The Regiment of Princes
Musynge upon the restlees bysynesse
Which that this troubly world hath ay on honde,
That othir thyng than fruyt of bittirnesse
Ne yildith naght, as I can undirstonde,
At Chestres In, right faste by the Stronde,
As I lay in my bed upon a nyght,
Thoght me byrefte of sleep the force and might. 1
And many a day and nyght that wikkid hyne
Hadde beforn vexed my poore goost
So grevously that of angwissh and pyne
No rycher man was nowhere in no coost.
This dar I seyn, may no wight make his boost
That he with thoght was bet than I aqweynted,
For to the deeth he wel ny hath me feynted.
Bysyly in my mynde I gan revolve
The welthe unseur of every creature,
How lightly that Fortune it can dissolve
Whan that hir list that it no lenger dure;
And of the brotilnesse of hir nature
My tremblynge herte so greet gastnesse hadde
That my spirites were of my lyf sadde.
Me fil to mynde how that nat longe agoo
Fortunes strook doun thraste estat rial
Into mescheef, and I took heede also
Of many anothir lord that hadde a fal.
In mene estat eek sikirnesse at al
Ne saw I noon, but I sy atte laste
Wher seuretee for to abyde hir caste.
In poore estat shee pighte hir pavyloun
To kevere hir fro the storm of descendynge 2
For shee kneew no lower descencion
Sauf oonly deeth, fro which no wight lyvynge
Deffende him may; and thus in my musynge
I destitut was of joie and good hope,
And to myn ese nothyng cowde I grope.
For right as blyve ran it in my thoght,
Thogh poore I be, yit sumwhat leese I may.
Than deemed I that seurtee wolde noght
With me abyde; it is nat to hir pay
Ther to sojourne as shee descende may.
And thus unsikir of my smal lyflode,
Thoght leide on me ful many an hevy lode.
I thoghte eek, if I into povert creepe,
Than am I entred into sikirnesse;
But swich seurtee mighte I ay waille and weepe,
For povert breedith naght but hevynesse.
Allas, wher is this worldes stablenesse?
Heer up, heer doun; heer honour, heer repreef;
Now hool, now seek; now bountee, now mescheef.
And whan I hadde rollid up and doun
This worldes stormy wawes in my mynde,
I sy wel povert was exclusioun
Of al welfare regnynge in mankynde;
And how in bookes thus writen I fynde,
"The werste kynde of wrecchidnesse is
A man to han be weleful or this."
Allas, thoghte I, what sikirnesse is that
To lyve ay seur of greef and of nusance?
What shal I do? Best is I stryve nat
Ageyn the peys of Fortunes balance,
For wel I woot that hir brotil constance
A wight no whyle souffre can sojourne
In o plyt; thus nat wiste I how to tourne.
For whan man weeneth stonde moost constant,
Thanne is he nexte to his overthrowynge;
So flittynge is shee and so variant,
Ther is no trust upon hir fair lawhynge;
Aftir glad look, shee shapith hir to stynge.
I was adrad so of hir gerynesse
That my lyf was but a deedly gladnesse.
This ilke nyght I walwid to and fro
Seekynge reste, but certeynly shee
Appeerid nat, for thoght, my cruel fo,
Chaced had hir and sleep away fro me.
And for I sholde nat allone be,
Ageyn my lust wach proferred his servyse,
And I admittid him in hevy wyse.
So long a nyght ne felte I nevere noon
As was that same, to my jugement.
Whoso that thoghty is, is wo begoon;
The thoghtful wight is vessel of torment;
Ther nis no greef to him equipollent.
He graveth deepest of seeknesses alle:
Ful wo is him that in swich thoght is falle.
What wight that inly pensyf is, I trowe,
His moost desir is to be solitarie.
That this is sooth, in my persone I knowe,
For evere whyl that fretynge adversarie
Myn herte made to him tributarie
In sowkynge of the fressheste of my blood;
To sorwe soul me thoghte it dide me good.
For the nature of hevynesse is this:
If it habownde greetly in a wight,
The place eschueth he whereas joie is,
For joie and he nat mowe accorde aright.
As discordant as day is unto nyght,
And honour adversarie is unto shame,
Is hevynesse so to joie and game.
Whan to the thoghtful wight is told a tale,
He heerith it as thogh he thennes were;
His hevy thoghtes him so plukke and hale
Hidir and thidir, and him greeve and dere,
That his eres availle him nat a pere;
He undirstandith nothyng what men seye,
So been his wittes fer goon hem to pleye.
The smert of thoght I by experience
Knowe as wel as any man dooth lyvynge.
His frosty swoot and fyry hoot fervence,
And troubly dremes drempt al in wakynge,
My mazid heed sleeplees han of konnynge
And wit despoillid, and so me bejapid
That aftir deeth ful often have I gapid.
Passe over; whan this stormy nyght was goon
And day gan at my wyndowe in to prye,
I roos me up, for boote fond I noon
In myn unresty bed lenger to lye.
Into the feeld I dressid me in hye,
And in my wo I herte-deep gan wade,
As he that was bareyne of thoghtes glade.
By that I walkid hadde a certeyn tyme,
Were it an hour I not, or more or lesse,
A poore old hoor man cam walkynge by me,
And seide, "Good day, sire, and God yow blesse!"
But I no word, for my seekly distresse
Forbad myn eres usen hir office,
For which this old man heeld me lewde and nyce,
Til he took heede to my drery cheere,
And to my deedly colour pale and wan.
Than thoghte he thus: "This man that I see heere
Al wrong is wrestid, by aght I see can."
He stirte unto me and seide, "Sleepstow, man?
Awake!" and gan me shake wondir faste,
And with a sigh I answerde atte laste:
"A, who is there?" "I," quod this olde greye,
"Am heer," and he me tolde the manere
How he spak to me, as yee herde me seye.
"O man," quod I, "for Crystes love deere,
If that thow wilt aght doon at my prayeere,
As go thy way, talke to me no more;
Thy wordes alle annoyen me ful sore.
"Voide fro me, me list no conpaignie.
Encresse nat my greef, I have ynow."
"My sone, hast thow good lust thy sorwe drye
And mayst releeved be? What man art thow?
Wirke aftir me: it shal be for thy prow.
Thow nart but yong and hast but litil seen,
And ful seelde is that yong folk wyse been.
"If that thee lyke to been esid wel,
As suffre me with thee to talke a whyle.
Art thow aght lettred?" "Yee," quod I, "sumdel."
"Blessid be God, than hope I, by Seint Gyle,
That God to thee thy wit shal reconsyle
Which that me thynkith is fer fro thee went
Thurgh the assaut of thy grevous torment.
"Lettred folk han gretter discrecion
And bet conceyve konne a mannes sawe,
And rather wole applie to reson,
And from folie sonner hem withdrawe,
Than he that neithir reson can ne lawe,
Ne lerned hath no maner letterure.
Plukke up thyn herte - I hope I shal thee cure."
"Cure, good man? Yee, thow art a fair leeche!
Cure thyself that tremblest as thow goost,
For al thyn aart wole enden in thy speeche.
It lyth nat in thy power, poore goost,
To hele me; thow art as seek almoost
As I! First on thyself kythe thyn aart,
And if aght leve, let me thanne have paart.
"Go foorth thy way, I thee preye, or be stille;
Thow doost me more annoy than that thow weenest.
Thow art as ful of clap as is a mille;
Thow doost naght heer but greevest me and teenest.
Good man, thow woost but litil what thow meenest.
In thee lyth naght redresse my nusance,
And yit thow maist be wel-willid, par chance.
"It muste been a gretter man of might
Than that thow art that sholde me releeve."
"What, sone myn, thow feelist nat aright;
To herkne me, what shal it harme or greeve?"
"Petir, good man, thogh we talke heer til eeve,
Al is in veyn; thy might may nat atteyne
To hele me, swich is my woful peyne."
"What that I may or can ne woost thow noght.
Hardily, sone, telle on how it is."
"Man, at a word, it is encombrous thoght
That causith me thus sorwe and fare amis."
"Now, sone, and if ther nothyng be but this,
Do as I shal thee seye, and thyn estat
Amende I shal but thow be obstinat,
"And wilfully rebelle and disobeye,
And list nat to my lore thee conforme;
For in swich cas, what sholde I speke or seye,
Or in my beste wyse thee enforme?
If thow it weyve and take anothir forme,
Aftir thy childissh misreuled conceit,
Thow doost unto thyself harm and deceit.
"O thyng seye I, if thow go feerelees
Al solitarie and conseil lakke and reed,
As me thynkith thy gyse is, doutelees
Thow likly art to bere a dotid heed.
Whil thow art soul, thoght his wastyng seed
Sowith in thee, and that in greet foysoun,
And thow reedlees nat canst voide his poisoun.
"The Book seith thus - I redde it yore agoon:
'Wo be to him that list to been allone,
For if he falle, help ne hath he noon
To ryse.' This seye I by thy persone;
I fond thee soul and thy wittes echone
Fer fro thee fled and disparpled ful wyde,
Wherfore it seemeth thee needith a gyde,
"Which that thee may unto thy wittes lede.
Thow graspist heer and there as dooth the blynde,
And ay misgoost, and yit, have I no drede,
If thow receyve wilt into thy mynde
My lore and execute it, thow shalt fynde
Therin swich ese that thy maladie
Abregge it shal and thy malencolie.
"Ful holsum were it stynten of thy wo
And take unto thee spirit of gladnesse.
What profyt fyndest thow to mourne so?
Salomon seith that sorwe and hevynesse
Bones of man drieth by his duresse,
And herte glad makith florisshyng age;
Therfore I rede thow thy wo asswage.
"He seith: 'As motthes to a clooth annoyen
And of his wolle maken it al bare,
And also as wormes a tree destroien
Thurgh hir percynge, right so sorwe and care
Byreven man his helthe and his welfare
And his dayes abregge and shorte his lyf.'
Lo, what profyt is for to be pensyf?
"Now, goode sone, telle on thy grevance:
What is thy cause of thoght in special?
Haast thow of worldly goodes habundance
And carist how that it ykept be shal?
Or art thow needy and hast nat but smal,
And thristist sore a ryche man to be?
Or lovest hire that nat loveth thee?
"I have herd seyn, in keepynge of richesse
Is thoght and wo and bisy awayt alway. 3
The poore and needy eek hath hevynesse,
For to his purpos nat atteyne he may;
The lovere also seen men day by day
Prolle aftir that that he shal nevere fynde;
Thus thoght tormentith folk in sundry kynde.
"If thow thee feele in any of thise ygreeved
Or elles what, telle on, in Goddes name.
Thow seest al day the begger is releeved
That sit and beggith blynd, crookid, and lame,
And why? For he ne lettith for no shame
His harmes and his povert to bywreye
To folk as they goon by him in the weye.
"For and he keepe him cloos and holde his pees,
And nat out shewe how seek he inward is,
He may al day so sitten helpelees;
And, sone myn, althogh he fare amis
That hydeth so, God woot, the wyt is his;
But this begger his hurtes wole nat stele;
He wole telle al and more - he can naght hele.
"Right so, if thee list have a remedie
Of thyn annoy that prikkith thee so smerte,
The verray cause of thyn hid maladie
Thow moot deskevere and telle out al thyn herte.
If thow it hyde, thow shalt nat asterte
That thow ne falle shalt in sum meschance;
Forthy amende thow thy governance.
"Be waar of thoght, for it is perillous;
He the streight way to desconfort men ledith;
His violence is ful outrageous;
Unwys is he that bisy thoght ne dredith.
In whom that he his mortel venym shedith,
But if a vomyt aftir folwe blyve,
At the port of despeir he may arryve.
"Sone, swich thoght lurkynge thee withynne,
That huntith aftir thy confusioun,
Hy tyme it is to voide and lat him twynne,
And walke at large out of thy prisoun.
Be waar the feendes sly conclusioun,
For if he may thee unto despeir brynge,
Thow mourne shalt, and lawhe he wole and synge.
"Sum man for lak of occupacioun
Musith ferthere than his wit may strecche,
And at the feendes instigacioun
Dampnable errour holdith, and can nat flecche
For no conseil ne reed, as dide a wrecche
Nat fern ago, which that of heresie
Convict and brent was unto asshen drie.
"The precious body of our Lord Jhesu
In forme of brede he leeved nat at al;
He was in nothyng abassht ne eschu
To seye it was but brede material.
He seide a preestes power was as smal
As a rakers or swich anothir wight,
And to make it hadde no gretter might.
"My lord the Prince - God him save and blesse -
Was at his deedly castigacioun
And of his soule hadde greet tendrenesse,
Thristynge sore his sauvacioun.
Greet was his pitous lamentacioun
Whan that this renegat nat wolde blynne
Of the stynkynge errour that he was ynne.
"This good lord highte him to be swich a mene
To his fadir, our lige lord sovereyn,
If he renounce wolde his error clene
And come unto our good byleeve ageyn,
He sholde of his lyf seur been and certain;
And souffissant lyflode eek sholde he have
Unto the day he clad were in his grave.
"Also this noble prynce and worthy knyght -
God qwyte him his charitable labour -
Or any stikke kyndlid were or light,
The sacrament, our blessid Sauveour,
With reverence greet and hy honour,
He fecche leet, this wrecche to converte,
And make our feith to synken in his herte.
"But al for naght, it wolde nat betyde;
He heeld foorth his oppinioun dampnable,
And caste our holy Cristen feith asyde
As he that was to the feend acceptable.
By any outward tokne resonable,
If he inward hadde any repentance,
That woot He that of nothyng hath doutance.
"Lat the dyvynes of him speke and muse
Where his soule is bycome or whidir goon;
Myn unkonnynge of that me shal excuse;
Of swich mateere knowleche have I noon.
But wolde God tho Crystes foos echoon
That holde as he heeld were yserved so,
For I am seur that ther been many mo.
"The more routhe is! Allas, what men been they
That hem delyten in swich surquidrye?
For mannes reson may nat preeve our fey
That they wole it dispreeven or denye.
To our lord God that sitte in hevenes hye,
Shul they desyre for to been egal?
Nay, that was nevere, certes, ne be shal.
"That our lord God seith in Holy Scripture
May nat be fals, this knowith every wight
But he be mad; and thogh a creature
In his Goddes werk feele nat aright,
Shal he rebelle ageyn his lordes might,
Which that this wyde world hath maad of noght,
For reson may nat knytte it in his thoght?
"Was it nat eek a moustre as in nature
That God ybore was of a virgyne?
Yit is it sooth, thogh man by conjecture
Of reson or what he can ymagyne
Nat savoure it ne can it determyne.
He that almighty is dooth as him list;
He wole his konnynge hid be and nat wist.
"Our feith nat were unto us meritorie
If that we mighten by reson it preeve.
Lat us nat fro God twynnen and His glorie;
As Holy Chirche us bit, lat us byleeve.
But we therto obeye, it shal us greeve
Importably; lat us do as shee bit;
Oure goode fadres olde han folwed it.
"Presumpcion, a benedicitee!
Why vexest thow folk with thy franesie,
Thogh nothyng elles were, I seye for me?
But see how that the worthy prelacie,
And undir hem the souffissant clergie,
Endowid of profounde intelligence,
Of al this land werreyen thy sentence.
"That selve same to me were a brydil
By which wolde I governed been and gyed,
And elles al my labour were in ydil.
By Holy Chirche I wole be justified;
To that al hoolly is myn herte applied,
And evere shal. I truste in Goddes grace;
Swich surquidrie in me shal have no place.
"Sone, if God wole, thow art noon of tho
That wrappid been in this dampnacioun?"
"I? Cryst forbeede it, sire," seide I tho.
"I thanke it God, noon inclinacioun
Have I to laboure in probacioun
Of His hy knowleche and His mighty werkis,
For swich mateere unto my wit to derk is.
"Of our feith wole I nat despute at al,
But at o word, I in the sacrament
Of the auter fully byleeve and shal,
With Goddes help, whil lyf is to me lent,
And in despit of the feendes talent,
In alle othir articles of the feith
Byleeve as fer as that Holy Writ seith."
"Now good thrift come unto thee, sone deere;
Thy goost is now awakid wel, I see,
And sumwhat eek amendid is thy cheere.
And first I was ful sore agast of thee,
Lest that thow thurgh thoghtful adversitee
Nat haddest standen in thy feith aright;
Now is myn herte woxen glad and light.
"Hast thow in me any gretter savour
Than that thow haddest first whan thow me sy,
Whan I opposid thee of thy langour?
Seye on the soothe." "Yee, sumdel," quod I.
"My sone, in feith that is seid ful feyntly;
Thy savour yit ful smal is, as I trowe,
But or aght longe I shal the soothe knowe.
"I woot wel, sone, of me thus wilt thow thynke:
This olde dotid grisel halt him wys; 4
He weeneth maken in myn heed to synke
His lewde clap, of which sette I no prys.
He is a noble prechour at devys;
Greet noyse hath thurgh his chynned lippes drye
This day out past, the devel in his ye.
"But thogh I old and hoor be, sone myn,
And poore be my clothynge and array,
And nat so wyde a gowne have as is thyn -
So smal ypynchid ne so fressh and gay -
My reed in hap yit thee profyte may,
And likly that thow deemest for folie
Is gretter wysdam than thow canst espie.
"Undir an old poore habyt regneth ofte
Greet vertu, thogh it moustre poorely;
And whereas greet array is up on lofte,
Vice is but seelden hid - that wel woot I.
But nat reporte, I preye thee, inwardly,
That fressh array I generally deprave;
Thise worthy men mowe it wel use and have.
"But this me thynkith an abusioun,
To see oon walke in gownes of scarlet
Twelve yerdes wyde, with pendaunt sleeves doun
On the ground, and the furrour therin set,
Amountyng unto twenti pound or bet.
And if he for it paied have, he no good
Hath left him wherwith for to bye an hood.
"For thogh he gette foorth among the prees
And overlooke every poore wight,
His cofre and eek his purs been penylees;
He hath no more than he gooth in right.
For land, rente, or catel he may go light;
The weighte of hem shal nat so moche peise
As dooth his gowne. Is swich array to preise?
"Nay, soothly, sone, it is al mis, me thynkith,
So poore a wight his lord to countrefete
In his array; in my conceit it stynkith.
Certes to blame been the lordes grete,
If that I durste seyn, that hir men lete
Usurpe swich a lordly apparaille;
It is nat worth, my chyld, withouten faille.
"Sumtyme afer men mighten lordes knowe
By hir array from othir folk, but now
A man shal studie and musen a long throwe
Which is which. O lordes, it sit to yow
Amende this, for it is for your prow;
If twixt yow and your men no difference
Be in array, lesse is your reverence.
"Also ther is anothir neewe get:
A foul waast of clooth and an excessyf
Ther gooth, no lesse in a mannes typet
Than of brood clooth a yerde, by my lyf;
Me thynkith this a verray inductyf
Unto stelthe. Waar hem of hempen lane,
For stelthe is medid with a chekelewe bane.
"Let every lord his owne men deffende
Swich greet array, and thanne, on my peril,
This land withynne a whyle shal amende.
In Goddes name, putte it in exyl;
It is a synne outrageous and vyl;
Lordes, if yee your estat and honour
Loven, fleemeth this vicious errour.
"What is a lord withouten his meynee?
I putte cas that his foos him assaille
Sodeynly in the street: what help shal he
Whos sleeves encombrous so syde traille
Do to his lord? He may him nat availle;
In swich a cas he nis but a womman;
He may nat stande him in stide of a man.
"His armes two han right ynow to doone,
And sumwhat more, his sleeves up to holde.
The taillours, trowe I, moot heeraftir soone
Shape in the feeld; they shul nat sprede and folde
On hir bord, thogh they nevere so fayn wolde,
The clooth that shal been in a gowne wroght;
Take an hool clooth is best, for lesse is noght.
"The skynner unto the feeld moot also -
His hous in Londoun is to streit and scars
To doon his craft; sumtyme it was nat so.
O lordes, geve unto your men hir pars
That so doon, and aqweynte hem bet with Mars,
God of bataille; he loveth noon array
That hurtith manhode at preef or assay.
"Who now moost may bere on his bak at ones
Of clooth and furrour hath a fressh renoun;
He is a lusty man clept, for the nones.
But drapers and eek skynners in the toun
For swich folk han a special orisoun,
That droppid is with curses heer and there,
And ay shal til they paied be for hir gere.
"In dayes olde, whan smal apparaille
Souffysid unto hy estat or mene,
Was greet houshold wel stuffid of vitaille;
But now housholdes been ful sclendre and lene,
For al the good that men may repe or glene
Waastid is in outrageous array,
So that housholdes men nat holde may.
"Pryde hath wel lever bere an hungry mawe
To bedde than lak of array outrage.
He no prys settith by mesures lawe,
Ne takith of him clooth, mete, ne wage;
Mesure is out of land on pilgrimage;
But I suppose he shal resorte as blyve,
For verray neede wole us therto dryve.
"Ther may no lord take up no neewe gyse
But that a knave shal the same up take.
If lordes wolden wirken in this wyse
For to do swiche gownes to hem make
As men dide in old tyme, I undirtake,
The same get sholde up be take and usid,
And al this costlewe outrage refusid.
"Of Lancastre Duk John, whos soule in hevene
I fully deeme and truste sit ful hye -
A noble prince, I may allegge and nevene -
Othir may no man of him testifie;
I nevere sy a lord that cowde him gye
Bet lyk his estat; al knyghtly prowesse
Was to him girt - o God, his soule blesse!
"His garnementes weren nat ful wyde,
And yit they him becam wondirly wel.
Now wolde God the waast of clooth and pryde
Yput were in exyl perpetuel
For the good and profyt universel;
And lordes mighte helpe al this, if they wolde
The old get take, and it foorth use and holde.
"Than mighte silver walke more thikke
Among the peple than that it dooth now.
Ther wolde I fayn that were yset the prikke -
Nat for myself, I shal do wel ynow -
But, sone, for that swiche men as thow,
That with the world wrastlen, mighte han plentee
Of coyn, whereas yee han now scarsetee.
"Now hath this land but litil neede of bromes
To sweepe away the filthe out of the street,
Syn syde sleeves of penylees gromes
Wole it up likke, be it drie or weet.
O Engeland, stande upright on thy feet!
So foul a waast in so symple degree
Banisshe, or sore it shal repente thee.
"If a wight vertuous but narwe clothid
To lordes courtes now adayes go,
His conpaignie is unto folkes lothid;
Men passen by him bothe to and fro,
And scorne him for he is arraied so.
To hir conceit is no wight vertuous
But he that of array is outrageous.
"But he that flatere can or be a baude,
And by tho tweyne fressh array him gete,
It holden is to him honour and laude.
Trouthe and clennesse musten men forgete
In lordes courtes, for they hertes frete;
They hyndren folk. Fy upon tonges treewe!
They displesance in lordes courtes breewe.
"Lo, sone myn, that tale is at an eende.
Now, goode sone, have of me no desdeyn,
Thogh I be old and myn array untheende,
For many a yong man, woot I wel certeyn,
Of corage is so prowd and so hauteyn
That to the poore and old mannes doctryne
Ful seelde him deyneth bowen or enclyne.
"Senek seith, age is an infirmitee
That leche noon can cure ne it hele,
For to the deeth next neigheburgh is he.
Ther may no wight the chartre of lyf ensele;
The ende is deeth of male and of femele;
Nothyng is more certeyn than deeth is,
Ne more uncerteyn than the tyme, ywis.
"As touchynge age, God in Holy Writ
Right thus seith: 'Fadir and modir honure,
That thow maist be long-lyved' - thus he bit.
Than moot it folwen upon this scripture,
Age is a guerdoun to a creature,
And long-lyved is noon withouten age,
Wherfore I seye, in elde is avauntage;
"And the reward of God may nat be smal;
His giftes been ful noble and profitable;
Forthy ne lakke thow nat age at al.
Whan youthe is past is age sesonable;
Age hath insighte how unseur and unstable
This worldes cours is by lengthe of his yeeres,
And can deffende him from his sharpe breres.
"Lord, whethir it be maistrie to knowe
Whan a man ofte hath sundry weyes ride,
Which is the beste? Nay, for soothe, I trowe,
Right so he that hath many a world abide
There he in youthe wroghte mis or dide,
His age it seeth and bit him it eschue
And seekith weyes covenable and due.
"Whan that thow hast assayed bothe two,
Sad age, I seye, aftir thy skittissh yowthe,
As thow moot needes atteyne therto
Or sterve yong, than trowe I thow wilt bowe thee
To swiche conceites as I have nowthe,
And thanke God devoutly in thyn herte
That He hath suffrid thee thy yowthe asterte.
"Youthe ful smal reward hath to goodnesse,
And peril dredith he noon, woot I wel;
Al his devocion and holynesse
At the taverne is, as for the moost del;
To Bachus signe and to the levesel
His youthe him halith, and whan it him happith
To chirche goon, of nycetee he clappith.
"The cause why men oghten thidir goon,
Nat cause can his wilde steerissh heed
To folwen it. Also, boote is it noon
To telle it him, for thogh men sowen seed
Of vertu, in a yong man it is deed;
As blyve his rebel goost it mortifieth.
Al thyng sauf folie in a yong man dieth.
"Whan I was yong, I was ful rechelees,
Prowd, nyce, and riotous for the maistrie,
And among othir, consciencelees.
By that sette I nat the worth of a flie;
And of hem hauntid I the conpaignie
That wente on pilgrimage to taverne,
Which before unthrift berith the lanterne.
"There offred I wel more than my tythe,
And withdrow Holy Chirche his duetee.
My freendes me conseillid often sythe
That I with lownesse and humilitee
To my curat go sholde and make his gree,
But straw, unto hir reed wolde I nat bowe
For aght they cowden preyen alle or wowe!
"Whan folk wel reuled dressid hem to bedde
In tyme due by reed of nature,
To the taverne qwikly I me spedde
And pleide at dees whil the nyght wolde endure.
There the former of every creature
Dismembred I with oothes grete, and rente
Lym fro lym or that I thennes wente.
"And ofte it fals was that I swoor or spak,
For the desir fervent of covetyse
Fond in perjurie no deffaute or lak,
But evere entyced me that in al wyse
Myne oothes grete I sholde excercyse,
And specially for lucre, in al maneere,
Swere and forswere with bold face and cheere.
"But this condicioun, lo, hadde I evere:
Thogh I prowd were in wordes or in speeche,
Whan strokes cam, a place I gan dissevere;
Fro my felawes soghte I nevere leeche
For hurt which that I took; what sholde I seeche
A salve whan I therof had no neede?
I hurtlees was ay thurgh impressid dreede.
"Tho mighte I spende an hundred mark by yeer,
Al thyng deduct, my sone, I gabbe noght.
I was so prowd, I heeld no man my peere;
In pryde and leccherie was al my thoght.
No more I hadde set therby or roght
A wyf or mayde or nonne to deffoule
Than sheete or pleyen at the bal or boule.
"Right nyce girles at my retenue
Had I an heep, wyves and othir mo -
What so they were, I wolde noon eschue;
And yeeres fele I continued so.
Allas, I nothyng was waar of the wo
That folwed me; I lookid nat behynde;
Conceites yonge been ful dirk and blynde.
"An office also hadde I lucratyf,
And wan ynow, God woot, and mochil more,
But nevere thoghte I in al my yong lyf
What I unjustly gat for to restore,
Wherfore I now repente wondir sore;
As it misgoten was, mis was despendid,
Of which our lord God greetly was offendid.
"He sy I nolde absteene for no good
Of myn outrageous iniquitee,
And whan that His lust was, withdrow the flood
Of welthe, and at ground ebbe sette He me;
With povert for my gilt me feffid He.
