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Confessio Amantis

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And that was under the monteine
Of Ethna, fell the same tyde
That Pluto cam that weie ryde, 1290
And sodeinly, er sche was war,
He tok hire up into his char.
And as thei riden in the field,
Hire grete beaute he behield,
Which was so plesant in his ije,
That forto holde in compainie
He weddeth hire and hield hire so
To ben his wif for everemo.
And as thou hast tofore herd telle
Hou he was cleped god of helle, 1300
So is sche cleped the goddesse
Be cause of him, ne mor ne lesse.
Lo, thus, mi Sone, as I thee tolde,
The Greks whilom be daies olde
Here goddes hadde in sondri wise,
And thurgh the lore of here aprise
The Romeins hielden ek the same.
And in the worschipe of here name
To every godd in special
Thei made a temple forth withal, 1310
And ech of hem his yeeres dai
Attitled hadde; and of arai
The temples weren thanne ordeigned,
And ek the poeple was constreigned
To come and don here sacrifice;
The Prestes ek in here office
Solempne maden thilke festes.
And thus the Greks lich to the bestes
The men in stede of god honoure,
Whiche mihten noght hemself socoure, 1320
Whil that thei were alyve hiere.
And over this, as thou schalt hiere,
The Greks fulfild of fantasie
Sein ek that of the helles hihe
The goddes ben in special,
Bot of here name in general
Thei hoten alle Satiri.
Ther ben of Nimphes proprely
In the believe of hem also:
Oreades thei seiden tho 1330
Attitled ben to the monteines;
And for the wodes in demeynes
To kepe, tho ben Driades;
Of freisshe welles Naiades;
And of the Nimphes of the See
I finde a tale in proprete,
Hou Dorus whilom king of Grece,
Which hadde of infortune a piece,-
His wif forth with hire dowhtres alle,
So as the happes scholden falle, 1340
With many a gentil womman there
Dreint in the salte See thei were:
Wherof the Greks that time seiden,
And such a name upon hem leiden,
Nerei5des that thei ben hote,
The Nimphes whiche that thei note
To regne upon the stremes salte.
Lo now, if this believe halte!
Bot of the Nimphes as thei telle,
In every place wher thei duelle 1350
Thei ben al redi obeissant
As damoiselles entendant
To the goddesses, whos servise
Thei mote obeie in alle wise;
Wherof the Greks to hem beseke
With tho that ben goddesses eke,
And have in hem a gret credence.
And yit withoute experience
Salve only of illusion,
Which was to hem dampnacion, 1360
For men also that were dede
Thei hadden goddes, as I rede,
And tho be name Manes hihten,
To whom ful gret honour thei dihten,
So as the Grekes lawe seith,
Which was ayein the rihte feith.
Thus have I told a gret partie;
Bot al the hole progenie
Of goddes in that ilke time
To long it were forto rime. 1370
Bot yit of that which thou hast herd,
Of misbelieve hou it hath ferd,
Ther is a gret diversite.
Mi fader, riht so thenketh me.
Bot yit o thing I you beseche,
Which stant in alle mennes speche,
The godd and the goddesse of love,
Of whom ye nothing hier above
Have told, ne spoken of her fare,
That ye me wolden now declare 1380
Hou thei ferst comen to that name.
Mi Sone, I have it left for schame,
Be cause I am here oghne Prest;
Bot for thei stonden nyh thi brest
Upon the schrifte of thi matiere,
Thou schalt of hem the sothe hiere:
And understond nou wel the cas.
Venus Saturnes dowhter was,
Which alle danger putte aweie
Of love, and fond to lust a weie; 1390
So that of hire in sondri place
Diverse men felle into grace,
And such a lusti lif sche ladde,
That sche diverse children hadde,
Nou on be this, nou on be that.
Of hire it was that Mars beyat
A child, which cleped was Armene;
Of hire also cam Andragene,
To whom Mercurie fader was:
Anchises begat Eneas 1400
Of hire also, and Ericon
Biten begat, and therupon,
Whan that sche sih ther was non other,
Be Jupiter hire oghne brother
Sche lay, and he begat Cupide.
And thilke Sone upon a tyde,
Whan he was come unto his Age,
He hadde a wonder fair visage,
And fond his Moder amourous,
And he was also lecherous: 1410
So whan thei weren bothe al one,
As he which yhen hadde none
To se reson, his Moder kiste;
And sche also, that nothing wiste
Bot that which unto lust belongeth,
To ben hire love him underfongeth.
Thus was he blind, and sche unwys:
Bot natheles this cause it is,
Why Cupide is the god of love,
For he his moder dorste love. 1420
And sche, which thoghte hire lustes fonde,
Diverse loves tok in honde,
Wel mo thanne I the tolde hiere:
And for sche wolde hirselve skiere,
Sche made comun that desport,
And sette a lawe of such a port,
That every womman mihte take
What man hire liste, and noght forsake
To ben als comun as sche wolde.
Sche was the ferste also which tolde 1430
That wommen scholde here bodi selle;
Semiramis, so as men telle,
Of Venus kepte thilke aprise,
And so dede in the same wise
Of Rome faire Neabole,
Which liste hire bodi to rigole;
Sche was to every man felawe,
And hild the lust of thilke lawe,
Which Venus of hirself began;
Wherof that sche the name wan, 1440
Why men hire clepen the goddesse
Of love and ek of gentilesse,
Of worldes lust and of plesance.
Se nou the foule mescreance
Of Greks in thilke time tho,
Whan Venus tok hire name so.
Ther was no cause under the Mone
Of which thei hadden tho to done,
Of wel or wo wher so it was,
That thei ne token in that cas 1450
A god to helpe or a goddesse.
Wherof, to take mi witnesse,
The king of Bragmans Dindimus
Wrot unto Alisandre thus:
In blaminge of the Grekes feith
And of the misbelieve, he seith
How thei for every membre hadden
A sondri god, to whom thei spradden
Here armes, and of help besoghten.
Minerve for the hed thei soghten, 1460
For sche was wys, and of a man
The wit and reson which he can
Is in the celles of the brayn,
Wherof thei made hire soverain.
Mercurie, which was in his dawes
A gret spekere of false lawes,
On him the kepinge of the tunge
Thei leide, whan thei spieke or sunge.
For Bachus was a glotoun eke,
Him for the throte thei beseke, 1470
That he it wolde waisshen ofte
With swote drinkes and with softe.
The god of schuldres and of armes
Was Hercules; for he in armes
The myhtieste was to fihte,
To him tho Limes they behihte.
The god whom that thei clepen Mart
The brest to kepe hath for his part,
Forth with the herte, in his ymage
That he adresce the corage. 1480
And of the galle the goddesse,
For sche was full of hastifesse
Of wraththe and liht to grieve also,
Thei made and seide it was Juno.
Cupide, which the brond afyre
Bar in his hond, he was the Sire
Of the Stomak, which builleth evere,
Wherof the lustes ben the levere.
To the goddesse Cereres,
Which of the corn yaf hire encress 1490
Upon the feith that tho was take,
The wombes cure was betake;
And Venus thurgh the Lecherie,
For which that thei hire deifie,
Sche kept al doun the remenant
To thilke office appourtenant.
Thus was dispers in sondri wise
The misbelieve, as I devise,
With many an ymage of entaile,
Of suche as myhte hem noght availe; 1500
For thei withoute lyves chiere
Unmyhti ben to se or hiere
Or speke or do or elles fiele;
And yit the foles to hem knele,
Which is here oghne handes werk.
Ha lord, hou this believe is derk,
And fer fro resonable wit!
And natheles thei don it yit:
That was to day a ragged tre,
To morwe upon his majeste 1510
Stant in the temple wel besein.
How myhte a mannes resoun sein
That such a Stock mai helpe or grieve?
Bot thei that ben of such believe
And unto suche goddes calle,
It schal to hem riht so befalle,
And failen ate moste nede.
Bot if thee list to taken hiede
And of the ferste ymage wite,
Petornius therof hath write 1520
And ek Nigargorus also;
And thei afferme and write so,
That Promothes was tofore
And fond the ferste craft therfore,
And Cirophanes, as thei telle,
Thurgh conseil which was take in helle,
In remembrance of his lignage
Let setten up the ferste ymage.
Of Cirophanes seith the bok,
That he for sorwe, which he tok 1530
Of that he sih his Sone ded,
Of confort knew non other red,
Bot let do make in remembrance
A faire ymage of his semblance
And sette it in the market place,
Which openly tofore his face
Stod every dai to don him ese.
