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I: THE TESTAMENT OF LOVE. - Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 7 (Supplement: Chaucerian and Other Pieces) 
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols.
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THE TESTAMENT OF LOVE.
MANY men there ben that, with eeres openly sprad, so moche swalowen the deliciousnesse of jestes and of ryme, by queynt knitting coloures , that of the goodnesse or of the badnesse of the sentence take they litel hede or els non .
Soothly , dul wit and a thoughtful soule so sore have myned5 and graffed in my spirites, that suche craft of endyting wol not ben of myn acqueyntaunce. And, for rude wordes and boystous percen the herte of the herer to the in[ne]rest point , and planten there the sentence of thinges, so that with litel helpe it is able to springe ; this book , that nothing hath of the greet flode of10 wit ne of semelich colours, is dolven with rude wordes and boystous, and so drawe togider, to maken the cacchers therof ben the more redy to hente sentence.
Some men there ben that peynten with colours riche, and some with vers, as with red inke, and some with coles and15 chalke; and yet is there good matere to the leude people of thilke chalky purtreyture, as hem thinketh for the tyme; and afterward the sight of the better colours yeven to hem more joye for the firstleudnesse . So, sothly, this leude clowdy occupacion is not to prayse but by the leude; for comunly leude20leudnesse commendeth. Eke it shal yeve sight , that other precious thinges shal be the more in reverence. In Latin and French hath many soverayne wittes had greet delyt to endyte, and have many noble thinges fulfild ; but certes, there25 ben some that speken their poysye-mater in Frenche, of whiche speche the Frenche men have as good a fantasye as we have in hering of Frenche mennes English . And many termes there ben in English , [of] whiche unneth we Englishmen connen declare the knowleginge. How shulde than a Frenche man born suche30 termes conne jumpere in his mater, but as the jay chatereth English ? Right so, trewly, the understanding of Englishmen wol not strecche to the privy termes in Frenche, what-so-ever we bosten of straunge langage. Let than clerkes endyten in Latin, for they have the propertee of science, and the knowinge in that35facultee ; and let Frenchmen in their Frenche also endyten their queynt termes, for it is kyndely to their mouthes; and let us shewe our fantasyes in suche wordes as we lerneden of our dames tonge.
And although this book be litel thank-worthy for the leudnesse40 in travaile, yet suche wrytinges excyten men to thilke thinges that ben necessarie; for every man therby may, as by a perpetual mirrour, seen the vyces or vertues of other, in whiche thing lightly may be conceyved to eschewe perils, and necessaries to cacche , after as aventures have fallen to other people or persons.
45Certes, [perfeccion is] the soveraynest thing of desyre, and moste †creatures resonable have, or els shulde have, ful appetyte to their perfeccion ; unresonable beestes mowen not, sith reson hath in hem no werking. Than resonable that wol not is comparisoned to unresonable, and made lyke hem. For-sothe, the50 most soverayne and fynal perfeccion of man is in knowing of[ ] a sothe, withouten any entent disceyvable, and in love of oon very god that is inchaungeable; that is, to knowe and love his creatour.
¶ Now , principally, the mene to bringe in knowleging and55 loving his creatour is the consideracion of thinges made by the creatour, wherthrough, by thilke thinges that ben made understonding here to our wittes, arn the unsene privitees of god made to us sightful and knowing , in our contemplacion and understonding. These thinges than, forsoth, moche bringen us to the ful knowleginge [of] sothe, and to the parfit love of the60 maker of hevenly thinges. Lo, David sayth, ‘thou hast delyted me in makinge,’ as who sayth, to have delyt in the tune, how god hath lent me in consideracion of thy makinge.
Wherof Aristotle, in the boke de Animalibus , saith to naturel philosophers: ‘it is a greet lyking in love of knowinge their65 creatour; and also in knowinge of causes in kyndely thinges .’ Considred , forsoth, the formes of kyndly thinges and the shap, a greet kindely love me shulde have to the werkman that hem made. The crafte of a werkman is shewed in the werke. Herfore, truly, the philosophers, with a lyvely studie, many70 noble thinges right precious and worthy to memory writen; and by a greet swetande travayle to us leften of causes [of] the propertees in natures of thinges. To whiche (therfore) philosophers it was more joy, more lykinge, more herty lust, in kyndely vertues and maters of reson , the perfeccion by busy75 study to knowe, than to have had al the tresour , al the richesse, al the vainglory that the passed emperours, princes, or kinges hadden. Therfore the names of hem, in the boke of perpetual memory, in vertue and pees arn writen; and in the contrarye,[ ] that is to sayne, in Styx , the foule pitte of helle, arn thilke pressed80 that suche goodnesse hated. And bycause this book shal be of love, and the pryme causes of steringe in that doinge, with passions and diseses for wantinge of desyre, I wil that this book be cleped The Testament of Love.
But now , thou reder, who is thilke that wil not in scorne85 laughe, to here a dwarfe, or els halfe a man, say he wil rende out the swerde of Hercules handes, and also he shuld sette Hercules Gades a myle yet ferther; and over that, he had power of strengthe to pulle up the spere , that Alisander the noble might never wagge? And that , passing al thinge, to ben90 mayster of Fraunce by might, there-as the noble gracious Edward the thirde, for al his greet prowesse in victories, ne might al yet conquere?
Certes, I wot wel, ther shal be mad more scorne and jape of me, that I, so unworthily clothed al-togider in the cloudy cloude95 of unconninge , wil putten me in prees to speke of love, or els of the causes in that matter, sithen al the grettest clerkes han[ ] had ynough to don, and (as who sayth) †gadered up clene toforn hem, and with their sharpe sythes of conning al mowen, and100mad therof greterekes and noble, ful of al plentees , to fede me and many another. Envye, forsothe, commendeth nought his reson that he hath in hayne , be it never so trusty. And al-though these noble repers, as good workmen and worthy their hyre , han al drawe and bounde up in the sheves, and mad many105 shockes, yet have I ensample to gadere the smale crommes, and fullen my walet of tho that fallen from the borde among the smale houndes, notwithstandinge the travayle of the almoigner, that hath drawe up in the cloth al the remissailes , as trenchours, and the relief , to bere to the almesse.
110Yet also have I leve of the noble husbande Boëce , al-though I be a straunger of conninge, to come after his doctrine, and these grete workmen, and glene my handfuls of the shedinge after their handes; and, if me faile ought of my ful, to encrese my porcion with that I shal drawe by privitees out of the shocke.115 A slye servaunt in his owne helpe is often moche commended; knowing of trouth in causes of thinges was more hardyer in the first sechers (and so sayth Aristotle ), and lighter in us that han folowed after. For their passing †studies han fresshed our wittes, and our understandinge han excyted, in consideracion of trouth,120 by sharpnesse of their resons . Utterly these thinges be no dremes ne japes, to throwe to hogges; it is lyflich mete for[ ] children of trouthe; and as they me betiden , whan I pilgrimaged out of my kith in winter; whan the †weder out of mesure was boystous, and the wylde wind Boreas , as his kind asketh, with125dryinge coldes maked the wawes of the occian-see so to aryse unkyndely over the commune bankes, that it was in poynte to spille al the erthe.
Thus endeth the Prologue; and here-after foloweth the first book of the Testament of Love.
Trewly, I leve, in myn herte is writte, of perdurable letters, al the entencions of lamentacion that now ben y-nempned! For any5 maner disese outward , in sobbing maner, sheweth sorowful yexinge from within. Thus from my comfort I ginne to spille, sith she that shulde me solace is fer fro my presence. Certes, her absence is to me an helle ; my sterving deth thus in wo it myneth, that endeles care is throughout myne herte clenched; blisse of10 my joye, that ofte me murthed, is turned in-to galle, to thinke on thing that may not, at my wil, in armes me hente ! Mirth is chaunged in-to tene, whan swink is there continually that reste was wont to sojourne and have dwelling-place . Thus witless , thoughtful, sightles lokinge, I endure my penaunce in this derke prison ,15[ ] †caitived fro frendshippe and acquaintaunce, and forsaken of al that any †word dare speke. Straunge hath by waye of intrucioun mad his home, there me shulde be, if reson were herd as he shulde. Never-the-later yet hertly, lady precious Margarit, have mynde on thy servaunt; and thinke on his disese , how lightles he20 liveth, sithe the bemes brennende in love of thyn eyen are so[ ]bewent , that worldes and cloudes atwene us twey wol nat suffre my thoughtes of hem to be enlumined! Thinke that oon vertue of a Margarite precious is, amonges many other, the sorouful to comforte; yet †whyles that, me sorouful to comforte, is my lust25 to have nought els at this tyme, d[r]ede ne deth ne no maner traveyle hath no power, myn herte so moche to fade, as shulde[ ] to here of a twinkling in your disese ! Ah! god forbede that; but yet let me deye, let me sterve withouten any mesure of penaunce, rather than myn hertely thinking comfort in ought30 were disesed ! What may my service avayle , in absence of her that my service shulde accepte? Is this nat endeles sorowe to thinke? Yes, yes, god wot; myn herte breketh nigh a-sonder. How shulde the ground , without kyndly noriture, bringen forth35 any frutes? How shulde a ship , withouten a sterne, in the grete see be governed? How shulde I, withouten my blisse, my herte, my desyre, my joye, my goodnesse, endure in this contrarious prison, that thinke every hour in the day an hundred winter? Wel may now Eve sayn to me, ‘Adam, in sorowe fallen from welth, driven40art thou out of paradise, with swete thy sustenaunce to beswinke!’ Depe in this pyninge pitte with wo I ligge y-stocked, with chaynes linked of care and of tene. It is so hye from thens I lye and the commune erth, there ne is cable in no lande maked, that might strecche to me, to drawe me in-to blisse; ne steyers45 to steye on is none; so that, without recover, endeles here to endure, I wot wel, I [am] purveyed . O, where art thou now, frendship , that som-tyme, with laughande chere, madest bothe face and countenaunce to me-wardes? Truely, now art thou went out of towne. But ever, me thinketh, he wereth his olde50 clothes, and that the soule in the whiche the lyfe of frendship was in, is drawen out from his other spirites. Now than, farewel, frendship! and farewel, felawes! Me thinketh, ye al han taken your leve ; no force of you al at ones. But, lady of love, ye wote what I mene; yet thinke on thy servaunt that for thy love55 spilleth; al thinges have I forsake to folowen thyn hestes; rewarde me with a thought, though ye do naught els. Remembraunce of love lyth so sore under my brest, that other thought cometh not in my mynde but gladnesse, to thinke on your goodnesse[ ] and your mery chere; †ferdnes and sorowe, to thinke on your60 wreche and your daunger; from whiche Christ me save! My greet joye it is to have in meditacion the bountees , the vertues, the nobley in you printed; sorowe and helle comen at ones, to[ ] suppose that I be †weyved . Thus with care, sorowe, and tene am I shapt , myn ende with dethe to make. Now, good goodly,65 thinke on this. O wrecched foole that I am, fallen in-to so lowe, the hete of my brenning tene hath me al defased. How shulde ye, lady, sette prise on so foule fylthe? My conninge is thinne, my wit is exiled; lyke to a foole naturel am I comparisoned. Trewly, lady, but your mercy the more were, I wot wel al my labour were in ydel; your mercy than passeth right. God graunt70 that proposicion to be verifyed in me; so that, by truste of good hope, I mowe come to the haven of ese . And sith it is impossible, the colours of your qualitees to chaunge: and forsothe I wot wel, wem ne spot may not abyde there so noble vertue haboundeth, so that the defasing to you is verily [un]imaginable ,75 as countenaunce of goodnesse with encresinge vertue is so in you knit , to abyde by necessary maner: yet, if the revers mighte falle (which is ayenst kynde), I †wot wel myn herte ne shulde therfore naught flitte , by the leste poynt of gemetrye; so sadly is it[ ] †souded , that away from your service in love may he not departe.80 O love, whan shal I ben plesed ? O charitee , whan shal I ben esed ? O good goodly, whan shal the dyce turne? O ful of vertue, do the chaunce of comfort upwarde to falle! O love, whan wolt thou thinke on thy servaunt? I can no more but here, out-cast of al welfare, abyde the day of my dethe, or els to see the85 sight that might al my wellinge sorowes voyde, and of the flode make an ebbe. These diseses mowen wel, by duresse of sorowe, make my lyfe to unbodye, and so for to dye; but certes ye, lady, in a ful perfeccion of love ben so knit with my soule, that deth may not thilke knotte unbynde ne departe; so that ye and my90 soule togider †in endeles blisse shulde dwelle ; and there shal my soule at the ful ben esed , that he may have your presence, to shewe th’entent of his desyres. Ah, dere god! that shal be a greet joye! Now , erthely goddesse, take regarde of thy servant, though I be feble; for thou art wont to prayse them better that95wolde conne serve in love, al be he ful mener than kinges or princes that wol not have that vertue in mynde.
Now , precious Margaryte, that with thy noble vertue hast drawen me in-to love first, me weninge therof to have blisse, [ther ]-as galle and aloes are so moche spronge, that savour of100 swetnesse may I not ataste. Alas! that your benigne eyen, in whiche that mercy semeth to have al his noriture, nil by no waye tourne the clerenesse of mercy to me-wardes! Alas! that your brennande vertues, shyning amonges al folk , and enlumininge 105 al other people by habundaunce of encresing , sheweth to me but smoke and no light! These thinges to thinke in myn herte maketh every day weping in myn eyen to renne. These liggen on my backe so sore, that importable burthen me semeth on my backe to be charged; it maketh me backwarde to meve, whan110 my steppes by comune course even-forth pretende. These thinges also, on right syde and lift, have me so envolved with care, that wanhope of helpe is throughout me ronne; trewly , †I leve , that graceles is my fortune, whiche that ever sheweth it me-wardes by a cloudy disese , al redy to make stormes of tene;115 and the blisful syde halt stil awayward, and wol it not suffre to me-wardes to turne; no force , yet wol I not ben conquered.
O, alas ! that your nobley, so moche among al other creatures[ ] commended by †flowinge streme †of al maner vertues, but ther ben wonderful, I not whiche that let the flood to come120 in-to my soule; wherefore, purely mated with sorowe thorough-sought, my-selfe I crye on your goodnesse to have pitè on this caytif , that in the in[ne]rest degree of sorowe and disese is left , and, without your goodly wil, from any helpe and recovery. These sorowes may I not sustene, but-if my sorowe shulde be125told and to you-wardes shewed; although moche space is bitwene us twayne , yet me thinketh that by suche †joleyvinge wordes my disese ginneth ebbe. Trewly, me thinketh that the sowne of my lamentacious weping is right now flowe in-to your presence, and there cryeth after mercy and grace, to which thing (me semeth)130thee list non answere to yeve, but with a deynous chere ye commaunden it to avoide; but god forbid that any word shuld of you springe, to have so litel routh! Pardè, pitè and mercy in every Margarite is closed by kynde amonges many other vertues, by qualitees of comfort ; but comfort is to me right naught worth ,135 withouten mercy and pitè of you alone; whiche thinges hastely god me graunt for his mercy!
REHERSINGE these thinges and many other, without tyme or moment of rest, me semed, for anguisshe of disese , that al-togider I was ravisshed, I can not telle how ; but hoolly all my passions and felinges weren lost , as it semed, for the tyme; and sodainly a maner of drede lighte in me al at ones; nought suche5fere as folk have of an enemy, that were mighty and wolde hem greve or don hem disese . For, I trowe, this is wel knowe to many persones, that otherwhyle, if a man be in his soveraignes presence, a maner of ferdnesse crepeth in his herte, not for harme, but of goodly subjeccion ; namely, as men reden that aungels ben aferde10 of our saviour in heven. And pardè, there ne is, ne may no passion of disese be; but it is to mene , that angels ben adradde, not by †ferdnes of drede, sithen they ben perfitly blissed, [but] as [by] affeccion of wonderfulnesse and by service of obedience. Suche ferde also han these lovers in presence of their loves, and15 subjectes aforn their soveraynes. Right so with ferdnesse myn herte was caught. And I sodainly astonied, there entred in-to the place there I was loggeda lady , the semeliest and most goodly to my sight that ever to-forn apered to any creature; and trewly, in the blustringe of her looke, she yave gladnesse and20comfort sodaynly to al my wittes; and right so she doth to every wight that cometh in her presence. And for she was so goodly, as me thought, myn herte began somdele to be enbolded, and wexte a litel hardy to speke; but yet, with a quakinge voyce, as I durste, I salued her, and enquired what she was;25 and why she, so worthy to sight, dayned to entre in-to so foule a dongeon, and namely a prison , without leve of my kepers. For certes, al-though the vertue of dedes of mercy strecchen to visiten the poore prisoners, and hem, after that facultees ben had, to comforte, me semed that I was so fer fallen in-to miserye and30wrecched hid caytifnesse, that me shulde no precious thingneighe ; and also, that for my sorowe every wight shulde ben hevy , and wisshe my recovery. But whan this lady had somdele apperceyved, as wel by my wordes as by my chere, what thought35 besied me within, with a good womanly countenance she sayde these wordes:—
‘O my nory , wenest thou that my maner be, to foryete my frendes or my servauntes? Nay ,’ quod she, ‘it is my ful entente to visyte and comforte al my frendshippes and allyes , as wel in40 tyme of perturbacion as of moost propertee of blisse; in me shal unkyndnesse never be founden: and also, sithen I have so fewe especial trewe now in these dayes. Wherefore I may wel at more leysar come to hem that me deserven; and if my cominge may in any thinge avayle, wete wel, I wol come often.’
45‘Now , good lady,’ quod I, ‘that art so fayre on to loke, reyninge hony by thy wordes, blisse of paradys arn thy lokinges, joye and comfort are thy movinges. What is thy name? How is it that in you is so mokel werkinge vertues enpight, as me semeth, and in none other creature that ever saw I with myne50 eyen?’
‘O good lady,’ quod I, ‘is this worship to thee or to thyn55 excellence, for to come in-to so foule a place? Pardè, somtyme, tho I was in prosperitè and with forayne goodes envolved, I had mokil to done to drawe thee to myn hostel; and yet many werninges thou madest er thou liste fully to graunte, thyn home to make at my dwelling-place; and now thou comest goodly by60thynowne vyse , to comforte me with wordes; and so there-thorough I ginne remembre on passed gladnesse. Trewly, lady, I ne wot whether I shal say welcome or non , sithen thy coming wol as moche do me tene and sorowe, as gladnesse and mirthe. See why: for that me comforteth to thinke on passed gladnesse,65 that me anoyeth efte to be in doinge. Thus thy cominge bothe gladdeth and teneth, and that is cause of moche sorowe. Lo, lady, how than I am comforted by your comminge’; and with that I gan in teeres to distille, and tenderly wepe.
‘Trewly,’ quod I, ‘that have ye maked, and that ever wol I rue.’
[ ] ‘Wottest thou not wel,’ quod she, ‘that every shepherde ought by reson to seke his sperkelande sheep , that arn ronne in-to75 wildernesse among busshes and perils, and hem to their pasture ayen-bringe, and take on hem privy besy cure of keping? And though the unconninge sheep scattred wolde ben lost , renning to wildernesse, and to desertes drawe, or els wolden putte hem-selfe to the swalowinge wolfe, yet shal the shepherde , by businesse and80 travayle, so putte him forth , that he shal not lete hem be lost by no waye. A good shepherde putteth rather his lyf to ben lost for his sheep . But for thou shalt not wene me being of werse condicion, trewly, for everich of my folke, and for al tho that to me-ward be knit in any condicion, I wol rather dye than suffre85 hem through errour to ben spilte. For me liste, and it me lyketh, of al myne a shepherdesse to be cleped. Wost thou not wel, I fayled never wight, but he me refused and wolde negligently go with unkyndenesse? And yet, pardè, have I many such holpe and releved, and they have ofte me begyled; but ever, at the ende,90 it discendeth in their owne nekkes. Hast thou not rad how kinde I was to Paris , Priamus sone of Troy? How Jason me falsed, for al his false behest? How Cesars †swink , I lefte it for no tene til he was troned in my blisse for his service? What!’ quod she,[ ] ‘most of al, maked I not a loveday bytwene god and mankynde,95 and chees a mayde to be nompere, to putte the quarel at ende?[ ] Lo! how I have travayled to have thank on al sydes, and yet list me not to reste , and I might fynde on †whom I shulde werche. But trewly, myn owne disciple, bycause I have thee founde, at al assayes, in thy wil to be redy myn hestes to have folowed and100hast ben trewe to that Margarite-perle that ones I thee shewed; and she alwaye, ayenward , hath mad but daungerous chere; I am come, in propre person, to putte thee out of errours, and make thee gladde by wayes of reson ; so that sorow ne disese shal 105 no more hereafter thee amaistry. Wherthrough I hope thou shalt lightly come to the grace, that thou longe hast desyred, of thilke jewel. Hast thou not herd many ensamples, how I have comforted and releved the scholers of my lore? Who hath worthyed kinges in the felde? Who hath honoured ladyes in110 boure by a perpetuel mirrour of their tr[o]uthe in my service? Who hath caused worthy folk to voyde vyce and shame? Who hath holde cytees and realmes in prosperitè? If thee liste clepe ayen thyn olde remembraunce, thou coudest every point of this declare in especial; and say that I, thy maistresse, have be cause ,115 causing these thinges and many mo other.’
120‘Wel than,’ quod she, ‘for I see thee in disese and sorowe, I wot wel thou art oon of my nories; I may not suffre thee so to make sorowe, thyn owne selfe to shende. But I my-selfe come to be thy fere, thyn hevy charge to make to seme the lesse. For wo is him that is alone; and to the sorye, to ben moned by a sorouful125 wight, it is greet gladnesse. Right so, with my sicke frendes I am[ ] sicke; and with sorie I can not els but sorowe make, til whan I have hem releved in suche wyse, that gladnesse, in a maner of counterpaysing, shal restore as mokil in joye as the passed hevinesse biforn did in tene. And also,’ quod she, ‘whan any of my130 servauntes ben alone in solitary place, I have yet ever besied me to be with hem, in comfort of their hertes, and taught hem to make songes of playnte and of blisse, and to endyten letters of rethorike in queynt understondinges, and to bethinke hem in what wyse they might best their ladies in good service plese ; and135 also to lerne maner in countenaunce, in wordes, and in bering , and to ben meke and lowly to every wight, his name and fame to encrese ; and to yeve gret yeftes and large, that his renomè may springen. But thee therof have I excused; for thy losse and thy[ ]grete costages, wherthrough thou art nedy, arn nothing to me140 unknowen; but I hope to god somtyme it shal ben amended, as thus I sayd. In norture have I taught al myne; and in curtesye made hem expert, their ladies hertes to winne; and if any wolde[ ] [b]en deynous or proude, or be envious or of wrecches acqueyntaunce, hasteliche have I suche voyded out of my scole . For al vyces trewly I hate; vertues and worthinesse in al my power145 I avaunce.’
‘Ah! worthy creature,’ quod I, ‘and by juste cause the name of goddesse dignely ye mowe bere ! In thee lyth the grace thorough whiche any creature in this worlde hath any goodnesse. Trewly, al maner of blisse and preciousnesse in vertue out of150thee springen and wellen, as brokes and rivers proceden from their springes. And lyke as al waters by kynde drawen to the see, so al kyndely thinges thresten, by ful appetyte of desyre, to drawe after thy steppes, and to thy presence aproche as to their kyndely perfeccion. How dare than beestes in this worlde aught forfete155 ayenst thy devyne purveyaunce? Also, lady, ye knowen al the privy thoughtes; in hertes no counsayl may ben hid from your knowing. Wherfore I wot wel, lady, that ye knowe your-selfe that I in my conscience am and have ben willinge to your service, al coude I never do as I shulde; yet, forsothe, fayned I never to160 love otherwyse than was in myn herte; and if I coude have made chere to one and y-thought another, as many other doon alday afore myn eyen, I trowe it wolde not me have vayled.’
[ ] ‘Ye wete wel, lady, eke,’ quod I, ‘that I have not played raket, “nettil in, docke out,” and with the wethercocke waved; and trewly, there ye me sette, by acorde of my conscience I wolde not flye, til ye and reson , by apert strength, maden myn herte to tourne.’170
‘In good fayth ,’ quod she, ‘I have knowe thee ever of tho condicions; and sithen thou woldest (in as moch as in thee was) a made me privy of thy counsayl and juge of thy conscience (though I forsook it in tho dayes til I saw better my tyme), wolde never god that I shuld now fayle; but ever I wol be redy175 witnessing thy sothe, in what place that ever I shal, ayenst al tho that wol the contrary susteyne. And for as moche as to me is naught unknowen ne hid of thy privy herte , but al hast thou tho thinges mad to me open at the ful, that hath caused my cominge180 in-to this prison, to voydethe webbes of thyne eyen, to make thee clerely to see the errours thou hast ben in. And bycause that men ben of dyvers condicions, some adradde to saye a sothe, and some for a sothe anon redy to fighte , and also that I may not myselfe ben in place to withsaye thilke men that of thee speken185 otherwyse than the sothe, I wol and I charge thee, in vertue of obedience that thou to me owest, to wryten my wordes and sette hem in wrytinges, that they mowe, as my witnessinge, ben noted among the people. For bookes written neyther dreden ne shamen, ne stryve conne; but only shewen the entente of the190 wryter, and yeve remembraunce to the herer; and if any wol in thy presence saye any-thing to tho wryters, loke boldely; truste on Mars to answere at the ful. For certes, I shal him enfourme of al the trouthe in thy love, with thy conscience; so that of his helpe thou shalt not varye at thy nede. I trowe the strongest and195 the beste that may be founde wol not transverse thy wordes; wherof than woldest thou drede?’
5‘Trewly, lady, now am I wel gladded through comfort of your wordes. Be it now lykinge unto your nobley to shewe whiche folk diffame your servauntes, sithe your service ought above al other thinges to ben commended.’
‘Yet,’ quod she, ‘I see wel thy soule is not al out of the10 amased cloude. Thee were better to here thing that thee might lighte out of thyn hevy charge and after knowing of thyn owne helpe, than to stirre swete wordes and such resons to here; for in a thoughtful soule (and namely suche oon as thou art ) wol not yet suche thinges sinken. Come of , therfore, and let me seen thy hevy charge, that I may the lightlier for thy comfort15purveye .’
‘In good fayth,’ quod I, ‘there shal no misplesaunce be caused through trespace on my syde.’
‘Myn owne erthly lady,’ quod I tho, ‘and yet remembre to your worthinesse how long sithen, by many revolving of yeres, in tyme whan Octobre his leve ginneth take and Novembre30 sheweth him to sight, whan bernes ben ful of goodes as is the nutte on every halke ; and than good lond-tillers ginne shape for the erthe with greet travayle, to bringe forth more corn to mannes sustenaunce, ayenst the nexte yeres folowing. In suche tyme of plentee he that hath an home and is wyse, list not to35 wander mervayles to seche, but he be constrayned or excited. Oft the lothe thing is doon , by excitacion of other mannes[ ] opinion, whiche wolden fayne have myn abydinge. [Tho gan I ] take in herte of luste to travayle and seethe wynding of the erthe in that tyme of winter. By woodes that large stretes wern in,40 by smale pathes that swyn and hogges hadden made, as lanes with ladels their maste to seche, I walked thinkinge alone a wonder greet whyle; and the grete beestes that the woode[ ] haunten and adorneth al maner forestes, and heerdes gonne to wilde. Than, er I was war , I neyghed to a see-banke; and for45 ferde of the beestes “shipcraft ” I cryde. For, lady, I trowe ye wete wel your-selfe, nothing is werse than the beestes that shulden ben tame, if they cacche her wildenesse, and ginne ayen waxe ramage. Thus forsothe was I a-ferd , and to shippe me hyed.50
Than were there y-nowe to lacche myn handes, and drawe me to shippe , of whiche many I knew wel the names. Sight was the first, Lust was another, Thought was the thirde; and Wil eke was there a mayster; these broughten me within-borde of this55shippe of Traveyle. So whan the sayl was sprad, and this ship gan to move, the wind and water gan for to ryse, and overthwartly to turne the welken. The wawes semeden as they kiste togider;[ ] but often under colour of kissinge is mokel old hate prively closed and kept . The storm so straungely and in a devouring60 maner gan so faste us assayle, that I supposed the date of my deth shulde have mad there his ginning. Now up, now downe, now under the wawe and now aboven was my ship a greet whyle. And so by mokel duresse of †weders and of stormes, and with greetavowing [of] pilgrimages, I was driven to an yle,65 where utterly I wende first to have be rescowed; but trewly, †at the first ginning, it semed me so perillous the haven to cacche , that but thorow grace I had ben comforted, of lyfe I was ful dispayred. Trewly, lady, if ye remembre a-right of al maner thinges, your-selfe cam hastely to sene us see-driven, and to70 weten what we weren. But first ye were deynous of chere, after whiche ye gonne better a-lighte ; and ever, as me thought, ye lived in greet drede of disese ; it semed so by your chere. And whan I was certifyed of your name, the lenger I loked in you, the more I you goodly dradde; and ever myn herte on you75[ ] opened the more; and so in a litel tyme my ship was out of mynde. But, lady, as ye me ladde , I was war bothe of beestes and of fisshes, a greet nombre thronging togider; among whiche a muskel, in a blewe shel, had enclosed a Margaryte-perle, the moste precious and best that ever to-forn cam in my sight.80 And ye tolden your-selfe, that ilke jewel in his kinde was so good and so vertuous, that her better shulde I never finde, al sought I ther-after to the worldes ende. And with that I held my pees a greet whyle; and ever sithen I have me bethought on the man that sought the precious Margarytes; and whan he had85 founden oon to his lyking, he solde al his good to bye that jewel. Y-wis, thought I, (and yet so I thinke), now have I founden the jewel that myn herte desyreth; wherto shulde I seche further? Trewly, now wol I stinte, and on this Margaryte I sette me for ever: now than also, sithen I wiste wel it was your wil that I shulde so suche a service me take; and so to desyre that thing,90 of whiche I never have blisse. There liveth non but he hath disese ; your might than that brought me to suche service, that to me is cause of sorowe and of joye. I wonder of your worde that ye sayn , “to bringen men in-to joye”; and, pardè, ye wete wel that defaut ne trespace may not resonably ben put to me-wardes,95 as fer as my conscience knoweth.
But of my disese me list now a whyle to speke, and to enforme you in what maner of blisse ye have me thronge. For truly I wene, that al gladnesse, al joye, and al mirthe is beshet under locke, and the keye throwe in suche place that it may not be100 founde. My brenning wo hath altred al my hewe. Whan I shulde slepe, I walowe and I thinke, and me disporte. Thus combred, I seme that al folk had me mased. Also, lady myne, desyre hath longe dured, some speking to have; or els at the lest have ben enmoysed with sight; and for wantinge of these thinges105 my mouth wolde, and he durst, pleyne right sore, sithen yvels for my goodnesse arn manyfolde to me yolden. I wonder, lady, trewly, save evermore your reverence, how ye mowe, for shame, suche thinges suffre on your servaunt to be so multiplied. Wherfore, kneling with a lowe herte, I pray you to rue on this110caytif , that of nothing now may serve . Good lady, if ye liste, now your help to me shewe, that am of your privyest servantes at al assayes in this tyme, and under your winges of proteccion . No help to me-wardes is shapen; how shal than straungers in any wyse after socour loke, whan I, that am so privy, yet of helpe115 I do fayle? Further may I not, but thus in this prison abyde; what bondes and chaynes me holden, lady, ye see wel your-selfe. A renyant forjuged hath not halfe the care. But thus, syghing and sobbing, I wayle here alone; and nere it for comfort of your presence, right here wolde I sterve. And yet a litel am I gladded ,120 that so goodly suche grace andnon hap have I hent , graciously to fynde the precious Margarite, that (al other left ) men shulde bye, if they shulde therfore selle al her substaunce. Wo is me, that so many let-games and purpose-brekers ben maked wayters,125 suche prisoners as I am to overloke and to hinder; and, for suche lettours, it is hard any suche jewel to winne. Is this, lady, an honour to thy deitee ? Me thinketh, by right, suche people shulde have no maistrye, ne ben overlokers over none of thy servauntes. Trewly, were it leful unto you, to al the goddes130 wolde I playne, that ye rule your devyne purveyaunce amonges your servantes nothing as ye shulde . Also, lady, my moeble is insuffysaunt to countervayle the price of this jewel, or els to make th’eschange. Eke no wight is worthy suche perles to were but kinges or princes or els their peres. This jewel, for vertue,135 wold adorne and make fayre al a realme; the nobley of vertue is so moche, that her goodnesse overal is commended. Who is it that wolde not wayle, but he might suche richesse have at his wil? The vertue therof out of this prison may me deliver, and naught els. And if I be not ther-thorow holpen, I see my-selfe140 withouten recovery. Although I might hence voyde, yet wolde I not; I wolde abyde the day that destenee hath me ordeyned, whiche I suppose is without amendement; so sore is my herte bounden, that I may thinken non other. Thus strayte, lady, hath sir Daunger laced me in stockes, I leve it be not your wil;145 and for I see you taken so litel hede, as me thinketh, and wol not maken by your might the vertue in mercy of the Margaryte on me for to strecche , so as ye mowe wel in case that you liste, my blisse and my mirthe arnfeld ; sicknesse and sorowe ben alwaye redy. The cope of tene is wounde aboute al my body,150 that stonding is me best; unneth may I ligge for pure misesy sorowe. And yet al this is litel ynough to be the ernest-silver in forwarde of this bargayne; for treble-folde so mokel muste I suffer er tyme come of myn ese . For he is worthy no welthe, that may no wo suffer . And certes, I am hevy to thinke on these thinges;155 but who shal yeve me water ynough to drinke, lest myn eyen drye, for renning stremes of teres ? Who shal waylen with me myn owne happy hevinesse ? Who shal counsaile me now in[ ] my lyking tene, and in my goodly harse ? I not. For ever the more I brenne, the more I coveyte; the more that I sorow, the160 more thrist I in gladnesse. Who shal than yeve me a contrarious drink , to stanche the thurste of my blisful bitternesse? Lo, thus I brenne and I drenche; I shiver and I swete . To this reversed yvel was never yet ordeyned salve; forsoth al †leches ben unconning, save the Margaryte alone, any suche remedye to purveye .’
AND with these wordes I brast out to wepe, that every teere of myne eyen, for greetnessesemed they boren out the bal of my sight, and that al the water had ben out-ronne. Than thought me that Love gan a litel to hevye for miscomfort of my chere; and gan soberly and in esy maner speke, wel avysinge what5 she sayd. Comenly the wyse speken esily and softe for many skilles. Oon is, their wordes are the better bileved; and also, in esy spekinge , avysement men may cacche , what to putte forth and what to holden in. And also, the auctoritè of esy wordes is the more; and eke, they yeven the more understandinge to other10 intencion of the mater. Right so this lady esely and in a softe maner gan say these wordes.
¶ ‘Mervayle,’ quod she, ‘greet it is, that by no maner of semblaunt, as fer as I can espye, thou list not to have any recour; but ever thou playnest and sorowest, and wayes of remedye, for15 folisshe wilfulnesse, thee list not to seche. But enquyre of thy next frendes, that is, thyne inwit and me that have ben thy maystresse, and the recour and fyne of thy disese ; [f]or of disese is gladnesse and joy, with a ful †vessel so helded, that it quencheth the felinge of the firste tenes. But thou that were wont not only20 these thinges remembre in thyne herte, but also fooles therof to enfourmen, in adnullinge of their errours and distroying of their derke opinions, and in comfort of their sere thoughtes; now canst thou not ben comfort of thyn owne soule, in thinking of these thinges. O where hast thou be so longe commensal , that hast so25 mikel eeten of the potages of foryetfulnesse, and dronken so of[ ] ignorance, that the olde souking[es] whiche thou haddest of me arn amaystred and lorn fro al maner of knowing? O, this is a worthy person to helpe other, that can not counsayle him-selfe!’30 And with these wordes, for pure and stronge shame, I wox al reed.
And she than, seing me so astonyed by dyvers stoundes, sodainly (which thing kynde hateth) gan deliciously me comforte with sugred wordes, putting me in ful hope that I shulde the35 Margarite getten, if I folowed her hestes; and gan with a fayre clothe to wypen the teres that hingen on my chekes; and than sayd I in this wyse.
