Confessio Amantis, by John Gower

Incipit Liber Secundus

Inuidie culpa magis est attrita dolore,

     Nam sua mens nullo tempore leta manet:

Quo gaudent alii, dolet ille, nec vnus amicus

     Est, cui de puro comoda velle facit.

Proximitatis honor sua corda veretur, et omnis

     Est sibi leticia sic aliena dolor.

Hoc etenim vicium quam sepe repugnat amanti,

     Non sibi, set reliquis, dum fauet ipsa Venus.

Est amor ex proprio motu fantasticus, et que

     Gaudia fert alius, credit obesse sibi.

Now after Pride the secounde

Ther is, which many a woful stounde

Towardes othre berth aboute

Withinne himself and noght withoute;

For in his thoght he brenneth evere,

Whan that he wot an other levere

Or more vertuous than he,

Which passeth him in his degre;

Therof he takth his maladie:

10That vice is cleped hot Envie.

Forthi, my Sone, if it be so

Thou art or hast ben on of tho,

As forto speke in loves cas,

If evere yit thin herte was

Sek of an other mannes hele?

So god avance my querele,

Mi fader, ye, a thousend sithe:

Whanne I have sen an other blithe

Of love, and hadde a goodly chiere,

20Ethna, which brenneth yer be yere,

Was thanne noght so hot as I

Of thilke Sor which prively

Min hertes thoght withinne brenneth.

The Schip which on the wawes renneth,

And is forstormed and forblowe,

Is noght more peined for a throwe

Than I am thanne, whanne I se

An other which that passeth me

In that fortune of loves yifte.

30Bot, fader, this I telle in schrifte,

That is nowher bot in o place;

For who that lese or finde grace

In other stede, it mai noght grieve:

Bot this ye mai riht wel believe,

Toward mi ladi that I serve,

Thogh that I wiste forto sterve,

Min herte is full of such sotie,

That I myself mai noght chastie.

Whan I the Court se of Cupide

40Aproche unto my ladi side

Of hem that lusti ben and freisshe,-

Thogh it availe hem noght a reisshe,

Bot only that thei ben in speche,-

My sorwe is thanne noght to seche:

Bot whan thei rounen in hire Ere,

Than groweth al my moste fere,

And namly whan thei talen longe;

My sorwes thanne be so stronge

Of that I se hem wel at ese,

50I can noght telle my desese.

Bot, Sire, as of my ladi selve,

Thogh sche have wowers ten or twelve,

For no mistrust I have of hire

Me grieveth noght, for certes, Sire,

I trowe, in al this world to seche,

Nis womman that in dede and speche

Woll betre avise hire what sche doth,

Ne betre, forto seie a soth,

Kepe hire honour ate alle tide,

60And yit get hire a thank beside.

Bot natheles I am beknowe,

That whanne I se at eny throwe,

Or elles if I mai it hiere,

That sche make eny man good chiere,

Thogh I therof have noght to done,

Mi thought wol entermette him sone.

For thogh I be miselve strange,

Envie makth myn herte change,

That I am sorghfully bestad

70Of that I se an other glad

With hire; bot of other alle,

Of love what so mai befalle,

Or that he faile or that he spede,

Therof take I bot litel heede.

Now have I seid, my fader, al

As of this point in special,

Als ferforthli as I have wist.

Now axeth further what you list.

Mi Sone, er I axe eny more,

80I thenke somdiel for thi lore

Telle an ensample of this matiere

Touchende Envie, as thou schalt hiere.

Write in Civile this I finde:

Thogh it be noght the houndes kinde

To ete chaf, yit wol he werne

An Oxe which comth to the berne,

Therof to taken eny fode.

And thus, who that it understode,

It stant of love in many place:

90Who that is out of loves grace

And mai himselven noght availe,

He wolde an other scholde faile;

And if he may put eny lette,

He doth al that he mai to lette.

Wherof I finde, as thou schalt wite,

To this pourpos a tale write.

Ther ben of suche mo than twelve,

That ben noght able as of hemselve

To gete love, and for Envie

100Upon alle othre thei aspie;

And for hem lacketh that thei wolde,

Thei kepte that non other scholde

Touchende of love his cause spede:

Wherof a gret ensample I rede,

Which unto this matiere acordeth,

As Ovide in his bok recordeth,

How Poliphemus whilom wroghte,

Whan that he Galathee besoghte

Of love, which he mai noght lacche.

110That made him forto waite and wacche

Be alle weies how it ferde,

Til ate laste he knew and herde

How that an other hadde leve

To love there as he mot leve,

As forto speke of eny sped:

So that he knew non other red,

Bot forto wayten upon alle,

Til he may se the chance falle

That he hire love myhte grieve,

120Which he himself mai noght achieve.

This Galathee, seith the Poete,

Above alle othre was unmete

Of beaute, that men thanne knewe,

And hadde a lusti love and trewe,

A Bacheler in his degree,

Riht such an other as was sche,

On whom sche hath hire herte set,

So that it myhte noght be let

For yifte ne for no beheste,

130That sche ne was al at his heste.

This yonge knyht Acis was hote,

Which hire ayeinward als so hote

Al only loveth and nomo.

Hierof was Poliphemus wo

Thurgh pure Envie, and evere aspide,

And waiteth upon every side,

Whan he togedre myhte se

This yonge Acis with Galathe.

So longe he waiteth to and fro,

140Til ate laste he fond hem tuo,

In prive place wher thei stode

To speke and have here wordes goode.

The place wher as he hem syh,

It was under a banke nyh

The grete See, and he above

Stod and behield the lusti love

Which ech of hem to other made

With goodly chiere and wordes glade,

That al his herte hath set afyre

150Of pure Envie: and as a fyre

Which fleth out of a myhti bowe,

Aweie he fledde for a throwe,

As he that was for love wod,

Whan that he sih how that it stod.

This Polipheme a Geant was;

And whan he sih the sothe cas,

How Galathee him hath forsake

And Acis to hire love take,

His herte mai it noght forbere

160That he ne roreth lich a Bere;

And as it were a wilde beste,

The whom no reson mihte areste,

He ran Ethna the hell aboute,

Wher nevere yit the fyr was oute,

Fulfild of sorghe and gret desese,

That he syh Acis wel at ese.

Til ate laste he him bethoghte,

As he which al Envie soghte,

And torneth to the banke ayein,

170Wher he with Galathee hath seyn

Acis, whom that he thoghte grieve,

Thogh he himself mai noght relieve.

This Geant with his ruide myht

Part of the banke he schof doun riht,

The which evene upon Acis fell,

So that with fallinge of this hell

This Poliphemus Acis slowh,

Wherof sche made sorwe ynowh.

And as sche fledde fro the londe,

180Neptunus tok hire into honde

And kept hire in so sauf a place

Fro Polipheme and his manace,

That he with al his false Envie

Ne mihte atteigne hir compaignie.

This Galathee of whom I speke,

That of hirself mai noght be wreke,

Withouten eny semblant feigned

Sche hath hire loves deth compleigned,

And with hire sorwe and with hire wo

190Sche hath the goddes moeved so,

That thei of pite and of grace

Have Acis in the same place,

Ther he lai ded, into a welle

Transformed, as the bokes telle,

With freisshe stremes and with cliere,

As he whilom with lusti chiere

Was freissh his love forto qweme.

And with this ruide Polipheme

For his Envie and for his hate

200Thei were wrothe. And thus algate,

Mi Sone, thou myht understonde,

That if thou wolt in grace stonde

With love, thou most leve Envie:

And as thou wolt for thi partie

Toward thi love stonde fre,

So most thou soffre an other be,

What so befalle upon the chaunce:

For it is an unwys vengance,

Which to non other man is lief,

210And is unto himselve grief.

Mi fader, this ensample is good;

Bot how so evere that it stod

With Poliphemes love as tho,

It schal noght stonde with me so,

To worchen eny felonie

In love for no such Envie.

Forthi if ther oght elles be,

Now axeth forth, in what degre

It is, and I me schal confesse

220With schrifte unto youre holinesse.

Mi goode Sone, yit ther is

A vice revers unto this,

Which envious takth his gladnesse

Of that he seth the hevinesse

Of othre men: for his welfare

Is whanne he wot an other care:

Of that an other hath a fall,

He thenkth himself arist withal.

Such is the gladschipe of Envie

230In worldes thing, and in partie

Fulofte times ek also

In loves cause it stant riht so.

If thou, my Sone, hast joie had,

Whan thou an other sihe unglad,

Schrif the therof. Mi fader, yis:

I am beknowe unto you this.

Of these lovers that loven streyte,

And for that point which thei coveite

Ben poursuiantz fro yeer to yere

240In loves Court, whan I may hiere

How that thei clymbe upon the whel,

And whan thei wene al schal be wel,

Thei ben doun throwen ate laste,

Thanne am I fedd of that thei faste,

And lawhe of that I se hem loure;

And thus of that thei brewe soure

I drinke swete, and am wel esed

Of that I wot thei ben desesed.

Bot this which I you telle hiere

250Is only for my lady diere;

That for non other that I knowe

Me reccheth noght who overthrowe,

Ne who that stonde in love upriht:

Bot be he squier, be he knyht,

Which to my ladiward poursuieth,

The more he lest of that he suieth,

The mor me thenketh that I winne,

And am the more glad withinne

Of that I wot him sorwe endure.

260For evere upon such aventure

It is a confort, as men sein,

To him the which is wo besein

To sen an other in his peine,

So that thei bothe mai compleigne.

Wher I miself mai noght availe

To sen an other man travaile,

I am riht glad if he be let;

And thogh I fare noght the bet,

His sorwe is to myn herte a game:

270Whan that I knowe it is the same

Which to mi ladi stant enclined,

And hath his love noght termined,

I am riht joifull in my thoght.

If such Envie grieveth oght,

As I beknowe me coupable,

Ye that be wys and resonable,

Mi fader, telleth youre avis.

Mi Sone, Envie into no pris

Of such a forme, I understonde,

280Ne mihte be no resoun stonde

For this Envie hath such a kinde,

That he wole sette himself behinde

To hindre with an othre wyht,

And gladly lese his oghne riht

To make an other lesen his.

And forto knowe how it so is,

A tale lich to this matiere

I thenke telle, if thou wolt hiere,

To schewe proprely the vice

290Of this Envie and the malice.

Of Jupiter this finde I write,

How whilom that he wolde wite

Upon the pleigntes whiche he herde,

Among the men how that it ferde,

As of here wrong condicion

To do justificacion:

And for that cause doun he sente

An Angel, which about wente,

That he the sothe knowe mai.

300So it befell upon a dai

This Angel, which him scholde enforme,

Was clothed in a mannes forme,

And overtok, I understonde,

Tuo men that wenten over londe,

Thurgh whiche he thoghte to aspie

His cause, and goth in compaignie.

This Angel with hise wordes wise

Opposeth hem in sondri wise,

Now lowde wordes and now softe,

310That mad hem to desputen ofte,

And ech of hem his reson hadde.

And thus with tales he hem ladde

With good examinacioun,

Til he knew the condicioun,

What men thei were bothe tuo;

And sih wel ate laste tho,

That on of hem was coveitous,

And his fela was envious.

And thus, whan he hath knowlechinge,

320Anon he feigneth departinge,

And seide he mot algate wende.

Bot herkne now what fell at ende:

For thanne he made hem understonde

That he was there of goddes sonde,

And seide hem, for the kindeschipe

That thei have don him felaschipe,

He wole hem do som grace ayein,

And bad that on of hem schal sein

What thing him is lievest to crave,

330And he it schal of yifte have;

And over that ek forth withal

He seith that other have schal

The double of that his felaw axeth;

And thus to hem his grace he taxeth.

The coveitous was wonder glad,

And to that other man he bad

And seith that he ferst axe scholde:

For he supposeth that he wolde

Make his axinge of worldes good;

340For thanne he knew wel how it stod,

That he himself be double weyhte

Schal after take, and thus be sleyhte,

Be cause that he wolde winne,

He bad his fela ferst beginne.

This Envious, thogh it be late,

Whan that he syh he mot algate

Make his axinge ferst, he thoghte,

If he worschipe or profit soghte,

It schal be doubled to his fiere:

350That wolde he chese in no manere.

Bot thanne he scheweth what he was

Toward Envie, and in this cas

Unto this Angel thus he seide

And for his yifte this he preide,

To make him blind of his on yhe,

So that his fela nothing syhe.

This word was noght so sone spoke,

That his on yhe anon was loke,

And his felawh forthwith also

360Was blind of bothe his yhen tuo.

Tho was that other glad ynowh,

That on wepte, and that other lowh,

He sette his on yhe at no cost,

Wherof that other two hath lost.

Of thilke ensample which fell tho,

Men tellen now fulofte so,

The world empeireth comunly:

And yit wot non the cause why;

For it acordeth noght to kinde

370Min oghne harm to seche and finde

Of that I schal my brother grieve;

It myhte nevere wel achieve.

What seist thou, Sone, of this folie?

Mi fader, bot I scholde lie,

Upon the point which ye have seid

Yit was myn herte nevere leid,

Bot in the wise as I you tolde.

Bot overmore, if that ye wolde

Oght elles to my schrifte seie

380Touchende Envie, I wolde preie.

Mi Sone, that schal wel be do:

Now herkne and ley thin Ere to.

Touchende as of Envious brod

I wot noght on of alle good;

Bot natheles, suche as thei be,

Yit is ther on, and that is he

Which cleped in Detraccioun.

And to conferme his accioun,

He hath withholde Malebouche,

390Whos tunge neither pyl ne crouche

Mai hyre, so that he pronounce

A plein good word withoute frounce

Awher behinde a mannes bak.

For thogh he preise, he fint som lak,

Which of his tale is ay the laste,

That al the pris schal overcaste:

And thogh ther be no cause why,

Yit wole he jangle noght forthi,

As he which hath the heraldie

400Of hem that usen forto lye.

For as the Netle which up renneth

The freisshe rede Roses brenneth

And makth hem fade and pale of hewe,

Riht so this fals Envious hewe,

In every place wher he duelleth,

With false wordes whiche he telleth

He torneth preisinge into blame

And worschipe into worldes schame.

Of such lesinge as he compasseth,

410Is non so good that he ne passeth

Betwen his teeth and is bacbited,

And thurgh his false tunge endited:

Lich to the Scharnebudes kinde,

Of whos nature this I finde,

That in the hoteste of the dai,

Whan comen is the merie Maii,

He sprat his wynge and up he fleth:

And under al aboute he seth

The faire lusti floures springe,

420Bot therof hath he no likinge;

Bot where he seth of eny beste

The felthe, ther he makth his feste,

And therupon he wole alyhte,

Ther liketh him non other sihte.