And thei that thanne wolden plese
The fader, scholden it obeie,
Whan that they comen thilke weie. 1540
And of Ninus king of Assire
I rede hou that in his empire
He was next after the secounde
Of hem that ferst ymages founde.
For he riht in semblable cas
Of Belus, which his fader was
Fro Nembroth in the rihte line,
Let make of gold and Stones fine
A precious ymage riche
After his fader evene liche; 1550
And therupon a lawe he sette,
That every man of pure dette
With sacrifice and with truage
Honoure scholde thilke ymage:
So that withinne time it fell,
Of Belus cam the name of Bel,
Of Bel cam Belzebub, and so
The misbelieve wente tho.
The thridde ymage next to this
Was, whan the king of Grece Apis 1560
Was ded, thei maden a figure
In resemblance of his stature.
Of this king Apis seith the bok
That Serapis his name tok,
In whom thurgh long continuance
Of misbelieve a gret creance
Thei hadden, and the reverence
Of Sacrifice and of encence
To him thei made: and as thei telle,
Among the wondres that befelle, 1570
Whan Alisandre fro Candace
Cam ridende, in a wilde place
Undur an hull a Cave he fond;
And Candalus, which in that lond
Was bore, and was Candaces Sone,
Him tolde hou that of commun wone
The goddes were in thilke cave.
And he, that wolde assaie and have
A knowlechinge if it be soth,
Liht of his hors and in he goth, 1580
And fond therinne that he soghte:
For thurgh the fendes sleihte him thoghte,
Amonges othre goddes mo
That Serapis spak to him tho,
Whom he sih there in gret arrai.
And thus the fend fro dai to dai
The worschipe of ydolatrie
Drowh forth upon the fantasie
Of hem that weren thanne blinde
And couthen noght the trouthe finde. 1590
Thus hast thou herd in what degre
Of Grece, Egipte and of Caldee
The misbelieves whilom stode;
And hou so that thei be noght goode
Ne trewe, yit thei sprungen oute,
Wherof the wyde world aboute
His part of misbelieve tok.
Til so befell, as seith the bok,
That god a poeple for himselve
Hath chose of the lignages tuelve, 1600
Wherof the sothe redely,
As it is write in Genesi,
I thenke telle in such a wise
That it schal be to thin apprise.
After the flod, fro which Noe5
Was sauf, the world in his degre
Was mad, as who seith, newe ayein,
Of flour, of fruit, of gras, of grein,
Of beste, of bridd and of mankinde,
Which evere hath be to god unkinde: 1610
For noght withstondende al the fare,
Of that this world was mad so bare
And afterward it was restored,
Among the men was nothing mored
Towardes god of good lyvynge,
Bot al was torned to likinge
After the fleissh, so that foryete
Was he which yaf hem lif and mete,
Of hevene and Erthe creatour.
And thus cam forth the grete errour, 1620
That thei the hihe god ne knewe,
Bot maden othre goddes newe,
As thou hast herd me seid tofore:
Ther was noman that time bore,
That he ne hadde after his chois
A god, to whom he yaf his vois.
Wherof the misbelieve cam
Into the time of Habraham:
Bot he fond out the rihte weie,
Hou only that men scholde obeie 1630
The hihe god, which weldeth al,
And evere hath don and evere schal,
In hevene, in Erthe and ek in helle;
Ther is no tunge his miht mai telle.
This Patriarch to his lignage
Forbad, that thei to non ymage
Encline scholde in none wise,
Bot here offrende and sacrifise
With al the hole hertes love
Unto the mihti god above 1640
Thei scholden yive and to no mo:
And thus in thilke time tho
Began the Secte upon this Erthe,
Which of believes was the ferthe.
Of rihtwisnesse it was conceived,
So moste it nedes be received
Of him that alle riht is inne,
The hihe god, which wolde winne
A poeple unto his oghne feith.
On Habraham the ground he leith, 1650
And made him forto multeplie
Into so gret a progenie,
That thei Egipte al overspradde.
Bot Pharao with wrong hem ladde
In servitute ayein the pes,
Til god let sende Moi5ses
To make the deliverance;
And for his poeple gret vengance
He tok, which is to hiere a wonder.
The king was slain, the lond put under, 1660
God bad the rede See divide,
Which stod upriht on either side
And yaf unto his poeple a weie,
That thei on fote it passe dreie
And gon so forth into desert:
Wher forto kepe hem in covert,
The daies, whan the Sonne brente,
A large cloude hem overwente,
And forto wissen hem be nyhte,
A firy Piler hem alyhte. 1670
And whan that thei for hunger pleigne,
The myhti god began to reyne
Manna fro hevene doun to grounde,
Wherof that ech of hem hath founde
His fode, such riht as him liste;
And for thei scholde upon him triste,
Riht as who sette a tonne abroche,
He percede the harde roche,
And sprong out water al at wille,
That man and beste hath drunke his fille: 1680
And afterward he yaf the lawe
To Moi5ses, that hem withdrawe
Thei scholden noght fro that he bad.
And in this wise thei be lad,
Til thei toke in possession
The londes of promission,
Wher that Caleph and Josue5
The Marches upon such degre
Departen, after the lignage
That ech of hem as Heritage 1690
His porpartie hath underfonge.
And thus stod this believe longe,
Which of prophetes was governed;
And thei hadde ek the poeple lerned
Of gret honour that scholde hem falle;
Bot ate moste nede of alle
Thei faileden, whan Crist was bore.
Bot hou that thei here feith have bore,
It nedeth noght to tellen al,
The matiere is so general: 1700
Whan Lucifer was best in hevene
And oghte moste have stonde in evene,
Towardes god he tok debat;
And for that he was obstinat,
And wolde noght to trouthe encline,
He fell for evere into ruine:
And Adam ek in Paradis,
Whan he stod most in al his pris
After thastat of Innocence,
Ayein the god brak his defence 1710
And fell out of his place aweie:
And riht be such a maner weie
The Jwes in here beste plit,
Whan that thei scholden most parfit
Have stonde upon the prophecie,
Tho fellen thei to most folie,
And him which was fro hevene come,
And of a Maide his fleissh hath nome,
And was among hem bore and fedd,
As men that wolden noght be spedd 1720
Of goddes Sone, with o vois
Thei hinge and slowhe upon the crois.
Wherof the parfit of here lawe
Fro thanne forth hem was withdrawe,
So that thei stonde of no merit,
Bot in truage as folk soubgit
Withoute proprete of place
Thei liven out of goddes grace,
Dispers in alle londes oute.
And thus the feith is come aboute, 1730
That whilom in the Jewes stod,
Which is noght parfihtliche good.
To speke as it is nou befalle,
Ther is a feith aboven alle,
In which the trouthe is comprehended,
Wherof that we ben alle amended.
The hihe almyhti majeste,
Of rihtwisnesse and of pite,
The Sinne which that Adam wroghte,
Whan he sih time, ayein he boghte, 1740
And sende his Sone fro the hevene
To sette mannes Soule in evene,
Which thanne was so sore falle
Upon the point which was befalle,
That he ne mihte himself arise.
Gregoire seith in his aprise,
It helpeth noght a man be bore,
If goddes Sone were unbore;
For thanne thurgh the ferste Sinne,
Which Adam whilom broghte ous inne, 1750
Ther scholden alle men be lost;
Bot Crist restoreth thilke lost,
And boghte it with his fleissh and blod.
And if we thenken hou it stod
Of thilke rancoun which he payde,
As seint Gregoire it wrot and sayde,
Al was behovely to the man:
For that wherof his wo began
Was after cause of al his welthe,
Whan he which is the welle of helthe, 1760
The hihe creatour of lif,
Upon the nede of such a strif
So wolde for his creature
Take on himself the forsfaiture
And soffre for the mannes sake.
Thus mai no reson wel forsake
That thilke Senne original
Ne was the cause in special
Of mannes worschipe ate laste,
Which schal withouten ende laste. 1770
For be that cause the godhede
Assembled was to the manhede
In the virgine, where he nom
Oure fleissh and verai man becom
Of bodely fraternite;
Wherof the man in his degre
Stant more worth, as I have told,
Than he stod erst be manyfold,
Thurgh baptesme of the newe lawe,
Of which Crist lord is and felawe. 1780
And thus the hihe goddes myht,
Which was in the virgine alyht,
The mannes Soule hath reconsiled,
Which hadde longe ben exiled.
