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The Canterbury Tales and Other Works of Chaucer (Middle English), by Geoffery Chaucer, [14th cent.], at


Book 4

 Whanne Philosophie hadde songen softly
 and delitably the forseide thinges, kepynge the
 dignyte of hir cheere and the weyghte of hir
 wordes, I, thanne, that ne hadde nat al outrely
 foryeten the wepynge and the moornynge that
 was set in myn herte, forbrak the entencioun of
 hir that entendede yit to seyn some othere
 thinges. "O," quod I, "thou that art gyderesse
 of verray light, the thinges that thou hast
10 seid me hidirto ben to me so cleer and so
 schewynge by the devyne lookynge of hem,
 and by thy resouns, that they ne mowen nat
 ben overcomen. And thilke thinges that thou
 toldest me, al be it so that I hadde whilom foryeten
 hem for the sorwe of the wrong that hath
 ben don to me, yet nathales thei ne weren not
 al outrely unknowen to me. But this same is
 namely a ryght gret cause of my sorwe: that so
 as the governour of thinges is good, yif
20 that eveles mowen ben by any weyes,
 or elles yif that evelis passen withouten
 punysschynge. The whiche thing oonly, how
 worthy it es to ben wondrid uppon, thou considerest
 it wel thiselve certeynly. But yit to this
 thing ther is yit another thing ijoyned more to
 ben wondrid uppon: for felonye is emperisse,
 and floureth ful of richesses, and vertu nis nat al
 oonly withouten meedes, but it is cast undir
 and fortroden undir the feet of felenous
30 folk, and it abyeth the tormentz in stede of
 wikkide felouns. Of alle whiche thinges
 ther nys no wyght that may merveillen ynowghe
 ne compleyne that swiche thinges ben don in
 the reigne of God, that alle things woot and
 alle thinges may and ne wole nat but only
 gode thinges."
 Thanne seide sche thus: "Certes," quod sche,
 "that were a greet merveille and an abaysschinge
 withouten ende, and wel more horrible than
40 alle monstres, yif it were as thou wenest;
 that is to seyn, that in the ryght ordene
 hous of so mochel a fadir and an ordeynour of
 meyne, that the vesselis that ben foule and vyl
 schulden ben honoured and heryed, and the
 precious vesselis schulden ben defouled and
 vyl. But it nys nat so. For yif the thinges that
 I have concluded a litel herebyforn ben kept
 hoole and unaraced, thou schalt wel knowe by
 the auctorite of God, of the whos reigne I
50 speke, that certes the gode folk ben alwey
 myghty and schrewes ben alwey outcast
 and feble; ne the vices ben neveremo withouten
 peyne, ne the vertus ne ben nat withouten
 mede; and that blisfulnesses comen alwey
 to good folk, and infortune comith alwey to
 wykkide folk. And thou schalt wel knowe
 manye thinges of this kynde, that schullen
 cesen thi pleyntis and strengthen the with stedfaste
 sadnesse. And for thou hast seyn the
60 forme of the verray blisfulnesse by me that
 have whilom yschewid it the, and thow
 hast knowen in whom blisfulnesse is yset, alle
 thingis ytreted that I trowe ben necessarie to
 putten forth, I schal schewe the the weye that
 schal bryngen the ayen unto thyn hous; and I
 schal fycchen fetheris in thi thought, by whiche
 it mai arisen in heighte; so that, alle tribulacioun
 idon awey, thow, by my gyding and by
 my path and by my sledys, shalt mowen
70 retourne hool and sownd into thi contree.
 "I have, forthi, swifte fetheris that surmounten
 the heighte of the hevene. Whanne
 the swift thoght hath clothid itself in tho
 fetheris, it despiseth the hateful erthes, and surmounteth
 the rowndenesse of the gret ayr; and
 it seth the clowdes byhynde his bak, and passeth
 the heighte of the regioun of the fir, that
 eschaufeth by the swifte moevynge of the firmament,
 til that he areyseth hym into the
10 houses that beren the sterres, and joyneth
 his weies with the sonne, Phebus, and
 felawschipeth the weie of the olde colde Saturnus;
 and he, imaked a knyght of the clere
 sterre (that is to seyn, whan the thought is
 makid Godis knyght by the sekynge of
 trouthe to comen to the verray knowleche of
 God) -- and thilke soule renneth by the cercle
 of the sterres in alle the places there as the
 schynynge nyght is ypainted (that is to
20 sey, the nyght that is cloudeles; for on
 nyghtes that ben cloudeles it semeth as
 the hevene were peynted with diverse ymages
 of sterres). And whan [that] he hath gon there
 inoghe, he schal forleten the laste point of the
 hevene, and he schal pressen and wenden on
 the bak of the swifte firmament, and he schal
 be makid parfit of the worschipful lyght [or]
 dredefulle clerenesse of God. There halt the
 lord of kynges the septre of his myght and
30 atemprith the governementz of the world,
 and the schynynge juge of thinges, stable in
 hymself, governeth the swifte cart or wayn (that
 is to seyn, the circuler moevynge of the sonne).
 And yif thi wey ledeth the ayein so that thou be
 brought thider, thanne wiltow seye now that
 that is the contre that thou requerist, of whiche
 thow ne haddest no mynde -- `but now it
 remembreth me wel, here was I born, her wol
 I fastne my degree, here wol I duelle.' But
40 yif the liketh thanne to looken on the
 derknesse of the erthe that thou hast
 forleten, thanne shaltow seen that these felonus
 tirantz, that the wrecchide peple dredeth now,
 schullen ben exiled fro thilke faire contre."
 Thanne seide I thus: "Owh! I wondre me
 that thow byhetist me so grete thinges. Ne I
 ne doute nat that thou ne maist wel parforme
 that thow behetist; but I preie the oonly this,
 that thow ne tarie nat to telle me thilke thinges
 that thou hast moevid."
 "First," quod sche, "thow most nedes knowen
 that good folk ben alwey strong and myghti,
 and the schrewes ben feble and desert and
10 naked of alle strengthes. And of thise
 thinges, certes, everiche of hem is declared
 and schewed by other. For so as good and
 yvel ben two contraries, yif so be that good be
 stedfast, thanne scheweth the feblesse of yvel
 al opynly; and yif thow knowe clerly the freelnesse
70-ch 16 of yvel, the stedfastnesse of good is
 knowen. But for as moche as the fey of my
 sentence schal ben the more ferme and haboundant,
 I wil gon by the to weye and by the
20 tothir, and I wil conferme the thinges that
 ben purposed, now on this side and now on
 that side.
 "Two thinges ther ben in whiche the effect of
 alle the dedes of mankynde standeth (that is to
 seyn, wil and power); and yif that oon of thise
 two faileth, ther nys nothing that may be doon.
 For yif that wille lakketh, ther nys no wyght that
 undirtaketh to done that he wol nat doon; and
 yif power faileth, the wil nys but in idel and
30 stant for naught. And therof cometh it that
 yif thou see a wyght that wolde geten that
 he mai not geten, thow maist nat douten that
 power ne faileth hym to have that he wolde."
 "This is open and cler," quod I, "ne it ne mai
70-ch 35 nat be denyed in no manere."
 "And yif thou se a wyght," quod sche, "that
 hath doon that he wolde doon, thow nilt nat
 douten that he ne hath had power to doon it?"
 "No," quod I.
40 "And in that that every wyght may, in
 that men may holden hym myghti. (As
 who seith, in so moche as a man is myghty to
 doon a thing, in so mochel men halt hym
 myghti.) And in that that he ne mai, in that men
 demen hym to ben feble."
 "I confesse it wel," quod I.
 "Remembreth the," quod sche, "that I have
70-ch 48 gaderid and ischewid by forseide resouns that al
 the entencioun of the wil of mankynde,
50 whiche that is lad by diverse studies,
 hasteth to comen to blisfulnesse."
70-ch 52 "It remembreth me wel," quod I, "that it hath
 ben schewed."
 "And recordeth the nat thanne," quod sche,
 "that blisfulnesse is thilke same good that men
 requiren, so that whanne that blisfulnesse is
 required of alle, that good also is required and
 desired of alle?"
70-ch 59 "It ne recordeth me noght," quod I, "for
60 I have it gretly alwey ficched in my memorie."
 "Alle folk thanne," quod sche, "goode and
 eek badde, enforcen hem withoute difference of
 entencioun to comen to good."
 "This is a verray consequence," quod I.
 "And certein is," quod sche, "that by the
70-ch 67 getynge of good ben men ymakid gode."
 "This is certein," quod I.
 "Thanne geten gode men that thei desiren?"
 "So semeth it," quod I.
 "But wikkide folk," quod sche, "yif thei geten
 the good that thei desiren, thei ne mowe nat
 ben wikkid."
 "So is it," quod I.
 "Than so as the ton and the tothir," quod
 sche, "desiren good, and the gode folk geten
 good and not the wikkide folk, than is it no
 doute that the gode folk ne ben myghty
80 and wikkid folk ben feble."
 "Whoso that evere," quod I, "douteth
 of this, he ne mai nat considere the nature of
 thinges ne the consequence of resouns."
