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Title: The complete works of John Gower, volume 2

The English works

Author: John Gower

Editor: G. C. Macaulay

Release date: July 10, 2023 [eBook #71162]

Language: English

Credits: Ted Garvin, Stephen Rowland, Krista Zaleski, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors in punctuation have been silently corrected.

In particular, these typos were corrected:

The Corrigenda et Addenda have been corrected in place.

All other spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.



* *




MS. Fairfax 3, f. 125 vo. (UPPER PORTION)







* *

(Confessio Amantis, Prol.—Lib. V. 1970)

‘O gentile Engleterre, a toi j’escrits.’



[Pg v]


The circumstances under which this edition was undertaken have already been stated in the Preface to the volume containing the French Works, where mention is also made of the editor’s obligations to many librarians and private owners of manuscripts.

At present it need only be said that the editor has become more and more convinced, as his work went on, of the value and authentic character of the text given by the Fairfax MS. of the Confessio Amantis, which as proceeding directly from the author, though not written by his hand, may claim the highest rank as an authority for his language.

It is hoped that the list of errata, the result chiefly of a revision made during the formation of the Glossary, may be taken to indicate not so much the carelessness of the editor, as his desire to be absolutely accurate in the reproduction of this interesting text.

The analysis of the Confessio Amantis which is printed in the Introduction, was undertaken chiefly at the suggestion of Dr. Furnivall. With reference to this it may be observed that in places where the author is following well-known sources, the summaries are intentionally briefer, and in the case of some of the Biblical stories a reference to the original has been thought sufficient.

Oxford, 1901.[Pg vi]


Introduction vii
Confessio Amantis:—
Prologus 1
Liber I 35
Liber II 130
Liber III 226
Liber IV 301
Liber V 402
Notes 457

[Pg vii]


The Confessio Amantis has been the subject both of exaggerated praise and of undue depreciation. It was the fashion of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to set Gower side by side with Chaucer, and to represent them as the twin stars of the new English poetry, a view which, however it may be justified by consideration of their language and literary tendencies, seems to imply a very uncritical estimate of their comparative importance. Some of these references are collected below, and they serve to indicate in a general way that the author had a great literary reputation and that his book was very popular, the latter being a conclusion which is sufficiently vouched for also by the large number of manuscripts which existed, and by the three printed editions. We shall confine ourselves here to drawing attention to a few facts of special significance.

In the first place the Confessio Amantis is the earliest English book which made its way beyond the limits of its own language. There exists a Spanish translation, dating apparently from the very beginning of the fifteenth century, in which reference is made also to a Portuguese version, not known to be now in existence, on which perhaps the Castilian was based. This double translation into contemporary languages of the Continent must denote that the writer’s fame was not merely insular in his life-time.

Secondly, with regard to the position of this book in the sixteenth century, the expressions used by Berthelette seem to me to imply something more than a mere formal tribute. This printer, who is especially distinguished by his interest in language, in the preface to his edition of the Confessio Amantis most warmly sets forth his author as a model of pure English, contrasting his native simplicity with the extravagant affectations of style and[Pg viii] language which were then in fashion. In fact, when we compare the style of Gower in writing of love with that which we find in some of the books which were at that time issuing from the press, we cannot help feeling that the recommendation was justified.

Again, nearly a century later a somewhat striking testimony to the position of Gower as a standard author is afforded by Ben Jonson’s English Grammar. The syntax contains about a hundred and thirty illustrative quotations, and of these about thirty are from Gower. Chaucer is cited twenty-five times, Lydgate and Sir Thomas More each about fourteen, the other chief authorities being Norton, Jewel, Fox, Sir John Cheke and the English Bible.

Finally, our author’s popularity and established position as a story-teller is decisively vouched for by the partly Shakesperian play of Pericles. Plots of plays were usually borrowed without acknowledgement; but here, a plot being taken from the Confessio Amantis, the opportunity is seized of bringing Gower himself on the stage to act as Prologue to four out of the five acts, speaking in the measure of his own octosyllabic couplet,

‘To sing a song that old was sung
From ashes ancient Gower is come,’ &c.

The book was so well known and the author so well established in reputation, that a play evidently gained credit by connecting itself with his name.

The following are the principal references to Gower in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The author of The King’s Quair dedicates his poem to the memory (or rather to the poems) of his masters Gower and Chaucer. Hoccleve calls him ‘my maister Gower,’

‘Whos vertu I am insufficient
For to descrive.’

John Walton of Osney, the metrical translator of Boethius, writes,

‘To Chaucer, that is flour of rhethorique
In english tonge and excellent poete,
This wot I wel, no thing may I do like,
Though so that I of makinge entermete;
And Gower, that so craftely doth trete
As in his book<es> of moralite,
Though I to hem in makinge am unmete,
Yit moste I schewe it forth that is in me.’

Bokenham in his Lives of the Saints repeatedly speaks of Gower, Chaucer and Lydgate, the last of whom was then still living, as the three great lights[Pg ix] of English literature. Caxton printed the Confessio Amantis in 1483, and it seems to have been one of the most popular productions of his press.

In the sixteenth century Gower appears by the side of Chaucer in Dunbar’s Lament for the Makaris and in Lindsay’s poems. Hawes in the Pastime of Pleasure classes him with Chaucer and his beloved Lydgate, and Skelton introduces him as first in order of time among the English poets who are mentioned in the Garland of Laurel,

‘I saw Gower that first garnysshed our Englysshe rude,
And maister Chaucer,’ &c.,

a testimony which is not quite consistent with that in the Lament for Philip Sparow,

‘Gower’s Englysh is old
And of no value is told,
His mater is worth gold
And worthy to be enrold.’

Barclay in the Preface of his Mirour of Good Manners (printed 1516) states that he has been desired by his ‘Master,’ Sir Giles Alington, to abridge and amend the Confessio Amantis, but has declined the task, chiefly on moral grounds. The work he says would not be suitable to his age and order (he was a priest and monk of Ely),

‘And though many passages therin be commendable,
Some processes appeare replete with wantonnes:
....... .
For age it is a folly and jeopardie doubtlesse,
And able for to rayse bad name contagious,
To write, reade or commen of thing venerious.’

Leland had some glimmering perception of the difference between Chaucer and Gower in literary merit; but Bale suggests that our author was ‘alter Dantes ac Petrarcha’ (no less), adding the remark, taken perhaps from Berthelette’s preface, ‘sui temporis lucerna habebatur ad docte scribendum in lingua vulgariA.’ In Bullein’s Dialogue against the Fever Pestilence (1564) Gower is represented as sitting next to the Classical poets, Homer, Hesiod, Ennius and Lucan. Puttenham in the Art of English Poesie (1589), and Sidney in the Defence of Poesie (1595), equally class Gower and Chaucer together. The latter, illustrating his thesis that the first writers of each country were the poets, says, ‘So among the Romans were Livius Andronicus and Ennius, so in the Italian language ... the poets Dante, Boccace and Petrarch, so in our English, Gower and Chaucer, after whom, encouraged and delighted with their excellent foregoing, others have followed to beautify our mother tongue, as well in the same kind as in other arts.’

In Robert Greene’s Vision, printed about 1592, Chaucer and Gower appear as the accepted representatives of the pleasant and the sententious styles in story-telling, and compete with one another in tales upon a given subject, the cure of jealousy. The introduction of Gower into the play of Pericles, Prince of Tyre has already been referred to.

The uncritical exaggeration of Gower’s literary merits, which formerly prevailed, has been of some disadvantage to him in[Pg x] modern times. The comparison with Chaucer, which was so repeatedly suggested, could not but be unfavourable to him; and modern critics, instead of endeavouring to appreciate fairly such merits as he has, have often felt called upon to offer him up as a sacrifice to the honour of Chaucer, who assuredly needs no such addition to his glory. The true critical procedure is rather the opposite of this. Gower’s early popularity and reputation are facts to be reckoned with, in addition to the literary merit which we in our generation may find in his work, and neither students of Middle English, nor those who aim at tracing the influences under which the English language and literature developed during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, can afford to leave Gower’s English work out of their account.


i. Literary Characteristics.—The reason of the success of the Confessio Amantis was naturally the fact that it supplied a popular need. After endeavouring to ‘give an account of his stewardship’ in various ways as a moralist, the author at length found his true vocation, and this time happily in his native tongue, as a teller of stories. The rest is all machinery, sometimes poetical and interesting, sometimes tiresome and clumsy, but the stories are the main thing. The perception of the popular taste may have come to him partly through the success of Chaucer in the Legend of Good Women, and the simple but excellent narrative style which he thereupon developed must have been a new revelation of his powers to himself as well as to others. It is true that he does not altogether drop the character of the moralist, but he has definitely and publicly resigned the task of setting society generally to rights,

‘It stant noght in my sufficance
So grete thinges to compasse,
Forthi the Stile of my writinges
Fro this day forth I thenke change
And speke of thing is noght so strange,’ &c. (i. 4 ff.)

He covers his retreat indeed by dwelling upon the all-pervading influence of Love in the world and the fact that all the evils of society may be said to spring from the want of it; but this is little more than a pretext. Love is the theme partly because it supplies[Pg xi] a convenient framework for the design, and partly perhaps out of deference to a royal command. There is no reason to doubt the statement in the first version of the Prologue about the meeting of the author with Richard II on the river, and that he then received suggestions for a book, which the king promised to accept and read. It may easily be supposed that Richard himself suggested love as the subject, being a matter in which, as we know from Froissart, he was apt to take delight. ‘Adont me demanda le roy de quoy il traittoit. Je luy dis, “D’amours.” De ceste response fut-il tous resjouys, et regarda dedens le livre en plusieurs lieux et y lisyB.’ It was certainly to the credit of the young king that he should have discerned literary merit in the work of the grave monitor who had so lectured him upon his duties in the Vox Clamantis, and should have had some part in encouraging him to set his hand to a more promising task; and if it be the fact that he suggested love as the subject, we cannot but admire both the sense of humour displayed by the prince and the address with which our author acquitted himself of the task proposed.

The idea of the Confession was no doubt taken from the Roman de la Rose, where the priest of Nature, whose name is Genius, hears her confession; but it must be allowed that Gower has made much better use of it. Nature occupies herself in expounding the system of the universe generally, and in confessing at great length not her own faults but those of Man, whom she repents of having made. Her tone is not at all that of a penitent, though she may be on her knees, and Genius does little or nothing for her in reply except to agree rather elaborately with her view that, if proper precautions had been taken, Mars and Venus might easily have outwitted Vulcan. Gower on the other hand has made the Confession into a framework which will conveniently hold any number of stories upon every possible subject, and at the same time he has preserved for the most part the due propriety of character and situation in the two actors. By giving the scheme an apparent limitation to the subject of love he has not in fact necessarily limited the range of narrative, for there is no impropriety in illustrating by a tale the general nature of a vice or virtue before making the special application to cases which concern lovers, and this special application, made with all due solemnity, has often a character of piquancy in which the moral tale[Pg xii] pure and simple would be wanting. Add to this that the form adopted tends itself to a kind of quasi-religious treatment of the subject, which was fully in accordance with the taste of the day, and produces much of that impression of quaintness and charm with which we most of us associate our first acquaintance with the Confessio Amantis.

The success of the work—for a success it is in spite of its faults—is due to several merits. The first of these is the author’s unquestionable talent for story-telling. He has little of the dramatic power or the humour which distinguish Chaucer, but he tells his tales in a well-ordered and interesting manner, does not break the thread by digressions, never tires of the story before it is finished, as Chaucer does so obviously and so often, and carries his reader through with him successfully to the end in almost every case. His narrative is a clear, if shallow, stream, rippling pleasantly over the stones and unbroken either by dams or cataracts. The materials of course are not original, but Gower is by no means a slavish follower in detail of his authorities; the proportions and arrangement of the stories are usually his own and often show good judgement. Moreover he not seldom gives a fresh turn to a well-known story, as in the instances of Jephthah and Saul, or makes a pretty addition to it, as is the case in some of the tales from Ovid. Almost the only story in which the interest really flags is the longest, the tale of Apollonius of Tyre, which fills up so much of the eighth book and was taken as the basis of the plot of Pericles; and this was in its original form so loose and rambling a series of incidents, that hardly any skill could have completely redeemed it. There is no doubt that this gift of clear and interesting narrative was the merit which most appealed to the popular taste, the wholesome appetite for stories being at that time not too well catered for, and that the plainness of the style was an advantage rather than a drawback.

Tastes will differ of course as to the merits of the particular stories, but some may be selected as incontestably good. The tale of Mundus and Paulina in the first book is excellently told, and so is that of Alboin and Rosemund. The best of the second book are perhaps the False Bachelor and the legend of Constantine and Silvester, in the latter of which the author has greatly improved upon his materials. In the third book the tale of Canace is most pathetically rendered, far better than in Ovid, so that in[Pg xiii] spite of Chaucer’s denunciation his devoted follower Lydgate could not resist the temptation of borrowing it. The fourth book, which altogether is of special excellence, gives us Rosiphelee, Phyllis, and the very poetically told tale of Ceix and Alceone. The fifth has Jason and Medea, a most admirable example of sustained narrative, simple and yet effective and poetical, perhaps on the whole Gower’s best performance: also the oriental tale of Adrian and Bardus, and the well told story of Tereus and Philomela. In the seventh we shall find the Biblical story of Gideon excellently rendered, the Rape of Lucrece, and the tale of Virginia. These may be taken as specimens of Gower’s narrative power at its best, and by the degree of effectiveness which he attains in them and the manner in which he has used his materials, he may fairly be judged as a story-teller.

As regards style and poetical qualities we find much that is good in the narratives. Force and picturesqueness certainly cannot be denied to the tale of Medea, with its description of the summer sea glistening in the sun, which blazes down upon the returning hero, and from the golden fleece by his side flashes a signal of success to Medea in her watch-tower, as she prays for her chosen knight. Still less can we refuse to recognize the poetical power of the later phases of the same story, first the midnight rovings of Medea in search of enchantments,

‘The world was stille on every side;
With open hed and fot al bare,
Hir her tosprad sche gan to fare,
Upon hir clothes gert sche was,
Al specheles and on the gras
Sche glod forth as an Addre doth:
Non otherwise sche ne goth,
Til sche cam to the freisshe flod,
And there a while sche withstod.
Thries sche torned hire aboute,
And thries ek sche gan doun loute
And in the flod sche wette hir her,
And thries on the water ther
Sche gaspeth with a drecchinge onde,
And tho sche tok hir speche on honde.’ (v. 3962 ff.),

and again later, when the charms are set in action, 4059 ff., a passage of extraordinary picturesqueness, but too long to be quoted here. We do not forget the debt to Ovid, but these descriptions are far more detailed and forcible than the original.

[Pg xiv]

For a picture of a different kind, also based upon Ovid, we may take the description of the tears of Lucrece for her husband, and the reviving beauty in her face when he appears,

‘With that the water in hire yhe
Aros, that sche ne myhte it stoppe,
And as men sen the dew bedroppe
The leves and the floures eke,
Riht so upon hire whyte cheke
The wofull salte teres felle.
Whan Collatin hath herd hire telle
The menynge of hire trewe herte,
Anon with that to hire he sterte,
And seide, “Lo, mi goode diere,
Nou is he come to you hiere,
That ye most loven, as ye sein.”
And sche with goodly chiere ayein
Beclipte him in hire armes smale,
And the colour, which erst was pale,
To Beaute thanne was restored,
So that it myhte noght be mored’ (vii. 4830 ff.),

a passage in which Gower, with his natural taste for simplicity, has again improved upon his classical authority, and may safely challenge comparison with Chaucer, who has followed Ovid more literally.

It is worth mention that Gower’s descriptions of storms at sea are especially vivid and true, so that we are led to suppose that he had had more than a mere literary acquaintance with such things. Such for instance is the account of the shipwreck of the Greek fleet, iii. 981 ff., and of the tempests of which Apollonius is more than once the victim, as viii. 604 ff., and in general nautical terms and metaphors, of some of which the meaning is not quite clear, seem to come readily from his pen.

Next to the simple directness of narrative style which distinguishes the stories themselves, we must acknowledge a certain attractiveness in the setting of them. The Lover decidedly engages our interest: we can understand his sorrows and his joys, his depression when his mistress will not listen to the verses which he has written for her, and his delight when he hears men speak her praises. We can excuse his frankly confessed envy, malice and hatred in all matters which concern his rivals in her love. His feelings are described in a very natural manner, the hesitation and forgetfulness in her presence, and the self-reproach[Pg xv] afterwards, the eagerness to do her small services, to accompany her to mass, to lift her into her saddle, to ride by her carriage, the delight of being present in her chamber, of singing to her or reading her the tale of Troilus, or if no better may be, of watching her long and slender fingers at work on her weaving or embroidery. Sometimes she will not stay with him, and then he plays with the dog or with the birds in the cage, and converses with the page of her chamber—anything as an excuse to stay; and when it grows late and he must perforce depart, he goes indeed, but returns with the pretence of having forgotten something, in order that he may bid her good-night once more. He rises in the night and looks out of his window over the houses towards the chamber where she sleeps, and loses himself in imagination of the love-thefts which he would commit if by any necromancy he had the power. Yet he is not extravagantly romantic: he will go wherever his lady bids him, but he will not range the world in arms merely in order to gain renown, losing his lady perhaps in the meantime at home. We take his side when he complains of the Confessor’s want of feeling for a pain which he does not himself experience, and his readiness to prescribe for a wound of the heart as if it were a sore of the heel. Even while we smile, we compassionate the lover who is at last disqualified on account of age, and recommended to make a ‘beau retret’ while there is yet time.

But there is also another character in whom we are interested, and that is the lady herself. Gower certainly appreciated something of the delicacy and poetical refinement which ideal love requires, and this appreciation he shows also in his Balades; but here we have something more than this. The figure of the lady, which we see constantly in the background of the dialogue, is both attractive and human. We recognize in her a creature of flesh and blood, no goddess indeed, as her lover himself observes, but a charming embodiment of womanly grace and refinement. She is surrounded by lovers, but she is wise and wary. She is courteous and gentle, but at the same time firm: she will not gladly swear, and therefore says nay without an oath, but it is a decisive nay to any who are disposed to presume. She does not neglect her household duties merely because a lover insists upon hanging about her, but leaves him to amuse himself how he may, while she busies herself elsewhere. If she has leisure and can sit[Pg xvi] down to her embroidery, he may read to her if he will, but it must be some sound romance, and not his own rondels, balades, and virelays in praise of her. Custom allows him to kiss her when he takes his leave, but if he comes back on any pretext and takes his leave again, there is not often a second kiss permitted. She lets him lead her up to the offering in church, and ride by her side when she drives out, but she will take no presents from him, though with some of her younger admirers, whose passion she knows is a less serious matter, she is not so strict, but takes and gives freely. Even the description of her person is not offensive, as such descriptions almost always are. Her lover suspects that her soul may be in a perilous state, seeing that she has the power of saving a man’s life and yet suffers him to die, but he admits there is no more violence in her than in a child of three years old, and her words are as pleasant to him as the winds of the South. Usurious dealing is a vice of which he ventures to accuse her, seeing that he has given her his whole heart in return for a single glance of her eye, and she holds to the bargain and will not give heart for heart; but then, as the Confessor very justly replies, ‘she may be such that her one glance is worth thy whole heart many times over,’ and so he has sold his heart profitably, having in return much more than it is worth.

However, the literary characteristic which is perhaps most remarkable in the Confessio Amantis is connected rather with the form of expression than with the subject-matter. No justice is done to Gower unless it is acknowledged that the technical skill which he displays in his verse and the command which he has over the language for his own purposes is very remarkable. In the ease and naturalness of his movement within the fetters of the octosyllabic couplet he far surpasses his contemporaries, including Chaucer himself. Certain inversions of order and irregularities of construction he allows himself, and there are many stop-gaps of the conventional kind in the ordinary flow of his narrative; but in places where the matter requires it, his admirable management of the verse paragraph, the metrical smoothness of his lines, attained without unnatural accent or forced order of words, and the neatness with which he expresses exactly what he has to say within the precise limits which he lays down for himself, show a finished mastery of expression which[Pg xvii] is surprising in that age of half-developed English style, and in a man who had trained himself rather in French and Latin than in English composition. Such a sentence as the following, for example, seems to flow from him with perfect ease, there is no halting in the metre, no hesitation or inversion for the sake of the rhyme, it expresses just what it has to express, no more and no less:

’Til that the hihe king of kinges,
Which seth and knoweth alle thinges,
Whos yhe mai nothing asterte,—
The privetes of mannes herte
Thei speke and sounen in his Ere
As thogh thei lowde wyndes were,—
He tok vengance upon this pride.’ (i. 2803 ff.)

Or again, as an example of a more colloquial kind,

‘And if thei techen to restreigne
Mi love, it were an ydel peine
To lerne a thing which mai noght be.
For lich unto the greene tree,
If that men toke his rote aweie,
Riht so myn herte scholde deie,
If that mi love be withdrawe.’ (iv. 2677 ff.)

There is nothing remarkable about the sentiment or expression in these passages, but they are perfectly simple and natural, and run into rhyming verse without disturbance of sense or accent; but such technical skill as we have here is extremely rare among the writers of the time. Chaucer had wider aims, and being an artist of an altogether superior kind, he attains, when at his best, to a higher level of achievement in versification as in other things; but he is continually attempting more than he can perform, he often aims at the million and misses the unit. His command over his materials is evidently incomplete, and he has not troubled himself to acquire perfection of craftsmanship, knowing that other things are more important,

‘And that I do no diligence
To shewe craft but o sentence.’

The result is that the most experienced reader often hesitates in his metre and is obliged to read lines over twice or even thrice, before he can satisfy himself how the poet meant his words to be accented and what exactly was the rhythm he intended. In fact, instead of smoothing the way for his reader, he often deliberately[Pg xviii] chooses to spare himself labour by taking every advantage, fair or unfair, of those licences of accent and syllable suppression for which the unstable condition of the literary language afforded scope. The reader of Gower’s verse is never interrupted in this manner except by the fault of a copyist or an editor; and when we come to examine the means by which the smoothness is attained, we feel that we have to do with a literary craftsman who by laborious training has acquired an almost perfect mastery over his tools. The qualities of which we are speaking are especially visible in the more formal style of utterance which belongs to the speeches, letters and epitaphs in our author’s tales. The reply of Constance to her questioner (ii. 1148 ff.) is a good example of the first:

‘Quod sche, “I am
A womman wofully bestad.
I hadde a lord, and thus he bad,
That I forth with my litel Sone
Upon the wawes scholden wone,
Bot what the cause was, I not:
Bot he which alle thinges wot
Yit hath, I thonke him, of his miht
Mi child and me so kept upriht,
That we be save bothe tuo.”’

And as longer instances we may point to the reflexions of the Emperor Constantine near the end of the same book (ii. 3243 ff.), and the prayer of Cephalus (iv. 3197-3252). The letters of Canace and of Penelope are excellent, each in its own way, and the epitaphs of Iphis (iv. 3674 ff.) and of Thaise (viii. 1533 ff.) are both good examples of the simple yet finished style, e.g.

‘Hier lith, which slowh himself, Iphis,
For love of Araxarathen:
And in ensample of tho wommen,
That soffren men to deie so,
Hire forme a man mai sen also,
Hou it is torned fleissh and bon
Into the figure of a Ston:
He was to neysshe and sche to hard.
Be war forthi hierafterward;
Ye men and wommen bothe tuo,
Ensampleth you of that was tho.’ (iv. 3674 ff.)

In a word, the author’s literary sphere may be a limited one, and his conception of excellence within that sphere may fall[Pg xix] very far short of the highest standard, but such as his ideals are, he is able very completely to realize them. The French and English elements of the language, instead of still maintaining a wilful strife, as is so often the case in Chaucer’s metre, are here combined in harmonious alliance. More especially we must recognize the fact that in Gower’s English verse we have a consistent and for the moment a successful attempt to combine the French syllabic with the English accentual system of metre, and this without sacrificing the purity of the language as regards forms of words and grammatical inflexion. We shall see in our subsequent investigations how careful and ingenious he is in providing by means of elision and otherwise for the legitimate suppression of those weak terminations which could not find a place as syllables in the verse without disturbing its accentual flow, while at the same time the sense of their existence was not to be allowed to disappear. The system was too difficult and complicated to be possible except for a specially trained hand, and Gower found no successor in his enterprise; but the fact that the attempt was made is at least worthy of note.

With considerable merits both of plan and execution the Confessio Amantis has also no doubt most serious faults. The scheme itself, with its conception of a Confessor who as priest has to expound a system of morality, while as a devotee of Venus he is concerned only with the affairs of love (i. 237-280), can hardly be called altogether a consistent or happy one. The application of morality to matters of love and of love to questions of morality is often very forced, though it may sometimes be amusing in its gravity. The Confessor is continually forgetting one or the other of his two characters, and the moralist is found justifying unlawful love or the servant of Venus singing the praises of virginity. Moreover the author did not resist the temptation to express his views on society in a Prologue which is by no means sufficiently connected with the general scheme of the poem, though it is in part a protest against division and discord, that is to say, lack of love. Still worse is the deliberate departure from the general plan which we find in the seventh book, where on pretence of affording relief and recreation to the wearied penitent, the Confessor, who says that he has little or no understanding except of love, is allowed to make a digression which embraces the whole field of human knowledge, but more[Pg xx] especially deals with the duties of a king, a second political pamphlet in fact, in which the stories of kings ruined by lust or insolence, of Sardanapalus, Rehoboam, Tarquin, and the rest, are certainly intended to some extent as an admonition of the author’s royal patron. The petition addressed to Rehoboam by his people against excessive taxation reads exactly like one of the English parliamentary protests of the period against the extravagant demands of the crown. Again, the fifth book, which even without this would be disproportionately long, contains an absolutely unnecessary account of the various religions of the world, standing there apparently for no reason except to show the author’s learning, and reaching the highest pitch of grotesque absurdity when the Confessor occupies himself in demolishing the claim of Venus to be accounted a goddess, and that too without even the excuse of having forgotten for the moment that he is supposed to be her priest. Minor excrescences of the same kind are to be found in the third book, where the lawfulness of war is discussed, and in the fourth, where there is a dissertation on the rise of the Arts, and especially of Alchemy. All that can be said is that these digressions were very common in the books of the age—the Roman de la Rose, at least in the part written by Jean de Meun, is one of the worst offenders.

Faults of detail it would be easy enough to point out. The style is at times prosaic and the matter uninteresting, the verse is often eked out with such commonplace expressions and helps to rhyme as were used by the writers of the time, both French or English. Sometimes the sentences are unduly spun out or the words and clauses are awkwardly transposed for the sake of the uninterrupted smoothness of the verse. The attainment of this object moreover is not always an advantage, and sometimes the regularity of the metre and the inevitable recurrence of the rhyme produces a tiresome result. On the whole however the effect is not unpleasing, ‘the ease and regularity with which the verse flows breathes a peaceful contentment, which communicates itself to the reader, and produces the same effect upon the ear as the monotonous but not wearisome splashing of a fountainC.’ Moreover, as has already been pointed out, when the writer is at his best, the rhyme is kept duly in the background, and the paragraph is constructed quite independently of the couplet, so that this[Pg xxi] form of metre proves often to be a far better vehicle for the narrative than might have been at first supposed.

ii. Date and Circumstances.—The Confessio Amantis in its earliest form bears upon the face of it the date 1390 (Prol. 331 margin)D, and we have no reason to doubt that this was the year in which it was first completed. The author tells us that it was written at the command of King Richard II, whom he met while rowing on the Thames at London, and who invited him to come into his barge to speak with him. It is noticeable, however, that even this first edition has a dedication to Henry earl of Derby, contained in the Latin lines at the end of the poemE, so that it is not quite accurate to say that the dedication was afterwards changed, but rather that this dedication was made more prominent and introduced into the text of the poem, while at the same time the personal reference to the king in the Prologue was suppressed. If the date referred to above had been observed by former editors, the speculations first of Pauli and then of Professor Hales, tending to throw back the completion of the first recension of the Confessio Amantis to the year 1386, or even 1383, would have been spared. Their conclusions rest, moreover, on the purest guess-work. The former argues that the preface and the epilogueF in their first form date from the year 1386, because from that year the king (who was then nineteen years old) ‘developed those dangerous qualities which estranged from him, amongst others, the poet’; and Professor Hales (Athenæum, Dec. 1881) contends that the references to the young king’s qualities as a ruler, ‘Justice medled with pite,’ &c. certainly point to the years immediately succeeding the Peasants’ revolt (a time when Gower did not regard him as a responsible ruler at all, but excuses him for the evil proceedings of the government on account of his tender age)G,[Pg xxii] that the reference to Richard’s desire to establish peace (viii. 3014* ff.) must belong to the period of the negotiations with the French and the subsequent truce, 1383-84, though Professor Hales is himself quite aware that negotiations for peace were proceeding also in 1389, and finally that the mention of ‘the newe guise of Beawme’ must indicate the very year succeeding the king’s marriage to Anne of Bohemia in 1382, whereas in fact the Bohemian fashions would no doubt continue to prevail at court, and still be accounted new, throughout the queen’s lifetime. It is on such grounds as these that we are told that the Confessio Amantis in its first form cannot have been written later than the year 1385 and was probably as early as 1383.

All such conjectures are destroyed by the fact that the manuscripts of the first recension bear the date 1390 at the place cited, and though this does not absolutely exclude a later date for the completion of the book, it is decisive against an earlier one. Moreover, the fact that in the final recension this date is omitted (and deliberately omitted, as we know from the erasure in the Fairfax MS.) points to the conclusion that it is to be regarded definitely as a date of publication, and therefore was inappropriate for a later edition.

This conclusion agrees entirely with the other indications, and they are sufficiently precise, though the fact that one of these also has unluckily escaped the notice of the editors has caused it to be generally overlookedH.

The form of epilogue which was substituted for that of the first recension, and in which the over-sanguine praise of Richard as a ruler is cancelled, bears in the margin the date of the fourteenth year of his reign (viii. 2973 margin), ‘Hic in anno quarto decimo Regis Ricardi orat pro statu regni,’ &c. Now the fourteenth year of King Richard II was from June 21, 1390, to the same day of 1391. We must therefore suppose that the change in this part of the book took place, in some copies at least, within a few months of its first completion.

Thirdly, we have an equally precise date for the alteration in the Prologue, by which all except a formal mention of Richard II is[Pg xxiii] excluded, while the dedication to Henry of Lancaster is introduced into the text of the poem; and here the time indicated is the sixteenth year of King Richard (Prol. 25), a date which appears also in the margin of some copies here and at l. 97, so that we may assume that this final change of form took place in the year 1392-93, that is, not later than June 1393.

Having thus every step dated for us by the author, we may, if we think it worth while, proceed to conjecture what were the political events which suggested his action; but in such a case as this it is evidently preposterous to argue first from the political conditions, of which as they personally affected our author and his friends we can only be very imperfectly informed, and then to endeavour to force the given dates into accordance with our own conclusionsI.

It will be observed from the above dates that we are led to infer two stages of alteration, and the expectation is raised of finding the poem in some copies with the epilogue rewritten but the preface left in its original state. This expectation is fulfilled. The Bodley MS. 294 gives a text of this kind, and it is certain that there were others of the same form, for Berthelette used for his edition a manuscript of this kind, which was not identical with that which we have.

In discussing the import of the various changes introduced by the author it is of some importance to bear in mind the fact already mentioned that even the first issue of the Confessio Amantis had a kind of dedication to Henry of Lancaster in the Latin lines with which it concluded,

‘Derbeie comiti, recolunt quem laude periti,
Vade liber purus sub eo requiesce futurus.’

This seems rather to dispose of the idea that a dedication to Henry would be inconsistent with loyalty to Richard, a suggestion which would hardly have been made in the year 1390, or even 1393.[Pg xxiv] No doubt those copies which contained in the preface the statement that the book was written at the command of the king and for his sake, and in the epilogue the presentation of the completed book to him (3050* ff.), if they had also appended to them the Latin lines which commend the work to the earl of Derby, may be said to have contained in a certain sense a double dedication, the compliment being divided between the king and his brilliant cousin, and very probably a copy which was intended for the court would be without the concluding lines, as we find to be the case with some manuscripts; but the suggestion that the expressions of loyalty and the praises of Richard as a ruler which we find in the first epilogue are properly to be called inconsistent with a dedication of the poem to Henry of Lancaster, his cousin and counsellor, is plausible only in the light of later events, which could not be foreseen by the poet, in the course of which Henry became definitely the opponent of Richard and finally took the lead in deposing him. It is true that the earl of Derby had been one of the lords appellant in 1387, but after the king’s favourites had been set aside, he was for the time reconciled to Richard, and he could not in any sense be regarded as the leader of an opposition party. That Gower, when he became disgusted with Richard II, should have set Henry’s name in the Prologue in place of that of the king, as representing his ideal of knighthood and statesmanship, may be regarded either as a coincidence with the future events, or as indicating that Gower had some discrimination in selecting a possible saviour of society; but it is certain that at this time the poet can have had no definite idea that his hero would become a candidate for the throne.

The political circumstances of the period during which the Confessio Amantis was written and revised are not very easy to disentangle. We may take it as probable that the plan of its composition, under the combined influence of Chaucer’s Legend of Good WomenJ and of the royal command, may have been laid about the year 1386. Before this time Richard would scarcely have been regarded by Gower as responsible for the government, and he would naturally look hopefully upon the young sovereign, then just entering upon his duties, as one who with proper admonition and due choice of advisers might turn out to be a good[Pg xxv] ruler. During the succeeding years the evil counsellors of the king were removed by the action of the lords appellant and the Parliament, and in the year 1389 a moderate and national policy seemed to have been finally adopted by the king, with William of Wykeham as Chancellor and the young earl of Derby, who had been one of the appellants but had quarrelled with his uncle Gloucester, among the king’s trusted advisers. By the light of subsequent events Gower condemned the whole behaviour of the king during this period as malicious and treacherous, but this could hardly have been his judgement of it at the time, for Richard’s dissimulation, if dissimulation it were, was deep enough to deceive all parties. Consequently, up to the year 1390 at least, he may have continued, though with some misgivings, to trust in the king’s good intentions and to regard him as a ruler who might effectually heal the divisions of the land, as he had already taken steps to restore peace to it outwardly. It is quite possible also that something may have come to his knowledge in the course of the year 1390-91 which shook his faith. It was at this time, in July 1390, just at the beginning of the fourteenth year of King Richard, that his hero the earl of Derby left the court and the kingdom to exercise his chivalry in Prussia, and for this there may have been a good reason. We know too little in detail of the events of the year to be able to say exactly what causes of jealousy may have arisen between the king and his cousin, who was nearly exactly of an age with him and seems to have attracted much more attention than Richard himself at the jousts of St. Inglevert in May of this year. Whatever feeling there may have been on the side of the earl of Derby would doubtless reflect itself in the minds of his friends and supporters, and something of this kind may have deepened into certitude the suspicions which Gower no doubt already had in his heart of the ultimate intentions of Richard II. The result was that in some copies at least of the Confessio Amantis the concluding praises of the king as a ruler were removed and lines of a more general character on the state of the kingdom and the duties of a king were substituted, but still there was no mention of the earl of Derby except as before in the final Latin lines. Two years later, 1392-93, when the earl of Derby had fairly won his spurs and at the age of twenty-five might be regarded as a model of chivalry, the mention of Richard as the suggester of the work was removed,[Pg xxvi] and the name of Henry set in the text as the sole object of the dedication.

The date sixteenth year must certainly be that of this last change, but the occasion doubtless was the sending of a presentation copy to Henry, and this would hardly amount to publication. The author probably did not feel called upon publicly to affront the king by removing his name and praises, either at the beginning or the end, from the copies generally issued during his reign. Whether or not this conduct justifies the charge of time-serving timidity, which has been made against Gower, I cannot undertake to decide. He was, however, in fact rather of an opposite character, even pedantically stiff in passing judgement severely on those in high places, and not bating a syllable of what he thought proper for himself to say or for a king to hear, though while the king was young and might yet shake himself free from evil influences he was willing to take as favourable a view of his character as possible. Probably he was for some time rather in two minds about the matter, but in any case ‘timid and obsequious’ are hardly the right epithets for the author of the Vox Clamantis.

Before leaving this subject something should perhaps be said upon a matter which has attracted no little attention, namely the supposed quarrel between the author of the Confessio Amantis and Chaucer. It is well known that the first recension of our poem has a passage referring to Chaucer in terms of eulogy (viii. 2941*-57*), and that this was omitted when the epilogue was rewritten. This fact has been brought into connexion with the apparent reference to Gower in the Canterbury Tales, where the Man of Law in the preamble to his tale disclaims on Chaucer’s behalf such ‘cursed stories’ as those of Canace and Apollonius, because they treat of incest. It has been thought that this was meant for a serious attack on Gower, and that he took offence at it and erased the praise of Chaucer from the Confessio Amantis.

It is known of course that the two poets were on personally friendly terms, not only from the dedication of Troilus, but from the fact that when Chaucer was sent on a mission to the Continent in 1378, he appointed Gower one of his attorneys in his absence. It is possible that their friendship was interrupted by a misunderstanding, but it may be doubted whether there is sufficient proof of this in the facts which have been brought forward.

[Pg xxvii]

In the first place I question whether Chaucer’s censure is to be taken very seriously. That it refers to Gower I have little doubt, but that the attack was a humorous one is almost equally clear. Chaucer was aware that some of his own tales were open to objection on the score of morality, and when he saw a chance of scoring a point on the very ground where his friend thought himself strongest, he seized it with readiness. Some degree of seriousness there probably is, for Chaucer’s sound and healthy view of life instinctively rejected the rather morbid horrors to which he refers; but it may easily be suspected that he was chiefly amused by the opportunity of publicly lecturing the moralist, who perhaps had privately remonstrated with himK. As to the notion that Chaucer had been seriously offended by the occasional and very trifling resemblances of phrase in Gower’s tale of Constance with his own version of the same original, it is hardly worth discussion.

There is of course the possibility that Gower may have taken it more seriously than it was meant, and though he was not quite so devoid of a sense of humour as it has been the fashion to supposeL, yet he may well have failed to enjoy a public attack, however humorous, upon two of his tales. It must be observed, however, that if we suppose the passage in question to have been the cause of the excision of Gower’s lines about Chaucer, we must assume that the publication of it took place precisely within this period of a few months which elapsed between the first and the second versions of Gower’s epilogue.

Before further considering the question as to what was actually our author’s motive in omitting the tribute to his brother poet, we should do well to observe that this tribute was apparently allowed to stand in some copies of the rewritten epilogue. There is one good manuscript, that in the possession of Lord Middleton,[Pg xxviii] in which the verses about Chaucer not only stand in combination with the new form of epilogue, but in a text which has also the revised preface, dated two years laterM. Hence it seems possible that the exclusion of the Chaucer verses was rather accidental than deliberate, and from this and other considerations an explanation may be derived which will probably seem too trivial, but nevertheless is perhaps the true one. We know from the Fairfax MS. of the Confessio Amantis and from several original copies of the Vox Clamantis that the author’s method of rewriting his text was usually to erase a certain portion, sometimes a whole column or page, and substitute a similar number of lines of other matter. It will be observed here that for the thirty lines 2941*-2970*, including the reference to Chaucer, are substituted thirty lines from which that reference is excluded. After this come four Latin lines replacing an equal number in the original recension, and then follow fifteen lines, 2971-2985, which are the same except a single line in the two editions. It may be that the author, wishing to mention the departure of the Confessor and the thoughts which he had upon his homeward way, sacrificed the Chaucer verses as an irrelevance, in order to find room for this matter between the Adieu of Venus and the lines beginning ‘He which withinne daies sevene,’ which he did not intend to alter, and that this proceeding, carried out upon a copy of the first recension which has not come down to us, determined the general form of the text for the copies with epilogue rewritten, though in a few instances care was taken to combine the allusion to Chaucer with the other alterations. Such an explanation as this would be in accord with the methods of the author in some other respects; for, as we shall see later on, the most probable explanation of the omission in the third recension of the additional passages in the fifth and seventh books, is that a first recension copy was used in a material sense as a basis for the third recension text, and it was therefore not convenient to introduce alterations which increased the number of lines in the body of the work.

[Pg xxix]

iii. Analysis.


1-92. Preface. By the books of those that were before us we are instructed, and therefore it is good that we also should write something which may remain after our days. But to write of wisdom only is not good. I would rather go by the middle path and make a book of pleasure and profit both: and since few write in English, my meaning is to make a bookN for England’s sake now in the sixteenth year of King Richard. Things have changed and books are less beloved than in former days, but without them the fame and the example of the virtuous would be lost. Thus I, simple scholar as I am, purpose to write a book touching both upon the past and the present, and though I have long been sick, yet I will endeavour as I may to provide wisdom for the wise. For this prologue belongs all to wisdom, and by it the wise may recall to their memory the fortunes of the world; but after the prologue the book shall be of Love, which does great wonders among men. Also I shall speak of the vices and virtues of rulers. But as my wit is too small to admonish every man, I submit my work for correction to my own lord Henry of Lancaster, with whom my heart is in accord, and whom God has proclaimed the model of knighthood. God grant I may well achieve the work which I have taken in hand.

93-192. Temporal Rulers. In the time past things went well: there was plenty and riches, with honour for noble deeds, and each estate kept its due place. Justice was upheld and the people obeyed their rulers. Man’s heart was then shown in his face and his thought expressed by his words, virtue was exalted and vice abased. Now all is changed, and above all discord and hatred have taken the place of love, there is no stable peace, no justice and righteousness. All[Pg xxx] kingdoms are alike in this, and heaven alone knows what is to be done. The sole remedy is that those who are the world’s guides should follow good counsel and should be obeyed by their people; and if king and council were at one, it might be hoped that the war would be brought to an end, which is so much against the peace of Christ’s religion and from which no land gets any good. May God, who is above all things, give that peace of which the lands have need.

193-498. The Church. Formerly the life of the clergy was an example to all, there was no simony, no disputes in the Church, no ambition for worldly honour. Pride was held a vice and humility a virtue. Alms were given to the poor and the clergy gave themselves to preaching and to prayer. Thus Christ’s faith was first taught, but now it is otherwise. Simony and worldly strife prevail; and if priests take part in wars, I know not who shall make the peace. But heaven is far and the world is near, and they regard nothing but vainglory and covetousness, so that the tithe goes at once to the war, as though Christ could not do them right by other ways. That which should bring salvation to the world is now the cause of evil: the prelates are such as Gregory wrote of, who desire a charge in order that they may grow rich and great, and the faith is hindered thereby. Ambition and avarice have destroyed charity; Sloth is their librarian and delicacy has put away their abstinence. Moreover Envy everywhere burns in the clergy like the fire of Etna, as we may see now [in this year of grace 1390] at Avignon. To see the Church thus fall between two stools is a cause of sorrow to us all: God grant that it may go well at last with him who has the truth. But as a fire spreads while men are slothfully drinking, so this schism causes the new sect of Lollardy to spring up, and many another heresy among the clergy themselves. It were better to dike and delve and have the true faith, than to know all that the Bible says and err as some of these do. If men had before their eyes the virtues which Christ taught, they would not thus dispute about the Papacy. Each one attends to his own profit, but none to the general cause of the Church, and thus Christ’s fold is broken and the flock is devoured. The shepherds, intent upon worldly good, wound instead of healing, and rob the sheep unjustly of their wool. Nay, they drive them among the brambles, so that they may have the wool which the thorns tear off. If the wolf comes in the way, their staff is not at hand to defend the sheep, but they are ready enough to smite the sheep with it, if they offend ever so little. There are some indeed in whom virtue dwells, whom God has called as Aaron was called, but most follow Simon at the heels, whose chariot rolls upon wheels of covetousness and pride. They teach how good it is to clothe and feed the poor, yet of their own goods they do not distribute. They say that chastity should be preserved by abstinence, but they eat daintily and lie softly, and whether they preserve their chastity thereby, I dare not say:[Pg xxxi] I hear tales, but I will not understand. Yet the vice of the evil-doers is no reproof to the good, for every man shall bear his own works.

499-584. The Commons. As for the people, it is to be feared that that may happen which has already come to pass in sundry lands, that they may break the bounds and overflow in a ruinous flood. Everywhere there is lack of law and growth of error; all say that this world has gone wrong, and every one gives his judgement as to the cause; but he who looks inwards upon himself will be ready to excuse his God, in whom there is no default. The cause of evil is in ourselves. Some say it is fortune and some the planets, but in truth all depends upon man. No estate is secure, the fortune of it goes now up, now down, and all this is in consequence of man’s doings. In the Bible I find a tale which teaches that division is the chief cause why things may not endure, and that man himself is to blame for the changes which have overthrown kingdoms.

585-662. Nabugodonosor in a dream saw an image with the head and neck of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of steel, and the feet of mixed steel and clay. On the feet of this image fell a great stone which rolled down from a hill, and the image was destroyed. Daniel expounded this of the successive kingdoms of the world.

663-880. These were the Four Monarchies, of Babylon, of Persia, of the Greeks, and of the Romans. We are now in the last age, that of dissension and division, as shown by the state of the Empire and the Papacy. This is that which was designated by the feet of the image.

881-1088. We are near to the end of the world, as the apostle tells us. The world stands now divided like the feet of the image. Wars are general, and yet the clergy preach that charity is the foundation of all good deeds. Man is the cause of all the evil, and therefore the image bore the likeness of a man. The heavenly bodies, the air and the earth suffer change and corruption through the sin of man, who is in himself a little world. When he is disordered in himself, the elements are all at strife with him and with each other. Division is the cause of destruction. So it is with man, who has within him diverse principles which are at strife with one another, and in whom also there is a fatal division between the body and the soul, which led to the fall from a state of innocence. The confusion of tongues at the building of the tower of Babel was a further cause of division, and at last all peace and charity shall depart, and the stone shall fall. Thenceforward every man shall dwell either in heaven, where all is peace, or in hell, which is full of discord.

Would God that there were in these days any who could set peace on the earth, as Arion once by harping brought beasts and men into accord. But this is a matter which only God can direct.

[Pg xxxii]

Lib. I.

1-92. I cannot stretch my hand to heaven and set in order the world: so great a task is more than I am able to compass: I must let that alone and treat of other things. Therefore I think to change from this time forth the style of my writings, and to speak of a matter with which all the world has to do, and that is Love; wherein almost all are out of rule and measure, for no man is able to resist it or to find a remedy for it. If there be anything in this world which is governed blindly by fortune, it is love: this is a game in which no man knows whether he shall win or lose. I am myself one who belongs to this school, and I will tell what befel me not long since in regard to love, that others may take example thereby.

93-202. I fared forth to walk in the month of May, when every bird has chosen his mate and rejoices over the love which he has achieved; but I was further off from mine than earth is from heaven. So to the wood I went, not to sing with the birds, but to weep and lament; and after a time I fell to the ground and wished for death. Then I looked up to the heaven and prayed the god and the goddess of love to show me some grace. Anon I saw them; and he, the king of love, passed me by with angry look and cast at me a fiery lance, which pierced through my heart. But the queen remained, and asked me who I was, and bade me make known my malady. I told her that I had served her long and asked only my due wage, but she frowned and said that there were many pretenders, who in truth had done no service, and bade me tell the truth and show forth all my sickness. ‘That can I well do,’ I replied, ‘if my life may last long enough.’ Then she looked upon me and said, ‘My will is first that thou confess thyself to my priest.’ And with that she called Genius, her priest, and he came forth and sat down to hear my shrift.

203-288. This worthy priest bade me tell what I had felt for love’s sake, both the joy and the sorrow; and I fell down devoutly on my knees and prayed him to question me from point to point, lest I should forget things which concerned my shrift, for my heart was disturbed so that I could not myself direct my wits. He replied that he was there to hear my confession and to question me: but he would not only speak of love; for by his office of priest he was bound to set forth the moral vices. Yet he would show also the properties of Love, for he was retained in the service of Venus and knew little of other things. His purpose was to expound the nature of every vice, as it became a priest to do, and so to apply his teaching to the matter of love that I should plainly understand his lore.

289-574. Sins of Seeing and Hearing. I prayed him to say his will, and I would obey, and he bade me confess as touching my five senses, which are the gates through which things come into the heart,[Pg xxxiii] and first of the principal and most perilous, the sense of sight. Many a man has done mischief to love through seeing, and often the fiery dart of love pierces the heart through the eye. (289-332.)

Ovid tells a tale of the evils of ‘mislook,’ how Acteon when hunting came upon Diana and her nymphs bathing, and because he did not turn away his eyes, he was changed into a hart and torn to pieces by his own hounds. (333-378.)

Again, the Gorgons were three sisters, who had but one eye between them, which they passed one to another, and if any man looked upon them he was straightway turned into a stone. These were all killed by Perseus, to whom Pallas lent a shield with which he covered his face, and Mercury a sword with which he slew the monsters. (389-435.)

My priest therefore bade me beware of misusing my sight, lest I also should be turned to stone; and further he warned me to take good heed of my hearing, for many a vanity comes to man’s heart through the ears. (436-462.)

There is a serpent called Aspidis, which has a precious stone in his head, but when a man tries to overcome him by charms in order to win this stone, he refuses to hear the enchantment, laying one ear close to the earth and stopping the other with his tail. (463-480.)

Moreover, in the tale of Troy we read of Sirens, who are in the form of women above and of fishes below, and these sing so sweetly, that the sailors who pass are enchanted by it and cannot steer their ships: so they are wrecked and torn to pieces by the monsters. Uluxes, however, escaped this peril by stopping the ears of his company, and then they slew many of them. (481-529.)

From these examples (he said) I might learn how to keep the eye and the ear from folly, and if I could control these two, the rest of the senses were easy to rule. (530-549.)

I made my confession then, and said that as for my eyes I had indeed cast them upon the Gorgon Medusa, and my heart had been changed into stone, upon which my lady had graven an eternal mark of love. Moreover, I was guilty also as regards my ear; for when I heard my lady speak, my reason lost all rule, and I did not do as Uluxes did, but fell at once in the place where she was, and was torn to pieces in my thought. (550-567.)

God amend thee, my son, he said. I will ask now no more of thy senses, but of other things. (568-574.)

The Seven deadly Vices.—Pride.

575-1234. Hypocrisy. Pride, the first of the seven deadly Vices, has five ministers, of whom the first is called Hypocrisy. Hast thou been of his company, my son?

I know not, father, what hypocrisy means. I beseech you to teach me and I will confess. (575-593.)

[Pg xxxiv]

A hypocrite is one who feigns innocence without, but is not so within. Such are many of those who belong to the religious orders, with some of those who occupy the high places of the Church, and others also who pretend to piety, while all their design is to increase their worldly wealth. (594-672.)

There are lovers also of this kind, who deceive by flattery and soft speech, and who pretend to be suffering sickness for love, but are ready always to beguile the woman who trusts them. Art thou one of these, my son?

Nay, father, for I have no need to feign: my heart is always more sick than my visage, and I am more humble towards my lady within than any outward sign can show. I will not say but that I may have been guilty towards others in my youth; but there is one towards whom my word has ever been sincere.

It is well, my son, to tell the truth always towards love; for if thou deceive and win thereby, thou wilt surely repent it afterwards, as a tale which I will tell may show. (672-760.)

Mundus and Paulina. At Rome, in the time of Tiberius, a worthy lady Pauline was deceived by Mundus, who bribed the priests of Isis and induced them to bring her to the temple at night on pretence of meeting the god Anubus. Mundus concealed himself in the temple and personated the god. Meeting her on her way home he let her understand the case, and she, overcome with grief and shame, reported the matter to her husband. The priests were put to death, Mundus was sent into exile, and the image of Isis was thrown into the Tiber. (761-1059.)

The Trojan Horse. Again, to take a case of the evil wrought by Hypocrisy in other matters, we read how, when the Greeks could not capture Troy, they made a horse of brass and secretly agreeing with Antenor and Eneas they concluded a feigned peace with the Trojans and desired to bring this horse as an offering to Minerva into the city. The gates were too small to admit it, and so the wall was broken down, and the horse being brought in was offered as an evidence of everlasting peace with Troy. The Greeks then departed to their ships, as if to set sail, but landed again in the night on a signal from Sinon. They came up through the broken gate, and slew those within, and burnt the city. (1060-1189.)

Thus often in love, when a man seems most true, he is most false, and for a time such lovers speed, but afterwards they suffer punishment. Therefore eschew Hypocrisy in love. (1190-1234.)

1235-1875. Inobedience. The second point of Pride is Inobedience, which bows before no law, whether of God or man. Art thou, my son, disobedient to love?

Nay, father, except when my lady bids me forbear to speak of my love, or again when she bids me choose a new mistress. She might[Pg xxxv] as well say, ‘Go, take the Moon down from its place in heaven,’ as bid me remove her love out of my breast. Thus far I disobey, but in no other thing. (1235-1342.)

There are two attendants, my son, on this vice, called Murmur and Complaint, which grudge at all the fortune that betides, be it good or bad. And so among lovers there are those who will not faithfully submit to love, but complain of their fortune, if they fail of anything that they desire.

My father, I confess that at times I am guilty of this, when my lady frowns upon me, but I dare not say a word to her which might displease her. I murmur and am disobedient in my heart, and so far I confess that I am ‘unbuxom.’

I counsel thee, my son, to be obedient always to love’s hest, for obedience often avails where strength may do nothing; and of this I remember an example written in a chronicle. (1343-1406.)

There was a knight, nephew to the emperor, by name Florent, chivalrous and amorous, who seeking adventures was taken prisoner by enemies. He had slain the son of the captain of the castle to which he was led; and they desired to take vengeance on him, but feared the emperor. An old and cunning dame, grandmother to the slain man, proposed a condition. He should be allowed to go, on promise of returning within a certain time, and then he should suffer death unless he could answer rightly the question, ‘What do all women most desire?’ He gave his pledge, and sought everywhere an answer to the question, but without success. When the day approached, he set out; and as he passed through a forest, he saw a loathly hag sitting under a tree. She offered to save him if he would take her as his wife. He refused at first, but then seeing no other way, he accepted, on the condition that he should try all other answers first, and if they might save him he should be free. She told him that what all women most desire is to be sovereign of man’s love. He saved himself by this answer, and returned to find her, being above all things ashamed to break his troth. Foul as she was, he respected her womanhood, and set her upon his horse before him. He reached home, journeying by night and hiding himself by day, and they were wedded in the night, she in her fine clothes looking fouler than before. When they were in bed, he turned away from her, but she claimed his bond; and he turning towards her saw a young lady of matchless beauty by his side. She stayed him till he should make his choice, whether he would have her thus by night or by day; and he, despairing of an answer, left it to her to decide. By thus making her his sovereign, he had broken the charm which bound her. She was the king’s daughter of Sicily, and had been transformed by her stepmother, till she should win the love and sovereignty of a peerless knight. Thus obedience may give a man good fortune in love. (1407-1861.)

[Pg xxxvi]

Know then, my son, that thou must ever obey thy love and follow her will.

By this example, my father, I shall the better keep my observance to love. Tell me now if there be any other point of Pride. (1862-1882.)

1883-2383. Surquidry or Presumption holds the third place in the court of Pride. He does everything by guess and often repents afterwards: he will follow no counsel but his own, depends only on his own wit, and will not even return thanks to God.

When he is a lover, he thinks himself worthy to love any queen, and he often imagines that he is loved when he is not. Tell me, what of this, my son?

I trow there is no man less guilty here than I, or who thinks himself less worthy. Love is free to all men and hides in the heart unseen, but I shall not for that imagine that I am worthy to love. I confess, however, that I have allowed myself to think that I was beloved when I was not, and thus I have been guilty. But if ye would tell me a tale against this vice, I should fare the better. (1883-1976.)

My son, the proud knight Capaneus trusted so in himself that he would not pray to the gods, and said that prayer was begotten only of cowardice. But on a day, when he assailed the city of Thebes, God took arms against his pride and smote him to dust with a thunderbolt. Thus when a man thinks himself most strong, he is nearest to destruction. (1977-2009.)

Again, when a man thinks that he can judge the faults of others and forgets his own, evil often comes to him, as in the tale which follows.

The Trump of Death. There was a king of Hungary, who went forth with his court in the month of May, and meeting two pilgrims of great age, alighted from his car and kissed their hands and feet, giving them alms also. The lords of the land were displeased that the king should thus abase his royalty, and among them chiefly the king’s brother, who said that he would rebuke the king for his deed. When they were returned, the brother spoke to the king, and said he must excuse himself to his lords. He answered courteously and they went to supper.

Now there was ordained by the law a certain trumpet of brass, which was called the Trump of Death: and when any lord should be put to death, this was sounded before his gate. The king then on that night sent the man who had this office, to blow the trumpet at his brother’s gate. Hearing the sound he knew that he must die, and called his friends together, who advised that he with his wife and his five children should go in all humility to entreat the king’s pardon. So they went lamenting through the city and came to the court. Men told the king how it was, and he coming forth blamed his brother because he had been so moved by a mere human sentence of death, which might be revoked. ‘Thou canst not now marvel,’ he said, ‘at[Pg xxxvii] that which I did: for I saw in the pilgrims the image of my own death, as appointed by God’s ordinance, and to this law I did obeisance; for compared to this all other laws are as nothing. Therefore, my brother, fear God with all thine heart; for all shall die and be equal in his sight.’ Thus the king admonished his brother and forgave him. (2010-2253.)

I beseech you, father, to tell me some example of this in the cause of love.

My son, in love as well as in other things this vice should be eschewed, as a tale shows which Ovid told.

There was one Narcissus, who had such pride that he thought no woman worthy of him. On a day he went to hunt in the forest, and being hot and thirsty lay down to drink from a spring. There he saw the image of his face in the water and thought it was a nymph. Love for her came upon him and he in vain entreated her to come out to him: at length in despair he smote himself against a rock till he was dead. The nymphs of the springs and of the woods in pity buried his body, and from it there sprang flowers which bloom in the winter, against the course of nature, as his folly was. (2254-2366.)

My father, I shall ever avoid this vice. I would my lady were as humble towards me as I am towards her. Ask me therefore further, if there be ought else.

God forgive thee, my son, if thou have sinned in this: but there is moreover another vice of Pride which cannot rule his tongue, and this also is an evil. (2367-2398.)

2399-2680. Avantance. This vice turns praise into blame by loud proclaiming of his own merit; and so some lovers do. Tell me then if thou hast ever received a favour in love and boasted of it afterwards.

Nay, father, for I never received any favour of which I could boast. Ask further then, for here I am not guilty.

That is well, my son, but know that love hates this vice above all others, as thou mayest learn by an example. (2399-2458.)

Alboin and Rosemund. Albinus was king of the Lombards, and he in war with the Geptes killed their king Gurmond in battle, and made a cup of his skull. Also he took Gurmond’s daughter Rosemund as his wife. When the wars were over, he made a great feast, that his queen might make acquaintance with the lords of his kingdom; and at the banquet his pride arose, and he sent for this cup, which was richly set in gold and gems, and bade his wife drink of it, saying, ‘Drink with thy father.’ She, not knowing what cup it was, took it and drank; and then the king told how he had won it by his victory, and had won also his wife’s love, who had thus drunk of the skull. She said nothing, but thought of the unkindness of her lord in thus boasting, as he sat by her side, that he had killed her father and made a cup of his skull. Then after the feast she planned vengeance with Glodeside her maid.[Pg xxxviii] A knight named Helmege, the king’s butler, loved Glodeside. To him the queen gave herself in place of her maid, and then making herself known, she compelled him to help her. They slew Albinus, but were themselves compelled to flee, taking refuge with the Duke of Ravenna, who afterwards caused them to be put to death by poison. (2459-2646.)

It is good therefore that a man hide his own praise, both in other things and also in love, or else he may fail of his purpose.

2681-3066. Vain Glory thinks of this world only and delights in new things. He will change his guise like a chameleon. He will make carols, balades, roundels and virelays, and if he gets any advantage in love, he rejoices over it so that he forgets all thought of death. Tell me if thou hast done so.

My father, I may not wholly excuse myself, in that I have been for love the better arrayed, and have attempted rondels, balades, virelays and carols for her whom I love, and sung them moreover, and made myself merry in chamber and in hall. But I fared none the better: my glory was in vain. She would not hear my songs, and my fine array brought me no reason to be glad. And yet I have had gladness at times in hearing how men praised her, and also when I have tidings that she is well. Tell me if I am to blame for this.

I acquit thee, my son, and on this matter I think to tell a tale how God does vengeance on this vice. Listen now to a tale that is true, though it be not of love. (2681-2784.)

There was a king of whom I spoke before, Nabugodonosor by name. None was so mighty in his days, and in his Pride he ruled the earth as a god. This king in his sleep saw a tree which overshadowed the whole earth, and all birds and beasts had lodging in it or fed beneath it. Then he heard a voice bidding to hew down the tree and destroy it; but the root (it said) should remain, and bear no man’s heart, but feed on grass like an ox, till the water of the heaven should have washed him seven times and he should be made humble to the will of God. The King could find none to interpret this dream, and sent therefore for Daniel. He said that the tree betokened the king, and that as the tree was hewn down, so his kingdom should be overthrown, and he should pasture like an ox and be rained upon and afflicted, until he acknowledged the greatness of God. The punishment was ordained, he said, for his vain glory, and if he would leave this and entreat for grace, he might perchance escape the evil.

But Pride will not suffer humility to stand with him. Neither for his dream nor yet for Daniel’s word did this king leave his vain glory, and so that which had been foretold came upon him.

Then after seven years he remembered his former state and wept; and though he might not find words, he prayed within his heart to God and vowed to leave his vain glory, reaching up his feet towards[Pg xxxix] the heaven, kneeling and braying for mercy. Suddenly he was changed again into a man and received his power as before, and the pride of vain glory passed for ever from his heart. (2785-3042.)

Be not thou, my son, like a beast, but take humility in hand, for a proud man cannot win love. I think now again to tell thee a tale which may teach thee to follow Humility and eschew Pride.

3067-3425. Humility. The Three Questions. There was once a young and wise king, who delighted in propounding difficult questions, and one knight of his court was so ready in answering them that the king conceived jealousy and resolved to put him to confusion. He bade him therefore answer these three questions on pain of death: (1) What is it that has least need and yet men help it most? (2) What is worth most and yet costs least? (3) What costs most and is worth least? The knight went home to consider, but the more he beat his brains, the more he was perplexed. He had two daughters, the younger fourteen years of age, who, perceiving his grief, entreated him to tell her the cause. At length he did so, and she asked to be allowed to answer for him to the king. When the day came, they went together to the court, and the knight left the answers to the maiden, at which all wondered. She replied to the first question that it was the Earth, upon which men laboured all the year round, and yet it had no need of help, being itself the source of all life. As to the second, it was Humility, through which God sent down his Son, and chose Mary above all others; and yet this costs least to maintain, for it brings about no wars among men. The third question, she said, referred to Pride, which cost Lucifer and the rebel angels the loss of heaven, and Adam the loss of paradise, and was the cause also of so many evils in the world.

The king was satisfied, and looking on the maiden he said, ‘I like thine answer well, and thee also, and if thou wert of lineage equal to these lords, I would take thee for my wife. Ask what thou wilt of me and thou shalt have it.’ She asked an earldom for her father, and this granted, she thanked the king upon her knees, and claimed fulfilment of his former word. Whatever she may have been once, she was now an earl’s daughter, and he had promised to take her as his wife. The king, moved by love, gave his assent, and thus it was. This king ruled Spain in old days and his name was Alphonse: the knight was called Don Petro, and the daughter wise Peronelle. (3067-3402.)

Thus, my son, thou mayest know the evil of Pride, which fell from his place in heaven and in paradise; but Humility is gentle and debonnaire. Therefore leave Pride and take Humility.

My father, I will not forget: but now seek further of my shrift.

My son, I have spoken enough of Pride, and I think now to tell of Envy, which is a hellish vice, in that it does evil without any cause. (3403-3446.)

[Pg xl]

Lib. II.

1-220. Sorrow for another’s Joy. The next after Pride is Envy, who burns ever in his thought, if he sees another preferred to himself or more worthy. Hast thou, my son, in love been sick of another man’s welfare?

Yea, father, a thousand times, when I have seen another blithe of love. I am then like Etna, which burns ever within, or like a ship driven about by the winds and waves. But this is only as regards my lady, when I see lovers approach her and whisper in her ear. Not that I mistrust her wisdom, for none can keep her honour better; yet when I see her make good cheer to any man, I am full of Envy to see him glad.

My son, the hound which cannot eat chaff, will yet drive away the oxen who come to the barn; and so it is often with love. If a man is out of grace himself, he desires that another should fail. (1-96.)

Acis and Galatea. Ovid tells a tale how Poliphemus loved Galathea, and she, who loved another, rejected him. He waited then for a chance to grieve her in her love, and he saw her one day in speech with young Acis under a cliff by the sea. His heart was all afire with Envy, and he fled away like an arrow from a bow, and ran roaring as a wild beast round Etna. Then returning he pushed down a part of the cliff upon Acis and slew him. She fled to the sea, where Neptune took her in his charge, and the gods transformed Acis into a spring with fresh streams, as he had been fresh in love, and were wroth with Polipheme for his Envy. (97-200.)

Thus, my son, thou mayest understand that thou must let others be.

My father, the example is good, and I will work no evil in love for Envy. (200-220.)

221-382. Joy for another’s Grief. This vice rejoices when he sees other men sad, and thinks that he rises by another’s fall, as in other things, so also in love. Hast thou done so, my son?

Yes, father, I confess that when I see the lovers of my lady get a fall, I rejoice at it; and the more they lose, the more I think that I shall win: and if I am none the better for it, yet it is a pleasure to me to see another suffer the same pains as I. Tell me if this be wrong.

This kind of Envy, my son, can never be right. It will sometimes be willing to suffer loss, in order that another may also suffer, as a tale will show. (221-290.)

The Travellers and the Angel. Jupiter sent down an angel to report of the condition of mankind. He joined himself to two travellers, and he found by their talk that one was covetous and the other envious. On parting he told them that he came from God, and in return for their kindness he would grant them a boon: one should choose a gift and[Pg xli] the other should have the double of what his fellow asked. The covetous man desired the other to ask, and the other, unwilling that his fellow should have more good than he, desired to be deprived of the sight of one eye, in order that his fellow might lose both. This was done, and the envious man rejoiced. (291-364.)

This is a thing contrary to nature, to seek one’s own harm in order to grieve another.

My father, I never did so but in the way that I have said: tell me if there be more.

383-1871. Detraction. There is one of the brood of Envy called Detraction. He has Malebouche in his service, who cannot praise any without finding fault. He is like the beetle which flies over the fields, and cares nothing for the spring flowers, but makes his feast of such filth as he may find. So this envious jangler makes no mention of a man’s virtue, but if he find a fault he will proclaim it openly. So also in Love’s court many envious tales are told. If thou hast made such janglery, my son, shrive thee thereof. (383-454.)

Yes, father, but not openly. When I meet my dear lady and think of those who come about her with false tales, all to deceive an innocent (though she is wary enough and can well keep herself), my heart is envious and I tell the worst I know against them; and so I would against the truest and best of men, if he loved my lady; for I cannot endure that any should win there but I. This I do only in my lady’s ear, and above all I never tell any tale which touches her good name. Tell me then what penance I shall endure for this, for I have told you the whole truth.

