The Cloud of Unknowing, ed. by Evelyn Underhill, , at sacred-texts.com
How that the matter of this book is never more read or spoken, nor heard read or spoken, of a soul disposed thereto without feeling of a very accordance to the effect of the same work: and of rehearsing of the same charge that is written in the prologue.
AND if thee think that this manner of working be not according to thy disposition in body and in soul, thou mayest leave it and take another, safely with good ghostly counsel without blame. And then I beseech thee that thou wilt have me excused, for truly I would have profited unto thee in this writing at my simple cunning; and that was mine intent. And therefore read over twice or thrice; and ever the ofter the better, and the p. 309 more thou shalt conceive thereof. Insomuch, peradventure, that some sentence that was full hard to thee at the first or the second reading, soon after thou shalt think it easy.
Yea! and it seemeth impossible to mine understanding, that any soul that is disposed to this work should read it or speak it, or else hear it read or spoken, but if that same soul should feel for that time a very accordance to the effect of this work. And then if thee think it doth thee good, thank God heartily, and for God’s love pray for me.
Do then so. And I pray thee for God’s love that thou let none see this book, unless it be such one that thee think is like to the book; after that thou findest written in the book before, where it telleth what men and when they should work in this work. And if thou shalt let any such men see it, then I pray thee that thou bid them take them time to look it all over. For peradventure there is some p. 310 matter therein in the beginning, or in the midst, the which is hanging and not fully declared there as it standeth. But if it be not there, it is soon after, or else in the end. And thus if a man saw one part and not another, peradventure he should lightly be led into error: and therefore I pray thee to work as I say thee. And if thee think that there be any matter therein that thou wouldest have more opened than it is, let me wit which it is, and thy conceit thereupon; and at my simple cunning it shall be amended if I can.
Fleshly janglers, flatterers and blamers, ronkers and ronners, and all manner of pinchers, cared I never that they saw this book: for mine intent was never to write such thing to them. And therefore I would not that they heard it, neither they nor none of these curious lettered nor unlearned men: yea! although they be full good men in active living, for it accordeth not to them. p. 311