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Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 2 (Boethius, Troilus) 
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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INTRODUCTION TO BOETHIUS.
Date of the Work.
In my introductory remarks to the Legend of Good Women, I refer to the close connection that is easily seen to subsist between Chaucer’s translation of Boethius and his Troilus and Criseyde. All critics seem now to agree in placing these two works in close conjunction, and in making the prose work somewhat the earlier of the two; though it is not at all unlikely that, for a short time, both works were in hand together. It is also clear that they were completed before the author commenced the House of Fame, the date of which is, almost certainly, about 1383-4. Dr. Koch, in his Essay on the Chronology of Chaucer’s Writings, proposes to date ‘Boethius’ about 1377-8, and ‘Troilus’ about 1380-1. It is sufficient to be able to infer, as we can with tolerable certainty, that these two works belong to the period between 1377 and 1383. And we may also feel sure that the well-known lines to Adam, beginning—
were composed at the time when the fair copy of Troilus had just been finished, and may be dated, without fear of mistake, in 1381-3. It is not likely that we shall be able to determine these dates within closer limits; nor is it at all necessary that we should be able to do so. A few further remarks upon this subject are given below.
Before proceeding to remark upon Chaucer’s translation of Boethius, or (as he calls him) Boece, it is necessary to say a few words as to the original work, and its author.
Anicius Manlius Torquatus Severinus Boethius, the most learned philosopher of his time, was born at Rome about ad 480, and was put to death ad 524. In his youth, he had the advantage of a liberal training, and enjoyed the rare privilege of being able to read the Greek philosophers in their own tongue. In the particular treatise which here most concerns us, his Greek quotations are mostly taken from Plato, and there are a few references to Aristotle, Homer, and to the Andromache of Euripides. His extant works shew that he was well acquainted with geometry, mechanics, astronomy, and music, as well as with logic and theology; and it is an interesting fact that an illustration of the way in which waves of sound are propagated through the air, introduced by Chaucer into his House of Fame, ll. 788-822, is almost certainly derived from the treatise of Boethius De Musica, as pointed out in the note upon that passage. At any rate, there is an unequivocal reference to ‘the felinge’ of Boece ‘in musik’ in the Nonnes Preestes Tale, B 4484.
§ 3. The most important part of his political life was passed in the service of the celebrated Theodoric the Goth, who, after the defeat and death of Odoacer, ad 493, had made himself undisputed master of Italy, and had fixed the seat of his government in Ravenna. The usual account, that Boethius was twice married, is now discredited, there being no clear evidence with respect to Elpis, the name assigned to his supposed first wife; but it is certain that he married Rusticiana, the daughter of the patrician Symmachus, a man of great influence and probity, and much respected, who had been consul under Odoacer in 485. Boethius had the singular felicity of seeing his two sons, Boethius and Symmachus, raised to the consular dignity on the same day, in 522. After many years spent in indefatigable study and great public usefulness, he fell under the suspicion of Theodoric; and, notwithstanding an indignant denial of his supposed crimes, was hurried away to Pavia, where he was imprisoned in a tower, and denied the means of justifying his conduct. The rest must be told in the eloquent words of Gibbon1 .
‘While Boethius, oppressed with fetters, expected each moment the sentence or the stroke of death, he composed in the tower of Pavia the “Consolation of Philosophy”; a golden volume, not unworthy of the leisure of Plato or Tully, but which claims incomparable merit from the barbarism of the times and the situation of the author. The celestial guide1 , whom he had so long invoked at Rome and at Athens, now condescended to illumine his dungeon, to revive his courage, and to pour into his wounds her salutary balm. She taught him to compare his long prosperity and his recent distress, and to conceive new hopes from the inconstancy of fortune2 . Reason had informed him of the precarious condition of her gifts; experience had satisfied him of their real value3 ; he had enjoyed them without guilt; he might resign them without a sigh, and calmly disdain the impotent malice of his enemies, who had left him happiness, since they had left him virtue4 . From the earth, Boethius ascended to heaven in search of the supreme good5 , explored the metaphysical labyrinth of chance and destiny6 , of prescience and freewill, of time and eternity, and generously attempted to reconcile the perfect attributes of the Deity with the apparent disorders of his moral and physical government7 . Such topics of consolation, so obvious, so vague, or so abstruse, are ineffectual to subdue the feelings of human nature. Yet the sense of misfortune may be diverted by the labour of thought; and the sage who could artfully combine, in the same work, the various riches of philosophy, poetry, and eloquence, must already have possessed the intrepid calmness which he affected to seek. Suspense, the worst of evils, was at length determined by the ministers of death, who executed, and perhaps exceeded, the inhuman mandate of Theodoric. A strong cord was fastened round the head of Boethius, and forcibly tightened till his eyes almost started from their sockets; and some mercy may be discovered in the milder torture of beating him with clubs till he expired. But his genius survived to diffuse a ray of knowledge over the darkest ages of the Latin world; the writings of the philosopher were translated by the most glorious of the English Kings, and the third emperor of the name of Otho removed to a more honourable tomb the bones of a catholic saint, who, from his Arian persecutors, had acquired the honours of martyrdom and the fame of miracles. In the last hours of Boethius, he derived some comfort from the safety of his two sons, of his wife, and of his father-in-law, the venerable Symmachus. But the grief of Symmachus was indiscreet, and perhaps disrespectful; he had presumed to lament, he might dare to revenge, the death of an injured friend. He was dragged in chains from Rome to the palace of Ravenna; and the suspicions of Theodoric could only be appeased by the blood of an innocent and aged senator.’
This deed of injustice brought small profit to its perpetrator; for we read that Theodoric’s own death took place shortly afterwards; and that, on his death-bed, ‘he expressed in broken murmurs to his physician Elpidius, his deep repentance for the murders of Boethius and Symmachus.’
§ 4. For further details, I beg leave to refer the reader to the essay on ‘Boethius’ by H. F. Stewart, published by W. Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, in 1891. We are chiefly concerned here with the ‘Consolation of Philosophy,’ a work which enjoyed great popularity in the middle ages, and first influenced Chaucer indirectly, through the use of it made by Jean de Meun in the poem entitled Le Roman de la Rose, as well as directly, at a later period, through his own translation of it. Indeed, I have little doubt that Chaucer’s attention was drawn to it when, somewhat early in life, he first perused with diligence that remarkable poem; and that it was from the following passage that he probably drew the inference that it might be well for him to translate the whole work:—
I. e. in modern English:—‘This can be easily ascertained from the learned men who read Boece on the Consolation of Philosophy, and the opinions which are found therein; as to which, any one who would well translate it for them would confer much benefit on the unlearned folk’:—a pretty strong hint1 !
§ 5. The chief events in the life of Boethius which are referred to in the present treatise are duly pointed out in the notes; and it may be well to bear in mind that, as to some of these, nothing further is known beyond what the author himself tells us. Most of the personal references occur in Book i. Prose 4, Book ii. Prose 3, and in Book iii. Prose 4. In the first of these passages, Boethius recalls the manner in which he withstood one Conigastus, because he oppressed the poor (l. 40); and how he defeated the iniquities of Triguilla, ‘provost’ (præpositus) of the royal household (l. 43). He takes credit for defending the people of Campania against a particularly obnoxious fiscal measure instituted by Theodoric, which was called ‘coemption’ (coemptio); (l. 59.) This Mr. Stewart describes as ‘a fiscal measure which allowed the state to buy provisions for the army at something under market-price—which threatened to ruin the province.’ He tells us that he rescued Decius Paulinus, who had been consul in 498, from the rapacity of the officers of the royal palace (l. 68); and that, in order to save Decius Albinus, who had been consul in 493, from wrongful punishment, he ran the risk of incurring the hate of the informer Cyprian (l. 75). In these ways, he had rendered himself odious to the court-party, whom he had declined to bribe (l. 79). His accusers were Basilius, who had been expelled from the king’s service, and was impelled to accuse him by pressure of debt (l. 81); and Opilio and Gaudentius, who had been sentenced to exile by royal decree for their numberless frauds and crimes, but had escaped the sentence by taking sanctuary. ‘And when,’ as he tells us, ‘the king discovered this evasion, he gave orders that, unless they quitted Ravenna by a given day, they should be branded on the forehead with a hot iron and driven out of the city. Nevertheless on that very day the information laid against me by these men was admitted’ (ll. 89-94). He next alludes to some forged letters (l. 123), by means of which he had been accused of ‘hoping for the freedom of Rome,’ (which was of course interpreted to mean that he wished to deliver Rome from the tyranny of Theodoric). He then boldly declares that if he had had the opportunity of confronting his accusers, he would have answered in the words of Canius, when accused by Caligula of having been privy to a conspiracy against him—‘If I had known it, thou shouldst never have known it’ (ll. 126-135). This, by the way, was rather an imprudent expression, and probably told against him when his case was considered by Theodoric.
He further refers to an incident that took place at Verona (l. 153), when the king, eager for a general slaughter of his enemies, endeavoured to extend to the whole body of the senate the charge of treason, of which Albinus had been accused; on which occasion, at great personal risk, Boethius had defended the senate against so sweeping an accusation.
In Book ii. Prose 3, he refers to his former state of happiness and good fortune (l. 26), when he was blessed with rich and influential parents-in-law, with a beloved wife, and with two noble sons; in particular (l. 35), he speaks with justifiable pride of the day when his sons were both elected consuls together, and when, sitting in the Circus between them, he won general praise for his wit and eloquence.
In Book iii. Prose 4, he declaims against Decoratus, with whom he refused to be associated in office, on account of his infamous character.
§ 6. The chief source of further information about these circumstances is a collection of letters (Variæ Epistolæ) by Cassiodorus, a statesman who enjoyed the full confidence of Theodoric, and collected various state-papers under his direction. These tell us, in some measure, what can be said on the other side. Here Cyprian and his brother Opilio are spoken of with respect and honour; and the only Decoratus whose name appears is spoken of as a young man of great promise, who had won the king’s sincere esteem. But when all has been said, the reader will most likely be inclined to think that, in cases of conflicting evidence, he would rather take the word of the noble Boethius than that of any of his opponents.
§ 7. The treatise ‘De Consolatione Philosophiæ’ is written in the form of a discourse between himself and the personification of Philosophy, who appears to him in his prison, and endeavours to soothe and console him in his time of trial. It is divided (as in this volume) into five Books; and each Book is subdivided into chapters, entitled Metres and Proses, because, in the original, the alternate chapters are written in a metrical form, the metres employed being of various kinds. Thus Metre 1 of Book I is written in alternate hexameters and pentameters; while Metre 7 consists of very short lines, each consisting of a single dactyl and spondee. The Proses contain the main arguments; the Metres serve for embellishment and recreation.
In some MSS. of Chaucer’s translation, a few words of the original are quoted at the beginning of each Prose and Metre, and are duly printed in this edition, in a corrected form.
§ 8. A very brief sketch of the general contents of the volume may be of some service.
Book I. Boethius deplores his misfortunes (met. 1). Philosophy appears to him in a female form (pr. 2), and condoles with him in song (met. 2); after which she addresses him, telling him that she is willing to share his misfortunes (pr. 3). Boethius pours out his complaints, and vindicates his past conduct (pr. 4). Philosophy reminds him that he seeks a heavenly country (pr. 5). The world is not governed by chance (pr. 6). The book concludes with a lay of hope (met. 7).
Book II. Philosophy enlarges on the wiles of Fortune (pr. 1), and addresses him in Fortune’s name, asserting that her mutability is natural and to be expected (pr. 2). Adversity is transient (pr. 3), and Boethius has still much to be thankful for (pr. 4). Riches only bring anxieties, and cannot confer happiness (pr. 5); they were unknown in the Golden Age (met. 5). Neither does happiness consist in honours and power (pr. 6). The power of Nero only taught him cruelty (met. 6). Fame is but vanity (pr. 7), and is ended by death (met. 7). Adversity is beneficial (pr. 8). All things are bound together by the chain of Love (met. 8).
Book III. Boethius begins to receive comfort (pr. 1). Philosophy discourses on the search for the Supreme Good (summum bonum; pr. 2). The laws of nature are immutable (met. 2). All men are engaged in the pursuit of happiness (pr. 3). Dignities properly appertain to virtue (pr. 4). Power cannot drive away care (pr. 5). Glory is deceptive, and the only true nobility is that of character (pr. 6). Happiness does not consist in corporeal pleasures (pr. 7); nor in bodily strength or beauty (pr. 8). Worldly bliss is insufficient and false; and in seeking true felicity, we must invoke God’s aid (pr. 9). Boethius sings a hymn to the Creator (met. 9); and acknowledges that God alone is the Supreme Good (p. 10). The unity of soul and body is necessary to existence, and the love of life is instinctive (pr. 11). Error is dispersed by the light of Truth (met. 11). God governs the world, and is all-sufficient, whilst evil has no true existence (pr. 12). The book ends with the story of Orpheus (met. 12).
Book IV. This book opens with a discussion of the existence of evil, and the system of rewards and punishments (pr. 1). Boethius describes the flight of Imagination through the planetary spheres till it reaches heaven itself (met. 1). The good are strong, but the wicked are powerless, having no real existence (pr. 2). Tyrants are chastised by their own passions (met. 2). Virtue secures reward; but the wicked lose even their human nature, and become as mere beasts (pr. 3). Consider the enchantments of Circe, though these merely affected the outward form (met. 4). The wicked are thrice wretched; they will to do evil, they can do evil, and they actually do it. Virtue is its own reward; so that the wicked should excite our pity (pr. 4). Here follows a poem on the folly of war (met. 4). Boethius inquires why the good suffer (pr. 5). Philosophy reminds him that the motions of the stars are inexplicable to one who does not understand astronomy (met. 5). She explains the difference between Providence and Destiny (pr. 6). In all nature we see concord, due to controlling Love (met. 6). All fortune is good; for punishment is beneficial (pr. 7). The labours of Hercules afford us an example of endurance (met. 7).
Book V. Boethius asks questions concerning Chance (pr. 1). An example from the courses of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates (met. 1). Boethius asks questions concerning Free-will (pr. 2). God, who sees all things, is the true Sun (met. 2). Boethius is puzzled by the consideration of God’s Predestination and man’s Free-will (pr. 3). Men are too eager to inquire into the unknown (met. 3). Philosophy replies to Boethius on the subjects of Predestination, Necessity, and the nature of true Knowledge (pr. 4); on the impressions received by the mind (met. 4); and on the powers of Sense and Imagination (pr. 5). Beasts look downward to the earth, but man is upright, and looks up to heaven (met. 5). This world is not eternal, but only God is such; whose prescience is not subject to necessity, nor altered by human intentions. He upholds the good, and condemns the wicked; therefore be constant in eschewing vice, and devote all thy powers to the love of virtue (pr. 6).
§ 9. It is unnecessary to enlarge here upon the importance of this treatise, and its influence upon medieval literature. Mr. Stewart, in the work already referred to, has an excellent chapter ‘On Some Ancient Translations’ of it. The number of translations that still exist, in various languages, sufficiently testify to its extraordinary popularity in the middle ages. Copies of it are found, for example, in Old High German by Notker, and in later German by Peter of Kastl; in Anglo-French by Simun de Fraisne; in continental French by Jean de Meun1 , Pierre de Paris, Jehan de Cis, Frere Renaut de Louhans, and by two anonymous authors; in Italian, by Alberto della Piagentina and several others; in Greek, by Maximus Planudes; and in Spanish, by Fra Antonio Ginebreda; besides various versions in later times. But the most interesting, to us, are those in English, which are somewhat numerous, and are worthy of some special notice. I shall here dismiss, as improbable and unnecessary, a suggestion sometimes made, that Chaucer may have consulted some French version in the hope of obtaining assistance from it; there is no sure trace of anything of the kind, and the internal evidence is, in my opinion, decisively against it.
§ 10. The earliest English translation is that by king Ælfred, which is particularly interesting from the fact that the royal author frequently deviates from his original, and introduces various notes, explanations, and allusions of his own. The opening chapter, for example, is really a preface, giving a brief account of Theodoric and of the circumstances which led to the imprisonment of Boethius. This work exists only in two MSS., neither being of early date, viz. MS. Cotton, Otho A VI, and MS. Bodley NE. C. 3. 11. It has been thrice edited; by Rawlinson, in 1698; by J. S. Cardale, in 1829; and by S. Fox, in 1864. The last of these includes a modern English translation, and forms one of the volumes of Bohn’s Antiquarian Library; so that it is a cheap and accessible work. Moreover, it contains an alliterative verse translation of most of the Metres contained in Boethius (excluding the Proses), which is also attributed to Ælfred in a brief metrical preface; but whether this ascription is to be relied upon, or not, is a difficult question, which has hardly as yet been decided. A summary of the arguments, for and against Ælfred’s authorship, will be found in Wülker’s Grundriss zur Geschichte der angelsächsischen Litteratur, pp. 421-435.
§ 11. I may here mention that there is a manuscript copy of this work by Boethius, in the original Latin, in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, No. 214, which contains a considerable number of Anglo-Saxon glosses. A description of this MS., by Prof. J. W. Bright and myself, is printed in the American Journal of Philology, vol. v, no. 4.
§ 12. The next English translation, in point of date, is Chaucer’s; concerning which I have more to say below.
§ 13. In the year 1410, we meet with a verse translation of the whole treatise, ascribed by Warton (Hist. E. Poetry, § 20, ed. 1871, iii. 39) to John Walton, Capellanus, or John the Chaplain, a canon of Oseney. ‘In the British Museum,’ says Warton, ‘there is a correct MS. on parchment1 of Walton’s translation of Boethius; and the margin is filled throughout with the Latin text, written by Chaundler above mentioned [i. e. Thomas Chaundler, among other preferments dean of the king’s chapel and of Hereford Cathedral, chancellor of Wells, and successively warden of Wykeham’s two colleges at Winchester and Oxford.] There is another less elegant MS. in the same collection2 . But at the end is this note:— ‘Explicit liber Boecij de Consolatione Philosophie de Latino in Anglicum translatus ad 1410, per Capellanum Ioannem. This is the beginning of the prologue:—“In suffisaunce of cunnyng and witte1 .” And of the translation:—“Alas, I wrecch, that whilom was in welth.” I have seen a third copy in the library of Lincoln cathedral2 , and a fourth in Baliol college3 . This is the translation of Boethius printed in the monastery of Tavistock in 15254 , and in octave stanzas. This translation was made at the request of Elizabeth Berkeley.’
Todd, in his Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer, p. xxxi, mentions another MS. ‘in the possession of Mr. G. Nicol, his Majesty’s bookseller,’ in which the above translation is differently attributed in the colophon, which ends thus: ‘translatus anno domini millesimo ccccxo. per Capellanum Iohannem Tebaud, alius Watyrbeche.’ This can hardly be correct5 .
I may here note that this verse translation has two separate Prologues. One Prologue gives a short account of Boethius and his times, and is extant in MS. Gg. iv. 18 in the Cambridge University Library. An extract from the other is quoted below. MS. E Museo 53, in the Bodleian Library, contains both of them.
§ 14. As to the work itself, Metre 1 of Book i. and Metre 5 of the same are printed entire in Wülker’s Altenglisches Lesebuch, ii. 56-9. In one of the metrical prologues to the whole work the following passage occurs, which I copy from MS. Royal 18 A xiii:—
This is an early tribute to the excellence of Chaucer and Gower as poets.
§ 15. When we examine Walton’s translation a little more closely, it soon becomes apparent that he has largely availed himself of Chaucer’s prose translation, which he evidently kept before him as a model of language. For example, in Bk. ii. met. 5, l. 16, Chaucer has the expression:—‘tho weren the cruel clariouns ful hust and ful stille.’ This reappears in one of Walton’s lines in the form:—‘Tho was ful huscht the cruel clarioun.’ This is poetry made easy, no doubt.
In order to exhibit this a little more fully, I here transcribe the whole of Walton’s translation of this metre, which may be compared with Chaucer’s rendering at pp. 40, 41 below. I print in italics all the words which are common to the two versions, so as to shew this curious result, viz. that Walton was here more indebted to Chaucer, than Chaucer, when writing his poem of ‘The Former Age,’ was to himself. The MS. followed is the Royal MS. mentioned above (p. xvi).
Boethius: Book II: Meter V.
§ 16. MS. Auct. F. 3. 5, in the Bodleian Library, contains a prose translation, different from Chaucer’s. After this, the next translation seems to be one by George Colvile; the title is thus given by Lowndes: ‘Boetius de Consolatione Philosophiæ, translated by George Coluile, alias Coldewel. London: by John Cawoode; 1556. 4to.’ This work was dedicated to Queen Mary, and reprinted in 1561; and again, without date.
There is an unprinted translation, in hexameters and other metres, in the British Museum (MS. Addit. 11401), by Bracegirdle, temp. Elizabeth. See Warton, ed. Hazlitt, iii. 39, note 6.
Lowndes next mentions a translation by J. T., printed at London in 1609, 12mo.
A translation ‘Anglo-Latine expressus per S. E. M.’ was printed at London in quarto, in 1654, according to Hazlitt’s Hand-book to Popular Literature.
Next, a translation into English verse by H. Conningesbye, in 1664, 12mo.
The next is thus described: ‘Of the Consolation of Philosophy, made English and illustrated with Notes by the Right Hon. Richard (Graham) Lord Viscount Preston. London; 1695, 8vo. Second edition, corrected; London; 1712, 8vo.’
A translation by W. Causton was printed in London in 1730; 8vo.
A translation by the Rev. Philip Ridpath, printed in London in 1785, 8vo., is described by Lowndes as ‘an excellent translation with very useful notes, and a life of Boethius, drawn up with great accuracy and fidelity.’
A translation by R. Duncan was printed at Edinburgh in 1789, 8vo.; and an anonymous translation, described by Lowndes as ‘a pitiful performance,’ was printed in London in 1792, 8vo.
In a list of works which the Early English Text Society proposes shortly to print, we are told that ‘Miss Pemberton has sent to press her edition of the fragments of Queen Elizabeth’s Englishings (in the Record Office) from Boethius, Plutarch, &c.’
§ 17. I now return to the consideration of Chaucer’s translation, as printed in the present volume.
I do not think the question as to the probable date of its composition need detain us long. It is so obviously connected with ‘Troilus’ and the ‘House of Fame,’ which it probably did not long precede, that we can hardly be wrong in dating it, as said above, about 1377-1380; or, in round numbers, about 1380 or a little earlier. I quite agree with Mr. Stewart (Essay, p. 226), that, ‘it is surely most reasonable to connect its composition with those poems which contain the greatest number of recollections and imitations of his original;’ and I see no reason for ascribing it, with Professor Morley (English Writers, v. 144), to Chaucer’s youth. Even Mr. Stewart is so incautious as to suggest that Chaucer’s ‘acquaintance with the works of the Roman philosopher . . . . would seem to date from about the year 1369, when he wrote the Deth of Blaunche.’ When we ask for some tangible evidence of this statement, we are simply referred to the following passages in that poem, viz. the mention of ‘Tityus (588); of Fortune the debonaire (623); Fortune the monster (627); Fortune’s capriciousness and her rolling wheel (634, 642); Tantalus (708); the mind compared to a clean parchment (778); and Alcibiades (1055-6);’ see Essay, p. 267. In every one of these instances, I believe the inference to be fallacious, and that Chaucer got all these illustrations, at second hand, from Le Roman de la Rose. As a matter of fact, they are all to be found there; and I find, on reference, that I have, in most instances, already given the parallel passages in my notes. However, to make the matter clearer, I repeat them here.
Book Duch. 588. Cf.
Book Duch. 623.
I cannot give the exact reference, because Jean de Meun’s description of the various moods of Fortune extends to a portentous length. Chaucer reproduces the general impression which a perusal of the poem leaves on the mind. However, take ll. 4860-62 of Le Roman:—
Surely ‘debonaire’ in Chaucer is rather French than Latin. And see debonaire in the E. version of the Romaunt, l. 5412.
Book Duch. 627.
As the second of the above lines from the Book of the Duchesse is obviously taken from Le Roman, it is probable that the first is also; but it is a hard task to discover the particular word monstre in this vast poem. However, I find it, in l. 4917, with reference to Fortune; and her wheel is not far off, six lines above.
B. D. 634, 642. Fortune’s capriciousness is treated of by Jean de Meun at intolerable length, ll. 4863-8492; and elsewhere. As to her wheel, it is continually rolling through his verses; see ll. 4911, 5366, 5870, 5925, 6172, 6434, 6648, 6880, &c.
B. D. 708. Cf. Et de fain avec Tentalus; R. R. 19482.
B. D. 778. Not from Le Roman, nor from Boethius, but from Machault’s Remède de Fortune, as pointed out by M. Sandras long ago; see my note.
B. D. 1055-6. Cf.
See my note on the line; and note the spelling of Alcipiades with a p, as in the English MSS.
We thus see that all these passages (except l. 778) are really taken from Le Roman, not to mention many more, already pointed out by Dr. Köppel (Anglia, xiv. 238). And, this being so, we may safely conclude that they were not taken from Boethius directly. Hence we may further infer that, in all probability, Chaucer, in 1369, was not very familiar with Boethius in the Latin original. And this accounts at once for the fact that he seldom quotes Boethius at first hand, perhaps not at all, in any of his earlier poems, such as the Complaint unto Pite, the Complaint of Mars, or Anelida and Arcite, or the Lyf of St. Cecilie. I see no reason for supposing that he had closely studied Boethius before (let us say) 1375; though it is extremely probable, as was said above, that Jean de Meun inspired him with the idea of reading it, to see whether it was really worth translating, as the French poet said it was.
§ 18. When we come to consider the style and manner in which Chaucer has executed his self-imposed task, we must first of all make some allowance for the difference between the scholarship of his age and of our own. One great difference is obvious, though constantly lost sight of, viz. that the teaching in those days was almost entirely oral, and that the student had to depend upon his memory to an extent which would now be regarded by many as extremely inconvenient. Suppose that, in reading Boethius, Chaucer comes across the phrase ‘ueluti quidam clauus atque gubernaculum’ (Bk. iii. pr. 12, note to l. 55), and does not remember the sense of clauus; what is to be done? It is quite certain, though this again is frequently lost sight of, that he had no access to a convenient and well-arranged Latin Dictionary, but only to such imperfect glossaries as were then in use. Almost the only resource, unless he had at hand a friend more learned than himself, was to guess. He guesses accordingly; and, taking clauus to mean much the same thing as clauis, puts down in his translation: ‘and he is as a keye and a stere.’ Some mistakes of this character were almost inevitable; and it must not greatly surprise us to be told, that the ‘inaccuracy and infelicity’ of Chaucer’s translation ‘is not that of an inexperienced Latin scholar, but rather of one who was no Latin scholar at all,’ as Mr. Stewart says in his Essay, p. 226. It is useful to bear this in mind, because a similar lack of accuracy is characteristic of Chaucer’s other works also; and we must not always infer that emendation is necessary, when we find in his text some curious error.
§ 19. The next passage in Mr. Stewart’s Essay so well expresses the state of the case, that I do not hesitate to quote it at length. ‘Given (he says) a man who is sufficiently conversant with a language to read it fluently without paying too much heed to the precise value of participle and preposition, who has the wit and the sagacity to grasp the meaning of his author, but not the intimate knowledge of his style and manner necessary to a right appreciation of either, and—especially if he set himself to write in an uncongenial and unfamiliar form—he will assuredly produce just such a result as Chaucer has done.
‘We must now glance (he adds) at the literary style of the translation. As Ten Brink has observed, we can here see as clearly as in any work of the middle ages what a high cultivation is requisite for the production of a good prose. Verse, and not prose, is the natural vehicle for the expression of every language in its infancy, and it is certainly not in prose that Chaucer’s genius shews to best advantage. The restrictions of metre were indeed to him as silken fetters, while the freedom of prose only served to embarrass him; just as a bird that has been born and bred in captivity, whose traditions are all domestic, finds itself at a sad loss when it escapes from its cage and has to fall back on its own resources for sustenance. In reading “Boece,” we have often as it were to pause and look on while Chaucer has a desperate wrestle with a tough sentence; but though now he may appear to be down, with a victorious knee upon him, next moment he is on his feet again, disclaiming defeat in a gloss which makes us doubt whether his adversary had so much the best of it after all. But such strenuous endeavour, even when it is crowned with success, is strange in a writer one of whose chief charms is the delightful ease, the complete absence of effort, with which he says his best things. It is only necessary to compare the passages in Boethius in the prose version with the same when they reappear in the poems, to realise how much better they look in their verse dress. Let the reader take Troilus’ soliloquy on Freewill and Predestination (Bk. iv. ll. 958-1078), and read it side by side with the corresponding passage in “Boece” (Bk. v. proses 2 and 3), and he cannot fail to feel the superiority of the former to the latter. With what clearness and precision does the argument unfold itself, how close is the reasoning, how vigorous and yet graceful is the language! It is to be regretted that Chaucer did not do for all the Metra of the “Consolation” what he did for the fifth of the second book. A solitary gem like “The Former Age” makes us long for a whole set1 . Sometimes, whether unconsciously or of set purpose, it is difficult to decide, his prose slips into verse:—
The reader should also consult Ten Brink’s History of English Literature, Book iv. sect. 7. I here give a useful extract.
‘This version is complete, and faithful in all essential points. Chaucer had no other purpose than to disclose, if possible wholly, the meaning of this famous work to his contemporaries; and notwithstanding many errors in single points, he has fairly well succeeded in reproducing the sense of the original. He often employs for this purpose periphrastic turns, and for the explanation of difficult passages, poetical figures, mythological and historical allusions; and he even incorporates a number of notes in his text. His version thus becomes somewhat diffuse, and, in the undeveloped state of prose composition so characteristic of that age, often quite unwieldy. But there is no lack of warmth, and even of a certain colouring . . .
‘The language of the translation shews many a peculiarity; viz. numerous Latinisms, and even Roman idioms in synthesis, inflexion, or syntax, which are either wholly absent or at least found very rarely in Chaucer’s poems. The labour of this translation proved a school for the poet, from which his powers of speech came forth not only more elevated but more self-reliant; and above all, with a greater aptitude to express thoughts of a deeper nature.’
§ 20. Most of the instances in which Chaucer’s rendering is inaccurate, unhappy, or insufficient are pointed out in the notes. I here collect some examples, many of which have already been remarked upon by Dr. Morris and Mr. Stewart.
i. met. 1. 3. rendinge Muses: ‘lacerae Camenae.’
i. met. 1. 20. unagreable dwellinges1 : ‘ingratas moras.’
i. pr. 1. 49. til it be at the laste: ‘usque in exitium;’ (but see the note).
i. pr. 3. 2. I took hevene: ‘hausi caelum.’
i. met. 4. 5. hete: ‘aestum;’ (see the note). So again, in met. 7. 3.
i. pr. 4. 83. for nede of foreine moneye: ‘alienae aeris necessitate’
i. pr. 4. 93. lykned: ‘astrui;’ (see the note).
i. met. 5. 9. cometh eft ayein hir used cours: ‘Solitas iterum mutet habenas;’ (see the note).
ii. pr. 1. 22. entree: ‘adyto;’ (see the note).
ii. pr. 1. 45. use hir maneres: ‘utere moribus.’
ii. pr. 5. 10. to hem that despenden it: ‘effundendo.’
ii. pr. 5. 11. to thilke folk that mokeren it: ‘coaceruando.’
ii. pr. 5. 90. subgit: ‘sepositis;’ (see the note).
ii. met. 6. 21. the gloss is wrong; (see the note).
ii. met. 7. 20. cruel day: ‘sera dies;’ (see the note).
iii. pr. 2. 57. birefte awey: ‘adferre.’ Here MS. C. has afferre, and Chaucer seems to have resolved this into ab-ferre.
iii. pr. 3. 48. foreyne: ‘forenses.’
iii. pr. 4. 42. many maner dignitees of consules: ‘multiplici consulatu.’
iii. pr. 4. 64. of usaunces: ‘utentium.’
iii. pr. 8. 11. anoyously: ‘obnoxius;’ (see the note).
iii. pr. 8. 29. of a beest that highte lynx: ‘Lynceis;’ (see the note).
iii. pr. 9. 16. Wenest thou that he, that hath nede of power, that him ne lakketh no-thing? ‘An tu arbitraris quod nihilo indigeat egere potentia?’ On this Mr. Stewart remarks that ‘it is easy to see that indigeat and egere have changed places.’ To me, it is not quite easy; for the senses of the M.E. nede and lakken are very slippery. Suppose we make them change places, and read:—‘Wenest thou that he, that hath lak of power, that him ne nedeth no-thing?’ This may be better, but it is not wholly satisfactory.
iii. pr. 9. 39-41. that he . . . yif him nedeth = whether he needeth. A very clumsy passage; see the Latin quoted in the note.
iii. pr. 10. 165. the soverein fyn and the cause: ‘summa, cardo, atque caussa.’
iii. pr. 12. 55, 67. a keye: ‘clauus;’ and again, ‘clauo.’
iii. pr. 12. 55, 74. a yok of misdrawinges: ‘detrectantium iugum.’
iii. pr. 12. 55, 75. the savinge of obedient thinges: ‘obtemperantium salus.’
iii. pr. 12. 136. the whiche proeves drawen to hem-self hir feith and hir acord, everich of hem of other: ‘altero ex altero fidem trahente . . . probationibus.’ (Not well expressed.)
iii. met. 12. 5. the wodes, moveable, to rennen; and had maked the riveres, &c.: ‘Siluas currere, mobiles Amnes,’ &c.
iii. met. 17-19. Obscure and involved.
iv. pr. 1. 22. of wikkede felounes: ‘facinorum.’
iv. pr. 2. 97. Iugement: ‘indicium’ (misread as iudicium).
iv. met. 7. 15. empty: ‘immani;’ (misread as inani).
v. pr. 1. 3. ful digne by auctoritee: ‘auctoritate dignissima.’
v. pr. 1. 34. prince: ‘principio.’
v. pr. 1. 57. the abregginge of fortuit hap: ‘fortuiti caussae compendii.’
v. pr. 4. 30. by grace of position (or possessioun): ‘positionis gratia.’
v. pr. 4. 56. right as we trowen: ‘quasi uero credamus.’
v. met. 5. 6. by moist fleeinge: ‘liquido uolatu.’
§ 21. In the case of a few supposed errors, as pointed out by Mr. Stewart, there remains something to be said on the other side. I note the following instances.
i. pr. 6. 28. Lat. ‘uelut hiante ualli robore.’ Here Mr. Stewart quotes the reading of MS. A., viz. ‘so as the strengthe of the paleys schynyng is open.’ But the English text in that MS. is corrupt. The correct reading is ‘palis chyning;’ where palis means palisade, and translates ualli; and chyning is open means is gaping open, and translates hiante.
ii. pr. 5. 16. Lat. ‘largiendi usu.’ The translation has: ‘by usage of large yevinge of him that hath yeven it.’ I fail to see much amiss; for the usual sense of large in M. E. is liberal, bounteous, lavish. Of course we must not substitute the modern sense without justification.
ii. pr. 5. 35. ‘of the laste beautee’ translates Lat. ‘postremae pulcritudinis.’ For this, see my note on p. 431.
ii. pr. 7. 38. Lat. ‘tum commercii insolentia.’ Chaucer has: ‘what for defaute of unusage and entrecomuninge of marchaundise.’ There is not much amiss; but MS. A. omits the word and after unusage, which of course makes nonsense of the passage.
ii. met. 8. 6. Lat. ‘Ut fluctus auidum mare Certo fine coerceat.’ Chaucer has: ‘that the see, greedy to flowen, constreyned with a certein ende hise floodes.’ Mr. Stewart understands ‘greedy to flowen’ to refer to ‘fluctus auidum.’ It seems to me that this was merely Chaucer’s first idea of the passage, and that he afterwards meant ‘hise floodes’ to translate ‘fluctus,’ but forgot to strike out ‘to flowen.’ I do not defend the translation.
iii. pr. 11. 86. Lat. ‘sede;’ Eng. ‘sete.’ This is quite right. Mr. Stewart quotes the Eng. version as having ‘feete,’ but this is only a corrupt reading, though found in the best MS. Any one who is acquainted with M. E. MSS. will easily guess that ‘feete’ is merely mis-copied from ‘feete,’ with a long s; and, indeed, sete is the reading of the black-letter editions. There is a blunder here, certainly; only it is not the author’s, but due to the scribes.
iv. pr. 6. 176. Lat. ‘quidam me quoque excellentior:’ Eng. ‘a philosophre, the more excellent by me.’ The M. E. use of by is ambiguous; it frequently means ‘in comparison with.’
v. met. 5. 14. Lat. ‘male dissipis:’ Eng. ‘wexest yvel out of thy wit.’ In this case, wexest out of thy wit translates dissipis; and yvel, which is here an adverb, translates male.
Of course we must also make allowances for the variations in Chaucer’s Latin MS. from the usually received text. Here we are much assisted by MS. C., which, as explained below, appears to contain a copy of the very text which he consulted, and helps to settle several doubtful points. To take two examples. In Book ii. met. 5. 17, Chaucer has ‘ne hadde nat deyed yit armures,’ where the usual Lat. text has ‘tinxerat arua.’ But many MSS. have arma; and, of these, MS. C. is one.
Once more, in Book ii. met. 2. 11, Chaucer has ‘sheweth other gapinges,’ where the usual Lat. text has ‘Altos pandit hiatus.’ But some MSS. have Alios; and, of these, MS. C. is one.
§ 22. After all, the chief point of interest about Chaucer’s translation of Boethius is the influence that this labour exercised upon his later work, owing to the close familiarity with the text which he thus acquired. I have shewn that we must not expect to find such influence upon his earliest writings; and that, in the case of the Book of the Duchesse, it affected him at second hand, through Jean de Meun. But in other poems, viz. Troilus, the House of Fame, The Legend of Good Women, some of the Balades, and in the Canterbury Tales, the influence of Boethius is frequently observable; and we may usually suppose such influence to have been direct and immediate; nevertheless, we should always keep an eye on Le Roman de la Rose, for Jean de Meun was, in like manner, influenced in no slight degree by the same work. I have often taken an opportunity of pointing out, in my Notes to Chaucer, passages of this character; and I find that Mr. Stewart, with praiseworthy diligence, has endeavoured to give (in Appendix B, following his Essay, at p. 260) ‘An Index of Passages in Chaucer which seem to have been suggested by the De Consolatione Philosophiae.’ Very useful, in connection with this subject, is the list of passages in which Chaucer seems to have been indebted to Le Roman de la Rose, as given by Dr. E. Köppel in Anglia, vol. xiv. 238-265. Another most useful help is the comparison between Troilus and Boccaccio’s Filostrato, by Mr. W. M. Rossetti; which sometimes proves, beyond all doubt, that a passage which may seem to be due to Boethius, is really taken from the Italian poet. As this seems to be the right place for exhibiting the results thus obtained, I proceed to give them, and gladly express my thanks to the above-named authors for the opportunity thus afforded.
Comparison with ‘Boece’ of other works by Chaucer.
Troilus and Criseyde: Book I.
365.1 a mirour.—Cf. B. v. met. 4. 8.
638. sweetnesse, &c.—B. iii. met. 1. 4.
730. What? slombrestow as in a lytargye?—See B. i. pr. 2. 14.
731. an asse to the harpe.—B. i. pr. 4. 2.
786. Ticius.—B. iii. met. 12. 29.
837. Fortune is my fo.—B. i. pr. 4. 8.
838-9. May of hir cruel wheel the harm withstonde.—B. ii. pr. 1. 80-82.
840. she pleyeth.—B. ii. met. 1. 10; pr. 2. 36.
841. than blamestow Fortune.—B. ii. pr. 2. 14.
850. Now, sith hir wheel by no wey may soiorne, &c.—B. ii. pr. 2. 59.
857. For who-so list have helping of his leche.—B. i. pr. 4. 3.
1065-71. For every wight that hath an hous to founde.—B. iv. pr. 6. 57-60.
Troilus: Book II.
*42.1 Forthy men seyn, ech contree hath his lawes.—B. ii. pr. 7. 49-51. (This case is doubtful. Chaucer’s phrase—men seyn—shews that he is quoting a common proverb. ‘Ase fele thedes, as fele thewes, quoth Hendyng.’ ‘Tant de gens, tant de guises.’—Ray. So many countries, so many customs.—Hazlitt).
Troilus: Book III.
624. The bente mone with hir hornes pale.—B. i. met. 5. 6.
820-833.—B. ii. pr. 4. 109-117.
1219. And now swetnesse semeth more swete.—B. iii. met. 1. 4.
1261. Benigne Love, thou holy bond of thinges.—B. ii. met. 8. 9-11.
1625-8. For of Fortunes sharp adversitee, &c.—B. ii. pr. 4. 4-7.
1691-2. Felicitee.—B. iii. pr. 2. 55.
Troilus: Book IV.
*1-7. (Fortune’s changes, her wheel, and her scorn).—B. ii. pr. 1. 12; met. 1. 1, 5-10; pr. ii. 37. (But note, that ll. 1-3 are really due to the Filostrato, Bk. iii. st. 94; and ll. 6, 7 are copied from Le Roman de la Rose, 8076-9).
200. cloud of errour.—B. iii. met. 11. 7.
*481-2. (Repeated from Book III. 1625-8. But, this time, it is copied from the Filostrato, Bk. iv. st. 56).
(A very doubtful instance; for l. 836 is precisely the same as Prov. xiv. 13. The word occupyeth is decisive; see my note to Cant. Ta. B 421).
958; 963-6. (Predestination).—B. v. pr. 2. 30-34.
974-1078. (Necessity and Free Will).—B. v. pr. 3. 7-19; 21-71.
(But note that l. 1589 really translates two lines in the Filostrato, Bk. iv. st. 154).
Troilus: Book V.
278. And Phebus with his rosy carte.—B. ii. met. 3. 1, 2.
763. Felicitee clepe I my suffisaunce.—B. iii. pr. 2. 6-8.
*1541-4. Fortune, whiche that permutacioun
*1809. (The allusion here to the ‘seventh spere’ has but a remote reference to Boethius (iv. met. 1. 16-19); for this stanza 259 is translated from Boccaccio’s Teseide, Bk. xi. st. 1).
It thus appears that, for this poem, Chaucer made use of B. i. met. 1, pr. 2, met. 3, pr. 4, met. 5; ii. pr. 1, met. 1, pr. 2, pr. 3, met. 3, pr. 4, pr. 7, met. 8; iii. met. 1, pr. 2, met. 2, pr. 3, met. 11, 12; iv. pr. 6; v. pr. 2, pr. 3.
The House of Fame.
*535 (Book ii. 27). Foudre. (This allusion to the thunderbolt is copied from Machault, as shewn in my note; but Machault probably took it from Boeth. i. met. 4. 8; and it is curious that Chaucer has tour, not toun).
730-746 (Book ii. 222-238).—Compare B. iii. pr. 11; esp 98-111. (Also Le Roman de la Rose, 16957-69; Dante, Purg. xviii. 28).
972-8 (Book ii. 464-70).—B. iv. met. 1. 1-5.
1368-1375 (Book iii. 278-285).—Compare B. i. pr. 1. 8-12.
*1545-8 (Book iii. 455-8).—Compare B. i. pr. 5. 43, 44. (The likeness is very slight).
1920 (Book iii. 830). An hous, that domus Dedali, That Laborintus cleped is.—B. iii. pr. 12. 118.
Legend of Good Women.
195 (p. 78). tonne.—B. ii. pr. 2. 53-5.
*2228-30. (Philomela, 1-3).—B. iii. met. 9. 8-10. (Doubtful; for the same is in Le Roman de la Rose, 16931-6, which is taken from Boethius. And Köppel remarks that the word Eternally answers to nothing in the Latin text, whilst it corresponds to the French Tous jors en pardurableté).
III. Book of the Duchesse.
The quotations from Boethius are all taken at second-hand. See above, pp. xx, xxi.
V. Parlement of Foules.
*380. That hoot, cold, hevy, light, [and] moist and dreye, &c.—B. iii. pr. 11. 98-103.
(Practically, a chance resemblance; these lines are really from Alanus, De Planctu Naturæ; see the note).
IX. The Former Age.
Partly from B. ii. met. 5; see the notes.
1-4. Compare B. ii. met. 1. 5-7.
10-12. Compare B. ii. pr. 8. 22-25.
13. Compare B. ii. pr. 4. 98-101.
*17. Socrates.—B. i. pr. 3. 20. (But really from Le Roman de la Rose, 5871-4).
25. No man is wrecched, but himself it wene.—B. ii. pr. 4. 79, 80; cf. pr. 2. 1-10.
29-30. Cf. B. ii. pr. 2. 17, 18.
31. Cf. B. ii. pr. 2. 59, 60.
33, 34. Cf. B. ii. pr. 8. 25-28.
38. Yit halt thyn ancre.—B. ii. pr. 4. 40.
43, 44. Cf. B. ii. pr. 1. 69-72, and 78-80.
45, 46. Cf. B. ii. pr. 2. 60-62; and 37.
50-52. Cf. B. ii. pr. 8. 25-28.
57-64. Cf. B. ii. pr. 2. 11-18.
65-68. Cf. B. iv. pr. 6. 42-46.
68. Ye blinde bestes.—B. iii. pr. 3. 1.
71. Thy laste day.—B. ii. pr. 3. 60, 61.
2. Cf. B. ii. pr. 5. 56, 57.
3. For hord hath hate.—B. ii. pr. 5. 11.
3. and climbing tikelnesse.—B. iii. pr. 8. 10, 11.
7. And trouthe shal delivere. Cf. B. iii. met. 11. 7-9; 15-20.
8. Tempest thee noght.—B. ii. pr. 4. 50.
9. hir that turneth as a bal.—B. ii. pr. 2. 37.
15. That thee is sent, receyve in buxumnesse.—B. ii. pr. 1. 66-68.
17, 19. Her nis non hoom. Cf. B. i. pr. 5. 11-15.
18. Forth, beste.—B. iii. pr. 3. 1.
19. Know thy contree, lok up.—B. v. met. 5. 14, 15.
For the general idea, see B. iii. pr. 6. 24-38; met. 6. 2, and 6-10. With l. 5 compare B. iii. pr. 4. 25.
XV. Lak of Stedfastnesse.
For the general idea, cf. B. ii. met. 8.
Canterbury Tales: Group A.
Prologue. 337-8. Pleyn delyt, &c.—B. iii. pr. 2. 55.
741-2. The wordes mote be cosin to the dede.—B. iii. pr. 12. 152.
Knightes Tale. 925. Thanked be Fortune, and hir false wheel.—B. ii. pr. 2. 37-39.
1164. Who shal yeve a lover any lawe?—B. iii, met. 12. 37.
*1251-4. Cf. B. iv. pr. 6. 147-151.
1255, 1256. Cf. B. iii. pr. 2. 19; ii. pr. 5. 122.
1262. A dronke man, &c.—B. iii. pr. 2. 61.
1303-12. O cruel goddes, that governe, &c.—B. i. met. 5. 22-26; iv. pr. 1. 19-26.
*1946. The riche Cresus. Cf. B. ii. pr. 2. 44. (But cf. Monkes Ta. B. 3917, and notes.)
2987-29931 . The firste moevere, &c.—B. ii. met. 8. 6-11. (But see also the Teseide, Bk. ix. st. 51.)
2994-9, 3003-4.—B. iv. pr. 6. 29-35.
3005-3010.—B. iii. pr. 10. 18-22.
3011-5.—B. iv. pr. 6.
Man of Lawes Tale. 295-299. O firste moeving cruel firmament. Cf. B. i. met. 5. 1-3; iii. pr. 8. 22; pr. 12. 145-147; iv. met. 1. 6.
481-3. Doth thing for certein ende that ful derk is.—B. iv. pr. 6. 114-117, and 152-154.
813-6. O mighty god, if that it be thy wille.—B. i. met. 5. 22-30; iv. pr. 1. 19-26.
N.B. The stanzas 421-7, and 925-931, are not from Boethius, but from Pope Innocent; see notes.
The Tale of Melibeus. The suggested parallels between this Tale and Boece are only three; the first is marked by Mr. Stewart as doubtful, the third follows Albertano of Brescia word for word; and the second is too general a statement. It is best to say that no certain instance can be given1 .
The Monk’s Prologue. 3163. Tragedie.—B. ii. pr. 2. 51.
The Monkes Tale: Hercules. 3285-3300.—B. iv. met. 7. 20-42. (But see Sources of the Tales, § 48; vol. iii. p. 430.)
*3329. Ful wys is he that can him-selven knowe. Cf. B. ii. pr. 4. 98-101.
3537. But ay fortune hath in hir hony galle.—B. ii. pr. 4. 86-7.
3587. Thus can fortune hir wheel governe and gye.—B. ii. pr. 2. 37-39.
*3636. Thy false wheel my wo al may I wyte.—B. ii. pr. 1. 7-10.
3653. Nero. See B. ii. met. 6; esp. 5-16.
3914. Julius Cesar. No man ne truste upon hir favour longe. B. ii. pr. 1. 48-53.
3921. Cresus.—B. ii. pr. 2. 44-46.
3951. Tragedie.—B. ii. pr. 2. 51-2. (See 3163 above.)
3956. And covere hir brighte face with a cloude.—B. ii. pr. 1. 42.
Nonne Preestes Tale. 4190. That us governeth alle as in comune.—B. ii. pr. 2. 61.
4424. But what that god forwoot mot nedes be.—B. v. pr. 3. 7-10.
4433. Whether that godes worthy forwiting, &c.—B. v. pr. 3. 5-15; 27-39; pr. 4. 25-34; &c.
*100. Wyf of Bath. He hath not every vessel al of gold.—B. iv. pr. 1. 30-33. (But cf. 2 Tim. ii. 20.)
170. Another tonne.—B. ii. pr. 2. 53.
1109-1116. ‘Gentilesse.’—B. iii. pr. 6. 24-38; met. 6. 6, 7.
1140. Caucasus.—B. ii. pr. 7. 43.
1142. Yit wol the fyr as faire lye and brenne.—B. iii. pr. 4. 47.
1170. That he is gentil that doth gentil dedis.—B. iii. met. 6. 7-10.
1187. He that coveyteth is a povre wight.—B. iii. pr. 5. 20-32.
1203. Povert a spectacle is, as thinketh me.—B. ii. pr. 8. 23-25, 31-33.
The Freres Tale. 1483. For som-tyme we ben goddes instruments.—B. iv. pr. 6. 62-71.
The Somnours Tale. 1968. Lo, ech thing that is oned in him-selve, &c.—B. iii. pr. 11. 37-40.
The Clerkes Tale. Mr. Stewart refers ll. 810-2 to Boethius, but these lines translate Petrarch’s sentence—‘Nulla homini perpetua sors est.’ Also ll. 1155-1158, 1161; but these lines translate Petrarch’s sentence—‘Probat tamen et sæpe nos, multis ac grauibus flagellis exerceri sinit, non ut animum nostrum sciat, quem sciuit antequam crearemur . . . abundè ergo constantibus uiris ascripserim, quisquis is fuerit, qui pro Deo suo sine murmure patiatur.’ I find no hint that Chaucer was directly influenced by Boethius, while writing this Tale.
The Marchantes Tale. Mr. Stewart refers ll. 1311-4 to Boethius, but they are more likely from Albertanus Brixiensis, Liber de Amore dei, fol. 30 a (as shewn by Dr. Köppel):—‘Et merito uxor est diligenda, qui donum est Dei,’ followed by a quotation from Prov. xix. 14.
1582. a mirour—B. v. met. 4. 8.
1784. O famulier foo.—B. iii. pr. 5. 50.
1849. The slakke skin.—B. i. met. 1. 12.
1967-9. Were it by destinee or aventure, &c.—B. iv. pr. 6. 62-71.
2021. felicitee Stant in delyt.—B. iii. pr. 2. 55.
2062. O monstre, &c.—B. ii. pr. 1. 10-14.
The Squieres Tale. *258. As sore wondren somme on cause of thonder. Cf. B. iv. met. 5. 6. (Somewhat doubtful.)
608. Alle thing, repeiring to his kinde.—B. iii. met. 2. 27-29.
611. As briddes doon that men in cages fede.—B. iii. met. 2. 15-22.
The Frankeleins Tale. 865. Eterne god, that thurgh thy purveyaunce, &c.—B. i. met. 5. 22, 23; iii. met. 9. 1; cf. iii. pr. 9. 147, 148.
879. Which mankinde is so fair part of thy werk.—B. i. met. 5. 38.
886. Al is for the beste.—B. iv. pr. 6. 194-196.
1031. God and governour, &c.—B. i. met. 6. 10-14.
The Seconde Nonnes Tale. I think it certain that this early Tale is quite independent of Boethius. L. 114, instanced by Mr. Stewart, is from ‘Ysidorus’; see my note.
The Canouns Yemannes Tale. *958. We fayle of that which that we wolden have.—B. iii. pr. 9. 89-91. (Very doubtful.)
The Maunciples Tale. 160.
163. Tak any brid, &c.—B. iii. met. 2. 15-22.
The Persones Tale. *212. A shadwe hath the lyknesse of the thing of which it is shadwe, but shadwe is nat the same thing of which it is shadwe.—B. v. pr. 4. 45, 46. (Doubtful.)
*471. Who-so prydeth him in the goodes of fortune, he is a ful greet fool; for som-tyme is a man a greet lord by the morwe, that is a caitif and a wrecche er it be night.—B. ii. met. 3. 16-18. (I think this is doubtful, and mark it as such.)
472. Som-tyme the delyces of a man is cause of the grevous maladye thurgh which he dyeth.—B. iii. pr. 7. 3-5.
§ 24. It is worth while to see what light is thrown upon the chronology of the Canterbury Tales by comparison with Boethius.
In the first place, we may remark that, of the Tales mentioned above, there is nothing to shew that The Seconde Nonnes Tale, the Clerkes Tale, or even the Tale of Melibeus, really refer to any passages in Boethius. They may, in fact, have been written before that translation was made. In the instance of the Second Nonnes Tale, this was certainly the case; and it is not unlikely that the same is true with respect to the others.
But the following Tales (as revised) seem to be later than ‘Boece,’ viz. The Knightes Tale, The Man of Lawes Tale, and The Monkes Tale; whilst it is quite certain that the following Tales were amongst the latest written, viz. the Nonne Preestes Tale, the three tales in Group D (Wyf, Frere, Somnour), the Marchantes Tale, the Squieres Tale, the Frankeleins Tale, the Canouns Yemannes Tale, and the Maunciples Tale; all of which are in the heroic couplet, and later than 1385.
The case of the Knightes Tale is especially interesting; for the numerous references in it to Boece, and the verbal resemblances between it and Troilus shew that either the original Palamoun and Arcite was written just after those works, or else (which is more likely) it was revised, and became the Knight’s Tale, nearly at that time. The connection between Palamon and Arcite, Anelida, and the Parlement of Foules, and the introduction of three stanzas from the Teseide near the end of Troilus, render the former supposition unlikely; whilst at the same time we are confirmed in the impression that the (revised) Knightes Tale succeeded Boece and Troilus at no long interval, and was, in fact, the first of the Canterbury Tales that was written expressly for the purpose of being inserted in that collection, viz. about 1385-6.
I have now to explain the sources of the present edition.
1. MS. C. = MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 21. This MS., in the Cambridge University Library, is certainly the best; and has therefore been taken as the basis of the text. The English portion of it was printed by Dr. Furnivall for the Chaucer Society in 1886; and I have usually relied upon this very useful edition1 . It is a fine folio MS., wholly occupied with Boethius (De Consolatione Philosophiae), and comments upon it.