‘Now , wel of wysdom and of al welthe, withouten thee may nothing ben lerned; thou berest the keyes of al privy thinges.40 In vayne travayle men to cacche any stedship, but-if ye, lady, first the locke unshet. Ye, lady, lerne us the wayes and the by-pathes to heven. Ye, lady, maken al the hevenly bodyes goodly and benignely to don her cours , that governen us beestes here on erthe. Ye armen your servauntes ayenst al debates with45 imperciable harneys; ye setten in her hertes insuperable blood of hardinesse; ye leden hem to the parfit good. Yet al thing[ ] desyreth ye werne no man of helpe, that †wol don your lore. Graunt me now a litel of your grace, al my sorowes to cese .’
50‘Myne owne servaunt,’ quod she, ‘trewly thou sittest nye myne herte; and thy badde chere gan sorily me greve. But amonge thy playning wordes, me thought, thou allegest thinges to be letting of thyne helpinge and thy grace to hinder; wherthrough , me thinketh, that wanhope is crope thorough thyn hert. God55 forbid that nyse unthrifty thought shulde come in thy mynde, thy wittes to trouble; sithen every thing in coming is contingent. Wherfore make no more thy proposicion by an impossible. But now , I praye thee reherse me ayen tho thinges that thy mistrust causen; and thilke thinges I thinke by reson to60 distroyen, and putte ful hope in thyn herte. What understondest thou there,’ quod she, ‘by that thou saydest, “manylet-games are thyn overlokers?” And also by “that thy moeble is insuffysaunt”? I not what thou therof menest .’
‘Trewly,’ quod I, ‘by the first I say, that janglers evermore65arn spekinge rather of yvel than of good; for every age of man rather enclyneth to wickednesse, than any goodnesse to avaunce. Also false wordes springen so wyde, by the stering of false lying tonges, that fame als swiftely flyeth to her eres and sayth many wicked tales; and as soone shal falsenesse ben leved as tr[o]uthe, for al his gret sothnesse.70
Now by that other,’ quod I, ‘me thinketh thilke jewel so precious, that to no suche wrecche as I am wolde vertue therof extende; and also I am to feble in worldly joyes, any suche jewel to countrevayle. For suche people that worldly joyes han at her wil ben sette at the highest degree, and most in reverence75 ben accepted. For false wening maketh felicitè therin to be supposed; but suche caytives as I am evermore ben hindred.’
‘Yes, forsothe,’ quod I.5
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘raddest thou never how Paris of Troye and Heleyne loved togider, and yet had they not entrecomuned of speche? Also Acrisius shette Dane his doughter in a tour , for suertee that no wight shulde of her have no maistry in my service; and yet Jupiter by signes, without any speche, had10 al his purpose ayenst her fathers wil. And many suche mo have ben knitte in trouthe, and yet spake they never togider; for that is a thing enclosed under secretnesse of privytè, why twey persons entremellen hertes after a sight. The power in knowing, of such thinges †to preven, shal nat al utterly be yeven to you15beestes ; for many thinges, in suche precious maters, ben reserved to jugement of devyne purveyaunce; for among lyving people, by mannes consideracion, moun they nat be determined. Wherfore I saye, al the envy, al the janglinge, that wel ny [al ]20 people upon my servauntes maken †ofte , is rather cause of esployte than of any hindringe.’
‘Why, than,’ quod I, ‘suffre ye such wrong; and moun, whan ye list, lightly al such yvels abate? Me semeth, to you it is a greet unworship.’
25‘O,’ quod she, ‘hold now thy pees . I have founden to many that han ben to me unkynde, that trewly I wol suffre every wight in that wyse to have disese ; and who that continueth to the ende wel and trewly, hem wol I helpen, and as for oon of myne in-to[ ] blisse [don ] to wende. As [in ] marcial doing in Grece, who30 was y-crowned? By god, nat the strongest; but he that rathest com and lengest abood and continued in the journey, and spared nat to traveyle as long as the play leste . But thilke person, that profred him now to my service, [and] therin is a while, and anon voideth and [is ] redy to another; and so now oon he thinketh35 and now another; and in-to water entreth and anon respireth: such oon list me nat in-to perfit blisse of my service bringe. A tree ofte set in dyvers places wol nat by kynde endure to bringe forth frutes. Loke now , I pray thee, how myne olde servauntes of tyme passed continued in her service, and folowe thou after40 their steppes; and than might thou not fayle, in case thou worche in this wyse.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘it is nothing lich, this world , to tyme passed; eke this countrè hath oon maner, and another countrè hath another. And so may nat a man alway putte to his eye the45salve that he heled with his hele. For this is sothe: betwixe two thinges liche, ofte dyversitè is required.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘that is sothe; dyversitè of nation, dyversitè of lawe, as was maked by many resons ; for that dyversitè cometh in by the contrarious malice of wicked people, that han envyous hertes50 ayenst other. But trewly, my lawe to my servauntes ever hath ben in general, whiche may nat fayle. For right as mannes †lawe that is ordained by many determinacions , may nat be knowe for good or badde, til assay of the people han proved it and [founded ] to what ende it draweth; and than it sheweth the necessitè therof, or els the impossibilitè: right so the lawe of my servauntes55 so wel hath ben proved in general, that hitherto hath it not fayled.
Wiste thou not wel that al the lawe of kynde is my lawe, and by god ordayned and stablisshed to dure by kynde resoun ? Wherfore al lawe by mannes witte purveyed ought to be underput to lawe of kynde, whiche yet hath be commune to every kyndely60 creature; that my statutes and my lawe that ben kyndely arn general to al peoples. Olde doinges and by many turninges of yeres used, and with the peoples maner proved, mowen nat so lightly ben defased; but newe doinges, contrariauntes suche olde, ofte causen diseses and breken many purposes. Yet saye I nat65 therfore that ayen newe mischeef men shulde nat ordaynen a newe remedye; but alwaye looke it contrary not the olde no ferther than the malice streccheth . Than foloweth it, the olde doinges in love han ben universal, as for most exployte[s] forth used; wherfore I wol not yet that of my lawes nothing be adnulled.70 But thanne to thy purpos : suche jangelers and lokers, and wayters of games, if thee thinke in aught they mowe dere, yet love wel alwaye, and sette hem at naught; and let thy port ben lowe in every wightes presence, and redy in thyne herte to maynteyne that thou hast begonne; and a litel thee fayne with75 mekenesse in wordes; and thus with sleyght shalt thou surmount[ ] and dequace the yvel in their hertes. And wysdom yet is to seme flye otherwhyle, there a man wol fighte . Thus with suche thinges the tonges of yvel shal ben stilled; els fully to graunte thy ful meninge , for-sothe ever was and ever it shal be, that myn enemyes80 ben aferde to truste to any fightinge. And therfore have thou no cowardes herte in my service, no more than somtyme thou haddest in the contrarye. For if thou drede suche jangleres, thy viage to make, understand wel, that he that dredeth any rayn , to sowe his cornes , he shal have than [bare ] bernes. Also he that85 is aferd of his clothes, let him daunce naked! Who nothing undertaketh, and namely in my service, nothing acheveth. Aftergrete stormes the †weder is often mery and smothe. After moche clatering, there is mokil rowning. Thus, after jangling wordes, cometh “huissht ! pees ! and be stille !” ’90
‘O good lady!’ quod I than, ‘see now how , seven yere passed [ ] and more, have I graffed and †grobbed a vyne; and with al the wayes that I coude I sought to a fed me of the grape; but frute have I non founde. Also I have this seven yere served Laban, to95 a wedded Rachel his doughter; but blere-eyed Lya is brought to my bedde, which alway engendreth my tene, and is ful of children in tribulacion and in care. And although the clippinges and kissinges of Rachel shulde seme to me swete, yet is she so barayne that gladnesse ne joye by no way wol springe; so that100 I may wepe with Rachel. I may not ben counsayled with solace, sithen issue of myn hertely desyre is fayled. Now than I pray that to me [come ] sone fredom and grace in this eight[eth] yere; this eighteth mowe to me bothe be kinrest and masseday, after the seven werkedays of travayle, to folowe the Christen lawe; and,105 what ever ye do els, that thilke Margaryte be holden so, lady, in your privy chambre, that she in this case to none other person be committed.’
‘Loke than,’ quod she, ‘thou persever in my service, in whiche I have thee grounded; that thilke scorn in thyn enemyes mowe110 this on thy person be not sothed : “lo! this man began to edefye, but, for his foundement is bad, to the ende may he it not bringe.” For mekenesse in countenaunce, with a manly hert in dedes and in longe continuaunce, is the conisance of my livery to al my retinue delivered. What wenest thou, that me list avaunce suche115 persons as loven the first sittinges at feestes, the highest stoles in churches and in hal, loutinges of peoples in markettes and fayres;[ ] unstedfaste to byde in one place any whyle togider; wening his owne wit more excellent than other; scorning al maner devyse but his own? Nay, nay, god wot, these shul nothing parten of120 my blisse. Truly, my maner here-toforn hath ben [to] worship[pe] with my blisse lyons in the felde and lambes in chambre; egles at assaute and maydens in halle; foxes in counsayle, stil[le] in their dedes; and their proteccioun is graunted, redy to ben a bridge ; and their baner is arered, like wolves in the felde.125 Thus, by these wayes, shul men ben avaunced; ensample of David, that from keping of shepe was drawen up in-to the order[ ] of kingly governaunce; and Jupiter, from a bole, to ben Europes fere; and Julius Cesar, from the lowest degrè in Rome, to be mayster of al erthly princes; and Eneas from hel, to be king of the countrè there Rome is now stonding. And so to thee I say;130 thy grace, by bering ther-after, may sette thee in suche plight, that no jangling may greve the leest tucke of thy hemmes; that [suche] are their †jangles , is nought to counte at a cresse in thy disavauntage.
CHAPTER VI.[ ]
EVER,’ quod she, ‘hath the people in this worlde desyred to have had greet name in worthinesse, and hated foule to bere any [en]fame ; and that is oon of the objeccions thou alegest to be ayen thyne hertely desyre.’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod I; ‘and that, so comenly, the people wol5 lye, and bringe aboute suche enfame.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘if men with lesinges putte on thee enfame, wenest thy-selfe therby ben enpeyred? That wening is wrong ; see why; for as moche as they lyen, thy meryte encreseth , and make[th] thee ben more worthy, to hem that knowen of the soth;10 by what thing thou art apeyred, that in so mokil thou art encresed[ ] of thy beloved frendes. And sothly, a wounde of thy frende [is ] to thee lasse harm , ye, sir, and better than a fals kissing in disceyvable glosing of thyne enemy; above that than, to be wel with thy frende maketh [voyd ] suche enfame. Ergo, thou art encresed15 and not apeyred.’
[ ] ‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘somtyme yet, if a man be in disese , th’estimacion of the envyous people ne loketh nothing to desertes of men, ne to the merytes of their doinges, but only to the aventure of fortune; and therafter they yeven their sentence. And some20 loken the voluntary wil in his herte, and therafter telleth his jugement; not taking hede to reson ne to the qualitè of the[ ] doing; as thus. If a man be riche and fulfild with worldly welfulnesse, some commenden it, and sayn it is so lent by juste cause; and he that hath adversitè, they sayn he is weked ; and25 hath deserved thilke anoy . The contrarye of these thinges some [ ] men holden also; and sayn that to the riche prosperitè is purvayed in-to his confusion; and upon this mater many autoritès of many and greet-witted clerkes they alegen. And some men30[ ] sayn, though al good estimacion forsake folk that han adversitè, yet is it meryte and encrees of his blisse; so that these purposes arn so wonderful in understanding, that trewly, for myn adversitè now , I not how the sentence of the indifferent people wil jugen my fame.’
35‘Therfore,’ quod she, ‘if any wight shulde yeve a trewe sentence on suche maters, the cause of the disese maist thou see wel. Understand ther-upon after what ende it draweth, that is to sayne, good or badde; so ought it to have his fame †by goodnesse or enfame by badnesse. For [of] every resonable person, and40 namely of a wyse man, his wit ought not, without reson to-forn herd , sodainly in a mater to juge. After the sawes of the wyse, “thou shalt not juge ne deme toforn thou knowe.” ’
‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘ye remembre wel, that in moste laude and praysing of certayne seyntes in holy churche, is to rehersen their45conuersion from badde in-to good; and that is so rehersed, as[ ] by a perpetual mirrour of remembraunce, in worshippinge of tho sayntes, and good ensample to other misdoers in amendement. How turned the Romayne Zedeoreys fro the Romaynes, to be with Hanibal ayenst his kynde nacion; and afterwardes,50 him seming the Romayns to be at the next degrè of confusion, turned to his olde alyes; by whose witte after was Hanibal discomfited. Wherfore, to enfourme you, lady, the maner-why[ ]I mene, see now . In my youth I was drawe to ben assentaunt and (in my mightes) helping to certain conjuracions and other55grete maters of ruling of citizins; and thilke thinges ben my drawers in; and ex[c]itours to tho maters wern so paynted and coloured that (at the prime face) me semed them noble and glorious to al the people. I than, wening mikel meryte have deserved in furthering and mayntenaunce of tho thinges, besyed60 and laboured, with al my diligence, in werkinge of thilke maters to the ende. And trewly, lady, to telle you the sothe, me rought litel of any hate of the mighty senatours in thilke citè, ne of comunes malice; for two skilles. Oon was, I had comfort to ben in suche plyte, that bothe profit were to me and to my frendes. Another was, for commen profit in cominaltee is not but pees and65 tranquilitè, with just governaunce, proceden from thilke profit ; sithen, by counsayle of myne inwitte, me thought the firste painted thinges malice and yvel meninge , withouten any good avayling to any people, and of tyrannye purposed. And so, for pure sorowe, and of my medlinge and badde infame that I was in ronne, tho70 [the ] teres [that ] lasshed out of myne eyen were thus awaye wasshe, than the under-hidde malice and the rancour of purposing envye, forncast and imagined in distruccion of mokil people, shewed so openly, that, had I ben blind , with myne hondes al the circumstaunce I might wel have feled.75
Now than tho persones that suche thinges have cast to redresse,[ ] for wrathe of my first medlinge, shopen me to dwelle in this pynande prison, til Lachases my threed no lenger wolde twyne. And ever I was sought, if me liste to have grace of my lyfe and frenesse of that prison, I shulde openly confesse how pees might80 ben enduced to enden al the firste rancours. It was fully supposed my knowing to be ful in tho maters. Than, lady, I thought that every man that, by any waye of right, rightfully don , mayhelpe any comune †wele to ben saved; whiche thing to kepe above al thinges I am holde to mayntayne, and namely in85distroying of a wrong; al shulde I therthrough enpeche myn owne fere, if he were gilty and to do misdeed assentaunt. And mayster ne frend may nought avayle to the soule of him that in falsnesse deyeth; and also that I nere desyred wrathe of the people ne indignacion of the worthy, for nothinge that ever I90 wrought or did, in any doing my-selfe els, but in the mayntenaunce of these foresayd errours and in hydinge of the privitees therof. And that al the peoples hertes, holdinge on the errours syde, weren blinde and of elde so ferforth begyled, that debat and stryf they maynteyned, and in distruccion on that other syde;95 by whiche cause the pees , that moste in comunaltee shulde be desyred, was in poynte to be broken and adnulled. Also the citee of London, that is to me so dere and swete, in whiche I was forth growen; (and more kyndely love have I to that place than to any100 other in erthe, as every kyndely creature hath ful appetyte to that place of his kyndly engendrure, and to wilne reste and pees in that stede to abyde); thilke pees shulde thus there have ben broken, and of al wyse it is commended and desyred. For knowe thing it is, al men that desyren to comen to the perfit pees everlasting105 must the pees by god commended bothe mayntayne and kepe. This pees by angels voyce was confirmed, our god entringe[ ] in this worlde. This, as for his Testament, he lefte to al his frendes, whanne he retourned to the place from whence he cam ; this his apostel amonesteth to holden, without whiche man perfitly110 may have non insight. Also this god, by his coming, made not pees alone betwene hevenly and erthly bodyes, but also amonge us on erthe so he pees confirmed, that in one heed of love oon body we shulde perfourme. Also I remembre me wel how the name of Athenes was rather after the god of pees than of batayle,115 shewinge that pees moste is necessarie to comunaltees and citees . I than, so styred by al these wayes toforn nempned, declared certayne poyntes in this wyse. Firste, that thilke persones that hadden me drawen to their purposes, and me not weting the privy entent of their meninge , drawen also the feeble witted120 people, that have non insight of gubernatif prudence, to clamure and to crye on maters that they styred; and under poyntes for comune avauntage they enbolded the passif to take in the actives doinge; and also styred innocentes of conning to crye after thinges, whiche (quod they) may not stande but we ben125 executours of tho maters, and auctoritè of execucion by comen eleccion to us be delivered. And that muste entre by strength of your mayntenaunce. For we out of suche degree put, oppression of these olde hindrers shal agayn surmounten, and putten you in such subjeccion , that in endelesse wo ye shul complayne.
130The governementes (quod they) of your citè, lefte in the handes of torcencious citezins, shal bringe in pestilence and distruccion to you, good men; and therfore let us have the comune administracion to abate suche yvels. Also (quod they) it is worthy the good to commende, and the gilty desertes to chastice. There135 ben citezens many, for-ferde of execucion that shal be doon ; for extorcions by hem committed ben evermore ayenst these purposes and al other good mevinges. Never-the-latter, lady, trewly the meninge under these wordes was, fully to have apeched the mighty senatoures , whiche hadden hevy herte for the misgovernaunce that they seen. And so, lady, whan it fel that free140eleccion [was mad], by greet clamour of moche people, [that ] for greet disese of misgovernaunce so fervently stoden in her eleccion that they hem submitted to every maner †fate rather than have suffred the maner and the rule of the hated governours; notwithstandinge that in the contrary helden moche comune meyny,145 that have no consideracion but only to voluntary lustes withouten reson . But than thilke governour so forsaken, fayninge to-forn his undoinge for misrule in his tyme, shoop to have letted thilke eleccion , and have made a newe, him-selfe to have ben chosen; and under that, mokil rore [to] have arered. These thinges, lady,150 knowen among the princes, and made open to the people, draweth in amendement, that every degree shal ben ordayned to stande there-as he shulde; and that of errours coming herafter men may lightly to-forn-hand purvaye remedye; in this wyse pees and rest to be furthered and holde. Of the whiche thinges, lady,155 thilke persones broughten in answere to-forn their moste soverayne juge, not coarted by payninge dures , openly knowlegeden, and asked therof grace; so that apertly it preveth my wordes ben sothe, without forginge of lesinges .
But now it greveth me to remembre these dyvers sentences, in160 janglinge of these shepy people; certes, me thinketh, they oughten to maken joye that a sothe may be knowe. For my trouthe and my conscience ben witnesse to me bothe, that this (knowinge sothe) have I sayd , for no harme ne malice of tho persones, but only for trouthe of my sacrament in my ligeaunce , by whiche165 I was charged on my kinges behalfe. But see ye not now , lady, how the felonous thoughtes of this people and covins of wicked men conspyren ayen my sothfast trouth! See ye not every wight that to these erroneous opinions were assentaunt, and helpes to the noyse, and knewen al these thinges better than I my-selven,170 apparaylen to fynden newe frendes, and clepen me fals , and studyen how they mowen in her mouthes werse plyte nempne? O god, what may this be, that thilke folk whiche that in tyme of my mayntenaunce, and whan my might avayled to strecche to175 the forsayd maters, tho me commended, and yave me name of trouth, in so manyfolde maners that it was nyghe in every wightes eere, there-as any of thilke people weren; and on the other syde, thilke company somtyme passed , yevinge me name of badde loos: now bothe tho peoples turned the good in-to180 badde, and badde in-to good? Whiche thing is wonder, that they knowing me saying but sothe, arn now tempted to reply her olde praysinges; and knowen me wel in al doinges to ben trewe, and sayn openly that I false have sayd many thinges! And they aleged nothing me to ben false or untrewe, save thilke mater185 knowleged by the parties hem-selfe; and god wot , other mater is non . Ye also, lady, knowe these thinges for trewe; I avaunte not in praysing of my-selfe; therby shulde I lese the precious secrè of my conscience. But ye see wel that false opinion of the[ ] people for my trouthe, in telling out of false conspyred maters;190 and after the jugement of these clerkes, I shulde not hyde the sothe of no maner person, mayster ne other. Wherfore I wolde not drede, were it put in the consideracion of trewe and of wyse. And for comers hereafter shullen fully, out of denwere , al the sothe knowe of these thinges in acte, but as they wern , I have195 put it in scripture, in perpetuel remembraunce of true meninge . For trewly, lady, me semeth that I ought to bere the name of trouthe, that for the love of rightwysnesse have thus me †submitted . But now than the false fame, which that (clerkessayn ) flyeth as faste as doth the fame of trouthe, shal so wyde sprede200[ ] til it be brought to the jewel that I of mene ; and so shal I ben hindred, withouten any mesure of trouthe.’
CHAPTER VII.[ ]
THAN gan Love sadly me beholde, and sayd in a changed voyce, lower than she had spoken in any tyme: ‘Fayn wolde I,’ quod she, ‘that thou were holpen; but hast thou sayd any-thing whiche thou might not proven?’
‘Pardè,’ quod I, ‘the persones, every thing as I have sayd, han5 knowleged hem-selfe.’
‘Sothely,’ quod I, ‘it is wel wist , bothe amonges the greetest and other of the realme, that I profered my body so largely in-to10 provinge of tho thinges, that Mars shulde have juged the ende; but, for sothnesse of my wordes, they durste not to thilke juge truste.’
‘Now , certes,’ quod she, ‘above al fames in this worlde, the name of marcial doinges most plesen to ladyes of my lore; but15 sithen thou were redy, and thyne adversaryes in thy presence refused thilke doing; thy fame ought to be so born as if in dede it had take to the ende. And therfore every wight that any droppe of reson hath, and hereth of thee infame for these thinges, hath this answere to saye: “trewly thou saydest; for thyne20 adversaryes thy wordes affirmed.” And if thou haddest lyed, yet are they discomfited, the prise leved on thy syde; so that fame shal holde down infame; he shal bringe [it in] upon none halfe. What greveth thee thyne enemye[s] to sayn their owne shame, as thus: “we arn discomfited, and yet our quarel is25 trewe?” Shal not the loos of thy frendes ayenward dequace thilke enfame, and saye they graunted a sothe without a stroke or fighting? Many men in batayle ben discomfited and overcome in a rightful quarel, that is goddes privy jugement in heven; but yet, although the party be yolden, he may with wordes saye his30 quarel is trewe, and to yelde him, in the contrarye, for drede of dethe he is compelled; and he that graunteth and no stroke hath feled, he may not crepe away in this wyse by none excusacion. Indifferentfolk wil say: “ye, who is trewe, who is fals , him-selfe35 knowlegeth tho thinges.” Thus in every syde fame sheweth to thee good and no badde.’
‘But yet,’ quod I, ‘some wil say, I ne shulde, for no dethe, have discovered my maistresse ; and so by unkyndnesse they wol knette infame, to pursue me aboute. Thus enemyes of wil,40 in manyfolde maner, wol seche privy serpentynes queintyses, to quenche and distroye, by venim of many besinesses, the light of tr[o]uthe; to make hertes to murmure ayenst my persone, to have me in hayne withouten any cause.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘here me a fewe wordes, and thou shalt fully45 ben answered , I trowe. Me thinketh (quod she) right now , by thy wordes, that sacrament of swering , that is to say, charging by othe, was oon of the causes to make thee discover the malicious imaginacions tofore nempned. Every ooth , by knittinge of copulacion , muste have these lawes, that is, trewe jugement and right-wysenesse;50 in whiche thinge if any of these lacke, the ooth is y-tourned in-to the name of perjury. Than to make a trewe serment, most nedes these thinges folowe . For ofte tymes, a man to saye sothe, but jugement and justice folowe, he is forsworn; ensample of Herodes, for holdinge of his serment was [he ]55 dampned.
[ ] Also, to saye tr[o]uthe rightfulliche (but in jugement) otherwhile is forboden, by that al sothes be nat to sayne. Therfore in jugement, in tr[o]uthe, and rightwisenesse, is every creature bounden, up payne of perjury, ful knowing to make, tho[ugh] it60 were of his owne persone, for drede of sinne; after that worde , “better is it to dey than live false .” And, al wolde perverted people fals report make in unkyndnesse, in that entent thy [en]fame to reyse, whan light of tr[o]uthe in these maters is forth sprongen and openly publisshed among commens, than shal nat suche65 derke enfame dare appere, for pure shame of his falsnesse. As some men ther ben that their owne enfame can none otherwyse voide or els excuse, but †by hindringe of other mennes fame; which that by non other cause clepen other men false, but for [that ] with their owne falsnesse mowen they nat ben avaunsed; or els70 by false sklaund[r]inge wordes other men shenden , their owne trewe sklaunder to make seme the lasse. For if such men wolden their eyen of their conscience revolven, [they ] shulden seen the[ ] same sentence they legen on other springe out of their sydes, with so many braunches, it were impossible to nombre. To whiche[ ] therefore mayit be sayd in that thinge, “this man thou demest ,75 therein thy-selfe thou condempnest.”
But (quod she) understand nat by these wordes, that thou wene me saye thee to be worthy sclaunder, for any mater tofore written; truely I wolde witnesse the contrary; but I saye that the bemes of sclaundring wordes may not be don awaye til the80 daye of dome. For how shulde it nat yet, amonges so greetplentee of people, ben many shrewes, sithen whan no mo but eight persons in Noes shippe were closed, yet oon was a shrewe and skorned his father? These thinges (quod she) I trowe, shewen that fals fame is nat to drede, ne of wyse persons to accepte, and85 namely nat of thy Margarite, whose wysdom here-after I thinke to declare; wherfore I wot wel suche thing shal nat her asterte; than of unkyndnesse thynooth hath thee excused at the fulle. But now , if thou woldest nat greve, me list a fewe thinges to shewe.’90
‘Trewly,’ quod she, ‘that is sothe, so thou con wel kepe these wordes, and in the in[ne]rest secrè chambre of thyne herte so faste hem close that they never flitte; than shalt thou fynde hem95 avayling. Loke now what people hast thou served; whiche of hem al in tyme of thyne exile ever thee refresshed, by the valewe of the leste coyned plate that walketh in money? Who was sory , or made any rewth for thy disese ? If they hadden getten their purpose, of thy misaventure sette they nat an hawe. Lo, whan100 thou were emprisonned , how faste they hyed in helpe of thy deliveraunce! I wene of thy dethe they yeve but lyte. They loked after no-thing but after their owne lustes. And if thou liste[ ] say the sothe, al that meyny that in this †brige thee broughten, lokeden rather after thyne helpesthan thee to have releved.105
Owen nat yet some of hem money for his commens? Paydest nat thou for some of her dispences, til they were tourned out of Selande ? Who yave thee ever ought for any rydinge thou madest? Yet, pardè , some of hem token money for thy chambre , and110 putte tho pens in his purse, unwetinge of the renter.
Lo for which a company thou medlest, that neither thee ne them-selfe mighten helpe of unkyndnesse ; now they bere the name that thou supposest of hem for to have. What might thou more have don than thou diddest, but-if thou woldest in a fals115 quarel have been a stinkinge martyr? I wene thou fleddest , as longe as thou might, their privitè to counsayle; which thing thou hele[de]st lenger than thou shuldest. And thilke that ought thee money no penny wolde paye; they wende thy returne hadde ben an impossible. How might thou better have hem proved, but thus120[ ] in thy nedy diseses ? Now hast thou ensaumple for whom thou shalt meddle; trewly, this lore is worth many goodes.’
CHAPTER VIII.[ ]
†EFT gan Love to †steren me [with ] these wordes: ‘thinke on my speche; for trewly here-after it wol do thee lykinge; and how-so-ever thou see Fortune shape her wheele to tourne,[ ] this meditacion [shal] by no waye revolve. For certes, Fortune5 sheweth her fayrest, whan she thinketh to begyle. And as me thought, here-toforn thou saydest, thy loos in love, for thy right-wysenesse ought to be raysed, shulde be a-lowed in tyme cominge. Thou might in love so thee have, that loos and fame shul so ben raysed, that to thy frendes comfort , and sorowe to thyne enemys,10 endlesse shul endure.
But if thou were the oon sheep , amonges the hundred, were lost in deserte and out of the way hadde erred, and now to the flocke art restoored, the shepherd hath in thee no joye and thou ayen to the forrest tourne. But that right as the sorowe and anguisshe15 was greet in tyme of thyne out-waye goinge, right so joye and gladnesse shal be doubled to sene thee converted; and nat as Lothes wyf ayen-lokinge, but [in] hool counsayle with the shepe folowinge, and with them grasse and herbes gadre. Never-the-later (quod she) I saye nat these thinges for no wantrust that I have in supposinge of thee otherwyse than I shulde. For20 trewly, I wot wel that now thou art set in suche a purpose, out of whiche thee liste nat to parte. But I saye it for many men there been , that to knowinge of other mennes doinges setten al their cure, and lightly desyren the badde to clatter rather than the good, and have no wil their owne maner to amende. They also25 hate of olde rancours lightly haven; and there that suche thing abydeth, sodaynly in their mouthes procedeth the habundaunce of the herte, and wordes as stones out-throwe. Wherfore my counsayl is ever-more openly and apertly , in what place thou sitte, counterplete th’errours and meninges in as fer as thou hem30wistest false, and leve for no wight to make hem be knowe in every bodyes ere ; and be alway pacient anduse Jacobes wordes , what-so-ever men of thee clappen: “I shal sustayne my ladyes wrathe which I have deserved, so longe as my Margarite hath rightwysed my cause.” And certes (quod she) I witnesse my-selfe,35 if thou, thus converted, sorowest in good meninge in thyne herte, [and] wolt from al vanitè parfitly departe, in consolacioun of al good plesaunce of that Margaryte, whiche that thou desyrest after wil of thyn herte , in a maner of a †moders pitè, [she ] shul fully accepte thee in-to grace. For right as thou rentest clothes in40 open sighte, so openly to sowe hem at his worshippe withouten reprofe [is ] commended. Also, right as thou were ensample of moche-folde errour, right so thou must be ensample of manyfolde[ ]correccioun ; so good savour to forgoing †of errour causeth diligent love, with many playted praisinges to folowe; and than shal al45 the firste errours make the folowinge worshippes to seme hugely encresed . Blacke and white, set togider, every for other more semeth; and so doth every thinges contrary in kynde. But infame, that goth alwaye tofore, and praysinge worship by any cause folowinge after, maketh to ryse the ilke honour in double50 of welth; and that quencheth the spotte of the first enfame. Why wenest , I saye, these thinges in hindringe of thy name? Nay, nay, god wot , but for pure encresing worship, thy rightwysenesse to commende, and thy trouthe to seme the more. Wost nat wel55[ ] thy-selfe, that thou in fourme of making †passest nat Adam that eet of the apple? Thou †passest nat the stedfastnesse of Noe, that eetinge of the grape becom dronke. Thou passest nat the chastitè of Lothe, that lay by his doughter; eke the nobley of Abraham, whom god reproved by his pryde; also Davides60 mekenesse, whiche for a woman made Urye be slawe. What?[ ] also Hector of Troye, in whom no defaute might be founde, yet is he reproved that he ne hadde with manhode nat suffred the warre begonne , ne Paris to have went in-to Grece, by whom gan al the sorowe. For trewly, him lacketh no venim of privè65[ ] consenting, whiche that openly leveth a wrong to withsaye .
[ ] Lo eke an olde proverbe amonges many other: “He that is stille semeth as he graunted.”
Now by these ensamples thou might fully understonde, that these thinges ben writte to your lerning, and in rightwysenesse of70 tho persones, as thus: To every wight his defaute committed made goodnesse afterwardes don be the more in reverence and in open shewing; for ensample, is it nat songe in holy churche,[ ] “Lo, how necessary was Adams synne!” David the king gat Salomon the king of her that was Uryes wyf . Truly, for reprofe75 is non of these thinges writte. Right so, tho I reherce thy before-dede, I repreve thee never the more; ne for no villany of thee are they rehersed, but for worshippe, so thou continewe wel here-after: and for profit of thy-selfe I rede thou on hem thinke.’
Than sayde I right thus: ‘Lady of unitè and accorde, envy80 and wrathe lurken there thou comest in place; ye weten wel your-selve, and so don many other, that whyle I administred the office of commen doinge, as in rulinge of the stablisshmentes amonges the people, I defouled never my conscience for no maner dede; but ever, by witte and by counsayle of the wysest,85 the maters weren drawen to their right endes. And thus trewly for you, lady, I have desyred suche cure; and certes, in your service was I nat ydel, as fer as suche doinge of my cure streccheth .’
‘That is a thing,’ quod she, ‘that may drawe many hertes of noble, and voice of commune in-to glory; and fame is nat but90wrecched and fickle. Alas! that mankynde coveyteth in so leude a wyse to be rewarded of any good dede, sithe glorie of fame, in this worlde, is nat but hindringe of glorie in tyme comminge! And certes (quod she) yet at the hardest suche fame, in-to heven, is nat the erthe but a centre to the cercle of heven? A pricke is95 wonder litel in respect of al the cercle; and yet, in al this pricke, may no name be born , in maner of peersing, for many obstacles, as waters, and wildernesse, and straunge langages. And nat only names of men ben stilled and holden out of knowleginge by these obstacles, but also citees and realmes of prosperitè ben letted to100 be knowe, and their reson hindred; so that they mowe nat ben parfitly in mennes propre understandinge. How shulde than the name of a singuler Londenoys passe the glorious name of London , whiche by many it is commended, and by many it is lacked, and in many mo places in erthe nat knowen than knowen? For in105 many countrees litel is London in knowing or in spech; and yet among oon maner of people may nat such fame in goodnes come; for as many as praysen, commenly as many lacken. Fy than on such maner fame! Slepe, and suffre him that knoweth previtè of hertes to dele suche fame in thilke place there nothing110 ayenst a sothe shal neither speke ne dare apere, by attourney[ ] ne by other maner. How many greet-named , and many greet in worthinesse losed, han be tofore this tyme, that now out of memorie are slidden, and clenely forgeten, for defaute of wrytinges! And yet scriptures for greet elde so ben defased, that115[ ] no perpetualtè may in hem ben juged. But if thou wolt make comparisoun to ever, what joye mayst thou have in erthly name? It is a fayr lykenesse, a pees or oon grayn of whete , to a thousand shippes ful of corne charged! What nombre is betwene the oon and th’other ? And yet mowe bothe they be nombred, and120 ende in rekening have. But trewly, al that may be nombred is nothing to recken, as to thilke that may nat be nombred. For †of the thinges ended is mad comparison; as, oon litel, another greet ; but in thinges to have an ende, and another no ende, suche comparisoun may nat be founden. Wherfore in heven to125 ben losed with god hath non ende, but endlesse endureth; and[ ] thou canst nothing don aright, but thou desyre the rumour therof be heled and in every wightes ere ; and that dureth but a pricke in respecte of the other. And so thou sekest reward of folkes130 smale wordes, and of vayne praysinges. Trewly, therin thou lesest the guerdon of vertue; and lesest the grettest valour of conscience , and uphap thy renomè everlasting. Therfore boldely renomè of fame of the erthe shulde be hated, and fame after deth[ ] shulde be desyred of werkes of vertue. [Trewly, vertue ] asketh135[ ] guerdoning, and the soule causeth al vertue. Than the soule, delivered out of prison of erthe, is most worthy suche guerdon among to have in the everlastinge fame; and nat the body, that causeth al mannes yvels.
CHAPTER IX.[ ]
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘there is no body in this worlde, that aught5 coude saye by reson ayenst any of your skilles, as I leve; and by my witte now fele I wel, that yvel-spekers or berers of enfame may litel greve or lette my purpos , but rather by suche thinge my quarel to be forthered.’
‘That is soth,’ quod I.
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘than †leveth there, to declare that thy insuffisance is no maner letting, as thus: for that she is so worthy,15 thou shuldest not clymbe so highe; for thy moebles and thyn estate arn voyded, thou thinkest [thee ] fallen in suche miserie, that gladnesse of thy pursute wol nat on thee discende.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘that is sothe; right suche thought is in myn herte; for commenly it is spoken, and for an olde-proverbe it is [ ] leged: “He that heweth to hye, with chippes he may lese20 his sight.” Wherfore I have ben about, in al that ever I might, to studye wayes of remedye by one syde or by another.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘god forbede †that thou seke any other doinges but suche as I have lerned thee in our restinge-whyles, and suche herbes as ben planted in oure gardins. Thou shalt25 wel understande that above man is but oon god alone.’
