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Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 7 (Supplement: Chaucerian and Other Pieces) 
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols.
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Table of Contents
ERRATA AND ADDENDA[Back to Table of Contents]
§ 1.The following pieces are selected, as being the most important, from among the very numerous ones which have been appended to Chaucer’s works in various editions.
I use the word ‘appended’ advisedly. It is not true that these works were all attributed to Chaucer in the black-letter editions. The Praise of Peace was marked as Gower’s in Thynne’s first edition of 1532. Another piece in that edition is attributed to Scogan. The Letter of Cupid is expressly dated 1402, though Chaucer died in 1400. The Flower of Curtesye contains the words ‘Chaucer is dede’; and The Testament of Cresseid contains a remark which, in modern English, would run thus—‘Who knows if all that Chaucer wrote is true?’
Those who, through ignorance or negligence, regard Thynne’s edition of Chaucer as containing ‘Works attributed to Chaucer’ make a great mistake; and even if the mistake be excused on the ground that it has been very generally and very frequently made, this does not lessen its magnitude. The title of Thynne’s book is very instructive, and really runs thus:—‘The Workes of Geffray Chaucer newly printed, with dyuers workes which were neuer in print before, &c.’ This is strictly and literally true; for it contains such works of Chaucer’s as had previously been printed by Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde, and Julian Notary (see vol. i. p. 28), together with ‘dyuers workes [of various authors] which were neuer in print before.’ Which is the simple solution of the whole matter, as far as this edition is concerned. The same remarks apply to the second edition in 1542, and the third, printed about 1550. But Stowe, in 1561, altered the title so as to give it a new meaning. The title-page of his edition runs thus:—‘The Woorkes of Geffrey Chaucer, newly printed with diuers Addicions which were neuer in printe before.’ Here the authorship of Chaucer was, for the first time, practically claimed for the whole of Thynne’s volume. At the same time, Stowe did not really mean what he seems to say, for it was he who first added the words—‘made by Ihon lidgate’—to the title of ‘The Flower of Curtesie,’ and who first assigned a title (ascribing the poem to dan Ihon lidgat) to the poem beginning ‘Consider wel’; see no. 40 (vol. i. p. 33).
§ 2. It is clear that Thynne’s intention was to print a collection of poems, including all he could find of Chaucer and anything else of a similar character that he could lay his hands on1 . In other words, the collection was, from the beginning, a collection of the Works of Chaucer and other writers; and this fact was in no way modified by the adoption by Stowe and Speght of misleading titles that actually assigned to Chaucer all the poems in the volume! See further, as to this subject, in the discussion of The Court of Love below.
The number of pieces appended, at various times, to Chaucer’s Works are so numerous that I have been obliged to restrict myself to giving a selection of them only.
Of the non-Chaucerian pieces printed by Thynne in 1532, I have included all but three. The rejected pieces are those numbered 18, 21, and 22 in the list given at p. 32 of vol. i. They are all poor and uninteresting, but I add a few words of description.
18.A Praise of Women. Noticed in vol. i. p. 37. Though decisively rejected by Tyrwhitt, and excluded from Moxon’s reprint, it was revived (for no good reason) by Bell, and consequently appeared in the Aldine edition, which was founded on Bell’s. It enumerates the merits of womankind, and condemns the slanders of men concerning them. We ought to worship all women out of reverence for the Queen of heaven, and we shall do well to pray to Our Lady to bring us to the heaven in which she and all good women will be found. Thynne is not the sole authority for this poem, as it occurs also (in a Scottish dress) in the Bannatyne MS., fol. 275. The whole of this MS. (written in 1568) was printed for the Hunterian Club in 1873–9; see p. 799 of that edition.
21.The Lamentation of Mary Magdalen. Noticed in vol. i. p. 37. This lugubrious piece was probably the wail of a nun, who had no book but a Vulgate version of the Bible, from which all her quotations are taken. It bears no resemblance to any work by Chaucer, nor to any of the pieces in the present volume. It consists of 102 seven-line stanzas. The metre resembles Lydgate’s, but the final -e is hardly ever used. Bell’s text is not taken from Thynne, but from some later and inferior reprint of it. For this poem, Thynne’s first edition is the sole authority.
22.The Remedy of Love. Noticed in vol. i. p. 38. It appears that the ‘remedy of love’ is to be found in a consideration of the wicked ways of women. Twelve whole stanzas are taken up with a metrical translation of one of the chapters in the book of Proverbs. The author refers us to ‘the fifth chapter,’ but he is wrong. He means chapter vii, verses 6–27. He also quotes from Ecclesiasticus, ix. 9, and xxv. 25.
Nos. 28, 29, 30 (vol. i. p. 32) are not found in Thynne, but were first printed by Stowe. I give them below, at p. 297. The first two stanzas are Lydgate’s; and probably the third is his also. It is no great matter.
No. 41 (vol. i. p. 33) was also first printed by Stowe. To save words, I have printed it below, at p. 450, from the original MS.
§ 3. I now consider the non-Chaucerian pieces in Part II. of Stowe’s Edition (see vol. i. p. 33). Of these, nos. 45, 50, 56, and 59 are here reprinted.
Nos. 46, 47, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, and 55 were all taken by Stowe from MS. Trin. R. 3. 19. Perhaps they are sufficiently noticed in vol. i. p. 41, as they present few points of interest. However, I enumerate them, adding a few remarks.
No. 46. The Craft of Lovers. In 23 seven-line stanzas; 161 lines. Besides the copy in the Trin. MS., there are copies (almost duplicates) in MSS. Addit. 34360, fol. 73, back (p. 142), and Harl. 2251, fol. 53 (now called 52). Dated 1448 in the Trin. MS., but 1459 in the other two. The first line ought to run:—‘To moralise, who list these ballets sewe’; but it is clear that some one added the words ‘A similitude’ in the margin, and that this remark was afterwards incorporated in the text. Hence the first line, in the latter MSS., stands:—‘To moralise a similitude who list these balettis sewe’; which is more than enough for a line of five accents. After two introductory stanzas, the poem becomes a dialogue, in alternate stanzas, between a wooer, named Cupido, and a lass, named Diana1 ; the result of which is successful. This may be compared with La Belle Dame sans Merci, and with the Nut-brown Maid. The twenty-third stanza forms the author’s Conclusio, which is followed by an Envoy in the Addit. MS. and in the Harl. MS. only. The same MSS. seem to superadd two more stanzas; but they really belong to another piece.
No. 47. Taken by Stowe from MS. Trin. R. 3. 19, fol. 156, back. A Balade. In 4 seven-line stanzas; 28 lines. Begins—‘Of their nature they greatly them delite’; i. e. Women are by nature hypocrites; they like kissing live images rather than shrines. So I advise young men to take warning: ‘Beware alwaye, the blind eateth many [a] flye’; a line which is quoted from Lydgate’s ballad printed at p. 295. The author then prays God to keep the fly out of his dish; and ends by congratulating himself on being anonymous, because women would else blame him.
No. 48. The Ten Commandments of Love; from Trin. MS., fol. 109. Also in MS. Fairfax 16. Begins:—‘Certes, ferre extendeth yet my reason.’ In 14 stanzas of seven-lines; the last two form the Envoy. After two introductory stanzas, the author gives the ladies their ten commandments. They are, it appears, to exhibit Faith, Entencion, Discrecion, Patience, Secretnesse, Prudence, Perseverance, Pity, Measure [Moderation], and Mercy. In the Envoy, the author says, truly enough, that he is devoid of cunning, experience, manner of enditing, reason, and eloquence; and that he is ‘a man unknown.’
No. 49. The Nine Ladies Worthy. In 9 seven-line stanzas, one stanza for each lady. Begins: ‘Profulgent in preciousnes, O Sinope the quene.’ Only remarkable for the curious selection made. The Nine Ladies are: (1) Sinope, daughter of Marsepia, queen of the Amazons; see Orosius, Hist. i. 10; (2) Hippolyta, the Amazon, wife of Theseus; (3) Deipyle, daughter of Adrastus, wife of Tydeus; (4) Teuta, queen of the Illyrians; see note to C. T., F 1453 (vol. v. p. 398); (5) Penthesilea the Amazon, slain by Achilles before Troy; (6) queen Tomyris, who slew Cyrus in battle, bc 529; (7) Lampeto the Amazon, sister of Marsepia, and aunt of Sinope; (8) Semiramis of Babylon; (9) Menalippe or Melanippe, sister of Antiope, queen of the Amazons, taken captive by Hercules, according to Justinus, ii. 4. 23. Most of these queens are mentioned by Orosius, i. 10, ii. 1, ii. 4; see also Higden’s Polychronicon, bk. ii. chapters 9, 21, 24, and bk. iii. c. 7. From the Trin. MS., fol. 113, back.
[No. 50. Virelai. Printed below, at p. 448.]
No. 51. A Ballade. Begins:—‘In the season of Feuerere when it was full colde.’ In 7 seven-line stanzas. In praise of the daisy. Very poor. From the Trin. MS., fol. 160.
No. 52. A Ballade. Begins—‘O Mercifull and o merciable.’ In 12 seven-line stanzas. The Trin. MS. has 13 stanzas; but Stowe omitted the tenth, because it coincides with st. 19 of the Craft of Lovers. It is made up of scraps from other poems. Stanzas 1–4 form part of a poem on the fall of man, from Lydgate’s Court of Sapience (see vol. i. p. 57). In st. 8 occurs the assonance of hote (hot) and stroke; and in st. 9, that of cureth and renueth. From the Trin. MS., fol. 161.
No. 53. The Judgement of Paris. In 4 seven-line stanzas; the first is allotted to Pallas, who tells Paris to take the apple, and give it to the fairest of the three goddesses. After this, he is addressed in succession by Juno, Venus, and Minerva (as she is now called). Then the poem ends. Trin. MS., fol. 161, back.
No. 54. A Balade pleasaunte. Begins—‘I haue a Ladie where so she bee.’ In 7 seven-line stanzas. Meant to be facetious; e. g. ‘Her skin is smothe as any oxes tong.’ The author says that when he was fifteen years old, he saw the wedding of queen Jane; and that was so long ago that there cannot be many such alive. As Joan of Navarre was married to Henry IV in 1403, he was born in 1388, and would have been sixty-two in 1450. It is an imitation of Lydgate’s poem entitled A Satirical Description of his Lady; see Minor Poems, ed. Halliwell, p. 199. Trin. MS., fol. 205.
No. 55. Another Balade. Begins—‘O mossie Quince, hangyng by your stalke.’ In 4 seven-line stanzas, of which Stowe omits the second. A scurrilous performance. Trin. MS., fol. 205, back.
[No. 56. A Ballad by Lydgate; printed below, at p. 295.]
No. 58 is a Balade in 9 seven-line stanzas, of no merit, on the theme of the impossibility of restoring a woman’s chastity.
No. 59. The Court of Love. Printed below, at p. 409.
No. 60 is a genuine poem; and no. 61 is Lydgate’s Story of Thebes. And here Stowe’s performance ceases.
§ 4. The subsequent additions made by Speght are discussed in vol. i. pp. 43–46. Of these, The Flower and the Leaf, Jack Upland, and Hoccleve’s poem to Henry V, are here reprinted; and Chaucer’s ABC is genuine. He also reprinted the Sayings at p. 450. The pieces not reprinted here are Chaucer’s Dream and Eight Goodly Questions.
Chaucer’s Dream is a false title, assigned to it by Speght; its proper name is The Isle of Ladies. Begins—‘Whan Flora, the quene of pleasaunce.’ The MS. at Longleat is said to have been written about 1550. A second MS. has been acquired by the British Museum, named MS. Addit. 10303; this is also in a hand of the sixteenth century, and presents frequent variations in the text. It is very accessible, in the texts by Moxon, Bell, and Morris; but how Tyrwhitt ever came to dream that it could be genuine, must remain a mystery. I originally hoped to include this poem in the present selection, but its inordinate length compelled me to abandon my intention. In a prologue of seventy lines, the author truthfully states, at l. 60, that he is ‘a slepy1 writer.’ There are many assonances, such as undertakes, scapes (337); named, attained (597); tender, remember (1115, 1415); rome, towne (1567). Note also such rimes as destroied, conclude (735); queen, kneen, pl. of knee (1779); nine, greene (1861); vertuous, use (1889). Some rimes exhibit the Northern dialect; as paines, straines, pr. s., 909; wawe, overthrawe, pp., 1153; servand, livand, pres. pt., 1629; greene, eene (pl. of e, eye), 1719; hand, avisand, pres. pt., 1883; &c. Yet the writer is not particular; if he wants a rime to wroth, he uses the Southern form goth, 785; but if he wants a rime to rose, he uses the Northern form gose (goes), 1287, 1523. But before any critic can associate this poem with Chaucer, he has first to prove that it was written before 1450. Moreover, it belongs to the cycle of metrical romances, being connected (as Tyrwhitt says) with the Eliduc of Marie de France; and, perhaps, with her Lanval.
To the Isle of Ladies Speght appended two other poems, of which the former contains a single stanza of 6 lines, and the latter is a ballad in 3 seven-line tanzas.
No. 66. Eight Goodly Questions; in Bell’s Chaucer, iv. 421. In 9 seven-line stanzas. First printed in 1542. There are at least two manuscript copies; one in the Trinity MS., marked R. 3. 15; and another in the Bannatyne MS., printed at p. 123 of the print of the Bannatyne MS., issued by the Hunterian Club in 1873. In l. 19, the latter MS. corrects tree to coffour, the Scottish form of cofre. It is merely expanded from the first seven lines of a poem by Ausonius, printed in Walker’s Corpus Poetarum Latinorum, with the title Eorundem Septem Sapientum Sententiae. This English version is quite in Lydgate’s style.
Editions and MSS. consulted.
I have repeatedly explained that there were but four black-letter editions of Collected Works before Speght’s; and these I call Thynne’s first edition (1532), Thynne’s second edition (1542), the undated edition (about 1550, which I call 1550 for brevity), and Stowe’s edition (1561) respectively. I shall denote these editions below by the symbols ‘Th.,’ ed. 1542, ed. 1550, and ‘S.’ respectively. Of these editions, the first is the best; the second is derived from the first; the third is derived from the second; and the fourth from the third1 . In every case it is useless to consult a later edition when an earlier one can be found.
The following is the list of the pieces which depend on the editions only, or for which the editions have been collated. I always cite the earliest; that the later ones also contain the piece in question must, once for all, be understood.
Caxton.—XXVIII. No. VII. was also collated with a print by Caxton.
Wynkyn de Worde.—XXIII.
Wynkyn de Worde.—VIII.
Chepman and Miller (1508).—VIII.
Th.—I. IX. XI. XXII. Also collated for IV. V. VII. VIII. X. XII. XVI. XVII. XVIII. XIX. XXI. XXIII.
Thynne had access to excellent MSS., and is always worth consulting.
Ed. 1542.—II. XXVIII. Collated for VI.
An early printed edition of Jack Upland.—III.
S. (1561).—XV. Collated for XIII. XIV. XXIV. XXV. XXIX.
A printed edition of the Testament of Cresseid (1593).—XVII.
Speght (1598).—XX. Collated for III.
The following twenty MSS. have been collated or consulted.
Trentham MS.—IV. (See Introduction.)
Fairfax 16.—V. VIII. XIII. XVI. XVIII. XIX. (See vol. i. p. 51.)
Bodley 638.—V. VIII. XVIII. (See vol. i. p. 53.)
Tanner 346.—V. VIII. XVIII. XIX. (See vol. i. p. 54.)
Ashmole 59.—VII. X. XIII. (See vol. i. p. 53.)
Arch. Selden B. 24—V. VIII. XVIII. XXVI. XXVII. (See vol. i. p. 54.)
Digby 181.—V. VIII. (See vol. i. p. 54.)
Camb. Univ. Lib. Ff. 1. 6.—V. XII. XVI. XVIII. (See vol. i. p. 55.)
Pepys 2006.—VIII. (See vol. i. p. 55.)
Trin. Coll. R. 3. 19.—XIV. XVI. XXI. XXIV. XXV. XXIX. (See vol. i. p. 56.)
Trin. Coll. R. 3. 20.—V. (One of Shirley’s MSS.)
Trin. Coll. O. 9. 38.—XIV.
Addit. 16165, B. M.—XIII. (See vol. i. p. 56.)
Addit. 34360, B. M.—XXI.
Harl. 372, B. M.—XVI. (See vol. i. p. 58.)
Harl. 2251, B. M.—VII. XII. XIV. (See vol. i. p. 57.)
Harl. 7578, B. M.—XIII. (See vol. i. p. 58.)
Sloane 1212, B. M.—X. (A fair copy.)
Phillipps 8151.—VI. (See Hoccleve’s Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 1.)
Ashburnham 133.—V. (See the same, p. xxvii.)
§ 6. Conversely, I here give the authorities from which each piece is derived. For further comments on some of them, see the separate introductions to each piece below.
I.The Testament of Love (prose).—Th. (Thynne, 1532).
II.The Plowmans Tale (1380 lines).—Th. (Thynne, 1542).
III.Jack Upland (prose).—Early edition, Caius College library; Speght (1598).
IV.Praise of Peace (385 lines).—Th. (1532); Trentham MS.
V.Letter of Cupid (476 lines).—Th. (1532); Fairfax, Bodley, Tanner, Selden, Ashburnham, Digby MSS.; Trin. Coll. R. 3. 20; Camb. Ff. 1. 6; also in the Bannatyne MS.
VI.To the King’s Grace (64).—Th. (1542); Phillipps 8151.
VII.A Moral Balade (189).—Th. (1532); Caxton; Ashmole 59, Harl. 2251. (I also find a reference to Harl. 367, fol. 85, back.)
VIII.Complaint of the Black Knight (681).—Th. (1532); Fairfax, Bodley, Tanner, Digby, Selden, Pepys; Addit. 16165. Also printed, separately, by Wynkyn de Worde (n. d.); and at Edinburgh, by Chepman and Miller, in 1508.
IX.The Flour of Curtesye (270).—Th. (1532).
X.In Commendation of our Lady (140).—Th.; Ashmole 59; Sloane 1212.
XI.To my Soverain Lady (112).—Th.
XII.Ballad of Good Counsel (133).—Th.; Camb. Ff. 1. 6; Harl. 2251.
XIII.Beware of Doubleness (104).—Stowe (1561); Fairfax 16, Ashmole 59, Harl. 7578, Addit. 16165.
XIV.A Balade: Warning Men (49).—Stowe (1561); Harl. 2251, fol. 149, back; Trin. R. 3. 19; Trin. O. 9. 38.
XV.Three Sayings (21).—Stowe (1561).
XVI.La Belle Dame sans Mercy (856).—Th.; Fairfax, Harl. 372; Camb. Ff. 1. 6; Trin. R. 3. 19, fol. 98.
XVII.Testament of Cresseid (616).—Th.; Edinburgh edition (1593).
XVIII.The Cuckoo and the Nightingale (290).—Th.; Fairfax, Bodley, Tanner, Selden; Camb. Ff. 1. 6.
XIX.Envoy to Alison (27).—Th.; Fairfax, Tanner.
XX.The Flower and the Leaf (595).—Speght (1598).
XXI.The Assembly of Ladies (756).—Th.; Addit. 34360; Trin. R. 3. 19.
XXII.A goodly Balade (71).—Th.
XXIII.Go forth, King (14).—Wynkyn de Worde; Th.
XXIV.The Court of Love (1442).—Stowe (1561); Trin. R. 3. 19.
XXV.Virelai (20).—Stowe (1561); Trin. R. 3. 19.
XXVI.Prosperity (8); XXVII. Loyalty (7).—Selden MS.
XXVIII.Sayings (14).—Caxton; reprinted, Th. (1542).
XXIX.In Praise of Chaucer (7).—Stowe (1561); Trin. R. 3. 19.
I. The Testament of Love; by Thomas Usk.
Of this piece no MS. copy has been discovered. The only authority is Thynne’s edition of 1532, whence all later editions have been copied more or less incorrectly. The reprints will be found to grow steadily worse, so that the first edition is the only one worth consulting.
The present edition is printed from a transcript of Thynne (1532), made by myself; the proof-sheets being carefully read with the original. In making the transcript, I have altered the symbol u to v, when used as a consonant; and (in the few places where it occurs) the consonantal i to j. I have also substituted i for y when the vowel is short, chiefly in the case of the suffix -yng or -ynge, here printed -ing or -inge. In nearly all other cases, the original spellings are given in the footnotes. Thynne’s chief errors of printing occur in places where he has persistently altered the spelling of the MS. to suit the spelling in fashion in the days of Henry VIII. His chief alterations are as follows. He prints ea for open ee, written ee or e at the beginning of the fifteenth century; thus, he has ease for ese, and please for plese. He most perversely adds a useless final e to the words howe, nowe, and some others; and he commits the anachronism of printing father, mother, together, wether, gather, in place of fader, moder, togeder, weder, gader; whereas the termination in these words invariably appears as -der till shortly before 1500. Further, he prints catche for cacche, perfection for perfeccion, and the like; and in several other ways has much impaired the spelling of his original. Many of these things I have attempted to set right; and the scholar who compares the text with the footnotes will easily see why each alteration has been made, if he happens to be at all conversant with MSS. written in the fourteenth century.
I believe that this piece is almost unparalleled as regards the shameful corruption of its text. It cannot be supposed that Thynne or any one else ever read it over with the view of seeing whether the result presented any sense. Originally written in an obscure style, every form of carelessness seems to have been employed in order to render it more obscure than before. In a great number of places, it is easy to restore the sense by the insertion of such necessary words as of, or but, or by. In other places, non-existent words can be replaced by real ones; or some correction can be made that is more or less obvious. I have marked all inserted words by placing them within square brackets, as, e. g., am in l. 46 on p. 6. Corrections of readings are marked by the use of a dagger (†); thus ‘I † wot wel’ in l. 78 on p. 7 is my emendation of Thynne’s phrase ‘I wol wel,’ which is duly recorded in the footnote. But some sentences remain in which the sense is not obvious; and one is almost tempted to think that the author did not clearly know what he intended to say. That he was remarkable for a high degree of inaccuracy will appear presently.
A strange misprint occurs in Book III. ch. 4, ll. 30, 31 (p. 117), where nearly two whole lines occur twice over; but the worst confusion is due to an extraordinary dislocation of the text in Book III. (c. iv. l. 56—c. ix. l. 46), as recently discovered by the sagacity of Mr. H. Bradley, and explained more fully below.
I have also, for the first time, revised the punctuation, which in Thynne is only denoted by frequent sloping strokes and full stops, which are not always inserted in the right places. And I have broken up the chapters into convenient paragraphs.
§ 8. A very curious point about this piece is the fact which I was the first to observe, viz. that the initial letters of the various chapters were certainly intended to form an acrostic. Unfortunately, Thynne did not perceive this design, and has certainly begun some of the chapters either with the wrong letter or at a wrong place. The sense shews that the first letter of Book I. ch. viii. should be E, not O (see the note); and, with this correction, the initial letters of the First Book yield the words—margarete of.
In Book II, Thynne begins Chapters XI and XII at wrong places, viz. with the word ‘Certayn’ (p. 86, l. 133), and the word ‘Trewly’ (p. 89, l. 82). He thus produces the words—virtw have mctrci. It is obvious that the last word ought to be merci, which can be obtained by beginning Chapter XI with the word ‘Every,’ which suits the sense quite as well.
For the chapters of Book III, we are again dependent on Thynne. If we accept his arrangement as it stands, the letters yielded are—on thsknvi; and the three books combined give us the sentence:—margarete of virtw, have merci on thsknvi. Here ‘Margarete of virtw’ means ‘Margaret endued with divine virtue’; and the author appeals either to the Grace of God, or to the Church. The last word ought to give us the author’s name; but in that case the letters require rearrangement before the riddle can be read with certainty.
After advancing so far towards the solution of the mystery, I was here landed in a difficulty which I was unable to solve. But Mr. H. Bradley, by a happy inspiration, hit upon the idea that the text might have suffered dislocation; and was soon in a position to prove that no less than six leaves of the MS. must have been out of place, to the great detriment of the sense and confusion of the argument. He very happily restored the right order, and most obligingly communicated to me the result. I at once cancelled the latter part of the treatise (from p. 113 to the end), and reprinted this portion in the right order, according to the sense. With this correction, the unmeaning thsknvi is resolved into the two words thin usk, i. e. ‘thine Usk’; a result the more remarkable because Mr. Bradley had previously hit upon Usk as being the probable author. For the autobiographical details exactly coincide, in every particular, with all that is known of the career of Thomas Usk, according to Walsingham, the Rolls of Parliament, and the continuation of Higden’s Polychronicon by John Malverne (ed. Lumby, vol. ix. pp. 45–6, 134, 150, 169); cf. Lingard, ed. 1874, iii. 163–7.
The date of the composition of this piece can now be determined without much error. Usk was executed on March 4, 1388, and we find him referring to past events that happened towards the end of 1384 or later. The most likely date is about 1387. I here append an exact account of the order of the text as it appears in Thynne; every break in the text being denoted, in the present volume, by a dark asterisk.
Thynne’s text is in a correct order from p. 1 to p. 118, l. 56:—any mouable tyme there (Th. fol. 354, col. 2, l. 11)1 .
(1) Next comes, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 135, l. 94:—Fole, haue I not seyd—and ending at p. 143, l. 46:—syth god is the greatest loue and the (Th. fol. 356, back, col. 1, l. 5).
(2) Next, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 131, l. 97:—ne ought to loke thynges with resonnyng—and ending at p. 132, l. 161, at the end of a chapter (Th. fol. 356, back, col. 2, last line).
(3) Next, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 124, l. 8:—Now trewly, lady—and ending at p. 128, at the end of the chapter (Th. fol. 357, last line).
(4) Next, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 132, new chapter:—Uery trouth (quod she)—and ending at p. 135, l. 94:—that shal bringe out frute that (Th. fol. 358, back, col. 1, l. 25).
(5) Next, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 118, l. 56:—is nothyng preterit ne passed—and ending at p. 124, l. 7:—euer to onbyde (Th. fol. 360, col. 1, l. 24).
(6) Next, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 128, new chapter:—Nowe, lady (quod I) that tree to set—and ending at p. 131, l. 97:—vse ye (Th. fol. 360, back, col. 2, l. 9).
(7) Lastly, the text reverts to the true order, at p. 143, l. 46, with the words:—greatest wisdom (Th. fol. 360, back, col. 2, l. 9. as before). See The Athenæum, no. 3615, Feb. 6, 1897.
It is not difficult to account for this somewhat confusing dislocation. It is clear that the original MS. was written on quires of the usual size, containing 8 folios apiece. The first 10 quires, which we may call a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, and k, were in the right order. The rest of the MS. occupied quire l (of 8 folios), and quire m (of only 2); the last page being blank. The seventh folio of l was torn up the back, so that the two leaves parted company; and the same happened to both the folios in quire m, leaving six leaves loose. What then happened was this:—first of all, folios l1—l4 were reversed and turned inside out; then came the former halves of m1, and m2, and the latter half of l7; next l5 and l6 (undetached), with the former half of l7 thrust in the middle; so that the order in this extraordinary quire was as follows: l4, l3, l2, l1, all inside out, half of m1, half of m2, the latter half of l7, l5, l6, and the former half of l7, followed by the six undetached leaves. The last quire simply consisted of l8 (entire), followed by the latter halves of m2 and m1, which were kept in the right order by the fact that the last page was blank.
It has thus become possible for us to make some progress towards the right understanding of the work, which has hitherto been much misunderstood. Warton (Hist. E. Poetry, 1840, ii. 218) dismisses it in two lines:—‘It is a lover’s parody of Boethius’s book De Consolatione mentioned above’; whereas the author was not a lover at all, except in a spiritual sense. Even the fuller account in Morley’s English Writers (1890), v. 261, is not wholly correct. The statement is there made, that ‘it professes to be written, and probably was written, by a prisoner in danger of his life’; but the prison1 may have been at first metaphorical, as he could hardly have written the whole work in two or three months. In Book iii. ch. 9, ll. 131, 132, he prays that ‘God’s hand, which has scourged him in mercy, may hereafter mercifully keep and defend him in good plight.’ The whole tone of the treatise shews that he is writing to justify himself, and thinks that he has succeeded. But a stern doom was close at hand.
§ 9. The truth is that the attempts of Godwin and others to make the autobiographical statements of the author fit into the life of Chaucer, have quite led the critics out of the right track. That the author was not Chaucer is perfectly obvious to every one who reads the passage in the lower half of p. 140 with moderate attention; for the author there refers to Chaucer as Love’s ‘noble philosophical poet in English,’ who wrote a treatise of Love’s servant Troilus, and who ‘passeth all other makers in wit and in good reason of sentence’; praise which, however true it may be of Chaucer, the writer was certainly not entitled to claim for himself. The sole point in which the circumstances of the author agree with those of Chaucer is this—that they were both born in London; which is, obviously, too slight a coincidence to build upon. Now that we know the author’s name to have been Thomas Usk, the matter assumes quite another complexion. Usk was much inclined, in his early days, to a belief in Lollard opinions; but when he found that persistence in such belief was likely to lead to trouble and danger, he deemed it prudent to recant as completely as he could1 , and contemplates his consequent security with some complacency.
In just the same way, it appears that he had changed sides in politics. We first find him in the position of confidential clerk to John of Northampton, mayor of London in 1381–2 and 1382–3. In July, 1384, Usk was arrested and imprisoned in order to induce him to reveal certain secrets implicating Northampton. This he consented to do, and accused Northampton before the king at Reading, on the 18th of August. Northampton strenuously denied the charges against him, but was condemned as guilty, and sent to Corfe castle2 . After this, Usk joined the party of Sir Nicholas Brembre, mayor of London in 1383–4, 1384–5, and 1385–6, and Collector of Customs in 1381–3, when Chaucer was Comptroller of the same. Brembre had been active in procuring the condemnation of Northampton, and was, at the close of 1386, one of the few personal adherents who remained faithful to the king. In 1387, Richard was busily devising means for the overthrow of the duke of Gloucester’s regency, Brembre and Usk being on the king’s side; but his attempts were unsuccessful, and, in November of the same year, the duke of Gloucester and his partisans, who were called the ‘appellants,’ became masters of the situation; they accused the king’s councillors of treason, and imprisoned or banished their opponents. On Feb. 3, 1388, the appellants produced their charges against their victims, Brembre and Usk being among the number. Both were condemned and executed, Brembre on Feb. 20, and Usk on the 4th of March. Usk’s offence was that he had been appointed sub-sheriff of Middlesex by Brembre’s influence3 , with a view to the arrest of the duke of Gloucester and others of his party. His defence was that all that he had done was by the king’s orders, a defence on which he doubtless relied. Unfortunately for him, it was an aggravation of his crime. It was declared that he ought to have known that the king was not at the time his own master, but was acting according to the counsel of false advisers; and this sealed his fate. He was sentenced to be drawn, hung, and beheaded, and that his head should be set up over Newgate. The sentence was barbarously carried out; he was hung but immediately cut down, and clumsily beheaded by nearly thirty strokes of a sword. ‘Post triginta mucronis ictus fere decapitatus semper usque ad mortem nunquam fatebatur se deliquisse contra Johannem Northampton, sed erant omnia vera quae de eo praedicaverat coram rege in quodam consilio habito apud Radyngum anno elapso.’—Higden, App. 169. John of Malverne speaks as if he had some personal recollection of Usk, of whom he says—‘Satagebat namque astu et arte illorum amicitiam sibi attrahere quos procul dubio ante capitales hostes sibi fuisse cognovit.’—Ib. p. 45.
We can now readily understand that Usk’s praise of Chaucer must have been more embarrassing than acceptable; and perhaps it was not altogether without design that the poet, in his House of Fame, took occasion to let the world know how he devoted his leisure time to other than political subjects.
§ 10. Some of the events of his life are alluded to by Usk in the present treatise. He justifies his betrayal of Northampton (p. 26, ll. 53–103, p. 28, ll. 116–201), and is grateful for the king’s pardon (p. 60, ll. 120–4). He refers to his first imprisonment (p. 60, l. 104), and tells us that he offered wager of battle against all who disputed his statements (p. 60, l. 116; p. 31, l. 10); but no one accepted the wager.
He further tells us how he endeavoured to make his peace with the Church. Taking his cue from the parable of the merchantman seeking goodly pearls (p. 16, l. 84), he likens the visible Church of Christ to the pearl of great price (p. 145, l. 103; p. 94, l. 121), and piteously implores her mercy (p. 8, l. 135); and the whole tone of the piece shews his confidence that he is reasonably safe (p. 144, l. 120). He sees clearly that lollardy is unacceptable, and indulges in the usual spiteful fling against the cockle (lolia) which the Lollards were reproached with sowing (p. 48, l. 93). He had once been a heretic (p. 99, l. 29), and in danger of ‘never returning’ to the true Church (p. 99, l. 38); but he secured his safety by a full submission (p. 105, l. 133).
At the same time, there is much about the piece that is vague, shifty, and unsatisfactory. He is too full of excuses, and too plausible; in a word, too selfish. Hence he has no real message for others, but only wishes to display his skill, which he does by help of the most barefaced and deliberate plagiarism. It was not from the Consolatio Philosophiae of Boethius, but from the English translation of that work by Chaucer, that he really drew his materials; and he often takes occasion to lift lines or ideas from the poem of Troilus whenever he can find any that come in handy. In one place he turns a long passage from the House of Fame into very inferior prose. There are one or two passages that remind us of the Legend of Good Women (i. pr. 100, ii. 3. 38, iii. 7. 38); but they are remarkably few. But he keeps a copy of Chaucer’s Boethius always open before him, and takes from it passage after passage, usually with many alterations, abbreviations, expansions, and other disfigurements; but sometimes without any alteration at all. A few examples will suffice, as a large number of parallel passages are duly pointed out in the Notes.
§ 11. In Chaucer’s Boethius (bk. i. pr. 3. 10), when Philosophy, the heavenly visitant, comes to comfort the writer, her first words are:—‘O my norry, sholde I forsaken thee now?’ In the Testament (p. 10, l. 37), Heavenly Love commences her consolations with the same exclamation:—‘O my nory, wenest thou that my maner be, to foryete my frendes or my servaunts?’ The Latin text—‘An te, alumne, desererem?’—does not suggest this remarkable mode of address.
This, however, is a mere beginning; it is not till further on that plagiarisms begin to be frequent. At first, as at p. 37, the author copies the sense rather than the words; but he gradually begins to copy words and phrases also. Thus, at p. 43, l. 38, his ‘chayres of domes’ comes from Chaucer’s ‘heye chayres’ in bk. i. met. 5. 27; and then, in the next line, we find ‘vertue, shynende naturelly . . is hid under cloude,’ where Chaucer has ‘vertu, cler-shyninge naturelly is hid in derke derknesses’; bk. i. met. 5. 28. At p. 44, l. 66, we have: ‘Whan nature brought thee forth, come thou not naked out of thy moders wombe? Thou haddest no richesse’; where Chaucer has: ‘Whan that nature broughte thee forth out of thy moder wombe, I receyved thee naked, and nedy of alle thinges’; bk. ii. pr. 2. 10. Just a few lines below (ll. 71–76) we have the sense, but not the words, of the neighbouring passage in Chaucer (ll. 23–25). Further literal imitations are pointed out in the Notes to l. 85 in the same chapter, and elsewhere. See, for example, the Notes to Book ii. ch. iv. 4, 14, 20, 61; ch. v. 15, 57, 65, 67, 79; ch. vi. 11, 30, 74, 117, 123, 129, 132, 143; ch. vii. 8, 14, 20, 23, 30, 39, 50, 74, 95, 98, 105, 109, 114, 117, 130, 135, 139, 148; &c.
Those who require conviction on this point may take such an example as this.
‘O! a noble thing and clere is power, that is not founden mighty to kepe himselfe’; (p. 70, l. 20).
‘O! a noble thing and a cleer thing is power, that is nat founden mighty to kepen it-self’; Ch. Boeth. bk. iii. pr. 5. 5–7.
The Latin text is: ‘O praeclara potentia quae nec ad conseruationem quidem sui satis efficax inuenitur.’ I see no reason for supposing that the author anywhere troubled himself to consult the Latin original. Indeed, it is possible to correct errors in the text by help of Chaucer’s version; see the last note on p. 461.
§ 12. We get the clearest idea of the author’s method by observing his treatment of the House of Fame, 269–359. It is worth while to quote the whole passage:—
If the reader will now turn to p. 54, l. 45, and continue down to l. 81 on the next page, he will find the whole of this passage turned into prose, with numerous cunning alterations and a few insertions, yet including all such words as are printed above in italics! That is, he will find all except the proverb in ll. 290, 291; but this also is not far off; for it occurs over the leaf, on p. 56, at l. 115, and again at p. 22, ll. 44–45! Surely, this is nothing but book-making, and the art of it does not seem to be difficult.
§ 13. The author expressly acknowledges his admiration of Troilus (p. 140, l. 292); and it is easy to see his indebtedness to that poem. He copies Chaucer’s curious mistake as to Styx being a pit (p. 3, l. 80, and the note). He adopts the words let-game (p. 18, l. 124) and wiver (p. 129, l. 27). He quotes a whole line from Troilus at p. 27, l. 78 (see note); and spoils another one at p. 34, ch. viii. l. 5, a third at p. 80, l. 116, and a fourth at p. 128, ch. vii. l. 2. We can see whence he took his allusion to ‘playing raket,’ and to the dock and nettle, at p. 13, ll. 166, 167; and the phrase to ‘pype with an yvè-lefe’ at p. 134, l. 50.
It is further observable that he had read a later text of Piers Plowman with some care, but he seems to quote it from memory, as at p. 18, l. 153, and p. 24, l. 118. A few other passages in which he seems to have taken ideas from this popular and remarkable poem are pointed out in the Notes. It is probable that he thence adopted the words legistres and skleren; for which see the Glossary, and consult the Notes for the references which are there given.
§ 14. The author is frequently guilty of gross inaccuracies. He seems to confuse Cain with Ham (p. 52, ll. 107, 109), but Cayn, says Mr. Bradley, may be Thynne’s misprint for Cam, i. e. Ham. He certainly confuses Perdiccas with Arrhidæus (p. 52, l. 116). He speaks of the eighth year, instead of the seventh, as being a sabbatical year, and actually declares that the ordinary week contains seven working days (p. 24, ll. 102–104)! He tells us that Sunday begins ‘at the first hour after noon (!) on Saturday’ (p. 82, l. 163). Hence it is not to be wondered at that some of his arguments and illustrations are quite unintelligible.
§ 15. The title of the work, viz. The Testament of Love, readily reminds us of the passage in Gower already quoted in vol. iii. p. xliii., in which the goddess Venus proposes that Chaucer should write ‘his testament of love,’ in order ‘to sette an ende of alle his werke.’ I have already explained that the real reference in this passage is to the Legend of Good Women; but I am not prepared, at present, to discuss the connection between the expression in Gower and the treatise by Usk. The fact that our author adopted the above title may have led to the notion that Chaucer wrote the treatise here discussed; but it is quite clear that he had nothing to do with it.
Professor Morley well says that ‘the writer of this piece uses the word Testament in the old Scriptural sense of a witnessing, and means by Love the Divine Love, the Christian spirit encouraging and directing the wish for the grace of God, called Margaret, the pearl beyond all price.’ To which, however, it is highly essential to add that Margaret is not used in the sense of ‘grace’ alone, but is also employed, in several passages, to signify ‘the visible Church of Christ.’ The author is, in fact, careful to warn us of the varying, the almost Protean sense of the word at p. 145, where he tells us that ‘Margarite, a woman [i. e. properly a woman’s name], betokeneth grace, lerning, or wisdom of god, or els holy church.’ His object seems to have been to extend the meaning of the word so as to give him greater scope for ingenuity in varying his modes of reference to it. He has certainly succeeded in adding to the obscurity of his subject. That by ‘holy church’ he meant the visible Church of Christ of his own time, appears from the remarkable assertion that it is ‘deedly,’ i. e. mortal (p. 94, l. 121). Such an epithet is inapplicable to the Church in its spiritual character. It may also be observed that, however much the sense implied by Margarite may vary, it never takes the meaning which we should most readily assign to it; i. e. it never means a live woman, nor represents even an imaginary object of natural human affection. The nearest approach to such an ideal is at p. 94, l. 114, where we are told that the jewel which he hopes to attain is as precious a pearl as a woman is by nature.
§ 16. It hardly seems worth while to give a detailed analysis of the whole piece. An analysis of the First Book (which is, on the whole, the best) is given by Professor Morley; and the hints which I have already given as to the character and situation of the author will enable the reader to regard the treatise from a right point of view. But it is proper to observe that the author himself tells us how he came to divide the work into three books1 , and what are the ideas on which each book is founded. Each of the three books has an introductory chapter. That to the First Book I have called a Prologue; and perhaps it would have been strictly correct to have called the first chapters of the other books by the same name. In the introductory chapter to the Third Book, p. 101, he declares that the First Book is descriptive of Error, or Deviation (which the editions print as Demacion!); the Second, of Grace; and the Third, of Joy. In other words, the First Book is particularly devoted to recounting the errors of his youth, especially how he was led by others into a conspiracy against the state and into deviation from orthodoxy. In the Prologue, he excuses himself for writing in English, and announces the title of the work. He then assures us that he is merely going to gather up the crumbs that have fallen from the table, and to glean handfuls of corn which Boethius has dropped. ‘A sly servant in his own help is often much commended’; and this being understood, he proceeds to help himself accordingly, as has already been explained.
§ 17.Book I: Ch. I. In Chapter I, he describes his misery, and hopes that the dice will turn, and implores the help of Margaret, here used (apparently) to typify the grace of God. He represents himself as being in prison, in imitation of Boethius; but I suspect that, in the present passage, the prison was metaphorical. (He had been imprisoned in 1384, and in 1387 was imprisoned again; but that is another matter.)
Ch. II. Heavenly Love suddenly appears to him, as Philosophy appeared to Boethius, and is ready to console and reclaim him. She is aware of his losses, and he tries to vindicate his constancy of character.
Ch. III. He describes how he once wandered through the woods at the close of autumn, and was attacked by some animals who had suddenly turned wild. To save himself, he embarks on board a ship; but the reader is disappointed to find that the adventure is wholly unreal; the ship is the ship of Travail, peopled by Sight, Lust, Thought, and Will. He is driven on an island, where he catches a glimpse of Love, and finds a Margaret, a pearl of price. He appeals to Love to comfort him.
Ch. IV. Love first reproves and then consoles him. She enquires further into his complaints.
Ch. V. She advises him to contemn such as have spoken against him. He complains that he has served seven years for Rachel, and prays for comfort in his eighth year. She exhorts him to perseverance.
Ch. VI. He here goes into several details as to his previous conduct. The authorities threatened to keep him in prison, unless he would reveal a certain secret or plot. He was afraid that the peace of his native place, London, would suffer; and to procure its peace, he ‘declared certain points.’ Being charged upon oath to reveal certain secret dealings, he at once did so; for which he incurred much odium.
Ch. VII. To prove that he had only spoken the truth, he offered wager of battle; and was justified by the fact that no one accepted it. He had not perjured himself, because his oath in the law-court was superior to his former oath of secrecy. He only meant truth, but was sadly slandered. It is absurd to be ‘a stinking martyr’ in a false cause.
Ch. VIII. Love tells him he has greatly erred, and must expect much correction. Earthly fame should be despised, whilst he looks for the fame that comes after death.
Ch. IX. Love vindicates the greatness of God and the goodness of His providence.
Ch. X. The author complains of his hard fortune; he has lost his goods and has been deprived of his office. Love explains that adversity teaches salutary lessons, and that the true riches may still be his own.
§ 18.Book II. In the first chapter (or Prologue) of the Second Book, he again discusses the object of his work. In Chapter II, Love sings him a Latin song, introducing complaints against the clergy such as frequently occur in Piers the Plowman. In Chapter III, we find a discourse on womankind, largely borrowed from Chaucer’s House of Fame. The next eight chapters are chiefly devoted to a discussion of the way by which the repentant sinner may come to ‘the knot’ of Heavenly bliss; and it is here, in particular, that a large portion of Chaucer’s Boethius is freely imitated or copied. The last three chapters recount the excellences of Margaret, which in many passages refers rather to the visible Church than to divine Grace.
§ 19.Book III. The first chapter is again introductory, explaining why the number of Books is three. ‘The Margaret in virtue is likened to Philosophy, with her three kinds.’ It is remarkable that this Third Book, which is dedicated to Joy, is the dullest of the three, being largely taken up with the questions of predestination and free will, with more borrowings from Chaucer’s Boethius. In Chapter V, Love explains how continuance in good will produces the fruit of Grace; and, in Chapters VI and VII, shews how such grace is to be attained. Chapter IX recurs to the subject of predestination; after which the work comes to a formal conclusion, with excuses for its various imperfections.
II. The Plowmans Tale.
This piece does not appear in Thynne’s first edition of 1532, but occurs, for the first time, in the second edition of 1542, where it is added at the end of the Canterbury Tales, after the Parson’s Tale. In the next (undated) edition, probably printed about 1550, it is placed before the Parson’s Tale, as if it were really Chaucer’s, and the same arrangement occurs in the fourth edition, that of 1561, by John Stowe. It is worth mentioning that some booksellers put forward a fable as to the true date of the undated edition being 1539, in order to enhance the value of their copies; but the pretence is obviously false, as is shewn by collation1 ; besides which, it is not likely that the Plowman’s Tale would have been at first inserted before the Parson’s Tale, then placed after it, and then again placed before it. It is best to separate the first four editions by nearly equal intervals, their dates being, respectively, 1532, 1542, about 1550, and 1561.
Comparison of the black-letter editions shews that the first is the best; and the later ones, being mere reprints, grow gradually worse. Hence, in this case, the edition of 1542 is the sole authority, and the readings of the inferior copies may be safely neglected. It is remarkable that Mr. T. Wright, in his edition of this poem printed in his Political Poems and Songs, i. 304, should have founded his text upon a reprint of Speght in 1687, when he might have taken as his authority a text more than 140 years older. The result is, naturally, that his text is much worse than was at all necessary.
According to Speght, there was once a MS. copy of this piece in Stowe’s library, but no one knows what became of it. According to Todd, in his Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer, p. xxxix, there was once a black-letter edition of it, entitled ‘The Plouuman’s tale compylled by syr Geffray Chaucer knyght.’ Todd says: ‘It is of the duodecimo size, in the black letter, without date, and imprinted at London in Paules churche-yarde at the sygne of the Hyll, by Wyllyam Hyll. I have compared with the poem as printed by Urry forty or fifty lines, and I found almost as many variations between them2 . The colophon of this book is, Thus endeth the boke of Chaunterburye Tales. This rarity belongs to the Rev. Mr. Conybeare, the present Professor of the Saxon language in the University of Oxford.’ This edition can no longer be traced. Hazlitt mentions a black-letter edition of this piece, printed separately by Thomas Godfray (about 1535), on twenty leaves; of which only one copy is known, viz. that at Britwell. There is also a late print of it in the Bodleian Library, dated 1606.
§ 21. It is needless to discuss the possibility that Chaucer wrote this Tale, as it is absent from all the MSS.; and it does not appear that the ascription of it to him was taken seriously. It is obvious, from the introductory Prologue (p. 147), that the author never intended his work to be taken for Chaucer’s; he purposely chooses a different metre from any that occurs in the Canterbury Tales, and he introduces his Ploughman as coming under the Host’s notice quite suddenly, so that the Host is constrained to ask him—‘what man art thou?’ The whole manner of the Tale is conspicuously and intentionally different from that of Chaucer; and almost the only expression which at all resembles Chaucer occurs in ll. 51, 52:—
Chaucer himself, before reciting his Tale of Melibeus, said much the same thing:—
‘And let me tellen al my tale, I preye.’
I do not know why Mr. Wright, when reprinting this piece, omitted the Prologue. It is a pity that half of the sixth stanza is missing.
§ 22. At l. 1065 we meet with a most important statement:—
It is generally agreed that the author here claims to have previously written the well-known piece entitled Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, which I edited for the Early English Text Society in 1867. I then took occasion to compare the language of these two pieces (which I shall shortly call the Crede and the Tale), and I found ample confirmation, from internal evidence, that the claim is certainly true. There are many similarities of expression, some of which I here lay before the reader.
From the Crede.
Curteis Crist (1, 140).
cutted cote (434).
y can nohȜt my Crede (8).
At marketts and myracles, we medleth us nevere (107).
For we buldeth a burwȜ, a brod and a large (118).
portreid and peint (121).
peynt and portred (192).
y sey coveitise catel to fongen (146).
Of double worstede y-dyȜt (228).
Than ther lefte in Lucifer, er he were lowe fallen (374).
opon the plow hongen (421).
povere in gost God him-self blisseth (521).
ben maysters icalled, That the gentill Jesus . . . purly defended (574).
to brenne the bodye in a bale of fijr (667).
