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Title: The Example of Vertu

Author: Stephen Hawes

Release date: August 26, 2007 [eBook #22415]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Louise Hope, David Starner and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


The printed book did not number the pages in sequence; instead it numbered the recto (odd, right) pages of the first few leaves in each signature. Folio numbers in smaller print were added by the transcriber; all verso (even, left) pages are shown as ||. Two sets of pages were apparently printed out of sequence. Details are given at the end of the text, along with notes on a few other problems.

A few words such as “with” or “the” were printed as abbreviations: initial “y” (for þ, thorn) or “w” with small “t” or “e” above it. These are shown as ordinary superscripts: ye, wt. Typographical errors are shown with mouse-hover popups. Numerals such as “.x.” were printed without adjoining spaces; spacing has been silently added.

The table of contents was part of the original text.

aa .i.

¶ Here begynneth the boke called the example of vertu.

King of Love, see chapter x

aa .ii.

Tabula libri

¶ Fyrste a prologue.

¶ How youth mette with discrecyon in a medowe in his dreme & was reformed by her prouerbes ca.i.

¶ How youth with discrecyon sayled ouer the daungerous passage of vayne glorye and arryued in a fayre Ilonde longynge to foure ladyes named Hardynes / Sapyence / fortune / & nature. ca.ii

¶ Of the meruaylous palays of fortune ca.iii.

¶ Of the triumphaunt estate of hardynes. ca.iiii.

¶ Of the gloryfyed towre of sapyence. ca.v.

¶ Of the stronge operacyons of nature

¶ How these foure ladyes pleeded at the barre before Iustyce whiche of theym was moost proufytable vnto mankynde & of the Iugement of Iustyce. ca.vii.

¶ How after the Iugement of Iustyce / Sapyence cõmaunded DiscrecõnA to lede youth to marye with clennes the kynge of loues doughter. ca.viii.

¶ How youth by the waye mette wt lechery rydynge on a gote and pryde maned with couetyse on an olyphaũtes backe in a fayre castell / & how by the ayde of || dyscrecyon he dyde withstande theyr temptacõnA and how he mette with sapience in the mase of wordely besynes. capitulo.ix.

¶ How Sapyence & dyscrecyon ledde youth ouer the narowe brydge of vanyte of the worlde to the palays of ye kynge of loue & of his meruaylous appareyl. ca.x

¶ How sapyence presented youth to the kynge of loue for to mary Clennes his doughter & how he before ye maryage dyde fyght and discomfyte the dragon with thre hedys. capitulo.xi.

¶ How after the discomfyture of the sayd dragon he well growen in age was receyued with a farye company of ladyes and was named vertu & with all Ioye brought to the palays of the kynge of loue. ca.xii.

¶ Of the maryage of vertu & clennes & of ye celestyal feste how after the maryage an aungell shewed vnto theym hell / & of the dyuysyons of hell. ca.xiii.

¶ How vertu cleymed the enherytaunce longynge to Clennes his wyfe / & how many aungelles & sayntes brought theym to heuen / & how heuen is enteyled to Vertu and to Clennes & to all theym that loue them & folowe & procede in theyr steppes. capitulo.xiiii.

aa iii.

¶ This boke called the example of vertue was made and compyled by Stephyn hawys one of the gromes of the moost honorable chaumber of oure souerayne lorde kynge Henry the .vii. the .xix. yere of his moost noble reygne / and by hym presented to our sayd souerayne lorde chapytred & marked after this table here before sette.

The prologe.


Han I aduert in my remembraunce

The famous draughtes of poetes eloquent

Whiche theyr myndes dyd well enhaunce

Bokes to contryue that were expedyent

To be remembred without Impedyment

For the profyte of humanyte

This was the custume of antyquyte.

I now symple and moost rude

And naked in depured eloquence

For dulnes rethoryke doth exclude

Wherfore in makynge I lake intellygence

Also consyderynge my grete neglygence

It fereth me sore for to endyte

But at auenture I wyll now wryte.

As very blynde in the poetys art

For I therof can no thynge skyll

Wherfore I lay it all a part

But somwhat accordynge to my wyll

I wyll now wryte for to fulfyll


Saynt Powles wordes and true sentement

All that is wryten is to oure document

O prudent Gower in langage pure

Without corrupcyon moost facundyous

O noble Chauser euer moost sure

Of frutfull sentence ryght delycyous

O vertuous Lydgat moche sentencyous

Vnto you all I do me excuse

Though I your connynge do now vse

Explicit prologus.


aa .iiii.

Capitulum primũ

the ship, see cap. i-ii


N Septembre in fallynge of the lefe

Whan phebus made his declynacyon

And all the whete gadred was in the shefe

By radyaunt hete and operacyon

Whan the vyrgyn had full domynacyon

And Dyane entred was one degre

Into the sygne of Gemyne


Whan the golden sterres clere were splendent

In the firmament puryfyed clere as crystall

By imperyall course without incombrement

As Iuppyter and Mars that be celestyall

With Saturne and Mercury that wer supernall

Myxt with venus that was not retrograte

That caused me to be well fortunate

In a slombrynge slepe with slouth opprest

As I in my naked bedde was leyd

Thynkynge all nyght to take my rest

Morpleus to me than made abreyd

And in my dreme me thought he sayd

Come walke with me in a medowe amerous

Depeynted with floures that be delycyous

I walked with hym into a place

Where that there grue many a fayre floure

With Ioye replete and full of solace

And the trees dystyllynge redolent lycoure

More sweter fer than the Aprell shour

And tary I dyd there by longe space

Tyll that I saw before my face

A ryght fayre lady of myddell stature

And also enduyd with grete vertue

Her apparell was set with perlys pure

Whose beaute alway dyd renue

To me she sayd and ye wyll extue

All wyldnes I wyll be your guyde

That ye to fraylte shall not slyde.

aa .vi.

Vnto her I answerde o lady gloryous

I pray you tell me what is your name

For ye seeme to be ryght precyous

And I am yonge and sore to blame

Of vyces full and in vertue lame

But I wyll be ruled now by your pleasure

So that your order be made by mesure

Eclepyd I am she sayd dyscrecyon

And yf ye wyll be ruled by me

Ye shall haue Ioye without reprehencyon

And neuer fall in to fragylyte

Youth lackynge me it is grete pyte

For in what place I am exyled

They be with synne ryght oft defyled

It longeth euer vnto my properte

Youth to gyue courage for to lerne

I wyll not medle with no duplycyte

But faythfulnes I wyll dyscerne

And brynge thy soule to blesse eterne

By wyse example and morall doctryne

For youth hauynge to me is a good syne

Forsake also all euyll company

And be founde true in worde and dede

Remembre that this worlde is transytory

After thy desert shall be thy mede

Loue god alway and eke hym drede

And for no mannes pleasure be thyn owne foo

Gyue theym fayre wordes and lete theym goo

aa .v.

Be to thy kynge euer true subgete

As thou sholdest be by ryght and reason

Lete thy herte lowely on hym be sete

Without ony spot of euyll treason

And be obedyent at euery season

Vnto his grace without rebellyon

That thou with trouth may be companyon

Loue neuer vnloued for that is payne

Whyle that thou lyuest of that beware

Loue as thou seest the loued agayne

Or elles it wyll torne the to care

Be neuer taken in that fast snare

Proue or thou loue that is moost sure

And than thou in doubte shalt not endure.

Beware byleue no flaterynge tonge

For flaterers be moost disseyuable

Though that they company with the longe

Yet at the ende they wyll be varyable

For they by reason are not fauorable

But euermore fals and double

And with theyr tonges cause of grete trouble

This brytell worlde ay full of bytternes

Alway turnynge lyke to a ball

No man in it can haue no sykernes

For whan he clymmeth he hath a fall

O wauerynge shadowe bytter as gall

O fatall welth full soone at ende

Though thou ryght hy do oft assende


Whan she to me had made relacyon

Of all these prouerbes by good conclusyon

She gaue to me an Informacyon

For to depryue all yll abusyon

And to consydre the grete derysyon

Whiche is in youth that may not se

No thynge appropred to his prosperyte

Forth than we went to an hauen syde

Wher was a shyp lyenge at rode

Taryenge after the wynde and tyde

And with moche spyces ryght well lode

Vpon it lokynge we longe abode

Tyll eolus with blastes began to rore

Than we her aborded with payne ryght sore

This water eclyped was vayneglory

Euer with yeopardy and tempestyous

And the shyp called was ryght truly

The vessell of the passage daungerous

The wawys were hyghe and gretly troublous

The captayn called was good comfort

And the sterysman fayre pasport

¶ Capitulum .ii.


Onge were we dryuen with wynde & weder

Tyll we arryued in a fayre Ilonde

Wher was a boote tyed with a teeder

Of merueylous wood as I vnderstonde

Precyous stones ley vpon the sond

And poynted dyamondes grewe on the rockes

And corall also by ryght hyghe stockes


Amased I was for to beholde

The precyous stones vnder my fete

And the erth glysterynge of golde

With floures fayre of odour swete

Dame dyscrecyon I dyd than grete

Praynge her to me to make relacyon

Who of this Ilonde hath domynacyon

She sayd foure ladyes in vertue excellent

Of whiche the eldest is dame nature

That dayly fourmeth after her entent

Euery beest and lyuynge creature

Both foule and fayre and also pure

All that dependynge in her ordynaunce

Where that she fauoureth there is grete pleasaunce

The seconde is called dame fortune

Ayenst whome can be no resystence

For she doth sette the strynges in tune

Of euery persone by her magnyfycence

Whan they sound best by good experyence

She wyll theym loose and let theym slyp

Causynge theym fall by her turnynge tryp

The thyrde called is dame hardynes

That often rulyth by her cheualry

She is ryght stowt and of grete prowes

And the captayn of a lusty company

And ruleth theym euer full hardely

And to gete honour and worldely tresure

She putteth her oft in auenture

aa .vii.

¶ The fourth is wysedome a lady bryght

Whiche is my syster as ye shall se

Whom I do loue with all my myght

For she enclyneth euer to benygnyte

And medeleth not with fraude nor subtylyte

But maketh many noble clerkes

And ruleth theym in all theyr werkes

¶ They dwell all in a fayre castell

Besyde a ryuer moche depe and clere

And be expert in feytys manuell

That vnto theym can be no peere

Of erthely persone that lyueth here

For they be so fayre and wounderous

That theym to se it is solacyous.

¶ Longe haue they trauerst gretly in the lawe

Whiche of theym sholde haue the preemynence

And none of them theyr case wyll withdrawe

Tyll of dame Iustyce they knowe the sentence

They argue often and make defence

Eche vnto other withouten remedy

I wyll no lenger of them specefy


Capitulum tercium.

