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The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols.
The late 19th century Skeat edition with copious scholarly notes and a good introduction to the texts.
The text is in the public domain.
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§ 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 on . 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 Diana ; 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 slepy 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.
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 third . 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.
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) 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 prison 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 could , 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 castle . 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 influence , 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 books , 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.
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 collation ; 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 them . 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.
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).
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 1395 .
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 Langland . 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.
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, 1402 , 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.
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 1400 , 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.
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.
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:—
Minor Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 14.
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.
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.
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 Lidegate .’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-matter . 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 1429 , 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.’
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.
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 own . 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 Love ,’ 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 opinions 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 line .
§ 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:—
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 Envoy , 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.
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 10 . 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-ly , 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:—
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.
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.
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). The “twelf unþēawas” existed also in Old-English; a homily on them is printed in Morris, Old Eng. Homilies, pp. 101–119 . 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.’
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 42–60 . 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 40 .
Then he went over the list again, and struck out, on internal evidence, nos. 15, 18, 21, 22, and 32 .
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 ago ; and there is an end of the matter. The MS. copy is in a hand of the sixteenth century , 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 adjective . 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 growen ; 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 it .
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 throughout . 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, shuld , 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.
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 age ; (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 Lydgate , 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.
MANY men there ben that, with eeres openly sprad, so moche swalowen the of jestes and of ryme, , that of the goodnesse or of the badnesse of the sentence take they litel hede or els .
, dul 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 percen the herte of the herer to the , and planten there the sentence of thinges, so that with litel helpe it is able to ; this , that nothing hath of the of10 wit ne of semelich colours, is dolven with rude wordes and boystous, and so drawe togider, to maken the therof ben the more redy to 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 the sight of the better colours yeven to hem more joye for the . So, sothly, this leude clowdy occupacion is not to prayse but by the leude; for leude20 commendeth. Eke it shal , that other precious thinges shal be the more in reverence. In Latin and French hath many soverayne wittes had to endyte, and have many noble thinges ; 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 . And many termes there ben in , [of] whiche unneth we Englishmen connen declare the knowleginge. shulde than a Frenche man suche30 termes in his mater, but as the jay chatereth ? Right so, trewly, the understanding of Englishmen wol not to the privy termes in Frenche, what-so-ever we bosten of straunge langage. Let than clerkes endyten in Latin, for they have the of science, and the knowinge in that35 ; and 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 be litel 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, the vyces or vertues of other, in whiche thing lightly may be conceyved to eschewe perils, and to , after as aventures have fallen to other people or persons.
45Certes, [ is] the thing of desyre, and moste † resonable have, or els shulde have, ful appetyte to their ; unresonable beestes mowen not, hath in hem no werking. Than that wol not is comparisoned to unresonable, and made lyke hem. For-sothe, the50 most soverayne and fynal of man is in knowing of a sothe, withouten any entent disceyvable, and in love of very god that is inchaungeable; that is, to knowe and love his creatour.
¶ , principally, the to bringe in knowleging and55 loving his creatour is the consideracion of thinges made by the creatour, wherthrough, thilke thinges that ben made understonding here to our wittes, the unsene privitees of god made to us , in our contemplacion and understonding. These thinges than, forsoth, moche bringen us to the ful knowleginge [of] sothe, and to the love of the60 maker of hevenly thinges. Lo, sayth, ‘thou delyted me in makinge,’ as who sayth, to have in the tune, how god hath lent me in consideracion of thy makinge.
Wherof Aristotle, in the boke , to naturel philosophers: ‘it is a lyking in love of knowinge their65 creatour; and also in knowinge of causes in kyndely .’ , forsoth, the formes of kyndly thinges and the shap, a kindely love 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 swetande travayle to us leften of causes [of] the in natures of thinges. To whiche (therfore) philosophers it was more joy, more lykinge, more herty lust, in kyndely vertues and , the by busy75 study to knowe, than to have had al the , 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 arn writen; and in the contrarye, that is to sayne, in , the foule pitte of helle, arn thilke pressed80 that suche goodnesse hated. And bycause this shal be of love, and the pryme causes of steringe in that doinge, with passions and for wantinge of desyre, I wil that this be cleped The Testament of Love.
But , thou reder, who is thilke that wil not in scorne85 laughe, to here a dwarfe, or els halfe a man, say he wil out the swerde of Hercules handes, and also he shuld Hercules Gades a myle yet ferther; and over that, he had power of strengthe to up , that Alisander the noble might never wagge? , passing al thinge, to ben90 mayster of Fraunce by might, there-as the noble gracious Edward the thirde, for al his prowesse in victories, ne might al yet conquere?
Certes, I wel, ther shal be mad more scorne and jape of me, that I, so clothed al-togider in the cloudy cloude95 of , 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) † up clene toforn hem, and with their sharpe sythes of conning al mowen, and100 therof and noble, ful of al , to fede me and many another. Envye, forsothe, commendeth nought his that he hath in , be it never so trusty. And these noble repers, as good workmen and worthy their , han al drawe and bounde up in the sheves, and many105 shockes, yet have I ensample to the smale crommes, and my walet of tho that fallen from the borde the smale houndes, notwithstandinge the travayle of the almoigner, that hath drawe up in the cloth al the , as trenchours, and the , to bere to the almesse.
110Yet also have I leve of the noble husbande , al-though I be a straunger of conninge, to come after his doctrine, and these workmen, and glene my handfuls of the shedinge after their handes; and, if me faile ought of my ful, to my porcion with that I shal drawe by out of the shocke.115 A servaunt in his owne helpe is often moche commended; of trouth in causes of thinges was more hardyer in the first sechers (and so sayth ), and lighter in us that han folowed after. For their passing † han fresshed our wittes, and our understandinge han excyted, in consideracion of trouth,120 by sharpnesse of their . Utterly these thinges be no dremes ne japes, to throwe to hogges; it is for children of trouthe; and as they me , whan I pilgrimaged out of my kith in winter; whan the † out of was boystous, and the wylde , as his asketh, with125 coldes maked the wawes of the occian-see so to aryse unkyndely over the commune bankes, that it was in poynte to al the erthe.
Thus endeth the Prologue; and here-after foloweth the first book of the Testament of Love.
ALAS! Fortune! alas! I that som-tyme in delicious houres was wont to blisful stoundes, am now drive by unhappy hevinesse to bewaile my yvels in tene!
Trewly, I leve, in myn herte is writte, of perdurable letters, al the entencions of lamentacion that ben y-nempned! For any5 maner , in sobbing maner, sheweth sorowful yexinge from within. Thus from my I ginne to spille, sith she that shulde me solace is fro my presence. Certes, her absence is to me an ; my sterving thus in wo it myneth, that care is throughout myne herte clenched; blisse of10 my joye, that ofte me murthed, is turned in-to galle, to thinke on that may not, at my wil, in armes me ! Mirth is chaunged in-to tene, whan is there continually that reste was wont to sojourne and have . Thus , thoughtful, lokinge, I endure my penaunce in this derke ,15 † fro frendshippe and acquaintaunce, and forsaken of al that any † dare speke. hath by waye of intrucioun his home, there me shulde be, if were as he shulde. Never-the-later yet hertly, lady precious Margarit, have mynde on thy servaunt; and thinke on his , how lightles he20 liveth, sithe the brennende in love of thyn eyen are so , that worldes and cloudes atwene us twey wol nat suffre my thoughtes to be enlumined! Thinke that vertue of a is, amonges many other, the sorouful to comforte; yet † that, me sorouful to comforte, is my 25 to have nought els at this tyme, ne deth ne no maner traveyle hath no power, herte so moche to fade, as shulde to here of a in your ! Ah! god forbede that; but yet me me sterve withouten any of penaunce, rather than hertely thinking in ought30 were ! What my service , in absence of her that my service shulde accepte? Is this nat sorowe to thinke? Yes, yes, god wot; nigh a-sonder. shulde the , without kyndly noriture, bringen 35 any frutes? shulde a , withouten a sterne, in the see be governed? 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 Eve to me, ‘Adam, in sorowe fallen from welth, driven40 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. from thens I lye and the commune erth, there ne is cable in no lande maked, that might to me, to drawe me in-to blisse; ne steyers45 to on is none; so that, without recover, here to endure, I wel, I [am] . O, where art thou now, , that som-tyme, with laughande chere, madest bothe face and countenaunce to me-wardes? Truely, thou went out of towne. But ever, me thinketh, he his olde50 clothes, and that the soule in the whiche the lyfe of frendship was in, is drawen out from his other spirites. than, farewel, frendship! and farewel, felawes! Me thinketh, ye al han taken your ; 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 so sore under my brest, that other thought cometh not in my mynde but gladnesse, to thinke on your goodnesse and your mery chere; † and sorowe, to thinke on your60 wreche and your daunger; from whiche me save! My joye it is to have in meditacion the , the vertues, the nobley in you printed; sorowe and comen at ones, to suppose that I be † . Thus with care, sorowe, and tene am I , myn ende with dethe to make. Now, good goodly,65 thinke on this. O foole that I am, fallen in-to so lowe, the of my brenning tene hath me al defased. How shulde ye, lady, sette prise on so foule fylthe? My conninge is thinne, my is exiled; lyke to a foole naturel am I comparisoned. Trewly, lady, but your mercy the more were, I wel al my labour were in ydel; your 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 . And it is impossible, the colours of your to chaunge: and forsothe I wel, not abyde there so noble vertue haboundeth, so that the defasing to you is verily ,75 as countenaunce of goodnesse with encresinge vertue is so in you , to abyde by necessary maner: yet, if the revers mighte (which is ayenst kynde), I † myn herte ne shulde therfore naught , by the leste poynt of gemetrye; so sadly is it † , that away from your service in love he not departe.80 O love, whan shal I ben ? O , whan shal I ben ? O good goodly, whan shal the dyce turne? O ful of vertue, do the of upwarde to falle! O love, whan wolt thou thinke on thy servaunt? I can no more but here, 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 make an ebbe. These mowen wel, by duresse of sorowe, make my lyfe to unbodye, and so for to dye; but certes ye, lady, in a ful of love ben so with my soule, that may not thilke knotte unbynde ne departe; so that ye and my90 soule shulde ; and there shal my soule at the ful ben , that he may have your presence, to shewe of his desyres. Ah, dere god! that shal be a joye! , erthely goddesse, take regarde of thy servant, though I be feble; for thou to prayse them better that95 serve in love, al be he ful mener than kinges or princes that wol not have that vertue in mynde.
, precious Margaryte, that with thy noble vertue drawen me in-to love first, therof to have blisse, [ ]-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 , and enlumininge 105 al other people by habundaunce of , 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 pretende. These thinges also, on right syde and lift, have me so envolved with care, that wanhope of helpe is throughout me ronne; , † , that is my fortune, whiche that ever sheweth it me-wardes by a cloudy , al redy to make stormes of tene;115 and the blisful syde stil awayward, and wol it not suffre to me-wardes to turne; , yet wol I not ben conquered.
! that your nobley, so moche among al other creatures commended by † streme †of al maner vertues, but ther ben wonderful, I not whiche that let the 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 , that in the degree of sorowe and , and, without your goodly wil, from any helpe and recovery. These sorowes I not sustene, but-if my sorowe shulde be125 and to you-wardes shewed; although moche space is bitwene us , yet me thinketh that by suche † wordes my ginneth ebbe. Trewly, me thinketh that the sowne of my lamentacious weping is right flowe in-to your presence, and there cryeth after mercy and grace, to which thing (me semeth)130 answere to yeve, but with a deynous chere ye commaunden it to avoide; but god forbid that any 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 ; but comfort is to me right naught ,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 , that al-togider I was ravisshed, I can not ; but all my passions and felinges weren , as it semed, for the tyme; and sodainly a maner of drede in me al at ones; nought suche5 have of an enemy, that were mighty and wolde hem greve or . For, I trowe, this is wel knowe to many persones, that otherwhyle, if a man be in his soveraignes presence, a maner of crepeth in his herte, not for harme, but of goodly ; namely, as men reden that aungels ben aferde10 of our saviour in heven. And pardè, there ne is, ne no passion of be; but it is to , that angels ben adradde, not by † of drede, sithen they ben perfitly blissed, [but] as [by] of wonderfulnesse and by service of obedience. Suche ferde also han these lovers in presence of their loves, and15 subjectes their soveraynes. Right so with myn herte was caught. And I sodainly astonied, there entred in-to the place there I was , the semeliest and goodly to my sight that ever apered to any creature; and trewly, in the of her looke, she yave gladnesse and20 to al my wittes; and right so she to every wight that cometh in her presence. And for she was so goodly, as me thought, herte 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 , without of my kepers. For certes, the vertue of dedes of mercy to visiten the poore prisoners, and hem, after that ben had, to comforte, me semed that I was so in-to miserye and30 caytifnesse, that me shulde no precious ; and also, that for my sorowe every wight shulde ben , 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:—
‘ , thou that my maner be, to my frendes or my servauntes? ,’ quod she, ‘it is my ful entente to visyte and comforte al my and , as wel in40 tyme of perturbacion as of moost of blisse; in me shal unkyndnesse never be founden: and also, sithen I have so fewe especial trewe in these dayes. Wherefore I wel at more leysar come to hem that me deserven; and if my cominge in any thinge avayle, wete wel, I wol come often.’
45‘ , good lady,’ quod I, ‘that art so fayre on to loke, reyninge by thy wordes, blisse of arn thy lokinges, joye and are thy movinges. What is thy name? is it that in you is so mokel werkinge vertues enpight, as me semeth, and in none other creature that ever I with myne50 eyen?’
‘My disciple,’ quod she, ‘me wondreth of thy wordes and on , that for a litel foryeten my name. thou not wel that I am Love, that first brought to thy service?’
‘O good lady,’ quod I, ‘is this to or to 55 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 to myn hostel; and yet many werninges thou madest er thou liste fully to home to make at my dwelling-place; and thou comest goodly by60 , to comforte me with wordes; and so I ginne remembre on passed gladnesse. Trewly, lady, I ne whether I shal say welcome or , sithen thy coming wol as moche do me tene and sorowe, as gladnesse and mirthe. why: for that me 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, than I am comforted by your comminge’; and with that I gan in teeres to distille, and tenderly wepe.
‘ , certes,’ quod Love, ‘I wel, and that me over-thinketh, thinketh, that fayleth, and [thou] in pointe70 to dote.’
‘Trewly,’ quod I, ‘that have ye maked, and that ever wol I rue.’
‘Wottest thou not wel,’ quod she, ‘that every ought by reson to seke his sperkelande , that ronne in-to75 wildernesse busshes and perils, and hem to their pasture ayen-bringe, and take on hem privy besy cure of keping? And the unconninge scattred wolde ben , renning to wildernesse, and to desertes drawe, or els wolden hem-selfe to the swalowinge wolfe, yet shal the , by businesse and80 travayle, so him , that he shal not hem be by no waye. A good putteth rather his to ben for his . But for thou not wene me being of werse condicion, trewly, for everich of my folke, and for al tho that to be knit in any condicion, I wol rather dye than suffre85 hem 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. thou not kinde I , Priamus of Troy? How Jason me falsed, for al his behest? How , 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 bytwene god and mankynde,95 and a mayde to be nompere, to the quarel at ende? Lo! I have travayled to have on al sydes, and yet list me not to , and I might fynde on I shulde werche. But trewly, myn owne disciple, bycause I have founde, at al assayes, in thy wil to be redy myn hestes to have folowed and100 ben trewe to that Margarite-perle that ones I shewed; and she alwaye, , hath but daungerous chere; I am come, in propre person, to out of errours, and make thee gladde by wayes of ; so that sorow ne shal 105 no more hereafter amaistry. Wherthrough I hope thou lightly come to the grace, that thou longe desyred, of thilke jewel. thou not many ensamples, 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 to voyde vyce and shame? Who hath holde and realmes in prosperitè? If liste ayen thyn olde remembraunce, thou coudest every of this declare in especial; and say that I, thy maistresse, have be ,115 causing these thinges and many mo other.’
‘ , y-wis, madame,’ quod I, ‘al these thinges I knowe wel my-selfe, and that thyn excellence passeth the understanding of us beestes; and that no mannes erthely may comprehende thy vertues.’
120‘Wel than,’ quod she, ‘for I and sorowe, I wel thou of my nories; I not suffre so to make sorowe, thyn owne selfe to shende. But I my-selfe come to be fere, thyn hevy charge to make to seme the lesse. For that is alone; and to the sorye, to ben moned by a sorouful125 wight, it is 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 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 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 ; and135 also to lerne maner in countenaunce, in wordes, and in , and to ben meke and lowly to every wight, his name and fame to ; and to yeve gret yeftes and large, that his renomè springen. But therof have I excused; for thy losse and thy costages, thou nedy, to me140 unknowen; but I hope to god somtyme it shal ben amended, as 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 or proude, or be envious or of acqueyntaunce, hasteliche have I suche voyded out of my . 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 ! In the grace thorough whiche any creature in this worlde hath any goodnesse. Trewly, al maner of blisse and preciousnesse in vertue out of150 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 dare than beestes in this worlde aught forfete155 ayenst thy devyne purveyaunce? Also, lady, ye knowen al the privy thoughtes; in hertes no ben from your knowing. Wherfore I 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 afore myn eyen, I trowe it wolde not me have vayled.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘haddest thou so , I wolde not have here visited.’165
‘Ye wete wel, lady, eke,’ quod I, ‘that I have not 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 , by strength, maden myn herte to tourne.’170
‘In good ,’ quod she, ‘I have knowe ever of tho condicions; and sithen thou woldest (in as moch as in was) a privy of thy and juge of thy conscience (though I it in tho dayes til I saw better my tyme), wolde never god that I shuld 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 , but al hast thou tho thinges to me open at the ful, that hath caused my cominge180 in-to this prison, to webbes of thyne eyen, to make thee clerely to 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 redy to , and also that I not myselfe ben in place to thilke men that of thee speken185 otherwyse than 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 the people. For bookes written neyther dreden ne shamen, ne stryve conne; but shewen the entente of the190 wryter, and yeve remembraunce to the herer; and if any wol in thy presence saye to tho wryters, loke boldely; 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 not varye at thy nede. I trowe the strongest and195 the beste that be founde wol not thy wordes; wherof than woldest thou drede?’
GRETLY was I tho of these wordes, and (as who saith) wexen light in herte; both for the auctoritè of witnesse, and also for sikernesse of helpe of the forsayd beheste, and sayd:—
5‘Trewly, lady, am I wel gladded through of your wordes. Be it lykinge unto your nobley to shewe whiche diffame your servauntes, sithe your service ought above al other thinges to ben commended.’
‘Yet,’ quod she, ‘I wel thy soule is not al out of the10 amased cloude. were better to here thing that might 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 as thou ) wol not yet suche thinges sinken. , therfore, and let me thy hevy charge, that I may the lightlier for thy 15 .’
‘ , certes, lady,’ quod I, ‘the moste I might have were utterly to wete me be sure in herte of that Margaryte I serve; and so I thinke to don with al mightes, whyle my lyfe dureth.’20
‘Than,’ quod she, ‘ thou therafter, in suche wyse that misplesaunce ne entre?’
‘In good fayth,’ quod I, ‘there shal no misplesaunce be caused through trespace on my syde.’
‘And I do to weten,’ quod she, ‘I person25 to serve in no place (but-if he caused the contrary in defautes and trespaces) that he ne spedde of his service.’
‘Myn owne erthly lady,’ quod I tho, ‘and yet remembre to your worthinesse long sithen, by many revolving of yeres, in tyme whan Octobre his ginneth take and Novembre30 sheweth him to sight, whan bernes ben ful of goodes as is the nutte on ; and than good ginne shape for the erthe with travayle, to bringe more to mannes sustenaunce, ayenst the nexte yeres folowing. In suche tyme of he that hath an home and is wyse, not to35 wander mervayles to seche, but he be constrayned or excited. Oft the lothe thing is , by excitacion of other mannes opinion, whiche wolden fayne have myn abydinge. [ ] take in herte of luste to travayle and of the erthe in that tyme of winter. By that large stretes in,40 by smale pathes that and hogges hadden made, as lanes with their maste to seche, I walked thinkinge alone a wonder whyle; and the beestes that the woode haunten and adorneth al maner forestes, and heerdes to wilde. Than, er I was , I neyghed to a see-banke; and for45 ferde of the beestes “ ” I cryde. For, lady, I trowe ye wete wel your-selfe, nothing is werse than the beestes that shulden ben tame, if they her wildenesse, and ginne ayen waxe ramage. Thus forsothe was I , and to shippe me hyed.50
Than were there y-nowe to myn handes, and drawe me to , of whiche I 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 this55 of Traveyle. So whan the was sprad, and this ship gan to move, the 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 hate prively closed and . The so straungely and in a devouring60 maner gan so faste us assayle, that I supposed the date of my deth shulde have there his ginning. up, now downe, under the wawe and aboven was my a whyle. And so by mokel duresse of † and of stormes, and with [of] pilgrimages, was driven to an yle,65 where utterly I wende first to have be rescowed; but trewly, † the first ginning, it semed me so perillous the haven to , that but grace I had ben comforted, of lyfe I was ful dispayred. Trewly, lady, if ye remembre a-right of al maner thinges, your-selfe hastely to sene us see-driven, and to70 weten what we weren. But first ye were deynous of chere, after whiche ye gonne better ; and ever, as me thought, ye lived in drede of ; 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 was out of mynde. But, lady, as ye me , I was bothe of beestes and of fisshes, a nombre thronging togider; whiche a muskel, in a blewe shel, had enclosed a Margaryte-perle, the moste precious and best that ever 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 my whyle; and ever sithen I have me bethought on that sought the precious Margarytes; and whan he had85 founden to his lyking, he solde al his good to bye that jewel. Y-wis, thought I, (and yet so I thinke), have I founden the jewel that herte desyreth; wherto shulde I seche further? Trewly, wol I stinte, and on this Margaryte I sette me for ever: 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 but he hath ; 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 , “to bringen men in-to joye”; and, pardè, ye wete wel that defaut ne trespace may not ben put to me-wardes,95 as as my conscience knoweth.
But of my 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 had me mased. Also, lady myne, desyre hath longe dured, some speking to have; or els at the lest have ben with sight; and for wantinge of these thinges105 my wolde, and he durst, pleyne right sore, sithen yvels for my goodnesse manyfolde to me yolden. I wonder, lady, trewly, save evermore your reverence, 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 this110 , that . Good lady, if ye liste, your to me shewe, that am of your privyest servantes at al assayes in this tyme, and under your winges of . No to me-wardes is shapen; shal than straungers in any wyse after loke, whan I, that am so privy, yet of helpe115 I do fayle? Further I not, but thus in this abyde; what bondes and chaynes me holden, lady, ye wel your-selfe. A hath not halfe the care. But thus, syghing and sobbing, I wayle here alone; and nere it for of your presence, right here wolde I sterve. And yet a litel am I ,120 that so goodly hap have I , graciously to fynde the precious Margarite, that (al other ) men shulde bye, if they shulde therfore al her substaunce. Wo is me, that so many and purpose-brekers ben maked wayters,125 suche prisoners as I am to overloke and to hinder; and, for suche lettours, it is any suche jewel to winne. Is this, lady, an honour to thy ? 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 . 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 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 holpen, I see my-selfe140 withouten recovery. Although I might hence voyde, yet wolde I not; I wolde abyde the that hath me ordeyned, whiche I suppose is without amendement; so sore is my herte bounden, that I thinken other. Thus strayte, lady, hath sir Daunger laced me in stockes, I leve it be not your wil;145 and for I 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 , so as ye mowe wel in case that you liste, my blisse and my mirthe ; 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 sorowe. And yet al this is litel to be the ernest-silver in forwarde of this bargayne; for treble-folde so mokel muste I suffer er tyme come of myn . . 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 ? Who shal waylen with me owne ? Who shal counsaile me in my lyking tene, and in my goodly ? 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 , to stanche the thurste of my blisful bitternesse? Lo, thus I brenne and I drenche; I shiver and I . To this reversed yvel was never yet ordeyned salve; forsoth al † ben unconning, save the Margaryte alone, any suche remedye to .’
AND with these wordes I brast out to wepe, that every teere of myne eyen, for out the bal of my sight, and that al the water had ben out-ronne. Than thought me that Love gan a litel to for miscomfort of my chere; and gan soberly and in maner speke, wel avysinge what5 she sayd. Comenly the wyse speken and softe for many skilles. is, their wordes are the better bileved; and also, in esy , avysement men may , what to and what to holden in. And also, the auctoritè of wordes is the more; and eke, they yeven the more understandinge to other10 intencion of the mater. Right so this and in a softe maner gan say these wordes.
¶ ‘Mervayle,’ quod she, ‘ it is, that by no maner of semblaunt, as as I can espye, thou list not to have any recour; but ever thou playnest and sorowest, and wayes of remedye, for15 folisshe wilfulnesse, not to seche. But enquyre of thy next frendes, that is, thyne and me that have ben thy maystresse, and the recour and fyne of thy ; gladnesse and joy, with a ful † so helded, that it quencheth the felinge of the firste tenes. But thou that were not 20 these thinges remembre in thyne herte, but also fooles therof to enfourmen, in adnullinge of their errours and of their derke opinions, and in of their thoughtes; now canst thou not ben of thyn owne soule, in thinking of these thinges. O where thou be so longe , that hast so25 mikel eeten of the potages of foryetfulnesse, and dronken so of ignorance, that the olde whiche thou haddest of me 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 al reed.
And she than, seing me so astonyed by dyvers stoundes, sodainly (which 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 to wypen the that hingen on my chekes; and than sayd I in this wyse.
‘ , wel of and of al welthe, withouten may nothing ben lerned; thou the keyes of al privy thinges.40 In vayne travayle men to 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 goodly and benignely to , that governen us beestes here on erthe. Ye armen your servauntes ayenst al debates with45 imperciable harneys; ye setten in her hertes insuperable of hardinesse; ye hem to the good. Yet al desyreth ye no man of helpe, that † don your lore. Graunt me a litel of your grace, al my sorowes to .’
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; , 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 is contingent. Wherfore make no more thy proposicion by an impossible. But , I praye reherse me ayen tho thinges that thy mistrust causen; and thilke thinges I thinke by to60 distroyen, and ful hope in thyn herte. What understondest thou there,’ quod she, ‘by that thou saydest, “ are thyn overlokers?” And also by “that thy moeble is insuffysaunt”? I not what thou therof .’
‘Trewly,’ quod I, ‘ I say, that janglers evermore65 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 of false tonges, that fame als swiftely flyeth to her 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 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.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘take good hede, and I shal by to shewen, that al these thinges mowe nat thy by the leest point that any wight coude pricke.80
REMEMBREST nat,’ quod she, ‘ensample is of the strongest , as for to preve a ? Than if I , by ensample, enduce to any proposicion, is it nat by strength?’
‘Yes, forsothe,’ quod I.5
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘raddest thou never Paris of Troye and Heleyne loved togider, and yet had they not entrecomuned of speche? Also , for 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 a sight. The power in knowing, of such thinges † preven, shal nat al utterly be yeven to you15 ; for many thinges, in suche precious maters, ben reserved to jugement of devyne purveyaunce; for among people, by mannes consideracion, moun they nat be determined. Wherfore I saye, al the envy, al the janglinge, that wel ny [ ]20 people upon my servauntes maken † , is rather cause of 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 unworship.’
