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


Book 1

 Allas! I wepynge, am constreyned to bygynnen
 vers of sorwful matere, that whilom in florysschyng
 studie made delitable ditees. For
 lo, rendynge muses of poetes enditen to me
 thynges to ben writen, and drery vers of wretchidnesse
 weten my face with verray teres. At
 the leeste, no drede ne myghte overcomen
 tho muses, that thei ne were felawes, and folwyden
 my wey (that is to seyn, whan
10 I was exiled). They that weren glorie of
 my youthe, whilom weleful and grene,
 conforten nowe the sorwful wyerdes of me, olde
 man. For eelde is comyn unwarly uppon me,
 hasted by the harmes that Y have, and sorwe
 hath comandid his age to ben in me. Heeris hore
 arn schad overtymeliche upon myn heved, and
 the slakke skyn trembleth of myn emptid body.
 Thilke deth of men is weleful that ne comyth
 noght in yeeris that ben swete, but
20 cometh to wrecches often yclepid. Allas,
 allas! With how deef an ere deth, cruwel,
 turneth awey fro wrecches and nayteth to
 closen wepynge eien. Whil Fortune, unfeithful,
 favourede me with lyghte goodes, the sorwful
 houre (that is to seyn, the deth) hadde almoost
 dreynt myn heved. But now, for Fortune
 cloudy hath chaunged hir deceyvable
 chere to meward, myn unpietous lif draweth
 along unagreable duellynges in me. O ye,
30 my frendes, what or wherto avaunted ye
 me to be weleful? For he that hath fallen stood
 noght in stedefast degre.
 In the mene while that I, stille, recordede
 these thynges with myself and merkid my weply
 compleynte with office of poyntel, I saw,
 stondynge aboven the heghte of myn heved, a
 womman of ful greet reverence by semblaunt,
 hir eien brennynge and cleer-seynge over the
 comune myghte of men; with a lifly colour
 and with swich vigour and strengthe that it ne
 myghte nat ben emptid, al were it so
10 that sche was ful of so greet age that men
 ne wolden nat trowen in no manere that
 sche were of our elde. The stature of hire was
 of a doutous jugement, for somtyme sche constreyned
 and schronk hirselven lik to the comune
 mesure of men, and somtyme it semede
 that sche touchede the hevene with the heghte
 of here heved. And whan sche hef hir heved
 heyere, sche percede the selve hevene so that
 the sighte of men lokynge was in ydel.
20 Hir clothes weren makid of right delye
 thredes and subtil craft of perdurable matere;
 the whiche clothes sche hadde woven with
 hir owene handes, as I knew wel aftir by hirselve
 declarynge and schewynge to me. The
 beaute [of] the whiche clothes a derknesse of a
 forleten and despised elde hadde duskid and
 dirked, as it is wont to dirken besmokede
 ymages. In the nethereste hem or bordure of
 thise clothes, men redden ywoven in a
30 Grekissch P (that signifieth the lif actif);
 and aboven that lettre, in the heieste
 bordure, a Grekyssh T (that signifieth the lif
 contemplatif). And bytwixen thise two lettres
 ther were seyn degrees nobly ywrought in
 manere of laddres, by whiche degrees men
 myghten clymben fro the nethereste lettre to the
 uppereste. Natheles handes of some men hadden
 korve that cloth by violence and by
 strengthe, and everich man of hem hadde
40 boren awey swiche peces as he myghte
 geten. And forsothe this forseide womman bar
 smale bokis in hir right hand, and in hir left hand
 sche bar a ceptre.
 And whan she saughe thise poetical muses
 aprochen aboute my bed and enditynge wordes
 to my wepynges, sche was a litil amoeved, and
 glowede with cruel eighen. "Who," quat sche,
 "hath suffred aprochen to this sike man thise
 comune strompettis of swich a place that
50 men clepen the theatre? The whiche nat
 oonly ne asswagen noght his sorwes with
 none remedies, but thei wolden fedyn and
 noryssen hym with sweete venym. Forsothe
 thise ben tho that with thornes and prikkynges
 of talentz or affeccions, whiche that ne bien
 nothyng fructifyenge nor profitable, destroyen
 the corn plentyvous of fruytes of resoun. For
 thei holden hertes of men in usage, but thei
 delyvre noght folk fro maladye. But yif ye
60 muses hadden withdrawen fro me with
 youre flateries any unkunnynge and unprofitable
 man, as men ben wont to fynde
 comonly among the peple, I wolde wene suffre
 the lasse grevosly; forwhi, in swych an unprofitable
 man, myne ententes weren nothyng
 endamaged. But ye withdrawen me this man,
 that hath ben noryssed in the studies or scoles of
 Eliaticis and Achademycis in Grece. But goth
 now rather awey, ye mermaydenes, whiche
70 that ben swete til it be at the laste, and
 suffreth this man to ben cured and heeled
 by myne muses (that is to seyn, by noteful
 And thus this companye of muses, iblamed,
 casten wrothly the chere dounward to the erthe,
 and, schewynge by rednesse hir schame, thei
 passeden sorwfully the thresschefold. And I, of
 whom the sighte, ploungid in teeres, was dirked
 so that Y ne myghte noght knowen what
80 that womman was of so imperial auctorite,
 I wax al abayssched and astoned, and caste
 my syghte doun to the erthe, and bygan stille for
 to abide what sche woolde doon aftirward. Tho
 com sche ner and sette her doun uppon the
 uttereste corner of my bed; and sche, byholdynge
 my chere that was cast to the erthe
 hevy and grevous of wepynge, compleynede
 with thise wordis that I schal seyn the perturbacion thought.