Dame Hardiness


Ome on fayre youth and go with me

Vnto that place that is delectable

Bylded with towres of curyosyte

And yet though that ye be lamentable

Whan thou art there you wylt be confortable

To se the merueyles that there be wrought

No man can prynt it in his thought

aa .viii.

A path we founde ryght gretely vsed

Where in we went tyll at the last

A castell I sawe wherof I mused

Not fully from me a stones cast

To se the towres I was agast

Set in a valey so strongely fortefyed

So gentyll compassed and well edefyed

The towres were hyghe of adamond stones

With fanes wauerynge in the wynde

Of ryght fyne golde made for the noonys

And roobuckes ran vnder the lynde

And hunters came theym fer behynde

A Ioye it was suche sawe I neuer

Abyde quod she ye shall se a better.

Forth she me ledde to the castell warde

Where we were let in by humylyte

And so after she lede me forwarde

Tyll that I sawe a royall tre

With buddys blossomed of grete beaute

And than we wente in to the hall

That glased was truely with crystall

And hanged was with clothes of Aras

Made of fyne golde with a noble story

How that there some tyme reynynge was

In the regyon of hyghe Italy

A valyaunt emperour and a myghty

That had to name forsothe Tyberius

Whiche dyde enquere of prudent Iosethus


¶ Why he his offycers so longe kepte

Vnto hym he answered a good cause why

Somtyme I sawe a man that slepte

That wounded was full pyteously

And on his woundes suckynge many a fly

I than for pyte moued theym away

By whiche he woke and to me dyde say

¶ Wher that thou trowed to me comfort

Thou now hast done me double greuaunce

Puttynge away the flyes that dyde resorte

To me beynge full of blody sustynaunce

By this thou mayst haue good perseueraunce

That now wyll come the flyes moost hungry

That wyll me byte .x. tymes more greuously

¶ The roof was wrought by merueylous gemetry

Colered with asure gold and gowlys

With knottes coruen full ryght craftely

And set also with wanton fowlys

As popyniays / pyes / Iays / and owlys

And as I loked on my ryght syde

A lady I sawe of meruellous pryde

¶ Syttynge in a chayer at the vpper ende

Of all the hall as a lady and prynces

Amonge many kynges that dyde entende

To be obedyent to her hyghe noblenes

Her apparell was made of moche fayre ryches

Set with rubyes moost pure and rubicound

Embrawded with perles and many a dyamound

bb .i.

Besydes her sate the worthyes nyne

And she amonge theym a whele turnynge

Full lowe to her they dyd than enclyne

She somtyme laughynge and somtyme lowrynge

Her condycyon was to be dyssymelynge

And many exalten vpon her whele

Gyuynge theym grete falles that they dyd fele

Than sayd dyscrecyon beholde and see

That in dame fortune is no stablenes

This worlde also is but a vanyte

A dreme a pompe nothynge in stedfastnes

For fortune is fals and full of doblenes

Whan she moost flatereth she is not sure

As thou mayst se dayly in vre


Capitulum .iiii.

Dame Hardiness with banner


Orth than we went vnto the habytacle

Of dame hardynes moost pure and fayre

Aboue all places a ryght fayre spectacle

Strowyd with floures that gaue good eyer

Of vertuous turkeys there was a cheyr

Wherin she sate in her cote armure

Berynge a shelde the felde of asure

Wherin was sette a rampynge lyon

Of fyne golde ryght large and grete

A swerd she had of merueylous fassyon

bb .ii.

As though a thousand she sholde bete

No man the vyctory of her myght gete

A noble vyrgyn there dyde her serue

That fyrst made harnes called Mynerue

The chaumbre where she held her consystory

The dewe aromatyke dyde oft degoute

Of fragraunt floures full of delycasy

That all yll heyres dyde ensence oute

A carbuncle there was that all aboute

Enlumyned the chaumbre both day and nyght

My thought it was an heuenly syght

Nyne quenes I sawe that satte her by

Beynge all armed of grete fortytude

In many a stower they wanne the vyctory

And were endued with facounde pulcrytude

For to haunte armes was theyr consuetude

Many a regyon they often wanne

And also vaynquysshed many a noble man

Nexte vnto her sate the hyghe quene AziaB

That was a conqueres so puyssaunt

And besyde her the quene of Saba

Whiche in grete ryches was tryumphaunt

And also Ipolyte in armes valyaunt

Sate with her besyde quene Hecuba

And yet also the quene Europa

Present ther was the wiche quene Iuno

And quene Pantasyll wyth fayre quene Elyn

And yet I sawe by her than also

The noble vyrgyn yonge Polyxyn


That was destroyed at the last ruyn

Of Troye the grete by cruell Pyrrus

The sone of Achylles that was so cheualrus

As I dyd loke I had commaundement

Of dame dyscrecyon for to remembre

These noble ladyes so pure and excellent

Hardy in corage of age ryght tendre

Yet not withstandynge deth dyde surrendre

And all theyr strength and lusty corage

For he spareth nother youth ne age

Capitulum .v.

Dame Prudence

b .iii.


Orth we walked to the dwellynge place

Of dame sapyence so full of blys

Replete with Ioye vertu and grace

No thynge there lacked that possyble is

Man for to comfort withouten mys

Though he were derke in wordely foly

He sholde there b enlumyned shortely

Her towre was made of werkes curyous

I can no thynge extende the goodlynes

Of her palays so good and gloryous

Bylded in the place soth of fastnes

With owten tast of wordely bytternes

No persone can extoll the souerente

Of her worthy and royall dygnyte

She eche estate sholde haue in gouernaunce

As theym to rule or that they repent

For better it is to haue good puruyaunce

At the begynnynge as is expedyent

Than for to wyssh for thynges myspent

That myght be saued longe afore

And with a for wytte kepte in store

Her chaumbre was glased with byrall clarefyed

Depeynted with colours of delectacyon

A place of pleasure so heuenly gloryfyed

In vertue heale lyfe and saluacyon

Without ony stormy trybulacyon

That myght anoy the heuenly helth

But alway comfort to the sowlys welth


There sate dame prudence in vertue magnyfyed

Impossyble it is to shewe her goodelyhed

She was so fayre and clerely puryfyed

And so dyscrete and full of womanhede

That and I trowe vertue were deed

It sholde reuyue yet in her agayne

She was so gentyll and without dysdeyn

It was grete comfort vnto my hert

For to beholde that heuenly syght

Dyscrecyon sayd I sholde not depert

Tyll I had spoken with her syster bryght

Forth she me ledde with all her myght

Vnto that prynces and royall souerayn

Ergo my labour was not in vayn

Than spake dame prudence with meke contenaũce

Welcome dyscrecyon my syster dere

Where haue ye ben by longe contynuaunce

Wyth youth she sayd that ye se here

And for my sake I you requere

Hym to receyue in to your seruyse

And he shall serue you in goodely wyse

Welcome she sayd for my systers sake

And yet also now for your owne

In to my seruyce I wyll you take

Sythens that your wyldnes is ouerblowen

The sede of vertu on you shall be sowen

Vyce to depryue by his good auctoryte

As for to subdue all yll iniquyte

b .iiii.

Of other mennes wordes be thou not bolde

And of theyr promys make no behest

And yf thou here an yll tale tolde

Gyue no iugement but say the best

So shall thou lyue euermore in rest

Who lytell medeleth is best at ease

For well were he that all myght please

Beware kepe the from grete offence

That thou condempned be not by ryghtwysnes

Whan she doth gyue her mortall sentence

Without pease or mercy cause her reles

Her iugement of mortall heuynes

That the best frende to the wyll be

The for to socour in grete necessyte

But yet in theym haue none affyaunce

As fyrst to synne thynkynge that they

At the ende to the wyll be delyueraunce

Nay ryghtwysnes wyll dryue theym away

For of all synnes without delay

Suche synne in hope it is the moost

For it is the synne of the holy ghoost

Now I amytte you into your rome

In the whiche ye shall your selfe apply

Of myn owne chaumbre ye shall be grome

Loke ye be dylygent and do not vary

From my cõmaundementes neuer specyally

For and ye wyll theym well obserue

A moche better rome ye do deserue


The fyrst cõmaundement that I gyue the

Thynke on the ende or thou begynne

For thou by ryght may knowe the certente

That deth is fyne of euery synne

Be neuer taken in dyabolycall engyne

But that repentaunce may loose the sone

Of that grete synne that thou hast done

Trust not to moche in fortunes grace

Though that she laugh on the a whyle

For she can sodenly turne her face

Whan that she lyst the to begyle

She welth and Ioye can sone defyle

And plonge the in the pyte of pouerte

Wherfore in her haue thou no suertye

Presume no ferther than the behoueth

For it wyll turne the to grete shame

For who that from his rome remoueth

He is often full gretely to blame

And medeleth with other in theym lame

As no thynge connynge nor expert

They may hym say syr malapert

Or that thou speke call to remembraunce

Vnto what mater thy worde shall sygnyfye

Loke that it torne no man to greuaunce

Though that it be spoken merely

Yet many a one wyll take it greuously

Whiche that myght cause wroth and debate

Whyle that thou lyues beware of that

cc .i.

For a thynge lost without recouer

Loke that thou neuer be to pensyfe

Thanke god of it thynke to haue an other

Lete wysedome than be to the comfortyfe

That to thy brayn is best preseruatyfe

For euermore ryght wyse is he

That can be pacyent in aduersyte

Proue thy frende in a mater fayned

Or thou haue nede than shalt thou se

Whyther he be iustly with the reteyned

The for to socour in thy necessyte

By profe thou mayst knowe the veryte

For profe afore that nede requere

Defeteth dowte euer in fere

Be thou neuer so blynde in wylle

Yet loke thou be refourmed by reason

Than shalt thou my mynde fulfyll

And thou therto thy selfe abandon

Stryue not with reason for none encheson

For wher she lacketh ther is grete outrage

And without her may not aswage

Eschew also the synne of pryde

The moder and the feruent rote

Of all the synnes at euery tyde

Wherfore trede thou her vnder fote

With helpe of vertue so swete and sote

Whiche is best salue to hele thy sore

And to thy helth the to restore


Wo worth synne without repentaunce

Wo worth bondage without reles

Wo worth man without good gouernaunce

Wo worth infynall payne and dystresse

Wo worth vyce put fer in presse

Wo worth soueraynte hauynge dysdeyn

And wo worth pyte that doth refrayn

Wo worth ryght that may not be herd

Wo worth frendshyp without stabylyte

Wo worth true sentence that is deferd

Wo worth the man full of duplycyte

Wo worth hym without benygnyte

Wo worth lybertye withouten pease

And wo worth crueltye that may not cease

Wo worth connynge that is abused

Wo worth promys withouten payment

Wo worth vertue that is refused

Wo worth trouble without extynguysment

Wo worth foly on message sent

Wo worth reason that is exyled

And wo worth trouth that is defyled

Wo worth the trust without assuraunce

Wo worth grace not sette by

Wo worth Iustyce kepte in dystaunce

Wo worth welth replete with enuy

Wo worth the batayll without vyctory

Wo worth begynnynge without good ende

And wo worth wronge that doth defende

cc .ii.