So stant the feith upon believe,
Withoute which mai non achieve
To gete him Paradis ayein:
Bot this believe is so certein,
So full of grace and of vertu,
That what man clepeth to Jhesu 1790
In clene lif forthwith good dede,
He mai noght faile of hevene mede,
Which taken hath the rihte feith;
For elles, as the gospel seith,
Salvacion ther mai be non.
And forto preche therupon
Crist bad to hise Apostles alle,
The whos pouer as nou is falle
On ous that ben of holi cherche,
If we the goode dedes werche; 1800
For feith only sufficeth noght,
Bot if good dede also be wroght.
Now were it good that thou forthi,
Which thurgh baptesme proprely
Art unto Cristes feith professed,
Be war that thou be noght oppressed
With Anticristes lollardie.
For as the Jwes prophecie
Was set of god for avantage,
Riht so this newe tapinage 1810
Of lollardie goth aboute
To sette Cristes feith in doute.
The seintz that weren ous tofore,
Be whom the feith was ferst upbore,
That holi cherche stod relieved,
Thei oghten betre be believed
Than these, whiche that men knowe
Noght holy, thogh thei feigne and blowe
Here lollardie in mennes Ere.
Bot if thou wolt live out of fere, 1820
Such newe lore, I rede, eschuie,
And hold forth riht the weie and suie,
As thine Ancestres dede er this:
So schalt thou noght believe amis.
Crist wroghte ferst and after tawhte,
So that the dede his word arawhte;
He yaf ensample in his persone,
And we the wordes have al one,
Lich to the Tree with leves grene,
Upon the which no fruit is sene. 1830
The Priest Thoas, which of Minerve
The temple hadde forto serve,
And the Palladion of Troie
Kepte under keie, for monoie,
Of Anthenor which he hath nome,
Hath soffred Anthenor to come
And the Palladion to stele,
Wherof the worschipe and the wele
Of the Troiens was overthrowe.
Bot Thoas at the same throwe, 1840
Whan Anthenor this Juel tok,
Wynkende caste awei his lok
For a deceipte and for a wyle:
As he that scholde himself beguile,
He hidde his yhen fro the sihte,
And wende wel that he so mihte
Excuse his false conscience.
I wot noght if thilke evidence
Nou at this time in here estatz
Excuse mihte the Prelatz, 1850
Knowende hou that the feith discresceth
And alle moral vertu cesseth,
Wherof that thei the keies bere,
Bot yit hem liketh noght to stere
Here gostliche yhe forto se
The world in his adversite;
Thei wol no labour undertake
To kepe that hem is betake.
Crist deide himselve for the feith,
Bot nou our feerfull prelat seith, 1860
"The lif is suete," and that he kepeth,
So that the feith unholpe slepeth,
And thei unto here ese entenden
And in here lust her lif despenden,
And every man do what him list.
Thus stant this world fulfild of Mist,
That noman seth the rihte weie:
The wardes of the cherche keie
Thurgh mishandlinge ben myswreynt,
The worldes wawe hath welnyh dreynt 1870
The Schip which Peter hath to stiere,
The forme is kept, bot the matiere
Transformed is in other wise.
Bot if thei weren gostli wise,
And that the Prelatz weren goode,
As thei be olde daies stode,
It were thanne litel nede
Among the men to taken hiede
Of that thei hieren Pseudo telle,
Which nou is come forto duelle, 1880
To sowe cokkel with the corn,
So that the tilthe is nyh forlorn,
Which Crist sew ferst his oghne hond.
Nou stant the cockel in the lond,
Wher stod whilom the goode grein,
For the Prelatz nou, as men sein,
Forslowthen that thei scholden tile.
And that I trowe be the skile,
Whan ther is lacke in hem above,
The poeple is stranged to the love 1890
Of trouthe, in cause of ignorance;
For wher ther is no pourveance
Of liht, men erren in the derke.
Bot if the Prelatz wolden werke
Upon the feith which thei ous teche,
Men scholden noght here weie seche
Withoute liht, as now is used:
Men se the charge aldai refused,
Which holi cherche hath undertake.
Bot who that wolde ensample take, 1900
Gregoire upon his Omelie
Ayein the Slouthe of Prelacie
Compleigneth him, and thus he seith:
"Whan Peter, fader of the feith,
At domesdai schal with him bringe
Judeam, which thurgh his prechinge
He wan, and Andrew with Achaie
Schal come his dette forto paie,
And Thomas ek with his beyete
Of Ynde, and Poul the routes grete 1910
Of sondri londes schal presente,
And we fulfild of lond and rente,
Which of this world we holden hiere,
With voide handes schul appiere,
Touchende oure cure spirital,
Which is our charge in special,
I not what thing it mai amonte
Upon thilke ende of oure accompte,
Wher Crist himself is Auditour,
Which takth non hiede of vein honour." 1920
Thoffice of the Chancellerie
Or of the kinges Tresorie
Ne for the writ ne for the taille
To warant mai noght thanne availe;
The world, which nou so wel we trowe,
Schal make ous thanne bot a mowe:
So passe we withoute mede,
That we non otherwise spede,
Bot as we rede that he spedde,
The which his lordes besant hedde 1930
And therupon gat non encress.
Bot at this time natheles,
What other man his thonk deserve,
The world so lusti is to serve,
That we with him ben all acorded,
And that is wist and wel recorded
Thurghout this Erthe in alle londes
Let knyhtes winne with here hondes,
For oure tunge schal be stille
And stonde upon the fleisshes wille. 1940
It were a travail forto preche
The feith of Crist, as forto teche
The folk Paiene, it wol noght be;
Bot every Prelat holde his See
With al such ese as he mai gete
Of lusti drinke and lusti mete,
Wherof the bodi fat and full
Is unto gostli labour dull
And slowh to handle thilke plowh.
Bot elles we ben swifte ynowh 1950
Toward the worldes Avarice;
And that is as a sacrifice,
Which, after that thapostel seith,
Is openly ayein the feith
Unto thidoles yove and granted:
Bot natheles it is nou haunted,
And vertu changed into vice,
So that largesce is Avarice,
In whos chapitre now we trete.
Mi fader, this matiere is bete 1960
So fer, that evere whil I live
I schal the betre hede yive
Unto miself be many weie:
Bot over this nou wolde I preie
To wite what the branches are
Of Avarice, and hou thei fare
Als wel in love as otherwise.
Mi Sone, and I thee schal devise
In such a manere as thei stonde,
So that thou schalt hem understonde. 1970
Dame Avarice is noght soleine,
Which is of gold the Capiteine;
Bot of hir Court in sondri wise
After the Scole of hire aprise
Sche hath of Servantz manyon,
Wherof that Covoitise is on;
Which goth the large world aboute,
To seche thavantages oute,
Wher that he mai the profit winne
To Avarice, and bringth it inne. 1980
That on hald and that other draweth,
Ther is no day which hem bedaweth,
No mor the Sonne than the Mone,
Whan ther is eny thing to done,
And namely with Covoitise;
For he stant out of al assisse
Of resonable mannes fare.
Wher he pourposeth him to fare
Upon his lucre and his beyete,
The smale path, the large Strete, 1990
The furlong and the longe Mile,
Al is bot on for thilke while:
And for that he is such on holde,
Dame Avarice him hath withholde,
As he which is the principal
Outward, for he is overal
A pourveour and an aspie.
For riht as of an hungri Pie
The storve bestes ben awaited,
Riht so is Covoitise afaited 2000
To loke where he mai pourchace,
For be his wille he wolde embrace
Al that this wyde world beclippeth;
Bot evere he somwhat overhippeth,
That he ne mai noght al fulfille
The lustes of his gredi wille.
Bot where it falleth in a lond,
That Covoitise in myhti hond
Is set, it is ful hard to fiede;
For thanne he takth non other hiede, 2010
Bot that he mai pourchace and gete,
His conscience hath al foryete,
And not what thing it mai amonte
That he schal afterward acompte.
Bote as the Luce in his degre
Of tho that lasse ben than he
The fisshes griedeli devoureth,
So that no water hem socoureth,
Riht so no lawe mai rescowe
Fro him that wol no riht allowe; 2020
For wher that such on is of myht,
His will schal stonde in stede of riht.
Thus be the men destruid fulofte,
Til that the grete god alofte
Ayein so gret a covoitise
Redresce it in his oghne wise:
And in ensample of alle tho
I finde a tale write so,
The which, for it is good to liere,
Hierafterward thou schalt it hiere. 2030
Whan Rome stod in noble plit,
Virgile, which was tho parfit,
A Mirour made of his clergie
And sette it in the tounes ije
Of marbre on a piler withoute;
That thei be thritty Mile aboute
Be daie and ek also be nyhte
In that Mirour beholde myhte
Here enemys, if eny were,
With al here ordinance there, 2040
Which thei ayein the Cite caste:
So that, whil thilke Mirour laste,
Ther was no lond which mihte achieve
With werre Rome forto grieve;
Wherof was gret envie tho.
