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Confessio Amantis

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Hierafterward hou so it falle,
Yit into now my will hath be
To do justice and equite
In forthringe of comun profit;
Such hath ben evere my delit.
Bot of o thing I am beknowe,
The which mi will is that ye knowe: 2960
The lawe which I tok on honde,
Was altogedre of goddes sonde
And nothing of myn oghne wit;
So mot it nede endure yit,
And schal do lengere, if ye wile.
For I wol telle you the skile;
The god Mercurius and no man
He hath me tawht al that I can
Of suche lawes as I made,
Wherof that ye ben alle glade; 2970
It was the god and nothing I,
Which dede al this, and nou forthi
He hath comanded of his grace
That I schal come into a place
Which is forein out in an yle,
Wher I mot tarie for a while,
With him to speke, as he hath bede.
For as he seith, in thilke stede
He schal me suche thinges telle,
That evere, whyl the world schal duelle, 2980
Athenis schal the betre fare.
Bot ferst, er that I thider fare,
For that I wolde that mi lawe
Amonges you ne be withdrawe
Ther whyles that I schal ben oute,
Forthi to setten out of doute
Bothe you and me, this wol I preie,
That ye me wolde assure and seie
With such an oth as I wol take,
That ech of you schal undertake 2990
Mi lawes forto kepe and holde."
Thei seiden alle that thei wolde,
And therupon thei swore here oth,
That fro the time that he goth,
Til he to hem be come ayein,
Thei scholde hise lawes wel and plein
In every point kepe and fulfille.
Thus hath Ligurgius his wille,
And tok his leve and forth he wente.
Bot lest nou wel to what entente 3000
Of rihtwisnesse he dede so:
For after that he was ago,
He schop him nevere to be founde;
So that Athenis, which was bounde,
Nevere after scholde be relessed,
Ne thilke goode lawe cessed,
Which was for comun profit set.
And in this wise he hath it knet;
He, which the comun profit soghte,
The king, his oghne astat ne roghte; 3010
To do profit to the comune,
He tok of exil the fortune,
And lefte of Prince thilke office
Only for love and for justice,
Thurgh which he thoghte, if that he myhte,
For evere after his deth to rihte
The cite which was him betake.
Wherof men oghte ensample take
The goode lawes to avance
With hem which under governance 3020
The lawes have forto kepe;
For who that wolde take kepe
Of hem that ferst the lawes founde,
Als fer as lasteth eny bounde
Of lond, here names yit ben knowe:
And if it like thee to knowe
Some of here names hou thei stonde,
Nou herkne and thou schalt understonde.
Of every bienfet the merite
The god himself it wol aquite; 3030
And ek fulofte it falleth so,
The world it wole aquite also,
Bot that mai noght ben evene liche:
The god he yifth the heveneriche,
The world yifth only bot a name,
Which stant upon the goode fame
Of hem that don the goode dede.
And in this wise double mede
Resceiven thei that don wel hiere;
Wherof if that thee list to hiere 3040
After the fame as it is blowe,
Ther myht thou wel the sothe knowe,
Hou thilke honeste besinesse
Of hem that ferst for rihtwisnesse
Among the men the lawes made,
Mai nevere upon this erthe fade.
For evere, whil ther is a tunge,
Here name schal be rad and sunge
And holde in the Cronique write;
So that the men it scholden wite, 3050
To speke good, as thei wel oghten,
Of hem that ferst the lawes soghten
In forthringe of the worldes pes.
Unto thebreus was Moi5ses
The ferste, and to thegipciens
Mercurius, and to Troiens
Ferst was Neuma Pompilius,
To Athenes Ligurgius
Yaf ferst the lawe, and to Gregois
Forones hath thilke vois, 3060
And Romulus to the Romeins.
For suche men that ben vileins
The lawe in such a wise ordeigneth,
That what man to the lawe pleigneth,
Be so the jugge stonde upriht,
He schal be served of his riht.
And so ferforth it is befalle
That lawe is come among ous alle:
God lieve it mote wel ben holde,
As every king therto is holde; 3070
For thing which is of kinges set,
With kinges oghte it noght be let.
What king of lawe takth no kepe,
Be lawe he mai no regne kepe.
Do lawe awey, what is a king?
Wher is the riht of eny thing,
If that ther be no lawe in londe?
This oghte a king wel understonde,
As he which is to lawe swore,
That if the lawe be forbore 3080
Withouten execucioun,
If makth a lond torne up so doun,
Which is unto the king a sclandre.
Forthi unto king Alisandre
The wise Philosophre bad,
That he himselve ferst be lad
Of lawe, and forth thanne overal
So do justice in general,
That al the wyde lond aboute
The justice of his lawe doute, 3090
And thanne schal he stonde in reste.
For therto lawe is on the beste
Above alle other erthly thing,
To make a liege drede his king.
Bot hou a king schal gete him love
Toward the hihe god above,
And ek among the men in erthe,
This nexte point, which is the ferthe
Of Aristotles lore, it techeth:
Wherof who that the Scole secheth, 3100
What Policie that it is
The bok reherceth after this.
It nedeth noght that I delate
The pris which preised is algate,
And hath ben evere and evere schal,
Wherof to speke in special,
It is the vertu of Pite,
Thurgh which the hihe mageste
Was stered, whan his Sone alyhte,
And in pite the world to rihte 3110
Tok of the Maide fleissh and blod.
Pite was cause of thilke good,
Wherof that we ben alle save:
Wel oghte a man Pite to have
And the vertu to sette in pris,
Whan he himself which is al wys
Hath schewed why it schal be preised.
Pite may noght be conterpeised
Of tirannie with no peis;
For Pite makth a king courteis 3120
Bothe in his word and in his dede.
It sit wel every liege drede
His king and to his heste obeie,
And riht so be the same weie
It sit a king to be pitous
Toward his poeple and gracious
Upon the reule of governance,
So that he worche no vengance,
Which mai be cleped crualte.
Justice which doth equite 3130
Is dredfull, for he noman spareth;
Bot in the lond wher Pite fareth
The king mai nevere faile of love,
For Pite thurgh the grace above,
So as the Philosphre affermeth,
His regne in good astat confermeth.
Thus seide whilom Constantin:
"What Emperour that is enclin
To Pite forto be servant,
Of al the worldes remenant 3140
He is worthi to ben a lord."
In olde bokes of record
This finde I write of essamplaire:
Troian the worthi debonaire,
Be whom that Rome stod governed,
Upon a time as he was lerned
Of that he was to familier,
He seide unto that conseiller,
That forto ben an Emperour
His will was noght for vein honour, 3150
Ne yit for reddour of justice;
Bot if he myhte in his office
Hise lordes and his poeple plese,
Him thoghte it were a grettere ese
With love here hertes to him drawe,
Than with the drede of eny lawe.
For whan a thing is do for doute,
Fulofte it comth the worse aboute;
Bot wher a king is Pietous,
He is the more gracious, 3160
That mochel thrift him schal betyde,
Which elles scholde torne aside.
Of Pite forto speke plein,
Which is with mercy wel besein,
Fulofte he wole himselve peine
To kepe an other fro the peine:
For Charite the moder is
Of Pite, which nothing amis
Can soffre, if he it mai amende.
It sit to every man livende 3170
To be Pitous, bot non so wel
As to a king, which on the whiel
Fortune hath set aboven alle:
For in a king, if so befalle
That his Pite be ferme and stable,
To al the lond it is vailable
Only thurgh grace of his persone;
For the Pite of him al one
Mai al the large realme save.
So sit it wel a king to have 3180
Pite; for this Valeire tolde,
And seide hou that be daies olde
Codrus, which was in his degre
King of Athenis the cite,
A werre he hadde ayein Dorrence:
And forto take his evidence
What schal befalle of the bataille,
He thoghte he wolde him ferst consaille
With Appollo, in whom he triste;
Thurgh whos ansuere this he wiste, 3190
Of tuo pointz that he myhte chese,
Or that he wolde his body lese
And in bataille himselve deie,
Or elles the seconde weie,
To sen his poeple desconfit.
Bot he, which Pite hath parfit
Upon the point of his believe,
The poeple thoghte to relieve,
And ches himselve to be ded.
Wher is nou such an other hed, 3200
Which wolde for the lemes dye?
And natheles in som partie
It oghte a kinges herte stere,
That he hise liege men forbere.