Riht so this janglere Envious,

Thogh he a man se vertuous

And full of good condicioun,

Therof makth he no mencioun:

Bot elles, be it noght so lyte,

430Wherof that he mai sette a wyte,

Ther renneth he with open mouth,

Behinde a man and makth it couth.

Bot al the vertu which he can,

That wole he hide of every man,

And openly the vice telle,

As he which of the Scole of helle

Is tawht, and fostred with Envie

Of houshold and of compaignie,

Wher that he hath his propre office

440To sette on every man a vice.

How so his mouth be comely,

His word sit evermore awry

And seith the worste that he may.

And in this wise now a day

In loves Court a man mai hiere

Fulofte pleigne of this matiere,

That many envious tale is stered,

Wher that it mai noght ben ansuered;

Bot yit fulofte it is believed,

450And many a worthi love is grieved

Thurgh bacbitinge of fals Envie.

If thou have mad such janglerie

In loves Court, mi Sone, er this,

Schrif thee therof. Mi fader, yis:

Bot wite ye how? noght openly,

Bot otherwhile prively,

Whan I my diere ladi mete,

And thenke how that I am noght mete

Unto hire hihe worthinesse,

460And ek I se the besinesse

Of al this yonge lusty route,

Whiche alday pressen hire aboute,

And ech of hem his time awaiteth,

And ech of hem his tale affaiteth,

Al to deceive an innocent,

Which woll noght ben of here assent;

And for men sein unknowe unkest,

Hire thombe sche holt in hire fest

So clos withinne hire oghne hond,

470That there winneth noman lond;

Sche lieveth noght al that sche hiereth,

And thus fulofte hirself sche skiereth

And is al war of “hadde I wist”:—

Bot for al that myn herte arist,

Whanne I thes comun lovers se,

That woll noght holden hem to thre,

Bot welnyh loven overal,

Min herte is Envious withal,

And evere I am adrad of guile,

480In aunter if with eny wyle

Thei mihte hire innocence enchaunte.

Forthi my wordes ofte I haunte

Behynden hem, so as I dar,

Wherof my ladi may be war:

I sai what evere comth to mowthe,

And worse I wolde, if that I cowthe;

For whanne I come unto hir speche,

Al that I may enquere and seche

Of such deceipte, I telle it al,

490And ay the werste in special.

So fayn I wolde that sche wiste

How litel thei ben forto triste,

And what thei wolde and what thei mente,

So as thei be of double entente:

Thus toward hem that wicke mene

My wicked word was evere grene.

And natheles, the soth to telle,

In certain if it so befelle

That althertrewest man ybore,

500To chese among a thousend score,

Which were alfulli forto triste,

Mi ladi lovede, and I it wiste,

Yit rathere thanne he scholde spede,

I wolde swiche tales sprede

To my ladi, if that I myhte,

That I scholde al his love unrihte,

And therto wolde I do mi peine.

For certes thogh I scholde feigne,

And telle that was nevere thoght,

510For al this world I myhte noght

To soffre an othre fully winne,

Ther as I am yit to beginne.

For be thei goode, or be thei badde,

I wolde non my ladi hadde;

And that me makth fulofte aspie

And usen wordes of Envie,

Al forto make hem bere a blame.

And that is bot of thilke same,

The whiche unto my ladi drawe,

520For evere on hem I rounge and gknawe

And hindre hem al that evere I mai;

And that is, sothly forto say,

Bot only to my lady selve:

I telle it noght to ten ne tuelve,

Therof I wol me wel avise,

To speke or jangle in eny wise

That toucheth to my ladi name,

The which in ernest and in game

I wolde save into my deth;

530For me were levere lacke breth

Than speken of hire name amis.

Now have ye herd touchende of this,

Mi fader, in confessioun:

And therfor of Detraccioun

In love, of that I have mispoke,

Tel how ye wole it schal be wroke.

I am al redy forto bere

Mi peine, and also to forbere

What thing that ye wol noght allowe;

540For who is bounden, he mot bowe.

So wol I bowe unto youre heste,

For I dar make this beheste,

That I to yow have nothing hid,

Bot told riht as it is betid;

And otherwise of no mispeche,

Mi conscience forto seche,

I can noght of Envie finde,

That I mispoke have oght behinde

Wherof love owhte be mispaid.

550Now have ye herd and I have said;

What wol ye, fader, that I do?

Mi Sone, do nomore so,

Bot evere kep thi tunge stille,

Thou miht the more have of thi wille.

For as thou saist thiselven here,

Thi ladi is of such manere,

So wys, so war in alle thinge,

It nedeth of no bakbitinge

That thou thi ladi mis enforme:

560For whan sche knoweth al the forme,

How that thiself art envious,

Thou schalt noght be so gracious

As thou peraunter scholdest elles.

Ther wol noman drinke of tho welles

Whiche as he wot is puyson inne;

And ofte swich as men beginne

Towardes othre, swich thei finde,

That set hem ofte fer behinde,

Whan that thei wene be before.

570Mi goode Sone, and thou therfore

Bewar and lef thi wicke speche,

Wherof hath fallen ofte wreche

To many a man befor this time.

For who so wole his handes lime,

Thei mosten be the more unclene;

For many a mote schal be sene,

That wolde noght cleve elles there;

And that schold every wys man fere:

For who so wol an other blame,

580He secheth ofte his oghne schame,

Which elles myhte be riht stille.

Forthi if that it be thi wille

To stonde upon amendement,

A tale of gret entendement

I thenke telle for thi sake,

Wherof thou miht ensample take.

A worthi kniht in Cristes lawe

Of grete Rome, as is the sawe,

The Sceptre hadde forto rihte;

590Tiberie Constantin he hihte,

Whos wif was cleped Ytalie:

Bot thei togedre of progenie

No children hadde bot a Maide;

And sche the god so wel apaide,

That al the wide worldes fame

Spak worschipe of hire goode name.

Constance, as the Cronique seith,

Sche hihte, and was so ful of feith,

That the greteste of Barbarie,

600Of hem whiche usen marchandie,

Sche hath converted, as thei come

To hire upon a time in Rome,

To schewen such thing as thei broghte;

Whiche worthili of hem sche boghte,

And over that in such a wise

Sche hath hem with hire wordes wise

Of Cristes feith so full enformed,

That thei therto ben all conformed,

So that baptesme thei receiven

610And alle here false goddes weyven.

Whan thei ben of the feith certein,

Thei gon to Barbarie ayein,

And ther the Souldan for hem sente

And axeth hem to what entente

Thei have here ferste feith forsake.

And thei, whiche hadden undertake

The rihte feith to kepe and holde,

The matiere of here tale tolde

With al the hole circumstance.

620And whan the Souldan of Constance

Upon the point that thei ansuerde

The beaute and the grace herde,

As he which thanne was to wedde,

In alle haste his cause spedde

To sende for the mariage.

And furthermor with good corage

He seith, be so he mai hire have,

That Crist, which cam this world to save,

He woll believe: and this recorded,

630Thei ben on either side acorded,

And therupon to make an ende

The Souldan hise hostages sende

To Rome, of Princes Sones tuelve:

Wherof the fader in himselve

Was glad, and with the Pope avised

Tuo Cardinals he hath assissed

With othre lordes many mo,

That with his doghter scholden go,

To se the Souldan be converted.

640Bot that which nevere was wel herted,

Envie, tho began travaile

In destourbance of this spousaile

So prively that non was war.

The Moder which this Souldan bar

Was thanne alyve, and thoghte this

Unto hirself: “If it so is

Mi Sone him wedde in this manere,

Than have I lost my joies hiere,

For myn astat schal so be lassed.”

650Thenkende thus sche hath compassed

Be sleihte how that sche may beguile

Hire Sone; and fell withinne a while,

Betwen hem two whan that thei were,

Sche feigneth wordes in his Ere,

And in this wise gan to seie:

“Mi Sone, I am be double weie

With al myn herte glad and blithe,

For that miself have ofte sithe

Desired thou wolt, as men seith,

660Receive and take a newe feith,

Which schal be forthringe of thi lif:

And ek so worschipful a wif,

The doughter of an Emperour,

To wedde it schal be gret honour.

Forthi, mi Sone, I you beseche

That I such grace mihte areche,

Whan that my doughter come schal,

That I mai thanne in special,

So as me thenkth it is honeste,

670Be thilke which the ferste feste

Schal make unto hire welcominge.”

The Souldan granteth hire axinge,

And sche therof was glad ynowh:

For under that anon sche drowh

With false wordes that sche spak

Covine of deth behinde his bak.

And therupon hire ordinance

She made so, that whan Constance

Was come forth with the Romeins,

680Of clerkes and of Citezeins,

A riche feste sche hem made:

And most whan that thei weren glade,

With fals covine which sche hadde

Hire clos Envie tho sche spradde,

And alle tho that hadden be

Or in apert or in prive

Of conseil to the mariage,

Sche slowh hem in a sodein rage

Endlong the bord as thei be set,

690So that it myhte noght be let;

Hire oghne Sone was noght quit,

Bot deide upon the same plit.

Bot what the hihe god wol spare

It mai for no peril misfare:

This worthi Maiden which was there

Stod thanne, as who seith, ded for feere,

To se the feste how that it stod,

Which al was torned into blod:

The Dissh forthwith the Coppe and al

700Bebled thei weren overal;

Sche sih hem deie on every side;

No wonder thogh sche wepte and cride

Makende many a wofull mone.

Whan al was slain bot sche al one,

This olde fend, this Sarazine,

Let take anon this Constantine

With al the good sche thider broghte,

And hath ordeined, as sche thoghte,

A nakid Schip withoute stiere,

710In which the good and hire in fiere,

Vitailed full for yeres fyve,

Wher that the wynd it wolde dryve,

Sche putte upon the wawes wilde.

Bot he which alle thing mai schilde,

Thre yer, til that sche cam to londe,

Hire Schip to stiere hath take in honde,

And in Northumberlond aryveth;

And happeth thanne that sche dryveth

Under a Castel with the flod,

720Which upon Humber banke stod

And was the kynges oghne also,

The which Allee was cleped tho,

A Saxon and a worthi knyht,

Bot he believed noght ariht.

Of this Castell was Chastellein

Elda the kinges Chamberlein,

A knyhtly man after his lawe;

And whan he sih upon the wawe

The Schip drivende al one so,

730He bad anon men scholden go

To se what it betokne mai.

This was upon a Somer dai,

The Schip was loked and sche founde;

Elda withinne a litel stounde

It wiste, and with his wif anon

Toward this yonge ladi gon,

Wher that thei founden gret richesse;

Bot sche hire wolde noght confesse,

Whan thei hire axen what sche was.

740And natheles upon the cas

Out of the Schip with gret worschipe

Thei toke hire into felaschipe,

As thei that weren of hir glade:

Bot sche no maner joie made,

Bot sorweth sore of that sche fond

No cristendom in thilke lond;

Bot elles sche hath al hire wille,

And thus with hem sche duelleth stille.

Dame Hermyngheld, which was the wif

750Of Elda, lich hire oghne lif

Constance loveth; and fell so,

Spekende alday betwen hem two,

Thurgh grace of goddes pourveance

This maiden tawhte the creance

Unto this wif so parfitly,

Upon a dai that faste by

In presence of hire housebonde,

Wher thei go walkende on the Stronde,

A blind man, which cam there lad,

760Unto this wif criende he bad,

With bothe hise hondes up and preide

To hire, and in this wise he seide:

“O Hermyngeld, which Cristes feith,

Enformed as Constance seith,

Received hast, yif me my sihte.”

Upon his word hire herte afflihte

Thenkende what was best to done,

Bot natheles sche herde his bone

And seide, “In trust of Cristes lawe,

770Which don was on the crois and slawe,

Thou bysne man, behold and se.”

With that to god upon his kne

Thonkende he tok his sihte anon,

Wherof thei merveile everychon,

Bot Elda wondreth most of alle:

This open thing which is befalle

Concludeth him be such a weie,

That he the feith mot nede obeie.

Now lest what fell upon this thing.

780This Elda forth unto the king

A morwe tok his weie and rod,

And Hermyngeld at home abod

Forth with Constance wel at ese.

Elda, which thoghte his king to plese,

As he that thanne unwedded was,

Of Constance al the pleine cas

Als goodliche as he cowthe tolde.

The king was glad and seide he wolde

Come thider upon such a wise

790That he him mihte of hire avise,

The time apointed forth withal.

This Elda triste in special

Upon a knyht, whom fro childhode

He hadde updrawe into manhode:

To him he tolde al that he thoghte,

Wherof that after him forthoghte;

And natheles at thilke tide

Unto his wif he bad him ride

To make redi alle thing

800Ayein the cominge of the king,

And seith that he himself tofore

Thenkth forto come, and bad therfore

That he him kepe, and told him whanne.

This knyht rod forth his weie thanne;

And soth was that of time passed

He hadde in al his wit compassed

How he Constance myhte winne;

Bot he sih tho no sped therinne,

Wherof his lust began tabate,

810And that was love is thanne hate;

Of hire honour he hadde Envie,

So that upon his tricherie

A lesinge in his herte he caste.

Til he cam home he hieth faste,

And doth his ladi tunderstonde

The Message of hire housebonde:

And therupon the longe dai

Thei setten thinges in arrai,

That al was as it scholde be

820Of every thing in his degree;

And whan it cam into the nyht,

This wif hire hath to bedde dyht,

Wher that this Maiden with hire lay.

This false knyht upon delay

Hath taried til thei were aslepe,

As he that wolde his time kepe

His dedly werkes to fulfille;

And to the bed he stalketh stille,

Wher that he wiste was the wif,

830And in his hond a rasour knif

He bar, with which hire throte he cutte,

And prively the knif he putte

Under that other beddes side,

Wher that Constance lai beside.

Elda cam hom the same nyht,

And stille with a prive lyht,

As he that wolde noght awake

His wif, he hath his weie take

Into the chambre, and ther liggende

840He fond his dede wif bledende,

Wher that Constance faste by

Was falle aslepe; and sodeinly

He cride alowd, and sche awok,

And forth withal sche caste a lok

And sih this ladi blede there,

Wherof swoundende ded for fere

Sche was, and stille as eny Ston

She lay, and Elda therupon

Into the Castell clepeth oute,

850And up sterte every man aboute,

Into the chambre and forth thei wente.

Bot he, which alle untrouthe mente,

This false knyht, among hem alle

Upon this thing which is befalle

Seith that Constance hath don this dede;

And to the bed with that he yede

After the falshed of his speche,

And made him there forto seche,

And fond the knif, wher he it leide,

860And thanne he cride and thanne he seide,

“Lo, seth the knif al blody hiere!

What nedeth more in this matiere

To axe?” And thus hire innocence

He sclaundreth there in audience

With false wordes whiche he feigneth.