And fell that ilke time so,
That Rome hadde werres stronge
Ayein Cartage, and stoden longe
The tuo Cites upon debat.
Cartage sih the stronge astat 2050
Of Rome in thilke Mirour stonde,
And thoghte al prively to fonde
To overthrowe it be som wyle.
And Hanybal was thilke while
The Prince and ledere of Cartage,
Which hadde set al his corage
Upon knihthod in such a wise,
That he be worthi and be wise
And be non othre was conseiled,
Wherof the world is yit merveiled 2060
Of the maistries that he wroghte
Upon the marches whiche he soghte.
And fell in thilke time also,
The king of Puile, which was tho,
Thoghte ayein Rome to rebelle,
And thus was take the querele,
Hou to destruie this Mirour.
Of Rome tho was Emperour
Crassus, which was so coveitous,
That he was evere desirous 2070
Of gold to gete the pilage;
Wherof that Puile and ek Cartage
With Philosophres wise and grete
Begunne of this matiere trete,
And ate laste in this degre
Ther weren Philosophres thre,
To do this thing whiche undertoke,
And therupon thei with hem toke
A gret tresor of gold in cophres,
To Rome and thus these philisophres 2080
Togedre in compainie wente,
Bot noman wiste what thei mente.
Whan thei to Rome come were,
So prively thei duelte there,
As thei that thoghten to deceive:
Was non that mihte of hem perceive,
Til thei in sondri stedes have
Here gold under the ground begrave
In tuo tresors, that to beholde
Thei scholden seme as thei were olde. 2090
And so forth thanne upon a day
Al openly in good arai
To themperour thei hem presente,
And tolden it was here entente
To duellen under his servise.
And he hem axeth in what wise;
And thei him tolde in such a plit,
That ech of hem hadde a spirit,
The which slepende a nyht appiereth
And hem be sondri dremes lereth 2100
After the world that hath betid.
Under the ground if oght be hid
Of old tresor at eny throwe,
They schull it in here swevenes knowe;
And upon this condicioun,
Thei sein, what gold under the toun
Of Rome is hid, thei wole it finde,
Ther scholde noght be left behinde,
Be so that he the halvendel
Hem grante, and he assenteth wel; 2110
And thus cam sleighte forto duelle
With Covoitise, as I thee telle.
This Emperour bad redily
That thei be logged faste by
Where he his oghne body lay;
And whan it was amorwe day,
That on of hem seith that he mette
Wher he a goldhord scholde fette:
Wherof this Emperour was glad,
And therupon anon he bad 2120
His Mynours forto go and myne,
And he himself of that covine
Goth forth withal, and at his hond
The tresor redi there he fond,
Where as thei seide it scholde be;
And who was thanne glad bot he?
Upon that other dai secounde
Thei have an other goldhord founde,
Which the seconde maister tok
Upon his swevene and undertok. 2130
And thus the sothe experience
To themperour yaf such credence,
That al his trist and al his feith
So sikerliche on hem he leith,
Of that he fond him so relieved,
That thei ben parfitli believed,
As thogh thei were goddes thre.
Nou herkne the soutilete.
The thridde maister scholde mete,
Which, as thei seiden, was unmete 2140
Above hem alle, and couthe most;
And he withoute noise or bost
Al priveli, so as he wolde,
Upon the morwe his swevene tolde
To themperour riht in his Ere,
And seide him that he wiste where
A tresor was so plentivous
Of gold and ek so precious
Of jeueals and of riche stones,
That unto alle hise hors at ones 2150
It were a charge sufficant.
This lord upon this covenant
Was glad, and axeth where it was.
The maister seide, under the glas,
And tolde him eke, as for the Myn
He wolde ordeigne such engin,
That thei the werk schull undersette
With Tymber, that withoute lette
Men mai the tresor saufli delve,
So that the Mirour be himselve 2160
Withoute empeirement schal stonde:
And this the maister upon honde
Hath undertake in alle weie.
This lord, which hadde his wit aweie
And was with Covoitise blent,
Anon therto yaf his assent;
And thus they myne forth withal,
The timber set up overal,
Wherof the Piler stod upriht;
Til it befell upon a nyht 2170
These clerkes, whan thei were war
Hou that the timber only bar
The Piler, wher the Mirour stod,-
Here sleihte noman understod,-
Thei go be nyhte unto the Myne
With pich, with soulphre and with rosine,
And whan the Cite was a slepe,
A wylde fyr into the depe
They caste among the timberwerk,
And so forth, whil the nyht was derk, 2180
Desguised in a povere arai
Thei passeden the toun er dai.
And whan thei come upon an hell,
Thei sihen how the Mirour fell,
Wherof thei maden joie ynowh,
And ech of hem with other lowh,
And seiden, "Lo, what coveitise
Mai do with hem that be noght wise!"
And that was proved afterward,
For every lond, to Romeward 2190
Which hadde be soubgit tofore,
Whan this Mirour was so forlore
And thei the wonder herde seie,
Anon begunne desobeie
With werres upon every side;
And thus hath Rome lost his pride
And was defouled overal.
For this I finde of Hanybal,
That he of Romeins in a dai,
Whan he hem fond out of arai, 2200
So gret a multitude slowh,
That of goldringes, whiche he drowh
Of gentil handes that ben dede,
Buisshelles fulle thre, I rede,
He felde, and made a bregge also,
That he mihte over Tibre go
Upon the corps that dede were
Of the Romeins, whiche he slowh there.
Bot now to speke of the juise,
The which after the covoitise 2210
Was take upon this Emperour,
For he destruide the Mirour;
It is a wonder forto hiere.
The Romeins maden a chaiere
And sette here Emperour therinne,
And seiden, for he wolde winne
Of gold the superfluite,
Of gold he scholde such plente
Receive, til he seide Ho:
And with gold, which thei hadden tho 2220
Buillende hot withinne a panne,
Into his Mouth thei poure thanne.
And thus the thurst of gold was queynt,
With gold which hadde ben atteignt.
Wherof, mi Sone, thou miht hiere,
Whan Covoitise hath lost the stiere
Of resonable governance,
Ther falleth ofte gret vengance.
For ther mai be no worse thing
Than Covoitise aboute a king: 2230
If it in his persone be,
It doth the more adversite;
And if it in his conseil stonde,
It bringth alday meschief to honde
Of commun harm; and if it growe
Withinne his court, it wol be knowe,
For thanne schal the king be piled.
The man which hath hise londes tiled,
Awaiteth noght more redily
The Hervest, than thei gredily 2240
Ne maken thanne warde and wacche,
Wher thei the profit mihten cacche:
And yit fulofte it falleth so,
As men mai sen among hem tho,
That he which most coveiteth faste
Hath lest avantage ate laste.
For whan fortune is therayein,
Thogh he coveite, it is in vein;
The happes be noght alle liche,
On is mad povere, an other riche, 2250
The court to some doth profit,
And some ben evere in o plit;
And yit thei bothe aliche sore
Coveite, bot fortune is more
Unto that o part favorable.
And thogh it be noght resonable,
This thing a man mai sen alday,
Wherof that I thee telle may
A fair ensample in remembrance,
Hou every man mot take his chance 2260
Or of richesse or of poverte.
Hou so it stonde of the decerte,
Hier is noght every thing aquit,
For ofte a man mai se this yit,
That who best doth, lest thonk schal have;
It helpeth noght the world to crave,
Which out of reule and of mesure
Hath evere stonde in aventure
Als wel in Court as elles where:
And hou in olde daies there 2270
It stod, so as the thinges felle,
I thenke a tale forto telle.
In a Cronique this I rede.
Aboute a king, as moste nede,
Ther was of knyhtes and squiers
Gret route, and ek of Officers:
Some of long time him hadden served,
And thoghten that thei have deserved
Avancement, and gon withoute;
And some also ben of the route 2280
That comen bot a while agon,
And thei avanced were anon.
These olde men upon this thing,
So as thei dorste, ayein the king
Among hemself compleignen ofte:
Bot ther is nothing seid so softe,
That it ne comth out ate laste;
The king it wiste, and als so faste,
As he which was of hih Prudence,
He schop therfore an evidence 2290
Of hem that pleignen in that cas,
To knowe in whos defalte it was.
