The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Tale of Melibeus.

Here biginneth Chaucers Tale of Melibee.

§ 1. A yong man called Melibeus, mighty and riche, bigat up-on his wyf that called was Prudence, a doghter which that called was Sophie. /

Heading. From E.

§ 2. Upon a day bifel, that he for his desport is went in-to the feeldes him to pleye. / His wyf and eek his doghter hath he left inwith his hous, of which the dores weren fast y-shette. / Thre of his olde foos han it espyed, and setten laddres to the walles of his hous, and by the windowes been entred, /2160 and betten his wyf, and wounded his doghter with fyve mortal woundes in fyve sondry places; / this is to seyn, in hir feet, in hir handes, in hir eres, in hir nose, and in hir mouth; and leften hir for deed, and wenten awey. /

2159. inwith] Ln. Cp. within.   2160. Thre] Cp. Ln. Foure.   E. hise.   E. foes; Hn. Cp. Ln. Hl. foos.   by the] E. Hn. om. the.   2162. E. erys.

§ 3. Whan Melibeus retourned was in-to his hous, and saugh al this meschief, he, lyk a mad man, rendinge his clothes, gan to wepe and crye. /

2163. E. Hn. Ln. rentynge; rest rendyng.

§ 4. Prudence his wyf, as ferforth as she dorste, bisoghte him of his weping for to stinte; / but nat for-thy he gan to crye and wepen ever lenger the more. /2165

§ 5. This noble wyf Prudence remembered hir upon the sentence of Ovide, in his book that cleped is The Remedie of Love, wher-as he seith; / ‘he is a fool that destourbeth the moder to wepen in the deeth of hir child, til she have wept hir fille, as for a certain tyme; / and thanne shal man doon his diligence with amiable wordes hir to reconforte, and preyen hir of hir weping for to stinte.’ / For which resoun this noble wyf Prudence suffred hir housbond for to wepe and crye as for a certein space; / and whan she saugh hir tyme, she seyde him in this wyse. ‘Allas, my lord,’ quod she,’ why make ye your-self for to be lyk a fool? /2170 For sothe, it aperteneth nat to a wys man, to maken swiche a sorwe. / Your doghter, with the grace of god, shal warisshe and escape. / And al were it so that she right now were deed, ye ne oghte nat as for hir deeth your-self to destroye. / Senek seith: “the wise man shal nat take to greet disconfort for the deeth of his children, / but certes he sholde suffren it in pacience, as wel as he abydeth the deeth of his owene propre persone."' /2175

2172. Cp. Ln. be warisshed; Hl. warischt be.   2173. Only E. Cp. Ln. insert to before destroye.

§ 6. This Melibeus answerde anon and seyde, ‘What man,’ quod he, ‘sholde of his weping stinte, that hath so greet a cause for to wepe? / Iesu Crist, our lord, him-self wepte for the deeth of Lazarus his freend.’ / Prudence answerde, ‘Certes, wel I woot, attempree weping is no-thing defended to him that sorweful is, amonges folk in sorwe, but it is rather graunted him to wepe. / The Apostle Paul un-to the Romayns wryteth, “man shal reioyse with hem that maken Ioye, and wepen with swich folk as wepen." / But thogh attempree weping be y-graunted, outrageous weping certes is defended. /2180 Mesure of weping sholde be considered, after the lore that techeth us Senek. / “Whan that thy freend is deed,” quod he, “lat nat thyne eyen to moyste been of teres, ne to muche drye; althogh the teres come to thyne eyen, lat hem nat falle.” / And whan thou hast for-goon thy freend, do diligence to gete another freend; and this is more wysdom than for to wepe for thy freend which that thou hast lorn; for ther-inne is no bote. / And therfore, if ye governe yow by sapience, put awey sorwe out of your herte. / Remembre yow that Iesus Syrak seith: “a man that is Ioyous and glad in herte, it him conserveth florisshing in his age; but soothly sorweful herte maketh his bones drye." /2185 He seith eek thus: “that sorwe in herte sleeth ful many a man.” / Salomon seith: “that, right as motthes in the shepes flees anoyeth to the clothes, and the smale wormes to the tree, right so anoyeth sorwe to the herte.” / Wherfore us oghte, as wel in the deeth of our children as in the losse of our goodes temporels, have pacience. /

2176. E. Pt. stente.   2178, 2180. E. deffended.   2182. E. teeris.   2185. E. florissynge.   2187. E. Hl. Motthes; Pt. Cm. mothes; Hn. moththes; Cp. moughtes.   2188. E. othere (for our before goodes); rest oure, our.

§ 7. Remembre yow up-on the pacient Iob, whan he hadde lost his children and his temporel substance, and in his body endured and receyved ful many a grevous tribulacioun; yet seyde he thus: / "our lord hath yeven it me, our lord hath biraft it me; right as our lord hath wold, right so it is doon; blessed be the name of our lord."' /2190 To thise foreseide thinges answerde Melibeus un-to his wyf Prudence: 'Alle thy wordes,’ quod he, ‘been sothe, and ther-to profitable; but trewely myn herte is troubled with this sorwe so grevously, that I noot what to done.’ / ‘Lat calle,’ quod Prudence, ‘thy trewe freendes alle, and thy linage whiche that been wyse; telleth your cas, and herkneth what they seye in conseiling, and yow governe after hir sentence. / Salomon seith: “werk alle thy thinges by conseil, and thou shalt never repente."’ /

2189. E. temporeel.   2190. Cp. haþ ȝoue [read yeuen] it me; Ln. yaue it me; Hl. it sent vnto me; rest omit; only Cp. Ln. Hl. repeat our lord.   2191. E. therwith; rest ther-to.

§ 8. Thanne, by the conseil of his wyf Prudence, this Melibeus leet callen a greet congregacioun of folk; / as surgiens, phisiciens, olde folk and yonge, and somme of hise olde enemys reconsiled as by hir semblaunt to his love and in-to his grace; /2195 and ther-with-al ther comen somme of hise neighebores that diden him reverence more for drede than for love, as it happeth ofte. / Ther comen also ful many subtile flatereres, and wyse advocats lerned in the lawe. /

2196, 7. E. coomen.

§ 9. And whan this folk togidre assembled weren, this Melibeus in sorweful wyse shewed hem his cas; / and by the manere of his speche it semed that in herte he bar a cruel ire, redy to doon vengeaunce up-on hise foos, and sodeynly desired that the werre sholde biginne; / but nathelees yet axed he hir conseil upon this matere. /2200 A surgien, by licence and assent of swiche as weren wyse, up roos and un-to Melibeus seyde as ye may here. /

2199. E. only ins. wel after semed.   E. baar a crueel; foes.   2200. E. Cm. matiere; Hl. matier.   2201. E. Hl. to (for un-to).

§ 10. ‘Sir,’ quod he, ‘as to us surgiens aperteneth, that we do to every wight the beste that we can, wher-as we been with-holde, and to our pacients that we do no damage; / wherfore it happeth, many tyme and ofte, that whan twey men han everich wounded other, oon same surgien heleth hem bothe; / wherefore un-to our art it is nat pertinent to norice werre, ne parties to supporte. / But certes, as to the warisshinge of your doghter, al-be-it so that she perilously be wounded, we shullen do so ententif bisinesse fro day to night, that with the grace of god she shal be hool and sound as sone as is possible.' /2205 Almost right in the same wyse the phisiciens answerden, save that they seyden a fewe wordes more: / ‘That, right as maladyes been cured by hir contraries, right so shul men warisshe werre by vengeaunce.’ / His neighebores, ful of envye, his feyned freendes that semeden reconsiled, and his flatereres, / maden semblant of weping, and empeireden and agreggeden muchel of this matere, in preising greetly Melibee of might, of power, of richesse, and of freendes, despysinge the power of his adversaries, / and seiden outrely that he anon sholde wreken him on his foos and biginne werre. /2210

2209. E. matiere.   2210. E. foes.

§ 11. Up roos thanne an advocat that was wys, by leve and by conseil of othere that were wyse, and seyde: / ‘Lordinges, the nede for which we been assembled in this place is a ful hevy thing and an heigh matere, / by-cause of the wrong and of the wikkednesse that hath be doon, and eek by resoun of the grete damages that in tyme cominge been possible to fallen for this same cause; / and eek by resoun of the grete richesse and power of the parties bothe; / for the whiche resouns it were a ful greet peril to erren in this matere. /2215 Wherfore, Melibeus, this is our sentence: we conseille yow aboven alle thing, that right anon thou do thy diligence in kepinge of thy propre persone, in swich a wyse that thou ne wante noon espye ne wacche, thy body for to save. / And after that we conseille, that in thyn hous thou sette suffisant garnisoun, so that they may as wel thy body as thyn hous defende. / But certes, for to moeve werre, or sodeynly for to doon vengeaunce, we may nat demen in so litel tyme that it were profitable. / Wherfore we axen leyser and espace to have deliberacioun in this cas to deme. / For the commune proverbe seith thus: “he that sone demeth, sone shal repente.” /2220 And eek men seyn that thilke Iuge is wys, that sone understondeth a matere and Iuggeth by leyser. / For al-be-it so that alle tarying be anoyful, algates it is nat to repreve in yevynge of Iugement, ne in vengeance-taking, whan it is suffisant and resonable. / And that shewed our lord Iesu Crist by ensample; for whan that the womman that was taken in avoutrie was broght in his presence, to knowen what sholde be doon with hir persone, al-be-it so that he wiste wel him-self what that he [203]wolde answere, yet ne wolde he nat answere sodeynly, but he wolde have deliberacioun, and in the ground he wroot twyes. / And by thise causes we axen deliberacioun, and we shal thanne, by the grace of god, conseille thee thing that shal be profitable.’ /

2212, 2215. E. matiere.   2216. E. om. 1st. ne.   E. persone (for body).   2217. E. sufficeant; Cp. suffisaunt; Hn. Pt. suffisant.   2218. or] so E. Pt; rest ne.   2221. E. matiere.   2222. E. sufficeant; Cp. Pt. suffisaunt; Hn. Ln. suffisant.   2223. Cm. Pt. Hl. of (for with).

§ 12. Up stirten thanne the yonge folk at-ones, and the moste partie of that companye han scorned the olde wyse men, and bigonnen to make noyse, and seyden: that, /2225 right so as whyl that iren is hoot, men sholden smyte, right so, men sholde wreken hir wronges whyle that they been fresshe and newe; and with loud voys they cryden, ‘werre! werre!’ /

2225. E. om. han.

Up roos tho oon of thise olde wyse, and with his hand made contenaunce that men sholde holden hem stille and yeven him audience. / ‘Lordinges,’ quod he, ‘ther is ful many a man that cryeth “werre! werre!” that woot ful litel what werre amounteth. / Werre at his biginning hath so greet an entree and so large, that every wight may entre whan him lyketh, and lightly finde werre. / But, certes, what ende that shal ther-of bifalle, it is nat light to knowe. /2230 For sothly, whan that werre is ones bigonne, ther is ful many a child unborn of his moder, that shal sterve yong by-cause of that ilke werre, or elles live in sorwe and dye in wrecchednesse. / And ther-fore, er that any werre biginne, men moste have greet conseil and greet deliberacioun.’ / And whan this olde man wende to enforcen his tale by resons, wel ny alle at-ones bigonne they to ryse for to breken his tale, and beden him ful ofte his wordes for to abregge. / For soothly, he that precheth to hem that listen nat heren his wordes, his sermon hem anoyeth. / For Iesus Syrak seith: that “musik in wepinge is anoyous thing;” this is to seyn: as muche availleth to speken bifore folk to whiche his speche anoyeth, as dooth to singe biforn him that wepeth. /2235 And whan this wyse man saugh that him wanted audience, al shamefast he sette him doun agayn. / For Salomon seith: “ther-as thou ne mayst have noon audience, enforce thee nat to speke.” / ‘I see wel,’ quod this wyse man, ‘that the commune proverbe is sooth; that “good conseil wanteth whan it is most nede."’ /

2229. Hn. entree; Cm. Pt. Hl. entre; E. Cp. Ln. entryng.   2235. Hn. Cm. Hl. a noyous; E. anoyous; Cp. annoyous; Pt. noyous.   Cm. doth; rest it is (badly).   2236. E. om. whan. E. and al (for al).   2238. E. om. nede.