Swich wreche took He for my cursid synne;
No more good have I than I stonde ynne.
"Gold, silver, jewel, clooth, beddyng, array -
Ne have I noon othir than thow maist see;
Pardee, this bare old russet is nat gay,
And in my purs so grete sommes be
That ther nis contour in al Cristientee
Which that hem can at any noumbre sette.
That shalt thow see, my purs I wole unshette.
"Come hidir to me, sone, and looke whethir
In this purs ther be any crois or crouche
Sauf nedel and threde and themel of lethir;
Heer seestow naght that man may handele or touche.
The feend, men seyn, may hoppen in a pouche
Whan that no crois therynne may appeere,
And by my purs the same I may seye heere.
"O, where is now al the wantoun moneye
That I was maistir of and governour,
Whan I kneew nat what povert was to seye?
Now is povert the glas and the mirour
In which I see my God, my sauveour.
Or povert cam, wiste I nat what God was,
But now I knowe and see Him in this glas.
"And where be my gownes of scarlet,
Sangwyn, murray, and blewes sadde and lighte;
Greenes also, and the fair violet;
Hors and harneys, fressh and lusty in sighte -
My wikkid lyf hath put al this to flighte.
But, certes, yit me greeveth moost of alle,
My frendshipe is al clene fro me falle.
"O whyle I stood in wele, I was honurid
And many oon of my conpaignie glad,
And now I am mislookid on and lourid;
Ther rekkith noon how wo I be bystad.
O Lord, this world unstable is and unsad;
This world honureth nat mannes persone
For himself, sone, but for good allone.
"Ful sooth fynde I the word of Salomon,
That to moneie obeien alle thynges;
For that my coyn and coynworth is agoon,
Contrarien they my wil and my biddynges,
That in my welthe with hir flaterynges
Heelden with me what that I wroghte or seide;
Now disobeyen they that thanne obeide.
"Now seyn they thus: 'I wiste wel alway
That him destroie wolde his fool largesse;
I tolde him so and evere he seide nay.'
And yit they lien, also God me blesse;
They me conforted ay in myn excesse,
And seide I was a manly man withalle;
Hir hony wordes tornen me to galle.
"God, which of His benigne courtesie,
And of His cheere lovynge tendrenesse,
He of the synful hath nat wole he die,
But lyve for to amende his wikkidnesse;
Him thanke I and His infynyt goodnesse;
His grace lykith that thurgh worldly peyne
My soule eschape may the feendes cheyne.
"Job hadde an hevyer fal than I, pardee,
For he was clumben hyer in richesse,
And paciently he his adversitee
Took, as the Byble bere can witnesse.
And aftirward, God al his hevynesse
Torned to joie, and so may He do myn
Whan that it lykith to His myght devyn.
"Lord, as Thee list, right so Thow to me do;
But evere I hope seur been of that place
Which that Thy mercy boght us hath unto,
If that us list for to sue Thy grace.
A! Lord almighty, in my lyves space,
Of my gilt graunte Thow me repentance,
And Thy strook take in greable souffrance.
"I cowde of youthe han talkid more and told
Than I have doon, but the day passith swythe,
And eek me lever is by many fold
Thy greef to knowe which that sit so ny thee.
Telle on anoon, my goode sone, and hye thee,
And I shal herknen as thow hast doon me,
And, as I can, wole I conseille thee."
"Grant mercy, deere fadir, of your speeche.
Yee han right wel me conforted and esid;
And hertily I preye yow and byseeche,
What I first to yow spak, be nat displesid;
It reewith me if I yow have disesid,
And meekly yow byseeche I of pardoun,
Me submittynge unto correccioun.
"I woot wel first, whan that I with yow mette,
I was ful mad and spak ful rudely.
Thogh I nat slepte, yit my spirit mette
Ful angry dremes; thoght ful bysyly
Vexid my goost so that nothyng wiste I
What that I to yow spak or what I thoghte,
But heer and there I myselven soghte.
"I preye yow, deemeth nat that in despyt
I hadde yow for age or povertee;
I mente it nat, but I stood in swich plyt
That it was nothyng likly unto me,
Thogh yee had knowen al my privetee,
That yee mighten my greef thus han abregged
As yee han doon, so sore I was agregged.
"Fadir, as wysly God me save and speede,
Yee been nat he whom that I wende han fownde;
Yee been to me ful welcome in this neede.
I woot wel yee in hy vertu habownde;
Your wys reed hope I hele shal my wownde;
My day of helthe is present, as me thynkith;
Your confort deepe into myn herte synkith.
"Myn herte seith that your benevolence,
Of routhe meeved and verray pitee
Of my wo, dooth his peyne and diligence
Me to releeve of myn infirmitee.
O, goode fadir, blessid moot yee be,
That han swich routhe of my woful estat,
Which wel ny was of helthe desperat.
"But, fadir, thogh ther be dyversitee
Ful greet betwixt your excellent prudence
And the folie that regneth in me,
Yit, God it woot, ful litil difference
Is ther betwixt the hete and the fervence
Of love which to agid folk yee have
And myn, althogh yee deeme I hem deprave.
"For if that I the soothe shal confesse,
The lak of olde mennes cherisshynge
Is cause and ground of al myn hevynesse
And encheson of my woful mournynge.
That shal yee knowe, if it be your lykynge
The cause wite of myn adversitee."
"Yis, telle on in the name of Cryst," seide he.
"Sauf first, or thow any ferther proceede,
O thyng of thee wite wolde I, my sone:
Wher dwellist thow?" "Fadir, withouten dreede,
In the office of the Privee Seel I wone
And wryte - there is my custume and wone
Unto the Seel, and have twenti yeer
And foure come Estren, and that is neer."
"Now sikir, sone, that is a fair tyme;
The tokne is good of thy continuance.
Come hidir, goode, and sitte adoun heer by me,
For I moot reste a whyle; it is penance
To me thus longe walke - it dooth nusance
Unto my crookid, feeble lymes olde,
That been so stif, unnethe I may hem folde."
Whan I was set adoun as he me preide,
"Telle on," seide he, "how is it with thee, how?"
And I began my tale and thus I seide:
"My lige lord, the kyng which that is now,
I fynde to me gracious ynow;
God yilde him, he hath for my long servyse
Guerdouned me in covenable wyse.
"In th'eschequeer, he of his special grace
Hath to me grauntid an annuitee
Of twenti mark whyle I have lyves space.
Mighte I ay payd been of that duetee,
It sholde stonde wel ynow with me;
But paiement is hard to gete adayes,
And that me putte in many foule affrayes.
"It gooth ful streite and sharpe or I it have.
If I seur were of it be satisfied
Fro yeer to yeer, thanne, so God me save,
My deepe-rootid greef were remedied
Souffissantly. But how I shal be gyed
Heeraftir, whan that I no lenger serve -
This hevyeth me so that I wel ny sterve.
"For syn that I now in myn age greene,
And beynge in court, with greet peyne unnethe
Am paid, in elde and out of court, I weene,
My purs for that may be a ferthyng shethe;
Lo, fadir myn, this dullith me to dethe.
Now God helpe al, for but he me socoure,
My future yeeres lyk been to be soure."
"Service, I woot wel, is noon heritage;
Whan I am out of court anothir day,
As I moot whan upon me hastith age
And that no lenger I laboure may,
Unto my poore cote, it is no nay,
I moot me drawe and my fortune abyde,
And suffre storm aftir the mery tyde.
"Ther preeve I shal the mutabilitee
Of this wrecchid worldes affeccion,
Which, whan that youthe is past, begynneth flee.
Frendshipe, adieu! Farwel, dileccion!
Age is put out of your proteccion;
His look unlusty and his inpotence
Qwenchith your love and your benevolence.
"That aftirclap in my mynde so deepe
Yficchid is, and hath swich roote ycaght,
That al my joie and mirthe is leid to sleepe;
My ship is wel ny with despeir yfraght.
They that nat konne lerned be ne taght
By swiche ensamples smerte as they han seen,
Me thynkith certes over blynde been.
"Allas! I see routhe and pitee exylid
Out of this land. Allas, conpassioun!
Whan shul yee thre to us be reconsylid?
Your absence is my grevous passioun;
Resorte, I preye yow, to this regioun;
O, come ageyn! The lak of your presence
Manaceth me to sterve in indigence.
"O fikil world, allas thy variance!
How many a gentil man may men now see
That whilom in the werres olde of France
Honured were and holde in greet cheertee
For hir prowesse in armes, and plentee
Of freendes hadde in youthe, and now, for shame,
Allas, hir frendshipe is crookid and lame!
"Now age unourne away puttith favour
That floury youthe in his seson conquerde;
Now al forgote is the manly labour
Thurgh which ful ofte they hir foos aferde.
Now been tho worthy men bet with the yerde
Of neede, allas, and noon hath of hem routhe;
Pitee I trowe is biried, by my trouthe.
"If shee be deed, God have hir soule, I preye,
And so shal mo heeraftir preye, I trowe.
He that pretendith him of moost nobleye,
If he hir lakke, shal wel wite and knowe
That crueltee hir fo may but a throwe
Him suffre for to lyve in any welthe;
Herte pitous to body and soule is helthe.
"Yee olde men of armes, that han knowe
By sight and by report hir worthynesse,
Lat nat mescheef tho men thus overthrowe;
Kythe upon hem your manly gentillesse.
Yee yonge men that entre into prowesse
Of armes eek, youre fadres olde honurith;
Helpe hem yourself, or sum good hem procurith.
"Knyghthode, awake! Thow sleepist to longe;
Thy brothir, see, ny dieth for mescheef;
Awake and reewe upon his peynes stronge.
If thow heeraftir come unto swich preef,
Thow wilt ful sore thriste aftir releef;
Thow art nat seur what that thee shal befalle.
Welthe is ful slipir; be waar lest thow falle.
"Thow that yclomben art in hy honoures,
And hast this worldes welthe at thy devys,
And bathist now in youthes lusty floures;
Be waar, rede I, thow standist on the ys.
It hath been seen, as weleful and as wys
As thow han slide; and thow that no pitee
On othir folk hast, who shal reewe on thee?
"Leeve me wel, ther is noon eerthely man
That hath so stable a welthe but that it
May faille, do he what that he do can.
God as him list visitith folk and smit;
Wherfore I deeme and holde it grace and wit
In hy estat, man God and himself knowe,
And releeve hem that mescheef hath doun throwe.
"God wole that the needy be releeved;
It is oon of the werkis of mercy.
And syn tho men that been in armes preeved
Been into povert falle, treewely
Yee men of armes oghten specially
Helpe hem. Allas! han yee no pitous blood
That may yow stire for to doon hem good?
"O now in ernest, deere fadir myn,
Thise worthy men to me the mirour shewe
Of slipir frendshipe, and unto what fyn
I drawe shal withyn a yeeres fewe.
Upon this woful thoght I hakke and hewe
And muse so that unto lyte I madde,
And lever die than lyven I hadde.
"In feith, fadir, my lyflode, besyde
Th'annuite of which above I tolde,
May nat exceede yeerly in no tyde
Six marc. That sit to myn herte so colde,
Whan that I looke abouten and beholde
How scars it is, if that that othir faille,
That I nat glade can but mourne and waille.
"And as ferfoorth as I can deeme or gesse,
Whan I at hoom dwelle in my poore cote,
I fynde shal as freendly slipirnesse
As tho men now doon, whos frendshipe is rote.
Nat wolde I rekke as mochil as a mote,
Thogh I no more hadde of yeerly encrees,
So that I mighte ay payed be doutlees.
"Two parties of my lyf and mochil more
I seur am past been - I ne doute it noght;
And if that I sholde in my yeeres hore
Forgo my duetee that I have boght
With my flessh and my blood, that hevy thoght,
Which I drede ay shal falle as I it thynke,
Me hastith blyve unto my pittes brynke.
Faylynge, fadir, myn annuitee,
Foot-hoot in me creepith disese and wo,
For they that han byfore knowen me,
Faylynge good, me faille wole also.
Who no good hath is fer his freendes fro.
In muk is al this worldes freendlyhede;
My goost is wrappid in an hevy drede.
"If that I hadde of custume or this tyme
Lyved in indigences wrecchidnesse,
The lesse heeraftir sholde it sit by me;
But in myn age wrastle with hardnesse,
That with him stroglid nevere in the grennesse
Of youthe - that mutacion and chaunge
Anothir day me seeme sholde al straunge.
"He that nevere kneew the swetnesse of wele,
Thogh he it lakke ay, lesse him greeve it shal
Than him that hath been welthy yeeres fele,
And in effect hath felt no greef at al.
O povert, God me sheelde fro thy fal!
O deeth! Thy strook yit is more agreable
To me than lyve a lyf so miserable.
"Six marc yeerly and no more than that,
Fadir, to me me thynkith is ful lyte,
Considerynge how that I am nat
In housbondrye lerned worth a myte;
Scarsely kowde I charre away the kyte
That me byreve wolde my pullaille,
And more axith housbondly governaille.
"With plow can I nat medlen ne with harwe,
Ne woot nat what lond good is for what corn,
And for to lade a cart or fille a barwe,
To which I nevere usid was toforn;
My bak unbuxum hath swich thyng forsworn,
At instaunce of wrytynge, his werreyour,
That stowpynge hath him spilt with his labour.
"Many men, fadir, weenen that wrytynge
No travaille is; they holde it but a game;
Aart hath no fo but swich folk unkonnynge.
But whoso list desporte him in that same,
Let him continue and he shal fynde it grame;
It is wel gretter labour than it seemeth;
The blynde man of colours al wrong deemeth.
"A wryter moot thre thynges to him knytte,
And in tho may be no disseverance:
Mynde, ye, and hand - noon may from othir flitte,
But in hem moot be joynt continuance;
The mynde al hool, withouten variance,
On ye and hand awayte moot alway,
And they two eek on him, it is no nay.
"Whoso shal wryte, may nat holde a tale
With him and him, ne synge this ne that;
But al his wittes hoole, grete and smale,
Ther muste appeere and holden hem therat;
And syn he speke may ne synge nat,
But bothe two he needes moot forbere,
His labour to him is the elengere.
"Thise artificers see I day by day,
In the hootteste of al hir bysynesse,
Talken and synge and make game and play,
And foorth hir labour passith with gladnesse;
But we laboure in travaillous stilnesse;
We stowpe and stare upon the sheepes skyn,
And keepe moot our song and wordes yn.
"Wrytyng also dooth grete annoyes thre,
Of which ful fewe folkes taken heede
Sauf we ourself, and thise, lo, they be:
Stommak is oon, whom stowpynge out of dreede
Annoyeth sore; and to our bakkes neede
Moot it be grevous; and the thridde oure yen
Upon the whyte mochil sorwe dryen.
"What man that three and twenti yeer and more
In wrytynge hath continued, as have I,
I dar wel seyn, it smertith him ful sore
In every veyne and place of his body;
And yen moost it greeveth, treewely,
Of any craft that man can ymagyne.
Fadir, in feith, it spilt hath wel ny myne.
"Lo, fadir, told have I yow the substance
Of al my greef, so as that I can telle.
But wel I woot it hath been greet penance
To yow with me so longe for to dwelle;
I am right sikir it hath been an helle
Yow for to herkne me thus jangle and clappe,
So lewdly in my termes I me wrappe.
"But, nathelees, truste I your pacience
Receyve wole in gree my wordes alle,
And what misseid I have of negligence,
Yee wole it lete asyde slippe and falle.
My fadir deere, unto your grace I calle;
Yee woot my greef; now redith me the beste,
Withouten whom my goost can have no reste."
"Now, sone myn, hastow al seid and spoke
That thee good lykith?" "Yee, fadir, as now."
"Sone, if aght in thyn herte elles be loke,
Unloke it blyve. Come of, what seistow?"
"Fadir, I can no more telle yow
Than I before spoken have and said."
"A Goddes half, sone, I am wel apaid.
"Conceyved have I that thow greet fere haast
Of povert for to fallen in the snare;
Thow haast therynne caght so deep a taast
That of al joie thow art voide and bare.
Thow ny despeired art of al welfare,
And the strook of povert art thow fer fro;
For shame, why makist thow al this wo?
"I putte cas, as God therfro thee keepe,
Thow were yfalle in indigent povert.
Sholdest thow grucche and thyn annoy byweepe?
Nay, be thow ryche or poore, or seek or qwert,
God thanke alway of thyn ese and thy smert;
Pryde thee nat for no prosperitee,
Ne hevye thee for noon adversitee.
"Povert hath in himself ynow grevance
Withouten that that man him more purchace;
Whoso it takth in pacient souffrance,
It is ful plesant beforn Crystes face;
And whoso grucchith, forfetith that grace
That he sholde han if that his pacience
Withstood the greef and made it resistence.
"My sone, as witnessith Holy Scripture,
Discreet and honest povert many fold
Commendid is. Cryst Himself, I thee ensure,
To love and teche and prechen it hath wold;
He dide al this. Be thow nevere so bold
Ageyn povert heeraftir grucche, I rede;
For ferthermore, in Holy Writ I rede:
"Beholde the lyf of our Sauveour,
Right fro the tyme of His nativitee
Unto His deeth, as that seith myn auctour,
And tokne in it shalt thow noon fynde or se
But of povert with which content was He.
Is man bettre than God? Shal man eschue
Swich lyf, syn God that same wolde ay sue?
"Fy! It is to greet an abusioun
To seen a man that is but wormes mete
Desire ryche and greet possessioun,
Wheras our lord God wolde Him entremete
Of no richesse - He deyned it nat gete;
He lyved poorely and povert chees,
That mighte han been ful ryche, it is no lees.
"The poore man sleepith ful sikirly
On nyghtes, thogh his dore be nat shit,
Whereas the riche abedde bysyly
Castith and ymagyneth in his wit
That necessarie unto him is it
Barres and lokkes stronge for to have,
His good from theeves for to keepe and save.
"And whan the deed sleep fallith atte laste
On him, he dremeth theeves comen yn
And on his cofres knokke and leye on faste;
And some hem pyke with a sotil gyn,
And up is broken lok, hasp, barre, and pyn,
And in the hand gooth, and the bagge out takith,
For sorwe of which, out of his sleep he wakith;
"And up he rysith, foot and hand tremblynge,
As that assaillid him the palesie,
And at a stirt, withouten taryynge,
Unto his cofre he dressith him in hye;
Or he ther come, he is in poynt to dye;
He it undooth and opneth for to se
If that his false goddes therin be.
"He dredith fynde it as that he hath drempt.
This worldes power and ryche habundance
Of drede of peril nevere been exempt,
But in povert is ay sikir constance;
Who holdith him content hath souffissance.
And, sone, by my reed thow shalt do so,
And by desir of good nat sette a slo.
"Wilful povert in princes ancien
So ferfoorth was that they desired more
Good loos than good, but now adayes men
Yerne and desyren aftir muk so sore
That they good fame han leid a watir yore,
And rekken nevere how longe it ther stepe
Or thogh it drenche, so they good may grepe.
"Of Sysile whilom ther was a kyng
With eerthen vessel served at his table,
And men wondrynge faste upon this thyng
Seide unto him, it was nat honurable
To his estat, ne nothyng commendable,
Axynge him why him list be served so;
To which demande he answerde tho:
"He seide, 'Thogh I kyng be of Sysile,
A potter was my fadir, it is no nay.
How longe I shal enduren or what while
In my prosperitee, nat knowe I may.
Fortunes variaunce I drede alway;
Right as shee made me to clymbe on highte,
Sodeynly so shee may me make alighte.
"'I thynke alway of my nativitee,
And of my poore lenage and my blood;
Eerthen vessel to swich a man as me
Ful sittyng is and acceptable and good.'
O fewe been ther now left of the brood
That he cam of - he loved bet profyt
Commun than his avantage or delyt.
"How seistow by Affrican Scipion -
Affrican clept for that he Affrik wan?
To povert hadde he swich affecion
Of his owne free wil and lust, that whan
He dyde, no good had this worthy man
Wherwith his body upon eerthe brynge,
But the commun cost made his enterynge.
"Beforn the senat was he bore on honde,
Ones aftir he Affrik wonnen hadde,
That he was ryche, as they cowde undirstonde,
Of gold, to which with wordes sobre and sadde
Answerde he thus: 'Thogh I be feeble and badde,
The soothe is, unto your subjeccioun
I gat Affrik, of that have I renoun.
"'My name was al that I there gat;
To wynne honour was oonly the purpoos
Which that I took or that I cam therat.
Othir good had I noon than ryche loos;
For al the good ther was open or cloos,
Myn herte mighte nat so wel contente
As the renoun oonly that I ther hente.
"Of covetyse he was nothyng coupable;
He sette nat therby, thow maist wel se.
Fy on the greedynesse insaciable
Of many a man that can nat content be
Of muk, althogh nevere so moche have he!
The kynde is evere of wrecchid covetyse
To coveite ay and have and nat souffyse.
"I wolde every knyght dide now the same,
And were of good no more coveitous
Than he was. What! To gete a noble fame
To knyghthode is tresor moost precious;
But I was nevere so aventurous
Renoun to wynne by swerdes conquest,
For I was bred in a peisible nest.
"Upon my bak cam nevere haburgeon,
Ne my knyf drow I nevere in violence.
I may nat countrefete Scipion
In armes, ne his worthy excellence
Of wilful povert, but of indigence
I am as ryche as was evere any man;
Suffre it in pacience if that I can.
"No rycher man am I than thow maist see.
Of myne have I nothyng to take to;
I lyve of almesse. If it stood with thee
So streite and lyvedest as that I do,
I see thow woldest sorwe swiche two
As I; but thow hast for to lyven oon
A poore lyf, and swich ne have I noon.
"Salomon gaf conseil men sholden preye
Two thynges unto God in soothfastnesse.
Now herkne, sone, he bad men thus to seye:
'Enhance thow me, Lord, to no richesse,
Ne by miserie me so sore oppresse
That neede for to begge me conpelle' -
In his proverbes thus, lo, can he telle.
"But this povert mene conseillid he
Men to desire that was necessarie
To foode and clothe, dredynge lest plentee
Of good hem mighte make to miscarie
And fro the knowlechynge of God to varie,
And lest smert neede made hem God reneye.
Now be waar, sone, lest that thow foleye.
"Sone, in this mene povert holde I thee,
Sauf that thow canst nat taken it ful weel.
What thogh thow leese thyn annuitee?
Yit maistow lyven on that othir deel,
Thogh nat ful delicat shal be thy meel.
Of six marc yeerly, mete and drynke and clooth
Thow gete maist, my chyld, withouten ooth."
"Yee, fadir myn, I am nat so parfyt
To take it so; I have had habundance
Of welfare ay, and now stonde in the plyt
Of scarsetee. It were a greet penance
For me - God sheelde me fro that streit chance.
Six marc yeerly to scars is to susteene
The charges that I have, as that I weene.
"Tow on my distaf have I for to spynne
More, my fadir, than yee woot of yit,
Which yee shul knowe or that I fro yow twynne,
If your good lust be for to heeren it.
But for as moche as it nat to me sit
Your tale for to interrupte or breke,
Heeraftir to yow wole I therof speke.
"Yit o word, fadir. I have herd men seyn,
Whoso no good hath, that he can no good;
And that fynde I a plat soothe and a pleyn.
For althogh that myn heed undir myn hood
Was nevere wys, yit whyl it with me stood
So that I hadde silver resonable,
My lytil wit was sumwhat covenable.
"But now, for that I have a large lyte,
And likly am heeraftir to han lesse,
My dul wit can to me nothyng profyte;
I am so drad of moneyes scantnesse
That myn herte is al nakid of lightnesse.
Wisseth me how to gete a golden salve
And what I have I wole it with yow halve."
"Sone, as for me, neithir avaunte ne rere
But if disese algates shal betyde,
For to be pacient rede I thow lere;
For anythyng, withholde hir on thy syde.
My reed wole it nat, sone, fro thee hyde.
Make of necessitee, rede I, vertu,
For bettre reed can I noon, by Jhesu.
"My sone, they that swymmen in richesse
Continuelly, and han prosperitee,
And nevere han felt but weleful swetnesse,
Unscourgid ay of any adversitee,
Lest God forgete hem, oghten ferdful be,
Syn God in Holy Writ seith in this wyse:
'Whomso I love, him wole I chastyse.'
"Seint Ambroses legende seith how he
Ones to Romeward took his viage;
And in Tuscie toward that contree
With a ryche oost he took his herbergage.
Of whom, as blyve faire in his langage,
Of his estat enqueren he bygan,
And unto that answerde anoon this man:
"'Right at my lust have I al worldly welthe;
Myn estat hath been ay good, and yit is;
Richesse have I, frendshipe, and bodyes helthe;
Was nevere thyng me happid yit amis.'
And Seint Ambrose, astoned sore of this,
Anoon right rowned to his conpaignie,
'Sires, it is tyme that we hens hie.
"'I am adrad God is nat in this place;
Ga we faste hennes, lest that His vengeance
Falle on us.' And withynne a litil space,
Aftir they were agoon, shoop this meschance:
The ground claf and made disseverance,
And in sank man, womman, chyld, hous, and al
That to him appartened, grete and smal.
"Whan this cam to Ambroses audience,
He seide to his felawshipe thus:
'Lo, brethren, seeth heere in experience
How merciablely our lord Jhesus,
Of His benigne grace, hath sparid us.
He sparith hem that unwelthy heere been,
And to the welthy dooth as that yee seen.'
"This lyf, my sone, is but a chirie feire;
Worldly richesse, have ay in thy memorie,
Shal passe, al looke it nevere on men so feire.
Whyl thow art heere in this world transitorie,
Enable thee to wynne eternel glorie,
Wher no povert is but parfyt richesse
Of joie and blisse and vertuous gladnesse.
"O thyng telle I thee, sone, that is sooth:
Thogh o man hadde as moche as men han alle,
But vertu that good gye, al he misdooth;
Al that swetnesse torne shal to galle.
Whan that richesse is on a man yfalle,
If it be wrong despendid or miskept,
Anothir day ful sore it shal be wept.
"Sum ryche is large and his good misdespendith
In maintenance of synne and harlotrie -
To swiche despenses his lust him accendith;
And on that othir part, his nygardrie
Suffrith his neighburgh by him sterve and die,
Rather than with a ferthyng him releeve.
Tho two condicions been to repreeve.
"Whoso moost hath, he moost of shal answere;
O day shal come, sum men shal par chance
Desire he nevere hadde been rychere
Than heer han hadde his bare sustenance.
Whan the day comth of ire and of vengeance,
Than shal men seeme how in this world, I gesse,
Richesse is povert and povert richesse.
"Whyler, my sone, tolde I nat to thee
What habundance in yowthe I hadde of good?
And how me blente so prosperitee
That what God was I nothyng undirstood?
But ay whil that I in my welthe stood,
Aftir my flesshly lust my lyf I ledde,
And of His wreche nothyng I me dredde.
"And as I seide, He smoot me with the strook
Of povert, in which I continue yit,
Whos smert my good blood first so sore sook,
Or that I was aqweyntid wel with it,
That ny it hadde reft fro me my wit.
But sythen, thanke I God, in pacience
I have it take and shal for myn offense.
"If thee list flee that may povert engendre,
First synne eschue and God honure and drede.
Also, for thy lyflode is scars and sclendre,
Despende nat to largely, I rede.
Mesure is good, let hir thee gye and lede;
Be waar of outrage, and be sobre and wys;
Thus thow exclude him shalt, by myn avys.
"Nathelees, thow maist ageyn me replie:
'To sum folk, thogh they doon al as I seye,
Ageyn povert it is no remedie;
They mowe it nat eschue by no weye.'
I graunte wel, but than take heede, I preye.
The jugementz of God been to us hid;
Take alle in gree, so is thy vertu kid.
