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967 A yong man called ibeus, myghty and riche, bigat upon his wyf, that called was Prudence,
967 A a doghter which that called was Sophie.
968 Upon a day bifel that he for his desport is went into the feeldes hym to pleye.
969 His wyf and eek his doghter hath he left inwith his hous, of which the dores weren faste yshette.
970 Thre of his olde foes han it espyed, and setten laddres to the walles of his hous,
970 A and by wyndowes been entred,
971 and betten his wyf, and wounded his doghter with fyve mortal woundes in fyve sondry places —
972 this is to seyn, in hir feet, in hire handes, in hir erys, in hir nose,
972 A and in hire mouth — and leften hire for deed, and wenten awey.
973 Whan ibeus retourned was into his hous, and saugh al this meschief, he,
973 A lyk a mad man rentynge his clothes, gan to wepe and crie.
974 Prudence, his wyf, as ferforth as she dorste, bisoghte hym of his wepyng for to stynte,
975 but nat forthy he gan to crie and wepen evere lenger the moore.
976 This noble wyf Prudence remembred hire upon the sentence of Ovide, in his book
976 A that cleped is the Remedie of Love, where as he seith,
977 “He is a fool that destourbeth the mooder to wepen in the deeth of hire child
977 A til she have wept hir fille as for a certein tyme,
978 and thanne shal man doon his diligence with amyable wordes hire to reconforte,
978 A and preyen hire of hir wepyng for to stynte.”
979 For which resoun this noble wyf Prudence suffred hir housbonde
979 A for to wepe and crie as for a certein space,
980 and whan she saugh hir tyme, she seyde hym in this wise:
980 A ” Allas, my lord,” quod she, “why make ye youreself for to be lyk a fool?
981 For sothe it aperteneth nat to a wys man to maken swich a sorwe.
982 Youre doghter, with the grace of God, shal warisshe and escape.
983 And, al were it so that she right now were deed,
983 A ye ne oughte nat, as for hir deeth, youreself to destroye.
984 Senek seith: ‘The wise man shal nat take to greet disconfort for the deeth of his children,
985 but, certes, he sholde suffren it in pacience
985 A as wel as he abideth the deeth of his owene propre persone.'”
986 This ibeus answerde anon and seyde, “What man,” quod he, “sholde of his wepyng stente
986 A that hath so greet a cause for to wepe?
987 Jhesu Crist, oure Lord, hymself wepte for the deeth of Lazarus hys freend.”
988 Prudence answerde: “Certes, wel I woot attempree wepyng is no thyng deffended to hym that sorweful is,
988 A amonges folk in sorwe, but it is rather graunted hym to wepe.
989 The Apostle Paul unto the Romayns writeth, ‘Man shal rejoyse
989 A with hem that maken joye and wepen with swich folk as wepen.’
990 But though attempree wepyng be ygraunted, outrageous wepyng certes is deffended.
991 Mesure of wepyng sholde be considered after the loore that techeth us Senek:
992 ‘Whan that thy frend is deed,’ quod he, ‘lat nat thyne eyen to moyste been of teeris,
992 A ne to muche drye; although the teeris come to thyne eyen, lat hem nat falle;
993 and whan thou hast forgoon thy freend, do diligence to gete another freend;
993 A and this is moore wysdom than for to wepe for thy freend
993B which that thou hast lorn, for therinne is no boote.’
994 And therfore, if ye governe yow by sapience, put awey sorwe out of youre herte.
995 Remembre yow that Jhesus Syrak seith, ‘ A man that is joyous and glad in herte,
995 A it hym conserveth florissynge in his age; but soothly sorweful herte maketh his bones drye.’
996 He seith eek thus, that sorwe in herte sleeth ful many a man.
997 Salomon seith that right as motthes in the shepes flees anoyeth to the clothes,
997 A and the smale wormes to the tree, right so anoyeth sorwe to the herte.
998 Wherfore us oghte, as wel in the deeth of oure children
998 A as in the los of oure othere goodes temporels, have pacience.
999 Remembre yow upon the pacient Job. Whan he hadde lost his children and his temporeel substance,
999 A and in his body endured and receyved ful many a grevous tribulacion, yet seyde he thus:
1000 ‘Oure Lord hath yeve it me; oure Lord hath biraft it me; right as oure Lord hath wold,
1000 A right so it is doon; blessed be the name of oure Lord!'”
1001 To thise forseide thynges answerde ibeus unto his wyf Prudence: ” Alle thy wordes,” quod he,
1001 A “been sothe and therto profitable, but trewely myn herte is troubled with this sorwe
1001B so grevously that I noot what to doone.”
1002 “Lat calle,” quod Prudence, “thy trewe freendes alle and thy lynage whiche that been wise. Telleth youre cas,
1002 A and herkneth what they seye in conseillyng, and yow governe after hire sentence.
1003 Salomon seith, ‘Werk alle thy thynges by conseil, and thou shalt never repente.'”
1004 Thanne, by the conseil of his wyf Prudence, this ibeus leet callen a greet congregacion of folk,
1005 as surgiens, phisiciens, olde folk and yonge, and somme of his olde enemys reconsiled
1005 A as by hir semblaunt to his love and into his grace;
1006 and therwithal ther coomen somme of his neighebores that diden hym reverence
1006 A moore for drede than for love, as it happeth ofte.
1007 Ther coomen also ful many subtille flatereres and wise advocatz lerned in the lawe.
1008 And whan this folk togidre assembled weren, this ibeus in sorweful wise shewed hem his cas.
1009 And by the manere of his speche it semed that in herte he baar a crueel ire,
1009 A redy to doon vengeaunce upon his foes, and sodeynly desired that the werre sholde bigynne;
1010 but nathelees, yet axed he hire conseil upon this matiere.
1011 A surgien, by licence and assent of swiche as weren wise, up roos
1011 A and to ibeus seyde as ye may heere:
1012 “Sire,” quod he, “as to us surgiens aperteneth that we do to every wight the beste that we kan,
1012 A where as we been withholde, and to oure pacientz that we do no damage,
1013 wherfore it happeth many tyme and ofte that whan twey men han everich wounded oother,
1013 A oon same surgien heeleth hem bothe;
1014 wherfore unto oure art it is nat pertinent to norice werre ne parties to supporte.
1015 But certes, as to the warisshynge of youre doghter, al be it so that she perilously be wounded,
1015 A we shullen do so ententif bisynesse fro day to nyght that with the grace of God
1015B she shal be hool and sound as soone as is possible.”
1016 Almoost right in the same wise the phisiciens answerden, save that they seyden a fewe woordes moore:
1017 that right as maladies been cured by hir contraries, right so shul men warisshe werre by vengeaunce.
1018 His neighebores ful of envye, his feyned freendes that semeden reconsiled, and his flatereres
1019 maden semblant of wepyng, and empeireden and agreggeden muchel of this matiere
1019 A in preisynge greetly ibee of myght, of power, of richesse, and of freendes, despisynge the power of his adversaries,
1020 and seiden outrely that he anon sholde wreken hym on his foes and bigynne werre.
1021 Up roos thanne an advocat that was wys,
1021 A by leve and by conseil of othere that were wise, and seide:
1022 “Lordynges, the nede for which we been assembled in this place
1022 A is a ful hevy thyng and an heigh matiere,
1023 by cause of the wrong and of the wikkednesse that hath be doon,
1023 A and eek by resoun of the grete damages that in tyme comynge
1023B been possible to fallen for this same cause,
1024 and eek by resoun of the grete richesse and power of the parties bothe,
1025 for the whiche resouns it were a ful greet peril to erren in this matiere.
1026 Wherfore, ibeus, this is oure sentence: we conseille yow aboven alle thyng that right anon thou do thy diligence
1026 A in kepynge of thy propre persone in swich a wise
1026B that thou ne wante noon espie ne wacche thy persone for to save.