‘How ,’ quod I, ‘han men to-forn this tyme trusted in writtes and chauntements, and in helpes of spirites that dwellen in the ayre, and therby they han getten their desyres, where-as first, for al his manly power, he daunced behynde?’30
‘O,’ quod she, ‘fy on suche maters! For trewly, that is sacrilege; and that shal have no sort with any of my servauntes; in myne eyen shal suche thing nat be loked after. How often is[ ] it commaunded by these passed wyse, that “to one god shal men serve, and not to goddes?” And who that liste to have myne35 helpes, shal aske none helpe of foule spirites. Alas! is nat man maked semblable to god? Wost thou nat wel, that al vertue of lyvelich werkinge, by goddes purveyaunce, is underput to resonable creature in erthe? Is nat every thing , a this halfe god , madbuxom to mannes contemplation, understandinge in heven and40 in erthe and in helle? Hath not man beinge with stones, soule of wexing with trees and herbes? Hath he nat soule of felinge, with beestes, fisshes, and foules? And he hath soule of reson and understanding with aungels; so that in him is knit al maner of lyvinges by a resonable proporcioun. Also man is mad of45 al the foure elementes . Al universitee is rekened in him alone; he hath, under god, principalitè above al thinges. Now is his soule here, now a thousand myle hence; now fer, now nygh; now hye, now lowe; as fer in a moment as in mountenaunce of ten winter; and al this is in mannes governaunce and disposicion .50 Than sheweth it that men ben liche unto goddes, and children of moost heyght. But now , sithen al thinges [arn] underput to the wil of resonable creatures, god forbede any man to winne that lordship , and aske helpe of any-thing lower than him-selfe; and than, namely, of foule thinges innominable. Now than, why shuldest55 thou wene to love to highe, sithen nothing is thee above but god alone? Trewly, I wot wel that thilke jewel is in a maner even in lyne of degree there thou art thy-selfe, and nought above, save thus: aungel upon angel, man upon man , and devil upon devil60 han a maner of soveraigntee ; and that shal cese at the daye of dome. And so I say: though thou be put to serve the ilke jewel duringe thy lyfe, yet is that no servage of underputtinge, but a maner of travayling plesaunce, to conquere and gette that thou hast not. I sette now the hardest: in my service65now thou deydest, for sorowe of wantinge in thy desyres; trewly, al hevenly bodyes with one voyce shul come and make melody in thy cominge, and saye—“Welcome, our fere, and worthy to entre into Jupiters joye! For thou with might hast overcome deth ; thou woldest never flitte out of thy service; and we al shul70now praye to the goddes, rowe by rowe, to make thilk Margarite, that no routh had in this persone , but unkyndely without comfortlet thee deye, shal besette her-selfe in suche wyse, that in erthe, for parte of vengeaunce, shal she no joye have in loves service; and whan she is deed, than shal her soule ben brought up in-to75 thy presence; and whider thou wilt chese, thilke soule shal ben committed.” Or els, after thy deth, anon al the foresayd hevenly bodyes, by one accorde, shal †benimen from thilke perle al the vertues that firste her were taken; for she hath hem forfeyted by that on thee , my servaunt, in thy lyve, she wolde not suffre80 to worche al vertues, withdrawen by might of the hygh bodyes. Why than shuldest thou wene so any more? And if thee liste to loke upon the lawe of kynde, and with order whiche to me was ordayned, sothely, non age, non overtourninge tyme but †hiderto had no tyme ne power to chaunge the wedding, ne85 the knotte to unbynde of two hertes [that] thorow oonassent , in my presence, †togider accorden to enduren til deth hem departe. What? trowest thou, every ideot wot the meninge and the privy entent of these thinges? They wene, forsothe, that suche accord may not be, but the rose of maydenhede be plucked. Do way ,90 do way; they knowe nothing of this. For consent of two hertes alone maketh the fasteninge of the knotte; neither lawe of kynde ne mannes lawe determineth neither the age ne the qualitè of persones, but onlyaccord bitwene thilke twaye. And trewly, after tyme that suche accord , by their consent in hert, is enseled , and put in my tresorye amonges my privy thinges, than ginneth95[ ] the name of spousayle; and although they breken forward bothe, yet suche mater enseled is kept in remembrance for ever. And see now that spouses have the name anon after accord , though[ ] the rose be not take. The aungel bad Joseph take Marye his spouse, and to Egypte wende. Lo! she was cleped “spouse,”100 and yet, toforn ne after, neither of hem bothe mente no flesshly lust knowe. Wherfore the wordes of trouthe acorden that my servauntes shulden forsake bothe †fader and moder , and be adherand to his spouse; and they two in unitè of one flesshe shulden accorde. And this wyse, two that wern firste in a litel105 maner discordaunt, hygher that oon and lower that other, ben mad evenliche in gree to stonde. But now to enfourme thee that ye ben liche to goddes, these clerkes sayn , and in determinacion shewen, that “three thinges haven [by ] the names of goddes ben cleped ; that is to sayn: man, divel, and images”;110 but yet is there but oon god, of whom al goodnesse, al grace, and al vertue cometh; and he †is loving and trewe, and everlasting, and pryme cause of al being thinges . But men ben goddes lovinge and trewe, but not everlasting; and that is by adopcioun of the everlastinge god. Divels ben goddes, stirringe by115 a maner of lyving ; but neither ben they trewe ne everlastinge; and their name of godliheed th[e]y han by usurpacion, as the prophetesayth : “Al goddes of gentyles (that is to say, paynims) are divels.” But images ben goddes by nuncupacion; and they ben neither livinge ne trewe, ne everlastinge. After these wordes120 they clepen “goddes” images wrought with mennes handes. But now [art thou a] resonable creature, that by adopcion alone art to the grete god everlastinge, and therby thou art “god” cleped: let thy †faders maners so entre thy wittes that thou might folowe, in-as-moche as longeth to thee, thy †fadersworship , so125 that in nothinge thy kynde from his wil declyne, ne from his nobley perverte. In this wyse if thou werche, thou art above al other thinges save god alone; and so say no more “thyn herte129[ ] to serve in to hye a place.”
CHAPTER X.[ ]
FULLY have I now declared thyn estate to be good, so thou folow therafter, and that the †objeccion first †by thee aleged, in worthinesse of thy Margaryte, shal not thee lette, as it shal forther thee , and encrese thee . It is now to declare, the5 last objeccion in nothing may greve.’
‘Yes, certes,’ quod I, ‘bothe greve and lette muste it nedes; the contrarye may not ben proved; and see now why. Whyle I was glorious in worldly welfulnesse, and had suche goodes in welth as maken men riche, tho was I drawe in-to companyes10 that loos, prise, and name yeven. Tho louteden blasours; tho curreyden glosours; tho welcomeden flatterers; tho worshipped[ ] thilke that now deynen nat to loke. Every wight, in such erthly wele habundant, is holde noble, precious, benigne, and wyse to do what he shal, in any degree that men him sette ; al-be-it that15 the sothe be in the contrarye of al tho thinges. But he that can never so wel him behave, and hath vertue habundaunt in manyfolde maners, and be nat welthed with suche erthly goodes, is holde for a foole, and sayd , his wit is but sotted. Lo! how fals for[ ]aver is holde trewe! Lo! how trewe is clepedfals for wanting20 of goodes! Also, lady, dignitees of office maken men mikel comended, as thus: “he is so good, were he out , his pere shulde men not fynde.” Trewly, I trowe of some suche that are so praysed, were they out ones, another shulde make him so be knowe, he shulde of no wyse no more ben loked after: but only25 fooles, wel I wot , desyren suche newe thinges. Wherfore I wonder[ ] that thilke governour, out of whom alone the causes proceden that governen al thinges, whiche that hath ordeyned this world in workes of the kyndely bodyes so be governed, not with unstedfast or happyous thing, but with rules of reson , whiche shewen the course of certayne thinges: why suffreth he suche30 slydinge chaunges, that misturnen suche noble thinges as ben we men, that arn a fayr parcel of the erthe, and holden the upperest degree, under god, of benigne thinges, as ye sayden right now your-selfe; shulde never man have ben set in so worthy a place but-if his degrè were ordayned noble. Alas! thou that knittest35 the purveyaunce of al thinges, why lokest thou not to amenden[ ] these defautes? I see shrewes that han wicked maners sitten in chayres of domes, lambes to punisshen, there wolves shulden ben punisshed. Lo! vertue, shynende naturelly, for povertee lurketh, and is hid under cloude; but the moone false, forsworn (as40 I knowe my-selfe) for aver and yeftes, hath usurped to shyne by day-light, with peynture of other mens praysinges; and trewly, thilke forged light fouly shulde fade, were the trouth away of colours feyned. Thus is night turned in-to day , and day in-to night; winter in-to sommer, and sommer in-to winter; not in45 dede, but in misclepinge of foliche people.’
‘Now,’ quod she, ‘what wenest thou of these thinges? How felest thou in thyn hert, by what governaunce that this cometh aboute?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘that wot I never; but-if it be that Fortune50 hath graunt from above, to lede the ende of man as her lyketh.’
‘Ah! now I see ,’ quod she, ‘th’entent of thy mening ! Lo, bycause thy worldly goodes ben fulliche dispent, thou beraft out of dignitè of office, in whiche thou madest the †gaderinge of thilke goodes, and yet diddest in that office by counsaile of wyse [before55 that ] any thing were ended; and true were unto hem whos profit thou shuldest loke; and seest now many that in thilke hervest made of thee mokel, and now , for glosing of other, deyneth thee nought to forther, but enhaunsen false shrewes by witnessinge of trouthe! These thinges greveth thyn herte, to sene thy-selfe thus60 abated; and than, frayltè of mankynde ne setteth but litel by the lesers of suche richesse, have he never so moche vertue; and so thou wenest of thy jewel to renne in dispyt , and not ben accepted[ ] in-to grace. Al this shal thee nothing hinder. Now (quod she) first thou wost wel, thou lostest nothing that ever mightest thou65 chalenge for thyn owne. Whan nature brought thee forth , come thou not naked out of thy †moders wombe? Thou haddest no richesse; and whan thou shalt entre in-to the ende of every flesshly body, what shalt thou have with thee than? So, every70 richesse thou hast in tyme of thy livinge, nis but lent ; thou[ ] might therin chalenge no propertee . And see now ; every thing that is a mannes own , he may do therwith what him lyketh, to yeve or to kepe; but richesse thou playnest from thee lost; if thy might had strecched so ferforth, fayn thou woldest have hem kept,75 multiplyed with mo other; and so, ayenst thy wil, ben they departed[ ] from thee ; wherfore they were never thyn. And if thou laudest and joyest any wight, for he is stuffed with suche maner richesse, thou art in that beleve begyled; for thou wenest thilke joye to be selinesse or els ese ; and he that hath lost suche happes to ben80 unsely.’
‘Ye, forsoth,’ quod I.
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘than wol I prove that unsely in that wise is to preise; and so the tother is, the contrary, to be lacked.’
‘How so?’ quod I.
85[ ] ‘For Unsely,’ quod she, ‘begyleth nat, but sheweth th’entent of her working. Et e contra: Selinesse begyleth. For in prosperitè she maketh a jape in blyndnesse; that is, she wyndeth him to make sorowe whan she withdraweth. Wolt thou nat (quod she) preise him better that sheweth to thee his herte, tho[ugh] it be90 with bytande wordes and dispitous, than him that gloseth and thinketh in †his absence to do thee many harmes?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘the oon is to commende; and the other to lacke and dispice.’
‘A! ha!’ quod she, ‘right so Ese , while †she lasteth, gloseth95 and flatereth; and lightly voydeth whan she most plesauntly sheweth; and ever, in hir absence, she is aboute to do thee tene and sorowe in herte. But Unsely, al-be-it with bytande chere, sheweth what she is, and so doth not that other; wherfore Unsely doth not begyle. Selinesse disceyveth; Unsely put away100 doute. That oon maketh men blynde; that other openeth their eyen in shewinge of wrecchidnesse . The oon is ful of drede to lese that is not his owne; that other is sobre, and maketh men discharged of mokel hevinesse in burthen. The oon draweth a man from very good; the other haleth him to vertue by the hookes of thoughtes. And wenist thou nat that thy disese hath105don thee mokel more to winne than ever yet thou lostest, and more than ever the contrary made thee winne? Is nat a greet good, to thy thinking, for to knowe the hertes of thy sothfast frendes? Pardè , they ben proved to the ful, and the trewe have discevered fro the false. Trewly, at the goinge of the ilke brotel110 joye, ther yede no more away than the ilke that was nat thyn proper. He was never from that lightly departed; thyn owne good therfore leveth it stille with thee. Now good (quod she); for how moche woldest thou somtyme have bought this verry knowing of thy frendes from the flatteringe flyes that thee glosed,115 whan thou thought thy-selfe sely? But thou that playnest of losse in richesse, hast founden the most dere-worthy thing ; that thou clepest unsely hath made thee moche thing to winnen. And also, for conclusioun of al, he is frende that now leveth nat his herte from thyne helpes. And if that Margarite denyeth now nat120 to suffre her vertues shyne to thee-wardes with spredinge bemes , as far or farther than if thou were sely in worldly joye, trewly, I saye nat els but she is somdel to blame.’
Thus endeth the firste book of the Testament of Love; and herafter foloweth the seconde.
[ ] VERY welth may not be founden in al this worlde; and that is wel sene. Lo! how in my mooste comfort , as I wende and moost supposed to have had ful answere of my contrary thoughtes, sodaynly it was vanisshed. And al the workes of man5 faren in the same wyse; whan folk wenen best her entent for to have and willes to perfourme, anon chaunging of the lift syde to the right halve tourneth it so clene in-to another kynde, that never shal it come to the first plyte in doinge.
O this wonderful steering so soone otherwysed out of knowinge!10 But for my purpos was at the beginninge, and so dureth yet, if god of his grace tyme wol me graunt, I thinke to perfourme this worke, as I have begonne, in love; after as my thinne wit , with inspiracion of him that hildeth al grace, wol suffre. Grevously,[ ] god wot , have I suffred a greet throwe that the Romayne15 emperour, which in unitè of love shulde acorde, and every with other * * * * in cause of other to avaunce; and namely, sithe this empyre [nedeth ] to be corrected of so many sectes in heresie of faith, of service, o[f] rule in loves religion. Trewly, al were it but to shende erroneous opinions, I may it no lenger suffre.20 For many men there ben that sayn love to be in gravel and sande, that with see ebbinge and flowinge woweth , as riches that sodaynly vanissheth. And some sayn that love shulde be in windy blastes, that stoundmele turneth as a phane , and glorie of renomè, which after lustes of the varyaunt people is areysed or stilled.
25Many also wenen that in the sonne and the moone and other sterres love shulde ben founden; for among al other planettes moste soveraynly they shynen, as dignitees in reverence of estates rather than good han and occupyen. Ful many also there ben that in okes and in huge postes supposen love to ben grounded,30 as in strength and in might, which mowen not helpen their owne wrecchidnesse , whan they ginne to falle. But [of ] suche diversitè of sectes, ayenst the rightful beleve of love, these errours ben forth spredde, that loves servantes in trewe rule and stedfast fayth in no place daren apere. Thus irrecuperable joy is went, and anoy endless is entred. For no man aright reproveth suche errours,35 but [men ] confirmen their wordes, and sayn, that badde is noble good, and goodnesse is badde; to which folk the prophete biddeth wo without ende.
Also manye tonges of greet false techinges in gylinge maner, principally in my tymes, not only with wordes but also with armes ,40 loves servauntes and professe in his religion of trewe rule pursewen, to confounden and to distroyen. And for as moche as holy †faders , that of our Christen fayth aproved and strengthed to the Jewes, as to men resonable and of divinitè lerned, proved thilke fayth with resones, and with auctoritès of the olde testament and of the newe,45 her pertinacie to distroy: but to paynims, that for beestes and houndes were holde, to putte hem out of their errour, was †miracle of god shewed. These thinges were figured by cominge of th’angel to the shepherdes, and by the sterre to paynims kinges; as who sayth : angel resonable to resonable creature, and sterre of miracle50 to people bestial not lerned, wern sent to enforme. But I, lovers clerk , in al my conning and with al my mightes, trewly I have no suche grace in vertue of miracles, ne for no discomfit falsheedes suffyseth not auctoritès alone; sithen that suche [arn ] heretikes and maintaynours of falsitès. Wherfore I wot wel, sithen that55 they ben men, and reson is approved in hem, the clowde of errour hath her reson beyond probable resons, whiche that cacchende wit rightfully may not with-sitte. By my travaylinge studie I have ordeyned hem, †whiche that auctoritè, misglosed by mannes reson , to graunt shal ben enduced.60
Now ginneth my penne to quake, to thinken on the sentences of the envyous people, whiche alway ben redy, both ryder and goer , to scorne and to jape this leude book ; and me, for rancour and hate in their hertes, they shullen so dispyse, that although my book be leude, yet shal it ben more leude holden, and by65 wicked wordes in many maner apayred. Certes, me thinketh, [of ] the sowne of their badde speche right now is ful bothe myne eeres. O good precious Margaryte, myne herte shulde wepe if I wiste ye token hede of suche maner speche; but trewly, I wot70 wel, in that your wysdom shal not asterte. For of god, maker of kynde, witnesse I took , that for none envy ne yvel have I drawe this mater togider; but only for goodnesse to maintayn, and errours in falsetees to distroy. Wherfore (as I sayd) with reson I thinke, thilke forsayd errours to distroye and dequace.
75These resons and suche other, if they enduce men, in loves service, trewe to beleve of parfit blisse, yet to ful faithe in credence[ ] of deserte fully mowe they nat suffyse; sithen ‘faith hath no merite of mede, whan mannes reson sheweth experience in doing.’ For utterly no reson the parfit blisse of love by no waye80may make to be comprehended. Lo! what is a parcel of lovers joye? Parfit science, in good service, of their desyre to comprehende in bodily doinge the lykinge of the soule; not as by a glasse to have contemplacion of tyme cominge, but thilke first imagined and thought after face to face in beholding. What85 herte, what reson , what understandinge can make his heven to be feled and knowe, without assaye in doinge? Certes, noon . Sithen thanne of love cometh suche fruite in blisse, and love in him-selfe is the most among other vertues, as clerkes sayn ; the seed of suche springinge in al places, in al countreys, in al worldes shulde90 ben sowe.
But o! welawaye! thilke seed is forsake, and †mowe not ben suffred, the lond-tillers to sette a-werke, without medlinge of cockle ; badde wedes whiche somtyme stonken †han caught the name of love among idiotes and badde-meninge people. Never-the-later,95 yet how-so-it-be that men clepe thilke †thing preciousest[ ] in kynde, with many eke-names, that other thinges that the soule yeven the ilke noble name, it sheweth wel that in a maner men have a greet lykinge in worshippinge of thilke name. Wherfore this worke have I writte; and tothee , tytled of Loves name,100 I have it avowed in a maner of sacrifyse; that, where-ever it be rad , it mowe in merite, by the excellence of thilke name, the more wexe in authoritè and worshippe of takinge in hede; and to what entent it was ordayned, the inseëres mowen ben moved.[ ] Every thing to whom is owande occasion don as for his ende, Aristotle supposeth that the actes of every thinge ben in a maner105 his final cause. A final cause is noblerer, or els even as noble, as thilke thing that is finally to thilke ende ; wherfore accion of thinge everlasting is demed to be eternal, and not temporal; sithen it is his final cause. Right so the actes of my boke ‘Love,’ and love is noble; wherfore, though my book be leude, the cause110 with which I am stered, and for whom I ought it doon , noble forsothe ben bothe. But bycause that in conninge I am yong , and can yet but crepe, this leude A. b. c. have I set in-to lerning; for I can not passen the telling of three as yet. And if god wil, in shorte tyme, I shal amende this leudnesse in joininge115 syllables; whiche thing , for dulnesse of witte, I may not in three letters declare. For trewly I saye, the goodnesse of my Margaryteperle wolde yeve mater in endyting to many clerkes; certes, her mercy is more to me swetter than any livinges; wherfore my lippes mowen not suffyse, in speking of her ful laude and worshippe120 as they shulde. But who is that [wolde be wyse] in knowing of the orders of heven, and putteth his resones in the erthe? I forsothe may not, with blere eyen, the shyning sonne of vertue in bright whele of this Margaryte beholde; therfore as yet I may her not discryve in vertue as I wolde. In tyme cominge,125 in another tretyse , thorow goddes grace, this sonne in clerenesse of vertue to be-knowe, and how she enlumineth al this day, I thinke to declare.
CHAPTER II.[ ]
IN this mene whyle this comfortable lady gan singe a wonder mater of endytinge in Latin; but trewly, the noble colours in rethorik wyse knitte were so craftely, that my conning wol not strecche to remembre; but the sentence, I trowe, somdel have I in mynde. Certes, they were wonder swete of sowne, and they5 were touched al in lamentacion wyse, and by no werbles of myrthe. Lo! thus gan she singe in Latin, as I may constrewe it in our Englisshe tonge.
‘Alas! that these hevenly bodyes their light and course shewen,10 as nature yave hem in commaundement at the ginning of the first age; but these thinges in free choice of reson han non understondinge. But man that ought to passe al thing of doinge, of right course in kynde, over-whelmed sothnesse by wrongful tytle, and hath drawen the sterre of envye to gon by his syde, that the15 clips of me, that shulde be his shynande sonne, so ofte is seye , that it wened thilke errour, thorow hem come in, shulde ben myn owne defaute. Trewly, therfore, I have me withdrawe, and mad my dwellinge out of lande in an yle by my-selfe, in the occian closed; and yet sayn there many, they have me harberowed; but,20 god wot , they faylen. These thinges me greven to thinke, and namely on passed gladnesse, that in this worlde was wont me disporte of highe and lowe; and now it is fayled; they that wolden maystries me have in thilke stoundes. In heven on highe, above Saturnes sphere , in sesonable tyme were they25 lodged; but now come queynte counsailours that in no house wol suffre me sojourne, wherof is pitè; and yet sayn some that they me have in celler with wyne shed; in gernere, there corn is layd covered with whete; in sacke , sowed with wolle ; in purse, with money faste knit ; among pannes mouled in a †whicche ;30 in presse , among clothes layd , with riche pelure arayed; in stable, among hors and other beestes, as hogges, sheep , and neet ; and in many other wyse. But thou, maker of light (in winking of thyn eye the sonne is queynt), wost right wel that I in trewe name was never thus herberowed.
35Somtyme, toforn the sonne in the seventh partie was smiten, I bar both crosse and mytre, to yeve it where I wolde. With me the pope wente a-fote; and I tho was worshipped of al holy church. Kinges baden me their crownes holden. The law was set as it shuld; tofore the juge, as wel the poore durste shewe40 his greef as the riche, for al his money. I defended tho taylages, and was redy for the poore to paye . I made grete feestes in my tyme, and noble songes, and maryed damoselles of gentil feture, withouten golde or other richesse. Poore clerkes, for witte of schole, I sette in churches, and made suche persones to preche ; and tho was service in holy churche honest and devout , in45 plesaunce bothe of god and of the people. But now the leude for symonye is avaunced, and shendeth al holy churche. Now is steward , for his achates ; now †is courtiour, for his debates; now is eschetour , for his wronges ; now is losel, for his songes, personer;[ ] and [hath his] provendre alone, with whiche manye50 thrifty shulde encrese . And yet is this shrewe behynde ; free herte is forsake ; and losengeour is take. Lo! it acordeth; for suche there ben that voluntarie lustes haunten in courte with ribaudye, that til midnight and more wol playe and wake, but in the churche at matins he is behynde, for yvel disposicion of his55[ ] stomake; therfore he shulde ete bene-breed (and so did his[ ] syre) his estate ther-with to strengthen. His auter is broke, and lowe lyth , in poynte to gon to the erthe; but his hors muste ben esy and hye, to bere him over grete waters. His chalice poore, but he hath riche cuppes. No towayle but a shete , there god60 shal ben handled; and on his mete-borde there shal ben bord-clothes and towelles many payre. At masse serveth but a clergion ; fyve squiers in hal. Poore chaunsel, open holes in every syde; beddes of silke, with tapites going al aboute his chambre. Poore masse-book and leud chapelayn , and broken surplice with65 many an hole; good houndes and many, to hunte after hart and hare, to fede in their feestes. Of poore men have they greet care; for they ever crave and nothing offren, they wolden have hem dolven ! But amonglegistres there dar I not come; my doinge[s], they sayn , maken hem nedy. They ne wolde for70[ ] nothing have me in town; for than were tort and †force nought worth an hawe about, and plesen no men, but thilk grevous and torcious ben in might and in doing. These thinges to-forn-sayd mowe wel, if men liste, ryme ; trewly, they acorde nothing . And for-as-moch as al thinges by me shulden of right ben governed,75 I am sory to see that governaunce fayleth, as thus: to sene smale and lowe governe the hye and bodies above. Certes, that policye is naught; it is forbode by them that of governaunce treten and enformen. And right as beestly wit shulde ben 80subject to reson , so erthly power in it-selfe, the lower shulde ben subject to the hygher. What is worth thy body, but it be governed with thy soule? Right so litel or naught is worth erthely power, but if reignatif prudence in heedes governe the smale; to whiche heedes the smale owen to obey and suffre in85 their governaunce. But soverainnesse ayenward shulde thinke in this wyse: “I am servaunt of these creatures to me delivered, not lord , but defendour; not mayster, but enfourmer; not possessour , but in possession; and to hem liche a tree in whiche sparowes shullen stelen, her birdes to norisshe and forth bringe ,90 under suretee ayenst al raveynous foules and beestes, and not to be tyraunt them-selfe.” And than the smale, in reste and quiete, by the heedes wel disposed, owen for their soveraynes helth and prosperitè to pray, and in other doinges in maintenaunce therof performe, withouten other administracion in rule of any maner95 governaunce. And they wit have in hem, and grace to come to suche thinges, yet shulde they cese til their heedes them cleped, although profit and plesaunce shulde folowe. But trewly, other governaunce ne other medlinge ought they not to clayme, ne the heedes on hem to putte . Trewly, amonges cosinagedar100 I not come, but-if richesse be my mene ; sothly, she and other bodily goodes maketh nigh cosinage, ther never propinquitè ne alyaunce in lyve was ne shulde have be, nere it for her medling maners; wherfore kindly am I not ther leged. Povert of kinred is behynde ; richesse suffreth him to passe; truly he saith,105 he com never of Japhetes childre. Whereof I am sory that Japhetes children, for povert, in no linage ben rekened, and Caynes children, for riches, be maked Japhetes heires. Alas! this is a wonder chaunge bitwene tho two Noës children, sithen that[ ] of Japhetes ofspring comeden knightes, and of Cayn discended110 the lyne of servage to his brothers childre. Lo! how gentillesse and servage, as cosins, bothe discended out of two brethern of one body! Wherfore I saye in sothnesse, that gentilesse in kinrede †maketh not gentil linage in succession, without desert of a mans own selfe. Where is now the lyne of Alisaundre the115 noble, or els of Hector of Troye? Who is discended of right bloode of lyne fro king Artour? Pardè, sir Perdicas , whom that Alisandre made to ben his heire in Grece, was of no kinges bloode; his dame was a tombestere . Of what kinred ben the gentiles in our dayes? I trow therfore, if any good be in gentilesse, it is only that it semeth a maner of necessitè be input to120 gentilmen, that they shulden not varyen fro the vertues of their[ ] auncestres. Certes, al maner linage of men ben evenliche in birth; for oon †fader , maker of al goodnes, enformed hem al, and al mortal folk of one sede arn greyned. Wherto avaunt men of her linage, in cosinage or in †elde-faders ? Loke now the ginning,125 and to god, maker of mans person; there is no clerk ne no worthy in gentilesse; and he that norissheth his †corage with vyces and unresonable lustes, and leveth the kynde course, to whiche ende him brought forth his birthe, trewly, he is ungentil, and among †cherles may ben nempned. And therfore, he that130 wol ben gentil, he mot daunten his flesshe fro vyces that causen ungentilnesse, and leve also reignes of wicked lustes, and drawe to him vertue, that in al places gentilnesse gentilmen maketh. And so speke I, in feminine gendre in general, of tho persones, at the reverence of one whom every wight honoureth; for her135bountee and her noblesse y-made her to god so dere, that his moder she became; and she me hath had so greet in worship, that I nil for nothing in open declare, that in any thinge ayenst her sectemay so wene. For al vertue and al worthinesse of plesaunce in hem haboundeth. And although I wolde any-thing speke,140 trewly I can not; I may fynde in yvel of hem no maner mater.’
RIGHT with these wordes she stinte of that lamentable melodye; and I gan with a lyvely herte to praye, if that it were lyking unto her noble grace, she wolde her deyne to declare me the mater that firste was begonne, in which she lefte and stinte to speke beforn she gan to singe.5
‘Ah, good lady,’ quod I, ‘in whom victorie of strength is proved above al other thing , after the jugement of Esdram , whos lordship 10 al lignes : who is , that right as emperour hem commaundeth, whether thilke ben not women, in whos lyknesse to me ye aperen? For right as man halt the principaltè of al thing under his beinge, in the masculyne gender; and no mo genders ben there but masculyn and femenyne; al the remenaunt ben no gendres but15 of grace, in facultee of grammer: right so, in the femenyne, the women holden the upperest degree of al thinges under thilke[ ] gendre conteyned. Who bringeth forth kinges, whiche that ben lordes of see and of erthe; and al peoples of women ben born . They norisshe hem that graffen vynes; they maken men comfort20 in their gladde cheres. Her sorowe is deth to mannes herte.[ ] Without women, the being of men were impossible. They conne with their swetnesse the crewel herte ravisshe, and make it meke, buxom , and benigne, without violence mevinge. In beautee of their eyen, or els of other maner fetures, is al mens desyres;25 ye, more than in golde, precious stones, either any richesse. And in this degree, lady, your-selfe many hertes of men have so bounden, that parfit blisse in womankynde to ben men wenen, and in nothinge els. Also, lady, the goodnesse, the vertue of women, by propertè of discrecion, is so wel knowen, by litelnesse30[ ] of malice, that desyre to a good asker by no waye conne they warne. And ye thanne, that wol not passe the kynde werchinge of your sectes by general discrecion, I wot wel, ye wol so enclyne to my prayere, that grace of my requeste shal fully ben graunted.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘thus for the more parte fareth al mankynde,35 to praye and to crye after womans grace, and fayne many fantasyes to make hertes enclyne to your desyres. And whan these sely women, for freeltè of their kynde, beleven your wordes, and wenen al be gospel the promise of your behestes, than graunt[en] they to you their hertes, and fulfillen your lustes, wherthrough40 their libertè in maystreship that they toforn had is thralled; and so maked soverayn and to be prayed, that first was servaunt, and voice of prayer used. Anon as filled is your lust, many of you be so trewe , that litel hede take ye of suche kyndnesse; but with traysoun anon ye thinke hem begyle, and let light of that45 thing whiche firste ye maked to you wonders dere; so what thing to women it is to loven any wight er she him wel knowe, and have him proved in many halfe! For every glittring thing is nat gold ; and under colour of fayre speche many vices may be hid and conseled. Therfore I rede no wight to trust on you to rathe; mens chere and her speche right gyleful is ful ofte.50 Wherfore without good assay, it is nat worth on many †of you to truste. Trewly, it is right kyndely to every man that thinketh women betraye, and shewen outward al goodnesse, til he have his wil performed. Lo! the bird is begyled with the mery voice of the foulers whistel . Whan a woman is closed in your nette,55 than wol ye causes fynden, and bere unkyndenesse her †on hande , or falsetè upon her putte, your owne malicious trayson with suche thinge to excuse. Lo! than han women non other wreche in vengeaunce, but †blobere and wepe til hem list stint, and sorily her mishap complayne; and is put in-to wening that60 al men ben so untrewe. How often have men chaunged her loves in a litel whyle, or els, for fayling their wil, in their places[ ] hem set! For fren[d]ship shal be oon , and fame with another him list for to have, and a thirde for delyt ; or els were he lost bothe in packe and in clothes! Is this fair ? Nay, god wot.65 I may nat telle , by thousande partes, the wronges in trechery of suche false people; for make they never so good a bond , al sette ye at a myte whan your hert tourneth. And they that wenen for sorowe of you deye , the pitè of your false herte is flowe[ ] out of towne. Alas! therfore, that ever any woman wolde take70 any wight in her grace, til she knowe, at the ful, on whom she might at al assayes truste ! Women con no more craft in queynt knowinge, to understande the false disceyvable conjectementes of mannes begylinges. Lo! how it fareth; though ye men gronen and cryen, certes, it is but disceyt; and that preveth wel75 by th’endes in your werkinge. How many women have ben lorn , and with shame foule shent by long-lastinge tyme, whiche thorow mennes gyle have ben disceyved? Ever their fame shal dure, and their dedes [ben] rad and songe in many londes; that they han don , recoveren shal they never; but alway ben demed80 lightly, in suche plyte a-yen shulde they falle . Of whiche slaunders and tenes ye false men and wicked ben the verey causes; on you by right ought these shames and these reproves al hoolly discende. Thus arn ye al nighe untrewe; for al your fayre speche, your85 herte is ful fickel. What cause han ye women to dispyse? Better fruite than they ben, ne swetter spyces to your behove, mowe ye not fynde , as far as worldly bodyes strecchen . Loke to their forminge, at the making of their persones by god in joye of paradyce! For goodnesse, of mans propre body were they90 maked, after the sawes of the bible, rehersing goddes wordes in[ ] this wyse: “It is good to mankynde that we make to him an helper.” Lo! in paradyse, for your helpe, was this tree graffed, out of whiche al linage of man discendeth. If a man be noble frute, of noble frute it is sprongen; the blisse of paradyse, to95 mennes sory hertes, yet in this tree abydeth. O! noble helpes ben these trees, and gentil jewel to ben worshipped of every good creature! He that hem anoyeth doth his owne shame; it is a comfortable perle ayenst al tenes. Every company is mirthed by their present being. Trewly, I wiste never vertue, but a woman100 were therof the rote. What is heven the worse though Sarazins on it lyen? Is your fayth untrewe, though †renegates maken theron lesinges ? If the fyr doth any wight brenne, blame his owne wit that put him-selfe so far in the hete . Is not fyr gentillest and mostcomfortable element amonges al other? Fyr105 is cheef werker in fortheringe sustenaunce to mankynde. Shal fyr ben blamed for it brende a foole naturelly, by his own stulty witte in steringe? Ah! wicked folkes! For your propre malice and shreudnesse of your-selfe, ye blame and dispyse the precious[es]t thing of your kynde, and whiche thinges among other110 moste ye desyren! Trewly, Nero and his children ben shrewes, that dispysen so their dames . The wickednesse and gyling of men, in disclaundring of thilke that most hath hem glad[d]ed and plesed , were impossible to wryte or to nempne. Never-the-later yet I say, he that knoweth a way may it lightly passe; eke115[ ] an herbe proved may safely to smertande sores ben layd . So I say, in him that is proved is nothing suche yvels to gesse. But these thinges have I rehersed, to warne you women al at ones, that to lightly, without good assaye, ye assenten not to mannes speche. The sonne in the day-light is to knowen from120 the moone that shyneth in the night. Now to thee thy-selfe (quod she) as I have ofte sayd, I knowe wel thyne herte; thou art noon of al the tofore-nempned people. For I knowe wel the continuaunce of thy service, that never sithen I sette thee a-werke, might thy Margaryte for plesaunce, frendship , ne fayrhede of none other, be in poynte moved from thyne herte; wherfore125 in-to myne housholde hastely I wol that thou entre, and al the parfit privitè of my werking, make it be knowe in thy understonding, as oon of my privy familiers. Thou desyrest (quod she) fayn to here of tho thinges there I lefte?’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod I, ‘that were to me a greet blisse.’130
THOU shalt ,’ quod she, ‘understonde first among al other thinges, that al the cure of my service to me in the parfit blisse in doing is desyred in every mannes herte, be he never[ ] so moche a wrecche ; but every man travayleth by dyvers studye, and seke[th] thilke blisse by dyvers wayes. But al the endes5 are knit in selinesse of desyre in the parfit blisse, that is suche joye, whan men it have gotten, there †leveth no thing more to ben coveyted. But how that desyre of suche perfeccion in my service be kindely set in lovers hertes, yet her erroneous opinions misturne it by falsenesse of wening. And although10 mannes understanding be misturned, to knowe whiche shuld ben the way unto my person, and whither it abydeth; yet wote they there is a love in every wight, [whiche] weneth by that thing that he coveyteth most , he shulde come to thilke love; and that is parfit blisse of my servauntes; but than fulle blisse may not15 be, and there lacke any thing of that blisse in any syde. Eke it foloweth than, that he that must have ful blisse lacke no blisse in love on no syde.’