My son, do so no more. Thy lady, as thou sayest, is wise and wary, and there is no need to tell her these tales. Moreover she will like thee the less for being envious, and often the evil which men plan towards others falls on themselves. Listen to a tale on this matter. (454-586.)

Tale of Constance. The Roman Emperor Tiberius Constantinus had a daughter Constance, beautiful, wise, and full of faith. She converted to Christianity certain merchants of Barbary, who came to Rome to sell their wares, and they, being questioned by the Soldan when they returned, so reported of Constance that he resolved to ask for her in marriage. He sent to Rome and agreed to be converted, and Constance was sent with two cardinals and many other lords, to be his bride. But the mother of the Soldan was moved by jealousy. She invited the whole company to a feast, and there slew her own son and all who had had to do with the marriage except Constance herself, whom she ordered to be placed alone in a rudderless ship with victuals for five years, and so to be committed to the winds and waves. (587-713.)

For three years she drifted under God’s guidance, and at last came[Pg xlii] to land in Northumberland, near a castle on the bank of Humber, which was kept by one Elda for the king of that land Allee, a Saxon and a worthy knight. Elda found her in the ship and committed her to the care of Hermyngheld his wife, who loved her and was converted by her. Hermyngheld in the name of Christ restored sight to a blind man, at which all wondered, and Elda was converted to the faith. On the morrow he rode to the king, and thinking to please him, who was then unwedded, told him of Constance. The king said he would come and see her. Elda sent before him a knight whom he trusted, and this knight had loved Constance, but she had rejected him, so that his love was turned to hate. When he came to the castle he delivered the message, and they prepared to receive the king; but in the night he cut the throat of Hermyngheld and placed the bloody knife under the bed where Constance lay. Elda came the same night and found his wife lying dead and Constance sleeping by her. The false knight accused Constance and discovered the knife where he had placed it. Elda was not convinced, and the knight swore to her guilt upon a book. Suddenly the hand of heaven smote him and his eyes fell out of his head, and a voice bade him confess the truth, which he did, and thereupon died. (714-885.)

After this the king came, and desiring to wed Constance, agreed to receive baptism. So a bishop came from Bangor in Wales and christened him and many more, and married Constance to the king. She would not tell who she was, but the king perceived that she was a noble creature. God visited her and she was with child, but the king was compelled to go out on a war, and left his wife with Elda and the bishop. A son was born and baptized by the name of Moris, and letters were written to the king, and the bearer of them, who had to pass by Knaresborough, stayed there to tell the news to the king’s mother Domilde. She in the night changed the letters for others, which said, as from the keepers of the queen, that she had been delivered of a monster. The messenger carried the letters to the king, who wrote back that they should keep his wife carefully till he came again. On his return the messenger stayed again at Knaresborough, and Domilde substituted a letter bidding them on pain of death place Constance and her child in the same ship in which she had come, and commit them to the sea. They grieved bitterly, but obeyed. She prayed to heaven for help and devoted herself to the care of the child (886-1083). After the end of that year the ship came to land near a castle in Spain, where a heathen admiral was lord, who had a steward named Theloüs, a false renegade. He came to see the ship and found Constance, but he let none else see her; and at night he returned, thinking to have her at his will. He swore to kill her if she resisted him, and she bade him look out at the port to see if any man was near: then on the prayer of Constance he was thrown out of the ship and drowned. A wind arose which took her[Pg xliii] from the land, and after three years she came to a place where a great navy lay. The lord of these ships questioned her, but she told him little, giving her name as Couste. He said that he came from taking vengeance on the Saracens for their treachery, but could hear no news of Constance. He was the Senator of Rome and was married to a niece of the Emperor named Heleine. She came to Rome with her child and dwelt with his wife till twelve years were gone, and none knew what she was, but all loved her well. (1084-1225.)

In the meantime king Allee discovered the treachery and took vengeance on his mother, who was burnt to death after confession of her guilt; and all said that she had well deserved her punishment and lamented for Constance. Having finished his wars, the king resolved to go to Rome for absolution, and leaving Edwyn his heir to rule the land, he set forth with Elda. Arcennus reported to his wife and to Couste the coming of king Allee, and Couste swooned for joy. The king, after seeing the Pope and relieving his conscience, made a feast, to which he invited the Senator and others. Moris went also, and his mother bade him stand at the feast in sight of the king. The king seeing him thought him like his wife Constance, and loved him without knowing why. He asked Arcennus if the child were his son, and from him he heard his story and the name of his mother. The king smiled at the name ‘Couste,’ knowing that it was Saxon for Constance, and was eager to ascertain the truth. After the feast he besought the Senator to bring him home to see this Couste, and never man was more joyful than he was when he saw his wife. (1226-1445.)

The king remained at Rome for a time with Constance, but still she did not tell him who she was. After a while she prayed him to make an honourable feast before he left the city and to invite the Emperor, who was at a place a few miles away from the city. Moris was sent to beseech him to come and eat with them, which request he granted; and at the time appointed they all went forth to meet the Emperor. Constance, riding forward to welcome him, made herself known to him as his daughter. His heart was overcome, as if he had seen the dead come to life again, and all present shed tears. So a parliament was held and Moris was named heir to the Emperor. King Allee and Constance returned home to the great joy of their land; but soon after this the king died, and Constance came again to Rome. After a short time the Emperor also died in her arms, and she herself in the next year following. Moris was crowned Emperor and known as ‘the most Christian.’ (1446-1598.)

Thus love at last prevailed and the false tongues were silenced. Beware then thou of envious backbiting and lying, and if thou wouldest know further what mischief is done by backbiting, hear now another tale. (1599-1612.)

Demetrius and Perseus. Philip king of Macedoine had two sons,[Pg xliv] Demetrius and Perseus. Demetrius the elder was the better knight, and he was heir to the kingdom; but Perseus had envy of him and slandered him to his father behind his back, saying that he had sold them to the Romans. Demetrius was condemned on suborned evidence and by a corrupt judge, and so put to death. Perseus then grew so proud that he disdained his father and usurped his power, so that the father perceived the wrong which had been done; but the other party was so strong that he could not execute justice, and thus he died of grief.

Then Perseus took the government and made war on Rome, gathering a great host. The Romans had a Consul named Paul Emilius, who took this war in hand. His little daughter wept when she parted from him, because her little dog named Perse was dead, and this seemed to him a prognostic of success, for Perseus had spoken against his brother like a dog barking behind a man’s back. Perseus rode with his host, not foreseeing the mischief, and he lost a large part of his army by the breaking of the ice of the Danube. Paulus attacked him and conquered both him and his land, so that Perseus himself died like a dog in prison, and his heir, who was exiled from his land, gained his bread by working at a craft in Rome. (1613-1861.)

Lo, my son, what evil is done by the Envy which endeavours to hinder another.

I will avoid it, my father; but say on, if there be more.

My son, there is a fourth, as deceptive as the guiles of a juggler, and this is called False Semblant. (1862-1878.)

1879-2319. False Semblant. This is above all the spring from which deceit flows. It seems fair weather on that flood; but it is not so in truth. False Semblant is allied with Hypocrisy, and Envy steers their boat. Therefore flee this vice and let thy semblant always be true. When Envy desires to deceive, it is False Semblant who is his messenger; and as the mirror shows what was never within it, so he shows in his countenance that which is not in his heart. Dost thou follow this vice, my son?

Nay, father, for ought I know; but question me, I pray you.

Tell me then, my son, if ever thou hast gained the confidence of any man in order to tell out his secrets and hinder him in his love. Dost thou practise such devices?

For the most part I say nay; but in some measure I confess I may be reckoned with those that use false colours. I feign to my fellow at times, until I know his counsels in love, and if they concern my lady, I endeavour to overthrow them. If they have to do with others than she, I break no covenant with him nor try to hinder him in his love; but with regard to her my ears and my heart are open to hear all that any man will say,—first that I may excuse her if they speak ill of her, and secondly that I may know who her lovers are. Then I tell tales of them to my lady, to hinder their suit and further mine. And though[Pg xlv] I myself have no help from it, I can conceal nothing from her which it concerns her to know. To him who loves not my lady, let him love as many others as he will, I feign no semblant, and his tales sink no deeper than my ears. Now, father, what is your doom and what pain must I suffer? (1879-2076.)

My son, all virtue should be praised and all vice blamed: therefore put no visor on thy face. Yet many men do so nowadays, and especially I hear how False Semblant goes with those whom we call Lombards, men who are cunning to feign that which is not, and who take from us the profit of our own land, while we bear the burdens. They have a craft called Fa crere, and against this no usher can bar the door. This craft discovers everything and makes it known in foreign lands to our grievous loss. Those who read in books the examples of this vice of False Semblant, will be the more on their guard against it. (2077-2144.)

Hercules and Deianira. I will tell thee a tale of False Semblant, and how Deianira and Hercules suffered by it. Hercules had cast his heart only upon this fair Deianira, and once he desired to pass over a river with her, but he knew not the ford. There was there a giant called Nessus, who envying Hercules thought to do him harm by treachery, since he dared not fight against him openly. Therefore, pretending friendship, he offered to carry the lady across and set her safe on the other shore. Hercules was well pleased, and Nessus took her upon his shoulder; but when he was on the further side, he attempted to carry her away with him. Hercules came after them and shot him with a poisoned arrow, but before he died he gave Deianira his shirt stained with his heart’s blood, telling her that if her lord were untrue, this shirt would make his love return to her. She kept it well in coffer and said no word. The years passed, and Hercules set his heart upon Eole, the king’s daughter of Eurice, so that he dressed himself in her clothes and she was clothed in his, and no remedy could be found for his folly. Deianira knew no other help, but took this shirt and sent it to him. The shirt set his body on fire, and clove to it so that it could not be torn away. He ran to the high wood and tore down trees and made a huge fire, into which he leapt and was burnt both flesh and bones. And all this came of the False Semblant which Nessus made. Therefore, my son, beware, since so great a man was thus lost. (2145-2312.)

Father, I will no more have acquaintance with False Semblant, and I will do penance for my former feigning. Ask more now, if more there be.

My son, there is yet the fifth which is conceived of Envy, and that is Supplantation, by means of which many have lost their labour in love as in other things. (2313-2326.)

2327-3110. Supplantation. This vice has often overthrown men[Pg xlvi] and deprived them of their dignities. Supplantation obtains for himself the profit of other men’s loss, and raises himself upon their fall. In the same way there are lovers who supplant others and deprive them of what is theirs by right, reaping what others have sown. If thou hast done so, my son, confess.

For ought I know, father, I am guiltless in deed, but not so in thought. If I had had the power, I would long ago have made appropriation of other men’s love. But this only as regards one, for whom I let all others go. If I could, I would turn away her heart from her other lovers and supplant them, no matter by what device: but force I dare not use for fear of scandal. If this be sin, my father, I am ready to redress my guilt. (2327-2428.)

My son, God beholds a man’s thought, and if thou knewest what it were to be a supplanter in love, thou wouldest for thine own sake take heed. At Troy Agamenon supplanted Achilles, and Diomede Troilus. Geta and Amphitrion too were friends, and Geta was the lover of Almena: but when he was absent, Amphitrion made his way to her chamber and counterfeited his voice, whereby he obtained admittance to her bed. Geta came afterwards, but she refused to let him in, thinking that her lover already lay in her arms. (2429-2500.)

The False Bachelor. There was an Emperor of Rome who ruled in peace and had no wars. His son was chivalrous and desirous of fame, so he besought leave to go forth and seek adventures, but his father refused to grant it. At length he stole away with a knight whom he trusted, and they took service with the Soldan of Persia, who had war with the Caliph of Egypt. There this prince did valiantly and gained renown; moreover, he was overtaken by love of the Soldan’s fair daughter, so that his prowess grew more and more, and none could stand against him. At length the Soldan and the Caliph drew to a battle, and the Soldan took a gold ring of his daughter and commanded her, if he should fall in the fight, to marry the man who should produce this ring. In the battle this Roman did great deeds, and Egypt fled in his presence. As they of Persia pursued, an arrow struck the Soldan and he was borne wounded to a tent. Dying he gave his daughter’s ring to this knight of Rome. After his burial a parliament was appointed, and on the night before it met, this young lord told his secret to his bachelor and showed him the ring. The bachelor feigned gladness, but when his lord was asleep, he stole the ring from his purse and put another in its stead. When the court was set, the young lady was brought forth. The bachelor drew forth the ring and claimed her hand, which was allowed him in spite of protest, and so he was crowned ruler of the empire. His lord fell sick of sorrow, caring only for the loss of his love; and before his death he called the lords to him and sent a message to his lady, and wrote also a letter to his father the Emperor. Thus he died, and the treason was known. The false[Pg xlvii] bachelor was sent to Rome on demand of the Emperor, to receive punishment there, and the dead body also was taken thither for burial. (2501-2781.)

Thus thou mayest be well advised, my son, not to do so; and above all when Pride and Envy are joined together, no man can find a remedy for the evil. Of this I find a true example in a chronicle of old time, showing how Supplant worked once in Holy Church. I know not if it be so now. (2782-2802.)

Pope Boniface. At Rome Pope Nicholas died, and the cardinals met in conclave to choose another Pope. They agreed upon a holy recluse full of ghostly virtues, and he was made Pope and called Celestin. There was a cardinal, however, who had long desired the papacy, and he was seized with such envy that he thought to supplant the Pope by artifice. He caused a young priest of his family to be appointed to the Pope’s chamber, and he told this man to take a trumpet of brass and by means of it speak to the Pope at midnight through the wall, bidding him renounce his dignity. This he did thrice; and the Pope, conceiving it to be a voice from heaven, asked the cardinals in consistory whether a Pope might resign his place. All sat silent except this cardinal of whom we have spoken, and he gave his opinion that the Pope could make a decree by which this might be done. He did so, and the cardinal was elected in his stead under the name of Boniface. But such treason cannot be hid; it is like the spark of fire in the roof, which when blown by the wind blazes forth. Boniface openly boasted of his device; and such was his pride that he took quarrel with Louis, King of France, and laid his kingdom under interdict. The king was counselled by his barons, and he sent Sir William de Langharet, with a company of men-at-arms, who captured the Pope at Pontsorge near Avignon and took him into France, where he was put in bonds and died of hunger, eating off both his hands. Of him it was said that he came in like a fox, reigned like a lion, and died like a dog. By his example let all men beware of gaining office in the Church by wrongful means. God forbid that it should be of our days that the Abbot Joachim spake, when he prophesied of the shameful traffic which should dishonour the Church of God. (2803-3084.)

Envy it was that moved Joab to slay Abner treacherously; and for Envy Achitophel hanged himself when his counsel was not preferred. Seneca says that Envy is the common wench who keeps tavern for the Court, and sells liquour which makes men drunk with desire to surpass their fellows. (3085-3110.)

Envy is in all ways unpleasant in love; the fire within dries up the blood which should flow kindly through his veins. He alone is moved by pure malice in that which he does. Therefore, my son, if thou wouldest find a way to love, put away Envy.

[Pg xlviii]

Reason would that I do so, father; but in order that I may flee from this vice, I pray you to tell me a remedy.

My son, as there is physic for the sick, so there are virtues for the vices, which quench them as water does a fire. Against Envy is set Charity, the mother of Pity, which causes a man to be willing to bear evil himself rather than that another should suffer. Hear from me a tale about this, and mark it well. (3111-3186.)

Constantine and Silvester. In Latin books I find how Constantine, the Emperor of Rome, had a leprosy which could not be cured, and wise men ordered for his healing a bath of the blood of children under seven years old. Orders were sent forth, and mothers brought their children from all parts to the palace. The Emperor, hearing the noise of lamentation, looked forth in the morning and was struck with pity. He thought to himself that rich and poor were all alike in God’s sight, and that a man should do to others as he would that others should do to him. He resolved rather to suffer his malady than that so much innocent blood should be shed, and he sent the mothers and children away happy to their homes. In the night he had a vision of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, saying to him, that as he had shown mercy, mercy should be shown to him, and bidding him send to fetch Silvester from Mount Celion, where he was hiding for fear of the Emperor, who had been a foe to Christ’s faith. They told him their names and departed, and he did as they commanded. Silvester came and preached to the Emperor of the redemption of mankind and the last judgement, and said that God had accepted the charity and pity which he had shown. Constantine received baptism in the same vessel which had been prepared for the blood; and as he was being baptized, a light from heaven shone in the place and the leprosy fell from him as it were fishes’ scales. Thus body and soul both were cleansed. The Emperor sent forth letters bidding all receive baptism on pain of death, and founded two churches in Rome for Peter and Paul, to which he gave great worldly possessions. His will was good, but the working of his deed was bad. As he made the gift, a voice was heard from heaven saying that the poison of temporal things was this day mingled with the spiritual. All may see the evil now, and may God amend it. (3187-3496.)

I have said, my son, how Charity may help a man in both worlds; therefore, if thou wouldest avoid Envy, acquaint thyself with Charity, which is the sovereign virtue.

My father, I shall ever eschew Envy the more for this tale which ye have told, and I pray you to give me my penance for that which I have done amiss, and to ask me further.

I will tell thee, my son, of the vice which stands next after this. (3497-3530.)

[Pg xlix]

Lib. III.

There is a vice which is the enemy to Patience and doth no pleasure to nature. This is one of the fatal Seven and is called Ire, which in English is Wrath.

25-416. He has five servants to help him, of whom the first is Melancholy, which lours like an angry beast and none knows the reason why. Hast thou been so, my son?

Yea, father, I may not excuse myself therof, and love is the cause of it. My heart is ever hot and I burn with wrath, angered with myself because I cannot speed. Waking I dream that I meet with my lady and pray her for an answer to my suit, and she, who will not gladly swear, saith me nay without an oath, wherewith I am so distempered that I almost lose my wits; and when I think how long I have served and how I am refused, I am angry for the smallest thing, and every servant in my house is afraid of me until the fit passes. If I approach my lady and she speaks a fair word to me, all my anger is gone; but if she will not look upon me, I return again to my former state. Thus I hurt my hand against the prick and make a whip for my own self; and all this springs from Melancholy. I pray you, my father, teach me some example whereby I may appease myself.

My son, I will fulfil thy prayer. (25-142.)

Canace and Machaire. There was a king called Eolus, and he had two children, a son Machaire and a daughter Canace. These two grew up together in one chamber, and love made them blind, so that they followed only the law of nature and saw not that of reason. As the bird which sees the food but not the net, so they saw not the peril. At length Canace was with child and her brother fled. The child was born and the truth could not be hid. The father came into her chamber in a frenzy of wrath, and she in vain entreated for mercy. He sent a knight to her with a sword, that she might slay herself; but first she wrote a letter to her brother, while her child lay weeping in her breast. Then she set the pommel of the sword to ground and pierced her heart with the point. The king bade them take the child and cast it out for wild beasts to devour. Little did he know of love who wrought such a cruel deed. (143-336.)

Therefore, my son, have regard to love, and remember that no man’s might can resist what Nature has ordained. Otherwise vengeance may fall, as in a tale that I will tell. (337-360.)

Tiresias saw two snakes coupled together and smote them with his staff. Thereupon, as he had disturbed nature, so he was transformed against nature into a woman. (361-380.)

Thus wrote Ovid, and thus we see that we ought not to be wroth against the law of nature in men. There may be vice in love, but there is no malice.

[Pg l]

My father, all this is true. Let every man love whom he will; I shall not be wroth, if it be not my lady. I am angry only with myself, because I can find no remedy for my evils. (381-416.)

417-842. Cheste. The second kind of Wrath is Cheste, which has his mouth ever unlocked and utters evil sayings of every one. Men are more afraid of him than of thunder and exclaim against his evil tongue. Tell me, my son, if thou hast ever chid toward thy love.

Nay, father, never: I call my lady herself to witness. I never dared speak to her any but good words. I may have said at times more than I ought, the best plowman balks sometimes, and I have often spoken contrary to her command; but she knows well that I do not chide. Men may pray to God, and he will not be wroth; and my lady, being but a woman, ought not to be angry if I tell her of my griefs. Often indeed I chide with myself, because I have not said that which I ought, but this avails me nothing. Now ye have heard all, therefore give me absolution.

My son, if thou knewest all the evils of Cheste in love, thou wouldest learn to avoid it. Fair speech is most accordant to love; therefore keep thy tongue carefully and practise Patience.

My father, tell me some example of this. (417-638.)

Patience of Socrates. A man should endure as Socrates did, who to try his own patience married a scolding wife. She came in on a winter day from the well and saw her husband reading by the fire. Not being able to draw an answer to her reproaches, she emptied the water-pot over his head: but he said only that rain in the course of nature followed wind, and drew nearer to the fire to dry his clothes. (639-698.)

I know not if this be reasonable, but such a man ought truly to be called patient by judgement of Love’s Court.

Here again is a tale by which thou mayest learn to restrain thy tongue. (699-730.)

Jupiter, Juno and Tiresias. Jupiter and Juno fell out upon the question whether man or wife is the more ardent in love, and they made Tiresias judge. He speaking unadvisedly gave judgement against Juno, who deprived him of his sight. Jupiter in compensation gave him the gift of prophecy, but he would rather have had the sight of his eyes. Therefore beware, and keep thy tongue close. (731-782.)

Phebus and Cornide. Phebus loved Cornide, but a young knight visited her in her chamber. This was told to Phebus by a bird which she kept, and he in anger slew Cornide. Then he repented, and as a punishment he changed the bird’s feathers from white to black. (783-817.)

Jupiter and Laar. The nymph Laar told tales of Jupiter to Juno, and he cut off her tongue and sent her down to hell. There are many[Pg li] such now in Love’s Court, who let their tongues go loose. Be not thou one of these, my son, and above all avoid Cheste.

My father, I will do so: but now tell me more of Wrath. (818-842.)

843-1088. Hate is the next, own brother to Cheste. Art thou guilty of this?

I know not as yet what it is, except ye teach me.

Listen then: Hate is a secret Wrath, gathering slowly and dwelling in the heart, till he see time to break forth.

Father, I will not swear that I have been guiltless of this; for though I never hated my lady, I have hated her words. Moreover I hate those envious janglers who hinder me with their lies, and I pray that they may find themselves in the same condition as I am. Then I would stand in their way, as they stand in mine, and they would know how grievous a thing it is to be hindered in love.

My son, I cannot be content that thou shouldest hate any man, even though he have hindered thee. But I counsel thee to beware of other men’s hate, for it is often disguised under a fair appearance, as the Greeks found to their cost. (843-972.)

King Namplus and the Greeks. After the fall of Troy the Greeks, voyaging home, were overtaken by a storm and knew not how to save their ships. Now there was a king, Namplus, who hated the Greeks because of his son Palamades, whom they had done to death, and he lighted fires to lure their ships towards his rocky coast. They supposed that the fires were beacons to guide them into haven, and many of their ships ran on the rocks. The rest, warned by the cry of those that perished, put forth again to sea.

By this, my son, thou mayest know how Fraud joins with Hate to overthrow men. (973-1088.)

1089-2621. Contek and Homicide. Two more remain, namely Contek, who has Foolhaste for his chamberlain, and Homicide. These always in their wrath desire to shed blood, and they will not hear of pity. Art thou guilty of this, my son?

Nay, my father, Christ forbid. Yet as regards love, about which is our shrift, I confess that I have Contek in my heart, Wit and Reason opposing Will and Hope. Reason says that I ought to cease from my love, but Will encourages me in it, and he it is who rules me.

Thou dost wrong, my son, for Will should ever be ruled by Reason, whereof I find a tale written. (1089-1200.)

Diogenes and Alexander. There was a philosopher named Diogenes, who in his old age devised a tun, in which he sat and observed the heavens. King Alexander rode by with his company and sent a knight to find out what this might be. The knight questioned Diogenes, but he could get no answer. ‘It is thy king who asks,’ said the knight in anger. ‘No, not my king,’ said the philosopher. ‘What then, is he thy man?’ ‘Nay, but rather my man’s man.’ The knight told the[Pg lii] king, who rode himself to see. ‘Father,’ he said,’tell me how I am thy man’s man.’ Diogenes replied, ‘Because I have always kept Will in subjection to me, but with thee Will is master and causes thee to sin.’ The king offered to give him whatsoever he should ask. He replied, ‘Stand thou out of my sunshine: I need no other gift from thee.’

From this thou mayest learn, my son; for thou hast said that thy will is thy master, and hence thou hast Contek in thine heart, and this, since love is blind, may even breed Homicide. (1201-1330.)

Pyramus and Thisbe. In the city of Semiramis there dwelt two lords in neighbouring houses, and the one had a son named Piramus, and the other a daughter, Tisbee. These loved each other, and when two are of one accord in love, no man can hinder their purpose. They made a hole in the wall between them and conversed through this, till at length they planned to meet near a spring without the town. The maiden was there first; but a lion came to drink at the spring with snout all bloody from a slain beast, and she fled away, leaving her wimple on the ground. This the lion tore and stained with blood, while she lay hid in a bush, not daring to move. Piramus came soon and supposed she had been slain. Reproaching himself as the cause of her death, he slew himself with his sword in his foolhaste. Tisbee came then and found him dead, and she called upon the god and goddess of love, who had so cruelly served those who were obedient to their law. At last her sorrow overcame her, so that she knew not what she did. She set the sword’s point to her heart and fell upon it, and thus both were found lying. (1331-1494.)

Beware by this tale that thou bring not evil on thyself by foolhaste.

My father, I will not hide from you that I have often wished to die, though I have not been guilty of the deed. But I know by whose counsel it is that my lady rejects me, and him I would slay if I had him in my power.

Who is this mortal enemy, my son?

His name is Danger, and he may well be called ‘sanz pite.’ It is he who hinders me in all things and will not let my lady receive my suit. He is ever with her and gives an evil answer to all my prayers. Thus I hate him and desire that he should be slain. But as to my lady, I muse at times whether she will be acquitted of homicide, if I die for her love, when with one word she might have saved me.

My son, refrain thine heart from Wrath, for Wrath causes a man to fail of love. Men must go slowly on rough roads and consider before they climb: ‘rape reweth,’ as the proverb says, and it is better to cast water on the fire than burn up the house. Be patient, my son: the mouse cannot fight with the cat, and whoso makes war on love will have the worse. Love demands peace, and he who fights most will conquer least. Hasten not to thy sorrow: he has not lost who waits.

[Pg liii]

Thou mayest take example by Piramus, who slew himself so foolishly. Do nothing in such haste, for suffrance is the well of peace. Hasten not the Court of Love, in which thou hast thy suit. Foolhaste often sets a man behind, and of this I have an example. (1495-1684.)

Phebus and Daphne. Phebus laid his love on Daphne and followed his suit with foolish haste. She ever said him nay, and at length Cupid, seeing the haste of Phebus, said that he should hasten more and yet not speed. He pierced his heart therefore with a golden dart of fire, and that of Daphne with a dart of lead. Thus the more Phebus pursued, the more she fled away, and at length she was changed into a laurel tree, which is ever green, in token that she remained ever a maid. Thus thou mayest understand that it is vain to hasten love, when fortune is against it.

Thanks, father, for this: but so long as I see that my lady is no tree, I will serve her, however fortune may turn.

I say no more, my son, but think how it was with Phebus and beware. A man should take good counsel always, for counsel puts foolhaste away.

Tell me an example, I pray you. (1685-1756.)

Athemas and Demephon. When Troy was taken and the Greeks returned home, many kings found their people unwilling to receive them. Among these were Athemas and Demephon, who gathered a host to avenge themselves and said they would spare neither man, woman, nor child. Nestor however, who was old and wise, asked them to what purpose they would reign as kings, if their people should be destroyed, and bade them rather win by fair speech than by threats. Thus the war was turned to peace: for the nations, seeing the power which the kings had gathered, sent and entreated them to lay aside their wrath. (1757-1856.)

By this example refrain thine heart, my son, and do nothing by violence which may be done by love. As touching Homicide, it often happens unadvisedly through Will, when Reason is away, and great vengeance has sometimes followed. Whereof I shall tell a tale which it is pity to hear. (1857-1884.)

Orestes. Agamenon, having returned from Troy, was slain by his wife Climestre and her lover Egistus. Horestes, his infant son, was saved and delivered into the keeping of the king of Crete. When he grew up, he resolved to avenge his father, and coming to Athens gathered a power there with the help of the duke. When he offered sacrifice in a temple for his success, the god gave him command to slay his mother, tearing away her breasts with his own hands and giving her body to be devoured. He rode to Micene and took the city by siege: then he sent for his mother and did as the oracle had commanded. Egistus, coming to the rescue of Micene, was caught in an ambush and hanged as a traitor.

[Pg liv]

Fame spread these deeds abroad, and many blamed Horestes for slaying his mother. The lords met at Athens and sent for him to come and answer for his deed. He told how the gods had laid a charge upon him to execute judgement, as he had done, and Menesteus, a duke and worthy knight, spoke for him and championed his cause. They concluded upon this that since she had committed so foul an adultery and murder, she had deserved the punishment, and Horestes was crowned king of Micene. Egiona, daughter of Egistus and Climestre, who had consented to the murder of Agamenon, hanged herself for sorrow that her brother had been acquitted. Such is the vengeance for murder. (1885-2195.)

My father, I pray you tell me if it is possible without sin to slay a man.

Yea, my son, in sundry wise. The judge commits sin if he spares to slay those who deserve death by the law. Moreover a man may defend his house and his land in war, and slay if no better may be.

I beseech you, father, to tell me whether those that seek war in a worldly cause, and shed blood, do well. (2196-2250.)

War. God has forbidden homicide, and when God’s Son was born, his angels proclaimed peace to the men of good will. Therefore by the law of charity there should be no war, and nature also commends peace. War consorts with pestilence and famine and brings every kind of evil upon the earth. I know not what reward he deserves who brings in such things; and if he do it to gain heaven’s grace, he shall surely fail. Since wars are so evil in God’s sight, it is a marvel what ails men that they cannot establish peace. Sin, I trow, is the cause, and the wages of sin is death. Covetousness first brought in war, and among the Greeks Arcadia alone was free from war, because it was barren and poor. Yet it is a wonder that a worthy king or lord will claim that to which he has no right. Nature and law both are against it, but Wit is here oppressed by Will, and some cause is feigned to deceive the world. Thou mayest take an example of this, how men excuse their wrong-doing, and how the poor and the rich are alike in the lust for gain. (2251-2362.)

Alexander and the Pirate. A sea-rover was brought before Alexander and accused of his misdeeds. He replied, ‘I have a heart like thine, and if I had the power, I would do as thou dost. But since I am the leader of a few men only, I am called a thief, while thou with thy great armies art called an Emperor. Rich and poor are not weighed evenly in the balance.’ The king approved his boldness and retained him in his service. (2363-2417.)

Thus they who are set on destruction are all of one accord, captain and company alike. When reason is put aside, man follows rapine like a bird of prey, and all the world may not suffice for his desires. Alexander overran the whole earth and died miserably, when he[Pg lv] thought himself most secure. Lo, what profit it is to slay men for covetousness, as if they were beasts. Beware, my son, of slaying. (2418-2484.)

Is it lawful, my father, to pass over the sea to war against the Saracen?

My son, Christ bade men preach and suffer for the faith. He made all men free by his own death, and his apostles after him preached and suffered death: but if they had wished to spread the faith by the sword, it would never have prevailed. We see that since the time when the Church took the sword in hand, a great part of that which was won has been lost to Christ’s faith. Be well advised then always ere thou slay. Homicide stands now even in the Church itself; and when the well of pity is thus defouled with blood, others do not hesitate to make war and to slay. We see murder now upon the earth as in the days when men bought and sold sins.

In Greece before Christ’s faith men were dispensed of the guilt of murder by paying gold: so it was with Peleus, Medea, Almeus, and so it is still. But after this life it shall be known how it fares with those who do such things. Beasts do not prey upon their own kind, and it is not reasonable that man should be worse than a beast.

Solinus tells a tale of a bird with man’s face, which dies of sorrow when it has slain a man. By this example men should eschew homicide and follow mercy. (2485-2621.)

I have heard examples of this virtue of Mercy among those who followed the wars. Remember, my son, that this virtue brings grace, and that they who are most mighty to hurt should be the most ready to relieve. (2622-2638.)

Telaphus and Theucer. Achilles and his son Telaphus made war on Theucer, king of Mese. Achilles was about to slay the king in the battle, but Telaphus interceded for him, saying that Theucer once did him good service. Thus the king’s life was spared but the Greeks won the victory. Theucer, grateful for this and for other service before rendered by Achilles, made Telaphus heir to all his land, and thus was mercy rewarded. (2639-2717.)

Take pity therefore, my son, of other men’s suffering, and let nothing be a pleasure to thee which is grief to another. Stand against Ire by the counsel of Patience and take Mercy to be the governor of thy conscience: so shalt thou put away all homicide and hate, and so shalt thou the sooner have thy will of love.

Father, I will do your hests; and now give me my penance for Wrath, and ask further of my life.

My son, I will do so. Art thou then guilty of Sloth?

My father, I would know first the points which belong to it.

Hearken then, and I will set them forth: and bear well in mind that shrift is of no value to him that will not endeavour to leave his vice. (2718-2774.)

[Pg lvi]

Lib. IV.

1-312. Lachesce is the first point of Sloth, and his nature is to put off till to-morrow what he ought to do to-day. Hast thou done so in love?

Yes, my father, I confess I am guilty. When I have set a time to speak to that sweet maid, Lachesce has often told me that another time is better, or has bidden me write instead of speaking by mouth. Thus I have let the time slide for Sloth, until it was too late. But my love is always the same, and though my tongue be slow to ask, my heart is ever entreating favour. I pray you tell me some tale to teach me how to put away Lachesce. (1-76.)

Eneas and Dido. When Eneas came with his navy to Carthage, he won the love of the queen Dido, who laid all her heart on him. Thence he went away toward Ytaile; and she, unable to endure the pain of love, wrote him a letter saying that if he came not again, it would be with her as with the swan that lost her mate, she should die for his sake. But he, being slothful in love, tarried still away, and she bitterly complaining of his delay, thrust a sword through her heart and thus got rest for herself. (77-146.)

Ulysses and Penelope. Again, when Ulixes stayed away so long at Troy, his true wife Penolope wrote him a letter complaining of his Lachesce. So he set himself to return home with all speed as soon as Troy was taken. (147-233.)

Grossteste. The great clerk Grossteste laboured for seven years to make a speaking head of brass, and then by one half-minute of Lachesce he lost all his labour. (234-243.)

It fares so sometimes with the lover who does not keep his time. Let him think of the five maidens whose lamps were not lit when the bridegroom came forth, and how they were shut out.

My father, I never had any time or place appointed me to get any grace: otherwise I would have kept my hour. But she will not alight on any lure that I may cast, and the louder I cry, the less she hears.

Go on so, my son, and let no Lachesce be found in thee. (244-312.)

313-538. Pusillanimity means in our language the lack of heart to undertake man’s work. This vice is ever afraid when there is no cause of dread. So as regards love there are truants that dare not speak, who are like bells without clappers and do not ask anything.

I am one of those, my father, in the presence of my lady.

Do no more so, my son, for fortune comes to him who makes continuance in his prayers. (313-370.)

Pygmaleon. There was one named Pymaleon, a sculptor of great skill, who made an image of a woman in ivory, fairer than any living creature. On this he set his love and prayed her ever for a return, as though she understood what he said. At length Venus had pity on him[Pg lvii] and transformed the image into a woman of flesh and blood. Thus he won his wife; but if he had not spoken, he would have failed. By this example thou mayest learn that word may work above nature, and that the god of love is favourable to those who are steadfast in love. About which also I read a strange tale. (371-450.)

Iphis. King Ligdus told his wife that if her child about to be born should be a daughter, it must be put to death. A daughter was born, whom Isis the goddess of childbirth bade bring up as a boy. So they named him Iphis, and when he was ten years old he was betrothed to Iante. Cupid took pity on them at last for the love that they had to one another, and changed Iphis into a man. (451-505.)

Thus love has goodwill towards those who pursue steadfastly that which to love is due.

My father, I have not failed for lack of prayer, except so far as I said above. I beseech Love day and night to work his miracle for me. (506-538.)

539-886. Forgetfulness. There is yet another who serves Accidie, and that is Foryetelness. He forgets always more than the half of that which he has to say to his love.

So it has often been with me, father: I am so sore afraid in her presence that I am as one who has seen a ghost, and I cannot get my wits for fear, but stand, as it were, dumb and deaf. Then afterwards I lament and ask myself why I was afraid, for there is no more violence in her than in a child of three years old. Thus I complain to myself of my forgetfulness; but I never forget the thought of her, nor should do, though I had the Ring of Oblivion, which Moses made for Tharbis. She is near my heart always, and when I am with her, I am so ravished with the sight of her, that I forget all the words that I ought to speak. Thus it is with me as regards forgetfulness and lack of heart.

My son, love will not send his grace unless we ask it. God knows a man’s thought and yet he wills that we should pray. Therefore pull up a busy heart and let no chance escape thee; and as touching Foryetelness I find a tale written. (539-730.)

Demophon and Phyllis. King Demephon, as he sailed to Troy, came to Rhodopeie, of which land Phillis was queen. He plighted his troth to her, and she granted him all that he would have. Then came the time that he should sail on to Troy, but he vowed to return to her within a month. The month passed and he forgot his time. She sent him a letter, setting him a day, and saying that if he came not, his sloth would cause her death. She watched and waited, putting up a lantern in a tower by night, but he did not return. Then when the day came and no sail appeared, she ran down from the tower to an arbour where she was alone, and hanged herself upon a bough with a girdle of silk. The gods shaped her into a tree, which men called[Pg lviii] after her Philliberd, and this name it has still to the shame of Demephon, who repented, but all too late. Thus none can guess the evil that comes through Foryetelness. (731-886.)

887-1082. Negligence is he who will not be wise beforehand, and afterwards exclaims, ‘Would God I had known!’ He makes the stable-door fast after the steed is stolen. If thou art so in love, thou wilt not achieve success.

My father, I may with good conscience excuse myself of this. I labour to learn love’s craft, but I cannot find any security therein. My will is not at fault, for I am busy night and day to find out how love may be won.

I am glad, my son, that thou canst acquit thyself of this, for there is no science and no virtue that may not be lost by Negligence. (887-978.)

Phaeton. Phebus had a son named Pheton, who, conspiring with his mother Clemenee, got leave to drive the chariot of the Sun. Phebus advised him how he should do, and that he should drive neither too low nor too high. But he through Negligence let the horses draw the car where they would, and at last the world was set on fire. Phebus then caused him to fall from the car, and he was drowned in a river. (979-1034.)

Icarus. As in high estate it is a vice to go too low, so in low estate it does harm to go too high. Dedalus had a son named Icharus, and they were in prison with Minotaurus and could not escape. This Dedalus then fashioned wings for himself and his son, and he warned his son not to fly too high, lest the wax with which his wings were set on should melt with the sun. Icharus neglected his father’s warning and fell to his destruction: and so do some others. (1035-1082.)

1083-2700. Idleness is another of the brood of Sloth and is the nurse of every vice. In summer he will not work for the heat and in winter for the cold. He will take no travail for his lady’s sake, but is as a cat that would eat fish and yet not wet his claws. Art thou of such a mould? Tell me plainly.

Nay, father, towards love I was never idle.

What hast thou done then, my son?

In every place where my lady is, I have been ready to serve her, whether in chamber or in hall. When she goes to mass, I lead her up to the offering; when she works at her weaving or embroidery, I stand by, and sometimes I tell tales or sing. When she will not stay with me, but busies herself elsewhere, I play with the dog or the birds and talk to the page or the waiting-maid, to make an excuse for my lingering. If she will ride, I lift her into the saddle and go by her side, and at other times I ride by her carriage and speak with her, or sing. Tell me then if I have any guilt of Idleness.

Thou shalt have no penance here, my son; but nevertheless there are many who will not trouble themselves to know what love is, until[Pg lix] he overcome them by force. Thus a king’s daughter once was idle, until the god of love chastised her, as thou shalt hear. (1083-1244.)

Rosiphelee, daughter of Herupus, king of Armenie, was wise and fair, but she had one great fault of sloth, desiring neither marriage nor the love of paramours. Therefore Venus and Cupid made a rod for her chastising, so that her mood at length was changed. She walked forth once in the month of May, and staying alone under the trees near a lawn, she heard the birds sing and saw the hart and the hind go together, and a debate arose within her as to love. Then casting her eyes about, she saw a company of ladies riding upon white horses. They had saddles richly adorned and were clothed in the fairest copes and kirtles, all alike of white and blue. Their beauty was beyond that of earthly things, and they wore crowns upon their heads such that all the gold of Cresus could not have purchased the least of them.

The king’s daughter drew back abashed and hid herself to let them pass, not daring to ask who they were. Then after them she saw a woman on a black horse, lean, galled and limping, yet with a richly jewelled bridle. The woman, though fair and young, had her clothing torn and many score of halters hanging about her middle. The princess came forth and asked her what this company might be, and she said these were they who had been true servants to love, but she herself had been slow and unwilling; and therefore each year in the month of May she must needs ride in this manner and bear halters for the rest. Her jewelled bridle was granted her because at last she had yielded to love, but death came upon her too suddenly. ‘I commend you to God, lady,’ she said, ‘and bid you warn all others for my sake not to be idle in love, but to think upon my bridle.’ Thus she passed out of sight like a cloud, and the lady was moved with fear and amended her ways, swearing within her heart that she would bear no halters. (1245-1446.)

Understand then, my son, that as this lady was chastised, so should those knights take heed who are idle towards love, lest they deserve even a greater punishment. Maidens too must follow the law of love and not waste that time during which they might be bearing the charge of children for the service of the world. And about this I think to tell them a tale. (1447-1504.)

Jephthah’s daughter. Among the Jews there was a duke named Jepte, who going to war against Amon, made a vow that if victory were granted to him, he would sacrifice to God the first who should meet him on his return. He overcame his foes and returning met his daughter, who came forth to welcome him with songs and dances. When she saw his sorrow and heard the vow that he had made, she bade him keep his covenant, and asked only for a respite of forty days to bewail her maidenhead, in that she had brought forth no children for the increase of her people. So with other maidens she went[Pg lx] weeping over the downs and the dales, and mourned for the lost time which she never could now redeem. (1505-1595.)

Father, ye have done well to rebuke maidens for this vice of Sloth: but as to the travail which ye say men ought to take for love, what mean ye by this?

I was thinking, my son, of the deeds of arms that men did in former times for love’s sake. He who seeks grace in love must not spare his travail. He must ride sometimes in Pruce and sometimes in Tartary, so that the heralds may cry after him, ‘Valiant, Valiant!’ and his fame may come to his lady’s ear. This is the thing I mean. Confess, if thou hast been idle in this. (1596-1647.)

Yea, my father, and ever was. I know not what good may come of slaying the heathen, and I should have little gain from passing over the sea, if in the meantime I lost my lady at home. Let them pass the sea whom Christ commanded to preach his faith to all the world; but now they sit at ease and bid us slay those whom they should convert. If I slay a Saracen, I slay body and soul both, and that was never Christ’s lore.

As for me, I will serve love, and go or stay as love bids me. I have heard that Achilles left his arms at Troy for love of Polixenen, and so may I do: but if my lady bade me labour for her, I would pass through sky or sea at her command. Nevertheless I see that those who labour most for love, win often the least reward, and though I have never been idle in deed, yet the effect is always idleness, for my business avails me nothing. Therefore idle I will call myself.

My son, be patient. Thou knowest not what chance may fall. It is better to wait on the tide than to row against the stream. Perchance the revolution of the heavens is not yet in accord with thy condition. I can bear witness to Venus that thou hast not been idle in love; but since thou art slow to travail in arms and makest an argument of Achilles, I will tell thee a tale to the contrary. (1648-1814.)

Nauplus and Ulysses. King Nauplus, father of Palamades, came to persuade Ulixes to go with the Greeks to Troy. He, however, desired to stay at home with his wife, and feigning madness he yoked foxes to his plough and sowed the land with salt. Nauplus saw the cause and laid the infant son of Ulixes before his plough. The father turned the plough aside, and Nauplus rebuked him for thus unworthily forsaking the honour of arms and for setting love before knighthood. He repented of his folly and went forth with them to Troy. (1815-1891.)

Thus a knight must prefer honour to worldly ease and put away all dread, as did Prothesilai, whose wife wrote to him that he should lose his life if he landed at Troy; and he took no heed of her womanish fears, but was the first to land, choosing rather to die with honour than to live reproved. (1892-1934.)

Saul too, when the spirit of Samuel told him that he should be slain[Pg lxi] in battle, would not draw back from the danger, but with Jonathas his son he met his enemies on the mountains of Gelboe, and won eternal fame. (1935-1962.)

Education of Achilles. Prowess is founded upon hardihood, and we know how Achilles was brought up to this by Chiro, called Centaurus. He was taught not to make his chase after the beasts that fled from him, but to fight with such as would withstand him. Moreover a covenant was set that every day he should slay, or at least wound, some savage beast, as a lion or a tiger, and bring home with him a token of blood upon his weapon. Thus he came to surpass all other knights. (1963-2013.)

Other examples there are, as of Lancelot and many more, which show how Prowess in arms has led to success in love. Let this tale be witness of it. (2014-2044.)

Hercules and Achelons. King Oënes of Calidoyne had a daughter Deianire, who was promised in marriage to Achelons, a giant and a magician. Hercules, that worthy knight who set up the two pillars of brass in the desert of India, sought her love, and the king dared not refuse him. It was ordained then that combat should decide between them. Achelons, stirred up to prowess by love, fought boldly, but Hercules seized him with irresistible strength. Then Achelons tried his craft, changing himself into a snake first and then a bull. Hercules, however, held him by the horns and forced him down, till at length he was overcome. Thus Hercules won his wife by prowess. (2045-2134.)

So Pantasilee, queen of Feminee, for love of Hector did deeds of prowess at Troy; and Philemenis, because he brought home the body of Pantasilee and saved some of her maidens, had a tribute granted to him of three maidens yearly from the land of Amazoine. Eneas also won Lavine in battle against king Turnus. By these examples thou mayest see how love’s grace may be gained, for worthy women love manhood and gentilesse. (2135-2199.)

What is Gentilesse, my father?

Some set that name upon riches coming down from old time, but there is no true merit in riches; and as for lineage, all are descended from Adam and Eve. Rich and poor are alike in their birth and in their death; the true gentilesse depends upon virtue, and for virtue love may profit much. Especially love is opposed to Sloth, and Sloth is most of all contrary to the nature of man, for by it all knowledge is lost. (2200-2362.)

By Labour it was that all useful arts were found out, and the names of many inventors have been handed down by fame, as Cham, Cadmus, Theges, Termegis, Josephus, Heredot, Jubal, Zenzis, Promotheus, Tubal, Jadahel, Verconius, and among women Minerve and Delbora. Saturnus found out agriculture and trade, and he first coined money. (2363-2450.)

Many philosophers have contrived the getting and refining of[Pg lxii] metals and the science of Alconomie, by which gold and silver are multiplied, with the working of the seven bodies and the four spirits for the finding of the perfect Elixir.

The philosophers of old made three Stones: the Vegetable, by which life and health are preserved, the Animal, by which the five senses are helped in their working, and the Mineral, by which metals are transformed. This science is a true one, but men know not how to follow it rightly, so that it brings in only poverty and debt. They who first founded it have great names, as Hermes, Geber, Ortolan and others. (2451-2632.)

With regard to Language, Carmente was the first who invented the Latin letters, and then came those who laid down the rules of rhetoric, as Aristarchus, Dindimus, Tullius and Cithero. Jerome translated the Bible from Hebrew, and others also translated books into Latin from Arabic and Greek. In poetry Ovid wrote for lovers, and taught how love should be cooled, if it were too hot.

My father, I would read his books, if they might avail me; but as a tree would perish if its roots were cut away, so if my love were withdrawn, my heart would die.

That is well said, my son, if there be any way by which love may be achieved; and assuredly he who will not labour and dares not venture will attain to nothing. (2633-2700.)

2701-3388. Somnolence. The chamberlain of Sloth is Somnolence, who sleeps when he should be awake. When knights and ladies revel in company, he skulks away like a hare and lays himself down to rest; and there he dreams and snores, and when he wakes, he expounds his dreams. If thou wilt serve love, my son, do not thou so.

Surely not, father; it were better for me to die than to have such sluggardy, or rather it were better I had never been born. I have never been sleepy in the place where my lady was, whether I should dance with her, or cast the dice, or read of Troilus. When it is late and I must needs go, I look piteously upon her and take leave upon my knee, or kiss her if I may; and then before I depart from the house, I feign some cause to return and take leave of her again. Then afterwards I curse the night for driving me away from her company, and I sigh and wish for day, or think of the happiness of those who have their love by their side all the long night through. At last I go to bed, but my heart remains still with her: no lock may shut him out, and he passes through the strongest wall. He goes into her bed and takes her softly in his arms, and wishes that his body also were there. In my dreams again I suffer the torments of love, or if I dream sometimes that I meet her alone and that Danger has been left behind, I wake only to find all in vain.

My son, in past times many dreams have told of truth, as thou mayest know by a tale. (2701-2926.)

[Pg lxiii]

Ceix and Alceone. Ceix, king of Trocinie, went on a pilgrimage for the sake of his brother Dedalion, and left at home Alceone his wife. She besought him to fix the time of his return, and he said ‘Within two months.’ The time passed and she heard no tidings, and Juno, to whom she prayed, sent Yris to the house of Sleep, bidding him show this lady by dream how the matter was.

Yris bent the heaven like a bow and came down, and she went to the place where Sleep had his dwelling, in a cave where no sun ever shone and no sound could be heard but the murmur of the river Lethes, which ran hard by. He himself was sleeping in a chamber strewn up and down with dreams, and long it was ere her words could pierce his ears. When he at length understood the message, he chose out three, Morpheus, Ithecus and Panthasas, to do this deed. Morpheus appeared to Alceone in the form of her husband lying dead upon the shore, while the other two showed her in action the scene of the tempest and the wreck. She cried out in terror and awoke, and on the morrow, going down to the sea, she saw his body floating on the waves. Careless of death she leapt into the deep, and would have caught him in her arms; but the gods pitied them and changed them into birds of the sea, and so they dwelt together lovingly. (2927-3123.)

Thus dreams prove sometimes true.

Father, I have said that when I am in my lady’s company, I do not desire to sleep. But at other times I care little to wake, for I cannot endure to be in company without her. I know not if this be Somnolence.

I acquit thee, my son, and I will tell a tale to show how little love and sleep are in accord. (3124-3186.)

Prayer of Cephalus. He who will wake by night for love may take example by Cephalus, who when he lay with Aurora prayed to the Sun and to the Moon that the night might be made longer and the day delayed, in order that he might follow only the law of love. Sloth cares nothing for the night except that he may sleep, but Cephalus did otherwise. (3187-3275.)

My father, that is no wonder, since he had his love by his side. But this is never my case, so I have never need to entreat the Sun to stay his chariot, or the Moon to lengthen her course. Sometimes I have a dream that makes me glad, but afterwards I find it untrue: so that I know not of what use sleep is to man.

True, my son, except that it helps nature, when it is taken in due measure. But he who sleeps unduly may come by misfortune, as I can show by a tale. (3276-3316.)

Argus and Mercury. Jupiter lay by Io, wherefore Juno changed her into a cow and gave her into the keeping of Argus, who had a hundred eyes. Mercury came to steal the cow, and he piped so cunningly that Argus fell asleep. So Mercury smote off his head and took away Io. Therefore, my son, beware thou sleep not overmuch. (3317-3364.)

[Pg lxiv]

Love will not let me do so, father: but ask further, if there be more.

Yea, my son, one there is to tell of still. (3365-3388.)

3389-3692. Tristesce. When Sloth has done all that he may, he conceives Tristesce, which drives him to utter wretchedness. With Tristesce is Obstinacy, and despair follows them. So it is with some lovers, who lose all hope.

I am one of these, father, except that I do not cease to pray.

My son, do not despair; for when the heart fails, all is lost. Listen to a tale about this. (3389-3514.)

Iphis and Araxarathen. Iphis, son of king Theucer, loved a maid of low estate. Though a prince, he was subject to love, but she would not listen to his suit. At length being brought to despair, he came before her house in the night, and having bewailed his case and lamented her hardness of heart, he hanged himself upon the post of the gate. On the morrow the maiden took the guilt upon herself, and prayed that no pity might be shown to her, as she had shown no pity to him. The gods took away her life and changed her into stone; and men carried the body of Iphis to the city and set up the stone image of the maiden above his tomb, with an epitaph telling of their fate. (3515-3684.)

Thus, my son, despair, as I say, is a grievous thing.

Father, I understand now the nature of Sloth, and I will take heed.

Lib. V.

Avarice is the root of all strife among men. He ever gets more and more and lets nothing go, and yet he has never enough. He has no profit from his riches any more than an ox from his ploughing or a sheep from his wool: instead of being master of his wealth, he serves it as a slave. Dost thou fare so in love, my son?

No, my father, for I was never in possession; but I cannot here excuse my will, for if I had my lady, I would never let her go; and herein I am like the avaricious man. Moreover, though I have not the wealth, yet I have the care, and am like that ox of which ye told before. Judge if this be Avarice.

My son, it is no wonder if thou art a slave to love; but to be a slave to gold is against nature and reason. (1-140.)

Midas. Bacchus had a priest named Cillenus, and he being drunk and wandering in Frige was brought in bonds before Mide, the king of that land. This king dealt with him courteously, and Bacchus in reward of this bade him ask what worldly thing he would. He debated long within himself between three things, pleasure, power and wealth; and at length he asked that all things might be turned by his touch to gold. The boon granted, he tried his power on stone and leaf, but when he at length sat down to meat, then he saw the folly of Avarice,[Pg lxv] and prayed Bacchus to take back his gift. The god took pity and bade him bathe in Paceole, and so he recovered his first estate; but the stones in the bed of the river were changed to gold. He went home and put away his Avarice, and taught his people to till the land and breed cattle rather than seek increase of gold. (141-332.)

Before gold was coined, war and usury were unknown, but now through Avarice all the world is out of joint. When thou seest a man have need, give him of thy substance, for the pain of Tantalus awaits those who will not give: they stand in a river up to their chin and yet cannot drink, and fruit hangs over and touches their lips, of which they cannot eat. Thus Avarice hungers ever after more, though he has enough, and gets no good from that which he has. If thou desirest to be beloved, thou must use largess and give for thy love’s sake: if thou wilt have grace, be gracious, and eschew the disease of Avarice. Some men have no rest for fear their gold should be stolen, and so some lovers cannot be at peace for Jealousy. (333-444.)

What is this Jealousy, my father?

It is like a fever, my son, which returns every day. It makes a man look after his lady wherever she goes, and if she make the least sign of countenance to another man, he turns it to a cause of quarrel. Nothing can please him that she does. If he goes from home, he leaves some one to report her doings, and finds fault where there is none. The wife who is married to such a man may well curse the day when the gold was laid upon the book. As the sick man has no appetite for food, so the jealous man has no appetite for love, and yet like the avaricious he is tormented with the fear of losing his treasure. Love hates nothing more than this fever of which I speak, and to show how grievous it is, I will tell thee an example. (445-634.)

Vulcan and Venus. Vulcan the smith had the fair Venus for his wife, whom Mars loved and was beloved again. Jealousy caused Vulcan to spy upon them, and he devised so by his craft that they were caught as they lay together and bound with chains. He called the gods to see, but was only rebuked for his pains. Hence earthly husbands may learn that by Jealousy they bring shame upon themselves. (635-725.)

This example, my father, is hard to understand. How can such things happen among the gods, when there is but one God who is Lord of all? How come such gods as these to have a place?

My son, such gods are received by the unwise in sundry places: I will tell thee how. (726-747.)

747-1970. The Religions of the World. There were four forms of belief before Christ was born.

The Chaldees worshipped the Sun, Moon and Stars and the Elements, which cannot be gods because they suffer change. (747-786.)

The Egyptians worshipped beasts, and also three gods and a goddess,[Pg lxvi] of whom the goddess, Ysis, came from Greece and taught them tillage. (787-834.)

The Greeks deified the men who were their rulers or who became famous, as Saturnus king of Crete and Jupiter his son,—such was their folly. Of gods they had besides these Mars, Apollo, Mercury, Vulcan, Eolus, Neptune, Pan, Bacchus, Esculapius, Hercules, Pluto, and of goddesses Sibeles, Juno, Minerva, Pallas, Ceres, Diana, Proserpine; also Satyrs, Nymphs and Manes,—it would be too long to tell the whole. (835-1373.)

Yes, father, but why have ye said nothing of the god and the goddess of love?

I have left it for shame, my son, because I am their priest, but since thou desirest it, I will tell thee. Venus was the daughter of Saturn, and she first taught that love should be common. She had children both by gods and men: she lay with her brother Jupiter and her son Cupid, and she first told women to sell their bodies. Therefore they called her the goddess of love and her son the god. (1374-1443.)

The Greeks took a god to help in whatsoever they had to do. Dindimus, king of the Bragmans, wrote to Alexander, blaming the Greek faith, and saying that they had a god for every member of their body, Minerva for the head, Mercury for the tongue, and so on. (1444-1496.)

Idol-worship came first through Cirophanes, who set up an image of his son, and after that Ninus made a statue of his father Belus, which he caused to be worshipped, and third came the statue of Apis or Serapis, who spoke to Alexander in the cave, when he came riding with Candalus. (1497-1590.)

Thus went the misbeliefs of Grece, of Egypt and of Chaldee. Then, as the book says, God chose a people for himself. Habraham taught his lineage to worship only the one true God, and after they had multiplied in Egypt, God delivered them wondrously by Moises and brought them into the land of promise. But when Christ was born, they failed and fell away; so that they now live out of God’s grace, dispersed in sundry lands. (1591-1736.)

God sent his Son down from heaven to restore the loss which we suffered in Adam: so that original sin was the cause of man’s honour at the last. By this faith only we can attain to Paradise once more, but faith is not enough without good deeds. Therefore be not deceived by Lollardy, which sets the true faith of Christ in doubt. (1737-1824.)

Christ wrought first and then taught, so that his words explained his deeds, but we in these days have the words alone. Our prelates are like that priest who turned away his eyes and let Anthenor steal the Palladion of Troy. Christ died for the faith, but they say that life is sweet, and they follow only their own ease. Therefore the ship of Peter is almost lost in the waves, and tares are sown among the corn. Gregory[Pg lxvii] complains of the sloth of the prelacy, and asks how we shall appear beside the Apostles in the day of Judgement. We shall be like the man who hid his lord’s besant and got no increase upon it. We are slow towards our spiritual work, but swift to Avarice, which, as the apostle says, is idolatry.

My father, for this which ye have said I shall take the better heed: but now tell me the branches of Avarice as well in love as otherwise. (1825-1970.)

1971-2858. Coveitise. Avarice has many servants, and one of these is Coveitise, who is her principal purveyor and makes his gain in every place. He is as the pike who devours the smaller fishes: for him might is always right. I will tell thee a tale of the punishment of this vice. (1971-2030.)

Virgil’s Mirror. Virgil made a mirror at Rome, wherein the motions of all enemies for thirty miles round might be seen. They of Carthage had war with Rome, and took counsel with the king of Puile how they might destroy this mirror. Crassus, the Roman Emperor, was above all things covetous. They sent therefore three philosophers to Rome with a great treasure of gold, which they buried in two places secretly. These men professed to the Emperor that by dreams they could discover ancient hoards of gold, and first one and then the other of these buried treasures was found. Then the third master announced a yet greater treasure, to be found by mining under the magic mirror. As they mined, they underset the supports of the mirror with timber, and on a certain night these three set fire to the timber and fled out of the city. So the mirror fell and was destroyed, and Hanybal slew so many of the Romans in a day, that he filled three bushels with their gold rings. The Romans punished their Emperor by pouring molten gold down his throat, so that his thirst for gold might be quenched. (2031-2224.)

Coveitise in a king or in those of his court is an evil thing, my son; but he who most covets often gains least, and Fortune stands for much as well in courts as elsewhere. (2225-2272.)

The Two Coffers. A king heard that his courtiers complained of unequal rewards for their service. He resolved to show them that the fault lay not with him, and he caused two coffers to be made in all respects alike, the one of which he filled with gold and jewels, and the other with straw and stones. He called before him those who had complained, and bade them choose. They chose the worthless coffer, and he proved to them by this, that if they were not advanced, their fortune only was to blame. (2273-2390.)

Like this is the story of the Two Beggars whom the Emperor Frederick heard disputing about riches, and for whom he prepared two pasties, one containing a capon and the other full of florins. (2391-2441.)

[Pg lxviii]

Thus it is often with love: though thou covet, yet shalt thou not obtain more than fortune has allotted thee. Yet there are those that covet every woman whom they see, finding something to their liking in each. They can no more judge in matters of love than a blind man can judge of colours.

My father, I had rather be as poor as Job than covet in such a manner. There is one whom I would have, and no more. (2442-2513.)

There are some also who choose a woman not for her face nor yet for her virtue, but only for her riches.

Such am not I, father. I could love my lady no more than I do, if she were as rich as Candace or Pantasilee; and I think no man is so covetous that he would not set his heart upon her more than upon gold. To one who knows what love is, my lady seems to have all the graces of nature, and she is also the mirror and example of goodness. It were better to love her than to love one who has a million of gold. I say not that she is poor, for she has enough of worldly goods; yet my heart has never been drawn to her but for pure love’s sake.

It is well, my son, for no other love will last. Hear now an example of how coveitise prevailed over love. (2514-2642.)

The King and his Steward’s Wife. There was a king of Puile, whom his physicians counselled to take a fair young woman to his bed, and he bade his steward provide. The steward had a wife whom he had married for lucre and not for love, and he set his coveitise before his honour. Having received a hundred pounds from the king to procure him the woman, he brought at night his own wife, against her will. Before the morning he came and desired to take her away, but the king refused to let her go, and at length the steward was compelled to tell him who she was. The king threatened him with death if he remained one day longer in the land, and afterwards he took the woman for his wife. (2643-2825.)

Beware, my son, of this, for it is a great evil when marriage is made for lucre.

Father, so think I, and yet riches may sometimes be a help to love. Now ask me more, if more there be. (2826-2858.)

2859-4382. False Witness and Perjury. Coveitise has two counsellors, False Witness and Perjury, who make gain for their master by lying. So lovers often swear faithful service to a woman, and it is all treachery.

I am not one of these, father: my thought is not discordant to my word. I may safely swear that I love my lady, and if other men should bear witness of it for me, there would be no false swearing.

My son, I will tell thee a tale to show that False Witness is at last found out. (2859-2960.)

Achilles and Deidamia. Thetis, in order that her son Achilles might not go to Troy, disguised him as a girl and put him to dwell[Pg lxix] with the daughters of king Lichomede. There he was the bedfellow of Deidamie, and so her maidenhead was lost. The Greeks in the meantime assailed Troy in vain, and it was told them by divination that unless they had Achilles, their war would be endless. Ulixes therefore was sent with Diomede to bring him, and coming to the kingdom of Lichomede he could not distinguish Achilles from the rest. Then he set forth the gifts which he had brought for the women, and among them a knight’s harness brightly burnished. Achilles left all the rest and chose this, and then he came forth armed in it before them. He was glad enough, but not so Lichomede, who had been so overseen. Thus came out the treachery of False Witness; and if Thetis, who was a goddess, thus deceived Deidamie, what security have women against the untruth of lovers? (2961-3218.)

My father, tell me some tale about Perjury.

I will tell thee, my son, how Jason did to Medea, as it is written in the book of Troy. (3219-3246.)

Jason and Medea. Jason was the nephew of king Peleus; and desiring to achieve adventures and see strange lands, he took a company of knights, and among them Hercules, and sailed to the isle of Colchos to win the fleece of gold. On the way they touched at Troy, where the king Lamedon treated them discourteously, and then they came to Colchos. Oëtes, who was king there, endeavoured to persuade Jason to leave his adventure, but without success; and then the princess Medea entertained him with welcome. Moved by love of him she offered him her help to win the fleece, and he plighted his troth to her and swore that he would never part from her. She taught him what to do, and gave him a magic ring and an ointment, telling him also what charms and prayers to use, so that he might slay the serpent which guarded the fleece, yoke the fire-breathing oxen to the plough, sow the teeth of the serpent and slay the knights who should spring up.

He took his leave of her, and passing over the water in a boat did as Medea bade him. Returning with the fleece he was welcomed back by Medea and the rest, and that night he took Medea and her treasure on board his ship and they sailed away to Greece. It was vain to pursue: they were gone.

When they came to Greece, all received them with joy, and these lovers lived together, till they had two sons. Medea with her charms renewed the youth of Eson, Jason’s father, and brought him back to the likeness of a young man of twenty years. No woman could have shown more love to a man than she did to Jason; and yet, when he bare the crown after his uncle Peleus was dead, he broke the oath which he had sworn and took Creusa, daughter of king Creon, to wife. Medea sent her the gift of a mantle, from which fire sprang out and consumed her; then in the presence of Jason she killed his two sons, and was gone to the court of Pallas above before he could draw his[Pg lxx] sword to slay her. Thus mayest thou see what sorrow it brings to swear an oath in love which is not sooth. (3247-4229.)

I have heard before this how Jason won the fleece, but tell me now who brought that fleece first to Colchos.

Phrixus and Helle. King Athemas by his first wife had two children, Frixus and Hellen; but his second wife Yno hated them and contrived a device against them. She sowed the land with sodden wheat; and when no harvest came, she caused the priests of Ceres to say that the land must be delivered of these children. The queen bade men throw the children into the sea; but Juno saved them, and provided a sheep with golden fleece, which swam with them over the waves. Hellen for dread fell off his back and so was lost, but her brother was borne over to the isle of Colchos, and there the fleece was set, which was the cause why Jason was so forsworn.

My father, he who breaks his troth thus is worthy neither to love nor to be beloved. (4230-4382.)

4383-4670. Usury. Another of the brood of Avarice is Usury, whose brokers run about like hounds, hunting after gain. He has unequal weights and measures, and he takes back a bean where he has lent a pea. So there are many lovers, who though the love they gave will hardly weigh a mite, yet ask a pound again; and often by the help of their brokers these buy love for little.

My father, I am not guilty of this. That which I give is far more than ever I take again. Usury will have double, but I would be content with half. If my lady reward me not the better, I can never recover my cost. Nor yet have I ever used brokers in love. But thought is free, my father, and to me it seems that my lady herself cannot be excused of this that ye call Usury. For one glance of her eye she has my whole heart, and she will render me nothing again. She has all my love and I go loveless: she says not so much as ‘Thanks.’ Myself I can acquit, and if she be to blame in this, I pray God to give her grace to amend.

My son, thou speakest ill in that thou accusest thy lady. She may be such that her one glance is worth thy heart many times reckoned. Moreover in love the balance is not even: though thy love weigh more, thou must not ask for return as a debt that is due; for Love is lord and does after his own will. Be patient, and perchance all may turn to good. I am well pleased that thou hast used in love no brokerage to deceive. (4383-4572.)

Echo. Brokers of love receive at last that which they have deserved. Juno had Echo among her maidens, and she was of accord with Jupiter to get him new loves and to blind her lady’s eyes. When Juno understood this, she reproved her and took vengeance, sending her to dwell in the woods and hills and repeat always the sound of the voices that came to her ears. (4573-4652.)

