Legends and Sagas
The Canterbury Tales and Other Works of Chaucer (Middle English), by Geoffery Chaucer, [14th cent.], at sacred-texts.com
The Romaunt of the Rose
Fragment C Whanne Love hadde told hem his entente,
The baronage to councel wente.
In many sentences they fille,
And dyversely they seide hir wille;
But aftir discord they accorded,
And her accord to Love recorded.
"Sir," seiden they, "we ben at on,
Bi evene accord of everichon,
Out-take Richesse al oonly,
5820 That sworen hath ful hauteynly,
That she the castel nyl not assaile,
Ne smyte a strok in this bataile,
With darte, ne mace, spere, ne knyf,
For man that spekith or berith the lyf,
And blameth youre emprise, iwys,
And from oure hoost departed is,
Atte leste wey, as in this plyt,
So hath she this man in dispit.
For she seith he ne loved hir never,
5830 And therfore she wole hate hym evere.
For he wole gadre no tresor,
He hath hir wrath for evermor.
He agylte hir never in other caas,
Lo, heere all hoolly his trespas!
She seith wel that this other day
He axide hir leve to gon the way
That is clepid To-Moche-Yevyng,
And spak full faire in his praiyng;
But whanne he praiede hir, pore was he,
5840 Therfore she warned hym the entre.
Ne yit is he not thryven so
That he hath geten a peny or two
That quytly is his owne in hold.
Thus hath Richesse us alle told,
And whanne Richesse us this recorded,
Withouten hir we ben accorded.
"And we fynde in oure accordaunce
That Fals-Semblant and Abstinaunce,
With all the folk of her bataille,
5850 Shull at the hyndre gate assayle,
That Wikkid-Tunge hath in kepyng,
With his Normans full of janglyng.
And with hem Curtesie and Largesse,
That shull shewe her hardynesse
To the olde wyf that kepte so harde
Fair-Welcomyng withynne her warde.
Thanne shal Delit and Wel-Heelynge
Fonde Shame adown to brynge;
With all her oost, erly and late,
5860 They shull assailen that ilke gate.
Agaynes Drede shall Hardynesse
Assayle, and also Sikernesse,
With all the folk of her ledyng,
That never wist what was fleyng.
"Fraunchise shall fight, and eke Pite,
With Daunger, full of cruelte.
Thus is youre hoost ordeyned wel.
Doun shall the castell every del,
If everich do his entent,
5870 So that Venus be present,
Youre modir, full of vasselage,
That can ynough of such usage.
Withouten hir may no wight spede
This werk, neithir for word ne deede;
Therfore is good ye for hir sende,
For thurgh hir may this werk amende."
"Lordynges, my modir, the goddesse,
That is my lady and my maistresse,
Nis not [at] all at my willyng,
5880 Ne doth not all my desiryng.
Yit can she som tyme don labour,
Whanne that hir lust, in my socour,
Al my nedes for to acheve,
But now I thenke hir not to greve.
My modir is she, and of childhede
I bothe worshipe hir and eke drede;
For who that dredith sire ne dame,
Shal it abye in body or name.
And, natheles, yit kunne we
5890 Sende aftir hir, if nede be;
And were she nygh, she comen wolde;
I trowe that nothyng myght hir holde.
"Mi modir is of gret prowesse;
She hath tan many a forteresse,
That cost hath many a pound, er this,
There I nas not present, ywis.
And yit men seide it was my dede;
But I com never in that stede,
Ne me ne likith, so mote I the,
5900 That such toures ben take withoute me.
For-why me thenkith that, in no wise,
It may ben clepid but marchandise.
"Go bye a courser, blak or whit,
And pay therfore; than art thou quyt.
The marchaunt owith thee right nought,
Ne thou hym, whanne thou it bought.
I wole not sellyng clepe yevyng,
For sellyng axeth no guerdonyng:
Here lith no thank ne no merit;
5910 That oon goth from that other al quyt.
But this sellyng is not semblable;
For whanne his hors is in the stable,
He may it selle ageyn, parde,
And wynnen on it, such hap may be;
All may the man not leese, iwys,
For at the leest the skyn is his.
Or ellis, if it so bitide
That he wole kepe his hors to ride,
Yit is he lord ay of his hors.
5920 But thilke chaffare is wel wors,
There Venus entremetith ought.
For whoso such chaffare hath bought,
He shal not worchen so wisely
That he ne shal leese al outerly
Bothe his money and his chaffare;
But the seller of the ware
The prys and profit have shall.
Certeyn, the bier shal leese all.
For he ne can so dere it bye
5930 To have lordship and full maistrie,
Ne have power to make lettyng,
Neithir for yift ne for prechyng,
That of his chaffare, maugre his,
Another shal have as moche, iwis,
If he wol yeve as myche as he,
Of what contrey so that he be --
Or for right nought, so happe may,
If he can flater hir to hir pay.
Ben thanne siche marchauntz wise?
5940 No, but fooles in every wise,
Whanne they bye sich thyng wilfully,
There as they leese her good fully.
But natheles, this dar I saye,
My modir is not wont to paye,
For she is neither so fool ne nyce
To entremete hir of sich vice.
But truste wel, he shal pay all,
That repent of his bargeyn shall,
Whanne poverte putte hym in distresse,
5950 All were he scoler to Richesse,
That is for me in gret yernyng,
Whanne she assentith to my willyng.
"But [by] my modir, seint Venus,
And by hir fader Saturnus,
That hir engendride by his lyf --
But not upon his weddid wyf --
Yit wole I more unto you swer,
To make this thyng the seurere --
Now by that feith and that leaute
5960 That I owe to all my britheren fre,
Of which ther nys wight undir heven
That kan her fadris names neven,
So dyverse and so many ther be
That with my modir have be prive!
Yit wolde I swere, for sikirnesse,
The pol of helle to my witnesse --
Now drynke I not this yeer clarre,
If that I lye or forsworn be!
(For of the goddes the usage is
5970 That whoso hym forswereth amys
Shal that yeer drynke no clarre.)
Now have I sworn ynough, pardee,
If I forswere me, thanne am I lorn,
But I wole never be forsworn.
Syth Richesse hath me failed heere,
She shal abye that trespas ful dere,
Atte leeste wey, but [she] hir arme
With swerd, or sparth, or gysarme.
For certis, sith she loveth not me,
5980 Fro thilke tyme that she may se
The castell and the tour toshake,
In sory tyme she shal awake.
If I may grype a riche man,
I shal so pulle hym, if I can,
That he shal in a fewe stoundes
Lese all his markis and his poundis.
I shal hym make his pens outslynge,
But they in his gerner sprynge.
Oure maydens shal eke pluk hym so
5990 That hym shal neden fetheres mo,
And make hym selle his lond to spende,
But he the bet kunne hym defende.
"Pore men han maad her lord of me;
Although they not so myghty be
That they may fede me in delit,
I wol not have hem in despit.
No good man hateth hem, as I gesse,
For chynche and feloun is Richesse,
That so can chase hem and dispise,
6000 And hem defoule in sondry wise.
They loven full bet, so God me spede,
Than doth the riche, chynchy gnede,
And ben, in good feith, more stable
And trewer and more serviable;
And therfore it suffisith me
Her goode herte and her leaute.
They han on me set all her thought,
And therfore I forgete hem nought.
I wol hem bringe in gret noblesse,
6010 If that I were god of richesse,
As I am god of love sothly,
Sich routhe upon her pleynt have I.
Therfore I must his socour be,
That peyneth hym to serven me,
For if he deide for love of this,
Thanne semeth in me no love ther is."
"Sir," seide they, "soth is every deel
That ye reherce, and we wote wel
Thilk oth to holde is resonable;
6020 For it is good and covenable
That ye on riche men han sworn.
For, sir, this wote we wel biforn:
If riche men don you homage,
That is as fooles don outrage;
But ye shull not forsworn be,
Ne lette therfore to drynke clarre,
Or pyment makid fresh and newe.
Ladies shull hem such pepir brewe,
If that they fall into her laas,
6030 That they for woo mowe seyn `allas!'
Ladyes shullen evere so curteis be
That they shal quyte youre oth all free.
Ne sekith never othir vicaire,
For they shal speke with hem so faire
That ye shal holde you paied full wel,
Though ye you medle never a del.