‘Therfore, lady,’ quod I tho, ‘thilke blisse I have desyred, and †soghte toforn this my-selfe, by wayes of riches , of dignitè,20 of power, and of renomè, wening me in tho †thinges had ben thilke blisse; but ayenst the heer it turneth . Whan I supposed beste thilke blisse have †getten , and come to the ful purpose of your service, sodaynly was I hindred, and throwen so fer25 abacke, that me thinketh an inpossible to come there I lefte.’
‘I †wot wel,’ quod she; ‘and therfore hast thou fayled; for thou wentest not by the hye way. A litel misgoing in the ginning causeth mikil errour in the ende; wherfore of thilke blisse thou fayledest, for having of richesse; ne non of the other thinges thou30 nempnedest mowen nat make suche parfit blisse in love as I shal shewe. Therfore they be nat worthy to thilke blisse; and yet somwhat must ben cause and way to thilke blisse. Ergo, there is som suche thing, and som way, but it is litel in usage and that is nat openly y-knowe. But what felest in thyne hert of the35 service, in whiche by me thou art entred? Wenest aught thyselfe yet be in the hye way to my blisse? I shal so shewe it to thee , thou shalt not conne saye the contrary.’
‘Good lady,’ quod I, ‘altho I suppose it in my herte, yet wolde I here thyn wordes, how ye menen in this mater.’
40Quod she, ‘that I shal, with my good wil. Thilke blisse desyred, som-del ye knowen, altho it be nat parfitly. For kyndly entencion ledeth you therto, but in three maner livinges is al suche wayes shewed. Every wight in this world, to have this blisse, oon of thilke three wayes of lyves must procede; whiche, after opinions45 of grete clerkes, are by names cleped bestiallich, resonablich, [and manlich. Resonablich ] is vertuous. Manlich is worldlich. Bestialliche is lustes and delytable, nothing restrayned by bridel of reson . Al that joyeth and yeveth gladnesse to the hert, and it be ayenst reson , is lykened to bestial living , which thing foloweth lustes and50 delytes; wherfore in suche thinge may nat that precious blisse, that is maister of al vertues, abyde. Your †faders toforn you have cleped such lusty livinges after the flessh “passions of desyre,” which are innominable tofore god and man both. Than, after determinacion of suche wyse, we accorden that suche passions of55 desyre shul nat be nempned, but holden for absolute from al other livinges and provinges; and so †leveth in t[w]o livinges, manlich and resonable, to declare the maters begonne. But to make thee fully have understanding in manlich livinges , whiche is holden worldlich in these thinges, so that ignorance be mad no letter, I wol (quod she) nempne these forsayd wayes †by names and60 conclusions. First riches , dignitè, renomè, and power shul in this worke be cleped bodily goodes; for in hem hath ben, a gret throw, mannes trust of selinesse in love: as in riches, suffisance to have maintayned that was begonne by worldly catel; in dignitè, honour and reverence of hem that wern underput by maistry65 therby to obeye . In renomè, glorie of peoples praising, after lustes in their hert, without hede-taking to qualitè and maner of doing; and in power, by trouth of lordships mayntenaunce, thing to procede forth in doing. In al whiche thinges a longe tyme mannes coveytise in commune hath ben greetly grounded, to come70 to the blisse of my service; but trewly, they were begyled, and for the principal muste nedes fayle, and in helping mowe nat availe. See why. For holdest him not poore that is nedy?’
‘Yes, pardè,’ quod I.
‘And him for dishonored, that moche folk deyne nat to75 reverence?’
‘That is soth,’ quod I.
‘And what him, that his mightes faylen and mowe nat helpen?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘me semeth, of al men he shulde be holden a wrecche .’80
‘And wenest nat,’ quod she, ‘that he that is litel in renomè, but rather is out of the praysinges of mo men than a fewe, be nat in shame?’
‘For soth,’ quod I, ‘it is shame and villany, to him that coveyteth renomè, that more folk nat prayse in name than preise.’85
‘Soth,’ quod she, ‘thou sayst soth; but al these thinges are folowed of suche maner doinge, and wenden in riches suffisaunce, in power might, in dignitè worship, and in renomè glorie; wherfore they discended in-to disceyvable wening, and in that service disceit is folowed. And thus, in general, thou and al suche other that so90 worchen, faylen of my blisse that ye long han desyred. Wherfore truly, in lyfe of reson is the hye way to this blisse; as I thinke more openly to declare herafter. Never-the-later yet, in a litel to comforte thy herte, in shewing of what waye thou art entred thyselfe, 95 and that thy Margarite may knowe thee set in the hye way, I wol enforme thee in this wyse. Thou hast fayled of thy first purpos , bicause thou wentest wronge and leftest the hye way on thy right syde, as thus: thou lokedest on worldly living , and that thing thee begyled; and lightly therfore, as a litel assay , thou100songedest ; but whan I turned thy purpos , and shewed thee a part of the hye waye, tho thou abode therin, and no deth ne ferdnesse of non enemy might thee out of thilk way reve; but ever oon in thyn herte, to come to the ilke blisse, whan thou were arested and firste tyme enprisoned, thou were loth to105 chaunge thy way, for in thy hert thou wendest to have ben there thou shuldest. And for I had routhe to sene thee miscaried, and wiste wel thyn ablenesse my service to forther and encrese , I com my-selfe, without other mene , to visit thy person in comfort of thy hert. And perdy, in my comming thou were greetly110 glad[d]ed ; after whiche tyme no disese , no care, no tene, might move me out of thy hert. And yet am I glad and greetly enpited, how continually thou haddest me in mynde, with good avysement of thy conscience, whan thy king and his princes by huge wordes and grete loked after variaunce in thy speche; and ever thou115 were redy for my sake, in plesaunce of the Margarite-perle and many mo other, thy body to oblige in-to Marces doing, if any contraried thy sawes. Stedfast way maketh stedfast hert, with good hope in the ende. Trewly, I wol that thou it wel knowe; for I see thee so set, and not chaunginge herte haddest in my120 service; and I made thou haddest grace of thy kinge, in foryevenesse of mikel misdede. To the gracious king art thou mikel holden, of whos grace and goodnesse somtyme hereafter I thinke thee enforme, whan I shew the ground where-as moral vertue groweth. Who brought thee to werke? Who brought this grace125 aboute? Who made thy hert hardy? Trewly, it was I. For haddest thou of me fayled, than of this purposhad[dest thou] never taken [hede] in this wyse. And therfore I say, thou might wel truste to come to thy blisse, sithen thy ginninge hath ben hard , but ever graciously after thy hertes desyr hath proceded. Silver130 fyned with many hetes men knowen for trew; and safely men may trust to the alay in werkinge. This †disese hath proved what way hence-forward thou thinkest to holde.’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod she, ‘and now I wol disprove thy first135 wayes, by whiche many men wenen to gette thilke blisse. But for-as-moche as every herte that hath caught ful love, is tyed with queynt knittinges, thou shalt understande that love and thilke foresayd blisse toforn declared in this[e] provinges, shal hote the knot in the hert.’140
‘Wel,’ quod I, ‘this inpossession I wol wel understande.’
‘Now also,’ quod she, ‘for the knotte in the herte muste ben from one to an-other, and I knowe thy desyr , I wol thou understande these maters to ben sayd of thy-selfe, in disproving of thy first service, and in strengthinge of thilke that thou hast undertake145 to thy Margaryte-perle.’
‘If god wol,’ quod I, ‘of al these thinges wol I not fayle; and if I graunt contradiccion , I shulde graunte an impossible; and that were a foul inconvenience; for whiche thinges, lady , y-wis, herafter I thinke me to kepe.’
‘WEL,’ quod she, ‘thou knowest that every thing is a cause, wherthrough any thing hath being that is cleped “caused.” Than, if richesse †causeth knot in herte, thilke richesse †is cause of thilke precious thinge being. But after the sentence of Aristotle , every cause is more in dignitè than his thinge caused;5 wherthrough it foloweth richesse to ben more in dignitè than thilke knot. But richesses arn kyndely naughty, badde, and nedy; and thilke knotte is thing kyndely good, most praysed and desyred. Ergo,thing naughty, badde, and nedy in kyndely 10 understandinge is more worthy than thing kyndely good, most desyred and praysed! The consequence is fals ; nedes, the antecedent mot ben of the same condicion. But that richesses ben bad, naughty, and nedy, that wol I prove; wherfore they mowe cause no suche thing that is so glorious and good. The15[ ] more richesse thou hast , the more nede hast thou of helpe hem to kepe. Ergo, thou nedest in richesse, whiche nede thou shuldest not have, if thou hem wantest. Than muste richesse ben nedy, that in their having maken thee nedy to helpes, in suretee thy richesse to kepen; wherthrough foloweth, richesse to20 ben nedy. Everything causinge yvels is badde and naughty; but richesse in one causen misese , in another they mowen not evenly strecchen al about. Wherof cometh plee, debat , thefte, begylinges, but richesse to winne; whiche thinges ben badde, and by richesse arn caused. Ergo, thilke richesse[s] ben badde; whiche badnesse25 and nede ben knit in-to richesse by a maner of kyndely propertee ; and every cause and caused accorden; so that it foloweth, thilke richesse[s] to have the same accordaunce with badnesse and nede, that their cause asketh. Also, every thing hath his being by his cause; than, if the cause be distroyed, the being of caused is30 vanisshed. And, so, if richesse[s] causen love, and richesse[s] weren distroyed, the love shulde vanisshe; but thilke knotte, and it be trewe, may not vanisshe, for no going of richesse. Ergo, richesse is no cause of the knot. And many men, as I sayd, setten the cause of the knotte in richesse; thilke knitten the35 richesse, and nothing the yvel; thilke persons, what-ever they ben, wenen that riches is most worthy to be had; and that make they the cause; and so wene they thilke riches be better than the person. Commenly, suche asken rather after the quantitè than after the qualitè; and suche wenen, as wel by hem-selfe as by40 other, that conjunccion of his lyfe and of his soule is no more precious, but in as mikel as he hath of richesse. Alas! how may he holden suche thinges precious or noble, that neither han lyf ne soule, ne ordinaunce of werchinge limmes! Suche richesse[s] ben more worthy whan they ben in †gadering ; in departing,45 ginneth his love of other mennes praysing. And avarice †gadering maketh be hated, and nedy to many out-helpes; and whan leveth the possession of such goodes, and they ginne vanissh, than entreth sorowe and tene in their hertes. O! badde and strayte ben thilke, that at their departinge maketh men teneful and sory, and in the †gadering of hem make men nedy! Moche folk at50 ones mowen not togider moche thereof have. A good gest gladdeth his hoste and al his meyny; but he is a badde gest that maketh his hoste nedy and to be aferd of his gestes going.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘me wondreth therfore that the comune opinion is thus: “He is worth no more than that he hath in55 catel.” ’
[ ] ‘O!’ quod she, ‘loke thou be not of that opinion; for if gold or money, or other maner of riches shynen in thy sight, whos is that? Nat thyn. And tho[ugh] they have a litel beautee , they be nothing in comparison of our kynde; and therfore, ye shulde nat sette60 your worthinesse in thing lower than your-selfe. For the riches, the fairnesse, the worthinesse of thilke goodes, if ther be any suche preciousnesse in hem, are nat thyne; thou madest hem so never; from other they come to thee , and to other they shul[ ] from thee . Wherfore enbracest thou other wightes good, as65 tho[ugh] they were thyn? Kynde hath drawe hem by hem-selfe.[ ] It is sothe, the goodes of the erth ben ordayned in your fode and norisshinge; but if thou wolt holde thee apayd with that suffyseth to thy kynde, thou shalt nat be in daunger of no suche riches; to kynde suffyseth litel thing, who that taketh hede.70 And if thou wolt algates with superfluitè of riches be a-throted, thou shalt hastelich be anoyed, or els yvel at ese . And fairnesse of feldes ne of habitacions, ne multitude of meynè , may nat be rekened as riches that are thyn owne. For if they be badde, it is greet sclaunder and villany to the occupyer; and if they be good75 or faire, the mater of the workman that hem made is to prayse. How shulde other-wyse bountee be compted for thyne? Thilke goodnesse and fairnesse be proper to tho thinges hem-selfe; than,[ ] if they be nat thyne, sorow nat whan they wende, ne glad thee nat in pompe and in pride whan thou hem hast. For their80bountee and their beautees cometh out of their owne kynde, and nat of thyne owne person. As faire ben they in their not having as whan thou hast hem. They be nat faire for thou hast hem; but thou hast geten hem for the fairnesse of them-selfe. And there the vaylance of men is demed in richesse outforth, wenen85me[n] to have no proper good in them-selfe, but seche it in straunge thinges. Trewly, the condicion of good wening is to thee mistourned, to wene, your noblesse be not in your-selfe, but in the goodes and beautee of other thinges. Pardy, the beestes90 that han but feling soules, have suffisaunce in their owne selfe; and ye, that ben lyke to god, seken encrese of suffisaunce from so excellent a kynde of so lowe thinges; ye do greet wrong to him that you made lordes over al erthly thinges; and ye putte your worthinesse under the nombre of the fete of lower thinges and95 foule. Whan ye juge thilke riches to be your worthinesse, than putte ye your-selfe, by estimacion, under thilke foule thinges; and than leve ye the knowing of your-selfe; so be ye viler than any dombe beest; that cometh of shrewde vice. Right so thilke persons that loven non yvel for dereworthinesse of the persone,100 but for straunge goodes, and saith, the adornement in the knot lyth in such thing; his errour is perilous and shrewd , and he wryeth moche venim with moche welth; and that knot may nat be good whan he hath it getten.
Certes, thus hath riches with flickering sight anoyed many;105 and often, whan there is a throw-out shrewe, he coyneth al the gold , al the precious stones that mowen be founden, to have in his bandon; he weneth no wight be worthy to have suche thinges but he alone. How many hast thou knowe, now in late tyme, that in their richesse supposed suffisance have folowed, and now110 it is al fayled!’
‘Ye,’ quod she tho, ‘had not the flood greetly areysed, and throwe to-hemward both gravel and sand , he had mad no medlinge.115 And right as see yeveth flood , so draweth see ebbe, and pulleth ayen under wawe al the firste out-throwe , but-if good pyles of noble governaunce in love, in wel-meninge maner, ben sadly grounded; †the whiche holde thilke gravel as for a tyme, that ayen lightly mowe not it turne; and if the pyles ben trewe, the120 gravel and sand wol abyde. And certes, ful warning in love shalt thou never thorow hem get ne cover, that lightly with an ebbe, er thou be ware , it [ne] wol ayen meve. In richesse many men have had tenes and diseses , whiche they shulde not have had, if therof they had fayled. Thorow whiche, now declared, partly it is shewed, that for richesse shulde the knotte in herte neither ben125 caused in one ne in other; trewly, knotte may benknit , and I trowe more stedfast, in love, though richesse fayled; and els, in richesse is the knotte, and not in herte. And than suche a knotte is fals ; whan the see ebbeth and withdraweth the gravel, that such richesse voydeth, thilke knotte wol unknitte.130 Wherfore no trust, no way, no cause, no parfit being is in richesse, of no suche knotte. Therfore another way muste we have.
CHAPTER VI.[ ]
HONOUR in dignitè is wened to yeven a ful knot.’
‘Ye, certes,’ quod I, ‘and of that opinion ben many; for they sayn , dignitè, with honour and reverence, causen hertes to encheynen, and so abled to be knit togither, for the excellence in soverayntè of such degrees.’5
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘if dignitè, honour, and reverence causen thilke knotte in herte, this knot is good and profitable. For every cause of a cause is cause of thing caused. Than thus: good thinges and profitable ben by dignitè, honour, and reverence caused. Ergo, they accorden; and dignites ben good with10[ ] reverences and honour. But contraries mowen not accorden. Wherfore, by reson , there shulde no dignitee, no reverence, non honour acorde with shrewes. But that is fals ; they have ben cause to shrewes in many shreudnes; for with hem they accorden. Ergo, from beginning to argue ayenward til it come to the laste15 conclusion, they are not cause of the knot. Lo, al day at eye arn shrewes not in reverence, in honour, and in dignitè? Yes, forsothe, rather than the good. Than foloweth it that shrewes rather than good shul ben cause of this knot. But of this [the ] contrarie of al lovers is bileved, and for a sothe openly determined20 to holde.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘that wol I shewe in manifolde wyse. Ye wene25 (quod she) that dignites of office here in your citè is as the[ ] sonne; it shyneth bright withouten any cloude; [of ] whiche thing , whan they comen in the handes of malicious tirauntes, there cometh moche harm , and more grevaunce therof than of the wilde fyre, though it brende al a strete. Certes, in dignitè of30[ ] office, the werkes of the occupyer shewen the malice and the badnesse in the person; with shrewes they maken manyfolde harmes, and moche people shamen. How often han rancours, for malice of the governour, shulde ben mainteyned? Hath not than suche dignitees caused debat , rumours, and yvels? Yes,35 god wot , by suche thinges have ben trusted to make mens understanding enclyne to many queynte thinges. Thou wottest wel what I mene .’
‘Do way, do way,’ quod she; ‘if it so betyde, but that is selde, that suche dignitè is betake in a good mannes governaunce, what thing is to recken in the dignitees goodnesse? Pardè, the bountee and goodnesse is hers that usen it in good governaunce;45 and therfore cometh it that honour and reverence shulde ben don to dignitè bycause of encresinge vertue in the occupyer, and not to the ruler bycause of soverayntee in dignitè. Sithen dignitè may no vertue cause, who is worthy worship for suche goodnesse? Not dignitè, but person, that maketh goodnesse in50 dignitè to shyne.’
‘This is wonder thing,’ quod I; ‘for me thinketh, as the person in dignitè is worthy honour for goodnesse, so, tho[ugh] a person for badnesse ma[u]gree hath deserved, yet the dignitè leneth to be commended.’
55‘Let be,’ quod she, ‘thou errest right foule; dignitè with badnesse is helper to performe the felonous doing. Pardy, were it kyndly good, or any propertè of kyndly vertue [that men ] hadden in hem-selfe, shrewes shulde hem never have; with hem shulde they never accorde. Water and fyr , that ben contrarious, mowen nat togider ben assembled; kynde wol nat suffre suche60 contraries to joyne . And sithen at eye, by experience in doing, we seen that shrewes have hem more often than good men , siker mayst thou be, that kyndly good in suche thing is nat appropred. Pardy, were they kyndly good, as wel oon as other shulden evenlich in vertue of governaunce ben worthe; but oon fayleth in65 goodnesse, another doth the contrary; and so it sheweth, kyndly goodnesse in dignitè nat be grounded. And this same reson (quod she) may be mad , in general, on al the bodily goodes; for they comen ofte to throw-out shrewes. After this, he is strong that hath might to have grete burthens , and he is light70 and swifte, that hath soveraintè in ronning to passe other; right so he is a shrewe, on whom shreude thinges and badde han most werchinge. And right as philosophy maketh philosophers, and[ ] my service maketh lovers, right so, if dignites weren good or vertuous, they shulde maken shrewes good, and turne her malice,75 and make hem be vertuous. But that they do nat, as it is proved, but causen rancour and debat . Ergo, they be nat good, but utterly badde. Had Nero never ben Emperour, shulde never his dame have be slayn, to maken open the privitè of his engendrure. Herodes, for his dignitè, slew many children. The80 dignitè of king John wolde have distroyed al England . Therfore mokel wysdom and goodnesse both, nedeth in a person , the malice in dignitè slyly to brydel, and with a good bitte of arest to withdrawe, in case it wolde praunce otherwyse than it shulde. Trewly, ye yeve to dignites wrongful names in your cleping.85 They shulde hete, nat dignitè, but moustre of badnesse and mayntenour of shrewes. Pardy, shyne the sonne never so bright, and it bringe forth no hete , ne sesonably the herbes out-bringe of the erthe, but suffre frostes and cold , and the erthe barayne to ligge by tyme of his compas in circute about, ye wolde wonder,90 and dispreyse that sonne ! If the mone be at ful, and sheweth no light, but derke and dimme to your sight appereth, and make distruccion of the waters, wol ye nat suppose it be under cloude or in clips, and that som prevy thing, unknowen to your wittes, is cause of suche contrarious doinge? Than, if clerkes, that han95 ful insight and knowing of suche impedimentes, enforme you of the sothe, very idiottes ye ben, but-if ye yeven credence to thilk clerkes wordes. And yet it doth me tene, to sene many wrecches rejoycen in such maner planettes . Trewly, litel con[ne] they on100[ ] philosophy, or els on my lore, that any desyr haven suche lightinge planettes in that wyse any more to shewe.’
‘Good lady,’ quod I, ‘tel me how ye mene in these thinges.’
‘Lo,’ quod she, ‘the dignites of your citè, sonne and mone, nothing in kynde shew their shyning as they shulde. For the105 sonne made no brenning hete in love, but freesed envye in mennes hertes, for feblenesse of shyning hete; and the moone was about, under an olde cloude, the livinges by waters to distroye.’
‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘it is supposed they had shyned as they110 shulde.’
‘Ye,’ quod she, ‘but now it is proved at the ful, their beautè in kyndly shyning fayled; wherfore dignitè of him-selven hath no beautee in fayrnesse, ne dryveth nat awaye vices, but encreseth ; and so be they no cause of the knotte. Now see , in good trouth;115 holde ye nat such sonnes worthy of no reverence, and dignites worthy of no worship, that maketh men to do the more harmes?’
‘I not , quod I.
‘That is good skil,’ quod I; ‘it is dewe to suche, both reverence and worship to have.’
[ ] ‘Than,’ quod she, ‘a shrewe, for his shreudnesse, altho he be put forth toforn other for ferde, yet is he worthy, for shrewdnesse,125 to be unworshipped; of reverence no part is he worthy to have, [that ] to contrarious doing belongeth: and that is good skil. For, right as he besmyteth the dignites, thilke same thing ayenward him smyteth, or els shulde smyte. And over this thou wost[ ] wel (quod she) that fyr in every place heteth where it be, and130 water maketh wete. Why? For kyndely werking is so y-put in hem, to do suche thinges; for every kyndely in werking sheweth[ ] his kynde. But though a wight had ben mayre of your city many winter togider, and come in a straunge place there he were not knowen, he shulde for his dignitè have no reverence. Than neither worshippe ne reverence is kyndely propre in no dignitè,135 sithen they shulden don their kynde in suche doinge, if any were. And if reverence ne worshippe kyndely be not set in dignitees, and they more therein ben shewed than goodnesse , for that in dignitè is shewed, but it proveth that goodnesse kyndely in hem is not grounded. I-wis, neither worshippe, ne reverence, ne goodnesse140 in dignitè don non office of kynde; for they have non[ ] suche propertee in nature of doinge but by false opinion of the people. Lo! how somtyme thilke that in your city wern in dignitè noble, if thou liste hem nempne, they ben now overturned bothe in worship, in name, and in reverence; wherfore145 such dignites have no kyndly werching of worshippe and of reverence. He that hath no worthinesse on it-selfe, now it ryseth and now it vanissheth, after the variaunt opinion in false hertes of unstable people. Wherfore, if thou desyre the knotte of this jewel, or els if thou woldest suppose she shulde sette the knotte150 on thee for suche maner dignitè, than thou wenest beautee or goodnesse of thilke somwhat encreseth the goodnesse or vertue in[ ] the body. But dignite[es] of hemself ben not good, ne yeven reverence ne worshippe by their owne kynde. How shulde they than yeve to any other a thing , that by no waye mowe they have155 hem-selfe? It is sene in dignitè of the emperour and of many mo other, that they mowe not of hem-selve kepe their worshippe ne their reverence; that , in a litel whyle, it is now up and now downe, by unstedfaste hertes of the people. What bountee mowe they yeve that, with cloude, lightly leveth his shyninge? Certes,160 to the occupyer is mokel appeyred, sithen suche doinge doth villanye to him that may it not mayntayne. Wherfore thilke way to the knotte is croked; and if any desyre to come to the knot,[ ] he must leve this way on his lefte syde, or els shal he never come there.165
CHAPTER VII.[ ]
AVAYLETH aught (quod she) power of might in mayntenaunce of [men, to maken hem ] worthy to come to this knot?’
‘Pardè,’ quod I, ‘ye; for hertes ben ravisshed from suche5 maner thinges.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘though a fooles herte is with thing ravisshed, yet therfore is no general cause of the powers, ne of a siker parfit herte to be loked after. Was not Nero the moste shrewe oon of thilke that men rede, and yet had he power to10 make senatours justices, and princes of many landes? Was not that greet power?’
‘Yes, certes,’ quod I.
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘yet might he not helpe him-selfe out of disese , whan he gan falle. How many ensamples canst thou15 remembre of kinges grete and noble, and huge power †helden , and yet they might not kepe hem-selve from wrecchednesse? How wrecched was king Henry Curtmantil er he deyde? He had not so moche as to cover with his membres; and yet was he oon of the grettest kinges of al the Normandes ofspring, and moste20[ ] possession had. O! a noble thing and clere is power, that is not founden mighty to kepe him-selfe! Now , trewly, a greet fole is he, that for suche thing wolde sette the knotte in thyne herte! Also power of rëalmes , is not thilke grettest power amonges the worldly powers reckened? And if suche powers han wrecchednesse25 in hem-selfe, it foloweth other powers of febler condicion to ben wrecched; and than, that wrecchednesse shulde be cause of suche a knotte! But every wight that hath reson wot wel that wrecchednesse by no way may ben cause of none suche knotte; wherfore suche power is no cause. That powers have wrecchednesse30[ ] in hem-selfe, may right lightly ben preved. If power lacke on any syde, on that syde is no power; but no power is wrecchednesse: for al-be-it so the power of emperours or kinges, or els of their rëalmes (which is the power of the prince) strecchen wyde and brode, yet besydes is ther mokel folk of whiche he hath no commaundement ne lordshippe; and there-as lacketh his35 power, his nonpower entreth, where-under springeth that maketh hem wrecches. No power is wrecchednesse and nothing els; but in this maner hath kinges more porcion of wrecchednesse than of power. Trewly, suche powers ben unmighty; for ever[ ] they ben in drede how thilke power from lesing may be keped40 of sorow; so drede sorily prikkes ever in their hertes: litel is that power whiche careth and ferdeth it-selfe to mayntayne. Unmighty is that wrecchednesse whiche is entred by the ferdful weninge of the wrecche him-selfe; and knot y-maked by wrecchednesse is betwene wrecches; and wrecches al thing bewaylen;45 wherfore the knot shulde be bewayled; and there is no suche parfit blisse that we supposed at the ginning! Ergo, power in nothing shulde cause suche knottes. Wrecchednesse is a kyndely propertee in suche power, as by way of drede, whiche they mowe[ ] nat eschewe, ne by no way live in sikernesse. For thou wost wel50 (quod she) he is nought mighty that wolde don that he may not don ne perfourme.’
‘Therfore,’ quod I, ‘these kinges and lordes that han suffisaunce at the ful of men and other thinges, mowen wel ben holden mighty; their comaundementes ben don ; it is nevermore55 denyed.’
‘That is sothe,’ quod I.60
‘Than if he wot it, he must nedes ben a-drad to lesen it. He that wot of his might is in doute that he mote nedes lese; and so ledeth him drede to ben unmighty. And if he recche not to lese, litel is that worth that of the lesing reson reccheth nothing; and if it were mighty in power or in strength, the lesing shulde ben65 withset; and whan it cometh to the lesing, he may it not withsitte. Ergo, thilke might is leude and naughty. Such mightes arn y-lyke to postes and pillers that upright stonden, and greet might han to bere many charges; and if they croke on any syde, litel thing maketh hem overthrowe.’70
[ ] ‘Than holdest thou him mighty that hath many men armed75 and many servauntes; and ever he is adrad of hem in his herte; and, for he gasteth hem, somtyme he mot the more fere have. Comenly, he that other agasteth, other in him ayenward werchen the same; and thus warnisshedmot he be, and of warnisshe the hour drede. Litel is that might and right leude, who-so taketh80 hede.’
‘Than semeth it,’ quod I, ‘that suche famulers aboute kinges and grete lordes shulde greet might have. Although a sypher in augrim have no might in significacion of it-selve, yet he yeveth power in significacion to other; and these clepe I the helpes to85 a poste to kepe him from falling.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘thilke skilles ben leude. Why? But-if the shorers be wel grounded, the helpes shulden slyden and suffre the charge to falle ; her might litel avayleth.’
[ ] ‘That is sothe,’ quod she; ‘for as, [if ] the blynde in bering of the lame ginne stomble, bothe shulde falle , right so suche pillers, so envyroned with helpes, in falling of the grounde fayleth †altogider .95[ ]How ofte than suche famulers, in their moste pryde of prosperitè, ben sodainly overthrowen! Thou hast knowe many in a moment so ferre overthrowe, that cover might they[ ] never. Whan the hevinesse of suche fayling cometh by case of fortune, they mowe it not eschue; and might and power, if ther100 were any, shulde of strength such thinges voyde and weyve; and so it is not. Lo, than! whiche thing is this power, that, tho men han it, they ben agast; and in no tyme of ful having be they siker! And if they wold weyve drede, as they mow not, litel is in worthines. Fye therfore on so naughty thing, any knot to105[ ] cause! Lo! in adversitè, thilk ben his foes that glosed and semed frendes in welth; thus arn his familiers his foes and his enemyes; and nothing is werse, ne more mighty for to anoy than is a familier enemy ; and these thinges may they not weyve; so [ ] trewly their might is not worth a cresse. And over al thinge, he that may not withdrawe the brydel of his flesshly lustes and his110wrecched complayntes (now think on thy-selfe) trewly he is not mighty; I can seen no way that lyth to the knotte. Thilke people than, that setten their hertes upon suche mightes and[ ] powers, often ben begyled. Pardè, he is not mighty that may do any thing, that another may doon him the selve, and that men115 have as greet power over him as he over other. A justice that demeth men ayenward hath ben often demed. Buserusslew his gestes, and he was slayn of Hercules his geste. Hugest betraysshed many men, and of Collo was he betrayed. He that with[ ] swerde smyteth, with swerde shal be smitten.’120
Quod I tho, ‘me thinketh that, although a man by power have suche might over me, as I have over another, that disproveth no might in my person; but yet may I have power and might never-the-later.’
[ ] ‘See now ,’ quod she, ‘thyne owne leudenesse. He is mighty130 that may without wrecchednesse ; and he is unmighty that may it[ ] not withsitte; but than he, that might over thee , and he wol, putte on thee wrecchednesse , thou might it not withsitte. Ergo, thou seest thy-selfe what foloweth! But now (quod she) woldest thou not skorne, and thou see a flye han power to don harm to135 an-other flye, and thilke have no might ne ayenturning him-selfe to defende?’
‘Yes, certes,’ quod I
[ ] ‘Who is a frayler thing,’ quod she, ‘than the fleshly body of a man, over whiche have oftentyme flyes, and yet lasse thing than140 a flye, mokel might in grevaunce and anoying , withouten any withsittinge, for al thilke mannes mightes? And sithen thou seest thyne flesshly body in kyndely power fayle, how shulde than the accident of a thinge ben in more suretè of beinge than substancial? Wherfore, thilke thinges that we clepe power is but145 accident to the flesshly body; and so they may not have that suretee in might, whiche wanteth in the substancial body. Why there is no way to the knotte, [for him ] that loketh aright after the149 hye way , as he shulde.
CHAPTER VIII.[ ]
VERILY it is proved that richesse, dignitè, and power ben not trewe way to the knotte, but as rathe by suche thinges the knotte to be unbounde; wherfore on these thinges I rede no wight truste to gette any good knotte. But what shul we saye of5 renomè in the peoples mouthes? Shulde that ben any cause? What supposest thou in thyn herte?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘yes, I trowe; for your slye resons I dare not safely it saye.’
‘Than,’ quod she, ‘wol I preve that shrewes as rathe shul ben10 in the knotte as the good; and that were ayenst kynde.’
‘Fayn ,’ quod I, ‘wolde I that here; me thinketh wonder how renomè shuld as wel knitte a shrewe as a good person; renomè in every degree hath avaunced; yet wist I never the contrarye. Shulde than renomè accorde with a shrewe? It may not sinke in15 my stomake til I here more.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘have I not sayd alwayes, that shrewes shul not have the knotte?’
20‘Than,’ quod she, ‘the good ought thilke knotte to have.’
‘How els?’ quod I.
‘It were greet harm ,’ quod she, ‘that the good were weyved and put out of espoire of the knotte, if he it desyred.’
‘O,’ quod I, ‘alas! On suche thing to thinke, I wene that25 heven wepeth to see suche wronges here ben suffred on erthe; the good ought it to have, and no wight els.’
‘The goodnesse,’ quod she, ‘of a person may not ben knowe outforth but by renomè of the knowers; wherfore he must be renomed of goodnesse, to come to the knot.’
30‘So must it be,’ quod I, ‘or els al lost that we carpen.’
‘Sothly,’ quod she, ‘that were greet harm , but-if a good man might have his desyres in service of thilke knot, and a shrewe to be †weyved , and they ben not knowen in general but by lacking and praysing, and in renomè; and so by the consequence it foloweth, a shrewe to ben praysed and knit; and a good to be35 forsake and unknit.’
‘Nay,’ quod she, ‘and that shalt thou see as yerne; these elementes han contrarious qualitees in kynde, by whiche they mowe not acorde no more than good and badde; and in [some ] qualitees they acorde, so that contraries by qualitè acorden by qualitè. Is not erthe drye; and water, that is next and bitwene45 th’erthe , is wete? Drye and wete ben contrarie, and mowen not acorde, and yet this discordaunce is bounde to acorde by cloudes; for bothe elementes ben colde. Right so the eyre, that is next the water, is wete; and eke it is hot . This eyre by his hete contrarieth water that is cold ; but thilke contrarioustè is oned †by50 moysture; for bothe be they moyst. Also the fyr , that is next[ ] the †eyre and it encloseth al about, is drye, wherthrough it contrarieth †eyre , that is wete; and in hete they acorde; for bothe they ben hote. Thus by these acordaunces discordantes ben joyned, and in a maner of acordaunce they acorden by55conneccion , that is, knitting togither; of that accorde cometh a maner of melodye that is right noble. Right so good and bad arn contrarie in doinges, by lacking and praysing; good is bothe lacked and praysed of some; and badde is bothe lacked and praysed of some; wherfore their contrarioustee acorde bothe by60 lacking and praysing. Than foloweth it, though good be never so mokel praysed, [it ] oweth more to ben knit than the badde; or els bad, for the renomè that he hath, must be taken as wel as the good; and that oweth not.’
‘No, forsothe,’ quod I.65
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘than is renomè no way to the knot. Lo, foole,’ quod she, ‘how clerkes wryten of suche glorie of renomè:—“O [ ] glorie, glorie, thou art non other thing to thousandes of folke[ ] but a greet sweller of eeres!” Many oon hath had ful greet renomè70 by false opinion of variaunt people. And what is fouler than folk wrongfully to ben praysed, or by malice of the people giltlesse lacked? Nedes shame foloweth therof to hem that with wrong prayseth, and also to the desertes praysed; and vilanye and reproof of him that disclaundreth.
75[ ] Good child (quod she) what echeth suche renomè to the conscience of a wyse man, that loketh and mesureth his goodnesse, not by slevelesse wordes of the people, but by sothfastnesse of conscience? By god, nothing. And if it be fayr , a mans name be eched by moche folkes praysing, and fouler thing that mo folk80 not praysen? I sayd to thee a litel here beforn , that no folk in straunge countreyes nought praysen; suche renomè may not comen to their eeres, bycause of unknowing and other obstacles , as I sayde: wherfore more folk not praysen, and that is right foul to him that renomè desyreth, to wete, lesse folk praisen than85[ ] renomè enhaunce. I trowe, the thank of a people is naught worth in remembraunce to take; ne it procedeth of no wyse jugement; never is it stedfast pardurable. It is veyne and fleing; with winde wasteth and encreseth . Trewly, suche glorie ought to be hated. If gentillesse be a cleer thing , renomè and glorie to90 enhaunce, as in reckening of thy linage, than is gentilesse of thy kinne; for-why it semeth that gentilesse of thy kinne is but praysing and renomè that come of thyne auncestres desertes: and if so be that praysing and renomè of their desertes make their clere gentillesse, than mote they nedes ben gentil for their95 gentil dedes, and not thou; for of thy-selfe cometh not such maner gentilesse, praysinge of thy desertes. Than gentillesse of thyne auncesters, that forayne is to thee , maketh thee not gentil, but ungentil and reproved, and-if thou continuest not their[ ] gentilesse. And therfore a wyse man ones sayde: “Better is it100 thy kinne to ben by thee gentyled, than thou to glorifye of thy kinnes gentilesse, and hast no desert therof thy-selfe.”
