Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  England  Index  Previous  Next 

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


Book 2

 Aftir this sche stynte a lytel; and after that
 sche hadde ygadrede by atempre stillenesse myn
 attencioun, she seyde thus (as who so myghte
 seyn thus: after thise thynges sche stynte a
 litil, and whan sche aperceyved by atempre
 stillenesse that I was ententyf to herkne hire,
 sche bygan to speke in this wyse): "If I," quod
 sche, "have undirstonden and knowen outrely
 the causes and the habyt of thy maladye,
10 thow languyssest and art desfeted for desir
 and talent of thi rather fortune. Sche (that
 ilke Fortune) oonly, that is chaunged, as
 thow feynest, to the-ward, hath perverted the
 cleernesse and the estat of thi corage. I
 undirstonde the felefolde colours and desceytes
 of thilke merveylous monstre Fortune and how
 sche useth ful flaterynge famylarite with hem
 that sche enforceth to bygyle, so longe, til that
 sche confounde with unsuffrable sorwe
20 hem that sche hath left in despeer unpurveied.
 And yif thou remembrest wel the
 kende, the maneris, and the desserte of thilke
 Fortune, thou shalt wel knowe that, as in hir,
 thow nevere ne haddest ne hast ylost any fair
 thyng. But, as I trowe, I schal nat greetly
 travailen to don the remembren on thise
 thynges. For thow were wont to hurtlen and
 despysen hir with manly woordes whan sche
 was blaundyssching and present, and
30 pursuydest hir with sentences that weren
 drawen out of myn entre (that is to seyn,
 of myn enformacioun). But no sodeyn mutacioun
 ne bytideth noght withouten a manere
 chaungynge of corages; and so is it byfallen
 that thou art a litil departed fro the pees of thi
 "But now is tyme that thou drynke and ataste
 some softe and delitable thynges, so that whanne
 thei ben entred withynne the, it mowe
40 maken wey to strengere drynkes of medycines.
 Com now forth, therfore, the
 suasyoun of swetnesse rethorien, whiche that
 goth oonly the righte wey while sche forsaketh
 nat myn estatutz. And with Rethorice com forth
 Musice, a damoysele of our hous, that syngeth
 now lightere moedes or prolacions, now
 hevyere. What eyleth the, man? What is it that
 hath cast the into moornynge and into wepynge?
 I trow that thou hast seyn some newe thyng
50 and unkouth. Thou wenest that Fortune be
 chaunged ayens the; but thow wenest
 wrong (yif thou that wene): alway tho ben hir
 maneres. Sche hath rather kept, as to the-ward,
 hir propre stablenesse in the chaungynge of
 hirself. Ryght swiche was sche whan sche
 flateryd the and desseyved the with unleful
 lykynges of false welefulnesse. Thou hast now
 knowen and ateynt the doutous or double visage
 of thilke blynde goddesse Fortune. Sche,
60 that yit covereth and wympleth hir to other
 folk, hath schewyd hir every del to the. Yif
 thou approvest here (and thynkest that sche is
 good), use hir maneris and pleyne the nat; and
 yif thou agrisest hir false trecherie, despise and
 cast awey hir that pleyeth so harmfully. For sche,
 that is now cause of so mochel sorwe to the,
 sholde ben cause to the of pees and of joye. Sche
 hath forsaken the, forsothe, the whiche that
 nevere man mai ben siker that sche ne schal
70 forsaken hym. (Glose. But natheles some
 bookes han the texte thus: forsothe sche
 hath forsaken the, ne ther nys no man siker
 that sche ne hath nat forsake.) Holdestow
 thanne thilke welefulnesse precious to the, that
 schal passen? And is present Fortune dereworth
 to the, whiche that nys nat feithful for to duelle,
 and whan sche goth awey that sche bryngeth a
 wyght in sorwe? For syn she may nat ben
 withholden at a mannys wille, [and] sche
80 maketh hym a wrecche whan sche departeth
 fro hym, what other thyng is
 flyttynge Fortune but a maner schewynge of
 wrecchidnesse that is to comen? Ne it suffiseth
 nat oonly to loken on thyng that is present
 byforn the eien of a man; but wisdom loketh and
 mesureth the ende of thynges. And the same
 chaungynge from oon into another (that is to
 seyn, fro adversite into prosperite) maketh that
 the manaces of Fortune ne ben nat for to
90 dreden, ne the flaterynges of hir to ben
 desired. Thus, at the laste, it byhoveth the
 to suffren wyth evene wil in pacience al that is
 doon inwith the floor of Fortune (that is to seyn,
 in this world), syn thou hast oonys put thy nekke
 undir the yok of hir. For yif thow wilt writen a
 lawe of wendynge and of duellynge to Fortune,
 whiche that thow hast chosen frely to ben thi
 lady, artow nat wrongful in that, and makest
 Fortune wroth and aspre by thyn
100 inpacience? And yit thow mayst nat
 chaungen hir. Yif thou committest and
 betakest thi seyles to the wynd, thow schalt ben
 shoven, nat thider that thow woldest, but whider
 that the wynd schouveth the. Yif thow castest thi
 seedes in the feeldes, thou sholdest han in
 mynde that the yeres ben amonges, outherwhile
 plentevous and outherwhile bareyne. Thow hast
 bytaken thiself to the governaunce of Fortune
 and forthi it byhoveth the to ben obeisaunt
110 to the maneris of thi lady. Enforcestow the
 to aresten or withholden the swyftnesse
 and the sweighe of hir turnynge wheel? O thow
 fool of alle mortel foolis! Yif Fortune bygan to
 duelle stable, she cessede thanne to ben Fortune.
 "Whan Fortune with a proud ryght hand hath
 turned hir chaungynge stowndes, sche fareth
 lyke the maneres of the boylynge Eurippe.
 (Glosa. Eurippe is an arm of the see that ebbeth
 and floweth, and somtyme the streem is on
 o side, and somtyme on the tothir.) Textus.
 She, cruel Fortune, casteth adoun kynges that
 whilom weren ydradd; and sche, desceyvable,
 enhaunceth up the humble chere of hym
10 that is discounfited. Ne sche neither heereth
 ne rekketh of wrecchide wepynges; and
 she is so hard that sche leygheth and scorneth
 the wepynges of hem, the whiche sche hath
 maked wepe with hir free wille. Thus sche
 pleyeth, and thus sche prooeveth hir strengthes,
 and scheweth a greet wonder to alle hir servauntz
 yif that a wyght is seyn weleful and
 overthrowe in an houre.
 "Certes I wolde pleten with the a fewe
 thynges, usynge the woordes of Fortune. Tak
 hede now thyselve, yif that sche asketh ryght:
 `O thow man, wherfore makestow me gyltyf by
 thyne every dayes pleynynges? What wrong
 have I don the? What godes have I byreft the
 that weren thyne? Stryf or pleet with me byforn
 what juge that thow wolt of the possessioun
 of rychesses or of dignytees; and yif
10 thou maist schewen me that ever any mortel
 man hath resceyved ony of tho thynges
 to ben hise in propre, thanne wil I graunte freely
 that thilke thynges weren thyne whiche that
 thow axest.