"To the plesaunce of God thow thee conforme;
Aboute that be bisy and ententyf.
That thow misdoon hast, thow blyve it reforme;
Swich laborer thee kythe heere in this lyf
That God thy soule, which that is His wyf,
Rejoise may for it is to Him due,
And His shal be but thow the devors sue.
"O thow Fortune, fals and deceyvable,
Ful sooth is it, if thow do a good deede,
Thow nat purposist it shal be durable;
Of good entente shal it nat proceede.
Wel oghte us thy promesses blynde dreede.
He slipirly stant whom that thow enhauncest,
For sodeynliche thow him disavauncest.
"Hadde I doon, sone, as I thee consaille
Whan that Fortunes deceyvable cheere
Lawhid on me, than hadde I nat, sanz faille,
Been in this wrecchid plyt as thow seest heere.
Nat kneew my youthe hir changeable maneere,
For whan I sat on hy upon hir wheel,
Hir gladsum look me made truste hir weel.
"I cowde for nothyng han wend or deemed
That shee aboute baar double visage;
I wende shee had been swich as shee seemed.
But nathelees yit is it avantage
To him that woful is, that hir usage
Is for to flitte fro place to place;
Hir variaunce is unto sum folk grace.
"Whomso that neede greeveth and travaillith,
Hir chaunge is unto him no greef or wo;
But the contrarie of that nothyng availlith,
As whan a man is wel put him therfro.
What shal man calle hir? Freend or elles fo?
I not, but calle hir freend whan that shee esith,
And calle hir fo whan that shee man displesith.
"But whoso calle hir shal a sikir name,
Men moot hir clepe my lady changeable,
For hardily shee is that selve same.
A, nay, I gabbe! I am unresonable.
Shee is my lady stidefast and stable,
For I endure in povertes distresse
And shee nat list remue my duresse.
"I ymagyne why that nat hir list
With me now dele; age is cold and drie,
And whan tho two been to a lady wist,
And that I poore am eek for the maistrie,
Swich a man is unlusty to hir ye,
And wers to grope - straw for inpotence!
Shee loveth yong folk and large of despense.
"Al this that I have of Fortune seid
Is but a jape, as who seith, or a knak.
Now I a whyle bourded have and pleid,
Resorte I wole to that I first spak.
Beholde and caste thow thyn ye abak;
What thow God hast agilt in tyme past,
Correcte it and to do so eft be gast.
"Of Holy Chirche, my sone, I conceyve
As yit ne hast thow noon avancement.
Yee courteours, ful often yee deceyve
Youre soules for the desirous talent
Yee han to good; and for that thow art brent
With covetyse now, par aventure,
Oonly for muk thow yernest soules cure.
"Ful many men knowe I that gane and gape
Aftir sum fat and ryche benefice;
Chirche or provendre unnethe hem may eschape
But they as blyve it henten up and tryce.
God graunte they accepte hem for the office
And nat for the profyt that by hem hongith,
For that conceit nat to presthode longith.
"A dayes now, my sone, as men may see,
O chirche unto o man may nat souffyse;
But algate he moot han pluralitee,
Elles he can nat lyven in no wyse.
Ententyfly he keepith his service
In court; his labour there shal nat moule;
But to his cure looketh he ful foule.
"Thogh that his chauncel roof be al totorn
And on the hy auter it reyne or sneewe,
He rekkith nat, the cost may be forborn
Crystes hous to repeire or make neewe;
And thogh ther be ful many a vicious heewe
Undir his cure, he takth of it no keep;
He rekkith nevere how rusty been his sheep.
"The oynement of holy sermonynge
Him looth is upon hem for to despende.
Sum person is so thredbare of konnynge
That he can naght, thogh he him wys pretende;
And he that can may nat his herte bende
Therto, but from his cure he him absentith,
And what therof comth, greedyliche he hentith.
"How he despendith it, be as be may,
For unto that am I nothyng pryvee;
But wel I woot, as nyce, fressh, and gay
Some of hem been as borel folkes be,
And that unsittynge is to hir degree;
Hem owith to be mirours of sadnesse,
And weyve jolitee and wantonnesse.
"But nathelees, I woot wel therageyn,
That many of hem gye hem as hem oghte,
And elles were it greet pitee, certeyn.
But what man wilt thow be, for Him thee boghte?"
"Fadir, I may nat cheese. I whilom thoghte
Han been a preest; now past am I the raas."
"Than art thow, sone, a weddid man, par caas?"
"Yee soothly, fadir myn, right so I am;
I gazid longe first and waytid faste
Aftir sum benefice, and whan noon cam,
By procees I me weddid atte laste.
And God it woot, it sore me agaste
To bynde me, where I was at my large;
But doon it was, I took on me that charge."
"A sone, I have espyed and now see
This is the tow that thow speek of right now!"
"Now by the Rood, fadir, sooth seyn yee."
"Yee, sone myn, thow shalt do wel ynow.
Whan endid is my tale, than shalt thow
Be put in swich a way as shal thee plese,
And to thyn herte do confort and ese.
"So longe as thow, sone, in the Privee Seel
Dwelt hast and woldest fayn han been avanced
Unto sum chirche or this, I deeme weel
That God nat wolde have thee enhanced
In no swich plyt; I holde thee wel chanced;
God woot and knowith every hid entente;
He for thy beste a wyf unto thee sente.
"If that thow haddest par cas been a preest,
Thow woldest han as wantounly thee gyed
As dooth the nyceste of hem that thow seest;
And God forbeede thow thee haddest tyed
Therto but if thyn herte might han plyed
For to observe it wel. Be glad and merie;
That thow art as thow art, God thanke and herie.
"The ordres of preesthode and of wedlok
Been bothe vertuous, withouten fable;
But undirstonde wel, the holy yok
Of preesthode is, as it is resonable
That it so be, the more commendable;
The lesse of hem of meede hath habundance;
Men han meryt aftir hir governance.
"But how been thy felawes lookid to
At hoom? Been they nat wel ybeneficed?"
"Yis, fadir, yis. Ther is oon clept Nemo:
He helpith hem, by him been they chericed;
Nere he, they weren poorely chevyced;
He hem avanceth, he fully hir freend is;
Sauf oonly him, they han but fewe freendes.
"So many a man as they this many a yeer
Han writen fore, fynde can they noon
So gentil or of hir estat so cheer
That ones list for hem to ryde or goon,
Ne for hem speke a word, but doumb as stoon
They standen where hir speeche hem mighte availle,
For swich folk is unlusty to travaille.
"But if a wight have a cause to sue
To us, sum lordes man shal undirtake
To sue it out, and that that is us due
For our labour, him deyneth us nat take;
He seith his lord to thanke us wole he make;
It touchith him, it is a man of his,
Wher the revers of that, God woot, sooth is.
"His lettre he takith and foorth gooth his way,
And biddith us to douten us nothyng;
His lord shal thanken us anothir day;
And if we han to sue to the kyng,
His lord may there have al his axyng.
We shul be sped as fer as that our bille
Wole specifie th'effect of oure wille.
"What shul we do? We dar noon argument
Make ageyn him, but faire and wel him trete,
Lest he reporte amis and make us shent;
To have his wil we suffren him and lete.
Hard is be holden suspect with the grete;
His tale shal be leeved but nat ouris,
And that conclusioun to us ful soure is.
"And whan the mateere is to ende ybroght
Of the straunger for whom the suyte hath be,
Than is he to the lord knowen right noght;
He is to him as unknowen as we;
The lord nat woot of al this sotiltee,
Ne we nat dar lete him of it to knowe,
Lest our conpleynte ourselven overthrowe.
"And wher this bribour hath no peny payed
In our office, he seith behynde our bak,
'He payde I not what.' Thus been we betrayed
And desclaundred, and put in wyt and lak
Ful giltelees; and eek by swich a knak
The man for whom the suyte is, is deceyved;
He weeneth we han of his gold receyved.
"Ful many swiche pursuours ther been
That for us take, and geve us nat a myte;
This makith us that we may nevere theen.
Eek whereas lordes bidde hir men us qwyte
Whan that we for hemself laboure and wryte,
And been allowed for our paiement,
Oure handes therof been ful innocent.
"Nat seye I alle lordes men thus do
That sue unto our court, but many I seye
Han thus doon ofte. Lo, my fadir, lo!
Thus bothe our thanke and lucre goon aweye.
God geve hem sorwe that so with us pleye,
For we it fynden ernest at the fulle;
This makith us of our labour to dulle.
"Now, fadir myn, how thynkith yow heerby?
Suppose yee nat that this sit us sore?"
"Yis, certes, sone; that ful wel woot I.
Hastow seid, sone? Wilt thow aght seye more?"
"Nay, sire, as now, but ay upon your lore
I herkne as bisyly as I best can."
"Sone, than lat us speke as we bygan.
"Seye on the soothe, I preye thee hertily,
What was thy cause why thow took a wyf?
Was it to gete children lawfully,
And in clennesse to lede thy lyf,
Or for lust or muk - what was thy motyf?"
"Fadir, nothyng wole I it qweynte make;
Oonly for love I chees hir to my make."
"Sone, what holdist thow love, I thee preye?
Thow deemest lust and love convertible,
Par cas, as whan thee list with thy wyf pleye,
Thy conceit holdith it good and lisible
To doon? Artow aght, sone myn, sensible
In which cas that thow oghtest thee forbere
And in which nat - canst thow to this answere?"
"Fadir, me thynkith al is good ynow.
Shee is my wyf - who may therof me lette?"
"Nay, sone, abyde and I shal tellen how,
If that thow aght by Goddes drede sette.
Three causes been whiche I thee wole unshette
And opne anoon why thow shalt with hir dele.
Now herkne, sone, for thy soules hele.
"The firste cause, procreacioun
Of children, is unto Goddes honour;
To keepe eek thee fro fornicacioun
The next is; and the thridde of that labour,
Yilde thy dette in which thow art dettour
Unto thy wyf, and othre ententes alle
Leye hem apart for aght that may befalle.
"For thise causes thow here use must
And for noon othir, on peyne of deedly synne."
"Fadir, right now me thoghte how ageyn lust
Yee heeld and children begoten therynne,
Where is no lust." "O sone, or that we twynne,
Thow shalt wel undirstonde how that I
Nat holde ageynes lust al uttirly.
"I woot wel, leefful lust is necessarie;
Withouten that may be noon engendrure;
But use lust for lust oonly, contrarie
To Goddes heestes is; for I th'ensure,
Thogh thow take of it litil heede or cure,
A man may with his wyf do leccherie;
Th'entente is al; be waar ay of folie.
"Weddid folk many leden holy lyf,
For thogh hir flesshly lustes hem assaille
And stire hem often, the man to the wyf
And shee to him, they maken swich bataille
And stryf ageyn hir flessh that he shal faille
Of his purpos. But some folk as beestes
Hir lust ay folwen - in hem noon areest is.
"Adayes now there is swich governance
Among hem that han paramours and wyves
That, for lust of hir wommen and plesance,
Nat souffyse hem metes restauratives,
But they receyven eek provocatives
To engendre hem lust, feyntynge hir nature,
And swich thyng causith hastyf sepulture.
"This knowe I sooth is, and kneew fern agoon;
And they that so doon hyly God offende.
Swich folk holde I homicydes echoon;
They sleen hemself or God deeth to hem sende.
My sone, on Goddes half, I thee deffende
Swiche medecynes that thow nat receyve,
Syn they God wratthe and soule of man deceyve.
"Passe over this. Thow seidest th'enchesoun
Why that thow took upon thee mariage
Was unto noon othir entencioun
But love oonly thee sente that corage.
Now, sone myn, I am a man of age,
And many weddid couples have I knowe -
Noon of myn age, many mo, I trowe -
"But I ne saw ne I ne espyde nevere,
As longe as that I have lyved yit,
The love of hem departen or dissevere
That for good love bownden were and knyt;
God loveth love and He wole forthere it.
At long rennynge love best shal preeve;
Thus hath it been and ay shal, I byleeve.
"But they that marien hem for muk and good
Oonly, and nat for love of the persone,
Nat have I wist they any whyle stood
In reste, but of stryf is ther swich wone,
As for the more part, twixt hem echone,
That al hir lyf they lede in hevynesse;
Swich is the fruyt to wedde for richesse.
"Among the ryche also is an usage:
Eche of hem his chyld unto othres wedde,
Thogh they be al to yong and tendre of age,
Nowher ny rype ynow to go to bedde;
And hir conceit in love is leid to wedde -
Men wite it wel, it is no questioun -
Til yeeres come of hir discrecioun.
"And whan they han the knowleche of resoun,
Than may they neithir fynden in hir herte
To loven othir; al out of sesoun
They knyt been that into wedlok so sterte;
This makith many a couple for to smerte.
O covetyse, thyn is al the gilt
Of this, and mo deceyve yit thow wilt!
"Also they that for lust cheesen hir make
Oonly, as othirwhyle it is usage,
Wayte wel whan hir lust is overshake,
And therwith wole hir loves hete asswage.
Thanne is to hem an helle hir mariage;
Than they desyren for to been unknyt,
And to that ende studie in al hir wit.
"Styntynge cause, th'effect styntith eek;
No lenger forster, no lenger lemman;
Love on lust growndid is nat worth a leek.
But who for vertu weddith a womman,
And neithir for muk ne for lust, that man
The forme due of matrymoyne sueth,
And soules hurt and bodyes grief eschueth.
"I dar nat medle of lordes mariages -
How they hem knytten, hir makes unseen.
But as to me, it seemeth swiche usage is
Nat worth a straw, for also moot I theen,
Reportes nat so sikir juges been
As man to see the wommannes persone.
In swich a choys let man himself allone.
"Weddyng at hoom in this land holsum were,
So that a man him wedde duely.
To see the flessh first it may nothyng dere,
And him avyse how him lykith therby
Or he be knyt - lo! this conceit have I.
In this mateere depper cowde I go,
But passe I wole and slippe away therfro.
"Now sythen thow hast, to my jugement,
Thee maried unto Goddes plesance,
Be a treewe housbonde as by myn assent;
Keepe thy bond, be waar of th'encombrance
Of the feend which, with many a circumstance
Ful sly, him castith thee wrappe in and wrie
To stire thee for to doon advoutrie.
"Advoutrie and perjurie and wilful slaghtre,
The book seith, lyk been and o peys they weye. 5
Waar advoutrie, it is no play or laghtre
To doon it. Flee also thise othir tweye,
For thus woot I wel Seint Jerom can seye:
'In peyne advoutrie hath the second place.'
Tho thre to eschue, God thee graunte grace.
"I in the Bible rede how that Abram
To Egypt wente with his wyf Saray,
And whan that they ny unto Egypt cam,
Thus seide he unto his wyf by the way:
'I woot wel thow art fair, it is no nay;
Whan they of Egypt see thee, they wole seye,
"Thow art his wyf," and for thee do me deye.
"'They wolen kille me and thee reserve;
Forthy unto hem seye, I thee byseeche,
Thow art my suster, lest I for thee sterve;
Thus may I wel been esid by thy speeche;
And thus thow mayst lengthe my lyf and eeche.'
And whan they into Egypt entred were,
Th'Egipcians faste byheelden here,
"And of hir beautee maden they report
To Pharao, and shee as blyve is take
Into his hous, and doon is greet confort
Unto Abram for this wommannes sake,
And greet desport and cheere men hem make.
But for Saray grevously Pharao
Punysshid was and eek his hous therto.
"Pharao clepte Abram and him abreide:
'What is it that thow hast doon unto me?
Why naddist thow told unto me,' he seide,
'How that this womman wyf was unto thee?
For what encheson seidist thow,' quod he,
'Shee was thy suster? Take thy wyf heere'
Quod he, 'and bothe go your way in feere.'
"The Bible makith no manere of mynde
Whethir that Pharao lay by hir aght,
But looke in Lyre and there shalt thow fynde
For to han doon it was he in ful thoght;
But God preserved hir; he mighte noght.
And syn for wil God him punysshid so,
How shal the dede unpunysshid go?
"Also nat kneew he that a wyf shee was.
Now thanne, they that wyves wityngly
Taken and holde and with hem doon trespas
Stonde in hard plyt. Sone, be waar, rede I,
If thow therynne agilte, eternelly
Thow smerte shalt, and in this lyf present
Han sharp adversitee and greet torment.
"And to Abymalech God bad he sholde
Yilde Sara also to hir housbonde,
For he and his echone, if he ne wolde,
Sholden be deed, he dide him undirstonde.
Take heede, o sone, that thow cleere ay stonde,
For God stoppid eek the concepcioun
Of every womman of his mansioun.
"Ne that shee was a wyf wiste he nothyng
Ne nat here kneew in no flesshly folie.
My goode sone, rede of David kyng,
How he took Bersabee, wyf of Urie,
Into his hous and dide advoutrie;
And how he made Urie slayn to be,
And how therfore punysshid was he.
"How was the tribe also of Benjamyn
Punysshid and put to destruccion
For advoutrie which they lyved yn,
In the abhominable oppression
Of the Levytes wyf? Lo, mencion
Therof is maad, if thow looke Holy Writ:
In Judicum ful redily it sit.
"Whoso lyth with his neigheburghes wyf
Is cursid, and who is an advoutour
The kyngdam faille shal of endles lyf;
Of that ne shal he be no possessour.
Allas, this likerous, dampnable errour
In this lond hath so large a threde ysponne
That werse peple is noon undir the sonne.
"Of swiche stories cowde I telle an heep,
But I suppose thise shul souffyse,
And forthy, sone, wole I make a leep
From hem and go wole I to the empryse
That I first took. If thow thee wel avyse,
Whanne I thee mette and sy thyn hevynesse,
Of confort, sone, made I thee promesse.
"And of a treewe man, byheeste is dette."
"Fadir, God yilde it yow, and so yee diden;
Yee highten me in ese me to sette."
"Now, sone, and thogh I longe have abiden,
Thy greef is nat out of my mynde sliden;
To thy grevance wole I now resorte,
And shewe thee how thow thee shalt conforte.
"In short, this is of thy greef enchesoun:
Of thyn annuitee the paiement,
Which for thy long service is thy guerdoun,
Thow dreddist, whan thow art from court absent,
Shal be restreyned, syn thow now present
Unnethes maist it gete, it is so streit -
Thus undirstood I, sone, thy conceit.
"For of thy lyflode is it the substance -
Is it nat thus?" "Yis soothly, fadir, it."
"Now, sone, to remedie this grevance,
Canstow no weyes fynden in thy wit?"
"No certes, fadir, nevere kowde I yit."
"May no lordshipe, sone, thee availle
For al thy long service and thy travaille?"
"What, fadir, what? Lordes han for to doone
So moche for hemself that my mateere
Out of hir mynde slippith away soone.
The world is nat swich now, my fadir deere,
As yee han seen. Farwel, freendly maneere!
So God me amende, I am al destitut
Of my lyflode. God be my refut.
"I am unto so streit a poynt ydryve,
Of thre conclusions moot I cheese oon:
Or begge, or stele, or sterve; I am yshryve
So ny that othir way ne see I noon;
Myn herte is also deed as is a stoon;
Nay, there I faille; a stoon nothyng ne feelith,
But thoght me brenneth and freesyngly keelith.
"To begge, shame is myn impediment;
I woot wel rather sholde I dye and sterve;
And stelthes guerdoun is swich paiement
That nevere thynke I his wages disserve.
Wolde honest deeth come and me overterve
And of my grave me putte in seisyne,
To al my greef that were a medecyne."
"What, sone! How now? I see wel smal effect
Or elles noon my wordes in thee take;
Outhir ful symple is thyn intellect,
Or hokirly thow hast hem overshake,
Or thy goost slept hath. What, my sone, awake!
Whileer thow seidist thow were of me glad,
And now it seemeth thow art of me sad.
"I deeme so syn that my long sermoun
Profitith naght - it sore me repentith."
"Fadir, beeth nat of that oppinioun;
For as yee wole, I do; myn herte assentith.
But ay among, fadir, thoght me tormentith
So sharply, and so troublith and despeirith,
That it my wit foule hyndreth and apeirith."
"O, my good sone, wilt thow yit algate
Despeired be? Nay, sone, let be that!
Thow shalt as blyve entre into the gate
Of thy confort. Now telle on pleyn and plat:
My lord the Prince, knowith he thee nat?
If that thow stonde in his benevolence,
He may be salve unto thyn indigence,
"No man bet next his fadir, our lord lige."
"Yis, fadir, he is my good gracious lord."
"Wel, sone, thanne wole I me oblige,
And God of hevene vouche I to record,
That if thow wilt be ful of myn accord,
Thow shalt no cause have more thus to muse,
But hevynesse voide and it refuse.
"Syn he thy good lord is, I am ful seur
His grace to thee shal nat be denyed.
Thow woost wel he benigne is and demeur
To sue unto; nat is his goost maistried
With daunger, but his herte is ful applied
To graunte, and nat the needy werne his grace.
To him pursue and thy releef purchace.
"Conpleyne unto his excellent noblesse,
As I have herd thee unto me conpleyne,
And but he qwenche thy greet hevynesse,
My tonge take and slitte in peces tweyne!
What, sone myn, for Goddes deere peyne,
Endite in Frenssh or Latyn thy greef cleer,
And for to wryte it wel do thy poweer.
"Of alle thre thow oghtest be wel leerid,
Syn thow so longe in hem laboured haast -
Thow of the Pryvee Seel art old iyeerid."
"Yit, fadir, of hem ful smal is my taast."
"Now, sone, thanne foule hastow in waast
Despent thy tyme; and nathelees I trowe
Thow canst do bet than thow wilt do me knowe.
"What shal I calle thee, what is thy name?"
"Hoccleve, fadir myn, men clepen me."
"Hoccleve, sone?" "Ywis, fadir, that same."
"Sone, I have herd or this men speke of thee;
Thow were aqweyntid with Chaucer, pardee -
God have his soule, best of any wight!
Sone, I wole holde thee that I have hight.
"Althogh thow seye that thow in Latyn
Ne in Frensshe neithir canst but smal endyte,
In Englissh tonge canstow wel afyn."
"Fadir, therof can I eek but a lyte."
"Yee, straw! Let be! Thy penne take and wryte
As thow canst, and thy sorwe torne shal
Into gladnesse - I doute it nat at al.
"Syn thow maist nat be payed in th'eschequer,
Unto my lord the Prince make instance
That thy patente into the hanaper
May chaunged be." "Fadir, by your souffrance,
It may nat so by cause of th'ordenance:
Longe aftir this shal no graunt chargeable
Out passe - fadir myn, this is no fable.
"An egal change, my sone, is in soothe
No charge, I woot it wel ynow in dede.
What, sone myn, good herte take unto the!
Men seyn, whoso of every gras hath drede,
Let him be waar to walke in any mede.
Assaye, assaye, thow symple hertid goost!
What grace is shapen thee thow nat ne woost."
"Fadir, as sikir as that I stande heere,
Whethir that I be symple or argh or bold,
Swich an eschange gete I noon to yeere;
Do as I can with that I have in hold;
For as for that, my confort is but cold.
But wel I fynde your good wil alway
Redy to me in what yee can and may."
"That is sooth, sone. Now syn thow me toldist
My lord, the Prince, is good lord thee to,
No maistrie is it for thee if thow woldist
To be releeved. Woost thow what to do?
Wryte to him a goodly tale or two,
On which he may desporten him by nyght,
And his free grace shal upon thee lyght.
"Sharpe thy penne and wryte on lustyly.
Let see, my sone, make it fressh and gay;
Owte thyn aart if thow canst craftily;
His hy prudence hath insighte verray
To juge if it be wel ymaad or nay.
Wherfore, sone, it is unto thee neede
Unto thy werk take the gretter heede.
"But of o thyng be wel waar in al wyse,
On flaterie that thow thee nat fownde,
For therof, sone, Salomon the wyse,
As that I have in his proverbes fownde,
Seith thus: 'They that in feyned speeche habownde,
And glosyngly unto hir freendes talke,
Spreden a net byforn hem wher they walke.'
"If a deceyvour geve a man to sowke
Wordes plesant in hony al bewrappid,
Good is a man eschue swich a powke.
Thurgh Favel hath ful many a man mishappid,
For whan that he hath janglid al and clappid
With his freend tretyng of pees openly,
He in awayt lyth of him covertly.
"The moost lak that han the lordes grete
Is of him that hir soothes sholde hem telle.
Al in the glose folk laboure and swete;
They stryven who best rynge shal the belle
Of fals plesaunce; in that hir hertes swelle,
If that oon can bet than othir deceyve,
And swich deceit lordes blyndly receyve.
"The worldly ryche men han no knowleche
What that they been of hir condicioun;
They been so blent with Faveles gay speeche
Which reportith to hem, that hir renoun
Is everywhere halwid in the toun;
That in hemself they deemen greet vertu,
Whereas there is but smal or nat a gru;
"For unnethe a good word men speke of hem.
This false treson commun is and ryf;
Bet were it thee been at Jerusalem,
Sone, than thow were in it deffectyf.
Syn my lord the Prince is, God holde his lyf,
To thee good lord, good servant thow thee qwyte
To him, and treewe, and it shal thee profyte.
"Wryte him nothyng that sowneth into vice.
Kythe thy love in mateere of sadnesse.
Looke if thow fynde canst any tretice
Growndid on his estates holsumnesse.
Swich thyng translate and unto his hynesse,
As humblely as that thow canst, presente.
Do thus, my sone." "Fadir, I assente."
"With herte as tremblyng as the leef of asp,
Fadir, syn yee me rede to do so,
Of my symple conceit wole I the clasp
Undo and lat it at his large go.
But, weleaway, so is myn herte wo
That the honour of Englissh tonge is deed,
Of which I wont was han conseil and reed.
"O maistir deere and fadir reverent,
My maistir Chaucer, flour of eloquence,
Mirour of fructuous entendement,
O universel fadir in science!
Allas that thow thyn excellent prudence
In thy bed mortel mightest nat byqwethe!
What eiled deeth? Allas, why wolde he sle the?
"O deeth, thow didest nat harm singuler
In slaghtre of him, but al this land it smertith.
But nathelees yit hastow no power
His name slee; his hy vertu astertith
Unslayn fro thee, which ay us lyfly hertith
With bookes of his ornat endytyng
That is to al this land enlumynyng.
"Hastow nat eek my maistir Gower slayn,
Whos vertu I am insufficient
For to descryve? I woot wel in certayn,
For to sleen al this world thow hast yment.
But syn our lord Cryst was obedient
To thee, in feith I can no ferther seye;
His creatures musten thee obeye.
"Fadir, yee may lawhe at my lewde speeche,
If that yow list - I am nothyng fourmeel;
My yong konnynge may no hyer reeche;
My wit is also slipir as an eel.
But how I speke, algate I meene weel."
"Sone, thow seist wel ynow, as me seemeth;
Noon othir feele I, so my conceit deemeth.
"Now farwel, sone, go hoom to thy mete;
It is hy tyme, and go wole I to myn.
And what I have seid thee, nat forgete.
And swich as that I am, sone, I am thyn.
Thow seest wel age hath put me to declyn,
And povert hath me maad of good al bare;
I may nat but preye for thy welfare."
"What, fadir, wolden yee thus sodeynly
Departe fro me? Petir, Cryst forbeede!
Yee shal go dyne with me, treewely."
"Sone, at o word, I moot go fro thee neede."
"Nay, fadir, nay!" "Yis, sone, as God me speede."
"Now, fadir, syn it may noon othir tyde,
Almighty God yow save and be your gyde;
"And graunte grace me that day to see
That I sumwhat may qwyte your goodnesse.