These commaundementes I put in memory

Theym for to kepe doynge my dylygence

With dame Sapyence I dyd longe tary

Whiche dyd me teche with partynge influence

Of her delycate and doulcete complacence

Than spake dyscrecyon anone to me

In the presens of her systers mageste

Thou art beholdynge to my syster reuerent

That the reteyned hath vnto her seruaunt

Wherfore be thou to her obedyent

And at euery houre to her attendaunt

And ryotous company do thou not haunt

For that wyll payre and yll thy name

Wherfore of vertuous myrth let be thy game


Dame Nature


Iscrecyon ferther forth me lede

Vnto the solempne and royall mancyon

Of dame nature in humayne stede

Ryght pleasaunt was her habytacyon

Of merueylous werke and sytuacyon

And she her selfe helde her estate

In a gloryous chaumbre without chekmate

cc .iii.

Her towre was gylted full of sonne bemys

And within hanged with cloth of aras

The roof was paynted with golden stremys

And lyke crystall depured was

Euery wyndowe aboute of glas

Where that she sat as a fayre goddes

All thynges creatynge by her besynes

Me thought she was of merueylous beaute

Tyll that Dyscrecyon lede me behynde

Where that I sawe all the pryuyte

Of her werke and humayne kynde

And at her backe I dyd than fynde

Of cruell deth a dolfull ymage

That all her beaute dyd perswage

Full wonderous was her operacyon

In euery kynde eke and ryght degre

Withouten rest or recreacyon

I wyll not medle with her secrete

For it no thynge longeth to my faculte

But somwhat after I wyll expres

Of her grete power and worthynes

But in my boke well for to procede

Dame dyscrecyon ferther me brought

Into a fayre chambre as ye may rede

Of fyne gemetry ryght well wrought

To comfort man there lacked nought

But that me thought there was no company

Saue onely dame dyscrecyon and I


We had ben but a lytell whyle there

But that we sawe a lady clere

Ryght well appareled in sad gere

Mylde in her hauour dyscrete of chere

That came vs by and very nere

Ascendynge vp in to her hyghe sete

Garnysshed with perle and with gold bete

Than sayd dyscrecyon this is dame Iustyce

Clene of conscyence without corrupcyon

And neuer be spotted with the synne of couetyse

But true as stele in the entencyon

Of ryght euermore without destruccyon

Geuynge alway a ryghtfull iugement

Obey thou youth this lady reuerent

A iuge fulfylled with the synne of auaryce

Or with fauour of kynne made blynd

Must nedys do wronge by grete preiudyce

For fauour shold not conscyence bynd

Ryght to dyssymyll as I now fynd

In problemys wryten of antiquyte

Made by phylosophers of auctoryte

As we stode talkynge thus to gydere

Vp came dame fortune so gayly gloryfyed

Impossyble it is for me to dyscouere

How gorges she was & gretly magnyfyed

Full lyke a goddes that had ben deyfyd

Clothed with gold sette full of rubyes

And tynst wt emeraudys & many a turkes

cc .iiii.

And next to her there dyd ensue

Dame Hardynes that noble lady

After whome anone dyd pursue

Dame Sapyence whiche dyd not tary

Than came dame nature appareled royally

And all the other cladde in gold

Set with dyamondes many a fold

They lowted all vnto the ground

Afore dame Iustyce for obeysaunce

That sate there both hole and sound

Withouten ony dyscontynuaunce

Gyuynge god ere vnto the vteraunce

Of these foure ladyes pledynge at barre

With all theyr cases dyd well avarre



pleas before Dame Justice


Yrst dame hardynes began to plede

Saynge she was to man moost profytable

For she the hertes hath often fede

Of conquerous as it was couenable

And by my corage haue made theym able

Regyons to wynne theyr ennemyes to subdue

And yf I were not they had it rue

c .v.

And yf a man be neuer so wyse

Withouten me he getyth none vteraunce

Wherfore his wysedome may not suffyse

All onely without myn allegeaunce

For I by ryght must nedys enhaunce

A lowe born man to an hyghe degre

Yf that he wyll be ruled by me

Haue I not caused many a noble warreour

To wynne the batell by my grete myght

Without me was made neuer conquerour

Nor yet man coragious whan he dyd fyght

No man without me may defende his ryght

I may be worst from hym forborne

For and I were not he were forlorne

Dyd I not cause the noble hercules

By my power to wynne the vyctory

Of the sturdy and stronge Philotes

As is recorded in bokes of memory

For without me can be no cheualry

And vnder the wynge of my proteccyon

All rebels brought be to subieccyon

A realme is vpholden by thynges thre

The fyrst and the chyef it is the swerd

Whiche causeth it to be in good suerte

And other realmes of it to be aferd

By whiche the vsurpers be dyfferd

From theyr wyll with treason knyte

And by me slayn for theyr fals fyte


The seconde is lawe that euer serueth

But within the realme onely

For other nacyons our lawe ne dredeth

But our swerd they do in specyally

For and they roose ayenst vs proudly

As they haue done often in tymes past

Yet wt our swerd they shold be ouercast

The thyrde be marchauntes that do multyply

In this realme welth and prosperyte

For of euery thynge they often occupy

Euery man lyke vnto his faculte

For without marchauntes can not be

No realme vpholden in welth & pleasure

For it to vs is a specyall tresure

Also yet hercules the puyssaunt geaunt

Dyd slee the monstre afore Troy the grete

And with his strokes he dyd hym daunt

They were so peysantly on hym sette

That he the vyctory on hym dyd gette

Had I not be comfort vnto his harte

Suche vyctory had ben leyd aparte

Dyd he not vaynquysshe in ye forest of Nemee

The thre mortall lyons by his grete hardynes

And ryued theyr Iawes as was to se

By twene his handes by chyualrus prowes

And yet by armes and knyghtly exces

In egypt he slewe the tyraunt Busyre

And brent hym after in a grete fyre

cc .vi.

Also he slewe the tyraunt Cacus

For his tyranny and grete myschefe

By cause his dedys were so odyous

For he dyd murdre and was a thefe

Wherfore his deth to many was leef

Who more of his actes wyll haue report

To the Troyans story lette hym resort

Also the worthy and the noble hectour

That eclyped was the troyans champyon

And of all cheualry called the flour

In his tyme reynynge and of renowne

Of whose noble dedes the brute and sowne

Was spred by euery straunge habytacyon

That they of his faytys dyde make relacyon

By his power and hardy corage

He put the grekes full often to flyght

And bete theym downe by a grete outrage

That well was he that hym saue myght

Full often he brought theym to the plyght

His dedes were pure without magycyon

And without nygromancy or suche corrupcyon

Dyd I not cause also kynge dauith

A lyon Iawbones to rent and tere

That dyd deuour his shepe in the fryth

As he sat kepynge of theym there

The lyons crueltye myght not hym fere

And he in his youth so hardy was

That he dyd sle the gyaunt Golias


Dyd I not cause the noble Iulius

Emperour of rome for to be electe

By cause he was so stronge and cheualrus

Whan in armes he knewe the affecte

He all his ennemyes dyd abiecte

And by the support of my chyef socour

He gouerned hymselfe lyke a noble emperour

And also Arthur kynge of Bretayne

With all the knyghtes of the rounde table

Neuer auentures had sought certayne

And I therto had not ben greable

They for to fyght had not ben able

Who that me lacketh is but a coward

And shame is euer his rewarde

Also kynge Charlemayne kynge of Fraunce

With his dyssypers Rowland and Olyuer

With all the resydue of his alyaunce

That in all armes so noble were

On goddys ennemyes brake many a spere

Causynge them to flee to theyr grete vylony

Hardynes was cause that they had vyctory

O worthy hardynes the shynynge sterre

Alway to mannys herte the comfort

Whan that it is the tyme of werre

Vnto what partye that thou resort

They wynne the batall by thy support

And wher that thou lettest thy bemys dyssende

They often hye to honoure assende

cc .vii.

Than sayd dame hardynes vnto the Iuge

I pray you that ryght I may haue

Sythens I to man am chyef refuge

Whan that he lysteth of me to craue

I make hym coragyous and his worshyp saue

Wherfore I owte to haue the preemynence

By ryght reason and good experyence

That I deny you sayd dame Sapyence

Of whom haue you your ordre of pledynge

For ye neuer can haue none intellygence

But by the meane of myn informynge

For I am alway your mynde techynge

And without me your tale were but a fable

For ye without wytte sholde alway bable

This wyll I proue by myn opynyon

That I am grounde of the artes seuen

And of all good werkes in cõmunyon

For no man without me can go to heuen

My dedys be merueylous for man to neuen

Whan they beu wrought in to theyr degre

Who that wyll lerne theym he hath the lyberte

Of my dedes bokes do make recorde

The whiche clerkes put into remembraunce

For an example without dyscorde

Of heuenly way by vertuous gouernaunce

Without me man can haue no pleasaunce

Nor yet hym rule in no maner wyse

A man without wytte is to dyspyse


Hardynes without prudence may not auayle

Though that a man be neuer so sturdy

For a wyseman feble may wynne the batayle

Of hym that is ryght stronge and myghty

For better it is for to be ryght wytty

In the defence of his good saue garde

Than often to stryke and to renne forwarde

That thynge that hardynes may not wynne

May be goten by my hyghe souerente

And with the helpe of subtyle engynne

It may be brought to the extremyte

Wher that it myght not by possybylyte

Of hardynes longe afore be wonne

Yet by grete wysedome it may be donne

Vnto dyuers cases I take excepcyon

Of dame Hardynes whiche are no lawe

Vnto the fyrst vndre your correccyon

She sayd and she her power dyd wythdrawe

No rebell than shold stand in awe

And she is the chyef as I knowe well

That causeth hym for to be rebell

By her foly and folysshe hardynes

She causeth men to ryse ayenst theyr lorde

She is the cause of mortall heuynes

Whan she doth breke the good concorde

Wherfore me thynke by one accorde

For to exyle her it is now the best

Than man sholde lyue in peas and rest

cc .viii.