It is divided into two distinct parts, which have been bound up together. The latter portion consists of a lengthy commentary upon Boethius, at the end of which we find the title, viz.—‘Exposicio preclara quam Iohannes Theutonicus prescripsit et finiuit Anno domini M°CCCvj viij ydus Iunii;’ i. e. An Excellent Commentary, written by Johannes Teutonicus, and finished June 6, 1306. This vast commentary occupies 118 folios, in double columns.
The former part of the volume concerns us more nearly. I take it to be, for all practical purposes, the authentic copy. For it presents the following peculiarities. It contains the whole of the Latin text, as well as Chaucer’s English version; and it is surprising to find that these are written in alternate chapters. Thus the volume begins with the Latin text of Metre 1, at the close of which there follows immediately, on the same page, Chaucer’s translation of Metre 1. Next comes Prose 1 in Latin, followed by Prose 1 in English; and so throughout.
Again, if we examine the Latin text, there seems reason to suppose that it fairly represents the very recension which Chaucer used. It abounds with side-notes and glosses, all in Latin; and the glosses correspond to those in Chaucer’s version. Thus, to take an example, the following lines occur near the end of Bk. iii. met. 11:—
Over rogati is written the gloss i. interrogato
Over censetis is written i. iudicatis.
Over Ni is i. nisi; over mersus alto is i. latenter conditos; over uiueret is i. vigeret; and over fomes is i. radix veritatis.
Besides these glosses, there is here the following side-note:—‘Nisi radix veritatis latenter conditus vigeret in abscondito mentis, homo non iudicaret recta quacunque ordinata interrogata.’
When we turn to Chaucer’s version, we find that he first gives a translation of the two verses, thus:—
‘For wherefor elles demen ye of your owne wil the rightes, whan ye ben axed, but-yif so were that the norisshinge of resoun ne livede y-plounged in the depthe of your herte?’
After this he adds, by way of comment:—‘This is to seyn, how sholden men demen the sooth of anything that were axed, yif ther nere a rote of soothfastnesse that were y-plounged and hid in naturel principles, the whiche soothfastnesse lived with-in the deepnesse of the thought.’
It is obvious that he has here reproduced the general sense of the Latin side-note above quoted. The chief thing which is missing in the Latin is the expression ‘in naturel principles.’ But we have only to look to a passage a little higher up, and we find the line—
‘Suis retrusum possidere thesauris.’
Over the word retrusum is written i. absconditum; and over thesauris is i. naturalibus policiis et principiis naturaliter inditis. Out of these we have only to pick the words absconditum naturalibus . . . principiis, and we at once obtain the missing phrase—‘hid in naturel principles.’
Or, to take another striking example. Bk. iv. met. 7 begins, in the MS., with the lines:
At the beginning, just above these, is written a note: ‘Istud metrum est de tribus exemplis: de agamenone (sic); secundum de vlixe; tertium, de hercule.’
The glosses are these; over quinis is i. decim; over attrides is agamenon (sic); over Fratris is s. menelai; and over piauit is i. vlcissendo (sic) purgauit: troia enim erat metropolis Frigie.
If we turn to Chaucer’s version, in which I print the additions to the text in italics, we find that it runs thus:—
‘The wreker Attrides, that is to seyn, Agamenon, that wroughte and continuede the batailes by ten yeer, recovered and purgede in wrekinge, by the destruccioun of Troye, the loste chaumbres of mariage of his brother; this is to seyn, that he, Agamenon, wan ayein Eleyne, that was Menelaus wyf his brother.’
We see how this was made up. Not a little curious are the spellings Attrides and Agamenon1 , as occurring both in the Latin part of this MS. and in Chaucer’s version. Again, Chaucer has ten, corresponding to the gloss decim, not to the textual phrase bis quinis. His explanation of piauit by recovered and purgede in wrekinge is clearly due to the gloss ulciscendo purgauit. His substitution of Troye for Frigie is due to the gloss: troia enim erat metropolis Frigie. And even the name Menelaus his brother answers to Fratris, s. menelai. And all that is left, as being absolutely his own, are the words and continuede, recovered, and wan ayein Eleyne. We soon discover that, in a hundred instances, he renders a single Latin verb or substantive by two English verbs or substantives, by way of making the sense clearer; which accounts for his introduction of the verbs continuede and recovered; and this consideration reduces Chaucer’s additional contribution to a mention of the name of Eleyne, which was of course extremely familiar to him.
Similarly, we find in this MS. the original of the gloss explaining coempcioun (p. 11); of the ‘Glose’ on p. 15; of the ‘Glosa’ on p. 26; and of most of the notes which, at first sight, look like additions by Chaucer himself2 .
The result is that, in all difficulties, the first authority to be consulted is the Latin text in this particular MS.; for we are easily led to conclude that it was intentionally designed to preserve both Chaucer’s translation and the original text. It does not follow that it is always perfect; for it can only be a copy of the Latin, and the scribe may err. In writing recte for recta (see note on p. xxxviii), he has certainly committed an error by a slip of the pen. The same mistake has been observed to occur in another MS., viz. Codex Gothanus I.
The only drawback is this. The MS. is so crowded with glosses and side-notes, many of them closely written in small characters, that it is almost impossible to consult them all. I have therefore contented myself with resorting to them for information in difficult passages only. For further remarks on this subject, I must refer the reader to the Notes.
Lastly, I may observe that the design of preserving in this MS. all the apparatus referring to Chaucer’s Boethius, is made the more apparent by the curious fact that, in this MS. only, the two poems by Chaucer that are closely related to Boethius, viz. The Former Age, and Fortune, are actually inserted into the very body of it, immediately after Bk. ii. met. 5. This place was of course chosen because The Former Age is, to some extent, a verse translation of that metre; and Fortune was added because, being founded upon scraps from several chapters, it had no definite claim to any specific place of its own.
In this MS., the English text, like the Latin one, has a few imperfections. One imperfection appears in certain peculiarities of spelling. The scribe seems to have had some habits of pronunciation that betoken a greater familiarity with Anglo-French than with English. The awkward position of the guttural sound of gh in neighebour seems to have been too much for him; hence he substituted ssh (= sh-sh) for gh, and gives us the spelling neysshebour (Bk. ii. pr. 3. 24, foot-note; pr. 7. 57, foot-note.) Nevertheless, it is the best MS. and has most authority. For further remarks, see the account of the present edition, on pp. xlvi-xlviii.
2. MS. Camb. Ii. 1. 38. This MS. also belongs to the Cambridge University Library, and was written early in the fifteenth century. It contains 8 complete quires of 8 leaves, and 1 incomplete quire of 6 leaves, making 70 leaves in all. The English version appears alone, and occupies 68 leaves, and part of leaf 69 recto; leaf 69, verso, and leaf 70, are blank. The last words are:—‘þe eyen of þe Iuge þat seeth and demeth alle thinges. Explicit liber boecij, &c.’ Other treatises, in Latin, are bound up with it, but are unrelated. The readings of this MS. agree very closely with those of Ii. 3. 21, and of our text. Thus, in Met. i. l. 9, it has the reading wyerdes, with the gloss s. fata, as in Ii. 3. 21. (The scribe at first wrote wyerldes, but the l is marked for expunction.) In l. 12, it has emptid, whereas the Addit. MS. has emty; and in l. 16 it has nayteth, whereas the Addit. MS. wrongly has naieth. On account of its close agreement with the text, I have made but little use of it.
It is worth notice that this MS. (like Harl. 2421) frequently has correct readings in cases where even the MS. above described exhibits some blunder. A few such instances are given in the notes. For example, it has the reading wrythith in Bk. i. met. 4. 7, where MS. C. has the absurd word writith, and MS. A. has wircheth. In the very next line, it has thonder-leit, and it is highly probable that leit is the real word, and light an ignorant substitution; for leit (answering to A.S. lēget, līget) is the right M.E. word for ‘lightning’; see the examples in Stratmann. So again, in Bk. ii. met. 3. 13, it reads ouer-whelueth, like the black-letter editions; whilst MS. C. turns whelueth into welueeth, and MS. A. gives the spelling whelweth. In Bk. ii. pr. 6. 63, it correctly retains I after may, though MSS. C. and A. both omit it. In Bk. ii. pr. 8. 17, it has wyndy, not wyndynge; and I shew (in the note at p. 434) that windy is, after all, the correct reading, since the Lat. text has uentosam. In Bk. iii. met. 3. 1, it resembles the printed editions in the insertion of the words or a goter after river. In Bk. iv. pr. 3. 47, 48, it preserves the missing words: peyne, he ne douteth nat þat he nys entecchid and defouled with. In Bk. iv. met. 6. 24, it has the right reading, viz. brethith. Finally, it usually retains the word whylom in places where the MS. next described substitutes the word somtyme. If any difficulty in the text raises future discussion, it is clear that this MS. should be consulted.
3. MS. A. = MS. Addit. 10340, in the British Museum. This is the MS. printed at length by Dr. Morris for the Early English Text Society, and denoted by the letter ‘A.’ in my foot-notes. As it is so accessible, I need say but little. It is less correct than MS. Ii. 3. 21 in many readings, and the spelling, on the whole, is not so good. The omissions in it are also more numerous, but it occasionally preserves a passage which the Cambridge MS. omits. It is also imperfect, as it omits Prose 8 and Metre 8 of Bk. ii., and Prose 1 of Bk. iii. It has been collated throughout, though I have usually refrained from quoting such readings from it as are evidently inferior or wrong. I notice one peculiarity in particular, viz. that it almost invariably substitutes the word somtyme for the whylom found in other copies; and whylom, in this treatise, is a rather common word. Dr. Morris’s account of the MS. is here copied.
‘The Additional MS. is written by a scribe who was unacquainted with the force of the final -e. Thus he adds it to the preterites of strong verbs, which do not require it; he omits it in the preterites of weak verbs where it is wanted, and attaches it to passive participles of weak verbs, where it is superfluous. The scribe of the Cambridge MS. is careful to preserve the final -e where it is a sign (1) of the definite declension of the adjective; (2) of the plural adjective; (3) of the infinitive mood; (4) of the preterite of weak verbs; (5) of present participles; (6) of the 2nd pers. pret. indic. of strong verbs; (7) of adverbs; (8) of an older vowel-ending.
‘The Addit. MS. has frequently thilk (singular and plural) and -nes (in wrechednes, &c.), when the Camb. MS. has thilke (as usual in the Canterbury Tales) and -nesse.’
The copy of Boethius is contained on foll. 3-40. On fol. 41, recto, is a copy of Chaucer’s Truth, and the description of the ‘Persone,’ extracted from the Prologue to the Cant. Tales. The other side of the leaf is blank. This is, in fact, the MS. which I denote by ‘At.,’ as described in the Introduction to the ‘Minor Poems’ in vol. i. p. 57.
4. MS. Addit. 16165, in the British Museum. This is one of Shirley’s MSS., being that which I denote by ‘Ad.,’ and have described in the Introduction to the ‘Minor Poems’ in vol. i. p. 56. I believe this MS. to be of less value than MS. A. (above), and have therefore not collated it; for even A. is not a very good authority.
5. MS. Harl. 2421. The Harleian Catalogue describes it thus: ‘Torq. Sever. Boetius: his 5 Books of the Comfort of Philosophy. Translated into English. On vellum, 152 leaves. xv century.’
A small quarto MS. of the middle of the fifteenth century. The first Prose of Bk. i. begins (like MS. A.) with the words: ‘In þe mene while þat y stil recorded þese þinges;’ &c. Hence are derived the readings marked ‘H.’ in Morris’s edition, pp. 62-64. It rightly reads writheth, wyndy, bretheth (see p. xlii).
6. The celebrated Hengwrt MS. of the Canterbury Tales (denoted by ‘Hn.’ in the foot-notes to that poem) contains a part of Chaucer’s Boethius. See the Second Report of the Historical MSS. Commission, p. 106.
7. There is also a copy in a MS. belonging to the Cathedral Library at Salisbury. It was discovered by Dr. Wülker in 1875; see the Academy for Oct. 5, 1875. Bk. i. met. 1 was printed, from this MS., by Dr. Wülker in Anglia, ii. 373. It resembles MS. A.
8. In the Phillipps collection, MS. no. 9472 is described as ‘Boetius’ Boke of Comfort,’ and is said to be of the fifteenth century. I do not know its real contents.
The Printed Editions.
Caxton. Chaucer’s Boethius was first printed by Caxton, without date; but probably before 1479. See the description in The Biography and Typography of W. Caxton, by W. Blades; second edition, 1882; p. 213. A complete collation of this text with MS. A., as printed by Morris, was printed by L. Kellner, of Vienna, in Englische Studien, vol. xiv, pp. 1-53; of which I have gladly availed myself. The text agrees very closely indeed with that printed by Thynne in 1532, and resembles MS. C. rather than MS. A.
Perhaps it is necessary to remark that the readings of MS. C., as given in Kellner’s collation, are sometimes incorrect, because MS. C. had not at that time been printed, and the readings of that MS. were only known to him from the foot-notes in Morris’s edition, which are not exhaustive, but only record the more important variations. There is a curious but natural error, for example, in his note on l. 1002 of Morris’s edition (Bk. ii. met. 3. 14, p. 32, l. 1), where MS. C. has ȝeelde (=zeelde). The word is missing in MS. A., but Morris supplied it from C. to complete the text. Hence the foot-note has: ‘[ȝeelde]—from C.’; meaning that A. omits ȝeelde, which is supplied from C. This Kellner took to mean that A. has ȝeelde, and C. has from. However, the readings of A. and of Caxton are given with all possible care and minuteness; and now that C. is also in type, the slight inevitable errors are easily put right. This excellent piece of work has saved me much trouble.
It turns out that Caxton’s text is of great value. He followed a MS. (now lost) which is, in some places, even more correct than MS. C. The following readings are of great importance, as they correct MSS. C. and A. (I denote Caxton’s edition by the symbol Cx.)
Bk. i. met. 4. 7. Cx. writheth. (Cf. p. xlii. above, l. 6.)
Bk. i. met. 4. 8. Cx. thonder leyte1 .
Bk. i. met. 5. 26. Cx. punisheth.
Bk. i. met. 5. 28. Cx. on the nekkes.
Bk. i. pr. 6. 54. Cx. funden (but read founden).
Bk. i. pr. 6. 65. Cx. norissing. (Perhaps better than norisshinges, as in the MSS.; for the Lat. text has the sing. fomitem.) Cf. Bk. iii. met. 11. 27.
Bk. ii. pr. 3. 59. Cx. seeld (better selde). It is clear that yelde in MS. A. arose from a reading ȝelde, which really meant zelde, the Southern form of selde. See below.
Bk. ii. met. 3. 14. Cx. selde (correctly). And so again in Bk. ii. pr. 6. 15.
Bk. ii. pr. 6. 63. Cx. may I most. (MSS. C. A. omit I.)
Bk. ii. pr. 8. 17. Cx. wyndy (which is right; see note, p. 434).
Bk. iii. pr. 1. 26. Cx. thyne (better thyn, as in Thynne).
Bk. iii. pr. 10. 10. Cx. denyed (or read deneyed).
Bk. iii. pr. 10. 51. Cx. that the fader. (MSS. that this prince.) Caxton’s translation is closer; Lat. text, patrem.
Bk. iii. pr. 11. 116. Cx. slepen.
Bk. iii. pr. 11. 152. Cx. maistow (Thynne has mayst thou) MS. C. omits thou; and MS. A. is defective.
Bk. iii. pr. 12. 143. Cx. Parmenides.
Bk. iv. pr. 6. 52. Cx. be cleped.
Bk. iv. pr. 6. 188, 189. Cx. and some dispyse that they mowe not here (misprint for bere). MSS. C. and A. omit this clause.
Bk. v. pr. 1. 9, 10. Cx. assoilen to the the dette (where the former the=thee).
Bk. v. pr. 3. 142. Cx. impetren.
In a few places, Caxton’s text is somewhat fuller than that of the MSS. Thus in Bk. ii. pr. 3. 8, Cx. has: thei ben herd and sowne in eeres thei, &c. However, the Lat. text has merely: ‘cum audiuntur.’ And again, only 9 lines lower (l. 17), Cx. inserts and ajuste after moeve; but the Lat. text has merely: ‘admouebo.’ In some cases, it is closer to the Latin text; as, e. g. in Bk. i. met. 3. 9, where Cx. has kaue (Lat. antro), whereas MSS. C. and A. have the pl. kaues. In Bk. i. pr. 3. 41, where C. has the E. form Sorans, Cx. preserves the Latin form Soranos.
It thus appears that a collation with Caxton’s text is of considerable service.
Thynne. Thynne’s edition of Chaucer, printed in 1532, contains Boethius. I suspect that Thynne simply reprinted Caxton’s text, without consulting any other authority; for it is hard to detect any difference, except that his spellings are somewhat less archaic. Hence this text, by a lucky accident, is an extremely good one, and I have constantly referred to it in all cases of difficulty. Readings from this edition are marked in the foot-notes with the symbol ‘Ed.’
The later black-letter copies are mere reprints of Thynne’s text, each being, as usual, a little worse than its predecessor, owing to the introduction of misprints and later forms. I have consulted the editions of 1550 (undated) and 1561. Perhaps the most readable edition is that by Chalmers, in vol. i. of his British Poets, as it is in Roman type. It closely resembles the edition of 1561, and is therefore not very correct.
The Present Edition.
The present edition is, practically, the first in which the preparation of the text has received adequate attention. Caxton’s edition probably represents a single MS., though a very good one; and all the black-letter editions merely reproduce the same text, with various new errors. Dr. Morris’s edition was unfortunately founded on an inferior MS., as he discovered before the printing of it was completed. Dr. Furnivall’s text reproduces the excellent MS. C., but collation was rightly refrained from, as his object was to give the exact spellings of the MS. for the benefit of students. Hence there are several passages, in both of these editions, which do not afford the best sense; in a few places, they are less correct than the black-letter editions. It is also a considerable drawback to the reader, that they reproduce, of course intentionally and fully, the troublesome and obscure punctuation-marks of the MSS.
Finding the ground thus clear, I have taken occasion to introduce the following improvements. The text is founded on MS. C., certainly the best extant authority, which it follows, on the whole, very closely. At the same time, it has been carefully collated throughout with the text of MS. A., and (what is even more important) with the texts printed by Caxton and Thynne and with the original Latin text (1) as given in the edition by Obbarius (Jena 1843)1 and (2) as existing in MS. C. The latter usually gives the exact readings of the MS. used by Chaucer himself. By taking these precautions, I have introduced a considerable number of necessary corrections, so that we now possess a very close approximation to the original text as it left Chaucer’s hands. In all cases where emendations are made, the various readings are given in the foot-notes, where ‘C.’ and ‘A.’ refer to the two chief MSS., and ‘Ed.’ refers to Thynne’s first edition (1532). But I have intentionally refrained from crowding these foot-notes with inferior readings which are certainly false. Some readings from the excellent MS. Ii. 1. 38 are given in the Notes; I now wish that I had collated it throughout. I have introduced modern punctuation. As I am here entirely responsible, the reader is at liberty to alter it, provided that he is justified in so doing by the Latin text.
Wherever Chaucer has introduced explanatory words and phrases which are not in the Latin text, I have printed them in italics; as in lines 6, 7, and 18 on page 1. However, these words and phrases are seldom original; they are usually translated or adapted from some of the Latin glosses and notes with which MS. C. abounds; as explained above, at p. xxxviii.
I have also adopted an entirely new system of numbering. In Dr. Morris’s edition, every line of the printed text is numbered consecutively, from 1 up to 5219, which is the last line of the treatise. In Dr. Furnivall’s print of MS. C., a new numbering begins on every page, from 1 to 32, 33, 34, or 35. Both these methods are entirely useless for general reference. The right method of reference is Tyrwhitt’s, viz. to treat every chapter separately. Thus a reference to ‘Bk. i. met. 2’ serves for every edition; but I have further taken occasion to number the lines of every chapter, for greater convenience. Thus the word acountinge occurs in Bk. i. met. 2. 10: and even in referring to a black-letter edition, the number 10 is of some use, since it shews that the word occurs very nearly in the middle of the Metre. The usual method of referring to editions by the page is an extremely poor and inconvenient makeshift; and it is really nearly time that editors should learn this elementary lesson. Unfortunately, some difficulty will always remain as to the numbering of the lines of prose works, because the length of each line is indefinite. The longest chapter, Bk. iv. pr. 6, here extends to 258 lines; the shortest, Bk. iii. met. 3, has less than 7 lines.
I have also corrected the spelling of MS. C. in a large number of places, but within very narrow limits. The use of the final e in that MS. is exceedingly correct, and has almost always been followed, except where notice to the contrary is given in the notes. My corrections are chiefly limited to the substitution of in for yn, and of i for short y, in such words as bygynnen, for which I write biginnen; the substitution of y for long i, as in whylom, when the MS. has whilom; the use of v for the MS. symbol u (where necessary); the substitution of sch or ssh for ss, when the sound intended is double sh; and the substitution of e and o for ee and oo where the vowels are obviously long by their position in the word. I also substitute -eth and -ed for the variable -eth or -ith, and -ed, -id, or -yd of the MS. Such changes render the text more uniformly phonetic, and much more readable, without really interfering with the evidence. Changes of a bolder character are duly noted.
The introduction of these slight improvements will not really trouble the reader. The trouble has been the editor’s; for I found that the only satisfactory way of producing a really good text was to rewrite the whole of it. It seemed worth while to have a useful critical edition of ‘Boethius’ for general reference, because of the considerable use which Chaucer himself made of his translation when writing many of his later poems.
The Notes are all new, in the sense that no annotated edition of Chaucer’s text has hitherto appeared. But many of them are, necessarily, copied or adapted from the notes to the Latin text in the editions by Vallinus and Valpy.[Back to Table of Contents]
INTRODUCTION TO TROILUS.
§ 1.Date of the Work. The probable date is about 1380-2, and can hardly have been earlier than 1379 or later than 1383. No doubt it was in hand for a considerable time. It certainly followed close upon the translation of Boethius; see p. vii above.
§ 2.Sources of the Work. The chief authority followed by Chaucer is Boccaccio’s poem named Il Filostrato, in 9 Parts or Books of very variable length, and composed in ottava rima, or stanzas containing eight lines each. I have used the copy in the Opere Volgari di G. Boccaccio; Firenze, 1832.
Owing to the patient labours of Mr. W. M. Rossetti, who has collated the Filostrato with the Troilus line by line, and published the results of his work for the Chaucer Society in 1875, we are able to tell the precise extent to which Chaucer is indebted to Boccaccio for this story. The Filostrato contains 5704 lines; and the Troilus 8239 lines1 , if we do not reckon in the 12 Latin lines printed below, at p. 404. Hence we obtain the following result.
In other words, Chaucer’s debt to Boccaccio amounts to less than one-third of the whole poem; and there remains more than two-thirds of it to be accounted for from other sources. But even after all deductions have been made for passages borrowed from other authors, very nearly two-thirds remain for which Chaucer is solely responsible. As in the case of the Knightes Tale, close investigation shews that Chaucer is, after all, less indebted to Boccaccio than might seem, upon a hasty comparison, to be the case.
As it was found impracticable to give Mr. Rossetti’s results in full, I have drawn up lists of parallel passages in a somewhat rough way, which are given in the Notes, at the beginning of every Book; see pp. 461, 467, 474, 484, 494. These lists are sufficiently accurate to enable the reader, in general, to discover the passages which are in no way due to the Filostrato.
§ 3. I have taken occasion, at the same time, to note other passages for which Chaucer is indebted to some other authors. Of these we may particularly note the following. In Book I, lines 400-420 are translated from Petrarch’s 88th Sonnet, which is quoted at length at p. 464. In Book III, lines 813-833, 1625-9, and 1744-1768 are all from the second Book of Boethius (Prose 4, 86-120 and 4-10, and Metre 8). In Book IV, lines 974-1078 are from Boethius, Book V. In Book V, lines 1-14 and 1807-27 are from various parts of Boccaccio’s Teseide; and a part of the last stanza is from Dante. On account of such borrowings, we may subtract about 220 lines more from Chaucer’s ‘balance’; which still leaves due to him nearly 5436 lines.
§ 4. Of course it will be readily understood that, in the case of these 5436 lines, numerous short quotations and allusions occur, most of which are pointed out in the notes. Thus, in Book II, lines 402-3 are from Ovid, Art. Amat. ii. 118; lines 716-8 are from Le Roman de la Rose1 ; and so on. No particular notice need be taken of this, as similar hints are utilised in other poems by Chaucer; and, indeed, by all other poets. But there is one particular case of borrowing, of considerable importance, which will be considered below, in § 9 (p. liii).
§ 5. It is, however, necessary to observe here that, in taking his story from Boccaccio, Chaucer has so altered and adapted it as to make it peculiarly his own; precisely as he has done in the case of the Knightes Tale. Sometimes he translates very closely and even neatly, and sometimes he takes a mere hint from a long passage. He expands or condenses his material at pleasure; and even, in some cases, transposes the order of it. It is quite clear that he gave himself a free hand.
The most important point is that he did not accept the characters of the three chief actors, Troilus, Criseyde, and Pandarus, as pourtrayed by Boccaccio; he did not even accept all the incidents which gave occasion for their behaviour. Pandarus is no longer the cousin of Criseyde, a young and dashing gallant, but her middle-aged uncle, with blunted perceptions of what is moral and noble. In fact, Chaucer’s Pandarus is a thorough and perfect study of character, drawn with a dramatic skill not inferior to that of Shakespeare, and worthy of the author of the immortal Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. I must leave the fuller consideration of these points to others; it is hardly necessary to repeat, at full length, the Prefatory Remarks by Mr. Rossetti, whilst at the same time, if I begin to quote from them, I shall hardly know where to stop. See also Ten Brink’s English Literature, and Morley’s English Writers, vol. v.
§ 6. It has been observed that, whilst Chaucer carefully read and made very good use of two of Boccaccio’s works, viz. Il Filostrato and Il Teseide, he nowhere mentions Boccaccio by name; and this has occasioned some surprise. But we must not apply modern ideas to explain medieval facts, as is so frequently done. When we consider how often MSS. of works by known authors have no author’s name attached to them, it becomes likely that Chaucer obtained manuscript copies of these works unmarked by the author’s name; and though he must doubtless have been aware of it, there was no cogent reason why he should declare himself indebted to one in whom Englishmen were, as yet, quite uninterested. Even when he refers to Petrarch in the Clerk’s Prologue (E 27-35), he has to explain who he was, and to inform readers of his recent death. In those days, there was much laxity in the mode of citing authors.
§ 7. It will help us to understand matters more clearly, if we further observe the haphazard manner in which quotations were often made. We know, for example, that no book was more accessible than the Vulgate version of the Bible; yet it is quite common to find the most curious mistakes made in reference to it. The author of Piers Plowman (B. text, iii. 93-95) attributes to Solomon a passage which he quotes from Job, and (B. vii. 123) to St. Luke, a passage from St. Matthew; and again (B. vi. 240) to St. Matthew, a passage from St. Luke. Chaucer makes many mistakes of a like nature; I will only cite here his reference to Solomon (Cant. Tales, A 4330), as the author of a passage in Ecclesiasticus. Even in modern dictionaries we find passages cited from ‘Dryden’ or ‘Bacon’ at large, without further remark; as if the verification of a reference were of slight consequence. This may help to explain to us the curious allusion to Zanzis as being the author of a passage which Chaucer must have known was from his favourite Ovid (see note to Troil. iv. 414), whilst he was, at the same time, well aware that Zanzis was not a poet, but a painter (Cant. Tales, C 16); however, in this case we have probably to do with a piece of our author’s delicious banter, since he adds that Pandarus was speaking ‘for the nonce.’
There is another point about medieval quotations which must by no means be missed. They were frequently made, not from the authors themselves, but from manuscript note-books which contained hundreds of choice passages, from all sorts of authors, collected by diligent compilers. Thus it was, I strongly suspect, that Albertano of Brescia was enabled to pour out such quantities of quotations as those which Chaucer copied from him in his Tale of Melibeus. Thus it was that borrowers of such note-books often trusted to their strong memories for the words of a quotation, yet forgot or mistook the author’s name; as was readily done when a dozen such names occurred on every page. A MS. of this character is before me now. It contains many subjects in alphabetical order. Under Fortitudo are given 17 quotations which more or less relate to it, from Ambrose, Gregory, Chrysostom, and the rest, all in less than a single page. And thus it was, without doubt, that Chaucer made acquaintance with the three scraps of Horace which I shall presently consider. It is obvious that Chaucer never saw Horace’s works in the complete state; if he had done so, he would have found a writer after his own heart, and he would have quoted him even more freely than he has quoted Ovid. ‘Chaucer on Horace’ would have been delightful indeed; but this treat was denied, both to him and to us.
§ 8. The first and second scraps from Horace are hackneyed quotations. ‘Multa renascentur’ occurs in Troil. ii. 22 (see note, p. 468); and ‘Humano capiti’ in Troil. ii. 1041 (note, p. 472). In the third case (p. 464), there is no reason why we should hesitate to accept the theory, suggested by Dr. G. Latham (Athenæum, Oct. 3, 1868) and by Professor Ten Brink independently, that the well-known line (Epist. I, 2. 1)—
‘Troiani belli scriptorem, maxime Lolli,’
was misunderstood by Chaucer (or by some one else who misled him) as implying that Lollius was the name of a writer on the Trojan war. Those who are best acquainted with the ways of medieval literature will least hesitate to adopt this view. It is notorious that first lines of a poem are frequently quoted apart from their context, and repeated as if they were complete; and, however amazing such a blunder may seem to us now, there is really nothing very extraordinary about it.
We should also notice that Lollius was to Chaucer a mere name, which he used, in his usual manner, as a sort of convenient embellishment; for he is inconsistent in his use of it. In Book i. 394, ‘myn autour called Lollius’ really means Petrarch; whereas in Book v. 1653, though the reference is to the Filostrato, Bk. viii. st. 8, Chaucer probably meant no more than that Lollius was an author whom the Italian poet might have followed1 . Cf. my note to the House of Fame, 1468, where the name occurs for the third time. We may also notice that, in Book iii. 1325, Chaucer bears testimony to the ‘excellence’ of his ‘auctor.’ The statement, in Book ii. 14, that he took the story ‘out of Latin’ is less helpful than it appears to be; for ‘Latin’ may mean either Latin or Italian.
§ 9. I have spoken (§ 4) of ‘a particular case of borrowing,’ which I now propose to consider more particularly. The discovery that Chaucer mainly drew his materials from Boccaccio seems to have satisfied most enquirers; and hence it has come to pass that one of Chaucer’s sources has been little regarded, though it is really of some importance. I refer to the Historia Troiana of Guido delle Colonne2 , or, as Chaucer rightly calls him, Guido de Columpnis, i. e. Columnis (House of Fame, 1469). Chaucer’s obligations to this author have been insufficiently explored.
When, in 1889, in printing the Legend of Good Women with an accuracy never before attempted, I restored the MS. reading Guido for the Ouyde of all previous editions in l. 1396, a clue was thus obtained to a new source for some of Chaucer’s work. It was thus made clear that the Legend of Hypsipyle and Medea was primarily derived from this source; and further, that it was from Guido that Chaucer derived his use of Ilioun to mean the citadel of Troy (Leg. of Good Women, 936, and note). In the Nonne Prestes Tale, B 4331, as was pointed out by Tyrwhitt long ago, the dream of Andromache is taken from Guido. And I find in Lounsbury’s Studies in Chaucer, ii. 315, the significant but insufficient remark, that ‘it was in Guido da (sic) Colonna’s work that Chaucer found the martial deeds of Troilus recounted in full, the slaughter he wrought, and the terror he inspired.’ Hence we naturally come to the question, what incidents in Troilus are expressly due to Guido?
§ 10. Before answering this question, it will be best to consider the famous crux, as to the meaning of the word Trophee.
When Lydgate is speaking of his master’s Troilus, viz. in his Prologue to the Falls of Princes, st. 3, he says that Chaucer
No book or author is now known by that name; and, as Chaucer was in this case much indebted to Boccaccio, critics have jumped to the conclusion that Trophee means either Boccaccio or the Filostrato; and this conclusion has been supported by arguments so hopeless as to need no repetition. But it is most likely that Lydgate, who does not seem to have known any Italian1 , spoke somewhat casually; and, as Chaucer was to some extent indebted to Guido, he may possibly have meant Guido.
So far, I have merely stated a supposition which is, in itself, possible; but I shall now adduce what I believe to be reasonable and solid proof of it.
We have yet another mention of Trophee, viz. in Chaucer himself! In the Monkes Tale, B 3307, he says of Hercules—
Whence, we may ask, is this taken? My answer is, from Guido.
§ 11. If we examine the sources of the story of Hercules in the Monkes Tale, we see that all the supposed facts except the one mentioned in the two lines above quoted are taken from Boethius and Ovid (see the Notes). Now the next most obvious source of information was Guido’s work, since the very first Book has a good deal about Hercules, and the Legend of Hypsipyle clearly shews us that Chaucer was aware of this. And, although neither Ovid (in Met. ix.) nor Boethius has any allusion to the Pillars of Hercules, they are expressly mentioned by Guido. In the English translation called the Gest Historiale of the Destruction of Troy, ed. Panton and Donaldson (which I call, for brevity, the alliterative Troy-book), l. 308, we read:—
And again, further on, the Latin text has:—‘Locus ille, in quo predicte Herculis columpne sunt affixe, dicitur Saracenica lingua Saphy.’ To which is added, that Alexander afterwards came to the same spot.
When Lydgate, in translating Guido, comes to this passage, he says:—
We can now easily see that, when Lydgate speaks of the book ‘which called is Trophe in Lumbarde tong,’ he is simply copying the name of the book from Chaucer, though he seems also to have heard some rumour of its being so called in Italy.
§ 12.Why this particular book was so called, we have no means of knowing1 ; but this does not invalidate the fact here pointed out. Of course the Latin side-note in some of the MSS. of the Monkes Tale, which explains ‘Trophee’ as referring to ‘ille vates Chaldeorum Tropheus,’ must be due to some mistake, even if it emanated (as is possible) from Chaucer himself. It is probable that, when the former part of the Monkes Tale was written, Chaucer did not know much about Guido’s work; for the account of Hercules occurs in the very first chapter. Perhaps he confused the name of Tropheus with that of Trogus, i. e. Pompeius Trogus the historian, whose work is one of the authorities for the history of the Assyrian monarchy.
§ 13. It remains for me to point out some of the passages in Troilus which are clearly due to Guido, and are not found in Boccaccio at all.
Book I. 145-7:—
The reference here is simply to Guido’s history, whence, and not at first hand, both Chaucer and his readers could easily get the required information. Guido constantly refers to these authors; and, although he speaks disrespectfully of Homer2 , he professes to put great faith in Dares and Dytes, whose names he frequently cites as being those of his best authorities3 .
With the description of Troilus in ll. 1072-1085, it is interesting to compare the words of Guido, in Book VIII. ‘Troilus vero, licet multum fuit corpore magnus, magis fuit tamen corde magnanimus; animosus multum, set multam habuit in sua animositate temperiem; dilectus plurimum a puellis cum ipse aliqualem seruando modestiam delectaretur in illis. In viribus et strenuitate bellandi uel fuit alius Hector uel secundus ab ipso. In toto eciam regno Troie iuuenis nullus fuit tantis viribus nec tanta audacia gloriosus1 .’ The latter part of this description should be compared with Book II. 157-161, where the very phrase ‘Ector the secounde’ is used; see also ll. 181-189.
§ 14. Book II. 618. ‘The yate . . Of Dardanus.’ The six gates of Troy are named in Guido, Book IV, ‘Quarum vna Dardanides, secunda Tymbrea, tercia Helyas, quarta Chetas, quinta Troiana, vltima Anthenorides vocabantur.’
‘The furst and the fairest fourmet was Dardan.’
Allit. Troy-book, l. 1557.
Lydgate keeps the form ‘Dardanydes’; cap. xi. fol. F 5.
§ 15. Book IV. 204. ‘For he was after traytour to the toun.’ The treason of Antenor is told by Guido at great length; see ‘Boke xxviii’ of the allit. Troy-book, p. 364; Lydgate, Siege of Troye, Y 6, back. Cf. Dictys Cretensis, lib. iv. c. 22.
Book IV. 1397, &c. ‘For al Apollo and his clerkish lawes,’ &c. Guido gives rather a long account of the manner in which Criseyde upbraided her father Chalcas at their meeting. Chaucer says nothing about this matter in Book V. 193, but he here introduces an account of the same speech, telling us that Creseyde intended to make it! I quote from Book XIX. ‘Sane deceperunt te Apollinis friuola responsa, a quo dicis te suscepisse mandatum vt tu paternas Lares desereres, et tuos in tanta acerbitate Penates2 sic tuis specialiter hostibus adhereres. Sane non fuit ille deus Apollo, set, puto, fuit comitiua infernalium Furiarum a quibus responsa talia recepisti.’ Cf. allit. Troy-book, 8103-40; and observe that Lydgate, in his Siege of Troye, R 3, back, omits the speech of Criseyde to her father, on the ground that it is given in Chaucer. Yet such is not the case, unless we allow the present passage to stand for it. In Book V. 194, Chaucer (following Boccaccio) expressly says that she was mute!
Book IV. 1695-1701. This last stanza is not in Boccaccio; but the general sense of it is in Guido, Book XIX, where the interview ends thus:—‘Set diei Aurora quasi superueniente uicina, Troilus a Brisaida in multis anxietatibus et doloribus discessit; et ea relicta ad sui palacii menia properauit.’ Lydgate, at this point, refers us to Chaucer; Siege of Troye, fol. R 2, back. The allit. Troy-book actually does the same; l. 8054.
16. Book V. 92-189. These fourteen stanzas are not in Boccaccio. The corresponding passage in Guido (Book XIX) is as follows:—
‘Troilus et Troiani redeunt, Grecis eam recipientibus in suo commeatu. Inter quos dum esset Diomedes, et illam Diomedes inspexit, statim in ardore veneris exarsit et eam vehementi desiderio concupiuit, qui collateralis associando Brisaidam cum insimul equitarent, sui ardoris flammam continere non valens Brisaide reuelat sui estuantis cordis amorem; quam in multis affectuosis verbis et blandiciis necnon et promissionibus reuera magnificis allicere satis humiliter est rogatus. Set Brisaida in primis monitis, vt mulierum moris est, suum prestare recusauit assensum; nec tamen passa est quin post multa Diomedis verba, ipsum nolens a spe sua deicere verbis similibus dixit ei: “Amoris tui oblaciones ad presens nec repudio nec admitto, cum cor meum non sit ad presens ita dispositum quod tibi possim aliter respondere.” ’
Book V. 799-8051 . The description of Diomede in Boccaccio (Fil. VI. 33) is merely as follows:—
The account in Guido (Book VIII) is as follows:—‘Diomedes vero multa fuit proceritate, distensus amplo pectore, robustis scapulis, aspectu ferox; in promissis fallax; in armis strenuus; victorie cupidus; timendus a multis, cum multum esset iniuriosus; sermonibus sibi nimis impaciens, cum molestus seruientibus nimis esset; libidinosus quidem multum, et qui multas traxit angustias ob feruorem amoris.’ Cf. allit. Troy-book, ll. 3794-3803; Lydgate, Siege of Troye, fol. K 1, back.
Book V. 810. To gon y-tressed, &c. Perhaps suggested by the remark in Guido (Book XIX) that Cressid’s hair was unbound in her hour of deepest sorrow:—‘aureos crines suos a lege ligaminis absolutos a lactea sui capitis cute diuellit.’ Cf. IV. 736.
Book V. 827-840. Troilus is not described by Boccaccio. Guido’s description of him has already been quoted above; see remarks on Book I. 1072; pp. lvi, lvii.
Book V. 1002-4. The parallel passage in Guido has already been quoted, viz.: ‘Amoris tui oblaciones ad presens nec repudio nec admitto.’ See remarks on l. 92; p. lviii.
Book V. 1013. Obviously from Guido; the passage follows soon after that last quoted. ‘Associauit [Diomedes] eam vsquequo Brisaida recipere in sui patris tentoria se debebat. Et ea perueniente ibidem, ipse eam ab equo descendentem promptus adiuit, et vnam de cirothecis1 , quam Brisaida gerebat in manu, ab ea nullo percipiente furtiue subtraxit. Set cum ipsa sola presensit, placitum furtum dissimulauit amantis.’
For this incident of the glove, cf. allit. Troy-book, l. 8092.
Book V. 1023-1099. This passage is not in Boccaccio. Several hints for it seem to have been taken from Guido, Book XIX, whence I quote the following.
‘Nondum dies illa ad horas declinauerat vespertinas, cum iam suas Brisaida recentes mutauerat voluntates,’ &c. . . ‘Et iam nobilis Troili amor ceperat in sua mente tepescere, et sic repente subito facta volubilis se in omnibus variauit. Quid est ergo quod dicitur de constancia mulierum,’ &c.
‘Tunc ilico Diomedes superuenit . . qui repente in Troilum irruit, ipsum ab equo prosternit, ab eo auferens equum suum, quem per suum nuncium specialem ad Brisaidam in exennium2 destinauit, mandans nuncio suo predicto vt Brisaide nunciet equum ipsum eius fuisse dilecti . . . . Brisaida vero equum Troili recepit hilariter, et ipsi nuncio refert hec verba: “Dic secure domino tuo quod illum odio habere non possum, qui me tanta puritate cordis affectat . . . . [Diomedes] Brisaidam accedit, et eam suplex hortatur vt sibi consenciat in multitudine lacrimarum. Set illa, que multum vigebat sagacitatis astucia, Diomedem sagacibus machinacionibus differre procurat, ut ipsum afflictum amoris incendio magis affligat, et eius amoris vehemenciam in maioris augmentum ardoris extollat. Vnde Diomedi suum amorem non negat, etiam nec promittit.” ’
In l. 1039, read he, i. e. Diomede; see my note on the line, at p. 499.
In l. 1037, the story means the Historia Troiana; and in l. 1044, in the stories elles-where means ‘elsewhere in the same History.’ The passage (in Book XXV) is as follows:—
‘Troilus autem tunc amorem Brisaide Diomedi obprobriosis verbis improperat; set Greci Diomedem . . . abstraxerunt’ . .
‘Interim Brisaida contra patris sui voluntatem videre Diomedem in lecto suo iacentem ex vulnere sibi facto frequenter accedit, et licet sciuisset illum a Troilo dudum dilecto suo sic vulneratum, multa tamen in mente sua reuoluit; et dum diligenter attendit de se iungenda cum Troilo nullam sibi superesse fiduciam, totum suum animum, tanquam varia et mutabilis, sicut est proprium mulierum, in Diomedis declinat amorem.’
Cf. Troy-book, ll. 9942-59; Lydgate, Siege of Troye, fol. U 4.
Book V. 1558-60. The treacherous slaughter of Hector by Achilles is in Guido, near the end of Book XXV. See my note to l. 1558, at p. 503.
Book V. 1771. ‘Read Dares.’ This merely means that Guido cites Dares as his authority for the mighty deeds of Troilus. In Book XXV, I find:—‘Scripsit enim Dares, quod illo die mille milites interfecit [Troilus] ex Grecis’; cf. l. 1802 below. So in the allit. Troy-book, ll. 9877-9:—
So Lydgate, Siege of Troye, fol. U 3, back:—
I. e. he only knew of Dares through the medium of Guido. In fact, Dares (capp. 29, 31, 32) has ‘multos,’ not ‘mille.’
Book V. 1849-1855. The introduction of this stanza is quite irrelevant, unless we remember that, in Guido, the story of Troy is completely mixed up with invectives against idolatry. In Book X, there is a detailed account of the heathen gods, the worship of which is attributed to the instigation of fiends. See the long account in the allit. Troy-book, ll. 4257-4531, concluding with the revelation by Apollo to Calchas of the coming fall of Troy. Cf. Lydgate, Siege of Troye, fol. K 6. Of course, this notion of the interference of the gods in the affairs of the Greeks and Trojans is ultimately due to Homer.
§ 17. With regard to the statement in Guido, that Achilles slew Hector treacherously, we must remember how much turns upon this assertion. His object was to glorify the Trojans, the supposed ancestors of the Roman race, and to depreciate the Greeks. The following passage from Guido, Book XXV, is too characteristic to be omitted. ‘Set o Homere, qui in libris tuis Achillem tot laudibus, tot preconiis extulisti, que probabilis racio te induxit, vt Achillem tantis probitatis meritis vel titulis exultasses?’ Such was the general opinion about Homer in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
§ 18. This is not the place for a full consideration of the further question, as to the sources of information whence Boccaccio and Guido respectively drew their stories. Nor is it profitable to search the suppose works of Dares and Dictys for the passages to which Chaucer appears to refer; since he merely knew those authors by name, owing to Guido’s frequent appeals to them. Nevertheless, it is interesting to find that Guido was quite as innocent as were Chaucer and Lydgate of any knowledge of Dares and Dictys at first hand. He acquired his great reputation in the simplest possible way, by stealing the whole of his ‘History’ bodily, from a French romance by Benoît de Sainte-More, entitled Le Roman de Troie, which has been well edited and discussed by Mons. A. Joly. Mons. Joly has shewn that the Roman de Troie first appeared between the years 1175 and 1185; and that Guido’s Historia Troiana is little more than an adaptation of it, which was completed in the year 1287, without any acknowledgment as to its true source.
Benoît frequently cites Dares (or Daires), and at the end of his poem, ll. 30095-6, says:—
In his Hist. of Eng. Literature (E. version, ii. 113), Ten Brink remarks that, whilst Chaucer prefers to follow Guido rather than Benoît in his Legend of Good Women, he ‘does the exact opposite to what he did in Troilus.’ For this assertion I can find but little proof. It is hard to find anything in Benoît’s lengthy Romance which he may not have taken, much more easily, from Guido. There are, however, just a few such points in Book V. 1037-1078. Thus, in l. 1038, Criseyde gives Diomede Troilus’ horse; cf. Benoît, l. 15046—‘lo cheval Vos presterai.’ L. 1043 is from the same, ll. 15102-4:—
Ll. 1051-7 answer to the same, beginning at l. 20233; and l. 1074 is from the same, l. 20308:—‘Dex donge bien à Troylus!’ I doubt if there is much more.
For some further account of the works ascribed to Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis, both duly edited among the ‘Delphin Classics,’ I must refer the reader to Smith’s Classical Dictionary.
§ 19. The whole question of the various early romances that relate to Troy is well considered in a work entitled ‘Testi Inediti di Storia Trojana, preceduti da uno studio sulla Leggenda Trojana in Italia, per Egidio Gorra; Torino, 1887’; where various authorities are cited, and specimens of several texts are given. At p. 136 are given the very lines of Benoît’s Roman (ll. 795-6) where Guido found a reference to the columns of Hercules:—
This hint he has somewhat elaborated, probably because he took a personal interest in ‘columns,’ on account of their reference to his own name—‘delle Colonne.’ I believe that the notion of Alexander finding Hercules’ Pillars is due to a rather large blunder in geography. Hercules set up his pillars ‘at the end of the world,’ viz. at the straits of Gibraltar, whereas Alexander set up his at another ‘end of the world,’ viz. at the furthest point of India which he succeeded in reaching. So says his Romance; see Alexander and Dindimus, ed. Skeat, l. 1137; Wars of Alexander, l. 5063. The setting up of pillars as boundary-marks seems to have been common; cf. Vergil, Æn. xi. 262. Among the points noticed by Gorra, I may mention the following:—
1. Some account (p. 7) of the Ephemeris Belli Troiani by Dictys Cretensis, who, it was pretended, accompanied Idomeneus to the Trojan war. Achilles is depicted in dark colours; he is treacherous towards Agamemnon; falls in love with the Trojan princess, Polyxena; and slays Hector by a stratagem. It appears to have been a work of invention, resting upon no Greek original.
2. Some account (p. 17) of the Historia de Excidio Troiae of Dares Phrygius, a work which (as was pretended) was discovered by Cornelius Nepos. This also, in the opinion of most critics, was an original work. At p. 115, there is a comparison of the lists of Greek leaders and the number of their ships (cf. Homer, Il. ii.) as given by Dares, Benoît, and Guido.
3. At p. 123, there is an enumeration of points in which Guido varies from Benoît.
4. At p. 152, is an account of some Italian prose versions of the story of Troy. Such are: La Istorietta Trojana, with extracts from it at p. 371; a romance by Binduccio dello Scelto, with extracts relating to ‘Troilo e Briseida’ at p. 404; a version of Guido by Mazzeo Bellebuoni, with extracts relating to ‘Paride ed Elena’ at p. 443; an anonymous version, with extracts relating to ‘Giasone e Medea’ at p. 458; a version in the Venetian dialect, with extracts relating to ‘Ettore ed Ercole’ at p. 481; another anonymous version, with extracts at p. 493; and La ‘Fiorita’ of Armannino, Giudice da Bologna, with extracts at p. 532.
5. At p. 265, is an account of Italian poetical versions, viz. Enfances Hector, Poema d’Achille, Il Trojano di Domenico da Montechiello, Il Trojano a stampa (i. e. a printed edition of Il Trojano), and L’Intelligenza. At p. 336, Boccaccio’s Filostrato is discussed; followed by a brief notice of an anonymous poem, also in ottava rima, called Il cantare di Insidoria. It appears that Boccaccio followed some recension of the French text of Benoît, but much of the work is his own invention. In particular, he created the character of Pandaro, who resembles a Neapolitan courtier of his own period.
The most interesting of the extracts given by Gorra are those from Binduccio dello Scelto; at p. 411, we have the incident of Diomede possessing himself of Briseida’s glove, followed by the interview between Briseida and her father Calcas. At p. 413, Diomede overthrows Troilus, takes his horse from him and sends it to Briseida, who receives it graciously; and at p. 417, Briseida gives Diomede her sleeve as a love-token, after which a ‘jousting’ takes place between Diomede and Troilus, in which the former is badly wounded.
For further remarks, we are referred, in particular, to H. Dunger’s Dictys-Septimius: über die ursprüngliche Abfassung und die Quellen der Ephemeris belli Troiani; Dresden, 1878 (Programm des Vitzthumschen Gymnasiums); to another essay by the same author on Die Sage vom trojanischen Kriege, Leipzig, 1869; to Koerting’s Dictys und Dares, &c., Halle, 1874; to A. Joly’s Benoît de Sainte-More et le Roman de Troie, Paris, 1871; and to an article by C. Wagener on Dares Phrygius, in Philologus, vol. xxxviii. The student may also consult E. Meybrinck, Die Auffassung der Antike bei Jacques Millet, Guido de Columna, und Benoît de Ste-More, printed in Ausgaben und Abhandlungen aus dem Gebiete für Romanischen Philologie, Marburg, 1886; where the author concludes that Millet was the originator of the story in France. Also W. Greif, Die mittelalterlichen Bearbeitungen der Trojanersage; Marburg, 1886.
§ 20. A few words may be said as to the names of the characters. Troilus is only once mentioned in Homer, where he is said to be one of the sons of Priam, who were slain in battle, Iliad, xxiv. 257; so that his story is of medieval invention, except as to the circumstance of his slayer being Achilles, as stated by Vergil, Æn. i. 474, 475; cf. Horace, Carm. ii. 9. 16. Pandarus occurs as the name of two distinct personages; (1) a Lycian archer, who wounded Menelaus; see Homer, Il. iv. 88, Vergil, Æn. 5. 496; and (2) a companion of Æneas, slain by Turnus; see Vergil, Æn. ix. 672, xi. 396. Diomede is a well-known hero in the Iliad, but his love-story is of late invention. The heroine of Benoît’s poem is Briseida, of whom Dares (c. 13) has merely the following brief account: ‘Briseidam formosam, alta statura, candidam, capillo flauo et molli, superciliis junctis1 , oculis venustis, corpore aequali, blandam, affabilem, uerecundam, animo simplici, piam’; but he records nothing more about her. The name is simply copied from Homer’s Βρισηΐδα, Il. i. 184, the accusative being taken (as often) as a new nominative case; this Briseis was the captive assigned to Achilles. But Boccaccio substitutes for this the form Griseida, taken from the accusative of Homer’s Chryseis, mentioned just two lines above, Il. i. 182. For this Italian form Chaucer substituted Criseyde, a trisyllabic form, with the ey pronounced as the ey in prey. He probably was led to this correction by observing the form Chryseida in his favourite author, Ovid; see Remed. Amoris, 469. Calchas, in Homer, Il. i. 69, is a Grecian priest; but in the later story he becomes a Trojan soothsayer, who, foreseeing the destruction of Troy, secedes to the Greek side, and is looked upon as a traitor. Cf. Vergil, Æn. ii. 176; Ovid, Art. Amat. ii. 737.
§ 21. In Anglia, xiv. 241, there is a useful comparison, by Dr. E. Köppel, of the parallel passages in Troilus and the French Roman de la Rose, ed. Méon, Paris, 1814, which I shall denote by ‘R.’ These are mostly pointed out in the Notes. Köppel’s list is as follows:—
Troilus. I. 635 (cf. III. 328).—Rom. Rose, 8041. 637.—R. 21819. 747.—R. 7595. 810.—R. 21145. 969.—R. 12964.
II. 167.—R. 5684. 193.—R. 8757. 716.—R. 5765. 754.—R. 6676. 784 (cf. III. 1035).—R. 12844. 1564.—R. 18498.
III. 294.—R. 7085. 328; see I. 635. 1035; see II. 784. 1634.—R. 8301.
IV. 7.—R. 8076. 519.—R. 6406. 1398.—R. 6941.
V. 365.—R. 18709.
Some of the resemblances are but slight; but others are obvious. The numbers refer to the beginning of a passage; sometimes the really coincident lines are found a little further on.
The parallel passages common to Troilus and Boethius are noted above, pp. xxviii-xxx.
An excellent and exhaustive treatise on the Language of Chaucer’s Troilus, by Prof. Kitteredge, is now (1893) being printed for the Chaucer Society. A Ryme-Index to the same, compiled by myself, has been published for the same society, dated 1891.
§ 22. I have frequently alluded above to the alliterative ‘Troy-book,’ or ‘Gest Historiale,’ edited for the Early English Text Society, in 1869-74, by Panton and Donaldson. This is useful for reference, as being a tolerably close translation of Guido, although a little imperfect, owing to the loss of some leaves and some slight omissions (probably) on the part of the scribe. It is divided into 36 Books, which agree, very nearly, with the Books into which the original text is divided. The most important passages for comparison with Troilus are lines 3922-34 (description of Troilus); 3794-3803 (Diomede); 7268-89 (fight between Troilus and Diomede); 7886-7905 (Briseida and her dismissal from Troy); 8026-8181 (sorrow of Troilus and Briseida, her departure, and the interviews between Briseida and Diomede, and between her and Calchas her father); 8296-8317 (Diomede captures Troilus’ horse, and presents it to Briseida); 8643-60 (death of Hector); 9671-7, 9864-82, 9926-9 (deeds of Troilus); 9942-59 (Briseida visits the wounded Diomede); 10055-85, 10252-10311 (deeds of Troilus, and his death); 10312-62 (reproof of Homer for his false statements).
At l. 8053, we have this remarkable allusion; speaking of Briseida and Troilus, the translator says:—
I. e. whoever wishes to know more about their wo, let him turn to Troilus, and there find enough. This is a clear allusion to Chaucer’s work by its name, and helps to date the translation as being later than 1380 or 1382. And, as the translator makes no allusion to Lydgate’s translation of Guido, the date of which is 1412-20, we see that he probably wrote between 1382 and 14202 ; so that the date ‘about 1400,’ adopted in the New Eng. Dictionary (s. v. Bercelet, &c.) cannot be far wrong3 .