Late ladies worche with her thyngis,
They shal hem telle so fele tidynges,
And moeve hem eke so many requestis
6040 Bi flateri, that not honest is,
And therto yeve hem such thankynges,
What with kissyng and with talkynges,
That, certis, if they trowed be,
Shal never leve hem lond ne fee
That it nyl as the moeble fare,
Of which they first delyverid are.
Now may ye telle us all youre wille,
And we youre heestes shal fulfille.
"But Fals-Semblant dar not, for drede
6050 Of you, sir, medle hym of this dede,
For he seith that ye ben his foo;
He not if ye wole worche hym woo.
Wherfore we pray you alle, beau sire,
That ye forgyve hym now your ire,
And that he may dwelle, as your man,
With Abstinence, his dere lemman;
This oure accord and oure wille now."
"Parfay," seide Love, "I graunte it yow.
I wole wel holde hym for my man;
6060 Now late hym come" -- and he forth ran.
"Fals-Semblant," quod Love, "in this wise
I take thee heere to my servise,
That thou oure freendis helpe alway,
And hyndre hem neithir nyght ne day,
But do thy myght hem to releve,
And eke oure enemyes that thou greve.
Thyn be this myght, I graunte it thee,
My kyng of harlotes shalt thou be;
We wole that thou have such honour.
6070 Certeyn, thou art a fals traitour,
And eke a theef; sith thou were born,
A thousand tyme thou art forsworn.
But natheles, in oure heryng,
To putte oure folk out of doutyng,
I bidde thee teche hem, wostow how,
Bi som general signe now,
In what place thou shalt founden be,
If that men had myster of thee;
And how men shal thee best espye,
6080 For thee to knowe is gret maistrie.
Telle in what place is thyn hauntyng."
"Sir, I have fele dyvers wonyng,
That I kepe not rehersed be,
So that ye wolde respiten me.
For if that I telle you the sothe,
I may have harm and shame bothe.
If that my felowes wisten it,
My talis shulden me be quytt;
For certeyn, they wolde hate me,
6090 If ever I knewe her cruelte.
For they wolde overall holde hem stille
Of trouthe that is ageyne her wille;
Suche tales kepen they not here.
I myght eftsoone bye it full deere,
If I seide of hem ony thing
That ought displesith to her heryng.
For what word that hem prikke or biteth,
In that word noon of hem deliteth,
Al were it gospel, the evangile,
6100 That wolde reprove hem of her gile,
For they are cruel and hauteyn.
And this thyng wot I well, certeyn,
If I speke ought to peire her loos,
Your court shal not so well be cloos
That they ne shall wite it atte last.
Of good men am I nought agast,
For they wole taken on hem nothyng,
Whanne that they knowe al my menyng;
But he that wole it on hym take,
6110 He wole hymsilf suspecious make,
That he his lyf let covertly
In Gile and in Ipocrisy
That me engendred and yaf fostryng."
"They made a full good engendryng,"
Quod Love, "for whoso sothly telle,
They engendred the devel of helle!
But nedely, howsoevere it be,"
Quod Love, "I wole and charge thee
To telle anoon thy wonyng places,
6120 Heryng ech wight that in this place is.
And what lyf that thou lyvest also.
Hide it no lenger now; wherto?
Thou most discovere all thi wurchyng,
How thou servest, and of what thyng,
Though that thou shuldist for thi soth-sawe
Ben al tobeten and todrawe --
And yit art thou not wont, pardee.
But natheles, though thou beten be,
Thou shalt not be the first that so
6130 Hath for sothsawe suffred woo."
"Sir, sith that it may liken you,
Though that I shulde be slayn right now,
I shal don youre comaundement,
For therto have I gret talent."
Withouten wordis mo, right than,
Fals-Semblant his sermon bigan,
And seide hem thus in audience:
"Barouns, take heede of my sentence!
That wight that list to have knowing
6140 Of Fals-Semblant, full of flatering,
He must in worldly folk hym seke,
And, certes, in the cloistres eke.
I wone nowhere but in hem tweye,
But not lyk even, soth to seye.
Shortly, I wole herberwe me
There I hope best to hulstred be,
And certeynly, sikerest hidyng
Is undirnethe humblest clothing.
Religiouse folk ben full covert;
6150 Seculer folk ben more appert.
But natheles, I wole not blame
Religious folk, ne hem diffame,
In what habit that ever they go.
Religioun umble and trewe also,
Wole I not blame ne dispise;
But I nyl love it, in no wise.
I mene of fals religious,
That stoute ben and malicious,
That wolen in an abit goo,
6160 And setten not her herte therto.
"Religious folk ben al pitous;
Thou shalt not seen oon dispitous.
They loven no pride ne no strif,
But humbly they wole lede her lyf.
With swich folk wole I never be,
And if I dwelle, I feyne me.
I may wel in her abit go;
But me were lever my nekke a-two,
Than lete a purpos that I take,
6170 What covenaunt that ever I make.
I dwelle with hem that proude be,
And full of wiles and subtilte,
That worship of this world coveiten,
And grete nedes kunnen espleiten,
And gon and gadren gret pitaunces,
And purchace hem the acqueyntaunces
Of men that myghty lyf may leden;
And feyne hem pore, and hemsilf feden
With gode morcels delicious,
6180 And drinken good wyn precious,
And preche us povert and distresse,
And fisshen hemsilf gret richesse
With wily nettis that they caste.
It wole come foule out at the laste.
They ben fro clene religioun went;
They make the world an argument
That [hath. a foul conclusioun.
`I have a robe of religioun,
Thanne am I all religious.'
6190 This argument is all roignous;
It is not worth a croked brere.
Abit ne makith neithir monk ne frere,
But clene lyf and devocioun
Makith gode men of religioun.
Natheles, ther kan noon answere,
How high that evere his heed he shere,
With resoun whetted never so kene,
That Gile in braunches kut thrittene;
Ther can no wight distincte it so,
6200 That he dar sey a word therto.
"But what herberwe that ever I take,
Or what semblant that evere I make,
I mene but gile, and folowe that;
For right no mo than Gibbe oure cat,
Ne entende I but to bigilyng.
Ne no wight may by my clothing
Wite with what folk is my dwellyng,
Ne by my wordis yit, parde,
6210 So softe and so plesaunt they be.
Bihold the dedis that I do;
But thou be blynd, thou oughtest so;
For, varie her wordis fro her deede,
They thenke on gile, withoute dreede,
What maner clothing that they were,
Or what estat that evere they bere,
Lered or lewde, lord or lady,
Knyght, squyer, burgeis, or bayly."
Right thus while Fals-Semblant sermoneth,
6220 Eftsones Love hym aresoneth,
And brak his tale in his spekyng,
As though he had hym told lesyng,
And seide, "What, devel, is that I here?
What folk hast thou us nempned heere?
May men fynde religioun
In worldly habitacioun?"
"Ye, sir; it folowith not that they
Shulde lede a wikked lyf, parfey,
Ne not therfore her soules leese
6230 That hem to worldly clothes chese;
For, certis, it were gret pitee.
Men may in seculer clothes see
Florishen hooly religioun.
Full many a seynt in feeld and toun,
With many a virgine glorious,
Devout, and full religious,
Han deied, that comun cloth ay beeren,
Yit seyntes nevere the lesse they weren.
I cowde reken you many a ten;
6240 Ye, wel nygh [al] these hooly wymmen
That men in chirchis herie and seke,
Bothe maydens and these wyves eke
That baren full many a fair child heere,
Wered alwey clothis seculere,
And in the same dieden they
That seyntes weren, and ben alwey.
The eleven thousand maydens deere
That beren in heven hir ciergis clere,
Of whiche men rede in chirche and synge,
6250 Were take in seculer clothinge
Whanne they resseyved martirdom,
And wonnen hevene unto her hom.
Good herte makith the goode thought;
The clothing yeveth ne reveth nought.
The goode thought and the worching,
That makith the religioun flowryng,
Ther lyth the good religioun,
Aftir the right entencioun.
"Whoso took a wethers skyn,
6260 And wrapped a gredy wolf theryn,
For he shulde go with lambis whyte,
Wenest thou not he wolde hem bite?
Yis, neverthelasse, as he were wood,
He wolde hem wery and drinke the blood,
And wel the rather hem disceyve;
For, sith they cowde not perceyve
His treget and his cruelte,
They wolde hym folowe, al wolde he fle.