[ ]How passinge is the beautee of flesshly bodyes, more flittinge than movable floures of sommer! And if thyne eyen weren as good as the lynx, that may seen thorow many stone walles, bothe fayre and foule , in their entrayles, of no maner hewe shulde apere to105 thy sight; that were a foule sight. Than is fayrnesse by feblesse of eyen, but of no kynde; wherfore thilke shulde be no way to the knot; whan thilke is went, the knotte wendeth after. Lo, now , at al proves, none of al these thinges mowe parfitly ben in understanding, to ben way to the during blisse of the knotte.110 But now , to conclusion of these maters, herkeneth these wordes. Very sommer is knowe from the winter: in shorter cours draweth the dayes of Decembre than in the moneth of June; the springes of Maye faden and †falowen in Octobre. These thinges ben not unbounden from their olde kynde; they have not lost her werke115 of their propre estat . Men, of voluntarious wil, withsitte that hevens governeth. Other thinges suffren thinges paciently to werche; man, in what estat he be, yet wolde he ben chaunged. Thus by queynt thinges blisse is desyred; and the fruit that cometh of these springes nis but anguis and bitter; al-though it120 be a whyle swete, it may not be with-holde; hastely they departe;[ ] thus al-day fayleth thinges that fooles wende. Right thus hast thou fayled in thy first wening. He that thinketh to sayle, and drawe after the course of the sterrede polo antartico, shal he never come northward to the contrarye sterre of polus articus; of whiche125 thinges if thou take kepe, thy first out-waye-going “prison” and “exile” may be cleped. The groundfalsed underneth, and so hast thou fayled. No wight, I wene, blameth him that stinteth in misgoing, and secheth redy way of his blisse. Now me[ ] thinketh (quod she) that it suffyseth in my shewing; the wayes130 by dignetè, richesse, renomè, and power, if thou loke clerely, arn no wayes to the knotte.’
[ ] ‘EVERY argument, lady,’ quod I tho, ‘that ye han maked in these fore-nempned maters, me thinketh hem in my ful witte conceyved; shal I no more, if god wil, in the contrarye be begyled. But fayn wolde I, and it were your wil, blisse of the knotte to me were declared. I might fele the better how my5 herte might assente, to pursue the ende in service, as he hath begonne.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘there is a melodye in heven, whiche clerkes clepen “armony ”; but that is not in brekinge of voice, but it is10 a maner swete thing of kyndely werching, that causeth joye[s] out of nombre to recken, and that is joyned by reson and by wysdome in a quantitè of proporcion of knitting. God made al thing in reson and in witte of proporcion of melody, we mowe not suffyse to shewe. It is written by grete clerkes and wyse, that,15 in erthly thinges, lightly by studye and by travayle the knowinge may be getten; but of suche hevenly melody, mokel travayle wol bringe out in knowing right litel. Swetenesse of this paradyse hath you ravisshed; it semeth ye slepten, rested from al other diseses ; so kyndely is your herte therein y-grounded. Blisse of20 two hertes, in ful love knitte, may not aright ben imagined; ever is their contemplacion, in ful of thoughty studye to plesaunce, mater in bringinge comfort everiche to other. And therfore, of erthly thinges, mokel mater lightly cometh in your lerning. Knowledge of understonding, that is nigh after eye, but not so25nigh the covetyse of knittinge in your hertes. More soverain desyr hath every wight in litel heringe of hevenly conninge than of mokel material purposes in erthe. Right so it is in propertee of my servauntes, that they ben more affiched in steringe of litel thinge in his desyr than of mokel other mater lasse in his30 conscience. This blisse is a maner of sowne delicious in a queynte voice touched, and no dinne of notes; there is non impression of breking labour . I can it not otherwyse nempne, for wantinge of privy wordes, but paradyse terrestre ful of delicious melody, withouten travayle in sown, perpetual service in ful joye35 coveyted to endure. Only kynde maketh hertes in understonding so to slepe, that otherwyse may it nat be nempned, ne in other maner names for lyking swetnesse can I nat it declare; al sugre and hony, al minstralsy and melody ben but soot and galle in comparison, by no maner proporcion to reken, in respect of this40 blisful joye. This armony, this melody, this perdurable joye may nat be in doinge but betwene hevens and elementes, or twey kyndly hertes ful knit in trouth of naturel understonding, withouten weninge and disceit; as hevens and planettes, whiche thinges continually, for kyndly accordaunces, foryeteth al contrarious mevinges, that in-to passive diseses may sowne; evermore it45 thirsteth after more werking. These thinges in proporcion be so wel joyned, that it undoth al thing whiche in-to badnesse by any way may be accompted.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘this is a thing precious and noble. Alas! that falsnesse ever, or wantrust shulde ever be maynteyned, this50 joye to voyde. Alas! that ever any wrecche shulde, thorow wrath or envy, janglinge dare make, to shove this melody so farre a-backe, that openly dar it nat ben used; trewly, wrecches ben fulfilled with envy and wrathe, and no wight els. Flebring and tales in suche wrecches dare appere openly in every wightes55 eere, with ful mouth so charged, [with ] mokel malice moved many innocentes to shende; god wolde their soule therwith were strangled! Lo! trouth in this blisse is hid, and over-al under covert him hydeth; he dar not come a-place, for waytinge of shrewes. Commenly, badnesse goodnesse amaistreth; with myselfe60 and my soule this joye wolde I bye, if the goodnesse were as moche as the nobley in melody.’
‘How els?’ quod I.
‘Envy, wrathe, and falsnesse ben general,’ quod she; ‘and that wot every man being in his right mynde; the knotte, the whiche we have in this blisse, is contrariaunt and distroyeth such maner yvels. Ergo, it is good. What hath caused any wight70 to don any good dede? Fynd me any good, but-if this knotte be the cheef cause. Nedes mot it be good, that causeth so many good dedes. Every cause is more and worthier than thing caused; and in that mores possession al thinges lesse ben compted. As the king is more than his people, and hath in75 possession al his rëalme after, right so the knot is more than[ ] al other goodes; thou might recken al thinges lasse; and that to him longeth, oweth in-to his mores cause of worship and of wil †to turne; it is els rebel and out of his mores defending to voyde. Right so of every goodnesse; in-to the knotte and80 in-to the cause of his worship [it ] oweth to tourne. And trewly, every thing that hath being profitably is good, but nothing hath to ben more profitably than this knot; kinges it mayntayneth, and hem, their powers to mayntayne. It maketh misse to ben85 amended with good governaunce in doing. It closeth hertes so togider, that rancour is out-thresten. Who that it lengest kepeth, lengest is glad[d]ed.’
‘I trowe,’ quod I, ‘heretykes and misse-mening people hence-forward wol maintayne this knotte; for therthorough shul they90 ben maintayned, and utterly wol turne and leve their olde yvel understanding, and knitte this goodnesse, and profer so ferre in service, that name of servauntes might they have. Their jangles shal cese ; me thinketh hem lacketh mater now to alege.’
‘Certes,’ quod Love, ‘if they, of good wil thus turned, as thou95 sayst, wolen trewly perfourme, yet shul they be abled party of this blisse to have; and they wol not, yet shul my servauntes the werre wel susteyne in myn helpe of maintenaunce to the ende. And they, for their good travayle, shullen in reward so ben meded, that endelesse joye body and soule †to-gider in this shullen100 abyden. There is ever accion of blisse withouten possible corrupcion; there is accion perpetuel in werke without travayle; there is everlasting passife, withouten any of labour; continuel plyte, without cesinge coveyted to endure. No tonge may telle , ne herte may thinke the leest point of this blisse.’
105‘God bring me thider!’ quod I than.
‘Continueth wel,’ quod she, ‘to the ende, and thou might not fayle than; for though thou spede not here, yet shal the passion of thy martred lyfe ben written, and rad toforn the grete Jupiter, that god is of routhe, an high in the holownesse of heven, there110 he sit in his trone; and ever thou shalt forward ben holden amonge al these hevins for a knight, that mightest with no penaunce ben discomfited. He is a very martyr that, livingly goinge, is gnawen to the bones.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘these ben good wordes of comfort ; a litel115 myne herte is rejoyced in a mery wyse.’
[ ] ‘Ye,’ quod she; ‘and he that is in heven felith more joye, than whan he firste herde therof speke.’
‘So it is,’ quod I; ‘but wist I the sothe, that after disese comfort wolde folowe with blisse, so as ye have often declared, I wolde wel suffre this passion with the better chere. But my120 thoughtful sorowe is endelesse, to thinke how I am cast out of a welfare; and yet dayneth not this yvel non herte, non hede, to meward throwe: which thinges wolde greetly me by wayes of comfort disporte, to weten in my-selfe a litel with other me[n] ben y-moved; and my sorowes peysen not in her balaunce the125 weyght of a peese. Slinges of her daunger so hevily peysen, they drawe my causes so hye, that in her eyen they semen but light and right litel.’
[ ] ‘O! for,’ quod she, ‘heven with skyes that foule cloudes maken and darke †weders , with gret tempestes and huge,130 maketh the mery dayes with softe shyning sonnes. Also the yere with-draweth floures and beautee of herbes and of erth;[ ] the same †yere maketh springes and jolitè in Vere so to renovel[ ] with peinted coloures, that erthe semeth as gay as heven. Sees that blasteth and with wawes throweth shippes, of whiche the135 living creatures for greet peril for hem dreden; right so, the same sees maketh smothe waters and golden sayling, and comforteth hem with noble haven that firste were so ferde. Hast[ ] thou not (quod she) lerned in thy youth, that Jupiter hath in his warderobe bothe garmentes of joye and of sorowe? What140 wost thou how soone he wol turne of the garment of care, and clothe thee in blisse? Pardè, it is not ferre fro thee . Lo, an olde proverbe aleged by many wyse:—“Whan bale is greetest , than is bote a nye-bore.” Wherof wilt thou dismaye? Hope wel and serve wel; and that shal thee save, with thy good bileve.’145
‘O,’ quod she, ‘I have mokel to done to clere thyne understanding, and voyde these errours out of thy mynde. I wol prove it by reson , thy wo may not alway enduren. Every thing150[ ] kyndely (quod she) is governed and ruled by the hevenly bodyes, whiche haven ful werchinge here on erthe; and after course of these bodyes, al course of your doinges here ben governed and ruled by kynde.
[ ] Thou wost wel, by cours of planettes al your dayes proceden;155 and to everich of singuler houres be enterchaunged stondmele about, by submitted worching naturally to suffre; of whiche changes cometh these transitory tymes that maketh revolving of your yeres thus stondmele; every hath ful might of worchinge,160 til al seven han had her course about. Of which worchinges and possession of houres the dayes of the weke have take her names, after denominacion in these seven planettes. Lo, your Sonday ginneth at the first hour after noon on the Saturday, in whiche hour is than the Sonne in ful might of worching; of whom Sonday165 taketh his name. Next him foloweth Venus, and after Mercurius, and than the Moone; so than Saturnus, after whom Jovis; and than Mars; and ayen than the Sonne; and so forth †by .xxiiii. houres togider; in whiche hour ginning in the seconde day stant the Moone, as maister for that tyme to rule; of whom170 Monday taketh his name; and this course foloweth of al other dayes generally in doing. This course of nature of these bodyes chaunging stinten at a certain terme, limitted by their first kynde; and of hem al governementes in this elemented worlde proceden, as in springes, constellacions, engendrures, and al that folowen175 kynde and reson; wherfore [in ] the course that foloweth, sorowe and joy kyndely moten entrechangen their tymes; so that alway oon wele, as alway oon wo, may not endure. Thus seest[ ] thou appertly, thy sorowe in-to wele mot ben chaunged; wherfore in suche case to better syde evermore enclyne thou shuldest.180[ ] Trewly, next the ende of sorowe anon entreth joy; by maner of necessitè it wol ne may non other betyde; and so thy conti[n]gence is disproved; if thou holde this opinion any more, thy wit is right leude. Wherfore, in ful conclusion of al this, thilke Margaryte thou desyrest hath ben to thee dere in thy herte, and185 for her hast thou suffred many thoughtful diseses ; herafter shal [she ] be cause of mokel mirth and joye; and loke how glad canst thou ben, and cese al thy passed hevinesse with manifolde joyes. And than wol I as blythly here thee speken thy mirthes in joye , as I now have y-herd thy sorowes and thy complayntes.190 And if I mowe in aught thy joye encrese , by my trouthe, on my syde shal nat be leved for no maner traveyle, that I with al my mightes right blythly wol helpe, and ever ben redy you bothe to plese.’ And than thanked I that lady with al goodly maner that I worthily coude; and trewly I was greetly rejoysed in myne herte of her fayre behestes; and profered me to be195slawe , in al that she me wolde ordeyne, while my lyf lested.
‘[ ] ME thinketh,’ quod I, ‘that ye have right wel declared, that way to the knot shuld not ben in none of these disprovinge thinges; and now , order of our purpos this asketh, that ye shulde me shewe if any way be †thider , and whiche thilke way shulde ben; so that openly may be seye the verry5 hye way in ful confusioun of these other thinges.’
[ ] ‘Thou shalt,’ quod she, ‘understande that [of ] one of three lyves (as I first sayd) every creature of mankynde is sprongen, and so forth procedeth. These lyves ben thorow names departed in three maner of kyndes, as bestialliche, manliche, and resonabliche;10 of whiche two ben used by flesshely body, and the thirde by his soule. “Bestial” among resonables is forboden in every lawe and every secte, bothe in Cristen and other; for every wight dispyseth hem that liveth by lustes and delytes, as him that is thral and bounden servaunt to thinges right foule; suche15 ben compted werse than men; he shal nat in their degree ben rekened, ne for suche one alowed. Heritykes, sayn they, chosen lyf bestial, that voluptuously liven; so that (as I first sayde to thee ) in manly and resonable livinges our mater was to declare; but [by ] “manly” lyfe, in living after flesshe, or els flesshly wayes20 to chese, may nat blisse in this knotte be conquered, as by reson it is proved. Wherfore by “resonable” lyfe he must nedes it have, sithe a way is to this knotte, but nat by the firste tway lyves; wherfore nedes mot it ben to the thirde; and for to live in flesshe, but nat after flessh, is more resonablich than manliche rekened25 by clerkes. Therfore how this way cometh in, I wol it blythely declare.
[ ]See now (quod she) that these bodily goodes of manliche livinges yelden †sorowfulle stoundes and smertande houres. Whoso †wol remembre him to their endes, in their worchinges they30 ben thoughtful and sorie. Right as a bee that hath had his hony, anon at his flight beginneth to stinge; so thilke bodily goodes at the laste mote awaye, and than stinge they at her goinge, wherthrough entreth and clene voydeth al blisse of this knot.’
35‘Forsothe,’ quod I, ‘me thinketh I am wel served, in shewing of these wordes. Although I hadde litel in respect among other[ ]grete and worthy, yet had I a fair parcel, as me thought, for the tyme, in forthering of my sustenaunce; whiche while it dured, I thought me havinge mokel hony to myne estat . I had richesse40 suffisauntly to weyve nede; I had dignitè to be reverenced in worship. Power me thought that I had to kepe fro myne enemyes, and me semed to shyne in glorie of renomè as manhood asketh in mene; for no wight in myne administracion coude non yvels ne trechery by sothe cause on me putte. Lady, your-selve45[ ] weten wel, that of tho confederacies maked by my soverains I nas but a servaunt, and yet mokel mene folk wol fully ayenst reson thilke maters maynteyne, in whiche mayntenaunce [they ] glorien them-selfe; and, as often ye haven sayd , therof ought nothing in yvel to be layd to me-wardes, sithen as repentaunt50 I am tourned, and no more I thinke, neither tho thinges ne none suche other to sustene, but utterly distroye, without medlinge maner, in al my mightes. How am I now cast out of al swetnesse of blisse, and mischevously [is ] stongen my passed joy! Soroufully muste I bewayle, and live as a wrecche .
55Every of tho joyes is tourned in-to his contrary. For richesse, now have I povertè; for dignitè, now am I emprisoned; in stede of power, wrecchednesse I suffre; and for glorie of renomè, I am now dispysed and foulich hated. Thus hath farn Fortune , that sodaynly am I overthrowen, and out of al welth dispoyled.60 Trewly, me thinketh this way in entree is right hard ; god graunt me better grace er it be al passed; the other way, lady , me thought right swete.’
‘Now , certes,’ quod Love, ‘me list for to chyde. What ayleth thy darke dulnesse? Wol it nat in clerenesse ben sharped?65 Have I nat by many resons to thee shewed, suche bodily goodes faylen to yeve blisse, their might so ferforth wol nat strecche ? Shame (quod she) it is to say, thou lyest in thy wordes. Thou[ ] ne hast wist but right fewe that these bodily goodes had al atones; commenly they dwellen nat togider. He that plentè hath in riches, of his kinne is ashamed; another of linage right noble and wel70 knowe, but povert him handleth; he were lever unknowe. Another hath these, but renomè of peoples praysing may he nat have; overal he is hated and defamed of thinges right foule. Another is fair and semely, but dignitè him fayleth; and he that hath dignitè is croked or lame, or els misshapen and foully dispysed.75 Thus partable these goodes dwellen commenly; in one houshold ben they but slide . Lo! how wrecched is your truste on thing that wol nat accorde! Me thinketh, thou clepest thilke plyte thou were in “selinesse of fortune”; and thou sayest, for that the selinesse is departed, thou art a wrecch . Than foloweth80[ ] this upon thy wordes; every soule resonable of man may nat dye; and if deth endeth selinesse and maketh wrecches , as nedes of fortune maketh it an ende. Than soules, after deth of the body,[ ] in wrecchednesse shulde liven. But we knowe many that han geten the blisse of heven after their deth. How than may this85lyf maken men blisful, that whan it passeth it yeveth no wrecchednesse, and many tymes blisse, if in this lyfe he con live as he[ ] shulde? And wolt thou acompt with Fortune, that now at [t]he first she hath don thee tene and sorowe? If thou loke to the maner of al glad thinges and sorouful, thou mayst nat nay it, that90 yet, and namely now , thou standest in noble plyte in a good ginning, with good forth-going herafter. And if thou wene to be a wrecch , for such welth is passed, why than art thou nat wel fortunate, for badde thinges and anguis wrecchednesse ben passed? Art thou now come first in-to the hostry of this lyfe, or els the95both of this worlde? Art thou now a sodayn gest in-to this wrecched exile? Wenest there be any thing in this erthe stable? Is nat thy first arest passed, that brought thee in mortal sorowe? Ben these nat mortal thinges agon with ignorance of beestial wit, and hast receyved reson in knowing of vertue? What comfort is100 in thy herte , the knowinge sikerly in my service [to ] be grounded? And wost thou nat wel, as I said, that deth maketh ende of al fortune? What than? Standest thou in noble plyte, litel hede or recking to take, if thou let fortune passe dy[i]ng , or els that105[ ] she fly whan her list, now by thy lyve? Pardy, a man hath nothing so leef as his lyf ; and for to holde that, he doth al his cure and diligent traveyle. Than, say I, thou art blisful and fortunat sely, if thou knowe thy goodes that thou hast yet †beleved , whiche nothing may doute that they ne ben more worthy110 than thy lyf?’
‘What is that?’ quod I.
‘Good contemplacion ,’ quod she, ‘of wel-doing in vertue in tyme coming, bothe in plesaunce of me and of thy Margarit-peerle. Hastely thyn hert in ful blisse with her shal be esed . Therfore dismay115thee nat; Fortune, in hate grevously ayenst thy bodily person, ne yet to gret tempest hath she nat sent to thee , sithen the holding cables and ankers of thy lyfe holden by knitting so faste, that thou discomforte thee nought of tyme that is now, ne dispayre thee not of tyme to come, but yeven theecomfort in hope of120 weldoing, and of getting agayn the double of thy lesing, with encresing love of thy Margarite-perle therto! For this, hiderto, thou hast had al her ful daunger; and so thou might amende al that is misse and al defautes that somtyme thou diddest; and that now, in al thy tyme, to that ilke Margaryte in ful service of125 my lore thyne herte hath continued; wherfore she ought moche[ ] the rather enclyne fro her daungerous sete. These thinges ben yet knit by the holding anker in thy lyve, and holden mote they; to god I pray, al these thinges at ful ben perfourmed. For whyle this anker holdeth, I hope thou shalt safely escape; and [in a ]130 whyle thy trewe-mening service aboute bringe, in dispyte of al false meners that thee of-newe haten; for [in ] this trewe service thou art now entred.’
[ ] ‘Certayn ,’ quod I, ‘among thinges I asked a question, whiche was the way to the knot. Trewly, lady, how-so it be I tempt you135 with questions and answers, in speking of my first service, I am now in ful purpos in the pricke of the herte , that thilke service was an enprisonment, and alway bad and naughty, in no maner to be desyred; ne that, in getting of the knot, may it nothing aveyle. A wyse gentil herte loketh after vertue, and none other bodily joyes alone. And bycause toforn this in tho wayes I was140set , I wot wel my-selfe I have erred, and of the blisse fayled; and so out of my way hugely have I ronne .’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘that is sothe; and there thou hast miswent, eschewe the path from hens-forward , I rede. Wonder I trewly why the mortal folk of this worlde seche these ways outforth;145 and it is preved in your-selfe. Lo, how ye ben confounded with errour and folly! The knowing of very cause and way is[ ] goodnesse and vertue. Is there any thing to thee more precious than thy-selfe? Thou shalt have in thy power that thou woldest never lese, and that in no way may be taken fro thee ; and thilke150 thing is that is cause of this knot. And if deth mowe it nat reve more than an erthly creature, thilke thing than abydeth with thy-selfe soule. And so, our conclusion to make, suche a knot, thus getten, abydeth with this thinge and with the soule, as long as theylaste . A soule dyeth never; vertu and goodnesse evermore155 with the soule endureth; and this knot is parfit blisse. Than this soule in this blisse endlesse shal enduren. Thus shul hertes of a trewe knot ben esed : thus shul their soules ben plesed : thus perpetually in joye shul they singe.’
‘In good trouth,’ quod I, ‘here is a good beginning; yeve us160 more of this way.’
EVERY soule of reson hath two thinges of stering lyf , oon in vertue, and another in the bodily workinge; and whan the soule is the maister over the body, than is a man maister of him-selfe. And a man, to be a maister over him-selfe, liveth in vertu and in goodnesse, and as reson of vertue techeth. So the soule and the5 body, worching vertue togider, liven resonable lyf , whiche clerkes clepen “felicitè in living ”; and therein is the hye way to this knot. These olde philosophers, that hadden no knowing of divine grace, of kyndly reson alone, wenden that of pure nature, withouten any 10 helpe of grace, me might have y-shoned th’other livinges .[ ] Resonably have I lived; and for I thinke herafter, if god wol, and I have space, thilke grace after my leude knowing declare, I leve it as at this tyme. But, as I said, he that out-forth loketh after the wayes of this knot, [his ] conning with whiche he shulde15 knowe the way in-forth, slepeth for the tyme. Wherfore he that wol this way knowe, must leve the loking after false wayes outforth, and open the eyen of his conscience, and unclose his herte. Seest nat, he that hath trust in the bodily lyfe is so besy bodily woundes to anointe , in keping from smert (for al-out may they nat20 be heled ), that of woundes in his true understanding he taketh no hede; the knowing evenforth slepeth so harde: but anon, as in knowing awake, than ginneth the prevy medicynes, for heling of his trewe intent, inwardes lightly †helen conscience, if it be wel handled. Than must nedes these wayes come out of the soule25 by stering lyfe of the body; and els may no man come to parfit blisse of this knotte. And thus, by this waye, he shal come to the knotte, and to the parfit selinesse that he wende have had in bodily goodes outforth.’
‘Ye,’ quod I, ‘shal he have both knot, riches, power, dignitè,30 and renomè in this maner way ?’
‘Ye,’ quod she, ‘that shal I shewe thee . Is he nat riche that hath suffisaunce, and hath the power that no man may amaistrien? Is nat greet dignitè to have worship and reverence? And hath he nat glorie of renomè, whos name perpetual is during, and out35 of nombre in comparacion ?’
‘These be thinges that men wenen to getten outforth,’ quod I.
‘Ye,’ quod she; ‘they that loken after a thing that nought is therof, in al ne in partie, longe mowe they gapen after!’
‘That is sothe,’ quod I.
40[ ] ‘Therefore,’ quod she, ‘they that sechen gold in grene trees, and wene to gader precious stones among vynes, and layn her nettes in mountains to fisshe, and thinken to hunte in depe sees after hart and hynd , and sechen in erth thilke thinges that surmounteth heven, what may I of hem say, but folisshe ignoraunce misledeth45 wandring wrecches by uncouth wayes that shulden be forleten, and maketh hem blynde fro the right pathe of trewe way that shulde ben used? Therfore, in general, errour in mankynde departeth thilke goodes by mis-seching , whiche he shulde have hole, and he sought by reson . Thus goth he begyled of that he sought; in his hode men have blowe a jape.’50
‘That shal I proven,’ quod she. ‘What power hath any man to lette another of living in vertue? For prisonment, or any other disese, [if ] he take it paciently, discomfiteth he nat; the55[ ] tyrant over his soule no power may have. Than hath that man, so tourmented, suche power, that he nil be discomfit; ne overcome may he nat ben, sithen pacience in his soule overcometh, and †is nat overcomen. Suche thing that may nat be a-maistred, he hath nede to nothing; for he hath suffisaunce y-now , to helpe60 him-selfe. And thilke thing that thus hath power and suffisance, and no tyrant may it reve, and hath dignitè to sette at nought al thinges, here it is a greet dignitè, that deth may a-maistry. Wherfore thilke power [with ] suffisaunce, so enclosed with dignitè, by al reson renomè must have. This is thilke riches with suffisaunce65 ye sholde loke after; this is thilke worshipful dignitè ye shulde coveyte ; this is thilke power of might, in whiche ye shulde truste; this is the ilke renomè of glorie that endlesse endureth; and al nis but substaunce in vertuous lyving .’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘al this is sothe; and so I see wel that vertue70 with ful gripe encloseth al these thinges. Wherfore in sothe I may saye, by my trouth, vertue of my Margarite brought me first in-to your service, to have knitting with that jewel, nat sodain longinges ne folkes smale wordes, but only our conversacion togider; and than I, seinge th’entent of her trewe mening with75 florisshing vertue of pacience, that she used nothing in yvel, to quyte the wicked lesinges that false tonges ofte in her have laid , I have seye it my-selfe, goodly foryevenesse hath spronge out of her herte . Unitè and accord , above al other thinges, she desyreth in a good meke maner; and suffereth many wicked80 tales.
‘Ye,’ quod she, ‘I have thee excused; al suche thinges as yet85 mowe nat be redressed; thy Margarites vertue I commende wel the more, that paciently suche anoyes suffreth. David king was meke, and suffred mokel hate and many yvel speches; no despyt ne shame that his enemys him deden might nat move pacience out of his herte, but ever in one plyte mercy he used. Wherfore90 god him-selfe took reward to the thinges; and theron suche punisshment let falle . Trewly, by reson , it ought be ensample of drede to al maner peoples mirth. A man vengeable in wrath no governance in punisshment ought to have. Plato had a cause his servant to †scourge , and yet cleped he his neibour to performe the95 doinge; him-selfe wolde nat, lest wrath had him a-maistred; and so might he have layd on to moche: evermore grounded vertue sheweth th’ entent fro within. And trewly, I wot wel, for her goodnesse and vertue, thou hast desyred my service to her plesance wel the more; and thy-selfe therto fully hast profered.’
100‘Good lady,’ quod I, ‘is vertue the hye way to this knot that long we have y-handled?’
‘Ye, forsoth,’ quod she, ‘and without vertue, goodly this knot may nat be goten.’
‘Ah! now I see ,’ quod I, ‘how vertu in me fayleth; and I, as105 a seer tree , without burjoning or frute, alwaye welke; and so I stonde in dispeyre of this noble knot; for vertue in me hath no maner workinge. A! wyde-where aboute have I traveyled!’
‘Pees ,’ quod she, ‘of thy first way; thy traveyle is in ydel;110 and, as touchinge the seconde way, I see wel thy meninge . Thou woldest conclude me, if thou coudest, bycause I brought thee to service; and every of my servantes I helpe to come to this blisse, as I sayd here-beforn . And thou saydest thy-selfe, thou mightest nat be holpen as thou wenest , bycause that vertue in115thee fayleth; and this blisse parfitly without vertue may nat be goten; thou wenest of these wordes contradiccion to folowe. Pardè, at the hardest, I have no servant but he be vertuous in dede and thought. I brought thee in my service, yet art thou nat my servant; but I say, thou might so werche in vertue herafter,120 that than shalt thou be my servant, and as for my servant [ ] acompted. For habit maketh no monk ; ne weringe of gilte spurres maketh no knight. Never-the-later, in confort of thyne herte, yet wol I otherwyse answere.’
‘Certes, lady,’ quod I tho, ‘so ye muste nedes; or els I had nigh caught suche a †cardiacle for sorowe, I wot it wel, I shulde125 it never have recovered. And therfore now I praye [thee ] to enforme me in this; or els I holde me without recovery . I may nat long endure til this lesson be lerned, and of this mischeef the remedy knowen.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘be nat wroth ; for there is no man on-lyve130 that may come to a precious thing longe coveited, but he somtyme suffre teneful diseses : and wenest thy-selfe to ben unliche to al other? That may nat ben. And with the more sorowe that a thing is getten, the more he hath joye the like thing afterwardes to kepe; as it fareth by children in scole , that for lerninge arn135beten , whan their lesson they foryetten. Commenly, after a good disciplyning with a yerde, they kepe right wel doctrine of their scole .’
RIGHT with these wordes, on this lady I threw up myne eyen, to see her countenaunce and her chere; and she, aperceyving this fantasye in myne herte, gan her semblaunt goodly on me caste, and sayde in this wyse.
‘It is wel knowe, bothe to reson and experience in doinge,5 every active worcheth on his passive; and whan they ben togider, “active” and “passive” ben y-cleped by these philosophers. If fyr be in place chafinge thing able to be chafed or hete[d] , and thilke thinges ben set in suche a distaunce that the oon may werche, the other shal suffre. Thilke Margarite thou desyrest is10 ful of vertue, and able to be active in goodnesse: but every herbe sheweth his vertue outforth from within. The sonne yeveth light, that thinges may be seye . Every fyr heteth thilke thing that it[ ] †neigheth , and it be able to be hete[d] . Vertue of this Margarite 15 outforth †wercheth ; and nothing is more able to suffre worching, or worke cacche of the actife, but passife of the same actife; and no passife, to vertues of this Margaryte, but thee , in al my Donet can I fynde! So that her vertue muste nedes on thee werche; in what place ever thou be, within distaunce of her worthinesse,20 as her very passife thou art closed. But vertue may thee nothing profyte, but thy desyr be perfourmed, and al thy sorowes cesed . Ergo, through werchinge of her vertue thou shalt esely ben holpen, and driven out of al care, and welcome to this longe by thee desyred!’
25‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘this is a good lesson in ginning of my joye; but wete ye wel forsothe, though I suppose she have moche vertue, I wolde my spousaile were proved, and than may I live out of doute, and rejoice me greetly , in thinking of tho vertues so shewed.’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod I; ‘so I sayd; and so it is.’
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘every-thing kyndly sheweth it-selfe; this35 jewel, closed in a blewe shel, [by ] excellence of coloures sheweth vertue from within; and so every wight shulde rather loke to the propre vertue of thinges than to his forayne goodes. If a thing be engendred of good mater, comenly and for the more part , it foloweth, after the congelement, vertue of the first mater (and40 it be not corrupt with vyces) to procede with encrees of good vertues; eke right so it fareth of badde. Trewly, greet excellence in vertue of linage, for the more part , discendeth by kynde to the succession in vertues to folowe. Wherfore I saye, the †colour of every Margarit sheweth from within the fynesse in vertue.45[ ] Kyndely heven, whan mery †weder is a-lofte, apereth in mannes eye of coloure in blewe, stedfastnesse in pees betokening within and without. Margaryte is engendred by hevenly dewe, and sheweth in it-selfe, by fynenesse of colour , whether the engendrure were maked on morowe or on eve; thus sayth kynde of this50 perle. This precious Margaryte that thou servest, sheweth it-selfe discended, by nobley of vertue, from this hevenlich dewe, norisshed and congeled in mekenesse , that †moder is of al vertues; and, by werkes that men seen withouten, the significacion of the coloures ben shewed, mercy and pitee in the herte, with pees to al other; and al this is y-closed in a muskle, who-so redily these vertues loken.55 Al thing that hath soule is reduced in-to good by mene thinges, as thus: In-to god man is reduced by soules resonable; and so forthbeestes , or bodyes that mowe not moven, after place ben reduced in-to manne by beestes †mene that moven from place to place. So that thilke bodyes that han felinge soules, and move60 not from places, holden the lowest degree of soulinge thinges in felinge; and suche ben reduced in-to man by menes . So it foloweth, the muskle, as †moder of al vertues, halt the place of mekenesse, to his lowest degree discendeth downe of heven, and there, by a maner of virgine engendrure, arn these Margarytes65 engendred, and afterward congeled. Made not mekenesse so lowe the hye heven, to enclose and cacche out therof so noble a dewe, that after congelement, a Margaryte , with endelesse vertue and everlasting joy, was with ful vessel of grace yeven to every creature, that goodly wolde it receyve?’70
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘these thinges ben right noble; I have er this herd these same sawes.’
‘Than,’ quod she, ‘thou wost wel these thinges ben sothe?’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod I, ‘at the ful.’
[ ] ‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘yet wolde I have better declared, vertues in this Margarite kyndely to ben grounded.’
‘That shal I shew thee ,’ quod she, ‘and thou woldest it lerne.’80
‘Lerne?’ quod I, ‘what nedeth suche wordes? Wete ye nat wel, lady, your-selfe, that al my cure, al my diligence, and al my might, have turned by your counsayle, in plesaunce of that perle? Al my thought and al my studye, with your helpe, desyreth, in worshippe [of ] thilke jewel, to encrese al my travayle and al my85 besinesse in your service, this Margaryte to gladde in some halve. Me were lever her honour, her plesaunce, and her good chere thorow me for to be mayntayned and kept , and I of suche thinge in her lykinge to be cause, than al the welthe of bodily goodes ye90 coude recken. And wolde never god but I putte my-selfe in greet jeopardy of al that I †welde , (that is now no more but my luf alone), rather than I shulde suffre thilke jewel in any pointe ben blemisshed; as ferre as I may suffre, and with my mightes strecche .’
‘O! good †god ,’ quod I, ‘why tempte ye me and tene with suche maner speche? I wolde graunt that, though I shulde anon100 dye; and, by my trouthe, fighte in the quarel, if any wight wolde countreplede.’
‘It is so moche the lighter,’ quod Love, ‘to prove our entent.’
‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘but yet wolde I here how ye wolde prove that she were good by resonable skil, that it mowe not ben denyed.105 For although I knowe, and so doth many other, manifold goodnesse and vertue in this Margaryte ben printed, yet some men there ben that no goodnesse speken; and, wher-ever your wordes ben herd and your resons ben shewed, suche yvel spekers , lady, by auctoritè of your excellence, shullen be stopped and ashamed!110 And more, they that han non aquayntaunce in her persone, yet mowe they knowe her vertues, and ben the more enfourmed in what wyse they mowe sette their hertes, whan hem liste in-to your service any entree make. For trewly al this to beginne, I wot[ ] wel my-selfe that thilke jewel is so precious perle, as a womanly115 woman in her kynde; in whom of goodnesse, of vertue, and also of answeringe shappe of limmes, and fetures so wel in al pointes acording, nothing fayleth. I leve that kynde her made with greet studye; for kynde in her person nothing hath foryet [en], and that is wel sene. In every good wightes herte she hath grace of120 commending and of vertuous praysing. Alas! that ever kynde made her deedly ! Save only in that, I wot wel, that Nature, in fourminge of her, in no-thinge hath erred.’