 "And over this," quod sche, "if that ther ben
 two thinges that han o same purpos by kynde,
 and that oon of hem pursuweth and performeth
 thilke same thing by naturel office, and the
 tother mai nat doon thilke naturel office, but
 folweth, by other manere than is covenable
90 to nature, hym that acomplisseth his purpos
70-ch 91 kyndely, and yit he ne acomplisseth
 nat his owene purpos -- whethir of thise two
 demestow for more myghti?"
 "Yif that I conjecte," quod I, "that thou wilt
 seie, algates yit I desire to herkne it more
 pleynly of the."
 "Thou nilt nat thanne denye," quod sche,
 "that the moevement of goynge nys in men by
100 "No, forsothe," quod I.
 "Ne thou ne doutest nat," quod sche,
 "that thilke naturel office of goinge ne be the
 office of feet?"
 "I ne doute it nat," quod I.
 "Thanne," quod sche, "yif that a wight be
 myghti to moeve, and goth uppon hise feet, and
 another, to whom thilke naturel office of feet
 lakketh, enforceth hym to gone crepinge uppon
70-ch 109 his handes, whiche of thise two oughte to
110 ben holden the more myghty by right?"
 "Knyt forth the remenaunt," quod I,
 "for no wight ne douteth that he that mai gon
70-ch 113 by naturel office of feet ne be more myghti than
 he that ne may nat."
 "But the soverein good," quod sche, "that is
 eveneliche purposed to the good folk and to
 badde, the gode folk seken it by naturel office of
 vertus, and the schrewes enforcen hem to getin
 it by diverse coveytise of erthly thinges,
70-ch 120 whiche that nys noon naturel office to gete
 thilke same soverein good. Trowestow that
 it be any other wise?"
 "Nai," quod I, "for the consequence is opene
 and schewynge of thinges that I have graunted,
70-ch 125 that nedes good folk moten be myghty, and
 schrewes feble and unmyghti."
 "Thou rennist aryght byforn me," quod sche,
 "and this is the jugement (that is to sein, I juge
70-ch 129 of the), ryght as thise leches ben wont to
130 hopin of sike folk, whan thei aperceyven
 that nature is redressed and withstondeth
 to the maladye. But for I se the now al redy to
 the undirstondynge, I schal schewe the more
 thikke and contynuel resouns. For loke now,
 how greetly scheweth the feblesse and infirmite
 of wikkid folk, that ne mowen nat comen to that
 hir naturel entencioun ledeth hem; and yit
 almest thilke naturel entencioun constreyneth
 hem. And what were to demen thanne of
140 schrewes, yif thilk naturel help hadde
 forleten hem, the whiche naturel help of
70-ch 142 entencioun goth alwey byforn hem and is so gret
 that unnethe it mai ben overcome? Considere
 thanne how gret defaute of power and how gret
 feblesse ther is in wikkide felonous folke. (As
 who seith, the grettere thing that is coveyted
 and the desir nat acomplissed, of the lasse
 myght is he that coveyteth it and mai nat
 acomplisse; and forthi Philosophie seith
150 thus be sovereyn good.) Ne schrewes ne
 requeren not lighte meedes ne veyne
 games, whiche thei ne mai nat folwen ne holden;
 but thei failen of thilke somme and of the
 heighte of thinges (that is to seyn, soverein
 good). Ne these wrecches ne comen nat to the
 effect of sovereyn good, the whiche thei enforcen
 hem oonly to geten by nyghtes and by
70-ch 158 dayes. In the getyng of whiche good the
 strengthe of good folk is ful wel yseene.
160 For ryght so as thou myghtest demen hym
 myghty of goinge that goth on his feet til
70-ch 162 he myghte comen to thilke place fro the whiche
 place ther ne laye no weie forthere to be gon,
 ryght so mostow nedes demen hym for ryght
 myghty, that geteth and atteyneth to the ende of
 alle thinges that ben to desire, byyonde the
 whiche ende ther nys no thing to desire. Of the
 whiche power of good folk men mai conclude
70-ch 169 that the wikkide men semen to be bareyne
170 and naked of alle strengthe.
 "For whi forleten thei vertus and folwen
 vices? Nys it nat for that thei ne knowen nat the
 godes? But what thing is more feble and more
 caytif than is the blyndnesse of ignorance? Or
 elles thei knowen ful wel whiche thinges that
 thei oughten folwe, but lecherie and covetise
 overthroweth hem mystorned. And certes so
 doth distempraunce to feble men, that ne
 mowen nat wrastlen ayen the vices. Ne
180 knowen thei nat thanne wel that thei
 forleten the good wilfully, and turnen hem
 wilfully to vices?
 "And in this wise thei ne forleten nat oonly to
 ben myghti, but thei forleten al outrely in any
 wise for to been. For thei that forleten the
 comune fyn of alle thinges that ben, thei forleten
 also therwithal for to been. And peraventure
70-ch 188 it scholde seme to som folk that this were
 a merveile to seien, that schrewes, whiche
190 that contenen the more partie of men, ne
 ben nat ne han no beynge; but natheles it
70-ch 192 is so, and thus stant this thing. For thei that Bo4 p2 ben
 schrewes I denye nat that they ben schrewes, but
 I denye and seie simply and pleynly that thei ne
 ben nat, ne han no beynge. For right as thou
 myghtest seyn of the careyne of a man, that it
 were a deed man, but thou ne myghtest nat
 symply callen it a man; so graunte I wel forsothe
70-ch 199 that vicyous folk ben wikkid, but I ne may
200 nat graunten absolutly and symply that thei
 ben. For thilke thing that withholdeth
 ordre and kepeth nature, thilke thing es, and
 hath beinge; but what thing that faileth of
 that (that is to seyn, he that forleteth naturel
 ordre), he forleteth thilke beinge that is set in his
70-ch 206 nature.
 "But thow wolt seyn that schrewes mowen.
 Certes, that ne denye I nat; but certes hir
 power ne desscendeth nat of strengthe,
210 but of feblesse. For thei mowen don
 wikkydnesses, the whiche thei ne myghten
 nat don yif thei myghten duellen in the forme
 and in the doynge of good folk. And thilke
 power scheweth ful evidently that they ne
70-ch 215 mowen ryght nat. For so as I have gadrid
 and proevid a litil herebyforn that evel is
 nawght, and so as schrewes mowen oonly but
 schrewednesses, this conclusion is al cler, that
 schrewes ne mowen ryght nat, ne han no
220 power.
 "And for as moche as thou undirstonde
 which is the strengthe of this power of schrewes,
 I have diffinysched a litil herbyforn that no thing
 is so myghti as sovereyn good."
 "That is soth," quod I.
 "And thilke same sovereyn good may don
 noon yvel?"
 "Certes, no," quod I.
 "Is ther any wyght thanne," quod sche,
230 "that weneth that men mowen don alle
 "No man," quod I, "but yif he be out of his
 "But certes schrewes mowen don evel?" quod
 "Ye. Wolde God," quod I, "that thei ne
 myghten don noon!"
 "Thanne," quod sche, "so as he that is myghty
 to doon oonly but goode thinges mai doon
240 alle thinges, and thei that ben myghti to
 doon yvele thinges ne mowen nat alle
 thinges, thanne is it open thing and manyfest
 that thei that mowen doon yvele ben of lasse
 "And yit to proeve this conclusioun ther
 helpeth me this, that I have schewed herebyforn,
 that alle power is to be noumbred among
 thinges that men oughten requere; and I have
 schewed that alle thinges that oughten ben
250 desired ben referred to good, ryght as to a
 maner heighte of hir nature. But for to
 mowen don yvel and felonye ne mai nat ben
 referrid to good; thanne nys nat yvel of the
 nombre of thinges that oughten ben desired.
 But alle power aughte ben desired and requerid;
 thanne is it open and cler that the power ne the
 mowynge of schrewes nis no power.
 "And of alle thise thinges it scheweth wel that
 the gode folk ben certeinli myghty, and the
260 schrewes doutelees ben unmyghty. And
 it is cler and opene that thilke sentence
 of Plato is verray and soth, that seith that
 oonly wise men may doon that thei desiren,
 and schrewes mowen haunten that hem liketh,
 but that thei desiren (that is to seyn, to come
 to sovereyn good), thei ne han no power to
 acomplissen that. For schrewes don that hem lyst
 whan, by tho thinges in whiche thei deliten, thei
 wenen to ateynen to thilke good that thei
270 desiren; but thei ne geten ne ateyne nat
 therto, for vices ne comen nat to blisfulnesse.
 "Whoso that the coverturis of hir veyn apparailes
 myghte strepen of thise proude kynges,
 that thow seest sitten an hye in here chayeres,
 gliterynge in schynynge purpre, envyrowned
 with sorwful armures, manasyng with cruel
 mowth, blowynge by woodnesse of herte, he
 schulde seen thanne that thilke lordis berin
 withynne hir corages ful streyte cheynes. For
 lecherye tormenteth hem on that o side
10 with gredy venymes; and trowblable ire,
 that areyseth in hem the floodes of trowblynges,
 tormenteth upon that othir side hir
 thought; or sorwe halt hem wery and icawght,
 or slidynge and desceyvynge hope turmenteth
 hem. And therfore, syn thow seest on heved
 (that is to seyn, o tiraunt) beren so manye
 tyranyes, than ne doth thilke tyraunt nat that he
 desireth, syn he is cast doun with so manye
 wikkide lordes (that is to seyn, with so
20 manye vices that han so wikkidly lordschipes
 over hym).