§ 13. Yet hadde this Melibeus in his conseil many folk, that prively in his ere conseilled him certeyn thing, and conseilled him the contrarie in general audience. /

Whan Melibeus hadde herd that the gretteste partie of his conseil weren accorded that he sholde maken werre, anoon he consented to hir conseilling, and fully affermed hir sentence. /2240 Thanne dame Prudence, whan that she saugh how that hir housbonde shoop him for to wreken him on his foos, and to biginne werre, she in ful humble wyse, when she saugh hir tyme, seide him thise wordes: / ‘My lord,’ quod she, ‘I yow biseche as hertely as I dar and can, ne haste yow nat to faste, and for alle guerdons as yeveth me audience. / For Piers Alfonce seith: “who-so that dooth to that other good or harm, haste thee nat to quyten it; for in this wyse thy freend wol abyde, and thyn enemy shal the lenger live in drede.” / The proverbe seith: “he hasteth wel that wysely can abyde;” and in wikked haste is no profit.’ /

2241. E. foes; to him (rest om. to).   2242. Pt. guerdons; Cp. Ln. Hl. guerdouns; E. Hn. gerdons.

§ 14. This Melibee answerde un-to his wyf Prudence: ‘I purpose nat,’ quod he, ‘to werke by thy conseil, for many causes and resouns. For certes every wight wolde holde me thanne a fool; /2245 this is to seyn, if I, for thy conseilling, wolde chaungen thinges that been ordeyned and affermed by so manye wyse. / Secoundly I seye, that alle wommen been wikke and noon good of hem alle. For “of a thousand men,” seith Salomon, “I fond a good man: but certes, of alle wommen, good womman fond I never.” / And also certes, if I governed me by thy conseil, it sholde seme that I hadde yeve to thee over me the maistrie; and god forbede that it so were. / For Iesus Syrak seith; “that if the wyf have maistrie, she is contrarious to hir housbonde.” / And Salomon seith: “never in thy lyf, to thy wyf, ne to thy child, ne to thy freend, ne yeve no power over thy-self. For bettre it were that thy children aske of thy persone thinges that hem nedeth, than thou see thy-self in the handes of thy children." /2250 And also, if I wolde werke by thy conseilling, certes my conseilling moste som tyme be secree, til it were tyme that it moste be knowe; and this ne may noght be. / [For it is writen, that "the Ianglerie of wommen can hyden thinges that they witen noght." / Furthermore, the philosophre seith, “in wikked conseil wommen venquisshe men;” and for thise resouns I ne owe nat usen thy conseil.’] /

2247. E. Hn. foond; Cm. fond.   2248. E. weere.   2250. see] E. be; Pt. sese.   2251. E. om. also.   2252, 3. Not in the Mss., but necessary; see ll. 2274, 2280, and see Note.

§ 15. Whanne dame Prudence, ful debonairly and with greet pacience, hadde herd al that hir housbonde lyked for to seye, thanne axed she of him licence for to speke, and seyde in this wyse. / ‘My lord,’ quod she, ‘as to your firste resoun, certes it may lightly been answered. For I seye, that it is no folie to chaunge conseil whan the thing is chaunged; or elles whan the thing semeth otherweyes than it was biforn. /2255 And more-over I seye, that though ye han sworn and bihight to perfourne your emprise, and nathelees ye weyve to perfourne thilke same emprise by Iuste cause, men sholde nat seyn therefore that ye were a lyer ne forsworn. / For the book seith, that “the wyse man maketh no lesing whan he turneth his corage to the bettre.” / And al-be-it so that your emprise be establissed and ordeyned by greet multitude of folk, yet thar ye nat accomplice thilke same ordinaunce but yow lyke. / For the trouthe of thinges and the profit been rather founden in fewe folk that been wyse and ful of resoun, than by greet multitude of folk, ther every man cryeth and clatereth what that him lyketh. Soothly swich multitude is nat honeste. / As to the seconde resoun, where-as ye seyn that “alle wommen been wikke,” save your grace, certes ye despysen alle wommen in this wyse; and “he that alle despyseth alle displeseth," as seith the book. /2260 And Senek seith that "who-so wole have sapience, shal no man dispreise; but he shal gladly techen the science that he can, with-outen presumpcioun or pryde. / And swiche thinges as he nought ne can, he shal nat been ashamed to lerne hem and enquere of lasse folk than him-self.” / And sir, that ther hath been many a good womman, may lightly be preved. / For certes, sir, our lord Iesu Crist wolde never have descended to be born of a womman, if alle wommen hadden ben wikke. / And after that, for the grete bountee that is in wommen, our lord Iesu Crist, whan he was risen fro deeth to lyve, appeered rather to a womman than to his apostles. /2265 And though that Salomon seith, that “he ne fond never womman good,” it folweth nat therfore that alle wommen ben wikke. / For though that he ne fond no good womman, certes, ful many another man hath founden many a womman ful good and trewe. / Or elles per-aventure the entente of Salomon was this; that, as in sovereyn bountee, he fond no womman; / this is to seyn, that ther is no wight that hath sovereyn bountee save god allone; as he him-self recordeth in his Evaungelie. / For ther nis no creature so good that him ne wanteth somwhat of the perfeccioun of god, that is his maker. /2270 Your thridde resoun is this: ye seyn that "if ye governe yow by my conseil, it sholde seme that ye hadde yeve me the maistrie and the lordshipe over your persone.” / Sir, save your grace, it is nat so. For if it were so, that no man sholde be conseilled but only of hem that hadden lordshipe and maistrie of his persone, men wolden nat be conseilled so ofte. / For soothly, thilke man that asketh conseil of a purpos, yet hath he free chois, wheither he wole werke by that conseil or noon. / And as to your fourthe resoun, ther ye seyn that “the Ianglerie of wommen hath hid thinges that they woot noght,” as who seith, that “a womman can nat hyde that she woot;” / sir, thise wordes been understonde of wommen that been Iangleresses and wikked; /2275 of whiche wommen, men seyn that “three thinges dryven a man out of his hous; that is to seyn, smoke, dropping of reyn, and wikked wyves;” / and of swiche wommen seith Salomon, that “it were bettre dwelle in desert, than with a womman that is riotous.” / And sir, by your leve, that am nat I; / for ye han ful ofte assayed my grete silence and my gret pacience; and eek how wel that I can hyde and hele thinges that men oghte secreely to hyde. / And soothly, as to your fifthe resoun, wher-as ye seyn, that "in wikked conseil wommen venquisshe men;" god woot, thilke resoun stant here in no stede. /2280 For understand now, ye asken conseil to do wikkednesse; / and if ye wole werken wikkednesse, and your wyf restreyneth thilke wikked purpos, and overcometh yow by resoun and by good conseil; / certes, your wyf oghte rather to be preised than y-blamed. / Thus sholde ye understonde the philosophre that seith, “in wikked conseil wommen venquisshen hir housbondes.” / And ther-as ye blamen alle wommen and hir resouns, I shal shewe yow by manye ensamples that many a womman hath ben ful good, and yet been; and hir conseils ful hoolsome and profitable. /2285 Eek som men han seyd, that "the [207]conseillinge of wommen is outher to dere, or elles to litel of prys." / But al-be-it so, that ful many a womman is badde, and hir conseil vile and noght worth, yet han men founde ful many a good womman, and ful discrete and wise in conseillinge. / Lo, Iacob, by good conseil of his moder Rebekka, wan the benisoun of Ysaak his fader, and the lordshipe over alle his bretheren. / Iudith, by hir good conseil, delivered the citee of Bethulie, in which she dwelled, out of the handes of Olofernus, that hadde it biseged and wolde have al destroyed it. / Abigail delivered Nabal hir housbonde fro David the king, that wolde have slayn him, and apaysed the ire of the king by hir wit and by hir good conseilling. /2290 Hester by hir good conseil enhaunced greetly the peple of god in the regne of Assuerus the king. / And the same bountee in good conseilling of many a good womman may men telle. / And moreover, whan our lord hadde creat Adam our forme-fader, he seyde in this wyse: / “it is nat good to been a man allone; make we to him an help semblable to himself.” / Here may ye se that, if that wommen were nat goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable, /2295 our lord god of hevene wolde never han wroght hem, ne called hem help of man, but rather confusioun of man. / And ther seyde ones a clerk in two vers: “what is bettre than gold? Iaspre. What is bettre than Iaspre? Wisdom. / And what is bettre than wisdom? Womman. And what is bettre than a good womman? No-thing.” / And sir, by manye of othre resons may ye seen, that manye wommen been goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable. / And therfore sir, if ye wol triste to my conseil, I shal restore yow your doghter hool and sound. /2300 And eek I wol do to yow so muche, that ye shul have honour in this cause.’ /

2258. E. Cp. Ln. om. same.   2260. E. (only) om. and he that to book.   2261. E. Ln. despise; rest dispreise.   2266, 7. E. Hn. foond; Cm. fond.   2271. E. om. that.   2274. E. wiste noght.   2277. E. Cp. Pt. om. of.   2291. E. (only) puts by . . . conseil after greetly.   2297, 8. E. wisedom.

§ 16. Whan Melibee hadde herd the wordes of his wyf Prudence, he seyde thus: / ‘I se wel that the word of Salomon is sooth; he seith, that “wordes that been spoken discreetly by ordinaunce, been honycombes; for they yeven swetnesse to the soule, and hoolsomnesse to the body.” / And wyf, by-cause of thy swete wordes, and eek for I have assayed and preved thy grete sapience and thy grete trouthe, I wol governe me by thy conseil in alle thing.’ /

§ 17. 'Now sir,' quod dame Prudence, 'and sin ye vouche-sauf to been governed by my conseil, I wol enforme yow how ye shul governe your-self in chesinge of your conseillours. /2305 Ye shul first, in alle your werkes, mekely biseken to the heighe god that he wol be your conseillour; / and shapeth yow to swich entente, that he yeve yow conseil and confort, as taughte Thobie his sone. / “At alle tymes thou shalt blesse god, and praye him to dresse thy weyes”; and looke that alle thy conseils been in him for evermore. / Seint Iame eek seith: “if any of yow have nede of sapience, axe it of god.” / And afterward thanne shul ye taken conseil in your-self, and examine wel your thoghtes, of swich thing as yow thinketh that is best for your profit. /2310 And thanne shul ye dryve fro your herte three thinges that been contrariouse to good conseil, / that is to seyn, ire, coveitise, and hastifnesse. /

2310. in] E. of.   E. om. self.

§ 18. First, he that axeth conseil of him-self, certes he moste been with-outen ire, for manye causes. / The firste is this: he that hath greet ire and wratthe in him-self, he weneth alwey that he may do thing that he may nat do. / And secoundely, he that is irous and wroth, he ne may nat wel deme; /2315 and he that may nat wel deme, may nat wel conseille. / The thridde is this; that “he that is irous and wrooth,” as seith Senek, “ne may nat speke but he blame thinges;” / and with his viciouse wordes he stireth other folk to angre and to ire. / And eek sir, ye moste dryve coveitise out of your herte. / For the apostle seith, that "coveitise is rote of alle harmes." /2320 And trust wel that a coveitous man ne can noght deme ne thinke, but only to fulfille the ende of his coveitise; / and certes, that ne may never been accompliced; for ever the more habundaunce that he hath of richesse, the more he desyreth. / And sir, ye moste also dryve out of your herte hastifnesse; for certes, / ye ne may nat deme for the beste a sodeyn thought that falleth in youre herte, but ye moste avyse yow on it ful ofte. / For as ye herde biforn, the commune proverbe is this, that "he that sone demeth, sone repenteth." /2325

§ 19. Sir, ye ne be nat alwey in lyke disposicioun; / for certes, som thing that somtyme semeth to yow that it is good for to do, another tyme it semeth to yow the contrarie. /

§ 20. Whan ye han taken conseil in your-self, and han demed by good deliberacion swich thing as you semeth best, / thanne rede I yow, that ye kepe it secree. / Biwrey nat your conseil to no persone, but-if so be that ye wenen sikerly that, thurgh your biwreying, your condicioun shal be to yow the more profitable. /2330 For Iesus Syrak seith: “neither to thy foo ne to thy freend discovere nat thy secree ne thy folie; / for they wol yeve yow audience and loking and supportacioun in thy presence, and scorne thee in thyn absence.” / Another clerk seith, that “scarsly shaltou finden any persone that may kepe conseil secreely.” / The book seith: “whyl that thou kepest thy conseil in thyn herte, thou kepest it in thy prisoun: / and whan thou biwreyest thy conseil to any wight, he holdeth thee in his snare." /2335 And therefore yow is bettre to hyde your conseil in your herte, than praye him, to whom ye han biwreyed your conseil, that he wole kepen it cloos and stille. / For Seneca seith: “if so be that thou ne mayst nat thyn owene conseil hyde, how darstou prayen any other wight thy conseil secreely to kepe?” / But nathelees, if thou wene sikerly that the biwreying of thy conseil to a persone wol make thy condicioun to stonden in the bettre plyt, thanne shaltou tellen him thy conseil in this wyse. / First, thou shalt make no semblant whether thee were lever pees or werre, or this or that, ne shewe him nat thy wille and thyn entente; / for trust wel, that comunly thise conseillours been flatereres, /2340 namely the conseillours of grete lordes; / for they enforcen hem alwey rather to speken plesante wordes, enclyninge to the lordes lust, than wordes that been trewe or profitable. / And therfore men seyn, that “the riche man hath seld good conseil but-if he have it of him-self.” / And after that, thou shalt considere thy freendes and thyne enemys. / And as touchinge thy freendes, thou shalt considere whiche of hem been most feithful and most wyse, and eldest and most approved in conseilling. /2345 And of hem shalt thou aske thy conseil, as the caas requireth. /

2328. in] E. of; Ln. vnto.   semeth] E. list.   2332. E. to (after loking); rest and.   2333, 7. E. sikerly; rest secreely.   2336. E. hem; rest him.   2339. E. wheither.   2340. E. comenli.   2343. E. seeld.   2345. E. wiche.   been] E. Hn. that been.