§ 23. Another useful book, frequently mentioned above, is Lydgate’s Siege of Troye2 , of which I possess a copy printed in 1555. This contains several allusions to Chaucer’s Troilus, and more than one passage in praise of Chaucer’s poetical powers, two of which are quoted in Mr. Rossetti’s remarks on MS. Harl. 3943 (Chaucer Soc. 1875), pp. x, xi. These passages are not very helpful, though it is curious to observe that he speaks of Chaucer not only as ‘my maister Chaucer,’ but as ‘noble Galfride, chefe Poete of Brytaine,’ and ‘my maister Galfride.’ The most notable passages occur in cap. xv, fol. K 2; cap. xxv, fol. R 2, back; and near the end, fol. Ee 2. Lydgate’s translation is much more free than the preceding one, and he frequently interpolates long passages, besides borrowing a large number of poetical expressions from his ‘maister.’
§ 24. Finally, I must not omit to mention the remarkable poem by Robert Henrysoun, called the Testament and Complaint of Criseyde, which forms a sequel to Chaucer’s story. Thynne actually printed this, in his edition of 1532, as one of Chaucer’s poems, immediately after Troilus; and all the black-letter editions follow suit. Yet the 9th and 10th stanzas contain these words, according to the edition of 1532:—
§ 25.The Manuscripts.
1. MS. Cl.—The Campsall MS., on vellum, written before 1413; prepared for Henry, Prince of Wales, afterwards Henry V, as shewn by his arms on leaf 2. The poem occupies leaves 2-120; each page usually contains five stanzas. Two pages have been reproduced by the autotype process for the Chaucer Society; viz. leaf 1, recto, containing stanzas 1-5, and leaf 42, verso, containing stanzas 249-251 of Book II, and stanza 1 of Book III. This is a beautifully written MS., and one of the best; but it is disappointing to find that it might easily have been much better. The scribe had a still better copy before him, which he has frequently treated with supreme carelessness; but it is some consolation to find that his mistakes are so obvious that they can easily be corrected. Thus, in Book I, l. 27, he writes dorst for dorste, though it ruins the grammar and the metre; in l. 31, he actually has hym for hem, to the destruction of the sense; in l. 69, he has high (!) for highte; and so on. It therefore requires careful control. In particular, the scribe gives many examples of the fault of ‘anticipation,’ i.e. the fault whereby the mind, swifter than the pen, has induced him to write down letters that belong to a later syllable or word, or to omit one or more letters. Thus in Book I, l. 80, he omits u in pryuely, writing pryely; in l. 126, he omits and before hoom; in l. 198, he omits lewede; in l. 275, he omits gan; &c. But the faults of ‘anticipation’ appear most clearly in such startling forms as addermost for aldermost, I. 248, where the former d is due to the one that is coming; assent for absent, IV. 1642, for a like reason; estal for estat, because the next word is royal, I. 432; þyn for þyng, because the next word is myn, I. 683; nat for nas, because the next word is not, I. 738; seynt for seyn, because the next word is that, V. 369; shad for shal, because the next word is drede, V. 385; liten for litel, because weten follows, IV. 198; make for may, because the line ends with wake, III. 341; fleld for feld, II. 195. Sometimes, however, the scribe’s mind reverts to something already written, so that we find Delphebus for Delphicus, because Phebus precedes, I. 70; bothen for bothe, because deden precedes, I. 82; falles for fallen, after unhappes, II. 456; daunder for daunger, III. 1321; tolle for tolde, III 802; &c. Downright blunders are not uncommon; as incocent for innocent (where again the former c is due to the latter), II. 1723; agarst for agast, III. 737; right for rit, V. 60. We even find startling variations in the reading, as in III. 1408:—
Certainly, shep (sheep) is irrelevant enough; however, Chaucer refers to sleep. And again, the line in II. 1554, which should run—
As for to bidde a wood man for to renne
appears in the startling form—
As for to bydde a womman for to renne.
As all the variations of ‘Cl.’ from the correct text are given in the foot-notes, it is not necessary to say more about these peculiarities. I must add, however, that, as in Boethius, I have silently corrected yn to in in such words as thing; besides altering ee and oo to e and o in open syllables, writing v for u, and the like. See above.
The Campsall MS., now in the possession of Mr. Bacon Frank, has been printed in full, as written, for the Chaucer Society; and I have relied upon the accuracy of this well-edited print.
2. MS. Cp.—MS. No. 61 in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, described in Nasmith’s Catalogue, p. 40, as ‘a parchment book in folio neatly written, and ornamented with a frontispiece richly illuminated, containing Chaucer’s Troilus, in four [error for five] books.’ It is a fine folio MS., 12 inches by 8½. This MS., noticed by Warton, has not as yet been printed, though the Chaucer Society have undertaken to print it, upon my recommendation. It contains many pages that are left wholly or partially blank, obviously meant to be supplied with illuminations; which shews that it was written for some wealthy person. On the left margin, near the 83rd stanza of Book IV, is a note of ownership, in a hand of the fifteenth century—‘neuer foryeteth: Anne neuyll.’ This probably refers to Anne Neville, wife of Humphrey, duke of Buckingham (who was killed at Northampton in 1460), and daughter of Ralph Neville, earl of Westmoreland, and of Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt. That is, she was John of Gaunt’s granddaughter; and it seems reasonable to infer that the MS. was actually written for one of John of Gaunt’s family. This probability is a very interesting one, when we consider how much Chaucer owed to John of Gaunt’s favour and protection.
The MS. is slightly deficient, owing to the omission of a few stanzas; but not much is missing. It is of a type closely resembling the preceding, and gives excellent readings. I have therefore taken the opportunity of founding the text upon a close collation of Cl. and Cp., taking Cl. as the foundation, but correcting it by Cp. throughout, without specifying more than the rejected reading of Cl. in passages where these MSS. differ. In this way the numerous absurdities of Cl. (as noted above) have been easily corrected, and the resulting text is a great improvement upon all that have hitherto appeared. In a few places, as shewn by the foot-notes, the readings of other MSS. have been preferred.
3. MS. H.—MS. Harl. 2280, in the British Museum. An excellent MS., very closely related to both the preceding. Printed in full for the Chaucer Society, and collated throughout in the present edition. It was taken as the basis of the text in Morris’s Aldine edition, which in many passages closely resembles the present text. It is certainly the third best MS. One leaf is missing (Bk. V. 1345-1428; twelve stanzas).
4. MS. Cm.—MS. Gg. 4. 27, in the Cambridge University Library; the same MS. as that denoted by ‘Cm.’ in the foot-notes to the Canterbury Tales, and by ‘C.’ in the foot-notes to the Legend of Good Women. A remarkable MS., printed in full for the Chaucer Society. It exhibits a different type of text from that found in Cl., Cp., and H. The most noteworthy differences are as follows. In Bk. ii. 734, 5, this MS. has quite a different couplet, viz.:
Bk. ii. 792 runs thus:—
How ofte tyme may men rede and se.
Bk. iv. 309-15 (stanza 45) runs thus:—
Bk. iv. 638 runs thus:—
Pandare answerde, of that be as be may.
After Bk. iv. 735, MS. Cm. introduces the following stanza, which, in the present text, appears a little later (ll. 750-6) in a slightly altered form.
Bk. iv. 806-33 (four stanzas) are omitted; so also are the 18 stanzas referring to Free-Will, viz. Bk. iv. 953-1078. Bk. v. 230-1 runs thus:—
We cannot believe that Bk. iv. 309-15, as here given, can be genuine1 ; but it seems possible that some of the other readings may be so. The stanza, Bk. iv. 750-6, as here given, seems to represent the first draft of these lines, which were afterwards altered to the form in which they appear in the text, whilst at the same time the stanza was shifted down. However, this is mere speculation; and it must be confessed that, in many places, this MS. is strangely corrupted. Several stanzas have only six lines instead of seven, and readings occur which set all ideas of rime at defiance. Thus, in I. 1260, paste (riming with caste) appears as passede; in I. 1253, ryde (riming with aspyde) appears as rydende; in III. 351, hayes (riming with May is) appears as halis; &c.
Yet the MS. is worth collating, as it gives, occasionally, some excellent readings. For example, in Bk. i. 143, it preserves the word here, which other MSS. wrongly omit; and, in the very next line, rightly has to longe dwelle, not to longe to dwelle.
The MS. has been, at some time, shamefully maltreated by some one who has cut out several leaves, no doubt for the sake of their illuminated initials. Hence the following passages do not appear: I. 1-70; I. 1037—II. 84; III. 1-56; III .1807—IV. 112; IV. 1667—V. 35; V. 1702—end (together with a piece at the beginning of the Canterbury Tales).
5. MS. H2.—Harleian MS. 3943, in the British Museum. Printed in full for the Chaucer Society in 1875, together with a most valuable line by line collation with Boccaccio’s Filostrato, by Wm. Michael Rossetti. Referred to in Prof. Lounsbury’s Studies in Chaucer, i. 398, as ‘much the worst that has been printed,’ where his object is to depreciate its authority. Yet it is well worth a careful study, and it must be particularly borne in mind that it consists of two parts, written at different dates, and of different value. In Bell’s Chaucer, we read of it:—‘Unfortunately it is imperfect. The first few leaves, and the whole of the latter part of the poem, appear to have been destroyed, and the deficiency supplied by a later copyist.’ The late hand occurs in I. 1-70, 498-567, III. 1429-1638, IV. 197—end, and Book V.; and thus occupies a large portion of the MS. Moreover, two leaves are lost after leaf 59, comprising III. 1289-1428; these are supplied in Dr. Furnivall’s edition from Harl. 1239, which accounts for the extraordinary disorder in which these stanzas are arranged. The MS. also omits III. 1744-1771, and some other stanzas occasionally.
This is one of those curious MSS. which, although presenting innumerable corrupt readings (the worst being Commodious for Commeveden in III. 17), nevertheless have some points of contact with an excellent source. All editors must have observed a few such cases. Thus, in II. 615, it happily restores the right reading latis, where the ordinary reading gates is ludicrously wrong. In III. 49, it supplies the missing word gladnes. In V. 8, it has ‘The Auricomus tressed Phebus hie on lofte,’ instead of ‘The golden tressed’; and this reading, though false, lets us into the secret of the origin of this epithet, viz. that it translates the Latin auricomus; see note to the line. In the very next line, V. 9, it preserves the correct reading bemes shene1 , riming with grene, quene, where other MSS. have bemes clere, a reminiscence of the opening line of Book III. Hence I have carefully collated this MS., and all readings of value are given in the Notes. See, e. g. III. 28, 49, 136, 551, 1268, 1703, &c.
6. MS. Harl. 1239 (B. M.). ‘It is an oblong folio, written from the beginning in a small, clear character, which ceases at an earlier place [III. 231] than the change occurs in MS. 3943 [IV. 197], leaving the remainder comparatively useless as an authority.’—Bell. Dr. Furnivall has printed the passages in III. 1289-1428, and III. 1744-1771, from this MS. to supply the gaps in H 2 (see above); we thus see that it transposes several of the stanzas, and is but a poor authority.
7. MS. Harl. 2392 (B. M.). A late MS. on paper, not very correct; once the property of Sir H. Spelman. As an example of a strange reading, observe ‘O mortal Gower,’ in V. 1856. Still, it has the correct reading sheene in V. 9; and in III. 49, supplies the rare reading gladnesse, which is necessary to the sense.
This MS. has a large number of notes and glosses. Some are of small interest, but others are of value, and doubtless proceeded from the author himself, as they furnish useful references and explanations. I here notice the best of them.
II. 8. ‘Cleo: domina eloquencie.’ This view of Clio explains the context.
II. 784. Side-note: ‘nota mendacium.’ A remarkable comment.
II. 1238-9. ‘Leuis impressio, leuis recessio.’ Clearly, a proverb.
III. 933. ‘Dulcarnon: i. fuga miserorum.’ This proves that Chaucer confused the 47th proposition of Euclid with the 5th; see note.
III. 1177. ‘Beati misericordes’; from Matt. v. 7.
III. 1183. ‘Petite et accipi[e]tis’; a remarkable comment.
III. 1415. ‘Gallus vulgaris astrologus; Alanus, de Planctu Nature’; see note.
III. 1417. ‘Lucifera: stella matutina.’
III. 1466. ‘Aurora: amica solis’; shewing the confusion of Tithonus with Titan.
IV. 22. ‘Herine (sic), furie infernales; unde Lucanus, me pronuba duxit Herinis.’ This proves that Chaucer really took the name from Lucan, Phars. viii. 90, q. v.
IV. 32. ‘Sol in Leone’; i. e. the sun was in Leo; see note.
IV. 600. ‘Audaces fortuna iuuat’; error for ‘Audentes’; see note.
IV. 790. ‘Vmbra subit terras,’ &c.; Ovid, Met. xi. 61.
IV. 836. ‘Extrema gaudii luctus’; see note.
IV. 1138. ‘Flet tamen, et tepide,’ &c.; Ovid, Met. x. 500.
IV. 1504. ‘Non est bonum perdere substantiam propter accidens.’
IV. 1540. ‘Styx, puteus infernalis.’ Chaucer’s mistake.
V. 8. ‘The gold-tressed Phebus,’ glossed ‘Auricomus Sol’; which is from Valerius Flaccus; see note.
V. 319. Reference to Ovid’s Metamorphoses; see note.
V. 655. ‘Latona, i. luna’; shewing that ‘Latona’ is miswritten for ‘Lucina.’ Cf. IV. 1591.
V. 664. Reference to Ovid, Metam. ii. See note.
V. 1039. For ‘she,’ MS. has ‘he,’ correctly (see note); side-note, ‘Nota, de donis c. d.’, i. e. of Criseyde to Diomede.
V. 1107. ‘Laurigerus’; see note.
V. 1110. ‘Nisus,’ glossed ‘rex’; ‘douhter,’ glossed ‘alauda’; see note.
V. 1548. ‘Parodye: duracio’; see note.
V. 1550. ‘Vnbodye: decorporare.’
There are many more such glosses, of lesser interest.
8. MS. Harl. 4912 (B. M.). On vellum; rather large pages, with wide margins; five stanzas on the page. Imperfect; ends at IV. 686. A poor copy. In III. 49, it retains the rare reading ‘gladnes,’ but miswritten as ‘glanes.’
9. MS. Addit. 12044 (B. M.). On vellum; five stanzas to the page. Last leaf gone; ends at V. 1820. Not a good copy. In III. 17, it has ‘Comeued hem,’ an obvious error for ‘Comeueden,’ which is the true reading. In V. 8, it has ‘golden dressed,’ error for ‘golden tressed.’ Note this correct form ‘golden’; for it is miswritten as ‘gold’ or ‘golde’ in nearly all other copies.
The next four are in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
10. Arch. Seld. B. 24 is the Scottish MS., dated 1472, described in the Introduction to the Minor Poems, where it is denoted by ‘Ar.,’ and fully collated throughout the Legend of Good Women, where it appears in the foot-notes as ‘A.’ It seems to be the best of the Oxford MSS., and has some good readings. In III. 17, it has ‘Commeued tham’ for ‘Commeueden,’ which is near enough for a MS. that so freely drops inflexions; and the line ends with ‘and amoreux tham made.’ In III. 49, it correctly preserves ‘gladness.’
11. MS. Rawlinson, Poet. 163. Not a very good copy. It omits the Prologue to Book III. At the end is the colophon:—
I take ‘Tregentyll’ to be the scribe’s name1 . Besides the ‘Troilus,’ the MS. contains, on a fly-leaf, the unique copy of the Balade to Rosemounde, beneath which is written (as in the former case) ‘tregentil’ to the left of the page, and ‘chaucer’ to the right; connected by a thin stroke. See my ‘Twelve Facsimiles of Old English MSS.’; Plate XII.
12. MS. Arch. Seld. supra 56. Small quarto, 8 inches by 5½, on paper; vellum binding; writing clear. A poor copy. The grammar shews a Northern dialect.
13. MS. Digby 181. Incomplete; nearly half being lost. It ends at III. 532—‘A certayn houre in which she come sholde. A poor copy, closely allied to the preceding. Thus, in III. 17, both have moreux for amoreux; in III. 2, both have Adornes; in III. 6, both absurdly have Off (Of) for O; and so on.
14. MS. L. 1, in St. John’s College, Cambridge. A fair MS., perhaps earlier than 1450. Subjoined to the Troilus is a sixteenth century copy of the Testament of Creseide. Quarto; on vellum; 10 inches by 6½; in 10 sheets of 12 leaves each. Leaf g 12 is cut out, and g 11 is blank, but nothing seems to be lost. It frequently agrees with Cp., as in I. 5, fro ye; 21, be this; 36, desespeyred; 45, hir ladys so; 70, Delphicus; 308, kan thus. In I. 272, it correctly has: percede; in 337, nouncerteyne. In II. 734, it agrees with H.; 735 runs—‘And whan hem list no lenger, lat hem leue’; a good line. In II. 894, it has ‘mosten axe,’ the very reading which I give; and in II. 968, stalkes.
15. MS. Phillipps 8252; the same MS. as that described in my preface to the C. text of Piers the Plowman, p. xix, where it is numbered XXVIII.
16. A MS. in the Library of Durham Cathedral, marked V. ii. 13. A single stanza of Troilus, viz. I. 631-7, occurs in MS. R. 3. 20, in Trinity College Library, Cambridge; and three stanzas, viz. III. 302-322, in MS. Ff. 1. 6, leaf 150, in the Cambridge University Library; all printed in Odd Texts of Chaucer’s Minor Poems, ed. F. J. Furnivall, Chaucer Society, 1880, pp. x-xii. In 1887, Dr. Stephens found two vellum strips in the cover of a book, containing fragments of a MS. of Troilus (Book V. 1443-1498); see Appendix to the Report of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, May 24, 1887; pp. 331-5.
The MSS. fall, as far as I can tell, into two main families. The larger family is that which resembles Cl., Cp., and H. Of the smaller, Cm. may be taken as the type. The description of Cm. shews some of the chief variations. Observe that many MSS. omit I. 890-6; in the John’s MS., it is inserted in a much later hand. The stanza is obviously genuine.
§ 26.The Editions. ‘Troilus’ was first printed by Caxton, about 1484; but without printer’s name, place, or date. See the description in Blades’ Life of Caxton, p. 297. There is no titlepage. Each page contains five stanzas. Two copies are in the British Museum; one at St. John’s College, Oxford; and one (till lately) was at Althorp. The second edition is by Wynkyn de Worde, in 1517. The third, by Pynson, in 1526. These three editions present Troilus as a separate work. After this, it was included in Thynne’s edition of 1532, and in all the subsequent editions of Chaucer’s Works.
Of these, the only editions accessible to me have been Thynne’s (1532), of which there is a copy in the Cambridge University Library; also the editions of 1550 (or thereabouts) and 1561, of both of which I possess copies.
Thynne’s edition was printed from so good a MS. as to render it an excellent authority. In a few places, I fear he has altered the text for the worse, and his errors have been carefully followed and preserved by succeeding editors. Thus he is responsible for altering io (=jo) into go, III. 33; for creating the remarkable ‘ghost-word’ gofysshe, III. 584; and a few similar curiosities. But I found it worth while to collate it throughout; and readings from it are marked ‘Ed.’ The later black-letter copies are mere reproductions of it.
§ 27.The Present Edition. The present edition has the great advantage of being founded upon Cl. and Cp., neither of which have been previously made use of, though they are the two best. Bell’s text is founded upon the Harleian MSS. numbered 1239, 2280, and 3943, in separate fragments; hence the text is neither uniform nor very good. Morris’s text is much better, being founded upon H. (closely related to Cl. and Cp.), with a few corrections from other unnamed sources.
Thanks to the prints provided by the Chaucer Society, I have been able to produce a text which, I trust, leaves but little to be desired. I point out some of the passages which now appear in a correct form for the first time, as may be seen by comparison with the editions by Morris and Bell, which I denote by M. and B.
I. 136; derre, dearer; M. B. dere (no rime). 285. meninge, i. e. intention; and so in l. 289; M. B. mevynge. 388. M. B. insert a semicolon after arten. 465. fownes (see note); M. B. fantasye (line too long). 470. felle, fell, pl. adj.; M. B. fille, i. e. fell (verb). 590. no comfort; M. comfort; B. eny comfort. 786. Ticius (see note); M. Syciphus; B. Siciphus. 896. Thee oughte; M. To oght (no sense); B. The oght (will not scan). 1026. See note; put as a question in M. B.; B. even inserts not before to done. 1050. me asterte; M. may sterte; B. me stert (better).
II. 41. seyde, i. e. if that they seyde; M. B. seyinge (will not scan). 138. were (would there be); M. B. is. 180. wight; M. B. knyght (but see l. 177). 808. looth; M. B. leve. 834. Ye; M. B. The. 1596. For for; M. B. For.
III. 17. Comeveden (see note); M. Comeneden; B. Commodious. him; M. B. hem. 33. io (= jo); M. B. go. 49. M. B. omit gladnes. 572. Yow thurfte; M. Thow thruste; B. Yow durst. 584. goosish; M. goofish; B. gofisshe. 674. M. Thei voide [present], dronke [past], and traveres drawe [present] anon; B. They voyded, and drunk, and travars drew anone. Really, dronke and drawe are both past participles; see note. 725. Cipris; M. Cyphes; B. Ciphis. 1231. Bitrent and wryth, i. e. winds about and wreathes itself; M. Bytrent and writhe is; B. Bitrent and writhen is. Wryth is short for writheth; not a pp. 1453. bore, i. e. hole; M. boure; B. bowre. 1764. to-hepe, i. e. together; M. B. to kepe.
IV. 538. kyth; M. B. right (no sense). 696. thing is; M. B. thynges is. 818. martyre; M. B. matere (neither sense nor rime).
V. 49. helpen; M. B. holpen. 469. howve; M. B. howen. 583. in my; M. B. omit my. 927. wight; M. B. with. 1208. trustinge; M. B. trusten (against grammar). 1266. bet; M. B. beste. 1335, 6. wyte The teres, i. e. blame the tears; M. B. wite With teres. 1386. Commeve; M. Com in to; B. Can meven. 1467. She; M. B. So. 1791. pace; M. B. space (see note).
It is curious to find that such remarkable words as commeveden, io, voidee, goosish, to-hepe, appear in no Chaucerian glossary; they are only found in the MSS., being ignored in the editions.
A large number of lines are now, for the first time, spelt with forms that comply with grammar and enable the lines to be scanned. For example, M. and B. actually give wente and wonte in V. 546, instead of went and wont; knotles for knotteles in V. 769, &c.
I have also, for the first time, numbered the lines and stanzas correctly. In M., Books III. and IV. are both misnumbered, causing much trouble in reference. Dr. Furnivall’s print of the Campsall MS. omits I. 890-6; and his print of MS. Harl. 3943 counts in the Latin lines here printed at p. 404.
§ 28. It is worth notice that Troilus contains about fifty lines in which the first foot consists of a single syllable. Examples in Book I are:—
So also II. 369, 677, 934, 1034, 1623 (and probably 1687); III. 412, 526, 662, 855 (perhaps 1552), 1570; IV. 176, 601, 716, 842, 1328, 1676; V. 67 (perhaps 311), 334, 402, 802, 823, 825, 831, 880, 887, 949, 950, 1083, 1094, 1151, 1379, 1446, 1454, 1468, 1524.
It thus appears that deficient lines of this character are by no means confined to the poems in ‘heroic verse,’ but occur in stanzas as well. Compare the Parlement of Foules, 445, 569.
§ 29.Proverbs. Troilus contains a considerable number of proverbs and proverbial phrases or similes. See, e. g., I. 257, 300, 631, 638, 694, 708, 731, 740, 946-952, 960, 964, 1002, 1024; II. 343, 398, 403, 585, 784, 804, 807, 861, 867, 1022, 1030, 1041, 1238, 1245, 1332, 1335, 1380, 1387, 1553, 1745; III. 35, 198, 294, 308, 329, 405, 526, 711, 764, 775, 859, 861, 931, 1625, 1633; IV. 184, 415, 421, 460, 588, 595, 622, 728, 836, 1098, 1105, 1374, 1456, 1584; V. 484, 505, 784, 899, 971, 1174, 1265, 1433.
§ 30. A translation of the first two books of Troilus into Latin verse, by Sir Francis Kinaston, was printed at Oxford in 1635. The volume also contains a few notes, but I do not find in them anything of value. The author tries to reproduce the English stanza, as thus:—
For myself, I prefer the English.
§ 31. Hazlitt’s Handbook to Popular Literature records the following title:—‘A Paraphrase vpon the 3 first bookes of Chaucer’s Troilus and Cressida. Translated into modern English . . . by J[onathan] S[idnam]. About 1630. Folio; 70 leaves; in 7-line stanzas.’[Back to Table of Contents]
ERRATA AND ADDENDA.
TROILUS.[Back to Table of Contents]
BOETHIUS DE CONSOLATIONE PHILOSOPHIE.[Back to Table of Contents]
Carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi.
C. = MS. Ii. 3. 21, Cambridge; A. = MS. Addit. 10340 (Brit. Mus.). The text follows C. mainly. Ed. = Printed edition (1532), quoted occasionally.
1, 2. Imperfect in C.
Allas! I, weping, am constreined to biginnen vers of sorowful[ ] matere, that whylom in florisching studie made delitable ditees. For lo! rendinge Muses of poetes endyten to me thinges to be[ ] writen; and drery vers of wrecchednesse weten my face with verray teres. At the leeste, no drede ne mighte overcomen tho5 Muses, that they ne weren felawes, and folweden my wey, that is[ ]to seyn, whan I was exyled; they that weren glorie of my youthe, whylom weleful and grene, comforten now the sorowful werdes of[ ] me, olde man. For elde is comen unwarly upon me, hasted by the harmes that I have, and sorow hath comaunded his age to be10 in me. Heres hore ben shad overtymeliche upon myn heved, and the slake skin trembleth upon myn empted body. Thilke[ ] deeth of men is weleful that ne cometh not in yeres that ben[ ] swete, but cometh to wrecches, often y-cleped.[ ]
Allas! allas! with how deef an ere deeth, cruel, torneth awey15 fro wrecches, and naiteth to closen wepinge eyen! Whyl Fortune,[ ] unfeithful, favorede me with lighte goodes, the sorowful houre,[ ]that is to seyn, the deeth, hadde almost dreynt myn heved. But[ ] now, for Fortune cloudy hath chaunged hir deceyvable chere to20 me-ward, myn unpitous lyf draweth a-long unagreable dwellinges in me. O ye, my frendes, what or wherto avauntede ye me to ben weleful? for he that hath fallen stood nat in stedefast[ ] degree.
Hec dum mecum tacitus ipse reputarem.
Whyle that I stille recordede thise thinges with my-self, and markede my weeply compleynte with office of pointel, I saw ,[ ] stondinge aboven the heighte of myn heved, a woman of ful greet reverence by semblaunt, hir eyen brenninge and cleer-seinge over5 the comune might of men; with a lyfly colour, and with swich vigour and strengthe that it ne mighte nat ben empted ; al were it[ ] so that she was ful of so greet age, that men ne wolde nat trowen, in no manere, that she were of oure elde. The stature of hir was of a doutous Iugement; for som-tyme she constreinede and shronk[ ]10 hir-selven lyk to the comune mesure of men, and sum-tyme it semede that she touchede the hevene with the heighte of hir heved; and whan she heef hir heved hyer, she percede the[ ] selve hevene, so that the sighte of men looking was in ydel. Hir[ ] clothes weren maked of right delye thredes and subtil crafte, of[ ]15 perdurable matere; the whiche clothes she hadde woven with hir owene hondes, as I knew wel after by hir-self, declaringe and shewinge to me the beautee; the whiche clothes a derknesse of a forleten and dispysed elde hadde dusked and derked, as it is wont[ ] to derkenbi-smokede images.
20In the nethereste hem or bordure of thise clothes men redden, y-woven in, a Grekissh P, thatsignifyeththe lyf Actif; and aboven[ ] that lettre, in the heyeste bordure, a Grekissh T , thatsignifyeththe lyf Contemplatif. And bi-twixen these two lettres ther weren seyn degrees, nobly y-wroght in manere of laddres; by whiche degrees men mighten climben fro the nethereste lettre to the25uppereste . Natheles, handes of some men hadde corven that cloth[ ] by violence and by strengthe; and everiche man of hem hadde born awey swiche peces as he mighte geten. And forsothe, this forseide woman bar smale bokes in hir right hand, and in hir left hand she bar a ceptre.30
And whan she say thise poetical Muses aprochen aboute my bed, and endytinge wordes to my wepinges, she was a litel amoved , and glowede with cruel eyen. ‘Who,’ quod she, ‘hath[ ] suffred aprochen to this syke man thise comune strompetes of[ ] swich a place that men clepen the theatre? The whiche nat35 only ne asswagen nat hise sorwes with none remedies, but they wolden feden and norisshen hem with swete venim. Forsothe, thise ben tho that with thornes and prikkinges of talents or affecciouns, whiche that ne ben no-thing fructefyinge nor[ ] profitable, destroyen the corn plentevous of fruites of resoun;40 for they holden the hertes of men in usage, but they ne delivere[ ] nat folk fro maladye . But if ye Muses hadden withdrawen fro me, with your flateryes, any uncunninge and unprofitable man, as men ben wont to finde comunly amonges the people , I wolde wene suffre the lasse grevously ; for-why, in swiche an unprofitable[ ]45 man, myn ententes ne weren no-thing endamaged. But ye withdrawen me this man, that hath be norisshed in the studies or[ ]scoles of Eleaticis and of Achademicis in Grece. But goth now rather awey, ye mermaidenes, whiche that ben swete til it be at[ ] the laste, and suffreth this man to be cured and heled by myne50 Muses,’ that is to seyn, by noteful sciences.
55And I, of whom the sighte, plounged in teres, was derked so[ ] that I ne mighte not knowen what that womman was, of so imperial auctoritee, I wex al abaisshed and astoned, and caste my sighte doun to the erthe, and bigan stille for to abyde what she wolde don afterward. Tho com she ner , and sette hir doun up-on[ ]60 the uttereste corner of my bed; and she, biholdinge my chere, that was cast to the erthe, hevy and grevous of wepinge, compleinede , with thise wordes that I shal seyen, the perturbacioun of my thought .
Heu quam precipiti mersa profundo.
‘Allas! how the thought of man, dreint in over-throwinge deepnesse, dulleth, and forleteth his propre cleernesse, mintinge[ ] to goon in-to foreine derknesses , as ofte as his anoyous bisinesse wexeth with-oute mesure, that is driven to and fro with worldly5 windes! This man, that whylom was free, to whom the hevene was open and knowen, and was wont to goon in heveneliche pathes, and saugh the lightnesse of the rede sonne, and saugh the sterres of the colde mone, and whiche sterre in hevene useth[ ] wandering recourses, y-flit by dyverse speres—this man, overcomer,[ ]10 hadde comprehended al this by noumbre of acountinge in astronomye. And over this, he was wont to seken the causes whennes the souning windes moeven and bisien the smothe water of the see; and what spirit torneth the stable hevene; and why the sterre aryseth out of the rede eest , to fallen in the westrene15 wawes; and what atempreth the lusty houres of the firste somer sesoun, that highteth and apparaileth the erthe with rosene flowres;[ ] and who maketh that plentevouse autompne , in fulle yeres, fleteth[ ] with hevy grapes. And eek this man was wont to telle the dyverse causes of nature that weren y-hidde . Allas! now lyeth he empted of light of his thought; and his nekke is pressed with[ ]20 hevy cheynes; and bereth his chere enclyned adoun for the grete weighte, and is constreined to looken on the fool erthe![ ]
Set medicine, inquit, tempus est.
But tyme is now,’ quod she, ‘of medicine more than of compleinte.’ Forsothe than she, entendinge to me-ward with alle the lookinge of hir eyen, seide:—‘Art nat thou he,’ quod she, ‘that whylom y-norisshed with my milk, and fostered with myne metes, were escaped and comen to corage of a parfit man?5 Certes, I yaf thee swiche armures that, yif thou thy-self ne[ ] haddest first cast hem a-wey, they shulden han defended thee in sikernesse that may nat ben over-comen. Knowest thou me[ ] nat? Why art thou stille? Is it for shame or for astoninge ? It were me lever that it were for shame; but it semeth me that10 astoninge hath oppressed thee.’ And whan she say me nat only stille, but with-outen office of tunge and al doumb, she leide hir hand softely upon my brest, and seide: ‘Here nis no peril,’ quod she; ‘he is fallen into a litargie , whiche that is a comune sykenes[ ] to hertes that ben deceived . He hath a litel foryeten him-self,15 but certes he shal lightly remembren him-self, yif so be that he hath knowen me or now; and that he may so don, I wil wypen a litel his eyen, that ben derked by the cloude of mortal thinges.’ Thise wordes seide she, and with the lappe of hir garment, y-plyted[ ] in a frounce, she dryede myn eyen, that weren fulle of the wawes20 of my wepinges.
Tunc me discussa liquerunt nocte tenebre.
Thus, whan that night was discussed and chased a-wey,[ ]derknesses forleften me, and to myn eyen repeirede ayein hir firste strengthe. And, right by ensaumple as the sonne is hid whan the sterres ben clustred (that is to seyn, whan sterres ben[ ]5covered with cloudes) by a swifte winde that highte Chorus, and[ ] that the firmament stant derked by wete ploungy cloudes, and[ ] that the sterres nat apperen up-on hevene, so that the night semeth sprad up-on erthe: yif thanne the wind that highte Borias,[ ] y-sent out of the caves of the contree of Trace, beteth this night[ ]10 (that is to seyn, chaseth it a-wey), and descovereth the closed day: than shyneth Phebus y-shaken with sodein light, and smyteth[ ] with his bemes in mervelinge eyen.
Hand aliter tristicie nebulis dissolutis.
Right so, and non other wyse, the cloudes of sorwe dissolved and don a-wey, I took hevene, and receivede minde to knowen the[ ] face of my fysicien ; so that I sette myn eyen on hir, and fastnede my lookinge. I beholde my norice Philosophie, in whos houses[ ]5 I hadde conversed and haunted fro my youthe; and I seide thus. ‘O thou maistresse of alle vertues , descended from the soverein sete, why artow comen in-to this solitarie place of myn exil? Artow comen for thou art maked coupable with me of false blames?’
4. Lat. respicio.
10‘O,’ quod she, ‘my norry, sholde I forsaken thee now, and[ ] sholde I nat parten with thee, by comune travaile, the charge[ ] that thou hast suffred for envie of my name? Certes, it nere not leveful ne sittinge thing to Philosophie, to leten with-outen companye the wey of him that is innocent. Sholde I thanne15 redoute my blame, and agrysen as though ther were bifallen a[ ] newe thing? quasi diceret, non. For trowestow that Philosophie[ ] be now alderfirst assailed in perils by folk of wikkede maneres? Have I nat striven with ful greet stryf, in olde tyme, bifore the age of my Plato, ayeines the foolhardinesse of folye? And eek,[ ]20 the same Plato livinge, his maister Socrates deservede victorie of unrightful deeth in my presence. The heritage of which Socrates[ ] —the heritage is to seyn the doctrine of the whiche Socrates in his opinioun of Felicitee, that I clepe welefulnesse—whan that the poeple of Epicuriens and Stoiciens and many othre enforceden hem to go ravisshe everich man for his part—that is to seyn,25that everich of hem wolde drawen to thedefenceof his opinioun the wordes of Socrates—they, as in partie of hir preye, to-drowen me, cryinge and debatinge ther-ayeins, and corven and to-renten my clothes that I hadde woven with myn handes; and with tho cloutes that they hadden araced out of my clothes they wenten30 awey, weninge that I hadde gon with hem everydel.
In whiche Epicuriens and Stoiciens, for as moche as ther semede some traces or steppes of myn habite, the folye of men, weninge tho Epicuriens and Stoiciens my famuleres , perverted (sc. persequendo) some through the errour of the wikkede or uncunninge35 multitude of hem. This is to seynthat , for they semede philosophres, they weren pursued to the deeth and slayn. So yif thou hast nat knowen the exilinge of Anaxogore, ne the enpoysoninge of[ ] Socrates, ne the tourments of Zeno, for they weren straungeres:[ ] yit mightestow han knowen the Senecciens and the Canios and[ ]40 the Sorans, of whiche folk the renoun is neither over-olde ne[ ] unsolempne. The whiche men, no-thing elles ne broughte hem to[ ] the deeth but only for they weren enfourmed of myne maneres, and semeden most unlyke to the studies of wikkede folk. And forthy thou oughtest nat to wondren though that I, in the bittre45 see of this lyf, be fordriven with tempestes blowinge aboute, in the whiche tempestes this is my most purpos, that is to seyn, to displesen to wikkede men. Of whiche shrewes, al be the ost never so greet, it is to dispyse; for it nis governed with no leder[ ] of resoun, but it is ravisshed only by fletinge errour folyly and50 lightly. And if they som-tyme, makinge an ost ayeins us, assaile us as strenger, our leder draweth to-gidere hise richesses in-to his tour, and they ben ententif aboute sarpulers or sachels unprofitable[ ] for to taken. But we that ben heye aboven, siker fro alle[ ]55tumulte and wode noise, warnestored and enclosed in swich a palis , whider as that chateringe or anoyinge folye ne may nat atayne , we scorne swiche ravineres and henteres of fouleste thinges.
Quisquis composito serenus euo.
Who-so it be that is cleer of vertu, sad, and wel ordinat of livinge , that hath put under foot the proude werdes and looketh upright up-on either fortune, he may holde his chere undiscomfited .[ ] The rage ne the manaces of the see, commoevinge or5 chasinge upward hete fro the botme, ne shal not moeve that[ ] man; ne the unstable mountaigne that highte Vesevus, that[ ]wrytheth out through his brokene chiminees smokinge fyres. Ne[ ] the wey of thonder-light, that is wont to smyten heye toures, ne[ ][ ] shal nat moeve that man. Wher-to thanne, o wrecches, drede ye10 tirauntes that ben wode and felonous with-oute any strengthe? Hope after no-thing, ne drede nat; and so shaltow desarmen the ire of thilke unmighty tiraunt. But who-so that, quakinge, dredeth or desireth thing that nis nat stable of his right, that[ ] man that so doth hath cast awey his sheld and is remoeved fro15 his place, and enlaceth him in the cheyne with the which he may ben drawen.
Sentisne, inquit, hec.
‘Felestow ,’ quod she, ‘thise thinges, and entren they aught in thy corage? Artow lyke an asse to the harpe? Why wepestow ,[ ] why spillestow teres? Yif thou abydest after help of thy leche,[ ] thee bihoveth discovere thy wounde.’
Tho I, that hadde gadered strengthe in my corage, answerede5 and seide: ‘And nedeth it yit,’ quod I, ‘of rehersinge or of amonicioun; and sheweth it nat y-nough by him-self the sharpnesse[ ] of Fortune, that wexeth wood ayeins me? Ne moeveth it nat thee to seen the face or the manere of this place (i. prisoun)? Is this the librarie whiche that thou haddest chosen for a right10 certein sete to thee in myn hous, ther-as thou desputedest ofte with me of the sciences of thinges touchinge divinitee and touchinge mankinde? Was thanne myn habite swich as it is now? Was than my face or my chere swiche as now (quasi diceret, non ), whan I soughte with thee secrets of nature, whan thou enformedest[ ]15 my maneres and the resoun of alle my lyf to the ensaumple of the ordre of hevene? Is nat this the guerdoun that I referre to[ ] thee, to whom I have be obeisaunt? Certes, thou confermedest ,[ ] by the mouth of Plato, this sentence, that is to seyn, that comune[ ] thinges or comunalitees weren blisful, yif they that hadden studied20 al fully to wisdom governeden thilke thinges, or elles yif it so bifille that the governoures of comunalitees studieden to geten wisdom .
Thou seidest eek, by the mouth of the same Plato, that it was[ ] a necessarie cause, wyse men to taken and desire the governaunce[ ]25of comune thinges, for that the governements of citees , y-left in the handes of felonous tormentours citizenes , ne sholde nat[ ] bringe in pestilence and destruccioun to gode folk. And therfor I, folwinge thilke auctoritee (sc. Platonis), desired to putten forth in execucioun and in acte of comune administracioun thilke30 thinges that I hadde lerned of thee among my secree resting-whyles. Thou, and god that putte thee in the thoughtes of wyse folk, ben knowinge with me, that no-thing ne broughte me to[ ] maistrie or dignitee , but the comune studie of alle goodnesse.[ ]35 And ther-of comth it that bi-twixen wikked folk and me han ben grevous discordes , that ne mighten ben relesed by preyeres ; for this libertee hath the freedom of conscience, that the wratthe of[ ] more mighty folk hath alwey ben despysed of me for savacioun of right.
40How ofte have I resisted and withstonde thilke man that highte Conigaste, that made alwey assautes ayeins the prospre fortunes of[ ]pore feble folk ? How ofte eek have I put of or cast out him, Trigwille, provost of the kinges hous, bothe of the wronges that he[ ] hadde bigunne to don, and eek fully performed? How ofte have45 I covered and defended by the auctoritee of me, put ayeins perils[ ] —that is to seyn, put myn auctoritee in peril for—the wrecched pore folk, that the covetyse of straungeres unpunished tourmenteden alwey with miseyses and grevaunces out of noumbre? Never man ne drow me yit fro right to wronge. Whan I say the fortunes and50 the richesses of the poeple of the provinces ben harmed or amenused, outher by privee ravynes or by comune tributes or cariages, as sory was I as they that suffreden the harm.[ ]
Glossa.Whan that Theodoric, the king of Gothes, in a dereyere , hadde hise gerneres ful of corn, and comaundede that no man55ne sholde byen no corn til his corn weresold , and that at a grevous dere prys, Boece withstood that ordinaunce, and over-com it, knowinge al this the king him-self.
Textus. Whan it was in the soure hungry tyme, ther was establisshed or cryed grevous and inplitable coempcioun, that men[ ]60 sayen wel it sholde greetly turmenten and endamagen al the province of Campaigne , I took stryf ayeins the provost of the pretorie[ ] for comune profit. And, the king knowinge of it, I overcom it, so that the coempcioun ne was not axed ne took effect.
64. The gloss (Coempcioun . . . part) is misplaced in both MSS., so as to precede Whan it was (58).
[Glossa.]Coempcioun, that is to seyn, comune achat or bying[ ]to-gidere, that wereestablisshedup-onthepeople by swiche a manere65imposicioun , as who-soboughtea busshel corn, he moste yeve the king the fifte part.
[Textus.] Paulin, a counseiller of Rome, the richesses of the[ ] whiche Paulin the houndes of the palays , that is to seyn, the officeres,[ ] wolden han devoured by hope and covetise, yit drow I him out of70 the Iowes (sc.faucibus ) of hem that gapeden. And for as moche as the peyne of the accusacioun aiuged biforn ne sholde nat sodeinly henten ne punisshen wrongfully Albin, a counseiller of[ ] Rome, I putte me ayeins the hates and indignaciouns of the accusor Ciprian. Is it nat thanne y-nough y-seyn , that I have[ ]75 purchased grete discordes ayeins my-self? But I oughte be the more assured ayeins alle othre folk (s. Romayns), that for the love of rightwisnesse I ne reserved never no-thing to my-self to hemward[ ] of the kinges halle, sc. officers, by the whiche I were the more siker. But thorugh tho same accusors accusinge, I am condempned.80 Of the noumbir of the whiche accusors oon Basilius,[ ] that whylom was chased out of the kinges service, is now compelled[ ] in accusinge of my name, for nede of foreine moneye. Also Opilion and Gaudencius han accused me, al be it so that the[ ] Iustice regal hadde whylom demed hem bothe to go in-to exil for85 hir trecheryes and fraudes withoute noumbir. To whiche Iugement they nolden nat obeye, but defendeden hem by the sikernesse of holy houses, that is to seyn, fledden intoseintuaries ; and whan this was aperceived to the king, he comaundede, that but[ ] they voidede the citee of Ravenne by certein day assigned , that90men sholde merken hem on the forheved with an hoot yren and chasen hem out of the toune. Now what thing, semeth thee, mighte ben lykned to this crueltee ? For certes, thilke same day[ ] was received the accusinge of my name by thilke same accusors.95 What may ben seid her-to? (quasi diceret, nichil). Hath my[ ] studie and my cunninge deserved thus; or elles the forseide dampnacioun of me, made that hem rightful accusors or no? (quasi diceret, non). Was not Fortune ashamed of this? Certes, al hadde nat Fortune ben ashamed that innocence was accused, yit100 oughte she han had shame of the filthe of myne accusours.
But, axestow in somme, of what gilt I am accused, men seyn[ ] that I wolde save the companye of the senatours. And desirest thou to heren in what manere? I am accused that I sholde han destourbed the accusor to beren lettres, by whiche he sholde han105 maked the senatoures gilty ayeins the kinges real maiestee. O maistresse , what demestow of this? Shal I forsake this blame,[ ] that I ne be no shame to thee? (quasi diceret, non). Certes, I have wold it, that is to seyn, the savacioun of the senat, ne I shal never leten to wilne it, and that I confesse and am aknowe; but the[ ]110 entente of the accusor to be destourbed shal cese. For shal I clepe it thanne a felonie or a sinne that I have desired the savacioun of the ordre of the senat? (quasi diceret, dubito quid). And certes yit hadde thilke same senat don by me, thorugh hir[ ] decrets and hir Iugements, as though it were a sinne or a felonie;115that is to seyn, to wilne the savacioun of hem (sc. senatus). But folye, that lyeth alwey to him-self, may not chaunge the merite of thinges. Ne I trowe nat, by the Iugement of Socrates, that[ ] it were leveful to me to hyde the sothe, ne assente to lesinges. But certes, how so ever it be of this, I putte it to gessen or120 preisen to the Iugement of thee and of wyse folk. Of whiche[ ] thing al the ordinaunce and the sothe, for as moche as folk that ben to comen after our dayes shullen knowen it, I have put it in scripture and in remembraunce. For touching the lettres falsly maked, by whiche lettres I am accused to han hoped the fredom125 of Rome, what aperteneth me to speke ther-of? Of whiche lettres the fraude hadde ben shewed apertly, yif I hadde had libertee for to han used and ben at the confessioun of myne accusours, the whiche thing in alle nedes hath greet strengthe. For what other fredom may men hopen ? Certes, I wolde that som other fredom mighte ben hoped. I wolde thanne han130 answered by the wordes of a man that highte Canius; for whan[ ] he was accused by Gaius Cesar, Germeynes sone, that he[ ] (Canius ) was knowinge and consentinge of a coniuracioun y-maked ayeins him (sc. Gaius), this Canius answerede thus: “Yif I hadde wist it, thou haddest nat wist it.” In which thing135sorwe hath nat so dulled my wit, that I pleyne only that shrewede folk aparailen felonies ayeins vertu ; but I wondre greetly how that they may performe thinges that they hadde hoped for to don. For-why, to wilne shrewednesse, that comth peraventure of oure defaute; but it is lyk a monstre and a mervaille, how140 that, in the present sighte of god, may ben acheved and performed swiche thinges as every felonous man hath conceived in his thought ayeins innocents. For which thing oon of thy famileres[ ] nat unskilfully axed thus: “Yif god is, whennes comen wikkede thinges? And yif god ne is, whennes comen gode thinges?”145 But al hadde it ben leveful that felonous folk, that now desiren the blood and the deeth of alle gode men and eek of alle the senat, han wilned to gon destroyen me, whom they han seyen alwey batailen and defenden gode men and eek al the senat, yit had I nat desserved of the faderes, that is to seyn, of the150senatoures, that they sholden wilne my destruccioun.
Thou remembrest wel, as I gesse, that whan I wolde doon or seyen any thing, thou thyself, alwey present, rewledest me. At the city of Verone, whan that the king, gredy of comune slaughter,[ ] caste him to transporten up al the ordre of the senat the gilt of155 his real maiestee, of the whiche gilt that Albin was accused, with[ ] how gret sikernesse of peril to me defendede I al the senat! Thou wost wel that I seye sooth, ne I ne avauntede me never in preysinge of my-self. For alwey, whan any wight receiveth precious renoun in avauntinge him-self of his werkes, he amenuseth160 the secree of his conscience. But now thou mayst wel seen to what ende I am comen for myne innocence; I receive peyne of fals felonye for guerdon of verray vertu. And what open confessioun of felonye hadde ever Iuges so acordaunt in crueltee ,165that is to seyn, as myn accusinge hath, that either errour of mannes wit or elles condicioun of Fortune, that is uncertein to alle mortal folk, ne submittede some of hem, that is to seyn, that it ne enclynede[ ]som Iuge to han pitee or compassioun? For al-thogh I hadde ben accused that I wolde brenne holy houses, and strangle preestes170 with wikkede swerde, or that I hadde greythed deeth to al gode men, algates the sentence sholde han punisshed me, present,[ ] confessed, or convict . But now I am remewed fro the citee of Rome almost fyve hundred thousand pas , I am with-oute defence[ ] dampned to proscripcioun and to the deeth, for the studie and175 bountees that I have doon to the senat. But O, wel ben they worthy of merite (as who seith, nay), ther mighte never yit non[ ] of hem be convict of swiche a blame as myne is! Of whiche trespas, myne accusours sayen ful wel the dignitee; the whiche dignitee, for they wolden derken it with medeling of som felonye,180 they baren me on hand, and lyeden, that I hadde polut and defouled my conscience with sacrilege , for coveitise of dignitee.[ ] And certes, thou thy-self, that are plaunted in me, chacedest out of the sege of my corage al coveitise of mortal thinges; ne sacrilege hadde no leve to han a place in me biforn thyne eyen.185 For thou droppedest every day in myne eres and in my thought thilke comaundement of Pictagoras, that is to seyn, men shal[ ] serve to godde, and not to goddes. Ne it was nat convenient , ne no nede, to taken help of the foulest spirites ; I, that thou[ ] hast ordeined and set in swiche excellence that thou makedest190 me lyk to god. And over this, the right clene secree chaumbre[ ] of myne hous, that is to seyn, my wyf, and the companye of myn honest freendes, and my wyves fader, as wel holy as worthy to ben reverenced thorugh his owne dedes, defenden me from[ ] alle suspecioun of swich blame. But O malice! For they that accusen me taken of thee, Philosophie , feith of so gret blame![ ]195 For they trowen that I have had affinitee to malefice orenchauntement , by-cause that I am replenisshed and fulfilled with thy techinges , and enformed of thy maneres. And thus it suffiseth[ ] not only, that thy reverence ne availe me not, but-yif that thou, of thy free wille, rather be blemished with myn offencioun. But200 certes, to the harmes that I have, ther bitydeth yit this encrees of harm, that the gessinge and the Iugement of moche folk ne looken no-thing to the desertes of thinges, but only to the aventure of fortune; and iugen that only swiche thinges ben purveyed of god, whiche that temporel welefulnesse commendeth.205
Glose . As thus: that, yif a wight have prosperitee, he is a good man and worthy to han that prosperitee; andwho-sohath adversitee, he is a wikked man, and god hath forsake him, and he is worthy to han that adversitee. This is the opinioun of some210folk.
And ther-of comth that good gessinge, first of alle thing, forsaketh[ ] wrecches: certes, it greveth me to thinke right now the dyverse sentences that the poeple seith of me. And thus moche I seye, that the laste charge of contrarious fortune is this: that,[ ]215 whan that any blame is leyd upon a caitif, men wenen that he hath deserved that he suffreth. And I, that am put awey fro gode men, and despoiled of dignitees, and defouled of my name by gessinge, have suffred torment for my gode dedes. Certes,[ ] me semeth that I see the felonous covines of wikked men220 habounden in Ioye and in gladnesse. And I see that every lorel shapeth him to finde out newe fraudes for to accuse gode folk. And I see that gode men beth overthrowen for drede[ ] of my peril; and every luxurious tourmentour dar doon alle felonye unpunisshed and ben excited therto by yiftes; and225 innocents ne ben not only despoiled of sikernesse but of defence; and therfore me list to cryen to god in this wyse :—
O stelliferi conditor orbis.
O thou maker of the whele that bereth the sterres, which that[ ] art y-fastned to thy perdurable chayer, and tornest the hevene with a ravisshing sweigh , and constreinest the sterres to suffren[ ] thy lawe; so that the mone som-tyme shyning with hir ful hornes,[ ]5 meting with alle the bemes of the sonne hir brother, hydeth the sterres that ben lesse ; and somtyme, whan the mone, pale with hir derke hornes, approcheth the sonne, leseth hir lightes; and[ ] that the eve-sterre Hesperus, whiche that in the firste tyme of the night bringeth forth hir colde arysinges, cometh eft ayein[ ]10 hir used cours, and is pale by the morweat the rysing of the sonne, and is thanne cleped Lucifer. Thou restreinest the day by[ ] shorter dwelling, in the tyme of colde winter that maketh the leves to falle . Thou dividest the swifte tydes of the night,[ ]whan the hote somer is comen. Thy might atempreth the15 variaunts sesons of the yere; so that Zephirus the deboneir wind bringeth ayein, in the first somer sesoun, the leves that the wind that highte Boreas hath reft awey in autumpne, that is to seyn, in the laste ende of somer; and the sedes that the sterre that highte Arcturus saw , ben waxen heye cornes whan the[ ]20 sterre Sirius eschaufeth hem. Ther nis no-thing unbounde from[ ] his olde lawe, ne forleteth the werke of his propre estat.[ ]
O thou governour, governinge alle thinges by certein ende, why refusestow only to governe the werkes of men by dewe manere? Why suffrest thou that slydinge fortune torneth so grete entre-chaunginges25 of thinges, so that anoyous peyne, that sholde dewelypunisshe felouns, punissheth innocents? And folk of wikkede maneres sitten in heye chayres , and anoyinge folk treden, and that unrightfully, on the nekkes of holy men? And vertu clershyninge[ ] naturelly is hid in derke derkenesses, and the rightful[ ] man bereth the blame and the peyne of the feloun. Ne forsweringe30 ne the fraude, covered and kembd with a fals colour,[ ] ne anoyeth nat to shrewes; the whiche shrewes, whan hem list to usen hir strengthe, they reioysen hem to putten under hem the sovereyne kinges, whiche that poeple with-outen noumbre dreden.35
O thou, what so ever thou be that knittest alle bondes of thinges, loke on thise wrecchede erthes; we men that ben nat[ ] a foule party, but a fayr party of so grete a werk , we ben tormented in this see of fortune. Thou governour, withdraw and restreyne the ravisshinge flodes, and fastne and ferme thise40 erthes stable with thilke bonde, with whiche thou governest the[ ] hevene that is so large.’
Hic ubi continuato dolore delatraui.