And where she sayd that she exalted

Iulius cesar by her grete exylence

In that case she ryght clerely varyed

For it was I by my grete dylygence

That neuer was out of his presence

But ruled hym and made hym worthy

To be chosen emperour of all Italy

Chosen he was by the comyn assent

For the grete wysedome that in hym shone

With a grete voyce and a hole entente

For lyke vnto hym was there none

That was so abell as he alone

For to occupye an Emperours dygnyte

Of his promocyon he myght thanke me

I Sapyence am endewed with grace

And the lode sterre of heuenly doctryne

The sprynge of comfort Ioye and solace

Who that lyst to me for to enclyne

He shall knowe thynges that be dyuyne

And at his ende beholde the deyte

That is one god and persones thre

It pleased the fader that is omnipotent

His sone to send to be incarnat

Of the vyrgyn Mary the sterre moost excellent

Mayden and moder yet not vyolate

Lyke a vessell chosen and made ornat

All onely for to be goddys moder

And he hym selfe vnto man broder


But a stryfe there was bytwene god and man

Whan man consented to synne dedely

By that the dyscorde fyrst began

Whan he the sone of god on hy

That is his brother agayn wyll crucefy

Yf he had power by whiche is offended

The fader of heuen as is entended

Therfore lete vs to our brother go

Named Ihesu Cryst and axe hym mercy

With a good entent and hert also

There is for vs none other remedy

That ony tonge truely can specyfy

And he wyll take it for a correccyon

And of all vengeaunce sease the affeccyon

That we may of hym haue forgyuenes

Of our grete synne with reformacyon

Of peas bytwene the faders hyghenes

Of heuen and vs in suspyracyon

Therfore yf thou drede the amocyon

Of his ryghtwysnes loke that thou flee

Ryght fast vnto his mercyfull pyte

For his mercy is more than all our mysery

And eke aboue his werkes all

As Dauyd sheweth in his prophecy

Saynge his mercy is ouer all

To whom I pray euer in especyall

To gyue me grace well my penne to lede

That quaketh aye for drede

dd .i.

Dame Sapyence sayd I do procede

Of the strength of the holy ghoost

That is and shall be mater in dede

God and lorde of myghtys moost

Whose infynall power was neuer lost

And yet neuer had no begynnynge

But alway lyke stronge without endynge

Where that dame hardynes in her pledynge

Made her selfe to knyghtes moost necessary

By the meanes of her power shewynge

That I by ryght do now well deny

For in that case she dyd moche vary

For syxe there are that more profyte be

Of whiche the lest is better than she

The fyrst is prudence that is the chefe

That hym doth rule and is his gyde

And kepeth hym from grete reprefe

And causeth his worshyp for to abyde

So euery crysten man shold prouyde

By his wit to withstand the deuyll

That he consent not to do euyll

The seconde is that he sholde be true

To his souerayn lorde that on hym reyneth

And all treason for euer to eschewe

In whiche grete shame often remayneth

And by whiche he hizB kỹge dysteyneth

So a crysten man sholde be true euer

To Ihesu Cryst that was his redemer


The thyrde is that he sholde be lyberall

Amonge his cõmons withouten lette

That is the cause euer in generall

That he the loue of theym doth gette

For it causeth theyr hertes on hym be sette

So euery true crysten man sholde be

To god intended with lyberalyte

The fourth is that he sholde be stronge

His ryght euer for to defende

And neuer to no man for to do wronge

But wronges for to dyrecte and amende

As ferre as his power wyll extende

So a true crysten man sholde exclude

All maner of vyces by his fortytude

The fyfth is yt he sholde be mercyable

In all his dedes withouten furoure

For that to hym is gretly conuenable

And eke to kepe hym out of erroure

For he of mercy sholde be a myrroure

So vnto them it is ryght necessary

Who that wyll be saued for to haue mercy

The syxte is a knyght ought for to kepe

The poore folke in theyr grete nede

That often for hungre and thyrst do wepe

He ought with almes theym for to fede

And the better he shall than spede

So euery true crysten man sholde do

As ferre as his power cometh vnto

dd .ii.

I Sapyence am of the kynges counsayll

Whiche is clothed with purple that sygnyfyeth

The grace and the pulcrytude without fayll

Of grete vertues that in hym shyneth

For to no vyces he neuer enclyneth

Hauynge in his hede a fayre crowne royall

That sheweth his dygnyte to be regall

Whiche to his people is the chefe glory

Thrugh whome his subgectes be dyrecte

And made obedyent to hym certaynly

At euery houre by ryght true effecte

But forthermore by good aspecte

He bereth a ball in his lefte hande

The whiche betokeneth as I vnderstande

A kynge to be a good admynystratour

Vnto his subgectes in euery place

And to be for theym a good prouysour

As reason requyreth in euery case

I Sapyence do rule his noble grace

In his ryght hand he hath a septure

That doth sygnyfye by ryght his rygoure

Yll men to punysshe for theyr offence

By his ryghtwysnes whome the loue

Of vertue shynynge in experyence

Doth not extoll nor yet now remoue

A lampe doth hange his heed aboue

Alway lyght and clerely brennynge

Whiche sygnyfyeth the mercy of a kynge


The olde philosophers by theyr prudence

Fonde the seuen scyences lyberall

And by theyr exercyse & grete dylygence

They made theyr dedes to be memoryall

And also poetes that were fatall

Craftely colored with clowdy fygures

The true sentence of all theyr scryptures

O Iustyce lady and souerayne goddesse

Gyue you true sentence now vpon me

As ye be surmountynge in vertue & noblesse

Lete me dame Sapyence haue the soueraynte

As is accordynge to my royall dygnyte

For I am moost profytable vnto man

And euer had ben syns the world began

Than sayd dame Fortune ye are imperfyte

Without that I therto be accordaunt

For all your hardynes & prudence perfyte

I vnto you must be well exuberaunt

And with your werkes euer concordaunt

Where that I fauer they haue good cõfort

In all theyr dedes by my swete resort

I Fortune am the rule and steere

Of euery persone lyke to my wyll

That in this worlde now lyueth here

Whan that I lyst for to fulfyll

My mynde ryght sone I can dystyll

The dewe of comfort welth and rychesse

To man exaltynge hym to noblenesse

dd .iii.

Though that a man were neuer so hardy

Without me he myght not attayne

And though that a man were neuer so wytty

And I dyd my power from hym refrayne

All his labour were lost in vayne

So hardynesse and prudence in no wyse

Without good fortune may well suffyse

Though that a man were but a fole

Yf I consent that he be fortunate

He nedyth not to make no grete dole

For I shall mayntene so his estate

That he in rychesse shall be so eleuate

Fulfylled with welth & worldely tresure

That he shall lacke no maner of pleasure

Where that dame hardynes wold afferme

By her cases that are so vnsure

That she by her power doth conferme

The knyghtes of vyctory for to be sure

Whan she doth take theyr hertes in cure

Yf fortune be awaye she may not auayle

For they by reason must lose the batayle

Yet forthermore as I do well consyder

How dame hardynes dyd expresse

Sythens the tyme that I came hyder

That she promoted had to worthynes

Hector dauid and the noble hercules

With many other wherof she fayleth

For it was fortune as she well knoweth


For in olde tyme the noble warryours

For to eschewe euer my grete daungere

In whiche tyme they were ydolestours

Than they to put hym oute of fere

To ydols went that theyr goddes were

For to haue answer yf they sholde wynne

The batayll or they dyd begynne

What nede I pleed by longe contynuaunce

As dame Sapyence dyd in maters hy

It were of tyme but dyscontynuaunce

But o dame Iustyce the gentyll lady

Loke that ye Iuge my mater ryght wysely

That I of hardynes may be the pryncypall

And of dame prudence & nature with all

Than sayd dame nature that may not be

As I can proue by ryght and reason

For I am moost confort to humanyte

As man well knoweth at euery encheason

And can not be forborne for none season

For where I lacke without ony delay

Man is but dede and turned to clay

That nature gyueth by her power

Wysedome nor hardynes may not defete

For I to man am the chefe doer

Durynge his lyfe without retrete

Also dame fortune may not well lete

Me of my course though she it thought

In sondery wyse my dedes are so wrought

dd .iiii.

Though that a man were infortunable

And though that he were neuer so folysshe

And a grete coward to fyght not able

Yet shulde he lyue and neuer perysshe

Tyll that my power of hym doth fynysshe

Whiche fayle must ones it is my proprete

And that was gyuen me by the deyte

I am the orygynall of mannes creacyon

And by me alway the world doth multyply

In welth pleasure and delectacyon

As I wyll shewe now in this party

My dedes be subtyll & wrought craftely

What were the worlde yf I were note

It were sone done as I well wote

The lawe of nature doth man bynde

Both beste foule and fysshe also

In theyr degre to do theyr kynde

Blame theym not yf they do so

For harde it is euer to ouer go

The kynde of nature in her degre

For euery thynge must shewe his proprete

Who of theyr propretes lyst to rede

Lete hym loke in the boke of barthelmewe

And to his scripture take good hede

That ryght nobly of theym do shewe

With all theyr actes beynge not a fewe

But wounderous many by alteracyon

For lyke hath lyke his operacyon


I nature norysshe by myn afflyccyon

Mannes humayne partyes superfyxcyall

And am the sprynge of his complexion

The fonteyne of his vaynes inferyall

To hym conserue moost dere and specyall

Though he were hardy & wyse he myȝtB not me forbere

Nor fortune without me auayleth not hym a pere

Wherfore dame Iustyce be you now indyfferent

Consydre that I am moost dere and lefe

Vnto euery man that is eliquylent

And aboue all medycyns to hym moost chefe

And by my strongh vnto hym relefe

In his dysease wherfore as thynke me

I ought of reason to haue the soueraynte

Than spake dame Iustyce with meke contenaũce

I wyll all your contrauersy now redresse

For I of your reasons haue good perseueraunce

And after your cases both more and lesse

Wherfore I Iustyce by good ryghtwysnesse

Gyue now vpon you a fynall Iugement

That ye foure agree by a hole assent

Man for to please at euery houre

Without dysgrement or contradiccyon

And in his nede to do hym socoure

With louynge herte and true affeccyon

He shall be in your good iurysdyccyon

And you of hym shall be copertyners

Both of his lyfe and of his maners

ee .i.

Than sayd dame hardynes I agre therto

And so do I than sayd dame Sapyence

Than sayd dame Fortune I also do

Agre vnto dame Iustyce sentence

And I dame Nature wyll do my dylygence

Lyke as ye do man for to please

And hym to strength in his dysease

With that dame Iustyce vp arose

Vnto the ladyes byddynge fare well

And went into her chaumbre close

I cleped conscyence wher she dyd dwell

As dame Dyscrecyon dyd me tell

Than hardynes & fortune went downe the stayre

And after theym Nature so clere and fayre

Capitulum .viii.