 "Allas! How the thought of this man, dreynt
 in overthrowynge depnesse, dulleth and forleteth
 his propre clernesse, myntynge to gon into
 foreyne dirknesses as ofte as his anoyos
 bysynes waxeth withoute mesure, that is
 dryven with werldly wyndes. This man, that
 whilom was fre, to whom the hevene was
 opyn and knowen, and was wont to gon in
 hevenliche pathes, and saughe the lyghtnesse
10 of the rede sonne, and saughe the
 sterres of the coolde mone, and whiche
 sterre in hevene useth wandrynge recourses
 iflyt by diverse speeris -- this man, overcomere,
 hadde comprehendid al this by nombre (of
 acontynge in astronomye). And, over this, he
 was wont to seken the causes whennes the sounynge
 wyndes moeven and bysien the smothe
 watir of the see; and what spirit turneth the
 stable hevene; and why the sterre ariseth
20 out of the rede est, to fallen in the westrene
 wawes; and what attemprith the lusty
 houres of the firste somer sesoun, that highteth
 and apparaileth the erthe with rosene
 floures; and who maketh that plentyvous
 autumpne in fulle [yere] fletith with hevy
 grapes. And eek this man was wont to tellen
 the diverse causes of nature that weren yhidd.
 Allas! Now lyth he emptid of lyght of his
 thoght, and his nekke is pressyd with hevy
30 cheynes, and bereth his chere enclyned
 adoun for the grete weyghte, and is constreyned
 to loken on the fool erthe!"
 "But tyme is now," quod sche, "of medicyne
 more than of compleynte." Forsothe thanne
 sche, entendynge to meward with al the lookynge
 of hir eien, seyde: "Art nat thou he,"
 quod sche, "that whilom, norissched with my
 melk and fostred with myne metes, were escaped
 and comyn to corage of a parfit man?
 Certes I yaf the swiche armures that, yif thou
 thiselve ne haddest first cast hem awey,
10 they schulden han defended the in sekernesse
 that mai nat ben overcomyn. Knowestow
 me nat? Why arttow stille? Is it for
 schame or for astonynge? It were me levere
 that it were for schame, but it semeth me that
 astonynge hath oppresside the." And whan sche
 say me nat oonly stille but withouten office
 of tunge and al dowmbe, sche leyde hir hand
 sooftly uppon my breest and seide: "Here nys
 no peril," quod sche; "he is fallen into a
20 litargye, whiche that is a comune seknesse
 to hertes that been desceyved. He hath a
 litil foryeten hymselve, but certes he schal
 lightly remembren hymself yif so be that he
 hath knowen me or now; and that he may so
 doon, I will wipe a litil his eien that ben
 dirked by the cloude of mortel thynges." Thise
 woordes seide sche, and with the lappe of hir
 garnement yplited in a frownce sche dryede
 myn eien, that weren fulle of the wawes of wepynges.
 Thus, whan that nyght was discussed and
 chased awey, dirknesses forleten me, and to
 myn eien repeyred ayen hir firste strengthe.
 And ryght by ensaumple as the sonne is hydd
 whan the sterres ben clustred (that is to seyn,
 whan sterres ben covered with cloudes) by
 a swyft wynd that hyghte Chorus, and that
 the firmament stant dirked with wete plowngy
 cloudes; and that the sterres nat apeeren
10 upon hevene, so that the nyght semeth
 sprad upon erthe: yif thanne the wynde that
 hyghte Boreas, isent out of the kaves of the
 cuntre of Trace, betith this nyght (that is to
 seyn, chaseth it awey) and discovereth the
 closed day, thanne schyneth Phebus ischaken
 with sodeyn light and smyteth with his beemes
 in merveylynge eien.
 Ryght so, and noon other wise, the cloudes
 of sorwe dissolved and doon awey, I took hevene,
 and resceyved mynde to knowe the face
 of my fisycien; so that [whan] [that] I sette myne
 eien on hir and fastned my lookynge, I byholde
 my noryce, Philosophie, in whoos houses I
 hadde conversed and hauntyd fro my youthe;
 and I seide thus: "O thou maystresse of alle
 vertues, descended from the sovereyne
10 sete, whi arttow comen into this solitarie
 place of myn exil? Artow comen for thou
 art maad coupable with me of false blames?"