[Pg lxxi]

If ever thou be wedded man, my son, use no such means as this.

4671-4884. Parsimony or Scarceness. Another there is whom Avarice has for the keeper of his house, and his name is Scarceness. It is easier to flay the flint than to get from him the value of a rush to help another. How is it with thee, my son? Hast thou been scarce or free towards thy love?

My father, if I had all the treasure of Cresus or the gold of Octovien, I would give it all to her, if I might. But indeed I never gave her any gift, for from me she will not take any, lest I should have some small cause of hope. Yet she takes from others and gives again, so that all speak well of her. As for me, she knows that my heart and all that I have is at her command and will be while I live. (4671-4780.)

Babio and Croceus. Scarceness accords not with love, and often a man has lost the coat for the hood. With gift a man may do much, and meed keeps love in house. Babio had a love named Viola, who was both fair and free; but he was a niggard, and so she was ill served. Croceus, liberal and amorous, came in her way, and she left Babio loveless. (4781-4862.)

My father, if there be anything amiss in me toward my love in this matter, I will amend it.

Thou sayest well, and I will pass on. (4863-4884.)

4885-5504. Ingratitude or Unkindness. This is a vice which repays no service, and when he has received a barnful, grudges to give a grain in return. God and Nature both condemn this vice, and even a beast loves the creature who does him kindness, as this tale will show by example. (4885-4936.)

Adrian and Bardus. Adrian, a great lord of Rome, while hunting in a forest, fell into a pit. He cried for help all day, but none heard till evening, when one Bardus, a woodcutter, came by with his ass, and heard Adrian promise to give half his goods to him who should help him. He let down a rope, and first an ape and then a serpent was drawn up by it. Bardus was terrified, but still the voice implored help, and at length Adrian was drawn up. At once this lord departed without thanks, and threatened Bardus with vengeance if ever he should claim the promise. The poor man went home, not daring to speak more, and on the next day, going to get wood, he found that the ape had requited his kindness by gathering for him a great heap of sticks, and so continued to do day by day; and the serpent brought him a precious stone in her mouth. This last he sold to a jeweller and afterwards found it again in his purse, and as often as he sold it, the same thing followed. At length this came to be known, and the Emperor heard of it. Calling Bardus before him he listened to his tale, and gave judgement that Adrian should fulfil his promise. (4937-5162.)

Flee this vice, my son, for many lovers are thus unkind.

Alas, father, that such a man should be, who when he has had what[Pg lxxii] he would of love, can find it in his heart to be false. As for me, I dare not say that my lady is guilty of this Unkindness, but I for my part am free.

Thou must not complain of thy lady, my son. Perchance thy desire is not such as she in honour can grant. It is well that thou art not guilty of Unkindness, and I will tell thee a tale to keep thee in that course. (5163-5230.)

Theseus and Ariadne. Minos, king of Crete, having war with those of Athens, compelled them as a tribute to send nine men yearly, whom he gave to be devoured by Minotaurus. The lot fell at last upon Theseus, son of the king of Athens, and he went with the rest to Crete. Adriagne, daughter of Minos, loved him, and she gave him help to slay the monster. Then he took her away with him by ship, and her sister Fedra went in their company. They rested in the isle of Chio, and there he left Adriagne sleeping, and sailed away with Fedra. Thus by his ingratitude and falsehood he broke the law of love, and evil came of it afterwards. (5231-5495.)

5505-6074. Ravine. Ravine, in whose service is extortion, seizes other men’s goods without right and without payment. So there are lovers who will take possession by force. (5505-5550.)

Tereus. Pandion, king of Athens, had two daughters, Progne and Philomene. Progne was married to Tereus, king of Thrace, and desiring to see her sister, she sent Tereus to Athens to bring her. Coming back in company with Philomene he ravished her, and then maddened by her reproaches cut out her tongue, so that she could speak no articulate words. Then he shut her up in prison, and coming home to his wife, he told her that her sister was dead. Philomene in her prison prayed for deliverance, and at length weaving her story with letters and imagery in a cloth of silk, she sent it by a privy messenger to Progne. Progne delivered her sister, and together they concerted vengeance, with prayers to Venus, Cupid and Apollo. Progne slew the son which she had by Tereus and served up his flesh to him for meat, and when he would have pursued the sisters to take vengeance, the gods transformed them all three, Philomene to a nightingale, which complains ever for her lost maidenhead, Progne to a swallow, which twitters round houses and warns wives of the falsehood of their husbands, and Tereus to a lapwing, the falsest of birds, with a crest upon his head in token that he was a knight. (5551-6047.)

Father, I would choose rather to be trodden to death by wild horses or torn in pieces, than do such a thing as this against love’s law. (6048-6074.)

6075-6492. Robbery. The vice of Robbery gets his sustenance by that which he can take on the high-roads, in woods and in fields. So there are lovers, who, if they find a woman in a lonely place, will take a part of her wares, no matter who she may be; and the wife who[Pg lxxiii] sits at home waiting for her husband’s return from hunting will hear from him nothing of this, but only how his hounds have run or his hawks have flown. (6075-6144.)

Neptune and Cornix. Cornix was a maid attendant on Pallas, and as she went upon the shore, Neptune thought to rob her of the treasure which passes all others and is called the maidenhead. She prayed to Pallas, and by her help escaped from him in the form of a crow, rejoicing more to keep her maidenhead white under the blackness of the feathers than to lose it and be adorned with the fairest pearls. (6145-6217.)

Calistona. King Lichaon had a daughter Calistona, who desired ever to be a maiden and dwelt with the nymphs of Diane. Jupiter by craft stole her maidenhead, and Diane discovering it reproached her, so that she fled away. She was delivered of a son, Archas, but Juno in vengeance transformed her into a bear. In that likeness she met her son in the forest, and he bent his bow against her, but Jupiter ordained for them both so that they were saved from misfortune. (6225-6337.)

Such Robbery, my son, is ever to be avoided, and I will tell thee how in old days Virginity was held in esteem.

Valerius tells how the Emperor did honour to the virgin, when he met her in the way, and we hear also of Phirinus, who thrust out his eyes in order that he might the better keep his virginity.

Valentinian moreover, the Emperor, in his old age rejoiced more that he had overcome his flesh, than that he had conquered his enemies in battle. (6338-6428.)

Evil follows when Virginity is taken away in lawless manner, as when Agamenon took Criseide from the city of Lesbon, and plague came upon the host, so that they sent her back with prayer and sacrifice.

Therefore do no Robbery in love’s cause, my son. (6429-6492.)

6493-6960. Stealth. Coveitise has also a servant called Stealth, who takes his prey in secret, coming into houses at night, or cutting purses by day. Like the dog that comes back from worrying sheep, he looks all innocent, so that no man knows what he has done. There are lovers also who take by stealth, either kisses or other things. Hast thou done so? (6493-6561.)

I dare not, father, for my heart is hers and will not do anything against her. Moreover Danger is so watchful a warden that none can steal anything from her. Strong locks make thieves into honest men, and by no lying in wait can I slip through his guard. Yet at night I often wake when others sleep, and I look out from my window upon the houses round, and mark the chamber where she lies. I stand there long in the cold and wish for some device of sorcery, whereby I might enter that chamber and steal. It brings me ease for the time to think of these things, but it profits me nothing in the end. It is for you to judge if I deserve penance for this or no.

[Pg lxxiv]

Stealth does little good, my son, in the end. I will tell thee a tale from Ovid of stealth which was done by day. (6562-6712.)

Leucothoe. Phebus loved Leuchotoe, whom her mother kept close in chamber and seldom allowed to go forth. On a day he came in suddenly through her chamber wall and stole her maidenhead. Her father, when he knew, dared not take quarrel with Phebus, but without pity he caused her to be buried alive; and Phebus wrought so that she sprang up as a golden flower, which ever follows the sun. (6713-6783.)

No wonder that this came to evil, my father, because it was done in broad day, but lovers sometimes have kept their thefts more secret. Tell me of something done by night. (6784-6806.)

Hercules and Faunus. Hercules and Eolen, going together on a pilgrimage towards Rome, rested in a cave. Faunus, with Saba and her nymphs, were in a wood hard by, and Faunus, having had a sight of Eolen, thought to come by night and steal. Hercules and Eolen went to rest on separate beds, having to offer sacrifice on the morrow, and as they had exchanged clothes with one another in sport, she had his mace by her and his clothes upon her bed, and he her wimple round his face and her mantle over him. The servants slept like drunken swine. Faunus came into the cave, and feeling the mace and lion’s skin, he left her bed alone and went over to the other. Hercules seized him and threw him on the floor, where he still lay helpless on the morrow, a laughing-stock to Saba and the nymphs.

I have too faint a heart, father, for any such michery. (6807-6960.)

6961-7609. Sacrilege. God has laid down a law that men shall not steal, but work for their sustenance, and yet there are those who will even take the goods of holy Church, and this is called Sacrilege. [There are three kinds of Sacrilege, namely, theft of holy thing from holy place, of common thing from holy place, or of holy thing from common place. (7015*-7029*.)] Three princes especially in old days were guilty of this, Antiochus, Nabuzardan and Nabugodonosor. This last wrought sacrilege in the temple at Jerusalem, and Baltazar his heir paid the penalty. (6961-7031.) [A tale is told of one Lucius at Rome, who robbed the statue of Apollo of a ring, a golden mantle and a golden beard, and excused himself, saying that he took the ring because it was held out towards him and offered, the mantle because it was too heavy for summer and too cold for winter, and the beard because it was not fit that Apollo should have a beard, when his father, who stood near him, was beardless. Thus can men feign and excuse themselves. (7105*-7209*.)]

There are lovers who at mass will whisper in their lady’s ear or take from her hand a ring or glove. Some go to churches to seek out women and to show themselves there in fresh array, looking round upon them all and sighing, so that each thinks it is for her; and yet such[Pg lxxv] a man loves none of them, but goes there only to steal their hearts. All this is Sacrilege.

My father, I do not so: but when my lady goes to matins or to mass, thither I go also; and then my looks are for her alone, and my prayers are that God may change her heart. I watch and wait to steal from her a word or look, and when I lead her up to the offering with my hand about her waist, I win a touch as well. Except in such things I have done no Sacrilege, but it is my power and not my will that fails.

Thy will is to blame, my son; the rest that thou hast said is of little account. Yet all things have their time and place: the church is for prayer and the chamber for other things. That thou mayest know how Sacrilege is punished, I will spend on thee a tale. (7032-7194.)

Paris and Helen. Lamedon was king of Troy, and against him the Greeks made war, and they slew him and destroyed his city. With other prisoners they took the fair Esiona his daughter, and she was given to Thelamon. Priamus, son of Lamedon, built up Troy again, and with advice of his parliament he sent Antenor to demand back Esiona. The Greeks and Thelamon stoutly refused his request, and Priamus called his parliament again to debate of war or peace. Hector spoke for peace, alleging grounds of prudence, though he was ever the first in war; but his brother Paris gave his voice for avenging the wrong. He told how, as he slept beside a well, three goddesses came before him in a vision, and Venus, to whom he assigned the golden apple which was the prize of beauty, had promised to give him in Greece the fairest woman of all the earth. Paris then went forth to Greece, though Cassandra and Helenus lamented for the evil that was to come. Landed in an isle he met the queen Heleine, who came to do sacrifice there to Venus, and he stole her heart. Heleine was in the temple all the night, offering prayer to Venus, and Paris came all suddenly and bore her to his ship. This Sacrilege was the cause why the Greeks laid siege about Troy, and at last burnt and slew all that was within it. (7195-7590.)

Note also how Achilles saw Polixena in the temple of Apollo, and how Troilus first laid his love on Criseide in a holy place. Take heed therefore to thyself.

Thus Avarice has more branches than any other vice, and the working of it is everywhere seen; but if a man would live rightly, he must do Largess. (7591-7640.)

7641-7844. Prodigality and Largess. Virtue lies between two extremes: here we see Avarice and Prodigality, and between them Liberality or Largess, which holds the middle path between too much and too little. Where Largess guides a man, he does what is right both to God and the world, and God rewards him with the gift of heaven. The world gives ever to him who hath; but it is better to give than to receive, to have thine own good than to crave that of[Pg lxxvi] others. ‘If thy good suffice thee not, then refrain thy desires and suffice to thy good.’ Charity begins with itself: if thou enrich others making thyself poor, thou wilt have little thanks. ‘Jack is a good fellow,’ they say while his money lasts, but when that is gone, then ‘Jack was a good fellow,’ and they leave him to starve. (7641-7760.)

There are lovers who spend and waste their love with Prodigality, setting their heart upon many. But he who makes himself thus common, loses the special love of one, if she be wise. Hast thou thus wasted thy love?

Nay, father: I have tasted here and there, but never truly loved any excepting one. On her indeed my love is wasted, for it brings no return: I know not whether this is what ye mean by Prodigality.

My son, perchance thy love is not lost nor wasted. None can say how such a thing will end; therefore I know not whether thou hast lost or won. As summer returns after winter, so perchance thou mayest yet recover thy grace of love. (7761-7834.)

Lib. VI.

1-14. Gluttony. The great original sin which brought death on all mankind was Gule, that is, Gluttony. The branches of it are many, but I shall speak of two only.

15-616. Drunkenness makes a wise man foolish and a fool think himself wise. The drunken man thinks that there is nothing that he does not know and nothing that he cannot do, yet he is withal so helpless that he can neither stand nor go; he knows not what he is, nor whether it is day or night. In the morning he calls again for the cup which made him lose his wits at night. The wine binds him fast and makes him a subject and a slave. (5-75.)

There are lovers so besotted with love, that they know no more than drunken men what reason is. The greatest men have been thus overcome: Salomon, Sampson, David, Virgil and Aristotle. Confess if thou art thus drunken, for I think by thy countenance thou art schapen to this malady.

It is true, my father: I confess that I am drunk with love, and often I know not what I do, so that men marvel at me. When I am absent from my lady I am drunk with the thoughts of her, and when I am present, with looking upon her. At times I am in Paradise, and then I wake and my joy is turned to woe. I suffer then the fever of hot and cold, and the evil is that the more I drink, the more I am athirst. Yet I think if I had truly a draught of the drink that I desire, I should be sobered and do well; but tasting of this is forbidden me. (76-305.)

Love-drunkenness, my son, is a grievous thing, and yet none can withstand it. It is not all of one kind, for Jupiter has two tuns full of love-drink in his cellar, the one sweet and the other bitter. Cupid[Pg lxxvii] is butler of both, and being blind he gives men to drink of them by chance, now of this and now of that, so that some laugh and others lower. I know by thy tale that thou hast drunk of the potion that is bitter. (306-390.)

Bacchus in the Desert. But thou must ever pray to attain to the other, whereby thy thirst may be allayed, as Bacchus prayed in the desert, when he and all his host were in danger of perishing by thirst. Jupiter sent a ram, which spurned the ground, and there sprang up a fountain of water. (391-439.)

Pray thou thus in thy need: a dumb man seldom gets land. Remember moreover that the butler is blind, and he may by chance give thee a drink of the sweet, which shall cause thee to grow sober.

Of love-drunkenness an example is Tristram, who drank with Bele Ysolde of the drink which Brangwein gave them: and that thou may the more eschew the company of drunken men, hear this tale. (440-484.)

Marriage of Pirithous. The fair Ipotacie was wedded to Pirotoüs, and he invited his friends to the feast. They became drunk both with wine and with desire, and so they carried away the bride by violence from her husband. (485-529.)

Galba and Vitellus were rulers of Spain, and so drunken were they both that the land cried out against them. They ravished both wife and maid, but at length they were brought under the law and condemned to die. Then they filled full a great vessel of wine and drank until their senses left them, and so they were slain, being already half dead. (537-595.)

617-1260. Delicacy. The vice of Delicacy will not lack any pleasure which meat or drink can give, and desires always something new.

So he who is delicate in love cannot content himself with what he has; but though he have a fair wife, yet he will set his heart on others, and though his lady make him cheer, he must have more than she can with honour give.

I am not guilty of this, father: I would be satisfied if I could be fed at all, except with woe. Yet some dainties I pick which please me for the time. (617-752.)

My sight is fed with dainties when I look upon her face and form, yet it may never be fed to the full, but always longs for more. (753-826.)

My hearing has a dainty feast when men commend her worthiness and grace, and above all when I hear her speak, for her words are to me like the winds of the South. Or again, I feed my ears with tales of those who loved before I was born, of Ydoine and Amadas and of many more, and I think how sorrow endures but for a time. (827-898.)

Finally, I have a cook whose name is Thought, who keeps his pots ever boiling with fancy and desire, and sets before me on the table all[Pg lxxviii] the pleasant sights that I have seen and words that I have heard. Yet it is no full meal, but one of woulds and wishes, so that the food I have does me little good, and serves only to keep off starvation, till I have the feast which shall satisfy my hunger. (899-938.)

Such are my three delights, and I take my food thus of thinking, hearing and seeing, as a plover does of air. By Delicacy such as this I hope that I do no Gluttony.

It is in small things only that thou hast thy delight, my son; but remember always that the delights of the body do grievance to the soul. (939-974.)

Dives and Lazarus. Christ tells a tale against this vice, which is read in Latin, but for the better knowledge of the truth I will declare it in English. Christ saith, &c. (975-1109.)

Thus, my son, he who follows Delicacy and gives no alms shall fall into distress. He who has power over the good things of this world may wear the richest ornaments and eat the choicest food, yet he must put away Delicacy, if he would not starve his soul while feeding his body. (1110-1150.)

Nero followed his lusts against nature, and in regard to Delicacy he wrought a subtle thing to know how his stomach fared. He chose three men to eat and drink at his table. On a certain day after meat he caused one to ride, another to walk, and the third to sleep, and after this he killed them, in order that he might see which had best digested his food.

He refrained from nothing that was pleasant to him, and above all he set his heart on women, so that he spared neither wife nor maid. So drunk was he with his lusts. (1151-1226.)

Delicacy and Drunkenness go together and pass all bounds of reason. Thus too Love is at times so unrestrained that he takes no heed of God’s law, but calls in the powers of heaven and earth and hell to achieve his purpose. (1227-1260.)

1261-2407. Sorcery. There is nothing that love will not dare. He follows no law but his own, and goes forth like Bayard the blind horse, till he fall into the ditch. Thus at times he follows Sorcery, whether Geomance, Ydromance, Piromance or Nigromance, with all the craft both of invocation of spirits and of natural magic.

I know nothing of this, father; but to win my lady I would once have done all that might be done, whether in hell or heaven.

That goes very near, my son: but I warn thee that he who does so is beguiled at last, and that Sorcery has no good end. (1261-1390.)

Ulysses and Telegonus. Of those that were at Troy Uluxes had a name above all for craft and magic arts. This king was vexed by storms as he returned, and in spite of needle and stone his ship was driven upon the strand of Cilly, where he found two queens, Calipsa and Circes. These were sorceresses and they changed many of his[Pg lxxix] men to the form of beasts, but he overcame them with his sorceries, and at length he took his course for home, leaving Circes with child. His wife and all his people rejoiced at his home-coming, but when a man is most in his prosperity, then fortune makes him soonest fall. He had a dream, as he lay upon his bed, and he seemed to see a form of heavenly beauty. He embraced that image and it embraced him again, and it said to him: ‘Our acquaintance shall be hereafter to our sorrow: one of us two shall take his death from this love in which we now rejoice.’ It showed him then a sign, three fishes wrought upon a pennon, and so all suddenly went forth from him.

Uluxes started from sleep, and making his calculations upon this, he judged that the danger was to be feared from his son Thelamachus. Him therefore he shut up within castle wall, and he made for himself a stronghold and set his servants to keep guard. But none can make resistance against his fate: Thelogonus, his son by Circes, came to find his father, bearing as his ensign a pennon with three fishes upon his spear, and he came to this stronghold of Uluxes. The guards denied him entrance and an affray arose at the gate. The king came forth, and Thelogonus cast his spear at him, not knowing who he was. Uluxes was wounded to death, but he recognized the figure of his dream and the sign upon the pennon, and embraced his son, commending him to the care of Thelamachus before he died.

Lo, what evil came to him of Sorcery: by Sorcery he begat his son, and that which was done against nature was against nature avenged. (1391-1788.)

Nectanabus. The king of Egypt, Nectanabus, a great magician, fled from his enemies to Macedoine. In the chief city there the queen Olimpias kept the feast of her nativity and rode forth to be seen by the people. Nectanabus stood with the others, and gazed upon her so steadfastly, that the queen sent for him and asked him who he was. He replied that he was one who had a message for her, which must be said in private. She appointed a time, and he told her how the god Amos of Lybia desired to be her bedfellow and would beget a child of her who should subdue the whole earth. To prove his words he caused her by his magic to have a vision, which she took for prophecy; and so at length, coming in the person of the god and transforming himself into various shapes, he had his will of her and begat a son. Nectanabus caused Philip the king, being from home, to have a vision whereby he supposed that a god had lain with his wife, and returning he found her with child. Still he doubted, but by further signs and wonders Nectanabus caused him to forget his jealousy. Amid portents of earthquake and of tempest the child was born, and his name was called Alexander. He grew up, and Aristotle taught him philosophy, while Nectanabus instructed him in astronomy. On a certain night, when they were upon a tower observing the stars, Nectanabus prophesied[Pg lxxx] by them that his own death should be by the hands of his son. Alexander, to prove that he lied, threw him from the tower to the ground, asking what was the use of his art if he could not prophesy his own fate rightly. Nectanabus made known the truth, and Alexander was sorry, and told his mother how it was. Thus he died and was buried, and this was the reward of Sorcery. (1789-2366.)

Zoroaster too and Saul came to evil by Sorcery. I counsel thee never to use this, my son. (2367-2400.)

I will not, father. But I beseech you tell me something of that Philosophy which, as ye said, Aristotle taught to Alexander: for to hear of something new might ease my pain.

Thou sayest well; but I, who am of the school of Venus, know not much of this high lore. Yet, as it is comprehended in a book, I can in part show forth to thee how it is. (2401-2440.)

Lib. VII.

1-60. Thou hast prayed me to declare to thee the school of Aristotle, and how Alexander was taught. This is not the matter on which we were set to speak; yet since wisdom is to be desired above all things, I will tell thee of that which Calistre and Aristotle wrote to Alexander.

There are three principal points of Philosophy: Theoric, Rhetoric, Practic.

61-1506. Theoric. The parts of Theoric are three: Theology, Physics and Mathematics. The first treats of God and things spiritual; the second of bodily things, such as man, beast, herb and stone; and the third has four divisions, Arithmetic, Music, Geometry and Astronomy. (61-202.)

Aristotle taught this young king of the four elements and the four complexions of man, of the principal divisions of the earth, and of the fifth element, Orbis, which contains the whole. (203-632.)

To speak next of Astronomy, this Orbis is that which we call the firmament, and in it are first the seven Planets, and then the twelve Signs of the Zodiac, about each of which Alexander was taught in turn. (633-1280.)

Nectanabus, teaching him natural magic, informed him of the Fifteen Stars and of the stone and herb appropriate to each, by means of which wonders may be worked. (1281-1438.)

The authors who taught this science of Astronomy were first Noë, then Nembrot, and after them many others, but principally Tholomee, who wrote the book of Almagest, and Hermes. (1439-1492.)

Thus these Philosophers taught Alexander in regard to that which is called Theoric. (1493-1506.)

1507-1640. Rhetoric. Speech is given to man alone and he must take heed that he turn it to no evil use. There is virtue in stones and in herbs, but word has virtue more than any earthly thing. But the[Pg lxxxi] word must not be discordant with the thought, as when Uluxes by his eloquence persuaded Anthenor to betray to him the city of Troy. Words are both evil and good, they make friend of foe and foe of friend. For a true example of Rhetoric read how Julius and the consul Cithero pleaded against one another when the treason of Catiline was discovered.

1641-5397. Practic. This has three divisions, Ethics, Economics and Politics. A king must learn the first in order that he may rule himself in the way of good living, the second teaches him how to order his household, and the third how to govern his kingdom. (1641-1710.)

1711-1984. The first point of Policy is Truth, which above all things ought to be found in a king; and this is in part signified by the jewels of his crown.

To show thee that Truth is the sovereign virtue of all, I will tell thee a tale. (1711-1782.)

King, Wine, Woman and Truth. Daires, Soldan of Perce, had three wise men about his chamber, Arpaghes, Manachaz and Zorobabel. To them he put the question, which is strongest, wine, woman, or a king. Of this they disputed in turn, and Arpaghes said, ‘A king is the strongest, for he has power over men and can raise them up and cast them down: also he alone stands free from the law.’ Manachaz said, ‘Wine is the strongest, for this takes reason away from the wise and makes the fool seem learned, this turns cowardice to courage and avarice to largess.’ Zorobabel said, ‘Women are the strongest, for the king and all other men come of women and bow to the love of women,’ and he told how he had seen Cirus upon his throne overcome by the love of Apemen, daughter of Besazis, so that she did with him what she would. Women too make men desire honour, and woman is next to God the greatest help of man, as Alceste, wife of Ametus, gave her life to save her husband. Thus Zorobabel told his opinion, but nevertheless he said that above all these the mightiest of all earthly things is Truth: and so the question was concluded, and Zorobabel was most commended for his judgement. (1783-1984.)

1985-2694. Largess is the second point of Policy. A king must be free from the vices both of Avarice and of Prodigality. As Aristotle taught by the ill example of the king of Chaldee, he must spend his own substance and not that of his people, he must do justice before he makes gifts, and his gifts must be to those who have deserved them. (1985-2060.)

Julius and the poor Knight. A knight came to plead his cause at Rome, where the Emperor Julius was in presence; but he could get no advocate, because he was poor. He prayed for justice to the Emperor, and Julius assigned him an advocate. The knight was angry, and said, ‘When I was with thee in Afric, I fought myself and put no man in my stead: and so thou here shouldest speak for me[Pg lxxxii] thyself.’ Julius took his cause in hand; and thus every worthy king should help his servants when in need. (2061-2114.)

Antigonus and Cinichus. A king should know how much to give. A poor knight asked King Antigonus for a great sum, and he replied, ‘That is too much for thee to ask’: then when the knight asked a very small gift, he said, ‘That is too little for me to give.’

Kings must not exceed the due measure in giving, and especially they ought not to give to flatterers, who offend against God, against the prince and against the people. Yet flattery is always found in the courts of kings. (2115-2216.)

Diogenes and Aristippus. Two Philosophers went from Carthage to Athens to learn, and thence returned again. The one, Diogenes, was content to dwell apart and study, the other, Arisippus, went to court and got honour and wealth by flattery. Diogenes was gathering herbs in his garden and washing them in the river, when Arisippus passed by with a company, and said, ‘If thou hadst known how to make thyself pleasing to thy prince, there would have been no need for thee to pick herbs.’ The other replied, ‘If thou hadst known how to pick herbs, there would have been no need for thee to make thyself pleasing by thy flatteries.’ (2217-2317.)

But the example of Arisippus is chiefly followed, and flattery is that which makes men beloved. [Dante the poet said once to a flatterer, ‘Thou hast many more servants than I, for a poet cannot find how to feed and clothe himself, but a flatterer may rule and lead a king and all his land.’] There was a custom among the Romans, which was established against flattery, as follows. (2318-2354.)

Roman Triumph. When an Emperor had a triumph after victory, he went in pomp with four white horses and the nobles of the land before and behind him: but one sat with him in his car, who said continually, ‘Know thyself, and remember that good fortune is only for a time.’ Moreover he and every other man might speak whatever truth he knew to the Emperor, whether good or bad. (2355-2411.)

The Emperor and his Masons. Again, when an Emperor was enthroned, his masons came to ask him how he would have the stone made for his tomb. There was no flattery then, to deceive princes. (2412-2448.)

Caesar’s Answer. One came and did reverence to Cesar, as if he were a god: then he came and sat down by his side as an equal. ‘If thou art a god,’ he said, ‘I have done well in worshipping thee, but if a man, in sitting by thy side.’ Cesar answered that he was a fool, and had done ill in one of two things, either in sitting by the side of his god or in worshipping a mere man. They that heard this took it as a lesson against flattery. (2449-2490.)

The king who bestows his goods upon flatterers does harm to himself and his land. There is an example in the Bible. (2491-2526.)

[Pg lxxxiii]

Ahab and Micaiah. 1 Kings xxii. (2527-2694.)

2695-3102. Justice is the third point of Policy. A land is nothing without men, and men cannot be without law. It is for the king above all others to guide the law, and though he is above the law, yet he must not do things which are against it. He must make his own life right towards God, and then endeavour to rule his people rightly, and he must see that his judges are both wise and true. (2695-2764.)

Maximin, when he appointed a judge, inquired carefully whether he were virtuous or no. Thus the course of law was not hindered by coveitise. (2765-2782.)

Gaius Fabricius, consul of Rome, when the Samnites brought him gold, tried it with taste and smell, and said he knew not for what it would serve. It was better, he said, to rule the men who had the gold, than to possess gold and lose the liberty to be just. (2783-2817.)

In those times none was preferred to the office of judge unless he were a friend to the common right. (2818-2832.)

Conrad ordered matters so that in his time no man durst set aside the law for gold. (2833-2844.)

Carmidotoire the consul slew himself rather than allow his own law to be broken, when by inadvertence he had come armed to the Senate-house. (2845-2888.)

Cambyses flayed a corrupt judge, and nailed his skin upon the chair where his son was set to judge in his place. (2889-2904.)

Ligurgius, prince of Athens, having established good laws in his city, took an oath from the citizens that they would change nothing during his absence; and so he departed, never to return, desiring that Athens might still enjoy good laws. (2917-3028.)

The first Lawgivers. The names of those who first made laws ought to be handed down to fame. They are Moses, Mercurius, Neuma Pompilius, Ligurgius, Foroneus, Romulus. Kings ought to be led by law, and it is a scandal to a king if the law be not executed. (3029-3102.)

3103-4214. The fourth point of Policy is Pity. This is the virtue by which the King of kings was moved when he sent his Son down to this earth. Every subject should fear his king, and every king should have mercy on his people. [The apostle James says that he who shows no pity shall find none. Cassodre says that the kingdom is safe where pity dwells. Tullius that the king who is overcome by pity bears a shield of victory. We read how a knight appealed from the wrath of Alexander to his pity and so obtained grace. (3149*-3179*.)] Constantine said, ‘He who is a servant to pity, is worthy to rule all else.’ Troian said that he desired his people to obey him rather from love than fear. (3103-3162.)

[The Pagan and the Jew. Two travellers went through the desert together, and each asked the other of his belief. The one said, ‘I am[Pg lxxxiv] a Pagan, and by my faith I ought to love all men alike and do to others as I would they should do to me.’ The other, ‘I am a Jew, and by my faith I ought to be true to no man, except he be a Jew, as I am.’ The day was hot and the Pagan rode on an ass with his baggage, while the Jew went on foot. The Jew asked the Pagan to let him ease his weariness by riding, and the other assented. So they went on, but when the Pagan desired his ass back, the Jew rode on, saying that thus he did his duty by his law. The Pagan prayed to God to judge his quarrel, and going on further he found the Jew slain by a lion and the ass with the baggage standing by him. Thus a man may know how the pitiful man deserves pity, and that lack of pity is the cause of evil. (3207*-3360*.)]

Codrus, king of Athens, having a war, was informed by Apollo that either he must perish in the battle or his people be discomfited. He had pity upon his people and gave his life for them. Where have we such kings now? (3163-3214.)

Pompey had war against the king of Ermenie, and having taken him captive, he gave him his crown again and restored him to his kingdom. (3215-3248.)

Cruelty is the opposite of Pity. (3249-3266.)

Leoncius the tyrant cruelly cut off the nose and lips of the merciful Justinian: he was so served himself by Tiberius, and Justinian was restored to the empire. (3267-3294.)

Siculus the cruel king caused Berillus to make a bull of brass, within which men should be burnt to death. Berillus was himself the first who suffered this torture. (3295-3332.)

Dionys fed his horses on man’s flesh and was slain by Hercules. (3341-3354.)

Lichaon devoured the bodies of his guests and was changed into a wolf. (3355-3369.)

Tyranny may not last. The Lion will not slay the man who falls down before him to entreat mercy, and how then ought a Prince to destroy the man who asks his mercy? Yet some tyrants have been so cruel that Pity cannot move them. (3370-3416.)

Spertachus, a warrior and a cruel man, made war on the queen Thameris, and having taken her son prisoner, he slew him without mercy. The queen gathered a power and took the tyrant in an ambush. Then she filled a vessel with the blood of his princes and cast him therein, bidding him drink his fill of blood. (3417-3513.)

A king, however, must not fail to slay in the cause of Justice, and he must be a champion of his people without any weak pity. If he fears without cause, he is like those in the fable who were in dread when the Mountain was in labour, and at length it brought forth a mouse.

As there is a time for peace, so there is also a time for war, and here too virtue stands between two extremes, between foolish pity and rash[Pg lxxxv] cruelty. Of men who have undertaken war for a righteous cause there are examples in the Bible, and of those I will tell thee one. (3514-3626.)

Story of Gideon. Judges vii. (3627-3806.)

Saul and Agag. Saul failed to obey God’s command to slay Agag, showing pity wrongfully: therefore he lost his life and his kingdom. (3807-3845.)

On the other hand Salomon obeyed his father David’s command in slaying Joab, and yet he showed mercy in his reign and wrought no tyranny. Also he was wise and had worthy men about him, and there is nothing better for a ruler than Wisdom. Salomon asked for this gift from God, and this it is which a king chiefly needs in order to hold the balance even between Justice and Pity. (3846-3944.)

Courtiers and Fool. Lucius, king of Rome, asked his steward and his chamberlain what men said about him. The steward merely flattered in his reply, but the chamberlain answered that people thought he would be a worthy king if he had good counsellors. The fool, who played with his bauble by the fire, laughed at both, and said, ‘If the king were wise, the council would not be bad.’ Thus the king was instructed and put away his bad counsellors. (3945-4010.)

Folly of Rehoboam. 1 Kings xii. 1-20. (4027-4129.)

Counsel of young men thus leads to ruin. There is a question whether it is better that the king be wise or his council. The answer is that it is better to have wise counsellors. (4130-4180.)

The Emperor Anthonius said he would rather have one of his subjects saved than a thousand of his enemies slain. Mercy mingled with justice is the foundation of every king’s rule. Thus I have spoken of four points, Truth, Largess, Pity and Justice. There is yet a fifth. (4181-4214.)

4215-5397. Chastity, the fifth point of Policy. The male is made for the female, but one must not desire many. A man must keep the troth he has plighted in marriage, and this all the more in the high and holy estate of a king.

Aristotle advised Alexander to frequent the company of fair women, but not to beguile himself with them. For it is not they who beguile the men, but the men beguile themselves. The water is not to blame if a man drown himself in it, nor the gold if men covet it. It is by nature that a man loves, but not by nature that he loses his wits: that is like frost in July or hose worn over the shoe. Yet great princes have been thus misled. (4215-4312.)

Sardanapalus lost his kingdom and his honour, because he became effeminate in his lusts. (4313-4343.)

David, however, though he loved many women, preserved the honour of knighthood. (4344-4360.)

Cyrus had a war with the Lydians, and he could not conquer them.[Pg lxxxvi] Then, feigning, he made a perpetual peace with them, and they fell into idleness and fleshly lust, so that he subdued them easily. (4361-4405.)

Balaam advised king Amalech to send fair women among the Hebrews, and these led them into lust, so that they were discomfited in battle, till Phinees caused them to amend their ways. (4406-4445.)

This virtue of Chastity belongs especially to a king.

Salomon took wives of sundry nations and did idolatry in his folly. Therefore after his death his kingdom was divided.

Antonie, son of Severus, gave an evil example of lust; and the tale which here follows will show what is the end of tyranny and lechery. (4446-4592.)

Tarquin the tyrant had many sons, and among them Arrons. He had a war with the Gabiens, and to their city Arrons went, showing wounds which he said he had received from his father and brethren. They took him as their leader, and he by his father’s advice cut off the heads of their chief men, and so the Romans conquered the city. They made a solemn sacrifice in the temple of Phebus, and a serpent came and devoured the offerings and quenched the fires. Phebus said that this was for the sin and pride of Tarquin and his son, and that he who should first kiss his mother, should avenge the wrong. Brutus fell to the ground and kissed his mother Earth. (4593-4753.)

Tarquin had a war afterwards with Ardea, and they were long at the siege. A dispute arose between Arrons and Collatin as to the virtue of their wives, and they rode to Rome to see how they were employed. At the palace they found the wife of Arrons full of mirth and thinking nothing of her husband; at the house of Collatin, Lucrece was working with her women and praying for her husband’s return. Arrons was smitten with love of her, and returning again the next day he ravished her. She on the morrow called her husband and her father, with whom came Brutus, and told them her tale. Refusing their forgiveness she slew herself, and they took the body into the market-place, where Brutus told the tale to the people. They remembered also the former evil doings of Tarquin and his son, and sent both into exile. (4754-5130.)

Virginia. When Appius Claudius was governor of Rome, he set his desire upon a gentle maid, daughter of Livius Virginius, and he caused his brother Marcus to claim her unrightfully as his slave. Her father was with the host, but he rode hastily to Rome; and when Appius adjudged her to his brother against the law, finding that he could save her from dishonour in no other way, he thrust her through with his sword and made his way back to the host. Thus the tyranny came to men’s ears and the unrighteous king was deposed by the common consent. (5131-5306.)

As an example of chastity in marriage we read the story of Sarra the[Pg lxxxvii] daughter of Raguel. Seven men who married her were strangled by the fiend Asmod, because they took her only for lust; but Thobie, taught by Raphael, had his will and yet kept the law of marriage. God has bound beasts by the law of nature only, but men must follow also the law of reason and do no lechery. Thus the philosopher taught to Alexander. (5307-5397.)

I thank you, father. The tales sound in my ears, but my heart is elsewhere; for nothing can make me forget my love. Leave all else therefore, and let us return to our shrift.

Yes, my son, there is one point more, and this is the last. (5398-5438.)

Lib. VIII.

1-198. Laws of Marriage. God created Adam and Eve to repair the loss of Lucifer and his angels, and bade them increase and multiply. In the first generation by God’s law brother and sister were joined in marriage, then afterwards cousin wedded cousin, as in the time of Habraham and Jacob. At last under Christian law Marriage was forbidden also in the third degree. Yet some men take no heed to kinship or religion, but go as a cock among the hens and as a stallion among the mares. Such love may be sweet at first, but afterwards it is bitter.

199-2008. Examples of Incest. Caligula the Roman Emperor bereft his three sisters of their virginity: therefore God bereft him of his life and of his empire.

Amon lay with his sister Thamar, and Absolon his brother took vengeance upon him.

Lot lay with his daughters, and the stocks which came from them were not good.

Thus if a man so set his love, he will afterwards sorely repent it; and of this I think to tell a tale which is long to hear. (199-270.)

Apollonius of Tyre. In a Chronicle called Pantheon I read how king Antiochus ravished his daughter and lived with her in sin. To hinder her marriage, he proposed a problem to those who sought her love, and if a man failed to resolve it, he must lose his head. At length came the Prince Apollinus of Tyre, and the king proposed to him the question. He saw too clearly what the riddle meant, and Antiochus fearing shame put off the time of his reply for thirty days. (271-439.)

The Prince feared his vengeance and fled home to Tyre, and thence he departed secretly in a ship laden with wheat. Antiochus sent one Taliart in all haste to Tyre, with command to make away with the Prince by poison. Finding that Apollinus had fled, he returned.

In the meantime the Prince came to Tharsis, and took lodging there with one Strangulio and his wife Dionise. The city was suffering famine, and Apollinus gave them his wheat as a free gift, in return[Pg lxxxviii] for which they set up a statue of him in the common place. (440-570.)

A man came to him from Tyre and reported that king Antiochus desired to slay him. He was afraid and fled thence again by ship. A storm came upon him and the ship was wrecked: Apollinus alone came alive to land. A fisherman helped him and directed him to the town of Pentapolim, where he found the people gathered to see games, and the king and queen of the country there present. (571-695.)

He surpassed all others in the games, and the king called him to supper in his hall. At supper he was sad and ate nothing, and the king sent to him his daughter to console him. To her he told his name and country, and with that he let the tears run down his cheeks. She fetched a harp and sang to it, and he took it from her hand and played and sang divinely. They all saw that he was of gentle blood. (696-799.)

The king’s daughter desired her father that he might be her teacher, and in the course of time she turned with all her heart to love of him. She so lost her appetite for meat and drink and sleep that she was in danger of her life.

Three sons of princes demanded her in marriage, and she by letter informed her father how the matter stood: if she might not have Apollinus, she would have none other. (800-911.)

The king sent for Apollinus and showed him his daughter’s letter. He assented gladly, and the marriage took place with great festivity. Soon after this men came from Tyre reporting that Antiochus and his daughter were dead, having been both struck by lightning, and entreating him to return to his own people. All were rejoiced to hear that the king’s daughter had married so worthy a prince. (912-1019.)

Apollinus sailed away with his wife, she being with child. A storm arose and she began to be in travail. In anguish she was delivered of a maid child, but she herself lay dead. (1020-1058.)

Apollinus sorrowed as never man sorrowed before, but the master of the ship required that the dead body be cast out of the ship, because the sea will not hold within itself any dead creature, and the ship would be driven on the shore if the body remained within her. They made therefore a coffer closely bound with iron and covered with pitch, in which they placed the corpse, with gold and jewels, and with a letter praying that she might receive burial; and so they cast it overboard. Apollinus in the meantime sailed first to Tharsis. (1059-1150.)

The coffer was cast up at Ephesim and was found by Cerymon, a great physician. He by his art restored the seeming corpse to life, and she took upon herself the rule of religion and dwelt with other women in the temple of Diane. (1151-1271.)

Apollinus coming to Tharsis entrusted his infant daughter Thaise to the care of Strangulio and Dionise, and so he sailed on to Tyre. This[Pg lxxxix] daughter, until she was fourteen years old, grew up with the daughter of Strangulio, but Thaise was preferred to the other in all places where they went, and Dionise was therefore wroth. She bade her bondman Theophilus take Thaise down to the shore of the sea and there slay her. He brought her to the sea, but her cry called forth pirates from their hiding-place, who carried her with them away to Mitelene and sold her to Leonin, master of a brothel. (1272-1423.)

The young men who came to her were moved by compassion and did her no wrong, so that Leonin sent his own servant in to her. She entreated to be permitted to make gain for him in some other way, and being taken from the brothel and placed in security, she taught such things as gentlewomen desire to learn, and her name went forth over all the land. (1424-1497.)

Theophilus reported that he had slain Thaise, and Dionise, pretending that she had died suddenly, made a great funeral and set up a tomb with an epitaph. After this, Apollinus came to seek for his daughter at Tharsis, and hearing that she was dead, he put forth to sea again in grievous sorrow. He lay weeping alone in the darkness of the ship’s hold, until under stress of storm they came to Mitelene. (1498-1617.)

Hearing of his grief, the lord of the city, Athenagoras, sent Thaise to comfort him. He at first rejected all her consolation, but then to his joy discovered that she was the daughter for whom he mourned. Athenagoras asked for her in marriage and was wedded to her. (1618-1776.)

They went forth all together with intent to avenge the treason at Tharsis, but Apollinus was warned in a dream to go to Ephesim, and there in the temple of Diane he found the wife whom he supposed to have been dead. Thence they voyaged to Tyre and were received with joy. Athenagoras and Thaise were there crowned king and queen, and Apollinus sailed away and took due vengeance upon Strangulio and Dionise. (1777-1962.)

When this was done, a letter came to him from Pentapolim, praying him to come and receive that kingdom, since the king was dead. They had a good voyage thither, and he and his wife were crowned there and led their life happily. (1963-2008.)

Thus, my son, thou mayest see how it is with those that love in a good manner, but it is not love when men take their lust like beasts.

2029-3172. Conclusion. Father, I may acquit myself in this, but I entreat your counsel as to what way I shall follow in my love.

I counsel thee, my son, to labour no more in things which bring thee no profit. The end of every pleasure is pain. Love is blind, and makes all his servants blind: thou mayest yet withdraw and set thyself under the law of reason.

It is easy to say so, father. My woe is but a game to you, feeling[Pg xc] nothing of that which I feel. The hart that goes free knows not the sorrows of the ox under the yoke. But I entreat you to present for me a Supplication to Venus and Cupid, and bring me a good answer back. (2009-2188.)

Then arose a great debate between my Priest and me: my reason understood him well, but my will was against him. At length he agreed to deliver my Supplication, and with tears instead of ink I wrote the letter thus: ‘The wofull peine of loves maladie,’ &c. (2189-2300.)

The Priest went forth to present my petition, and I abode. Suddenly Venus stood by me, and I fell upon my knee and prayed her to do me grace. ‘What is thy name?’ she said, as if in game. ‘John Gower,’ I replied. ‘I have read thy bill,’ she said, ‘in which thou hast complained to Nature and to me. Nature is mistress where she will, and I excuse thee for following her law: but as for what thou sayest, that I am bound to relieve thee, because thou hast served in my Court, I will give thee medicine that will heal thy heart, but perchance it will not be such as thou desirest.’ (2301-2376.)

Half in scorn she spoke to me of my age and hoary locks, and counselled me to make a ‘beau retret,’ while there was yet time; for even though I should attain to my desire, I could not hold covenant duly with love.

I grew cold suddenly for sorrow of my heart, and lay swooning on the ground. Then methought I saw Cupid with his bow bent, and with him a great company, those gentle folk who once were lovers, arrayed in sundry bands. (2377-2459.)

Youth was the leader of one company, and these had garlands, some of the leaf and some of the flower. They went with piping and with song which resounded all about: they laughed and danced and played, and talked of knighthood and of ladies’ love. There was Tristram with Ysolde, Lancelot with Gunnore, Jason with Creusa, Hercules with Eole, Troilus with Criseide, but in his mirth he was yet heavy of cheer because of Diomede. Those also I saw who died for love, as Narcissus, Piramus, Achilles; and the women who were forsaken, Dido, Phillis, Adriagne, Deianire and Medea. Many others too I saw, but four women especially who were most commended as examples in marriage, Penolope, Lucrece, Alceste and Alcione. Youth, which led this company, took no heed of me. (2460-2665.)

Then came Eld, leading a company not so great. Their music was low and their dancing soft: they smiled, but they did not laugh aloud. There was David with Bersabee, and Salomon with his wives and concubines, Sampson with Dalida, and Aristotle with the queen of Greece; Virgil also and Plato and Ovid the poet. (2665-2725.)

When this company was come to the place where I lay, they entreated Venus for me, and even some of the younger band said that it was great pity. Cupid came with Venus to me as I lay, and the lovers all[Pg xci] pressed round to see. Some said that love was folly in the old, and others that no age could be free, and that while there was yet oil in the lamp, it might always be set alight. Cupid groped after me till he found me, and then he drew forth that fiery lance which before he had cast through my heart, and Venus anointed my wound with a cooling ointment and gave me a mirror in which I might behold myself. I saw my face wrinkled and my eyes dim, and I likened myself to that time of year when winter has despoiled the earth. Then Reason returned to me and I was made sober and sound. (2726-2869.)

Venus beheld me, and laughing asked me what Love was. I answered with confusion that I knew him not, and prayed that I might be excused from my attendance on her Court. As touching my Confession too, I asked an absolution, and the Priest gave it readily. Then the queen delivered to me a pair of beads to hang about my neck, and on them was written Por reposer in gold. ‘Thus,’ said she, ‘have I provided for thine ease, and my will is that thou pray for peace. Stay no more in my Court, but go where moral virtue dwells, where are those books which men say that thou hast written: thou and I must commune together never again.OAdieu, for I must go from thee.’ And so enveloped in a starry cloud, Venus was taken to her place above, and her Priest departed also at the same time. I stood for a while amazed; and then I smiled, thinking of the beads that she had given me and of the prayers that I should say. And thus I took my way softly homeward. (2870-2970.)

To God, the Creator of all things, I pray for the welfare of this land, and that it may have peace and unity, which every estate should desire. I pray that the clergy may work after the rule of charity, that the order of knighthood may cause extortion to cease and defend the right of the Church, that merchants may follow honesty, and above all that the king may keep himself and all the other estates of the kingdom in the right way. The king who humbly follows the law of[Pg xcii] God shall be blessed, and his name shall be remembered for ever. (2971-3105.)

I promised to make in English a book between play and earnest, and now I ask that I may be excused for lack of curious skill. I have written in rude plain words, as sickness and age would suffer me; and I pray my lords that I may stand in their grace, for I desire to do pleasure to those under whose rule I am. (3106-3137.)

And now my Muse bids me rest and write no more of love, which turns the heart away from reason. Of this love then I take my final leave. But that love which stands confirmed by charity, which may save the body and amend the soul, such love may God send us, that in heaven our joy may be without end. (3138-3172.)

iv. Orthography and Phonology.—In the remarks upon Gower’s language which here follow there is no systematic completeness. Attention is called to such points as seem to be important or interesting, reference being made especially to the language of Chaucer, as dealt with in B. ten Brink’s Chaucers Sprache und Verskunst (second edition, 1899). It is necessary perhaps to remark here upon a difference of procedure which distinguishes this investigation from those which have for their object the text of Chaucer or of other writers whose work is handed down to us in manuscripts which do not proceed from the author himself. In such cases we have first to ascertain what the author actually wrote, before we can draw any valid conclusions about the laws of his language. It may even be necessary to restrict the discussion to such forms as are authenticated by rhyme; but when we are compelled to do this, we must remember that we are accepting a rather dangerous limitation. The conclusions drawn[Pg xciii] from the rhyme-words of a Middle English author will probably not be precisely applicable to his language in general. The sphere of our investigations will be that in which the licentious and exceptional is most likely to be found. If he has any tendency to borrow from other dialects than his own or to use irregular forms, this tendency will be most seen in his rhymes, for it will probably be the exigencies of rhyme which suggest the variation. Chaucer repeatedly uses ‘here,’ in the sense of the modern ‘her,’ to rhyme with such words as ‘bere,’ ‘spere,’ but we should certainly not be justified in concluding that this and not ‘hire’ was the normal form of his language. Similarly in the case of Gower by examination of his rhymes alone we might be led to many very doubtful results. For example, we should gather that he almost always used the form sinne rather than senne, wile (verb) and not wole or wol, axe and not aske, sek (adj.) and never sik, hond and never hand, couthe and never coude, sente (pret.) rather than sende, the adverb ending -ly in preference to -liche or -lich. In these cases and in many others we might easily be misled, the forms of these words as used in rhyme being determined chiefly by the comparative frequency of the various rhyme-syllables. Most of the conclusions above mentioned, and others like them, have in fact been arrived at in a paper by K. Fahrenberg, published in the Archiv für die neueren Sprachen, vol. 89. The author of this paper, having only Pauli’s text before him, very properly confines himself to an examination of the rhymes, and within these limits most of his results are sound enough; but it would be very unsafe to treat them as generally applicable to the language of Gower. In our case it must be understood that the Fairfax manuscript is regarded (for reasons which will afterwards be stated) as a practically accurate reproduction of the author’s original text, and consequently the occurrence of a particular form in rhyme is not held necessarily to be of any special significance.

Orthography.—This being premised, we shall proceed to note first some points which call for attention in the orthography of the text.

In describing the British Museum MS. Harl. 3869, Pauli takes occasion to observe: ‘This copy is very remarkable on account of its orthography, which has been carried through[Pg xciv] almost rigorously according to simple and reasonable principles.’ This system he appears to attribute to the copyist of the manuscript in question, but it is in fact that of the author, the text being copied very faithfully from the Fairfax manuscript itself. Pauli appears to have been repelled by the outward appearance of this ‘small stout folio’ with its rather untidy writing. He did not take the trouble to examine the Oxford copies; but he seems to have perceived that its orthography was the same as that of the Stafford manuscript, and this should have enlightened him. In fact, if instead of taking Berthelette as his basis, he had simply printed the text of the Harleian volume, there would hardly have been need of another edition.

The orthography of the Fairfax text, first hand, confirmed as it is in almost every particular by that of the Stafford manuscript, and supported also by the testimony of others, more especially of MS. Bodley 902, may be assumed to be that of the author; and it is well worthy of our attention, for he evidently regarded exactness and consistency in spelling as a matter of some importance.

We may observe in the first place that it was not Gower’s practice to mark vowel-length by doubling the vowel. Naturally there are some MSS. in which this is occasionally found, and in particular the third hand of A gives caas, paas, glaade, maade, saake, waas, bee, breeþ, soo, aroos, moore, schoon, ooþer, toold, &c. with considerable frequency, while very many MSS. have book, look, took, oon, heere, mateere, and some other forms of the same kind; but this is not in accordance with the author’s rule. In the Fairfax MS. the cases of doubled vowel are only occasional, except in the instance of good, which is thus regularly distinguished from god.

Of oo there are very few cases except good. We have oon about three times for on, and blood, brood, cooste, do (=doe), foode, hool, schoo, too (=toe), woot, in isolated instances. The doubling of e is more frequent, as beere, cheeke, cleene, dee (pl. dees), degree, eem, eer, fee, feede, feer, feere, feet, greene, meene, meete, pees, queene, scheete, see (subst.), seene, slee, spreede, thee, tree, weer, weere, wreeche, ȝee, ȝeer, and a few more. Most of the above words, however, and in general all others, are written usually with a single vowel, and we have quite regularly (for example) ded, dede, drem, ek, fend, fre, gret, hed, her (=hair), lef, red, slep, bok, bon, brod, fol, gon, hot, lok, non, schon, sone (soon), tok, wok, and so on. Where there is variation of spelling in this respect, it is not felt to be a matter which concerns the rhyme; for we have weer: pouer, pees: reles, sene: meene, there: feere, good: stod, fode: goode, do: schoo, &c., though sometimes the spelling of[Pg xcv] the rhyme-words is evidently brought into harmony, as meene: Almeene, ii. 2465 f., beere: weere, iv. 1323 f., brood: good, v. 4375 f., goode: foode, vii. 519 f. In a few cases however a phonetic distinction seems to be intended, as when we find eet as preterite of ete, and beere (also bere) pret. plur. of beren.

Maii (the month) is regularly written with ii, but rhymes with mai, gay, &c.

The doubling of final consonants, apparently to indicate vowel shortness, is more common, as in all, bladd, charr, hadd, happ, madd, bedd, fedd, fett, spedd, bitt, bridd, chidd, godd, rodd, beside al, char, had, hap, mad, bed, fet, &c.

The doubling of s in a final tone syllable seems to have no such significance, as in Achilles: press, iv. 2161 f., but Ulixes: pres, iv. 147 f., so natheles: encress, pes: encress, in all of which the vowel must be long.

One of the most noteworthy points of the orthography is the frequent use of ie in tonic syllables for close ē. This appears in French words such as achieve, appiere, chief, chiere, clier, grieve, matiere, messagier, pier, &c. (also in many of these cases e, as chere, cler, matere), but it is very commonly used also in words of English origin and seems invariably to be associated with the close sound of the vowel. Thus we have hiede, spriede, lief (but levere), sieke, diel, stiel, whiel, dieme, sieme, diere, fiere (= company), hiere (adv.), hiere (verb), liere, stiere, and others, which have in most cases the alternative spelling with e, as hede, sprede, seke, del, stel, whel, deme, seme, &c., but in all of which the vowel has the close sound.

It is impossible here to discuss the question how far this habit of spelling may have been introduced by analogy from French words with a similar sound of the vowel, and how far it may have grown out the Kentish use of ie, ye for O. E. ēo, ē, īe. Reference may be made to the remarks in the Introduction to the volume of Gower’s French Works, p. xxi, where it is suggested that ie, having lost its value as a diphthong in later Anglo-Norman, came to be regarded as a traditional symbol in many cases for close ē, and hence such forms as clier, clief, pier, prophiete, &c., and as regards ie in the Kentish dialect there is a useful statement in the paper by W. Heuser, Zum Kentischen Dialekt im Mittelenglischen, published in Anglia, xvii, 78 ff.

In any case the fact is pretty clear that this variation was confined by Gower to words in which he gave to the vowel a close sound, and it is therefore useful as a distinguishing note, though there are few words in which this is the only form of spelling.

[Pg xcvi]

Both in stems of words and in their terminations i is on the whole preferred to y, so that we have crie, hide, lif, like, mile, ride, &c. more usually than crye, hyde, &c. (but perhaps y more often after m, n, as knyht, myhte, nyht), and also arrai, mai, dai, hardi, ladi, worþi, mi, thi, more often on the whole than array, may, &c., but -ly in adverbs more often than -li.

In some few cases it seems that a distinction is pretty consistently made, as between wryte (inf.) and write (past participle), and perhaps between wite (know) and wyte (blame).

Before gh followed by t we find a, o almost regularly in place of au, ou. Thus we have aghte, straghte, taghte, boghte, broghte, doghter, noght, oghte, oght, soghte, wroghte, &c., but occasionally broughte, doughter, ought, &c. Beside some of these there are forms in which au (aw), ou (ow) are written, but followed by simple h, as strawhte, tawhte, douhter (dowhter).

There is no difference between -oun and -on as terminations of such French words as divisioun, complexioun, &c., but -oun is much the more usual formP. Where they occur in rhyme, the rhyme-words are usually assimilated to one another in form of spelling, but sometimes -oun, -on rhyme together, as division: doun, ii. 1743 f., toun: condicion, v. 2551, constellacioun: relacion, vi. 2253 f.

In the case of an followed by a consonant in a tone-syllable the variation to aun seems to be merely a question of spelling, and we have such rhymes as chaunce: remembrance, ii. 893 f., demande: comaunde, iv. 2794, supplanted: enchaunted, ii. 2491, covenant: supplaunt, ii. 2367. In the French terminations -ance, -ant, the simple form is decidedly preferred (but governaunce: porveaunce, Prol. 187 f., graunt: amblaunt, ii. 1505 f.), and so also in many other words, as change, strange, comande, demande, supplante (also comaunde, supplaunte). In other cases au is either the usual or the only form, as daunce, daunte, enchaunte, haunte, sclaundre.

With regard to the consonants, it should be observed that Gower consistently wrote sch for sh initially, so that we have regularly schal, schape, sche, schewe, schip, schrifte, and also lordschipe, worschipe, &c.Q, in other places usually ssh, as bisshop (also bisschop), buissh, fissh, fleissh (also fleisch), freissh, reisshe, wisshe.

The almost regular use of h for gh in such words as hih, nyh, sih, kniht, liht, miht, niht, heihte, sleihte, &c. will be spoken of later.

Gower did not use ȝ for h or gh. Such forms as miȝte, riȝt,[Pg xcvii] uȝte, wrouȝt, are practically unknown in the best MSS. (F has nouȝt once.) On the other hand initially in such words as ȝe, ȝer, ȝive (forȝive), ȝong, &c., ȝ is regularly used. Only late and inferior MSS. have y. In regard to this letter Gower’s usage is exactly the reverse of that which we find in the Ayenbite of Inwyt. We have þ for th regularly except in the case of a capital letter being required, as at the beginning of a line, or in connexion with some foreign words and names as thalemans, thevangile, rethorique, Athemas, Anthenor, Thebith. Cases of th for þ in ordinary English words are very rare in F (but i. 2890, v. 2319, vii. 4203).

In some words there is an interchange of c and s, as decerte, pourchace pourchase, service servise, rancoun, suffice suffise, sufficant, &c., and the French termination -esse is also spelt -esce, as largesse largesce, simplesce simplesse; so also encresce, redresce, &c. In such points the orthography of Romance words is usually in accordance with that which we find in the author’s French writings, in which also are found such etymological forms as deceipte, doubte.

Before quitting the general subject, we ought to note certain words of common occurrence which are spelt not quite in the usual way. The author regularly writes bot for but, be for by, when used as a preposition and unemphatic, ous for us (pers. pron.), noght for not (not being used for ne wot). Some forms of proper names, as Habraham, Irahel, are characteristic. In these points, as in many others, the writer evidently followed a definite system, and in spite of the variations recorded, the orthography of the Fairfax and Stafford MSS. certainly conveys to the reader the general impression of regularity and consistency.

Phonology. (1) O. E. short vowels and diphthongs.

O. E. a, æ, ea. In the case of a (o) before a lengthening nasal combination, ld, nd, mb, ng, &c., we may note that though hond, honde, hondes are preferred, as by Chaucer, yet hand, handes pretty frequently occur, as i. 2, 1807, 2994, ii. 574, iii. 116, v. 1505, &c. (also handle, iii. 1956, v. 1949), and that without any necessity of rhyme. In fact hand seems to be rather preferred except in rhyme. Contrary to what is apparently Chaucer’s usage we find thonk, thonke as the regular forms in Gower, and only occasionally thank, as ii. 60, 2012. This may be due to the Kentish tendency to lengthen before nk, which perhaps was pronounced nearly as ng (see Morsbach, Mittelengl. Gramm.,[Pg xcviii] p. 128), and in this connexion we may note the fact that the Fairfax MS. twice has þong for þonk. On the other hand there is no definite trace of the principle which has been discovered in some of the Kentish texts of lengthening before these combinations when a vowel follows, while preserving a when the consonant group ends the word, honde, stonde, þonke, &c., but hand, stand, þankR. Gower uses handes as well as hand, and interchanges hange and honge, sang and song, according to convenience.

Note that upon rhymes freely with on (= one), anon, gon, &c., but the supposed rhyme on (ăn): mone, i. 2179, noted by Fahrenberg, is really one (ān): mone. In some cases of original ǣ shortened to æ Gower prefers e to a, as eny, only occasionally any, eddre beside addre, but lesse, ledde only for the sake of rhyme.

ea before h becomes ī in sih (from seah, sæh, pret. of sēon), which in Gower is the usual form of the word, æg forms ai (ay), as in dai, lay, mai, fain, slain, and other ai forms, which are not interchangeable with ei (but said with variant seid by influence of seie).

O. E. e. When we are dealing with so careful a rhymer as Gower, we need hardly remark upon the absolute distinction made between ę̄ derived from O. E. ĕ and ẹ̄ of whatever origin. The case of skiereþ: hiereþ, cited by Fahrenberg as an instance of the opposite, cannot be regarded as a real exception, in view of the uncertain derivation of skiere. His other cases of supposed ę : are instances of the pret. pl. spieke (speke), from sprǣcon, as spieke : beseke, ii. 959, sieke : spieke, ii. 1455. One is doubtful, viz. seke : mispeke, ii. 2007, where mispeke may be pret. subjunctive; and besides these, undergete: flete, ii. 1133 f. is irregular.

There is, however, also a well-marked distinction between new-lengthened ę̄ in words like trede, stede, bere, spere, &c., forȝete, gete, begete (inf. and partic.), mete (subst.), &c., and ę̄ from ǣ or ēa, the distinction being due presumably to imperfect lengthening. With the first class rank also words in which e is derived from O. E. y in open syllables, as lere (loss) from O. E. lyre, stere (stir) from styrian, dede (pret.) from dyde, and also e in answere.

Thus we find the following quite distinct sets of rhymes: bede, forbede (past participles), bede (subst.), dede (pret. = did), stede (stead), trede,[Pg xcix] forming one class and rhyming together, while they are kept entirely apart from threde, drede, dede (= dead), rede, pl. adj. (= red), which have ę̄ from ēa or ǣ. On the other hand, bede the pret. plur. of bidde (from bǣdon) rhymes with dede (dead), e.g. i. 2047.

So also answere, bere (subst.), bere (verb inf.), forbere, dere (destroy), lere (loss), stere (stir), bestere, swere (verb), tere (verb), were (wear), were (defend), form one class of rhyme-words as against ere, fere (fear), there, were (from wǣron), &c. But eere (verb) from erian rhymes with there, v. 819 f., and scheres with teres, v. 5691. The case of bere rhyming with were (from wǣron), i. 2795 f., vii. 1795 f., is not an exception to the rule, being the preterite plural, from bǣron.

Another group is chele, fele (many), hele (cover), stele, wele, as against hele (heal), dele, &c.: but we find hele (hǣlo): hele (helan), iii. 2755 f.

Again we have ete, gete (inf. and partic.), begete, forȝete, mete (meat), sete (past partic.), kept apart from grete (great), bete (beaten), strete, tete, lete (lǣtan), swete (verb, = sweat), threte, whete, &c. It may be noted that beȝete (subst.) belongs to the class grete, bete, &c.

There is every reason to suppose that the same distinction would hold with other endings, in the case of which no sufficient rhyme-test is forthcoming, as breke, speke (inf.), wreke (inf. and past partic.), which have no other words with ę̄ with which they could be rhymed, eke, seke, meke, &c., all having ẹ̄.

On the whole we may say that this distinction is very carefully kept in Gower’s rhymes, and must certainly indicate a difference of pronunciation.

The adverb wel, also written wiel, has a double sound, as in Chaucer, either ę̄ or ẹ̄, rhyming with del (diel), stiel, whiel, &c., and also with naturel, Daniel, and the substantive wel for wele.

eg forms ei, which is often interchangeable with ai, as seie, leie, weie, aȝein.

O. E. i. There is nothing in Gower’s rhymes to lend support to the theory that i from O. E. ĭ in open syllables (i.e. before a single consonant followed by a vowel), as in the past participles write, drive, schrive, and the infinitives ȝive, wite, is of doubtful quantity. The past participle and plural preterite write have ĭ and rhyme with wite (know), while the infinitive wryte rhymes with wyte (blame), verb and substantive: the infinitives live, ȝive, forȝive and the participles drive, ȝive, schrive, &c. rhyme among themselves and not with schryve (inf.), alyve, fyve: the short vowel words wile (verb), skile, bile are separate from wyle (subst.), whyle, ile, &c. This would not be worth mentioning but for ten Brink’s argument (Chaucers Sprache, §§ 35, 325), based on the very smallest positive evidence.

[Pg c]

hire (hir) is used regularly for the personal and possessive pronoun of the third person sing. fem. (= her), and never here, as is Chaucer’s usage in rhyme.

cherche is Gower’s regular form from cirice, but chirche is common in the orthography of the Praise of Peace, e.g. 197, 210, 225, &c., beside cherche, 232, 254.

O. E. o. wolde, scholde, golde, molde rhyme with tolde, holde, colde, &c., but in open syllables a distinction is observed (as in the case of e) between new-lengthened ǭ and ǭ from O. E. ā, so that tofore, before, therfore, score and the participles bore, forbore, lore, schore, swore are kept separate in rhyme from such words as hore, more, lore (subst.), ore, rore, sore, to which later group should be added More (Moor), and the Romance verb restoreS. This distinction seems to be recognized by Chaucer, cp. Troilus, v. 22-26, but with a good many exceptions, as Legend of Good Women, 452 f., 550 f., 1516 f., Cant. Tales, A 1541 f., 3237 f., &c., chiefly, but not exclusively, in the case of more. Gower is very much stricter and allows very few exceptions (overmore: tofore, i. 3361 f., nomore: therfore, vii. 3279* f., more: therfore, vii. 3869 f., more: fore, viii. 991 f.), which must be regarded as imperfect rhymes. Considering the frequency with which words of these two classes occur in rhyme, it is remarkable that the distinction should be so well kept.

We may note that bowe (subst.) from boga rhymes with words like knowe, in which ow is from āw.