Ame Sapyence taryed a lytell whyle

Behynd the other saynge to Dyscrecyon

And began on her to laugh and smyle

Axynge her how I stode in condycyon

Well she sayd in good perfeccyon

But best it is that he maryed be

For to eschewe all yll censualyte

I knowe a lady of meruelous beaute

Spronge out of hyghe and noble lynage

Replete with vertue and full of bounte

Whiche vnto youth were a good maryage

For she is comen of royall apparage

But herde it wyll be to gete her loue

Without youth frayltye do sore reproue


I kneled downe than vpon my kne

Afore dame Sapyence with humble chere

Besechynge her of me to haue pyte

And also Dyscrecyon her syster dere

Than dame Sapyence came me nere

Saynge youth wyll ye haue a wyfe

And her to loue durynge her lyfe

Ye madame that wolde I fayne

Yf that she be both fayre and bryght

I wyll her loue euer more certayne

And pleas her alway with all my myght

Of suche a persone wolde I haue a syght

With all my herte now at this houre

Wolde to god I had so fayre a floure

Than sayd dyscrecyon there is a kynge

Dwellynge fer hens in a fayre castell

Of whome I oft haue herd grete talkynge

Whiche hath a doughter as I you tell

I trowe that youth wyll lyke her well

She is both good eke fayre and pure

As I report me vnto dame Nature

But yf that youth sholde her go seke

Ye must syster than hym well indue

With your grete power so good and meke

That he all frayltye may eschue

For by the way it wyll oft pursue

On hym by flatery and grete temptacyon

That shall brynge hym in tribulacyon

ee .ii.

As for that sayd she he shall not care

For he shall theym sone ouercome

And of theyr flatery ryght well beware

For I to hym shall gyue grete wysedome

Theyr dedes to withstande & make theym dõme

Wherfore dere syster as I you pray

Vnto her lede hym now on the way

Loke that ye send me in his necessyte

By dame swyftnes full sone a letter

By whiche that I may knowe the certaynte

That I may come to ayde hym beter

So that fraylte to hym be no freter

And though I be not alway vysyble

With hym my power he hath inuyncyble

Than sayd dame Sapyence to dyscrecyon

Fare well dere syster I may not tary

Loke ye of youth haue the tuycyon

That he fall not into vaynglory

And that ye puruey for hym shortly

That he may wedde the fayre dame clennesse

Whiche for her loue haue ben in duresse

With that dame Sapyence downe went

In to her place that was the doctrynall

Of famous clerkes in connynge splendent

A myrrour of lernyng that was dyuynall

With all the craftes artyfycyall

Byfore her dame Fortune went to her mancyon

And eke dame hardynes to her habytacyon


Capitulum nonum

lust riding a goat


Orth than went dyscrecyon and I

Out of the castell into a grene

Where byrdys sange by grete melody

There daunst also the fayre quene

Besyde a ryuer named Ephesene

Ouer whiche we wente to the other syde

That was a medowe both longe and wyde

ee .iii.

Longe there we wandred tyll at the last

We came vnto a ryght grete wyldernes

By that tyme Phebus was ouer past

Wherfore we walked in grete derkenes

The whiche to me was a grete heuynes

For Lucyna eke dyd her shrowde

Vnder a blacke and mysty clowde

For she was horned and no thynge cleere

And entred into the sygne of caprycorne

Ryght ferre from phebus fulgent speere

And not ayenst hym the crowne had worne

I went vp and downe tyll on the morne

That phebus his golden reyes dyd sprede

Than dyscrecyon ferther forth me lede

Amonge thornes sharpe & bestes wylde

There was the lyon the wolf & the bere

But I coude mete nother man ne chylde

But many serpentes that dyde me fere

And by a swete smelle I knewe a pantere

So forth I went by longe contynuaunce

Tyll that I sawe an herber of pleasaunce

To whiche I toke anone my waye

Where that I sawe a lady excellent

Rydynge on a goote in fresshe arraye

Ryght yonge of age & lusty of entent

Prayenge me to her for to assent

As to fulfyll the flesshly pleasure

Whiche she desyred me out of mesure


Nay sayd dyscrecyon that may not be

No sayd I in no maner of wyse

To her request I wyll now agree

But euermore here foule lust despyse

For I my selfe do now aduyse

To kepe me chast that I may mary

Fayre dame Clennes that noble lady

riches riding an elephant

ee .iiii.


O forth I went walkynge my iournay

Metynge a lady olde and amyable

Syttynge in a castell both fressh and gay

On an olyphauntes backe in strength so stable

Whiche it to bere was good and able

Hauynge in her hande a cup of golde

Sette with perles ryght many afolde

She sayd she was the lady of rychesse

The quene of welth and worldely glory

Praynge me to company with her noblenesse

And she than wolde promote me shortely

To innumerable ryches and make me worthy

Where I am poore and sette by nought

By her to worshyp I sholde be brought

Vnto her I answered I wolde not so

As for to hunt in the parke of pryde

The whiche to Clennes is mortall fo

But with Dyscrecyon I wyll abyde

Whiche doth a wyfe for me prouyde

By whome I shall haue the possessyowne

Of heuenly kyngdome & grete renowne

So forth I went and had grete trauayle

Without the comfort of ony persone

Saue of dyscrecyon whiche dyd me counsayle

As she went walkynge with me alone

Vnto her I made full grete mone

And lykened the wyldernes by morall scence

Vnto worldely trouble by good experyence


She sayd the fyrst lady that I dyd mete

Iclyped was dame Sensualyte

Whiche can well flater with wordes swete

Causynge a man to fall into fragylyte

And for to haunt the carnall freylte

Whiche vnto clennes is abhomynable

For they in werke be gretely varyable

The seconde was pryde enduyd with couetyse

A lady of ryght fruytles medytacyon

Delytynge gretly in the synne of auaryce

The whiche is cause of her dampnacyon

For she by her fals supportacyon

Blyndeth many a mannes conscyence

And dryueth ryght oft fer in absence

So ferther I went tyll at the last

I was in a mase goynge in and oute

Ther was none other way I was agast

But forth I walked in grete doute

Now here now there and so rounde aboute

Than sayd vnto me dame Dyscrecyon

Ye are in the besynes of worldely fastyon

Therein I trauayled by longe space

Tyll that I mette a lady gloryous

Indued with vertue and grete grace

To whom I sayd o lady precyous

As ye seme to be good and vertuous

I you beseche now without delaye

Vnto dame Clennes to teche me the waye

ee .v.

I Sapyence now wyll shewe to the

The ryght waye vnto fayre clennes

And yf thou wylt be ruled by me

Thou shalt mary that noble prynces

Yes that wyll I sayd than douteles

Dyscrecyon sayd she wolde be my suerte

Sapyence sayd none better myght be

Than sayd dyscrecyon to dame sapyence

Welcome to vs my syster dere

And I to her dyd humble reuerence

Saynge who had went to fynde you here

Yes she sayd I haue ben neere

You often tymes syth my departynge

And haue ben cause of your goode gydynge

Capitulum .x.


Ome on your waye walke on a pace

For ye longe for to haue a syght

Of dame Clennes so clere a face

So goodely of body in beauty bryght

That there can not be so fayre a wyght

So forth we walked to a ryuer syde

That ebbed and flowed at euery tyde

Than I saw a castell a pales royall

Bylded with marble blacke as the gette

With glasse wyndowes as clere as crystall

Whiche on the other syde was sette

No man to the castell myght gette

But ouer the water on a lytell brydge

Not halfe so brode as a hous rydge


But as I cast myn eye than asyde

I saw a lady wounderous fayre

Demure of contenaunce without pryde

That went her selfe for to repayre

By the water syde to take the ayre

Beholde and se than sayd dame sapyence

Yonder is dame Clennes the sterre of excellence

Full glad was I than in my mynde

For to se that flour of complacence

The syght of her dyd my herte bynde

Euer her to loue with percynge influence

Vnto her I sayd o well of contynence

Vnto your grace fayne wolde I go

Ner lettynge of this water blo

To me she answered than agayne

Saynge this worlde withouten mys

Is but a vanyte no thynge certayne

In the lyke wyse as this water is

Ye can not come to me now ywys

But by that brydge that goth ouer

This stormy troublous & wawy water

Therof sayd sapyence he shall not lette

Well sayd Clennes be you his gyde

And dyscrecyon also for to be sette

For to vpholde hym vnto the other syde

That he do not in the water slyde

So to the brydge they dyde me lede

I quacked than for fere and drede

ee .vi.

I sawe there wryten this lytterall sence

No man this brydge may ouer go

But he be pure without neglygence

And stedfast in goddes byleue also

Yf he be ignoraunt and do not so

He must nedys into this water fall

Ouer the heed and be drowned with all

They led me ouer this brydge so peryllous

Tyll that I came to a preuy place

Where were wryten with letters gloryous

This is the kyngdome of grete grace

No man by yonde this marke may trace

But yf he be brought in by dame wysedome

If he so be he is moche welcome

So forthermore yet forth we went

Into a hall that was solacyous

Made of precyous stones splendent

That theym to se it was ryght wounderous

They were there so gretly plenteuous

That the hall paued was for the nones

With none other grauell but precyous stones


King of Love as described in text

There was dame Clennes that lady gent

And eke her fader the kynge of loue

He satte in a chayre ryght clere and excellent

At the vpper ende of the hall aboue

He satte styll and dyd not remoue

Gyrde with wylowes and myght not se

No maner a thynge in his degre

cc .vii.

He had two wynges ryght large and grete

And his body also was naked

And a dart in his ryght hand was sette

And a torche in his left hand brenned

A botell aboute his necke was hanged

His one leg armed and naked the other

Hym for to se it was a wonder

Sapyence bad me meruayll no thynge

For she wold shewe me the sygnifycacyon

Why he so sate by shorte rekenynge

Accordynge to a morylyzacyonB

Now of the fyrste to make relacyon

Loue sholde be gyrde faste with stabylyte

Without whiche loue can haue no suerte

Loue may not se but is alway blynde

And wenyth no man can haue perseueraũce

Where that he loueth by naturall kynde

But he do shewe hym by wordes of vteraũce

Trught he bewreyeth hym by contenaunce

For hard it wyll be loue so to couere

But that som man shall it perceuere

Also his nakednes doth sygnyfy

That true loue no thynge ellys desyreth

But the very persone and eke body

That he so well and feruentely loueth

His wynges also well betokenyth

That his mynde fleeth vnto the persone

That he doth loue so well alone


And also loue is stryken with a sharpe darte

That maketh a man for to complayn

Whan that it hath wounded sore his herte

It brenneth hote lyke fyre certeyn

Than loue his purpose wolde fayne atteyn

And is euermore both hoot and drye

Tyll his lady gyue hym drynke of mercy

His one legge is armed to defende

The ryght that longeth vnto amyte

And wronge loue for to amende

His naked legge betokeneth charyte

That is the Ioye of grete felycyte

So charyte ryght loue and good concorde

With stablynes reygneth in this myghty lorde

Capitulum .xi.


