The Tale of Melibee
An Interlinear Translation
The Middle English text is from Larry D. Benson., Gen. ed., The Riverside Chaucer,
Houghton-Mifflin Company; used with permission of the publisher.
Because the lineation of the editions (which follow the manuscript in the division into lines), the interlinear translation is at times quite awkward and for some readers perhaps even distracting. Such readers may therefore prefer a translation without the original; for that translation click here.
Heere bigynneth Chaucers Tale of Melibee
967 A yong man called Melibeus, myghty and riche, bigat upon his wyf, that called was Prudence,
A young man called Melibeus, mighty and rich, begot upon his wife, who was called Prudence,
967A a doghter which that called was Sophie.
a daughter who was called Sophie.
968 Upon a day bifel that he for his desport is went into the feeldes hym to pleye.
Upon one day it happened that he for his pleasure went into the fields to amuse himself.
969 His wyf and eek his doghter hath he left inwith his hous, of which the dores weren faste yshette.
His wife and also his daughter has he left within his house of which the doors were tightly shut.
970 Thre of his olde foes han it espyed, and setten laddres to the walles of his hous,
Three of his old foes have seen this, and set ladders to the walls of his house,
970A and by wyndowes been entred,
and by windows have entered,
971 and betten his wyf, and wounded his doghter with fyve mortal woundes in fyve sondry places --
and beat his wife, and wounded his daughter with five mortal wounds in five different places --
972 this is to seyn, in hir feet, in hire handes, in hir erys, in hir nose,
this is to say, in her feet, in her hands, in her ears, in her nose,
972A and in hire mouth -- and leften hire for deed, and wenten awey.
and in her mouth -- and left her for dead, and went away.
973 Whan Melibeus retourned was into his hous, and saugh al this meschief, he,
When Melibeus had returned into his house, and saw all this mischief, he,
973A lyk a mad man rentynge his clothes, gan to wepe and crie.
like a mad man tearing his clothes, began to weep and cry.
974 Prudence, his wyf, as ferforth as she dorste, bisoghte hym of his wepyng for to stynte,
Prudence, his wife, insofar as she dared, besought him to stop his weeping.
975 but nat forthy he gan to crie and wepen evere lenger the moore.
but nevertheless he began to cry and the longer he wept the more he wept.
976 This noble wyf Prudence remembred hire upon the sentence of Ovide, in his book
This noble wife Prudence remembered the saying of Ovid, in his book
976A that cleped is the Remedie of Love, where as he seith,
that is called the Remedy of Love, where he says
977 "He is a fool that destourbeth the mooder to wepen in the deeth of hire child
"He is a fool that stops the mother from weeping on the death of her child
977A til she have wept hir fille as for a certein tyme,
until she has wept her fill as for a certain time,
978 and thanne shal man doon his diligence with amyable wordes hire to reconforte,
and then shall one do his best efforts with amiable words to comfort her,
978A and preyen hire of hir wepyng for to stynte."
and pray her of her weeping to stint."
979 For which resoun this noble wyf Prudence suffred hir housbonde
For which reason this noble wife Prudence allowed her husband
979A for to wepe and crie as for a certein space,
to weep and cry as for a certain amount of time,
980 and whan she saugh hir tyme, she seyde hym in this wise:
and when she saw her opportunity, she said to him in this manner:
980A "Allas, my lord," quod she, "why make ye youreself for to be lyk a fool?
"Alas, my lord," said she, "why do you make yourself to be like a fool?
981 For sothe it aperteneth nat to a wys man to maken swich a sorwe.
For truly it does not befit a wise man to make such a sorrow.
982 Youre doghter, with the grace of God, shal warisshe and escape.
Your daughter, with the grace of God, shall recover and escape.
983 And, al were it so that she right now were deed,
And, even if it were so that she right now were dead,
983A ye ne oughte nat, as for hir deeth, youreself to destroye.
you ought not, for her death, to destroy yourself.
984 Senek seith: `The wise man shal nat take to greet disconfort for the deeth of his children,
Seneca says: `The wise man shall not take too great discomfort for the death of his children,
985 but, certes, he sholde suffren it in pacience
but, certainly, he should suffer it in patience
985A as wel as he abideth the deeth of his owene propre persone.'"
as well as he abides the death of his own self.'"
986 This Melibeus answerde anon and seyde, "What man," quod he, "sholde of his wepyng stente
This Melibeus answered immediately and said, "What man," said he, "should stint of his weeping
986A that hath so greet a cause for to wepe?
who has such a good reason to weep?
987 Jhesu Crist, oure Lord, hymself wepte for the deeth of Lazarus hys freend."
Jesus Christ, our Lord, himself wept for the death of Lazarus his friend."
988 Prudence answerde: "Certes, wel I woot attempree wepyng is no thyng deffended to hym that sorweful is,
Prudence answered: "Certainly, I know well that moderate weeping is in no way forbidden to him who is sorrowful,
988A amonges folk in sorwe, but it is rather graunted hym to wepe.
amongst folk in sorrow, but it is rather granted to him to weep.
989 The Apostle Paul unto the Romayns writeth, `Man shal rejoyse
The Apostle Paul unto the Romans writes, `One shall rejoice
989A with hem that maken joye and wepen with swich folk as wepen.'
with those who make joy and weep with such folk as weep.'
990 But though attempree wepyng be ygraunted, outrageous wepyng certes is deffended.
But though moderate weeping is granted, excessive weeping certainly is forbidden.
991 Mesure of wepyng sholde be considered after the loore that techeth us Senek:
Moderation in weeping should be considered in the light of the lore that Seneca teaches us:
992 `Whan that thy frend is deed,' quod he, `lat nat thyne eyen to moyste been of teeris,
`When thy friend is dead,' said he, `let not thine eyes be too moist of tears,
992A ne to muche drye; although the teeris come to thyne eyen, lat hem nat falle;
nor too much dry; although the tears come to thine eyes, let them not fall;
993 and whan thou hast forgoon thy freend, do diligence to gete another freend;
and when thou hast lost thy friend, make an effort to get another friend;
993A and this is moore wysdom than for to wepe for thy freend
and this is more wisdom than to weep for thy friend
993B which that thou hast lorn, for therinne is no boote.'
whom thou hast lost, for therein is no remedy.'
994 And therfore, if ye governe yow by sapience, put awey sorwe out of youre herte.
And therefore, if you govern yourself by wisdom, put away sorrow out of your heart.
995 Remembre yow that Jhesus Syrak seith, `A man that is joyous and glad in herte,
Remember you that Jesus son of Sirach says, `A man that is joyous and glad in heart,
995A it hym conserveth florissynge in his age; but soothly sorweful herte maketh his bones drye.'
it conserves him flourishing in his age; but truly sorrowful heart makes his bones dry.'
996 He seith eek thus, that sorwe in herte sleeth ful many a man.
He says also thus, that sorrow in heart slays very many a man.
997 Salomon seith that right as motthes in the shepes flees anoyeth to the clothes,
Solomon says that just as moths in the sheep's fleece do harm to the clothes,
997A and the smale wormes to the tree, right so anoyeth sorwe to the herte.
and the small worms to the tree, just so sorrow does harm to the heart.
998 Wherfore us oghte, as wel in the deeth of oure children
Wherefore we should, as well in the death of our children
998A as in the los of oure othere goodes temporels, have pacience.
as in the loss of our other earthly goods, have patience.
999 Remembre yow upon the pacient Job. Whan he hadde lost his children and his temporeel substance,
Remember the patient Job. When he had lost his children and his earthly property,
999A and in his body endured and receyved ful many a grevous tribulacion, yet seyde he thus:
and in his body endured and received very many a grievous tribulation, yet said he thus:
1000 `Oure Lord hath yeve it me; oure Lord hath biraft it me; right as oure Lord hath wold,
`Our Lord has given it to me; our Lord hath taken it from me; just as our Lord wished,
1000A right so it is doon; blessed be the name of oure Lord!'"
just so it is done; blessed be the name of our Lord!'"
1001 To thise forseide thynges answerde Melibeus unto his wyf Prudence: "Alle thy wordes," quod he,
To these foresaid things answered Melibeus unto his wife Prudence: "All thy words," said he,
1001A "been sothe and therto profitable, but trewely myn herte is troubled with this sorwe
"are true and furthermore beneficial, but truly my heart is troubled with this sorrow
1001B so grevously that I noot what to doone."
so grievously that I know not what to do."
1002 "Lat calle," quod Prudence, "thy trewe freendes alle and thy lynage whiche that been wise. Telleth youre cas,
"Have summoned," said Prudence, "all thy true friends and of thy family those that are wise. Tell your case,
1002A and herkneth what they seye in conseillyng, and yow governe after hire sentence.
and hearken what they say in advising, and govern yourself according to their advice."
1003 Salomon seith, `Werk alle thy thynges by conseil, and thou shalt never repente.'"
Solomon says, `Do all thy business by taking advice, and thou shalt never repent.'"
1004 Thanne, by the conseil of his wyf Prudence, this Melibeus leet callen a greet congregacion of folk,
Then, by the advice of his wife Prudence, this Melibeus had called up a great congregation of folk,
1005 as surgiens, phisiciens, olde folk and yonge, and somme of his olde enemys reconsiled
such as surgeons, physicians, old folk and young, and some of his old enemies reconciled
1005A as by hir semblaunt to his love and into his grace;
(as it seemed by their appearance) to his love and into his grace;
1006 and therwithal ther coomen somme of his neighebores that diden hym reverence
and therewithal there came some of his neighbors that did him reverence
1006A moore for drede than for love, as it happeth ofte.
more for dread than for love, as it often happens.
1007 Ther coomen also ful many subtille flatereres and wise advocatz lerned in the lawe.
There came also very many subtle flatterers and wise advocates learned in the law.
1008 And whan this folk togidre assembled weren, this Melibeus in sorweful wise shewed hem his cas.
And when this folk were assembled together, this Melibeus in sorrowful manner showed them his case.
1009 And by the manere of his speche it semed that in herte he baar a crueel ire,
And by the manner of his speech it seemed that in heart he bore a cruel anger,
1009A redy to doon vengeaunce upon his foes, and sodeynly desired that the werre sholde bigynne;
ready to do vengeance upon his foes, and desired that the war should begin very soon;
1010 but nathelees, yet axed he hire conseil upon this matiere.
but nevertheless, yet he asked their advice upon this matter.
1011 A surgien, by licence and assent of swiche as weren wise, up roos
A surgeon, by permission and assent of such as were wise, stood up
1011A and to Melibeus seyde as ye may heere:
and to Melibeus said as you can hear:
1012 "Sire," quod he, "as to us surgiens aperteneth that we do to every wight the beste that we kan,
"Sir," said he, "as to us surgeons it is our duty that we do to every person the best that we can,
1012A where as we been withholde, and to oure pacientz that we do no damage,
where we are employed, and to our patients that we do no damage,
1013 wherfore it happeth many tyme and ofte that whan twey men han everich wounded oother,
because of which it happens many times and often that when two men have each one wounded the other,
1013A oon same surgien heeleth hem bothe;
one same surgeon heals them both;
1014 wherfore unto oure art it is nat pertinent to norice werre ne parties to supporte.
therefore unto our art it is not fitting to nourish war nor to support warring factions.
1015 But certes, as to the warisshynge of youre doghter, al be it so that she perilously be wounded,
But certainly, as to the curing of your daughter, although it be so that she is perilously wounded,
1015A we shullen do so ententif bisynesse fro day to nyght that with the grace of God
we shall do such diligent work from day to night that with the grace of God
1015B she shal be hool and sound as soone as is possible."
she shall be whole and sound as soon as is possible."
1016 Almoost right in the same wise the phisiciens answerden, save that they seyden a fewe woordes moore:
Almost in just the same way the physicians answered, save that they said a few words more:
1017 that right as maladies been cured by hir contraries, right so shul men warisshe werre by vengeaunce.
that just as maladies are cured by their contraries, just so shall men cure war by vengeance.
1018 His neighebores ful of envye, his feyned freendes that semeden reconsiled, and his flatereres
His neighbors full of envy, his feigned friends that seemed reconciled, and his flatterers
1019 maden semblant of wepyng, and empeireden and agreggeden muchel of this matiere in preisynge
made an outward show of weeping, and worsened and much aggravated this matter in praising
1019A greetly Melibee of myght, of power, of richesse, and of freendes, despisynge the power of his adversaries,
greatly Melibee of might, of power, of riches, and of friends, despising the power of his adversaries,
1020 and seiden outrely that he anon sholde wreken hym on his foes and bigynne werre.
and said flatly that he immediately should avenge himself on his foes and begin war.
1021 Up roos thanne an advocat that was wys,
Up rose then an advocate that was wise,
1021A by leve and by conseil of othere that were wise, and seide:
by leave and by advice of others that were wise, and said:
1022 "Lordynges, the nede for which we been assembled in this place
"Gentlemen, the urgent matter for which we are assembled in this place
1022A is a ful hevy thyng and an heigh matiere,
is a very serious thing and an important matter,
1023 by cause of the wrong and of the wikkednesse that hath be doon,
because of the wrong and of the wickedness that has been done,
1023A and eek by resoun of the grete damages that in tyme comynge
and also by reason of the great damages that in time coming
1023B been possible to fallen for this same cause,
are possible to befall for this same cause,
1024 and eek by resoun of the grete richesse and power of the parties bothe,
and also because of the great riches and power of both the parties,
1025 for the whiche resouns it were a ful greet peril to erren in this matiere.
for the which reasons it would be a very great peril to err in this matter.
1026 Wherfore, Melibeus, this is oure sentence: we conseille yow aboven alle thyng
Wherefore, Melibeus, this is our opinion: we advise you above all things
1026A that right anon thou do thy diligence in kepynge of thy propre persone in swich a wise
that right away thou do thy best efforts in keeping of thy own self in such a way
1026B that thou ne wante noon espie ne wacche thy persone for to save.
that thou not lack any spy nor guard in order to save thy person.
1027 And after that, we conseille that in thyn hous thou sette sufficeant garnisoun
And after that, we advise that in thy house thou set sufficient garrison
1027A so that they may as wel thy body as thyn hous defende.
so that they can defend as well thy body as thy house.
1028 But certes, for to moeve werre, ne sodeynly for to doon vengeaunce, we may nat demen
But certainly, to begin war, or suddenly to do vengeance, we can not decide
1028A in so litel tyme that it were profitable.
in so little time that it would be to our advantage.
1029 Wherfore we axen leyser and espace to have deliberacion in this cas to deme.
Therefore we ask leisure and opportunity to have deliberation in this case to judge.
1030 For the commune proverbe seith thus: `He that soone deemeth, soone shal repente.'
For the common proverb says thus: `He that soon judges, soon shall repent.'
1031 And eek men seyn that thilke juge is wys that soone understondeth a matiere and juggeth by leyser;
And also men say that that judge is wise fhat soon understands a matter and judges at leisure;
1032 for al be it so that alle tariyng be anoyful,
for although it be so that all tarrying is bothersome,
1032A algates it is nat to repreve in yevynge of juggement ne in vengeance takyng,
it is not always to be reproved in giving of judgment nor in vengeance taking,
1032B whan it is sufficeant and resonable.
when it is sufficient and reasonable.
1033 And that shewed oure Lord Jhesu Crist by ensample, for whan that the womman that was taken in avowtrie
And that showed our Lord Jesus Christ by example, for when the woman that was taken in adultery
1033A was broght in his presence to knowen what sholde be doon with hire persone, al be it so that
was brought in his presence to know what should be done with her person, although it be so that
1033B he wiste wel hymself what that he wolde answere, yet ne wolde he nat answere sodeynly,
he knew well hmself what he would answer, yet he would not answer suddenly,
1033C but he wolde have deliberacion, and in the ground he wroot twies.
but he would have deliberation, and in the ground he wrote twice.
1034 And by thise causes we axen deliberacioun, and we shal thanne, by the grace of God, conseille thee
And by these causes we ask time for deliberation, and we shall then, by the grace of God, advise thee
1034A thyng that shal be profitable."
something that shall be beneficial."
1035 Up stirten thanne the yonge folk atones, and the mooste partie of that compaignye han scorned this olde wise
Up jumped then the young folk at once, and the most part of that company have scorned this old wise man
1035A man, and bigonnen to make noyse, and seyden that
man, and began to make noise, and said that
1036 right so as whil that iren is hoot men sholden smyte,
just so as while that iron is hot men should smite,
1036A right so men sholde wreken hir wronges whil that they been fresshe and newe;
just so men should avenge their wrongs while they are fresh and new;
1036B and with loud voys they criden "Werre! Werre!"
and with loud voice they cried "War! War!"
1037 Up roos tho oon of thise olde wise, and with his hand made contenaunce that
Up rose then one of these old wise men, and with his hand made signal that
1037A men sholde holden hem stille and yeven hym audience.
men should hold themselves still and give him audience.
1038 "Lordynges," quod he, "ther is ful many a man that crieth `Werre, werre!'
"Gentlemen," said he, "there is very many a man that cries `War, war!'
1038A that woot ful litel what werre amounteth.
who knows very little what war amounts to.
1039 Werre at his bigynnyng hath so greet an entryng and so large that every wight may entre
War at its beginning has so big an entryway and so large that every person may enter
1039A whan hym liketh and lightly fynde werre;
when he pleases and easily find war;
1040 but certes what ende that shal therof bifalle, it is nat light to knowe.
but certainly what end that shall consequently befall, it is not easy to know.
1041 For soothly, whan that werre is ones bigonne, ther is ful many a child unborn of his mooder
For truly, when war is once begun, there is very many a child unborn of his mother
1041A that shal sterve yong by cause of thilke werre, or elles lyve in sorwe and dye in wrecchednesse.
that shall die young because of that same war, or else live in sorrow and die in wretchedness.
1042 And therfore, er that any werre bigynne, men moste have greet conseil and greet deliberacion."
And therefore, ere any war begin, men must have much advice and much deliberation."
1043 And whan this olde man wende to enforcen his tale by resons, wel ny alle atones bigonne they
And when this old man intended to reinforce his argument by reasons, well nigh all at once they began
1043A to rise for to breken his tale, and beden hym ful ofte his wordes for to abregge.
to rise to interrupt his speech, and very often prayed him to abridge his argument.
1044 For soothly, he that precheth to hem that listen nat heeren his wordes, his sermon hem anoieth.
For truly, he who preaches to those who do not want to hear his words, his sermon annoys them.
1045 For Jhesus Syrak seith that "musik in wepynge is a noyous thyng"; this is to seyn:
For Jesus son of Sirach says that "music in weeping is an annoying thing"; this is to say:
1045A as muche availleth to speken bifore folk to which his speche anoyeth
it as much avails to speak before folk whom his speech annoys
1045B as it is to synge biforn hym that wepeth.
as it is to sing before him who weeps.
1046 And whan this wise man saugh that hym wanted audience, al shamefast he sette hym doun agayn.
And when this wise man saw that he lacked an audience, all shame-fast he set himself down again.
1047 For Salomon seith: "Ther as thou ne mayst have noon audience, enforce thee nat to speke."
For Solomon says: "Where thou can not have any audience, force thyself not to speak."
1048 "I see wel," quod this wise man, "that the commune proverbe is sooth, that
"I see well," said this wise man, "that the common proverb is true, that
1048A `good conseil wanteth whan it is moost nede.'"
`good advice is lacking when it is most needed.'"
1049 Yet hadde this Melibeus in his conseil many folk that prively in his eere conseilled hym certeyn thyng,
Yet had this Melibeus among his advisors many folk that secretly in his ear advised him on certain matters,
1049A and conseilled hym the contrarie in general audience.
and advised him the contrary in the hearing of all.
1050 Whan Melibeus hadde herd that the gretteste partie of his conseil weren accorded that he sholde maken werre,
When Melibeus had heard that the greatest part of his advisors were agreed that he should make war,
1050A anoon he consented to hir conseillyng and fully affermed hire sentence.
immediately he consented to their advice and fully affirmed their opinion.
1051 Thanne dame Prudence, whan that she saugh how that hir housbonde shoop hym for to wreken hym on his
Then dame Prudence, when she saw how her husband prepared himself to avenge himself on his
1051A foes and to bigynne werre, she in ful humble wise, whan she saugh hir tyme, seide to hym thise wordes:
foes and to begin war, she in very humble manner, when she saw her time, said to him these words:
1052 "My lord," quod she, "I yow biseche, as hertely as I dar and kan,
"My lord," said she, "I beseech you, as heartily as I dare and can,
1052A ne haste yow nat to faste and, for alle gerdons, as yeveth me audience.
do not hasten yourself too fast and, as you hope to prosper, give me a hearing.
1053 For Piers Alfonce seith, `Whoso that dooth to thee oother good or harm, haste thee nat to quiten it,
For Petrus Alphonsus says, `Whoever does to thee either good or harm, hasten thee not to requite it,
1053A for in this wise thy freend wole abyde and thyn enemy shal the lenger lyve in drede.'
for in this manner thy friend will abide and thine enemy shall the longer live in dread.'
1054 The proverbe seith, `He hasteth wel that wisely kan abyde,' and `in wikked haste is no profit.'"
The proverb says, `He hastens well that wisely can abide,' and `in wicked haste is no benefit.'"