Thei shulden nouȜt after the face . . . demen (670).
Thei schulden delven and diggen and dongen the erthe,
And mene mong-corn bred to her mete fongen (785).
He miȜte no maistre ben kald, for Crist that defended (838).
From the Tale.
curteys Christ (482).
cutted clothes (929).
Suche that conne nat hir Crede (413).
Market-beters, and medling make (871).
And builde als brode as a citè (743).
I-paynted and portred (135).
To catche catell as covytous (385; cf. 856).
With double worsted well y-dight (1002).
As lowe as Lucifer such shall fall (124).
honged at the plow (1042).
The pore in spirit gan Christ blesse (915).
Maysters be called defended he tho (1115).
Thou shalt be brent in balefull fyre (1234).
They nolde nat demen after the face (714).
Threshing and dyking fro town to town,
With sory mete, and not half y-now (1043).
Maysters be called defended he tho (1115).
The Crede is written in alliterative verse; and it will be observed that alliteration is employed in the Tale very freely. Another peculiarity in the Tale may here be noticed, viz. the use of the same rime, fall or befall, throughout Part I, with the exception of ll. 205–228. Indeed, in the first line of Part II, the author apologizes for being unable to find any more rimes for fall, and proceeds to rime upon amend throughout that Part. In Part III, he begins to rime upon grace in the first two stanzas, but soon abandons it for the sake of freedom; however, at l. 1276, he recurs to grace, and continues to rime upon it till the end. It is clear that the author possessed considerable facility of expression. We can date these pieces approximately without much error. The proceedings against Walter Brute, expressly alluded to in the Crede, l. 657, lasted from Oct. 15, 1391, to Oct. 6, 1393, when he submitted himself to the bishop of Hereford. We may well date the Crede about 1394, and the Tale (which probably soon followed it, as the author repeats some of his expressions) about 13951 .
Both these pieces are written in a spirited style, and are of considerable interest for the light which they throw upon many of the corrupt practices of the monks, friars, and clergy. The Crede is directed against the friars in particular, and reflects many of the opinions of Wyclif, as will easily appear by comparing it with Wyclif’s works. See, in particular, his Fifty Heresies and Errors of Friars (Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 366). It would have been easy to crowd the Notes with quotations from Wyclif; but it is sufficient to point out so obvious a source. I have not observed any passage in which the author copies the exact language of Langland. The dialect seems to be some form of Midland, and is somewhat archaic; many of the verbal forms are of some value to the philologist. Taken altogether, it is a piece of considerable interest and merit. Ten Brink alludes to it as ‘that transparent, half-prophetic allegory of the Quarrel between the Griffin and the Pelican’; and adds—‘The Griffin was the representative of the prelates and the monks, the Pelican that of real Christianity in Wyclif’s sense. At a loss for arguments, the Griffin calls in at last all the birds of prey in order to destroy its rival. The Phoenix, however, comes to the help of the Pelican, and terribly destroys the robber-brood.’
Tyrwhitt observed, with great acuteness, that Spenser’s allusion, in the Epilogue to his Shepheards Calender, to ‘the Pilgrim that the Ploughman playde awhyle,’ may well refer to the author of the Plowman’s Tale rather than to Langland1 . Cf. p. 147, l. 12. It was natural that Spenser should mention him along with Chaucer, because their productions were bound up together in the same volume; a volume which was, to Spenser, a treasure-house of archaic words.
The discussion on points of religion between the Griffin and the Pelican clearly suggested to Dryden his discussion between the Hind and the Panther. His choice of quadrupeds in place of birds is certainly no improvement.
III. Jack Upland.
Of this piece, no MS. copy is known. It is usually said to have been first printed by Speght, in his second edition of Chaucer’s Works in 1602; but I have been so fortunate as to find a better and earlier text in the library of Caius College, Cambridge, to which my attention was drawn by a note in Hazlitt’s Bibliographer’s Handbook. This copy, here taken as the basis of my text, and collated with Speght, is a small book consisting of only 16 leaves. The title-page contains the following words, within a square border. ¶ Jack vp Lande | Compyled by the | famous Geoffrey | Chaucer. | Ezechielis. xiii. | ¶ Wo be vnto you that | dishonour me to me (sic) peo | ple for an handful of bar | lye & for a pece of bread. | Cum priuilegio | Regali.
At the end of the treatise is the colophon: ¶ Prynted for Ihon Gough. Cum Priuilegio Regali.
Hazlitt conjectures that it was printed about 1540. I think we may safely date it in 1536; for it is bound up in a volume with several other tracts, and it so happens that the tract next following it is by Myles Coverdale, and is dated 1536, being printed in just the very same type and style. We can also tell that it must have been printed after 1535, because the verse from Ezekiel xiii, as quoted on the title-page (see above), exactly corresponds with Coverdale’s version of the Bible, the first edition of which appeared in that year.
The text of Jack Upland, in the Caius College copy, has the following heading, in small type:—‘¶ These bē the lewed questions of Freres rytes and obseruaunces the whych they chargen more than Goddes lawe, and therfore men shulden not gyue hem what so they beggen, tyll they hadden answered and clerely assoyled these questions.’
As this copy is, on the whole, considerably superior to Speght’s both as regards sense and spelling, I have not given his inferior readings and errors. In a very few places, Speght furnishes some obvious corrections; and in such instances his readings are noted.
§ 24. A very convenient reprint of Speght’s text is given in Wright’s edition of Political Poems and Songs (Record Series), vol. ii. p. 16. In the same volume, p. 39, is printed a reply to Jack Upland’s questions by a friar who facetiously calls himself Friar Daw Topias, though it appears (from a note printed at p. 114) that his real name was John Walsingham. Nor is this all; for Friar Daw’s reply is further accompanied by Jack Upland’s rejoinder, printed, for convenience, below Friar Daw’s text. It is most likely, as Mr. Wright concludes, that all three pieces may be dated in the same year. It was necessary that Friar Daw (who gave himself this name in order to indicate that he is a comparatively unlearned man, yet easily able to refute his audacious questioner) should produce his reply at once; and we may be sure that Jack’s rejoinder was not long delayed. Fortunately, the date can be determined with sufficient exactness; for Jack’s rejoinder contains the allusion: ‘and the kyng by his juges trwe [sholde] execute his lawe, as he did now late, whan he hangid you traytours,’ p. 86. This clearly refers to June, 14021 , when eight Franciscan friars were hanged at Tyburn for being concerned in a plot against the life of Henry IV. We may, accordingly, safely refer all three pieces to the year 1402; shortly after Chaucer’s death.
§ 25. It is also tolerably clear that there must have been two texts of ‘Jack Upland,’ an earlier and a later one. The earlier one, of which we have no copy, can easily be traced by help of Friar Daw’s reply, as he quotes all that is material point by point. It only extended as far as the 54th question in the present edition (p. 199); after which followed two more questions which do not here reappear. The later copy also contains a few questions, not far from the beginning, which Friar Daw ignores. It is clear that we only possess a later, and, on the whole, a fuller copy. One of the omitted questions relates to transubstantiation; and, as any discussion of it was extremely likely, at that date, to be ended by burning the disputant at the stake, it was certainly prudent to suppress it. Not perceiving this point, Mr. Wright too hastily concluded that our copy of Jack Upland is extremely corrupt, a conclusion quite unwarranted; inasmuch as Friar Daw, in spite of his affectation of alliterative verse, quotes his adversary’s questions with reasonable correctness. On this unsound theory Mr. Wright has built up another, still less warranted, viz. that the original copy of Jack Upland must have been written in alliterative verse; for no other reason than because Friar Daw’s reply is so written. It is obvious that alliteration is conspicuously absent, except in the case of the four lines (424–7), which are introduced, by way of flourish, at the end. My own belief is that our copy of Jack Upland is a second edition, i. e. an amended and extended copy, which has been reasonably well preserved. It is more correct than the Plowmans Tale, and very much more correct than the Testament of Love.
§ 26. Mr. Wright further imagines that Jack Upland’s rejoinder to Friar Daw’s reply, which he prints from ‘a contemporary MS. in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, MS. Digby 41,’ was also originally in alliterative verse. This supposition is almost as gratuitous as the former; for, although there are very frequent traces of alliteration as an occasional embellishment, it is otherwise written in ordinary prose. The mere chopping up of prose into bits of not very equal length, as in Mr. Wright’s print, does not produce verse of any kind. Friar Daw’s verses are bad enough, as he did not understand his model (obviously the Ploughman’s Crede), but he usually succeeds in making a kind of jingle, with pauses, for the most part, in the right place. But there is no verse discoverable in Jack Upland; he preferred straightforward prose, for reasons that are perfectly obvious.
For further remarks, I beg leave to refer the reader to Mr. Wright’s Introduction, pp. xii-xxiv, where he will find an excellent summary of the arguments adduced on both sides. There is a slight notice of Jack Upland in Morley’s English Writers, vi. 234.
IV. John Gower: The Praise of Peace.
In Morley’s English Writers, iv. 157, this poem is entitled ‘De Pacis Commendatione,’ on MS. authority (see p. 216). Mr. E. B. Nicholson, who has made a special study of Gower’s poems, suggested ‘The Praise of Peace,’ which I have gladly adopted. I am much obliged to Mr. Nicholson for his assistance in various ways; and, in particular, for the generous loan of his own transcript of this poem.
§ 28. In Todd’s Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer, p. 95, is a notice of a MS. ‘in the present Marquis of Stafford’s library at Trentham,’ which had been previously described in Warton’s Hist. of E. Poetry as being ‘in Lord Gower’s library.’ Mr. Wright alludes to it as ‘a contemporary MS. in the possession of his grace the duke of Sutherland.’ It may be called ‘the Trentham MS.’ ‘The Praise of Peace’ was printed from it by Mr. Wright, in his Political Poems and Songs, ii. 4–15; and I have followed his text, which I denote by ‘T.’ At the same time, I have collated it with the text of Thynne’s edition of 1532, which is a very good one. The differences are slight.
Warton describes the MS. as ‘a thin oblong MS. on vellum, containing some of Gower’s poems in Latin, French, and English. By an entry in the first leaf, in the handwriting and under the signature of Thomas lord Fairfax, Cromwell’s general, an antiquarian, and a lover and collector of curious manuscripts, it appears that this book was presented by the poet Gower, about 14001 , to Henry IV; and that it was given by lord Fairfax to his friend and kinsman Sir Thomas Gower, knight and baronet, in the year 1656.’ He goes on to say that Fairfax had it from Charles Gedde, Esq., of St. Andrews; and that it was at one time in the possession of King Henry VII, while earl of Richmond, who wrote in it his own name in the form ‘Rychemond.’
The MS. contains (1) The Praise of Peace, preceded by the seven Latin lines (386–392), which I have relegated to the end of the poem, as in Thynne. The title is given in the colophon (p. 216); after which follow the twelve Latin lines (393–404), printed on the same page. (2) Some complimentary verses in Latin, also addressed to Henry IV, printed in Wright’s Political Poems, ii. 1–3. (3) Fifty Balades in French, which have been printed by Stengel (Warton prints four of them), with the colophon—Expliciunt carmina Johis Gower que Gallice composita Balades dicuntur.’ (4) Two short Latin poems in elegiacs; see Warton. (5) A French poem on the Dignity or Excellence of Marriage. (6) Seventeen Latin hexameters. (7) Gower’s Latin verses on his blindness, beginning—
See Todd and Warton for more minute particulars.
§ 29. The poem itself may safely be dated in the end of 1399, for reasons given in the note to l. 393. It is of some interest, as being Gower’s last poem in English, and the spirit of it is excellent, though it contains no very striking lines. We have not much of Gower’s work in the form of seven-line stanzas. The Confessio Amantis contains only twelve such stanzas; iii. 349–352. I draw attention to the earliest known reference (l. 295) to the game of ‘tenetz’; the enumeration of the nine worthies (ll. 281–3); and the reference to a story about Constantine which, in the Confessio Amantis, is related at considerable length (l. 339).
We may compare with this poem the stanzas in praise of peace in Hoccleve’s De Regimine Principum, quoted in Morley’s English Writers (1890), vol. vi. pp. 131–2.
V. Thomas Hoccleve: The Letter of Cupid.
This poem needs little discussion. It is known to be Hoccleve’s; see Dr. Furnivall’s edition of Hoccleve’s Minor Poems, E. E. T. S., 1892, p. 72. As explained in the notes, it is rather closely imitated from the French poem entitled L’Epistre au Dieu d’Amours, written by Christine de Pisan. At the end of her poem, Christine gives the date of its composition, viz. 1399; and Hoccleve, in like manner, gives the date of his poem as 1402. The poem consists of sixty-eight stanzas, of which not more than eighteen are wholly independent of the original. The chief original passages are ll. 176–189, 316–329, and 374–434.
The poem is entirely occupied with a defence of women, such as a woman might well make. It takes the form of a reproof, addressed by Cupid to all male lovers; and is directed, in particular, against the sarcasms of Jean de Meun (l. 281) in the celebrated Roman de la Rose.
Of this poem there are several MS. copies; see footnotes at p. 217. The best is probably the Ashburnham MS., but it has not yet been printed. I chiefly follow MS. Fairfax 16, which Dr. Furnivall has taken as the basis of his text.
There is also a poor and late copy in the Bannatyne MS., at fol. 269; see the print of it for the Hunterian Club, 1879; p. 783.
VI. The same: Two Balades.
These two Balades, also by Hoccleve, were composed at the same time. The former is addressed to King Henry V, and the latter to the Knights of the Garter. They are very closely connected with a much longer poem of 512 lines, which was addressed to Sir John Oldcastle in August, 1415; and must have been written at about that date. It was natural enough that, whilst addressing his appeal to Oldcastle to renounce his heresies, the poet should briefly address the king on the same subject at the same time. I think we may safely date this piece, like the other, in August, 1415.
The remarkable likeness between the two pieces appears most in the references to Justinian and to Constantine. In fact, the reference to Justinian in l. 3 of the former of the Balades here printed would be unintelligible but for the full explanation which the companion poem affords. I have quoted, in the note to l. 3, the Latin note which is written in the margin of st. 24 of the address to Oldcastle; and I quote here the stanza itself:—
Compare with this the fourth stanza of Balade I.
We may regret that Hoccleve’s desire to make an example of heretics was so soon fulfilled. Only three years later, in Dec. 1418, Sir John Oldcastle was captured in Wales, brought up to London, and publicly burnt.
My text follows the sole good MS. (Phillipps 8151); which I have collated with the earliest printed text, that of 1542. There is, indeed, another MS. copy of the poem in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge (R. 3. 15); but it is only a late copy made from the printed book.
VII. Henry Scogan: A Moral Balade.
The heading to this poem is from MS. Ashmole 59; it is, unfortunately, somewhat obscure. It is, of course, not contemporaneous with the poem, but was added, by way of note, by John Shirley, when transcribing it. In fact, the third son of Henry IV was not created duke of Bedford till 1415, after the accession of Henry V; whereas Henry V is here referred to as being still ‘my lord the Prince.’ Hence the poem was written in the reign of Henry IV (1399–1413); but we can easily come much nearer than this to the true date. We may note, first of all, that Chaucer is referred to as being dead (l. 65); so that the date is after 1400. Again, the poem does not appear to have been recited by the author; it was sent, in the author’s handwriting, to the assembled guests (l. 3). Further, Scogan says that he was ‘called’ the ‘fader,’ i. e. tutor, of the young princes (l. 2); and that he sent the letter to them out of fervent regard for their welfare, in order to warn them (l. 35). He regrets that sudden age has come upon him (l. 10), and wishes to impart to them the lessons which the approach of old age suggests. All this points to a time when Scogan was getting past his regular work as tutor, though he still retained the title; which suggests a rather late date. We find, however, from the Inquisitiones post Mortem (iii. 315), that Henry Scogan died in 1407, and I have seen it noted (I forget where) that he only attained the age of forty-six. This shews that he was only relatively old, owing, probably, to infirm health; and we may safely date the poem in 1406 or 1407, the latter being the more likely. In 1407, the ages of the young princes were nineteen, eighteen, seventeen, and sixteen respectively, and it is not likely that Scogan had been their tutor for more than twelve years at most. This provisional date of 1407 sufficiently satisfies all the conditions.
The four sons of Henry IV were Henry, prince of Wales, born at Monmouth in 1388; Thomas, born in 1389, and created duke of Clarence in 1412; John, born in 1390, created duke of Bedford in 1415; and Humphrey, born in 1391, created duke of Gloucester in 1414.
§ 33. The expression at a souper of feorthe merchande is difficult, and I can only guess at the sense. Feorthe is Shirley’s spelling of ferthe, i. e. fourth. Merchande is probably equivalent to O. F. marchandie or marchandise. Godefroy gives an example of the latter in the sense of ‘merchant’s company.’ I suppose that feorthe merchande means ‘fourth meeting of merchants,’ or the fourth of the four quarterly meetings of a guild. Toulmin Smith, in his English Gilds, p. 32, says that quarterly meetings for business were common; though some guilds met only once, twice, or thrice in the course of a year.
The Vintry is described by Stow in his Survey of London (ed. Thomas, p. 90): ‘Then next over against St. Martin’s church, is a large house built of stone and timber, with vaults for the stowage of wines, and is called the Vintry. . . . In this house Henry Picard [lord mayor in 1356–7] feasted four kings in one day.’
I need not repeat here what I have already said about Scogan in vol. i. p. 83.
I may add to the note about Lewis John (vol. i. p. 84), that he was a person of some note. In 1423 (Feb. 8), ‘Ludowicus Johan, armiger, constitutus est seneschall et receptor generalis ducatus Cornub.’: see Ordinances of the Privy Council, iii. 24. He is further mentioned in the same, ii. 334, 342.
Chaucer’s Balade on Gentilesse, quoted in full in ll. 105–125, is in seven-line stanzas; and is thus distinguished from the rest of the poem, which is written in eight-line stanzas. It may be noted that Scogan’s rimes are extremely correct, if we compare them with Chaucer’s as a standard.
Of this piece there are two early printed copies, one by Caxton, and one by Thynne (1532); and two MSS., Ashmole 59 and Harl. 2251. It is remarkable that the printed copies are better than the MSS. as regards readings.
VIII. The Complaint of the Black Knight.
Such is the title in Thynne’s edition (1532). In MS. F. (Fairfax 16), it is entitled—‘Complaynte of a Loveres Lyfe’; and there is a printed edition with the title—‘The Complaynte of a Louers Lyfe. Imprynted at London in the flete strete at the sygne of the Sonne, by Wynkyn de Worde’; no date, 4to. on twelve leaves. In MS. S. (Arch. Selden, B. 24), there is an erroneous colophon—‘Here endith the Maying and disporte of Chaucere’; which gives the wrong title, and assigns it to the wrong author. In accordance with the last MS., it was printed, with the erroneous title—‘Here begynnys the mayng or disport of chaucer’—in a volume ‘Imprentit in the south gait of Edinburgh be Walter chepman and Androw myllar the fourth day of aperile the yhere of god: m.ccccc. and viii yheris’ ; and this scarce copy was reprinted as piece no. 8 in The Knightly Tale of Golagrus and Gawane, &c., as reprinted by Laing in 1827.
But the fullest title is that in MS. Ad. (Addit. 16165), written out by John Shirley, who says: ‘And here filowyng begynnethe a Right lusty amorous balade, made in wyse of a complaynt of a Right worshipfulle Knyght that truly euer serued his lady, enduryng grete disese by fals envye and malebouche; made by Lydegate’ (fol. 190, back). Some of the pages have the heading, ‘The compleynte of a Knight made by Lidegate1 .’
This attribution of the poem to Lydgate, by so good a judge as Shirley, renders the authorship certain; and the ascription is fully confirmed by strong internal evidence. Much of it is in Lydgate’s best manner, and his imitation of Chaucer is, in places, very close; while, at the same time, it is easy to point out non-Chaucerian rimes, such as whyte, brighte, 2; pitously, malady (Ch. maladye), 137; felyngly, malady, 188; mente, diligent, 246; grace, alas, 529; seyn, payn (Ch. peyne), 568; diurnal, fal, (Ch. falle), 590; payn, agayn, 650; queen (Ch. quene), seen, 674. Besides which, there are two mere assonances in two consecutive stanzas, viz. forjuged, excused, 274; and wreke, clepe, 284. The occurrence of this pair of assonances is quite enough to settle the question. If we apply a more delicate test, we may observe that, in ll. 218–220, the word sōre (with long o) rimes with tore, in which the o was originally short; on this point, see vol. vi. p. xxxii.
As to this poem, Ten Brink well remarks: ‘His talent was fairly qualified for a popular form of the ‘Complaint’—a sort of long monologue, interwoven with allegory and mythology, and introduced by a charming picture of nature. His Complaint of the Black Knight, which contains reminiscences from the Romance of the Rose, the Book of the Duchesse, and the Parlement of Foules, was long considered a production of Chaucer’s, and is still frequently included in editions of his works—although with reservations. The critic, however, will not be deceived by the excellent descriptive passages of this poem, but will easily detect the characteristic marks of the imitator in the management of verse and rhyme, and especially in the diffusiveness of the story and the monotony even of the most important parts.’
§ 35. Lydgate’s reminiscences of Chaucer are often interesting. In particular, we should observe the passages suggested by the Roman de la Rose in ll. 36–112; for we are at once reminded of Chaucer’s own version of it, as preserved in Fragment A of the Romaunt. After noticing that he uses costey (36) for the F. costoiant, where Chaucer has costeying (134); and attempre (57) where Chaucer has attempre (131), though one French text has atrempee, it is startling to find him reproducing (80) Chaucer’s very phrase And softe as veluet (R. R. 1420), where the French original has nothing corresponding either to soft or to velvet! This clearly shews that Lydgate was acquainted with Fragment A of the English version, and believed that version to be Chaucer’s; for otherwise he would hardly have cared to imitate it at all.
The date of this poem is discussed in the Introduction to Schick’s edition of the Temple of Glas, by the same author; pp. c, cxii. He dates it in Lydgate’s early period, or about ad 1402.
The text is based upon Thynne’s edition, which is quite as good as the MSS., though the spellings are often too late in form. The late excellent edition by E. Krausser (Halle, 1896) reached me after my text was printed. His text (from MS. F.) has much the same readings, and is accompanied by a full Introduction and eleven pages of useful notes.
IX. The Flour of Curtesye.
This piece has no author’s name prefixed to it in the first three editions; but in the fourth edition by Stowe, printed in 1561, the title is: ‘The Floure of Curtesie, made by Iohn lidgate.’ Probably Stowe had seen it attributed to him in some MS., and made a note of it; but I know of no MS. copy now extant.
Few poems bear Lydgate’s impress more clearly; there can be no doubt as to its authorship. Schick refers it to Lydgate’s early period, and dates it about 1400–1402; see his edition of the Temple of Glas, p. cxii. As it was written after Chaucer’s death (see l. 236), and probably when that sad loss was still recent, we cannot be far wrong if we date it about 1401; and the Black Knight, a somewhat more ambitious effort, about 1402.
The ‘Flour of Curtesye’ is intended as a portrait of one whom the poet honours as the best of womankind. The character is evidently founded on that of Alcestis as described in the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women; and throughout the piece we are frequently reminded of Chaucer; especially of the Legend, the Complaint of Mars, and the Parliament of Foules.
The Envoy presents a very early example of the four-line stanza, similar to that employed in Gray’s famous Elegy.
X. A Balade in Commendation of our Lady.
This piece is attributed to ‘Lidegate of Bury’ in the Ashmole MS. no. 59; and the ascription is obviously correct. It abounds with evident marks of his peculiar style of metre; for which see Schick’s Introduction to the Temple of Glas, p. lvi. We note in it a few reminiscences of Chaucer, as pointed out in the Notes; in particular, it was probably suggested by Chaucer’s A B C, which furnished hints for ll. 27, 60, and 129. It is perhaps worth while to add that we have thus an independent testimony for the genuineness of that poem.
As an illustration of Lydgate’s verse, I may notice the additional syllable after the cæsura, which too often clogs his lines. Thus in l. 8 we must group the syllables thus:—
Wherefór: now pláynly: I wól: my stýlë: dréssë. Similarly, we find lícour in l. 13, pítè (18), líving (24), bémës (25), gínning (31), mércy (33), gárden (36), &c., all occupying places where a monosyllable would have been more acceptable.
The poem is strongly marked by alliteration, shewing that the poet (usually in a hurry) took more than usual pains with it. In the seventh stanza (43–49) this tendency is unmistakably apparent.
It is hardly possible to assign a date to a poem of this character. I can only guess it to belong to the middle period of his career; say, the reign of Henry V. We have not yet obtained sufficient data for the arrangement of Lydgate’s poems.
§ 38. Lines 121–127 are here printed for the first time. In the old editions, l. 120 is succeeded by l. 128, with the result that Sion (120) would not rime with set afere (129); but the scribe of the Ashmole MS. was equal to the emergency, for he altered l. 129 so as to make it end with fuyrless thou sette vppon, which is mere nonsense. Thynne has fyrelesse fyre set on, which is just a little better.
This addition of seven lines was due to my fortunate discovery of a new MS.; for which I was indebted to the excellent MS. ‘Index of First Lines’ in the British Museum. This told me that a poem (hitherto unrecognised) existed in MS. Sloane 1212, of which the first line is ‘A thousand stories,’ &c. On examining the MS., it turned out to be a copy, on paper, of Hoccleve’s De Regimine Principum, with four leaves of vellum at the beginning, and two more at the end, covered with writing of an older character. The two vellum leaves at the end were then transposed, but have since been set right, at my suggestion. They contain a few lines of the conclusion of some other piece, followed by the unique complete copy of the present Balade. This copy turned out to be much the best, and restored several of the readings. Indeed, the Ashmole MS. is very imperfect, having in it a lacuna of eight stanzas (ll. 64–119). I am thus able to give quite a presentable text.
The correction that most interested me was one in l. 134, where the Ashmole MS. and Thynne have probatyf piscyne. On June 5, 1896, I read a paper at the Philological Society, in which (among other things) I pointed out that the right reading must certainly be probatik. The very next day I found the Sloane MS.; and behold, its reading was probatyk! It is not often that a ‘conjectural emendation’ is confirmed, on unimpeachable authority, within twenty-four hours.
Another remarkable correction is that of dyamaunt for dyametre in l. 87. It was all very well to compare Our Lady to a diamond; but to call her a diameter (as in all the editions) is a little too bad. Again, in l. 121 (now first printed) we have the remarkable expression punical pome for a pomegranate, which is worthy of notice; and in l. 123 we find a new word, agnelet, which is not to be found in the New English Dictionary.
All the printed editions print the next piece as if it formed a part of the present one; but they have absolutely no point in common beyond the fact of having a common authorship.
XI. To my Soverain Lady.
In all the old editions, this piece forms part of the preceding, though it is obviously distinct from it, when attention is once drawn to the fact. Instead of being addressed, like no. X, to the Virgin, it is addressed to a lady whose name the poet wishes to commend (l. 7); and from whom he is parted (51); whereas two lovers ought to be together, if they wish to live ‘well merry’ (64). Her goodly fresh face is a merry mirror (73); and he has chosen her as his Valentine (111).
It is evidently a conventional complimentary poem, written to please some lady of rank or of high renown (93), one, in fact, who is ‘of women chief princesse’ (70). It is prettily expressed, and does Lydgate some credit, being a favourable specimen of his more playful style; I wish we had more of the same kind. L. 68—‘Let him go love, and see wher [whether] it be game’—is excellent.
I shall here submit to the reader a pure guess, for what it is worth. My impression is that this piece, being a complimentary Valentine, was suggested by queen Katherine’s visit to England; the lover whose passion is here described being no other than king Henry V, who was parted from his queen for a week. The pair arrived at Dover on Feb. 2, 1421, and Henry went on to London, arriving on Feb. 14; the queen did not arrive till Feb. 21, just in time for her coronation on Feb. 23.
This hypothesis satisfies several conditions. It explains why the lover’s English is not good enough to praise the lady; why so many French lines are quoted; the significant allusion to the lily, i.e. the lily of France, in l. 16; the lover’s consolation found in English roundels (40); the expression ‘cheef princesse’ in l. 70; and the very remarkable exclamation of Salve, regina, in l. 83, which doubtless made Thynne imagine that the poem was addressed to the Virgin Mary. The expression ‘for your departing’ in l. 105 does not necessarily mean ‘on account of your departure from me’; it is equally in accordance with Middle-English usage to suppose that it means ‘on account of your separation from me’; see Depart and Departing in the New English Dictionary.
It is well known that Lydgate provided the necessary poetry for the entry of Henry VI into London in Feb. 1432.
Some resemblances to Chaucer are pointed out in the Notes. The most interesting circumstance about this poem is that the author quotes, at the end of his third stanza, the first line of ‘Merciles Beautè’; this is a strong point in favour of the attribution of that poem to his master.
This piece is distinguished from the preceding by the difference of its subject; by the difference in the character of the metre (there is here no alliteration); and, most significant of all, by its absence from MS. Ashmole 59 and MS. Sloane 1212, both of which contain the preceding piece. The two poems may have been brought together, in the MS. which Thynne followed, by the accident of being written about the same time.
XII. Ballad of Good Counsel.
The title of this piece in Stowe’s edition stands as follows: ‘A balade of good counseile, translated out of Latin verses into Englishe, by dan Iohn lidgat cleped the monke of Buri.’ What were the Latin verses here referred to, I have no means of ascertaining.
This Ballad is eminently characteristic of Lydgate’s style, and by no means the worst of its kind. When he once gets hold of a refrain that pleases him, he canters merrily along till he has absolutely no more to say. I think he must have enjoyed writing it, and that he wrote it to please himself.
He transgresses one of Chaucer’s canons in ll. 79–82; where he rimes hardy with foly and flatery. The two latter words are, in Chaucer, foly-ë and flatery-ë, and never rime with a word like hardy, which has no final -e.
Lydgate is very fond of what may be called catalogues; he begins by enumerating every kind of possibility. You may be rich, or strong, or prudent, &c.; or fair (22) or ugly (24); you may have a wife (29), or you may not (36); you may be fat (43), or you may be lean (46); or staid (57), or holy (64); your dress may be presentable (71), or poor (72), or middling (73); you may speak much (78) or little (80); and so on; for it is hard to come to an end. At l. 106, he begins all over again with womankind; and the conclusion is, that you should govern your tongue, and never listen to slander.
Thynne’s text is not very good; the MSS. are somewhat better. He makes the odd mistake of printing Holynesse beautie for Eleynes beaute (115); but Helen had not much to do with holiness. Two of the stanzas (71–7 and 106–112) are now printed for the first time, as they occur in the MSS. only. Indeed, MS. H. (Harl. 2251) is the sole authority for the former of these two stanzas.
XIII. Beware of Doubleness.
This is a favourable example of Lydgate’s better style; and is written with unusual smoothness, owing to the shortness of the lines. It was first printed in 1561. There is a better copy in the Fairfax MS., which has been taken as the basis of the text. The copy in MS. Ashmole 59 is very poor. The title—‘Balade made by Lydgate’—occurs in MS. Addit. 16165. Stowe, being unacquainted with the phrase ambes as (l. 78), though it occurs in Chaucer, turned ambes into lombes, after which he wrongly inserted a comma; and lombes appears, accordingly, in all former editions, with a comma after it. What sense readers have hitherto made of this line, I am at a loss to conjecture.
XIV. A Balade: Warning Men, etc.
First printed by Stowe in 1561, from the MS. in Trinity College Library, marked R. 3. 19, which I have used in preference to the printed edition.
There is another, and more complete copy in the same library, marked O. 9. 38, which has contributed some excellent corrections. Moreover, it gives a better arrangement of stanzas three and four, which the old editions transpose. More than this, it contains a unique stanza (36–42), which has not been printed before.
The poem also occurs in Shirley’s MS. Harl. 2251, which contains a large number of poems by Lydgate; and is there followed by another poem of seven stanzas, attributed to Lydgate. That the present poem is Lydgate’s, cannot well be doubted; it belongs to the same class of his poems as no. XII above. I find it attributed to him in the reprint of ‘Chaucer’s Poems’ by Chalmers, in 1810.
The substitution of the contracted and idiomatic form et for the later form eteth is a great improvement. It is due to MS. O. 9. 38, where the scribe first wrote ette, but was afterwards so weak as to ‘correct’ it to etyth. But this ‘correction’ just ruins the refrain. Et was no doubt becoming archaic towards the middle of the fifteenth century.
Two variations upon the last stanza occur in the Bannatyne MS., fol. 258, back; see the print by the Hunterian Club, 1879, pp. 754, 755.
XV. Three Sayings.
First printed by Stowe; I know of no MS. copy. The first two Sayings are attributed to Lydgate; so we may as well credit him with the third. The second expresses the same statements as the first, but varies somewhat in form; both are founded upon a Latin line which occurs in MS. Fairfax 16 (fol. 196) and in MS. Harl. 7578 (fol. 20), and runs as follows:—‘Quatuor infatuant, honor, etas, femina, uinum.’
Note that these Three Sayings constitute the only addition made by Stowe to Thynne in ‘Part I’ of Stowe’s edition. See nos. 28, 29, 30 in vol. i. p. 32. Stowe introduced them in order to fill a blank half-column between nos. 27 and 31.
XVI. La Belle Dame sans Mercy.
First printed in Thynne’s Chaucer (1532). Tyrwhitt first pointed out that it could not possibly be his, seeing that Alan Chartier’s poem with the same name, whence the English version was made, could not have been written in Chaucer’s lifetime. Chartier was born in 1386, and was only fourteen years old at the time of Chaucer’s death. Tyrwhitt further stated that the author’s name, Sir Richard Ros, was plainly given in MS. Harl. 372, fol. 61, where the poem has this title:—‘La Belle Dame Sanz Mercy. Translatid out of Frenche by Sir Richard Ros.’ I have not been able to find the date of the French original, as there is no modern edition of Chartier’s poems; but it can hardly have been written before 1410, when the poet was only twenty-four years old; and the date of the translation must be later still. But we are not wholly left to conjecture in this matter. A short notice of Sir Richard Ros appeared in Englische Studien, X. 206, written by H. Gröhler, who refers us to his dissertation ‘Ueber Richard Ros’ mittelenglische übersetzung des gedichtes von Alain Chartier La Belle Dame sans Mercy,’ published at Breslau in 1886; of which Dr. Gröhler has most obligingly sent me a copy, whence several of my Notes have been derived. He tells us, in this article, that his dissertation was founded on the copy of the poem in MS. Harl. 372, which (in 1886) he believed to be unique; whereas he had since been informed that there are three other MSS., viz. Camb. Ff. 1. 6, Trin. Coll. Camb. R. 3. 19, and Fairfax 16; and further, that the Trinity MS. agrees with the Harleian as to misarrangement of the subject-matter1 . He also proposed to give a new edition of the poem in Englische Studien, but I am unable to find it; and Dr. Kölbing courteously informs me that it never appeared.
Dr. Gröhler further tells us, that Mr. Joseph Hall, of Manchester, had sent him some account, extracted from the county history of Leicestershire by Nichols, of the family of Roos or Ros, who were lords of Hamlake and Belvoir in that county. According to Nichols, the Sir Richard Ros who was presumably the poet, was the second son of Sir Thomas Ros; and Sir Thomas was the second son of Sir W. Ros, who married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Arundel. If this be right, we gain the further information that Sir Richard was born in 14291 , and is known to have been alive in 1450, when he was twenty-one years old.
The dates suit very well, as they suggest that the English poem was written, probably, between 1450 and 1460, or at the beginning of the second half of the fifteenth century; which sufficiently agrees with the language employed and with the probable age of the MSS. The date assigned in the New English Dictionary, s. v. Currish, is 1460; which cannot be far wrong. It can hardly be much later.
§ 45. The above notice also suggests that, as Sir Richard Ros was of a Leicestershire family, the dialect of the piece may, originally at least, have been North Leicestershire. Belvoir is situate in the N.E. corner of Leicestershire, not far from Grantham in Lincolnshire, and at no great distance from the birthplace of Robert of Brunne. It is well known that Robert of Brunne wrote in a variety of the Midland dialect which coincides, to a remarkable extent, with the form of the language which has become the standard literary English. Now it is easily seen that La Belle Dame has the same peculiarity, and I venture to think that, on this account, it is worth special attention. If we want to see a specimen of what the Midland literary dialect was like in the middle of the fifteenth century, it is here that we may find it. Many of the stanzas are, in fact, remarkably modern, both in grammar and expression; we have only to alter the spelling, and there is nothing left to explain. Take for example the last stanza on p. 301 (ll. 77–84):—
A large number of stanzas readily lend themselves to similar treatment; and this is quite enough to dissociate the poem from Chaucer. The great difficulty about modernising Chaucer is, as every one knows, his use of the final -e as a distinct syllable; but we may search a whole page of La Belle Dame without finding anything of the kind. When Sir Richard’s words have an extra syllable, it is due to the suffix -es or the suffix -ed; and even these are not remarkably numerous; we do not arrive at cloth-es, a plural in -es, before l. 22; and, in the course of the first four stanzas, all the words in -ed are awak-ed, nak-ed, vex-ed, tourn-ed, and bold-ed, none of which would be surprising to a student of Elizabethan poetry. That there was something of a Northern element in Sir Richard’s language appears from the rime of long-es with song-es, in ll. 53–55; where longes is the third person singular of the present tense; but modern English has belongs, with the same suffix! Again, he constantly uses the Northern possessive pronoun their; but modern English does the same!
§ 46. Another remarkable point about the poem is the perfect smoothness and regularity of the metre in a large number of lines, even as judged by a modern standard. The first line—‘Half in a dream, not fully well awaked’—might, from a metrical point of view, have been written yesterday. It is a pity that the poem is somewhat dull, owing to its needless prolixity; but this is not a little due to Alan Chartier. Sir Richard has only eight stanzas of his own, four at the beginning, and four at the end; and it is remarkable that these are in the seven-line stanza, while the rest of the stanzas have eight lines, like their French original, of which I here give the first stanza, from the Paris edition of 1617, p. 502. (See l. 29 of the English version.)
I have cited in the Notes a few passages of the original text which help to explain the translation.
§ 47. The text in Thynne is a good one, and it seemed convenient to make it the basis of the edition; but it has been carefully controlled by collation with MS. Ff. 1. 6, which is, in some respects, the best MS. I am not sure that Thynne always followed his MS.; he may have collated some other one, as he professes in some cases to have done. MS. Ff. 1. 6, the Trinity MS., and Thynne’s principal MS. form one group, which we may call A; whilst the Fairfax and Harleian MSS. form a second group, which we may call B: and of these, group A is the better. The MSS. in group B sadly transpose the subject-matter, and give the poem in the following order; viz. lines 1–428, 669–716, 525–572, 477–524, 621–668, 573–620, 429–476, 717–856. The cause of this dislocation is simple enough. It means that the B-group MSS. were copied from one in which three leaves, each containing six stanzas, were misarranged. The three leaves were placed one within the other, to form a sheet, and were written upon. Then the outer pair of these leaves was turned inside out, whilst the second and third pair changed places. This can easily be verified by making a little book of six leaves and numbering each page with the numbers 429–452, 453–476, 477–500, 501–524, &c. (i. e. with 24 lines on a page, ending with 716), and then misarranging the leaves in the manner indicated.
The copy in MS. Harl. 372 was printed, just as it stands, by Dr. Furnivall, in his volume entitled Political, Religious, and Love Poems, published for the E. E. T. S. in 1866; at p. 52. The text is there, accordingly, misarranged as above stated.
There is another MS. copy, as has been said above, in MS. Trin. Coll. Camb. R. 3. 19; but I have not collated it. It seems to be closely related to MS. Ff., and to present no additional information. Not only do the MSS. of the A-group contain the text in the right order, but they frequently give the better readings. Thus, in l. 47, we have the odd line—‘My pen coud never have knowlege what it ment’; as given in MS. Ff., the Trinity MS., and Thynne. The word pen is altered to eyen in MSS. H. and F.; nevertheless, it is perfectly right, for the French original has plume; see the Note on the line. Other examples are given in the Notes.
In l. 174, MS. Ff. alone has the right reading, apert. I had made up my mind that this was the right reading even before consulting that MS., because the old reading—‘One wyse nor other, prevy nor perte’—is so extremely harsh. There is no sense in using the clipped form of the word when the true and usual form will scan so much better. See C. T., F 531, Ho. Fame, 717. The Trinity MS. gets out of the difficulty by a material alteration of the line, so that it there becomes—‘In any wyse, nether preuy nor perte.’
XVII. The Testament of Cresseid.
I do not suppose this was ever supposed to be Chaucer’s even by Thynne. Line 64—‘Quha wait gif all that Chaucer wrait was trew?’—must have settled the question from the first. No doubt Thynne added it simply as a pendant to Troilus, and he must have had a copy before him in the Northern dialect, which he modified as well as he could. Nevertheless, he gives us can for the Southern gan in l. 6, wrate for wrote in l. 64, and has many similar Northern forms.
The poem was printed at Edinburgh in 1593 with the author’s name. The title is as follows—¶The Testament of CRESSEID, Compylit be M. Robert Henrysone, Sculemai-ster in Dunfermeling. Imprentit at Edin = burgh be Henrie Charteris. md. xciii. The text is in 4to, ten leaves, black-letter. Only one copy has been preserved, which is now in the British Museum; but it was reprinted page for page in the volume presented by Mr. Chalmers to the Bannatyne Club in 1824. The present edition is from this reprint, with very few modifications, such as sh for sch, and final -y for final -ie in immaterial cases. All other modifications are accounted for in the footnotes below. No early MS. copy is known; there was once a copy in the Asloan MS., but the leaves containing it are lost.
Thynne’s print must have been a good deal altered from the original, to make it more intelligible. It is odd to find him altering quhisling (20) to whiskyng, and ringand (144) to tynkyng. I note all Thynne’s variations that are of any interest. He must have been much puzzled by aneuch in (which he seems to have regarded as one word and as a past participle) before he turned it into enewed (110). But in some cases Thynne gives us real help, as I will now point out.
In l. 48, E. (the Edinburgh edition) has—‘Quhill Esperus reioisit him agane’; where Esperus gives no good sense. But Thynne prints esperous, which at once suggests esperans (hope), as opposed to wanhope in the preceding line.
In l. 155, E. has frosnit, which Laing interprets ‘frozen,’ as if the pp. of freeze could have both a strong and weak pp. suffix at the same moment! But Thynne has frounsed, evidently put for fronsit, as used elsewhere by Henryson in The Fable of the Paddock and the Mous, l. 43:—‘The Mous beheld unto her fronsit face.’ A printer’s error of sn for ns is not surprising.
In ll. 164, 178, 260, E. has gyis or gyse; but Thynne has preserved the true Chaucerian word gyte, which the printer evidently did not understand. It is true that in l. 164 he turned it into gate; but when he found it recur, he let it alone.
In l. 205, E. has upricht (!); which Thynne corrects.
In l. 290, Th. has iniure for iniurie, and I think he is right, though I have let injurie stand; iniure is Chaucer’s form (Troil. iii. 1018), and it suits the scansion better.
In l. 382, Thynne corrects Unto to To; and in l. 386, has Beuer for bawar. In l. 441, he has syder for ceder. In l. 501, he has plyte for plye, where a letter may have dropped out in E.; but see the note (p. 525). In l. 590, his reading tokenyng suggests that takning (as in E.) should be takining or takinning; the line will then scan. The contracted form taikning occurs, however, in l. 232, where the word is less emphatic.
Note further, that in l. 216 the original must have had Philogoney (see the Note). This appears in the astonishing forms Philologie (E.), and Philologee (Th.). Laing prints Phlegonie, which will neither scan nor rime, without any hint that he is departing from his exemplar. All his corrections are made silently, so that one cannot tell where they occur without reference to the original.
For further information concerning Robert Henryson, schoolmaster of Dunfermline, see the preface to David Laing’s edition of The Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson, Edinburgh, 1865; and Morley’s English Writers, 1890, vol. vi. p. 250. He is supposed to have been born about 1425, and to have died about 1500. On Sept. 10, 1462, the Venerable Master Robert Henrysone, Licentiate in Arts and Bachelor in Decrees, was incorporated or admitted a member of the newly founded university of Glasgow; and he is known to have been a notary public. Perhaps The Testament of Cresseid was written about 1460. It is a rather mature performance, and is his best piece. Perhaps it is the best piece in the present volume.
XVIII. The Cuckoo and the Nightingale.
Of this piece there are several MSS., which fall into two main classes: (A)—Ff. (Ff. 1. 6, in the Camb. Univ. Library); T. (Tanner 346); Th. (MS. used by Thynne, closely allied to T.); and (B)—F. (Fairfax 16), and B. (Bodley 638), which are closely allied. There is also S. (Selden, B. 24) imperfect, which has readings of its own1 . Of these groups, A is the better, and MS. Ff. is, in some respects, the most important. Nevertheless, MS. Ff. has never been collated hitherto, so that I am able to give a somewhat improved text. For example, in all former editions lines 12 and 13 are transposed. In l. 180, the reading haire (as in Bell and Morris) is somewhat comic (see the Note). In l. 203, MS. Ff. restores the true reading hit, i. e. hitteth. Bell, by some accident, omits the stanza in which this word occurs. In vol. i. p. 39, I took occasion to complain of the riming of now with rescow-e in ll. 228–9, according to Bell. The right reading, however, is not now, but avow-e, which rimes well enough. MS. Selden has allowe, which Morris follows, though it is clearly inferior and is unsupported. On the other hand, MS. Selden correctly, and alone, has leve in l. 237; but the confusion between e and o is endless, so that the false reading loue creates no surprise.
This poem is very interesting, and has deservedly been a favourite one. It is therefore a great pleasure to me to have found the author’s name. This is given at the end of the poem in MS. Ff. (the best MS., but hitherto neglected), where we find, in firm distinct letters, in the same handwriting as the poem itself, the remark—Explicit Clanvowe. Remembering that the true title of the poem is ‘The Book of Cupid, God of Love2 ,’ I applied to Dr. Furnivall, asking him if he had met with the name. He at once referred me to his preface to Hoccleve’s Works, p. x, where Sir John Clanvowe and Thomas Hoccleve are both mentioned in the same document (about ad 1385: But Sir John Clanvowe died in 1391, and therefore could not have imitated the title of Hoccleve’s poem, which was not written till 1402. Our poet was probably Sir Thomas Clanvowe, concerning whom several particulars are known, and who must have been a well-known personage at the courts of Richard II and Henry IV. We learn from Wylie’s Hist. of Henry IV, vol. iii. p. 261, that he was one of twenty-five knights who accompanied John Beaufort (son of John of Gaunt) to Barbary in 1390. This Sir Thomas favoured the opinions of the Lollards, but was nevertheless a friend of ‘Prince Hal,’ at the time when the prince was still friendly to freethinkers. He seems to have accompanied the prince in the mountains of Wales; see Wylie, as above, iii. 333. In 1401, he is mentioned as being one of ‘vi Chivalers’ in the list of esquires who were summoned to a council by king Henry IV; see the Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, temp. Henry IV, p. 162. (It may be noted that Sir John Clanvowe was a witness, in 1385, to the will of the widow of the Black Prince; see Testamenta Vetusta, ed. Nicolas.)
§ 50. It now becomes easy to explain the reference to the queen at Woodstock, which has never yet been accounted for. The poem begins with the words—‘The God of Love! Ah benedicite,’ quoted from Chaucer, the title of the poem being ‘The Book of Cupid, God of Love,’ as has been said; and this title was imitated from Hoccleve’s poem of 1402. But there was no queen of England after Henry’s accession till Feb. 7, 1403, when the king married Joan of Navarre; and it was she who held as a part of her dower the manor and park of Woodstock; see Wylie, as above, ii. 284. Hence the following hypothesis will suit the facts—namely, that the poem, imitating Chaucer’s manner, and having a title imitated from Hoccleve’s poem of 1402, was written by Sir Thomas Clanvowe, who held Lollard opinions1 and was a friend (at one time) of Henry of Monmouth. And it was addressed to Joan of Navarre, Henry’s stepmother, queen of England from 1403 to 1413, who held as a part of her dower the manor of Woodstock. If so, we should expect it to have been written before April, 1410, when Thomas Badby, the Lollard, was executed in the presence of the prince of Wales. Further, as it was probably written early rather than late in this period, I should be inclined to date it in 1403; possibly in May, as it relates so much to the time of spring.
I may add that the Clanvowes were a Herefordshire family, from the neighbourhood of Wigmore. The only remarkable non-Chaucerian word in the poem is the verb greden, to cry out (A. S. grǣdan); a word found in many dialects, and used by Layamon, Robert of Gloucester, Langland, and Hoccleve.