§ 21. I seye that first ye shul clepe to your conseil your freendes that been trewe. / For Salomon seith: that “right as the herte of a man delyteth in savour that is sote, right so the conseil of trewe freendes yeveth swetenesse to the soule.” / He seith also: “ther may no-thing be lykned to the trewe freend.” / For certes, gold ne silver beth nat so muche worth as the gode wil of a trewe freend. /2350 And eek he seith, that "a trewe freend is a strong deffense; who-so that it findeth, certes he findeth a greet tresour." / Thanne shul ye eek considere, if that your trewe freendes been discrete and wyse. For the book seith: “axe alwey thy conseil of hem that been wyse.” / And by this same resoun shul ye clepen to your conseil, of your freendes that been of age, swiche as han seyn and been expert in manye thinges, and been approved in conseillinges. / For the book seith, that “in olde men is the sapience and in longe tyme the prudence.” / And Tullius seith: that “grete thinges ne been nat ay accompliced by strengthe, ne by delivernesse of body, but by good conseil, by auctoritee of persones, and by science; the whiche three thinges ne been nat feble by age, but certes they enforcen and encreesen day by day." /2355 And thanne shul ye kepe this for a general reule. First shul ye clepen to your conseil a fewe of your freendes that been especiale; / for Salomon seith: “manye freendes have thou; but among a thousand chese thee oon to be thy conseillour.” / For al-be-it so that thou first ne telle thy conseil but to a fewe, thou mayst afterward telle it to mo folk, if it be nede. / But loke alwey that thy conseillours have thilke three condiciouns that I have seyd bifore; that is to seyn, that they be trewe, wyse, and of old experience. / And werke nat alwey in every nede by oon counseillour allone; for somtyme bihoveth it to been conseilled by manye. /2360 For Salomon seith: "salvacioun of thinges is wher-as ther been manye conseillours.” /

2355. E. Hn. fieble; Cp. Pt. Hl. feble; Cm. feblid; Ln. fiebled.   E. encreescen.

§ 22. Now sith that I have told yow of which folk ye sholde been counseilled, now wol I teche yow which conseil ye oghte to eschewe. / First ye shul eschewe the conseilling of foles; for Salomon seith: “taak no conseil of a fool, for he ne can noght conseille but after his owene lust and his affeccioun.” / The book seith: that “the propretee of a fool is this; he troweth lightly harm of every wight, and lightly troweth alle bountee in him-self.” / Thou shalt eek eschewe the conseilling of alle flatereres, swiche as enforcen hem rather to preise your persone by flaterye than for to telle yow the sothfastnesse of thinges. /2365

2362. Hn. Cm. Hl. that; Pt. what; rest om.   2365. E. om. alle.

§ 23. ‘Wherfore Tullius seith: “amonges alle the pestilences that been in freendshipe, the gretteste is flaterye.” And therfore is it more nede that thou eschewe and drede flatereres than any other peple. / The book seith: “thou shalt rather drede and flee fro the swete wordes of flateringe preiseres, than fro the egre [211]wordes of thy freend that seith thee thy sothes.” / Salomon seith, that “the wordes of a flaterere is a snare to cacche with innocents.” / He seith also, that “he that speketh to his freend wordes of swetnesse and of plesaunce, setteth a net biforn his feet to cacche him.” / And therfore seith Tullius: “enclyne nat thyne eres to flatereres, ne taketh no conseil of wordes of flaterye." /2370 And Caton seith: "avyse thee wel, and eschewe the wordes of swetnesse and of plesaunce.” / And eek thou shalt eschewe the conseilling of thyne olde enemys that been reconsiled. / The book seith: that “no wight retourneth saufly in-to the grace of his olde enemy.” / And Isope seith: “ne trust nat to hem to whiche thou hast had som-tyme werre or enmitee, ne telle hem nat thy conseil.” / And Seneca telleth the cause why. “It may nat be,” seith he, "that, where greet fyr hath longe tyme endured, that ther ne dwelleth som vapour of warmnesse." /2375 And therfore seith Salomon: “in thyn olde foo trust never.” / For sikerly, though thyn enemy be reconsiled and maketh thee chere of humilitee, and louteth to thee with his heed, ne trust him never. / For certes, he maketh thilke feyned humilitee more for his profit than for any love of thy persone; by-cause that he demeth to have victorie over thy persone by swich feyned contenance, the which victorie he mighte nat have by stryf or werre. / And Peter Alfonce seith: “make no felawshipe with thyne olde enemys; for if thou do hem bountee, they wol perverten it in-to wikkednesse.” / And eek thou most eschewe the conseilling of hem that been thy servants, and beren thee greet reverence; for peraventure they seyn it more for drede than for love. /2380 And therfore seith a philosophre in this wyse: “ther is no wight parfitly trewe to him that he to sore dredeth.” / And Tullius seith: “ther nis no might so greet of any emperour, that longe may endure, but-if he have more love of the peple than drede.” / Thou shalt also eschewe the conseiling of folk that been dronkelewe; for they ne can no conseil hyde. / For Salomon seith: “ther is no privetee ther-as regneth dronkenesse.” / Ye shul also han in suspect the conseilling of swich folk as conseille yow a thing prively, and conseille yow the contrarie openly. /2385 For [212]Cassidorie seith: that “it is a maner sleighte to hindre, whan he sheweth to doon a thing openly and werketh prively the contrarie.” / Thou shalt also have in suspect the conseilling of wikked folk. For the book seith: “the conseilling of wikked folk is alwey ful of fraude:” / And David seith: “blisful is that man that hath nat folwed the conseilling of shrewes.” / Thou shalt also eschewe the conseilling of yong folk; for hir conseil is nat rype. /

2368. E. chacche (for cacche).    Pt. to cacchen innocentes withe; rest (except E.) om. with.   2370. E. Cp. Ln. the wordes; rest om. the.   2374. E. Hn. enemytee.   2377. E. chiere.   2378. E. nat winne; rest nat haue.   2380. E. doon; rest seyn.   2382. E. for drede; rest om. for.   2383. E. om. ne.   2388. E. sherewes.

§ 24. Now sir, sith I have shewed yow of which folk ye shul take your conseil, and of which folk ye shul folwe the conseil, /2390 now wol I teche yow how ye shal examine your conseil, after the doctrine of Tullius. / In the examininge thanne of your conseillour, ye shul considere manye thinges. / Alderfirst thou shalt considere, that in thilke thing that thou purposest, and upon what thing thou wolt have conseil, that verray trouthe be seyd and conserved; this is to seyn, telle trewely thy tale. / For he that seith fals may nat wel be conseilled, in that cas of which he lyeth. / And after this, thou shalt considere the thinges that acorden to that thou purposest for to do by thy conseillours, if resoun accorde therto; /2395 and eek, if thy might may atteine ther-to; and if the more part and the bettre part of thy conseillours acorde ther-to, or no. / Thanne shaltou considere what thing shal folwe of that conseilling; as hate, pees, werre, grace, profit, or damage; and manye othere thinges. / And in alle thise thinges thou shalt chese the beste, and weyve alle othere thinges. / Thanne shaltow considere of what rote is engendred the matere of thy conseil, and what fruit it may conceyve and engendre. / Thou shalt eek considere alle thise causes, fro whennes they been sprongen. /2400 And whan ye han examined your conseil as I have seyd, and which partie is the bettre and more profitable, and hast approved it by manye wyse folk and olde; / thanne shaltou considere, if thou mayst parfourne it and maken of it a good ende. / For certes, resoun wol nat that any man sholde biginne a thing, but-if he mighte parfourne it as him oghte. / Ne no wight sholde take up-on hym so hevy a charge that he mighte nat bere it. / For the proverbe seith: "he that to muche embraceth, distreyneth litel." /2405 And Catoun seith: "assay to do swich thing as thou hast power to doon, lest that the charge oppresse thee so sore, that thee bihoveth to weyve thing that thou hast bigonne.” / And if so be that thou be in doute, whether thou mayst parfourne a thing or noon, chese rather to suffre than biginne. / And Piers Alphonce seith: “if thou hast might to doon a thing of which thou most repente thee, it is bettre ‘nay’ than ‘ye’;” / this is to seyn, that thee is bettre holde thy tonge stille, than for to speke. / Thanne may ye understonde by strenger resons, that if thou hast power to parfourne a werk of which thou shalt repente, thanne is it bettre that thou suffre than biginne. /2410 Wel seyn they, that defenden every wight to assaye any thing of which he is in doute, whether he may parfourne it or no. / And after, whan ye han examined your conseil as I have seyd biforn, and knowen wel that ye may parfourne youre emprise, conferme it thanne sadly til it be at an ende. /

2396. or no] E. or noon; Pt. anoon.   2397. of that] E. after hir.   2398. E. Thanne of; rest And in.   2399. E. matiere.   conceyve] E. Hl. conserue.   2407, 2411. E. wheither.   2411. Hn. Cm. no; rest noon (non).

§ 25. Now is it resoun and tyme that I shewe yow, whanne, and wherfore, that ye may chaunge your conseil with-outen your repreve. / Soothly, a man may chaungen his purpos and his conseil if the cause cesseth, or whan a newe caas bitydeth. / For the lawe seith: that "upon thinges that newely bityden bihoveth newe conseil." /2415 And Senek seith: “if thy conseil is comen to the eres of thyn enemy, chaunge thy conseil.” / Thou mayst also chaunge thy conseil if so be that thou finde that, by errour or by other cause, harm or damage may bityde. / Also, if thy conseil be dishonest, or elles cometh of dishoneste cause, chaunge thy conseil. / For the lawes seyn: that “alle bihestes that been dishoneste been of no value." / And eek, if it so be that it be inpossible, or may nat goodly be parfourned or kept. /2420

2413. Hl. conseil; rest conseillors.   2416. E. eeris.   2417. finde] E. mayst finde.   2420. E. Cp. if; rest if it.

§ 26. And take this for a general reule, that every conseil that is affermed so strongly that it may nat be chaunged, for no condicioun that may bityde, I seye that thilke conseil is wikked.’ /

§ 27. This Melibeus, whanne he hadde herd the doctrine of his wyf dame Prudence, answerde in this wyse. / ‘Dame,’ quod he, ‘as yet in-to this tyme ye han wel and covenably taught me as in general, how I shal governe me in the chesinge and in the withholdinge of my conseillours. / But now wolde I fayn that ye wolde condescende in especial, / and telle me how lyketh yow, or what semeth yow, by our conseillours that we han chosen in our present nede.' /2425

2423. in-to] Cp. Ln. vnto.   E. couenablely.