1055 This Melibee answerde unto his wyf Prudence: "I purpose nat," quod he, "to werke by thy conseil,
This Melibee answered unto his wife Prudence: "I do not intend," said he, "to work according to thy advice,
1055A for many causes and resouns. For certes, every wight wolde holde me thanne a fool;
for many causes and reasons. For certainly, every person would hold me then a fool;
1056 this is to seyn, if I, for thy conseillyng, wolde chaungen
this is to say, if I, for thy advice, would change
1056A thynges that been ordeyned and affermed by so manye wyse.
things that are ordained and affirmed by so many wise men.
1057 Secoundely, I seye that alle wommen been wikke, and noon good of hem alle.
Secondly, I say that all women are wicked, and not one good of them all.
1057A For `of a thousand men,' seith Salomon, `I foond o good man, but certes,
For `of a thousand men,' says Solomon, `I found one good man, but certainly,
1057B of alle wommen, good womman foond I nevere.'
of all women, a good woman found I never.'
1058 And also, certes, if I governed me by thy conseil,
And also, certainly, if I governed myself according to thy advice,
1058A it sholde seme that I hadde yeve to thee over me the maistrie,
it should seem that I had given to thee the mastery over me,
1058B and God forbede that it so weere!
and God forbid that it were so!
1059 For Jhesus Syrak seith that `if the wyf have maistrie, she is contrarious to hir housbonde.'
For Jesus son of Sirach says that `if the wife have mastery, she is contrary to her husband.'
1060 And Salomon seith: `Nevere in thy lyf to thy wyf, ne to thy child, ne to thy freend
And Solomon says: `Never in thy life to thy wife, nor to thy child, nor to thy friend
1060A ne yeve no power over thyself, for bettre it were that thy children
give any power over thyself, for it would be better that thy children
1060B aske of thy persone thynges that hem nedeth than thou see thyself
ask of thy person things that they need than that thou see thyself
1060C in the handes of thy children.'
in the hands of thy children.'
1061 And also if I wolde werke by thy conseillyng, certes, my conseil moste som tyme be secree,
And also if I would work according to thy advice, certainly, my counsel must some times be secret,
1061A til it were tyme that it moste be knowe, and this ne may noght be.
until it were time that it must be known, and this may not be.
1064 Whanne dame Prudence, ful debonairly and with greet pacience, hadde herd al that hir housbonde
When dame Prudence, very debonairly and with great patience, had heard all that her husband
1064A liked for to seye, thanne axed she of hym licence for to speke, and seyde in this wise:
was pleased to say, then she asked of him permission to speak, and said in this manner:
1065 "My lord," quod she, "as to youre firste resoun, certes it may lightly been answered. For I seye that
"My lord," said she, "as to your first reason, certainly it may easily be answered. For I say that
1065A it is no folie to chaunge conseil whan the thyng is chaunged,
it is no folly to change one's plans when the situation is changed,
1065B or elles whan the thyng semeth ootherweyes than it was biforn.
or else when the matter seems other than it was before.
1066 And mooreover, I seye that though ye han sworn and bihight to perfourne
And moreover, I say that though you have sworn and promised to accomplish
1066A   youre emprise, and nathelees ye weyve
your undertaking, and nevertheless you abandon
1066B to perfourne thilke same emprise by juste cause, men sholde nat seyn therfore that ye were a liere ne forsworn.
performing that same undertaking for a good reason, men should not say therefore that you are a liar nor forsworn.
1067 For the book seith that `the wise man maketh no lesyng whan he turneth his corage to the bettre.'
For the book says that `the wise man tells no lie when he turns his inclination to the better.'
1068 And al be it so that youre emprise be establissed and ordeyned by greet multitude of folk,
And although it be so that your undertaking is established and decided upon by a great multitude of folk,
1068A yet thar ye nat accomplice thilke ordinaunce but yow like.
yet you need not carry out that plan unless you want to.
1069 For the trouthe of thynges and the profit been rather founden in fewe folk that been wise and
For the truth of things and the benefit are rather found in few folk that are wise and
1069A ful of resoun than by greet multitude of folk ther every man crieth and clatereth what that hym liketh.
full of reason than by a great multitude of folk where every man cries and babbles what he pleases.
1069B Soothly swich multitude is nat honest.
Truly such a multitude is not honorable.
1070 And as to the seconde resoun, where as ye seyn that alle wommen been wikke;
And as to the second reason, where you say that all women are wicked;
1070A save youre grace, certes ye despisen alle wommen in this wyse, and
with all due respect to you, certainly you despise all women in this manner, and
1070B `he that al despiseth, al displeseth,' as seith the book.
`he who despises all, displeases all,' as says the book.
1071 And Senec seith that `whoso wole have sapience shal no man dispreyse,
And Seneca says that `whosoever will have wisdom shall no man disparage,
1071A but he shal gladly techen the science that he kan withouten presumpcion or pride;
but he shall gladly teach the knowledge that he knows without presumption or pride;
1072 and swiche thynges as he noght ne kan, he shal nat been ashamed to lerne hem,
and such things of which he knows nothing, he should not be ashamed to learn them,
1072A and enquere of lasse folk than hymself.'
and ask for advice from lesser folk than himself.'
1073 And, sire, that ther hath been many a good womman may lightly be preved.
And, sir, that there has been many a good woman may easily be proven.
1074 For certes, sire, oure Lord Jhesu Crist wolde nevere have descended to be born of a womman,
For certainly, sir, our Lord Jesus Christ would never have condescended to be born of a woman,
1074A if alle wommen hadden been wikke.
if all women had been wicked.
1075 And after that, for the grete bountee that is in wommen,
And after that, for the great goodness that is in women,
1075A oure Lord Jhesu Crist, whan he was risen fro deeth to lyve,
our Lord Jesus Christ, when he was risen from death to life,
1075B appeered rather to a womman than to his Apostles.
appeared to a woman rather than to his Apostles.
1076 And though that Salomon seith that he ne foond nevere womman good,
And though Solomon says that he never found a good woman,
1076A it folweth nat therfore that alle wommen ben wikke.
it follows not therefore that all women are wicked.
1077 For though that he ne foond no good womman, certes,
For though he found no good woman, certainly,
1077A many another man hath founden many a womman ful good and trewe.
many another man has found many a woman very good and true.
1078 Or elles, per aventure, the entente of Salomon was this:
Or else, possibly, the intent of Solomon was this:
1078A that, as in sovereyn bounte, he foond no womman --
that, in supreme goodness, he found no woman --
1079 this is to seyn, that ther is no wight that hath sovereyn bountee save God allone,
this is to say, that there is no creature who has supreme goodness save God alone,
1079A as he hymself recordeth in hys Evaungelie.
as he himself records in his Gospels.
1080 For ther nys no creature so good that hym ne wanteth
For there is no creature so good that he does not lack
1080A somwhat of the perfeccioun of God, that is his makere.
something of the perfection of God, who is his maker.
1081 Youre thridde reson is this: ye seyn that if ye governe yow by my conseil,
Your third reason is this: you say that if you govern yourself by my advice,
1081A it sholde seme that ye hadde yeve me the maistrie and the lordshipe over youre persone.
it should seem that you had given me the mastery and the lordship over your person.
1082 Sire, save youre grace, it is nat so. For if it so were that no man sholde be conseilled
Sir, with all due respect to you, it is not so. For if it were true that no man should be advised
1082A but oonly of hem that hadden lordshipe and maistrie of his persone, men wolden nat be conseilled so ofte.
but only of them that had lordship and mastery of his person, men would not be advised so often.
1083 For soothly thilke man that asketh conseil of a purpos, yet hath he free choys
For truly that man who asks advice about a plan, yet has free choice
1083A wheither he wole werke by that conseil or noon.
whether he will follow by that advice or non.
1084 And as to youre fourthe resoun, ther ye seyn that the janglerie of wommen kan hyde thynges that they
And as to your fourth reason, where you say that the gossip of women can hide things that they
1084A wot noght, as who seith that a womman kan nat hyde that she woot;
know not, as who says that a woman can not hide what she knows;
1085 sire, thise wordes been understonde of wommen that been jangleresses and wikked;
sir, these words are understood of women that are gossips and wicked;
1086 of whiche wommen men seyn that thre thynges dryven a man out of his hous --
of which women men say that three things drive a man out of his house --
1086A that is to seyn, smoke, droppyng of reyn, and wikked wyves;
that is to say, smoke, dropping of rain, and wicked wives;
1087 and of swiche wommen seith Salomon that
and of such women says Solomon that
1087A `it were bettre dwelle in desert than with a womman that is riotous.'
`it were better dwell in desert than with a woman that is dissolute.'
1088 And sire, by youre leve, that am nat I,
And sir, by your leave, that am not I,
1089 for ye han ful ofte assayed my grete silence and my grete pacience, and eek how wel that
for you have very often tested my great silence and my great patience, and also how well that
1089A I kan hyde and hele thynges that men oghte secreely to hyde.
I can hide and conceal things that men ought secretly to hide.
1090 And soothly, as to youre fifthe resoun, where as ye seyn that in wikked conseil wommen venquisshe men,
And truly, as to your fifth reason, where you say that in wicked advice women vanquish men,
1090A God woot, thilke resoun stant heere in no stede.
God knows, that reason has no value here.
1091 For understoond now, ye asken conseil to do wikkednesse;
For understand now, you ask advice to do wickedness;
1092 and if ye wole werken wikkednesse, and youre wif restreyneth thilke wikked purpos,
and if you will do wickedness, and your wife restrains that wicked purpose,
1092A and overcometh yow by reson and by good conseil,
and overcomes you by reason and by good advice,
1093 certes youre wyf oghte rather to be preised than yblamed.
certainly your wife ought rather to be praised than blamed.
1094 Thus sholde ye understonde the philosophre that seith, `In wikked conseil wommen venquisshen hir housbondes.'
Thus should you understand the philosopher that says, `In wicked advice women vanquish their husbands.'
1095 And ther as ye blamen alle wommen and hir resouns, I shal shewe yow by manye ensamples that
And whereas you blame all women and their reasons, I shall show you by many examples that
1095A many a womman hath ben ful good, and yet been, and hir conseils ful hoolsome and profitable.
many a woman has been very good, and yet are, and their advices very wholesome and beneficial.
1096 Eek som men han seyd that the conseillynge of wommen
Also some men have said that the counsel of women
1096A is outher to deere or elles to litel of pris.
is either too expensive or else too little of price.
1097 But al be it so that ful many a womman is badde and hir conseil vile and noght worth,
But although it be so that very many a woman is bad and her advice vile and not worthy,
1097A yet han men founde ful many a good womman, and ful discret and wis in conseillynge.
yet have men found very many a good woman, and very discrete and wise in giving counsel.
1098 Loo, Jacob by good conseil of his mooder Rebekka wan the benysoun of Ysaak his fader
Lo, Jacob by the good advice of his mother Rebecca won the blessing of Isaac his fader
1098A and the lordshipe over alle his bretheren.
and the lordship over all his brethren.
1099 Judith by hire good conseil delivered the citee of Bethulie, in which she dwelled,
Judith by her good advice delivered the city of Bethulia, in which she dwelled,
1099A out of the handes of Olofernus, that hadde it biseged and wolde have al destroyed it.
out of the hands of Holofernus, who had besieged it and would have entirely destroyed it.
1100 Abygail delivered Nabal hir housbonde fro David the kyng, that wolde have slayn hym,
Abigail delivered Nabal her husband from David the king, who would have slain him,
1100A and apaysed the ire of the kyng by hir wit and by hir good conseillyng.
and appeased the anger of the king by her wit and by her good advice.
1101 Hester by hir good conseil enhaunced greetly the peple of God in the regne of Assuerus the kyng.
Hester by her good counsel advanced greatly the people of God in the reign of Assuerus the king.
1102 And the same bountee in good conseillyng of many a good womman may men telle.
And the same goodness in good advising of many a good woman may men tell.
1103 And mooreover, whan oure Lord hadde creat Adam, oure forme fader, he seyde in this wise:
And moreover, when our Lord had created Adam, our forefather, he said in this manner:
1104 `It is nat good to been a man alloone; make we to hym an helpe semblable to hymself.'
`It is not good to be a man alone; let us make for him a helpmate similar to himself.'
1105 Heere may ye se that if that wommen were nat goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable,
Here may you see that if women were not good, and their advice good and beneficial,
1106 oure Lord God of hevene wolde nevere han wroght hem,
our Lord God of heaven would never have made them,
1106A ne called hem help of man, but rather confusioun of man.
nor called them help of man, but rather confusion of man.
1107 And ther seyde oones a clerk in two vers, `What is bettre than gold? Jaspre.
And there said once a clerk in two verses, `What is better than gold? Jasper.
1107A What is bettre than jaspre? Wisedoom.
What is better than jasper? Wisdom.
1108 And what is better than wisedoom? Womman. And what is bettre than a good womman? Nothyng.'
And what is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing.'
1109 And, sire, by manye of othre resons may ye seen that
And, sir, by many other reasons may you see that
1109A manye wommen been goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable.
many women are good, and their advice good and beneficial.
1110 And therfore, sire, if ye wol triste to my conseil, I shal restoore yow youre doghter hool and sound.
And therefore, sir, if you will trust to my advice, I shall restore you your daughter whole and sound.
1111 And eek I wol do to yow so muche that ye shul have honour in this cause."
And also I will do for you so much that you shall have honor in this undertaking."
1112 Whan Melibee hadde herd the wordes of his wyf Prudence, he seyde thus:
When Melibee had heard the words of his wife Prudence, he said thus:
1113 "I se wel that the word of Salomon is sooth.
"I see well that the word of Solomon is sooth.
1113A He seith that `wordes that been spoken discreetly by ordinaunce been honycombes,
He says that `words that are spoken discretely and properly are honeycombs,
1113B for they yeven swetnesse to the soule and hoolsomnesse to the body.'
for they give sweetness to the soul and healthfulness to the body.'
1114 And, wyf, by cause of thy sweete wordes, and eek for I have assayed and preved thy grete sapience
And, wife, because of thy sweet words, and also because I have tested and proven thy great wisdom
1114A and thy grete trouthe, I wol governe me by thy conseil in alle thyng."
and thy great truth, I will govern myself by thy advice in all things."
1115 "Now, sire," quod dame Prudence, "and syn ye vouche sauf to been governed by my conseil,
"Now, sir," said dame Prudence, "and since you consent to be governed by my advice,
1115A I wol enforme yow how ye shul governe yourself in chesynge of youre conseillours.
I will inform you how you shall govern yourself in the choice of your advisors.
1116 Ye shul first in alle youre werkes mekely biseken to the heighe God that he wol be youre conseillour;
You shall first in all your works meekly beseech the high God that he will be your advisor;
1117 and shapeth yow to swich entente that he yeve yow conseil and confort, as taughte Thobie his sone:
and prepare yourself with the aim that he give you advice and comfort, as Tobias taught his son:
1118 `At alle tymes thou shalt blesse God, and praye hym to dresse thy weyes,
`At all times thou shalt bless God, and pray him to prepare thy ways,
1118A and looke that alle thy conseils been in hym for everemoore.'
and look that all thy counsels are in him for evermore.'
1119 Seint Jame eek seith: `If any of yow have nede of sapience, axe it of God.'
Saint James also says: `If any of you have need of wisdom, ask it of God.'
1120 And afterward thanne shul ye taken conseil in youreself,
And afterward then shall you take advice in yourself,
1120A and examyne wel youre thoghtes of swich thyng as yow thynketh that is best for youre profit.
and examine well your thoughts of such thing as it seems to you best for your advantage.
1121 And thanne shul ye dryve fro youre herte thre thynges that been contrariouse to good conseil;
And then shall you drive from your heart three things that are contrary to good advice;
1122 that is to seyn, ire, coveitise, and hastifnesse.
that is to say, anger, greed, and haste.
1123 "First, he that axeth conseil of hymself, certes he moste been withouten ire, for manye causes.
"First, he who asks advice of himself, certainly he must be without anger, for many reasons.
1124 The firste is this: he that hath greet ire and wratthe in hymself, he weneth alwey that
The first is this: he who has great anger and wrath in himself, he supposes always that
1124A he may do thyng that he may nat do.
he can do a thing that he can not do.
1125 And secoundely, he that is irous and wrooth, he ne may nat wel deme;
And secondly, he who is angry and wrathful, he can not well judge;
1126 and he that may nat wel deme, may nat wel conseille.
and he who can not well judge, can not well advise.
1127 The thridde is this, that he that is irous and wrooth, as seith Senec,
The third is this, that he that is angry and wrathful, as says Seneca,
1127A ne may nat speke but blameful thynges,
can not speak anything but blameworthy things,
1128 and with his viciouse wordes he stireth oother folk to angre and to ire.
and with his vicious words he stirs other folk to anger and to ire.
1129 And eek, sire, ye moste dryve coveitise out of youre herte.
And also, sir, you must drive greed out of your heart.
1130 For the Apostle seith that coveitise is roote of alle harmes.
For the Apostle says that greed is root of all harms.
1131 And trust wel that a coveitous man ne kan noght deme ne thynke,
And trust well that a greedy man can neither judge nor think anything,
1131A but oonly to fulfille the ende of his coveitise;
except only to fulfill the object of his greed;
1132 and certes, that ne may nevere been accompliced,
and certainly, that can never be accomplished,
1132A for evere the moore habundaunce that he hath of richesse, the moore he desireth.
for always the more abundance that he has of riches, the more he desires.
1133 And, sire, ye moste also dryve out of youre herte hastifnesse; for certes,
And, sir, you must also drive out of your heart haste; for certainly,
1134 ye ne may nat deeme for the beste by a sodeyn thought that falleth in youre herte,
you can not judge for the best by a sudden thought that falls in your heart,
1134A but ye moste avyse yow on it ful ofte.
but you must reflect upon it very often.
1135 For, as ye herde her biforn, the commune proverbe is this, that `he that soone deemeth, soone repenteth.'
For, as you heard before this, the common proverb is this, that `he who soon judges, soon repents.'
1136 Sire, ye ne be nat alwey in lyk disposicioun;
Sir, you are not always in the same frame of mind;
1137 for certes, somthyng that somtyme semeth to yow that it is good for to do,
for certainly, something that sometimes seems to you that it is good to do,
1137A another tyme it semeth to yow the contrarie.
another time it seems to you the contrary.
1138 "Whan ye han taken conseil in youreself and han deemed by good deliberacion swich thyng as you semeth best,
"When you have pondered the matter and have judged by good deliberation such thing as seems best to you,
1139 thanne rede I yow that ye kepe it secree.
then I advise you that you keep it secret.
1140 Biwrey nat youre conseil to no persone, but if so be that ye wenen sikerly that
Reveal your plans to no person, but if it so be that you believe truly
1140A thurgh youre biwreyyng youre condicioun shal be to yow the moore profitable.
through your revealing your condition shall be to you the more advantageous.
1141 For Jhesus Syrak seith, `Neither to thy foo ne to thy frend discovere nat thy secree ne thy folie,
For Jesus son of Sirach says, `Neither to thy foe nor to thy friend discover not thy secret nor thy folly,
1142 for they wol yeve yow audience and lookynge and supportacioun in thy presence and scorne thee in thyn absence.'
for they will give you audience and attention and support in thy presence and scorn thee in thine absence.'
1143 Another clerk seith that `scarsly shaltou fynden any persone that may kepe conseil secrely.'
Another clerk says that `scarcely shalt thou find any person that can keep plans secretly.'
1144 The book seith, `Whil that thou kepest thy conseil in thyn herte, thou kepest it in thy prisoun,
The book says, `While thou keepest thy plan in thine heart, thou keepest it in thy prison,
1145 and whan thou biwreyest thy conseil to any wight, he holdeth thee in his snare.'
and when thou reveal thy plans to any person, he holds thee in his snare.'
1146 And therfore yow is bettre to hyde youre conseil in youre herte than praye him
And therefore for you it is better to hide your plans in your heart than pray him
1146A to whom ye han biwreyed youre conseil that he wole kepen it cloos and stille.
to whom you have revealed your plans that he will keep it close and still.
1147 For Seneca seith: `If so be that thou ne mayst nat thyn owene conseil hyde,
For Seneca says: `If it so be that thou can not hide thine own plans,
1147A how darstou prayen any oother wight thy conseil secrely to kepe?'
how dare thou pray any other person to keep thy advice secretly?'
1148 But nathelees, if thou wene sikerly that the biwreiyng of thy conseil to a persone wol make
But nevertheless, if thou believe truly that the revealing of thy plans to a person will make
1148A thy condicion to stonden in the bettre plyt, thanne shaltou tellen hym thy conseil in this wise.
thy condition stand in the better condition, then shalt thou tell him thy plans in this manner.
1149 First thou shalt make no semblant wheither thee were levere pees or werre, or this or that,
First thou shalt make no outward sign whether thou would prefer peace or war, or this or that,
1149A ne shewe hym nat thy wille and thyn entente.
nor show him not thy will and thine intent.
1150 For trust wel that comunli thise conseillours been flatereres,
For trust well that commonly these advisors are flatterers,
1151 namely the conseillours of grete lordes,
namely the advisors of great lords,
1152 for they enforcen hem alwey rather to speken plesante wordes, enclynynge to the lordes lust,
for they force themselves always rather to speak pleasant words, inclining to the lord's desire,
1152A than wordes that been trewe or profitable.
than words that are true or beneficial.
