to haue an other
Lete wysedome than be to the comfortyfe
That to thy brayn is best preseruatyfe
For euermore ryght wyse is he
That can be pacyent in aduersyte
Proue thy frende in a mater fayned
Or thou haue nede than shalt thou se
Whyther he be iustly with the reteyned
The for to socour in thy necessyte
By profe thou mayst knowe the veryte
For profe afore that nede requere
Defeteth dowte euer in fere
Be thou neuer so blynde in wylle
Yet loke thou be refourmed by reason
Than shalt thou my mynde fulfyll
And thou therto thy selfe abandon
Stryue not with reason for none encheson
For wher she lacketh ther is grete outrage
And without her may not aswage
Eschew also the synne of pryde
The moder and the feruent rote
Of all the synnes at euery tyde
Wherfore trede thou her vnder fote
With helpe of vertue so swete and sote
Whiche is best salue to hele thy sore
And to thy helth the to restore
Wo worth synne without repentaunce
Wo worth bondage without reles
Wo worth man without good gouernaunce
Wo worth infynall payne and dystresse
Wo worth vyce put fer in presse
Wo worth soueraynte hauynge dysdeyn
And wo worth pyte that doth refrayn
Wo worth ryght that may not be herd
Wo worth frendshyp without stabylyte
Wo worth true sentence that is deferd
Wo worth the man full of duplycyte
Wo worth hym without benygnyte
Wo worth lybertye withouten pease
And wo worth crueltye that may not cease
Wo worth connynge that is abused
Wo worth promys withouten payment
Wo worth vertue that is refused
Wo worth trouble without extynguysment
Wo worth foly on message sent
Wo worth reason that is exyled
And wo worth trouth that is defyled
Wo worth the trust without assuraunce
Wo worth grace not sette by
Wo worth Iustyce kepte in dystaunce
Wo worth welth replete with enuy
Wo worth the batayll without vyctory
Wo worth begynnynge without good ende
And wo worth wronge that doth defende
These commaundementes I put in memory
Theym for to kepe doynge my dylygence
With dame Sapyence I dyd longe tary
Whiche dyd me teche with partynge influence
Of her delycate and doulcete complacence
Than spake dyscrecyon anone to me
In the presens of her systers mageste
Thou art beholdynge to my syster reuerent
That the reteyned hath vnto her seruaunt
Wherfore be thou to her obedyent
And at euery houre to her attendaunt
And ryotous company do thou not haunt
For that wyll payre and yll thy name
Wherfore of vertuous myrth let be thy game.

Capitulum VI.
Discrecyon ferther forth me lede
Unto the solempne and royall mancyon
Of dame nature in humayne stede
Ryght pleasaunt was her habytacyon
Of merueylous werke and sytuacyon
And she her selfe helde her estate
In a gloryous chaumbre without chekmate
Her towre was gylted full of sonne bemys
And within hanged with cloth of aras
The roof was paynted with golden stremys
And lyke crystall depured was
Euery wyndowe aboute of glas
Where that she sat as a fayre goddes
All thynges creatynge by her besynes
Me thought she was of merueylous beaute
Tyll that Dyscrecyon lede me behynde
Where that I sawe all the pryuyte
Of her werke and humayne kynde
And at her backe I dyd than fynde
Of cruell deth a dolfull ymage
That all her beaute dyd perswage
Full wonderous was her operacyon
In euery kynde eke and ryght degre
Withouten rest or recreacyon
I wyll not medle with her secrete
For it no thynge longeth to my faculte
But somwhat after I wyll expres
Of her grete power and worthynes
But in my boke well for to procede
Dame dyscrecyon ferther me brought
Into a fayre chambre as ye may rede
Of fyne gemetry ryght well wrought
To comfort man there lacked nought
But that me thought there was no company
Saue onely dame dyscrecyon and I
We had ben but a lytell whyle there
But that we sawe a lady clere
Ryght well appareled in sad gere
Mylde in her hauour dyscrete of chere
That came vs by and very nere
Ascendynge vp in to her hyghe sete
Garnysshed with perle and with gold bete
Than sayd dyscrecyon this is dame Iustyce
Clene of conscyence without corrupcyon
And neuer be spotted with the synne of couetyse
But true as stele in the entencyon
Of ryght euermore without destruccyon
Geuynge alway a ryghtfull iugement
Obey thou youth this lady reuerent
A iuge fulfylled with the synne of auaryce
Or with fauour of kynne made blynd
Must nedys do wronge by grete ⪯iudyce
For fauour shold not conscyence bynd
Ryght to dyssymyll as I now fynd
In problemys wryten of antiquyte
Made by phylosophers of auctoryte
As we stode talkynge thus to gydere
Up came dame fortune so gayly gloryfyed
Impossyble it is for me to dyscouere
How gorges she was & gretly magnyfyed
Full lyke a goddes that had ben deyfyd
Clothed with gold sette full of rubyes
And tynst w&supert; emeraudys & many a turkes
And next to her there dyd ensue
Dame Hardynes that noble lady
After whome anone dyd pursue
Dame Sapyence whiche dyd not tary
Than came dame nature appareled royally
And all the other cladde in gold
Set with dyamondes many a fold
They lowted all vnto the ground
Afore dame Iustyce for obeysaunce
That sate there both hole and sound
Withouten ony dyscontynuaunce
Gyuynge god ere vnto the vteraunce
Of these foure ladyes pledynge at barre
With all theyr cases dyd well avarre.