1027 And after that, we conseille that in thyn hous thou sette sufficeant garnisoun
1027 A so that they may as wel thy body as thyn hous defende.
1028 But certes, for to moeve werre, ne sodeynly for to doon vengeaunce, we may nat demen
1028 A in so litel tyme that it were profitable.
1029 Wherfore we axen leyser and espace to have deliberacion in this cas to deme.
1030 For the commune proverbe seith thus: ‘He that soone deemeth, soone shal repente.’
1031 And eek men seyn that thilke juge is wys that soone understondeth a matiere and juggeth by leyser;
1032 for al be it so that alle tariyng be anoyful,
1032 A algates it is nat to repreve in yevynge of juggement ne in vengeance takyng,
1032B whan it is sufficeant and resonable.
1033 And that shewed oure Lord Jhesu Crist by ensample, for whan that the womman that was taken in avowtrie
1033 A was broght in his presence to knowen what sholde be doon with hire persone, al be it so that he wiste wel hymself what
1033B that he wolde answere, yet ne wolde he nat answere sodeynly,
1033C but he wolde have deliberacion, and in the ground he wroot twies.
1034 And by thise causes we axen deliberacioun, and we shal thanne, by the grace of God, conseille thee
1034 A thyng that shal be profitable.”
1035 Up stirten thanne the yonge folk atones, and the mooste partie of that compaignye han scorned this olde wise
1035 A man, and bigonnen to make noyse, and seyden that
1036 right so as whil that iren is hoot men sholden smyte,
1036 A right so men sholde wreken hir wronges whil that they been fresshe and newe;
1036B and with loud voys they criden “Werre! Werre!”
1037 Up roos tho oon of thise olde wise, and with his hand made contenaunce that
1037 A men sholde holden hem stille and yeven hym audience.
1038 “Lordynges,” quod he, “ther is ful many a man that crieth ‘Werre, werre!’
1038 A that woot ful litel what werre amounteth.
1039 Werre at his bigynnyng hath so greet an entryng and so large that every wight may entre
1039 A whan hym liketh and lightly fynde werre;
1040 but certes what ende that shal therof bifalle, it is nat light to knowe.
1041 For soothly, whan that werre is ones bigonne, ther is ful many a child unborn of his mooder
1041 A that shal sterve yong by cause of thilke werre, or elles lyve in sorwe and dye in wrecchednesse.
1042 And therfore, er that any werre bigynne, men moste have greet conseil and greet deliberacion.”
1043 And whan this olde man wende to enforcen his tale by resons, wel ny alle atones bigonne they
1043 A to rise for to breken his tale, and beden hym ful ofte his wordes for to abregge.
1044 For soothly, he that precheth to hem that listen nat heeren his wordes, his sermon hem anoieth.
1045 For Jhesus Syrak seith that “musik in wepynge is a noyous thyng”; this is to seyn:
1045 A as muche availleth to speken bifore folk to which his speche anoyeth
1045 B as it is to synge biforn hym that wepeth.
1046 And whan this wise man saugh that hym wanted audience, al shamefast he sette hym doun agayn.
1047 For Salomon seith: “Ther as thou ne mayst have noon audience, enforce thee nat to speke.”
1048 “I see wel,” quod this wise man, “that the commune proverbe is sooth, that
1048 A ‘good conseil wanteth whan it is moost nede.'”
1049 Yet hadde this ibeus in his conseil many folk that prively in his eere conseilled hym certeyn thyng,
1049 A and conseilled hym the contrarie in general audience.
1050 Whan ibeus hadde herd that the gretteste partie of his conseil weren accorded that he sholde maken werre,
1050 A anoon he consented to hir conseillyng and fully affermed hire sentence.
1051 Thanne dame Prudence, whan that she saugh how that hir housbonde shoop hym for to wreken hym on his
1051 A foes and to bigynne werre, she in ful humble wise, whan she saugh hir tyme, seide to hym thise wordes:
1052 “My lord,” quod she, “I yow biseche, as hertely as I dar and kan,
1052 A ne haste yow nat to faste and, for alle gerdons, as yeveth me audience.
1053 For Piers Alfonce seith, ‘Whoso that dooth to thee oother good or harm, haste thee nat to quiten it,
1053 A for in this wise thy freend wole abyde and thyn enemy shal the lenger lyve in drede.’
1054 The proverbe seith, ‘He hasteth wel that wisely kan abyde,’ and ‘in wikked haste is no profit.'”
1055 This ibee answerde unto his wyf Prudence: “I purpose nat,” quod he, “to werke by thy conseil,
1055 A for many causes and resouns. For certes, every wight wolde holde me thanne a fool;
1056 this is to seyn, if I, for thy conseillyng, wolde chaungen
1056 A thynges that been ordeyned and affermed by so manye wyse.
1057 Secoundely, I seye that alle wommen been wikke, and noon good of hem alle.
1057 A For ‘of a thousand men,’ seith Salomon, ‘I foond o good man, but certes,
1057 B of alle wommen, good womman foond I nevere.’
1058 And also, certes, if I governed me by thy conseil,
1058 A it sholde seme that I hadde yeve to thee over me the maistrie,
1058B and God forbede that it so weere!
1059 For Jhesus Syrak seith that ‘if the wyf have maistrie, she is contrarious to hir housbonde.’
1060 And Salomon seith: ‘Nevere in thy lyf to thy wyf, ne to thy child, ne to thy freend
1060 A ne yeve no power over thyself, for bettre it were that thy children
1060 B aske of thy persone thynges that hem nedeth than thou see thyself
1060 C in the handes of thy children.’
1061 And also if I wolde werke by thy conseillyng, certes, my conseil moste som tyme be secree,
1061 A til it were tyme that it moste be knowe, and this ne may noght be.
1064 Whanne dame Prudence, ful debonairly and with greet pacience, hadde herd al that hir housbonde liked for to seye,
1064 A thanne axed she of hym licence for to speke, and seyde in this wise:
1065 “My lord,” quod she, “as to youre firste resoun, certes it may lightly been answered. For I seye that
1065 A it is no folie to chaunge conseil whan the thyng is chaunged,
1065B or elles whan the thyng semeth ootherweyes than it was biforn.
1066 And mooreover, I seye that though ye han sworn and bihight to perfourne youre emprise, and nathelees ye weyve
1066 A to perfourne thilke same emprise by juste cause, men sholde nat seyn therfore that ye were a liere ne forsworn.
1067 For the book seith that ‘the wise man maketh no lesyng whan he turneth his corage to the bettre.’
1068 And al be it so that youre emprise be establissed and ordeyned by greet multitude of folk,
1068 A yet thar ye nat accomplice thilke ordinaunce but yow like.
1069 For the trouthe of thynges and the profit been rather founden in fewe folk that been wise and
1069 A ful of resoun than by greet multitude of folk ther every man crieth and clatereth what that hym liketh.
1069B Soothly swich multitude is nat honest.
1070 And as to the seconde resoun, where as ye seyn that alle wommen been wikke;
1070 A save youre grace, certes ye despisen alle wommen in this wyse, and
1070 B ‘he that al despiseth, al displeseth,’ as seith the book.
1071 And Senec seith that ‘whoso wole have sapience shal no man dispreyse,
1071 A but he shal gladly techen the science that he kan withouten presumpcion or pride;
1072 and swiche thynges as he noght ne kan, he shal nat been ashamed to lerne hem,
1072 A and enquere of lasse folk than hymself.’
1073 And, sire, that ther hath been many a good womman may lightly be preved.
1074 For certes, sire, oure Lord Jhesu Crist wolde nevere have descended to be born of a womman,
1074 A if alle wommen hadden been wikke.
1075 And after that, for the grete bountee that is in wommen,
1075 A oure Lord Jhesu Crist, whan he was risen fro deeth to lyve,
1075B appeered rather to a womman than to his Apostles.