"If ther be wolves of sich hewe
6270 Amonges these apostlis newe,
Thou hooly chirche, thou maist be wailed!
Sith that thy citee is assayled
Thourgh knyghtis of thyn owne table,
God wot thi lordship is doutable!
If thei enforce [hem] it to wynne
That shulde defende it fro withynne,
Who myght defense ayens hem make?
Withoute strok it mot be take
Of trepeget or mangonel,
6280 Without displaiyng of pensel.
And if God nyl don it socour,
But lat [hem] renne in this colour,
Thou most thyn heestis laten be.
Thanne is ther nought but yelde thee,
Or yeve hem tribut, doutelees,
And holde it of hem to have pees,
But gretter harm bitide thee,
That they al maister of it be.
Wel konne they scorne thee withal;
6290 By day stuffen they the wall,
And al the nyght they mynen there.
Nay, thou planten most elleswhere
Thyn ympes, if thou wolt fruyt have;
Abid not there thisilf to save.
"But now pees! Heere I turne ageyn.
I wole nomore of this thing seyn,
If I may passen me herby;
I myghte maken you wery.
But I wole heten you alway
6300 To helpe youre freendis what I may,
So they wollen my company;
For they be shent al outerly,
But if so falle that I be
Ofte with hem, and they with me.
And eke my lemman mote they serve,
Or they shull not my love deserve.
Forsothe, I am a fals traitour;
God jugged me for a theef trichour.
Forsworn I am, but wel nygh non
6310 Wot of my gile, til it be don.
"Thourgh me hath many oon deth resseyved,
That my treget nevere aperceyved;
And yit resseyveth, and shal resseyve,
That my falsnesse shal nevere aperceyve.
But whoso doth, if he wis be,
Hym is right good be war of me,
But so sligh is the deceyvyng
For Protheus, that cowde hym chaunge
6320 In every shap, homly and straunge,
Cowde nevere sich gile ne tresoun
As I; for I com never in toun
There as I myghte knowen be,
Though men me bothe myght here and see.
Full wel I can my clothis chaunge,
Take oon, and make another straunge.
Now am I knyght, now chasteleyn,
Now prelat, and now chapeleyn,
Now prest, now clerk, and now forster;
6330 Now am I maister, now scoler,
Now monk, now chanoun, now baily;
Whatever myster man am I.
Now am I prince, now am I page,
And kan by herte every langage.
Som tyme am I hor and old;
Now am I yong, stout, and bold;
Now am I Robert, now Robyn,
Now Frere Menour, now Jacobyn;
And with me folwith my loteby,
6340 To don me solas and company,
That hight Dame Abstinence-Streyned,
In many a queynte array feyned.
Ryght as it cometh to hir lykyng,
I fulfille al hir desiryng.
Somtyme a wommans cloth take I;
Now am I a mayde, now lady.
Somtyme I am religious;
Now lyk an anker in an hous.
Somtyme am I prioresse,
6350 And now a nonne, and now abbesse;
And go thurgh alle regiouns,
Sekyng alle religiouns.
But to what ordre that I am sworn,
I take the strawe, and lete the corn.
To gyle folk I enhabit;
I axe nomore but her abit.
What wole ye more in every wise?
Right as me lyst, I me disgise.
Wel can I wre me undir wede;
6360 Unlyk is my word to my dede.
[I] make into my trappis falle,
Thurgh my pryveleges, alle
That ben in Cristendom alyve.
I may assoile and I may shryve,
That no prelat may lette me,
All folk, where evere thei founde be.
I not no prelat may don so,
But it the pope be, and no mo,
That made thilk establisshing.
6370 Now is not this a propre thing?
But, were my sleightis aperceyved
As I was wont, and wostow why?
For I dide hem a tregetry.
But therof yeve I lytel tale;
I have the silver and the male.
So have I prechid, and eke shriven,
So have I take, so have me yiven,
Thurgh her foly, husbonde and wyf,
6380 That I lede right a joly lyf,
Thurgh symplesse of the prelacye --
They knowe not al my tregettrie.
"But forasmoche as man and wyf
Shulde shewe her paroch-prest her lyf,
Onys a yeer, as seith the book,
Er ony wight his housel took,
Thanne have I pryvylegis large,
That may of myche thing discharge.
For he may seie right thus, parde:
6390 `Sir preest, in shrift I telle it thee,
That he to whom that I am shryven
Hath me assoiled, and me yiven
Penaunce, sothly, for my synne,
Which that I fond me gilty ynne;
Ne I ne have nevere entencioun
To make double confessioun,
Ne reherce eft my shrift to thee.
O shrift is right ynough to me.
This oughte thee suffice wel;
6400 Ne be not rebel never a del.
For certis, though thou haddist it sworn,
I wot no prest ne prelat born,
That may to shrift eft me constreyne;
And if they don, I wole me pleyne,
For I wot where to pleyne wel.
Thou shalt not streyne me a del,
Ne enforce me, ne not me trouble,
To make my confessioun double.
Ne I have non affeccioun
6410 To have double absolucioun.
The firste is right ynough to me;
This latter assoilyng quyte I thee.
I am unbounde -- what maist thou fynde
More of my synnes me to unbynde?
For he, that myght hath in his hond,
Of all my synnes me unbond.
And if thou wolt me thus constreyne
That me mot nedis on thee pleyne,
There shall no jugge imperial,
6420 Ne bisshop, ne official,
Don jugement on me; for I
Shal gon and pleyne me openly
Unto my shrifte-fadir newe
(That hight not Frere Wolf untrewe!),
And he shal cheveys hym for me,
For I trowe he can hampre thee.
But, Lord, he wolde be wrooth withalle,
If men hym wolde Frere Wolf calle!
For he wolde have no pacience,
6430 But don al cruel vengeaunce.
He wolde his myght don at the leeste,
Nothing spare for Goddis heeste.
And, God so wys be my socour,
But thou yeve me my Savyour
At Ester, whanne it likith me,
Withoute presyng more on thee,
I wole forth, and to hym gon,
And he shal housel me anoon.
For I am out of thi grucching;
6440 I kepe not dele with thee nothing.'
"Thus may he shryve hym, that forsaketh
His paroch-prest, and to me taketh.
And if the prest wole hym refuse,
I am full redy hym to accuse,
And hym punysshe and hampre so
That he his chirche shal forgo.
"But whoso hath in his felyng
The consequence of such shryvyng,
Shal sen that prest may never have myght
6450 To knowe the conscience aright
Of hym that is undir his cure.
And this ageyns holy scripture,
That biddith every heerde honest
Have verry knowing of his beest.
But pore folk that gone by strete,
That have no gold, ne sommes grete,
Hem wolde I lete to her prelates,
Or lete her prestis knowe her states,
For to me right nought yeve they.
6460 And why? It is for they ne may.
They ben so bare, I take no kep,
But I wole have the fatte sheep;
Lat parish prestis have the lene.
I yeve not of her harm a bene!
And if that prelates grucchen it,
That oughten wroth be in her wit
To leese her fatte beestes so,
I shal yeve hem a strok or two,
That they shal leesen with force,
6470 Ye, bothe her mytre and her croce.
Thus jape I hem, and have do longe,
My pryveleges ben so stronge."
Fals-Semblant wolde have stynted heere,
But Love ne made hym no such cheere
That he was wery of his sawe;
But for to make hym glad and fawe,
He seide, "Telle on more specialy
Hou that thou servest untrewly.
Telle forth, and shame thee never a del;
6480 For, as thyn abit shewith wel,
Thou semest an hooly heremyte."
"Soth is, but I am an ypocrite."
"Thou gost and prechest poverte."
"Ye, sir, but richesse hath pouste."
"Thou prechest abstinence also."
"Sir, I wole fillen, so mote I go,
My paunche of good mete and wyn,
As shulde a maister of dyvyn;
For how that I me pover feyne,
6490 Yit alle pore folk I disdeyne.
"I love bettir th' acqueyntaunce,
Ten tyme, of the kyng of Fraunce
Than of a pore man of mylde mod,
Though that his soule be also god.
For whanne I see beggers quakyng,
Naked on myxnes al stynkyng,
For hungre crie, and eke for care,
I entremete not of her fare.