The poem is written in a light and pleasing style, which Wordsworth has fairly reproduced. The final -e is suppressed in assay-e (l. 52). The non-Chaucerian rimes are few, viz. gren-e and sen-e as riming with been (61–5), shewing that Clanvowe cut down those dissyllables to green and seen. And further, the forms ron and mon are employed, in order to rime with upon (81–5); whereas Chaucer only has the form man; whilst of ran I remember no example at the end of a line1 .
§ 51. But there is one point about Clanvowe’s verse which renders it, for the fifteenth century, quite unique. In imitating Chaucer’s use of the final -e, he employs this suffix with unprecedented freedom, and rather avoids than seeks elision. This gives quite a distinctive character to his versification, and is very noticeable when attention has once been drawn to it. If, for example, we compare it with the Parliament of Foules, which it most resembles in general character, we find the following results. If, in the Cuckoo and Nightingale, we observe the first 21 lines, we shall find (even if we omit the example of hy-e in l. 4, and all the examples of final -e at the end of a line) the following clear examples of its use:—low-e, lyk-e, hard-e, sek-e, hol-e (twice), mak-e, hav-e, wys-e, proud-e, grev-e, trew-e, hert-e, i. e. 13 examples, besides the 5 examples of final -en in mak-en, bind-en, unbind-en, bound-en, destroy-en. But in the first 21 lines of the Parliament of Foules there are only 2 examples of the final -e in the middle of a line, viz. lust-e (15) and long-e (21), whilst of the final -en there is none. The difference between 18 and 2 must strike even the most inexperienced reader, when it is once brought under his notice. However, it is an extreme case.
Yet again, if the last 21 lines in the Cuckoo be compared with ll. 659–679 of the Parliament (being the last 21 lines, if we dismiss the roundel and the stanza that follows it), we find in the former 7 examples of final -e and 2 of -en, or 9 in all, whilst in Chaucer there are 7 of final -e, and 1 of -en, or 8 in all; and this also happens to be an extreme case in the other direction, owing to the occurrence in the former poem of the words egle, maple, and chambre, which I have not taken into account.
This suggests that, to make sure, we must compare much longer passages. In the whole of the Cuckoo, I make about 120 such cases of final -e, and 23 such cases of final -en, or 143 in all. In 290 lines of the Parliament of Foules, I make about 68 and 19 such cases respectively; or about 87 in all. Now the difference between 143 and 87 is surely very marked.
The cause of this result is obvious, viz. that Chaucer makes a more frequent use of elision. In the first 21 lines of the Parl. of Foules, we find elisions of men’, sor’, wak’, oft’ (twice), red’ (twice), spek’, fast’, radd’; i. e. 10 examples; added to which, Chaucer has joy(e), love, knowe, usage, boke, at the cæsura, and suppresses the e in write (written). But in ll. 1- 1, Clanvowe has (in addition to love, make, lowe, make (twice), gladde at the cæsura) only 3 examples of true elision, viz. fressh’, tell’, and mak’ (15).
And further, we seldom find two examples of the use of the final -e in the same line in Chaucer. I do not observe any instance, in the Parl. of Foules, till we arrive at l. 94:—‘Took rest that mad-e me to slep-e faste.’ But in Clanvowe they are fairly common. Examples are: Of seke-e folk ful hol-e (7); For every trew-e gentil hert-e free (21); That any hert-e shuld-e slepy be (44); I went-e forth alon-e bold-e-ly (59); They coud-e that servyc-e al by rote (71); and the like. In l. 73, we have even three examples in one line; Some song-e loud-e, as they hadd-e playned. From all of which it appears that the critics who have assigned the Cuckoo to Chaucer have taken no pains whatever to check their opinion by any sort of analysis. They have trusted to their own mere opinion, without looking the facts in the face.
§ 52. I will point out yet one more very striking difference. We know that Chaucer sometimes employs headless lines, such as: Twénty bókes át his béddes héed. But he does so sparingly, especially in his Minor Poems. But in the Cuckoo, they are not uncommon; see, e. g. lines 16, 50, 72, 100, 116, 118, 146, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 161, 166, 205, 232, 242, 252, 261, 265, 268. It is true that, in Morris’s edition, lines 72, 146, 153, 161, and 205 are slightly altered; but in no case can I find that the alteration is authorised. And even then, this does not get rid of the five consecutive examples in ll. 154–158, which cannot be explained away. Once more, I repeat, the critics have failed to use their powers of observation.
I think the poem may still be admired, even if it be allowed that Clanvowe wrote it some three years after Chaucer’s death.
§ 53. At any rate, it was admired by so good a judge of poetry as John Milton, who of course possessed a copy of it in the volume which was so pleasantly called ‘The Works of Chaucer.’ That his famous sonnet ‘To the Nightingale’ owed something to Clanvowe, I cannot doubt. ‘Thou with fresh hope the lover’s heart dost fill’ is, in part, the older poet’s theme; see ll. 1–30, 149–155, 191–192. Even his first line reminds one of ll. 77, 288. If Milton writes of May, so does Clanvowe; see ll. 20, 23, 34, 55, 70, 230, 235, 242; note especially l. 230. But the real point of contact is in the lines—
With which compare:—
XIX. Envoy to Alison.
This piece has always hitherto been printed without any title, and is made to follow The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, as if there were some sort of connection between them. This is probably because it happens to follow that poem in the Fairfax and Tanner MSS., and probably did so in the MS. used by Thynne, which has a striking resemblance to the Tanner MS. However, the poem is entirely absent from the Cambridge, Selden, and Bodley MSS., proving that there is no connection with the preceding poem, from which it differs very widely in style, in language, and in metre.
I call it an Envoy to Alison. For first, it is an Envoy1 , as it refers to the author’s ‘lewd book,’ which it recommends to a lady. What the book is, no one can say; but it may safely be conjectured that it was of no great value. And secondly, the lady’s name was Alison, as shewn by the acrostic in lines 22–27; and the author has recourse to almost ludicrous efforts, in order to secure the first four letters of the name.
Briefly, it is a very poor piece; and my chief object in reprinting it is to shew how unworthy it is of Clanvowe, not to mention Chaucer. We have no right even to assign it to Lydgate. And its date may be later than 1450.
XX. The Flower and the Leaf.
This piece many ‘critics’ would assign to Chaucer, merely because they like it. This may be sentiment, but it is not criticism; and, after all, a desire to arrive at the truth should be of more weight with us than indulgence in ignorant credulity.
It is of some consequence to learn, first of all, that it is hardly possible to separate this piece from the next. The authoress of one was the authoress of the other. That The Assembly of Ladies is longer and duller, and has not held its own in popular estimation, is no sound argument to the contrary; for it is only partially true. Between the first eleven stanzas of the Assembly and the first eleven stanzas of the present poem, there is a strong general resemblance, and not much to choose. Other stanzas of the Assembly that are well up to the standard of the Flower will be found in lines 456–490, 511–539. The reason of the general inferiority of the Assembly lies chiefly in the choice of the subject; it was meant to interest some medieval household, but it gave small scope for retaining the reader’s attention, and must be held to be a failure.
The links connecting these poems are so numerous that I must begin by asking the reader to let me denote The Flower and the Leaf by the letter F (= Flower), and The Assembly of Ladies by the letter A (= Assembly).
The first point is that (with the sole exception of the Nutbrown Maid) no English poems exist, as far as I remember, written previously to 1500, and purporting to be written by a woman. In the case of F. and A., this is assumed throughout. When the author of F. salutes a certain fair lady, the lady replies—‘My doughter, gramercy’; 462. And again she says, ‘My fair doughter’; 467, 500, 547. The author of A. says she was one of five ladies; 5–7, 407. Again, she was a woman; 18. The author of A. and some other ladies salute Lady Countenance, who in reply says ‘fair sisters’; 370. Again, she and others salute a lady-chamberlain, who replies by calling them ‘sisters’; 450; &c.
The poem A. is supposed to be an account of a dream, told by the authoress to a gentleman; with the exception of this gentleman, all the characters of the poem are ladies; and hence its title. The poem F. is not quite so exclusive, but it comes very near it; all the principal characters are ladies, and the chief personages are queens, viz. the queen of the Leaf and the queen of the Flower. The ‘world of ladies’ in l. 137 take precedence of the Nine Worthies, who were merely men. A recognition of this fact makes the whole poem much clearer.
But the most characteristic thing is the continual reference to colours, dresses, ornaments, and decorations. In F., we have descriptions of, or references to, white surcoats, velvet, seams, emeralds, purfils, colours, sleeves, trains, pearls, diamonds, a fret of gold, chaplets of leaves, chaplets of woodbine, chaplets of agnus-castus, a crown of gold, thundering trumpets, the treasury of Prester John, white cloaks, chaplets of oak, banners of Tartarysilk, more pearls, collars, escutcheons, kings-of-arms, cloaks of white cloth, crowns set with pearls, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. Then there is a company all clad in one suit (or livery); heralds and poursuivants, more chaplets and escutcheons, men in armour with cloth of gold and horse-trappings, with bosses on their bridles and peitrels—it is surely needless to go on, though we have only arrived at l. 246.
In A., we have much the same sort of thing all over again, though it does not set in before l. 83. Then we meet with blue colours, an embroidered gown, and a purfil with a device. After a respite, we begin again at l. 206—‘Her gown was blue’; and the lady wore a French motto. Diligence tells the authoress that she looks well in her new blue gown (259). At l. 305, there is another blue gown, furred with gray, with a motto on the sleeve; and there are plenty more mottoes to follow. At l. 451 we come to a paved floor, and walls made of beryl and crystal, engraved with stories; next, a well-apparelled chair or throne, on five stages, wrought of ‘cassidony,’ with four pommels of gold, and set with sapphires; a cloth of estate, wrought with the needle (486); cloth of gold (521); a blue gown, with sleeves wrought tabard-wise, of which the collar and the vent (slit in front of the neck) are described as being like ermine; it was couched with great pearls, powdered with diamonds, and had sleeves and purfils; then we come to rubies, enamel, a great balas-ruby, and more of the same kind. Again, it is useless to go further. Surely these descriptions of seams, and collars, and sleeves, are due to a woman.
The likeness comes out remarkably in two parallel stanzas. One of them is from F. 148, and the other from A. 526.
I wonder which the reader prefers; for myself, I have really no choice.
For I do not see how to choose between such lines as these following:—
Besides these striking coincidences in whole lines, there are a large number of phrases and endings of lines that are common to the two poems; such as—the springing of the day, F. 25, A. 218; Which, as me thought, F. 36, A. 50; wel y-wrought, F. 49, A. 165; by mesure, F. 58, A. 81; I you ensure, F. 60, 287, A. 52, 199; in this wyse, F. 98, A. 589; I sat me doun, F. 118, A. 77; oon and oon, F. 144, A. 368, 543, 710; by and by, F. 59, 146, A. 87; withouten fail, F. 369, A. 567, 646; herself aloon, F. 458, A. 84; ful demure, F. 459, A. 82; to put in wryting, F. 589, A. 664; and others that are printed out in the Notes.
Very characteristic of female authorship is the remark that the ladies vied with each other as to which looked the best; a remark which occurs in both poems; see F. 188, A. 384.
A construction common to both poems is the use of very with an adjective, a construction used by Lydgate, but not by Chaucer; examples are very rede, F. 35; very good, F. 10, 315; very round, A. 479.
It is tedious to enumerate how much these poems have in common. They open in a similar way, F. with the description of a grove, A. with the description of a garden with a maze. In the eighth stanza of F., we come to ‘a herber that benched was’; and in the seventh stanza of A. we come to a similar ‘herber, mad with benches’; both from The Legend of Good Women.
In F., the authoress has a waking vision of ‘a world of ladies’ (137); in A. she sees in a dream the ‘assembly of ladies.’ In both, she sees an abundance of dresses, and gems, and bright colours. Both introduce several scraps of French. In both, the authoress has interviews with allegorical or visionary personages, who address her either as daughter or sister. I have little doubt that the careful reader will discover more points of resemblance for himself.
§ 56. The chief appreciable difference between the two poems is that F. was probably written considerably earlier than A. This appears from the more frequent use of the final -e, which the authoress occasionally uses as an archaic embellishment, though she frequently forgets all about it for many stanzas together. In the former poem (F.) there seem to be about 50 examples, whilst in the latter (A.) there are hardly 101 . In almost every case, it is correctly used, owing, no doubt, to tradition or to a perusal of older poetry. The most important cases are the abundant ones in which a final e is omitted where Chaucer would inevitably have inserted it. For example, such a line as F. 195—From the same grove, where the ladyes come out—would become, in Chaucer—From the sam-ë grov-ë wher the ladyes come out—giving at least twelve syllables in the line. The examples of the omission of final -e, where such omission makes a difference to the scansion, are not very numerous, because many such come before a vowel (where they might be elided) or at the cæsura (where they might be tolerated). Still we may note such a case as green in l. 109 where Chaucer would have written gren-e, giving a fresh gren-ë laurer-tree, to the ruin of the scansion. Similar offences against Chaucer’s usage are herd for herd-e, 128 (cf. 191); spek’ for spek-e, 140; al for all-e, plural, 165; sight for sight-e, 174; lyf for lyv-e, 182; sam’ for sam-e, 195; the tenth for the tenth-e, 203; gret for gret-e, plural, 214, 225; red for red-e, 242; the worst for the worst-e, 255; yed’ for yed-e, 295, 301; fast for fast-e, 304; rejoice for rejoy-se, 313; noise for nois-e, 353; sonn’ for son-ne, 355, 408; hir fresh for hir fres-she, 357; laft for laft-e, pt. t., 364; their greet for hir gret-e, 377; sick for sek-e, 410; about for about-e, 411; to soup for to soup-e, 417; without for without-e, 423, 549; the hool for the hol-e, 437; to know for to know-e, 453; past for pass-ede or past-e, 465; My fair for My fair-e, vocative, 467, 500; to tel for to tell-e, 495; nin(e) for nyn-e, 502; imagin(e) for imagin-en, 525; they last for they last-e, 562; thy rud(e) for thy rud-e, 595. Those who believe that The Flower and the Leaf was written by Chaucer will have to explain away every one of these cases; and when they have done so, there is more to be said.
§ 57. For it is well known that such a word as sweetly (96) was trisyllabic, as swet-e-ly, in Chaucer; C. T., A 221. Similarly, our authoress has trewly for trew-e-ly1 , 130; richly for rich-e-ly, 169; woodbind for wod-e-bind-e, 485. Similar is ointments for oin-e-ments, 409. And, moreover, our authoress differs from Chaucer as to other points of grammar. Thus she has Forshronk as a strong pp., 358, which ought to be forshronk-en or forshronk-e. Still more marked is her use of rood as the plural of the past tense, 449, 454, where Chaucer has rid-en: and her use of began as a plural, 385, where Chaucer has bigonn-e. Can these things be explained away also? If so, there is more to be said.
§ 58. All the above examples have been made out, without so much as looking at the rimes. But the rimes are much harder to explain away, where they differ from Chaucer’s. Here are a few specimens.
Pas-se rimes with was, 27; so it must have been cut down to pas! Similarly, hew-e has become hew; for it rimes with grew, sing., 32. Sight-e has become sight, to rime with wight, 37. Brought should rather be brought-e, but it rimes with wrought, 48. Similar difficulties occur in peyn (for peyn-e), r. w. seyn (62); syd’ for syd-e, r. w. espy’d for espy-ed, 72; eet, r. w. sweet for swet-e, 90; not’ for not-e, r. w. sot, 99; busily, r. w. aspy’ for aspy-e, 106; trewly, r. w. armony’ for armony-e, 130; orient (oriant?), r. w. want for want-e, 148; person for person-e, r. w. everichon, 167. It is tedious to go on; let the critic finish the list, if he knows how to do it. If not, let him be humble. For there is more to come.
§ 59. Besides the grammar, there is yet the pronunciation to be considered; and here comes in the greatest difficulty of all. For, in ll. 86–89, we have the unusual rime of tree and be with pretily. This so staggered Dr. Morris, that he was induced to print the last word as pretile; which raises the difficulty without explaining it. For the explanation, the reader should consult the excellent dissertation by Dr. Curtis on The Romance of Clariodus (Halle, 1894), p. 56, § 187. He remarks that a rime of this character gives evidence of the transition of M. E. long close e to (Italian) long i [as in the change from A. S. me to mod. E. me], and adds: ‘this change became general in the fifteenth century, but had begun in some dialects at an earlier date.’ Its occurrence in the present poem is a strong indication that it is later than the year 1400, and effectually disposes of any supposed connection with Midland poems of the fourteenth century.
Both poems are remarkably free from classical allusions and from references to such medieval authors as are freely quoted by Chaucer. There is nothing to shew that the authoress was acquainted with Latin, though she knew French, especially the French of songs and mottoes.
The Flower and the Leaf is chiefly famous for having been versified by Dryden. The version is a free one, in a manner all his own, and is finer than the original, which can hardly be said of his ‘versions’ of Palamon and Arcite and The Cock and the Fox. It is doubtless from this version that many critics have formed exaggerated ideas of the poem’s value; otherwise, it is difficult to understand for what reasons it was considered worthy of so great a master as Geoffrey Chaucer.
§ 60. It will be seen, from the Notes, that the authoress was well acquainted with the Prologue to The Legend of Good Women; and it can hardly be questioned that she took the main idea of the poem from that source, especially ll. 188–194 of the later text. At the same time she was well acquainted with Gower’s lines on the same subject, in the Conf. Amantis, iii. 357, 358; see vol. iii. pp. xlii, 297. Gower has:—
XXI. The Assembly of Ladies.
This has already been discussed, in some measure, in considering the preceding poem. Both pieces were written by the same authoress; but the former is the more sprightly and probably the earlier. With the exception of the unusual rime of tree with pretily (discussed above), nearly all the peculiarities of the preceding poem occur here also. The Chaucerian final -e appears now and then, as in commaund-e (probably plural), 203; red-e, 215; countenanc-e, 295; pen-ne [or else seyd-e], 307; chayr-e, 476; tak-e, 565; trouth-e, 647; liv-e, 672; sem-e (pr. s. subj.), 696. But it is usually dropped, as in The fresh for The fres-she, 2; &c. In l. 11, Thynne prints fantasyse for fantasyes; for it obviously rimes with gyse (monosyllabic); cf. 533–535. Hew-e and new-e are cut down to hew and new, to rime with knew, 67. Bold rimes with told, clipped form of told-e, 94; and so on. So, again, trewly appears in place of Chaucer’s trew-e-ly, 488. It is needless to pursue the subject.
The description of the maze and the arbour, in ll. 29–70, is good. Another pleasing passage is that contained in ll. 449–497; and the description of a lady’s dress in ll. 519–539. As for the lady herself—
‘It was a world to loke on her visage.’
There is a most characteristic touch of a female writer in lines 253–254:—
To attribute such a question as ‘how will my dress do’ to a male writer is a little too dramatic for a mere narrative poem.
The two MSS. have now been collated for the first time and afford some important corrections, of which l. 61 presents remarkable instances. MS. Addit. 34360 is of some value.
§ 62. A considerable part of The Assembly of Ladies that is now of little interest may have been much appreciated at the time, as having reference to the ordering of a large medieval household, with its chambers, parlours, bay-windows, and galleries, carefully kept in good order by the various officers and servants; such as Perseverance the usher, Countenance the porter, Discretion the chief purveyor, Acquaintance the harbinger, Largesse the steward, Bel-cheer the marshal of the hall, Remembrance the chamberlain, and the rest. The authoress must have been perfectly familiar with spectacles and pageants and all the amusements of the court; but she was too humble to aspire to wear a motto.
We must not forget that the period of the Wars of the Roses, especially from 1455 to 1471, was one during which the composition of these poems was hardly possible. It is obviously very difficult to assign a date to them; perhaps they may be referred to the last quarter of the fifteenth century. We must not put them too late, because The Assembly exists in MSS. that seem to be as old as that period.
XXII. A Goodly Balade.
For this poem there is but one authority, viz. Thynne’s edition of 1532. He calls it ‘A goodly balade of Chaucer’; but it is manifestly Lydgate’s. Moreover, it is really a triple Balade, with an Envoy, on the model of Chaucer’s Fortune and Compleynt of Venus; only it has seven-line stanzas instead of stanzas of eight lines. An inspection of Thynne’s volume shews that it was inserted to fill a gap, viz. a blank page at the back of the concluding lines of The Legend of Good Women, so that the translation of Boethius might commence on a new leaf.
It is obvious that the third stanza of the second Balade was missing in Thynne’s MS. He did not leave it out for lack of space; for there is plenty of room on his page.
That it is not Chaucer’s appears from the first Balade, where the use of the monosyllables shal and smal in ll. 8 and 10 necessitates the use of the clipped forms al for al-le, cal for cal-le, apal for apal-le, and befal for befal-le. Moreover, the whole style of it suggests Lydgate, and does not suggest Chaucer.
The sixth stanza probably began with the letter D; in which case, the initial letters of the stanzas give us M, M, M; D, D, D; J, C, Q. And, as it was evidently addressed to a lady named Margaret (see the Notes), we seem to see here Margaret, Dame Jacques. The name of Robert Jacques occurs in the Writs of Parliament; Bardsley’s English Surnames, 2nd ed., p. 565. Of course this is a guess which it is easy to deride; but it is very difficult to account otherwise for the introduction of the letters J, C, Q in the third Balade; yet it was evidently intentional, for much force was employed to achieve the result. To make the first stanza begin with J, recourse is had to French; and the other two stanzas both begin with inverted clauses.
XXIII. Go forth, King.
I give this from Thynne’s first edition; but add the Latin lines from the copy printed in Schick’s edition of The Temple of Glas, at p. 68. His text is from that printed by Wynken de Worde about 1498, collated with the second and third prints from the same press at somewhat later dates, and a still later copy printed by Berthelet.
The only difference between Thynne’s text and that given by Schick is that Wynken de Worde printed ar in the last line where Thynne has printed be. Schick also notes that ‘the Chaucer-Prints of 1561 and 1598 omit thou’ in l. 9; and I find that it is also omitted in the third edition (undated, about 1550). But it occurs in the edition of 1532, all the same; shewing that the later reprints cannot always be relied upon.
I have already said (vol. i. p. 40)—‘Surely it must be Lydgate’s.’ For it exhibits his love for ‘catalogues,’ and presents his peculiarities of metre. Dr. Schick agrees with this ascription, and points out that its appearance in the four prints above-mentioned, in all of which it is annexed to Lydgate’s Temple of Glas, tends to strengthen my supposition. I think this may be taken as removing all doubt on the subject.
§ 65. I beg leave to quote here Schick’s excellent remarks upon the poem itself.
‘There are similar pieces to these Duodecim Abusiones in earlier English literature (see ten Brink, Geschichte der englischen Literatur, i. 268, and note).1 The “twelf unþēawas” existed also in Old-English; a homily on them is printed in Morris, Old Eng. Homilies, pp. 101–1192 . It is based on the Latin Homily “De octo viciis et de duodecim abusivis huius saeculi,” attributed to St. Cyprian or St. Patrick; see Dietrich in Niedner’s Zeitschrift für historische Theologie, 1855, p. 518; Wanley’s Catalogus, passim (cf. the Index sub voce Patrick). In the Middle-English period we meet again with more or less of these “Abusions”; see Morris, Old Eng. Miscellany, p. 185 (11 Abusions); Furnivall, Early Eng. Poems, Berlin, 1862 (Phil. Soc.), p. 161; “Five Evil Things,” Wright and Halliwell, Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 316, and ii. 14.’
XXIV. The Court of Love.
This piece was first printed by Stowe in 1561. Stowe happened to have access to a MS. which was really a miscellaneous collection of Middle-English pieces of various dates; and he proceeded to print them as being ‘certaine workes of Geffray Chauser,’ without paying any regard to their contents or style. In vol. i. pp. 33, 34, I give a list of his additions, numbered 42–603 . By good fortune, the very MS. in question is now in Trinity College Library, marked R. 3. 19. We can thus tell that he was indebted to it for the pieces numbered 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, and 59. These eleven pieces are all alike remarkable for being non-Chaucerian; indeed, no. 56 is certainly Lydgate’s. But it has so happened that no. 59, or The Court of Love, being the best of these pieces, was on that account ‘attributed’ to Chaucer, whilst the others were unhesitatingly rejected. And it happened on this wise.
§ 67. After Tyrwhitt had edited the Canterbury Tales afresh, it occurred to him to compile a Glossary. He rightly reasoned that the Glossary would be strengthened and made more correct if he included in it all the harder words found in the whole of Chaucer’s Works, instead of limiting the vocabulary to words which occur in the Canterbury Tales only. For this purpose, he proceeded to draw up a List of what he conceived to be Chaucer’s genuine works; and we must remember that the only process open to him was to consider all the old editions, and reject such as he conceived to be spurious. Hence his List is not really a list of genuine works, but one made by striking out from all previous lists the works which he knew to be spurious. A moment’s reflection will show that this is a very different thing.
Considering that he had only his own acumen to guide him, and had no access to linguistic or grammatical tests, still less to tests derived from an examination of rimes or phonology, it is wonderful how well he did his work. In the matter of rejection, he did not make a single mistake. His first revision was made by considering only the pieces numbered 1–41, in the first part of Stowe’s print (see vol. i. pp. 31–33); and he struck out the following, on the express ground that they were known to have been written by other authors; viz. nos. 4, 11, 13, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 33, and 401 .
Then he went over the list again, and struck out, on internal evidence, nos. 15, 18, 21, 22, and 322 .
Truly, here was a noble beginning! The only non-Chaucerian pieces which he failed to reject explicitly, among nos. 1–41, were the following, viz. 6 (A Goodly Balade of Chaucer), 17 (The Complaint of the Black Knight), 20 (The Testament of Love), 31 (The Cuckoo and the Nightingale), 38 (Go forth, King), and 41 (A Balade in Praise of Chaucer). Of course he rejected the last of these, but it was not worth his while to say so; and, in the same way, he tacitly rejected or ignored nos. 6, 30, and 38. Hence it was that nos. 6, 30, 38, and 41 did not appear in Moxon’s Chaucer, and even no. 32 was carefully excluded. In his final list, out of nos. 1–41, Tyrwhitt actually got rid of all but nos. 17, 20, and 31 (The Black Knight, The Testament of Love, and The Cuckoo).
As to the remaining articles, he accepted, among the longer pieces, nos. 59, 62, and 63, i. e. The Court of Love, Chaucer’s Dream, and The Flower and the Leaf; to which he added nos. 42, 43, and 60 (as to which there is no doubt), and also the Virelai (no. 50), on the slippery ground that it is a virelai (which, strictly speaking, it is not).
§ 68. One result of his investigations was that an edition of Chaucer was published by Moxon (my copy is dated 1855), in which all the poems were included which Tyrwhitt accepted, followed by Tyrwhitt’s Account of the Works of Chaucer.
Owing to the popularity of this edition, many scholars accepted the poems contained in it as being certainly genuine; but it is obvious that this was a very risky thing to do, in the absence of external evidence; especially when it is remembered that Tyrwhitt merely wanted to illustrate his glossary to the Canterbury Tales by adding words from other texts. The idea of drawing up a canon by the process of striking out from luxuriant lists the names of pieces that are obviously spurious, is one that should never have found acceptance.
§ 69. There is only one correct method of drawing up a canon of genuine works, viz. that adopted by Mr. Henry Bradshaw, formerly our Cambridge University Librarian. It is simple enough, viz. to take a clean sheet of paper, and enter upon it, first of all, the names of all the pieces that are admittedly genuine; and then to see if it can fairly be augmented by adding such pieces as have reasonable evidence in their favour. In making a list of this character, The Court of Love has no claim to be considered at all, as I fully proved about twenty years ago1 ; and there is an end of the matter. The MS. copy is in a hand of the sixteenth century2 , and there is no internal evidence to suggest an earlier date.
§ 70. Our task is to determine what it really is, and what can be made of it as it stands. We learn from the author that he was ‘a clerk of Cambridge’ (913), which we may readily accept. Beyond this, there is nothing but internal evidence; but of this there is much. That our ‘clerk’ had read Ovid and Maximian appears from the Notes; he even seems to have imbibed something of ‘the new learning,’ as he makes up the names Philogenet and Philo-bone by help of a Greek adjective1 . Dr. Schick has made it clear that he was well acquainted with Lydgate’s Temple of Glas, which he imitates freely; see Schick’s edition of that poem, p. cxxix. Mr. J. T. T. Brown, in his criticism on ‘The Authorship of the Kingis Quair,’ Glasgow, 1896, draws many parallels between The Court of Love and The Kingis Quair, and concludes that The Kingis Quair was indebted to The Court of Love; but it is tolerably certain that the indebtedness was in the other direction. For, in The Kingis Quair, some knowledge of the true use of Chaucer’s final -e is still exhibited, even in a Northern poem, whilst in The Court of Love, it is almost altogether dead, though the poem is in the Midland dialect. I shall presently shew that our clerk, whilst very nearly ignoring the final -e, occasionally employs the final -en; but this he does in a way which clearly shews that he did not understand when to use it aright, a fact which is highly significant.
I am much indebted to my friend Professor Hales for pointing out another very cogent argument. He draws attention to the numerous instances in which the author of The Court of Love fails to end a stanza with a stop. There is no stop, for example, at the end of ll. 14, 567, 672, 693, 700, 763, 826, 1064, 1288; and only a slight pause at the end of ll. 28, 49, 70, 84, 189, 231, 259, 280, 371, 406, 427, &c. In Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules, on the other hand, there is but one stanza without a stop at the end, viz. at l. 280; and but one with a slight pause, viz. at l. 154. The difference between these results is very marked, and would convince any mathematician. I should like to add that the same test disposes of the claims of The Flower and the Leaf to be considered as Chaucer’s; it has no stop at the end of ll. 7, 70, 154, 161, 196, 231, 280, 308, 392, 476, and has mere commas at the end of ll. 28, 49, 56, 98, 119, 224, 259, 329, 336, &c. In the Assembly of Ladies this departure from Chaucer’s usage has been nearly abandoned, which is one reason why that piece is in a less lively style.
§ 71. The sole MS. copy of The Court of Love belongs to the sixteenth century, and there is nothing to shew that the poem itself was of earlier date. Indeed, the language of it is remarkably like that of the former half of that century. If it be compared with Sackville’s famous ‘Induction,’ the metrical form of the stanzas is much the same; there is the same smoothness of rhythm and frequent modernness of form, quite different from the halting lines of Lydgate and Hawes. This raises a suggestion that the author may have learnt his metre from Scottish authors, such as Henryson and Dunbar; and it is surprising to find him employing such words as celsitude and pulcritude, and even riming them together, precisely as Dunbar did (ll. 611–613, and the note). One wonders where he learnt to use such words, if not from Scottish authors. Curiously enough, a single instance of the use of a Northern inflexion occurs in the phrase me thynkes, 874. And I admit the certainty that he consulted The Kingis Quair.
I have no space to discuss the matter at length; so shall content myself with saying that the impression produced upon me is that we have here the work of one of the heralds of the Elizabethan poetry, of the class to which belonged Nicholas Grimoald, Thomas Sackville, Lord Surrey, Lord Vaux, and Sir Francis Bryan. There must have been much fairly good poetry in the time of Henry VIII that is lost to us. Tottell’s Miscellany clearly shews this, as it is a mere selection of short pieces, which very nearly perished; but for this fortunate relic, we should not have known much about Wyat and Surrey. Sackville, when at Cambridge, acquired some distinction for Latin and English verse, but we possess none of it. However, Sackville was not the author of The Court of Love, seeing that it was published in a ‘Chaucer’ collection in 1561, long before his death.
The fact that our clerk was well acquainted with so many pieces by Chaucer, such as The Knight’s Tale, the Complaint of Pity, The Legend of Good Women, Troilus, and Anelida, besides giving us reminiscences of The Letter of Cupid, and (perhaps) of The Cuckoo and Nightingale, raises the suspicion that he had access to Thynne’s edition of 1532; and it is quite possible that this very book inspired him for his effort. This suspicion becomes almost a certainty if it be true that ll. 495–496 are borrowed from Rom. Rose, 2819–20; see note at p. 545. I can find no reason for dating the poem earlier than that year.
§ 72. However this may be, the chief point to notice is that his archaisms are affectations and not natural. He frequently dispenses with them altogether for whole stanzas at a time. When they occur, they are such as he found in Chaucer abundantly; I refer to such phrases as I-wis or y-wis; as blyve; the use of ich for I (661); besy cure (36); gan me dresse (113; cf. C. T., G 1271); by the feith I shall to god (131; cf. Troil. iii. 1649); and many more. He rarely uses the prefix i- or y- with the pp.; we find y-born (976), y-formed (1176), y-heried (592), y-sped (977), all in Chaucer; besides these, I only note y-fed (975), y-ravisshed (153), y-stope (281), the last being used in the sense of Chaucer’s stope. The most remarkable point is the almost total absence of the final -e; I only observe His len-ë body (1257); to serv-e (909); to dred-e (603); and in thilk-ë place (642); the last of which is a phrase (cf. R. R. 660). On the other hand, whilst thus abstaining from the use of the final -e, he makes large use of the longer and less usual suffix -en, which he employs with much skill to heighten the archaic effect. Thus we find the past participles holden, 62; growen, 182; yoven or yeven, 742; shapen, 816, 1354; blowen, 1240; the gerunds writen, 35; dressen, 179; byden, 321; semen, 607; seken, 838; worshippen, 1165, and a few others; the infinitives maken, 81; byden, 189; quyten, 327, &c., this being the commonest use; the present plurals wailen, 256; foten, 586; speden, 945, &c.; with the same form for the first person, as in wailen, 1113; bleden, 1153; and for the second person, as in waxen, 958; slepen, 999. Occasionally, this suffix is varied to -yn or -in, as in exilyn, v., 336; serchyn, v., 950; spakyn, pt. pl., 624; approchyn, pr. pl., 1212. This may be the scribe’s doing, and is consistent with East Anglian spelling.
But the artificial character of these endings is startlingly revealed when we find -en added in an impossible position, shewing that its true grammatical use was quite dead. Yet we find such examples. A serious error (hardly the scribe’s) occurs in l. 347: ‘Wheder that she me helden lefe or loth.’ Hold being a strong verb, the pt. t. is held; we could however justify the use of held-e, by supposing it to be the subjunctive mood, which suits the sense; but held-en (with -en) is the plural form, while she is singular; and really this use of -e in the subjunctive must have been long dead. In l. 684, we have a case that is even worse, viz. I kepen in no wyse; here the use of -en saves a hiatus, but the concord is false, like the Latin ego seruamus. In l. 928, the same thing recurs, though the scribe has altered greven into growen1 ; for this present tense is supposed to agree with I! A very clear case occurs in l. 725: For if by me this mater springen out; where the use of -en, again meant to save a hiatus, is excruciatingly wrong; for mater is singular! This cannot be the fault of the scribe. Other examples of false grammar are: thou serven, 290; thou sene, 499. But the climax is attained in l. 526, where we meet with thay kepten ben, where the -en is required for the metre. Kepten, as a past participle, is quite unique; let us drop a veil over this sad lapse, and say no more about it2 .
We may, however, fairly notice the constant use of the Northern forms their and thaim or theim, where Chaucer has hir and hem. The use of their and them (not thaim) was well established by the year 1500 in literary English, as, e.g., in Hawes and Skelton. Caxton uses all four forms, hem and them, her and their.
§ 73. I add a few notes, suggested by an examination of the rimes employed.
The final -e is not used at the end of a line. This is easily seen, if carefully looked into. Thus lette (1284) stands for let, for it rimes with y-set; grace and trespace rime with was, 163; kene rimes with bene, misspelling of been, 252; redde, put for red, rimes with spred, 302; yerde, put for yerd, rimes with aferd, 363; ende rimes with frend and fend, 530; and so on throughout3 . The following assonances occur: here, grene, 253; kepe, flete, 309; and the following rimes are imperfect: plaint, talent, consent, 716; frend, mynd, 1056; nonne (for non), boun, 1149; like (i long), stike (i short), 673; and perhaps hold, shuld4 , 408; hard, ferd, 151. Hard is repeated, 149, 151; 1275, 1277. A curious rime is that of length with thynketh, 1059; read thenk’th, and it is good enough. Noteworthy are these: thryse (for Chaucer’s thry-ës), wyse, 537; hens (for Chaucer’s henn-ës), eloquence, 935; desire, here, 961, 1301; eke, like, 561; tretesse (for Chaucer’s tretys), worthinesse, 28; write, aright, 13; sey (I saw), way, 692. In one place, he has discryve, 778, to rime with lyve; and in another discry (miswritten discryve, 97), to rime with high. As in Chaucer, he sometimes has dy, to die, riming with remedy, 340, and elsewhere dey, to rime with pray, 582; and again fire, fyr, riming with hyre, 883, or with desire, 1285, and at another time the Kentish form fere (borrowed from Chaucer), with the same sense, r. w. y-fere, 622. The most curious forms are those for ‘eye.’ When it rimes with degree, 132, see, 768, we seem to have the Northern form ee or e; but elsewhere it rimes with besily, 299, pretily, 419, wounderly, 695, dispitously, 1139, or with I, 282; and the plural yen (=y’n) rimes with lyne, 135. The sounds represented by ē and y obviously afford permissible rimes; that the sounds were not identical appears from ll. 1051–1055, which end with me, remedy, be, dy, company consecutively.
§ 74. Perhaps an easier way for enabling a learner to recognise the peculiarities of The Court of Love, and the difference of its language from Chaucer, is to translate some lines of it into Chaucerian English. The effect upon the metre is startling.
Very many more such examples may be given. Or take the following; Chaucer has (L. G. W. 476):—
For Love ne wól nat countrepleted be.
And this is how it reappears in C. L. 429:—
For Love wil not be counterpleted, indede!
Here the melody of the line is completely spoilt.
In the present state of our knowledge of the history of the English language, any notion of attributing The Court of Love to Chaucer is worse than untenable; for it is wholly disgraceful. Everything points to a very late date, and tends to exclude it, not only from the fourteenth, but even from the fifteenth century.
At the same time, it will readily be granted that the poem abounds with Chaucerian words and phrases to an extent that almost surpasses even the poems of Lydgate. The versification is smooth, and the poem, as a whole, is pleasing. I have nothing to say against it, when considered on its own merits.
§ 75. Space fails me to discuss the somewhat vexed question of the Courts of Love, of which some have denied the existence. However, there seems to be good evidence to shew that they arose in Provence, and were due to the extravagances of the troubadours. They were travesties of the courts of law, with a lady of rank for a judge, and minstrels for advocates; and they discussed subtle questions relating to affairs of love, usually between troubadours and ladies. The discussions were conducted with much seriousness, and doubtless often served to give much amusement to many idle people. Not unfrequently they led to tragedies, as is easily understood when we notice that the first of one set of thirty-one Laws of Love runs as follows:—‘Marriage cannot be pleaded as an excuse for refusing to love.’ The reader who requires further information is referred to ‘The Troubadours and Courts of Love,’ by J. F. Rowbotham, M.A., London, Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1895.
It is perhaps necessary to observe that the said Courts have very little to do with the present poem, which treats of a Court of Cupid in the Chaucerian sense (Leg. Good Women, 352). Even the statutes of the Court are largely imitated from Lydgate.
Pieces numbered XXV-XXIX.
XXV.Virelay. This piece, from the Trinity MS., belongs to the end of the fifteenth century, and contains no example of the final -e as constituting a syllable. Chaucer would have used sore (l. 2), more (l. 12), trouth (l. 13), as dissyllables; and he would not have rimed pleyn and disdayn with compleyn and absteyn, as the two latter require a final -e. The rime of finde with ende is extraordinary.
The title ‘Virelai’ is given to this piece in Moxon’s Chaucer, and is, strictly speaking, incorrect; in the MS. and in Stowe’s edition, it has no title at all! Tyrwhitt cautiously spoke of it as being ‘perhaps by Chaucer’; and says that ‘it comes nearer to the description of a Virelay, than anything else of his that has been preserved.’ This is not the case; see note to Anelida, 256; vol. i. p. 536. Tyrwhitt quotes from Cotgrave—‘Virelay, a round, freemen’s song,’ and adds—‘There is a particular description of a Virlai, in the Jardin de plaisance, fol. xii, where it makes the decima sexta species Rhetorice Gallicane.’ For further remarks, see p. 554.
XXVI.Prosperity: by John Walton. ‘To Mr. [Mark] Liddell belongs the honour of the discovery of John Walton as the author of the little poem on fol. 119 [of MS. Arch. Seld. B. 24]. The lines occur as part of the Prologue (ll. 83–90) to Walton’s translation of Boethius’ De Consolatione.’—J. T. T. Brown, The Authorship of the Kingis Quair, Glasgow, 1896; p. 71. See the account of Walton in Warton’s Hist. E. Poetry, sect. xx. The original date of the stanza was, accordingly, 1410; but we here find it in a late Scottish dress. The ascription of it to ‘Chaucer,’ in the MS., is an obvious error; it was written ten years after his death.
XXVII.Leaulte vault Richesse. This piece, like the former, has no title in the MS.; but the words Leaulte vault Richesse (Loyalty deserves riches) occur at the end of it. If the original was in a Midland dialect, it must belong to the latter part of the fifteenth century. Even in these eight lines we find a contradiction to Chaucer’s usage; for he always uses lent, pp., as a monosyllable, and rent-e as a dissyllable. It is further remarkable that he never uses content as an adjective; it first appears in Rom. Rose, 5628.
XXVIII.Sayings. I give these sayings as printed by Caxton; see vol. i. p. 46, where I note that Caxton did not ascribe them to Chaucer. They are not at all in his style.
In MS. Ashmole 59, fol. 78, I find a similar prophecy:—
It is extremely interesting to observe the ascription of these lines to Merlin; see King Lear, iii. 2. 95.
XXIX.Balade. This poor stanza, with its long-drawn lines, appears in Stowe at the end of ‘Chaucer’s Works.’ In the Trinity MS., it occurs at the end of a copy of The Parlement of Foules.
§ 77. An examination of the pieces contained in the present volume leads us to a somewhat remarkable result, viz. that we readily distinguish in them the handiwork of at least twelve different authors, of whom no two are much alike, whilst every one of them can be distinguished from Chaucer.
These are: (1) the author of The Testament of Love, who writes in a prose style all his own; (2) the author of The Plowmans Tale and Plowmans Crede, with his strong powers of invective and love of alliteration, whose style could never have been mistaken for Chaucer’s in any age2 ; (3) the author of Jack Upland, with his direct and searching questions; (4) John Gower, with his scrupulous regularity of grammatical usages; (5) Thomas Hoccleve, who too often accents a dissyllable on the latter syllable when it should be accented on the former; (6) Henry Scogan, whose lines are lacking in interest and originality; (7) John Lydgate3 , who allows his verse too many licences, so that it cannot always be scanned at the first trial; (8) Sir Richard Ros, who writes in English of a quite modern cast, using their and them as in modern English, and wholly discarding the use of final -e as an inflexion; (9) Robert Henryson, who writes smoothly enough and with a fine vein of invention, but employs the Northern dialect; (10) Sir Thomas Clanvowe, who employs the final -e much more frequently than Chaucer or even Gower; (11) the authoress of The Flower and the Leaf and The Assembly of Ladies, to whom the final -e was an archaism, very convenient for metrical embellishment; and (12) the author of The Court of Love, who, while discarding the use of the final -e, was glad to use the final -en to save a hiatus or to gain a syllable, and did not hesitate to employ it where it was grammatically wrong to do so.
§ 78. If the reader were to suppose that this exhausts the list, he would be mistaken; for it is quite easy to add at least one known name, and to suggest three others. For the piece numbered XXVI, on p. 449, has been identified as the work of John Walton, who wrote a verse translation of Boethius in the year 1410; whilst it is extremely unlikely that no. XXVII, written in Lowland Scottish, was due to Henryson, the only writer in that dialect who has been mentioned above. This gives a total of fourteen authors already; and I believe that we require yet two more before the Virelai and the Sayings printed by Caxton (nos. XXV and XXVIII) can be satisfactorily accounted for. As for no. XIX—the Envoy to Alison—it may be Lydgate’s, but, on the other hand, it may not. And as for no. XXIX, it is of no consequence.
Moreover, it must be remembered that I here only refer to the selected pieces printed in the present volume. If we go further afield, we soon find several more authors, all distinct from those above-mentioned, from each other, and from Chaucer. I will just instance the author of the Isle of Ladies, the authoress (presumably) of The Lamentation of Mary Magdalen, the author of The Craft of Lovers, the ‘man unknown’ who wrote The Ten Commandments of Love, and the author of the clumsy lines dignified by the title of The Nine Ladies Worthy. It is quite certain that not less than twenty authors are represented in the mass of heterogeneous material which appears under Chaucer’s name in a compilation such as that which is printed in the first volume of Chalmers’ British Poets; which, precisely on that very account, is useful enough in its own peculiar way.
§ 79. I believe it may be said of nearly every piece in the volume, that it now appears in an improved form. In several cases, I have collated MSS. that have not previously been examined, and have found them to be the best. The Notes are nearly all new; very few have been taken from Bell’s Chaucer. Several are due to Schick’s useful notes to The Temple of Glas; and some to Krausser’s edition of The Black Knight, and to Gröhler’s edition of La Belle Dame, both of which reached me after my own notes were all in type. I have added a Glossary of the harder words; for others, see the Glossary already printed in vol. vi.
In extenuation of faults, I may plead that I have found it much more difficult to deal with such heterogenous material as is comprised in the present volume than with pieces all written by the same author. The style, the grammar, the mode of scansion, the dialect, and even the pronunciation are constantly shifting, instead of being reasonably consistent, as in the genuine works of Chaucer. Any one who will take the pains to observe these points, to compile a sufficient number of notes upon difficult passages, and to prepare a somewhat full glossary, may thus practically convince himself, as I have done, that not a single piece in the present volume ought ever to have been ‘attributed’ to Chaucer. That any of them should have been so attributed — and some of them never were — has been the result of negligence, superficiality, and incapacity, such as (it may be hoped) we have seen the last of.
I wish once more to acknowledge my obligations to Mr. E. B. Nicholson, for the loan of his transcript of The Praise of Peace; to Mr. Bradley, for his discovery of the authorship of The Testament of Love and for other assistance as regards the same; to Dr. E. Krausser, for his edition of The Complaint of the Black Knight; to Dr. Gröhler, for his dissertation on La Belle Dame sans Mercy; and to Professor Hales for his kind help as to some difficult points, and particularly with regard to The Court of Love.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE TESTAMENT OF LOVE.[Back to Table of Contents]
MANY men there ben that, with eeres openly sprad, so moche swalowen the deliciousnesse of jestes and of ryme, by queynt knitting coloures , that of the goodnesse or of the badnesse of the sentence take they litel hede or els non .
Soothly , dul wit and a thoughtful soule so sore have myned5 and graffed in my spirites, that suche craft of endyting wol not ben of myn acqueyntaunce. And, for rude wordes and boystous percen the herte of the herer to the in[ne]rest point , and planten there the sentence of thinges, so that with litel helpe it is able to springe ; this book , that nothing hath of the greet flode of10 wit ne of semelich colours, is dolven with rude wordes and boystous, and so drawe togider, to maken the cacchers therof ben the more redy to hente sentence.
Some men there ben that peynten with colours riche, and some with vers, as with red inke, and some with coles and15 chalke; and yet is there good matere to the leude people of thilke chalky purtreyture, as hem thinketh for the tyme; and afterward the sight of the better colours yeven to hem more joye for the firstleudnesse . So, sothly, this leude clowdy occupacion is not to prayse but by the leude; for comunly leude20leudnesse commendeth. Eke it shal yeve sight , that other precious thinges shal be the more in reverence. In Latin and French hath many soverayne wittes had greet delyt to endyte, and have many noble thinges fulfild ; but certes, there25 ben some that speken their poysye-mater in Frenche, of whiche speche the Frenche men have as good a fantasye as we have in hering of Frenche mennes English . And many termes there ben in English , [of] whiche unneth we Englishmen connen declare the knowleginge. How shulde than a Frenche man born suche30 termes conne jumpere in his mater, but as the jay chatereth English ? Right so, trewly, the understanding of Englishmen wol not strecche to the privy termes in Frenche, what-so-ever we bosten of straunge langage. Let than clerkes endyten in Latin, for they have the propertee of science, and the knowinge in that35facultee ; and let Frenchmen in their Frenche also endyten their queynt termes, for it is kyndely to their mouthes; and let us shewe our fantasyes in suche wordes as we lerneden of our dames tonge.
And although this book be litel thank-worthy for the leudnesse40 in travaile, yet suche wrytinges excyten men to thilke thinges that ben necessarie; for every man therby may, as by a perpetual mirrour, seen the vyces or vertues of other, in whiche thing lightly may be conceyved to eschewe perils, and necessaries to cacche , after as aventures have fallen to other people or persons.