 "Seestow nat thanne in how greet filthe thise
 schrewes been iwrapped, and with which clernesse
 thise gode folk schynen? In this scheweth
 it wel that to good folk ne lakketh neveremo
 hir meedes, ne schrewes ne lakken neveremo
 turmentes. For of alle thinges that ben idoon,
 thilke thing for which any thing is doon, it
 semeth as by ryght that thilke thing be the
 mede of that; as thus, yif a man renneth in
10 the stadye or in the forlonge for the
 corone, thanne lith the mede in the coroune
 for whiche he renneth. And I have schewed
 that blisfulnesse is thilke same good for whiche
 that alle thinges ben doon; thanne is thilke
 same good purposed to the werkes of mankynde
 right as a comune mede, which mede ne
 may nat ben disseveryd fro good folk. For no
 wight as by ryght, fro thennesforth that hym
 lakketh goodnesse, ne schal ben cleped
20 good. For whiche thing folk of gode maneres,
 hir medes ne forsaken hem neveremo.
 For al be it so that schrewes waxen as wode
 as hem lyst ayein good folk, yit natheles the
 coroune of wise men ne schal nat fallen ne
 faden; for foreyne schrewednesse ne bynemeth
 nat fro the corages of good folk hir propre
 honour. But yif that any wyght rejoysede hym
 of goodnesse that he hadde taken fro withoute
 (as who seith, yif any man hadde his goodnesse
30 of any other man than of hymself),
 certes he that yaf hym thilke goodnesse, or
 elles som other wyght, myghte benymen it
 hym. But for as moche as to every wyght his
 owene propre bounte yeveth hym his mede,
 thanne at erste schal he failen of mede whan
 he forletith to ben good. And at the laste, so
 as alle medes ben requerid for men wenen that
 thei ben gode, who is he that nolde deme that
 he that is ryght myghti of good were partlees
40 of the mede? And of what mede schal
 he ben gerdoned? Certes of ryght fair
 mede and ryght greet aboven alle medes. Remembre
 the of thilke noble corrolarie that I
 yaf the a litel herebyforn, and gadre it togidre
 in this manere: so as good [hytself] is blisfulnesse,
 thanne is it cler and certein that alle
 gode folk ben imaked blisful for thei ben gode;
 and thilke folk that ben blisful it accordeth and
 is covenable to ben goddes. Thanne is the
50 mede of good folk swych that no day ne
 schal empeiren it, ne no wikkidnesse schal
 derkne it, ne power of no wyght ne schal nat
 amenusen it; that is to seyn, to ben maked
 goddes. And syn it is thus (that gode men ne
 failen neveremo of hir mede), certes no wise man
 ne may doute of the undepartable peyne of
 schrewes (that is to seyn, that the peyne of
 schrewes ne departeth nat from hemself neveremo).
 For so as good and yvel, and peyne and
60 medes, ben contrarie, it moot nedes ben
 that, ryght as we seen betyden in guerdoun
 of gode, that also moot the peyne of yvel answere
 by the contrarie partie to schrewes. Now
 thanne, so as bounte and pruesse ben the mede
 to good folk, also is schrewidnesse itself torment
 to schrewes. Thanne whoso that evere is
 entecchid or defouled with peyne, he ne douteth
 nat that he nys entecchid and defouled
 with yvel. Yif schrewes thanne wol preysen
70 hemself, may it semen to hem that thei ben
 withouten parti of torment, syn thei ben
 swiche that the uttreste wikkidnesse (that is to
 seyn, wikkide thewes, which that is the uttereste
 and the worst kynde of schrewednesse)
 ne defouleth ne enteccheth nat hem oonly, but
 enfecteth and envenymeth hem greetly? And
 also loke on schrewes, that ben the contrarie
 partie of gode men, how gret peyne felawschipith
 and folweth hem! For thou hast
80 lerned a litil herebyforn that alle thing that
 is and hath beynge is oon, and thilke same
 oon is good: than is this the consequence, that
 it semeth wel that al that is and hath beynge
 is good. (This is to seyn, as who seith that
 beinge and unite and goodnesse is al oon.)
 And in this manere it folweth thanne that alle
 thing that fayleth to ben good, it stynteth for
 to be and for to han any beynge. Wherfore it
 es that schrewes stynten for to ben that
90 thei weeren. But thilke othir forme [of] [the]
 [body] of mankynde (that is to seyn, the
 [forme] withowte) scheweth yit that thise
 schrewes weren whilom men. Wherfore, whan
 thei ben perverted and turned into malice,
 certes, thanne have thei forlorn the nature of
 mankynde. But so as oonly bownte and prowesse
 may enhawnsen every man over othere
 men, than moot it nedes be that schrewes,
 whiche that schrewednesse hath cast out of
100 the condicion of mankynde, ben put undir
 the merit and the dissert of men. Than
 betidith it that, yif thou seest a wyght that be
 transformed into vices, thow ne mayst nat wene
 that he be a man. For if he be ardaunt in avaryce,
 and that he be a ravynour by violence of foreyne
 richesse, thou schalt seyn that he is lik to the
 wolf; and if he be felonows and withoute reste,
 and exercise his tonge to chidynges, thow schalt
 likne hym to the hownd; and if he be a
110 pryve awaytour yhid, and rejoiseth hym to
 ravyssche be wiles, thow schalt seyn hym
 lik to the fox whelpes; and yif he be distempre,
 and quakith for ire, men schal wene that he
 bereth the corage of a lyoun; and yif he be
 dredful and fleynge, and dredith thinges that ne
 aughte nat to ben dredd, men schal holden hym
 lik to the hert; and yf he be slow, and astonyd,
 and lache, he lyveth as an asse; yif he be lyght
 and unstedfast of corage and chaungith ay
120 his studies, he is likned to briddes; and if he
 be ploungid in fowle and unclene luxuris,
 he is withholden in the foule delices of the fowle
 sowe. Than folweth it that he that forleteth
 bounte and prowesse, he forletith to ben a man;
 syn he ne may nat passe into the condicion of
 God, he is torned into a beeste.
 "Eurus, the wynd, aryved the sayles of Ulixes,
 duc of the cuntre of Narice, and his wandrynge
 shippes by the see, into the ile theras
 Cerces, the faire goddesse, dowhter of the
 sonne, duelleth, that medleth to hir newe
 gestes drynkes that ben touchid and makid
 with enchauntementz. And aftir that hir hand,
 myghti over the erbes, hadde chaunged hir
 gestes into diverse maneres, that oon of
10 hem is coverid his face with forme of a
 boor; the tother is chaungid into a lyoun
 of the contre of Marmoryke, and his nayles and
 his teth waxen; that oother of hem is newliche
 chaunged into a wolf, and howleth whan he
 wolde wepe; that other goth debonayrely in
 the hows as a tigre of Inde. But al be it so
 that the godhede of Mercurie, that is cleped
 the bridde of Arcadye, hath had merci of the
 duc Ulixes, bysegid with diverse yveles,
20 and hath unbownden hym fro the pestilence
 of his oostesse, algates the rowerys
 and the maryneres hadden by this idrawen into
 hir mouthes and dronken the wikkide drynkes.
 Thei that weren woxen swyn hadden by this
 ichaunged hir mete of breed for to eten akkornes
 of ookes. Noon of hir lymes ne duelleth
 with hem hool, but thei han lost the voys
 and the body; oonly hir thought duelleth with
 hem stable, that wepeth and bywayleth the
30 monstruous chaungynge that thei suffren.
 O overlyght hand! (As who seith. O
 feble and light is the hand of Circes the enchaunteresse,
 that chaungith the bodyes of
 folk into beestes, to regard and to comparysoun
 of mutacioun that is makid by vices!)
 Ne the herbes of Circes ne ben nat myghty.
 For al be it so that thei mai chaungen the
 lymes of the body, algates yit thei may nat
 chaungen the hertes. For withinne is ihidd
40 the strengthe and the vygour of men, in the
 secre tour of hir hertes, (that is to seyn, the
 strengthe of resoun); but thilke venyms of vices
 todrawen a man to hem more myghtely than
 the venym of Circes. For vices ben so cruel
 that they percen and thurw-passen the corage
 withinne; and, thoughe thei ne anoye nat the
 body, yit vices woden to destroyen men by
 wounde of thought."
 Thanne seide I thus: "I confesse and am
 aknowe it," quod I, "ne I ne se nat that men
 may seyn as by ryght that schrewes ne ben
 chaunged into beestes by the qualite of hir
 soules, al be it so that thei kepin yit the forme
 of the body of mankynde. But I nolde nat of
 schrewes, of whiche the thought crwel woodeth
 alwey into destruccion of gode men, that
 it were leveful to hem to don that."