Bot yit for al that evere he pleigneth,

Elda no full credence tok:

And happeth that ther lay a bok,

Upon the which, whan he it sih,

870This knyht hath swore and seid on hih,

That alle men it mihte wite,

“Now be this bok, which hier is write,

Constance is gultif, wel I wot.”

With that the hond of hevene him smot

In tokne of that he was forswore,

That he hath bothe hise yhen lore,

Out of his hed the same stounde

Thei sterte, and so thei weren founde.

A vois was herd, whan that they felle,

880Which seide, “O dampned man to helle,

Lo, thus hath god the sclaundre wroke

That thou ayein Constance hast spoke:

Beknow the sothe er that thou dye.”

And he told out his felonie,

And starf forth with his tale anon.

Into the ground, wher alle gon,

This dede lady was begrave:

Elda, which thoghte his honour save,

Al that he mai restreigneth sorwe.

890For the seconde day a morwe

The king cam, as thei were acorded;

And whan it was to him recorded

What god hath wroght upon this chaunce,

He tok it into remembrance

And thoghte more than he seide.

For al his hole herte he leide

Upon Constance, and seide he scholde

For love of hire, if that sche wolde,

Baptesme take and Cristes feith

900Believe, and over that he seith

He wol hire wedde, and upon this

Asseured ech til other is.

And forto make schorte tales,

Ther cam a Bisschop out of Wales

Fro Bangor, and Lucie he hihte,

Which thurgh the grace of god almihte

The king with many an other mo

Hath cristned, and betwen hem tuo

He hath fulfild the mariage.

910Bot for no lust ne for no rage

Sche tolde hem nevere what sche was;

And natheles upon the cas

The king was glad, how so it stod,

For wel he wiste and understod

Sche was a noble creature.

The hihe makere of nature

Hire hath visited in a throwe,

That it was openliche knowe

Sche was with childe be the king,

920Wherof above al other thing

He thonketh god and was riht glad.

And fell that time he was bestad

Upon a werre and moste ride;

And whil he scholde there abide,

He lefte at hom to kepe his wif

Suche as he knew of holi lif,

Elda forth with the Bisschop eke;

And he with pouer goth to seke

Ayein the Scottes forto fonde

930The werre which he tok on honde.

The time set of kinde is come,

This lady hath hire chambre nome,

And of a Sone bore full,

Wherof that sche was joiefull,

Sche was delivered sauf and sone.

The bisshop, as it was to done,

Yaf him baptesme and Moris calleth;

And therupon, as it befalleth,

With lettres writen of record

940Thei sende unto here liege lord,

That kepers weren of the qweene:

And he that scholde go betwene,

The Messager, to Knaresburgh,

Which toun he scholde passe thurgh,

Ridende cam the ferste day.

The kinges Moder there lay,

Whos rihte name was Domilde,

Which after al the cause spilde:

For he, which thonk deserve wolde,

950Unto this ladi goth and tolde

Of his Message al how it ferde.

And sche with feigned joie it herde

And yaf him yiftes largely,

Bot in the nyht al prively

Sche tok the lettres whiche he hadde,

Fro point to point and overradde,

As sche that was thurghout untrewe,

And let do wryten othre newe

In stede of hem, and thus thei spieke:

960“Oure liege lord, we thee beseke

That thou with ous ne be noght wroth,

Though we such thing as is thee loth

Upon oure trowthe certefie.

Thi wif, which is of faierie,

Of such a child delivered is

Fro kinde which stant al amis:

Bot for it scholde noght be seie,

We have it kept out of the weie

For drede of pure worldes schame,

970A povere child and in the name

Of thilke which is so misbore

We toke, and therto we be swore,

That non bot only thou and we

Schal knowen of this privete:

Moris it hatte, and thus men wene

That it was boren of the qweene

And of thin oghne bodi gete.

Bot this thing mai noght be foryete,

That thou ne sende ous word anon

980What is thi wille therupon.”

This lettre, as thou hast herd devise,

Was contrefet in such a wise

That noman scholde it aperceive:

And sche, which thoghte to deceive,

It leith wher sche that other tok.

This Messager, whan he awok,

And wiste nothing how it was,

Aros and rod the grete pas

And tok this lettre to the king.

990And whan he sih this wonder thing,

He makth the Messager no chiere,

Bot natheles in wys manere

He wrote ayein, and yaf hem charge

That thei ne soffre noght at large

His wif to go, bot kepe hire stille,

Til thei have herd mor of his wille.

This Messager was yifteles,

Bot with this lettre natheles,

Or be him lief or be him loth,

1000In alle haste ayein he goth

Be Knaresburgh, and as he wente,

Unto the Moder his entente

Of that he fond toward the king

He tolde; and sche upon this thing

Seith that he scholde abide al nyht

And made him feste and chiere ariht,

Feignende as thogh sche cowthe him thonk.

Bot he with strong wyn which he dronk

Forth with the travail of the day

1010Was drunke, aslepe and while he lay,

Sche hath hise lettres overseie

And formed in an other weie.

Ther was a newe lettre write,

Which seith: “I do you forto wite,

That thurgh the conseil of you tuo

I stonde in point to ben undo,

As he which is a king deposed.

For every man it hath supposed,

How that my wif Constance is faie;

1020And if that I, thei sein, delaie

To put hire out of compaignie,

The worschipe of my Regalie

Is lore; and over this thei telle,

Hire child schal noght among hem duelle,

To cleymen eny heritage.

So can I se non avantage,

Bot al is lost, if sche abide:

Forthi to loke on every side

Toward the meschief as it is,

1030I charge you and bidde this,

That ye the same Schip vitaile,

In which that sche tok arivaile,

Therinne and putteth bothe tuo,

Hireself forthwith hire child also,

And so forth broght unto the depe

Betaketh hire the See to kepe.

Of foure daies time I sette,

That ye this thing no longer lette,

So that your lif be noght forsfet.”

1040And thus this lettre contrefet

The Messager, which was unwar,

Upon the kingeshalve bar,

And where he scholde it hath betake.

Bot whan that thei have hiede take,

And rad that writen is withinne,

So gret a sorwe thei beginne,

As thei here oghne Moder sihen

Brent in a fyr before here yhen:

Ther was wepinge and ther was wo,

1050Bot finaly the thing is do.

Upon the See thei have hire broght,

Bot sche the cause wiste noght,

And thus upon the flod thei wone,

This ladi with hire yonge Sone:

And thanne hire handes to the hevene

Sche strawhte, and with a milde stevene

Knelende upon hire bare kne

Sche seide, “O hihe mageste,

Which sest the point of every trowthe,

1060Tak of thi wofull womman rowthe

And of this child that I schal kepe.”

And with that word sche gan to wepe,

Swounende as ded, and ther sche lay;

Bot he which alle thinges may

Conforteth hire, and ate laste

Sche loketh and hire yhen caste

Upon hire child and seide this:

“Of me no maner charge it is

What sorwe I soffre, bot of thee

1070Me thenkth it is a gret pite,

For if I sterve thou schalt deie:

So mot I nedes be that weie

For Moderhed and for tendresse

With al myn hole besinesse

Ordeigne me for thilke office,

As sche which schal be thi Norrice.”

Thus was sche strengthed forto stonde;

And tho sche tok hire child in honde

And yaf it sowke, and evere among

1080Sche wepte, and otherwhile song

To rocke with hire child aslepe:

And thus hire oghne child to kepe

Sche hath under the goddes cure.

And so fell upon aventure,

Whan thilke yer hath mad his ende,

Hire Schip, so as it moste wende

Thurgh strengthe of wynd which god hath yive,

Estward was into Spaigne drive

Riht faste under a Castell wall,

1090Wher that an hethen Amirall

Was lord, and he a Stieward hadde,

Oon Thelos, which al was badde,

A fals knyht and a renegat.

He goth to loke in what astat

The Schip was come, and there he fond

Forth with a child upon hire hond

This lady, wher sche was al one.

He tok good hiede of the persone,

And sih sche was a worthi wiht,

1100And thoghte he wolde upon the nyht

Demene hire at his oghne wille,

And let hire be therinne stille,

That mo men sih sche noght that dai.

At goddes wille and thus sche lai,

Unknowe what hire schal betide;

And fell so that be nyhtes tide

This knyht withoute felaschipe

Hath take a bot and cam to Schipe,

And thoghte of hire his lust to take,

1110And swor, if sche him daunger make,

That certeinly sche scholde deie.

Sche sih ther was non other weie,

And seide he scholde hire wel conforte,

That he ferst loke out ate porte,

That noman were nyh the stede,

Which myhte knowe what thei dede,

And thanne he mai do what he wolde.

He was riht glad that sche so tolde,

And to the porte anon he ferde:

1120Sche preide god, and he hire herde,

And sodeinliche he was out throwe

And dreynt, and tho began to blowe

A wynd menable fro the lond,

And thus the myhti goddes hond

Hire hath conveied and defended.

And whan thre yer be full despended,

Hire Schip was drive upon a dai,

Wher that a gret Navye lay

Of Schipes, al the world at ones:

1130And as god wolde for the nones,

Hire Schip goth in among hem alle,

And stinte noght, er it be falle

And hath the vessell undergete,

Which Maister was of al the Flete,

Bot there it resteth and abod.

This grete Schip on Anker rod;

The Lord cam forth, and whan he sih

That other ligge abord so nyh,

He wondreth what it myhte be,

1140And bad men to gon in and se.

This ladi tho was crope aside,

As sche that wolde hireselven hide,

For sche ne wiste what thei were:

Thei soghte aboute and founde hir there

And broghten up hire child and hire;

And therupon this lord to spire

Began, fro whenne that sche cam,

And what sche was. Quod sche, “I am

A womman wofully bestad.

1150I hadde a lord, and thus he bad,

That I forth with my litel Sone

Upon the wawes scholden wone,

Bot why the cause was, I not:

Bot he which alle thinges wot

Yit hath, I thonke him, of his miht

Mi child and me so kept upriht,

That we be save bothe tuo.”

This lord hire axeth overmo

How sche believeth, and sche seith,

1160“I lieve and triste in Cristes feith,

Which deide upon the Rode tree.”

“What is thi name?” tho quod he.

“Mi name is Couste,” sche him seide:

Bot forthermor for noght he preide

Of hire astat to knowe plein,

Sche wolde him nothing elles sein

Bot of hir name, which sche feigneth;

Alle othre thinges sche restreigneth,

That a word more sche ne tolde.

1170This lord thanne axeth if sche wolde

With him abide in compaignie,

And seide he cam fro Barbarie

To Romeward, and hom he wente.

Tho sche supposeth what it mente,

And seith sche wolde with him wende

And duelle unto hire lyves ende,

Be so it be to his plesance.

And thus upon here aqueintance

He tolde hire pleinly as it stod,

1180Of Rome how that the gentil blod

In Barbarie was betraied,

And therupon he hath assaied

Be werre, and taken such vengance,

That non of al thilke alliance,

Be whom the tresoun was compassed,

Is from the swerd alyve passed;

Bot of Constance hou it was,

That cowthe he knowe be no cas,

Wher sche becam, so as he seide.

1190Hire Ere unto his word sche leide,

Bot forther made sche no chiere.

And natheles in this matiere

It happeth thilke time so:

This Lord, with whom sche scholde go,

Of Rome was the Senatour,

And of hir fader themperour

His brother doughter hath to wyve,

Which hath hir fader ek alyve,

And was Salustes cleped tho;

1200This wif Heleine hihte also,

To whom Constance was Cousine.

Thus to the sike a medicine

Hath god ordeined of his grace,

That forthwith in the same place

This Senatour his trowthe plihte,

For evere, whil he live mihte,

To kepe in worschipe and in welthe,

Be so that god wol yive hire helthe,

This ladi, which fortune him sende.

1210And thus be Schipe forth sailende

Hire and hir child to Rome he broghte,

And to his wif tho he besoghte

To take hire into compaignie:

And sche, which cowthe of courtesie

Al that a good wif scholde konne,

Was inly glad that sche hath wonne

The felaschip of so good on.

Til tuelve yeres were agon,

This Emperoures dowhter Custe

1220Forth with the dowhter of Saluste

Was kept, bot noman redily

Knew what sche was, and noght forthi

Thei thoghten wel sche hadde be

In hire astat of hih degre,

And every lif hire loveth wel.

Now herke how thilke unstable whel,

Which evere torneth, wente aboute.

The king Allee, whil he was oute,

As thou tofore hast herd this cas,

1230Deceived thurgh his Moder was:

Bot whan that he cam hom ayein,

He axeth of his Chamberlein

And of the Bisschop ek also,

Wher thei the qweene hadden do.

And thei answerde, there he bad,

And have him thilke lettre rad,

Which he hem sende for warant,

And tolde him pleinli as it stant,

And sein, it thoghte hem gret pite

1240To se so worthi on as sche,

With such a child as ther was bore,

So sodeinly to be forlore.

He axeth hem what child that were;

And thei him seiden, that naghere,

In al the world thogh men it soghte,

Was nevere womman that forth broghte

A fairer child than it was on.

And thanne he axede hem anon,

Whi thei ne hadden write so:

1250Thei tolden, so thei hadden do.

He seide, “Nay.” Thei seiden, “Yis.”

The lettre schewed rad it is,

Which thei forsoken everidel.

Tho was it understonde wel

That ther is tresoun in the thing:

The Messager tofore the king

Was broght and sodeinliche opposed;

And he, which nothing hath supposed

Bot alle wel, began to seie

1260That he nagher upon the weie

Abod, bot only in a stede;

And cause why that he so dede

Was, as he wente to and fro,

At Knaresburgh be nyhtes tuo

The kinges Moder made him duelle.

And whan the king it herde telle,

Withinne his herte he wiste als faste

The treson which his Moder caste;

And thoghte he wolde noght abide,

1270Bot forth riht in the same tide

He tok his hors and rod anon.

With him ther riden manion,

To Knaresburgh and forth thei wente,

And lich the fyr which tunder hente,

In such a rage, as seith the bok,

His Moder sodeinliche he tok

And seide unto hir in this wise:

“O beste of helle, in what juise

Hast thou deserved forto deie,

1280That hast so falsly put aweie

With tresoun of thi bacbitinge

The treweste at my knowlechinge

Of wyves and the most honeste?

Bot I wol make this beheste,

I schal be venged er I go.”

And let a fyr do make tho,

And bad men forto caste hire inne:

Bot ferst sche tolde out al the sinne,

And dede hem alle forto wite

1290How sche the lettres hadde write,

Fro point to point as it was wroght.

And tho sche was to dethe broght

And brent tofore hire Sones yhe:

Wherof these othre, whiche it sihe

And herden how the cause stod,

Sein that the juggement is good,

Of that hir Sone hire hath so served;

For sche it hadde wel deserved

Thurgh tresoun of hire false tunge,

1300Which thurgh the lond was after sunge,

Constance and every wiht compleigneth.