§ 28. ‘My lord,’ quod she, ‘I biseke yow in al humblesse, that ye wol nat wilfully replye agayn my resouns, ne distempre your herte thogh I speke thing that yow displese. / For god wot that, as in myn entente, I speke it for your beste, for your honour and for your profite eke. / And soothly, I hope that your benignitee wol taken it in pacience. / Trusteth me wel,’ quod she, ‘that your conseil as in this caas ne sholde nat, as to speke properly, be called a conseilling, but a mocioun or a moevyng of folye; / in which conseil ye han erred in many a sondry wyse. /2430

2428. E. benyngnytee.

§ 29. First and forward, ye han erred in thassemblinge of your conseillours. / For ye sholde first have cleped a fewe folk to your conseil, and after ye mighte han shewed it to mo folk, if it hadde been nede. / But certes, ye han sodeynly cleped to your conseil a greet multitude of peple, ful chargeant and ful anoyous for to here. / Also ye han erred, for there-as ye sholden only have cleped to your conseil your trewe freendes olde and wyse, / ye han y-cleped straunge folk, and yong folk, false flatereres, and enemys reconsiled, and folk that doon yow reverence withouten love. /2435 And eek also ye have erred, for ye han broght with yow to your conseil ire, covetise, and hastifnesse; / the whiche three thinges been contrariouse to every conseil honeste and profitable; / the whiche three thinges ye han nat anientissed or destroyed hem, neither in your-self ne in your conseillours, as yow oghte. / Ye han erred also, for ye han shewed to your conseillours your talent, and your affeccioun to make werre anon and for to do vengeance; / they han espyed by your wordes to what thing ye been enclyned. /2440 And therfore han they rather conseilled yow to your talent than to your profit. / Ye han erred also, for it semeth that yow suffyseth to han been conseilled by thise conseillours only, and with litel avys; / wher-as, in so greet and so heigh a nede, it hadde been necessarie mo conseillours, and more deliberacioun to parfourne your emprise. / Ye han erred also, for ye han nat examined your conseil in the forseyde manere, ne in due manere as the caas requireth. / Ye han erred also, for ye han maked no divisioun bitwixe your conseillours; this is to [215]seyn, bitwixen your trewe freendes and your feyned conseillours; /2445 ne ye han nat knowe the wil of your trewe freendes olde and wyse; / but ye han cast alle hir wordes in an hochepot, and enclyned your herte to the more part and to the gretter nombre; and ther been ye condescended. / And sith ye wot wel that men shal alwey finde a gretter nombre of foles than of wyse men, / and therfore the conseils that been at congregaciouns and multitudes of folk, ther-as men take more reward to the nombre than to the sapience of persones, / ye see wel that in swiche conseillinges foles han the maistrie.' /2450 Melibeus answerde agayn, and seyde: ‘I graunte wel that I have erred; / but ther-as thou hast told me heer-biforn, that he nis nat to blame that chaungeth hise conseillours in certein caas, and for certeine Iuste causes, / I am al redy to chaunge my conseillours, right as thow wolt devyse. / The proverbe seith: that “for to do sinne is mannish, but certes for to persevere longe in sinne is werk of the devel."’ /

2438. E. om. thinges.   Hl. om. hem.   2442. Hn. Cm. Pt. Hl. yow; E. it.   2445. E. nat maked; rest om. nat.   2447. E. partie; rest part.

§ 30. To this sentence answerde anon dame Prudence, and seyde: /2455 'Examineth,' quod she, ‘your conseil, and lat us see the whiche of hem han spoken most resonably, and taught yow best conseil. / And for-as-muche as that the examinacioun is necessarie, lat us biginne at the surgiens and at the phisiciens, that first speken in this matere. / I sey yow, that the surgiens and phisiciens han seyd yow in your conseil discreetly, as hem oughte; / and in hir speche seyden ful wysly, that to the office of hem aperteneth to doon to every wight honour and profit, and no wight for to anoye; / and, after hir craft, to doon greet diligence un-to the cure of hem whiche that they han in hir governaunce. /2460 And sir, right as they han answered wysly and discreetly, / right so rede I that they been heighly and sovereynly guerdoned for hir noble speche; / and eek for they sholde do the more ententif bisinesse in the curacioun of your doghter dere. / For al-be-it so that they been your freendes, therfore shal ye nat suffren that they serve yow for noght; / but ye oghte the rather guerdone hem and shewe hem your largesse. /2465 And as touchinge the proposicioun which that the phisiciens entreteden in this caas, this is to seyn, / that, in maladyes, that oon contrarie is warisshed by another contrarie, / I wolde fayn knowe how ye understonde thilke text, and what is your sentence.’ / ‘Certes,’ quod Melibeus, ‘I understonde it in this wyse: / that, right as they han doon me a contrarie, right so sholde I doon hem another. /2470 For right as they han venged hem on me and doon me wrong, right so shal I venge me upon hem and doon hem wrong; / and thanne have I cured oon contrarie by another.’ /

2455. E. answereth; rest answerde (andswered).   2456. E. resonablely.   2457. E. matiere.   2459. E. seyd; Hn. Cm. Hl. seyden.   2460. E. in; rest after.   2462. E. Hn. gerdoned; rest guerdoned.   2465. E. Hn. Pt. gerdone.   2466. E. encreesceden; Hn. Ln. encresceden; Cp. Cm. encreseden; Pt. encresden; Hl. han schewed; ed. 1561, entreteden.   2468. thilke] E. this.

§ 31. ‘Lo, lo!’ quod dame Prudence, ‘how lightly is every man enclyned to his owene desyr and to his owene plesaunce! / Certes,’ quod she, ‘the wordes of the phisiciens ne sholde nat han been understonden in this wyse. / For certes, wikkednesse is nat contrarie to wikkednesse, ne vengeaunce to vengeaunce, ne wrong to wrong; but they been semblable. /2475 And therfore, o vengeaunce is nat warisshed by another vengeaunce, ne o wrong by another wrong; / but everich of hem encreesceth and aggreggeth other. / But certes, the wordes of the phisiciens sholde been understonden in this wyse: / for good and wikkednesse been two contraries, and pees and werre, vengeaunce and suffraunce, discord and accord, and manye othere thinges. / But certes, wikkednesse shal be warisshed by goodnesse, discord by accord, werre by pees, and so forth of othere thinges. /2480 And heer-to accordeth Seint Paul the apostle in manye places. / He seith: “ne yeldeth nat harm for harm, ne wikked speche for wikked speche; / but do wel to him that dooth thee harm, and blesse him that seith to thee harm.” / And in manye othere places he amonesteth pees and accord. / But now wol I speke to yow of the conseil which that was yeven to yow by the men of lawe and the wyse folk, /2485 that seyden alle by oon accord as ye han herd bifore; / that, over alle thynges, ye sholde doon your diligence to kepen your persone and to warnestore your hous. / And seyden also, that in this caas ye oghten for to werken ful avysely and with greet deliberacioun. / And sir, as to the firste point, that toucheth to the keping of your persone; / ye shul understonde that he that hath werre shal evermore mekely and devoutly preyen biforn alle thinges, /2490 that Iesus Crist of his grete mercy wol han him in his proteccioun, and been his sovereyn helping at his nede. / For certes, in this world ther is no wight that may be conseilled ne kept suffisantly withouten the keping of our lord Iesu Crist. / To this sentence accordeth the prophete David, that seith: / “if god ne kepe the citee, in ydel waketh he that it kepeth.” / Now sir, thanne shul ye committe the keping of your persone to your trewe freendes that been approved and y-knowe; /2495 and of hem shul ye axen help your persone for to kepe. For Catoun seith: “if thou hast nede of help, axe it of thy freendes; / for ther nis noon so good a phisicien as thy trewe freend.” / And after this, thanne shul ye kepe yow fro alle straunge folk, and fro lyeres, and have alwey in suspect hir companye. / For Piers Alfonce seith: “ne tak no companye by the weye of a straunge man, but-if so be that thou have knowe him of a lenger tyme. / And if so be that he falle in-to thy companye paraventure withouten thyn assent, /2500 enquere thanne, as subtilly as thou mayst, of his conversacioun and of his lyf bifore, and feyne thy wey; seye that thou goost thider as thou wolt nat go; / and if he bereth a spere, hold thee on the right syde, and if he bere a swerd, hold thee on the lift syde.” / And after this, thanne shul ye kepe yow wysely from alle swich manere peple as I have seyd bifore, and hem and hir conseil eschewe. / And after this, thanne shul ye kepe yow in swich manere, / that for any presumpcioun of your strengthe, that ye ne dispyse nat ne acounte nat the might of your adversarie so litel, that ye lete the keping of your persone for your presumpcioun; /2505 for every wys man dredeth his enemy. / And Salomon seith: “weleful is he that of alle hath drede; / for certes, he that thurgh the hardinesse of his herte and thurgh the hardinesse of him-self hath to greet presumpcioun, him shal yvel bityde.” / Thanne shul ye evermore countrewayte embusshements and alle espiaille. / For Senek seith: that “the wyse man that dredeth harmes escheweth harmes; /2510 ne he ne falleth in-to perils, that perils escheweth." / And al-be-it so that it seme that thou art in siker place, yet shaltow alwey do thy diligence in kepinge of thy persone; / this is to seyn, ne be nat necligent to kepe thy persone, nat only fro thy gretteste enemys but fro thy leeste enemy. / Senek seith: “a man that is wel avysed, he dredeth his leste enemy.” / Ovide seith: that “the litel wesele wol slee the grete bole and the wilde hert." /2515 And the book seith: "a litel thorn may prikke a greet king ful sore; and an hound wol holde the wilde boor.” / But nathelees, I sey nat thou shall be so coward that thou doute ther wher-as is no drede. / The book seith: that “somme folk han greet lust to deceyve, but yet they dreden hem to be deceyved.” / Yet shaltou drede to been empoisoned, and kepe yow from the companye of scorneres. / For the book seith: “with scorneres make no companye, but flee hir wordes as venim." /2520

2488. E. Ln. Hl. yow; rest ye.   2491. E grete; rest om.   2492. E. sufficeantly; Hn. suffisantly.   2495. y-knowe] E. knowe.   2499. E. taak; compaignye.   E. straunge men; Cp. straunge man; rest a straunge man.   2500. he] E. he be.   2502. E. his lift; rest the lift.   2510. E. he dredeth; rest that dredeth.   Hn. Cm. Pt. Hl. escheweth harmes; rest om.   2513. fro] E. Hl. for.   2514. E. omits Senek . . . enemy; the rest have it.   2517. E. om. so.

§ 32. Now as to the seconde point, wher-as your wyse conseillours conseilled yow to warnestore your hous with gret diligence, / I wolde fayn knowe, how that ye understonde thilke wordes, and what is your sentence.’ /

§ 33. Melibeus answerde and seyde, ‘Certes I understande it in this wise; that I shal warnestore myn hous with toures, swiche as han castelles and othere manere edifices, and armure and artelleries, / by whiche thinges I may my persone and myn hous so kepen and defenden, that myne enemys shul been in drede myn hous for to approche.’ /

2523. Cm. artelleryes; E. Hn. artelries; Hl. artilries; Cp. Ln. archers.

§ 34. To this sentence answerde anon Prudence; ‘warnestoring,’ quod she, ‘of heighe toures and of grete edifices apperteneth som-tyme to pryde; /2525 and eek men make heighe toures and grete edifices with grete costages and with greet travaille; and whan that they been accompliced, yet be they nat worth a stree, but-if they be defended by trewe freendes that been olde and wyse. / And understond wel, that the gretteste and strongeste garnison that a riche man may have, as wel to kepen his persone as hise goodes, is / that he be biloved amonges his subgets and with hise neighebores. / For thus seith Tullius: that “ther is a maner garnison that no man may venquisse ne disconfite, and that is, / a lord to be biloved of hise citezeins and of his peple." /2530

2525, 6. E. Hn. Cm. Pt. Hl. omit apperteneth . . . edifices; Cp. Ln. have it; see note.