Whan I hadde, with a continuel sorwe, sobbed or borken out[ ] thise thinges, she with hir chere pesible , and no-thing amoeved with my compleintes, seide thus: ‘Whan I say thee,’ quod she, ‘sorweful and wepinge, I wiste anon that thou were a wrecche and exiled; but I wiste never how fer thyne exile was, yif thy5 tale ne hadde shewed it to me . But certes, al be thou fer fro thy contree, thou nart nat put out of it; but thou hast failed of thy weye and gon amis. And yif thou hast lever for to wene that thou be put out of thy contree, than hast thou put out thy-self rather than any other wight hath. For no wight but thy-self ne10 mighte never han don that to thee. For yif thou remembre of what contree thou art born, it nis nat governed by emperours, ne by governement of multitude, as weren the contrees of hem of Athenes; but oo lord and oo king, and that is god, that is lord of[ ]15thy contree, whiche that reioyseth him of the dwelling of hise citezenes , and nat for to putte hem in exil; of the whiche lorde it is a soverayne fredom to be governed by the brydel of him and obeye to his Iustice. Hastow foryeten thilke right olde lawe of thy[ ] citee, in the whiche citee it is ordeined and establisshed, that for20 what wight that hath lever founden ther-in his sete or his hous than elles-wher , he may nat be exiled by no right from that place? For who-so that is contened in-with the palis and the clos of thilke citee,[ ] ther nis no drede that he may deserve to ben exiled. But who-so that leteth the wil for to enhabite there, he forleteth also to deserve25 to ben citezein of thilke citee. So that I sey, that the face of this[ ] place ne moveth me nat so mochel as thyne owne face. Ne I axe nat rather the walles of thy librarie, aparayled and wrought with yvory and with glas, than after the sete of thy thought. In whiche I putte nat whylom bokes, but I putte that that maketh30 bokes worthy of prys or precious , that is to seyn, the sentence of my bokes. And certeinly of thy desertes, bistowed in comune[ ] good, thou hast seid sooth, but after the multitude of thy gode dedes, thou hast seid fewe; and of the honestee or of the falsnesse of thinges that ben aposed ayeins thee, thou hast remembred[ ]35 thinges that ben knowen to alle folk. And of the felonyes and fraudes of thyne accusours , it semeth thee have y-touched it forsothe rightfully and shortly, al mighten tho same thinges betere and more plentivousely ben couth in the mouthe of the poeple that knoweth al this.
40Thou hast eek blamed gretly and compleined of the wrongful dede of the senat. And thou hast sorwed for my blame, and thou hast wopen for the damage of thy renoun that is apayred; and thy laste sorwe eschaufede ayeins fortune, and compleinest that guerdouns ne ben nat evenliche yolden to the desertes of folk. And in the latere ende of thy wode Muse, thou preyedest that thilke[ ]45 pees that governeth the hevene sholde governe the erthe. But for that manye tribulaciouns of affecciouns han assailed thee, and sorwe and ire and wepinge to-drawen thee dyversely; as thou art now feble of thought, mightier remedies ne shullen nat yit touchen thee, for whiche we wol usen somdel lighter medicines: so that50 thilke passiouns that ben woxen harde in swellinge, by[ ]perturbaciouns flowing in-to thy thought, mowen wexen esy and softe, to receiven the strengthe of a more mighty and more egre medicine, by an esier touchinge.[ ]
Cum Phebi radiis graue Cancri sidus inestuat.
Whan that the hevy sterre of the Cancre eschaufeth by the[ ]bemes of Phebus, that is to seyn, whan that Phebus the sonne is[ ]in the signe of theCancre , who-so yeveth thanne largely hise sedes to the feldes that refusen to receiven hem , lat him gon, bigyled of[ ] trust that he hadde to his corn, to acorns of okes . Yif thou wolt5gadre violettes, ne go thou not to the purpur wode whan the feld ,[ ] chirkinge, agryseth of colde by the felnesse of the winde that highte Aquilon. Yif thou desirest or wolt usen grapes, ne seke thou nat, with a glotonous hond, to streyne and presse the stalkes of the vine in the ferst somer sesoun; for Bachus, the god of wyne, hath10 rather yeven hise yiftes to autumpne, thelaterende of somer.
God tokneth and assigneth the tymes, ablinge hem to hir propres offices; ne he ne suffreth nat the stoundes whiche that him-self hath devyded and constreyned to ben y-medled to-gidere. And forthy he that forleteth certein ordinaunce of doinge by over-throwinge[ ]15 wey, he ne hath no glade issue or ende of his werkes.
Primum igitur paterisne me pauculis rogacionibus.
‘Axe me,’ quod I, ‘at thy wille, what thou wolt, and I shal5 answere.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘I ne trowe nat in no manere, that so10 certein thinges sholde be moeved by fortunous fortune; but I[ ] wot wel that god, maker and mayster, is governour of his werk. Ne never nas yit day that mighte putte me out of the sothnesse of that sentence.’
‘So is it,’ quod she; ‘for the same thing songe thou a litel[ ]15 her-biforn, and biweyledest and biweptest, that only men weren put out of the cure of god. For of alle other thinges thou ne doutedest nat that they nere governed by resoun. But owh ![ ] (i. pape!) I wondre gretly, certes, why that thou art syk , sin[ ]that thou art put in so holsom a sentence. But lat us seken20 depper; I coniecte that ther lakketh I not nere what. But[ ] sey me this: sin that thou ne doutest nat that this world be governed by god, with whiche governailes takestow hede that[ ]it is governed?’
‘I nas nat deceived ,’ quod she, ‘that ther ne faileth somwhat, by whiche the maladye of thy perturbacioun is crept into thy thought, so as the strengthe of the palis chyning is open.[ ] But sey me this: remembrest thou what is the ende of thinges , and whider that the entencioun of alle kinde tendeth?’30
‘I have herd it told som-tyme,’ quod I; ‘but drerinesse hath dulled my memorie.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘thou wost wel whennes that alle thinges ben comen and procedeth ?’
‘I wot wel,’ quod I, and answerede, that ‘god is beginning35 of al.’
‘And how may this be,’ quod she, ‘that, sin thou knowest the beginning of thinges, that thou ne knowest nat what is the ende of thinges? But swiche ben the customes of perturbaciouns, and this power they han, that they may moeve a40 man out of his place, that is to seyn, fro the stablenes and perfeccioun of his knowinge; but, certes, they may nat al arace[ ] him, ne aliene him in al. But I wolde that thou woldest answere to this: remembrestow that thou art a man?’
‘Why sholde I nat remembre that?’ quod I.45
‘Wistestow never yit that thou were any other thing?’ quod she.50
‘No,’ quod I.
‘Now woot I,’ quod she, ‘other cause of thy maladye, and that right grete. Thou hast left for to knowen thy-self, what thou art; thorugh whiche I have pleynly founden the cause of thy maladye, or elles the entree of recoveringe of thyn hele.[ ]55 For-why, for thou art confounded with foryeting of thy-self, for-thy[ ]sorwestow that thou art exiled of thy propre goodes. And for thou ne wost what is the ende of thinges, for-thy demestow that felonous and wikked men ben mighty and weleful. And60 for thou hast foryeten by whiche governements the world is governed, for-thy wenestow that thise mutaciouns of fortune fleten with-oute governour. Thise ben grete causes not only to maladye, but, certes, grete causes to deeth . But I thanke the auctor and the maker of hele, that nature hath not al[ ]65 forleten thee. I have grete norisshinges of thyn hele, and that[ ] is, the sothe sentence of governaunce of the worlde; that thou bilevest that the governinge of it nis nat subiect ne underput to the folie of thise happes aventurous , but to the resoun of god. And ther-for doute thee no-thing; for of this litel spark70 thyn hete of lyf shal shyne.
But for as moche as it is nat tyme yit of faster remedies, and[ ] the nature of thoughtes deceived is this, that as ofte as they casten awey sothe opiniouns, they clothen hem in false opiniouns, of which false opiniouns the derkenesse of perturbacioun wexeth75 up, that confoundeth the verray insighte: and that derkenesse shal I assaye som-what to maken thinne and wayk by lighte[ ] and meneliche remedies; so that, after that the derkenesse of[ ]deceivinge desiringes is don awey, thou mowe knowe the shyninge of verray light.
The sterres, covered with blake cloudes, ne mowen yeten[ ] a-doun no light. Yif the trouble wind that hight Auster, turning[ ] and walwinge the see, medleth the hete, that is to seyn,[ ]the boyling up from the botme; the wawes, that whylom weren5 clere as glas and lyke to the faire clere dayes, withstande anon[ ] the sightes of men by the filthe and ordure that is resolved. And the fletinge streem, that royleth doun dyversly fro heye[ ] mountaignes, is arested and resisted ofte tyme by the encountringe of a stoon that is departed and fallen from som roche.
And for-thy, yif thou wolt loken and demen sooth with cleer10 light, and holden the wey with a right path, weyve thou Ioye,[ ] dryf fro thee drede, fleme thou hope, ne lat no sorwe aproche; that is to seyn, lat non of thise four passiouns over-comen thee or blende thee. For cloudy and derke is thilke thought, and bounde with brydles, where as thise thinges regnen. ’15
Explicit Liber Primus.
Postea paulisper conticuit.
After this she stinte a litel ; and, after that she hadde gadered by atempre stillenesse myn attencioun , she seide thus: (As who mighte seyn thus: After thise thinges she stinte a litel; and whan sheaperceivedby atempre stillenesse that I was ententif to herkenehir , she bigan to speke in thiswyse ): ‘Yif I,’ quod she, ‘have5 understonden and knowen outrely the causes and the habit of thy maladye , thou languissest and art defeted for desyr and talent of thy rather fortune. She, that ilke Fortune only, that is chaunged , as thou feynest, to thee-ward, hath perverted the cleernesse and the estat of thy corage. I understonde the10fele-folde colours and deceites of thilke merveilous monstre Fortune, and how she useth ful flateringe familaritee with hem that she enforceth to bigyle; so longe, til that she confounde[ ] with unsufferable sorwe hem that she hath left in despeyr unpurveyed. And yif thou remembrest wel the kinde, the maneres,15 and the desert of thilke Fortune, thou shalt wel knowe that , as in hir, thou never ne haddest ne hast y-lost any fair thing . But, as I trowe, I shal nat gretly travailen to do thee remembrenon thise thinges. For thou were wont to hurtelen and despysen20 hir, with manly wordes, whan she was blaundissinge and present, and pursewedest hir with sentences that were drawen out of myn entree, that is to seyn, out of myn informacioun. But no sodein[ ] mutacioun ne bitydeth nat with-oute a manere chaunginge of corages; and so is it befallen that thou art a litel departed25 fro the pees of thy thought.
But now is tyme that thou drinke and ataste some softe and delitable thinges; so that, whan they ben entred with-in thee, it mowe maken wey to strengere drinkes of medicynes. Com[ ] now forth therefore the suasioun of swetenesse rethorien, whiche30 that goth only the right wey, whyl she forsaketh nat myne estatuts . And with Rhetorice com forth Musice, a damisel of our hous, that singeth now lighter moedesorprolaciouns , now hevyer.[ ] What eyleth thee, man? What is it that hath cast thee in-to morninge and in-to wepinge? I trowe that thou hast seyn35 som newe thing and uncouth. Thou wenest that Fortune be[ ] chaunged ayein thee; but thou wenest wrong, yif thou that wene. Alwey tho ben hir maneres; she hath rather kept, as to thee-ward, hir propre stablenesse in the chaunginge of hirself. Right swich was she whan she flatered thee, and deceived40 thee with unleveful lykinges of fals welefulnesse. Thou hast now knowen and ataynt the doutous or double visage of thilke blinde goddesse Fortune. She, that yit covereth hir and wimpleth hir to other folk, hath shewed hir every-del to thee. Yif thou aprovest hir and thenkest that she is good , use hir45 maneres and pleyne thee nat. And yif thou agrysest hir false[ ] trecherye, despyse and cast awey hir that pleyeth so harmfully; for she, that is now cause of so muche sorwe to thee, sholde ben cause to thee of pees and of Ioye. She hath forsaken[ ] thee, forsothe; the whiche that never man may ben siker that she ne shal forsake him.50
Holdestow than thilke welefulnesse precious to thee that shal passen? And is present Fortune dereworthe to thee, which that55 nis nat feithful for to dwelle; and, whan she goth awey, that she bringeth a wight in sorwe? For sin she may nat ben withholden at a mannes wille, she maketh him a wrecche whan she departeth fro him. What other thing is flittinge Fortune but a maner shewinge of wrecchednesse that is to comen? Ne it ne60 suffyseth nat only to loken on thinge that is present biforn the eyen of a man. But wisdom loketh and amesureth the ende of thinges; and the same chaunginge from oon in-to an-other, that istoseyn, from adversiteein-toprosperitee, maketh that the manaces of Fortune ne ben nat for to dreden, ne the flateringes65 of hir to ben desired. Thus, at the laste, it bihoveth thee to suffren with evene wille in pacience al that is don in-with the floor of Fortune, that is toseyn , in this world, sin thou hast[ ] ones put thy nekke under the yok of hir. For yif thou wolt wryten a lawe of wendinge and of dwellinge to Fortune, whiche70 that thou hast chosen frely to ben thy lady, artow nat wrongful in that, and makest Fortune wroth and aspere by thyn inpatience, and yit thou mayst nat chaunge hir?
Yif thou committest and bitakest thy sailes to the winde, thou shalt be shoven, not thider that thou woldest, but whider that the75wind shoveth thee. Yif thou castest thy sedes in-to the feldes , thou sholdest han in minde that the yeres ben, amonges , other-whyle[ ] plentevous and other-whyle bareyne . Thou hast bitaken thy-self to the governaunce of Fortune, and for-thy it bihoveth 80 thee to ben obeisaunt to the maneres of thy lady. Enforcest thou thee to aresten or withholden the swiftnesse and the sweigh of hir turninge whele ? O thou fool of alle mortal fooles, if Fortune bigan to dwelle stable, she cesede thanne to ben[ ] Fortune!
Hec cum superba uerterit uices dextra.
Whan Fortune with a proud right hand hath torned hir chaunginge stoundes, she fareth lyk the maneres of the boilinge Eurype . Glosa. Eurypeis an arm of the see that ebbeth and[ ]floweth; and som-tyme the streem is on o syde, and som-tyme on5theother. Text. She, cruel Fortune, casteth adoun kinges that whylom weren y-drad; and she, deceivable, enhaunseth up the humble chere of him that is discomfited. Ne she neither hereth ne rekketh of wrecchede wepinges; and she is so hard[ ] that she laugheth and scorneth the wepinges of hem, the whiche[ ]10 she hath maked wepe with hir free wille. Thus she pleyeth, and thus she proeueth hir strengthes ; and sheweth a greet wonder[ ] to alle hir servauntes, yif that a wight is seyn weleful, and overthrowe in an houre.
Vellem autem pauca tecum.
Certes, I wolde pleten with thee a fewe thinges, usinge the[ ] wordes of Fortune; tak hede now thy-self, yif that she axeth right. “O thou man, wher-fore makest thou me gilty by thyne every-dayes pleyninges? What wrong have I don thee? What[ ]5 goodes have I bireft thee that weren thyne? Stryf or plete with me, bifore what Iuge that thou wolt, of the possessioun of richesses or of dignitees. And yif thou mayst shewen me that ever any mortal man hath received any of tho thinges to ben hise in propre, than wol I graunte frely that alle thilke thinges weren thyne whiche that thou axest. Whan that nature10broughte thee forth out of thy moder wombe, I receyved thee naked and nedy of alle thinges , and I norisshede thee with my richesses, and was redy and ententif through my favour to susteyne thee; and that maketh thee now inpacient ayeins me; and I envirounde thee with alle the aboundance and shyninge15 of alle goodes that ben in my right. Now it lyketh me to with-drawen my hand; thou hast had grace as he that hath used of foreine goodes: thou hast no right to pleyne thee, as though thou haddest outrely for-lorn alle thy thinges. Why pleynest thou thanne? I have done thee no wrong. Richesses,20 honours, and swiche other thinges ben of my right. My servauntes knowen me for hir lady; they comen with me, and departen whan I wende. I dar wel affermen hardily, that yif tho thinges, of which thou pleynest that thou hast forlorn, hadde ben thyne, thou ne haddest not lorn hem. Shal I thanne only ben defended25 to usen my right?
Certes, it is leveful to the hevene to make clere dayes, and, after that, to coveren tho same dayes with derke nightes. The yeer hath eek leve to apparailen the visage of the erthe, now with floures and now with fruit , and to confounden hem som-tyme30 with reynes and with coldes. The see hath eek his right to ben som-tyme calme and blaundishing with smothe water, and som-tyme to ben horrible with wawes and with tempestes. But the covetise of men, that may nat ben stanched, shal it binde me to ben stedefast , sin that stedefastnesse is uncouth35 to my maneres? Swich is my strengthe, and this pley I pleye continuely. I torne the whirlinge wheel with the torning cercle;[ ] I am glad to chaungen the lowest to the heyest, and the heyest to the lowest. Worth up, if thou wolt, so it be by this lawe,[ ]40 that thou ne holde nat that I do thee wronge thogh thou descende adoun , whan the resoun of my pley axeth it.
Wistest thou nat how Cresus, the king of Lydiens, of whiche[ ] king Cyrus was ful sore agast a litel biforn, that this rewliche Cresus was caught of Cyrus and lad to the fyr to ben brent,45 but that a rayn descendede doun fro hevene that rescowede him? And is it out of thy minde how that Paulus, consul of Rome, whan he hadde taken the king of Perciens, weep pitously[ ] for the captivitee of the self kinge? What other thing biwailen the cryinges of tragedies but only the dedes of Fortune, that50 with an unwar stroke overtorneth realmes of grete nobley ? Glose. Tragedie is to seyn, a ditee of a prosperitee for a tyme,[ ]that endeth in wrecchednesse.
Lernedest nat thou in Greke, whan thou were yonge, that[ ] in the entree, or in thecelere , of Iupiter, ther ben couched two[ ]55 tonnes; that on is ful of good, that other is ful of harm? What right hast thou to pleyne, yif thou hast taken more plentevously of the goode syde, that is to seyn, of myrichessesand prosperites; and what eek if I ne be nat al departed fro thee? What eek yif my mutabilitee yiveth thee rightful cause of hope to han yit60 beter thinges? Natheles dismaye thee nat in thy thought; and thou that art put in the comune realme of alle, ne desyre nat to[ ] liven by thyn only propre right.
Si quantas rapidis flatibus incitus.
Though Plentee, that is goddesse ofrichesses, hielde adoun[ ] with ful horn, and withdraweth nat hir hand, as many richesses as the see torneth upward sandes whan it is moeved with ravisshinge blastes, or elles as many richesses as ther shynen5 brighte sterres on hevene on the sterry nightes ; yit, for al that, mankinde nolde not cese to wepe wrecchede pleyntes . And al be it so that god receyveth gladly hir preyers , and yiveth them (as fool-large ) moche gold, and aparaileth coveitous[ ]men with noble or clere honours: yit semeth hem haven y-geten no-thing , but alwey hir cruel ravyne, devouringe al that they10 han geten, sheweth other gapinges; that is to seyn, gapen and[ ] desyren yit after morichesses . What brydles mighten withholden, to any certein ende, the desordenee covetise of men, whan,[ ] ever the rather that it fleteth in large yiftes, the more ay brenneth in hem the thurst of havinge? Certes he that, quakinge and15 dredful, weneth him-selven nedy, he ne liveth never-more riche.”
Hiis igitur si pro se tecum Fortuna loqueretur.
Therfor, yif that Fortune spake with thee for hir-self in this manere, for-sothe thou ne haddest nat what thou mightest answere. And, if thou hast any-thing wherwith, thou mayest rightfully defenden[ ] thy compleint, it behoveth thee to shewen it; and I wol yeven thee space to tellen it.’5
‘Certeynly,’ quod I thanne, ‘thise beth faire thinges, and enointed with hony swetenesse of rethorike and musike; and only whyl they ben herd they ben delicious . But to wrecches is a depper felinge of harm; this is to seyn, that wrecches felen the harmes that they suffren more grevously than the remedies or the10delites of thise wordes mowen gladen or comforten hem; so that, whan thise thinges stinten for to soune in eres, the sorwe that is inset greveth the thought.’
‘Right so is it,’ quod she. ‘For thise ne ben yit none remedies of thy maladye ; but they ben a maner norisshinges of thy sorwe ,15 yit rebel ayein thy curacioun. For whan that tyme is, I shal moeve swiche thinges that percen hem-self depe. But natheles, that thou shalt not wilne to leten thy-self a wrecche, hast thou foryeten the noumber and the manere of thy welefulnesse? I20 holde me stille, how that the soverayne men of the citee token thee in cure and kepinge, whan thou were orphelin of fader and moder, and were chosen in affinitee of princes of the citee; and[ ] thou bigunne rather to be leef and dere than forto ben a neighbour ;[ ] the whiche thing is the most precious kinde of any propinquitee25 or alyaunce that may ben. Who is it that ne seide tho that thou were right weleful, with so grete a nobleye of thy fadres-in-lawe , and with the chastitee of thy wyf, and with the oportunitee and noblesse of thy masculin children, that is to seyn, thy sones? And over al this—me list to passen the comune thinges—how30 thou haddest in thy youthe dignitees that weren werned to olde men. But it delyteth me to comen now to the singuler uphepinge of thy welefulnesse . Yif any fruit of mortal thinges may han any weighte or prys of welefulnesse, mightest thou ever foryeten, for any charge of harm that mighte bifalle, the remembraunce of35 thilke day that thou saye thy two sones maked conseileres, and y-lad to-gedere fro thyn house under so greet assemblee of senatoures and under the blythenesse of poeple ; and whan thou saye hem set in the court in here chayeres of dignitees? Thou, rethorien or pronouncere of kinges preysinges, deservedest glorie40 of wit and of eloquence, whan thou, sittinge bitwene thy two[ ] sones, conseileres, in the place that highte Circo, fulfuldest the abydinge of the multitude of poeple that was sprad abouten thee, with so large[ ] preysinge and laude, as men singen in victories. Tho yave thou wordes to Fortune, as I trowe, that is to seyn, tho feffedest thou45Fortune with glosinge wordes anddeceivedesthir, whan she acoyede thee and norisshede thee as hir owne delyces. Thou bere away of Fortune a yifte, that is to seyn, swicheguerdoun , that she never yaf to privee man. Wilt thou therfor leye a rekeninge with Fortune?[ ] She hath now twinkled first upon thee with a wikkede eye. Yif thou considere the noumbre and the manere of thy blisses and50 of thy sorwes, thou mayst nat forsaken that thou art yit blisful. For if thou therfor wenest thy-self nat weleful, for thinges that tho semeden ioyful ben passed, ther nis nat why thou sholdest wene thy-self a wrecche; for thinges that semen now sorye passen also.
Art thou now comen first, a sodein gest, in-to the shadwe or[ ]55 tabernacle of this lyf; or trowest thou that any stedefastnesse be in mannes thinges, whan ofte a swift houre dissolveth the same man; that is to seyn, whan the soule departeth fro the body? For, al-though that selde is ther any feith that fortunous thinges wolen dwellen, yit natheles the laste day of a mannes lyf is a manere[ ]60 deeth to Fortune, and also to thilke that hath dwelt. And therfor,[ ] what, wenestow, thar [thee] recche , yif thou forlete hir in deyinge,[ ] or elles that she, Fortune, forlete thee in fleeinge awey?
Cum polo Phebus roseis quadrigis.
Whan Phebus, the sonne, biginneth to spreden his cleernesse with rosene chariettes, thanne the sterre, y-dimmed, paleth hir whyte cheres, by the flambes of the sonne that overcometh the sterre-light. This is to seyn, whan the sonne is risen, the dey-sterre wexeth pale, and leseth hir light for the grete brightnesse of the5sonne.
Whan the wode wexeth rody of rosene floures, in the first somer sesoun, thorugh the brethe of the winde Zephirus that wexeth warm, yif the cloudy wind Auster blowe felliche, than goth awey the fairenesse of thornes .[ ]10
Yif the forme of this worlde is so selde stable, and yif it turneth15 by so many entrechaunginges, wolt thou thanne trusten in the tomblinge fortunes of men? Wolt thou trowen on flittinge goodes?[ ]It is certein and establisshed by lawe perdurable, that no-thing that is engendred nis stedefast ne stable .’[ ]
Tunc ego, uera, inquam, commemoras.
Thanne seide I thus: ‘O norice of alle vertues , thou seist ful sooth; ne I ne may nat forsake the right swifte cours of my prosperitee; that is to seyn, that prosperitee ne be comen to me[ ] wonder swiftly and sone. But this is a thing that greetly smerteth5 me whan it remembreth me. For in alle adversitee of fortune,[ ] the most unsely kinde of contrarious fortune is to han ben weleful.’
‘But that thou,’ quod she, ‘abyest thus the torment of thy[ ] false opinioun, that mayst thou nat rightfully blamen ne aretten10 to thinges: as who seith, for thou hast yit manyhabundauncesof thinges.
Text. For al be it so that the ydel name of aventurous[ ] welefulnesse moeveth thee now, it is leveful that thou rekne with me of how manye grete thinges thou hast yit plentee. And15 therfor, yif that thilke thing that thou haddest for most precious in al thy richesse of fortune be kept to thee yit, by the grace of god, unwemmed and undefouled, mayst thou thanne pleyne rightfully upon the meschef of Fortune, sin thou hast yit thy beste thinges? Certes, yit liveth in good point thilke precious20 honour of mankinde, Symacus, thy wyves fader, which that is[ ] a man maked alle of sapience and of vertu; the whiche man thou woldest byen redely with the prys of thyn owne lyf. He biwayleth the wronges that men don to thee, and nat for him-self; for he liveth in sikernesse of any sentences put ayeins him. And yit liveth thy wyf, that is atempre of wit, and passinge other[ ]25 wimmen in clennesse of chastetee; and for I wol closen shortely hir bountees, she is lyk to hir fader. I telle thee wel, that she liveth looth of this lyf, and kepeth to thee only hir goost; and is al maat and overcomen by wepinge and sorwe for desyr of thee, in the whiche thing only I moot graunten that thy welefulnesse is30amenused . What shal I seyn eek of thy two sones, conseilours,[ ] of whiche, as of children of hir age, ther shyneth the lyknesse of the wit of hir fader or of hir elder fader? And sin the sovereyn cure of alle mortel folk is to saven hir owen lyves, O how weleful art thou, yif thou knowe thy goodes! For yit ben ther35 thinges dwelled to thee-ward , that no man douteth that they ne ben more dereworthe to thee than thyn owen lyf. And for-thy drye thy teres, for yit nis nat everich fortune al hateful to thee-ward, ne over greet tempest hath nat yit fallen upon thee, whan that thyn ancres cleven faste, that neither wolen suffren the[ ]40 counfort of this tyme present ne the hope of tyme cominge to passen ne to faylen .’
‘And I preye,’ quod I, ‘that faste moten they halden ; for whyles that they halden , how-so-ever that thinges ben, I shal wel fleten forth and escapen; but thou mayst wel seen how grete45 aparayles and aray that me lakketh, that ben passed away fro me.’
‘I have som-what avaunsed and forthered thee,’ quod she, ‘yif that thou anoye nat or forthinke nat of al thy fortune: as who seith, I have som-what comforted thee, so that thou tempest thee nat50thus with al thy fortune, sin thou hast yit thy beste thinges. But I may nat suffren thy delices , that pleynest so wepinge and[ ] anguissous, for that ther lakketh som-what to thy welefulnesse. For what man is so sad or of so parfit welefulnesse, that he ne stryveth and pleyneth on som halve ayen the qualitee of his55 estat? For-why ful anguissous thing is the condicioun of mannes[ ] goodes; for either it cometh nat al-togider to a wight, or elles it last nat perpetuel . For sum man hath grete richesses , but he is ashamed of his ungentel linage; and som is renowned of noblesse60 of kinrede, but he is enclosed in so grete anguisshe of nede of thinges, that him were lever that he were unknowe. And som man haboundeth both in richesse and noblesse, but yit he bewaileth his chaste lyf, for he ne hath no wyf. And som man is wel and selily y-maried, but he hath no children, and norissheth65 his richesses to the eyres of strange folkes. And som man is gladed with children, but he wepeth ful sory for the trespas of his sone or of his doughter. And for this ther ne acordeth no wight lightly to the condicioun of his fortune; for alwey to every[ ] man ther is in som-what that, unassayed, he ne wot nat; or elles70 he dredeth that he hath assayed. And adde this also, that every weleful man hath a ful delicat felinge; so that, but-yif alle thinges bifalle at his owne wil, for he is impacient, or is nat used to han non adversitee, anon he is throwen adoun for every litel thing. And ful litel thinges ben tho that withdrawen the somme or the75 perfeccioun of blisfulnesse fro hem that ben most fortunat. How many men, trowest thou, wolden demen hem-self to ben almost in hevene, yif they mighten atayne to the leest party of the remnaunt of thy fortune? This same place that thou clepest exil, is contree to hem that enhabiten heer, and forthy nothing [is][ ]80 wrecched but whan thou wenest it: aswhoseith, thou thy-self, ne no wight elles, nisawrecche, but whan he weneth him-self a wrecche by reputacioun of his corage. And ayeinward, alle fortune is blisful[ ] to a man by the agreabletee or by the egalitee of him that suffreth it.
85What man is that, that is so weleful, that nolde changen his estat whan he hath lost pacience? The swetnesse of mannes[ ] welefulnesse is sprayned with many biternesses ; the whiche welefulnesse, al-though it seme swete and ioyful to hem that useth it, yit may it nat ben with-holden that it ne goth away whan it wole .[ ] Thanne is it wel sene, how wrecched is the blisfulnesse of mortal90 thinges, that neither it dureth perpetuel with hem that every fortune receiven agreablely or egaly, ne it delyteth nat in al to hem that ben anguissous. O ye mortal folk, what seke ye thanne blisfulnesse out of your-self, whiche that is put in your-self? Errour and folye confoundeth yow.95
I shal shewe thee shortely the poynt of sovereyne blisfulnesse. Is ther any-thing more precious to thee than thy-self? Thou wolt answere, “nay.” Thanne, yif it so be that thou art mighty over thy-self, that is to seyn, by tranquillitee of thy sowle, than hast thou thing in thy power that thou noldest never lesen, ne Fortune100 ne may nat beneme it thee. And that thou mayst knowe that blisfulnesse ne may nat standen in thinges that ben fortunous and temporel, now understonde and gader it to-gidere thus: Yif blisfulnesse be the sovereyn good of nature that liveth by resoun, ne thilke thing nis nat sovereyn good that may be taken105 awey in any wyse, (for more worthy thing and more digne is thilke thing that may nat ben taken awey); than sheweth it wel,[ ] that the unstablenesse of fortune may nat atayne to receiven verray blisfulnesse. And yit more-over: what man that this toumbling welefulnesse ledeth, either he woot that it is chaungeable,[ ]110 or elles he woot it nat. And yif he woot it nat, what blisful fortune may ther be in the blindnesse of ignorance? And yif he woot that it is chaungeable, he moot alwey ben adrad that he ne lese that thing that he ne doubteth nat but that he may lesen it; as who seith, he mot ben alwey agast,lesthe lese that he wot wel he[ ]115may leseit . For which, the continuel dreed that he hath ne suffreth him nat to ben weleful. Or yif he lese it, he weneth to be dispysed and forleten . Certes eek, that is a ful litel good that is born with evene herte whan it is lost; that is to seyn, that men[ ] do no more fors of thelostthan of the havinge. And for as moche[ ]120 as thou thy-self art he, to whom it hath ben shewed and proved by ful manye demonstraciouns, as I wot wel, that the sowles of men ne mowe nat deyen in no wyse; and eek sin it is cleer and certein, that fortunous welefulnesse endeth by the deeth of the 125 body; it may nat ben douted that, yif that deeth may take awey blisfulnesse, that alle the kinde of mortal thinges ne descendeth in-to wrecchednesse by the ende of the deeth. And sin we kuowen wel, that many a man hath sought the fruit of blisfulnesse nat only with suffringe of deeth, but eek with suffringe of peynes and130 tormentes; how mighte than this present lyf maken men blisful, sin that, whan thilke selve lyf is ended, it ne maketh folk no[ ] wrecches?
Quisquis uolet perennem Cautus ponere sedem.
What maner man, stable and war , that wole founden him a perdurable sete, and ne wole nat ben cast down with the loude blastes of the wind Eurus; and wole despyse the see, manasinge with flodes; lat him eschewen to bilde on the cop of the mountaigne5 or in the moiste sandes. For the felle wind Auster tormenteth the cop of the mountaigne with all his strengthes; and the lause sandes refusen to beren the hevy wighte .[ ]
And forthy, if thou wolt fleen the perilous aventure, that is to[ ] seyn, of the worlde; have minde certeinly to ficchen thyn hous of10 a merye site in a lowe stoon. For al-though the wind, troubling the see, thondre with over-throwinges, thou that art put in quiete, and weleful by strengthe of thy palis , shalt leden a cleer age,[ ] scorninge the woodnesses and the ires of the eyr.
Set cum rationum iam in te.
But for as moche as the norisshinges of my resouns descenden now in-to thee, I trowe it were tyme to usen a litel strenger medicynes. Now understond heer, al were it so that the yiftes of Fortune ne were nat brutel ne transitorie, what is ther in hem that may be thyn in any tyme, or elles that it nis foul, yif that it5 be considered and loked perfitly? Richesses , ben they precious by the nature of hem-self, or elles by the nature of thee? What is most worth of richesses ? Is it nat gold or might of moneye assembled? Certes, thilke gold and thilke moneye shyneth and yeveth betere renoun to hem that despenden it thanne to thilke[ ]10 folk that mokeren it; for avarice maketh alwey mokereres to ben[ ] hated, and largesse maketh folk cleer of renoun. For sin that swich thing as is transferred fram o man to another ne may nat dwellen with no man; certes, thanne is thilke moneye precious whan it is translated into other folk and stenteth to ben had, by[ ]15 usage of large yevinge of him that hath yeven it. And also: yif[ ] that al the moneye that is over-al in the worlde were gadered toward o man, it sholde maken alle other men to ben nedy as of that.[ ] And certes a voys al hool , that is to seyn, with-oute amenusinge, fulfilleth[ ] to-gidere the hering of moche folk; but certes, youre20richesses ne mowen nat passen in-to moche folke with-oute amenusinge. And whan they ben apassed, nedes they maken hem pore that for-gon the richesses.
O! streite and nedy clepe I this richesse , sin that many folk ne may nat han it al, ne al may it nat comen to o man with-outen25 povertee of alle other folk! And the shyninge of gemmes, that I clepe precious stones, draweth it nat the eyen of folk to hemward, that is to seyn,forthebeautee ? But certes, yif ther were beautee or bountee in the shyninge of stones, thilke cleernesse is of the stones hem-self, and nat of men; for whiche I wondre30gretly that men mervailen on swiche thinges. For-why, what thing is it, that yif it wanteth moeving and Ioynture of sowle and[ ] body, that by right mighte semen a fair creature to him that hath a sowle of resoun? For al be it so that gemmes drawen to hem-self a litel of the laste beautee of the world, through the entente of[ ]35 hir creatour and through the distinccioun of hem-self; yit, for as[ ] mochel as they ben put under youre excellence, they ne han nat deserved by no wey that ye sholden mervailen on hem. And the beautee of feldes, delyteth it nat mochel un-to yow?’
40Boece. ‘Why sholde it nat delyten us, sin that it is a right fair[ ] porcioun of the right faire werke, that is to seyn, of this world? And right so ben we gladed som-tyme of the face of the see whan it is cleer; and also mervailen we on the hevene and on the sterres, and on the sonne and on the mone.’
45Philosophye. ‘Aperteneth,’ quod she, ‘any of thilke thinges to thee? Why darst thou glorifyen thee in the shyninge of any swiche thinges? Art thou distingwed and embelised by the springinge floures of the first somer sesoun, or swelleth thy plentee in the fruites of somer? Why art thou ravisshed with50 ydel Ioyes? Why embracest thou straunge goodes as they weren thyne? Fortune ne shal never maken that swiche thinges ben thyne, that nature of thinges hath maked foreine fro thee. Sooth is that, with-outen doute, the frutes of the erthe owen to ben to the norissinge of bestes. And yif thou wolt fulfille thy nede after55 that it suffyseth to nature, than is it no nede that thou seke after the superfluitee of fortune. For with ful fewe things and with ful litel thinges nature halt hir apayed; and yif thou wolt achoken the fulfillinge of nature with superfluitees, certes, thilke thinges that thou wolt thresten or pouren in-to nature shullen ben unioyful60 to thee, or elles anoyous . Wenest thou eek that it be a fair thing to shyne with dyverse clothinge? Of whiche clothinge yif the beautee be agreeable to loken up-on, I wol mervailen on the nature of the matere of thilke clothes, or elles on the werkman that wroughte hem. But also a long route of meynee, maketh65 that a blisful man? The whiche servants, yif they ben vicious of condiciouns, it is a great charge and a distruccioun to the hous, and a greet enemy to the lord him-self. And yif they ben goode men, how shal straunge or foreine goodnesse ben put in the noumbre of thy richesse? So that, by all these forseide thinges,70 it is clearly y-shewed, that never oon of thilke thinges that thou acountedest for thyne goodes nas nat thy good. In the whiche thinges, yif ther be no beautee to ben desyred, why sholdest thou ben sory yif thou lese hem, or why sholdest thou reioysen thee to holden hem? For yif they ben faire of hir owne kinde, what aperteneth that to thee? For al so wel sholden they han ben75 faire by hem-selve, though they weren departed fram alle thyne richesses . Forwhy faire ne precious ne weren they nat, for that they comen among thy richesses ; but, for they semeden faire and precious, ther-for thou haddest lever rekne hem amonges thy richesses .80
But what desirest thou of Fortune with so grete a noise, and with so grete a fare? I trowe thou seke to dryve awey nede with habundaunce of thinges; but certes, it torneth to you al in the contrarie. Forwhy certes, it nedeth of ful manye helpinges to kepen the diversitee of precious ostelments. And sooth it is,[ ]85 that of manye thinges han they nede that manye thinges han; and ayeinward, of litel nedeth hem that mesuren hir fille after the nede of kinde, and nat after the outrage of coveityse. Is it thanne so, that ye men ne han no proper good y-set in you, for which ye moten seken outward youre goodes in foreine and subgit[ ]90 thinges? So is thanne the condicioun of thinges torned up-so-down, that a man, that is a devyne beest by merite of his resoun,[ ] thinketh that him-self nis neither faire ne noble, but-yif it be thorugh possessioun of ostelments that ne han no sowles. And certes, al other thinges ben apayed of hir owne beautee; but ye95 men, that ben semblable to god by your resonable thought, desiren to aparailen your excellent kinde of the lowest thinges;[ ]ne ye understonden nat how greet a wrong ye don to your creatour. For he wolde that mankinde were most worthy and noble of any othre erthely thinges; and ye threste adoun your100 dignitees benethe the lowest thinges. For yif that al the good of[ ] every thinge be more precious than is thilke thing whos that the good is: sin ye demen that the fouleste thinges ben youre goodes, thanne submitten ye and putten your-selven under tho fouleste thinges by your estimacioun; and certes, this tydeth nat[ ]105 with-oute youre desertes . For certes, swiche is the condicioun of alle mankinde, that only whan it hath knowinge of it-selve, than passeth it in noblesse alle other thinges; and whan it forleteth the knowinge of it-self, than is it brought binethen alle beestes. For-why110 al other livinge beestes han of kinde to knowe nat hem-self ; but whan that men leten the knowinge of hemself, it cometh hem[ ] of vice. But how brode sheweth the errour and the folye of yow men, that wenen that any thing may ben aparailed with straunge aparailements! But for sothe that may nat ben doon. For yif115 a wight shyneth with thinges that ben put to him, as thus, if thilke thinges shynen with which a man is aparailed, certes, thilke thinges ben comended and preysed with which he is aparailed; but natheles, the thing that is covered and wrapped under that dwelleth in his filthe .
120And I denye that thilke thing be good that anoyeth him that hath it. Gabbe I of this? Thou wolt seye “nay.” Certes,[ ]richesses han anoyed ful ofte hem that han tho richesses; sin that every wikked shrewe, (and for his wikkednesse the more gredy after other folkes richesses, wher-so ever it be in any place, be it125 gold or precious stones), weneth him only most worthy that hath[ ] hem. Thou thanne, that so bisy dredest now the swerd and now the spere, yif thou haddest entred in the path of this lyf a voide[ ]wayferinge man, than woldest thou singe beforn the theef; as who seith, a pore man, that berth no richesse on him by the weye,[ ]130may boldely singe biforn theves, for he hath nat wherof to ben robbed. O precious and right cleer is the blisfulnesse of mortal richesses , that, whan thou hast geten it, than hast thou lorn thy sikernesse!
Felix nimium prior etas.
Blisful was the first age of men! They helden hem apayed[ ] with the metes that the trewe feldes broughten forth. They ne distroyede nor deceivede nat hem-self with outrage. They weren wont lightly to slaken hir hunger at even with acornes of okes. They ne coude nat medly the yifte of Bachus to the[ ]5 cleer hony; that is to seyn, they coude make no pimentnorclarree;[ ] ne they coude nat medle the brighte fleeses of the contree of[ ]Seriens with the venim of Tyrie; this is to seyn, they coude nat deyen whytefleesesofSeriencontree with the blode of a manershelfisshethat men finden in Tyrie, with whiche blood men deyen10purpur. They slepen hoolsom slepes up-on the gras, and dronken of the renninge wateres; and layen under the shadwes of the heye pyn-trees. Ne no gest ne straungere ne carf yit[ ] the heye see with ores or with shippes; ne they ne hadde seyn yit none newe strondes, to leden marchaundyse in-to dyverse15 contrees. Tho weren the cruel clariouns ful hust and ful stille, ne blood y-shad by egre hate ne hadde nat deyed yit armures .[ ] For wher-to or which woodnesse of enemys wolde first moeven[ ] armes, whan they seyen cruel woundes, ne none medes be of blood y-shad?20
I wolde that oure tymes sholde torne ayein to the olde maneres! But the anguissous love of havinge brenneth in folk[ ] more cruely than the fyr of the mountaigne Ethna , that ay brenneth. Allas! what was he that first dalf up the gobetes or the weightes[ ] of gold covered under erthe, and the precious stones that wolden25 han ben hid? He dalf up precious perils. That is to seyn, that[ ] he that hem first up dalf,hedalf up a precious peril; for-why for the preciousnesse of swichethinge , hath many manbenin peril.
Quid autem de dignitatibus.
But what shal I seye of dignitees and of powers, the whiche ye men, that neither knowen verray dignitee ne verray power, areysen hem as heye as the hevene? The whiche dignitees and powers, yif they comen to any wikked man, they don as grete5 damages and destrucciouns as doth the flaumbe of the mountaigne Ethna, whan the flaumbe walweth up; ne no deluge ne doth so cruel harmes. Certes, thee remembreth wel, as I trowe, that thilke dignitee that men clepen the imperie of consulers, the[ ] whiche that whylom was biginninge of fredom, youre eldres10 coveiteden to han don away that dignitee, for the pryde of the consulers . And right for the same pryde your eldres, biforn that tyme, hadden don awey, out of the citee of Rome, the kinges name; that is to seyn, they nolde han no lenger noking . But now, yif so be that dignitees and powers be yeven to goode men,15 the whiche thing is ful selde , what agreable thing is ther in tho dignitees or powers but only the goodnesse of folkes that usen hem? And therfor it is thus, that honour ne comth nat to vertu for cause of dignitee, but ayeinward honour comth to dignitee for cause of vertu. But whiche is thilke youre dereworthe power,20 that is so cleer and so requerable? O ye ertheliche bestes,[ ] considere ye nat over which thinge that it semeth that ye han power? Now yif thou saye a mous amonges other mys , that chalaunged to him-self-ward right and power over alle other mys , how greet scorn woldest thou han of it! Glosa. So fareth it by25men; the body hath power over the body. For yif thou loke wel up-on the body of a wight, what thing shalt thou finde more freele than is mankinde ; the whiche men wel ofte ben slayn with bytinge of smale flyes, or elles with the entringe of crepinge wormes in-to the privetees of mannes body ? But wher shal man[ ]30 finden any man that may exercen or haunten any right up-on another man, but only up-on his body, or elles up-on thinges that ben lowere than the body, the whiche I clepe fortunous[ ] possessiouns? Mayst thou ever have any comaundement over a free corage? Mayst thou remuen fro the estat of his propre35 reste a thought that is clyvinge to-gidere in him-self by stedefast[ ] resoun? As whylom a tyraunt wende to confounde a free man[ ] of corage, and wende to constreyne him by torment, to maken him discoveren and acusen folk that wisten of a coniuracioun, which I clepe a confederacie, that was cast ayeins this tyraunt; but this free man boot of his owne tonge and caste it in the40 visage of thilke wode tyraunt; so that the torments that this tyraunt wende to han maked matere of crueltee , this wyse man maked it matere of vertu.
But what thing is it that a man may don to another man,[ ] that he ne may receyven the same thing of othre folk in him-self:45or thus, what may a man don to folk, that folk ne may don him the same? I have herd told of Busirides, that was wont to sleen his[ ] gestes that herberweden in his hous; and he was sleyn him-self of Ercules that was his gest. Regulus hadde taken in bataile[ ] many men of Affrike and cast hem in-to feteres; but sone after50 he moste yeve his handes to ben bounde with the cheynes of hem that he hadde whylom overcomen. Wenest thou thanne that he be mighty, that hath no power to don a thing , that othre ne may don in him that he doth in othre? And yit more-over, yif it so were that thise dignitees or poweres hadden any propre55 or natural goodnesse in hem-self, never nolden they comen to shrewes. For contrarious thinges ne ben nat wont to ben y-felawshiped to-gidere. Nature refuseth that contrarious thinges ben y-ioigned. And so, as I am in certein that right wikked folk han dignitees ofte tyme, than sheweth it wel that dignitees and60 powers ne ben nat goode of hir owne kinde; sin that they suffren hem-self to cleven or ioinen hem to shrewes. And certes, the same thing may I most digneliche iugen and seyn of alle the[ ] yiftes of fortune that most plentevously comen to shrewes; of the whiche yiftes, I trowe that it oughte ben considered, that no65 man douteth that he nis strong in whom he seeth strengthe; and in whom that swiftnesse is, sooth it is that he is swift. Also musike maketh musiciens , and phisike maketh phisiciens , and rethorike rethoriens. For-why the nature of every thing maketh his propretee, ne it is nat entremedled with the effects of the70 contrarious thinges; and, as of wil, it chaseth out thinges that[ ]ben to it contrarie. But certes, richesse may not restreyne avarice unstaunched; ne power ne maketh nat a man mighty over him-self, whiche that vicious lustes holden destreyned with75 cheynes that ne mowen nat be unbounden. And dignitees that ben yeven to shrewede folk nat only ne maketh hem nat digne, but it sheweth rather al openly that they ben unworthy and undigne. And why is it thus? Certes, for ye han Ioye to clepen thinges with false names that beren hem alle in the contrarie;80 the whiche names ben ful ofte reproeved by the effecte of the[ ] same thinges; so that thise ilke richesses ne oughten nat by right to ben cleped richesses ; ne swich power ne oughte nat ben cleped power; ne swich dignitee ne oughte nat ben cleped dignitee.
85And at the laste, I may conclude the same thing of alle the yiftes of Fortune, in which ther nis nothing to ben desired, ne that hath in him-self naturel bountee, as it is ful wel y-sene . For neither they ne ioignen hem nat alwey to goode men, ne maken hem alwey goode to whom that they ben y-ioigned.
Nouimus quantas dederit ruinas.
We han wel knowen how many grete harmes and destrucciouns weren don by the emperor Nero. He leet brenne the citee of[ ] Rome, and made sleen the senatoures. And he, cruel, whylom slew his brother; and he was maked moist with the blood of[ ]5 his moder; that is to seyn, heleetsleen and slitten the body of his moder, to seen wher he wasconceived ; and he loked on every halve up-on her colde dede body, ne no tere ne wette his face, but[ ]he was so hard-herted that he mighte ben domes-man or Iuge of hir dede beautee. And natheles , yit governede this Nero by10 ceptre alle the poeples that Phebus the sonne may seen, cominge from his outereste arysinge til he hyde his bemes under the wawes; that is to seyn, he governed alle the poeples byceptreimperial that the sonne goth aboute, from est to west. And eek this Nero governed by ceptre alle the poeples that ben under the colde sterres that highten “septem triones” ; this is to seyn, he[ ]15governede alle the poeples that ben under thepartyof the north. And eek Nero governed alle the poeples that the violent wind Nothus scorkleth , and baketh the brenning sandes by his drye hete; that is to seyn, alle the poeples in the south.But yit ne[ ] mighte nat al his hye power torne the woodnesse of this wikked20Nero. Allas! it is a grevous fortune , as ofte as wikked swerd is ioigned to cruel venim; that is to seyn, venimouscruelteeto lordshippe.’[ ]
Tum ego, scis, inquam.
Thanne seyde I thus: ‘Thou wost wel thy-self that the coveitise of mortal thinges ne hadde never lordshipe of me; but I have wel desired matere of thinges to done, as who seith,[ ] Idesireto han matere of governaunce over comunalitees, for vertu, stille, ne sholde nat elden;’ that is to seyn, that [him] lestethat,5or hewexolde, his vertu, that lay now ful stille, ne should natperisshe unexercisedin governaunce of comune; for which men mighten speken or wryten of his goode governement.
Philosophye. ‘For sothe, quod she, ‘and that is a thing that may drawen to governaunce swiche hertes as ben worthy and[ ]10 noble of hir nature; but natheles, it may nat drawen or tollen swiche hertes as ben y-brought to the fulle perfeccioun of vertu, that is to seyn, coveitise of glorie and renoun to han wel administred the comune thinges or don gode desertes to profit of the comune. For see now and considere, how litel and how voide of15 alle prys is thilke glorie. Certein thing is, as thou hast lerned by the demonstracioun of astronomye, that al the environinge of the erthe aboute ne halt nat but the resoun of a prikke at regard of the[ ] greetnesse of hevene; that is to seyn, that yif ther were maked20 comparisoun of the erthe to the greetnesse of hevene, men wolden iugen in al, that the erthe ne helde no space. Of the whiche litel regioun of this worlde, the ferthe partye is enhabited with livinge bestes that we knowen, as thou thyself hast y-lerned by Tholomee[ ] that proveth it. And yif thou haddest with-drawen and abated in25 thy thought fro thilke ferthe partye as moche space as the see and the mareys contenen and over-goon, and as moche space as the regioun of droughte over-streccheth, that is to seyn, sandes and[ ] desertes,wel unnethe sholde ther dwellen a right streit place to the habitacioun of men. And ye thanne, that ben environed and30 closed with-in the leste prikke of thilke prikke, thinken ye to manifesten your renoun and don youre name to ben born forth? But your glorie, that is so narwe and so streite y-throngen in-to so litel boundes, how mochel coveiteth it in largesse and in greet doinge? And also sette this there-to: that many a nacioun,[ ]35 dyverse of tonge and of maneres and eek of resoun of hir livinge, ben enhabited in the clos of thilke litel habitacle; to the whiche naciouns, what for difficultee of weyes and what for dyversitee of langages, and what for defaute of unusage and entrecomuninge of[ ] marchaundise, nat only the names of singuler men ne may nat40 strecchen, but eek the fame of citees ne may nat strecchen. At the laste, certes, in the tyme of Marcus Tullius , as him-self writ in[ ] his book, that the renoun of the comune of Rome ne hadde nat yit passed ne cloumben over the mountaigne that highte Caucasus;[ ] and yit was, thilke tyme, Rome wel waxen and greetly redouted of45 the Parthes and eek of other folk enhabitinge aboute. Seestow[ ] nat thanne how streit and how compressed is thilke glorie that ye travailen aboute to shewe and to multiplye? May thanne the glorie of a singuler Romaine strecchen thider as the fame of the name of Rome may nat climben ne passen? And eek, seestow nat that the maneres of dyverse folk and eek hir lawes ben discordaunt50 among hem-self; so that thilke thing that som men iugen worthy of preysinge, other folk iugen that it is worthy of torment? And ther-of comth it that, though a man delyte him in preysinge of his renoun, he may nat in no wyse bringen forth ne spreden his name to many maner poeples. There-for every man55 oughte to ben apayed of his glorie that is publisshed among his owne neighbours ; and thilke noble renoun shal ben restreyned within the boundes of o manere folke. But how many a man, that was ful noble in his tyme, hath the wrecched and nedy[ ] foryetinge of wryteres put out of minde and don awey! Al be60 it so that, certes, thilke wrytinges profiten litel; the whiche wrytinges long and derk elde doth awey, bothe hem and eek hir autours . But ye men semen to geten yow a perdurabletee, whan ye thenken that, in tyme to-cominge , your fame shal lasten. But natheles, yif thou wolt maken comparisoun to the endeles spaces65 of eternitee, what thing hast thou by whiche thou mayst reioysen thee of long lastinge of thy name? For yif ther were maked comparisoun of the abydinge of a moment to ten thousand winter, for as mochel as bothe the spaces ben ended, yit hath the[ ] moment som porcioun of it, al-though it litel be. But natheles,70 thilke selve noumbre of yeres, and eek as many yeres as ther-to may be multiplyed, ne may nat, certes, ben comparisoned to the perdurabletee that is endeles ; for of thinges that han ende[ ] may be maked comparisoun, but of thinges that ben with-outen ende, to thinges that han ende, may be maked no comparisoun .75 And forthy is it that, al-though renoun, of as long tyme as ever thee list to thinken, were thought to the regard of eternitee, that[ ] is unstaunchable and infinit, it ne sholde nat only semen litel, but pleynliche right naught. But ye men, certes, ne conne don nothing a-right, but-yif it be for the audience of poeple and for80 ydel rumours; and ye forsaken the grete worthinesse of conscience and of vertu, and ye seken your guerdouns of the smale wordes of straunge folk.
Have now heer and understonde, in the lightnesse of swich85 pryde and veine glorie, how a man scornede festivaly and merily swich vanitee. Whylom ther was a man thas hadde assayed[ ] with stryvinge wordes another man, the whiche, nat for usage of verray vertu but for proud veine glorie, had taken up-on him falsly the name of a philosophre. This rather man that Ispak[ ]90of thoughte he wolde assaye, wher he, thilke, were a philosophre or no; that is to seyn, yif that he wolde han suffred lightly in pacience the wronges that weren don un-to him. This feynede philosophre took pacience a litel whyle, and, whan he hadde received wordes of outrage, he, as in stryvinge ayein and reioys95 inge of him-self, seyde at the laste right thus: “understondest[ ] thou nat that I am a philosophre?” That other man answerde ayein ful bytingly, and seyde: “I hadde wel understonden it , yif thou haddest holden thy tonge stille.” But what is it to thise noble worthy men (for, certes, of swiche folke speke I) that seken100 glorie with vertu? What is it?’ quod she; ‘what atteyneth fame to swiche folk, whan the body is resolved by the deeth at the laste? For yif it so be that men dyen in al, that is to seyn, body and sowle, the whiche thing our resoun defendeth us to bileven, thanne is ther no glorie in no wyse. For what sholde thilke glorie105ben,whan he, of whom thilke glorie is seyd to be, nis right naught in no wyse? And yif the sowle, whiche that hath in it-self science of goode werkes, unbounden fro the prison of the erthe , wendeth frely to the hevene, despyseth it nat thanne alle erthely[ ] occupacioun; and, being in hevene, reioyseth that it is exempt fro alle110 erthely thinges? As who seith, thanne rekketh the sowle of no glorie of renoun of this world .
Quicunque solam mente praecipiti petit.