1076 And though that Salomon seith that he ne foond nevere womman good,
1076 A it folweth nat therfore that alle wommen ben wikke.
1077 For though that he ne foond no good womman, certes,
1077 A many another man hath founden many a womman ful good and trewe.
1078 Or elles, per aventure, the entente of Salomon was this:
1078 A that, as in sovereyn bounte, he foond no womman —
1079 this is to seyn, that ther is no wight that hath sovereyn bountee save God allone,
1079 A as he hymself recordeth in hys Evaungelie.
1080 For ther nys no creature so good that hym ne wanteth
1080 A somwhat of the perfeccioun of God, that is his makere.
1081 Youre thridde reson is this: ye seyn that if ye governe yow by my conseil,
1081 A it sholde seme that ye hadde yeve me the maistrie and the lordshipe over youre persone.
1082 Sire, save youre grace, it is nat so. For if it so were that no man sholde be conseilled
1082 A but oonly of hem that hadden lordshipe and maistrie of his persone, men wolden nat be conseilled so ofte.
1083 For soothly thilke man that asketh conseil of a purpos, yet hath he free choys
1083 A wheither he wole werke by that conseil or noon.
1084 And as to youre fourthe resoun, ther ye seyn that the janglerie of wommen kan hyde thynges that they
1084 A wot noght, as who seith that a womman kan nat hyde that she woot;
1085 sire, thise wordes been understonde of wommen that been jangleresses and wikked;
1086 of whiche wommen men seyn that thre thynges dryven a man out of his hous —
1086 A that is to seyn, smoke, droppyng of reyn, and wikked wyves;
1087 and of swiche wommen seith Salomon that
1087 A ‘it were bettre dwelle in desert than with a womman that is riotous.’
1088 And sire, by youre leve, that am nat I,
1089 for ye han ful ofte assayed my grete silence and my grete pacience, and eek how wel that
1089 A I kan hyde and hele thynges that men oghte secreely to hyde.
1090 And soothly, as to youre fifthe resoun, where as ye seyn that in wikked conseil wommen venquisshe men,
1090 A God woot, thilke resoun stant heere in no stede.
1091 For understoond now, ye asken conseil to do wikkednesse;
1092 and if ye wole werken wikkednesse, and youre wif restreyneth thilke wikked purpos,
1092 A and overcometh yow by reson and by good conseil,
1093 certes youre wyf oghte rather to be preised than yblamed.
1094 Thus sholde ye understonde the philosophre that seith, ‘In wikked conseil wommen venquisshen hir housbondes.’
1095 And ther as ye blamen alle wommen and hir resouns, I shal shewe yow by manye ensamples that
1095 A many a womman hath ben ful good, and yet been, and hir conseils ful hoolsome and profitable.
1096 Eek som men han seyd that the conseillynge of wommen
1096 A is outher to deere or elles to litel of pris.
1097 But al be it so that ful many a womman is badde and hir conseil vile and noght worth,
1097 A yet han men founde ful many a good womman, and ful discret and wis in conseillynge.
1098 Loo, Jacob by good conseil of his mooder Rebekka wan the benysoun of Ysaak his fader
1098 A and the lordshipe over alle his bretheren.
1099 Judith by hire good conseil delivered the citee of Bethulie, in which she dwelled,
1099 A out of the handes of Olofernus, that hadde it biseged and wolde have al destroyed it.
1100 Abygail delivered Nabal hir housbonde fro David the kyng, that wolde have slayn hym,
1100 A and apaysed the ire of the kyng by hir wit and by hir good conseillyng.
1101 Hester by hir good conseil enhaunced greetly the peple of God in the regne of Assuerus the kyng.
1102 And the same bountee in good conseillyng of many a good womman may men telle.
1103 And mooreover, whan oure Lord hadde creat Adam, oure forme fader, he seyde in this wise:
1104 ‘It is nat good to been a man alloone; make we to hym an helpe semblable to hymself.’
1105 Heere may ye se that if that wommen were nat goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable,
1106 oure Lord God of hevene wolde nevere han wroght hem,
1106 A ne called hem help of man, but rather confusioun of man.
1107 And ther seyde oones a clerk in two vers, ‘What is bettre than gold? Jaspre.
1107 A What is bettre than jaspre? Wisedoom.
1108 And what is better than wisedoom? Womman. And what is bettre than a good womman? Nothyng.’
1109 And, sire, by manye of othre resons may ye seen that
1109 A manye wommen been goode, and hir conseils goode and profitable.
1110 And therfore, sire, if ye wol triste to my conseil, I shal restoore yow youre doghter hool and sound.
1111 And eek I wol do to yow so muche that ye shul have honour in this cause.”
1112 Whan ibee hadde herd the wordes of his wyf Prudence, he seyde thus:
1113 “I se wel that the word of Salomon is sooth.
1113 A He seith that ‘wordes that been spoken discreetly by ordinaunce been honycombes,
1113B for they yeven swetnesse to the soule and hoolsomnesse to the body.’
1114 And, wyf, by cause of thy sweete wordes, and eek for I have assayed and preved thy grete sapience
1114 A and thy grete trouthe, I wol governe me by thy conseil in alle thyng.”
1115 “Now, sire,” quod dame Prudence, “and syn ye vouche sauf to been governed by my conseil,
1115 A I wol enforme yow how ye shul governe yourself in chesynge of youre conseillours.
1116 Ye shul first in alle youre werkes mekely biseken to the heighe God that he wol be youre conseillour;
1117 and shapeth yow to swich entente that he yeve yow conseil and confort, as taughte Thobie his sone:
1118 ‘ At alle tymes thou shalt blesse God, and praye hym to dresse thy weyes,
1118 A and looke that alle thy conseils been in hym for everemoore.’
1119 Seint Jame eek seith: ‘If any of yow have nede of sapience, axe it of God.’
1120 And afterward thanne shul ye taken conseil in youreself,
1120 A and examyne wel youre thoghtes of swich thyng as yow thynketh that is best for youre profit.
1121 And thanne shul ye dryve fro youre herte thre thynges that been contrariouse to good conseil;
1122 that is to seyn, ire, coveitise, and hastifnesse.
1123 “First, he that axeth conseil of hymself, certes he moste been withouten ire, for manye causes.
1124 The firste is this: he that hath greet ire and wratthe in hymself, he weneth alwey that
1124 A he may do thyng that he may nat do.
1125 And secoundely, he that is irous and wrooth, he ne may nat wel deme;
1126 and he that may nat wel deme, may nat wel conseille.
1127 The thridde is this, that he that is irous and wrooth, as seith Senec,
1127 A ne may nat speke but blameful thynges,
1128 and with his viciouse wordes he stireth oother folk to angre and to ire.
1129 And eek, sire, ye moste dryve coveitise out of youre herte.
1130 For the Apostle seith that coveitise is roote of alle harmes.
1131 And trust wel that a coveitous man ne kan noght deme ne thynke,
1131 A but oonly to fulfille the ende of his coveitise;
1132 and certes, that ne may nevere been accompliced,
1132 A for evere the moore habundaunce that he hath of richesse, the moore he desireth.
1133 And, sire, ye moste also dryve out of youre herte hastifnesse; for certes,
1134 ye ne may nat deeme for the beste by a sodeyn thought that falleth in youre herte,
1134 A but ye moste avyse yow on it ful ofte.
1135 For, as ye herde her biforn, the commune proverbe is this, that ‘he that soone deemeth, soone repenteth.’
1136 Sire, ye ne be nat alwey in lyk disposicioun;
1137 for certes, somthyng that somtyme semeth to yow that it is good for to do,
1137 A another tyme it semeth to yow the contrarie.
1138 “Whan ye han taken conseil in youreself and han deemed by good deliberacion swich thyng as you semeth best,
1139 thanne rede I yow that ye kepe it secree.
1140 Biwrey nat youre conseil to no persone, but if so be that ye wenen sikerly that
1140 A thurgh youre biwreyyng youre condicioun shal be to yow the moore profitable.
1141 For Jhesus Syrak seith, ‘Neither to thy foo ne to thy frend discovere nat thy secree ne thy folie,
1142 for they wol yeve yow audience and lookynge and supportacioun in thy presence and scorne thee in thyn absence.’
1143 Another clerk seith that ‘scarsly shaltou fynden any persone that may kepe conseil secrely.’
1144 The book seith, ‘Whil that thou kepest thy conseil in thyn herte, thou kepest it in thy prisoun,
1145 and whan thou biwreyest thy conseil to any wight, he holdeth thee in his snare.’