 "O," quod sche, "my nory, schulde I forsake
 the now, and schulde I nat parten with the by
 comune travaile the charge that thow hast
 suffred for envye of my name? Certes it nere nat
 leveful ne syttynge thyng to Philosophie to leten
 withouten companye the weye of hym that is
 innocent. Schulde I thanne redowte my
20 blame and agrysen as though ther were
 byfallen a newe thyng? For trowestow that
 Philosophie be now alderferst assailed in periles
 by folk of wykkide maneris? Have I noght
 stryven with ful greet strif in old tyme, byfor the
 age of my Plato, ayens the foolhardynesse
 of folye? And eek, the same Plato lyvynge, his
 mayster Socrates desserved victorie of unryghtful
 deth in my presence. The heritage of
 the whiche Socrates (the heritage is to
30 seyn the doctryne of the whiche Socrates
 in his opinyoun of felicite, that I clepe
 welefulnesse) whan that the peple of Epycuriens
 and Stoyciens and manye othere enforceden
 hem to gon ravyssche everyche man for his part
 (that is to seyn, that everych of hem wolde
 drawen to the deffense of his opinyoun the
 wordes of Socrates), they as in partye of hir
 preye todrowen me, cryinge and debatyng
 ther-ayens, and korven and torente my
40 clothes that I hadde woven with myn
 handes; and with tho cloutes that thei
 hadden arased out of my clothes thei wenten
 awey wenynge that I hadde gon with hem every
 del. In whiche Epycuriens and Stoyciens for as
 myche as ther semede some traces or steppes of
 myn abyte, the folie of men wenynge tho
 Epycuryens and Stoyciens my familiers pervertede
 some thurw the errour of the wikkide
 or unkunnynge multitude of hem.
50 (This is to seyn, that for they semeden
 philosophres thei weren pursuyed to the
 deth and slayn.)
 "So yif thou ne hast noght knowen the
 exilynge of Anaxogore, ne the empoisonynge of
 Socrates, ne the turmentz of Zeno, for they
 weren straungiers, yit myghtestow han knowen
 the Senecciens and the Canyos and the Soranas,
 of whiche folk the renoun is neyther over-oold
 ne unsollempne. The whiche men nothyng
60 elles ne broght hem to the deeth but oonly
 for thei weren enformyd of myne maneris,
 and semyde moost unlyk to the studies of
 wykkid folk. And forthi thou oughtest noght to
 wondren thoughe that I, in the byttere see of this
 lif, be fordryven with tempestes blowynge
 aboute, in the whiche this is my moste purpoos,
 that is to seyn to displesen to wikkide men. Of
 whiche schrewes al be the oost nevere so greet,
 it es to despise; for it nys nat governyd with
70 no ledere (of resoun), but it es ravyssched
 oonly by fleetynge errour folyly and
 lyghtly; and yif they somtyme, makynge an oost
 ayens us, assayle us as strengere, our ledere
 draweth togidre his richesses into his tour, and
 they ben ententyf aboute sarpleris or sachelis,
 unprofitable for to taken. But we that ben heghe
 above, syker fro alle tumolte and wood noyse,
 warnstoryd and enclosed in swiche a palys
 whider as that chaterynge or anoyinge
80 folye ne may nat atayne, we scorne swyche
 ravyneres and henteres of fouleste thynges.
 "Whoso it be that is cleer of vertue, sad and
 wel ordynat of lyvynge, that hath put under
 fote the proude wierdes, and loketh upryght
 upon either fortune, he may holden his chere
 undesconfited. The rage ne the manaces of the
 see, commoevynge or chasynge upward hete
 fro the botme, ne schal nat moeve that man.
 Ne the unstable mowntaigne that highte Visevus,
 that writhith out thurw his brokene
10 chemeneyes smokynge fieres, ne the wey of
 thonderleit, that is wont to smyten hye
 toures, ne schal nat moeve that man. Wharto
 thanne, o wrecches, drede ye tirauntz that ben
 wode and felenous withouten ony strengthe?
 Hope aftir no thyng, ne drede nat; and so
 schaltow desarmen the ire of thilke unmyghty
 tiraunt. But whoso that, qwakynge, dredeth
 or desireth thyng that nys noght stable of his
 ryght, that man that so dooth hath cast
20 awey his scheeld, and is remoeved from
 his place, and enlaceth hym in the cheyne
 with whiche he mai ben drawen.
 "Felistow," quod sche, "thise thynges, and
 entren thei aughte in thy corage? Artow like
 an asse to the harpe? Why wepistow, why
 spillestow teeris? Yif thou abidest after helpe
 of thi leche, the byhoveth discovre thy
 Tho I, that hadde gaderyd strengthe in my
 corage, answeride and seide: "And nedeth it
 yit," quod I, "of rehersynge or of ammonicioun?
10 And scheweth it nat ynoghe by
 hymselve the scharpnesse of Fortune, that
 waxeth wood ayens me? Ne moeveth it nat
 the to seen the face or the manere of this place?
 Is this the librarye which that thou haddest
 chosen for a ryght certein sege to the in myn
 hous, there as thow disputedest ofte with me
 of the sciences of thynges touchynge dyvinyte
 and mankynde? Was thanne myn habit
 swiche as it is now? Was my face or my
20 chere swyche as now whan I soghte with
 the the secretis of nature, whan thow enformedest
 my maneris and the resoun of al my
 lif to the ensaumple of the ordre of hevene? Is
 noght this the gerdouns that I referre to the, to
 whom I have ben obeisaunt?
 "Certes thou confermedest by the mouth of
 Plato this sentence, that is to seyn that comune
 thynges or comunalites weren blisful yif they
 that hadden studied al fully to wysdom
30 governeden thilke thynges; or elles yif it so
 befille that the governours of comunalites
 studieden to geten wysdom. Thou seidest eek by
 the mouth of the same Plato that it was a
 necessarie cause wise men to taken and desire
 the governance of comune thynges, for that the
 governementz of cites, ilefte in the handes of
 felonous turmentours citezeens, ne schulde
 noght bryngen in pestilence ande destruccioun
 to good folk. And therfore I, folwynge
40 thilke auctorite, desired to putten forth in
 execucion and in acte of comune administracioun
 thilk thynges that I hadde lernyd
 of the among my secre restyng-whiles.