Capitulm VII.

Fyrst dame hardynes began to plede
Saynge she was to man moost profytable
For she the hertes hath often fede
Of conquerous as it was couenable
And by my corage haue made theym able
Regyons to wynne theyr ennemyes to subdue
And yf I were not they had it rue
And yf a man be neuer so wyse
Withouten me he getyth none vteraunce
Wherfore his wysedome may not suffyse
All onely without myn allegeaunce
For I by ryght must nedys enhauncce
A lowe born man to an hyghe degre
Yf that he wyll be ruled by me
Haue I not caused many a noble warreour
To wynne the batell by my grete myght
Without me was made neuer conquerour
Nor yet man coragious whan he dyd fyght
No man without me may defende his ryght
I may be worst from hym forborne
For and I were not he were forlorne
Dyd I not cause the noble hercules
By my power to wynne the vyctory
Of the sturdy and stronge Philotes
As is recorded in bokes of memory
For without me can be no cheualry
And vnder the wynge of my proteccyon
All rebels brought be to subieccyon
A realme is vpholden by thynges thre
The fyrst and the chyef it is the swerd
Whiche causeth it to be in good suerte
And other realmes of it to be aferd
By whiche the vsurpers be dyfferd
From theyr wyll with treason knyte
And by me slayn for theyr fals fyte
The seconde is lawe that euer serueth
But within the realme onely
For other nacyons our lawe ne dredeth
But our swerd they do in specyally
For and they roose ayenst vs proudly
As they haue done often in tymes past
Yet w---supert; our swerd they shold be ouercast
The thyrde be marchauntes that do multyply
In this realme welth and prosperyte
For of euery thynge they often occupy
Euery man lyke vnto his faculte
For without marchauntes can not be
No realme vpholden in welth & pleasure
For it to vs is a specyall tresure
Also yet hercules the puyssaunt geaunt
Dyd flee the monstre afore Troy the grete
And with his strokes he dyd hym daunt
They were so peysantly on hym sette
That he the vyctory on hym dyd gette
Had I not be comfort vnto his harte
Suche vyctory had ben leyd aparte
Dyd he not vaynquysshe in y&supere; forest of Nemee
The thre mortall lyons by his grete hardynes
And ryued theyr Iawes as was to se
By twene his handes by chyualrus prowes
And yet by armes and knyghtly exces
In egypt he slewe the tyraunt Busyre
And brent hym after in a grete fyre
Also he slewe the tyraunt Cacus
For his tyranny and grete myschefe
By cause his dedys were so odyous
For he dyd murdre and was a thefe
Wherfore his deth to many was leef
Who more of his actes wyll haue report
To the Troyans story lette hym resort
Also the worthy and the noble hectour
That eclyped was the troyans champyon
And of all cheualry called the flour
In his tyme reynynge and of renowne
Of whose noble dedes the brute and sowne
Was spred by euery straunge habytacyon
That they of his faytys dyde make relacyon
By his power and hardy corage
He put the grekes full often to flyght
And bete theym downe by a grete outrage
That well was he that hym saue myght
Full often he brought theym to the plyght
His dedes were pure without magycyon
And without nygromancy or suche corrupcyon
Dyd I not cause also kynge dauith
A lyon Iawbones to rent and tere
That dyd deuour his shepe in the fryth
As he sat kepynge of theym there
The lyons crueltye myght not hym fere
And he in his youth so hardy was
That he dyd sle the gyaunt Golias
Dyd I not cause the noble Iulius
Emperour of rome for to be electe
By cause he was so stronge and cheualrus
Whan in armes he knewe the affecte
He all his ennemyes dyd abiecte
And by the support of my chyef socour
He gouerned hymselfe lyke a noble emperour
And also Arthur kynge of Bretayne
With all the knyghtes of the rounde table
Neuer auentures had sought certayne
And I therto had not ben greable
They for to fyght had not ben able
Who that me lacketh is but a coward
And shame is euer his rewarde
Also kynge Charlemayne kynge of Fraunce
With his dyssypers Rowland and Olyuer
With all the resydue of his alyaunce
That in all armes so noble were
On goddys ennemyes brake many a spere
Causynge them to flee to theyr grete vylony
Hardynes was cause that they had vyctory
O worthy hardynes the shynynge sterre
Alway to mannys herte the comfort
Whan that it is the tyme of werre
Unto what partye that thou resort
They wynne the batall by thy support
And wher that thou lettest thy bemys dyssende