But, goode fadir, whan and wher shul yee
And I eft meete?" "Sone, in soothfastnesse,
I every day heere at the Carmes messe,
It faillith nat, aboute the hour of sevene."
"Wel, fadir, God bytake I yow of hevene."
Recordyng in my mynde the lessoun
That he me yaf, I hoom to mete wente.
And on the morwe sette I me adoun,
And penne and ynke and parchemeyn I hente,
And to parfourme his wil and his entente
I took corage, and whyles it was hoot,
Unto my lord the Prince thus I wroot:
[Words of the Compiler to the Prince] 6
Hy noble and mighty Prince excellent,
My lord the Prince, o my lord gracious,
I, humble servant and obedient
Unto your estat hy and glorious,
Of which I am ful tendre and ful gelous,
Me recommande unto your worthynesse,
With herte enteer and spirit of meeknesse;
Right humblely axyng of yow licence
That with my penne I may to yow declare
(So as that can my wittes innocence)
Myn inward wil that thristith the welfare
Of your persone, and elles be I bare
Of blisse whan that the cold strook of deeth
My lyf hath qweynt and me byreft my breeth.
Thogh that my lyflode and possessioun
Be scant, I ryche am of benevolence;
To yow therof can I be no nygoun.
Good have I noon by which your excellence
May plesid be, and for myn inpotence
Stoppith the way to do as I were holde,
I wryte as he that your good lyf fayn wolde.
Aristotle, moost famous philosophre,
His epistles to Alisaundre sente,
Whos sentence is wel bet than gold in cofre,
And more holsum growndid on treewe entente.
For al that evere tho epistles mente,
To sette was this worthy conquerour
In reule how to susteene his honour.
The tendre love and the fervent cheertee
That this worthy clerk ay to this kyng beer,
Thristynge his welthe durable to be,
Unto his herte stak and sat so neer,
That by wrytyng his conseil gaf he cleer
Unto his lord to keepe him fro nusance,
As witnessith his book of governance;
Of which, and of Gyles of Regiment
Of Princes, plotmeel thynke I to translate.
And thogh that symple be my sentement,
O worthy Prince, I yow byseeche algate,
Considereth how endytynge hath in hate
My dul conceit, and nat accorde may
With my childhede - I am so childissh ay.
Also byseeche I that the altitude
Of your estat, thogh that this pamfilet
Noon ordre holde ne in him include,
Nat greeved be, for I can do no bet.
Anothir day, whan wit and I be met
Which longe is to, and han us freendly kist, 7
Deskevere I wole that now is nat wist.
Nathelees, swich as is my smal konnynge,
With also treewe an herte, I wole it oute
As tho two dide or evere clerk lyvynge.
But tremblynge is my spirit, out of doute,
That to parfourme that I am aboute.
Allas, the stuf of sad intelligence
Me faillith to speke in so hy presence.
Symple is my goost and scars my letterure
Unto your excellence for to wryte
Myn inward love, and yit in aventure
Wole I me putte, thogh I can but lyte.
My deere maistir, God his soule qwyte,
And fadir, Chaucer, fayn wolde han me taght,
But I was dul and lerned lyte or naght.
Allas, my worthy maistir honurable,
This landes verray tresor and richesse,
Deeth by thy deeth hath harm irreparable
Unto us doon; hir vengeable duresse
Despoillid hath this land of the swetnesse
Of rethorik, for unto Tullius
Was nevere man so lyk amonges us.
Also who was heir in philosophie
To Aristotle in our tonge but thow?
The steppes of Virgile in poesie
Thow folwedist eek. Men woot wel ynow
That combreworld that thee, my maistir, slow.
Wolde I slayn were! Deeth was to hastyf
To renne on thee and reve thee thy lyf.
Deeth hath but smal consideracioun
Unto the vertuous, I have espyed;
No more, as shewith the probacioun,
Than to a vicious maistir losel tryed
Among an heep. Every man is maistried
With here, as wel the poore as is the ryche;
Leered and lewde eek standen alle ylyche.
Shee mighte han taried hir vengeance a whyle
Til that sum man had egal to thee be -
Nay, let be that! Shee kneew wel that this yle
May nevere man foorth brynge lyk to thee;
And hir office needes do moot shee.
God bad hir so, I truste, as for thy beste;
O maistir, maistir, God thy soule reste!
Now to my mateere as that I began.
There is a book Jacob de Cessolis
Of the ordre of prechours maad, a worthy man,
That the Ches Moralysed clepid is,
In which purpos I eek laboure ywis;
And heere and there, as that my litil wit
Affoorthe may, I thynke translate it.
And al be it that in that place sqwaar
Of the listes - I meene th'eschequeer -
A man may lerne to be wys and waar,
I that have aventured many a yeer
My wit therin, but lyte am I the neer,
Sauf that I sumwhat knowe a kynges draght;
Of othir draghtes lerned have I naght.
And for that among the draghtes echone
That unto the ches apparteene may,
Is noon so needful unto your persone
To knowe as that of the cheertee verray
That I have had unto your noblesse ay,
And shal, if your plesaunce it be to heere,
A kynges draght reporte I shal now heere.
I am seur that tho bookes alle three
Red hath and seen your innat sapience;
And as I hope, hir vertu folwen yee.
But unto yow compyle I this sentence
That, at the good lust of your excellence,
In short yee mowen beholde heer and rede
That in hem thre is scatered fer in brede.
And althogh it be no maneere of neede
Yow to consaille what to doon or leeve,
Yit if yow list of stories taken heede,
Sumwhat it may profyte, by your leeve;
At hardest, whan yee been in chambre at eeve,
They been good for to dryve foorth the nyght;
They shal nat harme if they be herd aright.
To your hynesse thynke it nat to longe,
Thogh in that draght I sumwhat wade deepe,
The thewes vertuous that to it longe
Wacchen my goost and letten him to sleepe.
Now God in vertu yow maynteene and keepe,
And I byseeche your magnificence
Geve unto me benigne audience.
For thogh I to the steppes clergial
Of thise clerkes thre nat may atteyne,
Yit for to putte in prees my conceit smal,
Good wil me artith take on me the peyne.
But sore in me ther qwappith every veyne,
So dreedful am I of myn ignorance;
The Crois of Cryst my werk speede and avance.
Explicit prologus, de principum regimine; incipiendo de fide observanda
Now gracious Prince, ageyn that the corone
Honure yow with rial dignitee,
Byseechith Him that sit on hy in trone,
That whan that charge receyved han yee,
Swich governance men may feele and see
In yow as may been unto His plesance
Profyt to us and your good loos avance.
First and forward, the dignitee of kyng
Impressith in the botme of your mynde,
Consideryng how chargeable a thyng
That office is, for so yee shul it fynde.
Unto good reule yee yow knytte and bynde;
Of Goddes wreche have ay drede and awe;
Do right to grete and smale, and keepe lawe.
Ones ther was a kyng, as I have rad,
Whan his corone was unto him broght,
Or he it took, in thoght he stood al sad,
And thus he seide, aftir he had thoght:
"O thow corone, noble and faire ywroght!
What man that thee receyveth or admittith,
More ese than he weeneth from him flittith.
"Whoso the peril kneew, and charge and fere
That is in thee, thogh thow at eerthe lay,
He wolde nat thee up areise or rere,
But let thee lye stille and go his way.
For sooth is this, and hath, and shal been ay:
This worldes hook, envye hath to his bayt,
And ay hath hy degree sore in awayt."
Now, noble Prince, thogh I be nat wys,
Wel willid am I as I first yow tolde.
In name of Jhesu, wirke aftir the avys
That I compyle out of thise auctours olde.
And if I nat the way of reson holde,
Folwe me nat; and if that I do, thenne
Do as I shal reporte with my penne.
Tho oothes that at your creacioun
Shul thurgh your tonge passe, hem wel observe.
Lat no coloured excusacioun
Yow make from hem slippe asyde or swerve.
Holde up hir lyf, lat hem nat in yow sterve.
It is nat kyngly from an ooth to varie;
A kyng of trouthe owith been exemplarie.
Lo, thus this Aristotle in his book seith
To Alisaundre, and to be waar him bit
That he ne breke his bondes ne his feith,
For unto folk untreewe longith it.
He seith that grace nat in him abit,
But wikkid ende and cursid aventure
Him folwith, that forswere him hath no cure.
By feith is maad the congregacioun
Of peple and of citees enhabitynge;
By feith han kynges dominacioun;
Feith causith eek of men the communynge;
Castels by feith dreden noon assailynge;
By feith the citees standen unwerreied,
And kynges of hir sogettes been obeied.
Who leesith feith, gretter thyng may noon leese.
Or a man speke, or bynde him by his seel,
And hath his ful libertee, and may cheese
What he do shal, him oghte avyse him weel
Or he promette. Heete nat a deel
By word ne bond but if he wole it laste;
For whoso dooth, shal smerten at the laste.
Litil enchesoun hath he for to speke,
To whos wordes is geven no credence.
Perillous is a man his feith to breke.
Feith by necessitee ne indigence
Nat artid is deceyve, and apparence
Of trouthe outward and inward fikilnesse
Bultith out shame and causith greet smertnesse.
What was the cause of the destruccioun
Of the peple of Scites and Arabee,
But for hir kynges in decepcioun
Of men and citees ny to hir contree,
Hir oothes useden, by sotiltee,
Brekynge bondes that stablisshid were
Mankynde to profyte and nat to dere.
And for that synne, Goddes rightwisnesse,
That punysshith falshode and treccherie,
Nat mighte hem suffre endure in that woodnesse,
But they destroyed were, it is no lye.
Untrouthe, allas! The ordre of chivalrie
Dampneth it; thogh that the persone it use,
Knyghthode itself moot algate it refuse.
To God truste I, no lord in al this lond
Is gilty of that inconvenience.
Fy! What, a lord breke his byheeste or bond?
Nay, God forbeede that that pestilence
In a lord dwelle or holde residence;
For if that he that wikkid gest recette,
By swich a lord wole honour nothyng sette.
Whan Marcus Regulus was, as I rede,
Venquisshid in a bataille of the see
By hem of Cartage, hoom with hem they lede
This prisoner; and aftir sent was he
By hem to Rome, his owne contree,
Sworn to retourne to Cartage ageyn,
As Tullius and eek Seint Austyn seyn.
The cause why they him to Rome sente
Was for to do to Romains hir message,
Witynge of hem if that they wolde assente
That, syn ther were Romains in Cartage
In prison, and Romains hadde eek in cage
Cartagiens, suffre hem at large go
And the Romains go sholde at large also.
Whan Marcus doon hadde as that he was bode,
The senat axid him what was his reed,
And he answerde and seide thus: "For Gode,
Al this rede I lat sleepen and be deed.
It may by no way synke into myn heed
That to us Romains were it covenable
Swich an eschaunge, but unprofitable.
"We Romains that they han in prison loke
Been but yong froth, unlerned in bataille,
And othir feeble folk with age ybroke,
Of which I am oon; we may nat availle.
Of us no los is but, withouten faille,
Your prisoners been myghty men and wyse,
And folk in armes preeved at devyse."
His freendes wolde han holde him stille there,
But they nat mighte - he wolde alway retourne;
To breke his ooth, his goost was ay in fere.
He thoghte nat in his contree sojourne,
Do what hem list, whethir they glade or mourne.
Unto his foos as blyve he him dressith,
And kneew wel to be deed, the book witnessith.
He heeld it bet his ooth for to observe
And dye in honur as that a knyght oghte,
Than by perjurie his lyf for to preserve;
Of swiche unknyghtly tukkes he nat roghte.
I trowe now adayes, thogh men soghte,
His heir ful hard were in this land to fynde.
Men list nat so ferfoorth to trouthe hem bynde.
Yit nat oonly to preise is this Marcus
For trouthe, but eek, as it seemeth me,
His renoun oghte doublid been, as thus:
Whereas th'eschange mighte han maad him free,
Qwit of his foos prison, gretter cheertee
He hadde of the profyt universel
Than of himself - his deeth it preeved wel.
Amonges alle thynges in a knyght,
Trouthe is a thyng that he ne lakke may
If his honur shal bere his heed upright.
Valerie tellith how with greet array
Kyng Alisandre and his oost on a day,
Meeved of ire and of malencolie,
Unto a citee dressid him in hye,
Which that yclept and callid was Lapsat,
Purposynge him bete it to the eerthe adoun.
And or that this kyng fully cam therat,
Ther was a philosophre in the toun,
A man of excellent discrecioun,
That to this kyng sumtyme had maistir be,
Ful sore abassht of him and his meynee.
Out of the town he spedde him on his weye,
As hastily as that he cowde or mighte,
Toward the kyng, of grace him for to preye.
And as swythe as the kyng hadde of him sighte,
He kneew him and his meenynge, and on highte
He seide him thus: "By the goddes I swere,
Al thy labour shal nat be worth a pere.
"At thy prayere do wole I nothyng."
This philosophre of his ooth took good heede
And seide, "O worthy conquerour and kyng,
Than preye I thee unto the toun thee speede
And it destroye, bothe in lengthe and brede;
Have on it no pitee, but al doun caste;
This preye I thee that may be doon as faste."
And whan the kyng his preyere undirstood,
Al his angire and his irous talent
Refreyned he; he wolde for no good
On the toun venge him as he hadde ment.
He rather chees be disobedient
To his vengeable wil and his ooth keepe
Than be forsworn of that he swoor so deepe.
Or a kyng swere, it is ful necessarie
Avyse him wel, for whan that it is past,
He may his ooth in no wyse contrarie
If he of shame or repreef be agast.
A kyng owith of word be stidefast;
Nothyng byheete but he it parfourme
If he wole him to his estat confourme.
A greet clerk which clept is Crisostomus,
Where he of matire of swerynge tretith,
Thise arn the wordes that he writ to us:
"What man the custume of oothes nat lettith
In sweryng ofte, what he seith forgetith.
Usage of oothes of perjurie is cause."
And more he seith eek in the same clause.
He seith, "Perjurie engendrid is of oothes,
For right as he that custumablely
Clappith and janglith and to stynte looth is,
Moot othirwhyle speke unsittyngly,
Right so usage of sweryng enemy
To trouthe is, and makith men hem forswere."
Ful necessarie is oothes to forbere.
Sweryng hath thise thre condicions
Folwyng, as trouthe, doom, and rightwisnesse.
Ooth axith trouthe and no decepcions,
But swere in his entente soothfastnesse;
Doom moot discreetly, lest al hastynesse,
Swere, and nat needles; and justice also,
Leeffully swere, and justly everemo.
Quintilian seith that unto hy degree
Unsittynge is to swere in any wyse
But it be causid of necessitee;
For as he seith, and othir clerkes wyse,
A kyng or princes word oghte souffyse
Wel more than oghte a marchantes ooth,
And to go therageyn be more looth.
And syn a princes ooth or his promesse,
Whan they nat holden been, him deshonure,
His lettre and seel, which more open witnesse
Beren than they, good is take heede and cure
That they be kept; wrytynge wole endure.
What a man is, it prest is for to preeve;
Outhir honure it shal him or repreeve.
Now if it happe, as it hath happid ofte,
A kyng in neede borwe of his marchantes,
Greet wysdam were it trete faire and softe,
And holde hem treewely hir covenantes;
For truste it wel, whan hir covenant is
Nat to hem kept, as that hir bond requerith,
The kyng hath shame, and eek it hem mischerith.
Looth wole hem been eftsones for to lene;
He that is brent, men seyn, dredith the fyre;
Be his day kept, he rekkith nat a bene,
But elles, sikir, dun is in the myre.
Withouten doute, a marchantes desyr
Is with good herte his kyng honure and plese,
And to his might refresshe and doon him ese.
In hem is the substance of every lone.
What folk chevyce as mochil as doon they?
Excellent Prince, I deeme your persone
To hem and to al othir in good fay
Wole holde that yee heeten hem alway,
And so to do God, the auctour of trouthe,
Yow graunte, and elles certes were it routhe.
If that a poore man breke his byheeste
Or do ageyn his ooth or seel or lettre,
Men hente him by the heed and him areeste,
And to prison he gooth; he gete no bettre
Til his maynpernour his areest unfettre;o
And yit he moot the cours of lawe abyde,
Or his maynpernour moot deffende his syde.
Among the poore peple thus it gooth:
They for untrouthe han smert and open shame.
And if a lord his bond breke or his ooth,
For soothe, it is a foul spot in his name.
Thogh men dar nat openly him diffame,
They thynke, al be it that they nothyng speke,
In swiche lordes is untrouthe, I rekke.
And syn a kyng by way of his office
To God ylikned is, as in maneere,
And God is trouthe itself, than may the vice
Of untrouthe nat in a kyng appeere,
If his office shal to God refeere.
A bisy tonge bryngith in swich wyt,
He that by word nat giltith is parfyt.
A! lord, what it is fair and honurable
A kyng from mochil speeche him refreyne.
It sit him been of wordes mesurable,
For mochil clap wole his estat desteyne.
If he his tonge with mesures reyne
Governe, thanne his honur it conserveth;
And by the revers, dieth it and sterveth.
Bet is the peples eres thriste and yerne
Hir kyng or princes wordes for to heere,
Than that his tonge go so faste and yerne
That mennes eres dulle of his mateere;
For dullyng hem, dullith the herte in feere
Of hem that geven to him audience.
In mochil speeche wantith nat offense.
Whoso that hatith mochil clap or speeche
Qwenchith malice, and he that his mowth keepith,
Keepith his soule, as that the bookes teche.
Unbrydlid wordes ofte man byweepith;
Prudence wakith whan the tonge sleepith,
And sleepith ofte whan the tonge wakith.
Moderat speeche engendrith reste and makith.
Alle natures of beestes and briddes
And of serpentes been ymakid tame,
But tonge of man, as it wel knowe and kid is,
Nat may be tamed. O fy, man, for shame!
Silence of tonge is wardeyn of good fame,
And aftir repreef, fisshith clap and foulith.
The tonge of man al the body deffoulith.
And that out of the tonge of kyng procedith,
The peple specially beren away;
Wherfore unto a kyng the more it needith
Avyse him what he speke shal alway.
In mochil speeche sum byheeste may
Lightly asterte that may nat be holde,
And thanne trouthe begynneth to colde.
O worthy Prince, this, lo, meeveth me
Of trouthe for to touche thus sadly,
For that I wolde that the hy degree
Of chivalrie universelly
Baar up his heed and bente it nat awry.
Of his honour untrouthe a knyght unlaceth
And his renoun al uttirly defaceth.
Honour appropred is to chivalrie,
And faylynge it, the cheef flour of his style
Fadith and faillith and begynneth die.
But now passe over; touche I wole a whyle
Of rightwisnesse, which out of this yle
Purposith fully for to fare and weende,
So is our reule unthrifty and untheende.
Seint Anselm seith, justice is libertee
Of wil, gevynge unto every wight
That longith to his propre dignitee:
To God obedience, as it is right;
And he that poore is of degree and might,
Unto his bettre, honour and reverence;
The grete eek to the smal, lore and science;
To thyn egal, concord; unto thy fo,
Souffrance; and to thyselven, holynesse;
To the needy, greeved with wrecchid wo,
Mercy in dede and releeve his distresse;
Aftir thy power, do thow thyn almesse,
And reewe upon him if that thy might faille,
For that wil shal thy dede contrevaille.
Whoso it be that justice verray
Desirith folwe, first moot he God dreede
And love as hertly as he can or may.
It nat souffisith do no noyous deede,
But who annoye wolde, him it forbeede;
For nat annoye is no rightwisnesse,
But it is abstinence of wikkidnesse.
Of conseil and of help been we dettours,
Eche to othir, by right of brethirhede;
For whan a man yfalle into errour is,
His brothir owith him conseil and rede
To correcte and amende his wikkid dede;
And if he be vexid with maladie,
Ministre him help his greef to remedie.
Every man owith studien and muse
To teche his brothir what thyng is to do
And what behovely is to refuse;
That that is good, provokynge him therto.
And thus he moot conseille his brothir, lo,
Do that right is and good to Goddes pay,
In word nat oonly but in werk alway.
Lawful justice is, as in maneere,
Al vertu, and who wole han this justice,
The lawe of Cryst to keepe moot he leere.
Now if that lawe forbeede every vice,
And commande al good thyng and it cherice,
Fulfille lawe is vertu parfyt
And injustice is of al vertu qwyt.
Justice is of the kynde and the nature
Of God, and he hath maad it and ordeyned
On remes and on every creature.
By justice is shedynge of blood restreyned,
And gilt punysshid whan it is conpleyned.
Justice deffendith possessions,
And peple keepith from oppressions.
A kyng is maad to keepen and maynteene
Justice, for shee makith obeissant
The misdoers that prowde been and keene,
And hem that been in vertu habundant,
Chericeth. A kyng is by covenant
Of ooth maad in his coronacioun
Bownde to justices sauvacioun.
And a kyng in fulfillyng of that is
To God lyk, which is verray rightwisnesse.
And men of Ynde seyn and holden this:
"A kynges justice is as greet richesse
Unto his peple as plentee or largesse
Of eerthely good, and bettre than reyn
Fallyng at eeve from hevene," they seyn.
Ful often sythe it is wist and seen
That for the wrong and the unrightwisnesse
Of kynges ministres, that kynges been
Holden gilty; whereas, in soothfastnesse,
They knowen nothyng of the wikkidnesse;
Unjust ministres ofte hir kyng accusen,
And they that just been, of wrong hem excusen.
If the ministres do naght but justice
To poore peple in contree as they go,
Thogh the kyng be unjust, yit is his vice
Hid to the peple; they weene everemo
The kyng be just for his men gye hem so.
But ministres to seelde hem wel governe;
Oppressioun regneth in every herne.
A kyng, me thynkith, for the seuretee
Of his good loos, byhoveth it enquere
Of hem that han his estat in cheertee,
What fame that his poore peple him bere.
He of justice is bownden hem to were
And to deffende; and if that they be greeved,
By him they moot be holpen and releeved.
Excuse shal him nat his ignorance;
He moot enquere of wrong and it redresse.
For that he peple hath in governance,
He clept is kyng. If his men peple oppresse,
Witynge him, and nat rekke of the duresse,
He may by right be clept no governour,
But of his peple a wilful destroyour.
O worthy Kyng benigne, Edward the laste,
Thow haddist ofte in herte a drede impressid,
Which that thyn humble goost ful sore agaste;
And to knowe if thow cursid were or blessid,
Among the peple ofte hastow thee dressid
Into contree in symple array allone
To heere what men seide of thy persone.
Althogh a kyng have habundance of might
In his land at his lust, knyt and unknyt,
Good is that he his power use aright,
That fro the way of justice he nat flitte,
Lest our lord God him from His grace shitte,
Of whom al rightwys power is deryved;
For if he do, of blisse he shal be pryved.
I fynde how that Theodorus Sireene,
For that he to the kyng of Lysemak
Tolde his deffautes, the kyng leet for teene
Crucifie him, and as he heeng and stak
Upon the Crois, thus to the kyng he spak:
"This peyne, or othir lyk therto, moot falle
Upon thy false conseilloures alle.
"Nat rekke I thogh I rote on hy or lowe,
As he that of the deeth hath no gastnesse;
I dye an innocent, I do thee knowe;
I dye to deffende rightwisnesse.
Thy flaterers enhaunced in richesse
Dreden to suffre for right swich a peyne,
But I therby nat sette risshes tweyne."
Ther was a duc Romayn clept Camilus,
Leide ones seege unto a citee,
Falisk named, as seith Valerius,
Of which the men of moost auctoritee,
And gretteste of power and of degree,
To a maistir in the citee dwellynge
Bytook hir children by wey of lernynge.
What dooth me this maistir but on a day
Some of tho children out of the toun ledde,
The moost expert in science, and the way
Streight to the Romayn tentes he him spedde,
And the duc thus conseillid he and redde:
"Haveth thise children in possessioun,
And keepith hem in hold and in prisoun;
"The fadres of hem han in governance
Falisk the citee at hir owne list.
In hy and lowe, aftir hir ordenance
Is al thyng doon. Whan it is to hem wist
That yee hir children han undir your fist,
Yee shul wel seen, hir children lyf to save,
Hem and the citee shul yee wynne and have."
The duke answerde anoon to this traitour:
"Thogh thow be fals unto thyn owne toun,
And rekkist nat of shame or deshonour,
But par cas for to gete of me guerdoun,
Desirest Faliskes destruccioun,
Nat were it knyghtly me to thee consente
That taken hast so traiterous entente.
"We Romains keepen rightes of bataille
As trewely as the rightes of pees;
Our custume is no children to assaille.
Thogh we the town had wonne, doutelees
Ther sholde no chyld among al the prees
For us han greeved be. We armes bere
Ageyn the armed men, hem for to dere,
"And nat ageyn children undeffensable.
In that in thee is, thy might hastow do,
Thurgh wikkid treson fals and deceyvable,
Thy citee to destroyen and fordo;
But I, Romayn, agree me nat therto.
By vertu of armes wole I it wynne,
For al the might of men that been therynne."
The duke commandith, shortly for to seyn,
His handes him behynde to be bownde,
And bad the children lede him hoom ageyn
To hir fadres; which, whan that they han fownde
So greet justice in this duke habownde,
The senat clepte and this unto hem tolde;
The hertes gan to chaunge of yonge and olde.
Alle, they seiden, of hy gentillesse,
Growndid upon justice dide he this,
And also of a chivalrous prowesse.
They seiden, "It to us moost sittynge is
Oure gates opne and offre us to been his.
Is noon so good as lat us mollifie
Oure hertes stoute to his genterie;
"And of his pees, requeren him and preye."
They diden so, but what was folewynge,
Nat have I red, wherfore I can nat seye.
But this just duke, as by my supposynge,
Was to hem swich in wil and in wirkynge
That he hem qwitte so as mighte hem qweeme.
What sholde I elles of swich a lord deeme?
Of Lancastre good Duke Henri also,
Whos justice is writen and auctorysid -
Why sholde I nat thee rekne amonges tho
That in hir tyme han justice excercysid?
Yit that vertu oonly nat hath souffysid
To thee, but al that longith to knyghthode
Was inned in thyn excellent manhode.
I rede also how that, hangynge a stryf
Twixt Kyng Porrus and a lord clept Fabrice,
The leche of this kyng, a cursid caytyf
Involved and ywrappid in the vice
Of covetyse, shoop him for to tryce
His owne lord the kyng and him to kille
If that it hadde been Fabrices wille.
This leche unto Fabrices hous by nyght,
As pryvely as that he cowde, wente,
And unto him ensured and behighte
If that him list to the dede consente,
He was so glad to plese him and contente,
His lord the kyng with venym wolde he feede
So that therthurgh he sterve sholde neede.
This lord with that bad men his handes teye,
And lede unto the kyng this traiterous wight,
And al this treson unto him bywreye.
Whan this was doon, the kyng seide anoon right:
"See heere a trouthe and manhode of a knyght.
Men may the sonne as lightly his cours reve
As this Fabrice make his trouthe leve."
In Perse ones ther was by jugement
A man to deeth dampned in wronge wyse
For wratthe and hate and the irous talent
That to this ilke man baar the justice.
And whan the knowleche of this fals jewyse
Was come unto the kynges audience,
This doom he gaf as blyve and this sentence.
He bad men fleen him qwik out of his skyn,
And therwith kevere the judicial see,
And made his sone to be set theryn,
That juge aftir his fadir sholde be,
To this ende and entencioun, that he
Sholde be waar how he his doomes gaf,
And lene alway to rightwisnesse staf.
Nat oghte a juge for hate or for love
Othir way deeme than trouthe requerith,
But, at the reverence of God above,
Right ay favoure whan that it appeerith.
Dede of justice a conscience cleerith,
Chacyng away thoghtes on wrong ygrowndid.