1146 And therfore yow is bettre to hyde youre conseil in youre herte than praye him
1146 A to whom ye han biwreyed youre conseil that he wole kepen it cloos and stille.
1147 For Seneca seith: ‘If so be that thou ne mayst nat thyn owene conseil hyde,
1147 A how darstou prayen any oother wight thy conseil secrely to kepe?’
1148 But nathelees, if thou wene sikerly that the biwreiyng of thy conseil to a persone wol make
1148 A thy condicion to stonden in the bettre plyt, thanne shaltou tellen hym thy conseil in this wise.
1149 First thou shalt make no semblant wheither thee were levere pees or werre, or this or that,
1149 A ne shewe hym nat thy wille and thyn entente.
1150 For trust wel that comunli thise conseillours been flatereres,
1151 namely the conseillours of grete lordes,
1152 for they enforcen hem alwey rather to speken plesante wordes, enclynynge to the lordes lust,
1152 A than wordes that been trewe or profitable.
1153 And therfore men seyn that the riche man hath seeld good conseil, but if he have it of hymself.
1154 And after that thou shalt considere thy freendes and thyne enemys.
1155 And as touchynge thy freendes, thou shalt considere which of hem been
1155 A moost feithful and moost wise and eldest and most approved in conseillyng;
1156 and of hem shalt thou aske thy conseil, as the caas requireth.
1157 I seye that first ye shul clepe to youre conseil youre freendes that been trewe.
1158 For Salomon seith that ‘right as the herte of a man deliteth in savour that is soote,
1158 A right so the conseil of trewe freendes yeveth swetnesse to the soule.’
1159 He seith also, ‘Ther may no thyng be likned to the trewe freend,
1160 for certes gold ne silver ben nat so muche worth as the goode wyl of a trewe freend.’
1161 And eek he seith that ‘a trewe freend is a strong deffense; who so that it fyndeth,
1161 A certes he fyndeth a greet tresour.’
1162 Thanne shul ye eek considere if that youre trewe freendes been discrete and wise.
1162 A For the book seith, ‘ Axe alwey thy conseil of hem that been wise.’
1163 And by this same resoun shul ye clepen to youre conseil of youre freendes that been of age,
1163 A swiche as han seyn and been expert in manye thynges and been approved in conseillynges.
1164 For the book seith that ‘in olde men is the sapience, and in longe tyme the prudence.’
1165 And Tullius seith that ‘grete thynges ne been nat ay accompliced by strengthe, ne by delivernesse of body, but
1165 A by good conseil, by auctoritee of persones, and by science; the whiche thre thynges ne been nat fieble by age,
1165B but certes they enforcen and encreescen day by day.’
1166 And thanne shul ye kepe this for a general reule: First shul ye clepen to youre conseil
1166 A a fewe of youre freendes that been especiale;
1167 for Salomon seith, ‘Manye freendes have thou, but among a thousand chese thee oon to be thy conseillour.’
1168 For al be it so that thou first ne telle thy conseil but to a fewe,
1168 A thou mayst afterward telle it to mo folk if it be nede.
1169 But looke alwey that thy conseillours have thilke thre condiciouns that I have seyd bifore —
1169 A that is to seyn, that they be trewe, wise, and of oold experience.
1170 And werke nat alwey in every nede by oon counseillour allone;
1170 A for somtyme bihooveth it to been conseilled by manye.
1171 For Salomon seith, ‘Salvacion of thynges is where as ther been manye conseillours.’
1172 “Now, sith that I have toold yow of which folk ye sholde been counseilled, now
1172 A wol I teche yow which conseil ye oghte to eschewe.
1173 First, ye shul eschue the conseillyng of fooles; for Salomon seith, ‘Taak no conseil of a fool,
1173 A for he ne kan noght conseille but after his owene lust and his affeccioun.’
1174 The book seith that ‘the propretee of a fool is this: he troweth lightly harm of every wight,
1174 A and lightly troweth alle bountee in hymself.’
1175 Thou shalt eek eschue the conseillyng of alle flatereres, swiche as enforcen hem rather to preise youre persone
1175 A by flaterye than for to telle yow the soothfastnesse of thynges.
1176 Wherfore Tullius seith, ‘ Amonges alle the pestilences that been in freendshipe the gretteste is flaterie.’
1176 A And therfore is it moore nede that thou eschue and drede flatereres than any oother peple.
1177 The book seith, ‘Thou shalt rather drede and flee fro the sweete wordes of flaterynge preiseres
1177 A than fro the egre wordes of thy freend that seith thee thy sothes.’
1178 Salomon seith that ‘the wordes of a flaterere is a snare to cacche with innocentz.’
1179 He seith also that ‘he that speketh to his freend wordes of swetnesse and of plesaunce
1179 A setteth a net biforn his feet to cacche hym.’
1180 And therfore seith Tullius, ‘Enclyne nat thyne eres to flatereres, ne taak no conseil of the wordes of flaterye.’
1181 And Caton seith, ‘ Avyse thee wel, and eschue the wordes of swetnesse and of plesaunce.’
1182 And eek thou shalt eschue the conseillyng of thyne olde enemys that been reconsiled.
1183 The book seith that ‘no wight retourneth saufly into the grace of his olde enemy.’
1184 And Isope seith, ‘Ne trust nat to hem to whiche thou hast had som tyme werre or enemytee,
1184 A ne telle hem nat thy conseil.’
1185 And Seneca telleth the cause why: ‘It may nat be,’ seith he, ‘that where greet
1185 A fyr hath longe tyme endured, that ther ne dwelleth som vapour of warmnesse.’
1186 And therfore seith Salomon, ‘In thyn olde foo trust nevere.’
1187 For sikerly, though thyn enemy be reconsiled, and maketh thee chiere of humylitee,
1187 A and lowteth to thee with his heed, ne trust hym nevere.
1188 For certes he maketh thilke feyned humilitee moore for his profit than for any love of thy persone,
1188 A by cause that he deemeth to have victorie over thy persone by swich feyned contenance,
1188B the which victorie he myghte nat have by strif or werre.
1189 And Peter Alfonce seith, ‘Make no felawshipe with thyne olde enemys, for if thou do hem bountee,
1189 A they wol perverten it into wikkednesse.’
1190 And eek thou most eschue the conseillyng of hem that been thy servantz and beren thee greet reverence,
1190 A for peraventure they seyn it moore for drede than for love.
1191 And therfore seith a philosophre in this wise:
1191 A ‘Ther is no wight parfitly trewe to hym that he to soore dredeth.’
1192 And Tullius seith, ‘Ther nys no myght so greet of any emperour that longe may endure,
1192 A but if he have moore love of the peple than drede.’
1193 Thou shalt also eschue the conseiling of folk that been dronkelewe, for they ne kan no conseil hyde.
1194 For Salomon seith, ‘Ther is no privetee ther as regneth dronkenesse.’
1195 Ye shul also han in suspect the conseillyng of swich folk as
1195 A conseille yow o thyng prively and conseille yow the contrarie openly.
1196 For Cassidorie seith that ‘it is a manere sleighte to hyndre,
1196 A whan he sheweth to doon o thyng openly and werketh prively the contrarie.’
1197 Thou shalt also have in suspect the conseillyng of wikked folk. For the book seith,
1197 A ‘The conseillyng of wikked folk is alwey ful of fraude.’
1198 And David seith, ‘Blisful is that man that hath nat folwed the conseilyng of shrewes.’
1199 Thou shalt also eschue the conseillyng of yong folk, for hir conseil is nat rype.
1200 “Now, sire, sith I have shewed yow of which folk ye shul take youre conseil
1200 A and of which folk ye shul folwe the conseil,
1201 now wol I teche yow how ye shal examyne youre conseil, after the doctrine of Tullius.
1202 In the examynynge thanne of youre conseillour ye shul considere manye thynges.
1203 Alderfirst thou shalt considere that in thilke thyng that thou purposest, and upon what thyng thou wolt have conseil,
1203 A that verray trouthe be seyd and conserved; this is to seyn, telle trewely thy tale.
1204 For he that seith fals may nat wel be conseilled in that cas of which he lieth.
1205 And after this thou shalt considere the thynges that acorden to that thou purposest
1205 A for to do by thy conseillours, if resoun accorde therto,
1206 and eek if thy myght may atteine therto, and if the moore part
1206 A and the bettre part of thy conseillours acorde therto, or noon.
1207 Thanne shaltou considere what thyng shal folwe of that conseillyng,
1207 A as hate, pees, werre, grace, profit, or damage, and manye othere thynges.
1208 And in alle thise thynges thou shalt chese the beste and weyve alle othere thynges.
1209 Thanne shaltow considere of what roote is engendred the matiere of thy conseil
1209 A and what fruyt it may conceyve and engendre.
1210 Thou shalt eek considere alle thise causes, fro whennes they been sprongen.
1211 And whan ye han examyned youre conseil, as I have seyd, and which partie is the bettre
1211 A and moore profitable, and han approved it by manye wise folk and olde,
1212 thanne shaltou considere if thou mayst parfourne it and maken of it a good ende.