They ben so pore and ful of pyne,
6500 They myght not oonys yeve me dyne,
For they have nothing but her lyf.
What shulde he yeve that likketh his knyf?
It is but foly to entremete,
To seke in houndes nest fat mete.
Lete bere hem to the spitel anoon,
But, for me, comfort gete they noon.
But a riche sik usurer
Wolde I visite and drawe ner;
Hym wole I comforte and rehete,
6510 For I hope of his gold to gete.
And if that wikkid deth hym have,
I wole go with hym to his grave.
And if ther ony reprove me,
Why that I lete the pore be,
Wostow how I mot ascape?
I sey, and swere hym ful rape,
That riche men han more tecches
Of synne than han pore wrecches,
And han of counsel more mister,
6520 And therfore I wole drawe hem ner.
But as gret hurt, it may so be,
Hath a soule in right gret poverte
As soule in gret richesse, forsothe,
Al be it that they hurten bothe.
For richesse and mendicitees
Ben clepid two extremytees;
The mene is cleped suffisaunce;
Ther lyth of vertu the aboundaunce.
For Salamon, full wel I wot,
6530 In his Parablis us wrot,
As it is knowe to many a wight,
In his thrittene chapitre right,
`God thou me kepe, for thi pouste,
Fro richesse and mendicite;
For if a riche man hym dresse
To thenke to myche on richesse,
His herte on that so fer is set
That he his creatour foryet;
And hym that begging wole ay greve,
6540 How shulde I bi his word hym leve?
Unnethe that he nys a mycher
Forsworn, or ellis God is lyer.'
Thus seith Salamones sawes.
Ne we fynde writen in no lawis,
And namely in oure Cristen lay,
(Whoso seith `ye,' I dar sey `nay')
That Crist, ne his apostlis dere,
While that they walkide in erthe heere,
Were never seen her bred beggyng,
6550 For they nolden beggen for nothing.
And right thus was men wont to teche,
And in this wise wolde it preche
The maistres of divinite
Somtyme in Parys the citee.
"And if men wolde ther-geyn appose
The nakid text, and lete the glose,
It myghte soone assoiled be;
For men may wel the sothe see,
That, parde, they myght aske a thing
6560 Pleynly forth, without begging.
For they weren Goddis herdis deere,
And cure of soules hadden heere,
They nolde nothing begge her fode;
For aftir Crist was don on rode,
With ther propre hondis they wrought,
And with travel, and ellis nought,
They wonnen all her sustenaunce,
And lyveden forth in her penaunce,
And the remenaunt yave awey
6570 To other pore folkis alwey.
They neither bilden tour ne halle,
But ley in houses smale withalle.
A myghty man, that can and may,
Shulde with his hond and body alway
Wynne hym his fode in laboring,
If he ne have rent or sich a thing,
Although he be religious,
And God to serven curious.
Thus mot he don, or do trespas,
6580 But if it be in certeyn cas,
That I can reherce, if myster be,
Right wel, whanne the tyme I se.
"Sek the book of Seynt Austyn,
Be it in papir or perchemyn,
There as he writ of these worchynges,
Thou shalt seen that noon excusynges
A parfit man ne shulde seke
Bi wordis ne bi dedis eke,
Although he be religious,
6590 And God to serven curious,
That he ne shal, so mote I go,
With propre hondis and body also,
Gete his fode in laboryng,
If he ne have proprete of thing.
Yit shulde he selle all his substaunce,
And with his swynk have sustenaunce,
If he be parfit in bounte.
Thus han tho bookes told me.
For he that wole gon ydilly,
6600 And usith it ay besily
To haunten other mennes table,
He is a trechour, ful of fable;
Ne he ne may, by god resoun,
Excuse hym by his orisoun.
For men bihoveth, in som gise,
Somtyme leven Goddis servise
To gon and purchasen her nede.
Men mote eten, that is no drede,
And slepe, and eke do other thing;
6610 So longe may they leve praiyng.
So may they eke her praier blynne,
While that they werke, her mete to wynne.
Seynt Austyn wole therto accorde,
In thilke book that I recorde.
Justinian eke, that made lawes,
Hath thus forboden, by olde dawes:
`No man, up peyne to be ded,
Mighty of body, to begge his bred,
If he may swynke it for to gete;
6620 Men shulde hym rather mayme or bete,
Or don of hym apert justice,
Than suffren hym in such malice.'
They don not wel, so mote I go,
That taken such almesse so,
But if they have som pryvelege,
That of the peyne hem wole allege.
But how that is, can I not see,
But if the prince disseyved be;
Ne I ne wene not, sikerly,
6630 That they may have it rightfully.
But I wole not determine
Of prynces power, ne defyne,
Ne by my word comprende, iwys,
If it so fer may strecche in this.
I wole not entremete a del;
But I trowe that the book seith wel,
Who that takith almessis that be
Dewe to folk that men may se
Lame, feble, wery, and bare,
6640 Pore, or in such maner care --
That konne wynne hem never mo,
For they have no power therto --
He etith his owne dampnyng,
But if he lye, that made al thing.
And if ye such a truaunt fynde,
Chastise hym wel, if ye be kynde.
But they wolde hate you, percas,
And, if ye fillen in her laas,
They wolde eftsoonys do you scathe,
6650 If that they myghte, late or rathe;
For they be not full pacient
That han the world thus foule blent.
And witeth wel that [ther] God bad
The good-man selle al that he had,
And folowe hym, and to pore it yive,
He wolde not therfore that he lyve
To serven hym in mendience,
For it was nevere his sentence;
But he bad wirken whanne that neede is,
6660 And folwe hym in goode dedis.
Seynt Poul, that loved al hooly chirche,
He bad th' appostles for to wirche,
And wynnen her lyflode in that wise,
And hem defended truandise,
And seide, `Wirketh with youre honden.'
Thus shulde the thing be undirstonden:
He nolde, iwys, have bidde hem begging,
Ne sellen gospel, ne prechyng,
Lest they berafte, with her askyng,
6670 Folk of her catel or of her thing.
For in this world is many a man
That yeveth his good, for he ne can
Werne it for shame; or ellis he
Wolde of the asker delyvered be,
And, for he hym encombrith so,
He yeveth hym good to late hym go.
But it can hym nothyng profite;
They lese the yift and the meryte.
The goode folk, that Poul to preched,
6680 Profred hym ofte, whan he hem teched,
Som of her good in charite.
But therof right nothing tok he;
But of his hondwerk wolde he gete
Clothes to wryen hym, and his mete."
"Telle me thanne how a man may lyven,
That al his good to pore hath yiven,
And wole but oonly bidde his bedis
May he do so?" "Ye, sir." "And how?"
6690 "Sir, I wole gladly telle yow:
Seynt Austyn seith a man may be
In houses that han proprete,
As Templers and Hospitelers,
And as these Chanouns Regulers,
Or White Monkes, or these Blake --
I wole no mo ensamplis make --
And take therof his sustenyng,
For therynne lyth no begging;
But other weyes not, ywys,
6700 Yif Austyn gabbith not of this.
And yit full many a monk laboureth,
That God in hooly chirche honoureth.
For whanne her swynkyng is agon,
They rede and synge in chirche anon.
"And for ther hath ben gret discord,
As many a wight may bere record,
Upon the estat of mendience,
I wole shortly, in youre presence,
Telle how a man may begge at nede,
6710 That hath not wherwith hym to fede,
Maugre his felones jangelyngis,
For sothfastnesse wole none hidyngis.
And yit, percas, I may abeye
That I to yow sothly thus seye.
"Lo, heere the caas especial:
If a man be so bestial
That he of no craft hath science,
And nought desireth ignorence,
Thanne may he go a-begging yerne,
6720 Til he som maner craft kan lerne,
Thurgh which withoute truaundyng,
He may in trouthe have his lyvyng.
Or if he may don no labour,
For elde, or syknesse, or langour,
Or for his tendre age also,
Thanne may he yit a-begging go.
Or if he have, peraventure,
Thurgh usage of his noriture,
Lyved over deliciously,
6730 Thanne oughten good folk comunly
Han of his myscheef som pitee,
And suffren hym also that he
May gon aboute and begge his breed,
That he be not for hungur deed.