§ 35. Now sir, as to the thridde point; wher-as your olde and wise conseillours seyden, that yow ne oghte nat sodeynly ne hastily proceden in this nede, / but that yow oghte purveyen and [219]apparaillen yow in this caas with greet diligence and greet deliberacioun; / trewely, I trowe that they seyden right wysly and right sooth. / For Tullius seith, “in every nede, er thou biginne it, apparaille thee with greet diligence.” / Thanne seye I, that in vengeance-taking, in werre, in bataille, and in warnestoring, /2535 er thow biginne, I rede that thou apparaille thee ther-to, and do it with greet deliberacioun. / For Tullius seith: that “long apparailling biforn the bataille maketh short victorie.” / And Cassidorus seith: “the garnison is stronger whan it is longe tyme avysed.” /

2537. E. Ln. The longe; rest that long.

§ 36. But now lat us speken of the conseil that was accorded by your neighebores, swiche as doon yow reverence withouten love, / your olde enemys reconsiled, your flatereres, /2540 that conseilled yow certeyne thinges prively, and openly conseilleden yow the contrarie; / the yonge folk also, that conseilleden yow to venge yow and make werre anon. / And certes, sir, as I have seyd biforn, ye han greetly erred to han cleped swich maner folk to your conseil; / which conseillours been y-nogh repreved by the resouns afore-seyd. / But nathelees, lat us now descende to the special. Ye shuln first procede after the doctrine of Tullius. /2545 Certes, the trouthe of this matere or of this conseil nedeth nat diligently enquere; / for it is wel wist whiche they been that han doon to yow this trespas and vileinye, / and how manye trespassours, and in what manere they han to yow doon al this wrong and al this vileinye. / And after this, thanne shul ye examine the seconde condicioun, which that the same Tullius addeth in this matere. / For Tullius put a thing, which that he clepeth "consentinge," this is to seyn; /2550 who been they and how manye, and whiche been they, that consenteden to thy conseil, in thy wilfulnesse to doon hastif vengeance. / And lat us considere also who been they, and how manye been they, and whiche been they, that consenteden to your adversaries. / And certes, as to the firste poynt, it is wel knowen whiche folk been they that consenteden to your hastif wilfulnesse; / for trewely, alle tho that conseilleden yow to maken sodeyn werre ne been nat your freendes. / Lat us now considere whiche been they, that ye holde so greetly your freendes as to your persone. /2555 For al-be-it so that ye be mighty [220]and riche, certes ye ne been nat but allone. / For certes, ye ne han no child but a doghter; / ne ye ne han bretheren ne cosins germayns, ne noon other neigh kinrede, / wherfore that your enemys, for drede, sholde stinte to plede with yow or to destroye your persone. / Ye knowen also, that your richesses moten been dispended in diverse parties; /2560 and whan that every wight hath his part, they ne wollen taken but litel reward to venge thy deeth. / But thyne enemys been three, and they han manie children, bretheren, cosins, and other ny kinrede; / and, though so were that thou haddest slayn of hem two or three, yet dwellen ther y-nowe to wreken hir deeth and to slee thy persone. / And though so be that your kinrede be more siker and stedefast than the kin of your adversarie, / yet nathelees your kinrede nis but a fer kinrede; they been but litel sib to yow, /2565 and the kin of your enemys been ny sib to hem. And certes, as in that, hir condicioun is bet than youres. / Thanne lat us considere also if the conseilling of hem that conseilleden yow to taken sodeyn vengeaunce, whether it accorde to resoun? / And certes, ye knowe wel “nay.” / For as by right and resoun, ther may no man taken vengeance on no wight, but the Iuge that hath the Iurisdiccioun of it, / whan it is graunted him to take thilke vengeance, hastily or attemprely, as the lawe requireth. /2570 And yet more-over, of thilke word that Tullius clepeth "consentinge," / thou shalt considere if thy might and thy power may consenten and suffyse to thy wilfulnesse and to thy conseillours. / And certes, thou mayst wel seyn that “nay.” / For sikerly, as for to speke proprely, we may do no-thing but only swich thing as we may doon rightfully. / And certes, rightfully ne mowe ye take no vengeance as of your propre auctoritee. /2575 Thanne mowe ye seen, that your power ne consenteth nat ne accordeth nat with your wilfulnesse. / Lat us now examine the thridde point that Tullius clepeth “consequent.” / Thou shalt understonde that the vengeance that thou purposest for to take is the consequent. / And ther-of folweth another vengeaunce, peril, and werre; and othere damages with-oute nombre, of whiche we be nat war as at this tyme. / And as touchinge the fourthe point, that Tullius clepeth "engendringe," /2580 thou shalt considere, that this wrong which that is doon to thee is engendred of the hate of thyne enemys; / and of the vengeance-takinge upon that wolde engendre another vengeance, and muchel sorwe and wastinge of richesses, as I seyde. /

2551. E. om. and whiche been they; see 2552.   Hk. consentid; rest consenten (for consenteden); see 2552.

§ 37. Now sir, as to the point that Tullius clepeth “causes,” which that is the laste point, / thou shall understonde that the wrong that thou hast receyved hath certeine causes, / whiche that clerkes clepen Oriens and Efficiens, and Causa longinqua and Causa propinqua; this is to seyn, the fer cause and the ny cause. /2585 The fer cause is almighty god, that is cause of alle thinges. / The neer cause is thy three enemys. / The cause accidental was hate. / The cause material been the fyve woundes of thy doghter. / The cause formal is the manere of hir werkinge, that broghten laddres and cloumben in at thy windowes. /2590 The cause final was for to slee thy doghter; it letted nat in as muche as in hem was. / But for to speken of the fer cause, as to what ende they shul come, or what shal finally bityde of hem in this caas, ne can I nat deme but by coniectinge and by supposinge. / For we shul suppose that they shul come to a wikked ende, / by-cause that the Book of Decrees seith: “selden or with greet peyne been causes y-broght to good ende whanne they been baddely bigonne.” /

2594. E. seelden.

§ 38. Now sir, if men wolde axe me, why that god suffred men to do yow this vileinye, certes, I can nat wel answere as for no sothfastnesse. /2595 For thapostle seith, that "the sciences and the Iuggementz of our lord god almighty been ful depe; / ther may no man comprehende ne serchen hem suffisantly.” / Nathelees, by certeyne presumpcions and coniectinges, I holde and bileve / that god, which that is ful of Iustice and of rightwisnesse, hath suffred this bityde by Iuste cause resonable. /

§ 39. Thy name is Melibee, this is to seyn, "a man that drinketh hony." /2600 Thou hast y-dronke so muchel hony of swete temporel richesses and delices and honours of this world, / that thou art dronken; and hast forgeten Iesu Crist thy creatour; / thou ne hast nat doon to him swich honour and reverence as thee oughte. / Ne thou ne hast nat wel y-taken kepe to the wordes of Ovide, that seith: / “under the hony of the godes of the body is hid the venim that sleeth the soule." /2605 And Salomon seith, "if thou hast founden hony, ete of it that suffyseth; / for if thou ete of it out of mesure, thou shalt spewe,” and be nedy and povre. / And peraventure Crist hath thee in despit, and hath turned awey fro thee his face and hise eres of misericorde; / and also he hath suffred that thou hast been punisshed in the manere that thow hast y-trespassed. / Thou hast doon sinne agayn our lord Crist; /2610 for certes, the three enemys of mankinde, that is to seyn, the flessh, the feend, and the world, / thou hast suffred hem entre in-to thyn herte wilfully by the windowes of thy body, / and hast nat defended thy-self suffisantly agayns hir assautes and hir temptaciouns, so that they han wounded thy soule in fyve places; / this is to seyn, the deedly sinnes that been entred in-to thyn herte by thy fyve wittes. / And in the same manere our lord Crist hath wold and suffred, that thy three enemys been entred in-to thyn hous by the windowes, /2615 and han y-wounded thy doghter in the fore-seyde manere.’ /

2601. E. sweete temporeel.   2608. E. eeris.

§ 40. ‘Certes,’ quod Melibee, ‘I see wel that ye enforce yow muchel by wordes to overcome me in swich manere, that I shal nat venge me of myne enemys; / shewinge me the perils and the yveles that mighten falle of this vengeance. / But who-so wolde considere in alle vengeances the perils and yveles that mighte sewe of vengeance-takinge, / a man wolde never take vengeance, and that were harm; /2620 for by the vengeance-takinge been the wikked men dissevered fro the gode men. / And they that han wil to do wikkednesse restreyne hir wikked purpos, whan they seen the punissinge and chastysinge of the trespassours.’ / [And to this answerde dame Prudence: ‘Certes,’ seyde she, ‘I graunte wel that of vengeaunce cometh muchel yvel and muchel good; / but vengeaunce-taking aperteneth nat unto everichoon, but only unto Iuges and unto hem that han Iurisdicctioun upon the trespassours.] / And yet seye I more, that right as a singuler persone sinneth in takinge vengeance of another man, /2625 right so sinneth the Iuge if he do no vengeance of hem that it han deserved. / For Senek seith thus: “that maister,” he seith, “is good that proveth shrewes.” / And as Cassidore seith: “A man dredeth to do outrages, whan he woot and knoweth that it displeseth to the Iuges and sovereyns.” / And another seith: “the Iuge that dredeth to do right, maketh men shrewes.” / And Seint Paule the apostle seith in his epistle, whan he wryteth un-to the Romayns: that "the Iuges beren nat the spere with-outen cause;" /2630 but they beren it to punisse the shrewes and misdoeres, and for to defende the gode men. / If ye wol thanne take vengeance of your enemys, ye shul retourne or have your recours to the Iuge that hath the Iurisdiccion up-on hem; / and he shal punisse hem as the lawe axeth and requyreth.’ /

2623, 2624. Not in the Mss. Supplied by translating the French text.   2626. E. Hn. disserued.   2629. E. om. And.   2631. E. Ln. om. for.

§ 41. ‘A!’ quod Melibee, ‘this vengeance lyketh me no-thing. / I bithenke me now and take hede, how fortune hath norissed me fro my childhede, and hath holpen me to passe many a strong pas. /2635 Now wol I assayen hir, trowinge, with goddes help, that she shal helpe me my shame for to venge.’ /

§ 42. ‘Certes,’ quod Prudence, ‘if ye wol werke by my conseil, ye shul nat assaye fortune by no wey; / ne ye shul nat lene or bowe unto hir, after the word of Senek: / for “thinges that been folily doon, and that been in hope of fortune, shullen never come to good ende.” / And as the same Senek seith: “the more cleer and the more shyning that fortune is, the more brotil and the sonner broken she is." /2640 Trusteth nat in hir, for she nis nat stidefast ne stable; / for whan thow trowest to be most seur or siker of hir help, she wol faille thee and deceyve thee. / And wher-as ye seyn that fortune hath norissed yow fro your childhede, / I seye, that in so muchel shul ye the lasse truste in hir and in hir wit. / For Senek seith: "what man that is norissed by fortune, she maketh him a greet fool." /2645 Now thanne, sin ye desyre and axe vengeance, and the vengeance that is doon after the lawe and bifore the Iuge ne lyketh yow nat, / and the vengeance that is doon in hope of fortune is perilous and uncertein, / thanne have ye noon other remedie but for to have your recours unto the sovereyn Iuge that vengeth alle vileinyes and wronges; / and he shal venge yow after that him-self witnesseth, wher-as he seith: / “leveth the vengeance to me, and I shal do it."’ /2650

2642. E. and (before siker); rest or; Hl. om. or siker.

§ 43. Melibee answerde, ‘if I ne venge me nat of the vileinye that men han doon to me, / I sompne or warne hem that han doon to me that vileinye and alle othere, to do me another vileinye. / For it is writen: “if thou take no vengeance of an old vileinye, thou sompnest thyne adversaries to do thee a newe vileinye.” / And also, for my suffrance, men wolden do to me so muchel vileinye, that I mighte neither here it ne sustene; / and so sholde I been put and holden over lowe. /2655 For men seyn: “in muchel suffringe shul manye thinges falle un-to thee whiche thou shalt nat mowe suffre."’ /

§ 44. ‘Certes,’ quod Prudence, ‘I graunte yow that over muchel suffraunce nis nat good; / but yet ne folweth it nat ther-of, that every persone to whom men doon vileinye take of it vengeance; / for that aperteneth and longeth al only to the Iuges, for they shul venge the vileinyes and iniuries. / And ther-fore tho two auctoritees that ye han seyd above, been only understonden in the Iuges; /2660 for whan they suffren over muchel the wronges and the vileinyes to be doon withouten punisshinge, / they sompne nat a man al only for to do newe wronges, but they comanden it. / Also a wys man seith: that “the Iuge that correcteth nat the sinnere comandeth and biddeth him do sinne.” / And the Iuges and sovereyns mighten in hir land so muchel suffre of the shrewes and misdoeres, / that they sholden by swich suffrance, by proces of tyme, wexen of swich power and might, that they sholden putte out the Iuges and the sovereyns from hir places, /2665 and atte laste maken hem lesen hir lordshipes. /

§ 45. But lat us now putte, that ye have leve to venge yow. / I seye ye been nat of might and power as now to venge yow. / For if ye wole maken comparisoun un-to the might of your adversaries, ye shul finde in manye thinges, that I have shewed yow er this, that hir condicioun is bettre than youres. / And therfore seye I, that it is good as now that ye suffre and be pacient. /2670