And ek toward hise enemis
Fulofte he may deserve pris,
To take of Pite remembrance,
Wher that he myhte do vengance:
For whanne a king hath the victoire,
And thanne he drawe into memoire 3210
To do Pite in stede of wreche,
He mai noght faile of thilke speche
Wherof arist the worldes fame,
To yive a Prince a worthi name.
I rede hou whilom that Pompeie,
To whom that Rome moste obeie,
A werre hadde in jeupartie
Ayein the king of Ermenie,
Which of long time him hadde grieved.
Bot ate laste it was achieved 3220
That he this king desconfit hadde,
And forth with him to Rome ladde
As Prisoner, wher many a day
In sori plit and povere he lay,
The corone of his heved deposed,
Withinne walles faste enclosed;
And with ful gret humilite
He soffreth his adversite.
Pompeie sih his pacience
And tok pite with conscience, 3230
So that upon his hihe deis
Tofore al Rome in his Paleis,
As he that wolde upon him rewe,
Let yive him his corone newe
And his astat al full and plein
Restoreth of his regne ayein,
And seide it was more goodly thing
To make than undon a king,
To him which pouer hadde of bothe.
Thus thei, that weren longe wrothe, 3240
Acorden hem to final pes;
And yit justice natheles
Was kept and in nothing offended;
Wherof Pompeie was comended.
Ther mai no king himself excuse,
Bot if justice he kepe and use,
Which for teschuie crualte
He mot attempre with Pite.
Of crualte the felonie
Engendred is of tirannie, 3250
Ayein the whos condicion
God is himself the champion,
Whos strengthe mai noman withstonde.
For evere yit it hath so stonde,
That god a tirant overladde;
Bot wher Pite the regne ladde,
Ther mihte no fortune laste
Which was grevous, bot ate laste
The god himself it hath redresced.
Pite is thilke vertu blessed 3260
Which nevere let his Maister falle;
Bot crualte, thogh it so falle
That it mai regne for a throwe,
God wole it schal ben overthrowe:
Wherof ensamples ben ynowhe
Of hem that thilke merel drowhe.
Of crualte I rede thus:
Whan the tirant Leoncius
Was to thempire of Rome arrived,
Fro which he hath with strengthe prived 3270
The pietous Justinian,
As he which was a cruel man,
His nase of and his lippes bothe
He kutte, for he wolde him lothe
Unto the poeple and make unable.
Bot he which is al merciable,
The hihe god, ordeigneth so,
That he withinne a time also,
Whan he was strengest in his ire,
Was schoven out of his empire. 3280
Tiberius the pouer hadde,
And Rome after his will he ladde,
And for Leonce in such a wise
Ordeigneth, that he tok juise
Of nase and lippes bothe tuo,
For that he dede an other so,
Which more worthi was than he.
Lo, which a fall hath crualte,
And Pite was set up ayein:
For after that the bokes sein, 3290
Therbellis king of Bulgarie
With helpe of his chivalerie
Justinian hath unprisoned
And to thempire ayein coroned.
In a Cronique I finde also
Of Siculus, which was ek so
A cruel king lich the tempeste,
The whom no Pite myhte areste,-
He was the ferste, as bokes seie,
Upon the See which fond Galeie 3300
And let hem make for the werre,-
As he which al was out of herre
Fro Pite and misericorde;
For therto couthe he noght acorde,
Bot whom he myhte slen, he slouh,
And therof was he glad ynouh.
He hadde of conseil manyon,
Among the whiche ther was on,
Be name which Berillus hihte;
And he bethoghte him hou he myhte 3310
Unto the tirant do likinge,
And of his oghne ymaginynge
Let forge and make a Bole of bras,
And on the side cast ther was
A Dore, wher a man mai inne,
Whan he his peine schal beginne
Thurgh fyr, which that men putten under.
And al this dede he for a wonder,
That whanne a man for peine cride,
The Bole of bras, which gapeth wyde, 3320
It scholde seme as thogh it were
A belwinge in a mannes Ere,
And noght the criinge of a man.
Bot he which alle sleihtes can,
The devel, that lith in helle fast,
Him that this caste hath overcast,
That for a trespas which he dede
He was putt in the same stede,
And was himself the ferste of alle
Which was into that peine falle 3330
That he for othre men ordeigneth;
Ther was noman which him compleigneth.
Of tirannie and crualte
Be this ensample a king mai se,
Himself and ek his conseil bothe,
Hou thei ben to mankinde lothe
And to the god abhominable.
Ensamples that ben concordable
I finde of othre Princes mo,
As thou schalt hiere, of time go. 3340
The grete tirant Dionys,
Which mannes lif sette of no pris,
Unto his hors fulofte he yaf
The men in stede of corn and chaf,
So that the hors of thilke stod
Devoureden the mennes blod;
Til fortune ate laste cam,
That Hercules him overcam,
And he riht in the same wise
Of this tirant tok the juise: 3350
As he til othre men hath do,
The same deth he deide also,
That no Pite him hath socoured,
Til he was of hise hors devoured.
Of Lichaon also I finde
Hou he ayein the lawe of kinde
Hise hostes slouh, and into mete
He made her bodies to ben ete
With othre men withinne his hous.
Bot Jupiter the glorious, 3360
Which was commoeved of this thing,
Vengance upon this cruel king
So tok, that he fro mannes forme
Into a wolf him let transforme:
And thus the crualte was kidd,
Which of long time he hadde hidd;
A wolf he was thanne openly,
The whos nature prively
He hadde in his condicion.
And unto this conclusioun, 3370
That tirannie is to despise,
I finde ensample in sondri wise,
And nameliche of hem fulofte,
The whom fortune hath set alofte
Upon the werres forto winne.
Bot hou so that the wrong beginne
Of tirannie, it mai noght laste,
Bot such as thei don ate laste
To othre men, such on hem falleth;
For ayein suche Pite calleth 3380
Vengance to the god above.
For who that hath no tender love
In savinge of a mannes lif,
He schal be founde so gultif,
That whanne he wolde mercy crave
In time of nede, he schal non have.
Of the natures this I finde,
The fierce Leon in his kinde,
Which goth rampende after his preie,
If he a man finde in his weie, 3390
He wole him slen, if he withstonde.
Bot if the man coude understonde
To falle anon before his face
In signe of mercy and of grace,
The Leon schal of his nature
Restreigne his ire in such mesure,
As thogh it were a beste tamed,
And torne awey halfvinge aschamed,
That he the man schal nothing grieve.
Hou scholde than a Prince achieve 3400
The worldes grace, if that he wolde
Destruie a man whanne he is yolde
And stant upon his mercy al?
Bot forto speke in special,
Ther have be suche and yit ther be
Tirantz, whos hertes no pite
Mai to no point of mercy plie,
That thei upon her tirannie
Ne gladen hem the men to sle;
And as the rages of the See 3410
Ben unpitous in the tempeste,
Riht so mai no Pite areste
Of crualte the gret oultrage,
Which the tirant in his corage
Engendred hath: wherof I finde
A tale, which comth nou to mynde.
I rede in olde bokes thus:
Ther was a Duk, which Spertachus
Men clepe, and was a werreiour,
A cruel man, a conquerour 3420
With strong pouer the which he ladde.
For this condicion he hadde,
That where him hapneth the victoire,
His lust and al his moste gloire
Was forto sle and noght to save:
Of rancoun wolde he no good have
For savinge of a mannes lif,
Bot al goth to the swerd and knyf,
So lief him was the mannes blod.
And natheles yit thus it stod, 3430
So as fortune aboute wente,
He fell riht heir as be descente
To Perse, and was coroned king.
And whan the worschipe of this thing
Was falle, and he was king of Perse,
If that thei weren ferst diverse,
The tirannies whiche he wroghte,
A thousendfold welmore he soghte
Thanne afterward to do malice.
The god vengance ayein the vice 3440
Hath schape: for upon a tyde,
Whan he was heihest in his Pride,
In his rancour and in his hete
Ayein the queene of Marsagete,
Which Thameris that time hihte,
He made werre al that he myhte:
And sche, which wolde hir lond defende,
Hir oghne Sone ayein him sende,
Which the defence hath undertake.
Bot he desconfit was and take; 3450
And whan this king him hadde in honde,
He wol no mercy understonde,
Bot dede him slen in his presence.
The tidinge of this violence
Whan it cam to the moder Ere,
Sche sende anon ay wydewhere
To suche frendes as sche hadde,
A gret pouer til that sche ladde.