 "Thow and God, that putte the in the
 thoughtes of wise folk, ben knowynge with me
 that nothyng ne brought me to maistrie or
 dignyte but the comune studie of alle goodnesse.
 And therof cometh it that bytwixen
 wikkid folk and me han ben grevous
50 discordes, that ne myghte nat ben relessed
 by preyeris; for this liberte hath the fredom
 of conscience, that the wraththe of more myghty
 folk hath alwey ben despised of me for savacioun
 of right. How ofte have I resisted and withstonden
 thilke man that highte Connigaste, that
 made alwey assawtes ayens the propre fortunes
 of pore feble folk! How ofte eek have I put of
 or cast out hym Trygwille, provoste of the
 kyngis hous, bothe of the wronges that he
60 hadde bygunne to doon, and ek fully
 performed! How ofte have I covered and
 defended by the auctorite of me put ayens perils
 (that is to seyn, put myn auctorite in peril for)
 the wrecche pore folk, that the covetise of
 straungiers unpunyschid tormentyde alwey with
 myseses and grevances out of nombre! Nevere
 man ne drow me yit fro right to wrong. Whan
 I say the fortunes and the richesses of the peple
 of the provinces ben harmed or amenuced
70 outher be pryve ravynes or by comune
 tributz or cariages, as sory was I as they
 that suffriden the harm. (Glosa. Whan that
 Theodoric, the kyng of Gothes, in a dere yeer,
 hadde his gerneeris ful of corn, and comaundede
 that no man schulde byen no coorn til
 his corn were soold, and that at a grevous dere
 prys, Boece withstood that ordenaunce and
 overcome it, knowynge al this the kyng hymselve.
 Coempcioun is to seyn comune
80 achat or beyinge togidre, that were establissed
 upon the peple by swich a
 manere imposicioun, as whoso boughte a
 busschel corn, he most yyve the kyng the fyfte
 part.) Textus. Whan it was in the sowre hungry
 tyme, ther was establissed or cryed grevous and
 unplitable coempcioun, that men sayen wel it
 schulde gretly tormenten and endamagen al the
 provynce of Campayne, I took stryf ayens the
 provost of the pretorie for comune profit;
90 and, the kyng knowynge of it, Y overcom
 it, so that the coempcioun ne was nat axid
 ne took effect. Paulyn, a conseiller of Rome, the
 richesses of the whiche Paulyn the howndes of
 the paleys (that is to seyn, the officeres) wolden
 han devoured by hope and covetyse, yit drowe
 I hym out of the jowes of hem that gapeden. And
 for as moche as the peyne of the accusacioun
 ajugid byforn ne schulde noght sodeynli henten
 ne punyssche wrongfully Albyn, a
100 conseiller of Rome, I putte me ayens the
 hates and indignacions of the accusour
 Cyprian. Is it nat thanne inoghe isene that I have
 purchaced grete discordes ayens myself? But I
 oughte be the more asseured ayens alle othere
 folk, that for the love of rightwisnesse I ne
 reservede nevere nothyng to myselve to hemward
 of the kyngis halle, by whiche I were the
 more syker. But thurw tho same accusours accusynge
 I am condempned.
110 "Of the nombre of whiche accusours,
 oon Basilius, that whilom was chased out of
 the kyngis servyse, is now compelled in accusynge
 of my name for nede of foreyne moneye.
 Also Opilion and Gaudencius han accused me,
 al be it so that the justise regal hadde whilom
 demed hem bothe to gon into exil for hir trecheries
 and frawdes withouten nombre, to whiche
 juggement they nolden nat obeye, but defendeden
 hem by the sikernesse of holi
120 houses (that is to seyn, fledden into
 seyntewarie); and whan this was aperceyved
 to the kyng, he comandide that, but they
 voydide the cite of Ravenne by certeyn day
 assigned, that men scholde marken hem on the
 forheved with an hoot iren and chasen hem out
 of towne. Now what thyng semyth myghte ben
 likned to this cruelte? For certes thilke same day
 was resceyved the accusynge of myn name by
 thilke same accusours. What may ben seyd
130 herto? Hath my studie and my kunnynge
 disserved thus? Or elles the forseyde
 dampnacioun of me -- made that hem ryghtfulle
 accusours or no? Was noght Fortune
 aschamed of this? Certes, al hadde noght
 Fortune ben aschamed that innocence was
 accused, yit oughte sche han hadde schame of
 the fylthe of myn accusours.
 "But axestow in somme of what gylt I am
 accused? Men seyn that I wolde saven
140 the companye of the senatours. And
 desirestow to heren in what manere? I am
 accused that I schulde han disturbed the
 accusour to beren lettres, by whiche he scholde
 han maked the senatours gylty ayens the kynges
 real majeste. O Maystresse, what demestow of
 this? Schal I forsake this blame, that Y ne be no
 schame to the? Certes I have wolde it (that is to
 seyn, the savacioun of the senat), ne I schal
 nevere letten to wilne it. And that I
150 confesse and am aknowe; but the entente of
 the accusour to ben distorbed schal cese.