Who-so that, with overthrowinge thought, only seketh glorie of[ ] fame, and weneth that it be sovereyn good: lat him loken up-on the brode shewinge contrees of hevene, and up-on the streite site[ ] of this erthe; and he shal ben ashamed of the encrees of his name, that may nat fulfille the litel compas of the erthe. O!5 what coveiten proude folk to liften up hir nekkes in ydel in the dedly yok of this worlde? For al-though that renoun y-sprad,[ ] passinge to ferne poeples, goth by dyverse tonges; and al-though[ ]that grete houses or kinredes shynen with clere titles of honours; yit, natheles, deeth despyseth alle heye glorie of fame: and deeth10 wrappeth to-gidere the heye hevedes and the lowe, and maketh egal and evene the heyeste to the loweste. Wher wonen now the bones of trewe Fabricius? What is now Brutus, or stierne[ ] Catoun? The thinne fame, yit lastinge, of hir ydel names, is[ ] marked with a fewe lettres; but al-though that we han knowen15 the faire wordes of the fames of hem, it is nat yeven to knowe hem that ben dede and consumpte . Liggeth thanne stille, al[ ]outrely unknowable; ne fame ne maketh yow nat knowe. And yif ye wene to liven the longer for winde of your mortal name, whan o cruel day shal ravisshe yow, thanne is the seconde deeth[ ]20 dwellinge un-to yow.’ Glose. The first deeth he clepeth heerthedepartinge of the body and the sowle; and the seconde deeth he clepeth, as heer, the stintinge of the renoun of fame.
Set ne me inexorabile contra fortunam.
A.omits to end of bk. ii. pr. 1.
‘But for as mochel as thou shalt nat wenen’, quod she, ‘that I bere untretable bataile ayeins fortune, yit som-tyme it bifalleth that[ ] she, deceyvable , deserveth to han right good thank of men; and that is, whan she hir-self opneth, and whan she descovereth hir frount, and sheweth hir maneres. Peraventure yit understondest5 thou nat that I shal seye. It is a wonder that I desire to telle, and forthy unnethe may I unpleyten my sentence with wordes; for[ ] I deme that contrarious Fortune profiteth more to men than Fortune debonaire. For alwey, whan Fortune semeth debonaire,10 than she lyeth falsly in bihetinge the hope of welefulnesse; but forsothe contrarious Fortune is alwey soothfast, whan she sheweth hir-self unstable thorugh hir chaunginge. The amiable Fortune deceyveth folk; the contrarie Fortune techeth. The amiable Fortune bindeth with the beautee of false goodes the hertes of15 folk that usen hem; the contrarie Fortune unbindeth hem by the knowinge of freele welefulnesse. The amiable Fortune mayst thou seen alwey windinge and flowinge, and ever misknowinge of[ ][ ] hir-self; the contrarie Fortune is atempre and restreyned, and wys thorugh exercise of hir adversitee. At the laste, amiable Fortune20 with hir flateringes draweth miswandringe men fro the sovereyne good; the contrarious Fortune ledeth ofte folk ayein to soothfast goodes, and haleth hem ayein as with an hooke. Wenest thou thanne that thou oughtest to leten this a litel thing, that this aspre[ ] and horrible Fortune hath discovered to thee the thoughtes of thy25 trewe freendes? For-why this ilke Fortune hath departed and uncovered to thee bothe the certein visages and eek the doutous[ ] visages of thy felawes. Whan she departed awey fro thee, she took awey hir freendes, and lafte thee thyne freendes. Now whan thou were riche and weleful, as thee semede, with how mochel30woldest thou han bought the fulle knowinge of this, that is to seyn, the knowinge of thy verray freendes? Now pleyne thee nat thanne of richesse y-lorn, sin thou hast founden the moste precious kinde of richesses, that is to seyn, thy verray freendes.
Quod mundus stabili fide.
That the world with stable feith varieth acordable chaunginges,[ ] that the contrarious qualitee of elements holden among hem-self aliaunce perdurable; that Phebus the sonne with his goldene chariet bringeth forth the rosene day; that the mone hath commaundement5 over the nightes, which nightes Hesperus the evesterre hath brought; that the see, greedy to flowen, constreyneth[ ] with a certein ende hise flodes, so that it is nat leveful to strecche[ ] hise brode termes or boundes up-on the erthes , that is to seyn, to[ ]covere al the erthe:—al this acordaunce of thinges is bounden with Love, that governeth erthe and see, and hath also commaundements[ ]10 to the hevenes. And yif this Love slakede the brydeles,[ ] alle thinges that now loven hem to-gederes wolden maken a bataile continuely, and stryven to fordoon the fasoun of this worlde, the whiche they now leden in acordable feith by faire moevinges. This Love halt to-gideres poeples ioigned with an holy bond, and15 knitteth sacrement of mariages of chaste loves; and Love endyteth lawes to trewe felawes. O! weleful were mankinde, yif thilke Love that governeth hevene governed youre corages!’
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Explicit Liber secundus.
Iam cantum illa finierat.
By this she hadde ended hir song, whan the sweetnesse of hir ditee hadde thorugh-perced me that was desirous of herkninge, and I astoned hadde yit streighte myn eres, that is to seyn, to[ ] herkne the bet what she wolde seye; so that a litel here-after I seyde thus: ‘O thou that art sovereyn comfort of anguissous5 corages, so thou hast remounted and norisshed me with the[ ]weighte of thy sentences and with delyt of thy singinge; so that I trowe nat now that I be unparigal to the strokes of Fortune:[ ]as who seyth, I dar wel now suffren al the assautes of Fortune, and weldefendeme fro hir. And tho remedies whiche that thou10 seydest her-biforn weren right sharpe, nat only that I am nat[ ] a-grisen of hem now, but I, desirous of heringe, axe gretely to[ ] heren the remedies.’
Than seyde she thus: ‘That felede I ful wel,’ quod she, ‘whan that thou, ententif and stille, ravisshedest my wordes; and I[ ]15 abood til that thou haddest swich habite of thy thought as thou hast now; or elles til that I my-self hadde maked to thee the same habit, which that is a more verray thing. And certes, the remenaunt of thinges that ben yit to seye ben swiche, that first20 whan men tasten hem they ben bytinge, but whan they ben receyved withinne a wight, than ben they swete. But for thou seyst that thou art so desirous to herkne hem, with how gret brenninge woldest thou glowen, yif thou wistest whider I wol leden thee!’
25‘Whider is that?’ quod I.
‘To thilke verray welefulnesse,’ quod she, ‘of whiche thyn herte dremeth; but for as moche as thy sighte is ocupied and distorbed by imaginacioun oferthelythinges, thou mayst nat yit seen thilke selve welefulnesse.’
30‘Do,’ quod I, ‘and shewe me what is thilke verray welefulnesse, I preye thee, with-oute taryinge .’
‘That wole I gladly don,’ quod she, ‘for the cause of thee;[ ] but I wol first marken thee by wordes and I wol enforcen me to[ ] enformen thee thilke false cause of blisfulnesse that thou more35 knowest; so that, whan thou hast fully bi-holden thilke false goodes, and torned thyn eyen to that other syde, thou mowe knowe the cleernesse of verray blisfulnesse.
Qui serere ingenuum uolet agrum.
Who-so wole sowe a feeld plentivous, lat him first delivere it fro thornes, and kerve asunder with his hook the busshes and the[ ] fern, so that the corn may comen hevy of eres and of greynes. Hony is the more swete, yif mouthes han first tasted savoures that[ ]5 ben wikkid . The sterres shynen more agreably whan the wind Nothus leteth his ploungy blastes; and after that Lucifer the[ ] day-sterre hath chased awey the derke night, the day the fairere ledeth the rosene hors of the sonne.And right so thou, biholdinge first the false goodes, bigin to with-drawen thy nekke[ ] fro the yok of erthely affecciouns; and after-ward the verray goodes10 shollen entren in-to thy corage.’
Tunc defixo paullulum uisu.
Tho fastnede she a litel the sighte of hir eyen, and with-drow hir right as it were in-to the streite sete of hir thought; and bigan[ ] to speke right thus: ‘Alle the cures,’ quod she, ‘of mortal folk,[ ] whiche that travaylen hem in many maner studies, goon certes by diverse weyes, but natheles they enforcen hem alle to comen only5 to oon ende of blisfulnesse. And blisfulnesse is swiche a good, that who-so that hath geten it, he ne may, over that, no-thing[ ] more desyre. And this thing is forsothe the sovereyn good that[ ] conteyneth in hi-self alle maner goodes; to the whiche good yif ther failede any thing, it mighte nat ben cleped sovereyn good:10 for thanne were ther som good, out of this ilke sovereyn good, that[ ] mighte ben desired. Now is it cleer and certein thanne, that blisfulnesse is a parfit estat by the congregacioun of alle goodes; the whiche blisfulnesse, as I have seyd, alle mortal folk enforcen hem to geten by diverse weyes. For-why the coveitise of verray15 good is naturelly y-plaunted in the hertes of men; but the miswandringe errour mis-ledeth hem in-to false goodes. Of the whiche men, som of hem wenen that sovereyn good be to liven with-oute nede of any thing, and travaylen hem to be haboundaunt of richesses. And som other men demen that sovereyn good be ,20 for to ben right digne of reverence; and enforcen hem to ben reverenced among hir neighbours by the honours that they han y-geten. And some folk ther ben that holden , that right heigh power be sovereyn good, and enforcen hem for to regnen, or elles to ioignen hem to hem that regnen. And it semeth to some other25 folk, that noblesse of renoun be the sovereyn good; and hasten hem to geten glorious name by the arts of werre and of pees. And many folk mesuren and gessen that sovereyn good be Ioye[ ] and gladnesse, and wenen that it be right blisful thing to ploungen30 hem in voluptuous delyt. And ther ben folk that entrechaungen the causes and the endes of thise forseyde goodes, as they that desiren richesses to han power and delytes; or elles they desiren power for to han moneye, or for cause of renoun. In thise thinges, and in swiche othre thinges, is torned alle the entencioun of[ ]35 desiringes and of werkes of men; as thus: noblesse and favour of people, whiche that yeveth to men , as it semeth hem , a maner cleernesse of renoun; and wyf and children, that men desiren for cause of delyt and of merinesse. But forsothe, frendes ne sholden[ ] nat be rekned a-mong the godes of fortune, but of vertu; for it is40 a ful holy maner thing. Alle thise othre thinges, forsothe, ben taken for cause of power or elles for cause of delyt.
Certes, now am I redy to referren the goodes of the body to thise forseide thinges aboven; for it semeth that strengthe and gretnesse of body yeven power and worthinesse, and that beautee45 and swiftnesse yeven noblesses and glorie of renoun; and hele of body semeth yeven delyt. In alle thise thinges it semeth only that blisfulnesse is desired. For-why thilke thing that every man desireth most over alle thinges, he demeth that it be the sovereyn good; but I have defyned that blisfulnesse is the sovereyn good;50 for which every wight demeth, that thilke estat that he desireth[ ] over alle thinges, that it be blisfulnesse.
Now hast thou thanne biforn thyn eyenalmest al the purposed forme of the welefulnesse of man-kinde, that is to seyn, richesses, honours, power, and glorie, and delyts. The whiche delyt only55 considerede Epicurus, and iuged and establisshed that delyt is[ ] the sovereyn good; for as moche as alle othre thinges, as him thoughte, bi-refte awey Ioye and mirthe fram the herte. But I[ ] retorne ayein to the studies of men, of whiche men the corage[ ] alwey reherseth and seketh the sovereyn good , al be it so that[ ]60 it be with a derked memorie; but he not by whiche path , right[ ] as a dronken man not nat by whiche path he may retorne him to his hous. Semeth it thanne that folk folyen and erren that enforcen hem to have nede of nothing? Certes, ther nis non other thing that may so wel performe blisfulnesse, as an estat plentivous of alle goodes, that ne hath nede of non other thing, but that is65 suffisaunt of himself unto him-self. And folyen swiche folk thanne, that wenen that thilke thing that is right good, that it be eek right[ ] worthy of honour and of reverence? Certes, nay. For that thing nis neither foul ne worthy to ben despised, that wel neighal the entencioun of mortal folk travaylen for to geten it. And power,70 oughte nat that eek to ben rekened amonges goodes? What elles? For it is nat to wene that thilke thing, that is most worthy of alle thinges, be feble and with-oute strengthe. And cleernesse of renoun, oughte that to ben despised? Certes, ther may no man forsake, that al thing that is right excellent and noble, that it ne[ ]75 semeth to ben right cleer and renomed. For certes, it nedeth nat to seye, that blisfulnesse be [nat]anguissous ne drery, ne subgit to[ ] grevaunces ne to sorwes, sin that in right litel thinges folk seken to have and to usen that may delyten hem. Certes, thise ben the thinges that men wolen and desiren to geten. And for this80 cause desiren they richesses , dignitees, regnes, glorie, and delices. For therby wenen they to han suffisaunce, honour, power, renoun, and gladnesse. Than is it good, that men seken thus by so many[ ] diverse studies. In whiche desyr it may lightly ben shewed how gret is the strengthe of nature; for how so that men han diverse85 sentences and discordinge, algates men acorden alle in lovinge the[ ] ende of good.
Quantas rerum flectat habenas.
It lyketh me to shewe, by subtil song, with slakke and delitable[ ] soun of strenges, how that Nature, mighty, enclineth and flitteth[ ]the governements of thinges, and by whiche lawes she, purveyable,[ ] kepeth the grete world; and how she, bindinge, restreyneth alle thinges by a bonde that may nat ben unbounde. Al be it so that5 the lyouns of the contre of Pene beren the faire chaynes, and[ ] taken metes of the handes of folk that yeven it hem, and dreden hir sturdy maystres of whiche they ben wont to suffren betinges :[ ] yif that hir horrible mouthes ben be-bled, that is to seyn, of bestes10devoured, hir corage of time passed, that hath ben ydel and rested, repeyreth ayein; and they roren grevously and remembren on hir nature, and slaken hir nekkes fram hir chaynes unbounde; and hir mayster, first to-torn with blody tooth, assayeth the wode[ ] wrathes of hem; this is to seyn, they freten hir mayster. And the15iangelinge brid that singeth on the heye braunches, that is to seyn,[ ] in the wode, and after is enclosed in a streyt cage: al-though that the pleyinge bisinesse of men yeveth hem honiede drinkes and[ ] large metes with swete studie, yit natheles, yif thilke brid, skippinge out of hir streyte cage, seeth the agreables shadewes of the[ ]20 wodes, she defouleth with hir feet hir metes y-shad, and seketh mourninge only the wode; and twitereth, desiringe the wode, with hir swete vois. The yerde of a tree, that is haled a-doun by mighty strengthe, boweth redily the crop a-doun: but yif that the hand of him that it bente lat it gon ayein, anon the crop loketh25 up-right to hevene. The sonne Phebus, that falleth at even in the westrene wawes, retorneth ayein eftsones his carte, by privee[ ] path, ther-as it is wont aryse. Alle thinges seken ayein to hir propre cours, and alle thinges reioysen hem of hir retorninge ayein to hir[ ] nature. Ne non ordinaunce nis bitaken to thinges, but that30 that hath ioyned the endinge to the beginninge, and hath maked the cours of it-self stable, that it chaungeth nat from his propre kinde.
Vos quoque, o terrena animalia.
Certes also ye men, that ben ertheliche beestes, dremen alwey[ ]youre beginninge , al-though it be with a thinne imaginacioun; and by a maner thoughte, al be it nat cleerly ne parfitly, ye loken fram a-fer to thilke verray fyn of blisfulnesse; and ther-fore naturel entencioun ledeth you to thilke verray good, but many maner5 errours mis-torneth you ther-fro. Consider now yif that by thilke thinges, by whiche a man weneth to geten him blisfulnesse, yif that he may comen to thilke ende that he weneth to come by nature. For yif that moneye or honours, or thise other forseyde thinges bringen to men swich a thing that no good ne fayle hem10 ne semeth fayle, certes than wole I graunte that they ben maked blisful by thilke thinges that they han geten. But yif so be that thilke thinges ne mowen nat performen that they bi-heten, and that ther be defaute of manye goodes, sheweth it nat thanne cleerly that fals beautee of blisfulnesse is knowen and ateint in[ ]15 thilke thinges? First and forward thou thy-self, that haddest habundaunces of richesses nat long agon, I axe yif that, in the[ ] habundaunce of alle thilke richesses, thou were never anguissous or sory in thy corage of any wrong or grevaunce that bi-tidde thee on any syde?’20
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘it ne remembreth me nat that evere I was so free of my thought that I ne was alwey in anguissh of somwhat.’
‘Right so is it,’ quod I.
‘Thanne desiredest thou the presence of that oon and the absence of that other?’
‘I graunte wel,’ quod I.30
‘Forsothe,’ quod she, ‘than nedeth ther som-what that every man desireth?’
‘Ye, ther nedeth,’ quod I.
‘No,’ quod I.[ ]
‘And thou,’ quod she, ‘in al the plentee of thy richesses haddest thilke lakke of suffisaunse?’
‘What elles?’ quod I.
‘Thanne may nat richesses maken that a man nis nedy, ne that[ ]40 he be suffisaunt to him-self; and that was it that they bi-highten, as it semeth. And eek certes I trowe, that this be gretly to considere, that moneye ne hath nat in his owne kinde that it ne may ben bi-nomen of hem that han it, maugre hem?’
45‘I bi-knowe it wel,’ quod I.
‘Why sholdest thou nat bi-knowen it,’ quod she, ‘whan every day the strenger folk bi-nemen it fro the febler , maugre hem? For whennes comen elles alle thise foreyne compleyntes or[ ] quereles of pletinges, but for that men axen ayein here moneye50 that hath ben bi-nomen hem by force or by gyle, and alwey maugre hem ?’
‘Right so is it,’ quod I.
‘Than,’ quod she, ‘hath a man nede to seken him foreyne helpe by whiche he may defende his moneye?’
55‘Who may sey nay?’ quod I.
‘Certes,’ quod she; ‘and him nedede non help, yif he ne hadde no moneye that he mighte lese?’
‘That is douteles,’ quod I.
‘Than is this thinge torned in-to the contrarye,’ quod she.60 ‘For richesses , that men wenen sholde make suffisaunce, they maken a man rather han nede of foreyne help! Which is the manere or the gyse,’ quod she, ‘that richesse may dryve awey nede? Riche folk, may they neither han hunger ne thurst ? Thise riche men, may they fele no cold on hir limes on winter?65 But thou wolt answeren, that riche men han y-now wher-with they may staunchen hir hunger, slaken hir thurst , and don a-wey cold. In this wyse may nede be counforted by richesses; but certes, nede ne may nat all outrely ben don a-wey. For though this nede,[ ] that is alwey gapinge and gredy, be fulfild with richesses, and axe[ ]70 any thing, yit dwelleth thanne a nede that mighte be fulfild . I holde me stille, and telle nat how that litel thing suffiseth to[ ] nature; but certes to avarice y-nough ne suffiseth no-thing. For sin that richesses ne may nat al don awey nede, but richesses maken nede, what may it thanne be, that ye wenen that richesses[ ]75 mowen yeven you suffisaunce?
Quamvis fluente diues auri gurgite.
Al were it so that a riche coveytous man hadde a river fletinge[ ] al of gold, yit sholde it never staunchen his coveitise ; and though[ ] he hadde his nekke y-charged with precious stones of the rede[ ] see, and though he do ere his feldes plentivous with an hundred oxen, never ne shal his bytinge bisinesse for-leten him whyl he5liveth , ne the lighte richesses ne sholle nat beren him companye whan he is ded.
But dignitees, to whom they ben comen, maken they him honorable and reverent? Han they nat so gret strengthe, that they may putte vertues in the hertes of folk that usen the lordshipes of hem? Or elles may they don a-wey the vyces? Certes, they[ ]ne be nat wont to don awey wikkednesse , but they ben wont5 rather to shewen wikkednesse. And ther-of comth it that I have right grete desdeyn , that dignitees ben yeven ofte to wikked men; for which thing Catullus cleped a consul of Rome, that highteNonius , “postum ” or “boch”; as who seyth, he cleped him a congregacioun of vyces in his brest, as a postum is ful of corupcioun,10 al were this Nonius set in a chayre of dignitee. Seest thou nat thanne how gret vilenye dignitees don to wikked men? Certes, unworthinesse of wikked men sholde be the lasse y-sene, yif they nere renomed of none honours. Certes, thou thyself ne mightest[ ] nat ben brought with as manye perils as thou mightest suffren15 that thou woldest beren themagistrat with Decorat; that is to[ ] seyn, that for no peril that mighte befallen theeby offenceof the kingTheodorike, thou noldest nat be felawe in governaunce with Decorat; whan thou saye that he hadde wikked corage of a likerous shrewe20 and of an accusor. Ne I ne may nat, for swiche honours, iugen hem worthy of reverence, that I deme and holde unworthy to han thilke same honours. Now yif thou saye a man that were fulfild of wisdom, certes, thou ne mightest nat deme that he were unworthy to the honour, or elles to the wisdom of which he is25 fulfild?’—‘No,’ quod I.—‘Certes, dignitees,’ quod she , ‘apertienen proprely to vertu; and vertu transporteth dignitee anon to thilke man to which she hir-self is conioigned. And for as moche as honours of poeple ne may nat maken folk digne of honour, it is wel seyn cleerly that they ne han no propre beautee of dignitee.
30-5. A. For if it so be that he that is most outcast that most folk dispisen. or as dignite ne may nat maken shrewes worthi of no reuerences. than maketh dignites shrewes more dispised than preised. the whiche shrewes dignit (sic) scheweth to moche folk. and forsothe not vnpunissed; Ed. for if a wight be in so muche the more outcast, that he is dispysed of moste folke, so as dignyte ne may not maken shrewes worthy of no reuerence, than maketh dignite shrewes rather dispysed than praysed, the whiche shrewes dignite sheweth to moche folk. And forsothe not vnpunisshed.
30And yit men oughten taken more heed in this. For yif it so be that a wikked wight be so mochel the foulere and the more outcast, that he is despysed of most folk, so as dignitee ne may nat[ ] maken shrewes digne of reverence, the which shrewes dignitee sheweth to moche folk, thanne maketh dignitee shrewes rather so35 moche more despysed than preysed; and forsothe nat unpunished:[ ]that is for to seyn, that shrewes revengen hem ayeinward up-on dignitees; for they yilden ayein to dignitees as gret guerdoun , whan they bi-spotten and defoulen dignitees with hir vilenye. And for as mochel as thou mowe knowe that thilke40 verray reverence ne may nat comen by thise shadewy transitorie[ ] dignitees, undirstond now thus : yif that a man hadde used and had many maner dignitees of consules, and were comen peraventure[ ] amonge straunge naciouns, sholde thilke honour maken him worshipful and redouted of straunge folk? Certes, yif that45 honour of poeple were a naturel yift to dignitees, it ne mighte never cesen nowher amonges no maner folk to don his office,[ ] right as fyr in every contree ne stinteth nat to eschaufen and to ben hoot. But for as moche as for to ben holden honourable or reverent ne cometh nat to folk of hir propre strengthe of nature, but only of the false opinioun of folk, that is to seyn,that wenen[ ]50that dignitees maken folk digne of honour; anon therfore whan that they comen ther-as folk ne knowen nat thilke dignitees, hir honours vanisshen awey, and that anon. But that is amonges straunge folk, mayst thou seyn; but amonges hem ther they weren born, ne duren nat thilke dignitees alwey? Certes, the55 dignitee of the provostrie of Rome was whylom a gret power;[ ] now is it nothing but an ydel name, and the rente of the senatorie[ ] a gret charge. And yif a wight whylom hadde the office to taken[ ] hede to the vitailes of the people, as of corn and other thinges, he was holden amonges grete; but what thing is now more out-cast60 thanne thilke provostrie? And, as I have seyd a litel her-biforn, that thilke thing that hath no propre beautee of him-self receiveth som-tyme prys and shyninge, and som-tyme leseth it by the opinioun of usaunces. Now yif that dignitees thanne ne mowen[ ] nat maken folk digne of reverence, and yif that dignitees[ ] wexen65 foule of hir wille by the filthe of shrewes, and yif that dignitees lesen hir shyninge by chaunginge of tymes, and yif they wexen foule by estimacioun of poeple: what is it that they han in hemself[ ] of beautee that oughte ben desired? as who seyth, non; thanne ne mowen they yeven no beautee of dignitee to non other.70
Quamvis se, Tyrio superbus ostro.
Al be it so that the proude Nero, with alle his wode luxurie,[ ]kembde him and aparailede him with faire purpres of Tirie,[ ] and with whyte perles, algates yit throf he hateful to alle folk:[ ]this is to seyn, that al was he behated of alle folk. Yit this wikked Nero hadde gretlordship , and yaf whylom to the5reverents senatours the unworshipful[ ] setes of dignitees. Unworshipful setes he clepeth here, for that Nero, that was so wikked, yafthodignitees. Who-so wolde thanne resonably wenen, that blisfulnesse10 were in swiche honours as ben yeven by vicious shrewes?
An vero regna regumque familiaritas.
But regnes and familiaritees of kinges, may they maken a[ ] man to ben mighty? How elles, whan hir blisfulnesse dureth[ ]perpetuely ? But certes, the olde age of tyme passed, and eek of present tyme now, is ful of ensaumples how that kinges ben[ ][ ]5 chaunged in-to wrecchednesse out of hir welefulnesse. O! a noble thing and a cleer thing is power, that is nat founden mighty to kepen it-self! And yif that power of reaumes be auctour and maker of blisfulnesse, yif thilke power lakketh on any syde, amenuseth it nat thilke blisfulnesse and bringeth in10 wrecchednesse? But yit, al be it so that the reaumes of mankinde strecchen brode, yit mot ther nede ben moche folk, over whiche that every king ne hath no lordshipe ne comaundement. And certes, up-on thilke syde that power faileth, which that[ ] maketh folk blisful, right on that same syde noun-power entreth[ ]15 under-nethe, that maketh hem wrecches; in this manere thanne moten kinges han more porcioun of wrecchednesse than of welefulnesse. A tyraunt, that was king of Sisile, that hadde[ ] assayed the peril of his estat, shewede by similitude the dredes of reaumes by gastnesse of a swerd that heng over the heved20of hisfamilier . What thing is thanne this power, that may nat don awey the bytinges of bisinesse, ne eschewe the prikkes of drede? And certes, yit wolden they liven in sikernesse, but they may nat; and yit they glorifye hem in hir power. Holdest thou thanne that thilke man be mighty, that thou seest that25 he wolde don that he may nat don? And holdest thou thanne him a mighty man, that hath envirownede his sydes with men of armes or seriaunts , and dredeth more hem that he maketh[ ] agast than they dreden him, and that is put in the handes of his servaunts for he sholde seme mighty? But of familieres or servaunts of kinges what sholde I telle thee anything, sin[ ]30 that I myself have shewed thee that reaumes hem-self ben ful of gret feblesse ? The whiche familieres, certes, the ryal power of kinges, in hool estat and in estat abated, ful ofte[ ] throweth adown. Nero constreynede Senek, his familier and[ ] his mayster, to chesen on what deeth he wolde deyen. Antonius[ ]35 comaundede that knightes slowen with hir swerdes Papinian hisfamilier , which Papinian hadde ben longe tyme ful mighty amonges hem of the court. And yit, certes, they wolden bothe han renounced hir power; of whiche two Senek enforcede him[ ] to yeven to Nero his richesses, and also to han gon in-to40solitarie exil. But whan the grete weighte, that is to seyn, of[ ][ ]lordes power or of fortune, draweth hem that shullen falle, neither of hem ne mighte do that he wolde. What thing is thanne thilke power, that though men han it, yit they ben agast; and whanne thou woldest han it, thou nart nat siker; and45 yif thou woldest forleten it, thou mayst nat eschuen it? But whether swiche men ben frendes at nede, as ben conseyled by fortune and nat by vertu? Certes, swiche folk as weleful[ ] fortune maketh freendes, contrarious fortune maketh hem enemys. And what pestilence is more mighty for to anoye a[ ]50 wight than a familier enemy?
Qui se uolet esse potentem.
Who-so wol be mighty, he mot daunten his cruel corage,[ ] ne putte nat his nekke, overcomen, under the foule reynes of lecherye. For al-be-it so that thy lordshipe strecche so fer,[ ]that the contree of Inde quaketh at thy comaundements or at thy lawes, and that the lastile in the see, that hight Tyle,5 be thral to thee, yit, yif thou mayst nat putten awey thy foule derke desyrs, and dryven out fro thee wrecched complaintes,8 certes, it nis no power that thou hast.
Gloria uero quam fallax saepe.
But glorie, how deceivable and how foul is it ofte! For which thing nat unskilfully a tragedien, that is to seyn, a maker of ditees that highten tragedies, cryde and seide: “O glorie,[ ][ ] glorie,” quod he , “thou art nothing elles to thousandes of folkes5 but a greet sweller of eres!” For manye han had ful greet renoun by the false opinioun of the poeple , and what thing may ben thought fouler than swiche preysinge? For thilke folk that ben preysed falsly, they moten nedes han shame of hir preysinges. And yif that folk han geten hem thonk or preysinge10 by hir desertes, what thing hath thilke prys eched or encresed to the conscience of wyse folk, that mesuren hir good, nat by the rumour of the poeple, but by the soothfastnesse of conscience? And yif it seme a fair thing, a man to han encresed and spred his name, than folweth it that it is demed15 to ben a foul thing, yif it ne be y-sprad and encresed . But, as I seyde a litel her-biforn that, sin ther mot nedes ben many folk, to whiche folk the renoun of a man ne may nat comen, it befalleth that he, that thou wenest be glorious and renomed, semeth in the nexte partie of the erthes to ben with-oute glorie20 and with-oute renoun.
And certes, amonges thise thinges I ne trowe nat that the prys and grace of the poeple nis neither worthy to ben remembred , ne cometh of wyse Iugement, ne is ferme perdurably. But now, of this name of gentilesse , what man is it[ ]25 that ne may wel seen how veyn and how flittinge a thing it is? For yif the name of gentilesse be referred to renoun and cleernesse of linage, thanne is gentil name but a foreine thing, that is to seyn, to hem that glorifyen hem of hir linage. For it semeth that gentilesse be a maner preysinge that comth of the deserte of ancestres. And yif preysinge maketh gentilesse,30 thanne moten they nedes be gentil that ben preysed. For which thing it folweth , that yif thou ne have no gentilesse of thy-self, that is to seyn, preyse that comth of thy deserte, foreine gentilesse ne maketh thee nat gentil. But certes, yif ther be any good in gentilesse, I trowe it be al-only this, that it semeth35 as that a maner necessitee be imposed to gentil men, for that they ne sholden nat outrayen or forliven fro the virtues of hir noble kinrede.
Omne hominum genus in terris.
Al the linage of men that ben in erthe ben of semblable birthe. On allone is fader of thinges. On allone ministreth alle thinges. He yaf to the sonne hise bemes; he yaf to the mone hir hornes . He yaf the men to the erthe; he yaf the sterres to the hevene. He encloseth with membres the soules5 that comen fro his hye sete. Thanne comen alle mortal folk of noble sede; why noisen ye or bosten of youre eldres? For yif thou lokeyour biginninge, and god your auctor and your[ ] maker, thanne nis ther no forlived wight, but-yif he norisshe[ ] his corage un-to vyces, and forlete his propre burthe.10
Quid autem de corporis uoluptatibus.
But what shal I seye of delices of body, of whiche delices the[ ] desiringes ben ful of anguissh, and the fulfillinges of hem ben ful of penaunce? How greet syknesse and how grete sorwes unsufferable, right as a maner fruit of wikkednesse, ben thilke delices wont to bringen to the bodies of folk that usen hem! Of whiche5 delices I not what Ioye may ben had of hir moevinge. But this wot I wel, that who-so-ever wole remembren him of hise luxures, he shal wel understonde that the issues of delices ben sorwful and sorye. And yif thilke delices mowen maken folk blisful,10 than by the same cause moten thise bestes ben cleped blisful; of whiche bestes al the entencioun hasteth to fulfille hir bodily Iolitee. And the gladnesse of wyf and children were an honest[ ] thing, but it hath ben seyd that it is over muchel ayeins kinde, that children han ben founden tormentours to hir fadres, I not[ ]15 how manye: of whiche children how bytinge is every condicioun,[ ] it nedeth nat to tellen it thee, that hast or this tyme assayed[ ] it, and art yit now anguissous. In this approve I the sentence of my disciple Euripidis , that seyde, that “he that hath no[ ] children is weleful by infortune.”
Habet omnis hoc uoluptas.
Every delyt hath this, that it anguissheth hem with prikkes that usen it. It resembleth to thise flyinge flyes that we clepen been, that, after thathe hath shad hise agreable honies, he fleeth[ ] awey, and stingeth the hertes, of hem that ben y-smite, with5 bytinge overlonge holdinge.
Nihil igitur dubium est.
Now is it no doute thanne that thise weyes ne ben a maner[ ] misledinges to blisfulnesse, ne that they ne mowe nat leden folk thider as they biheten to leden hem. But with how grete harmes thise forseyde weyes ben enlaced, I shal shewe thee5 shortly. For-why yif thou enforcest thee to asemble moneye, thou most bireven him his moneye that hath it. And yif thou wolt shynen with dignitees, thou most bisechen and supplien hem that yeven tho dignitees. And yif thou coveitest[ ] by honour to gon biforn other folk, thou shalt defoule thy-self10thorugh humblesse of axinge. Yif thou desirest power, thou shalt by awaytes of thy subgits anoyously ben cast under manye[ ] periles. Axest thou glorie? Thou shalt ben so destrat by aspre[ ] thinges that thou shalt forgoon sikernesse. And yif thou wolt leden thy lyf in delices, every wight shal despisen thee and forleten thee, as thou that art thral to thing that is right foul15 and brotel ; that is to seyn, servaunt to thy body. Now is it[ ] thanne wel seen, how litel and how brotel possessioun they coveiten, that putten the goodes of the body aboven hir owne resoun. For mayst thou sormounten thise olifaunts in gretnesse or weight of body? Or mayst thou ben stronger than the bole?20 Mayst thou ben swifter than the tygre? Bihold the spaces and the stablenesse and the swifte cours of the hevene, and stint som-tyme to wondren on foule thinges; the which hevene, certes, nis nat rather for thise thinges to ben wondred up-on, than for the resoun by which it is governed. But the shyning of thy25 forme, that is to seyn, the beautee of thy body, how swiftly passinge is it, and how transitorie; certes, it is more flittinge than the mutabilitee of flowers of the somer-sesoun. For so Aristotle[ ] telleth, that yif that men hadden eyen of a beest that highte lynx, so that the lokinge of folk mighte percen thorugh the30 thinges that with-stonden it, who-so loked thanne in the entrailes of the body of Alcibiades, that was ful fayr in the superfice with-oute, it shold seme right foul. And forthy, yif thou semest fayr, thy nature maketh nat that, but the desceivaunce of the feblesse of the eyen that loken. But preyse the goodes of the35 body as mochel as ever thee list; so that thou knowe algates that, what-so it be, that is to seyn, ofthe goodes of thybody, which that thou wondrest up-on, may ben destroyed or dissolved by the hete of a fevere of three dayes. Of alle whiche forseyde thinges I may reducen this shortly in a somme , that thise worldly40 goodes, whiche that ne mowen nat yeven that they biheten, ne ben nat parfit by the congregacioun of alle goodes; that they ne ben nat weyes ne pathes that bringen men to blisfulnesse, ne maken men to ben blisful.
Eheu! quae miseros tramite deuios.
Allas! which folye and which ignoraunce misledeth wandringe wrecches fro the path of verray goode!
Certes, ye ne seken no gold in grene trees, ne ye ne gaderen nat precious stones in the vynes, ne ye ne hyden nat your5 ginnes in the hye mountaignes to cacchen fish of whiche ye[ ] may maken riche festes. And yif yow lyketh to hunte to roes , ye ne gon nat to the fordes of the water that highte Tyrene.[ ] And over this, men knowen wel the crykes and the cavernes of the see y-hid in the flodes, and knowen eek which water10 is most plentivous of whyte perles, and knowen which water haboundeth most of rede purpre, that is to seyn, of a maner shelle-fish with which men dyen purpre; and knowen which strondes habounden most with tendre fisshes, or of sharpe fisshes that highten echines . But folk suffren hem-self to ben so blinde,[ ]15 that hem ne reccheth nat to knowe where thilke goodes ben y-hid whiche that they coveiten, but ploungen hem in erthe and seken there thilke good that sormounteth the hevene that bereth the sterres. What preyere may I maken that be digne to the nyce thoughtes of men? But I preye that they coveiten20 richesse and honours, so that, whan they han geten tho false goodes with greet travaile, that ther-by they mowe knowen the verray goodes.
Hactenus mendacis formam.
It suffyseth that I have shewed hider-to the forme of false welefulnesse, so that, yif thou loke now cleerly, the order of myn entencioun requireth from hennes-forth to shewen thee the verray welefulnesse.’
‘Certes, me semeth,’ quod I, ‘that I see hem right as though[ ] it were thorugh a litel clifte; but me were levere knowen hem10 more openly of thee.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘the resoun is al redy. For thilke thing that simply is o thing, with-outen any devisioun, the errour and folye of mankinde departeth and devydeth it, and misledeth[ ] it and transporteth from verray and parfit good to goodes that15 ben false and unparfit . But sey me this. Wenest thou that[ ] he, that hath nede of power, that him ne lakketh no-thing?’
‘Nay,’ quod I.
‘Right so is it,’ quod I.
‘Suffisaunce and power ben thanne of o kinde?’
‘So semeth it,’ quod I.
‘And demest thou ,’ quod she, ‘that a thing that is of this25 manere, that is to seyn, suffisaunt and mighty, oughte ben despysed, or elles that it be right digne of reverence aboven alle thinges?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘it nis no doute, that it is right worthy to ben reverenced.’30
‘Lat us,’ quod she, ‘adden thanne reverence to suffisaunce and to power, so that we demen that thise three thinges ben al o thing.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘lat us adden it, yif we wolen graunten the sothe.’35
‘What demest thou thanne?’ quod she; ‘is that a derk thing and nat noble, that is suffisaunt, reverent, and mighty, or elles that it is right noble and right cleer by celebritee of renoun? Consider[ ] thanne,’ quod she, ‘as we han graunted her-biforn, that he that 40 ne hath nede of no-thing, and is most mighty and most digne of honour, yif him nedeth any cleernesse of renoun, which cleernesse he mighte nat graunten of him-self, so that, for lakke of thilke cleernesse, he mighte seme the febeler on any syde or the more out-cast?’ Glose. This is to seyn, nay; for who-so45that is suffisaunt, mighty, and reverent, cleernesse of renoun floweth of the forseyde thinges; he hath it al redy of his suffisaunce.
Boece. ‘I may nat,’ quod I, ‘denye it; but I mot graunte as it is, that this thing be right celebrable by cleernesse of renoun and noblesse.’
50‘Thanne folweth it,’ quod she, ‘that we adden cleernesse of renoun to the three forseyde thinges, so that ther ne be amonges hem no difference?’
‘But whennes ,’ quod I, ‘that any sorwe mighte comen to this thing that is swiche, certes, I may nat thinke.’
60‘Thanne moten we graunte,’ quod she, ‘that this thing be ful of gladnesse, yif the forseyde thinges ben sothe; and certes, also mote we graunten that suffisaunce, power, noblesse, reverence, and gladnesse ben only dyverse by names, but hir substaunce hath no diversitee.’
65‘It mot needly been so,’ quod I.
‘Thilke thing thanne,’ quod she, ‘that is oon and simple in his nature, the wikkednesse of men departeth it and devydeth it; and whan they enforcen hem to geten partye of a thing that ne hath no part, they ne geten hem neither thilke partye that[ ]70 nis non, ne the thing al hool that they ne desire nat.’
‘In which manere?’ quod I.
‘Thilke man,’ quod she, ‘that secheth richesses to fleen povertee, he ne travaileth him nat for to gete power; for he hath levere ben derk and vyl; and eek withdraweth from75 him-self many naturel delyts , for he nolde lese the moneye that he hath assembled. But certes, in this manere he ne geteth him nat suffisaunce that power forleteth, and that molestie[ ] prikketh, and that filthe maketh out-cast, and that derkenesse hydeth. And certes, he that desireth only power, he wasteth and scatereth richesse, and despyseth delyts , and eek honour80 that is with-oute power, ne he ne preyseth glorie no-thing. Certes, thus seest thou wel, that manye thinges faylen to him; for he hath som-tyme defaute of many necessitees, and many anguisshes byten him; and whan he ne may nat don tho defautes a-wey, he forleteth to ben mighty, and that is the thing that85 he most desireth. And right thus may I maken semblable resouns of honours, and of glorie, and of delyts. For so as every of thise forseyde thinges is the same that thise other thinges ben, that is to seyn, al oon thing, who-so that ever seketh to geten that oon of thise, and nat that other , he ne90 geteth nat that he desireth.’
Boece. ‘What seyst thou thanne, yif that a man coveiteth to geten alle thise thinges to-gider?’
Philosophie. ‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘I wolde seye, that he wolde geten him sovereyn blisfulnesse; but that shal he nat finde in[ ]95 tho thinges that I have shewed, that ne mowen nat yeven that they beheten.’
‘Certes, no,’ quod I.
‘Thanne,’ quod she, ‘ne sholden men nat by no wey seken blisfulnesse in swiche thinges as men wene that they ne mowen100 yeven but o thing senglely of alle that men seken.’
‘I graunte wel,’ quod I; ‘ne no sother thing ne may ben sayd.’
‘Now hast thou thanne,’ quod she, ‘the forme and the causes of false welefulnesse. Now torne and flitte the eyen of thy105 thought; for ther shalt thou sen anon thilke verray blisfulnesse that I have bihight thee.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘it is cleer and open, thogh it were to a blinde man; and that shewedest thou me ful wel a litel herbiforn, whan thou enforcedest thee to shewe me the causes110 of the false blisfulnesse. For but-yif I be bigyled, thanne is thilke the verray blisfulnesse parfit, that parfitly maketh a man suffisaunt, mighty, honourable, noble, and ful of gladnesse. And, for thou shalt wel knowe that I have wel understonden115 thise thinges with-in my herte, I knowe wel that thilke blisfulnesse, that may verrayly yeven oon of the forseyde thinges, sin they ben al oon, I knowe, douteles, that thilke thing is the fulle blisfulnesse.’
‘What is that?’ quod I.
‘Trowest thou that ther be any thing in thise erthely mortal toumbling thinges that may bringen this estat?’
125‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘I trowe it naught; and thou hast shewed me wel that over thilke good ther nis no-thing more to ben desired.’
‘Thise thinges thanne,’ quod she, ‘that is to sey, erthely suffisaunce and power and swiche thinges, either they semen130lykenesses of verray good, or elles it semeth that they yeve to mortal folk a maner of goodes that ne ben nat parfit; but thilke good that is verray and parfit, that may they nat yeven.’
‘I acorde me wel,’ quod I.
‘Thanne,’ quod she, ‘for as mochel as thou hast knowen135 which is thilke verray blisfulnesse, and eek whiche thilke thinges ben that lyen falsly blisfulnesse, that is to seyn, that by deceite[ ] semen verray goodes, now behoveth thee to knowe whennes and where thou mowe seke thilke verray blisfulnesse.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘that desire I greetly, and have abiden longe140 tyme to herknen it.’
‘But for as moche,’ quod she, ‘as it lyketh to my disciple Plato, in his book of “in Timeo ,” that in right litel thinges men[ ] sholden bisechen the help of god, what iugest thou that be now to done, so that we may deserve to finde the sete of thilke145 verray good?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘I deme that we shollen clepen the fader of alle goodes; for with-outen him nis ther no-thing founden a-right.’
‘Thou seyst a-right,’ quod she; and bigan anon to singen right thus:—150
O qui perpetua mundum ratione gubernas.
‘O thou fader, creator of hevene and of erthes, that governest this world by perdurable resoun, that comaundest the tymes to gonfrom sin that age hadde beginninge; thou that dwellest[ ] thy-self ay stedefast and stable, and yevest alle othre thinges to ben moeved; ne foreine causes necesseden thee never to[ ]5 compoune werk of floteringe matere, but only the forme of[ ] soverein good y-set with-in thee with-oute envye, that moevede thee freely. Thou that art alder-fayrest, beringe the faire world[ ] in thy thought, formedest this world to the lyknesse semblable of that faire world in thy thought. Thou drawest al thing of10 thy soverein ensaumpler, and comaundest that this world, parfitliche y-maked, have freely and absolut his parfit parties. Thou bindest the elements by noumbres proporcionables , that[ ] the colde thinges mowen acorden with the hote thinges, and[ ] the drye thinges with the moiste thinges; that the fyr, that15 is purest, ne flee nat over hye, ne that the hevinesse ne drawe nat adoun over-lowe the erthes that ben plounged in the wateres. Thou knittest to-gider the mene sowle of treble kinde, moevinge[ ] alle thinges, and devydest it by membres acordinge; and whan it is thus devyded, it hath asembled a moevinge in-to two20 roundes; it goth to torne ayein to him-self, and envirouneth a ful deep thought, and torneth the hevene by semblable image. Thou by evene-lyke causes enhansest the sowles and the lasse lyves, and, ablinge hem heye by lighte cartes, thou sowest hem[ ] in-to hevene and in-to erthe; and whan they ben converted to25 thee by thy benigne lawe, thou makest hem retorne ayein to thee by ayein-ledinge fyr.
O fader, yive thou to the thought to styen up in-to thy streite sete, and graunte him to enviroune the welle of good; and, the30 lighte y-founde, graunte him to fichen the clere sightes of his corage in thee. And scater thou and to-breke thou the weightes and the cloudes of erthely hevinesse, and shyne thou by thy brightnesse. For thou art cleernesse; thou art peysible reste to debonaire folk; thou thy-self art biginninge, berer, leder, path ,[ ]35 and terme; to loke on thee, that is our ende.
Quoniam igitur quae sit imperfecti.
For as moche thanne as thou hast seyn, which is the forme of good that nis nat parfit, and which is the forme of good that is parfit, now trowe I that it were good to shewe in what this perfeccioun of blisfulnesse is set. And in this thing, I trowe5 that we sholden first enquere for to witen, yif that any swiche maner good as thilke good that thou has diffinisshed a litel[ ] heer-biforn, that is to seyn, soverein good, may ben founde in the nature of thinges; for that veyn imaginacioun of thought ne[ ] deceyve us nat, and putte us out of the sothfastnesse of thilke10 thing that is summitted unto us . But it may nat ben deneyed that thilke good ne is, and that it nis right as welle of alle[ ] goodes. For al thing that is cleped inparfit is proeved inparfit[ ] by the amenusinge of perfeccioun or of thing that is parfit. And ther-of comth it, that in every thing general, yif that men[ ]15 sen any-thing that is inparfit, certes, in thilke general ther mot ben som-thing that is parfit; for yif so be that perfeccioun is don awey, men may nat thinke ne seye fro whennes thilke thing is that is cleped inparfit. For the nature of thinges ne took nat hir beginninge of thinges amenused and inparfit, but it procedeth of thinges that ben al hoole and absolut , and20descendeth so doun in-to outterest thinges, and in-to thinges[ ] empty and with-outen frut. But, as I have y-shewed a litel her-biforn, that yif ther be a blisfulnesse that be freele and veyn and inparfit, ther may no man doute that ther nis som blisfulnesse that is sad, stedefast, and parfit.’25
Boece. ‘This is concluded,’ quod I, ‘fermely and sothfastly.’
Philosophie. ‘But considere also,’ quod she, ‘in wham this blisfulnesse enhabiteth. The comune acordaunce and conceite of the corages of men proeveth and graunteth, that god, prince of alle thinges, is good. For, so as nothing ne may ben thought30 bettre than god, it may nat ben douted thanne that he, that[ ] nothing nis bettre , that he nis good. Certes, resoun sheweth[ ] that god is so good, that it proveth by verray force that parfit good is in him. For yif god ne is swich, he ne may nat ben prince of alle thinges; for certes som-thing possessing in it-self35 parfit good, sholde ben more worthy than god, and it sholde semen that thilke thing were first, and elder than god. For we han shewed apertly that alle thinges that ben parfit ben first or thinges that ben unparfit ; and for-thy, for as moche as[ ]that my resoun or my proces ne go nat a-wey with-oute an40 ende, we owen to graunten that the soverein god is right ful of soverein parfit good. And we han establisshed that the soverein good is verray blisfulnesse: thanne mot it nedes be, that verray blisfulnesse is set in soverein god.’
‘This take I wel,’ quod I, ‘ne this ne may nat ben withseid45 in no manere.’
‘But I preye,’ quod she, ‘see now how thou mayst proeven, holily and with-oute corupcioun, this that I have seyd, that the soverein god is right ful of soverein good.’
‘Wenest thou aught ,’ quod she, ‘that this prince of alle[ ] thinges have y-take thilke soverein good any-wher out of himself, of which soverein good men proveth that he is ful, right as thou mightest thinken that god, that hath blisfulnesse in 55 him-self, and thilke blisfulnesse that is in him, weren dyvers in substaunce? For yif thou wene that god have received thilke good out of him-self, thou mayst wene that he that yaf thilke good to god be more worthy than is god. But I am bi-knowen and confesse, and that right dignely, that god is right worthy60 aboven alle thinges; and, yif so be that this good be in him by nature, but that it is dyvers fro him by weninge resoun, sin we speke of god prince of alle thinges: feigne who-so[ ] feigne may, who was he that hath conioigned thise dyverse thinges to-gider? And eek, at the laste, see wel that a thing65 that is dyvers from any thing, that thilke thing nis nat that same thing fro which it is understonden to ben dyvers. Thanne folweth it, that thilke thing that by his nature is dyvers fro soverein good, that that thing nis nat soverein good; but certes, that were a felonous corsednesse to thinken that of him that70 nothing nis more worth. For alwey, of alle thinges, the nature of hem ne may nat ben bettre than his biginning; for which I may concluden, by right verray resoun, that thilke that is biginning of alle thinges, thilke same thing is soverein good in his substaunce.’
75Boece. ‘Thou hast seyd rightfully,’ quod I.
Philosophie. ‘But we han graunted,’ quod she, ‘that the soverein good is blisfulnesse.’
‘And that is sooth,’ quod I.
‘Thanne,’ quod she, ‘moten we nedes graunten and confessen80 that thilke same soverein good be god.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘I ne may nat denye ne withstonde the resouns purposed; and I see wel that it folweth by strengthe of the premisses.’
‘Loke now,’ quod she, ‘yif this be proved yit more fermely85 thus: that ther ne mowen nat ben two soverein goodes that ben dyverse amonge hem-self. For certes, the goodes that ben dyverse amonges hem-self , that oon nis nat that that other is; thanne ne[may] neither of hem ben parfit, so as either of[ ] hem lakketh to other. But that that nis nat parfit, men may seen apertly that it nis nat soverein. The thinges, thanne, that90 ben sovereinly goode, ne mowen by no wey ben dyverse. But I have wel concluded that blisfulnesse and god ben the soverein good; for whiche it mot nedes ben, that soverein blisfulnesse is soverein divinitee.’
‘Nothing,’ quod I, ‘nis more soothfast than this, ne more95 ferme by resoun; ne a more worthy thing than god may nat ben concluded.’
‘Up-on thise thinges thanne,’ quod she, ‘right as thise geometriens,[ ] whan they han shewed hir proposiciouns, ben wont to bringen in thinges that they clepen porismes, or declaraciouns[ ]100of forseide thinges, right so wole I yeve thee heer as a corollarie,[ ]or a mede of coroune. For-why, for as moche as by the getinge of blisfulnesse men ben maked blisful, and blisfulnesse is divinitee: thanne is it manifest and open, that by the getinge of divinitee men ben maked blisful. Right as by the getinge105 of Iustice [they ben maked iust ], and by the getinge of sapience[ ] they ben maked wyse: right so, nedes, by the semblable resoun, whan they han geten divinitee, they ben maked goddes. Thanne is every blisful man god; but certes, by nature, ther nis but o god; but, by the participacioun of divinitee, ther ne let ne110 desturbeth nothing that ther ne ben manye goddes.’
‘This is,’ quod I, ‘a fair thing and a precious, clepe it as thou wolt; be it porisme or corollarie,’ or mede of coroune or declaringes.
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘nothing nis fayrer than is the thing that115 by resoun sholde ben added to thise forseide thinges.’
‘What thing?’ quod I.
‘So,’ quod she, ‘as it semeth that blisfulnesse conteneth many thinges, it were for to witenwhether that alle thise thinges maken or conioignen as a maner body of blisfulnesse, by dyversitee of120 parties or of membres; or elles, yif that any of alle thilke thinges be swich that it acomplisshe by him-self the substaunce of blisfulnesse, so that alle thise othre thinges ben referred and brought to blisfulnesse,’ that is to seyn, as to the cheef of hem.
‘I wolde,’ quod I, ‘that thou makedest me cleerly to understonde125 what thou seyst, and that thou recordedest me the forseyde thinges.’
‘Have I nat iuged,’ quod she, ‘that blisfulnesse is good?’
‘Yis, forsothe,’ quod I; ‘and that soverein good.’
130‘Adde thanne,’ quod she, ‘thilke good, that is maked blisfulnesse, to alle the forseide thinges; for thilke same blisfulnesse that is demed to ben soverein suffisaunce, thilke selve is soverein power, soverein reverence, soverein cleernesse or noblesse, and soverein delyt. Conclusio. What seyst thou thanne of alle thise135 thinges, that is to seyn, suffisaunce, power, and this othre thinges; ben they thanne as membres of blisfulnesse, or ben they referred and brought to soverein good, right as alle thinges that ben brought to the chief of hem?’
‘I understonde wel;’ quod I, ‘what thou purposest to seke;140 but I desire for to herkne that thou shewe it me.’
‘Tak now thus the discrecioun of this questioun,’ quod she. ‘Yif alle thise thinges,’ quod she, ‘weren membres to felicitee, than weren they dyverse that oon from that other; and swich is the nature of parties or of membres, that dyverse membres compounen145 a body.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘it hath wel ben shewed heer-biforn, that alle thise thinges ben alle o thing.’
‘Thanne ben they none membres,’ quod she; ‘for elles it sholde seme that blisfulnesse were conioigned al of on membre150 allone; but that is a thing that may nat be don.’
‘This thing,’ quod I, ‘nis nat doutous; but I abyde to herknen the remnaunt of thy questioun.’
‘This is open and cleer,’ quod she, ‘that alle othre thinges ben referred and brought to good. For therefore is suffisaunce requered,155 for it is demed to ben good; and forthy is power requered, for men trowen also that it be good; and this same thing mowen we thinken and coniecten of reverence, and of noblesse, and of delyt. Thanne is soverein good the somme and the cause of al that aughte ben desired; for-why thilke thing that with-holdeth160 no good in it-self, ne semblaunce of good, it ne may nat wel in no manere be desired ne requered . And the contrarie: for thogh that thinges by hir nature ne ben nat goode, algates, yif men wene that ben goode, yit ben they desired as though that they weren verrayliche goode. And therfor is it that men oughten to wene by right, that bountee be the soverein fyn, and the cause[ ]165 of alle the thinges that ben to requeren. But certes, thilke that is cause for which men requeren any thing, it semeth that thilke same thing be most desired. As thus: yif that a wight wolde ryden for cause of hele, he ne desireth nat so mochel the moevinge to ryden, as the effect of his hele. Now thanne, sin that170 alle thinges ben requered for the grace of good, they ne ben nat desired of alle folk more thanne the same good. But we han graunted that blisfulnesse is that thing, for whiche that alle thise othre thinges ben desired; thanne is it thus: that, certes, only blisfulnesse is requered and desired. By whiche thing it sheweth175 cleerly, that of good and of blisfulnesse is al oon and the same substaunce.’