In sondri wise and tho sche caste
Hou sche this king mai overcaste; 3460
And ate laste acorded was,
That in the danger of a pass,
Thurgh which this tirant scholde passe,
Sche schop his pouer to compasse
With strengthe of men be such a weie
That he schal noght eschape aweie.
And whan sche hadde thus ordeigned,
Sche hath hir oghne bodi feigned,
For feere as thogh sche wolde flee
Out of hir lond: and whan that he 3470
Hath herd hou that this ladi fledde,
So faste after the chace he spedde,
That he was founde out of array.
For it betidde upon a day,
Into the pas whanne he was falle,
Thembuisschementz tobrieken alle
And him beclipte on every side,
That fle ne myhte he noght aside:
So that ther weren dede and take
Tuo hundred thousend for his sake, 3480
That weren with him of his host.
And thus was leid the grete bost
Of him and of his tirannie:
It halp no mercy forto crie
To him which whilom dede non;
For he unto the queene anon
Was broght, and whan that sche him sih,
This word sche spak and seide on hih:
"O man, which out of mannes kinde
Reson of man hast left behinde 3490
And lived worse than a beste,
Whom Pite myhte noght areste,
The mannes blod to schede and spille
Thou haddest nevere yit thi fille.
Bot nou the laste time is come,
That thi malice is overcome:
As thou til othre men hast do,
Nou schal be do to thee riht so."
Tho bad this ladi that men scholde
A vessel bringe, in which sche wolde 3500
Se the vengance of his juise,
Which sche began anon devise;
And tok the Princes whiche he ladde,
Be whom his chief conseil he hadde,
And whil hem lasteth eny breth,
Sche made hem blede to the deth
Into the vessel wher it stod:
And whan it was fulfild of blod,
Sche caste this tirant therinne,
And seide him, "Lo, thus myht thou wynne 3510
The lustes of thin appetit.
In blod was whilom thi delit,
Nou schalt thou drinken al thi fille."
And thus onliche of goddes wille,
He which that wolde himselve strange
To Pite, fond mercy so strange,
That he withoute grace is lore.
So may it schewe wel therfore
That crualte hath no good ende;
Bot Pite, hou so that it wende, 3520
Makth that the god is merciable,
If ther be cause resonable
Why that a king schal be pitous.
Bot elles, if he be doubtous
To slen in cause of rihtwisnesse,
It mai be said no Pitousnesse,
Bot it is Pusillamite,
Which every Prince scholde flee.
For if Pite mesure excede,
Kinghode may noght wel procede 3530
To do justice upon the riht:
For it belongeth to a knyht
Als gladly forto fihte as reste,
To sette his liege poeple in reste,
Whan that the werre upon hem falleth;
For thanne he mote, as it befalleth,
Of his knyhthode as a Leon
Be to the poeple a champioun
Withouten eny Pite feigned.
For if manhode be restreigned, 3540
Or be it pes or be it werre,
Justice goth al out of herre,
So that knyhthode is set behinde.
Of Aristotles lore I finde,
A king schal make good visage,
That noman knowe of his corage
Bot al honour and worthinesse:
For if a king schal upon gesse
Withoute verrai cause drede,
He mai be lich to that I rede; 3550
And thogh that it be lich a fable,
Thensample is good and resonable.
As it be olde daies fell,
I rede whilom that an hell
Up in the londes of Archade
A wonder dredful noise made;
For so it fell that ilke day,
This hell on his childinge lay,
And whan the throwes on him come,
His noise lich the day of dome 3560
Was ferfull in a mannes thoght
Of thing which that thei sihe noght,
Bot wel thei herden al aboute
The noise, of which thei were in doute,
As thei that wenden to be lore
Of thing which thanne was unbore.
The nerr this hell was upon chance
To taken his deliverance,
The more unbuxomliche he cride;
And every man was fledd aside, 3570
For drede and lefte his oghne hous:
And ate laste it was a Mous,
The which was bore and to norrice
Betake; and tho thei hield hem nyce,
For thei withoute cause dradde.
Thus if a king his herte ladde
With every thing that he schal hiere,
Fulofte he scholde change his chiere
And upon fantasie drede,
Whan that ther is no cause of drede. 3580
Orace to his Prince tolde,
That him were levere that he wolde
Upon knihthode Achillem suie
In time of werre, thanne eschuie,
So as Tersites dede at Troie.
Achilles al his hole joie
Sette upon Armes forto fihte;
Tersites soghte al that he myhte
Unarmed forto stonde in reste:
Bot of the tuo it was the beste 3590
That Achilles upon the nede
Hath do, wherof his knyhtlihiede
Is yit comended overal.
King Salomon in special
Seith, as ther is a time of pes,
So is a time natheles
Of werre, in which a Prince algate
Schal for the comun riht debate
And for his oghne worschipe eke.
Bot it behoveth noght to seke 3600
Only the werre for worschipe,
Bot to the riht of his lordschipe,
Which he is holde to defende,
Mote every worthi Prince entende.
Betwen the simplesce of Pite
And the folhaste of crualte,
Wher stant the verray hardiesce,
Ther mote a king his herte adresce,
Whanne it is time to forsake,
And whan time is also to take 3610
The dedly werres upon honde,
That he schal for no drede wonde,
If rihtwisnesse be withal.
For god is myhty overal
To forthren every mannes trowthe,
Bot it be thurgh his oghne slowthe;
And namely the kinges nede
It mai noght faile forto spede,
For he stant one for hem alle;
So mote it wel the betre falle 3620
And wel the more god favoureth,
Whan he the comun riht socoureth.
And forto se the sothe in dede,
Behold the bible and thou myht rede
Of grete ensamples manyon,
Wherof that I wol tellen on.
Upon a time as it befell,
Ayein Judee and Irahel
Whan sondri kinges come were
In pourpos to destruie there 3630
The poeple which god kepte tho,-
And stod in thilke daies so,
That Gedeon, which scholde lede
The goddes folk, tok him to rede,
And sende in al the lond aboute,
Til he assembled hath a route
With thritti thousend of defence,
To fihte and make resistence
Ayein the whiche hem wolde assaille:
And natheles that o bataille 3640
Of thre that weren enemys
Was double mor than was al his;
Wherof that Gedeon him dradde,
That he so litel poeple hadde.
Bot he which alle thing mai helpe,
Wher that ther lacketh mannes helpe,
To Gedeon his Angel sente,
And bad, er that he forther wente,
Al openly that he do crie
That every man in his partie 3650
Which wolde after his oghne wille
In his delice abide stille
At hom in eny maner wise,
For pourchas or for covoitise,
For lust of love or lacke of herte,
He scholde noght aboute sterte,
Bot holde him stille at hom in pes:
Wherof upon the morwe he les
Wel twenty thousend men and mo,
The whiche after the cri ben go. 3660
Thus was with him bot only left
The thridde part, and yit god eft
His Angel sende and seide this
To Gedeon: "If it so is
That I thin help schal undertake,
Thou schalt yit lasse poeple take,
Be whom mi will is that thou spede.
Forthi tomorwe tak good hiede,
Unto the flod whan ye be come,
What man that hath the water nome 3670
Up in his hond and lapeth so,
To thi part ches out alle tho;
And him which wery is to swinke,
Upon his wombe and lith to drinke,
Forsak and put hem alle aweie.
For I am myhti alle weie,
Wher as me list myn help to schewe
In goode men, thogh thei ben fewe."
This Gedeon awaiteth wel,
Upon the morwe and everydel, 3680
As god him bad, riht so he dede.
And thus ther leften in that stede
With him thre hundred and nomo,
The remenant was al ago:
Wherof that Gedeon merveileth,
And therupon with god conseileth,
Pleignende as ferforth as he dar.
And god, which wolde he were war
That he schal spede upon his riht,
Hath bede him go the same nyht 3690
And take a man with him, to hiere
What schal be spoke in his matere
Among the hethen enemis;
So mai he be the more wys,
What afterward him schal befalle.
This Gedeon amonges alle
Phara, to whom he triste most,
Be nyhte tok toward thilke host,
Which logged was in a valleie,
To hiere what thei wolden seie; 3700
Upon his fot and as he ferde,
Tuo Sarazins spekende he herde.
Quod on, "Ared mi swevene ariht,
Which I mette in mi slep to nyht.