25‘O,’ quod she, ‘ . I have founden to many that han ben to me unkynde, that trewly I wol suffre every wight in that wyse to have ; and who that continueth to the ende wel and trewly, hem wol I helpen, and as for oon of myne in-to blisse [ ] to wende. As [ ] marcial doing in Grece, who30 was y-crowned? By god, nat the strongest; but he that rathest and lengest and continued in the journey, and spared nat to traveyle as long as the play . But thilke person, that profred him to my service, [and] therin is a while, anon voideth and [ ] redy to another; and so he thinketh35 and another; entreth and anon respireth: such list me nat in-to blisse of my service bringe. A ofte set in dyvers places wol nat by kynde endure to bringe forth frutes. Loke , I pray thee, 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 , to tyme passed; eke hath maner, and another countrè hath another. And so may nat a man to his eye the45 that he with his hele. For this is sothe: betwixe two thinges liche, ofte dyversitè is required.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘that is sothe; dyversitè of nation, dyversitè of lawe, as was maked by many ; 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 † that is ordained by many , may nat be knowe for good or badde, til assay of the people han proved it and [ ] 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 ? Wherfore al lawe by mannes witte ought to be to lawe of kynde, whiche yet hath be commune to every kyndely60 creature; that my statutes and my lawe that ben kyndely 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 and many purposes. Yet saye I nat65 therfore that ayen newe men shulde nat ordaynen a newe remedye; but alwaye looke it contrary not the olde no ferther than the malice . Than foloweth it, the olde doinges in love han ben universal, as for most used; wherfore I wol not yet that of my lawes be adnulled.70 But thanne to thy : suche and lokers, and of games, if thinke in aught they mowe dere, yet love wel alwaye, and sette hem at naught; and thy ben lowe in every wightes presence, and redy in thyne herte to maynteyne that thou hast begonne; and a litel fayne with75 mekenesse in wordes; and thus with sleyght shalt thou surmount and dequace the yvel in their hertes. And yet is to seme flye otherwhyle, there a man wol . Thus with suche thinges the tonges of yvel shal ben stilled; els fully to thy ful , 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, wel, that he that dredeth any , to sowe his , he shal have than [ ] bernes. Also he that85 is of his clothes, let him daunce naked! nothing undertaketh, and namely in my service, nothing acheveth. stormes the † is often mery and smothe. After moche clatering, there is mokil rowning. Thus, after jangling wordes, cometh “ ! ! and be !” ’90
‘O good lady!’ quod I than, ‘ , seven yere passed and more, have I graffed and † a vyne; and with al the wayes that I coude I sought to a fed me of the grape; but frute have I founde. Also I have this seven yere served Laban, to95 a wedded Rachel his doughter; but blere-eyed 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. than I pray that to me [ ] sone fredom and grace in this eight[eth] yere; this mowe to me bothe be 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 in thyn enemyes mowe110 this on thy person be not : “lo! 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 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 hath ben [to] with my blisse lyons in the felde and lambes in chambre; egles at assaute and maydens in halle; foxes in counsayle, in their dedes; and their is graunted, redy to ben ; 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 in Rome, to be mayster of al erthly princes; and Eneas from hel, to be king of the countrè there Rome is stonding. And so to thee I say;130 thy grace, by bering ther-after, may in suche plight, that no jangling may greve the tucke of thy hemmes; that [suche] are their † , is nought to counte at a cresse in thy disavauntage.
EVER,’ quod she, ‘hath the people in this worlde desyred to have had name in worthinesse, and hated foule to bere any ; and that is of the 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.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘if men with enfame, wenest thy-selfe therby ben enpeyred? That wening is ; see why; for as moche as they lyen, thy meryte , and make[th] more worthy, to hem that knowen of the soth;10 by what thing thou art apeyred, that in so mokil thou of thy beloved frendes. And sothly, a wounde of thy frende [ ] to lasse , ye, sir, and better than a kissing in disceyvable glosing of thyne enemy; above that than, to be wel with thy frende maketh [ ] suche enfame. Ergo, thou encresed15 and not apeyred.’
‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘somtyme yet, if a man be in , 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 ne to the qualitè of the doing; as thus. If a man be riche and with worldly welfulnesse, some commenden it, and it is so by juste cause; and he that hath adversitè, they he is ; and25 hath deserved thilke . The contrarye of these thinges some men holden also; and that to the riche prosperitè is purvayed in-to his confusion; and upon this mater many autoritès of many and clerkes they alegen. And some men30 sayn, though al good estimacion folk that han adversitè, yet is it meryte and of his blisse; so that these purposes so wonderful in understanding, that trewly, for myn adversitè , I not 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 maist thou wel. ther-upon after what ende it draweth, that is to sayne, good or badde; so ought it to have his by badnesse. For [of] every person, and40 namely of a wyse man, his ought not, without reson to-forn , sodainly in a mater to juge. After the sawes of the wyse, “thou shalt not juge ne deme thou knowe.” ’
‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘ye remembre wel, that in moste laude and praysing of certayne seyntes in holy churche, is to rehersen their45 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. turned the Romayne 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 . In my youth I was drawe to ben assentaunt and (in my mightes) helping to certain conjuracions and other55 maters of ruling of citizins; and thilke thinges ben my drawers in; and to tho maters 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 you the sothe, me rought litel of any hate of the mighty senatours in thilke citè, ne of comunes malice; for two skilles. was, I had to ben in suche plyte, that bothe were to me and to my frendes. Another was, for commen in is not but and65 tranquilitè, with just governaunce, proceden from thilke ; sithen, by counsayle of myne inwitte, me thought the firste painted thinges malice and yvel , 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 [ ] teres [ ] lasshed out of myne eyen were thus awaye wasshe, than the under-hidde malice and the of purposing envye, and imagined in of mokil people, shewed so openly, that, had I ben , with myne hondes al the circumstaunce I might wel have feled.75
than tho persones that suche thinges have to redresse, for wrathe of my first medlinge, shopen me to in this pynande prison, til Lachases my 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 might80 ben 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 , any comune † to ben saved; whiche to kepe above al thinges I am holde to mayntayne, and namely in85 of a wrong; al shulde I therthrough enpeche myn owne fere, if he were gilty and to do assentaunt. And mayster ne 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 begyled, that and they maynteyned, and in on that other syde;95 by whiche cause the , that moste in comunaltee shulde be desyred, was in poynte to be broken and adnulled. Also the of London, that is to me so dere and swete, in whiche I was 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 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 it is, al men that desyren to comen to the 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 to al his frendes, whanne he retourned to the place from whence he ; this his apostel amonesteth to holden, without whiche man 110 may have insight. Also this god, by his coming, made not alone betwene hevenly and erthly bodyes, but also amonge us on erthe so he confirmed, that in heed of love body we shulde perfourme. Also I remembre me wel the name of was rather after the god of than of batayle,115 shewinge that pees moste is necessarie to . I than, so styred by al these wayes 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 , drawen also the witted120 people, that have insight of prudence, to clamure and to crye on maters that they styred; and under poyntes for comune avauntage they enbolded the 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 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 surmounten, and putten you in such , 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 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 ; for extorcions by hem committed ben evermore ayenst these purposes and al other good mevinges. Never-the-latter, lady, trewly the under these wordes was, fully to have apeched the , whiche hadden herte for the misgovernaunce that they seen. And so, lady, whan it fel that free140 [was mad], by clamour of moche people, [ ] for greet of misgovernaunce so fervently stoden in her that they hem submitted to every maner † 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 to voluntary lustes withouten . But than thilke governour so forsaken, fayninge his undoinge for misrule in his tyme, to have letted thilke , and have made a newe, him-selfe to have ben chosen; and under that, mokil rore [to] have arered. These thinges, lady,150 knowen 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 purvaye remedye; in this wyse and rest to be furthered and holde. Of the whiche thinges, lady,155 thilke persones broughten in answere their moste soverayne juge, not , openly knowlegeden, and asked therof grace; so that it preveth my wordes ben sothe, without forginge of .
But 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 be knowe. For my trouthe and my conscience ben witnesse to me bothe, that this (knowinge sothe) have I , for no harme ne malice of tho persones, but for trouthe of my in my , by whiche165 I was charged on my kinges behalfe. But see ye not , lady, how the felonous thoughtes of this people and covins of wicked men conspyren ayen my sothfast trouth! 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 , and studyen they mowen in her mouthes werse plyte nempne? O god, what this be, that thilke whiche that in tyme of my mayntenaunce, and whan my might avayled to 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 , yevinge me name of badde loos: bothe tho peoples turned the good in-to180 badde, and badde in-to good? Whiche thing is wonder, that they me but sothe, tempted to her olde praysinges; and knowen me wel in al doinges to ben trewe, and openly that I false have sayd many thinges! And they aleged me to ben false or untrewe, save thilke mater185 knowleged by the parties hem-selfe; and god , other mater is . 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 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, , al the sothe knowe of these thinges in acte, they , I have195 put it in scripture, in perpetuel remembraunce of true . For trewly, lady, me semeth that I ought to the name of trouthe, that for the love of rightwysnesse have thus me † . But than the false fame, which that ( ) flyeth as faste as the fame of trouthe, shal so wyde sprede200 til it be brought to the jewel that I of ; and so shal I ben hindred, withouten any of trouthe.’
THAN gan Love sadly me beholde, and sayd in a changed voyce, lower than she had spoken in any tyme: ‘ wolde I,’ quod she, ‘that thou were holpen; but thou sayd whiche thou might not proven?’
‘Pardè,’ quod I, ‘the persones, every thing as I have sayd, han5 knowleged hem-selfe.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘but what if they hadden nayed? woldest thou have maynteyned it?’
‘Sothely,’ quod I, ‘it is wel , bothe the 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.’
‘ , certes,’ quod she, ‘above al fames in this worlde, the name of marcial doinges 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 as if in dede it had take to the ende. And therfore every wight that any droppe of hath, and hereth of 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 on thy syde; so that fame shal holde down infame; shal bringe upon none halfe. What greveth thyne to their owne shame, as thus: “we 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 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 not crepe away in this wyse by none excusacion. wil say: “ye, who is trewe, who is , him-selfe35 knowlegeth tho thinges.” Thus in every syde fame sheweth to good and no badde.’
‘But yet,’ quod I, ‘some wil say, I ne shulde, for no dethe, have my ; 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.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘here me a fewe wordes, and thou fully45 ben , I trowe. Me thinketh (quod she) right , by thy wordes, of , that is to say, charging by othe, was of the causes to make thee discover malicious imaginacions tofore nempned. Every , by knittinge of , muste have these lawes, that is, jugement and right-wysenesse;50 in whiche thinge if any of these lacke, the is y-tourned in-to the name of perjury. Than to make a trewe serment, most nedes these thinges . For ofte tymes, a man to saye sothe, but jugement and justice folowe, he is forsworn; ensample of Herodes, for holdinge of his was [ ]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 , “better is it to dey than live .” And, wolde perverted people fals make in unkyndnesse, in that entent thy [en]fame to reyse, light of tr[o]uthe in these maters is 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 † hindringe of other mennes fame; which that by non other cause other men false, but for [ ] with their owne falsnesse mowen they nat ben avaunsed; or els70 by false wordes other men , their owne trewe sklaunder to make seme the lasse. For if such men wolden their eyen of their conscience revolven, [ ] shulden the same sentence they on other springe out of their sydes, with so many braunches, it were impossible to nombre. To whiche therefore ,75 therein thy-selfe thou condempnest.”
But (quod she) nat by these wordes, that thou wene me saye to be worthy sclaunder, for any mater tofore written; truely I wolde witnesse the contrary; but I saye that the of sclaundring wordes may not be awaye til the80 daye of dome. For shulde it nat yet, amonges so of people, ben many shrewes, sithen whan no mo but eight persons in Noes shippe were closed, yet was a and skorned his father? These thinges (quod she) I trowe, shewen that fame is nat to drede, ne of wyse persons to accepte, and85 namely nat of thy Margarite, whose here-after I thinke to declare; wherfore I wel suche shal nat her asterte; than of unkyndnesse hath excused at the fulle. But , if thou woldest nat greve, me list a fewe thinges to shewe.’90
‘Say on,’ quod I, ‘what ye wol; I trowe ye but trouthe and my in tyme cominge.’
‘Trewly,’ quod she, ‘that is sothe, so thou con wel kepe these wordes, and in the secrè chambre of thyne herte so faste hem close that they never flitte; than thou fynde hem95 avayling. Loke what people thou served; whiche of hem al in tyme of thyne exile ever refresshed, by the valewe of the leste coyned plate that walketh in money? Who was , or made any rewth for thy ? If they hadden getten their purpose, of thy misaventure sette they nat an hawe. Lo, whan100 thou were , faste they hyed in helpe of thy deliveraunce! I wene of thy dethe they yeve but lyte. They loked after but after their owne lustes. And if thou liste say the sothe, al that meyny that in this † thee broughten, lokeden rather 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 ? Who yave ever ought for any rydinge thou madest? Yet, , some of hem token money , and110 putte tho pens in his purse, unwetinge of the renter.
Lo for which a company thou medlest, that neither ne them-selfe mighten ; they the name that thou supposest of hem for to have. What might thou more have than thou diddest, but-if thou woldest in a 115 quarel have been a stinkinge martyr? I wene thou , as longe as thou might, their privitè to counsayle; which thing thou lenger than thou shuldest. And thilke that ought money no penny wolde paye; they wende thy returne hadde ben an impossible. might thou better have hem proved, but thus120 in thy nedy ? thou ensaumple for whom thou meddle; trewly, this lore is many goodes.’
† gan Love to † me [ ] these wordes: ‘thinke on my speche; for trewly here-after it wol do lykinge; and thou see Fortune shape her wheele to tourne, this by no waye revolve. For certes, Fortune5 sheweth her fayrest, whan she thinketh to begyle. And as me thought, 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 have, that loos and fame shul so ben raysed, that to thy frendes , and sorowe to thyne enemys,10 endlesse shul endure.
But if thou were the , amonges the hundred, were in deserte and out of the way hadde erred, and to the flocke restoored, the hath in no joye ayen to the forrest tourne. But that right as the sorowe and anguisshe15 was in tyme of thyne out-waye goinge, right so joye and gladnesse shal be doubled to sene converted; and nat as Lothes ayen-lokinge, but 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 otherwyse than I shulde. For20 trewly, I wel that thou in suche a purpose, out of whiche liste nat to parte. But I saye it for many men there , 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 abydeth, sodaynly procedeth the habundaunce of the herte, and wordes as out-throwe. Wherfore my is ever-more openly and , in what place thou sitte, counterplete and in as as thou hem30 false, and for no wight to make hem be knowe in every bodyes ; , what-so-ever of 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 in thyne herte, from al vanitè departe, in of al good of that Margaryte, whiche that thou desyrest after wil of thyn , in a maner of a † pitè, [ ] shul fully accepte in-to grace. For right as thou rentest clothes in40 open sighte, so openly to at his worshippe withouten reprofe [ ] commended. Also, right as thou were ensample of moche-folde errour, right so thou must be ensample of manyfolde ; so good savour to forgoing †of causeth diligent love, with many playted praisinges to folowe; and than shal al45 the firste errours make the folowinge worshippes to seme hugely . Blacke and white, togider, every for other more semeth; and so every thinges contrary in kynde. But infame, that alwaye tofore, and praysinge 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 , I saye, these thinges in hindringe of thy name? , but for pure worship, thy rightwysenesse to commende, and thy trouthe to seme the more. Wost nat wel55 thy-selfe, that thou in fourme of making † nat Adam that eet of the apple? Thou † nat the stedfastnesse of Noe, that of the grape dronke. Thou nat the chastitè of Lothe, that lay by his doughter; eke the nobley of Abraham, whom god reproved his pryde; also Davides60 mekenesse, whiche for a woman made Urye be slawe. What? also Hector of Troye, in no defaute might be founde, yet is he reproved that he ne hadde with manhode nat suffred the warre , ne Paris to have went in-to Grece, by whom al the sorowe. For trewly, him lacketh no venim of privè65 consenting, whiche that openly a to .
Lo eke an olde proverbe amonges many other: “He that is stille semeth as he graunted.”
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 be the more in reverence and in open shewing; for ensample, is it nat in holy churche, “Lo, necessary was Adams synne!” David the king Salomon the king of her that was Uryes . Truly, for reprofe75 is of these thinges writte. Right so, tho I reherce thy before-dede, I repreve never the more; ne for no villany of are they rehersed, but for worshippe, so thou continewe wel here-after: and for of thy-selfe I rede thou on hem thinke.’
Than sayde I right thus: ‘Lady of unitè and accorde, envy80 and wrathe there thou comest in place; ye weten wel your-selve, and so 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 as suche doinge of my cure .’
‘That is a thing,’ quod she, ‘that may drawe many hertes of noble, and voice of commune in-to glory; and fame is nat but90 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 to the cercle of heven? A pricke is95 wonder litel in of al the cercle; and yet, in al this pricke, may no name be , in maner of peersing, for many obstacles, as waters, and wildernesse, and straunge langages. And nat 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 hindred; so that they mowe nat ben in mennes propre understandinge. shulde than the name of a singuler Londenoys passe the glorious name of , 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 maner of people may nat such fame in goodnes come; for as many as praysen, commenly as many lacken. than on such maner fame! Slepe, and suffre him that knoweth previtè of hertes to dele suche fame in thilke place there 110 ayenst a sothe shal neither speke ne dare apere, by attourney ne by other maner. many , and many in worthinesse losed, han be tofore this tyme, that out of memorie are slidden, and clenely forgeten, for defaute of wrytinges! And yet scriptures for elde so ben defased, that115 no perpetualtè in hem ben juged. But if thou make comparisoun to ever, what joye mayst thou have in erthly name? It is a lykenesse, a pees or , to a shippes ful of corne charged! What nombre is betwene the and ? And yet mowe bothe they be nombred, and120 ende in rekening have. But trewly, al that be nombred is nothing to recken, as to thilke that nat be nombred. For †of thinges ended is comparison; as, litel, another ; 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 ende, but endlesse endureth; and thou aright, but thou desyre the therof be and in every wightes ; and that dureth but a pricke in respecte of the other. And so thou sekest of folkes130 smale wordes, and of vayne praysinges. Trewly, therin thou lesest the guerdon of vertue; and lesest the grettest of , 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. [ ] asketh135 guerdoning, and the soule causeth al vertue. Than the soule, delivered out of of erthe, is most worthy suche among to have in the everlastinge fame; and nat the body, that causeth al mannes yvels.
OF twey thinges thou answered, as me thinketh (quod Love); and if any be in doute in thy soule, shewe it forth, ignoraunce to clere, and it for no shame.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘there is no body in this worlde, that aught5 coude saye by ayenst any of your skilles, as I leve; and by my witte fele I wel, that yvel-spekers or of enfame may litel greve or lette my , but rather by suche thinge my quarel to be forthered.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘and it is proved also, that the like jewel in10 my kepinge shal nat be , of the lest moment that might be imagined.’
‘That is soth,’ quod I.
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘than † 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; and estate voyded, thou thinkest [ ] fallen in suche miserie, that gladnesse of thy pursute wol nat on discende.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘that is sothe; right suche thought is in herte; for commenly it is spoken, and for an olde-proverbe it is leged: “He that heweth to hye, with chippes he 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.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘god forbede † thou seke any other doinges but suche as I have lerned in our restinge-whyles, and suche herbes as ben planted in oure gardins. Thou 25 wel understande that above man is but god alone.’
‘ ,’ quod I, ‘han men 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, ‘ 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 to resonable creature in erthe? Is nat every , , to mannes contemplation, understandinge in heven and40 in erthe and in helle? Hath not 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 and understanding with aungels; so that in him is al maner of by a proporcioun. Also man is of45 al . Al universitee is rekened in him alone; he hath, under god, principalitè above al thinges. is his soule here, now a myle hence; nygh; hye, lowe; as in a as in mountenaunce of winter; and al this is in mannes governaunce and .50 Than sheweth it that men ben liche unto goddes, and children of moost heyght. But , sithen al thinges to the wil of creatures, god forbede any man to winne that , and aske helpe of lower than him-selfe; and than, namely, of foule thinges innominable. Now than, why shuldest55 thou wene to love to highe, sithen is above but god alone? Trewly, I wel that thilke jewel is in a maner in lyne of degree there thou thy-selfe, and nought above, save thus: aungel upon angel, upon , and devil upon devil60 han a maner of ; and that shal at the daye of dome. And so I say: thou be 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 not. the hardest: in my service65 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 overcome ; thou woldest never flitte out of thy service; and we al shul70 to the goddes, rowe by rowe, to make thilk Margarite, that no routh had in , but unkyndely without 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 chese, thilke soule shal ben committed.” Or els, after thy al the foresayd hevenly bodyes, by one accorde, shal † from thilke perle al the vertues that firste her were taken; for she hath hem forfeyted by that on , 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 liste to loke upon the lawe of kynde, and with order whiche to me was ordayned, sothely, age, overtourninge tyme but † had no tyme ne power to chaunge the wedding, ne85 the knotte to unbynde of two hertes [that] , in my presence, † accorden to enduren til hem departe. What? trowest thou, every the meninge and the privy entent of these thinges? They wene, forsothe, that suche may not be, but the rose of maydenhede be plucked. Do ,90 do way; they knowe nothing of this. For 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 bitwene thilke twaye. And trewly, after tyme that suche , by their consent in hert, is , and put in my tresorye amonges my privy thinges, than ginneth95 the name of spousayle; and although they bothe, yet suche mater is in remembrance for ever. And see that spouses have the name anon after , though the rose be not take. The aungel Joseph take Marye his spouse, and to Egypte wende. Lo! she was cleped “spouse,”100 and yet, ne after, neither of hem bothe mente no flesshly knowe. Wherfore the wordes of trouthe acorden that my servauntes shulden forsake bothe † , and be to his spouse; and they two in unitè of one flesshe shulden accorde. And this wyse, two that firste in a litel105 maner discordaunt, hygher that and lower that other, ben evenliche in gree to stonde. But to enfourme that ye ben liche to goddes, these clerkes , and in determinacion shewen, that “ thinges haven [ ] the names of goddes ben ; that is to sayn: man, divel, and images”;110 but yet is there but god, of whom al goodnesse, al grace, and al vertue cometh; and he † loving and trewe, and everlasting, and pryme cause of . 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 ; but neither ben they trewe ne everlastinge; and their name of godliheed han by usurpacion, as the : “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 “goddes” images wrought with mennes handes. But creature, that by adopcion alone to the god everlastinge, and therby thou “god” cleped: thy † maners so entre thy wittes that thou might folowe, in-as-moche as longeth to thee, thy † , so125 that in nothinge thy kynde from his wil declyne, ne from his nobley perverte. In this wyse if thou werche, thou above al other thinges save god alone; and so say no more “thyn herte129 to serve in to hye a place.”
FULLY have I declared thyn estate to be good, so thou folow therafter, and that the † first † aleged, in worthinesse of thy Margaryte, shal not lette, as it shal forther , and . It is to declare, the5 last in nothing may greve.’
‘Yes, certes,’ quod I, ‘bothe greve and muste it nedes; the contrarye not ben proved; and 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 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 ; al-be-it that15 the sothe be in the contrarye of al tho thinges. But he that 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 , his is but sotted. Lo! how fals for is holde trewe! Lo! trewe is for wanting20 of goodes! Also, lady, of office maken men mikel comended, as thus: “he is so good, , 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 25 fooles, wel I , desyren suche thinges. Wherfore I wonder that thilke governour, out of alone the causes proceden that governen al thinges, whiche that hath ordeyned this in workes of the kyndely bodyes so be governed, not with unstedfast or happyous thing, but with rules of , whiche shewen the course of certayne thinges: why suffreth he suche30 slydinge chaunges, that misturnen suche noble thinges as ben we men, that of the erthe, and holden the upperest degree, under god, of benigne thinges, as ye sayden right 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 shrewes that han wicked maners sitten in chayres of domes, lambes to punisshen, there wolves shulden ben punisshed. Lo! vertue, shynende naturelly, for lurketh, and is under cloude; but the moone false, (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 , and in-to night; winter in-to sommer, and sommer in-to winter; not in45 dede, but in 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 I never; but-if it be that Fortune50 hath graunt from above, to lede the ende of man as her lyketh.’
‘Ah! ,’ quod she, ‘ of thy ! Lo, bycause thy worldly goodes ben fulliche dispent, thou out of dignitè of office, in whiche thou madest the † of thilke goodes, and yet diddest in that office by counsaile of wyse [ ] any thing were ended; and true were unto hem thou shuldest loke; and seest many that in thilke hervest made of mokel, and , for glosing of other, deyneth 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 , and not ben accepted in-to grace. Al this shal nothing hinder. (quod she) first thou wel, thou lostest nothing that ever mightest thou65 chalenge for thyn owne. Whan nature brought , come thou not naked out of thy † wombe? Thou haddest no richesse; and whan thou shalt entre in-to ende of every flesshly body, what shalt thou have with thee than? So, every70 richesse thou in tyme of thy livinge, nis but ; thou might therin chalenge no . And ; every thing that is a mannes , he may do therwith what him lyketh, to yeve or to kepe; but richesse thou playnest from lost; if thy might had so ferforth, thou woldest have hem kept,75 multiplyed with mo other; and so, ayenst thy wil, ben they departed from ; wherfore they were never thyn. And if thou laudest and joyest any wight, for he is stuffed with suche maner richesse, thou in that beleve begyled; for thou wenest thilke joye to be selinesse or els ; and he that hath 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.’
‘ so?’ quod I.
85 ‘For Unsely,’ quod she, ‘begyleth nat, but sheweth 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. thou nat (quod she) preise him better that sheweth to his herte, tho[ugh] it be90 with bytande wordes and dispitous, than him that gloseth and thinketh in † absence to do many harmes?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘the is to commende; and the other to lacke and dispice.’
‘A! ha!’ quod she, ‘right so , while † 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 not begyle. Selinesse disceyveth; Unsely put 100 doute. That maketh men blynde; that other openeth their eyen in shewinge of . The 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 draweth a man from very good; the other haleth him to vertue by the hookes of thoughtes. And wenist thou nat that thy hath105 mokel more to winne than ever yet thou lostest, and more than ever the contrary made winne? Is nat a good, to thy thinking, for to knowe the hertes of thy sothfast frendes? , 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 than the ilke that was nat thyn proper. He was never from that lightly departed; owne good therfore it stille with good (quod she); for moche woldest thou somtyme have bought this verry knowing of thy frendes from 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 ; that thou unsely hath made moche to winnen. And also, for conclusioun of al, he is frende that nat his from thyne helpes. And if that Margarite denyeth now nat120 to suffre her vertues shyne to thee-wardes with , as or farther than if thou were sely in worldly joye, trewly, I saye nat els but she is to blame.’
‘Ah! ,’ quod I, ‘and speke no more of this; herte thou touchest any suche wordes!’125
‘A! wel!’ quod she, ‘thanne us singen; thou herest no more of these thinges at this tyme.’
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! in my mooste , as I wende and moost supposed to have ful answere of my contrary thoughtes, sodaynly it was vanisshed. And al the workes of man5 faren in the same wyse; whan wenen best her entent for to have and willes to perfourme, 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 so soone otherwysed out of knowinge!10 But for my 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; my thinne , with inspiracion of him that hildeth al grace, wol suffre. Grevously, god , have I suffred a throwe that the Romayne15 emperour, which in unitè of love shulde acorde, and every with other * * * * in cause of other to avaunce; and namely, this empyre [ ] to be corrected of so many sectes in heresie of faith, of service, rule in loves religion. Trewly, al were it but to shende opinions, I it no lenger suffre.20 For many there ben that love to be in gravel and sande, that with see ebbinge and flowinge , as riches that sodaynly vanissheth. And some sayn that love shulde be in windy blastes, that stoundmele turneth as a , 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 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 , whan they ginne to falle. But [ ] suche diversitè of sectes, ayenst the rightful beleve of love, these errours ben spredde, that loves servantes in trewe rule and in no place apere. Thus joy is went, and anoy is entred. For no man aright reproveth suche errours,35 but [ ] confirmen their wordes, and sayn, that badde is noble good, and goodnesse is badde; to which the prophete biddeth wo without ende.
Also manye tonges of false techinges in gylinge maner, principally in my tymes, not with wordes but also with ,40 loves servauntes and professe in his religion of trewe rule pursewen, to confounden and to distroyen. And for as moche as holy † , that of our Christen 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 hem out of their errour, was † of god shewed. These thinges were figured by cominge of to the shepherdes, and by the sterre to paynims kinges; as who : angel resonable to resonable creature, and sterre of miracle50 to people bestial not lerned, sent to enforme. But I, , in al my conning and with al my mightes, trewly I have no suche grace in vertue of miracles, ne for no falsheedes suffyseth not auctoritès alone; sithen that suche [ ] heretikes and maintaynours of falsitès. Wherfore I wel, sithen that55 they ben men, and is approved in hem, the clowde of hath her probable resons, whiche that rightfully may not with-sitte. By my travaylinge studie I have ordeyned hem, † that auctoritè, misglosed by mannes , to graunt shal ben enduced.60
ginneth my penne to quake, to thinken on the sentences of the envyous people, whiche ben redy, both , to scorne and to jape this leude ; and me, for and hate in their hertes, they shullen so dispyse, that my be leude, yet shal it ben more leude holden, and by65 wicked wordes in many maner apayred. Certes, me thinketh, [ ] the sowne of their badde speche right 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 70 wel, in that your shal not asterte. For of god, maker of kynde, witnesse I , 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 I thinke, thilke forsayd errours to distroye and dequace.