‘I see nat,’ quod I, ‘wherfore that men mighten discorden in this.’
‘And we han shewed that god and verray blisfulnesse is al oo180 thing.’
‘That is sooth,’ quod I.
‘Thanne mowen we conclude sikerly, that the substaunce of god is set in thilke same good, and in non other place.184
Huc omnes pariter uenite capti.
O cometh alle to-gider now, ye that ben y-caught and y-bounde with wikkede cheynes, by the deceivable delyt of erthely thinges enhabitinge in your thought! Heer shal ben the reste of your labours, heer is the havene stable in peysible quiete; this allone is the open refut to wrecches. Glosa. This is to seyn, that ye5that ben combred anddeceivedwith worldely affecciouns, cometh now to this soverein good, that is god, that is refut to hem that wolen comen to him. Textus. Alle the thinges that the river Tagus[ ] yeveth yow with his goldene gravailes, or elles alle the thinges that the river Hermus yeveth with his rede brinke, or that Indus[ ]10 yeveth, that is next the hote party of the world, that medleth the[ ]grene stoneswith the whyte , ne sholde nat cleeren the lookinge of your thought, but hyden rather your blinde corages with-in hir derknesse . Al that lyketh yow heer, and excyteth and moeveth15 your thoughtes, the erthe hath norisshed it in hise lowe caves. But the shyninge, by whiche the hevene is governed and whennes he hath his strengthe, that eschueth the derke overthrowinge of[ ] the sowle; and who-so may knowen thilke light of blisfulnesse, he shal wel seyn, that the whyte bemes of the sonne ne ben nat20 cleer.’
Boece. ‘I assente me,’ quod I; ‘for alle thise thinges ben strongly bounden with right ferme resouns.’
5‘I wol preyse it,’ quod I, ‘by prys with-outen ende, yif it shal bityde me to knowe also to-gider god that is good.’
10‘They dwellen graunted to thee,’ quod I; this is to seyn, as who seith: I graunte thy forseide conclusiouns.
‘Have I nat shewed thee,’ quod she, ‘that the thinges that ben requered of many folkes ne ben nat verray goodes ne parfite, for they ben dyverse that oon fro that othre; and so as ech of hem15 is lakkinge to other, they ne han no power to bringen a good that is ful and absolut? But thanne at erst ben they verray good, whanne they ben gadered to-gider alle in-to o forme and in-to oon wirkinge, so that thilke thing that is suffisaunce, thilke same be power, and reverence, and noblesse, and mirthe; and forsothe,20 but-yif alle thise thinges ben alle oon same thing, they ne han nat wherby that they mowen ben put in the noumber of thinges that oughten ben requered or desired.’
‘It is shewed,’ quod I; ‘ne her-of may ther no man douten.’
‘The thinges thanne,’ quod she, ‘that ne ben no goodes[ ] whanne they ben dyverse, and whan they beginnen to ben alle25 oon thing thanne ben they goodes, ne comth it hem nat thanne by the getinge of unitee, that they ben maked goodes?’
‘So it semeth,’ quod I.
‘But al thing that is good,’ quod she, ‘grauntest thou that it be good by the participacioun of good, or no?’30
‘I graunte it,’ quod I.
‘Thanne most thou graunten,’ quod she, ‘by semblable resoun, that oon and good be oo same thing. For of thinges, of whiche that the effect nis nat naturelly diverse, nedes the substance mot be oo same thing.’35
‘I ne may nat denye that,’ quod I.
‘Hast thou nat knowen wel,’ quod she, ‘that al thing that is hath so longe his dwellinge and his substaunce as longe as it is oon; but whan it forleteth to ben oon, it mot nedes dyen and corumpe to-gider?’40
‘In which manere?’ quod I.
‘Right as in bestes,’ quod she, ‘whan the sowle and the body ben conioigned in oon and dwellen to-gider, it is cleped a beest. And whan hir unitee is destroyed by the disseveraunce of that oon from that other, than sheweth it wel that it is a ded thing, and45 that it nis no lenger no beest. And the body of a wight, whyl it dwelleth in oo forme by coniuncccioun of membres, it is wel seyn that it is a figure of man-kinde. And yif the parties of the body ben so devyded and dissevered, that oon fro that other, that they destroyen unitee, the body forleteth to ben that50 it was biforn. And, who-so wolde renne in the same manere by alle thinges, he sholde seen that, with-oute doute, every thing is in his substaunce as longe as it is oon; and whan it forleteth to ben oon, it dyeth and perissheth .’
‘Whan I considere,’ quod I, ‘manye thinges, I see non other.’[ ]55
‘Is ther any-thing thanne,’ quod she, ‘that, in as moche as it liveth naturelly, that forleteth the talent or appetyt of his beinge, and desireth to come to deeth and to corupcioun?’
‘Yif I considere,’ quod I, ‘the beestes that han any maner60 nature of wilninge and of nillinge, I ne finde no beest, but-yif it be constreined fro with-oute forth, that forleteth or despyseth the entencioun to liven and to duren, or that wole,[ ] his thankes, hasten him to dyen. For every beest travaileth him to deffende and kepe the savacioun of his lyf, and eschueth deeth65 and destruccioun.
But certes, I doute me of herbes and of trees, that is to seyn, that I am in a doute of swiche thinges as herbes or trees, that ne han no felinge sowles , ne no naturel wirkinges servinge toappetytesas bestes han, whether they han appetyt to dwellen70and to duren.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘ne ther-of thar thee nat doute. Now[ ] loke up-on thise herbes and thise trees; they wexen first in swiche places as ben covenable to hem, in whiche places they ne mowen nat sone dyen ne dryen, as longe as hir nature may75 deffenden hem. For som of hem waxen in feeldes, and som in mountaignes, and othre waxen in mareys , and othre cleven on roches, and somme waxen plentivous in sondes; and yif that any wight enforce him to beren hem in-to othre places, they wexen drye. For nature yeveth to every thing that that80 is convenient to him, and travaileth that they ne dye nat, as longe as they han power to dwellen and to liven. What woltow[ ] seyn of this, that they drawen alle hir norisshinges by hir rotes, right as they hadden hir mouthes y-plounged with-in the erthes, and sheden by hir maryes hir wode and hir bark? And what85 woltow seyn of this, that thilke thing that is right softe, as the marye is, that is alwey hid in the sete , al with-inne, and that is defended fro with-oute by the stedefastnesse of wode; and that the uttereste bark is put ayeins the destemperaunce of the hevene, as a defendour mighty to suffren harm? And thus, certes, maystow wel seen how greet is the diligence of nature;90 for alle thinges renovelen and puplisshen hem with seed y-multiplyed;[ ] ne ther nis no man that ne wot wel that they ne[ ] ben right as a foundement and edifice, for to duren nat only for a tyme, but right as for to duren perdurably by generacioun. And the thinges eek that men wenen ne haven none sowles,95 ne desire they nat ech of hem by semblable resoun to kepen that is hirs, that is to seyn, that is acordinge to hir nature in conservacioun of hir beinge and enduringe? For wher-for elles bereth lightnesse the flaumbes up, and the weighte presseth the erthe a-doun, but for as moche as thilke places and thilke100 moevinges ben covenable to everich of hem? And forsothe every thing kepeth thilke that is acordinge and propre to him, right as thinges that ben contraries and enemys corompen hem. And yit the harde thinges, as stones, clyven and holden hir parties to-gider right faste and harde, and deffenden hem in105 withstondinge that they ne departe nat lightlya-twinne . And the thinges that ben softe and fletinge, as is water and eyr, they departen lightly, and yeven place to hem that breken or devyden hem; but natheles, they retornen sone ayein in-to the same thinges fro whennes they ben arraced . But fyr fleeth[ ]110 and refuseth al devisioun. Ne I ne trete nat heer now of wilful moevinges of the sowle that is knowinge, but of the[ ] naturel entencioun of thinges, as thus: right as we swolwe the mete that we receiven and ne thinke nat on it, and as we drawen our breeth in slepinge that we wite it nat whyle we115slepen . For certes, in the beestes, the love of hir livinges ne of hir beinges ne comth nat of the wilninges of the sowle, but of the biginninges of nature. For certes, thorugh constreininge causes, wil desireth and embraceth ful ofte tyme the deeth that nature dredeth; that is to seyn as thus: that a man may120ben constreyned so, by som cause, that his wil desireth and taketh the deeth which that nature hateth and dredeth ful sore. And somtyme we seeth the contraye, as thus: that the wil[ ] of a wight destorbeth and constreyneth that that nature desireth125 and requereth al-wey, that is to seyn, the werk of generacioun, by the whiche generacioun only dwelleth and is sustened the long durabletee of mortal thinges.[ ]
And thus this charitee and this love, that every thing hath to him-self, ne comth nat of the moevinge of the sowle, but130 of the entencioun of nature. For the purviaunce of god hath yeven to thinges that ben creat of him this, that is a ful gret cause to liven and to duren; for which they desiren naturelly hir lyf as longe as ever they mowen. For which thou mayst nat drede, by no manere, that alle the thinges135 that ben anywhere, that they ne requeren naturelly the ferme stablenesse of perdurable dwellinge, and eek the eschuinge of destruccioun.’
Boece. ‘Now confesse I wel,’ quod I, ‘that I see now wel certeinly, with-oute doutes, the thinges that whylom semeden140 uncertain to me.’
145‘That is sooth,’ quod I.
‘Thanne,’ quod she, ‘desiren alle thinges oon?’
‘I assente,’ quod I.
‘And I have shewed,’ quod she, ‘that thilke same oon is thilke that is good?’
150‘Ye, for sothe,’ quod I.
‘Ther ne may be thought,’ quod I, ‘no more verray thing.155 For either alle thinges ben referred and brought to nought, and floteren with-oute governour, despoiled of oon as of hir[ ] propre heved; or elles, yif ther be any thing to which that alle thinges tenden and hyen, that thing moste ben the soverein good of alle goodes.’
160Thanne seyde she thus: ‘O my nory,’ quod she, ‘I have gret gladnesse of thee; for thou hast ficched in thyn herte[ ] the middel soothfastnesse, that is to seyn, the prikke; but this thing hath ben descovered to thee, in that thou seydest that[ ] thou wistest nat a litel her-biforn.’
‘What was that ?’ quod I.165
‘That thou ne wistest nat,’ quod she, ‘which was the ende of thinges; and certes, that is the thing that every wight desireth; and for as mochel as we han gadered and comprehended that good is thilke thing that is desired of alle, thanne moten we nedes confessen, that good is the fyn of alle thinges.170
Quisquis profunda mente uestigat uerum.
Who-so that seketh sooth by a deep thought, and coveiteth nat to ben deceived by no mis-weyes, lat him rollen and trenden[ ] with-inne him-self the light of his inward sighte; and lat him gadere ayein, enclyninge in-to a compas, the longe moevinges of his thoughtes; and lat him techen his corage that he hath5 enclosed and hid in his tresors, al that he compasseth or seketh fro with-oute. And thanne thilke thinge, that the blake cloude[ ] of errour whylom hadde y-covered, shal lighten more cleerly[ ] thanne Phebus him-self ne shyneth.
Glosa.Who-so wole seken the deep grounde of sooth in his[ ]10thought, and wol nat be deceived by false proposiciouns that goon amis fro the trouthe, lat him wel examine and rolle with-inne himself the nature and the propretees of the thing; and lat him yit eftsones examine and rollen his thoughtes by good deliberacioun, or that he deme; and lat him techen his sowle that it hath, by natural15principles kindeliche y-hid with-in it-self, alle the trouthe the whiche he imagineth to ben in thinges with-oute. And thanne alle thederknesseof his misknowinge shalsememore evidently to sighte of his understondinge thanne the sonne ne semeth to sighte with-oute-forth.20
For certes the body, bringinge the weighte of foryetinge, ne hath nat chased out of your thoughte al the cleernesse of your knowinge; for certeinly the seed of sooth haldeth and clyveth with-in your corage, and it is awaked and excyted by the winde25 and by the blastes of doctrine. For wherfor elles demen ye of your owne wil the rightes, whan ye ben axed , but-yif so were that the norisshingeof resoun ne livede y-plounged in the depthe of your herte? this is to seyn, how sholden men demen the sooth of any thing that wereaxed , yif ther nere a rote of soothfastnesse that30were y-plounged and hid innaturelprinciples, the whiche soothfastnesse lived with-in the deepnesse of the thought. And yif so be that the Muse and the doctrine of Plato singeth sooth, al that[ ] every wight lerneth, he ne doth no-thing elles thanne but recordeth, as men recorden thinges that ben foryeten.’
Tum ego, Platoni, inquam.
Thanne seide I thus: ‘I acorde me gretly to Plato, for thou remembrest and recordest me this thinges yit the secounde tyme ; that is to seyn, first whan I loste my memorie by the contagious coniunccioun of the body with the sowle; and5 eftsones afterward, whan I loste it, confounded by the charge and by the burdene of my sorwe.’
And thanne seide she thus: ‘yif thou loke,’ quod she, ‘first the thinges that thou hast graunted, it ne shal nat ben right fer that thou ne shalt remembren thilke thing that thou seydest that10 thou nistest nat.’
‘What thing?’ quod I.
‘By whiche governement,’ quod she, ‘that this world is governed.’
‘Me remembreth it wel,’ quod I; ‘and I confesse wel that I15 ne wiste it naught. But al-be-it so that I see now from a-fer what thou purposest, algates, I desire yit to herkene it of thee more pleynly.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘ne yit ne doute I it naught, ne I nel never20 wene that it were to doute; as who seith, but I wot wel that god governeth this world; and I shal shortly answeren thee by what resouns I am brought to this. This world,’ quod I, ‘of so manye dyverse and contrarious parties, ne mighte never han ben assembled in o forme, but-yif ther nere oon that conioignede so25 manye dyverse thinges; and the same dyversitee of hir natures, that so discorden that oon fro that other, moste departen and unioignen the thinges that ben conioigned, yif ther ne were oon[ ] that contenede that he hath conioined and y-bounde. Ne the certein ordre of nature ne sholde nat bringe forth so ordenee[ ]30 moevinges, by places, by tymes, by doinges, by spaces , by qualitees, yif ther ne were oon that were ay stedefast dwellinge, that ordeynede and disponede thise dyversitees of moevinges. And thilke thing, what-so-ever it be, by which that alle thinges ben y-maked and y-lad, I clepe him “god”; that is a word that35 is used to alle folk.’
Thanne seyde she: ‘sin thou felest thus thise thinges,’ quod she, ‘I trowe that I have litel more to done that thou, mighty of[ ] welefulnesse, hool and sounde, ne see eftsones thy contree. But lat us loken the thinges that we han purposed her-biforn.40 Have I nat noumbred and seyd,’ quod she, ‘that suffisaunce is in blisfulnesse, and we han acorded that god is thilke same blisfulnesse?’
‘Yis, forsothe,’ quod I.
‘And that, to governe this world,’ quod she, ‘ne shal he never45 han nede of non help fro with-oute? For elles, yif he hadde nede of any help, he ne sholde nat have no ful suffisaunce?’
‘Yis, thus it mot nedes be,’ quod I.
‘Thanne ordeineth he by him-self al-one alle thinges?’ quod she.
‘That may nat be deneyed ,’ quod I.50
‘And I have shewed that god is the same good?’
‘It remembreth me wel,’ quod I.
‘Thanne ordeineth he alle thinges by thilke good,’ quod she; ‘sin he, which that we han acorded to be good, governeth alle 55 thinges by him-self; and he is as a keye and a stere by which[ ] that the edifice of this world is y-kept stable and with-oute coroumpinge .’
‘I acorde me greetly,’ quod I; ‘and I aperceivede a litel herbiforn that thou woldest seye thus; al-be-it so that it were by60 a thinne suspecioun.’
‘I trowe it wel,’ quod she; ‘for, as I trowe, thou ledest now more ententifly thyne eyen to loken the verray goodes. But natheles the thing that I shal telle thee yit ne sheweth nat lasse to[ ] loken.’
65‘What is that?’ quod I.
‘So as men trowen,’ quod she, ‘and that rightfully, that god governeth alle thinges by the keye of his goodnesse, and alle thise[ ] same thinges, as I have taught thee, hasten hem by naturel entencioun to comen to good: ther may no man douten that they70 ne be governed voluntariely, and that they ne converten hem of hir owne wil to the wil of hir ordenour, as they that ben acordinge and enclyninge to hir governour and hir king.’
‘It mot nedes be so,’ quod I; ‘for the reaume ne sholde nat[ ] semen blisful yif ther were a yok of misdrawinges in dyverse75 parties; ne the savinge of obedient thinges ne sholde nat be.’
‘Thanne is ther nothing,’ quod she, ‘that kepeth his nature, that enforceth him to goon ayein god?’
‘No,’ quod I.
‘And yif that any-thing enforcede him to with-stonde god,80 mighte it availen at the laste ayeins him, that we han graunted to ben almighty by the right of blisfulnesse?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘al-outrely it ne mighte nat availen him .’
‘Thanne is ther no-thing,’ quod she, ‘that either wole or may with-stonden to this soverein good?’
85‘I trowe nat,’ quod I,
‘Thanne is thilke the soverein good,’ quod she, ‘that alle thinges governeth strongly, and ordeyneth hem softely.’[ ]
Thanne seyde I thus: ‘I delyte me,’ quod I, ‘nat only in the endes or in the somme of the resouns that thou hast concluded90 and proeved, but thilke wordes that thou usest delyten me moche more; so, at the laste, fooles that sumtyme renden grete thinges[ ] oughten ben ashamed of hem-self;’ that is to seyn, that we fooles thatreprehendenwikkedly the thinges that touchen goddes governaunce, we oughten ben ashamed of our-self: as I, that seyde that god refuseth only the werkes of men, and ne entremeteth nat of95hem .’
‘Thou hast wel herd,’ quod she, ‘the fables of the poetes, how the giaunts assaileden the hevene with the goddes; but forsothe,[ ] the debonair force of goddeposede hem, as it was worthy; that is to seyn, destroyede the giaunts, as it was worthy. But wilt100 thou that we ioignen to-gider thilke same resouns? For peraventure, of swich coniuncioun may sterten up som fair sparkle of sooth.’
‘Do,’ quod I, ‘as thee liste.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘no wight ne douteth it, yif he be in his minde.’
‘But he,’ quod she, ‘that is almighty, ther nis nothing that he ne may ?’110
‘That is sooth,’ quod I.
‘May god don yvel?’ quod she.
‘Nay, forsothe,’ quod I.
‘Thanne is yvel nothing,’ quod she, ‘sin that he ne may nat don yvel that may don alle thinges.’115
‘Scornest thou me?’ quod I; ‘or elles pleyest thou or deceivest thou[ ]me, that hast so woven me with thy resouns the hous of[ ]Dedalus , so entrelaced that it is unable to be unlaced; thou that other-whyle entrest ther thou issest , and other-whyle issest ther thou entrest, ne foldest thou nat to-gider, by replicacioun of120wordes, a maner wonderful cercle or environinge of the simplicitee devyne? For certes, a litel her-biforn, whan thou bigunne at blisfulnesse, thou seydest that it is soverein good; and seydest that it is set in soverein god; and seydest that god him-self is soverein good; and that god is the fulle blisfulnesse; for which[ ]125 thou yave me as a covenable yift, that is to seyn, that no wight nis blisful but-yif he be god also ther-with. And seidest eek, that the forme of good is the substaunce of god and of blisfulnesse; and seidest, that thilke same oon is thilke same good, that is130 requered and desired of alle the kinde of thinges. And thou proevedest, in disputinge, that god governeth all the thinges of the world by the governements of bountee , and seydest, that alle[ ] thinges wolen obeyen to him; and seydest, that the nature of yvel nis no-thing. And thise thinges ne shewedest thou nat with none135 resouns y-taken fro with-oute, but by proeves in cercles and hoomlich[ ] knowen; the whiche proeves drawen to hem-self hir feith and hir acord, everich of hem of other.’
Thanne seyde she thus: ‘I ne scorne thee nat, ne pleye, nedeceivethee; but I have shewed thee the thing that is grettest140 over alle thinges by the yift of god, that we whylom preyeden. For this is the forme of the devyne substaunce, that is swich that it ne slydeth nat in-to outterest foreine thinges, ne ne receiveth no straunge thinges in him; but right as Parmenides seyde[ ]in Greek of thilke devyne substaunce; he seyde thus: that “thilke145 devyne substaunce torneth the world and the moevable cercle of thinges, whyl thilke devyne substaunce kepeth it-self with-oute moevinge;” that is to seyn, that it ne moeveth never-mo, and yit it moeveth alle othre thinges. But natheles, yif I have stired resouns that ne ben nat taken fro with-oute the compas of thing of which150 we treten, but resouns that ben bistowed with-in that compas, ther nis nat why that thou sholdest merveilen; sin thou hast lerned by the sentence of Plato, that “nedes the wordes moten[ ] be cosines to the thinges of which they speken.”
Felix, qui potuit boni.
Blisful is that man that may seen the clere welle of good; blisful is he that may unbinden him fro the bondes of the hevy erthe. The poete of Trace, Orpheus, that whylom hadde right greet sorwe[ ] for the deeth of his wyf, after that he hadde maked, by his weeply[ ] songes, the wodes, moevable, to rennen; and hadde maked the[ ]5 riveres to stonden stille; and hadde maked the hertes and the hindes to ioignen, dredeles, hir sydes to cruel lyouns, for to herknen his songe; and hadde maked that the hare was nat agast of the hounde, which that was plesed by his songe: so, whan the moste ardaunt love of his wif brende the entrailes of his brest, ne the10 songes that hadden overcomen alle thinges ne mighten nat asswagen hir lord Orpheus, he pleynede him of the hevenegoddes[ ] that weren cruel to him; he wente him to the houses of helle. And there he temprede hise blaundisshinge songes by resowninge strenges, and spak and song in wepinge al that ever he hadde15received and laved out of the noble welles of his moder[ ]Calliope[ ] the goddesse; and he song with as mochel as he mighte of wepinge,[ ] and with as moche as love, that doublede his sorwe, mighte yeve him and techen him; and he commoevede the helle, and requerede and bisoughte by swete preyere the lordes of sowles20 in helle, of relesinge; that is to seyn, to yilden him his wyf.[ ]
Cerberus, the porter of helle, with his three hevedes, was caught[ ] and al abayst for the newe song; and the three goddesses, Furies ,[ ] and vengeresses of felonyes, that tormenten and agasten the sowles by anoy, woxen sorwful and sory, and wepen teres for pitee.25 Tho ne was nat the heved of Ixion y-tormented by the overthrowinge[ ] wheel; and Tantalus , that was destroyed by the woodnesse[ ] of longe thurst , despyseth the flodes to drinke; the fowl that highte voltor, that eteth the stomak or the giser of Tityus , is so[ ] fulfild of his song that it nil eten ne tyren no more. At the laste30 the lord and Iuge of sowles was moeved to misericordes and cryde, “we ben overcomen,” quod he; “yive we to Orpheus his wyf to bere him companye; he hath wel y-bought hir by his song and his ditee; but we wol putte a lawe in this, and covenaunt in[ ]35 the yifte: that is to seyn, that, til he be out of helle, yif he loke behinde him, that his wyf shal comen ayein unto us.”
But what is he that may yive a lawe to loveres? Love is[ ] a gretter lawe and a strenger to him-self than any lawe that men may yeven. Allas! whan Orpheus and his wyf weren almest at the40 termes of the night, that is to seyn, at the laste boundes of helle, Orpheus lokede abakward on Eurydice his wyf, and loste hir, and was deed.[ ]
This fable aperteineth to yow alle, who-so-ever desireth or seketh to lede his thought in-to the soverein day, that is to seyn,45to cleernesse of sovereingood . For who-so that ever be so overcomen that he ficche his eyen into the putte of helle, that is to seyn, who-sosette histhoughtes in erthely thinges, al that ever he hath drawen of the noble good celestial, he leseth it whan he loketh the helles,’ that is to seyn,in-tolowe thinges of theerthe .[ ]
Explicit Liber tercius.[Back to Table of Contents]
Hec cum Philosophia, dignitate uultus.
Whan Philosophye hadde songen softely and delitably the forseide thinges, kepinge the dignitee of hir chere and the weighte of hir wordes, I thanne, that ne hadde nat al-outerly foryeten the wepinge and the mourninge that was set in myn5 herte, forbrak the entencioun of hir that entendede yit to seyn[ ]some othre thinges. ‘O ,’ quod I, ‘thou that art gyderesse of verrey light; the thinges that thou hast seid me hider-to ben so clere to me and so shewinge by the devyne lookinge of hem, and by thy resouns, that they ne mowen ben overcomen. And10 thilke thinges that thou toldest me, al-be-it so that I hadde whylom foryeten hem, for the sorwe of the wrong that hath ben don to me, yit natheles they ne weren nat al-outrely unknowen to me. But this same is, namely, a right greet cause of my sorwe,[ ]so as the governour of thinges is good, yif that yveles mowen ben by any weyes; or elles yif that yveles passen with-oute punisshinge.15 The whiche thing only, how worthy it is to ben wondred up-on, thou considerest it wel thy-self certeinly. But yit to this thing ther is yit another thing y-ioigned, more to ben wondred up-on. For felonye is emperesse , and floureth ful ofrichesses ; and vertu nis nat al-only with-oute medes, but it is cast under and20 fortroden under the feet of felonous folk; and it abyeth the torments in stede of wikkede felounes. Of alle whiche thinges ther nis no wight that may merveylen y-nough, ne compleine, that swiche thinges ben doon in the regne of god, that alle thinges woot and alle thinges may, and ne wole nat but only gode[ ]25 thinges.’
Thanne seyde she thus: ‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘that were a greet merveyle, and an enbasshinge with-outen ende, and wel more[ ]horrible than alle monstres, yif it were as thou wenest; that is to seyn, that in the right ordenee hous of so mochel a fader and an[ ]30 ordenour of meynee, that the vesseles[ ] that ben foule and vyle sholden ben honoured and heried , and the precious vesseles sholden ben defouled and vyle; but it nis nat so. For yif tho thinges that I have concluded a litel her-biforn ben kept hole and unraced , thou shalt wel knowe by the autoritee of god, of the35 whos regne I speke, that certes the gode folk ben alwey mighty, and shrewes ben alwey out-cast and feble; ne the vyces ne ben never-mo with-oute peyne, ne the vertues ne ben nat with-oute mede; and that blisfulnesses comen alwey to goode folk, and infortune comth alwey to wikked folk. And thou shalt wel40 knowe many thinges of this kinde, that shollen cesen thy pleintes,[ ] and strengthen thee with stedefast sadnesse. And for thou hast seyn the forme of the verray blisfulnesse by me, that have whylom shewed it thee, and thou hast knowen in whom blisfulnesse 45 is y-set, alle thinges y-treted that I trowe ben necessarie to[ ] putten forth, I shal shewe thee the wey that shal bringen thee ayein un-to thyn hous. And I shal ficchen fetheres in thy thought,[ ] by whiche it may arysen in heighte, so that, alle tribulacioun y-don awey, thou, by my gydinge and by my path and by my50sledes , shalt mowe retorne hool and sound in-to thy contree.[ ]
Sunt etenim pennae uolucres mihi.
I have, forsothe, swifte fetheres that surmounten the heighte of hevene. Whan the swifte thought hath clothed it-self in tho[ ] fetheres, it despyseth the hateful erthes, and surmounteth the roundnesse of the grete ayr; and it seeth the cloudes behinde his5 bak; and passeth the heighte of the region of the fyr, that[ ] eschaufeth by the swifte moevinge of the firmament, til that he areyseth him in-to the houses that beren the sterres, and ioyneth his weyes with the sonne Phebus, and felawshipeth the wey of the olde colde Saturnus ; and he y-maked a knight of the clere[ ]10 sterre; that is to seyn, that thethoughtis maked goddes knight by the sekinge of trouthe to comen to the verray knowleche of god. And thilke thought renneth by the cercle of the sterres, in alle places ther-as the shyninge night is peinted ; that is to seyn, the night that is cloudeles; for on nightes that ben cloudeles it semeth as15the hevene were peinted with dyverse images of sterres. And[ ]whanne he hath y-doon ther y-nough, he shal forleten the laste hevene, and he shal pressen and wenden on the bak of the swifte firmament, and he shal ben maked parfit of the worshipful light[ ]of god. Ther halt the lord of kinges the ceptre of his20 might, and atempreth the governements of the world, and the shyninge Iuge of thinges, stable in him-self, governeth the swifte cart or wayn , that is to seyn, the circuler moevinge of the sonne.[ ] And yif thy wey ledeth thee ayein so that thou be brought thider, thanne wolt thou seye now that that is the contree that thou requerest , of which thou ne haddest no minde: “but now it[ ]25 remembreth me wel, heer was I born, heer wol I fastne my[ ] degree, heer wole I dwelle.” But yif thee lyketh thanne to loken[ ] on the derknesse of the erthe that thou hast forleten, thanne shalt thou seen that thise felonous tyraunts, that the wrecchede peple dredeth, now shollen ben exyled fro thilke fayre contree.’30
Tum ego, Papae, inquam.
Than seyde I thus: ‘owh ! I wondre me that thou bihetest me[ ] so grete thinges; ne I ne doute nat that thou ne mayst wel performe that thou bihetest. But I preye thee only this, that thou ne tarye nat to telle me thilke thinges that thou hast moeved.’5
‘First,’ quod she, ‘thou most nedes knowen, that goode folk ben alwey stronge and mighty, and the shrewes ben feble and desert and naked of alle strengthes . And of thise thinges, certes, everich of hem is declared and shewed by other. For so as good and yvel ben two contraries, yif so be that good be stedefast ,10 than sheweth the feblesse of yvel al openly; and yif thou knowe cleerly the frelenesse of yvel, the stedefastnesse of good is knowen. But for as moche as the fey of my sentence shal be the[ ] more ferme and haboundaunt, I will gon by that oo wey and by that other; and I wole conferme the thinges that ben purposed,15 now on this syde and now on that syde. Two thinges ther ben in whiche the effect of alle the dedes of mankinde standeth, that is to seyn, wil and power; and yif that oon of thise two fayleth, ther nis nothing that may be don. For yif that wil lakketh , ther 20 nis no wight that undertaketh to don that he wol nat don; and yif power fayleth, the wil nis but in ydel and stant for naught. And ther-of cometh it, that yif thou see a wight that wolde geten that he may nat geten, thou mayst nat douten that power ne fayleth him to haven that he wolde.’
25‘This is open and cleer,’ quod I; ‘ne it may nat ben deneyed in no manere.’
30‘No,’ quod I.
‘And in that that every wight may, in that men may holden[ ] him mighty; as who seyth, in so moche as man is mighty to don a thing, in so mochel menhalthim mighty; and in that that he ne may, in that men demen him to be feble.’
35‘I confesse it wel,’ quod I.
‘Remembreth thee,’ quod she, ‘that I have gadered and shewed by forseyde resouns that al the entencioun of the wil of mankinde, which that is lad by dyverse studies, hasteth to[ ] comen to blisfulnesse?’
40‘It remembreth me wel,’ quod I, ‘that it hath ben shewed.’
‘And recordeth thee nat thanne,’ quod she, ‘that blisfulnesse is thilke same good that men requeren; so that, whan that blisfulnesse is requered of alle, that good also is requered and desired of alle?’
45‘It ne recordeth me nat ,’ quod I; ‘for I have it gretly alwey ficched in my memorie.’
‘Alle folk thanne,’ quod she, ‘goode and eek badde, enforcen hem with-oute difference of entencioun to comen to good?’
‘This is a verray consequence,’ quod I.
50‘And certein is,’ quod she, ‘that by the getinge of good ben men y-maked goode?’
‘This is certein,’ quod I.
‘Thanne geten goode men that they desiren?’
‘So semeth it,’ quod I.
‘But wikkede folk,’ quod she, ‘yif they geten the good that55 they desiren, they ne mowe nat be wikkede?’
‘So is it,’ quod I.
‘Thanne, so as that oon and that other,’ quod she, ‘desiren good; and the goode folk geten good, and nat the wikke folk; thanne nis it no doute that the goode folk ne ben mighty and60 the wikkede folk ben feble?’
‘Who-so that ever,’ quod I, ‘douteth of this, he ne may nat considere the nature of thinges ne the consequence of resouns .’
And over this quod she, ‘yif that ther be two thinges that han oo same purpose by kinde, and that oon of hem pursueth65 and parformeth thilke same thing by naturel office, and that other ne may nat doon thilke naturel office, but folweth, by other manere thanne is convenable to nature, him that acomplissheth his purpos kindely, and yit he ne acomplissheth nat his owne purpos: whether of thise two demestow for more mighty?’70
‘Yif that I coniecte,’ quod I, ‘that thou wolt seye, algates yit[ ] I desire to herkne it more pleynly of thee.’
‘No, forsothe,’ quod I.75
‘Ne thou ne doutest nat,’ quod she, ‘that thilke naturel office of goinge ne be the office of feet?’
‘I ne doute it nat,’ quod I.
‘Thanne,’ quod she, ‘yif that a wight be mighty to moeve and goth upon his feet, and another, to whom thilke naturel office of80 feet lakketh, enforceth him to gon crepinge up-on his handes: whiche of thise two oughte to ben holden the more mighty by right?’
‘Knit forth the remenaunt,’ quod I; ‘for no wight ne douteth[ ] that he that may gon by naturel office of feet ne be more mighty85 than he that ne may nat.’
‘But the soverein good,’ quod she, ‘that is eveneliche purposed to the gode folk and to badde, the gode folk seken it by naturel office of vertues, and the shrewes enforcen hem to geten it by 90 dyverse coveityse of erthely thinges, which that nis no naturel office to geten thilke same soverein good. Trowestow that it be any other wyse ?’
‘Nay,’ quod I; ‘for the consequence is open and shewinge of[ ] thinges that I have graunted; that nedes gode folk moten ben95 mighty, and shrewes feeble and unmighty.’
‘Thou rennest a-right biforn me,’ quod she, ‘and this is the Iugement; that is to seyn, I iuge of thee right as thise leches ben[ ] wont to hopen of syke folk, whan they aperceyven that nature is redressed and withstondeth to the maladye . But, for I see thee100 now al redy to the understondinge, I shal shewe thee more thikke and continuel resouns. For loke now how greetly sheweth the feblesse and infirmitee of wikkede folk, that ne mowen nat comen to that hir naturel entencioun ledeth hem, and yit almost thilke[ ] naturel entencioun constreineth hem . And what were to demen[ ]105thanne of shrewes, yif thilke naturel help hadde forleten hem, the which naturel help of intencioun goth awey biforn hem, and is so greet that unnethe it may ben overcome? Consider thanne how greet defaute of power and how greet feblesse ther is in wikkede felonous folk; as who seyth,the gretter thing thatis coveited and110the desire natacomplisshed , of the lasse might is he that coveiteth it and may nat acomplisshe. And forthy Philosophie seyth thus by soverein good: Ne shrewes ne requeren nat lighte medes ne veyne[ ] games, whiche they ne may folwen ne holden; but they failen of thilke somme and of the heighte of thinges, that is to seyn, soverein115good; ne thise wrecches ne comen nat to the effect of soverein good, the which they enforcen hem only to geten, by nightes and by dayes; in the getinge of which good the strengthe of good folk is ful wel y-sene. For right so as thou mightest demen him mighty of goinge, that gooth on his feet til he mighte come to thilke120 place, fro the whiche place ther ne laye no wey forther to ben[ ] gon; right so most thou nedes demen him for right mighty, that geteth and ateyneth to the ende of alle thinges that ben to desire , biyonde the whiche ende ther nis nothing to desire. Of the which power of good folk men may conclude, that the wikked men semen to be bareine and naked of alle strengthe. For-why125 forleten they vertues and folwen vyces? Nis it nat for that they ne knowen nat the goodes? But what thing is more feble and more caitif thanne is the blindnesse of ignoraunce? Or elles they knowen ful wel whiche thinges that they oughten folwe, but lecherye and coveityse overthroweth hem mistorned; and certes,130 so doth distemperaunce to feble men, that ne mowen nat wrastlen ayeins the vyces. Ne knowen they nat thanne wel that they forleten the good wilfully, and tornen hem wilfully to vyces? And in this wyse they ne forleten nat only to ben mighty, but they forleten al-outrely in any wyse for to ben. For they that forleten135 the comune fyn of alle thinges that ben, they forleten also ther-with-al for to ben.[ ]
And per-aventure it sholde semen to som folk that this were a merveile to seyen: that shrewes, whiche that contienen the more partye of men, ne ben nat ne han no beinge; but natheles, it is so,140 and thus stant this thing. For they that ben shrewes, I deneye nat that they ben shrewes; but I deneye, and seye simplely and pleinly, that they ne ben nat, ne han no beinge. For right as thou mightest seyen of the carayne of a man, that it were a deed man, but thou ne mightest nat simplely callen it a man; so graunte145 I wel forsothe, that vicious folk ben wikked, but I ne may nat graunten absolutly and simplely that they ben. For thilke thing that with-holdeth ordre and kepeth nature, thilke thing is and hath beinge; but what thing that faileth of that, that is to seyn, that he forleteth naturel ordre, he forleteth thilke thing that is set150 in his nature. But thou wolt seyn, that shrewes mowen. Certes,[ ] that ne deneye I nat; but certes, hir power ne descendeth nat of strengthe, but of feblesse. For they mowen don wikkednesses; the whiche they ne mighte nat don, yif they mighten dwellen in the forme and in the doinge of good folk. And thilke power155 sheweth ful evidently that they ne mowen right naught. For so as I have gadered and proeved a litel her-biforn, that yvel is naught; and so as shrewes mowen only but shrewednesses , this conclusioun is al cleer, that shrewes ne mowen right naught, ne han no power.160
‘That is sooth,’ quod I.
165‘And thilke same soverein good may don non yvel?’
‘Certes, no,’ quod I.
‘Is ther any wight thanne,’ quod she, ‘that weneth that men mowen doon alle thinges?’
‘No man,’ quod I, ‘but-yif he be out of his witte.’
170‘But, certes, shrewes mowen don yvel,’ quod she.
‘Ye, wolde god,’ quod I, ‘that they mighten don non!’
‘Thanne,’ quod she, ‘so as he that is mighty to doon only but goode thinges may don alle thinges; and they that ben mighty to don yvele thinges ne mowen nat alle thinges: thanne is it open175 thing and manifest, that they that mowen don yvel ben of lasse power. And yit, to proeve this conclusioun, ther helpeth me this, that I have y-shewed her-biforn, that alle power is to be noumbred among thinges that men oughten requere. And I have shewed that alle thinges, that oughten ben desired, ben referred to good,180 right as to a maner heighte of hir nature. But for to mowen don yvel and felonye ne may nat ben referred to good. Thanne nis nat yvel of the noumbir of thinges that oughte ben desired. But alle power oughte ben desired and requered. Than is it open and cleer that the power ne the mowinge of shrewes nis no power; and185 of alle thise thinges it sheweth wel, that the goode folke ben certeinly mighty, and the shrewes douteles ben unmighty. And it is cleer and open that thilke opinioun of Plato is verray and sooth, that[ ] seith, that only wyse men may doon that they desiren; and shrewes mowen haunten that hem lyketh, but that they desiren,190that is to seyn, to comen to sovereign good, they ne han no power to acomplisshen that. For shrewes don that hem list, whan, by tho thinges in which they delyten, they wenen to ateine to thilke good that they desiren; but they ne geten ne ateinen nat ther-to, for vyces ne comen nat to blisfulnesse.
Quos uides sedere celsos.
Who-so that the covertoures of hir veyne aparailes mighte strepen[ ] of thise proude kinges, that thou seest sitten on heigh in hir chaires gliteringe in shyninge purpre, envirouned with sorwful armures, manasinge with cruel mouth, blowinge by woodnesse of herte, he shulde seen thanne that thilke lordes beren with-inne hir5 corages ful streite cheines. For lecherye tormenteth hem in that oon syde with gredy venims; and troublable ire, that araiseth in him the flodes oftroublinges , tormenteth up-on that other syde hir thought; or sorwe halt hem wery and y-caught; or slydinge and deceivinge hope tormenteth hem. And therfore, sen thou10 seest oon heed, that is to seyn, oon tyraunt, beren so manye tyrannyes , thanne ne doth thilke tyraunt nat that he desireth, sin[ ] he is cast doun with so manye wikkede lordes; that is to seyn, with so manye vyces, that han sowikkedlylordshipes over him.
Videsne igitur quanto in coeno.
Seestow nat thanne in how grete filthe thise shrewes ben y-wrapped, and with which cleernesse thise good folk shynen? In this sheweth it wel, that to goode folk ne lakketh never-mo hir medes, ne shrewes lakken never-mo torments. For of alle thinges that ben y-doon, thilke thing, for which any-thing is don, it semeth5 as by right that thilke thing be the mede of that; as thus: yif a man renneth in the stadie, or in the forlong, for the corone,[ ] thanne lyth the mede in the corone for which he renneth. And I have shewed that blisfulnesse is thilke same good for which that alle thinges ben doon. Thanne is thilke same good purposed[ ]10 to the workes of mankinde right as a comune mede; which mede ne may ben dissevered fro good folk. For no wight as by right, fro thennes-forth that him lakketh goodnesse, ne shal ben cleped good. For which thing, folk of goode maneres, hir medes[ ]15 ne forsaken hem never-mo. For al-be-it so that shrewes wexen as wode as hem list ayeins goode folk, yit never-the-lesse the corone of wyse men shal nat fallen ne faden . For foreine shrewednesse ne binimeth nat fro the corages of goode folk hir propre honour. But yif that any wight reioyse him of goodnesse that he20 hadde take fro with-oute (as who seith, yif that any wight hadde his goodnesse of any other man than of him-self), certes, he that yaf him thilke goodnesse, or elles som other wight, mighte binime it him. But for as moche as to every wight his owne propre bountee yeveth him his mede, thanne at erst shal he failen of mede whan25 he forleteth to ben good. And at the laste , so as alle medes ben[ ] requered for men wenen that they ben goode, who is he that wolde deme, that he that is right mighty of good were part-les [ ]of mede ? And of what mede shal he be guerdoned ? Certes, of right faire mede and right grete aboven alle medes. Remembre30 thee of thilke noble corolarie that I yaf thee a litel her-biforn; and gader it to-gider in this manere:—so as good him-selfis blisfulnesse, thanne is it cleer and certein, that alle good folk ben maked blisful for they ben goode; and thilke folk that ben blisful, it acordeth and is covenable to ben goddes. Thanne is the mede35 of goode folk swich that no day shal enpeiren it, ne no wikkednesse[ ] ne shal derken it, ne power of no wight ne shal nat amenusen it, that is to seyn, to ben maked goddes.
And sin it is thus, that goode men ne failen never-mo of hirmede ,[ ] certes, no wys man ne may doute of undepartable peyne of the40 shrewes; that is to seyn, that the peyne of shrewes ne departeth nat from hem-self never-mo. For so as goode and yvel, and peyne and medes ben contrarye, it mot nedes ben, that right as we seen bityden in guerdoun of goode, that also mot the peyne of yvel answery , by the contrarye party, to shrewes. Now thanne, so as bountee and prowesse ben the mede to goode folk, al-so is45 shrewednesse it-self torment to shrewes. Thanne, who-so that ever is entecched and defouled with peyne, he ne douteth nat, that he is entecched and defouled with yvel. Yif shrewes thanne wolen preysen hem-self, may it semen to hem that they ben withouten[ ] party of torment, sin they ben swiche that the uttereste50 wikkednesse (that is to seyn, wikkede thewes, which that is theutteresteand the worste kinde of shrewednesse) ne defouleth ne enteccheth nat hem only, but infecteth and envenimeth hem gretly? And also look on shrewes, that ben the contrarie party of goode men, how greet peyne felawshipeth and folweth hem!55 For thou hast lerned a litel her-biforn, that al thing that is and hath beinge is oon, and thilke same oon is good; thanne is this the consequence, that it semeth wel, that al that is and hath beinge is good; this is to seyn, as who seyth, that beinge and unitee and goodnesse is al oon. And in this manere it folweth thanne, that al60 thing that faileth to ben good, it stinteth for to be and for to han any beinge; wherfore it is, that shrewes stinten for to ben that they weren. But thilke other forme of mankinde, that is to seyn, the forme of the body with-oute, sheweth yit that thise shrewes weren whylom men; wher-for, whan they ben perverted and65 torned in-to malice, certes, than han they forlorn the nature of mankinde. But so as only bountee and prowesse may enhaunsen every man over other men; thanne mot it nedes be that shrewes, which that shrewednesse hath cast out of the condicioun of mankinde, ben put under the merite and the desert of men. Thanne[ ]70 bitydeth it, that yif thou seest a wight that be transformed into vyces, thou ne mayst nat wene that he be a man.
For yif he be ardaunt in avaryce, and that he be a ravinour by violence of foreine richesse, thou shalt seyn that he is lyke to the wolf . And yif he be felonous and with-oute reste, and exercyse75 his tonge to chydinges, thou shalt lykne him to the hound. And yif he be a prevey awaitour y-hid, and reioyseth him to ravisshe by wyles , thou shalt seyn him lyke to the fox-whelpes. And yif he be distempre and quaketh for ire, men shal wene that he bereth80 the corage of a lyoun. And yif he be dredful and fleinge, and dredeth thinges that ne oughten nat to ben dred, men shal holden him lyk to the hert. And yif he be slow and astoned and lache, he liveth as an asse. And yif he be light and unstedefast of corage, and chaungeth ay his studies, he is lykned to briddes. And if he be85 plounged in foule and unclene luxuries, he is with-holden in the foule delyces of the foule sowe. Thanne folweth it, that he that forleteth bountee and prowesse, he forleteth to ben a man; sin he may nat passen in-to the condicioun of god, he is torned in-to a beest.
Vela Neritii dulcis.
Eurus thewind aryvede the sailes of Ulixes, duk of the contree[ ] of Narice , and his wandringe shippes by the see, in-to the ile ther-as Circes , the faire goddesse, doughter of the sonne,[ ] dwelleth; that medleth to hir newe gestes drinkes that ben5 touched and maked with enchauntements. And after that hir hand, mighty over the herbes, hadde chaunged hir gestes in-to dyverse maneres; that oon of hem, is covered his face with forme[ ] of a boor ; that other is chaunged in-to a lyoun of the contree of Marmorike , and his nayles and his teeth wexen; that other of[ ]10 hem is neweliche chaunged in-to a wolf, and howleth whan he wolde wepe; that other goth debonairely in the hous as a tygre of Inde.
But al-be-it so that the godhed of Mercurie, that is cleped the[ ] brid of Arcadie , hath had mercy of the duke Ulixes, biseged with15 dyverse yveles, and hath unbounden him fro the pestilence of his ostesse , algates the roweres and the marineres hadden by this[ ] y-drawen in-to hir mouthes and dronken the wikkede drinkes. They that weren woxen swyn hadden by this y-chaunged hir mete of breed, for to eten akornes of okes. Non of hir limes ne[ ] dwelleth with hem hole , but they han lost the voice and the20 body; only hir thought dwelleth with hem stable, that wepeth and biweileth the monstruous chaunginge that they suffren. O overlight hand (as who seyth, O! feble and light is the hand of[ ] Circes the enchaunteresse, that chaungeth the bodyes of folkes in-to bestes, to regard and to comparisoun of mutacioun that is maked by25vyces); ne the herbes of Circes ne ben nat mighty. For al-be-it so that they may chaungen the limes of the body, algates yit they may nat chaunge the hertes; for with-inne is y-hid the strengthe and vigor of men, in the secree tour of hir hertes; that is to seyn, the strengthe of resoun. But thilke venims of vyces to-drawen30 a man to hem more mightily than the venim of Circes; for vyces ben so cruel that they percen and thorugh-passen the[ ] corage with-inne; and, thogh they ne anoye nat the body, yit vyces wooden to destroye men by wounde of thought.’
Tum ego, Fateor, inquam.
Than seyde I thus: ‘I confesse and am a-knowe it ,’ quod I; ‘ne I ne see nat that men may sayn, as by right, that shrewes[ ]ne ben chaunged in-to bestes by the qualitee of hir soules, al-be-it so that they kepen yit the forme of the body of mankinde. But I[ ] nolde nat of shrewes, of which the thought cruel woodeth al-wey5 in-to destruccioun of goode men, that it were leveful to hem to don that.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘ne is nis nat leveful to hem, as I shal wel shewe thee in covenable place; but natheles, yif so were that thilke that men wenen be leveful to shrewes were binomen hem, so that10they ne mighte nat anoyen or doon harm to goode men, certes, a gre partye of the peyne to shrewes sholde ben allegged and releved. For al-be-it so that this ne seme nat credible thing, per-aventure, to some folk, yit moot it nedes be, that shrewes ben 15 more wrecches and unsely whan they may doon and performe that they coveiten, than yif they mighte nat complisshen that they coveiten . For yif so be that it be wrecchednesse to wilne to don yvel, than is more wrecchednesse to mowen don yvel; with-oute[ ] whiche mowinge the wrecched wil sholde languisshe with-oute20 effect. Than, sin that everiche of thise thinges hath his wrecchednesse, that is to seyn, wil to don yvel and mowinge to don yvel, it moot nedes be that they ben constreyned by three[ ] unselinesses, that wolen and mowen and performen felonyes and shrewednesses.’
‘So shullen they,’ quod she, ‘soner, per-aventure, than thou[ ] woldest; or soner than they hem-self wene to lakken mowinge to30don yvel . For ther nis no-thing so late in so shorte boundes of[ ] this lyf, that is long to abyde, nameliche, to a corage inmortel; of whiche shrewes the grete hope, and the hye compassinges of shrewednesses, is ofte destroyed by a sodeyn ende, or they ben war; and that thing estableth to shrewes the ende of hir35 shrewednesse. For yif that shrewednesse maketh wrecches, than mot he nedes ben most wrecched that lengest is a shrewe; the whiche wikked shrewes wolde I demen aldermost unsely and caitifs, yif that hir shrewednesse ne were finisshed , at the leste wey, by the outtereste deeth. For yif I have concluded sooth of the unselinesse[ ]40 of shrewednesse, than sheweth it cleerly that thilke wrecchednesse is with-outen ende, the whiche is certein to ben perdurable.’[ ]
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘this conclusioun is hard and wonderful to graunte; but I knowe wel that it acordeth moche to the thinges45 that I have graunted her-biforn.’
‘Thou hast,’ quod she, ‘the right estimacioun of this; but who-so-ever wene that it be a hard thing to acorde him to a conclusioun, it is right that he shewe that some of the premisses ben false; or elles he moot shewe that the collacioun of proposiciouns nis nat speedful to a necessarie conclusioun. And yif it50 be nat so, but that the premisses ben y-graunted, ther is not why[ ] he sholde blame the argument.
For this thing that I shal telle thee now ne shal nat seme lasse wonderful; but of the thinges that ben taken also it is necessarie;’[ ]as who seyth, it folweth of that which that is purposed biforn.55
‘What is that?’ quod I.
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘that is, that thise wikked shrewes ben more blisful, or elles lasse wrecches, that abyen the torments that they han deserved, than yif no peyne of Iustice ne chastysede hem. Ne this ne seye I nat now, for that any man mighte60thenke , that the maners of shrewes ben coriged and chastysed by veniaunce, and that they ben brought to the right wey by the drede of the torment, ne for that they yeven to other folk ensaumple to fleen fro vyces; but I understande yit in another[ ] manere, that shrewes ben more unsely whan they ne ben nat65punisshed , al-be-it so that ther ne be had no resoun or lawe of correccioun , ne non ensaumple of lokinge.’
‘And what manere shal that ben,’ quod I, ‘other than hath be told her-biforn?’
‘Have we nat thanne graunted,’ quod she, ‘that goode folk70 ben blisful, and shrewes ben wrecches?’
‘Yis,’ quod I.
‘Thanne,’ quod she, ‘yif that any good were added to the wrecchednesse of any wight, nis he nat more weleful than he that ne hath no medlinge of good in his solitarie wrecchednesse?’75
‘So semeth it,’ quod I.
‘And what seystow thanne,’ quod she, ‘of thilke wrecche that lakketh alle goodes, so that no good nis medled in his wrecchednesse, and yit, over al his wikkednesse for which he is a wrecche, that ther be yit another yvel anexed and knit to him, shal nat men80 demen him more unsely than thilke wrecche of whiche the unselinesse is releved by the participacioun of som good?’
‘Why sholde he nat?’ quod I.
‘Thanne, certes,’ quod she, ‘han shrewes, whan they ben punisshed, som-what of good anexed to hir wrecchednesse, that is85 to seyn, the same peyne that they suffren, which that is good by the resoun of Iustice; and whan thilke same shrewes ascapen with-oute torment, than han they som-what more of yvel yit over the wikkednesse that they han don, that is to seyn, defaute of90 peyne; which defaute of peyne, thou hast graunted, is yvel for[ ] the deserte of felonye.’ ‘I ne may nat denye it,’ quod I. ‘Moche more thanne,’ quod she, ‘ben shrewes unsely, whan they ben wrongfully delivered fro peyne, than whan they ben punisshed by rightful veniaunce. But this is open thing and cleer, that it is95 right that shrewes ben punisshed, and it is wikkednesse and wrong that they escapen unpunisshed.’
‘Who mighte deneye that?’ quod I.
‘But,’ quod she, ‘may any man denye that al that is right nis good; and also the contrarie, that al that is wrong is wikke ?’
100‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘these thinges ben clere y-nough; and that we han concluded a litel her-biforn. But I praye thee that thou telle me, yif thou acordest to leten no torment to sowles, after that[ ] the body is ended by the deeth;’ this is to seyn, understandestow aught that sowles han any torment after the deeth of the body?
105‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘ye; and that right greet; of which sowles,’ quod she, ‘I trowe that some ben tormented by asprenesse of peyne; and some sowles, I trowe, ben exercised by a purginge mekenesse. But my conseil nis nat to determinye of thise peynes . But I have travailed and told yit hiderto, for thou sholdest knowe110 that the mowinge of shrewes, which mowinge thee semeth to ben unworthy, nis no mowinge: and eek of shrewes, of which thou pleinedest that they ne were nat punisshed, that thou woldest seen that they ne weren never-mo with-outen the torments of hir wikkednesse: and of the licence of the mowinge to don yvel,115 that thou preydest that it mighte sone ben ended, and that thou woldest fayn lernen that it ne sholde nat longe dure : and that shrewes ben more unsely yif they were of lenger duringe, and most unsely yif they weren perdurable. And after this, I have shewed thee that more unsely ben shrewes, whan they escapen120 with-oute hir rightful peyne, than whan they ben punisshed by rightful veniaunce. And of this sentence folweth it, that thanne ben shrewes constreined at the laste with most grevous torment, whan men wene that they ne be nat punisshed.’