Me thoghte I sih a barli cake,
Which fro the Hull his weie hath take,
And cam rollende doun at ones;
And as it were for the nones,
Forth in his cours so as it ran,
The kinges tente of Madian, 3710
Of Amalech, of Amoreie,
Of Amon and of Jebuseie,
And many an other tente mo
With gret noise, as me thoghte tho,
It threw to grounde and overcaste,
And al this host so sore agaste
That I awok for pure drede."
"This swevene can I wel arede,"
Quod thother Sarazin anon:
"The barli cake is Gedeon, 3720
Which fro the hell doun sodeinly
Schal come and sette such ascry
Upon the kinges and ous bothe,
That it schal to ous alle lothe:
For in such drede he schal ous bringe,
That if we hadden flyht of wynge,
The weie on fote in desespeir
We scholden leve and flen in their,
For ther schal nothing him withstonde."
Whan Gedeon hath understonde 3730
This tale, he thonketh god of al,
And priveliche ayein he stal,
So that no lif him hath perceived.
And thanne he hath fulli conceived
That he schal spede; and therupon
The nyht suiende he schop to gon
This multitude to assaile.
Nou schalt thou hiere a gret mervaile,
With what voisdie that he wroghte.
The litel poeple which he broghte, 3740
Was non of hem that he ne hath
A pot of erthe, in which he tath
A lyht brennende in a kressette,
And ech of hem ek a trompette
Bar in his other hond beside;
And thus upon the nyhtes tyde
Duk Gedeon, whan it was derk,
Ordeineth him unto his werk,
And parteth thanne his folk in thre,
And chargeth hem that thei ne fle, 3750
And tawhte hem hou they scholde ascrie
Alle in o vois per compaignie,
And what word ek thei scholden speke,
And hou thei scholde here pottes breke
Echon with other, whan thei herde
That he himselve ferst so ferde;
For whan thei come into the stede,
He bad hem do riht as he dede.
And thus stalkende forth a pas
This noble Duk, whan time was, 3760
His pot tobrak and loude ascride,
And tho thei breke on every side.
The trompe was noght forto seke;
He blew, and so thei blewen eke
With such a noise among hem alle,
As thogh the hevene scholde falle.
The hull unto here vois ansuerde,
This host in the valleie it herde,
And sih hou that the hell alyhte;
So what of hieringe and of sihte, 3770
Thei cawhten such a sodein feere,
That non of hem belefte there:
The tentes hole thei forsoke,
That thei non other good ne toke,
Bot only with here bodi bare
Thei fledde, as doth the wylde Hare.
And evere upon the hull thei blewe,
Til that thei sihe time, and knewe
That thei be fled upon the rage;
And whan thei wiste here avantage, 3780
Thei felle anon unto the chace.
Thus myht thou sen hou goddes grace
Unto the goode men availeth;
But elles ofte time it faileth
To suche as be noght wel disposed.
This tale nedeth noght be glosed,
For it is openliche schewed
That god to hem that ben wel thewed
Hath yove and granted the victoire:
So that thensample of this histoire 3790
Is good for every king to holde;
Ferst in himself that he beholde
If he be good of his livinge,
And that the folk which he schal bringe
Be good also, for thanne he may
Be glad of many a merie day,
In what as evere he hath to done.
For he which sit above the Mone
And alle thing mai spille and spede,
In every cause, in every nede 3800
His goode king so wel adresceth,
That alle his fomen he represseth,
So that ther mai noman him dere;
And als so wel he can forbere,
And soffre a wickid king to falle
In hondes of his fomen alle.
Nou forthermore if I schal sein
Of my matiere, and torne ayein
To speke of justice and Pite
After the reule of realte, 3810
This mai a king wel understonde,
Knihthode mot ben take on honde,
Whan that it stant upon the nede:
He schal no rihtful cause drede,
Nomore of werre thanne of pes,
If he wol stonde blameles;
For such a cause a king mai have
That betre him is to sle than save,
Wherof thou myht ensample finde.
The hihe makere of mankinde 3820
Be Samuel to Sal bad,
That he schal nothing ben adrad
Ayein king Agag forto fihte;
For this the godhede him behihte,
That Agag schal ben overcome:
And whan it is so ferforth come,
That Sal hath him desconfit,
The god bad make no respit,
That he ne scholde him slen anon.
Bot Sal let it overgon 3830
And dede noght the goddes heste:
For Agag made gret beheste
Of rancoun which he wolde yive,
King Sal soffreth him to live
And feigneth pite forth withal.
Bot he which seth and knoweth al,
The hihe god, of that he feigneth
To Samuel upon him pleigneth,
And sende him word, for that he lefte
Of Agag that he ne berefte 3840
The lif, he schal noght only dye
Himself, bot fro his regalie
He schal be put for everemo,
Noght he, bot ek his heir also,
That it schal nevere come ayein.
Thus myht thou se the sothe plein,
That of tomoche and of tolyte
Upon the Princes stant the wyte.
Bot evere it was a kinges riht
To do the dedes of a knyht; 3850
For in the handes of a king
The deth and lif is al o thing
After the lawes of justice.
To slen it is a dedly vice,
Bot if a man the deth deserve;
And if a king the lif preserve
Of him which oghte forto dye,
He suieth noght thensamplerie
Which in the bible is evident:
Hou David in his testament, 3860
Whan he no lengere myhte live,
Unto his Sone in charge hath yive
That he Joab schal slen algate;
And whan David was gon his gate,
The yonge wise Salomon
His fader heste dede anon,
And slouh Joab in such a wise,
That thei that herden the juise
Evere after dradden him the more,
And god was ek wel paid therfore, 3870
That he so wolde his herte plye
The lawes forto justefie.
And yit he kepte forth withal
Pite, so as a Prince schal,
That he no tirannie wroghte;
He fond the wisdom which he soghte,
And was so rihtful natheles,
That al his lif he stod in pes,
That he no dedly werres hadde,
For every man his wisdom dradde. 3880
And as he was himselve wys,
Riht so the worthi men of pris
He hath of his conseil withholde;
For that is every Prince holde,
To make of suche his retenue
Whiche wise ben, and to remue
The foles: for ther is nothing
Which mai be betre aboute a king,
Than conseil, which is the substance
Of all a kinges governance. 3890
In Salomon a man mai see
What thing of most necessite
Unto a worthi king belongeth.
Whan he his kingdom underfongeth,
God bad him chese what he wolde,
And seide him that he have scholde
What he wolde axe, as of o thing.
And he, which was a newe king,
Forth therupon his bone preide
To god, and in this wise he seide: 3900
"O king, be whom that I schal regne,
Yif me wisdom, that I my regne,
Forth with thi poeple which I have,
To thin honour mai kepe and save."
Whan Salomon his bone hath taxed,
The god of that which he hath axed
Was riht wel paid, and granteth sone
Noght al only that he his bone
Schal have of that, bot of richesse,
Of hele, of pes, of hih noblesse, 3910
Forth with wisdom at his axinges,
Which stant above alle othre thinges.
Bot what king wole his regne save,
Ferst him behoveth forto have
After the god and his believe
Such conseil which is to believe,
Fulfild of trouthe and rihtwisnesse:
Bot above alle in his noblesse
Betwen the reddour and pite
A king schal do such equite 3920
And sette the balance in evene,
So that the hihe god in hevene
And al the poeple of his nobleie
Loange unto his name seie.
For most above all erthli good,
Wher that a king himself is good
It helpeth, for in other weie
If so be that a king forsueie,
Fulofte er this it hath be sein,
The comun poeple is overlein 3930
And hath the kinges Senne aboght,
Al thogh the poeple agulte noght.
Of that the king his god misserveth,
The poeple takth that he descerveth
Hier in this world, bot elleswhere
I not hou it schal stonde there.
Forthi good is a king to triste
Ferst to himself, as he ne wiste
Non other help bot god alone;
So schal the reule of his persone 3940
Withinne himself thurgh providence
Ben of the betre conscience.
And forto finde ensample of this,
A tale I rede, and soth it is.
In a Cronique it telleth thus:
The king of Rome Lucius
Withinne his chambre upon a nyht
The Steward of his hous, a knyht,
Forth with his Chamberlein also,
To conseil hadde bothe tuo, 3950
And stoden be the Chiminee
Togedre spekende alle thre.
And happeth that the kinges fol
Sat be the fyr upon a stol,
As he that with his babil pleide,
Bot yit he herde al that thei seide,
And therof token thei non hiede.