 "Whan that nature brought the foorth out of
 thi modir wombe, I resceyved the nakid and
 nedy of alle thynges, and I norissched the with
 my richesses, and was redy and ententyf thurwe
 my favour to sustene the -- and that maketh
20 the now inpacient ayens me; and I
 envyrounde the with al the habundaunce
 and schynynge of alle goodes that ben in my
 ryght. Now it liketh me to withdrawe myn
 hand. Thow hast had grace as he that hath
 used of foreyne goodes; thow hast no ryght to
 pleyne the, as though thou haddest outrely
 forlorn alle thy thynges. Why pleynestow
 thanne? I have doon the no wrong. Richesses,
 honours, and swiche othere thinges ben of
30 my right. My servauntz knowen me for
 hir lady; they comen with me, and departen
 whan I wende. I dar wel affermen hardely
 that, yif tho thynges of whiche thow pleynest
 that thou hast forlorn [hem] hadden ben
 thyne, thow ne haddest nat lorn hem. Schal
 I thanne, oonly, be defended to usen my ryght?
 "Certes it is leveful to the hevene to maken
 clere dayes, and after that to coveren tho same
 dayes with dirke nyghtes. The yeer hath
40 eek leve to apparaylen the visage of the
 erthe, now with floures, and now with
 fruyt, and to confownden hem somtyme with
 reynes and with coldes. The see hath eek his
 ryght to ben somtyme calm and blaundysschyng
 with smothe watir, and somtyme to ben
 horrible with wawes and with tempestes. But
 the covetise of men, that mai nat be stawnched
 -- schal it bynde me to ben stedfast, syn that
 stidfastnesse is uncouth to my maneris?
50 Swiche is my strengthe, and this pley
 I pleye continuely. I torne the whirlynge
 wheel with the turnynge sercle; I am glad to
 chaungen the loweste to the heyeste, and the
 heyeste to the loweste. Worth up yif thow
 wolt, so it be by this lawe, that thow ne holde
 nat that I do the wroong, though thow descende
 adown whan the resoun of my pley axeth it.
 Wystestow nat how Cresus, kyng of Lydyens,
 of whiche kyng Cirus was ful sore agast a
60 lytil byforn -- that this rewliche Cresus
 was caught of Cirus and lad to the fyer to
 ben brend; but that a rayn descendede down
 fro hevene that rescowyde hym? And is it out
 of thy mynde how that Paulus, consul of Rome,
 whan he had taken the kyng of Percyens, weep
 pitously for the captivyte of the selve kyng?
 What other thynge bywaylen the cryinges of
 tragedyes but oonly the dedes of Fortune, that
 with an unwar strook overturneth the
70 realmes of greet nobleye? (Glose. Tragedye
 is to seyn a dite of a prosperite for a
 tyme, that endeth in wrecchidnesse.) Lernedest
 nat thow in Greek whan thow were yong, that
 in the entre or in the seler of Juppiter ther ben
 cowched two tonnes, the toon is ful of good,
 and the tother is ful of harm? What ryght
 hastow to pleyne, yif thou hast taken more
 plentevously of the gode side (that is to seyn,
 of my richesses and prosperites)? And
80 what ek yif Y ne be nat al departed fro
 the? What eek yif my mutabilite yeveth
 the ryghtful cause of hope to han yit bettere
 thynges? Natheles dismaye the nat in thi
 thought; and thow that art put in the comune
 realme of alle, desire nat to lyven by thyn oonly
 propre ryght.
 "Though Plente that is goddesse of rychesses
 hielde adoun with ful horn, and withdraweth
 nat hir hand, as many richesses as the
 see torneth upward sandes whan it is moeved
 with ravysshynge blastes, or elles as manye
 rychesses as ther schynen bryghte sterres in
 hevene on the sterry nyghtes; yit, for al that,
 mankende nolde nat cese to wepe wrecchide
 pleyntes. And al be it so that God resceyveth
10 gladly hir preiers, and yyveth hem, as
 fool-large, moche gold, and apparayleth
 coveytous folk with noble or cleer honours;
 yit semeth hem haven igeten nothyng, but
 alwey hir cruel ravyne, devourynge al that
 they han geten, scheweth othere gapynges (that
 is to seyn, gapyn and desiren yit after mo rychesses).
 What brydles myghte withholden to
 any certeyn ende the disordene covetise of
 men, whan evere the rather that it fletith
20 in large yiftes, the more ay brenneth in
 hem the thurst of havynge? Certes he that
 qwakynge and dredful weneth hymselven
 nedy, he ne lyveth nevermo ryche.
 "Therfore, yif that Fortune spake with the
 for hirself in this manere, forsothe thow ne
 haddest noght what thou myghtest answere.
 And yif thow hast any thyng wherwith thow
 mayst rightfully defenden thi compleynte, it
 behoveth the to schewen it, and I wol yyve
 the space to tellen it."
 "Serteynly," quod I thanne, "thise ben faire
 thynges and enoynted with hony swetnesse
10 of Rethorik and Musike; and oonly
 whil thei ben herd thei ben delycious, but
 to wrecches is a deppere felyng of harm
 (this is to seyn, that wrecches felen the harmes
 that thei suffren more grevously than the remedies
 or the delites of thise wordes mowen gladen
 or conforten hem). So that, whanne thise
 thynges stynten for to soune in eris, the sorwe
 that es inset greveth the thought."
 "Right so is it," quod sche. "For thise ne
20 ben yit none remedies of thy maladye, but
 they ben a maner norisschynges of thi
 sorwe, yit rebel ayen thi curacioun. For whan
 that tyme is, I schal moeve and ajuste swiche
 thynges that percen hemselve depe. But natheles
 that thow schalt noght wilne to leten thiself
 a wrecche, hastow foryeten the nowmbre
 and the maner of thi welefulnesse? I holde
 me stille how that the sovereyn men of the
 cite token the in cure and in kepynge,
30 whan thow were orphelyn of fadir and of
 modir, and were chose in affynite of
 prynces of the cite; and thow bygonne rather
 to ben leef and deere than for to been a
 neyghebour, the whiche thyng is the moste
 precyous kende of any propinquyte or alliaunce
 that mai ben. Who is it that ne seide tho that
 thow neere right weleful, with so gret a nobleye
 of thi fadres-in-lawe, and with the chastete
 of thy wyf, and with the oportunyte
40 and noblesse of thyne masculyn children
 (that is to seyn, thy sones)? And over al this
 me list to passen of comune thynges, how
 thow haddest in thy youthe dignytees that
 weren wernd to oolde men; but it deliteth
 me to comen now to the synguler uphepynge
 of thi welefulnesse. Yif any fruyt of mortel
 thynges mai han any weyghte or pris of welefulnesse,
 myghtestow evere forgeten, for any
 charge of harm that myghte byfalle the, remembraunce
50 of thilke day that thow seye
 thi two sones maked conseileris and iladde
 togidre fro thyn hous under so greet assemble
 of senatours and under the blithnesse of peple,
 and whan thow saye hem set in the court in
 hir chayeres of dignytes? Thow, rethorien or
 pronouncere of kynges preysynges, desservedest
 glorie of wit and of eloquence whan thow, syttynge
 bytwixen thi two sones conseylers, in the
 place that highte Circo, fulfildest the abydynge
60 of the multitude of peple that was
 sprad abouten the with so large preysynge
 and laude as men syngen in victories. Tho
 yave thow woordes to Fortune, as I trowe, (that
 is to seyn, tho feffedestow Fortune with glosynge
 wordes and desceyvedest hir) whan sche
 accoyede the and norysside the as hir owne
 delices. Thow bare awey of Fortune a yifte
 (that is to seye, swich guerdoun) that sche
 nevere yaf to prive man. Wiltow therfore
70 leye a reknynge with Fortune? Sche hath
 now twynkled first upon the with a wikkid
 eye. If thow considere the nowmbre and the
 maner of thy blisses and of thy sorwes, thow
 mayst noght forsaken that thow nart yit blisful.