10 "Certes," quod sche, "ne it is nat leveful
 to hem, as I schal wel schewen the in covenable
 place. But natheles, yif so were that
 thilke that men wenen ben leveful to schrewes
 were bynomyn hem, so that they ne myghte
 nat anoyen or doon harm to gode men, certes
 a gret partie of the peyne to schrewes scholde
 ben alegged and releved. For al be it so that
 this ne seme nat credible thing peraventure to
 some folk, yit moot it nedes be that
20 schrewes ben more wrecches and unsely
 whan thei mai doon and parforme that
 thei coveyten, than yif thei ne myghte nat
 acomplissen that thei coveiten. For yif so
 be that it be wrecchidnesse to wilne to doon
 yvel, thanne is it more wrecchidnesse to mowe
 don yvel, withoute whiche mowynge the wrecchid
 wil scholde langwisse withouten effect.
 Thanne syn that everiche of thise thinges hath his
 wrecchidnesse (that is to seyn, wil to don
30 ivel and mowynge to don yvel), it moot
 nedes be that schrewes ben constreyned by
 thre unselynesses, that wolen, and mowen, and
 parformen felonyes and schrewednesses."
 "I acorde me," quod I; "but I desire gretly
 that schrewes losten sone thilke unselynesses,
 that is to seyn, that schrewes weren despoyled
 of mowynge to don yvel."
 "So schollen thei," quod sche, "sonnere peraventure
 than thou woldest, or sonnere
40 than they hemselve wene. For ther nis
 nothing so late, in so schorte bowndes of
 this lif, that is long to abyde, nameliche to a corage
 immortel. Of whiche schrewes the grete
 hope and the heye compassynges of schrewednesses
 is ofte destroyed by a sodeyn ende, or
 thei ben war; and that thing establisseth to
 schrewes the ende of hir schrewednesse. For
 yf that schrewednesse makith wrecches, than
 mot he nedes ben moost wrecchide that
50 lengest is a schrewe. The whiche wikkide
 schrewes wolde I demen althermost unsely
 and kaytifs, yif that hir schrewednesse ne were
 fynissched at the leste weye by the owtreste
 deth; for yif I have concluded soth of the unselynesse
 of schrewednesse, thanne schewith it
 clerly that thilke wrecchidnesse is withouten
 ende the whiche is certein to ben perdurable."
 "Certes," quod I, "this conclusioun is hard and
 wondirful to graunte; but I knowe wel
60 that it accordeth moche to the thinges that
 I have grauntid herebiforn."
 "Thou hast," quod sche, "the ryght estimacion
 of this. But whosoevere wene that it be
 an hard thing to accorde hym to a conclusioun,
 it is ryght that he schewe that some
 of the premysses ben false, or elles he mot
 schewe that the collacioun of proposicions
 nis nat spedful to a necessarie conclusioun;
 and yif it ne be nat so, but that the premisses
70 ben ygraunted, ther nys nat why he
 scholde blame the argument. For this thing
 that I schal telle the now ne schal nat seme
 lesse wondirful, but of the thingis that ben
 taken also it is necessarie." (As who seith, it
 folweth of that which that is purposed byforn.)
 "What is that?" quod I.
 "Certes," quod sche, "that is that thise wikkid
 schrewes ben more blisful, or elles
80 lasse wrecches, that abyen the tormentz
 that thei han desservid, than if no peyne of
 justise ne chastisede hem. Ne this ne seie I
 nat now for that any man myghte thinke that
 the maneris of schrewes ben coriged and chastised
 by vengeaunce and that thei ben brought
 to the ryghte weye by the drede of the torment,
 ne for that they yeven to other folk ensaumple
 to fleen fro vices; but I undirstonde yit in another
 manere that schrewes ben more unsely
90 whan thei ne ben nat punyssched, al
 be it so that ther ne be hadde no resoun or
 lawe of correccioun, ne noon ensample of
 "And what manere schal that be," quod I,
 "other than hath ben told herbyforn?"
 "Have we nat thanne graunted," quod sche,
 "that good folk ben blisful and schrewes ben
 "Yis," quod I.
100 "Thanne," quod sche, "yif that any good
 were added to the wrecchidnesse of any
 wyght, nis he nat more blisful than he that
 ne hath no medlynge of good in his solitarie
 "So semeth it," quod I.
 "And what seistow thanne," quod sche, "of
 thilke wrecche that lakketh alle goodes so that
 no good nys medlyd in his wrecchidnesse,
 and yit over al his wikkidnesse, for which
110 he is a wrecche, that ther be yit another
 yvel anexed and knyt to hym -- schal nat
 men demen hym more unsely thanne thilke
 wrecche of whiche the unselynesse is relevid by
 the participacioun of som good?"
 "Why sholde he nat?" quod I.
 "Thanne certes," quod sche, "han schrewes,
 whan thei ben punyschid, somwhat of good
 anexid to hir wrecchidnesse (that is to seyn, the
 same peyne that thei suffren, which that is
120 good by the resoun of justice); and whanne
 thilke same schrewes ascapen withouten
 torment, than han they somwhat more of yvel
 yit over the wikkidnesse that thei han don, that
 is to seyn, defaute of peyne, whiche defaute of
 peyne thou hast grauntid is yvel for the disserte
 of felonye?"
 "I ne may nat denye it," quod I.
 "Moche more thanne," quod sche, "ben
 schrewes unsely whan thei ben wrongfully
130 delivred fro peyne, thanne whan thei
 ben punyschid by ryghtful vengeaunce.
 But this is opene thing and cleer, that it is ryght
 that schrewes ben punyschid, and it is wikkidnesse
 and wrong that thei escapen unpunyschid."
 "Who myghte denye that?" quod I.
 "But," quod sche, "may any man denye that
 al that is ryght nis good, and also the contrarie,
 that al that is wrong is wikke?"
140 "Certes," quod I, "thise thinges ben
 clere ynowe, and [folwen that] that we han
 concluded a lytel herebyforn. But I preye the
 that thow telle me, yif thow accordest to leten
 no torment to the soules aftir that the body is
 ended by the deeth?" (This to seyn, "Undirstondestow
 aught that soules han any
 torment aftir the deeth of the body?")
 "Certes," quod sche, "ye, and that ryght
 greet. Of whiche soules," quod sche, "I
150 trowe that some ben tormented by asprenesse
 of peyne, and some soules I trowe
 ben excercised by a purgynge mekenesse; but
 my conseil nys nat to determyne of thise peynes.
 "But I have travailed and told yit hiderto for
 thou scholdest knowe that the mowynge of
 schrewes, whiche mowynge the semeth to ben
 unworthy, nis no mowynge; and ek of schrewes,
 of whiche thou pleynedest that they ne were nat
 punysschid, that thow woldest seen that
160 thei ne were neveremo withouten the
 tormentz of hir wikkidnesse; and of the
 licence of mowynge to don yvel that thou
 preyedest that it myghte sone ben ended, and
 that thou woldest fayn lernen that it ne sholde
 nat longe endure, and that schrewes ben more
 unsely yif thei were of lengere durynge, and
 most unsely yif thei weren perdurable. And aftir
 this I have schewyd the that more unsely ben
 schrewes whan thei escapen withouten hir
170 ryghtful peyne thanne whan thei ben
 punyschid by ryghtful venjaunce; and of
 this sentence folweth it that thanne ben schrewes
 constreyned at the laste with most grevous
 torment, whan men wene that thei ne ben nat
 "Whan I considere thi resouns," quod I, "I ne
 trowe nat that men seyn any thing more
 verrayly. And yif I turne ayein to the studies of
 men, who is he to whom it sholde seme that
180 he ne scholde nat oonly leven thise thinges,
 but ek gladly herkne hem?"
 "Certes," quod sche, "so it es -- but men may
 nat. For they have hir eien so wont to the
 derknesse of erthly thinges that they ne may nat
 lyften hem up to the light of cler sothfastnesse,
 but thei ben lyk to briddes of whiche the nyght
 lightneth hir lokynge and the day blendith hem.
 For whan men loke nat the ordre of thinges, but
 hir lustes and talentz, they wene that either
190 the leve or the mowynge to don wikkidnesse,
 or elles the scapynge withouten
 peyne be weleful.
 "But considere the jugement of the perdurable
 lawe. For yif thou conferme thi corage to the
 beste thinges, thow ne hast noon nede of no juge
 to yeven the prys or mede; for thow hast joyned
 thiself to the most excellent thing. And yif thow
 have enclyned thi studies to the wikkide thinges,
 ne seek no foreyne wrekere out of thiself;
200 for thow thiself hast thrist thiself into wikke
 thinges, ryght as thow myghtest loken by
 diverse tymes the fowle erthe and the hevene,
 and that alle othere thinges stynten fro withoute,
 so that thow nere neyther in [hevene] ne in
 erthe, ne saye no thyng more; thanne scholde it
 semen to the as by oonly resoun of lokynge that
 thow were now in the sterres, and now in the
 erthe. But the peple ne loketh nat on these
 thinges. What thanne? Schal we thanne
210 approchen us to hem that I have schewed
 that thei ben lyke to beestes? And what
 wyltow seyn of this: yif that a man hadde al
 forlorn his syghte, and hadde foryeten that he
 evere sawhe, and wende that no thing ne faylede
 hym of perfeccioun of mankynde; now we that
 myghten sen the same thinges -- wolde we nat
 wene that he were blynd? Ne also ne accordeth
 nat the peple to that I schal seyn, the whiche
 thing is sustenyd by as stronge foundementz
220 of resouns, that is to seyn, that
 more unsely ben they that doon wrong to
 othere folk, than they that the wrong suffren."