 For schal I clepe it thanne a felonye or a synne
 that I have desired the savacioun of the ordre of
 the senat? And certes yit hadde thilke same senat
 don by me thurw hir decretz and hir jugementz
 as thoughe it were a synne and a felonye (that
 is to seyn, to wilne the savacioun of hem). But
 folye, that lyeth alwey to hymselve, may noght
 chaunge the merite of thynges, ne I trowe
160 nat by the jugement of Socrates that it were
 leveful to me to hide the sothe ne assente
 to lesynges.
 "But certes, how so evere it be of this, I putte
 it to gessen or prisen to the jugement of the and
 of wys folk. Of whiche thyng al the ordenaunce
 and the sothe, for as moche as folk that been to
 comen aftir our dayes schullen knowen it, I have
 put it in scripture and in remembraunce. For
 touchynge the lettres falsly maked, by
170 whiche lettres I am accused to han hoped
 the fredom of Rome, what aperteneth me
 to speken therof? Of whiche lettres the fraude
 hadde ben schewed apertely, yif I hadde had
 liberte for to han used and ben at the confessioun
 of myn accusours, the whiche thyng in
 alle nedes hath greet strengthe. For what other
 fredom mai men hopen? Certes I wolde that som
 other fredom myghte ben hoped; I wolde
 thanne han answeryd by the wordys of a
180 man that hyghte Canyus. For whan he was
 accused by Gaius Cesar, Germaynes sone,
 that he was knowynge and consentynge of a
 conjuracioun ymaked ayens hym, this Canyus
 answeride thus: `Yif I hadde wyst it, thou
 haddest noght wyst it.'
 "In whiche thyng sorwe hath noght so dullid
 my wyt that I pleyne oonly that schrewed folk
 apparailen felonyes ayens vertu; but I wondre
 gretly how that thei may performe thynges
190 that thei han hoped for to doon. Forwhy to
 wylne schrewydnesse -- that cometh peraventure
 of our defaute; but it is lyk a monstre
 and a merveyle how that, in the presente
 sight of God, may ben acheved and performed
 swiche thynges as every felonous man
 hath conceyved in his thoght ayens innocentz.
 For whiche thynge oon of thy familiers
 noght unskilfully axed thus: `Yif God
 is, whennes comen wikkide thyngis? And
200 yif God ne is, whennes comen gode
 thynges?' But al hadde it ben leveful that
 felonous folk, that now desiren the blood and
 the deeth of alle gode men and ek of al the senat,
 han wilned to gon destroyen me, whom they han
 seyn alwey bataylen and defenden gode men
 and eek al the senat, yit hadde I nought
 disservyd of the faderes (that is to seyn, of
 the senatours) that they schulden wilne my
210 "Thow remembrest wel, as I gesse, that
 whan I wolde doon or seyn any thyng,
 thow thiselve alwey present reuledest me. [And]
 [wel] [thow] [remembrest] at the cite of Verone,
 whan that the kyng, gredy of comune slaughtre,
 caste hym to transporten upon al the ordre of the
 senat the gilt of his real majeste, of the whiche
 gilt that Albyn was accused, with how gret
 sykernesse of peril to me defended I al the senat!
 Thow woost wel that I sey sooth, ne
220 I n' avawntede me nevere in preysynge
 of myselve. For alwey whan any wyght
 resceyveth precious renoun in avauntynge
 hymselve of his werkes, he amenuseth the secre
 of his conscience. But now thow mayst wel seen
 to what eende I am comen for myn innocence;
 I resceyve peyne of fals felonye for guerdoun of
 verrai vertue. And what opene confessioun of
 felonye hadde evere juges so accordaunt in
 cruelte (that is to seyn, as myn accusynge
230 hath. that either errour of mannys wit, or
 elles condicion of fortune, that is uncerteyn
 to alle mortel folk, ne submyttede some of hem
 (that is to seyn, that it ne enclynede som juge
 to have pite or compassioun)? For althoughe I
 hadde ben accused that I wolde brenne holi
 houses and straungle preestis with wykkid
 sweerd, or that I hadde greythed deth to alle
 gode men, algates the sentence scholde han
 punysshed me present, confessed or convict.
240 But now I am remuwed fro the cite of
 Rome almest fyve hundred thowsand paas,
 I am withoute deffense dampnyd to proscripcion
 and to the deth for the studie and
 bountes that I have doon to the senat. But, O,
 wel ben thei wurthy of meryte (as who seith,
 nay), ther myghte nevere yit noon of hem ben
 convicte of swiche a blame as myn is. Of whiche
 trespas myne accusours sayen ful wel the
 dignete; the whiche dignyte, for thei
250 wolden derken it with medlynge of some
 felonye, they bare me on hande and lieden
 that I hadde pollut and defouled my conscience
 with sacrilegie for covetise of dignyte. And
 certes thou thiselve, that art plaunted in me,
 chacedest out of the sege of my corage alle
 covetise of mortel thynges, ne sacrilege ne
 hadde no leve to han a place in me byforn
 thyne eien. For thow droppiddest every day
 in myn eris and in my thought thilke
260 comaundement of Pictagoras, that is to
 seyn, men schal serven to God and noght
 to goddes. Ne it was noght convenient ne no
 nede to taken help of the fouleste spiritz -- I,
 that thow hast ordeyned and set in swiche
 excellence, that thou makedest me lyk to God.