They often hye to honoure assende
Than sayd dame hardynes vnto the Iuge
I pray you that ryght I may haue
Sythens I to man am chyef refuge
Whan that he lysteth of me to craue
I make hym coragyous and his worshyp saue
Wherfore I owte to haue the preemynence
By ryght reason and good experyence
That I deny you sayd dame Sapyence
Of whom haue you your ordre of pledynge
For ye neuer can haue none intellygence
But by the meane of myn informynge
For I am alway your mynde techynge
And without me your tale were but a fable
For ye without wytte sholde alway bable
This wyll I proue by myn opynyon
That I am grounde of the artes seuen
And of all good werkes in cōmunyon
For no man without me can go to heuen
My dedys be merueylous for man to neuen
Whan they beu wrought in to theyr degre
Who that wyll lerne theym he hath the lyberte
Of my dedes bokes do make recorde
The whiche clerkes put into remembraunce
For an example without dyscorde
Of heuenly way by vertuous gouernaunce
Without me man can haue no pleasaunce
Nor yet hym rule in no maner wyse
A man without wytte is to dyspyse
Hardynes without prudence may not auayle
Though that a man be neuer so sturdy
For a wyseman feble may wynne the batayle
Of hym that is ryght stronge and myghty
For better it is for to be ryght wytty
In the defence of his good saue garde
Than often to stryke and to renne forwarde
That thynge that hardynes may not wynne
May be goten by my hyghe souerente
And with the helpe of subtyle engynne
It may be brought to the extremyte
Wher that it myght not by possybylyte
Of hardynes longe afore be wonne
Yet by grete wysedome it may be donne
Unto dyuers cases I take excepcyon
Of dame Hardynes whiche are no lawe
Unto the fyrst vndre your correccyon
She sayd and she her power dyd wythdrawe
No rebell than shold stand in awe
And she is the chyef as I knowe well
That causeth hym for to be rebell
By her foly and folysshe hardynes
She causeth men to ryse ayenst theyr lorde
She is the cause of mortall heuynes
Whan she doth breke the good concorde
Wherfore me thynke by one accorde
For to exyle her it is now the best
Than man sholde lyue in peas and rest
And where she sayd that she exalted
Iulius cesar by her grete exylence
In that case she ryght clerely varyed
For it was I by my grete dylygence
That neuer was out of his presence
But ruled hym and made hym worthy
To be chosen emperour of all Italy
Chosen he was by the comyn assent
For the grete wysedome that in hym shone
With a grete voyce and a hole entente
For lyke vnto hym was there none
That was so abell as he alone
For to occupye an Emperours dygnyte
Of his promocyon he myght thanke me
I Sapyence am endewed with grace
And the lode sterre of heuenly doctryne
The sprynge of comfort Ioye and solace
Who that lyst to me for to enclyne
He shall knowe thynges that be dyuyue
And at his ende beholde the deyte
That is one god and persones thre
It pleased the fader that is omnipotent
His sone to send to be incarnat
Of the vyrgyn Mary the sterre moost excellent
Mayden and moder yet not vyolate
Lyke a vessell chosen and made ornat
All onely for to be goddys moder
All he hym selfe vnto man broder
But a stryfe there was bytwene god and man
Whan man consented to synne dedely
By that the dyscorde fyrst began
Whan he the sone of god on hy
That is his brother agayn wyll crucefy
Yf he had power by whiche is offended
The fader of heuen as is entended
Therfore lete vs to our brother go
Named Ihesu Cryst and axe hym mercy
With a good entent and hert also
There is for vs none other remedy
That ony tonge truely can specyfy
And he wyll take it for a correccyon
And of all vengeaunce sease the affeccyon
That we may of hym haue forgyuenes
Of our grete synne with reformacyon
Of peas bytwene the faders hyghenes
Of heuen and vs in suspyracyon
Therfore yf thou drede the amocyon
Of his ryghtwysnes loke that thou flee
Ryght fast vnto his mercyfull pyte
For his mercy is more than all our mysery
And eke aboue his werkes all
As Dauyd sheweth in his prophecy
Saynge his mercy is ouer all
To whom I pray euer in especyall
To gyue me grace well my penne to lede
That quaketh aye for drede
Dame Sapyence sayd I do procede
Of the strength of the holy ghoost
That is and shall be mater in dede
God and lorde of myghtys moost
Whose infynall power was neuer lost
And yet neuer had no begynnynge