And al withinne his oghne entente,
That noman wiste what it mente,
Anon he let tuo cofres make
Of o semblance and of o make,
So lich that no lif thilke throwe
That on mai fro that other knowe:
Thei were into his chambre broght,
Bot noman wot why thei be wroght, 2300
And natheles the king hath bede
That thei be set in prive stede.
As he that was of wisdom slih,
Whan he therto his time sih,
Al prively, that non it wiste,
Hise oghne hondes that o kiste
Of fin gold and of fin perrie,
The which out of his tresorie
Was take, anon he felde full;
That other cofre of straw and mull 2310
With Stones meind he felde also.
Thus be thei fulle bothe tuo,
So that erliche upon a day
He bad withinne, ther he lay,
Ther scholde be tofore his bed
A bord upset and faire spred;
And thanne he let the cofres fette,
Upon the bord and dede hem sette.
He knew the names wel of tho,
The whiche ayein him grucche so, 2320
Bothe of his chambre and of his halle,
Anon and sende for hem alle,
And seide to hem in this wise:
"Ther schal noman his happ despise;
I wot wel ye have longe served,
And god wot what ye have deserved:
Bot if it is along on me
Of that ye unavanced be,
Or elles it be long on you,
The sothe schal be proved nou, 2330
To stoppe with youre evele word.
Lo hier tuo cofres on the bord:
Ches which you list of bothe tuo;
And witeth wel that on of tho
Is with tresor so full begon,
That if ye happe therupon,
Ye schull be riche men for evere.
Now ches and tak which you is levere:
Bot be wel war, er that ye take;
For of that on I undertake 2340
Ther is no maner good therinne,
Wherof ye mihten profit winne.
Now goth togedre of on assent
And taketh youre avisement,
For bot I you this dai avance,
It stant upon youre oghne chance
Al only in defalte of grace:
So schal be schewed in this place
Upon you alle wel afyn,
That no defalte schal be myn." 2350
Thei knelen alle and with o vois
The king thei thonken of this chois:
And after that thei up arise,
And gon aside and hem avise,
And ate laste thei acorde;
Wherof her tale to recorde,
To what issue thei be falle,
A kniht schal speke for hem alle.
He kneleth doun unto the king,
And seith that thei upon this thing, 2360
Or forto winne or forto lese,
Ben alle avised forto chese.
Tho tok this kniht a yerde on honde,
And goth there as the cofres stonde,
And with assent of everichon
He leith his yerde upon that on,
And seith the king hou thilke same
Thei chese in reguerdoun be name,
And preith him that thei mote it have.
The king, which wolde his honour save, 2370
Whan he hath herd the commun vois,
Hath granted hem here oghne chois
And tok hem therupon the keie.
Bot for he wolde it were seie
What good thei have, as thei suppose,
He bad anon the cofre unclose,
Which was fulfild with straw and stones:
Thus be thei served al at ones.
This king thanne in the same stede
Anon that other cofre undede, 2380
Where as thei sihen gret richesse,
Wel more than thei couthen gesse.
"Lo," seith the king, "nou mai ye se
That ther is no defalte in me;
Forthi miself I wole aquyte,
And bereth ye youre oghne wyte
Of that fortune hath you refused."
Thus was this wise king excused,
And thei lefte of here evele speche
And mercy of here king beseche. 2390
Somdiel to this matiere lik
I finde a tale, hou Frederik,
Of Rome that time Emperour,
Herde, as he wente, a gret clamour
Of tuo beggers upon the weie.
That on of hem began to seie,
"Ha lord, wel mai the man be riche
Whom that a king list forto riche."
That other saide nothing so,
Bot, "He is riche and wel bego, 2400
To whom that god wole sende wele."
And thus thei maden wordes fele,
Wherof this lord hath hiede nome,
And dede hem bothe forto come
To the Paleis, wher he schal ete,
And bad ordeine for here mete
Tuo Pastes, whiche he let do make.
A capoun in that on was bake,
And in that other forto winne
Of florins al that mai withinne 2410
He let do pute a gret richesse;
And evene aliche, as man mai gesse,
Outward thei were bothe tuo.
This begger was comanded tho,
He that which hield him to the king,
That he ferst chese upon this thing:
He sih hem, bot he felte hem noght,
So that upon his oghne thoght
He ches the Capoun and forsok
That other, which his fela tok. 2420
Bot whanne he wiste hou that it ferde,
He seide alowd, that men it herde,
"Nou have I certeinly conceived
That he mai lihtly be deceived,
That tristeth unto mannes helpe;
Bot wel is him whom god wol helpe,
For he stant on the siker side,
Which elles scholde go beside:
I se my fela wel recovere,
And I mot duelle stille povere." 2430
Thus spak this begger his entente,
And povere he cam and povere he wente;
Of that he hath richesse soght,
His infortune it wolde noght.
So mai it schewe in sondri wise,
Betwen fortune and covoitise
The chance is cast upon a Dee;
Bot yit fulofte a man mai se
Ynowe of suche natheles,
Whiche evere pute hemself in press 2440
To gete hem good, and yit thei faile.
And forto speke of this entaile
Touchende of love in thi matiere,
Mi goode Sone, as thou miht hiere,
That riht as it with tho men stod
Of infortune of worldes good,
As thou hast herd me telle above,
Riht so fulofte it stant be love:
Thogh thou coveite it everemore,
Thou schalt noght have o diel the more, 2450
Bot only that which thee is schape,
The remenant is bot a jape.
And natheles ynowe of tho
Ther ben, that nou coveiten so,
That where as thei a womman se,
Ye ten or tuelve thogh ther be,
The love is nou so unavised,
That wher the beaute stant assised,
The mannes herte anon is there,
And rouneth tales in hire Ere, 2460
And seith hou that he loveth streite,
And thus he set him to coveite,
An hundred thogh he sihe aday.
So wolde he more thanne he may;
Bot for the grete covoitise
Of sotie and of fol emprise
In ech of hem he fint somwhat
That pleseth him, or this or that;
Som on, for sche is whit of skin,
Som on, for sche is noble of kin, 2470
Som on, for sche hath rodi chieke,
Som on, for that sche semeth mieke,
Som on, for sche hath yhen greie,
Som on, for sche can lawhe and pleie,
Som on, for sche is long and smal,
Som on, for sche is lyte and tall,
Som on, for sche is pale and bleche,
Som on, for sche is softe of speche,
Som on, for that sche is camused,
Som on, for sche hath noght ben used, 2480
Som on, for sche can daunce and singe;
So that som thing to his likinge
He fint, and thogh nomore he fiele,
Bot that sche hath a litel hiele,
It is ynow that he therfore
Hire love, and thus an hundred score,
Whil thei be newe, he wolde he hadde;
Whom he forsakth, sche schal be badde.
The blinde man no colour demeth,
But al is on, riht as him semeth; 2490
So hath his lust no juggement,
Whom covoitise of love blent.
Him thenkth that to his covoitise
Hou al the world ne mai suffise,
For be his wille he wolde have alle,
If that it mihte so befalle:
Thus is he commun as the Strete,
I sette noght of his beyete.
Mi Sone, hast thou such covoitise?
Nai, fader, such love I despise, 2500
And whil I live schal don evere,
For in good feith yit hadde I levere,
Than to coveite in such a weie,
To ben for evere til I deie
As povere as Job, and loveles,
Outaken on, for haveles
His thonkes is noman alyve.
For that a man scholde al unthryve
Ther oghte no wisman coveite,
The lawe was noght set so streite: 2510
Forthi miself withal to save,
Such on ther is I wolde have,
And non of al these othre mo.
Mi Sone, of that thou woldest so,
I am noght wroth, bot over this
I wol thee tellen hou it is.
For ther be men, whiche otherwise,
Riht only for the covoitise
Of that thei sen a womman riche,
Ther wol thei al here love affiche; 2520
Noght for the beaute of hire face,
Ne yit for vertu ne for grace,
Which sche hath elles riht ynowh,
Bot for the Park and for the plowh,
And other thing which therto longeth:
For in non other wise hem longeth
To love, bot thei profit finde;
And if the profit be behinde,
Here love is evere lesse and lesse,
For after that sche hath richesse, 2530
Her love is of proporcion.
If thou hast such condicion,
Mi Sone, tell riht as it is.
Min holi fader, nay ywiss,
Condicion such have I non.