 And over this, the right clene secre chaumbre of
 myn hous (that is to seyn, my wif), and the
 companye of myne honeste freendes, and
 my wyves fadir, as wel holi as worthy to
270 ben reverenced thurw his owene dedes,
 defenden me fro alle suspecioun of swiche
 blame. But O malice! For they that accusen me
 taken of the, Philosophie, feith of so greet
 blame, for they trowen that I have had affinyte
 to malefice or enchauntement, bycause that I am
 replenysshid and fulfild with thy techynges, and
 enformed of thi maneris. And thus it suffiseth nat
 oonly that thi reverence ne avayle me nat, but yif
 that thow of thy free wil rather be
280 blemessched with myne offencioun.
 "But certes, to the harmes that I have,
 ther bytideth yit this encrees of harm, that the
 gessynge and the jugement of moche folk ne
 loken nothyng to the desertes of thynges, but
 oonly to the aventure of fortune; and jugen
 that oonly swiche thynges ben purveied of
 God, whiche that temporel welefulnesse
 commendeth. (Glose. As thus: that yif a
 wyght have prosperite, he is a good man
290 and worthy to han that prosperite; and
 whoso hath adversite, he is a wikkid
 man, and God hath forsake hym, and he is
 worthy to han that adversite. This is the
 opinyoun of some folk.) Textus. And therof
 cometh that good gessynge, first of alle thynge,
 forsaketh wrecches. Certes it greveth me to
 thynke ryght now the diverse sentences that the
 peple seith of me. And thus moche I seie, that
 the laste charge of contrarious fortune is
300 this: that whan eny blame is leid upon a
 caytif, men wenen that he hath desservyd
 that he suffreth. And I, that am put awey fro
 gode men, and despoyled of dignytes, and
 defouled of myn name by gessynge, have
 suffride torment for my gode dedes. Certes me
 semyth that I se the felonous covynes of wykkid
 men habounden in joye and in gladnesse; and I
 se that every lorel schapeth hym to fynde out
 newe fraudes for to accuse good folk; and
310 I se that goode men [lien] overthrowen for
 drede of my peril, and every luxurious
 turmentour dar doon alle felonye unpunysschyd,
 and ben excited therto by yiftes; and
 innocentz ne ben noght oonly despoiled of
 sikernesse, but of defense; and therfore me lyst manere:
 "O thow makere of the wheel that bereth
 the sterres, whiche that art festnyd to thi perdurable
 chayer, and turnest the hevene with a
 ravysschynge sweighe, and constreynest the
 sterres to suffren thi lawe; so that the moone
 somtyme, schynynge with hir fulle hornes metynge
 with alle the beemes of the sonne hir
 brothir, hideth the sterres that ben lasse; and
 somtyme, whan the moone pale with hir
10 derke hornes aprocheth the sonne, leeseth
 hir lyghtes; and that the eve sterre, Hesperus,
 whiche that in the first tyme of the nyght
 bryngeth forth hir colde arysynges, cometh eft
 ayen hir used cours, and is pale by the morwe
 at rysynge of the sonne, and is thanne clepid
 Lucyfer! Thow restreynest the day by schortere
 duellynge in the tyme of coold wynter that
 maketh the leeves falle. Thow devydest the
 swyfte tydes of the nyght, whan the hote
20 somer is comen. Thy myghte attempreth
 the variauntz sesouns of the yer, so that
 Zephirus, the debonere wynd, bryngeth ayen
 in the first somer sesoun the leeves that the
 wynd that hyghte Boreas hath reft awey in
 autumpne (that is to seie, in the laste ende of
 somer); and the seedes that the sterre that
 highte Arcturus saugh ben waxen heye cornes
 whan the sterre Syrius eschaufeth hem. Ther
 nys no thyng unbounde from his olde lawe,
30 ne forleteth the werk of his propre estat.
 "O thou governour, governynge alle
 thynges by certein ende, whi refusestow oonly
 to governe the werkes of men by duwe manere?
 Why suffrestow that slydynge Fortune turneth
 so grete enterchaungynges of thynges? So
 that anoyous peyne, that scholde duweliche
 punysche felons, punysscheth innocentz; and
 folk of wikkide maneres sitten in heie chayeres;
 and anoyinge folk treden, and that unrightfully,
40 on the nekkes of holi men; and
 vertu, cleer and schynynge naturely, is
 hidde in derke derknesses; and the rightful man
 bereth the blame and the peyne of the feloun; ne
 the forswerynge ne the fraude covered and
 kembd with a false colour, ne anoieth nat to
 schrewes? The whiche schrewes, whan hem list
 to usen hir strengthe, they rejoyssen hem to
 putten undir hem the sovereyne kynges, whiche
 that peple withouten nombre dreden. O
50 thou, what so evere thou be that knyttest
 alle boondes of thynges, loke on thise
 wrecchide erthes. We men, that ben noght a foul
 partie, but a fair partie of so greet a werk, we
 ben turmented in this see of fortune. Thow
 governour, withdraughe and restreyne the
 ravysschynge flodes, and fastne and ferme thise
 erthes stable with thilke boond by whiche thou
 governest the hevene that is so large."