45Certes, [perfeccion is] the soveraynest thing of desyre, and moste †creatures resonable have, or els shulde have, ful appetyte to their perfeccion ; unresonable beestes mowen not, sith reson hath in hem no werking. Than resonable that wol not is comparisoned to unresonable, and made lyke hem. For-sothe, the50 most soverayne and fynal perfeccion of man is in knowing of[ ] a sothe, withouten any entent disceyvable, and in love of oon very god that is inchaungeable; that is, to knowe and love his creatour.
¶ Now , principally, the mene to bringe in knowleging and55 loving his creatour is the consideracion of thinges made by the creatour, wherthrough, by thilke thinges that ben made understonding here to our wittes, arn the unsene privitees of god made to us sightful and knowing , in our contemplacion and understonding. These thinges than, forsoth, moche bringen us to the ful knowleginge [of] sothe, and to the parfit love of the60 maker of hevenly thinges. Lo, David sayth, ‘thou hast delyted me in makinge,’ as who sayth, to have delyt in the tune, how god hath lent me in consideracion of thy makinge.
Wherof Aristotle, in the boke de Animalibus , saith to naturel philosophers: ‘it is a greet lyking in love of knowinge their65 creatour; and also in knowinge of causes in kyndely thinges .’ Considred , forsoth, the formes of kyndly thinges and the shap, a greet kindely love me shulde have to the werkman that hem made. The crafte of a werkman is shewed in the werke. Herfore, truly, the philosophers, with a lyvely studie, many70 noble thinges right precious and worthy to memory writen; and by a greet swetande travayle to us leften of causes [of] the propertees in natures of thinges. To whiche (therfore) philosophers it was more joy, more lykinge, more herty lust, in kyndely vertues and maters of reson , the perfeccion by busy75 study to knowe, than to have had al the tresour , al the richesse, al the vainglory that the passed emperours, princes, or kinges hadden. Therfore the names of hem, in the boke of perpetual memory, in vertue and pees arn writen; and in the contrarye,[ ] that is to sayne, in Styx , the foule pitte of helle, arn thilke pressed80 that suche goodnesse hated. And bycause this book shal be of love, and the pryme causes of steringe in that doinge, with passions and diseses for wantinge of desyre, I wil that this book be cleped The Testament of Love.
But now , thou reder, who is thilke that wil not in scorne85 laughe, to here a dwarfe, or els halfe a man, say he wil rende out the swerde of Hercules handes, and also he shuld sette Hercules Gades a myle yet ferther; and over that, he had power of strengthe to pulle up the spere , that Alisander the noble might never wagge? And that , passing al thinge, to ben90 mayster of Fraunce by might, there-as the noble gracious Edward the thirde, for al his greet prowesse in victories, ne might al yet conquere?
Certes, I wot wel, ther shal be mad more scorne and jape of me, that I, so unworthily clothed al-togider in the cloudy cloude95 of unconninge , wil putten me in prees to speke of love, or els of the causes in that matter, sithen al the grettest clerkes han[ ] had ynough to don, and (as who sayth) †gadered up clene toforn hem, and with their sharpe sythes of conning al mowen, and100mad therof greterekes and noble, ful of al plentees , to fede me and many another. Envye, forsothe, commendeth nought his reson that he hath in hayne , be it never so trusty. And al-though these noble repers, as good workmen and worthy their hyre , han al drawe and bounde up in the sheves, and mad many105 shockes, yet have I ensample to gadere the smale crommes, and fullen my walet of tho that fallen from the borde among the smale houndes, notwithstandinge the travayle of the almoigner, that hath drawe up in the cloth al the remissailes , as trenchours, and the relief , to bere to the almesse.
110Yet also have I leve of the noble husbande Boëce , al-though I be a straunger of conninge, to come after his doctrine, and these grete workmen, and glene my handfuls of the shedinge after their handes; and, if me faile ought of my ful, to encrese my porcion with that I shal drawe by privitees out of the shocke.115 A slye servaunt in his owne helpe is often moche commended; knowing of trouth in causes of thinges was more hardyer in the first sechers (and so sayth Aristotle ), and lighter in us that han folowed after. For their passing †studies han fresshed our wittes, and our understandinge han excyted, in consideracion of trouth,120 by sharpnesse of their resons . Utterly these thinges be no dremes ne japes, to throwe to hogges; it is lyflich mete for[ ] children of trouthe; and as they me betiden , whan I pilgrimaged out of my kith in winter; whan the †weder out of mesure was boystous, and the wylde wind Boreas , as his kind asketh, with125dryinge coldes maked the wawes of the occian-see so to aryse unkyndely over the commune bankes, that it was in poynte to spille al the erthe.
Thus endeth the Prologue; and here-after foloweth the first book of the Testament of Love.
Trewly, I leve, in myn herte is writte, of perdurable letters, al the entencions of lamentacion that now ben y-nempned! For any5 maner disese outward , in sobbing maner, sheweth sorowful yexinge from within. Thus from my comfort I ginne to spille, sith she that shulde me solace is fer fro my presence. Certes, her absence is to me an helle ; my sterving deth thus in wo it myneth, that endeles care is throughout myne herte clenched; blisse of10 my joye, that ofte me murthed, is turned in-to galle, to thinke on thing that may not, at my wil, in armes me hente ! Mirth is chaunged in-to tene, whan swink is there continually that reste was wont to sojourne and have dwelling-place . Thus witless , thoughtful, sightles lokinge, I endure my penaunce in this derke prison ,15[ ] †caitived fro frendshippe and acquaintaunce, and forsaken of al that any †word dare speke. Straunge hath by waye of intrucioun mad his home, there me shulde be, if reson were herd as he shulde. Never-the-later yet hertly, lady precious Margarit, have mynde on thy servaunt; and thinke on his disese , how lightles he20 liveth, sithe the bemes brennende in love of thyn eyen are so[ ]bewent , that worldes and cloudes atwene us twey wol nat suffre my thoughtes of hem to be enlumined! Thinke that oon vertue of a Margarite precious is, amonges many other, the sorouful to comforte; yet †whyles that, me sorouful to comforte, is my lust25 to have nought els at this tyme, d[r]ede ne deth ne no maner traveyle hath no power, myn herte so moche to fade, as shulde[ ] to here of a twinkling in your disese ! Ah! god forbede that; but yet let me deye, let me sterve withouten any mesure of penaunce, rather than myn hertely thinking comfort in ought30 were disesed ! What may my service avayle , in absence of her that my service shulde accepte? Is this nat endeles sorowe to thinke? Yes, yes, god wot; myn herte breketh nigh a-sonder. How shulde the ground , without kyndly noriture, bringen forth35 any frutes? How shulde a ship , withouten a sterne, in the grete see be governed? How shulde I, withouten my blisse, my herte, my desyre, my joye, my goodnesse, endure in this contrarious prison, that thinke every hour in the day an hundred winter? Wel may now Eve sayn to me, ‘Adam, in sorowe fallen from welth, driven40art thou out of paradise, with swete thy sustenaunce to beswinke!’ Depe in this pyninge pitte with wo I ligge y-stocked, with chaynes linked of care and of tene. It is so hye from thens I lye and the commune erth, there ne is cable in no lande maked, that might strecche to me, to drawe me in-to blisse; ne steyers45 to steye on is none; so that, without recover, endeles here to endure, I wot wel, I [am] purveyed . O, where art thou now, frendship , that som-tyme, with laughande chere, madest bothe face and countenaunce to me-wardes? Truely, now art thou went out of towne. But ever, me thinketh, he wereth his olde50 clothes, and that the soule in the whiche the lyfe of frendship was in, is drawen out from his other spirites. Now than, farewel, frendship! and farewel, felawes! Me thinketh, ye al han taken your leve ; no force of you al at ones. But, lady of love, ye wote what I mene; yet thinke on thy servaunt that for thy love55 spilleth; al thinges have I forsake to folowen thyn hestes; rewarde me with a thought, though ye do naught els. Remembraunce of love lyth so sore under my brest, that other thought cometh not in my mynde but gladnesse, to thinke on your goodnesse[ ] and your mery chere; †ferdnes and sorowe, to thinke on your60 wreche and your daunger; from whiche Christ me save! My greet joye it is to have in meditacion the bountees , the vertues, the nobley in you printed; sorowe and helle comen at ones, to[ ] suppose that I be †weyved . Thus with care, sorowe, and tene am I shapt , myn ende with dethe to make. Now, good goodly,65 thinke on this. O wrecched foole that I am, fallen in-to so lowe, the hete of my brenning tene hath me al defased. How shulde ye, lady, sette prise on so foule fylthe? My conninge is thinne, my wit is exiled; lyke to a foole naturel am I comparisoned. Trewly, lady, but your mercy the more were, I wot wel al my labour were in ydel; your mercy than passeth right. God graunt70 that proposicion to be verifyed in me; so that, by truste of good hope, I mowe come to the haven of ese . And sith it is impossible, the colours of your qualitees to chaunge: and forsothe I wot wel, wem ne spot may not abyde there so noble vertue haboundeth, so that the defasing to you is verily [un]imaginable ,75 as countenaunce of goodnesse with encresinge vertue is so in you knit , to abyde by necessary maner: yet, if the revers mighte falle (which is ayenst kynde), I †wot wel myn herte ne shulde therfore naught flitte , by the leste poynt of gemetrye; so sadly is it[ ] †souded , that away from your service in love may he not departe.80 O love, whan shal I ben plesed ? O charitee , whan shal I ben esed ? O good goodly, whan shal the dyce turne? O ful of vertue, do the chaunce of comfort upwarde to falle! O love, whan wolt thou thinke on thy servaunt? I can no more but here, out-cast of al welfare, abyde the day of my dethe, or els to see the85 sight that might al my wellinge sorowes voyde, and of the flode make an ebbe. These diseses mowen wel, by duresse of sorowe, make my lyfe to unbodye, and so for to dye; but certes ye, lady, in a ful perfeccion of love ben so knit with my soule, that deth may not thilke knotte unbynde ne departe; so that ye and my90 soule togider †in endeles blisse shulde dwelle ; and there shal my soule at the ful ben esed , that he may have your presence, to shewe th’entent of his desyres. Ah, dere god! that shal be a greet joye! Now , erthely goddesse, take regarde of thy servant, though I be feble; for thou art wont to prayse them better that95wolde conne serve in love, al be he ful mener than kinges or princes that wol not have that vertue in mynde.
Now , precious Margaryte, that with thy noble vertue hast drawen me in-to love first, me weninge therof to have blisse, [ther ]-as galle and aloes are so moche spronge, that savour of100 swetnesse may I not ataste. Alas! that your benigne eyen, in whiche that mercy semeth to have al his noriture, nil by no waye tourne the clerenesse of mercy to me-wardes! Alas! that your brennande vertues, shyning amonges al folk , and enlumininge 105 al other people by habundaunce of encresing , sheweth to me but smoke and no light! These thinges to thinke in myn herte maketh every day weping in myn eyen to renne. These liggen on my backe so sore, that importable burthen me semeth on my backe to be charged; it maketh me backwarde to meve, whan110 my steppes by comune course even-forth pretende. These thinges also, on right syde and lift, have me so envolved with care, that wanhope of helpe is throughout me ronne; trewly , †I leve , that graceles is my fortune, whiche that ever sheweth it me-wardes by a cloudy disese , al redy to make stormes of tene;115 and the blisful syde halt stil awayward, and wol it not suffre to me-wardes to turne; no force , yet wol I not ben conquered.
O, alas ! that your nobley, so moche among al other creatures[ ] commended by †flowinge streme †of al maner vertues, but ther ben wonderful, I not whiche that let the flood to come120 in-to my soule; wherefore, purely mated with sorowe thorough-sought, my-selfe I crye on your goodnesse to have pitè on this caytif , that in the in[ne]rest degree of sorowe and disese is left , and, without your goodly wil, from any helpe and recovery. These sorowes may I not sustene, but-if my sorowe shulde be125told and to you-wardes shewed; although moche space is bitwene us twayne , yet me thinketh that by suche †joleyvinge wordes my disese ginneth ebbe. Trewly, me thinketh that the sowne of my lamentacious weping is right now flowe in-to your presence, and there cryeth after mercy and grace, to which thing (me semeth)130thee list non answere to yeve, but with a deynous chere ye commaunden it to avoide; but god forbid that any word shuld of you springe, to have so litel routh! Pardè, pitè and mercy in every Margarite is closed by kynde amonges many other vertues, by qualitees of comfort ; but comfort is to me right naught worth ,135 withouten mercy and pitè of you alone; whiche thinges hastely god me graunt for his mercy!
REHERSINGE these thinges and many other, without tyme or moment of rest, me semed, for anguisshe of disese , that al-togider I was ravisshed, I can not telle how ; but hoolly all my passions and felinges weren lost , as it semed, for the tyme; and sodainly a maner of drede lighte in me al at ones; nought suche5fere as folk have of an enemy, that were mighty and wolde hem greve or don hem disese . For, I trowe, this is wel knowe to many persones, that otherwhyle, if a man be in his soveraignes presence, a maner of ferdnesse crepeth in his herte, not for harme, but of goodly subjeccion ; namely, as men reden that aungels ben aferde10 of our saviour in heven. And pardè, there ne is, ne may no passion of disese be; but it is to mene , that angels ben adradde, not by †ferdnes of drede, sithen they ben perfitly blissed, [but] as [by] affeccion of wonderfulnesse and by service of obedience. Suche ferde also han these lovers in presence of their loves, and15 subjectes aforn their soveraynes. Right so with ferdnesse myn herte was caught. And I sodainly astonied, there entred in-to the place there I was loggeda lady , the semeliest and most goodly to my sight that ever to-forn apered to any creature; and trewly, in the blustringe of her looke, she yave gladnesse and20comfort sodaynly to al my wittes; and right so she doth to every wight that cometh in her presence. And for she was so goodly, as me thought, myn herte began somdele to be enbolded, and wexte a litel hardy to speke; but yet, with a quakinge voyce, as I durste, I salued her, and enquired what she was;25 and why she, so worthy to sight, dayned to entre in-to so foule a dongeon, and namely a prison , without leve of my kepers. For certes, al-though the vertue of dedes of mercy strecchen to visiten the poore prisoners, and hem, after that facultees ben had, to comforte, me semed that I was so fer fallen in-to miserye and30wrecched hid caytifnesse, that me shulde no precious thingneighe ; and also, that for my sorowe every wight shulde ben hevy , and wisshe my recovery. But whan this lady had somdele apperceyved, as wel by my wordes as by my chere, what thought35 besied me within, with a good womanly countenance she sayde these wordes:—
‘O my nory , wenest thou that my maner be, to foryete my frendes or my servauntes? Nay ,’ quod she, ‘it is my ful entente to visyte and comforte al my frendshippes and allyes , as wel in40 tyme of perturbacion as of moost propertee of blisse; in me shal unkyndnesse never be founden: and also, sithen I have so fewe especial trewe now in these dayes. Wherefore I may wel at more leysar come to hem that me deserven; and if my cominge may in any thinge avayle, wete wel, I wol come often.’
45‘Now , good lady,’ quod I, ‘that art so fayre on to loke, reyninge hony by thy wordes, blisse of paradys arn thy lokinges, joye and comfort are thy movinges. What is thy name? How is it that in you is so mokel werkinge vertues enpight, as me semeth, and in none other creature that ever saw I with myne50 eyen?’
‘O good lady,’ quod I, ‘is this worship to thee or to thyn55 excellence, for to come in-to so foule a place? Pardè, somtyme, tho I was in prosperitè and with forayne goodes envolved, I had mokil to done to drawe thee to myn hostel; and yet many werninges thou madest er thou liste fully to graunte, thyn home to make at my dwelling-place; and now thou comest goodly by60thynowne vyse , to comforte me with wordes; and so there-thorough I ginne remembre on passed gladnesse. Trewly, lady, I ne wot whether I shal say welcome or non , sithen thy coming wol as moche do me tene and sorowe, as gladnesse and mirthe. See why: for that me comforteth to thinke on passed gladnesse,65 that me anoyeth efte to be in doinge. Thus thy cominge bothe gladdeth and teneth, and that is cause of moche sorowe. Lo, lady, how than I am comforted by your comminge’; and with that I gan in teeres to distille, and tenderly wepe.
‘Trewly,’ quod I, ‘that have ye maked, and that ever wol I rue.’
[ ] ‘Wottest thou not wel,’ quod she, ‘that every shepherde ought by reson to seke his sperkelande sheep , that arn ronne in-to75 wildernesse among busshes and perils, and hem to their pasture ayen-bringe, and take on hem privy besy cure of keping? And though the unconninge sheep scattred wolde ben lost , renning to wildernesse, and to desertes drawe, or els wolden putte hem-selfe to the swalowinge wolfe, yet shal the shepherde , by businesse and80 travayle, so putte him forth , that he shal not lete hem be lost by no waye. A good shepherde putteth rather his lyf to ben lost for his sheep . But for thou shalt not wene me being of werse condicion, trewly, for everich of my folke, and for al tho that to me-ward be knit in any condicion, I wol rather dye than suffre85 hem through errour to ben spilte. For me liste, and it me lyketh, of al myne a shepherdesse to be cleped. Wost thou not wel, I fayled never wight, but he me refused and wolde negligently go with unkyndenesse? And yet, pardè, have I many such holpe and releved, and they have ofte me begyled; but ever, at the ende,90 it discendeth in their owne nekkes. Hast thou not rad how kinde I was to Paris , Priamus sone of Troy? How Jason me falsed, for al his false behest? How Cesars †swink , I lefte it for no tene til he was troned in my blisse for his service? What!’ quod she,[ ] ‘most of al, maked I not a loveday bytwene god and mankynde,95 and chees a mayde to be nompere, to putte the quarel at ende?[ ] Lo! how I have travayled to have thank on al sydes, and yet list me not to reste , and I might fynde on †whom I shulde werche. But trewly, myn owne disciple, bycause I have thee founde, at al assayes, in thy wil to be redy myn hestes to have folowed and100hast ben trewe to that Margarite-perle that ones I thee shewed; and she alwaye, ayenward , hath mad but daungerous chere; I am come, in propre person, to putte thee out of errours, and make thee gladde by wayes of reson ; so that sorow ne disese shal 105 no more hereafter thee amaistry. Wherthrough I hope thou shalt lightly come to the grace, that thou longe hast desyred, of thilke jewel. Hast thou not herd many ensamples, how I have comforted and releved the scholers of my lore? Who hath worthyed kinges in the felde? Who hath honoured ladyes in110 boure by a perpetuel mirrour of their tr[o]uthe in my service? Who hath caused worthy folk to voyde vyce and shame? Who hath holde cytees and realmes in prosperitè? If thee liste clepe ayen thyn olde remembraunce, thou coudest every point of this declare in especial; and say that I, thy maistresse, have be cause ,115 causing these thinges and many mo other.’
120‘Wel than,’ quod she, ‘for I see thee in disese and sorowe, I wot wel thou art oon of my nories; I may not suffre thee so to make sorowe, thyn owne selfe to shende. But I my-selfe come to be thy fere, thyn hevy charge to make to seme the lesse. For wo is him that is alone; and to the sorye, to ben moned by a sorouful125 wight, it is greet gladnesse. Right so, with my sicke frendes I am[ ] sicke; and with sorie I can not els but sorowe make, til whan I have hem releved in suche wyse, that gladnesse, in a maner of counterpaysing, shal restore as mokil in joye as the passed hevinesse biforn did in tene. And also,’ quod she, ‘whan any of my130 servauntes ben alone in solitary place, I have yet ever besied me to be with hem, in comfort of their hertes, and taught hem to make songes of playnte and of blisse, and to endyten letters of rethorike in queynt understondinges, and to bethinke hem in what wyse they might best their ladies in good service plese ; and135 also to lerne maner in countenaunce, in wordes, and in bering , and to ben meke and lowly to every wight, his name and fame to encrese ; and to yeve gret yeftes and large, that his renomè may springen. But thee therof have I excused; for thy losse and thy[ ]grete costages, wherthrough thou art nedy, arn nothing to me140 unknowen; but I hope to god somtyme it shal ben amended, as thus I sayd. In norture have I taught al myne; and in curtesye made hem expert, their ladies hertes to winne; and if any wolde[ ] [b]en deynous or proude, or be envious or of wrecches acqueyntaunce, hasteliche have I suche voyded out of my scole . For al vyces trewly I hate; vertues and worthinesse in al my power145 I avaunce.’
‘Ah! worthy creature,’ quod I, ‘and by juste cause the name of goddesse dignely ye mowe bere ! In thee lyth the grace thorough whiche any creature in this worlde hath any goodnesse. Trewly, al maner of blisse and preciousnesse in vertue out of150thee springen and wellen, as brokes and rivers proceden from their springes. And lyke as al waters by kynde drawen to the see, so al kyndely thinges thresten, by ful appetyte of desyre, to drawe after thy steppes, and to thy presence aproche as to their kyndely perfeccion. How dare than beestes in this worlde aught forfete155 ayenst thy devyne purveyaunce? Also, lady, ye knowen al the privy thoughtes; in hertes no counsayl may ben hid from your knowing. Wherfore I wot wel, lady, that ye knowe your-selfe that I in my conscience am and have ben willinge to your service, al coude I never do as I shulde; yet, forsothe, fayned I never to160 love otherwyse than was in myn herte; and if I coude have made chere to one and y-thought another, as many other doon alday afore myn eyen, I trowe it wolde not me have vayled.’
[ ] ‘Ye wete wel, lady, eke,’ quod I, ‘that I have not played raket, “nettil in, docke out,” and with the wethercocke waved; and trewly, there ye me sette, by acorde of my conscience I wolde not flye, til ye and reson , by apert strength, maden myn herte to tourne.’170
‘In good fayth ,’ quod she, ‘I have knowe thee ever of tho condicions; and sithen thou woldest (in as moch as in thee was) a made me privy of thy counsayl and juge of thy conscience (though I forsook it in tho dayes til I saw better my tyme), wolde never god that I shuld now fayle; but ever I wol be redy175 witnessing thy sothe, in what place that ever I shal, ayenst al tho that wol the contrary susteyne. And for as moche as to me is naught unknowen ne hid of thy privy herte , but al hast thou tho thinges mad to me open at the ful, that hath caused my cominge180 in-to this prison, to voydethe webbes of thyne eyen, to make thee clerely to see the errours thou hast ben in. And bycause that men ben of dyvers condicions, some adradde to saye a sothe, and some for a sothe anon redy to fighte , and also that I may not myselfe ben in place to withsaye thilke men that of thee speken185 otherwyse than the sothe, I wol and I charge thee, in vertue of obedience that thou to me owest, to wryten my wordes and sette hem in wrytinges, that they mowe, as my witnessinge, ben noted among the people. For bookes written neyther dreden ne shamen, ne stryve conne; but only shewen the entente of the190 wryter, and yeve remembraunce to the herer; and if any wol in thy presence saye any-thing to tho wryters, loke boldely; truste on Mars to answere at the ful. For certes, I shal him enfourme of al the trouthe in thy love, with thy conscience; so that of his helpe thou shalt not varye at thy nede. I trowe the strongest and195 the beste that may be founde wol not transverse thy wordes; wherof than woldest thou drede?’
5‘Trewly, lady, now am I wel gladded through comfort of your wordes. Be it now lykinge unto your nobley to shewe whiche folk diffame your servauntes, sithe your service ought above al other thinges to ben commended.’
‘Yet,’ quod she, ‘I see wel thy soule is not al out of the10 amased cloude. Thee were better to here thing that thee might lighte out of thyn hevy charge and after knowing of thyn owne helpe, than to stirre swete wordes and such resons to here; for in a thoughtful soule (and namely suche oon as thou art ) wol not yet suche thinges sinken. Come of , therfore, and let me seen thy hevy charge, that I may the lightlier for thy comfort15purveye .’
‘In good fayth,’ quod I, ‘there shal no misplesaunce be caused through trespace on my syde.’
‘Myn owne erthly lady,’ quod I tho, ‘and yet remembre to your worthinesse how long sithen, by many revolving of yeres, in tyme whan Octobre his leve ginneth take and Novembre30 sheweth him to sight, whan bernes ben ful of goodes as is the nutte on every halke ; and than good lond-tillers ginne shape for the erthe with greet travayle, to bringe forth more corn to mannes sustenaunce, ayenst the nexte yeres folowing. In suche tyme of plentee he that hath an home and is wyse, list not to35 wander mervayles to seche, but he be constrayned or excited. Oft the lothe thing is doon , by excitacion of other mannes[ ] opinion, whiche wolden fayne have myn abydinge. [Tho gan I ] take in herte of luste to travayle and seethe wynding of the erthe in that tyme of winter. By woodes that large stretes wern in,40 by smale pathes that swyn and hogges hadden made, as lanes with ladels their maste to seche, I walked thinkinge alone a wonder greet whyle; and the grete beestes that the woode[ ] haunten and adorneth al maner forestes, and heerdes gonne to wilde. Than, er I was war , I neyghed to a see-banke; and for45 ferde of the beestes “shipcraft ” I cryde. For, lady, I trowe ye wete wel your-selfe, nothing is werse than the beestes that shulden ben tame, if they cacche her wildenesse, and ginne ayen waxe ramage. Thus forsothe was I a-ferd , and to shippe me hyed.50
Than were there y-nowe to lacche myn handes, and drawe me to shippe , of whiche many I knew wel the names. Sight was the first, Lust was another, Thought was the thirde; and Wil eke was there a mayster; these broughten me within-borde of this55shippe of Traveyle. So whan the sayl was sprad, and this ship gan to move, the wind and water gan for to ryse, and overthwartly to turne the welken. The wawes semeden as they kiste togider;[ ] but often under colour of kissinge is mokel old hate prively closed and kept . The storm so straungely and in a devouring60 maner gan so faste us assayle, that I supposed the date of my deth shulde have mad there his ginning. Now up, now downe, now under the wawe and now aboven was my ship a greet whyle. And so by mokel duresse of †weders and of stormes, and with greetavowing [of] pilgrimages, I was driven to an yle,65 where utterly I wende first to have be rescowed; but trewly, †at the first ginning, it semed me so perillous the haven to cacche , that but thorow grace I had ben comforted, of lyfe I was ful dispayred. Trewly, lady, if ye remembre a-right of al maner thinges, your-selfe cam hastely to sene us see-driven, and to70 weten what we weren. But first ye were deynous of chere, after whiche ye gonne better a-lighte ; and ever, as me thought, ye lived in greet drede of disese ; it semed so by your chere. And whan I was certifyed of your name, the lenger I loked in you, the more I you goodly dradde; and ever myn herte on you75[ ] opened the more; and so in a litel tyme my ship was out of mynde. But, lady, as ye me ladde , I was war bothe of beestes and of fisshes, a greet nombre thronging togider; among whiche a muskel, in a blewe shel, had enclosed a Margaryte-perle, the moste precious and best that ever to-forn cam in my sight.80 And ye tolden your-selfe, that ilke jewel in his kinde was so good and so vertuous, that her better shulde I never finde, al sought I ther-after to the worldes ende. And with that I held my pees a greet whyle; and ever sithen I have me bethought on the man that sought the precious Margarytes; and whan he had85 founden oon to his lyking, he solde al his good to bye that jewel. Y-wis, thought I, (and yet so I thinke), now have I founden the jewel that myn herte desyreth; wherto shulde I seche further? Trewly, now wol I stinte, and on this Margaryte I sette me for ever: now than also, sithen I wiste wel it was your wil that I shulde so suche a service me take; and so to desyre that thing,90 of whiche I never have blisse. There liveth non but he hath disese ; your might than that brought me to suche service, that to me is cause of sorowe and of joye. I wonder of your worde that ye sayn , “to bringen men in-to joye”; and, pardè, ye wete wel that defaut ne trespace may not resonably ben put to me-wardes,95 as fer as my conscience knoweth.
But of my disese me list now a whyle to speke, and to enforme you in what maner of blisse ye have me thronge. For truly I wene, that al gladnesse, al joye, and al mirthe is beshet under locke, and the keye throwe in suche place that it may not be100 founde. My brenning wo hath altred al my hewe. Whan I shulde slepe, I walowe and I thinke, and me disporte. Thus combred, I seme that al folk had me mased. Also, lady myne, desyre hath longe dured, some speking to have; or els at the lest have ben enmoysed with sight; and for wantinge of these thinges105 my mouth wolde, and he durst, pleyne right sore, sithen yvels for my goodnesse arn manyfolde to me yolden. I wonder, lady, trewly, save evermore your reverence, how ye mowe, for shame, suche thinges suffre on your servaunt to be so multiplied. Wherfore, kneling with a lowe herte, I pray you to rue on this110caytif , that of nothing now may serve . Good lady, if ye liste, now your help to me shewe, that am of your privyest servantes at al assayes in this tyme, and under your winges of proteccion . No help to me-wardes is shapen; how shal than straungers in any wyse after socour loke, whan I, that am so privy, yet of helpe115 I do fayle? Further may I not, but thus in this prison abyde; what bondes and chaynes me holden, lady, ye see wel your-selfe. A renyant forjuged hath not halfe the care. But thus, syghing and sobbing, I wayle here alone; and nere it for comfort of your presence, right here wolde I sterve. And yet a litel am I gladded ,120 that so goodly suche grace andnon hap have I hent , graciously to fynde the precious Margarite, that (al other left ) men shulde bye, if they shulde therfore selle al her substaunce. Wo is me, that so many let-games and purpose-brekers ben maked wayters,125 suche prisoners as I am to overloke and to hinder; and, for suche lettours, it is hard any suche jewel to winne. Is this, lady, an honour to thy deitee ? Me thinketh, by right, suche people shulde have no maistrye, ne ben overlokers over none of thy servauntes. Trewly, were it leful unto you, to al the goddes130 wolde I playne, that ye rule your devyne purveyaunce amonges your servantes nothing as ye shulde . Also, lady, my moeble is insuffysaunt to countervayle the price of this jewel, or els to make th’eschange. Eke no wight is worthy suche perles to were but kinges or princes or els their peres. This jewel, for vertue,135 wold adorne and make fayre al a realme; the nobley of vertue is so moche, that her goodnesse overal is commended. Who is it that wolde not wayle, but he might suche richesse have at his wil? The vertue therof out of this prison may me deliver, and naught els. And if I be not ther-thorow holpen, I see my-selfe140 withouten recovery. Although I might hence voyde, yet wolde I not; I wolde abyde the day that destenee hath me ordeyned, whiche I suppose is without amendement; so sore is my herte bounden, that I may thinken non other. Thus strayte, lady, hath sir Daunger laced me in stockes, I leve it be not your wil;145 and for I see you taken so litel hede, as me thinketh, and wol not maken by your might the vertue in mercy of the Margaryte on me for to strecche , so as ye mowe wel in case that you liste, my blisse and my mirthe arnfeld ; sicknesse and sorowe ben alwaye redy. The cope of tene is wounde aboute al my body,150 that stonding is me best; unneth may I ligge for pure misesy sorowe. And yet al this is litel ynough to be the ernest-silver in forwarde of this bargayne; for treble-folde so mokel muste I suffer er tyme come of myn ese . For he is worthy no welthe, that may no wo suffer . And certes, I am hevy to thinke on these thinges;155 but who shal yeve me water ynough to drinke, lest myn eyen drye, for renning stremes of teres ? Who shal waylen with me myn owne happy hevinesse ? Who shal counsaile me now in[ ] my lyking tene, and in my goodly harse ? I not. For ever the more I brenne, the more I coveyte; the more that I sorow, the160 more thrist I in gladnesse. Who shal than yeve me a contrarious drink , to stanche the thurste of my blisful bitternesse? Lo, thus I brenne and I drenche; I shiver and I swete . To this reversed yvel was never yet ordeyned salve; forsoth al †leches ben unconning, save the Margaryte alone, any suche remedye to purveye .’
AND with these wordes I brast out to wepe, that every teere of myne eyen, for greetnessesemed they boren out the bal of my sight, and that al the water had ben out-ronne. Than thought me that Love gan a litel to hevye for miscomfort of my chere; and gan soberly and in esy maner speke, wel avysinge what5 she sayd. Comenly the wyse speken esily and softe for many skilles. Oon is, their wordes are the better bileved; and also, in esy spekinge , avysement men may cacche , what to putte forth and what to holden in. And also, the auctoritè of esy wordes is the more; and eke, they yeven the more understandinge to other10 intencion of the mater. Right so this lady esely and in a softe maner gan say these wordes.
¶ ‘Mervayle,’ quod she, ‘greet it is, that by no maner of semblaunt, as fer as I can espye, thou list not to have any recour; but ever thou playnest and sorowest, and wayes of remedye, for15 folisshe wilfulnesse, thee list not to seche. But enquyre of thy next frendes, that is, thyne inwit and me that have ben thy maystresse, and the recour and fyne of thy disese ; [f]or of disese is gladnesse and joy, with a ful †vessel so helded, that it quencheth the felinge of the firste tenes. But thou that were wont not only20 these thinges remembre in thyne herte, but also fooles therof to enfourmen, in adnullinge of their errours and distroying of their derke opinions, and in comfort of their sere thoughtes; now canst thou not ben comfort of thyn owne soule, in thinking of these thinges. O where hast thou be so longe commensal , that hast so25 mikel eeten of the potages of foryetfulnesse, and dronken so of[ ] ignorance, that the olde souking[es] whiche thou haddest of me arn amaystred and lorn fro al maner of knowing? O, this is a worthy person to helpe other, that can not counsayle him-selfe!’30 And with these wordes, for pure and stronge shame, I wox al reed.
And she than, seing me so astonyed by dyvers stoundes, sodainly (which thing kynde hateth) gan deliciously me comforte with sugred wordes, putting me in ful hope that I shulde the35 Margarite getten, if I folowed her hestes; and gan with a fayre clothe to wypen the teres that hingen on my chekes; and than sayd I in this wyse.
‘Now , wel of wysdom and of al welthe, withouten thee may nothing ben lerned; thou berest the keyes of al privy thinges.40 In vayne travayle men to cacche any stedship, but-if ye, lady, first the locke unshet. Ye, lady, lerne us the wayes and the by-pathes to heven. Ye, lady, maken al the hevenly bodyes goodly and benignely to don her cours , that governen us beestes here on erthe. Ye armen your servauntes ayenst al debates with45 imperciable harneys; ye setten in her hertes insuperable blood of hardinesse; ye leden hem to the parfit good. Yet al thing[ ] desyreth ye werne no man of helpe, that †wol don your lore. Graunt me now a litel of your grace, al my sorowes to cese .’
50‘Myne owne servaunt,’ quod she, ‘trewly thou sittest nye myne herte; and thy badde chere gan sorily me greve. But amonge thy playning wordes, me thought, thou allegest thinges to be letting of thyne helpinge and thy grace to hinder; wherthrough , me thinketh, that wanhope is crope thorough thyn hert. God55 forbid that nyse unthrifty thought shulde come in thy mynde, thy wittes to trouble; sithen every thing in coming is contingent. Wherfore make no more thy proposicion by an impossible. But now , I praye thee reherse me ayen tho thinges that thy mistrust causen; and thilke thinges I thinke by reson to60 distroyen, and putte ful hope in thyn herte. What understondest thou there,’ quod she, ‘by that thou saydest, “manylet-games are thyn overlokers?” And also by “that thy moeble is insuffysaunt”? I not what thou therof menest .’
‘Trewly,’ quod I, ‘by the first I say, that janglers evermore65arn spekinge rather of yvel than of good; for every age of man rather enclyneth to wickednesse, than any goodnesse to avaunce. Also false wordes springen so wyde, by the stering of false lying tonges, that fame als swiftely flyeth to her eres and sayth many wicked tales; and as soone shal falsenesse ben leved as tr[o]uthe, for al his gret sothnesse.70
Now by that other,’ quod I, ‘me thinketh thilke jewel so precious, that to no suche wrecche as I am wolde vertue therof extende; and also I am to feble in worldly joyes, any suche jewel to countrevayle. For suche people that worldly joyes han at her wil ben sette at the highest degree, and most in reverence75 ben accepted. For false wening maketh felicitè therin to be supposed; but suche caytives as I am evermore ben hindred.’
‘Yes, forsothe,’ quod I.5
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘raddest thou never how Paris of Troye and Heleyne loved togider, and yet had they not entrecomuned of speche? Also Acrisius shette Dane his doughter in a tour , for suertee that no wight shulde of her have no maistry in my service; and yet Jupiter by signes, without any speche, had10 al his purpose ayenst her fathers wil. And many suche mo have ben knitte in trouthe, and yet spake they never togider; for that is a thing enclosed under secretnesse of privytè, why twey persons entremellen hertes after a sight. The power in knowing, of such thinges †to preven, shal nat al utterly be yeven to you15beestes ; for many thinges, in suche precious maters, ben reserved to jugement of devyne purveyaunce; for among lyving people, by mannes consideracion, moun they nat be determined. Wherfore I saye, al the envy, al the janglinge, that wel ny [al ]20 people upon my servauntes maken †ofte , is rather cause of esployte than of any hindringe.’
‘Why, than,’ quod I, ‘suffre ye such wrong; and moun, whan ye list, lightly al such yvels abate? Me semeth, to you it is a greet unworship.’
25‘O,’ quod she, ‘hold now thy pees . I have founden to many that han ben to me unkynde, that trewly I wol suffre every wight in that wyse to have disese ; and who that continueth to the ende wel and trewly, hem wol I helpen, and as for oon of myne in-to[ ] blisse [don ] to wende. As [in ] marcial doing in Grece, who30 was y-crowned? By god, nat the strongest; but he that rathest com and lengest abood and continued in the journey, and spared nat to traveyle as long as the play leste . But thilke person, that profred him now to my service, [and] therin is a while, and anon voideth and [is ] redy to another; and so now oon he thinketh35 and now another; and in-to water entreth and anon respireth: such oon list me nat in-to perfit blisse of my service bringe. A tree ofte set in dyvers places wol nat by kynde endure to bringe forth frutes. Loke now , I pray thee, how myne olde servauntes of tyme passed continued in her service, and folowe thou after40 their steppes; and than might thou not fayle, in case thou worche in this wyse.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘it is nothing lich, this world , to tyme passed; eke this countrè hath oon maner, and another countrè hath another. And so may nat a man alway putte to his eye the45salve that he heled with his hele. For this is sothe: betwixe two thinges liche, ofte dyversitè is required.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘that is sothe; dyversitè of nation, dyversitè of lawe, as was maked by many resons ; for that dyversitè cometh in by the contrarious malice of wicked people, that han envyous hertes50 ayenst other. But trewly, my lawe to my servauntes ever hath ben in general, whiche may nat fayle. For right as mannes †lawe that is ordained by many determinacions , may nat be knowe for good or badde, til assay of the people han proved it and [founded ] to what ende it draweth; and than it sheweth the necessitè therof, or els the impossibilitè: right so the lawe of my servauntes55 so wel hath ben proved in general, that hitherto hath it not fayled.
Wiste thou not wel that al the lawe of kynde is my lawe, and by god ordayned and stablisshed to dure by kynde resoun ? Wherfore al lawe by mannes witte purveyed ought to be underput to lawe of kynde, whiche yet hath be commune to every kyndely60 creature; that my statutes and my lawe that ben kyndely arn general to al peoples. Olde doinges and by many turninges of yeres used, and with the peoples maner proved, mowen nat so lightly ben defased; but newe doinges, contrariauntes suche olde, ofte causen diseses and breken many purposes. Yet saye I nat65 therfore that ayen newe mischeef men shulde nat ordaynen a newe remedye; but alwaye looke it contrary not the olde no ferther than the malice streccheth . Than foloweth it, the olde doinges in love han ben universal, as for most exployte[s] forth used; wherfore I wol not yet that of my lawes nothing be adnulled.70 But thanne to thy purpos : suche jangelers and lokers, and wayters of games, if thee thinke in aught they mowe dere, yet love wel alwaye, and sette hem at naught; and let thy port ben lowe in every wightes presence, and redy in thyne herte to maynteyne that thou hast begonne; and a litel thee fayne with75 mekenesse in wordes; and thus with sleyght shalt thou surmount[ ] and dequace the yvel in their hertes. And wysdom yet is to seme flye otherwhyle, there a man wol fighte . Thus with suche thinges the tonges of yvel shal ben stilled; els fully to graunte thy ful meninge , for-sothe ever was and ever it shal be, that myn enemyes80 ben aferde to truste to any fightinge. And therfore have thou no cowardes herte in my service, no more than somtyme thou haddest in the contrarye. For if thou drede suche jangleres, thy viage to make, understand wel, that he that dredeth any rayn , to sowe his cornes , he shal have than [bare ] bernes. Also he that85 is aferd of his clothes, let him daunce naked! Who nothing undertaketh, and namely in my service, nothing acheveth. Aftergrete stormes the †weder is often mery and smothe. After moche clatering, there is mokil rowning. Thus, after jangling wordes, cometh “huissht ! pees ! and be stille !” ’90
‘O good lady!’ quod I than, ‘see now how , seven yere passed [ ] and more, have I graffed and †grobbed a vyne; and with al the wayes that I coude I sought to a fed me of the grape; but frute have I non founde. Also I have this seven yere served Laban, to95 a wedded Rachel his doughter; but blere-eyed Lya is brought to my bedde, which alway engendreth my tene, and is ful of children in tribulacion and in care. And although the clippinges and kissinges of Rachel shulde seme to me swete, yet is she so barayne that gladnesse ne joye by no way wol springe; so that100 I may wepe with Rachel. I may not ben counsayled with solace, sithen issue of myn hertely desyre is fayled. Now than I pray that to me [come ] sone fredom and grace in this eight[eth] yere; this eighteth mowe to me bothe be kinrest and masseday, after the seven werkedays of travayle, to folowe the Christen lawe; and,105 what ever ye do els, that thilke Margaryte be holden so, lady, in your privy chambre, that she in this case to none other person be committed.’
‘Loke than,’ quod she, ‘thou persever in my service, in whiche I have thee grounded; that thilke scorn in thyn enemyes mowe110 this on thy person be not sothed : “lo! this man began to edefye, but, for his foundement is bad, to the ende may he it not bringe.” For mekenesse in countenaunce, with a manly hert in dedes and in longe continuaunce, is the conisance of my livery to al my retinue delivered. What wenest thou, that me list avaunce suche115 persons as loven the first sittinges at feestes, the highest stoles in churches and in hal, loutinges of peoples in markettes and fayres;[ ] unstedfaste to byde in one place any whyle togider; wening his owne wit more excellent than other; scorning al maner devyse but his own? Nay, nay, god wot, these shul nothing parten of120 my blisse. Truly, my maner here-toforn hath ben [to] worship[pe] with my blisse lyons in the felde and lambes in chambre; egles at assaute and maydens in halle; foxes in counsayle, stil[le] in their dedes; and their proteccioun is graunted, redy to ben a bridge ; and their baner is arered, like wolves in the felde.125 Thus, by these wayes, shul men ben avaunced; ensample of David, that from keping of shepe was drawen up in-to the order[ ] of kingly governaunce; and Jupiter, from a bole, to ben Europes fere; and Julius Cesar, from the lowest degrè in Rome, to be mayster of al erthly princes; and Eneas from hel, to be king of the countrè there Rome is now stonding. And so to thee I say;130 thy grace, by bering ther-after, may sette thee in suche plight, that no jangling may greve the leest tucke of thy hemmes; that [suche] are their †jangles , is nought to counte at a cresse in thy disavauntage.
CHAPTER VI.[ ]
EVER,’ quod she, ‘hath the people in this worlde desyred to have had greet name in worthinesse, and hated foule to bere any [en]fame ; and that is oon of the objeccions thou alegest to be ayen thyne hertely desyre.’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod I; ‘and that, so comenly, the people wol5 lye, and bringe aboute suche enfame.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘if men with lesinges putte on thee enfame, wenest thy-selfe therby ben enpeyred? That wening is wrong ; see why; for as moche as they lyen, thy meryte encreseth , and make[th] thee ben more worthy, to hem that knowen of the soth;10 by what thing thou art apeyred, that in so mokil thou art encresed[ ] of thy beloved frendes. And sothly, a wounde of thy frende [is ] to thee lasse harm , ye, sir, and better than a fals kissing in disceyvable glosing of thyne enemy; above that than, to be wel with thy frende maketh [voyd ] suche enfame. Ergo, thou art encresed15 and not apeyred.’
[ ] ‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘somtyme yet, if a man be in disese , th’estimacion of the envyous people ne loketh nothing to desertes of men, ne to the merytes of their doinges, but only to the aventure of fortune; and therafter they yeven their sentence. And some20 loken the voluntary wil in his herte, and therafter telleth his jugement; not taking hede to reson ne to the qualitè of the[ ] doing; as thus. If a man be riche and fulfild with worldly welfulnesse, some commenden it, and sayn it is so lent by juste cause; and he that hath adversitè, they sayn he is weked ; and25 hath deserved thilke anoy . The contrarye of these thinges some [ ] men holden also; and sayn that to the riche prosperitè is purvayed in-to his confusion; and upon this mater many autoritès of many and greet-witted clerkes they alegen. And some men30[ ] sayn, though al good estimacion forsake folk that han adversitè, yet is it meryte and encrees of his blisse; so that these purposes arn so wonderful in understanding, that trewly, for myn adversitè now , I not how the sentence of the indifferent people wil jugen my fame.’
35‘Therfore,’ quod she, ‘if any wight shulde yeve a trewe sentence on suche maters, the cause of the disese maist thou see wel. Understand ther-upon after what ende it draweth, that is to sayne, good or badde; so ought it to have his fame †by goodnesse or enfame by badnesse. For [of] every resonable person, and40 namely of a wyse man, his wit ought not, without reson to-forn herd , sodainly in a mater to juge. After the sawes of the wyse, “thou shalt not juge ne deme toforn thou knowe.” ’
‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘ye remembre wel, that in moste laude and praysing of certayne seyntes in holy churche, is to rehersen their45conuersion from badde in-to good; and that is so rehersed, as[ ] by a perpetual mirrour of remembraunce, in worshippinge of tho sayntes, and good ensample to other misdoers in amendement. How turned the Romayne Zedeoreys fro the Romaynes, to be with Hanibal ayenst his kynde nacion; and afterwardes,50 him seming the Romayns to be at the next degrè of confusion, turned to his olde alyes; by whose witte after was Hanibal discomfited. Wherfore, to enfourme you, lady, the maner-why[ ]I mene, see now . In my youth I was drawe to ben assentaunt and (in my mightes) helping to certain conjuracions and other55grete maters of ruling of citizins; and thilke thinges ben my drawers in; and ex[c]itours to tho maters wern so paynted and coloured that (at the prime face) me semed them noble and glorious to al the people. I than, wening mikel meryte have deserved in furthering and mayntenaunce of tho thinges, besyed60 and laboured, with al my diligence, in werkinge of thilke maters to the ende. And trewly, lady, to telle you the sothe, me rought litel of any hate of the mighty senatours in thilke citè, ne of comunes malice; for two skilles. Oon was, I had comfort to ben in suche plyte, that bothe profit were to me and to my frendes. Another was, for commen profit in cominaltee is not but pees and65 tranquilitè, with just governaunce, proceden from thilke profit ; sithen, by counsayle of myne inwitte, me thought the firste painted thinges malice and yvel meninge , withouten any good avayling to any people, and of tyrannye purposed. And so, for pure sorowe, and of my medlinge and badde infame that I was in ronne, tho70 [the ] teres [that ] lasshed out of myne eyen were thus awaye wasshe, than the under-hidde malice and the rancour of purposing envye, forncast and imagined in distruccion of mokil people, shewed so openly, that, had I ben blind , with myne hondes al the circumstaunce I might wel have feled.75
Now than tho persones that suche thinges have cast to redresse,[ ] for wrathe of my first medlinge, shopen me to dwelle in this pynande prison, til Lachases my threed no lenger wolde twyne. And ever I was sought, if me liste to have grace of my lyfe and frenesse of that prison, I shulde openly confesse how pees might80 ben enduced to enden al the firste rancours. It was fully supposed my knowing to be ful in tho maters. Than, lady, I thought that every man that, by any waye of right, rightfully don , mayhelpe any comune †wele to ben saved; whiche thing to kepe above al thinges I am holde to mayntayne, and namely in85distroying of a wrong; al shulde I therthrough enpeche myn owne fere, if he were gilty and to do misdeed assentaunt. And mayster ne frend may nought avayle to the soule of him that in falsnesse deyeth; and also that I nere desyred wrathe of the people ne indignacion of the worthy, for nothinge that ever I90 wrought or did, in any doing my-selfe els, but in the mayntenaunce of these foresayd errours and in hydinge of the privitees therof. And that al the peoples hertes, holdinge on the errours syde, weren blinde and of elde so ferforth begyled, that debat and stryf they maynteyned, and in distruccion on that other syde;95 by whiche cause the pees , that moste in comunaltee shulde be desyred, was in poynte to be broken and adnulled. Also the citee of London, that is to me so dere and swete, in whiche I was forth growen; (and more kyndely love have I to that place than to any100 other in erthe, as every kyndely creature hath ful appetyte to that place of his kyndly engendrure, and to wilne reste and pees in that stede to abyde); thilke pees shulde thus there have ben broken, and of al wyse it is commended and desyred. For knowe thing it is, al men that desyren to comen to the perfit pees everlasting105 must the pees by god commended bothe mayntayne and kepe. This pees by angels voyce was confirmed, our god entringe[ ] in this worlde. This, as for his Testament, he lefte to al his frendes, whanne he retourned to the place from whence he cam ; this his apostel amonesteth to holden, without whiche man perfitly110 may have non insight. Also this god, by his coming, made not pees alone betwene hevenly and erthly bodyes, but also amonge us on erthe so he pees confirmed, that in one heed of love oon body we shulde perfourme. Also I remembre me wel how the name of Athenes was rather after the god of pees than of batayle,115 shewinge that pees moste is necessarie to comunaltees and citees . I than, so styred by al these wayes toforn nempned, declared certayne poyntes in this wyse. Firste, that thilke persones that hadden me drawen to their purposes, and me not weting the privy entent of their meninge , drawen also the feeble witted120 people, that have non insight of gubernatif prudence, to clamure and to crye on maters that they styred; and under poyntes for comune avauntage they enbolded the passif to take in the actives doinge; and also styred innocentes of conning to crye after thinges, whiche (quod they) may not stande but we ben125 executours of tho maters, and auctoritè of execucion by comen eleccion to us be delivered. And that muste entre by strength of your mayntenaunce. For we out of suche degree put, oppression of these olde hindrers shal agayn surmounten, and putten you in such subjeccion , that in endelesse wo ye shul complayne.