1153 And therfore men seyn that the riche man hath seeld good conseil, but if he have it of hymself.
And therefore men say that the rich man has seldom good advice, unless he have it of himself.
1154 And after that thou shalt considere thy freendes and thyne enemys.
And after that thou shalt consider thy friends and thine enemies.
1155 And as touchynge thy freendes, thou shalt considere which of hem been
And as concerning thy friends, thou shalt consider which of them are
1155A moost feithful and moost wise and eldest and most approved in conseillyng;
most faithful and most wise and eldest and most proven in giving advice;
1156 and of hem shalt thou aske thy conseil, as the caas requireth.
and of them shalt thou ask thy advice, as the case requires.
1157 I seye that first ye shul clepe to youre conseil youre freendes that been trewe.
I say that first you shall call to your council your friends that are true.
1158 For Salomon seith that `right as the herte of a man deliteth in savour that is soote,
For Solomon says that `just as the heart of a man delights in taste that is sweet,
1158A right so the conseil of trewe freendes yeveth swetnesse to the soule.'
just so the advice of true friends gives sweetness to the soul.'
1159 He seith also, `Ther may no thyng be likned to the trewe freend,
He says also, `Nothing can be compared to a true friend,
1160 for certes gold ne silver ben nat so muche worth as the goode wyl of a trewe freend.'
for certainly gold nor silver are not worth so much as the good will of a true friend.'
1161 And eek he seith that `a trewe freend is a strong deffense; who so that it fyndeth,
And also he says that `a true friend is a strong defense; whoever finds it,
1161A certes he fyndeth a greet tresour.'
certainly he finds a great treasure.'
1162 Thanne shul ye eek considere if that youre trewe freendes been discrete and wise.
Then shall you also consider whether your true friends are discrete and wise.
1162A For the book seith, `Axe alwey thy conseil of hem that been wise.'
For the book says, `Ask always thy advice of those who are wise.'
1163 And by this same resoun shul ye clepen to youre conseil of youre freendes that been of age,
And by this same reason shall you call to your council some of your friends that are of suitably advanced age,
1163A swiche as han seyn and been expert in manye thynges and been approved in conseillynges.
such as have seen and are expert in many things and are proven in giving advice.
1164 For the book seith that `in olde men is the sapience, and in longe tyme the prudence.'
For the book says that `in old men is the wisdom, and in long time the prudence.
1165 And Tullius seith that `grete thynges ne been nat ay accompliced by strengthe, ne by delivernesse of body, but
And Cicero says that `great things are not always accomplished by strength, nor by agility of body, but
1165A by good conseil, by auctoritee of persones, and by science; the whiche thre thynges ne been nat fieble by age,
by good advice, by a person's power to persuade, and by knowledge; the which three things are not enfeebled by age,
1165B but certes they enforcen and encreescen day by day.'
but certainly they gain strength and increase day by day.'
1166 And thanne shul ye kepe this for a general reule: First shul ye clepen to youre conseil
And then shall you keep this for a general rule: First you shall call to your council
1166A a fewe of youre freendes that been especiale;
a few of your friends who are particularly esteemed;
1167 for Salomon seith, `Manye freendes have thou, but among a thousand chese thee oon to be thy conseillour.'
for Solomon says, `Many friends have thou, but among a thousand chose thyself one to be thy advisor.'
1168 For al be it so that thou first ne telle thy conseil but to a fewe,
For although it be so that thou first tell thy advice only to a few,
1168A thou mayst afterward telle it to mo folk if it be nede.
thou mayst afterward tell it to more folk if it be needed.
1169 But looke alwey that thy conseillours have thilke thre condiciouns that I have seyd bifore --
But look always that thy advisors have those three conditions that I have said before --
1169A that is to seyn, that they be trewe, wise, and of oold experience.
that is to say, that they are true, wise, and of old experience.
1170 And werke nat alwey in every nede by oon counseillour allone;
And work not always in every need by one advisor alone;
1170A for somtyme bihooveth it to been conseilled by manye.
for sometimes it is necessary to be advised by many.
1171 For Salomon seith, `Salvacion of thynges is where as ther been manye conseillours.'
For Solomon says, `Salvation of things is where there are many advisors.'
1172 "Now, sith that I have toold yow of which folk ye sholde been counseilled, now
"Now, since I have told you of which folk you should be advised, now
1172A wol I teche yow which conseil ye oghte to eschewe.
I will teach you which advice you ought to shun.
1173 First, ye shul eschue the conseillyng of fooles; for Salomon seith, `Taak no conseil of a fool,
First, you shall shun the advice of fools; for Solomon says, `Take no counsel of a fool,
1173A for he ne kan noght conseille but after his owene lust and his affeccioun.'
for he can not advise except in accordance with his own desire and his inclination.'
1174 The book seith that `the propretee of a fool is this: he troweth lightly harm of every wight,
The book says that `the characteristic of a fool is this: he easily believes harm of every person,
1174A and lightly troweth alle bountee in hymself.'
and easily believes all goodness in himself.'
1175 Thou shalt eek eschue the conseillyng of alle flatereres, swiche as enforcen hem rather to preise youre persone
Thou shalt also shun the advice of all flatterers, such as exert themselves rather to praise your person
1175A by flaterye than for to telle yow the soothfastnesse of thynges.
by flattery than to tell you the truth of things.
1176 Wherfore Tullius seith, `Amonges alle the pestilences that been in freendshipe the gretteste is flaterie.'
Wherefore Cicero says, `Amongst all the pestilences that are in friendship the greatest is flattery.'
1176A And therfore is it moore nede that thou eschue and drede flatereres than any oother peple.
And therefore is it more needful that thou shun and dread flatterers than any other people.
1177 The book seith, `Thou shalt rather drede and flee fro the sweete wordes of flaterynge preiseres
The book says, `Thou shalt rather dread and flee from the sweet words of flattering praisers
1177A than fro the egre wordes of thy freend that seith thee thy sothes.'
than from the sharp words of thy friend who tells thee thy truths.'
1178 Salomon seith that `the wordes of a flaterere is a snare to cacche with innocentz.'
Solomon says that `the words of a flatterer is a snare with which to catch innocents.'
1179 He seith also that `he that speketh to his freend wordes of swetnesse and of plesaunce
He says also that `he who speaks to his friend words of sweetness and of pleasance
1179A setteth a net biforn his feet to cacche hym.'
sets a net before his feet to catch him.'
1180 And therfore seith Tullius, `Enclyne nat thyne eres to flatereres, ne taak no conseil of the wordes of flaterye.'
And therefore says Cicero, `Incline not thine ears to flatterers, and take no advice of the words of flattery.'
1181 And Caton seith, `Avyse thee wel, and eschue the wordes of swetnesse and of plesaunce.'
And Cato says, `Ponder thee well, and shun the words of sweetness and of pleasance.'
1182 And eek thou shalt eschue the conseillyng of thyne olde enemys that been reconsiled.
And also thou shalt shun the advice of thine old enemies that are reconciled.
1183 The book seith that `no wight retourneth saufly into the grace of his olde enemy.'
The book says that `no person returns safely into the good will of his old enemy.'
1184 And Isope seith, `Ne trust nat to hem to whiche thou hast had som tyme werre or enemytee,
And Aesop says, `Trust not to those with whom thou hast had at some time war or enmity,
1184A ne telle hem nat thy conseil.'
nor tell them not thy plans.'
1185 And Seneca telleth the cause why: `It may nat be,' seith he, `that where greet
And Seneca tells the reason why: `It may not be,' says he, `that where great
1185A fyr hath longe tyme endured, that ther ne dwelleth som vapour of warmnesse.'
fire has long time endured, but that there dwells some vapor of warmness.'
1186 And therfore seith Salomon, `In thyn olde foo trust nevere.'
And therefore says Solomon, `In thine old foe trust never.'
1187 For sikerly, though thyn enemy be reconsiled, and maketh thee chiere of humylitee,
For surely, though thine enemy be reconciled, and makes thee the appearance of humility,
1187A and lowteth to thee with his heed, ne trust hym nevere.
and bows to thee with his head, trust him never.
1188 For certes he maketh thilke feyned humilitee moore for his profit than for any love of thy persone,
For certainly he makes that feigned humility more for his advantage than for any love of thy person,
1188A by cause that he deemeth to have victorie over thy persone by swich feyned contenance,
because he supposes to have victory over thy person by such feigned behavior,
1188B the which victorie he myghte nat have by strif or werre.
the which victory he might not have by strife or war.
1189 And Peter Alfonce seith, `Make no felawshipe with thyne olde enemys, for if thou do hem bountee,
And Petrus Alphnsus says, `Make no fellowship with thine old enemies, for if thou do them goodness,
1189A they wol perverten it into wikkednesse.'
they will pervert it into wickedness.'
1190 And eek thou most eschue the conseillyng of hem that been thy servantz and beren thee greet reverence,
And also thou most shun the advice of those who are thy servants and bear thee great reverence,
1190A for peraventure they seyn it moore for drede than for love.
for perhaps they say it more for dread than for love.
1191 And therfore seith a philosophre in this wise:
And therefore says a philosopher in this manner:
1191A `Ther is no wight parfitly trewe to hym that he to soore dredeth.'
`There is no person perfectly true to him whom he too sorely dreads.'
1192 And Tullius seith, `Ther nys no myght so greet of any emperour that longe may endure,
And Cicero says, `There is no might so great of any emperor that long may endure,
1192A but if he have moore love of the peple than drede.'
unless he has more love of the people than dread.'
1193 Thou shalt also eschue the conseiling of folk that been dronkelewe, for they ne kan no conseil hyde.
Thou shalt also shun the advice of folk that are drunkards, for they nor can hide no plans.
1194 For Salomon seith, `Ther is no privetee ther as regneth dronkenesse.'
For Solomon says, `There is no secrecy where drunkenness reigns.'
1195 Ye shul also han in suspect the conseillyng of swich folk as
You shall also be suspicious of the advice of such folk as
1195A conseille yow o thyng prively and conseille yow the contrarie openly.
advise you one thing privately and counsel you the contrary openly.
1196 For Cassidorie seith that `it is a manere sleighte to hyndre,
For Cassiodorus says that `it is a difficult task to hinder a scheme,
1196A whan he sheweth to doon o thyng openly and werketh prively the contrarie.'
when a person appears to do one thing openly and secretly works the contrary.'
1197 Thou shalt also have in suspect the conseillyng of wikked folk. For the book seith,
Thou shalt also be suspicious of the advice of wicked folk. For the book says,
1197A `The conseillyng of wikked folk is alwey ful of fraude.'
`The advice of wicked folk is always full of fraud.'
1198 And David seith, `Blisful is that man that hath nat folwed the conseilyng of shrewes.'
And David says, `Blissful is that man who has not followed the advice of scoundrels.'
1199 Thou shalt also eschue the conseillyng of yong folk, for hir conseil is nat rype.
Thou shalt also shun the advice of young folk, for their counsel is not ripe.
1200 "Now, sire, sith I have shewed yow of which folk ye shul take youre conseil
"Now, sir, since I have showed you of which folk you shall take your advice
1200A and of which folk ye shul folwe the conseil,
and of which folk you shall follow the advice,
1201 now wol I teche yow how ye shal examyne youre conseil, after the doctrine of Tullius.
now will I teach you how you shall examine your advice, according to the doctrine of Cicero.
1202 In the examynynge thanne of youre conseillour ye shul considere manye thynges.
In the examining then of your advisor you shall consider many things .
1203 Alderfirst thou shalt considere that in thilke thyng that thou purposest, and upon what thyng thou wolt have conseil,
First of all thou shalt consider that in that thing that thou intendest, and upon which thing thou will have advice,
1203A that verray trouthe be seyd and conserved; this is to seyn, telle trewely thy tale.
that real truth be said and preserved; this is to say, tell truly thy tale.
1204 For he that seith fals may nat wel be conseilled in that cas of which he lieth.
For he that speaks falsely may not well be advised in that case of which he lies.
1205 And after this thou shalt considere the thynges that acorden to that thou purposest
And after this thou shalt consider the things that agree with that thou intendest
1205A for to do by thy conseillours, if resoun accorde therto,
for to act as thy advisors advise, if reason accord thereto,
1206 and eek if thy myght may atteine therto, and if the moore part
and also if thy might can attain thereto, and if the larger part
1206A and the bettre part of thy conseillours acorde therto, or noon.
and the better part of thy advisors accord thereto, or not.
1207 Thanne shaltou considere what thyng shal folwe of that conseillyng,
Then shalt thou consider what thing shall follow from that advice,
1207A as hate, pees, werre, grace, profit, or damage, and manye othere thynges.
as hate, peace, war, grace, profit, or damage, and many other things.
1208 And in alle thise thynges thou shalt chese the beste and weyve alle othere thynges.
And in all these things thou shalt chose the best and abandon all other things .
1209 Thanne shaltow considere of what roote is engendred the matiere of thy conseil
Then shalt thou consider of what root is engendered the matter of thy advice
1209A and what fruyt it may conceyve and engendre.
and what fruit it may conceive and engender.
1210 Thou shalt eek considere alle thise causes, fro whennes they been sprongen.
Thou shalt also consider all these causes, from whence they are sprung.
1211 And whan ye han examyned youre conseil, as I have seyd, and which partie is the bettre
And when you have examined your advice, as I have said, and (decided) which part is the better
1211A and moore profitable, and han approved it by manye wise folk and olde,
and more beneficial, and have tested it by many wise and old folk,
1212 thanne shaltou considere if thou mayst parfourne it and maken of it a good ende.
then shalt thou consider if thou can perform it and make of it a good end.
1213 For certes resoun wol nat that any man sholde bigynne a thyng
For certainly reason will not desire that any man should begin a thing
1213A but if he myghte parfourne it as hym oghte;
unless he might perform it as he ought to;
1214 ne no wight sholde take upon hym so hevy a charge that he myghte nat bere it.
nor no person should take upon him so heavy a charge that he might not bear it.
1215 For the proverbe seith, `He that to muche embraceth, distreyneth litel.'
For the proverb says, `He who too much embraces, keeps little.'
1216 And Catoun seith, `Assay to do swich thyng as thou hast power to doon,
And Cato says, `Try to do such thing as thou hast power to do,
1216A lest that the charge oppresse thee so soore that
lest that the charge oppress thee so sorely that
1216B thee bihoveth to weyve thyng that thou hast bigonne.'
thou art compelled to abandon an undertaking that thou hast begun.'
1217 And if so be that thou be in doute wheither thou mayst parfourne a thing or noon,
And if it so be that thou art in doubt about whether thou can perform a thing or not,
1217A chese rather to suffre than bigynne.
choose rather to suffer than begin.
1218 And Piers Alphonce seith, `If thou hast myght to doon a thyng of which thou most repente,
And Petrus Alphonsus says, `If thou hast might to do a thing of which thou must repent,
1218A it is bettre "nay" than "ye."'
it is better "nay" than "yea."'
1219 This is to seyn, that thee is bettre holde thy tonge stille than for to speke.
This is to say, that for thee it is better hold thy tongue still than to speak.
1220 Thanne may ye understonde by strenger resons that if thou hast power to parfourne a werk
Then may you understand by stronger reasons that if thou hast power to perform a work
1220A of which thou shalt repente, thanne is it bettre that thou suffre than bigynne.
of which thou shalt repent, then is it better that thou suffer than begin.
1221 Wel seyn they that defenden every wight to assaye a thyng of which he is in doute
Well say they who forbid every person to attempt a thing of which he is in doubt
1221A wheither he may parfourne it or noon.
whether he can perform it or not.
1222 And after, whan ye han examyned youre conseil, as I have seyd biforn, and knowen wel that
And after, when you have examined your advice, as I have said before, and know well that
1222A ye may parfourne youre emprise, conferme it thanne sadly til it be at an ende.
you can perform your enterprise, prosecute it then diligently until it be at an end.
1223 "Now is it resoun and tyme that I shewe yow whanne and wherfore that
"Now is it reasonable and time that I show you when and wherefore that
1223A ye may chaunge youre counseil withouten youre repreve.
you may change your plans without earning dishonor.
1224 Soothly, a man may chaungen his purpos and his conseil if the cause cesseth,
Truly, a man may change his purpose and his plans if the cause ceases,
1224A or whan a newe caas bitydeth.
or when a new case befalls.
1225 For the lawe seith that `upon thynges that newely bityden bihoveth newe conseil.'
For the law says that `things that newly befall require new plans.'
1226 And Senec seith, `If thy conseil is comen to the eeris of thyn enemy, chaunge thy conseil.'
And Seneca says, `If thy plan is come to the ears of thine enemy, change thy plan.'
1227 Thou mayst also chaunge thy conseil if so be that thou fynde that by errour,
Thou mayst also change thy plan if it so be that thou find that by error,
1227A or by oother cause, harm or damage may bityde.
or by other cause, harm or damage may befall.
1228 Also if thy conseil be dishonest, or ellis cometh of dishonest cause, chaunge thy conseil.
Also if thy plan be unjust, or else comes of dishonest cause, change thy plan.
1229 For the lawes seyn that `alle bihestes that been dishoneste been of no value';
For the laws say that `all promises that are dishonest are of no value';
1230 and eek if so be that it be inpossible, or may nat goodly be parfourned or kept.
and also if it so be that it is impossible, or can not goodly be performed or kept.
1231 "And take this for a general reule, that every conseil that is affermed so strongly that it may nat
"And take this for a general rule, that every plan that is affirmed so strongly that it may not
1231A be chaunged for no condicioun that may bityde, I seye that thilke conseil is wikked."
be changed for any condition that may befall, I say that that plan is wicked."
1232 This Melibeus, whanne he hadde herd the doctrine of his wyf dame Prudence, answerde in this wyse:
This Melibeus, when he had heard the doctrine of his wife dame Prudence, answered in this wise:
1233 "Dame," quod he, "as yet into this tyme ye han wel and covenably taught me as in general how
"Dame," said he, "as yet until this time you have well and fittingly taught me as in general how
1233A I shal governe me in the chesynge and in the withholdynge of my conseillours.
I should govern myself in the choice and in the retention of my advisors.
1234 But now wolde I fayn that ye wolde condescende in especial
But now would I eagerly desire that you would get down to particulars
1235 and telle me how liketh yow, or what semeth yow, by oure conseillours
and tell me how you like it, or what it seems to you, concerning our advisors
1235A that we han chosen in oure present nede."
that we have chosen in our present need."
1236 "My lord," quod she, "I biseke yow in al humblesse that ye wol nat wilfully replie agayn my resouns,
"My lord," said she, "I beseech you in all humility that you will not willfully reply against my arguments,
1236A ne distempre youre herte, thogh I speke thyng that yow displese.
nor upset your heart, though I speak something that may displease you.
1237 For God woot that, as in myn entente, I speke it for youre beste,
For God knows that, in my intent, I speak it for your best,
1237A for youre honour, and for youre profite eke.
for your honor, and for your benefit also.
1238 And soothly, I hope that youre benyngnytee wol taken it in pacience.
And truly, I hope that your benignity will take it in patience.
1239 Trusteth me wel," quod she, "that youre conseil as in this caas ne sholde nat, as to speke properly,
Trust me well," said she, "that your advice in this case should not, to speak properly,
1239A be called a conseillyng, but a mocioun or a moevyng of folye,
be called an advising, but a motion or a moving of folly,
1240 in which conseil ye han erred in many a sondry wise.
in which advice you have erred in many a different way.
1241 "First and forward, ye han erred in th' assemblynge of youre conseillours.
"First of all, you have erred in the assembling of your advisors.
1242 For ye sholde first have cleped a fewe folk to youre conseil, and after ye myghte han shewed it
For you should first have called a few folk to your council, and after you might have showed it
1242A to mo folk, if it hadde been nede.
to more folk, if it had been necessary.
1243 But certes, ye han sodeynly cleped to youre conseil a greet multitude of peple,
But certainly, you have suddenly called to your council a great multitude of people,
1243A ful chargeant and ful anoyous for to heere.
very burdensome and very annoying to hear.
1244 Also ye han erred, for theras ye sholden oonly have cleped to youre conseil
Also you have erred, for whereas you should only have called to your council
1244A youre trewe frendes olde and wise,
your true friends old and wise,
1245 ye han ycleped straunge folk, yonge folk, false flatereres, and enemys reconsiled,
you have called foreign folk, young folk, false flatterers, and enemies reconciled,
1245A and folk that doon yow reverence withouten love.
and folk who do you reverence without love.
1246 And eek also ye have erred, for ye han broght with yow to youre conseil ire, coveitise, and hastifnesse,
And also you have erred, for you have brought with you to your council anger, greed, and haste,
1247 the whiche thre thinges been contrariouse to every conseil honest and profitable;
the which three things are contrary to every council honorable and beneficial;
1248 the whiche thre thinges ye han nat anientissed or destroyed hem,
the which three things you have not annihilated or destroyed them,
1248A neither in youreself, ne in youre conseillours, as yow oghte.
neither in yourself, nor in your advisors, as you ought.
1249 Ye han erred also, for ye han shewed to youre conseillours
You have erred also, for you have shown to your advisors
1249A youre talent and youre affeccioun to make werre anon and for to do vengeance.
your desire and your inclination to make war immediately and to do vengeance.