 Whan I hadde with a contynuel sorwe
 sobbyd or borken out thise thynges, sche, with
 hir cheere pesible and nothyng amoeved with
 my compleyntes, seide thus: "Whan I saugh
 the," quod sche, "sorwful and wepynge, I
 wiste anoon that thow were a wrecche and
 exiled; but I wyste nevere how fer thyn exil
 was yif thy tale ne hadde schewid it me. But
 certes, al be thow fer fro thy cuntre, thou
10 n' art nat put out of it, but thow hast fayled
 of thi weye and gon amys. And yif thou
 hast levere for to wene that thow be put out
 of thy cuntre, thanne hastow put out thyselve
 rather than ony other wyght hath. For no
 wyght but thyselve ne myghte nevere han doon
 that to the. For yif thow remembre of what
 cuntre thow art born, it nys nat governed by
 emperoures, ne by governement of multitude,
 as weren the cuntrees of hem of Atthenes;
20 but o lord and o kyng, and that is God, that
 is lord of thi cuntre, whiche that rejoisseth
 hym of the duellynge of his citezeens, and nat
 for to putten hem in exil; of the whiche lord
 it is a sovereyn fredom to ben governed by the
 brydel of hym and obeye to his justice. Hastow
 foryeten thilke ryghte oolde lawe of thi citee, in
 the whiche cite it es ordeyned and establysschid
 that what wyght that hath levere
 founden therin his sete or his hous than
30 elleswhere, he may nat ben exiled by no
 ryght fro that place? For whoso that is
 contened inwith the palys and the clos of
 thilke cite, ther nys no drede that he mai deserve
 to ben exiled; but who that leteth the
 wil for to enhabyten there, he forleteth also
 to deserve to ben citezen of thilke cite. So that
 I seie that the face of this place ne moeveth
 me noght so mochel as thyn owene face, ne
 I ne axe nat rather the walles of thy librarye,
40 apparayled and wrought with yvory
 and with glas, than after the sete of thi
 thought, in whiche I put noght whilom bookes,
 but I putte that that maketh bokes wurthy
 of prys or precyous, that is to seyn the sentence
 of my bookes.
 "And certeynly of thy dessertes bystowed in
 comune good thow hast seyd soth, but after the
 multitude of thy gode dedes thou hast seyd
 fewe. And of the honestete or of the falsnesse
50 of thynges that ben opposed ayens
 the, thow hast remembred thynges that ben
 knowen to alle folk. And of the felonyes and
 fraudes of thyn accusours, it semeth the have
 touched it for sothe ryghtfully and schortly, al
 myghten tho same thynges betere and more
 plentevously ben couth in the mouth of the
 peple that knoweth al this. Thow hast eek
 blamed gretly and compleyned of the wrongdede
 of the senat, and thow hast sorwyd
60 for my blame, and thow hast wepen for
 the damage of thi renoun that is apayred;
 and thi laste sorwe eschaufede ayens Fortune,
 and compleyndest that guerdouns ne ben nat
 eveneliche yolden to the dessertes of folk. And
 in the lattre eende of thy wode muse, thow
 preydest that thilke pees that governeth the
 hevene schulde governe the erthe.
 "But for that many [turbacions] of affeccions
 han assailed the, and sorwe and ire and
70 wepynge todrawen the diversely, as thou
 art now feble of thought, myghtyere remedies
 ne schullen noght yit touchen the. For
 wyche we wol usen somdel lyghtere medicynes,
 so that thilke passiouns that ben waxen hard in
 swellynge by perturbacions flowynge into thy
 thought, mowen waxen esy and softe to resceyven
 the strengthe of a more myghty and
 more egre medicyne, by an esyere touchynge.
 "Whan that the hevy sterre of the Cancre
 eschaufeth by the bemes of Phebus (that is to
 seyn, whan that Phebus the sonne is in the
 sygne of the Cancre), whoso yeveth thanne
 largely his seedes to the feeldes that refusen
 to resceyven hem, lat hym gon, begiled of trust
 that he hadde to his corn, to accornes of okes.
 Yif thow wolt gadere vyolettes, ne go thow
 nat to the purpre wode whan the feeld,
10 chirkynge, agryseth of cold by the felnesse
 of the wynd that hyghte Aquilon. Yif thou
 desirest or wolt usen grapes, ne seek thou nat
 with a glotonos hand to streyne and presse the
 stalkes of the vyne in the first somer sesoun;
 for Bachus, the god of wyn, hath rather yyven
 his yiftes to autumpne (the lattere ende of
 somer). God tokneth and assigneth the tymes,
 ablynge hem to hir propre offices, ne he ne suffreth
 nat the stowndes whiche that hymself
20 hath devyded and constreyned to ben
 imedled togidre. And forthy he that forleteth
 certein ordenaunce of doynge by overthrowynge
 wey, he hath no glad issue or ende of his
 "First wiltow suffre me to touche and assaye
 th' estaat of thi thought by a fewe demaundes,
 so that I may understande what be the manere
 of thi curacioun?"
 "Axe me," quod I, "at thi wille what thou
 wolt, and I schal answere." Tho seyde sche
 thus: "Whethir wenestow," quod sche, "that
 this world be governed by foolyssche happes
 and fortunows, or elles wenestow that ther
10 be inne it ony governement of resoun?"