1213 For certes resoun wol nat that any man sholde bigynne a thyng
1213 A but if he myghte parfourne it as hym oghte;
1214 ne no wight sholde take upon hym so hevy a charge that he myghte nat bere it.
1215 For the proverbe seith, ‘He that to muche embraceth, distreyneth litel.’
1216 And Catoun seith, ‘ Assay to do swich thyng as thou hast power to doon,
1216 A lest that the charge oppresse thee so soore that
1216B thee bihoveth to weyve thyng that thou hast bigonne.’
1217 And if so be that thou be in doute wheither thou mayst parfourne a thing or noon,
1217 A chese rather to suffre than bigynne.
1218 And Piers Alphonce seith, ‘If thou hast myght to doon a thyng of which thou most repente,
1218 A it is bettre “nay” than “ye.”‘
1219 This is to seyn, that thee is bettre holde thy tonge stille than for to speke.
1220 Thanne may ye understonde by strenger resons that if thou hast power to parfourne a werk
1220 A of which thou shalt repente, thanne is it bettre that thou suffre than bigynne.
1221 Wel seyn they that defenden every wight to assaye a thyng of which he is in doute
1221 A wheither he may parfourne it or noon.
1222 And after, whan ye han examyned youre conseil, as I have seyd biforn, and knowen wel that
1222 A ye may parfourne youre emprise, conferme it thanne sadly til it be at an ende.
1223 “Now is it resoun and tyme that I shewe yow whanne and wherfore that
1223 A ye may chaunge youre counseil withouten youre repreve.
1224 Soothly, a man may chaungen his purpos and his conseil if the cause cesseth,
1224 A or whan a newe caas bitydeth.
1225 For the lawe seith that ‘upon thynges that newely bityden bihoveth newe conseil.’
1226 And Senec seith, ‘If thy conseil is comen to the eeris of thyn enemy, chaunge thy conseil.’
1227 Thou mayst also chaunge thy conseil if so be that thou fynde that by errour,
1227 A or by oother cause, harm or damage may bityde.
1228 Also if thy conseil be dishonest, or ellis cometh of dishonest cause, chaunge thy conseil.
1229 For the lawes seyn that ‘alle bihestes that been dishoneste been of no value’;
1230 and eek if so be that it be inpossible, or may nat goodly be parfourned or kept.
1231 ” And take this for a general reule, that every conseil that is affermed so strongly that it may nat
1231 A be chaunged for no condicioun that may bityde, I seye that thilke conseil is wikked.”
1232 This ibeus, whanne he hadde herd the doctrine of his wyf dame Prudence, answerde in this wyse:
1233 “Dame,” quod he, “as yet into this tyme ye han wel and covenably taught me as in general how
1233 A I shal governe me in the chesynge and in the withholdynge of my conseillours.
1234 But now wolde I fayn that ye wolde condescende in especial
1235 and telle me how liketh yow, or what semeth yow, by oure conseillours
1235 A that we han chosen in oure present nede.”
1236 “My lord,” quod she, “I biseke yow in al humblesse that ye wol nat wilfully replie agayn my resouns,
1236 A ne distempre youre herte, thogh I speke thyng that yow displese.
1237 For God woot that, as in myn entente, I speke it for youre beste,
1237 A for youre honour, and for youre profite eke.
1238 And soothly, I hope that youre benyngnytee wol taken it in pacience.
1239 Trusteth me wel,” quod she, “that youre conseil as in this caas ne sholde nat, as to speke properly,
1239 A be called a conseillyng, but a mocioun or a moevyng of folye,
1240 in which conseil ye han erred in many a sondry wise.
1241 “First and forward, ye han erred in th’ assemblynge of youre conseillours.
1242 For ye sholde first have cleped a fewe folk to youre conseil, and after ye myghte han shewed it
1242 A to mo folk, if it hadde been nede.
1243 But certes, ye han sodeynly cleped to youre conseil a greet multitude of peple,
1243 A ful chargeant and ful anoyous for to heere.
1244 Also ye han erred, for theras ye sholden oonly have cleped to youre conseil
1244 A youre trewe frendes olde and wise,
1245 ye han ycleped straunge folk, yonge folk, false flatereres, and enemys reconsiled,
1245 A and folk that doon yow reverence withouten love.
1246 And eek also ye have erred, for ye han broght with yow to youre conseil ire, coveitise, and hastifnesse,
1247 the whiche thre thinges been contrariouse to every conseil honest and profitable;
1248 the whiche thre thinges ye han nat anientissed or destroyed hem,
1248 A neither in youreself, ne in youre conseillours, as yow oghte.
1249 Ye han erred also, for ye han shewed to youre conseillours
1249 A youre talent and youre affeccioun to make werre anon and for to do vengeance.
1250 They han espied by youre wordes to what thyng ye been enclyned;
1251 and therfore han they rather conseilled yow to youre talent than to youre profit.
1252 Ye han erred also, for it semeth that yow suffiseth
1252 A to han been conseilled by thise conseillours oonly, and with litel avys,
1253 whereas in so greet and so heigh a nede it hadde been necessarie mo conseillours
1253 A and moore deliberacion to parfourne youre emprise.
1254 Ye han erred also, for ye ne han nat examyned youre conseil in the forseyde manere,
1254 A ne in due manere, as the caas requireth.
1255 Ye han erred also, for ye han maked no division bitwixe youre conseillours — this is to seyn,
1255 A bitwixen youre trewe freendes and youre feyned conseillours —
1256 ne ye han nat knowe the wil of youre trewe freendes olde and wise,
1257 but ye han cast alle hire wordes in an hochepot, and enclyned youre herte to the moore part
1257 A and to the gretter nombre, and there been ye condescended.
1258 And sith ye woot wel that men shal alwey fynde a gretter nombre of fooles than of wise men,
1259 and therfore the conseils that been at congregaciouns and multitudes of folk, there as men take moore reward
1259 A to the nombre than to the sapience of persones,
1260 ye se wel that in swiche conseillynges fooles han the maistrie.”
1261 ibeus answerde agayn, and seyde, “I graunte wel that I have erred;
1262 but there as thou hast toold me heerbiforn
1262 A that he nys nat to blame that chaungeth his conseillours in certein caas and for certeine juste causes,
1263 I am al redy to chaunge my conseillours right as thow wolt devyse.
1264 The proverbe seith that ‘for to do synne is mannyssh,
1264 A but certes for to persevere longe in synne is werk of the devel.'”
1265 To this sentence answered anon dame Prudence, and seyde,
1266 “Examineth,” quod she, “youre conseil, and lat us see
1266 A the whiche of hem han spoken most resonably and taught yow best conseil.
1267 And for as muche as that the examynacion is necessarie, lat us bigynne at the surgiens
1267 A and at the phisiciens, that first speeken in this matiere.
1268 I sey yow that the surgiens and phisiciens han seyd yow in youre conseil discreetly, as hem oughte,
1269 and in hir speche seyden ful wisely that to the office of hem aperteneth to doon to every wight
1269 A honour and profit, and no wight for to anoye,
1270 and after hir craft to doon greet diligence
1270 A unto the cure of hem which that they han in hir governaunce.
1271 And, sire, right as they han answered wisely and discreetly,
1272 right so rede I that they been heighly and sovereynly gerdoned for hir noble speche,
1273 and eek for they sholde do the moore ententif bisynesse in the curacion of youre doghter deere.
1274 For al be it so that they been youre freendes, therfore shal ye nat suffren
1274 A that they serve yow for noght,
1275 but ye oghte the rather gerdone hem and shewe hem youre largesse.