Bot he, whom alle wo distreigneth,

This sorghfull king, was so bestad,

That he schal nevermor be glad,

He seith, eftsone forto wedde,

Til that he wiste how that sche spedde,

Which hadde ben his ferste wif:

And thus his yonge unlusti lif

He dryveth forth so as he mai.

1310Til it befell upon a dai,

Whan he hise werres hadde achieved,

And thoghte he wolde be relieved

Of Soule hele upon the feith

Which he hath take, thanne he seith

That he to Rome in pelrinage

Wol go, wher Pope was Pelage,

To take his absolucioun.

And upon this condicioun

He made Edwyn his lieutenant,

1320Which heir to him was apparant,

That he the lond in his absence

Schal reule: and thus be providence

Of alle thinges wel begon

He tok his leve and forth is gon.

Elda, which tho was with him there,

Er thei fulliche at Rome were,

Was sent tofore to pourveie;

And he his guide upon the weie,

In help to ben his herbergour,

1330Hath axed who was Senatour,

That he his name myhte kenne.

Of Capadoce, he seide, Arcenne

He hihte, and was a worthi kniht.

To him goth Elda tho forth riht

And tolde him of his lord tidinge,

And preide that for his comynge

He wolde assigne him herbergage;

And he so dede of good corage.

Whan al is do that was to done,

1340The king himself cam after sone.

This Senatour, whan that he com,

To Couste and to his wif at hom

Hath told how such a king Allee

Of gret array to the Citee

Was come, and Couste upon his tale

With herte clos and colour pale

Aswoune fell, and he merveileth

So sodeinly what thing hire eyleth,

And cawhte hire up, and whan sche wok,

1350Sche syketh with a pitous lok

And feigneth seknesse of the See;

Bot it was for the king Allee,

For joie which fell in hire thoght

That god him hath to toune broght.

This king hath spoke with the Pope

And told al that he cowthe agrope,

What grieveth in his conscience;

And thanne he thoghte in reverence

Of his astat, er that he wente,

1360To make a feste, and thus he sente

Unto the Senatour to come

Upon the morwe and othre some,

To sitte with him at the mete.

This tale hath Couste noght foryete,

Bot to Moris hire Sone tolde

That he upon the morwe scholde

In al that evere he cowthe and mihte

Be present in the kinges sihte,

So that the king him ofte sihe.

1370Moris tofore the kinges yhe

Upon the morwe, wher he sat,

Fulofte stod, and upon that

The king his chiere upon him caste,

And in his face him thoghte als faste

He sih his oghne wif Constance;

For nature as in resemblance

Of face hem liketh so to clothe,

That thei were of a suite bothe.

The king was moeved in his thoght

1380Of that he seth, and knoweth it noght;

This child he loveth kindely,

And yit he wot no cause why.

Bot wel he sih and understod

That he toward Arcenne stod,

And axeth him anon riht there,

If that this child his Sone were.

He seide, “Yee, so I him calle,

And wolde it were so befalle,

Bot it is al in other wise.”

1390And tho began he to devise

How he the childes Moder fond

Upon the See from every lond

Withinne a Schip was stiereles,

And how this ladi helpeles

Forth with hir child he hath forthdrawe.

The king hath understonde his sawe,

The childes name and axeth tho,

And what the Moder hihte also

That he him wolde telle he preide.

1400“Moris this child is hote,” he seide,

“His Moder hatte Couste, and this

I not what maner name it is.”

But Allee wiste wel ynowh,

Wherof somdiel smylende he lowh;

For Couste in Saxoun is to sein

Constance upon the word Romein.

Bot who that cowthe specefie

What tho fell in his fantasie,

And how his wit aboute renneth

1410Upon the love in which he brenneth,

It were a wonder forto hiere:

For he was nouther ther ne hiere,

Bot clene out of himself aweie,

That he not what to thenke or seie,

So fain he wolde it were sche.

Wherof his hertes privete

Began the werre of yee and nay,

The which in such balance lay,

That contenance for a throwe

1420He loste, til he mihte knowe

The sothe: bot in his memoire

The man which lith in purgatoire

Desireth noght the hevene more,

That he ne longeth al so sore

To wite what him schal betide.

And whan the bordes were aside

And every man was rise aboute,

The king hath weyved al the route,

And with the Senatour al one

1430He spak and preide him of a bone,

To se this Couste, wher sche duelleth

At hom with him, so as he telleth.

The Senatour was wel appaied,

This thing no lengere is delaied,

To se this Couste goth the king;

And sche was warned of the thing,

And with Heleine forth sche cam

Ayein the king, and he tho nam

Good hiede, and whan he sih his wif,

1440Anon with al his hertes lif

He cawhte hire in his arm and kiste.

Was nevere wiht that sih ne wiste

A man that more joie made,

Wherof thei weren alle glade

Whiche herde tellen of this chance.

This king tho with his wif Constance,

Which hadde a gret part of his wille,

In Rome for a time stille

Abod and made him wel at ese:

1450Bot so yit cowthe he nevere plese

His wif, that sche him wolde sein

Of hire astat the trowthe plein,

Of what contre that sche was bore,

Ne what sche was, and yit therfore

With al his wit he hath don sieke.

Thus as they lihe abedde and spieke,

Sche preide him and conseileth bothe,

That for the worschipe of hem bothe,

So as hire thoghte it were honeste,

1460He wolde an honourable feste

Make, er he wente, in the Cite,

Wher themperour himself schal be:

He graunteth al that sche him preide.

Bot as men in that time seide,

This Emperour fro thilke day

That ferst his dowhter wente away

He was thanne after nevere glad;

Bot what that eny man him bad

Of grace for his dowhter sake,

1470That grace wolde he noght forsake;

And thus ful gret almesse he dede,

Wherof sche hadde many a bede.

This Emperour out of the toun

Withinne a ten mile enviroun,

Where as it thoghte him for the beste,

Hath sondry places forto reste;

And as fortune wolde tho,

He was duellende at on of tho.

The king Allee forth with thassent

1480Of Couste his wif hath thider sent

Moris his Sone, as he was taght,

To themperour and he goth straght,

And in his fader half besoghte,

As he which his lordschipe soghte,

That of his hihe worthinesse

He wolde do so gret meknesse,

His oghne toun to come and se,

And yive a time in the cite,

So that his fader mihte him gete

1490That he wolde ones with him ete.

This lord hath granted his requeste;

And whan the dai was of the feste,

In worschipe of here Emperour

The king and ek the Senatour

Forth with here wyves bothe tuo,

With many a lord and lady mo,

On horse riden him ayein;

Til it befell, upon a plein

Thei sihen wher he was comende.

1500With that Constance anon preiende

Spak to hir lord that he abyde,

So that sche mai tofore ryde,

To ben upon his bienvenue

The ferste which schal him salue;

And thus after hire lordes graunt

Upon a Mule whyt amblaunt

Forth with a fewe rod this qweene.

Thei wondren what sche wolde mene,

And riden after softe pas;

1510Bot whan this ladi come was

To themperour, in his presence

Sche seide alowd in audience,

“Mi lord, mi fader, wel you be!

And of this time that I se

Youre honour and your goode hele,

Which is the helpe of my querele,

I thonke unto the goddes myht.”

For joie his herte was affliht

Of that sche tolde in remembrance;

1520And whanne he wiste it was Constance,

Was nevere fader half so blithe.

Wepende he keste hire ofte sithe,

So was his herte al overcome;

For thogh his Moder were come

Fro deth to lyve out of the grave,

He mihte nomor wonder have

Than he hath whan that he hire sih.

With that hire oghne lord cam nyh

And is to themperour obeied;

1530Bot whan the fortune is bewreied,

How that Constance is come aboute,

So hard an herte was non oute,

That he for pite tho ne wepte.

Arcennus, which hire fond and kepte,

Was thanne glad of that is falle,

So that with joie among hem alle

Thei riden in at Rome gate.

This Emperour thoghte al to late,

Til that the Pope were come,

1540And of the lordes sende some

To preie him that he wolde haste:

And he cam forth in alle haste,

And whan that he the tale herde,

How wonderly this chance ferde,

He thonketh god of his miracle,

To whos miht mai be non obstacle:

The king a noble feste hem made,

And thus thei weren alle glade.

A parlement, er that thei wente,

1550Thei setten unto this entente,

To puten Rome in full espeir

That Moris was apparant heir

And scholde abide with hem stille,

For such was al the londes wille.

Whan every thing was fulli spoke,

Of sorwe and queint was al the smoke,

Tho tok his leve Allee the king,

And with full many a riche thing,

Which themperour him hadde yive,

1560He goth a glad lif forto live;

For he Constance hath in his hond,

Which was the confort of his lond.

For whan that he cam hom ayein,

Ther is no tunge it mihte sein

What joie was that ilke stounde

Of that he hath his qweene founde,

Which ferst was sent of goddes sonde,

Whan sche was drive upon the Stronde,

Be whom the misbelieve of Sinne

1570Was left, and Cristes feith cam inne

To hem that whilom were blinde.

Bot he which hindreth every kinde

And for no gold mai be forboght,

The deth comende er he be soght,

Tok with this king such aqueintance,

That he with al his retenance

Ne mihte noght defende his lif;

And thus he parteth from his wif,

Which thanne made sorwe ynowh.

1580And therupon hire herte drowh

To leven Engelond for evere

And go wher that sche hadde levere,

To Rome, whenne that sche cam:

And thus of al the lond sche nam

Hir leve, and goth to Rome ayein.

And after that the bokes sein,

She was noght there bot a throwe,

Whan deth of kinde hath overthrowe

Hir worthi fader, which men seide

1590That he betwen hire armes deide.

And afterward the yer suiende

The god hath mad of hire an ende,

And fro this worldes faierie

Hath take hire into compaignie.

Moris hir Sone was corouned,

Which so ferforth was abandouned

To Cristes feith, that men him calle

Moris the cristeneste of alle.

And thus the wel meninge of love

1600Was ate laste set above;

And so as thou hast herd tofore,

The false tunges weren lore,

Whiche upon love wolden lie.

Forthi touchende of this Envie

Which longeth unto bacbitinge,

Be war thou make no lesinge

In hindringe of an other wiht:

And if thou wolt be tawht ariht

What meschief bakbitinge doth

1610Be other weie, a tale soth

Now miht thou hiere next suiende,

Which to this vice is acordende.

In a Cronique, as thou schalt wite,

A gret ensample I finde write,

Which I schal telle upon this thing.

Philippe of Macedoyne kyng

Two Sones hadde be his wif,

Whos fame is yit in Grece rif:

Demetrius the ferste brother

1620Was hote, and Perses that other.

Demetrius men seiden tho

The betre knyht was of the tuo,

To whom the lond was entendant,

As he which heir was apparant

To regne after his fader dai:

Bot that thing which no water mai

Quenche in this world, bot evere brenneth,

Into his brother herte it renneth,

The proude Envie of that he sih

1630His brother scholde clymbe on hih,

And he to him mot thanne obeie:

That may he soffre be no weie.

With strengthe dorst he nothing fonde,

So tok he lesinge upon honde,

Whan he sih time and spak therto.

For it befell that time so,

His fader grete werres hadde

With Rome, whiche he streite ladde

Thurgh mihty hond of his manhode,

1640As he which hath ynowh knihthode,

And ofte hem hadde sore grieved.

Bot er the werre were achieved,

As he was upon ordinance

At hom in Grece, it fell per chance,

Demetrius, which ofte aboute

Ridende was, stod that time oute,

So that this Perse in his absence,

Which bar the tunge of pestilence,

With false wordes whiche he feigneth

1650Upon his oghne brother pleigneth

In privete behinde his bak,

And to his fader thus he spak:

“Mi diere fader, I am holde

Be weie of kinde, as resoun wolde,

That I fro yow schal nothing hide,

Which mihte torne in eny side

Of youre astat into grevance:

Forthi myn hertes obeissance

Towardes you I thenke kepe;

1660For it is good ye take kepe

Upon a thing which is me told.

Mi brother hath ous alle sold

To hem of Rome, and you also;

For thanne they behote him so,

That he with hem schal regne in pes.

Thus hath he cast for his encress

That youre astat schal go to noght;

And this to proeve schal be broght

So ferforth, that I undertake

1670It schal noght wel mow be forsake.”

The king upon this tale ansuerde

And seide, if this thing which he herde

Be soth and mai be broght to prove,

“It schal noght be to his behove,

Which so hath schapen ous the werste,

For he himself schal be the ferste

That schal be ded, if that I mai.”

Thus afterward upon a dai,

Whan that Demetrius was come,

1680Anon his fader hath him nome,

And bad unto his brother Perse

That he his tale schal reherse

Of thilke tresoun which he tolde.

And he, which al untrowthe wolde,

Conseileth that so hih a nede

Be treted wher as it mai spede,

In comun place of juggement.

The king therto yaf his assent,

Demetrius was put in hold,

1690Wherof that Perses was bold.

Thus stod the trowthe under the charge,

And the falshede goth at large,

Which thurgh beheste hath overcome

The greteste of the lordes some,

That privelich of his acord

Thei stonde as witnesse of record:

The jugge was mad favorable:

Thus was the lawe deceivable

So ferforth that the trowthe fond

1700Rescousse non, and thus the lond

Forth with the king deceived were.

The gulteles was dampned there

And deide upon accusement:

Bot such a fals conspirement,

Thogh it be prive for a throwe,

Godd wolde noght it were unknowe;

And that was afterward wel proved

In him which hath the deth controved.

Of that his brother was so slain

1710This Perses was wonder fain,

As he that tho was apparant,

Upon the Regne and expectant;

Wherof he wax so proud and vein,

That he his fader in desdeign

Hath take and set of non acompte,

As he which thoghte him to surmonte;

That wher he was ferst debonaire,

He was tho rebell and contraire,

And noght as heir bot as a king

1720He tok upon him alle thing

Of malice and of tirannie

In contempt of the Regalie,

Livende his fader, and so wroghte,

That whan the fader him bethoghte

And sih to whether side it drowh,

Anon he wiste well ynowh

How Perse after his false tunge

Hath so thenvious belle runge,

That he hath slain his oghne brother.

1730Wherof as thanne he knew non other,

Bot sodeinly the jugge he nom,

Which corrupt sat upon the dom,

In such a wise and hath him pressed,

That he the sothe him hath confessed

Of al that hath be spoke and do.

Mor sori than the king was tho

Was nevere man upon this Molde,

And thoghte in certain that he wolde

Vengance take upon this wrong.

1740Bot thother parti was so strong,

That for the lawe of no statut

Ther mai no riht ben execut;

And upon this division

The lond was torned up so doun:

Wherof his herte is so distraght,

That he for pure sorwe hath caght

The maladie of which nature

Is queint in every creature.