But alway lyke stronge without endynge
Where that dame hardynes in her pledynge
Made her selfe to knyghtes moost necessary
By the meanes of her power shewynge
That I by ryght do now well deny
For in that case she dyd moche vary
For syxe there are that more profyte be
Of whiche the lest is better than she
The fyrst is prudence that is the chefe
That hym doth rule and is his gyde
And kepeth hym from grete reprefe
And causeth his worshyp for to abyde
So euery crysten man shold prouyde
By his wit to withstand the deuyll
That he consent not to do euyll
The seconde is that he sholde be true
To his souerayn lorde that on hym reyneth
And all treason for euer to eschewe
In whiche grete shame often remayneth
And by whiche he his kyne dysteyneth
So a crysten man sholde be true euer
To Ihesu Cryst that was his redemer
The thyrde is that he sholde be lyberall
Amonge his cōmons withouten lette
That is the cause euer in generall
That he the loue of theym doth gette
For it causeth theyr hertes on hym be sette
So euery true crysten man sholde be
To god intended with lyberalyte
The fourth is that he sholde be stronge
His ryght euer for to defende
And neuer to no man for to do wronge
But wronges for to dyrecte and amende
As ferre as his power wyll extende
So a true crysten man sholde exclude
All maner of vyces by his fortytude
The fyfth is y&supert; he sholde be mercyable
In all his dedes withouten furoure
For that to hym is gretly conuenable
And eke to kepe hym out of erroure
For he of mercy sholde be a myrroure
So vnto them it is ryght necessary
Who that wyll be saued for to haue mercy
The syxte is a knyght ought for to kepe
The poore folke in theyr grete nede
That often for hungre and thyrst do wepe
He ought with almes theym for to fede
And the better he shall than spede
So euery true crysten man sholde do
As ferre as his power cometh vnto
I Sapyence am of the kynges counsayll
Whiche is clothed with purple that sygnyfyeth
The grace and the pulcrytude without fayll
Of grete vertues that in hym shyneth
For to no vyces he neuer enclyneth
Hauynge in his hede a fayre crowne royall
That sheweth his dygnyte to be regall
Whiche to his people is the chefe glory
Thrugh whome his subgectes be dyrecte
And made obedyent to hym certaynly
At euery houre by ryght true effecte
But forthermore by good aspecte
He bereth a ball in his lefte hande
The whiche betokeneth as I vnderstande
A kynge to be a good admynystratour
Unto his subgectes in euery place
And to be for theym a good prouysour
As reason requyreth in euery case
I Sapyence do rule his noble grace
In his ryght hand he hath a septure
That doth sygnyfye by ryght his rygoure
Yll men to punysshe for theyr offence
By his ryghtwysnes whome the loue
Of vertue shynynge in experyence
Doth not extoll nor yet now remoue
A lampe doth hange his heed aboue
Alway lyght and clerely brennynge
Whiche sygnyfyeth the mercy of a kynge
The olde philosophers by theyr prudence
Fonde the seuen scyences lyberall
And by theyr exercyse & grete dylygence
They made theyr dedes to be memoryall
And also poetes that were fatall
Craftely colored with clowdy fygures
The true sentence of all theyr scryptures
O Iustyce lady and souerayne goddesse
Gyue you true sentence now vpon me
As ye be surmountynge in vertue & noblesse
Lete me dame Sapyence haue the soueraynte
As is accordynge to my royall dygnyte
For I am moost profytable vnto man
And euer had ben syns the world began
Than sayd dame Fortune ye are imperfyte
Without that I therto be accordaunt
For all your hardynes & prudence perfyte
I vnto you must be well exuberaunt
And with your werkes euer concordaunt
Where that I fauer they haue good cōfort
In all theyr dedes by my swete resort
I Fortune am the rule and steere
Of euery persone lyke to my wyll
That in this worlde now lyueth here
Whan that I lyst for to fulfyll
My mynde ryght sone I can dystyll
The dewe of comfort welth and rychesse
To man exaltyuge hym to noblenesse
Though that a man were neuer so hardy
Without me he myght not attayne
And though that a man were neuer so wytty
And I dyd my power from hym refrayne
All his labour were lost in vayne
So hardynesse and prudence in no wyse
Without good fortune may well suffyse
Though that a man were but a fole
Yf I consent that he be fortunate
He nedyth not to make no grete dole
For I shall mayntene so his estate
That he in rychesse shall be so eleuate