§ 46. Forther-more, ye knowen wel that, after the comune sawe, “it is a woodnesse a man to stryve with a strenger or a more mighty man than he is him-self; / and for to stryve with a man of evene strengthe, that is to seyn, with as strong a man as he, it is peril; / and for to stryve with a weyker man, it is folie.” / And therfore sholde a man flee stryvinge as muchel as he mighte. / For Salomon seith: "it is a greet worship to a man to kepen him fro noyse and stryf." /2675 And if it so bifalle or happe that a man of gretter might and strengthe than thou art do thee grevaunce, / studie and bisie thee rather to stille the same grevaunce, than for to venge thee. / For Senek seith: that “he putteth him in greet peril that stryveth with a gretter man than he is him-self.” / And Catoun seith: “if a man of hyer estaat or degree, or more mighty than thou, do thee anoy or grevaunce, suffre him; / for he that ones hath greved thee may another tyme releve thee and helpe." /2680 Yet sette I caas, ye have bothe might and licence for to venge yow. / I seye, that ther be ful manye thinges that shul restreyne yow of vengeance-takinge, / and make yow for to enclyne to suffre, and for to han pacience in the thinges that han been doon to yow. / First and foreward, if ye wole considere the defautes that been in your owene persone, / for whiche defautes god hath suffred yow have this tribulacioun, as I have seyd yow heer-biforn. /2685 For the poete seith, that “we oghte paciently taken the tribulacions that comen to us, whan we thinken and consideren that we han deserved to have hem.” / And Seint Gregorie seith: that “whan a man considereth wel the nombre of hise defautes and of his sinnes, / the peynes and the tribulaciouns that he suffreth semen the lesse un-to hym; / and in-as-muche as him thinketh hise sinnes more hevy and grevous, / in-so-muche semeth his peyne the lighter and the esier un-to him." /2690 Also ye owen to enclyne and bowe your herte to take the pacience of our lord Iesu Crist, as seith seint Peter in hise epistles: / “Iesu Crist,” he seith, “hath suffred for us, and yeven ensample to every man to folwe and sewe him; / for he dide never sinne, ne never cam ther a vileinous word out of his mouth: / whan men cursed him, he cursed hem noght; and whan men betten him, he manaced hem noght.” / Also the grete pacience, which the seintes that been in paradys han had in tribulaciouns that they han y-suffred, with-outen hir desert or gilt, /2695 oghte muchel stiren yow to pacience. / Forthermore, ye sholde enforce yow to have pacience, / consideringe that the tribulaciouns of this world but litel whyle endure, and sone passed been and goon. / And the Ioye that a man seketh to have by pacience in tribulaciouns is perdurable, after that the apostle seith in his epistle: / “the Ioye of god,” he seith, “is perdurable,” that is to seyn, everlastinge. /2700 Also troweth and bileveth stedefastly, that he nis nat wel y-norissed ne wel y-taught, that can nat have pacience or wol nat receyve pacience. / For Salomon seith: that “the doctrine and the wit of a man is knowen by pacience.” / And in another place he seith: that “he that is pacient governeth him by greet prudence.” / And the same Salomon seith: “the angry and wrathful man maketh noyses, and the pacient man atempreth hem and stilleth.” / He seith also: "it is more worth to be pacient than for to be right strong; /2705 and he that may have the lordshipe of his owene herte is more to preyse, than he that by his force or strengthe taketh grete citees.” / And therfore seith seint Iame in his epistle: that “pacience is a greet vertu of perfeccioun."’ /

2680. E. (only) puts may after tyme.   2686. E. Hn. Cp. disserued.   2698. E. Cm. goone.

§ 47. ‘Certes,’ quod Melibee, ‘I graunte yow, dame Prudence, that pacience is a greet vertu of perfeccioun; / but every man may nat have the perfeccioun that ye seken; / ne I nam nat of the nombre of right parfite men, /2710 for myn herte may never been in pees un-to the tyme it be venged. / And al-be-it so that it was greet peril to myne enemys, to do me a vileinye in takinge vengeance up-on me, / yet token they noon hede of the peril, but fulfilleden hir wikked wil and hir corage. / And therfore, me thinketh men oghten nat repreve me, though I putte me in a litel peril for to venge me, / and though I do a greet excesse, that is to seyn, that I venge oon outrage by another.’ /2715

§ 48. ‘A!’ quod dame Prudence, ‘ye seyn your wil and as yow lyketh; / but in no caas of the world a man sholde nat doon outrage ne excesse for to vengen him. / For Cassidore seith: that “as yvel doth he that vengeth him by outrage, as he that doth the outrage.” / And therfore ye shul venge yow after the ordre of right, that is to seyn by the lawe, and noght by excesse ne by outrage. / And also, if ye wol venge yow of the outrage of your adversaries in other maner than right comandeth, ye sinnen; /2720 and therfore seith Senek: that "a man shal never vengen shrewednesse by shrewednesse.” / And if ye seye, that right axeth a man to defenden violence by violence, and fighting by fighting, / certes ye seye sooth, whan the defense is doon anon with-outen intervalle or with-outen tarying or delay, / for to defenden him and nat for to vengen him. / And it bihoveth that a man putte swich attemperance in his defence, /2725 that men have no cause ne matere to repreven him that defendeth him of excesse and outrage; for elles were it agayn resoun. / Pardee, ye knowen wel, that ye maken no defence as now for to defende yow, but for to venge yow; / and so seweth it that ye han no wil to do your dede attemprely. / And therfore, me thinketh that pacience is good. For Salomon seith: that “he that is nat pacient shal have greet harm."’ /

2724-7. E. deffenden, deffense.   2728. E. sheweth; Hl. semeth; rest seweth.

§ 49. 'Certes,' quod Melibee, 'I graunte yow, that whan a man is inpacient and wroth, of that that toucheth him noght and that aperteneth nat un-to him, though it harme him, it is no wonder. /2730 For the lawe seith: that "he is coupable that entremetteth or medleth with swich thyng as aperteneth nat un-to him.” / And Salomon seith: that “he that entremetteth him of the noyse or stryf of another man, is lyk to him that taketh an hound by the eres.” / For right as he that taketh a straunge hound by the eres is outherwhyle biten with the hound, / right in the same wyse is it resoun that he have harm, that by his inpacience medleth him of the noyse of another man, wher-as it aperteneth nat un-to him. / But ye knowen wel that this dede, that is to seyn, my grief and my disese, toucheth me right ny. /2735 And therfore, though I be wroth and inpacient, it is no merveille. / And savinge your grace, I can nat seen that it mighte greetly harme me though I toke vengeaunce; / for I am richer and more mighty than myne enemys been. / And wel knowen ye, that by moneye and by havinge grete possessions been all the thinges of this world governed. / And Salomon seith: that "alle thinges obeyen to moneye."' /2740

§ 50. Whan Prudence hadde herd hir housbonde avanten him of his richesse and of his moneye, dispreisinge the power of hise adversaries, she spak, and seyde in this wyse: / ‘certes, dere sir, I graunte yow that ye been rich and mighty, / and that the richesses been goode to hem that han wel y-geten hem and wel conne usen hem. / For right as the body of a man may nat liven with-oute the soule, namore may it live with-outen temporel goodes. / And by richesses may a man gete him grete freendes. /2745 And therfore seith Pamphilles: "if a net-herdes doghter," seith he, "be riche, she may chesen of a thousand men which she wol take to hir housbonde; / for, of a thousand men, oon wol nat forsaken hir ne refusen hir.” / And this Pamphilles seith also: “if thou be right happy, that is to seyn, if thou be right riche, thou shalt find a greet nombre of felawes and freendes. / And if thy fortune change that thou wexe povre, farewel freendshipe and felaweshipe; / for thou shalt be allone with-outen any companye, but-if it be the companye of povre folk." /2750 And yet seith this Pamphilles moreover: that "they that been thralle and bonde of linage shullen been maad worthy and noble by the richesses." / And right so as by richesses ther comen manye goodes, right so by poverte come ther manye harmes and yveles. / For greet poverte constreyneth a man to do manye yveles. / And therfore clepeth Cassidore poverte “the moder of ruine,” / that is to seyn, the moder of overthrowinge or fallinge doun. /2755 And therfore seith Piers Alfonce: "oon of the gretteste adversitees of this world is / whan a free man, by kinde or by burthe, is constreyned by poverte to eten the almesse of his enemy.” / And the same seith Innocent in oon of hise bokes; he seith: that “sorweful and mishappy is the condicioun of a povre begger; / for if he axe nat his mete, he dyeth for hunger; / and if he axe, he dyeth for shame; and algates necessitee constreyneth him to axe." /2760 And therfore seith Salomon: that "bet it is to dye than for to have swich poverte." / And as the same Salomon seith: “bettre it is to dye of bitter deeth than for to liven in swich wyse.” / By thise resons that I have seid un-to yow, and by manye othere resons that I coude seye, / I graunte yow that richesses been goode to hem that geten hem wel, and to hem that wel usen tho richesses. / And therfore wol I shewe yow how ye shul have yow, and how ye shul here yow in gaderinge of richesses, and in what manere ye shul usen hem. /2765

2744. E. tempered.   2745. by] E. for.   2746. All Pamphilles.   Hn. Hl. which she . . . housbonde; rest om.   2750. E. Hn. al alloone; rest omit al.

§ 51. First, ye shul geten hem with-outen greet desyr, by good leyser sokingly, and nat over hastily. / For a man that is to desyringe to gete richesses abaundoneth him first to thefte and to alle other yveles. / And therfore seith Salomon: “he that hasteth him to bisily to wexe riche shal be noon innocent.” / He seith also: that “the richesse that hastily cometh to a man, sone and lightly gooth and passeth fro a man; / but that richesse that cometh litel and litel wexeth alwey and multiplyeth." /2770 And sir, ye shul geten richesses by your wit and by your travaille un-to your profit; / and that with-outen wrong or harm-doinge to any other persone. / For the lawe seith: that “ther maketh no man himselven riche, if he do harm to another wight;” / this is to seyn, that nature defendeth and forbedeth by right, that no man make him-self riche un-to the harm of another persone. / And Tullius seith: that “no sorwe ne no drede of deeth, ne no-thing that may falle un-to a man /2775 is so muchel agayns nature, as a man to encressen his owene profit to the harm of another man. / And though the grete men and the mighty men geten richesses more lightly than thou, / yet shaltou nat been ydel ne slow to do thy profit; for thou shalt in alle wyse flee ydelnesse.” / For Salomon seith: that “ydelnesse techeth a man to do manye yveles.” / And the same Salomon seith: that "he that travailleth and bisieth him to tilien his land, shal eten breed; /2780 but he that is ydel and casteth him to no bisinesse ne occupacioun, shal falle in-to poverte, and dye for hunger.” / And he that is ydel and slow can never finde covenable tyme for to doon his profit. / For ther is a versifiour seith: that “the ydel man excuseth hym in winter, by cause of the grete cold; and in somer, by enchesoun of the hete.” / For thise causes seith Caton: “waketh and enclyneth nat yow over muchel for to slepe; for over muchel reste norisseth and causeth manye vices.” / And therfore seith seint Ierome: “doth somme gode dedes, that the devel which is our enemy ne finde yow nat unoccupied.” /2785 For the devel ne taketh nat lightly un-to his werkinge swiche as he findeth occupied in gode werkes. /