 "I wolde here thilke same resouns," quod I.
 "Denyestow," quod sche, "that alle schrewes
 ne ben worthy to han torment?"
 "Nay," quod I.
 "But," quod sche, "I am certein by many
 resouns that schrewes ben unsely."
 "It accordeth," quod I.
230 "Thanne ne dowtestow nat," quod sche,
 "that thilke folk that ben worthy of
 torment, that they ne ben wrecches?"
 "It accordeth wel," quod I.
 "Yif thou were thanne iset a juge or a
 knowere of thinges, whethir trowestow that men
 scholden tormenten, hym that hath don the
 wrong or elles hym that hath suffred the
 "I ne doute nat," quod I, "that I nolde
240 doon suffisaunt satisfaccioun to hym that
 hadde suffrid the wrong, by the sorwe of
 hym that hadde doon the wrong."
 "Thanne semeth it," quod sche, "that the
 doere of wrong is more wrecche than he that
 hath suffride wrong?"
 "That folweth wel," quod I.
 "Than," quod sche, "by thise causes and by
 othere causes that ben enforced by the same
 roote, that filthe [of] synne be the propre
250 nature of it maketh men wrecches, [it]
 scheweth wel that the wrong that men
 doon nis nat the wrecchidnesse of hym that
 resceyveth the wrong, but the wrecchidnesse of
 hym that dooth the wrong. But certes," quod
 sche, "thise oratours or advocattes don al the
 contrarie; for thei enforcen hem to commoeve
 the juges to han pite of hem that han suffrid
 and resceyved the thinges that ben grevous
 and aspre, and yit men scholden more
260 ryghtfully han pite of hem that doon the
 grevances and the wronges: the whiche
 schrewes it were a more covenable thing that the
 accusours or advocattes, nat wrooth but pytous
 and debonayre, ledden tho schrewes that han
 don wrong to the jugement ryght as men leden
 syke folk to the leche, for that thei sholden seken
 out the maladyes of synne by torment. And
 by this covenant, eyther the entent of the
 deffendours or advocatz sholde fayle and
270 cesen in al, or elles, yif the office of
 advocatz wolde betre profiten to men, it
 sholde be torned into the habyte of accusacioun.
 (That is to seyn, thei scholden accuse
 schrewes, and nat excusen hem.) And eek the
 schrewes hemself, yif it were leveful to hem to
 seen at any clifte the vertu that thei han forleten,
 and sawen that they scholden putten adoun the
 filthes of hir vices by the tormentz of peynes,
 they ne aughten nat, ryght for the
280 recompensacioun for to geten hem bounte
 and prowesse whiche that thei han lost,
 demen ne holden that thilke peynes weren
 tormentz to hem; and eek thei wolden refuse the
 attendaunce of hir advocattz, and taken hemself
 to hir juges and to hir accusours. For whiche it
 betydeth that, as to the wise folk, ther nis no
 place yleten to hate (that is to seyn, that hate
 ne hath no place among wise men); for no
 wyght nil haten gode men, but yif he were
290 overmochel a fool, and for to haten
 schrewes it nis no resoun. For ryght so as
 langwissynge is maladye of body, ryght so ben
 vices and synne maladye of corage; and so as we
 ne deme nat that they that ben sike of hir body
 ben worthy to ben hated, but rather worthy of
 pite; wel more worthy nat to ben hated, but
 for to ben had in pite, ben thei of whiche
 the thoughtes ben constreyned by felonous
 wikkidnesse, that is more crwel than any
300 langwissynge of body.
 "What deliteth yow to exciten so grete moevynges
 of hatredes, and to hasten and bysien
 the fatal disposicioun of your deth with your
 propre handes (that is to seyn, by batayles or
 contek)? For yif ye axen the deth, it hasteth
 hym of his owene wil, ne deth ne taryeth nat
 his swifte hors. And the men that the serpent,
 and the lyoun, and the tigre, and the
 bere, and the boor, seken to sleen with hir
10 teeth, yit thilke same men seken to sleen
 everiche of hem oothir with swerd. Lo, for
 hir maneres ben diverse and discordaunt, thei
 moeven unryghtful oostes and cruel batayles,
 and wilnen to perise by entrechaungynge of
 dartes! But the resoun of cruelte nis nat inowhe
 ryghtful. Wiltow thanne yelden a covenable
 gerdoun to the dissertes of men? Love ryghtfully
 good folk, and have pite on schrewes."
 "Thus se I wel," quod I, "eyther what blisfulnesse
 or elles what unselynesse is establisshid
 in the dissertes of gode men and of
 schrewes. But in this ilke fortune of peple I
 se somwhat of good and somwhat of yvel. For
 no wise man hath nat levere ben exiled, pore
 and nedy and nameles, thanne for to duellen
 in his cyte, and flouren of rychesses, and be
 redowtable by honour and strong of power.
10 For in this wise more clerly and more witnesfully
 is the office of wise men ytreted,
 whanne the blisfulnesse and the pouste of
 gouvernours is, as it ware, ischadde among peples
 that ben neyghbors and subgitz; syn that
 namely prisown, lawe, and thise othere tormentz
 of laweful peynes ben rather owed to
 felonus citezeins, for the whiche felonus citezeens
 tho peynes ben establisschid than for
 good folk.
20 "Thanne I merveile me gretly," quod I,
 "why that the thinges ben so mysentrechaunged
 that tormentz of felonyes pressen and
 confounden good folk, and schrewes ravysschen
 medes of vertu and ben in honours
 and in grete estatz; and I desire eek for to
 witen of the what semeth the to be the resoun
 of this so wrongful a confusioun; for I wolde
 wondre wel the lasse, yif I trowede that alle
 thise thinges weren medled by fortunows
30 hap. But now hepith and encreseth myn
 astonyenge God, governour of thinges,
 that, so as God yyveth ofte tymes to gode men
 godes and myrthes, and to schrewes yvelis and
 aspre thinges, and yeveth ayeinward to good
 folk hardnesses, and to schrewes he graunteth
 hem hir wil and that they desiren -- what difference
 thanne may ther be bytwixen that that
 God doth and the hap of fortune, yif men ne
 knowe nat the cause why that it is?"
40 "Ne it nis no merveile," quod sche,
 "thowh that men wenen that ther be somwhat
 foolisshe and confus, whan the resoun of
 the ordre is unknowe. But although that thou
 ne knowe nat the cause of so gret a disposicioun,
 natheles for as moche as God, the gode
 governour, atempreth and governeth the world,
 ne doute the nat that alle thinges ne ben don
 "Whoso that ne knowe nat the sterres of
 Arctour, ytorned neyghe to the sovereyne centre
 or poynt (that is to seyn, ytorned neyghe to
 the sovereyne pool of the firmament), and wot
 nat why the sterre Boetes passeth or gadreth
 his waynes and drencheth his late flaumbes in
 the see; and whi that Boetes, the sterre, unfooldeth
 hise overswifte arysynges, thanne schal
 he wondryn of the lawe of the heie eyr.
10 And eek yif that he ne knowe nat why that
 the hornes of the fulle mone waxen pale
 and infect by bowndes of the derk nyght, and
 how the mone derk and confus discovereth the
 sterres that sche hadde covered by hir clere
 vysage. The comune errour moeveth folk, and
 [the Coribantes maken hir tabours sounen and
 maken] weery hir basyns of bras by thikke
 strokes. (That is to seyn, that ther is a maner
 peple that hyghte Coribantes, that wenen
20 that whan the mone is in the eclips that
 it be enchaunted, and therfore for to
 rescowe the mone thei betyn hir basyns with
 thikke strokes.) Ne no man ne wondreth
 whanne the blastes of the wynd Chorus beten
 the strondes of the see by quakynge floodes; ne
 no man ne wondrith whan the weighte of the
 snowh, ihardid by the cold, is resolvyd by the
 brennynge hete of Phebus, the sonne; for her
 seen men redily the causes. But [ther] the
30 causes yhidd (that is to seyn, in hevene)
 trowblen the brestes of men. The
 moevable peple is astoned of alle thinges that
 comen seelde and sodeynly in our age; but yif
 the trubly errour of our ignoraunce departed fro
 us, so that we wisten the causes why that swiche
 thinges bytyden, certes thei scholde cesen to
 seme wondres."
 "Thus is it," quod I. "But so as thou hast
 yeven or byhyght me to unwrappen the hidde
 causes of thinges, and to discovere me the
 resouns covered with derknes, I preie the that
 thou devyse and juge me of this matere, and
 that thou do me to undirstonden it. For this
 miracle or this wonder trowbleth me ryght
 And thanne sche, a litelwhat smylinge,
10 seide: "Thou clepist me," quod sche, "to
 telle thing that is gretteste of alle thingis
 that mowen ben axed, and to the whiche questioun
 unethes is ther aught inowh to laven
 it. (As who seith, unnethes is ther suffisauntly
 any thing to answeren parfitly to thy questioun.)