O. E. u. In some words o and u interchange, as begonne begunne, conne cunne, coppe cuppe, dronkeschipe drunkeschipe, further forther, ronne (over)runne, sonne sunne, thurgh thorgh(soght), tonge tunge, tonne tunne, &c., but we have without variation, bole, hunger, note (nut), some, under, wonder, &c. The regular rhyme under: wonder is enough to show that the sound was the same.

love, above rhyme together and not with any other word. (For the rhyme at v. 7047 f., see under ō.)

sone (from sunu), wone (custom), astone, rhyme only with one another: in the rhyme wones: ones, which occurs iv. 2217 f., viii. 611 f., we have to do of course with a different word.

[Pg ci]

dore (door) rhymes with spore and dore (subjunctive of dar), bole with wole (verb).

O. E. y. This is usually represented by e (except before h, gh), e.g. abegge, berie, berthe, besy, bregge, dede (did), evel, felle (also fille), felthe, ferst, fest, hell (also hill, hull), ken (also kin), kende (usually kinde), kesse (also kisse), knette, krepel, lere, lest (listen), lest (= pleases, also list), mende (also minde), merie, merthe, pet (also pitt, put), scherte, schetten, senne (also sinne), stere (stir), thenke (from þyncan), werche (also worche), werse (also worse): to these must be added hedde, hed, pret. and past partic. of hyde, in which original ȳ was shortened (also hidde, hid). On the other hand, we have gilt (also gult), gultif, lifte (sky), stinten (not stenten), thinne (not thenne), thurste, wierdes. Gower does not use the forms birthe, bisy, dide (did), mirie, mirthe, stire.

The results obtained for certain words from rhymes by FahrenbergT are rather misleading. For example, he suggests the conclusion that fille (subst.) and fulfille are used with i only, but of the nineteen instances which he quotes, all but two are in rhyme with wille, a natural combination (at least for fulfille), and one which has determined the form in most cases. Apart from this, both felle (subst.) and fulfelle are found (felle in rhyme, iii. 2609).

Again, senne is much more common than would appear from the rhymes. Fahrenberg can quote only one instance in rhyme, as against twenty-nine of sinne, but this is certainly due to the greater frequency of the words (such as beginne, winne, &c.), which give rhymes to sinne. The word occurs seven times in the Prologue, once it is in rhyme, Sinne : inne, and of the other six instances five are of senne and one only of sinne. On the other hand, hell (from hyll) alone appears in rhyme, but hill or hull are commoner forms in use.

The mistakes tell both ways, but on the whole the conclusion that i is much commoner than e in these words is seriously incorrect.

For the use in rhyme of the words of this class with open tone syllable, as stere, lere (from lyre), see under e.


O. E. ā. The ǭ of hom rhymes, as in Chaucer, with the ọ̄ of the[Pg cii] preterites com, nom, and also fom with nom, v. 4007. These must be regarded as imperfect rhymes, due to the want of strictly correct rhyme-words. Gower has regularly most (O. E. māst) and but once in rhyme mest (O. E. mǣst), lest : althermest, i. 3101 f.: also regularly oght, noght, and oghte (verb), but tawht : awht, i. 2770, and aghte : betaghte, viii. 747.

O. E. ǣ. This, when representing West-Germanic ā, Gothic ē, appeared as ē in the Old Anglian and Kentish dialects, and might naturally be expected to be sometimes close e in the language of Chaucer and Gower. It is well known that Chaucer uses many of the words which have this vowel in a variable manner.

The same is true to some extent also in words where the original ǣ corresponds to Germanic ai, and in which we find Old Kentish ē. Of these leden, clene, menen, leeren appear in Chaucer sometimes with ẹ̄ (and evere, nevere always). For these and some other cases see ten Brink, Chaucers Sprache, § 25.

When we compare Chaucer’s usage with that which we find in our author, we find what our former experience has prepared us to expect, viz. a greater strictness and regularity of usage in Gower. The examples of fluctuation between the two sounds are comparatively few.

Taking first the words in which ē is from ǣ corresponding to West-Germanic ā, we find the following with ę̄:

bede (pret. pl.), from bǣdon, (dede : bede, i. 2047 f.).

breth (: deth, i. 119, 2127, &c.).

fere, ‘fear,’ (: ere, i. 462, ii. 46).

her, ‘hair,’ (heres : teres, i. 2999).

lete, from lǣtan, (: grete, i. 3365, &c.).

lewed (: thewed, i. 274, beschrewed, iii. 479).

sete, pret. pl., (sete : grete, iv. 1309), but siete (not in rhyme), v. 3339.

strete (: grete, i. 938, bete, i. 1156).

there (: ere, i. 499, 558, &c.), but also there : swere (neck), iv. 859, and hiere (adv.) : there, Praise of Peace, 178.

were, from wǣron, (: ere, Prol. 235, i. 2808, &c.), but also ẹ̄ in a few instances, as hiere (verb): were, i. 2741 f., hiere (adv.): were, v. 747 f.

where (e.g. elleswhere: eere, Prol. 9), but here (adv.): elleswhere, v. 361 f.

The substantive and verb red, rede rhyme about equally with ẹ̄ and ę̄, the latter cases being almost all with ded, dede (dead, sing. and pl.), as i. 1446, iv. 1940, 1960, &c. On the other hand, rede : hiede, i. 447 f., rede : spede, i. 1293 f., ii. 103 f., &c., red : sped, iii. 1991 f.

The following words of this class have as a rule ẹ̄:

cheke (chieke) (: mieke, v. 2471, eke, v. 3019).

dede, ‘deed,’ (: fede, Prol. 465, mede, i. 1553, &c., spede, i. 2653, &c., ȝede, ii. 855, forbiede, iii. 1122), but dede (dead): dede, i. 1037 f.

[Pg ciii]

drede (: nede, i. 1987, 2240U, : spede, iv. 629, : hiede, iv. 1448, &c.), but dede (dead) : drede, ii. 3405 f., drede : rede (from rēad), iv. 185 f.

leche (: seche, ii. 3220, beseche, iii. 413).

meete, ‘dream,’ (: meete, from mētan, iii. 51).

mete (unmete), adj. (: mete, from mētan, ii. 458, iii. 1100).

slep, slepe, subst. and verb, (kepe : slepe, Prol. 309 f., 475 f., slep : kep, i. 155, &c.), but slep : hep (hēap), iv. 3007 f.

speche (spieche) (: seche, Prol. 174, beseche, i. 1986).

spieke (speke), from sprǣcon, pret. pl. (: beseke, ii. 959, sieke, ii. 1456).

thred (: sped, i. 1419).

ȝer, ȝere, (ȝere : stiere, ii. 2379, ȝer : hier, iii. 129, ȝeeres : pleiefieres, iv. 481), with no instances apparently of ę̄.

If we take now the words in which ē is from ǣ corresponding to Germanic ai, we obtain the following results.

With ę̄:

er (: ner, ii. 2285).

geth (: deth, ii. 1804, 2616, &c.).

lene, ‘lend,’ (: bene, v. 4407).

leve, ‘remain,’ (: bereve, Prol. 412).

se (see), ‘sea,’ (: stree, iii. 86, iv. 1715, sle, iv. 1664), but be : se, iv. 1625 f., me : see, viii. 1723 f.

ȝe (ȝee), ‘yea,’ (: slee, iii. 262, 2068, stree, iii. 668).

(stre, slee, have no ẹ̄ rhymes, so we have no reason to suppose, as in the case of Chaucer, that final ē has a close sound.)

With ẹ̄:

areche, from ārǣcan, (: beseche, ii. 666).

clene (: sene, ii. 3461).

del (diel), somdiel, &c. (: whiel, Prol. 137, stiel, Prol. 612, 828).

evere, nevere, (: levere, Prol. 38, ii. 5, ii. 2417, &c.).

-hede (-hiede) as a suffix: hiede : godhiede, Prol. 497 f., cp. i. 1211 f., 1719 f., v. 595 f., viii. 95 f., mede : wommanhiede, iii. 1607 f., wommanhiede : fiede, vi. 695 f., maidenhede : spede, vii. 5145 f., viii. 1419 f., and so on, but once ę̄, Maidenhede : rede (from rēad), v. 5987.

hete, subst. and verb, ‘heat,’ (: swete, ‘sweet,’ ii. 2740, vi. 249), but hete : tobete, iii. 121 f., hete : bete, viii. 1195 f.

lede (: hiede, v. 156, : fede, vii. 2336*), but dede (dead) : lede, ii. 2779 f.

lere (liere), from lǣran, (: hiere, verb, i. 454, iii. 2204, v. 2029, diere, viii. 1462, hiere (adv.), viii. 1497, unliered : stiered, Prol. 233 f.).

mene (meene), verb, (: sene, ii. 2830, iv. 1645, wene, i. 1937, &c., grene, i. 777, &c., tene, iii. 771, queene, iv. 786).

sprede (spriede) (: fede, i. 2824, spede, ii. 504, spredeth : nedeth, v. 7679 f., feedeth, vi. 895 f.), but sprede : hede (head), vii. 845 f.

teche (: beseche, i. 590, 2260, iii. 132).

The above are the results arrived at by examination of the rhymes with vowels of undoubted quality; i.e. ę̄ from O. E. ēa,[Pg civ] and ẹ̄ from O. E. ē, ēo, īe. In addition to this, an investigation has been made of the rhyming of these words among themselves and with words of Romance origin, in the process of which some additional words with ē from ǣ, as dele, hele, swete, ‘sweat,’ wete, are brought in. This cannot here be given in full, but it may be said that in almost all points it confirms the results arrived at above. A few words, however, to which an open vowel is assigned above, rhyme with other words from ǣ which almost certainly have ẹ̄, and therefore must be set as having unstable pronunciation. Thus, in spite of the rhyme lene (lend) : bene mentioned above, we have lene : mene (both verb and subst.) and lene : clene, and though fere rhymes more than once with ere, we have lered : afered and unlered : afered, which suggest that the close sound was possible.

On the whole we may set down the following as the result of our examination.

With open vowel: of the ǣ (ē) class, bede, pret. pl., breth, her (pl. heres), lete, lewed, strete: of the ā = ai class, er, geth, leve (remain), ȝee (yea).

With close vowel: of the former class, leche, meete (dream), mete (fit), slepe, speche, speke, pret. pl., thred, wete, wreche, ȝer, and with one exception only in each case dede, slep: of the latter class, areche, clene, del, evere, lere, mene, nevere, teche, and with one exception in each case, -hede (-hiede), lede, sprede.

With unstable vowel: from ǣ (ē), drede, eve, fere (fear), red (subst.), rede, there, were, where: from ǣ = ai, hete, lene, see (sea).

The conclusions to which we are led are, first that in Gower’s usage there is less instability of vowel-sound in these words than in Chaucer, the number of words with unstable vowel being smaller and the variations even in their case more exceptional; secondly that Gower’s language has a strongly pronounced leaning towards ẹ̄; and finally that this tendency is quite as much visible in the words of the ǣ = ai class as in the others.

O. E. ēa. The substantive believe has ẹ̄ by influence of the verb.

There is no use apparently of nę̄de from nēad or of ȝę̄r from gēar, and ek, eke, seems invariably to have ẹ̄.

From ēage, flēah, hēah, nēah we have yhe, flyh, hih, nyh.

There seems no reason to suppose that stre, sle had ẹ̄, as has been concluded for Chaucer’s language because of such rhymes[Pg cv] as sle : he, stre : she, stree : we, see ten Brink, Chaucers Sprache, §23.

It has already been shown that see (sea), which we have supposed to have unstable vowel quality, very seldom rhymes with words having ẹ̄, notwithstanding the frequent opportunity for such rhymes, and ȝee, ‘yea,’ never. It may be questioned whether the rule laid down by ten Brink for Chaucer is a sound one, and whether Chaucer’s practice does not really depend simply upon the larger supply of rhymes in ẹ̄, such as he, she, me, thee, be, se (verb), tre, three, &c. It is at least possible that the difference here between Gower and Chaucer arises from the fact that the latter was less strict in his rhymes, and certainly the later developments of sle, see, stre, ȝee supply no confirmation of the idea that they had ẹ̄ regularly in Chaucer’s language.

O. E. ēo. By the side of sek (siek) there is occasionally sik.

The form fil, fille for fell, felle, pret. sing. and pl. from falle, are not used by Gower. He rhymes fell (fēoll) : hell (hyll) and felle, pret. pl.: felle (fyllan).

The personal pronoun ȝow (ȝou) from ēow rhymes with thou, now, &c.

O. E. ī. Fahrenberg’s instances of ī : ē, i. 177 f. and iii. 413 f., are both founded on mistakes.

O. E. ū. The personal pronoun from O. E. ūs is always written ous, but rhymes in some instances with -us in Latin names, e.g. Tricolonius : ous, Tereüs : ous.

būtan is shortened to bot, not but. It occurs also as a dissyllable in the form bote.

O. E. ȳ. The only example of ȳ as ē is fer from fȳr, which occurs in rhyme with ȝer, iii. 694, (elsewhere fyr). Chaucer has fere, dat., rhyming with here, adv., Troilus, iii. 978, and also afere in rhyme with stere, ‘stir,’ Troilus, i. 229.

The cases of hedde, hed, pret. and past participle (from hȳdan), are examples of shortened ȳ passing naturally to e, and so also fest from fȳst, felthe from fȳlþe, threste from þrȳsta.

From ȳg in drȳge we have dreie, but also drye.

O. E. ō. Gower, like Chaucer, rhymes the word do (misdo, undo, &c.), and occasionally to in therto, with words that have ǭ derived from ā, not only so, also, two, wo, but also tho, adv. (i. 2609, iii. 683, v. 5331, &c.), go, ago (ii. 2483, 3513, iv. 1161, 3465,[Pg cvi] v. 5173, &c.), overmo (i. 2385), no (v. 4776), fo (iv. 3407). These words also rhyme with proper names, such as Juno, Lichao, Babio. The other forms of do, as doth, don, rhyme nearly always with ọ̄, but once we have doth : goth, v. 3967 f., and once don : anon, v. 3627 f. The rhyme soth : goth also occurs, v. 1579 f. This latter class of rhyme, as don : anon, don : gon, sothe : bothe, soth : wroth, occurs frequently in Chaucer’s earlier work, as the Book of the Duchess, but much less so in the later.

These rhymes, like those of hom with com, &c., noticed above under ā, are to be explained as due to scarcity of exactly corresponding rhyme words. The only exact rhyme for do and to is in fact schoo, which is found in Prol. 356, but obviously could not be of frequent occurrence. The explanation given by ten Brink, Chaucers Sprache, § 31, and repeated mechanically by others, is that certain words which have ǭ from ā, as wo, two, so (swā), may equally have ọ̄ upon occasion owing to the influence of w. This is shown to be wrong both by the fact that the rhymes in question are, as we have seen, by no means confined to these words, and by the absence of other evidence in the case of wo and so that they ever had a tendency to ọ̄. The fact that the rhyme do : so is by far the commonest instance is due simply to the more frequent occasion for using the words.

In the rhyme glove : love, v. 7047 f., we have to deal with ọ̄, and there can be no question here of love from lufian. Both sense and rhyme point to a verb love corresponding to the substantive lof or love, mod. luff, and signifying the action of bringing a ship’s head up nearer to the wind. The other rhymes used with glove are behove, Prol. 357, prove, iii. 2153.

We may note that wowe from wōgian rhymes with bowe (būgan), which does not fit in with ten Brink’s very questionable theory about the development of ou (ow), Chaucers Sprache, § 46, Anm.

(3) Romance Vowels. A few notes only will be added here to what has already been said in the Introduction to Gower’s French Works.

Words with -oun (-on) ending, as condicioun (-on), opinioun (-on), &c., rhyme only among themselves or with toun, doun, &c. There are no rhymes like Chaucer’s proporcion : upon, and it is to be noted especially that the rhyming of proper names in -on, as Salamon, Acteon, &c., with this class of words, which is very common in[Pg cvii] Chaucer, does not occur in Gower’s English, though we occasionally find it in his French. At the same time the possibility of such rhymes cannot be denied, for we have toun : Ylioun, v. 7235 f., and Lamedon : Jasoun, v. 7197 f.

Adjectives in -ous do not rhyme with -us, as in Chaucer Aurelius : amorous, Theseüs : desirous.

The terminations -arie, -orie are not used at all, but instead of them the French forms -aire, -oire, as adversaire, contraire, necessaire, gloire, histoire, memoire, purgatoire, victoire. Latin proper names in o rhyme with ǭ, as Cithero (: also), Leo (: also), Phito (: tho), Juno (: so, tho), &c., but also in several cases with do. There seems no sufficient reason to suppose, as ten Brink does, that they regularly had ọ̄.

(4) Consonants. The termination -liche (-lich) in adjectives and adverbs, which Fahrenberg judging by the rhymes sets down as very uncommon compared with -ly, is by far the more usual of the two. It is true that -ly occurs more frequently in rhyme, but that is due chiefly to the greater abundance of rhyme words corresponding to it, e.g. forthi, by, cri, merci, enemy: we have, however, redely : properly, Prol. 947 f. The general rule of usage is this: -ly usually in rhyme (but besiliche : swiche, iv. 1235 f.), and before a consonant in cases where the metre requires a single syllable, as i. 2069, ‘Al prively behinde his bak’ (but frendlich, viii. 2173), -liche or -lich before a vowel, as i. 373, ‘That ronne besiliche aboute,’ cp. ii. 1695, v. 1247, and -liche of course where two syllables are required, as i. 1035, ‘Was thanne al openliche schewed,’ so ii. 918, iv. 57, and compare also iii. 2065 f.,

‘Unkindely for thou hast wroght,
Unkindeliche it schal be boght.’

But in Prol. 719 we have only before a vowel,

‘Noght al only of thorient,’

though onliche occurs in a similar position, i. 1948, and onlich, iii. 42. Again, 911,

‘And sodeinly, er sche it wiste,’

but Prol. 503,

‘Al sodeinliche, er it be wist,’

cp. iv. 921, compared with i. 1336.

The treatment of the O. E. spirant h (= χ) deserves some attention. This occurring before t is recognized as having in M. E. a palatal or a guttural sound, according to the nature of the[Pg cviii] preceding vowel, but the texts of our period usually give it as gh in both cases. Gower, however, makes a distinction, writing almost regularly alihte, briht, dihte, fihte, flihte, kniht, liht, miht, mihte, niht, riht, sihte, wiht, heihte, sleihte, &c., but aghte, caghte, straghte, boghte, broghte, noght, oght, oghte, soghte. Occasionally however in the first class we find g, as rarely bryghte, lighte, more frequently heighte, sleighte, and pretty regularly eighte; and there are several words in the second which have variants with h, but in these cases w(u) is inserted, as cawhte, strawhte, dowhter (douhter), owhte: otherwise u is generally absent, as we have already seen. The form referred to is commoner with the vowel a than with o.

It is hardly necessary to repeat here that plit is a word of Romance origin, and rhymes properly with delit, appetit, not with liht, niht, &c., being separate in etymology from O. E. pliht.

From the fact that there is no rhyming of -iht with -it either in Gower or Chaucer, we may certainly gather that the sounds were somewhat different; but the fact that Gower does not usually write gh after i indicates, no doubt, that in this case the sound of the spirant was less marked than when preceded by broader vowels.

Where O. E. h is a final aspirate, g is not usually written, as sih, hih, nih, bowh, lowh, plowh, slowh, ynowh, except in the case of thogh, but very occasionally we find such forms as drogh, plogh. In the words which have w(u) h is often dropped, as in bowes, low, slow (preterites), ynow.

v. Inflexion.—(1) Substantives. In a certain number of words there is variation in the matter of final e: thus we have drink drinke, felawe felawh (fela), flyht flyhte, half halve, help helpe, kep kepe, lack lacke, lyf lyve, myn myne, queene queen, sor sore, wel wele, will wille, wyndou wyndowe, to which must be added many words with the suffixes -hede, -hode, -schipe, and the termination -inge, e.g. falshed(e), knyhthod(e), manhed(e), felaschip(e), hunting(e), knowleching(e), teching(e), wenyng(e). In these latter cases the presence of the e ending is not wholly dependent on the accent, for we have huntíng, i. 350, but húntynge, iv. 2429, techyng and techinge both equally in rhyme, i. 1592, v. 611, gládschipe, i. 3128, knithód, v. 2057, felaschíp, ii. 1217. Accent however has some influence, and it is hardly conceivable that the final e should count in the metre except where the accent falls on the preceding syllable, so that where the accent is thrown back, we find that the word is regularly followed by a vowel. In the case of the (English) termination -ere the final e is[Pg cix] usually written: such words are beggere, forthdrawere, hindrere, ledere, lovere, makere, repere, spekere, writere. This -e, however, is either elided or passed over in the metre (as with janglere, v. 526), unless an accent falls on the termination, in which case it may be sounded, as vii. 2348, ‘The Sothseiere tho was lief.’

The forms game, gamen appear side by side both in singular and plural, as i. 347, vi. 1849, viii. 680.

As regards the oblique cases we note the following genitive forms: cherche, herte (also hertes), hevene, ladi, soule, sterre (pl.), wode (also wodes), to which add dowhter (also dowhtres), fader (also fadres), moder. In the expressions horse side, horse heved, &c., horse is genitive singular.

The -e termination of the dative appears in a good many prepositional phrases: to (in) bedde, in boke, to borwe, be (to) bote, with (of) childe, unto the chinne (but unto the chin, i. 1682), be daie, to (fro) dethe (also fro deth), of dome, on (under) fote (but upon the fot, at his fot), on fyre, to (upon) grounde, fro (unto) the grounde (also fro the ground), on hede, at (fro) home (also at hom), in (on, upon) honde, to (into) honde, (but ‘bar on hond,’ be the hond), on horse, to horse, to (in, of) house (but in myn hous), to (into) londe, be (in, over) londe, of (out of) londe, fro the londe, (but of his lond, &c.), be lyhte, to lyve, to manne, to mowthe, be mowthe, be nyhte (also be nyht, and regularly at nyht, on nyht, a nyht, to nyht), to rede, be (to, into, out of) schipe (also to schip), to scorne, to slepe (also to slep), to toune, to wedde, to wyve, to ȝere, be ȝere.

In the plural we have hors, schep unchanged, and also with numerals, mile, monthe, pound, ȝer (beside ȝeres), wynter. The plural of thing is thinges, sometimes thinge, not thing. Mutation plurals, feet, men, teeth, wommen. Plurals in -en, brethren, children, oxen (also oxes), ton, yhen.

The forms in -ere have plurals -ers, as janglers, kepers, lovers. From maiden we have beside maidens also maidenes (three syllables), iv. 255, which is perhaps the true reading in Chaucer, Leg. of G. Women, 722. From angel we have plural anglis, iii. 2256, as well as angles, and Nimphis, v. 6932, but there are few examples of plural in -is.

With regard to Romance substantives Gower appears to be stricter than Chaucer in preserving their form. He gives us regularly beste ‘beast,’ feste, requeste, tempeste. We have however baner (also banere), host, maner, matier (beside manere, matiere), press (beside presse), travaile, conseile (substantives) very occasionally for travail, conseil.

Several distinctively feminine forms are used, as capiteine, chamberere, citezeine, cousine, enemie.

In some cases the Latin inflexion is introduced, as Tantaly, Apollinis, Centauri, in Cancro, Achillem, Esionam, Phebum, the two last apparently introduced after the first recension.

[Pg cx]

(2) Adjectives and Adverbs. A few adjectives vary as regards final e in the uninflected form, for example ech eche, lich liche, low lowe, many manye, moist moiste, old olde, other othre, such suche (?), trewe trew, wommanyssh wommannysshe.

In comparative forms -e is often dropped, as fairer, further, longer, rather, ȝonger, but more often written, as furthere, deppere, ferre, gladdere, grettere, lengere, rathere. This -e, however, is either elided or passed over in the metre (as ii. 503, iv. 1459, vi. 1490, 1525, 2010). Where there is syncope of the penultimate, as after v(u) in levere, the final e counts regularly as a syllable, so that in case of elision the word is reduced to a monosyllable, which never takes place with rathere, furthere, &c.

When adjectives or adverbs ending in weak e are combined with a suffix or another word, -e is often dropped; thus we have everemore evermore, furthermore, joieful joiful, hevenely hevenly, trewely trewly (so also trewman), and so on. In such cases a previously syncopated penultimate ceases to be so on loss of the following e.

A few cases occur of -id for -ed in adjective endings, as nakid (also naked), wickid wikkid (usually wicked), also hundrid (usually hundred).

The definite form is used pretty regularly in the case of English monosyllabic adjectives, and usually also in monosyllables of French origin. This rule applies (1) to adjectives used after the definite article, a demonstrative pronoun or a possessive; (2) to those employed as vocatives in address; (3) to adjectives in combination with proper names or words used as proper namesV. Thus we have regularly (1) ‘the grete hert,’ ‘the stronge coffre,’ ‘The qwike body with the dede,’ ‘this proude vice,’ ‘this ȝonge lord,’ ‘my longe wo,’ ‘his lose tunge,’ ‘thi fulle mynde,’ ‘whos rihte name,’ &c. (2) ‘O derke ypocrisie,’ ‘O goode fader,’ ‘lieve Sone,’ &c. (3) ‘grete Rome,’ ‘Blinde Avarice,’ ‘proude Envie’ (but ‘proud Envie,’ Prol. 712), ‘faire Eole,’ ‘stronge Sampson,’ ‘wise Tolomeüs,’ &c.

We must note also the inflexions in the following expressions, ‘so hihe a love,’ ii. 2425 (but hih, vii. 2413), ‘so grete a wo,’ v. 5737, so grete a lust,’ v. 6452, ‘so schorte a time,’ vii. 5201.

With Romance adjectives we find ‘his false tunge,’ ‘the pleine cas,’ ‘false Nessus,’ &c., and so usually in monosyllables.

In the case of English monosyllables the exceptions are few. ‘His full answere,’ i. 1629, ‘hire good astat,’ i. 2764, ‘here wrong condicion,’ ii. 295, ‘his slyh compas,’ ii. 2341 (but ‘his slyhe cast,’ ii. 2374), ‘the ferst of hem,’ iii. 27, v. 2863, cp. 5944 (usually ‘the ferste,’ as i. 580, &c.), ‘my riht hond,’ iii. 300, ‘the trew man,’ iii. 2346, ‘his hih lignage,’ iv. 2064 (due perhaps to the usual phrase ‘of hih lignage’), ‘the hih prouesse,’ v. 6428*, ‘hire hih astat,’ v. 6597, ‘the gret oultrage,’ vii.[Pg cxi] 3413, ‘hire freissh aray,’ vii. 5000, ‘hire hol entente,’ viii. 1222, cp. viii. 1710, 2968 (but ‘ȝoure hole conseil’).

Among Romance adjectives the want of inflexion is more frequent in proportion to the whole number of instances, e.g. ‘the vein honour,’ Prol. 221, ‘the fals emperour,’ Prol. 739, ‘Hire clos Envie,’ ii. 684, &c.

In the case of adjectives of more than one syllable, whether English or French, the definite form is exceptional. The commonest case is that of superlatives, in which the definite form -este is regularly used when the accent falls on the termination, whether in rhyme or otherwise, as faireste, i. 767, v. 7427, slyheste, i. 1442, wiseste: myhtieste, i. 1097 f., wofulleste, vii. 5017. Even when the accent is thrown back, the definite inflexion is more usually given than not, as faireste, i. 1804, hoteste, i. 2492, treweste, ii. 1282, povereste, iv. 2238, heyeste, vii. 935, but sometimes dropped, as ‘the purest Eir,’ Prol. 921, ‘the ȝongest of hem,’ i. 3133, ‘the lowest of hem alle,’ vii. 224: in all cases, however, where the accent is thrown back, the adjective is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, so that the metre is not affected.

Other adjectives of which the termination is capable of accent may take the definite inflexion, when the accent is thrown on the termination, as ‘the covoitouse flaterie,’ ‘this lecherouse pride,’ this tyrannysshe knyht,’ but on the other hand ‘his fals pitous lokynge,’ ‘the pietous Justinian,’ ‘the proude tyrannyssh Romein,’ and cases where the adjective is used as a substantive, ‘the coveitous’, ‘This Envious,’ ‘thaverous,’ &c. We have ‘the parfite medicine,’ iv. 2624 (but ‘the parfit Elixir,’ iv. 2522, with accent thrown back), and ‘O thou gentile Venus,’ viii. 2294; but perhaps parfite, gentile are to be regarded as feminine forms, as almost certainly devolte, i. 636.

Where the final syllable of the adjective is incapable of accent, there is ordinarily no question of a definite inflexion, except where there is syncope after v (u), as in evele. Such words are croked, wicked, cruel, litel, middel, biter, dedly, lusti, sinful(l), wilful, woful(l), wrongful, and we may note that comparatives in -ere and adjectives in -liche (with accent thrown back) sometimes appear in the truncated form of spelling even where a definite termination is suggested by their position, e.g. ‘hire ȝonger Soster,’ v. 5395, ‘hir goodlych yhe,’ ii. 2026, ‘Ha, thou ungoodlich ypocrite,’ v. 6293, ‘hire dedlich yhe,’ vii. 5089 (-lich in these latter cases to avoid the hiatus of ‘ungoodly ypocrite,’ &c.). As an exceptional instance the form nakede should be observed, ‘his nakede arm,’ iv. 421, given so both by F and S.

The formation of plurals in adjectives and participles used attributively is governed by the same principles. We have ‘preciouse Stones,’ iv. 1354, but ‘the most principal’(pl.), v. 1115. In the expression ‘the chief flodes,’ v. 1112, chief must be considered perhaps as a substantive, like hed in ‘the hed planete.’ Naturally words like wicked, woful, lusti, &c., take no plural inflexion, but we have manye[Pg cxii] (manie) beside many apparently as a plural form, though manye also occurs in the singular, and enye once as plural of eny. In the expression ‘som men’ som is without inflexion in the plural, e.g. Prol. 529, iii. 2113, but ‘somme clerkes,’ Prol. 355, ‘some thinges,’ i. 1265.

Adjectives used as predicates or in apposition are to some extent treated according to convenience of metre or rhyme, but in the case of monosyllables there is a decided preference for inflexion. The following are some of the instances: ‘Whan we ben dede,’ Prol. 2, ‘hem that weren goode,’ 42, ‘my wittes ben to smale,’ 81, ‘Ther ben of suche manie glade,’ 299, ‘become grete,’ 303, ‘ben with mannes senne wrothe,’ 920, so blinde, i. 774, smale, 1145, glade, 1151, hyhe, smale, i. 1678 f., hore and whyte, i. 2045, stronge, iii. 1112, dulle, iv. 947, whyte, fatte, grete, iv. 1310, &c. We have also ‘hise thoghtes feinte,’ iv. 118, ‘thinges ... veine,’ i. 2689, ‘hise bedes most devoute,’ i. 669, ‘in wordes so coverte,’ iv. 1606, wher the men ben coveitouse, v. 4800.

On the other hand, ‘Of hem that ben so derk withinne,’ i. 1077, ‘Hire chekes ben with teres wet,’ i. 1680, ‘Thei wexen doumb,’ iv. 345, ‘Here bodies weren long and smal,’ iv. 1320, ‘Thei weren gracious and wys,’ vii. 1447, ‘thei weren glad,’ viii. 881, and so frequently.

The participle used as predicate is ordinarily uninflected, but there are a few examples of a plural form adopted for the rhyme, as made, Prol. 300, ansuerde, i. 3246, iv. 2343, hidde, v. 6789.

The usage of al, alle as an adjective is in some ways peculiar, but tolerably consistent. In the singular before an article, a demonstrative pronoun or a possessive, the uninflected form al (occasionally all) is used, as ‘al the baronie,’ ‘al the world,’ ‘al his welthe,’ ‘all his proude fare,’ ‘al a mannes strengthe’ (also ‘the Cite all,’ ii. 3473), but before a substantive the form alle (dissyllable)W, as ‘alle grace,’ ‘alle thing,’ ‘alle untrouthe,’ ‘alle vertu,’ ‘in alle wise,’ ‘in alle haste,’ ‘alle wel,’ ‘alle charite,’ but sometimes before vowels al, as ‘al honour,’ i. 879, ‘al Erthe,’ i. 2825, ‘al Envie,’ ii. 168, ‘al untrowthe,’ ii. 1684. In the plural, ‘al the,’ ‘all these,’ ‘alle the,’ &c. (‘alle’ being counted as a monosyllable), and without the article, ‘alle’ (but ‘al othre,’ iv. 1532).

Note also the adverbial expression ‘in none wise,’ cp. ‘othre wise.’ In cases of the combination of a French adjective with a feminine substantive of the same origin the adjective occasionally takes the French feminine form. Instances are as follows: ‘devolte apparantie,’ i. 636, ‘veine gloire,’ i. 2677 ff., ‘vertu sovereine,’ ii. 3507, ‘seinte charite,’ iv. 964, ‘herbe sovereine,’ vii. 1392, ‘joie sovereine,’ viii. 2530, and even as predicate, ‘Dame Avarice is noght soleine,’ v. 1971. Possibly also,[Pg cxiii] ‘O thou divine pourveance,’ ii. 3243, ‘the parfite medicine,’ iv. 2624, ‘a gentile ... on,’ v. 2713, and ‘O thou gentile Venus,’ viii. 2294, may be examples of the same usage.

There is one instance of the French plural adjective in -s, Prol. 738, evidently introduced for the sake of the rhyme.

(3) Pronouns. The personal pronoun of the first person is regularly I, not ich. It is usually written y by the copyist of the last 235 lines of the Fairfax MS. and in the Praise of Peace.

The third person sing. fem. is sche (never written she), once scheo: the oblique case is hire, hir (never here), and hire, though usually equivalent to a monosyllable, sometimes has -e fully sounded, as i. 367, iv. 766, v. 1178.

The third person neuter is it, seldom hit.

In the first person plural the oblique case is ous, not shortened to us in spelling.

The possessives of the first and second persons sing., min, thin, have no plural inflexion, but the disjunctive form thyne pl. occurs, i. 168. On the other hand his, originally an uninflected form, has usually the plural hise, but sometimes his. The form hise is never a dissyllable.

The feminine possessive, 3rd pers., is hire or hir, freely interchanged and metrically equivalent. There is no question of a plural inflexion here, and we find ‘Hire Nase,’ ‘hire browes,’ ‘hir lockes,’ ‘Hire Necke,’ quite indifferently used, i. 1678 ff. The disjunctive is hire, v. 6581, and hires, v. 6857. The forms oure, ȝoure are usual for the possessives of the 1st and 2nd pers. plur., and these are commonly used as monosyllables, e.g. i. 2062, 2768, and interchanged with our, ȝour; but they are also capable of being reckoned as dissyllables, e.g. Prol. 5, iii. 1087. Here again there is no plural inflexion (‘ȝour wordes,’ iii. 627). The disjunctive ȝoures occurs in i. 1852.

The possessive of the 3rd pers. plur. is here, her, which is practically never confused in good MSS. with hire, hir of the fem. sing.X We are fully justified in assuming that for Gower the distinction was absolute.

The ordinary relatives are which and that: who is little used as a relative except in the genitive case, whos. The plural whiche is usually pronounced as a monosyllable, as ii. 604, iv. 1496, v. 1320, and often loses -e in writing, as Prol. 1016, iv. 1367, 1872, v. 4041, but also sometimes counts as a dissyllable, e.g. i. 404, vii. 1256.

In combination with the definite article the singular form is ‘the which,’ not ‘the whiche,’ as Prol. 71, 975.

[Pg cxiv]

(4) Verbs. In the Infinitive and Gerund, apart from the cases of do, go, se, sle, &c., few instances occur of the loss of final e. The verb sein (sain) has seie and also say, and beside the regular infinitive pute we have also put in several instances, the next word beginning with a vowel or mute h. The cases are as follows: ‘And thoghte put hire in an Ile,’ i. 1578, ‘To put his lif,’ &c., i. 3213, ‘put eny lette,’ ii. 93, and so also ii. 1021, iii. 1166, iv. 756, 2615, v. 273, viii. 892: but also, ‘It oghte pute a man in fere,’ i. 462, ‘To puten Rome in full espeir,’ ii. 1551, ‘Theucer pute out of his regne,’ iii. 2648, &c. In addition to the above there are a few instances of the same in other verbs, as ‘get hire a thank,’ ii. 60, ‘It schal noght wel mow be forsake,’ ii. 1670, ‘flitt his herte aside,’ iv. 214, ‘let it passe,’ viii. 2056. (In vi. 202, ‘If that sche wolde ȝif me leve,’ we ought perhaps to read ȝive with S: cp. i. 1648.)

The gerund ‘to done’ is common, but we do not find either ‘to sene’ or ‘to seine.’

Present Tense. In the 1st pers. sing, of the present, apart from such forms as do, go, &c., and prai beside preie praie, there are a few cases of apocope, as in the infinitive: ‘Than cast I,’ iv. 560, ‘let it passe,’ iv. 363, ‘I put me therof in your grace,’ i. 732, ‘I put it al,’ v. 2951, ‘I red thee leve,’ vi. 1359, ‘Nou thenk I,’ vii. 4212. In two of these instances it will be noticed that the following word begins with a consonant.

In the 3rd pers. sing. the syncopated and contracted forms are very much used by Gower. He says regularly bit, ett, get, put, schet, set, sit (2nd pers. sist), smit, writ; arist, bint, fint, holt (halt), lest, went, wext; berth, brekth, bringth, crith, drawth, drinkth, falth, farth, forsakth, leith, lyth, preith, spekth, takth (or tath), thenkth, ȝifth, and only occasionally draweth, drinketh, fareth, kepeth, sitteth, waxeth, &c. In vi. 59 the best MSS. agree in giving sterte for stert, and in viii. 2428 most have sitte for sit, but these are probably accidental variations. For the 3rd pers. plural Fahrenberg (p. 404) quotes several supposed instances of th ending. Of these most are expressions like ‘men seith,’ where ‘men’ is used as singular indefinite. One only is valid, viz. vii. 1107, ‘Diverse sterres to him longeth’: cp. vii. 536.

Preterite. With regard to the tense formation of Strong Verbs reference may be made to the Glossary, where all the characteristic forms are recorded. We confine ourselves here to a few remarks.

The following instances may be noticed of gradation between the singular and the plural of the preterite: began, pl. begunne begonne, gan, pl. gonnen, ran, pl. runne, wan, pl. wonne, bond, pl. bounden, fond, pl. founden, song (sang), pl. songe sunge, sprong, pl. spronge sprungen, drank (dronk), pl. drunke, bar, pl. bere (beere), brak, pl. brieken, spak, pl. spieke, sat, pl. sete(n) siete(n) seete, bad, pl. bede, lay (lih), pl. lihe leie(n), wax, pl. woxen, wrot, pl. write(n), rod,[Pg cxv] pl. riden, ches, pl. chose, and among preterite-presents can, pl. conne, mai, pl. mowe, schal, pl. schulle schull schol, wot, pl. wite.

There are some few instances in F of strong preterites with irregular -e termination in the 1st or 3rd pers. singular, but in no case is this authenticated by metre or rhyme. The following are examples in which F and S are agreed, ‘schope a wile,’ v. 4278, ‘he bare him,’ v. 5236, ‘which sihe his Soster,’ v. 5810, ‘lete come,’ vi. 1186, ‘he tho toke hire in his arm,’ viii. 1732. These are perhaps mistakes, and they have sometimes been corrected in the text on the authority of other MSS.

The 2nd pers. sing. has the -e termination, as sihe (syhe), iii. 2629, iv. 599, were, iv. 600, knewe, vi. 2313, come, viii. 2076, but tok, i. 2421. The 2nd pers. sing. of the preterite-present mai is regularly miht (myht), never ‘mayest.’ Occasionally the best MSS. give it as mihte, e.g. i. 2457, vii. 2637, 3819, but there is no metrical confirmation of this form. The preterite plural is very rarely found without -e, as v. 3300, 7534, vii. 3574.

Among Weak Verbs those which have the short or syncopated form keep the -e termination almost regularly. Such preterites are, for example, aspide, cride, deide, leide, obeide, payde, preide, seide, teide, hadde, made, brende, sende, answerde, ferde, herde, solde, spilde, tolde, wende, betidde, dradde, fedde, fledde, hedde, gradde, ladde, radde, spedde, spradde, crepte, duelte, felte, hente, kepte, kiste, lefte, lepte, loste, mente, slepte, wente, wepte, alihte, caste, dihte, grette, knette, kutte, laste, liste, mette, plyhte, putte, schette, sette, sterte, triste, arawhte, broghte, cawhte, oghte, roghte, schryhte, soghte, strawhte, tawhte, thoghte, wroghte, cowthe, dorste, mihte, moste, scholde, wiste, wolde.

At the same time it must be noted (as in the case of the infinitive) that with some of these forms there is an occasional tendency to drop the -e before a vowel at the beginning of the next word (that is, where elision would take place), and the agreement of the best MSS., especially F and S, makes it certain this was sometimes done by the author. It is impossible to trace any system, but the number of verbs affected is not large, and in nearly every case the instances of this kind of elision-apocope are largely outnumbered by the examples of normal inflexion in the same verbY.

The following is a tolerably full list of references for these preterite forms, which are given in alphabetical order: ‘Beraft hire,’ v. 5647, ‘it betidd upon the cas,’ vii. 4381, ‘Sche cast on me,’ i. 152, ‘cast up hire lok,’ v. 5436, ‘he cast his lok,’ vi. 1035, ‘dorst he,’ ii. 1633, ‘drad him,’ viii. 1368,[Pg cxvi] ‘And felt it’ (subj.), viii. 2165, ‘so ferd I,’ viii. 2445, ‘had herd hem,’ v. 5865, ‘Hir bodi hent up,’ v. 5702, ‘herd he noght sein,’ iii. 2082, ‘And kept hire,’ ii. 181, ‘Sche kept al doun,’ v. 1495, ‘he kest him,’ vi. 1746, ‘And kist him,’ v. 3777, 5592, ‘and knet it,’ v. 6866, ‘he kut it,’ vii. 4525, ‘what him list he tok,’ iii. 2446, ‘Sche lost al,’ ii. 2290, cp. v. 3465, ‘That mad hem,’ ii. 310, and so also v. 986, 3393, 3822, ‘ne myht I,’ i. 1280, ‘miht eschuie,’ iii. 1356, and so also iii. 1440, vii. 4285, ‘Put under,’ Prol. 683, ‘Wan and put under,’ Prol. 718, ‘He put hem into,’ i. 1013, ‘Sche put hire hand,’ i. 1807, and so also ii. 3267, v. 3045, 4088, 5326, 6409, vi. 2062, vii. 4402, viii. 2702, ‘thei putt hem,’ v. 7417, ‘Of ous, that schold ous,’ Prol. 543 (so SF), ‘schold every wys man,’ ii. 578, ‘And seid hir,’ i. 3188, ‘Seid ek,’ v. 4309, ‘And set hire,’ ii. 2220, ‘He set him,’ v. 3691, ‘he set an essamplaire,’ vii. 4262, ‘And tawht hem so’ (‘tawhte’ S), iii. 176, ‘told him,’ i. 3187, ii. 803, 2865 (‘tolde’ S), vii. 4688, told hem,’ v. 3883, viii. 1555, ‘he told out,’ ii. 884, ‘every man went on his syde,’ v. 7403, ‘And went hem out’ (pl.), v. 7533, ‘sche wist it,’ ii. 2010, ‘thanne wold I,’ i. 183, ‘and wold have,’ v. 4217, ‘I wold stele,’ v. 7137, ‘wold I,’ viii. 2298, to which we may add ‘myht obeie,’ and ‘behight him’ from the Praise of Peace, 39, 41.

Of these examples it is to be remembered, first that in only one case, ‘I wold stele,’ v. 7137, does this apocope take place before a consonant, though in one other instance, v. 5865, the following word begins with an aspirated h; and secondly, that with all these, except perhaps put, the full form of the preterite is that which usually occurs before a vowel as well as elsewhere. Even in the case of put we have the form putte frequently when it is subject to elision, as Prol. 1069, ‘And putte awey malencolie,’ and so ii. 713, 2684, iv. 399, 1368, &c., as well as regularly before a consonant, as ‘With strengthe he putte kinges under,’ i. 2797. The form putt occurs in v. 7417, and in this case the verb is plural. The only other instances of plurals in the list are Prol. 543 and v. 7533.

With regard to the weak verbs which form preterites with ending -ede, the loss of the final e is somewhat more common, but it is usually retained, and sometimes it counts as a syllable in the verse. Where this is not the case, it is either elided in the usual way, or if it be dropped in writing, this is only under the conditions which apply to the verbs mentioned above, namely, before a vowel at the beginning of the succeeding word.

It is, however, noteworthy that the use of these forms, whether in -ede or -ed, is decidedly rare, and was avoided by our author even in cases where the -e would have been subject to elision. It is evident that he was always conscious of this ending, even if he did not always write it, and yet he felt that the two weak syllables ought not to have full value in the metre. The result was that he avoided the use of the form generally, so far as it was reasonably possible to do so. The whole number of these preterites in -ede, -ed to be found in the Confessio Amantis is surprisingly small, both actually and relatively, that is, taking account of the extent to which the verbs in question are employed in their other tenses. The method pursued is chiefly to[Pg cxvii] substitute in narrative the present tense, or the perfect formed with ‘hath,’ for the 3rd person singular of the preterite, ‘Conforteth’ for ‘Confortede,’ ‘Hath axed’ for ‘axede,’ ‘feigneth’ for ‘feignede,’ and this apparently as a matter of habit and even in cases where a vowel follows. No doubt the use of the present tense in narrative is quite usual apart from this, but the extremely frequent combination of strong or syncopated preterites with the present tenses of verbs of this class seems to me to indicate clearly how the matter stood.

The following are a few of the examples of this: ‘For sche tok thanne chiere on honde And clepeth him,’ i. 1767 f., ‘The king comandeth ben in pes, And ... caste,’ 3240 f., ‘Comendeth, and seide overmore,’ 3361, ‘he him bethoghte,... And torneth to the banke ayein,’ ii. 167 ff., ‘for hem sente And axeth hem,’ 613 f., ‘lay ... clepeth oute ... sterte,’ 848 ff., ‘Sche loketh and hire yhen caste,’ 1066, ‘This child he loveth kindely ... Bot wel he sih ... axeth ... seide,’ 1381 ff., ‘Sche preide him and conseileth bothe,’ 1457, ‘Which semeth outward profitable And was,’ 2201 f., ‘And he himself that ilke throwe Abod, and hoveth there stille,’ iii. 1232 f., and so on.

These examples will serve to illustrate a tendency which every reader will observe, when once his attention has been called to it. There are indeed many narrative passages in which nearly all the strong or syncopated verbs are used in the preterite, and all the others in the present, and it is evident that this cannot be accidentalZ.

There are, however, a certain number of instances of the use of weak preterites, indicative or subjunctive, and a few in which the final e (or -en) is sounded in the metre.

The following are examples of -ede preterites (in one instance -ide): ‘I wisshide after deth,’ i. 120, ‘he passede ate laste,’ 142, ‘he hem stoppede alle faste,’ 522, ‘And warnede alle his officiers,’ 2506, ‘Mi ladi lovede, and I it wiste,’ ii. 502, ‘he axede hem anon,’ 1248, ‘he rounede in thin Ere,’ 1944, ‘Bot he hire lovede, er he wente,’ 2027, ‘Thogh that he lovede ten or tuelve,’ 2063, ‘Supplantede the worthi knyht,’ 2453, ‘Sche pourede oute,’ iii. 679, so also iii. 1631, 2556, iv. 468, 825, 842, 934, 1340, 1345, 1444, ‘Lo, thus sche deiede a wofull Maide,’ iv. 1593, ‘it likede ek to wende,’ 2150, ‘Controeveden be sondri wise,’ 2454, ‘Translateden. And otherwise,’ 2660, ‘And foundeden the grete Rome,’ v. 904, ‘He feignede him,’ 928, ‘And clepede him,’ 951, ‘He percede the harde roche,’ 1678, ‘Thei faileden, whan Crist was bore,’ 1697, ‘Thei passeden the toun,’ 2182, ‘Alle othre passede of his hond,’ 3258, ‘Welcomede him,’ 3373, ‘walkede up and doun’ (pl.), 3833, ‘axede him,’ 5129, so also 5774, 6132, 6791, 6887, ‘oppressede al the nacion’ (pl.), vi. 568, ‘That loveden longe er I was bore,’ 882, ‘he usede ay,’ 1207, ‘exilede out of londe,’ 2348, ‘Enformeden,’ vii. 1495, ‘Devoureden,’ 3346, ‘Ensamplede hem’ (pl.),[Pg cxviii] 4441, ‘Restorede hem,’ 4445, so also 4632, 4986, 4992, 4998, &c., ‘Eschuieden to make assay,’ viii. 373, ‘With love wrastlede and was overcome,’ 2240.

This list of examples, which is fairly complete up to v. 1970, will sufficiently show the manner in which -ede preterites are used. In more than three-fourths of the instances quoted the -e is subject to elision, and of those that remain nine are examples of the plural with -eden termination, and three only of the ending -ede, viz. ii. 2063, ‘Thogh that he lovede ten or tuelve,’ ii. 2453, ‘Supplantede the worthi knyht,’ and v. 1678, ‘He percede the harde roche,’ of which the first is really a case of syncope, ‘lov’de,’ as also ii. 502 (cp. vi. 882) and iv. 1593, whereas in ii. 2027 ‘lovede’ occurs unsyncopated but with -e elided. It will be noted that in the plural the form -eden is used regularly when the syllables are to be fully pronounced, though -ede can be used for the sake of elision.

The -ed form of preterite is less frequent than the other, and I am not aware of any clear example of its employment before a consonant or in rhyme. We have, for example, ‘And used it,’ i. 342, ‘Sche cleped him,’ i. 1535 (‘humbled him,’ i. 2065, is probably a participle, ‘to have humbled himself’), ‘pryded I me,’ i. 2372, ‘ne feigned I,’ ii. 2061, ‘the goddes ... Comanded him,’ iii. 2140 f., ‘Thei cleped him,’ v. 876, cp. 1057, &c. In iii. 1759, ‘The Gregois torned fro the siege,’ we have most probably a participle, ‘were torned.’ We may observe that the -ed form stands also in the plural.

Among weak preterites from originally strong verbs we may notice abreide, crepte (but past participle crope), foghte, fledde, schotte, slepte (also slep, with past participle slepe), smette (beside smot), wepte. The pret. satte in vii. 2282, ‘He satte him thanne doun,’ seems to arise from confusion of sat and sette.

Imperative. The Confessio Amantis is peculiarly rich in imperatives. Beside the regular imperative singular forms, e.g. ared, besech, behold, ches, com, do, forsak, griet, help, hier, hyd, kep, lef, ly, lei, lest, lep, prei, put, say, schrif, spek, tak, tell, thenk, understond, ȝif, &c., the MSS. give us also hyde, iii. 1502, seie, vii. 4084, speke, vii. 5422, take, iv. 2674, v. 6429, thenke, iii. 1083, but not in such positions as to affect the metre. The forms axe, herkne, loke, wite are regular, but lok also occurs (i. 1703, v. 1220).

In some instances the short form of imperative seems to be used as 3rd pers., e.g. ‘hold clos the ston,’ v. 3573, for ‘let him hold,’ ‘tak in his minde,’ viii. 1128, for ‘let him take,’ cp. viii. 1420. The singular and plural forms are often used without distinction, as v. 2333 ff., ‘Ches ... and witeth ... ches and tak ... goth ... taketh,’ v. 3986, ‘So help me nou, I you beseche,’ with ‘Helpeth,’ just above, several persons being addressed, and so ‘taketh hiede And kep conseil,’ viii. 1509 f., to one person. In the interchange of speech between the Confessor and the Lover, while sometimes the distinction is preserved, the[Pg cxix] Confessor saying tak, tell, understond, and the Lover telleth, axeth (e.g. i. 1395, 1875), at other times the Lover says lest, say, tell, lef, &c. (i. 1942, 1972, ii. 2074, iii. 841, &c.)AA.

Present Participle. The form of the present participle is the most characteristic part of Gower’s verb inflexion as compared (for example) with Chaucer’s. Chaucer seems regularly to have used the form in -inge (often with apocope -ing): Gower uses ordinarily the form -ende, and normally with the accent thrown on the termination, as i. 204, ‘To me spekende thus began,’ 236, ‘Whos Prest I am touchende of love,’ 428, ‘Stondende as Stones hiere and there,’ 633, ‘So that semende of liht thei werke,’ 1379 f., ‘That for I se no sped comende, ... compleignende,’ 1682, ‘Hangende doun unto the chin.’

Sometimes the same form is used with accent on the preceding syllable, and in this case the -e is systematically elided, e.g. Prol. 11, ‘In tyme comende after this,’ 259, ‘Belongende unto the presthode,’ i. 296, ‘As touchende of my wittes fyve’ (cp. 334, 742), 3025, ‘And wailende in his bestly stevene.’

In a relatively small number of instances the form -inge occurs either in rhyme, as i. 524, ‘So whan thei comen forth seilinge,’ in rhyme with ‘singe,’ i. 1710, ‘And liveth, as who seith, deyinge,’ in rhyme with ‘likynge’ (subst.), or with the accent thrown back, as i. 115, ‘Wisshinge and wepinge al myn one,’ v. 518, ‘Abidinge in hir compaignie,’ vi. 717, ‘I mai go fastinge everemo’; rarely out of rhyme and with accent, as i. 2721, ‘Mi fader, as touchinge of al.’

The final e is never lost in writing, but when the accent is thrown back it is always elided.

Past Participle. The -id termination of weak past participles is very rarely found in the Fairfax MS., except in the concluding passage, which is copied in a different hand from the rest. It occurs commonly in the Praise of Peace. Examples found elsewhere in F are weddid, iv. 650, medlid, iv. 1475.

From setten besides the regular past participle set there appears the form sete twice in rhyme, vii. 2864, forȝete: sete, and viii. 244, misgete (past partic.): upsete. This seems to be formed after the analogy of gete. On the other hand we have ferd, i. 445, &c., but also fare(n), iii. 2692, v. 3797, &c. The past participle of se is sen, sein, seie, but most commonly sene. In a few instances a final e is given by the MSS. in weak past participles, e.g. herde for herd, v. 4231, schope for schop, v. 4278, sette for set, vi. 10, wiste for wist, viii. 37.

The cases of weak past participles with plural inflexion (e.g. Prol. 300, i. 3246, iv. 2343, v. 6789) have already been mentioned in dealing with adjectives.

[Pg cxx]

There is hardly any use of the prefix y- (i-), but we have ybore, ii. 499.

vi. Dialect. Gower’s language is undoubtedly in the main the English of the Court, and not a provincial dialect. Making allowance for the influences of literary culture and for a rather marked conservatism in orthography and grammatical inflexions, we can see that it agrees on the whole with the London speech of the time, as evidenced by the contemporary documents referred to by Prof. Morsbach. At the same time its tendencies are Southern rather than Midland, and he seems to have used Kentish forms rather more freely than Chaucer. This is shown especially (1) in the more extensive use of the forms in which e stands for O. E. , as senne, kesse, pet, hell, &c.; (2) in the frequent employment of ie, both in French and English words, to represent ẹ̄, a practice which can hardly be without connexion with the Kentish cliene, diepe, diere, hier, hield, niede, &c.; (3) in the use of -ende as the normal termination of the present participle. (The Ayenbite regularly has -inde.) Probably also the preference shown by Gower for the close sound of ē, from O. E. ǣ, may be to some extent due to Kentish influence. Other points of resemblance between the language of Gower and that of the Ayenbite (for example) are the free use of syncopated forms in the 3rd pers. sing. of verbs and the regular employment of ous for us.

vii. Metre, &c. The smoothness and regularity of Gower’s metre has been to some extent recognized. Dr. Schipper in Englische Metrik, vol. i. p. 279, remarks upon the skill with which the writer, while preserving the syllabic rule, makes his verse flow always so smoothly without doing violence to the natural accentuation of the words, and giving throughout the effect of an accent verse, not one which is formed by counting syllables. Judging by the extracts printed in Morris and Skeat’s Specimens (which are taken from MS. Harl. 3869, and therefore give practically the text of Fairfax 3), he observes that the five principal licences which he has noted generally in the English verse of the period are almost entirely absent from Gower’s octosyllabics, and in particular that he neither omits the first unaccented syllable, as Chaucer so often does (e.g. ‘Be it rouned, red or songe,’ Hous of Fame, ii. 214, ‘Any lettres for to rede,’[Pg cxxi] iii. 51, ‘Of this hill that northward lay,’ iii. 62), nor displaces the natural accent (as ‘Of Decembre the tenthe day,’ Hous of Fame, i. 111, ‘Jupiter considereth wel this,’ ii. 134, ‘Rounede everych in otheres ere,’ iii. 954), nor slurs over syllables.

To say that Gower never indulges in any of these licences would be an exaggeration. Some displacement of the natural accent may be found occasionally, even apart from the case of those French words whose accent was unsettled, but it is present in a very slight degree, and the rhythm produced does not at all resemble that of the lines cited above from Chaucer: e.g. i. 2296, ‘Wher that he wolde make his chace,’ 2348, ‘Under the grene thei begrave,’ 2551, ‘“Drink with thi fader, Dame,” he seide.’ Such as it is, this licence is nearly confined to the first foot of the verse, and is not so much a displacement of the natural accent of the words as a trochaic commencement, after the fashion which has established itself as an admitted variety in the English iambic. We may, however, read long passages of the Confessio Amantis without finding any line in which the accent is displaced even to this extent.

Again, as to slurring of syllables, this no doubt takes place, but on regular principles and with certain words or combinations only. There are hardly more than three or four lines in the whole of the Confessio Amantis where a superfluous syllable stands unaccounted for in the body of the verse, as for example,

iv. 1131, ‘Som time in chambre, som time in halle,’
v. 447, ‘Of Jelousie, bot what it is,’
v. 2914, ‘And thus ful ofte aboute the hals,’
v. 5011, ‘It was fantosme, bot yit he herde.’

The writer seems to have no need of any licences. The narrative flows on in natural language, and in sentences and periods which are apparently not much affected by the exigencies of metre or rhyme, and yet the verse is always smooth and the rhyme never fails to be correct. If this is not evidence of the highest style of art, it shows at least very considerable skill.

In Gower’s five-accent line, as exhibited in the Supplication of viii. 2217-2300 and in the poem In Praise of Peace, Schipper finds less smoothness of metre, ‘owing perhaps to the greater unfamiliarity and difficulty of the stanza and verse’ (Englische Metrik, i. 483 ff.). His examples, however, are not conclusive on this point. Some of the lines cited owe their irregularity to corruptions[Pg cxxii] of text, and others prove to be quite regularly in accordance with Gower’s usual metrical principles.

For instance, in viii. 2220 the true text is

‘That wher so that I reste or I travaile,’

which is a metrically perfect line. Again, in the Praise of Peace, l. 79,

‘And to the heven it ledeth ek the weie,’

it is impossible, according to Gower’s usage, that ‘heven’ should stand as a dissyllable. He wrote always ‘hevene,’ and the penultimate was syncopated. So also ‘levere’ in l. 340, ‘evere,’ l. 376. Hence there is no ‘epic caesura’ in any of these cases. Nor again in l. 164, ‘Crist is the heved,’ can ‘heved’ be taken as a dissyllable in the verse: it is always metrically equivalent to ‘hed.’ The only fair instance of a superfluous syllable at the caesura is in l. 66,

‘For of bataile the final ende is pees.’

It seems that the trochee occurs more commonly here than in the short line. Such examples as Schipper quotes, occurring at the beginning of the line,

‘Axe of thi god, so schalt thou noght be werned,’
‘Pes is the chief of al the worldes welthe,’

are of the same character as those which we find in the octosyllabics. Perhaps, however, a difference is afforded by the more frequent occurrence of the same licence in other parts of the verse, as,

‘So that undir his swerd it myht obeie,’ 39.

The rhyming on words like ‘manhode,’ ‘axinge,’ &c., is in accordance with the poet’s general usage.

On the whole, the combination of the syllabic and the accentual system is effected in the five-accent line of these stanzas almost as completely as in the short couplet; and in his command of the measure, in the variety of his caesura, and the ease with which he passes without pause from line to line and rounds off the stanza with the matter, the author shows himself to be as fully master of his craft upon this ground as in the more familiar measure of the Confessio Amantis.

As regards the treatment of weak syllables in the metre, Gower’s practice, in accordance with the strict syllabic system which he adopted, is very different from Chaucer’s. The rules laid down by ten Brink, Chaucers Sprache, § 260, as to the cases in which[Pg cxxiii] weak final e is never counted as a syllable in the verse, except in rhyme, require some qualification even when applied to Chaucer (for example, ‘sone’ is certainly a dissyllable in Cant. Tales, A 1963, Hous of Fame, i. 218), and they are almost wholly inapplicable to Gower, as we shall see if we examine them. (α) Gower has the forms hire, oure, ȝoure, all occasionally as dissyllables apart from special emphasis or rhyme. (β) these, some, whiche are all sometimes dissyllables. (γ) The strong participles with short stems as come, drive, write as a rule have the final e sounded. (δ) The -e of the 2nd pers. sing. of the strong preterite may be sounded, e.g. iii. 2629 (but ‘Were thou,’ iv. 600). (ε) The form made, both singular and plural, regularly has -e sounded, were (pret.) usually, and wite sometimes. (ζ) sone, wone, schipe (dat.), and the French words in -ie (ye), &c., have -e regularly counted in the metre: so also beste, entente, tempeste. (η) before, tofore, there are used in both ways.

Gower’s usage with reference to this matter is as follows:

The personal and possessive pronouns hire, oure, ȝoure, here and hise (as plural of his), written also hir, our, &c., are as a rule treated as monosyllables. We have however ‘Fro hire, which was naked al,’ i. 367, ‘And thenke untoward hire drawe,’ iv. 559, so v. 1178, 2757, vii. 1899, &c., ‘In oure tyme among ous hiere,’ Prol. 5 (but ‘Oure king hath do this thing amis,’ i. 2062), ‘As ȝe be ȝoure bokes knowe,’ iii. 1087, cp. v. 2951 (but ‘Bot, fader, of ȝoure lores wise,’ i. 2768). Add to these alle (pl.) before definite article.

In the following words also the final e is sometimes suppressed for the verse: these (also thes), Prol. 900, 1037, i. 435, ii. 237, &c. (but thesë, v. 813, 1127, vii. 1005, &c.): whiche plur. (also which), ii. 604, iv. 1496, &c. (but whichë, i. 404, v. 1269, vii. 822, 1256, &c.): eche (also ech), v. 6883, according to F, cp. Prol. 516: there (usually ther), viii. 2311, 2689 (but therë, iii. 1233, &c., and often in rhyme): were pret. ind. or subj. (also wer), iii. 1600, iv. 600, 1657, 1689 (but more usually werë, as Prol. 1072, iii. 762, v. 2569, vii. 4458): where (usually wher), v. 4355 (but wherë, v. 2720): more (also mor), ii. 26, v. 2239, 6207, vii. 3237 (but morë, Prol. 55*, 640, iv. 2446, vii. 3287, &c.): before, tofore (also befor, tofor), i. 2054, 2864, iii. 2052 (but beforë, Prol. 848, and often in rhyme): foure, vii. 2371 (but fourë, ii. 1037, iv. 2464): fare (wel), iii. 305, iv. 1378 (but farëwel, v. 4218): sire, i. 2878, ii. 2995 (but sirë, v. 3547, 5593): wite, ii. 455 (but witë, v. 3150, 3445): wole (also wol), v. 2891, 2911, &c.: bothe, ii. 1966, 2154, iv. 2138, &c. (but bothë, Prol. 1068, i. 851, &c.): wolde (also wold), v. 4413 (usually woldë): come, ii. 789, iv. 2826 (but comë, pp. iv. 1283, vi. 1493, vii. 4840, inf. viii. 1362): some, pl. subst., iii. 2112, v. 2252 (but somë, i. 2034 ff.): have, Prol. 708, i. 169, 2724, ii. 550, iv. 1600 (but havë, ii. 332, iv. 1598): love, subst. iv. 930, vi. 1261 (but lovë much more often, e.g. i. 103, 251, 760, &c.): tuelve (also tuelf), iv. 1983 (but tuelvë, vii. 1005): trewe (also trew), v. 2877 (but trewë, pl., Prol. 184, def., iii. 2228): mowe, inf. (also mow), iv. 38: seie, inf. and 1st s. pres. iii. 1737, iv. 672, v. 2616, 6428, &c. (but seië often): preie,[Pg cxxiv] 1st s. pres. (also prai), v. 4531 (but preië, v. 3230): furthere, forthere (also further, forther), iii. 81, 885: lengere (also lenger), i. 1516, ii. 2602: rathere (also rather), ii. 503, vii. 4161, viii. 2141: janglere, v. 526: also some isolated cases, as aboute, v. 2914, Take, v. 7169, Minotaure, v. 5327 (but Minotaurë, 5291, &c.), Theophile, viii. 1500.

In iv. 1131, v. 447, 5011, which we have quoted above, the superfluous syllable in each case may be connected with the pause in the sentence, as in Mirour de l’omme, 10623, ‘L’un ad franchise, l’autre ad servage.’

Syncope (so far as regards the metre) regularly takes place in the following: covere (discovere, &c.), delivere (but not deliverance, i. 1584, v. 1657), evene, evere, fievere, havene, hevene, levere, nevere, povere, sevene (also sefne), swevene (also swefne), and some other words of a similar kind, to which add heved, evel, devel. In these cases a final e is always pronounced unless elided, and in case of elision a word like hevene, nevere is reduced to a monosyllable, as

‘This world which evere is in balance.’

The following also are sometimes syncopated: lovede, loveden, ii. 502, vi. 882, but without syncope ii. 2027, beloved, i. 1928, belovëd, i. 1920 f., behovely, behovelich, iii. 1330, v. 4012, vii. 1949 (but unbehovëly, viii. 2884), leveful, v. 7053, Averil, vii. 1029, soverein, vii. 1776 (but usually three syllables, as Prol. 186, i. 1609, and sovereinete, five syllables, i. 1847), amorous, iii. 745 (but usually three syllables, as i. 1414), fader, ii. 2387, cp. fadre, ii. 2519 (but ordinarily a dissyllable), unkendeli, ii. 3124 (but unkindëly, iii. 2065), comelieste, comelihiede, v. 3048, 6734 (but comëly, ii. 441), namely, viii. 3041, also namly, ii. 47 (but usually three syllables, as Prol. 144, iii. 63), Termegis, iv. 2408. We may note, however, that this kind of syncope is less used by Gower than by Chaucer, and that chivalerie, chivalerous, foreward, foretokne, loveday, pilegrin, surquiderie, &c., are fully pronounced.

Unaccented i before weak e either final or in inflexions has the force of a semi-vowel, and forms no syllable of itself: so studie, carie, tarie, chirie, merie, manye, &c. are equivalent to dissyllables, and are reduced by elision to the value of monosyllables, as Prol. 323, ‘To studie upon the worldes lore,’ i. 452, ‘To tarie with a mannes thoght,’ i. 3238, ‘And manye it hielden for folie,’ ii. 2648, ‘Thei carie til thei come at Kaire’; and so also in the other parts of the same words, e.g. i. 1645, ‘And thus he tarieth long and late,’ and in plurals like bodies, iv. 2463. Similarly Mercurie is made into a dissyllable by elision, ‘And ek the god Mercurie also,’ i. 422. Akin to this in treatment is the frequent combination many a, many an, counting as two syllables (so ‘ful many untrewe,’ v. 2886), but many on, manion as three. We may note also the case of statue, Prol. 891, ‘As I tolde of the Statue above,’ which is reduced by elision to a monosyllable.