2766. E. Hn. sekyngly; rest sokyngly.   2785. E. goodes; rest goode dedes.

§ 52. Thanne thus, in getinge richesses, ye mosten flee ydelnesse. / And afterward, ye shul use the richesses, whiche ye have geten by your wit and by your travaille, / in swich a manere, that men holde nat yow to scars, ne to sparinge, ne to fool-large, that is to seyn, over-large a spender. / For right as men blamen an avaricious man by-cause of his scarsetee and chincherye, /2790 in the same wyse is he to blame that spendeth over largely. / And therfore seith Caton: “use,” he seith, “thy richesses that thou hast geten / in swich a manere, that men have no matere ne cause to calle thee neither wrecche ne chinche; / for it is a greet shame to a man to have a povere herte and a riche purs.” / He seith also: "the goodes that thou hast y-geten, use hem by mesure," that is to seyn, spende hem mesurably; /2795 for they that folily wasten and despenden the goodes that they han, / whan they han namore propre of hir owene, they shapen hem to take the goodes of another man. / I seye thanne, that ye shul fleen avarice; / usinge your richesses in swich manere, that men seye nat that your richesses been y-buried, / but that ye have hem in [230]your might and in your weeldinge. /2800 For a wys man repreveth the avaricious man, and seith thus, in two vers: / “wherto and why burieth a man hise goodes by his grete avarice, and knoweth wel that nedes moste he dye; / for deeth is the ende of every man as in this present lyf.” / And for what cause or enchesoun Ioyneth he him or knitteth he him so faste un-to hise goodes, / that alle his wittes mowen nat disseveren him or departen him from hise goodes; /2805 and knoweth wel, or oghte knowe, that whan he is deed, he shal no-thing bere with him out of this world. / And ther-fore seith seint Augustin: that “the avaricious man is likned un-to helle; / that the more it swelweth, the more desyr it hath to swelwe and devoure.” / And as wel as ye wolde eschewe to be called an avaricious man or chinche, / as wel sholde ye kepe yow and governe yow in swich a wyse that men calle yow nat fool-large. /2810 Therfore seith Tullius: "the goodes," he seith, "of thyn hous ne sholde nat been hid, ne kept so cloos but that they mighte been opened by pitee and debonairetee;” / that is to seyn, to yeven part to hem that han greet nede; / “ne thy goodes shullen nat been so opene, to been every mannes goodes.” / Afterward, in getinge of your richesses and in usinge hem, ye shul alwey have three thinges in your herte; / that is to seyn, our lord god, conscience, and good name. /2815 First, ye shul have god in your herte; / and for no richesse ye shullen do nothing, which may in any manere displese god, that is your creatour and maker. / For after the word of Salomon: “it is bettre to have a litel good with the love of god, / than to have muchel good and tresour, and lese the love of his lord god." / And the prophete seith: that "bettre it is to been a good man and have litel good and tresour, /2820 than to been holden a shrewe and have grete richesses.” / And yet seye I ferthermore, that ye sholde alwey doon your bisinesse to gete yow richesses, / so that ye gete hem with good conscience. / And thapostle seith: that “ther nis thing in this world, of which we sholden have so greet Ioye as whan our conscience bereth us good witnesse.” / And the wyse man seith: "the substance of a man is ful good, whan sinne is nat in mannes conscience." /2825 Afterward, in getinge of your richesses, and in usinge of hem, / yow moste have greet bisinesse and greet diligence, that your goode name be alwey kept and conserved. / For Salomon seith: that “bettre it is and more it availleth a man to have a good name, than for to have grete richesses." / And therfore he seith in another place: “do greet diligence,” seith Salomon, “in keping of thy freend and of thy gode name; / for it shal lenger abide with thee than any tresour, be it never so precious." /2830 And certes he sholde nat be called a gentil man, that after god and good conscience, alle thinges left, ne dooth his diligence and bisinesse to kepen his good name. / And Cassidore seith: that “it is signe of a gentil herte, whan a man loveth and desyreth to han a good name.” / And therfore seith seint Augustin: that “ther been two thinges that arn necessarie and nedefulle, / and that is good conscience and good loos; / that is to seyn, good conscience to thyn owene persone inward, and good loos for thy neighebore outward." /2835 And he that trusteth him so muchel in his gode conscience, / that he displeseth and setteth at noght his gode name or loos, and rekketh noght though he kepe nat his gode name, nis but a cruel cherl. /

2790. E. chyngerie; Hn. Cm. Pt. Hl. chyncherye.   2837. E. crueel.

§ 53. Sire, now have I shewed yow how ye shul do in getinge richesses, and how ye shullen usen hem; / and I se wel, that for the trust that ye han in youre richesses, ye wole moeve werre and bataille. / I conseille yow, that ye biginne no werre in trust of your richesses; for they ne suffysen noght werres to mayntene. /2840 And therfore seith a philosophre: “that man that desyreth and wole algates han werre, shal never have suffisaunce; / for the richer that he is, the gretter despenses moste he make, if he wole have worship and victorie.” / And Salomon seith: that “the gretter richesses that a man hath, the mo despendours he hath.” / And dere sire, al-be-it so that for your richesses ye mowe have muchel folk, / yet bihoveth it nat, ne it is nat good, to biginne werre, where-as ye mowe in other manere have pees, un-to your worship and profit. /2845 For the victories of batailles that been in this world, lyen nat in greet nombre or multitude of the peple ne in the vertu of man; / but it lyth in the wil and in the hand of our lord god almighty. / And therfore Iudas Machabeus, which was goddes knight, / whan he sholde fighte agayn his adversarie that hadde a greet nombre, and a gretter multitude of folk and strenger than was this peple of Machabee, / yet he reconforted his litel companye, and seyde right in this wyse: /2850 "als lightly," quod he, "may our lord god almighty yeve victorie to a fewe folk as to many folk; / for the victorie of bataile cometh nat by the grete [232]nombre of peple, / but it cometh from our lord god of hevene.” / And dere sir, for as muchel as there is no man certein, if he be worthy that god yeve him victorie, [namore than he is certein whether he be worthy of the love of god] or naught, after that Salomon seith, / therfore every man sholde greetly drede werres to biginne. /2855 And by-cause that in batailles fallen manye perils, / and happeth outher-while, that as sone is the grete man sleyn as the litel man; / and, as it is written in the seconde book of Kinges, “the dedes of batailles been aventurouse and nothing certeyne;” / for as lightly is oon hurt with a spere as another. / And for ther is gret peril in werre, therfore sholde a man flee and eschewe werre, in as muchel as a man may goodly. /2860 For Salomon seith: “he that loveth peril shal falle in peril."’ /

2852. E. Hn. a bataile; rest om. a.   E. comth.   2853. E. come; rest cometh.   2854. E. he be; rest it be.   I supply from namore to god; see Note.

§ 54. After that Dame Prudence hadde spoken in this manere, Melibee answerde and seyde, / ‘I see wel, dame Prudence, that by your faire wordes and by your resons that ye han shewed me, that the werre lyketh yow no-thing; / but I have nat yet herd your conseil, how I shal do in this nede.’ /

§ 55. ‘Certes,’ quod she, ‘I conseille yow that ye accorde with youre adversaries, and that ye haue pees with hem. /2865 For seint Iame seith in hise epistles: that "by concord and pees the smale richesses wexen grete, / and by debaat and discord the grete richesses fallen doun.” / And ye knowen wel that oon of the gretteste and most sovereyn thing, that is in this world, is unitee and pees. / And therfore seyde oure lord Iesu Crist to hise apostles in this wyse: / “wel happy and blessed been they that loven and purchacen pees; for they been called children of god."’ /2870 'A!' quod Melibee, 'now se I wel that ye loven nat myn honour ne my worshipe. / Ye knowen wel that myne adversaries han bigonnen this debaat and brige by hir outrage; / and ye see wel that they ne requeren ne preyen me nat of pees, ne they asken nat to be reconsiled. / Wol ye thanne that I go and meke me and obeye me to hem, and crye hem mercy? / For sothe, that were nat my worship. /2875 For right as men seyn, that “over-greet homlinesse engendreth dispreysinge,” so fareth it by to greet humylitee or mekenesse.’ /

2866. seint Iame] F. text, Seneques.   2872. E. bryge; Hn. Cm. Hl. brige; Cp. Pt. brigge (F. text, brigue).

§ 56. Thanne bigan dame Prudence to maken semblant of wratthe, and seyde, / ‘certes, sir, sauf your grace, I love your honour and your profit as I do myn owene, and ever have doon; / ne ye ne noon other syen never the contrarie. / And yit, if I hadde seyd that ye sholde han purchaced the pees and the reconsiliacioun, I ne hadde nat muchel mistaken me, ne seyd amis. /2880 For the wyse man seith: "the dissensioun biginneth by another man, and the reconsiling bi-ginneth by thy-self.” / And the prophete seith: “flee shrewednesse and do goodnesse; / seke pees and folwe it, as muchel as in thee is.” / Yet seye I nat that ye shul rather pursue to your adversaries for pees than they shuln to yow; / for I knowe wel that ye been so hard-herted, that ye wol do no-thing for me. /2885 And Salomon seith: “he that hath over-hard an herte, atte laste he shal mishappe and mistyde."’ /

§ 57. Whanne Melibee hadde herd dame Prudence maken semblant of wratthe, he seyde in this wyse, / ‘dame, I prey yow that ye be nat displesed of thinges that I seye; / for ye knowe wel that I am angry and wrooth, and that is no wonder; / and they that been wrothe witen nat wel what they doon, ne what they seyn. /2890 Therfore the prophete seith: that “troubled eyen han no cleer sighte.” / But seyeth and conseileth me as yow lyketh; for I am redy to do right as ye wol desyre; / and if ye repreve me of my folye, I am the more holden to love yow and to preyse yow. / For Salomon seith: that “he that repreveth him that doth folye, / he shal finde gretter grace than he that deceyveth him by swete wordes."’ /2895

2893. to preyse] E. om. to.

§ 58. Thanne seide dame Prudence, ‘I make no semblant of wratthe ne anger but for your grete profit. / For Salomon seith: “he is more worth, that repreveth or chydeth a fool for his folye, shewinge him semblant of wratthe, / than he that supporteth him and preyseth him in his misdoinge, and laugheth at his folye.” / And this same Salomon seith afterward: that “by the sorweful visage of a man,” that is to seyn, by the sory and hevy countenaunce of a man, / “the fool correcteth and amendeth him-self."' /2900

2898. E. peyseth (for preyseth).

§ 59. Thanne seyde Melibee, ‘I shal nat conne answere to so manye faire resouns as ye putten to me and shewen. / Seyeth shortly your wil and your conseil, and I am al ready to fulfille and parfourne it.’ /

§ 60. Thanne dame Prudence discovered al hir wil to him, and seyde, / ‘I conseille yow,’ quod she, ‘aboven alle thinges, that ye make pees bitwene god and yow; / and beth reconsiled un-to him and to his grace. /2905 For as I have seyd yow heer-biforn, god hath suffred yow to have this tribulacioun and disese for your sinnes. / And if ye do as I sey yow, god wol sende your adversaries un-to yow, / and maken hem fallen at your feet, redy to do your wil and your comandements. / For Salomon seith: “whan the condicioun of man is plesaunt and likinge to god, / he chaungeth the hertes of the mannes adversaries, and constreyneth hem to biseken him of pees and of grace." /2910 And I prey yow, lat me speke with your adversaries in privee place; / for they shul nat knowe that it be of your wil or your assent. / And thanne, whan I knowe hir wil and hir entente, I may conseille yow the more seurly.’ /

2913. E. seurely; Hn. Cp. Hl. seurly.

§ 61. ‘Dame,’ quod Melibee, ‘dooth your wil and your lykinge, / for I putte me hoolly in your disposicioun and ordinaunce.' /2915

§ 62. Thanne Dame Prudence, whan she saugh the gode wil of her housbonde, delibered and took avys in hir-self, / thinkinge how she mighte bringe this nede un-to a good conclusioun and to a good ende. / And whan she saugh hir tyme, she sente for thise adversaries to come un-to hir in-to a privee place, / and shewed wysly un-to hem the grete goodes that comen of pees, / and the grete harmes and perils that been in werre; /2920 and seyde to hem in a goodly manere, how that hem oughte have greet repentaunce / of the iniurie and wrong that they hadden doon to Melibee hir lord, and to hir, and to hir doghter. /

2921. Cm. oughte; Cp. Hl. aughte; rest oughten.

§ 63. And whan they herden the goodliche wordes of dame Prudence, / they weren so surprised and ravisshed, and hadden so greet Ioye of hir, that wonder was to telle. / ‘A! lady!’ quod they, ‘ye han shewed un-to us “the blessinge of swetnesse,” after the sawe of David the prophete; /2925 for the reconsilinge which we been nat worthy to have in no manere, / but we oghte requeren it with greet contricioun and humilitee, / ye of your grete goodnesse have presented unto us. / Now see we wel that the science and the conninge of Salomon is ful trewe; / for he seith: that “swete wordes multiplyen and encresen freendes, and maken shrewes to be debonaire and meke." /2930

2924. Hl. surprised; Cm. suppreysed; rest supprised.

§ 64. ‘Certes,’ quod they, ‘we putten our dede and al our matere and cause al hoolly in your goode wil; / and been redy to obeye to the speche and comandement of my lord Melibee. / And therfore, dere and benigne lady, we preyen yow and biseke yow as mekely as we conne and mowen, / that it lyke un-to your grete goodnesse to fulfillen in dede your goodliche wordes; / for we consideren and knowlichen that we han offended and greved my lord Melibee out of mesure; /2935 so ferforth, that we be nat of power to maken hise amendes. / And therfore we oblige and binden us and our freendes to doon al his wil and hise comandements. / But peraventure he hath swich hevinesse and swich wratthe to us-ward, by-cause of our offence, / that he wole enioyne us swich a peyne as we mowe nat here ne sustene. / And therfore, noble lady, we biseke to your wommanly pitee, /2940 to taken swich avysement in this nede, that we, ne our freendes, be nat desherited ne destroyed thurgh our folye.’ /