For trewli, fader, I love oon
So wel with al myn hertes thoght,
That certes, thogh sche hadde noght,
And were as povere as Medea,
Which was exiled for Creusa, 2540
I wolde hir noght the lasse love;
Ne thogh sche were at hire above,
As was the riche qwen Candace,
Which to deserve love and grace
To Alisandre, that was king,
Yaf many a worthi riche thing,
Or elles as Pantasilee,
Which was the quen of Feminee,
And gret richesse with hir nam,
Whan sche for love of Hector cam 2550
To Troie in rescousse of the toun,-
I am of such condicion,
That thogh mi ladi of hirselve
Were also riche as suche tuelve,
I couthe noght, thogh it wer so,
No betre love hir than I do.
For I love in so plein a wise,
That forto speke of coveitise,
As for poverte or for richesse
Mi love is nouther mor ne lesse. 2560
For in good feith I trowe this,
So coveitous noman ther is,
Forwhy and he mi ladi sihe,
That he thurgh lokinge of his yhe
Ne scholde have such a strok withinne,
That for no gold he mihte winne
He scholde noght hire love asterte,
Bot if he lefte there his herte;
Be so it were such a man,
That couthe Skile of a womman. 2570
For ther be men so ruide some,
Whan thei among the wommen come,
Thei gon under proteccioun,
That love and his affeccioun
Ne schal noght take hem be the slieve;
For thei ben out of that believe,
Hem lusteth of no ladi chiere,
Bot evere thenken there and hiere
Wher that here gold is in the cofre,
And wol non other love profre: 2580
Bot who so wot what love amounteth
And be resoun trewliche acompteth,
Than mai he knowe and taken hiede
That al the lust of wommanhiede,
Which mai ben in a ladi face,
Mi ladi hath, and ek of grace
If men schull yiven hire a pris,
Thei mai wel seie hou sche is wys
And sobre and simple of contenance,
And al that to good governance 2590
Belongeth of a worthi wiht
Sche hath pleinli: for thilke nyht
That sche was bore, as for the nones
Nature sette in hire at ones
Beaute with bounte so besein,
That I mai wel afferme and sein,
I sawh yit nevere creature
Of comlihied and of feture
In eny kinges regioun
Be lich hire in comparisoun: 2600
And therto, as I have you told,
Yit hath sche more a thousendfold
Of bounte, and schortli to telle,
Sche is the pure hed and welle
And Mirour and ensample of goode.
Who so hir vertus understode,
Me thenkth it oughte ynow suffise
Withouten other covoitise
To love such on and to serve,
Which with hire chiere can deserve 2610
To be beloved betre ywiss
Than sche per cas that richest is
And hath of gold a Milion.
Such hath be myn opinion
And evere schal: bot natheles
I seie noght sche is haveles,
That sche nys riche and wel at ese,
And hath ynow wherwith to plese
Of worldes good whom that hire liste;
Bot o thing wolde I wel ye wiste, 2620
That nevere for no worldes good
Min herte untoward hire stod,
Bot only riht for pure love;
That wot the hihe god above.
Nou, fader, what seie ye therto?
Mi Sone, I seie it is wel do.
For tak of this riht good believe,
What man that wole himself relieve
To love in eny other wise,
He schal wel finde his coveitise 2630
Schal sore grieve him ate laste,
For such a love mai noght laste.
Bot nou, men sein, in oure daies
Men maken bot a fewe assaies,
Bot if the cause be richesse;
Forthi the love is wel the lesse.
And who that wolde ensamples telle,
Be olde daies as thei felle,
Than mihte a man wel understonde
Such love mai noght longe stonde. 2640
Now herkne, Sone, and thou schalt hiere
A gret ensample of this matiere.
To trete upon the cas of love,
So as we tolden hiere above,
I finde write a wonder thing.
Of Puile whilom was a king,
A man of hih complexioun
And yong, bot his affeccioun
After the nature of his age
Was yit noght falle in his corage 2650
The lust of wommen forto knowe.
So it betidde upon a throwe
This lord fell into gret seknesse:
Phisique hath don the besinesse
Of sondri cures manyon
To make him hol; and therupon
A worthi maister which ther was
Yaf him conseil upon this cas,
That if he wolde have parfit hele,
He scholde with a womman dele, 2660
A freissh, a yong, a lusti wiht,
To don him compaignie a nyht:
For thanne he seide him redily,
That he schal be al hol therby,
And otherwise he kneu no cure.
This king, which stod in aventure
Of lif and deth, for medicine
Assented was, and of covine
His Steward, whom he tristeth wel,
He tok, and tolde him everydel, 2670
Hou that this maister hadde seid:
And therupon he hath him preid
And charged upon his ligance,
That he do make porveance
Of such on as be covenable
For his plesance and delitable;
And bad him, hou that evere it stod,
That he schal spare for no good,
For his will is riht wel to paie.
The Steward seide he wolde assaie: 2680
Bot nou hierafter thou schalt wite,
As I finde in the bokes write,
What coveitise in love doth.
This Steward, forto telle soth,
Amonges al the men alyve
A lusti ladi hath to wyve,
Which natheles for gold he tok
And noght for love, as seith the bok.
A riche Marchant of the lond
Hir fader was, and hire fond 2690
So worthily, and such richesse
Of worldes good and such largesse
With hire he yaf in mariage,
That only for thilke avantage
Of good this Steward hath hire take,
For lucre and noght for loves sake,
And that was afterward wel seene;
Nou herkne what it wolde meene.
This Steward in his oghne herte
Sih that his lord mai noght asterte 2700
His maladie, bot he have
A lusti womman him to save,
And thoghte he wolde yive ynowh
Of his tresor; wherof he drowh
Gret coveitise into his mynde,
And sette his honour fer behynde.
Thus he, whom gold hath overset,
Was trapped in his oghne net;
The gold hath mad hise wittes lame,
So that sechende his oghne schame 2710
He rouneth in the kinges Ere,
And seide him that he wiste where
A gentile and a lusti on
Tho was, and thider wolde he gon:
Bot he mot yive yiftes grete;
For bot it be thurgh grete beyete
Of gold, he seith, he schal noght spede.
The king him bad upon the nede
That take an hundred pound he scholde,
And yive it where that he wolde, 2720
Be so it were in worthi place:
And thus to stonde in loves grace
This king his gold hath abandouned.
And whan this tale was full rouned,
The Steward tok the gold and wente,
Withinne his herte and many a wente
Of coveitise thanne he caste,
Wherof a pourpos ate laste
Ayein love and ayein his riht
He tok, and seide hou thilke nyht 2730
His wif schal ligge be the king;
And goth thenkende upon this thing
Toward his In, til he cam hom
Into the chambre, and thanne he nom
His wif, and tolde hire al the cas.
And sche, which red for schame was,
With bothe hire handes hath him preid
Knelende and in this wise seid,
That sche to reson and to skile
In what thing that he bidde wile 2740
Is redy forto don his heste,
Bot this thing were noght honeste,
That he for gold hire scholde selle.
And he tho with hise wordes felle
Forth with his gastly contienance
Seith that sche schal don obeissance
And folwe his will in every place;
And thus thurgh strengthe of his manace
Hir innocence is overlad,
Wherof sche was so sore adrad 2750
That sche his will mot nede obeie.
And therupon was schape a weie,
That he his oghne wif be nyhte
Hath out of alle mennes sihte
So prively that non it wiste
Broght to the king, which as him liste
Mai do with hire what he wolde.
For whan sche was ther as sche scholde,
With him abedde under the cloth,
The Steward tok his leve and goth 2760
Into a chambre faste by;
Bot hou he slep, that wot noght I,
For he sih cause of jelousie.
Bot he, which hath the compainie
Of such a lusti on as sche,
Him thoghte that of his degre
Ther was noman so wel at ese:
Sche doth al that sche mai to plese,
So that his herte al hol sche hadde;
And thus this king his joie ladde, 2770
Til it was nyh upon the day.
The Steward thanne wher sche lay
Cam to the bedd, and in his wise
Hath bede that sche scholde arise.
The king seith, "Nay, sche schal noght go."
His Steward seide ayein, "Noght so;
For sche mot gon er it be knowe,
And so I swor at thilke throwe,
Whan I hire fette to you hiere."
The king his tale wol noght hiere, 2780
And seith hou that he hath hire boght,
Forthi sche schal departe noght,
Til he the brighte dai beholde.
And cawhte hire in hise armes folde,
As he which liste forto pleie,
And bad his Steward gon his weie,
And so he dede ayein his wille.
And thus his wif abedde stille
Lay with the king the longe nyht,
Til that it was hih Sonne lyht; 2790
Bot who sche was he knew nothing.