Or if he have of craft kunnyng,
And strengthe also, and desiryng
To wirken, as he hadde what,
But he fynde neithir this ne that,
Thanne may he begge til that he
6740 Have geten his necessite.
Or if his wynnyng be so lite
That his labour wole not acquyte
Sufficiantly al his lyvyng,
Yit may he go his breed begging;
Fro dore to dore he may go trace,
Til he the remenaunt may purchace.
Or if a man wolde undirtake
Ony emprise for to make
In the rescous of oure lay,
6750 And it defenden as he may,
Be it with armes or lettrure,
Or other covenable cure,
If it be so he pore be,
Thanne may he begge til that he
May fynde in trouthe for to swynke,
And gete hym clothes, mete, and drynke,
Swynke he with his hondis corporell,
And not with hondis espirituell.
"In al thise caas, and in semblables,
6760 If that ther ben mo resonables,
He may begge, as I telle you heere,
And ellis nought, in no manere,
As William Seynt Amour wolde preche,
And ofte wolde dispute and teche
Of this mater all openly
At Parys full solempnely.
And, also God my soule blesse,
As he had, in this stedfastnesse,
The accord of the universite
6770 And of the puple, as semeth me.
"No good man oughte it to refuse,
Ne ought hym therof to excuse,
Be wroth or blithe whoso be.
For I wole speke, and telle it thee,
Al shulde I dye, and be putt doun,
As was Seynt Poul, in derk prisoun;
Or be exiled in this caas
With wrong, as maister William was,
That my moder, Ypocrysie,
6780 Banysshed for hir gret envye.
"Mi modir flemed hym Seynt Amour;
The noble dide such labour
To susteyne evere the loyalte,
That he to moche agilte me.
He made a book, and lete it write,
And wolde ich reneyed begging,
And lyved by my traveylyng,
If I ne had rent ne other good.
6790 What? Wened he that I were wood?
For labour myght me never plese.
I have more wille to ben at ese,
And have wel lever, soth to seye,
Bifore the puple patre and preye,
And wrie me in my foxerie
Under a cope of papelardie."
Quod Love, "What devel is this that I heere?
What wordis tellest thou me heere?"
"What, sir?" "Falsnesse, that apert is.
6800 Thanne dredist thou not God?" "No, certis;
For selde in gret thing shal he spede
In this world, that God wole drede.
For folk that hem to vertu yiven,
And truly on her owne lyven,
And hem in goodnesse ay contene,
On hem is lytel thrift sene.
Such folk drinken gret mysese;
That lyf may me never plese.
But se what gold han usurers,
6810 And silver eke in garners,
Taylagiers, and these monyours,
Bailifs, bedels, provost, countours;
These lyven wel nygh by ravyne.
The smale puple hem mote enclyne,
And they as wolves wole hem eten.
Upon the pore folk they geten
Full moche of that they spende or kepe.
Nis non of hem that he nyl strepe
And wrien hemsilf wel atte fulle;
6820 Withoute scaldyng they hem pulle.
The stronge the feble overgoth.
But I, that were my symple cloth,
Robbe bothe robbed and robbours
And gile giled and gilours.
By my treget I gadre and threste
The gret tresour into my cheste,
That lyth with me so faste bounde.
Myn highe paleys do I founde,
And my delites I fulfille
6830 With wyn at feestes at my wille,
And tables full of entremees.
I wole no lyf but ese and pees,
And wynne gold to spende also.
For whanne the grete bagge is go,
It cometh right with my japes.
Make I not wel tumble myn apes?
To wynnen is alwey myn entente;
My purchace is bettir than my rente.
For though I shulde beten be,
6840 Overal I entremete me.
Without me may no wight dure;
I walke soules for to cure.
Of al the world cure have I;
In brede and lengthe boldely
I wole bothe preche and eke counceilen.
With hondis wille I not traveilen,
For of the Pope I have the bulle --
I ne holde not my wittes dulle.
I wole not stynten, in my lyve,
6850 These emperoures for to shryve,
Or kyngis, dukis, lordis grete;
But pore folk al quyte I lete.
I love no such shryvyng, parde,
But it for other cause be.
I rekke not of pore men --
Her astat is not worth an hen.
Where fyndest thou a swynker of labour
Have me unto his confessour?
But emperesses and duchesses,
6860 Thise queenes, and eke countesses,
Thise abbessis, and eke bygyns,
These grete ladyes palasyns,
These joly knyghtis and baillyves,
Thise nonnes, and thise burgeis wyves,
That riche ben and eke plesyng,
And thise maidens welfaryng,
Wherso they clad or naked be,
Uncounceiled goth ther noon fro me.
And, for her soules savete,
6870 At lord and lady, and her meyne,
I axe, whanne thei hem to me shryve,
The proprete of al her lyve,
And make hem trowe, bothe meest and leest,
Hir paroch-prest nys but a beest
Ayens me and my companye,
That shrewis ben as gret as I;
Fro whiche I wole not hide in hold
No pryvete that me is told,
That I by word or signe, ywis,
6880 [Ne] wole make hem knowe what it is,
And they wolen also tellen me;
They hele fro me no pryvyte.
And for to make yow hem perceyven,
That usen folk thus to disceyven,
I wole you seyn, withouten drede,
What men may in the gospel rede
Of Seynt Mathew, the gospelere,
That seith, as I shal you sey heere:
"`Uppon the chaire of Moyses' --
6890 Thus is it glosed, douteles,
That is the Olde Testament,
For therby is the chaire ment --
`Sitte Scribes and Pharisen;'
That is to seyn, the cursid men
Whiche that we ypocritis calle.
`Doth that they preche, I rede you alle,
But doth not as they don a del;
That ben not wery to seye wel,
But to do wel no will have they.
6900 And they wolde bynde on folk alwey,
That ben to be begiled able,
Burdons that ben importable;
On folkes shuldris thinges they couchen,
That they nyl with her fyngris touchen.'"
"And why wole they not touche it?" "Why?
For hem ne lyst not, sikirly;
For sadde burdons that men taken
Make folkes shuldris aken.
And if they do ought that good be,
6910 That is for folk it shulde se.
Her bordurs larger maken they,
And make her hemmes wide alwey,
And loven setes at the table,
The firste and most honourable;
And for to han the first chaieris
In synagogis, to hem full deere is.
And willen that folk hem loute and grete,
Whanne that they passen thurgh the strete,
And wolen be cleped `maister' also.
6920 But they ne shulde not willen so;
The gospel is ther-ageyns, I gesse,
That shewith wel her wikkidnesse.
"Another custome use we:
Of hem that wole ayens us be,
We hate hem deedly everichon,
And we wole werrey hem, as oon.
Hym that oon hatith, hate we alle,
And congecte hou to don hym falle.
And if we seen hym wynne honour,
6930 Richesse, or preis, thurgh his valour,
Provende, rent, or dignyte,
Ful fast, iwys, compassen we
Bi what ladder he is clomben so;
And for to maken hym doun to go,
With traisoun we wole hym defame,
And don hym leese his goode name.
Thus from his ladder we hym take,
And thus his freendis foes we make;
But word ne wite shal he noon,
6940 Till alle his freendis ben his foon.
For if we dide it openly,
We myght have blame redily;
For hadde he wist of oure malice,
He hadde hym kept, but he were nyce.
"Another is this, that if so falle
That ther be oon amonge us alle
That doth a good turn, out of drede,
We seyn it is oure alder deede.
Ye, sikerly, though he it feyned,
6950 Or that hym list, or that hym deyned
A man thurgh hym avaunced be;
Therof all parseners be we,
And tellen folk, whereso we go,
That man thurgh us is sprongen so.
And for to have of men preysyng,
We purchace, thurgh oure flateryng,
Of riche men of gret pouste
Lettres to witnesse oure bounte,
So that man weneth, that may us see,
6960 That alle vertu in us be.
And alwey pore we us feyne;
But how so that we begge or pleyne,
We ben the folk, without lesyng,
That all thing have without havyng.
Thus be we dred of the puple, iwis.
And gladly my purpos is this:
I dele with no wight, but he
Have gold and tresour gret plente.
Her acqueyntaunce wel love I;
6970 This is moche my desir, shortly.
I entremete me of brokages,
I make pees and mariages,
I am gladly executour,
And many tymes procuratour;
I am somtyme messager,
That fallith not to my myster;
And many tymes I make enquestes --
For me that office not honest is.