75These and suche other, if they enduce men, in loves service, trewe to beleve of blisse, yet to ful faithe in credence of deserte fully mowe they nat suffyse; sithen ‘faith hath no merite of mede, whan mannes sheweth experience in doing.’ For utterly no the blisse of love by no waye80 make to be comprehended. Lo! what is a of lovers joye? science, in good service, of their desyre to comprehende in bodily doinge the lykinge of the soule; not to have contemplacion of tyme cominge, but thilke first imagined and thought after face to face in beholding. What85 herte, what , what understandinge can make his heven to be feled and knowe, without assaye in doinge? Certes, . Sithen thanne of love cometh suche fruite in blisse, and love in him-selfe is the most other vertues, as clerkes ; the of suche springinge in al places, in al countreys, in al worldes shulde90 ben sowe.
But o! welawaye! thilke is forsake, and † not ben suffred, the to a-werke, without medlinge of ; badde wedes whiche somtyme stonken † caught the name of love among idiotes and people. Never-the-later,95 yet that thilke † 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 lykinge in worshippinge of thilke name. Wherfore this worke have I writte; and , tytled of Loves name,100 I have it avowed in a maner of sacrifyse; that, where-ever it be , 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 mowen ben moved. Every to whom is owande occasion 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 that ; wherfore accion of thinge everlasting is demed to be eternal, and not temporal; sithen it is his final cause. Right the actes of my boke ‘Love,’ and love is noble; wherfore, though my be leude, 110 with which I am stered, and for whom I ought it , noble forsothe ben bothe. But bycause that in conninge I am , and yet but crepe, A. b. c. have I in-to lerning; for I can not passen the telling of as yet. And if god wil, in shorte tyme, I shal amende this leudnesse 115 syllables; whiche , for dulnesse of witte, I not in 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 of the orders of heven, and putteth his resones in the erthe? I forsothe may not, with blere eyen, the shyning sonne of vertue of this Margaryte beholde; therfore as yet I her not discryve in vertue as I wolde. In tyme cominge,125 in , goddes grace, this sonne in clerenesse of vertue to be-knowe, and she enlumineth al this day, I thinke to declare.
IN this whyle this comfortable lady 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 to remembre; but the sentence, I trowe, 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 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 understondinge. But man that ought to passe al 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 , that it wened thilke errour, hem come in, shulde ben myn owne defaute. Trewly, therfore, I have me withdrawe, and my dwellinge out of lande in an yle by my-selfe, in the occian closed; and yet there many, they have me harberowed; but,20 god , they faylen. These thinges me greven to thinke, and namely on passed gladnesse, that in this worlde was me disporte of highe and lowe; and it is fayled; they that wolden maystries me have in thilke stoundes. In heven on highe, above , in tyme were they25 lodged; but now come queynte counsailours that in no house wol suffre me sojourne, wherof is pitè; and yet some that they in celler with wyne shed; in gernere, there is covered with whete; in , ; in purse, with money faste ; among mouled in a † ;30 in , among clothes , with riche pelure arayed; in stable, and other beestes, as hogges, , and ; and in many other wyse. But thou, maker of light (in winking of thyn eye the sonne is queynt), right wel that I in trewe name was never thus herberowed.
35Somtyme, toforn the sonne in the partie was smiten, I both crosse and mytre, to yeve it where I wolde. With me the pope 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 as the riche, for al his money. I tho taylages, and was redy for the poore to . I made feestes in my tyme, and noble songes, and damoselles of gentil feture, withouten golde or other richesse. Poore clerkes, for witte of schole, I sette in churches, and made suche persones to ; and tho was service in holy churche honest and , in45 plesaunce bothe of god and of the people. But the leude for is avaunced, and shendeth al holy churche. is , for his ; courtiour, for his debates; now is , ; now is losel, for his songes, personer; and provendre alone, with whiche manye50 thrifty shulde . And yet is this shrewe ; free herte is ; 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 he is behynde, for yvel disposicion of his55 stomake; therfore he shulde (and so did his syre) his estate ther-with to strengthen. His auter is broke, and lowe , in poynte to to the erthe; but his muste ben and hye, to bere him over waters. His chalice poore, but he hath riche cuppes. No towayle but , there god60 shal ben handled; and on his there shal ben and towelles many payre. At masse serveth but ; fyve squiers in hal. Poore chaunsel, open holes in every syde; beddes of silke, with tapites going al aboute his chambre. Poore and , and surplice with65 many an hole; and many, to hunte after and hare, to fede in their feestes. Of poore men have they care; for they ever crave and offren, they wolden have hem ! But there I not come; my doinge[s], they , maken hem nedy. They ne wolde for70 nothing have me in town; for than were tort and † nought an hawe about, and no men, but thilk grevous and torcious ben in might and in doing. These thinges mowe wel, if men liste, ; trewly, they acorde . And for-as-moch as al thinges by me shulden of right ben governed,75 I am to that governaunce fayleth, as thus: to sene smale and lowe governe the hye and bodies above. Certes, that is naught; it is forbode by them that of governaunce and enformen. And right as shulde ben 80 to , 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 erthely power, but if prudence in heedes governe the smale; to whiche heedes the smale owen to obey and suffre in85 their governaunce. But soverainnesse shulde thinke in this wyse: “I am servaunt of these creatures to me delivered, not , but defendour; not mayster, but enfourmer; not , but in possession; and to hem liche a tree in whiche sparowes shullen stelen, her birdes to norisshe and ,90 under 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 til their heedes them cleped, although and shulde folowe. But trewly, other governaunce ne other medlinge ought they not to clayme, ne the heedes on hem to . Trewly, amonges 100 I not come, but-if richesse be my ; 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 ; 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 children, for riches, be maked Japhetes heires. Alas! this is a wonder chaunge bitwene tho two Noës children, sithen that of Japhetes ofspring knightes, and of Cayn discended110 the lyne of servage to his brothers childre. Lo! gentillesse and servage, as cosins, bothe discended out of two of one body! Wherfore I saye in sothnesse, that in kinrede † not gentil linage in succession, without of a mans own selfe. Where is 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 , whom that Alisandre made to ben his heire in Grece, was of no kinges bloode; his dame was a . 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 , maker of al goodnes, enformed hem al, and al mortal of one sede greyned. Wherto avaunt men of her linage, in cosinage or in † ? Loke now the ginning,125 and to god, maker of mans person; there is no ne no worthy in gentilesse; and he that norissheth his † with vyces and unresonable lustes, and the kynde course, to whiche ende him brought his birthe, trewly, he is ungentil, and may ben nempned. And therfore, he that130 wol ben gentil, he daunten his flesshe fro vyces that causen ungentilnesse, and 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 whom every wight honoureth; for her135 and her noblesse y-made her to god so dere, that his moder she became; and she me hath had so in worship, that I nil for nothing in open declare, that in any thinge ayenst her so wene. For al vertue and al worthinesse of plesaunce 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 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 she gan to singe.5
‘O,’ quod she, ‘this is no newe to me, to sene you desyren after mater, whiche your-selfe caused to voyde.’
‘Ah, good lady,’ quod I, ‘in whom is proved above al other , after the jugement of , lordship 10 al : , that right as emperour hem commaundeth, whether thilke ben not women, in to me ye aperen? For right as man 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 of grammer: right so, in the femenyne, the women holden the upperest degree of al thinges under thilke gendre conteyned. Who bringeth kinges, whiche that ben lordes of see and of erthe; and al peoples of women ben . They norisshe hem that graffen vynes; they maken men 20 in their gladde cheres. Her sorowe is to mannes herte. Without women, the being of men were impossible. They conne with their swetnesse the crewel herte ravisshe, and make it meke, , and benigne, without violence mevinge. In 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 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 by general discrecion, I 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 al be gospel the promise of your behestes, than they to you their hertes, and fulfillen your lustes, wherthrough40 their libertè in maystreship that they had is thralled; and 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 , 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 to loven any wight er she him wel knowe, and have him proved in many halfe! For every is nat ; 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 many † you to truste. Trewly, it is right kyndely to every man that thinketh women betraye, and shewen al goodnesse, til he have his wil performed. Lo! the is begyled with the mery voice of the foulers . Whan a woman is closed in your nette,55 than wol ye causes fynden, and unkyndenesse her † , or falsetè upon her putte, your owne malicious trayson with suche thinge to excuse. Lo! than han women other wreche in vengeaunce, but † and wepe til hem list stint, and sorily her mishap complayne; and in-to wening that60 al men ben so untrewe. often have men chaunged her loves in a litel whyle, or els, for fayling their wil, in their places hem set! For shal be , and fame with another him for to have, and a thirde for ; or els were he lost bothe in packe and in clothes! Is this ? Nay, god wot.65 I nat , by thousande partes, the wronges in trechery of suche false people; for make never so good a , al sette at a myte whan your hert tourneth. And they that wenen for sorowe of you , 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 ! Women con no more in queynt knowinge, to understande the false disceyvable conjectementes of mannes begylinges. Lo! it fareth; though ye men gronen and cryen, certes, it is but disceyt; and that preveth wel75 by in your werkinge. many women have ben , and with shame foule shent by tyme, whiche mennes gyle have ben disceyved? Ever their fame shal dure, and their dedes and songe in many londes; that they han , recoveren shal they never; but alway ben demed80 lightly, in suche plyte a-yen shulde they . 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 discende. Thus 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 , as far as worldly bodyes . 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 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 his owne shame; it is a comfortable perle ayenst al tenes. Every company is mirthed by their present being. Trewly, I never vertue, but a woman100 were therof the rote. is heven the worse though Sarazins on it lyen? Is your untrewe, maken theron ? If the doth any wight brenne, blame his owne that put him-selfe so in the . Is not fyr gentillest and amonges al other? Fyr105 is 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 thing of your kynde, and whiche thinges other110 moste ye desyren! Trewly, Nero and his children ben shrewes, that dispysen so their . The wickednesse and gyling of men, in disclaundring of thilke that hath hem , were impossible to wryte or to nempne. Never-the-later yet I say, he that knoweth a may it lightly passe; eke115 an herbe proved may safely to smertande sores ben . 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. to thy-selfe (quod she) as I have ofte sayd, I knowe wel thyne herte; thou of al the tofore-nempned people. For I knowe wel the continuaunce of thy service, that never sithen I a-werke, might thy Margaryte for plesaunce, , ne of none other, be in poynte moved from thyne herte; wherfore125 in-to myne housholde hastely I wol that thou entre, and al the privitè of my werking, make it be knowe in thy understonding, as of my privy familiers. Thou desyrest (quod she) to here of tho thinges there I lefte?’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod I, ‘that were to me a blisse.’130
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘for thou shalt not wene that womans condicions for fayre speche suche thing belongeth:—
THOU ,’ quod she, ‘understonde first al other thinges, that al the cure of service to me in the blisse in doing is desyred in every mannes herte, be he never so moche a ; but every man travayleth by dyvers studye, and thilke blisse by dyvers wayes. But al the endes5 are knit in selinesse of desyre in the blisse, that is suche joye, whan men it have gotten, there † no more to ben coveyted. But that desyre of suche in my service be kindely set in lovers hertes, yet her 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, weneth by that thing that he coveyteth , he shulde come to thilke love; and that is blisse of my servauntes; but than fulle blisse not15 be, and there lacke any 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 † this my-selfe, , of dignitè,20 of power, and of renomè, me in tho † had ben thilke blisse; but ayenst the it . Whan I supposed beste thilke blisse have † , 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 † 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 blisse in love as I shal shewe. Therfore they be nat worthy to thilke blisse; and yet must ben cause and way to thilke blisse. Ergo, there is 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 , thou not saye the contrary.’
‘Good lady,’ quod I, ‘altho I suppose it in my herte, yet wolde I here thyn wordes, in this mater.’
40Quod she, ‘that I shal, with my good wil. Thilke blisse desyred, ye knowen, altho it be nat parfitly. For kyndly ledeth you therto, but in maner is al suche wayes shewed. Every wight in this world, to have this blisse, of thilke wayes of lyves must procede; whiche, after opinions45 of clerkes, are by names bestiallich, resonablich, [ ] is vertuous. Manlich is worldlich. Bestialliche is lustes and delytable, restrayned by bridel of . Al that joyeth and yeveth gladnesse to the hert, and it be ayenst , is lykened to bestial , which foloweth lustes and50 delytes; wherfore in suche thinge nat that precious blisse, that is maister of al vertues, abyde. Your † you have cleped such lusty after the flessh “passions of desyre,” which are innominable tofore god and man both. Than, after of suche wyse, we accorden that suche passions of55 desyre shul nat be nempned, but from al other and provinges; and so † in livinges, manlich and resonable, to declare the maters begonne. But to make fully have understanding in manlich , whiche is holden worldlich in these thinges, so that ignorance be no letter, I wol (quod she) nempne these forsayd wayes † names and60 conclusions. First , dignitè, renomè, and power shul in this worke be 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 by worldly catel; in dignitè, honour and reverence of hem that underput by maistry65 therby to . 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 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. why. For holdest him not poore that is nedy?’
‘Yes, pardè,’ quod I.
‘And him for dishonored, that moche 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 .’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 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 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 entred thyselfe, 95 and that thy Margarite may knowe set in the hye way, I wol enforme in this wyse. Thou hast fayled of thy first , bicause thou wentest wronge and leftest the hye way on thy right syde, as thus: thou lokedest on worldly , and that thing begyled; and lightly therfore, , thou100 ; but whan I turned thy , and shewed thee a of hye waye, tho thou abode therin, and no ne ferdnesse of non enemy might out of thilk way reve; but ever 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 miscaried, and wel ablenesse my service to forther and , I my-selfe, without other , to visit thy in of thy hert. And perdy, in my comming thou were ; after whiche tyme no , no care, no tene, might move me out of thy hert. And yet am I and greetly enpited, continually thou haddest me in mynde, with good avysement of thy conscience, whan and his princes by huge wordes and loked after variaunce in thy speche; and ever thou115 were redy for my sake, in plesaunce of the and many mo other, thy body 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 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 thou mikel holden, of grace and goodnesse somtyme hereafter I thinke enforme, whan I shew the where-as moral vertue groweth. Who brought 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 never taken [hede] in this wyse. And therfore I say, thou might wel truste to come to thy blisse, sithen thy ginninge hath ben , but ever graciously after thy hertes hath proceded. Silver130 fyned with many men knowen for trew; and safely men may trust to the alay in werkinge. This † hath proved what thou thinkest to holde.’
‘ , in good fayth, lady,’ quod I tho, ‘I am in; me semeth, it is the hye way and the right.’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod she, ‘and 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 foresayd blisse declared in this[e] provinges, shal hote the knot in the hert.’140
‘Wel,’ quod I, ‘this 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 , I wol thou understande these maters to ben sayd of thy-selfe, in disproving of thy first service, and in of thilke that thou undertake145 to thy Margaryte-perle.’
‘ ,’ quod I, ‘right wel I fele that al this case is possible and trewe; and therfore I † .’
‘† wel,’ quod she, ‘these termes, and loke no thou graunt.’150
‘If god wol,’ quod I, ‘of al these thinges wol I not fayle; and if I graunt , I shulde graunte an impossible; and that were a inconvenience; for whiche thinges, , y-wis, herafter I thinke me to kepe.’
‘WEL,’ quod she, ‘thou knowest that every is a cause, any thing hath being that is cleped “caused.” Than, if † knot in herte, thilke richesse † cause of thilke precious thinge being. But after the sentence of , 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 kyndely naughty, badde, and nedy; and thilke knotte is kyndely good, praysed and desyred. Ergo, naughty, badde, and nedy in kyndely 10 understandinge is more worthy than kyndely good, desyred and praysed! The consequence is ; nedes, the antecedent 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 , 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 nedy to helpes, in thy richesse to kepen; wherthrough foloweth, richesse to20 ben nedy. Everything causinge yvels is badde and naughty; but richesse in one causen , in another they mowen not evenly al about. Wherof cometh plee, , thefte, begylinges, but richesse to winne; whiche thinges ben badde, and by richesse caused. Ergo, thilke ben badde; whiche badnesse25 and nede ben knit in-to richesse by a maner of kyndely ; and every cause and caused accorden; so that it foloweth, thilke 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 causen love, and 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 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 of his lyfe and of his soule is no more precious, but in as mikel as he hath of richesse. Alas! he holden suche thinges precious or noble, that neither han ne soule, ne ordinaunce of werchinge limmes! Suche ben more worthy whan they ben in † ; in departing,45 ginneth his love of other mennes praysing. And avarice † 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 † of hem make men nedy! Moche 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 of his gestes going.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘me wondreth therfore that the comune opinion is thus: “He is no more than that he hath in55 catel.” ’
‘O!’ quod she, ‘loke thou be not of that opinion; for if or money, or other maner of riches shynen in thy sight, is that? Nat thyn. And tho[ugh] they have a litel , they be nothing in comparison of our kynde; and therfore, ye shulde nat 60 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 , and to other they shul from . 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 holde 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 . And fairnesse of feldes ne of habitacions, ne multitude of , may nat be rekened as riches that are thyn owne. For if they be badde, it is sclaunder and villany to the occupyer; and if they be good75 or faire, the mater of the that hem made is to prayse. shulde other-wyse 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 nat in pompe and in pride whan thou hem hast. For their80 and their cometh out of their owne kynde, and nat of thyne owne person. As faire ben they in their not having as whan thou hem. They be nat faire for thou hem; but thou hast geten hem for the fairnesse of them-selfe. And there the vaylance of men is demed in richesse outforth, wenen85 to have no proper good in them-selfe, but seche it in straunge thinges. Trewly, the of good wening is to mistourned, to wene, your noblesse be not in your-selfe, but in the goodes and 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 of suffisaunce from so excellent a kynde of so lowe thinges; ye do wrong to him that you made lordes over al erthly thinges; and ye your worthinesse under the nombre of the fete of lower thinges and95 foule. Whan ye juge thilke riches to be your worthinesse, than 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 , and he wryeth moche venim with moche welth; and that knot nat be good whan he hath it getten.
Certes, thus hath riches with flickering sight anoyed many;105 and often, whan there is a shrewe, he coyneth al the , 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. many thou knowe, in late tyme, that in their richesse supposed suffisance have folowed, and 110 it is al fayled!’
‘Ye, lady,’ quod I, ‘that is for ; and otherwyse governed [they] thilke richesse than shulde.’
‘Ye,’ quod she tho, ‘had not the areysed, and throwe both gravel and , he had no medlinge.115 And right as see yeveth , so draweth see ebbe, and pulleth ayen under wawe al the firste , but-if good pyles of noble governaunce in love, in maner, ben sadly grounded; † whiche holde thilke gravel as for a tyme, that ayen lightly mowe not it turne; and if the pyles ben trewe, the120 gravel and wol abyde. And certes, ful warning in love shalt thou never hem get ne cover, that lightly with an ebbe, er thou , it [ne] wol ayen meve. In richesse many men have had tenes and , whiche they shulde not have had, if therof they had fayled. whiche, declared, it is shewed, that for richesse shulde the knotte in herte neither ben125 caused in one ne in other; trewly, knotte , 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 ; 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 being is in richesse, of no suche knotte. Therfore another way muste we have.
HONOUR in dignitè is wened to yeven a ful knot.’
‘Ye, certes,’ quod I, ‘and of that opinion ben many; for they , dignitè, with honour and reverence, causen hertes to encheynen, and so abled to be togither, for the excellence in soverayntè of such degrees.’5
‘ ,’ 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 , there shulde no dignitee, no reverence, honour acorde with shrewes. But that is ; they have ben cause to shrewes in many shreudnes; for with hem they accorden. Ergo, from beginning to argue til it come to the laste15 conclusion, they are not cause of the knot. Lo, al day at eye 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 [ ] contrarie of al lovers is bileved, and for a sothe openly determined20 to holde.’
‘ ,’ quod I, ‘ wolde I here, suche dignitees acorden with shrewes.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘that wol I shewe in manifolde wyse. Ye wene25 (quod she) that of office here in your citè is as the sonne; it shyneth bright withouten any cloude; [ ] whiche , whan they comen in the handes of malicious tirauntes, there cometh moche , 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. often han rancours, for malice of the governour, shulde ben mainteyned? Hath not than suche dignitees caused , rumours, and yvels? Yes,35 god , by suche thinges have ben trusted to make mens understanding enclyne to many queynte thinges. Thou wottest wel what I .’
‘Ye,’ quod I, ‘therfore, as , so , the substaunce in dignitè chaunged, relyed to bring40 ayen good plyte in doing.’
‘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 and goodnesse is hers that usen it in good governaunce;45 and therfore cometh it that and reverence shulde ben to bycause of encresinge vertue in the occupyer, and not to the ruler bycause of 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 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 kyndly good, or any propertè of kyndly vertue [ ] hadden in hem-selfe, shrewes shulde hem never have; with hem shulde they never accorde. Water and , that ben contrarious, mowen nat togider ben assembled; kynde wol nat suffre suche60 contraries to . And sithen at eye, by experience in doing, we that shrewes have hem more often than good , siker thou be, that kyndly good in suche thing is nat appropred. Pardy, were they kyndly good, as wel as other shulden evenlich in vertue of governaunce ben worthe; but fayleth in65 goodnesse, another the contrary; and so it sheweth, kyndly goodnesse in dignitè nat be grounded. And this same reson (quod she) may be , in general, on al the bodily goodes; for they comen ofte to shrewes. After this, he is strong that hath might to have , 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 . Ergo, they be nat good, but utterly badde. Had never ben Emperour, shulde never his dame have be slayn, to maken open the privitè of his engendrure. Herodes, for his dignitè, many children. The80 dignitè of wolde have distroyed al . Therfore mokel and goodnesse both, , 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 no , ne sesonably the herbes out-bringe of the erthe, but suffre frostes and , and the erthe barayne to ligge by tyme of his compas in circute about, ye wolde wonder,90 and dispreyse that ! If the mone be at ful, and sheweth no light, but derke and dimme to your sight appereth, and make of the waters, wol ye nat suppose it be under cloude or in clips, and that 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 rejoycen in . Trewly, litel they on100 philosophy, or els on my lore, that any haven suche lightinge planettes in that wyse any more to shewe.’
‘Good lady,’ quod I, ‘tel me 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 by waters to distroye.’
‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘it is supposed they had shyned as they110 shulde.’
‘Ye,’ quod she, ‘but it is proved at the ful, their beautè in kyndly shyning fayled; wherfore dignitè of him-selven hath no in fayrnesse, ne dryveth nat awaye vices, but ; and so be they no cause of the knotte. , 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 , quod I.
‘No?’ quod she; ‘and thou a wyse good man, for his goodnesse and thou nat do him worship? Therof120 he is worthy.’
‘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 other for ferde, yet is he worthy, for shrewdnesse,125 to be unworshipped; of reverence no is he worthy to have, [ ] to contrarious doing belongeth: and that is good skil. For, right as he the dignites, thilke same thing him smyteth, or els shulde smyte. And over this thou wel (quod she) that in every place 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 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 , 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 office of kynde; for they have non suche in nature of doinge but by false opinion of the people. Lo! somtyme thilke that in your in dignitè noble, if thou liste hem nempne, they ben overturned bothe in worship, in name, and in reverence; wherfore145 such dignites have no kyndly werching of worshippe and of reverence. that hath no worthinesse on it-selfe, it ryseth and 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 for suche maner dignitè, than thou wenest or goodnesse of thilke somwhat the goodnesse or vertue in the body. But of hemself ben not good, ne yeven reverence ne worshippe by their owne kynde. shulde they than yeve to any other a , 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; , in a litel whyle, it is up and downe, by unstedfaste hertes of the people. What mowe they yeve that, with cloude, lightly his shyninge? Certes,160 to the occupyer is mokel appeyred, sithen suche doinge villanye to him that it not mayntayne. Wherfore thilke to the knotte is croked; and if any desyre to come to the knot, he must this on his lefte syde, or els shal he never come there.165
AVAYLETH aught (quod she) power of might in mayntenaunce of [ ] 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 herte to be loked after. Was not the moste shrewe of thilke that men rede, and yet had he power to10 make senatours justices, and princes of many landes? Was not that power?’
‘Yes, certes,’ quod I.
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘yet might he not helpe him-selfe out of , whan he gan many canst thou15 remembre of kinges and noble, and huge power † , and yet they might not kepe hem-selve from was king er he deyde? He had not so moche as to cover with his membres; and yet was he of the kinges of al the Normandes ofspring, and moste20 possession had. O! a noble and clere is power, that is not founden mighty to kepe him-selfe! , trewly, a fole is he, that for suche thing wolde sette the knotte in thyne herte! Also , is not thilke power amonges the worldly powers reckened? And if suche powers han 25 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 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) wyde and brode, yet besydes is ther mokel 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 thilke power from lesing may be keped40 of sorow; so drede sorily 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 blisse that we supposed at the ginning! Ergo, power in nothing shulde cause suche knottes. Wrecchednesse is a kyndely in suche power, as by way of drede, whiche they mowe nat eschewe, ne by no way live in sikernesse. For thou wel50 (quod she) he is nought mighty that wolde that he may not 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 ; it is nevermore55 denyed.’
‘Foole,’ quod she, ‘or he him-selfe mighty, or wot it not; for he is nought mighty that is blynde of his might and it not.’
‘That is sothe,’ quod I.60
‘Than if he it, he must nedes ben to lesen it. He that of his might is in doute that he mote nedes lese; and so him drede to ben unmighty. And if he not to lese, litel is that that of the lesing 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 y-lyke to postes and pillers that upright stonden, and might han to many charges; and if they croke on any syde, litel maketh hem overthrowe.’70
‘This is a good ensample,’ quod I, ‘to pillers and postes that I have my-selfe; and hadden they ben underput with any helpes, they had not so lightly .’
‘Than holdest thou him mighty that hath many men armed75 and many servauntes; and ever he is of hem in his herte; and, for he gasteth hem, somtyme he mot the have. Comenly, he that other agasteth, other in him werchen the same; and thus 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 aboute kinges and grete lordes shulde might have. a 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 ; her might litel avayleth.’
‘And so me thinketh,’ quod I, ‘that a poste alone, stonding90 upright upon a basse, may lenger in burthen endure than croken pilers for al their helpes, and her be not siker.’
‘That is sothe,’ quod she; ‘for as, [ ] the in bering of the lame ginne stomble, bothe shulde , right so suche pillers, so envyroned with helpes, in falling of the grounde fayleth † .95 ofte than suche famulers, in their moste pryde of prosperitè, ben sodainly overthrowen! Thou 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 ; and these thinges may they not weyve; so trewly their might is not a cresse. And over al thinge, he that not withdrawe the brydel of his flesshly lustes and his110 complayntes ( on thy-selfe) trewly he is not mighty; I can no that 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 him the selve, and that men115 have as power over him as he over other. A justice that demeth men hath ben often demed. his gestes, and he was of Hercules his geste. betraysshed many men, and of Collo was he betrayed. He that with swerde smyteth, with swerde shal be smitten.’120
Than gan I to studyen a whyle on these thinges, and made a countenaunce with my hande in maner to ben .
‘ let ,’ quod she, ‘me thinketh somwhat there is within thy soule, that troubleth thy understanding; saye on what it is’125
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.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘thyne owne leudenesse. He is mighty130 that without ; and he is unmighty that it not withsitte; but than he, that might over , and he wol, on , thou might it not withsitte. Ergo, thou seest thy-selfe what foloweth! But (quod she) woldest thou not skorne, and thou a han power to 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 , withouten any withsittinge, for al thilke mannes mightes? And sithen thou seest thyne flesshly body in kyndely power fayle, 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 in might, whiche wanteth in the substancial body. is no to the knotte, [ ] that loketh aright after the149 hye , as he shulde.
VERILY it is proved that richesse, dignitè, and power ben not trewe 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.’
‘ ,’ quod I, ‘wolde I that here; me thinketh wonder 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 not sinke in15 my stomake til I here more.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘have I not sayd alwayes, that shrewes shul not have the knotte?’
‘What nedeth,’ quod I, ‘to reherse that any more? I wel every wight, by kyndely , shrewes in knitting wol eschewe.’
20‘Than,’ quod she, ‘the good ought thilke knotte to have.’
‘ els?’ quod I.
‘It were ,’ 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 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 , but-if a good man might have his desyres in service of thilke knot, and a shrewe to be † , 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.’