1276 And as touchynge the proposicioun which that the phisiciens encreesceden in this caas — this is to seyn,
1277 that in maladies that oon contrarie is warisshed by another contrarie —
1278 I wolde fayn knowe hou ye understonde thilke text, and what is youre sentence.”
1279 “Certes,” quod ibeus, “I understonde it in this wise:
1280 that right as they han doon me a contrarie, right so sholde I doon hem another.
1281 For right as they han venged hem on me and doon me wrong,
1281 A right so shal I venge me upon hem and doon hem wrong;
1282 and thanne have I cured oon contrarie by another.”
1283 “Lo, lo,” quod dame Prudence, “how lightly is every man enclined to his owene desir
1283 A and to his owene plesaunce!
1284 Certes,” quod she, “the wordes of the phisiciens ne sholde nat han been understonden in thys wise.
1285 For certes, wikkednesse is nat contrarie to wikkednesse, ne vengeance to vengeaunce,
1285 A ne wrong to wrong, but they been semblable.
1286 And therfore o vengeaunce is nat warisshed by another vengeaunce, ne o wroong by another wroong,
1287 but everich of hem encreesceth and aggreggeth oother.
1288 But certes, the wordes of the phisiciens sholde been understonden in this wise:
1289 for good and wikkednesse been two contraries, and pees and werre, vengeaunce
1289 A and suffraunce, discord and accord, and manye othere thynges;
1290 but certes, wikkednesse shal be warisshed by goodnesse, discord by accord, werre by pees,
1290 A and so forth of othere thynges.
1291 And heerto accordeth Seint Paul the Apostle in manye places.
1292 He seith, ‘Ne yeldeth nat harm for harm, ne wikked speche for wikked speche,
1293 but do wel to hym that dooth thee harm and blesse hym that seith to thee harm.’
1294 And in manye othere places he amonesteth pees and accord.
1295 But now wol I speke to yow of the conseil which that was yeven to yow
1295 A by the men of lawe and the wise folk,
1296 that seyden alle by oon accord, as ye han herd bifore,
1297 that over alle thynges ye shal doon youre diligence to kepen youre persone and to warnestoore youre hous;
1298 and seyden also that in this caas yow oghten for to werken ful avysely and with greet deliberacioun.
1299 And, sire, as to the firste point, that toucheth to the kepyng of youre persone,
1300 ye shul understonde that he that hath werre shal everemoore mekely and devoutly preyen, biforn alle thynges,
1301 that Jhesus Crist of his mercy wol han hym in his proteccion
1301 A and been his sovereyn helpyng at his nede.
1302 For certes, in this world ther is no wight that may be conseilled ne kept sufficeantly
1302 A withouten the kepyng of oure Lord Jhesu Crist.
1303 To this sentence accordeth the prophete David, that seith,
1304 ‘If God ne kepe the citee, in ydel waketh he that it kepeth.’
1305 Now, sire, thanne shul ye committe the kepyng of youre persone
1305 A to youre trewe freendes that been approved and yknowe,
1306 and of hem shul ye axen help youre persone for to kepe. For Catoun seith,
1306 A ‘If thou hast nede of help, axe it of thy freendes,
1307 for ther nys noon so good a phisicien as thy trewe freend.’
1308 And after this thanne shul ye kepe yow fro alle straunge folk, and fro lyeres,
1308 A and have alwey in suspect hire compaignye.
1309 For Piers Alfonce seith, ‘Ne taak no compaignye by the weye of a straunge man,
1309 A but if so be that thou have knowe hym of a lenger tyme.
1310 And if so be that he falle into thy compaignye paraventure, withouten thyn assent,
1311 enquere thanne as subtilly as thou mayst of his conversacion, and of his lyf bifore, and feyne thy wey;
1311 A seye that [thou] wolt thider as thou wolt nat go;
1312 and if he bereth a spere, hoold thee on the right syde,
1312 A and if he bere a swerd, hoold thee on the lift syde.’
1313 And after this thanne shul ye kepe yow wisely from all swich manere peple as I have seyd bifore,
1313 A and hem and hir conseil eschewe.
1314 And after this thanne shul ye kepe yow in swich manere
1315 that, for any presumpcion of youre strengthe, that ye ne dispise nat, ne accompte nat the myght
1315 A of youre adversarie so litel that ye lete the kepyng of youre persone for youre presumpcioun,
1316 for every wys man dredeth his enemy.
1317 And Salomon seith, ‘Weleful is he that of alle hath drede,
1318 for certes, he that thurgh the hardynesse of his herte and thurgh the hardynesse of hymself hath
1318 A to greet presumpcioun, hym shal yvel bityde.’
1319 Thanne shul ye everemoore contrewayte embusshementz and alle espiaille.
1320 For Senec seith that ‘the wise man that dredeth harmes, eschueth harmes,
1321 ne he ne falleth into perils that perils eschueth.’
1322 And al be it so that it seme that thou art in siker place,
1322 A yet shaltow alwey do thy diligence in kepynge of thy persone;
1323 this is to seyn, ne be nat necligent to kepe thy persone
1323 A nat oonly fro thy gretteste enemys but fro thy leeste enemy.
1324 Senek seith, ‘ A man that is well avysed, he dredeth his leste enemy.’
1325 Ovyde seith that ‘the litel wesele wol slee the grete bole and the wilde hert.’
1326 And the book seith, ‘ A litel thorn may prikke a kyng ful soore,
1326 A and an hound wol holde the wilde boor.’
1327 But nathelees, I sey nat thou shalt be so coward that thou doute ther wher as is no drede.
1328 The book seith that ‘somme folk han greet lust to deceyve, but yet they dreden hem to be deceyved.’
1329 Yet shaltou drede to been empoisoned and kepe the from the compaignye of scorneres.
1330 For the book seith, ‘With scorneres make no compaignye, but flee hire wordes as venym.’
1331 “Now, as to the seconde point,
1331 A where as youre wise conseillours conseilled yow to warnestoore youre hous with gret diligence,
1332 I wolde fayn knowe how that ye understonde thilke wordes and what is youre sentence.”
1333 ibeus answerde and seyde, “Certes, I understande it in this wise: That I shal warnestoore myn hous with toures,
1333 A swiche as han castelles and othere manere edifices, and armure, and artelries,
1334 by whiche thynges I may my persone and myn hous so kepen and deffenden
1334 A that myne enemys shul been in drede myn hous for to approche.”
1335 To this sentence answerde anon Prudence: “Warnestooryng,” quod she,
1335 A “of heighe toures and of grete edifices apperteyneth somtyme to pryde.
1336 And eek men make heighe toures, [and grete edifices] with grete costages and with greet travaille,
1336 A and whan that they been accompliced, yet be they nat worth a stree,
1336B but if they be defended by trewe freendes that been olde and wise.
1337 And understoond wel that the gretteste and strongeste garnysoun that a riche man may have,
1337 A as wel to kepen his persone as his goodes, is
1338 that he be biloved with hys subgetz and with his neighebores.
1339 For thus seith Tullius, that ‘ther is a manere garnysoun
1339 A that no man may venquysse ne disconfite, and that is
1340 a lord to be biloved of his citezeins and of his peple.’
1341 Now, sire, as to the thridde point, where as youre olde
1341 A and wise conseillours seyden that yow ne oghte nat sodeynly ne hastily proceden in this nede,
1342 but that yow oghte purveyen and apparaillen yow in this caas with greet diligence and greet deliberacioun;
1343 trewely, I trowe that they seyden right wisely and right sooth.
1344 For Tullius seith, ‘In every nede, er thou bigynne it, apparaille thee with greet diligence.’
1345 Thanne seye I that in vengeance-takyng, in werre, in bataille, and in warnestooryng,
1346 er thow bigynne, I rede that thou apparaille thee therto, and do it with greet deliberacion.
1347 For Tullius seith that ‘longe apparaillyng biforn the bataille maketh short victorie.’
1348 And Cassidorus seith, ‘The garnysoun is stronger whan it is longe tyme avysed.’
1349 But now lat us speken of the conseil that was accorded by youre neighebores,
1349 A swiche as doon yow reverence withouten love,
1350 youre olde enemys reconsiled, youre flatereres,
1351 that conseilled yow certeyne thynges prively, and openly conseilleden yow the contrarie;
1352 the yonge folk also, that conseilleden yow to venge yow and make werre anon.