And whan this king was passed thus,

1750This false tunged Perses

The regiment hath underfonge.

Bot ther mai nothing stonde longe

Which is noght upon trowthe grounded;

For god, which alle thing hath bounded

And sih the falshod of his guile,

Hath set him bot a litel while,

That he schal regne upon depos;

For sodeinliche as he aros

So sodeinliche doun he fell.

1760In thilke time it so befell,

This newe king of newe Pride

With strengthe schop him forto ride,

And seide he wolde Rome waste,

Wherof he made a besi haste,

And hath assembled him an host

In al that evere he mihte most:

What man that mihte wepne bere

Of alle he wolde non forbere;

So that it mihte noght be nombred,

1770The folk which after was encombred

Thurgh him, that god wolde overthrowe.

Anon it was at Rome knowe,

The pompe which that Perse ladde;

And the Romeins that time hadde

A Consul, which was cleped thus

Be name, Paul Emilius,

A noble, a worthi kniht withalle;

And he, which chief was of hem alle,

This werre on honde hath undertake.

1780And whanne he scholde his leve take

Of a yong dowhter which was his,

Sche wepte, and he what cause it is

Hire axeth, and sche him ansuerde

That Perse is ded; and he it herde,

And wondreth what sche meene wolde:

And sche upon childhode him tolde

That Perse hir litel hound is ded.

With that he pulleth up his hed

And made riht a glad visage,

1790And seide how that was a presage

Touchende unto that other Perse,

Of that fortune him scholde adverse,

He seith, for such a prenostik

Most of an hound was to him lik:

For as it is an houndes kinde

To berke upon a man behinde,

Riht so behinde his brother bak

With false wordes whiche he spak

He hath do slain, and that is rowthe.

1800“Bot he which hateth alle untrowthe,

The hihe god, it schal redresse;

For so my dowhter prophetesse

Forth with hir litel houndes deth

Betokneth.” And thus forth he geth

Conforted of this evidence,

With the Romeins in his defence

Ayein the Greks that ben comende.

This Perses, as noght seende

This meschief which that him abod,

1810With al his multitude rod,

And prided him upon the thing,

Of that he was become a king,

And how he hadde his regne gete;

Bot he hath al the riht foryete

Which longeth unto governance.

Wherof thurgh goddes ordinance

It fell, upon the wynter tide

That with his host he scholde ride

Over Danubie thilke flod,

1820Which al befrose thanne stod

So harde, that he wende wel

To passe: bot the blinde whiel,

Which torneth ofte er men be war,

Thilke ys which that the horsmen bar

Tobrak, so that a gret partie

Was dreint; of the chivalerie

The rerewarde it tok aweie,

Cam non of hem to londe dreie.

Paulus the worthi kniht Romein

1830Be his aspie it herde sein,

And hasteth him al that he may,

So that upon that other day

He cam wher he this host beheld,

And that was in a large feld,

Wher the Baneres ben desplaied.

He hath anon hise men arraied,

And whan that he was embatailled,

He goth and hath the feld assailed,

And slowh and tok al that he fond;

1840Wherof the Macedoyne lond,

Which thurgh king Alisandre honoured

Long time stod, was tho devoured.

To Perse and al that infortune

Thei wyte, so that the comune

Of al the lond his heir exile;

And he despeired for the while

Desguised in a povere wede

To Rome goth, and ther for nede

The craft which thilke time was,

1850To worche in latoun and in bras,

He lerneth for his sustienance.

Such was the Sones pourveance,

And of his fader it is seid,

In strong prisoun that he was leid

In Albe, wher that he was ded

For hunger and defalte of bred.

The hound was tokne and prophecie

That lich an hound he scholde die,

Which lich was of condicioun,

1860Whan he with his detraccioun

Bark on his brother so behinde.

Lo, what profit a man mai finde,

Which hindre wole an other wiht.

Forthi with al thin hole miht,

Mi Sone, eschuie thilke vice.

Mi fader, elles were I nyce:

For ye therof so wel have spoke,

That it is in myn herte loke

And evere schal: bot of Envie,

1870If ther be more in his baillie

Towardes love, sai me what.

Mi Sone, as guile under the hat

With sleyhtes of a tregetour

Is hidd, Envie of such colour

Hath yit the ferthe deceivant,

The which is cleped Falssemblant,

Wherof the matiere and the forme

Now herkne and I thee schal enforme.

Of Falssemblant if I schal telle,

1880Above alle othre it is the welle

Out of the which deceipte floweth.

Ther is noman so wys that knoweth

Of thilke flod which is the tyde,

Ne how he scholde himselven guide

To take sauf passage there.

And yit the wynd to mannes Ere

Is softe, and as it semeth oute

It makth clier weder al aboute;

Bot thogh it seme, it is noght so.

1890For Falssemblant hath everemo

Of his conseil in compaignie

The derke untrewe Ypocrisie,

Whos word descordeth to his thoght:

Forthi thei ben togedre broght

Of o covine, of on houshold,

As it schal after this be told.

Of Falssemblant it nedeth noght

To telle of olde ensamples oght;

For al dai in experience

1900A man mai se thilke evidence

Of faire wordes whiche he hiereth;

Bot yit the barge Envie stiereth

And halt it evere fro the londe,

Wher Falssemblant with Ore on honde

It roweth, and wol noght arive,

Bot let it on the wawes dryve

In gret tempeste and gret debat,

Wherof that love and his astat

Empeireth. And therfore I rede,

1910Mi Sone, that thou fle and drede

This vice, and what that othre sein,

Let thi Semblant be trewe and plein.

For Falssemblant is thilke vice,

Which nevere was withoute office:

Wher that Envie thenkth to guile,

He schal be for that ilke while

Of prive conseil Messagier.

For whan his semblant is most clier,

Thanne is he most derk in his thoght,

1920Thogh men him se, thei knowe him noght;

Bot as it scheweth in the glas

Thing which therinne nevere was,

So scheweth it in his visage

That nevere was in his corage:

Thus doth he al his thing with sleyhte.

Now ley thi conscience in weyhte,

Mi goode Sone, and schrif the hier,

If thou were evere Custummer

To Falssemblant in eny wise.

1930For ought I can me yit avise,

Mi goode fader, certes no.

If I for love have oght do so,

Now asketh, I wol praie yow:

For elles I wot nevere how

Of Falssemblant that I have gilt.

Mi Sone, and sithen that thou wilt

That I schal axe, gabbe noght,

Bot tell if evere was thi thoght

With Falssemblant and coverture

1940To wite of eny creature

How that he was with love lad;

So were he sori, were he glad,

Whan that thou wistest how it were,

Al that he rounede in thin Ere

Thou toldest forth in other place,

To setten him fro loves grace

Of what womman that thee beste liste,

Ther as noman his conseil wiste

Bot thou, be whom he was deceived

1950Of love, and from his pourpos weyved;

And thoghtest that his destourbance

Thin oghne cause scholde avance,

As who saith, “I am so celee,

Ther mai no mannes privete

Be heled half so wel as myn.”

Art thou, mi Sone, of such engin?

Tell on. Mi goode fader, nay

As for the more part I say;

Bot of somdiel I am beknowe,

1960That I mai stonde in thilke rowe

Amonges hem that Saundres use.

I wol me noght therof excuse,

That I with such colour ne steyne,

Whan I my beste Semblant feigne

To my felawh, til that I wot

Al his conseil bothe cold and hot:

For be that cause I make him chiere,

Til I his love knowe and hiere;

And if so be myn herte soucheth

1970That oght unto my ladi toucheth

Of love that he wol me telle,

Anon I renne unto the welle

And caste water in the fyr,

So that his carte amidd the Myr,

Be that I have his conseil knowe,

Fulofte sithe I overthrowe,

Whan that he weneth best to stonde.

Bot this I do you understonde,

If that a man love elles where,

1980So that my ladi be noght there,

And he me telle, I wole it hide,

Ther schal no word ascape aside,

For with deceipte of no semblant

To him breke I no covenant;

Me liketh noght in other place

To lette noman of his grace,

Ne forto ben inquisitif

To knowe an other mannes lif:

Wher that he love or love noght,

1990That toucheth nothing to my thoght,

Bot al it passeth thurgh myn Ere

Riht as a thing that nevere were,

And is foryete and leid beside.

Bot if it touche on eny side

Mi ladi, as I have er spoken,

Myn Eres ben noght thanne loken;

For certes, whanne that betitt,

My will, myn herte and al my witt

Ben fully set to herkne and spire

2000What eny man wol speke of hire.

Thus have I feigned compaignie

Fulofte, for I wolde aspie

What thing it is that eny man

Telle of mi worthi lady can:

And for tuo causes I do this,

The ferste cause wherof is,-

If that I myhte ofherkne and seke

That eny man of hire mispeke,

I wolde excuse hire so fully,

2010That whan sche wist in inderly,

Min hope scholde be the more

To have hir thank for everemore.

That other cause, I you assure,

Is, why that I be coverture

Have feigned semblant ofte time

To hem that passen alday byme

And ben lovers als wel as I,

For this I weene trewely,

That ther is of hem alle non,

2020That thei ne loven everich on

Mi ladi: for sothliche I lieve

And durste setten it in prieve,

Is non so wys that scholde asterte,

Bot he were lustles in his herte,

Forwhy and he my ladi sihe,

Hir visage and hir goodlych yhe,

Bot he hire lovede, er he wente.

And for that such is myn entente,

That is the cause of myn aspie,

2030Why that I feigne compaignie

And make felawe overal;

For gladly wolde I knowen al

And holde me covert alway,

That I fulofte ye or nay

Ne liste ansuere in eny wise,

Bot feigne semblant as the wise

And herkne tales, til I knowe

Mi ladi lovers al arowe.

And whanne I hiere how thei have wroght,

2040I fare as thogh I herde it noght

And as I no word understode;

Bot that is nothing for here goode:

For lieveth wel, the sothe is this,

That whanne I knowe al how it is,

I wol bot forthren hem a lite,

Bot al the worste I can endite

I telle it to my ladi plat

In forthringe of myn oghne astat,

And hindre hem al that evere I may.

2050Bot for al that yit dar I say,

I finde unto miself no bote,

Althogh myn herte nedes mote

Thurgh strengthe of love al that I hiere

Discovere unto my ladi diere:

For in good feith I have no miht

To hele fro that swete wiht,

If that it touche hire eny thing.

Bot this wot wel the hevene king,

That sithen ferst this world began,

2060Unto non other strange man

Ne feigned I semblant ne chiere,

To wite or axe of his matiere,

Thogh that he lovede ten or tuelve,

Whanne it was noght my ladi selve:

Bot if he wolde axe eny red

Al onlich of his oghne hed,

How he with other love ferde,

His tales with myn Ere I herde,

Bot to myn herte cam it noght

2070Ne sank no deppere in my thoght,

Bot hield conseil, as I was bede,

And tolde it nevere in other stede,

Bot let it passen as it com.

Now, fader, say what is thi dom,

And hou thou wolt that I be peined

For such Semblant as I have feigned.

Mi Sone, if reson be wel peised,

Ther mai no vertu ben unpreised

Ne vice non be set in pris.

2080Forthi, my Sone, if thou be wys,

Do no viser upon thi face,

Which as wol noght thin herte embrace:

For if thou do, withinne a throwe

To othre men it schal be knowe,

So miht thou lihtli falle in blame

And lese a gret part of thi name.

And natheles in this degree

Fulofte time thou myht se

Of suche men that now aday

2090This vice setten in a say:

I speke it for no mannes blame,

Bot forto warne thee the same.

Mi Sone, as I mai hiere talke

In every place where I walke,

I not if it be so or non,

Bot it is manye daies gon

That I ferst herde telle this,

How Falssemblant hath ben and is

Most comunly fro yer to yere

2100With hem that duelle among ous here,

Of suche as we Lombardes calle.

For thei ben the slyeste of alle,

So as men sein in toune aboute,

To feigne and schewe thing withoute

Which is revers to that withinne:

Wherof that thei fulofte winne,

Whan thei be reson scholden lese;

Thei ben the laste and yit thei chese,

And we the ferste, and yit behinde

2110We gon, there as we scholden finde

The profit of oure oghne lond:

Thus gon thei fre withoute bond

To don her profit al at large,

And othre men bere al the charge.

Of Lombardz unto this covine,

Whiche alle londes conne engine,

Mai Falssemblant in special

Be likned, for thei overal,

Wher as they thenken forto duelle,

2120Among hemself, so as thei telle,

Ferst ben enformed forto lere

A craft which cleped is Fa crere:

For if Fa crere come aboute,

Thanne afterward hem stant no doute

To voide with a soubtil hond

The beste goodes of the lond

And bringe chaf and take corn.

Where as Fa crere goth toforn,

In all his weie he fynt no lette;

2130That Dore can non huissher schette

In which him list to take entre:

And thus the conseil most secre

Of every thing Fa crere knoweth,

Which into strange place he bloweth,

Where as he wot it mai most grieve.

And thus Fa crere makth believe,

So that fulofte he hath deceived,

Er that he mai ben aperceived.

Thus is this vice forto drede;

2140For who these olde bokes rede

Of suche ensamples as were ar,

Him oghte be the more war

Of alle tho that feigne chiere,

Wherof thou schalt a tale hiere.

Of Falssemblant which is believed

Ful many a worthi wiht is grieved,

And was long time er we wer bore.

To thee, my Sone, I wol therfore

A tale telle of Falssemblant,

2150Which falseth many a covenant,

And many a fraude of fals conseil

Ther ben hangende upon his Seil:

And that aboghten gulteles

Bothe Deianire and Hercules,

The whiche in gret desese felle

Thurgh Falssemblant, as I schal telle.

Whan Hercules withinne a throwe

Al only hath his herte throwe

Upon this faire Deianire,

2160It fell him on a dai desire,

Upon a Rivere as he stod,

That passe he wolde over the flod

Withoute bot, and with him lede

His love, bot he was in drede

For tendresce of that swete wiht,

For he knew noght the forde ariht.

Ther was a Geant thanne nyh,

Which Nessus hihte, and whanne he sih

This Hercules and Deianyre,

2170Withinne his herte he gan conspire,

As he which thurgh his tricherie

Hath Hercules in gret envie,

Which he bar in his herte loke,

And thanne he thoghte it schal be wroke.

Bot he ne dorste natheles

Ayein this worthi Hercules

Falle in debat as forto feihte;

Bot feigneth Semblant al be sleihte

Of frendschipe and of alle goode,

2180And comth where as thei bothe stode,

And makth hem al the chiere he can,

And seith that as here oghne man

He is al redy forto do

What thing he mai; and it fell so

That thei upon his Semblant triste,

And axen him if that he wiste

What thing hem were best to done,

So that thei mihten sauf and sone

The water passe, he and sche.