 For the matere of it is swich, that
 whan o doute is determined and kut awey, ther
 waxen othere doutes withoute nombre, ryght
 as the hevedes wexen of Idre, the serpent
20 that Hercules slowh. Ne ther ne were no
 manere ne noon ende, but if that a wyght
 constreynede tho doutes by a ryght lifly and
 quyk fir of thought (that is to seyn, by vigour
 and strengthe of wit). For in this matere
 men weren wont to maken questiouns of the
 symplicite of the purveaunce of God, and of
 the ordre of destyne, and of sodeyn hap, and
 of the knowynge and predestinacioun devyne,
 and of the liberte of fre wil; the whiche
30 thinges thou thiself aperceyvest wel of
 what weighte thei ben. But for as moche
 as the knowynge of thise thinges is a maner
 porcioun of the medycyne to the, al be it so
 that I have litil tyme to doon it, yit natheles
 Y wol enforcen me to schewe somwhat of it.
 But although the noryssynges of dite of musyk
 deliteth the, thou most suffren and forberen a
 litel of thilke delit, whil that I weve to the resouns
 yknyt by ordre."
40 "As it liketh to the," quod I, "so do."
 Tho spak sche ryght as by another bygynnynge,
 and seide thus: "The engendrynge
 of alle thinges," quod sche, "and alle the progressiouns
 of muable nature, and al that moeveth
 in any manere, taketh hise causes, his ordre,
 and his formes, of the stablenesse of the devyne
 thought. And thilke devyne thought that
 is iset and put in the tour (that is to seyn, in
 the heighte) of the simplicite of God, stablissith
50 many maner gises to thinges that ben
 to done; the whiche manere whan that
 men looken it in thilke pure clennesse of the
 devyne intelligence, it is ycleped purveaunce;
 but whanne thilke manere is referred by men
 to thinges that it moeveth and disponyth, than
 of olde men it was clepyd destyne. The whiche
 thinges yif that any wyght loketh wel in his
 thought the strengthe of that oon and of that
 oothir, he schal lyghtly mowen seen that
60 thise two thinges ben dyvers. For purveaunce
 is thilke devyne resoun that is establissed
 in the sovereyn prince of thinges, the
 whiche purveaunce disponith alle thinges; but,
 certes, destyne is the disposicioun and ordenance
 clyvynge to moevable thinges, by the
 whiche disposicion the purveaunce knytteth
 alle thingis in hir ordres; for purveaunce enbraceth
 alle thinges to-hepe, althoghe that thei
 ben diverse and although thei ben infinit.
70 But destyne, certes, departeth and ordeyneth
 alle thinges singulerly and devyded in
 moevynges in places, in formes, in tymes, as
 thus: lat the unfoldynge of temporel ordenaunce,
 assembled and oonyd in the lokynge
 of the devyne thought, be cleped purveaunce,
 and thilke same assemblynge and oonynge, devyded
 and unfolden by tymes, lat that ben
 called destyne.
 "And al be it so that thise thinges ben
80 diverse, yit natheles hangeth that oon of
 that oother; forwhi the ordre destynal
 procedith of the simplicite of purveaunce. For
 ryght as a werkman that aperceyveth in his
 thought the forme of the thing that he wol make,
 and moeveth the effect of the werk, and ledith
 that he hadde lookid byforn in his thought
 symplely and presently by temporel ordenaunce;
 certes, ryght so God disponith in his
 purveaunce singulerly and stablely the
90 thinges that ben to doone; but he
 amynistreth in many maneris and in diverse
 tymes by destyne thilke same thinges that he
 hath disponyd. Thanne, whethir that destyne be
 exercised outhir by some devyne spiritz,
 servantz to the devyne purveaunce, or elles by
 some soule, or elles by alle nature servynge to
 God, or elles by the celestial moevynges of
 sterres, or ellis by vertu of aungelis, or elles by
 divers subtilite of develis, or elles by any of
100 hem, or elles by hem alle the destinal
 ordenaunce is ywoven and acomplissid,
 certes, it es opene thing that the purveaunce is
 an unmoevable and symple forme of thinges
 to doone, and the moevable bond and the
 temporel ordenaunce of thinges whiche that the
 devyne symplicite of purveaunce hath ordeyned
 to doone, that is destyne.
 "For whiche it is that alle thinges that ben
 put undir destyne ben certes subgitz to
110 purveaunce, to whiche purveaunce destyne
 itself is subgit and under. But some thinges
 ben put undir purveaunce, that sourmounten
 the ordenance of destyne; and tho ben thilke
 that stablely ben ifycchid neyghe to the first
 godhede. They surmounten the ordre of
 destynal moevablete. For ryght as of cerklis that
 tornen aboute a same centre or aboute a poynt,
 thilke cerkle that is innerest or most withinne
 joyneth to the symplesse of the myddle,
120 and is, as it were, a centre or a poynt to the
 tothere cerklis that tornen abouten hym;
 and thilke that is utterest, compased by a largere
 envyrownynge, is unfolden by largere spaces in
 so moche as it is ferthest fro the myddel
 symplicite of the poynt; and yif ther be any thing
 that knytteth and felawschipeth hymself to thilke
 myddel poynt, it is constreyned into simplicite
 (that is to seyn, into unmoevablete), and it
 ceseth to ben schad and to fleten diversely;
130 ryght so, by semblable reson, thilke thing
 that departeth ferrest fro the firste thought
 of God, it is unfolden and summittid to grettere
 bondes of destyne; and in so moche is the thing
 more fre and laus fro destyne, as it axeth and
 hooldeth hym neer to thilke centre of thinges
 (that is to seyn, to God); and yif the thing
 clyveth to the stedfastnesse of the thought of
 God and be withoute moevynge, certes it
 surmounteth the necessite of destyne.
140 Thanne ryght swich comparysoun as is of
 skillynge to undirstondyng, and of thing
 that ys engendrid to thing that is, and of tyme to
 eternite, and of the cercle to the centre; ryght so
 is the ordre of moevable destyne to the stable
 symplicite of purveaunce.
 "Thilke ordenaunce moveth the hevene and
 the sterres, and atemprith the elementz togidre
 amonges hemself, and transformeth hem by
 entrechaungeable mutacioun. And thilke
150 same ordre neweth ayein alle thinges
 growynge and fallynge adoun, by semblable
 progressions of sedes and of sexes (that
 is to seyn, male and femele). And this ilke
 ordre constreyneth the fortunes and the dedes of
 men by a bond of causes nat able to ben
 unbownde; the whiche destynal causes, whan
 thei passen out fro the bygynnynges of the
 unmoevable purveaunce, it moot nedes be that
 thei ne be nat mutable. And thus ben the
160 thinges ful wel igoverned yif that the
 symplicite duellynge in the devyne thoght
 scheweth forth the ordre of causes unable to ben
 ibowed. And this ordre constreyneth by his
 propre stablete the moevable thingis, or elles
 thei scholden fleten folyly.
 "For whiche it es that alle thingis semen to
 ben confus and trouble to us men, for we ne
 mowen nat considere thilke ordenaunce.
 Natheles the propre maner of every thing,
170 dressynge hem to gode, disponith hem alle,
 for ther nys no thing doon for cause of yvel,
 ne thilk thing that is doon by wikkid folk nys nat
 doon for yvel, the whiche schrewes, as I have
 schewed ful plentyvously, seken good, but
 wikkid errour mystorneth hem; ne the ordre
 comynge fro the poynt of sovereyn good ne
 declyneth nat fro his bygynnynge.
 "But thou mayst seyn, `What unreste may ben
 a worse confusioun than that gode men
180 han somtyme adversite and somtyme
 prosperite, and schrewes also han now
 thingis that they desiren and now thinges that
 thei haten?' Whethir men lyven now in swich
 holnesse of thought (as who seith, ben men now
 so wyse) that swiche folk as thei demen to ben
 gode folk or schrewes, that it moste nedes ben
 that folk ben swiche as thei wenen? But in this
 manere the domes of men discorden, that thilke
 men that som folk demen worthy of mede,
190 other folk demen hem worthy of torment.
 But lat us graunten, I pose, that som man
 may wel demen or knowen the good folk and
 the badde; may he thanne knowen and seen
 thilke innereste atempraunce of corages as it
 hath ben wont to ben seyd of bodyes? (As who
 seith, may a man speken and determinen of
 atempraunce in corages, as men were wont to
 demen or speken of complexions and atempraunces
 of bodies?) Ne it ne is nat an
200 unlike miracle to hem that ne knowen it nat
 (as who seith, but it is lik a mervayle or
 miracle to hem that ne knowen it nat) whi
 that swete thinges ben covenable to some bodies
 that ben hole, and to some bodies byttere
 thinges ben covenable; and also why that some
 syk folk ben holpen with lyghte medicynes, and
 some folk ben holpen with sharpe medicynes.