‘Ah,’ quod I tho, ‘have ye, lady, ben here ; yet wolde I see, by grace of our argumentes better declared, good and bad do by lacking and praysing; me thinketh it ayenst kynde.’40
‘Nay,’ quod she, ‘and that shalt thou as yerne; these han contrarious in kynde, by whiche they mowe not acorde no more than good and badde; and in [ ] qualitees they acorde, so that contraries by qualitè acorden by qualitè. Is not erthe drye; and water, that is next and bitwene45 th’ , 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 . This eyre by his hete contrarieth water that is ; but thilke is †50 moysture; for bothe be they moyst. Also the , that is next the † and it encloseth al about, is drye, wherthrough it contrarieth † , 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 by55 , that is, knitting togither; of that accorde cometh a maner of melodye that is right noble. Right so good and bad 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 acorde bothe by60 lacking and praysing. Than foloweth it, though good be never so mokel praysed, [ ] 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 to the knot. Lo, foole,’ quod she, ‘ clerkes wryten of suche glorie of renomè:—“O glorie, glorie, thou other to thousandes of folke but a sweller of eeres!” Many hath had ful renomè70 by false opinion of variaunt people. And what is fouler than 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 of him that disclaundreth.
75 Good (quod she) what echeth suche renomè to the conscience of a wyse man, that loketh and his goodnesse, not by slevelesse wordes of the people, but by sothfastnesse of conscience? By god, nothing. And if it be , a mans name be eched by moche praysing, and fouler thing that mo folk80 not praysen? I sayd to a litel here , that no in straunge countreyes nought praysen; suche renomè may not comen to their eeres, bycause of unknowing and other , as I sayde: wherfore more not praysen, and that is right to him that renomè desyreth, to wete, lesse praisen than85 renomè enhaunce. I trowe, the of a people is naught 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 . Trewly, suche glorie ought to be hated. If gentillesse be a , 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 , maketh 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 gentyled, than thou to glorifye of thy kinnes gentilesse, and no therof thy-selfe.”
passinge is the of flesshly bodyes, more flittinge than movable floures of sommer! And if thyne eyen weren as good as the lynx, that many stone walles, bothe , in their entrayles, of no maner hewe shulde apere to105 thy sight; that were a foule sight. Than is by feblesse of eyen, but of no kynde; wherfore shulde be no way to the knot; whan thilke is went, the knotte wendeth after. Lo, , at al proves, none of al these thinges mowe parfitly ben in understanding, to ben to the during blisse of the knotte.110 But , 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 † in Octobre. These thinges ben not unbounden from their olde kynde; they have not her werke115 of their propre . 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 that cometh of these springes nis but anguis and bitter; al-though it120 be a whyle swete, it not be with-holde; hastely they departe; thus fayleth thinges that fooles wende. Right thus thou fayled in thy first wening. He that thinketh to sayle, and drawe after the course of de polo antartico, shal he never come to the contrarye sterre of polus articus; of whiche125 thinges if thou take kepe, thy first “prison” and “exile” may be cleped. The underneth, and so hast thou fayled. No wight, I wene, blameth him that stinteth in misgoing, and secheth redy way of his blisse. me thinketh (quod she) that it suffyseth in my shewing; the wayes130 by dignetè, richesse, renomè, and power, if thou loke clerely, arn no 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 wolde I, and it were your wil, blisse of the knotte to me were declared. I might fele the better 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 “ ”; but that is not in brekinge of voice, but it is10 a maner swete thing of kyndely werching, that causeth out of nombre to recken, and that is joyned by and by wysdome in a quantitè of proporcion of knitting. God made al thing in and in witte of proporcion of melody, we mowe not suffyse to shewe. It is written by 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 ; so kyndely is your 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 everiche to other. And therfore, of erthly thinges, mokel mater lightly cometh in your lerning. Knowledge of understonding, that is after eye, but not so25 the covetyse of knittinge in your hertes. More hath every wight in litel heringe of hevenly conninge than of mokel material purposes in erthe. Right so it is in of my servauntes, that they ben more affiched in steringe of litel thinge in his 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 impression of . I 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. 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 and hony, al minstralsy and melody ben but and galle in comparison, by no maner proporcion to reken, in 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 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 shulde, thorow wrath or envy, janglinge dare make, to shove this melody so farre a-backe, that openly it nat ben used; trewly, ben fulfilled with envy and wrathe, and no wight els. and tales in suche dare appere openly in every wightes55 eere, with ful mouth so charged, [ ] mokel malice moved many to shende; god wolde their soule therwith were strangled! Lo! trouth in this blisse is hid, and over-al under covert him hydeth; he 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.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘what goodnesse may be acompted more in this material worlde? Truly, non; that shalt thou understonde. Is nat every thing that is contrariant and yvel?’65
‘ 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? me any good, but-if this knotte be the cause. Nedes it be good, that causeth so many good dedes. Every cause is more and worthier than caused; and 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 † 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 [ ] 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 people wol maintayne this knotte; for therthorough shul they90 ben maintayned, and utterly wol turne and their olde yvel understanding, and knitte this goodnesse, and profer so ferre in service, that name of servauntes might they have. Their jangles shal ; me thinketh hem lacketh mater 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 † in this shullen100 abyden. There is ever of blisse withouten possible corrupcion; there is perpetuel in werke without travayle; there is everlasting passife, withouten any of labour; continuel plyte, without coveyted to endure. No tonge may , ne 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 the Jupiter, that god is of routhe, an high in the holownesse of heven, there110 he in his trone; and ever thou shalt 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 ; 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 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 I am cast out of a welfare; and yet dayneth not this yvel herte, hede, to throwe: which thinges wolde me by wayes of disporte, to weten in my-selfe a litel with other 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 † , with gret tempestes and huge,130 maketh the mery dayes with softe shyning sonnes. Also the yere with-draweth floures and of herbes and of erth; the same † 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 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 soone he wol turne of the garment of care, and clothe thee in blisse? Pardè, it is not ferre fro . Lo, an olde aleged by many wyse:—“Whan bale is , than is bote a nye-bore.” Wherof thou dismaye? Hope wel and serve wel; and that shal save, with thy good bileve.’145
‘Ye, ye,’ quod I; ‘yet I not by this blisse is coming; I it is contingent; it may on other.’
‘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 , 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 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 † .xxiiii. houres togider; in whiche hour ginning in the seconde day 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 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 [ ] the course that foloweth, sorowe and joy kyndely moten entrechangen their tymes; so that alway wele, as alway wo, may not endure. Thus seest thou appertly, thy sorowe in-to wele 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 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 dere in thy herte, and185 for her hast thou suffred many thoughtful ; herafter shal [ ] be cause of mokel mirth and joye; and loke glad thou ben, and al thy passed hevinesse with manifolde joyes. And than wol I as blythly here speken thy mirthes in , as I have thy sorowes and thy complayntes.190 And if I mowe in aught thy joye , by my trouthe, on my syde shal nat be 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 coude; and trewly I was rejoysed in myne of her fayre behestes; and profered me to be195 , in al that she me wolde ordeyne, while my 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 , order of our this asketh, that ye shulde me shewe if any way be † , and whiche thilke way shulde ben; so that openly the verry5 hye in ful confusioun of these other thinges.’
‘Thou shalt,’ quod she, ‘understande that [ ] one of lyves (as I first sayd) every creature of mankynde is sprongen, and so forth procedeth. These lyves ben names departed in 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 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, they, chosen bestial, that voluptuously liven; so that (as I to ) in manly and resonable our mater was to declare; but [ ] “manly” lyfe, in after flesshe, or els flesshly wayes20 to chese, may nat blisse in this knotte be conquered, as by 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 it ben to the thirde; and for to live in flesshe, but nat after flessh, is more resonablich than manliche rekened25 by clerkes. Therfore this cometh in, I wol it blythely declare.
(quod she) that these bodily goodes of manliche yelden † stoundes and smertande houres. Whoso † remembre him to their endes, in their worchinges they30 ben thoughtful and sorie. Right as a bee that hath his hony, 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 other and worthy, yet had I a parcel, as me thought, for the tyme, in forthering of my sustenaunce; whiche while it dured, I thought me havinge mokel hony to myne . 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 asketh in mene; for no wight in 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 wol fully ayenst thilke maters maynteyne, in whiche mayntenaunce [ ] glorien them-selfe; and, as often ye haven , therof ought in yvel to be 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. am I out of al swetnesse of blisse, and mischevously [ ] stongen my passed joy! Soroufully muste I bewayle, and live as a .
55Every of tho joyes is tourned in-to his contrary. For richesse, have I povertè; for dignitè, am I emprisoned; in stede of power, I suffre; and for glorie of renomè, I am dispysed and foulich hated. Thus hath , that sodaynly am I overthrowen, and out of al welth dispoyled.60 Trewly, me thinketh this way in is right ; god graunt me better grace er it be al passed; the other way, , me thought right swete.’
‘ , 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 to shewed, suche bodily goodes faylen to yeve blisse, their might so wol nat ? 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 and semely, but dignitè him fayleth; and he that hath dignitè is croked or lame, or els misshapen and dispysed.75 Thus partable these goodes dwellen commenly; in one houshold ben they but . Lo! 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 . Than foloweth80 this upon thy wordes; every soule resonable of man may nat dye; and if endeth selinesse and maketh , as nedes of fortune maketh it an ende. Than soules, after of the body, in shulde liven. But we knowe many that han geten the blisse of heven after their than may this85 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 thou acompt with Fortune, that at first she hath tene and sorowe? If thou loke to the maner of al glad thinges and sorouful, thou mayst nat nay it, that90 yet, and namely , thou standest in noble plyte in a good ginning, with good forth-going herafter. And if thou wene to be a , for such welth is passed, why than art thou nat wel fortunate, for badde thinges and anguis ben passed? Art thou come first in-to the hostry of this lyfe, or els the95 of this worlde? Art thou a gest in-to this exile? Wenest there be any in this erthe stable? Is nat thy first arest passed, that brought in mortal sorowe? Ben these nat mortal thinges agon with ignorance of beestial wit, and hast receyved in knowing of vertue? What is100 in thy , the knowinge sikerly in my service [ ] be grounded? And thou nat wel, as I said, that deth maketh ende of al fortune? What than? Standest thou in noble plyte, litel hede or to take, if thou let fortune passe , or els that105 she fly whan her list, now by thy lyve? Pardy, a man hath nothing so leef as his ; 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 † , whiche may doute that they ne ben more worthy110 than thy lyf?’
‘What is that?’ quod I.
‘Good ,’ 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 . Therfore dismay115 nat; Fortune, in hate grevously ayenst thy bodily person, ne yet to gret tempest hath she nat sent to , sithen the holding cables and ankers of thy lyfe holden by knitting so faste, that thou discomforte nought of tyme that is now, ne dispayre not of tyme to come, but yeven in hope of120 weldoing, and of getting the double of thy lesing, with 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 safely escape; and [ ]130 whyle thy service aboute bringe, in dispyte of al false that of-newe haten; for [ ] this trewe service thou entred.’
‘ ,’ quod I, ‘among thinges I asked a question, whiche was the way to the knot. Trewly, lady, it be I tempt you135 with questions and answers, in speking of my first service, I am in ful in the pricke of the , 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 loketh after vertue, and none other bodily joyes alone. And bycause this in tho wayes I was140 , I wel my-selfe I have erred, and of the blisse fayled; and so out of my way hugely have I .’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘that is sothe; and there thou hast miswent, eschewe the from , I rede. Wonder I trewly why the mortal of this worlde seche these ways outforth;145 and it is preved in your-selfe. Lo, ye ben confounded with errour and folly! The knowing of very cause and way is goodnesse and vertue. Is there any to 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 ; and thilke150 thing is that is cause of this knot. And if mowe it nat reve more than an erthly creature, thilke 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 . A soule dyeth never; vertu and goodnesse evermore155 with the soule endureth; and this knot is blisse. Than this soule in this blisse endlesse shal enduren. Thus shul hertes of a trewe knot ben : thus shul their soules ben : thus perpetually in joye shul they singe.’
‘In good trouth,’ quod I, ‘here is a good beginning; yeve us160 more of this way.’
Quod she, ‘I said to nat longe sithen, that resonable was of thinges; and it was proved to the soule.
soule of hath two thinges of stering , 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 , whiche clerkes clepen “felicitè in ”; and therein is the hye way to this knot. These olde philosophers, that hadden no knowing of divine grace, of kyndly alone, wenden that of pure nature, withouten any 10 helpe of grace, me might have y-shoned . Resonably have I lived; and for I thinke herafter, if god wol, and I have space, thilke grace after my leude knowing declare, I it as at this tyme. But, as I said, he that out-forth loketh after the wayes of this knot, [ ] conning with whiche he shulde15 knowe the way in-forth, slepeth for the tyme. Wherfore he that wol this way knowe, must 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 , in keping from smert (for al-out may they nat20 be ), 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 of his trewe intent, inwardes lightly † conscience, if it be wel handled. Than must nedes these wayes come out of the soule25 by stering lyfe of the body; and els no man come to blisse of this knotte. And thus, by this waye, he shal come to the knotte, and to the 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 ?’
‘Ye,’ quod she, ‘that shal I shewe . Is he nat riche that hath suffisaunce, and hath the power that no man may amaistrien? Is nat dignitè to have worship and reverence? And hath he nat glorie of renomè, name perpetual is during, and out35 of nombre in ?’
‘These be thinges that men wenen to getten outforth,’ quod I.
‘Ye,’ quod she; ‘they that loken after a 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 in grene trees, and wene to gader precious stones vynes, and her nettes in mountains to fisshe, and thinken to in depe sees after hart and , and sechen in erth thilke thinges that surmounteth heven, what may I of hem say, but folisshe ignoraunce misledeth45 wandring 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 , whiche he shulde have hole, and he sought by . Thus goth he begyled of that he sought; in his hode men have blowe a jape.’50
‘ ,’ quod I, ‘if a man be vertuous, and al in vertue liveth, hath he al these thinges?’
‘That shal I proven,’ quod she. ‘What power hath any man to another of in vertue? For prisonment, or any other disese, [ ] he take it paciently, discomfiteth he nat; the55 tyrant no power 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 † nat overcomen. Suche thing that may nat be a-maistred, he hath nede to nothing; for he hath suffisaunce , 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 dignitè, that deth may a-maistry. Wherfore thilke power [ ] 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 ; 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 .’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘al this is sothe; and so I 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 our togider; and than I, seinge of her trewe mening with75 florisshing vertue of pacience, that she used in yvel, to quyte the wicked that false tonges ofte in her have , I have it my-selfe, goodly foryevenesse hath spronge out of her . Unitè and , above al other thinges, she desyreth in a good meke maner; and suffereth many wicked80 tales.
, lady, to you it were a gret worship, that suche thinges by due chastisment were amended.’
‘Ye,’ quod she, ‘I have 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 ne shame that his enemys him deden might nat move pacience out of his herte, but ever in one plyte mercy he used. 90 god him-selfe to the thinges; and theron suche punisshment let . Trewly, by , it ought be ensample of drede to al maner peoples mirth. A man vengeable in wrath no governance in punisshment ought to have. had a cause his servant to † , 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 on to moche: evermore grounded vertue sheweth fro within. And trewly, I wel, for her goodnesse and vertue, thou hast desyred my service to her plesance wel the more; and thy-selfe therto fully profered.’
100‘Good lady,’ quod I, ‘is vertue the hye to this knot that long we have y-handled?’
‘Ye, forsoth,’ quod she, ‘and without vertue, goodly this knot may nat be goten.’
‘Ah! ,’ quod I, ‘ vertu in me fayleth; and I, as105 a seer , 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!’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘of thy first way; thy traveyle is in ydel;110 and, as touchinge the seconde way, I wel thy . Thou woldest me, if thou coudest, bycause I brought to service; and every of my servantes I helpe to come to blisse, as I sayd . And thou saydest thy-selfe, thou mightest nat be holpen as thou , bycause that vertue in115 fayleth; and this blisse parfitly without vertue nat be goten; thou wenest of these wordes to folowe. Pardè, at the hardest, I have no servant but he be vertuous in dede and thought. I brought in my service, yet 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 maketh no ; ne of gilte spurres maketh no knight. Never-the-later, in of thyne herte, yet wol I otherwyse answere.’
‘Certes, lady,’ quod I tho, ‘so ye muste nedes; or els I had caught suche a † for sorowe, I it wel, I shulde125 it never have recovered. And therfore I praye [ ] to enforme me in this; or els I holde me without . I may nat long endure til this lesson be lerned, and of this the remedy knowen.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘be nat ; for there is no man on-lyve130 that come to a precious thing longe coveited, but he somtyme suffre teneful : and thy-selfe to ben unliche to al other? That nat ben. And with the more sorowe that a thing is getten, the more he hath joye the like afterwardes to kepe; as it fareth by children in , that for lerninge arn135 , whan their lesson they foryetten. Commenly, after a good disciplyning with a yerde, they kepe right wel doctrine of their .’
RIGHT with these wordes, on this lady I up myne eyen, to 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 and experience in doinge,5 every active worcheth on his passive; and whan they ben togider, “active” and “passive” ben by these philosophers. If be chafinge able to be chafed or , and thilke thinges ben in suche a distaunce that the 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 from within. The sonne yeveth light, that thinges may be . Every heteth thilke thing that it † , and it be able to be . Vertue of this Margarite 15 outforth † ; and is more able to suffre worching, or worke of the actife, but passife of the same actife; and no passife, to vertues of this Margaryte, but , in al my can I fynde! So that her vertue muste nedes on werche; in what place ever thou be, within distaunce of her worthinesse,20 as her very passife thou closed. But vertue may nothing profyte, but thy be perfourmed, and al thy sorowes . Ergo, through werchinge of her vertue thou ben holpen, and driven out of al care, and welcome to this longe by desyred!’
25‘Lady,’ quod I, ‘this is a good lesson in ginning of my joye; but wete ye wel forsothe, I suppose she have moche vertue, I wolde my spousaile were proved, and than I live out of doute, and rejoice me , in thinking of tho vertues so shewed.’
30‘I herde ,’ quod she, ‘at my beginning, whan I receyved firste for to serve, that thy jewel, thilke Margaryte thou desyrest, was closed in a with a blewe shel.’
‘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, [ ] 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 , it foloweth, after the congelement, vertue of the first mater (and40 it be not corrupt with vyces) to procede with of good vertues; eke right so it fareth of badde. Trewly, excellence in vertue of linage, for the more , discendeth by kynde to the succession in vertues to folowe. Wherfore I saye, the † of every Margarit sheweth from within the fynesse in vertue.45 Kyndely heven, whan mery † is a-lofte, apereth in mannes eye of coloure in blewe, in betokening within without. Margaryte is engendred by hevenly dewe, and sheweth in it-selfe, by fynenesse of , whether the engendrure were maked on morowe or on eve; thus sayth kynde of this50 perle. This precious that thou servest, sheweth it-selfe discended, by nobley of vertue, from this hevenlich dewe, norisshed and congeled in , that † is of al vertues; and, by werkes that men withouten, the of the coloures ben shewed, mercy and 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 in-to good by thinges, as thus: In-to god man is reduced by soules resonable; and so , or bodyes that mowe not moven, after place ben reduced in-to manne by beestes † that 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 . So it foloweth, the muskle, as † of al vertues, the place of mekenesse, to his lowest degree downe of heven, and there, by a maner of virgine engendrure, these Margarytes65 engendred, and congeled. Made not mekenesse so lowe the hye heven, to enclose and out therof so noble a dewe, that after congelement, a , 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 these same sawes.’
‘Than,’ quod she, ‘thou wel these thinges ben sothe?’
‘Ye, forsothe,’ quod I, ‘at the ful.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘that this Margaryte is ful of vertue, it is wel75 proved; wherfore grace, mercy, other vertues, I right wel, on shal discende?’
‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘yet wolde I have better declared, vertues in this Margarite kyndely to ben grounded.’
‘That shal I shew ,’ 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 [ ] thilke jewel, to al my travayle and al my85 besinesse in your service, this to gladde in some halve. Me were her honour, her plesaunce, and her good chere me for to be mayntayned and , 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 my-selfe in of al that I † , (that is no more but my alone), rather than I shulde suffre thilke jewel in any pointe ben blemisshed; as ferre as I may suffre, and with my mightes .’
95‘Suche thing,’ quod she, ‘ mokel further thy grace, and in my service avaunce. But (quod Love) thou graunte me thilke Margaryte to ben good?’
‘O! ,’ quod I, ‘why tempte ye me and tene with suche maner speche? I wolde graunt that, I shulde 100 dye; and, by my trouthe, 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 ye wolde prove that she were good by skil, that it mowe not ben denyed.105 For although I knowe, and so 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 and your ben shewed, suche , lady, by auctoritè of your excellence, shullen be stopped and ashamed!110 And more, they that han 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 make. For trewly al this to beginne, I wel my-selfe that thilke jewel is so precious perle, as a womanly115 woman in her kynde; in of goodnesse, of vertue, and also of answeringe shappe of limmes, and fetures so wel in al pointes acording, fayleth. I leve that kynde her made with studye; for kynde in her person nothing hath [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 ! Save in that, I wot wel, that Nature, in fourminge of her, in no-thinge hath erred.’
‘CERTES,’ quod Love, ‘thou wel begonne; and I aske thee this question: Is not, in general, good?’
‘I not,’ quod I.
‘No?’ quod she; ‘† not god that he made, and right good?’5
‘Than is wonder,’ quod I, ‘ yvel thinges comen a-place, sithen that al thinges weren right good.’
‘Thus,’ quod she, ‘I wol declare. Everiche qualitè and every , 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 in understanding.’
‘ 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 , is somwhat; and god it made, and being [ ] 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 sayd in double wyse, as that it is; and these parties ben founde in every creature. For al thing, the first being, is being through participacion, taking partie of being; so that [ ] 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 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 goodnesse. This dualitè, after clerkes † , is founden in every30 creature, be it never so single of onhed.’
‘Ye,’ quod I; ‘but there-as it is that god † everything of his making, and [ ] were right good (as to me not longe tyme sithen), I aske whether every creature 35 is “good” through goodnesse unfourmed eyther els fourmed; and , if it be utterly good?’
‘I shal say ,’ quod she. ‘These passed clerkes han devyded good in-to good being alone, and that is nothing but † , for nothing is good in that wyse but god: also, in good by40 , and that is y-cleped “good” for and representative of † goodnesse. And after this maner 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 , “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 “goodnesse” after comparison that he hath to his first goodnesse, so as it is inductatife by in-to the first goodnesse. 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 to thilke god by such as to hem longeth; and in this wyse al thinges ben good of the gret god,55 which is good alone.’
‘ wonder thing,’ quod I, ‘ ye have by many proved my first to be errour and misgoing, and of badnesse and feble meninge in the grounde ye aleged to be roted. Whence is it that suche 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 by badnesse and maners. God hath [ ] in good thinges, that they ben good by being, and not in yvel; for there is absence of rightful love. For badnesse is but 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 right good. An eye or a is fayrer and in a body , in , than from the body . Every thing in his kyndly place, being kyndly, good werche; and, out of that place voyded, it dissolveth and is defouled himselve. Our noble god, in gliterande wyse, by armony this 75 ordeyned, as in purtreytures storied with colours medled, in whiche and other derke colours commenden the golden and the asured paynture; every in kyndely place, , besyde another, more for other glitereth. Right so maketh right 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, litel goodnesse and litel vertue, [ ] right mokel goodnesse and vertue in thy Margaryte to ben proved, in shyning wyse to be founde and shewed. shulde ever goodnesse of have85 ben knowe, but-if somtyme reigne, and mokel yvel † ? shulde mercy ben proved, and no were, by due justificacion, to be punisshed? Therfore grace and goodnesse of a wight is founde; the sorouful hertes in good to endure, ben comforted; unitè and bitwene hertes in joye to90 abyde. What? wenest thou I rejoyce or els accompte him my servauntes that in undoinge of Mercurye, al-be-it that to Pallas he be by tytle of lawe, not according to conscience, in doinge have grace to ben suffered; or els him that † the moone for fayrenesse of95 the eve-sterre? Lo! otherwhyle by nightes, light of the moone comforteth in derke thoughtes and blynde. Understanding of love yeveth gladnesse. Who-so not byleve, whan a sothe tale is shewed, his name is entred. Wyse and worthy in gentillesse, bothe of vertue and of100 livinge, yeven ful credence in sothnesse of love with a good , there-as good evidence or experience in doinge sheweth not the contrarie. Thus mightest thou have ful in thy Margarytes goodnesse, by commendement of other jewels badnesse and yvelnesse in doing. Stoundemele yeveth several houres105 in joye.’
‘ , 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; , by maner110 necessarie, she muste be good. And goodnesse of this Margaryte is 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 of good and goodnesse; and so shulde she have that same lacke, that is to saye,115 badde; and that 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 in goodnesse or to another, is no120 vertue. Than, by al wayes of , sithen mercy and ben moste commended other vertues, and they might never ben shewed, [ ] refresshement of helpe and of , but at my moste nede; and that is the kynde werkinge of these vertues; trewly, I wene, I shal not varye from these helpes. ,125 and-if he yeve , 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 it fayle; and in-to his contrarie the name shal ben reversed. And these ben impossible; wherfore the contradictorie, that is130 necessarye, nedes muste .’
‘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 my speche in conclusion of these wordes.
IN these thinges,’ quod she, ‘that me list 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 as al other that amisse have erred and out of5 the walked, so that any drope of good wil in amendement [may] ben dwelled in their hertes. Proverbes of Salomon openly somtyme an innocent walkid by the way in blyndnesse of a derke night; whom mette a woman (if it be to saye) as a strumpet arayed, redily purveyed in turninge of thoughtes with veyne janglinges, and of rest inpacient, by dissimulcion10 of my termes, in this wyse: “ , 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 to understande; I praye you, of this parable declare me the entent.’15
‘This innocent,’ quod she, ‘is a lerninge of my lore, in seching of my blisse, in whiche thinge the 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 ne20 in what waye he is in; forsothe, suche may lightly ben begyled. To love fayned, not clothed of my livery, but , with softe speche and mery; and with fayre honyed wordes heretykes and people their errours. Austen witnesseth of an25 , that in his first beginninge he was a man right in and swete in his wordes; and the werkes miscorden. Thus fareth fayned love in her firste werchinges. Thou knowest these thinges for trewe; thou hem proved 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 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 of my prudence thou hast so manly her35 † . To me thou moche holden, that in thy kynde course of good I returne thy mynde. I trowe, ne had I thy Margaryte, thou haddest never returned. Of first in good joye was ever fayned love impacient, as the water of , whiche evermore floweth with stilnesse and privy40 noyse til it come nighe the brinke, and than ginneth it so out of to bolne, with novelleries of chaunging stormes, that in course of every renning it is in pointe to al his circuit of † . Thus fayned love prively, at the fullest of his flowinge, 45 [ ] newe stormes to arayse. And al-be-it that [ ] often with hole understandinge knowen suche perillous maters, yet 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 , “and be we dronken of our pappes”; and glose, of whiche mowe they not souke milke of helthe, but deedly venim and poyson, corrupcion of sorowe. Milke of fallas is venim of ; milke of glose55 is venim of corrupcion. Lo! what 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 folowe. Thus, as an oxe, to thy langoring deth were thou drawen;60 the hath al defased. Ever the deper thou somtyme wadest, the soner thou ; if it had killed, it had be litel wonder. But on that other syde, my trewe not faynen ne disceyve conne; sothly, their doinge is open; my foundement endureth, be the burthen never so65 ; ever in one it lasteth. It yeveth and blisful goodnesse in the laste endes, though the ginninges ben sharpe. Thus of two contraries, contrarye ben the effectes. And so thou servest shal , by her service out of perillous tribulacion delivered, bycause of her service in-to newe70 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 ; and els I shal her so strayne, that with pitè shal she ben amaystred. Remembre in thyne herte horribly somtyme to thyne Margaryte thou trespasest,75 and in a wyse ayenst her thou forfeytest! Clepe ayen thy mynde, and thyne owne giltes. What goodnesse, what , 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 to house; and yet wendest thou utterly for ever have ben refused. But wel thou wost, sithen that I in suche sharpe might so avayle, what thinkest in thy wit? ? And thou 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 and of rest, longe by him desyred, utterly he shal be anoynted.” Truste wel to me, and I wol not fayle. The † of the first way with good herte of continuance that I in 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 assented, and confessed thyne amisse-going, and cryest after mercy, but-if mercy folowed; thy blisse shal ben redy, y-wis; thou ne wost how sone.95 Now be a good , I rede. The kynde of vertues, in thy Margaryte rehersed, by strength of me in thy person shul werche. in this; for thou mayst not miscary.’ And these wordes , she streyght her on length, and rested a whyle.