The king hem axeth what to rede
Of such matiere as cam to mouthe,
And thei him tolden as thei couthe. 3960
Whan al was spoke of that thei mente,
The king with al his hole entente
Thanne ate laste hem axeth this,
What king men tellen that he is:
Among the folk touchende his name,
Or be it pris, or be it blame,
Riht after that thei herden sein,
He bad hem forto telle it plein,
That thei no point of soth forbere,
Be thilke feith that thei him bere. 3970
The Steward ferst upon this thing
Yaf his ansuere unto the king
And thoghte glose in this matiere,
And seide, als fer as he can hiere,
His name is good and honourable:
Thus was the Stieward favorable,
That he the trouthe plein ne tolde.
The king thanne axeth, as he scholde,
The Chamberlein of his avis.
And he, that was soubtil and wys, 3980
And somdiel thoghte upon his feith,
Him tolde hou al the poeple seith
That if his conseil were trewe,
Thei wiste thanne wel and knewe
That of himself he scholde be
A worthi king in his degre:
And thus the conseil he accuseth
In partie, and the king excuseth.
The fol, which herde of al the cas
That time, as goddes wille was, 3990
Sih that thei seiden noght ynowh,
And hem to skorne bothe lowh,
And to the king he seide tho:
"Sire king, if that it were so,
Of wisdom in thin oghne mod
That thou thiselven were good,
Thi conseil scholde noght be badde."
The king therof merveille hadde,
Whan that a fol so wisly spak,
And of himself fond out the lack 4000
Withinne his oghne conscience:
And thus the foles evidence,
Which was of goddes grace enspired,
Makth that good conseil was desired.
He putte awey the vicious
And tok to him the vertuous;
The wrongful lawes ben amended,
The londes good is wel despended,
The poeple was nomore oppressed,
And thus stod every thing redressed. 4010
For where a king is propre wys,
And hath suche as himselven is
Of his conseil, it mai noght faile
That every thing ne schal availe:
The vices thanne gon aweie,
And every vertu holt his weie;
Wherof the hihe god is plesed,
And al the londes folk is esed.
For if the comun poeple crie,
And thanne a king list noght to plie 4020
To hiere what the clamour wolde,
And otherwise thanne he scholde
Desdeigneth forto don hem grace,
It hath be sen in many place,
Ther hath befalle gret contraire;
And that I finde of ensamplaire.
After the deth of Salomon,
Whan thilke wise king was gon,
And Roboas in his persone
Receive scholde the corone, 4030
The poeple upon a Parlement
Avised were of on assent,
And alle unto the king thei preiden,
With comun vois and thus thei seiden:
"Oure liege lord, we thee beseche
That thou receive oure humble speche
And grante ous that which reson wile,
Or of thi grace or of thi skile.
Thi fader, whil he was alyve
And myhte bothe grante and pryve, 4040
Upon the werkes whiche he hadde
The comun poeple streite ladde:
Whan he the temple made newe,
Thing which men nevere afore knewe
He broghte up thanne of his taillage,
And al was under the visage
Of werkes whiche he made tho.
Bot nou it is befalle so,
That al is mad, riht as he seide,
And he was riche whan he deide; 4050
So that it is no maner nede,
If thou therof wolt taken hiede,
To pilen of the poeple more,
Which long time hath be grieved sore.
And in this wise as we thee seie,
With tendre herte we thee preie
That thou relesse thilke dette,
Which upon ous thi fader sette.
And if thee like to don so,
We ben thi men for everemo, 4060
To gon and comen at thin heste."
The king, which herde this requeste,
Seith that he wole ben avised,
And hath therof a time assised;
And in the while as he him thoghte
Upon this thing, conseil he soghte.
And ferst the wise knyhtes olde,
To whom that he his tale tolde,
Conseilen him in this manere;
That he with love and with glad chiere 4070
Foryive and grante al that is axed
Of that his fader hadde taxed;
For so he mai his regne achieve
With thing which schal him litel grieve.
The king hem herde and overpasseth,
And with these othre his wit compasseth,
That yonge were and nothing wise.
And thei these olde men despise,
And seiden: "Sire, it schal be schame
For evere unto thi worthi name, 4080
If thou ne kepe noght the riht,
Whil thou art in thi yonge myht,
Which that thin olde fader gat.
Bot seie unto the poeple plat,
That whil thou livest in thi lond,
The leste finger of thin hond
It schal be strengere overal
Than was thi fadres bodi al.
And this also schal be thi tale,
If he hem smot with roddes smale, 4090
With Scorpions thou schalt hem smyte;
And wher thi fader tok a lyte,
Thou thenkst to take mochel more.
Thus schalt thou make hem drede sore
The grete herte of thi corage,
So forto holde hem in servage.
This yonge king him hath conformed
To don as he was last enformed,
Which was to him his undoinge:
For whan it cam to the spekinge, 4100
He hath the yonge conseil holde,
That he the same wordes tolde
Of al the poeple in audience;
And whan thei herden the sentence
Of his malice and the manace,
Anon tofore his oghne face
Thei have him oultreli refused
And with ful gret reproef accused.
So thei begunne forto rave,
That he was fain himself to save; 4110
For as the wilde wode rage
Of wyndes makth the See salvage,
And that was calm bringth into wawe,
So for defalte of grace and lawe
This poeple is stered al at ones
And forth thei gon out of hise wones;
So that of the lignages tuelve
Tuo tribes only be hemselve
With him abiden and nomo:
So were thei for everemo 4120
Of no retorn withoute espeir
Departed fro the rihtfull heir.
Al Irahel with comun vois
A king upon here oghne chois
Among hemself anon thei make,
And have here yonge lord forsake;
A povere knyht Jeroboas
Thei toke, and lefte Roboas,
Which rihtfull heir was be descente.
Lo, thus the yonge cause wente: 4130
For that the conseil was noght good,
The regne fro the rihtfull blod
Evere afterward divided was.
So mai it proven be this cas
That yong conseil, which is to warm,
Er men be war doth ofte harm.
Old age for the conseil serveth,
And lusti youthe his thonk deserveth
Upon the travail which he doth;
And bothe, forto seie a soth, 4140
Be sondri cause forto have,
If that he wole his regne save,
A king behoveth every day.
That on can and that other mai,
Be so the king hem bothe reule,
For elles al goth out of reule.
And upon this matiere also
A question betwen the tuo
Thus writen in a bok I fond;
Wher it be betre for the lond 4150
A king himselve to be wys,
And so to bere his oghne pris,
And that his consail be noght good,
Or other wise if it so stod,
A king if he be vicious
And his conseil be vertuous.
It is ansuerd in such a wise,
That betre it is that thei be wise
Be whom that the conseil schal gon,
For thei be manye, and he is on; 4160
And rathere schal an one man
With fals conseil, for oght he can,
From his wisdom be mad to falle,
Thanne he al one scholde hem alle
Fro vices into vertu change,
For that is wel the more strange.
Forthi the lond mai wel be glad,
Whos king with good conseil is lad,
Which set him unto rihtwisnesse,
So that his hihe worthinesse 4170
Betwen the reddour and Pite
Doth mercy forth with equite.
A king is holden overal
To Pite, bot in special
To hem wher he is most beholde;
Thei scholde his Pite most beholde
That ben the Lieges of his lond,
For thei ben evere under his hond
After the goddes ordinaunce
To stonde upon his governance. 4180
Of themperour Anthonius
I finde hou that he seide thus,
That levere him were forto save
Oon of his lieges than to have
Of enemis a thousend dede.
And this he lernede, as I rede,
Of Cipio, which hadde be
Consul of Rome. And thus to se
Diverse ensamples hou thei stonde,
A king which hath the charge on honde 4190
The comun poeple to governe,
If that he wole, he mai wel lerne.
Is non so good to the plesance
Of god, as is good governance;
And every governance is due
To Pite: thus I mai argue
That Pite is the foundement
Of every kinges regiment,
If it be medled with justice.
Thei tuo remuen alle vice, 4200
And ben of vertu most vailable
To make a kinges regne stable.
Lo, thus the foure pointz tofore,
In governance as thei ben bore,
Of trouthe ferst and of largesse,
Of Pite forth with rihtwisnesse,
I have hem told; and over this
The fifte point, so as it is
Set of the reule of Policie,
Wherof a king schal modefie 4210
The fleisschly lustes of nature,
Nou thenk I telle of such mesure,
That bothe kinde schal be served
And ek the lawe of god observed.