 But natheles the leche, that knoweth the manere
 and the atempraunce of hele and of
210 maladye, ne merveyleth of it nothyng. But
 what othir thing semeth hele of corages but
 bounte and prowesse? And what othir thing
 semeth maladye of corages but vices? Who is
 elles kepere of good or dryvere awey of yvel but
 God, governour and lechere of thoughtes? The
 whiche God, whan he hath byholden from the
 hye tour of his purveaunce, he knoweth what is
 covenable to every wight, and lenyth hem that
 he woot that is covenable to hem. Lo, herof
220 comyth and herof is don this noble miracle
 of the ordre destynal, whan God, that al
 knoweth, dooth swiche thing, of whiche thing
 unknowynge folk ben astonyd.
 "But for to constreyne (as who seith, but for
 to comprehende and to telle) a fewe thingis of
 the devyne depnesse the whiche that mannys
 resoun may undirstonde, thilke man that thow
 wenest to ben ryght just and ryght kepynge of
 equite, the contrarie of that semeth to the
230 devyne purveaunce, that al woot. And
 Lucan, my famylier, telleth that the
 victorious cause likide to the goddes, and the
 cause overcomen likide to Catoun. Thanne
 whatsoevere thou mayst seen that is doon in this
 world unhopid or unwened, certes it es the
 ryghte ordre of thinges, but as to thi wikkid
 opynioun it is a confusioun. But I suppose that
 som man be so wel ithewed that the devyne
 jugement and the jugement of mankynde
240 accorden hem togidre of hym; but he is so
 unstidfast of corage that, yif any adversite
 come to hym, he wol forleten peraventure to
 continue innocence by the whiche he ne may
 nat withholden fortune. Thanne the wise
 dispensacion of God sparith hym, the whiche
 man adversite myghte enpeyren; for that God
 wol nat suffren hym to travaile to whom that
 travaile nis nat covenable. Anothir man is parfit
 in alle vertus, and is an holi man and neigh
250 to God, so that the purveaunce of God
 wolde deme that it were a felonie that he
 were touched with any adversites; so that he wol
 nat suffre that swich a man be moeved with any
 bodily maladye. But so as seyde a philosophre,
 the more excellent by me -- he seyde in Grec
 that `vertues han edified the body of the holi
 "And ofte tyme it betydeth that the somme of
 thingis that ben to done is taken to governe
260 to good folk, for that the malice
 haboundaunt of schrewes scholde ben
 abated. And God yeveth and departeth to other
 folk prosperites and adversites imedled to-hepe
 aftir the qualite of hir corages, and remordith
 some folk by adversite, for thei ne scholden nat
 waxen proude by long welefulnesse; and other
 folk he suffreth to ben travailed with harde
 thinges for that thei scholden confermen the
 vertues of corage by the usage and the
270 exercitacioun of pacience. And other folk
 dreden more than thei oughten the whiche
 thei myghte wel beren, and thilke folk God
 ledeth into experience of hemself by aspre and
 sorweful thingis. And many other folk han
 bought honourable renoun of this world by the
 prys of glorious deth; and som men, that ne
 mowen nat ben overcomen by torment, han
 yeven ensample to other folk that vertu mai nat
 ben overcomyn by adversites. And of alle
280 thise thinges ther nis no doute that thei ne
 ben doon ryghtfully and ordeynly, to the
 profit of hem to whom we seen thise thingis
 "For certes, that adversite cometh somtyme to
 schrewes and somtyme that that they desiren, it
 comith of thise forseyde causes. And of sorweful
 thinges that betyden to schrewes, certes, no man
 ne wondreth. for alle men wenen that thei han
 wel desservid it, and that thei ben of wykkid
290 meryt. Of whiche schrewes the torment
 somtyme agasteth othere to don felonyes,
 and somtyme it amendeth hem that suffren the
 tormentz; and the prosperite that is yeven to
 schrewes scheweth a gret argument to good
 folk what thing thei scholde demen of thilke
 welefulnesse, the whiche prosperite men seen
 ofte serven to schrewes. In the whiche thing I
 trowe that God dispenseth. For peraventure the
 nature of som man is so overthrowynge to
300 yvel, and so uncovenable, that the nedy
 poverte of his houshold myghte rather
 egren hym to don felonyes; and to the maladye
 of hym God putteth remedye to yeven hym
 rychesses. And som othir man byholdeth his
 conscience defouled with synnes, and makith
 comparysoun of his fortune and of hymself, and
 dredith peraventure that his blisfulnesse, of
 whiche the usage is joyeful to hym, that the
 lesynge of thilke blisfulnesse ne be nat
310 sorwful to hym; and therfore he wol
 chaunge his maneris, and, for he dredith to
 lesen his fortune, he forletith his wikkidnesse.
 To other folke is welefulnesse iyeven unworthely,
 the whiche overthroweth hem into
 destruccioun, that thei han disservid; and to som
 othir folk is yeven power to punysshen, for
 that it schal be cause of contynuacioun and
 exercisynge to good folk, and cause of torment
 to schrewes. For so as ther nis noon
320 alliaunce bytwixe good folk and schrewes,
 ne schrewes ne mowen nat acorden among
 hemself. And whi nat? For schrewes discorden
 of hemself by hir vices, the whiche vices al
 toreenden her consciences, and doon ofte time
 thinges the whiche thingis, whan thei han doon
 hem, they demen that tho thinges ne scholden
 nat han ben doon.
 "For whiche thing thilke sovereyne purveaunce
 hath makid ofte tyme fair
330 myracle, so that schrewes han makid
 schrewes to ben gode men. For whan that
 some schrewes seen that they suffren wrongfully
 felonyes of othere schrewes, they wexen
 eschaufed into hate of hem that anoyed hem,
 and retornen to the fruyt of vertu, whan thei
 studien to ben unlyke to hem that thei han hated.
 Certis oonly this is the devyne myght to the
 whiche myghte yvelis ben thanne gode whan it
 useth the yvelis covenably and draweth out
340 the effect of any good. (As who seith that
 yvel is good only to the myghte of God, for
 the myght of God ordeyneth thilke yvel to
 "For oon ordre enbraseth alle thinges, so that
 what wyght that departeth fro the resoun of
 thilke ordre whiche that is assigned to hym,
 algatis yit he slideth into an othir ordre; so that
 no thing nis leveful to folye in the reaume of the
 devyne purveaunce (as who seith, no
350 thing nis withouten ordenaunce in the
 reame of the devyne purveaunce), syn that
 the ryght strong God governeth alle thinges in
 this world. For it nis nat leveful to man to
 comprehenden by wit, ne unfolden by word,
 alle the subtil ordenaunces and disposiciounis of
 the devyne entente. For oonly it owghte suffise
 to han lokid that God hymself, makere of alle
 natures, ordeineth and dresseth alle thingis to
 gode; whil that he hasteth to withholden
360 the thingis that he hath makid into his
 semblaunce (that is to seyn, for to withholden
 thingis into gode, for he hymself is
 good), he chasith out alle yvel fro the boundes
 of his comynalite by the ordre of necessite
 destinable. For whiche it folweth that, yif thou
 loke the purveaunce ordeynynge the thinges
 that men wenen ben outraious or haboundaunt
 in erthis, thou ne schalt nat seen in no place no
 thing of yvel.
370 "But I se now that thou art charged with
 the weyghte of the questioun, and wery
 with the lengthe of my resoun, and that thou
 abydest som swetnesse of songe. Tak thanne this
 drawght, and, whanne thou art wel reffressched
 and refect, thou schalt be more stedfast to stye
 into heyere questions or thinges.
 "Yif thou, wys, wilt demen in thi pure thought
 the ryghtes or the lawes of the heye thondrere
 (that is to seyn, of God), loke thou and byhoold
 the heightes of the sovereyn hevene.
 Ther kepin the sterres, be ryghtful alliaunce of
 thinges, hir oolde pees. The sonne, imoevid by
 his rody fyr, ne distorbeth nat the colde cercle
 of the mone. Ne the sterre yclepid the Bere,
 that enclyneth his ravysschynge coursis
10 abowte the sovereyn heighte of the world
 -- ne the same sterre Ursa nis nevere mo
 wasschen in the depe westrene see, ne coveyteth
 nat to deeyen his flaumbes in the see
 of the Occian, although it see othere sterres
 iplowngid in the see. And Hesperus the sterre
 bodith and telleth alwey the late nyghtes, and
 Lucyfer the sterre bryngeth ayein the clere
 "And thus maketh Love entrechaungeable
20 the perdurable courses; and thus is discordable
 bataile yput out of the contre of
 the sterres. This accordaunce atempryth by evenelyke
 maneres the elementz, that the moiste
 thingis, stryvynge with the drye thingis, yeven
 place by stoundes; and that the colde thingis
 joynen hem by feyth to the hote thingis; and
 that the lyghte fyr ariseth into heighte, and
 the hevy erthes avalen by her weyghtes. By
 thise same causes the floury yer yeldeth
30 swote smelles in the first somer sesoun
 warmynge; and the hote somer dryeth the
 cornes; and autumpne comith ayein hevy of
 apples; and the fletyng reyn bydeweth the
 wynter. This atempraunce norysscheth and
 bryngeth forth alle thinges that brethith lif
 in this world; and thilke same attempraunce,
 ravysschynge, hideth and bynymeth, and
 drencheth undir the laste deth, alle thinges
40 "Among thise thinges sitteth the heye
 makere, kyng and lord, welle and bygynnynge,
 lawe and wys juge to don equite, and
 governeth and enclyneth the brydles of thinges.