Han forth me led good dame Sapyence

Afore that myghty lordes mageste

Come on she sayd put the in presence

That thou mayst se dame clennes beaute

Ponder in thy mynde by veryte

That so fayre as she was not quene helyn

Quene Ipolyte or yonge Polyxyn

This lady is clene without corrupcyon

And wereth thre crownes for her vyrgynyte

One is for people of perfyt relygyon

An other for maydens kepynge chastyte

The therde for true wedowes as yu mayst se

I wyll the now to her fader present

Her for to mary yf she wyll consent

cc .viii.

Than sayd dame sapyence o noble emperour

O souerayne lorde and royall potestate

O vyctoryous prynce & famous conquerour

O kynge of loue and seaser of debate

To the no creature may say chekmate

I present the now this vertuous knyght

For to mary clennes your doughter bryght

I thanke you he sayd for your good wyll

But he that to Clennes maryed must be

He must my commaundement fyrste fulfyll

As to scomfyte the dragon with heedes thre

That is a serpent of grete subtylte

Whiche well betokeneth as we do fynde

The worlde the flesshe & the deuyll by kynde

Sapyence sayd I sholde not fayle

To do his commaũdement for Clennes sake

As for to sle the dragon in batayle

That lay in a marys in a grete lake

Whiche was moche stynkynge foule & blake

Wysedome bade me be not aferde

For she wolde gyue me a shelde and swerde

And arme me also with fayre armure

To vaynquysshe that dragon so ferse & grete

She sayd it sholde be so good and sure

That I no harme of hym sholde gete

Though he his teth on me had sete

Yet sholde I slee hym for all his myght

By my grete strokes whan I dyd fyght


Fyrst she my legge harneys sette on

And after my plackerd of grete ryches

She armed me her selfe alone

And laced my helmet of her gentylnes

I thanked her for her grete goodnes

And gaue me my swerde and sheld also

Saynge lete vs to the dragon go

This is the armure for the soule

That in his epystole wrote saynt Poule

Good hope thy legge harneys shall be

The habergyn of ryghtwysnes gyrde wt chastyte

Thy plackarde of besynes wt braũches of almes dede

Thy shelde of beleue and mekenes for the hede

Thy swerde shall be the to defend

The worde of god the deuyll to bl[ey]ndeC

ff .i.

the three-headed dragon

Dame sapyence & I dyd take our lycence

Of the kynge of loue in vertue depured

And of his doughter shynynge in excellence

Whiche to me sayd with wordes assured

O vertuous knyght you for me haue dured

In grete wo & payne but thynke you verely

To scomfyt that dragon by wysedome shortly


Than went we forth to that serpent

In merueylous trauayle of sorowe and bale

By that tyme the daye ryght fayre was spent

And phebus his course began to auale

But at the last we came into a dale

Wher we felt the sauer of a dungeon

Of the foule and stynkynge dragon

Nere to that dragon there was a way

That men vsed vpon a fayre hyll

Vnto hyghe heuen so fressh and gay

But that dragon lette theym theyr wyll

And by the way he dyd theym kyll

Bryngynge theym vnto the dungeon

Iclyped the place of grete oblyuyon

I had not be there halfe an houre

But that this dragon me approched

As though that he wolde me deuoure

He so fersly than on me marched

The batayle bytwene vs longe contynued

But he had me ryght sone ouercome

If I had not helpe of dame wysedome

I strake at hym fast with my swerde

And with my shelde dyd me defende

Wysedome bad me not be aferde

But my stroke that for to amende

As fer as my myght weld extende

So by her wordes I plucked vp myn herte

And dyd than vnto the dragon sterte

ff .ii.

But he caught me than in his clawes

And so we wrasteled longe to gyder

But he hyld me sharpely in his pawes

Tyll wysedom my feblenesse dyd consyder

Beholde she sayd dame clennes yonder

Than as a syde I cast all my syght

I sawe that lady so pure and bryght

My strength than dobeled an hundred folde

And I from hym brake by vertuous prowes

My herte was warme that afore was colde

With the cõfortable syght of fayre dame clennes

Than I to hym gaue strokes of exces

And with my sharpe swerde cut of anone

Two of his heedes leuynge hym but one

These two heedes by good morall sens

The worlde and the flesshe do sygnyfy

As I in scrypture haue intellygence

The fyrste the worlde that is transytory

Lyeth bytwene man and heuenly glory

Lettynge hym often of his passage

If it of hym can gete auauntage

The seconde is the flesshly desyre

That troubleth a man ryght sore within

Settynge his courage vpon a fyre

Causynge hym to enclyne to dedely syn

His flessh the batayll of hym doth wyn

Often bryngynge hym into dampnacyon

If repentaunce were not his saluacyon


Repentaunce alway requyreth mercy

And penaunce to god is a satisfaccyon

For god desyreth euermore truely

An humble herte full of contrycon

And the worlde desyreth restytucyon

Of goodes that haue be goten wrongfully

To be restored vnto the ryghtfull party

Whan I by wysedom had won the vyctory

Of these two heedes I was ryght glad

His thyrde heed marched ayenst me sharpely

But I my swerd in my hand had

Strykynge at hym with strokes sad

And blode of hym coude I drawe none

For he had nother flesshe ne bone

But at the last I dyd hym vaynquysshe

Dryuynge hym home to his derke regyon

Of infernall payne that shall not fynysshe

For hell is called his propre mancyon

And of all other of his opynyon

That do the preceptes of god forsake

And to deuelyche werkes theym do be take

God by his ryghtwysnes made a lawe

By whiche man for dedely synne is condẽpned

If god his vengeaunce do not withdrawe

In euerlastynge payne he sholde be prysoned

But and man mercy of hym requyred

With penytent hert he sholde it haue

And with his mercy he wyll man saue

¶ Capitulum .xii.

ff .iiii.


Han I had scomfyte this serpent venymous

Sapyence to me ryght gentely sayd

Blessyd be god ye are so gracyous

That ye shall mary Clennes the mayd

But yet erwhyles ye were afrayd

Ye I sayd and swet full ryght sore

Tyll ye newe strength dyd me restore

This batayll was grete & longe endured

Whiche caused me to be ryght wery

But sapyence with her wordes me mured

With walles of comfort makynge me mery

Come on she sayd and walke on lyghtly

Vnto the castell that we come fro

I answered to her I wolde do so

Than forth we went a grete pace

Tyll that we came to the castell syde

There mette vs ladyes with grete solace

And welcomed vs at the same tyde

So fayre a sort in the worlde so wyde

May not be founde by no maner of reason

As I sawe there at the same season

The fyrste lady that dyd vs mete

Iclyped was dame perseueraunce

Whiche to me sayd with wordes swete

Blessyd be god of your good gouernaunce

That hath kept you from the incomberaunce

Of the serpent with the heedes thre

And caused you vyctor of hym to be


Than came dame fayth that lady gloryous

Welcome she sayd with wordes amyable

I am ryght glad ye ar so vyctoryous

Of that foule dragon so abhomynable

She sayd that I was euermore stable

In her in dede eke worde and thought

Or elles my labour had ben to nought

Than spake the lady fayre dame charyte

Welcome vertue the noble veteran

Sythens that ye alway haue loued me

From the fyrst season that ye began

Bothe in your youth & syth ye were man

Ye haue had me in humble reuerence

And haue ben ruled by my preemynence

Than sayd dame prayer in my presence

Ye neuer cast me in oblyuyaunce

By no slouth nor wordely neglygence

But haue had me in grete remembraunce

Whiche hath ben to me very grete pleasaunce

Wherfore welcome vertue my dere

Vnto this castell that ye se here

Than came fast to me dame lowelynes

Clyppynge me harde with louely chere

Byddynge me welcome with grete gladnes

As by her contenaũce it dyd well appere

Come on she sayd and walke on nere

So than amonge these fayre ladyes all

I went in to the grete castell hall

ff .iii.

And there met me dame clennes blyue

And dame grace bare vp her trayne

Whiche euer to her was affyrmatyue

From whome dame clennes myght not refrayne

Than sayd she to me I am ryght fayne

That ye ar comen in to this place

Where ye shall wedde me in short space

Vpon my kne I kneled than downe

Saynge o sterre of the blysse eterne

O well of vertue and of grete renowne

O dyuyne comfort moost sempyterne

Whan I your beautye do so well decerne

Ye set myn hert vpon a brennynge fyre

With feruent loue to come to my desyre

To me she answered in this wyse

O my dere herte my spouse so pure

Why do ye not on your fete aryse

You of my true loue shall be sure

For ye my hert haue now in cure

Lete vs go now to our fader reuerente

So forthe vnto hym than we wente

Whan that we came afore his fayre face

Dame clennes made curtesye vnto the grounde

Saynge o fader kynge of grete grace

This knyght to loue ye are now bounde

And so am I for I haue often founde

Grete kyndnes on hym both nyght and day

For he hath loued me ryght well alway


Welcome he sayd ryght noble knyght

How haue ye done sythens your departynge

Haue ye scomfyted with your myght

The merueylous dragon so gretly slynkyngeD

Ye I sayd with the power shynynge

Of my maystresse good dame sapyence

I dyd hym vaynquysshe by her experyence

Wher is dame Sapyence than sayd he

And eke her syster dame dyscrecyon

Syr I sayd they are comen with me

And they haue had me in iurisdyccyon

Syns my departynge without destruccyon

Than spake dame sapyence by her faculte

Vnto that myghty lordes mageste

Saynge this knyght than cleped vertue

Hath loued your doughter by longe contynuaũce

With stable loue so faythfull and true

And for her sake hath put to vteraunce

The thre heeded dragon by wyse puruyaunce

Wherfore me thynke he ought to mary

Your doughter Clennes that noble lady

The kynge sayd me thynke the same

If that my doughter wyll agre

And she do not she moche is to blame

Consyderynge his wysedome & grete beaute

Come hyder he sayd my doughter fre

To be wyfe to vertue wyll ye consent

Ye fader she sayd with hole entent

gg .i.