The Madle is mad for the the femele,
Bot where as on desireth fele,
That nedeth noght be weie of kinde:
For whan a man mai redy finde
His oghne wif, what scholde he seche
In strange places to beseche 4220
To borwe an other mannes plouh,
Whan he hath geere good ynouh
Affaited at his oghne heste,
And is to him wel more honeste
Than other thing which is unknowe?
Forthi scholde every good man knowe
And thenke, hou that in mariage
His trouthe pliht lith in morgage,
Which if he breke, it is falshode,
And that descordeth to manhode, 4230
And namely toward the grete,
Wherof the bokes alle trete;
So as the Philosophre techeth
To Alisandre, and him betecheth
The lore hou that he schal mesure
His bodi, so that no mesure
Of fleisshly lust he scholde excede.
And thus forth if I schal procede,
The fifte point, as I seide er,
Is chastete, which sielde wher 4240
Comth nou adaies into place;
And natheles, bot it be grace
Above alle othre in special,
Is non that chaste mai ben all.
Bot yit a kinges hihe astat,
Which of his ordre as a prelat
Schal ben enoignt and seintefied,
He mot be more magnefied
For dignete of his corone,
Than scholde an other low persone, 4250
Which is noght of so hih emprise.
Therfore a Prince him scholde avise,
Er that he felle in such riote,
And namely that he nassote
To change for the wommanhede
The worthinesse of his manhede.
Of Aristotle I have wel rad,
Hou he to Alisandre bad,
That forto gladen his corage
He schal beholde the visage 4260
Of wommen, whan that thei ben faire.
Bot yit he set an essamplaire,
His bodi so to guide and reule,
That he ne passe noght the reule,
Wherof that he himself beguile.
For in the womman is no guile
Of that a man himself bewhapeth;
Whan he his oghne wit bejapeth,
I can the wommen wel excuse:
Bot what man wole upon hem muse 4270
After the fool impression
Of his ymaginacioun,
Withinne himself the fyr he bloweth,
Wherof the womman nothing knoweth,
So mai sche nothing be to wyte.
For if a man himself excite
To drenche, and wol it noght forbere,
The water schal no blame bere.
What mai the gold, thogh men coveite?
If that a man wol love streite, 4280
The womman hath him nothing bounde;
If he his oghne herte wounde,
Sche mai noght lette the folie;
And thogh so felle of compainie
That he myht eny thing pourchace,
Yit makth a man the ferste chace,
The womman fleth and he poursuieth:
So that be weie of skile it suieth,
The man is cause, hou so befalle,
That he fulofte sithe is falle 4290
Wher that he mai noght wel aryse.
And natheles ful manye wise
Befoled have hemself er this,
As nou adaies yit it is
Among the men and evere was,
The stronge is fieblest in this cas.
It sit a man be weie of kinde
To love, bot it is noght kinde
A man for love his wit to lese:
For if the Monthe of Juil schal frese 4300
And that Decembre schal ben hot,
The yeer mistorneth, wel I wot.
To sen a man fro his astat
Thurgh his sotie effeminat,
And leve that a man schal do,
It is as Hose above the Scho,
To man which oghte noght ben used.
Bot yit the world hath ofte accused
Ful grete Princes of this dede,
Hou thei for love hemself mislede, 4310
Wherof manhode stod behinde,
Of olde ensamples as I finde.
These olde gestes tellen thus,
That whilom Sardana Pallus,
Which hield al hol in his empire
The grete kingdom of Assire,
Was thurgh the slouthe of his corage
Falle into thilke fyri rage
Of love, which the men assoteth,
Wherof himself he so rioteth, 4320
And wax so ferforth wommannyssh,
That ayein kinde, as if a fissh
Abide wolde upon the lond,
In wommen such a lust he fond,
That he duelte evere in chambre stille,
And only wroghte after the wille
Of wommen, so as he was bede,
That selden whanne in other stede
If that he wolde wenden oute,
To sen hou that it stod aboute. 4330
Bot ther he keste and there he pleide,
Thei tawhten him a Las to breide,
And weve a Pours, and to enfile
A Perle: and fell that ilke while,
On Barbarus the Prince of Mede
Sih hou this king in wommanhede
Was falle fro chivalerie,
And gat him help and compaignie,
And wroghte so, that ate laste
This king out of his regne he caste, 4340
Which was undon for everemo:
And yit men speken of him so,
That it is schame forto hiere.
Forthi to love is in manere.
King David hadde many a love,
Bot natheles alwey above
Knyhthode he kepte in such a wise,
That for no fleisshli covoitise
Of lust to ligge in ladi armes
He lefte noght the lust of armes. 4350
For where a Prince hise lustes suieth,
That he the werre noght poursuieth,
Whan it is time to ben armed,
His contre stant fulofte harmed,
Whan thenemis ben woxe bolde,
That thei defence non beholde.
Ful many a lond hath so be lore,
As men mai rede of time afore
Of hem that so here eses soghten,
Which after thei full diere aboghten. 4360
To mochel ese is nothing worth,
For that set every vice forth
And every vertu put abak,
Wherof priss torneth into lak,
As in Cronique I mai reherse:
Which telleth hou the king of Perse,
That Cirus hihte, a werre hadde
Ayein a poeple which he dradde,
Of a contre which Liddos hihte;
Bot yit for oght that he do mihte 4370
As in bataille upon the werre,
He hadde of hem alwey the werre.
And whan he sih and wiste it wel,
That he be strengthe wan no del,
Thanne ate laste he caste a wyle
This worthi poeple to beguile,
And tok with hem a feigned pes,
Which scholde lasten endeles,
So as he seide in wordes wise,
Bot he thoghte al in other wise. 4380
For it betidd upon the cas,
Whan that this poeple in reste was,
Thei token eses manyfold;
And worldes ese, as it is told,
Be weie of kinde is the norrice
Of every lust which toucheth vice.
Thus whan thei were in lustes falle,
The werres ben foryeten alle;
Was non which wolde the worschipe
Of Armes, bot in idelschipe 4390
Thei putten besinesse aweie
And token hem to daunce and pleie;
Bot most above alle othre thinges
Thei token hem to the likinges
Of fleysshly lust, that chastete
Received was in no degre,
Bot every man doth what him liste.
And whan the king of Perse it wiste,
That thei unto folie entenden,
With his pouer, whan thei lest wenden, 4400
Mor sodeinly than doth the thunder
He cam, for evere and put hem under.
And thus hath lecherie lore
The lond, which hadde be tofore
The beste of hem that were tho.
And in the bible I finde also
A tale lich unto this thing,
Hou Amalech the paien king,
Whan that he myhte be no weie
Defende his lond and putte aweie 4410
The worthi poeple of Irael,
This Sarazin, as it befell,
Thurgh the conseil of Balaam
A route of faire wommen nam,
That lusti were and yonge of Age,
And bad hem gon to the lignage
Of these Hebreus: and forth thei wente
With yhen greye and browes bente
And wel arraied everych on;
And whan thei come were anon 4420
Among thebreus, was non insihte,
Bot cacche who that cacche myhte,
And ech of hem hise lustes soghte,
Whiche after thei full diere boghte.
For grace anon began to faile,
That whan thei comen to bataille
Thanne afterward, in sori plit
Thei were take and disconfit,
So that withinne a litel throwe
The myht of hem was overthrowe, 4430
That whilom were wont to stonde.
Til Phinees the cause on honde
Hath take, this vengance laste,
Bot thanne it cessede ate laste,
For god was paid of that he dede:
For wher he fond upon a stede
A couple which misferde so,
Thurghout he smot hem bothe tuo,
And let hem ligge in mennes yhe;
Wherof alle othre whiche hem sihe 4440
Ensamplede hem upon the dede,
And preiden unto the godhiede
Here olde Sennes to amende:
And he, which wolde his mercy sende,
Restorede hem to newe grace.
Thus mai it schewe in sondri place,
Of chastete hou the clennesse
Acordeth to the worthinesse
Of men of Armes overal;
Bot most of alle in special 4450
This vertu to a king belongeth,
For upon his fortune it hongeth
Of that his lond schal spede or spille.
Forthi bot if a king his wille
Fro lustes of his fleissh restreigne,
Ayein himself he makth a treigne,
Into the which if that he slyde,
Him were betre go besyde.
For every man mai understonde,
Hou for a time that it stonde, 4460
It is a sori lust to lyke,
Whos ende makth a man to syke
And torneth joies into sorwe.