 And tho thinges that he stireth to gon by
 moevynge, he withdraweth and aresteth, and
 affermeth the moevable or wandrynge thinges.
 For yif that he ne clepide nat ayein the ryght
 goynge of thinges, and yif that he ne constreynede
 hem nat eftsones into roundnesses
50 enclyned, the thinges that ben now
 contynued by stable ordenaunce, thei scholden
 departen from hir welle (that is to seyn,
 from hir bygynnynge), and failen (that is to
 seyn, tornen into noght). This is the comune
 love to alle thingis, and alle thinges axen to ben
 holden by the fyn of good. For elles ne
 myghten they nat lasten yif thei ne comen nat
 eftsones ayein, by love retorned, to the cause
 that hath yeven hem beinge (that is to
60 seyn, to God).
 "Sestow nat thanne what thing folweth alle
 the thingis that I have seyd?"
 "What thing?" quod I.
 "Certes," quod sche, "al outrely that alle fortune
 is good."
 "And how may that be?" quod I.
 "Now undirstand," quod sche. "So as al fortune,
 whethir so it be joyeful fortune or aspre
 fortune, is yeven eyther by cause of gerdonynge
10 or elles of exercisynge of good
 folk or elles by cause to punysschen or elles
 chastisen schrewes; thanne is alle fortune good,
 the whiche fortune is certeyn that it be either
 ryghtful or elles profitable."
 "Forsothe this is a ful verray resoun," quod
 I; "and yif I considere the purveaunce and the
 destyne that thou taughtest me a litel herebyforn
 this sentence is sustenyd by stedfast
 resouns. But yif it like unto the, lat us
20 nombren [hyt] amonges thilke thingis, of
 whiche thow seydest a litel herebyforn that
 thei ne were nat able to ben wened to the
 "Why so?" quod sche.
 "For that the comune word of men," quod I,
 "mysuseth this manere speche of fortune, and
 seyn ofte tymes that the fortune of som wyght
 is wikkid."
 "Woltow thanne," quod sche, "that I approche
30 a litil to the wordis of the peple,
 so that it seme nat to hem that I be overmoche
 departed as fro the usage of mankynde?"
 "As thou wilt," quod I.
 "Demestow nat," quod sche, "that alle thing
 that profiteth is good?"
 "Yis," quod I.
 "And certes thilke thing that exerciseth or
 corrigith profitith?"
 "I confesse it wel," quod I.
40 "Thanne is it good," quod sche.
 "Why nat?" quod I.
 "But this is the fortune," quod sche, "of hem
 that eyther ben put in vertu and batayllen
 ayein aspre thingis, or elles of hem that eschuen
 and declynen fro vices and taken the
 weye of vertu."
 "This ne mai I nat denye," quod I.
 "But what seistow of the merye fortune that
 is yeven to good folk in gerdoun -- demeth
50 aught the peple that it is wikkid?"
 "Nay forsothe," quod I; "but thei
 demen, as it soth is, that it is ryght good."
 "And what seistow of that othir fortune,"
 quod sche, "that, although it be aspre and
 restreyneth the schrewes by ryghtful torment,
 weneth aught the peple that it be good?"
 "Nay," quod I, "but the peple demeth that
 it is moost wrecchid of alle thingis that mai
 ben thought."
60 "War now and loke wel," quod sche,
 "lest that we, in folwynge the opynioun of
 the peple, have confessid and concluded thing
 that is unable to be wened to the peple."
 "What is that?" quod I.
 "Certis," quod sche, "it folweth or comith of
 thingis that ben grauntid that alle fortune, what
 so evere it be, of hem that ben eyther in possessioun
 of vertu, or in the encres of vertu, or
 elles in the purchasynge of vertu, that thilke
70 fortune is good; and that alle fortune is
 ryght wikkid to hem that duellen in
 schrewidnesse." (As who seith. "And thus
 weneth nat the peple.")
 "That is soth," quod I, "al be it so that no
 man dar confessen it ne byknowen it."
 "Whi so?" quod sche; "for ryght as the
 stronge man ne semeth nat to abaissen or disdaignen
 as ofte tyme as he herith the noyse
 of the bataile, ne also it ne semeth nat to
80 the wise man to beren it grevously as ofte
 as he is lad into the stryf of fortune. For,
 bothe to the to man and eek to the tothir thilke
 difficulte is the matere, to the to man of encres
 of his glorious renoun, and to the tothir man
 to confermen his sapience (that is to seyn, to the
 asprenesse of his estat). For therfore it is
 called `vertu,' for that it sustenith and enforceth
 by hise strengthes that it nis nat overcomen by
 adversites. Ne certes thou, that art put in
90 the encres or in the heyghte of vertu, ne
 hast nat comen to fleten with delices, and
 for to welken in bodily lust; thou sowest or
 plawntest a ful egre bataile in thy corage ayeins
 every fortune, for that the sorwful fortune ne
 confownde the nat, ne that the myrie fortune
 ne corrumpe the nat. Ocupye the mene by stidefast
 strengthes; for al that evere is undir the
 mene, or elles al that overpasseth the mene,
 despyseth welefulnesse (as who seith, it
100 is vycious), and ne hath no mede of his
 travaile. For it is set in your hand (as who
 seith, it lyth in your power) what fortune yow
 is levest (that is to seyn, good or yvel). For
 alle fortune that semeth scharp or aspre, yif it
 ne exercise nat the good folk ne chastiseth the
 wikkide folk, it punysseth.
 "The wrekere Attrides (that is to seyn, Agamenon),
 that wrought and contynued the batailes
 by ten yer, recovered and purgide in
 wrekynge, by the destruccioun of Troye, the
 loste chaumbris of mariage of his brothir.
 (That is to seyn, that he, Agamenon, wan ayein
 Eleyne that was Menelaus wif his brothir.)
 In the mene while that thilke Agamenon desirede
 to yeven sayles to the Grykkyssche
10 naveye, and boughte ayein the wyndes by
 blood, he unclothide hym of pite of fadir;
 and the sory preest yeveth in sacrifyenge the
 wrecchide kuttynge of throte of the doughter.
 (That is to seyn that Agamenon leet kutten the
 throte of his doughter by the preest, to maken
 alliaunce with his goddes and for to han wynd
 with whiche he myghte wenden to Troye.)
 "Ytakus (that is to seyn, Ulixes) bywepte his
 felawes ilorne, the whiche felawes the
20 fyerse Poliphemus, ligginge in his grete cave,
 had fretyn and dreynt in his empty wombe.
 But natheles Poliphemus, wood for his blynde
 visage, yald to Ulixes joye by his sorwful
 teres. (This to seyn, that Ulixes smoot out the
 eye of Poliphemus, that stood in his forheed,
 for whiche Ulixes hadde joye whan he say Poliphemus
 wepynge and blynd).
 "Hercules is celebrable for his harde travailes.
 He dawntide the proude Centauris (half
30 hors, half man), and he byrafte the dispoilynge
 fro the cruel lyoun (that is to seyn, he
 slouhe the lyoun and rafte hym his skyn); he
 smot the briddes that hyghten Arpiis with certein
 arwes; he ravysschide applis fro the wakynge
 dragoun, and his hand was the more hevy
 for the goldene metal; he drowh Cerberus, the
 hound of helle, by his treble cheyne; he, overcomer,
 as it is seyd, hath put an unmeke lord
 foddre to his crwel hors (this to seyn, that
40 Hercules slowh Diomedes, and made his
 hors to freten hym); and he, Hercules,
 slowh Idra the serpent, and brende the venym;
 and Acheleous the flod, defowled in his forheed,
 dreynte his schamefast visage in his
 strondes (that is to seyn, that Achaleous coude
 transfiguren hymself into diverse liknesse, and,
 as he faughte with Hercules, at the laste he
 torned hym into a bole, and Hercules brak of
 oon of his hornes, and he for schame hidde
50 hym in his ryver); and he, Hercules, caste
 adoun Antheus the geaunt in the [sondes]
 of Libye; and Kacus apaysede the wratthes of
 Evander (this to seyn, that Hercules slouh the
 monstre Kacus, and apaysed with that deth the
 wratthe of Evander); and the bristilede boor
 markide with scomes the scholdres of Hercules,
 the whiche scholdres the heye cercle of
 hevene sholde thriste; and the laste of his labours
 was that he susteynede the hevene
60 uppon his nekke unbowed; and he disservide
 eftsones the hevene to ben the pris
 of his laste travaile.
 "Goth now thanne, ye stronge men, ther as
 the heye wey of the greet ensaumple ledith
 yow. O nyce men! why nake ye your bakkes?
 (As who seith, "O ye slowe and delicat men!
 whi flee ye adversites, and ne fyghte nat ayeins
 hem by vertu, to wynnen the mede of the hevene?")
 For the erthe overcomen yeveth the
70 sterres." (This to seyn, that whan that
 erthly lust is overcomyn, a man is makid
 worthy to the hevene.)

Next: Book 5