1250 They han espied by youre wordes to what thyng ye been enclyned;
They have espied by your words to what thing you are inclined;
1251 and therfore han they rather conseilled yow to youre talent than to youre profit.
and therefore have they advised you rather to your inclination than to your advantage.
1252 Ye han erred also, for it semeth that yow suffiseth
You have erred also, for it seems that to you it suffices
1252A to han been conseilled by thise conseillours oonly, and with litel avys,
to have been advised by these counselors only, and with little consultation,
1253 whereas in so greet and so heigh a nede it hadde been necessarie mo conseillours
whereas in so great and so urgent a situation it had been necessary to have more advisors
1253A and moore deliberacion to parfourne youre emprise.
and more deliberation to perform your undertaking.
1254 Ye han erred also, for ye ne han nat examyned youre conseil in the forseyde manere,
You have erred also, for you have not examined your advice in the foresaid manner,
1254A ne in due manere, as the caas requireth.
nor in suitable manner, as the case requires.
1255 Ye han erred also, for ye han maked no division bitwixe youre conseillours -- this is to seyn,
You have erred also, for you have made no division between your advisors -- this is to say,
1255A bitwixen youre trewe freendes and youre feyned conseillours --
between your true friends and your feigned advisors --
1256 ne ye han nat knowe the wil of youre trewe freendes olde and wise,
and you have not known the will of your true friends old and wise,
1257 but ye han cast alle hire wordes in an hochepot, and enclyned youre herte to the moore part
but you have cast all their words in an hodgepodge, and inclined your heart to the larger part
1257A and to the gretter nombre, and there been ye condescended.
and to the greater number, and to that you are yielded.
1258 And sith ye woot wel that men shal alwey fynde a gretter nombre of fooles than of wise men,
And since you know well that men shall always find a greater number of fools than of wise men,
1259 and therfore the conseils that been at congregaciouns and multitudes of folk, there as men take moore reward
and therefore the counsels that are at gatherings and multitudes of folk, where men pay more attention
1259A to the nombre than to the sapience of persones,
to the number than to the wisdom of persons,
1260 ye se wel that in swiche conseillynges fooles han the maistrie."
you see well that in such councils fools have the mastery."
1261 Melibeus answerde agayn, and seyde, "I graunte wel that I have erred;
Melibeus answered again, and said, "I grant well that I have erred;
1262 but there as thou hast toold me heerbiforn
but whereas thou hast told me before now
1262A that he nys nat to blame that chaungeth his conseillours in certein caas and for certeine juste causes,
that he is not to blame who changes his advisors in certain cases and for certain just causes,
1263 I am al redy to chaunge my conseillours right as thow wolt devyse.
I am all ready to change my advisors just as thou will devise.
1264 The proverbe seith that `for to do synne is mannyssh,
The proverb says that `to do sin is human,
1264A but certes for to persevere longe in synne is werk of the devel.'"
but certainly to persevere long in sin is work of the devil.'"
1265 To this sentence answered anon dame Prudence, and seyde,
To this sentence answered immediately dame Prudence, and said,
1266 "Examineth," quod she, "youre conseil, and lat us see
"Examine," said she, "your counsel, and let us see
1266A the whiche of hem han spoken most resonably and taught yow best conseil.
the which of them have spoken most reasonably and taught you best advice.
1267 And for as muche as that the examynacion is necessarie, lat us bigynne at the surgiens
And forasmuch as the examination is necessary, let us begin at the surgeons
1267A and at the phisiciens, that first speeken in this matiere.
and at the physicians, who first spoke in this matter.
1268 I sey yow that the surgiens and phisiciens han seyd yow in youre conseil discreetly, as hem oughte,
I tell you that the surgeons and physicians have spoken to you in counselling you discretely, as they ought,
1269 and in hir speche seyden ful wisely that to the office of hem aperteneth to doon to every wight
and in their speech said very wisely that to their office it pertains to do to every person
1269A honour and profit, and no wight for to anoye,
honor and profit, and no person to harm,
1270 and after hir craft to doon greet diligence
and in accordance with their craft to do great diligence
1270A unto the cure of hem which that they han in hir governaunce.
unto the care of those that they have in their governance.
1271 And, sire, right as they han answered wisely and discreetly,
And, sir, just as they have answered wisely and discretely,
1272 right so rede I that they been heighly and sovereynly gerdoned for hir noble speche,
just so I deduce that they are highly and chiefly rewarded for their noble speech,
1273 and eek for they sholde do the moore ententif bisynesse in the curacion of youre doghter deere.
and also for they should do the more diligent effort in the care of your dear daughter.
1274 For al be it so that they been youre freendes, therfore shal ye nat suffren
For although it be so that they are your friends, therefore shall you not allow
1274A that they serve yow for noght,
that they serve you for naught,
1275 but ye oghte the rather gerdone hem and shewe hem youre largesse.
but you ought the rather to reward them and show them your generosity.
1276 And as touchynge the proposicioun which that the phisiciens encreesceden in this caas -- this is to seyn,
And as touching the theory that the physicians developed in this case -- this is to say,
1277 that in maladies that oon contrarie is warisshed by another contrarie --
that in maladies that one contrary is cured by another contrary --
1278 I wolde fayn knowe hou ye understonde thilke text, and what is youre sentence."
I would be eager to know how you understand that text, and what is your interpretation."
1279 "Certes," quod Melibeus, "I understonde it in this wise:
"Certainly," said Melibeus, "I understand it in this way:
1280 that right as they han doon me a contrarie, right so sholde I doon hem another.
that just as they have done me a contrary, right so should I do them another.
1281 For right as they han venged hem on me and doon me wrong,
For just as they have avenged themselves on me and done me wrong,
1281A right so shal I venge me upon hem and doon hem wrong;
just so shall I avenge myself upon them and do them wrong;
1282 and thanne have I cured oon contrarie by another."
and then have I cured one contrary by another."
1283 "Lo, lo," quod dame Prudence, "how lightly is every man enclined to his owene desir
"Lo, lo," said dame Prudence, "how easily is every man inclined to his own desire
1283A and to his owene plesaunce!
and to his own pleasure!
1284 Certes," quod she, "the wordes of the phisiciens ne sholde nat han been understonden in thys wise.
Certainly," said she, "the words of the physicians should not have been understood in this way.
1285 For certes, wikkednesse is nat contrarie to wikkednesse, ne vengeance to vengeaunce,
For certainly, wickedness is not contrary to wickedness, nor vengeance to vengeance,
1285A ne wrong to wrong, but they been semblable.
nor wrong to wrong, but they are similar.
1286 And therfore o vengeaunce is nat warisshed by another vengeaunce, ne o wroong by another wroong,
And therefore one vengeance is not cured by another vengeance, nor one wrong by another wrong,
1287 but everich of hem encreesceth and aggreggeth oother.
but each of them increases and aggravates the other.
1288 But certes, the wordes of the phisiciens sholde been understonden in this wise:
But certainly, the words of the physicians should be understood in this way:
1289 for good and wikkednesse been two contraries, and pees and werre, vengeaunce
for good and wickedness are two contraries, and peace and war, vengeance
1289A and suffraunce, discord and accord, and manye othere thynges;
and forbearance, discord and accord, and many other things ;
1290 but certes, wikkednesse shal be warisshed by goodnesse, discord by accord, werre by pees,
but certainly, wickedness must be cured by goodness, discord by accord, war by peace,
1290A and so forth of othere thynges.
and so forth of other things .
1291 And heerto accordeth Seint Paul the Apostle in manye places.
And to this Saint Paul the Apostle agrees in many places.
1292 He seith, `Ne yeldeth nat harm for harm, ne wikked speche for wikked speche,
He says, `Yield not harm for harm, nor wicked speech for wicked speech,
1293 but do wel to hym that dooth thee harm and blesse hym that seith to thee harm.'
but do well to him that does thee harm and bless him that says to thee harm.'
1294 And in manye othere places he amonesteth pees and accord.
And in many other places he recommends peace and accord.
1295 But now wol I speke to yow of the conseil which that was yeven to yow
But now will I speak to you of the advice which was given to you
1295A by the men of lawe and the wise folk,
by the men of law and the wise folk,
1296 that seyden alle by oon accord, as ye han herd bifore,
who said all by unanimous agreement, as you have heard before,
1297 that over alle thynges ye shal doon youre diligence to kepen youre persone and to warnestoore youre hous;
that over all things you shall do your best effort to guard your person and to garrison your house;
1298 and seyden also that in this caas yow oghten for to werken ful avysely and with greet deliberacioun.
and said also that in this case you ought to work very advisedly and with great deliberation.
1299 And, sire, as to the firste point, that toucheth to the kepyng of youre persone,
And, sir, as to the first point, that touches on the keeping of your person,
1300 ye shul understonde that he that hath werre shal everemoore mekely and devoutly preyen, biforn alle thynges,
you shall understand that he who has war shall evermore meekly and devoutly pray, before all things,
1301 that Jhesus Crist of his mercy wol han hym in his proteccion
that Jesus Christ of his mercy will have him in his protection
1301A and been his sovereyn helpyng at his nede.
and be his best help at his need.
1302 For certes, in this world ther is no wight that may be conseilled ne kept sufficeantly
For certainly, in this world there is no person that can be advised nor guarded sufficiently
1302A withouten the kepyng of oure Lord Jhesu Crist.
without the protection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1303 To this sentence accordeth the prophete David, that seith,
To this opinion agrees the prophet David, who says,
1304 `If God ne kepe the citee, in ydel waketh he that it kepeth.'
`If God does not guard the city, in vain watches he who guards it.'
1305 Now, sire, thanne shul ye committe the kepyng of youre persone
Now, sir, then shall you commit the guarding of your person
1305A to youre trewe freendes that been approved and yknowe,
to your true friends that are proven and known,
1306 and of hem shul ye axen help youre persone for to kepe. For Catoun seith,
and of them shall you ask help to guard your person. For Cato says,
1306A `If thou hast nede of help, axe it of thy freendes,
`If thou hast need of help, ask it of thy friends,
1307 for ther nys noon so good a phisicien as thy trewe freend.'
for there is no physician so good as thy true friend.'
1308 And after this thanne shul ye kepe yow fro alle straunge folk, and fro lyeres,
And after this then shall you keep yourself from all unfamiliar folk, and from liars,
1308A and have alwey in suspect hire compaignye.
and be always suspicious of their company.
1309 For Piers Alfonce seith, `Ne taak no compaignye by the weye of a straunge man,
For Petrus Alphonsus says, `take no company by the way of a strange man,
1309A but if so be that thou have knowe hym of a lenger tyme.
but if it so be that thou have known him of a longer time.
1310 And if so be that he falle into thy compaignye paraventure, withouten thyn assent,
And if it so be that he fall into thy company by chance, without thine assent,
1311 enquere thanne as subtilly as thou mayst of his conversacion, and of his lyf bifore, and feyne thy wey;
inquire then as subtly as thou can of his way of life, and of his life before, and feign thy way;
1311A seye that [thou] wolt thider as thou wolt nat go;
say that [thou] wolt thither as thou will not go;
1312 and if he bereth a spere, hoold thee on the right syde,
and if he bears a spear, hold thyself on the right side,
1312A and if he bere a swerd, hoold thee on the lift syde.'
and if he bear a sword, hold thyself on the left side.'
1313 And after this thanne shul ye kepe yow wisely from all swich manere peple as I have seyd bifore,
And after this then shall you keep yourself wisely from all such manner people as I have said before,
1313A and hem and hir conseil eschewe.
and them and their advice shun.
1314 And after this thanne shul ye kepe yow in swich manere
And after this then shall you keep yourself in such manner
1315 that, for any presumpcion of youre strengthe, that ye ne dispise nat, ne accompte nat the myght
that, for any confidence in your strength, that you nor despise not, nor account not the might
1315A of youre adversarie so litel that ye lete the kepyng of youre persone for youre presumpcioun,
of your adversary so little that you neglect the protection of your person because of your over-confidence,
1316 for every wys man dredeth his enemy.
for every wise man dreads his enemy.
1317 And Salomon seith, `Weleful is he that of alle hath drede,
And Solomon says, `Happy is he who of all has dread,
1318 for certes, he that thurgh the hardynesse of his herte and thurgh the hardynesse of hymself hath
for certainly, he who through the hardiness of his heart and through the hardiness of himself has
1318A to greet presumpcioun, hym shal yvel bityde.'
too great self-confidence, to him shall evil befall.'
1319 Thanne shul ye everemoore contrewayte embusshementz and alle espiaille.
Then shall you evermore watch out for ambushes and all espionage,
1320 For Senec seith that `the wise man that dredeth harmes, eschueth harmes,
For Seneca says that `the wise man who dreads harms, shuns harms,
1321 ne he ne falleth into perils that perils eschueth.'
nor does he who shuns perils fall into perils.'
1322 And al be it so that it seme that thou art in siker place,
And although it be so that it seems that thou art in a safe place,
1322A yet shaltow alwey do thy diligence in kepynge of thy persone;
yet shalt thou always do thy best efforts in guarding of thy person;
1323 this is to seyn, ne be nat necligent to kepe thy persone
this is to say, be not negligent to guard thy person
1323A nat oonly fro thy gretteste enemys but fro thy leeste enemy.
not only from thy greatest enemies but from thy least enemy.
1324 Senek seith, `A man that is well avysed, he dredeth his leste enemy.'
Seneca says, `A man that is well advised, he dreads his least enemy.'
1325 Ovyde seith that `the litel wesele wol slee the grete bole and the wilde hert.'
Ovid says that `the little weasel will slay the great bull and the wild hart.'
1326 And the book seith, `A litel thorn may prikke a kyng ful soore,
And the book says, `A little thorn may prick a king very sorely,
1326A and an hound wol holde the wilde boor.'
and a hound will bring to bay the wild boar.'
1327 But nathelees, I sey nat thou shalt be so coward that thou doute ther wher as is no drede.
But nevertheless, I say not thou should be so cowardly that thou fear where there is no reason for dread.
1328 The book seith that `somme folk han greet lust to deceyve, but yet they dreden hem to be deceyved.'
The book says that `some folk have great desire to deceive, but yet they dread themselves to be deceived.'
1329 Yet shaltou drede to been empoisoned and kepe the from the compaignye of scorneres.
Yet thou should dread to be poisoned and keep thyself from the company of scoffers.
1330 For the book seith, `With scorneres make no compaignye, but flee hire wordes as venym.'
For the book says, `With scorners make no company, but flee their words as venom.'
1331 "Now, as to the seconde point,
"Now, as to the second point,
1331A where as youre wise conseillours conseilled yow to warnestoore youre hous with gret diligence,
whereas your wise advisors counseled you to fortify your house with great diligence,
1332 I wolde fayn knowe how that ye understonde thilke wordes and what is youre sentence."
I would be eager to know how you understand those words and what is your decision."
1333 Melibeus answerde and seyde, "Certes, I understande it in this wise: That I shal warnestoore myn hous with toures,
Melibeus answered and said, "Certainly, I understand it in this way: That I should fortify my house with towers,
1333A swiche as han castelles and othere manere edifices, and armure, and artelries,
such as have castles and other sorts of edifices, and armor, and artillery,
1334 by whiche thynges I may my persone and myn hous so kepen and deffenden
by which things I can my person and my house so guard and defend
1334A that myne enemys shul been in drede myn hous for to approche."
that my enemies shall be in dread to approach my house."
1335 To this sentence answerde anon Prudence: "Warnestooryng," quod she,
To this sentence answered immediately Prudence: "Fortifying," said she,
1335A "of heighe toures and of grete edifices apperteyneth somtyme to pryde.
"of high towers and of great edifices pertains sometimes to pride.
1336 And eek men make heighe toures, [and grete edifices] with grete costages and with greet travaille,
And also men make high towers, [and great edifices] with great expenditures and with great travail,
1336A and whan that they been accompliced, yet be they nat worth a stree,
and when that they are accomplished, yet are they not worth a straw,
1336B but if they be defended by trewe freendes that been olde and wise.
unless they are defended by true friends that are old and wise.
1337 And understoond wel that the gretteste and strongeste garnysoun that a riche man may have,
And understand well that the greatest and strongest garrison that a rich man may have,
1337A as wel to kepen his persone as his goodes, is
as well to keep his person as his goods, is
1338 that he be biloved with hys subgetz and with his neighebores.
that he is beloved by his subjects and by his neighbors.
1339 For thus seith Tullius, that `ther is a manere garnysoun
For thus says Cicero, that `there is a sort of garrison
1339A that no man may venquysse ne disconfite, and that is
that no man can vanquish nor discomfit, and that is
1340 a lord to be biloved of his citezeins and of his peple.'
for a lord to be beloved by his citizens and by his people.'
1341 Now, sire, as to the thridde point, where as youre olde
Now, sir, as to the third point, whereas your old
1341A and wise conseillours seyden that yow ne oghte nat sodeynly ne hastily proceden in this nede,
and wise advisors said that you ought not suddenly nor hastily proceed in this urgent matter,
1342 but that yow oghte purveyen and apparaillen yow in this caas with greet diligence and greet deliberacioun;
but that you ought to prepare yourself and get ready in this case with great diligence and great deliberation;
1343 trewely, I trowe that they seyden right wisely and right sooth.
truly, I believe that they spoke very wisely and real truth.
1344 For Tullius seith, `In every nede, er thou bigynne it, apparaille thee with greet diligence.'
For Cicero says, `In every urgent matter, ere thou begin it, prepare thyself with great diligence.'
1345 Thanne seye I that in vengeance-takyng, in werre, in bataille, and in warnestooryng,
Then say I that in vengeance-taking, in war, in battle, and in fortification,
1346 er thow bigynne, I rede that thou apparaille thee therto, and do it with greet deliberacion.
ere thou begin, I advise that thou prepare thyself for that, and do it with great deliberation.
1347 For Tullius seith that `longe apparaillyng biforn the bataille maketh short victorie.'
For Cicero says that `long preparation before the battle makes short victory.'
1348 And Cassidorus seith, `The garnysoun is stronger whan it is longe tyme avysed.'
And Cassiodorus says, `The protection is stronger when it is long time considered.'
1349 But now lat us speken of the conseil that was accorded by youre neighebores,
But now let us speak of the advice that was agreed upon by your neighbors,
1349A swiche as doon yow reverence withouten love,
such as do you reverence without love,
1350 youre olde enemys reconsiled, youre flatereres,
your old enemies reconciled, your flatterers,
1351 that conseilled yow certeyne thynges prively, and openly conseilleden yow the contrarie;
that advised you certain things secretly, and openly counseled you the contrary;
1352 the yonge folk also, that conseilleden yow to venge yow and make werre anon.
the young folk also, who advised you to avenge yourself and make war immediately.
1353 And certes, sire, as I have seyd biforn, ye han greetly erred
And certainly, sir, as I have said before, you have greatly erred
1353A to han cleped swich manere folk to youre conseil,
to have called such sort of folk to your council,
1354 which conseillours been ynogh repreved by the resouns aforeseyd.
which advisors are enough reproved by the reasons spoken earlier.
1355 But nathelees, lat us now descende to the special. Ye shuln first procede after the doctrine of Tullius.
But nevertheless, let us now descend to the particular details. You should first proceed according to the doctrine of Cicero.
1356 Certes, the trouthe of this matiere, or of this conseil, nedeth nat diligently enquere,
Certainly, the truth of this matter, or of this advice, we need not diligently inquire,
1357 for it is wel wist whiche they been that han doon to yow this trespas and vileynye,
for it is well known who they are that have done to you this trespass and villainy,
1358 and how manye trespassours, and in what manere
and how many trespassers, and in what manner
1358A they han to yow doon al this wrong and al this vileynye.
they have done to you all this wrong and all this villainy.
1359 And after this, thanne shul ye examyne the seconde condicion which that the same Tullius addeth in this matiere.
And after this, then you should examine the second condition which the same Cicero adds in this matter.
1360 For Tullius put a thyng which that he clepeth `consentynge'; this is to seyn,
For Cicero hypothesized a thing which he calls `consenting'; this is to say,
1361 who been they, and whiche been they and how manye that consenten to thy conseil
who are they, and which are they and how many that consent to thy advice
1361A in thy wilfulnesse to doon hastif vengeance.
in thy willfulness to do hasty vengeance.
1362 And lat us considere also who been they, and how manye been they,
And let us consider also who are they, and how many are they,
1362A and whiche been they that consenteden to youre adversaries.
and which are they that consented to your adversaries.
1363 And certes, as to the firste poynt, it is wel knowen whiche folk been
And certainly, as to the first point, it is well known which folk are
1363A they that consenteden to youre hastif wilfulnesse,
they that consented to your hasty willfulness,
1364 for trewely, alle tho that conseilleden yow to maken sodeyn werre ne been nat youre freendes.
for truly, all those who advised you to make sudden war are not your friends.
1365 Lat us now considere whiche been they that ye holde so greetly youre freendes as to youre persone.
Let us now consider which are they that you consider so greatly your friends as to your person.