Who jugeth wrongfully is feendly wowndid.
What juge in doom eek geveth just sentence
Awaytyng upon a golden dragee,
To God he dooth displesance and offense;
For the justice which of duetee
He sholde do, cursidly sellith he,
For love of meede him provokith therto,
And rightwisnesse nothyng so to do.
To swich a juge, withdrawe the hope
Of moneye, and he fro justice flittith.
Where he supposith moneye to grope,
Just jugement he in his herte admittith;
But whoso that his hand fro giftes shittith,
As unto us witnessith Isaye,
He shal in hevene dwelle and sitten hye.
Cristen men yilde oghten just jugement
Freely, for unleefful is it to selle,
Thogh it be leefful and convenient
A wys man for reward his reed to telle.
A juges purs with gold nat sholde swelle.
If on justice he shape his doom to bilde,
His jugementz he giftlees muste yilde.
And he that dooth of justice rigour,
Let him be waar he have no delyt
In punysshynge of the offendour
That hath ydoon the trespas or the wyt,
Ne him rejoise of his annoyous plyt,
Ne the manere excede in swiche cas,
Or quantitee of the gilt or trespas,
Evene as a soule is bodyes lyflynesse,
And whan that it is twynned from a wight
The herte is deed, so farith rightwisnesse;
For whan a reme is reuled by hir might,
Than may the peple be ful glad and light;
The land may bathen in prosperitee;
And lost is al if that absent be shee.
Ther was a lawe ymaad upon a tyme
At Rome, by the consules assent,
That whoso were gilty of the cryme
Of advoutrie and were therin hent,
His yen bothe sholden out be brent.
Now fil it so, a man that sone was
To a consul was take in this trespas.
And whan that the mishap of this persone
Was to the peple knowen of the toun,
They loveden his fadir so echone,
And had him in so cheer affeccioun,
They seiden that noon execucioun
Sholde on this sone for this dede falle,
And the consules so they preyden alle.
To which the fadir gan replie tho,
And thus allegged he for him and leide:
"Considereth, sires, I am oon of tho
That to this lawe assentid and obeide;
And sholde I now the same breke?" he seide,
"For favour of myself or any of myne?
Nay, sires, to that may I nat enclyne.
"Maffeith, that were wrong and vilenye.
The lawe shal foorth, thogh it fil on me."
The peple gan to rumble and clappe and crye,
And the consules preide of the citee
The revers; thus overcome was he.
So at the laste, he sy noon othir weye
But in partie he muste hir lust obeye.
"Now," quod he, "syn that it may be no bet,
Sumwhat to yow me confourme wole I,
So that the lawe shal nat al be let,
Thogh that it mighte observed be fully.
Thus wole I and noon othir, trewely:
Oon of myn yen wole I now forgo,
My sone anothir - it shal be right so.
"We two wole have but o mannes sighte."
Thus was doon, but nat al at the plesance
Of the peple; but they noon othir mighte.
Now if tomorwe fil ther swich a chance,
Sholde men fynde so just governance?
Nay, nay, this lond is al to scars and lyte
To fynde oon that so justly wolde him qwyte.
Prince excellent, have your lawes cheer;
Observe hem and offende hem by no weye.
By ooth to keepe hem, bownde is the poweer
Of kyng, and by it is kynges nobleye
Sustened. Lawe is bothe lok and keye
Of seuretee; whyl lawe is kept in londe,
A prince in his estat may sikir stonde.
And doutelees, if that fordoon be lawe,
A princes power may go pleye him thenne;
For they that naght ne han, with knyf ydrawe
Wole on hem that of good be mighty renne,
And hurte hem and hir houses fyre and brenne,
And robbe and slee and do al swich folie,
Whan ther no lawe is hem to justifie.
Now in good feith, I preye God it amende,
Lawe is ny fleemed out of this contree,
For fewe been that dreden it offende.
Correccioun and al is longe on thee:
Why suffrest thow so many an assemblee
Of armed folk? Wel ny in every shire
Partie is maad to venge hir cruel ire.
They with hir hand wrong to hem doon redresse.
Hem deyneth nat an accioun attame
At commun lawe; swich unbuxumnesse
Suffred us make wole of seurtee lame.
Whoso may this correcte, is worthy blame
That he ne dooth naght. Allas, this souffrance
Wole us destroye by continuance.
Is ther no lawe this to remedie?
I can no more, but and this foorth growe,
This land shal it repente and sore abye,
And al swich maintenance, as men wel knowe,
Susteened is nat by persones lowe,
But cobbes grete this riot susteene.
Correcte it good is whil that it is greene;
For and it hoore, this land is but lost.
He that our heed is, sore it shal repente;
And this t'amende axith no gretter cost
But to do lawe in no vengeable entente,
Seye I; but for the bettre, hem take and hente,
And punysshe hem by lawful rightwisnesse,
And suffre nat eche othir thus oppresse.
Smal tendrenesse is had now of oure lawes,
For if so be that oon of the grete wattis
A dede do which that ageyn the lawe is,
Nothyng at al he punysshid for that is.
Right as lopwebbes, flyes smale and gnattis
Taken and suffre grete flyes go,
For al this world, lawe is now reuled so.
The ryche and mighty man, thogh he trespace,
No man seith ones that blak is his ye;
But to the poore is denyed al grace;
He snybbid is and put to tormentrie.
He nat asterte may, he shal abye;
He caght is in the webbe and may nat twynne.
Mochil good reule is sowe and spryngith thynne.
Of this growith stryf, bataille, and discord;
And by the grete, poore folk been greeved;
For he that noble is of blood and a lord
In style, and naght hath, stired is and meeved
Unto rapyne; this is often preeved;
The poore it feelith. Thus of lawe lak
Norissheth wrong and castith right abak.
Whan a kyng dooth his peyne and diligence
His reme by lawe and reson to gye,
He standith more in the benevolence
Of God, and more his werk shal fructifie,
And shal han gretter meede, it is no lye,
Than they that swich a cure han noon on honde.
Thus fynde I writen, as I undirstonde.
Whoso that in hy dignitee is set
And may do grevous wrong and crueltee,
If he forbere hem, to commende is bet,
And gretter shal his meede and meryt be,
Than they that nat may kythe iniquitee,
Ne naght doon; for if sum man were of might,
Often wolde he do greet harm and unright.
Hy dignitee, the Philosophre writith,
Preeveth a man what he is in his dede.
Whan that a prince in vertu him delitith,
Than is his peple warisshid of drede;
Than may they seye and synge alowde and grede:
"Honur, long lyf, joie, and Crystes blessyng
Moot have our sustenour, our prince and kyng!"
Whan that an emperour in dayes olde
Coroned was, aftir as blyve anoon
Makers of toumbes come unto him sholde
And axe him of what metal or what stoon
His toumbe sholde been, and foorth they goon
With swich devys as the lord list devyse,
And up they make it in hir beste wyse.
This was doon for to brynge unto memorie
That he was nat but a man corruptible,
And that this worldes joie is transitorie,
And the trust on it slipir and fallible.
Al this considered, oghte him be penible
His reme wel for to governe and gye,
For whoso lyveth wel, wel shal he dye.
Lyk a brydil is dethes remembrance,
That mannes herte restreyneth fro vice.
That kyng that kyngly is of governance,
That is to seyn, dooth justly his office,
Of love and pees and reste he is norice.
And whan that he is out of this world went,
Thus seyn men that goon by his monument:
"In hevene moot this kynges soule reste.
This was a worthy kyng, greet was the pees
That men hadde in his tyme. He was the beste
That mighte be; he kepte his peple harmlees;
In his comynge, glad was al the prees,
And sory weren of his departynge."
O gracious Prince, swich be your wirkynge!
Thus, my good Lord, wynneth your peples vois,
For peples vois is Goddes vois, men seyn.
And He that for us starf upon the Crois
Shal qwyte it yow, I doute it nat certeyn;
Your labour shal nat ydil be ne veyn.
"No good dede unrewarded is or qwit,
Ne evel unpunysshid," seith Holy Writ.
In your prosperitee and in your welthe,
Remembrith evere among that yee shul dye
And woot nat whan; it cometh in a stelthe.
Have often Him beforn your myndes ye
Fro whom noon herte hyde may ne wrye
His secree thoghtes. God al woot and weyeth;
Him love and drede, and His lawes obeyeth.
Now syn a kyng is to his lawes swore,
And lawe biddith free eleccioun
In chirches passe, my good Lord, therfore;
Let no favour ne noon affeccioun
So meeve your wys circumspeccioun
To lette hem of hir lawful libertee;
Lat hem rejoise hir propre duetee.
The chapitre of a chirche cathedral,
Whan they han chosen hir heed and pastour,
Which as hem thynkith souffissant at al
Hem for to reule and been hir governour,
Writith unto the Pope in hir favour,
Byseekyng humblely his fadirhede
It to conferme, and that is a just dede.
And if the lawe suffre yow to wryte
For any man apart, herkneth now me:
Let vertu thanne therto yow excyte.
Lookith that the man have habilitee
That shal receyve that hy dignitee -
That is to seyn, he be clene of lyvynge,
Discreet, just, and of souffissant konnynge.
If the Pope to that estat provyde
A persone at your preyere and instance,
Your soonde he takith to the bettre syde;
He holdith the persone of souffissance
To have swich a cure in governance,
For so witnessith the suggestioun
That to him maad is for provisioun.
To kynges lettres geven is credence;
Beeth waar how that yee wryte in swich mateere,
Lest that yee hurte and mayme conscience.
For if that execut be your preyeere,
The persone unworthy, yee shul ful deere
Reewe it; no smal charge is the soules cure
Of al a diocise, I yow ensure.
If swich wrytynge be of right souffrable,
And the man able swich charge receyve
For whom yee wryte, that is commendable,
And elles wole it your soule deceyve.
Helpe him that able is, and th'unable weyve.
Weyve Favel with his polisshid speeche,
And helpe him that wel dooth and wel can teche.
But certes Favel hath caght so sad foot
In lordes court, he may nat thennes slyde;
Who come or go, algate abyde he moot.
His craft is to susteene ay the wrong syde,
And from vertu his lord for to dyvyde.
And, for sooth sawes been to lordes looth,
Nat wole he sooth seyn, he hath maad his ooth.
Let Favel passe, foule moot he falle!
Foorth in justice wole I now proceede.
Ther was a knyght, I not what men him calle,
A just man and a treewe in al his deede;
Which on a tyme, as thoghte him it was neede,
The froward peple by sharp lawes bynde;
Lawes ful juste he made and in streit kynde.
And whan they weren byfore hem yrad,
They made hem wondir wrooth, and seiden alle,
They weren nat so nyce ne so mad
To hem assente for aght may befalle;
They wolden nat hem to tho lawes thralle;
And wolde han artid this knyght hem repele,
Makyng ageyn him an haynous querele.
Whan he sy this, he blyve to hem seide
He made hem nat, it was god Apollo.
"And on my bak," quod he, "the charge he leide
To keepe hem. Sires, what seyn yee heerto?
As he me charged hath, right so I do."
And unto that answerde anoon the prees:
"We wole hem nat admitten, doutelees!"
"Wel," quod he, "thanne is good, or yee hem breke,
That unto god Apollo I me dresse
To trete of this mateere and with him speke;
Withouten him I may it nat redresse.
Byseeche him wole I of his gentillesse
Repele hem, syn that they to streite been,
And do my dever right wel, yee shul seen.
"But or I go, yee shul unto me swere
Tho lawes keepe til I ageyn come,
And breke hem nat," to which they gan answere:
"Yee, yee, man, yee! We graunte it al and some!"
They made hir ooth, and he his way hath nome;
He nat to Apollo but to Grece wente,
And there abood til that the deeth him hente.
And whan his laste day gan to appeere,
He bad men throwe his body in the see
Lest, if upon the lond maad were his beere,
The peple mighten unto hir citee
His bones carie, and at hir large be,
Qwyt of hir ooth, as to hir jugement.
Thus he devysed in his testament.
Syn I spoke have of justice, as yee knowe,
Unto pitee - which moot been had algates,
And namely in princes oghte it growe -
Wole I me dresse. Shee opneth the gates
Of helthe to him that in seek estat is;
Shee esith many a wight that is distressid
That, nere hir help, sholde be sore oppressid.
Pitee nat elles is to undirstonde
But good wil inward of debonaire herte
And outward speeche, and werk of man to fonde
To helpe him that men seen in mescheef smerte.
Men seelde him seen into wikkid deeth sterte
That pitous is, but they han cruel deeth
Often, whos crueltee cruelly sleeth.
Whilom ther was a tirant despitous,
That so delytid him in crueltee
That of nothyng was he so desyrous.
Now shoop it so, a man that to pitee
Fo was and freend unto iniquitee,
A sotil werkman in craft of metal,
Wroghte in this wyse, as I yow telle shal.
His lord the kyng he thoghte plese and glade,
And craftily he made a bole of bras,
And in the syde of it he slyly made
A litil wyket that ordeyned was
To receyve hem that stood in dethes cas,
Undir the which men sholden sharp fyr make
Tho folk to deeth for to brennen and bake.
And yit, moreover, the kyng for to meeve
The lesse unto pitee, it maad was so
By sotil aart the dampned folk to greeve,
That whan to crye hem conpellid hir wo,
Hir vois was lyk a boles everemo,
And nothyng lyk a mannes vois in soun,
As the scripture makith mencioun.
But our lord God, of pitee the auctour,
Displesid with this cruel ordenance,
Swich reward shoop unto this losengeour
That it abatid al his contenance;
And for to preeve his feendly purveance,
How sharp it was and cowde folk distreyne,
The first he was that entred in that peyne.
For whan the kyng this cruel werk had seyn,
The craft of it commendid he ful wel,
But the entente he fully heeld ageyn,
And seide: "Thow that art more cruel
Than I, the maydenhede of this jewel
Shalt preeve anoon; this is my jugement."
And so as blyve he was therin ybrent.
Men may seen heere how Favel him enclyneth
Ay to his lordes lust what so it be;
Unto that ende he bysyeth him and pyneth,
And no consideracion hath he
Thogh it be harm to his lordes degree,
Or ageyn feith, honour, or conscience;
In fals plesaunce is al his diligence.
To what thyng it be, if it his lord lyke,
He him conformeth. He nevere denyeth
His lordes resons, but a thank to pyke,
His lordes wil and wit he justifieth.
Whyl Favel lyveth, no fals conseil dieth.
Favel is weddid to plesant deceit
And in that wedlok treewe is his conceit.
Ground of treson, o thow cursid Favel!
How longe shalt thow been a potestat?
In lordes court thow pleyest thy parcel
So that it strecchith to thy lordes maat;
For thow hast nevere thy lordes estaat
To herte cheer, but al thy bysynesse
Is for thy lucre and thy cofres warmnesse.
Favel was nevere freendly man unto.
Lordes, beeth waar it needith, trewely.
Senek by hem that folweden Nero
Seith thus: "A flie folwith the hony,
The wolf, careyne," he seith. So wel woot I
That conpaignie folweden hir pray,
And nat the man, and so do men this day.
Whil that the swetnesse of richesse endurith,
Unto the ryche is many a man plesant;
Oonly the richesse therto hem lurith;
What he commandith, they been obeissant
To do whil he of good is habundant.
But whan the pray, the richesse, is ago,
The man forsaken they for everemo.
O Favel, a blynd marchant artow oon,
That for worldly good and grace and favour
Which faille shal and passe and overgoon,
Swich diligence doost and swich labour
That thow thy soule from our Sauveour
Twynnest and sleest thy lordes soule also,
And causist hem to peyne eternel go.
Ther is a long and large difference
Twixt vertuous plesaunce and flaterie.
Good plesaunce is of swich benevolence
That what good dede he may in man espie,
He preisith it and rebukith folie.
But Favel takith al anothir paart;
In wrong preysynge is al his craft and aart.
A gloser also keepith his silence
Often where he his lord seeth him mistake.
Lest that his answer mighte doon offense
Unto his lord and him displesid make,
He halt his pees - nat o word dar he crake;
And for he naght ne seith, he his assent
Geveth therto by mannes jugement.
Whoso that woot the purpos of a wight
That is ygrowndid upon wikkidnesse
And nat ne lettith it unto his might,
Favourith it, as the book can expresse.
Whoso it lookith, fynde it shal no lesse.
But of al this now make I heere an eende
And to my tale of pitee wole I weende.
A prince moot been of condicioun
Pitous, and his angyr refreyne and ire,
Lest an unavysid commocioun
Him chaufe so and sette his herte on fyre,
That him to venge as blyve he desyre,
And fulfille it in dede. Him owith knowe
His errour, and qwenche that fyry lowe.
Aristotle amonestith wondir faste,
In his book which to Alisaundre he wroot,
If he wolde have his regne endure and laste,
That for noon ire he nevere be so hoot
Blood of man shede. And God seith, wel I woot,
That unto him reserved is vengeance;
Whoso that sleeth shal have the same chance.
But this nat ment is by the cours of lawe
That putte a man to deeth for cryme horrible.
Whan he a man ymurdred hath and slawe,
A man to slee by lawe it is lisible -
That slaghtre beforn God is admittible;
And if a kyng do swiche murdrers grace
Of lyf, he boldith hem eft to trespace.
A kyng of this lond, whilom herde I seyn,
For mannes deeth a pardoun hadde grauntid
Unto a man, which aftirward ageyn
The same gilt hadde in anothir hauntid;
Aftir whos deeth, he hoomly hath avauntid,
He nas nat so frendlees he wolde do
Wel ynow, thogh he had slayn othir two.
"Of freendes," quod he, "have I large wone,
That for that they have had and shul of myne,
Beforn the kyng for me shal knele echone.
They at the fulle konne his herte myne.
Thidir wole I go, streight as any lyne;
And they that now annoyen me or greeve,
I shal hem qwyte heereaftir, as I leeve."
He cam unto the kyng and axid grace
Of that he wroght hadde so synfully.
The kyng avysed him wel on his face,
And seide, "Freend, me thynkith how that I
Have unto thee doon grace or this, soothly.
I grauntid ones a chartre to thee
Of mannes deeth, as it remembrith me.
"Hastow now slayn anothir man also?"
Now stood a fool sage the kyng besyde,
And or the kyng spak any wordes mo,
He to him seide thus: "For God that dyde,
Why deemen yee this man an homicyde?
He slow him nat, for yee yourself him slow;
And by your leeve, I shal tellen how.
"If that the lawe mighte his cours han had,
This man heere had been for the first man deed;
Forgeve him eft now and, if he be drad
To slee the thridde, than girde of myn heed.
Now be avysid wel, it is my reed,
How yee your pardoun graunte, lest errour
Of nyce pitee be your accusour."
This kyng wel thoghte that he seide him trouthe,
And chartrelees gooth this man ful of dreede.
And aftirward, of whos dissert was routhe,
The lawe him gaf that longid to his meede.
My tale is doon. Now soothly, it is neede
Tho grauntes to withstonde that procure
Meschevous deeth to many a creature.
Pitee availlith mochil, but nat there,
For bet it is to slee the murdreman
Than suffre him regne, for he hath no fere
His hand to use foorth as he bygan;
And in my conceit feele wel I can
That of swich pitee is the abstinence
Of gretter pitee for the consequence.
If rightful deeth of o man keepe and save
Two innocentes lyves, thynkith me
By reson, more merit oghte him have
That commandith this gilty man deed be
Than he that lyf him grauntith. Why? Lat se!
The gilty man is no wrong doon unto,
But wrong is doon unto thise othir two.
Every man woot wel, for to save tweyne
Is gretter grace than save but oon.
Of murdre is cause greet for to conpleyne;
Tho pardons al to lightly passe and goon;
Avyse hem that favoure hem, by Seint John.
Whoso it be that therto the kyng meeveth,
Wel more than he woot his soule greeveth.
Avyse a kyng eek for any requeste
Unto him maad by greet estat or mene,
That he favoure it nat; it is the beste
Tho requestes to werne and voide clene -
Of swiche, in soothe, as murdrers been, I mene.
But and oon be by malice of his foos
Endited, pardoun be to him nat cloos.
If that be sooth, lat pitee walke at large,
For shee and mercy therto wole assente;
It is a parcel of hir eithir charge.
Routhe were it the giltelees tormente.
Pitee shal soule of man to God presente,
And God, that gaf us ensample of pitee,
To pitous folk sauvacion shal be.
The pitous herte of Marcus Marcellus
Wel worthy is be drawen in memorie.
He may ensample and mirour be to us;
For, as Valerie writith in a storie,
Whan this Marc obteened had the victorie
By seege leid to men of Siracuse,
As I shal seyn, he hevyly gan muse.
He wente him up on hy upon a tour
Where he beholde mighte al the citee,
And how Fortune had shape him that honour.
With herte tendre than considered he
And hadde of folkes dethes swich pitee
That from wepynge he mighte him nat restreyne;
Al his triumphe was to him but peyne.
Who hadde stonden by him in that tyde
And him avysid on his contenance
Wolde han supposid that that othir syde
Rathere hadde put him to the outrance
Than he hadde had of hem so fair a chance.
O worthy knyght, who shal thy steppes sue?
Thy successour halt him to longe in mue.
O citee, syn Fortune was contrarie
To thee in o part, yit hir gentillesse
Purveied thee a benigne adversarie!
Thanke hire of that, for thy disese is lesse
Falle in the daunger of lambes humblesse
Than be with cruel wolves al tofrete;
A lamb is nat so greedy on hir mete.
Ther nis nothyng, as witnessith a storie,
Makith a knyght so shynyng in renoun,
Whan that he of his foos hath the victorie,
As reewe on him that throwen is adoun,
And of his blood eschue effusioun.
A beestes kynde is, that is wylde and wood,
Victorie nat desyre but the blood.
Also, whan that the kyng of Hermenye
Venquissht was in bataille by Pompeye,
This kyng fil doun unto his foot in hye
And from him caste his diadeeme aweye.
But Pompeyus as blyve of his nobleye
Stirte unto him and up him lifte and hente
And many a word benigne on him despente.
He dide his might him to conforte and qweeme;
And right anoon, withoute any delay,
Upon his heed bad sette his diadeeme
Ageyn; and so was doon, it is no nay.
Whan Cesar Emperour eek on a day
Pompeye saw byforn him led and bownde,
Cesar in teeres salte gan habownde.
Whan Alisaundre, as Valerie hath told,
Was in a tyme in the feeld with his hoost,
An aged knyght of his, for verray cold,
His lyfly might yloren hadde almoost,
So grevous tempest tho fil in that coost.
And whan this worthy kyng this had espyed,
Out of his see he roos and to him hyed;
And by the hand this olde knyght he took,
Confortynge him in his beste maneere,
And ledde him to his tente, as seith the book,
And in his real seege and his chayeere
As blyve him sette. Thus may kynges leere
Distressid knyghtes to helpe and releeve;
To take ensaumple of this it shal naght greeve.
What wondir was it thogh that knyghtes tho
Desyreden so noble a prince serve,
Syn that him lever was for to forgo
His dignitee and hir helthe conserve,
Than his estat keepe and hem suffre sterve?
Yit hope y seen his heir in this province;
And that shal yee be, my good lord the Prince.
Before a juge eek in poynt to be deed,
Of Julius Cesar ther was a knyght
Which, with an hy vois, for to save his heed,
To his lord Cesar cryde alowde right,
Byseechynge him that, of his gracious might,
He wolde him helpe and reewe on his estat;
And Cesar sente him a good advocat.
And unto that this knyght as blyve thus,
On heighte wel that al the peple it herde,
With manly cheere spak to Julius,
His lord, and in this wyse he him answerde:
"Han yee forgote how sharpe it with yow ferde
Whan yee were in the werres of Asie?
Maffeith, your lyf stood there in jupartie;
And advocat ne sente I noon to yow,
But myself putte in prees and for yow faght;
My wowndes beren good witnesse ynow
That I sooth seye, and lest yee leeve it naght,
I shal yow shewe what harm have I caght,
The doute out of your herte for to dryve."
He nakid him and shewid him as blyve.
Of which Cesar ful sore was ashamed,
And in his herte sorwe made and mone;
He heeld himselven worthy to be blamed.
"My freend," he seide, "let me now allone;
Advocat wole I be in my persone
For thee; I am wel holden to do so."
And thus this knyght his deeth he saved fro.
He dredde him, if he nadde thus ywroght,
The peple him wolde han for a prowd man deemed,
And ungentil, and that he cowde noght,
As that it sholde eek have unto hem seemed,
Thanke hem that worthy were to be qweemed.
"What prince," quod he, "peyneth him nat wynne
His knyghtes love, his love is to hem thynne."
Out of pitee growith mercy and spryngith,
For pitelees man can do no mercy;
What prince hem lakkith, nat aright he kyngith.
And for that they been neigheburghs so ny,
To pitee mercy joyne now wole I.
Excellent Prince, have in hem good savour,
And elles al in waast is your labour.
Mercy, aftir the word of Seint Austyn,
Of herte is a verray conpassioun
Of othir mennes harm, and that comth yn
By gifte of God and by remissioun;
As, if injurie or oppressioun
Be doon to us, that gilt forgeve us oghte,
For love of Cryst that by deeth our lyf boghte.
Whoso wrong to him doon wole forgeve,
His synne shal to him forgeven be;
Thogh that he nothyng of his goodes geve,
The bettre part yit of mercy halt he;
Thus fynde I writen of auctoritee;
But fully may ther no man do mercy
But if that he releeve the needy.
Thogh that a man be sobre, chaast, and treewe,
And be with many an hy vertu endowed,
And geve, and nat forgeve, it shal him reewe.
Whereas oure werkes muste been avowed,
The unmerciable shal be disallowed.
Who nat forgeveth, mercy dooth he noon,
And mercilees man mercy shal forgoon.
Mercy Cryst causid to been incarnat,
And humbled Him to take our brethirhede.
God inmortel, reewynge our seek estat,
Mortel becam to pourge our synful dede.
Him lothid nat His precious body sprede
Upon the Crois, this lord benigne and good;
He wroot our chartre of mercy with His blood.
Of Him, His handwerk and His creature,
For to be merciable, aright may lerne.
This lyf present shul but a whyle dure,
And, lastyng it, your mercy nat ne werne,
O worthy Prince, for to God eterne
It ful plesant is; dooth your mercy heere,
For to late is aftir yee go to beere.
Take heede, excellent Prince, of your grauntsyre,
How in his werkes he was merciable.
He that for mercy dyde qwyte his hyre.
He nevere was in al his lyf vengeable,
But ay forgaf the gilty and coupable.
Our lige lord your fadir dooth the same;
Now folwe hem two, my Lord, in Goddes name!
They often hadde greet cause hem to venge,
But hir spirites benigne and peisible
Thoghten that craft unlusty and alenge
And forbaar it; they kneew it unlisible.
To mercy were hir hertes ay flexible;
Forwhy with mercy God shal qwyte hem wel,
Aftir the wordes write in the Gospel.
It is to leeve and deeme, if a kyng shyne
In vertu, that his sone sholde sue
And to his fadres maneeres enclyne
And wikkid tecches and vices eschue.
Thus oghte it be, this to nature is due.
He moot considere of whom he took his kynde,
And folwe his vertu, as men writen fynde.
He moost is lyk to God, as seith Bernard,
That holdith nothyng more precious
Than to be mercyful. It is ful hard
To lakke mercy and been unpitous.
"Mercy wole I," seith our Lord glorious.
He that denyeth God that he wolde have,
God nayte him shal that he wole axe or crave.
Senek seith how the kyng and the ledere
Of bees is prikkelees; he hath right noon
Wherwith to styngen or annoye or dere;
But othir bees prikkes han everichoon.