‘Whan I consider thy resouns ,’ quod I, ‘I ne trowe nat that men seyn any-thing more verayly. And yif I torne ayein to the125 studies of men, who is he to whom it sholde seme that he ne sholde nat only leven thise thinges, but eek gladly herkne hem?’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘so it is; but men may nat. For they han hir eyen so wont to the derknesse of erthely thinges, that they ne130 may nat liften hem up to the light of cleer sothfastnesse; but they ben lyke to briddes, of which the night lightneth hir lokinge,[ ] and the day blindeth hem. For whan men loken nat the ordre of thinges, but hir lustes and talents, they wene that either the leve or the mowinge to don wikkednesse, or elles the scapinge with-oute135 peyne, be weleful. But consider the Iugement of the perdurable lawe. For yif thou conferme thy corage to the beste thinges, thou ne hast no nede of no Iuge to yeven thee prys or mede; for thou hast ioyned thy-self to the most excellent thing. And yif thou have enclyned thy studies to the wikked thinges, ne140 seek no foreyne wreker out of thy-self; for thou thy-self hast thrist thy-self in-to wikke thinges: right as thou mightest loken by[ ]dyverse tymes the foule erthe and the hevene, and that alle other thinges stinten fro with-oute, so that thounere neither in hevene ne in erthe , ne saye no-thing more; than it sholde semen to145 thee, as by only resoun of lokinge, that thou were now in the sterres and now in the erthe. But the poeple ne loketh nat on thise thinges. What thanne? Shal we thanne aprochen us to hem that I have shewed that they ben lyk to bestes ? And what woltow seyn of this: yif that a man hadde al forlorn his sighte150 and hadde foryeten that he ever saugh, and wende that no-thing ne faylede him of perfeccioun of mankinde, now we that mighten seen the same thinges , wolde we nat wene that he were blinde?[ ] Ne also ne acordeth nat the poeple to that I shal seyn, the which thing is sustened by a stronge foundement of resouns, thatisto155seyn, that more unsely ben they that don wrong to othre folk than they that the wrong suffren.’
‘I wolde heren thilke same resouns,’ quod I.
‘Denyestow ,’ quod she, ‘that alle shrewes ne ben worthy to160 han torment?’
‘Nay,’ quod I.
‘But,’ quod she, ‘I am certein, by many resouns, that shrewes ben unsely.’
‘It acordeth,’ quod I.
165‘Thanne ne doutestow nat,’ quod she, ‘that thilke folk that ben worthy of torment, that they ne ben wrecches?’
‘It acordeth wel,’ quod I.
‘I ne doute nat,’ quod I, ‘that I nolde don suffisaunt satisfaccioun to him that hadde suffred the wrong by the sorwe of him that hadde don the wrong.’
‘That folweth wel,’ quod I.
‘Than,’ quod she, ‘by these causes and by othre causes that ben enforced by the same rote, filthe or sinne, by the propre180 nature of it, maketh men wrecches; and it sheweth wel, that the wrong that men don nis nat the wrecchednesse of him that receyveth the wrong, but the wrecchednesse of him that doth the wrong . But certes,’ quod she, ‘thise oratours or advocats don al the contrarye; for they enforcen hem to commoeve the Iuges to185 han pitee of hem that han suffred and receyved the thinges that ben grevous and aspre, and yit men sholden more rightfully han pitee of hem that don the grevaunces and the wronges; the whiche shrewes, it were a more covenable thing, that the accusours or advocats, nat wroth but pitous and debonair, ledden tho shrewes that han don wrong to the Iugement, right as men190 leden syke folk to the leche, for that they sholde seken out the maladyes of sinne by torment. And by this covenaunt, either the entente of deffendours or advocats sholde faylen and cesen in al,[ ] or elles, yif the office of advocats wolde bettre profiten to men, it sholde ben torned in-to the habite of accusacioun; that is to195seyn, they sholden accuse shrewes, and nat excuse hem. And eek the shrewes hem-self, yif hit were leveful to hem to seen at any[ ] clifte the vertu that they han forleten, and sawen that they sholden putten adoun the filthes of hir vyces, by the torments of peynes, they ne oughte nat, right for the recompensacioun for to[ ]200 geten hem bountee and prowesse which that they han lost, demen ne holden that thilke peynes weren torments to hem; and eek they wolden refuse the attendaunce of hir advocats, and taken hem-self to hir Iuges and to hir accusors. For which it bitydeth that, as to the wyse folk, ther nis no place y-leten to[ ]205 hate; that is to seyn, that ne hate hath no place amonges wyse men. For no wight nil haten goode men, but-yif he were over-mochel a fool; and for to haten shrewes, it nis no resoun. For right so as languissinge is maladye of body, right so ben vyces and sinne maladye of corage. And so as we ne deme nat, that they that ben210 syke of hir body ben worthy to ben hated, but rather worthy of pitee: wel more worthy, nat to ben hated, but for to ben had in pitee, ben they of whiche the thoughtes ben constreined by felonous wikkednesse, that is more cruel than any languissinge of[ ]215 body.
Quid tantos iuuat excitare motus.
What delyteth you to excyten so grete moevingesof hateredes,[ ] and to hasten and bisien the fatal disposicioun of your deeth with your propre handes? that is to seyn, by batailes or by contek. For yif ye axen the deeth, it hasteth him of his owne wil; ne deeth ne tarieth nat his swifte hors . And the men that the serpent and5 the lyoun and the tygre and the bere and the boor seken to sleen with hir teeth, yit thilke same men seken to sleen everich of hem other with swerd. Lo! for hir maneres ben dyverse and descordaunt , they moeven unrightful ostes and cruel batailes, and wilnen[ ]10 to perisshe by entrechaunginge of dartes. But the resoun[ ] of crueltee nis nat y-nough rightful.
Wiltow thanne yelden a covenable guerdoun to the desertes of men? Love rightfully goode folk, and have pitee on shrewes.’
Hic ego uideo inquam.
‘Thus see I wel,’ quod I, ‘either what blisfulnesse or elles what unselinesse is establisshed in the desertes of goode men and of shrewes. But in this ilke fortune of poeple I see somwhat of good and somwhat of yvel. For no wyse man hath lever ben5 exyled, poore and nedy, and nameles, than for to dwellen in his citee and flouren of richesses, and be redoutable by honour, and strong of power. For in this wyse more cleerly and more witnesfully is the office of wyse men y-treted, whan the blisfulnesse and the poustee of governours is, as it were, y-shad amonges poeples[ ]10 that be neigheboursand subgits; sin that, namely, prisoun, lawe, and thise othre torments of laweful peynes ben rather owed to felonous citezeins, for the whiche felonous citezeins tho peynes ben establisshed, than for good folk. Thanne I mervaile me greetly,’ quod I, ‘why that the thinges ben so mis entrechaunged,15 that torments of felonyes pressen and confounden goode folk, and shrewes ravisshen medes of vertu, and ben in honours and in gret estats. And I desyre eek for to witen of thee, what semeth thee to ben the resoun of this so wrongful a conclusioun? For I wolde wondre wel the lasse, yif I trowede that al thise thinges20 weren medled by fortunous happe; but now hepeth and encreseth[ ] myn astonyinge god, governour of thinges, that, so as god yeveth ofte tymes to gode men godes and mirthes, and to shrewes yveles and aspre thinges: and yeveth ayeinward to gode folk hardnesses, and to shrewes he graunteth hem hir wil and that they desyren: what difference thanne may ther be bitwixen that that25 god doth, and the happe of fortune, yif men ne knowe nat the cause why that it is?’
‘Ne it nis no mervaile,’ quod she, ‘though that men wenen that ther be somewhat folissh and confuse, whan the resoun of the ordre is unknowe. But al-though that thou ne knowe nat the30 cause of so greet a disposicioun, natheles, for as moche as god, the gode governour, atempreth and governeth the world, ne doute thee nat that alle thinges ben doon a-right.
Si quis Arcturi sidera nescit.
Who-so that ne knowe nat the sterres of Arcture , y-torned neigh[ ][ ] to the soverein contree or point, that is to seyn, y-torned neigh to the soverein pool of the firmament, and wot nat why the sterre[ ]Bootes passeth or gadereth his weynes, and drencheth his late flambes in the see, and why that Bootes the sterre unfoldeth his5 over-swifte arysinges, thanne shal he wondren of the lawe of the heye eyr.
And eek, yif that he ne knowe nat why that the hornes of the fulle[ ] mone wexen pale and infect by the boundes of the derke night;[ ] and how the mone, derk and confuse, discovereth the sterres that10 she hadde y-covered by hir clere visage. The comune errour[ ] moeveth folk, and maketh wery hir basins of bras by thikke[ ] strokes; that is to seyn, that ther is a maner of oeple that highteCoribantes , that wenen that, whan the mone is in the eclipse, that it be enchaunted; and therfore, for to rescowe the mone, they beten hir15basins with thikke strokes.
Ne no man ne wondreth whan the blastes of the wind Chorus beten the strondes of the see by quakinge flodes; ne no man ne[ ] wondreth whan the weighte of the snowe , y-harded by the colde, is resolved by the brenninge hete of Phebus the sonne; for heer20 seen men redely the causes.
But the causes y-hid, that is to seyn, in hevene, troublen the brestes of men; the moevable poeple is astoned of alle thinges[ ] that comen selde and sodeinly in our age. But yif the troubly[ ]25 errour of our ignoraunce departede fro us, so that we wisten the causes why that swiche thinges bi-tyden, certes, they sholden cese to seme wondres.’
Ita est, inquam.
‘Thus is it,’ quod I. ‘But so as thou hast yeven or bi-hight me to unwrappen the hid causes of thinges, and to discovere me the resouns covered with derknesses, I prey thee that thou devyse and iuge me of this matere, and that thou do me to understonden5 it; for this miracle or this wonder troubleth me right gretly.’
And thanne she, a litel what smylinge, seyde: ‘thou clepest me,’ quod she, ‘to telle thing that is grettest of alle thinges that mowen ben axed, and to the whiche questioun unnethes is ther aught y-nough to laven it; as who seyth, unnethes is ther suffisauntly[ ]10anything to answere parfitly to thy questioun. For the matere of it is swich, that whan o doute is determined and cut awey, ther wexen other doutes with-oute number; right as the hevedes wexen of Ydre, the serpent thatErculesslowh . Ne ther[ ] ne were no manere ne non ende, but-yif that a wight constreinede[ ]15 tho doutes by a right lyfly and quik fyr of thought; that is to seyn, by vigour and strengthe of wit. For in this manere men weren wont to maken questions of the simplicitee of the purviaunce of god, and of the order of destinee, and of sodein happe, and of the knowinge and predestinacioun divyne, and of20 the libertee of free wille; the whiche thinges thou thy-self aperceyvest wel, of what weight they ben. But for as mochel as the knowinge of thise thinges is a maner porcioun of the medicine of thee , al-be-it so that I have litel tyme to don it, yit natheles I wol enforcen me to shewe somwhat of it. But[ ]25 al-thogh the norisshinges of ditee of musike delyteth thee, thou most suffren and forberen a litel of thilke delyte, whyle that I weve to thee resouns y-knit by ordre.’
‘As it lyketh to thee,’ quod I, ‘so do.’ Tho spak she right as by another biginninge, and seyde thus. ‘The engendringe of alle thinges,’ quod she, ‘and alle the progressiouns of muable[ ]30 nature, and al that moeveth in any manere, taketh his causes, his ordre, and his formes, of the stablenesse of the divyne thoght; and thilke divyne thought, that is y-set and put in the tour, that[ ] is to seyn, in the heighte, of the simplicitee of god, stablissheth many maner gyses to thinges that ben to done; the whiche35 maner, whan that men loken it in thilke pure clennesse of the divyne intelligence, it is y-cleped purviaunce; but whan thilke maner is referred by men to thinges that it moveth and disponeth, thanne of olde men it was cleped destinee. The whiche thinges, yif that any wight loketh wel in his thought the strengthe of that40 oon and of that other, he shal lightly mowen seen, that thise two thinges ben dyverse. For purviaunce is thilke divyne reson that is establisshed in the soverein prince of thinges; the whiche purviaunce disponeth alle thinges. But destinee is the disposicioun and ordinaunce clyvinge to moevable thinges, by the whiche45 disposicioun the purviaunce knitteth alle thinges in hir ordres; for purviaunce embraceth alle thinges to-hepe, al-thogh that they ben dyverse, and al-thogh they ben infinite ; but destinee departeth[ ] and ordeineth alle thinges singulerly, and divyded in moevinges, in places, in formes, in tymes , as thus: lat the50 unfoldinge of temporel ordinaunce, assembled and ooned in the lokinge of the divyne thought, be cleped purviaunce; and thilke same assemblinge and ooninge, divyded and unfolden by tymes, lat that ben called destinee. And al-be-it so that thise thinges ben dyverse, yit natheles hangeth that oon on that other; for-why55 the order destinal procedeth of the simplicitee of purviaunce. For right as a werkman, that aperceyveth in his thoght the forme of the thing that he wol make, and moeveth the effect of the werk, and ledeth that he hadde loked biforn in his thoght simply[ ] and presently, by temporel ordinaunce : certes, right so god60 disponeth in his purviaunce, singulerly and stably , the thinges that ben to done, but he aministreth in many maneres and in dyverse tymes, by destinee, thilke same thinges that he hath disponed .
65Thanne, whether that destinee be exercysed outher by some divyne spirits, servaunts to the divyne purviaunce, or elles by som sowle , or elles by alle nature servinge to god, or elles by the[ ] celestial moevinges of sterres, or elles by thevertu of angeles, or[ ] elles by the dyverse subtilitee of develes, or elles by any of hem,70 or elles by hem alle, the destinal ordinaunce is y-woven and acomplisshed . Certes, it is open thing, that the purviaunce is an unmoevable and simple forme of thinges to done; and the moveable bond and the temporel ordinaunce of thinges, whiche that the divyne simplicitee of purviaunce hath ordeyned to done,75 that is destinee. For which it is, that alle thinges that ben put under destinee ben, certes, subgits to purviaunce, to whiche purviaunce destinee itself is subgit and under. But some thinges ben put under purviaunce, that surmounten the ordinaunce of destinee; and tho ben thilke that stably ben y-ficched negh to the80 firste godhed: they surmounten the ordre of destinal moevabletee . For right as of cercles that tornen a-boute[ ] a same centre or a-boute a poynt, thilke cercle that is innerest or most with-inne ioyneth to the simplesse of the middel, and is, as it were, a centre or a poynt to that other cercles that tornen a-bouten him; and thilke that is85 outterest, compassed by larger envyronninge, is unfolden by larger spaces, in so moche as it is forthest fro the middel simplicitee of the poynt; and yif ther be any-thing that knitteth and[ ] felawshippeth him-self to thilke middel poynt, it is constreined in-to simplicitee, that is to seyn, in-to unmoevabletee, and it ceseth90 to be shad and to fleten dyversely: right so, by semblable resoun, thilke thing that departeth forthest fro the first thoght of god, it is unfolden and summitted to gretter bondes of destinee: and in so moche is the thing more free and laus fro destinee, as it axeth and[ ] holdeth him ner to thilke centre of thinges, that is to seyn, god.95 And yif the thing clyveth to the stedefastnesse of the thoght of god, and be with-oute moevinge, certes, it sormounteth the necessitee of destinee. Thanne right swich comparisoun as it is of skilinge to[ ] understondinge, and of thing that is engendred to thing that is, and of tyme to eternitee, and of the cercle to the centre, right so is the ordre of moevable destinee to the stable simplicitee of purviaunce.100
Thilke ordinaunce moeveth the hevene and the sterres, and atempreth the elements to-gider amonges hem-self, and transformeth hem by entrechaungeable mutacioun ; and thilke same ordre neweth ayein alle thinges growinge and fallinge a-doun, by semblable progressiouns of sedes and of sexes, that is to seyn,105male andfemele . And this ilke ordre constreineth the fortunes and the dedes of men by a bond of causes, nat able to ben unbounde ; the whiche destinal causes, whan they passen out fro the biginninges[ ] of the unmoevable purviaunce, it mot nedes be that they ne be nat mutable. And thus ben the thinges ful wel y-governed,110 yif that the simplicitee dwellinge in the divyne thoght sheweth forth the ordre[ ] of causes, unable to ben y-bowed; and this ordre constreineth by his propre stabletee the moevable thinges, or elles they sholden fleten folily. For which it is, that alle thinges semen[ ] to ben confus and trouble to us men, for we ne mowen nat considere115 thilke ordinaunce; natheles, the propre maner of every[ ] thinge, dressinge hem to goode, disponeth hem alle.
For ther nis no-thing don for cause of yvel; ne thilke thing that is don by wikkede folk nis nat don for yvel. The whiche shrewes, as I have shewed ful plentivously, seken good, but120 wikked errour mistorneth hem, ne the ordre cominge fro the[ ] poynt of soverein good ne declyneth nat fro his biginninge. But thou mayst seyn, what unreste may ben a worse confusioun than[ ] that gode men han somtyme adversitee and somtyme prosperitee, and shrewes also now han thinges that they desiren, and now125 thinges that they haten? Whether men liven now in swich hoolnesse of thoght, (as who seyth, ben men now so wyse), that swiche folk as they demen to ben gode folk or shrewes, that it moste nedes ben that folk ben swiche as they wenen? But in this manere the domes of men discorden, that thilke men that130 some folk demen worthy of mede, other folk demen hem worthy of torment. But lat us graunte, I pose that som man may wel demen or knowen the gode folk and the badde; may he thanne knowen and seen thilke innereste atempraunce of corages, as it hath ben135 wont to be seyd of bodies; as who seyth, may a man speken and determinen of atempraunces in corages, as men were wont to demen or speken of complexiouns and atempraunces ofbodies? Ne it ne is nat an unlyk miracle, to hem that ne knowen it nat, (as who seith, but it[ ] is lykeamerveil oramiracle to hem that ne knowen it nat), why that140 swete thinges ben covenable to some bodies that ben hole, and to some bodies bittere thinges ben covenable; and also, why that some syke folk ben holpen with lighte medicynes, and some folk ben holpen with sharpe medicynes . But natheles, the leche that knoweth the manere and the atempraunce of hele and of maladye,145 ne merveileth of it no-thing. But what other thing semeth hele[ ] of corages but bountee and prowesse? And what other thing semeth maladye of corages but vyces? Who is elles kepere of good or dryver awey of yvel, but god, governour and lecher of[ ] thoughtes? The whiche god, whan he hath biholden from the150 heye tour of his purveaunce, he knoweth what is covenable to[ ] every wight, and leneth hem that he wot that is covenable to hem. Lo, her-of comth and her-of is don this noble miracle of the ordre destinal, whan god, that al knoweth, doth swiche thing, of which thing that unknowinge folk ben astoned. But for to constreine,[ ]155as who seyth, but for to comprehende and telle a fewe thinges of the divyne deepnesse, the whiche that mannes resoun may understonde, thilke man that thou wenest to ben right Iuste and right[ ] kepinge of equitee, the contrarie of that semeth to the divyne purveaunce, that al wot. And Lucan, my familer , telleth that[ ]160 “the victorious cause lykede to the goddes, and the cause overcomen lykede to Catoun.” Thanne, what-so-ever thou mayst seen that is don in this werld unhoped or unwened, certes, it is the right ordre of thinges; but, as to thy wikkede opinioun, it is a confusioun. But I suppose that som man be so wel y-thewed,165 that the divyne Iugement and the Iugement of mankinde acorden hem to-gider of him; but he is so unstedefast of corage, that, yif any adversitee come to him, he wol forleten, par-aventure, to continue innocence, by the whiche he ne may nat with-holden[ ] fortune. Thanne the wyse dispensacioun of god spareth him, the whiche man adversitee mighte enpeyren; for that god wol nat170 suffren him to travaile, to whom that travaile nis nat covenable. Another man is parfit in alle vertues, and is an holy man, and negh to god, so that the purviaunce of god wolde demen, that it were a felonye that he were touched with any adversitees; so that he wol nat suffre that swich a man be moeved with any175bodily maladye. But so as seyde a philosophre,[ ]the more excellent by me : he seyde in Grek, that “vertues han edified the body[ ] of the holy man.” And ofte tyme it bitydeth, that the somme of thinges that ben to done is taken to governe to gode folk, for that[ ] the malice haboundaunt of shrewes sholde ben abated. And god180 yeveth and departeth to othre folk prosperitees and adversitees y-medled to-hepe, after the qualitee of hir corages, and remordeth[ ] som folk by adversitee, for they ne sholde nat wexen proude by longe welefulnesse. And other folk he suffreth to ben travailed with harde thinges, for that they sholden confermen the vertues185 of corage by the usage and exercitacioun of pacience. And[ ] other folk dreden more than they oughten [that] whiche they mighten wel beren; and somme dispyse that they mowe nat beren ; and thilke folk god ledeth in-to experience of himself by aspre and sorwful thinges. And many othre folk han bought190 honourable renoun of this world by the prys of glorious deeth. And som men, that ne mowen nat ben overcomen by torments, have yeven ensaumple to othre folk, that vertu may nat ben overcomen by adversitees; and of alle thinges ther nis no doute, that they ne ben don rightfully and ordenely , to the profit of hem to195 whom we seen thise thinges bityde. For certes, that adversitee comth somtyme to shrewes, and somtyme that that they desiren, it comth of thise forseide causes. And of sorwful thinges that bityden to shrewes, certes, no man ne wondreth; for alle men wenen that they han wel deserved it, and that they ben of200 wikkede merite; of whiche shrewes the torment somtyme agasteth[ ] othre to don felonyes , and somtyme it amendeth hem that suffren the torments. And the prosperitee that is yeven to shrewes sheweth a greet argument to gode folk, what thing they sholde205 demen of thilke welefulnesse, the whiche prosperitee men seen ofte serven to shrewes. In the which thing I trowe that god[ ] dispenseth; for, per-aventure, the nature of som man is so overthrowinge[ ]to yvel, and so uncovenable, that the nedy povertee of his houshold mighte rather egren him to don felonyes. And to[ ]210 the maladye of him god putteth remedie, to yeven him richesses . And som other man biholdeth his conscience defouled with sinnes, and maketh comparisoun of his fortune and of him-self; and dredeth, per-aventure, that his blisfulnesse, of which the usage is Ioyeful to him, that the lesinge of thilke blisfulnesse ne be nat215 sorwful to him; and therfor he wol chaunge his maneres, and, for he dredeth to lese his fortune, he forleteth his wikkednesse. To othre folk is welefulnesse y-yeven unworthily, the whiche overthroweth hem in-to distruccioun that they han deserved. And to som othre folk is yeven power to punisshen , for that it shal be[ ]220 cause of continuacioun andexercysinge to gode folk and cause of torment to shrewes. For so as ther nis non alyaunce by-twixe gode folk and shrewes, ne shrewes ne mowen nat acorden amonges hem-self. And why nat? For shrewes discorden of hem-self by hir vyces, the whiche vyces al to-renden hir consciences; and don225 ofte tyme thinges, the whiche thinges, whan they han don hem, they demen that tho thinges ne sholden nat han ben don. For which thing thilke soverein purveaunce hath maked ofte tyme fair miracle; so that shrewes han maked shrewes to ben gode men. For whan that som shrewes seen that they suffren wrongfully230 felonyes of othre shrewes, they wexen eschaufed in-to hate of hem that anoyeden hem, and retornen to the frut of vertu, whan they studien to ben unlyk to hem that they han hated. Certes, only this is the divyne might, to the whiche might yveles ben thanne gode, whan it useth tho yveles covenably, and draweth out the235 effect of any gode; as who seyth, that yvel is good onlytothe might of god, for the might of god ordeyneth thilke yvel to good.
For oon ordre embraseth alle thinges, so that what wight that departeth fro the resoun of thilke ordre which that is assigned to him, algates yit he slydeth in-to another ordre, so that no-thing nis leveful to folye in the reame of the divyne purviaunce; as who240seyth, nothing nis with-outen ordinaunce in the reame of the divyne purviaunce; sin that the right stronge god governeth alle thinges[ ] in this world. For it nis nat leveful to man to comprehenden by wit, ne unfolden by word, alle the subtil ordinaunces and disposiciouns of the divyne entente. For only it oughte suffise to245 han loked, that god him-self, maker of alle natures, ordeineth and dresseth alle thinges to gode; whyl that he hasteth to with-holden[ ] the thinges that he hath maked in-to his semblaunce, that is to seyn, for to with-holden thinges in-to good, for he him-self is good, he chaseth out al yvel fro the boundes of his comunalitee by the250 ordre of necessitee destinable. For which it folweth, that yif thou loke the purviaunce ordeininge the thinges that men wenen ben outrageous or haboundant in erthes, thou ne shalt nat seen in no[ ] place no-thing of yvel. But I see now that thou art charged with the weighte of the questioun, and wery with the lengthe of my255 resoun; and that thou abydest som sweetnesse of songe. Tak thanne this draught; and whan thou art wel refresshed and refect ,[ ] thou shal be more stedefast to stye in-to heyere questiouns.
Si uis celsi iura tonantis.
If thou, wys , wilt demen in thy pure thought the rightes or the[ ] lawes of the heye thonderer, that is to seyn, of god, loke thou and bihold the heightes of the soverein hevene. There kepen the sterres, by rightful alliaunce of thinges, hir olde pees. The sonne, y-moeved by his rody fyr, ne distorbeth nat the colde cercle of[ ]5 the mone. Ne the sterre y-cleped “the Bere,” that enclyneth his[ ] ravisshinge courses abouten the soverein heighte of the worlde, ne the same sterre Ursa nis never-mo wasshen in the depe westrene see, ne coveiteth nat to deyen his flaumbes in the see of the occian, al-thogh he see othre sterres y-plounged in the see. And Hesperus[ ]10the sterre bodeth and telleth alwey the late nightes; and Lucifer the sterre bringeth ayein the clere day.
And thus maketh Love entrechaungeable the perdurable courses;[ ] and thus is discordable bataile y-put out of the contree of the15 sterres. This acordaunce atempreth by evenelyk maneres the elements, that the moiste thinges, stryvinge with the drye thinges , yeven place by stoundes; and the colde thinges ioynen hem by feyth to the hote thinges; and that the lighte fyr aryseth in-to heighte; and the hevy erthes avalen by hir weightes. By thise20 same causes the floury yeer yildeth swote smelles in the firste[ ] somer-sesoun warminge; and the hote somer dryeth the cornes; and autumpne comth ayein, hevy of apples; and the fletinge reyn bideweth the winter. This atempraunce norissheth and bringeth forth al thing that [bretheth] lyf in this world; and thilke same[ ][ ]25 atempraunce, ravisshinge, hydeth and binimeth, and drencheth under the laste deeth, alle thinges y-born.
Amonges thise thinges sitteth the heye maker, king and lord, welle and biginninge, lawe and wys Iuge, to don equitee; and governeth and enclyneth the brydles of thinges. And tho thinges[ ]30 that he stereth to gon by moevinge, he withdraweth and aresteth;[ ] and affermeth the moevable or wandringe thinges. For yif that he ne clepede ayein the right goinge of thinges, and yif that he ne constreinede hem nat eft-sones in-to roundnesses enclynede, the thinges that ben now continued by stable ordinaunce, they sholden35 departen from hir welle, that is to seyn, from hirbiginninge , and faylen, that is to seyn, torne in-to nought.
This is the comune Love to alle thinges; and alle thinges axen[ ] to ben holden by the fyn of good. For elles ne mighten they nat lasten, yif they ne come nat eft-sones ayein, by Love retorned, to40 the cause that hath yeven hem beinge, that is to seyn, to god.
Iamne igitur uides.
Seestow nat thanne what thing folweth alle the thinges that I have seyd?’ Boece. ‘What thing?’ quod I.
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘al-outrely, that alle fortune is good.’
‘And how may that be?’ quod I.
‘Now understand,’ quod she, ‘so as alle fortune, whether so it5be Ioyeful fortune or aspre fortune, is yeven either by cause of guerdoning or elles of exercysinge of good folk, or elles by cause to punisshen or elles chastysen shrewes; thanne is alle fortune good, the whiche fortune is certein that it be either rightful or elles profitable.’10
‘Forsothe, this is a ful verray resoun,’ quod I; ‘and yif I consider the purviaunce and the destinee that thou taughtest me a litel her-biforn, this sentence is sustened by stedefast resouns. But yif it lyke unto thee, lat us noumbren hem amonges thilke thinges, of whiche thou seydest a litel her-biforn, that they ne were15 nat able to ben wened to the poeple.’ ‘Why so?’ quod she.
‘For that the comune word of men,’ quod I, ‘misuseth this maner speche of fortune, and seyn ofte tymes that the fortune of som wight is wikkede.’
‘Wiltow thanne,’ quod she, ‘that I aproche a litel to the wordes20 of the poeple, so that it seme nat to hem that I be overmoche departed as fro the usage of mankinde?’
‘As thou wolt,’ quod I.
‘Yis,’ quod I.25
‘I confesse it wel,’ quod I.
‘Thanne is it good?’ quod she.
‘Why nat?’ quod I.
‘But this is the fortune,’ quod she, ‘of hem that either ben put30 in vertu and batailen ayeins aspre thinges, or elles of hem that eschuen and declynen fro vyces and taken the wey of vertu.’
‘This ne may I nat denye,’ quod I.
‘Nay, forsothe,’ quod I; ‘but they demen, as it sooth is, that it is right good.’
‘And what seystow of that other fortune,’ quod she, ‘that, al-thogh that it be aspre, and restreineth the shrewes by rightful40 torment, weneth aught the poeple that it be good?’
‘Nay,’ quod I, ‘but the poeple demeth that it is most wrecched of alle thinges that may ben thought.’
‘War now, and loke wel,’ quod she, ‘lest that we, in folwinge the opinioun of the poeple, have confessed and concluded thing45 that is unable to be wened to the poeple.’
‘What is that?’ quod I.
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘it folweth or comth of thinges that ben graunted, that alle fortune, what-so-ever it be, of hem that ben either in possessioun of vertu, or in the encres of vertu , or elles in50 the purchasinge of vertu, that thilke fortune is good; and that alle fortune is right wikkede to hem that dwellen in shrewednesse;’ as who seyth, and thus weneth nat the poeple.
‘That is sooth,’ quod I, ‘al-be-it so that no man dar confesse it ne biknowen it.’
55‘Why so?’ quod she; ‘for right as the stronge man ne semeth nat to abaissen or disdaignen as ofte tyme as he hereth the noise of the bataile, ne also it ne semeth nat, to the wyse man, to beren[ ] it grevously, as ofte as he is lad in-to the stryf of fortune. For bothe to that oon man and eek to that other thilke difficultee is60 the matere; to that oon man, of encres of his glorious renoun,[ ] and to that other man, to confirme his sapience, that is to seyn, to[ ] the asprenesse of his estat. For therefore is it called “vertu,” for[ ] that it susteneth and enforseth, by hise strengthes, that it nis nat overcomen by adversitees. Ne certes, thou that art put in the[ ]65 encres or in the heighte of vertu, ne hast nat comen to fleten with delices, and for to welken in bodily luste; thou sowest or plauntest a ful egre bataile in thy corage ayeins every fortune: for that the sorwful fortune ne confounde thee nat, ne that the merye fortune ne corumpe thee nat, occupye the mene by stedefast strengthes.70 For al that ever is under the mene, or elles al that overpasseth the mene, despyseth welefulnesse (as who[ ] seyth, it is vicious), and ne hath no mede of his travaile. For it is set in your hand (as who seyth, it lyth in your power) what fortune yow is levest, that is toseyn, good or yvel. For alle fortune that semeth sharp or aspre, yif it ne exercyse nat the gode folk ne chastyseth the wikked folk, it75punissheth .
Bella bis quinis operatus annis.
The wreker Attrides, that is to seyn, Agamenon, that wroughte[ ] and continuede the batailes by ten yeer, recovered and purgede[ ]in wrekinge, by the destruccioun of Troye, the loste chaumbres of mariage of his brother; this is to seyn, thathe , Agamenon, wan ayein Eleyne, that was Menelaus wyf his brother. In the mene[ ]5 whyle that thilke Agamenon desirede to yeven sayles to the Grekissh navye, and boughte ayein the windes by blood, he unclothede him of pitee of fader ; and the sory preest yiveth in sacrifyinge the wrecched cuttinge of throte of the doughter; that[ ] is to seyn, that Agamenon let cutten the throte of his doughter by the10preest, to maken allyaunce with his goddes, and for to han winde with whiche he mighte wenden to Troye.
Itacus, that is to seyn, Ulixes, biwepte his felawes y-lorn,[ ] the whiche felawes the ferse Poliphemus, ligginge in his grete cave, hadde freten and dreynt in his empty wombe. But natheles[ ]15 Poliphemus, wood for his blinde visage, yald to Ulixes Ioye by his sorwful teres; this is to seyn, that Ulixes smoot out the eye of Poliphemus that stood in his forehed, for which Ulixes hadde Ioye, whan he say Poliphemus wepinge and blinde.
Hercules is celebrable for his harde travailes; he dauntede the[ ]20 proude Centaures, half hors, half man; and he birafte the dispoylinge[ ] fro the cruel lyoun, that is to seyn, heslowhthe lyoun and[ ] rafte him his skin. He smoot the briddes that hightenArpyes[ ] with certein arwes. He ravisshede apples fro the wakinge dragoun, and his hand was the more hevy for the goldene metal.[ ]25 He drow Cerberus, the hound of helle, by his treble cheyne. He,[ ] overcomer, as it is seyd, hath put an unmeke lord foddre to his[ ] cruel hors; this isto seyn, that HerculesslowhDiomedes, and made his hors tofretenhim. And he, Hercules, slowh Ydra the serpent,[ ]30 and brende the venim. And Achelous the flood, defouled in his[ ] forhed, dreynte his shamefast visage in his strondes; this isto seyn, that Achelous coude transfigure him-self in-to dyverse lyknesses; and, as he faught with Hercules, at the laste he tornede him in-to a bole; and Hercules brak of oon of his hornes, andhe , for shame,35hidde him in his river. And he, Hercules, caste adoun Antheus[ ] the gyaunt in the strondes of Libie; and Cacus apaysede the[ ] wratthes of Evander; this isto seyn, that Hercules slowh the monstre Cacus, and apaysede with that deeth the wratthe of Evander. And the bristlede boor markede with scomes the[ ]40 shuldres of Hercules, the whiche shuldres the heye cercle of[ ] hevene sholde thriste. And the laste of his labours was, that he sustened the hevene up-on his nekke unbowed; and he deservede eft-sones the hevene, to ben the prys of his laste travaile.
Goth now thanne, ye stronge men, ther-as the heye wey of the45 grete ensaumple ledeth yow. O nyce men, why nake ye youre[ ] bakkes? As who seyth: O ye slowe and delicat men, why flee ye adversitees, and ne fighten nat ayeins hem by vertu, to winnen themede of thehevene? For the erthe, overcomen, yeveth the sterres’ ; this isto seyn, that, whan that erthely lust is overcomen, a man is50maked worthy to the hevene.[Back to Table of Contents]
Dixerat, orationisque cursum.
She hadde seyd, and torned the cours of hir resoun to some othre thinges to ben treted and to ben y-sped. Thanne seyde I, ‘Certes, rightful is thyn amonestinge and ful digne by auctoritee.[ ] But that thou seidest whylom , that the questioun of the divyne5 purviaunce is enlaced with many other questiouns, I understonde wel and proeve it by the same thing. But I axe yif that thou wenest that hap be any thing in any weys; and, yif thou wenest that hap be anything , what is it ?’
Thanne quod she, ‘I haste me to yilden and assoilen to thee[ ] the dette of my bihest, and to shewen and opnen the wey, by10 which wey thou mayst come ayein to thy contree. But al-be-it so that the thinges which that thou axest ben right profitable to knowe, yit ben they diverse somwhat fro the path of my purpos; and it is to douten that thou ne be maked wery by mis-weyes, so[ ] that thou ne mayst nat suffyce to mesuren the right wey.’15
‘Ne doute thee ther-of nothing,’ quod I. ‘For, for to knowen thilke thinges to-gedere, in the whiche thinges I delyte me greetly, that shal ben to me in stede of reste; sin it is nat to douten of the thinges folwinge, whan every syde of thy disputacioun shal han be stedefast to me by undoutous feith.’20
Thanne seyde she, ‘That manere wol I don thee’; and bigan to speken right thus. ‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘yif any wight diffinisshe hap in this manere, that is to seyn, that “hap is bitydinge y-brought forth by foolish moevinge and by no knettinge of causes,” I conferme that hap nis right naught in no wyse; and I25 deme al-outrely that hap nis, ne dwelleth but a voice, as who seith, but an ydel word, with-outen any significacioun of thing submitted to that vois. For what place mighte ben left, or dwellinge,[ ] to folye and to disordenaunce, sin that god ledeth and constreineth alle thinges by ordre? For this sentence is verray and30 sooth, that “nothing ne hath his beinge of naught”; to the[ ] whiche sentence none of thise olde folk ne withseyde never; al-be-it so that they ne understoden ne meneden it naught by god, prince and beginnere of werkinge, but they casten [it] as a manere[ ] foundement of subject material, that is to seyn, of the nature of35 alle resoun. And yif that any thing is woxen or comen of no causes, than shal it seme that thilke thing is comen or woxen of naught; but yif this ne may nat ben don, thanne is it nat possible, that hap be any swich thing as I have diffinisshed a litel heer-biforn.’
‘How shal it thanne be?’ quod I. ‘Nis ther thanne no-thing40 that by right may be cleped either “hap” or elles “aventure of fortune”; or is ther aught, al-be-it so that it is hid fro the peple, to which these wordes ben covenable ?’
‘Myn Aristotulis,’ quod she, ‘in the book of his Phisik, diffinissheth[ ]45 this thing by short resoun, and neigh to the sothe.’
‘In which manere?’ quod I.
‘As ofte,’ quod she, ‘as men doon any thing for grace of any[ ] other thing, and an-other thing than thilke thing that men entenden to don bitydeth by some causes, it is cleped “hap.”50 Right as a man dalf the erthe by cause of tilyinge of the feeld,[ ] and founde ther a gobet of gold bidolven, thanne wenen folk that it is bifalle by fortunous bitydinge. But, for sothe, it nis nat of naught, for it hath his propre causes; of whiche causes the cours unforeseyn and unwar semeth to han maked hap. For yif the55 tilyere of the feld ne dolve nat in the erthe , and yif the hyder of[ ] the gold ne hadde hid the gold in thilke place, the gold ne hadde nat been founde. Thise ben thanne the causes of the abregginge[ ] of fortuit hap, the which abregginge of fortuit hap comth of causes encountringe and flowinge to-gidere to hem-self, and nat by the60 entencioun of the doer. For neither the hyder of the gold ne the delver of the feeld ne understoden nat that the gold sholde han ben founde; but, as I sayde, it bitidde and ran to-gidere that he dalf ther-as that other hadde hid the gold. Now may I thus diffinisshe “hap.” Hap is an unwar bitydinge of causes assembled65 in thinges that ben don for som other thing. But thilke ordre, procedinge by an uneschuable bindinge to-gidere, which that[ ] descendeth fro the welle of purviaunce that ordeineth alle thinges in hir places and in hir tymes, maketh that the causes rennen and assemblen to-gidere.
Rupis Achemenie scopulis, ubi uersa sequentum.
Tigris and Eufrates resolven and springen of oo welle, in the cragges of the roche of the contree of Achemenie, ther-as the[ ] fleinge bataile ficcheth hir dartes, retorned in the brestes of hem[ ] that folwen hem. And sone after tho same riveres, Tigris and Eufrates, unioinen and departen hir wateres. And yif they comen[ ]5 to-gideres, and ben assembled and cleped to-gidere into o cours, thanne moten thilke thinges fleten to-gidere which that the water of the entrechaunginge flood bringeth. The shippes and the stokkes arraced with the flood moten assemblen; and the wateres[ ] y-medled wrappeth or implyeth many fortunel happes or maneres;10 the whiche wandringe happes, natheles, thilke declyninge lownesse of the erthe and the flowinge ordre of the slydinge water governeth. Right so Fortune, that semeth as that it fleteth with slaked or ungovernede brydles, it suffereth brydles, that is to seyn, to be[ ]governed, and passeth by thilke lawe, that is to seyn, bythilke15divyne ordenaunce.’
‘This understonde I wel,’ quod I , ‘and I acorde wel that it is right as thou seyst. But I axe yif ther be any libertee of free wil in this ordre of causes that clyven thus to-gidere in hem-self; or elles I wolde witen yif that the destinal cheyne constreineth the[ ]movinges of the corages of men?’5
34. The last clause, in the original, is in Greek.
‘Yis,’ quod she; ‘ther is libertee of free wil. Ne ther ne was nevere no nature of resoun that it ne hadde libertee of free wil. For every thing that may naturely usen resoun, it hath doom by which it decerneth and demeth every thing; thanne knoweth it, by it-self, thinges that ben to fleen and thinges that ben to desiren.[ ]10 And thilke thing that any wight demeth to ben desired, that axeth or desireth he; and fleeth thilke thing that he troweth ben to fleen. Wherfore in alle thinges that resoun is, in hem also is[ ] libertee of willinge and of nillinge. But I ne ordeyne nat, as who[ ]seyth, I ne graunte nat, that this libertee be evene-lyk in alle15 thinges. Forwhy in the sovereines devynes substaunces, that is[ ]to seyn, in spirits, Iugement is more cleer, and wil nat y-corumped ,[ ] and might redy to speden thinges that ben desired. But the soules of men moten nedes be more free whan they loken hem in20 the speculacioun or lokinge of the devyne thought, and lasse free whan they slyden in-to the bodies; and yit lasse free whan they ben gadered to-gidere and comprehended in erthely membres. But the laste servage is whan that they ben yeven to vyces, and han y-falle from the possessioun of hir propre resoun. For after25 that they han cast awey hir eyen fro the light of the sovereyn soothfastnesse to lowe thinges and derke, anon they derken by the cloude of ignoraunce and ben troubled by felonous talents; to the[ ] whiche talents whan they aprochen and asenten, they hepen and encresen the servage which they han ioyned to hem-self; and30 in this manere they ben caitifs fro hir propre libertee. The whiche[ ] thinges, nathelesse, the lokinge of the devyne purviaunce seeth, that alle thinges biholdeth and seeth fro eterne, and ordeineth hem everich in hir merites as they ben predestinat: and it is seyd in Greek, that “alle thinges he seeth and alle thinges he hereth.”[ ]
Puro clarum lumine Phebum.
Homer with the hony mouth, that is to seyn, Homer with the[ ]swete ditees, singeth, that the sonne is cleer by pure light; natheles yit ne may it nat, by the infirme light of his bemes, breken or percen the inwarde entrailes of the erthe, or elles of the see. So5 ne seeth nat god, maker of the grete world: to him, that loketh alle thinges from an heigh, ne withstondeth nat no thinges by hevinesse of erthe; ne the night ne withstondeth nat to him by the blake cloudes. Thilke god seeth, in oo strok of thought, alle[ ] thinges that ben, or weren, or sholle comen; and thilke god, for10 he loketh and seeth alle thinges alone, thou mayst seyn that he is the verray sonne.’
Tum ego, en, inquam.
Thanne seyde I, ‘now am I confounded by a more hard doute[ ] than I was.’
‘What doute is that?’ quod she. ‘For certes, I coniecte now by whiche thinges thou art troubled.’
‘It semeth,’ quod I, ‘to repugnen and to contrarien greetly,5 that god knoweth biforn alle thinges, and that ther is any freedom of libertee. For yif so be that god loketh alle thinges biforn, ne god ne may nat ben desseived in no manere, than mot it nedes been, that alle thinges bityden the whiche that the purviaunce of god hath seyn biforn to comen. For which, yif that god10 knoweth biforn nat only the werkes of men, but also hir conseiles and hir willes, thanne ne shal ther be no libertee of arbitre; ne,[ ] certes, ther ne may be noon other dede, ne no wil, but thilke which that the divyne purviaunce, that may nat ben desseived, hath feled biforn. For yif that they mighten wrythen awey in15 othre manere than they ben purveyed, than sholde ther be no stedefast prescience of thing to comen, but rather an uncertein opinioun; the whiche thing to trowen of god, I deme it felonye and unleveful. Ne I ne proeve nat thilke same resoun, as who[ ]seyth, I ne alowe nat, or I ne preyse nat, thilke same resoun, by20 which that som men wenen that they mowen assoilen and unknitten the knotte of this questioun. For, certes, they seyn that thing nis nat to comen for that the purviaunce of god hath seyn it biforn that is to comen, but rather the contrarye, and thatisthis: that, for that the thing is to comen, therfore ne may it25 nat ben hid fro the purviaunce of god; and in this manere this necessitee slydeth ayein in-to the contrarye partye: ne it ne bihoveth nat , nedes, that thinges bityden that ben purvyed , but it bihoveth, nedes, that thinges that ben to comen ben y-porveyed : but as it were y-travailed, as who seyth, that thilke answere[ ]30procedeth right as thogh men travaileden, or weren bisy to enqueren,the whiche thing is cause of the whiche thing:—as, whether the prescience is cause of the necessitee of thinges to comen, or elles that the necessitee of thinges to comen is cause of the purviaunce .35 But I ne enforce me nat now to shewen it , that the bitydinge of[ ] thinges y-wist biforn is necessarie, how so or in what manere that the ordre of causes hath it-self; al-thogh that it ne seme nat that the prescience bringe in necessitee of bitydinge to thinges to comen. For certes, yif that any wight sitteth, it bihoveth by40 necessitee that the opinioun be sooth of him that coniecteth that he sitteth; and ayeinward also is it of the contrarye: yif the opinioun be sooth of any wight for that he sitteth, it bihoveth by necessitee that he sitte. Thanne is heer necessitee in that oon and in that other: for in that oon is necessitee of sittinge, and,45 certes, in that other is necessitee of sooth. But therfore ne sitteth nat a wight, for that the opinioun of the sittinge is sooth; but the opinioun is rather sooth, for that a wight sitteth biforn. And thus, al-thogh that the cause of the sooth cometh of that other syde (as who seyth, that al-thogh the cause ofsooth comth50of the sitting, and nat of the trewe opinioun), algates yit is ther comune necessitee in that oon and in that other. Thus sheweth it, that I may make semblable skiles of the purviaunce of god and of thinges to comen. For althogh that, for that thinges ben[ ] to comen, ther-fore ben they purveyed, nat, certes, for that they55 ben purveyed, ther-fore ne bityde they nat. Yit natheles,[ ] bihoveth it by necessitee, that either the thinges to comen ben y-purveyed of god, or elles that the thinges that ben purveyed of god bityden . And this thing only suffiseth y-nough to destroyen the freedom of oure arbitre, that is to seyn, of oure free wil. But60 now, certes , sheweth it wel, how fer fro the sothe and how up-so-doun is this thing that we seyn, that the bitydinge of temporel thinges is cause of the eterne prescience. But for to wenen that god purvyeth the thinges to comen for they ben to comen, what other thing is it but for to wene that thilke thinges that bitidden65 whylom ben causes of thilke soverein purvyaunce that is in god? And her-to I adde yit this thing: that, right as whan that I wot that a thing is, it bihoveth by necessitee that thilke selve thing be; and eek, whan I have knowe that any thing shal bityden, so byhoveth it by necessitee that thilke thing bityde:—so folweth it thanne, that the bitydinge of the thing y-wist biforn ne may nat70 ben eschued. And at the laste , yif that any wight wene a thing[ ] to ben other weyes thanne it is, it is nat only unscience, but it is deceivable opinioun ful diverse and fer fro the sothe of science. Wherfore, yif any thing be so to comen, that the bitydinge of hit ne be nat certein ne necessarie, who may weten biforn that thilke75 thing is to comen? For right as science ne may nat ben medled with falsnesse (as who seyth, that yif I wot a thing, it ne may nat be false that I ne wot it), right so thilke thing that is conceived by[ ] science ne may nat ben non other weys than as it is conceived. For that is the cause why that science wanteth lesing (as who[ ]80seyth, why that witinge ne receiveth nat lesinge of that it wot); for it bihoveth, by necessitee, that every thing be right as science comprehendeth it to be. What shal I thanne seyn? In whiche manere knoweth god biforn the thinges to comen, yif they ne be nat certein? For yif that he deme that they ben to comen85uneschewably , and so may be that it is possible that they ne shollen nat comen, god is deceived . But nat only to trowen that god is deceived, but for to speke it with mouth, it is a felonous sinne. But yif that god wot that, right so as thinges ben to comen, so shullen they comen—so that he wite egaly, as who[ ]90seyth, indifferently, that thinges mowen ben doon or elles nat y-doon —what is thilke prescience that ne comprehendeth no certein thing ne stable? Or elles what difference is ther bitwixe the prescience and thilke Iape-worthy divyninge of Tiresie the[ ] divynour, that seyde: “Al that I seye,” quod he, “either it shal be,95 or elles it ne shal nat be?” Or elles how mochel is worth the devyne prescience more than the opinioun of mankinde, yif so be that it demeth the thinges uncertein, as men doon; of the whiche domes of men the bitydinge nis nat certein? But yif so be that non uncertein thing ne may ben in him that is right certein welle100 of alle thinges, thanne is the bitydinge certein of thilke thinges whiche he hath wist biforn fermely to comen. For which it folweth, that the freedom of the conseiles and of the werkes of mankind nis non, sin that the thoght of god, that seeth alle105 thinges without errour of falsnesse, bindeth and constreineth hem to a bitydinge by necessitee. And yif this thing be ones y-graunted and received , that is to seyn, that ther nis no free wille, than sheweth it wel, how greet destruccioun and how grete damages ther folwen of thinges of mankinde. For in ydel ben110 ther thanne purposed and bihight medes to gode folk, and peynes to badde folk, sin that no moevinge of free corage voluntarie ne hath nat deserved hem, that is to seyn, neither mede ne peyne; and it sholde seme thanne, that thilke thing is alderworst , which that is now demed for aldermost iust and most rightful, that is to seyn,115 that shrewes ben punisshed, or elles that gode folk ben y-gerdoned: the whiche folk, sin that hir propre wil ne sent hem nat to that oon[ ] ne to that other, that is to seyn, neither to gode ne to harm, but constreineth[ ] hem certein necessitee of thinges to comen: thanne ne shollen ther nevere ben, ne nevere weren, vyce ne vertu, but it120 sholde rather ben confusioun of alle desertes medled with-outen discrecioun. And yit ther folweth an-other inconvenient,of the[ ] whiche ther ne may ben thoght no more felonous ne more wikke; and that is this: that, so as the ordre of thinges is y-led and comth of the purviaunce of god, ne that no-thing nis leveful to125 the conseiles of mankinde (as who seyth, that men han no power to doon no-thing, ne wilne no-thing), than folweth it, that oure vyces ben referred to the maker of alle good (as who seyth, than folweth it, that god oughte han the blame of oure vyces, sin he constreinethusby necessitee to doon vyces). Thanne is ther no resoun to hopenin130god, ne for to preyen to god; for what sholde any wight hopen to god, or why sholde he preyen to god, sin that the ordenaunce of[ ] destinee, which that ne may nat ben inclyned, knitteth and streineth alle thinges that men may desiren? Thanne sholde ther be doon awey thilke only allyaunce bitwixen god and men, that is to seyn, to hopen and to preyen . But by the prys of rightwisnesse and of135 verray mekenesse we deserven the gerdoun of the divyne grace, which that is inestimable, that is to seyn, that it is so greet, that it ne may nat ben ful y-preysed. And this is only the manere, that is to seyn, hope and preyeres, for which it semeth that men mowen speke with god, and by resoun of supplicacioun be conioined to140 thilke cleernesse, that nis nat aproched no rather or that men[ ] beseken it and impetren it. And yif men wene nat that hope ne[ ] preyeres ne han no strengthes, by the necessitee of thinges to comen y-received , what thing is ther thanne by whiche we mowen ben conioined and clyven to thilke soverein prince of thinges?145 For which it bihoveth, by necessitee, that the linage of mankinde,[ ] as thou songe a litel her-biforn , be departed and unioined from[ ] his welle, and failen of his biginninge, that is to seyn, god.
Quenam discors federa rerum.
What discordable cause hath to-rent and unioined the bindinge,[ ]or the alliaunce, of thinges, that is to seyn, theconiuncciounof god[ ]andman ? Whiche god hath establisshed so greet bataile bitwixen[ ] thise two soothfast or verray thinges, that is to seyn, bitwixen the purviaunce of god and free wil, that they ben singuler5 and devyded , ne that they ne wolen nat be medeled ne coupled to-gidere? But ther nis no discord to the verray thinges , but they[ ]clyven , certein, alwey to hem-self. But the thought of man, confounded and overthrowen by the dirke membres of the body, ne may nat, by fyr of his derked looking, that is to seyn, by the vigour[ ]10of his insighte, whyl the soule is in the body, knowe the thinne subtil knittinges of thinges. But wherfore enchaufeth it so, by so[ ] greet love, to finden thilke notes of sooth y-covered; that is to seyn, wherfore enchaufeth the thoght of man by so greet desyr to15knowen thilke notificacions that ben y-hid under the covertoures of sooth? Wot it aught thilke thing that it, anguissous, desireth to[ ] knowe? As who seith, nay; for no man travaileth for to witen thinges that he wot. And therfore the texte seiththus : but who[ ] travaileth to witen thinges y-knowe? And yif that he ne knoweth20 hem nat, what seketh thilke blinde thoght? What is he that desireth any thing of which he wot right naught? As who seith, who so desireth any thing, nedes, somwhat he knoweth of it; or elles, he ne coude nat desire it. Or who may folwen thinges that ne[ ] ben nat y-wist? And thoghthathe seke tho thinges, wher shal he25 finde hem? What wight, that is al unconninge and ignoraunt, may knowen the forme that is y-founde ? But whan the soule[ ] biholdeth and seeth the heye thoght, that is to seyn, god, than knoweth it to-gidere the somme and the singularitees, that is to seyn, theprinciplesand everich by him-self.
30But now, whyl the soule is hid in the cloude and in the derkenesse of the membres of the body, it ne hath nat al for-yeten it-self, but it with-holdeth the somme of thinges, and leseth the[ ] singularitees. Thanne, who-so that seeketh soothnesse, he nis in neither nother habite ; for he noot nat al, ne he ne hath nat al[ ]35 foryeten: but yit him remembreth the somme of thinges that he with-holdeth, and axeth conseil, and retreteth deepliche thinges[ ] y-seyn biforn, that is to seyn, the grete somme in his minde: so that he mowe adden the parties that he hath for-yeten to thilke that he hath with-holden.’
Tum illa: Vetus, inquit, hec est.
Thanne seide she: ‘this is,’ quod she, ‘the olde question of the purviaunce of god; and Marcus Tullius, whan he devyded the[ ] divynaciouns, that is to seyn, in his book that he wroot of divynaciouns, he moevede gretly this questioun; and thou thy-self has y-sought it mochel, and outrely, and longe; but yit ne hath it nat ben5 determined ne y-sped fermely and diligently of any of yow. And the cause of this derkenesse and of this difficultee is, for that the moevinge of the resoun of mankinde ne may nat moeven to (that[ ]is to seyn, applyen or ioinen to) the simplicitee of the devyne prescience; the whiche simplicitee of the devyne prescience, yif10 that men mighten thinken it in any maner, that is to seyn, that yif menmighten thinken and comprehenden the thinges as god seeth hem, thanne ne sholde ther dwellen outrely no doute: the whiche resoun and cause of difficultee I shal assaye at the laste to shewe and to speden, whan I have first y-spended and answered to tho[ ]15 resouns by which thou art y-moeved. For I axe why thou wenest that thilke resouns of hem that assoilen this questioun ne ben nat speedful y-nough ne sufficient: the whiche solucioun, or the whiche resoun, for that it demeth that the prescience nis nat cause of necessitee to thinges to comen, than ne weneth it nat that20 freedom of wil be destorbed or y-let by prescience. For ne drawestow nat arguments from elles-where of the necessitee of[ ] thinges to-comen (as who seith, any other wey than thus) but that thilke thinges that the prescience wot biforn ne mowen nat unbityde?[ ]That is to seyn, that they moten bityde. But thanne, yif25 that prescience ne putteth no necessitee to thinges to comen, as thou thy-self hast confessed it and biknowen a litel her-biforn, what[ ] cause or what is it (as who seith, ther may no cause be) by which[ ] that the endes voluntarie of thinges mighten be constreined to certein bitydinge? For by grace of positioun , so that thou mowe[ ]30 the betere understonde this that folweth, I pose, per impossibile ,[ ] that ther be no prescience. Thanne axe I,’ quod she, ‘in as mochel as apertieneth to that, sholden thanne thinges that comen of free wil ben constreined to bityden by necessitee?’