‘I not,’ quod I.
‘Than is wonder,’ quod I, ‘how yvel thinges comen a-place, sithen that al thinges weren right good.’
‘Thus,’ quod she, ‘I wol declare. Everiche qualitè and every accion , and every thing that hath any maner of beinge, it is of god; and god it made, of whom is al goodnesse and al being.10[ ] Of him is no badnesse. Badde to be, is naught; good to be, is somwhat; and therfore good and being is oon in understanding.’
‘How may this be?’ quod I. ‘For often han shrewes me assailed, and mokel badnesse therin have I founden; and so me15 semeth bad to be somwhat in kynde.’
‘Thou shalt,’ quod she, ‘understande that suche maner badnesse, whiche is used to purifye wrong-doers , is somwhat; and god it made, and being [it ] hath; and that is good. Other badnesse no being hath utterly; it is in the negative of somwhat, and that is20 naught and nothing being. The parties essential of being arn sayd in double wyse, as that it is; and these parties ben founde in every creature. For al thing, a this halfe the first being, is being through participacion, taking partie of being; so that [in ] every creature is difference bitwene being of him through whom25 it is, and his own being. Right as every good is a maner of being, so is it good thorow being; for it is naught other to be. And every thing, though it be good, is not of him-selfe good; but it is good by that it is ordinable to the greet goodnesse. This dualitè, after clerkes †determinison , is founden in every30 creature, be it never so single of onhed.’
‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘but there-as it is y-sayd that god †saw everything of his making, and [they ] were right good (as your-selfe sayd to me not longe tyme sithen), I aske whether every creature 35[ ] is y-sayd “good” through goodnesse unfourmed eyther els fourmed; and afterward , if it be accept utterly good?’
‘I shal say thee ,’ quod she. ‘These grete passed clerkes han devyded good in-to good being alone, and that is nothing but †god , for nothing is good in that wyse but god: also, in good by40participacion , and that is y-cleped “good” for far fet and representative of †godly goodnesse. And after this maner manyfold good is sayd, that is to saye, good in kynde, and good in gendre, and good of grace, and good of joy. Of good in kynde Austensayth , “al that ben, ben good.” But peraunter thou woldest45 wete, whether of hem-selfe it be good, or els of anothers goodnesse: for naturel goodnesse of every substaunce is nothing els than his substancial being, which is y-cleped “goodnesse” after comparison that he hath to his first goodnesse, so as it is inductatife by menes in-to the first goodnesse. Boece sheweth this thing at the ful, that50 this name “good” is, in general, name in kynde, as it is comparisoned generally to his principal ende, which is god, knotte of al goodnesse. Every creature cryeth “god us made”; and so they han ful apeted to thilke god by affeccion such as to hem longeth; and in this wyse al thinges ben good of the gret god,55 which is good alone.’
‘This wonder thing,’ quod I, ‘how ye have by many resons proved my first way to be errour and misgoing, and cause[d] of badnesse and feble meninge in the grounde ye aleged to be roted. Whence is it that suche badnesse hath springes, sithen al thinges60 thus in general ben good, and badnesse hath no being, as ye have declared? I wene, if al things ben good, I might than with the first way in that good have ended, and so by goodnesse have comen to blisse in your service desyred.’
‘Al thing,’ quod she, ‘is good by being in participacion out of65 the firste goodnesse, whiche goodnesse is corrupt by badnesse and badde-mening maners. God hath [ordeyned ] in good thinges, that they ben good by being, and not in yvel; for there is absence of rightful love. For badnesse is nothing but only yvel wil of the user, and through giltes of the doer; wherfore, at the ginninge of70 the worlde, every thing by him-selfe was good; and in universal they weren right good. An eye or a hand is fayrer and betterer in a body set , in his kyndely place , than from the body dissevered . Every thing in his kyndly place, being kyndly, good doth werche; and, out of that place voyded, it dissolveth and is defouled himselve. Our noble god, in gliterande wyse, by armony this world75 ordeyned, as in purtreytures storied with colours medled, in whiche blacke and other derke colours commenden the golden and the asured paynture; every put in kyndely place, oon , besyde another, more for other glitereth. Right so litel fayr maketh right fayr more glorious; and right so, of goodnesse, and of other80 thinges in vertue. Wherfore other badde and not so good perles as this Margaryte that we han of this matier, yeven by the ayre litel goodnesse and litel vertue, [maken ] right mokel goodnesse and vertue in thy Margaryte to ben proved, in shyning wyse to be founde and shewed. How shulde ever goodnesse of pees have85 ben knowe, but-if unpees somtyme reigne, and mokel yvel †wrathe ? How shulde mercy ben proved, and no trespas were, by due justificacion, to be punisshed? Therfore grace and goodnesse of a wight is founde; the sorouful hertes in good meninge to endure, ben comforted; unitè and acord bitwene hertes knit in joye to90 abyde. What? wenest thou I rejoyce or els accompte him among my servauntes that plesethPallas in undoinge of Mercurye, al-be-it that to Pallas he be knit by tytle of lawe, not according to resonable conscience, and Mercurie in doinge have grace to ben suffered; or els him that †weyveth the moone for fayrenesse of95 the eve-sterre? Lo! otherwhyle by nightes, light of the moone greetly comforteth in derke thoughtes and blynde. Understanding of love yeveth greet gladnesse. Who-so list not byleve, whan a sothe tale is shewed, a deweand a deblys his name is entred. Wyse folk and worthy in gentillesse, bothe of vertue and of100 livinge, yeven ful credence in sothnesse of love with a good herte , there-as good evidence or experience in doinge sheweth not the contrarie. Thus mightest thou have ful preef in thy Margarytes goodnesse, by commendement of other jewels badnesse and yvelnesse in doing. Stoundemele diseses yeveth several houres105 in joye.’
‘Now , by my trouthe,’ quod I, ‘this is wel declared, that my Margaryte is good; for sithen other ben good, and she passeth manye other in goodnesse and vertue; wherthrough , by maner110 necessarie, she muste be good. And goodnesse of this Margaryte is nothing els but vertue; wherfore she is vertuous; and if there fayled any vertue in any syde, there were lacke of vertue. Badde nothing els is, ne may be, but lacke and want of good and goodnesse; and so shulde she have that same lacke, that is to saye,115[ ] badde; and that may not be. For she is good; and that is good, me thinketh, al good; and so, by consequence, me semeth, vertuous, and no lacke of vertue to have. But the sonne is not knowe but he shyne; ne vertuous herbes, but they have her kynde werchinge; ne vertue, but it strecche in goodnesse or profyt to another, is no120 vertue. Than, by al wayes of reson , sithen mercy and pitee ben moste commended among other vertues, and they might never ben shewed, [unto ] refresshement of helpe and of comfort , but now at my moste nede; and that is the kynde werkinge of these vertues; trewly, I wene, I shal not varye from these helpes. Fyr ,125 and-if he yeve non hete , for fyre is not demed. The sonne, but he shyne, for sonne is not accompted. Water, but it wete, the name shal ben chaunged. Vertue, but it werche, of goodnesse doth it fayle; and in-to his contrarie the name shal ben reversed. And these ben impossible; wherfore the contradictorie, that is130 necessarye, nedes muste I leve .’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘in thy person and out of thy mouthe these wordes lyen wel to ben said, and in thyne understanding to be leved, as in entent of this Margaryte alone. And here now my speche in conclusion of these wordes.
CHAPTER XIV.[ ]
IN these thinges,’ quod she, ‘that me list now to shewe openly, shal be founde the mater of thy sicknesse, and what shal ben the medicyn that may be thy sorowes lisse and comfort, as wel thee as al other that amisse have erred and out of5 the way walked, so that any drope of good wil in amendement [may] ben dwelled in their hertes. Proverbes of Salomon openly techeth, how somtyme an innocent walkid by the way in blyndnesse of a derke night; whom mette a woman (if it be leefly to saye) as a strumpet arayed, redily purveyed in turninge of thoughtes with veyne janglinges, and of rest inpacient, by dissimulcion10 of my termes, saying in this wyse: “Com , and be we dronken of our swete pappes; use we coveitous collinges.” And thus drawen was this innocent, as an oxe to the larder.’
‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘to me this is a queynte thing to understande; I praye you, of this parable declare me the entent.’15
‘This innocent,’ quod she, ‘is a scoler lerninge of my lore, in seching of my blisse, in whiche thinge the day of his thought turning enclyneth in-to eve; and the sonne, of very light faylinge, maketh derke night in his conninge. Thus in derknesse of many doutes he walketh, and for blyndenesse of understandinge, he ne20wot in what waye he is in; forsothe, suche oon may lightly ben begyled. To whom cam love fayned, not clothed of my livery, but [of] unlefful lusty habit , with softe speche and mery; and with fayre honyed wordes heretykes and mis-meninge people skleren and wimplen their errours. Austen witnesseth of an25heretyk , that in his first beginninge he was a man right expert in resons and swete in his wordes; and the werkes miscorden. Thus fareth fayned love in her firste werchinges. Thou knowest these thinges for trewe; thou hast hem proved by experience somtyme, in doing to thyne owne person; in whiche thing thou hast30 founde mater of mokel disese. Was not fayned love redily purveyed, thy wittes to cacche and tourne thy good thoughtes? Trewly, she hath wounded the conscience of many with florisshinge of mokel jangling wordes; and good worthe thanked I it for no glose. I am glad of my prudence thou hast so manly her35[ ] †weyved . To me art thou moche holden, that in thy kynde course of good mening I returne thy mynde. I trowe, ne had I shewedthee thy Margaryte, thou haddest never returned. Of first in good parfit joye was ever fayned love impacient, as the water of Siloë , whiche evermore floweth with stilnesse and privy40 noyse til it come nighe the brinke, and than ginneth it so out of mesure to bolne, with novelleries of chaunging stormes, that in course of every renning it is in pointe to spille al his circuit of †bankes . Thus fayned love prively, at the fullest of his flowinge, 45 [ginneth ] newe stormes [of] debat to arayse. And al-be-it that Mercurius [servants ] often with hole understandinge knowen suche perillous maters, yet Veneriens so lusty ben and so leude in their wittes, that in suche thinges right litel or naught don they fele; and wryten and cryen to their felawes: “here is blisse,50 here is joye”; and thus in-to one same errour mokel folk they drawen. “Come,” they sayen , “and be we dronken of our pappes”; that ben fallas and lying glose, of whiche mowe they not souke milke of helthe, but deedly venim and poyson, corrupcion of sorowe. Milke of fallas is venim of disceyt ; milke of lying glose55 is venim of corrupcion. Lo! what thing cometh out of these pappes! “Use we coveited collinges”; desyre we and meddle we false wordes with sote, and sote with false! Trewly, this is the sorinesse of fayned love; nedes, of these surfettes sicknesse muste folowe. Thus, as an oxe, to thy langoring deth were thou drawen;60 the sote of the smoke hath thee al defased. Ever the deper thou somtyme wadest, the soner thou it founde ; if it had thee killed, it had be litel wonder. But on that other syde, my trewe servaunt[s] not faynen ne disceyve conne; sothly, their doinge is open; my foundement endureth, be the burthen never so65greet ; ever in one it lasteth. It yeveth lyf and blisful goodnesse in the laste endes, though the ginninges ben sharpe. Thus of two contraries, contrarye ben the effectes. And so thilke Margaryte thou servest shal seen thee , by her service out of[ ] perillous tribulacion delivered, bycause of her service in-to newe70disese fallen, by hope of amendement in the laste ende, with joye to be gladded. Wherfore, of kynde pure, her mercy with grace of good helpe shal she graunte ; and els I shal her so strayne, that with pitè shal she ben amaystred. Remembre in thyne[ ] herte how horribly somtyme to thyne Margaryte thou trespasest,75 and in a grete wyse ayenst her thou forfeytest! Clepe ayen thy mynde, and know thyne owne giltes. What goodnesse, what bountee , with mokel folowing pitè founde thou in that tyme? Were thou not goodly accepted in-to grace? By my pluckinge was she to foryevenesse enclyned. And after, I her styred to80[ ] drawe thee to house; and yet wendest thou utterly for ever have ben refused. But wel thou wost, sithen that I in suche sharpe disese might so greetly avayle, what thinkest in thy wit? How fer may my wit strecche ? And thou lache not on thy syde, I wol make the knotte. Certes, in thy good bering I wol acorde[ ] with the psauter: “I have founde David in my service true, and85 with holy oyle of pees and of rest, longe by him desyred, utterly he shal be anoynted.” Truste wel to me, and I wol thee not fayle. The †leving of the first way with good herte of continuance that I see in thee grounded, this purpose to parfourme, draweth me by maner of constrayning, that nedes muste I ben thyne helper.90 Although mirthe a whyle be taried, it shal come at suche seson, that thy thought shal ben joyed. And wolde never god, sithen thyne herte to my resons arn assented, and openlyhast confessed thyne amisse-going, and now cryest after mercy, but-if mercy folowed; thy blisse shal ben redy, y-wis; thou ne wost how sone.95 Now be a good child , I rede. The kynde of vertues, in thy Margaryte rehersed, by strength of me in thy person shul werche. Comfort thee in this; for thou mayst not miscary.’ And these wordes sayd , she streyght her on length, and rested a whyle.
¶ Thus endeth the seconde book, and here after foloweth the thirde book.
Colophon. booke. boke.
Book. III: Ch. I.
OF nombre, sayn these clerkes, that it is naturel somme of discrete thinges, as in tellinge oon , two, three , and so forth; but among al nombres,[ ]three is determined for moste certayn . Wherfore in nombre certayn this werk of my besy leudenesse I thinke to ende and parfourme. Ensample by this worlde, in5[ ]three tymes is devyded; of whiche the first is cleped †Deviacion , that is to say, going out of trewe way; and al that tho dyeden, in helle were they punisshed for a man[ne]s sinne, til grace and mercy fette hem thence, and there ended the firste tyme. The seconde tyme lasteth from the comming of merciable grace until the ende10 of transitorie tyme, in whiche is shewed the true way in fordoinge of the badde; and that is y-cleped tyme of Grace. And that thing is not yeven by desert of yeldinge oon benefyt for another, but only through goodnesse of the yever of grace in thilke tyme.15 Who-so can wel understande is shapen to be saved in souled blisse. The thirde tyme shal ginne whan transitorie thinges of worldes han mad their ende; and that shal ben in Joye, glorie, and rest, both body and soule, that wel han deserved in the tyme of Grace. And thus in that heven †togider shul they dwelle perpetuelly,20 without any imaginatyfe yvel in any halve. These tymes are figured by tho three dayes that our god was closed in erthe; and in the thirde aroos , shewing our resurreccion to joye and blisse of tho that it deserven, by his merciable grace. So this leude book , in three maters, accordaunt to tho tymes,25[ ] lightly by a good inseër may ben understonde; as in the firste, Errour of misse-goinge is shewed, with sorowful pyne punisshed, †that cryed after mercy. In the seconde, is Grace in good waye proved, whiche is faylinge without desert , thilke first misse amendinge, in correccion of tho erroures, and even way to bringe,30 with comfort of welfare in-to amendement wexinge. And in the thirde, Joye and blisse graunted to him that wel can deserve it, and hath savour of understandinge in the tyme of grace. Thus in Joye, of my thirde boke, shal the mater be til it ende.
But special cause I have in my herte to make this proces35 of a Margarit-perle , that is so precious a gemme †whyt , clere and litel, of whiche stones or jewel[les] the tonges of us Englissh people tourneth the right names, and clepeth hem ‘Margery-perles ’; thus varieth our speche from many other langages. For trewly Latin, Frenche, and many mo other langages clepeth hem,40 Margery-perles, [by ] the name ‘Margarites,’ or ‘Margarite-perles’; wherfore in that denominacion I wol me acorde to other mens tonges, in that name-cleping. These clerkes that treten of kyndes, and studien out the propertee there of thinges, sayn : the Margarite is a litel whyt perle, throughout holowe and rounde and45 vertuous; and on the see-sydes, in the more Britayne , in muskle-shelles, of the hevenly dewe, the best ben engendred; in whiche by experience ben founde three fayre vertues. Oon is, it yeveth comfort to the feling spirites in bodily persones of reson . Another is good; it is profitable helthe ayenst passions of sorie mens hertes. And the thirde, it is nedeful and noble in staunching of bloode,50 there els to moche wolde out renne . To whiche perle and vertues me list to lyken at this tyme Philosophie, with her three speces, that is, natural, and moral, and resonable; of whiche thinges hereth what sayn these grete clerkes. Philosophie is knowing of devynly and manly thinges joyned with studie of good living;55 and this stant in two thinges, that is, conninge and opinion. Conninge is whan a thing by certayn reson is conceyved. But wrecches and fooles and leude men, many wil conceyve a thing and mayntayne it as for sothe, though reson be in the contrarye; wherfore conninge is a straunger. Opinion is whyl a thing is in60non-certayn , and hid from mens very knowleging and by no parfit reson[ ] fully declared, as thus: if the sonne be so mokel as men wenen, or els if it be more than the erthe. For in sothnesse the certayn quantitè of that planet is unknowen to erthly dwellers; and yet by opinion of some men it is holden for more than midle-erth.65
The first spece of philosophie is naturel; whiche in kyndely thinges †treteth , and sheweth causes of heven, and strength of[ ] kyndely course; as by arsmetrike, geometry, musike, and by astronomye techeth wayes and cours of hevens, of planetes, and of sterres aboute heven and erthe, and other elementes.70
The seconde spece is moral, whiche, in order, of living maners techeth; and by reson proveth vertues of soule moste worthy in[ ] our living ; whiche ben prudence, justice, temperaunce, and strength. Prudence is goodly wisdom in knowing of thinges. Strength voideth al adversitees aliche even. Temperaunce distroyeth75 beestial living with esy bering . And Justice rightfully jugeth; and juging departeth to every wight that is his owne.
The thirde spece turneth in-to reson of understanding; al[ ] thinges to be sayd soth and discussed; and that in two thinges is devyded. Oon is art , another is rethorike; in whiche two al80 lawes of mans reson ben grounded or els maintayned.
And for this book is of Love, and therafter bereth his name, and philosophie and lawe muste here-to acorden by their clergial discripcions, as: philosophie for love of wisdom is declared, lawe for mainteynaunce of pees is holden: and these with love must85 nedes acorden; therfore of hem in this place have I touched. Ordre of homly thinges and honest maner of livinge in vertue, with rightful jugement in causes and profitable administracion in comminaltees of realmes and citees , by evenhed profitably to90 raigne, nat by singuler avauntage ne by privè envy, ne by soleyn purpos in covetise of worship or of goodes, ben disposed in open rule shewed, by love, philosophy, and lawe, and yet love, toforn al other. Wherfore as sustern in unitè they accorden, and oon ende, that is, pees and rest, they causen norisshinge; and in the95 joye maynteynen to endure.
Now than, as I have declared: my book acordeth with discripcion of three thinges; and the Margarit in vertue is lykened to Philosophy, with her three speces. In whiche maters ever twey ben acordaunt with bodily reson , and the thirde with the100 soule. But in conclusion of my boke and of this Margarite-perle in knittinge togider, Lawe by three sondrye maners shal be lykened; that is to saye, lawe, right, and custome, whiche I wol declare. Al that is lawe cometh of goddes ordinaunce, by kyndly worching; and thilke thinges ordayned by mannes wittes arn y-cleped right,105 which is ordayned by many maners and in constitucion written. But custome is a thing that is accepted for right or for lawe, there-as lawe and right faylen; and there is no difference, whether it come of scripture or of reson. Wherfore it sheweth, that lawe is kyndly governaunce; right cometh out of mannes probable110reson ; and custome is of commen usage by length of tyme used; and custome nat writte is usage; and if it be writte, constitucion it is y-written and y-cleped. But lawe of kynde is commen to every nation, as conjunccion of man and woman in love, succession of children in heritance, restitucion of thing115 by strength taken or lent; and this lawe among al other halt the soveraynest gree in worship; whiche lawe began at the beginning of resonable creature; it varied yet never for no chaunging of tyme. Cause, forsothe, in ordayning of lawe was to constrayne mens hardinesse in-to pees , and withdrawing his yvel120 wil, and turning malice in-to goodnesse; and that innocence sikerly, withouten teneful anoye, among shrewes safely might[ ] inhabite by proteccion of safe-conducte, so that the shrewes, harm for harme, by brydle of ferdnesse shulden restrayne. But forsothe, in kyndely lawe, nothing is commended but such as goddes[ ] wil hath confirmed, ne nothing denyed but contrarioustee of125 goddes wil in heven. Eke than al lawes, or custome, or els constitucion by usage or wryting, that contraryen lawe of kynde, utterly ben repugnaunt and adversarie to our goddes wil of heven. Trewly, lawe of kynde for goddes own lusty wil is verily to mayntayne; under whiche lawe (and unworthy ) bothe professe130 and reguler arnobediencer and bounden to this Margarite-perle as by knotte of loves statutes and stablisshment in kynde, whiche that goodly may not be withsetten. Lo! under this bonde am[ ] I constrayned to abyde; and man, under living lawe ruled, by that lawe oweth, after desertes, to ben rewarded by payne or by mede,135 but-if mercy weyve the payne. So than †by part resonfully may be seye , that mercy bothe right and lawe passeth. Th’ entent of al these maters is the lest clere understanding, to weten, at th’ende of this thirde boke; ful knowing, thorow goddes grace, I thinke to make neverthelater. Yet if these thinges han a good140 and a †sleigh inseër, whiche that can souke hony of the harde stone, oyle of the drye rocke, [he ] may lightly fele nobley of mater in my leude imaginacion closed. But for my book shal be of joye (as I sayd), and I [am ] so fer set fro thilke place fro whens gladnesse shulde come; my corde is to short to lete my boket145 ought cacche of that water; and fewe men be abouten my corde to eche, and many in ful purpos ben redy it shorter to make, and to enclose th’ entrè , that my boket of joye nothing shulde cacche , but empty returne, my careful sorowes to encrese: (and if I dye for payne, that were gladnesse at their hertes): good lord, send150 me water in-to the cop of these mountayns, and I shal drinke therof, my thurstes to stanche , and sey, these be comfortable welles; in-to helth of goodnesse of my saviour am I holpen. And yet I saye more, the house of joye to me is nat opened. How dare my sorouful goost than in any mater of gladnesse thinken to155 trete? For ever sobbinges and complayntes be redy refrete in his meditacions , as werbles in manifolde stoundes comming about I not than . And therfore, what maner of joye coude [I ] endyte? But yet at dore shal I knocke, if the key of David wolde the locke 160unshitte , and hebringe me in, whiche that childrens tonges both[ ] openeth and closeth; whos spirit where he †wol wercheth, departing goodly as him lyketh.
Now to goddes laude and reverence, profit of the reders, amendement of maners of the herers, encresing of worship among165 Loves servauntes, releving of my herte in-to grace of my jewel, and fren[d]ship [in] plesance of this perle , I am stered in this making, and for nothing els; and if any good thing to mennes lyking in this scripture be founde, thanketh the maister of grace, whiche that of that good and al other is authour and principal170[ ] doer. And if any thing be insufficient or els mislyking, †wyte that the leudnesse of myne unable conning: for body in disese anoyeth the understanding in soule. A disesely habitacion letteth the wittes [in ] many thinges, and namely in sorowe. The custome never-the-later of Love, †by long tyme of service, in175 termes I thinke to pursue, whiche ben lyvely to yeve understanding in other thinges. But now , to enforme thee of this Margarites goodnesse, I may her not halfe preyse. Wherfore, nat she for my boke , but this book for her, is worthy to be commended, tho my book be leude; right as thinges nat for places, but places180 for thinges, ought to be desyred and praysed.
CHAPTER II.[ ]
‘NOW ,’ quod Love, ‘trewly thy wordes I have wel understonde. Certes, me thinketh hem right good; and me wondreth why thou so lightly passest in the lawe.’
‘Ye ,’ quod she, ‘I shal helpe thee to swimme . For right as lawe punissheth brekers of preceptes and the contrary-doers of the written constitucions , right so ayenward lawe rewardeth and10 yeveth mede to hem that lawe strengthen. By one lawe this rebel is punisshed and this innocent is meded; the shrewe is enprisoned and this rightful is corowned. The same lawe that joyneth by wedlocke without forsaking, the same lawe yeveth lybel of departicion bycause of devorse both demed and declared.’15
‘Fole,’ quod she, ‘gilty , converted in your lawe, mikel merit[ ] deserveth. Also Pauly[n] of Rome was crowned, that by him the maynteyners of Pompeus weren knowen and distroyed; and yet20[ ]toforn was this Paulyn cheef of Pompeus counsaile. This lawe in Rome hath yet his name of mesuring, in mede, the bewraying of the conspiracy, ordayned by tho senatours the deth. Julius Cesar is acompted in-to Catons rightwisnesse; for ever in trouth florissheth his name among the knowers of reson . Perdicas was25 crowned in the heritage of Alexander the grete , for tellinge of a prevy hate that king Porrus to Alexander hadde. Wherfore every wight, by reson of lawe, after his rightwysenesse apertely his mede may chalenge; and so thou, that maynteynest lawe of kynde, and therfore disese hast suffred in the lawe, reward is30 worthy to be rewarded and ordayned, and †apertly thy mede might thou chalenge.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘this have I wel lerned; and ever hensforward I shal drawe me therafter, in oonhed of wil to abyde, this lawe bothe maynteyne and kepe; and so hope I best entre in-to35 your grace, wel deservinge in-to worship of a wight, without nedeful compulsion, [that ] ought medefully to be rewarded.’
‘Truly,’ quod Love, ‘that is sothe; and tho[ugh], by constitucion , good service in-to profit and avantage strecche , utterly many men it demen to have more desert of mede than good wil40 nat compelled.’
‘How shulde I this performe!’ quod I.
‘Right wel,’ quod she; ‘and here me now a litel. It is hardely (quod she) to understande, that right as mater by due overchaunginges foloweth his perfeccion and his forme, right so every50 man, by rightful werkinges, ought to folowe the lefful desyres in his herte , and see toforn to what ende he deserveth. For many tymes he that loketh nat after th’endes, but utterly therof is unknowen, befalleth often many yvels to done, wherthrough, er he55 be war , shamefully he is confounded; th’ende[s] therof neden to be before loked. To every desirer of suche foresight in good service, three thinges specially nedeth to be rulers in his workes. First, that he do good; next, that he do [it ] by eleccion in his owne herte ; and the thirde, that he do godly, withouten any60 surquedry in thoughtes. That your werkes shulden be good, in service or in any other actes, authoritès many may be aleged; neverthelater, by reson thus may it be shewed. Al your werkes be cleped seconde, and moven in vertue of the firste wercher, whiche in good workes wrought you to procede; and right so65 your werkes moven in-to vertue of the laste ende: and right in the first workinge were nat, no man shulde in the seconde werche. Right so, but ye feled to what ende, and seen their goodnes closed, ye shulde no more †recche what ye wrought; but the ginning gan with good, and there shal it cese in the laste ende, if70 it be wel considred. Wherfore the middle, if other-wayes it drawe than accordant to the endes, there stinteth the course of good, and another maner course entreth; and so it is a partie by himselve; and every part [that ] be nat accordant to his al, is foul and ought to be eschewed. Wherfore every thing that is wrought75 and be nat good, is nat accordant to th’endes of his al hole; it is foul, and ought to be withdrawe. Thus the persons that neither don good ne harm shamen foule their making. Wherfore, without working of good actes in good service, may no man ben accepted. Truely, the ilke that han might to do good and doon it nat, the80 crowne of worship shal be take from hem, and with shame shul they be anulled; and so, to make oon werke acordant with his endes, every good servaunt, by reson of consequence, muste do good nedes . Certes, it suffiseth nat alone to do good, but goodly withal folowe; the thanke of goodnesse els in nought he85 deserveth. For right as al your being come from the greetest good, in whom al goodnesse is closed, right so your endes ben directe to the same good. Aristotel determineth that ende and good ben one, and convertible in understanding; and he that in wil doth awey good, and he that loketh nat to th’ende, loketh nat to good; but he that doth good and doth nat goodly , [and ]90 draweth away the direction of th’ende nat goodly, must nedes be badde . Lo! badde is nothing els but absence or negative of good, as derkenesse is absence or negative of light. Than he that dooth [not ] goodly, directeth thilke good in-to th’ende of badde; so muste thing nat good folowe: eke badnesse to suche95 folke ofte foloweth. Thus contrariaunt workers of th’ende that is good ben worthy the contrary of th’ende that is good to have.’
‘How,’ quod I, ‘may any good dede be doon , but-if goodly it helpe?’100
‘Yes,’ quod Love, ‘the devil doth many good dedes, but goodly he leveth be-hynde; for †ever badly and in disceyvable wyse he worketh; wherfore the contrary of th’ende him foloweth. And do he never so many good dedes, bicause goodly is away, his goodnes is nat rekened. Lo! than, tho[ugh] a man do good,105 but he do goodly, th’ende in goodnesse wol nat folowe; and thus in good service both good dede and goodly doon musten joyne togider, and that it be doon with free choise in herte ; and els deserveth he nat the merit in goodnes: that wol I prove. For if thou do any-thing good by chaunce or by happe, in what thing110 art thou therof worthy to be commended? For nothing, by reson of that, turneth in-to thy praysing ne lacking . Lo! thilke thing doon by hap, by thy wil is nat caused; and therby shulde I thanke or lacke deserve? And sithen that fayleth, th’ende which[ ] that wel shulde rewarde, must ned[e]s faile. Clerkes sayn, no man115 but willinge is blessed; a good dede that he hath doon is nat doon of free choice willing; without whiche blissednesse may nat folowe. Ergo, neither thanke of goodnesse ne service [is ] in that [that] is contrary of the good ende. So than, to good service longeth good dede goodly don, thorow free choice in herte .’120
‘Truely,’ quod I, ‘this have I wel understande.’
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘every thing thus doon sufficiently by lawe, that is cleped justice, [may ] after-reward clayme . For lawe and justice was ordayned in this wyse, suche desertes in goodnesse, 125 after quantitè in doinge, by mede to rewarde; and of necessitè of suche justice, that is to say, rightwysenesse, was free choice in deserving of wel or of yvel graunted to resonable creatures. Every man hath free arbitrement to chose, good or yvel to performe.’
130‘Now ,’ quod I tho, ‘if I by my good wil deserve this Margaritperle, and am nat therto compelled, and have free choice to do what me lyketh; she is than holden, as me thinketh, to rewarde th’entent of my good wil.’
‘Hath every man,’ quod I, ‘free choice by necessary maner of wil in every of his doinges that him lyketh, by goddes proper purvyaunce? I wolde see that wel declared to my leude understanding; for “necessary” and “necessitè” ben wordes of mokel140entencion , closing (as to saye) so mote it be nedes, and otherwyse may it nat betyde.’
‘This shalt thou lerne ,’ quod she, ‘so thou take hede in my speche. If it were nat in mannes owne libertè of free wil to do good or bad, but to the one teyed by bonde of goddes preordinaunce,145 than, do he never so wel, it were by nedeful compulcion of thilk bonde, and nat by free choice, wherby nothing he desyreth: and do he never so yvel, it were nat man for to wyte, but onlich to him that suche thing ordayned him to done. Wherfore he ne ought for bad[de] be punisshed, ne for no good150 dede be rewarded; but of necessitè of rightwisnesse was therfore free choice of arbitrement put in mans proper disposicion . Truely, if it were otherwyse, it contraried goddes charitè, that badnesse and goodnesse rewardeth after desert of payne or of mede.’
[ ] ‘Me thinketh this wonder,’ quod I; ‘for god by necessitè155forwot al thinges coming, and so mote it nedes be; and thilke thinges that ben don †by our free choice comen nothing of necessitè but only †by wil. How may this stonde †togider ? And so me thinketh truely, that free choice fully repugneth goddes forweting. Trewly, lady, me semeth, they mowe nat stande160 †togider .’
CHAPTER III.[ ]
THAN gan Love nighe me nere, and with a noble countenance of visage and limmes, dressed her nigh my sitting-place.
‘Take forth,’ quod she, ‘thy pen, and redily wryte these wordes. For if god wol, I shal hem so enforme to thee , that thy5 leudnesse which I have understande in that mater shal openly be clered, and thy sight in ful loking therin amended. First, if thou thinke that goddes prescience repugne libertè of arbitrement , it is impossible that they shulde accorde in onheed of sothe to understonding.’10
‘Ye,’ quod I, ‘forsothe; so I it conceyve.’
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘if thilke impossible were away, the repugnaunce that semeth to be therin were utterly removed.’
‘Shewe me the absence of that impossibilitè,’ quod I.
‘So,’ quod she, ‘I shal. Now I suppose that they mowe15 stande togider: prescience of god, whom foloweth necessitè of thinges comming, and libertè of arbitrement, thorow whiche thou belevest many thinges to be without necessitè.’
‘Bothe these proporcions be sothe,’ quod I, ‘and wel mowe stande togider; wherfore this case as possible I admit.’20
‘Truely,’ quod she, ‘and this case is impossible.’
‘How so?’ quod I.
‘For herof,’ quod she, ‘foloweth and wexeth another impossible.’
‘Prove me that,’ quod I.25
[ ] ‘That I shal,’ quod she; ‘for somthing is comming without necessitè, and god wot that toforn; for al thing comming he before wot, and that he beforn wot of necessitè is comming, as he beforn wot be the case by necessary maner ; or els, thorow necessitè, is somthing to be without necessitè; and wheder, to30 every wight that hath good understanding, is seen these thinges to be repugnaunt: prescience of god, whiche that foloweth necessitè, and libertè of arbitrement, fro whiche is removed necessitè? For truely, it is necessary that god have forweting of thing withouten any necessitè cominge.’35
‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘but yet remeve ye nat away fro myne understanding the necessitè folowing goddes be foreweting, as thus. God beforn wot me in service of love to be bounden to this Margariteperle, and therfore by necessitè thus to love am I bounde; and40 if I had nat loved, thorow necessitè had I ben kept from al lovededes.’
‘Certes,’ quod Love, ‘bicause this mater is good and necessary to declare, I thinke here-in wel to abyde, and not lightly to passe. Thou shalt not (quod she) say al-only , “god beforn wot me to be45 a lover or no lover,” but thus: “god beforn wot me to be a lover without necessitè.” And so foloweth, whether thou love or not love, every of hem is and shal be. But now thou seest the impossibilitè of the case, and the possibilitè of thilke that thou wendest had been impossible; wherfore the repugnaunce is adnulled.’
50‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘and yet do ye not awaye the strength of necessitè, whan it is said, th[r]ough necessitè it is me in love to abyde, or not to love without necessitè for god beforn wot it. This maner of necessitè forsothe semeth to some men in-to coaccion , that is to sayne, constrayning, or else prohibicion, that is,55 defendinge; wherfore necessitè is me to love of wil. I understande me to be constrayned by some privy strength to the wil of lovinge; and if [I] no[t] love, to be defended from the wil of lovinge: and so thorow necessitè me semeth to love, for I love ; or els not to love, if I not love; wherthrough neither thank ne60 maugrè in tho thinges may I deserve.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘thou shalt wel understande, that often we sayn thing thorow necessitè to be, that by no strength to be neither is coarted ne constrayned; and through necessitè not to be, that with no defendinge is removed. For we sayn it is65thorow necessitè god to be immortal, nought deedliche; and it is necessitè, god to be rightful; but not that any strength of violent maner constrayneth him to be immortal, or defendeth him to be unrightful; for nothing may make him dedly or unrightful. Right so, if I say, thorow necessitè is thee to be a lover or els70noon; only thorow wil, as god beforn wete. It is nat to understonde that any thing defendeth or forbit thee thy wil, whiche shal nat be; or els constrayneth it to be, whiche shal be. That same thing , forsoth, god before wot, whiche he beforn seeth. Any[ ]thingcommende of only wil, that wil neyther is constrayned ne defended thorow any other thing. And so thorow libertè of75 arbitrement it is do, that is don of wil. And trewly, my good child , if these thinges be wel understonde , I wene that non inconvenient shalt thou fynde betwene goddes forweting and libertè of arbitrement; wherfore I wot wel they may stande togider. Also farthermore, who that understanding of prescience80 properlich considreth, thorow the same wyse that any-thing be afore wist is said, for to be comming it is pronounced; there is nothing toforn wist but thing comming; foreweting is but of trouth[e]; dout[e] may nat be wist; wherfore, whan I sey that god toforn wot any-thing, thorow necessitè is thilke thing to be comming;85 al is oon if I sey, it shal be . But this necessitè neither constrayneth ne defendeth any-thing to be or nat to be. Therfore sothly, if love is put to be, it is said of necessitè to be; or els, for it is put nat to be, it is affirmed nat to be of necessitè; nat for that necessitè constrayneth or defendeth love to be or nat to be. For90 whan I say, if love shal be, of necessitè it shal be, here foloweth necessitè the thing toforn put; it is as moch to say as if it were thus pronounced—“that thing shal be.” Noon other thing signifyeth this necessitè but only thus: that shal be, may nat togider be and nat be. Evenlich also it is soth, love was, and is, and shal95 be, nat of necessitè; and nede is to have be al that was; and nedeful is to be al that is; and comming, to al that shal be. And it is nat the same to saye, love to be passed, and love passed to be passed; or love present to be present, and love to be present; or els love to be comminge, and love comminge to be100 comming. Dyversitè in setting of wordes maketh dyversitè in understandinge; altho[ugh] in the same sentence they accorden of significacion ; right as it is nat al oon , love swete to be swete, and love to be swete. For moch love is bitter and sorouful, er hertes ben esed ; and yet it glad[d]eth thilke sorouful herte on105 suche love to thinke.’