The brihte Sonne be the morwe
Beschyneth noght the derke nyht,
The lusti youthe of mannes myht,
In Age bot it stonde wel,
Mistorneth al the laste whiel.
That every worthi Prince is holde
Withinne himself himself beholde, 4470
To se the stat of his persone,
And thenke hou ther be joies none
Upon this Erthe mad to laste,
And hou the fleissh schal ate laste
The lustes of this lif forsake,
Him oghte a gret ensample take
Of Salomon, whos appetit
Was holy set upon delit,
To take of wommen the plesance:
So that upon his ignorance 4480
The wyde world merveileth yit,
That he, which alle mennes wit
In thilke time hath overpassed,
With fleisshly lustes was so tassed,
That he which ladde under the lawe
The poeple of god, himself withdrawe
He hath fro god in such a wise,
That he worschipe and sacrifise
For sondri love in sondri stede
Unto the false goddes dede. 4490
This was the wise ecclesiaste,
The fame of whom schal evere laste,
That he the myhti god forsok,
Ayein the lawe whanne he tok
His wyves and his concubines
Of hem that weren Sarazines,
For whiche he dede ydolatrie.
For this I rede of his sotie:
Sche of Sidoyne so him ladde,
That he knelende his armes spradde 4500
To Astrathen with gret humblesse,
Which of hire lond was the goddesse:
And sche that was a Moabite
So ferforth made him to delite
Thurgh lust, which al his wit devoureth,
That he Chamos hire god honoureth.
An other Amonyte also
With love him hath assoted so,
Hire god Moloch that with encense
He sacreth, and doth reverence 4510
In such a wise as sche him bad.
Thus was the wiseste overlad
With blinde lustes whiche he soghte;
Bot he it afterward aboghte.
For Achias Selonites,
Which was prophete, er his decess,
Whil he was in hise lustes alle,
Betokneth what schal after falle.
For on a day, whan that he mette
Jeroboam the knyht, he grette 4520
And bad him that he scholde abyde,
To hiere what him schal betyde.
And forth withal Achias caste
His mantell of, and also faste
He kut it into pieces twelve,
Wherof tuo partz toward himselve
He kepte, and al the remenant,
As god hath set his covenant,
He tok unto Jeroboas,
Of Nabal which the Sone was, 4530
And of the kinges court a knyht:
And seide him, "Such is goddes myht,
As thou hast sen departed hiere
Mi mantell, riht in such manere
After the deth of Salomon
God hath ordeigned therupon,
This regne thanne he schal divide:
Which time thou schalt ek abide,
And upon that division
The regne as in proporcion 4540
As thou hast of mi mantell take,
Thou schalt receive, I undertake.
And thus the Sone schal abie
The lustes and the lecherie
Of him which nou his fader is."
So forto taken hiede of this,
It sit a king wel to be chaste,
For elles he mai lihtly waste
Himself and ek his regne bothe,
And that oghte every king to lothe. 4550
O, which a Senne violent,
Wherof so wys a king was schent,
That the vengance in his persone
Was noght ynouh to take al one,
Bot afterward, whan he was passed,
It hath his heritage lassed,
As I more openli tofore
The tale tolde. And thus therfore
The Philosophre upon this thing
Writ and conseileth to a king, 4560
That he the surfet of luxure
Schal tempre and reule of such mesure,
Which be to kinde sufficant
And ek to reson acordant,
So that the lustes ignorance
Be cause of no misgovernance,
Thurgh which that he be overthrowe,
As he that wol no reson knowe.
For bot a mannes wit be swerved,
Whan kinde is dueliche served, 4570
It oghte of reson to suffise;
For if it falle him otherwise,
He mai tho lustes sore drede.
For of Anthonie thus I rede,
Which of Severus was the Sone,
That he his lif of comun wone
Yaf holy unto thilke vice,
And ofte time he was so nyce,
Wherof nature hire hath compleigned
Unto the god, which hath desdeigned 4580
The werkes whiche Antonie wroghte
Of lust, whiche he ful sore aboghte:
For god his forfet hath so wroke
That in Cronique it is yit spoke.
Bot forto take remembrance
Of special misgovernance
Thurgh covoitise and injustice
Forth with the remenant of vice,
And nameliche of lecherie,
I finde write a gret partie 4590
Withinne a tale, as thou schalt hiere,
Which is thensample of this matiere.
So as these olde gestes sein,
The proude tirannyssh Romein
Tarquinus, which was thanne king
And wroghte many a wrongful thing,
Of Sones hadde manyon,
Among the whiche Arrons was on,
Lich to his fader of maneres;
So that withinne a fewe yeres 4600
With tresoun and with tirannie
Thei wonne of lond a gret partie,
And token hiede of no justice,
Which due was to here office
Upon the reule of governance;
Bot al that evere was plesance
Unto the fleisshes lust thei toke.
And fell so, that thei undertoke
A werre, which was noght achieved,
Bot ofte time it hadde hem grieved, 4610
Ayein a folk which thanne hihte
The Gabiens: and al be nyhte
This Arrons, whan he was at hom
In Rome, a prive place he nom
Withinne a chambre, and bet himselve
And made him woundes ten or tuelve
Upon the bak, as it was sene;
And so forth with hise hurtes grene
In al the haste that he may
He rod, and cam that other day 4620
Unto Gabie the Cite,
And in he wente: and whan that he
Was knowe, anon the gates schette,
The lordes alle upon him sette
With drawe swerdes upon honde.
This Arrons wolde hem noght withstonde,
Bot seide, "I am hier at your wille,
Als lief it is that ye me spille,
As if myn oghne fader dede."
And forthwith in the same stede 4630
He preide hem that thei wolde se,
And schewede hem in what degre
His fader and hise brethren bothe,
Whiche, as he seide, weren wrothe,
Him hadde beten and reviled,
For evere and out of Rome exiled.
And thus he made hem to believe,
And seide, if that he myhte achieve
His pourpos, it schal wel be yolde,
Be so that thei him helpe wolde. 4640
Whan that the lordes hadde sein
Hou wofully he was besein,
Thei token Pite of his grief;
Bot yit it was hem wonder lief
That Rome him hadde exiled so.
These Gabiens be conseil tho
Upon the goddes made him swere,
That he to hem schal trouthe bere
And strengthen hem with al his myht;
And thei also him have behiht 4650
To helpen him in his querele.
Thei schopen thanne for his hele
That he was bathed and enoignt,
Til that he was in lusti point;
And what he wolde thanne he hadde,
That he al hol the cite ladde
Riht as he wolde himself divise.
And thanne he thoghte him in what wise
He myhte his tirannie schewe;
And to his conseil tok a schrewe, 4660
Whom to his fader forth he sente
In his message, and he tho wente,
And preide his fader forto seie
Be his avis, and finde a weie,
Hou they the cite myhten winne,
Whil that he stod so wel therinne.
And whan the messager was come
To Rome, and hath in conseil nome
The king, it fell per chance so
That thei were in a gardin tho, 4670
This messager forth with the king.
And whanne he hadde told the thing
In what manere that it stod,
And that Tarquinus understod
Be the message hou that it ferde,
Anon he tok in honde a yerde,
And in the gardin as thei gon,
The lilie croppes on and on,
Wher that thei weren sprongen oute,
He smot of, as thei stode aboute, 4680
And seide unto the messager:
"Lo, this thing, which I do nou hier,
Schal ben in stede of thin ansuere;
And in this wise as I me bere,
Thou schalt unto mi Sone telle."
And he no lengere wolde duelle,
Bot tok his leve and goth withal
Unto his lord, and told him al,
Hou that his fader hadde do.
Whan Arrons herde him telle so, 4690
Anon he wiste what it mente,
And therto sette al his entente,
Til he thurgh fraude and tricherie
The Princes hefdes of Gabie
Hath smiten of, and al was wonne:
His fader cam tofore the Sonne
Into the toun with the Romeins,
And tok and slowh the citezeins
Withoute reson or pite,
That he ne spareth no degre. 4700
And for the sped of this conqueste
He let do make a riche feste
With a sollempne Sacrifise
In Phebus temple; and in this wise
Whan the Romeins assembled were,
In presence of hem alle there,
Upon thalter whan al was diht
And that the fyres were alyht,
From under thalter sodeinly
An hidous Serpent openly 4710
Cam out and hath devoured al
The Sacrifice, and ek withal
The fyres queynt, and forth anon,
So as he cam, so is he gon
Into the depe ground ayein.