 "Certes," quod I, "I ne trowe nat in no
 manere that so certeyn thynges schulden be
 moeved by fortunows [folie]; but I woot wel
 that God, makere and maister, is governour of
 his werk, ne nevere nas yit day that myghte
 putte me out of the sothnesse of that sentence."
 "So it is," quod sche, "for the same thyng
 songe thow a litil herebyforn, and bywayledest
 and byweptest, that oonly men weren
20 put out of the cure of God; for of alle othere
 thynges thou ne doutedest the nat that they
 nere governed by resoun. But owgh! I wondre
 gretly, certes, whi that thou art sik, syn that
 thow art put in so holsome a sentence. But lat
 us seken deppere; I conjecte that ther lakketh
 Y not what. But sey me this: syn that thow
 ne doutest noght that this world be governed
 by God, with whiche governayles takestow
 heede that it is governed?"
30 "Unnethes," quod I, "knowe I the sentence
 of thy questioun, so that I ne may
 nat yit answeren to thy demandes."
 "I nas nat desseyved," quod sche, "that ther
 ne faileth somwhat, by whiche the maladye of
 perturbacion is crept into thi thought, so as
 [by] the strengthe of the palys chynynge
 [and] open. But sey me this: remembrestow
 what is the ende of thynges, and whider that
 the entencion of alle kende tendeth?"
40 "I have herd tolde it somtyme," quod I,
 "but drerynesse hath dulled my memorie."
 "Certes," quod sche, "thou wost wel whennes
 that alle thynges bien comen and proceded?"
 "I woot wel," quod I, and answerede that
 God is bygynnynge of al.
 "And how may this be," quod sche, "that,
 syn thow knowest the bygynnynge of thynges,
 that thow ne knowest nat what is the eende
 of thynges? But swiche ben the customes
50 of perturbaciouns, and this power they han,
 that they mai moeve a man from his place
 (that is to seyn, fro the stabelnesse and perfeccion
 of his knowynge); but certes, thei mai nat
 al arrace hym, ne aliene hym in al. But I wolde
 that thou woldest answere to this: Remembrestow
 that thow art a man?"
 Boece. "Whi schulde I nat remembren that?"
 quod I.
 Philosophie. "Maystow noght telle me
60 thanne," quod sche, "what thyng is a man?"
 "Axestow me nat," quod I, "whethir
 that I [woot wel that I] be a resonable mortel
 beste? I woot wel, and I confesse wel that I am
 "Wystestow nevere yit that thow were ony
 othir thyng?" quod sche.
 "No," quod I.
 "Now woot I," quod sche, "other cause of thi
 maladye, and that ryght greet: thow hast
70 left for to knowen thyselve what thou art.
 Thurw whiche I have pleynly fownde the
 cause of thi maladye, or elles the entree of
 recoverynge of thyn hele. For-why, for thow art
 confunded with foryetynge of thiself, forthi
 sorwestow that thow art exiled [and] [despoyled]
 of thy propre goodes; and for thow ne woost
 what is the eende of thynges, forthy demestow
 that felonus and wikkide men ben myghty and
 weleful; and for thow hast foryeten by
80 whiche governementz the werld is governed,
 forthy weenestow that thise mutacions
 of fortunes fleten withouten governour.
 Thise ben grete causes, noght oonly to
 maladye, but certes gret causes to deth. But I
 thanke the auctour and the makere of hele, that
 nature hath nat al forleten the. I have gret
 noryssynges of thyn hele, and that is, the sothe
 sentence of governance of the werld, that thou
 bylevest that the governynge of it nis nat
90 subgit ne underput to the folye of thise
 happes aventurous, but to the resoun of
 God. And therfore doute the nothing, for of this
 litel spark thine heet of liif schal shine.
 "But for as moche as it is nat tyme yet of
 fastere remedies, and the nature of thoughtes
 desceyved is this, that, as ofte as they casten awey
 sothe opynyouns, they clothen hem in false
 opynyouns, of the whiche false opynyouns the
 derknesse of perturbacion waxeth up, that
100 confowndeth the verray insyghte -- [that]
 derknesse schal I assaie somwhat to maken
 thynne and wayk by lyghte and meneliche
 remedies; so that, aftir that the derknesse of
 desceyvynge desyrynges is doon away, thow
 mowe knowe the schynynge of verraye light.
 "The sterres, covred with blake cloudes, ne
 owen yeten adoun no lyght. Yif the truble
 wynd that hyghte Auster, turnynge and walwynge
 the see, edleth the heete (that is to
 seyn, the boylynge up fro the bote), the
 wawes, that whilo weren clere as glas and
 lyk to the fayre bryghte dayes, withstande
 anon the syghtes of en by the filthe and
 ordure that is resolved. And the fleetynge
10 stree, that royleth doun diversely fro heye
 ontaygnes, is areestid and resisted ofte
 tye by the encountrynge of a stoon that is
 departed and fallen fro soe roche. And forthy,
 yif thou wolt loken and deen soth with cleer
 lyght, and hoolden the weye with a ryght path,
 weyve thow joie, dryf fro the drede, flee thow
 hope, ne lat no sorwe aproche (that is to seyn,
 lat non of thise foure passiouns overcoen the
 or blenden the). For cloudy and derk is
20 thilke thoght, and bownde with bridelis,
 where as thise thynges reignen."

Next: Book 2