1353 And certes, sire, as I have seyd biforn, ye han greetly erred
1353 A to han cleped swich manere folk to youre conseil,
1354 which conseillours been ynogh repreved by the resouns aforeseyd.
1355 But nathelees, lat us now descende to the special. Ye shuln first procede after the doctrine of Tullius.
1356 Certes, the trouthe of this matiere, or of this conseil, nedeth nat diligently enquere,
1357 for it is wel wist whiche they been that han doon to yow this trespas and vileynye,
1358 and how manye trespassours, and in what manere
1358 A they han to yow doon al this wrong and al this vileynye.
1359 And after this, thanne shul ye examyne the seconde condicion which that the same Tullius addeth in this matiere.
1360 For Tullius put a thyng which that he clepeth ‘consentynge’; this is to seyn,
1361 who been they, and whiche been they and how manye that consenten to thy conseil
1361 A in thy wilfulnesse to doon hastif vengeance.
1362 And lat us considere also who been they, and how manye been they,
1362 A and whiche been they that consenteden to youre adversaries.
1363 And certes, as to the firste poynt, it is wel knowen whiche folk been
1363 A they that consenteden to youre hastif wilfulnesse,
1364 for trewely, alle tho that conseilleden yow to maken sodeyn werre ne been nat youre freendes.
1365 Lat us now considere whiche been they that ye holde so greetly youre freendes as to youre persone.
1366 For al be it so that ye be myghty and riche, certes ye ne been but allone,
1367 for certes ye ne han no child but a doghter,
1368 ne ye ne han bretheren, ne cosyns germayns, ne noon oother neigh kynrede,
1369 wherfore that youre enemys for drede sholde stinte to plede with yow or to destroye youre persone.
1370 Ye knowen also that youre richesses mooten been dispended in diverse parties,
1371 and whan that every wight hath his part, they ne wollen taken but litel reward to venge thy deeth.
1372 But thyne enemys been thre, and they han manie children, bretheren, cosyns, and oother ny kynrede.
1373 And though so were that thou haddest slayn of hem two or three, yet dwellen ther ynowe
1373 A to wreken hir deeth and to sle thy persone.
1374 And though so be that youre kynrede be moore siker and stedefast than the kyn of youre adversarie,
1375 yet nathelees youre kynrede nys but a fer kynrede; they been but litel syb to yow,
1376 and the kyn of youre enemys been ny syb to hem.
1376 A And certes, as in that, hir condicioun is bet than youres.
1377 Thanne lat us considere also if the conseillyng of hem that conseilleden yow to taken sodeyn vengeaunce,
1377 A wheither it accorde to resoun.
1378 And certes, ye knowe wel ‘nay.’
1379 For, as by right and resoun, ther may no man taken vengeance on no wight
1379 A but the juge that hath the jurisdiccioun of it,
1380 whan it is graunted hym to take thilke vengeance hastily or attemprely, as the lawe requireth.
1381 And yet mooreover of thilke word that Tullius clepeth ‘consentynge,’
1382 thou shalt considere if thy myght and thy power may consenten
1382 A and suffise to thy wilfulnesse and to thy conseillours.
1383 And certes thou mayst wel seyn that ‘nay.’
1384 For sikerly, as for to speke proprely, we may do no thyng
1384 A but oonly swich thyng as we may doon rightfully.
1385 And certes rightfully ne mowe ye take no vengeance, as of youre propre auctoritee.
1386 Thanne mowe ye seen that youre power ne consenteth nat, ne accordeth nat, with youre wilfulnesse.
1387 “Lat us now examyne the thridde point, that Tullius clepeth ‘consequent.’
1388 Thou shalt understonde that the vengeance that thou purposest for to take is the consequent;
1389 and therof folweth another vengeaunce, peril, and werre, and othere damages withoute nombre,
1389 A of whiche we be nat war, as at this tyme.
1390 And as touchynge the fourthe point, that Tullius clepeth ‘engendrynge,’
1391 thou shalt considere that this wrong which that is doon to thee
1391 A is engendred of the hate of thyne enemys,
1392 and of the vengeance-takynge upon that wolde engendre another vengeance,
1392 A and muchel sorwe and wastynge of richesses, as I seyde.
1393 “Now, sire, as to the point that Tullius clepeth ’causes,’ which that is the laste point,
1394 thou shalt understonde that the wrong that thou hast receyved hath certeine causes,
1395 whiche that clerkes clepen Oriens and Efficiens, and Causa longinqua and Causa propinqua;
1395 A this is to seyn, the fer cause and the ny cause.
1396 The fer cause is almyghty God, that is cause of alle thynges.
1397 The neer cause is thy thre enemys.
1398 The cause accidental was hate.
1399 The cause material been the fyve woundes of thy doghter.
1400 The cause formal is the manere of hir werkynge that broghten laddres and cloumben in at thy wyndowes.
1401 The cause final was for to sle thy doghter. It letted nat in as muche as in hem was.
1402 But for to speken of the fer cause, as to what ende they shul come, or what shal finally
1402 A bityde of hem in this caas, ne kan I nat deeme but by conjectynge and by supposynge.
1403 For we shul suppose that they shul come to a wikked ende,
1404 by cause that the Book of Decrees seith, ‘Seelden, or with greet peyne, been causes ybroght to good ende
1404 A whanne they been baddely bigonne.’
1405 “Now, sire, if men wolde axe me why that God suffred men to do yow this vileynye,
1405 A certes, I kan nat wel answere, as for no soothfastnesse.
1406 For th’ apostle seith that ‘the sciences and the juggementz of oure Lord God almyghty been ful depe;
1407 ther may no man comprehende ne serchen hem suffisantly.’
1408 Nathelees, by certeyne presumpciouns and conjectynges, I holde and bileeve
1409 that God, which that is ful of justice and of rightwisnesse, hath suffred this bityde by juste cause resonable.
1410 “Thy name is ibee; this is to seyn, ‘a man that drynketh hony.’
1411 Thou hast ydronke so muchel hony of sweete temporeel richesses, and delices and honours of this world
1412 that thou art dronken and hast forgeten Jhesu Crist thy creatour.
1413 Thou ne hast nat doon to hym swich honour and reverence as thee oughte,
1414 ne thou ne hast nat wel ytaken kep to the wordes of Ovide, that seith,
1415 ‘Under the hony of the goodes of the body is hyd the venym that sleeth the soule.’
1416 And Salomon seith, ‘If thou hast founden hony, ete of it that suffiseth,
1417 for if thou ete of it out of mesure, thou shalt spewe’ and be nedy and povre.
1418 And peraventure Crist hath thee in despit, and
1418 A hath turned awey fro thee his face and his eeris of misericorde,
1419 and also he hath suffred that thou hast been punysshed in the manere that thow hast ytrespassed.
1420 Thou hast doon synne agayn oure Lord Crist,
1421 for certes, the three enemys of mankynde
1421 A — that is to seyn, the flessh, the feend, and the world —
1422 thou hast suffred hem entre in to thyn herte wilfully by the wyndowes of thy body,
1423 and hast nat defended thyself suffisantly agayns hire assautes and hire temptaciouns,
1423 A so that they han wounded thy soule in fyve places;
1424 this is to seyn, the deedly synnes that been entred into thyn herte by thy fyve wittes.
1425 And in the same manere oure Lord Crist hath woold and suffred
1425 A that thy three enemys been entred into thyn house by the wyndowes
1426 and han ywounded thy doghter in the forseyde manere.”
1427 “Certes,” quod ibee, “I se wel that ye enforce yow muchel by wordes to overcome me in swich manere
1427 A that I shal nat venge me of myne enemys,
1428 shewynge me the perils and the yveles that myghten falle of this vengeance.
1429 But whoso wolde considere in alle vengeances the perils and yveles that myghte sewe of vengeance-takynge,
1430 a man wolde nevere take vengeance, and that were harm;
1431 for by the vengeance-takynge been the wikked men dissevered fro the goode men,
1432 and they that han wyl to do wikkednesse restreyne hir wikked purpos,
1432 A whan they seen the punyssynge and chastisynge of the trespassours.”
1435 And yet seye I moore, that right as a singuler persone synneth in takynge vengeance of another man,
1436 right so synneth the juge if he do no vengeance of hem that it han disserved.