[Pg cxxv]

Elision of weak final e takes place regularly before a vowel or an unaspirated h. We must observe that several classical proper names ending originally in ē, as Alceone, Daphne, Progne, Phebe, have weak e and are subject to elision, and under this head it may be noted that Canace rhymes to place, whereas Chaucer (referring to Gower’s story) gives the name as Canacee, in rhyme with he. Also the combinations byme, tome, tothe, &c., have weak -e and are elided before a vowel.

An aspirated h prevents elision as effectively as any other consonant. We have ‘min holë herte,’ ‘gretë hornes,’ ‘Cadmë hyhte,’ ‘Mi Sonë, herkne,’ ‘proprë hous,’ ‘fastë holde’ (and even ‘othrë herbes,’ iv. 3008); but there are some words in which h is aspirated only when they are emphatic in sense or position, as have, hath, he, him, hire, how, &c. For example, elision takes place usually before have, he, how, but not so as a rule in cases where they are used in rhyme or with special emphasis, e.g. i. 2542, ‘Of such werk as it scholde have,’ ii. 2479, cp. v. 7766, ‘Wenende that it were he,’ iv. 3604, ‘And al the cause hou it wente.’ On the other hand, the preterite hadde seems to have an aspirated h even in unemphatic position, as ii. 589, ‘The Sceptre hadde forto rihte’: compare vii. 2364, ‘Victoire hadde upon his fo,’ with vii. 2392, ‘Thogh thou victoire have nou on honde.’ Elision also takes place before hierafter, though not before hiere.

There is one instance of hiatus, viii. 110, ‘That he his Sone Isaäc,’ and it may be noted that the same thing occurs with the same name in the Mirour, 12241, ‘De Isaak auci je lis.’

The article the regularly coalesces with a succeeding word beginning with a vowel or mute h, as thaffeccioun, thalemans, thamende, thapostel, thastat, theffect, themperour, thenvious, therbage, therthe, thexperience, thonour, thother, thunsemlieste, thyle, &c. The exceptions, which are very few, are cases of special emphasis, as i. 3251, ‘The Erthe it is.’ Similarly the negative particle ne with a succeeding verb beginning with a vowel, as nam, naproche, nis (but ne have), and also occasionally with some words beginning with w, forming nere, nost, not, nyle, nyste, &c. In some few instances to coalesces with the gerund, as tacompte, teschuie.

There is diaeresis regularly in such proper names as Theseüs, Peleüs, Tereüs, and also in Saül, Isaäc. We have Moïses usually, but Moises (dissyllable), iv. 648, Thaise usually, but Thaïsis in the epitaph, viii. 1536. One example occurs affecting the -ee termination, viz. Caldeë, v. 781 (usually a dissyllable), so Judeë, Galileë in Mirour, 20067, 29239. This is an essentially different case from[Pg cxxvi] that of degreës, which is found in Chaucer. The termination -ius is usually dissyllabic, but vii. 2967, ‘The god Mercurius and no man.’ The endings -ioun, -ious, -ien, &c., are always fully pronounced.

As regards accent, it has been already observed that the natural accent of words is preserved far better in Gower’s verse than in Chaucer’s. There are, however, a number of words of French origin, of which the accent was unsettled, and also some instances of English words in which a secondary syllable was capable of receiving the principal accent, either in case of composition, as in kingdom, knihthode, treweliche, or with a formative termination, as that of the superlative, fairéste, &c., or the present participle, as wepénde. In such cases the accent was often determined by the metre. Many Romance words are quite freely treated in the matter of accent, as for example folie, fortune, mercy, mirour, nature, parfit, preiere, resoun, science, sentence, tempeste. The terminations -hode, -hede, -inge, -liche, -ly, -nesse, -schipe are all capable of accent, and also the penultimate syllables of answere and felawe.

Nearly all that is important about rhyme has already been said under the head of Phonology. We may here remark on some of the instances in which the form of words is accommodated to the rhyme, these being sometimes cases where variants are supplied by neighbouring dialects. Thus we have aise for ese, ar for er, hair for heir, naght once for noght, fer once for fyr, hade, with the original long vowel, for hadde, geth (the originally correct form) for goth, fore for for; and alternatives such as moneie monoie, aweie awey away, seide saide, soverein soverain, are used in accordance with the rhyme, though it is difficult to say for certain in all cases whether there was difference of sound. Thus, while we have away as rhyme to day, awey is found rhyming to ey, i. 2545, said, saide rhyming with paid, Maide, while seide rhymes with alleide, obeide; we find soverein : aȝein, but brayn : soverain. The form yhe often varies to ÿe when in rhyme with -ie termination, as clergie : ÿe, Prol. 329 f., ÿe : agonie, i. 967 f. (but also yhe : pourpartie, i. 405 f., yhe : specefie, i. 571 f.). Sometimes however the other rhyme-word is modified to correspond to it, as pryhe : yhe, v. 469 f., and there was probably no perceptible difference of pronunciation in this case. So also the preterite lowh is written low when in rhyme with now, Prol. 1071, and[Pg cxxvii] similarly thou : ynou, vii. 2099 f. (but bowe: ynowhe, ii. 3225 f.). We have already seen that the use of such alternative forms as sinne senne, wile wole, lasse lesse, hedde hidde, -ende -inge is sometimes determined by the rhyme.

Alliteration is used by Gower in a manner which is especially characteristic of the new artistic style of poetry. It is sufficiently frequent, both in formal combinations, such as ‘cares colde,’ ‘lusty lif,’ ‘park and plowh,’ ‘swerd or spere,’ ‘lief and loth,’ ‘wel or wo,’ ‘dike and delve,’ ‘slepe softe,’ ‘spille ... spede,’ and as an element of the versification:

i. 886 f. ‘For so, thei seide, al stille and softe
God Anubus hire wolde awake.’
iv. 2590 ‘The lost is had, the lucre is lore.’
iv. 3384 f. ‘Which many a man hath mad to falle,
Wher that he mihte nevere arise.’
v. 3670 f. ‘And thanne he gan to sighe sore,
And sodeinliche abreide of slep.’
vii. 3468 f. ‘Sche hath hir oghne bodi feigned,
For feere as thogh sche wolde flee.’

But it is not introduced in accordance with any fixed rules, and it often assists the flow of the verse without in the least attracting the attention of the reader. We do not find any examples of the rather exaggerated popular style which Chaucer sometimes adopts in passages of violent action, e.g. Cant. Tales, A 2604 ff. The whole subject of alliteration in Gower has been carefully dealt with by P. Höfer in his dissertation, Alliteration bei Gower, 1890, where a very large number of examples are cited and classified; and to this the reader may be referred.

viii. Text and Manuscripts. About forty manuscript copies of the Confessio Amantis are known to exist in public or private libraries or in the hands of booksellers, and probably there may be a few more in private possession, the existence of which has not yet been recorded. As the broad lines for their classification are necessarily laid down by the fact that the book was put forth by the author in several different forms, it is necessary, before proceeding further, to say something about this matter.

That the poem exists in at least two distinct forms, characterized by obvious differences near the beginning and at the end, has been matter of common knowledge. Even in Berthelette’s edition of 1532 the difference at the beginning was noted, and[Pg cxxviii] though the printer did not venture to deviate from the form of text which had been made current by Caxton, yet he gave in his preface the beginning of the poem as he found it in his manuscript. Dr. Pauli accordingly proceeded on the assumption that there were two normal forms, one having a dedication to Richard II at the beginning and a form of conclusion in which mention is made of Chaucer, and the other with a dedication to Henry of Lancaster and a conclusion in which Chaucer is not mentioned. Copies which do not conform to these standards are for him simply irregular. He is aware of the additional passages in Berthelette’s edition and in the Stafford MS., and in one place he speaks of three classes of MSS., but he does not know that there are any written copies except the Stafford MS. which contain the additional passages. If he had had personal knowledge of the manuscripts at Oxford and at Cambridge, instead of being satisfied to gather scraps of information about the former from Bodley’s Librarian and about the latter from Todd, he would have found the passages in question also in MS. Bodley 294 at Oxford and in the Trinity and Sidney MSS. at Cambridge.

There are then at least these three classes of manuscripts to be recognized even by a superficial observer, and we shall find that the more obvious differences which have been mentioned are accompanied by a number of others of less importance. The first recension according to our classification is that in which the conclusion of the poem contains praises of Richard II as a just and beneficent ruler and a presentation of the book for his acceptanceAB. The second has the additional passages of the fifth and seventh books, with a rearrangement of the sixth book which has not hitherto been noticed, while the conclusion of the poem has been rewritten so as to exclude the praises of the king, and in some copies there is also a new preface with dedication to Henry of Lancaster. The third exhibits a return to the form of the first as regards the additional passages, but has the rewritten preface and epilogue. Against this merely threefold division some objections might fairly be made. It might be pointed out that the so-called second recension includes at least two distinct forms, and moreover that upon further examination[Pg cxxix] we see reason to divide the manuscripts of our first recension into two main groups, one exhibiting an earlier and the other a later text, this last being more in accordance generally with that of what we call the second and third recensions than with the earlier form of the first. For practical purposes, however, the division which has been laid down above may fairly be adopted. As regards the order of time, from the political tendency of the differences between them it is clear that what we call the first recension logically precedes the third. The intermediate position of the second is given chiefly by the fact that one of the seven existing manuscripts gives the earlier form of preface, and this may also have been the case with two others, which are defective at the beginningAC. However, as has been said, the name is used for convenience to cover a class of copies which, as regards the character of their text, do not all belong to the same period, and they must be looked upon as representing rather a concurrent variety of the first or the third recensionAD than as a type which is distinctly intermediate in order of time. At the same time the smaller variations of text exhibited by these seven MSS. in combination, as against all othersAE, mark them as really a family apart, more closely related to one another than to those that lie outside the group.

For the sake of clearness the manuscripts are in this edition regularly grouped according to this classification, and in the critical notes each class is cited by itself. At the same time it must not be assumed that the manuscripts of each recension stand necessarily by themselves, and that no connexion is traceable between one class and another. On the contrary, we shall[Pg cxxx] find that many errors in the text of the first recension appear also in some copies of the second, and even of the third. The process by which this was brought about is made clearer to us by the fact that we have an example of a manuscript which has passed from one group into another partly by erasure and partly by substitution of leaves, apparently made under the direction of the author. This is MS. Fairfax 3, which forms the basis of our text, and the handwriting of some of the substituted pages is one which may be recognized as belonging to the ‘scriptorium’ of the poet.

The example is a suggestive one and serves to explain several things. It makes it easy to understand, for example, how the additional matter introduced into the second recension came to be omitted in the third. The author in this instance had before him a very fully revised and corrected copy of his first edition, and this by a certain amount of rewriting over erasure and by a substitution of leaves at the beginning and end of the poem was converted into a copy of what we call the third recension, which his scribes could use at once as an authoritative exemplar. The introduction of the additional passages in the fifth and seventh books could not have been effected without a process of recopying the whole book, which would have called for much additional labour of the nature of proof-reading on the part of the author, in order to secure its correctness. This argument would apply to a book which was intended to remain in the hands of the author, or rather of the scribes whom he employed, and to be used as an archetype from which copies were to be made. If a new book had to be specially prepared for presentation, the case would be different, and it might then be worth while to incorporate the additional passages with the fully revised and re-dedicated text, as we find was done in the case of the so-called Stafford MS.

Another matter which can evidently be explained in the same way is the reappearance in some copies of the second recension of errors which belong to the first. In producing the originals of such manuscripts as these, partially revised copies of the first recension must have been used as the basis, and such errors as had not yet received correction appear in the new edition.

The assumption that a certain number of errors are original, that is to say, go back either to the author’s own autograph or[Pg cxxxi] to the transcript first made from it, is in itself probable: we know in fact that some which appear in every copy, without exception, of the first and second recensions at length receive correction by erasure in Fairfax 3. So far as we can judge, the text of the Confessio Amantis during its first years exhibited a steady tendency to rid itself of error, and the process of corruption in the ordinary sense can hardly be said to have set in until after the death of the author. There are a large number of various readings in the case of which we find on the one side the great majority of first recension MSS., and on the other a small number of this same type together with practically the whole of the second and third recensions, as, for exampleAF:

i. 2836 to H₁XERCLB₂ do AJMG, SAdBΔΛ, FWH₃

2847 be om. H₁XGERCLB₂ ins. AJM, SAdBΔ, FWH₃

2953 wele H ... B₂ weie AJM, SAd BΔ, FWH₃

3027 preieth H₁ ... B₂, W braieth, AJM, S ... ΔΛ, FH₃

3374 an Erl hier H₁ ... B₂, Λ mad a Pier AJM, SAdBΔ, FW (H₃ def.)

3381 place H₁ ... B₂, BΛ maide AJM, SAdΔ, FW (H₃ defective)

ii. 833 that diere H₁ ... B₂, B that other AJ(M), SAdΔΛ, FWH₃

iii. 12 euermore H₁ ... B₂ enemy AJM, SAdBTΔ, FWH₃

354 I may H₁ ... B₂ he may AJM, SAdBTΔ, FWH₃

iv. 109 day H₁ ... B₂, H₃ lay AJM, SBTΔ, FW (Ad def.)

v. 316 thanne (than) H₁ ... B₂, Δ hom AJM, SAdBTΔ, FWH₃

368 And for no drede now wol I wonde H₁ ... B₂, Λ In helle thou schalt understonde AJM, S ... Δ, FWH₃ cp. 394, 424, 786, &c.

2694 Whan that sche was bot of ȝong age For good ERCLB₂ That only for thilke avantage Of good AJMH₁XG, S ... ΔΛ, FWH₃

2771 nyh om. ERCLB₂ ins. AJMH₁XG, S ... Δ, FWH₃

3110 burned as the silver ERCLB₂ burned was as selver AJMH₁XG, S ... ΔΛ, FWH₃ cp. 3032, 3246, &c.

We see in these examples, selected as fairly typical, that some of the variants have evidently the character of errors, while in other cases the difference of reading is due to an alternative version. The circumstances, however, of these two cases are not distinguishable, the errors are supported by as much authority as the rest, and it must be supposed that both have the same[Pg cxxxii] origin. If then we assume that such variations as we find (for example) in i. 3396, 3416, v. 30, 47, 82, 368, 2694, &c., are due to the author, as is almost certain, there can be no doubt that the form of text which is given by the group AJM in combination with the second and third recensions is the later of the two: and if the group H₁ ... B₂ represents an earlier type as regards this class of variation, it must surely do so also as regards the errors, which, as we have seen, stand upon the same ground in respect of manuscript authority. As we cannot help believing that the author wrote originally ‘To holde hir whil my lif may laste,’ v. 82, and ‘The more he hath the more he greedeth,’ v. 394, so we may reasonably suppose that errors such as ‘it’ for ‘hid,’ i. 1755, ‘that diere’ for ‘that other,’ ii. 833, ‘what’ for ‘war,’ iii. 1065, existed in the copy which first served as an exemplar.

It may be observed here that in cases where revision seems to have taken place, we can frequently see a definite reason for the change; either the metre is made more smooth, as i. 1770, 2622, 3374, ii. 671, 751, 1763, iii. 765, 2042, 2556, iv. 234, v. 368, 1678, &c., or some name is altered into a more correct form, as where ‘Element’ is changed to ‘Clemenee,’ iv. 985, with a corresponding alteration of the rhyme, or the expression and run of the sentence is improved, as i. 368, 3416, v. 30, 1906, 6756, &c. In particular we note the tendency towards increased smoothness of metre which is shown in dealing with weak e terminations.

It is to be assumed on the principles which have been stated that the group ERCLB₂ and the other manuscripts which agree with them represent with more or less accuracy the first form of the author’s text, that H₁YXG and a few more form a class in which correction and revision has taken place to some extent, but partially and unsystematically, and that AJM &c. give us the first recension text in a much more fully revised and corrected form.

It has been already said that F was originally a manuscript of the first recension. We shall find however that it did not exactly correspond to any existing first recension manuscript. Setting aside the small number of individual mistakes to be found in it, there are perhaps about eighty instances (many of a very trifling character) in which its text apparently differed originally from[Pg cxxxiii] that of any first recension copy which we have, and in about half of these the text of F agrees with that of the second recension. The manuscript which comes nearest to F in most respects is J (St. John’s Coll., Camb.), and there is a considerable number of instances in which this MS. stands alone among first recension copies in agreement with the Fairfax text. In the sixth book, for example, if J be set aside, there are at least twenty-three passages in which F gives an apparently genuine reading unsupported by the first recension; but in sixteen of these cases J is in agreement with F. It must be noted, however, that this state of things is not equally observable in the earlier part of the poem, and indeed does not become at all marked until the fifth book.

Besides variations of reading, there are in the Fairfax MS. a few additions to the text which are not found in any first recension copy. These are Prol. 495-498, 579-584 and i. 1403-1406, two passages of four lines each and one of six, as well as some additions to the Latin notes in the margin (at Prol. 195, i. 2705, and v. 7725), of which the first two were evidently put in later than the accompanying text. Finally, there are three other additions to the text which are found in a single copy of the first recension, MS. Harl. 3490 (H₁). These are i. 2267-2274, where four lines have been expanded into eight, i. 2343-2358, an interesting addition of sixteen lines to the tale of Narcissus, and i. 2369-2372. Thus in the matter of additions to the text H₁ stands nearer to F than AJM &c., and in a few other passages also it is found standing alone of its recension in company with F, e.g. i. 2043, 2398, ii. 2247. This manuscript does not belong to the ‘fully revised’ group, but it gives the revised readings more frequently perhaps than any other outside that group.

Thus notwithstanding the differences between the first recension copies, as we have them, and the Fairfax MS. as it originally stood, we shall have no difficulty in regarding the latter as having been originally a revised and corrected copy of that recension, exhibiting a text to which tolerably near approaches are made by A, J, and H₁, each in its own way, though no copy precisely corresponding to it is known to exist.

Passing to the second recension, we must first repeat what has already been said, that it did not supersede the first, but existed and developed by its side, having its origin probably in the very same year, or at latest in the next. Its characteristic point is the[Pg cxxxiv] presence of considerable additions in the fifth and seventh books, together with a rearrangement of part of the sixth. There are seven manuscripts known to me, of which three are defective at the beginning. All these (except one, which is also defective at the end) have the rewritten epilogue, one in combination with the Chaucer verses and the others without them. Of the four which are perfect at the beginning, one, namely B, has the earlier form of preface, and the other three, ΛP₂ and S, the later. Of the others it is probable, but by no means certain, that T agreed with B in this respect, and practically certain that Δ agreed with S. A more satisfactory line of distinction, which divides the manuscripts of this class into two groups, is given by the general character of the text which they exhibit, and by the insertion or omission of certain of the additional passages of which we have spoken. While some of the passages, viz. v. 6395*-6438*, 7086*-7210*, vii. 3207*-3360*, are common to all the copies, as are also the transposition of vi. 665-964 and (except in case of Λ) the omission of v. 7701-7746, three of them are found in AdBTΛP₂ only, and are omitted in SΔAG, viz. v. 7015*-7036*, vii. 2329*-2340* and 3149*-3180*. Then, as regards the text generally, the five MSS. first mentioned all have connexions of various kinds with the unrevised form of the first recension, while the last two represent a type which, except as regards variants specially characteristic of the second recension, of which there may be about sixty in all, nearly corresponds with that of the Fairfax MS.AH

The relations of the group AdBTΛP₂ with the first recension and with one another are difficult to clear up satisfactorily. Broadly, it may be said that of these B represents an earlier type than the rest in regard to correction and Λ in regard to revision: that is to say, B retains a large number of first recension errors which do not appear in the rest (sharing some, however, with Λ), while at the same time, in cases where a line has been rewritten B almost regularly has the altered form, though with some exceptions in the first two books. On the other hand, though it often happens[Pg cxxxv] that Λ is free from original errors which appear in B, yet in many places where B has the revised form of text Λ gives us the original, in agreement with the earlier first recension type, while in others Λ agrees with B in giving the revised reading. Then again, there can be no doubt of the close connexion between B and T, but the agreement between them is not usually on those points in which B follows the first recension in error. It is as if they had been derived from the same archetype, but T (or a manuscript from which T was copied) sprang from it at a later stage than the original of B, when many of the errors noted in the first recension had been corrected, while the text of the book generally was allowed to remain as it wasAI. Finally, the text of Ad approaches very near to a fully revised and corrected type. It very occasionally reproduces the earlier first recension, as if by accident, but seems never deliberately to give an ‘unrevised’ reading. It should be observed that from a point towards the end of the fifth book (about v. 6280) AdBT is a group which is very frequently found in special agreement, whereas before that point we usually find BT (or BTΛ) with Ad on the other side.

Passing now to the third recension, which has the preface and epilogue as in Λ and S, but excludes the additional passages, we find it represented by eight manuscripts, with Fairfax 3 at their head. We have already seen that this manuscript was originally one of the first recension, and was altered by the author so as to substitute the new epilogue and the new preface. Besides these changes, fresh lines are in several places written over erasures, as i. 2713 f., iv. 1321 f., 1361 f., &c., the marginal date is erased at Prol. 331, and additions have been made to the marginal notes. All these alterations, as well as the points previously noted, in which F originally differed from the other copies of the first recension, are reproduced in the other MSS. of the third recension.

[Pg cxxxvi]

Of these remaining MSS. one is directly copied from F, and another seems to be certainly derived from the same source, though perhaps not immediately. In the case of H₃ (MS. Harl. 7184) the question of origin is not quite so simple. Its text generally seems to suggest ultimate dependence on F, but it is very unequal as regards accuracy, and in one part it regularly follows the early first recension readings and seems to belong for the time to the ERCLB₂ group. In addition to this it has a Latin marginal note at the beginning of the Prologue, which is wanting in F. The problem is perhaps to be solved by means of the Keswick MS. This is written in several hands, varying greatly in accuracy, and exactly in that place where H₃ seems to follow a first recension copy the Keswick MS. is defective, having lost several leaves. It also contains the marginal note referred to above, and on examination we find that a whole series of corruptions are common to the two MSS. There seems to be very little doubt that K is the source of H₃, the inequality of the latter MS. being to a great extent in accordance with the change of hands in K, and the variation of H₃ in a portion of the third book to a different type of text being exactly coincident with the gap left in K by loss of leaves, a loss which must apparently have taken place in the first forty or fifty years of its existenceAJ. As to the text of K itself, in the parts which are most carefully written it reproduces that of F with scrupulous exactness, giving every detail of orthography and punctuation, and for the most part following it in such small errors as it has. It is impossible for one who places these MSS. side by side, as I have been able to do, to avoid the conviction that in some parts at least the exemplar for K was the Fairfax MS. itself. On the other hand, the Latin marginal note at the beginning was derived from some other copy, and setting aside the many mistakes, which possibly are due to mere carelessness on the part of some of the scribes, the Keswick MS. does undoubtedly contain some readings which seem to be derived from a different source. In form of text generally it corresponds exactly with F, reproducing all the additions and corrections made by erasure or otherwise, and containing the same Latin and French pieces in the same order at the end, so far at least as it is perfect. The Magdalen College MS. must be derived ultimately from the same[Pg cxxxvii] source as H₃, and it has the same lapse from the third recension to the first, coinciding with the gap in the Keswick book. On the other hand W, though in form of text it corresponds with these and with F, is quite independent of the group above mentioned, and probably also of the Fairfax MS. It is late and full of corruptions, but in several instances it assists in the correction of errors which appear in F, and it is apparently based on a copy which retained some of the variants of the earlier text still uncorrected.

As for the remaining manuscript, which was formerly in the Phillipps collection, but is now in the hands of a bookseller, I have had so little opportunity for examining it that I ought not to attempt a classification.

Reviewing the whole body of authorities, we can recognize readily that two are pre-eminent as witnesses for the author’s final text, that is to say, S and F, the Stafford and the Fairfax MSS. These are practically identical in orthography, and, except as regards the characteristic differences, which sufficiently guarantee their independence, exhibit essentially the same text, and one which bears the strongest marks of authenticity. Both are contemporary with the author, and it is perhaps difficult to say which best represents his final judgement as to the form of his work.

The Stafford MS. seems to be the earlier in time, that is to say, it probably precedes the final conversion of the Fairfax copy. It was evidently written for presentation to a member of the house of Lancaster, perhaps to Henry himself before his accession to the throne. It was doubtless for some such presentation copy that the preface was rewritten in 1392-3, with the dedication to Henry introduced into the English text, while most of the other copies issued during Richard’s reign probably retained their original form. If we suppose that the new forms of preface and epilogue were at first intended only for private circulation, we can account for the very considerable preponderance of the first recension in regard to the number of copies by which it is represented, and also allow sufficient time for the gradual development of the text, first into the type which we find in A or J, and finally into that of F, as it originally stood, a process which can hardly be satisfactorily understood if we suppose that from 1393 onwards the Lancastrian dedication had its place in all copies put forth by the author. It seems on the whole probable, for reasons to be stated afterwards, that the final conversion of[Pg cxxxviii] F (that is as regards the preface) did not take place until after the deposition of Richard, and it is reasonable enough to suppose that copies were usually issued in the original form, until after that event occurred.

Manuscripts. The following account of the MSS. is given on my own authority in every detail. I have been able to see them all, and I wish here to express my thanks to the possessors of them, and to the librarians who have them in their charge, for the readiness with which they have given me the use of them. I am indebted especially to the Councils of Trinity College and St. John’s College, Cambridge, and to Corpus Christi, Wadham, Magdalen, and New College, Oxford, for allowing their MSS. to be sent to the Bodleian Library for my use, and to remain there for considerable periods. Except in the case of one or two, to which my access was limited, I have examined every one carefully, so that I am able to say (for example) to what extent, if at all, they are imperfect. They are arranged as far as possible in accordance with the classes and groups to which they belong, as follows:

1st Recension (a) AJMP₁ChN₂E₂ (b) H₁YXGOAd₂CathQ (c) ECRLB₂SnDArHdAsh 2nd Recension (a) SΔ (b) AdTBΛP₂ 3rd Recension FH₂NKH₃MagdWP₃ Hn

First Recension.

(a) Revised.

A. Bodley 902, Bodleian Library (formerly Arch. D. 33, not in Bernard’s Catalogue, 1697). Contains Confessio Amantis followed by ‘Explicit iste liber’ (four lines), ‘Quam cinxere freta,’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque.’ Parchment, ff. 184, measuring 13⅜ × 9⅛ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords. Well written in double column of 46 lines in three different hands of early fifteenth cent., of which the first extends to the end of the second quire (ff. 2-16), the second from thence to the end of the tenth quire (ff. 17-80), and the third from f. 81 to the end. The columns nearly correspond with those of the Fairfax MS. up to f. 81, after which point some attempt is made to save space by writing the Latin verses in the margin. Latin summaries in the margin, except very occasionally, as on ff. 10 and 11 vo. Floreated half border in fairly good style at the beginning of each book except the fifth, and one miniature on f. 8, of the Confession, remarkable for the fact that the figure of the Lover is evidently intended as a portrait of the author, being that of an old man and with some resemblance in features to the effigy on Gower’s tomb. The Confessor has a red stole,[Pg cxxxix] which with his right hand he is laying on the penitent’s head, much as in the miniatures which we have in C and L. The note for the miniaturist still stands in the margin, ‘Hic fiat confessor sedens et confessus coram se genuflectendo.’

The first leaf of the book is lost, and has been supplied in the sixteenth cent. from Berthelette’s second edition. It should be noted that this is not the form of commencement which belongs properly to the MS., being that of the third recension, taken by Berthelette from Caxton. The first line of f. 2 is Prol. 144.

As to former possessors, we find written on the last leaf ‘Anniballis Admiralis dominicalis,’ on f. 80 ‘Be me Anne Russell’ (?), and on f. 115 ‘Elyzebeth Gardnar my troust ys in god,’ all apparently sixteenth cent. The first name is evidently that of Claude d’Annebaut (also called d’Hannybal), who was Admiral of France, and died in 1552. He was in England about the year 1547. The book came to the Bodleian from Gilbert Dolben, Esq., of Finedon, in Northamptonshire, in the year 1697, and not being in the Catalogue of 1697, it has to some extent escaped notice.

The text is a very good one of the revised type. It should be noted, however, that while in the earlier books AJM &c. stand very frequently together on the side of F as against the rest of the first recension, in the later, and especially in the seventh and eighth, AM &c. have an increasing tendency to stand with the first recension generally, leaving J alone in support of the corrected text. In the earlier books A sometimes stands alone in this manner, as i. 1960, ii. 961, 1356.

The orthography (especially that of the second hand) is nearly that of F. As regards final e, the tendency is rather to insert wrongly than to omit. Punctuation agrees generally with that of F.

J. St. John’s Coll., Camb. B 12. Contains the same as A. Parchment, ff. 214, 12 × 9½ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords: double column of 39 lines, written in a very neat hand of the first quarter of fifteenth century. Latin summaries usually omitted, but most of them inserted up to f. 5 (Prol. 606), and a few here and there in the fifth and seventh books.

The first page has a complete border, but there are no other decorations except red and blue capitals. Old wooden binding.

The seventh leaf of quire 12 (v. 57-213) and the first of quire 14 (v. 1615-1770) are cut out, and a passage of 184 lines is omitted in the first book (i. 631-814) without loss of leaf, which shows that the manuscript from which it was copied, and which here must have lost a leaf, had the normal number of 46 lines to the column.

Various names, as Thomas Browne, Nicolas Helifax, J. Baynorde, are written in the book, and also ‘John Nicholas oweth this book,’ with the date 1576. At the beginning we find ‘Tho. C. S.’, which stands for ‘Thomas Comes Southampton.’ The book was in fact bought with[Pg cxl] others by Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, from William Crashaw, Fellow of St. John’s College, and presented by him to the College Library in the year 1635.

This MS. gives a text which is nearer to the type of F than that of any other first recension copy. In the later books especially it seems often to stand alone of its class in agreement with F, as v. 649, 1112, 1339, 1578, 3340, 4351, 4643, 5242, 6059, 6461, 6771, vi. 162, 442, 784, 973, 2089, vii. 445, 1027, 1666, 2424, 3235, 4336, 5348, viii. 13, 239, 747, 845, 1076, 1415, 1456 ff., 2195, 2220, 2228, 2442, 2670 ff., and it is noteworthy that this is the only first recension copy which supplies the accidental omission of ‘eorum disciplina—materia’ in the author’s Latin account of the Conf. Amantis at the end. As regards individual correctness it is rather unequal. In some places it has many mistakes, as vi. 1509 ff., while in others it is very correct. The spelling is in most points like that of F, and it is usually good as regards terminations; but the scribe has some peculiarities of his own, which he introduces more or less freely, as ‘ho’ for ‘who,’ ‘heo’ for ‘sche’ (pretty regularly), ‘heor’ for ‘her,’ ‘whech’ for ‘which.’ It must also be an individual fancy which leads him regularly to substitute ‘som tyme’ for ‘whilom’ wherever it occurs. Punctuation usually agrees with that of F.

M. Camb. Univ. Mm. 2.21 (Bern. Cat. ii. 9648). Contains Conf. Amantis only, without ‘Explicit,’ &c. (the last leaf being lost). Parchment, ff. 183, 14 × 9½ in. Quires of eight with catchwords and signatures: double columns of 46 lines: Latin summaries usually in margin, but occasionally in the text, as in A. Several hands, as follows, (1) ff. 1-32, 41-64, 73-88, 97-136, 145-152, 161-176; (2) ff. 33-40, 89-96, 137-144; (3) ff. 65-72; (4) ff. 153-160; (5) ff. 177-183. Finally another, different from all the above, adds sometimes a marginal note which has been dropped, as on ff. 4, 32 vo, 65, 72 vo. The first hand, in which more than two-thirds of the book is written, is fairly neat: the third much rougher than the rest, and also more inaccurate.

Floreated half border in fairly good style at the beginning of each book, except the third, fifth, and seventh, and two rather rudely painted miniatures, viz. f. 4 vo, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (the king in bed, crowned), and f. 8, the Confession, a curious little picture in the margin. The priest is laying his stole on the head of the penitent, whose features are evidently meant for a portrait. It is quite different however from that which we have in A. Below this picture we find the note, ‘Hic fiat Garnimentum.’

The last leaf is lost, containing no doubt the ‘Explicit,’ ‘Quam cinxere,’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque,’ as in A.

The names Stanhope and Yelverton are written on f. 39 (sixteenth cent.), and ‘Margareta Straunge’ on the first leaf (seventeenth cent.). Later the book belonged to Bishop Moore of Norwich (No. 462 in his library), and it passed with the rest of his books to the University of Cambridge in 1715, as a gift from the king.

M is very closely connected with A, as is shown by very many instances[Pg cxli] of special agreement, and some considerations suggest that it may be actually derived from it, as for example the writing of the Latin verses in the margin after f. 80, which in A seems to be connected with a change of hand, whereas in M it begins at the same point without any such reason. On the other hand M has a good many readings which are clearly independent, either correcting mistakes and omissions in A, as Prol. 195 marg., 937, i. 673 marg., 924, 1336, 3445, ii. 951, iii. 2529, vi. 620, or giving an early reading where A has a later, e.g. Prol. 869, i. 1118, 1755, ii. 961, 3516, iii. 1939, v. 3914, 5524, &c. In correctness of text and of spelling M is much inferior to A, especially as regards final e: for example, on f. 53 vo,

Came neuer ȝit to mannes ere Cam A
Tiding | ne to mannes siȝt Tidinge ... sihte A
Merueil whiche so sore aflihte Merueile which A
Amannes herte as it þe dede þo A
To hym whoche in þe same stede him which A

P₁, formerly Phillipps 2298, bought in June, 1899, by Mr. B. Quaritch, who kindly allowed me to see it. Parchment, leaf measuring about 9 × 6½ in., double column of 39 lines, in a fairly neat running hand, with many contractions because of the small size of the leaf. Latin summaries omitted. No decoration. Text agrees with AJM group, so far as I have examined it.

Ch. Chetham’s Libr., Manchester, A. 6. 11 (Bern. Cat. ii. 7151). Contains Conf. Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (4 lines) and ‘Quam cinxere.’ Parchment, ff. 126, about 15¼ × 10¾ in., quires usually of 12 or 14 leaves. Rather irregularly written in double column of 47-61 lines, late fifteenth century. No ornament. Marginal Latin almost entirely omitted, but some English notes by way of summary occasionally in margin, perhaps by later hand.

The first leaf is lost, the MS. beginning Prol. 193, and also two leaves in the second quire (i. 1092-1491) and one in the tenth (viii. 2111-2343); but besides these imperfections there are many omissions, apparently because the copyist got tired of his work, e.g. ii. 3155-3184, iii. 41-126, 817-842, 877-930, 1119-1196, iv. 17-72, 261-370, 569-704, 710-722, 915-968, 1117-1236, v. 72-112. There is also a good deal of omission and confusion in v. 6101-7082. At the end in a scroll is written ‘Notehurste,’ which indicates probably that the book was copied for one of the Chethams of Nuthurst, perhaps Thomas Chetham, who died 1504. The word ‘Notehurst’ also occurs at the end of the Glasgow MS. of the ‘Destruction of Troy,’ which has in another place the names of John and Thomas Chetham of ‘Notehurst’ as the owners of it.

In text it belongs to the AJM group, and sometimes, as iv. 208, stands alone with J. There are many corruptions, however, and the spelling is late and bad.

N₂. New College, Oxford, 326. Contains Conf. Amantis only (no ‘Explicit’). Parchment, ff. 207 + 4 blanks, about 13¾ × 9½ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords; neatly written in double column of 40 lines[Pg cxlii] (or 39). No Latin summaries or verses. The handwriting changes after f. 62 (at iii. 2164) and becomes rather larger and more ornamental.

Two leaves lost after f. 35, containing ii. 1066-1377, and some of the leaves of the MS. from which it was copied had been displaced, so that iv. 2501-2684 comes after 2864, then follows 3049-3232, then 2865-3048, and after these 3233 ff. (two leaves displaced in the original). Lines omitted sometimes with blanks left, as i. 1044, 2527.

From the coats of arms which it contains the book would seem to have been written for Thomas Mompesson of Bathampton, sheriff of Wilts in 1478 (K. Meyer, John Gower’s Beziehungen, &c.). It was given to John Mompesson by Sir Giles Mompesson in 1650, and to New College by Thomas Mompesson, Fellow, in 1705.

The text is a combination of two types. It has the Lancaster dedication at the beginning, but the conclusion which belongs to the first recension. On examination it proves that the scribe who wrote the first eight quires followed a manuscript not of the F, but of the SΔ class (agreeing for example with S in i. 1881 f., 2017 ff., ii. 2387, iii. 168, 1241, and differing from F in regard to i. 2267 ff., 2343 ff., &c.), while the copyist of the remainder followed one of the revised first recension. The spelling is poor.

E₂. Bibl. Egerton 913, Brit. Museum. A fragment, containing Conf. Amantis from the beginning to i. 1701. Paper, ff. 47, 11½ × 8 in., in quires of 16 with catchwords: single column, 30-37 lines on page: Latin summaries in margin. Three hands, (1) f. 1-26, 31-36; (2) 27-30; (3) 37-47.

On f. 26 vo. there is an omission of i. 387-570 (one leaf of 184 lines lost in the copy). This is supplied by the insertion of four leaves after f. 26, containing i. 375-580.

The text belongs to the revised group, as shown by Prol. 6, 7, 115, 659, 869, i. 162, 278, 368, 1262, &c.

(b) Intermediate.

H₁. Harleian 3490, Brit. Museum. Contains, ff. 1-6 St Edmund’s Speculum Religiosorum, ff. 8-215 Confessio Amantis, left unfinished on f. 215 vo. Parchment, 215 leaves, 14½ × 10 in., in quires of 8 with catchwords: double column of 34-51 lines, small neat hand of middle fifteenth cent., with some corrections, perhaps in the same hand. Latin summaries in the text, underlined with red. Blank leaf cut out after f. 6, and f. 7 left blank, so that Gower begins on the first leaf of the second quire. The text is left unfinished at viii. 3062*, part of the last page remaining blank.

Floreated pages at the beginning of the books and also at f. 11, with various coats of arms painted.

The text given by this MS. is of an intermediate type. Occasionally throughout it is found in agreement with AJM &c. rather than with ERC &c., as Prol. 6, 7, i. 162, 630, 1755, 1768 ff., 1934, &c., and in a large portion[Pg cxliii] of the fifth book it passes over definitely in company with XG &c. to the revised class, but it does not contain the distinctive readings of XG. Sometimes it stands alone of the first recension in company with F &c., as iv. 2414, vii. 1749, viii. 2098, and especially in regard to the three passages, i. 2267 ff., 2343 ff., 2369 ff. In individual correctness of text and spelling the MS. does not rank high, and it is especially bad as regards insertion and omission of final e, as ‘Wherof him ouht welle to drede,’ ‘Ayenste the poyntes of the beleue,’ ‘Of whome that he taketh eny hede.’ It has th regularly for þ and y for ȝ.

Y. In the possession of the Marquess of Bute, by whose kindness I have been allowed to examine it. Contains Confessio Amantis, imperfect at beginning and end. Parchment, 15½ × 10¾ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords on scrolls. Very well written in double column of 50 lines, early fifteenth cent. Latin summaries in text (red). Floreated page finely illuminated at the beginning of each book, with good painting of large initials, some with figures of animals, in a style that looks earlier than the fifteenth cent. Spaces left on f. 2, apparently for two miniatures, before and after the Latin lines following i. 202.

Begins in the last Latin summary of the Prologue, ‘Arion nuper citharista,’ followed by Prol. 1053, ‘Bot wolde god,’ &c., having lost six leaves. Again, after iv. 819 nine leaves are lost, up to iv. 2490, and one leaf also which contained vi. 2367-vii. 88: the book ends with viii. 2799, two or three leaves being lost here. The book belonged to the first Marquess of Bute, who had his library at Luton. At present it is at St. John’s Lodge, Regent’s Park.

This is a good manuscript, carefully written and finely decorated. There are very few contractions, and in particular the termination -oun is generally written in full, as ‘confessioun,’ i. 202, ‘resoun,’ iii. 1111, ‘devocioun,’ ‘contemplacioun,’ v. 7125 f. &c., and th is written regularly for þ. As regards individual accuracy and spelling it is very fair, but the scribe adds -e very freely at the end of words. The type of text represented is evidently intermediate to some extent, but I have not been able to examine it sufficiently to determine its exact character. It supports the revised group in a certain number of passages, e.g. i. 264, 630, 3374, 3396, 3416, ii. 31, 1328, 1758, &c., sometimes in company with H₁ and sometimes not. In particular we may note the passage i. 3374 ff., where in some lines it is revised as above mentioned, and in others, as 3381, 3414, 3443, it keeps the earlier text. Occasionally Y seems to have a tendency to group itself with B, as i. 208, 604, and in other places we find YE or YEC forming a group in agreement with B, as i. 161, iii. 633, v. 1946, 3879.

X. Society of Antiquaries, 134. Contains, ff. 1-30 Lydgate’s Life of the Virgin (imperfect at beginning), f. 1 begins in cap. xiii. ‘Therefore quod pees,’ ff. 30-249 Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (six lines), ‘Quam cinxere,’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque,’ ff. 250-283, Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes, with ‘Explicit Thomas Occlef,’ ff. 283 vo, metrical version of Boethius [by John Walton of Osney] with leaves[Pg cxliv] lost at the end, ends ‘Amonges hem þat dwellen nyȝe present.’ Parchment, ff. 297, about 15 × 11 in., in quires of 8 without catchwords, in a good and regular hand. The Conf. Amantis is in double column of 41 lines. Latin summaries in text (red). Ornamental borders at the beginning of books and space for miniature of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream on f. 34 vo. One leaf lost between ff. 134 and 135, containing v. 1159-1318.

The book belonged formerly to the Rev. Charles Lyttelton, LL.D., who notes that it came originally from the Abbey of Hales Owen.

I owe thanks to the librarian of the Society of Antiquaries for courteously giving me access to the manuscript.

The text is of the intermediate type, passing over in a part of the fifth book with H₁ &c. to the revised group, but not giving the revised readings much support on other occasions. It forms however a distinct sub-group with GOAd₂, these manuscripts having readings apparently peculiar to themselves in several passages, e.g. v. 3688 and after v. 6848.

The spelling is not very good, and in particular final e is thrown in very freely without justification: there are also many -is, -id, -ir terminations, as ‘servantis,’ ‘goodis,’ ‘nedis,’ ‘ellis,’ ‘crokid,’ ‘clepid,’ ‘vsid,’ ‘chambir,’ ‘aftir,’ and ȝ usually for gh (h), as ‘hyȝe,’ ‘nyȝe,’ ‘ouȝt,’ ‘lawȝe,’ ‘sleyȝtis,’ &c. The text however is a fair one, and the use of it by Halliwell in his Dictionary preserved him from some of the errors of the printed editions. The scribe was apt to drop lines occasionally and insert them at the bottom of the column, and some, as iii. 2343, are dropped without being supplied.

G. Glasgow, Hunterian Museum, S. i. 7. Contains Confessio Amantis, imperfect at the end. Parchment, ff. 181 (numbered 179 by doubling 94 and 106) with two blanks at the beginning, 16½ × 10¾ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords: well and regularly written in double column of 46 lines, early fifteenth century. Latin summaries in the text (red). Floreated page at the beginning of each book, so far as they remain, and illuminated capitals. Many catchwords lost by cutting of the margin: it must once have been a very large book.

The manuscript has lost about sixteen leaves at the end, and eight altogether in various other places. In every case except one, however, the place of the lost leaf is supplied by a new leaf inserted, one of which has the missing portion of the text copied out from an early edition, while the rest are blank. The leaves lost are mostly such as would probably have had miniatures or illuminations, including the beginning of the first, second, sixth, seventh, and eighth books. The losses are as follows: f. 4 (containing Prol. 504-657, probably with a miniature), text supplied by later hand, f. 7 (Prol. 984-i. 30), f. 9 (i. 199-336, probably with a miniature), f. 28 (i. 3402-ii. 108), f. 129 (131) (v. 7718-vi. 40), f. 143 (145) (vi. 2343-vii. 60), a leaf after f. 175 (177) (vii. 5399-viii. 126), f. 177 (179) (viii. 271-441), and all after f. 179 (181), that is from viii. 783 to the end.

[Pg cxlv]

A former owner (seventeenth cent.) says, ‘This Book, as I was told by the Gent: who presented it to me, did originally belong to the Abbey of Bury in Suffolk.’ If so, the Confessio Amantis was probably read in this copy by Lydgate.

I am under great obligations to Dr. Young, Librarian of the Hunterian Museum, for the trouble he has taken to give me access to this excellent manuscript.

The Glasgow MS. is especially related to X (iv. 2773, v. 1486, 3582, 3688, 4110, 6848 ff., vi. 101, vii. 769, &c.), and belongs more generally to the group H₁X &c., which passes over to the revised class almost completely in a considerable part of the fifth book. The text, however, is on the whole much better than that of X, being both individually more correct and more frequently found on the side of the corrected readings, e.g. i. 2836, ii. 1441, 1867, v. 781, 1203, 2996, 4425, 5966, 6839, 7223, 7630, vi. 86, 746 (corrected), 1437, vii. 510, 1361, 1574, 2337, 3902, viii. 568. In at least one place, vii. 1574, it stands alone of the first recension, while in others, as v. 4425, 5966, 7630, vi. 746, 1437, &c., it is accompanied only by J. On the other hand in some passages, as v. 5802, 6019, 6257, vii. 1172 marg. &c., G has an earlier reading and X the later, while there is also a whole series of passages where G, sometimes in company with X, seems to show a special connexion of some kind with B (BT), as ii. 1925, iii. 733, iv. 2295, 2508, v. 4, 536, 2508, 3964, 4072, 7048, vi. 1267, 1733, vii. 3748, 4123, &c.

The book is carefully written, and corrected in the same hand, e.g. v. 3145, 5011, vi. 430, 746, vii. 4233. The spelling is pretty good, and in particular it is a contrast to X in the matter of final e. This is seldom wrongly inserted, and when it is omitted it is usually in places where the metre is not affected by it. Punctuation often in the course of the line, but not at the end.

O. Stowe 950, Brit. Museum. Confessio Amantis, imperfect at beginning and end. Parchment, ff. 175 (177 by numbering leaves of another book pasted to binding), 14¼ × 10 in., in eights with catchwords and signatures, double column of 44-46 lines; written in a small, neat hand. Latin summaries in text (red). No decorated pages.

Has lost seven leaves of the first quire, to i. 165 (incl.), and also after f. 16 one leaf (i. 2641-2991), after f. 35 one (ii. 2486-2645), after f. 44 two (iii. 673-998), after f. 97 one (v. 3714-3898), after f. 108 two (v. 5832-6184), after f. 136 two (vii. 771-1111), and at least four leaves at the end (after viii. 2549).

Formerly belonged to Lord Ashburnham.

In text this belongs to the XG group, agreeing with them, for example, at v. 3688, 6848, and in general with H₁XG, where they go together (so far as I have examined the book), e.g. in the Latin verses after v. 2858 (‘Vltra testes falsos,’ ‘penitus’) and in the readings of v. 1893, 1906, 2694, 3110, &c.

The handwriting is somewhat like that of H₁: the spelling sometimes fairly good, but unequal; bad especially at the beginning. The metre generally good.

[Pg cxlvi]

Ad₂. Additional 22139, Brit. Museum. Confessio Amantis, imperfect, with the author’s account of his books, ‘Quia vnusquisque,’ at the end, followed by Chaucer’s poems, ‘To you my purse,’ ‘The firste stok,’ ‘Some time this worlde,’ ‘Fle fro the pres.’ Parchment, ff. 138, 13¾ × 10¼ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords: regularly and closely written in double column of 53 lines by two hands, the first (ff. 1-71) somewhat pointed, the second rounder and smaller. Date 1432 on a shield, f. 1. Latin summaries in text (red). Illuminated borders at beginning of books (except the eighth) and many gilt capitals: a miniature cut out on f. 4 (before Prol. 595).

The first leaves are much damaged, f. 1 having only two lines left (f. 2 begins Prol. 177), f. 3 has lost Prol. 455-478 and 505-527, &c., f. 4 has a miniature cut out, with Prol. 716-726 on the other side, f. 6 has lost Prol. 979-1061. After f. 7 there is a loss of seventeen leaves (i. 199-ii. 56), after f. 31 (originally 48) two quires (sixteen leaves) are lost and f. 32 is damaged (iii. 1150-iv. 1517), after f. 81 one leaf lost (v. 7807-vi. 154).

Bought by Brit. Museum from Thos. Kerslake of Bristol, 1857.

The text is closely connected with that of X, but not copied from that manuscript itself (see ii. 1711, vii. 92, viii. 2650). There are corrections here and there in a somewhat later hand, e.g. ii. 671, 1045, 1457, iii. 1052, iv. 2922, several of which are cases of lines supplied, which had been dropped. In v. 3688 the ordinary reading has been substituted doubtless for that of X, and in some cases the alterations are wrong, as vii. 2639, viii. 51. The manuscript has a good many individual errors and the spelling is rather poor.

Cath. St. Catharine’s Coll., Camb. Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (six lines), ‘Quam cinxere’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque.’ Parchment, ff. 188, 17¾ × 12¼ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords: well written in double column of 47 lines, afterwards 40, before the middle of fifteenth cent. Latin summaries in text (red). Floreated whole border at the beginning of each book: miniature on f. 4 vo of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream, and f. 8 vo the Confession (Priest on stool to left of picture, laying hand but not stole on penitent’s head), fairly well painted.

Leaves are missing which contained i. 3089-3276, ii. 3331-3518, v. 1182-1363, 6225-6388, vi. 107-460, vii. 984-1155, and viii. 2941-3114*, and the last leaf containing ‘Explicit,’ &c., is placed now at the beginning of the volume. There is a confusion of the text in the third book, iii. 236-329 being repeated after 678 and 679-766 left out, also a considerable omission in the fourth (iv. 2033-3148) without loss of leaves in this MS. (The statement in the MS. that seven leaves are here lost is a mistake.) In the passage vii. 1486-2678 several leaves have been disarranged in the quire.

Given to the College in 1740 by Wm. Bohun of Beccles (Suffolk), to[Pg cxlvii] whose great-grandfather, Baxter Bohun, it was given in 1652 by his ‘grandmother Lany.’

The text is of a rather irregular type, but often agrees with the XGO group. It has many mistakes and the spelling is poor.

Q. Belonged to the late Mr. B. Quaritch, who kindly allowed me to examine it slightly. Parchment, leaves measuring about 14 × 8¾ in., in double column of 49 lines, well written, early fifteenth cent. Ends with the account of the author’s books, ‘Quia vnusquisque.’ Floreated pages at the beginning of books and a good miniature of the Confession on f. 3, of a rather unusual type—the priest seated to the left of the picture and the penitent at a little distance. Latin summaries in text (red). Begins with Prol. 342, having lost two leaves here, and has lost also Prol. 529-688, Prol. 842-i. 85, and perhaps more.

The book formerly belonged to a Marquess of Hastings.

This is a good manuscript, and the spelling is fairly correct. I place it provisionally here, because its readings seem to show a tendency towards the XG group.

(c) Unrevised.

E. Egerton 1991, Brit. Museum. Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (six lines), ‘Quam cinxere,’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque,’ after which ‘Deo Gracias. And þanne ho no more.’ Parchment, ff. 214, 15¼ × 10 in., in quires of 8 with catchwords: regularly written in a very good large hand in double column of 42 lines, early fifteenth cent. Latin summaries in text (red). Floreated pages at beginning of books, and a finely painted miniature of the Confession on f. 7 vo.

Two leaves lost, originally ff. 1 and 3, containing Prol. 1-134 and 454-594. The book has also suffered from damp, and parts of the first and last leaves are so discoloured as to be illegible.

A seventeenth cent. note on f. 1 vo tells us that the book was given on April 5, 1609, ‘at Skarborough Castle’ to the lady Eliz. Dymoke by her aunt the lady Catherine Burghe, daughter of Lord Clynton, who was afterwards earl of Lincoln and Lord High Admiral, to whom it came by her mother, the lady Eliz. Talboys. On f. 2 we find the register of the birth of Master Harry Clinton, son and heir of Lord Clinton, born at Canbery, June 6, 1542. The name Willoughby occurs also in the book (sixteenth cent.), and on a flyleaf inserted at the beginning we find ‘John Brograve, 1682,’ with Latin lines in the form of an acrostic about his family, signed ‘Thomas Tragiscus, Bohemus.’ Bought by the Brit. Mus. August 6, 1865, at Lord Charlemont’s sale.

The text of this fine MS. belongs clearly to the unrevised group. At the same time its original must have had some corrections, and some also appear on the face of this MS. It stands alone of the first recension in[Pg cxlviii] agreement with S, F in a few passages, as v. 5438, vi. 1954, vii. 4318 marg., and with J in ii. 2576, iii. 176, v. 4989 f., 7327, vii. 3484. It has also some connexion with B (BTΛ), standing in this matter either with C (or YC), as iii. 633, v. 3688, 3814, 5667, 6318, or by itself, as Prol. 169, i. 2122, ii. 1353, iv. 3401, v. 3992, 6336, vii. 323, 978, viii. 1761, 2706.

The scribe seems to have had a good ear for metre, and seldom goes wrong in any point of spelling which affects the verse, though apt to omit final e in case of elision. Sometimes, however, he drops words, as ‘swerd,’ i. 433, ‘so,’ v. 122, ‘chaste,’ v. 6277. On the whole the text of E is probably the best of its class.

C. Corpus Christi Coll., Oxf. 67 (Bern. Cat. i. 2. 1534). Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (four lines), ‘Quam cinxere,’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque,’ after which ‘Deo Gracias.’ Parchment, large folio, ff. 209, of which three blank, in quires of 8 with catchwords: written in double column in a good hand of first quarter fifteenth cent. Latin summaries in text (red). Pages with complete borders at beginning of books (except Lib. i), and two very fair miniatures, f. 4 vo Nebuchadnezzar’s Image, f. 9 vo the Confession (priest laying stole on youthful penitent’s head). The book has lost four leaves, the second of the first quire (Prol. 144-301), the last of the 22nd and first of the 23rd (vii. 3137-3416), and the first of the 26th (viii. 1569-1727).

We find on the last leaf in a hand perhaps as early as the fifteenth cent. ‘Liber partinet Thomam Crispe Ciuem et Mercerium Londiniarum,’ and on the flyleaf at the beginning a device containing the same name, and also A. Crispe, F. Crispe, W. Rawson, Anne Rawson. ‘Augusten Crispe me Iure tenet’ is written on the first leaf of the text, and also ‘Liber Willelmi Rawson Ao. Dni 1580.’ Finally, ‘Liber C. C. C. Oxon. 1676.’ The device referred to above appears also in the decoration of the book both at the beginning and the end, but the manuscript must have been written much earlier than the time of Thomas Crispe.

This is a good copy of the unrevised group, having some connexion, as we have seen above, with E, but less good in spelling, especially as regards final e. For special connexion with B, see i. 2234, iv. 359, &c. CL go specially together apparently in some places, as Prol. 937 f., i. 94, 161, 165, 433, 916, but not throughout. There are some corrections by erasure of final e, and a line supplied by a different hand, vi. 1028. No punctuation.

R. Reg. 18. C. xxii, Brit. Museum. Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (six lines), ‘Quam cinxere’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque.’ Parchment, ff. 206, 14¼ × 3¾ in., in eights with catchwords: double column of 44 lines, well written, first quarter fifteenth cent. Latin in text (red). Floreated border of first page with miniature of the Confession in the initial O; also a miniature on f. 4 vo of the Image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (hill with stone to left of picture), and half borders at beginning of books, except Lib. i.

Two blanks cut away at the end, from one of which is set off ‘This[Pg cxlix] boke appertayneth vnto the Right Honorable the Ladie Margaret Strange’ (presumably the same whose name appears in M). The binding has ‘Lady Mary Strainge.’

A very fair MS. of its class and almost absolutely typical, but gives distinctively revised readings in a few passages, as ii. 925, iv. 1342, v. 3145, viii. 1621. Omits vii. 2889-2916 and some of the Latin summaries. The words ‘pope’ and ‘papacie’ are regularly erased, see especially f. 47. Spelling and metre fairly good: no punctuation.

L. Laud 609, Bodleian Library (Bern. Cat. 754). Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (four lines), ‘Quam cinxere’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque.’ Parchment, ff. 170, 16 × 10¾ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords: double column, first of 40 lines, then about 44, and after f. 16 of 51: well written, first quarter fifteenth cent. Latin in the text (red). Floreated border of first page and half borders at the beginning of books, well executed. Two miniatures, on f. 5 vo the Image of the dream, and on f. 10 the Confession, both much like those in C and B₂, but damaged.

After f. 109 one leaf is lost (v. 5550-5739), one after f. 111 (v. 6140-6325), and eight (quire 16) after f. 118 (v. 7676-vi. 1373).

The names Symon and Thomas Elrington (sixteenth cent.) occur in the book, ff. 89, 170, and ‘Liber Guilielmi Laud Archiepiscopi Cantuar. et Cancellarii Vniuersitatis Oxon. 1633’ on f. 1.

In correctness of text and spelling the text is decidedly inferior to the foregoing MSS. We may note apparently good readings in the following passages, Prol. 159, i. 3023, v. 1072, vii. 374, 3040, 3639, viii. 358, 483.

B₂. Bodley 693, Bodleian Library (Bern. Cat. 2875). Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (six lines), ‘Quam cinxere’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque.’ Parchment (gilt edged), ff. 196, 15 × 10 in., in eights with catchwords. Well written, first quarter fifteenth cent., in double column of 46 lines. Latin in text (red). Floreated border of first page and half borders at beginning of books (also on f. 8 vo), well executed: two small miniatures, f. 4 vo the Image of the dream, f. 8 vo (within an initial T) the Confession, like those in C and L, but smaller.

At the end we have ‘ffrauncois Halle Ao MVcVI’ (i.e. 1506), ‘Garde le ffine.’ In the initial on f. 1 a coat of arms is painted surrounded by the Garter and its motto. The arms are those of Charles Brandon duke of Suffolk (Brandon with quartering of Bruyn and Rokeley, see Doyle, Official Baronage, iii. 443), and on the same page is painted the Brandon crest (lion’s head erased, crowned per pale gules and arg., langued az.). These must have been painted in later than the date of the MS. The binding is deeply stamped with the arms of Great Britain and Ireland in colours, and the letters I. R., showing that the book belonged to James I. It was presented to the Bodleian by Dr. John King, who[Pg cl] was Dean of Ch. Ch. 1605-1611. We must suppose that James gave it to Dr. King.

The fineness of the vellum and the general style of the book seems to indicate that it was written for some distinguished person. The text is very typical of its class. In correctness and spelling it is less good than L, oftener dropping final e and having less regard for the metre.

Sn. Arch. Seld. B. II, Bodleian Library (Bern. Cat. 3357). Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (four lines), ‘Quam cinxere’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque.’ Paper (with some leaves of parchment), ff. 169, 14½ × 10¾ in. Quires with varying number of leaves, usually 12 or 16, signatures and catchwords. (No written leaves lost, but blanks cut away in quires nine and ten.) Written in double column of 44-65 lines (no ruling), in a small hand, middle fifteenth cent. Latin in text. Red and blue initials, but no other decoration.

The book has the name ‘Edwarde Smythe’ (sixteenth cent.) as the owner. It came into the Bodleian among John Selden’s books.

The text is a poor one with a good many corruptions, from the first line of the Prologue (‘To hem’ for ‘Of hem’) onwards, many of them absurd, as ‘who thoghte’ for ‘we the while’ (v. 6752), ‘homicides’ for ‘houndes’ (vii. 5256), and some arising from confusion between þ, ȝ, and y. Thus the scribe (who usually has th for þ and y for ȝ) is capable of writing ‘aþen’ or ‘athen’ for ‘aȝein,’ ‘yer of’ for ‘þer of,’ ‘yeff’ for ‘þef,’ ‘biþete’ for ‘biȝete.’ There are many mistakes in the coloured initials, e.g. ii. 2501, iii. 2033, 2439. Some northern forms, as ‘gude,’ iii. 1073, ‘Qwhat,’ iii. 2439. Note agreement with B in some places, as i. 365, 1479, iii. 1222, v. 2417, 6296, and a few more.

D. Camb. Univ. Dd. viii. 19 (Bern. Cat. ii. 9653). Confessio Amantis (imperfect). Parchment, ff. 127, quires of 8 with catchwords: double column of 48 (sometimes 50) lines, regularly written in a hand using very thick strokes. Latin in text (red). Spaces left for miniatures, f. 4 vo, f. 8 vo (the latter marked ‘hic Imago’), and perhaps also f. 1. Many spaces left for illuminated capitals.

After f. 83 follows a quire of six with 5 vo blank (after end of Lib. iv.) and 6 lost: then a quire of eight with 5 and 6 (also part of 4) blank, and 7, 8 lost: then, f. 94, ‘Incipit liber Sextus.’ So that of Lib. v. we have only about four leaves (v. 1444-2149). The leaves numbered 16, 17, 15 should stand last (in that order), and the text ends (on f. 15) with vii. 3683, the line unfinished and the rest of the page blank.

Successive owners in sixteenth cent., Magister Asshe, Thom. Carson (or Cursson), Ambr. Belson, J. Barton. It was one of Bishop Moore’s books (No. 467), and came to the University in 1715.

The text shows no leaning, so far as I know, to the revised group. Perhaps somewhat akin to the MSS. which precede and follow: see Prol. 331 marg., i. 110, 370.

[Pg cli]

Ar. Arundel 45, College of Arms (Bern. Cat. ii. 5547). Confessio Amantis (imperfect). Paper, 168 leaves (numbered 167, but one dropped in numbering after f. 42) + two parchment blank at beginning, 11½ × 8¼ in. Quires of 8 (usually), with catchwords, double column of 46-51 lines, small neat writing, middle fifteenth cent. Latin in text (red): no illumination, but spaces left for initials.

One leaf lost after f. 7 (i. 63-216), two after f. 116 (v. 5229-5594), and all after viii. 1102 (about twelve leaves gone at the end).

Former possessors, ‘Thomas Goodenston, Gerdeler of London,’ and (before him probably) ‘Jhon Barthylmewe, Gerdyllarr and Marchant.’

Hd. At Castle Howard, the property of the Earl of Carlisle, who most kindly sent it for my use. Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (four lines), ‘Quam cinxere’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque.’ Parchment, ff. 111 (numbered as 110) 14 × 11 in., in quires of 8 (usually), marked iiii, v, vi, &c. In double column of 60-74 lines, rather irregularly written in a small, fairly clear hand, later fifteenth cent. Latin in text. Some red and blue initials; no other decoration.

Seventeen leaves lost at the beginning, f. 1 begins at i. 3305, and f. 8 is the first leaf of quire iiii: after f. 73 four leaves lost, containing vi. 264-1306, and in the last quire one, containing viii. 2566-2833. The leaves in the latter half of the book, from f. 66, have been much disarranged in the binding.

The name ‘Tho. Martin’ is written at the beginning, in the handwriting of the well-known Thomas Martin of Palgrave. This of course is not the book mentioned in Bern. Cat. ii. 611 as among the books collected by Lord William Howard at Naworth Castle. There seems to be at present no Gower MS. at Naworth.

Some readings seem to show a connexion of Hd with L, as iii. 1885, 2763, ‘Now herkne and I þe þo,’ iv. 1341, 3086, 3449, 3535, but it is not derived from it. Note also the readings of ii. 1577 ‘Ne,’ 2825 ‘by,’ iii. 1173 ‘Iupartie,’ v. 3306 ‘Oute.’ There are many corruptions in the text as well as some deliberate alterations, as ‘cleped’ regularly to ‘called,’ and words are often dropped or inserted to the injury of the metre.

Ash. Ashmole 35, Bodleian Library (Bern. Cat. 6916). Confessio Amantis (imperfect). Paper, ff. 182, 13½ × 9½ in. Quires of 12 (usually), with catchwords, double column of 42-48 lines, fairly well written: no Latin verses or summaries, but summaries in English written in the text (red), mostly omitted in the last thirty leaves. Some initials in red, spaces left for larger capitals.

Begins with Prol. 170, having lost two leaves (one blank) at the beginning. After f. 2 one leaf is lost (Prol. 541-725), one after f. 4 (i. 1-169), one after f. 32 (ii. 1749-1927), one after f. 91 (v. 2199-2366), three after f. 181 (viii. 2505-2893), one after f. 182, which ends with viii. 3082*. Half of f. 182 is torn away, but the beginning of the[Pg clii] Chaucer verses remain, as well as a whole column of the early form of conclusion, in spite of the statement in the Ashmole Catalogue. Even if the conclusion were really wanting, there would be no difficulty in assigning the MS. to its proper class.

Second Recension.

(a) S. The Stafford MS., now in the possession of the Earl of Ellesmere, by whose kind permission I have been allowed to make use of it. Contains Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (six lines) and ‘Quam cinxere.’ Parchment, ff. 172 (the last three blank), 14 × 9¾ in., quires of 8 with catchwords and signatures (24 in all, the last of five leaves): written in double column of 46 lines in a good square hand of late fourteenth century type. Latin summaries in the margin. The first page has a well-executed border of geometrical pattern and a rather rudely painted miniature of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, in style resembling that of F. This page has also three heraldic shields and a crest, of which more hereafter. Floreated half borders at the beginning of books and illuminated capitals throughout, well executed and with an unusual amount of gold. On f. 56 a well painted grotesque figure of a man with legs and tail of some animal, wearing a pointed headpiece and armed with an axe. This is part of the initial decoration of Lib. iv.

The book has unfortunately lost in all seventeen leaves, as follows: one after f. 1 (Prol. 147-320), one after f. 7 (Prol. 1055-i. 106), three after f. 46 (iii. 573-1112), one after f. 68 (iv. 2351-2530), two after f. 69 (iv. 2711-3078), one after f. 70 (iv. 3262-3442), two after f. 71 (iv. 3627-v. 274), one after f. 107 (v. 6821-7000), one after f. 125 (vi. 2357-vii. 88), two after f. 139 (vii. 2641-3004), two after f. 153 (vii. 5417-viii. 336). In addition to this, one leaf, f. 50 (iii. 1665-1848), is written in a different and probably rather later hand, and seems to have been inserted to supply the place of a leaf lost in quite early times.

The question about the former owners of this fine manuscript is an interesting one. As to the devices on the first page, the first shield (within the initial O) is sable and gules per pale, a swan argent, the second (in the lower margin) sable, three ostrich feathers (argent?) set in three scrolls or, while in the right margin there is a crest of a lion, collared with label of three points, standing on a chapeau, and below is suspended a shield quartered az. and gules, with no device. The crest is evidently meant for that of John of Gaunt, though it is not quite correct, and the three ostrich feathers (properly ermine) were used by him as a recognisance (see Sandford’s Genealogical Hist. p. 249), while the swan is the well-known badge of Henry his son, to be seen suspended from Gower’s own collar of SS on his tomb and in the miniature of the Fairfax MS. It seems probable then that the book was prepared for presentation to a member of the house of Lancaster, probably either John of Gaunt or Henry. If it be the fact that the swan badge was[Pg cliii] not adopted by Henry until 1397, this would not be the actual copy sent on the occasion of the dedication to him in 1392-93. On the other hand the absence of all royal emblems indicates that the book was prepared before Henry’s accession to the throne.