 For yif thou therfore wenest thiself nat
 weleful, for thynges that tho semeden joyeful
 ben passed, ther nys nat why thow sholdest
 wene thiself a wrecche; for thynges that semen
 now sory passen also. Artow now comen
80 first, a sodeyn gest, into the schadowe or
 tabernacle of this lif? Or trowestow that
 any stedfastnesse be in mannes thynges, whan
 ofte a swyft hour dissolveth the same man (that
 is to seyn, whan the soule departeth fro the
 body)? For although that zelde is ther any
 feith that fortunous thynges wollen dwellen,
 yet natheles the laste day of a mannes lif is
 a maner deth to Fortune, and also to thilke
 that hath dwelt. And therfore what wenestow
90 dar rekke, yif thow forleete hir in
 deyinge, or elles that sche, Fortune, forleete awey?
 "Whan Phebus, the sonne, bygynneth to
 spreden his clernesse with rosene chariettes,
 thanne the sterre, ydymmed, paleth hir white
 cheeres by the flambes of the sonne that overcometh
 the sterre lyght. (This to seyn, whan
 the sonne is rysen, the day-sterre waxeth pale,
 and leeseth hir lyght for the grete bryghtnesse
 of the sonne.) Whan the wode waxeth rody
 of rosene floures in the fyrst somer sesoun
10 thurw the breeth of the wynd Zephirus that
 waxeth warm, yif the cloudy wynd Auster
 blowe felliche, than goth awey the fairnesse
 of thornes. Ofte the see is cleer and calm
 without moevynge flodes, and ofte the horrible
 wynd Aquylon moeveth boylynge tempestes,
 and overwhelveth the see. Yif the forme
 of this world is so zeeld stable, and yif it torneth
 by so manye entrechaungynges, wiltow
 thanne trusten in the tumblenge fortunes of
20 men? Wiltow trowen on flyttynge goodes?
 It is certeyn and establissched by lawe perdurable,
 that nothyng that is engendred nys
 stedfast ne stable."
 Thanne seide I thus: "O norysshe of alle vertues,
 thou seist ful sooth; ne I mai noght forsake
 the ryght swyfte cours of my prosperite
 (that is to seyn, that prosperite ne be comen
 to me wonder swyftli and sone); but this is a
 thyng that greetly smerteth me whan it remembreth
 me. For in alle adversites of fortune
 the moost unzeely kynde of contrarious
 fortune is to han ben weleful."
10 "But that thow," quod sche, "abyest thus
 the torment of thi false opynioun, that
 maistow nat ryghtfully blamen ne aretten to
 thynges. (As who seith, for thow hast yit
 manye habundances of thynges.) Textus. For
 al be it so that the ydel name of aventuros
 welefulnesse moeveth the now, it is leveful that
 thow rekne with me of how many grete thynges
 thow hast yit plente. And therfore yif that
 thilke thyng that thow haddest for moost
20 precyous in al thy rychesse of fortune be
 kept to the yit by the grace of God unwemmed
 and undefouled, maistow thanne
 pleyne ryghtfully upon the mescheef of Fortune,
 syn thow hast yit thi beste thynges?
 Certes yit lyveth in good poynt thilke precyous
 honour of mankynde, Symacus, thi wyves fader,
 whiche that is a man maked al of sapience and
 of vertu, the whiche man thow woldest byen
 redyly with the pris of thyn owene lif. He
30 bywayleth the wronges that men don to
 the, and nat for hymself; for he lyveth in
 sikernesse of anye sentences put ayens hym.
 And yit lyveth thi wyf, that is atempre of wyt
 and passynge othere wommen in clennesse of
 chastete; and, for I wol closen schortly hir
 bountes, sche is lyk to hir fadir. I telle the wel
 that sche lyveth, loth of this lyf, and kepeth
 to the oonly hir goost, and is al maat and overcomen
 by wepynge and sorwe for desir of
40 the; in the whiche thyng oonly I moot
 graunten that thi welefulnesse is amenused.
 What schal I seyn eek of thi two sones conseylours,
 of whiche, as of children of hir age,
 ther shyneth the liknesse of the wit of hir fadir
 or of hir eldefader! And syn the sovereyne
 cure of al mortel folk is to saven hir owene
 lyves, O how weleful artow, if thow knowe
 thy goodes! For yit ben ther thynges dwelled
 to the-ward that no man douteth that they
50 ne be more derworthe to the than thyn
 owene lif. And forthy drye thi teeris, for
 yit nys nat every fortune al hateful to theward,
 ne overgreet tempest hath nat yit fallen
 upon the, whan that thyne ancres clyven faste,
 that neither wolen suffren the counfort of this
 tyme present ne the hope of tyme comyng to
 passen ne to faylen."
 "And I preie," quod I, "that faste mote thei
 halden; for, whiles that thei halden, how so
60 evere that thynges been, I shal wel fleetyn
 forth and escapyn: but thou mayst wel seen
 how grete apparailes and array that me lakketh,
 that ben passed awey fro me."
 "I have somwhat avaunced and forthred
 the," quod sche, "yif that thow anoye nat, or
 forthynke nat of al thy fortune. (As who seith,
 I have somwhat conforted the, so that thou
 tempeste the nat thus with al thy fortune, syn
 thow hast yit thy beste thynges.) But I mai
70 nat suffren thi delices, that pleynest the so
 wepynge and angwysschous for that ther
 lakketh somwhat to thy welefulnesse. For what
 man is so sad or of so parfite welefulnesse, that
 he ne stryveth and pleyneth on some halfe
 ayen the qualite of his estat? Forwhy ful anguysschous
 thing is the condicioun of mannes
 goodes; for eyther it cometh nat altogidre to
 a wyght, or elles it ne last nat perpetuel. For
 som man hath gret rychesse, but he is
80 aschamed of his ungentil lynage; and som
 man is renomyd of noblesse of kynrede, but
 he is enclosed in so greet angwyssche of nede
 of thynges that hym were levere that he were
 unknowe; and som man haboundeth bothe in
 rychesse and noblesse, but yit he bewayleth his
 chaste lyf, for he ne hath no wyf; and som man
 is wel and zelily ymaried, but he hath no children,
 and norissheth his rychesses to the eyres
 of straunge folk; and som man is gladed
90 with children, but he wepeth ful sory for
 the trespas of his sone or of his doughter.