1437 For Senec seith thus: ‘That maister,’ he seith, ‘is good that proveth shrewes.’
1438 And as Cassidore seith, ‘ A man dredeth to do outrages whan he woot and knoweth
1438 A that it displeseth to the juges and the sovereyns.’
1439 And another seith, ‘The juge that dredeth to do right maketh men shrewes.’
1440 And Seint Paul the Apostle seith in his Epistle, whan he writeth unto the Romayns, that
1440 A ‘the juges beren nat the spere withouten cause,
1441 but they beren it to punysse the shrewes and mysdoers and for to defende the goode men.’
1442 If ye wol thanne take vengeance of youre enemys, ye shul retourne or have youre recours to the juge
1442 A that hath the jurisdiccion upon hem,
1443 and he shal punysse hem as the lawe axeth and requireth.”
1444 ” A,” quod ibee, “this vengeance liketh me no thyng.
1445 I bithenke me now and take heede how Fortune hath norissed me fro my childhede
1445 A and hath holpen me to passe many a stroong paas.
1446 Now wol I assayen hire, trowynge, with Goddes help, that she shal helpe me my shame for to venge.”
1447 “Certes,” quod Prudence, “if ye wol werke by my conseil, ye shul nat assaye Fortune by no wey,
1448 ne ye shul nat lene or bowe unto hire, after the word of Senec,
1449 for ‘thynges that been folily doon, and that been in hope of Fortune, shullen nevere come to good ende.’
1450 And, as the same Senec seith, ‘The moore cleer and the moore shynyng that Fortune is,
1450 A the moore brotil and the sonner broken she is.’
1451 Trusteth nat in hire, for she nys nat stidefast ne stable,
1452 for whan thow trowest to be moost seur or siker of hire help,
1452 A she wol faille thee and deceyve thee.
1453 And where as ye seyn that Fortune hath norissed yow fro youre childhede,
1454 I seye that in so muchel shul ye the lasse truste in hire and in hir wit.
1455 For Senec seith, ‘What man that is norissed by Fortune, she maketh hym a greet fool.’
1456 Now thanne, syn ye desire and axe vengeance, and the vengeance that is doon after the lawe
1456 A and bifore the juge ne liketh yow nat,
1457 and the vengeance that is doon in hope of Fortune is perilous and uncertein,
1458 thanne have ye noon oother remedie but for to have youre recours
1458 A unto the sovereyn Juge that vengeth alle vileynyes and wronges.
1459 And he shal venge yow after that hymself witnesseth, where as he seith,
1460 ‘Leveth the vengeance to me, and I shal do it.'”
1461 ibee answerde, “If I ne venge me nat of the vileynye that men han doon to me,
1462 I sompne or warne hem that han doon to me that vileynye,
1462 A and alle othere, to do me another vileynye.
1463 For it is writen, ‘If thou take no vengeance of an oold vileynye,
1463 A thou sompnest thyne adversaries to do thee a newe vileynye.’
1464 And also for my suffrance men wolden do me so muchel vileynye that
1464 A I myghte neither bere it ne susteene,
1465 and so sholde I been put and holden overlowe.
1466 For men seyn, ‘In muchel suffrynge shul manye thynges falle unto thee whiche thou shalt nat mowe suffre.'”
1467 “Certes,” quod Prudence, “I graunte yow that over-muchel suffraunce is nat good.
1468 But yet ne folweth it nat therof that every persone to whom men doon vileynye take of it vengeance,
1469 for that aperteneth and longeth al oonly to the juges, for they shul venge the vileynyes and injuries.
1470 And therfore tho two auctoritees that ye han seyd above been oonly understonden in the juges,
1471 for whan they suffren over-muchel the wronges and the vileynyes to be doon withouten punysshynge,
1472 they sompne nat a man al oonly for to do newe wronges, but they comanden it.
1473 Also a wys man seith that ‘the juge that correcteth nat the synnere comandeth and biddeth hym do synne.’
1474 And the juges and sovereyns myghten in hir land so muchel suffre of the shrewes and mysdoeres
1475 that they sholden, by swich suffrance, by proces of tyme wexen of swich power and myght
1475 A that they sholden putte out the juges and the sovereyns from hir places,
1476 and atte laste maken hem lesen hire lordshipes.
1477 “But lat us now putte that ye have leve to venge yow.
1478 I seye ye been nat of myght and power as now to venge yow,
1479 for if ye wole maken comparisoun unto the myght of youre adversaries, ye shul fynde in manye thynges that
1479 A I have shewed yow er this that hire condicion is bettre than youres.
1480 And therfore seye I that it is good as now that ye suffre and be pacient.
1481 “Forthermoore, ye knowen wel that after the comune sawe, ‘it is a woodnesse a man to stryve
1481 A with a strenger or a moore myghty man than he is hymself,
1482 and for to stryve with a man of evene strengthe — that is to seyn,
1482 A with as strong a man as he is — it is peril,
1483 and for to stryve with a weyker man, it is folie.’
1484 And therfore sholde a man flee stryvynge as muchel as he myghte.
1485 For Salomon seith, ‘It is a greet worshipe to a man to kepen hym fro noyse and stryf.’
1486 And if it so bifalle or happe that a man of gretter myght and strengthe
1486 A than thou art do thee grevaunce,
1487 studie and bisye thee rather to stille the same grevaunce than for to venge thee.
1488 For Senec seith that ‘he putteth hym in greet peril
1488 A that stryveth with a gretter man than he is hymself.’
1489 And Catoun seith, ‘If a man of hyer estaat or degree, or moore myghty than thou,
1489 A do thee anoy or grevaunce, suffre hym,
1490 for he that oones hath greved thee, may another tyme releeve thee and helpe.’
1491 Yet sette I caas ye have bothe myght and licence for to venge yow,
1492 I seye that ther be ful manye thynges that shul restreyne yow of vengeance-takynge
1493 and make yow for to enclyne to suffre, and for to han pacience
1493 A in the wronges that han been doon to yow.
1494 First and foreward, if ye wole considere the defautes that been in youre owene persone,
1495 for whiche defautes God hath suffred yow have this tribulacioun, as I have seyd yow heer-biforn.
1496 For the poete seith that ‘we oghte paciently taken the tribulacions
1496 A that comen to us, whan we thynken and consideren that we han disserved to have hem.’
1497 And Seint Gregorie seith that ‘whan a man considereth wel the nombre of his defautes and of his synnes,
1498 the peynes and the tribulaciouns that he suffreth semen the lesse unto hym;
1499 and in as muche as hym thynketh his synnes moore hevy and grevous,
1500 in so muche semeth his peyne the lighter and the esier unto hym.’
1501 Also ye owen to enclyne and bowe youre herte
1501 A to take the pacience of oure Lord Jhesu Crist, as seith Seint Peter in his Epistles.
1502 ‘Jhesu Crist,’ he seith, ‘hath suffred for us and yeven ensample to every man to folwe and sewe hym,
1503 for he dide nevere synne, ne nevere cam ther a vileyns word out of his mouth.
1504 Whan men cursed hym, he cursed hem noght, and whan men betten hym, he manaced hem noght.’
1505 Also the grete pacience which the seintes that been in Paradys han had in tribulaciouns
1505 A that they han ysuffred, withouten hir desert or gilt,
1506 oghte muchel stiren yow to pacience.
1507 Forthermoore ye sholde enforce yow to have pacience,
1508 considerynge that the tribulaciouns of this world but litel while endure and soone passed been and goon,
1509 and the joye that a man seketh to have by pacience in tribulaciouns is perdurable,
1509 A after that the Apostle seith in his epistle.
1510 ‘The joye of God,’ he seith, ‘is perdurable’ — that is to seyn, everelastynge.
1511 Also troweth and bileveth stedefastly that he nys nat wel ynorissed, ne wel ytaught,
1511 A that kan nat have pacience or wol nat receyve pacience.
1512 For Salomon seith that ‘the doctrine and the

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