In the sixteenth cent. (Queen Elizabeth’s reign) the book belonged to one William Downes, whose name is written more than once on f. 170. The ornamental letters W. D. on f. 21 are probably his initials, and on f. 76 we have Phillipp Downes in a fifteenth-cent. hand. On f. 171 vo there is a note about ‘the parsonages of Gwend ... and Stythians in the county of Cornewell, percell of the possessions of the late monastary of Rewley,’ and also about the ‘personage of Croppreadin in the county of Oxforde,’ granted for xxi years by Edward VI and paying lvi pounds a year. ‘T. P. Goodwyn’ is another name (seventeenth cent.). When Todd saw the MS. at the beginning of this century, it belonged to the Marquess of Stafford.

S has the Lancaster dedication and the rewritten epilogue, and with these the three additional passages, v. 6395*-6438*, 7086*-7210*, vii. 3207*-3360*, omitting v. 7701-7746, and transposing vi. 665-964. In correctness it is inferior only to F, and these two stand far above all others as primary authorities. Their independence of one another is certain, and the general agreement of their text gives it the highest guarantee of authenticity. The spelling is practically the same, as will be seen in those passages which are printed from S in this edition, e.g. vii. 3207*-3360*, indeed in most places the two texts are absolutely the same, letter for letter. As regards f. 50, which is in a different hand, it should be noted not only that it is far less correct than the rest, but also that it is copied from a different original, a MS. of the unrevised first recension, distinctive readings of which are given in iii. 1686, 1763, 1800, 1806, while no trace of such readings appears in any other part of S.

Δ. Sidney Sussex Coll., Camb. Δ. 4. 1 (Bern. Cat. i. 3. 726). Contains Confessio Amantis, with ‘Explicit’ (six lines) and ‘Quam cinxere,’ (ff. 2-202 vo), and then an English version of Cato’s Disticha. Paper, ff. 211 (of which four blank), 11½ × 8½ in., in quires of 12 with catchwords and signatures. Written in double column of 41-48 lines in a fairly good hand, middle fifteenth century, with a good many contractions. Latin summaries usually in text, sometimes in margin. No decoration. The first leaf is lost, containing Prol. 1-140.

The book was left to the College by Samuel Ward, Master, 1643. One of the blank leaves has the word ‘temsdytton’ (i.e. Thames Dytton) in an early hand.

In regard to form of text this MS. agrees throughout with S, and it must no doubt have had the Lancaster preface. It is remarkable as containing the additional lines printed by Caxton at the end of the Prologue (which may have been also in S), and it has eleven Latin hexameters substituted for the prose summaries at Prol. 591 and 617, beginning,

‘Dormitans statuam sublimem rex babilonis,’

[Pg cliv]

and again four after the Latin prose at vii. 2891, beginning,

‘Sede sedens ista iudex inflexibilis sta.’

The text has many corruptions and the spelling is not very good. Δ does not give the first recension readings on f. 50 of S, which of itself is sufficient proof that it is not derived from that manuscript, for the insertion of this leaf must be much earlier than the date of Δ.

(b) Ad. Additional 12043, British Museum. Confessio Amantis, imperfect at beginning and end. Parchment, ff. 156 (the last blank), 13 × 9¼ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords: well written in double column of 45-50 lines, beginning of fifteenth century. Latin summaries in the margin up to f. 16 (ii. 382), after which they are omitted. Floreated pages in good style at the beginning of each book.

More than twenty leaves are lost, viz. ten at the beginning, up to and including i. 786, one after f. 45 (iv. 1-190), two after f. 47 (iv. 559-932), two after f. 86 (v. 4605-4983), one after f. 131 (vii. 3071-3269*), one after f. 151 (viii. 1440-1632), and five or more at the end, after viii. 2403. There is also omitted without loss of leaf iii. 1665-1848, no doubt owing to loss of leaf in the copy: see below.

‘Elizabeth Vernon’ (fifteenth century?) on blank leaf at the end. The book belonged in the present century to Bp. Butler of Lichfield.

This MS. heads the group AdBTΛ, being nearer to the fully revised type than any of the rest, and showing only very occasional traces of the earlier readings (but iii. 254, 941, v. 6418, vii. 3298, viii. 856, 1076, &c.). It agrees with the rest, as against SΔ, in giving v. 7015*-7034*, vii. 2329*-2340*, and 3149*-3180*, but does not seem fully to join the group until the latter part of the fifth book. In connexion with this we may note the curious fact that the omitted passage, iii. 1665-1848, is precisely that contained in f. 50 of S, which apparently was supplied in place of a lost leaf. In correctness and spelling the MS. is very fair, but not good in regard to final e. Punctuation often where there is a pause in the line.

T. Trin. Coll., Camb. R. iii. 2 (Bern. Cat. i. 3. 335). Contains, ff. 1-147, Confessio Amantis, imperfect at the beginning, with ‘Explicit’ (six lines) and ‘Quam cinxere,’ ff. 148-152 vo the French Traitié, with the Latin pieces ‘Quis sit vel qualis,’ ‘Est amor in glosa,’ and ‘Lex docet,’ f. 152 ‘Quia vnusquisque,’ f. 152 vo-154 vo the Latin Carmen super multiplici viciorum pestilencia, ending with the ten lines ‘Hoc ego bis deno.’ Parchment, ff. 154, 14¾ × 10 in., quires of 8 with catchwords, double column of 46 lines. Latin summaries in margin, but in some parts omitted. Well written in several hands, early fifteenth century, of which the first wrote ff. 1-8, 50-57, 74-81, 84 vo-89, 98-113 ro, the second ff. 9-32, the third ff. 33-49, 58-65, 82, 83, 84 ro, 90-97, the fourth ff. 66-73, 113-154. No decoration except coloured or gilt capitals.

The book has lost five whole quires at the beginning, and begins at[Pg clv] present with ii. 2687. Also the second col. of f. 84 ro is left blank with omission of v. 7499-7544. A large part of f. 33 is blank, but there is no omission.

Presented to the College by Thomas Nevile, Master.

A good MS., with form of text in v, vi, vii, like that of AdB, and obviously having a special connexion in its readings with B. T, however, is of a more fully corrected type than B, and it must remain doubtful whether the preface of the poem in T was of the earlier or the later form. In any case the original of the two, if (as it seems) they had a common original, was not made up earlier than 1397, for the resemblance of the manuscripts extends to the French and Latin poems which follow the Conf. Amantis, and the last of these is dated the 20th year of king Richard.

The third and fourth hands are neater and better than the other two. The first is rather less correct and less good in spelling than the others, and also it omits the Latin marginal notes. The parts written in this hand are ii. 2687-iii. 608, v. 1415-2874, 5805-7082, v. 7545-vi. 1040, vi. 2201-vii. 2532.

With regard to the connexions within the group AdBTΛ, attention may be drawn especially to v. 659, where Ad has the usual reading, T omits the line, leaving a blank, while B and Λ have bad lines made up for the occasion, to v. 4020, where Ad again has the usual text, TΛ omit, and B has a made-up line, and to v. 7303, where AdBT omit two lines necessary to the sense which Λ inserts. We may note the alteration by erasure in T of v. 5936, apparently from the reading of the unrevised text.

B. Bodley 294, Bodleian Library (Bern. Cat. 2449). Contents, as in T, ff. 1-197 Conf. Amantis, &c., ff. 197-199 vo Traitié, f. 199 vo ‘Quia vnusquisque,’ ff. 199 vo-201 Carmen super multiplici, &c., ending with the lines ‘Hoc ego bis deno.’ Parchment, ff. 201, 15½ × 10¾ in., quires of 8 with catchwords. Well written in double column of 42-47 lines, first quarter of fifteenth cent. Latin summaries in text (red): ‘Confessor,’ ‘Amans,’ usually omitted. Complete border of first page and at the beginning of each book except i and ii, painted in good style. Two miniatures, f. 4 vo Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (the king in bed crowned), f. 9 the Confession, nearly as in E. No leaves lost.

The name ‘Edwarde Fletewoode’ appears on f. 1, and the book was probably given by him to the University in 1601.

Form of text in v, vi, vii the same as AdT. We have in this MS. a combination of the early preface with the rewritten conclusion, a form which we might reasonably expect to find, and which may have been that of T, as it certainly was of the MS. used by Berthelette. Something has already been said of the text of this MS., and for the rest sufficient information will be found in the critical apparatus. The spelling of B is exemplified in the passages printed from it, Prol. 24*-92*, v. 7015*-7036*, vii. 2329*-2340*, 3149*-3180*. As in the case of E, the copyist is careful of metre, and while omitting final e freely before a vowel, rarely does so where it affects the metre, and seldom adds -e unduly. There is hardly any punctuation.

[Pg clvi]

Λ. Wollaton Hall, in the possession of Lord Middleton, who kindly allowed me to examine it. Contents as B. Parchment, ff. 197, 15¼ × 10½ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords and signatures. Well and regularly written in double column of 46 lines, early fifteenth century. Latin summaries in text (red) as a rule, sometimes in margin. Spaces left for miniatures at the beginning, and for initials throughout, not painted. No leaves lost.

The text of this MS. is in many ways interesting. It has Lancaster dedication, but in text it often seems to belong to the unrevised first recension; for though many of the errors of this group are found to be corrected in Λ, even in cases where B retains them, as Prol. 7, 219, Lat. Verses after 584, 812, 844, 937 f., i. 8, 54, 264, 278, &c., ii. 671, 833, &c., and though there are also many of the revised readings, as i. 368, ii. 1758 ff. (in both of which B is unrevised), iv. 517, 766, 985 f., 2954, 3153, v. 30, 47 f., 82, 2694 f., 3110, &c., yet in many other places the original readings stand in Λ, as i. 3374 ff., iv. 2407, 2556, v. 274, 316, 394, 1893, 1906 f., &c., where BT are revised. The characteristic second recension readings are almost regularly given by Λ, which agrees with AdBT against SΔ in regard to the passages inserted; but there are some important differences between this MS. and all others of its class, viz. (1) after v. 6430* it has a combination of first and second recensions. (2) v. 7701-7746 is inserted as in the first and third recensions. (3) viii. 2941-2959 is inserted as in the first recension (with the curious corruption ‘Cuther’ for ‘Chaucer’), the rewritten epilogue being carried on from the line ‘Enclosed in a sterred skye.’

It will be observed that BTΛ often form a distinct group, as (to take only a few examples) iv. 1567, 1996, 2034, 3132, 3138, v. 654 ff., 4138, &c. We may note, however, v. 7303 f. which are inserted by Λ, though omitted in AdBT, and the reading ‘she’ in iv. 2973.

P₂. Phillipps 8192, at Thirlestaine House, Cheltenham. Same contents as BTΛ. Parchment, ff. 193, large fol. Well written in double col. of 46 lines, early fifteenth cent. Latin summaries in margin. Illumination on the first page and at the beginning of books, except i. and iii. On the first page a miniature of Nebuchadnezzar’s Image, with a small figure in the border, and also a figure painted in the initial O. Two leaves missing and supplied in blank after f. 1 (Prol. 154-509), and one later (vii. 3199-3382). On f. 1 vo ‘Joh: Finch Comitis Winchilsea filius 1700.’

A fine MS. of an early type. It has the Lancaster dedication in the Prologue and the later form of epilogue, and as regards the additional passages it agrees with AdBTΛ. In text P₂ is closely related to Λ, but it does not include v. 7701-7746 or viii. 2941-2960, nor does it agree with Λ in v. 6431* ff. As instances of their agreement we may cite Prol. 14, ‘It dwelleth oft in,’ 115, ‘vneuened,’ 127, ‘ben nought diuided,’ &c. In the marginal note of Prol. 22 P₂ has ‘sextodecimo,’ but the first three letters are over an erasure.

[Pg clvii]

Third Recension.

F. Fairfax 3, Bodleian Library (Bern. Cat. 3883). Contains, ff. 2-186, Confessio Amantis, with ‘Explicit’ and ‘Quam cinxere,’ ff. 186 vo-190 vo Traitié, &c., ff. 190 vo-194 Carmen de multiplici viciorum pestilencia, ending with the lines ‘Hoc ego bis deno,’ &c., f. 194 ‘Quia vnusquisque,’ f. 194 vo sixteen Latin lines by ‘a certain philosopher’ in praise of the author, beginning ‘Eneidos Bucolis que Georgica,’ f. 195 a leaf of a Latin moral treatise from the old binding. Parchment, ff. 195 (including one blank flyleaf at the beginning and one of another book at the end), 13½ × 9¼ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords; the first quire begins at f. 2, the twenty-fourth quire has six leaves and the twenty-fifth (last) three. The leaves of the seventh quire are disarranged and should be read in the following order, 50, 52, 53, 51, 56, 54, 55, 57. The Confessio Amantis is written in double column of 46 lines, in a very good hand of the end of the fourteenth cent. Latin summaries in the margin. Half borders, some with animal figures, at the beginning of each book, and two miniatures, one at the beginning, rather large, of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and the other on f. 8 of the Confession, in which the priest is dressed in green and has a wreath of roses on his head, while the penitent, whose features are damaged, wears a hood and a collar of SS with a badge, probably a swan, dependent from it. This was no doubt intended as a portrait of the author: the collar and badge have somewhat the appearance of having been added after the original painting was made. The size of the illuminated capitals indicates precisely the nature of the various divisions of the work.

On f. 2 is written ‘The Ladie Isabell Fairfax daughter and hare of Thwats hir bouk,’ on f. 8 ‘This boke belongeth to my lady farfax off Steton,’ and on f. 1 ‘Sr Thomas fayrfax of Denton Knighte true owner of this booke, 1588.’ This Lady Isabell Fairfax was the granddaughter and heiress of John Thwaites of Denton, who died in 1511, and was married to Sir William Fairfax of Steeton. Sir Thomas Fairfax of Denton, whose name appears in the book, was her grandson. The book no doubt came from the Thwaites family, and we are thus able to trace it back as far as John Thwaites of Denton, who died in old age not much more than a hundred years after the death of the author. It was bequeathed with other MSS. to the University of Oxford by Sir Thomas Fairfax the parliamentary general, grandson of the above Sir Thomas Fairfax of Denton, and was placed in the Bodleian Library in 1675.

The first leaf of the text, up to Prol. 146, is written in a second hand which has also written ff. 186-194, including the last lines of the Conf. Amantis from viii. 3147. A third hand (with very different orthography) has written viii. [Pg clviii]2938-3146, being the last 29 lines of f. 41 vo (over an erasure) and the whole of f. 185, which is a leaf inserted in the place of one cut away (the last of quire 23). At viii. 2938 there is visible a note, ‘now haue, etc.,’ for the guidance of the scribe after the erasure had been made. From the fact that two hands have been employed in the transformation of the MS. at the beginning and end it seems probable that the changes were made at two separate times (as we also know by the dates that the rewritten epilogue preceded the rewritten preface), and that what I have called the third hand was really the second in order of time, being employed to substitute the later epilogue for the former, while the other hand, doing its work probably after the accession of Henry IV, replaced the first leaf by one containing the Lancaster dedication, which had been in existence since 1392-3, but perhaps only in private circulation, and added also the Traitié and the Latin poems, with the account of the author’s books, ‘Quia vnusquisque,’ in its revised form. I say after the accession of Henry IV, because the reference in the third recension account of the books to Richard’s fall, ‘ab alto corruens in foueam quam fecit finaliter proiectus est,’ seems to require as late a date as this. It should be noted that this hand is the same as that which has made somewhat similar additions to the All Souls and Glasgow MSS. of the Vox Clamantis. Other examples of alteration of first recension readings by erasure in F are Prol. 331 marg., 336, i. 2713 f., iv. 1321 f., 1361 f., Lat. Verses after vii. 1640, Lat. Verses after vii. 1984.

As this edition prints the text of the Fairfax MS. and its relations have already been discussed, little more need be said here except as to the manner in which the text is dealt with in the printing. It should be noted then that i and j, u and v are used in accordance with modern practice, that no distinction is made between the two forms of s, that th is used for þ, and y for ȝ in ȝe, ȝit, ȝiue, aȝein, beȝete, &c. (this last rather against my judgement, for no good MS. has it). It should be observed also that the Fairfax scribe frequently uses v for u at the end of a word, as ‘nov,’ ‘hov’ (often ‘hou’), ‘þov’ (usually ‘þou’), ‘ȝov’ (also ‘ȝou’), ‘auov,’ ‘windov,’ ‘blev,’ ‘knev,’ &c., and sometimes in other positions, either for the sake of distinction from n or merely for ornament, as ‘comvne,’ ‘retenve,’ ‘rvnne,’ ‘þvrgh,’ ‘havk,’ ‘fovl,’ ‘hovndes,’ ‘movþ,’ ‘rovnede,’ ‘slovh,’ ‘trovþe,’ ‘ynovh,’ &c., beside ‘comune,’ ‘runne,’ ‘þurgh,’ ‘hauk,’ ‘foul,’ &c. In all these cases v is given in the text as u. The termination ‘-o̅n̅’ is regularly printed as ‘-oun.’ French words with this ending appear in F with -o̅u̅ or -o̅n̅, usually the latter (but ‘resoun’ in full, Prol. 151), and sometimes we have ‘to̅n̅’ for ‘toun,’ as vii. 5313, viii. 2523. So also ‘sto̅n̅de: wounde,’ i. 1425 f., ‘gro̅n̅de’ for ‘grounde,’ i. 2051, ‘expo̅n̅de: founde,’ i. 2867 f., ‘bra̅n̅che: staunche,’ i. 2837 f., ‘cha̅n̅ce,’ i. 3203, ‘gra̅n̅teþ,’ ii. 1463, ‘suppla̅n̅te,’ ii. 2369, ‘skla̅n̅dre,’ v. 5536 (‘sclaundre,’ v. 712), ‘coma̅n̅de: launde,’ vii. 2159.

The contraction ꝑ as a separate word is in this edition almost regularly given as ‘per.’ It is hardly ever written fully in F, but we have ‘Per aunter,’ v. 3351, ‘Per chaunce,’ v. 7816, and J regularly gives ‘per chance,’ ‘per cas,’ &c., without contraction. Other MSS., as A and B, incline rather to ‘par.’ F has ‘perceive,’ ‘aperceive,’ but ‘parfit.’

With regard to the use of capitals, this edition in the main follows the MS. Some letters, however, as k, v, w, y, can hardly be said to have any difference of form, and others are used rather rarely as capitals, while in the case of some, and especially s, the capital form is used with excessive[Pg clix] freedom. It has seemed desirable therefore to introduce a greater degree of consistency, while preserving the general usage of the MS. Proper names are regularly given in this edition with capitals (usually so in the MS., but not always), and sentences are begun with capital letters after a full stop. On the other hand the I (or J), which is often used as an initial, has frequently been suppressed, and occasionally this has been done in the case of other letters. It may be observed, however, that capital letters are on the whole used very systematically in the MS., and other good MSS., especially S, agree with F in the main principles. Certain substantives as ‘Ere,’ ‘Erthe,’ ‘Schip,’ ‘Sone,’ ‘Ston,’ are almost invariably used with capitals, and names of animals, as ‘Cat,’ ‘Hare,’ ‘Hound,’ ‘Leoun,’ ‘Mous,’ ‘Oxe,’ ‘Pie,’ ‘Ro,’ ‘Schep,’ ‘Tigre,’ of some parts of the body, as ‘Arm,’ ‘Hiele,’ ‘Lippes,’ ‘Nase,’ ‘Pappes,’ ‘Skulle,’ and many other concrete substantives, are apt to be written with capitals, sometimes apparently in order to give them more importance. Capitals are seldom thus used except in the case of substantives and some numerals, as ‘Nyne,’ ‘Seconde,’ ‘Sexte,’ ‘Tenthe,’ and in many cases it is pretty evident that a distinction is intended, e.g. between ‘Sone’ and ‘sone’ (adv.), ‘Se’ (= sea) and ‘se’ (verb), ‘Dore’ and ‘dore’ (verb), see iv. 2825 f., ‘More’ and ‘more,’ ‘Pype’ and ‘pipe’ (verb), iv. 3342 f., ‘Myn’ and ‘myn’ (poss. pron.), ‘Mone’ and ‘mone’ (verb), but see v. 5804, 5808, ‘In’ and ‘in,’ vii. 4921 f., viii. 1169 f., 1285 f. That some importance was attached to the matter is shown by the cases where careful alterations of small letters into capitals have been made in the MS., as Prol. 949, i. 1687, v. 1435, 3206, 4019, vii. 2785, &c.

Many corrections were made by the first hand, and some of these are noteworthy, especially the cases where a final e seems to be deliberately erased for the sake of the metre or before a vowel, as i. 60 ‘get’ for ‘gete,’ iii. 2346 ‘trew’ for ‘trewe,’ vi. 1359 ‘I red’ for ‘I rede,’ vii. 1706 ‘ffyf’ for ‘ffyue,’ or where an e has been added afterwards, as ii. 3399 ‘deþe,’ iii. 449 ‘bowe,’ v. 1269, 3726, 5265, ‘whiche.’

It remains only to speak of the punctuation of the MS., which is evidently carried out carefully. The frequent stops at the ends of lines are for the most part meaningless, but those elsewhere are of importance and usually may be taken as a guide to the sense. They are sometimes certainly wrong (e.g. i. 1102 Togedre· 1284 will· 2965 fro· ii. 1104 wille· 1397 name· 2354 astat· iii. 2638 be· iv. 497 grace· 1751 besinesse· 1985 hardi· 2502 alle· 3354 Slep· 3635 lif· v. 4 good· 231 herte· 444 wynd· 1342 See· 1630 only· 2318 bord· &c.), but the proportion of error is small, and the punctuation of F generally must be treated with respect. There is usually a stop wherever a marked pause comes in the line, and this punctuation occurs on an average about once in ten lines. The following record of the punctuation of iv. 1301-1600 will serve as an illustration of its nature and extent: 1303 loue· 1307 ladis· 1316 cloþed· 1369 seide· 1374 seiþ· 1376 loue· 1388 slow· 1409 wepe· 1412 Dame· 1415 loue· 1439 hirself· 1457 is· 1459 peine· 1461 haltres· 1466 told· 1470 paramours· 1471 lawe· 1474 ianglinge· 1489 take· 1490 loue· 1491 herte· 1492 mariage· 1496 children· 1497 mai· 1499 tarie· 1501 let· 1512 god· seide· 1532 oþre· 1534 ferste· 1535 dovhter· 1536 cloþes· 1547 Tohewe· 1560 seiþ· 1561 point· 1566 maidenhod· 1567 had· 1591 come· 1592 deþ·

[Pg clx]

H₂. Harleian 3869, Brit. Museum. Contains the same as F, with some religious poems in a different hand on blanks at the beginning and end. Paper, except outer leaves of each quire, ff. 368 (including four leaves at the beginning and two at the end with religious poems as above mentioned), 11¼ × 7½ in., in quires of 16 (usually), with signatures, first quire beginning f. 5 and having 14 leaves. Written in single column of 38-50 lines, rather irregularly. Latin summaries in margin (red). On f. 5 at the beginning of the Confessio Amantis a large picture of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, like that in F, on f. 8 an ill-painted picture of the Confession.

On f. 1 we find written ‘London ye 28 Jany. 1628, George Cogiluy,’ and on f. 2 ‘Jan. 22. 1721 Oxford’ (i.e. Harley). On the same page is the date, ‘1445 ye 23 of May.’

This MS. appears to be copied directly from F, and gives an excellent text, reproducing that of the Fairfax MS. with considerable accuracy, and for the most part copying also its mistakes and peculiarities, as Prol. 80 officie, 249 wich, 419 com, 588 sende, 592 befalle, 668 marg. diminuntur, 723 chiualrie, 1078 waxed, i. 120 wisshide, 160 scheo, 227 beleft, 234 sone sone, 335 whilon, 1626 vnsemylieste, 2511 Embroudred, ii. 352 Ennvie, Lat. after 382 infamen, 710 hiere, 949 þong, 1169 no, 1441 keste, 1539 om. the, and so on. Some obvious mistakes are corrected, however, as Prol. 370, i. 1257, 2105, 3357, ii. 117.

N. New College, Oxf. 266 (Bern. Cat. i. 2. 1230). Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (six lines) and ‘Quam cinxere.’ Parchment, ff. 183 (originally 187), 13¼ × 9 in., quires of 8 (one of 10 and the last 9) with catchwords. Well written in double column of 46 lines usually, sometimes more, first quarter fifteenth cent. Latin summaries in margin. Many floreated pages (half borders) and illuminated capitals, well executed. Also a large number of miniatures, of which some have been cut out and others much damaged.

The first two leaves are damaged, and four leaves have been cut out, viz. the original f. 7 (Prol. 1066-i. 106), f. 35 (ii. 1521-1704), f. 74 (iv. 2229-2397) and f. 113 (v. 5505-5662), also the outer half of f. 171 (viii. 271-318) and several miniatures with text at the back.

The name of John Cutt of Schenley, Hertfordshire, appears in the book (late fifteenth cent.), and on the first leaf ‘Thomæ Martin Liber,’ perhaps the Thomas Martin who was Fellow of New College 1538-1553, and died in 1584. The binding of old black leather has stamped upon it the letters W. D., with a double-headed eagle crowned.

This book seems to be derived from F, though perhaps not immediately. The orthography is like that of F, but differs in some points, as ‘shal,’ ‘she,’ &c., for ‘schal,’ ‘sche,’ ‘noht’ for ‘noght,’ besides being very uncertain about final e, often to the destruction of the metre. As examples of particular correspondence with F we may note Prol. 370 argumeten, 588 send, 592 befalle, 723 chiualrie, 957 mistormeth, i. 120 wisshide, 227 beleft, 234[Pg clxi] sone sone, 1036 be shrewed, 3357 seled, ii. 318 ff. fela, felaw, felawh (varying as F), after 382 infamen, &c., but sometimes F is corrected in small matters, as Prol. 201 erthly, 249 which, 280 pacience, i. 110 to fare, &c.

The feature of the book is the series of miniatures, illustrating it throughout. In this respect it is unique, so far as I know; though other copies similarly illustrated must once have existed. The following is a complete list of the subjects (leaves cited by original number): f. 15 (i. 1417) Florent and the old woman, f. 18 (i. 2021) man blowing trumpet, lord, wife, and five children looking out of a castle, f. 23 (i. 2785) cut out, f. 34 (i. 3067) cut out and sewn in, much damaged, f. 30 (ii. 587) cut out, f. 44 (ii. 3187) mothers bringing babies to Constantine, f. 56 (iii. 1885) Clytemnestra torn by horses, two crowned persons conversing in the foreground, f. 59 (iii. 2363) Pirate brought before Alexander, f. 61 (iv. 1) Dido killing herself, Eneas riding away, f. 68 (iv. 1245) lady with halters and red bridle questioned by Rosiphelee, f. 71 (iv. 1815) cut out, f. 72 (iv. 2045) fight between Hercules and Achelous, f. 77 (iv. 2927) Alceone in bed dreaming, body of king in the water, f. 83 (v. 141) Midas at table, f. 93 (v. 2031) Crassus having gold poured down his throat, f. 94 (v. 2273) king opening coffers, f. 95 (v. 2391) cut out, f. 96 (v. 2643) cut out, f. 98 (v. 2961) almost defaced, f. 100 (v. 3247) cut out, f. 109 (v. 4937) Bardus pulling Adrian out of the pit, f. 111 (v. 5231) Ariadne left sleeping, ship sailing away, f. 117 (v. 6225) a procession of naked nymphs to bathe, f. 120 (v. 6807) cut out, f. 133 (vi. 1391) Telegonus supporting his father’s head, guards lying dead, f. 136 (vi. 1789) cut out, f. 150 (vii. 1783) cut out, f. 158 (vii. 3417) cut out, f. 159 (vii. 3627) Gideon and his men blowing trumpets, &c., enemy asleep in a tent, f. 165 (vii. 4593) cut out, f. 171 (viii. 271 ff.) half the page cut away, with probably three miniatures, for only 52 lines are gone, whereas there was space for 92.

K. Keswick Hall, near Norwich, in the possession of J. H. Gurney, Esq., who most kindly sent it to Oxford for my use. Contains the same as F, but is slightly imperfect at the end. Parchment, ff. 189, 13 × 9¾ in., quires of 8 with catchwords. Well written in double column of 46 lines (corresponding column for column with F throughout), apparently in six different hands, of which the first wrote quires 1, 2, 6, 8-11, 21, the second 3 and perhaps 7, the third 4, 5, 16, 17, the fourth 12-15, 19, the fifth 18, and the sixth 20, 22-24. Latin summaries in the margin (sometimes omitted). Three leaves are lost in the seventh quire (iii. 1087-1632), and one at the end, containing the last thirteen lines of the Latin Carmen de multiplici, &c., with probably the account of the books and the piece ‘Eneidos, Bucolis.’ A floreated initial to each book, and space left for miniatures on ff. 1 and 7. Old stamped leather binding.

Former possessors, Thomas Stone ‘of Bromsberrowe in the County of Glouc.’, Henry Harman, William Mallowes (Q. Elizabeth’s reign?), John Feynton.

The various hands differ very much from one another in correctness. The first and the fourth give a text so closely corresponding to that of F, that it is almost impossible not to believe that it is copied from it. In the case of[Pg clxii] some of the other hands this exact correspondence in details of spelling and punctuation disappears, and a much less correct text is given, but this seems chiefly due to carelessness (the third hand, for example, is evidently inaccurate and much neglects the metre). At the same time it must be noted that K has the marginal note at the beginning of the Prologue, which is wanting in F, ‘Hic in principio,’ &c., and there are some readings which seem to be derived from another source, as iii. 778, 906, 921, 1732, 1832 (all in the seventh quire), where there is agreement with AM. On the whole the question of the dependence of K upon F must be left doubtful.

We can trace to this MS. a good many of the mistakes which appear in H₃ and the Magdalen MS., and found their way sometimes thus into printed editions, e.g. Prol. 160 bothe, 260 to make manhode, i. 3170 om. his, ii. 78 fader, 101 hem wolde, 103 all hys cause, 126 he, 135 pore, 138 wich, 162 In (originally The). The cause of the great increase of error about the beginning of the second book is the appearance on the scene of the careless third hand, which on f. 40 (for example) in its last ten lines has at least twenty variations in spelling, &c., from the text of F, while the first hand resuming has not a single one in its first eighteen lines. Indeed, whole columns may be found in the parts copied by the first or the fourth hand which do not differ from F in the smallest particular, either of spelling or punctuation.

H₃. Harleian 7184, Brit. Museum. Confessio Amantis, imperfect. Parchment, ff. 134, 21½ × 14½ in., in quires of 12 with catchwords: regularly written in double column of 49 lines, in a large pointed hand of the middle fifteenth cent. Latin summaries in the text (red). Large capitals finely illuminated and pages bordered at the beginning of the books (the first page especially is richly decorated, but has suffered damage), also illuminated titles, ‘Liber Primus,’ &c., at the head of each page.

The book has lost more than fifty leaves, viz. one leaf after each of the following, f. 25 (i. 3322-ii. 46), f. 55 (iii. 1908-2103), f. 61 (iv. 400-576), f. 78 (iv. 3701-v. 161), f. 110 (v. 6183-6360), and f. 118 (vi. Latin Verses i. 4-182), twelve leaves after f. 126 (vi. 1571-vii. 1405), four after f. 131 (vii. 2354-3088), and thirty or more after f. 134, from vii. 3594 to the end of the book.

On the first page ‘Oxford B. H.’

This is a very large and magnificent volume, written on fine parchment, doubtless for some distinguished person. The text, however, is late and not very good. It is almost certain that it is derived ultimately from the Keswick MS. The evidence of this is as follows: (1) Mistakes made in that MS. are nearly regularly reproduced in H₃. Some instances have been referred to in the account of K: we may add here that where K omits the Latin summaries in a part of the seventh book, e.g. vii. 1641-1884, 1917-2765, H₃ does the same, and where variants apparently from the AM group appear in K, as iii. 778, 906, 921, 1732, they are found also in H₃. (2) The inequality which is to be observed in the text of H₃, some parts being much less correct than others, corresponds in the main with the difference of hands in K. Thus we find that a great crop of error springs up in H₃ from the[Pg clxiii] point where the third hand of K begins, the preceding portion of the text being very fairly correct, and so to some extent elsewhere. For example, in v. 917-1017 (a part written in K by the first hand) there are about eight metrical faults in a hundred lines, while in vi. 183-283 (written in K by the third hand), there are at least twenty-five. (3) In a certain part of the third book H₃ suddenly ceases to follow the third recension text, and almost regularly gives the readings of the ERCLB₂ group. This appears first in iii. 1088 and ceases to be the case after iii. 1686, thus remarkably corresponding with the gap caused in K by the loss of three leaves after iii. 1086. It is difficult not to believe that this very marked change was caused by the following of another MS. in a place where K was defective.

The spelling of H₃ is rather late: there is no use of þ, and y is used for ȝ in ‘ye,’ ‘yiue,’ &c.

Magd. Magdalen College, Oxf. 213 (Bern. Cat. i. 2. 2354). Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (six lines) and Table of Contents in English (on two fly-leaves at the beginning and one at the end). Parchment, ff. 180 + 3 (as above), 18¾ × 13¼ in., in quires of 8 with catchwords: written in double column of 48 lines in a large hand of the middle fifteenth cent, something like that of H₃. Table of contents and columns 2, 3, 4 of f. 2 in a different hand. Latin summaries in text (red). Fine coloured letters with floreated half borders at the beginning of each book, and some neat drawing in connexion with the scrolls of the catchwords.

The book has lost one leaf after f. 22 (ii. 409-586) and eight after f. 88 (v. 701-2163). On f. 155 vo the MS. omits vii. 2519-2695 without loss of leaf or blank.

Presented to the College by Marchadin Hunnis in 1620. A note by the present Librarian states that he was elected a demy of the College in 1606, appointed second master of the College Grammar School in 1610, and dismissed from that office as ‘insufficiens’ in Dec. 1611. The book is reported missing in Coxe’s catalogue.

This MS. is in many points like H₃ in its text, and must certainly have the same origin, both being perhaps derived from a MS. dependent on K. It reproduces most of the corruptions which we find in H₃, adding many others of its own, and it has the same readings in the third book which we have already noted in H₃.

A point of interest about this MS. is its apparent connexion with Caxton’s edition. It seems evident that among the MSS. from which Caxton worked (and he had three at least) was either this very copy or one so like it as to be practically undistinguishable. Of this we shall say more when we speak of Caxton’s edition.

W. Wadham Coll., Oxf. 13. Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (six lines) and ‘Quam cinxere,’ then the Traitié, slightly imperfect at the end, ending ‘un amie soulain,’ xvii. 9. Paper, ff. 450, including two original blanks at the beginning, 11½ × 8¼ in., in quires of 8 with[Pg clxiv] catchwords: written in column of 30-48 lines (without ruling) in two hands, of which the first wrote up to iv. 2132, and the other from thence to the end. Latin summaries in margin, but sometimes omitted or cut short. Some decoration of the first page of the text in black and red; capitals, titles, &c. in red.

Three leaves are lost in the Conf. Amantis, containing Prol. 728-794, iv. 2386-2473, and v. 1-78, and several also at the end of the volume. There is great confusion in the text of the Prologue, which goes as follows: 1-92, 499-860 (with loss as above), 93-144, 861-1044, 145-498, and then 1045 ff. This is not produced by any disarrangement of leaves in the present MS., but a considerable dislocation of quires has taken place in a later part of the volume, seven quires of the fourth and fifth books having been taken out of their proper place and bound up between vi. 2132 and 2133.

This book was evidently written for one John Dedwood, since his name and device, a piece of the trunk of a dead tree, occur as part of the decorations of the first page. The two blanks at the beginning are written over with a list of Mayors and Sheriffs for a series of years, and these prove to be those of the city of Chester from the year 1469-1499 (see Ormerod’s Hist. of Cheshire, i. 211 f.). The name of John Dedwood occurs among these as Sheriff in the year 1481 and as Mayor in 1483 (but the record in the MS. is here damaged). He had also been Mayor in 1468. We may therefore suppose that the MS. dates from about 1470. The name Troutbecke occurs several times (with other names) in the book, and later (1765) it belonged to Rich. Warner of Woodford Row, Essex.

The first hand of this MS. is cramped and ugly, varying a good deal in size, the second is neat and uniform. The text is late and full of mistakes, and the spelling bad, even such forms as ‘loves,’ ‘beres,’ ‘gos’ being quite common for ‘loveth,’ &c., and often -et or -ut as a participle termination, ‘despeyret,’ ‘resignet,’ ‘weddut,’ ‘cleput,’ &c. A certain interest attaches to the MS. however from the fact that it seems to be clearly independent of F as well as of the KH₃ group. While agreeing with F completely in form of text, and supporting it also as a rule against the mistakes of KH₃, it has a considerable number of readings which belong to the first recension uncorrected type, and in other cases it agrees specially with B. Instances of the former are to be found in Prol. 159, i. 8, 1839, 2423, 2801, 3027, ii. 961, 1200, 1441, 3306, 3516, iii. 68, 626, 2056, v. 1698, 2500, 3376, vi. 543, 1151, 1631, vii. 1490, Latin verses after 1640 and 1984, 5104, viii. 510, 2342, 2925, &c. These, with others of a similar kind, scattered through the whole book, seem to be of the nature of accidental survivals, a first recension copy (the remote ancestor of W) having been altered by collation with one resembling F. W agrees with apparent mistakes of F and the rest of the third recension in some passages, as iii. 446, iv. 2867, 2973, vii. 5135, viii. 1069, 1999, but supports what is apparently the true reading against them in Prol. 1078, i. 1068, ii. 2299, 2537,[Pg clxv] iii. 1605, v. 2906, &c. In most of these last instances W merely remains in agreement with the first recension, where F, &c. depart from it, therefore its testimony may be of an accidental character.

The list of Mayors and Sheriffs of Chester on the first pages has perhaps some local interest, as it is contemporary and probably made by a responsible person. Comparing it with that given in Ormerod’s Hist. of Cheshire, we find several differences, as ‘Ric. Sadler’ for ‘Rich. Smith’ as one of the Sheriffs of 1475, ‘John Monkesfelde, Rob. Pleche,’ Sheriffs for 1478, ‘Mathewe Hewse’ for ‘Mathew Johnson,’ 1479, ‘Rychard Kir e’ for ‘Rich. Barker,’ 1492. The same pages have some notes about current historical events, as (under 1469), ‘The which yere were hedet the lorde Wellybe and the lorde Well. his son for the grete insurreccion and rysing of the Comyns of the Counte of Lyncolne. Also the same yere entred our Souereyne and moste noble Prince Kynge Edward now reynynge,’ &c. Under 1470 is a note of the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury, and at 1476 the record of a visit to Chester of ‘our Souereigne lorde Prince,’ who stayed there from Christmas to Easter.

P₃. Formerly Phillipps 8942, bought in March, 1895, by Messrs. H. S. Nichols & Co., and afterwards in the possession of Messrs. Maggs, Booksellers. Confessio Amantis, imperfect, ending viii. 3119, ‘As Tullius som tyme wrot.’ Parchment, rather roughly written, middle of fifteenth century. From the Towneley Collection.

Hn. Hatton 51, Bodleian Library (Bern. Cat. 4099). Confessio Amantis, imperfect. Parchment, ff. 206, 12 × 9 in., in quires first of 6 and then usually of 8 (lettered); double column of 42-48 lines, untidy writing. Has lost k 4 (iii. 1314-1475), n 2 (iv. 2118-2268), s 2 (v. 5169-5333), t 2 (v. 6774-6914), and five or six at the end (after viii. 2408). Copied from Caxton’s edition, including the Table of Contents and the confusion in leaf numbering.

Besides these, there are several MSS. which contain selections from the Confessio Amantis, as

Harl. 7333, Brit. Museum, which, besides the Canterbury Tales and other things, has seven stories from the Conf. Amantis, viz. f. 120 Tereus (v. 5551 ff.), f. 122 Constance (ii. 587 ff.), f. 126 The Three Questions (i. 3067 ff.), f. 127 vo The Travellers and the Angel (ii. 291 ff.), f. 127 vo Virgil’s Mirror, f. 128 vo The Two Coffers, f. 129 The Beggars and the Pasties, &c. (v. 2031-2498). Parchment, large folio, column of 66 lines, no Latin. These stories are in the same hand as the Cant. Tales, which go before, and the Parlement of Foules, which follows them. The text is that of the first recension unrevised; a very poor copy.

Camb. Univ. Ee. ii. 15. Paper, ff. 95, end of fifteenth or beginning[Pg clxvi] of sixteenth cent., much mutilated. Contains ff. 30-32, a fragment of The Three Questions (i. 3124-3315), and ff. 33-35, a fragment of the Trump of Death (i. 2083 ff.).

Camb. Univ. Ff. i. 6. Paper, ff. 159, 8½ × 6 in., written in various hands. Contains, ff. 3-5, part of the tale of Tereus (v. 5920-6052), ff. 5-10, iv. 1114-1466 including the tale of Rosiphelee, ff. 45-51, The Three Questions (i. 3067-3425), ff. 81-84, iv. 2746-2926, ff. 84 vo-95, viii. 271-846. The text of iv. 1321 agrees with that of the second recension.

Ball. Coll., Oxf. 354. Paper, ff. 253, 11½ × 4¼ in. Contains a miscellaneous collection of verse and prose, with memoranda &c., all, or nearly all, apparently in the hand of the owner of the book, one Richard Hill of Langley, Herts, who has registered on f. 21 (25) the birth of his seven children, from the year 1518 to 1526, and has kept a short journal of public events which ends with the year 1536. Among the extracts are several stories from the Confessio Amantis, neatly written, about 54-60 lines to the page, with no Latin. These extend over about 46 leaves of the book and are as follows (leaves by old numbering): ff. 55-70 vo Tale of Appolinus, viii. 271-2028, ff. 70 vo-81 vo Tales of Constance and of Perseus, ii. 587-1865, ff. 81 vo-83 vo Adrian and Bardus, v. 4937-5162, ff. 83 vo-84 vo, vi. 485-595, ff. 84 vo-86 vo Dives and Lazarus &c., vi. 975-1238, ff. 86 vo-89 vo Constantine, ii. 3187-3507, ff. 89 vo-91 vo Nebuchadnezzar, i. 2785-3066, ff. 91 vo-94 vo Tales of Diogenes and of Pyramus, iii. 1201-1502 and 1655-1672, ff. 94 vo-96 Midas (unfinished), v. 141-312, ff. 171 vo-175, The Three Questions, i. 3067-3402. The text is copied not from Caxton’s edition but from a MS. of the first recension (b) or (c). It is not very correct, and short passages or couplets are omitted here and there, as i. 3051-3054, viii. 1763-1766, 1945 f., &c.

Rawlinson D. 82, Bodleian Library. Contains on ff. 25-33 Conf. Amantis, viii. 2377-2970. Paper, written in single column of 33 lines, no Latin. Copied from a MS. resembling B, but not apparently either from B itself or from Berthelette’s MS.

Phillipps 22914 is reported as a fragment (four leaves) containing Confessio Amantis, v. 775-1542.

Nine good miniatures cut out of a MS. of the Conf. Amantis are in the possession of Mr. A. H. Frere, who kindly allowed me to see them. They are as follows. (1) Tereus, (2) Codrus, (3) Socrates and his wife, (4) Dives and Lazarus, (5) Roman Triumph, (6) Ulysses and Telegonus, (7) The Three Questions, (8) Lycurgus taking an oath from the Athenians (?), (9) King on a quay with bales and gold vessels, apparently landed from a ship near, perhaps Apollonius landing at Tarsis. Several of the pictures represent more than one scene of the[Pg clxvii] story, as that of Tereus, in which we have the king at meat presented with the head of his son, while there are three birds in the background and the scene of the outrage on Philomene on the left; and again in (4), where the rich man and his wife are sitting at table and refusing food to the beggar, while in the background on the right an angel is receiving the soul of the dying Lazarus.

These miniatures are supposed to have belonged to Sir John Fenn, editor of the Paston Letters. The MS. from which they were cut seems to have been of the middle of the fifteenth cent.

Evidence is afforded of one other large and well written MS. of the Conf. Amantis by a fragment of parchment in the Shrewsbury School Library, of which a photograph has most kindly been sent to me by Dr. Calvert of Shrewsbury. It contains about 70 lines of the Prologue, viz. 189-195 (with the Latin), 224-244, 274-294, 323-343. The leaf to which it belonged must have measured at least 15½ × 11½ in., and was written in double column of 50 lines.

Three other MSS. are mentioned in the Catalogue of 1697 (vol. ii. pt. 1), viz. 611 ‘John Gower’s Old English Poems’ with ‘S. Anselmi Speculum Religiosorum,’ at Naworth Castle, which I strongly suspect is identical with Harl. 3490 (H₁), 4035, ‘Goweri Confessio Amantis, Fol. magn.,’ belonging to Ric. Brideoake, Esq., of Ledwell, Oxon., and 6974, ‘Jo. Gower’s Poems, fol.,’ belonging to Sir Henry Langley of the County of Salop (i.e. of the Abbey, Shrewsbury).

The average excellence of the Gower MSS. stands high, and there is a surprisingly large proportion of well written and finely decorated copies, which attain to more than a respectable standard of correctness. Manuscripts such as L or B₂, which stand in the third rank among copies of the Confessio Amantis, would take a very different place among the authorities for any of Chaucer’s works, second only to the Ellesmere MS. if they were copies of the Canterbury Tales, and easily in the first place if it were a question of the Legend of Good Women or the Hous of Fame. It is evident not only that Gower was careful about the text of his writings, but also that there was some organized system of reproduction, which was wanting in the case of Chaucer.

Version. It remains to say something of the Spanish prose version of the Confessio Amantis, which exists in manuscript in the Library of the Escorial (g. ii. 19). Information about this was first given me by Mr. J. Fitzmaurice-Kelly, and since then by the learned Librarian of the Escorial, Fr. Guillermo Antolin, O.S.A., who most obligingly sent me an account of it. The Catalogue (1858) thus describes the book: ‘Confision del amante, libro así intitulado compuesto por Juan Goer natural del Reyno de Englaterra, e tornado en lengua Portuguesa por Roberto Payn ó Payna canónigo de la ciudad de Lisboa, e despues fué puesto en lenguaje castellano por Juan de Cuenca natural de Huete.[Pg clxviii] Cod. escrito en papel el año de 1400, fol. menor. pasta.’ The statement about the author and the translators is taken from the beginning of the translation itself. It seems to be rather implied that the Castilian version made by Juan de Cuenca was based upon the Portuguese of Robert Payn, no doubt an Englishman. The present Librarian adds that it is a book of 411 leaves, and of the end of the fourteenth or beginning of the fifteenth cent.

The translation was made from a copy of the first recension. So far as I can judge by the extracts with which the Librarian has furnished me, it is a tolerably close version. For example, Prol. 22 ff. ‘e por que pocos escriven en lenguaje yngles yo entiendo de componer en el un lybro a onrra del Rey rricardo cuyo sugebto yo so en todo obedescimiento de mi coraçon, como dicho sugebto puede y deue a su dicho señor,... asy fue que un tiempo acaescio como avía de ser que yo yendo en un batel a rremos por el rrio de atenas que va a la cibdad de noua troya ... y yo estonces falle por ventura a este mi señor e luego como me vido mando que fuese a una barca en que el venia, y entre otras cosas que me dixo,’ &c. And again viii. 2941 ff. (the Chaucer greeting), ‘Saluda de mi parte a caucer mi disciplo e mi poeta, quando con el topares, el qual por mi en la su mancibia fiso toda su diligencia para componer y escreuir desyres e cantares de diversas maneras de los quales toda la tierra es llena, por la qual cosa en especial le soy mucho tenido mas que a ninguno de los otros. Por ende dile que le enbio desir que tal esta en su postrimera hedad por dar fyn a todas sus obras se travaje de faser su testamento de amor, asi como tu has fecho agora en tu confision.’

Editions. The Confessio Amantis has been already six times printed, viz. by Caxton, by Berthelette (twice), in Chalmers’ English Poets, by Pauli, and by Prof. Henry Morley. All the later editions are dependent, directly or indirectly, on Berthelette.

Caxton printed the Conf. Amantis in 1483. His text is a composite one, taken from at least three MSS. At first he follows a copy of the third recension, either the Magdalen MS. itself or one remarkably like it, and he continues this for more than half the book, up to about v. 4500. Then for a time he seems to follow a second recension copy, either alone or in combination with the other, but from about v. 6400 to the end he prints from a manuscript of the unrevised first recension, inserting however the additional passages in the seventh book and the conclusion (after the Chaucer greeting) from one of his other MSS. The account of the books ‘Quia vnusquisque’ at the end is from a first recension MS. The principle, no doubt, was to include as much as possible, but two of the additional passages, v. 7015*-7036* and 7086*-7210*, were omitted, probably by oversight, while a first recension copy was being[Pg clxix] followed. The later form of epilogue was perhaps printed rather than the other because it is longer. Caxton prints the lines at the end of the Prologue, which are given only by Δ, and there are some other indications that he had a MS. of this type; but he had also one of the AdBT group, which alone contain vii. 2329*-2340* and 3149*-3180*.

On f. cxvi vo Caxton still agrees with Magd. almost regularly, e.g. v. 4450 And myn hap 4454 is not trouble 4465 But for that 4467 ne shall yeue and lene 4484 doo 4503 A good word, whereas on f. cxvii he differs repeatedly, e.g. 4528, 4532, 4543, 4555, 4560, 4572, and seems never to be in full agreement after this. That he is following a first recension copy after about v. 6400 is clear from the unbroken series of readings belonging to this class which he exhibits. The text generally is very poor and the metre extremely bad.

Berthelette in 1532 printed the Conf. Amantis from a MS. very closely resembling B. He did not venture, however, to substitute the preface which he found in his copy for that to which Caxton had given currency, but merely expressed surprise that the printed copies should deviate so much from the MSS., and printed separately that which his manuscript gave. He also takes from Caxton the lines at the end of the Prologue, the additional third recension passages, Prol. 495-498, 579-584, i. 1403-1406, 2267-2274, 2343-2358, 2369-2372AK, and also the Chaucer greeting, viii. 2941-2960*, but he has overlooked v. 7701-7746. He inserts of course all the additional passages in v. and vii, as he found them in his MS., loudly protesting against Caxton for omitting ‘lynes and columnes, ye and sometyme holle padges.’

Berthelette’s text is better than Caxton’s, but his manuscript must have been decidedly inferior in correctness to B.

The second edition, 1554, is a reprint of the first, column for column, in different type. A few mistakes are corrected, and the spelling is somewhat changed, especially by substitution in many cases of i for y.

Chalmers published the Conf. Amantis in vol. ii. of the collection of British Poets, 1810, taking the text from Berthelette’s edition of 1554.

Pauli professed to follow Berthelette’s first edition with collation throughout of MSS. Harl. 7184 and 3869, and occasional reference to Harl. 3490 and the Stafford MS. It is almost impossible that this full collation can really have been made, for by it nearly all Berthelette’s errors might have been corrected, whereas we find them as a matter[Pg clxx] of fact on every page of Pauli’s edition. As to the critical judgement of the editor, it is enough to say that he regarded Harl. 7184 as a better authority for the text and spelling than either Harl. 3869 or the Stafford MS. (being attracted apparently by the external magnificence of the volume), and that he actually pronounced it to be of the fourteenth cent. His diligence may be measured by the fact that because Harl. 3490 stops short at viii. 3062* (in the middle of a sentence), being left unfinished by the scribe, therefore Pauli’s edition omits the remainder of this conclusion, 3063*-3114*AL, though he had the MS. in the Royal Library (R) within his reach, by means of which he might have completed his copy. He is also seriously inaccurate in the statements which he makes about the Stafford MS. as regards the additional passages.

A certain number of the errors in Berthelette’s edition are corrected, but very many remain, and in some cases further corruption has been introduced by the editor, either from Harl. 7184 or otherwise. The orthography has been ‘restored,’ but hardly with success.

Morley (1889) followed Pauli’s text, with conjectural alterations of his own, and a few corrections from Berthelette, as i. 773. Often the changes are quite wrong, e.g. Prol. 82, 608, i. 777, 1675 f., 2957 f., the most extraordinary perhaps being iv. 2408 f. The editor professes to omit iii. 142-338 and a few lines here and there in other places. The omissions, however, are much more extensive than this seems to imply. In the fourth book alone they are as follows, 401-408, 428-436, 443-506, 516-523, 1467-1475, 1490-1594, 2131-2182, 2754-2770, 2858-2862, 2883-2888, 3181-3302, and in some cases it is impossible even to conjecture on what principle they are made.

The Present Edition. The text follows the Bodleian Fairfax MS. and every deviation from this is noted. The critical apparatus is constructed upon the following principles.

Three manuscripts have been collated throughout with the text of F, viz. Bodley 902 (A), Corpus Christi Coll. 67 (C), and Bodley 294 (B). These are selected to represent respectively the first recension revised, the first recension unrevised, and the second recension texts. A is an excellent copy, the best of its class, C is a carefully written MS., the best of the group to which it belongs, with the exception of Egerton 1991, and B, besides being a good copy[Pg clxxi] and almost the only second recension MS. which is not imperfect, has perhaps a special claim to attention because its text is of the type which all the editions except that of Caxton have followed. In all cases where variation has been found, except where it is merely of form and spelling or of a very trifling and accidental kind, the readings of at least fourteen other selected copies have been ascertained, and by this procedure those variations which are merely individual have been distinguished from those which are shared by a class or a group. The result is given in the critical notes, all the variations of A and B being there cited except those that are very triflingAM, while the readings of C are usually given only when shared by some other manuscript.

It is important that it should be observed which the manuscripts are which have thus been referred to and how their evidence is cited. They are divided always according to their recension, first, second or third, and they are cited in an unvarying order, as follows: AJMH₁X(G)ERCLB₂, SAdBTΔ, FWH₃ (or K), so that A ... B₂ means the whole series of the first class, and S ... Δ that of the second, while H₁ ... B₂ stands for H₁X(G)ERCLB₂, and E ... B₂ for ERCLB₂. These nineteen (or eighteen) manuscripts are present as witnesses throughout, whether named or not; for when the manuscripts are named which give a variation, it is to be assumed that the remainder have the reading of the text. Thus the note

‘1295 wisdom] wordes H₁ ... B₂, H₃’

must be taken to imply that ‘wisdom’ is the reading of AJM, SAdBTΔ, FW and ‘wordes’ of H₁XGERCLB₂, H₃:

‘1296 gostly B’

means that the reading of the text, ‘goodly,’ is given by every one of the nineteen except B:

‘1318 How þer(e) H₁G ... B₂’

means that the reading of the text is that of AJMX, SAdBTΔ, FWH₃ and that of the note belongs to H₁GERCLB₂:

‘1330 for to] þat þou SAdBTΔ’

indicates a reading of the second recension only:

[Pg clxxii]

‘3340 tho] þe AM ... B₂’

stands for the fact that all the first recension copies except J vary from F, while the rest agree. Occasionally readings of other MSS. are cited besides those mentioned above, as Y, Λ or Magd., but the absence of such citation must not be taken to imply anything.

It must be observed, however, that in some cases a more limited reference seemed desirable, especially on matters of form and spelling, points about which it would be idle to adduce any evidence but that of a few copies. Where selection of this kind is employed, the manuscripts on both sides are cited: thus such notes as

‘3691 set AJ, S, F sette C, B,’

‘4307 all S, F alle AJ, B’

must not be taken to imply the reading of any copy except those mentioned. In a few cases this form is used to avoid misunderstanding in passages where the record of readings is for some reason incomplete, as i. 2300, viii. 566, 1713, 1927.

In citing a variation as given by a class or group of MSS. no attempt is made to give the spelling of each one separately. The form cited is that given either by the majority or by a leading MS. with variations sometimes added in parentheses.

Attention should be paid also to the following points: (1) It was not found possible to complete the collation of the Glasgow MS. (G) before the text was printed, and consequently its readings must not be taken as implied, when not mentioned, any further than v. 1970. The collation has since been completed and some of the results are noted in the account of the MS. (2) K takes the place of H₃ in vi. 1671-vii. 1405, and vii. 3594 to the end, where H₃ is defective. (3) Before assuming the evidence of any MS. ex silentio it is necessary that the reader should assure himself that it is not defective in the part concerned. The means of doing this are fully afforded by the accounts given of the separate MSS., where their imperfections are noted, and it must be remembered that J and Ad are for the most part defective as regards the Latin summaries, and that this is the case with T also in certain parts. The readings of S on f. 50 are for the most part passed over, as not originally belonging to that MS. (4) A few abbreviated Latin terms are used in the critical notes, as in ras. to indicate that the text is written over an erasure, or p. m. to denote the reading of the first hand.

The lines are numbered in each book (for the first time), and the numbers with an asterisk attached are those of the lines in other recensions than that of the text. In addition to this it[Pg clxxiii] should be observed that as nearly all references to Gower for the last forty years have been made by Pauli’s edition, it has been thought advisable to place in the margin of this text indications of the volumes and pages of that edition: thus P. 1. 153 stands for ‘Pauli, vol. i. p. 153.’

Setting aside matters of spelling, punctuation and grammatical form, we may note that the material differences of reading between the text of this edition and that of Pauli are in number about two thousand.

Other English Works. With regard to the text of the poem In Praise of Peace all that need be said will be found in the notes upon it. The Trentham MS., which contains it, has already been fully described in the volume of ‘French Works.’

A poem in five seven-line stanzas, beginning ‘Passe forthe þou pilgryme and bridel wele þy beste,’ occurs in (Shirley’s) MS. Ashmole 59, f. 17 vo (Bodl. Libr.), with the title ‘Balade moral of gode counseyle made by Gower.’ The same without the final stanza (owing to loss of a leaf) occurs in MS. Rawlinson C. 86, but with no title or ascription of authorship, and both texts have been printed (not quite correctly) by Dr. Karl Meyer in his John Gower’s Beziehungen, &c., 1889. In addition to these copies there is one in the British Museum MS. Addit. 29729, which has been published by Dr. Max Förster in the Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen, vol. 102, p. 50. In this MS. the piece is ascribed to Benedict Burgh, and it is called ‘A leson to kepe well the tonge.’

It is almost impossible that these verses can have been written by Gower, but out of deference to Shirley’s authority (which is not very weighty however), and in order that the reader may judge, it is printed here, all deviations from the Ashmole text being noted, except in the case of ‘th’ for ‘þ,’ and some readings of the Rawlinson copy (R) being added in parentheses.

Balade moral of gode counseyle made by Gower.

Passe forth, thou pilgryme, and bridel wel thy beeste;1
Loke not agein for thing that may betyde;2
Thenke what thou wilt, but speke ay with the leeste;
Avyse thee wel who stondeth thee besyde;3
Let not thyne herte beo with thy tonge bewryde;
Trust not to muche in fayre visayginge,
For peynted cheere shapeth efft to stynge.4
[Pg clxxiv]
Byholde thy selff, or that thou other deme;
Ne beo not glad whane other done amyss;5
Sey never al that which wolde the sothe seme,6 10
Thou maist not wite what thy fortune is:7
For there is no wight on lyve iwyss8
That stondeth sure, ther fore I rede beware,9
And looke aboute for stumbling in the snare.
Reporte not muche on other mennes sawe;10
Be ay adrad to here a wicked fame;11
For man shal dye by dome of goddes lawe,
That here enpeyreth any mannes name.12
Avyse thee wel ther fore or thow attame13
Suche as thou mayst never revoke ageyn;14 20
A good name leste is leste for ay certain.15
Pley not with pecus ne ffawvel to thy feere;16
Chese thou hem never, yif thou do affter me;
The hande is hurt that bourdeth with the bere;17
Fawvel fareth even right as doth a bee;18
Hony mowthed, ful of swetnesse is she,19
But loke behinde and ware thee from hir stonge,20
Thow shalt have hurt yf thou play with hir longe.21
Dispreyse no wight but if effte thou may him preyse,
Ne preyse no firre but thou may discomende: 30
Weyghe thy wordes and hem by mesure peyse;
Thenke that the gilty may by grace amende,
And eke the gode may happen to offende:
Remember eke that what man doth amiss,22
Thou hast or art or may be suche as he is.23

This is full of lines that Gower would not have written, with superfluous syllables in the metre, as ll. 1, 5, 10, 17, 29, 33, 35 (omitting those that might pass with amended spelling), accent on weak syllables, as ll. 20, 25, 26, 31, defective rhyme, as ‘besyde’: ‘bewryde’ (participle), and ‘feere’ (companion): ‘bere,’ or suppression of syllable at the beginning, as in l. 12. The form ‘mayst’ (maist) for ‘miht’ is not found in any respectable Gower MS. Moreover the style is not that of Gower, but evidently imitated from Chaucer’s poem ‘Fle from the pres.’


1 1 forþe wele
2 2 ageine
3 4 weele stondeþe
4 7 shapeþe (efft] her R)
5 9 gladde (glad R) amysse
6 10 þee
7 11 wit (witte R)
8 12 ewysse
9 13 stondeþe
10 15 mens (mennys R)
11 16 adradde
12 18 enpeyreþe mans (mannes R)
13 19 wele þowe
14 20 ageyne
15 21 gode (good R) certaine
16 22 (Playe not pecus R)
17 24 hurte bourdeþe (a brere R)
18 25 fareþe doþe
19 26 right ful (full R)
20 27 frome
21 28 þowe shalt kache hareme to pley wt þeos beestis longe (Thow shalt haue hurt yf þou play with her longe R)
22 34 Remembre doþe amisse
23 35 haste arte

[Pg clxxv]


p. 2, note on 24-92, for Λ, read ΛP₂, and for Of these H₃ Magd. have read Of these Magd. has

p. 13, note on 331, for RSnDAr read RSnDAr, Δ

p. 14, l. 349, for new read newe

p. 19, note on 543, read scholde A, B, K schold S, F

p. 23, note on 668, for hol] hole AC read hol B, F hole AC note on 683, for A read AM

p. 25, l. 747, for for read forto

p. 29, l. 871, for form read forme

p. 33, l. 1024, for wist read wiste

p. 57, l. 782, for There read Ther

p. 60, l. 914, for She read Sche so also p. 244, l. 679

p. 64, l. 1052, for righte read rihte

p. 70, l. 1275, for Commandeth read Comandeth

p. 72, note on 1338, forread SAdΔ, H₃

p. 88, l. 1946, for wenyinge read wenynge

p. 96, l. 2248, for well read wel

p. 100, l. 2365, for myght read myht so also p. 117, l. 2990

p. 107, l. 2630, for discoevered read descoevered

p. 109, l. 2710, for all read al so also p. 156, l. 966, p. 238, l. 447, p. 346, l. 1668

p. 112, l. 2822, for bare read bar

p. 113, l. 2838, for But read Bot

p. 133, below l. 96, a small space should be left

p. 138, l. 274, for greveth read grieveth

p. 150, l. 750, for her read hire

p. 170, l. 1498, for Till read Til

p. 182, note on 1916, for RCLB₂, H₃ read RCLB₂, Δ, H₃

p. 200, note on 2592, for AdB read SAdBΔ

p. 234, note on 313, for H₁ ... B₂ read H₁ ... B₂, Δ

p. 252, note on 983, add pater Δ

p. 257, note on 1164, for XRCLB₂ read H₁XRCLB₂

p. 260, note on 1258, for AdT read AdTΔ

p. 262, note on 1336 (margin), add om. Δ

p. 265, note on 1448, for X ... B₂, WH₃ read X ... B₂, Δ, WH₃

p. 266, note on 1473, for AdBT read SAdBTΔ

p. 269, note on 1605, for SBΛ readand for AdTΔ read SAdTΔ

p. 280, note on 2023, for Phoreus T read Phoreus TΔ

p. 282, l. 2077, for hounde read hound

p. 284, note on 2166, for W read Δ, W

p. 289, l. 2357, for pouere read povere

p. 292, note on 2444, for H₁ ... B₂ read H₁ ... B₂, SΔ

p. 307, l. 225, for distruid read destruid

p. 314, l. 498, for accordant read acordant

p. 334, l. 1224 (margin), add Confessor

p. 346, l. 1653, for accompte read acompte

p. 351, note on 1872, for AC read AC, S

p. 387, l. 3188, for By read Be

p. 396, l. 3507, for thinge read thing

p. 421, l. 716, for harme read harm

p. 464, note on 745 ff., add The authority here followed is the Trésor of Brunetto Latini, pp. 84-88 (ed. 1863).

p. 468, note on 463 ff., add The authority for this is perhaps the Trésor, p. 191.

p. 473, l. 11, for 7101), Spertachus for Cyrus (vii. 3418), &c. read 7101).

p. 489, note on 2459 ff., for I am unable [to say where Gower found this version of the story. The name Geta is quite unknown in the classical] form of it. read The name Geta was taken by Gower from the Geta of Vitalis Blesensis, a dramatic piece in Latin elegiacs founded on Plautus, in which Geta takes the place of Sosia: see Wright’s Early Mysteries, &c., pp. 79-90.

p. 509, note on 2606, for on the ferst, read on the ferste,

[Pg clxxvii]


On June 12, 1902, a very valuable manuscript of the Confessio Amantis, which had not hitherto been described, was offered for sale by Messrs. Sotheby. By the kind assistance of Dr. Furnivall, who was allowed by the auctioneers to examine the book before the sale, I am able to give the following description of it.

Fountaine MS. Contains Confessio Amantis with ‘Explicit’ (six lines), ‘Quam cinxere,’ and ‘Quia vnusquisque,’ after which ‘Deo gracias.’ Then at the end an alphabetical index to the contents of the poem. Parchment, ff. 213 (originally), 17½ × 12¼ in., neatly written in double column of 46 lines to the column, Latin summaries in the text, red: middle of the fifteenth century. Illustrated throughout with well-painted miniatures, of which there were originally 108, including pictures of the signs of the Zodiac and of the positions of the principal stars. Of these miniatures nine are missing from the book, but these have now been identified with the series of nine miniatures in the possession of Mr. A. H. Frere, which are described on p. clxvi of my Introduction. At the end of the text (f. 203) is written ‘Andw. Fountaine, 1791. Æ. 20.’

This is a very large folio, giving a fair text of the first recension. The interest of it depends upon the miniatures. In describing the illustrated New College MS. 266 I remarked that other similar copies must once have existed. In saying this I was referring to the Frere miniatures, and it is a matter of some interest to me to have been able to identify these with the nine which are missing from the Fountaine MS. The subjects of the Frere miniatures correspond duly with the places from which pictures have been cut out, and the words which in some cases have been cut away with the pictures fit in with those that remain in the MS. For example, on f. 26 a miniature has been cut out before i. 3067 (the tale of the Three Questions), the text of the Latin summary above the missing picture being cut off after the words ‘tocius perdicionis.’ The Frere miniature which relates to this tale continues the sentence, supplying the words ‘causam sua culpa ministrat’; and so also with some of the others. In some respects we can now correct our account of the Frere miniatures. The subjects of seven are correctly given in the description, but the last two represent, as we can now see, (8) Alexander and the Pirate, iii. 2363 ff., (9) Lycurgus departing with his goods from Athens, vii. 2917 ff. The book was bought by Mr. Quaritch for £1550, certainly the highest price ever paid for a Gower manuscript.