To dele with other mennes thing,
6980 That is to me a gret lykyng.
And if that ye have ought to do
In place that I repeire to,
I shal it speden, thurgh my witt,
As soone as ye have told me it.
So that ye serve me to pay,
My servyse shal be youre alway.
But whoso wole chastise me,
Anoon my love lost hath he;
For I love no man, in no gise,
6990 That wole me repreve or chastise.
But I wolde al folk undirtake,
And of no wight no teching take;
For I, that other folk chastie,
Wole not be taught fro my folie.
"I love noon hermitage more.
All desertes and holtes hore,
And grete wodes everichon,
I lete hem to the Baptist John.
I queth hym quyt and hym relesse
7000 Of Egipt all the wildirnesse.
To fer were alle my mansiounes
Fro citees and goode tounes.
My paleis and myn hous make I
There men may renne ynne openly,
And sey that I the world forsake,
But al amydde I bilde and make
My hous, and swimme and pley therynne,
Bet than a fish doth with his fynne.
"Of Antecristes men am I,
7010 Of whiche that Crist seith openly,
They have abit of hoolynesse,
And lyven in such wikkednesse.
Outward, lambren semen we,
Fulle of goodnesse and of pitee,
And inward we, withouten fable,
Ben gredy wolves ravysable.
We enviroune bothe lond and se;
With all the world werreyen we;
We wole ordeyne of alle thing,
7020 Of folkis good, and her lyvyng.
"If ther be castel or citee,
Wherynne that ony bouger be,
Although that they of Milayn were
(For therof ben they blamed there);
Or if a wight out of mesure
Wolde lene his gold, and take usure,
For that he is so coveitous;
Or if he be to leccherous,
Or theef [or] haunte symonye,
7030 Or provost full of trecherie,
Or prelat lyvyng jolily,
Or prest that halt his quene hym by,
Or olde horis hostilers,
Or other bawdes or bordillers,
Or elles blamed of ony vice
Of which men shulden don justice:
Bi all the seyntes that me pray,
But they defende them with lamprey,
With luce, with elys, with samons,
7040 With tendre gees and with capons,
With tartes, or with cheses fat,
With deynte flawnes brode and flat,
With caleweis, or with pullaylle,
With conynges, or with fyn vitaille,
That we, undir our clothes wide,
Maken thourgh oure golet glide;
Or but he wole do come in haste
Roo-venysoun, bake in paste;
Whether so that he loure or groyne,
7050 He shal have of a corde a loigne,
With whiche men shal hym bynde and lede,
To brenne hym for his synful deede,
That men shull here hym crie and rore
A myle-wey aboute, and more;
Or ellis he shal in prisoun dye,
But if he wole oure frendship bye,
Or smerten that that he hath do,
More than his gilt amounteth to.
But, and he couth. thurgh his sleight,
7060 Do maken up a tour of height,
Nought rought I whethir of ston, or tree,
Or erthe, or turves though it be,
Though it were of no vounde ston,
Wrought with squyre and scantilon,
So that the tour were stuffed well
With alle richesse temporell,
And thanne that he wolde updresse
Engyns, bothe more and lesse,
To cast at us by every side,
7070 To bere his goode name wide,
Such sleghtes [as] I shal yow nevene,
Barelles of wyn, by sixe or sevene,
Or gold in sakkis gret plente,
He shulde soone delyvered be.
And if [he have] noon sich pitaunces,
Late hym study in equipolences,
And late lyes and fallaces,
If that he wolde deserve oure graces;
Or we shal bere hym such witnesse
7080 Of synne and of his wrecchidnesse,
And don his loos so wide renne,
That al quyk we shulden hym brenne;
Or ellis yeve hym such penaunce,
That is wel wors than the pitaunce.
"For thou shalt never, for nothing,
Kon knowen aright by her clothing
The traitours fulle of trecherie,
But thou her werkis can aspie.
And ne hadde the goode kepyng be
7090 Whilom of the universite,
That kepith the key of Cristendom,
Suche ben the stynkyng prophetis;
Nys non of hem that good prophete is,
For they thurgh wikked entencioun,
The yeer of the Incarnacioun,
A thousand and two hundred yeer,
Fyve and fifty, ferther ne neer,
Broughten a book, with sory grace,
7100 To yeven ensample in comune place,
That seide thus, though it were fable:
`This is the gospel perdurable,
That fro the Holy Goost is sent.'
Wel were it worth to ben brent!
Entitled was in such manere
This book, of which I telle heere.
Ther nas no wight in all Parys,
Biforne Oure Lady, at parvys,
7110 To copy if hym talent tok.
There myght he se, by gret tresoun,
Full many fals comparisoun:
`As moche as, thurgh his grete myght,
Be it of hete or of lyght,
The sonne sourmounteth the mone,
That troublere is, and chaungith soone,
And the note-kernell the shelle
(I scorne not that I yow telle),
Right so, withouten ony gile,
7120 Sourmounteth this noble evangile
The word of ony evangelist.'
And to her title they token Crist.
And many a such comparisoun,
Of which I make no mencioun,
Mighte men in that book fynde,
Whoso coude of hem have mynde.
"The universite, that tho was aslep,
Gan for to braide and taken kep;
And at the noys the heed upcaste,
7130 Ne never sithen slept it faste,
But up it stert, and armes tok
Ayens this fals horrible bok,
Al redy bateil [for] to make,
And to the juge the book to take.
But they that broughten the bok there
Hent it anoon awey, for fere.
They nolde shewe more a del,
But thenne it kept, and kepen will,
Til such a tyme that they may see
7140 That they so stronge woxen be
That no wyght may hem wel withstonde,
For by that book [they] durst not stonde.
Awey they gonne it for to bere,
For they ne durst not answere
By exposicioun ne glose
To that that clerkis wole appose
Ayens the cursednesse, iwys,
That in that book writen is.
Now wot I not, ne I can not see
7150 What maner eende that there shal be
Of al this [bok] that they hyde;
But yit algate they shal abide
Til that they may it bet defende.
This, trowe I best, wol be her ende.
"Thus, Antecrist abiden we,
For we ben alle of his meyne;
And what man that wole not be so,
Right soone he shal his lyf forgo.
We wole a puple upon hym areyse,
7160 And thurgh oure gile don hym seise,
And hym on sharpe speris ryve,
Or other weyes brynge hym fro lyve,
But if that he wole folowe, iwis,
That in oure book writen is.
"Thus mych wole oure book signifie,
That while Petre hath maistrie,
May never John shewe well his myght.
Now have I you declared right
The menyng of the bark and rynde,
7170 That makith the entenciouns blynde;
But now at erst I wole bigynne
To expowne you the pith withynne:
And the seculers comprehende,
That Cristes lawe wole defende,
And shulde it kepen and mayntenen
Ayenes hem that all sustenen,
And falsly to the puple techen.
And John bitokeneth hem that prechen
That ther nys lawe covenable
7180 But thilke gospel perdurable,
That fro the Holy Gost was sent
To turne folk that ben myswent.
"The strengthe of John they undirstonde
The grace, in which they seie they stonde,
That doth the synfull folk converte,
And hem to Jesus Crist reverte.
Full many another orribilite
May men in that book se,
That ben comaunded, douteles,
7190 Ayens the lawe of Rome expres;
And all with Antecrist they holden,
As men may in the book biholden.
And thanne comaunden they to sleen
Alle tho that with Petre been;
But they shal nevere have that myght,
And, God toforn, for strif to fight,
That they ne shal ynowe fynde
That Petres lawe shal have in mynde,
And evere holde, and so mayntene,
7200 That at the last it shal be sene
That they shal alle come therto,
For ought that they can speke or do.
And thilke lawe shal not stonde,
That they by John have undirstonde,
But, maugre hem, it shal adown,
And ben brought to confusioun.
But I wole stynt of this matere,
For it is wonder longe to here.
But hadde that ilke book endured,
7210 Of better estat I were ensured,
And freendis have I yit, pardee,
That han me sett in gret degre.
"Of all this world is emperour
Gyle my fadir, the trechour,
And emperisse my moder is,
Maugre the Holy Gost, iwis.
Oure myghty lynage and oure rowte
Regneth in every regne aboute;
And well is worthy we maistres be,
7220 For all this world governe we,
And can the folk so wel disceyve
That noon oure gile can perceyve.