And every man began to sein,
"Ha lord, what mai this signefie?"
And therupon thei preie and crie
To Phebus, that thei mihten knowe
The cause: and he the same throwe 4720
With gastly vois, that alle it herde,
The Romeins in this wise ansuerde,
And seide hou for the wikkidnesse
Of Pride and of unrihtwisnesse,
That Tarquin and his Sone hath do,
The Sacrifice is wasted so,
Which myhte noght ben acceptable
Upon such Senne abhominable.
And over that yit he hem wisseth,
And seith that which of hem ferst kisseth 4730
His moder, he schal take wrieche
Upon the wrong: and of that speche
Thei ben withinne here hertes glade,
Thogh thei outward no semblant made.
Ther was a knyht which Brutus hihte,
And he with al the haste he myhte
To grounde fell and therthe kiste,
Bot non of hem the cause wiste,
Bot wenden that he hadde sporned
Per chance, and so was overtorned. 4740
Bot Brutus al an other mente;
For he knew wel in his entente
Hou therthe of every mannes kinde
Is Moder: bot thei weren blinde,
And sihen noght so fer as he.
Bot whan thei leften the Cite
And comen hom to Rome ayein,
Thanne every man which was Romein
And moder hath, to hire he bende
And keste, and ech of hem thus wende 4750
To be the ferste upon the chance,
Of Tarquin forto do vengance,
So as thei herden Phebus sein.
Bot every time hath his certein,
So moste it nedes thanne abide,
Til afterward upon a tyde
Tarquinus made unskilfully
A werre, which was fasteby
Ayein a toun with walles stronge
Which Ardea was cleped longe, 4760
And caste a Siege theraboute,
That ther mai noman passen oute.
So it befell upon a nyht,
Arrons, which hadde his souper diht,
A part of the chivalerie
With him to soupe in compaignie
Hath bede: and whan thei comen were
And seten at the souper there,
Among here othre wordes glade
Arrons a gret spekinge made, 4770
Who hadde tho the beste wif
Of Rome: and ther began a strif,
For Arrons seith he hath the beste.
So jangle thei withoute reste,
Til ate laste on Collatin,
A worthi knyht, and was cousin
To Arrons, seide him in this wise:
"It is," quod he, "of non emprise
To speke a word, bot of the dede,
Therof it is to taken hiede. 4780
Anon forthi this same tyde
Lep on thin hors and let ous ryde:
So mai we knowe bothe tuo
Unwarli what oure wyves do,
And that schal be a trewe assay."
This Arrons seith noght ones nay:
On horse bak anon thei lepte
In such manere, and nothing slepte,
Ridende forth til that thei come
Al prively withinne Rome; 4790
In strange place and doun thei lihte,
And take a chambre, and out of sihte
Thei be desguised for a throwe,
So that no lif hem scholde knowe.
And to the paleis ferst thei soghte,
To se what thing this ladi wroghte
Of which Arrons made his avant:
And thei hire sihe of glad semblant,
Al full of merthes and of bordes;
Bot among alle hire othre wordes 4800
Sche spak noght of hire housebonde.
And whan thei hadde al understonde
Of thilke place what hem liste,
Thei gon hem forth, that non it wiste,
Beside thilke gate of bras,
Collacea which cleped was,
Wher Collatin hath his duellinge.
Ther founden thei at hom sittinge
Lucrece his wif, al environed
With wommen, whiche are abandoned 4810
To werche, and sche wroghte ek withal,
And bad hem haste, and seith, "It schal
Be for mi housebondes were,
Which with his swerd and with his spere
Lith at the Siege in gret desese.
And if it scholde him noght displese,
Nou wolde god I hadde him hiere;
For certes til that I mai hiere
Som good tidinge of his astat,
Min herte is evere upon debat. 4820
For so as alle men witnesse,
He is of such an hardiesse,
That he can noght himselve spare,
And that is al my moste care,
Whan thei the walles schulle assaile.
Bot if mi wisshes myhte availe,
I wolde it were a groundles pet,
Be so the Siege were unknet,
And I myn housebonde sihe."
With that the water in hire yhe 4830
Aros, that sche ne myhte it stoppe,
And as men sen the dew bedroppe
The leves and the floures eke,
Riht so upon hire whyte cheke
The wofull salte teres felle.
Whan Collatin hath herd hire telle
The menynge of hire trewe herte,
Anon with that to hire he sterte,
And seide, "Lo, mi goode diere,
Nou is he come to you hiere, 4840
That ye most loven, as ye sein."
And sche with goodly chiere ayein
Beclipte him in hire armes smale,
And the colour, which erst was pale,
To Beaute thanne was restored,
So that it myhte noght be mored.
The kinges Sone, which was nyh,
And of this lady herde and syh
The thinges as thei ben befalle,
The resoun of hise wittes alle 4850
Hath lost; for love upon his part
Cam thanne, and of his fyri dart
With such a wounde him hath thurghsmite,
That he mot nedes fiele and wite
Of thilke blinde maladie,
To which no cure of Surgerie
Can helpe. Bot yit natheles
At thilke time he hield his pes,
That he no contienance made,
Bot openly with wordes glade, 4860
So as he couthe in his manere,
He spak and made frendly chiere,
Til it was time forto go.
And Collatin with him also
His leve tok, so that be nyhte
With al the haste that thei myhte
Thei riden to the Siege ayein.
Bot Arrons was so wo besein
With thoghtes whiche upon him runne,
That he al be the brode Sunne 4870
To bedde goth, noght forto reste,
Bot forto thenke upon the beste
And the faireste forth withal,
That evere he syh or evere schal,
So as him thoghte in his corage,
Where he pourtreieth hire ymage:
Ferst the fetures of hir face,
In which nature hadde alle grace
Of wommanly beaute beset,
So that it myhte noght be bet; 4880
And hou hir yelwe her was tresced
And hire atir so wel adresced,
And hou sche spak, and hou sche wroghte,
And hou sche wepte, al this he thoghte,
That he foryeten hath no del,
Bot al it liketh him so wel,
That in the word nor in the dede
Hire lacketh noght of wommanhiede.
And thus this tirannysshe knyht
Was soupled, bot noght half ariht, 4890
For he non other hiede tok,
Bot that he myhte be som crok,
Althogh it were ayein hire wille,
The lustes of his fleissh fulfille;
Which love was noght resonable,
For where honour is remuable,
It oghte wel to ben avised.
Bot he, which hath his lust assised
With melled love and tirannie,
Hath founde upon his tricherie 4900
A weie which he thenkth to holde,
And seith, "Fortune unto the bolde
Is favorable forto helpe."
And thus withinne himself to yelpe,
As he which was a wylde man,
Upon his treson he began:
And up he sterte, and forth he wente
On horsebak, bot his entente
Ther knew no wiht, and thus he nam
The nexte weie, til he cam 4910
Unto Collacea the gate
Of Rome, and it was somdiel late,
Riht evene upon the Sonne set,
As he which hadde schape his net
Hire innocence to betrappe.
And as it scholde tho mishappe,
Als priveliche as evere he myhte
He rod, and of his hors alyhte
Tofore Collatines In,
And al frendliche he goth him in, 4920
As he that was cousin of house.
And sche, which is the goode spouse,
Lucrece, whan that sche him sih,
With goodli chiere drowh him nyh,
As sche which al honour supposeth,
And him, so as sche dar, opposeth
Hou it stod of hire housebonde.
And he tho dede hire understonde
With tales feigned in his wise,
Riht as he wolde himself devise, 4930
Wherof he myhte hire herte glade,
That sche the betre chiere made,
Whan sche the glade wordes herde,
Hou that hire housebonde ferde.
And thus the trouthe was deceived
With slih tresoun, which was received
To hire which mente alle goode;
For as the festes thanne stode,
His Souper was ryht wel arraied.
Bot yit he hath no word assaied 4940
To speke of love in no degre;
Bot with covert subtilite
His frendly speches he affaiteth,
And as the Tigre his time awaiteth
In hope forto cacche his preie.
Whan that the bordes were aweie
And thei have souped in the halle,
He seith that slep is on him falle,
And preith he moste go to bedde;
And sche with alle haste spedde, 4950
So as hire thoghte it was to done,
That every thing was redi sone.
Sche broghte him to his chambre tho

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