 And for this ther ne accordeth no wyght lyghtly
 to the condicioun of his fortune; for alwey to
 every man ther is in somwhat that, unassayed,
 he ne woot nat, or elles he dredeth that he hath
 assaied. And adde this also, that every weleful
 man hath a ful delicaat feelynge; so that, but
 yif alle thynges byfalle at his owene wil, for
 he is inpacient or is nat used to have noon
100 adversite, anoon he is throwen adoun for
 every litil thyng. And ful litel thynges ben
 tho that withdrawen the somme or the perfeccioun
 of blisfulnesse fro hem that been most
 fortunat. How manye men trowestow wolde
 demen hemself to ben almoste in hevene, yif
 thei myghten atayne to the leste partye of the
 remenaunt of thi fortune? This same place
 that thow clepest exil is contre to hem that
 enhabiten here, and forthi nothyng [is.
110 wrecchide but whan thou wenest it. (As
 who seith, thow thiself ne no wyght elles
 nis a wrecche but whanne he weneth hymself
 a wrechche by reputacion of his corage.) And
 ayenward, alle fortune is blisful to a man by
 the aggreablete or by the egalyte of hym that
 suffreth it. What man is that that is so weleful
 that nolde chaunge his estat whan he hath lost
 pacience? The swetnesse of mannes welefulnesse
 is spraynd with many bitternesses;
120 the whiche welefulnesse although it seme
 swete and joieful to hym that useth it, yit
 mai it nat ben withholden that it ne goth awey
 whan it wole. Thanne is it wele seene how
 wrecchid is the blisfulnesse of mortel thynges,
 that neyther it dureth perpetuel with hem that
 every fortune resceyven agreablely or egaly, ne
 it deliteth nat in al to hem that ben angwyssous.
 "O ye mortel folk, what seeke ye thanne blisfulnesse
 out of yourself whiche that is put
130 in yowrself? Errour and folie confoundeth
 yow. I schal schewe the schortly the
 poynt of soverayn blisfulnesse. Is there anythyng
 more precyous to the than thiself? Thow
 wolt answere, `nay.' Thanne, yif it so be that
 thow art myghty over thyself (that is to seyn,
 by tranquillite of thi soule), than hastow thyng
 in thi powere that thow noldest nevere leesen,
 ne Fortune may nat bynymen it the. And that
 thow mayst knowe that blisfulnesse ne mai
140 nat standen in thynges that ben fortunous
 and temporel, now undirstond and gadere
 it togidre thus: yif blisfulnesse be the soverayn
 good of nature that lyveth by resoun,
 ne thilke thyng nys nat soverayn good that
 may ben taken awey in any wise (for more
 worthy thyng and more dygne is thilke thyng
 that mai nat ben take awey); than scheweth
 it wel that the unstablenesse of fortune may
 nat atayne to resceyven verray blisfulnesse.
150 And yit more over, what man that this
 towmblynge welefulnesse ledeth, eyther
 he woot that it is chaungeable, or elles he woot
 it nat. And yif he woot it nat, what blisful
 fortune may ther ben in the blyndnesse of ignoraunce?
 And yif he woot that it is chaungeable,
 he mot alwey ben adrad that he ne lese
 that thyng that he ne douteth nat but that he
 may leesen it (as who seith he mot bien alwey
 agast lest he lese that he woot wel he may
160 lese it); for whiche the contynuel drede that
 he hath ne suffreth hym nat to ben weleful --
 or elles yif he lese it he weneth to ben
 despised and forleten. Certes eek that is a
 ful litel good that is born with evene herte
 whan it es lost (that is to seyn, that men do no
 more force of the lost than of the havynge).
 And for as moche as thow thiself art he to
 whom it hath be [sewed] and proved by ful
 many demonstracyons, as I woot wele that
170 the soules of men ne mowen nat deyen in
 no wyse; and ek syn it es cleer and certeyn
 that fortunous welefulnesse endeth by the deth
 of the body; it mai nat be douted that, yif that
 deth may take awey blisfulnesse, that al the
 kynde of mortel thyng ne descendeth into
 wrecchidnesse by the ende of the deth. And
 syn we knowe wel that many a man hath
 sought the fruyt of blysfulnesse, nat oonly with
 suffrynge of deeth, but eek with suffrynge
180 of peynes and tormentz, how myghte
 thanne this present lif make men blisful,
 syn that whanne thilke selve lif es ended it
 ne maketh folk no wrechches?
 "What maner man stable and war, that wol
 fownden hym a perdurable seete, and ne wol
 noght ben cast doun with the lowde blastes of
 the wynd Eurus, and wole despise the see
 manasynge with flodes; lat hym eschuwen to
 bilde on the cop of the mountaigne, or in the
 moyste sandes; for the felle wynd Auster tormenteth
 the cop of the mountaigne with alle
 hise strengthes, and the lause sandes refusen
10 to beren the hevy weyghte. And
 forthi, yif thow wolt fleen the perilous
 aventure (that is to seyn, of the werld) have
 mynde certeynly to fycchen thin hous of a
 myrie sete in a low stoon. For although the
 wynd troublynge the see thondre with overthrowynges,
 thou, that art put in quiete and
 weleful by strengthe of thi palys, schalt leden
 a cler age, scornynge the woodnesses and the
 ires of the eyr.
 "But for as mochel as the norisschynges of
 my resouns descenden now into the, I trowe it
 were tyme to usen a litel strengere medicynes.
 Now undirstand heere; al were it so that the
 yiftes of Fortune ne were noght brutel ne transitorie,
 what is ther in hem that mai be thyn
 in any tyme, or elles that it nys fowl, yif that
 it be considered and lookyd parfitely? Richesses
 ben they preciouse by the nature of hemself,
10 or elles by the nature of the? What is
 most worth of rychesses? Is it nat gold or
 myght of moneye assembled? Certes thilke
 gold and thilke moneye schyneth and yeveth
 bettre renoun to hem that dispenden it than
 to thilke folk that mokeren it; for avaryce maketh
 alwey mokereres to ben hated, and largesse
 maketh folk cleer of renoun. For, syn that
 swiche thyng as is transferred fro o man to an
 othir ne may nat duellen with no man,
20 certes thanne is thilke moneye precyous
 whan it is translated into other folk and
 stynteth to ben had by usage of large yyvynge
 of hym that hath yeven it. And also yif al the
 moneye that is overal in the world were gadryd
 toward o man, it scholde make alle othere men
 to be nedy as of that. And certes a voys al hool
 (that is to seyn, withouten amenusynge) fulfilleth
 togydre the herynge of moche folk. But
 certes your rychesses ne mowen noght
30 passen unto moche folk withouten amenusynge;
 and whan they ben apassed, nedes
 they maken hem pore that forgoon tho rychesses.