And though they don, they dar not seye;
The sothe dar no wight bywreye.
But he in Cristis wrath hym ledith,
That more than Crist my britheren dredith.
He nys no full good champioun,
That dredith such simulacioun,
Nor that for peyne wole refusen
7230 Us to correcte and accusen.
He wole not entremete by right,
Ne have God in his eye-sight,
And therfore God shal hym punyshe.
But me ne rekketh of no vice,
Sithen men us loven comunably,
And holden us for so worthy
That we may folk repreve echoon,
And we nyl have repref of noon.
Whom shulden folk worshipen so
7240 But us, that stynten never mo
To patren while that folk may us see,
Though it not so bihynde be?
"And where is more wod folye
Than to enhaunce chyvalrie,
And love noble men and gay,
That joly clothis weren alway?
If they be sich folk as they semen,
So clene, as men her clothis demen,
And that her wordis folowe her dede,
7250 It is gret pite, out of drede,
For they wole be noon ypocritis!
Of hem, me thynketh, gret spite is.
I can not love hem on no side.
But beggers with these hodes wide,
With sleighe and pale faces lene,
And greye clothis not full clene,
But fretted full of tatarwagges,
And highe shoos, knopped with dagges,
That frouncen lyke a quaile pipe,
7260 Or botis rivelyng as a gype;
To such folk as I you dyvyse
Shulde princes, and these lordis wise,
Take all her londis and her thingis,
Bothe werre and pees, in governyngis;
To such folk shulde a prince hym yive,
That wolde his lyf in honour lyve.
"And if they be not as they seme,
That serven thus the world to queme,
There wolde I dwelle, to disceyve
7270 The folk, for they shal not perceyve.
But I ne speke in no such wise,
That men shulde humble abit dispise,
So that no pride ther-undir be.
No man shulde hate, as thynkith me,
The pore man in sich clothyng.
But God ne preisith hym nothing,
That seith he hath the world forsake,
And hath to worldly glorie hym take,
And wole of siche delices use.
7280 Who may that begger wel excuse,
That papelard, that hym yeldith so,
And wole to worldly ese go,
And seith that he the world hath left,
And gredily it grypeth eft?
He is the hound, shame is to seyn,
That to his castyng goth ageyn.
"But unto you dar I not lye.
But myght I felen or aspie
That ye perceyved it no thyng,
7290 Ye shulde have a stark lesyng
Right in youre honde thus, to bigynne;
I nolde it lette for no synne."
The god lough at the wondir tho,
And every wight gan laugh also,
And seide, "Lo, heere a man aright
For to be trusty to every wight!"
"Fals-Semblant," quod Love, "sey to me,
Sith I thus have avaunced thee,
That in my court is thi dwellyng,
7300 And of ribawdis shalt be my kyng,
Wolt thou wel holden my forwardis?"
"Ye, sir, from hennes forwardis;
Hadde never youre fadir heere-biforn
Servaunt so trewe, sith he was born."
"That is ayenes all nature."
"Sir, putte you in that aventure.
For though ye borowes take of me,
The sikerer shal ye never be
For ostages, ne sikirnesse,
7310 Or chartres, for to bere witnesse.
I take youresilf to recorde heere,
That men ne may in no manere
Teren the wolf out of his hide,
Til he be flayn, bak and side,
Though men hym bete and al defile.
What! Wene ye that I nil bigile
For I am clothed mekely?
Ther-undir is all my trechery;
Myn herte chaungith never the mo
7320 For noon abit in which I go.
Though I have chere of symplenesse,
I am not wery of shrewidnesse.
My lemman, Streyned-Abstinaunce,
Hath myster of my purveaunce;
She hadde ful longe ago be deed,
Nere my councel and my red.
Lete hir allone, and you and me."
And Love answerde, "I truste thee
Withoute borowe, for I wole noon."
7330 And Fals-Semblant, the theef, anoon,
Ryght in that ilke same place,
That hadde of tresoun al his face
Ryght blak withynne and whit withoute,
Thankyth hym, gan on his knees loute.
Thanne was ther nought but, "Every man
Now to assaut, that sailen can,"
Quod Love, "and that full hardyly!"
Thanne armed they hem communly
Of sich armour as to hem fel.
7340 Whanne they were armed, fers and fel,
They wente hem forth, alle in a route,
And set the castel al aboute.
They will nought away, for no drede,
Till it so be that they ben dede,
Or til they have the castel take.
And foure batels they gan make,
And parted hem in foure anoon,
And toke her way, and forth they gon,
The foure gates for to assaile,
7350 Of whiche the kepers wole not faile;
For they ben neithir sike ne dede,
But hardy folk, and stronge in dede.
Now wole I seyn the countynaunce
Of Fals-Semblant and Abstynaunce,
That ben to Wikkid-Tonge went.
But first they heelde her parlement,
Whether it to done were
To maken hem be knowen there,
Or elles walken forth disgised.
7360 But at the laste they devysed
That they wolde gon in tapinage,
As it were in a pilgrimage,
Lyke good and hooly folk unfeyned.
And Dame Abstinence-Streyned
Tok on a robe of kamelyne,
And gan hir graithe as a Bygyne.
A large coverechief of thred
She wrapped all aboute hir heed,
But she forgat not hir sawter;
7370 A peire of bedis eke she ber
Upon a las, all of whit thred,
On which that she hir bedes bed.
But she ne bought hem never a del,
For they were geven her, I wot wel,
God wot, of a full hooly frere,
That seide he was hir fadir dere,
To whom she hadde ofter went
Than ony frere of his covent.
And he visited hir also,
7380 And many a sermoun seide hir to;
He nolde lette, for man on lyve,
That he ne wolde hir ofte shryve.
And with so great devocion
They made her confession,
That they had ofte, for the nones,
Two heedes in oon hood at ones.
Of fayre shap I devyse her the,
But pale of face somtyme was she;
That false traytouresse untrewe
7390 Was lyk that salowe hors of hewe,
That in the Apocalips is shewed,
That signifyeth tho folk beshrewed
That ben al ful of trecherye,
And pale through hypocrisye;
For on that hors no colour is,
But only deed and pale, ywis.
Of such a colour enlangoured
Was Abstynence, iwys, coloured;
Of her estat she her repented,
7400 As her visage represented.
She had a burdown al of Thefte,
That Gyle had yeve her of his yefte;
And a skryppe of Faynt Distresse,
That ful was of elengenesse;
And forth she walked sobrely.
And Fals-Semblant saynt, je vous die,
Had, as it were for such mister,
Don on the cope of a frer,
With chere symple and ful pytous.
7410 Hys lokyng was not disdeynous,
Ne proud, but meke and ful pesyble.
About his necke he bar a byble,
And squierly forth gan he gon,
And, for to rest his lymmes upon,
He had of Treason a potente;
As he were feble, his way he wente.
But in his sleve he gan to thringe
A rasour sharp and wel bytynge,
That was forged in a forge,
7420 Which that men clepen Coupe-Gorge.
So longe forth her way they nomen,
Tyl they to Wicked-Tonge comen,
That at his gate was syttyng,
And saw folk in the way passyng.
The pilgrymes saw he faste by,
That beren hem ful mekely,
And humbly they with him mette.
Dame Abstynence first him grette,
And sythe him Fals-Semblant salued,
7430 And he hem; but he not remued,
For he ne dredde hem not a del.
For whan he saw her faces wel,
Alway in herte him thoughte so,
He shulde knowe hem bothe two,
For wel he knew Dame Abstynaunce,
But he ne knew not Constreynaunce.
He knew nat that she was constrayned,
Ne of her theves lyve fayned,
But wende she com of wyl al free,
7440 But she com in another degree,
And if of good wyl she began,
That wyl was fayled her than.
And Fals-Semblant had he sayn als,
But he knew nat that he was fals.
Yet fals was he, but his falsnesse
Ne coude he nat espye nor gesse;
For Semblant was so slye wrought,
That Falsnesse he ne espyed nought.
But haddest thou knowen hym beforn,
7450 Thou woldest on a bok have sworn,
Whan thou him saugh in thylke aray,
That he, that whilom was so gay,
And of the daunce joly Robyn,
Was tho become a Jacobyn.
But sothly, what so men hym calle,
Freres Preachours ben good men alle;
Her order wickedly they beren,
Suche mynstrelles if they weren.