1366 For al be it so that ye be myghty and riche, certes ye ne been but allone,
For although it be so that you are mighty and rich, certainly you are but alone,
1367 for certes ye ne han no child but a doghter,
for certainly you have no child but a daughter,
1368 ne ye ne han bretheren, ne cosyns germayns, ne noon oother neigh kynrede,
nor do you have neither brethren, nor first cousins, nor any other close relatives,
1369 wherfore that youre enemys for drede sholde stinte to plede with yow or to destroye youre persone.
for which your enemies for dread should stop pleading with you or destroying your person.
1370 Ye knowen also that youre richesses mooten been dispended in diverse parties,
You know also that your riches must be dispended in several parts,
1371 and whan that every wight hath his part, they ne wollen taken but litel reward to venge thy deeth.
and when each person has his part, they will take but little regard to avenging thy death.
1372 But thyne enemys been thre, and they han manie children, bretheren, cosyns, and oother ny kynrede.
But thine enemies are three, and they have many children, brethren, cousins, and other close kin.
1373 And though so were that thou haddest slayn of hem two or three, yet dwellen ther ynowe
And though it so were that thou haddest slain of them two or three, yet dwell there enough
1373A to wreken hir deeth and to sle thy persone.
to avenge their death and to slay thy person.
1374 And though so be that youre kynrede be moore siker and stedefast than the kyn of youre adversarie,
And though it so be that your kin are more sure and steadfast than the kin of your adversary,
1375 yet nathelees youre kynrede nys but a fer kynrede; they been but litel syb to yow,
yet nevertheless your kinship is but a far kinship; they are but little related to you,
1376 and the kyn of youre enemys been ny syb to hem.
and the kin of your enemies are close relatives to them.
1376A And certes, as in that, hir condicioun is bet than youres.
And certainly, in that respect, their condition is better than yours.
1377 Thanne lat us considere also if the conseillyng of hem that conseilleden yow to taken sodeyn vengeaunce,
Then let us consider also the advice of those who advised you to take sudden vengeance,
1377A wheither it accorde to resoun.
whether it accord to reason.
1378 And certes, ye knowe wel `nay.'
And certainly, you know well `nay.'
1379 For, as by right and resoun, ther may no man taken vengeance on no wight
For, by justice and reason, there may no man take vengeance on no person
1379A but the juge that hath the jurisdiccioun of it,
but the judge that has the jurisdiction of it,
1380 whan it is graunted hym to take thilke vengeance hastily or attemprely, as the lawe requireth.
when it is granted to him to take that vengeance hastily or temperately, as the law requires.
1381 And yet mooreover of thilke word that Tullius clepeth `consentynge,'
And yet moreover of that word that Cicero calls `consenting,'
1382 thou shalt considere if thy myght and thy power may consenten
thou should consider if thy might and thy power can consent
1382A and suffise to thy wilfulnesse and to thy conseillours.
and suffice to thy willfulness and to thy advisors.
1383 And certes thou mayst wel seyn that `nay.'
And certainly thou can well say that `nay.'
1384 For sikerly, as for to speke proprely, we may do no thyng
For truly, strictly speaking, we can do no thing
1384A but oonly swich thyng as we may doon rightfully.
but only such thing as we can do justly.
1385 And certes rightfully ne mowe ye take no vengeance, as of youre propre auctoritee.
And certainly in justice must you take no vengeance, as of your own authority.
1386 Thanne mowe ye seen that youre power ne consenteth nat, ne accordeth nat, with youre wilfulnesse.
Then must you see that your power is not consistent, nor accords not, with your willfulness.
1387 "Lat us now examyne the thridde point, which Tullius clepeth `consequent.'
"Let us now examine the third point, that Cicero calls `consequent.'
1388 Thou shalt understonde that the vengeance that thou purposest for to take is the consequent;
Thou shalt understand that the vengeance that thou intendest to take is the consequent;
1389 and therof folweth another vengeaunce, peril, and werre, and othere damages withoute nombre,
and thereof follows another vengeance, peril, and war, and other damages without number,
1389A of whiche we be nat war, as at this tyme.
of which we are not aware, at this time.
1390 And as touchynge the fourthe point, that Tullius clepeth `engendrynge,'
And as touching the fourth point, what Cicero calls `engendering,'
1391 thou shalt considere that this wrong which that is doon to thee
thou shalt consider that this wrong which that is done to thee
1391A is engendred of the hate of thyne enemys,
is engendered by the hate of thine enemies,
1392 and of the vengeance-takynge upon that wolde engendre another vengeance,
and by the vengeance-taking thereupon that would engender another vengeance,
1392A and muchel sorwe and wastynge of richesses, as I seyde.
and much sorrow and wasting of riches, as I said.
1393 "Now, sire, as to the point that Tullius clepeth `causes,' which that is the laste point,
"Now, sir, as to the point that Cicero calls `causes,' which is the last point,
1394 thou shalt understonde that the wrong that thou hast receyved hath certeine causes,
thou shalt understand that the wrong that thou hast received has certain causes,
1395 whiche that clerkes clepen Oriens and Efficiens, and Causa longinqua and Causa propinqua;
which clerks call Oriens and Efficiens, and Causa longinqua and Causa propinqua;
1395A this is to seyn, the fer cause and the ny cause.
this is to say, the far cause and the near cause.
1396 The fer cause is almyghty God, that is cause of alle thynges.
The far cause is almighty God, that is cause of all things .
1397 The neer cause is thy thre enemys.
The near cause is thy three enemies.
1398 The cause accidental was hate.
The cause accidental was hate.
1399 The cause material been the fyve woundes of thy doghter.
The cause material are the five wounds of thy daughter.
1400 The cause formal is the manere of hir werkynge that broghten laddres and cloumben in at thy wyndowes.
The cause formal is the manner of their working who brought ladders and climbed in at thy windows.
1401 The cause final was for to sle thy doghter. It letted nat in as muche as in hem was.
The cause final was to slay thy daughter. It did not delay insofar as was in their power.
1402 But for to speken of the fer cause, as to what ende they shul come, or what shal finally
But to speak of the far cause, as to what end they shall come, or what shall finally
1402A bityde of hem in this caas, ne kan I nat deeme but by conjectynge and by supposynge.
happen to them in this case, nor can I judge except by conjecture and by supposing.
1403 For we shull suppose that they shul come to a wikked ende,
For we should suppose that they shall come to a wicked end,
1404 by cause that the Book of Decrees seith, `Seelden, or with greet peyne, been causes ybroght to good ende
because the Book of Decrees says, `Seldom, or with great effort, are causes brought to a good end
1404A whanne they been baddely bigonne.'
when they are badly begun.'
1405 "Now, sire, if men wolde axe me why that God suffred men to do yow this vileynye,
"Now, sir, if men would ask me why God allowed men to do you this villainy,
1405A certes, I kan nat wel answere, as for no soothfastnesse.
certainly, I can not well answer, with any certainty.
1406 For th' apostle seith that `the sciences and the juggementz of oure Lord God almyghty been ful depe;
For the apostle says that `the sciences and the judgments of our Lord God almighty are very deep;
1407 ther may no man comprehende ne serchen hem suffisantly.'
there can no man comprehend nor study them sufficiently.'
1408 Nathelees, by certeyne presumpciouns and conjectynges, I holde and bileeve
Nonetheless, by certain assumptions and conjectures, I hold and believe
1409 that God, which that is ful of justice and of rightwisnesse, hath suffred this bityde by juste cause resonable.
that God, who is full of justice and of righteousness, has allowed this to happen by just reasonable cause.
1410 "Thy name is Melibee; this is to seyn, `a man that drynketh hony.'
"Thy name is Melibee; this is to say, `a man that drinks honey.'
1411 Thou hast ydronke so muchel hony of sweete temporeel richesses, and delices and honours of this world
Thou hast drunk so much honey of sweet temporal riches, and pleasures and honors of this world
1412 that thou art dronken and hast forgeten Jhesu Crist thy creatour.
that thou art drunk and hast forgotten Jesus Christ thy creator.
1413 Thou ne hast nat doon to hym swich honour and reverence as thee oughte,
Thou hast not done to him such honor and reverence as thee ought,
1414 ne thou ne hast nat wel ytaken kep to the wordes of Ovide, that seith,
nor thou hast not well paid attention to the words of Ovid, who says,
1415 `Under the hony of the goodes of the body is hyd the venym that sleeth the soule.'
`Under the honey of the goods of the body is hid the venom that slays the soul.'
1416 And Salomon seith, `If thou hast founden hony, ete of it that suffiseth,
And Solomon says, `If thou hast found honey, eat of it what suffices,
1417 for if thou ete of it out of mesure, thou shalt spewe' and be nedy and povre.
for if thou eat of it to excess, thou shalt vomit' and be needy and poor.
1418 And peraventure Crist hath thee in despit, and
And perhaps Christ has thee in disdain, and
1418A hath turned awey fro thee his face and his eeris of misericorde,
has turned away from thee his face and his ears of mercy,
1419 and also he hath suffred that thou hast been punysshed in the manere that thow hast ytrespassed.
and also he has allowed that thou hast been punished in the manner that thou hast trespassed.
1420 Thou hast doon synne agayn oure Lord Crist,
Thou hast done sin again our Lord Christ,
1421 for certes, the three enemys of mankynde
for certainly, the three enemies of mankind
1421A -- that is to seyn, the flessh, the feend, and the world --
-- that is to say, the flesh, the fiend, and the world --
1422 thou hast suffred hem entre in to thyn herte wilfully by the wyndowes of thy body,
thou hast allowed them enter into thine heart willfully by the windows of thy body,
1423 and hast nat defended thyself suffisantly agayns hire assautes and hire temptaciouns,
and hast not defended thyself sufficiently against their assaults and their temptations,
1423A so that they han wounded thy soule in fyve places;
so that they have wounded thy soul in five places;
1424 this is to seyn, the deedly synnes that been entred into thyn herte by thy fyve wittes.
this is to say, the deadly sins that are entered into thine heart by thy five senses.
1425 And in the same manere oure Lord Crist hath woold and suffred
And in the same manner our Lord Christ has willed and allowed
1425A that thy three enemys been entred into thyn house by the wyndowes
that thy three enemies are entered into thine house by the windows
1426 and han ywounded thy doghter in the forseyde manere."
and have wounded thy daughter in the aforesaid manner."
1427 "Certes," quod Melibee, "I se wel that ye enforce yow muchel by wordes to overcome me in swich manere
"Certainly," said Melibee, "I see well that you strengthen yourself much by words to overcome me in such a manner
1427A that I shal nat venge me of myne enemys,
that I shall not avenge me on my enemies,
1428 shewynge me the perils and the yveles that myghten falle of this vengeance.
showing me the perils and the evils that might fall because of this vengeance.
1429 But whoso wolde considere in alle vengeances the perils and yveles that myghte sewe of vengeance-takynge,
But if amyone would consider in all vengeances the perils and evils that might follow from vengeance-taking,
1430 a man wolde nevere take vengeance, and that were harm;
a man would never take vengeance, and that would be a harm;
1431 for by the vengeance-takynge been the wikked men dissevered fro the goode men,
for by the vengeance-taking are the wicked men distinguished from the good men,
1432 and they that han wyl to do wikkednesse restreyne hir wikked purpos,
and they that have will to do wickedness restrain their wicked purpose,
1432A whan they seen the punyssynge and chastisynge of the trespassours."
when they see the punishing and chastising of the trespassers."
1435 And yet seye I moore, that right as a singuler persone synneth in takynge vengeance of another man,
And yet say I more, that just as a private person sins in taking vengeance on another man,
1436 right so synneth the juge if he do no vengeance of hem that it han disserved.
just so sins the judge if he do no vengeance on them that have deserved it.
1437 For Senec seith thus: `That maister,' he seith, `is good that proveth shrewes.'
For Seneca says thus: `That master,' he says, `is good who reproves scoundrels.'
1438 And as Cassidore seith, `A man dredeth to do outrages whan he woot and knoweth
And as Cassiodorus says, `A man dreads to do outrages when he knows and is aware
1438A that it displeseth to the juges and the sovereyns.'
that it displeases the judges and the rulers.'
1439 And another seith, `The juge that dredeth to do right maketh men shrewes.'
And another says, `The judge that dreads to do justice makes men scoundrels.'
1440 And Seint Paul the Apostle seith in his Epistle, whan he writeth unto the Romayns, that
And Saint Paul the Apostle says in his Epistle, when he writes unto the Romans, that
1440A `the juges beren nat the spere withouten cause,
`the judges do not bear the spear without cause,
1441 but they beren it to punysse the shrewes and mysdoers and for to defende the goode men.'
but they bear it to punish the scoundrels and evildoers and to defend the good men.'
1442 If ye wol thanne take vengeance of youre enemys, ye shul retourne or have youre recours to the juge
If you will then take vengeance on your enemies, you shall turn to or bring your case to the judge
1442A that hath the jurisdiccion upon hem,
that has the jurisdiction upon them,
1443 and he shal punysse hem as the lawe axeth and requireth."
and he shall punish them as the law asks and requires."
1444 "A," quod Melibee, "this vengeance liketh me no thyng.
"A," said Melibee, "this vengeance pleases me not at all.
1445 I bithenke me now and take heede how Fortune hath norissed me fro my childhede
I consider now and take heed how Fortune has nourished me from my childhood
1445A and hath holpen me to passe many a stroong paas.
and has helped me to pass many a difficult situation.
1446 Now wol I assayen hire, trowynge, with Goddes help, that she shal helpe me my shame for to venge."
Now will I test her, believing that, with God's help, she shall help me to avenge my shame."
1447 "Certes," quod Prudence, "if ye wol werke by my conseil, ye shul nat assaye Fortune by no wey,
"Certainly," said Prudence, "if you will work by my advice, you shall not test Fortune in any way,
1448 ne ye shul nat lene or bowe unto hire, after the word of Senec,
nor shall you rely on or bow unto her, according to the word of Seneca,
1449 for `thynges that been folily doon, and that been in hope of Fortune, shullen nevere come to good ende.'
for `things that are foolishly done, and that are in hope of Fortune, shall never come to a good end.'
1450 And, as the same Senec seith, `The moore cleer and the moore shynyng that Fortune is,
And, as the same Seneca says, `The more clear and the more shining that Fortune is,
1450A the moore brotil and the sonner broken she is.'
the more brittle and the sooner broken she is.'
1451 Trusteth nat in hire, for she nys nat stidefast ne stable,
Trust not in her, for she is not steadfast nor stable,
1452 for whan thow trowest to be moost seur or siker of hire help,
for when thou believest her to be most sure or certain of her help,
1452A she wol faille thee and deceyve thee.
she will fail thee and deceive thee.
1453 And where as ye seyn that Fortune hath norissed yow fro youre childhede,
And whereas you say that Fortune has nourished you from your childhood,
1454 I seye that in so muchel shul ye the lasse truste in hire and in hir wit.
I say that to that degree should you have the less trust in her and in her wisdom.
1455 For Senec seith, `What man that is norissed by Fortune, she maketh hym a greet fool.'
For Seneca says, `Whatever man that is nourished by Fortune, she makes him a great fool.'
1456 Now thanne, syn ye desire and axe vengeance, and the vengeance that is doon after the lawe
Now then, since you desire and ask vengeance, and the vengeance that is done according to the law
1456A and bifore the juge ne liketh yow nat,
and before the judge pleases you not,
1457 and the vengeance that is doon in hope of Fortune is perilous and uncertein,
and the vengeance that is done in hope of Fortune is perilous and uncertain,
1458 thanne have ye noon oother remedie but for to have youre recours
then have you no other remedy but to have your recourse
1458A unto the sovereyn Juge that vengeth alle vileynyes and wronges.
unto the Supreme Judge that avenges all villainies and wrongs.
1459 And he shal venge yow after that hymself witnesseth, where as he seith,
And he shall avenge you according to what he himself witnesses, where he says,
1460 `Leveth the vengeance to me, and I shal do it.'"
`Leave the vengeance to me, and I shall do it.'"
1461 Melibee answerde, "If I ne venge me nat of the vileynye that men han doon to me,
Melibee answered, "If I do not avenge myself for the villainy that men have done to me,
1462 I sompne or warne hem that han doon to me that vileynye,
I summon or announce to them that have done to me that villainy,
1462A and alle othere, to do me another vileynye.
and all others, to do me another villainy.
1463 For it is writen, `If thou take no vengeance of an oold vileynye,
For it is written, `If thou take no vengeance of an old villainy,
1463A thou sompnest thyne adversaries to do thee a newe vileynye.'
thou summonest thine adversaries to do thee a new villainy.'
1464 And also for my suffrance men wolden do me so muchel vileynye that
And also for my patience men would do to me so much villainy that
1464A I myghte neither bere it ne susteene,
I might neither bear nor sustain it,
1465 and so sholde I been put and holden overlowe.
and so should I be put down and considered too humble.
1466 For men seyn, `In muchel suffrynge shul manye thynges falle unto thee whiche thou shalt nat mowe suffre.'"
For men say, `In much suffering shall many things happen to thee which thou shalt not be able to endure.'"
1467 "Certes," quod Prudence, "I graunte yow that over-muchel suffraunce is nat good.
"Certainly," said Prudence, "I grant you that over-much patience is not good.
1468 But yet ne folweth it nat therof that every persone to whom men doon vileynye take of it vengeance,
But yet it follows not thereof that every person to whom men do villainy should take vengeance for it,
1469 for that aperteneth and longeth al oonly to the juges, for they shul venge the vileynyes and injuries.
for that pertains and belongs entirely only to the judges, for they shall avenge the villainies and injuries.
1470 And therfore tho two auctoritees that ye han seyd above been oonly understonden in the juges,
And therefore those two authorities that you have spoken of above are only understood in the judges,
1471 for whan they suffren over-muchel the wronges and the vileynyes to be doon withouten punysshynge,
for when they allow over-much the wrongs and the villainies to be done without punishing,
1472 they sompne nat a man al oonly for to do newe wronges, but they comanden it.
they summon a man not entirely only to do new wrongs, but they command it.
1473 Also a wys man seith that `the juge that correcteth nat the synnere comandeth and biddeth hym do synne.'
Also a wise man says that `the judge who corrects not the sinner commands and bids him to do sin.'
1474 And the juges and sovereyns myghten in hir land so muchel suffre of the shrewes and mysdoeres
And the judges and rulers might in their land so much tolerate the scoundrels and evildoers
1475 that they sholden, by swich suffrance, by proces of tyme wexen of swich power and myght
that they should, because of such tolerance, by the passage of time grow in such power and might
1475A that they sholden putte out the juges and the sovereyns from hir places,
that they should put out the judges and the rulers from their places,
1476 and atte laste maken hem lesen hire lordshipes.
and at the last make them lose their lordships.
1477 "But lat us now putte that ye have leve to venge yow.
"But let us now suppose that you have leave to avenge yourself.
1478 I seye ye been nat of myght and power as now to venge yow,
I say you are not of might and power right now to avenge yourself,
1479 for if ye wole maken comparisoun unto the myght of youre adversaries, ye shul fynde in manye thynges that
for if you will make comparison unto the might of your adversaries, you shall find in many things that
1479A I have shewed yow er this that hire condicion is bettre than youres.
I have showed you ere this that their condition is better than yours.
1480 And therfore seye I that it is good as now that ye suffre and be pacient.
And therefore say I that it is good for now that you suffer and be patient.
1481 "Forthermoore, ye knowen wel that after the comune sawe, `it is a woodnesse a man to stryve
"Furthermore, you know well that according to the common saying, `it is a madness for a man to strive
1481A with a strenger or a moore myghty man than he is hymself,
with a stronger or a more mighty man than he is himself,
1482 and for to stryve with a man of evene strengthe -- that is to seyn,
and to strive with a man of even strength -- that is to say,
1482A with as strong a man as he is -- it is peril,
with as strong a man as he is -- it is perilous/85 ,
1483 and for to stryve with a weyker man, it is folie.'
and to strive with a weaker man, it is folly.'
1484 And therfore sholde a man flee stryvynge as muchel as he myghte.
And therefore a man should flee striving as much as he might.
1485 For Salomon seith, `It is a greet worshipe to a man to kepen hym fro noyse and stryf.'
For Solomon says, `It is a great honor to a man to keep himself from quarrels and strife.'
1486 And if it so bifalle or happe that a man of gretter myght and strengthe
And if it so befall or happen that a man of greater might and strength
1486A than thou art do thee grevaunce,
than thou art do thee grievance,
1487 studie and bisye thee rather to stille the same grevaunce than for to venge thee.
take pains and busy thyself rather to still the same grievance than to avenge thyself.
1488 For Senec seith that `he putteth hym in greet peril
For Seneca says that `he puts himself in great peril
1488A that stryveth with a gretter man than he is hymself.'
that strives with a greater man than he is himself.'
1489 And Catoun seith, `If a man of hyer estaat or degree, or moore myghty than thou,
And Cato says, `If a man of higher estate or degree, or more mighty than thou,
1489A do thee anoy or grevaunce, suffre hym,
do thee annoyance or grievance, endure it,
1490 for he that oones hath greved thee, may another tyme releeve thee and helpe.'
for he that once has grieved thee, may another time relieve thee and help.'