130The governementes (quod they) of your citè, lefte in the handes of torcencious citezins, shal bringe in pestilence and distruccion to you, good men; and therfore let us have the comune administracion to abate suche yvels. Also (quod they) it is worthy the good to commende, and the gilty desertes to chastice. There135 ben citezens many, for-ferde of execucion that shal be doon ; for extorcions by hem committed ben evermore ayenst these purposes and al other good mevinges. Never-the-latter, lady, trewly the meninge under these wordes was, fully to have apeched the mighty senatoures , whiche hadden hevy herte for the misgovernaunce that they seen. And so, lady, whan it fel that free140eleccion [was mad], by greet clamour of moche people, [that ] for greet disese of misgovernaunce so fervently stoden in her eleccion that they hem submitted to every maner †fate rather than have suffred the maner and the rule of the hated governours; notwithstandinge that in the contrary helden moche comune meyny,145 that have no consideracion but only to voluntary lustes withouten reson . But than thilke governour so forsaken, fayninge to-forn his undoinge for misrule in his tyme, shoop to have letted thilke eleccion , and have made a newe, him-selfe to have ben chosen; and under that, mokil rore [to] have arered. These thinges, lady,150 knowen among the princes, and made open to the people, draweth in amendement, that every degree shal ben ordayned to stande there-as he shulde; and that of errours coming herafter men may lightly to-forn-hand purvaye remedye; in this wyse pees and rest to be furthered and holde. Of the whiche thinges, lady,155 thilke persones broughten in answere to-forn their moste soverayne juge, not coarted by payninge dures , openly knowlegeden, and asked therof grace; so that apertly it preveth my wordes ben sothe, without forginge of lesinges .
But now it greveth me to remembre these dyvers sentences, in160 janglinge of these shepy people; certes, me thinketh, they oughten to maken joye that a sothe may be knowe. For my trouthe and my conscience ben witnesse to me bothe, that this (knowinge sothe) have I sayd , for no harme ne malice of tho persones, but only for trouthe of my sacrament in my ligeaunce , by whiche165 I was charged on my kinges behalfe. But see ye not now , lady, how the felonous thoughtes of this people and covins of wicked men conspyren ayen my sothfast trouth! See ye not every wight that to these erroneous opinions were assentaunt, and helpes to the noyse, and knewen al these thinges better than I my-selven,170 apparaylen to fynden newe frendes, and clepen me fals , and studyen how they mowen in her mouthes werse plyte nempne? O god, what may this be, that thilke folk whiche that in tyme of my mayntenaunce, and whan my might avayled to strecche to175 the forsayd maters, tho me commended, and yave me name of trouth, in so manyfolde maners that it was nyghe in every wightes eere, there-as any of thilke people weren; and on the other syde, thilke company somtyme passed , yevinge me name of badde loos: now bothe tho peoples turned the good in-to180 badde, and badde in-to good? Whiche thing is wonder, that they knowing me saying but sothe, arn now tempted to reply her olde praysinges; and knowen me wel in al doinges to ben trewe, and sayn openly that I false have sayd many thinges! And they aleged nothing me to ben false or untrewe, save thilke mater185 knowleged by the parties hem-selfe; and god wot , other mater is non . Ye also, lady, knowe these thinges for trewe; I avaunte not in praysing of my-selfe; therby shulde I lese the precious secrè of my conscience. But ye see wel that false opinion of the[ ] people for my trouthe, in telling out of false conspyred maters;190 and after the jugement of these clerkes, I shulde not hyde the sothe of no maner person, mayster ne other. Wherfore I wolde not drede, were it put in the consideracion of trewe and of wyse. And for comers hereafter shullen fully, out of denwere , al the sothe knowe of these thinges in acte, but as they wern , I have195 put it in scripture, in perpetuel remembraunce of true meninge . For trewly, lady, me semeth that I ought to bere the name of trouthe, that for the love of rightwysnesse have thus me †submitted . But now than the false fame, which that (clerkessayn ) flyeth as faste as doth the fame of trouthe, shal so wyde sprede200[ ] til it be brought to the jewel that I of mene ; and so shal I ben hindred, withouten any mesure of trouthe.’
CHAPTER VII.[ ]
THAN gan Love sadly me beholde, and sayd in a changed voyce, lower than she had spoken in any tyme: ‘Fayn wolde I,’ quod she, ‘that thou were holpen; but hast thou sayd any-thing whiche thou might not proven?’
‘Pardè,’ quod I, ‘the persones, every thing as I have sayd, han5 knowleged hem-selfe.’
‘Sothely,’ quod I, ‘it is wel wist , bothe amonges the greetest and other of the realme, that I profered my body so largely in-to10 provinge of tho thinges, that Mars shulde have juged the ende; but, for sothnesse of my wordes, they durste not to thilke juge truste.’
‘Now , certes,’ quod she, ‘above al fames in this worlde, the name of marcial doinges most plesen to ladyes of my lore; but15 sithen thou were redy, and thyne adversaryes in thy presence refused thilke doing; thy fame ought to be so born as if in dede it had take to the ende. And therfore every wight that any droppe of reson hath, and hereth of thee infame for these thinges, hath this answere to saye: “trewly thou saydest; for thyne20 adversaryes thy wordes affirmed.” And if thou haddest lyed, yet are they discomfited, the prise leved on thy syde; so that fame shal holde down infame; he shal bringe [it in] upon none halfe. What greveth thee thyne enemye[s] to sayn their owne shame, as thus: “we arn discomfited, and yet our quarel is25 trewe?” Shal not the loos of thy frendes ayenward dequace thilke enfame, and saye they graunted a sothe without a stroke or fighting? Many men in batayle ben discomfited and overcome in a rightful quarel, that is goddes privy jugement in heven; but yet, although the party be yolden, he may with wordes saye his30 quarel is trewe, and to yelde him, in the contrarye, for drede of dethe he is compelled; and he that graunteth and no stroke hath feled, he may not crepe away in this wyse by none excusacion. Indifferentfolk wil say: “ye, who is trewe, who is fals , him-selfe35 knowlegeth tho thinges.” Thus in every syde fame sheweth to thee good and no badde.’
‘But yet,’ quod I, ‘some wil say, I ne shulde, for no dethe, have discovered my maistresse ; and so by unkyndnesse they wol knette infame, to pursue me aboute. Thus enemyes of wil,40 in manyfolde maner, wol seche privy serpentynes queintyses, to quenche and distroye, by venim of many besinesses, the light of tr[o]uthe; to make hertes to murmure ayenst my persone, to have me in hayne withouten any cause.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘here me a fewe wordes, and thou shalt fully45 ben answered , I trowe. Me thinketh (quod she) right now , by thy wordes, that sacrament of swering , that is to say, charging by othe, was oon of the causes to make thee discover the malicious imaginacions tofore nempned. Every ooth , by knittinge of copulacion , muste have these lawes, that is, trewe jugement and right-wysenesse;50 in whiche thinge if any of these lacke, the ooth is y-tourned in-to the name of perjury. Than to make a trewe serment, most nedes these thinges folowe . For ofte tymes, a man to saye sothe, but jugement and justice folowe, he is forsworn; ensample of Herodes, for holdinge of his serment was [he ]55 dampned.
[ ] Also, to saye tr[o]uthe rightfulliche (but in jugement) otherwhile is forboden, by that al sothes be nat to sayne. Therfore in jugement, in tr[o]uthe, and rightwisenesse, is every creature bounden, up payne of perjury, ful knowing to make, tho[ugh] it60 were of his owne persone, for drede of sinne; after that worde , “better is it to dey than live false .” And, al wolde perverted people fals report make in unkyndnesse, in that entent thy [en]fame to reyse, whan light of tr[o]uthe in these maters is forth sprongen and openly publisshed among commens, than shal nat suche65 derke enfame dare appere, for pure shame of his falsnesse. As some men ther ben that their owne enfame can none otherwyse voide or els excuse, but †by hindringe of other mennes fame; which that by non other cause clepen other men false, but for [that ] with their owne falsnesse mowen they nat ben avaunsed; or els70 by false sklaund[r]inge wordes other men shenden , their owne trewe sklaunder to make seme the lasse. For if such men wolden their eyen of their conscience revolven, [they ] shulden seen the[ ] same sentence they legen on other springe out of their sydes, with so many braunches, it were impossible to nombre. To whiche[ ] therefore mayit be sayd in that thinge, “this man thou demest ,75 therein thy-selfe thou condempnest.”
But (quod she) understand nat by these wordes, that thou wene me saye thee to be worthy sclaunder, for any mater tofore written; truely I wolde witnesse the contrary; but I saye that the bemes of sclaundring wordes may not be don awaye til the80 daye of dome. For how shulde it nat yet, amonges so greetplentee of people, ben many shrewes, sithen whan no mo but eight persons in Noes shippe were closed, yet oon was a shrewe and skorned his father? These thinges (quod she) I trowe, shewen that fals fame is nat to drede, ne of wyse persons to accepte, and85 namely nat of thy Margarite, whose wysdom here-after I thinke to declare; wherfore I wot wel suche thing shal nat her asterte; than of unkyndnesse thynooth hath thee excused at the fulle. But now , if thou woldest nat greve, me list a fewe thinges to shewe.’90
‘Trewly,’ quod she, ‘that is sothe, so thou con wel kepe these wordes, and in the in[ne]rest secrè chambre of thyne herte so faste hem close that they never flitte; than shalt thou fynde hem95 avayling. Loke now what people hast thou served; whiche of hem al in tyme of thyne exile ever thee refresshed, by the valewe of the leste coyned plate that walketh in money? Who was sory , or made any rewth for thy disese ? If they hadden getten their purpose, of thy misaventure sette they nat an hawe. Lo, whan100 thou were emprisonned , how faste they hyed in helpe of thy deliveraunce! I wene of thy dethe they yeve but lyte. They loked after no-thing but after their owne lustes. And if thou liste[ ] say the sothe, al that meyny that in this †brige thee broughten, lokeden rather after thyne helpesthan thee to have releved.105
Owen nat yet some of hem money for his commens? Paydest nat thou for some of her dispences, til they were tourned out of Selande ? Who yave thee ever ought for any rydinge thou madest? Yet, pardè , some of hem token money for thy chambre , and110 putte tho pens in his purse, unwetinge of the renter.
Lo for which a company thou medlest, that neither thee ne them-selfe mighten helpe of unkyndnesse ; now they bere the name that thou supposest of hem for to have. What might thou more have don than thou diddest, but-if thou woldest in a fals115 quarel have been a stinkinge martyr? I wene thou fleddest , as longe as thou might, their privitè to counsayle; which thing thou hele[de]st lenger than thou shuldest. And thilke that ought thee money no penny wolde paye; they wende thy returne hadde ben an impossible. How might thou better have hem proved, but thus120[ ] in thy nedy diseses ? Now hast thou ensaumple for whom thou shalt meddle; trewly, this lore is worth many goodes.’
CHAPTER VIII.[ ]
†EFT gan Love to †steren me [with ] these wordes: ‘thinke on my speche; for trewly here-after it wol do thee lykinge; and how-so-ever thou see Fortune shape her wheele to tourne,[ ] this meditacion [shal] by no waye revolve. For certes, Fortune5 sheweth her fayrest, whan she thinketh to begyle. And as me thought, here-toforn thou saydest, thy loos in love, for thy right-wysenesse ought to be raysed, shulde be a-lowed in tyme cominge. Thou might in love so thee have, that loos and fame shul so ben raysed, that to thy frendes comfort , and sorowe to thyne enemys,10 endlesse shul endure.
But if thou were the oon sheep , amonges the hundred, were lost in deserte and out of the way hadde erred, and now to the flocke art restoored, the shepherd hath in thee no joye and thou ayen to the forrest tourne. But that right as the sorowe and anguisshe15 was greet in tyme of thyne out-waye goinge, right so joye and gladnesse shal be doubled to sene thee converted; and nat as Lothes wyf ayen-lokinge, but [in] hool counsayle with the shepe folowinge, and with them grasse and herbes gadre. Never-the-later (quod she) I saye nat these thinges for no wantrust that I have in supposinge of thee otherwyse than I shulde. For20 trewly, I wot wel that now thou art set in suche a purpose, out of whiche thee liste nat to parte. But I saye it for many men there been , that to knowinge of other mennes doinges setten al their cure, and lightly desyren the badde to clatter rather than the good, and have no wil their owne maner to amende. They also25 hate of olde rancours lightly haven; and there that suche thing abydeth, sodaynly in their mouthes procedeth the habundaunce of the herte, and wordes as stones out-throwe. Wherfore my counsayl is ever-more openly and apertly , in what place thou sitte, counterplete th’errours and meninges in as fer as thou hem30wistest false, and leve for no wight to make hem be knowe in every bodyes ere ; and be alway pacient anduse Jacobes wordes , what-so-ever men of thee clappen: “I shal sustayne my ladyes wrathe which I have deserved, so longe as my Margarite hath rightwysed my cause.” And certes (quod she) I witnesse my-selfe,35 if thou, thus converted, sorowest in good meninge in thyne herte, [and] wolt from al vanitè parfitly departe, in consolacioun of al good plesaunce of that Margaryte, whiche that thou desyrest after wil of thyn herte , in a maner of a †moders pitè, [she ] shul fully accepte thee in-to grace. For right as thou rentest clothes in40 open sighte, so openly to sowe hem at his worshippe withouten reprofe [is ] commended. Also, right as thou were ensample of moche-folde errour, right so thou must be ensample of manyfolde[ ]correccioun ; so good savour to forgoing †of errour causeth diligent love, with many playted praisinges to folowe; and than shal al45 the firste errours make the folowinge worshippes to seme hugely encresed . Blacke and white, set togider, every for other more semeth; and so doth every thinges contrary in kynde. But infame, that goth alwaye tofore, and praysinge worship by any cause folowinge after, maketh to ryse the ilke honour in double50 of welth; and that quencheth the spotte of the first enfame. Why wenest , I saye, these thinges in hindringe of thy name? Nay, nay, god wot , but for pure encresing worship, thy rightwysenesse to commende, and thy trouthe to seme the more. Wost nat wel55[ ] thy-selfe, that thou in fourme of making †passest nat Adam that eet of the apple? Thou †passest nat the stedfastnesse of Noe, that eetinge of the grape becom dronke. Thou passest nat the chastitè of Lothe, that lay by his doughter; eke the nobley of Abraham, whom god reproved by his pryde; also Davides60 mekenesse, whiche for a woman made Urye be slawe. What?[ ] also Hector of Troye, in whom no defaute might be founde, yet is he reproved that he ne hadde with manhode nat suffred the warre begonne , ne Paris to have went in-to Grece, by whom gan al the sorowe. For trewly, him lacketh no venim of privè65[ ] consenting, whiche that openly leveth a wrong to withsaye .
[ ] Lo eke an olde proverbe amonges many other: “He that is stille semeth as he graunted.”
Now by these ensamples thou might fully understonde, that these thinges ben writte to your lerning, and in rightwysenesse of70 tho persones, as thus: To every wight his defaute committed made goodnesse afterwardes don be the more in reverence and in open shewing; for ensample, is it nat songe in holy churche,[ ] “Lo, how necessary was Adams synne!” David the king gat Salomon the king of her that was Uryes wyf . Truly, for reprofe75 is non of these thinges writte. Right so, tho I reherce thy before-dede, I repreve thee never the more; ne for no villany of thee are they rehersed, but for worshippe, so thou continewe wel here-after: and for profit of thy-selfe I rede thou on hem thinke.’
Than sayde I right thus: ‘Lady of unitè and accorde, envy80 and wrathe lurken there thou comest in place; ye weten wel your-selve, and so don many other, that whyle I administred the office of commen doinge, as in rulinge of the stablisshmentes amonges the people, I defouled never my conscience for no maner dede; but ever, by witte and by counsayle of the wysest,85 the maters weren drawen to their right endes. And thus trewly for you, lady, I have desyred suche cure; and certes, in your service was I nat ydel, as fer as suche doinge of my cure streccheth .’
‘That is a thing,’ quod she, ‘that may drawe many hertes of noble, and voice of commune in-to glory; and fame is nat but90wrecched and fickle. Alas! that mankynde coveyteth in so leude a wyse to be rewarded of any good dede, sithe glorie of fame, in this worlde, is nat but hindringe of glorie in tyme comminge! And certes (quod she) yet at the hardest suche fame, in-to heven, is nat the erthe but a centre to the cercle of heven? A pricke is95 wonder litel in respect of al the cercle; and yet, in al this pricke, may no name be born , in maner of peersing, for many obstacles, as waters, and wildernesse, and straunge langages. And nat only names of men ben stilled and holden out of knowleginge by these obstacles, but also citees and realmes of prosperitè ben letted to100 be knowe, and their reson hindred; so that they mowe nat ben parfitly in mennes propre understandinge. How shulde than the name of a singuler Londenoys passe the glorious name of London , whiche by many it is commended, and by many it is lacked, and in many mo places in erthe nat knowen than knowen? For in105 many countrees litel is London in knowing or in spech; and yet among oon maner of people may nat such fame in goodnes come; for as many as praysen, commenly as many lacken. Fy than on such maner fame! Slepe, and suffre him that knoweth previtè of hertes to dele suche fame in thilke place there nothing110 ayenst a sothe shal neither speke ne dare apere, by attourney[ ] ne by other maner. How many greet-named , and many greet in worthinesse losed, han be tofore this tyme, that now out of memorie are slidden, and clenely forgeten, for defaute of wrytinges! And yet scriptures for greet elde so ben defased, that115[ ] no perpetualtè may in hem ben juged. But if thou wolt make comparisoun to ever, what joye mayst thou have in erthly name? It is a fayr lykenesse, a pees or oon grayn of whete , to a thousand shippes ful of corne charged! What nombre is betwene the oon and th’other ? And yet mowe bothe they be nombred, and120 ende in rekening have. But trewly, al that may be nombred is nothing to recken, as to thilke that may nat be nombred. For †of the thinges ended is mad comparison; as, oon litel, another greet ; but in thinges to have an ende, and another no ende, suche comparisoun may nat be founden. Wherfore in heven to125 ben losed with god hath non ende, but endlesse endureth; and[ ] thou canst nothing don aright, but thou desyre the rumour therof be heled and in every wightes ere ; and that dureth but a pricke in respecte of the other. And so thou sekest reward of folkes130 smale wordes, and of vayne praysinges. Trewly, therin thou lesest the guerdon of vertue; and lesest the grettest valour of conscience , and uphap thy renomè everlasting. Therfore boldely renomè of fame of the erthe shulde be hated, and fame after deth[ ] shulde be desyred of werkes of vertue. [Trewly, vertue ] asketh135[ ] guerdoning, and the soule causeth al vertue. Than the soule, delivered out of prison of erthe, is most worthy suche guerdon among to have in the everlastinge fame; and nat the body, that causeth al mannes yvels.
CHAPTER IX.[ ]
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘there is no body in this worlde, that aught5 coude saye by reson ayenst any of your skilles, as I leve; and by my witte now fele I wel, that yvel-spekers or berers of enfame may litel greve or lette my purpos , but rather by suche thinge my quarel to be forthered.’
‘That is soth,’ quod I.
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘than †leveth there, to declare that thy insuffisance is no maner letting, as thus: for that she is so worthy,15 thou shuldest not clymbe so highe; for thy moebles and thyn estate arn voyded, thou thinkest [thee ] fallen in suche miserie, that gladnesse of thy pursute wol nat on thee discende.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘that is sothe; right suche thought is in myn herte; for commenly it is spoken, and for an olde-proverbe it is [ ] leged: “He that heweth to hye, with chippes he may lese20 his sight.” Wherfore I have ben about, in al that ever I might, to studye wayes of remedye by one syde or by another.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘god forbede †that thou seke any other doinges but suche as I have lerned thee in our restinge-whyles, and suche herbes as ben planted in oure gardins. Thou shalt25 wel understande that above man is but oon god alone.’
‘How ,’ quod I, ‘han men to-forn this tyme trusted in writtes and chauntements, and in helpes of spirites that dwellen in the ayre, and therby they han getten their desyres, where-as first, for al his manly power, he daunced behynde?’30
‘O,’ quod she, ‘fy on suche maters! For trewly, that is sacrilege; and that shal have no sort with any of my servauntes; in myne eyen shal suche thing nat be loked after. How often is[ ] it commaunded by these passed wyse, that “to one god shal men serve, and not to goddes?” And who that liste to have myne35 helpes, shal aske none helpe of foule spirites. Alas! is nat man maked semblable to god? Wost thou nat wel, that al vertue of lyvelich werkinge, by goddes purveyaunce, is underput to resonable creature in erthe? Is nat every thing , a this halfe god , madbuxom to mannes contemplation, understandinge in heven and40 in erthe and in helle? Hath not man beinge with stones, soule of wexing with trees and herbes? Hath he nat soule of felinge, with beestes, fisshes, and foules? And he hath soule of reson and understanding with aungels; so that in him is knit al maner of lyvinges by a resonable proporcioun. Also man is mad of45 al the foure elementes . Al universitee is rekened in him alone; he hath, under god, principalitè above al thinges. Now is his soule here, now a thousand myle hence; now fer, now nygh; now hye, now lowe; as fer in a moment as in mountenaunce of ten winter; and al this is in mannes governaunce and disposicion .50 Than sheweth it that men ben liche unto goddes, and children of moost heyght. But now , sithen al thinges [arn] underput to the wil of resonable creatures, god forbede any man to winne that lordship , and aske helpe of any-thing lower than him-selfe; and than, namely, of foule thinges innominable. Now than, why shuldest55 thou wene to love to highe, sithen nothing is thee above but god alone? Trewly, I wot wel that thilke jewel is in a maner even in lyne of degree there thou art thy-selfe, and nought above, save thus: aungel upon angel, man upon man , and devil upon devil60 han a maner of soveraigntee ; and that shal cese at the daye of dome. And so I say: though thou be put to serve the ilke jewel duringe thy lyfe, yet is that no servage of underputtinge, but a maner of travayling plesaunce, to conquere and gette that thou hast not. I sette now the hardest: in my service65now thou deydest, for sorowe of wantinge in thy desyres; trewly, al hevenly bodyes with one voyce shul come and make melody in thy cominge, and saye—“Welcome, our fere, and worthy to entre into Jupiters joye! For thou with might hast overcome deth ; thou woldest never flitte out of thy service; and we al shul70now praye to the goddes, rowe by rowe, to make thilk Margarite, that no routh had in this persone , but unkyndely without comfortlet thee deye, shal besette her-selfe in suche wyse, that in erthe, for parte of vengeaunce, shal she no joye have in loves service; and whan she is deed, than shal her soule ben brought up in-to75 thy presence; and whider thou wilt chese, thilke soule shal ben committed.” Or els, after thy deth, anon al the foresayd hevenly bodyes, by one accorde, shal †benimen from thilke perle al the vertues that firste her were taken; for she hath hem forfeyted by that on thee , my servaunt, in thy lyve, she wolde not suffre80 to worche al vertues, withdrawen by might of the hygh bodyes. Why than shuldest thou wene so any more? And if thee liste to loke upon the lawe of kynde, and with order whiche to me was ordayned, sothely, non age, non overtourninge tyme but †hiderto had no tyme ne power to chaunge the wedding, ne85 the knotte to unbynde of two hertes [that] thorow oonassent , in my presence, †togider accorden to enduren til deth hem departe. What? trowest thou, every ideot wot the meninge and the privy entent of these thinges? They wene, forsothe, that suche accord may not be, but the rose of maydenhede be plucked. Do way ,90 do way; they knowe nothing of this. For consent of two hertes alone maketh the fasteninge of the knotte; neither lawe of kynde ne mannes lawe determineth neither the age ne the qualitè of persones, but onlyaccord bitwene thilke twaye. And trewly, after tyme that suche accord , by their consent in hert, is enseled , and put in my tresorye amonges my privy thinges, than ginneth95[ ] the name of spousayle; and although they breken forward bothe, yet suche mater enseled is kept in remembrance for ever. And see now that spouses have the name anon after accord , though[ ] the rose be not take. The aungel bad Joseph take Marye his spouse, and to Egypte wende. Lo! she was cleped “spouse,”100 and yet, toforn ne after, neither of hem bothe mente no flesshly lust knowe. Wherfore the wordes of trouthe acorden that my servauntes shulden forsake bothe †fader and moder , and be adherand to his spouse; and they two in unitè of one flesshe shulden accorde. And this wyse, two that wern firste in a litel105 maner discordaunt, hygher that oon and lower that other, ben mad evenliche in gree to stonde. But now to enfourme thee that ye ben liche to goddes, these clerkes sayn , and in determinacion shewen, that “three thinges haven [by ] the names of goddes ben cleped ; that is to sayn: man, divel, and images”;110 but yet is there but oon god, of whom al goodnesse, al grace, and al vertue cometh; and he †is loving and trewe, and everlasting, and pryme cause of al being thinges . But men ben goddes lovinge and trewe, but not everlasting; and that is by adopcioun of the everlastinge god. Divels ben goddes, stirringe by115 a maner of lyving ; but neither ben they trewe ne everlastinge; and their name of godliheed th[e]y han by usurpacion, as the prophetesayth : “Al goddes of gentyles (that is to say, paynims) are divels.” But images ben goddes by nuncupacion; and they ben neither livinge ne trewe, ne everlastinge. After these wordes120 they clepen “goddes” images wrought with mennes handes. But now [art thou a] resonable creature, that by adopcion alone art to the grete god everlastinge, and therby thou art “god” cleped: let thy †faders maners so entre thy wittes that thou might folowe, in-as-moche as longeth to thee, thy †fadersworship , so125 that in nothinge thy kynde from his wil declyne, ne from his nobley perverte. In this wyse if thou werche, thou art above al other thinges save god alone; and so say no more “thyn herte129[ ] to serve in to hye a place.”
CHAPTER X.[ ]
FULLY have I now declared thyn estate to be good, so thou folow therafter, and that the †objeccion first †by thee aleged, in worthinesse of thy Margaryte, shal not thee lette, as it shal forther thee , and encrese thee . It is now to declare, the5 last objeccion in nothing may greve.’
‘Yes, certes,’ quod I, ‘bothe greve and lette muste it nedes; the contrarye may not ben proved; and see now why. Whyle I was glorious in worldly welfulnesse, and had suche goodes in welth as maken men riche, tho was I drawe in-to companyes10 that loos, prise, and name yeven. Tho louteden blasours; tho curreyden glosours; tho welcomeden flatterers; tho worshipped[ ] thilke that now deynen nat to loke. Every wight, in such erthly wele habundant, is holde noble, precious, benigne, and wyse to do what he shal, in any degree that men him sette ; al-be-it that15 the sothe be in the contrarye of al tho thinges. But he that can never so wel him behave, and hath vertue habundaunt in manyfolde maners, and be nat welthed with suche erthly goodes, is holde for a foole, and sayd , his wit is but sotted. Lo! how fals for[ ]aver is holde trewe! Lo! how trewe is clepedfals for wanting20 of goodes! Also, lady, dignitees of office maken men mikel comended, as thus: “he is so good, were he out , his pere shulde men not fynde.” Trewly, I trowe of some suche that are so praysed, were they out ones, another shulde make him so be knowe, he shulde of no wyse no more ben loked after: but only25 fooles, wel I wot , desyren suche newe thinges. Wherfore I wonder[ ] that thilke governour, out of whom alone the causes proceden that governen al thinges, whiche that hath ordeyned this world in workes of the kyndely bodyes so be governed, not with unstedfast or happyous thing, but with rules of reson , whiche shewen the course of certayne thinges: why suffreth he suche30 slydinge chaunges, that misturnen suche noble thinges as ben we men, that arn a fayr parcel of the erthe, and holden the upperest degree, under god, of benigne thinges, as ye sayden right now your-selfe; shulde never man have ben set in so worthy a place but-if his degrè were ordayned noble. Alas! thou that knittest35 the purveyaunce of al thinges, why lokest thou not to amenden[ ] these defautes? I see shrewes that han wicked maners sitten in chayres of domes, lambes to punisshen, there wolves shulden ben punisshed. Lo! vertue, shynende naturelly, for povertee lurketh, and is hid under cloude; but the moone false, forsworn (as40 I knowe my-selfe) for aver and yeftes, hath usurped to shyne by day-light, with peynture of other mens praysinges; and trewly, thilke forged light fouly shulde fade, were the trouth away of colours feyned. Thus is night turned in-to day , and day in-to night; winter in-to sommer, and sommer in-to winter; not in45 dede, but in misclepinge of foliche people.’
‘Now,’ quod she, ‘what wenest thou of these thinges? How felest thou in thyn hert, by what governaunce that this cometh aboute?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘that wot I never; but-if it be that Fortune50 hath graunt from above, to lede the ende of man as her lyketh.’
‘Ah! now I see ,’ quod she, ‘th’entent of thy mening ! Lo, bycause thy worldly goodes ben fulliche dispent, thou beraft out of dignitè of office, in whiche thou madest the †gaderinge of thilke goodes, and yet diddest in that office by counsaile of wyse [before55 that ] any thing were ended; and true were unto hem whos profit thou shuldest loke; and seest now many that in thilke hervest made of thee mokel, and now , for glosing of other, deyneth thee nought to forther, but enhaunsen false shrewes by witnessinge of trouthe! These thinges greveth thyn herte, to sene thy-selfe thus60 abated; and than, frayltè of mankynde ne setteth but litel by the lesers of suche richesse, have he never so moche vertue; and so thou wenest of thy jewel to renne in dispyt , and not ben accepted[ ] in-to grace. Al this shal thee nothing hinder. Now (quod she) first thou wost wel, thou lostest nothing that ever mightest thou65 chalenge for thyn owne. Whan nature brought thee forth , come thou not naked out of thy †moders wombe? Thou haddest no richesse; and whan thou shalt entre in-to the ende of every flesshly body, what shalt thou have with thee than? So, every70 richesse thou hast in tyme of thy livinge, nis but lent ; thou[ ] might therin chalenge no propertee . And see now ; every thing that is a mannes own , he may do therwith what him lyketh, to yeve or to kepe; but richesse thou playnest from thee lost; if thy might had strecched so ferforth, fayn thou woldest have hem kept,75 multiplyed with mo other; and so, ayenst thy wil, ben they departed[ ] from thee ; wherfore they were never thyn. And if thou laudest and joyest any wight, for he is stuffed with suche maner richesse, thou art in that beleve begyled; for thou wenest thilke joye to be selinesse or els ese ; and he that hath lost suche happes to ben80 unsely.’
‘Ye, forsoth,’ quod I.
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘than wol I prove that unsely in that wise is to preise; and so the tother is, the contrary, to be lacked.’
‘How so?’ quod I.
85[ ] ‘For Unsely,’ quod she, ‘begyleth nat, but sheweth th’entent of her working. Et e contra: Selinesse begyleth. For in prosperitè she maketh a jape in blyndnesse; that is, she wyndeth him to make sorowe whan she withdraweth. Wolt thou nat (quod she) preise him better that sheweth to thee his herte, tho[ugh] it be90 with bytande wordes and dispitous, than him that gloseth and thinketh in †his absence to do thee many harmes?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘the oon is to commende; and the other to lacke and dispice.’
‘A! ha!’ quod she, ‘right so Ese , while †she lasteth, gloseth95 and flatereth; and lightly voydeth whan she most plesauntly sheweth; and ever, in hir absence, she is aboute to do thee tene and sorowe in herte. But Unsely, al-be-it with bytande chere, sheweth what she is, and so doth not that other; wherfore Unsely doth not begyle. Selinesse disceyveth; Unsely put away100 doute. That oon maketh men blynde; that other openeth their eyen in shewinge of wrecchidnesse . The oon is ful of drede to lese that is not his owne; that other is sobre, and maketh men discharged of mokel hevinesse in burthen. The oon draweth a man from very good; the other haleth him to vertue by the hookes of thoughtes. And wenist thou nat that thy disese hath105don thee mokel more to winne than ever yet thou lostest, and more than ever the contrary made thee winne? Is nat a greet good, to thy thinking, for to knowe the hertes of thy sothfast frendes? Pardè , they ben proved to the ful, and the trewe have discevered fro the false. Trewly, at the goinge of the ilke brotel110 joye, ther yede no more away than the ilke that was nat thyn proper. He was never from that lightly departed; thyn owne good therfore leveth it stille with thee. Now good (quod she); for how moche woldest thou somtyme have bought this verry knowing of thy frendes from the flatteringe flyes that thee glosed,115 whan thou thought thy-selfe sely? But thou that playnest of losse in richesse, hast founden the most dere-worthy thing ; that thou clepest unsely hath made thee moche thing to winnen. And also, for conclusioun of al, he is frende that now leveth nat his herte from thyne helpes. And if that Margarite denyeth now nat120 to suffre her vertues shyne to thee-wardes with spredinge bemes , as far or farther than if thou were sely in worldly joye, trewly, I saye nat els but she is somdel to blame.’
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Thus endeth the firste book of the Testament of Love; and herafter foloweth the seconde.
[ ] VERY welth may not be founden in al this worlde; and that is wel sene. Lo! how in my mooste comfort , as I wende and moost supposed to have had ful answere of my contrary thoughtes, sodaynly it was vanisshed. And al the workes of man5 faren in the same wyse; whan folk wenen best her entent for to have and willes to perfourme, anon chaunging of the lift syde to the right halve tourneth it so clene in-to another kynde, that never shal it come to the first plyte in doinge.
O this wonderful steering so soone otherwysed out of knowinge!10 But for my purpos was at the beginninge, and so dureth yet, if god of his grace tyme wol me graunt, I thinke to perfourme this worke, as I have begonne, in love; after as my thinne wit , with inspiracion of him that hildeth al grace, wol suffre. Grevously,[ ] god wot , have I suffred a greet throwe that the Romayne15 emperour, which in unitè of love shulde acorde, and every with other * * * * in cause of other to avaunce; and namely, sithe this empyre [nedeth ] to be corrected of so many sectes in heresie of faith, of service, o[f] rule in loves religion. Trewly, al were it but to shende erroneous opinions, I may it no lenger suffre.20 For many men there ben that sayn love to be in gravel and sande, that with see ebbinge and flowinge woweth , as riches that sodaynly vanissheth. And some sayn that love shulde be in windy blastes, that stoundmele turneth as a phane , and glorie of renomè, which after lustes of the varyaunt people is areysed or stilled.
25Many also wenen that in the sonne and the moone and other sterres love shulde ben founden; for among al other planettes moste soveraynly they shynen, as dignitees in reverence of estates rather than good han and occupyen. Ful many also there ben that in okes and in huge postes supposen love to ben grounded,30 as in strength and in might, which mowen not helpen their owne wrecchidnesse , whan they ginne to falle. But [of ] suche diversitè of sectes, ayenst the rightful beleve of love, these errours ben forth spredde, that loves servantes in trewe rule and stedfast fayth in no place daren apere. Thus irrecuperable joy is went, and anoy endless is entred. For no man aright reproveth suche errours,35 but [men ] confirmen their wordes, and sayn, that badde is noble good, and goodnesse is badde; to which folk the prophete biddeth wo without ende.
Also manye tonges of greet false techinges in gylinge maner, principally in my tymes, not only with wordes but also with armes ,40 loves servauntes and professe in his religion of trewe rule pursewen, to confounden and to distroyen. And for as moche as holy †faders , that of our Christen fayth aproved and strengthed to the Jewes, as to men resonable and of divinitè lerned, proved thilke fayth with resones, and with auctoritès of the olde testament and of the newe,45 her pertinacie to distroy: but to paynims, that for beestes and houndes were holde, to putte hem out of their errour, was †miracle of god shewed. These thinges were figured by cominge of th’angel to the shepherdes, and by the sterre to paynims kinges; as who sayth : angel resonable to resonable creature, and sterre of miracle50 to people bestial not lerned, wern sent to enforme. But I, lovers clerk , in al my conning and with al my mightes, trewly I have no suche grace in vertue of miracles, ne for no discomfit falsheedes suffyseth not auctoritès alone; sithen that suche [arn ] heretikes and maintaynours of falsitès. Wherfore I wot wel, sithen that55 they ben men, and reson is approved in hem, the clowde of errour hath her reson beyond probable resons, whiche that cacchende wit rightfully may not with-sitte. By my travaylinge studie I have ordeyned hem, †whiche that auctoritè, misglosed by mannes reson , to graunt shal ben enduced.60
Now ginneth my penne to quake, to thinken on the sentences of the envyous people, whiche alway ben redy, both ryder and goer , to scorne and to jape this leude book ; and me, for rancour and hate in their hertes, they shullen so dispyse, that although my book be leude, yet shal it ben more leude holden, and by65 wicked wordes in many maner apayred. Certes, me thinketh, [of ] the sowne of their badde speche right now is ful bothe myne eeres. O good precious Margaryte, myne herte shulde wepe if I wiste ye token hede of suche maner speche; but trewly, I wot70 wel, in that your wysdom shal not asterte. For of god, maker of kynde, witnesse I took , that for none envy ne yvel have I drawe this mater togider; but only for goodnesse to maintayn, and errours in falsetees to distroy. Wherfore (as I sayd) with reson I thinke, thilke forsayd errours to distroye and dequace.
75These resons and suche other, if they enduce men, in loves service, trewe to beleve of parfit blisse, yet to ful faithe in credence[ ] of deserte fully mowe they nat suffyse; sithen ‘faith hath no merite of mede, whan mannes reson sheweth experience in doing.’ For utterly no reson the parfit blisse of love by no waye80may make to be comprehended. Lo! what is a parcel of lovers joye? Parfit science, in good service, of their desyre to comprehende in bodily doinge the lykinge of the soule; not as by a glasse to have contemplacion of tyme cominge, but thilke first imagined and thought after face to face in beholding. What85 herte, what reson , what understandinge can make his heven to be feled and knowe, without assaye in doinge? Certes, noon . Sithen thanne of love cometh suche fruite in blisse, and love in him-selfe is the most among other vertues, as clerkes sayn ; the seed of suche springinge in al places, in al countreys, in al worldes shulde90 ben sowe.
But o! welawaye! thilke seed is forsake, and †mowe not ben suffred, the lond-tillers to sette a-werke, without medlinge of cockle ; badde wedes whiche somtyme stonken †han caught the name of love among idiotes and badde-meninge people. Never-the-later,95 yet how-so-it-be that men clepe thilke †thing preciousest[ ] in kynde, with many eke-names, that other thinges that the soule yeven the ilke noble name, it sheweth wel that in a maner men have a greet lykinge in worshippinge of thilke name. Wherfore this worke have I writte; and tothee , tytled of Loves name,100 I have it avowed in a maner of sacrifyse; that, where-ever it be rad , it mowe in merite, by the excellence of thilke name, the more wexe in authoritè and worshippe of takinge in hede; and to what entent it was ordayned, the inseëres mowen ben moved.[ ] Every thing to whom is owande occasion don as for his ende, Aristotle supposeth that the actes of every thinge ben in a maner105 his final cause. A final cause is noblerer, or els even as noble, as thilke thing that is finally to thilke ende ; wherfore accion of thinge everlasting is demed to be eternal, and not temporal; sithen it is his final cause. Right so the actes of my boke ‘Love,’ and love is noble; wherfore, though my book be leude, the cause110 with which I am stered, and for whom I ought it doon , noble forsothe ben bothe. But bycause that in conninge I am yong , and can yet but crepe, this leude A. b. c. have I set in-to lerning; for I can not passen the telling of three as yet. And if god wil, in shorte tyme, I shal amende this leudnesse in joininge115 syllables; whiche thing , for dulnesse of witte, I may not in three letters declare. For trewly I saye, the goodnesse of my Margaryteperle wolde yeve mater in endyting to many clerkes; certes, her mercy is more to me swetter than any livinges; wherfore my lippes mowen not suffyse, in speking of her ful laude and worshippe120 as they shulde. But who is that [wolde be wyse] in knowing of the orders of heven, and putteth his resones in the erthe? I forsothe may not, with blere eyen, the shyning sonne of vertue in bright whele of this Margaryte beholde; therfore as yet I may her not discryve in vertue as I wolde. In tyme cominge,125 in another tretyse , thorow goddes grace, this sonne in clerenesse of vertue to be-knowe, and how she enlumineth al this day, I thinke to declare.
CHAPTER II.[ ]
IN this mene whyle this comfortable lady gan singe a wonder mater of endytinge in Latin; but trewly, the noble colours in rethorik wyse knitte were so craftely, that my conning wol not strecche to remembre; but the sentence, I trowe, somdel have I in mynde. Certes, they were wonder swete of sowne, and they5 were touched al in lamentacion wyse, and by no werbles of myrthe. Lo! thus gan she singe in Latin, as I may constrewe it in our Englisshe tonge.
‘Alas! that these hevenly bodyes their light and course shewen,10 as nature yave hem in commaundement at the ginning of the first age; but these thinges in free choice of reson han non understondinge. But man that ought to passe al thing of doinge, of right course in kynde, over-whelmed sothnesse by wrongful tytle, and hath drawen the sterre of envye to gon by his syde, that the15 clips of me, that shulde be his shynande sonne, so ofte is seye , that it wened thilke errour, thorow hem come in, shulde ben myn owne defaute. Trewly, therfore, I have me withdrawe, and mad my dwellinge out of lande in an yle by my-selfe, in the occian closed; and yet sayn there many, they have me harberowed; but,20 god wot , they faylen. These thinges me greven to thinke, and namely on passed gladnesse, that in this worlde was wont me disporte of highe and lowe; and now it is fayled; they that wolden maystries me have in thilke stoundes. In heven on highe, above Saturnes sphere , in sesonable tyme were they25 lodged; but now come queynte counsailours that in no house wol suffre me sojourne, wherof is pitè; and yet sayn some that they me have in celler with wyne shed; in gernere, there corn is layd covered with whete; in sacke , sowed with wolle ; in purse, with money faste knit ; among pannes mouled in a †whicche ;30 in presse , among clothes layd , with riche pelure arayed; in stable, among hors and other beestes, as hogges, sheep , and neet ; and in many other wyse. But thou, maker of light (in winking of thyn eye the sonne is queynt), wost right wel that I in trewe name was never thus herberowed.
35Somtyme, toforn the sonne in the seventh partie was smiten, I bar both crosse and mytre, to yeve it where I wolde. With me the pope wente a-fote; and I tho was worshipped of al holy church. Kinges baden me their crownes holden. The law was set as it shuld; tofore the juge, as wel the poore durste shewe40 his greef as the riche, for al his money. I defended tho taylages, and was redy for the poore to paye . I made grete feestes in my tyme, and noble songes, and maryed damoselles of gentil feture, withouten golde or other richesse. Poore clerkes, for witte of schole, I sette in churches, and made suche persones to preche ; and tho was service in holy churche honest and devout , in45 plesaunce bothe of god and of the people. But now the leude for symonye is avaunced, and shendeth al holy churche. Now is steward , for his achates ; now †is courtiour, for his debates; now is eschetour , for his wronges ; now is losel, for his songes, personer;[ ] and [hath his] provendre alone, with whiche manye50 thrifty shulde encrese . And yet is this shrewe behynde ; free herte is forsake ; and losengeour is take. Lo! it acordeth; for suche there ben that voluntarie lustes haunten in courte with ribaudye, that til midnight and more wol playe and wake, but in the churche at matins he is behynde, for yvel disposicion of his55[ ] stomake; therfore he shulde ete bene-breed (and so did his[ ] syre) his estate ther-with to strengthen. His auter is broke, and lowe lyth , in poynte to gon to the erthe; but his hors muste ben esy and hye, to bere him over grete waters. His chalice poore, but he hath riche cuppes. No towayle but a shete , there god60 shal ben handled; and on his mete-borde there shal ben bord-clothes and towelles many payre. At masse serveth but a clergion ; fyve squiers in hal. Poore chaunsel, open holes in every syde; beddes of silke, with tapites going al aboute his chambre. Poore masse-book and leud chapelayn , and broken surplice with65 many an hole; good houndes and many, to hunte after hart and hare, to fede in their feestes. Of poore men have they greet care; for they ever crave and nothing offren, they wolden have hem dolven ! But amonglegistres there dar I not come; my doinge[s], they sayn , maken hem nedy. They ne wolde for70[ ] nothing have me in town; for than were tort and †force nought worth an hawe about, and plesen no men, but thilk grevous and torcious ben in might and in doing. These thinges to-forn-sayd mowe wel, if men liste, ryme ; trewly, they acorde nothing . And for-as-moch as al thinges by me shulden of right ben governed,75 I am sory to see that governaunce fayleth, as thus: to sene smale and lowe governe the hye and bodies above. Certes, that policye is naught; it is forbode by them that of governaunce treten and enformen. And right as beestly wit shulde ben 80subject to reson , so erthly power in it-selfe, the lower shulde ben subject to the hygher. What is worth thy body, but it be governed with thy soule? Right so litel or naught is worth erthely power, but if reignatif prudence in heedes governe the smale; to whiche heedes the smale owen to obey and suffre in85 their governaunce. But soverainnesse ayenward shulde thinke in this wyse: “I am servaunt of these creatures to me delivered, not lord , but defendour; not mayster, but enfourmer; not possessour , but in possession; and to hem liche a tree in whiche sparowes shullen stelen, her birdes to norisshe and forth bringe ,90 under suretee ayenst al raveynous foules and beestes, and not to be tyraunt them-selfe.” And than the smale, in reste and quiete, by the heedes wel disposed, owen for their soveraynes helth and prosperitè to pray, and in other doinges in maintenaunce therof performe, withouten other administracion in rule of any maner95 governaunce. And they wit have in hem, and grace to come to suche thinges, yet shulde they cese til their heedes them cleped, although profit and plesaunce shulde folowe. But trewly, other governaunce ne other medlinge ought they not to clayme, ne the heedes on hem to putte . Trewly, amonges cosinagedar100 I not come, but-if richesse be my mene ; sothly, she and other bodily goodes maketh nigh cosinage, ther never propinquitè ne alyaunce in lyve was ne shulde have be, nere it for her medling maners; wherfore kindly am I not ther leged. Povert of kinred is behynde ; richesse suffreth him to passe; truly he saith,105 he com never of Japhetes childre. Whereof I am sory that Japhetes children, for povert, in no linage ben rekened, and Caynes children, for riches, be maked Japhetes heires. Alas! this is a wonder chaunge bitwene tho two Noës children, sithen that[ ] of Japhetes ofspring comeden knightes, and of Cayn discended110 the lyne of servage to his brothers childre. Lo! how gentillesse and servage, as cosins, bothe discended out of two brethern of one body! Wherfore I saye in sothnesse, that gentilesse in kinrede †maketh not gentil linage in succession, without desert of a mans own selfe. Where is now the lyne of Alisaundre the115 noble, or els of Hector of Troye? Who is discended of right bloode of lyne fro king Artour? Pardè, sir Perdicas , whom that Alisandre made to ben his heire in Grece, was of no kinges bloode; his dame was a tombestere . Of what kinred ben the gentiles in our dayes? I trow therfore, if any good be in gentilesse, it is only that it semeth a maner of necessitè be input to120 gentilmen, that they shulden not varyen fro the vertues of their[ ] auncestres. Certes, al maner linage of men ben evenliche in birth; for oon †fader , maker of al goodnes, enformed hem al, and al mortal folk of one sede arn greyned. Wherto avaunt men of her linage, in cosinage or in †elde-faders ? Loke now the ginning,125 and to god, maker of mans person; there is no clerk ne no worthy in gentilesse; and he that norissheth his †corage with vyces and unresonable lustes, and leveth the kynde course, to whiche ende him brought forth his birthe, trewly, he is ungentil, and among †cherles may ben nempned. And therfore, he that130 wol ben gentil, he mot daunten his flesshe fro vyces that causen ungentilnesse, and leve also reignes of wicked lustes, and drawe to him vertue, that in al places gentilnesse gentilmen maketh. And so speke I, in feminine gendre in general, of tho persones, at the reverence of one whom every wight honoureth; for her135bountee and her noblesse y-made her to god so dere, that his moder she became; and she me hath had so greet in worship, that I nil for nothing in open declare, that in any thinge ayenst her sectemay so wene. For al vertue and al worthinesse of plesaunce in hem haboundeth. And although I wolde any-thing speke,140 trewly I can not; I may fynde in yvel of hem no maner mater.’