Fulfylled with welth & worldely tresure
That he shall lacke no maner of pleasure
Where that dame hardynes wold afferme
By her cases that are so vnsure
That she by her power doth conferme
The knyghtes of vyctory for to be sure
Whan she doth take theyr hertes in cure
Yf fortune be awaye she may not auayle
For they by reason must lose the batayle
Yet forthermore as I do well consyder
How dame hardynes dyd expresse
Sythens the tyme that I came hyder
That she promoted had to worthynes
Hector dauid and the noble hercules
With many other wherof she fayleth
For it was fortune as she well knoweth
For in olde tyme the noble warryours
For to eschewe euer my grete daungere
In whiche tyme they were ydolestours
Than they to put hym oute of fere
To ydols went that theyr goddes were
For to haue answer yf they sholde wynne
The batayll or they dyd begynne
What nede I pleed by longe contynuaunce
As dame Sapyence dyd in maters hy
It were of tyme but dyscontynuaunce
But o dame Iustyce the gentyll lady
Loke that ye Iuge my mater ryght wysely
That I of hardynes may be the pryncypall
And of dame prudence & nature with all
Than sayd dame nature that may not be
As I can proue by ryght and reason
For I am moost confort to humanyte
As man well knoweth at euery encheason
And can not be forborne for none season
For where I lacke without ony delay
Man is but dede and turned to clay
That nature gyueth by her power
Wysedome nor hardynes may not defete
For I to man am the chefe doer
Durynge his lyfe without retrete
Also dame fortune may not well lete
Me of my course though she it thought
In sondery wyse my dedes are so wrought
Though that a man were infortunable
And though that he were neuer so folysshe
And a grete coward to fyght not able
Yet shulde he lyue and neuer perysshe
Tyll that my power of hym doth fynysshe
Whiche fayle must ones it is my proprete
And that was gyuen me by the deyte
I am the orygynall of mannes creacyon
And by me alway the world doth multyply
In welth pleasure and delectacyon
As I wyll shewe now in this party
My dedes be subtyll & wrought craftely
What were the worlde yf I were note
It were sone done as I well wote
The lawe of nature doth man bynde
Both beste foule and fysshe also
In theyr degre to do theyr kynde
Blame theym not yf they do so
For harde it is euer to ouer go
The kynde of nature in her degre
For euery thynge must shewe his proprete
Who of theyr propretes lyst to rede
Lete hym loke in the boke of barthelmewe
And to his scripture take good hede
That ryght nobly of theym do shewe
With all theyr actes beynge not a fewe
But wounderous many by alteracyon
For lyke hath lyke his operacyon
I nature norysshe by myn afflyccyon
Mannes humayne partyes superfyxcyall
And am the sprynge of his complexion
The fonteyne of his vaynes inferyall
To hym conserue moost dere and specyall
Though he were hardy & wyse he myzt not me forbere
Nor fortune without me auayleth not hym a pere
Wherfore dame Iustyce be you now indyfferent
Consydre that I am moost dere and lefe
Unto euery man that is eliquylent
And aboue all medycyns to hym moost chefe
And by my strongh vnto hym relefe
In his dysease wherfore as thynke me
I ought of reason to haue the soueraynte
Than spake dame Iustyce with meke contenaūce
I wyll all your contrauersy now redresse
For I of your reasons haue good perseueraunce
And after your cases both more and lesse
Wherfore I Iustyce by good ryghtwysnesse
Gyue now vpon you a fynall Iugement
That ye foure agree by a hole assent
Man for to please at euery houre
Without dysgrement or contradiccyon
And in his nede to do hym socoure
With louynge herte and true affeccyon
He shall be in your good iurysdyccyon
And you of hym shall be copertyners
Both of his lyfe and of his maners
Than sayd dame hardynes I agre therto
And so do I than sayd dame Sapyence
Than sayd dame Fortune I also do
Agre vnto dame Iustyce sentence
And I dame Nature wyll do my dylygence
Lyke as ye do man for to please
And hym to strength in his dysease
With that dame Iustyce vp arose
Unto the ladyes byddynge fare well
And went into her chaumbre close
I cleped conscyence wher she dyd dwell
As dame Dyscrecyon dyd me tell
Than hardynes & fortune went downe the stayre
And after theym Nature so clere and fayre.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010


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