1491 Yet sette I caas ye have bothe myght and licence for to venge yow,
Yet I assume (for the sake of argument) you have both might and permission to avenge yourself,
1492 I seye that ther be ful manye thynges that shul restreyne yow of vengeance-takynge
I say that there are very many things that should restrain you from vengeance-taking
1493 and make yow for to enclyne to suffre, and for to han pacience
and make you to incline to suffer, and to have patience
1493A in the wronges that han been doon to yow.
in the wrongs that have been done to you.
1494 First and foreward, if ye wole considere the defautes that been in youre owene persone,
First of all, if you will consider the faults that are in your own person,
1495 for whiche defautes God hath suffred yow have this tribulacioun, as I have seyd yow heer-biforn.
for which faults God has allowed you to have this tribulation, as I have said to you before.
1496 For the poete seith that `we oghte paciently taken the tribulacions
For the poet says that `we ought patiently to take the tribulations
1496A that comen to us, whan we thynken and consideren that we han disserved to have hem.'
that come to us, when we think and consider that we have deserved to have them.'
1497 And Seint Gregorie seith that `whan a man considereth wel the nombre of his defautes and of his synnes,
And Saint Gregory says that `when a man considers well the number of his faults and of his sins,
1498 the peynes and the tribulaciouns that he suffreth semen the lesse unto hym;
the pains and the tribulations that he suffers seem the less unto him;
1499 and in as muche as hym thynketh his synnes moore hevy and grevous,
and inasmuch as he thinks his sins more heavy and grievous,
1500 in so muche semeth his peyne the lighter and the esier unto hym.'
insomuch seems his pain the lighter and the easier unto him.'
1501 Also ye owen to enclyne and bowe youre herte
Also you ought to incline and bow your heart
1501A to take the pacience of oure Lord Jhesu Crist, as seith Seint Peter in his Epistles.
to adopt the patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, as says Saint Peter in his Epistles.
1502 `Jhesu Crist,' he seith, `hath suffred for us and yeven ensample to every man to folwe and sewe hym,
`Jesus Christ,' he says, `has suffered for us and given example to every man to follow and be guided by him,
1503 for he dide nevere synne, ne nevere cam ther a vileyns word out of his mouth.
for he did never sin, nor never came there a villainous word out of his mouth.
1504 Whan men cursed hym, he cursed hem noght, and whan men betten hym, he manaced hem noght.'
When men cursed him, he cursed them not, and when men beat him, he menaced them not.'
1505 Also the grete pacience which the seintes that been in Paradys han had in tribulaciouns
Also the great patience which the saints that are in Paradise have had in tribulations
1505A that they han ysuffred, withouten hir desert or gilt,
that they have suffered, without their deserts or guilt,
1506 oghte muchel stiren yow to pacience.
ought much stir you to patience.
1507 Forthermoore ye sholde enforce yow to have pacience,
Furthermore you should force yourself to have patience,
1508 considerynge that the tribulaciouns of this world but litel while endure and soone passed been and goon,
considering that the tribulations of this world but little while endure and soon are passed and gone,
1509 and the joye that a man seketh to have by pacience in tribulaciouns is perdurable,
and the joy that a man seeks to have by patience in tribulations is ever-lasting,
1509A after that the Apostle seith in his epistle.
according to what the Apostle says in his epistle.
1510 `The joye of God,' he seith, `is perdurable' -- that is to seyn, everelastynge.
`The joy of God,' he says, `is perdurable' -- that is to say, everlasting.
1511 Also troweth and bileveth stedefastly that he nys nat wel ynorissed, ne wel ytaught,
Also think and believe steadfastly that he is not well trained, nor well taught,
1511A that kan nat have pacience or wol nat receyve pacience.
who can not have patience or will not receive patience.
1512 For Salomon seith that `the doctrine and the wit of a man is knowen by pacience.'
For Solomon says that `the doctrine and the wit of a man is known by patience.'
1513 And in another place he seith that `he that is pacient governeth hym by greet prudence.'
And in another place he says that `he that is patient governs himself with great prudence.'
1514 And the same Salomon seith, `The angry and wrathful man maketh noyses,
And the same Solomon says, `The angry and wrathful man makes quarrels,
1514A and the pacient man atempreth hem and stilleth.'
and the patient man moderates and stills them.'
1515 He seith also, `It is moore worth to be pacient than for to be right strong;
He says also, `It is more worthy to be patient than to be very strong;
1516 and he that may have the lordshipe of his owene herte is moore to preyse than he that
and he that may have the lordship of his own heart is more to be praised than he that
1516A by his force or strengthe taketh grete citees.'
by his force or strength takes great cities.'
1517 And therfore seith Seint Jame in his Epistle that `pacience is a greet vertu of perfeccioun.'"
And therefore says Saint James in his Epistle that `patience is a great virtue of perfection.'"
1518 "Certes," quod Melibee, "I graunte yow, dame Prudence, that pacience is a greet vertu of perfeccioun;
"Certainly," said Melibee, "I grant you, dame Prudence, that patience is a great virtue of perfection;
1519 but every man may nat have the perfeccioun that ye seken;
but every man may not have the perfection that you seek;
1520 ne I nam nat of the nombre of right parfite men,
nor am I of the number of very perfect men,
1521 for myn herte may nevere been in pees unto the tyme it be venged.
for my heart may never be in peace until the time it is avenged.
1522 And al be it so that it was greet peril to myne enemys
And although it be so that it was great peril to my enemies
1522A to do me a vileynye in takynge vengeance upon me,
to do me a villainy in taking vengeance upon me,
1523 yet tooken they noon heede of the peril, but fulfilleden hir wikked wyl and hir corage.
yet took they no heed of the peril, but fulfilled their wicked will and their desire.
1524 And therfore me thynketh men oghten nat repreve me,
And therefore it seems to me men ought not reprove me,
1524A though I putte me in a litel peril for to venge me,
though I put myself in a little peril in order to avenge myself,
1525 and though I do a greet excesse; that is to seyn, that I venge oon outrage by another."
and though I do a great excess; that is to say, that I avenge one outrage by another."
1526 "A," quod dame Prudence, "ye seyn youre wyl and as yow liketh,
"A," said dame Prudence, "you say your will and as you please,
1527 but in no caas of the world a man sholde nat doon outrage ne excesse for to vengen hym.
but in no case of the world should a man do outrage nor excess to avenge himself.
1528 For Cassidore seith that `as yvele dooth he that vengeth hym by outrage as he that dooth the outrage.'
For Cassiodorus says that `as evil does he that avenges himself by outrage as he that does the outrage.'
1529 And therfore ye shul venge yow after the ordre of right; that is to seyn, by the lawe
And therefore you shall avenge yourself after the order of justice; that is to say, by the law
1529A and noght by excesse ne by outrage.
and not by excess nor by outrage.
1530 And also, if ye wol venge yow of the outrage of youre adversaries
And also, if you will avenge yourself of the outrage of your adversaries
1530A in oother manere than right comandeth, ye synnen.
in other manner than justice commands, you sin.
1531 And therfore seith Senec that `a man shal nevere vengen shrewednesse by shrewednesse.'
And therefore says Seneca that `a man shall never avenge wickedness by wickedness."
1532 And if ye seye that right axeth a man to defenden violence by violence and fightyng by fightyng,
And if you say that justice asks a man to fight off violence by violence and fighting by fighting,
1533 certes ye seye sooth, whan the defense is doon anon withouten intervalle or withouten tariyng or delay,
certainly you say truth, when the defense is done immediately without interval or without tarrying or delay,
1534 for to deffenden hym and nat for to vengen hym.
to defend himself and not to avenge himself.
1535 And it bihoveth that a man putte swich attemperance in his deffense
And it is fitting that a man put so much temperance in his defense
1536 that men have no cause ne matiere to repreven hym that deffendeth hym of excesse and outrage,
that men have no cause nor matter to reprove him that defends himself from excess and outrage,
1536A for ellis were it agayn resoun.
for otherwise it would be against reason.
1537 Pardee, ye knowen wel that ye maken no deffense
By God, you know well that you make no defense
1537A as now for to deffende yow, but for to venge yow;
right now to defend yourself, but to avenge yourself;
1538 and so seweth it that ye han no wyl to do youre dede attemprely.
and so it follows that you have no will to do your deed temperately.
1539 And therfore me thynketh that pacience is good. For Salomon seith that
And therefore it seems to me that patience is good. For Solomon says that
1539A `he that is nat pacient shal have greet harm.'"
`he that is not patient shall have great harm.'"
1540 "Certes," quod Melibee, "I graunte yow that whan a man is inpacient and wrooth of that
"Certainly," said Melibee, "I grant you that when a man is impatient and angry with that
1540A that toucheth hym noght and that aperteneth nat unto hym, though it harme hym, it is no wonder.
which touches him not and which pertains not unto him, though it harm him, it is no wonder.
1541 For the lawe seith that `he is coupable that entremetteth hym
For the law says that `he is guilty that intrudes himself
1541A or medleth with swych thyng as aperteneth nat unto hym.'
or meddles with such thing as pertains not unto him.'
1542 And Salomon seith that `he that entremetteth hym of the noyse or strif of another man
And Solomon says that `he that meddles with the quarrels or strife of another man
1542A is lyk to hym that taketh an hound by the eris.'
is like to him that takes an hound by the ears.'
1543 For right as he that taketh a straunge hound by the eris is outherwhile biten with the hound,
For just as he that takes a strange hound by the ears is at another time bitten by the hound,
1544 right in the same wise is it resoun that he have harm that by his inpacience medleth hym
in just the same way it is reasonable that he have harm who by his impatience meddles himself
1544A of the noyse of another man, wheras it aperteneth nat unto hym.
with the quarrels of another man, whereas it pertains not unto him.
1545 But ye knowen wel that this dede -- that is to seyn,
But you know well that this deed -- that is to say,
1545A my grief and my disese -- toucheth me right ny.
my grief and my suffering -- touches me very closely.
1546 And therfore, though I be wrooth and inpacient, it is no merveille.
And therefore, though I am angry and impatient, it is no marvel.
1547 And, savynge youre grace, I kan nat seen that it myghte greetly harme me though I tooke vengeaunce.
And, with all due respect to you, I can not see that it might greatly harm me though I took vengeance.
1548 For I am richer and moore myghty than myne enemys been;
For I am richer and more mighty than my enemies are;
1549 and wel knowen ye that by moneye and by havynge grete possessions
and you well know that by money and by having great possessions
1549A been alle the thynges of this world governed.
are all the things of this world governed.
1550 And Salomon seith that `alle thynges obeyen to moneye.'"
And Solomon says that `all things obey to money.'"
1551 Whan Prudence hadde herd hir housbonde avanten hym of his richesse
When Prudence had heard her husband boast of his riches
1551A and of his moneye, dispreisynge the power of his adversaries,
and of his money, belittling the power of his adversaries,
1551B she spak and seyde in this wise:
she spoke and said in this manner:
1552 "Certes, deere sire, I graunte yow that ye been riche and myghty
"Certainly, dear sir, I grant you that you are rich and mighty
1553 and that the richesses been goode to hem that han wel ygeten hem and wel konne usen hem.
and that riches are good to those that have well gotten them and well know how to use them.
1554 For right as the body of a man may nat lyven withoute the soule,
For just as the body of a man can not live without the soul,
1554A namoore may it lyve withouten temporeel goodes.
no more than it can live without temporal goods.
1555 And by richesses may a man gete hym grete freendes.
And by riches a man get can himself great friends.
1556 And therfore seith Pamphilles: `If a net-herdes doghter,' seith he, `be riche,
And therefore says Pamphilles: `If a cowherd's daughter,' says he, `is rich,
1556A she may chesen of a thousand men which she wol take to hir housbonde,
she may choose of a thousand men which she will take to her husband,
1557 for, of a thousand men, oon wol nat forsaken hire ne refusen hire.'
for, of a thousand men, not one will forsake her nor refuse her.'
1558 And this Pamphilles seith also, `If thow be right happy -- that is to seyn,
And this Pamphilles says also, `If thou be very happy -- that is to say,
1558A if thou be right riche -- thou shalt fynde a greet nombre of felawes and freendes.
if thou be very rich -- thou shalt find a great number of fellows and friends.
1559 And if thy fortune change that thou wexe povre, farewel freendshipe and felaweshipe,
And if thy fortune change that thou wax poor, farewell friendship and fellowship,
1560 for thou shalt be alloone withouten any compaignye, but if it be the compaignye of povre folk.'
for thou shalt be alone without any company, except if it be the company of poor folk.'
1561 And yet seith this Pamphilles moreover that `they that been thralle and bonde of lynage
And yet says this Pamphilles moreover that `they that are enslaved and in bondage by birth
1561A shullen been maad worthy and noble by the richesses.'
shall be made worthy and noble by riches.'
1562 And right so as by richesses ther comen manye goodes,
And just as by riches there come many goods,
1562A right so by poverte come ther manye harmes and yveles,
just so by poverty come there many harms and evils,
1563 for greet poverte constreyneth a man to do manye yveles.
for great poverty constrains a man to do many evils.
1564 And therfore clepeth Cassidore poverte the mooder of ruyne;
And therefore Cassiodorus calls poverty the mother of ruin;
1565 that is to seyn, the mooder of overthrowynge or fallynge doun.
that is to say, the mother of overthrowing or falling down.
1566 And therfore seith Piers Alfonce, `Oon of the gretteste adversitees of this world is
And therefore says Petrus Alphonsus, `One of the greatest adversities of this world is
1567 whan a free man by kynde or of burthe is constreyned by poverte
when a man free by nature or by birth is constrained by poverty
1567A to eten the almesse of his enemy,'
to eat the alms of his enemy,'
1568 and the same seith Innocent in oon of his bookes. He seith that
and the same says Innocent in one of his books. He says that
1568A `sorweful and myshappy is the condicioun of a povre beggere;
`sorrowful and unfortunate is the condition of a poor beggar;
1569 for if he axe nat his mete, he dyeth for hunger;
for if he does not beg for his food, he dies for hunger;
1570 and if he axe, he dyeth for shame; and algates necessitee constreyneth hym to axe.'
and if be begs, he dies for shame, and yet necessity constrains him to beg.'
1571 And seith Salomon that `bet it is to dye than for to have swich poverte.'
And says Solomon that `better it is to die than to have such poverty.'
1572 And as the same Salomon seith, `Bettre it is to dye of bitter deeth
And as the same Solomon says, `Better it is to die of bitter death
1572A than for to lyven in swich wise.'
than to live in such a way.'
1573 By thise resons that I have seid unto yow and by manye othere resons that I koude seye,
By these reasons that I have said unto you and by many other reasons that I could say,
1574 I graunte yow that richesses been goode to hem that geten hem wel
I grant you that riches are good to them that get them well
1574A and to hem that wel usen tho richesses.
and to them that well use those riches.
1575 And therfore wol I shewe yow hou ye shul have yow, and how ye shul bere yow
And therefore will I show you how you should behave, and how you should bear yourself
1575A in gaderynge of richesses, and in what manere ye shul usen hem.
in gathering of riches, and in what manner you shall use them.
1576 "First, ye shul geten hem withouten greet desir, by good leyser, sokyngly and nat over-hastily.
"First, you shall get them without great desire, by good deliberation, slowly and not over-hastily.
1577 For a man that is to desirynge to gete richesses abaundoneth hym
For a man that is too desiring to get riches devotes himself
1577A first to thefte, and to alle othere yveles;
first to theft, and to all other evils;
1578 and therfore seith Salomon, `He that hasteth hym to bisily to wexe riche shal be noon innocent.'
and therefore says Solomon, `He that hastens him too busily to wax rich shall be no innocent.'
1579 He seith also that `the richesse that hastily cometh to a man soone
He says also that `the riches that hastily come to a man soon
1579A and lightly gooth and passeth fro a man,
and easily go and pass from a man,
1580 but that richesse that cometh litel and litel wexeth alwey and multiplieth.'
but those riches that come little by little always grow and multiply.'
1581 And, sire, ye shul geten richesses by youre wit and by youre travaille unto youre profit,
And, sir, you shall get riches by your wit and by your travail unto your advantage,
1582 and that withouten wrong or harm doynge to any oother persone.
and that without doing wrong or harm to any other person.
1583 For the lawe seith that `ther maketh no man himselven riche, if he do harm to another wight.'
For the law says that `there makes no man himself rich, if he does harm to another person.'
1584 This is to seyn, that nature deffendeth and forbedeth by right that
This is to say, that nature prohibits and forbids justly that
1584A no man make hymself riche unto the harm of another persone.
any man make himself rich unto the harm of another person.
1585 And Tullius seith that `no sorwe, ne no drede of deeth, ne no thyng
And Cicero says that `no sorrow, nor no dread of death, nor no thing
1585A that may falle unto a man, is so muchel agayns
that may happen to a man, is so much against
1586 nature as a man to encressen his owene profit to the harm of another man.
nature as for a man to increase his own advantage to the harm of another man.
1587 And though the grete men and the myghty men geten richesses moore lightly than thou,
And though the great men and the mighty men get riches more easily than thou,
1588 yet shaltou nat been ydel ne slow to do thy profit, for thou shalt in alle wise flee ydelnesse.'
yet thou shalt not be idle nor slow to do thy benefit, for thou shalt in all ways flee idleness.'
1589 For Salomon seith that `ydelnesse techeth a man to do manye yveles.'
For Solomon says that `idleness teaches a man to do many evils.'
1590 And the same Salomon seith that `he that travailleth and bisieth hym to tilien his land shal eten breed,
And the same Solomon says that `he that works and busies himself to till his land shall eat bread,
1591 but he that is ydel and casteth hym to no bisynesse
but he that is idle and devotes himself to no business
1591A ne occupacioun shal falle into poverte and dye for hunger.'
nor occupation shall fall into poverty and die for hunger.'
1592 And he that is ydel and slow kan nevere fynde covenable tyme for to doon his profit.
And he that is idle and slow can never find suitable time to earn his profit.
1593 For ther is a versifiour who seith that `the ydel man excuseth hym in wynter by cause
For there is a versifier says that `the idle man excuses himself in winter because
1593A of the grete coold, and in somer by enchesoun of the greete heete.'
of the great cold, and in summer by reason of the great heat.'
1594 For thise causes seith Caton, `Waketh and enclyneth nat yow over-muchel for to slepe,
For these causes says Cato, `Wake and incline you not over-much to sleep,
1594A for over-muchel reste norisseth and causeth manye vices.'
for over-much rest nourishes and causes many vices.'
1595 And therfore seith Seint Jerome, `Dooth somme goode dedes that the devel,
And therefore says Saint Jerome, `Do some good deeds that the devil,
1595A who is oure enemy, ne fynde yow nat unocupied.'
which is our enemy, not find you unoccupied.'
1596 For the devel ne taketh nat lightly unto his werkynge swiche as he fyndeth occupied in goode werkes.
For the devil takes not easily unto his power such as he finds occupied in good works.
1597 "Thanne thus in getynge richesses ye mosten flee ydelnesse.
"Then thus in getting riches you must flee idleness.
1598 And afterward, ye shul use the richesses which ye have geten by youre wit and by youre travaille
And afterward, you must use the riches which you have gotten by your wit and by your labor
1599 in swich a manere that men holde yow nat to scars, ne to sparynge, ne to fool-large
in such a manner that men consider you not too niggardly, nor too frugal, nor too foolishly generous
1599A -- that is to seyen, over-large a spendere.
-- that is to say, over-generous a spender.
1600 For right as men blamen an avaricious man by cause of his scarsetee and chyncherie,
For just as men blame an avaricious man because of his niggardliness and miserliness,
1601 in the same wise is he to blame that spendeth over-largely.
in the same way is he to blame that spends over-generously.
1602 And therfore seith Caton: `Use,' he seith, `thy richesses that thou hast geten
And therefore says Cato: `Use,' he says, `thy riches that thou hast gotten
1603 in swich a manere that men have no matiere ne cause to calle thee neither wrecche ne chynche,
in such a manner that men have no reason nor cause to call thee neither wretch nor miser,
1604 for it is a greet shame to a man to have a povere herte and a riche purs.'
for it is a great shame to a man to have a poor heart and a rich purse.'
1605 He seith also, `The goodes that thou hast ygeten, use hem by mesure;'
He says also, `The goods that thou hast gotten, use them by measure;'
1605A that is to seyn, spende hem mesurably,
that is to say, spend them moderately,
1606 for they that folily wasten and despenden the goodes that they han,
for they who foolishly waste and squander the goods that they have,
1607 whan they han namoore propre of hir owene, they shapen hem to take the goodes of another man.
when they have no more property of their own, they devote themselves to taking the goods of another man.
1608 I seye thanne that ye shul fleen avarice,
I say then that you must flee avarice,
1609 usynge youre richesses in swich manere that men seye nat that youre richesses been yburyed
using your riches in such a manner that men say not that your riches are buried
1610 but that ye have hem in youre myght and in youre weeldynge.
but that you have them in your power and in your control.
1611 For a wys man repreveth the avaricious man, and seith thus in two vers:
For a wise man reproves the avaricious man, and says thus in two verses:
1612 `Wherto and why burieth a man his goodes by his grete avarice,
`For what reason and why buries a man his goods by his great avarice,
1612A and knoweth wel that nedes moste he dye?
and he knows well that by necessity he must die?
1613 For deeth is the ende of every man as in this present lyf.'
For death is the end of every man in this present life.'