RIGHT with these wordes she stinte of that lamentable melodye; and I gan with a lyvely herte to praye, if that it were lyking unto her noble grace, she wolde her deyne to declare me the mater that firste was begonne, in which she lefte and stinte to speke beforn she gan to singe.5
‘Ah, good lady,’ quod I, ‘in whom victorie of strength is proved above al other thing , after the jugement of Esdram , whos lordship 10 al lignes : who is , that right as emperour hem commaundeth, whether thilke ben not women, in whos lyknesse to me ye aperen? For right as man halt the principaltè of al thing under his beinge, in the masculyne gender; and no mo genders ben there but masculyn and femenyne; al the remenaunt ben no gendres but15 of grace, in facultee of grammer: right so, in the femenyne, the women holden the upperest degree of al thinges under thilke[ ] gendre conteyned. Who bringeth forth kinges, whiche that ben lordes of see and of erthe; and al peoples of women ben born . They norisshe hem that graffen vynes; they maken men comfort20 in their gladde cheres. Her sorowe is deth to mannes herte.[ ] Without women, the being of men were impossible. They conne with their swetnesse the crewel herte ravisshe, and make it meke, buxom , and benigne, without violence mevinge. In beautee of their eyen, or els of other maner fetures, is al mens desyres;25 ye, more than in golde, precious stones, either any richesse. And in this degree, lady, your-selfe many hertes of men have so bounden, that parfit blisse in womankynde to ben men wenen, and in nothinge els. Also, lady, the goodnesse, the vertue of women, by propertè of discrecion, is so wel knowen, by litelnesse30[ ] of malice, that desyre to a good asker by no waye conne they warne. And ye thanne, that wol not passe the kynde werchinge of your sectes by general discrecion, I wot wel, ye wol so enclyne to my prayere, that grace of my requeste shal fully ben graunted.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘thus for the more parte fareth al mankynde,35 to praye and to crye after womans grace, and fayne many fantasyes to make hertes enclyne to your desyres. And whan these sely women, for freeltè of their kynde, beleven your wordes, and wenen al be gospel the promise of your behestes, than graunt[en] they to you their hertes, and fulfillen your lustes, wherthrough40 their libertè in maystreship that they toforn had is thralled; and so maked soverayn and to be prayed, that first was servaunt, and voice of prayer used. Anon as filled is your lust, many of you be so trewe , that litel hede take ye of suche kyndnesse; but with traysoun anon ye thinke hem begyle, and let light of that45 thing whiche firste ye maked to you wonders dere; so what thing to women it is to loven any wight er she him wel knowe, and have him proved in many halfe! For every glittring thing is nat gold ; and under colour of fayre speche many vices may be hid and conseled. Therfore I rede no wight to trust on you to rathe; mens chere and her speche right gyleful is ful ofte.50 Wherfore without good assay, it is nat worth on many †of you to truste. Trewly, it is right kyndely to every man that thinketh women betraye, and shewen outward al goodnesse, til he have his wil performed. Lo! the bird is begyled with the mery voice of the foulers whistel . Whan a woman is closed in your nette,55 than wol ye causes fynden, and bere unkyndenesse her †on hande , or falsetè upon her putte, your owne malicious trayson with suche thinge to excuse. Lo! than han women non other wreche in vengeaunce, but †blobere and wepe til hem list stint, and sorily her mishap complayne; and is put in-to wening that60 al men ben so untrewe. How often have men chaunged her loves in a litel whyle, or els, for fayling their wil, in their places[ ] hem set! For fren[d]ship shal be oon , and fame with another him list for to have, and a thirde for delyt ; or els were he lost bothe in packe and in clothes! Is this fair ? Nay, god wot.65 I may nat telle , by thousande partes, the wronges in trechery of suche false people; for make they never so good a bond , al sette ye at a myte whan your hert tourneth. And they that wenen for sorowe of you deye , the pitè of your false herte is flowe[ ] out of towne. Alas! therfore, that ever any woman wolde take70 any wight in her grace, til she knowe, at the ful, on whom she might at al assayes truste ! Women con no more craft in queynt knowinge, to understande the false disceyvable conjectementes of mannes begylinges. Lo! how it fareth; though ye men gronen and cryen, certes, it is but disceyt; and that preveth wel75 by th’endes in your werkinge. How many women have ben lorn , and with shame foule shent by long-lastinge tyme, whiche thorow mennes gyle have ben disceyved? Ever their fame shal dure, and their dedes [ben] rad and songe in many londes; that they han don , recoveren shal they never; but alway ben demed80 lightly, in suche plyte a-yen shulde they falle . Of whiche slaunders and tenes ye false men and wicked ben the verey causes; on you by right ought these shames and these reproves al hoolly discende. Thus arn ye al nighe untrewe; for al your fayre speche, your85 herte is ful fickel. What cause han ye women to dispyse? Better fruite than they ben, ne swetter spyces to your behove, mowe ye not fynde , as far as worldly bodyes strecchen . Loke to their forminge, at the making of their persones by god in joye of paradyce! For goodnesse, of mans propre body were they90 maked, after the sawes of the bible, rehersing goddes wordes in[ ] this wyse: “It is good to mankynde that we make to him an helper.” Lo! in paradyse, for your helpe, was this tree graffed, out of whiche al linage of man discendeth. If a man be noble frute, of noble frute it is sprongen; the blisse of paradyse, to95 mennes sory hertes, yet in this tree abydeth. O! noble helpes ben these trees, and gentil jewel to ben worshipped of every good creature! He that hem anoyeth doth his owne shame; it is a comfortable perle ayenst al tenes. Every company is mirthed by their present being. Trewly, I wiste never vertue, but a woman100 were therof the rote. What is heven the worse though Sarazins on it lyen? Is your fayth untrewe, though †renegates maken theron lesinges ? If the fyr doth any wight brenne, blame his owne wit that put him-selfe so far in the hete . Is not fyr gentillest and mostcomfortable element amonges al other? Fyr105 is cheef werker in fortheringe sustenaunce to mankynde. Shal fyr ben blamed for it brende a foole naturelly, by his own stulty witte in steringe? Ah! wicked folkes! For your propre malice and shreudnesse of your-selfe, ye blame and dispyse the precious[es]t thing of your kynde, and whiche thinges among other110 moste ye desyren! Trewly, Nero and his children ben shrewes, that dispysen so their dames . The wickednesse and gyling of men, in disclaundring of thilke that most hath hem glad[d]ed and plesed , were impossible to wryte or to nempne. Never-the-later yet I say, he that knoweth a way may it lightly passe; eke115[ ] an herbe proved may safely to smertande sores ben layd . So I say, in him that is proved is nothing suche yvels to gesse. But these thinges have I rehersed, to warne you women al at ones, that to lightly, without good assaye, ye assenten not to mannes speche. The sonne in the day-light is to knowen from120 the moone that shyneth in the night. Now to thee thy-selfe (quod she) as I have ofte sayd, I knowe wel thyne herte; thou art noon of al the tofore-nempned people. For I knowe wel the continuaunce of thy service, that never sithen I sette thee a-werke, might thy Margaryte for plesaunce, frendship , ne fayrhede of none other, be in poynte moved from thyne herte; wherfore125 in-to myne housholde hastely I wol that thou entre, and al the parfit privitè of my werking, make it be knowe in thy understonding, as oon of my privy familiers. Thou desyrest (quod she) fayn to here of tho thinges there I lefte?’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod I, ‘that were to me a greet blisse.’130
THOU shalt ,’ quod she, ‘understonde first among al other thinges, that al the cure of my service to me in the parfit blisse in doing is desyred in every mannes herte, be he never[ ] so moche a wrecche ; but every man travayleth by dyvers studye, and seke[th] thilke blisse by dyvers wayes. But al the endes5 are knit in selinesse of desyre in the parfit blisse, that is suche joye, whan men it have gotten, there †leveth no thing more to ben coveyted. But how that desyre of suche perfeccion in my service be kindely set in lovers hertes, yet her erroneous opinions misturne it by falsenesse of wening. And although10 mannes understanding be misturned, to knowe whiche shuld ben the way unto my person, and whither it abydeth; yet wote they there is a love in every wight, [whiche] weneth by that thing that he coveyteth most , he shulde come to thilke love; and that is parfit blisse of my servauntes; but than fulle blisse may not15 be, and there lacke any thing of that blisse in any syde. Eke it foloweth than, that he that must have ful blisse lacke no blisse in love on no syde.’
‘Therfore, lady,’ quod I tho, ‘thilke blisse I have desyred, and †soghte toforn this my-selfe, by wayes of riches , of dignitè,20 of power, and of renomè, wening me in tho †thinges had ben thilke blisse; but ayenst the heer it turneth . Whan I supposed beste thilke blisse have †getten , and come to the ful purpose of your service, sodaynly was I hindred, and throwen so fer25 abacke, that me thinketh an inpossible to come there I lefte.’
‘I †wot wel,’ quod she; ‘and therfore hast thou fayled; for thou wentest not by the hye way. A litel misgoing in the ginning causeth mikil errour in the ende; wherfore of thilke blisse thou fayledest, for having of richesse; ne non of the other thinges thou30 nempnedest mowen nat make suche parfit blisse in love as I shal shewe. Therfore they be nat worthy to thilke blisse; and yet somwhat must ben cause and way to thilke blisse. Ergo, there is som suche thing, and som way, but it is litel in usage and that is nat openly y-knowe. But what felest in thyne hert of the35 service, in whiche by me thou art entred? Wenest aught thyselfe yet be in the hye way to my blisse? I shal so shewe it to thee , thou shalt not conne saye the contrary.’
‘Good lady,’ quod I, ‘altho I suppose it in my herte, yet wolde I here thyn wordes, how ye menen in this mater.’
40Quod she, ‘that I shal, with my good wil. Thilke blisse desyred, som-del ye knowen, altho it be nat parfitly. For kyndly entencion ledeth you therto, but in three maner livinges is al suche wayes shewed. Every wight in this world, to have this blisse, oon of thilke three wayes of lyves must procede; whiche, after opinions45 of grete clerkes, are by names cleped bestiallich, resonablich, [and manlich. Resonablich ] is vertuous. Manlich is worldlich. Bestialliche is lustes and delytable, nothing restrayned by bridel of reson . Al that joyeth and yeveth gladnesse to the hert, and it be ayenst reson , is lykened to bestial living , which thing foloweth lustes and50 delytes; wherfore in suche thinge may nat that precious blisse, that is maister of al vertues, abyde. Your †faders toforn you have cleped such lusty livinges after the flessh “passions of desyre,” which are innominable tofore god and man both. Than, after determinacion of suche wyse, we accorden that suche passions of55 desyre shul nat be nempned, but holden for absolute from al other livinges and provinges; and so †leveth in t[w]o livinges, manlich and resonable, to declare the maters begonne. But to make thee fully have understanding in manlich livinges , whiche is holden worldlich in these thinges, so that ignorance be mad no letter, I wol (quod she) nempne these forsayd wayes †by names and60 conclusions. First riches , dignitè, renomè, and power shul in this worke be cleped bodily goodes; for in hem hath ben, a gret throw, mannes trust of selinesse in love: as in riches, suffisance to have maintayned that was begonne by worldly catel; in dignitè, honour and reverence of hem that wern underput by maistry65 therby to obeye . In renomè, glorie of peoples praising, after lustes in their hert, without hede-taking to qualitè and maner of doing; and in power, by trouth of lordships mayntenaunce, thing to procede forth in doing. In al whiche thinges a longe tyme mannes coveytise in commune hath ben greetly grounded, to come70 to the blisse of my service; but trewly, they were begyled, and for the principal muste nedes fayle, and in helping mowe nat availe. See why. For holdest him not poore that is nedy?’
‘Yes, pardè,’ quod I.
‘And him for dishonored, that moche folk deyne nat to75 reverence?’
‘That is soth,’ quod I.
‘And what him, that his mightes faylen and mowe nat helpen?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘me semeth, of al men he shulde be holden a wrecche .’80
‘And wenest nat,’ quod she, ‘that he that is litel in renomè, but rather is out of the praysinges of mo men than a fewe, be nat in shame?’
‘For soth,’ quod I, ‘it is shame and villany, to him that coveyteth renomè, that more folk nat prayse in name than preise.’85
‘Soth,’ quod she, ‘thou sayst soth; but al these thinges are folowed of suche maner doinge, and wenden in riches suffisaunce, in power might, in dignitè worship, and in renomè glorie; wherfore they discended in-to disceyvable wening, and in that service disceit is folowed. And thus, in general, thou and al suche other that so90 worchen, faylen of my blisse that ye long han desyred. Wherfore truly, in lyfe of reson is the hye way to this blisse; as I thinke more openly to declare herafter. Never-the-later yet, in a litel to comforte thy herte, in shewing of what waye thou art entred thyselfe, 95 and that thy Margarite may knowe thee set in the hye way, I wol enforme thee in this wyse. Thou hast fayled of thy first purpos , bicause thou wentest wronge and leftest the hye way on thy right syde, as thus: thou lokedest on worldly living , and that thing thee begyled; and lightly therfore, as a litel assay , thou100songedest ; but whan I turned thy purpos , and shewed thee a part of the hye waye, tho thou abode therin, and no deth ne ferdnesse of non enemy might thee out of thilk way reve; but ever oon in thyn herte, to come to the ilke blisse, whan thou were arested and firste tyme enprisoned, thou were loth to105 chaunge thy way, for in thy hert thou wendest to have ben there thou shuldest. And for I had routhe to sene thee miscaried, and wiste wel thyn ablenesse my service to forther and encrese , I com my-selfe, without other mene , to visit thy person in comfort of thy hert. And perdy, in my comming thou were greetly110 glad[d]ed ; after whiche tyme no disese , no care, no tene, might move me out of thy hert. And yet am I glad and greetly enpited, how continually thou haddest me in mynde, with good avysement of thy conscience, whan thy king and his princes by huge wordes and grete loked after variaunce in thy speche; and ever thou115 were redy for my sake, in plesaunce of the Margarite-perle and many mo other, thy body to oblige in-to Marces doing, if any contraried thy sawes. Stedfast way maketh stedfast hert, with good hope in the ende. Trewly, I wol that thou it wel knowe; for I see thee so set, and not chaunginge herte haddest in my120 service; and I made thou haddest grace of thy kinge, in foryevenesse of mikel misdede. To the gracious king art thou mikel holden, of whos grace and goodnesse somtyme hereafter I thinke thee enforme, whan I shew the ground where-as moral vertue groweth. Who brought thee to werke? Who brought this grace125 aboute? Who made thy hert hardy? Trewly, it was I. For haddest thou of me fayled, than of this purposhad[dest thou] never taken [hede] in this wyse. And therfore I say, thou might wel truste to come to thy blisse, sithen thy ginninge hath ben hard , but ever graciously after thy hertes desyr hath proceded. Silver130 fyned with many hetes men knowen for trew; and safely men may trust to the alay in werkinge. This †disese hath proved what way hence-forward thou thinkest to holde.’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod she, ‘and now I wol disprove thy first135 wayes, by whiche many men wenen to gette thilke blisse. But for-as-moche as every herte that hath caught ful love, is tyed with queynt knittinges, thou shalt understande that love and thilke foresayd blisse toforn declared in this[e] provinges, shal hote the knot in the hert.’140
‘Wel,’ quod I, ‘this inpossession I wol wel understande.’
‘Now also,’ quod she, ‘for the knotte in the herte muste ben from one to an-other, and I knowe thy desyr , I wol thou understande these maters to ben sayd of thy-selfe, in disproving of thy first service, and in strengthinge of thilke that thou hast undertake145 to thy Margaryte-perle.’
‘If god wol,’ quod I, ‘of al these thinges wol I not fayle; and if I graunt contradiccion , I shulde graunte an impossible; and that were a foul inconvenience; for whiche thinges, lady , y-wis, herafter I thinke me to kepe.’
‘WEL,’ quod she, ‘thou knowest that every thing is a cause, wherthrough any thing hath being that is cleped “caused.” Than, if richesse †causeth knot in herte, thilke richesse †is cause of thilke precious thinge being. But after the sentence of Aristotle , every cause is more in dignitè than his thinge caused;5 wherthrough it foloweth richesse to ben more in dignitè than thilke knot. But richesses arn kyndely naughty, badde, and nedy; and thilke knotte is thing kyndely good, most praysed and desyred. Ergo,thing naughty, badde, and nedy in kyndely 10 understandinge is more worthy than thing kyndely good, most desyred and praysed! The consequence is fals ; nedes, the antecedent mot ben of the same condicion. But that richesses ben bad, naughty, and nedy, that wol I prove; wherfore they mowe cause no suche thing that is so glorious and good. The15[ ] more richesse thou hast , the more nede hast thou of helpe hem to kepe. Ergo, thou nedest in richesse, whiche nede thou shuldest not have, if thou hem wantest. Than muste richesse ben nedy, that in their having maken thee nedy to helpes, in suretee thy richesse to kepen; wherthrough foloweth, richesse to20 ben nedy. Everything causinge yvels is badde and naughty; but richesse in one causen misese , in another they mowen not evenly strecchen al about. Wherof cometh plee, debat , thefte, begylinges, but richesse to winne; whiche thinges ben badde, and by richesse arn caused. Ergo, thilke richesse[s] ben badde; whiche badnesse25 and nede ben knit in-to richesse by a maner of kyndely propertee ; and every cause and caused accorden; so that it foloweth, thilke richesse[s] to have the same accordaunce with badnesse and nede, that their cause asketh. Also, every thing hath his being by his cause; than, if the cause be distroyed, the being of caused is30 vanisshed. And, so, if richesse[s] causen love, and richesse[s] weren distroyed, the love shulde vanisshe; but thilke knotte, and it be trewe, may not vanisshe, for no going of richesse. Ergo, richesse is no cause of the knot. And many men, as I sayd, setten the cause of the knotte in richesse; thilke knitten the35 richesse, and nothing the yvel; thilke persons, what-ever they ben, wenen that riches is most worthy to be had; and that make they the cause; and so wene they thilke riches be better than the person. Commenly, suche asken rather after the quantitè than after the qualitè; and suche wenen, as wel by hem-selfe as by40 other, that conjunccion of his lyfe and of his soule is no more precious, but in as mikel as he hath of richesse. Alas! how may he holden suche thinges precious or noble, that neither han lyf ne soule, ne ordinaunce of werchinge limmes! Suche richesse[s] ben more worthy whan they ben in †gadering ; in departing,45 ginneth his love of other mennes praysing. And avarice †gadering maketh be hated, and nedy to many out-helpes; and whan leveth the possession of such goodes, and they ginne vanissh, than entreth sorowe and tene in their hertes. O! badde and strayte ben thilke, that at their departinge maketh men teneful and sory, and in the †gadering of hem make men nedy! Moche folk at50 ones mowen not togider moche thereof have. A good gest gladdeth his hoste and al his meyny; but he is a badde gest that maketh his hoste nedy and to be aferd of his gestes going.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘me wondreth therfore that the comune opinion is thus: “He is worth no more than that he hath in55 catel.” ’
[ ] ‘O!’ quod she, ‘loke thou be not of that opinion; for if gold or money, or other maner of riches shynen in thy sight, whos is that? Nat thyn. And tho[ugh] they have a litel beautee , they be nothing in comparison of our kynde; and therfore, ye shulde nat sette60 your worthinesse in thing lower than your-selfe. For the riches, the fairnesse, the worthinesse of thilke goodes, if ther be any suche preciousnesse in hem, are nat thyne; thou madest hem so never; from other they come to thee , and to other they shul[ ] from thee . Wherfore enbracest thou other wightes good, as65 tho[ugh] they were thyn? Kynde hath drawe hem by hem-selfe.[ ] It is sothe, the goodes of the erth ben ordayned in your fode and norisshinge; but if thou wolt holde thee apayd with that suffyseth to thy kynde, thou shalt nat be in daunger of no suche riches; to kynde suffyseth litel thing, who that taketh hede.70 And if thou wolt algates with superfluitè of riches be a-throted, thou shalt hastelich be anoyed, or els yvel at ese . And fairnesse of feldes ne of habitacions, ne multitude of meynè , may nat be rekened as riches that are thyn owne. For if they be badde, it is greet sclaunder and villany to the occupyer; and if they be good75 or faire, the mater of the workman that hem made is to prayse. How shulde other-wyse bountee be compted for thyne? Thilke goodnesse and fairnesse be proper to tho thinges hem-selfe; than,[ ] if they be nat thyne, sorow nat whan they wende, ne glad thee nat in pompe and in pride whan thou hem hast. For their80bountee and their beautees cometh out of their owne kynde, and nat of thyne owne person. As faire ben they in their not having as whan thou hast hem. They be nat faire for thou hast hem; but thou hast geten hem for the fairnesse of them-selfe. And there the vaylance of men is demed in richesse outforth, wenen85me[n] to have no proper good in them-selfe, but seche it in straunge thinges. Trewly, the condicion of good wening is to thee mistourned, to wene, your noblesse be not in your-selfe, but in the goodes and beautee of other thinges. Pardy, the beestes90 that han but feling soules, have suffisaunce in their owne selfe; and ye, that ben lyke to god, seken encrese of suffisaunce from so excellent a kynde of so lowe thinges; ye do greet wrong to him that you made lordes over al erthly thinges; and ye putte your worthinesse under the nombre of the fete of lower thinges and95 foule. Whan ye juge thilke riches to be your worthinesse, than putte ye your-selfe, by estimacion, under thilke foule thinges; and than leve ye the knowing of your-selfe; so be ye viler than any dombe beest; that cometh of shrewde vice. Right so thilke persons that loven non yvel for dereworthinesse of the persone,100 but for straunge goodes, and saith, the adornement in the knot lyth in such thing; his errour is perilous and shrewd , and he wryeth moche venim with moche welth; and that knot may nat be good whan he hath it getten.
Certes, thus hath riches with flickering sight anoyed many;105 and often, whan there is a throw-out shrewe, he coyneth al the gold , al the precious stones that mowen be founden, to have in his bandon; he weneth no wight be worthy to have suche thinges but he alone. How many hast thou knowe, now in late tyme, that in their richesse supposed suffisance have folowed, and now110 it is al fayled!’
‘Ye,’ quod she tho, ‘had not the flood greetly areysed, and throwe to-hemward both gravel and sand , he had mad no medlinge.115 And right as see yeveth flood , so draweth see ebbe, and pulleth ayen under wawe al the firste out-throwe , but-if good pyles of noble governaunce in love, in wel-meninge maner, ben sadly grounded; †the whiche holde thilke gravel as for a tyme, that ayen lightly mowe not it turne; and if the pyles ben trewe, the120 gravel and sand wol abyde. And certes, ful warning in love shalt thou never thorow hem get ne cover, that lightly with an ebbe, er thou be ware , it [ne] wol ayen meve. In richesse many men have had tenes and diseses , whiche they shulde not have had, if therof they had fayled. Thorow whiche, now declared, partly it is shewed, that for richesse shulde the knotte in herte neither ben125 caused in one ne in other; trewly, knotte may benknit , and I trowe more stedfast, in love, though richesse fayled; and els, in richesse is the knotte, and not in herte. And than suche a knotte is fals ; whan the see ebbeth and withdraweth the gravel, that such richesse voydeth, thilke knotte wol unknitte.130 Wherfore no trust, no way, no cause, no parfit being is in richesse, of no suche knotte. Therfore another way muste we have.
CHAPTER VI.[ ]
HONOUR in dignitè is wened to yeven a ful knot.’
‘Ye, certes,’ quod I, ‘and of that opinion ben many; for they sayn , dignitè, with honour and reverence, causen hertes to encheynen, and so abled to be knit togither, for the excellence in soverayntè of such degrees.’5
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘if dignitè, honour, and reverence causen thilke knotte in herte, this knot is good and profitable. For every cause of a cause is cause of thing caused. Than thus: good thinges and profitable ben by dignitè, honour, and reverence caused. Ergo, they accorden; and dignites ben good with10[ ] reverences and honour. But contraries mowen not accorden. Wherfore, by reson , there shulde no dignitee, no reverence, non honour acorde with shrewes. But that is fals ; they have ben cause to shrewes in many shreudnes; for with hem they accorden. Ergo, from beginning to argue ayenward til it come to the laste15 conclusion, they are not cause of the knot. Lo, al day at eye arn shrewes not in reverence, in honour, and in dignitè? Yes, forsothe, rather than the good. Than foloweth it that shrewes rather than good shul ben cause of this knot. But of this [the ] contrarie of al lovers is bileved, and for a sothe openly determined20 to holde.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘that wol I shewe in manifolde wyse. Ye wene25 (quod she) that dignites of office here in your citè is as the[ ] sonne; it shyneth bright withouten any cloude; [of ] whiche thing , whan they comen in the handes of malicious tirauntes, there cometh moche harm , and more grevaunce therof than of the wilde fyre, though it brende al a strete. Certes, in dignitè of30[ ] office, the werkes of the occupyer shewen the malice and the badnesse in the person; with shrewes they maken manyfolde harmes, and moche people shamen. How often han rancours, for malice of the governour, shulde ben mainteyned? Hath not than suche dignitees caused debat , rumours, and yvels? Yes,35 god wot , by suche thinges have ben trusted to make mens understanding enclyne to many queynte thinges. Thou wottest wel what I mene .’
‘Do way, do way,’ quod she; ‘if it so betyde, but that is selde, that suche dignitè is betake in a good mannes governaunce, what thing is to recken in the dignitees goodnesse? Pardè, the bountee and goodnesse is hers that usen it in good governaunce;45 and therfore cometh it that honour and reverence shulde ben don to dignitè bycause of encresinge vertue in the occupyer, and not to the ruler bycause of soverayntee in dignitè. Sithen dignitè may no vertue cause, who is worthy worship for suche goodnesse? Not dignitè, but person, that maketh goodnesse in50 dignitè to shyne.’
‘This is wonder thing,’ quod I; ‘for me thinketh, as the person in dignitè is worthy honour for goodnesse, so, tho[ugh] a person for badnesse ma[u]gree hath deserved, yet the dignitè leneth to be commended.’
55‘Let be,’ quod she, ‘thou errest right foule; dignitè with badnesse is helper to performe the felonous doing. Pardy, were it kyndly good, or any propertè of kyndly vertue [that men ] hadden in hem-selfe, shrewes shulde hem never have; with hem shulde they never accorde. Water and fyr , that ben contrarious, mowen nat togider ben assembled; kynde wol nat suffre suche60 contraries to joyne . And sithen at eye, by experience in doing, we seen that shrewes have hem more often than good men , siker mayst thou be, that kyndly good in suche thing is nat appropred. Pardy, were they kyndly good, as wel oon as other shulden evenlich in vertue of governaunce ben worthe; but oon fayleth in65 goodnesse, another doth the contrary; and so it sheweth, kyndly goodnesse in dignitè nat be grounded. And this same reson (quod she) may be mad , in general, on al the bodily goodes; for they comen ofte to throw-out shrewes. After this, he is strong that hath might to have grete burthens , and he is light70 and swifte, that hath soveraintè in ronning to passe other; right so he is a shrewe, on whom shreude thinges and badde han most werchinge. And right as philosophy maketh philosophers, and[ ] my service maketh lovers, right so, if dignites weren good or vertuous, they shulde maken shrewes good, and turne her malice,75 and make hem be vertuous. But that they do nat, as it is proved, but causen rancour and debat . Ergo, they be nat good, but utterly badde. Had Nero never ben Emperour, shulde never his dame have be slayn, to maken open the privitè of his engendrure. Herodes, for his dignitè, slew many children. The80 dignitè of king John wolde have distroyed al England . Therfore mokel wysdom and goodnesse both, nedeth in a person , the malice in dignitè slyly to brydel, and with a good bitte of arest to withdrawe, in case it wolde praunce otherwyse than it shulde. Trewly, ye yeve to dignites wrongful names in your cleping.85 They shulde hete, nat dignitè, but moustre of badnesse and mayntenour of shrewes. Pardy, shyne the sonne never so bright, and it bringe forth no hete , ne sesonably the herbes out-bringe of the erthe, but suffre frostes and cold , and the erthe barayne to ligge by tyme of his compas in circute about, ye wolde wonder,90 and dispreyse that sonne ! If the mone be at ful, and sheweth no light, but derke and dimme to your sight appereth, and make distruccion of the waters, wol ye nat suppose it be under cloude or in clips, and that som prevy thing, unknowen to your wittes, is cause of suche contrarious doinge? Than, if clerkes, that han95 ful insight and knowing of suche impedimentes, enforme you of the sothe, very idiottes ye ben, but-if ye yeven credence to thilk clerkes wordes. And yet it doth me tene, to sene many wrecches rejoycen in such maner planettes . Trewly, litel con[ne] they on100[ ] philosophy, or els on my lore, that any desyr haven suche lightinge planettes in that wyse any more to shewe.’
‘Good lady,’ quod I, ‘tel me how ye mene in these thinges.’
‘Lo,’ quod she, ‘the dignites of your citè, sonne and mone, nothing in kynde shew their shyning as they shulde. For the105 sonne made no brenning hete in love, but freesed envye in mennes hertes, for feblenesse of shyning hete; and the moone was about, under an olde cloude, the livinges by waters to distroye.’
‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘it is supposed they had shyned as they110 shulde.’
‘Ye,’ quod she, ‘but now it is proved at the ful, their beautè in kyndly shyning fayled; wherfore dignitè of him-selven hath no beautee in fayrnesse, ne dryveth nat awaye vices, but encreseth ; and so be they no cause of the knotte. Now see , in good trouth;115 holde ye nat such sonnes worthy of no reverence, and dignites worthy of no worship, that maketh men to do the more harmes?’
‘I not , quod I.
‘That is good skil,’ quod I; ‘it is dewe to suche, both reverence and worship to have.’
[ ] ‘Than,’ quod she, ‘a shrewe, for his shreudnesse, altho he be put forth toforn other for ferde, yet is he worthy, for shrewdnesse,125 to be unworshipped; of reverence no part is he worthy to have, [that ] to contrarious doing belongeth: and that is good skil. For, right as he besmyteth the dignites, thilke same thing ayenward him smyteth, or els shulde smyte. And over this thou wost[ ] wel (quod she) that fyr in every place heteth where it be, and130 water maketh wete. Why? For kyndely werking is so y-put in hem, to do suche thinges; for every kyndely in werking sheweth[ ] his kynde. But though a wight had ben mayre of your city many winter togider, and come in a straunge place there he were not knowen, he shulde for his dignitè have no reverence. Than neither worshippe ne reverence is kyndely propre in no dignitè,135 sithen they shulden don their kynde in suche doinge, if any were. And if reverence ne worshippe kyndely be not set in dignitees, and they more therein ben shewed than goodnesse , for that in dignitè is shewed, but it proveth that goodnesse kyndely in hem is not grounded. I-wis, neither worshippe, ne reverence, ne goodnesse140 in dignitè don non office of kynde; for they have non[ ] suche propertee in nature of doinge but by false opinion of the people. Lo! how somtyme thilke that in your city wern in dignitè noble, if thou liste hem nempne, they ben now overturned bothe in worship, in name, and in reverence; wherfore145 such dignites have no kyndly werching of worshippe and of reverence. He that hath no worthinesse on it-selfe, now it ryseth and now it vanissheth, after the variaunt opinion in false hertes of unstable people. Wherfore, if thou desyre the knotte of this jewel, or els if thou woldest suppose she shulde sette the knotte150 on thee for suche maner dignitè, than thou wenest beautee or goodnesse of thilke somwhat encreseth the goodnesse or vertue in[ ] the body. But dignite[es] of hemself ben not good, ne yeven reverence ne worshippe by their owne kynde. How shulde they than yeve to any other a thing , that by no waye mowe they have155 hem-selfe? It is sene in dignitè of the emperour and of many mo other, that they mowe not of hem-selve kepe their worshippe ne their reverence; that , in a litel whyle, it is now up and now downe, by unstedfaste hertes of the people. What bountee mowe they yeve that, with cloude, lightly leveth his shyninge? Certes,160 to the occupyer is mokel appeyred, sithen suche doinge doth villanye to him that may it not mayntayne. Wherfore thilke way to the knotte is croked; and if any desyre to come to the knot,[ ] he must leve this way on his lefte syde, or els shal he never come there.165
CHAPTER VII.[ ]
AVAYLETH aught (quod she) power of might in mayntenaunce of [men, to maken hem ] worthy to come to this knot?’
‘Pardè,’ quod I, ‘ye; for hertes ben ravisshed from suche5 maner thinges.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘though a fooles herte is with thing ravisshed, yet therfore is no general cause of the powers, ne of a siker parfit herte to be loked after. Was not Nero the moste shrewe oon of thilke that men rede, and yet had he power to10 make senatours justices, and princes of many landes? Was not that greet power?’
‘Yes, certes,’ quod I.
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘yet might he not helpe him-selfe out of disese , whan he gan falle. How many ensamples canst thou15 remembre of kinges grete and noble, and huge power †helden , and yet they might not kepe hem-selve from wrecchednesse? How wrecched was king Henry Curtmantil er he deyde? He had not so moche as to cover with his membres; and yet was he oon of the grettest kinges of al the Normandes ofspring, and moste20[ ] possession had. O! a noble thing and clere is power, that is not founden mighty to kepe him-selfe! Now , trewly, a greet fole is he, that for suche thing wolde sette the knotte in thyne herte! Also power of rëalmes , is not thilke grettest power amonges the worldly powers reckened? And if suche powers han wrecchednesse25 in hem-selfe, it foloweth other powers of febler condicion to ben wrecched; and than, that wrecchednesse shulde be cause of suche a knotte! But every wight that hath reson wot wel that wrecchednesse by no way may ben cause of none suche knotte; wherfore suche power is no cause. That powers have wrecchednesse30[ ] in hem-selfe, may right lightly ben preved. If power lacke on any syde, on that syde is no power; but no power is wrecchednesse: for al-be-it so the power of emperours or kinges, or els of their rëalmes (which is the power of the prince) strecchen wyde and brode, yet besydes is ther mokel folk of whiche he hath no commaundement ne lordshippe; and there-as lacketh his35 power, his nonpower entreth, where-under springeth that maketh hem wrecches. No power is wrecchednesse and nothing els; but in this maner hath kinges more porcion of wrecchednesse than of power. Trewly, suche powers ben unmighty; for ever[ ] they ben in drede how thilke power from lesing may be keped40 of sorow; so drede sorily prikkes ever in their hertes: litel is that power whiche careth and ferdeth it-selfe to mayntayne. Unmighty is that wrecchednesse whiche is entred by the ferdful weninge of the wrecche him-selfe; and knot y-maked by wrecchednesse is betwene wrecches; and wrecches al thing bewaylen;45 wherfore the knot shulde be bewayled; and there is no suche parfit blisse that we supposed at the ginning! Ergo, power in nothing shulde cause suche knottes. Wrecchednesse is a kyndely propertee in suche power, as by way of drede, whiche they mowe[ ] nat eschewe, ne by no way live in sikernesse. For thou wost wel50 (quod she) he is nought mighty that wolde don that he may not don ne perfourme.’
‘Therfore,’ quod I, ‘these kinges and lordes that han suffisaunce at the ful of men and other thinges, mowen wel ben holden mighty; their comaundementes ben don ; it is nevermore55 denyed.’
‘That is sothe,’ quod I.60
‘Than if he wot it, he must nedes ben a-drad to lesen it. He that wot of his might is in doute that he mote nedes lese; and so ledeth him drede to ben unmighty. And if he recche not to lese, litel is that worth that of the lesing reson reccheth nothing; and if it were mighty in power or in strength, the lesing shulde ben65 withset; and whan it cometh to the lesing, he may it not withsitte. Ergo, thilke might is leude and naughty. Such mightes arn y-lyke to postes and pillers that upright stonden, and greet might han to bere many charges; and if they croke on any syde, litel thing maketh hem overthrowe.’70
[ ] ‘Than holdest thou him mighty that hath many men armed75 and many servauntes; and ever he is adrad of hem in his herte; and, for he gasteth hem, somtyme he mot the more fere have. Comenly, he that other agasteth, other in him ayenward werchen the same; and thus warnisshedmot he be, and of warnisshe the hour drede. Litel is that might and right leude, who-so taketh80 hede.’
‘Than semeth it,’ quod I, ‘that suche famulers aboute kinges and grete lordes shulde greet might have. Although a sypher in augrim have no might in significacion of it-selve, yet he yeveth power in significacion to other; and these clepe I the helpes to85 a poste to kepe him from falling.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘thilke skilles ben leude. Why? But-if the shorers be wel grounded, the helpes shulden slyden and suffre the charge to falle ; her might litel avayleth.’
[ ] ‘That is sothe,’ quod she; ‘for as, [if ] the blynde in bering of the lame ginne stomble, bothe shulde falle , right so suche pillers, so envyroned with helpes, in falling of the grounde fayleth †altogider .95[ ]How ofte than suche famulers, in their moste pryde of prosperitè, ben sodainly overthrowen! Thou hast knowe many in a moment so ferre overthrowe, that cover might they[ ] never. Whan the hevinesse of suche fayling cometh by case of fortune, they mowe it not eschue; and might and power, if ther100 were any, shulde of strength such thinges voyde and weyve; and so it is not. Lo, than! whiche thing is this power, that, tho men han it, they ben agast; and in no tyme of ful having be they siker! And if they wold weyve drede, as they mow not, litel is in worthines. Fye therfore on so naughty thing, any knot to105[ ] cause! Lo! in adversitè, thilk ben his foes that glosed and semed frendes in welth; thus arn his familiers his foes and his enemyes; and nothing is werse, ne more mighty for to anoy than is a familier enemy ; and these thinges may they not weyve; so [ ] trewly their might is not worth a cresse. And over al thinge, he that may not withdrawe the brydel of his flesshly lustes and his110wrecched complayntes (now think on thy-selfe) trewly he is not mighty; I can seen no way that lyth to the knotte. Thilke people than, that setten their hertes upon suche mightes and[ ] powers, often ben begyled. Pardè, he is not mighty that may do any thing, that another may doon him the selve, and that men115 have as greet power over him as he over other. A justice that demeth men ayenward hath ben often demed. Buserusslew his gestes, and he was slayn of Hercules his geste. Hugest betraysshed many men, and of Collo was he betrayed. He that with[ ] swerde smyteth, with swerde shal be smitten.’120
Quod I tho, ‘me thinketh that, although a man by power have suche might over me, as I have over another, that disproveth no might in my person; but yet may I have power and might never-the-later.’
[ ] ‘See now ,’ quod she, ‘thyne owne leudenesse. He is mighty130 that may without wrecchednesse ; and he is unmighty that may it[ ] not withsitte; but than he, that might over thee , and he wol, putte on thee wrecchednesse , thou might it not withsitte. Ergo, thou seest thy-selfe what foloweth! But now (quod she) woldest thou not skorne, and thou see a flye han power to don harm to135 an-other flye, and thilke have no might ne ayenturning him-selfe to defende?’
‘Yes, certes,’ quod I
[ ] ‘Who is a frayler thing,’ quod she, ‘than the fleshly body of a man, over whiche have oftentyme flyes, and yet lasse thing than140 a flye, mokel might in grevaunce and anoying , withouten any withsittinge, for al thilke mannes mightes? And sithen thou seest thyne flesshly body in kyndely power fayle, how shulde than the accident of a thinge ben in more suretè of beinge than substancial? Wherfore, thilke thinges that we clepe power is but145 accident to the flesshly body; and so they may not have that suretee in might, whiche wanteth in the substancial body. Why there is no way to the knotte, [for him ] that loketh aright after the149 hye way , as he shulde.
CHAPTER VIII.[ ]
VERILY it is proved that richesse, dignitè, and power ben not trewe way to the knotte, but as rathe by suche thinges the knotte to be unbounde; wherfore on these thinges I rede no wight truste to gette any good knotte. But what shul we saye of5 renomè in the peoples mouthes? Shulde that ben any cause? What supposest thou in thyn herte?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘yes, I trowe; for your slye resons I dare not safely it saye.’
‘Than,’ quod she, ‘wol I preve that shrewes as rathe shul ben10 in the knotte as the good; and that were ayenst kynde.’
‘Fayn ,’ quod I, ‘wolde I that here; me thinketh wonder how renomè shuld as wel knitte a shrewe as a good person; renomè in every degree hath avaunced; yet wist I never the contrarye. Shulde than renomè accorde with a shrewe? It may not sinke in15 my stomake til I here more.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘have I not sayd alwayes, that shrewes shul not have the knotte?’
20‘Than,’ quod she, ‘the good ought thilke knotte to have.’
‘How els?’ quod I.
‘It were greet harm ,’ quod she, ‘that the good were weyved and put out of espoire of the knotte, if he it desyred.’
‘O,’ quod I, ‘alas! On suche thing to thinke, I wene that25 heven wepeth to see suche wronges here ben suffred on erthe; the good ought it to have, and no wight els.’
‘The goodnesse,’ quod she, ‘of a person may not ben knowe outforth but by renomè of the knowers; wherfore he must be renomed of goodnesse, to come to the knot.’
30‘So must it be,’ quod I, ‘or els al lost that we carpen.’
‘Sothly,’ quod she, ‘that were greet harm , but-if a good man might have his desyres in service of thilke knot, and a shrewe to be †weyved , and they ben not knowen in general but by lacking and praysing, and in renomè; and so by the consequence it foloweth, a shrewe to ben praysed and knit; and a good to be35 forsake and unknit.’
‘Nay,’ quod she, ‘and that shalt thou see as yerne; these elementes han contrarious qualitees in kynde, by whiche they mowe not acorde no more than good and badde; and in [some ] qualitees they acorde, so that contraries by qualitè acorden by qualitè. Is not erthe drye; and water, that is next and bitwene45 th’erthe , is wete? Drye and wete ben contrarie, and mowen not acorde, and yet this discordaunce is bounde to acorde by cloudes; for bothe elementes ben colde. Right so the eyre, that is next the water, is wete; and eke it is hot . This eyre by his hete contrarieth water that is cold ; but thilke contrarioustè is oned †by50 moysture; for bothe be they moyst. Also the fyr , that is next[ ] the †eyre and it encloseth al about, is drye, wherthrough it contrarieth †eyre , that is wete; and in hete they acorde; for bothe they ben hote. Thus by these acordaunces discordantes ben joyned, and in a maner of acordaunce they acorden by55conneccion , that is, knitting togither; of that accorde cometh a maner of melodye that is right noble. Right so good and bad arn contrarie in doinges, by lacking and praysing; good is bothe lacked and praysed of some; and badde is bothe lacked and praysed of some; wherfore their contrarioustee acorde bothe by60 lacking and praysing. Than foloweth it, though good be never so mokel praysed, [it ] oweth more to ben knit than the badde; or els bad, for the renomè that he hath, must be taken as wel as the good; and that oweth not.’
‘No, forsothe,’ quod I.65
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘than is renomè no way to the knot. Lo, foole,’ quod she, ‘how clerkes wryten of suche glorie of renomè:—“O [ ] glorie, glorie, thou art non other thing to thousandes of folke[ ] but a greet sweller of eeres!” Many oon hath had ful greet renomè70 by false opinion of variaunt people. And what is fouler than folk wrongfully to ben praysed, or by malice of the people giltlesse lacked? Nedes shame foloweth therof to hem that with wrong prayseth, and also to the desertes praysed; and vilanye and reproof of him that disclaundreth.
75[ ] Good child (quod she) what echeth suche renomè to the conscience of a wyse man, that loketh and mesureth his goodnesse, not by slevelesse wordes of the people, but by sothfastnesse of conscience? By god, nothing. And if it be fayr , a mans name be eched by moche folkes praysing, and fouler thing that mo folk80 not praysen? I sayd to thee a litel here beforn , that no folk in straunge countreyes nought praysen; suche renomè may not comen to their eeres, bycause of unknowing and other obstacles , as I sayde: wherfore more folk not praysen, and that is right foul to him that renomè desyreth, to wete, lesse folk praisen than85[ ] renomè enhaunce. I trowe, the thank of a people is naught worth in remembraunce to take; ne it procedeth of no wyse jugement; never is it stedfast pardurable. It is veyne and fleing; with winde wasteth and encreseth . Trewly, suche glorie ought to be hated. If gentillesse be a cleer thing , renomè and glorie to90 enhaunce, as in reckening of thy linage, than is gentilesse of thy kinne; for-why it semeth that gentilesse of thy kinne is but praysing and renomè that come of thyne auncestres desertes: and if so be that praysing and renomè of their desertes make their clere gentillesse, than mote they nedes ben gentil for their95 gentil dedes, and not thou; for of thy-selfe cometh not such maner gentilesse, praysinge of thy desertes. Than gentillesse of thyne auncesters, that forayne is to thee , maketh thee not gentil, but ungentil and reproved, and-if thou continuest not their[ ] gentilesse. And therfore a wyse man ones sayde: “Better is it100 thy kinne to ben by thee gentyled, than thou to glorifye of thy kinnes gentilesse, and hast no desert therof thy-selfe.”
[ ]How passinge is the beautee of flesshly bodyes, more flittinge than movable floures of sommer! And if thyne eyen weren as good as the lynx, that may seen thorow many stone walles, bothe fayre and foule , in their entrayles, of no maner hewe shulde apere to105 thy sight; that were a foule sight. Than is fayrnesse by feblesse of eyen, but of no kynde; wherfore thilke shulde be no way to the knot; whan thilke is went, the knotte wendeth after. Lo, now , at al proves, none of al these thinges mowe parfitly ben in understanding, to ben way to the during blisse of the knotte.110 But now , to conclusion of these maters, herkeneth these wordes. Very sommer is knowe from the winter: in shorter cours draweth the dayes of Decembre than in the moneth of June; the springes of Maye faden and †falowen in Octobre. These thinges ben not unbounden from their olde kynde; they have not lost her werke115 of their propre estat . Men, of voluntarious wil, withsitte that hevens governeth. Other thinges suffren thinges paciently to werche; man, in what estat he be, yet wolde he ben chaunged. Thus by queynt thinges blisse is desyred; and the fruit that cometh of these springes nis but anguis and bitter; al-though it120 be a whyle swete, it may not be with-holde; hastely they departe;[ ] thus al-day fayleth thinges that fooles wende. Right thus hast thou fayled in thy first wening. He that thinketh to sayle, and drawe after the course of the sterrede polo antartico, shal he never come northward to the contrarye sterre of polus articus; of whiche125 thinges if thou take kepe, thy first out-waye-going “prison” and “exile” may be cleped. The groundfalsed underneth, and so hast thou fayled. No wight, I wene, blameth him that stinteth in misgoing, and secheth redy way of his blisse. Now me[ ] thinketh (quod she) that it suffyseth in my shewing; the wayes130 by dignetè, richesse, renomè, and power, if thou loke clerely, arn no wayes to the knotte.’