‘Forsothe,’ quod I, ‘outherwhile I have had mokel blisse in herte of love that stoundmele hath me sorily anoyed. And certes, lady, for I see my-self thus knit with this Margarite-perle110 as by bonde of your service and of no libertè of wil, my herte wil now nat acorde this service to love. I can demin in my-selfe non otherwise but thorow necessitè am I constrayned in this service to abyde. But alas! than, if I thorow nedeful compulsioun maugre me be with-holde, litel thank for al my greet traveil have115 I than deserved.’
‘Now ,’ quod this lady, ‘I saye as I sayde: me lyketh this mater to declare at the ful, and why: for many men have had dyvers fantasyes and resons , both on one syde therof and in the other. Of whiche right sone, I trowe, if thou wolt understonde,120 thou shalt conne yeve the sentence to the partie more probable by reson , and in soth knowing, by that I have of this mater maked an ende.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘of these thinges longe have I had greet lust to be lerned; for yet, I wene, goddes wil and his prescience125 acordeth with my service in lovinge of this precious Margarite-perle.[ ] After whom ever, in my herte, with thursting desyre wete, I do brenne; unwasting, I langour and fade; and the day of my[ ] desteny in dethe or in joye I †onbyde ; but yet in th’ende I am comforted †by my supposaile, in blisse and in joye to determine130 after my desyres.’
‘That thing,’ quoth Love, ‘hastely to thee neigh, god graunt of his grace and mercy! And this shal be my prayer, til thou be lykende in herte at thyne owne wil. But now to enforme thee in this mater (quod this lady) thou wost where I lefte; that was:135 love to be swete, and love swete to be swete, is not al oon for to say. For a tree is nat alway by necessitè white. Somtyme, er it were white, it might have be nat white; and after tyme it is white, it may be nat white. But a white tree evermore nedeful is to be white; for neither toforn ne after it was white, might it140 be togider white and nat white. Also love, by necessitè, is nat present as now in thee ; for er it were present, it might have be that it shulde now nat have be; and yet it may be that it shal nat be present; but thy love present whiche to her, Margarite, thee hath bounde, nedeful is to be present. Trewly, som doing of accion , nat by necessitè, is comminge fer toforn it be; it may be145 that it shal nat be comminge. Thing forsoth comming nedeful is to be comming; for it may nat be that comming shal nat be comming. And right as I have sayd of present and of future tymes, the same sentence in sothnesse is of the preterit, that is to say, tyme passed. For thing passed must nedes be passed; and150 er it were, it might have nat be; wherfore it shulde nat have passed. Right so, whan love comming is said of love that is to come, nedeful is to be that is said; for thing comming never is nat comminge. And so, ofte, the same thing we sayn of the same; as whan we sayn “every man is a man,” or “every lover is a lover,”155 so muste it be nedes. In no waye may he be man and no man togider. And if it be nat by necessitè, that is to say nedeful, al thing comming to be comming, than somthing comming is nat comminge, and that is impossible. Right as these termes “nedeful,” “necessitè,” and “necessary” betoken and signify thing nedes160 to be, and it may nat otherwyse be, right [so] †this terme “impossible” signifyeth, that [a ] thing is nat and by no way may it be. Than, thorow pert necessitè, al thing comming is comming; but that is by necessitè foloweth, with nothing to be constrayned. Lo! whan that “comming” is said of thinge, nat alway thing165thorow necessitè is, altho[ugh] it be comming. For if I say, “tomorowe love is comming in this Margarites herte ,” nat therfore thorow necessitè shal the ilke love be; yet it may be that it shal nat be, altho[ugh] it were comming. Neverthelater, somtyme it is soth that somthing be of necessitè, that is sayd “to come”; as170 if I say, to-morowe †be comminge the rysinge of the sonne . If therfore with necessitè I pronounce comming of thing to come, in this maner love to-morne comminge in thyne Margarite to theeward , by necessitè is comminge; or els the rysing of the sonne to-morne comminge, through necessitè is comminge. Love sothely,175 whiche may nat be of necessitè alone folowinge, thorow necessitè comming it is mad certayn . For “futur” of future is said; that is to sayn, “comming” of comminge is said; as, if to-morowe comming is thorow necessitè, comminge it is. Arysing of the sonne, thorow two necessitès in comming, it is to understande; that oon is to-for[e]going180 necessitè, whiche maketh thing to be; therfore it shal be, for nedeful is that it be. Another is folowing necessitè, whiche nothing constrayneth to be, and so by necessitè it is to come; why? for it is to come. Now than, whan we sayn that god beforn wot185 thing comming, nedeful [it ] is to be comming; yet therfore make we nat in certayn evermore, thing to be thorow necessitè comminge. Sothly, thing comming may nat be nat comming by no way; for it is the same sentence of understanding as if we say thus: if god beforn wot any-thing, nedeful is that to be comming.190 But yet therfore foloweth nat the prescience of God, thing thorow necessitè to be comming: for al-tho[ugh] god toforn wot al thinges comming, yet nat therfore he beforn wot every thing comming thorow necessitè. Some thinges he beforn wot comming of free wil out of resonable creature.’
195‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘these termes “nede” and “necessitè” have a queint maner of understanding; they wolden dullen many mennes wittes.’
‘Therfore,’ quod she, ‘I wol hem openly declare, and more clerely than I have toforn, er I departe hen[ne]s .
CHAPTER IV.[ ]
HERE of this mater,’ quod she, ‘thou shalt understande that, right as it is nat nedeful, god to wilne that he wil, no more in many thinges is nat nedeful, a man to wilne that he wol. And ever, right as nedeful is to be, what that god wol,5 right so to be it is nedeful that man wol in tho thinges, whiche that god hath put in-to mannes subjeccion of willinge; as, if a man wol love, that he love; and if he ne wol love, that he love nat; and of suche other thinges in mannes disposicion . For-why, now than that god wol may nat be, whan he wol the wil of man10thorow no necessitè to be constrayned or els defended for to wilne, and he wol th’effect to folowe the wil; than is it nedeful, wil of man to be free , and also to be that he wol. In this maner it is soth, that thorow necessitè is mannes werke in loving, that he wol do altho[ugh] he wol it nat with necessitè.’
‘I wol,’ quod she, ‘answere thee blyvely. Right as men wil not thorow necessitè, right so is not love of wil thorow necessitè;20 ne thorow necessitè wrought thilke same wil. For if he wolde it not with good wil, it shulde nat have been wrought; although that he doth , it is nedeful to be doon . But if a man do sinne, it is nothing els but to †wilne that he shulde nat; right so sinne of wil is not to be [in ] maner necessary don , no more than wil is25 necessarye. Never-the-later, this is sothe; if a man wol sinne, it is necessarye him to sinne, but th[r]ough thilke necessitè nothing is constrayned ne defended in the wil; right so thilke thing that free-wil wol and may , and not may not wilne; and nedeful is that to wilne he may not wilne . But thilke to wilne nedeful is; for30 impossible to him it is oon thing and the same to wilne and not to[ ] wilne. The werke, forsothe, of wil, to whom it is yeve that it be that he hath in wil, and that he wol not, voluntarie †or spontanye it is; for by spontanye wil it is do, that is to saye, with good wil not constrayned: than by wil not constrayned it is constrayned to35 be; and that is it may not †togider be. If this necessitè maketh libertè of wil, whiche that, aforn they weren, they might have ben eschewed and shonned: god than, whiche that knoweth al tr[o]uthe , and nothing but tr[o]uthe , al these thinges, as they arn spontanye or necessarie, †seeth; and as he seeth , so they40 ben. And so with these thinges wel considred, it is open at the ful, that without al maner repugnaunce god beforn wot al maner thinges [that ] ben don by free wil, whiche, aforn they weren, [it ] might have ben [that ] never they shulde be. And yet ben they thorow a maner necessitè from free wil †discended .45
Hereby may (quod she) lightly ben knowe that not al thinges to be, is of necessitè, though god have hem in his prescience. For som thinges to be, is of libertè of wil. And to make thee to have ful knowinge of goddes beforn-weting , here me (quod she) what I shal say.’50
‘Blythly, lady,’ quod I, ‘me list this mater entyrely to understande.’
‘Thou shalt ,’ quod she, ‘understande that in heven is goddes beinge; although he be over al by power, yet there is abydinge of55 devyne persone; in whiche heven is everlastinge presence, withouten any movable tyme. There* is nothing preterit ne passed, there is nothing future ne comming; but al thinges togider in that place ben present everlasting, without any meving. Wherfore, to[ ] god, al thing is as now ; and though a thing be nat, in kyndly60 nature of thinges, as yet, and if it shulde be herafter, yet evermore we shul saye, god it maketh be tyme present, and now ; for no future ne preterit in him may be founde. Wherfore his weting and his before-weting is al oon in understanding. Than, if weting and before-weting of god putteth in necessitè to al thinges whiche65 he wot or before-wot; ne thing, after eternitè or els after any tyme, he wol or doth of libertè, but al of necessitè: whiche thing if thou wene it be ayenst reson , [than is] nat thorow necessitè to be or nat to be, al thing that god wot or before-wot to be or nat to be; and yet nothing defendeth any-thing to be wist or to be70 before-wist of him in our willes or our doinges to be don , or els comminge to be for free arbitrement. Whan thou hast these declaracions wel understande, than shalt thou fynde it resonable at prove, and that many thinges be nat thorow necessitè but thorow libertè of wil, save necessitè of free wil, as I tofore said,75 and, as me thinketh, al utterly declared.’
‘Me thinketh, lady,’ quod I, ‘so I shulde you nat displese , and evermore your reverence to kepe, that these thinges contraryen in any understanding; for ye sayn , somtyme is thorow libertè of wil, and also thorow necessitè. Of this have I yet no savour,80 without better declaracion .’
‘What wonder,’ quod she, ‘is there in these thinges, sithen al day thou shalt see at thyne eye, in many thinges receyven in hemselfe revers, thorow dyvers resons , as thus:—I pray thee (quod she) which thinges ben more revers than “comen” and “gon ”?85 For if I bidde thee “come to me,” and thou come, after, whan I bidde thee “go,” and thou go, thou reversest fro thy first comming.’
‘That is soth,’ quod I.
‘And yet,’ quod she, ‘in thy first alone, by dyvers reson , was ful reversinge to understande.’90
‘As how ?’ quod I.
‘That shal I shewe thee ,’ quod she, ‘by ensample of thinges that have kyndly moving. Is there any-thing that meveth more kyndly than doth the hevens eye, whiche I clepe the sonne?’
‘Sothly,’ quod I, ‘me semeth it is most kyndly to move.’95
[ ] ‘Thou sayest soth,’ quod she. ‘Than, if thou loke to the sonne, in what parte he be under heven, evermore he †hyeth him in moving fro thilke place, and †hyeth meving toward the ilke same place; to thilke place from whiche he goth he †hyeth comminge; and without any ceesinge to that place he neigheth100 from whiche he is chaunged and withdrawe. But now in these thinges, after dyversitè of reson , revers in one thinge may be seye without repugnaunce. Wherfore in the same wyse, without any repugnaunce, by my resons tofore maked, al is oon to beleve, somthing to be thorow necessitè comminge for it is comming, and105 yet with no necessitè constrayned to be comming, but with necessitè that cometh out of free wil, as I have sayd.’
‘Trewly, lady, as me thinketh, I can allege authoritees grete ,110 that contrarien your sayinges . Job saith of mannes person,[ ] “thou hast put his terme, whiche thou might not passe.” Than saye I that no man may shorte ne lengthe the day ordayned of his †dying , altho[ugh] somtyme to us it semeth som man to do a thing of free wil, wherthorow his deeth he henteth.’115
‘Nay , forsothe,’ quod she, ‘it is nothing ayenst my saying ; for god is not begyled, ne he seeth nothing wheder it shal come of libertè or els of necessitè; yet it is said to be ordayned at god immovable, whiche at man, or it be don , may be chaunged. Suche thing is also that Poule the apostel saith of hem that tofore120[ ] wern purposed to be sayntes, as thus: “whiche that god before wiste and hath predestined conformes of images of his †sone , that he shulde ben the firste begeten, that is to saye, here amonges many brethren ; and whom he hath predestined, hem he hath125 cleped; and whom he hath cleped, hem he hath justifyed; and whom he hath justifyed, hem he hath magnifyed.” This purpos , after whiche they ben cleped sayntes or holy in the everlasting present, wher is neither tyme passed ne tyme comminge, but ever[ ] it is only present, and now as mokel a moment as sevin thousand130 winter; and so ayenward withouten any meving is nothing lich temporel presence for thinge that there is ever present. Yet amonges you men, er it be in your presence, it is movable thorow libertè of arbitrement. And right as in the everlasting present no maner thing was ne shal be, but onlyis; and now here, in135 your temporel tyme, somthing was, and is, and shal be, but movinge stoundes; and in this is no maner repugnaunce: right so, in the everlasting presence, nothing may be chaunged; and, in your temporel tyme, otherwhyle it is proved movable by libertè of wil or it be do, withouten any inconvenience therof to folowe.140[ ] In your temporel tyme is no suche presence as in the tother; for your present is don whan passed and to come ginnen entre; whiche tymes here amonges you everich esily foloweth other. But the presence everlasting dureth in oonhed , withouten any imaginable chaunging, and ever is present and now . Trewly, the145 course of the planettes and overwhelminges of the sonne in dayes and nightes, with a newe ginning of his circute after it is ended, that is to sayn, oon yeer to folowe another: these maken your transitory tymes with chaunginge of lyves and mutacion of people, but right as your temporel presence coveiteth every place, and al150 thinges in every of your tymes be contayned, and as now both seye and wist to goddes very knowinge.’
[ ] ‘Than,’ quod I, ‘me wondreth why Poule spak these wordes by voice of significacion in tyme passed, that god his sayntes before-wist hath predestined, hath cleped, hath justifyed, and155 hath magnifyed. Me thinketh, he shulde have sayd tho wordes in tyme present; and that had ben more accordaunt to the everlasting present than to have spoke in preterit voice of passed understanding.’
‘O,’ quod Love, ‘by these wordes I see wel thou hast litel160 understanding of the everlasting presence, or els of my before spoken wordes; for never a thing of tho thou hast nempned was tofore other or after other; but al at ones evenlich at the god ben, and al togider in the everlasting present be now to understanding. This eternal presence, as I sayd, hath inclose togider in one al tymes, in which close and one al thinges that ben in165 dyvers tymes and in dyvers places temporel, [and ] without posterioritè or prioritè ben closed ther in perpetual now , and maked to dwelle in present sight. But there thou sayest that Poule shulde[ ] have spoke thilke forsaid sentence †by tyme present, and that most shulde have ben acordaunt to the everlasting presence,170 why gabbest thou †in thy wordes? Sothly, I say, Poule moved the wordes by significacion of tyme passed, to shewe fully that thilk wordes were nat put for temporel significacion ; for al [at ] thilk tyme [of] thilke sentencewere nat temporallich born, whiche that Poule pronounced god have tofore knowe, and have cleped, than175 magnifyed. Wherthorow it may wel be knowe that Poule used tho wordes of passed significacion , for nede and lacke of a worde in mannes bodily speche betokeninge the everlasting presence. And therfore, [in ] worde moste semeliche in lykenesse to everlasting presence, he took his sentence; for thinges that here-beforn180 ben passed utterly be immovable, y-lyke to the everlasting presence. As thilke that ben there never mowe not ben present, so thinges of tyme passed ne mowe in no wyse not ben passed; but al thinges in your temporal presence, that passen in a litel while, shullen ben not present. So than in that, it is more185 similitude to the everlasting presence, significacion of tyme passed than of tyme temporal present, and so more in accordaunce. In this maner what thing , of these that ben don thorow free arbitrement, or els as necessary, holy writ pronounceth, after eternitè he speketh; in whiche presence is everlasting sothe and nothing but190 sothe immovable; nat after tyme, in whiche naught alway ben your willes and your actes. And right as, while they be nat, it is nat nedeful hem to be, so ofte it is nat nedeful that somtyme they shulde be.’
‘As how?’ quod I; ‘for yet I must be lerned by some195 ensample.’
‘Of love,’ quod she, ‘wol I now ensample make, sithen I knowe the heed-knotte in that yelke. Lo! somtyme thou wrytest no art , ne art than in no wil to wryte. And right as while thou200 wrytest nat or els wolt nat wryte, it is nat nedeful thee to wryte or els wilne to wryte. And for to make thee knowe utterly that thinges ben otherwise in the everlastinge presence than in temporal tyme, see now , my good child : for somthing is in the everlastinge presence, than in temporal tyme it was nat; in205 †eterne tyme, in eterne presence shal it nat be. Than no resondefendeth , that somthing ne may be in tyme temporal moving, that in eterne is immovable. Forsothe, it is no more contrary ne revers for to be movable in tyme temporel, and [im]movable in eternitè, than nat to be in any tyme and to be alway in210 eternitè; and to have be or els to come in tyme temporel, and nat have be ne nought comming to be in eternitè. Yet never-the-later. I say nat somthing to be never in tyme temporel, that ever is [in ] eternitè; but al-only in som tyme nat to be. For I saye nat thy love to-morne in no tyme to be, but to-day alone215 I deny it to be; and yet, never-the-later, it is alway in eternitè.’
‘A! so,’ quod I, ‘it semeth to me, that comming thing or els passed here in your temporal tyme to be, in eternitè ever now and present oweth nat to be demed; and yet foloweth nat thilke thing , that was or els shal be, in no maner ther to ben passed220[ ] or els comming; than utterly shul we deny for there without ceesing it is, in his present maner.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘myne owne disciple, now ginnest thou [be] able to have the name of my servaunt! Thy wit is clered; away is now errour of cloude in unconning; away is blyndnesse of225 love; away is thoughtful study of medling maners. Hastely shalt thou entre in-to the joye of me, that am thyn owne maistres! Thou hast (quod she), in a fewe wordes, wel and clerely concluded mokel of my mater. And right as there is no revers ne contrarioustee in tho thinges, right so, withouten230 any repugnaunce, it is sayd somthing to be movable in tyme temporel, †afore it be, that in eternité dwelleth immovable, nat afore it be or after that it is, but without cessing; for right naught is there after tyme; that same is there everlastinge that temporalliche somtyme nis; and toforn it be, it may not be, as I have sayd.’235
‘Now sothly,’ quod I, ‘this have I wel understande; so that now me thinketh, that prescience of god and free arbitrement withouten any repugnaunce acorden; and that maketh the strength of eternitè, whiche encloseth by presence during al tymes, and al thinges that ben, han ben, and shul ben in any240 tyme. I wolde now (quod I) a litel understande, sithen that [god ] al thing thus beforn wot, whether thilke wetinge be of tho thinges, or els thilke thinges ben to ben of goddes weting, and so of god nothing is; and if every thing be thorow goddes weting, and therof take his being, than shulde god be maker and auctour245 of badde werkes, and so he shulde not rightfully punisshe yvel doinges of mankynde.’
Quod Love, ‘I shal telle thee , this lesson to lerne. Myne owne trewe servaunt, the noble philosophical poete in Englissh, whiche evermore him besieth and travayleth right sore my name250 to encrese (wherfore al that willen me good owe to do him worship and reverence bothe; trewly, his better ne his pere in scole of my rules coude I never fynde)—he (quod she), in a tretis that he made of my servant Troilus, hath this mater touched, and at the ful this question assoyled. Certaynly, his noble sayinges255 can I not amende; in goodnes of gentil manliche speche, without any maner of nycetè of †storiers imaginacion, in witte and in good reson of sentence he passeth al other makers. In the boke of Troilus, the answere to thy question mayst thou lerne. Never-the-later, yet may lightly thyne understandinge somdel ben lerned,260 if thou have knowing of these to-fornsaid thinges; with that thou have understanding of two the laste chapiters of this seconde boke, that is to say, good to be somthing, and bad to wante al maner being. For badde is nothing els but absence of good; and [as ] that god in good maketh that good dedes ben good,265 in yvel he maketh that they ben but naught, that they ben bad; for to nothing is badnesse to be [lykned ].’
‘I have,’ quod I tho, ‘ynough knowing therin; me nedeth of other thinges to here, that is to saye, how I shal come to my blisse so long desyred.’270
‘IN this mater toforn declared,’ quod Love, ‘I have wel shewed, that every man hath free arbitrement of thinges in his power, to do or undo what him lyketh. Out of this grounde[ ] muste come the spire, that by processe of tyme shal in greetnesse5 sprede, to have braunches and blosmes of waxing frute in grace, of whiche the taste and the savour is endelesse blisse, in joye ever to onbyde.’*
‘That shal I,’ quod she, ‘blithly, and take good hede to the wordes, I thee rede. Continuaunce in thy good service, by longe processe of tyme in ful hope abyding, without any chaunge to wilne in thyne herte, this is the spire. Whiche, if it be wel kept15 and governed, shal so hugely springe, til the fruit of grace is plentuously out-sprongen. For although thy wil be good, yet may not therfore thilk blisse desyred hastely on thee discenden; it must abyde his sesonable tyme. And so, by processe of growing, with thy good traveyle, it shal in-to more and more wexe,20 til it be found so mighty, that windes of yvel speche, ne scornes of envy, make nat the traveyle overthrowe; ne frostes of mistrust, ne hayles of jelousy right litel might have, in harming of suche springes. Every yonge setling lightly with smale stormes is apeyred; but whan it is woxen somdel in gretnesse, than han25grete blastes and †weders but litel might, any disadvantage to them for to werche.’
‘Myne owne soverayne lady,’ quod I, ‘and welth of myne herte , and it were lyking un-to your noble grace therthrough nat to be displesed , I suppose ye erren, now ye maken jelousy, envy,30 and distourbour to hem that ben your servauntes. I have lerned ofte, to-forn this tyme, that in every lovers herte greet plentee of jelousyes greves ben sowe, wherfore (me thinketh) ye ne ought in no maner accompte thilke thing among these other welked wivers and venomous serpentes, as envy, mistrust, and yvel35 speche.’
‘O fole,’ quod she, ‘mistrust with foly, with yvel wil medled, engendreth that welked padde! Truely, if they were distroyed, jelousy undon were for ever; and yet some maner of jelousy, I wot wel, is ever redy in al the hertes of my trewe servauntes, as thus: to be jelous over him-selfe, lest he be cause of his own40disese . This jelousy in ful thought ever shulde be kept, for ferdnesse to lese his love by miskeping, thorow his owne doing in leudnesse, or els thus: lest she, that thou servest so fervently, is beset there her better lyketh, that of al thy good service she compteth nat a cresse. These jelousies in herte for acceptable45 qualitees ben demed; these oughten every trewe lover, by kyndly [maner ], evermore haven in his mynde, til fully the grace and blisse of my service be on him discended at wil. And he that than jelousy caccheth , or els by wening of his owne folisshe wilfulnesse mistrusteth, truely with fantasy of venim he is foule50 begyled. Yvel wil hath grounded thilke mater of sorowe in his leude soule, and yet nat-for-than to every wight shulde me nat truste , ne every wight fully misbeleve; the mene of these thinges †oweth to be used. Sothly, withouten causeful evidence mistrust in jelousy shulde nat be wened in no wyse person commenly;55 suche leude wickednesse shulde me nat fynde. He that is wyse and with yvel wil nat be acomered, can abyde wel his tyme, til grace and blisse of his service folowing have him so mokel esed , as his abydinge toforehande hath him disesed .’
‘Certes, lady,’ quod I tho, ‘of nothing me wondreth, sithen60 thilke blisse so precious is and kyndly good, and wel is and worthy in kynde whan it is medled with love and reson , as ye toforn have declared. Why , anon as hye oon is spronge , why springeth nat the tother? And anon as the oon cometh, why receyveth nat the other? For every thing that is out of his kyndly place, by ful65appetyt ever cometh thiderward kyndely to drawe; and his kyndly being ther-to him constrayneth. And the kyndly stede of this blisse is in suche wil medled to †onbyde , and nedes in that it shulde have his kyndly being. Wherfore me thinketh, anon as that wil to be shewed and kid him profreth, thilke blisse shulde him70 hye, thilk wil to receyve; or els kynde[s] of goodnesse worchen nat in hem as they shulde. Lo, be the sonne never so fer , ever [ ] it hath his kynde werching in erthe. Greet weight on hye on-lofte caried stinteth never til it come to †his resting-place. Waters75 to the see-ward ever ben they drawing. Thing that is light blythly wil nat sinke, but ever ascendeth and upward draweth. Thus kynde in every thing his kyndly cours and his beinge-place sheweth. Wherfore †by kynde, on this good wil, anon as it were spronge, this blisse shulde thereon discende; her kynde[s] wolde,80 they dwelleden togider; and so have ye sayd your-selfe.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘thyne herte sitteth wonder sore, this blisse for to have; thyne herte is sore agreved that it tarieth so longe; and if thou durstest, as me thinketh by thyne wordes, this blisse woldest thou blame. But yet I saye, thilke blisse is kyndly good,85 and his kyndely place [is ] in that wil to †onbyde . Never-the-later, their comming togider, after kyndes ordinaunce, nat sodaynly may betyde; it muste abyde tyme, as kynde yeveth him leve . For if a man, as this wil medled gonne him shewe, and thilke blisse in haste folowed, so lightly comminge shulde lightly cause90 going. Longe tyme of thursting causeth drink to be the more delicious whan it is atasted.’
‘How is it,’ quod I than, ‘that so many blisses see I al day at myne eye, in the firste moment of a sight, with suche wil accorde? Ye, and yet other-whyle with wil assenteth, singulerly by him-selfe;95 there reson fayleth, traveyle was non ; service had no tyme. This is a queynt maner thing, how suche doing cometh aboute.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘that is thus. The erthe kyndely, after sesons and tymes of the yere, bringeth forth innumerable herbes and trees, bothe profitable and other; but suche as men might leve100 (though they nought in norisshinge to mannes kynde serven, or els suche as tournen sone unto mennes confusion, in case that therof they ataste), comen forth out of the erthe by their owne kynde, withouten any mannes cure or any businesse in traveyle. And the ilke herbes that to mennes lyvelode necessarily serven,105 without whiche goodly in this lyfe creatures mowen nat enduren, and most ben †norisshinge to mankynde, without greet traveyle, greet tilthe, and longe abydinge-tyme, comen nat out of the erthe, and [y]it with sede toforn ordayned, suche herbes to make springe and forth growe. Right so the parfit blisse, that we have in meninge of during-tyme to abyde, may nat come so lightly, but with greet110 traveyle and right besy tilth; and yet good seed to be sowe; for ofte the croppe fayleth of badde seede, be it never so wel traveyled. And thilke blisse thou spoke of so lightly in comming, trewly, is nat necessary ne abydinge; and but it the better be stamped, and the venomous jeuse out-wrongen, it is lykely to enpoysonen115 al tho that therof tasten. Certes, right bitter ben the herbes that shewen first [in ] the yere of her own kynde. Wel the more is the harvest that yeldeth many graynes, tho longe and sore it hath ben traveyled. What woldest thou demen if a man wold yeve three quarters of nobles of golde? That were a precious gift?’120
‘Ye, certes,’ quod I.
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘that were a riche gift .’
‘And what,’ quod she, ‘of as mokel azure?’
Quod I, ‘a precious gift at ful.’125
‘Were not,’ quod she, ‘a noble gift of al these atones?’
‘In good faith,’ quod I, ‘for wanting of Englissh naming of so noble a worde, I can not, for preciousnesse, yeve it a name.’
‘Rightfully,’ quod she, ‘hast thou demed; and yet love, knit in vertue, passeth al the gold in this erthe. Good wil, accordant130 to reson , with no maner propertè may be countrevayled. Al the azure in the worlde is nat to accompte in respect of reson . Love that with good wil and reson accordeth, with non erthly riches may nat ben amended. This yeft hast thou yeven, I know it my-selfe, and thy Margarite thilke gift hath receyved; in whiche135 thinge to rewarde she hath her-selfe bounde. But thy gift , as I said, by no maner riches may be amended; wherfore, with thinge that may nat be amended, thou shalt of thy Margarites rightwisenesse be rewarded. Right suffred yet never but every good dede somtyme to be yolde. Al wolde thy Margarite with140 no rewarde thee quyte, right, that never-more dyeth, thy mede in merit wol purvey. Certes, such sodayn blisse as thou first nempnest, right wil hem rewarde as thee wel is worthy; and though at thyn eye it semeth, the reward the desert to passe, right can after sende suche bitternesse, evenly it to rewarde. So145 that sodayn blisse, by al wayes of reson , in gret goodnesse may not ben acompted; but blisse long, both long it abydeth, and endlesse it wol laste. See why thy wil is endelesse. For if thou lovedest ever, thy wil is ever ther t’abyde and neveremore to150 chaunge; evenhed of rewarde must ben don by right; than muste nedes thy grace and this blisse [ben ] endelesse in joye to †onbyde . Evenliche disese asketh evenliche joye , whiche hastely thou shalt have.’
‘A!’ quod I, ‘it suffyseth not than alone good wil, be it never155 so wel with reson medled, but-if it be in good service longe travayled. And so through service shul men come to the joye; and this, me thinketh, shulde be the wexing tree , of which ye first meved.*
‘So thou shalt,’ quod she, ‘er thou depart hence. The first thing, thou muste sette thy werke on grounde siker and good,[ ] accordaunt to thy springes. For if thou desyre grapes, thou5 goest not to the hasel; ne, for to fecchen roses, thou sekest not on okes; and if thou shalt have hony-soukels, thou levest the frute of the soure docke. Wherfore, if thou desyre this blisse in parfit joye , thou must sette thy purpos there vertue foloweth, and not to loke after the bodily goodes; as I sayd whan thou were10 wryting in thy secondeboke . And for thou hast set thy-selfe in so noble a place, and utterly lowed in thyn herte the misgoing of thy first purpos , this †setling is the esier to springe, and the more lighter thy soule in grace to be lissed. And trewly thy desyr , that is to say, thy wil algates mot ben stedfast in this mater without15 any chaunginge; for if it be stedfast, no man may it voyde.’
‘Yes, pardè,’ quod I, ‘my wil may ben turned by frendes, and[ ]disese of manace and thretning in lesinge of my lyfe and of my limmes, and in many other wyse that now cometh not to mynde. And also it mot ofte ben out of thought; for no remembraunce20 may holde oon thing continuelly in herte, be it never so lusty desyred.’
‘Now see ,’ quod she, ‘thou thy wil shal folowe, thy free wil to be grounded continuelly to abyde. It is thy free wil, that thou lovest and hast loved, and yet shal loven this Margaryte-perle; and in thy wil thou thinkest to holde it. Than is thy wil knit25 in love, not to chaunge for no newe lust besyde; this wil techeth thyn herte from al maner varying . But than, although thou be thretened in dethe or els in otherwyse, yet is it in thyn arbitrement to chose, thy love to voyde or els to holde; and thilke arbitrement is in a maner a jugement bytwene desyr and thy30 herte. And if thou deme to love thy good wil fayleth, than art thou worthy no blisse that good wil shulde deserve; and if thou chose continuaunce in thy good service, than thy good wil abydeth; nedes, blisse folowing of thy good wil must come by strength of thilke jugement; for thy first wil, that taught thyn35 herte to abyde, and halt it from th’eschaunge, with thy reson is accorded. Trewly, this maner of wil thus shal abyde; impossible it were to turne, if thy herte be trewe; and if every man diligently the meninges of his wil consider, he shal wel understande that good wil, knit with reson , but in a false herte40 never is voyded; for power and might of keping this good wil is thorow libertè of arbitrement in herte , but good wil to kepe may not fayle. Eke than if it fayle, it sheweth it-selfe that good wil in keping is not there. And thus false wil, that putteth out the good, anon constrayneth the herte to accorde in lovinge of45 thy good wil; and this accordaunce bitwene false wil and thyn herte, in falsitè ben lykened †togider . Yet a litel wol I say thee in good wil, thy good willes to rayse and strengthe. Tak hede to me (quod she) how thy willes thou shalt understande. Right as ye han in your body dyvers membres, and fyve sondrye50 wittes, everiche apart to his owne doing, whiche thinges as instrumentes ye usen; as, your handes apart to handle; feet , to go; tonge, to speke; eye, to see : right so the soule hath in him certayne steringes and strengthes, whiche he useth as instrumentes to his certayne doinges. Reson is in the soule,55 which he useth, thinges to knowe and to prove; and wil, whiche he useth to wilne; and yet is neyther wil ne reson al the soule; but everich of hem is a thing by him-selfe in the soule. And right as everich hath thus singuler instrumentes by hemselfe,60 they han as wel dyvers aptes and dyvers maner usinges; and thilke aptes mowen in wil ben cleped affeccions. Affeccion is an instrument of willinge in his apetytes. Wherfore mokel folk sayn, if a resonable creatures soule any thing fervently wilneth, affectuously he wilneth; and thus may wil, by terme of equivocas ,65 in three wayes ben understande. Oon is instrument of willing; another is affection of this instrument; and the third is use, that setteth it a-werke. Instrument of willing is thilke strength of the[ ] soule, which that constrayneth to wilne, right as reson is instrument of resons, which ye usen whan ye loken. Affeccion of this70 instrument is a thing, by whiche ye be drawe desyrously anything to wilne in coveitous maner, al be it for the tyme out of your mynde; as, if it come in your thought thilke thing to[ ] remembre, anon ye ben willing thilke to done or els to have. And thus is instrument wil; and affeccion is wil also, to wilne75thing as I said; as, for to wilne helth, whan wil nothing theron thinketh; for anon as it cometh to memorie, it is in wil. And so[ ] is affeccion to wilne slepe, whan it is out of mynde; but anon as it is remembred, wil wilneth slepe, whan his tyme cometh of the doinge. For affeccion of wil never accordeth to sicknesse,80 ne alway to wake. Right so, in a true lovers affeccion of willing, instrument is to wilne tr[o]uthe in his service; and this affeccion alway abydeth, although he be sleping or thretned, or els not theron thinking; but anon as it cometh to mynde, anon he is stedfast in that wil to abyde. Use of this instrument forsothe85 is another thing by himselfe; and that have ye not but whan ye be doing in willed thing, by affect or instrument of wil purposed or desyred; and this maner of usage in my service wysely nedeth to be ruled from wayters with envy closed, from spekers ful of jangeling wordes, from proude folk and hautayn,90that lambes and innocentes bothe scornen and dispysen. Thus in doing varieth the actes of willinge everich from other, and yet ben they cleped “wil,” and the name of wil utterly owen they to have; as instrument of wil is wil, whan ye turne in-to purpos of any thing to don, be it to sitte or to stande, or any such thing95 els. This instrument may ben had, although affect and usage be left out of doing; right as ye have sight and reson, and yet alway use ye* †nat to loke, [ne ] thinges with resonning to prove; and so is instrument of wil, wil; and yet varyeth he from effect and using bothe. Affeccion of wil also for wil is cleped, but it varyeth from instrument in this maner wyse, by that nameliche , whan it100 cometh in-to mynde, anon-right it is in willinge desyred, and the negatif therof with willing nil not acorde; this is closed in herte, though usage and instrument slepe. This slepeth whan instrument[ ] and us[e] waken; and of suche maner affeccion , trewly, some man hath more and some man lesse. Certes, trewe lovers105 wenen ever therof to litel to have. False lovers in litel wenen have right mokel. Lo, instrument of wil in false and trewe bothe, evenliche is proporcioned; but affeccion is more in some places than in some, bycause of the goodnesse that foloweth, and that I thinke hereafter to declare. Use of this instrument is wil,110 but it taketh his name whan wilned thing is in doing; but utterly grace to cacche in thy blisse †desyreth to ben rewarded. Thou most have than affeccion of wil at the ful, and use whan his tyme asketh wysely to ben governed. Sothly, my disciple, without fervent affeccion of wil may no man ben saved. This115 affeccion of good service in good love may not ben grounded, without fervent desyr to the thing in wil coveited. But he that never reccheth to have or not to have, affeccion of wil in that hath no resting-place. Why? For whan thing cometh to mynde, and it be not taken in hede to comin or not come, therfore in120 that place affeccion fayleth; and, for thilke affeccion is so litel, thorow whiche in goodnesse he shulde come to his grace, the litelnesse wil it not suffre to avayle by no way in-to his helpes. Certes, grace and reson thilke affeccion foloweth. This affeccion, with resonknit , dureth in everiche trewe herte, and evermore125 is encresing ; no ferdnesse, no strength may it remove, whyle tr[o]uthe in herte abydeth. Sothly, whan falsheed ginneth entre, tr[o]uthe draweth away grace and joye bothe ; but than thilke falsheed, that trouth[e] hath thus voyded, hath unknit the bond of understanding reson bytwene wil and the herte. And who-so130 that bond undoth , and unknitteth wil to be in other purpose than to the first accorde, knitteth him with contrarye of reson ; and that is unreson . Lo, than, wil and unreson bringeth a man from the blisse of grace; whiche thing, of pure kynde, every man135 ought to shonne and to eschewe, and to the knot of wil and reson confirme.