1614 And for what cause or enchesoun joyneth he hym or knytteth he hym so faste unto his goodes
And for what cause or reason he joins himself or he knits himself so fast unto his goods
1615 that alle hise wittes mowen nat disseveren hym or departen hym from his goodes,
that all his wits can not separate him or depart him from his goods,
1616 and knoweth wel, or oghte knowe, that whan he is deed
and knows well, or ought know, that when he is dead
1616A he shal no thyng bere with hym out of this world?
he shall nothing bear with him out of this world?
1617 And therfore seith Seint Austyn that `the avaricious man is likned unto helle,
And therefore says Saint Austin that `the avaricious man is likened unto hell,
1618 that the moore it swelweth the moore desir it hath to swelwe and devoure.'
that the more it swallows the more desire it has to swallow and devour.'
1619 And as wel as ye wolde eschewe to be called an avaricious man or chynche,
And as well as you would shun to be called an avaricious man or miser,
1620 as wel sholde ye kepe yow and governe yow in swich a wise who men calle yow nat fool-large.
as well should you keep yourself and govern yourself in such a way that men do not call you foolishly generous.
1621 Therfore seith Tullius: `The goodes,' he seith, `of thyn hous ne sholde nat been hyd ne kept so cloos,
Therefore says Cicero: `The goods,' he says, `of thine house should not be hidden nor kept so close,
1621A but that they myghte been opened by pitee and debonairetee'
but that they might not be opened by pity and graciousness'
1622 (that is to seyn, to yeven part to hem that han greet nede),
(that is to say, to give part to them that have great need),
1623 `ne thy goodes shullen nat been so opene to been every mannes goodes.'
`Nor thy goods must not be so open to be every man's goods.'
1624 Afterward, in getynge of youre richesses and in usynge hem ye shul alwey have thre thynges in youre herte
Afterward, in getting of your riches and in using them you must always have three things in your heart
1625 (that is to seyn, oure Lord God, conscience, and good name).
(that is to say, our Lord God, conscience, and good name).
1626 First, ye shul have God in youre herte,
First, you shall have God in your heart,
1627 and for no richesse ye shullen do no thyng which may in any manere displese God,
and for no riches you shall do any thing which may in any manner displease God,
1627A that is youre creatour and makere.
that is your creator and maker.
1628 For after the word of Salomon, `It is bettre to have a litel good with the love of God
For after the word of Solomon, `It is better to have a little good with the love of God
1629 than to have muchel good and tresour and lese the love of his Lord God.'
than to have much good and treasure and lose the love of his Lord God.'
1630 And the prophete seith that `bettre it is to been a good man and have litel good and tresour
And the prophet says that `better it is to be a good man and have little good and treasure
1631 than to been holden a shrewe and have grete richesses.'
than to be held a scoundrel and have great riches.'
1632 And yet seye I ferthermoore, that ye sholde alwey doon youre bisynesse to gete yow richesses,
And yet say I furthermore, that you should always do your business to get yourself riches,
1633 so that ye gete hem with good conscience.
providing that you get them with good conscience.
1634 And th' Apostle seith that `ther nys thyng in this world of which
And the Apostle says that `there is nothing in this world of which
1634A we sholden have so greet joye as whan oure conscience bereth us good witnesse.'
we should have so great joy as when our conscience bears us good witness.'
1635 And the wise man seith, `The substance of a man is ful good,
And the wise man says, `The substance of a man is very good,
1635A whan synne is nat in mannes conscience.'
when sin is not in man's conscience.'
1636 Afterward, in getynge of youre richesses and in usynge of hem,
Afterward, in getting of your riches and in using of them,
1637 yow moste have greet bisynesse and greet diligence that youre goode name be alwey kept and conserved.
you must have great effort and greet diligence that your good name be always kept and conserved.
1638 For Salomon seith that `bettre it is and moore it availleth a man to have a good name
For Solomon says that `better it is and more it avails a man to have a good name
1638A than for to have grete richesses.'
than to have great riches.'
1639 And therfore he seith in another place, `Do greet diligence,' seith Salomon,
And therefore he says in another place, `Do great diligence,' says Solomon,
1639A `in kepyng of thy freend and of thy goode name;
`in keeping of thy friend and of thy good name;
1640 for it shal lenger abide with thee than any tresour, be it never so precious.'
for it shall longer abide with thee than any treasure, be it never so precious.'
1641 And certes he sholde nat be called a gentil man that after God and good conscience, alle thynges left,
And certainly he should not be called a gentle man who after God and good conscience, all other things left aside,
1641A ne dooth his diligence and bisynesse to kepen his goode name.
does his best efforts and effort to keep his good name.
1642 And Cassidore seith that `it is signe of a gentil herte
And Cassiodorus says that `it is sign of a gentle heart
1642A whan a man loveth and desireth to han a good name.'
when a man loves and desires to have a good name.'
1643 And therfore seith Seint Austyn that `ther been two thynges that arn necessarie and nedefulle,
And therefore says Saint Austin that `there are two things that are necessary and needful,
1644 and that is good conscience and good loos;
and that is good conscience and good reputation;
1645 that is to seyn, good conscience to thyn owene persone inward and good loos for thy neighebor outward.'
that is to say, good conscience to thine own person inward and good reputation for thy neighbor outward.'
1646 And he that trusteth hym so muchel in his goode conscience
And he that trusts himself so much in his good conscience
1647 that he displeseth, and setteth at noght his goode name or loos,
that he displeases, and sets at naught his good name or reputation,
1647A and rekketh noght though he kepe nat his goode name, nys but a crueel cherl.
and cares not though he keep not his good name, is but a cruel churl.
1648 "Sire, now have I shewed yow how ye shul do in getynge richesses, and how ye shullen usen hem,
"Sir, now have I showed you how you shall do in getting riches, and how you shall use them,
1649 and I se wel that for the trust that ye han in youre richesses
and I see well that for the trust that you have in your riches
1649A ye wole moeve werre and bataille.
you will provoke war and battle.
1650 I conseille yow that ye bigynne no werre in trust of youre richesses,
I advise you that you begin no war in trust of your riches,
1650A for they ne suffisen noght werres to mayntene.
for they do not suffice to maintain wars.
1651 And therfore seith a philosophre, `That man that desireth and wole algates han werre, shal nevere have suffisaunce,
And therefore says a philosopher, `That man who desires and will continually have war, shall never have enough,
1652 for the richer that he is, the gretter despenses moste he make, if he wole have worshipe and victorie.'
for the richer that he is, the greater expenditures must he make, if he will have worship and victory.'
1653 And Salomon seith that `the gretter richesses that a man hath, the mo despendours he hath.'
And Solomon says that `the greater riches that a man has, the more spenders he has.'
1654 And, deere sire, al be it so that for youre richesses ye mowe have muchel folk,
And, dear sir, although it be so that for your riches you can have much folk,
1655 yet bihoveth it nat, ne it is nat good, to bigynne werre whereas ye mowe
yet it is not suitable, nor is it any good, to begin war whereas you can
1655A in oother manere have pees unto youre worshipe and profit.
in another manner have peace unto your honor and advantage.
1656 For the victorie of batailles that been in this world lyth nat in greet nombre or multitude
For the victory of battles that are in this world lies not in great number or multitude
1656A of the peple, ne in the vertu of man,
of the people, nor in the strength of man,
1657 but it lith in the wyl and in the hand of oure Lord God Almyghty.
but it lies in the will and in the hand of our Lord God Almighty.
1658 And therfore Judas Machabeus, which was Goddes knyght,
And therefore Judas Machabeus, who was God's knight,
1659 whan he sholde fighte agayn his adversarie that hadde a gretter nombre
when he had to fight against his adversary who has a greater number
1659A and a gretter multitude of folk and strenger than was this peple of Machabee,
and a greater multitude of folk and stronger than was this people of Machabee,
1660 yet he reconforted his litel compaignye, and seyde right in this wise:
yet he comforted his little company, and said exactly in this way:
1661 `Als lightly,' quod he, `may oure Lord God Almyghty yeve victorie to a fewe folk as to many folk,
`As easily,' said he, `may our Lord God Almighty give victory to a few folk as to many folk,
1662 for the victorie of a bataile comth nat by the grete nombre of peple,
for the victory of a battle comes not by the great number of people,
1663 but it cometh from oure Lord God of hevene.'
but it comes from our Lord God of heaven.'
1664 And, deere sire, for as muchel as ther is no man certein if he be worthy that
And, dear sir, since there is no man certain if he be worthy that
1664A God yeve hym victorie . . . or not, in accordance with what Salomon seith,
God give him victory . . . or not, according to what Solomon says,
1665 therfore every man sholde greetly drede werres to bigynne.
therefore every man should greatly dread to begin wars.
1666 And by cause that in batailles fallen manye perils,
And because in battles many perils befall,
1667 and happeth outher while that as soone is the grete man slayn as the litel man;
and happens another time that as soon is the great man slain as the little man;
1668 and as it is writen in the seconde Book of Kynges,
and as it is written in the second Book of Kings,
1668A `The dedes of batailles been aventurouse and nothyng certeyne,
`The deeds of battles are subject to chance and in no way certain,
1669 for as lightly is oon hurt with a spere as another';
for as easily is one hurt with one spear as another';
1670 and for ther is gret peril in werre, therfore sholde a man flee and eschue werre,
and for there is great peril in war, therefore should a man flee and shun war,
1670A in as muchel as a man may goodly.
insomuch as a man may goodly (do so).
1671 For Salomon seith, `He that loveth peril shal falle in peril.'"
For Solomon says, `He who loves peril shall fall in peril.'"
1672 After that Dame Prudence hadde spoken in this manere, Melibee answerde and seyde,
After Dame Prudence had spoken in this manner, Melibee answered and said,
1673 "I see wel, dame Prudence, that by youre faire wordes and by youre resouns
"I see well, dame Prudence, that by your fair words and by your reasons
1673A that ye han shewed me, that the werre liketh yow no thyng;
that you have showed me, that the war not at all pleases you;
1674 but I have nat yet herd youre conseil, how I shal do in this nede."
but I have not yet heard your advice, how I shall do in this urgent matter."
1675 "Certes," quod she, "I conseille yow that ye accorde with youre adversaries and that ye have pees with hem.
"Certainly," said she, "I advise you that you agree with your adversaries and that you have peace with them.
1676 For Seint Jame seith in his Epistles that `by concord and pees the smale richesses wexen grete,
For Saint James says in his Epistles that `by agreeent and peace the small riches wax great,
1677 and by debaat and discord the grete richesses fallen doun.'
and by debate and discord the great riches fall down.'
1678 And ye knowen wel that oon of the gretteste and moost sovereyn thyng
And you know well that one of the greatest and most excellent things
1678A that is in this world is unytee and pees.
that is in this world is unity and peace.
1679 And therfore seyde oure Lord Jhesu Crist to his apostles in this wise:
And therefore said our Lord Jesus Christ to his apostles in this manner:
1680 `Wel happy and blessed been they that loven and purchacen pees, for they been called children of God.'"
`Well happy and blessed are they that love and bring about peace, for they are called children of God.'"
1681 "A," quod Melibee, "now se I wel that ye loven nat myn honour ne my worshipe.
"A," said Melibee, "now see I well that you love not my honor nor my worthiness.
1682 Ye knowen wel that myne adversaries han bigonnen this debaat and bryge by hire outrage,
You know well that my adversaries have begun this debate and strife by their outrage,
1683 and ye se wel that they ne requeren ne preyen me nat of pees,
and you see well that they neither require nor pray me for peace,
1683A ne they asken nat to be reconsiled.
nor they ask not to be reconciled.
1684 Wol ye thanne that I go and meke me, and obeye me to hem, and crie hem mercy?
Will you then that I go and humble myself, and be subject to them, and beg them for mercy?
1685 For sothe, that were nat my worshipe.
Indeed, that would not be to my honor.
1686 For right as men seyn that `over-greet hoomlynesse engendreth dispreisynge,'
For just as men say that `over-great familiarity engenders contempt,'
1686A so fareth it by to greet humylitee or mekenesse."
so fares it by too great humility or meekness."
1687 Thanne bigan dame Prudence to maken semblant of wratthe and seyde:
Then began dame Prudence to make the outward appearance of wrath and said:
1688 "Certes, sire, sauf youre grace, I love youre honour and youre profit
"Certainly, sir, with all due respect to you, I love your honor and your well-being
1688A as I do myn owene, and evere have doon;
as I do my own, and ever have done;
1689 ne ye, ne noon oother, seyn nevere the contrarie.
nor you, nor any other, can say never the contrary.
1690 And yit if I hadde seyd that ye sholde han purchaced the pees
And yet if I had said that you should have brought about the peace
1690A and the reconsiliacioun, I ne hadde nat muchel mystaken me ne seyd amys.
and the reconciliation, I had not much mistaken me nor said amiss.
1691 For the wise man seith, `The dissensioun bigynneth by another man,
For the wise man says, `The dissension begins by another man,
1691A and the reconsilyng bygynneth by thyself.'
and the reconciling begins by thyself.'
1692 And the prophete seith, `Flee shrewednesse and do goodnesse;
And the prophet says, `Flee shrewdness and do goodness;
1693 seke pees and folwe it, as muchel as in thee is.'
seek peace and follow it, as much as in thee is.'
1694 Yet seye I nat that ye shul rather pursue to youre adversaries for pees than they shuln to yow.
Yet say I not that you should rather sue to your adversaries for peace than they should (offer peace) to you.
1695 For I knowe wel that ye been so hard-herted that ye wol do no thyng for me.
For I know well that you are so hard-hearted that you will do nothing for me.
1696 And Salomon seith, `He that hath over-hard an herte, atte laste he shal myshappe and mystyde.'"
And Solomon says, `He that has over-hard a heart, at the last he shall have bad luck and suffer misfortune.'"
1697 Whanne Melibee hadde herd dame Prudence maken semblant of wratthe, he seyde in this wise:
When Melibee had heard dame Prudence make the appearance of wrath, he said in this manner:
1698 "Dame, I prey yow that ye be nat displesed of thynges that I seye,
"Dame, I pray you that you be not displeased by things that I say,
1699 for ye knowe wel that I am angry and wrooth, and that is no wonder;
for you know well that I am angry and wrathful, and that is no wonder;
1700 and they that been wrothe witen nat wel what they don ne what they seyn.
and they that are wrathful know not well what they do nor what they say.
1701 Therfore the prophete seith that `troubled eyen han no cleer sighte.'
Therefore the prophet says that `troubled eyes have no clear sight.'
1702 But seyeth and conseileth me as yow liketh, for I am redy to do right as ye wol desire;
But say and advise me as you like, for I am ready to do just as you will desire;
1703 and if ye repreve me of my folye,
and if you reprove me for my folly,
1703A I am the moore holden to love yow and to preyse yow.
I am the more obligated to love you and to praise you.
1704 For Salomon seith that `he that repreveth hym that dooth folye,
For Solomon says that `he that reproves him who does folly,
1705 he shal fynde gretter grace than he that deceyveth hym by sweete wordes.'"
he shall find greater grace than he who deceives him by sweet words.'"
1706 Thanne seide dame Prudence, "I make no semblant of wratthe ne anger, but for youre grete profit.
Then said dame Prudence, "I make no outward appearance of wrath nor anger, but for your great advantage.
1707 For Salomon seith, `He is moore worth that repreveth or chideth a fool for his folye,
For Solomon says, `He is more worthy that reproves or chides a fool for his folly,
1707A shewynge hym semblant of wratthe,
showing him the outward appearance of wrath,
1708 than he that supporteth hym and preyseth hym in his mysdoynge and laugheth at his folye.'
than he who supports him and praises him in his misdoing and laughs at his folly.'
1709 And this same Salomon seith afterward that
And this same Solomon says afterward that
1709A `by the sorweful visage of a man'
`by the sorrowful visage of a man'
1709B (that is to seyn by the sory and hevy contenaunce of a man)
(that is to say by the sorry and heavy countenance of a man)
1710 `the fool correcteth and amendeth hymself.'"
`the fool corrects and amends himself.'"
1711 Thanne seyde Melibee, "I shal nat konne answere to
Then said Melibee, "I shall not know how to answer to
1711A so manye faire resouns as ye putten to me and shewen.
so many fair reasons as you set forth and show to me.
1712 Seyeth shortly youre wyl and youre conseil, and I am al redy to fulfille and parfourne it."
Say shortly your will and your advice, and I am all ready to fulfill and perform it."
1713 Thanne dame Prudence discovered al hir wyl to hym and seyde,
Then dame Prudence uncovered all her will to him and said,
1714 "I conseille yow," quod she, "aboven alle thynges, that ye make pees bitwene God and yow,
"I advise you," said she, "above all things , that you make peace between God and you,
1715 and beth reconsiled unto hym and to his grace.
and are reconciled unto him and to his grace.
1716 For, as I have seyd yow heer biforn, God hath suffred yow
For, as I have said to you here before this, God has allowed you
1716A to have this tribulacioun and disese for youre synnes.
to have this tribulation and suffering for your sins.
1717 And if ye do as I sey yow, God wol sende youre adversaries unto yow
And if you do as I tell you, God will send your adversaries unto you
1718 and maken hem fallen at youre feet, redy to do youre wyl and youre comandementz.
and make them fall at your feet, ready to do your will and your commandments.
1719 For Salomon seith, `Whan the condicioun of man is plesaunt and likynge to God,
For Solomon says, `When the condition of man is pleasant and pleasing to God,
1720 he chaungeth the hertes of the mannes adversaries and constreyneth hem to biseken hym of pees and of grace.'
he changes the hearts of the man's adversaries and constrains them to beseech him for peace and for grace.'
1721 And I prey yow lat me speke with youre adversaries in privee place,
And I pray you let me speak with your adversaries in a private place,
1722 for they shul nat knowe that it be of youre wyl or of youre assent.
for they must not know that it is of your will or of your assent.
1723 And thanne, whan I knowe hir wil and hire entente, I may conseille yow the moore seurely."
And then, when I know their will and their intent, I can advise you the more surely."
1724 "Dame," quod Melibee, "dooth youre wil and youre likynge;
"Dame," said Melibee, "do your will and your pleasure;
1725 for I putte me hoolly in youre disposicioun and ordinaunce."
for I put me wholly in your disposition and ordinance."
1726 Thanne dame Prudence, whan she saugh the goode wyl of hir housbonde, delibered and took avys in hirself,
Then dame Prudence, when she saw the good will of her husband, considered and pondered in herself,
1727 thinkinge how she myghte brynge this nede unto a good conclusioun and to a good ende.
thinking how she might bring this urgent matter unto a good conclusion and to a good end.
1728 And whan she saugh hir tyme, she sente for thise adversaries to come unto hire into a pryvee place
And when she saw her time, she sent for these adversaries to come unto her into a private place
1729 and shewed wisely unto hem the grete goodes that comen of pees
and showed wisely unto them the great goods that come of peace
1730 and the grete harmes and perils that been in werre,
and the great harms and perils that are in war,
1731 and seyde to hem in a goodly manere hou that hem oughten have greet repentaunce
and said to them in a goodly manner how that they ought to have great repentance
1732 of the injurie and wrong that they hadden doon to Melibee hir lord,
for the injury and wrong that they had done to Melibee her lord,
1732A and unto hire, and to hire doghter.
and unto her, and to her daughter.
1733 And whan they herden the goodliche wordes of dame Prudence,
And when they heard the goodly words of dame Prudence,
1734 they weren so supprised and ravysshed and hadden so greet joye of hire that wonder was to telle.
they were so taken and ravished and had such great joy of her that it was a wonder to tell.
1735 "A, lady," quod they, "ye han shewed unto us the blessynge of swetnesse,
"A, lady," said they, "you have showed unto us the blessing of sweetness,
1735A after the sawe of David the prophete,
according to the saying of David the prophet,
1736 for the reconsilynge which we been nat worthy to have in no manere,
for the reconciliation which we are not worthy to have in any manner,
1737 but we oghte requeren it with greet contricioun and humylitee,
but we ought to request it with great contrition and humility,
1738 ye of youre grete goodnesse have presented unto us.
that you of your great goodness have presented unto us.
1739 Now se we wel that the science and the konnynge of Salomon is ful trewe.
Now see we well that the knowledge and the cunning of Solomon is very true.
1740 For he seith that `sweete wordes multiplien and encreescen freendes
For he says that `sweet words multiply and increase friends
1740A and maken shrewes to be debonaire and meeke.'
and make scoundrels to be gentle and meek.'
1741 "Certes," quod they, "we putten oure dede and al oure matere and cause al hoolly in youre goode wyl
"Certainly," said they, "we put our actions and all our matters and cause all wholly in your good will
1742 and been redy to obeye to the speche and comandement of my lord Melibee.
and are ready to obey to the speech and commandment of my lord
1743 And therfore, deere and benygne lady, we preien yow and biseke yow as mekely as we konne and mowen
And therefore, dear and benign lady, we pray you and beseech you as meekly as we know how and are able
1744 that it lyke unto youre grete goodnesse to fulfillen in dede youre goodliche wordes,
that it be pleasing unto your great goodness to fulfill in deed your goodly words,
1745 for we consideren and knowelichen that we han offended and greved my lord Melibee out of mesure,
for we consider and acknowledge that we have offended and grieved my lord Melibee out of measure,
1746 so ferforth that we be nat of power to maken his amendes.
so far that we are not of power to make his amends.