§ 65. ‘Certes,’ quod Prudence, ‘it is an hard thing and right perilous, / that a man putte him al outrely in the arbitracioun and Iuggement, and in the might and power of hise enemys. / For Salomon seith: “leveth me, and yeveth credence to that I shal seyn; I seye,” quod he, “ye peple, folk, and governours of holy chirche, / to thy sone, to thy wyf, to thy freend, ne to thy brother /2945 ne yeve thou never might ne maistrie of thy body, whyl thou livest.” / Now sithen he defendeth, that man shal nat yeven to his brother ne to his freend the might of his body, / by a strenger resoun he defendeth and forbedeth a man to yeven him-self to his enemy. / And nathelees I conseille you, that ye mistruste nat my lord. / For I wool wel and knowe verraily, that he is debonaire and meke, large, curteys, /2950 and nothing desyrous ne coveitous of good ne richesse. / For ther nis no-thing in this world that he desyreth, save only worship and honour. / Forther-more I knowe wel, and am right seur, that he shal no-thing doon in this nede with-outen my conseil. / And I shal so werken in this cause, that, by grace of our lord god, ye shul been reconsiled un-to us.’ /

§ 66. Thanne seyden they with o vois, ‘worshipful lady, we putten us and our goodes al fully in your wil and disposicioun; /2955 and been redy to comen, what day that it lyke un-to your noblesse to limite us or assigne us, / for to maken our obligacioun and bond as strong as it lyketh un-to your goodnesse; / that we mowe fulfille the wille of yow and of my lord Melibee.’ /

§ 67. Whan dame Prudence hadde herd the answeres of thise men, she bad hem goon agayn prively; / and she retourned to hir lord Melibee, and tolde him how she fond hise adversaries ful repentant, /2960 knowlechinge ful lowely hir sinnes and trespas, and how they were redy to suffren al peyne, / requiringe and preyinge him of mercy and pitee. /

§ 68. Thanne seyde Melibee, ‘he is wel worthy to have pardoun and foryifnesse of his sinne, that excuseth nat his sinne, / but knowlecheth it and repenteth him, axinge indulgence. / For Senek seith: “ther is the remissioun and foryifnesse, where-as confessioun is;" /2965 for confession is neighebore to innocence. / And he seith in another place: “he that hath shame for his sinne and knowlecheth it, is worthy remissioun.” And therfore I assente and conferme me to have pees; / but it is good that we do it nat with-outen the assent and wil of our freendes.’ /

2967. E. Cm. omit from And he to remissioun; Hn. Cp. Hl. om. only is worthy remissioun, which occurs in Pt., where Ln. has is worthi haue mercy.   E. corforme (sic); rest conferme.

§ 69. Thanne was Prudence right glad and loyeful, and seyde, / ‘Certes, sir,’ quod she, ‘ye han wel and goodly answered. /2970 For right as by the conseil, assent, and help of your freendes, ye han been stired to venge yow and maken werre, / right so with-outen hir conseil shul ye nat accorden yow, ne have pees with your adversaries. / For the lawe seith: “ther nis no-thing so good by wey of kinde, as a thing to been unbounde by him that it was y-bounde."’ /

§ 70. And thanne dame Prudence, with-outen delay or taryinge, sente anon hir messages for hir kin, and for hir olde freendes whiche that were trewe and wyse, / and tolde hem by ordre, in the presence of Melibee, al this matere as it is aboven expressed and declared; /2975 and preyden hem that they wolde yeven hir avys and conseil, what best were to doon in this nede. / And whan Melibees freendes hadde taken hir avys and deliberacioun of the forseide matere, / and hadden examined it by greet bisinesse and greet diligence, / they yave ful conseil for to have pees and reste; / and that Melibee sholde receyve with good herte hise adversaries to foryifnesse and mercy. /2980

2976. E. om. hem.

§ 71. And whan dame Prudence hadde herd the assent of hir lord Melibee, and the conseil of hise freendes, / accorde with hir wille and hir entencioun, / she was wonderly glad in hir herte, and seyde: / ‘ther is an old proverbe,’ quod she, ‘seith: that “the goodnesse that thou mayst do this day, do it; / and abyde nat ne delaye it nat til to-morwe." /2985 And therfore I conseille that ye sende your messages, swiche as been discrete and wyse, / un-to your adversaries; tellinge hem, on your bihalve, / that if they wole trete of pees and of accord, / that they shape hem, with-outen delay or tarying, to comen un-to us.’ / Which thing parfourned was in dede. /2990 And whanne thise trespassours and repentinge folk of hir folies, that is to seyn, the adversaries of Melibee, / hadden herd what thise messagers seyden un-to hem, / they weren right glad and Ioyeful, and answereden ful mekely and benignely, / yeldinge graces and thankinges to hir lord Melibee and to al his companye; / and shopen hem, with-outen delay, to go with the messagers, and obeye to the comandement of hir lord Melibee. /2995

§ 72. And right anon they token hir wey to the court of Melibee, / and token with hem somme of hir trewe freendes, to maken feith for hem and for to been hir borwes. / And whan they were comen to the presence of Melibee, he seyde hem thise wordes: / ‘it standeth thus,’ quod Melibee, ‘and sooth it is, that ye, / causeless, and with-outen skile and resoun, /3000 han doon grete iniuries and wronges to me and to my wyf Prudence, and to my doghter also. / For ye han entred in-to myn hous by violence, / and have doon swich outrage, that alle men knowen wel that ye have deserved the deeth; / and therfore wol I knowe and wite of yow, / whether ye wol putte the punissement and the chastysinge and the vengeance of this outrage in the wil of me and of my wyf Prudence; or ye wol nat?' /3005

3003. E. disserued.

§ 73. Thanne the wyseste of hem three answerde for hem alle, and seyde: / ‘sire,’ quod he, ‘we knowen wel, that we been unworthy to comen un-to the court of so greet a lord and so worthy as ye been. / For we han so greetly mistaken us, and han offended and agilt in swich a wyse agayn your heigh lordshipe, / that trewely we han deserved the deeth. / But yet, for the grete goodnesse and debonairetee that all the world witnesseth of your persone, /3010 we submitten us to the excellence and benignitee of your gracious lordshipe, / and been redy to obeie to alle your comandements; / bisekinge yow, that of your merciable pitee ye wol considere our grete repentaunce and lowe submissioun, / and graunten us foryevenesse of our outrageous trespas and offence. / For wel we knowe, that your liberal grace and mercy strecchen hem ferther in-to goodnesse, than doon our outrageouse giltes and trespas in-to wikkednesse; /3015 al-be-it that cursedly and dampnably we han agilt agayn your heigh lordshipe.’ /

3005. E. wheither.   3009. E. disserued.   3010. of] E. in.   3013. E. lough; rest lowe.   3016. E. Hn. dampnablely.

§ 74. Thanne Melibee took hem up fro the ground ful benignely, / and receyved hir obligaciouns and hir bondes by hir othes up-on hir plegges and borwes, / and assigned hem a certeyn day to retourne un-to his court, / for to accepte and receyve the sentence and Iugement that Melibee wolde comande to be doon on hem by the causes afore-seyd; /3020 whiche thinges ordeyned, every man retourned to his hous. /

§ 75. And whan that dame Prudence saugh hir tyme, she freyned and axed hir lord Melibee, / what vengeance he thoughte to taken of hise adversaries? /

§ 76. To which Melibee answerde and seyde, ‘certes,’ quod he, ‘I thinke and purpose me fully / to desherite hem of al that ever they han, and for to putte hem in exil for ever.' /3025

§ 77. ‘Certes,’ quod dame Prudence, ‘this were a cruel sentence, and muchel agayn resoun. / For ye been riche y-nough, and han no nede of other mennes good; / and ye mighte lightly in this wyse gete yow a coveitous name, / which is a vicious thing, and oghte been eschewed of every good man. / For after the sawe of the word of the apostle: “coveitise is rote of alle harmes." /3030 And therfore, it were bettre for yow to lese so muchel good of your owene, than for to taken of hir good in this manere. / For bettre it is to lesen good with worshipe, than it is to winne good with vileinye and shame. / And every man oghte to doon his diligence and his bisinesse to geten him a good name. / And yet shal he nat only bisie him in kepinge of his good name, / but he shal also enforcen him alwey to do som-thing by which he may renovelle his good name; /3035 for it is writen, that "the olde good loos or good name of a man is sone goon and passed, whan it is nat newed ne renovelled.” / And as touchinge that ye seyn, ye wole exile your adversaries, / that thinketh me muchel agayn resoun and out of mesure, / considered the power that they han yeve yow [239]up-on hem-self. / And it is writen, that "he is worthy to lesen his privilege that misuseth the might and the power that is yeven him." /3040 And I sette cas ye mighte enioyne hem that peyne by right and by lawe, / which I trowe ye mowe nat do, / I seye, ye mighte nat putten it to execucioun per-aventure, / and thanne were it lykly to retourne to the werre as it was biforn. / And therfore, if ye wole that men do yow obeisance, ye moste demen more curteisly; /3045 this is to seyn, ye moste yeven more esy sentences and Iugements. / For it is writen, that “he that most curteisly comandeth, to him men most obeyen.” / And therfore, I prey yow that in this necessitee and in this nede, ye caste yow to overcome your herte. / For Senek seith: that “he that overcometh his herte, overcometh twyes." / And Tullius seith: "ther is nothing so comendable in a greet lord /3050 as whan he is debonaire and meke, and appeseth him lightly.” / And I prey yow that ye wole forbere now to do vengeance, / in swich a manere, that your goode name may be kept and conserved; / and that men mowe have cause and matere to preyse yow of pitee and of mercy; / and that ye have no cause to repente yow of thing that ye doon. /3055 For Senek seith: “he overcometh in an yvel manere, that repenteth him of his victorie.” / Wherfore I pray yow, lat mercy been in your minde and in your herte, / to theffect and entente that god almighty have mercy on yow in his laste Iugement. / For seint Iame seith in his epistle: “Iugement withouten mercy shal be doon to him, that hath no mercy of another wight."’ /

3026. E. crueel.   3032. E. om. good (twice).   3036. or] E. and.   3051. E. om. him.   3057. E. in youre mynde and; rest om.

§ 78. Whanne Melibee hadde herd the grete skiles and resouns of dame Prudence, and hir wise informaciouns and techinges, /3060 his herte gan enclyne to the wil of his wyf, consideringe hir trewe entente; / and conformed him anon, and assented fully to werken after hir conseil; / and thonked god, of whom procedeth al vertu and alle goodnesse, that him sente a wyf of so greet discrecioun. / And whan the day cam that hise adversaries sholde apperen in his presence, / he spak unto hem ful goodly, and seyde in this wyse: /3065 'al-be-it so that of your pryde and presumpcioun and folie, and of your necligence and unconninge, / ye have misborn yow and trespassed un-to me; / yet, for as much as I see and biholde your grete humilitee, / and that ye been sory and repentant of your giltes, / it constreyneth me to doon yow grace and mercy. /3070 Therfore I receyve yow to my grace, / and foryeve yow outrely alle the offences, iniuries, and wronges, that ye have doon agayn me and myne; / to this effect and to this ende, that god of his endelees mercy / wole at the tyme of our dyinge foryeven us our giltes that we han trespassed to him in this wrecched world. / For doutelees, if we be sory and repentant of the sinnes and giltes whiche we han trespassed in the sighte of our lord god, /3075 he is so free and so merciable, / that he wole foryeven us our giltes, / and bringen us to his blisse that never hath ende. Amen.' /3078

Here is ended Chaucers Tale of Melibee and of Dame Prudence.

3064 E. Hn., appieren.   3078. E. his; Hn. Pt. Hl. the; Cp. Ln. thilke.   After ende, Cp. Ln. have this spurious couplet:—

To whiche blisse he us bringe

That blood on crosse for us gan springe,

followed by — Qui cum patre, &c.

Colophon. From E.; Hn. has — Here is endid Chaucers tale of Melibe; Hl. has — Here endith Chaucer his tale of Melibe.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/chaucer/canterbury/skeat/chapter11.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37