Nature wolde shee sholde it forgoon
And do no crueltee unto the swarm,
But meekly hem governe and do noon harm.
Of this ensample sholde kynges take,
And princes that han peple for to gye;
For to hem longith it for Goddes sake
To weyve crueltee and tirannye,
And to pitee hir hertes bowe and wrye,
And reule hir peple esyly and faire.
It is kyngly be meek and debonaire.
I rede of a kyng that Pirus was named,
Whan him was told how that men of Tarente
Hadde at a feeste his estat diffamed,
He for the same folkes blyve sente;
And whan they cam, axid to what entente
They of him spak so and so foule ferde;
And oon of hem, as yee shul heere, answerde:
"My Lord, if that the wyn nat faillid hadde,
Al that we spak nere but game and play,
Havynge reward to the wordes badde
That we thoghte have yspoken, in good fay."
The kyng took up a lawghtre and wente his way
And of al that he heeld hem ful excusid;
He seide it was wyn that so hem accusid.
Vengeance in this good lord hadde no stide;
Mercy and humble disposicioun
Dispensid with tho men and grace hem dide,
And thriste undir foot crueltee adoun.
O mighty Prince, this condicioun
To your hynesse is ful accordant,
And unto God almighty right plesant.
Power withouten mercy a kyng torneth
Into a tirant - waar that feendly chek;
For in what man that crueltee sojourneth,
Unto his soule it is an odious spek.
Tho men of God han neithir look ne bek
But if that it be bekkes of manace;
Whereas is mercy, folwith moche grace.
Salomon in his Proverbes expressith,
"Mercy and Trouthe wardeynes been of kynges,
And with justice also," as he witnessith,
"His trone is strengthid." What man that a kyng is,
But if that he amonges othir thynges
Endowid be with alle thise three,
Men seyn he haltith in his hy degree.
A noble and glorious kynde of vengeance is
A knyght to spare whan that he slee may.
Ther was a duc callid Pisistaris,
That a yong doghtir hadde, a fair may,
Which with hir modir walkid on a day,
Nat seith the book whidir ne what to doone,
But thus it shoop, as I shal telle soone.
A yong, fressh, lusty, wel byseyen man
So brente in love, he wende for to deye,
Ravyssht of the beautee of this womman,
This tendre morsel, this doghtir, I seye.
And as this yong man mette hire in the weye,
He at a leep was at hire and hire kiste.
The modir, angry wood whan shee it wiste,
Shee right anoon hir lord the duc besoghte
To putte him to the deeth for his trespas.
He seide, nay, to do that nevere he thoghte.
"Shul we sleen hem that loven us? Allas!
What shul we thanne in the contrarie cas -
That is to seyn, do to oure enemys?"
Thus seide this duc, merciable and wys.
Allas, why was this womman so vengeable?
Certes in that shee lakkid wommanhede.
This lovere had been deed, it is no fable,
If this duc had been lyk to hir in dede;
But mercy him forbad any blood shede;
Shee and pitee weren of oon accord,
And senten pacience unto this lord.
And for as mochil as that pacience
To mercy, as in lyne of blood, atteyneth,
Now wole I do my peyne and diligence
To telle how hir benignitee restreyneth
The fervent hete that the herte peyneth
Wreche cruel to take, and sharp vengeance,
Of that the herte of man feelith grevance.
Gregorie seith, pacience verray
Is of harm doon to man softe souffrance,
And nat be wrooth, by no manere of way,
With him that hath ydoon a man nusance.
Socrates seith, no mannes governance
Is wys but it be by souffrance preeved;
A good man souffreth wrong and is nat meeved.
The kynde of pacience is to susteene
Mightily wronges and hem nevere wreke,
But hem forgeve, and wratthe and irous teene
Out of the herte for to spere and steke;
Hir kynde is nat to lete a word out breke
That harmful is, for herte voide of ire
Hath naght wherwith to sette a tonge afyre.
O pacient, o humble kyng benigne,
O Kyng David, thy pacient meeknesse
Nat meeved was ageyn Semey maligne,
Whos hy malice and crabbid wikkidnesse
Gaf greet encheson to thy worthynesse
To venge thee, but thy benignitee
Forbad thyn hand to kythe crueltee.
As this kyng ones cam to Bahurim,
Out cam this man, malicious Semey,
Sone of Gera, and swich despyt dide him
And to his men as by him wenten they,
Castynge stones unto hem alwey,
That wondir was; for which oon Abusay
Wolde have him slayn, but the kyng seide, "Nay!
"Let him curse aftir the commandement
Of God; whan he seeth myn afflicioun
And my disese and my grevous torment,
He wole for this dayes malicioun,
Par aventure, do me sum guerdoun."
Thus undirstonde I write is in the Bible,
Which is a book autentik and credible.
The pacience of Job men may nat hyde;
The commun vois wole algate it bywreye.
And Alisaundre, whos fame is sprad ful wyde,
Ful pacient was, as the bookes seye.
A sad, wys knyght of his, with lokkes greye,
Grucchynge ageyn his flesshly lustes, seide
Unto his lord and thus he him upbreide:
"O Alisaundre, it is uncovenable
Thee for to have of peple regiment
Syn thy lust bestial and miserable
Hath qweynt thy reson and entendement
So ferfoorth that the hete violent
Of leccherie is in thee, Lord and Syre.
Repreef, I drede, qwyte shal thyn hyre.
"Fy, shamelees, unworthy Governour!"
And whan the knyghtes tale was al endid,
The kyng answerde: "I knowe myn errour;"
And paciently seide, "I have offendid,
I woot it wel, and it shal been amendid."
A man also to Julius Cesar ones
Crabbidly seide and shrewdly for the nones,
And among othir wordes that he speek:
"Julius," quod he, "make it nat so tow,
For of thy birthe art thow nat worth a leek.
Whens that thow cam men knowen wel ynow;
Weenest thow nat that I can tellen how
Thy fadir was a bakere? O let be,
Ne make it nat so qweynte, I preye thee."
Smylynge unto him spak this emperour:
"Whethir supposist thow bet that noblesse
Begynne in me, or noblesse and honour
Deffaille in thee?" This question, I gesse,
Was in swich cas but answer of softnesse;
For that was seid in repreef of his name,
His pacience, as who seith, took in game.
To the chivalrous, worthy Scipio
Of Affrik also speek ones a wight
And seide, in armes durste he but smal do;
He faght but smal whan he cam to the fight.
And paciently answerde he anoon right:
"My modir me baar, a chyld feeble and smal,
And foorth me broghte, and no fightere at al."
Senek seith how the kyng Antigone
Herde ones folk speke of him wikkidly,
For ther nas but a curtyn, as seith he,
Twixt him and hem; and whan his tyme he sy,
Asyde he drow the curtyn sodeynly
And seide: "Gooth hens lest the kyng yow heere,
For the curtyn hath herd al your mateere."
Of Duk Pisistaris eek wole I telle.
He hadde a freend, Arispus was his name,
Which ones hastily with wordes felle
Rebukid so this duc that it was shame
To heeren it; and yit with sorwe and grame
He in despyt spette in this dukes face,
And he therto no word spak in that place.
He hadde him so in port and word and cheere
Right as him had be do no vilenye,
But lookid foorth in a freendly maneere.
Now ther were in this dukes conpaignie
His sones two, that buskid hem in hye
To this Arispus and wolden ful fayn,
Nad hir fadir hem let, have him yslayn.
The nexte day aftir, this Arispus
To take gan consideracioun
How that he to the duc misbaar him thus,
And made more waymentacioun
Than I can make of nominacioun;
He wolde han slayn himself, it is no lees,
But that this duc broghte al to reste and pees.
Whan he kneew how it with Arispus stood,
He dressid him to him, and that as swythe,
And bad him to be glad of cheere and mood.
He seide and swoor unto him ofte sythe:
"As freendly wole I be and stande as ny the
As I dide evere." And thus his pacience
And meeknesse hath qwenchid al this offense.
Salomon seith, in him is sapience
That is endowid with benigne humblesse.
Grace of the Holy Goost no residence
Holdith in that man that lakkith meeknesse.
God took upon Him humble buxumnesse
Whan He Him wrappid in our mortel rynde:
That oghte a mirour be to al mankynde.
Plesant to God was the virginitee
Of His modir, but verray God and man
Conceyved was thurgh the humilitee
Which He byheeld in that blessid womman.
O humble maide, who is it that can
The debonaire humblesse tellen al
Restynge in thy clennesse virginal?
Thogh that the humble were a foul habyt,
Yit in vertues glorious is he;
But the prowd man stant in anothir plyt;
Thogh his array be fair and fressh to se,
His deedes and his werkis foule be.
What hy estat that a man represente,
Humble to be let him sette his entente.
Humilitee verray, as seith Cesarie,
May nevere be withouten charitee,
And shee is a vertu moost necessarie;
Amonges alle vertues that be,
Shee on hem alle obteeneth dignitee.
They fro the regne of God hemself dyvyde
That charitee weyven and caste asyde.
Right as a man ne may nat thidir go
Where he purposith him but if a way
Be thidirward, Seint Anselm seith, right so
Withouten charitee men go ne may
Aright unto Godward; men mowen ay
Doon as hem list if they been charitable,
But lakkynge it, is nothyng profitable.
Oonly keepyng of charitee us preeveth
That we disciples been of God almighty.
What thyng it be that harmeth man or greeveth,
By goodnesse overcome it paciently.
No seint to hevene cometh, as rede I,
But by keepyng of pacience; and how
Men may it leere wole I shewe yow.
Take heede how, whan that Cryst our Sauveour
Was bobbid and His visage al byspet,
And greet despyt doon Him and deshonour,
Bownden and scourgid and grevously bet,
Crowned with thorn, nayled to the gibet;
Yit for al this torment, no word He speek,
So was He pacient, benigne, and meek.
And syn our lord God was of swich souffrance,
Thanne is it to his creature shame
On greef to him doon take any vengeance.
Man oghte rather sorwe for the blame
That God shal konne him that hath doon the grame
Than for the harm that the greeved hath hent;
So dooth the charitable and pacient.
To chastitee purpose y now to haaste,
Which covenable is and convenient
Unto a kyng for to savoure and taaste.
What prince that with unclennesse is brent,
And therin settith his lust and talent,
No parfyt dede or werk him folwe may.
Mochil is herte chaast to Goddes pay.
Right as the persone of a prince outward
Honured is with clothes precious,
So oghte his herte clothid been inward
With vertu, and him kythe vertuous.
Fressh apparaille and herte leccherous
Unsittyngly been in a prince joynt -
Namely in a Cristen kyng enoynt.
In as mochil as dignitee of kyng
Excedith othir folk in reverence,
The more him oghte peyne him, lest al thyng
Othir folk passe in vertuous excellence.
Honour nat elles is in existence
Than reverence geven in witnesse
Of vertu, as the scriptures expresse.
Honour which was goten vertuously
Ne was nat first by dignitee purchaced,
As that Boece tellith expressly,
But dignitees honour was embraced
With vertu; dignitee had been unlaced
And ungirt of honour nad vertu be,
For vertu hath hir propre dignitee.
Aristotle conseillid Alisaundre
To leccherie he nat enclyne sholde,
For it is hogges lyf, which were esclaundre
To him if he tho weyes take wolde
That beestes resonlees usen and holde;
For of body it is destruccioun,
And eek of al vertu corrupcioun.
Syn they that nat were of Cristen bapteeme
Conseillid men eschue leccherie,
Than oghte us Cristen men that vice fleeme
And swiche lustes in us mortifie.
Whoso entendith into blisse stye,
That fyry sparcle algate he muste qwenche
And lustes leve of lady and of wenche.
The Scripture seith, no fornicatour
The regne of Cryst and God shal enherite;
It seith eek that him and the advoutour
God deeme shal; He can hir labour qwyte
Ful sharply that in tho tweyne delyte;
And so He wole but correccioun
Be mannes sheeld and his proteccioun.
Affrican Scipio, that noble knyght,
Whan he was twenti yeer and four of age,
And by prowesse and by manhode and might
Cartagiens put hadde into servage,
Ther was a mayde sent him in hostage,
Of yeeres rype ynow, and of beautee
Moost excellent that men mighte owhere see.
And whan this worthy yong prince honurable
This womman sy, of here he took good yeeme,
Thynkynge that shee was of beautee able
The worthyeste on lyve for to qweeme,
And in him multiplied thoghtes breeme.
But nathelees, for al his bysy thoght,
Enquere he gan if shee wyf were or noght.
Shee trouthid was to Judibal, men seide,
A lord of that citee; and Scipio
On a ministre of his the charge leide
For hir fadir and modir blyve go.
They at his heeste cam unto him tho,
And in hir clene virginal estat
Restored he this maide inviolat.
The gold eek that for hir redempcioun
Purveied was, forgaf he uttirly,
In help and encrees and promocioun
Of hir wedlok; and whan Judibal sy
And kneew how Scipio thus noblely
Demened him, he was ful wel apayed
Of that he grucchid first and was affrayed.
He wente unto th'estates of the toun
And tolde hem al the cas as it befil;
And they this lord gaf laude and hy renoun
For that; and alle with oon herte and wil
Submittid hem to this prince gentil.
Thus herte chaast and tendre gentillesse
Conquereth hertes rather than duresse.
Or Marcus Marcellus had the citee
Of Ciracuse taken or ynome,
He leet do crye amonges his meynee
That, whan the citee he had overcome
And his folk therin entred were and come,
Noon be so hardy the wommen oppresse,
Ne touche hem by no way of unclennesse.
Ther was also a seemly, fressh yong man
To whom nature swich favour had lent
Of shap and beautee, that ther nas womman
That ones had a look on him despent
But that hir herte gaf flesshly consent;
And nathelees, eschued he the taast
Of unclennesse and kepte his body chaast.
By toknes kneew he hir unclene entente,
And with his nayles cracchid he his face,
And scocchid it with knyves and torente,
And it so wondirfully gan difface
That his beautee refusid hadde hir place.
Al this dide he hir hertes to remue
From him and make hem unclennesse eschue.
Jerom tellith ageyn Jovynyan,
A fair womman, a mayde clept Ulie,
Yweddid was unto an aged man,
A Romayn smiten with the palesie;
But shee in chastitee was set so hie
That an ensaumple verraily was shee
To alle tho that loved chastitee.
Hir housbonde herde ones an enemy
Which that he hadde, speke in his repreef,
That his breeth stank as that he stood him by;
Wherof he took greet hevynesse and greef.
He gooth hoom to his wyf and this mescheef
Ful hevyly to hir he gan conpleyne,
And thus of hire he gan to axe and freyne:
"Why wyf," quod he, "han yee nat, or this tyme,
Ywarned me how that it with me stood?"
"Sire, it was nat," quod shee, "espied by me.
I heeld your breeth ay also soote and good
As othir mennes been; I undirstood
Noon othir ne yit do, in soothfastnesse."
Ful fewe men had shee kist, as I gesse!
Shee hyly was to preise and to commende,
That nat ne kneew by othir mennes mowthis
Hir makes vice; it was al wel shee wende.
To fynde many swiche ful unkouthe is:
Lat us awayte wel whan the wynd south is
And north at ones, blowynge on the sky,
And fynde swich an heep than hardily.
Plato his patrimoyne and his contree
Lefte and forsook and dwelte in wyldernesse
For to restreyne flesshly nycetee;
And his disciples loved so clennesse,
And for to fallen hadden swich gastnesse,
Hir yen they out of hir heedes brente
Lest sighte of hem spotte mighte hir entente.
Demostenes his handes ones putte
In a wommannes bosom japyngly,
Of face fair but of hir body a slutte.
"With yow to dele," seide he, "what shal I
Yow geve?" "Fourty pens," quod shee, "soothly."
He seide nay, so deere he bye nolde
A thyng for which that him repente sholde.
I fynde how two doghtres of a duchesse,
The flesshly touches of men for to flee
Whan men of Ungarie hem wolde oppresse,
In conservynge of hir virginitee,
They hem purveied a good sotiltee:
They chekenes flessh putte undirnethe hir pappes,
Hem to deffende from unclenly happes.
Beholde of wommen heer a noble wyle.
In short avisament, who can do bet?
By that this flessh thus hadde leyn a whyle
And that it was ychaufed wel and het,
It stank so foule that it hath ylet
Tho men, that weery they were of hir pray
And forsook the wommen and wente hir way.
O wommanhode! In thee regneth vertu
So excellent that to feeble is my wit
To expresse it, wherfore I am eschu
To medle or make a long sermoun of it.
Sum mannes mowth yit wolde I were yshit
That vice of wommen sparith nat bywreye,
For alle soothes been nat for to seye.
But for to talke foorth of continence
Or chastitee: whoso chaast lyve shal
Moot scourge his flesshly lust with abstinence;
Thriste him adoun, geve him no place at al.
Metes and drynkes make a soule thral
If the body be reuled by excesse;
Forthy it needith take of hem the lesse.
Excesse of mete and drynke is wombes freend,
And wombe is next to our membres pryvee.
Glotonye is ful plesant to the feend;
To leccherie redy path is shee.
The feend lyth in awayt of our freeltee
And stireth man to drynkes delicat
To make ageynes chastitee debat.
A man sholde ete and drynke in swich a wyse
As may be to his helthes susteenynge,
Aftir the doctrine of Senek the wyse.
Sum man drynkith the wyn to his weenynge
Whan he drynkith his wit. More is preysynge
And honurable a man conpleyne on thrist
Than dronken be whan he the cuppe hath kist.
Thus seide Jerom unto a virgyne:
"O doghtir, syn th'apostle sore dredde
Lust of his flessh and dide his body pyne
And heeld it lowe and symplely it fedde,
Wherthurgh the vice of unclennesse he fledde,
Of continence how maistow sikir be
Of foode delicat that hast plentee,
"And specially now in thy youthes hete?"
For whoso wilneth to be continent,
Many a lust superflu moot he lete
And likerous; by mesure his talent
Mesure he moot. Whan reson is regent
Of man, than regneth no delicacie;
Reson a man deffendith fro folie.
The wynes delicat and sweete and stronge
Causen ful many an inconvenience;
If that a man outrageously hem fonge,
They birien wit and forbeeden silence
Of conseil; they outrayen pacience;
They kyndlen ire and fyren leccherie,
And causen bothe body and soule die.
And trewely, it is ful perillous
Unto a prince which that hath a land
In governance, in that be vicious;
It needith him take heede unto his hand
That that vice him encombre nat; for and
It do, he shal nat regne but a throwe.
Ful many a man hath excesse overthrowe.
Of Babiloyne the kyng Baltasar
Nat hadde been ypryved of his lyf
If he of dronkenesse hadde be war;
But for that he therin was deffectyf,
It of his deeth was verray causatyf;
By nyghtirtale he slayn was by Kyng Darie;
Thus paith glotoun excesse hir salarie.
Thurgh dronkenesse how took his deeth Nabal
And how slow Tholomé also Symoun?
Allas, that drynke so man serve shal!
How leide Lothes doghtres hem adoun
By hir fadir? Whan his discrecioun
Was dreynt with wyn, he with hem flesshly delte,
And therof nothyng ne wiste ne felte.
How was eek Oloferne by Judith
The womman slayn but thurgh his dronkenesse?
What prince it be that spottid is therwith,
His welthe hath but a brotil stablenesse.
Of swiche stories mo wolde I expresse,
But for I nat ne can, I lete hem passe;
I am as lewde and dul as is an asse.
With litil foode content is nature,
And bet the body farith with a lyte
Than whan it charged is out of mesure.
Looke what thyng may the body profyte
And the soule in the same shal delyte;
What thyng that it distemprith and disesith,
The soule it hurtith, for it God displesith.
Wratthe the body of man inward fretith,
And God therwith displesid is ful sore;
Envye also of God and man hir getith
Lyk thank and ese and shal do everemore;
And leccherie, as techith smertes lore,
The body waastith and the soule greeveth,
And foode delicat therto man meeveth.
Beholde also, whan that the paunche is ful,
A fume clymbith up into the heed
And makith a man al lustlees and dul;
He wexith hevy as a pece of leed.
Whoso that thanne wolde geve him reed
To looke in a book of devocioun,
I trowe in ydil were his mocioun.
But consaille him to trotte unto the wyn
And, for al his excesse and his outrage,
He therto wole assente wel afyn,
And there wole he outen his langage,
And do to Bachus and Venus homage,
For noon of hem two can be wel from othir;
They love as wel as dooth suster and brothir.
And aftir moot he rowne with a pilwe
His lyflees resons there to despende.
We beestes resonable, allas, why wole we
Ageyn resoun werreye and hir offende?
O goode God, Thy grace to us sende
That we may flee swich superfluitee
And al thyng that is fo to chastitee.
De regis magnanimitate
Of magnanimitee now wole I trete,
That is to seyn, strong herte or greet corage
Which in knyghthode hath stablisshid hir sete.
Yee, gracious Prince, of blood and of lynage
Descendid been to have it in usage.
Mars hath been ay freend to your worthy lyne;
Yee moot of kynde to manhode enclyne.
He that is strong of corage and of herte,
If he lordshipes have or greet richesse,
Or that Fortunes styng him overthwerte,
Is alway oon in welthe and in distresse;
He lucre and los weyeth in evennesse;
He settith litil by good temporel;
How the world shape, he takith it ay wel.
But for to speke of corage of a kyng,
He of his peple owith be so cheer
That hir profyt he moot for anythyng
Promote with his might and his poweer;
And for his reme and hem, take him so neer
That unto the perilles of bataille
He moot him putte, and in hem travaille,
And in deffense of Holy Chirche also,
And for our feith putte him in jupartie;
Othir causes been ther but fewe mo
Why a kyng oghte to bataille him hye
And in tho causes drede him nat to dye,
But kythe him a good knyght among his foos -
Thus wonne is magnanimitees loos.
Right as we seen by reson and nature
Part of mannes body deffendith al,
As an arm puttith him in aventure
For the body that nat perisshe it shal,
Right so a kynges cheertee special,
If he God love and his peple and his land,
Whan neede is, moot deffende hem with his hand.
Thurgh grete emprises wonne is hy renoun;
Renoun is callid glorie and honour.
Magnanimus hath this condicioun,
That in bataille, how sharp that be the stour,
Him lever is to suffre dethes shour
Than cowardly and shamefully flee,
So manly of corage and herte is he.
He medleth nevere but of thynges grete
And hye and vertuous; he nevere is meeved
With smale thynges, as the bookes trete;
And swich a drede hath for to be repreeved
That, unto thyng that may be knowe or preeved
For villenous or foul or repreevable,
He nevere obeyeth, this knyght honurable.
I have yred of oon clept Coadrus
That was prince of the oost of Athenyens,
How in the feeld a lawe maad was thus
Twixt his oost and hem of Polipolens:
With triumphe sholde that part go thens
Whos duc or prince were unarmed slaw
In habyt strange - lo! swich was the lawe.
Him lever was himselven for to dye
And his men lyve, than see hem bystad
So streite that by violent maistrie
His foos hadde hem venquissht or overlad.
Adayes now is noon swich cheertee had;
Algates I ne can nat seen it usid;
Knyghtes been looth therof to been accusid.
O worthy Prince, I truste in your manhode
Medled with prudence and discrecioun,
That yee shul make many a knyghtly rode
And the pryde of oure foos thristen adoun.
Manhode and wit conqueren hy renoun,
And whoso lakkith outhir of the tweyne
Of armes wantith the brydil and reyne.
Or the ordre of knyghthode be receyved,
Ful needful is a man to be prudent,
Elles that oost may lightly be deceyved
That is unto his governance ybent.
Presumpcioun is disobedient
Alday and by wysdam nat wole him gye;
Al justifieth his obstinacie.
Ofte in batailles hath be seen or this
A syde souffred hath disconfiture
Which an unwys heed gyed hath amis.
What knyght on him takith that charge or cure,
If he in knyghtly honour shal endure,
Him oghte endowid been of sapience,
And have in armes greet experience.
Experience and art in a bataille,
Of the prudent knyght, more may profyte
Than hardynesse or force may availle
Of him that therof knowith naght or lyte.
Hardynesse in effect nat worth a myte
Is to victorious conclusioun,
But with him medle aart, wit, and resoun.
Whan reuled wit and manly hardynesse
Been knyt togidere as yok of mariage,
Ther folwith of victorie the swetnesse;
For to sette on him whettith his corage,
And wit restreyne his wil can and asswage
In tyme due and in covenable;
And thus tho two joynt been ful profitable.
But be a knyght wys or corageous,
Or have hem bothe at ones at his lust,
If that his herte of good be desyrous,
On his manhode is ther but lytil trust.
God graunte knyghtes rubbe away the rust
Of covetyse if it hir hertes cancre,
And graunte hem picche in souffissance hir ancre.
Quod rex non [de]bet felicitatem suam ponere in divitiis
Now for as moche as magnanimitee
May no foot holde if that the herte of man
Greetly unto richesse enclyned be,
Than is the beste reed that I see can,
A kyng therein delyte him nat; for whan
His herte is in that vice ficchid hye,
Smal prowesse in him wole it signifie.
And if a kynges honour shal be qweynt
With a foul and a wrecchid covetyse,
His peples trust in him shal be ful feynt;
A kyng may nat governe him in that wyse.
The coveitous may do no greet empryse,
For whan his herte lurkith in his cofre,
His body to bataille he dar nat profre.
If that a kyng sette his felicitee
Principally on richesse and moneye,
His peple it torneth to adversitee,
For he ne rekkith in what wyse or weye
He pile hem. Allas, that kynges nobleye
Torne sholde into style of tirannye!
Allas the peril, harm, and vilenye!
God I byseeche your herte enlumyne,
Gracious Prince, that the feend our fo
No power have so your herte myne,
But of His grace keepe yow therfro,
And graunte yow to governe yow so
As moost holsum is for body and soule;
That desyre I, by God and by Seint Poule.
Whan that Marcus Curcius, a Romeyn,
Unto the Beneventans seege leide,
For he was poore, as that they herde seyn,
They a greet somme of gold him sente and preide
Withdrawe his seege; and he answerde and seide:
"To hem retorneth that yow hidir sente
And thus to hem declarith myn entente:
"Seye hem, Marcus Curcius lever is
Ryche men have at his commandement
Than to be ryche himself - fortelle hem this;
He may with gold nat be corrupt ne blent.
Of force of men eek they been inpotent
To venquisshe him, for there hir aart shal faille;
Hir blynde profers shal hem nat availle."
To Alisaundre, as I shal tellen heere,
A knyght which was unto him special
Thus spak and blamed him in this maneere:
He seide, "If oure goddes thy body smal
To thy greedy desir had maad egal,
Al the world hadde nat be souffissant
To han receyved so large a geant;
"For with thy right hond thow the orient
Sholdest han touchid - I am seur of that,
And with thy lyft hond eek the occident.
Now syn that thy body answerith nat
Unto thy wil, what may I seye, what?
Outhir thow art a man, or god, or noght;
Mochil of thee mervaille I in my thoght.
"If thow be god, thow folwe muste his trace
And nat men of hir good robbe or byreve,
But hem releeve and do hem ese and grace;
If thow be man, considere eek, by thy leeve,
Thow art mortel - thow maist be deed or eeve.
If thow be nothyng, thee putte out of mynde
As he that is of no nature or kynde.
"Ther is noon hy estat so sad and stable,
Remembre wel, let it nat be forgete,
But he to falle in peril is ful able.
By deeth a leon maad is briddes mete,
And beestes also his flessh gnawe and frete."
The answere of the kyng nat have I herd;
My book nat tellith how he was answerd.