¶ Thus endeth the seconde book, and here after foloweth the thirde book.
Colophon. booke. boke.
Book. III: Ch. I.
OF nombre, these clerkes, that it is naturel somme of thinges, as in tellinge , two, , and so forth; but al nombres, is determined for moste . Wherfore in nombre this of my besy leudenesse I thinke to ende and parfourme. Ensample by this worlde, in5 tymes is devyded; of whiche the first is cleped † , that is to say, going out of trewe way; and al that tho dyeden, in 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 is not yeven by of yeldinge for another, but 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 whan transitorie thinges of worldes han 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 † shul they perpetuelly,20 without any imaginatyfe yvel in any halve. These tymes are figured by tho dayes that our god was closed in erthe; and in the thirde , shewing our to joye and blisse of tho that it deserven, by his merciable grace. So this leude , in maters, accordaunt to tho tymes,25 lightly by a good inseër ben understonde; as in the firste, of misse-goinge shewed, with sorowful pyne punisshed, †that cryed after mercy. In the seconde, is Grace in good waye proved, is faylinge without , thilke first misse amendinge, in of tho erroures, even to bringe,30 with of welfare in-to amendement wexinge. And in the thirde, Joye and blisse graunted to him that wel 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 to make this 35 of a , that is so precious a gemme † , clere and litel, of whiche stones or the tonges of us Englissh people tourneth the right names, and clepeth hem ‘ ’; thus varieth our speche from many other langages. For trewly Latin, Frenche, and many mo other langages hem,40 Margery-perles, [ ] 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 of kyndes, and studien out the there of thinges, : the Margarite is a litel perle, throughout holowe and rounde and45 vertuous; and on the see-sydes, in , in muskle-shelles, of the hevenly dewe, the best ben engendred; in whiche by experience ben founde three fayre vertues. is, it yeveth to the feling spirites in bodily persones of . 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 . To whiche perle and vertues me list to lyken at this tyme Philosophie, with her speces, that is, natural, and moral, and resonable; of whiche thinges hereth what these clerkes. Philosophie is knowing of devynly and manly thinges joyned with studie of good living;55 and this in two thinges, that is, and opinion. Conninge is whan a thing by reson is conceyved. But 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 a thing is in60 , and from mens very knowleging and by no 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 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 † , and sheweth causes of heven, and strength of kyndely course; as by arsmetrike, geometry, musike, and by astronomye techeth wayes and 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 ; whiche ben prudence, justice, temperaunce, and strength. Prudence is goodly in knowing of thinges. Strength voideth al adversitees aliche even. Temperaunce distroyeth75 beestial with esy . And Justice rightfully jugeth; and juging departeth to every wight that is his owne.
The thirde spece turneth in-to of understanding; al thinges to be sayd soth and discussed; and that in two thinges is devyded. is , another is rethorike; in whiche two al80 lawes of mans ben grounded or els maintayned.
And for this is of Love, and therafter his name, and philosophie and lawe muste here-to acorden by their clergial discripcions, as: philosophie for love of is declared, lawe for mainteynaunce of 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 in of realmes and , by evenhed profitably to90 raigne, nat by singuler avauntage ne by privè envy, ne by soleyn 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 in unitè they accorden, and ende, that is, and rest, they causen norisshinge; and in the95 joye maynteynen to endure.
than, as I have declared: my acordeth with of thinges; and the Margarit in vertue is lykened to Philosophy, with her speces. In whiche maters ever ben acordaunt with bodily , and the thirde with the100 soule. But in conclusion of my boke and of this in knittinge togider, Lawe by 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 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 probable110 ; and custome is of commen usage by length of tyme used; and custome nat writte is usage; and if it be writte, it is y-written and y-cleped. But lawe of kynde is commen to every nation, as of man and woman in love, succession of children in heritance, of thing115 by strength taken or lent; and this lawe among al other the soveraynest gree in worship; whiche lawe began at the beginning of creature; it varied yet never for no chaunging of tyme. Cause, forsothe, in ordayning of lawe was to constrayne mens hardinesse in-to , and withdrawing his yvel120 wil, and turning malice in-to goodnesse; and that innocence sikerly, withouten teneful anoye, shrewes safely might inhabite by proteccion of safe-conducte, so that the shrewes, for harme, by brydle of shulden restrayne. But forsothe, in kyndely lawe, is commended but such as goddes wil hath confirmed, ne nothing denyed but 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 ( ) bothe professe130 and reguler and bounden to this Margarite-perle as by knotte of loves statutes and stablisshment in kynde, whiche that goodly not be withsetten. Lo! under this bonde am I constrayned to abyde; and man, under lawe ruled, by that lawe oweth, after desertes, to ben rewarded by or by mede,135 but-if mercy weyve the payne. So than † may be , that mercy bothe right and lawe passeth. of al these maters is the lest clere understanding, to weten, at of this thirde boke; ful knowing, goddes grace, I thinke to make neverthelater. Yet if these thinges han a good140 and a † inseër, whiche that can souke hony of the harde stone, oyle of the drye rocke, [ ] may lightly fele nobley of mater in my leude closed. But for my shal be of joye (as I sayd), and I [ ] so set fro thilke place fro whens gladnesse shulde come; my corde is to short to my boket145 ought of that water; and fewe men be my corde to eche, and many in ful ben redy it shorter to make, and to enclose , that my boket of joye nothing shulde , but empty returne, my careful sorowes to encrese: (and if I dye for payne, that were gladnesse at their hertes): good 150 me water in-to the cop of these mountayns, and I shal drinke therof, my thurstes to , 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 in his , as werbles in manifolde stoundes . And therfore, what maner of joye coude [ ] endyte? But yet at dore shal I knocke, if the key of David wolde the locke 160 , and me in, whiche that childrens tonges both openeth and closeth; where he † wercheth, departing goodly as him lyketh.
to goddes laude and reverence, of the reders, amendement of maners of the herers, encresing of worship among165 Loves servauntes, releving of my in-to grace of my jewel, and plesance of this , 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, † that the leudnesse of myne unable conning: for body in disese anoyeth the understanding in soule. A disesely letteth the wittes [ ] many thinges, and namely in sorowe. The custome never-the-later of Love, † long tyme of service, in175 termes I thinke to pursue, whiche ben lyvely to yeve understanding in other thinges. But , to of this Margarites goodnesse, I may her not halfe preyse. Wherfore, nat she for my , but this for her, is worthy to be commended, tho my be leude; right as thinges nat for places, but places180 for thinges, ought to be desyred and praysed.
‘ ,’ 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.’
‘Sothly,’ quod I, ‘my wit is leude, and I am right , and5 that mater depe. shulde I than have waded? Lightly might I have drenched, and spilte ther my-selfe.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘I shal helpe to . For right as lawe punissheth brekers of preceptes and the contrary-doers of the written , right so 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
‘Ye, ye,’ quod I, ‘I fynde in no lawe to mede and rewarde in goodnes the of desertes.’
‘Fole,’ quod she, ‘ , converted in your lawe, mikel deserveth. Also of Rome was crowned, that by him the maynteyners of Pompeus weren knowen and distroyed; and yet20 was this Paulyn 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. is acompted in-to Catons rightwisnesse; for ever in trouth florissheth his name the knowers of . 25 crowned in the heritage of Alexander the , for tellinge of a prevy hate that king Porrus to Alexander hadde. Wherfore every wight, by of lawe, after his rightwysenesse apertely his mede may chalenge; and so thou, that maynteynest lawe of kynde, and therfore hast suffred in the lawe, is30 worthy to be rewarded and ordayned, and † thy mede might thou chalenge.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘this have I wel lerned; and ever hensforward I shal drawe me therafter, in 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, [ ] ought medefully to be rewarded.’
‘Truly,’ quod Love, ‘that is sothe; and tho[ugh], by , good service in-to and avantage , utterly many men it demen to have more desert of mede than good wil40 nat compelled.’
‘ now,’ quod I, ‘ men holden of this the contrary. And what is good service? Of you wolde I here this question declared.’
‘I shal say ,’ quod she, ‘in a fewe wordes:—resonable45 workinges in plesaunce and of thy soverayne.’
‘ shulde I this performe!’ quod I.
‘Right wel,’ quod she; ‘and here me a litel. It is hardely (quod she) to understande, that by due overchaunginges foloweth his and his forme, right so every50 man, by rightful werkinges, ought to folowe the desyres in his , and 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 , shamefully he is confounded; th’ende[s] therof neden to be before loked. To every desirer of suche foresight in good service, thinges specially nedeth to be rulers in his workes. First, that he do good; next, that he do [ ] by in his owne ; 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 thus 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: 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 † what ye wrought; but the ginning gan with good, and there shal it 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 by himselve; and every part [ ] be nat accordant to his al, is 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 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 it nat, the80 crowne of worship shal be take from hem, and with shame shul they be anulled; and so, to make werke acordant with his endes, every good servaunt, by of consequence, . 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 good, in whom al goodnesse is closed, right so your endes ben directe to the same good. Aristotel determineth that 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 , [ ]90 draweth away the direction of th’ende nat goodly, must nedes be . Lo! badde is nothing els but absence or of good, as derkenesse is absence or negative of light. Than he that dooth [ ] 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 , but-if goodly it helpe?’100
‘Yes,’ quod Love, ‘the devil many good dedes, but goodly he leveth be-hynde; for † 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, 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 musten joyne togider, and that it be with free choise in ; and els deserveth he nat the 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 of that, turneth in-to thy . Lo! thilke thing by hap, by thy wil is nat caused; and therby thanke or lacke deserve? And sithen that fayleth, th’ende which that wel shulde rewarde, must faile. Clerkes sayn, no man115 but willinge is blessed; a good dede that he hath is nat of free choice willing; without whiche blissednesse may nat folowe. Ergo, neither thanke of goodnesse ne service [ ] in [that] is contrary of the good ende. So than, to good service longeth good dede goodly don, choice in .’120
‘Truely,’ quod I, ‘this have I wel understande.’
‘Wel,’ quod she, ‘every thing thus sufficiently by lawe, that is cleped justice, [ ] . 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 to chose, good or yvel to performe.’
130‘ ,’ 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.’
‘Goddes forbode els,’ quod Love; ‘no wight otherwyse,135 I trowe; free wil of good after-mede deserveth.’
‘Hath every man,’ quod I, ‘ choice by necessary maner of wil in every of his doinges that him lyketh, by goddes proper purvyaunce? I wolde that wel declared to my leude understanding; for “necessary” and “necessitè” ben wordes of mokel140 , (as to saye) so mote it be nedes, and otherwyse may it nat betyde.’
‘This shalt thou ,’ quod she, ‘so thou take hede in my speche. If it were nat in mannes owne libertè of 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 choice, wherby nothing he desyreth: and do he never so yvel, it were nat man for to wyte, but to him that suche thing ordayned him to done. Wherfore he ne ought for be punisshed, ne for no good150 dede be rewarded; but of necessitè of rightwisnesse was therfore choice of arbitrement put in mans proper . Truely, if it were otherwyse, it contraried goddes charitè, that badnesse and goodnesse rewardeth after desert of or of mede.’
‘Me thinketh this wonder,’ quod I; ‘for god by necessitè155 al thinges coming, and so mote it nedes be; and thilke thinges that ben don † our choice comen nothing of necessitè but wil. may this stonde † ? And so me thinketh truely, that choice fully repugneth goddes forweting. Trewly, lady, me semeth, they mowe nat stande160 † .’
THAN gan Love 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 , that thy5 leudnesse which I have in that mater shal openly be clered, and thy sight in ful loking therin amended. First, if thou thinke that goddes prescience repugne , 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. I suppose that they mowe15 stande togider: prescience of god, whom foloweth necessitè of thinges comming, and libertè of arbitrement, 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.’
‘ 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 wot be the case by necessary ; or els, necessitè, is somthing to be without necessitè; and 30 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 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, necessitè had I ben 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 not (quod she) say , “god me to be45 a lover or no lover,” but thus: “god me to be a lover without necessitè.” And so foloweth, whether thou love or not love, every of hem is and shal be. But 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, necessitè it is me in love to abyde, or not to love without necessitè for god it. This maner of necessitè forsothe semeth to some men in-to , 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 love, to be defended from the wil of lovinge: and so necessitè me semeth to love, ; or els to love, if I love; wherthrough neither ne60 maugrè in tho thinges I deserve.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘thou wel understande, that often we thing necessitè to be, that by no strength to be neither is coarted ne constrayned; and necessitè not to be, that with no defendinge is removed. For we it is65 necessitè god to be immortal, nought deedliche; and it is necessitè, god to be rightful; but not that any strength of 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, necessitè is to be a lover or els70 wil, as god wete. It is nat to understonde that any thing defendeth or forbit thy wil, whiche shal nat be; or els constrayneth it to be, whiche shal be. That same , forsoth, god before wot, whiche he beforn seeth. Any of wil, that wil neyther is constrayned ne defended any other thing. And so libertè of75 arbitrement it is do, that is of wil. And trewly, my good , if these thinges be wel , 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, the same wyse that any-thing be afore wist is said, for to be it is pronounced; there is nothing toforn wist but thing comming; foreweting is but of may nat be wist; wherfore, whan I sey that god toforn any-thing, necessitè is thilke thing to be comming;85 al is oon if I sey, . 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 put; it is as moch to say as if it were thus pronounced—“that thing shal be.” other thing signifyeth this necessitè but 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; in the same sentence they accorden of ; right as it is nat al , love swete to be swete, and love to be swete. For moch love is bitter and sorouful, er hertes ben ; and yet it glad[d]eth thilke sorouful on105 suche love to thinke.’
‘Forsothe,’ quod I, ‘outherwhile I have had mokel blisse in of love that stoundmele hath me sorily anoyed. And certes, lady, for I my-self thus knit with this 110 as by bonde of your service and of no libertè of wil, my wil nat acorde this service to love. I can demin in my-selfe non otherwise but necessitè am I constrayned in this service to abyde. But alas! than, if I nedeful compulsioun maugre me be with-holde, litel for al my traveil have115 I than deserved.’
‘ ,’ 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 , both on one syde therof and in the other. Of whiche right sone, I trowe, if thou wolt understonde,120 thou yeve the sentence to the partie more probable by , and in soth knowing, by that I have of this mater maked an ende.’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘of these thinges longe have I had 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 thursting desyre wete, I do brenne; unwasting, I langour and fade; and the day of my desteny in dethe or in joye I † ; but yet in th’ende I am comforted † my supposaile, in blisse and in joye to determine130 after my desyres.’
‘That thing,’ quoth Love, ‘hastely to thee neigh, of his grace and mercy! And this shal be my prayer, til thou be lykende in herte at thyne owne wil. But to enforme 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 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 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 in ; for er it were present, it might have be that it shulde nat have be; and yet it be that it shal nat be present; but thy love present whiche to her, Margarite, hath bounde, nedeful is to be present. Trewly, doing of , nat by necessitè, is comminge 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 we sayn of the same; as whan we “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 “impossible” signifyeth, that [ ] thing is nat and by no way may it be. Than, pert necessitè, al thing comming is comming; but is by necessitè foloweth, with nothing to be constrayned. Lo! whan that “comming” is said of thinge, nat alway thing165 necessitè is, it be comming. For if I say, “tomorowe love is comming in this Margarites ,” nat therfore thorow necessitè shal the ilke love be; yet it may be that it shal nat be, it were comming. Neverthelater, somtyme it is soth that somthing be of necessitè, that is sayd “to come”; as170 if I say, to-morowe † comminge the . If therfore with necessitè I pronounce comming of thing to come, in this maner love to-morne comminge in thyne Margarite to , 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, necessitè comming it is . 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, two necessitès in comming, it is to understande; that is 180 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. than, whan we sayn that god beforn wot185 thing comming, nedeful [ ] is to be comming; yet therfore make we nat in evermore, to be necessitè comminge. Sothly, thing comming 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 necessitè to be comming: for al-tho[ugh] god toforn al thinges comming, yet nat therfore he beforn wot every thing comming 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 .
HERE of this mater,’ quod she, ‘thou 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 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 . For-why, than that god wol may nat be, whan he wol the wil of man10 no necessitè to be constrayned or els defended for to wilne, and he wol to the wil; than is it nedeful, wil of man to be , and also to be that he wol. In this maner it is soth, that necessitè is mannes werke in loving, that he wol do he wol it nat with necessitè.’
15Quod I than, ‘ it in love of thilke wil, sithen men loven willing of free choice in herte? Wherfore, if it be necessitè, I praye you, lady, of an answere this question to assoyle.’
‘I wol,’ quod she, ‘answere blyvely. Right as men wil not necessitè, right so is not love of wil necessitè;20 ne necessitè wrought thilke same wil. For if he wolde it not with good wil, it shulde nat have been wrought; although that he , it is nedeful to be . But if a man do sinne, it is nothing els but to † that he shulde nat; right so sinne of wil is not to be [ ] maner necessary , 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 that wol and , and not may not wilne; that to wilne he not . thilke to wilne nedeful is; for30 impossible to him it is thing and the same to wilne and not to wilne. The werke, forsothe, of wil, to it is yeve that it be that he hath in wil, and that he wol not, voluntarie † 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 † be. If this necessitè maketh of wil, whiche that, they weren, they might have ben eschewed and shonned: god than, whiche that knoweth al , and nothing but , al these thinges, as they spontanye or necessarie, †seeth; and as he , so they40 ben. And so with these thinges wel considred, it is open at the ful, that without al maner repugnaunce god wot al maner thinges [ ] ben don by wil, whiche, they weren, [ ] might have ben [ ] never they shulde be. And yet ben they thorow a maner necessitè from .45
Hereby (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 of wil. And to make to have ful knowinge of goddes , here me (quod she) what I shal say.’50
‘Blythly, lady,’ quod I, ‘me list this mater entyrely to understande.’
‘Thou ,’ 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 ; and though a 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 ; for no future ne preterit in him may be founde. Wherfore his weting and his before-weting is al 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 of libertè, but al of necessitè: whiche thing if thou wene it be ayenst , [than is] nat 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 to be wist or to be70 before-wist of him in our willes or our doinges to be , or els comminge to be for free arbitrement. Whan thou these wel understande, than shalt thou fynde it resonable at prove, and that many thinges be nat necessitè but 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 , and evermore your reverence to kepe, that these thinges contraryen in any understanding; for ye , somtyme is libertè of wil, and also necessitè. Of this have I yet no savour,80 without better .’
‘What wonder,’ quod she, ‘is there in these thinges, sithen al day thou at thyne eye, in many thinges receyven in hemselfe revers, thorow dyvers , as thus:—I pray (quod she) which thinges ben more revers than “comen” and “ ”?85 For if I bidde “come to me,” and thou come, after, whan I bidde “go,” and thou go, thou reversest fro first comming.’
‘That is soth,’ quod I.
‘And yet,’ quod she, ‘in thy first alone, by dyvers , was ful reversinge to understande.’90
‘As ?’ quod I.
‘That shal I shewe ,’ 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 † him in moving fro thilke place, and † meving the ilke same place; to thilke place from whiche he comminge; and without any to that place he neigheth100 from whiche he is chaunged and withdrawe. But in these thinges, after dyversitè of , revers in one thinge may be without repugnaunce. Wherfore in the same wyse, without any repugnaunce, by my tofore maked, al is to beleve, somthing to be 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.’
Tho me a litel to speke, and gan my penne of my wryting, and in this wyse.
‘Trewly, lady, as me thinketh, I can allege authoritees ,110 that contrarien your . Job saith of mannes person, “thou hast his terme, whiche thou might not passe.” Than saye I that no man may shorte ne the day ordayned of his † , altho[ugh] somtyme to us it semeth som man to do a of free wil, he henteth.’115
‘ , forsothe,’ quod she, ‘it is nothing ayenst my ; 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 , may be chaunged. Suche thing is also that Poule the apostel of hem that 120 wern purposed to be sayntes, as thus: “whiche that god before and hath predestined conformes of images of his † , that he shulde ben the firste begeten, that is to saye, here amonges many ; 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 , after whiche they ben cleped sayntes or holy in the everlasting present, wher is neither tyme passed ne tyme comminge, but ever it is present, and as mokel a moment as sevin 130 winter; and so 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 libertè of arbitrement. And right as in the everlasting present no maner thing was ne shal be, but is; and 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 whan passed and to come ginnen entre; whiche tymes here amonges you everich foloweth other. But the presence everlasting dureth in , withouten any imaginable chaunging, and ever is present and . 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, to folowe another: these maken your transitory tymes with chaunginge of lyves and of people, but right as your temporel presence coveiteth every place, and al150 thinges in every of your tymes be contayned, and as both and wist to goddes very knowinge.’
‘Than,’ quod I, ‘me wondreth why Poule these wordes by voice of in tyme passed, that god his sayntes before-wist hath predestined, hath cleped, hath justifyed, and155 hath magnifyed. Me thinketh, he shulde have 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 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 to understanding. This eternal presence, as I sayd, hath inclose togider in one al tymes, in which al thinges that ben in165 dyvers tymes and in dyvers places temporel, [ ] without posterioritè or prioritè ben closed perpetual , and maked to in present sight. But there thou sayest that Poule shulde have spoke thilke forsaid sentence † tyme present, and that most shulde have ben acordaunt the everlasting presence,170 why gabbest thou †in thy wordes? Sothly, I say, Poule moved the wordes by of tyme passed, to shewe fully that thilk wordes were nat put for temporel ; for al [ ] thilk tyme [of] temporallich born, whiche that Poule pronounced god have tofore knowe, and have cleped, than175 magnifyed. it may wel be that Poule used tho wordes of passed , for nede and lacke of a worde in mannes bodily betokeninge the everlasting presence. And therfore, [ ] worde moste semeliche in lykenesse to everlasting presence, he his sentence; for thinges that here-180 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, of tyme passed than of tyme temporal present, and so more in accordaunce. In this maner what , of these that ben arbitrement, or els as necessary, holy 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 ensample make, sithen I knowe the heed-knotte in that yelke. Lo! somtyme thou wrytest no , than in no wil to wryte. And right as while thou200 wrytest nat or els wolt nat wryte, it is nat nedeful to wryte or els wilne to wryte. And for to make knowe utterly that thinges ben otherwise in the everlastinge presence than in temporal tyme, , my good : for is in the everlastinge presence, than in temporal tyme it was nat; in205 † tyme, in presence shal it nat be. Than no , 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 in tyme temporel, and [im] in eternitè, than nat to be in any tyme and to be alway in210 eternitè; 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 [ ] eternitè; but in nat to be. For I saye nat thy love to-morne in no tyme to be, but to-day alone215 I be; and yet, never-the-later, it is 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 and present oweth nat to be demed; and yet foloweth nat thilke , that was or els shal be, in no maner ben passed220 or els comming; than utterly shul we deny for there without it is, in his present maner.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘myne owne disciple, ginnest thou [be] able to have the name of my servaunt! Thy is clered; away is errour of cloude in unconning; is blyndnesse of225 love; away is thoughtful study of medling maners. Hastely thou entre in-to the joye of me, that am thyn owne maistres! Thou (quod she), in a fewe wordes, wel and clerely concluded mokel of my mater. And right as there is no revers ne in tho thinges, right so, withouten230 any repugnaunce, it is sayd somthing to be movable in tyme temporel, † it be, that in eternité dwelleth immovable, nat afore it be or after that it is, but without cessing; naught is there after tyme; that same is there everlastinge that temporalliche somtyme nis; and it be, it not be, as I have sayd.’235
‘ sothly,’ quod I, ‘this have I wel understande; so that me thinketh, that prescience of god and 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 (quod I) a litel understande, sithen that [ ] al thing thus wot, whether thilke wetinge be of tho thinges, or els thilke of goddes weting, and so of god is; and if every thing be 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 , this lesson to lerne. Myne owne trewe servaunt, the noble in Englissh, whiche evermore him besieth and travayleth right sore my name250 to (wherfore al that willen me good owe to do him worship and reverence bothe; trewly, his better ne his pere in of my rules coude I never fynde)—he (quod she), in a that he made of my servant Troilus, hath this mater touched, and at the ful this question assoyled. Certaynly, his noble 255 can I not amende; in goodnes of speche, without any maner of † imaginacion, in witte and in good of sentence he passeth al other makers. In the boke of Troilus, the answere to thy question thou lerne. Never-the-later, yet may lightly thyne understandinge ben lerned,260 if thou have knowing of these to-fornsaid thinges; with that thou have understanding of chapiters of this seconde boke, that is to say, good to be somthing, and bad to al maner being. For badde is nothing els but absence of good; and [ ] 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 [ ].’
‘I have,’ quod I tho, ‘ynough knowing therin; me nedeth of other thinges to here, that is to saye, 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 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 5 sprede, to have braunches and blosmes of waxing frute in grace, of whiche the taste and the savour is endelesse blisse, in ever to onbyde.’
‘ , trewly, lady, I have my grounde wel understonde; but what thing is thilke spire that in-to a tree shulde wexe?10 Expowne me that thing, what ye therof .’
‘That shal I,’ quod she, ‘blithly, and take good hede to the wordes, I 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 of grace is plentuously out-sprongen. For thy wil be good, yet may not therfore thilk blisse desyred hastely on 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 in gretnesse, than han25 blastes and † but litel might, any disadvantage to them for to werche.’
‘Myne owne soverayne lady,’ quod I, ‘and welth of myne , and it were lyking un-to your noble grace therthrough nat to be , I suppose ye erren, ye maken jelousy, envy,30 and distourbour to hem that ben your servauntes. I have lerned ofte, this tyme, that in every lovers of jelousyes greves ben sowe, wherfore (me thinketh) ye ne ought in no maner accompte thilke among these other 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 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 own40 . This jelousy in ful thought ever shulde be kept, for ferdnesse to lese his love by miskeping, 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 [ ], 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 , or els by wening of his owne folisshe wilfulnesse mistrusteth, truely with fantasy of 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 , ne every wight fully misbeleve; the of these thinges † 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 wil nat be acomered, can abyde wel his tyme, til grace and blisse of his service folowing have him so mokel , as his abydinge toforehande hath him .’
‘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 , as ye toforn have declared. , anon as hye is , why springeth nat the tother? And as the cometh, why receyveth nat the other? For every thing that is out of his kyndly place, by ful65 ever cometh kyndely to drawe; and his kyndly being ther-to him constrayneth. And the kyndly stede of this blisse is in suche wil medled to † , and nedes in that it shulde have his kyndly being. Wherfore me thinketh, anon as that wil to be shewed and him profreth, thilke blisse shulde him70 hye, thilk wil to receyve; or els of goodnesse worchen nat in hem as they shulde. Lo, be the sonne never so , ever it hath his kynde werching in erthe. weight on hye on-lofte caried stinteth never til it come to † resting-place. Waters75 to the 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 and his beinge-place sheweth. Wherfore † kynde, on this good wil, anon as it were spronge, this blisse shulde thereon discende; her wolde,80 they dwelleden togider; and so have ye your-selfe.’
‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘thyne sitteth wonder sore, this blisse for to have; thyne 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 [ ] in that wil to † . Never-the-later, their comming togider, after kyndes ordinaunce, nat sodaynly betyde; it muste abyde tyme, as kynde yeveth him . 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 to be the more delicious whan it is atasted.’
‘ is it,’ quod I than, ‘that so many blisses I al 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 fayleth, traveyle was ; service had no tyme. This is a queynt maner suche doing cometh aboute.’
‘O,’ quod she, ‘that is thus. The erthe kyndely, after and tymes of the yere, bringeth innumerable herbes and trees, bothe profitable and other; but suche as men might 100 (though in norisshinge to mannes kynde serven, or els suche as tournen unto mennes confusion, in case that therof they ataste), comen 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 † to mankynde, without traveyle, tilthe, and longe abydinge-tyme, comen nat out of the erthe, and with sede toforn ordayned, suche herbes to make springe and growe. Right so the blisse, that we have in of during-tyme to abyde, may nat come so lightly, but with 110 traveyle and right besy tilth; and yet good 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 [ ] 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 quarters of nobles of golde? That were a precious gift?’120
‘Ye, certes,’ quod I.