 O streyte and nedy clepe I this richesse,
 syn that many folk ne mai nat han it al, ne al
 mai it nat comen to o man withoute povert
 of alle othere folk. And the schynynge of
 gemmes (that I clepe precyous stones) draweth
 it nat the eighen of folk to hem-ward (that
 is to seyn, for the beautes)? But certes, yif
40 ther were beaute or bountee in the schynynge
 of stones, thilke clernesse is of the
 stones hemselve, and nat of men; for whiche I
 wondre gretly that men merveylen on swiche
 thynges. Forwhi what thyng is it that, yif it
 wanteth moevynge and joynture of soule and
 body, that by right myghte semen a fair creature
 to hym that hath a soule of resoun? For
 al be it so that gemmes drawen to hemself a
 litel of the laste beaute of the world thurw
50 the entente of hir creatour and thurw the
 distinccioun of hemself, yit, for as mochel
 as thei ben put under yowr excellence, thei ne
 han nat desserved by no way that ye schulde
 merveylen on hem. And the beaute of feeldes,
 deliteth it nat mochel unto yow?"
 Boece. "Why schulde it nat deliten us, syn
 that it is a [fayr] porcioun of the ryght fair
 werk (that is to seyn, of this worlde)? And
 right so ben we gladed somtyme of the
60 face of the see whan it es cleer; and also
 merveylen we on the hevene, and on the
 sterres, and on the sonne, and on the moone."
 Philosophie. "Aperteneth," quod sche, "any
 of thilke thynges to the? Why darstow glorifye
 the in the shynynge of any swiche thynges?
 Artow distyngwed and embelysed by the
 spryngynge floures of the first somer sesoun,
 or swelleth thi plente in fruites of somer? Whi
 artow ravyssched with idel joies? Why enbracest
70 thow straunge goodes as they weren
 thyne? Fortune ne schal nevere maken that
 swiche thynges ben thyne that nature of thynges
 hath maked foreyne fro the. Soth is that, withouten
 doute, the fruites of the erthe owen to
 be to the noryssynge of beestis; and yif thow
 wilt fulfille thyn nede after that it suffiseth to
 nature, thanne is it no nede that thow seke
 aftir the superfluyte of fortune. For [with]
 fewe thynges and with ful litel thynges nature
80 halt hir apayed; and yif thow wolt
 achoken the fulfillynge of nature with superfluytees,
 certes thilke thynges that thow
 wolt thresten or powren into nature schulle
 ben unjoyeful to the, or elles anoyous. Wenestow
 eek that it be a fair thyng to schyne with
 diverse clothynge? Of whiche clothynge yif the
 beaute be aggreable to loken uppon, I wol
 merveylen on the nature of the matiere of
 thilke clothes, or elles on the werkman that
90 wroughte hem. But also a long route of
 meyne, maketh that a blisful man? The
 whiche servantz yif thei ben vicyous of condyciouns,
 it is a gret charge and a destruccioun
 to the hous, and a gret enemy to the lord hymself;
 and yif they ben gode men, how schal
 straunge or foreyne goodnesse ben put in the
 nowmbre of thi richesse? So that by alle thise
 forseide thynges it es cleerly schewed, that nevere
 oon of thilke thynges that thou acountedest
100 for thyne goodes nas nat thi good.
 "In the whiche thynges yif ther be no
 beaute to ben desired, why scholdestow ben sory
 yif thou leese hem, or whi scholdestow rejoysen
 the for to holden hem? For yif thei ben faire
 of hir owene kynde, what aperteneth that to
 the? For al so wel scholde they han ben fayre
 by hemselve, though thei were departed fro
 alle thyne rychesses. Forwhy fair ne precyous
 were thei nat for that thei comen among
110 thi rychesses; but for they semeden fair
 and precyous, therfore thou haddest levere
 rekne hem among thi rychesses. But what
 desirestow of Fortune with so greet a noyse
 and with so greet [affraie]? I trowe thou seeke
 to dryve awey nede with habundaunce of
 thynges, but certes it turneth to you al in the
 contrarie. Forwhy certes it nedeth of ful manye
 helpynges to kepyn the diversite of precious
 ostelementz; and sooth it es that of many
120 thynges han they nede, that many thynges
 han; and ayenward of litel nedeth hem
 that mesuren hir fille after the nede of kynde,
 and nat after the oultrage of covetyse.
 "Is it thanne so, that ye men ne han no propre
 good iset in yow, for whiche ye mooten seke
 outward your goodes in foreyne and subgit
 thynges? So is thanne the condicion of thynges
 turned up-so-doun, that a man, that is a devyne
 beest be meryte of his resoun, thynketh
130 that hymself nys neyther fair ne noble but
 yif it be thurw possessioun of ostelementz
 that ne han no soules. And certes alle othere
 thynges ben apayed of hir owene beautes, but ye
 men that ben semlable to God by yowr
 resonable thought, desiren to apparailen your
 excellent kynde of the loweste thynges; ne ye
 undirstanden nat how greet a wrong ye don to
 your creatour. For he wolde that mankynde
 were moost wurthy and noble of any
140 othere erthly thynges, and ye thresten
 adoun yowre dignytes bynethen the loweste
 thynges. For yif that al the good of every
 thyng be more precyous than is thilke thyng
 whos that the good es, syn ye demen that the
 fowleste thynges ben your goodes, thanne
 submitten ye and putten yourselven undir the
 fouleste thynges by your estimacioun; and certes
 this betydeth nat withouten your desert. For
 certes swiche is the condicioun of alle mankynde,
150 that oonly whan it hath knowynge
 of itself, thanne passeth it in noblesse alle
 othere thynges; and whan it forletith the
 knowynge of itself, thanne is it brought
 bynethen alle beestes. Forwhi alle othere lyvynge
 beestes han of kynde to knowe nat hemself;
 but whan that men leeten the knowynge
 of hemself, it cometh hem of vice. But
 how broode scheweth the errour and the folie of
 yow men, that wenen that anythyng mai
160 ben apparailed with straunge apparailementz!
 But forsothe that mai nat be done.
 For yif a wyght schyneth with thynges that
 ben put to hym (as thus, yif thilke thynges
 schynen with whiche a man is aparayled),
 certes thilke thynges ben comended and preysed
 with whiche he is apparayled; but natheles, the
 thyng that is covered and wrapped under that
 duelleth in his felthe.
 "And I denye that thilke thyng be good
170 that anoyeth hym that hath it. Gabbe I of
 this? Thow wolt sey `nay.' Sertes rychesses
 han anoyed ful ofte hem that han tho rychesses,
 syn that every wikkide schrewe -- and for his
 wikkidnesse the more gredy aftir othir folkes
 rychesses, wher so evere it be in ony place, be
 it gold or precyous stones -- [weneth. hym
 oonly most worthy that hath hem. Thow thanne,
 that so bysy dredest now the swerd and the
 spere, yif thou haddest entred in the path
180 of this lif a voyde weyfarynge man, thanne
 woldestow syngen byfor the theef. (As
 who seith, a pore man that bereth no rychesse
 on hym by the weie may boldely synge byforn
 theves, for he hath nat whereof to be robbed.)
 O precyous and ryght cleer is the blisfulnesse of
 mortel rychesses, that, whan thow hast geten it,
 thanne hastow lorn thi sekernesse!
 "Blisful was the firste age of men. They
 heelden hem apayed with the metes that the
 trewe feeldes broughten forth. They ne destroyeden
 ne desseyvede nat hemself with outrage.