Senek seith, the poore Diogenes
Kyng Alisaundre in richesse paste,
For he ne mighte, as he seith doutelees,
Geve him so mochil gold ne on him caste
As he refuse wolde. O, at the laste
Men thynke shuln they to mochil han had,
And of this worldes muk be ful unglad.
Desyr of good a kyng moot leye apaart
And peyne him to purchace him a good fame;
Therin lat him laboure and doon his aart;
Ther is nothyng unto a worthy name.
And if a kyng it lakke, it were his shame,
And shame is contrarie unto worthynesse;
Good loos disserved is grettest richesse.
And for largesse wynneth good renoun,
Thereof now thynke I trete a litil stownde.
A prince and kyng of al a regioun
Moot avarice thriste adoun to grownde.
To him that lyth in helle deepe ybownde,
Thee, avarice, bytake I to keepe.
Thow pynepeny, there ay moot thow sleepe!
Gold wolde of fals enprisonyng a writ
Sue ageyn thee if he at large were,
But he so faste is in thy cofre shit
He may nat out. O fals enprisonere!
Largesse wolde be with sheeld and spere
Evene in thy berd if he brak out tomorwe,
And for his sake do thee care and sorwe.
Thow to largesse doost ful mochil wrong
That hast hir servant undir thy servage;
On thee and nat on hire is it along
That gold is let to goon on hir message.
Shee hath him sent in many a viage
Or this, and that was the commun profyt,
The which to lette is evere thy delyt.
Largesse oonly nat list gold servant be
Unto hirself, but the peple shee wolde
Hadde as good part of hir service as she.
To hire is al the commun peple yholde,
But thow makist the peples hertes colde;
Thow sleest an heep which that shee wolde save;
Thow no wight helpist thogh he thyn help crave.
Me list no more speke of thee this tyme,
But of myn helply lady sovereyne,
Largesse, my lady, now wole I ryme;
And aftirward, of thy cursid careyne
I speke shal; nat o word wole I feyne,
But as scriptures treten of thee, wrecche,
I touche shal - the feend thee hennes fecche!
De virtute largitatis et de vitio prodigalitatis
Aristotle of largesse tellith this:
Who vertuously large list to be,
Considere first of what power he is
And eek the tymes of necessitee,
And as the men disserven, so be free;
Geve in mesure unto the indigent
And the worthy, and that is wel despent;
And who dooth othirwyse in his gevynge
Largesses reule passith and excedith;
He neithir worthy is thank ne preysynge
That to him that no neede hath giftes bedith.
Of verray folie also it procedith
To geve the unworthy, for that cost
Al misdespendid is, for it is lost.
And he that despendith out of mesure
Shal taaste anoon povertes bittirnesse;
Fool largesse is therto a verray lure.
Of him also he berith the liknesse
That on himself, as the book can witnesse,
Victorie geveth to his enemys;
And he that so despendith is nat wys.
Largesse stant nat in mochil gevynge,
But it is aftir the wil and the might
Of him that geveth aftir his havynge;
For it may sumtyme happe that a wight
Which of richesse berith nat but light
Geveth but smal and yit largere is he
Than he that geveth gretter quantitee.
Aftir his good man may geve and despende
Whereas neede is, but he that al despendith
And waastith shal himselven first offende;
Fool largesse alday wrecchidly endith.
Many a man hir foul outrage shendith;
But of largesse is good the governance;
Bothe to God and man it is plesance.
Evene as a mannes blood is norisshynge
To his body if it corrupt nat be,
So been richesses to soules feedynge
Holsum if they, whereas necessitee
Axith, despent been, and also if he
Which that hem wan, gat hem with rightwisnesse;
For hevene and helle is gote by richesse.
A crookid hors nevere is the bet entecchid
Althogh his brydil glistre of gold and shyne;
Right so a man that vicious is and wrecchid,
And his richesses gote hath of rapyne,
And also evele as man can ymagyne,
Despendith hem, nat for hem the bet is,
But mochil wers; good is take heede of this.
He that his flessh despendith and his blood,
My Lord, in your service, him giftes beede;
There is largesse mesurable good.
A kyng so bownde is, he moot do so neede.
Service unqwit and murdre, it is no dreede,
As clerkes writen, and desheritance,
Byfore almighty God axen vengeance.
Of fool largesse wole I talke a space,
How it befil, y not in what contree,
But ther was oon named John of Canace,
A ryche man, and two doghtres had he,
That to two worthy men of a citee
He wedde leet, and there was gladnesse
And revel more than I can expresse.
The fadir his doghtres and hir housbondes
Loved ful wel and hadde hem leef and deere;
Tyme to tyme he gaf hem with his hondes
Of his good passyngly, and they swich cheere
Him made and were of so plesant maneere
That he ne wiste how be bettre at ese,
They cowden him so wel cherice and plese;
For he as mochil hauntid in partie
Hir hous as that he dide his owne hous.
They heeld him up so with hir flaterie
That of despenses he was outrageous,
And of his good they were ay desirous.
Al that they axid hadden they reedy;
They evere weren upon him greedy.
This sely man continued his outrage
Til al his goode was disshid and goon;
And whan they felte his despenses asswage,
They wax unkynde unto him anoon,
For aftir had he cherisshynge noon.
They weery weren of his conpaignie;
And he was wys and shoop a remedie.
He to a marchant gooth of his notice
Which that his trusty freend had been ful yore,
Byseechynge him that he wolde him chevice
Of ten thousand pound no lenger ne more
Than dayes thre, and he wolde it restore
At his day. This was doon; the somme he hente
And to his owne hous therwith he wente.
And on the morwe preide he to souper
His sones bothe and his doghtres also;
They to him cam withoute any daungere.
How that they ferden, lat I passe and go;
They ferden wel, withouten wordes mo.
To his konnynge he greet desport hem made;
He dide his might to cheere hem and to glade.
Aftir souper, whan they hir tyme sy,
They took hir leeve and hoom they wolde algate;
And he answerde and seide hem sikirly:
"This nyght yee shul nat passe out of the gate;
Your hous is fer and it is dirk and late;
Nevene it nat for it shal nat betyde."
And so al nyght he made hem for to abyde.
The fadir logged hem of sly purpoos
In a chambre next unto his joynynge,
For betwixt hem nas ther but a parcloos
Of bord nat but of an hoomly makynge,
Thurghout the which at many a chynnynge
In eche chambre they mighten beholde
And see what othir diden if they wolde.
I can nat seyn how they slepten that nyght,
Also it longith nat to my mateere;
But on the morwe at the brood day light
The fadir roos, and for they sholden heere
What that he dide, in a boistous maneere
Unto his chiste, which thre lokkes hadde,
He wente, and thereat wrythed he ful sadde.
And whan it was yopned and unshit,
The baggid gold by the marchant him lent
He hath uncofred, and streight foorth with it
Unto his beddes feet goon is and went.
What dooth thanne this fel man and prudent
But out this gold on a tapyt hath shot,
That in the bagges lefte ther no grot.
And al this dide he nat but for a wyle,
As that yee shul wel knowen aftirward;
He shoop his sones and doghtres begyle.
His noyse made hem dressen hem upward;
They caste hir eres to his chambreward
And herde of gold the russhynge and the soun
As that he rudely threew hem adoun;
And to the parcloos they hem haaste and hye
To wite and knowe what hir fadir wroghte.
In at the chynes of the bord they prye
And sy how he among the nobles soghte
If deffectyf were any, as hem thoghte.
And on his nayle he threew hem ofte and caste,
And bagged hem and cofred at the laste;
And opneth his dore and doun gooth his wey.
And aftir blyve out of hir bed they ryse
And cam doun eek. Hir fadir thanken they
Of his good cheere in hire beste wyse -
And al was for the goldes covetyse;
And to goon hoom they axen of him leve;
They been departed and they there him leve.
Walkynge homward, they janglid faste and speek
Of the gold which they sy hir fadir have.
Oon seide, "I wondre theron;" "And I eek,"
Quod anothir, "for also God me save,
Yistirday, thogh I sholde into my grave
Han crept, I durste on it han leid my lyf
That gold with him nat hadde be so ryf."
Now lat hem muse on that what so hem liste,
And to hir fadir now wole I me dresse.
He al this gold takith out of his chiste
And to the marchant paide it more and lesse,
Thankynge him often of his kyndenesse;
And thennes gooth he hoom unto his mete,
And to his sones hous whan he hadde ete.
Whan he cam thidir, they made of him more
Than that they weren wont by many fold;
So greet desport they made him nat ful yore.
"Fadir," quod they, "this is your owne houshold;
In feith ther is nothyng withynne oure hold
But it shal be at your commandement.
Wolde God that yee were of oure assent;
"Thanne we sholden ay togidere dwelle."
Al what they menten wiste he wel ynow.
"Sones and doghtres," quod he, "sooth to telle,
My wil is good also to be with yow -
How sholde I meryer be nat woot I how
Than with yow for to be continuel ?
Your conpaignie lykith me ful wel."
Now shoop it so they heeld hous alle in feere
Sauf the fadir, and as they lowgh and pleide,
His doghtres bothe with lawhynge cheere
Unto hir fadir spak and thus they seide,
And to assoille hir question, him preide:
"Now, goode fadir, how mochil moneye
In your strong bownden chiste is, we yow preye?"
"Ten thousand pounde," he seide, and lyed lowde;
"I tolde hem," quod he, "nat ful longe ago,
And that as redily as that I cowde.
If yee wole aftir this do to me so
As yee han doon beforn, thanne alle tho
I in my testament dispose shal
For your profyt - youres it shal been al."
Aftir this day they alle in oon hous were
Til the day cam of the fadres dyynge.
Good mete and drynke and clothes for to were
He hadde and paide naght to his endynge.
Whan he sy the tyme of his departynge,
His sones and his doghtres dide he calle
And in this wyse he spak unto hem alle:
"Nat purpose I make othir testament
But of that is in my strong chiste bownde;
And right anoon, or I be hennes hent,
An hundred pounde of nobles goode and rownde
Takith to prechours - tarieth it no stownde;
An hundred pounde eek to the freeres greye,
And Carmes fifty - tarie it nat, I seye.
"And whan I biried am, of hem the keyes
Of my chiste takith, for they hem keepe.
By every keye writen been the weyes
Of my wil." This gold was nat suffred sleepe.
It was anoon dalt, for hir hertes deepe
Stak in his bownden cofre, and al hir hope
Was goode bagges therin for to grope.
To every chirche and reclus of the toun
Bad hem eek of gold geve a quantitee.
Al as he bad they weren prest and boun
And dide it blyve; but so moot I thee,
Ful slyly he deceyved this meynee -
His sones and his doghtres bothe, I meene;
Hir berdes shaved he right smoothe and cleene.
Whan he was deed and his exequies do,
Solempnely they to the freres yide
And bad tho keyes delivre hem unto;
And as that they hem beden, so they dide.
Tho joieful sones dresse hem to the stide
Whereas this stronge bownden chiste stood,
But or they twynned thens they pekkid mood.
They opneden the chiste and fond right noght
But a passyngly greet sergeantes mace
In which ther gayly maad was and ywroght
This same scripture: "I, John of Canace,
Make swich testament heere in this place:
Who berith charge of othir men and is
Of hem despysid, slayn be he with this."
Amonges folies alle is noon, I leeve,
More than man his good ful largely
Despende in hope men wole him releeve
Whan his good is despendid uttirly;
The indigent men setten nothyng by.
I, Hoccleve, in swich cas am gilty; this me touchith.
So seith povert, which on fool large him vouchith.
For thogh I nevere were of hy degree,
Ne hadde mochil good ne greet richesse,
Yit hath the vice of prodigalitee
Smerted me sore and doon me hevynesse.
He that but lytil hath may doon excesse
In his degree as wel as may the ryche,
Thogh hir despenses weye nat ylyche.
So have I plukkid at my purses strynges
And maad hem ofte for to gape and gane
That his smal stuf hath take him to his wynges,
And hath ysworn to be my welthes bane
But if releef away my sorwe plane;
And whens it come shal, can I nat gesse,
My Lord, but it proceede of your hynesse.
I me repente of my misreuled lyf;
Wherfore, in the way of sauvacioun
I hope I be; my dotage excessyf
Hath put me to swich castigacioun
That indigence hath dominacioun
On me. O, hadde I help now, wolde I thryve;
And so ne dide I nevere yit my lyve.
My yeerly guerdoun, myn annuitee,
That was me grauntid for my long labour,
Is al behynde - I may nat payed be;
Which causith me to lyven in langour.
O, liberal Prince, ensample of honour,
Unto your grace lyke it to promoote
My poore estat, and to my wo beeth boote.
And worthy Prince, at Crystes reverence,
Herkneth what I shal seyn and beeth nat greeved,
But lat me stande in your benevolence;
For if myn hertes wil wist were and preeved
How yow to love it stired is and meeved,
Yee sholden knowe I your honour and welthe
Thriste and desyre, and eek your soules helthe.
In al my book yee shul nat see ne fynde
That I youre deedes lakke or hem dispreise;
But for I wolde that yee hadde in mynde
Swich thyng as your renoun mighte up areise,
I wryte as my symple conceit may peise.
And trustith wel, al that my penne seith
Procedith of good herte and treewe in feith.
What kyng that dooth more excessyf despenses
Than his land may to souffyse or atteyne
Shal be destroyed aftir the sentences
Of Aristotle; he shal nat flee the peyne.
Fool largesse and avarice, tho tweyne,
If that a kyng eschue and large be,
Rejoise he shal his real dignitee.
How fool largesse a kyng destroye may
As blyve wole I unto yow declare:
Fool largesse geveth so moche away
That it the kynges cofres makith bare,
And thanne awakith poore peples care,
For al that shee despendid hath and waastid
They moot releeve - therto been they haastid.
The tylere with his poore cote and land
That may unnethes gete his sustenance,
And he that naght hath but labour of hand,
Been ofte put unto ful smert nusance.
Good is be waar of Goddes long souffrance;
Thogh he to venge him tarie and be souffrable,
Whan his strook cometh, it is importable.
Nat speke I ageyn eides uttirly -
In sum cas they been good and necessarie;
But whan they goon to custumablely,
The peple it makith for to curse and warie;
And if they been despendid in contrarie
Of that they grauntid of the peple were,
The more grucchen they the cost to bere.
The pot so longe to the watir gooth
That hoom it cometh at the laste ybroke;
Whan that the peple with a cheere looth
Hir purs yemptid have and eek hir poke,
Hem thynkith that they over ny been soke.
What harm of that to kynges hath betid,
Scriptures tellen - it may nat been hid.
But Favel nat reportith tho scriptures;
His lordes soules salve he from him hydith;
He bisyeth him so in sly portraytures
That hoomly trouthe nat with him abydith;
The sweete venym of his tonge gydith
His lord unto the valeye of dirknesse
If he governe him by his fikilnesse.
The treewe man, if he may apparceyve
A deffaute in his lord, as othirwhyle
It happith, he his lord it redith weyve
And bit him to vertu him reconsyle.
And yit Favel, the net of fraude and gyle,
The thank hath, and that othir the maugree -
O God, that verray trouthe art for to see!
Who that for drede of any lord or sire
Hydeth the trouthe and nat wole it out seye,
He upon him provokith Goddes ire
For that he more of man than God hath ye.
They that the trouthe of hir hertes bywreye
To lordes and telle hem hir wikkid lyf,
No grace in hem fynden for hir motyf.
But bet for trouthe is to suffre torment
Than richely enhaunced be for glose.
If this lyf heere be nat wel despent,
I woot it wel, I wole it nat suppose,
God wole his regne from us shitte and close.
Heer is the weye to peyne or to blisse;
Whoso wel dooth, of joie he may nat misse.
Eternel God, the blessid Trinitee,
Which that every man of Cristen byleeve
Knowith an undyvydid unitee,
His mercy and his grace kythe and preeve
In yow, my Lord, that so your deedes cheeve
As that your soule, aftir this lyf present,
To hevene blisse up may be take and hent.
De vitio avaritie
Now gawe to the avaricious,
To whom noon habundance may souffyse;
A chynche nevere can be plentevous
Thogh al were his - swich is his covetyse;
To thriste ay aftir more it is his gyse;
He is the swolwe that is nevere ful.
At avarice now have heer a pul!
Shee may, as God forbeede, undo a kyng
Thurgh hir insaciable greedynesse;
Hir herte is set upon noon othir thyng
But how shee may gold hepe. Al in dirknesse
Lurkith the purchas of hir egrenesse;
In bagges undir lok hir gold shee thristith;
Al to the cofre it gooth and al shee chistith.
There is it hid, no sonne it seeth ne moone;
Thogh al the world sterve sholde on a day
For lak of good, nat were it for to doone
To borwe of here; evere is hir answere "Nay!"
That shee naght hath also shee swerith ay.
Hir nature is to keepe and nat despende,
And hir desyr of good ne hath noon ende.
Avarice is a love inmoderat
Richesses temporel for to purchace;
Shee bisyeth hire in everiche estat;
Shee shapith hire, al the world embrace;
Fro the more to the lesse hir trace
To sue studien men, seith Isaye;
And shee the thraldom is of maumetrie.
Shee is a covetyse excessyf
Of othres good, and of hir owne shee
So streit and hard is and so retentyf
That it profyte may in no degree.
O, avaricious, what eilith thee?
The goodes whiche been unto thee lent
Why hydest thow? Ywis, thow wilt be shent.
Weenest thow that thow doost nat wikkidly
That so many a mannes sustenance
Thyself withholdist soul? Yis, hardily,
Thow that of richesse hast greet habundance
And to the needy gevest no pitance,
No lesse offendist thow than he that shakith
Men out of hir good and from hem it takith.
Thus may thy style likned be to thefte:
As a theef in this world is hangid heere
For good which that he of the peple refte,
So shalt thow hange in helle and bye it deere,
But if so be, or thow go to thy beere,
Thow correcte thy greedy appetyt
And of streit keepyng empte thy delyt.
The breed of hungry peple thow withholdist
And shittist up the nakid mennes clooth
That kevere hem sholde. If thow aght of God toldist,
For to do so thow woldest be ful looth.
Al that thow getist, to hid place it gooth;
As many men hir good thow hem byrevest
As thow releeve mightist and it levest.
Whoso that fro the poore mannes cry
Stoppith his eres thogh he lowde crye,
Shal nat be herd; and moreover, rede y,
His dayes shul encrece and multiplye
That avarice hatith - this is no lye.
Werse is nothyng than to love moneye,
As that Ecclesiasticus can seye.
Ambrose seith, "Waar man that thow ne shitte
Withyn thy purs the needy peples hele,
And to the burielles nat committe
The lyf of poore men. "Geve hem and dele
Part of thy good. O, thy bagges unsele;
Opne hem - hir knyttyng al to sore annoyeth;
Thy pyned stuf many a man destroyeth.
Thow seist par cas, "If I no man byreve
His good, what wrong myn owne is it to hyde
And multiplie?" O chynche! By thy leve,
What seist thow is thyn? What was thyn that tyde
Thow cam into this world, thow homicyde?
Thow broghtest naght; clayme no propretee
Of thyng that oghte commune to bee.
Thy talkyng and thy clap is al of eerthe,
And the grownd forthy shal answere thee
For that the love of muk sittith so neer the.
Of him that hath of goodes greet plentee,
Of God and man mochil axid shal be;
Thow shalt be rekned with heereaftir, chynche,
Whereas thow shalt nat at the acountes pynche.
By what title that thow getist thy good,
Thow countest nat the value of a myte;
Thyn herte is everemore on gold so wood
That in nothyng elles canst thow delyte;
Of conscience rekkist thow so lyte,
What goodes that thow getist of rapyne,
Thow hem affermest by good title thyne.
Feith and prowesse leyst thow undir foote
And techist folk to have in hemself pryde,
And crueltee hath caght in thee swich roote
That shee nat slippe may fro thee ne slyde,
And every vertu throwist thow asyde.
O, every prince or kyng moot been eschu,
In al maneere, of thy lym and thy glu.
For elles it is light to undirstonde
To every man that wit can and resoun,
It is nat likly a kyng for to stonde
In his welthe but a litil sesoun;
For avarice may been enchesoun
His peple to destroien and oppresse,
And, as I seide, so may fool largesse.
Fool largesse is a seeknesse curable
Outhir of indigence or elles age.
He that fool large in youthe is, is ful able
In elde to abate it and asswage;
For agid folk been more in the servage
Of avarice than been folk in yowthe,
And what I shal eek seyn herkneth wel nowthe.
Of neede eek may it cured been and helid;
A man may so large despenses make
Til al his good be despendid and delid;
And whan his purs yemptid is and shake,
Thanne begynneth indigence awake,
By which he cured is of the seeknesse
Of prodigalitee or fool largesse.
But avarice, he seith, incurable is;
For ay the more a man therin procedith
And wexith old, so mochil more ywis
He avaricious is; in him naght breedith
But thoght and wo, for ay his herte dreedith
His good to leese; and more for to hepe,
His thoghtes stirten heer and theer and lepe.
Now if the heed of al a regioun,
By whom that al governed is and gyed,
Be of so seekly a condicioun
That it may by no cure be maistried,
Thanne is he to the werse part applied,
And, as the Philosophre seith us to,
The lesse wikke is fool largesse of two.
The Philosophre preeveth avarice
Wel werse than is prodigalitee.
By thre causes he halt it gretter vice:
First, he seith, it is bettre seek to be
Of a seeknesse or an infirmitee
Of which a man may have rekeverynge
Than of swich oon as ther is noon helynge.
The second cause is, prodigalitee
Is more ny to vertu many del
Than avarice, and why yee shul wel see.
He that is liberal nat list so wel
For to receyve any good or catel
As geve, but what man that is fool large
To take and geve, geveth he no charge.
Wherfore he seith, there is no difference
Twixt fool largesse and liberalitee,
Sauf the fool large, of his inprudence
Of his despenses is to dislavee,
And geveth theras oghte nat to be;
And for what cause also and for what skile
He geve shal, noon heede he take wile.
And syn fool large on gold settith his herte
No more than the liberal, than may
Fool large into liberalitee sterte
Lightly now, for vertu is kynges pray;
He avarice eschue moot alway
By cause shee more is contrarious
To vertu than the large outrageous.
The thridde skile is, for a kyng is set
In his reme for his peples releef,
For they sholden for him fare the bet;
But the streit chynche qwenchith nevere greef;
His gold is nevere salve to mescheef;
Oonly to gadere and keepe he him delitith;
But the fool large many a man profitith.
Yit vices been they grete, bothe tweyne.
O worthy Prince, take on yow largesse;
Dooth so, o gracious Lord, for Goddes peyne.
Largesse yput is unto the liknesse
Of vessels whos mowthes han greet wydnesse
And hilde out hir licour habundantly;
Thus seith the Philosophre treewely.
And in as mochil as a welle also,
At the which many folk hir watir fecche,
Needith to han the larger mowth, right so
The largesse of a kyng moot ferther strecche,
If he of his estat anythyng recche,
Than othir mennes, for hir inpotence
Strecchith nat so fer as his influence.
Largesse is liberalitee ycallid,
And likned is unto hem that been free;
But he that avaricious is, is thrallid
To moneie. A kyng moot algates flee
A chynches herte for his honestee
And for the profyt, as I seide above,
Of his peple if he thynke wynne hir love.
Victorie and honour he shal him purchace
That is of giftes free, but waar alway
That he nat tarie ne delaye his grace;
Dryve it nat foorth unto anothir day,
Whan, if him list, anoon he geve may;
Geve it as blyve, his thank is wel the more:
This vouche I on Holy Scriptures lore.
The vertu is of liberalitee
Geve and despende in place and tyme due.
Right as largesse dooth in swich degree,
They bothe moot in hir conceites chue
Where is good geve and where to eschue,
The persone and the somme and cause why;
What they geven, geve it vertuously.
But it nat longith to the liberal
To geve him good that usith flaterie;
His menynge and entencioun final
On fals plesaunce is set for briberie;
He is the verray cofre of treccherie;
His doublenesse his lord doun overthrowith;
The seed of his confusion he sowith.
That man yborn is in a blessid hour
Whom that pitee, dissert, or kyndenesse
Stiren to geve or ministre him socour
That infortunes strokes bittirnesse
Ywowndid hath with povertes sharpnesse.
Nat meene I hem that hyre and fees and wages
Han at the dees lost and hir heritages,
But tho that welthy men han been byfore,
And vertuous been, and han hir good lost,
And can nat begge, to be deed therfore;
On hem ful wel bestowid is the cost.
But weleaway, as hard as is a post -
A post? Nay, as a stoon been hertes now!
Lordes, for shame! What thyng eilith yow?
A gentil herte for to begge hath shame;
His rody shamefastnesse dar nat preye.
Yee that of gentillesse han style and name,
Lat nat your poore brethren by yow deye.
See unto hem thogh they nat speke or seye.
Is pitee fro yow fled? Calle hir agayn,
For hir absence hath many good man slayn.
Senek seith, he hath nat that thyng for noght
That bieth it by speeche and by prayeere.
There is nothyng that is in eerthe wroght,
As that he seith, that is yboght so deere;
It standith streite whan it shal appeere,
For it is vois of wrecchidnesse and sorwe,
Whan that a man shal preye or begge or borwe.
Allas, thogh that a man deskevere and pleyne
To many a lord his meschevous miserie,
The lord nat deyneth undirstonde his peyne;
He settith nat therby a blakberie.
Welthe in the lordes sail blowith ful merie,
But the needy berith his sail so lowe
That no wynd of confort may in it blowe.
Of liberalitee yit forthermore
I telle wole, as that I have herd seyn
Amonges wyse folk goon is ful yore.
What man a ledere is or a chiefteyn
Of peple, his labour is al waast and veyn
But he be free unto his sowdeours,
If that he seeke conqueste of honours.
And specially, that he hir duetee
Abregge nat, ne nat syncope hir wages
That hem assigned been. In certeyntee
Peril of shame folwen swiche usages;
Whan al acounted is, tho avantages
That fowndid been of wronges and repreef
Been naght but avantages of mescheef.
This makith covetyse or avarice
Roote of alle harmes, fo to conscience;
Of wikkid purchas is shee emperice,
And mochil hath, and ay hath indigence.
Shee rather wole lyve in abstinence
Of mete and drynke for hertes scantnesse
Than for the soule or bodyes holsumnesse.
Prince excellent, so moot yee wirke and wilne
As may your soules helthe edifie,
And, among othir thynges, that your wil ne
Be infect with no wrecchid chyncherie;
Largesse mesurable unto yow tye
And fool largesse voidith fro yow clene,
For free largesse is a vertuous mene.
De regis prudentia
Now, gracious Prince, lyke it yow to wite
That touche I thynke of a kynges prudence
As that I thereof fynde in bookes write.
Prudence is callid wit and sapience,
And needes moot real magnificence
Be prudent, as that the scripture us leerith,
If he shal been as his estat requerith.
Prudence, attemperance, strengthe, and right,
Tho foure been vertues principal;
Prudence gooth byfore and geveth light
Of conseil what tho othir thre do shal,
That they may wirke, be it greet or smal,
Aftir hir reed, withouten whom no man
Wel unto God ne the world lyve can.
Prudence is vertu of entendement;
Shee makith man by reson him governe.
Whoso that list to be wys and prudent
And the light folwe wole of hir lanterne,
He muste caste his look in every herne
Of thynges past and been and that shul be;
The ende seeth and eek mesurith she.
Ther is no wight that shee shapith deceyve;
And thogh man caste him hire to begyle,
Nat wole it be; by wit shee wole it weyve.
Eek shee observeth so wel trouthes style
And therto can so wel hir tonge affyle,
That, lest the favour of frendshipes corde,
Othir than trouthe can shee nat recorde.