‘And what,’ quod she, ‘ quarters ful of ?’
‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘that were a riche .’
‘And what,’ quod she, ‘of as mokel azure?’
Quod I, ‘a precious gift at ful.’125
‘Were not,’ quod she, ‘a noble of al these atones?’
‘In good faith,’ quod I, ‘for wanting of Englissh naming of so noble a worde, I can not, for preciousnesse, yeve it a name.’
‘Rightfully,’ quod she, ‘ thou demed; and yet love, in vertue, passeth al the in this erthe. Good wil, accordant130 to , with no maner propertè may be countrevayled. Al the azure in the worlde is nat to accompte in of . Love that with good wil and accordeth, with non erthly riches may nat ben amended. This yeft hast thou yeven, I know it my-selfe, and thy Margarite thilke gift hath receyved; in whiche135 thinge to rewarde she hath her-selfe bounde. But thy , as I said, by no maner riches may be amended; wherfore, with thinge that may nat be amended, thou shalt of thy Margarites rightwisenesse be rewarded. Right suffred yet never but every good dede somtyme to be yolde. Al wolde thy Margarite with140 no rewarde quyte, right, that never-more dyeth, thy mede in merit wol purvey. Certes, such blisse as thou first nempnest, right wil hem rewarde as wel is worthy; and though at thyn eye it semeth, the the desert to passe, right can after sende suche bitternesse, evenly it to rewarde. So145 that blisse, by al wayes of , in gret goodnesse may not ben acompted; but blisse long, both long it abydeth, and endlesse it wol why thy wil is endelesse. For if thou lovedest ever, thy wil is ever ther and neveremore to150 chaunge; evenhed of rewarde must ben don by right; than muste nedes thy grace and this blisse [ ] endelesse in . Evenliche disese asketh evenliche , whiche hastely thou shalt have.’
‘A!’ quod I, ‘it suffyseth not than alone good wil, be it never155 so wel with reson medled, but-if it be in good service longe travayled. And so through service shul men come to the joye; and this, me thinketh, shulde be the wexing , of which ye first meved.
, lady,’ quod I, ‘that tree to wolde I lerne.’
‘So thou shalt,’ quod she, ‘er thou depart hence. The first thing, thou muste thy werke on grounde siker and good, accordaunt to thy springes. For if thou desyre grapes, thou5 goest not to the hasel; ne, for to roses, thou sekest not on okes; and if thou shalt have hony-soukels, thou the frute of the soure docke. Wherfore, if thou desyre this blisse in , thou must thy there vertue foloweth, and not to loke after the bodily goodes; as I sayd whan thou were10 wryting in thy . And for thou set thy-selfe in so noble a place, and utterly lowed in thyn herte the misgoing of thy first , this † is the esier to springe, and the more lighter thy soule in grace to be lissed. And trewly thy , that is to say, thy wil algates ben stedfast in this mater without15 any chaunginge; for if it be stedfast, no man it voyde.’
‘Yes, pardè,’ quod I, ‘my wil ben turned by frendes, and of manace and thretning in lesinge of my lyfe and of my limmes, and in many other wyse that cometh not to mynde. And also it ofte ben out of thought; for no remembraunce20 may holde thing continuelly in herte, be it never so lusty desyred.’
‘ ,’ quod she, ‘thou thy wil shal folowe, thy wil to be grounded continuelly to abyde. It is thy wil, that thou lovest and loved, and yet shal loven this Margaryte-perle; and in thy wil thou thinkest to holde it. Than is thy wil knit25 in love, not to chaunge for no newe lust besyde; this wil thyn herte from al maner . But than, although thou be thretened in dethe or els in otherwyse, yet is it in thyn arbitrement to chose, thy love to voyde or els to holde; and thilke arbitrement is in a maner a jugement bytwene and thy30 herte. And if thou deme to love thy good wil fayleth, than thou worthy no blisse that good wil shulde deserve; and if thou chose continuaunce in thy good service, than thy good wil abydeth; nedes, blisse folowing of thy good wil must come by strength of thilke jugement; for thy first wil, that taught thyn35 herte to abyde, and it from th’eschaunge, with thy reson is accorded. Trewly, this maner of wil thus shal abyde; impossible it were to turne, if thy be trewe; and if every man diligently the meninges of his wil consider, he shal wel understande that good wil, knit with , but in a false herte40 never is voyded; for power and might of keping this good wil is libertè of arbitrement in , but good wil to kepe may not fayle. Eke than if it fayle, it sheweth it-selfe that good wil in keping is not there. And thus false wil, that putteth out the good, constrayneth the herte to accorde in lovinge of45 thy good wil; and this accordaunce bitwene false wil and thyn herte, in falsitè ben lykened † . Yet a litel wol I say in good wil, thy good willes to rayse and hede to me (quod she) thy willes thou shalt understande. Right as ye han in your body dyvers membres, and 50 wittes, everiche to his owne doing, whiche thinges as instrumentes ye usen; as, your handes to handle; , to go; tonge, to speke; eye, to : right so the soule hath in him certayne steringes and strengthes, whiche he useth as instrumentes to his certayne doinges. is in the soule,55 which he useth, thinges to knowe and to prove; and wil, whiche he useth to wilne; and yet is neyther wil ne al the soule; but everich of hem is a thing by him-selfe in the soule. And right as everich hath thus singuler instrumentes by hemselfe,60 they han as wel dyvers and dyvers maner usinges; and thilke aptes mowen in wil ben cleped is an instrument of willinge in his apetytes. Wherfore mokel sayn, if a resonable creatures soule any thing fervently wilneth, affectuously he wilneth; and thus may wil, by ,65 in wayes ben understande. is instrument of willing; another is affection of this instrument; and the third is use, that setteth it a-werke. Instrument of willing is thilke strength of the soule, which that constrayneth to wilne, right as is instrument of resons, which ye usen whan ye loken. of this70 instrument is a thing, by whiche ye be drawe desyrously anything to wilne in coveitous maner, al be it for the tyme out of your mynde; as, if it come in your thought thilke thing to remembre, anon ye ben willing thilke to done or els to have. And thus is instrument wil; and is wil also, to wilne75 as I said; as, for to wilne helth, whan wil nothing theron thinketh; for anon as it cometh to memorie, it is in wil. And so is to wilne slepe, whan it is out of mynde; but anon as it is remembred, wil wilneth slepe, whan his tyme cometh of the doinge. For of wil never accordeth to sicknesse,80 ne alway to wake. Right so, in a true lovers of willing, instrument is to wilne tr[o]uthe in his service; and this alway abydeth, although he be sleping or thretned, or els not theron thinking; but anon as it cometh to mynde, anon he is stedfast in that wil to abyde. Use of this instrument forsothe85 is another thing by himselfe; and that have ye not but whan ye be doing in willed thing, by or instrument of wil purposed or desyred; and this maner of usage in my service wysely nedeth to be ruled from wayters with envy closed, from spekers ful of jangeling wordes, from proude folk and hautayn,90 and innocentes bothe scornen and dispysen. Thus in doing varieth the actes of willinge everich from other, and yet ben they cleped “wil,” and the name of wil utterly owen they to have; as instrument of wil is wil, whan ye turne in-to of any thing to don, be it to or to stande, or any such thing95 els. This instrument may ben had, although affect and usage be left out of doing; right as ye have sight and reson, and yet alway use ye* † to loke, [ ] thinges with resonning to prove; and so is instrument of wil, wil; and yet varyeth he from and using bothe. of wil also for wil is cleped, but it varyeth from instrument in this maner wyse, by that , whan it100 cometh in-to mynde, anon-right it is in willinge desyred, and the therof with willing nil not acorde; this is closed in herte, usage and instrument slepe. This slepeth whan instrument and waken; and of suche maner , trewly, some man hath more and some man lesse. Certes, trewe lovers105 wenen ever therof to litel to have. False lovers in litel wenen have right mokel. Lo, instrument of wil in false and trewe bothe, evenliche is proporcioned; but is more in some places than in some, bycause of the goodnesse that foloweth, and that I thinke hereafter to declare. Use of this instrument is wil,110 but it taketh his name whan wilned thing is in doing; but utterly grace to in thy blisse † to ben rewarded. Thou have than of wil at the ful, and use whan his tyme asketh wysely to ben governed. Sothly, my disciple, without fervent affeccion of wil may no man ben saved. This115 affeccion of good service in good love may not ben grounded, without fervent to the thing in wil coveited. But he that never to have or not to have, affeccion of wil in that hath no resting-place. Why? For whan thing cometh to mynde, and it be not taken in hede to or not come, therfore in120 that place affeccion fayleth; and, for thilke affeccion is so litel, thorow whiche in goodnesse he shulde come to his grace, the litelnesse wil it not suffre to avayle by no way in-to his helpes. Certes, grace and thilke affeccion foloweth. This affeccion, with , dureth in everiche trewe herte, and evermore125 is ; no ferdnesse, no strength it remove, whyle tr[o]uthe in herte abydeth. Sothly, whan falsheed ginneth entre, tr[o]uthe draweth away grace and ; but than thilke falsheed, that trouth[e] hath thus voyded, hath unknit the of understanding bytwene wil and the herte. And who-so130 that , and unknitteth wil to be in other purpose than to the first accorde, knitteth him with contrarye of ; and that is . Lo, than, wil and bringeth a man from the blisse of grace; whiche thing, of pure kynde, every man135 ought to shonne and to eschewe, and to the knot of wil and confirme.
Me thinketh,’ quod she, ‘by thy studient lokes, thou wenest in these wordes me to contrarien from other in other place, as whan thou were somtyme in of wil to140 that han brought thee in , which I have consayled to voyde, and thyn herte discover; and there I made thy wil to ben chaunged, whiche now thou wenest I argue to with[h]olde and to kepe! Shortly I say, the revers in these wordes may not ben founde; for though dronkennesse be forboden,145 men shul not alway ben drinklesse. I trowe right, for thou thy wil out of shulde not tourne, thy wil in one shulde not † . I say, thy wil in thy first with was closed; constrewe forth of the what good lyketh. Trewly, that wil and shulde be knit togider,150 was wil of reson; after tyme thyne herte is assentaunt to them bothe, thou might not chaunge. But if thou from rule of varye, in whiche variaunce to come to thilke blisse desyred, contrariously thou werchest; and nothing may knowe wil and reson but love alone. Than if thou voide love, than † [thou]155 the that knitteth; and so nedes, or els right lightly, that other a-sondre; wherfore thou seest apertly that love holdeth this knot, and amaystreth hem to be bounde. These thinges, as a in circuit of wrethe, ben knit in thy soule without departing.’
‘A! let be! let be!’ quod I; ‘it nedeth not of this no160 rehersayle to make; my soule is yet in blisse, in thinking of that knotte!’
‘VERY trouth,’ quod she, ‘hast thou conceyved of these thinges in thyne ; hastely shalt thou be able very joye and blisse to receyve; and , I wot wel, thou desyrest to knowe the maner of braunches that out of the tree5 shulde .’
‘Therof, lady,’ quod I, ‘hertely I you pray; for than leve I † , that right after I shal of the frute that I so long have desyred.’
‘Thou hast ,’ quod she, ‘in what wyse this toforn this have I declared, as in grounde and in stocke of wexing. First,10 the shulde be thy , ful in thyne ; and the stocke (as I sayde) shulde be continuaunce in good service by long tyme in traveyle, til it were in right wel woxen. And whan this tree suche hath caught as I have rehersed, the braunches than, that the frute shulde forth-bringe,15 speche must they be nedes, in voice of prayer in complayning wyse used.’
‘Out! alas!’ quod I tho, ‘he is soroufully wounded that hydeth his speche, and spareth his complayntes to make! What shal I speke the care? But payne, even , sore hath20 me assayled, and so ferforth in payne me thronge, that I leve my is seer, and never shal it frute forth ! Certes, he is , that dare his prevy mone discover to a true felowe, that conning hath and might, wherthrough his pleint in any thinge may ben amended. And mokel more is he joyed, that with herte25 of hardinesse dare complayne to his lady what cares that he suffreth, by hope of mercy with grace to be avaunced. Truely I saye for me, sithe I this Margarit to serve, durst I never me discover of no maner ; and wel the later hath myn herte hardyed suche thinges to done, for the and worthy30 refresshmentes that she of her grace goodly, without any desert on my halve, ofte hath me rekened. And nere her goodnesse the more with grace and with mercy medled, which passen al desertes, traveyls, and servinges that I in any degre might endite, I wolde wene I shulde be without recover, in getting of this blisse for35 ever! Thus have I stilled my ; thus have I covered my care; that I in sorouful anoy, as gledes and coles wasten a under deed asshen. Wel the hoter is the that with asshen it is overleyn. Right longe this wo have I suffred.’
‘Lo,’ quod Love, ‘ thou farest! Me thinketh, the palasy-yvel40 hath acomered thy wittes; as faste as thou hyest , anon sodaynly thou movest! Shal nat yet al thy leudnesse out of thy braynes? Dul ben thy skilful understandinges; thy wil hath thy wit so amaistred. Wost thou nat wel (quod she)45 but every tree, in his sesonable tyme of burjoninge, shewe his blomes from within, in signe of what frute shulde out of him , els the frute for that yere men delivered, be the never so good? And though the stocke be mighty at the ful, and the braunches seer, and no burjons shewe, farwel the50 gardiner! He may with an yvè-lefe; his frute is fayled. Wherfore thy braunches must burjonen in presence of thy lady, if thou desyre any frute of thy ladies grace. But beware of thy lyfe, that thou use, as in asking of thinges that in-to shame! For than might thou nat spede, by no maner way55 that I can espy. Vertue wol nat suffre villany out of him-selfe to . Thy wordes may nat be queynt, ne of subtel maner understandinge. Freel-witted people supposen in suche poesies to be begyled; in open understandinge must every be used. “Voice without clere understanding of sentence,” saith ,60 “right nought printeth in .” Thy wordes than to abyde in , and clene in ful sentence of trewe mening, platly must thou shewe; and ever be obedient, her hestes and her wils to performe; and be thou set in suche a wit, to wete by a loke ever-more what she . And he that list nat to speke, but65 stilly his suffer, what wonder is it, tho[ugh] he come never to his blisse? Who that traveyleth unwist, and coveyteth thing unknowe, unweting he shal be quyted, and with unknowe thing rewarded.’
‘Good lady,’ quod I than, ‘it hath ofte be sene, that †70 and stormes so hugely have in burjoning-tyme, and by perte duresse han of the springes so clene, wherthrough the frute of thilke yere hath fayled. It is a grace, whan burjons han good † , their frutes to bringe. Alas! than, after suche stormes, is it to avoyde, til efte wedring and75 yeres han maked her circute cours al about, er any frute be able to be tasted! He is shent for shame, that foule is rebuked of his speche. He that is in fyre brenning sore smarteth for ; him thinketh ful long er the water come, that shulde the quenche. While men after a leche, the body is buryed.80 Lo! semely this frute wexeth! Me thinketh, that of tho frutes no man ataste, for pure bitternesse in . In this wyse bothe frute and the tree wasten away togider, though mokel besy have be , to bringe it so that it was able to . A lyte speche hath maked that al this labour is in ydel.’85
‘I not,’ quod she, ‘wherof it serveth, thy question to assoyle. Me thinketh duller in wittes than whan I with thee first mette. Although a man be leude, commenly for a fole he is nat demed but-if he no good wol lerne. Sottes and lightly out of mynde the good that men hem. I sayd therfore,90 thy stocke must be stronge, and in wel herted: the tree is ful feble that at the firste dent falleth. And although frute fayleth yere or two, yet shal suche a come tyme or other, that shal bringe out frute that [ ]. Fole, have I not seyd toforn this, as tyme hurteth, right so ayenward tyme 95 and rewardeth; and a tree oft fayled is holde more in whan it frute bringeth. that for ones lesinge in the see no more to aventure thinketh, he shal never with aventure come to richesse. must men on the oke smyte, til the happy dent have entred, whiche with the okes owne swaye100 maketh it to come al at ones. So ofte falleth the water on the harde rocke, til it have persed it. The even draught of the wyr-drawer maketh the to ben even and supple-werchinge; and if he stinted in his draught, the a-sonder. Every wel springeth, whan it is wel grounded and105 not often removed.’
‘What shal this frute be,’ quod I, ‘ it ginneth rype?’
‘Grace,’ quod she, ‘in joy to endure; and therwith thou .’
‘Grace?’ quod I; ‘me thinketh, I shulde have a for my110 longe travayle?’
‘I shal ,’ quod she; ‘retribucion of thy good willes to have of thy Margarite-perle, it not the name of mede, but of good grace; and that cometh not of thy , but of thy Margarytes goodnesse and vertue alone.’115
Quod I, ‘shulde al my longe travayle have no grace? And som-tyme your-selven sayd, rightwisnesse evenliche rewardeth, to quyte for another.’
‘That is sothe,’ quod Love, ‘ever as I sayde, as to him that120 good, which to done he were neyther holden ne yet constrayned.’
‘That is sothe,’ quod I.
‘Trewly,’ quod she, ‘al that ever thou doest to thyne Margaryteperle, of wil, of love, and of reson thou owest to done it; 125 nothing els but yelding of thy dette in quytinge of thy grace, which she whan ye first mette.’
‘I wene,’ quod I, ‘right grace to me she delivered. Certes, it was harde grace; it hath nyghe me astrangled.’
‘That it was good grace, I wot wel thou wilt it , er130 thou departe hence. If any man yeve to another wight, to whom that he ought not, and whiche that of him-selfe have, a garnement or a cote, though he the cote or els thilke clothing, it is not to to him that was naked the cause of his clothinge, but to him that was yever of the garnement.135 Wherfore I saye, thou that were naked of love, and of thy-selfe non have mightest, it is not to to thyne owne persone, sithen thy love thy Margaryte-perle. Ergo, she was yever of the love, thou it use; and there she grace, thy service to beginne. She is worthy the of this140 grace, for she was the yever. Al the thoughtes, besy doinges, and plesaunce in thy might and in thy wordes that thou devyse, ben but right litel in quytinge of thy dette; had she not ben, suche thing hadde not ben studyed. So al these maters kyndly drawen to this Margaryte-perle, for from thence145 were they borowed; her to wyte, the love that thou havest; and thus quytest thou thy dette, in that thou stedfastly servest. And kepe wel that love, I rede, that of her thou hast borowed, and use it in her service thy dette to quyte; and than thou able right sone to have grace; wherfore after mede150 in none halve mayst thou loke. Thus thy ginning and ending is but grace ; and in thy good deserving thy dette thou aquytest; without grace is nothing , what-so-ever thou werche. Thanke thy Margaryte of her grace that † hath gyded, and praye her of continuaunce in thy werkes herafter; and that, for no mishappe, thy grace overthwartly155 tourne. Grace, glorie, and joye is coming good folkes desertes; and by getting of grace, therin shullen ende. And what is more glorie or more joye than and love in charitè, whiche god hath graunted to al tho that wel † deserve?’ And with that al at ones sterte in-to160 my : ‘here wol I onbyde,’ quod she, ‘for ever, and never wol I gon hence; and I wol kepe thee from medlinge while me liste here onbyde; thyne entermeting maners in-to stedfastnesse shullen be chaunged.’
SOBERLICHE tho I up myn eyen, and hugely tho was I astonyed of this sodayne adventure; and wolde I have lerned, vertues shulden ben knowen; in whiche thinges, I hope to god, here-after she shal me enfourmen; and namely, sithen her restinge-place is so at my wil; and anon al5 these thinges that this lady said, I remembred me by my-selfe, and revolved the † of myne understondinge wittes. Tho I fully al these maters there written, by fayned love bothe realmes and hath governed a throwe; lightly the fautes espye; rules in love10 shulde ben used; somtyme with fayned love foule I was begyled; I shulde love have knowe; and I shal in love with my service procede. Also furthermore I , of perdurable letters wonderly there graven, these maters whiche I shal nempne. Certes, age ne other in erthe the leest sillable of15 this in no poynte deface, but clerely as the sonne in myne understandinge soule they shynen. This never out of my mynde, I not my love kepe, but willinge in herte; wilne to love I not, but I lovinge have. Love have I , but grace of this Margarite-perle. It is no maner doute, that20 wil wol not love it is lovinge, as wil wol not rightfully but for it is rightful it-selve. Also wil is not lovinge for he wol love; but he wol love for he is lovinge; it is al to † to be lovinge, and lovinges in possession to have. Right so wil wol not25 love, for of love hath he no partie. And yet I denye not lovinge wil [ ] wilne more love to have, whiche that he hath not whan he wolde more than he hath; but I saye, he no love wilne if he no love have, through which thilke love he shuld wilne. But to have this loving wil may no man of him-selfe, but through30 grace ; right so no man it kepe, but by grace folowinge. Consider every man aright, and let if that any wight of him-selfe mowe this loving wel , and he therof first have; for if it shulde of him-selfe , either it muste be willing or not willing. Willing by him-selfe may he it not35 have, sithen him fayleth the mater that shulde it . The mater him fayleth; why? He therof have no knowing til whan grace put it in his herte. Thus willing by him-selfe may he it not have; and not willing, may he it not have. Pardè, every conseyt of every creature otherwyse wil [ ] not40 ; wil in with not willing by no way mowe acorde. And although this loving wol come in myn by of arbitrement, as in this booke fully is shewed, yet as moche alowe my as grace of that Margaryte to me . For neyther might I, without grace to-forn going and45 folowing, thilke grace ne kepe; and lese shal I it never but-if free wil , as in willinge otherwyse than grace hath me graunted. For right as whan any person taketh willing to be sobre, and throweth that away, willing to be dronke; or els taketh wil of drinking out of mesure; whiche thing, anon as it is50 , maketh ( his owne gilte by free wil) that [ ] leseth his grace. In whiche thing therfore upon the nobley of grace I mote trusten, and my besy cure thilke grace to kepe, that my free wil, otherwyse than by it shulde werche, cause not my grace to voyde: for thus must I bothe loke to free wil and to55 grace. For right as naturel usage in engendring of children not ben without † , ne also but with the † , for neyther † ne † in begetting it lacke; right so grace and free wil accorden, and withoute hem bothe not lovinge wil in no partie ben getten. But yet is not free wil in gettinge of that thing so mokel as is grace, ne in the kepinge therof60 so moche deserveth; and yet in gettinge and keping bothe they accorde. Trewly, often-tyme grace free wil helpeth, in fordoinge of contrarye thinges, that to willinge love not accorden, and † wil adversitees to withsitte; wherfore †al-togider to grace oweth to ben accepted, that my willing deserveth. Free65 wil to lovinge in this wyse is accorded. I remembre me wel al this (who-so hede taketh) considereth [ ] al thinges to werchinges of mankynde evenly accordeth, as in turning of this worde ‘love’ in-to trouthe or els rightwisnesse, whether that it lyke. For what thing that falleth to man in helping of free70 arbitrement, thilke rightwisnesse to take or els to kepe, whiche a man shal be saved (of whiche thing al this mencion hath maked), in every poynte therof grace oweth to be thanked. Wherfore I saye, every wight havinge this rightwisnesse rightful is; and yet therfore I fele not in my conscience, that to al75 rightful is behoten the blisse everlastinge, but to hem that ben rightful withouten any unrightfulnesse. Some man after some degree rightfully ben accompted as chaste men in living, and yet ben they janglers and ful of envy pressed; to hem shal this blisse never ben delivered. For right as very blisse is without al maner80 nede, right so to no man shal it be yeven but to the rightful, voyde from al maner unrightfulnesse founde; so no man to her blisse shal ben folowed, but he be rightful, and with unrightfulnesse not bounde, and in that degree fully be knowe. This rightfulnesse, in as moche as in him-selfe is, of none yvel is it cause; and of al85 maner goodnesse, trewly, it is † . This helpeth the spirit to withsitte the leude lustes of flesshly lykinge. This and maintayneth the lawe of kynde; and if that otherwhyle me weneth of this precious thing to folowe, therthorough is [ ] the cause; of somwhat els cometh it aboute, who-so90 taketh hede. By rightfulnesse forsothe many holy sayntes good savour in swetenesse to god almighty; but that to some folkes they weren savour of dethe, in-to deedly ende, that not of the sayntes rightwisnesse, but of other wicked mennes 95 badnesse hath proceded. Trewly, the ilke wil, whiche that the Lady of Love me lerned ‘ of wil’ to nempne, which is in willing of profitable thinges, yvel is it not, but whan to flesshly lustes it consenteth ayenst of soule. But that this more clerely be , it is for to knowe, whence and 100 thilke wil is so vicious, and so yvel dedes to perfourme. Grace at the ginninge ordeyned thilke wil in goodnesse ever to have endured, and never to badnesse have assented. Men shulde not byleve, that god thilke wil maked to be firste † , as Adam and Eve; for vicious appetytes, and vicious wil105 to suche appetytes consentinge, ben not on thing in kynde; other thing is for the other. And this wil first in-to man first assented, I holde it profitable to shewe; but if the first condicion of creature wol be considred and apertly loked, lightly the cause of suche wil may be shewed. Intencion of god was,110 that rightfully and blissed shulde nature ben maked, himselfe for to kepe; but neyther blisful ne rightful might it not be, withouten wil in them bothe. Wil of rightfulnesse is thilke same rightfulnesse, as is shewed; but wil of blisse is not thilke blisse, for every man hath not thilke blisse, in whom115 the wil therof is abydinge. In this blisse, after every understandinge, is suffisaunce of covenable comoditees without any maner nede, whether it be blisse of aungels or els thilke that grace first in paradise suffred Adam to have. For al-though angels blisse be more than Adams was in paradyse, yet it not120 be † , that Adam in paradyse suffisaunce of blisse; for right as herte is without al maner of coldenesse, and yet another herte more have; right so defended Adam in paradyse to ben blessed, . aungels blisse be moche more, forsothe, it foloweth125 not [ ], lasse than another to have, therfore ; but for to wante a whiche that behoveth to ben had, that ‘nede’ ben cleped; and that was not in Adam at the first ginning. God and the Margaryte weten what I . Forsothe, where-as is nede, there is . †God without cause130 to-forngoing made not creature ; for him to understande and love had he firste maked. God made therfore man blissed without al maner indigence; † and at ones creature blisse, and wil of blissednesse, and wil of rightfulnesse, whiche is rightfulnesse it-selve, and of arbitrement, that is, wil, with whiche thilke rightfulnesse may135 he kepe and lese. So and in that wyse [ ] ordayned thilke two, that wil (whiche that “instrument” is , as mencion is maked) shulde use thilke rightfulnesse, by of his soule to good maner of governaunce, in thought and in wordes; and that it shulde use the blisse in obedient maner, withouten140 any incommoditè. Blisse, forsothe, in-to mannes , and rightwisnesse in-to his worship god delivered at ones; but rightfulnesse so was yeven that man might it lese, whiche if he had, but continuelly [ ] have it , he shulde have deserved the avauncement in-to the felowshippe of angels, in whiche thing145 if he that loste, never by him-selfe shulde he it mowe recovere; and as wel the blisse that he was in, as aungels blisse that to-him-wardes was coming, shulde be nome at ones, and he deprived of hem bothe. And thus fil man un-to lykenesse of bestes; and with hem to corrupcion and150 unlusty apetytes was he under-throwen. But yet wil of blisse dwelleth, that by indigence of goodes, whiche that he loste through , by right shulde he ben punisshed. And thus, for he weyved rightfulnesse, hath he his blisse; but fayle of his may he not; and †155 comodites to his nature whiche he hath may he not have, to false lustes, whiche ben bestial appetytes, he is turned. Folye of unconning hath him begyled, in wening that thilke ben the comoditees that owen to ben desyred. This of wil by libertè of arbitrement is enduced to wilne thus thing that160 he shulde not; and so is wil not maked yvel but unrightful, by absence of rightfulnesse, whiche thing by ever shulde he have. And of arbitrement may he not wilne, whan he it not haveth; for while he it had, thilke it not to kepe; so that without grace may it not ben recovered. Wil of commoditè,165 in-as-moche as unrightful it is maked by willinge of yvellustes, willing of goodnesse may he not wilne; for wil of instrument of of wil is thralled, sithen that other thing may it not wilne; for wil of instrument to desyreth, and yet ben bothe they170 ‘wil’ cleped. For that instrument wol, through it wilneth; and affeccion desyreth thilke thing wherto instrument him ledeth. And so to unlusty ful servaunt is maked, for unrightfulnesse he not releve; and without rightfulnesse ful may it never have. For kyndly of arbitrement175 without it, veyne and ydel is, forsothe. Wherfore yet I say, (as often have I sayd the same), whan instrument of wil hath rightfulnesse, in no maner but by grace may he ayen retourne rightfulnesse to wilne. For sithen nothing but rightfulnesse alone shulde he wilne, what that ever he wilneth without rightfulnesse,180 unrightfully he it wilneth. These than unrightful appetytes and unthrifty lustes whiche the † desyreth, in as mokel as they ben in kynde, ben they nat bad; but they ben unrightful and badde for they ben in resonable creature, where-as they being, in no waye shulde ben suffred. In beestes neyther ben they yvel185 ne unrightful; for there is their kynde being.