 They weren wont lyghtly to slaken hir
 hungir at even with accornes of ookes. They
 ne coude nat medle the yift of Bachus to the
 cleer hony (that is to seyn, they coude make
 no pyement or clarree), ne they coude nat
10 medle the bryghte fleezes of the contre of
 Seryens with the venym of Tyrie (this
 to seyn, thei coude nat deyen white fleezes
 of Syrien contre with the blood of a maner
 schellefyssche that men fynden in Tirie, with
 whiche blood men deyen purpre). They
 slepen holsome slepes uppon the gras, and
 dronken of the rennynge watres, and layen
 undir the schadwes of the heye pyn-trees. Ne
 no gest ne straunger ne karf yit the heye
20 see with oores or with schipes; ne thei ne
 hadden seyn yit none newe stroondes to
 leden marchandise into diverse contrees. Tho
 weren the cruele claryouns ful hust and ful
 stille. Ne blood ischad by egre hate ne hadde
 nat deyed yit armures. For wherto or which
 woodnesse of enemys wolde first moeven
 armes whan thei seyen cruele wowndes, ne
 none medes be of blood ischad? I wolde that
 our tymes sholde torne ayen to the oolde
30 maneris! But the anguysschous love of
 havynge brenneth in folk more cruely than
 the fyer of the mountaigne of Ethna that ay
 brenneth. Allas! What was he that first dalf
 up the gobbettes or the weyghtes of gold covered
 undir erthe and the precyous stones that
 wolden han be hydd? He dalf up precious
 periles. (That is to seyn, that he that hem
 firsst up dalf, he dalf up a precious peril;
 for-why, for the preciousnesse of swich
40 thyng hath many man ben in peril.)
 "But what schal I seye of dignytes and of
 powers, the whiche ye men, that neither
 knowen verray dignyte ne verray powere,
 areysen hem as heyghe as the hevene? The
 whiche dignytees and poweres yif thei comen
 to any wikkid man, thei doon as greet damages
 and destrucciouns as dooth. the flaumbe
 of the mountaigne Ethna whan the flaumbe
 walweth up, ne no deluge ne doth so cruele
10 harmes. Certes the remembreth wel, as I
 trowe, that thilke dignyte that men clepyn
 the imperie of consulers, the whiche that
 whilom was begynnynge of fredom, yowr eldres
 coveyteden to han don awey that dignyte for
 the pride of the consulers. And ryght for the
 same pride yowr eldres byforn that tyme hadden
 doon awey out of the cite of Rome the
 kynges name (that is to seyn, thei nolden han
 no lengere no kyng).
20 "But now, if so be that dignytees and poweris
 ben yyven to gode men, the whiche
 thyng is ful zelde, what aggreable thynges is
 ther in tho dignytees or powers but oonly the
 goodnesse of folk that usen hem? And therfore
 it is thus that honour ne cometh nat to
 vertu for cause of dygnite, but, ayenward, honour
 cometh to dignyte for cause of vertu. But
 whiche is thilke your derworthe power that is
 so cleer and so requerable? O, ye erthliche
30 bestes, considere ye nat over whiche thyng
 that it semeth that ye han power? Now yif
 thou saye a mows among othere mysz that chalanged
 to hymself-ward ryght and power over
 alle othere mysz, how gret scorn woldestow han
 of it! (Glosa. So fareth it by men [that the
 wikkid men have power over the wikkid men;
 that is to seye], the body hath power over the
 body.) For yif thou looke wel upon the body of
 a wyght, what thyng schaltow fynde more
40 freele than is mankynde; the whiche men
 ful ofte ben slayn with bytynge of smale
 flyes, or elles with the entrynge of crepynge
 wormes into the pryvetees of mannes body?
 But wher schal men fynden any man that mai
 exercen or haunten any ryght upon another
 man, but oonly on his body, or elles upon
 thynges that ben lowere than the body, the
 whiche I clepe fortunous possessiouns? Maystow
 evere have any comaundement over a free
50 corage? Maystowe remuwen fro the estat
 of his propre reste a thought that is
 clyvynge togidre in hymself by stedfast resoun?
 As whilom a tyraunt wende to confownde a fre
 man of corage, and wende to constreyne hym by
 torment to maken hym discoveren and accusen
 folk that wisten of a conjuracioun (which I clepe
 a confederacye) that was cast ayens this tyraunt;
 but this fre man boot of his owene tonge, and
 caste it in the visage of thilk wode tyraunt.
60 So that the tormentz that this tyraunt
 wende to han maked matere of cruelte, this
 wise man maked it matere of vertu. But what
 thing is it that a man may doon to an other man,
 that he ne may resceyven the same thyng of
 other folk in hymself? (Or thus: what may a
 man don to folk, that folk ne may don hym
 the same?) I have herd told of Busyrides, that
 was wont to sleen his gestes that herberweden
 in his hous, and he was slayn hymself of
70 Ercules that was his gest. Regulus hadde
 taken in bataile manye men of Affryke
 and cast hem into feteres, but sone after he
 most yyve hise handes to ben bownde with
 the cheynes of hem that he hadde whilom
 overcomen. Wenestow thanne that he be
 myghty that hath no power to doon a thyng that
 othere ne mai doon in hym that he doth in
 "And yit moreover, yif it so were that
80 thise dygnytes or poweris hadden any
 propre or naturel goodnesse in hemself,
 nevere nolde they comen to schrewes. For
 contrarious thynges ne ben nat wont to ben
 ifelaschiped togydre. Nature refuseth that contrarious
 thynges ben ijoygned. And so, as I am
 in certeyn that ryght wykkyd folk han
 dignytees ofte tyme, thanne scheweth it wel that
 dignytees and poweres ne ben nat gode of
 hir owene kynde, syn that they suffren
90 hemselve to cleven or joynen hem to
 schrewes. And certes the same thyng mai I
 most digneliche juggen and seyn of alle the
 yiftes of Fortune that most plentevously comen
 to schrewes. Of the whiche yiftes I trowe that it
 oughte ben considered, that no man douteth that
 he ne is strong in whom he seeth strengthe; and
 in whom that swyftnesse is, sooth it is that he
 is swyft; also musyke maketh mucisyens, and
 phisyk maketh phisicyeens, and rethoryke,
100 rethoriens. Forwhy the nature of every
 thyng maketh his proprete, ne it is nat
 entremedlyd with the effectz of contrarious
 thynges, and as of wil it chaseth out thynges that
 to it ben contrarie. But certes rychesse mai nat
 restreyne avarice unstaunched; ne power ne
 maketh nat a man myghty over hymselve,
 whiche that vicyous lustes holden destreyned
 with cheynes that ne mowen nat ben
 unbownden. And dignytees that ben yyven
110 to schrewide folk nat oonly ne maketh hem
 nat digne, but it scheweth rather al opynly
 that they been unworthy and undigne. And whi
 is it thus? Certes for ye han joie to clepen
 thynges with false names, that beren hem al in
 the contrarie; the whiche names ben ful [ethe]
 reproved by the effect of the same thynges; so
 that thise ilke rychesses ne oughten nat by ryghte
 to ben cleped rychesses, ne swyche power ne
 aughte nat ben clepyd power, ne swiche
120 dignyte ne aughte nat ben clepyd dignyte.