Tho cam the Steward to the king
And preide him that withoute schame
In savinge of hire goode name
He myhte leden hom ayein
This lady, and hath told him plein
Hou that it was his oghne wif.
The king his Ere unto this strif
Hath leid, and whan that he it herde,
Welnyh out of his wit he ferde, 2800
And seide, "Ha, caitif most of alle,
Wher was it evere er this befalle,
That eny cokard in this wise
Betok his wif for coveitise?
Thou hast bothe hire and me beguiled
And ek thin oghne astat reviled,
Wherof that buxom unto thee
Hierafter schal sche nevere be.
For this avou to god I make,
After this day if I thee take, 2810
Thou schalt ben honged and todrawe.
Nou loke anon thou be withdrawe,
So that I se thee neveremore."
This Steward thanne dradde him sore,
With al the haste that he mai
And fledde awei that same dai,
And was exiled out of londe.
Lo, there a nyce housebonde,
Which thus hath lost his wif for evere!
Bot natheles sche hadde a levere; 2820
The king hire weddeth and honoureth,
Wherof hire name sche socoureth,
Which erst was lost thurgh coveitise
Of him, that ladde hire other wise,
And hath himself also forlore.
Mi Sone, be thou war therfore,
Wher thou schalt love in eny place,
That thou no covoitise embrace,
The which is noght of loves kinde.
Bot for al that a man mai finde 2830
Nou in this time of thilke rage
Ful gret desese in mariage,
Whan venym melleth with the Sucre
And mariage is mad for lucre,
Or for the lust or for the hele:
What man that schal with outher dele,
He mai noght faile to repente.
Mi fader, such is myn entente:
Bot natheles good is to have,
For good mai ofte time save 2840
The love which scholde elles spille.
Bot god, which wot myn hertes wille,
I dar wel take to witnesse,
Yit was I nevere for richesse
Beset with mariage non;
For al myn herte is upon on
So frely, that in the persone
Stant al my worldes joie al one:
I axe nouther Park ne Plowh,
If I hire hadde, it were ynowh, 2850
Hir love scholde me suffise
Withouten other coveitise.
Lo now, mi fader, as of this,
Touchende of me riht as it is,
Mi schrifte I am beknowe plein;
And if ye wole oght elles sein,
Of covoitise if ther be more
In love, agropeth out the sore.
Mi Sone, thou schalt understonde
Hou Coveitise hath yit on honde 2860
In special tuo conseilours,
That ben also hise procurours.
The ferst of hem is Falswitnesse,
Which evere is redi to witnesse
What thing his maister wol him hote:
Perjurie is the secounde hote,
Which spareth noght to swere an oth,
Thogh it be fals and god be wroth.
That on schal falswitnesse bere,
That other schal the thing forswere, 2870
Whan he is charged on the bok.
So what with hepe and what with crok
Thei make here maister ofte winne
And wol noght knowe what is sinne
For coveitise, and thus, men sain,
Thei maken many a fals bargain.
Ther mai no trewe querele arise
In thilke queste and thilke assise,
Where as thei tuo the poeple enforme;
For thei kepe evere o maner forme, 2880
That upon gold here conscience
Thei founde, and take here evidence;
And thus with falswitnesse and othes
Thei winne hem mete and drinke and clothes.
Riht so ther be, who that hem knewe,
Of thes lovers ful many untrewe:
Nou mai a womman finde ynowe,
That ech of hem, whan he schal wowe,
Anon he wole his hand doun lein
Upon a bok, and swere and sein 2890
That he wole feith and trouthe bere;
And thus he profreth him to swere
To serven evere til he die,
And al is verai tricherie.
For whan the sothe himselven trieth,
The more he swerth, the more he lieth;
Whan he his feith makth althermest,
Than mai a womman truste him lest;
For til he mai his will achieve,
He is no lengere forto lieve. 2900
Thus is the trouthe of love exiled,
And many a good womman beguiled.
And ek to speke of Falswitnesse,
There be nou many suche, I gesse,
That lich unto the provisours
Thei make here prive procurours,
To telle hou ther is such a man,
Which is worthi to love and can
Al that a good man scholde kunne;
So that with lesinge is begunne 2910
The cause in which thei wole procede,
And also siker as the crede
Thei make of that thei knowen fals.
And thus fulofte aboute the hals
Love is of false men embraced;
Bot love which is so pourchaced
Comth afterward to litel pris.
Forthi, mi Sone, if thou be wis,
Nou thou hast herd this evidence,
Thou miht thin oghne conscience 2920
Oppose, if thou hast ben such on.
Nai, god wot, fader I am non,
Ne nevere was; for as men seith,
Whan that a man schal make his feith,
His herte and tunge moste acorde;
For if so be that thei discorde,
Thanne is he fals and elles noght:
And I dar seie, as of my thoght,
In love it is noght descordable
Unto mi word, bot acordable. 2930
And in this wise, fader, I
Mai riht wel swere and salvely,
That I mi ladi love wel,
For that acordeth everydel.
It nedeth noght to mi sothsawe
That I witnesse scholde drawe,
Into this dai for nevere yit
Ne mihte it sinke into mi wit,
That I my conseil scholde seie
To eny wiht, or me bewreie 2940
To sechen help in such manere,
Bot only of mi ladi diere.
And thogh a thousend men it wiste,
That I hire love, and thanne hem liste
With me to swere and to witnesse,
Yit were that no falswitnesse;
For I dar on this trouthe duelle,
I love hire mor than I can telle.
Thus am I, fader, gulteles,
As ye have herd, and natheles 2950
In youre dom I put it al.
Mi Sone, wite in special,
It schal noght comunliche faile,
Al thogh it for a time availe
That Falswitnesse his cause spede,
Upon the point of his falshiede
It schal wel afterward be kid;
Wherof, so as it is betid,
Ensample of suche thinges blinde
In a Cronique write I finde. 2960
The Goddesse of the See Thetis,
Sche hadde a Sone, and his name is
Achilles, whom to kepe and warde,
Whil he was yong, as into warde
Sche thoghte him salfly to betake,
As sche which dradde for his sake
Of that was seid in prophecie,
That he at Troie scholde die,
Whan that the Cite was belein.
Forthi, so as the bokes sein, 2970
Sche caste hire wit in sondri wise,
Hou sche him mihte so desguise
That noman scholde his bodi knowe:
And so befell that ilke throwe,
Whil that sche thoghte upon this dede,
Ther was a king, which Lichomede
Was hote, and he was wel begon
With faire dowhtres manyon,
And duelte fer out in an yle.
Nou schalt thou hiere a wonder wyle: 2980
This queene, which the moder was
Of Achilles, upon this cas
Hire Sone, as he a Maiden were,
Let clothen in the same gere
Which longeth unto wommanhiede:
And he was yong and tok non hiede,
Bot soffreth al that sche him dede.
Wherof sche hath hire wommen bede
And charged be here othes alle,
Hou so it afterward befalle, 2990
That thei discovere noght this thing,
Bot feigne and make a knowleching,
Upon the conseil which was nome,
In every place wher thei come
To telle and to witnesse this,
Hou he here ladi dowhter is.
And riht in such a maner wise
Sche bad thei scholde hire don servise,
So that Achilles underfongeth
As to a yong ladi belongeth 3000
Honour, servise and reverence.
For Thetis with gret diligence
Him hath so tawht and so afaited,
That, hou so that it were awaited,
With sobre and goodli contenance
He scholde his wommanhiede avance,
That non the sothe knowe myhte,
Bot that in every mannes syhte
He scholde seme a pure Maide.
And in such wise as sche him saide, 3010
Achilles, which that ilke while
Was yong, upon himself to smyle
Began, whan he was so besein.
And thus, after the bokes sein,
With frette of Perle upon his hed,
Al freissh betwen the whyt and red,
As he which tho was tendre of Age,
Stod the colour in his visage,
That forto loke upon his cheke
And sen his childly manere eke, 3020
He was a womman to beholde.
And thanne his moder to him tolde,
That sche him hadde so begon
Be cause that sche thoghte gon
To Lichomede at thilke tyde,
Wher that sche seide he scholde abyde
Among hise dowhtres forto duelle.
Achilles herde his moder telle,
And wiste noght the cause why;
And natheles ful buxomly 3030
He was redy to that sche bad,
Wherof his moder was riht glad,
To Lichomede and forth thei wente.