2190And whan Nessus the privete

Knew of here herte what it mente,

As he that was of double entente,

He made hem riht a glad visage;

And whanne he herde of the passage

Of him and hire, he thoghte guile,

And feigneth Semblant for a while

To don hem plesance and servise,

Bot he thoghte al an other wise.

This Nessus with hise wordes slyhe

2200Yaf such conseil tofore here yhe

Which semeth outward profitable

And was withinne deceivable.

He bad hem of the Stremes depe

That thei be war and take kepe,

So as thei knowe noght the pas;

Bot forto helpe in such a cas,

He seith himself that for here ese

He wolde, if that it mihte hem plese,

The passage of the water take,

2210And for this ladi undertake

To bere unto that other stronde

And sauf to sette hire up alonde,

And Hercules may thanne also

The weie knowe how he schal go:

And herto thei acorden alle.

Bot what as after schal befalle,

Wel payd was Hercules of this,

And this Geant also glad is,

And tok this ladi up alofte

2220And set hire on his schuldre softe,

And in the flod began to wade,

As he which no grucchinge made,

And bar hire over sauf and sound.

Bot whanne he stod on dreie ground

And Hercules was fer behinde,

He sette his trowthe al out of mynde,

Who so therof be lief or loth,

With Deianyre and forth he goth,

As he that thoghte to dissevere

2230The compaignie of hem for evere.

Whan Hercules therof tok hiede,

Als faste as evere he mihte him spiede

He hyeth after in a throwe;

And hapneth that he hadde a bowe,

The which in alle haste he bende,

As he that wolde an Arwe sende,

Which he tofore hadde envenimed.

He hath so wel his schote timed,

That he him thurgh the bodi smette,

2240And thus the false wiht he lette.

Bot lest now such a felonie:

Whan Nessus wiste he scholde die,

He tok to Deianyre his scherte,

Which with the blod was of his herte

Thurghout desteigned overal,

And tolde how sche it kepe schal

Al prively to this entente,

That if hire lord his herte wente

To love in eny other place,

2250The scherte, he seith, hath such a grace,

That if sche mai so mochel make

That he the scherte upon him take,

He schal alle othre lete in vein

And torne unto hire love ayein.

Who was tho glad bot Deianyre?

Hire thoghte hire herte was afyre

Til it was in hire cofre loke,

So that no word therof was spoke.

The daies gon, the yeres passe,

2260The hertes waxen lasse and lasse

Of hem that ben to love untrewe:

This Hercules with herte newe

His love hath set on Eolen,

And therof spieken alle men.

This Eolen, this faire maide,

Was, as men thilke time saide,

The kinges dowhter of Eurice;

And sche made Hercules so nyce

Upon hir Love and so assote,

2270That he him clotheth in hire cote,

And sche in his was clothed ofte;

And thus fieblesce is set alofte,

And strengthe was put under fote,

Ther can noman therof do bote.

Whan Deianyre hath herd this speche,

Ther was no sorwe forto seche:

Of other helpe wot sche non,

Bot goth unto hire cofre anon;

With wepende yhe and woful herte

2280Sche tok out thilke unhappi scherte,

As sche that wende wel to do,

And broghte hire werk aboute so

That Hercules this scherte on dede,

To such entente as she was bede

Of Nessus, so as I seide er.

Bot therof was sche noght the ner,

As no fortune may be weyved;

With Falssemblant sche was deceived,

That whan sche wende best have wonne,

2290Sche lost al that sche hath begonne.

For thilke scherte unto the bon

His body sette afyre anon,

And cleveth so, it mai noght twinne,

For the venym that was therinne.

And he thanne as a wilde man

Unto the hihe wode he ran,

And as the Clerk Ovide telleth,

The grete tres to grounde he felleth

With strengthe al of his oghne myght,

2300And made an huge fyr upriht,

And lepte himself therinne at ones

And brende him bothe fleissh and bones.

Which thing cam al thurgh Falssemblant,

That false Nessus the Geant

Made unto him and to his wif;

Wherof that he hath lost his lif,

And sche sori for everemo.

Forthi, my Sone, er thee be wo,

I rede, be wel war therfore;

2310For whan so gret a man was lore,

It oghte yive a gret conceipte

To warne alle othre of such deceipte.

Grant mercy, fader, I am war

So fer that I nomore dar

Of Falssemblant take aqueintance;

Bot rathere I wol do penance

That I have feigned chiere er this.

Now axeth forth, what so ther is

Of that belongeth to my schrifte.

2320Mi Sone, yit ther is the fifte

Which is conceived of Envie,

And cleped is Supplantarie,

Thurgh whos compassement and guile

Ful many a man hath lost his while

In love als wel as otherwise,

Hierafter as I schal devise.

The vice of Supplantacioun

With many a fals collacioun,

Which he conspireth al unknowe,

2330Full ofte time hath overthrowe

The worschipe of an other man.

So wel no lif awayte can

Ayein his sleyhte forto caste,

That he his pourpos ate laste

Ne hath, er that it be withset.

Bot most of alle his herte is set

In court upon these grete Offices

Of dignitees and benefices:

Thus goth he with his sleyhte aboute

2340To hindre and schowve an other oute

And stonden with his slyh compas

In stede there an other was;

And so to sette himselven inne,

He reccheth noght, be so he winne,

Of that an other man schal lese,

And thus fulofte chalk for chese

He changeth with ful litel cost,

Wherof an other hath the lost

And he the profit schal receive.

2350For his fortune is to deceive

And forto change upon the whel

His wo with othre mennes wel:

Of that an other man avaleth,

His oghne astat thus up he haleth,

And takth the bridd to his beyete,

Wher othre men the buisshes bete.

Mi Sone, and in the same wise

Ther ben lovers of such emprise,

That schapen hem to be relieved

2360Where it is wrong to ben achieved:

For it is other mannes riht,

Which he hath taken dai and niht

To kepe for his oghne Stor

Toward himself for everemor,

And is his propre be the lawe,

Which thing that axeth no felawe,

If love holde his covenant.

Bot thei that worchen be supplaunt,

Yit wolden thei a man supplaunte,

2370And take a part of thilke plaunte

Which he hath for himselve set:

And so fulofte is al unknet,

That som man weneth be riht fast.

For Supplant with his slyhe cast

Fulofte happneth forto mowe

Thing which an other man hath sowe,

And makth comun of proprete

With sleihte and with soubtilite,

As men mai se fro yer to yere.

2380Thus cleymeth he the bot to stiere,

Of which an other maister is.

Forthi, my Sone, if thou er this

Hast ben of such professioun,

Discovere thi confessioun:

Hast thou supplanted eny man?

For oght that I you telle can,

Min holi fader, as of the dede

I am withouten eny drede

Al gulteles; bot of my thoght

2390Mi conscience excuse I noght.

For were it wrong or were it riht,

Me lakketh nothing bote myht,

That I ne wolde longe er this

Of other mannes love ywiss

Be weie of Supplantacioun

Have mad apropriacioun

And holde that I nevere boghte,

Thogh it an other man forthoghte.

And al this speke I bot of on,

2400For whom I lete alle othre gon;

Bot hire I mai noght overpasse,

That I ne mot alwey compasse,

Me roghte noght be what queintise,

So that I mihte in eny wise

Fro suche that mi ladi serve

Hire herte make forto swerve

Withouten eny part of love.

For be the goddes alle above

I wolde it mihte so befalle,

2410That I al one scholde hem alle

Supplante, and welde hire at mi wille.

And that thing mai I noght fulfille,

Bot if I scholde strengthe make;

And that I dar noght undertake,

Thogh I were as was Alisaundre,

For therof mihte arise sklaundre;

And certes that schal I do nevere,

For in good feith yit hadde I levere

In my simplesce forto die,

2420Than worche such Supplantarie.

Of otherwise I wol noght seie

That if I founde a seker weie,

I wolde as for conclusioun

Worche after Supplantacioun,

So hihe a love forto winne.

Now, fader, if that this be Sinne,

I am al redy to redresce

The gilt of which I me confesse.

Mi goode Sone, as of Supplant

2430Thee thar noght drede tant ne quant,

As for nothing that I have herd,

Bot only that thou hast misferd

Thenkende, and that me liketh noght,

For godd beholt a mannes thoght.

And if thou understode in soth

In loves cause what it doth,

A man to ben a Supplantour,

Thou woldest for thin oghne honour

Be double weie take kepe:

2440Ferst for thin oghne astat to kepe,

To be thiself so wel bethoght

That thou supplanted were noght,

And ek for worschipe of thi name

Towardes othre do the same,

And soffren every man have his.

Bot natheles it was and is,

That in a wayt at alle assaies

Supplant of love in oure daies

The lief fulofte for the levere

2450Forsakth, and so it hath don evere.

Ensample I finde therupon,

At Troie how that Agamenon

Supplantede the worthi knyht

Achilles of that swete wiht,

Which named was Brexei5da;

And also of Crisei5da,

Whom Troilus to love ches,

Supplanted hath Diomedes.

Of Geta and Amphitrion,

2460That whilom weren bothe as on

Of frendschipe and of compaignie,

I rede how that Supplantarie

In love, as it betidde tho,

Beguiled hath on of hem tuo.

For this Geta that I of meene,

To whom the lusti faire Almeene

Assured was be weie of love,

Whan he best wende have ben above

And sikerest of that he hadde,

2470Cupido so the cause ladde,

That whil he was out of the weie,

Amphitrion hire love aweie

Hath take, and in this forme he wroghte.

Be nyhte unto the chambre he soghte,

Wher that sche lay, and with a wyle

He contrefeteth for the whyle

The vois of Gete in such a wise,

That made hire of hire bedd arise,

Wenende that it were he,

2480And let him in, and whan thei be

Togedre abedde in armes faste,

This Geta cam thanne ate laste

Unto the Dore and seide, “Undo.”

And sche ansuerde and bad him go,

And seide how that abedde al warm

Hir lief lay naked in hir arm;

Sche wende that it were soth.

Lo, what Supplant of love doth:

This Geta forth bejaped wente,

2490And yit ne wiste he what it mente;

Amphitrion him hath supplanted

With sleyhte of love and hire enchaunted:

And thus put every man out other,

The Schip of love hath lost his Rother,

So that he can no reson stiere.

And forto speke of this matiere

Touchende love and his Supplant,

A tale which is acordant

Unto thin Ere I thenke enforme.

2500Now herkne, for this is the forme.

Of thilke Cite chief of alle

Which men the noble Rome calle,

Er it was set to Cristes feith,

Ther was, as the Cronique seith,

An Emperour, the which it ladde

In pes, that he no werres hadde:

Ther was nothing desobeissant

Which was to Rome appourtenant,

Bot al was torned into reste.

2510To some it thoghte for the beste,

To some it thoghte nothing so,

And that was only unto tho

Whos herte stod upon knyhthode:

Bot most of alle of his manhode

The worthi Sone of themperour,

Which wolde ben a werreiour,

As he that was chivalerous

Of worldes fame and desirous,

Began his fadre to beseche

2520That he the werres mihte seche,

In strange Marches forto ride.

His fader seide he scholde abide,

And wolde granten him no leve:

Bot he, which wolde noght beleve,

A kniht of his to whom he triste,

So that his fader nothing wiste,

He tok and tolde him his corage,

That he pourposeth a viage.

If that fortune with him stonde,

2530He seide how that he wolde fonde

The grete See to passe unknowe,

And there abyde for a throwe

Upon the werres to travaile.

And to this point withoute faile

This kniht, whan he hath herd his lord,

Is swore, and stant of his acord,

As thei that bothe yonge were;

So that in prive conseil there

Thei ben assented forto wende.

2540And therupon to make an ende,

Tresor ynowh with hem thei token,

And whan the time is best thei loken,

That sodeinliche in a Galeie

Fro Romelond thei wente here weie

And londe upon that other side.

The world fell so that ilke tide,

Which evere hise happes hath diverse,

The grete Soldan thanne of Perse

Ayein the Caliphe of Egipte

2550A werre, which that him beclipte,

Hath in a Marche costeiant.

And he, which was a poursuiant

Worschipe of armes to atteigne,

This Romein, let anon ordeigne,

That he was redi everydel:

And whan he was arraied wel

Of every thing which him belongeth,

Straght unto Kaire his weie he fongeth,

Wher he the Soldan thanne fond,

2560And axeth that withinne his lond

He mihte him for the werre serve,

As he which wolde his thonk deserve.

The Soldan was riht glad with al,

And wel the more in special

Whan that he wiste he was Romein;

Bot what was elles in certein,

That mihte he wite be no weie.

And thus the kniht of whom I seie

Toward the Soldan is beleft,

2570And in the Marches now and eft,

Wher that the dedli werres were,

He wroghte such knihthode there,

That every man spak of him good.

And thilke time so it stod,

This mihti Soldan be his wif

A Dowhter hath, that in this lif

Men seiden ther was non so fair.

Sche scholde ben hir fader hair,

And was of yeres ripe ynowh:

2580Hire beaute many an herte drowh

To bowe unto that ilke lawe

Fro which no lif mai be withdrawe,

And that is love, whos nature

Set lif and deth in aventure

Of hem that knyhthode undertake.

This lusti peine hath overtake

The herte of this Romein so sore,

That to knihthode more and more

Prouesce avanceth his corage.

2590Lich to the Leoun in his rage,

Fro whom that alle bestes fle,

Such was the knyht in his degre:

Wher he was armed in the feld,

Ther dorste non abide his scheld;

Gret pris upon the werre he hadde.

Bot sche which al the chance ladde,

Fortune, schop the Marches so,

That be thassent of bothe tuo,

The Soldan and the Caliphe eke,

2600Bataille upon a dai thei seke,

Which was in such a wise set

That lengere scholde it noght be let.

Thei made hem stronge on every side,

And whan it drowh toward the tide

That the bataille scholde be,

The Soldan in gret privete

A goldring of his dowhter tok,

And made hire swere upon a bok

And ek upon the goddes alle,

2610That if fortune so befalle

In the bataille that he deie,

That sche schal thilke man obeie

And take him to hire housebonde,

Which thilke same Ring to honde

Hire scholde bringe after his deth.

This hath sche swore, and forth he geth

With al the pouer of his lond

Unto the Marche, where he fond

His enemy full embatailled.

2620The Soldan hath the feld assailed:

Thei that ben hardy sone assemblen,

Wherof the dredfull hertes tremblen:

That on sleth, and that other sterveth,

Bot above all his pris deserveth

This knihtly Romein; where he rod,

His dedly swerd noman abod,

Ayein the which was no defence;

Egipte fledde in his presence,

And thei of Perse upon the chace

2630Poursuien: bot I not what grace

Befell, an Arwe out of a bowe

Al sodeinly that ilke throwe

The Soldan smot, and ther he lay:

The chace is left for thilke day,

And he was bore into a tente.