G. C. M.

[Pg 1]


P. i. 1
i. Torpor, ebes sensus, scola parua labor minimusque
Causant quo minimus ipse minora canam:
Qua tamen Engisti lingua canit Insula Bruti
Anglica Carmente metra iuuante loquar.
Ossibus ergo carens que conterit ossa loquelis
Absit, et interpres stet procul oro malus.

Incipit Prologus

Of hem that writen ous tofore
The bokes duelle, and we therfore
Ben tawht of that was write tho:
Forthi good is that we also
In oure tyme among ous hiere24
Do wryte of newe som matiere,25
Essampled of these olde wyse26
So that it myhte in such a wyse,27

[Pg 2]

[Design of the Book.]
Whan we ben dede and elleswhere,
Beleve to the worldes eere 10
In tyme comende after this.
Bot for men sein, and soth it is,
That who that al of wisdom writ
It dulleth ofte a mannes wit
P. i. 2
To him that schal it aldai rede,28
For thilke cause, if that ye rede,
I wolde go the middel weie
And wryte a bok betwen the tweie,
Somwhat of lust, somewhat of lore,
That of the lasse or of the more 20
Som man mai lyke of that I wryte:
And for that fewe men endite
Hic in principio declarat qualiter in anno Regis Ricardi secundi sexto decimo Iohannes Gower presentem libellum composuit et finaliter compleuit, quem strenuissimo domino suo domino Henrico de Lancastria tunc Derbeie Comiti cum omni reuerencia specialiter destinauit.
In oure englissh, I thenke make29
*A bok for Engelondes sake,30
P. i. 3
The yer sextenthe of kyng Richard.
What schal befalle hierafterward
God wot, for now upon this tyde
Men se the world on every syde31
In sondry wyse so diversed,32
That it welnyh stant al reversed, 30
As forto speke of tyme ago.
The cause whi it changeth so
It needeth nought to specifie,33
The thing so open is at ÿe
P. i. 4
That every man it mai beholde:
And natheles be daies olde,
Whan that the bokes weren levere,
Wrytinge was beloved evere34
Of hem that weren vertuous;
For hier in erthe amonges ous, 40
If noman write hou that it stode,35
The pris of hem that weren goode
Scholde, as who seith, a gret partie
Be lost: so for to magnifie
The worthi princes that tho were,
The bokes schewen hiere and there,36
Wherof the world ensampled is;37
And tho that deden thanne amis
P. i. 5
Thurgh tirannie and crualte,38
Right as thei stoden in degre, 50
So was the wrytinge of here werk.39
Thus I, which am a burel clerk,40
Purpose forto wryte a bok
After the world that whilom tok
Long tyme in olde daies passed:
Bot for men sein it is now lassed,
In worse plit than it was tho,
I thenke forto touche also
The world which neweth every dai,
So as I can, so as I mai. 60
Thogh I seknesse have upon honde
And longe have had, yit woll I fonde
To wryte and do my bisinesse,41
That in som part, so as I gesse,
The wyse man mai ben avised.
For this prologe is so assised
That it to wisdom al belongeth:
What wysman that it underfongeth,42
He schal drawe into remembrance
The fortune of this worldes chance, 70
The which noman in his persone43
Mai knowe, bot the god al one.44
Whan the prologe is so despended,
This bok schal afterward ben ended
Of love, which doth many a wonder45
And many a wys man hath put under.46
And in this wyse I thenke trete
Towardes hem that now be grete,
P. i. 6
Betwen the vertu and the vice
Which longeth unto this office.47 80
Bot for my wittes ben to smale
To tellen every man his tale,
This bok, upon amendment
To stonde at his commandement,
With whom myn herte is of accord,
I sende unto myn oghne lord,
Which of Lancastre is Henri named:
The hyhe god him hath proclamed
Ful of knyhthode and alle grace.
So woll I now this werk embrace 90
With hol trust and with hol believe;
God grante I mot it wel achieve.

*48A bok for king Richardes sake,49
To whom belongeth my ligeance50
With al myn hertes obeissance
In al that evere a liege man51
Unto his king may doon or can:
So ferforth I me recomande52
To him which al me may comande, 30*
Preyende unto the hihe regne53
[Pg 3]
Which causeth every king to regne,
That his corone longe stonde.
Hic declarat in primis qualiter ob reuerenciam serenissimi principis domini sui Regis Anglie Ricardi secundi55 totus suus humilis Iohannes Gower, licet graui infirmitate a diu multipliciter fatigatus, huius opusculi labores suscipere non recusauit, set59 tanquam fauum ex variis floribus recollectum, presentem libellum ex variis cronicis, historiis,62 poetarum philosophorumque dictis, quatenus sibi infirmitas permisit, studiosissime compilauit.
I thenke and have it understonde,
As it bifel upon a tyde,
As thing which scholde tho betyde,—54
Under the toun of newe Troye,
Which tok of Brut his ferste joye,56
In Temse whan it was flowende57
As I be bote cam rowende,58 40*
So as fortune hir tyme sette,
My liege lord par chaunce I mette;
And so befel,60 as I cam nyh,61
Out of my bot, whan he me syh,
He bad me come in to his barge.
And whan I was with him at large,
Amonges othre thinges seid63
He hath this charge upon me leid,64
[Pg 4]And bad me doo my besynesse65
That to his hihe worthinesse 50*
Som newe thing I scholde boke,66
That he himself it mihte loke67
After the forme of my writynge.68
And thus upon his comandynge
Myn herte is wel the more glad69
To write so as he me bad;
And eek my fere is wel the lasse
That non envye schal compasse
Withoute a resonable wite70
To feyne and blame that I write. 60*
A gentil herte his tunge stilleth,
That it malice non distilleth,71
But preyseth that is to be preised;
But he that hath his word unpeysed
And handleth <onwrong> every thing,72
[Pg 5]I preye un to the hevene king73
Fro suche tunges he me schilde.
And natheles this world is wilde
Of such jangling, and what befalle,74
My kinges heste schal nought falle,70*
That I, in hope to deserve
His thonk, ne schal his wil observe;
And elles were I nought excused,
For that thing may nought be refused
Which that a king himselve bit.75
Forthi the symplesce of my wit76
I thenke if that it myhte avayle77
In his service to travaile:78
Though I seknesse have upon honde,
And longe have had, yit wol I fonde,7980*
[Pg 6]So as I made my beheste,80
To make a bok after his heste,81
And write in such a maner wise,
Which may be wisdom to the wise
And pley to hem that lust to pleye.
But in proverbe I have herd seye
That who that wel his werk begynneth82
The rather a good ende he wynneth;
And thus the prologe of my bok83
After the world that whilom tok, 90*
And eek somdel after the newe,
I wol begynne84 for to newe.85

[Pg 7]
[The former Time better than this.]
ii. Tempus preteritum presens fortuna beatum
Linquit, et antiquas vertit in orbe vias.86
Progenuit veterem concors dileccio pacem,
Dum facies hominis nuncia mentis erat:
Legibus vnicolor tunc temporis aura refulsit,
Iusticie plane tuncque fuere vie.87
Nuncque latens odium vultum depingit amoris,
Paceque sub ficta tempus ad arma tegit;88
Instar et ex variis mutabile Cameliontis
Lex gerit, et regnis sunt noua iura nouis: (10)
[Temporal Rulers.]
Climata que fuerant solidissima sicque per orbem
Soluuntur, nec eo centra quietis habent.
If I schal drawe in to my mynde
De statu regnorum, vt dicunt, secundum temporalia, videlicet tempore regis Ricardi secundi anno regni sui sexto decimo.89
The tyme passed, thanne I fynde
The world stod thanne in al his welthe:
Tho was the lif of man in helthe,
Tho was plente, tho was richesse,
Tho was the fortune of prouesse,
Tho was knyhthode in pris be name,
Wherof the wyde worldes fame 100
P. i. 7
Write in Cronique is yit withholde;
Justice of lawe tho was holde,
The privilege of regalie
Was sauf, and al the baronie
Worschiped was in his astat;
The citees knewen no debat,
The poeple stod in obeissance
Under the reule of governance,
And pes, which ryhtwisnesse keste,90
With charite tho stod in reste: 110
Of mannes herte the corage
Was schewed thanne in the visage;
The word was lich to the conceite91
Withoute semblant of deceite:
Tho was ther unenvied love,92
Tho was the vertu sett above
And vice was put under fote.
Now stant the crop under the rote,
The world is changed overal,
And therof most in special 120
That love is falle into discord.
[Pg 8]
And that I take to record
Of every lond for his partie
The comun vois, which mai noght lie;93
Noght upon on, bot upon alle
It is that men now clepe and calle,
And sein the regnes ben divided,94
In stede of love is hate guided,
The werre wol no pes purchace,
And lawe hath take hire double face, 130
P. i. 8
So that justice out of the weie
With ryhtwisnesse is gon aweie:
And thus to loke on every halve,
Men sen the sor withoute salve,
Which al the world hath overtake.
Ther is no regne of alle outtake,
For every climat hath his diel
After the tornynge of the whiel,
Which blinde fortune overthroweth;
Wherof the certain noman knoweth: 140
The hevene wot what is to done,
Bot we that duelle under the mone
Stonde in this world upon a weer,95
And namely bot the pouer96
Of hem that ben the worldes guides
With good consail on alle sides
Be kept upriht in such a wyse,97
That hate breke noght thassise
Of love, which is al the chief98
To kepe a regne out of meschief. 150
For alle resoun wolde this,
Apostolus. Regem honorificate.
That unto him which the heved is
The membres buxom scholden bowe,
And he scholde ek her trowthe allowe,
With al his herte and make hem chiere,99
Salomon. Omnia fac cum consilio.
For good consail is good to hiere.
Althogh a man be wys himselve,100
[Pg 9]
Yit is the wisdom more of tuelve;
And if thei stoden bothe in on,101
To hope it were thanne anon 160
P. i. 9
That god his grace wolde sende
To make of thilke werre an ende,
Which every day now groweth newe:
And that is gretly forto rewe
In special for Cristes sake,
Which wolde his oghne lif forsake
Among the men to yeve pes.
But now men tellen natheles
That love is fro the world departed,102
So stant the pes unevene parted 170
With hem that liven now adaies.
Bot forto loke at alle assaies,
To him that wolde resoun seche
After the comun worldes speche
It is to wondre of thilke werre,
In which non wot who hath the werre;
For every lond himself deceyveth
And of desese his part receyveth,
And yet ne take men no kepe.
Bot thilke lord which al may kepe, 180
To whom no consail may ben hid,
Upon the world which is betid,
Amende that wherof men pleigne
With trewe hertes and with pleine,
And reconcile love ayeyn,
As he which is king sovereign
Of al the worldes governaunce,
And of his hyhe porveaunce
Afferme pes betwen the londes
And take her cause into hise hondes, 190
P. i. 10
So that the world may stonde appesed
And his godhede also be plesed.
[The Church.]
iii. Quas coluit Moises vetus aut nouus ipse Iohannes,
Hesternas leges vix colit ista dies.
[Pg 10]
Sic prius ecclesia bina virtute polita
Nunc magis inculta pallet vtraque via.
Pacificam Petri vaginam mucro resumens
Horruit ad Cristi verba cruoris iter;
Nunc tamen assiduo gladium de sanguine tinctum
Vibrat auaricia, lege tepente sacra.103
Sic lupus est pastor, pater hostis, mors miserator,
Predoque largitor, pax et in orbe timor.104 (10)
To thenke upon the daies olde,
De statu cleri, vt dicunt, secundum spiritualia, videlicet tempore Roberti Gibbonensis, qui nomen Clementis sibi sortitus est, tunc antipape.105
The lif of clerkes to beholde,
Men sein how that thei weren tho
Ensample and reule of alle tho
Whiche of wisdom the vertu soughten.
Unto the god ferst thei besoughten
As to the substaunce of her Scole,
That thei ne scholden noght befole 200
Her wit upon none erthly werkes,106
Which were ayein thestat of clerkes,
And that thei myhten fle the vice
Which Simon hath in his office,
Wherof he takth the gold in honde.107
For thilke tyme I understonde
The Lumbard made non eschange
The bisschopriches forto change,
Ne yet a lettre for to sende
For dignite ne for Provende,108 210
Or cured or withoute cure.
The cherche keye in aventure
P. i. 11
Of armes and of brygantaille
Stod nothing thanne upon bataille;
To fyhte or for to make cheste109
It thoghte hem thanne noght honeste;
Bot of simplesce and pacience
Thei maden thanne no defence:
The Court of worldly regalie110
[Pg 11]
To hem was thanne no baillie; 220
The vein honour was noght desired,
Which hath the proude herte fyred;
Humilite was tho withholde,
And Pride was a vice holde.
Of holy cherche the largesse
Yaf thanne and dede gret almesse
To povere men that hadden nede:
Thei were ek chaste in word and dede,
Wherof the poeple ensample tok;
Her lust was al upon the bok, 230
Or forto preche or forto preie,
To wisse men the ryhte weie
Of suche as stode of trowthe unliered.
Lo, thus was Petres barge stiered111
Of hem that thilke tyme were,
And thus cam ferst to mannes Ere
The feith of Crist and alle goode
Thurgh hem that thanne weren goode
And sobre and chaste and large and wyse.
Bot now men sein is otherwise, 240
Simon the cause hath undertake,
The worldes swerd on honde is take;
P. i. 12
And that is wonder natheles,
Whan Crist him self hath bode pes
And set it in his testament,
How now that holy cherche is went,
Of that here lawe positif
Hath set to make werre and strif
For worldes good, which may noght laste.112
God wot the cause to the laste 250
Of every right and wrong also;
But whil the lawe is reuled so
That clerkes to the werre entende,
I not how that thei scholde amende
The woful world in othre thinges,
To make pes betwen the kynges
After the lawe of charite,
Which is the propre duete
[Pg 12]
Belongende unto the presthode.
Bot as it thenkth to the manhode,113 260
The hevene is ferr, the world is nyh,
And veine gloire is ek so slyh,
Which coveitise hath now withholde,
That thei non other thing beholde,
Bot only that thei myhten winne.
And thus the werres thei beginne,
Wherof the holi cherche is taxed,114
That in the point as it is axed
The disme goth to the bataille,
As thogh Crist myhte noght availe 270
To don hem riht be other weie.
In to the swerd the cherche keie
P. i. 13
Is torned, and the holy bede
Into cursinge, and every stede
Which scholde stonde upon the feith
And to this cause an Ere leyth,
Astoned is of the querele.
That scholde be the worldes hele
Is now, men sein, the pestilence
Which hath exiled pacience115 280
Fro the clergie in special:
And that is schewed overal,
In eny thing whan thei ben grieved.
Bot if Gregoire be believed,
As it is in the bokes write,
He doth ous somdel forto wite
The cause of thilke prelacie,
Wher god is noght of compaignie:
For every werk as it is founded
Schal stonde or elles be confounded; 290
Who that only for Cristes sake
Desireth cure forto take,
And noght for pride of thilke astat,
To bere a name of a prelat,
He schal be resoun do profit
[Pg 13]
In holy cherche upon the plit
That he hath set his conscience;
Gregorius. Terrenis lucris inhiant, honore prelacie gaudent, et non vt prosint, set vt presint, episcopatum desiderant.
Bot in the worldes reverence
Ther ben of suche manie glade,
Whan thei to thilke astat ben made, 300
Noght for the merite of the charge,
Bot for thei wolde hemself descharge
P. i. 14
Of poverte and become grete;
And thus for Pompe and for beyete
The Scribe and ek the Pharisee
Of Moïses upon the See
In the chaiere on hyh ben set;
Wherof the feith is ofte let,
Which is betaken hem to kepe.
In Cristes cause alday thei slepe, 310
Bot of the world is noght foryete;
For wel is him that now may gete
Office in Court to ben honoured.
The stronge coffre hath al devoured
Under the keye of avarice
The tresor of the benefice,
Wherof the povere schulden clothe116
And ete and drinke and house bothe;
The charite goth al unknowe,
For thei no grein of Pite sowe: 320
And slouthe kepeth the libraire117
Which longeth to the Saintuaire;
To studie upon the worldes lore
Sufficeth now withoute more;
Delicacie his swete toth
Hath fostred so that it fordoth
Of abstinence al that ther is.
And forto loken over this,
If Ethna brenne in the clergie,
Al openly to mannes ÿe 330
At Avynoun thexperience118
[Pg 14]
Therof hath yove an evidence,
P. i. 15
Of that men sen hem so divided.
And yit the cause is noght decided;
Bot it is seid and evere schal,
Betwen tuo Stoles lyth the fal,119
Whan that men wenen best to sitte:
In holy cherche of such a slitte120
Is for to rewe un to ous alle;
God grante it mote wel befalle 340
Towardes him which hath the trowthe.121
Bot ofte is sen that mochel slowthe,
Whan men ben drunken of the cuppe,
Doth mochel harm, whan fyr is uppe,
Bot if somwho the flamme stanche;
And so to speke upon this branche,
Which proud Envie hath mad to springe,122
Of Scisme, causeth forto bringe
This newe Secte of Lollardie,
And also many an heresie 350
Among the clerkes in hemselve.
It were betre dike and delve
And stonde upon the ryhte feith,
Than knowe al that the bible seith123
And erre as somme clerkes do.
Upon the hond to were a Schoo
And sette upon the fot a Glove
Acordeth noght to the behove
Of resonable mannes us:
If men behielden the vertus 360
That Crist in Erthe taghte here,
Thei scholden noght in such manere,
P. i. 16
Among hem that ben holden wise,
The Papacie so desguise
Upon diverse eleccioun,
Which stant after thaffeccioun
Of sondry londes al aboute:
Bot whan god wole, it schal were oute,
[Pg 15]
For trowthe mot stonde ate laste.
Bot yet thei argumenten faste124 370
Upon the Pope and his astat,
Wherof thei falle in gret debat;
This clerk seith yee, that other nay,125
And thus thei dryve forth the day,
And ech of hem himself amendeth
Of worldes good, bot non entendeth
To that which comun profit were.
Thei sein that god is myhti there,
And schal ordeine what he wile,
Ther make thei non other skile 380
Where is the peril of the feith,
Bot every clerk his herte leith
To kepe his world in special,
And of the cause general,
Which unto holy cherche longeth,
Is non of hem that underfongeth
To schapen eny resistence:
And thus the riht hath no defence,
Bot ther I love, ther I holde.
Lo, thus tobroke is Cristes folde, 390
Wherof the flock withoute guide
Devoured is on every side,
P. i. 17
In lacke of hem that ben unware
Schepherdes, whiche her wit beware
Upon the world in other halve.
The scharpe pricke in stede of salve126
Thei usen now, wherof the hele
Thei hurte of that thei scholden hele;
And what Schep that is full of wulle
Upon his back, thei toose and pulle, 400
Whil ther is eny thing to pile:
And thogh ther be non other skile
Bot only for thei wolden wynne,
Thei leve noght, whan thei begynne,
Upon her acte to procede,
Which is no good schepherdes dede.
[Pg 16]
And upon this also men sein,
That fro the leese which is plein
Into the breres thei forcacche127
Her Orf, for that thei wolden lacche128 410
With such duresce, and so bereve
That schal upon the thornes leve
Of wulle, which the brere hath tore;
Wherof the Schep ben al totore
Of that the hierdes make hem lese.
Lo, how thei feignen chalk for chese,
For though thei speke and teche wel,
Thei don hemself therof no del:
For if the wolf come in the weie,129
Her gostly Staf is thanne aweie, 420
Wherof thei scholde her flock defende;130
Bot if the povere Schep offende
P. i. 18
In eny thing, thogh it be lyte,
They ben al redy forto smyte;
And thus, how evere that thei tale,
The strokes falle upon the smale,
And upon othre that ben grete
Hem lacketh herte forto bete.
So that under the clerkes lawe
Men sen the Merel al mysdrawe, 430
I wol noght seie in general,
For ther ben somme in special
In whom that alle vertu duelleth,
Qui vocatur a deo tanquam Aaron.
And tho ben, as thapostel telleth,
That god of his eleccioun
Hath cleped to perfeccioun
In the manere as Aaron was:
Thei ben nothing in thilke cas
Of Simon, which the foldes gate
Hath lete, and goth in othergate, 440
Bot thei gon in the rihte weie.
Ther ben also somme, as men seie,
That folwen Simon ate hieles,
[Pg 17]
Whos carte goth upon the whieles
Of coveitise and worldes Pride,
And holy cherche goth beside,
Which scheweth outward a visage
Of that is noght in the corage.
For if men loke in holy cherche,
Betwen the word and that thei werche131 450
Ther is a full gret difference:
Thei prechen ous in audience
P. i. 19
That noman schal his soule empeire,132
For al is bot a chirie feire
This worldes good, so as thei telle;
Also thei sein ther is an helle,
Which unto mannes sinne is due,133
And bidden ous therfore eschue
That wikkid is, and do the goode.
Who that here wordes understode, 460
It thenkth thei wolden do the same;
Bot yet betwen ernest and game
Ful ofte it torneth other wise.
With holy tales thei devise
How meritoire is thilke dede
Of charite, to clothe and fede
The povere folk and forto parte
The worldes good, bot thei departe
Ne thenken noght fro that thei have.
Also thei sein, good is to save 470
With penance and with abstinence
Of chastite the continence;
Bot pleinly forto speke of that,
I not how thilke body fat,
Which thei with deynte metes kepe
And leyn it softe forto slepe,
Whan it hath elles al his wille,
With chastite schal stonde stille:
And natheles I can noght seie,
In aunter if that I misseye. 480
Touchende of this, how evere it stonde,
[Pg 18]
I here and wol noght understonde,
P. i. 20
For therof have I noght to done:
Bot he that made ferst the Mone,
The hyhe god, of his goodnesse,
If ther be cause, he it redresce.134
Bot what as eny man accuse,135
This mai reson of trowthe excuse;
The vice of hem that ben ungoode
Is no reproef unto the goode: 490
For every man hise oghne werkes
Schal bere, and thus as of the clerkes
The goode men ben to comende,
And alle these othre god amende:
For thei ben to the worldes ÿe136
The Mirour of ensamplerie,
To reulen and to taken hiede
Betwen the men and the godhiede.
[The Commons.]
iv. Vulgaris populus regali lege subactus
Dum iacet, vt mitis agna subibit onus.
Si caput extollat et lex sua frena relaxet,
Vt sibi velle iubet, Tigridis instar habet.
Ignis, aqua dominans duo sunt pietate carentes,
Ira tamen plebis est violenta magis.
Now forto speke of the comune,
It is to drede of that fortune 500
De statu plebis, vt dicunt, secundum accidencium mutabilia.137
Which hath befalle in sondri londes:
Bot often for defalte of bondes
Al sodeinliche, er it be wist,
A Tonne, whanne his lye arist,
Tobrekth and renneth al aboute,
Which elles scholde noght gon oute;
And ek fulofte a litel Skar
Upon a Banke, er men be war,
P. i. 21
Let in the Strem, which with gret peine,
If evere man it schal restreigne. 138 510
[Pg 19]Wher lawe lacketh, errour groweth,
He is noght wys who that ne troweth,
For it hath proeved ofte er this;
And thus the comun clamour is
In every lond wher poeple dwelleth,
And eche in his compleignte telleth
How that the world is al miswent,
And ther upon his jugement139
Yifth every man in sondry wise.
Bot what man wolde himself avise, 520
His conscience and noght misuse,
He may wel ate ferste excuse
His god, which evere stant in on:
In him ther is defalte non,
[Man the Cause of Evil.]
So moste it stonde upon ousselve
Nought only upon ten ne twelve,
Bot plenerliche upon ous alle,
For man is cause of that schal falle.
And natheles yet som men wryte
Nota contra hoc, quod aliqui sortem fortune, aliqui influenciam planetarum ponunt, per quod, vt dicitur, rerum euentus necessario contingit. Set pocius dicendum est, quod ea que nos prospera et aduersa in hoc mundo vocamus, secundum merita et demerita hominum digno dei iudicio proveniunt.
And sein that fortune is to wyte, 530
And som men holde oppinion
That it is constellacion,
Which causeth al that a man doth:
God wot of bothe which is soth.
The world as of his propre kynde
Was evere untrewe, and as the blynde
Improprelich he demeth fame,
He blameth that is noght to blame
P. i. 22
And preiseth that is noght to preise:
Thus whan he schal the thinges peise, 540
Ther is deceipte in his balance,
And al is that the variance
Of ous, that scholde ous betre avise;140
For after that we falle and rise,
The world arist and falth withal,
So that the man is overal
His oghne cause of wel and wo.
That we fortune clepe so
[Pg 20]
Out of the man himself it groweth;
And who that other wise troweth, 550
Behold the poeple of Irael:141
For evere whil thei deden wel,
Fortune was hem debonaire,
And whan thei deden the contraire,
Fortune was contrariende.
So that it proeveth wel at ende
Why that the world is wonderfull
And may no while stonde full,
Though that it seme wel besein;
For every worldes thing is vein, 560
And evere goth the whiel aboute,
And evere stant a man in doute,
Fortune stant no while stille,
So hath ther noman al his wille.
Als fer as evere a man may knowe,142
Ther lasteth nothing bot a throwe;
Boicius. O quam dulcedo humane vite multa amaritudine aspersa est!
The world stant evere upon debat,
So may be seker non astat,
P. i. 23
Now hier now ther, now to now fro,
Now up now down, this world goth so, 570
And evere hath don and evere schal:
Wherof I finde in special
A tale writen in the Bible,
Which moste nedes be credible;
And that as in conclusioun
Seith that upon divisioun
Stant, why no worldes thing mai laste,
Til it be drive to the laste.
And fro the ferste regne of alle143
Into this day, hou so befalle, 580
Of that the regnes be muable
The man himself hath be coupable,
Which of his propre governance
Fortuneth al the worldes chance.
[Pg 21]
[Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream.]
v. Prosper et aduersus obliquo tramite versus
Immundus mundus decipit omne genus.
Mundus in euentu versatur vt alea casu,144
Quam celer in ludis iactat auara manus.145
Sicut ymago viri variantur tempora mundi,
Statque nichil firmum preter amare deum.146
The hyhe almyhti pourveance,
In whos eterne remembrance
Fro ferst was every thing present,
He hath his prophecie sent,147
In such a wise as thou schalt hiere,
To Daniel of this matiere, 590
Hic in prologo tractat de Statua illa, quam Rex Nabugodonosor viderat in sompnis, cuius caput aureum, pectus argenteum, venter eneus, tibie ferree, pedum vero quedam pars ferrea, quedam fictilis videbatur, sub qua membrorum diuersitate secundum Danielis exposicionem huius mundi variacio figurabatur.
Hou that this world schal torne and wende,
Till it be falle to his ende;148
Wherof the tale telle I schal,
In which it is betokned al.
P. i. 24
As Nabugodonosor slepte,
A swevene him tok, the which he kepte
Til on the morwe he was arise,
For he therof was sore agrise.
To Daniel his drem he tolde,
And preide him faire that he wolde 600
Arede what it tokne may;
And seide: ‘Abedde wher I lay,
Me thoghte I syh upon a Stage
Wher stod a wonder strange ymage.
His hed with al the necke also
Thei were of fin gold bothe tuo;
His brest, his schuldres and his armes
Were al of selver, bot the tharmes,149
The wombe and al doun to the kne,
Of bras thei were upon to se;150 610
The legges were al mad of Stiel,151
So were his feet also somdiel,
And somdiel part to hem was take
Of Erthe which men Pottes make;
[Pg 22]
Hic narrat vlterius de quodam lapide grandi,152 qui, vt in dicto sompnio videbatur, ab excelso monte super statuam corruens ipsam quasi in nichilum penitus contriuit.
The fieble meynd was with the stronge,
So myhte it wel noght stonde longe.153
And tho me thoghte that I sih
A gret ston from an hull on hyh154
Fel doun of sodein aventure
Upon the feet of this figure, 620
With which Ston al tobroke was
Gold, Selver, Erthe, Stiel and Bras,
That al was in to pouldre broght,
And so forth torned into noght.’
P. i. 25
Hic loquitur de interpretacione sompnii, et primo dicit155 de significacione capitis aurei.
This was the swevene which he hadde,
That Daniel anon aradde,
And seide him that figure strange
Betokneth how the world schal change
And waxe lasse worth and lasse,
Til it to noght al overpasse. 630
The necke and hed, that weren golde,
He seide how that betokne scholde
A worthi world, a noble, a riche,
To which non after schal be liche.
De pectore argenteo.
Of Selver that was overforth
Schal ben a world of lasse worth;
De ventre eneo.
And after that the wombe of Bras
Tokne of a werse world it was.
De tibeis ferreis.
The Stiel which he syh afterward
A world betokneth more hard: 640
De significacione pedum, qui ex duabus materiis discordantibus adinuicem diuisi extiterant.
Bot yet the werste of everydel
Is last, whan that of Erthe and Stiel
He syh the feet departed so,
For that betokneth mochel wo.
Whan that the world divided is,
It moste algate fare amis,
For Erthe which is meynd with Stiel
Togedre may noght laste wiel,
Bot if that on that other waste;
So mot it nedes faile in haste. 650
De lapidis statuam confringentis significacione.
The Ston, which fro the hully Stage
[Pg 23]
He syh doun falle on that ymage,
And hath it into pouldre broke,
That swevene hath Daniel unloke,
P. i. 26
And seide how that is goddes myht,
Which whan men wene most upryht
To stonde, schal hem overcaste.
And that is of this world the laste,
And thanne a newe schal beginne,156
Fro which a man schal nevere twinne; 660
[The Empires of the World.]
Or al to peine or al to pes
That world schal lasten endeles.
Hic consequenter scribit qualiter huius seculi regna variis mutacionibus, prout in dicta statua figurabatur, secundum temporum distincciones sencibiliter hactenus diminuuntur.158m
Lo thus expondeth Daniel157
The kynges swevene faire and wel
In Babiloyne the Cite,
Wher that the wiseste of Caldee
Ne cowthen wite what it mente;
Bot he tolde al the hol entente,158
As in partie it is befalle.
De seculo aureo, quod in capite statue designatum est, a tempore ipsius Nabugodonosor Regis Caldee vsque in regnum Ciri Regis Persarum.
Of gold the ferste regne of alle 670
Was in that kinges time tho,
And laste manye daies so,
Therwhiles that the Monarchie
Of al the world in that partie
To Babiloyne was soubgit;
And hield him stille in such a plit,
Til that the world began diverse:
And that was whan the king of Perse,
Which Cirus hyhte, ayein the pes
Forth with his Sone Cambises 680
Of Babiloine al that Empire,159
Ryht as thei wolde hemself desire,
Put under in subjeccioun160
And tok it in possessioun,
P. i. 27
And slayn was Baltazar the king,
Which loste his regne and al his thing.
And thus whan thei it hadde wonne,
De seculo argenteo, quod in pectore designatum est, a tempore ipsius Regis Ciri vsque in regnum Alexandri Regis Macedonie.
The world of Selver was begonne
[Pg 24]
And that of gold was passed oute:
And in this wise it goth aboute 690
In to the Regne of Darius;
And thanne it fell to Perse thus,
That Alisaundre put hem under,
Which wroghte of armes many a wonder,
So that the Monarchie lefte
With Grecs, and here astat uplefte,
And Persiens gon under fote,
So soffre thei that nedes mote.161
De seculo eneo, quod in ventre designatum est, a tempore ipsius Alexandri vsque in regnum Iulii Romanorum Imparatoris.
And tho the world began of Bras,
And that of selver ended was; 700
Bot for the time thus it laste,
Til it befell that ate laste
This king, whan that his day was come,
With strengthe of deth was overcome.
And natheles yet er he dyde,162
He schop his Regnes to divide
To knyhtes whiche him hadde served,
And after that thei have deserved
Yaf the conquestes that he wan;
Wherof gret werre tho began 710
Among hem that the Regnes hadde,
Thurgh proud Envie which hem ladde,
Til it befell ayein hem thus:
The noble Cesar Julius,
P. i. 28
Which tho was king of Rome lond,
With gret bataille and with strong hond
Al Grece, Perse and ek Caldee
Wan and put under, so that he163
Noght al only of thorient
Bot al the Marche of thoccident164 720
Governeth under his empire,
As he that was hol lord and Sire,
And hield thurgh his chivalerie165
Of al this world the Monarchie,166
And was the ferste of that honour
Which tok the name of Emperour.
[Pg 25]
De seculo ferreo, quod in tibeis designatum est, a tempore Iulii vsque in167 regnum Karoli magni Regis Francorum.168m
Wher Rome thanne wolde assaille,
Ther myhte nothing contrevaille,
Bot every contre moste obeie:
Tho goth the Regne of Bras aweie, 730
And comen is the world of Stiel,
And stod above upon the whiel.168
As Stiel is hardest in his kynde
Above alle othre that men finde
Of Metals, such was Rome tho
The myhtieste, and laste so
Long time amonges the Romeins
Til thei become so vileins,
That the fals Emperour Leo169
With Constantin his Sone also 740
The patrimoine and the richesse,
Which to Silvestre in pure almesse
The ferste Constantinus lefte,
Fro holy cherche thei berefte.
P. i. 29
Bot Adrian, which Pope was,170
And syh the meschief of this cas,
Goth in to France forto pleigne,
And preith the grete Charlemeine,
For Cristes sake and Soule hele
That he wol take the querele171 750
Of holy cherche in his defence.
And Charles for the reverence
Of god the cause hath undertake,
And with his host the weie take172
Over the Montz of Lombardie;
Of Rome and al the tirandie
With blodi swerd he overcom,
And the Cite with strengthe nom;
In such a wise and there he wroghte,
That holy cherche ayein he broghte 760
Into franchise, and doth restore
The Popes lost, and yaf him more:
[Pg 26]And thus whan he his god hath served,
He tok, as he wel hath deserved,173
The Diademe and was coroned.
Of Rome and thus was abandoned
Thempire, which cam nevere ayein
Into the hond of no Romein;174
Bot a long time it stod so stille
Under the Frensche kynges wille, 770
Til that fortune hir whiel so ladde,
That afterward Lombardz it hadde,
Noght be the swerd, bot be soffrance
Of him that tho was kyng of France,
P. i. 30
Which Karle Calvus cleped was;
And he resigneth in this cas
Thempire of Rome unto Lowis
His Cousin, which a Lombard is.
De seculo nouissimis iam temporibus ad similitudinem pedum in discordiam lapso et diuiso, quod post decessum ipsius Karoli, cum imperium Romanorum in manus Longobardorum peruenerat,175 tempore Alberti et Berengarii incepit: nam ob eorum diuisionem contigit, vt Almanni imperatoriam adepti sunt maiestatem. In cuius solium quendam principem theotonicum Othonera nomine sublimari primitus constituerunt. Et ab illo regno incipiente diuisio per vniuersum orbem in posteros concreuit, vnde nos ad alterutrum diuisi huius seculi consummacionem iam vltimi expectamus.
And so hit laste into the yeer
Of Albert and of Berenger; 780
Bot thanne upon dissencioun
Thei felle, and in divisioun
Among hemself that were grete,
So that thei loste the beyete
Of worschipe and of worldes pes.
Bot in proverbe natheles
Men sein, ful selden is that welthe
Can soffre his oghne astat in helthe;
And that was on the Lombardz sene,
Such comun strif was hem betwene 790
Thurgh coveitise and thurgh Envie,
That every man drowh his partie,
Which myhte leden eny route,
Withinne Burgh and ek withoute:
The comun ryht hath no felawe,
So that the governance of lawe
Was lost, and for necessite,
Of that thei stode in such degre
Al only thurgh divisioun,
[Pg 27]
Hem nedeth in conclusioun 800
Of strange londes help beside.
And thus for thei hemself divide
And stonden out of reule unevene,
Of Alemaine Princes sevene176
P. i. 31
Thei chose in this condicioun,
That upon here eleccioun
Thempire of Rome scholde stonde.
And thus thei lefte it out of honde
For lacke of grace, and it forsoke,
That Alemans upon hem toke: 810
And to confermen here astat,
Of that thei founden in debat177
Thei token the possessioun
After the composicioun
Among hemself, and therupon
Thei made an Emperour anon,
Whos name as the Cronique telleth
Was Othes; and so forth it duelleth,
Fro thilke day yit unto this
Thempire of Rome hath ben and is 820
[The latest Time.]
To thalemans. And in this wise,178
As ye tofore have herd divise
How Daniel the swevene expondeth179
Of that ymage, on whom he foundeth
The world which after scholde falle,
Come is the laste tokne of alle;
Upon the feet of Erthe and Stiel
So stant this world now everydiel
Departed; which began riht tho,
Whan Rome was divided so: 830
And that is forto rewe sore,
For alway siththe more and more
The world empeireth every day.
Wherof the sothe schewe may,
P. i. 32
At Rome ferst if we beginne:
[Pg 28]
The wall and al the Cit withinne180
Stant in ruine and in decas,181
The feld is wher the Paleis was,182
The toun is wast; and overthat,
If we beholde thilke astat 840
Which whilom was of the Romeins,
Of knyhthode and of Citezeins,
To peise now with that beforn,
The chaf is take for the corn,183
As forto speke of Romes myht:184
Unethes stant ther oght upryht
Of worschipe or of worldes good,
As it before tyme stod.
And why the worschipe is aweie,
If that a man the sothe seie,185 850
[Division the Cause of Evil.]
The cause hath ben divisioun,
Which moder of confusioun
Is wher sche cometh overal,
Noght only of the temporal
Bot of the spirital also.
The dede proeveth it is so,
And hath do many day er this,
Thurgh venym which that medled is
In holy cherche of erthly thing:
For Crist himself makth knowleching 860
That noman may togedre serve
God and the world, bot if he swerve
Froward that on and stonde unstable;
And Cristes word may noght be fable.
P. i. 33
The thing so open is at ÿe,186
It nedeth noght to specefie
Or speke oght more in this matiere;
Bot in this wise a man mai lere
Hou that the world is gon aboute,187
[Pg 29]
The which welnyh is wered oute, 870
After the forme of that figure
Which Daniel in his scripture
Expondeth, as tofore is told.188
Of Bras, of Selver and of Gold
The world is passed and agon,
And now upon his olde ton
It stant of brutel Erthe and Stiel,
The whiche acorden nevere a diel;
So mot it nedes swerve aside
As thing the which men sen divide. 880
Hic dicit secundum apostolum, quod nos sumus in quos fines seculi deuenerunt.
Thapostel writ unto ous alle
And seith that upon ous is falle
Thende of the world; so may we knowe,
This ymage is nyh overthrowe,
Be which this world was signified,
That whilom was so magnefied,
And now is old and fieble and vil,
Full of meschief and of peril,
And stant divided ek also
Lich to the feet that were so, 890
As I tolde of the Statue above.
And this men sen, thurgh lacke of love189
Where as the lond divided is,
It mot algate fare amis:
P. i. 34
And now to loke on every side,
A man may se the world divide,
The werres ben so general
Among the cristene overal,
That every man now secheth wreche,
And yet these clerkes alday preche190 900
And sein, good dede may non be
Which stant noght upon charite:
I not hou charite may stonde,
Wher dedly werre is take on honde.
Bot al this wo is cause of man,
The which that wit and reson can,
And that in tokne and in witnesse
[Pg 30]
That ilke ymage bar liknesse
Of man and of non other beste.
For ferst unto the mannes heste 910
Was every creature ordeined,
Bot afterward it was restreigned:191
Whan that he fell, thei fellen eke,
Whan he wax sek, thei woxen seke;
For as the man hath passioun
Of seknesse, in comparisoun
So soffren othre creatures.
Hic scribit quod ex diuisionis passione singula creata detrimentum corruptibile paciuntur.
Lo, ferst the hevenly figures,
The Sonne and Mone eclipsen bothe,
And ben with mannes senne wrothe; 920
The purest Eir for Senne alofte
Hath ben and is corrupt fulofte,
Right now the hyhe wyndes blowe,192
And anon after thei ben lowe,
P. i. 35
Now clowdy and now clier it is:
So may it proeven wel be this,
A mannes Senne is forto hate,
Which makth the welkne to debate.
And forto se the proprete
Of every thyng in his degree, 930
Benethe forth among ous hiere
Al stant aliche in this matiere:
The See now ebbeth, now it floweth,
The lond now welketh, now it groweth,193
Now be the Trees with leves grene,
Now thei be bare and nothing sene,
Now be the lusti somer floures,194
Now be the stormy wynter shoures,
Now be the daies, now the nyhtes,195
So stant ther nothing al upryhtes, 940
Now it is lyht, now it is derk;
And thus stant al the worldes werk
[Pg 31]
After the disposicioun
Of man and his condicioun.
Forthi Gregoire in his Moral
Seith that a man in special196
The lasse world is properly:
And that he proeveth redely;
For man of Soule resonable
Is to an Angel resemblable,197 950
And lich to beste he hath fielinge,
And lich to Trees he hath growinge;
The Stones ben and so is he:
Thus of his propre qualite
P. i. 36
The man, as telleth the clergie,
Is as a world in his partie,
And whan this litel world mistorneth,198
The grete world al overtorneth.
The Lond, the See, the firmament,
Thei axen alle jugement 960
Ayein the man and make him werre:
Therwhile himself stant out of herre,
The remenant wol noght acorde:199
And in this wise, as I recorde,
The man is cause of alle wo,
Why this world is divided so.200
Hic dicit secundum euangelium, quod omne regnum in se diuisum desolabitur.
Division, the gospell seith,201
On hous upon another leith,
Til that the Regne al overthrowe:
And thus may every man wel knowe, 970
Division aboven alle
Is thing which makth the world to falle,
And evere hath do sith it began.
Quod ex sue complexionis materia diuisus homo mortalis existat.202
It may ferst proeve upon a man;
The which, for his complexioun
Is mad upon divisioun
Of cold, of hot, of moist, of drye,
He mot be verray kynde dye:
For the contraire of his astat
[Pg 32]
Stant evermore in such debat, 980
Til that o part be overcome,
Ther may no final pes be nome.203
Bot other wise, if a man were
Mad al togedre of o matiere
P. i. 37
Withouten interrupcioun,
Ther scholde no corrupcioun
Engendre upon that unite:
Bot for ther is diversite
Withinne himself, he may noght laste,
That he ne deieth ate laste. 990
Quod homo ex corporis et anime condicione diuisus, sicut saluacionis ita et dampnacionis aptitudinem ingreditur.
Bot in a man yit over this
Full gret divisioun ther is,
Thurgh which that he is evere in strif,
Whil that him lasteth eny lif:
The bodi and the Soule also
Among hem ben divided so,
That what thing that the body hateth
The soule loveth and debateth;
Bot natheles fulofte is sene
Of werre which is hem betwene 1000
The fieble hath wonne the victoire.
Qualiter Adam a statu innocencie diuisus a paradiso voluptatis in terram laboris peccator proiectus est.
And who so drawth into memoire
What hath befalle of old and newe,
He may that werre sore rewe,
Which ferst began in Paradis:
For ther was proeved what it is,
And what desese there it wroghte;
For thilke werre tho forth broghte
The vice of alle dedly Sinne,
Thurgh which division cam inne 1010
Qualiter populi per vniuersum orbem a cultura dei diuisi, Noe cum sua sequela dumtaxat exceptis, diluuio interierunt.
Among the men in erthe hiere,
And was the cause and the matiere
Why god the grete flodes sende,
Of al the world and made an ende
P. i. 38
Bot Noë with his felaschipe,
Which only weren saulf be Schipe.
And over that thurgh Senne it com
[Pg 33]
Qualiter in edificacione turris Babel, quam in dei contemptum Nembrot erexit, lingua prius hebraica in varias linguas celica vindicta diuidebatur.
That Nembrot such emprise nom,204
Whan he the Tour Babel on heihte205
Let make, as he that wolde feihte 1020
Ayein the hihe goddes myht,
Wherof divided anon ryht
Was the langage in such entente,
Ther wiste non what other mente,
So that thei myhten noght procede.
And thus it stant of every dede,
Wher Senne takth the cause on honde,
It may upriht noght longe stonde;
For Senne of his condicioun206
Is moder of divisioun 1030
Qualiter mundus, qui in statu diuisionis quasi cotidianis presenti tempore vexatur207 flagellis, a lapide superueniente, id est a diuina potencia vsque ad resolucionem omnis carnis subito conteretur.
And tokne whan the world schal faile.
For so seith Crist withoute faile,
That nyh upon the worldes ende
Pes and acord awey schol wende
And alle charite schal cesse,
Among the men and hate encresce;
And whan these toknes ben befalle,
Al sodeinly the Ston schal falle,208
As Daniel it hath beknowe,
Which al this world schal overthrowe, 1040
And every man schal thanne arise
To Joie or elles to Juise,
Wher that he schal for evere dwelle,
Or straght to hevene or straght to helle.
P. i. 39
In hevene is pes and al acord,
Bot helle is full of such descord
That ther may be no loveday:
Forthi good is, whil a man may,
Echon to sette pes with other
And loven as his oghne brother; 1050
So may he winne worldes welthe
And afterward his soule helthe.
Hic narrat exemplum de concordia et vnitate inter homines prouocanda; et dicit qualiter quidam Arion nuper Citharista ex sui cantus cithareque consona melodia tante virtutis extiterat, vt ipse non solum virum cum viro, set eciam leonem cum cerua, lupum cum agna, canem cum lepore, ipsum audientes vnanimiter absque vlla discordia adinuicem pacificauit.
Bot wolde god that now were on
An other such as Arion,209
[Pg 34]
Which hadde an harpe of such temprure,
And therto of so good mesure
He song, that he the bestes wilde
Made of his note tame and milde,
The Hinde in pes with the Leoun,
The Wolf in pes with the Moltoun, 1060
The Hare in pees stod with the Hound;
And every man upon this ground
Which Arion that time herde,
Als wel the lord as the schepherde,
He broghte hem alle in good acord;
So that the comun with the lord,
And lord with the comun also,
He sette in love bothe tuo
And putte awey malencolie.
That was a lusti melodie, 1070
Whan every man with other low;
And if ther were such on now,
Which cowthe harpe as he tho dede,
He myhte availe in many a stede
P. i. 40
To make pes wher now is hate;
For whan men thenken to debate,
I not what other thing is good.
Bot wher that wisdom waxeth wod,210
And reson torneth into rage,
So that mesure upon oultrage 1080
Hath set his world, it is to drede;
For that bringth in the comun drede,
Which stant at every mannes Dore:
Bot whan the scharpnesse of the spore
The horse side smit to sore,
It grieveth ofte. And now nomore,
As forto speke of this matiere,211
Which non bot only god may stiere.212

Explicit Prologus


[24a]The text is that of F (Fairfax 3). The MSS. most commonly cited are the following:—

Of the first recension, A (Bodley 902), J (St. John’s Coll. Camb. B 12), M (Camb. Univ. Mm. 2. 21), E₂ (Egerton 913), H₁ (Harleian 3490), Y (Marquess of Bute’s), X (Soc. of Antiquaries 134), G (Glasgow, Hunterian Mus. S i. 7), E (Egerton 1991), R (Reg. 18 C xxii.), C (Corpus Christi Coll. Oxf. 67), L (Laud 609), B₂ (Bodley 693).

Of the second, S (Stafford), Ad. (Brit. Mus. Addit. 12043), B (Bodley 294), T (Trin. Coll. Camb. R 3. 2), Δ (Sidney Coll. Camb. Δ 4. 1).

Of the third, F (Fairfax 3), W (Wadham Coll. 13), K (Keswick Hall), H₃ (Harl. 7184), Magd. (Magdalen Coll. Oxf. 213).

24 5 ff. time, write, wise, &c., S
25 6 Do ME₂H₁, SΛ, FWKH₃ So JXGRB₂, B To CL
26 7 Essampled (Ensampled) JME₂H₁, SΛ, FWKH₃ Ensamples X ... B₂ &c., B
27 8 awyse F a wise S
28 15 rede om B
29 23 Englisch S
30 24-92 These lines are found in copies of the third recension (FH₂NKH₃Magd.W &c.) and also in SΛP₂. The rest have 24*-92*. The marginal note, ‘Hic in principio—destinauit,’ is found only in Λ, KH₃Magd. Of these, Magd. has in principio libri for in principio, and Λ gives quarto for sexto.
31 28 on] in S
32 29, 30 Two lines omitted in S
33 33 nouȝt S, F
34 38 Writing ... belouyd S
35 41 no man S
36 46 schiewe S
37 47 essampled S
38 49 tirantie S
39 51 is þe writing S
40 52 bural S
41 63 Tho write S
42 68 wise man S
43 71 no man S
44 72 allone S
45 75 awonder F
46 76 awys man F a wise man S
47 80 officie F
48 24*-92* All variations from B are noted.
49 24* book B
50 25* bilongeþ B
51 27* euer B
52 29* f. recomaunde ... comaunde B
53 31* Prayend B
54 36* bityde B
55 37* margin Regis Anglie Ricardi secundi erased in B leaving blank
56 38* took B
57 39* Themese G Themse R
58 40* by B
59 42* margin sed B
60 43* bifel B
61 43* f. neigh ... seigh B
62 45* margin Cronicarum historiis XG
63 47* seyde B
64 48* leyde B
65 49* busynesse B
66 51* booke B
67 52* mighte looke B
68 53* f. writyng ... comaundyng B
69 55* hert B
70 59* Wiþout B
71 62* noon B
72 65* handeleþ B onkrong euery H₁ outkrong euery JME₂XGRCL outkroud euery B₂ outtrong euery Ar outkrong eny B out wronge ony Cath.
73 66* pray B heuene GR heuen B
74 69* bifalle B
75 75* Which JME₂XGCL What H₁RB₂, B byt B
76 76* ffor þy B
77 77* it might (it myht) JME₂CL it may GRB₂, B I may H₁ Sn it XCath.
78 78* to do trauayle G
79 80* long B
80 81* byheste B
81 82* book B
82 87* bygynneþ B
83 89* f. book ... took B
84 92* bygynne B
85 92* for to newe JME₂H₁XGR, B for the newe D Ar. for to schewe CLB₂
86 Latin Verses ii. 2 antūnas ... vrbe S
87 6 ff. tunc que ... Nunc que ... Pace que ... sic que F
88 8 subficta S
89 96 margin videlicet—sexto decimo inserted only in MSS. of the third recension, FWKH₃ &c. S has instead of it (after space of one line), Nota quod tempore creacionis huius libri fuerunt guerre et opiniones guerrarum tam in sancta Cristi ecclesia quam per singula mundi regna quasi vniuersaliter diuulgate. Quapropter in hoc presenti prologo euentus tam graues scriptor per singulos gradus specialiter deplangit. So Λ without space and with dei for Cristi
90 109 which JME₂CL, FKH₃ wiþ H₁XGRB₂, SBΛ, W
91 113 word JME₂B₂, Λ, FWK &c. world H₁XGRCL &c., SB
92 115 vnenuied JME₂, S, FWK &c. vneuened Λ noon enuyed (non enuied) H₁ ... B₂, B
93 124 comun GC, S comune B, F
94 127 the] þat H₁RB₂, B
95 143 a weer S a wer B aweer F
96 144 A begins here
97 147 S has lost a leaf, ll. 147-320
98 149 which A, B whiche F
99 155 his om. B
100 157 aman F
101 159 stoden AJME₂L, Δ, FKH₃ stonden H₁ ... RB₂ &c., BΛ, W
102 169 loue AJME₂XL, FWKH₃ it E, B om. H₁RB₂Sn
103 Latin Verses iii. 8 tepente JE₂, ΔΛ, FWKH₃ repente AMH₁ ... B₂ B, Magd.
104 10 Predo que F
105 194 ff. margin De statu—antipape om. AE₂ videlicet—antipape inserted in third recension only (different hand in F)
106 201 ertly F
107 205 an honde R, B anhonde H₁B₂
108 210 prebende A, Λ
109 215 for om. XGLB₂, WH₃
110 219 worþy(-i) H₁ERLB₂, B worlde W
111 234 Petrus H₁E ... B₂, W Petris XG
112 249 wich F
113 260 to þe manhod(e) AJME₂, ΔΛ, FW to m. H₁ ... B₂, B to make m. KH₃
114 267 þe FKH₃Magd. þat A ... B₂ &c., BΔΛ om. W
115 280 paciencie F
116 317 povere] pore þei (þai) CL, W (pouere þey)
117 321 S resumes
118 331 Copies of first and second recensions have here in margin Anno domini Millesimo CCCo Nonagesimo. S gives this with the addition quia tunc erat ecclesia diuisa and so also RSnDAr, Δ F has an erasure in the margin.
119 336 lyþ F (in ras.) KH₃Magd. is A ... B₂ &c., SBΔΛ
120 338 flitte AXGCL
121 341 whiche F
122 347 proud A, SB proude C, F
123 354 that] what EB₂, B
124 370 argumeten F
125 373 This ... þat AJM, SΛ, F &c. This ... þis E₂X ... B₂, B The ... this H₁
126 396 pricke om. A
127 409 forcacche AME₂, SΔΛ, FWKH₃ forþ cacche H₁ ... B₂, B for tacche (?) J
128 410 Her Orf] Herof (Here of) RCSn, Δ Wheorof H₁ Therof Λ
129 419 com FK
130 421 folk EC, W
131 450 thei] men B
132 453 apeyre AM
133 457 vnto mannes soule is AME₂ is to mannes synne B
134 486 he om. AM
135 487 as AJME₂, SΔ, FKH₃ þat H₁ ... B₂, B is W
136 495-498 Four lines found only in third recension copies FWKH₃ &c.
137 501 margin mutabilia accidencium H₁RB₂, B accidencia mutabilia X
138 510 euere (euer) AME₂X, SΔΛ, FKH₃ euery JH₁RB₂, W eny CL, B
139 518 argument B
140 543 scholde A, B, K schold S, F
141 551 Irael JM, S, FH₂N: the rest Israel
142 565 aman F
143 579-584 Six lines found only in third recension: cp. 495
144 Latin Verses v. 3 vesatur vt H₁RB₂, B vesatur et CL
145 4 ictat H₁R, B
146 6 line om. H₁RB₂Sn, B
147 588 send F
148 592 befalle F
149 608 the tharmes] þe armes M, Δ tharmes B₂, H₃Magd.
150 610 weren on AX
151 611 made al AMH₁
152 618 margin grandi] gracia dei (grā dī) RB₂Sn
153 616 nought wel KH₃ nought (om. wel) AM, W (nat)
154 618 on] an B
155 627 margin dicit om. B
156 659 schal a newe H₁ ... B₂, B
157 663 expondeþ S, FK al. expoundeþ
158 668 al om. H₁RB₂, B hol B, F hole AC
158m 668 margin diminuntur F
159 681 al] of AMERB₂, B om. H₁
160 683 in om. AM
161 698 nedes] soffre (suffre) ME, B
162 705 or B
163 718 putte A
164 720 of Occident XE, B
165 723 chiualrie F
166 724 this] þe H₁XGCL, W
167 730 margin vsque ad H₁ ... B₂, B
168 732 stant H₁ ... B₂, B
168m 732 margin Francie H₁ ... B₂, B
169 739 þe fals Emperour AJMXGCL, SΔ, FKH₃ þe Emp. fals H₁ERB₂ þe emperour B
170 745 Bot] Good (God) GCL And H₁
171 750 wolde MH₁XGCL, Δ
172 754 haþ take B did take Δ
173 764 as he haþ wel ERB₂, SBΔΛ wel as he hath H₁
174 768 the om. B
175 785 margin peruenerit H₁ ... RLB₂, B peruenit C
176 804 Almanie A
177 812 founden AJME₂, SΔΛ, FWH₃ stonden X ... R, B stoden H₁CLB₂
178 821 To þe almains X ... B₂, BΔ To Almayns H₁
179 823 expondeþ S, FKH₃ al. expoundeþ
180 836 al þe Cit S, F al þe cite (citee) A ... B₂, BΔΛ, KH₃ the cite W Magd. al the toune H₁
181 837 f. deces ... wes ECL, B deues ... was H₁Sn deues ... wes RB₂
182 838 wher] þer AME₂H₁
183 844 fro (from) H₁ERB₂, B, W Magd.
184 845 And for to Λ, Magd. And so to H₁EB₂, B And so R As to L
185 850 soþe XGSn, FWKH₃ soþ schal AJMH₁ERCLB₂, SBΔΛ
186 865 line om. B
187 869 þis world MH₁ ... B₂, B
188 873 Expondeþ S, FK
189 892 this] þus AMH₁X, H₃
190 900 these] þis AM ... E, B, W
191 912 Bot] ffor H₁ERB₂, B
192 923 hyhe] while H₁ERB₂, B
193 934 welweþ AJM, W (weloweth)
194 937 f. the ... the] þei ... þei (þay ... þay) AH₁ERB₂, B þer ... þer CL þese ... þey X þe ... þey G
195 939 þei (þay) daies H₁ ... R, B now the nyhtes] now be þe n. MCB₂, Δ now be þey (thei) n. H₁XG
196 946 aman F
197 950 Is to an] It is an H₁ERB₂, B
198 957 mistormeþ FKH₃
199 963 stant out of acord(e) H₁ERB₂, B
200 966 Why] Wiþ RCLB₂
201 967 as þe g. s. AG, W
202 976 margin existit A
203 982 be nome] benome FKH₃
204 1018 suche prise H₁ERB₂, B
205 1019 he om. RLB₂, B, W that H₁
206 1029 condicion F
207 1033 margin vexat H₁ERB₂, B
208 1038 And A
209 1055 S has lost a leaf (1055—i. 106)
210 1078 waxed FK
211 1087 As] And YERSn, B om. B₂
212 1088 god only may H₁ER, B god may only B₂

[Pg 35]