And whan the king knew hire entente,
And sih this yonge dowhter there,
And that it cam unto his Ere
Of such record, of such witnesse,
He hadde riht a gret gladnesse
Of that he bothe syh and herde,
As he that wot noght hou it ferde 3040
Upon the conseil of the nede.
Bot for al that king Lichomede
Hath toward him this dowhter take,
And for Thetis his moder sake
He put hire into compainie
To duelle with Dei5damie,
His oghne dowhter, the eldeste,
The faireste and the comelieste
Of alle hise doghtres whiche he hadde.
Lo, thus Thetis the cause ladde, 3050
And lefte there Achilles feigned,
As he which hath himself restreigned
In al that evere he mai and can
Out of the manere of a man,
And tok his wommannysshe chiere,
Wherof unto his beddefere
Dei5damie he hath be nyhte.
Wher kinde wole himselve rihte,
After the Philosophres sein,
Ther mai no wiht be therayein: 3060
And that was thilke time seene.
The longe nyhtes hem betuene
Nature, which mai noght forbere,
Hath mad hem bothe forto stere:
Thei kessen ferst, and overmore
The hihe weie of loves lore
Thei gon, and al was don in dede,
Wherof lost is the maydenhede;
And that was afterward wel knowe.
For it befell that ilke throwe 3070
At Troie, wher the Siege lay
Upon the cause of Menelay
And of his queene dame Heleine,
The Gregois hadden mochel peine
Alday to fihte and to assaile.
Bot for thei mihten noght availe
So noble a Cite forto winne,
A prive conseil thei beginne,
In sondri wise wher thei trete;
And ate laste among the grete 3080
Thei fellen unto this acord,
That Prothes, of his record
Which was an Astronomien
And ek a gret Magicien,
Scholde of his calculacion
Seche after constellacion,
Hou thei the Cite mihten gete:
And he, which hadde noght foryete
Of that belongeth to a clerk,
His studie sette upon this werk. 3090
So longe his wit aboute he caste,
Til that he fond out ate laste,
Bot if they hadden Achilles
Here werre schal ben endeles.
And over that he tolde hem plein
In what manere he was besein,
And in what place he schal be founde;
So that withinne a litel stounde
Ulixes forth with Diomede
Upon this point to Lichomede 3100
Agamenon togedre sente.
Bot Ulixes, er he forth wente,
Which was on of the moste wise,
Ordeigned hath in such a wise,
That he the moste riche aray,
Wherof a womman mai be gay,
With him hath take manyfold,
And overmore, as it is told,
An harneis for a lusti kniht,
Which burned was as Selver bryht, 3110
Of swerd, of plate and ek of maile,
As thogh he scholde to bataille,
He tok also with him be Schipe.
And thus togedre in felaschipe
Forth gon this Diomede and he
In hope til thei mihten se
The place where Achilles is.
The wynd stod thanne noght amis,
Bot evene topseilcole it blew,
Til Ulixes the Marche knew, 3120
Wher Lichomede his Regne hadde.
The Stieresman so wel hem ladde,
That thei ben comen sauf to londe,
Wher thei gon out upon the stronde
Into the Burgh, wher that thei founde
The king, and he which hath facounde,
Ulixes, dede the message.
Bot the conseil of his corage,
Why that he cam, he tolde noght,
Bot undernethe he was bethoght 3130
In what manere he mihte aspie
Achilles fro Dei5damie
And fro these othre that ther were,
Full many a lusti ladi there.
Thei pleide hem there a day or tuo,
And as it was fortuned so,
It fell that time in such a wise,
To Bachus that a sacrifise
Thes yonge ladys scholden make;
And for the strange mennes sake, 3140
That comen fro the Siege of Troie,
Thei maden wel the more joie.
Ther was Revel, ther was daunsinge,
And every lif which coude singe
Of lusti wommen in the route
A freissh carole hath sunge aboute;
Bot for al this yit natheles
The Greks unknowe of Achilles
So weren, that in no degre
Thei couden wite which was he, 3150
Ne be his vois, ne be his pas.
Ulixes thanne upon this cas
A thing of hih Prudence hath wroght:
For thilke aray, which he hath broght
To yive among the wommen there,
He let do fetten al the gere
Forth with a knihtes harneis eke,-
In al a contre forto seke
Men scholden noght a fairer se,-
And every thing in his degre 3160
Endlong upon a bord he leide.
To Lichomede and thanne he preide
That every ladi chese scholde
What thing of alle that sche wolde,
And take it as be weie of yifte;
For thei hemself it scholde schifte,
He seide, after here oghne wille.
Achilles thanne stod noght stille:
Whan he the bryhte helm behield,
The swerd, the hauberk and the Schield, 3170
His herte fell therto anon;
Of all that othre wolde he non,
The knihtes gere he underfongeth,
And thilke aray which that belongeth
Unto the wommen he forsok.
And in this wise, as seith the bok,
Thei knowen thanne which he was:
For he goth forth the grete pas
Into the chambre where he lay;
Anon, and made no delay, 3180
He armeth him in knyhtli wise,
That bettre can noman devise,
And as fortune scholde falle,
He cam so forth tofore hem alle,
As he which tho was glad ynowh.
But Lichomede nothing lowh,
Whan that he syh hou that it ferde,
For thanne he wiste wel and herde,
His dowhter hadde be forlein;
Bot that he was so oversein, 3190
The wonder overgoth his wit.
For in Cronique is write yit
Thing which schal nevere be foryete,
Hou that Achilles hath begete
Pirrus upon Dei5damie,
Wherof cam out the tricherie
Of Falswitnesse, whan thei saide
Hou that Achilles was a Maide.
Bot that was nothing sene tho,
For he is to the Siege go 3200
Forth with Ulixe and Diomede.
Lo, thus was proved in the dede
And fulli spoke at thilke while:
If o womman an other guile,
Wher is ther eny sikernesse?
Whan Thetis, which was the goddesse,
Dei5damie hath so bejaped,
I not hou it schal ben ascaped
With tho wommen whos innocence
Is nou alday thurgh such credence 3210
Deceived ofte, as it is seene,
With men that such untrouthe meene.
For thei ben slyhe in such a wise,
That thei be sleihte and be queintise
Of Falswitnesse bringen inne
That doth hem ofte forto winne,
Wher thei ben noght worthi therto.
Forthi, my Sone, do noght so.
Mi fader, as of Falswitnesse
The trouthe and the matiere expresse, 3220
Touchende of love hou it hath ferd,
As ye have told, I have wel herd.
Bot for ye seiden otherwise,
Hou thilke vice of Covoitise
Hath yit Perjurie of his acord,
If that you list of som record
To telle an other tale also
In loves cause of time ago,
What thing it is to be forswore,
I wolde preie you therfore, 3230
Wherof I mihte ensample take.
Mi goode Sone, and for thi sake
Touchende of this I schall fulfille
Thin axinge at thin oghne wille,
And the matiere I schal declare,
Hou the wommen deceived are,
Whan thei so tendre herte bere,
Of that thei hieren men so swere;
Bot whan it comth unto thassay,
Thei finde it fals an other day: 3240
As Jason dede to Medee,
Which stant yet of Auctorite
In tokne and in memorial;
Wherof the tale in special
Is in the bok of Troie write,
Which I schal do thee forto wite.
In Grece whilom was a king,
Of whom the fame and knowleching
Beleveth yit, and Peles
He hihte; bot it fell him thus, 3250
That his fortune hir whiel so ladde
That he no child his oghne hadde
To regnen after his decess.
He hadde a brother natheles,
Whos rihte name was Eson,
And he the worthi kniht Jason
Begat, the which in every lond
Alle othre passede of his hond
In Armes, so that he the beste
Was named and the worthieste, 3260
He soghte worschipe overal.
Nou herkne, and I thee telle schal
An aventure that he soghte,
Which afterward ful dere he boghte.
Ther was an yle, which Colchos
Was cleped, and therof aros
Gret speche in every lond aboute,
That such merveile was non oute
In al the wyde world nawhere,
As tho was in that yle there. 3270
Ther was a Schiep, as it was told,
The which his flees bar al of gold,
And so the goddes hadde it set,
That it ne mihte awei be fet
Be pouer of no worldes wiht:
And yit ful many a worthi kniht
It hadde assaied, as thei dorste,
And evere it fell hem to the worste.
Bot he, that wolde it noght forsake,
Bot of his knyhthod undertake 3280
To do what thing therto belongeth,
This worthi Jason, sore alongeth
To se the strange regiouns
And knowe the condiciouns
Of othre Marches, where he wente;
And for that cause his hole entente
He sette Colchos forto seche,

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