The Soldan sih how that it wente,

And that he scholde algate die;

And to this knyht of Romanie,

As unto him whom he most triste,

2640His Dowhter Ring, that non it wiste,

He tok, and tolde him al the cas,

Upon hire oth what tokne it was

Of that sche scholde ben his wif.

Whan this was seid, the hertes lif

Of this Soldan departeth sone;

And therupon, as was to done,

The dede body wel and faire

Thei carie til thei come at Kaire,

Wher he was worthily begrave.

2650The lordes, whiche as wolden save

The Regne which was desolat,

To bringe it into good astat

A parlement thei sette anon.

Now herkne what fell therupon:

This yonge lord, this worthi kniht

Of Rome, upon the same niht

That thei amorwe trete scholde,

Unto his Bacheler he tolde

His conseil, and the Ring with al

2660He scheweth, thurgh which that he schal,

He seith, the kinges Dowhter wedde,

For so the Ring was leid to wedde,

He tolde, into hir fader hond,

That with what man that sche it fond

Sche scholde him take to hire lord.

And this, he seith, stant of record,

Bot noman wot who hath this Ring.

This Bacheler upon this thing

His Ere and his entente leide,

2670And thoghte more thanne he seide,

And feigneth with a fals visage

That he was glad, bot his corage

Was al set in an other wise.

These olde Philosophres wise

Thei writen upon thilke while,

That he mai best a man beguile

In whom the man hath most credence;

And this befell in evidence

Toward this yonge lord of Rome.

2680His Bacheler, which hadde tome,

Whan that his lord be nihte slepte,

This Ring, the which his maister kepte,

Out of his Pours awey he dede,

And putte an other in the stede.

Amorwe, whan the Court is set,

The yonge ladi was forth fet,

To whom the lordes don homage,

And after that of Mariage

Thei trete and axen of hir wille.

2690Bot sche, which thoghte to fulfille

Hire fader heste in this matiere,

Seide openly, that men mai hiere,

The charge which hire fader bad.

Tho was this Lord of Rome glad

And drowh toward his Pours anon,

Bot al for noght, it was agon:

His Bacheler it hath forthdrawe,

And axeth ther upon the lawe

That sche him holde covenant.

2700The tokne was so sufficant

That it ne mihte be forsake,

And natheles his lord hath take

Querelle ayein his oghne man;

Bot for nothing that evere he can

He mihte as thanne noght ben herd,

So that his cleym is unansuerd,

And he hath of his pourpos failed.

This Bacheler was tho consailed

And wedded, and of thilke Empire

2710He was coroned Lord and Sire,

And al the lond him hath received;

Wherof his lord, which was deceived,

A seknesse er the thridde morwe

Conceived hath of dedly sorwe:

And as he lay upon his deth,

Therwhile him lasteth speche and breth,

He sende for the worthieste

Of al the lond and ek the beste,

And tolde hem al the sothe tho,

2720That he was Sone and Heir also

Of themperour of grete Rome,

And how that thei togedre come,

This kniht and he; riht as it was,

He tolde hem al the pleine cas,

And for that he his conseil tolde,

That other hath al that he wolde,

And he hath failed of his mede:

As for the good he takth non hiede,

He seith, bot only of the love,

2730Of which he wende have ben above.

And therupon be lettre write

He doth his fader forto wite

Of al this matiere as it stod;

And thanne with an hertly mod

Unto the lordes he besoghte

To telle his ladi how he boghte

Hire love, of which an other gladeth;

And with that word his hewe fadeth,

And seide, “A dieu, my ladi swete.”

2740The lif hath lost his kindly hete,

And he lay ded as eny ston;

Wherof was sory manyon,

Bot non of alle so as sche.

This false knyht in his degree

Arested was and put in hold:

For openly whan it was told

Of the tresoun which is befalle,

Thurghout the lond thei seiden alle,

If it be soth that men suppose,

2750His oghne untrowthe him schal depose.

And forto seche an evidence,

With honour and gret reverence,

Wherof they mihten knowe an ende,

To themperour anon thei sende

The lettre which his Sone wrot.

And whan that he the sothe wot,

To telle his sorwe is endeles,

Bot yit in haste natheles

Upon the tale which he herde

2760His Stieward into Perse ferde

With many a worthi Romein eke,

His liege tretour forto seke;

And whan thei thider come were,

This kniht him hath confessed there

How falsly that he hath him bore,

Wherof his worthi lord was lore.

Tho seiden some he scholde deie,

Bot yit thei founden such a weie

That he schal noght be ded in Perse;

2770And thus the skiles ben diverse.

Be cause that he was coroned,

And that the lond was abandoned

To him, althogh it were unriht,

Ther is no peine for him diht;

Bot to this point and to this ende

Thei granten wel that he schal wende

With the Romeins to Rome ayein.

And thus acorded ful and plein,

The qwike body with the dede

2780With leve take forth thei lede,

Wher that Supplant hath his juise.

Wherof that thou thee miht avise

Upon this enformacioun

Touchende of Supplantacioun,

That thou, my Sone, do noght so:

And forto take hiede also

What Supplant doth in other halve,

Ther is noman can finde a salve

Pleinly to helen such a Sor;

2790It hath and schal ben everemor,

Whan Pride is with Envie joint,

He soffreth noman in good point,

Wher that he mai his honour lette.

And therupon if I schal sette

Ensample, in holy cherche I finde

How that Supplant is noght behinde;

God wot if that it now be so:

For in Cronique of time ago

I finde a tale concordable

2800Of Supplant, which that is no fable,

In the manere as I schal telle,

So as whilom the thinges felle.

At Rome, as it hath ofte falle,

The vicair general of alle

Of hem that lieven Cristes feith

His laste day, which non withseith,

Hath schet as to the worldes ije,

Whos name if I schal specefie,

He hihte Pope Nicolas.

2810And thus whan that he passed was,

The Cardinals, that wolden save

The forme of lawe, in the conclave

Gon forto chese a newe Pope,

And after that thei cowthe agrope

Hath ech of hem seid his entente:

Til ate laste thei assente

Upon an holy clerk reclus,

Which full was of gostli vertus;

His pacience and his simplesse

2820Hath set him into hih noblesse.

Thus was he Pope canonized,

With gret honour and intronized,

And upon chance as it is falle,

His name Celestin men calle;

Which notefied was be bulle

To holi cherche and to the fulle

In alle londes magnified.

Bot every worschipe is envied,

And that was thilke time sene:

2830For whan this Pope of whom I meene

Was chose, and othre set beside,

A Cardinal was thilke tide

Which the papat longe hath desired

And therupon gretli conspired;

Bot whan he sih fortune is failed,

For which long time he hath travailed,

That ilke fyr which Ethna brenneth

Thurghout his wofull herte renneth,

Which is resembled to Envie,

2840Wherof Supplant and tricherie

Engendred is; and natheles

He feigneth love, he feigneth pes,

Outward he doth the reverence,

Bot al withinne his conscience

Thurgh fals ymaginacioun

He thoghte Supplantacioun.

And therupon a wonder wyle

He wroghte: for at thilke whyle

It fell so that of his lignage

2850He hadde a clergoun of yong age,

Whom he hath in his chambre affaited.

This Cardinal his time hath waited,

And with his wordes slyhe and queinte,

The whiche he cowthe wysly peinte,

He schop this clerk of which I telle

Toward the Pope forto duelle,

So that withinne his chambre anyht

He lai, and was a prive wyht

Toward the Pope on nyhtes tide.

2860Mai noman fle that schal betide.

This Cardinal, which thoghte guile,

Upon a day whan he hath while

This yonge clerc unto him tok,

And made him swere upon a bok,

And told him what his wille was.

And forth withal a Trompe of bras

He hath him take, and bad him this:

“Thou schalt,” he seide, “whan time is

Awaite, and take riht good kepe,

2870Whan that the Pope is fast aslepe

And that non other man by nyh;

And thanne that thou be so slyh

Thurghout the Trompe into his Ere,

Fro hevene as thogh a vois it were,

To soune of such prolacioun

That he his meditacioun

Therof mai take and understonde,

As thogh it were of goddes sonde.

And in this wise thou schalt seie,

2880That he do thilke astat aweie

Of Pope, in which he stant honoured,

So schal his Soule be socoured

Of thilke worschipe ate laste

In hevene which schal evere laste.”

This clerc, whan he hath herd the forme

How he the Pope scholde enforme,

Tok of the Cardinal his leve,

And goth him hom, til it was Eve,

And prively the trompe he hedde,

2890Til that the Pope was abedde.

And at the Midnyht, whan he knewh

The Pope slepte, thanne he blewh

Withinne his trompe thurgh the wal,

And tolde in what manere he schal

His Papacie leve, and take

His ferste astat: and thus awake

This holi Pope he made thries,

Wherof diverse fantasies

Upon his grete holinesse

2900Withinne his herte he gan impresse.

The Pope ful of innocence

Conceiveth in his conscience

That it is goddes wille he cesse;

Bot in what wise he may relesse

His hihe astat, that wot he noght.

And thus withinne himself bethoght,

He bar it stille in his memoire,

Til he cam to the Consistoire;

And there in presence of hem alle

2910He axeth, if it so befalle

That eny Pope cesse wolde,

How that the lawe it soffre scholde.

Thei seten alle stille and herde,

Was non which to the point ansuerde,

For to what pourpos that it mente

Ther was noman knew his entente,

Bot only he which schop the guile.

This Cardinal the same while

Al openly with wordes pleine

2920Seith, if the Pope wolde ordeigne

That ther be such a lawe wroght,

Than mihte he cesse, and elles noght.

And as he seide, don it was;

The Pope anon upon the cas

Of his Papal Autorite

Hath mad and yove the decre:

And whan that lawe was confermed

In due forme and al affermed,

This innocent, which was deceived,

2930His Papacie anon hath weyved,

Renounced and resigned eke.

That other was nothing to seke,

Bot undernethe such a jape

He hath so for himselve schape,

That how as evere it him beseme,

The Mitre with the Diademe

He hath thurgh Supplantacion:

And in his confirmacion

Upon the fortune of his grace

2940His name is cleped Boneface.

Under the viser of Envie,

Lo, thus was hid the tricherie,

Which hath beguiled manyon.

Bot such conseil ther mai be non,

With treson whan it is conspired,

That it nys lich the Sparke fyred

Up in the Rof, which for a throwe

Lith hidd, til whan the wyndes blowe

It blaseth out on every side.

2950This Bonefas, which can noght hyde

The tricherie of his Supplant,

Hath openly mad his avant

How he the Papacie hath wonne.

Bot thing which is with wrong begonne

Mai nevere stonde wel at ende;

Wher Pride schal the bowe bende,

He schet fulofte out of the weie:

And thus the Pope of whom I seie,

Whan that he stod on hih the whiel,

2960He can noght soffre himself be wel.

Envie, which is loveles,

And Pride, which is laweles,

With such tempeste made him erre,

That charite goth out of herre:

So that upon misgovernance

Ayein Lowyz the king of France

He tok querelle of his oultrage,

And seide he scholde don hommage

Unto the cherche bodily.

2970Bot he, that wiste nothing why

He scholde do so gret servise

After the world in such a wise,

Withstod the wrong of that demande;

For noght the Pope mai comande

The king wol noght the Pope obeie.

This Pope tho be alle weie

That he mai worche of violence

Hath sent the bulle of his sentence

With cursinge and with enterdit.

2980The king upon this wrongful plyt,

To kepe his regne fro servage,

Conseiled was of his Barnage

That miht with miht schal be withstonde.

Thus was the cause take on honde,

And seiden that the Papacie

Thei wolde honoure and magnefie

In al that evere is spirital;

Bot thilke Pride temporal

Of Boneface in his persone,

2990Ayein that ilke wrong al one

Thei wolde stonden in debat:

And thus the man and noght the stat

The Frensche schopen be her miht

To grieve. And fell ther was a kniht,

Sire Guilliam de Langharet,

Which was upon this cause set;

And therupon he tok a route

Of men of Armes and rod oute,

So longe and in a wayt he lay,

3000That he aspide upon a day

The Pope was at Avinoun,

And scholde ryde out of the toun

Unto Pontsorge, the which is

A Castell in Provence of his.

Upon the weie and as he rod,

This kniht, which hoved and abod

Embuisshed upon horse bak,

Al sodeinliche upon him brak

And hath him be the bridel sesed,

3010And seide: “O thou, which hast desesed

The Court of France be thi wrong,

Now schalt thou singe an other song:

Thin enterdit and thi sentence

Ayein thin oghne conscience

Hierafter thou schalt fiele and grope.

We pleigne noght ayein the Pope,

For thilke name is honourable,

Bot thou, which hast be deceivable

And tricherous in al thi werk,

3020Thou Bonefas, thou proude clerk,

Misledere of the Papacie,

Thi false bodi schal abye

And soffre that it hath deserved.”

Lo, thus the Supplantour was served;

For thei him ladden into France

And setten him to his penance

Withinne a tour in harde bondes,

Wher he for hunger bothe hise hondes

Eet of and deide, god wot how:

3030Of whom the wrytinge is yit now

Registred, as a man mai hiere,

Which spekth and seith in this manere:

Thin entre lich the fox was slyh,

Thi regne also with pride on hih

Was lich the Leon in his rage;

Bot ate laste of thi passage

Thi deth was to the houndes like.

Such is the lettre of his Cronique

Proclamed in the Court of Rome,

3040Wherof the wise ensample nome.

And yit, als ferforth as I dar,

I rede alle othre men be war,

And that thei loke wel algate

That non his oghne astat translate

Of holi cherche in no degree

Be fraude ne soubtilite:

For thilke honour which Aaron tok

Schal non receive, as seith the bok,

Bot he be cleped as he was.

3050What I schal thenken in this cas

Of that I hiere now aday,

I not: bot he which can and may,

Be reson bothe and be nature

The help of every mannes cure,

He kepe Simon fro the folde.

For Joachim thilke Abbot tolde

How suche daies scholden falle,

That comunliche in places alle

The Chapmen of such mercerie

3060With fraude and with Supplantarie

So manye scholden beie and selle,

That he ne may for schame telle

So foul a Senne in mannes Ere.

Bot god forbiede that it were

In oure daies that he seith:

For if the Clerc beware his feith

In chapmanhod at such a feire,

The remenant mot nede empeire

Of al that to the world belongeth;

3070For whan that holi cherche wrongeth,

I not what other thing schal rihte.

And natheles at mannes sihte

Envie forto be preferred

Hath conscience so differred,

That noman loketh to the vice

Which is the Moder of malice,

And that is thilke false Envie,

Which causeth many a tricherie;

For wher he may an other se

3080That is mor gracious than he,

It schal noght stonden in his miht

Bot if he hindre such a wiht:

And that is welnyh overal,

This vice is now so general.