 And at the laste, I may conclude the same
 thyng of alle the yyftes of Fortune, in whiche
 ther nys nothyng to ben desired, ne that hath in
 hymselve naturel bownte, as it es ful wel yseene.
 For neither thei ne joygnen hem nat alwey to
 gode men, ne maken hem alwey gode to whom
 they been ijoyned.
 "We han wel knowen how many grete harmes
 and destrucciouns weren idoon by the emperour
 Nero. He leet brennen the cite of Rome,
 and made sleen the senatours; and he cruel
 whilom sloughe his brothir, and he was maked
 moyst with the blood of his modir (that is to
 seyn, he leet sleen and slitten the body of his
 modir to seen wher he was conceyved); and he
 lookede on every halve uppon hir cold
10 deed body, ne no teer ne wette his face,
 but he was so hardherted that he myghte
 ben domesman or juge of hir dede beaute. And
 natheles yit governed this Nero by septre alle
 the peples that Phebus, the sonne, may seen,
 comynge fro his uttreste arysynge til he hide
 his bemes undir the wawes. (That is to seyn
 he governede al the peples by ceptre imperial
 that the sonne goth aboute from est to west.)
 And ek this Nero governyde by ceptre alle
20 the peples that ben undir the colde sterres
 that highten the septemtryones. (This is
 to seyn he governede alle the peples that ben
 under the partye of the north.) And eek Nero
 governede alle the peples that the vyolent
 wynd Nothus scorklith, and baketh the brennynge
 sandes by his drye heete (that is to seyn,
 al the peples in the south). But yit ne myghte
 nat al his heie power torne the woodnesse of
 this wikkid Nero? Allas! It is grevous fortune
30 as ofte as wikkid sweerd is joyned to
 cruel venym (that is to seyn, venymows
 cruelte to lordschipe)."
 Thanne seyde I thus: "Thow woost wel thiselve
 that the covetise of mortel thynges ne
 hadde nevere lordschipe of me, but I have wel
 desired matere of thynges to done (as who
 seith, I desirede to have matiere of governaunce
 over comunalites), for vertue stille sholde nat
 elden (that is to seyn, that list that or he
 waxe oold, his vertu, that lay now ful stille, ne
 schulde nat perysshe unexercised in
10 governaunce of comune, for whiche men
 myghten speken or wryten of his gode
 Philosophie. "For sothe," quod sche, "and
 that is [o] thyng that mai drawen to governaunce
 swiche hertes as ben worthy and noble of hir
 nature, but natheles it may nat drawen or tollen
 swiche hertes as ben ibrought to the ful perfeccioun
 of vertue; that is to seyn, covetise of
 glorie and renoun to han wel adminystred
20 the comune thynges, or doon gode desertes
 to profyt of the comune. For see now
 and considere how litel and how voyde of alle
 prys is thylk glorye. Certeyn thyng es, as thou
 hast leerned by the demonstracioun of astronomye,
 that al the envyrounynge of the erthe
 aboute ne halt but the resoun of a prykke at
 regard of the gretnesse of hevene; that is to
 seyn that, yif ther were maked comparysoun of
 the erthe to the gretnesse of hevene, men
30 wolde juggen in al that the erthe ne heelde
 no space. Of the whiche litel regioun of
 this world, the ferthe partye is enhabited with
 lyvynge beestes that we knowen, as thou hast
 thyselve leerned by Tholome that proveth it.
 And yif thow haddest withdrawen and abated
 in thy thought fro thilke ferthe partie as moche
 space as the see and the mareys contene and
 overgoon, and as moche space as the regioun
 of drowghte overstreccheth (that is to
40 seyn, sandes and desertes), wel unnethe
 sholde ther duellen a ryght streyte place to the
 habitacioun of men. And ye thanne, that ben
 envyrouned and closed withynne the leeste
 prykke of thilke prykke, thynken ye to manyfesten
 or publisschen your renoun and doon
 yowr name for to be born forth? But yowr
 glorye that is so narwe and so streyt ithrungen
 into so litel bowndes, how mochel conteneth it
 in largesse and in greet doynge? And also
50 set this therto: that manye a nacioun, diverse
 of tonge and of maneris and ek of resoun
 of hir lyvynge, ben enhabited in the cloos
 of thilke lytel habitacle; to the whiche nacyons,
 what for difficulte of weyes, and what for diversite
 of langages, and what for defaute of
 unusage [of] entrecomunynge of marchandise,
 nat oonly the names of synguler men ne may
 nat strecchen, but eek the fame of citees ne
 may nat strecchen. At the laste, certes, in
60 the tyme of Marcus Tulyus, as hymselve
 writ in his book, that the renoun of the
 comune of Rome ne hadde nat yit passid ne
 clomben over the montaigne that highte Caucasus;
 and yit was thilke tyme Rome wel waxen,
 and greetly redouted of the Parthes and eek of
 the othere folk enhabitynge aboute. Seestow
 nat thanne how streyte and how compressid is
 thilke glorie that ye travailen aboute to schewe
 and to multeplye? May thanne the glorie
70 of a synguler Romeyn strecchen thider
 as the fame of the name of Rome may nat
 clymben ne passen? And ek seestow nat that the
 maneris of diverse folk and ek hir lawes ben
 discordaunt among hemselve, so that thilke
 thyng that som men juggen worthy of preysynge,
 other folk juggen that it is worthy of torment?
 And therof comyth it that, though a
 man delyte hym in preysynge of his renoun, he
 ne mai nat in no wyse bryngen forthe ne
80 spreden his name to many manere peples.
 And therfore every maner man aughte to
 ben apayed of his glorie that is publysschid among
 his owene neyghebours; and thilke noble renoun
 schal ben restreyned withynne the boundes of
 o manere folk.
 "But how many a man, that was ful noble in
 his tyme, hath the wrecchid and nedy foryetynge
 of writeris put out of mynde and doon awey; al
 be it so that, certes, thilke wrytynges
90 profiten litel, the whiche writynges long
 and dirk eelde doth awey, bothe hem and
 ek hir auctours! But yow men semeth to geten
 yow a perdurablete, whan ye thynken that in
 tyme comynge your fame schal lasten. But
 natheles yif thow wolt maken comparysoun to
 the endles spaces of eternyte, what thyng hastow
 by whiche thow mayst rejoisen the of long
 lastynge of thi name? For yif ther were makyd
 comparysoun of the abydynge of a moment
100 to ten thowsand wynter, for as mochel as
 bothe tho spaces ben endyd, [yit] hath the
 moment som porcioun of it, although it litel be.
 But natheles thilke selve nowmbre of yeeris, and
 eek as many yeris as therto mai be multiplyed, ne
 mai nat certes be comparysoned to the
 perdurablete that is endlees; for of thinges that
 han ende may ben maked comparysoun, but of
 thynges that ben withouten ende to thynges that
 han ende may be makid no comparysoun.
110 And forthi is it that, although renome, of as
 longe tyme as evere the list to thynken,
 were thought to the regard of eternyte, that is
 unstaunchable and infynyt, it ne sholde nat only
 semen litel, but pleynliche ryght noght.