[ ] ‘EVERY argument, lady,’ quod I tho, ‘that ye han maked in these fore-nempned maters, me thinketh hem in my ful witte conceyved; shal I no more, if god wil, in the contrarye be begyled. But fayn wolde I, and it were your wil, blisse of the knotte to me were declared. I might fele the better how my5 herte might assente, to pursue the ende in service, as he hath begonne.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘there is a melodye in heven, whiche clerkes clepen “armony ”; but that is not in brekinge of voice, but it is10 a maner swete thing of kyndely werching, that causeth joye[s] out of nombre to recken, and that is joyned by reson and by wysdome in a quantitè of proporcion of knitting. God made al thing in reson and in witte of proporcion of melody, we mowe not suffyse to shewe. It is written by grete clerkes and wyse, that,15 in erthly thinges, lightly by studye and by travayle the knowinge may be getten; but of suche hevenly melody, mokel travayle wol bringe out in knowing right litel. Swetenesse of this paradyse hath you ravisshed; it semeth ye slepten, rested from al other diseses ; so kyndely is your herte therein y-grounded. Blisse of20 two hertes, in ful love knitte, may not aright ben imagined; ever is their contemplacion, in ful of thoughty studye to plesaunce, mater in bringinge comfort everiche to other. And therfore, of erthly thinges, mokel mater lightly cometh in your lerning. Knowledge of understonding, that is nigh after eye, but not so25nigh the covetyse of knittinge in your hertes. More soverain desyr hath every wight in litel heringe of hevenly conninge than of mokel material purposes in erthe. Right so it is in propertee of my servauntes, that they ben more affiched in steringe of litel thinge in his desyr than of mokel other mater lasse in his30 conscience. This blisse is a maner of sowne delicious in a queynte voice touched, and no dinne of notes; there is non impression of breking labour . I can it not otherwyse nempne, for wantinge of privy wordes, but paradyse terrestre ful of delicious melody, withouten travayle in sown, perpetual service in ful joye35 coveyted to endure. Only kynde maketh hertes in understonding so to slepe, that otherwyse may it nat be nempned, ne in other maner names for lyking swetnesse can I nat it declare; al sugre and hony, al minstralsy and melody ben but soot and galle in comparison, by no maner proporcion to reken, in respect of this40 blisful joye. This armony, this melody, this perdurable joye may nat be in doinge but betwene hevens and elementes, or twey kyndly hertes ful knit in trouth of naturel understonding, withouten weninge and disceit; as hevens and planettes, whiche thinges continually, for kyndly accordaunces, foryeteth al contrarious mevinges, that in-to passive diseses may sowne; evermore it45 thirsteth after more werking. These thinges in proporcion be so wel joyned, that it undoth al thing whiche in-to badnesse by any way may be accompted.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘this is a thing precious and noble. Alas! that falsnesse ever, or wantrust shulde ever be maynteyned, this50 joye to voyde. Alas! that ever any wrecche shulde, thorow wrath or envy, janglinge dare make, to shove this melody so farre a-backe, that openly dar it nat ben used; trewly, wrecches ben fulfilled with envy and wrathe, and no wight els. Flebring and tales in suche wrecches dare appere openly in every wightes55 eere, with ful mouth so charged, [with ] mokel malice moved many innocentes to shende; god wolde their soule therwith were strangled! Lo! trouth in this blisse is hid, and over-al under covert him hydeth; he dar not come a-place, for waytinge of shrewes. Commenly, badnesse goodnesse amaistreth; with myselfe60 and my soule this joye wolde I bye, if the goodnesse were as moche as the nobley in melody.’
‘How els?’ quod I.
‘Envy, wrathe, and falsnesse ben general,’ quod she; ‘and that wot every man being in his right mynde; the knotte, the whiche we have in this blisse, is contrariaunt and distroyeth such maner yvels. Ergo, it is good. What hath caused any wight70 to don any good dede? Fynd me any good, but-if this knotte be the cheef cause. Nedes mot it be good, that causeth so many good dedes. Every cause is more and worthier than thing caused; and in that mores possession al thinges lesse ben compted. As the king is more than his people, and hath in75 possession al his rëalme after, right so the knot is more than[ ] al other goodes; thou might recken al thinges lasse; and that to him longeth, oweth in-to his mores cause of worship and of wil †to turne; it is els rebel and out of his mores defending to voyde. Right so of every goodnesse; in-to the knotte and80 in-to the cause of his worship [it ] oweth to tourne. And trewly, every thing that hath being profitably is good, but nothing hath to ben more profitably than this knot; kinges it mayntayneth, and hem, their powers to mayntayne. It maketh misse to ben85 amended with good governaunce in doing. It closeth hertes so togider, that rancour is out-thresten. Who that it lengest kepeth, lengest is glad[d]ed.’
‘I trowe,’ quod I, ‘heretykes and misse-mening people hence-forward wol maintayne this knotte; for therthorough shul they90 ben maintayned, and utterly wol turne and leve their olde yvel understanding, and knitte this goodnesse, and profer so ferre in service, that name of servauntes might they have. Their jangles shal cese ; me thinketh hem lacketh mater now to alege.’
‘Certes,’ quod Love, ‘if they, of good wil thus turned, as thou95 sayst, wolen trewly perfourme, yet shul they be abled party of this blisse to have; and they wol not, yet shul my servauntes the werre wel susteyne in myn helpe of maintenaunce to the ende. And they, for their good travayle, shullen in reward so ben meded, that endelesse joye body and soule †to-gider in this shullen100 abyden. There is ever accion of blisse withouten possible corrupcion; there is accion perpetuel in werke without travayle; there is everlasting passife, withouten any of labour; continuel plyte, without cesinge coveyted to endure. No tonge may telle , ne herte may thinke the leest point of this blisse.’
105‘God bring me thider!’ quod I than.
‘Continueth wel,’ quod she, ‘to the ende, and thou might not fayle than; for though thou spede not here, yet shal the passion of thy martred lyfe ben written, and rad toforn the grete Jupiter, that god is of routhe, an high in the holownesse of heven, there110 he sit in his trone; and ever thou shalt forward ben holden amonge al these hevins for a knight, that mightest with no penaunce ben discomfited. He is a very martyr that, livingly goinge, is gnawen to the bones.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘these ben good wordes of comfort ; a litel115 myne herte is rejoyced in a mery wyse.’
[ ] ‘Ye,’ quod she; ‘and he that is in heven felith more joye, than whan he firste herde therof speke.’
‘So it is,’ quod I; ‘but wist I the sothe, that after disese comfort wolde folowe with blisse, so as ye have often declared, I wolde wel suffre this passion with the better chere. But my120 thoughtful sorowe is endelesse, to thinke how I am cast out of a welfare; and yet dayneth not this yvel non herte, non hede, to meward throwe: which thinges wolde greetly me by wayes of comfort disporte, to weten in my-selfe a litel with other me[n] ben y-moved; and my sorowes peysen not in her balaunce the125 weyght of a peese. Slinges of her daunger so hevily peysen, they drawe my causes so hye, that in her eyen they semen but light and right litel.’
[ ] ‘O! for,’ quod she, ‘heven with skyes that foule cloudes maken and darke †weders , with gret tempestes and huge,130 maketh the mery dayes with softe shyning sonnes. Also the yere with-draweth floures and beautee of herbes and of erth;[ ] the same †yere maketh springes and jolitè in Vere so to renovel[ ] with peinted coloures, that erthe semeth as gay as heven. Sees that blasteth and with wawes throweth shippes, of whiche the135 living creatures for greet peril for hem dreden; right so, the same sees maketh smothe waters and golden sayling, and comforteth hem with noble haven that firste were so ferde. Hast[ ] thou not (quod she) lerned in thy youth, that Jupiter hath in his warderobe bothe garmentes of joye and of sorowe? What140 wost thou how soone he wol turne of the garment of care, and clothe thee in blisse? Pardè, it is not ferre fro thee . Lo, an olde proverbe aleged by many wyse:—“Whan bale is greetest , than is bote a nye-bore.” Wherof wilt thou dismaye? Hope wel and serve wel; and that shal thee save, with thy good bileve.’145
‘O,’ quod she, ‘I have mokel to done to clere thyne understanding, and voyde these errours out of thy mynde. I wol prove it by reson , thy wo may not alway enduren. Every thing150[ ] kyndely (quod she) is governed and ruled by the hevenly bodyes, whiche haven ful werchinge here on erthe; and after course of these bodyes, al course of your doinges here ben governed and ruled by kynde.
[ ] Thou wost wel, by cours of planettes al your dayes proceden;155 and to everich of singuler houres be enterchaunged stondmele about, by submitted worching naturally to suffre; of whiche changes cometh these transitory tymes that maketh revolving of your yeres thus stondmele; every hath ful might of worchinge,160 til al seven han had her course about. Of which worchinges and possession of houres the dayes of the weke have take her names, after denominacion in these seven planettes. Lo, your Sonday ginneth at the first hour after noon on the Saturday, in whiche hour is than the Sonne in ful might of worching; of whom Sonday165 taketh his name. Next him foloweth Venus, and after Mercurius, and than the Moone; so than Saturnus, after whom Jovis; and than Mars; and ayen than the Sonne; and so forth †by .xxiiii. houres togider; in whiche hour ginning in the seconde day stant the Moone, as maister for that tyme to rule; of whom170 Monday taketh his name; and this course foloweth of al other dayes generally in doing. This course of nature of these bodyes chaunging stinten at a certain terme, limitted by their first kynde; and of hem al governementes in this elemented worlde proceden, as in springes, constellacions, engendrures, and al that folowen175 kynde and reson; wherfore [in ] the course that foloweth, sorowe and joy kyndely moten entrechangen their tymes; so that alway oon wele, as alway oon wo, may not endure. Thus seest[ ] thou appertly, thy sorowe in-to wele mot ben chaunged; wherfore in suche case to better syde evermore enclyne thou shuldest.180[ ] Trewly, next the ende of sorowe anon entreth joy; by maner of necessitè it wol ne may non other betyde; and so thy conti[n]gence is disproved; if thou holde this opinion any more, thy wit is right leude. Wherfore, in ful conclusion of al this, thilke Margaryte thou desyrest hath ben to thee dere in thy herte, and185 for her hast thou suffred many thoughtful diseses ; herafter shal [she ] be cause of mokel mirth and joye; and loke how glad canst thou ben, and cese al thy passed hevinesse with manifolde joyes. And than wol I as blythly here thee speken thy mirthes in joye , as I now have y-herd thy sorowes and thy complayntes.190 And if I mowe in aught thy joye encrese , by my trouthe, on my syde shal nat be leved for no maner traveyle, that I with al my mightes right blythly wol helpe, and ever ben redy you bothe to plese.’ And than thanked I that lady with al goodly maner that I worthily coude; and trewly I was greetly rejoysed in myne herte of her fayre behestes; and profered me to be195slawe , in al that she me wolde ordeyne, while my lyf lested.
‘[ ] ME thinketh,’ quod I, ‘that ye have right wel declared, that way to the knot shuld not ben in none of these disprovinge thinges; and now , order of our purpos this asketh, that ye shulde me shewe if any way be †thider , and whiche thilke way shulde ben; so that openly may be seye the verry5 hye way in ful confusioun of these other thinges.’
[ ] ‘Thou shalt,’ quod she, ‘understande that [of ] one of three lyves (as I first sayd) every creature of mankynde is sprongen, and so forth procedeth. These lyves ben thorow names departed in three maner of kyndes, as bestialliche, manliche, and resonabliche;10 of whiche two ben used by flesshely body, and the thirde by his soule. “Bestial” among resonables is forboden in every lawe and every secte, bothe in Cristen and other; for every wight dispyseth hem that liveth by lustes and delytes, as him that is thral and bounden servaunt to thinges right foule; suche15 ben compted werse than men; he shal nat in their degree ben rekened, ne for suche one alowed. Heritykes, sayn they, chosen lyf bestial, that voluptuously liven; so that (as I first sayde to thee ) in manly and resonable livinges our mater was to declare; but [by ] “manly” lyfe, in living after flesshe, or els flesshly wayes20 to chese, may nat blisse in this knotte be conquered, as by reson it is proved. Wherfore by “resonable” lyfe he must nedes it have, sithe a way is to this knotte, but nat by the firste tway lyves; wherfore nedes mot it ben to the thirde; and for to live in flesshe, but nat after flessh, is more resonablich than manliche rekened25 by clerkes. Therfore how this way cometh in, I wol it blythely declare.
[ ]See now (quod she) that these bodily goodes of manliche livinges yelden †sorowfulle stoundes and smertande houres. Whoso †wol remembre him to their endes, in their worchinges they30 ben thoughtful and sorie. Right as a bee that hath had his hony, anon at his flight beginneth to stinge; so thilke bodily goodes at the laste mote awaye, and than stinge they at her goinge, wherthrough entreth and clene voydeth al blisse of this knot.’
35‘Forsothe,’ quod I, ‘me thinketh I am wel served, in shewing of these wordes. Although I hadde litel in respect among other[ ]grete and worthy, yet had I a fair parcel, as me thought, for the tyme, in forthering of my sustenaunce; whiche while it dured, I thought me havinge mokel hony to myne estat . I had richesse40 suffisauntly to weyve nede; I had dignitè to be reverenced in worship. Power me thought that I had to kepe fro myne enemyes, and me semed to shyne in glorie of renomè as manhood asketh in mene; for no wight in myne administracion coude non yvels ne trechery by sothe cause on me putte. Lady, your-selve45[ ] weten wel, that of tho confederacies maked by my soverains I nas but a servaunt, and yet mokel mene folk wol fully ayenst reson thilke maters maynteyne, in whiche mayntenaunce [they ] glorien them-selfe; and, as often ye haven sayd , therof ought nothing in yvel to be layd to me-wardes, sithen as repentaunt50 I am tourned, and no more I thinke, neither tho thinges ne none suche other to sustene, but utterly distroye, without medlinge maner, in al my mightes. How am I now cast out of al swetnesse of blisse, and mischevously [is ] stongen my passed joy! Soroufully muste I bewayle, and live as a wrecche .
55Every of tho joyes is tourned in-to his contrary. For richesse, now have I povertè; for dignitè, now am I emprisoned; in stede of power, wrecchednesse I suffre; and for glorie of renomè, I am now dispysed and foulich hated. Thus hath farn Fortune , that sodaynly am I overthrowen, and out of al welth dispoyled.60 Trewly, me thinketh this way in entree is right hard ; god graunt me better grace er it be al passed; the other way, lady , me thought right swete.’
‘Now , certes,’ quod Love, ‘me list for to chyde. What ayleth thy darke dulnesse? Wol it nat in clerenesse ben sharped?65 Have I nat by many resons to thee shewed, suche bodily goodes faylen to yeve blisse, their might so ferforth wol nat strecche ? Shame (quod she) it is to say, thou lyest in thy wordes. Thou[ ] ne hast wist but right fewe that these bodily goodes had al atones; commenly they dwellen nat togider. He that plentè hath in riches, of his kinne is ashamed; another of linage right noble and wel70 knowe, but povert him handleth; he were lever unknowe. Another hath these, but renomè of peoples praysing may he nat have; overal he is hated and defamed of thinges right foule. Another is fair and semely, but dignitè him fayleth; and he that hath dignitè is croked or lame, or els misshapen and foully dispysed.75 Thus partable these goodes dwellen commenly; in one houshold ben they but slide . Lo! how wrecched is your truste on thing that wol nat accorde! Me thinketh, thou clepest thilke plyte thou were in “selinesse of fortune”; and thou sayest, for that the selinesse is departed, thou art a wrecch . Than foloweth80[ ] this upon thy wordes; every soule resonable of man may nat dye; and if deth endeth selinesse and maketh wrecches , as nedes of fortune maketh it an ende. Than soules, after deth of the body,[ ] in wrecchednesse shulde liven. But we knowe many that han geten the blisse of heven after their deth. How than may this85lyf maken men blisful, that whan it passeth it yeveth no wrecchednesse, and many tymes blisse, if in this lyfe he con live as he[ ] shulde? And wolt thou acompt with Fortune, that now at [t]he first she hath don thee tene and sorowe? If thou loke to the maner of al glad thinges and sorouful, thou mayst nat nay it, that90 yet, and namely now , thou standest in noble plyte in a good ginning, with good forth-going herafter. And if thou wene to be a wrecch , for such welth is passed, why than art thou nat wel fortunate, for badde thinges and anguis wrecchednesse ben passed? Art thou now come first in-to the hostry of this lyfe, or els the95both of this worlde? Art thou now a sodayn gest in-to this wrecched exile? Wenest there be any thing in this erthe stable? Is nat thy first arest passed, that brought thee in mortal sorowe? Ben these nat mortal thinges agon with ignorance of beestial wit, and hast receyved reson in knowing of vertue? What comfort is100 in thy herte , the knowinge sikerly in my service [to ] be grounded? And wost thou nat wel, as I said, that deth maketh ende of al fortune? What than? Standest thou in noble plyte, litel hede or recking to take, if thou let fortune passe dy[i]ng , or els that105[ ] she fly whan her list, now by thy lyve? Pardy, a man hath nothing so leef as his lyf ; and for to holde that, he doth al his cure and diligent traveyle. Than, say I, thou art blisful and fortunat sely, if thou knowe thy goodes that thou hast yet †beleved , whiche nothing may doute that they ne ben more worthy110 than thy lyf?’
‘What is that?’ quod I.
‘Good contemplacion ,’ quod she, ‘of wel-doing in vertue in tyme coming, bothe in plesaunce of me and of thy Margarit-peerle. Hastely thyn hert in ful blisse with her shal be esed . Therfore dismay115thee nat; Fortune, in hate grevously ayenst thy bodily person, ne yet to gret tempest hath she nat sent to thee , sithen the holding cables and ankers of thy lyfe holden by knitting so faste, that thou discomforte thee nought of tyme that is now, ne dispayre thee not of tyme to come, but yeven theecomfort in hope of120 weldoing, and of getting agayn the double of thy lesing, with encresing love of thy Margarite-perle therto! For this, hiderto, thou hast had al her ful daunger; and so thou might amende al that is misse and al defautes that somtyme thou diddest; and that now, in al thy tyme, to that ilke Margaryte in ful service of125 my lore thyne herte hath continued; wherfore she ought moche[ ] the rather enclyne fro her daungerous sete. These thinges ben yet knit by the holding anker in thy lyve, and holden mote they; to god I pray, al these thinges at ful ben perfourmed. For whyle this anker holdeth, I hope thou shalt safely escape; and [in a ]130 whyle thy trewe-mening service aboute bringe, in dispyte of al false meners that thee of-newe haten; for [in ] this trewe service thou art now entred.’
[ ] ‘Certayn ,’ quod I, ‘among thinges I asked a question, whiche was the way to the knot. Trewly, lady, how-so it be I tempt you135 with questions and answers, in speking of my first service, I am now in ful purpos in the pricke of the herte , that thilke service was an enprisonment, and alway bad and naughty, in no maner to be desyred; ne that, in getting of the knot, may it nothing aveyle. A wyse gentil herte loketh after vertue, and none other bodily joyes alone. And bycause toforn this in tho wayes I was140set , I wot wel my-selfe I have erred, and of the blisse fayled; and so out of my way hugely have I ronne .’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘that is sothe; and there thou hast miswent, eschewe the path from hens-forward , I rede. Wonder I trewly why the mortal folk of this worlde seche these ways outforth;145 and it is preved in your-selfe. Lo, how ye ben confounded with errour and folly! The knowing of very cause and way is[ ] goodnesse and vertue. Is there any thing to thee more precious than thy-selfe? Thou shalt have in thy power that thou woldest never lese, and that in no way may be taken fro thee ; and thilke150 thing is that is cause of this knot. And if deth mowe it nat reve more than an erthly creature, thilke thing than abydeth with thy-selfe soule. And so, our conclusion to make, suche a knot, thus getten, abydeth with this thinge and with the soule, as long as theylaste . A soule dyeth never; vertu and goodnesse evermore155 with the soule endureth; and this knot is parfit blisse. Than this soule in this blisse endlesse shal enduren. Thus shul hertes of a trewe knot ben esed : thus shul their soules ben plesed : thus perpetually in joye shul they singe.’
‘In good trouth,’ quod I, ‘here is a good beginning; yeve us160 more of this way.’
EVERY soule of reson hath two thinges of stering lyf , oon in vertue, and another in the bodily workinge; and whan the soule is the maister over the body, than is a man maister of him-selfe. And a man, to be a maister over him-selfe, liveth in vertu and in goodnesse, and as reson of vertue techeth. So the soule and the5 body, worching vertue togider, liven resonable lyf , whiche clerkes clepen “felicitè in living ”; and therein is the hye way to this knot. These olde philosophers, that hadden no knowing of divine grace, of kyndly reson alone, wenden that of pure nature, withouten any 10 helpe of grace, me might have y-shoned th’other livinges .[ ] Resonably have I lived; and for I thinke herafter, if god wol, and I have space, thilke grace after my leude knowing declare, I leve it as at this tyme. But, as I said, he that out-forth loketh after the wayes of this knot, [his ] conning with whiche he shulde15 knowe the way in-forth, slepeth for the tyme. Wherfore he that wol this way knowe, must leve the loking after false wayes outforth, and open the eyen of his conscience, and unclose his herte. Seest nat, he that hath trust in the bodily lyfe is so besy bodily woundes to anointe , in keping from smert (for al-out may they nat20 be heled ), that of woundes in his true understanding he taketh no hede; the knowing evenforth slepeth so harde: but anon, as in knowing awake, than ginneth the prevy medicynes, for heling of his trewe intent, inwardes lightly †helen conscience, if it be wel handled. Than must nedes these wayes come out of the soule25 by stering lyfe of the body; and els may no man come to parfit blisse of this knotte. And thus, by this waye, he shal come to the knotte, and to the parfit selinesse that he wende have had in bodily goodes outforth.’
‘Ye,’ quod I, ‘shal he have both knot, riches, power, dignitè,30 and renomè in this maner way ?’
‘Ye,’ quod she, ‘that shal I shewe thee . Is he nat riche that hath suffisaunce, and hath the power that no man may amaistrien? Is nat greet dignitè to have worship and reverence? And hath he nat glorie of renomè, whos name perpetual is during, and out35 of nombre in comparacion ?’
‘These be thinges that men wenen to getten outforth,’ quod I.
‘Ye,’ quod she; ‘they that loken after a thing that nought is therof, in al ne in partie, longe mowe they gapen after!’
‘That is sothe,’ quod I.
40[ ] ‘Therefore,’ quod she, ‘they that sechen gold in grene trees, and wene to gader precious stones among vynes, and layn her nettes in mountains to fisshe, and thinken to hunte in depe sees after hart and hynd , and sechen in erth thilke thinges that surmounteth heven, what may I of hem say, but folisshe ignoraunce misledeth45 wandring wrecches by uncouth wayes that shulden be forleten, and maketh hem blynde fro the right pathe of trewe way that shulde ben used? Therfore, in general, errour in mankynde departeth thilke goodes by mis-seching , whiche he shulde have hole, and he sought by reson . Thus goth he begyled of that he sought; in his hode men have blowe a jape.’50
‘That shal I proven,’ quod she. ‘What power hath any man to lette another of living in vertue? For prisonment, or any other disese, [if ] he take it paciently, discomfiteth he nat; the55[ ] tyrant over his soule no power may have. Than hath that man, so tourmented, suche power, that he nil be discomfit; ne overcome may he nat ben, sithen pacience in his soule overcometh, and †is nat overcomen. Suche thing that may nat be a-maistred, he hath nede to nothing; for he hath suffisaunce y-now , to helpe60 him-selfe. And thilke thing that thus hath power and suffisance, and no tyrant may it reve, and hath dignitè to sette at nought al thinges, here it is a greet dignitè, that deth may a-maistry. Wherfore thilke power [with ] suffisaunce, so enclosed with dignitè, by al reson renomè must have. This is thilke riches with suffisaunce65 ye sholde loke after; this is thilke worshipful dignitè ye shulde coveyte ; this is thilke power of might, in whiche ye shulde truste; this is the ilke renomè of glorie that endlesse endureth; and al nis but substaunce in vertuous lyving .’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘al this is sothe; and so I see wel that vertue70 with ful gripe encloseth al these thinges. Wherfore in sothe I may saye, by my trouth, vertue of my Margarite brought me first in-to your service, to have knitting with that jewel, nat sodain longinges ne folkes smale wordes, but only our conversacion togider; and than I, seinge th’entent of her trewe mening with75 florisshing vertue of pacience, that she used nothing in yvel, to quyte the wicked lesinges that false tonges ofte in her have laid , I have seye it my-selfe, goodly foryevenesse hath spronge out of her herte . Unitè and accord , above al other thinges, she desyreth in a good meke maner; and suffereth many wicked80 tales.
‘Ye,’ quod she, ‘I have thee excused; al suche thinges as yet85 mowe nat be redressed; thy Margarites vertue I commende wel the more, that paciently suche anoyes suffreth. David king was meke, and suffred mokel hate and many yvel speches; no despyt ne shame that his enemys him deden might nat move pacience out of his herte, but ever in one plyte mercy he used. Wherfore90 god him-selfe took reward to the thinges; and theron suche punisshment let falle . Trewly, by reson , it ought be ensample of drede to al maner peoples mirth. A man vengeable in wrath no governance in punisshment ought to have. Plato had a cause his servant to †scourge , and yet cleped he his neibour to performe the95 doinge; him-selfe wolde nat, lest wrath had him a-maistred; and so might he have layd on to moche: evermore grounded vertue sheweth th’ entent fro within. And trewly, I wot wel, for her goodnesse and vertue, thou hast desyred my service to her plesance wel the more; and thy-selfe therto fully hast profered.’
100‘Good lady,’ quod I, ‘is vertue the hye way to this knot that long we have y-handled?’
‘Ye, forsoth,’ quod she, ‘and without vertue, goodly this knot may nat be goten.’
‘Ah! now I see ,’ quod I, ‘how vertu in me fayleth; and I, as105 a seer tree , without burjoning or frute, alwaye welke; and so I stonde in dispeyre of this noble knot; for vertue in me hath no maner workinge. A! wyde-where aboute have I traveyled!’
‘Pees ,’ quod she, ‘of thy first way; thy traveyle is in ydel;110 and, as touchinge the seconde way, I see wel thy meninge . Thou woldest conclude me, if thou coudest, bycause I brought thee to service; and every of my servantes I helpe to come to this blisse, as I sayd here-beforn . And thou saydest thy-selfe, thou mightest nat be holpen as thou wenest , bycause that vertue in115thee fayleth; and this blisse parfitly without vertue may nat be goten; thou wenest of these wordes contradiccion to folowe. Pardè, at the hardest, I have no servant but he be vertuous in dede and thought. I brought thee in my service, yet art thou nat my servant; but I say, thou might so werche in vertue herafter,120 that than shalt thou be my servant, and as for my servant [ ] acompted. For habit maketh no monk ; ne weringe of gilte spurres maketh no knight. Never-the-later, in confort of thyne herte, yet wol I otherwyse answere.’
‘Certes, lady,’ quod I tho, ‘so ye muste nedes; or els I had nigh caught suche a †cardiacle for sorowe, I wot it wel, I shulde125 it never have recovered. And therfore now I praye [thee ] to enforme me in this; or els I holde me without recovery . I may nat long endure til this lesson be lerned, and of this mischeef the remedy knowen.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘be nat wroth ; for there is no man on-lyve130 that may come to a precious thing longe coveited, but he somtyme suffre teneful diseses : and wenest thy-selfe to ben unliche to al other? That may nat ben. And with the more sorowe that a thing is getten, the more he hath joye the like thing afterwardes to kepe; as it fareth by children in scole , that for lerninge arn135beten , whan their lesson they foryetten. Commenly, after a good disciplyning with a yerde, they kepe right wel doctrine of their scole .’
RIGHT with these wordes, on this lady I threw up myne eyen, to see her countenaunce and her chere; and she, aperceyving this fantasye in myne herte, gan her semblaunt goodly on me caste, and sayde in this wyse.
‘It is wel knowe, bothe to reson and experience in doinge,5 every active worcheth on his passive; and whan they ben togider, “active” and “passive” ben y-cleped by these philosophers. If fyr be in place chafinge thing able to be chafed or hete[d] , and thilke thinges ben set in suche a distaunce that the oon may werche, the other shal suffre. Thilke Margarite thou desyrest is10 ful of vertue, and able to be active in goodnesse: but every herbe sheweth his vertue outforth from within. The sonne yeveth light, that thinges may be seye . Every fyr heteth thilke thing that it[ ] †neigheth , and it be able to be hete[d] . Vertue of this Margarite 15 outforth †wercheth ; and nothing is more able to suffre worching, or worke cacche of the actife, but passife of the same actife; and no passife, to vertues of this Margaryte, but thee , in al my Donet can I fynde! So that her vertue muste nedes on thee werche; in what place ever thou be, within distaunce of her worthinesse,20 as her very passife thou art closed. But vertue may thee nothing profyte, but thy desyr be perfourmed, and al thy sorowes cesed . Ergo, through werchinge of her vertue thou shalt esely ben holpen, and driven out of al care, and welcome to this longe by thee desyred!’
25‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘this is a good lesson in ginning of my joye; but wete ye wel forsothe, though I suppose she have moche vertue, I wolde my spousaile were proved, and than may I live out of doute, and rejoice me greetly , in thinking of tho vertues so shewed.’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod I; ‘so I sayd; and so it is.’
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘every-thing kyndly sheweth it-selfe; this35 jewel, closed in a blewe shel, [by ] excellence of coloures sheweth vertue from within; and so every wight shulde rather loke to the propre vertue of thinges than to his forayne goodes. If a thing be engendred of good mater, comenly and for the more part , it foloweth, after the congelement, vertue of the first mater (and40 it be not corrupt with vyces) to procede with encrees of good vertues; eke right so it fareth of badde. Trewly, greet excellence in vertue of linage, for the more part , discendeth by kynde to the succession in vertues to folowe. Wherfore I saye, the †colour of every Margarit sheweth from within the fynesse in vertue.45[ ] Kyndely heven, whan mery †weder is a-lofte, apereth in mannes eye of coloure in blewe, stedfastnesse in pees betokening within and without. Margaryte is engendred by hevenly dewe, and sheweth in it-selfe, by fynenesse of colour , whether the engendrure were maked on morowe or on eve; thus sayth kynde of this50 perle. This precious Margaryte that thou servest, sheweth it-selfe discended, by nobley of vertue, from this hevenlich dewe, norisshed and congeled in mekenesse , that †moder is of al vertues; and, by werkes that men seen withouten, the significacion of the coloures ben shewed, mercy and pitee in the herte, with pees to al other; and al this is y-closed in a muskle, who-so redily these vertues loken.55 Al thing that hath soule is reduced in-to good by mene thinges, as thus: In-to god man is reduced by soules resonable; and so forthbeestes , or bodyes that mowe not moven, after place ben reduced in-to manne by beestes †mene that moven from place to place. So that thilke bodyes that han felinge soules, and move60 not from places, holden the lowest degree of soulinge thinges in felinge; and suche ben reduced in-to man by menes . So it foloweth, the muskle, as †moder of al vertues, halt the place of mekenesse, to his lowest degree discendeth downe of heven, and there, by a maner of virgine engendrure, arn these Margarytes65 engendred, and afterward congeled. Made not mekenesse so lowe the hye heven, to enclose and cacche out therof so noble a dewe, that after congelement, a Margaryte , with endelesse vertue and everlasting joy, was with ful vessel of grace yeven to every creature, that goodly wolde it receyve?’70
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘these thinges ben right noble; I have er this herd these same sawes.’
‘Than,’ quod she, ‘thou wost wel these thinges ben sothe?’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod I, ‘at the ful.’
[ ] ‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘yet wolde I have better declared, vertues in this Margarite kyndely to ben grounded.’
‘That shal I shew thee ,’ quod she, ‘and thou woldest it lerne.’80
‘Lerne?’ quod I, ‘what nedeth suche wordes? Wete ye nat wel, lady, your-selfe, that al my cure, al my diligence, and al my might, have turned by your counsayle, in plesaunce of that perle? Al my thought and al my studye, with your helpe, desyreth, in worshippe [of ] thilke jewel, to encrese al my travayle and al my85 besinesse in your service, this Margaryte to gladde in some halve. Me were lever her honour, her plesaunce, and her good chere thorow me for to be mayntayned and kept , and I of suche thinge in her lykinge to be cause, than al the welthe of bodily goodes ye90 coude recken. And wolde never god but I putte my-selfe in greet jeopardy of al that I †welde , (that is now no more but my luf alone), rather than I shulde suffre thilke jewel in any pointe ben blemisshed; as ferre as I may suffre, and with my mightes strecche .’
‘O! good †god ,’ quod I, ‘why tempte ye me and tene with suche maner speche? I wolde graunt that, though I shulde anon100 dye; and, by my trouthe, fighte in the quarel, if any wight wolde countreplede.’
‘It is so moche the lighter,’ quod Love, ‘to prove our entent.’
‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘but yet wolde I here how ye wolde prove that she were good by resonable skil, that it mowe not ben denyed.105 For although I knowe, and so doth many other, manifold goodnesse and vertue in this Margaryte ben printed, yet some men there ben that no goodnesse speken; and, wher-ever your wordes ben herd and your resons ben shewed, suche yvel spekers , lady, by auctoritè of your excellence, shullen be stopped and ashamed!110 And more, they that han non aquayntaunce in her persone, yet mowe they knowe her vertues, and ben the more enfourmed in what wyse they mowe sette their hertes, whan hem liste in-to your service any entree make. For trewly al this to beginne, I wot[ ] wel my-selfe that thilke jewel is so precious perle, as a womanly115 woman in her kynde; in whom of goodnesse, of vertue, and also of answeringe shappe of limmes, and fetures so wel in al pointes acording, nothing fayleth. I leve that kynde her made with greet studye; for kynde in her person nothing hath foryet [en], and that is wel sene. In every good wightes herte she hath grace of120 commending and of vertuous praysing. Alas! that ever kynde made her deedly ! Save only in that, I wot wel, that Nature, in fourminge of her, in no-thinge hath erred.’
‘I not,’ quod I.
‘Than is wonder,’ quod I, ‘how yvel thinges comen a-place, sithen that al thinges weren right good.’
‘Thus,’ quod she, ‘I wol declare. Everiche qualitè and every accion , and every thing that hath any maner of beinge, it is of god; and god it made, of whom is al goodnesse and al being.10[ ] Of him is no badnesse. Badde to be, is naught; good to be, is somwhat; and therfore good and being is oon in understanding.’
‘How may this be?’ quod I. ‘For often han shrewes me assailed, and mokel badnesse therin have I founden; and so me15 semeth bad to be somwhat in kynde.’
‘Thou shalt,’ quod she, ‘understande that suche maner badnesse, whiche is used to purifye wrong-doers , is somwhat; and god it made, and being [it ] hath; and that is good. Other badnesse no being hath utterly; it is in the negative of somwhat, and that is20 naught and nothing being. The parties essential of being arn sayd in double wyse, as that it is; and these parties ben founde in every creature. For al thing, a this halfe the first being, is being through participacion, taking partie of being; so that [in ] every creature is difference bitwene being of him through whom25 it is, and his own being. Right as every good is a maner of being, so is it good thorow being; for it is naught other to be. And every thing, though it be good, is not of him-selfe good; but it is good by that it is ordinable to the greet goodnesse. This dualitè, after clerkes †determinison , is founden in every30 creature, be it never so single of onhed.’
‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘but there-as it is y-sayd that god †saw everything of his making, and [they ] were right good (as your-selfe sayd to me not longe tyme sithen), I aske whether every creature 35[ ] is y-sayd “good” through goodnesse unfourmed eyther els fourmed; and afterward , if it be accept utterly good?’
‘I shal say thee ,’ quod she. ‘These grete passed clerkes han devyded good in-to good being alone, and that is nothing but †god , for nothing is good in that wyse but god: also, in good by40participacion , and that is y-cleped “good” for far fet and representative of †godly goodnesse. And after this maner manyfold good is sayd, that is to saye, good in kynde, and good in gendre, and good of grace, and good of joy. Of good in kynde Austensayth , “al that ben, ben good.” But peraunter thou woldest45 wete, whether of hem-selfe it be good, or els of anothers goodnesse: for naturel goodnesse of every substaunce is nothing els than his substancial being, which is y-cleped “goodnesse” after comparison that he hath to his first goodnesse, so as it is inductatife by menes in-to the first goodnesse. Boece sheweth this thing at the ful, that50 this name “good” is, in general, name in kynde, as it is comparisoned generally to his principal ende, which is god, knotte of al goodnesse. Every creature cryeth “god us made”; and so they han ful apeted to thilke god by affeccion such as to hem longeth; and in this wyse al thinges ben good of the gret god,55 which is good alone.’
‘This wonder thing,’ quod I, ‘how ye have by many resons proved my first way to be errour and misgoing, and cause[d] of badnesse and feble meninge in the grounde ye aleged to be roted. Whence is it that suche badnesse hath springes, sithen al thinges60 thus in general ben good, and badnesse hath no being, as ye have declared? I wene, if al things ben good, I might than with the first way in that good have ended, and so by goodnesse have comen to blisse in your service desyred.’
‘Al thing,’ quod she, ‘is good by being in participacion out of65 the firste goodnesse, whiche goodnesse is corrupt by badnesse and badde-mening maners. God hath [ordeyned ] in good thinges, that they ben good by being, and not in yvel; for there is absence of rightful love. For badnesse is nothing but only yvel wil of the user, and through giltes of the doer; wherfore, at the ginninge of70 the worlde, every thing by him-selfe was good; and in universal they weren right good. An eye or a hand is fayrer and betterer in a body set , in his kyndely place , than from the body dissevered . Every thing in his kyndly place, being kyndly, good doth werche; and, out of that place voyded, it dissolveth and is defouled himselve. Our noble god, in gliterande wyse, by armony this world75 ordeyned, as in purtreytures storied with colours medled, in whiche blacke and other derke colours commenden the golden and the asured paynture; every put in kyndely place, oon , besyde another, more for other glitereth. Right so litel fayr maketh right fayr more glorious; and right so, of goodnesse, and of other80 thinges in vertue. Wherfore other badde and not so good perles as this Margaryte that we han of this matier, yeven by the ayre litel goodnesse and litel vertue, [maken ] right mokel goodnesse and vertue in thy Margaryte to ben proved, in shyning wyse to be founde and shewed. How shulde ever goodnesse of pees have85 ben knowe, but-if unpees somtyme reigne, and mokel yvel †wrathe ? How shulde mercy ben proved, and no trespas were, by due justificacion, to be punisshed? Therfore grace and goodnesse of a wight is founde; the sorouful hertes in good meninge to endure, ben comforted; unitè and acord bitwene hertes knit in joye to90 abyde. What? wenest thou I rejoyce or els accompte him among my servauntes that plesethPallas in undoinge of Mercurye, al-be-it that to Pallas he be knit by tytle of lawe, not according to resonable conscience, and Mercurie in doinge have grace to ben suffered; or els him that †weyveth the moone for fayrenesse of95 the eve-sterre? Lo! otherwhyle by nightes, light of the moone greetly comforteth in derke thoughtes and blynde. Understanding of love yeveth greet gladnesse. Who-so list not byleve, whan a sothe tale is shewed, a deweand a deblys his name is entred. Wyse folk and worthy in gentillesse, bothe of vertue and of100 livinge, yeven ful credence in sothnesse of love with a good herte , there-as good evidence or experience in doinge sheweth not the contrarie. Thus mightest thou have ful preef in thy Margarytes goodnesse, by commendement of other jewels badnesse and yvelnesse in doing. Stoundemele diseses yeveth several houres105 in joye.’
‘Now , by my trouthe,’ quod I, ‘this is wel declared, that my Margaryte is good; for sithen other ben good, and she passeth manye other in goodnesse and vertue; wherthrough , by maner110 necessarie, she muste be good. And goodnesse of this Margaryte is nothing els but vertue; wherfore she is vertuous; and if there fayled any vertue in any syde, there were lacke of vertue. Badde nothing els is, ne may be, but lacke and want of good and goodnesse; and so shulde she have that same lacke, that is to saye,115[ ] badde; and that may not be. For she is good; and that is good, me thinketh, al good; and so, by consequence, me semeth, vertuous, and no lacke of vertue to have. But the sonne is not knowe but he shyne; ne vertuous herbes, but they have her kynde werchinge; ne vertue, but it strecche in goodnesse or profyt to another, is no120 vertue. Than, by al wayes of reson , sithen mercy and pitee ben moste commended among other vertues, and they might never ben shewed, [unto ] refresshement of helpe and of comfort , but now at my moste nede; and that is the kynde werkinge of these vertues; trewly, I wene, I shal not varye from these helpes. Fyr ,125 and-if he yeve non hete , for fyre is not demed. The sonne, but he shyne, for sonne is not accompted. Water, but it wete, the name shal ben chaunged. Vertue, but it werche, of goodnesse doth it fayle; and in-to his contrarie the name shal ben reversed. And these ben impossible; wherfore the contradictorie, that is130 necessarye, nedes muste I leve .’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘in thy person and out of thy mouthe these wordes lyen wel to ben said, and in thyne understanding to be leved, as in entent of this Margaryte alone. And here now my speche in conclusion of these wordes.
CHAPTER XIV.[ ]
IN these thinges,’ quod she, ‘that me list now to shewe openly, shal be founde the mater of thy sicknesse, and what shal ben the medicyn that may be thy sorowes lisse and comfort, as wel thee as al other that amisse have erred and out of5 the way walked, so that any drope of good wil in amendement [may] ben dwelled in their hertes. Proverbes of Salomon openly techeth, how somtyme an innocent walkid by the way in blyndnesse of a derke night; whom mette a woman (if it be leefly to saye) as a strumpet arayed, redily purveyed in turninge of thoughtes with veyne janglinges, and of rest inpacient, by dissimulcion10 of my termes, saying in this wyse: “Com , and be we dronken of our swete pappes; use we coveitous collinges.” And thus drawen was this innocent, as an oxe to the larder.’
‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘to me this is a queynte thing to understande; I praye you, of this parable declare me the entent.’15
‘This innocent,’ quod she, ‘is a scoler lerninge of my lore, in seching of my blisse, in whiche thinge the day of his thought turning enclyneth in-to eve; and the sonne, of very light faylinge, maketh derke night in his conninge. Thus in derknesse of many doutes he walketh, and for blyndenesse of understandinge, he ne20wot in what waye he is in; forsothe, suche oon may lightly ben begyled. To whom cam love fayned, not clothed of my livery, but [of] unlefful lusty habit , with softe speche and mery; and with fayre honyed wordes heretykes and mis-meninge people skleren and wimplen their errours. Austen witnesseth of an25heretyk , that in his first beginninge he was a man right expert in resons and swete in his wordes; and the werkes miscorden. Thus fareth fayned love in her firste werchinges. Thou knowest these thinges for trewe; thou hast hem proved by experience somtyme, in doing to thyne owne person; in whiche thing thou hast30 founde mater of mokel disese. Was not fayned love redily purveyed, thy wittes to cacche and tourne thy good thoughtes? Trewly, she hath wounded the conscience of many with florisshinge of mokel jangling wordes; and good worthe thanked I it for no glose. I am glad of my prudence thou hast so manly her35[ ] †weyved . To me art thou moche holden, that in thy kynde course of good mening I returne thy mynde. I trowe, ne had I shewedthee thy Margaryte, thou haddest never returned. Of first in good parfit joye was ever fayned love impacient, as the water of Siloë , whiche evermore floweth with stilnesse and privy40 noyse til it come nighe the brinke, and than ginneth it so out of mesure to bolne, with novelleries of chaunging stormes, that in course of every renning it is in pointe to spille al his circuit of †bankes . Thus fayned love prively, at the fullest of his flowinge, 45 [ginneth ] newe stormes [of] debat to arayse. And al-be-it that Mercurius [servants ] often with hole understandinge knowen suche perillous maters, yet Veneriens so lusty ben and so leude in their wittes, that in suche thinges right litel or naught don they fele; and wryten and cryen to their felawes: “here is blisse,50 here is joye”; and thus in-to one same errour mokel folk they drawen. “Come,” they sayen , “and be we dronken of our pappes”; that ben fallas and lying glose, of whiche mowe they not souke milke of helthe, but deedly venim and poyson, corrupcion of sorowe. Milke of fallas is venim of disceyt ; milke of lying glose55 is venim of corrupcion. Lo! what thing cometh out of these pappes! “Use we coveited collinges”; desyre we and meddle we false wordes with sote, and sote with false! Trewly, this is the sorinesse of fayned love; nedes, of these surfettes sicknesse muste folowe. Thus, as an oxe, to thy langoring deth were thou drawen;60 the sote of the smoke hath thee al defased. Ever the deper thou somtyme wadest, the soner thou it founde ; if it had thee killed, it had be litel wonder. But on that other syde, my trewe servaunt[s] not faynen ne disceyve conne; sothly, their doinge is open; my foundement endureth, be the burthen never so65greet ; ever in one it lasteth. It yeveth lyf and blisful goodnesse in the laste endes, though the ginninges ben sharpe. Thus of two contraries, contrarye ben the effectes. And so thilke Margaryte thou servest shal seen thee , by her service out of[ ] perillous tribulacion delivered, bycause of her service in-to newe70disese fallen, by hope of amendement in the laste ende, with joye to be gladded. Wherfore, of kynde pure, her mercy with grace of good helpe shal she graunte ; and els I shal her so strayne, that with pitè shal she ben amaystred. Remembre in thyne[ ] herte how horribly somtyme to thyne Margaryte thou trespasest,75 and in a grete wyse ayenst her thou forfeytest! Clepe ayen thy mynde, and know thyne owne giltes. What goodnesse, what bountee , with mokel folowing pitè founde thou in that tyme? Were thou not goodly accepted in-to grace? By my pluckinge was she to foryevenesse enclyned. And after, I her styred to80[ ] drawe thee to house; and yet wendest thou utterly for ever have ben refused. But wel thou wost, sithen that I in suche sharpe disese might so greetly avayle, what thinkest in thy wit? How fer may my wit strecche ? And thou lache not on thy syde, I wol make the knotte. Certes, in thy good bering I wol acorde[ ] with the psauter: “I have founde David in my service true, and85 with holy oyle of pees and of rest, longe by him desyred, utterly he shal be anoynted.” Truste wel to me, and I wol thee not fayle. The †leving of the first way with good herte of continuance that I see in thee grounded, this purpose to parfourme, draweth me by maner of constrayning, that nedes muste I ben thyne helper.90 Although mirthe a whyle be taried, it shal come at suche seson, that thy thought shal ben joyed. And wolde never god, sithen thyne herte to my resons arn assented, and openlyhast confessed thyne amisse-going, and now cryest after mercy, but-if mercy folowed; thy blisse shal ben redy, y-wis; thou ne wost how sone.95 Now be a good child , I rede. The kynde of vertues, in thy Margaryte rehersed, by strength of me in thy person shul werche. Comfort thee in this; for thou mayst not miscary.’ And these wordes sayd , she streyght her on length, and rested a whyle.
¶ Thus endeth the seconde book, and here after foloweth the thirde book.
Colophon. booke. boke.[Back to Table of Contents]
Book. III: Ch. I.
OF nombre, sayn these clerkes, that it is naturel somme of discrete thinges, as in tellinge oon , two, three , and so forth; but among al nombres,[ ]three is determined for moste certayn . Wherfore in nombre certayn this werk of my besy leudenesse I thinke to ende and parfourme. Ensample by this worlde, in5[ ]three tymes is devyded; of whiche the first is cleped †Deviacion , that is to say, going out of trewe way; and al that tho dyeden, in helle were they punisshed for a man[ne]s sinne, til grace and mercy fette hem thence, and there ended the firste tyme. The seconde tyme lasteth from the comming of merciable grace until the ende10 of transitorie tyme, in whiche is shewed the true way in fordoinge of the badde; and that is y-cleped tyme of Grace. And that thing is not yeven by desert of yeldinge oon benefyt for another, but only through goodnesse of the yever of grace in thilke tyme.15 Who-so can wel understande is shapen to be saved in souled blisse. The thirde tyme shal ginne whan transitorie thinges of worldes han mad their ende; and that shal ben in Joye, glorie, and rest, both body and soule, that wel han deserved in the tyme of Grace. And thus in that heven †togider shul they dwelle perpetuelly,20 without any imaginatyfe yvel in any halve. These tymes are figured by tho three dayes that our god was closed in erthe; and in the thirde aroos , shewing our resurreccion to joye and blisse of tho that it deserven, by his merciable grace. So this leude book , in three maters, accordaunt to tho tymes,25[ ] lightly by a good inseër may ben understonde; as in the firste, Errour of misse-goinge is shewed, with sorowful pyne punisshed, †that cryed after mercy. In the seconde, is Grace in good waye proved, whiche is faylinge without desert , thilke first misse amendinge, in correccion of tho erroures, and even way to bringe,30 with comfort of welfare in-to amendement wexinge. And in the thirde, Joye and blisse graunted to him that wel can deserve it, and hath savour of understandinge in the tyme of grace. Thus in Joye, of my thirde boke, shal the mater be til it ende.