So ben Augustyns and Cordyleres,
7460 And Carmes, and eke Sacked Freeres,
And alle freres, shodde and bare
(Though some of hem ben great and square),
Ful hooly men, as I hem deme;
Everych of hem wolde good man seme.
But shalt thou never of apparence
Sen conclude good consequence
In non argument, ywis,
If existens al fayled is.
For men may fynde alway sophyme
7470 The consequence to envenyme,
Whoso that hath the subtelte
The double sentence for to se.
Whan the pylgrymes commen were
To Wicked-Tonge, that dwelled there,
Her harneys nygh hem was algate;
By Wicked-Tonge adown they sate,
That bad hem ner him for to come,
And of tidynges telle him some,
And sayd hem, "What cas maketh you
7480 To come into this place now?"
"Sir," sayde Strayned-Abstynaunce,
"We, for to drye our penaunce,
With hertes pytous and devoute
Are commen, as pylgrimes gon aboute.
Wel nygh on fote alwey we go;
Ful dusty ben our heeles two;
And thus bothe we ben sent
Throughout this world, that is miswent,
To yeve ensample, and preche also.
7490 To fysshen synful men we go,
For other fysshynge ne fysshe we.
And, sir, for that charyte,
As we be wonte, herborowe we crave,
Your lyf to amende, Christ it save!
And, so it shulde you nat displese,
We wolden, if it were youre ese,
A short sermon unto you sayn."
And Wicked-Tonge answered agayn:
"The hous," quod he, "such as ye see,
7500 Shal nat be warned you for me.
Say what you lyst, and I wol here."
"Graunt mercy, swete sire dere!"
Quod alderfirst Dame Abstynence,
And thus began she her sentence:
"Sir, the firste vertu, certayn,
The greatest and moste soverayn
That may be founde in any man,
For havynge, or for wyt he can,
That is his tonge to refrayne;
7510 Therto ought every wight him payne.
For it is better stylle be
Than for to speken harm, parde!
And he that herkeneth it gladly,
He is no good man, sykerly.
"And, sir, aboven al other synne,
In that art thou most gylty inne.
Thou spake a jape not longe ago,
(And, sir, that was ryght yvel do)
Of a young man that here repayred,
7520 And never yet this place apayred.
Thou saydest he awayted nothyng
But to disceyve Fayr-Welcomyng;
Ye sayde nothyng soth of that.
But, sir, ye lye, I tel you plat.
He ne cometh no more, ne goth, parde!
I trowe ye shal him never se.
Fayr-Welcomyng in prison is,
That ofte hath played with you, er this,
The fayrest games that he coude,
7530 Withoute fylthe, stylle or loude.
Now dar he nat himself solace.
Ye han also the man do chace,
That he dar neyther come ne go.
What meveth you to hate him so,
But properly your wicked thought,
That many a fals leasyng hath thought
That meveth your foole eloquence,
That jangleth ever in audyence,
And on the folk areyseth blame,
7540 And doth hem dishonour and shame,
For thyng that may have no prevyng,
But lyklynesse, and contryvyng?
"For I dar sayn that Reson demeth
It is nat al soth thyng that semeth,
And it is synne to controve
Thyng that is to reprove.
This wote ye wel, and sir, therfore
Ye arn to blame the more.
And nathelesse, he recketh lyte;
7550 He yeveth nat now therof a myte.
For if he thoughte harm, parfay,
He wolde come and gon al day;
He coude himselve nat abstene.
Now cometh he nat, and that is sene,
For he ne taketh of it no cure,
But if it be through aventure,
And lasse than other folk, algate.
And thou her watchest at the gate,
With spere in thyn arest alway;
7560 There muse, musard, al the day.
Thou wakest night and day for thought;
Iwis, thy traveyle is for nought;
And Jelousye, withouten fayle,
Shal never quyte the thy traveyle.
And skathe is that Fayr-Welcomyng,
Withouten any trespassyng,
Shal wrongfully in prison be,
There wepeth and languyssheth he.
And though thou never yet, ywis,
7570 Agyltest man no more but this,
(Take nat a-gref) it were worthy
To putte the out of this bayly,
And afterward in prison lye,
And fettre the tyl that thou dye;
For thou shalt for this synne dwelle
Right in the devels ers of helle,
But if that thou repente thee."
"Ma fay, thou liest falsly!" quod he.
"What? Welcome with myschaunce now!
7580 Have I therfore herbered yow,
To seye me shame, and eke reprove?
With sory hap, to youre bihove,
Am I to day youre herberger!
Go herber yow elleswhere than heer,
That han a lyer called me!
Two tregetours art thou and he,
That in myn hous do me this shame,
And for my soth-sawe ye me blame.
Is this the sermoun that ye make?
7590 To all the develles I me take,
Or elles, God, thou me confounde,
But, er men diden this castel founde,
It passith not ten daies or twelve,
But it was told right to myselve,
And as they seide, right so tolde I,
He kyst the Rose pryvyly!
Thus seide I now, and have seid yore;
I not wher he dide ony more.
Why shulde men sey me such a thyng,
7600 If it hadde ben gabbyng?
Ryght so seide I, and wol seye yit;
I trowe, I lied not of it.
And with my bemes I wole blowe
To alle neighboris a-rowe,
How he hath bothe comen and gon."
Tho spak Fals-Semblant right anon:
"All is not gospel, out of doute,
That men seyn in the town aboute.
Ley no deef ere to my spekyng;
7610 I swere yow, sir, it is gabbyng!
I trowe ye wote wel, certeynly,
That no man loveth hym tenderly
That seith hym harm, if he wot it,
All he be never so pore of wit.
And soth is also, sikerly
(This knowe ye, sir, as wel as I),
That lovers gladly wole visiten
The places there her loves habiten.
This man yow loveth and eke honoureth.
7620 This man to serve you laboureth,
And clepith you his freend so deere:
And this man makith you good chere,
And everywhere that [he] you meteth,
He yow saloweth, and he you greteth.
He preseth not so ofte that ye
Ought of his come encombred be;
Ther presen other folk on yow
Full ofter than he doth now.
And if his herte hym streyned so
7630 Unto the Rose for to go,
Ye shulde hym sen so ofte nede,
That ye shulde take hym with the dede.
He cowde his comyng not forbere,
Though me hym thrilled with a spere;
It nere not thanne as it is now.
But trusteth wel, I swere it yow,
That it is clene out of his thought.
Sir, certis, he ne thenkith it nought;
No more ne doth Fair-Welcomyng,
7640 That sore abieth al this thing.
And if they were of oon assent,
Full soone were the Rose hent;
The maugre youres wolde be.
And sir, of o thing herkeneth me,
Sith ye this man that loveth yow
Han seid such harm and shame now,
Witeth wel, if he gessed it,
Ye may wel demen in youre wit
He nolde nothyng love you so,
7650 Ne callen you his freend also,
But nyght and day he wolde wake
The castell to destroie and take,
If it were soth as ye devise;
Or som man in som maner wise
Might it warne hym everydel,
Or by hymsilf perceyven wel.
For sith he myght not come and gon,
As he was whilom wont to don,
He myght it sone wite and see;
7660 But now all other wise doth he.
Thanne have [ye], sir, al outerly,
Deserved helle, and jolyly
The deth of helle, douteles,
That thrallen folk so gilteles."
Fals-Semblant proveth so this thing
That he can noon answeryng,
And seth alwey such apparaunce
That nygh he fel in repentaunce,
And seide hym, "Sir, it may wel be.
7670 Semblant, a good man semen ye,
And, Abstinence, full wise ye seme.
Of o talent you bothe I deme.
What counceil wole ye to me yiven?"
"Ryght heere anoon thou shalt be shryven,
And sey thy synne withoute more;
Of this shalt thou repente sore.
For I am prest and have pouste
To shryve folk of most dignyte
That ben, as wide as world may dure.
7680 Of all this world I have the cure,
And that hadde never yit persoun,
Ne vicarie of no maner toun.
And, God wot, I have of thee
A thousand tyme more pitee
Than hath thi preest parochial,
Though he thy freend be special.
I have avauntage, in o wise,
That youre prelatis ben not so wise
Ne half so lettred as am I.
7690 I am licenced boldely
To reden in divinite,
And longe have red. . . .