 "But ye men, certes, ne konne doon no thyng
 aryght, but yif it be for the audience of peple and
 for idel rumours; and ye forsaken the grete
 worthynesse of conscience and of vertu, and ye
 seeken yowr gerdouns of the smale wordes
120 of straunge folk. Have now here and
 undirstand, in the lyghtnesse of swiche
 pryde and veyne glorye, how a man scornede
 festyvaly and myriely swich vanyte. Whilom ther
 was a man that hadde [assaillede] with stryvynge
 wordes another man, the whiche, nat for usage
 of verray vertu but for proud veyn glorie, had
 taken upon hym falsly the name of a philosophre.
 This rather man that I spak of thoughte
 he wolde assaie where he, thilke, were a
130 philosophre or no; that is to seyn, yif that
 he wolde han suffride lyghtly in pacience
 the wronges that weren doon unto hym. This
 feynede philosophre took pacience a litel while;
 and whan he hadde resceyved wordes of
 outrage, he, as in stryvynge ayen and rejoysynge
 of hymself, seide at the laste ryght thus: `undirstondistow
 nat that I am a philosophre?' The
 tother man answerede ayen ful bytyngely and
 seyde: `I hadde wel undirstonden it yif thou
140 haddest holde thi tonge stille.'
 "But what is it to thise noble worthy men
 (for, certes, of swych folk speke I) that seken
 glorie with vertue? What is it?" quod sche.
 "What atteyneth fame to swiche folk, whan the
 body is resolved by the deeth at the laste? For if
 it so be that men dyen in all (that is to seyen,
 body and soule), the whiche thing our reson
 defendeth us to byleeven, thanne is ther no
 glorie in no wyse; for what schulde thilke
150 glorie ben, whan he, of whom thilke glorie
 is seyd to be, nys ryght naught in no wise?
 And yif the soule, whiche that hath in itself
 science of gode werkes, unbownden fro the
 prysone of the erthe, weendeth frely to the
 hevene, despiseth it nat thanne al erthly
 ocupacioun; and [usynge] hevene rejoyseth that
 it is exempt fro alle erthly thynges? (As who
 seith, thanne rekketh the soule of no glorye of
 renoun of this world.)
 "Whoso that with overthrowynge thought
 oonly seketh glorie of fame, and weneth that
 it be sovereyn good, lat hym looke upon the
 brode schewynge contrees of the hevene, and
 upon the streyte sete of this erthe; and he schal
 be asschamed of the encres of his name, that
 mai nat fulfille the litel compas of the erthe.
 O, what coveyten proude folk to lyften up hir
 nekkes on idel in the dedly yok of this
10 world? For although that renoun ysprad,
 passynge to ferne peples, goth by diverse
 tonges; and although that greet houses or
 kynredes shynen with cleer titles of honours;
 yit natheles deth despiseth al heye glorie of
 fame, and deth wrappeth togidre the heyghe
 heved and the lowe, and maketh egal and
 evene the heygheste to the loweste. Where
 wonen now the bones of trewe Fabricius?
 What is now Brutus or stierne Catoun? The
20 thynne fame yit lastynge of here idel names
 is marked with a fewe lettres. But althoughe
 that we han knowen the fayre wordes
 of the fames of hem, it is nat yyven to knowen
 hem that ben dede and consumpt. Liggeth
 thanne stille, al outrely unknowable, ne fame
 ne maketh yow nat knowe. And yif ye wene to
 lyve the lengere for wynd of yowr mortel name
 whan o cruel day schal ravyssche yow, than is
 the seconde deth duellynge unto yow."
30 (Glose. The first deeth he clepeth here departynge
 of the body and the soule, and
 the seconde deth he clepeth as here the styntynge
 of the renoun of fame.)
 "But for as mochel as thow schalt nat
 wenen," quod sche, "that I bere an untretable
 batayle ayens Fortune, yit somtyme it byfalleth
 that sche desceyvable desserveth to han ryght
 good thank of men. And that is whan sche hirself
 opneth, and whan sche discovereth hir
 frownt and scheweth hir maneris. Peraventure
 yit undirstandestow nat that I schal seie. It is
 a wonder that I desire to telle, and forthi
10 unnethe may I unplyten my sentence with
 wordes. For I deme that contrarious Fortune
 profiteth more to men than Fortune debonayre.
 For alwey, whan Fortune semeth debonayre,
 thanne sche lieth, falsly byhetynge the
 hope of welefulnesse; but forsothe contraryous
 Fortune is alwey sothfast, whan sche scheweth
 hirself unstable thurw hir chaungynge. The
 amyable Fortune desceyveth folk; the contrarie
 Fortune techeth. The amyable Fortune
20 byndeth with the beaute of false goodes
 the hertes of folk that usen hem: the contrarye
 Fortune unbyndeth hem by the knowynge
 of freel welefulnesse. The amyable Fortune
 maystow seen alwey wyndy and flowynge,
 and evere mysknowynge of hirself; the contrarie
 Fortune is atempre and restreyned and
 wys thurw exercise of hir adversite. At the
 laste, amyable Fortune with hir flaterynges
 draweth myswandrynge men fro the sovereyne
30 good; the contrarious Fortune ledeth
 ofte folk ayen to sothfast goodes, and
 haleth hem ayen as with an hook. Wenestow
 thanne that thow augghtest to leeten this a litel
 thyng, that this aspre and horrible Fortune
 hath discovered to the the thoughtes of thi
 trewe freendes? Forwhy this ilke Fortune hath
 departed and uncovered to the bothe the certein
 visages and eek the doutous visages of thi
 felawes. Whan she departed awey fro the,
40 she took awey hir freendes and lefte the
 thyne freendes. Now whanne thow were
 ryche and weleful, as the semede, with how
 mochel woldestow han bought the fulle knowynge
 of thys (that is to seyn, the knowynge of
 thyne verray freendes)? Now pleyne the nat
 thanne of rychesse ylorn, syn thow hast
 fownden the moste precyous kynde of rychesses,
 that is to seyn, thi verray freendes.
 "That the world with stable feyth varieth
 accordable chaungynges; that the contrarious
 qualites of elementz holden among hemself
 allyaunce perdurable; that Phebus, the sonne,
 with his goldene chariet bryngeth forth the
 rosene day; that the moone hath comaundement
 over the nyghtes, whiche nyghtes Esperus,
 the eve-sterre, hath brought; that the
 see, gredy to flowen, constreyneth with a
10 certein eende his floodes, so that it is nat
 leveful to strecche his brode termes or
 bowndes uppon the erthes (that is to seyn, to
 coveren al the erthe) -- al this accordaunce
 [and] ordenaunce of thynges is bounde with
 love, that governeth erthe and see, and hath also
 comandement to the hevene. And yif this love
 slakede the bridelis, alle thynges that now loven
 hem togidres wolden make batayle contynuely,
 and stryven to fordo the fassoun of this
20 world, the which they now leden in
 accordable feith by fayre moevynges. This
 love halt togidres peples joyned with an holy
 boond, and knytteth sacrement of mariages of
 chaste loves; and love enditeth lawes to trewe
 felawes. O weleful were mankynde, yif thilke
 love that governeth hevene governede yowr

Next: Book 3