Shee byheetith by good avysament
And geveth more than hir list promette;
Shee geveth eek to men commandement
Nat in Fortune truste or by hir sette;
And al the trust out of hir herte shette
Of might of worldly dominacioun.
Vertu gyeth hir operacioun.
Prudence hath lever loved be than drad;
Ther may no prince in his estat endure,
Ne therin any whyle stande sad,
But he be loved, for love is armure
Of seuretee. O, take on yow the cure,
Excellent Prince, love to embrace,
And than your herte is set in sikir place.
Now if that yee graunten by your patente
To your servantes a yeerly guerdoun,
Cryst sheelde that your wil or your entente
Be set to maken a restriccioun
Of paiement; for that condicioun
Exylith the peples benevolence
And kyndlith hate undir pryvee silence.
Beeth wel avysid or your graunt out go
How yee that charge may parfourme and bere.
Whan it is past, observe it wel also,
For elles wole it yow annoye and dere.
For your honour, it mochil bettre were
No graunt to graunte at al than that your graunt
Yow preeve a brekere of a covenaunt.
He that is loved, men drede him offende;
But he that drad and nat beloved is,
As Tullius seith, lightly may descende,
And the lordshipe leese that was his.
And Senek also seith touchynge this:
"The soget hatith whom he hath in drede,
And hate is hard if it his venym shede."
Was nevere drede yit a good wardeyn
To holde lordshipe in his sikirnesse,
But oonly love is thyng moost sovereyn.
Love is norice of welthe and of gladnesse;
But out of love spryngith ferdfulnesse,
And fere is good which that on love him growndith;
But othir fere nat helith but wowndith.
Love withouten a good governaille
A kyng hath noon, for thogh men no word seye,
If he his peple oppresse, it is no faille,
They love him nat in no manere of weye;
They may his heestes outward wel obeye,
But in hir hertes is smal obeissance,
And unto God they conpleyne hir grevance.
And swich a kyng is nat prudent ne wys
That of his peple purchaceth him hate,
For love excedith al tresor in prys;
So hath it been and so be wole algate.
Whan that richesses ebben and abate,
If love endure, it may hem restore,
And love is goten by prudences lore.
By wys conseil settith your hy estat
In swich an ordre as yee lyve may
Of your good propre in reule moderat.
Is it knyghtly lyve on rapyne? Nay!
For Crystes sake, so yow gyeth ay
As that may strecche to your peples ese,
And therwithal yee shul God hyly plese.
It apparteneth a kyng for to be
A kyng in verray soothe and existence.
A kyng of office and of dignitee
The name is; he moot doon his diligence
His peple for to gye by prudence;
For that he rule hem sholde duely,
The style of kyng he berith certeynly.
As an archer may nat his arwe sheete
Evene at a mark but if he the mark see,
No more may a kyng, I yow byheete,
Governe his peple in right and equitee
But by prudence he reule his hy degree.
If that be wel, his peple hath sikirnesse
Of reste and pees, welthe, joie, and gladnesse.
Begynnynge of wysdam is God to drede;
What kyng that dredith God, is good and just
To his peple; beeth swich, my Lord, I rede;
In love and awe of God ficchith your lust;
Than be yee wys, and than yow needes must,
Aftir your worldly sceptre transitorie,
In hevene regne in perpetuel glorie.
De consilio habendo in omnibus factis
Now purpose I to trete how to a kyng
It needful is to do by conseil ay,
Withouten which good is he do nothyng;
For a kyng is but a man soul, par fay,
And be his wit nevere so good, he may
Erre and mistake him othirwhyle among,
Whereas good conseil may exclude a wrong.
Excellent Prince, in axynge of reed
Deskevereth nat your wil in no maneere;
What that yee thynke do, lat it be deed;
As for the tyme, let no word appeere
But what every man seith wel herkne and heere;
And yit, whan good conseil is geven yow,
What yee do wole, keepe it cloos ynow,
Til that yow lyke parfourme it in dede;
And if it shal be doon, let it nat tarie,
For that is perillous, withouten drede.
Ther is nothyng may make a lond miscarie
More than swich delay. Ful necessarie
Is it, a good purpos parfourme as blyve,
And if it nat be, out of mynde it dryve.
And if that a man of symple degree,
Or poore of birthe, or yong, thee wel conseille,
Admitte his reson and take it in gree.
Why nat, my goode Lord? What sholde yow eile?
But men do nat so, whereof I merveille;
The world favourith ay the ryches sawe
Thogh that his conseil be nat worth an hawe.
What he seith, up is to the clowdes bore;
But, and the poore speke worth the tweye,
His seed nat sprynge may - it nis but lore.
They seyn, "What is he this? Lat him go pleye!"
O, worthy Prince, beeth wel waar, I preye,
That your hy dignitee and sad prudence
No desdeyn have of the poores sentence.
Thogh men contrarie eek your opinioun,
They may par cas conseille yow the beste.
Also yee been at your eleccioun
To do or leve it as yourselven leste.
If it be good, impresse it in the cheste
Of your memorie and executith it;
If it nat be, to leve it is a wit.
And if yow list your conseillour to preeve,
Yee feyne moot yee han necessitee
Of gold; and if he stire yow and meeve,
Your jewelles leye in wedde, certeyn he
Loveth your estat and prosperitee.
But he that redith yow your peple oppresse,
He hatith yow certeyn - it is no lesse.
And if a man in tyme of swich a neede
Of his good geve yow a good substance,
Swich oon cherice and elles God forbeede.
Konneth him thanke of his good chevissance,
For him is lever to suffre penance
Himself than that your peple sholde smerte;
There is a preef of treewe lovynge herte.
In axyng eek of reed, waar of Favel;
Also waar of the avaricious,
For noon of tho two can conseille wel;
Hir reed and conseil is envenymous;
They bothe been of gold so desyrous
They rekke nat what bryge hir lord be ynne,
So that they mowen gold and silver wynne.
And if your conseil which that yee han take
Unto the knowleche or the audience
Of youre foos comen be, than let it slake
And uttirly putte it in abstinence;
For execute it were an inprudence.
In swich a cas is wisdam it to chaunge;
Good is your conseil be to your foos straunge.
Conseil may wel be likned to a brydil
Which that an hors up keepith fro fallyng,
If man do by conseil; but al in ydil
Is reed if man nat folwe it in wirkynge.
Do nothyng reedlees; do by conseillynge
Of heedes wyse, and no repentance
Ther folwe yow shal in your governance.
Commendable is conseil take of the wyse
And nat of fooles, for they may nat love
But swich thyng as hem lykith. In al wyse,
Your conseillour cheese, our lord God above;
Cheesith eek good men, and away shove
The wikkid whos conseil is deceyvable;
Thus biddith Holy Writ, it is no fable.
Cheesith men eek of old experience -
Hir wit and intellect is glorious;
Of hir conseil holsum is the sentence.
The olde mannes reed is fructuous;
Waar of yong conseil, it is perillous.
Roboas fond it so whan he forsook
Old conseil and unto yong reed him took.
Th'entente woot I wel of the yong man
As lovynge is and treewe as of the olde,
Thogh that he nat so wel conseille can.
Yonge men stronge been, hardy, and bolde,
And more weldy to fighte if they sholde;
But thogh the olde in tyme of pees or werre
Rede and conseille, it shal nat be the werre.
He that is fressh and lusty now this day
By lengthe of yeeres shal nothyng be so;
Fresshnesse and lust may nat endure alway;
Whan age is comen, he commandith ho.
But let see, who considerith this, who?
Good is that age sette a governaille
And youthe it sue - thus may bothe availle.
Excellent Prince, eek on the holy dayes
Beeth waar that yee nat your conseiles holde;
As for tho tymes, putte hem in delayes;
Thynkith wel this: yee wel apaid be nolde
If your soget nat by youre heestes tolde.
Right so our lord God, kyng and commaundour
Of kynges alle, is wrooth with that errour.
In the long yeer been werk-dayes ynowe,
If they be wel despent for to entende
To conseiles. To God your herte bowe
If yee desyre men hir hertes bende
To yow. What kyng nat dredith God offende
Ne nat rekkith do him disobeissance,
He shal be disobeied eek, par chance.
The firste fyndere of our fair langage
Hath seid, in cas semblable, and othir mo,
So hyly wel that it is my dotage
For to expresse or touche any of tho.
Allas, my fadir fro the world is go,
My worthy maistir Chaucer - him I meene;
Be thow advocat for him, hevenes queene.
As thow wel knowist, o blessid Virgyne,
With lovyng herte and hy devocioun,
In thyn honour he wroot ful many a lyne.
O now thyn help and thy promocioun!
To God thy sone make a mocioun,
How he thy servant was, mayden Marie,
And lat his love floure and fructifie.
Althogh his lyf be qweynt, the resemblance
Of him hath in me so fressh lyflynesse
That to putte othir men in remembrance
Of his persone, I have heere his liknesse
Do make, to this ende, in soothfastnesse,
That they that han of him lost thoght and mynde
By this peynture may ageyn him fynde.
The ymages that in the chirches been
Maken folk thynke on God and on his seintes
Whan the ymages they beholde and seen,
Where ofte unsighte of hem causith restreyntes
Of thoghtes goode. Whan a thyng depeynt is
Or entaillid, if men take of it heede,
Thoght of the liknesse it wole in hem breede.
Yit sum men holde oppinioun and seye
That noon ymages sholde ymakid be.
They erren foule and goon out of the weye;
Of trouthe have they scant sensibilitee.
Passe over that! Now, blessid Trinitee,
Upon my maistres soule mercy have;
For him, Lady, thy mercy eek I crave.
More othir thyng wolde I fayn speke and touche
Heere in this book, but swich is my dulnesse,
For that al voide and empty is my pouche,
That al my lust is qweynt with hevynesse,
And hevy spirit commandith stilnesse.
And have I spoke of pees, I shal be stille.
God sende us pees, if that it be His wille.
Touche I wole heere of pees a word or two
As that scriptures maken mencioun,
And than my book is endid al and do.
To Cryst ordeyneth He a mansioun
Which in his hertes habitacioun
Embraceth pees; wher pees is, Cryst is there,
For Cryst nat list abyden elleswhere.
Amonges Cristen folk, wrecche is he noon
That paciently suffrith a duresse;
But sikirly, a wrecche is he oon
That makith stryf; and him sueth gladnesse
Which that of pees conseillith the swetnesse.
Our pees also and concord brothirly
Is sacrifice to God almighty.
Thynges that leden men to pees been three:
Conformyng in God, in ourself humblesse,
And with our neighburghes tranquillitee.
First seye I that we moot our willes dresse
And hem conformen alle more and lesse
To Goddes wil; al thyng is in His might,
Sauf oonly that He may do noon unright.
Evene as a man is ay in werre and stryf
That bysyeth him withstande a man which he
Nat may, right so hath he peisible lyf
Continuelly whos willes fully be
To Goddes wil conformynge. O pardee,
Ageyn God helpith ther no resistence,
So strong and mighty is His excellence.
Humilitee to pees eek may men lede.
Men seyn, two grete may nat in o sak;
But symple humblesse is of swich goodlyhede
That shee of troubly hate hath no smak;
Shee stryveth nat; of discord hath shee lak.
Shee voide and empty is of crueltee;
Humble spirit desirith unitee.
The thridde is eek tranquillitee of thoght,
That gydith man to pees, for as a wight
May in a bed of thornes reste noght,
Right so who is with grevous thoghtes twight
May with himself ne othir folk aright
Have no pees; a man moot needes smerte
Whan irous thoghtes occupie his herte.
And evene as that upon a pilwe softe
Man may him reste wel and take his ese,
Right so that Lord that sitte in hevene alofte
Herte peisible can so lyke and plese
That He wole entre therin and it sese
And occupie it as just possessour;
In place of pees restith our Sauveour.
But al anothir pees ther is also
Which is nat worth; it is envenymous,
For it is unto verray pees a fo.
Whan men in a purpos malicious
Accorden, that pees is to God grevous;
Swich pees was twixt Herodes and Pilat,
And in swich cas, pees wers is than debat.
A feyned pees eek is to pees verray
A fo; and swich was the pees of Judas
Kyssynge Cryst. Lord, whethir that this day
Any swich pees be usid as that was!
Yee, so I drede me, by Seint Thomas,
The kus of Judas is now wyde sprad;
Toknes of pees been, but smal love is had.
Men countrefete in wordes Tullius
And folwe in werk Judas or Genyloun;
Many an hony word and many a kus
Ther is; but wayte on the conclusioun
And pryvee galle al torneth up so doun;
Ther leveth naght of pees but contenance,
For al the peynted cheere and daliance.
There is also a pees inordinat
Whan the gretter obeieth to the lesse,
As thus: whan to his soget a prelat
Obeieth; and whan resoun the blyndnesse
Sueth of sensualitees madnesse,
Obeyynge it - al swich pees is haynous,
For it is to good pees contrarious.
Right swich a pees Adam hadde with Eeve
Whan that he unto hir desir obeide;
He was par cas adrad hir for to greeve,
Wherfore he dide as that shee him seide.
In that obedience he foleide,
For God hire him bytook him to obeye;
But I adrad am that I thus fer seye.
If that this come unto the audience
Of wommen, I am seur I shal be shent;
For that I touche of swich obedience,
Many a browe shal on me be bent;
They wolen wayte been equipollent,
And sumwhat more, unto hire housbondes;
And sum men seyn swich usage in this lond is.
And it no wondir is, as seemeth me,
Whan that I me bethoght have al aboute,
Thogh that wommen desyre sovereyntee,
And hire housbondes make to hem loute.
They maad were of a ribbe, it is no doute,
Which more strong is and substancial
Than slyme of eerthe, and clenner therwithal.
Wherfore it seemeth that the worthynesse
Of wommen passith mennes, in certeyn;
And yit sum nyce men, of lewdenesse,
In repreef of hem holden thereageyn;
For crookid was that ribbe, and speke and seyn
That also crookid is hir courtesie;
But ageyn that, strongly wole I replie.
For in the wrytyng and in the scripture
Of philosophres, men may see and rede,
Cerclely shap is moost parfyt figure,
Betokenyng in gemetrie onhede;
And crookidnesse a part is that may lede
Sumwhat unto a cercle or a compas.
What so men seyn, wommen stonde in good cas.
For therby shewith it that crookidnesse
Strecchith unto gretter perfeccioun
Than dooth a thyng that is of evennesse.
Of this helpith no contradiccioun,
For it is sooth; it is no ficcioun.
Every parfyt body that man can nevene
Is rownd and crookid and nat streight ne evene.
Begynne first at hevene and rownd it is;
The sonne and moone and the sterres also;
Heed of man, yen, mowth, and herte, ywis,
Been al rownde; and othir been ther mo
Than I expresse as now; but or I go,
Yit shal I bet wommannes part susteene;
So biddith pees, and that to folwe I meene.
Now for to speke or touchen of the place
In which that man and womman formed were:
Almighty God to womman shoop swich grace
That shee was formed in the worthyere -
In paradys men woot wel he made here;
But man ymaad was out of paradys,
In place of lesse worthynesse and prys.
And of the manere of formacioun
Of bothe two, herkneth now wel I preye.
The tokne or the significacioun
Of makyng of Adam may by no weye
Strecche to so parfyt a good, I seye,
As dide the formacioun of Eeve;
And that as swythe heere I shal it preeve,
For more have I for hir partie yit.
Makynge of Eeve tokned the makynge
Of Holy Chirche and sacramentz of it;
As of the syde of Adam, him slepynge,
Eeve was maad, so our lord Cryst dyynge
Upon the Crois, Holy Chirche of His syde
And the sacramentz maad were in that tyde.
Fro tyme eek Cryst was twelve yeer of age
Unto thritti, He with His modir ay
Was servynge hire with plesant corage;
To teche humilitee, He took the way
From hevene hidir, and meeknesse verray
Taghte He the moost partie of His lyf
Whil He was with His modir and His wyf;
For shee was bothe two, and syn shee had
So longe of hir housbonde the maistrie,
Wommen, I trowe, been nat now so mad
That style to forgo; nay, swich folie,
What man that can in a womman espie,
Is worthy shryned be; God save hem alle,
And graunte hir hy corage nat appalle.
Holy Writ seith, "If wommen sovereyntee
Of hir housbondes have, how that they
Unto hir housbondes contrarious be. . . ."
The text, I woot wel, is swich, but what they?
That text I undirstonde thus alwey:
Whan that housbondes hem mistake and erre,
Ageyn that vice wyves maken werre.
Thogh a womman hir housbonde contrarie
In his opinioun erroneous,
Shul man for that deeme hir his adversarie?
Straw! Be he nevere so harrageous,
If he and shee shul dwellen in oon hous,
Good is he suffre; therby pees may sprynge;
Housbondes pees is peisible suffrynge.
By concord smale thynges multiplien,
And by discord, hate, ire, and rancour,
Perisshen thynges grete, and waaste and dyen.
Pees hath the fruyt of ese in his favour;
To gete pees holsum is the labour,
And keepe it wel whan that man hath it caght,
That ire ne discord banisshe it naght.
How plesant to God is of pees the mirthe;
What delyt eek in pees and unioun
The Prince of pees hath shewid in His birthe
By angels delitable song and soun.
Also, aftir His resurreccioun
He pees bad, and whan unto hevene He sty,
He lefte pees in eerthe treewely.
That gifte of pees, that precious jewel,
If men it keepe and do it nat away,
Sones of Cryst they may be clept ful wel;
But stryf, which moche is to the feendes pay,
Among us fervent is so, weleaway!
We Cristen folk withynne us and withoute
Han so greet stryf that ther may no pees route.
The riot that hath been withyn this land
Among ourself many a wyntres space
Hath to the swerd put many a thousand.
The greedy herte that wolde al embrace
With irous wil and crabbid, pale face,
And swipir feendly hand, with strook vengeable
Hath many a womman maad hem clothe in sable.
This is no doute that ambicioun
And covetyse fyre al this debat.
Tho two been of wikkid condicioun;
No wight halt him content of his estat.
Every man wilneth to been exaltat;
Thogh he be greet, yit hyer wolde he go;
And thise arn causes of our stryf and wo.
Werre withyn ourself is moost harmful
And perillous, and moost is ageyn kynde;
Therwith this land hath wrastled many a pul;
The smert is swich, it may nat out of mynde,
For it hath cast our welthe fer behynde,
And ferther wole but tho werres stynte;
No good may come of werres wrathful dynte.
Whyles that Romains were in herte al oon
And undyvydid al hool stood, they were
Lordes of al the world; fo was ther noon
Outward, as who seith, mighte hem greeve or dere;
But al sauf welthe may men suffre and bere.
Withyn hemself sprang swich division
That it hem broghte to confusion.
What causid hir inward werre and rumour
But avarice? Shee refte hem hir wele.
Whyles they hadde in cheertee and favour
Profyt commun, they hadden by the stele
Prosperitee; but it away gan stele
Whan they hem drow to profyt singuler,
And of profyt commun nat weren cheer.
Beholde how avarice creepith in
And kyndlith werre and qwenchith unitee.
O Favel, thow mightest been of hir kyn,
For swich a brekepees as that is shee,
Right swich anothir may I name thee;
Thow rekkist nat ne dreddist nat to weende
For muk to helle unto the fertheste eende.
This Favel is of pees a destourbour;
Twixt God and mannes soule he werre reisith.
This world is blent by this dissimulour;
Vertu he blameth and vices he preisith;
Sore in the bowe of treccherie he teisith;
His shot is gay but it is envenymed;
His fikil aart may nat aright be rymed.
Vertuous trouthe, hyde thow thyn heed!
Thow maist as wel, thyn aart may nat availle;
Out of this worldes grace art thow as deed.
But Favel, traitour, thy fals governaille
Makith ful many shippes for to saille
Into thy cofre; warm is thyn office;
That trouthe leesith, wynne can thy vice.
Allas, so many a worthy clerk famous
In Oxenforde and in Cambrigge also
Stonde unavanced, wher the vicious
Favel hath chirches and provendres mo
Than God is plesid with. Allas that tho
That werreyen vertu so been promootid,
And they helplees in whom vertu is rootid.
The knyght or squyer on that othir syde,
Or yeman, that hath in pees and in werris
Despent with his lord his blood, but he hyde
The trouthe and can curreye, he nat the ner is
His lordes grace; and untrouthe ful fer is
From him that worthy corage hath honured;
Grace of this world by Favel is devoured.
Now unto my mateere of werre inward
Resorte I; but to seeke stories olde
Noon neede is, syn this day sharp werre and hard
Is at the dore heere, as men may beholde.
France, no wondir thogh thyn herte colde
And brenne also, swich is thyn agonye;
Thyself manaceth thyself for to dye.
Thyself destroie, and feeble is thy victorie;
Thow hast in thyself stryven ofte or now
And hast appesid al, have in memorie,
Thurgh thy prudence. Woostow nat wel how
Slaghtre is deffendid, and nat rekkist thow
To rebelle ageyn God that it forbedith?
For thee myn hevy goost bysyly dredith.
What any part offendid hath to othir,
Redresse it faire and charitablely;
By lawe of God yee been eche othres brothir.
O now adayes is noon enemy
Lyk oon that is to othir of blood ny.
Beeth waar, correcte it, lest men of yow seye,
"Lo whilom this was France of hy nobleye!"
I am an Englissh man and am thy fo;
For thow a fo art unto my ligeance;
And yit myn herte stuffid is with wo
To see thyn unkyndly disseverance.
Accordith yow; girdith yow with souffrance!
Yee greeven God and yourself harme and shame,
And your foos therof han desport and game.
Allas also the greet dissencioun,
The pitous harm, the hateful discord,
That hath endured twixt this regioun
And othir landes Cristen. He that Lord
Of remes alle is, the auctour of concord
And pees, sore is meeved therwith; but we
Nat dreden for t'offende His magestee.
Of France and Engeland, o Cristen Princes,
Syn that your style of worthynesse is ronge
Thurghout the world in al the provinces,
If that of yow mighte be red or songe
That yee were oon in herte, ther nis tonge
That mighte expresse how profitable and good
Unto al peple it were of Cristen blood.
Yee hem ensamplen, yee been hir miroures;
They folwen yow. What sorwe lamentable
Is causid of your werres sharpe shoures
Ther woot no wight; it is irreparable.
O noble Cristen Princes honurable,
For Him that for yow souffred passioun,
Of Cristen blood haveth conpassioun!
Allas, what peple hath your werre slayn!
What cornes waastid and doun trode and shent!
How many a wyf and mayde hath be bylayn,
Castels doun bete, and tymbred howses brent
And drawen doun and al totore and rent!
The harm ne may nat rekned be ne told;
This werre wexith al to hoor and old.
To wynne worldly tresor and richesse
Is of your stryf the long continuance;
Wherby it seemeth that yee han scantnesse
Of good, or yee konne have no souffissance
Of plentee; and if ther be habundance
In your cofres, and in your hertes neede,
Of lordly conceit may it nat proceede.
Whan Alisaundre deed was and ygrave,
And his toumbe of gold wroght ful rychely
As kynges dignitee wole axe and crave,
Dyverse philosophres drow hem ny
Therto, and as oon of hem stood therby,
He seide thus among the folkes alle:
"Seeth swich a chaunge is neewe now befalle.
"This Alisaundre made yistirday
Of gold his tresor, but gold makith now
Tresor of him, as yee beholde may."
Anothir philosophre seide eek how
Al this world yistirday was nat ynow
To stoppen Alisaundres covetyse;
And now three elnes of clooth him souffyse.
O worthy Princes two, now takith heede,
As hardy deeth is yow for to assaille
As shee dide Alisaundre, whom in dreede
Hadde al this world. What mighte his force availle
Ageyn the deeth? Nothyng, nothyng, sanz faille;
For thogh that he swerd were of chivalrie,
Deeth threew him doun to ground and lete him lie.
With how greet labour or with how greet peyne
Men wynne good, to the world leve it shal;
Unto the pit gooth naght but the careyne;
And thogh gold were graven therwithal,
Nat mighte it helpe; beeth nat goldes thral.
Souffysith to your good, Yee Princes bothe;
With pees and reste, arme yow and clothe.
Whan yee have stryve and foughten al your fille,
Pees folwe moot; but good were it or thanne
That pees were had. What lust han yee to spille
The blood that Cryst with His blood boghte whanne
He on the Crois starf? O Lady Seint Anne,
Thy doghtir preye to byseeche hir sone
To stynte of werres the dampnable wone.
The book of Revelaciouns of Bryde
Expressith how Cryst thus seide hir unto:
"I am pees verray, there I wole abyde;
Whereas pees is, noon othir wole I do;
Of France and Engeland the kynges two,
If they wole have pees, pees perpetuel
They shul han." Thus hir book seith, woot I wel.
But verray pees may be had by no way
But if trouthe and justice loved be;
And for that o kyng hath right, forthy may
By matrymoyne pees and unitee
Been had - Crystes plesaunce is swich. Thus he
That right heir is may the reme rejoise,
Cessyng al stryf, debat, or werre, or noyse."
Now syn the weye is open, as yee see,
How pees to gete in vertuous maneere,
For love of Him that dyde upon the tree,
And of Marie, His blisful modir deere,
Folwith that way and your stryf leye on beere;
Purchaceth pees by way of mariage,
And yee therin shul fynden avantage.
Now pees approche and dryve out werre and stryf;
Frendshipe appeere and banisshe thow hate;
Tranquillitee, reve thow ire hir lyf
That fervent is and leef for to debate.
Yee three vertues now lat see abate
The malice of the foule vices three
That verray foos been to al Cristientee.
O Cristen Princes, for the love and awe
Of Him that is the kyng of kynges alle,
Nesshith your hertes and to pees yow drawe;
Considereth what good may therof falle;
The hony takith and leveth the galle.
The steerne juge in His jugement
May do but right; waar His punysshement.
What disobeissance and rebellioun,
What wil unbuxum, what unkyndenesse,
May He preeve in yow that destruccioun
Doon of men, His handwerk soothly, I gesse;
It muste needes stire His rightwisnesse
Ageyn yow. Styntith at His reverence;
Sueth His grace and His benevolence.
From hennes foorth let ther betwixt yow be
So vertuous a stryf for Crystes sake
That yee of pees and love and charitee
May stryve. Lat your pitee now awake
That longe hath slept, and pees betwixt yow make;
And on the foos of Cryst, your redemptour,
Werreieth; there kythith your vigour.
Upon the mescreantz to make werre,
And hem unto the feith of Cryst to brynge,
Good were; therin may yee nothyng erre;
That were a meritorie werreyyng;
That is the way unto the conqueryng
Of hevene blisse that is endelees,
To which yow brynge the auctour of pees. Amen.
[Verba compilatoris ad librum]
O litil book, who gaf thee hardynesse
Thy wordes to pronounce in the presence
Of kynges ympe and princes worthynesse,
Syn thow al nakid art of eloquence?
And why approchist thow his excellence
Unclothid sauf thy kirtil bare also?
I am right seur his humble pacience
Thee geveth hardynesse to do so.
But o thyng woot I wel, go wher thow go,
I am so pryvee unto thy sentence,
Thow haast and art and wilt been everemo
To his hynesse of swich benevolence,
Thogh thow nat do him due reverence
In wordes, thy cheertee nat is the lesse.
And if lust be, to his magnificence
Do by thy reed; his welthe it shal witnesse.
Byseeche him of his gracious noblesse
Thee holde excusid of thyn innocence
Of endytynge, and with hertes meeknesse,
If anythyng thee passe of negligence,
Byseeche him of mercy and indulgence,
And that for thy good herte he be nat fo
To thee that al seist of loves fervence;
That knowith He Whom nothyng is hid fro.
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Comments about this poem (The Regiment of Princes by Thomas Hoccleve )
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