KNOWEN may it wel ben of these thinges declared, that man hath not alway thilke rightfulnesse which by dutè of right evermore haven he shulde, and by no way by him-selfe may he it ne kepe; and after he it hath, if he it5 lese, recover shal he it never without especial grace. Wherfore the comune sentence of the people in opinion, that every thing after is ruled, false and wicked is to beleve. For predestinacion be as wel of good as of badde, sithen that it is made, whiche he never ne wrought; but,10 for he suffreth hem to be maked, as that he hardeth, whan he naught , or † in-to temptacion, whan he not delivereth: wherfore it is if in that maner be sayd, god have destenyed bothe badde and her badde werkes, whan hem ne their yvel dedes [ ] neyther amendeth ne therto hem15 grace † . But specialliche, predestinacion of goodnesse alone is by these clerkes; for in him god that they ben, and that in goodnesse they werchen. But the herof in badnesse is holden, as the Lady of Love hath me lerned, who-so aright in this booke loketh. And utterly it is to weten, that predestinacion properly in god may not ben demed, no more20 than . For in the of goddes , as Love me rehersed, al these maters ben founden. Al thinges to god ben and in presence duringe. Trewly, presence and predestinacion in disacorden; wherfore, as I was lerned goddes before-weting and free25 choice of wil mowe stonden † , me thinketh the same me , that destenye and accorden, so that neyther of hem bothe to other in nothing contrarieth. And may it not ben , as often as any thing falleth [ ] werching (as if a man another man wrongfully anoyeth, wherfore30 he him sleeth), that it be constrayned to that ende, as mokel cryeth and sayth: ‘Lo, as it was destenyed of god , so it is necessitè falle, and otherwyse might it not betyde.’ Trewly, neyther he that the wrought, ne he that him-selfe venged, none of thilke thinges necessitè wrought;35 for if that [ ] with free wil there had it not willed, neyther had [ ] wrought that he perfourmed; and so utterly grace, that free wil in goodnesse bringeth and kepeth, and fro badnesse it tourneth, in al thinge moste deserveth. This grace maketh sentence in vertue to abyde, wherfore in body and in soule, in ful40 of conninge, after their good deserving in the everlastinge , after the day of dome shul they endelesse ; and they shul ben lerned in that with so mokel of love and of grace, that the leste joye shal of the in glorie rejoice and ben gladded, as if he the same joye had. What wonder,45 sith god is the love and the wisdom? In hem shal he be, and they in god. Now than, whan al false be ashamed, which wenen al bestialtè and erthly thing be and better to the body than hevenly is to the soule; this is the grace and the frute that I long have desyred; it me good the50 savour to .
, now to I crye of mercy and of grace; and graunt, of thy goodnes, to every maner reder ful understanding in this leude pamflet to have; and let no man wene other cause in55 this werke than is verily the soth. For envy is ever redy, al innocentes to shende; wherfore I wolde that good speche envy evermore hinder.
But no man wene this werke be sufficiently maked; for goddes werke passeth ; no wit to parfit werke may by no60 way purvay th’ende. How shuld I than, so leude, aught wene of perfeccion any ende to ? Never-the-later, grace, glorie, and laude I yelde and with worshipful reverences to the sothfast god, in with unitè closed, whiche that the hevy langour of my sicknesse hath turned in-to mirthe of helth to recover. For65 right as I was sorowed thorow the gloton cloud of manifolde sickly sorow, so mirth [ ] ayencoming helth hath me glad[d]ed and gretly comforted. I beseche and pray therfore, and I crye on goddes gret pitè and on his mokel mercy, that present scorges of my flessh mow maken and of70 my inner helth; so that my passed trespas and tenes through weping of myn eyen ben wasshe, and I, voyded from al maner disese, and no more to wepe herafter, be kept goddes grace; so that goddes , whiche that merciably me hath scorged, herafter in good plite from thence merciably me75 kepe and defende.
In this boke be many privy thinges wimpled and folde; unneth shul leude men the plites unwinde. Wherfore I pray to the holy gost, he lene of his oyntmentes, mennes wittes to clere; and, for goddes love, no man wonder why or how this question come to80 my mynde. For my lusty was of this lady to ben enfourmed, my leudenesse to amende. Certes, I knowe not other mennes wittes, what I shulde aske, or in answere what I shulde saye; I am so leude my-selfe, that mokel more lerninge yet me behoveth. I have therfore as I coude, but not85 sufficiently as I wolde, and as mater yave me sentence; for my dul is hindred by † of foryeting and with cloude of unconning, that stoppeth the light of my Margarite-perle, wherfore it may not shyne on me as it shulde. I desyre not a good reder, but also I coveite and pray a good , in of wordes and of sentence; and this90 mede I coveite for my travayle, that every inseër and herer of this leude fantasye devoute and prayers to god the juge yelden; and prayen for me in that wyse, that in his dome my sinnes mowe ben and foryeven. He that prayeth for other for him-selfe travayleth.95
Also I praye, that every man parfitly mowe knowe what intencion of herte this have I drawe. was it, that sightful manna in deserte to children of Israel was spirituel ? Bodily also it was, for mennes bodies it † ; and yet, never-the-later, it signifyed. Right so a jewel100 betokeneth a gemme, and that is a vertuous or els a perle. Margarite, a woman, betokeneth grace, lerning, or wisdom of god, or els holy church. If breed, vertue, is holy flesshe, what is that our god ? ‘It is the that yeveth ; the flesshe, of nothing it profiteth.’ Flesshe is flesshly105 understandinge; flessh without grace and love naught is worth. ‘The letter sleeth; the spirit yeveth lyfelich understanding.’ Charitè is love; and love is charitè.
Here beginneth the Plowmans Prologue.
From Thynne (ed. 1542). I give rejected spellings.
Thus endeth the prologue, and here foloweth the first part of the tale.
Colophon: fyrst parte.
Here endeth the first part of this tale, and herafter foloweth the seconde part.
Thus endeth the seconde part of this tale, and herafter foloweth the thirde.
From C. (=printed copy in Caius Coll. library, Cambridge); I give here rejected spellings; readings marked Sp. are from Speght.
I, , make my mone to very god and to all true belevinge in Christ, that Antichrist and his disciples, by colour of holines, and Christes church by many fals figures, wherethrough, by Antichrist and his, many vertues transposed to vices.5
But the that ever Antichrist last brought into the church, and in a wonder wyse; for they of divers sectes of Antichrist, of divers countrees and . And all men knowen wel, that they ben to bishoppes, ne lege men to kinges; neither they tillen ne sowen, , ne repen woode, corn, ne that man shuld helpe but , hir lyves to sustein. And these men all maner power of god, as they sayen, in heaven and in earth, to sell heaven and hell to whom that lyketh; and these wete never 15 .
And therfore, frere, if thine order and rules ben grounded on goddes law, tell thou me, Jack Upland, that I aske of ; and if thou be or thinkest to be on Christes syde, kepe thy pacience.
Saynt Paul , that al our dedes shuld be in charitè,20 and els it is worth, but to god and to oure owne soules. And for freres chalengen to be clerkes of the church, and next folowinge Christ in livinge, men shulde, for charitè, axe hem some questions, and 25 pray hem to grounde their answers in and in holy ; for els their answere wolde be worth, be it florished never so faire; and, as me think, men might axe thus of a frere.
1. Frere, how many orders be in , and which is the perfitest order? Of what order art thou? Who made 30 order? What is thy rule? Is there ony perfiter rule than Christ himselfe made? If Christes rule be moost , why rulest thou not therafter? Without more, why shall a frere be more punished if he the rule that his patron made, than if he the hestes that god himself made?
35 2. Approveth Christ ony more religions than , that saynt James . If he approveth no , why hast thou his rule, and taken another? Why is a frere , that his order and taketh another secte; sith there is but religion of ?
40 3. Why be ye wedded faster to your than a man is to his wyfe? For a man may his for a or two, as many men do; and if † your a quarter of a , ye shuld be holden apostatas.
4. Maketh youre you men of religion, or no? If it45 do, than, ever as it , your religion ; and, after that is better, is you[r] religion better. And whan ye liggen it besyde you, than lig ye youre religion besyde you, and ben . Why ye you so precious clothes, sith no man seketh such but for vaine glorie, as saynt Gregory saith?
505. What betokeneth youre , your scaplerye, youre knotted girdel, and youre wyde ?
6. Why use ye al , more then other Christen men do? What betokeneth that ye clothed all in one maner clothinge?
557. If ye saye it betokeneth love and charitè, certes, than ye be ofte ypocrites, whan ony of you hateth other, and in that, that ye wollen be holy by youre .
8. Why not a frere of an-other secte of freres, sith holines stondeth not in the clothes?
9. Why holde ye silence in one howse more than ;60 sith men ought over-al to the good and the evell?
10. Why you flesh in one house more than in another, if youre rule and youre order be perfit, and the patron that made it?
11. Why gette ye your dispensacions, to have it more ?65 Certes, it semeth that ye be ; or he, that made it so that ye may not holde it. And , if ye holde not the rule of youre patrons, ye be not than freres; and so ye lye upon !
12. Why make as men whan ye be professed;70 and yet ye be not , but more quicke than were before? And it semeth evell a man to go aboute and begge.
13. Why will ye not suffer youre novices your councels in youre chapter-house, that they professed; if youre councels75 been trew, and after god[d]es lawe?
14. Why make ye you so costly houses to dwell in; sith Christ did not so, and men shuld have but graves, as men? And yet ye have more than many lordes of Englonde. For ye wenden through the80 realme, and ech night, , ligge in youre owne courtes; and so mow but right few lordes do.
15. Why ye to ferme youre limitors, therfore eche a rente; and will not suffer in an-others limitacion, right as ye were your-selves lordes of contreys?85
16. Why be ye not under youre bisshops visitacions, and liege men to oure kinge?
17. Why axe ye no letters of bretherhedes of other mens prayers, as ye desyre that other men shulde aske letters of you?
18. If youre letters be good, why graunte ye them not generally90 to al maner , for the more charitè?
19. Mow ye make ony man more for your prayers, than god hath by oure beleve, by our and his owne graunte? If ye mowe, certes, than ye be above god.
9520. Why make ye men beleve that your golden trentall songe of you, to take therfore ten shillinges, or at fyve shillinges, will bringe soules out of helle, or of purgatorye? If this be , certes, ye might bring all soules out of payne. And that wolle ye nought; and than ye be out of charitè.
10021. Why make ye men beleve, that he that is buried in youre shall never come in hell; and ye wite not of youre-selfe, whether ye shall to hell, or no? And if this were sooth, ye shulde selle youre high houses, to make many , for to save many mens soules.
10522. Why ye mens children for to make hem of youre secte; sith that theft is agaynst goddes heste; and sithe youre secte is not perfit? Ye know not the rule that ye binde him to, be best for him or worst!
23. Why ye not your brethren, for their trespas110 after the lawe of the gospell; sith that underneminge is the best that be? But ye put them in ofte, whan they do after goddes lawe; and, by saynt rule, if ony amisse and wolde not amende him, ye should put him from you.
24. Why covete ye shrifte, and of other mens parishens,115 and other sacrament that falleth to Christen folke?
25. Why busie ye not to shrifte of poore folke, as well as of riche lordes and ladyes; sith they mowe have more of shrifte-fathers than poore ?
26. Why saye ye not the gospel in houses of bedred men; as120 ye do in riche mens, that mowe go to churche and the gospell?
27. Why covette † not to burye poore ; sith that they ben moost holy, as ye that ye ben for youre ?
12528. Why will ye not be at diriges, as ye at riche mens; sith god prayseth hem more than he doth men?
29. What is thy prayer worth; sith thou wilt take therefore? For all chapmen ye nede to be moost wyse; for drede of symonye.
13030. What cause hast thou that thou not the gospell, as god sayeth that thou shuldest; sith it is the best lore, and also oure beleve?
31. Why be ye evell that secular prestes shulde the ; sith god him-selfe hath ?
32. Why hate ye the gospell to be ; sith ye be so135 moche holde thereto? For ye winne more by with In principio, than with all the rules that ever youre patrons made. And, in this, minstrels been better than ye. For they contraryen not to the that they maken; but ye contraryen the gospell bothe in worde and dede.140
33. Frere, whan thou receivest a peny for to say a masse, whether sellest thou goddes body for that peny, or prayer, or els thy travail? If thou sayest thou wolt not travaile for to saye the masse but for the peny, † , if this be soth, than thou lovest to littel mede for thy soule. And if thou sellest145 goddes body, other thy prayer, than it is very symony; and art become a chapman worse than Judas, that solde it for thirty pens.
34. Why wrytest thou names in thy tables, that yeveth moneye; sith god knoweth all ? For it semeth, by thy150 wryting, that god wolde not rewarde him but thou in thy tables; god wolde els it.
35. Why thou god in honde, and sclaundrest him that he begged for his ; sith he was lord over all? For than hadde he ben unwyse to have begged, and no nede therto.155
36. Frere, after what law rulest thou ? Wher findest thou in goddes law that thou shuldest thus begge?
37. What maner men nedeth for to begge?
whom oweth suche men to begge?
Why beggest thou so for thy brethren?160
If thou sayest, for they have nede; than thou doest it for the more , or els for the , or els for the . If it be the moost of all, than shulde al thy brethren do so; and than no man neded to begge but for him-selfe, for so shuld no man begge but him neded. And if it be the perfeccion, why165 lovest thou than other men more than thy-selfe? For so thou not well in thou shuldest seke the more perfeccion after thy power, livinge thy-selfe moost after god; and thus, that imperfeccion, thou shuldest not so begge for . And if170 it is a good mene thus to begge as thou , than shuld no man do so but they ben in this good mene; and yet such a mene, graunted to you, may never be grounded in goddes lawe; for than both that ben in mene degrè of this worlde shuld go aboute and begge as ye do. And if all shuld do175 so, certes, wel nigh al the world shuld go aboute and begge as ye do: and so shulde there be ten beggers agaynst yever.
38. Why procurest thou men to yeve almes, and sayest it is so ; and thou wilt not thy-selfe winne thee that mede?
18039. Why wilt thou not begge for poore bedred men, that ben poorer than ony of youre secte, that liggen, and mow not go aboute to helpe ; sith we be all brethren in god, and that bretherhed passeth ony other that ye or ony man make? And where moost nede were, there were moost perfeccion;185 either els ye holde not youre pure brethren, or worse. than ye be imperfite in your begginge.
40. Why make ye you so many maisters you; sith it is agaynst the of Christ and his apostels?
41. ben all your courtes that ye han, and all your190 riche ; sith ye sayen that ye han nought, in ? If ye they ben the popes, why † ye then, of poore men and lordes, so much out the kinges honde to make your pope riche? And sith ye sayen that it is perfeccion to have nought, , why be ye so fast aboute to195 make the pope (that is your † , and putte on him imperfeccion? Sithen ye sayn that your goodes ben all his, and he shulde by be the moost man, it semeth openlich that ye ben cursed children, so to sclaunder your † , and make him . And if ye sayn that goodes be yours, then do200 ye ayenst youre rule; and if it be not ayenst your rule, than might ye have both plough and , and labour as other good men , and not so begge to by , and ydell, as ye . And if ye say that it is more perfeccion to begge than to travaill or worch with youre hand, why ye not openly, and all men to do so, sith it is the best and moost to helpe of her205 soules, as ye make children to begge that might have riche heyres?
42. Why make ye not your to poore men, and yeveth hem yeftes, as ye to the ; sith poore men han more nede than the riche?210
43. What betokeneth that ye go tweyne and tweyne † ? If ye be out of , ye accorden not in soule.
44. Why begge ye, and take salaries therto, more than other prestes; sith that moost taketh, most charge he hath?
45. Why holde ye not saynt Fraunces rule and his testament;215 sith Fraunces saith, that god shewed him this living and this rule? And certes, if it were goddes will, the pope might not fordo it; or els Fraunces was a lyar, that sayde on this wyse. And but this testament that he made accorde with goddes will, els erred he a lyar that were out of ; and as the law220 sayeth, he is that letteth the rightfull will of a man . And this testament is the will of Fraunces that is a man; it seemeth that all his freres ben cursed.
46. Why wil ye not touche no coined money with the crosse,225 ne with the kinges , as ye other jewels both of golde and silver? Certes, if ye despyse the crosse or the kinges , than ye be worthy to be despysed of god and the kinge. And sith ye will money in your and not with youre handes, it seemeth that ye holde more holinesse in your hondes than in your230 ; and than be false to god.
47. Why have ye you fro our kinges lawes and visitinge of our bishoppes more than other Christen men that liven in this realme, if ye be not of to our realme, or to bishoppes? But ye will have the kinges lawes for trespas235 to you; and ye wil have power of other bishops more than other prestes; and also have leave to prison youre brethren as lordes in youre courtes, more than other folkes han that ben the kinges lege men.
24048. Why shal some secte of you freres paye certaine to generall provinciall or minister, or els to soverains, but-if he a number of children, as some men ? And certes, if this be soth, than be ye constrayned, upon certaine payne, to do thefte, agaynst goddes commaundement, non245furtum facies.
49. Why be ye so hardy, to graunte, by letters of fraternitè, to men and women, that they shall have part and of all your good dedes; and ye witen never god be with youre dedes because of youre sinne? Also ye never whether250 that man or woman be in state to be saved or damned; than shall he have no in for his owne dedes, ne for none other . And all were it so, that he shuld have part of youre good dedes; yet shulde have no more than god would geve him, after that he were worthy; and so much shall eche man have of255 goddes yefte, withoute youre limitacion. But if ye will saye that ye ben goddes , and that he not do without youre assent, than be ye blasphemers to god.
50. What that ye have ordeined, that when such as ye have youre brother or sister, and hath a letter of260 your , that letter † be brought in youre holy chapter and there be ; or els ye will not praye for him? ye willen praye for all other that weren not youre brethren or sistren, than were ye not in right charitè; for that ought to be , and namely in thinges.
26551. Frere, what charitè is this—to overcharge the people by begginge, under of or or masses singing? Sith holy biddeth not thus, but even the contrary; for al such goostly dedes shulde be , as god yeveth hem .
27052. Frere, what charitè is this—to begyle children or they commen to discrecion, and binde to youre orders, that been not grounded in goddes lawe, against frendes wil? Sithen by this foly ben many , both in will and dede, and many ben in hir will during all hir lyfe, that wolde gladly be discharged if they wist how; and so, many ben that275 shulden in other states have ben trewe men.
53. Frere, what charitè is this—to make so mony freres in every countrey, to the charge of the people? Sith and vicares alone, ye, secular prestes alone, ye, monkes and chanons alone, with bishops above , were y-nough to the280 church, to do prestes office. And to adde mo than y-nough is a errour, and charge to the people; and this is openly against goddes will, that ordeined all thinges to be in weight, nomber, and . And Christ himself was with twelve apostles and a few disciples, to and do prestes office to all285 the hole world; than was it better don than is now at this tyme by a thousand . And right so as foure fingers with a thumbe in a mannes hande, helpeth a man to worche, and double nomber of fingers in one hond shuld him more; and more nomber that there were, passing the of goddes ordinaunce,290 the more were a man letted to worke: right so, as it semeth, it is of these newe orders that ben added to the church, without grounde of holy and goddes ordinaunce.
54. Frere, what charitè is this—to lye to the people, and saye that ye folowe Christ in more than other men ?295 And yet, in curious and costly howsinge, and fyne and precious clothing, and delicious and lykinge fedinge, and in and jewels and riche ornamentes, freres passen lordes and other men; and soonest they shuld cause aboute, be it never so , though goddes lawe be put .300
55. Frere, what charitè is this—to † up the bokes of holy and hem in tresory, and so hem from secular prestes and curates; and by this cautel to the gospell to the people without mede; and also to defame good prestes of heresy, and lyen on hem openly,305 for to hem to shew goddes lawe, by the holy gospell, to the Christen people?
56. Frere, what charitè is this—to so much holines in your clothing, that ye clepe your , that many blinde310 foles desyren to dye therin more than in an-other? And also, that a frere that his (late founden of men), not be assoiled till he take it again, but is an apostata, as ye , and cursed of god and man both? The frere beleveth treuth and pacience, chastitè, mekenesse, and sobrietè; yet for the more315 of his lyfe he soone be assoiled of his prior; and if he bringe to his house much good by yere, be it never so falsly begged and pilled of the poore and nedy people in aboute, he shal be a noble frere! O lord, whether this be charitè!
320 57. Frere, what charitè is this—to upon a riche man, and to entyce him to be buried among you from his parish-church, and to suche riche men geve letters of fraternitè confirmed by youre generall , and therby to him in honde that he shall have of all your masses, matins, , fastinges,325 wakinges, and all other good dedes by your brethren of youre order (both whyles he liveth and after that he is ), and yet ye witen never whether youre dedes be acceptable to god, ne whether that man that hath that letter be able by good living to ony part of youre dedes? And yet a poore man, that ye330 wite wel or supposen in to have no good of, ye ne geve such letters, though he be a better man god than suche a riche man; nevertheles, this poore man doth not therof. For, as men supposen, suche letters and many other that freres to men, be full of false deceites of freres, out of 335 and god[d]es lawe and Christen mens faith.
58. Frere, what charitè is this—to be confessoures of lordes and , and to other mighty men, and not amend hem in living; but rather, as it semeth, to be the bolder to poore tenauntes and to live in lechery, and there to in your office of340 confessour, for winning of worldly goodes, and to be holden by of suche goostly offices? This seemeth rather pryde of freres than charitè of god.
59. Frere, what charitè is this—to sayn that who-so liveth after youre order, liveth , and next foloweth the state of aposteles in povertè and penaunce; and yet the 345 and of you wende, or sende, or procure to the court of Rome to be cardinales or bishoppes or the popes , and to be assoiled of the vowe of and obedience to your ministers; in the which, as ye sayn, standeth moost perfeccion and merite of youre orders? And thus ye faren350 as Pharisees, that sayen , and do another to the contrarye.
60. Why name ye more the patron of youre order in youre Confiteor, whan ye beginne masse, than other saintes, as apostels, or marters, that churche more glorious than , and clepe hem youre patrons and youre avowries?355
61. Frere, whet[h]er was saint Fraunces, in making of his rule that he thyne order in, a fole and lyar, or els wyse and trew? If ye that he was not a fole but wyse; ne a lyar, but trew; why ye the contrary by youre doing, whan by youre suggestion to the pope ye said that ye 360 not live to holde it without declaracion and dispensacion of the pope? And so, by youre dede, ye lete your patron a fole, that made a rule so that no man wel kepe [ ]; and eke youre dede proveth him a lyar, where he sayeth in his rule, that he and it of the holy gooste. For how might ye, for shame,365 praye the pope to undo that the holy goost , as ye prayed him to dispense with the hardnesse of your order?
62. Frere, which of the foure orders of freres is best, to a man that knoweth not which is the beste, but wolde enter into the beste and none other? If thou sayest that is the best, than370 sayest thou that of the other is as good as ; and in this eche frere in the other orders wolle say that thou lyest; for in the maner eche other frere woll say that his order is beste. And thus to eche of the foure orders ben the other contrary in this poynte; in the which if ony say sooth, that is 375 ; for there may but be the beste of foure. So foloweth it, that if ech of these orders answered to this question as thou doest, were false and but trew; and yet no man shulde wite who that were. And thus it semeth, that the moost part of380 freres ben or shulde be lyars in this poynt, and they shulde answere therto. If † say that an-other ordre of the freres is better than or as good; why toke ye not rather therto as to the better, whan thou mightest have chosen at the beginning? And eke, why shuldest thou be an , to thyn order385 and take to that that is better? And so, why goest thou not from thyn order into that?
63. Frere, is there ony perfiter rule of religion than Christ, goddes , gave in his gospell to his brethren, or than that religion that saynt James in his epistle maketh mencion of? If390 † saye ‘yes,’ than puttest thou on Christ, that is of god the † , unpower, or evil will. For eyther than he not make his rule so good as an-other did his, (and so be uncunning, that he might not make his rule so good as another man might, and so were he unmighty and not395 god); or he wolde not make his rule so as an-other did his (and so had he ben evill-willed, namely to himselfe!) For if he might, and , and wold[e] have a rule without , and did not, he was not goddes almighty. For if ony other rule be perfiter than Christes, than must Christes rule400 lacke of that perfeccion by as much as the other were more perfiter; and so defaute, and Christ had failed in makinge of his rule. But to ony defaute or failinge in god, is blasphemy. If thou saye Christes rule and that religion that saynt James maketh mencion of, is the perfitest; why holdest405 thou not thilke rule without more? And why clepest thou rather of saynt Frances or saynt Dominiks rule or religion or order, than of Christes rule or Christes order?
64. Frere, canst thou in Christes rule of the gospell, with the whiche he taught al men to be saved,410 if they kepte it to endinge? If thou saye it was to , than sayest thou that Christ lyed; for he saide of his rule: ‘My yoke is softe, and my burthen light.’ If thou saye Christes rule was to light, that may be assigned for no defaute, for the better may it be kept. If thou sayst that there is no defaute in Christes rule of the gospell, sith Christ him-selfe saith it is light and :415 what nede was it to patrons of freres to adde therto, and so to make an harder religion, to save freres, than was the religion Christes apostels and his disciples helden and weren saved by; but-if they wolden that her freres saten above the apostels in , for the harder religion that they kepen here? And so420 wolde they sitten in above himselfe for the moo and strait observaunces; than so shulde they be better than Christ himselfe, with misc[h]aunce!
If freres not or mow not excuse hem of these questions asked of hem, it semeth that they be horrible gilty against god and ; for which gyltes and defautes it were430 worthy that the order that they calle order were . And it is wonder that men susteyne hem or suffer in suche maner. For holy biddeth that thou do well to the meke, and geve not to the wicked, but forbid to geve hem they be thereby mightier through you. .435
¶ Prynted for Jhon Gough.
Cum Priuilegio Regali.
From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532.); corrected by T. (Trentham MS.) I give the rejected spellings of Th. (Thynne), except where they are corrected by the MS.
Explicit carmen de pacis commendacione, quod ad laudem et memoriam serenissimi principis domini Regis Henrici quarti, suus humilis orator Johannes Gower composuit.
From F (Fairfax); various readings from B (Bodley 638); T (Tanner 346); S (Arch. Selden B. 24); A (Ashburnham MS.); Tr. (Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 20). Also in Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532); D (Digby 181); Ff (Camb. Univ. Library, Ff. 1. 6); and in the Bannatyne MS.
Litera Cupidinis, dei Amoris, directa subditis suis Amatoribus.
Colophon. D.T. amatoribus; F.om.B.has—The lettre of Cupide, god of love, directed to his suggestys louers.
Cestes Balades ensuyantes feurent faites au tres noble Roy Henry le quint (que dieu pardoint!) et au tres honourable conpaignie du Jarter.
From P. (Phillipps 8151); also in Ed. (ed. 1542).
Here foloweth next a Moral Balade, to my lord the Prince, to my lord of Clarence, to my lord of Bedford, and to my lord of Gloucestre, by Henry Scogan; at a souper of feorthe merchande in the Vyntre in London, at the hous of Lowys Johan.
Title;from A. (which has folowethe nexst); Cx.has Here next foloweth a tretyse, whiche John Skogan sente vnto the lordes and gentilmen of the kynges hows, exortyng them to lose no tyme in theyr yougthe, but to vse vertues; Th.has Scogan vnto the lordes and gentylmen of the kynges house.
Colophon.Cx. Thus endeth the traytye wiche John Skogan sent to the lordes and estates of the kynges hous.
From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532); collated with F. (Fairfax 16); B. (Bodley 638, imperfect); T. (Tanner 346); D. (Digby 181); S. (Arch. Selden B. 24); I have also consulted Ad. (Addit. 16165); and P. (Pepys 2006).