Boece. ‘Nay,’ quod I.35
‘Thanne ayeinward,’ quod she, ‘I suppose that ther be prescience, but that it ne putteth no necessitee to thinges; thanne trowe I, that thilke selve freedom of wil shal dwellen al hool and absolut and unbounden. But thou wolt seyn that, al-be-it so that40 prescience nis nat cause of the necessitee of bitydinge to thinges to comen, algates yit it is a signe that the thinges ben to bityden by necessitee. By this manere thanne, al-thogh the prescience ne hadde never y-ben, yit algate or at the leeste weye it is certein thing, that the endesand bitydinges of thinges to comen sholden45 ben necessarie. For every signe sheweth and signifyeth only what the thing is , but it ne maketh nat the thing that it signifyeth. For which it bihoveth first to shewen, that no-thing ne bitydeth that it ne bitydeth by necessitee, so that it may appere that the prescience is signe of this necessitee ; or elles, yif ther nere no necessitee,50 certes, thilke prescience ne mighte nat be signe of thing that nis nat. But certes, it is now certein that the proeve of this, y-sustened by stidefast resoun, ne shal nat ben lad ne proeved by signes ne by arguments y-taken fro with-oute, but by causes covenable and necessarie. But thou mayst seyn, how may it be55 that the thinges ne bityden nat that ben y-purveyed to comen? But, certes, right as we trowen that tho thinges which that the[ ] purviance wot biforn to comen ne ben nat to bityden; but that ne sholden we nat demen; but rather, al-thogh that they shal bityden, yit ne have they no necessitee of hir kinde to bityden.60 And this maystow lightly aperceiven by this that I shal seyn. For we seen many thinges whan they ben don biforn oure eyen, right as men seen the cartere worken in the torninge or atempringe or[ ] adressinge of hise cartes or charietes . And by this manere (as[ ]who seith,maystowunderstonde) of alle othere workmen. Is ther65 thanne any necessitee, as who seith, in oure lokinge,that constreineth or compelleth any of thilke thinges to ben don so ?’
Boece. ‘Nay,’ quod I; ‘for in ydel and in veyn were al the effect of craft, yif that alle thinges weren moeved by constreininge;’ that is to seyn, by constreininge of oure eyen or of oure sight.
131. HereA.wrongly inserts a clause omitted above (91-93).
70Philosophie. ‘The thinges thanne,’ quod she, ‘that, whan men doon hem, ne han no necessitee that men doon hem, eek tho same thinges, first or they ben doon, they ben to comen with-oute necessitee. For-why ther ben somme thinges to bityden, of which the endes and the bitydinges of hem ben absolut and quit of alle necessitee. For certes, I ne trowe nat that any man wolde seyn75 this: that tho thinges that men doon now, that they ne weren to bityden first or they weren y-doon; and thilke same thinges, al-thogh that men had y-wist hem biforn, yit they han free bitydinges. For right as science of thinges present ne bringeth in no necessitee to thinges that men doon, right so the prescience of80thinges to comen ne bringeth in no necessitee to thinges to bityden. But thou mayst seyn, that of thilke same it is y-douted, as whether that of thilke thinges that ne han non issues and bitydinges necessaries, yif ther-of may ben any prescience; for certes, they semen to discorden. For thou wenest that, yif that85 thinges ben y-seyn biforn, that necessitee folweth hem; and yif necessitee faileth hem, they ne mighten nat ben wist biforn, and that no-thing ne may ben comprehended by science but certein; and yif tho thinges that ne han no certein bitydinges ben purveyed as certein, it sholde ben dirknesse of opinioun, nat soothfastnesse90 of science. And thou wenest that it be diverse fro the hoolnesse of science that any man sholde deme a thing to ben other-weys thanne it is it-self . And the cause of this erroure is, that of alle the thinges that every wight hath y-knowe, they wenen that tho thinges been y-knowe al-oonly by the strengthe and by the nature95 of the thinges that ben y-wist or y-knowe; and it is al the contrarie. For al that ever is y-knowe, it is rather comprehended and knowen, nat after his strengthe and his nature, but after the facultee, that is to seyn, the power andthenature, of hem that knowen. And, for that this thing shal mowen shewen by a short[ ]100 ensaumple: the same roundnesse of a body, other-weys the sighte[ ] of the eye knoweth it, and other-weyes the touchinge. The lokinge, by castinge of his bemes, waiteth and seeth from afer al the body to-gidere, with-oute moevinge of it-self; but the touchinge clyveth and conioineth to the rounde body , and moeveth aboute105 the environinge, and comprehendeth by parties the roundnesse. And the man him-self, other-weys wit biholdeth him, and[ ] other-weys imaginacioun, and other-weys resoun, and other-weys intelligence. For the wit comprehendeth withoute-forth the110 figure of the body of the man that is establissed in the matere subiect; but the imaginacioun comprehendethonly the figure withoute the matere. Resoun surmounteth imaginacioun , and comprehendeth by universal lokinge the comune spece that[ ] is in the singuler peces. But the eye of intelligence is heyere; for[ ]115 it surmounteth the environinge of the universitee, and looketh,[ ] over that, by pure subtilitee of thoght, thilke same simple forme of man that is perdurably in the divyne thoght. In whiche this oughte greetly to ben considered, that the heyeste strengthe to comprehenden thinges enbraseth and contieneth the lowere120 strengthe; but the lowere strengthe ne aryseth nat in no manere to heyere strengthe . For wit ne may no-thing comprehende out of matere, ne the imaginacioun ne loketh nat the universels speces, ne resoun taketh nat the simple forme so as intelligence takethit ; but intelligence, that looketh al aboven, whan it hath125 comprehended the forme, it knoweth and demeth alle the thinges that ben under that forme. But sheknoweth hemin thilke manere in the whiche it comprehendeth thilke same simple forme that ne may never ben knowen to none of that other; that is to seyn, to none of tho three forseide thinges of the sowle. For it knoweth130 the universitee of resoun, and the figure of the imaginacioun, and the sensible material conceived by wit; ne it ne useth nat nor of resoun ne of imaginacioun ne of wit withoute-forth; but it biholdeth alle thinges, so as I shal seye, by a strok of thought[ ] formely, withoute discours or collacioun. Certes resoun, whan it135 looketh any-thing universel, it ne useth nat of imaginacioun, nor of witte, and algates yit itcomprehendeth the thinges imaginable and sensible; for resoun is she that diffinisseth the universel of hir[ ] conseyte right thus:—man is a resonable two-foted beest. And how so that this knowinge is universel, yet nis ther no wight that ne woot wel that a man is a thing imaginable and sensible; and140 this same considereth wel resoun; but that nis nat by imaginacioun nor by wit, but it looketh it by a resonable concepcioun. Also imaginacioun, al-be-it so that it taketh of wit the beginninges to seen and to formen the figures, algates, al-thogh that wit ne were nat present, yit it environeth and comprehendeth alle thinges145 sensible; nat by resoun sensible of deminge, but by resoun imaginatif. Seestow nat thanne that alle the thinges, in knowinge, usen more of hir facultee or of hir power than they doon of the facultee or power of thinges that ben y-knowe? Ne that nis nat wrong; for so as every Iugement is the dede or doinge of him150 that demeth, it bihoveth that every wight performe the werk and his entencioun, nat of foreine power, but of his propre power.
Quondam porticus attulit.
The Porche, that is to seyn, a gate of the town of Athenes ther-as[ ]philosophres hadden hir congregacioun to desputen, thilke Porche broughte som-tyme olde men, ful derke in hir sentences, that is to seyn, philosophres that highten Stoiciens, that wenden that images and sensibilitees, that is to seyn, sensible imaginaciouns, or elles5imaginaciouns of sensible thinges, weren empreinted in-to sowles fro bodies withoute-forth; as who seith, that thilke Stoiciens wenden that the sowle hadde ben naked of it-self, as a mirour or a clene parchemin, so that alle figures mostenfirstcomen fro thinges fro withoute-forth in-to sowles, and benempreintedin-to sowles: Text:[ ]10 right as we ben wont som-tyme, by a swifte pointel, to ficchen[ ] lettres empreinted in the smothenesse or in the pleinnesse of the table of wex or in parchemin that ne hath no figure ne note in it. Glose. But now argueth Boece ayeinsthatopinioun, and seith thus: But yif the thryvinge sowle ne unpleyteth no-thing, that is[ ]15to seyn, ne doth no-thing, by his propre moevinges, but suffreth and lyth subgit to tho figures and to tho notes of bodies withoute-forth, and yildeth images ydel and veyn in the manere of a mirour, whennes thryveth thanne or whennes comth thilke knowinge in20 our sowle, that discerneth and biholdeth alle thinges? And whennes is thilke strengthe that biholdeth the singuler thinges; or whennes is the strengthe that devydeth thinges y-knowe; and thilke strengthe that gadereth to-gidere the thinges devyded; and the strengthe that cheseth his entrechaunged wey? For som-tyme25 it heveth up the heved, that is to seyn, that it heveth up the entencioun to rightheye thinges ; and som-tyme it descendeth in-to right lowe thinges . And whan it retorneth in-to him-self, it reproeveth and destroyeth the false thinges by the trewe thinges. Certes, this strengthe is cause more efficient, and mochel30 more mighty to seen and to knowe thinges, than thilke cause that suffreth and receiveth the notes and the figures impressed in maner of matere. Algates the passioun, that is to seyn,[ ]the suffraunce or the wit, in the quike body, goth biforn, excitinge and moevinge the strengthes of the thought. Right so as whan that35 cleernesse smyteth the eyen and moeveth hem to seen, or right so as vois or soun hurteleth to the eres and commoeveth hem to herkne, than is the strengthe of the thought y-moeved and excited, and clepeth forth, to semblable moevinges, the speces that it halt with-inne it-self; and addeth tho speces to the notes40 and to the thinges withoute-forth, and medleth the images of thinges withoute-forth to tho formes y-hidde with-inne him-self.
Quod si in corporibus sentiendis.
6, 7. A.om. goth . . . suffraunce.
But what yif that in bodies to ben feled, that is to seyn, in the[ ]takinge of knowelechinge of bodily thinges, and al-be-it so that the qualitees of bodies, that ben obiecte fro withoute-forth, moeven and entalenten the instruments of the wittes; and al-be-it so that[ ]5 the passioun of the body, that is to seyn, thewitor thesuffraunce, goth to-forn the strengthe of the workinge corage, the which passioun or suffraunce clepeth forth the dede of the thoght in him-self, and moeveth and exciteth in this mene whyle the formes that resten withinne-forth; and yif that, in sensible bodies, as I have seyd, our corage nis nat y-taught or empreinted by passioun to10knowe thise thinges, but demeth and knoweth, of his owne strengthe, the passioun or suffraunce subiect to the body: moche more thanne tho thinges that ben absolut and quite fro alle talents or affecciouns of bodies, as god or his aungeles, ne folwen nat in discerninge thinges obiect fro withoute-forth, but they accomplisshen15 and speden the dede of hir thoght. By this resoun thanne ther comen many maner knowinges to dyverse and differinge substaunces. For the wit of the body, the whiche[ ] wit is naked and despoiled of alle other knowinges, thilke wit comth to beestes that ne mowen nat moeven hem-self her and20ther , as oystres andmuscules , and other swiche shelle-fish of the[ ] see, that clyven and ben norisshed to roches. But the imaginacioun comth to remuable beestes, that semen to han talent to[ ] fleen or to desiren any thing. But resoun is al-only to the linage of mankinde, right as intelligence is only [to] the devyne nature:25 of which it folweth, that thilke knowinge is more worth than thise othre , sin it knoweth by his propre nature nat only his subiect, as who seith, it ne knoweth nat al-only that apertieneth properly to his knowinge, but it knoweth the subiects of alle other knowinges. But how shal it thanne be, yif that wit and imaginacioun stryven[ ]30 ayein resoninge, and seyn, that of thilke universel thing that resoun weneth to seen, that it nis right naught? For wit and imaginacioun seyn that that, that is sensible or imaginable, it ne[ ] may nat be universel. Thanne is either the Iugement of resoun sooth , ne that ther nis nothing sensible ; or elles, for that resoun[ ]35 wot wel that many thinges ben subiect to wit and to imaginacioun, thanne is the concepcioun of resoun veyn and false, which that loketh and comprehendeth that that is sensible and singuler as universel. And yif that resoun wolde answeren ayein to thise two, that is to seyn, to witte and to imaginacioun, and seyn, that40 soothly she hir-self, that is toseyn , resoun, loketh and comprehendeth, by resoun of universalitee, bothe that that is sensible and that that is imaginable; and that thilke two, that is to seyn, wit and imaginacioun, ne mowen nat strecchen ne enhansen hem-self45 to the knowinge of universalitee, for that the knowinge of hem ne may exceden ne surmounte the bodily figures : certes, of the knowinge of thinges, men oughten rather yeven credence to the more stedefast and to the more parfit Iugement. In this maner stryvinge thanne, we that han strengthe of resoninge and[ ]50 of imagininge and of wit, that is to seyn, by resoun and by imaginacioun and by wit,we sholde rather preyse the cause of resoun; as who seith, than the cause of witand ofimaginacioun.
Semblable thing is it, that the resoun of mankinde ne weneth nat that the devyne intelligence bi-holdeth or knoweth thinges to55 comen, but right as the resoun of mankinde knoweth hem. For thou arguest and seyst thus: that yif it ne seme nat to men that some thinges han certein and necessarie bitydinges, they ne mowen nat ben wist biforn certeinly to bityden. And thanne nis ther no prescience of thilke thinges; and yif we trowe that60 prescience be in thise thinges, thanne is ther no-thing that it ne bitydeth by necessitee. But certes, yif we mighten han the Iugement of the devyne thoght, as we ben parsoneres of resoun, right[ ] so as we han demed that it behoveth that imaginacioun and wit be binethe resoun, right so wolde we demen that it were rightful65 thing, that mannes resoun oughte to submitten it-self and to ben binethe the divyne thoght. For which, yif that we mowen, as[ ]who seith, that, yif that we mowen, I counseyle, that we enhanse us in-to the heighte of thilke sovereyn intelligence; for ther shal resoun wel seen that, that it ne may nat biholden in it-self. And70 certes that is this, in what maner the prescience of god seeth alle thinges certeins and diffinisshed , al-thogh they ne han no certein issues or bitydinges; ne this is non opinioun, but it is rather the simplicitee of the sovereyn science, that nis nat enclosed nor y-shet within none boundes.
Quam uariis terris animalia permeant figuris.
The beestes passen by the erthes by ful diverse figures. For[ ] som of hem han hir bodies straught and crepen in the dust, and drawen after hem a tras or a foruhy-continued ; that is to seyn, asnadresor snakes. And other beestes, by the wandringe lightnesse of hir winges, beten the windes, and over-swimmen the spaces of5 the longe eyr by moist fleeinge. And other beestes gladen hemself[ ] to diggen hir tras or hir steppes in the erthe with hir goings[ ] or with hir feet, and to goon either by the grene feldes , or elles to walken under the wodes. And al-be-it so that thou seest that[ ] they alle discorden by diverse formes, algates hir faces , enclined ,[ ]10 hevieth hir dulle wittes. Only the linage of man heveth heyeste[ ] his heye heved, and stondeth light with his up-right body, and[ ] biholdeth the erthes under him. And , but-yif thou, erthely man, wexest yvel out of thy wit, this figure amonesteth thee, that axest[ ] the hevene with thy righte visage, and hast areysed thy fore-heved,15 to beren up a-heigh thy corage; so that thy thoght ne be nat y-hevied ne put lowe under fote, sin that thy body is so heye areysed.
Quoniam igitur, uti paullo ante.
Therfor thanne, as I have shewed a litel her-biforn, that al thing that is y-wist nis nat knowen by his nature propre, but by the nature of hem that comprehenden it, lat us loke now, in as mochel as it is leveful to us, as who seith, lat us loke now as we mowen, which that the estat is of the devyne substaunce; so that5 we mowen eek knowen what his science is. The commune Iugement of alle creatures resonables thanne is this: that god is eterne. Lat us considere thanne what is eternitee; for certes that shal shewen us to-gidere the devyne nature and the devyne science.
Eternitee, thanne, is parfit possessioun and al-togidere of lyf10 interminable; and that sheweth more cleerly by the comparisour or the collacioun of temporel thinges. For al thing that liveth in tyme it is present, and procedeth fro preterits in-to futures, that is to seyn, fro tyme passed in-to tyme cominge; ne ther nis no-thing15 establisshed in tyme that may enbracen to-gider al the space of his lyf. For certes, yit ne hath it taken the tyme of to-morwe , and it hath lost the tyme of yisterday. And certes, in the lyf of this day, ye ne liven no more but right as in the moevable and transitorie moment. Thanne thilke thing that suffreth temporel20 condicioun, al-thogh that it never bigan to be, ne thogh it never cese for to be, as Aristotle demed of the world, and al-thogh that[ ] the lyf of it be strecched with infinitee of tyme, yit algates nis it no swich thing that men mighten trowen by right that it is eterne. For al-thogh that it comprehende and embrace the space25 of lyf infinit, yit algates ne embraceth it nat the space of the lyf al-togider; for it ne hath nat the futures that ne ben nat yit, ne it ne hath no lenger the preterits that ben y-doon or y-passed. But thilke thing thanne, that hath and comprehendeth to-gider al the plentee of the lyf interminable, to whom ther ne faileth naught of30 the future, and to whom ther nis naught of the preterit escaped nor y-passed, thilke same is y-witnessedand y-proeved by right to be eterne. And it bihoveth by necessitee that thilke thing be al-wey[ ] present to him-self, and compotent; as who seith, al-wey present to him-self, and so mighty that al be right at hisplesaunce ;35 and that he have al present the infinitee of the moevable tyme. Wher-for som men trowen wrongfully that, whan they heren that it semede to Plato that this world ne hadde never beginninge of tyme, ne that it never shal han failinge, they wenen in this maner that this world be maked coeterne with his maker; as who40seith, they wene that this world and god ben maked togider eterne, andthatis a wrongful weninge. For other thing is it to ben y-lad by lyf interminable, as Plato graunted to the world, and other[ ] thing is it to embrace to-gider al the present of the lyf interminable, the whiche thing it is cleer and manifest that it is propre to the45 devyne thoght.
Ne it ne sholde nat semen to us, that god is elder thanne thinges that ben y-maked by quantitee of tyme, but rather by the propretee of his simple nature. For this ilke infinit moevinge[ ] of temporel thinges folweth this presentarie estat of lyf unmoevable; and so as it ne may nat countrefeten it ne feynen it ne be even-lyke50 to it for the inmoevabletee, that is to seyn, that is in the eternitee of god, it faileth and falleth in-to moevinge fro the simplicitee of the presence of god, and disencreseth in-to the infinit[ ] quantitee of future and of preterit: and so as it ne may nat han to-gider al the plentee of the lyf, algates yit, for as moche as it55 ne ceseth never for to ben in som maner, it semeth som-del to us, that it folweth and resembleth thilke thing that it ne may nat atayne to ne fulfillen, and bindeth it-self to som maner presence of this litel and swifte moment: the which presence of this litel and swifte moment, for that it bereth a maner image or lyknesse60 of the ay-dwellinge presence of god, it graunteth, to swiche maner thinges as it bitydeth to, that it semeth hem as thise thinges han y-ben, and ben.
And, for thatthe presence of swich litel moment ne may nat dwelle, ther-for it ravisshed and took the infinit wey of tyme, that[ ]65is to seyn, by successioun; and by this maner is it y-doon, for that it sholde continue the lyf in goinge, of the whiche lyf it ne mighte nat enbrace the plentee in dwellinge. And for-thy, yif we wollen putten worthy names to thinges, and folwen Plato, lat us seye thanne soothly, that god is eterne, and the world is perpetuel.70 Thanne, sin that every Iugement knoweth and comprehendeth by his owne nature thinges that ben subject un-to him, ther is soothly to god, al-weys , an eterne and presentarie estat; and the science of him, that over-passeth al temporel moevement, dwelleth in the simplicitee of his presence, and embraceth and considereth alle75 the infinit spaces of tymes, preterits and futures, and loketh, in his simple knowinge, alle thinges of preterit right as they weren y-doon presently right now. Yif thou wolt thanne thenken and avyse the prescience, by which it knoweth alle thinges, thou ne shal nat demen it as prescience of thinges to comen, but thou80 shalt demen it more rightfully that it is science of presence or of[ ] instaunce, that never ne faileth. For which it nis nat y-cleped[ ] “previdence ,” but it sholde rather ben cleped “purviaunce,” that is establisshed ful fer fro right lowe thinges, and biholdeth from85 a-fer alle thinges, right as it were fro the heye heighte of thinges.
Why axestow thanne, or why desputestow thanne, that thilke[ ] thinges ben doon by necessitee whiche that ben y-seyn and knowen by the devyne sighte, sin that, forsothe, men ne maken nat thilke thinges necessarie which that they seen ben y-doon in90 hir sighte? For addeth thy biholdinge any necessitee to thilke thinges that thou biholdest presente?’
‘Nay,’ quod I.
Philosophie. ‘Certes, thanne, if men mighte maken any digne comparisoun or collacioun of the presence devyne and of the95 presence of mankinde, right so as ye seen some thinges in this temporel present, right so seeth god alle thinges by his eterne present. Wher-fore this devyne prescience ne chaungeth nat the nature ne the propretee of thinges, but biholdeth swiche thinges present to him-ward as they shullen bityde to yow-ward in tyme100 to comen. Ne it confoundeth nat the Iugement of thinges; but by o sighte of his thought, he knoweth the thinges to comen, as wel necessarie as nat necessarie. Right so as whan ye seen to-gider a man walken on the erthe and the sonne arysen in the hevene, al-be-it so that ye seen and biholden that oon and105 that other to-gider, yit natheles ye demen and discernen that that oon is voluntarie and that other necessarie. Right so thanne the devyne lookinge, biholdinge alle thinges under him, ne troubleth nat the qualitee of thinges that ben certeinly present to him-ward; but, as to the condicioun of tyme, forsothe, they ben future. For110 which it folweth, that this nis noon opinioun, but rather a stedefast knowinge, y-strengthed by soothnesse, that, whanne that god knoweth anything to be, he ne unwot nat that thilke thing wanteth[ ] necessitee to be; this is to seyn, that, whan that god knoweth any thing to bityde, he wot wel that it ne hath no necessitee to bityde.
115And yif thou seyst heer, that thilke thing that god seeth to bityde, it ne may nat unbityde (as who seith, it motbityde ), and[ ] thilke thing that ne may nat unbityde it mot bityde by necessitee, and that thou streyne me by this name of necessitee: certes, I wol wel confessen and biknowe a thing of ful sad trouthe, but[ ] unnethe shal ther any wight moweseen it or come ther-to, but-yif120 that he be biholder of the devyne thoght. For I wol answeren thee thus: that thilke thing that is future, whan it is referred to the devyne knowinge, thanne is it necessarie; but certes, whan it is understonden in his owne kinde, men seen it is outrely free, and absolut fro alle necessitee.125
For certes, ther ben two maneres of necessitee. That oon necessitee is simple, as thus: that it bihoveth by necessitee, that alle men be mortal or deedly. Another necessitee is conditionel, as thus: yif thou wost that a man walketh, it bihoveth by necessitee that he walke. Thilke thing thanne that any wight hath y-knowe130 to be, it ne may ben non other weyes thanne he knoweth it to be. But this condicioun ne draweth nat with hir thilke necessitee simple. For certes, this necessitee conditionel, the propre nature of it ne maketh it nat , but the adieccioun of the condicioun maketh it. For no necessitee ne constreyneth a man to gon,135 that goth by his propre wil; al-be-it so that, whan he goth, that it is necessarie that he goth. Right on this same maner thanne, yif that the purviaunce of god seeth any thing present, than mot thilke thing ben by necessitee, al-thogh that it ne have no necessitee of his owne nature. But certes, the futures that140 bityden by freedom of arbitre, god seeth hem alle to-gider present . Thise thinges thanne, yif they ben referred to the devyne sighte, thanne ben they maked necessarie by the condicioun of the devyne knowinge. But certes, yif thilke thinges be considered by hem-self, they ben absolut of necessitee, and ne forleten nat ne145 cesen nat of the libertee of hir owne nature. Thanne, certes, with-oute doute, alle the thinges shollen ben doon which that god wot biforn that they ben to comen. But som of hem comen and bityden of free arbitre or of free wille, that, al-be-it so that they bityden, yit algates ne lese they nat hir propre nature in[ ]150 beinge; by the which first, or that they weren y-doon, they hadden power nat to han bitid.’
Boece. ‘What is this to seyn thanne,’ quod I, ‘that thinges ne ben nat necessarie by hir propre nature, so as they comen in alle[ ]155 maneres in the lyknesse of necessitee by the condicioun of the devyne science?’
Philosophie. ‘This is the difference,’ quod she; ‘that tho thinges that I purposede thee a litel heer-biforn, that is to seyn, the sonne arysinge and the man walkinge, that, ther-whyles that[ ]160 thilke thinges been y-doon, they ne mighte nat ben undoon; natheles, that oon of hem, or it was y-doon, it bihoved by necessitee that it was y-doon, but nat that other. Right so is it here, that the thinges that god hath present, with-oute doute they shollen been. But som of hem descendeth of the nature of165 thinges, as the sonne arysinge; and som descendeth of the power of the doeres, as the man walkinge. Thanne seide I no wrong, that yif these thinges ben referred to the devyne knowinge, thanne ben they necessarie; and yif they ben considered by hem-self, thanne ben they absolut fro the bond of necessitee. Right so as170 alle thinges that apereth or sheweth to the wittes, yif thou referre it to resoun, it is universel; and yif thou referre it or loke it to it-self, than is it singuler. But now, yif thou seyst thus, that yif it be in my power to chaunge my purpos, than shal I voide the purviaunce of god, whan that, peraventure, I shal han chaunged175 the thinges that he knoweth biforn, thanne shal I answere thee thus. Certes, thou mayst wel chaunge thy purpos; but, for as mochel as the present soothnesse of the devyne purviaunce biholdeth that thou mayst chaunge thy purpos, and whether thou wolt chaunge it or no, and whiderward that thou torne it, thou ne180 mayst nat eschuen the devyne prescience; right as thou ne mayst nat fleen the sighte of the presente eye, al-though that thou torne thy-self by thy free wil in-to dyverse acciouns. But thou mayst seyn ayein: “How shal it thanne be? Shal nat the devyne science be chaunged by my disposicioun, whan that I wol o thing185 now, and now another? And thilke prescience, ne semeth it nat[ ] to entrechaunge stoundes of knowinge ;” ’ as who seith, ne shal it nat seme to us, that the devyne prescience entrechaungeth hise dyverse stoundes of knowinge, so that it knowe sum-tyme o thing and sumtyme the contrarieof that thing?
‘No, forsothe,’ quod I .190
Philosophie. ‘For the devyne sighte renneth to-form and seeth alle[ ] futures, and clepeth hem ayein, and retorneth hem to the presence of his propre knowinge; ne he ne entrechaungeth nat, so as thou[ ] wenest, the stoundes of forknowinge, as now this, now that; but he ay-dwellinge comth biforn, and embraceth at o strook alle thy195 mutaciouns. And this presence to comprehenden and to seen alle thinges, god ne hath nat taken it of the bitydinge of thinges to come, but of his propre simplicitee. And her-by is assoiled thilke thing that thou puttest a litel her-biforn, that is to seyn,[ ] that it is unworthy thing to seyn, that our futures yeven cause of200 the science of god. For certes, this strengthe of the devyne science, which that embraceth alle thinges by his presentarie knowinge, establissheth maner to alle thinges, and it ne oweth naught to latter thinges; and sin that these thinges ben thus, that is to seyn, sin that necessitee nis nat in thinges by the devyne205prescience , than is ther freedom of arbitre, that dwelleth hool and unwemmed to mortal men. Ne the lawes ne purposen nat[ ] wikkedly medes and peynes to the willinges of men that ben[ ] unbounden and quite of alle necessitee. And god, biholder and for-witer of alle thinges, dwelleth above; and the present eternitee210 of his sighte renneth alwey with the dyverse qualitee of oure[ ] dedes, despensinge and ordeyninge medes to goode men, and torments to wikked men. Ne in ydel ne in veyn ne ben ther nat put in god hope and preyeres, that ne mowen nat ben unspeedful[ ] ne with-oute effect, whan they ben rightful.215
Withstond thanne and eschue thou vyces; worshipe and love thou virtues; areys thy corage to rightful hopes; yilde thou[ ] humble preyeres a-heigh . Gret necessitee of prowesse and vertu is encharged and commaunded to yow, yif ye nil nat dissimulen; sin that ye worken and doon, that is to seyn, your dedes or your[ ]220workes, biforn the eyen of the Iuge that seeth and demeth alle thinges.’ To whom be glorye and worshipe by infinit tymes.Amen .[Back to Table of Contents]
TROILUS AND CRISEYDE.[Back to Table of Contents]
The MSS. are:—Cl. (= Campsall MS.), and Cp. (= Corp. Chr. Camb. 61), taken as the basis of the text; H. (= Harl. 2280); H2. (= Harl. 3943); Cm. (= Cambridge MS. Gg. 4. 27); Ed. (= printed edition, 1532).
1-70. Lost in Cm. and H2. (where it is supplied in late hand).
Explicit Liber Primus.[Back to Table of Contents]
Rubric.So Cp. H. 1-84. Lost in Cm.
Incipit prohemium Secundi Libri.
Explicit prohemium Secundi Libri.
Incipit Liber Secundus.
Explicit Secundus Liber.[Back to Table of Contents]
1-56. Lost in Cm.
Incipit Prohemium Tercii Libri.
Explicit prohemium Tercii Libri.
Incipit Liber Tercius.
Explicit Liber Tercius.[Back to Table of Contents]
Title.Not in the MSS.
C.has lost ll. 1-112.
Explicit Liber Quartus.[Back to Table of Contents]
1-35. Cm. omits.
Explicit Liber Troili et Criseydis.
NOTES TO BOETHIUS.
[Back to Table of Contents]
NOTES TO TROILUS
I must refer the student to Mr. Rossetti’s work (Chaucer Soc. 1875) for a detailed comparison of Chaucer’s poem with the Filostrato of Boccaccio. The following table roughly indicates the portions of these works which are more or less similar, down to the end of Book I. Similar tables are prefixed to the Notes on the other books. It often happens that a stanza in Chaucer has a mere general resemblance to the corresponding one in Boccaccio. The lines in Chaucer not mentioned below are, in the main, original; e. g. 1-20, 31-56, &c.; and so are many others that cannot be here more exactly specified.
The chief correspondences are shewn in the following table.
Other passages are mainly original; as, e. g. ll. 1352-1757 at the end, and 1-264 at the beginning.
The following scheme gives a general idea of the relationship of this Book to the original.
The following scheme gives some notion of the relationship of the contents of this book to the Filostrato, but Chaucer constantly expands and adds to the original, and not unfrequently transposes the order of the text.
The following sketch gives a general notion of the relation of this Book to the Filostrato, though Chaucer often amplifies and transposes the material in a way that it would be tedious to particularise more minutely.
ADDITIONAL NOTE TO BOOK III. 674.
As the curious word voidee has been suppressed in all previous editions, I add some more examples of it, for some of which I am indebted to Dr. Murray. It occurs, e. g., in the extremely interesting account of the death of James I of Scotland.
‘Within an owre the Kyng askid the voidee, and drank, the travers yn the chambure edraw [= y-drawe, drawn], and every man depairtid and went to rist’: (1400) Jn. Shirley, Dethe of James Stewarde, Kyng of Scotys, p. 13, ed. 1818.
Hence, no doubt, Mr. Rossetti, in his poem of The King’s Tragedy, drew the line:—‘Then he called for the voidee-cup.’
‘A voidy of spices’: (1548) Hall’s Chron. 14 Hen. VIII.
‘A voidee of spices’: (1577-87) Holinshed’s Chron. vol. iii. p. 849.
In A Collection of Ordinances and Regulations for the Royal Household, London, 1790, there are several examples of it.
‘The Archbishoppe to stand on the Kinges right hand, and the King to make him a becke when hee shall take spice and wine. And when the voide is donne, then the King to goe into his chamber; and all other estates to goe into their chambers, or where it shall please them,’ &c.: p. 111; in Articles ordained by King Henry VII.
At p. 113, there are minute directions as to the voidè. The chamberlain and others fetch a towel, the cups, and the spice-plates; the king and the bishop take ‘spice and wine,’ and afterwards the lords and people are served ‘largely’ with spice and wine also; after which the cups are removed. At p. 36, we read: ‘the bourde avoyded [cleared] when wafyrs come with ypocras, or with other swete wynes. The King never taketh a voyd [read voydè] of comfites and other spices, but standing.’ At p. 121: ‘as for the voide on twelfth day at night, the King and Queene ought to take it in the halle.’ At the Coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn, there was a voidè ‘of spice-plates and wine’; English Garner, ed. Arber, ii. 50.
The voidee was, in fact, a sort of dessert. The word spices included many things besides what it now implies. In the Ordinances above-mentioned, there is a list of spices, at p. 103. It includes pepper, saffron, ginger, cloves, maces, cinnamon, nutmegs, dates, prunes, quinces, comfits, raisins, currants, figs, and even rice. In the North of England, even at the present day, it includes sweetmeats, gingerbread, cakes, and dried fruits.
printed in great britain
at the university press, oxford
by vivian ridler
printer to the university
[1 ]Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. xxxix. See the whole chapter.
[1 ]Philosophy personified; see Book i, Prose 1, l. 3.
[2 ]See Book ii, Prose 1.
[3 ]See Book ii, Proses 5, 6.
[4 ]See Book iii, Prose 9.
[5 ]See Book iv, Metre 1.
[6 ]See Book iv, Prose 6.
[7 ]See Book v.
[1 ]See the Romaunt of the Rose (in vol. i.), ll. 5659-5666; and the note to l. 5661. It is also tolerably obvious, that Chaucer selected Metre 5 of Book ii. of Boethius for poetical treatment in his ‘Former Age,’ because Jean de Meun had selected for similar treatment the very same passage; see Rom. de la Rose, ll. 8395-8406.
[1 ]There is a copy of this in the British Museum, MS. Addit. 10341.
[1 ]MS. Harl. 44 (Wülker); not MS. Harl. 43, as in Warton, who has confused this MS. with that next mentioned.
[2 ]MS. Harl. 43 (Wülker); not MS. Harl. 44, as in Warton.
[1 ]There is a better copy than either of the above in MS. Royal 18 A. xiii. The B. M. Catalogue of the Royal MSS., by Casley, erroneously attributes this translation to Lydgate. And there is yet a fourth copy, in MS. Sloane 554. The Royal MS. begins, more correctly:—‘In suffisaunce of cunnyng and of wyt.’
[2 ]MS. i. 53.
[3 ]MS. B. 5. There is yet another MS. in the library of Trinity College, Oxford, no. 75; and others in the Bodleian Library (MS. Rawlinson 151), in the Cambridge University Library (Gg. iv. 18), and in the Phillipps collection (as in note 5 below).
[4 ]‘The Boke of Comfort, translated into Englesse tonge. Enprented in the exempt Monastery of Tavestok in Denshyre, by me, Dan Thomas Rychard, Monke; 1525. 4to.’—Lowndes.
[5 ]The MS. is now in the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps; no. 1099.
[6 ]He here implies that Chaucer’s translation was by no means the only one then in existence; a remarkable statement.
[1 ]MS. inserts full, needlessly.
[2 ]Perhaps read In.
[3 ]MS. neye.
[4 ]MS. hymself.
[1 ]MS. theym self.
[2 ]Printed feldes by Mr. Stewart.
[3 ]Observe that this line is due to Chaucer’s gloss, not to his text.
[4 ]MS. Thisee (!).
[5 ]MS. hem self.
[6 ]Printed thise by Mr. Stewart.
[7 ]MS. This (giving no sense).
[8 ]Mr. Stewart omits thus.
[9 ]MS. parelous (!). This shews that Walton’s text can be corrected by Chaucer’s.
[1 ]Yet we must remember that ‘The Former Age’ only reproduces a part of this Metre; and that it also introduces a passage from Jerome, besides reminiscences of Ovid and of Le Roman de la Rose; as shewn in the notes.
[2 ]Mr. Stewart adds another instance, from Bk. iii. met. 5. 5:—
I hope this was unintentional, for they are poor verses. It is higher praise to say that, especially in the Metres, Chaucer’s prose often flows well, with a certain melody of its own. Mr. Stewart also gives some instances in which he supposes that Chaucer ‘actually reproduces the original Latin metre;’ but they are imperfect and unintended.
[1 ]Mr. Stewart quotes this as: ‘a long unagreable dwellynges;’ but ‘draweth a-long’ is a fair translation of ‘protrahit.’
[1 ]365 is the number of the line; see p. 164 below. I refer to Boethius by the letter ‘B.’, meaning the text as printed in the present volume, giving the line of the text as well as the number of the Prose or Metre, so that every passage can easily be found.
[1 ]The prefixed asterisk marks a doubtful or wrong instance.
[2 ]I omit the comparison of Bk. iii. ll. 8-14 with Boethius; for the whole stanza is copied from the Filostrato, Bk. iii. st. 75. Also, that of l. 373 with B. iii. met. 9. 1; for l. 373 is copied from the Filostrato, Bk. iii. st. 15.
[1 ]I omit mention of l. 2839 (compared with B. ii. met. 3. 14); for it is taken from the Teseide, Bk. ix. 10, 11.
[1 ]The three points are: (1) Avarice is insatiable, l. 2321, which answers to ‘finem quaerendi non innenit,’ quoted as from Seneca, but really from Palladius; see Albertani Brixiensis Liber Consolationis, ed. T. Sundby, p. 37: (2) Good and evil are two contraries, l. 2479; compare the same, p. 96: (3) Fortune the nurse, l. 2635, translated from ‘fortuna usque nunc me fouit’; see the same, p. 89.
[1 ]I have noted a few inaccuracies, chiefly due to confusion of c and t (which are written alike), and to abbreviations. At p. 2, l. 13, for ‘procede’ read ‘percede.’ At p. 9, l. 28, for ‘basilicis’ read ‘basilius.’ At p. 11, l. 32, read ‘auauntede.’ At p. 12, l. 10, read ‘conuict’; &c. Cf. note to Bk. v. pr. 6. 82.
[1 ]Here recte is miswritten for recta, clearly because the scribe was still thinking of the latter syllable of the preceding sponte. But observe that Ch. has ‘the rightes,’ a translation of recta. This proves at once that Chaucer did not use this particular copy as his original; and of course the peculiar mode in which it is written precludes such a supposition. But I believe it to be copied from Chaucer’s copy, all the same.
[1 ]This shews how entirely wrong an editor would be who should change the forms into Atrides and Agamemnon; unless, indeed, he were to give due notice. For it destroys the evidence. Note also, that Agamenon is the usual M. E. form. It appears as Agamenoun in Troil. iii. 382.
[2 ]Hence it is easy to see that when Chaucer’s glosses agree, as they sometimes do, with those in Notker’s Old High German version or in any other version, the agreement is due to the fact that both translators had similar Latin glosses before them.
[1 ]My text has thonder-light, as in the MSS.; but leyte or leyt is better; see note to the line (p. 422), and see above, p. xlii, l. 8.
[1 ]There is a later edition by Peiper, said to be the best; but it is out of print, and I failed to obtain a copy. But I have also collated the Latin text in the Delphin edition, ed. Valpy, 1823, and the edition by Renatus Vallinus, 1656; both of these contain useful notes.
[1 ]Mr. Rossetti has a note, shewing that Prof. Morley’s figures are incorrect. He himself reckons Troilus as containing 8246 lines, because the number of stanzas in Book V. of Dr. Furnivall’s print of MS. Harl. 3943 is wrongly given as 268 instead of 267.
[1 ]For a fuller comparison with this poem, see § 21 below; p. lxv.
[1 ]Lydgate accepts Chaucer’s view without question. He says—‘And of this syege wrote eke Lollius’; Siege of Troye, ed. 1555, fol. B 2, back.
[2 ]Usually called Guido de Colonna, probably because he was supposed to belong to a famous family named Colonna; but his name seems to have been taken from the name of a place (see note 1 on p. lvi). My quotations from Guido are from MS. Mm. 5. 14, in the Cambridge University Library.
[1 ]He refers to the story of Troy as existing ‘in the Latyn and the Frenshe’; Siege of Troye, fol. B 1, back; and explains ‘the Latyn’ as ‘Guido.’
[1 ]In an Italian work entitled ‘Testi Inediti di Storia Trojana,’ by E. Gorra, Turin, 1887, a passage is quoted at p. 137, from Book XIII of Guido, which says that Terranova, on the S. coast of Sicily, was also called ‘columpne Herculis,’ and Gorra suggests that this was the place whence Guido derived his name ‘delle Colonne.’ At any rate, Guido was much interested in these ‘columns’; see Lydgate, Siege of Troye, fol. M 4. I think Tropæus, from Gk. τροπαɩ̂α, may refer to these columnæ; or Guido may have been connected with Tropea, on the W. coast of Calabria, less than fifty miles from Messina, where he was a judge.
[2 ]‘Homerus . . . fingens multa que non fuerunt, et que fuerunt aliter transformando’; Prologus. See the E. translation in the Gest Hystoriale, or alliterative Troy-book, ll. 38-47; Lydgate, Siege of Troye, fol. B 2.
[3 ]See allit. Troy-book, ll. 60-79.
[1 ]See allit. Troy-book, ll. 3922-34; Lydgate, Siege of Troye, fol. F 3, back.
[2 ]MS. penatos.
[1 ]The mention of Escaphilo, i. e. Ascalaphus, in Book V. 319, was perhaps suggested by the mention of Ascalaphus by Guido (after Dictys, i. 13, Homer, Il. ii. 512) as being one of the Grecian leaders; see allit. Troy-book, l. 4067.
[1 ]I. e. glove; from Gk. χείρ, hand, and θήκη, case.
[2 ]Put for xenium (ξένιον), a gift, present.
[1 ]Cf. ‘And save hir browes ioyneden y-fere’; Troil. v. 813.
[1 ]Talke is not in the Glossary. As lk is a common way of writing kk (as shewn in my paper on ‘Ghost-words’ for the Phil. Soc.), the word is really takke, a variant of take; and the sense is ‘let him take.’
[2 ]Lydgate began his Troy-book on Oct. 31, 1412, and finished it in 1420; see this shewn in my letter to the Academy, May 7, 1892.
[3 ]Hence it was not written by Sir Hugh Eglintoun, if he died either in 1376 or 1381; see Pref. to allit. Troy-book, pp. xvii, xxv.
[2 ]Lydgate began his Troy-book on Oct. 31, 1412, and finished it in 1420; see this shewn in my letter to the Academy, May 7, 1892.
[1 ]MS. to disport; but to is needless.
[2 ]MS. I for; I is needless.
[1 ]Two false rimes; ye and aweye; dispyt and bright (correctly, bright e).
[1 ]Not clene, as in the St. John’s MS. and in the Phillipps MS.; for Chaucer never rimes clene (with open e) with such words as grene, quene (with close e); see, on this point, the remarks on my Rime-Index to Troilus, published for the Chaucer Society. MS. Harl. 2392 likewise has sheene, a word in which the long e is of ‘variable’ quality.
[1 ]Some guess that it means ‘Tres gentil Chaucer.’ But this seems to me very improbable, if not stupid.
[P. 8, Book I, met. 4, l. 8.]For thonder-light a better reading is thonderleit; see p. xliii, and the note (p. 422).
[P. 10; foot-notes, l. 10.]Read: C. vnplitable; A. inplitable.
[P. 26, Book II, met. 1, l. 11.]For proeueth read proeveth.
[P. 29, Book II, pr. 3, l. 3.]Delete the comma after wherwith.
[P. 48, Book II, pr. 7, l. 86.]For thas read that.
[P. 50, Book II, pr. 8, l. 17.]For windinge read windy. See pp. xlii, 434.
[P. 58, Book III, pr. 3, l. 68.]For all read al.
[P. 62, l. 4.]Counted as l. 10; it is really l. 9.
[P. 63, Book III, pr. 5, l. 41.]For of read of (in italics).
[P. 74, Book III, pr. 10, l. 6.]For has read hast.
[P. 111.]The side-number 215 is one line too high.
[P. 122, Book IV, met. 6, l. 24.]Delete the square brackets; see pp. xlii, xliii.
[P. 124, Book IV, pr. 7, l. 61. MS. C.]has confirme; and MS. A. has conferme. But the right reading must be conforme; for the Latin text has conformandae.
[P. 159, Book I, 204.]For cast read caste.
[P. 160, Book I, 217.]The alternative reading is better; see note, p. 463.
[P. 160, Book I, 239.]For yet read yit (for the rhyme).
[P. 162, Book I, 284.]For neuer read never.
[P. 163, Book, I, 309.]For Troylus read Troilus.
[P. 163, Book I, 310.]For thyng read thing.
[P. 165, Book I, 401.]Alter! to?
[P. 166, Book I, 406.]For thurst read thurste.
[P. 166, Book I, 420.]For deye read dye (for the rhyme).
[P. 171, Book I, 570.]For euery read every.
[P. 172, Book I, 621.]For Troylus read Troilus (as elsewhere).
[P. 173, Book I, 626.]Delete the comma after ‘fare.’
[P. 174, Book I, 656.]For y read I.
[P. 174, Book I, 657.]Insert ‘ at the beginning.
[P. 181, Book I, 879.]For the read thee.
[P. 192, Book II, 113.]Delete ’ at the end.
[P. 194, Book II, 170.]Insert ‘ at the beginning.
[P. 205, Book II, 529.]For penaunc read penaunce.
[P. 208, Book II, 628.]For swych read swich.
[P. 229, Book II, 1294.]Insert ‘ at the beginning.
[P. 234, Book II, 1461.]For streyt read streght, as in MS. H.
[P. 260, Book III, 522.]Delete the comma after laft.
[P. 260, Book III, 535.]For made read mad or maad.
[P. 261, Book III, 558.]For lengere read lenger.
[P. 264, Book III, 662.]For thondre read thonder.
[P. 271, Book III, 885.]For ringe read ring.
[P. 282, Book III, 1219.]For sweet read swete.
[P. 312, Book IV, 318.]For to the peyne read to my peyne.
[P. 390, Book V, 1039.]For she read he. Cf. note, p. 499; and p. lx, l. 3.
[P. 431, note to Prose 5, 35; l. 3.]Delete for which I find no authority. (In fact, postremo is the reading given by Peiper, from one MS. only; most MSS. have postremae, the reading given by Obbarius, who does not recognise the reading postremo).
[P. 463. Note to I, 217.]Add—So too in Barbour’s Bruce, i. 582: ‘Bot oft failyeis the fulis thocht.’
[P. 479, last line; and p. 480, first line.]For represents the Pers. and Arab. dū’lkarnayn, lit. two-horned; from Pers. dū, two, and karn, horn—read represents the Arab. zū’lkarnayn, lit. two-horned; from Arab. zū, lord of, hence, possessing, and the dual form of karn, horn.
[Notes to I. 948, 951; II. 36, 1335; III. 1219.]Dr. Köppel has shewn (in Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen, xc. 150, that Chaucer here quotes from Alanus de Insulis, Liber Parabolarum (as printed in Migne, Cursus Patrologicus, vol. ccx). The passages are:—
[P. 498, Note to V, 806.]Add—L. 813 is due to Dares; see p. lxiv, note.
[P. 499, Note to V, 1039, l. 6.]For the rest is Chaucer’s addition read the statement that she gave it to Diomede is due to Benoît; see p. lxii. Again, just below, read The incidents of the ‘broche’ and ‘pensel’ are also due to the same; see p. lxii.
[6. ]C. foleweden; A. folweden.
[8. ]C. sorful; A. sorouful. C. wierdes, glossed fata; A. werdes.
[11. ]C. arn; A. ben.
[12. ]C. of; A. upon. C. emptyd; A. emty.
[16. ]C. nayteth; A. Ed. uaieth.
[17. ]A. glosses lighte by sc. temporels. C. sorwful; A. sorouful.
[19. ]C. deceyuable; A. disceyuable.
[20. ]C. vnpietous; A. vnpitouse.
[22. ]C. stidefast; A. stedfast.
[1. ]C. While that; A. In the mene while that.
[2. ]C. sawh; A. sawe.
[3. ]C. heyhte; A. heyȝt. C. gret; A. greet.
[5. ]C. myht; A. myȝt.
[6. ]C. vygor; A. vigoure. C. myhte; A. myȝt. C. emted; A. emptid.
[7. ]C. gret; A. greet (and so often).
[9. ]C. dowtows; A. doutous (and so ow for ou often).
[10. ]C. lyk; A. lyche.
[11. ]C. heyhte; A. heyȝte (and so elsewhere).
[12. ]C. hef; A. heued; Ed. houe.
[14. ]C. riht (and so h for gh often).
[16. ]C. knewh; A. knewe.
[17. ]C. dirknesse; A. derkenes.
[19. ]Both dyrken. C. the smokede; A. by-smoked.
[21. ]A. in swiche; C. om. swiche. C. glosses P by practik. C. syngnifieth; A. signifieth.
[22. ]C. glosses T by theorik. C. singnifieth; A. signifieth.
[23. ]C. by-twixen; A. by-twene.
[24. ]C. nobely; A. nobly.
[25. ]C. clymbyn (and so -yn for -en constantly). C. Ed. nethereste; A. nethemast.
[26. ]C. Ed. vppereste; A. ouermast.
[31 ]C. say; A. sauȝ.
[33. ]C. amoued; A. ameued. C. cruwel; A. cruel.
[34. ]C. sike; A. seek. C. the; A. thise (Lat. has).
[37. ]C. noryssyn; A. norysche. C. hym; A. hem.
[39. ]C. fructefiynge; A. frutefiyng.
[40. ]C. corn; A. cornes (Lat. segetem).
[41. ]C. om. the. C. om. ne.
[42. ]C. maledye; A. maladye.
[44. ]C. people; A. peple.
[45. ]C. greuosly; A. greuously (and so often os for ous in C.).
[48. ]C. schooles; A. scoles.
[53. ]C. downward; A. adounward. C. om. and. C. rednesse; A. redenesse.
[54. ]C. sorwfully. C. thresshfold; A. threschefolde.
[55. ]C. dyrked; A. derked.
[57. ]C. wax; A. wex. C. cast; A. caste.
[58. ]C. down to; A. adoune in-to.
[59. ]C. ner; A. nere.
[61. ]C. compleyde; A. compleinede.
[63. ]C. thowht; A. thouȝt.
[3. ]C. dyrk-; A. derk-.
[4. ]C. wordely; A. worldly (Lat. terrenis.
[5. ]C. Ed. whilom; A. sumtyme.
[7. ]C. lythnesse; A. lyȝtnesse.
[10. ]C. comprendyd; A. Ed. comprehendid.
[11. ]C. seken; A. seche.
[14. ]C. est; A. eest.
[15. ]C. fyrst; A. fyrste.
[17. ]A. that; C. the. C. autompne; A. autumpne
[19. ]C. I-hydde; A. yhidde. C. lith; A. lieth.
[20. ]A. emptid; C. emted.
[22. ]C. the fool; Ed. the fole; A. foule (Lat. stolidam).
[4. ]C. Ed. whilom; A. sumtyme. C. noryssed; A. I-norschide.
[5. ]C. escaped; A. ascaped.
[8. ]C. Knowestow; A. Knowest thou.
[9. ]C. artow; A. art thou. C. it is; A. Ed. is it. C. asthonynge (but astonynge below).
[14. ]C. litarge; A. litargie. C. sykenesse; A. sekenes.
[15. ]C. desseyued; A. desceiued.
[16. ]C. remenbren; A. remembren.
[1. ]C. descussed; A. discussed.
[2. ]C. dirk-; A. derk-. C. om. ayein.
[3. ]C. fyrst; A. firste.
[5. ]C. heyhte; A. hyȝt.
[6. ]C. dirked; A. derked.
[8. ]C. hyhte; A. hyȝt.
[3. ]C. fesissien; A. fyciscien; Ed. phisycien. C. fastnede; A. festned.
[6. ]C. vertuus; A. vertues.
[7. ]C. artow; A. art thou.
[13. ]A. om. thing.
[14. ]C. compaygnie; A. compaignie.
[16. ]C. trowestow; A. trowest thou.
[20. ]C. desseruede; A. deserned.
[21. ]C. eritage; A. heritage.
[25. ]C. rauysse; A. rauische.
[26. ]C. deffence; A. defence.
[30. ]C. arraced; A. arased.
[31. ]C. om. I.
[33. ]C. or; A. and.
[34. ]A. familers.
[36. ]A. om. that.
[38. ]C. om. 1st of.
[40. ]C. myhtestow; A. myȝtest thou. C. Senecciens; A. Senectiens; Ed. Senecas.
[43. ]C. enformyd; A. vnfourmed.
[44. ]C. vnlyk; A. vnlyke.
[48. ]C. oost, glossed i. acies.
[50. ]C. rauyssed; A. rauysched. C. folyly, i. sine consilio.
[52. ]A. hys rycchesse.
[53. ]C. sarpuleris; A. sarpulers.
[55. ]C. tumolte; A. tumulte. A. stored.
[56. ]C. palis; A. palays (Lat. uallo). C. om. that. C. anoyenge; A. anoying.
[57. ]C. atayne; A. attayne. C. schorne; A. scorne.
[2. ]C. leuynge; A. lyuyng. Both wierdes; C. has the gloss fata.
[3. ]C. may his cheere holde vndescounfited; A. may holde hys chiere vndiscomfited.
[4. ]C. manesses; A. manace (Lat. minae).
[5. ]hete (Lat. aestum).
[6. ]C. hihte; A. hyȝt.
[7. ]Ed. writheth; C. writith; A. wircheth (Lat. torquet). A. chemineys.
[9. ]C. Whar-;-A. Wher-.
[10. ]C. felonos; A. felownes.
[11. ]C. deseruien; A. desarmen; Ed. disarmen.
[14. ]C. remwed; A. remoeued.
[15. ]A. om. the before which.
[1. ]C. Felistow; A. Felest thou.
[2. ]A. Art thou. C. wepistow; A. wepest thou.
[3. ]A. spillest thou.
[9. ]C. sen; A. seen.
[11. ]A. sege (for sete).
[12. ]So A.; C. deuynyte. C. om. 2nd touchinge.
[13. ]C. om. it is.
[14. ]C. om. quasi . . . non.
[17. ]After this, C. has nonne; A. has ironice. C. gerdouns; A. gerdoun (Lat. praemia).
[18. ]C. conformedest (Lat. sanxisti); see note.