Than he called vnto his presence

Perseueraunce charyte and fydelyte

With lowlynes prayer and intellygence

Shewynge vnto theym the certeynte

How clennes his doughter wedded shall be

Vnto me now vertu in all godely hast

By fore that thre dayes be ryght fully past

He called me than to his magnyfycence

Byddynge me go to bed and to rest

In the chaumbre of clene conscyence

Than so to do I thought it the best

For phebus was tourned into the west

So sapyence and I went forthe to bed

For lake of rest oppressed was my hed

A lytyll welp within this chaumbre was

That lay wakynge and barked alway

That no man in to it sholde passe

That wolde with conscyence make a fray

I dyd slepe there tyll that it was day

Than vp I rose and made me redy

Callynge vnto me dame sapyence shortely

Saynge vnto her o lady and maystres

O comfortable salue vnto euery sore

O fontayne of welth and carbuncle of clernes

Without ye helpe me I am forlore

Wherfore I shewe you as now before

Without I mary fayre dame clennes

I shall endure in mortall heuynes


Therof sayd she be no thynge adred

For ye shall mary here ryght soone

By me your mater shall be well sped

And the same daye it shall be doone

Aboute the houre truely of noone

And there shall be at your good dyner

Charyte fayth penaunce and prayer

Dame sapyence led me into a gardeyn

Where Clennes was amonge floures swete

Her to repayre without dysdeyn

As I to her wente she dyd me mete

Bryngynge me a floure called the margarete

Whiche is a floure ryght swete and precyous

Indued with beaute and moche vertuous

This floure I kyst often ryght swetely

Settynge it nere vnto my hert

Dame Clennes loked vpon me louely

Saynge that I sholde not depert

Tyll she had shewed me a grete couert

So with her I wente without delay

Where byrdes sate on many a spray

By this tyme phebus had begon

His ascencyall cours in grete bryghtnes

In to the sygne of the fierous lyon

Exylynge the fenerous frosty coldnes

And depryuynge the noxyall derkenes

And also setherus his fragraunt breth

Dystylled had vpon euery heth

gg .ii.

Than to her I sayd my lady dere

Beholde this weder so clere and fayre

How royall walkynge that it is here

Lyke a place of pleasure you to repayre

Amonge the floures so swete of ayre

An other she had as she me tolde

Bryghter than phebus a thousande folde

This is a place of recreacyon

My mynde to comfort after study

In welth pleasure and delectacyon

For yf I sholde my selfe applye

Euer to pray to god an hye

Without this place I may not be sure

In other tyme in prayer to endure

But the other gardyn is celestyall

That longeth to vs by enherytaunce

And is entayled to vs in generall

For our clene lyfe & vertuous gouernaũce

Who that vs loueth without doubtaũceE

With vs shall go to eternall glory

In short space or elles to purgatory

Than forth we went to her fader royall

Whiche welcomed vs by grete humylyte

Saynge my doughter dere and specyall

Ye shall this daye by grete solempnyte

Be wedded to vertue with benygnyte

We kneled downe and thanked his grace

And than forth we went to an other place


Capitulum .xiii.

Virtue marries Dame Cleanness


N to a chapell gayly gloryfyed

And also hanged with cloth of tyssue

A place it was ryght gretly deyfyed

The roof was set with stones of vertue

As with rubyes and emeraudes bryght of hue

The rood loft was yuery garnysshed with gold

Set with dyamoundes ryght many a fold

gg .iii.

Ther I dyd se the arke of god

With many sayntes that suffred martyrdom

And also I sawe there Moyses rod

And saynt Austyn that brought crystendom

Into englonde by his grete wysedom

And the xii. apostles that fast gan wryte

Of our byleue and eke dyd endyte

There was saynt peter the noble pope

That dyd stande on the ryght syde

Of the hyghe auter in a ryche cope

Dame clennes and I dyd there abyde

And vp there came than at that tyde

Dame prayer with her syster charyte

And eke dame penytence with humylyte

Than came dame fayth anone to vs

With ryghtwysenes peas and dame mercy

With dame contrycyon gay and gloryous

Whiche after theym dyd not longe tary

And than came bede and eke saynt gregory

With saynt ambrose the noble doctour

Whiche of our fayth was good protectour

Than came the kynge of feruent loue

Led with argos in goodely wyse

Without whome he myght not remoue

From his sete by ryght prudent gyse

Who loueth argos wyll not deuyse

Nor yet begynne no maner of thynge

Without in his mynde he se good endynge


Also saynt Ierome the noble cardynall

Came vp to vs by humble reuerence

Whiche euermore was a good doctrynall

Prechynge to vs by vertuous influence

With exhortacyon of dyuyne complacence

And than foure bysshoppes in grete dygnyte

Ryght connynge cernynge vnto the deyte

On hym wayted by grete dylygence

And neuer dyd forsake his company

But hym obeyed by good experyence

And from his cõmaundement dyd not vary

But in the chapell they dyd there tary

And than saynt Ierome wente to the kynge

Of feruent loue vnto hym saynge

O amyable kynge seasour of debate

O ioyner of vertue and well of vnyte

O royall emperour o souerayne estate

O messenger of feruent amyte

O feruent dart of cordyall pryuyte

Here is your doughter fayre dame clennes

That must be maryed with good ryghtwysenes

Vnto vertue the louely knyght

Whiche the batayle now hath won

By dame sapyence helpe and myght

Of the foule thre heeded dragon

This maryage by me shall be don

Go ye now streyght into your tabernacle

Whiche is to you moost propre habytacle

gg .iv.

Than the souerayne kynge to hym dyd call

Dame fayth dyscrecyon and dame sapyence

With dame contrycyon & charyte withall

And eke dame mercy and dame penytence

Vnto theym saynge ye haue intellygence

That this daye clennes my doughter dere

Shall be maryed to vertue that ye se here

Than they dyde all come vnto me

With dame peas and dame grace

And after theym came dame virgynyte

Whiche in her armes dyd me enbrace

Saynge that I was to her grete solace

Gyuynge me vnto my good maryage

A gowne of syluer for grete aparage

She gafe an other of the same

Vnto dame clennes puttynge it one

Vpon her back withouten blame

After whiche Clennes wente anone

Vnto her fader her selfe alone

And I with saynt Ierome dyd there tary

To wed dame Clennes that noble lady

And all the ladyes with meke contenence

Stode on a rewe besyde the closette

Of Clennes fader without resystence

Whiche hanged was gayly with blue veluet

And with perles & rubyes rychely set

Than forth came Clennes with two aũgels led

Whiche theyr golden wynges abrode dyd spred


Dame grace after her bare vp her trayn

And .xv. ladyes her dyd ensue

Fyrst went dame humylyte certayn

And after her than dyd pursue

Dame fayth in stablenes so true

Ledynge with her the fayre dame pease

That welth and ryches doth well encrease

Than went dame reason with perseueraũce

And than dame mercy with contricyon

And than exersyce with remembraunce

After whome went dame restytucyon

With dame prayer and dame confessyon

And dame charyte with obedyence

And after theym came fayre dame abstynence

Saynt Ierome dyd make there coniunccyon

Of dame Clennes and me in matrimonye

With heuenly wordes and vertuous fastyon

And aungels came downe from heuen hye

As saynt Mychell with gabryell & the gerachye

To helpe saynt peter the masse to synge

The organs went and the bellys dyd rynge

My penne for feblenes may not now wryte

Nor my tonge for domnes may not expresse

Nor my mynde for neglygence may not endyte

Of the aungelycall Ioye and swete gladnesse

That I sawe there without heuynesse

And whan this weddynge holy was fynysshed

The aungels than to heuen vanysshed

gg .v.

Than downe I went in to the hall

Where ordeyned was by grete solempnyte

A dyner of vertue moost celestyall

To whiche came my wyf full of benygnyte

On the one syde led by good auctoryte

With saynt Edmond the noble kynge

And martyr whiche dyd her downe brynge

And she was led on the other syde

With saynt Edward the kynge and confessour

And so bytwene theym wente this bryde

To whom all the ladyes made grete honour

As alway seruynge her without errour

And a lytell whyle anone after her

Ergos brought downe her noble fader

The kynge of loue than sat hym downe

At the table for that tyme to ette

Causynge dame Clennes for her renowne

On his one syde than for to be sette

And I on the other without ony lette

And besyde me sapyence and dyscrecyon

And than by theym sat dame contrycyon

Than sate saynt Edwarde with vyrgynyte

And afore hym sate dame obedyence

Saynt Edmond and dame charyte

And than dame prayer with dame abstynence

And than dame fayth shynynge in excellence

With saynt Ierome and saynt Austeyn

And than saynt gregory without dysdeyn


There was two aungels holdynge fast

The table cloth at euery ende

Knelynge downe humbly and stedfast

Whose seruyce no man coude amende

Other there were that dyd entende

Vs for to serue with theyr grete dylygence

That in theym founde coude be no neglygence

There dyd saynt Peter by grete holynes

Serue vs of our swete lordes body

Fyrst he serued the fader of clennes

And after that he serued her shortly

With charyte fayth and dame mercy

And I with dyscrecyon and dame sapyence

Of saynt Peter was serued with grete indulgence

So dame obedyence with contrycyon

With saynt Edwarde and virgynyte

In lyke wyse were serued without corrupcyon

And saynt Edmond with dame charyte

And saynt Ierome with dame humylyte

With saynt austyn and saynt gregory

What nede I lenger of theym specyfy

This was a fest moost swete and precyous

To fede the soule with dyuyne comfort

This was a mete moost dere and gloryous

That causeth all man for to resorte

To sempyternall lyfe and comforte

Than saynt ambrose beynge dyuyne

After our mete gafe vs good wyne

gg .vi.

By this tyme was I .lx. yere olde

And desyred for to lyue in peace

For I began to growe two folde

And my feblenes dyde sore encreace

For nature her strength than dyd seace

Wherfore after this ghoostly fest

I thought with my wyfe to abyde in rest

And I to her sayd with louynge chere

O my swete spouse moost fayre and beauteous

To me euer ryght leyfe and dere

Where is your lande that is solacyous

Ye shewyd me of your gardeyn gloryous

Vnto whiche now fayne wolde I go

There for to dwell and you also

Syr she sayd the aungell raphaell

Shall with these martyrs & noble confessours

Brynge you thyder with theym to dwell

Where ye shall see all your progenytours

With many sayntes and gloryous auctours

This lande is heuen that to vs longeth

As our euydence the gospell telleth

Than came my fader in lawe to vs

Saynge by ryght I dyd combynd

Clennes my doughter with vertue precyous

And you must I loue by naturell kynde

For on you now is all my mynde

Afore hym I kyst my wyfe moost swetely

For we loued to gyder hote and truely


Than came my good aungell to me

Causynge me with hym for to go

With clennes my wyfe wher I dyd se

The paynes of hell full of grete wo

There was the dragon that I dyd slo

Bounde with chaynes in fyer infynall

With the seuen dedely synnes in generall

Than my good aungell to me sayd

If ye had loued dame sensualyte

The whiche with you dyd make a brayde

Ye had ben dampned by ryght and equyte

In to this pytte full of all iniquyte

Wherfore thanke god that sent you wysedome

Suche deedly perylles for to ouercome

Also the lady with the cup of golde

Is here condempned for her grete pryde

In endeles payne both hote and colde

Where in for synne she shall abyde

This is a dongeon longe and wyde

Made for theym that do synne dedely

And of cryst Ihesu wyll axe no mercy

This is a place full of all derkenes

Wherin be serpentes foull and odyous

This is a place of mortall heuynes

Where I sawe deuyles blacke and tedyous

Dampned soules turmented with hokes rygorous

This is the vppermoost parte of hell

In whiche paynyms dampned do dwell

hh .i.