1747 And therfore we oblige and bynden us and oure freendes for to doon al his wyl and his comandementz.
And therefore we pledge and bind us and our friends to do all his will and his commandments.
1748 But peraventure he hath swich hevynesse and swich wratthe to us-ward by cause of oure offense
But perhaps he has such heaviness and such wrath toward us because of our offense
1749 that he wole enjoyne us swich a peyne as we mowe nat bere ne susteene.
that he will impose on us such a punishment as we can not bear nor sustain.
1750 And therfore, noble lady, we biseke to youre wommanly pitee
And therefore, noble lady, we beseech to your womanly pity
1751 to taken swich avysement in this nede that
to take such thought in this urgent matter that
1751A we ne oure freendes be nat desherited ne destroyed thurgh oure folye."
we nor our friends are not dispossessed nor destroyed through our folly."
1752 "Certes," quod Prudence, "it is an hard thyng and right perilous
"Certainly," said Prudence, "it is a hard thing and very perilous
1753 that a man putte hym al outrely in the arbitracioun and juggement,
that a man put himself entirely in the power of decision and judgment,
1753A and in the myght and power of his enemys.
and in the might and power of his enemies.
1754 For Salomon seith, `Leeveth me, and yeveth credence to that I shal seyn: I seye,' quod he,
For Solomon says, `Believe me, and give credence to what I shall say: I say,' said he,
1754A `ye peple, folk and governours of hooly chirche,
`you people, folk and governors of holy church,
1755 to thy sone, to thy wyf, to thy freend, ne to thy broother
to thy son, to thy wife, to thy friend, nor to thy brother
1756 ne yeve thou nevere myght ne maistrie of thy body whil thou lyvest.'
give thou never power (over) nor mastery of thy body while thou livest.'
1757 Now sithen he deffendeth that man sholde nat yeven to his broother
Now since he forbids that a man should give to his brother
1757A ne to his freend the myght of his body,
nor to his friend the control of his body,
1758 by a strenger resoun he deffendeth and forbedeth a man to yeven hymself to his enemy.
by a stronger reason he prohibits and forbids a man to give himself to his enemy.
1759 And nathelees I conseille you that ye mystruste nat my lord,
And nevertheless I advise you that you mistrust not my lord,
1760 for I woot wel and knowe verraily that he is debonaire and meeke, large, curteys,
for I know well and know truly that he is gentle and humble, generous, courteous,
1761 and nothyng desirous ne coveitous of good ne richesse.
and in no way desirous nor covetous of goods nor riches.
1762 For ther nys nothyng in this world that he desireth, save oonly worshipe and honour.
For there is nothing in this world that he desires, save only worship and honor.
1763 Forthermoore I knowe wel and am right seur that he shal nothyng doon in this nede withouten my conseil,
Furthermore I know well and am very sure that he shall do nothing in this urgent matter without my advice,
1764 and I shal so werken in this cause that by the grace of oure Lord God
and I shall so work in this cause that by the grace of our Lord God
1764A ye shul been reconsiled unto us."
you shall be reconciled unto us."
1765 Thanne seyden they with o voys, "Worshipful lady, we putten us
Then said they with one voice, "Worshipful lady, we put us
1765A and oure goodes al fully in youre wil and disposicioun,
and our goods all fully in your will and power,
1766 and been redy to comen, what day that it like unto youre noblesse to lymyte us or assigne us,
and are ready to come, what day that it pleases unto your noblesse to limit us or assign us,
1767 for to maken oure obligacioun and boond as strong as it liketh unto youre goodnesse,
to make our pledge and bond as strong as it pleases unto your goodness,
1768 that we mowe fulfille the wille of yow and of my lord Melibee."
that we may fulfill the will of you and of my lord Melibee."
1769 Whan dame Prudence hadde herd the answeres of thise men, she bad hem goon agayn prively;
When dame Prudence had heard the answers of these men, she bad them go again secretly;
1770 and she retourned to hir lord Melibee, and tolde hym how she foond his adversaries ful repentant,
and she returned to her lord Melibee, and told him how she found his adversaries very repentant,
1771 knowelechynge ful lowely hir synnes and trespas, and how they were redy to suffren all peyne,
acknowledging very lowly their sins and trespass, and how they were ready to suffer any punishment,
1772 requirynge and preiynge hym of mercy and pitee.
requesting and praying him of mercy and pity.
1773 Thanne seyde Melibee: "He is wel worthy to have pardoun
Then said Melibee: "He is well worthy to have pardon
1773A and foryifnesse of his synne, that excuseth nat his synne
and forgiveness of his sin, who does not excuse his sin
1774 but knowelecheth it and repenteth hym, axinge indulgence.
but acknowledges it and repents himself, asking indulgence.
1775 For Senec seith, `Ther is the remissioun and foryifnesse, where as the confessioun is,'
For Seneca says, `There is the remission and forgiveness, where the confession is,'
1776 for confessioun is neighebor to innocence.
for confession is neighbor to innocence.
1777 And he seith in another place that `he that hath shame of his synne and knowlecheth
And he says in another place that `he who has shame of his sin and acknowledges
1777A [it is worthy remissioun].' And therfore I assente and conferme me to have pees;
[it is worthy of having remission].' And therefore I assent and resolve myself to have peace;
1778 but it is good that we do it nat withouten the assent and wyl of oure freendes."
but it is good that we do it not without the assent and will of our friends."
1779 Thanne was Prudence right glad and joyeful and seyde:
Then was Prudence very glad and joyful and said:
1780 "Certes, sire," quod she, "ye han wel and goodly answered,
"Certainly, sir," said she, "you have well and goodly answered,
1781 for right as by the conseil, assent, and help of youre freendes
for just as by the advice, assent, and help of your friends
1781A ye han been stired to venge yow and maken werre,
you have been stirred to avenge yourself and make war,
1782 right so withouten hire conseil shul ye nat accorden yow ne have pees with youre adversaries.
just so without their advice shall you not reconcile yourself nor have peace with your adversaries.
1783 For the lawe seith, `Ther nys no thyng so good by wey of kynde as a thyng
For the law says, `There is no thing so good in the natural course of events kind as for a thing
1783A to be unbounde by hym that it was ybounde.'"
to be unbound by him who bound it.'"
1784 And thanne dame Prudence withouten delay or tariynge sente anon hire messages for hire kyn
And then dame Prudence without delay or tarrying sent immediately her messages for her kin
1784A and for hire olde freendes which that were trewe and wyse,
and for her old friends which that were true and wise,
1785 and tolde hem by ordre in the presence of Melibee al this mateere
and told them in detail in the presence of Melibee all this matter
1785A as it is aboven expressed and declared,
as it is above expressed and declared,
1786 and preyden hem that they wolde yeven hire avys and conseil what best were to doon in this nede.
and prayed them that they would give their counsel and advice what best were to do in this urgent matter.
1787 And whan Melibees freendes hadde taken hire avys and deliberacioun of the forseide mateere,
And when Melibee's friends had taken her counsel and deliberation on the foresaid matter,
1788 and hadden examyned it by greet bisynesse and greet diligence,
and had examined it by great effort and greet diligence,
1789 they yave ful conseil for to have pees and reste,
they gave unqualified advice to have peace and rest,
1790 and that Melibee sholde receyve with good herte his adversaries to foryifnesse and mercy.
and that Melibee should with good heart receive his adversaries to forgiveness and mercy.
1791 And whan dame Prudence hadde herd the assent of hir lord Melibee, and the conseil of his freendes
And when dame Prudence had heard the assent of her lord Melibee, and the advice of his friends
1792 accorde with hire wille and hire entencioun,
agree with her will and her intention,
1793 she was wonderly glad in hire herte and seyde:
she was wonderfully glad in her heart and said:
1794 "Ther is an old proverbe," quod she, "seith that `the goodnesse that thou mayst do this day, do it,
"There is an old proverb," said she, "which says that `the goodness that thou can do this day, do it,
1795 and abide nat ne delaye it nat til tomorwe.'
and abide not nor delay it not till tomorrow.'
1796 And therfore I conseille that ye sende youre messages, swiche as been discrete and wise,
And therefore I advise that you send your messengers, such as are discrete and wise,
1797 unto youre adversaries, tellynge hem on youre bihalve
unto your adversaries, telling them on your behalf
1798 that if they wole trete of pees and of accord,
that if they will negotiate about peace and about harmony,
1799 that they shape hem withouten delay or tariyng to comen unto us."
that they prepare themselves without delay or tarrying to come unto us."
1800 Which thyng parfourned was in dede.
Which thing was carried out in deed.
1801 And whanne thise trespassours and repentynge folk of hire folies
And when these trespassers and folk repenting of their follies
1801A -- that is to seyn, the adversaries of Melibee --
-- that is to say, the adversaries of Melibee --
1802 hadden herd what thise messagers seyden unto hem,
had heard what these messengers said unto them,
1803 they weren right glad and joyeful, and answereden ful mekely and benignely,
they were just glad and joyful, and answered very meekly and benignly,
1804 yeldynge graces and thankynges to hir lord Melibee and to al his compaignye,
yielding thanks and gratitude to their lord Melibee and to all his company,
1805 and shopen hem withouten delay to go with the messagers
and prepared themselves without delay to go with the messengers
1805A and obeye to the comandement of hir lord Melibee.
and obey to the command of their lord Melibee.
1806 And right anon they tooken hire wey to the court of Melibee,
And right away they took their way to the court of Melibee,
1807 and tooken with hem somme of hire trewe freendes
and took with them some of their true friends
1807A to maken feith for hem and for to been hire borwes.
to stand surety for them and to be their guarantors.
1808 And whan they were comen to the presence of Melibee, he seyde hem thise wordes:
And when they were come to the presence of Melibee, he said to them these words:
1809 "It standeth thus," quod Melibee, "and sooth it is, that ye,
"It stands thus," said Melibee, "and true it is, that you,
1810 causelees and withouten skile and resoun,
causeless and without logical explanation and reason,
1811 han doon grete injuries and wronges to me and to my wyf Prudence and to my doghter also.
have done great injuries and wrongs to me and to my wife Prudence and to my daughter also.
1812 For ye han entred into myn hous by violence,
For you have entered into my house by violence,
1813 and have doon swich outrage that alle men knowen wel that ye have disserved the deeth.
and have done such outrage that all men know well that you have deserved the death.
1814 And therfore wol I knowe and wite of yow
And therefore will I know and learn of you
1815 wheither ye wol putte the punyssement and the chastisynge and the vengeance of this outrage in the wyl
whether you will put the punishment and the chastising and the vengeance of this outrage in the power
1815A of me and of my wyf Prudence, or ye wol nat?"
of me and of my wife Prudence, or will you not?"
1816 Thanne the wiseste of hem thre answerde for hem alle and seyde,
Then the wisest of them three answered for them all and said,
1817 "Sire," quod he, "we knowen wel that we been unworthy to comen unto the court
"Sir," said he, "we know well that we are unworthy to come unto the court
1817A of so greet a lord and so worthy as ye been.
of so great a lord and so worthy as you are.
1818 For we han so greetly mystaken us, and han offended
For we have so greatly transgressed, and have offended
1818A and agilt in swich a wise agayn youre heigh lordshipe
and done wrong in such a way against your high lordship
1819 that trewely we han disserved the deeth.
that truly we have deserved the death.
1820 But yet, for the grete goodnesse and debonairetee that al the world witnesseth of youre persone,
But yet, for the great goodness and gentleness that all the world witnesses of your person,
1821 we submytten us to the excellence and benignitee of youre gracious lordshipe,
we submit ourselves to the excellence and benignity of your gracious lordship,
1822 and been redy to obeie to alle youre comandementz,
and are ready to obey all your commandments,
1823 bisekynge yow that of youre merciable pitee
beseeching you that of your merciful pity
1823A ye wol considere oure grete repentaunce and lowe submyssioun
you will consider our great repentance and low submission
1824 and graunten us foryevenesse of oure outrageous trespas and offense.
and grant us forgiveness of our outrageous trespass and offense.
1825 For wel we knowe that youre liberal grace and mercy
For well we know that your liberal grace and mercy
1825A strecchen hem ferther into goodnesse than doon oure outrageouse giltes and trespas into wikkednesse,
stretch themselves farther into goodness than do our outrageous guilts and trespass into wickedness,
1826 al be it that cursedly and dampnablely we han agilt agayn youre heigh lordshipe."
although it be so that cursedly and damnably we have sinned against your high lordship."
1827 Thanne Melibee took hem up fro the ground ful benignely,
Then Melibee took them up from the ground very benignly,
1828 and receyved hire obligaciouns and hir boondes by hire othes upon hire plegges and borwes,
and received their pledges and their bonds by their oaths upon their pledges and guarantors,
1829 and assigned hem a certeyn day to retourne unto his court
and assigned them a certain day to return unto his court
1830 for to accepte and receyve the sentence and juggement that Melibee wolde comande
to accept and receive the sentence and judgment that Melibee would command
1830A to be doon on hem by the causes aforeseyd.
to be done on them by the causes aforesaid.
1831 Whiche thynges ordeyned, every man retourned to his hous.
Which things arranged, every man returned to his house.
1832 And whan that dame Prudence saugh hir tyme, she freyned and axed hir lord Melibee
And when dame Prudence saw her time, she questioned and asked her lord Melibee
1833 what vengeance he thoughte to taken of his adversaries.
what vengeance he thought to take upon his adversaries.
1834 To which Melibee answerde and seyde, "Certes," quod he, "I thynke and purpose me fully
To which Melibee answered and said, "Certainly," said he, "I think and purpose me fully
1835 to desherite hem of al that evere they han and for to putte hem in exil for evere."
to dispossess them of all that ever they have and to put them in exile for ever."
1836 "Certes," quod dame Prudence, "this were a crueel sentence and muchel agayn resoun.
"Certainly," said dame Prudence, "this would be a cruel sentence and much again reason.
1837 For ye been riche ynough and han no nede of oother mennes good,
For you are rich enough and have no need of other men's wealth,
1838 and ye myghte lightly in this wise gete yow a coveitous name,
and you might easily in this way get yourself a covetous name,
1839 which is a vicious thyng, and oghte been eschued of every good man.
which is a vicious thing, and ought to be shunned by every good man.
1840 For after the sawe of the word of the Apostle, `Coveitise is roote of alle harmes.'
For according to the saying of the word of the Apostle, `Greed is root of all harms.'
1841 And therfore it were bettre for yow to lese so muchel good of youre owene
And therefore it were better for you to lose so much wealth of your own
1841A than for to taken of hir good in this manere,
than to take their wealth in this manner,
1842 for bettre it is to lesen good with worshipe than it is to wynne good with vileynye and shame.
for better it is to lose wealth with honor than it is to acquire wealth with villainy and shame.
1843 And everi man oghte to doon his diligence and his bisynesse to geten hym a good name.
And every man ought to do his best efforts and his main concern to get himself a good name.
1844 And yet shal he nat oonly bisie hym in kepynge of his good name,
And yet shall he not only busy himself in keeping of his good name,
1845 but he shal also enforcen hym alwey to do somthyng by which he may renovelle his good name.
but he shall also strive always to do something by which he may renew his good name.
1846 For it is writen that `the olde good loos or good name of a man is soone goon
For it is written that `the old good reputation or good name of a man is soon gone
1846A and passed, whan it is nat newed ne renovelled.'
and passed, when it is not renewed nor restored.'
1847 And as touchynge that ye seyn ye wole exile youre adversaries,
And as touching that you say you will exile your adversaries,
1848 that thynketh me muchel agayn resoun and out of mesure,
that thinks me much against reason and out of measure,
1849 considered the power that they han yeve yow upon hemself.
considered the power that they have given you upon themselves.
1850 And it is writen that `he is worthy to lesen his privilege that mysuseth
And it is written that `he is worthy to lose his privilege that misuses
1850A the myght and the power that is yeven hym.'
the might and the power that is given him.'
1851 And I sette cas ye myghte enjoyne hem that peyne by right and by lawe,
And I assume (for the sake of argument) you might impose on them that punishment by justice and by law,
1852 which I trowe ye mowe nat do;
which I believe you can not do;
1853 I seye ye mighte nat putten it to execucioun peraventure,
I say perhaps you could not put it to execution,
1854 and thanne were it likly to retourne to the werre as it was biforn.
and then it would be likely to return to the war as it was before.
1855 And therfore, if ye wole that men do yow obeisance, ye moste deemen moore curteisly;
And therefore, if you want men to do you obedience, you must judge more courteously;
1856 this is to seyn, ye moste yeven moore esy sentences and juggementz.
this is to say, you must give more easy sentences and judgments.
1857 For it is writen that `he that moost curteisly comandeth, to hym men moost obeyen.'
For it is written that `he who most courteously commands, to him men most obey.'
1858 And therfore I prey yow that in this necessitee and in this nede
And therefore I pray you that in this necessity and in this urgent matter
1858A ye caste yow to overcome youre herte.
you endeavor to overcome your heart.
1859 For Senec seith that `he that overcometh his herte overcometh twies.'
For Seneca says that `he that overcomes his heart overcomes twice.'
1860 And Tullius seith, `Ther is no thyng so comendable in a greet lord
And Cicero says, `There is no thing so commendable in a great lord
1861 as whan he is debonaire and meeke, and appeseth him lightly.'
as when he is gentle and meek, and calms himself easily.
1862 And I prey yow that ye wole forbere now to do vengeance,
And I pray you that you will forbear now to do vengeance,
1863 in swich a manere that youre goode name may be kept and conserved,
in such a manner that your good name may be kept and conserved,
1864 and that men mowe have cause and mateere to preyse yow of pitee and of mercy,
and that men may have cause and matter to praise you for pity and for mercy,
1865 and that ye have no cause to repente yow of thyng that ye doon.
and that you have no cause to repent yourself of thing that you do.
1866 For Senec seith, `He overcometh in an yvel manere that repenteth hym of his victorie.'
For Seneca says, `He overcomes in an evil manner who repents himself of his victory.'
1867 Wherfore I pray yow, lat mercy been in youre herte,
Wherefore I pray you, let mercy be in your heart,
1868 to th' effect and entente that God Almighty have mercy on yow in his laste juggement.
to the effect and intent that God Almighty have mercy on you in his last judgment.
1869 For Seint Jame seith in his Epistle: `Juggement withouten mercy shal be doon
For Saint James says in his Epistle: `Judgment without mercy shall be done
1869A to hym that hath no mercy of another wight.'"
to him that has no mercy for another person.'"
1870 Whanne Melibee hadde herd the grete skiles and resouns of>/b>
When Melibee had heard the great logical arguments and reasons of
1870B dame Prudence, and hire wise informaciouns and techynges,
dame Prudence, and her wise counsels and teachings,
1871 his herte gan enclyne to the wil of his wif, considerynge hir trewe entente,
his heart began to incline to the will of his wife, considering her true intent,
1872 and conformed hym anon and assented fully to werken after hir conseil,
and conformed him immediately and assented fully to work according to her advice,
1873 and thonked God, of whom procedeth al vertu and alle goodnesse,
and thanked God, of whom proceeds all virtue and all goodness,
1873A that hym sente a wyf of so greet discrecioun.
that sent him a wife of so great discretion.
1874 And whan the day cam that his adversaries sholde appieren in his presence,
And when the day came that his adversaries should appear in his presence,
1875 he spak unto hem ful goodly, and seyde in this wyse:
he spoke unto them very goodly, and said in this manner:
1876 "Al be it so that of youre pride and heigh presumpcioun
"Although it be so that of your pride and high presumption
1876A and folie, and of youre necligence and unkonnynge,
and folly, and of your negligence and ignorance,
1877 ye have mysborn yow and trespassed unto me,
you have misbehaved yourself and trespassed unto me,
1878 yet for as muche as I see and biholde youre grete humylitee
yet forasmuch as I see and behold your great humility
1879 and that ye been sory and repentant of youre giltes,
and that you are sorry and repentant of your guilts,
1880 it constreyneth me to doon yow grace and mercy.
it constrains me to do you grace and mercy.
1881 Wherfore I receyve yow to my grace
Wherefore I receive you to my grace
1882 and foryeve yow outrely alle the offenses, injuries, and
and forgive you completely all the offenses, injuries, and
1882A wronges that ye have doon agayn me and myne,
wrongs that you have done against me and mine,
1883 to this effect and to this ende, that God of his endelees mercy
to this effect and to this end, that God of his endless mercy
1884 wole at the tyme of oure diynge foryeven us oure giltes
will at the time of our dying forgive us our guilts
1884A that we han trespassed to hym in this wrecched world.
that we have trespassed to him in this wretched world.
1885 For doutelees, if we be sory and repentant of the synnes and giltes which we han trespassed
For doubtless, if we are sorry and repentant of the sins and guilts which we have trespassed
1885A in the sighte of oure Lord God,
in the sight of our Lord God,
1886 he is so free and so merciable
he is so free and so merciful
1887 that he wole foryeven us oure giltes
that he will forgive us our guilts
1888 and bryngen us to the blisse that nevere hath ende." Amen.
and bring us to the bliss that never has end." Amen.
Heere is ended Chaucers Tale of Melibee and of Dame Prudence
Last modified: 13 Jan 2006
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