Me thinketh,’ quod she, ‘by thy studient lokes, thou wenest in these wordes me to contrarien from other sayinges here-toforn in other place, as whan thou were somtyme in affeccion of wil to140thinges that now han brought thee in disese , which I have thee consayled to voyde, and thyn herte discover; and there I made thy wil to ben chaunged, whiche now thou wenest I argue to with[h]olde and to kepe! Shortly I say, the revers in these wordes may not ben founde; for though dronkennesse be forboden,145 men shul not alway ben drinklesse. I trowe right, for thou thy wil out of reson shulde not tourne, thy wil in one reson[ ] shulde not †onbyde . I say, thy wil in thy first purpos with unreson was closed; constrewe forth of the remenant what thee good lyketh. Trewly, that wil and reson shulde be knit togider,150 was free wil of reson; after tyme thyne herte is assentaunt to them bothe, thou might not chaunge. But if thou from rule of reson varye, in whiche variaunce to come to thilke blisse desyred, contrariously thou werchest; and nothing may knowe wil and reson but love alone. Than if thou voide love, than †weyvest [thou]155 the bond that knitteth; and so nedes, or els right lightly, that other gon a-sondre; wherfore thou seest apertly that love holdeth this knot, and amaystreth hem to be bounde. These thinges, as a ring in circuit of wrethe, ben knit in thy soule without departing.’
‘VERY trouth,’ quod she, ‘hast thou now conceyved of these thinges in thyne herte ; hastely shalt thou be able very joye and parfit blisse to receyve; and now , I wot wel, thou desyrest to knowe the maner of braunches that out of the tree5 shulde springe .’
‘Thou hast herd ,’ quod she, ‘in what wyse this tree toforn this have I declared, as in grounde and in stocke of wexing. First,10[ ] the ground shulde be thy free wil , ful in thyne herte ; and the stocke (as I sayde) shulde be continuaunce in good service by long tyme in traveyle, til it were in greetnesse right wel woxen. And whan this tree suche greetnesse hath caught as I have rehersed, the braunches than, that the frute shulde forth-bringe,15 speche must they be nedes, in voice of prayer in complayning wyse used.’
‘Out! alas!’ quod I tho, ‘he is soroufully wounded that hydeth his speche, and spareth his complayntes to make! What shal I speke the care? But payne, even lyk to helle , sore hath20 me assayled, and so ferforth in payne me thronge, that I leve my tree is seer, and never shal it frute forth bringe ! Certes, he is greetly esed , that dare his prevy mone discover to a true felowe, that conning hath and might, wherthrough his pleint in any thinge may ben amended. And mokel more is he joyed, that with herte25 of hardinesse dare complayne to his lady what cares that he suffreth, by hope of mercy with grace to be avaunced. Truely I saye for me, sithe I cam this Margarit to serve, durst I never me discover of no maner disese ; and wel the later hath myn herte hardyed suche thinges to done, for the grete bountees and worthy30 refresshmentes that she of her grace goodly, without any desert on my halve, ofte hath me rekened. And nere her goodnesse the more with grace and with mercy medled, which passen al desertes, traveyls, and servinges that I in any degre might endite, I wolde wene I shulde be without recover, in getting of this blisse for35 ever! Thus have I stilled my disese ; thus have I covered my care; that I brenne in sorouful anoy, as gledes and coles wasten[ ] a fyr under deed asshen. Wel the hoter is the fyr that with asshen it is overleyn. Right longe this wo have I suffred.’
‘Lo,’ quod Love, ‘how thou farest! Me thinketh, the palasy-yvel40 hath acomered thy wittes; as faste as thou hyest forward , anon sodaynly backward thou movest! Shal nat yet al thy leudnesse out of thy braynes? Dul ben thy skilful understandinges; thy wil hath thy wit so amaistred. Wost thou nat wel (quod she)45 but every tree, in his sesonable tyme of burjoninge, shewe his blomes from within, in signe of what frute shulde out of him springe , els the frute for that yere men halt delivered, be the ground never so good? And though the stocke be mighty at the ful, and the braunches seer, and no burjons shewe, farwel the50 gardiner! He may pype with an yvè-lefe; his frute is fayled. Wherfore thy braunches must burjonen in presence of thy lady, if thou desyre any frute of thy ladies grace. But beware of thy lyfe, that thou nowode lay use, as in asking of thinges that strecchen in-to shame! For than might thou nat spede, by no maner way55 that I can espy. Vertue wol nat suffre villany out of him-selfe to springe . Thy wordes may nat be queynt, ne of subtel maner understandinge. Freel-witted people supposen in suche poesies to be begyled; in open understandinge must every word be used. “Voice without clere understanding of sentence,” saith Aristotel ,60 “right nought printeth in herte .” Thy wordes than to abyde in herte , and clene in ful sentence of trewe mening, platly must thou shewe; and ever be obedient, her hestes and her wils to performe; and be thou set in suche a wit, to wete by a loke ever-more what she meneth . And he that list nat to speke, but65 stilly his disese suffer, what wonder is it, tho[ugh] he come never to his blisse? Who that traveyleth unwist, and coveyteth thing unknowe, unweting he shal be quyted, and with unknowe thing rewarded.’
[ ] ‘Good lady,’ quod I than, ‘it hath ofte be sene, that †weders70 and stormes so hugely have falle in burjoning-tyme, and by perte duresse han beten of the springes so clene, wherthrough the frute of thilke yere hath fayled. It is a greet grace, whan burjons han good †weders , their frutes forth to bringe. Alas! than, after suche stormes, how hard is it to avoyde, til efte wedring and75 yeres han maked her circute cours al about, er any frute be able to be tasted! He is shent for shame, that foule is rebuked of his speche. He that is in fyre brenning sore smarteth for disese ; him thinketh ful long er the water come, that shulde the fyr quenche. While men gon after a leche, the body is buryed.80 Lo! how semely this frute wexeth! Me thinketh, that of tho frutes may no man ataste, for pure bitternesse in savour . In this wyse bothe frute and the tree wasten away togider, though mokel besy occupacion have be spent , to bringe it so ferforth that it was able to springe . A lyte speche hath maked that al this labour is in ydel.’85
‘I not,’ quod she, ‘wherof it serveth, thy question to assoyle. Me thinketh thee now duller in wittes than whan I with thee first mette. Although a man be leude, commenly for a fole he is nat demed but-if he no good wol lerne. Sottes and foles lete lightly out of mynde the good that men techeth hem. I sayd therfore,90 thy stocke must be stronge, and in greetnesse wel herted: the tree is ful feble that at the firste dent falleth. And although frute fayleth oon yere or two, yet shal suche a seson come oon tyme or other, that shal bringe out frute that [is parfit ]. * Fole, have I not seyd toforn this, as tyme hurteth, right so ayenward tyme heleth95 and rewardeth; and a tree oft fayled is holde more in deyntee whan it frute forth bringeth. A marchaunt that for ones lesinge in the see no more to aventure thinketh, he shal never with aventure come to richesse. So ofte must men on the oke smyte, til the happy dent have entred, whiche with the okes owne swaye100 maketh it to come al at ones. So ofte falleth the lethy water on the harde rocke, til it have thorow persed it. The even draught of the wyr-drawer maketh the wyr to ben even and supple-werchinge; and if he stinted in his draught, the wyrbreketh a-sonder. Every tree wel springeth, whan it is wel grounded and105 not often removed.’
‘What shal this frute be,’ quod I, ‘now it ginneth rype?’
‘Grace?’ quod I; ‘me thinketh, I shulde have a reward for my110 longe travayle?’
‘I shal telle thee ,’ quod she; ‘retribucion of thy good willes to have of thy Margarite-perle, it bereth not the name of mede, but only of good grace; and that cometh not of thy desert , but of thy Margarytes goodnesse and vertue alone.’115
‘That is sothe,’ quod Love, ‘ever as I sayde, as to him that120doth good, which to done he were neyther holden ne yet constrayned.’
‘That is sothe,’ quod I.
[ ] ‘Trewly,’ quod she, ‘al that ever thou doest to thyne Margaryteperle, of wil, of love, and of reson thou owest to done it; it is125 nothing els but yelding of thy dette in quytinge of thy grace, which she thee lente whan ye first mette.’
‘I wene,’ quod I, ‘right litel grace to me she delivered. Certes, it was harde grace; it hath nyghe me astrangled.’
‘That it was good grace, I wot wel thou wilt it graunte , er130 thou departe hence. If any man yeve to another wight, to whom that he ought not, and whiche that of him-selfe nothing may have, a garnement or a cote, though he were the cote or els thilke clothing, it is not to putte to him that was naked the cause of his clothinge, but only to him that was yever of the garnement.135 Wherfore I saye, thou that were naked of love, and of thy-selfe non have mightest, it is not to putte to thyne owne persone, sithen thy love cam thorow thy Margaryte-perle. Ergo, she was yever of the love, although thou it use; and there lente she thee grace, thy service to beginne. She is worthy the thank of this140 grace, for she was the yever. Al the thoughtes, besy doinges, and plesaunce in thy might and in thy wordes that thou canst devyse, ben but right litel in quytinge of thy dette; had she not ben, suche thing hadde not ben studyed. So al these maters kyndly drawen hom-ward to this Margaryte-perle, for from thence145 were they borowed; al ishoolly her to wyte, the love that thou havest; and thus quytest thou thy dette, in that thou stedfastly servest. And kepe wel that love, I thee rede, that of her thou hast borowed, and use it in her service thy dette to quyte; and than art thou able right sone to have grace; wherfore after mede150 in none halve mayst thou loke. Thus thy ginning and ending is but grace aloon ; and in thy good deserving thy dette thou aquytest; without grace is nothing worth , what-so-ever thou werche. Thanke thy Margaryte of her grete grace that †hidertothee hath gyded, and praye her of continuaunce forth in thy werkes herafter; and that, for no mishappe, thy grace overthwartly155 tourne. Grace, glorie, and joye is coming thorow good folkes desertes; and by getting of grace, therin shullen ende. And what is more glorie or more joye than wysdom and love in parfit charitè, whiche god hath graunted to al tho that wel †conne deserve?’ And with that this lady al at ones sterte in-to160 my herte : ‘here wol I onbyde,’ quod she, ‘for ever, and never wol I gon hence; and I wol kepe thee from medlinge while me liste here onbyde; thyne entermeting maners in-to stedfastnesse shullen be chaunged.’
SOBERLICHE tho threw I up myn eyen, and hugely tho was I astonyed of this sodayne adventure; and fayn wolde I have lerned, how vertues shulden ben knowen; in whiche thinges, I hope to god, here-after she shal me enfourmen; and namely, sithen her restinge-place is now so nygh at my wil; and anon al5 these thinges that this lady said, I remembred me by my-selfe, and[ ] revolved the †lynes of myne understondinge wittes. Tho found I fully al these maters parfitly there written, how mis-rule by fayned love bothe realmes and citees hath governed a greet throwe; how lightly me might the fautes espye; how rules in love10 shulde ben used; how somtyme with fayned love foule I was begyled; how I shulde love have knowe; and how I shal in love with my service procede. Also furthermore I found , of perdurable letters wonderly there graven, these maters whiche I shal nempne. Certes, non age ne other thing in erthe may the leest sillable of15 this in no poynte deface, but clerely as the sonne in myne understandinge soule they shynen. This may never out of my mynde, how I may not my love kepe, but thorow willinge in herte; wilne to love may I not, but I lovinge have. Love have I non , but thorow grace of this Margarite-perle. It is no maner doute, that20 wil wol not love but for it is lovinge, as wil wol not rightfully but for it is rightful it-selve. Also wil is not lovinge for he wol love; but he wol love for he is lovinge; it is al oon to †wilne to be lovinge, and lovinges in possession to have. Right so wil wol not25 love, for of love hath he no partie. And yet I denye not lovinge wil [may ] wilne more love to have, whiche that he hath not whan he wolde more than he hath; but I saye, he may no love wilne if he no love have, through which thilke love he shuld wilne. But to have this loving wil may no man of him-selfe, but only through30 grace toforn-going ; right so may no man it kepe, but by grace folowinge. Consider now every man aright, and let seen if that any wight of him-selfe mowe this loving wel gete , and he therof first nothing have; for if it shulde of him-selfe springe , either it muste be willing or not willing. Willing by him-selfe may he it not35 have, sithen him fayleth the mater that shulde it forth bringe . The mater him fayleth; why? He may therof have no knowing til whan grace put it in his herte. Thus willing by him-selfe may he it not have; and not willing, may he it not have. Pardè, every conseyt of every resonable creature otherwyse wil [wol ] not40graunte ; wil in affirmatif with not willing by no way mowe acorde. And although this loving wol come in myn herte by freenesse of arbitrement, as in this booke fully is shewed, yet owe I not therfore as moche alowe my free wil as grace of that Margaryte to me lened . For neyther might I, without grace to-forn going and45afterward folowing, thilke grace gete ne kepe; and lese shal I it never but-if free wil it make , as in willinge otherwyse than grace hath me graunted. For right as whan any person taketh willing to be sobre, and throweth that away, willing to be dronke; or els taketh wil of drinking out of mesure; whiche thing, anon as it is50don , maketh (thorow his owne gilte by free wil) that [he ] leseth his grace. In whiche thing therfore upon the nobley of grace I mote trusten, and my besy cure sette thilke grace to kepe, that my free wil, otherwyse than by reson it shulde werche, cause not my grace to voyde: for thus must I bothe loke to free wil and to55 grace. For right as naturel usage in engendring of children may not ben without †fader , ne also but with the †moder , for neyther †fader ne †moder in begetting may it lacke; right so grace and free wil accorden, and withoute hem bothe may not lovinge wil in no partie ben getten. But yet is not free wil in gettinge of that thing so mokel thank-worthy as is grace, ne in the kepinge therof60 so moche thank deserveth; and yet in gettinge and keping bothe don they accorde. Trewly, often-tyme grace free wil helpeth, in fordoinge of contrarye thinges, that to willinge love not accorden, and †strengtheth wil adversitees to withsitte; wherfore †al-togider to grace oweth to ben accepted, that my willing deserveth. Free65 wil to lovinge in this wyse is accorded. I remembre me wel how al this book (who-so hede taketh) considereth [how ] al thinges to werchinges of mankynde evenly accordeth, as in turning of this worde ‘love’ in-to trouthe or els rightwisnesse, whether that it lyke. For what thing that falleth to man in helping of free70 arbitrement, thilke rightwisnesse to take or els to kepe, thorow whiche a man shal be saved (of whiche thing al this book mencion hath maked), in every poynte therof grace oweth to be thanked. Wherfore I saye, every wight havinge this rightwisnesse rightful is; and yet therfore I fele not in my conscience, that to al75 rightful is behoten the blisse everlastinge, but to hem that ben rightful withouten any unrightfulnesse. Some man after some degree may rightfully ben accompted as chaste men in living, and yet ben they janglers and ful of envy pressed; to hem shal this blisse never ben delivered. For right as very blisse is without al maner80 nede, right so to no man shal it be yeven but to the rightful, voyde from al maner unrightfulnesse founde; so no man to her blisse shal ben folowed, but he be rightful, and with unrightfulnesse not bounde, and in that degree fully be knowe. This rightfulnesse, in as moche as in him-selfe is, of none yvel is it cause; and of al85 maner goodnesse, trewly, it is †moder . This helpeth the spirit to withsitte the leude lustes of flesshly lykinge. This strengtheth and maintayneth the lawe of kynde; and if that otherwhyle me weneth harm of this precious thing to folowe, therthorough is [it ] nothing the cause; of somwhat els cometh it aboute, who-so90[ ] taketh hede. By rightfulnesse forsothe wern many holy sayntes good savour in swetenesse to god almighty; but that to some folkes they weren savour of dethe, in-to deedly ende, that com not of the sayntes rightwisnesse, but of other wicked mennes 95 badnesse hath proceded. Trewly, the ilke wil, whiche that the Lady of Love me lerned ‘affection of wil’ to nempne, which is in willing of profitable thinges, yvel is it not, but whan to flesshly lustes it consenteth ayenst reson of soule. But that this thing more clerely be understande , it is for to knowe, whence and how100 thilke wil is so vicious, and so redy yvel dedes to perfourme. Grace at the ginninge ordeyned thilke wil in goodnesse ever to have endured, and never to badnesse have assented. Men shulde not byleve, that god thilke wil maked to be vicious [in] our firste †faders , as Adam and Eve; for vicious appetytes, and vicious wil105 to suche appetytes consentinge, ben not on thing in kynde; other thing is don for the other. And how this wil first in-to man first assented, I holde it profitable to shewe; but if the first condicion of resonable creature wol be considred and apertly loked, lightly the cause of suche wil may be shewed. Intencion of god was,110 that rightfully and blissed shulde resonable nature ben maked, himselfe for to kepe; but neyther blisful ne rightful might it not be, withouten wil in them bothe. Wil of rightfulnesse is thilke same rightfulnesse, as here-to-forn is shewed; but wil of blisse is not thilke blisse, for every man hath not thilke blisse, in whom115 the wil therof is abydinge. In this blisse, after every understandinge, is suffisaunce of covenable comoditees without any maner nede, whether it be blisse of aungels or els thilke that grace first in paradise suffred Adam to have. For al-though angels blisse be more than Adams was in paradyse, yet may it not120 be †denyed , that Adam in paradyse ne had suffisaunce of blisse; for right as greet herte is without al maner of coldenesse, and yet may another herte more hete have; right so nothing defended Adam in paradyse to ben blessed, without al maner nede . Al-though aungels blisse be moche more, forsothe, it foloweth125 not [that ], lasse than another to have, therfore him nedeth ; but for to wante a thing whiche that behoveth to ben had, that may ‘nede’ ben cleped; and that was not in Adam at the first ginning. God and the Margaryte weten what I mene . Forsothe, where-as is nede, there is wrecchednesse . †God without cause130 to-forngoing made not resonable creature wrecched ; for him to understande and love had he firste maked. God made therfore man blissed without al maner indigence; †togider and at ones took resonable creature blisse, and wil of blissednesse, and wil of rightfulnesse, whiche is rightfulnesse it-selve, and libertee of arbitrement, that is, free wil, with whiche thilke rightfulnesse may135 he kepe and lese. So and in that wyse [god ] ordayned thilke two, that wil (whiche that “instrument” is cleped , as here-toforn mencion is maked) shulde use thilke rightfulnesse, by teching of his soule to good maner of governaunce, in thought and in wordes; and that it shulde use the blisse in obedient maner, withouten140 any incommoditè. Blisse, forsothe, in-to mannes profit , and rightwisnesse in-to his worship god delivered at ones; but rightfulnesse so was yeven that man might it lese, whiche if he not lost had, but continuelly [might ] have it kept , he shulde have deserved the avauncement in-to the felowshippe of angels, in whiche thing145[ ] if he that loste, never by him-selfe forward shulde he it mowe ayenward recovere; and as wel the blisse that he was in, as aungels blisse that to-him-wardes was coming, shulde be nome at ones, and he deprived of hem bothe. And thus fil man un-to lykenesse of unresonable bestes; and with hem to corrupcion and150 unlusty apetytes was he under-throwen. But yet wil of blisse dwelleth, that by indigence of goodes, whiche that he loste through greet wrecchednesse , by right shulde he ben punisshed. And thus, for he weyved rightfulnesse, lost hath he his blisse; but fayle of his desyrin his owne comoditè may he not; and †where155 comodites to his resonable nature whiche he hath lost may he not have, to false lustes, whiche ben bestial appetytes, he is turned. Folye of unconning hath him begyled, in wening that thilke ben the comoditees that owen to ben desyred. This affection of wil by libertè of arbitrement is enduced to wilne thus thing that160 he shulde not; and so is wil not maked yvel but unrightful, by absence of rightfulnesse, whiche thing by reson ever shulde he have. And freenesse of arbitrement may he not wilne, whan he it not haveth; for while he it had, thilke halp it not to kepe; so that without grace may it not ben recovered. Wil of commoditè,165 in-as-moche as unrightful it is maked by willinge of yvellustes, willing of goodnesse may he not wilne; for wil of instrument of affeccion of wil is thralled, sithen that other thing may it not wilne; for wil of instrument to affeccion desyreth, and yet ben bothe they170 ‘wil’ cleped. For that instrument wol, through affeccion it wilneth; and affeccion desyreth thilke thing wherto instrument him ledeth. And so free wil to unlusty affeccion ful servaunt is maked, for unrightfulnesse may he not releve; and without rightfulnesse ful fredom may it never have. For kyndly libertee of arbitrement175 without it, veyne and ydel is, forsothe. Wherfore yet I say, (as often have I sayd the same), whan instrument of wil lost hath rightfulnesse, in no maner but by grace may he ayen retourne rightfulnesse to wilne. For sithen nothing but rightfulnesse alone shulde he wilne, what that ever he wilneth without rightfulnesse,180 unrightfully he it wilneth. These than unrightful appetytes and unthrifty lustes whiche the †flesh desyreth, in as mokel as they ben in kynde, ben they nat bad; but they ben unrightful and badde for they ben in resonable creature, where-as they being, in no waye shulde ben suffred. In unresonable beestes neyther ben they yvel185 ne unrightful; for there is their kynde being.
KNOWEN may it wel ben now of these thinges toforn declared, that man hath not alway thilke rightfulnesse which by dutè of right evermore haven he shulde, and by no way by him-selfe may he it gete ne kepe; and after he it hath, if he it5 lese, recover shal he it never without especial grace. Wherfore the comune sentence of the people in opinion, that every thing[ ] after destenee is ruled, false and wicked is to beleve. For though predestinacion be as wel of good as of badde, sithen that it is sayd, god †hath destenees made, whiche he never ne wrought; but,10 for he suffreth hem to be maked, as that he hardeth, whan he naught missayth , or †let in-to temptacion, whan he not delivereth: wherfore it is noninconvenient if in that maner be sayd, god toforn have destenyed bothe badde and her badde werkes, whan hem ne their yvel dedes [he ] neyther amendeth ne therto hem15 grace †leneth . But specialliche, predestinacion of goodnesse alone is sayd by these grete clerkes; for in him god doth that they ben, and that in goodnesse they werchen. But the negatif herof in badnesse is holden, as the Lady of Love hath me lerned, who-so aright in this booke loketh. And utterly it is to weten, that predestinacion properly in god may not ben demed, no more20 than beforn-weting . For in the chapitre of goddes beforn-weting , as Love me rehersed, al these maters apertly may ben founden. Al thinges to god ben now †togider and in presence duringe. Trewly, presence and predestinacion in nothing disacorden; wherfore, as I was lerned how goddes before-weting and free25 choice of wil mowe stonden †togider , me thinketh the same reson me ledeth , that destenye and free wil accorden, so that neyther of hem bothe to other in nothing contrarieth. And resonabliche may it not ben demed , as often as any thing falleth [thorow ] free wil werching (as if a man another man wrongfully anoyeth, wherfore30 he him sleeth), that it be constrayned to that ende, as mokel folk cryeth and sayth: ‘Lo, as it was destenyed of god toforn knowe , so it is thorow necessitè falle, and otherwyse might it not betyde.’ Trewly, neyther he that the wrong wrought, ne he that him-selfe venged, none of thilke thinges thorow necessitè wrought;35 for if that [oon ] with free wil there had it not willed, neyther had [he ] wrought that he perfourmed; and so utterly grace, that free wil in goodnesse bringeth and kepeth, and fro badnesse it tourneth, in al thinge moste thank deserveth. This grace maketh sentence in vertue to abyde, wherfore in body and in soule, in ful40plentee of conninge, after their good deserving in the everlastinge joye , after the day of dome shul they endelesse dwelle ; and they shul ben lerned in that kingdom with so mokel affect of love and of grace, that the leste joye shal of the gretest in glorie rejoice and ben gladded, as if he the same joye had. What wonder,45[ ] sith god is the gretest love and the *gretest wisdom? In hem shal he be, and they in god. Now than, whan al false folk be ashamed, which wenen al bestialtè and erthly thing be sweter and better to the body than hevenly is to the soule; this is the grace and the frute that I long have desyred; it doth me good the50 savour to smelle .
[ ]Crist , now to thee I crye of mercy and of grace; and graunt, of thy goodnes, to every maner reder ful understanding in this leude pamflet to have; and let no man wene other cause in55 this werke than is verily the soth. For envy is ever redy, al innocentes to shende; wherfore I wolde that good speche envy evermore hinder.
But no man wene this werke be sufficiently maked; for goddes werke passeth man[ne]s ; no man[ne]s wit to parfit werke may by no60 way purvay th’ende. How shuld I than, so leude, aught wene of perfeccion any ende to gete ? Never-the-later, grace, glorie, and laude I yelde and putte with worshipful reverences to the sothfast god, in three with unitè closed, whiche that the hevy langour of my sicknesse hath turned in-to mirthe of helth to recover. For65 right as I was sorowed thorow the gloton cloud of manifolde sickly sorow, so mirth [of ] ayencoming helth hath me glad[d]ed and gretly comforted. I beseche and pray therfore, and I crye on goddes gret pitè and on his mokel mercy, that this[e] present scorges of my flessh mow maken medecyne and lechecraft of70 my inner man[ne]s helth; so that my passed trespas and tenes through weping of myn eyen ben wasshe, and I, voyded from al maner disese, and no more to wepe herafter, y-now be kept thorow goddes grace; so that goddes hand , whiche that merciably me hath scorged, herafter in good plite from thence merciably me75 kepe and defende.
In this boke be many privy thinges wimpled and folde; unneth shul leude men the plites unwinde. Wherfore I pray to the holy gost, he lene of his oyntmentes, mennes wittes to clere; and, for goddes love, no man wonder why or how this question come to80 my mynde. For my greet lusty desyr was of this lady to ben enfourmed, my leudenesse to amende. Certes, I knowe not other mennes wittes, what I shulde aske, or in answere what I shulde saye; I am so leude my-selfe, that mokel more lerninge yet me behoveth. I have mad therfore as I coude, but not85 sufficiently as I wolde, and as mater yave me sentence; for my[ ] dul wit is hindred by †stepmoder of foryeting and with cloude of unconning, that stoppeth the light of my Margarite-perle, wherfore it may not shyne on me as it shulde. I desyre not only a good reder, but also I coveite and pray a good book-amender , in correccion of wordes and of sentence; and only this90 mede I coveite for my travayle, that every inseër and herer of this leude fantasye devoute horisons and prayers to god the greet juge yelden; and prayen for me in that wyse, that in his dome my sinnes mowe ben relesed and foryeven. He that prayeth for other for him-selfe travayleth.95
Also I praye, that every man parfitly mowe knowe thorow what intencion of herte this tretys have I drawe. How was it, that[ ] sightful manna in deserte to children of Israel was spirituel mete ? Bodily also it was, for mennes bodies it †norisshed ; and yet, never-the-later, Crist it signifyed. Right so a jewel100 betokeneth a gemme, and that is a stoon vertuous or els a perle. Margarite, a woman, betokeneth grace, lerning, or wisdom of god, or els holy church. If breed, thorow vertue, is mad holy[ ] flesshe, what is that our god sayth ? ‘It is the spirit that yeveth lyf ; the flesshe, of nothing it profiteth.’ Flesshe is flesshly105 understandinge; flessh without grace and love naught is worth.[ ] ‘The letter sleeth; the spirit yeveth lyfelich understanding.’ Charitè is love; and love is charitè.
[P. 26, l. 45.]For conuersion read conversion.
[P. 32, l. 38.]Mr. Bradley suggests that maistresse is a misprint of Thynne’s for maistres secrè, i. e. master’s secret; alluding to John of Northampton.
[P. 33, l. 75.]For may it be sayd in that thinge ‘this man thou demest, read may it be sayd, ‘in that thinge this man thou demest,
[P. 50, l. 28.]For in sacke, sowed with wolle perhaps read in sacke sowed, with wolle.
[P. 52, ll. 107, 109.]Mr. Bradley suggests that ‘Caynes’ and ‘Cayn’ are Thynne’s misprints for ‘Cames’ and ‘Cam’; where Cam (misread as Cain) means Ham, for which the Vulgate has Cham.
[2. ]delyciousnesse; (and elsewhere, y is often replaced by i).
[5. ]Sothely. wytte.
[8. ]inrest poynte.
[10. ]spring. boke. great floode.
[23. ]gret delyte.
[28. ]englysshe; supply of. englyssh-.
[29. ]Howe. borne.
[31. ]englyssh. englyssh-.
[35. ]facultie. lette.
[39. ]boke. thanke worthy.
[45. ]I supply perfeccion is; to make sense. soueraynst.
[46. ]creature (sic). reasonable.
[47, 50. ]perfection.
[47. ]sythe reason.
[54. ]Nowe. meane.
[56. ]be (for by).
[60. ]I supply of. parfyte.
[62. ]delyte (this sentence is corrupt).
[66, 67. ]thynges consydred. Forsoth (sic).
[68. ]great. me (sic); for men.
[72. ]great. Supply of.
[75. ]matters of reason. perfection.
[83. ]dyseases. boke.
[94. ]wote. made.
[98. ]gathered. toforne.
[100. ]made. great. plentyes.
[102. ]reason. hayn (sic).
[106. ]fullyn. amonge.
[118. ]study (sic).
[121. ]lyfelyche meate.
[122. ]betiden (sic); past tense.
[123. ]wether. measure.
[124. ]wynde Borias. kynde.
[127. ]spyl. (rubric) boke.
[6. ]disease outwarde.
[9. ]hell. dethe.
[14. ]dwellynge-. wytlesse.
[15. ]syghtlesse. prisone.
[16. ]caytisned (for caytifued).
[17. ]wode (!); for worde; read word.
[18. ]made. reason. herde.
[22. ]For be-went, Th. has be-went.
[25. ]wyl of; apparently an error for whyles (which I adopt). luste.
[26. ]dede (for drede).
[28. ]twynckelynge. disease.
[29. ]lette (twice). dey. measure.
[30. ]myne. comforte.
[31. ]diseased. maye. aueyle.
[33. ]wote; myne hert breaketh.
[34. ]howe. grounde. forthe.
[35. ]howe. shippe. great.
[39. ]nowe. sayne.
[40. ]arte. weate.
[45. ]stey. endlesse.
[46. ]wotte. I supply am. spurveyde. arte. nowe.
[47. ]frenshyppe (sic).
[48. ]nowe arte.
[59. ]frendes (sic); for ferdnes; cf. p. 9, l. 9.
[61. ]great. bounties.
[63. ]veyned (sic); for weyued.
[64. ]shapte. Nowe.
[72. ]ease. sythe.
[74. ]wote. wemme ne spotte maye.
[75. ]Read unimaginable.
[77. ]knytte. fal.
[78. ]wol wel (for wot wel).
[80. ]sonded; read souded. maye.
[81. ]pleased. charyte.
[83. ]comforte. fal.
[85. ]out caste. daye. se.
[89. ]perfectyon. knytte. dethe.
[91. ]togyther is endelesse in blysse (!). dwel.
[94. ]great. Nowe.
[95. ]arte wonte.
[98. ]Nowe. haste.
[100. ]I supply ther.
[112, 113. ]trewly and leue; read trewly I leve.
[117. ](The sentence beginning O, alas seems hopelessly corrupt; there are pause-marks after vertues and wonderful.)
[118. ]folowynge; read flowinge. by; read of.
[122. ]caytife. inrest. disease. lefte.
[126. ]ioleynynge (sic).
[130. ]the lyst none.
[134. ]qualites of comforte. worthe.
[3. ]tel howe. holy.
[6. ]feare. folke.
[7. ]done. disease.
[12. ]disease. meane.
[13. ]frendes; read ferdnes; see l. 16. perfytely. I supply but and by.
[16. ]aforne. ferdenesse.
[18. ]lodged. moste.
[21. ]comforte sodaynely. dothe.
[23. ]myne. beganne.
[27. ]prisone. leaue.
[28. ]al-thoughe. stretchen.
[31. ]wretched hyd. thynge.
[37. ]wenyst. foryet.
[39. ]frenshippes. alyes.
[42, 43. ]maye.
[46. ]honny. paradise.
[47. ]comforte. howe.
[52. ]the. disease haste. Woste.
[54. ]worshyppe. the. thyne.
[58. ]graunt thyne.
[62. ]wotte. none.
[69. ]Nowe. se.
[70. ]wytte in the. I supply thou. arte.
[75. ]shepe. arne.
[78. ]tho. shepe. loste.
[81. ]put. forthe. let. loste.
[82. ]shepeherde. lyfe. loste.
[83. ]shepe. shalte.
[91. ]Haste. radde howe.
[93. ]For false read faire. howe Sesars sonke (sic); corrupt.
[96. ]chese. put.
[97. ]howe. thanke.
[98. ]rest. home; read whom.
[101. ]haste. the.
[102. ]ayenwarde. made.
[103. ]put the.
[104. ]the. reason. discase.
[106. ]shalte. haste.
[107. ]Haste. herde. howe.
[112. ]cyties. the. cleape.
[120. ]se the in disease.
[121. ]wote. arte one. maye. the.
[137. ]encrease. maye.
[139. ]great. wherthroughe. arte. arne no-thinge.
[141. ]thus as I; om. as.
[143. ]endeynous; read ben deynous. wretches.
[148. ]beare. the lythe.
[155. ]perfection. Howe.
[157. ]counsayle maye. hydde.
[162. ]doone aldaye.
[164. ]done. nowe.
[169. ]reason. aperte.
[171. ]faythe. the.
[183. ]anone. fyght. maye.
[184. ]withsay. the.
[195. ]maye. transners.
[1. ]gladed; see l. 5.
[5. ]nowe. comforte.
[10. ]the (twice).
[13. ]one. arte.
[15. ]sene. comforte.
[17. ]Nowe. comforte.
[25. ]the. set.
[33. ]great. forthe. corne.
[35. ]plentie. lyste.
[38. ]I supply Tho gan I.
[43. ]great. great.
[44. ]gone; read gonne.
[52. ]many; read meynee. knewe.
[55. ]sayle. shyppe.
[59. ]kepte. storme.
[61, 62. ]nowe.
[62, 64. ]great.
[63. ]wethers; read weders.
[64. ]I supply of.
[65. ]as; read at.
[72. ]great. disease.
[76. ]lad. ware.
[77. ]great. amonge.
[79. ]to-forne came.
[83. ]peace. great.
[112. ]nowe. helpe.
[114. ]helpe. howe.