For as moche as they lacked instruccyon

For to beleue in god omnypotent

They haue deserued the lesse correccyon

Yet theyr payne haue none extinguysshement

For they are dampned by true sentyment

For theyr byleue and fals idolatry

That made theyr goddes of mars & mercury

Than went we doune to an other vaute

Where Iewes lay in grete paynes stronge

Whome deuylles tourmented by grete assaute

Drawynge theym with hokes a longe

For theyr opynyon so fals and wronge

Whiche byleued not in the natyuyte

Of Ihesu cryst and the vyrgyn Mare

Nor yet that he dyd suffre passyon

Bothe for theym and all mankynde

Nother yet of his resurreccyon

In theyr byleue they are so blynde

Yet as in bokes wryten we do fynde

That they haue ben taught many a tyme

For to forsake theyr owne fals cryme

Than went we downe to a depper vale

Where crysten soules dyd weppe & crye

In grete sorowe payne and bale

Brennynge in fyer moost hote and drye

And some in Ice ryght depe dyd lye

For to expresse it is impossyble

The paynes there they are so horryble


These crysten men knowe goddes lawe

And euery daye had informacyon

From deuelysshe werkes theym to withdrawe

That they sholde not fall in dampnacyon

Yet wyll they not make sequestracyon

Of goddes cõmaundement but syn deedly

Therfore here are they dampned ryght wysey

And thou haddest set thy delectacyon

In flesshely pleasure and vayne glory

Thou haddest ben here without saluacyon

Without thou of god had axed mercy

Who that it axeth shall haue it truely

Yf he be contryt and do repent

That he his lyfe in yll hath spent

This place sythens it is moost heuy

Moost derke and moost ferre from lyghtnes

As philosophers afferme by astronomy

Is in the myddes of the erthe doutles

That is a place of dyssolate derkenes

Wherfore by reason it must nedes be sette

In the myddes of the erthe both longe & grette

Capitulum .xiiii


Y good aungell by his grete vertue

Shewed me all this in a shorte space

And after hym I dyd than pursue

With my wyfe vnto the fayre place

That we came fro full of all solace

Where was my fader in the company

Of many sayntes that dyd there tary

hh .ii.

My wyfe and me than for to brynge

To the place of eternall glory

With heuenly tewnes swetely syngynge

That theym to here it was grete melody

More than ony tonge can specyfy

This was theyr songe so swete and gloryous

That they dyd synge with voyce so vertuous

O celestyall kynge one two and thre

All people prayse the god and lorde

Whiche art in heuen o noble trynyte

Whose royall power and miserycorde

Confermed is by thyn hye accorde

On vs with trouth for to endure

Withouten ende as we are sure

Glory be to the fader almyghty

And to the sone and to the holy ghoost

Thre persones and one god truely

Whose power neuer can be loost

For he is lorde of myghtes moost

And so hath ben without begynnynge

And euer shall be without endynge

Whan we were in the ayre of asure

There dyd vs mete the noble Ierarchy

As Cherubyn and Seraphyn so pure

With other aungels in theyr company

That dyd proclayme & synge on hye

With voyce insacyat moost melodyous

To god aboue Sanctus sanctus sanctus


There dyd I se the planettes seuen

Moue in ordre by alteracyon

To merueylous for me to neuen

For they seassed not theyr operacyon

Some assended some made declynacyon

Entrynge theyr houses of the .xii. synes

Some indyrectly and some by dyrecte lynes

To heuen we styed a place moost gloryous

Where that we dyd beholde the deyte

With insaciable contenaunce moost desyrous

And truely than the more that we

Dyd loke vpon his souerayne beaute

The more our desyre dyd encreace

This is a Ioye that shall not seace

This is a regyon moost full of swetnes

This is a realme of delectacyon

This is a lande of infenyte gladnes

Without ony stormy tribulacyon

This place is of eterne saluacyon

Where aungels and sayntes for theyr solace

Euermore do loke on goddes face

What sholde I wryte thynges of dyuynyte

Or endyght of suche maters hye

Sythen it no thynge longeth to my faculte

Therfore of it I wyll not lenger tarye

For fere that I in it sholde varye

And by cause that trouth shall be my mede

I wyll now leue and take me to my crede

hh .iii.

So vertue and clennes by good ryght

Truely in maryage ioyned must be

For they loue to gyder with all theyr myght

Without dyscencyon or duplycyte

And they both are alway in vnyte

To whome heuen by tayll generall

Entayled is by a dede memoryall

Now are they to gyder to heuen gone

There for to dwell in Ioye eternall

Where that there is the heuenly trone

Of our sauyour Ihesu deere & specyall

Who that hym loueth truely ouer all

Ledynge his lyfe with vertue and clennes

Shall come vnto the glory endeles

But in the fynysshynge of my mater

To god the maker of all thynge

Deuoutely now I make my prayer

To saufe kynge Henry our ryghtfull kynge

From all treason and dolefull mornynge

And for to maynteyn the grete honour

Of this swete rede rose so fayre a colour

This floure was kepte ryght longe in close

Amonge the leuys holsom and sote

And regally sprange and arose

Out of the noble stoke and rote

Of the rede rose tre to be our bote

After our bale sente by grete grace

On vs to reygne by ryght longe space


O lorde god what Ioye was this

Vnto his moder so good and gracyous

Whan that she sawe her sone I wys

Of his ennemys to be so vyctoryous

It caused her to be moost Ioyous

And yet there of no wonder why

For he was ryght longe from her truely

A ioyfull metynge than bytwene

The moder and the sone so dere

A daye of gladnes bryght and shene

Fressher than phebus myddaye spere

Whan her sone to vs dyd appere

He dyd vs lyght with his pure bemys

Quenchynge of mars the fyrous lemys

O heuenly kynge o eternall emperoure

O thre persons and one god equall

I praye the to kepe from all doloure

This moder with her sone in specyall

With all theyr noble buddes in generall

And laude be to the that dyd enhaunce

Hym to his ryght and propre herytaunce

The whyte rose that wt tempestes troublous

Aualed was and eke blowen asyde

The reed rose fortyfyed and made delycyous

It pleased god for hym so to prouyde

That his redolent buddes shall not slyde

But euer encrease and be vyctoryous

Of fatall brerys whiche be contraryous

hh .iiii.

Thus god by grace dyd well combyne

The rede rose and the whyte in maryage

Beynge oned ryght clere doth shyne

In all clennes and vertuous courage

Of whose ryght and royall lynage

Prynce Henry is spronge our kynge to be

After his fader by ryght good equyte

O noble prynce Henry our seconde treasure

Surmontynge in vertue & myrour of beaute

O geme of gentylnes & lanterne of plasure

O rubycound blossome and sterre of humylyte

O famous bud full of benygnyte

I pray to god well for to encrease

Your hyghe estate in rest and pease

O thoughfull hert for lack of connynge

Now layde to slepe this longe wynters nyght

Ryse vp agayne loke on the shynynge

Of fayre lucyna clere and bryght

Beholde eke mercury with his fayre lyght

Castynge a doune his stremys mery

It may well glad thyn emyspery

O gower fountayne moost aromatyke

I the now lake for to depure

My rudnes with thy lusty retoryke

And also I mys as I am sure

My mayster Chaucers to take the cure

Of my penne for he was expert

In eloquent termes subtyll and couert


Where is now lydgate flourynge in sentence

That shold my mynde forge to endyte

After the termes of famous eloquence

And strength my penne well for to wryte

With maters fresshe of pure delyte

They can not helpe me there is no remedy

But for to praye to god almyghty

For to dystyll the dewe of influence

Vpon my brayn so dull and rude

And to enlumyn me with his sapyence

That I my rudnes may exclude

And in my mater well to conclude

Vnto thy pleasure and to the reders all

To whome I excuse me now in generall

Explicit exemplum virtutis

printer's mark: William Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde

Transcriber’s Notes

Mixed Pages

Two sets of three pages appear to have been printed out of order:

Page (11, beginning Vnto her I answerde o lady gloryous) appears before pages aa.v. and aa.v.verso (9 and 10, beginning Be to thy kynge euer true subgete).

Pages ff.iii. (69, beginning Whan I had scomfyte this serpent venymous) and ff.iiii. (71, beginning And there met me dame clennes blyue) are transposed, with ff.iii.verso (70, beginning Than came dame fayth that lady gloryous) between them.

Each involves pages from the later part of a signature, so page numbering is absent. It is not known whether the error is from the original printing or from the facsimile reprint.

Printed folio numbers show an unusual pattern:

aa, cc, ee: 16 pages each
gg: 12 pages
bb, dd, ff, hh: 8 pages

Duplicate Chapter Heads

Chapter headings for .vi. and .vii. were printed near the bottom of the page—as main text, not catchwords—and again at the top of the following page. This pattern was not consistently followed for all chapters that began at the top of a page.

Unusual Errors

A. Discrecõn, temptacõn
Both words occur in full-length lines of prose. When the typesetter saw that he needed an abbreviation to make the line fit, he may have removed the wrong letter from the word to be abbreviated.

text image


text image

B. In four places the printed text has an unusual letter. It has been transcribed as “z” or “ȝ” (yogh) according to context, though it is the same letterform every time:

text image   text

text image   text

There is no apparent reason for abbreviating “kynge” in this line.

text image   text

text image   text

C. bl[ey]nde
A small “e”, required by the rhyme, is printed above “y”, required by the sense.

D. so gretly slynkynge
The printed text is very slightly defective. The reading “stynkynge” fits the sense better, but the letterforms are closer to “sl-”.

E. doubtaũce
Text reads “doubtauũce”, possibly through confusion with the preceding line, where the “governaũce” abbreviation was required by line length:

text image