From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532). Title: Th. The Floure of Curtesy; (ed. 1561 adds—made by Ihon Lidgate). I note here the rejected spellings.
Here endeth theFlourof .
Colophon: Floure; Curtesy.
(A devoute balade by Lidegate of Bury, made at the reverence of oure lady, Qwene of mercy.—A.)
From Th.; collated with A. (Ashmole 59); and Sl. (Sloane 1212).
From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532); I note rejected spellings.
From Th. (Thynne’s edition, 1532); collated with Ff. (MS. Ff. 1. 6, Camb. Univ. Library). Another copy in H. (Harl. 2251).
(Balade made by Lydgate.)
From Trin. (Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 19), printed in Ed. (ed. 1561); T. (Trin. Coll. O. 9. 38); H. (Harl. 2251).
A. From Stowe (ed. 1561).
B. From the same.
C. From the same.
From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532); collated with F. (Fairfax 16); and H. (Harl. 372). Also in Ff. (Camb. Univ. Lib. Ff. 1. 6). Bad spellings of Th. are corrected by the MSS. Title.Th.H. La . . mercy; F. Balade de la Bele Dame sanz mercy. H.adds—Translatid . . Ros.
From E. (Edinburgh edition, 1593); collated with Th. (Thyme, ed. 1532).
From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532); collated with F. (Fairfax 16); B. (Bodley 638); S. (Arch. Selden, B. 24); T. (Tanner 346); also in Ff. (Camb. Univ. Ff. 1. 6).
Title:Th. Of the C. and the N.; F.B. The boke of Cupide, god of loue.
From F. (Fairfax 16); collated with T. (Tanner 346); and Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532).
Th. Lenuoye; T. The Lenuoye; F.om.
From Speght’s edition (1598); I note rejected readings.
From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532); compared with A. (Áddit. 34360); and T. (Trin. R. 3. 19). Title.Th. The assemble of ladies; T. the Boke callyd Assemble de Damys.
Before 267: Th.T. Acquayntaunce herbyger.
Here endeth the Book of Assemble de Damys.
From Th. (Thynne’s ed. 1532). Title. A goodly balade of Chaucer. I note here rejected spellings.
[A stanza lost; lines 36–42.]
From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532); I give rejected spellings.
From MS. Trin. R. 3. 19, fol. 128; collated with the print of the same in (S.) Stowe’s edition (1561). I note some rejected readings of the MS.
[Some stanzas lost.]
From Trin. (Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 19); collated with S. (Stowe’s ed. 1561).
XXVI. From MS. Arch. Seld. B. 24, fol. 119; I give rejected spellings.
XXVII. From MS. Arch. Seld. B. 24, fol. 138; I give rejected spellings.
Leaulte vault .
XXVIII. From Caxton’s print of Chaucer’s Anelida, &c.; see vol. i. p. 46. Also in ed. 1542, in later spelling.
Et sic est finis.
XXIX. From MS. Trin. R. 3. 19, fol. 25; also in Stowe (ed. 1561).
The text is from Thynne’s first edition (1532); the later reprints are of inferior value. No MS. of this piece is known. Rejected spellings are given at the bottom of each page. Conjectural emendations are marked by a prefixed obelus (†). In many places, words or letters are supplied, within square brackets, to complete or improve the sense. For further discussion of this piece, see the Introduction.
The initials of the fourteen Chapters in this Book give the words: virtw have merci. Thynne has not preserved the right division, but makes fifteen chapters, giving the words: virtw have mctrci. I have set this right, by making Chap. XI begin with ‘Every.’ Thynne makes Chapter XI begin with ‘Certayn,’ p. 86, l. 133, and another Chapter begin with ‘Trewly,’ p. 89, l. 82. This cannot be right, because the latter word, ‘Trewly,’ belongs to the last clause of a sentence; and the Chapter thus beginning would have the unusually small number of 57 lines.
This chapter is really a Prologue to the Third Book.
Numerous references are given to Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, ed. Skeat (E.E.T.S.); a poem by the same author. See the Introduction.
To this piece, which is an attack upon the friars, a reply was made by one of them (probably a Dominican, see notes to ll. 100, 130), which is printed at length in Wright’s Political Poems and Songs (Record Series), vol. ii. pp. 39–114; together with a rejoinder by Jack Upland, printed on the same pages. The friar’s reply is often cited in the Notes below, where the number refers to the page of the above-named volume. See further in the Introduction.
This piece has no English title except that printed at p. 205; for the Latin title, see p. 216. See the Introduction.
This poem is imitated, rather than translated, from the French poem entitled L’Epistre au Dieu d’Amours, written by Christine de Pisan in May, 1399; printed in Œuvres Poétiques de Christine de Pisan, publiées par Maurice Roy, ii. 1–27; Société des Anciens Textes Français, 1891. Hoccleve even rearranges some of the material; and Dr. Furnivall has printed all the lines of the original of which the English poet has made use, in the Notes to his edition of Hoccleve’s Works, published for the Early English Text Society, in 1892. It thus appears that the lines of Christine’s poem are to be taken in the following order: 1–116, 537–54, 126–30, 531–4, 131–96, 721–5, 259–520, 321–5, 271–4, 387–460, 643–77, 608–23, 559–75, 759–800. The following stanzas, on the other hand, are wholly Hoccleve’s own: 71–7, 92–8, 127–33, 141–7, 162–8, 176–89, 267–73, 316–29, 379–434. The last set extends to 56 lines.
Cupid, god of Love, is supposed to write a letter to all lovers, who are his subjects, reproving men for their slander and ill-treatment of women, and defending women against all that is alleged against them. In fact, it is a reply, by Christine de Pisan, to the numerous severe things that Jean de Meun had said about women in the famous Roman de la Rose. He is expressly mentioned by name in l. 281.
I here quote, as a specimen, the first 7 lines of the original, answering to Hoccleve’s first stanza—
These two Balades, each of 32 lines, are written in a highly artificial metre; for, in each case, the four stanzas of which each consists shew the same rimes throughout. The riming syllables in Balade 1 are -esse, -our, and -alle; and in Balade 2, are -ame, -aunce, and -ee. A similar example of metrical arrangement occurs in Chaucer’s Balade to Rosemounde.
For remarks upon the heading of this poem, see the Introduction.
There are some excellent notes relative to this poem in Schick’s edition of Lydgate’s Temple of Glas (E. E. T. S.); I refer to them below as ‘Schick, T. G.’
I know of no MS. copy of this piece.
This piece is gently ironical throughout, as, for example, in ll. 15, 23, 31, 39, 47, &c.
This sequel to Chaucer’s ‘Troilus,’ written by Robert Henryson of Dunfermline, is in the Northern dialect of the Scottish Lowlands. Thynne has not made any special attempt to alter the wording of this piece, but he frequently modifies the spelling; printing so instead of sa (l. 3), whan for quhen (l. 3), right for richt (l. 4), and so on. I follow the Edinburgh edition of 1593. See further in the Introduction.
In this piece, the final -e is much used as forming a distinct syllable; indeed, more freely than in Chaucer.
I give numerous references below to ‘A. L.’, i. e. the Assembly of Ladies, printed at p. 380. The two poems have much in common.
For numerous references to this poem, see Notes to the preceding poem.
Though apparently written by the authoress of the Flower and the Leaf, it is of later date, and much less use is made of the final e. That the author was a woman, is asserted in ll. 7, 18, 259, 284, 370, 379–85, 407, 450, 625.
Obviously Lydgate’s. See the Introduction.
This poem really consists of twelve precepts, intended to redress twelve abuses. The twelve abuses are given by the Latin lines above, which should be compared throughout. The whole poem is thus easily understood.
The accent is on the first syllable of the line in most of the lines. In l. 3, the word Lord stands alone in the first foot. The lines are somewhat unsteady, quite in Lydgate’s usual manner. In l. 6, jug -e is probably dissyllabic. See further in the Introduction.
This late piece abounds with imitations of Lydgate, especially of his Temple of Glas; many of the resemblances are pointed out in Schick’s edition of that poem, which I refer to by the contraction ‘T. G.’
Not a true virelay, as the ending -ing does not reappear in the second stanza; for a correct example, see note to Anelida and Arcite, 256 (vol. i. p. 536). But it is of the nature of a virelay, inasmuch as the rime -ate, which concludes the first stanza, reappears in the second; and similarly, the ending -ure, which concludes the second stanza, reappears in the third; and so on, with the rime-endings -ain and -aunce. Compare the poem by Lord Rivers, in the same metre, alluded to in vol. i. p. 42.
From John Walton’s translation of Boethius, ad 1410. See the Introduction.
From the same MS. as the last.
This Balade, printed by Stowe, seems like a poor imitation of the style of Lydgate.
References to I. (The Testament of Love) are to the Book, Chapter, and Line; thus ‘I. ii. 1. 7’=Testament of Love, bk. ii. ch. 1. l. 7. References containing ‘pr.’ refer to the prologue to the same. In all other cases, the references are to the piece and to the line: thus ‘V. 50’=Letter of Cupid, l. 50.
A,v. have, I. i. 2. 173; ger. I. i. 5. 93.
A deblys, (perhaps) to the devil, as if devoted to the devil, I. ii. 13. 99. See the note.
A dewe, (perhaps for à dieu), I. ii. 13. 99. See the note.
A this halfe, on this side, below, I. i. 9. 39.
A. b. c.,s. alphabet, I. ii. 1. 113.
Abacke,adv. backward, III. 300; Abakke, VIII. 326.
Abbeys,s. pl. abbeys, XXIV. 1115.
Abeisen,v. (for Abasen), abase, put down, reprove, XXIV. 738.
Abit,pr. s. abides, IV. 284; XIII. 30.
Able,imp. s. enable, VII. 32; Abled, pp. l. ii. 9. 95; fitted, I. ii. 6. 4.
Abode, 2 pt. s. didst abide, I. ii. 4. 101; Abood, pt. s. remained, I. i. 5. 31.
Abouten,adv. all about, all round, I. ii. 8. 37.
Abregge,ger. to abridge, shorten, XIX. 18.
Abreyde,ger. to start up, awake, VIII. 15; Abraid, pt. s. started, went suddenly, XVII. 45; Abrayde, awoke, VIII. 154.
Abydinge,s. waiting, delay, I. i. 3. 38.
Abye,v. pay for (it), II. 1233; pay for, II. 1199.
Abyme,s. the abyss, X. 136.
A-cale,pp. as adj. frozen, afflicted with the cold, II. 71.
Accept,pp. accepted (as), I. ii. 13. 36; Accepte, as adj. pl. accepted, VIII. 427.
Acces,s. feverish attack, VIII. 229; XVIII. 39; Accesse, VIII. 136.
Accident,s. accidental quality, I. ii. 7. 144; accident, II. 1222.
Accompte, 1 pr. s. account, I. ii. 13. 91; pp. I. ii. 9. 48.
Accomptes,s pl. accounts, II. 778.
Accord,s. agreement, XVIII. 280.
Accordaunce,s. agreement, I. ii. 5. 27.
Accordaunt,adj. agreeing, XVIII. 83.
Accorde,ger. to agree, to rime, II. 477; pr. s. suits, VIII. 183; 2 pr. pl. agree, III. 212; pr. pl. I. ii. 5. 26; pres. pt. XX. 112. See Acorde.
Acertained,pp. made sure, informed, XX. 568.
Achates,s. pl. purchases, I. ii. 2. 48.
Acomered,pp. encumbered, I. iii. 5. 57; troubled, I. iii. 7. 41.
Acompt,v. reckon, I. ii. 10. 88.
Acordaunces,s. pl. agreements, I. ii. 8. 54.
Acorde,ger. to agree, I. ii. 8. 47; pr. s. I. ii. 2. 52; pr. pl. IX. 210. a. nothing, in no wise agree, I. ii. 2. 74.
Acorn,s. acorn. VIII. 73.
A-croke,adv. amiss, XXIV. 378.
A-dayes,adv. by day-time, XXII. 34.
Adherand,pres. pt. cleaving, I. i. 9. 103.
Admirall,s. prince, chief, II. 194.
Adnulled,pp. annulled, I. iii. 3. 49.
Adnullinge,s. annulling, I. i. 4 22.
Ado, to do, VIII. 161.
A-down,adv. down here, II. 1319.
A-drad,pp. afraid, I. ii. 7. 61; IV. 89; filled with tear, I. i. 2. 12, 182.
Adulacioun,s. flattery, XII. 61.
Adversair,s. adversary, XXIV. 1035.
Advertence,s. attention, XI. 61.
Adverteth,imp. pl. heed, note, XIII. 45.
A-ferd,pp. afraid, II. 433; Aferde, I. i. 2. 10.
A-fere, on fire, X. 129.
A-ferre,adv. afar, VIII. 610.
Affect,s. desire, I. iii. 9. 43.
Affectuously,adv. with desire, I. iii. 6. 64.
Affermed,pp. affirmed, IV. 13.
Affiched,pp. fixed, set, I. ii. 9. 28.
Affirmatif,s. the affirmative, I. iii. 8. 40.
Affray,s. conflict, trouble, XX. 374.
Affrayed,pp. frightened away, XVIII. 235; frightened, XXIV. 1000.
Affy,v. trust, XXVII. 3; Affye, pr. pl. X. 63.
Aforn,adv. previously, VIII. 451; X. 107.
Afray,ger. to frighten, II. 859.
After,adv. afterwards, XVI. 380; After as, according as, I. i. pr. 44.
After,prep. for, I. ii. 3. 35; i. e. to get, I. ii. 14. 94; After oon, i. e. always alike, XVI. 161.
After-game,s. second game, return-match, XVI. 523.
After-reward,s. following reward, I. iii. 2. 123.
Agadred,pp. gathered together, II. 1335.
Agasteth,pr. s. frightens greatly. I. ii. 7. 77.
Agilted,pt. s. sinned against, II. 1308.
Agnelet,s. little lamb, X. 123.
Agnus-castus (see the note, p. 531), XX. 160.
Agoon,pp. gone away, VIII. 24; Ago, XVII. 238.
Agramed,pp. angered, II. 343.
Agryse,v. feel terror, II. 360, 841, 1216; XVIII. 15; pr. pl. subj. let them fear, II. 961.
Ague,s. feverish attack, IX. 37.
Air,adv. early, XVII. 82.
Akele,v. cool, XXIV. 1076.
Aken.pr. pl. ache, IV. 260; Ake, VIII. 524.
A-knowe,pp. perceived, recognised, XXIV. 1199.
Al,conj. although, I. i. 7. 61.
Alay,s. alloy, I. ii. 4. 131; Alayes, pl. VII. 136.
Alaye,v. allay, VIII. 109.
Alday,adv. continually, I. i. 2. 162; IV. 270.
Alder-last,adv. last of all, VIII. 561.
Aldernext,adj. next of all, XV. a. 3.
Ale,s. ale, II. 432.
Alegeaunce,s. alleviation, XVI. 54.
Aleged,pp. alleged, adduced, I. ii. 9. 143.
Alegement,s. alleviation, XII. 32.
Alegge,v. alleviate (me), XVIII. 26.
Algate,adv. in any case, IV. 249; VIII. 519; always, IV. 271.
Algates,adv. in all ways, I. iii. 6. 14; at any rate, I. ii. 5. 71.
A-lighte,v. be glad, be cheerful, I. i. 3. 71.
Allegeaunce,s. alleviation, relief, XVI. 725; XXIV. 886; XXV. 17.
All-holyest,adj. holiest of all, II. 201.
Almesse,s. alms, II. 301; XXIII. 7; Almous, (his) pittance, XVII. 392.
Almoigner,s. almoner, I. i. pr. 108.
Aloes,s. aloes, I. i. 1. 100.
Al-only,adv. only, I. iii. 3. 44.
A-loughter, a-laughing, XXIV. 1426.
Al-out,adv. altogether outside, XVI. 575.
Alowe,pr. s. subj. may (He) approve, II. 1379; Alowed, pp. approved of, I. i. 8. 7.
Als,adv. as, XVII. 161, 571; Al-so, as, XII. 85.
Alterait,pp. altered, XVII. 227.
Alther-grettest,adj. greatest of all, very great, XVI. 298.
Alther-last,adv. last of all, VIII. 503.
A-maistry,v. conquer, I. ii. 11. 63; rule, I. i. 2. 105; Amaistrien, v. subdue, I. ii. 11. 32; pr. s. masters, overpowers, I. ii. 9. 60; compels, I. iii. 6. 157; pp. conquered, got by mastery, I. ii. 11. 59; overcome, I. i. 4. 28.
Amat,pp. cast down, VIII. 168.
Amayed,pp. dismayed, XVIII. 232.
Ambes as, double aces, XIII. 78. See note, p. 515.
Amendes,s. pl. amends, retribution, II. 1090.
Amerced,pp. fined, II. 1023.
Amisse-going,s. trespass, I. ii. 14. 94.
Amonesteth,pr. s. admonishes, I. i. 6. 109.
Among,adv. meanwhile, VIII. 154; X. 86; XXI. 300.
And,conj. if, I. i. 8. 13.
Ane, a, XVII. 1.
Aneuch,adj. enough, XVII. 110, 350.
Anguis,adj. distressful, I. ii. 8. 120; I. ii. 10. 94. See N. E. D.
A-night, by night, XIX. 23.
Anis,adv. once, XVII. 127.
Ankers,s. pl. anchors, I. ii. 10. 117.
Anon-right,adv. immediately, XX. 397, 402.
Anoy,s. vexation, I. ii. 1. 34; Annoy, discomfort, XX. 389.
Anoynt,pp. anointed, IV. 274.
Antecedent,s. antecedent statement, premiss, I. ii. 5. 12.
Anulled,pp. annulled, I. iii. 2. 81.
A-pace,adv. quickly, VIII. 120.
Apal,v. be appalled, faint, XXII. 15.
Apart,adv. apart, XXIV. 1400.
Apayed,pp. pleased, satisfied, III. 133, 248; Apayd, XXI. 208; wel a., well pleased, XVIII. 231; evel a., ill pleased, XVIII. 92.
Apayred,pp. depreciated, I. ii. 1. 66.
Apeche,pr. pl. impeach, XIII. 88; Apeched, pp. I. i. 9. 138.
Apend,v. belong, II. 666.
A-per-se, A by itself, the chief letter, prime thing, XVII. 78.
Apert,adj. open; prevy nor apert, secret nor open, in no respect, XVI. 174.
Apertly,adv. openly, I. iii. 8. 108; without concealment, I. i. 8. 29; Apertely, I. iii. 2. 28.
Apeted,pp. sought after, I. ii. 13. 53. See the note, p. 476.
Apeyre,v. suffer evil, be harmed, XVIII. 170; Apeyred, pp. injured, I. iii. 5. 24; defamed, I. i. 6. 11.
Apeyse,v. appease, XVI. 391.
A-place, into its right place, IV. 50.
Apostata,s. apostate, III. 37, 312; Apostatas, pl. III. 43.
Appair,v. blame, harm, XXIV. 416.
Appalle,pr. s. subj. fade, VI. 8.
Apparaile,s. ornamentation, XXIV. 114.
Apparaylen,pr. pl. attempt, I. i. 6. 171.
Appeired,pp. impaired, XX. 553; harmed (i. e. much harm is done), I. ii. 6. 161.
Apperceyved,pp. perceived, I. i. 2. 34.
Appertly,adv. openly, evidently, I. ii. 9. 178.
Appropred,pp. appropriated, reserved, I. ii. 6. 63; assigned, VI. 34.
Aptes,s. pl. natural tendencies, I. iii. 6. 60. (Unique.)
Aquytest,pr. s. payest, I. iii. 7. 152.
Ar,pr. pl. are; It ar, they are, XVI. 531.
Arayse,ger. to raise, I. ii. 14. 45.
Arbitrement,s. choice, I. iii. 2. 128; I. iii. 3. 76.
Areir,adv. behindhand, XVII. 423.
Arered,pp. set up, I. i. 5. 124.
Arest,s. spear-rest, XX. 282. ‘With spere in thyn arest alway’; Rom. Rose, 7561.
Arest,s. stopping, arresting, I. ii. 6. 83; arrest, I. ii. 10. 98.
Areysed,pp. raised up, I. ii. 5. 113; raised, V. 144.
Ark,s. arc, course, VIII. 590.
Arke,s. ark, X. 134.
Armony,s. harmony, I. ii. 9. 9; I. ii. 13. 75; XXIV. 1403.
Armure,s. armour, XIII. 101.
Arn,pr. pl. are, VI. 43; IX. 153.
Arras,s. cloth of Arras, XXIV. 115.
Arsmetrike,s. arithmetic, I. iii. 1. 68.
Arted,pl. s. provoked, XXIV. 46.
Artyk,adj. northern, XVII. 20.
As,with imp., pray, V. 30; As than, at that time, just then, XVII. 27.
As,s. pl. aces, XIII. 78.
Ash,s. ash-tree, VIII. 73.
Askaunce,adv. askance, aside, XVI. 604.
Asker,s. one who asks, I. ii. 3. 30.
Askes,s. pl. ashes (i. e. penance), II. 943.
Asketh,pr. s. requires, I. i. pr. 124; I. ii. 5. 28.
Aslaken,v. assuage, XXIV. 710.
Asotted,pp. besotted, XVI. 682.
Assay,s. trial, I. i. 5. 53; V. 147; attempt, XVI. 572; Assayes, pl. trials, I. ii. 3. 72.
Assembled,pt. s. brought (them) together, XVI. 691.
Assentaunt,pres. pt. assenting, I. i. 6. 53, 87; I. iii. 6. 150.
Asshen,s. pl. ashes, I. iii. 7. 38.
Assomoned,pp. summoned, XXIV. 170.
Assoyle,ger. to explain, I. iii. 4. 18; Asoile, v. answer, XXIV. 1283; pp. explained, I. iii. 4. 255; absolved, III. 312.
Assyse,s. way, fashion, II. 843; size, XXIV. 1313; of a., of a like size, suitable to each other, XXI. 531.
Assysed,pp. fixed, set; or perhaps, assessed, rated, IV. 332; regulated, IV. 236.
Astarte,pt. s. escaped, II. 1350.
Astate,s. estate, rank, XXIV. 47.
Asterte,v. escape, I. i. 7. 87; V. 38; VIII. 490; start aside, give way, I. ii. 1. 70; pr. s. subj. escape, IX. 234; pt. s. escaped, XXIV. 148.
Astonied,pp. astonished, I. i. 2. 17; XX. 102.
Astrangled,pp. strangled, I. iii. 7. 128.
Astray,adv. astray, II. 673; XX. 285.
Astronomye,s astronomy, I. iii. 1. 69.
Asured,pp. rendered blue, blue, I. ii. 13. 78.
At,prep. from, XVII. 258.
Ataste,v. taste, I. i. 1. 101; I. iii. 7. 7; Atasted, pp. I. iii. 5. 91.
A-throted,pp. throttled, strangled, I. ii. 5. 71. (Unique.)
Atour,prep. beyond, XVII. 162.
Attame,v. subdue (lit. tame), XVI. 707. See Atame in N. E. D.
Attemperaunce,s. Moderation, XXI. 507.
Attempre,adj. temperate, VIII. 57.
Attourney,s. attorney, I. i. 8. 111; VIII. 281.
Attyred,pp. attired, II. 192.
Auctoritè,s. authority, I. i. 4. 9; XVI. 137.
Auotour,s. author, I. iii. 4. 245.
Augrim,s. arithmetic, I. ii. 7. 83.
Auld,adj. old, XVII. 32.
Auncestrye,s. ancestry, IV. 12; Auncetrye, XXIV. 1242.
Aureat,adj. golden, X. 13; XXIV. 817.
Aurore,s. dawn, XIX. 22.
Auter,s. altar, I. ii. 2. 57.
Authorysed,pp. considered as authoritative, IV, 330; Authoreist, pp. authorised, XVII. 66.
Authour,s. author, I. iii. 1. 169.
Autumpne,s. autumn, VIII. 63.
Availe,s. value; esier a., less value, or, easier to obtain, XXIV. 116.
Avantours,s. pl. boasters, XVI. 814. See note, p. 520.
Avaunce,s. advancement, II. 215.
Avaunce,v. promote, VIII. 354; X. 7; succeed, XIII. 75; imp. s. refl. advance, come forward, approach, XVI. 801; pt. pl. refl. advanced, came forward, XVI. 157; pp. promoted. I. i. 7. 69.
Avauncement,s. promotion, I. iii. 8, 145.
Avaunt,s. boast, V. 64; XVI. 732.
Avaunte, 1 pr. s. boast, I. i. 6. 186; pr. pl. boast, I. ii. 2. 124.
Avauntour,s. boaster, XVI. 735, 739; Avaunter, Boaster, XXIV. 1219.
Avayl,s. prevalence, XXI. 649.
Avayl,v. be of use, II. 1080; pp. made valid, IV. 191; pres. pt. useful, I. i. 7. 96.
Aventure,s. fortune, XVI. 499; luck, XVI. 856.
Aver,s. wealth, I. i. 10. 19. A. F. aveir, F. avoir.
Avisee,adj. prudent, IX. 215; XII. 4.
Avoide,ger. to depart, I. i. 1. 131.
Avow,s. vow, II. 29; XVIII. 229; Avowe, IX. 93.
Avowe,v. vow, IV. 243; XVIII. 229; own, acknowledge (it), II. 1374.
Avowing,s. vowing, I. i. 3. 64.
Avowries,s. pl. protectors, III. 355.
Avyse,s. advice, XVI. 225; XXI. 189; consideration, VIII. 464.
Avysement,s. consideration, VIII. 278; XVIII. 272.
Avysenesse,s. Advisedness, XXI. 343.
Avysinge,pres. pt. considering, I. i. 4. 5.
Awayt,s. lying in wait, watching an opportunity, XVI. 341; attendance, VIII. 408; ambush, snare, XVI. 778.
Awayte,v. wait, XVI. 474; ger. to wait for, try, XVI. 555.
Awayward,adv. away, I. i. 1. 115; aside, XVI. 89.
A-werke, at work, I. ii. 3. 124; I. iii. 6. 67.
A-whaped,pp. amazed, VIII. 168.
Awin,adj. own, XVII. 275.
Awreke,pp. avenged, XVIII. 215.
Awter,s. alter, XXIV. 325.
Axe,v. ask, III. 24.
Axing,s. asking, request, V. 122.
Ay,s. egg, II. 862.
Ayein,adv. back again, XVI. 504.
Ayen-bringe,v. bring back, I. i. 2. 77.
Ayencoming,pres. pt. returning, I. iii. 9. 66.
Ayenësprep. in return for, II. 1297; Ayens, ready for, VIII. 63.
Ayen-looking,pres. pt. looking back, I. i. 8. 17.
Ayenst,prep. against, II. 826.
Ayenturning,s. power of turning again, I. ii. 7. 136.
Ayenward,adv. back again, I. ii. 6. 15; in return, I. i. 2. 102; on the contrary, on the other hand, I. iii. 4. 130; XVI. 18.
Ayre,s. air, XVI. 384.
Asure,s. azure, i. e. lapis lasuli, I. iii. 5. 124, 132.
Badde,adj. bad, evil, I. ii. 13. 11.
Badde-meninge,adj. ill-intentioned, I. ii. 1. 94; I. ii. 13. 16.
Baid,pt. s. abode, XVII. 490.
Baill,s. bale, sorrow, XVII. 110; harm, XVII. 413.
Bair,s. boar, XVII. 193.
Bair,adj. bare, XVII. 180, 206.
Bait,s. food (for horses), XVII. 210.
Bait,v. feed, XXIV. 194 (see note, p. 543); Baited, pp. baited, II. 648.
Bakbyte,ger. to backbite, XII. 124.
Bakker-more,adv. further back, XVI. 85.
Bal,s. ball, IV. 296; eye-ball, I. i. 4. 2.
Balaunce,s. balance, IV. 263; the balance, XIII. 91; in b., in His sway, XVI. 851.
Balays,s. balas-ruby, XXI. 536; Baleis, XXIV. 80.
Bale,s. evil. I. ii. 9. 143.
Balefull,adj. evil, II. 120, 1234.
Balke,s. balk, check, difficulty, II. 488.
Ball,s. a horse’s name, II. 402.
Ballet,s. ballad, poem, XVII. 610.
Bandon,s. disposal, I. ii. 5. 107.
Banere,s. banner, XX. 211.
Bankes,s. pl. banks, I. ii. 14. 44. See note to l. 40, p. 478.