Envie thilke unhapp indrowh,

Whan Joab be deceipte slowh

Abner, for drede he scholde be

With king David such as was he.

And thurgh Envie also it fell

3090Of thilke false Achitofell,

For his conseil was noght achieved,

Bot that he sih Cusy believed

With Absolon and him forsake,

He heng himself upon a stake.

Senec witnesseth openly

How that Envie proprely

Is of the Court the comun wenche,

And halt taverne forto schenche

That drink which makth the herte brenne,

3100And doth the wit aboute renne,

Be every weie to compasse

How that he mihte alle othre passe,

As he which thurgh unkindeschipe

Envieth every felaschipe;

So that thou miht wel knowe and se,

Ther is no vice such as he,

Ferst toward godd abhominable,

And to mankinde unprofitable:

And that be wordes bot a fewe

3110I schal be reson prove and schewe.

Envie if that I schal descrive,

He is noght schaply forto wyve

In Erthe among the wommen hiere;

For ther is in him no matiere

Wherof he mihte do plesance.

Ferst for his hevy continance

Of that he semeth evere unglad,

He is noght able to ben had;

And ek he brenneth so withinne,

3120That kinde mai no profit winne,

Wherof he scholde his love plese:

For thilke blod which scholde have ese

To regne among the moiste veines,

Is drye of thilke unkendeli peines

Thurgh whiche Envie is fyred ay.

And thus be reson prove I may

That toward love Envie is noght;

And otherwise if it be soght,

Upon what side as evere it falle,

3130It is the werste vice of alle,

Which of himself hath most malice.

For understond that every vice

Som cause hath, wherof it groweth,

Bot of Envie noman knoweth

Fro whenne he cam bot out of helle.

For thus the wise clerkes telle,

That no spirit bot of malice

Be weie of kinde upon a vice

Is tempted, and be such a weie

3140Envie hath kinde put aweie

And of malice hath his steringe,

Wherof he makth his bakbitinge,

And is himself therof desesed.

So mai ther be no kinde plesed;

For ay the mor that he envieth,

The more ayein himself he plieth.

Thus stant Envie in good espeir

To ben himself the develes heir,

As he which is his nexte liche

3150And forthest fro the heveneriche,

For there mai he nevere wone.

Forthi, my goode diere Sone,

If thou wolt finde a siker weie

To love, put Envie aweie.

Min holy fader, reson wolde

That I this vice eschuie scholde:

Bot yit to strengthe mi corage,

If that ye wolde in avantage

Therof sette a recoverir,

3160It were tome a gret desir,

That I this vice mihte flee.

Nou understond, my Sone, and se,

Ther is phisique for the seke,

And vertus for the vices eke.

Who that the vices wolde eschuie,

He mot be resoun thanne suie

The vertus; for be thilke weie

He mai the vices don aweie,

For thei togedre mai noght duelle:

3170For as the water of a welle

Of fyr abateth the malice,

Riht so vertu fordoth the vice.

Ayein Envie is Charite,

Which is the Moder of Pite,

That makth a mannes herte tendre,

That it mai no malice engendre

In him that is enclin therto.

For his corage is tempred so,

That thogh he mihte himself relieve,

3180Yit wolde he noght an other grieve,

Bot rather forto do plesance

He berth himselven the grevance,

So fain he wolde an other ese.

Wherof, mi Sone, for thin ese

Now herkne a tale which I rede,

And understond it wel, I rede.

Among the bokes of latin

I finde write of Constantin

The worthi Emperour of Rome,

3190Suche infortunes to him come,

Whan he was in his lusti age,

The lepre cawhte in his visage

And so forth overal aboute,

That he ne mihte ryden oute:

So lefte he bothe Schield and spere,

As he that mihte him noght bestere,

And hield him in his chambre clos.

Thurgh al the world the fame aros,

The grete clerkes ben asent

3200And come at his comandement

To trete upon this lordes hele.

So longe thei togedre dele,

That thei upon this medicine

Apointen hem, and determine

That in the maner as it stod

Thei wolde him bathe in childes blod

Withinne sevene wynter age:

For, as thei sein, that scholde assuage

The lepre and al the violence,

3210Which that thei knewe of Accidence

And noght be weie of kinde is falle.

And therto thei acorden alle

As for final conclusioun,

And tolden here opinioun

To themperour: and he anon

His conseil tok, and therupon

With lettres and with seales oute

Thei sende in every lond aboute

The yonge children forto seche,

3220Whos blod, thei seiden, schal be leche

For themperoures maladie.

Ther was ynowh to wepe and crie

Among the Modres, whan thei herde

Hou wofully this cause ferde,

Bot natheles thei moten bowe;

And thus wommen ther come ynowhe

With children soukende on the Tete.

Tho was ther manye teres lete,

Bot were hem lieve or were hem lothe,

3230The wommen and the children bothe

Into the Paleis forth be broght

With many a sory hertes thoght

Of hem whiche of here bodi bore

The children hadde, and so forlore

Withinne a while scholden se.

The Modres wepe in here degre,

And manye of hem aswoune falle,

The yonge babes criden alle:

This noyse aros, the lord it herde,

3240And loked out, and how it ferde

He sih, and as who seith abreide

Out of his slep, and thus he seide:

“O thou divine pourveance,

Which every man in the balance

Of kinde hast formed to be liche,

The povere is bore as is the riche

And deieth in the same wise,

Upon the fol, upon the wise

Siknesse and hele entrecomune;

3250Mai non eschuie that fortune

Which kinde hath in hire lawe set;

Hire strengthe and beaute ben beset

To every man aliche fre,

That sche preferreth no degre

As in the disposicioun

Of bodili complexioun:

And ek of Soule resonable

The povere child is bore als able

To vertu as the kinges Sone;

3260For every man his oghne wone

After the lust of his assay

The vice or vertu chese may.

Thus stonden alle men franchised,

Bot in astat thei ben divised;

To some worschipe and richesse,

To some poverte and distresse,

On lordeth and an other serveth;

Bot yit as every man deserveth

The world yifth noght his yiftes hiere.

3270Bot certes he hath gret matiere

To ben of good condicioun,

Which hath in his subjeccioun

The men that ben of his semblance.”

And ek he tok a remembrance

How he that made lawe of kinde

Wolde every man to lawe binde,

And bad a man, such as he wolde

Toward himself, riht such he scholde

Toward an other don also.

3280And thus this worthi lord as tho

Sette in balance his oghne astat

And with himself stod in debat,

And thoghte hou that it was noght good

To se so mochel mannes blod

Be spilt for cause of him alone.

He sih also the grete mone,

Of that the Modres were unglade,

And of the wo the children made,

Wherof that al his herte tendreth,

3290And such pite withinne engendreth,

That him was levere forto chese

His oghne bodi forto lese,

Than se so gret a moerdre wroght

Upon the blod which gulteth noght.

Thus for the pite which he tok

Alle othre leches he forsok,

And put him out of aventure

Al only into goddes cure;

And seith, “Who that woll maister be,

3300He mot be servant to pite.”

So ferforth he was overcome

With charite, that he hath nome

His conseil and hise officers,

And bad unto hise tresorers

That thei his tresour al aboute

Departe among the povere route

Of wommen and of children bothe,

Wherof thei mihte hem fede and clothe

And saufli tornen hom ayein

3310Withoute lost of eny grein.

Thurgh charite thus he despendeth

His good, wherof that he amendeth

The povere poeple, and contrevaileth

The harm, that he hem so travaileth:

And thus the woful nyhtes sorwe

To joie is torned on the morwe;

Al was thonkinge, al was blessinge,

Which erst was wepinge and cursinge;

Thes wommen gon hom glade ynowh,

3320Echon for joie on other lowh,

And preiden for this lordes hele,

Which hath relessed the querele,

And hath his oghne will forsake

In charite for goddes sake.

Bot now hierafter thou schalt hiere

What god hath wroght in this matiere,

As he which doth al equite.

To him that wroghte charite

He was ayeinward charitous,

3330And to pite he was pitous:

For it was nevere knowe yit

That charite goth unaquit.

The nyht, whan he was leid to slepe,

The hihe god, which wolde him kepe,

Seint Peter and seint Poul him sende,

Be whom he wolde his lepre amende.

Thei tuo to him slepende appiere

Fro god, and seide in this manere:

“O Constantin, for thou hast served

3340Pite, thou hast pite deserved:

Forthi thou schalt such pite have

That god thurgh pite woll thee save.

So schalt thou double hele finde,

Ferst for thi bodiliche kinde,

And for thi wofull Soule also,

Thou schalt ben hol of bothe tuo.

And for thou schalt thee noght despeire,

Thi lepre schal nomore empeire

Til thou wolt sende therupon

3350Unto the Mont of Celion,

Wher that Silvestre and his clergie

Togedre duelle in compaignie

For drede of thee, which many day

Hast ben a fo to Cristes lay,

And hast destruid to mochel schame

The prechours of his holy name.

Bot now thou hast somdiel appesed

Thi god, and with good dede plesed,

That thou thi pite hast bewared

3360Upon the blod which thou hast spared.

Forthi to thi salvacion

Thou schalt have enformacioun,

Such as Silvestre schal the teche:

The nedeth of non other leche.”

This Emperour, which al this herde,

“Grant merci lordes,” he ansuerde,

“I wol do so as ye me seie.

Bot of o thing I wolde preie:

What schal I telle unto Silvestre

3370Or of youre name or of youre estre?”

And thei him tolden what thei hihte,

And forth withal out of his sihte

Thei passen up into the hevene.

And he awok out of his swevene,

And clepeth, and men come anon:

He tolde his drem, and therupon

In such a wise as he hem telleth

The Mont wher that Silvestre duelleth

Thei have in alle haste soght,

3380And founde he was and with hem broght

To themperour, which to him tolde

His swevene and elles what he wolde.

And whan Silvestre hath herd the king,

He was riht joiful of this thing,

And him began with al his wit

To techen upon holi writ

Ferst how mankinde was forlore,

And how the hihe god therfore

His Sone sende from above,

3390Which bore was for mannes love,

And after of his oghne chois

He tok his deth upon the crois;

And how in grave he was beloke,

And how that he hath helle broke,

And tok hem out that were him lieve;

And forto make ous full believe

That he was verrai goddes Sone,

Ayein the kinde of mannes wone

Fro dethe he ros the thridde day,

3400And whanne he wolde, as he wel may,

He styh up to his fader evene

With fleissh and blod into the hevene;

And riht so in the same forme

In fleissh and blod he schal reforme,

Whan time comth, the qwike and dede

At thilke woful dai of drede,

Where every man schal take his dom,

Als wel the Maister as the grom.

The mihti kinges retenue

3410That dai may stonde of no value

With worldes strengthe to defende;

For every man mot thanne entende

To stonde upon his oghne dedes

And leve alle othre mennes nedes.

That dai mai no consail availe,

The pledour and the plee schal faile,

The sentence of that ilke day

Mai non appell sette in delay;

Ther mai no gold the Jugge plie,

3420That he ne schal the sothe trie

And setten every man upriht,

Als wel the plowman as the kniht:

The lewed man, the grete clerk

Schal stonde upon his oghne werk,

And such as he is founde tho,

Such schal he be for everemo.

Ther mai no peine be relessed,

Ther mai no joie ben encressed,

Bot endeles, as thei have do,

3430He schal receive on of the tuo.

And thus Silvestre with his sawe

The ground of al the newe lawe

With gret devocion he precheth,

Fro point to point and pleinly techeth

Unto this hethen Emperour;

And seith, the hihe creatour

Hath underfonge his charite,

Of that he wroghte such pite,

Whan he the children hadde on honde.

3440Thus whan this lord hath understonde

Of al this thing how that it ferde,

Unto Silvestre he thanne ansuerde,

With al his hole herte and seith

That he is redi to the feith.

And so the vessel which for blod

Was mad, Silvestre, ther it stod,

With clene water of the welle

In alle haste he let do felle,

And sette Constantin therinne

3450Al naked up unto the chinne.

And in the while it was begunne,

A liht, as thogh it were a Sunne,

Fro hevene into the place com

Wher that he tok his cristendom;

And evere among the holi tales

Lich as thei weren fisshes skales

Ther fellen from him now and eft,

Til that ther was nothing beleft

Of al his grete maladie.

3460For he that wolde him purefie,

The hihe god hath mad him clene,

So that ther lefte nothing sene;

He hath him clensed bothe tuo,

The bodi and the Soule also.

Tho knew this Emperour in dede

That Cristes feith was forto drede,

And sende anon hise lettres oute

And let do crien al aboute,

Up peine of deth that noman weyve

3470That he baptesme ne receive:

After his Moder qweene Heleine

He sende, and so betwen hem tweine

Thei treten, that the Cite all

Was cristned, and sche forth withall.

This Emperour, which hele hath founde,

Withinne Rome anon let founde

Tuo cherches, which he dede make

For Peter and for Poules sake,

Of whom he hadde avisioun;

3480And yaf therto possessioun

Of lordschipe and of worldes good.

Bot how so that his will was good

Toward the Pope and his Franchise,

Yit hath it proved other wise,

To se the worchinge of the dede:

For in Cronique this I rede;

Anon as he hath mad the yifte,

A vois was herd on hih the lifte,

Of which al Rome was adrad,

3490And seith: “To day is venym schad

In holi cherche of temporal,

Which medleth with the spirital.”

And hou it stant of that degree

Yit mai a man the sothe se:

God mai amende it, whan he wile,

I can ther to non other skile.

Bot forto go ther I began,

How charite mai helpe a man

To bothe worldes, I have seid:

3500And if thou have an Ere leid,

Mi Sone, thou miht understonde,

If charite be take on honde,

Ther folweth after mochel grace.

Forthi, if that thou wolt pourchace

How that thou miht Envie flee,

Aqueinte thee with charite,

Which is the vertu sovereine.

Mi fader, I schal do my peine:

For this ensample which ye tolde

3510With al myn herte I have withholde,

So that I schal for everemore

Eschuie Envie wel the more:

And that I have er this misdo,

Yif me my penance er I go.

And over that to mi matiere

Of schrifte, why we sitten hiere

In privete betwen ous tweie,

Now axeth what ther is, I preie.

Mi goode Sone, and for thi lore

3520I woll thee telle what is more,

So that thou schalt the vices knowe:

For whan thei be to thee full knowe,

Thou miht hem wel the betre eschuie.

And for this cause I thenke suie

The forme bothe and the matiere,

As now suiende thou schalt hiere

Which vice stant next after this:

And whan thou wost how that it is,

As thou schalt hiere me devise,

Thow miht thiself the betre avise. 3530

Explicit Liber Secundus

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54