But special cause I have in my herte to make this proces35 of a Margarit-perle , that is so precious a gemme †whyt , clere and litel, of whiche stones or jewel[les] the tonges of us Englissh people tourneth the right names, and clepeth hem ‘Margery-perles ’; thus varieth our speche from many other langages. For trewly Latin, Frenche, and many mo other langages clepeth hem,40 Margery-perles, [by ] the name ‘Margarites,’ or ‘Margarite-perles’; wherfore in that denominacion I wol me acorde to other mens tonges, in that name-cleping. These clerkes that treten of kyndes, and studien out the propertee there of thinges, sayn : the Margarite is a litel whyt perle, throughout holowe and rounde and45 vertuous; and on the see-sydes, in the more Britayne , in muskle-shelles, of the hevenly dewe, the best ben engendred; in whiche by experience ben founde three fayre vertues. Oon is, it yeveth comfort to the feling spirites in bodily persones of reson . Another is good; it is profitable helthe ayenst passions of sorie mens hertes. And the thirde, it is nedeful and noble in staunching of bloode,50 there els to moche wolde out renne . To whiche perle and vertues me list to lyken at this tyme Philosophie, with her three speces, that is, natural, and moral, and resonable; of whiche thinges hereth what sayn these grete clerkes. Philosophie is knowing of devynly and manly thinges joyned with studie of good living;55 and this stant in two thinges, that is, conninge and opinion. Conninge is whan a thing by certayn reson is conceyved. But wrecches and fooles and leude men, many wil conceyve a thing and mayntayne it as for sothe, though reson be in the contrarye; wherfore conninge is a straunger. Opinion is whyl a thing is in60non-certayn , and hid from mens very knowleging and by no parfit reson[ ] fully declared, as thus: if the sonne be so mokel as men wenen, or els if it be more than the erthe. For in sothnesse the certayn quantitè of that planet is unknowen to erthly dwellers; and yet by opinion of some men it is holden for more than midle-erth.65
The first spece of philosophie is naturel; whiche in kyndely thinges †treteth , and sheweth causes of heven, and strength of[ ] kyndely course; as by arsmetrike, geometry, musike, and by astronomye techeth wayes and cours of hevens, of planetes, and of sterres aboute heven and erthe, and other elementes.70
The seconde spece is moral, whiche, in order, of living maners techeth; and by reson proveth vertues of soule moste worthy in[ ] our living ; whiche ben prudence, justice, temperaunce, and strength. Prudence is goodly wisdom in knowing of thinges. Strength voideth al adversitees aliche even. Temperaunce distroyeth75 beestial living with esy bering . And Justice rightfully jugeth; and juging departeth to every wight that is his owne.
The thirde spece turneth in-to reson of understanding; al[ ] thinges to be sayd soth and discussed; and that in two thinges is devyded. Oon is art , another is rethorike; in whiche two al80 lawes of mans reson ben grounded or els maintayned.
And for this book is of Love, and therafter bereth his name, and philosophie and lawe muste here-to acorden by their clergial discripcions, as: philosophie for love of wisdom is declared, lawe for mainteynaunce of pees is holden: and these with love must85 nedes acorden; therfore of hem in this place have I touched. Ordre of homly thinges and honest maner of livinge in vertue, with rightful jugement in causes and profitable administracion in comminaltees of realmes and citees , by evenhed profitably to90 raigne, nat by singuler avauntage ne by privè envy, ne by soleyn purpos in covetise of worship or of goodes, ben disposed in open rule shewed, by love, philosophy, and lawe, and yet love, toforn al other. Wherfore as sustern in unitè they accorden, and oon ende, that is, pees and rest, they causen norisshinge; and in the95 joye maynteynen to endure.
Now than, as I have declared: my book acordeth with discripcion of three thinges; and the Margarit in vertue is lykened to Philosophy, with her three speces. In whiche maters ever twey ben acordaunt with bodily reson , and the thirde with the100 soule. But in conclusion of my boke and of this Margarite-perle in knittinge togider, Lawe by three sondrye maners shal be lykened; that is to saye, lawe, right, and custome, whiche I wol declare. Al that is lawe cometh of goddes ordinaunce, by kyndly worching; and thilke thinges ordayned by mannes wittes arn y-cleped right,105 which is ordayned by many maners and in constitucion written. But custome is a thing that is accepted for right or for lawe, there-as lawe and right faylen; and there is no difference, whether it come of scripture or of reson. Wherfore it sheweth, that lawe is kyndly governaunce; right cometh out of mannes probable110reson ; and custome is of commen usage by length of tyme used; and custome nat writte is usage; and if it be writte, constitucion it is y-written and y-cleped. But lawe of kynde is commen to every nation, as conjunccion of man and woman in love, succession of children in heritance, restitucion of thing115 by strength taken or lent; and this lawe among al other halt the soveraynest gree in worship; whiche lawe began at the beginning of resonable creature; it varied yet never for no chaunging of tyme. Cause, forsothe, in ordayning of lawe was to constrayne mens hardinesse in-to pees , and withdrawing his yvel120 wil, and turning malice in-to goodnesse; and that innocence sikerly, withouten teneful anoye, among shrewes safely might[ ] inhabite by proteccion of safe-conducte, so that the shrewes, harm for harme, by brydle of ferdnesse shulden restrayne. But forsothe, in kyndely lawe, nothing is commended but such as goddes[ ] wil hath confirmed, ne nothing denyed but contrarioustee of125 goddes wil in heven. Eke than al lawes, or custome, or els constitucion by usage or wryting, that contraryen lawe of kynde, utterly ben repugnaunt and adversarie to our goddes wil of heven. Trewly, lawe of kynde for goddes own lusty wil is verily to mayntayne; under whiche lawe (and unworthy ) bothe professe130 and reguler arnobediencer and bounden to this Margarite-perle as by knotte of loves statutes and stablisshment in kynde, whiche that goodly may not be withsetten. Lo! under this bonde am[ ] I constrayned to abyde; and man, under living lawe ruled, by that lawe oweth, after desertes, to ben rewarded by payne or by mede,135 but-if mercy weyve the payne. So than †by part resonfully may be seye , that mercy bothe right and lawe passeth. Th’ entent of al these maters is the lest clere understanding, to weten, at th’ende of this thirde boke; ful knowing, thorow goddes grace, I thinke to make neverthelater. Yet if these thinges han a good140 and a †sleigh inseër, whiche that can souke hony of the harde stone, oyle of the drye rocke, [he ] may lightly fele nobley of mater in my leude imaginacion closed. But for my book shal be of joye (as I sayd), and I [am ] so fer set fro thilke place fro whens gladnesse shulde come; my corde is to short to lete my boket145 ought cacche of that water; and fewe men be abouten my corde to eche, and many in ful purpos ben redy it shorter to make, and to enclose th’ entrè , that my boket of joye nothing shulde cacche , but empty returne, my careful sorowes to encrese: (and if I dye for payne, that were gladnesse at their hertes): good lord, send150 me water in-to the cop of these mountayns, and I shal drinke therof, my thurstes to stanche , and sey, these be comfortable welles; in-to helth of goodnesse of my saviour am I holpen. And yet I saye more, the house of joye to me is nat opened. How dare my sorouful goost than in any mater of gladnesse thinken to155 trete? For ever sobbinges and complayntes be redy refrete in his meditacions , as werbles in manifolde stoundes comming about I not than . And therfore, what maner of joye coude [I ] endyte? But yet at dore shal I knocke, if the key of David wolde the locke 160unshitte , and hebringe me in, whiche that childrens tonges both[ ] openeth and closeth; whos spirit where he †wol wercheth, departing goodly as him lyketh.
Now to goddes laude and reverence, profit of the reders, amendement of maners of the herers, encresing of worship among165 Loves servauntes, releving of my herte in-to grace of my jewel, and fren[d]ship [in] plesance of this perle , I am stered in this making, and for nothing els; and if any good thing to mennes lyking in this scripture be founde, thanketh the maister of grace, whiche that of that good and al other is authour and principal170[ ] doer. And if any thing be insufficient or els mislyking, †wyte that the leudnesse of myne unable conning: for body in disese anoyeth the understanding in soule. A disesely habitacion letteth the wittes [in ] many thinges, and namely in sorowe. The custome never-the-later of Love, †by long tyme of service, in175 termes I thinke to pursue, whiche ben lyvely to yeve understanding in other thinges. But now , to enforme thee of this Margarites goodnesse, I may her not halfe preyse. Wherfore, nat she for my boke , but this book for her, is worthy to be commended, tho my book be leude; right as thinges nat for places, but places180 for thinges, ought to be desyred and praysed.
CHAPTER II.[ ]
‘NOW ,’ quod Love, ‘trewly thy wordes I have wel understonde. Certes, me thinketh hem right good; and me wondreth why thou so lightly passest in the lawe.’
‘Ye ,’ quod she, ‘I shal helpe thee to swimme . For right as lawe punissheth brekers of preceptes and the contrary-doers of the written constitucions , right so ayenward lawe rewardeth and10 yeveth mede to hem that lawe strengthen. By one lawe this rebel is punisshed and this innocent is meded; the shrewe is enprisoned and this rightful is corowned. The same lawe that joyneth by wedlocke without forsaking, the same lawe yeveth lybel of departicion bycause of devorse both demed and declared.’15
‘Fole,’ quod she, ‘gilty , converted in your lawe, mikel merit[ ] deserveth. Also Pauly[n] of Rome was crowned, that by him the maynteyners of Pompeus weren knowen and distroyed; and yet20[ ]toforn was this Paulyn cheef of Pompeus counsaile. This lawe in Rome hath yet his name of mesuring, in mede, the bewraying of the conspiracy, ordayned by tho senatours the deth. Julius Cesar is acompted in-to Catons rightwisnesse; for ever in trouth florissheth his name among the knowers of reson . Perdicas was25 crowned in the heritage of Alexander the grete , for tellinge of a prevy hate that king Porrus to Alexander hadde. Wherfore every wight, by reson of lawe, after his rightwysenesse apertely his mede may chalenge; and so thou, that maynteynest lawe of kynde, and therfore disese hast suffred in the lawe, reward is30 worthy to be rewarded and ordayned, and †apertly thy mede might thou chalenge.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘this have I wel lerned; and ever hensforward I shal drawe me therafter, in oonhed of wil to abyde, this lawe bothe maynteyne and kepe; and so hope I best entre in-to35 your grace, wel deservinge in-to worship of a wight, without nedeful compulsion, [that ] ought medefully to be rewarded.’
‘Truly,’ quod Love, ‘that is sothe; and tho[ugh], by constitucion , good service in-to profit and avantage strecche , utterly many men it demen to have more desert of mede than good wil40 nat compelled.’
‘How shulde I this performe!’ quod I.
‘Right wel,’ quod she; ‘and here me now a litel. It is hardely (quod she) to understande, that right as mater by due overchaunginges foloweth his perfeccion and his forme, right so every50 man, by rightful werkinges, ought to folowe the lefful desyres in his herte , and see toforn to what ende he deserveth. For many tymes he that loketh nat after th’endes, but utterly therof is unknowen, befalleth often many yvels to done, wherthrough, er he55 be war , shamefully he is confounded; th’ende[s] therof neden to be before loked. To every desirer of suche foresight in good service, three thinges specially nedeth to be rulers in his workes. First, that he do good; next, that he do [it ] by eleccion in his owne herte ; and the thirde, that he do godly, withouten any60 surquedry in thoughtes. That your werkes shulden be good, in service or in any other actes, authoritès many may be aleged; neverthelater, by reson thus may it be shewed. Al your werkes be cleped seconde, and moven in vertue of the firste wercher, whiche in good workes wrought you to procede; and right so65 your werkes moven in-to vertue of the laste ende: and right in the first workinge were nat, no man shulde in the seconde werche. Right so, but ye feled to what ende, and seen their goodnes closed, ye shulde no more †recche what ye wrought; but the ginning gan with good, and there shal it cese in the laste ende, if70 it be wel considred. Wherfore the middle, if other-wayes it drawe than accordant to the endes, there stinteth the course of good, and another maner course entreth; and so it is a partie by himselve; and every part [that ] be nat accordant to his al, is foul and ought to be eschewed. Wherfore every thing that is wrought75 and be nat good, is nat accordant to th’endes of his al hole; it is foul, and ought to be withdrawe. Thus the persons that neither don good ne harm shamen foule their making. Wherfore, without working of good actes in good service, may no man ben accepted. Truely, the ilke that han might to do good and doon it nat, the80 crowne of worship shal be take from hem, and with shame shul they be anulled; and so, to make oon werke acordant with his endes, every good servaunt, by reson of consequence, muste do good nedes . Certes, it suffiseth nat alone to do good, but goodly withal folowe; the thanke of goodnesse els in nought he85 deserveth. For right as al your being come from the greetest good, in whom al goodnesse is closed, right so your endes ben directe to the same good. Aristotel determineth that ende and good ben one, and convertible in understanding; and he that in wil doth awey good, and he that loketh nat to th’ende, loketh nat to good; but he that doth good and doth nat goodly , [and ]90 draweth away the direction of th’ende nat goodly, must nedes be badde . Lo! badde is nothing els but absence or negative of good, as derkenesse is absence or negative of light. Than he that dooth [not ] goodly, directeth thilke good in-to th’ende of badde; so muste thing nat good folowe: eke badnesse to suche95 folke ofte foloweth. Thus contrariaunt workers of th’ende that is good ben worthy the contrary of th’ende that is good to have.’
‘How,’ quod I, ‘may any good dede be doon , but-if goodly it helpe?’100
‘Yes,’ quod Love, ‘the devil doth many good dedes, but goodly he leveth be-hynde; for †ever badly and in disceyvable wyse he worketh; wherfore the contrary of th’ende him foloweth. And do he never so many good dedes, bicause goodly is away, his goodnes is nat rekened. Lo! than, tho[ugh] a man do good,105 but he do goodly, th’ende in goodnesse wol nat folowe; and thus in good service both good dede and goodly doon musten joyne togider, and that it be doon with free choise in herte ; and els deserveth he nat the merit in goodnes: that wol I prove. For if thou do any-thing good by chaunce or by happe, in what thing110 art thou therof worthy to be commended? For nothing, by reson of that, turneth in-to thy praysing ne lacking . Lo! thilke thing doon by hap, by thy wil is nat caused; and therby shulde I thanke or lacke deserve? And sithen that fayleth, th’ende which[ ] that wel shulde rewarde, must ned[e]s faile. Clerkes sayn, no man115 but willinge is blessed; a good dede that he hath doon is nat doon of free choice willing; without whiche blissednesse may nat folowe. Ergo, neither thanke of goodnesse ne service [is ] in that [that] is contrary of the good ende. So than, to good service longeth good dede goodly don, thorow free choice in herte .’120
‘Truely,’ quod I, ‘this have I wel understande.’
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘every thing thus doon sufficiently by lawe, that is cleped justice, [may ] after-reward clayme . For lawe and justice was ordayned in this wyse, suche desertes in goodnesse, 125 after quantitè in doinge, by mede to rewarde; and of necessitè of suche justice, that is to say, rightwysenesse, was free choice in deserving of wel or of yvel graunted to resonable creatures. Every man hath free arbitrement to chose, good or yvel to performe.’
130‘Now ,’ quod I tho, ‘if I by my good wil deserve this Margaritperle, and am nat therto compelled, and have free choice to do what me lyketh; she is than holden, as me thinketh, to rewarde th’entent of my good wil.’
‘Hath every man,’ quod I, ‘free choice by necessary maner of wil in every of his doinges that him lyketh, by goddes proper purvyaunce? I wolde see that wel declared to my leude understanding; for “necessary” and “necessitè” ben wordes of mokel140entencion , closing (as to saye) so mote it be nedes, and otherwyse may it nat betyde.’
‘This shalt thou lerne ,’ quod she, ‘so thou take hede in my speche. If it were nat in mannes owne libertè of free wil to do good or bad, but to the one teyed by bonde of goddes preordinaunce,145 than, do he never so wel, it were by nedeful compulcion of thilk bonde, and nat by free choice, wherby nothing he desyreth: and do he never so yvel, it were nat man for to wyte, but onlich to him that suche thing ordayned him to done. Wherfore he ne ought for bad[de] be punisshed, ne for no good150 dede be rewarded; but of necessitè of rightwisnesse was therfore free choice of arbitrement put in mans proper disposicion . Truely, if it were otherwyse, it contraried goddes charitè, that badnesse and goodnesse rewardeth after desert of payne or of mede.’
[ ] ‘Me thinketh this wonder,’ quod I; ‘for god by necessitè155forwot al thinges coming, and so mote it nedes be; and thilke thinges that ben don †by our free choice comen nothing of necessitè but only †by wil. How may this stonde †togider ? And so me thinketh truely, that free choice fully repugneth goddes forweting. Trewly, lady, me semeth, they mowe nat stande160 †togider .’
CHAPTER III.[ ]
THAN gan Love nighe me nere, and with a noble countenance of visage and limmes, dressed her nigh my sitting-place.
‘Take forth,’ quod she, ‘thy pen, and redily wryte these wordes. For if god wol, I shal hem so enforme to thee , that thy5 leudnesse which I have understande in that mater shal openly be clered, and thy sight in ful loking therin amended. First, if thou thinke that goddes prescience repugne libertè of arbitrement , it is impossible that they shulde accorde in onheed of sothe to understonding.’10
‘Ye,’ quod I, ‘forsothe; so I it conceyve.’
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘if thilke impossible were away, the repugnaunce that semeth to be therin were utterly removed.’
‘Shewe me the absence of that impossibilitè,’ quod I.
‘So,’ quod she, ‘I shal. Now I suppose that they mowe15 stande togider: prescience of god, whom foloweth necessitè of thinges comming, and libertè of arbitrement, thorow whiche thou belevest many thinges to be without necessitè.’
‘Bothe these proporcions be sothe,’ quod I, ‘and wel mowe stande togider; wherfore this case as possible I admit.’20
‘Truely,’ quod she, ‘and this case is impossible.’
‘How so?’ quod I.
‘For herof,’ quod she, ‘foloweth and wexeth another impossible.’
‘Prove me that,’ quod I.25
[ ] ‘That I shal,’ quod she; ‘for somthing is comming without necessitè, and god wot that toforn; for al thing comming he before wot, and that he beforn wot of necessitè is comming, as he beforn wot be the case by necessary maner ; or els, thorow necessitè, is somthing to be without necessitè; and wheder, to30 every wight that hath good understanding, is seen these thinges to be repugnaunt: prescience of god, whiche that foloweth necessitè, and libertè of arbitrement, fro whiche is removed necessitè? For truely, it is necessary that god have forweting of thing withouten any necessitè cominge.’35
‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘but yet remeve ye nat away fro myne understanding the necessitè folowing goddes be foreweting, as thus. God beforn wot me in service of love to be bounden to this Margariteperle, and therfore by necessitè thus to love am I bounde; and40 if I had nat loved, thorow necessitè had I ben kept from al lovededes.’
‘Certes,’ quod Love, ‘bicause this mater is good and necessary to declare, I thinke here-in wel to abyde, and not lightly to passe. Thou shalt not (quod she) say al-only , “god beforn wot me to be45 a lover or no lover,” but thus: “god beforn wot me to be a lover without necessitè.” And so foloweth, whether thou love or not love, every of hem is and shal be. But now thou seest the impossibilitè of the case, and the possibilitè of thilke that thou wendest had been impossible; wherfore the repugnaunce is adnulled.’
50‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘and yet do ye not awaye the strength of necessitè, whan it is said, th[r]ough necessitè it is me in love to abyde, or not to love without necessitè for god beforn wot it. This maner of necessitè forsothe semeth to some men in-to coaccion , that is to sayne, constrayning, or else prohibicion, that is,55 defendinge; wherfore necessitè is me to love of wil. I understande me to be constrayned by some privy strength to the wil of lovinge; and if [I] no[t] love, to be defended from the wil of lovinge: and so thorow necessitè me semeth to love, for I love ; or els not to love, if I not love; wherthrough neither thank ne60 maugrè in tho thinges may I deserve.’
‘Now ,’ quod she, ‘thou shalt wel understande, that often we sayn thing thorow necessitè to be, that by no strength to be neither is coarted ne constrayned; and through necessitè not to be, that with no defendinge is removed. For we sayn it is65thorow necessitè god to be immortal, nought deedliche; and it is necessitè, god to be rightful; but not that any strength of violent maner constrayneth him to be immortal, or defendeth him to be unrightful; for nothing may make him dedly or unrightful. Right so, if I say, thorow necessitè is thee to be a lover or els70noon; only thorow wil, as god beforn wete. It is nat to understonde that any thing defendeth or forbit thee thy wil, whiche shal nat be; or els constrayneth it to be, whiche shal be. That same thing , forsoth, god before wot, whiche he beforn seeth. Any[ ]thingcommende of only wil, that wil neyther is constrayned ne defended thorow any other thing. And so thorow libertè of75 arbitrement it is do, that is don of wil. And trewly, my good child , if these thinges be wel understonde , I wene that non inconvenient shalt thou fynde betwene goddes forweting and libertè of arbitrement; wherfore I wot wel they may stande togider. Also farthermore, who that understanding of prescience80 properlich considreth, thorow the same wyse that any-thing be afore wist is said, for to be comming it is pronounced; there is nothing toforn wist but thing comming; foreweting is but of trouth[e]; dout[e] may nat be wist; wherfore, whan I sey that god toforn wot any-thing, thorow necessitè is thilke thing to be comming;85 al is oon if I sey, it shal be . But this necessitè neither constrayneth ne defendeth any-thing to be or nat to be. Therfore sothly, if love is put to be, it is said of necessitè to be; or els, for it is put nat to be, it is affirmed nat to be of necessitè; nat for that necessitè constrayneth or defendeth love to be or nat to be. For90 whan I say, if love shal be, of necessitè it shal be, here foloweth necessitè the thing toforn put; it is as moch to say as if it were thus pronounced—“that thing shal be.” Noon other thing signifyeth this necessitè but only thus: that shal be, may nat togider be and nat be. Evenlich also it is soth, love was, and is, and shal95 be, nat of necessitè; and nede is to have be al that was; and nedeful is to be al that is; and comming, to al that shal be. And it is nat the same to saye, love to be passed, and love passed to be passed; or love present to be present, and love to be present; or els love to be comminge, and love comminge to be100 comming. Dyversitè in setting of wordes maketh dyversitè in understandinge; altho[ugh] in the same sentence they accorden of significacion ; right as it is nat al oon , love swete to be swete, and love to be swete. For moch love is bitter and sorouful, er hertes ben esed ; and yet it glad[d]eth thilke sorouful herte on105 suche love to thinke.’
‘Forsothe,’ quod I, ‘outherwhile I have had mokel blisse in herte of love that stoundmele hath me sorily anoyed. And certes, lady, for I see my-self thus knit with this Margarite-perle110 as by bonde of your service and of no libertè of wil, my herte wil now nat acorde this service to love. I can demin in my-selfe non otherwise but thorow necessitè am I constrayned in this service to abyde. But alas! than, if I thorow nedeful compulsioun maugre me be with-holde, litel thank for al my greet traveil have115 I than deserved.’
‘Now ,’ quod this lady, ‘I saye as I sayde: me lyketh this mater to declare at the ful, and why: for many men have had dyvers fantasyes and resons , both on one syde therof and in the other. Of whiche right sone, I trowe, if thou wolt understonde,120 thou shalt conne yeve the sentence to the partie more probable by reson , and in soth knowing, by that I have of this mater maked an ende.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘of these thinges longe have I had greet lust to be lerned; for yet, I wene, goddes wil and his prescience125 acordeth with my service in lovinge of this precious Margarite-perle.[ ] After whom ever, in my herte, with thursting desyre wete, I do brenne; unwasting, I langour and fade; and the day of my[ ] desteny in dethe or in joye I †onbyde ; but yet in th’ende I am comforted †by my supposaile, in blisse and in joye to determine130 after my desyres.’
‘That thing,’ quoth Love, ‘hastely to thee neigh, god graunt of his grace and mercy! And this shal be my prayer, til thou be lykende in herte at thyne owne wil. But now to enforme thee in this mater (quod this lady) thou wost where I lefte; that was:135 love to be swete, and love swete to be swete, is not al oon for to say. For a tree is nat alway by necessitè white. Somtyme, er it were white, it might have be nat white; and after tyme it is white, it may be nat white. But a white tree evermore nedeful is to be white; for neither toforn ne after it was white, might it140 be togider white and nat white. Also love, by necessitè, is nat present as now in thee ; for er it were present, it might have be that it shulde now nat have be; and yet it may be that it shal nat be present; but thy love present whiche to her, Margarite, thee hath bounde, nedeful is to be present. Trewly, som doing of accion , nat by necessitè, is comminge fer toforn it be; it may be145 that it shal nat be comminge. Thing forsoth comming nedeful is to be comming; for it may nat be that comming shal nat be comming. And right as I have sayd of present and of future tymes, the same sentence in sothnesse is of the preterit, that is to say, tyme passed. For thing passed must nedes be passed; and150 er it were, it might have nat be; wherfore it shulde nat have passed. Right so, whan love comming is said of love that is to come, nedeful is to be that is said; for thing comming never is nat comminge. And so, ofte, the same thing we sayn of the same; as whan we sayn “every man is a man,” or “every lover is a lover,”155 so muste it be nedes. In no waye may he be man and no man togider. And if it be nat by necessitè, that is to say nedeful, al thing comming to be comming, than somthing comming is nat comminge, and that is impossible. Right as these termes “nedeful,” “necessitè,” and “necessary” betoken and signify thing nedes160 to be, and it may nat otherwyse be, right [so] †this terme “impossible” signifyeth, that [a ] thing is nat and by no way may it be. Than, thorow pert necessitè, al thing comming is comming; but that is by necessitè foloweth, with nothing to be constrayned. Lo! whan that “comming” is said of thinge, nat alway thing165thorow necessitè is, altho[ugh] it be comming. For if I say, “tomorowe love is comming in this Margarites herte ,” nat therfore thorow necessitè shal the ilke love be; yet it may be that it shal nat be, altho[ugh] it were comming. Neverthelater, somtyme it is soth that somthing be of necessitè, that is sayd “to come”; as170 if I say, to-morowe †be comminge the rysinge of the sonne . If therfore with necessitè I pronounce comming of thing to come, in this maner love to-morne comminge in thyne Margarite to theeward , by necessitè is comminge; or els the rysing of the sonne to-morne comminge, through necessitè is comminge. Love sothely,175 whiche may nat be of necessitè alone folowinge, thorow necessitè comming it is mad certayn . For “futur” of future is said; that is to sayn, “comming” of comminge is said; as, if to-morowe comming is thorow necessitè, comminge it is. Arysing of the sonne, thorow two necessitès in comming, it is to understande; that oon is to-for[e]going180 necessitè, whiche maketh thing to be; therfore it shal be, for nedeful is that it be. Another is folowing necessitè, whiche nothing constrayneth to be, and so by necessitè it is to come; why? for it is to come. Now than, whan we sayn that god beforn wot185 thing comming, nedeful [it ] is to be comming; yet therfore make we nat in certayn evermore, thing to be thorow necessitè comminge. Sothly, thing comming may nat be nat comming by no way; for it is the same sentence of understanding as if we say thus: if god beforn wot any-thing, nedeful is that to be comming.190 But yet therfore foloweth nat the prescience of God, thing thorow necessitè to be comming: for al-tho[ugh] god toforn wot al thinges comming, yet nat therfore he beforn wot every thing comming thorow necessitè. Some thinges he beforn wot comming of free wil out of resonable creature.’
195‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘these termes “nede” and “necessitè” have a queint maner of understanding; they wolden dullen many mennes wittes.’
‘Therfore,’ quod she, ‘I wol hem openly declare, and more clerely than I have toforn, er I departe hen[ne]s .
CHAPTER IV.[ ]
HERE of this mater,’ quod she, ‘thou shalt understande that, right as it is nat nedeful, god to wilne that he wil, no more in many thinges is nat nedeful, a man to wilne that he wol. And ever, right as nedeful is to be, what that god wol,5 right so to be it is nedeful that man wol in tho thinges, whiche that god hath put in-to mannes subjeccion of willinge; as, if a man wol love, that he love; and if he ne wol love, that he love nat; and of suche other thinges in mannes disposicion . For-why, now than that god wol may nat be, whan he wol the wil of man10thorow no necessitè to be constrayned or els defended for to wilne, and he wol th’effect to folowe the wil; than is it nedeful, wil of man to be free , and also to be that he wol. In this maner it is soth, that thorow necessitè is mannes werke in loving, that he wol do altho[ugh] he wol it nat with necessitè.’
‘I wol,’ quod she, ‘answere thee blyvely. Right as men wil not thorow necessitè, right so is not love of wil thorow necessitè;20 ne thorow necessitè wrought thilke same wil. For if he wolde it not with good wil, it shulde nat have been wrought; although that he doth , it is nedeful to be doon . But if a man do sinne, it is nothing els but to †wilne that he shulde nat; right so sinne of wil is not to be [in ] maner necessary don , no more than wil is25 necessarye. Never-the-later, this is sothe; if a man wol sinne, it is necessarye him to sinne, but th[r]ough thilke necessitè nothing is constrayned ne defended in the wil; right so thilke thing that free-wil wol and may , and not may not wilne; and nedeful is that to wilne he may not wilne . But thilke to wilne nedeful is; for30 impossible to him it is oon thing and the same to wilne and not to[ ] wilne. The werke, forsothe, of wil, to whom it is yeve that it be that he hath in wil, and that he wol not, voluntarie †or spontanye it is; for by spontanye wil it is do, that is to saye, with good wil not constrayned: than by wil not constrayned it is constrayned to35 be; and that is it may not †togider be. If this necessitè maketh libertè of wil, whiche that, aforn they weren, they might have ben eschewed and shonned: god than, whiche that knoweth al tr[o]uthe , and nothing but tr[o]uthe , al these thinges, as they arn spontanye or necessarie, †seeth; and as he seeth , so they40 ben. And so with these thinges wel considred, it is open at the ful, that without al maner repugnaunce god beforn wot al maner thinges [that ] ben don by free wil, whiche, aforn they weren, [it ] might have ben [that ] never they shulde be. And yet ben they thorow a maner necessitè from free wil †discended .45
Hereby may (quod she) lightly ben knowe that not al thinges to be, is of necessitè, though god have hem in his prescience. For som thinges to be, is of libertè of wil. And to make thee to have ful knowinge of goddes beforn-weting , here me (quod she) what I shal say.’50
‘Blythly, lady,’ quod I, ‘me list this mater entyrely to understande.’
‘Thou shalt ,’ quod she, ‘understande that in heven is goddes beinge; although he be over al by power, yet there is abydinge of55 devyne persone; in whiche heven is everlastinge presence, withouten any movable tyme. There* is nothing preterit ne passed, there is nothing future ne comming; but al thinges togider in that place ben present everlasting, without any meving. Wherfore, to[ ] god, al thing is as now ; and though a thing be nat, in kyndly60 nature of thinges, as yet, and if it shulde be herafter, yet evermore we shul saye, god it maketh be tyme present, and now ; for no future ne preterit in him may be founde. Wherfore his weting and his before-weting is al oon in understanding. Than, if weting and before-weting of god putteth in necessitè to al thinges whiche65 he wot or before-wot; ne thing, after eternitè or els after any tyme, he wol or doth of libertè, but al of necessitè: whiche thing if thou wene it be ayenst reson , [than is] nat thorow necessitè to be or nat to be, al thing that god wot or before-wot to be or nat to be; and yet nothing defendeth any-thing to be wist or to be70 before-wist of him in our willes or our doinges to be don , or els comminge to be for free arbitrement. Whan thou hast these declaracions wel understande, than shalt thou fynde it resonable at prove, and that many thinges be nat thorow necessitè but thorow libertè of wil, save necessitè of free wil, as I tofore said,75 and, as me thinketh, al utterly declared.’
‘Me thinketh, lady,’ quod I, ‘so I shulde you nat displese , and evermore your reverence to kepe, that these thinges contraryen in any understanding; for ye sayn , somtyme is thorow libertè of wil, and also thorow necessitè. Of this have I yet no savour,80 without better declaracion .’
‘What wonder,’ quod she, ‘is there in these thinges, sithen al day thou shalt see at thyne eye, in many thinges receyven in hemselfe revers, thorow dyvers resons , as thus:—I pray thee (quod she) which thinges ben more revers than “comen” and “gon ”?85 For if I bidde thee “come to me,” and thou come, after, whan I bidde thee “go,” and thou go, thou reversest fro thy first comming.’
‘That is soth,’ quod I.
‘And yet,’ quod she, ‘in thy first alone, by dyvers reson , was ful reversinge to understande.’90
‘As how ?’ quod I.
‘That shal I shewe thee ,’ quod she, ‘by ensample of thinges that have kyndly moving. Is there any-thing that meveth more kyndly than doth the hevens eye, whiche I clepe the sonne?’
‘Sothly,’ quod I, ‘me semeth it is most kyndly to move.’95
[ ] ‘Thou sayest soth,’ quod she. ‘Than, if thou loke to the sonne, in what parte he be under heven, evermore he †hyeth him in moving fro thilke place, and †hyeth meving toward the ilke same place; to thilke place from whiche he goth he †hyeth comminge; and without any ceesinge to that place he neigheth100 from whiche he is chaunged and withdrawe. But now in these thinges, after dyversitè of reson , revers in one thinge may be seye without repugnaunce. Wherfore in the same wyse, without any repugnaunce, by my resons tofore maked, al is oon to beleve, somthing to be thorow necessitè comminge for it is comming, and105 yet with no necessitè constrayned to be comming, but with necessitè that cometh out of free wil, as I have sayd.’
‘Trewly, lady, as me thinketh, I can allege authoritees grete ,110 that contrarien your sayinges . Job saith of mannes person,[ ] “thou hast put his terme, whiche thou might not passe.” Than saye I that no man may shorte ne lengthe the day ordayned of his †dying , altho[ugh] somtyme to us it semeth som man to do a thing of free wil, wherthorow his deeth he henteth.’115
‘Nay , forsothe,’ quod she, ‘it is nothing ayenst my saying ; for god is not begyled, ne he seeth nothing wheder it shal come of libertè or els of necessitè; yet it is said to be ordayned at god immovable, whiche at man, or it be don , may be chaunged. Suche thing is also that Poule the apostel saith of hem that tofore120[ ] wern purposed to be sayntes, as thus: “whiche that god before wiste and hath predestined conformes of images of his †sone , that he shulde ben the firste begeten, that is to saye, here amonges many brethren ; and whom he hath predestined, hem he hath125 cleped; and whom he hath cleped, hem he hath justifyed; and whom he hath justifyed, hem he hath magnifyed.” This purpos , after whiche they ben cleped sayntes or holy in the everlasting present, wher is neither tyme passed ne tyme comminge, but ever[ ] it is only present, and now as mokel a moment as sevin thousand130 winter; and so ayenward withouten any meving is nothing lich temporel presence for thinge that there is ever present. Yet amonges you men, er it be in your presence, it is movable thorow libertè of arbitrement. And right as in the everlasting present no maner thing was ne shal be, but onlyis; and now here, in135 your temporel tyme, somthing was, and is, and shal be, but movinge stoundes; and in this is no maner repugnaunce: right so, in the everlasting presence, nothing may be chaunged; and, in your temporel tyme, otherwhyle it is proved movable by libertè of wil or it be do, withouten any inconvenience therof to folowe.140[ ] In your temporel tyme is no suche presence as in the tother; for your present is don whan passed and to come ginnen entre; whiche tymes here amonges you everich esily foloweth other. But the presence everlasting dureth in oonhed , withouten any imaginable chaunging, and ever is present and now . Trewly, the145 course of the planettes and overwhelminges of the sonne in dayes and nightes, with a newe ginning of his circute after it is ended, that is to sayn, oon yeer to folowe another: these maken your transitory tymes with chaunginge of lyves and mutacion of people, but right as your temporel presence coveiteth every place, and al150 thinges in every of your tymes be contayned, and as now both seye and wist to goddes very knowinge.’
[ ] ‘Than,’ quod I, ‘me wondreth why Poule spak these wordes by voice of significacion in tyme passed, that god his sayntes before-wist hath predestined, hath cleped, hath justifyed, and155 hath magnifyed. Me thinketh, he shulde have sayd tho wordes in tyme present; and that had ben more accordaunt to the everlasting present than to have spoke in preterit voice of passed understanding.’
‘O,’ quod Love, ‘by these wordes I see wel thou hast litel160 understanding of the everlasting presence, or els of my before spoken wordes; for never a thing of tho thou hast nempned was tofore other or after other; but al at ones evenlich at the god ben, and al togider in the everlasting present be now to understanding. This eternal presence, as I sayd, hath inclose togider in one al tymes, in which close and one al thinges that ben in165 dyvers tymes and in dyvers places temporel, [and ] without posterioritè or prioritè ben closed ther in perpetual now , and maked to dwelle in present sight. But there thou sayest that Poule shulde[ ] have spoke thilke forsaid sentence †by tyme present, and that most shulde have ben acordaunt to the everlasting presence,170 why gabbest thou †in thy wordes? Sothly, I say, Poule moved the wordes by significacion of tyme passed, to shewe fully that thilk wordes were nat put for temporel significacion ; for al [at ] thilk tyme [of] thilke sentencewere nat temporallich born, whiche that Poule pronounced god have tofore knowe, and have cleped, than175 magnifyed. Wherthorow it may wel be knowe that Poule used tho wordes of passed significacion , for nede and lacke of a worde in mannes bodily speche betokeninge the everlasting presence. And therfore, [in ] worde moste semeliche in lykenesse to everlasting presence, he took his sentence; for thinges that here-beforn180 ben passed utterly be immovable, y-lyke to the everlasting presence. As thilke that ben there never mowe not ben present, so thinges of tyme passed ne mowe in no wyse not ben passed; but al thinges in your temporal presence, that passen in a litel while, shullen ben not present. So than in that, it is more185 similitude to the everlasting presence, significacion of tyme passed than of tyme temporal present, and so more in accordaunce. In this maner what thing , of these that ben don thorow free arbitrement, or els as necessary, holy writ pronounceth, after eternitè he speketh; in whiche presence is everlasting sothe and nothing but190 sothe immovable; nat after tyme, in whiche naught alway ben your willes and your actes. And right as, while they be nat, it is nat nedeful hem to be, so ofte it is nat nedeful that somtyme they shulde be.’
‘As how?’ quod I; ‘for yet I must be lerned by some195 ensample.’
‘Of love,’ quod she, ‘wol I now ensample make, sithen I knowe the heed-knotte in that yelke. Lo! somtyme thou wrytest no art , ne art than in no wil to wryte. And right as while thou200 wrytest nat or els wolt nat wryte, it is nat nedeful thee to wryte or els wilne to wryte. And for to make thee knowe utterly that thinges ben otherwise in the everlastinge presence than in temporal tyme, see now , my good child : for somthing is in the everlastinge presence, than in temporal tyme it was nat; in205 †eterne tyme, in eterne presence shal it nat be. Than no resondefendeth , that somthing ne may be in tyme temporal moving, that in eterne is immovable. Forsothe, it is no more contrary ne revers for to be movable in tyme temporel, and [im]movable in eternitè, than nat to be in any tyme and to be alway in210 eternitè; and to have be or els to come in tyme temporel, and nat have be ne nought comming to be in eternitè. Yet never-the-later. I say nat somthing to be never in tyme temporel, that ever is [in ] eternitè; but al-only in som tyme nat to be. For I saye nat thy love to-morne in no tyme to be, but to-day alone215 I deny it to be; and yet, never-the-later, it is alway in eternitè.’
‘A! so,’ quod I, ‘it semeth to me, that comming thing or els passed here in your temporal tyme to be, in eternitè ever now and present oweth nat to be demed; and yet foloweth nat thilke thing , that was or els shal be, in no maner ther to ben passed220[ ] or els comming; than utterly shul we deny for there without ceesing it is, in his present maner.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘myne owne disciple, now ginnest thou [be] able to have the name of my servaunt! Thy wit is clered; away is now errour of cloude in unconning; away is blyndnesse of225 love; away is thoughtful study of medling maners. Hastely shalt thou entre in-to the joye of me, that am thyn owne maistres! Thou hast (quod she), in a fewe wordes, wel and clerely concluded mokel of my mater. And right as there is no revers ne contrarioustee in tho thinges, right so, withouten230 any repugnaunce, it is sayd somthing to be movable in tyme temporel, †afore it be, that in eternité dwelleth immovable, nat afore it be or after that it is, but without cessing; for right naught is there after tyme; that same is there everlastinge that temporalliche somtyme nis; and toforn it be, it may not be, as I have sayd.’235
‘Now sothly,’ quod I, ‘this have I wel understande; so that now me thinketh, that prescience of god and free arbitrement withouten any repugnaunce acorden; and that maketh the strength of eternitè, whiche encloseth by presence during al tymes, and al thinges that ben, han ben, and shul ben in any240 tyme. I wolde now (quod I) a litel understande, sithen that [god ] al thing thus beforn wot, whether thilke wetinge be of tho thinges, or els thilke thinges ben to ben of goddes weting, and so of god nothing is; and if every thing be thorow goddes weting, and therof take his being, than shulde god be maker and auctour245 of badde werkes, and so he shulde not rightfully punisshe yvel doinges of mankynde.’
Quod Love, ‘I shal telle thee , this lesson to lerne. Myne owne trewe servaunt, the noble philosophical poete in Englissh, whiche evermore him besieth and travayleth right sore my name250 to encrese (wherfore al that willen me good owe to do him worship and reverence bothe; trewly, his better ne his pere in scole of my rules coude I never fynde)—he (quod she), in a tretis that he made of my servant Troilus, hath this mater touched, and at the ful this question assoyled. Certaynly, his noble sayinges255 can I not amende; in goodnes of gentil manliche speche, without any maner of nycetè of †storiers imaginacion, in witte and in good reson of sentence he passeth al other makers. In the boke of Troilus, the answere to thy question mayst thou lerne. Never-the-later, yet may lightly thyne understandinge somdel ben lerned,260 if thou have knowing of these to-fornsaid thinges; with that thou have understanding of two the laste chapiters of this seconde boke, that is to say, good to be somthing, and bad to wante al maner being. For badde is nothing els but absence of good; and [as ] that god in good maketh that good dedes ben good,265 in yvel he maketh that they ben but naught, that they ben bad; for to nothing is badnesse to be [lykned ].’
‘I have,’ quod I tho, ‘ynough knowing therin; me nedeth of other thinges to here, that is to saye, how I shal come to my blisse so long desyred.’270
‘IN this mater toforn declared,’ quod Love, ‘I have wel shewed, that every man hath free arbitrement of thinges in his power, to do or undo what him lyketh. Out of this grounde[ ] muste come the spire, that by processe of tyme shal in greetnesse5 sprede, to have braunches and blosmes of waxing frute in grace, of whiche the taste and the savour is endelesse blisse, in joye ever to onbyde.’*
‘That shal I,’ quod she, ‘blithly, and take good hede to the wordes, I thee rede. Continuaunce in thy good service, by longe processe of tyme in ful hope abyding, without any chaunge to wilne in thyne herte, this is the spire. Whiche, if it be wel kept15 and governed, shal so hugely springe, til the fruit of grace is plentuously out-sprongen. For although thy wil be good, yet may not therfore thilk blisse desyred hastely on thee discenden; it must abyde his sesonable tyme. And so, by processe of growing, with thy good traveyle, it shal in-to more and more wexe,20 til it be found so mighty, that windes of yvel speche, ne scornes of envy, make nat the traveyle overthrowe; ne frostes of mistrust, ne hayles of jelousy right litel might have, in harming of suche springes. Every yonge setling lightly with smale stormes is apeyred; but whan it is woxen somdel in gretnesse, than han25grete blastes and †weders but litel might, any disadvantage to them for to werche.’
‘Myne owne soverayne lady,’ quod I, ‘and welth of myne herte , and it were lyking un-to your noble grace therthrough nat to be displesed , I suppose ye erren, now ye maken jelousy, envy,30 and distourbour to hem that ben your servauntes. I have lerned ofte, to-forn this tyme, that in every lovers herte greet plentee of jelousyes greves ben sowe, wherfore (me thinketh) ye ne ought in no maner accompte thilke thing among these other welked wivers and venomous serpentes, as envy, mistrust, and yvel35 speche.’
‘O fole,’ quod she, ‘mistrust with foly, with yvel wil medled, engendreth that welked padde! Truely, if they were distroyed, jelousy undon were for ever; and yet some maner of jelousy, I wot wel, is ever redy in al the hertes of my trewe servauntes, as thus: to be jelous over him-selfe, lest he be cause of his own40disese . This jelousy in ful thought ever shulde be kept, for ferdnesse to lese his love by miskeping, thorow his owne doing in leudnesse, or els thus: lest she, that thou servest so fervently, is beset there her better lyketh, that of al thy good service she compteth nat a cresse. These jelousies in herte for acceptable45 qualitees ben demed; these oughten every trewe lover, by kyndly [maner ], evermore haven in his mynde, til fully the grace and blisse of my service be on him discended at wil. And he that than jelousy caccheth , or els by wening of his owne folisshe wilfulnesse mistrusteth, truely with fantasy of venim he is foule50 begyled. Yvel wil hath grounded thilke mater of sorowe in his leude soule, and yet nat-for-than to every wight shulde me nat truste , ne every wight fully misbeleve; the mene of these thinges †oweth to be used. Sothly, withouten causeful evidence mistrust in jelousy shulde nat be wened in no wyse person commenly;55 suche leude wickednesse shulde me nat fynde. He that is wyse and with yvel wil nat be acomered, can abyde wel his tyme, til grace and blisse of his service folowing have him so mokel esed , as his abydinge toforehande hath him disesed .’
‘Certes, lady,’ quod I tho, ‘of nothing me wondreth, sithen60 thilke blisse so precious is and kyndly good, and wel is and worthy in kynde whan it is medled with love and reson , as ye toforn have declared. Why , anon as hye oon is spronge , why springeth nat the tother? And anon as the oon cometh, why receyveth nat the other? For every thing that is out of his kyndly place, by ful65appetyt ever cometh thiderward kyndely to drawe; and his kyndly being ther-to him constrayneth. And the kyndly stede of this blisse is in suche wil medled to †onbyde , and nedes in that it shulde have his kyndly being. Wherfore me thinketh, anon as that wil to be shewed and kid him profreth, thilke blisse shulde him70 hye, thilk wil to receyve; or els kynde[s] of goodnesse worchen nat in hem as they shulde. Lo, be the sonne never so fer , ever [ ] it hath his kynde werching in erthe. Greet weight on hye on-lofte caried stinteth never til it come to †his resting-place. Waters75 to the see-ward ever ben they drawing. Thing that is light blythly wil nat sinke, but ever ascendeth and upward draweth. Thus kynde in every thing his kyndly cours and his beinge-place sheweth. Wherfore †by kynde, on this good wil, anon as it were spronge, this blisse shulde thereon discende; her kynde[s] wolde,80 they dwelleden togider; and so have ye sayd your-selfe.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘thyne herte sitteth wonder sore, this blisse for to have; thyne herte is sore agreved that it tarieth so longe; and if thou durstest, as me thinketh by thyne wordes, this blisse woldest thou blame. But yet I saye, thilke blisse is kyndly good,85 and his kyndely place [is ] in that wil to †onbyde . Never-the-later, their comming togider, after kyndes ordinaunce, nat sodaynly may betyde; it muste abyde tyme, as kynde yeveth him leve . For if a man, as this wil medled gonne him shewe, and thilke blisse in haste folowed, so lightly comminge shulde lightly cause90 going. Longe tyme of thursting causeth drink to be the more delicious whan it is atasted.’
‘How is it,’ quod I than, ‘that so many blisses see I al day at myne eye, in the firste moment of a sight, with suche wil accorde? Ye, and yet other-whyle with wil assenteth, singulerly by him-selfe;95 there reson fayleth, traveyle was non ; service had no tyme. This is a queynt maner thing, how suche doing cometh aboute.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘that is thus. The erthe kyndely, after sesons and tymes of the yere, bringeth forth innumerable herbes and trees, bothe profitable and other; but suche as men might leve100 (though they nought in norisshinge to mannes kynde serven, or els suche as tournen sone unto mennes confusion, in case that therof they ataste), comen forth out of the erthe by their owne kynde, withouten any mannes cure or any businesse in traveyle. And the ilke herbes that to mennes lyvelode necessarily serven,105 without whiche goodly in this lyfe creatures mowen nat enduren, and most ben †norisshinge to mankynde, without greet traveyle, greet tilthe, and longe abydinge-tyme, comen nat out of the erthe, and [y]it with sede toforn ordayned, suche herbes to make springe and forth growe. Right so the parfit blisse, that we have in meninge of during-tyme to abyde, may nat come so lightly, but with greet110 traveyle and right besy tilth; and yet good seed to be sowe; for ofte the croppe fayleth of badde seede, be it never so wel traveyled. And thilke blisse thou spoke of so lightly in comming, trewly, is nat necessary ne abydinge; and but it the better be stamped, and the venomous jeuse out-wrongen, it is lykely to enpoysonen115 al tho that therof tasten. Certes, right bitter ben the herbes that shewen first [in ] the yere of her own kynde. Wel the more is the harvest that yeldeth many graynes, tho longe and sore it hath ben traveyled. What woldest thou demen if a man wold yeve three quarters of nobles of golde? That were a precious gift?’120
‘Ye, certes,’ quod I.