Incipit Liber Primus

[Love rules the World.]
P. i. 41
i. Naturatus amor nature legibus orbem
Subdit, et vnanimes concitat esse feras:
Huius enim mundi Princeps amor esse videtur,
Cuius eget diues, pauper et omnis ope.
Sunt in agone pares amor et fortuna, que cecas
Plebis ad insidias vertit vterque rotas.
Est amor egra salus, vexata quies, pius error,
Bellica pax, vulnus dulce, suaue malum.
I may noght strecche up to the hevene213
Min hand, ne setten al in evene
This world, which evere is in balance:
It stant noght in my sufficance
So grete thinges to compasse,
Bot I mot lete it overpasse
And treten upon othre thinges.
Forthi the Stile of my writinges214
Postquam in Prologo tractatum hactenus existit, qualiter hodierne condicionis diuisio caritatis dileccionem superauit, intendit216 auctor ad presens suum libellum, cuius nomen Confessio Amantis nuncupatur, componere de illo amore, a quo non solum humanum genus, sed eciam cuncta animancia naturaliter subiciuntur. Et quia non nulli amantes ultra quam expedit desiderii passionibus crebro217 stimulantur, materia libri per totum super hiis specialius diffunditur.218
Fro this day forth I thenke change
And speke of thing is noght so strange,215 10
P. i. 42
Which every kinde hath upon honde,
And wherupon the world mot stonde,
And hath don sithen it began,
And schal whil ther is any man;
And that is love, of which I mene
To trete, as after schal be sene.
In which ther can noman him reule,
For loves lawe is out of reule,
That of tomoche or of tolite
Welnyh is every man to wyte, 20
[Pg 36]And natheles ther is noman
In al this world so wys, that can
Of love tempre the mesure,
Bot as it falth in aventure:
For wit ne strengthe may noght helpe,
And he which elles wolde him yelpe
Is rathest throwen under fote,
Ther can no wiht therof do bote.
For yet was nevere such covine,
That couthe ordeine a medicine 30
To thing which god in lawe of kinde
Hath set, for ther may noman finde
The rihte salve of such a Sor.
It hath and schal ben everemor
That love is maister wher he wile,
Ther can no lif make other skile;
For wher as evere him lest to sette,219
Ther is no myht which him may lette.
Bot what schal fallen ate laste,
The sothe can no wisdom caste, 40
P. i. 43
Bot as it falleth upon chance;
For if ther evere was balance
Which of fortune stant governed,
I may wel lieve as I am lerned
That love hath that balance on honde,
Which wol no reson understonde.
For love is blind and may noght se,
Forthi may no certeinete
Be set upon his jugement,
Bot as the whiel aboute went220 50
He yifth his graces undeserved,221
And fro that man which hath him served
Fulofte he takth aweye his fees,
As he that pleieth ate Dees,222
And therupon what schal befalle
He not, til that the chance falle,
Wher he schal lese or he schal winne.
[Pg 37]
[Example of the Author.]
Hic quasi in persona aliorum, quos amor alligat, fingens se auctor esse Amantem, varias eorum passiones variis huius libri distinccionibus per singula scribere proponit.
And thus fulofte men beginne,
That if thei wisten what it mente,
Thei wolde change al here entente. 60
And forto proven it is so,
I am miselven on of tho,
Which to this Scole am underfonge.
For it is siththe go noght longe,
As forto speke of this matiere,
I may you telle, if ye woll hiere,
A wonder hap which me befell,
That was to me bothe hard and fell,
Touchende of love and his fortune,
The which me liketh to comune 70
P. i. 44
And pleinly forto telle it oute.
To hem that ben lovers aboute
Fro point to point I wol declare
And wryten of my woful care,
Mi wofull day, my wofull chance,
That men mowe take remembrance223
Of that thei schall hierafter rede:
For in good feith this wolde I rede,
That every man ensample take
Of wisdom which him is betake,224 80
And that he wot of good aprise
To teche it forth, for such emprise
Is forto preise; and therfore I
Woll wryte and schewe al openly
How love and I togedre mette,
Wherof the world ensample fette
Mai after this, whan I am go,
Of thilke unsely jolif wo,
Whos reule stant out of the weie,
Nou glad and nou gladnesse aweie, 90
And yet it may noght be withstonde
For oght that men may understonde.
[His woful case.]
ii. Non ego Sampsonis vires, non Herculis arma
Vinco, sum sed vt hii victus amore pari.
Vt discant alii, docet experiencia facti,
Rebus in ambiguis que sit habenda via.
[Pg 38]
Deuius ordo ducis temptata pericla sequentem225
Instruit a tergo, ne simul ille cadat.
Me quibus ergo Venus, casus, laqueauit amantem,226
Orbis in exemplum scribere tendo palam.
Upon the point that is befalle
Of love, in which that I am falle,
P. i. 45
I thenke telle my matiere:
Now herkne, who that wol it hiere,
Of my fortune how that it ferde.
Hic declarat materiam, dicens qualiter Cupido quodam ignito iaculo sui cordis memoriam graui vlcere perforauit, quod Venus percipiens ipsum, vt dicit, quasi in mortis articulo spasmatum, ad confitendum se Genio sacerdoti super amoris causa sic semiuiuum specialiter commendauit.
This enderday, as I forthferde
To walke, as I yow telle may,—
And that was in the Monthe of Maii, 100
Whan every brid hath chose his make
And thenkth his merthes forto make227
Of love that he hath achieved;
Bot so was I nothing relieved,
For I was further fro my love
Than Erthe is fro the hevene above,
As forto speke of eny sped:228
So wiste I me non other red,
Bot as it were a man forfare229
Unto the wode I gan to fare,230 110
Noght forto singe with the briddes,
For whanne I was the wode amiddes,
I fond a swote grene pleine,
And ther I gan my wo compleigne
Wisshinge and wepinge al myn one,
For other merthes made I none.231
So hard me was that ilke throwe,
That ofte sithes overthrowe
To grounde I was withoute breth;
And evere I wisshide after deth,232 120
Whanne I out of my peine awok,
[Pg 39]
[His complaint to Cupid and Venus.]
And caste up many a pitous lok
Unto the hevene, and seide thus:
‘O thou Cupide, O thou Venus,
P. i. 46
Thou god of love and thou goddesse,
Wher is pite? wher is meknesse?
Now doth me pleinly live or dye,
For certes such a maladie
As I now have and longe have hadd,
It myhte make a wisman madd,233 130
If that it scholde longe endure.
O Venus, queene of loves cure,
Thou lif, thou lust, thou mannes hele,
Behold my cause and my querele,
And yif me som part of thi grace,
So that I may finde in this place
If thou be gracious or non.’
And with that word I sawh anon
The kyng of love and qweene bothe;
Bot he that kyng with yhen wrothe 140
His chiere aweiward fro me caste,
And forth he passede ate laste.
[The Fiery Dart.]
Bot natheles er he forth wente
A firy Dart me thoghte he hente
And threw it thurgh myn herte rote:
In him fond I non other bote,
For lenger list him noght to duelle.
[Venus Queen of Love.]
Bot sche that is the Source and Welle
Of wel or wo, that schal betide
To hem that loven, at that tide 150
Abod, bot forto tellen hiere
Sche cast on me no goodly chiere:
Thus natheles to me sche seide,
‘What art thou, Sone?’ and I abreide
P. i. 47
Riht as a man doth out of slep,
And therof tok sche riht good kep
And bad me nothing ben adrad:
Bot for al that I was noght glad,
For I ne sawh no cause why.
And eft scheo asketh, what was I:234 160
[Pg 40]I seide, ‘A Caitif that lith hiere:235
What wolde ye, my Ladi diere?236
Schal I ben hol or elles dye?’237
Sche seide, ‘Tell thi maladie:238
What is thi Sor of which thou pleignest?239
Ne hyd it noght, for if thou feignest,
I can do the no medicine.’
‘Ma dame, I am a man of thyne,
That in thi Court have longe served,
And aske that I have deserved, 170
Som wele after my longe wo.’
And sche began to loure tho,
And seide, ‘Ther is manye of yow
Faitours, and so may be that thow
Art riht such on, and be feintise
Seist that thou hast me do servise.’
And natheles sche wiste wel,
Mi world stod on an other whiel
Withouten eny faiterie:
Bot algate of my maladie 180
Sche bad me telle and seie hir trowthe.
‘Ma dame, if ye wolde have rowthe,’
Quod I, ‘than wolde I telle yow.’240
‘Sey forth,’ quod sche, ‘and tell me how;
P. i. 48
Schew me thi seknesse everydiel.’
‘Ma dame, that can I do wel,
Be so my lif therto wol laste.’
With that hir lok on me sche caste,
And seide: ‘In aunter if thou live,
Mi will is ferst that thou be schrive; 190
And natheles how that it is
I wot miself, bot for al this
[Genius, the Priest of Love.]
Unto my prest, which comth anon,
I woll thou telle it on and on,
Bothe all thi thoght and al thi werk.
[Pg 41]
O Genius myn oghne Clerk,
Com forth and hier this mannes schrifte,’
Quod Venus tho; and I uplifte
Min hefd with that, and gan beholde
The selve Prest, which as sche wolde241 200
Was redy there and sette him doun
To hiere my confessioun.
iii. Confessus Genio si sit medicina salutis
Experiar morbis, quos tulit ipsa Venus.
Lesa quidem ferro medicantur membra saluti,
Raro tamen medicum vulnus amoris habet.
[The Lover’s Shrift.]
This worthi Prest, this holy man
To me spekende thus began,
And seide: ‘Benedicite,
Mi Sone, of the felicite
Of love and ek of all the wo
Thou schalt thee schrive of bothe tuo.242
Hic dicit qualiter Genio pro Confessore sedenti prouolutus Amans ad confitendum se flexis genibus incuruatur, supplicans tamen, vt ad sui sensus informacionem confessor ille in dicendis opponere sibi benignius dignaretur.
What thou er this for loves sake
Hast felt, let nothing be forsake, 210
P. i. 49
Tell pleinliche as it is befalle.’
And with that word I gan doun falle
On knees, and with devocioun243
And with full gret contricioun
I seide thanne: ‘Dominus,
Min holi fader Genius,
So as thou hast experience
Of love, for whos reverence
Thou schalt me schriven at this time,
I prai the let me noght mistime 220
Mi schrifte, for I am destourbed
In al myn herte, and so contourbed,
That I ne may my wittes gete,
So schal I moche thing foryete:244
Bot if thou wolt my schrifte oppose
Fro point to point, thanne I suppose,
Ther schal nothing be left behinde.245
Bot now my wittes ben so blinde,
That I ne can miselven teche.’
[Pg 42]
Tho he began anon to preche, 230
And with his wordes debonaire
He seide tome softe and faire:246
‘Thi schrifte to oppose and hiere,
Sermo Genii sacerdotis247 super confessione ad Amantem.
My Sone, I am assigned hiere
Be Venus the godesse above,
Whos Prest I am touchende of love.
Bot natheles for certein skile
I mot algate and nedes wile
Noght only make my spekynges
Of love, bot of othre thinges, 240
P. i. 50
That touchen to the cause of vice.
For that belongeth to thoffice
Of Prest, whos ordre that I bere,
So that I wol nothing forbere,
That I the vices on and on
Ne schal thee schewen everychon;
Wherof thou myht take evidence
To reule with thi conscience.
Bot of conclusion final
Conclude I wol in special 250
For love, whos servant I am,
And why the cause is that I cam.
So thenke I to don bothe tuo,
Ferst that myn ordre longeth to,
The vices forto telle arewe,
Bot next above alle othre schewe
Of love I wol the propretes,
How that thei stonde be degrees
After the disposicioun
Of Venus, whos condicioun 260
I moste folwe, as I am holde.
For I with love am al withholde,
So that the lasse I am to wyte,
Thogh I ne conne bot a lyte248
Of othre thinges that ben wise:
I am noght tawht in such a wise;249
[Pg 43]
For it is noght my comun us
To speke of vices and vertus,
Bot al of love and of his lore,
For Venus bokes of nomore 270
P. i. 51
Me techen nowther text ne glose.
Bot for als moche as I suppose
It sit a prest to be wel thewed,
And schame it is if he be lewed,
Of my Presthode after the forme
I wol thi schrifte so enforme,
That ate leste thou schalt hiere250
The vices, and to thi matiere251
Of love I schal hem so remene,
That thou schalt knowe what thei mene. 280
For what a man schal axe or sein252
Touchende of schrifte, it mot be plein,
It nedeth noght to make it queinte,
For trowthe hise wordes wol noght peinte:
That I wole axe of the forthi,
My Sone, it schal be so pleinly,
That thou schalt knowe and understonde
The pointz of schrifte how that thei stonde.’253
[The Five Senses.]
iv. Visus et auditus fragilis sunt ostia mentis,
Que viciosa manus claudere nulla potest.
Est ibi larga via, graditur qua cordis ad antrum
Hostis, et ingrediens fossa talenta rapit.
Hec michi confessor Genius primordia profert,
Dum sit in extremis vita remorsa malis.
Nunc tamen vt poterit semiviua loquela fateri,
Verba per os timide conscia mentis agam.
Betwen the lif and deth I herde
This Prestes tale er I answerde, 290
And thanne I preide him forto seie
His will, and I it wolde obeie
After the forme of his apprise.254
Hic incipit confessio Amantis, cui de duobus precipue quinque sensuum, hoc est de visu et auditu, confessor pre ceteris opponit.
Tho spak he tome in such a wise,255
P. i. 52
And bad me that I scholde schrive256
[Pg 44]
As touchende of my wittes fyve,
And schape that thei were amended
Of that I hadde hem misdispended.257
For tho be proprely the gates,
Thurgh whiche as to the herte algates 300
Comth alle thing unto the feire,
Which may the mannes Soule empeire.
And now this matiere is broght inne,
Mi Sone, I thenke ferst beginne
To wite how that thin yhe hath stonde,
The which is, as I understonde,
The moste principal of alle,
Thurgh whom that peril mai befalle.
And forto speke in loves kinde,
Ful manye suche a man mai finde,258 310
Whiche evere caste aboute here yhe,
To loke if that thei myhte aspie
Fulofte thing which hem ne toucheth,
Bot only that here herte soucheth
In hindringe of an other wiht;
And thus ful many a worthi knyht
And many a lusti lady bothe
Have be fulofte sythe wrothe.259
So that an yhe is as a thief
To love, and doth ful gret meschief; 320
And also for his oghne part
Fulofte thilke firy Dart
Of love, which that evere brenneth,
Thurgh him into the herte renneth:
P. i. 53
And thus a mannes yhe ferst
Himselve grieveth alther werst,
And many a time that he knoweth
Unto his oghne harm it groweth.
Mi Sone, herkne now forthi
A tale, to be war therby 330
Thin yhe forto kepe and warde,
So that it passe noght his warde.
[Pg 45]
[Tale of Acteon.]
Hic narrat Confessor exemplum260 de visu ab illicitis preseruando, dicens qualiter Acteon Cadmi Regis Thebarum nepos, dum in quadam Foresta venacionis causa spaciaretur,262m accidit vt ipse quendam fontem nemorosa arborum pulcritudine circumuentum superueniens, vidit ibi Dianam cum suis Nimphis nudam in flumine balneantem; quam diligencius intuens oculos suos a muliebri nuditate nullatenus auertere volebat. Vnde indignata Diana ipsum in cerui figuram transformauit; quem canes proprii apprehendentes mortiferis dentibus penitus dilaniarunt.
Ovide telleth in his bok
Ensample touchende of mislok,
And seith hou whilom ther was on,261
A worthi lord, which Acteon
Was hote, and he was cousin nyh
To him that Thebes ferst on hyh
Up sette, which king Cadme hyhte.262
This Acteon, as he wel myhte, 340
Above alle othre caste his chiere,
And used it fro yer to yere,
With Houndes and with grete Hornes
Among the wodes and the thornes
To make his hunting and his chace:
Where him best thoghte in every place
To finde gamen in his weie,
Ther rod he forto hunte and pleie.
So him befell upon a tide263
On his hunting as he cam ride, 350
In a Forest al one he was:
He syh upon the grene gras
The faire freisshe floures springe,264
He herde among the leves singe
P. i. 54
The Throstle with the nyhtingale:265
Thus er he wiste into a Dale
He cam, wher was a litel plein,266
All round aboute wel besein
With buisshes grene and Cedres hyhe;
And ther withinne he caste his yhe. 360
Amidd the plein he syh a welle,
So fair ther myhte noman telle,
In which Diana naked stod
To bathe and pleie hire in the flod
With many a Nimphe, which hire serveth.267
Bot he his yhe awey ne swerveth
Fro hire, which was naked al,
[Pg 46]
And sche was wonder wroth withal,268
And him, as sche which was godesse,
Forschop anon, and the liknesse269 370
Sche made him taken of an Hert,270
Which was tofore hise houndes stert,
That ronne besiliche aboute
With many an horn and many a route,271
That maden mochel noise and cry:
And ate laste unhappely
This Hert his oghne houndes slowhe272
And him for vengance al todrowhe.
Lo now, my Sone, what it is
A man to caste his yhe amis, 380
Which Acteon hath dere aboght;
Be war forthi and do it noght.
For ofte, who that hiede toke,
Betre is to winke than to loke.
P. i. 55
And forto proven it is so,
Ovide the Poete also
A tale which to this matiere
Acordeth seith, as thou schalt hiere.273
[Tale of Medusa.]
Hic ponit aliud exemplum de eodem, vbi dicit quod quidam princeps nomine Phorceus tres progenuit filias, Gorgones a vulgo nuncupatas, que uno partu exorte deformitatem Monstrorum serpentinam obtinuerunt; quibus, cum in etatem peruenerant, talis destinata fuerat natura, quod quicumque in eas aspiceret in lapidem subito mutabatur. Et sic quam plures incaute respicientes visis illis perierunt. Set Perseus miles clipeo Palladis gladioque Mercurii munitus eas extra montem Athlantis cohabitantes animo audaci absque sui periculo interfecit.
In Metamor it telleth thus,
How that a lord which Phorceüs 390
Was hote, hadde dowhtres thre.274
Bot upon here nativite
Such was the constellacion,
That out of mannes nacion
Fro kynde thei be so miswent,
That to the liknesse of Serpent
Thei were bore, and so that on275
Of hem was cleped Stellibon,
That other soster Suriale,
The thridde, as telleth in the tale, 400
Medusa hihte, and natheles
Of comun name Gorgones
[Pg 47]
In every contre ther aboute,
As Monstres whiche that men doute,
Men clepen hem; and bot on yhe
Among hem thre in pourpartie
Thei hadde, of which thei myhte se,
Now hath it this, now hath it sche;
After that cause and nede it ladde,
Be throwes ech of hem it hadde. 410
A wonder thing yet more amis
Ther was, wherof I telle al this:
What man on hem his chiere caste
And hem behield, he was als faste
P. i. 56
Out of a man into a Ston
Forschape, and thus ful manyon
Deceived were, of that thei wolde
Misloke, wher that thei ne scholde.
Bot Perseüs that worthi knyht,
Whom Pallas of hir grete myht 420
Halp, and tok him a Schield therto,
And ek the god Mercurie also
Lente him a swerd, he, as it fell,276
Beyende Athlans the hihe hell
These Monstres soghte, and there he fond277
Diverse men of thilke lond
Thurgh sihte of hem mistorned were,
Stondende as Stones hiere and there.
Bot he, which wisdom and prouesse
Hadde of the god and the godesse,278 430
The Schield of Pallas gan enbrace,
With which he covereth sauf his face,
Mercuries Swerd and out he drowh,
And so he bar him that he slowh
These dredful Monstres alle thre.
Lo now, my Sone, avise the,
That thou thi sihte noght misuse:
Cast noght thin yhe upon Meduse,
That thou be torned into Ston:
For so wys man was nevere non, 440
[Pg 48]Bot if he wel his yhe kepe279
And take of fol delit no kepe,
That he with lust nys ofte nome,
Thurgh strengthe of love and overcome.
P. i. 57
Of mislokynge how it hath ferd,
As I have told, now hast thou herd,
My goode Sone, and tak good hiede.280
And overthis yet I thee rede
That thou be war of thin heringe,
Which to the Herte the tidinge 450
Of many a vanite hath broght,
To tarie with a mannes thoght.
And natheles good is to hiere
Such thing wherof a man may lere281
That to vertu is acordant,
And toward al the remenant
Good is to torne his Ere fro;
For elles, bot a man do so,
Him may fulofte mysbefalle.
I rede ensample amonges alle, 460
Wherof to kepe wel an Ere
It oghte pute a man in fere.
[The Prudence of the Serpent.]
Hic narrat Confessor exemplum, vt non ab auris exaudicione fatua animus deceptus inuoluatur. Et dicit qualiter ille serpens, qui aspis282 vocatur, quendam preciosissimum lapidem nomine Carbunculum in sue frontis medio gestans, contra verba incantantis aurem vnam terre affigendo premit, et aliam sue caude stimulo firmissime283 obturat.
A Serpent, which that Aspidis
Is cleped, of his kynde hath this,
That he the Ston noblest of alle,
The which that men Carbuncle calle,
Berth in his hed above on heihte.
For which whan that a man be sleyhte,
The Ston to winne and him to daunte,
With his carecte him wolde enchaunte, 470
Anon as he perceiveth that,
He leith doun his on Ere al plat
Unto the ground, and halt it faste,
And ek that other Ere als faste
P. i. 58
He stoppeth with his tail so sore,
That he the wordes lasse or more
[Pg 49]
Of his enchantement ne hiereth;
And in this wise himself he skiereth,
So that he hath the wordes weyved
And thurgh his Ere is noght deceived. 480
[Tale of the Sirens.]
Aliud exemplum super eodem, qualiter rex Vluxes cum a bello Troiano versus Greciam nauigio remearet, et prope illa Monstra marina, Sirenes nuncupata, angelica voce canoras, ipsum ventorum aduersitate nauigare oporteret, omnium nautarum suorum aures obturari coegit. Et sic salutari prouidencia prefultus absque periculo saluus cum sua classe Vluxes pertransiuit.
An othre thing, who that recordeth,284
Lich unto this ensample acordeth,
Which in the tale of Troie I finde.
Sirenes of a wonder kynde
Ben Monstres, as the bokes tellen,
And in the grete Se thei duellen:
Of body bothe and of visage
Lik unto wommen of yong age285
Up fro the Navele on hih thei be,
And doun benethe, as men mai se, 490
Thei bere of fisshes the figure.286
And overthis of such nature
Thei ben, that with so swete a stevene
Lik to the melodie of hevene
In wommanysshe vois thei singe,
With notes of so gret likinge,
Of such mesure, of such musike,
Wherof the Schipes thei beswike
That passen be the costes there.
For whan the Schipmen leie an Ere 500
Unto the vois, in here avys
Thei wene it be a Paradys,
Which after is to hem an helle.
For reson may noght with hem duelle,
P. i. 59
Whan thei tho grete lustes hiere;287
Thei conne noght here Schipes stiere,
So besiliche upon the note
Thei herkne, and in such wise assote,
That thei here rihte cours and weie
Foryete, and to here Ere obeie, 510
And seilen til it so befalle
That thei into the peril falle,
[Pg 50]
Where as the Schipes be todrawe,
And thei ben with the Monstres slawe.
Bot fro this peril natheles
With his wisdom king Uluxes
Ascapeth and it overpasseth;
For he tofor the hond compasseth
That noman of his compaignie
Hath pouer unto that folie 520
His Ere for no lust to caste;
For he hem stoppede alle faste,288
That non of hem mai hiere hem singe.
So whan they comen forth seilinge,
Ther was such governance on honde,
That thei the Monstres have withstonde
And slain of hem a gret partie.
Thus was he sauf with his navie,
This wise king, thurgh governance.
[The Sins of the Eye and the Ear.]
Wherof, my Sone, in remembrance 530
Thou myht ensample taken hiere,289
As I have told, and what thou hiere
Be wel war, and yif no credence,
Bot if thou se more evidence.
P. i. 60
For if thou woldest take kepe
And wisly cowthest warde and kepe
Thin yhe and Ere, as I have spoke,
Than haddest thou the gates stoke
Fro such Sotie as comth to winne
Thin hertes wit, which is withinne, 540
Wherof that now thi love excedeth
Mesure, and many a peine bredeth.
Bot if thou cowthest sette in reule
Tho tuo, the thre were eth to reule:
Forthi as of thi wittes five
I wole as now nomore schryve,
Bot only of these ilke tuo.
Tell me therfore if it be so,
Hast thou thin yhen oght misthrowe?290
Mi fader, ye, I am beknowe, 550
[Pg 51]I have hem cast upon Meduse,
Therof I may me noght excuse:
Min herte is growen into Ston,
So that my lady therupon
Hath such a priente of love grave,
That I can noght miselve save.
Opponit Confessor.What seist thou, Sone, as of thin Ere?
Respondet Amans.Mi fader, I am gultyf there;
For whanne I may my lady hiere,
Mi wit with that hath lost his Stiere: 560
I do noght as Uluxes dede,
Bot falle anon upon the stede,
Wher as I se my lady stonde;
And there, I do yow understonde,
P. i. 61
I am topulled in my thoght,
So that of reson leveth noght,
Wherof that I me mai defende.
My goode Sone, god thamende:
For as me thenketh be thi speche
Thi wittes ben riht feer to seche. 570
As of thin Ere and of thin yhe
I woll nomore specefie,
Bot I woll axen overthis
Of othre thing how that it is.
[The Seven deadly Sins. Pride.]
v. Celsior est Aquila que Leone ferocior ille,291
Quem tumor elati cordis ad alta mouet.
Sunt species quinque, quibus esse Superbia ductrix
Clamat, et in multis mundus adheret eis.
Laruando faciem ficto pallore subornat
Fraudibus Ypocrisis mellea verba suis.
Sicque pios animos quamsepe ruit muliebres
Ex humili verbo sub latitante dolo.292
Hic loquitur quod septem sunt peccata mortalia, quorum caput Superbia varias species habet, et earum prima Ypocrisis dicitur, cuius proprietatem secundum vicium simpliciter Confessor Amanti declarat.293
Mi Sone, as I thee schal enforme,
Ther ben yet of an other forme
Of dedly vices sevene applied,
Wherof the herte is ofte plied
To thing which after schal him grieve.
The ferste of hem thou schalt believe294 580
[Pg 52]Is Pride, which is principal,
And hath with him in special
Ministres five ful diverse,
Of whiche, as I the schal reherse,295
[Five Ministers of Pride.
i. Hypocrisy.]
The ferste is seid Ypocrisie.
If thou art of his compaignie,
Tell forth, my Sone, and schrif the clene.
I wot noght, fader, what ye mene:
P. i. 62
Bot this I wolde you beseche,
That ye me be som weie teche 590
What is to ben an ypocrite;
And thanne if I be forto wyte,
I wol beknowen, as it is.296
Mi Sone, an ypocrite is this,—
A man which feigneth conscience,
As thogh it were al innocence,
Withoute, and is noght so withinne;
And doth so for he wolde winne
Of his desir the vein astat.
And whanne he comth anon therat, 600
He scheweth thanne what he was,
The corn is torned into gras,
That was a Rose is thanne a thorn,
And he that was a Lomb beforn297
Is thanne a Wolf, and thus malice
Under the colour of justice
Is hid; and as the poeple telleth,
Ipocrisis Religiosa.298
These ordres witen where he duelleth,
As he that of here conseil is,
And thilke world which thei er this299 610
Forsoken, he drawth in ayein:
He clotheth richesse, as men sein,
Under the simplesce of poverte,
And doth to seme of gret decerte
Thing which is litel worth withinne:
He seith in open, fy! to Sinne,
And in secre ther is no vice
[Pg 53]
Of which that he nis a Norrice:
P. i. 63
And evere his chiere is sobre and softe,
And where he goth he blesseth ofte, 620
Wherof the blinde world he dreccheth.
Bot yet al only he ne streccheth
His reule upon religioun,
Bot next to that condicioun
In suche as clepe hem holy cherche
Ipocrisis ecclesiastica.300
It scheweth ek how he can werche301
Among tho wyde furred hodes,302
To geten hem the worldes goodes.
And thei hemself ben thilke same
That setten most the world in blame,303 630
Bot yet in contraire of her lore
Ther is nothing thei loven more;
So that semende of liht thei werke
The dedes whiche are inward derke.
And thus this double Ypocrisie
With his devolte apparantie
A viser set upon his face,
Wherof toward this worldes grace
He semeth to be riht wel thewed,
And yit his herte is al beschrewed. 640
Bot natheles he stant believed,
And hath his pourpos ofte achieved
Of worschipe and of worldes welthe,
And takth it, as who seith, be stelthe
Thurgh coverture of his fallas.
And riht so in semblable cas
This vice hath ek his officers
Ipocrisis secularis.
Among these othre seculers
P. i. 64
Of grete men, for of the smale
As for tacompte he set no tale, 650
Bot thei that passen the comune
With suche him liketh to comune,
And where he seith he wol socoure
The poeple, there he woll devoure;
For now aday is manyon
[Pg 54]
Which spekth of Peter and of John304
And thenketh Judas in his herte.
Ther schal no worldes good asterte
His hond, and yit he yifth almesse
And fasteth ofte and hiereth Messe: 660
With mea culpa, which he seith,
Upon his brest fullofte he leith
His hond, and cast upward his yhe,
As thogh he Cristes face syhe;
So that it seemeth ate syhte,
As he al one alle othre myhte
Rescoue with his holy bede.
Bot yet his herte in other stede
Among hise bedes most devoute
Goth in the worldes cause aboute, 670
How that he myhte his warisoun
[Hypocrisy of Lovers.]
305Hic tractat Confessor cum Amante super illa presertim Ipocrisia, que sub amoris facie fraudulenter latitando mulieres ipsius ficticiis credulas sepissime decipit innocentes.
And in comparisoun
Ther ben lovers of such a sort,
That feignen hem an humble port,
And al is bot Ypocrisie,
Which with deceipte and flaterie
Hath many a worthi wif beguiled.
For whanne he hath his tunge affiled,
P. i. 65
With softe speche and with lesinge,
Forth with his fals pitous lokynge, 680
He wolde make a womman wene
To gon upon the faire grene,
Whan that sche falleth in the Mir.
For if he may have his desir,
How so falle of the remenant,
He halt no word of covenant;
Bot er the time that he spede,
Ther is no sleihte at thilke nede,
Which eny loves faitour mai,
That he ne put it in assai, 690
As him belongeth forto done.
The colour of the reyni Mone
[Pg 55]
With medicine upon his face
He set, and thanne he axeth grace,
As he which hath sieknesse feigned.
Whan his visage is so desteigned,
With yhe upcast on hire he siketh,
And many a contenance he piketh,
To bringen hire in to believe
Of thing which that he wolde achieve, 700
Wherof he berth the pale hewe;
And for he wolde seme trewe,
He makth him siek, whan he is heil.
Bot whanne he berth lowest the Seil,306
Thanne is he swiftest to beguile
The womman, which that ilke while
Set upon him feith or credence.
Opponit Confessor.
Mi Sone, if thou thi conscience
P. i. 66
Entamed hast in such a wise,
In schrifte thou thee myht avise 710
And telle it me, if it be so.
Respondet Amans.
Min holy fader, certes no.
As forto feigne such sieknesse
It nedeth noght, for this witnesse
I take of god, that my corage
Hath ben mor siek than my visage.
And ek this mai I wel avowe,
So lowe cowthe I nevere bowe
To feigne humilite withoute,
That me ne leste betre loute 720
With alle the thoghtes of myn herte;
For that thing schal me nevere asterte,
I speke as to my lady diere,307
To make hire eny feigned chiere.
God wot wel there I lye noght,
Mi chiere hath be such as my thoght;
For in good feith, this lieveth wel,
Mi will was betre a thousendel
Than eny chiere that I cowthe.
Bot, Sire, if I have in my yowthe 730
Don other wise in other place,
[Pg 56]
I put me therof in your grace:308
For this excusen I ne schal,
That I have elles overal
To love and to his compaignie
Be plein withoute Ypocrisie;
Bot ther is on the which I serve,
Althogh I may no thonk deserve,
P. i. 67
To whom yet nevere into this day
I seide onlyche or ye or nay, 740
Bot if it so were in my thoght.
As touchende othre seie I noght
That I nam somdel forto wyte
Of that ye clepe an ypocrite.
Mi Sone, it sit wel every wiht
To kepe his word in trowthe upryht
Towardes love in alle wise.
For who that wolde him wel avise
What hath befalle in this matiere,
He scholde noght with feigned chiere 750
Deceive Love in no degre.
To love is every herte fre,
Bot in deceipte if that thou feignest
And therupon thi lust atteignest,
That thow hast wonne with thi wyle,
Thogh it thee like for a whyle,309
Thou schalt it afterward repente.
And forto prove myn entente,
I finde ensample in a Croniqe
Of hem that love so beswike. 760
[Tale of Mundus and Paulina.]
Quod Ipocrisia sit in amore periculosa, narrat exemplum qualiter sub regno Tiberii Imperatoris quidam miles nomine Mundus, qui Romanorum dux milicie tunc prefuit, dominam Paulinam pulcherrimam castitatisque famosissimam mediantibus duobus falsis presbiteris in templo Ysis deum se esse fingens310 sub ficte sanctitatis ypocrisi nocturno tempore viciauit. Vnde idem dux in exilium, presbiteri in mortem ob sui criminis enormitatem dampnati extiterant, ymagoque dee Ysis a templo euulsa vniuerso conclamante populo in flumen Tiberiadis proiecta mergebatur.
It fell be olde daies thus,
Whil themperour Tiberius
The Monarchie of Rome ladde,
Ther was a worthi Romein hadde
A wif, and sche Pauline hihte,
Which was to every mannes sihte
Of al the Cite the faireste,
And as men seiden, ek the beste.[Pg 57]
P. i. 68
It is and hath ben evere yit,
That so strong is no mannes wit, 770
Which thurgh beaute ne mai be drawe
To love, and stonde under the lawe
Of thilke bore frele kinde,
Which makth the hertes yhen blinde,
Wher no reson mai be comuned:311
And in this wise stod fortuned312
This tale, of which I wolde mene;
This wif, which in hire lustes grene
Was fair and freissh and tendre of age,
Sche may noght lette the corage 780
Of him that wole on hire assote.
Ther was a Duck, and he was hote313
Mundus, which hadde in his baillie
To lede the chivalerie
Of Rome, and was a worthi knyht;
Bot yet he was noght of such myht
The strengthe of love to withstonde,
That he ne was so broght to honde,
That malgre wher he wole or no,
This yonge wif he loveth so, 790
That he hath put al his assay
To wynne thing which he ne may
Gete of hire graunt in no manere,
Be yifte of gold ne be preiere.
And whanne he syh that be no mede
Toward hir love he myhte spede,
Be sleyhte feigned thanne he wroghte;
And therupon he him bethoghte
P. i. 69
How that ther was in the Cite
A temple of such auctorite, 800
To which with gret Devocioun
The noble wommen of the toun
Most comunliche a pelrinage
Gon forto preie thilke ymage
Which the godesse of childinge is,
[Pg 58]
And cleped was be name Ysis:
And in hire temple thanne were,
To reule and to ministre there
After the lawe which was tho,
Above alle othre Prestes tuo. 810
This Duck, which thoghte his love gete,
Upon a day hem tuo to mete
Hath bede, and thei come at his heste;
Wher that thei hadde a riche feste,
And after mete in prive place
This lord, which wolde his thonk pourchace,
To ech of hem yaf thanne a yifte,
And spak so that be weie of schrifte
He drowh hem unto his covine,
To helpe and schape how he Pauline314 820
After his lust deceive myhte.
And thei here trowthes bothe plyhte,
That thei be nyhte hire scholden wynne
Into the temple, and he therinne
Schal have of hire al his entente:
And thus acorded forth thei wente.
Now lest thurgh which ypocrisie
Ordeigned was the tricherie,
P. i. 70
Wherof this ladi was deceived.
These Prestes hadden wel conceived 830
That sche was of gret holinesse;
And with a contrefet simplesse,
Which hid was in a fals corage,
Feignende an hevenely message315
Thei come and seide unto hir thus:
‘Pauline, the god Anubus
Hath sent ous bothe Prestes hiere,316
And seith he woll to thee appiere
Be nyhtes time himself alone,
For love he hath to thi persone: 840
And therupon he hath ous bede,
That we in Ysis temple a stede
[Pg 59]
Honestely for thee pourveie,
Wher thou be nyhte, as we thee seie,
Of him schalt take avisioun.
For upon thi condicioun,
The which is chaste and ful of feith,
Such pris, as he ous tolde, he leith,
That he wol stonde of thin acord;
And forto bere hierof record 850
He sende ous hider bothe tuo.’
Glad was hire innocence tho
Of suche wordes as sche herde,
With humble chiere and thus answerde,
And seide that the goddes wille
Sche was al redy to fulfille,
That be hire housebondes leve
Sche wolde in Ysis temple at eve
P. i. 71
Upon hire goddes grace abide,
To serven him the nyhtes tide. 860
The Prestes tho gon hom ayein,
And sche goth to hire sovereign,
Of goddes wille and as it was
Sche tolde him al the pleine cas,
Wherof he was deceived eke,
And bad that sche hire scholde meke
Al hol unto the goddes heste.
And thus sche, which was al honeste
To godward after hire entente,
At nyht unto the temple wente, 870
Wher that the false Prestes were;
And thei receiven hire there
With such a tokne of holinesse,
As thogh thei syhen a godesse,
And al withinne in prive place
A softe bedd of large space317
Thei hadde mad and encourtined,
Wher sche was afterward engined.
Bot sche, which al honour supposeth,
The false Prestes thanne opposeth, 880
And axeth be what observance
[Pg 60]
Sche myhte most to the plesance
Of godd that nyhtes reule kepe:
And thei hire bidden forto slepe318
Liggende upon the bedd alofte,
For so, thei seide, al stille and softe319
God Anubus hire wolde awake.
The conseil in this wise take,
P. i. 72
The Prestes fro this lady gon;
And sche, that wiste of guile non, 890
In the manere as it was seid
To slepe upon the bedd is leid,
In hope that sche scholde achieve320
Thing which stod thanne upon bilieve,
Fulfild of alle holinesse.
Bot sche hath failed, as I gesse,321
For in a closet faste by
The Duck was hid so prively
That sche him myhte noght perceive;
And he, that thoghte to deceive, 900
Hath such arrai upon him nome,
That whanne he wolde unto hir come,
It scholde semen at hire yhe322
As thogh sche verrailiche syhe
God Anubus, and in such wise
This ypocrite of his queintise
Awaiteth evere til sche slepte.
And thanne out of his place he crepte
So stille that sche nothing herde,
And to the bedd stalkende he ferde, 910
And sodeinly, er sche it wiste,
Beclipt in armes he hire kiste:
Wherof in wommanysshe drede
Sche wok and nyste what to rede;
Bot he with softe wordes milde
Conforteth hire and seith, with childe
He wolde hire make in such a kynde
That al the world schal have in mynde
P. i. 73
The worschipe of that ilke Sone;
[Pg 61]
For he schal with the goddes wone, 920
And ben himself a godd also.
With suche wordes and with mo,
The whiche he feigneth in his speche,
This lady wit was al to seche,323
As sche which alle trowthe weneth:
Bot he, that alle untrowthe meneth,
With blinde tales so hire ladde,
That all his wille of hire he hadde.
And whan him thoghte it was ynowh,
Ayein the day he him withdrowh 930
So prively that sche ne wiste
Wher he becom, bot as him liste
Out of the temple he goth his weie.
And sche began to bidde and preie
Upon the bare ground knelende,
And after that made hire offrende,
And to the Prestes yiftes grete
Sche yaf, and homward be the Strete.
The Duck hire mette and seide thus:
‘The myhti godd which Anubus 940
Is hote, he save the, Pauline,
For thou art of his discipline
So holy, that no mannes myht
Mai do that he hath do to nyht
Of thing which thou hast evere eschuied.
Bot I his grace have so poursuied,
That I was mad his lieutenant:
Forthi be weie of covenant
P. i. 74
Fro this day forth I am al thin,
And if thee like to be myn, 950
That stant upon thin oghne wille.’
Sche herde his tale and bar it stille,
And hom sche wente, as it befell,
Into hir chambre, and ther sche fell
Upon hire bedd to wepe and crie,
And seide: ‘O derke ypocrisie,
Thurgh whos dissimilacion
Of fals ymaginacion
[Pg 62]
I am thus wickedly deceived!
Bot that I have it aperceived 960
I thonke unto the goddes alle;
For thogh it ones be befalle,
It schal nevere eft whil that I live,
And thilke avou to godd I yive.’
And thus wepende sche compleigneth,
Hire faire face and al desteigneth
With wofull teres of hire ÿe,
So that upon this agonie
Hire housebonde is inne come,
And syh how sche was overcome 970
With sorwe, and axeth what hire eileth.
And sche with that hirself beweileth
Welmore than sche dede afore,
And seide, ‘Helas, wifhode is lore
In me, which whilom was honeste,324
I am non other than a beste,
Now I defouled am of tuo.’
And as sche myhte speke tho,
P. i. 75
Aschamed with a pitous onde
Sche tolde unto hir housebonde 980
The sothe of al the hole tale,
And in hire speche ded and pale
Sche swouneth welnyh to the laste.
And he hire in hise armes faste
Uphield, and ofte swor his oth
That he with hire is nothing wroth,
For wel he wot sche may ther noght:
Bot natheles withinne his thoght
His herte stod in sori plit,
And seide he wolde of that despit 990
Be venged, how so evere it falle,
And sende unto hise frendes alle.
And whan thei weren come in fere,
He tolde hem upon this matiere,
And axeth hem what was to done:
And thei avised were sone,
And seide it thoghte hem for the beste
[Pg 63]
To sette ferst his wif in reste,
And after pleigne to the king
Upon the matiere of this thing. 1000
Tho was this wofull wif conforted
Be alle weies and desported,
Til that sche was somdiel amended;
And thus a day or tuo despended,
The thridde day sche goth to pleigne
With many a worthi Citezeine,
And he with many a Citezein.
Whan themperour it herde sein,
P. i. 76
And knew the falshed of the vice,
He seide he wolde do justice: 1010
And ferst he let the Prestes take,
And for thei scholde it noght forsake,
He put hem into questioun;325
Bot thei of the suggestioun
Ne couthen noght a word refuse,326
Bot for thei wolde hemself excuse,
The blame upon the Duck thei leide.
Bot therayein the conseil seide
That thei be noght excused so,
For he is on and thei ben tuo, 1020
And tuo han more wit then on,
So thilke excusement was non.
And over that was seid hem eke,327
That whan men wolden vertu seke,
Men scholde it in the Prestes finde;
Here ordre is of so hyh a kinde,
That thei be Duistres of the weie:328
Forthi, if eny man forsueie
Thurgh hem, thei be noght excusable.
And thus be lawe resonable 1030
Among the wise jugges there
The Prestes bothe dampned were,
So that the prive tricherie
Hid under fals Ipocrisie
Was thanne al openliche schewed,
[Pg 64]
That many a man hem hath beschrewed.329
And whan the Prestes weren dede,
The temple of thilke horrible dede
P. i. 77
Thei thoghten purge, and thilke ymage,
Whos cause was the pelrinage, 1040
Thei drowen out and als so faste
Fer into Tibre thei it caste,
Wher the Rivere it hath defied:
And thus the temple purified
Thei have of thilke horrible Sinne,
Which was that time do therinne.
Of this point such was the juise,
Bot of the Duck was other wise:
For he with love was bestad,
His dom was noght so harde lad; 1050
For Love put reson aweie
And can noght se the rihte weie.
And be this cause he was respited,
So that the deth him was acquited,
Bot for al that he was exiled,
For he his love hath so beguiled,
That he schal nevere come ayein:
For who that is to trowthe unplein,
He may noght failen of vengance.330
And ek to take remembrance 1060
Of that Ypocrisie hath wroght
On other half, men scholde noght
To lihtly lieve al that thei hiere,
Bot thanne scholde a wisman stiere
The Schip, whan suche wyndes blowe:
For ferst thogh thei beginne lowe,
At ende thei be noght menable,331
Bot al tobreken Mast and Cable,332
P. i. 78
So that the Schip with sodein blast,
Whan men lest wene, is overcast; 1070
[Pg 65]As now fulofte a man mai se:
And of old time how it hath be
I finde a gret experience,
Wherof to take an evidence
Good is, and to be war also
Of the peril, er him be wo.
[The Trojan Horse.]
Of hem that ben so derk withinne,
At Troie also if we beginne,
Ipocrisie it hath betraied:333
For whan the Greks hadde al assaied, 1080
Hic vlterius ponit exemplum de illa eciam Ypocrisia, que inter virum334 et virum decipiens periculosissima consistit. Et narrat, qualiter Greci in obsidione ciuitatis Troie, cum ipsam vi comprehendere nullatenus potuerunt, fallaci animo cum Troianis pacem vt dicunt pro perpetuo statuebant: et super hoc335 quendam equum mire grossitudinis de ere fabricatum ad sacrificandum in templo336 Minerue confingentes, sub tali sanctitatis ypocrisi dictam Ciuitatem intrarunt, et ipsam cum inhabitantibus gladio et igne comminuentes pro perpetuo penitus deuastarunt.337
And founde that be no bataille
Ne be no Siege it myhte availe
The toun to winne thurgh prouesse,
This vice feigned of simplesce
Thurgh sleyhte of Calcas and of Crise
It wan be such a maner wise.
An Hors of Bras thei let do forge
Of such entaile, of such a forge,
That in this world was nevere man
That such an other werk began. 1090
The crafti werkman Epius
It made, and forto telle thus,
The Greks, that thoghten to beguile
The kyng of Troie, in thilke while
With Anthenor and with Enee,
That were bothe of the Cite
And of the conseil the wiseste,
The richeste and the myhtieste,
P. i. 79
In prive place so thei trete
With fair beheste and yiftes grete 1100
Of gold, that thei hem have engined;
Togedre and whan thei be covined,
Thei feignen forto make a pes,
And under that yit natheles
Thei schopen the destruccioun
Bothe of the kyng and of the toun.
[Pg 66]
And thus the false pees was take
Of hem of Grece and undertake,
And therupon thei founde a weie,
Wher strengthe myhte noght aweie, 1110
That sleihte scholde helpe thanne;
And of an ynche a large spanne
Be colour of the pees thei made,
And tolden how thei weren glade
Of that thei stoden in acord;338
And for it schal ben of record,
Unto the kyng the Gregois seiden,
Be weie of love and this thei preiden,339
As thei that wolde his thonk deserve,
A Sacrifice unto Minerve, 1120
The pes to kepe in good entente,
Thei mosten offre er that thei wente.
The kyng conseiled in this cas
Be Anthenor and Eneas
Therto hath yoven his assent:340
So was the pleine trowthe blent
Thurgh contrefet Ipocrisie
Of that thei scholden sacrifie.
P. i. 80
The Greks under the holinesse
Anon with alle besinesse 1130
Here Hors of Bras let faire dihte,
Which was to sen a wonder sihte;
For it was trapped of himselve,
And hadde of smale whieles twelve,
Upon the whiche men ynowe
With craft toward the toun it drowe,
And goth glistrende ayein the Sunne.
Tho was ther joie ynowh begunne,
For Troie in gret devocioun
Cam also with processioun 1140
Ayein this noble Sacrifise
With gret honour, and in this wise
Unto the gates thei it broghte.
Bot of here entre whan thei soghte,
[Pg 67]
The gates weren al to smale;341
And therupon was many a tale,
Bot for the worschipe of Minerve,
To whom thei comen forto serve,
Thei of the toun, whiche understode
That al this thing was do for goode, 1150
For pes, wherof that thei ben glade,
The gates that Neptunus made
A thousend wynter ther tofore,
Thei have anon tobroke and tore;
The stronge walles doun thei bete,
So that in to the large strete
This Hors with gret solempnite
Was broght withinne the Cite,
P. i. 81
And offred with gret reverence,
Which was to Troie an evidence 1160
Of love and pes for everemo.
The Gregois token leve tho342
With al the hole felaschipe,
And forth thei wenten into Schipe
And crossen seil and made hem yare,343
Anon as thogh thei wolden fare:
Bot whan the blake wynter nyht
Withoute Mone or Sterre lyht
Bederked hath the water Stronde,
Al prively thei gon to londe 1170
Ful armed out of the navie.
Synon, which mad was here aspie344
Withinne Troie, as was conspired,
Whan time was a tokne hath fired;
And thei with that here weie holden,
And comen in riht as thei wolden,
Ther as the gate was tobroke.
The pourpos was full take and spoke:
Er eny man may take kepe,
Whil that the Cite was aslepe, 1180
Thei slowen al that was withinne,
[Pg 68]
And token what thei myhten wynne
Of such good as was sufficant,
And brenden up the remenant.
And thus cam out the tricherie,
Which under fals Ypocrisie
Was hid, and thei that wende pees
Tho myhten finde no reles
P. i. 82
Of thilke swerd which al devoureth.
[Hypocrisy in Love.]
Fulofte and thus the swete soureth, 1190
Whan it is knowe to the tast:
He spilleth many a word in wast
That schal with such a poeple trete;
For whan he weneth most beyete,
Thanne is he schape most to lese.
And riht so if a womman chese
Upon the wordes that sche hiereth345
Som man, whan he most trewe appiereth,
Thanne is he forthest fro the trowthe:
Bot yit fulofte, and that is rowthe, 1200
Thei speden that ben most untrewe
And loven every day a newe,
Wherof the lief is after loth
And love hath cause to be wroth.
Bot what man that his lust desireth
Of love, and therupon conspireth
With wordes feigned to deceive,
He schal noght faile to receive
His peine, as it is ofte sene.
Forthi, my Sone, as I thee mene, 1210
It sit the wel to taken hiede
That thou eschuie of thi manhiede
Ipocrisie and his semblant,
That thou ne be noght deceivant,
To make a womman to believe
Thing which is noght in thi bilieve:347
For in such feint Ipocrisie
Of love is al the tricherie,
P. i. 83
Thurgh which love is deceived ofte;
[Pg 69]
For feigned semblant is so softe, 1220
Unethes love may be war.
Forthi, my Sone, as I wel dar,
I charge thee to fle that vice,
That many a womman hath mad nice;
Bot lok thou dele noght withal.
Iwiss, fader, nomor I schal.
Now, Sone, kep that thou hast swore:
For this that thou hast herd before
Is seid the ferste point of Pride:
And next upon that other side, 1230
To schryve and speken overthis
Touchende of Pride, yit ther is
The point seconde, I thee behote,
Which Inobedience is hote.
[ii. Inobedience.]
vi. Flectere quam frangi melius reputatur, et olle
Fictilis ad cacabum pugna valere nequit.
Quem neque lex hominum, neque lex diuina valebit
Flectere, multociens corde reflectit amor.348
Quem non flectit amor, non est flectendus ab vllo,
Set rigor illius plus Elephante riget.
Dedignatur amor poterit quos scire rebelles,
Et rudibus sortem prestat habere rudem;
Set qui sponte sui subicit se cordis amore,
Frangit in aduersis omnia fata pius. (10)
This vice of Inobedience
Ayein the reule of conscience
Al that is humble he desalloweth,
That he toward his god ne boweth
After the lawes of his heste.
Hic loquitur de secunda specie Superbie, que Inobediencia dicitur: et primo illius vicii naturam simpliciter declarat, et tractat consequenter super illa precipue Inobediencia, que in curia Cupidinis exosa amoris causam ex sua imbecillitate sepissime retardat. In cuius materia Confessor Amanti specialius opponit.
Noght as a man bot as a beste, 1240
P. i. 84
Which goth upon his lustes wilde,
So goth this proude vice unmylde,
That he desdeigneth alle lawe:
He not what is to be felawe,
And serve may he noght for pride;
So is he badde on every side,
And is that selve of whom men speke,
Which wol noght bowe er that he breke.
[Pg 70]
I not if love him myhte plie,
For elles forto justefie 1250
His herte, I not what mihte availe.
Forthi, my Sone, of such entaile
If that thin herte be disposed,
Tell out and let it noght be glosed:
For if that thou unbuxom be
To love, I not in what degree
Thou schalt thi goode world achieve.350
Mi fader, ye schul wel believe,
The yonge whelp which is affaited
Hath noght his Maister betre awaited, 1260
To couche, whan he seith ‘Go lowe,’
That I, anon as I may knowe
Mi ladi will, ne bowe more.351
Bot other while I grucche sore
Of some thinges that sche doth,
Wherof that I woll telle soth:
For of tuo pointz I am bethoght,
That, thogh I wolde, I myhte noght
Obeie unto my ladi heste;
Bot I dar make this beheste, 1270
P. i. 85
Save only of that ilke tuo
I am unbuxom of no mo.
Opponit Confessor.
What ben tho tuo? tell on, quod he.
Respondet Amans.352
Mi fader, this is on, that sche
Comandeth me my mowth to close,
And that I scholde hir noght oppose
In love, of which I ofte preche,
Bot plenerliche of such a speche
Forbere, and soffren hire in pes.
Bot that ne myhte I natheles353 1280
For al this world obeie ywiss;
For whanne I am ther as sche is,
Though sche my tales noght alowe,
Ayein hir will yit mot I bowe,
To seche if that I myhte have grace:
[Pg 71]
Bot that thing may I noght enbrace354
For ought that I can speke or do;
And yit fulofte I speke so,
That sche is wroth and seith, ‘Be stille.’
If I that heste schal fulfille 1290
And therto ben obedient,
Thanne is my cause fully schent,
For specheles may noman spede.
So wot I noght what is to rede;
Bot certes I may noght obeie,
That I ne mot algate seie
Somwhat of that I wolde mene;
For evere it is aliche grene,
The grete love which I have,
Wherof I can noght bothe save 1300
P. i. 86
My speche and this obedience:
And thus fulofte my silence
I breke, and is the ferste point355
Wherof that I am out of point356
In this, and yit it is no pride.
Now thanne upon that other side
To telle my desobeissance,
Ful sore it stant to my grevance
And may noght sinke into my wit;
For ofte time sche me bit357 1310
To leven hire and chese a newe,
And seith, if I the sothe knewe
How ferr I stonde from hir grace,
I scholde love in other place.358
Bot therof woll I desobeie;
For also wel sche myhte seie,
‘Go tak the Mone ther it sit,’
As bringe that into my wit:
For ther was nevere rooted tre,
That stod so faste in his degre, 1320
That I ne stonde more faste
Upon hire love, and mai noght caste
[Pg 72]
Min herte awey, althogh I wolde.
For god wot, thogh I nevere scholde
Sen hir with yhe after this day,
Yit stant it so that I ne may
Hir love out of my brest remue.
This is a wonder retenue,
That malgre wher sche wole or non
Min herte is everemore in on, 1330
P. i. 87
So that I can non other chese,
Bot whether that I winne or lese,
I moste hire loven til I deie;
And thus I breke as be that weie
Hire hestes and hir comandinges,
Bot trewliche in non othre thinges.359
Forthi, my fader, what is more
Touchende to this ilke lore360
I you beseche, after the forme
That ye pleinly me wolde enforme, 1340
So that I may myn herte reule
In loves cause after the reule.
[Murmur and Complaint.]
vii. Murmur in aduersis ita concipit ille superbus,
Pena quod ex bina sorte perurget eum.
Obuia fortune cum spes in amore resistit,
Non sine mentali murmure plangit amans.361
Hic loquitur de Murmure et Planctu, qui super omnes alios Inobediencie secreciores vt ministri illi deseruiunt.363
Toward this vice of which we trete
Ther ben yit tweie of thilke estrete,
Here name is Murmur and Compleignte:362
Ther can noman here chiere peinte,
To sette a glad semblant therinne,
For thogh fortune make hem wynne,
Yit grucchen thei, and if thei lese,
Ther is no weie forto chese, 1350
Wherof thei myhten stonde appesed.
So ben thei comunly desesed;
Ther may no welthe ne poverte
Attempren hem to the decerte
[Pg 73]
Of buxomnesse be no wise:
For ofte time thei despise
P. i. 88
The goode fortune as the badde,
As thei no mannes reson hadde,
Thurgh pride, wherof thei be blinde.
And ryht of such a maner kinde 1360
Ther be lovers, that thogh thei have
Of love al that thei wolde crave,
Yit wol thei grucche be som weie,
That thei wol noght to love obeie
Upon the trowthe, as thei do scholde;
And if hem lacketh that thei wolde,
Anon thei falle in such a peine,
That evere unbuxomly thei pleigne
Upon fortune, and curse and crie,
That thei wol noght here hertes plie 1370
To soffre til it betre falle.
Forthi if thou amonges alle
Hast used this condicioun,
Mi Sone, in thi Confessioun
Now tell me pleinly what thou art.
Mi fader, I beknowe a part,
So as ye tolden hier above
Of Murmur and Compleignte of love,365
That for I se no sped comende,
Ayein fortune compleignende 1380
I am, as who seith, everemo:
And ek fulofte tyme also,
Whan so is that I se and hiere
Or hevy word or hevy chiere366
Of my lady, I grucche anon;
Bot wordes dar I speke non,
Wherof sche myhte be desplesed,
P. i. 89
Bot in myn herte I am desesed:
With many a Murmur, god it wot,
Thus drinke I in myn oghne swot, 1390
And thogh I make no semblant,
Min herte is al desobeissant;
[Pg 74]
And in this wise I me confesse
Of that ye clepe unbuxomnesse.
Now telleth what youre conseil is.
Mi Sone, and I thee rede this,368
What so befalle of other weie,
That thou to loves heste obeie
Als ferr as thou it myht suffise:
For ofte sithe in such a wise 1400
Obedience in love availeth,
Wher al a mannes strengthe faileth;
Wherof, if that the list to wite369
In a Cronique as it is write,
A gret ensample thou myht fynde,
Which now is come to my mynde.
[Tale of Florent.]
Hic contra amori inobedientes ad commendacionem Obediencie Confessor super eodem exemplum ponit; vbi dicit quod, cum quedam Regis Cizilie filia in sue iuuentutis floribus pulcherrima ex eius Nouerce incantacionibus in vetulam turpissimam transformata extitit, Florencius tunc Imparatoris Claudi Nepos, miles in armis strenuissimus amorosisque372 legibus intendens, ipsam ex sua obediencia in pulcritudinem pristinam mirabiliter reformauit.373
Ther was whilom be daies olde
A worthi knyht, and as men tolde370
He was Nevoeu to themperour
And of his Court a Courteour: 1410
Wifles he was, Florent he hihte,
He was a man that mochel myhte,
Of armes he was desirous,
Chivalerous and amorous,
And for the fame of worldes speche,
Strange aventures forto seche,371
P. i. 90
He rod the Marches al aboute.
And fell a time, as he was oute,
Fortune, which may every thred
Tobreke and knette of mannes sped, 1420
Schop, as this knyht rod in a pas,
That he be strengthe take was,
And to a Castell thei him ladde,
Wher that he fewe frendes hadde:
For so it fell that ilke stounde
[Pg 75]
That he hath with a dedly wounde
Feihtende his oghne hondes slain
Branchus, which to the Capitain
Was Sone and Heir, wherof ben wrothe
The fader and the moder bothe. 1430
That knyht Branchus was of his hond
The worthieste of al his lond,
And fain thei wolden do vengance
Upon Florent, bot remembrance
That thei toke of his worthinesse
Of knyhthod and of gentilesse,
And how he stod of cousinage
To themperour, made hem assuage,
And dorsten noght slen him for fere:
In gret desputeisoun thei were374 1440
Among hemself, what was the beste.
Ther was a lady, the slyheste
Of alle that men knewe tho,
So old sche myhte unethes go,
And was grantdame unto the dede:
And sche with that began to rede,
P. i. 91
And seide how sche wol bringe him inne,
That sche schal him to dethe winne
Al only of his oghne grant,
Thurgh strengthe of verray covenant 1450
Withoute blame of eny wiht.
Anon sche sende for this kniht,
And of hire Sone sche alleide
The deth, and thus to him sche seide:
‘Florent, how so thou be to wyte
Of Branchus deth, men schal respite
As now to take vengement,
Be so thou stonde in juggement
Upon certein condicioun,
That thou unto a questioun 1460
Which I schal axe schalt ansuere;
And over this thou schalt ek swere,
That if thou of the sothe faile,
Ther schal non other thing availe,375
[Pg 76]
That thou ne schalt thi deth receive.
And for men schal thee noght deceive,
That thou therof myht ben avised,
Thou schalt have day and tyme assised
And leve saufly forto wende,
Be so that at thi daies ende 1470
Thou come ayein with thin avys.
This knyht, which worthi was and wys,
This lady preith that he may wite,
And have it under Seales write,
What questioun it scholde be
For which he schal in that degree
P. i. 92
Stonde of his lif in jeupartie.
With that sche feigneth compaignie,
And seith: ‘Florent, on love it hongeth376
Al that to myn axinge longeth: 1480
What alle wommen most desire
This wole I axe, and in thempire
Wher as thou hast most knowlechinge
Tak conseil upon this axinge.’377
Florent this thing hath undertake,
The day was set, the time take,
Under his seal he wrot his oth,
In such a wise and forth he goth
Hom to his Emes court ayein;
To whom his aventure plein 1490
He tolde, of that him is befalle.
And upon that thei weren alle378
The wiseste of the lond asent,
Bot natheles of on assent
Thei myhte noght acorde plat,
On seide this, an othre that.
After the disposicioun
Of naturel complexioun
To som womman it is plesance,
That to an other is grevance;379 1500
Bot such a thing in special,
Which to hem alle in general
[Pg 77]
Is most plesant, and most desired
Above alle othre and most conspired,
Such o thing conne thei noght finde380
Be Constellation ne kinde:
P. i. 93
And thus Florent withoute cure
Mot stonde upon his aventure,
And is al schape unto the lere,381
As in defalte of his answere. 1510
This knyht hath levere forto dye
Than breke his trowthe and forto lye
In place ther as he was swore,
And schapth him gon ayein therfore.
Whan time cam he tok his leve,
That lengere wolde he noght beleve,
And preith his Em he be noght wroth,
For that is a point of his oth,
He seith, that noman schal him wreke,
Thogh afterward men hiere speke 1520
That he par aventure deie.
And thus he wente forth his weie
Alone as knyht aventurous,
And in his thoght was curious
To wite what was best to do:
And as he rod al one so,
And cam nyh ther he wolde be,
In a forest under a tre
He syh wher sat a creature,
A lothly wommannysch figure, 1530
That forto speke of fleisch and bon
So foul yit syh he nevere non.
This knyht behield hir redely,
And as he wolde have passed by,
Sche cleped him and bad abide;
And he his horse heved aside
P. i. 94
Tho torneth, and to hire he rod,
And there he hoveth and abod,
To wite what sche wolde mene.
And sche began him to bemene, 1540
[Pg 78]And seide: ‘Florent be thi name,
Thou hast on honde such a game,
That bot thou be the betre avised,
Thi deth is schapen and devised,
That al the world ne mai the save,
Bot if that thou my conseil have.’
Florent, whan he this tale herde,
Unto this olde wyht answerde
And of hir conseil he hir preide.
And sche ayein to him thus seide: 1550
‘Florent, if I for the so schape,
That thou thurgh me thi deth ascape
And take worschipe of thi dede,
What schal I have to my mede?’
‘What thing,’ quod he, ‘that thou wolt axe.’382
‘I bidde nevere a betre taxe,’
Quod sche, ‘bot ferst, er thou be sped,
Thou schalt me leve such a wedd,
That I wol have thi trowthe in honde
That thou schalt be myn housebonde.’ 1560
‘Nay,’ seith Florent, ‘that may noght be.’
‘Ryd thanne forth thi wey,’ quod sche,
‘And if thou go withoute red,
Thou schalt be sekerliche ded.’
Florent behihte hire good ynowh
Of lond, of rente, of park, of plowh,
P. i. 95
Bot al that compteth sche at noght.
Tho fell this knyht in mochel thoght,
Now goth he forth, now comth ayein,
He wot noght what is best to sein, 1570
And thoghte, as he rod to and fro,
That chese he mot on of the tuo,
Or forto take hire to his wif383
Or elles forto lese his lif.
And thanne he caste his avantage,
That sche was of so gret an age,
That sche mai live bot a while,
And thoghte put hire in an Ile,384
[Pg 79]
Wher that noman hire scholde knowe,
Til sche with deth were overthrowe. 1580
And thus this yonge lusti knyht
Unto this olde lothly wiht
Tho seide: ‘If that non other chance
Mai make my deliverance,
Bot only thilke same speche
Which, as thou seist, thou schalt me teche,
Have hier myn hond, I schal thee wedde.’
And thus his trowthe he leith to wedde.
With that sche frounceth up the browe:
‘This covenant I wol allowe,’ 1590
Sche seith: ‘if eny other thing
Bot that thou hast of my techyng
Fro deth thi body mai respite,
I woll thee of thi trowthe acquite,
And elles be non other weie.
Now herkne me what I schal seie.
P. i. 96
Whan thou art come into the place,
Wher now thei maken gret manace
And upon thi comynge abyde,
Thei wole anon the same tide 1600
Oppose thee of thin answere.
I wot thou wolt nothing forbere
Of that thou wenest be thi beste,
And if thou myht so finde reste,
Wel is, for thanne is ther nomore.
And elles this schal be my lore,
That thou schalt seie, upon this Molde
That alle wommen lievest wolde
Be soverein of mannes love:
For what womman is so above, 1610
Sche hath, as who seith, al hire wille;
And elles may sche noght fulfille
What thing hir were lievest have.
With this answere thou schalt save
Thiself, and other wise noght.
And whan thou hast thin ende wroght,
Com hier ayein, thou schalt me finde,
And let nothing out of thi minde.’
[Pg 80]
He goth him forth with hevy chiere,
As he that not in what manere 1620
He mai this worldes joie atteigne:
For if he deie, he hath a peine,
And if he live, he mot him binde
To such on which of alle kinde
Of wommen is thunsemlieste:
Thus wot he noght what is the beste:385
P. i. 97
Bot be him lief or be him loth,
Unto the Castell forth he goth
His full answere forto yive,
Or forto deie or forto live. 1630
Forth with his conseil cam the lord,
The thinges stoden of record,386
He sende up for the lady sone,
And forth sche cam, that olde Mone.
In presence of the remenant
The strengthe of al the covenant
Tho was reherced openly,
And to Florent sche bad forthi
That he schal tellen his avis,
As he that woot what is the pris. 1640
Florent seith al that evere he couthe,
Bot such word cam ther non to mowthe,
That he for yifte or for beheste
Mihte eny wise his deth areste.
And thus he tarieth longe and late,
Til that this lady bad algate
That he schal for the dom final
Yive his answere in special387
Of that sche hadde him ferst opposed:
And thanne he hath trewly supposed 1650
That he him may of nothing yelpe,
Bot if so be tho wordes helpe,388
Whiche as the womman hath him tawht;
Wherof he hath an hope cawht
That he schal ben excused so,
And tolde out plein his wille tho.
[Pg 81]
P. i. 98
And whan that this Matrone herde
The manere how this knyht ansuerde,
Sche seide: ‘Ha treson, wo thee be,
That hast thus told the privite, 1660
Which alle wommen most desire!
I wolde that thou were afire.’
Bot natheles in such a plit
Florent of his answere is quit:
And tho began his sorwe newe,
For he mot gon, or ben untrewe,
To hire which his trowthe hadde.
Bot he, which alle schame dradde,
Goth forth in stede of his penance,
And takth the fortune of his chance, 1670
As he that was with trowthe affaited.
This olde wyht him hath awaited
In place wher as he hire lefte:
Florent his wofull heved uplefte
And syh this vecke wher sche sat,
Which was the lothlieste what
That evere man caste on his yhe:
Hire Nase bass, hire browes hyhe,
Hire yhen smale and depe set,
Hire chekes ben with teres wet, 1680
And rivelen as an emty skyn
Hangende doun unto the chin,
Hire Lippes schrunken ben for age,
Ther was no grace in the visage,
Hir front was nargh, hir lockes hore,
Sche loketh forth as doth a More,
P. i. 99
Hire Necke is schort, hir schuldres courbe,
That myhte a mannes lust destourbe,
Hire body gret and nothing smal,
And schortly to descrive hire al, 1690
Sche hath no lith withoute a lak;
Bot lich unto the wollesak
Sche proferth hire unto this knyht,389
And bad him, as he hath behyht,
So as sche hath ben his warant,
[Pg 82]
That he hire holde covenant,
And be the bridel sche him seseth.
Bot godd wot how that sche him pleseth
Of suche wordes as sche spekth:
Him thenkth welnyh his herte brekth 1700
For sorwe that he may noght fle,
Bot if he wolde untrewe be.
Loke, how a sek man for his hele
Takth baldemoine with Canele,390
And with the Mirre takth the Sucre,
Ryht upon such a maner lucre
Stant Florent, as in this diete:
He drinkth the bitre with the swete,
He medleth sorwe with likynge,
And liveth, as who seith, deyinge; 1710
His youthe schal be cast aweie
Upon such on which as the weie
Is old and lothly overal.
Bot nede he mot that nede schal:
He wolde algate his trowthe holde,
As every knyht therto is holde,
P. i. 100
What happ so evere him is befalle:
Thogh sche be the fouleste of alle,
Yet to thonour of wommanhiede
Him thoghte he scholde taken hiede; 1720
So that for pure gentilesse,
As he hire couthe best adresce,
In ragges, as sche was totore,
He set hire on his hors tofore
And forth he takth his weie softe;
No wonder thogh he siketh ofte.
Bot as an oule fleth be nyhte
Out of alle othre briddes syhte,
Riht so this knyht on daies brode
In clos him hield, and schop his rode 1730
On nyhtes time, til the tyde
That he cam there he wolde abide;
And prively withoute noise
He bringth this foule grete Coise
[Pg 83]
To his Castell in such a wise
That noman myhte hire schappe avise,
Til sche into the chambre cam:
Wher he his prive conseil nam
Of suche men as he most troste,
And tolde hem that he nedes moste 1740
This beste wedde to his wif,
For elles hadde he lost his lif.
The prive wommen were asent,
That scholden ben of his assent:
Hire ragges thei anon of drawe,
And, as it was that time lawe,
P. i. 101
She hadde bath, sche hadde reste,
And was arraied to the beste.
Bot with no craft of combes brode
Thei myhte hire hore lockes schode, 1750
And sche ne wolde noght be schore
For no conseil, and thei therfore,
With such atyr as tho was used,
Ordeinen that it was excused,
And hid so crafteliche aboute,391
That noman myhte sen hem oute.
Bot when sche was fulliche arraied
And hire atyr was al assaied,
Tho was sche foulere on to se:
Bot yit it may non other be, 1760
Thei were wedded in the nyht;
So wo begon was nevere knyht
As he was thanne of mariage.
And sche began to pleie and rage,
As who seith, I am wel ynowh;
Bot he therof nothing ne lowh,
For sche tok thanne chiere on honde
And clepeth him hire housebonde,392
And seith, ‘My lord, go we to bedde,
For I to that entente wedde,393 1770
That thou schalt be my worldes blisse:’
[Pg 84]
And profreth him with that to kisse,
As sche a lusti Lady were.
His body myhte wel be there,
Bot as of thoght and of memoire
His herte was in purgatoire.
P. i. 102
Bot yit for strengthe of matrimoine
He myhte make non essoine,
That he ne mot algates plie
To gon to bedde of compaignie: 1780
And whan thei were abedde naked,
Withoute slep he was awaked;
He torneth on that other side,
For that he wolde hise yhen hyde
Fro lokynge on that foule wyht.394
The chambre was al full of lyht,
The courtins were of cendal thinne,
This newe bryd which lay withinne,
Thogh it be noght with his acord,
In armes sche beclipte hire lord, 1790
And preide, as he was torned fro,
He wolde him torne ayeinward tho;
‘For now,’ sche seith, ‘we ben bothe on.’395
And he lay stille as eny ston,
Bot evere in on sche spak and preide,
And bad him thenke on that he seide,
Whan that he tok hire be the hond.
He herde and understod the bond,
How he was set to his penance,
And as it were a man in trance 1800
He torneth him al sodeinly,
And syh a lady lay him by
Of eyhtetiene wynter age,
Which was the faireste of visage
That evere in al this world he syh:
And as he wolde have take hire nyh,
P. i. 103
Sche put hire hand and be his leve
Besoghte him that he wolde leve,
And seith that forto wynne or lese396
[Pg 85]
He mot on of tuo thinges chese, 1810
Wher he wol have hire such on nyht,
Or elles upon daies lyht,
For he schal noght have bothe tuo.
And he began to sorwe tho,
In many a wise and caste his thoght,
Bot for al that yit cowthe he noght
Devise himself which was the beste.
And sche, that wolde his hertes reste,
Preith that he scholde chese algate,
Til ate laste longe and late 1820
He seide: ‘O ye, my lyves hele,
Sey what you list in my querele,397
I not what ansuere I schal yive:
Bot evere whil that I may live,
I wol that ye be my maistresse,
For I can noght miselve gesse
Which is the beste unto my chois.
Thus grante I yow myn hole vois,
Ches for ous bothen, I you preie;
And what as evere that ye seie, 1830
Riht as ye wole so wol I.’
‘Mi lord,’ sche seide, ‘grant merci,
For of this word that ye now sein,
That ye have mad me soverein,
Mi destine is overpassed,
That nevere hierafter schal be lassed
P. i. 104
Mi beaute, which that I now have,
Til I be take into my grave;
Bot nyht and day as I am now398
I schal alwey be such to yow. 1840
The kinges dowhter of Cizile
I am, and fell bot siththe awhile,
As I was with my fader late,
That my Stepmoder for an hate,
Which toward me sche hath begonne,
Forschop me, til I hadde wonne
The love and sovereinete
[Pg 86]
Of what knyht that in his degre
Alle othre passeth of good name:
And, as men sein, ye ben the same, 1850
The dede proeveth it is so;
Thus am I youres evermo.’
Tho was plesance and joye ynowh,
Echon with other pleide and lowh;
Thei live longe and wel thei ferde,
And clerkes that this chance herde
Thei writen it in evidence,
To teche how that obedience
Mai wel fortune a man to love
And sette him in his lust above, 1860
As it befell unto this knyht.
Forthi, my Sone, if thou do ryht,
Thou schalt unto thi love obeie,
And folwe hir will be alle weie.
Min holy fader, so I wile:
For ye have told me such a skile
P. i. 105
Of this ensample now tofore,
That I schal evermo therfore
Hierafterward myn observance
To love and to his obeissance 1870
The betre kepe: and over this
Of pride if ther oght elles is,
Wherof that I me schryve schal,
What thing it is in special,
Mi fader, axeth, I you preie.
Now lest, my Sone, and I schal seie:
For yit ther is Surquiderie,
Which stant with Pride of compaignie;
Wherof that thou schalt hiere anon,
To knowe if thou have gult or non 1880
Upon the forme as thou schalt hiere:399
Now understond wel the matiere.
[iii. Surquidry or Presumption.]
viii. Omnia scire putat, set se Presumpcio nescit,
Nec sibi consimilem quem putat esse parem.
[Pg 87]
Qui magis astutus reputat se vincere bellum,
In laqueos Veneris forcius ipse cadit.
Sepe Cupido virum sibi qui presumit amantem
Fallit, et in vacuas spes redit ipsa vias.
Surquiderie is thilke vice
Of Pride, which the thridde office
Hath in his Court, and wol noght knowe
The trowthe til it overthrowe.
Hic loquitur de tercia specie Superbie, que Presumpcio dicitur, cuius naturam primo secundum vicium Confessor simpliciter declarat.
Upon his fortune and his grace
Comth ‘Hadde I wist’ fulofte aplace;
For he doth al his thing be gesse,400
And voideth alle sikernesse. 1890
Non other conseil good him siemeth401
Bot such as he himselve diemeth;
P. i. 106
For in such wise as he compasseth,
His wit al one alle othre passeth;
And is with pride so thurghsoght,402
That he alle othre set at noght,
And weneth of himselven so,
That such as he ther be nomo,
So fair, so semly, ne so wis;
And thus he wolde bere a pris 1900
Above alle othre, and noght forthi
He seith noght ones ‘grant mercy’
To godd, which alle grace sendeth,
So that his wittes he despendeth
Upon himself, as thogh ther were
No godd which myhte availe there:403
Bot al upon his oghne witt
He stant, til he falle in the pitt
So ferr that he mai noght arise.
Hic tractat Confessor cum Amante super illa saltem presumpcione, ex cuius superbia quam plures fatui amantes, cum maioris certitudinis in amore spem sibi promittunt inexpediti cicius destituuntur.
And riht thus in the same wise 1910
This vice upon the cause of love
So proudly set the herte above,
And doth him pleinly forto wene
That he to loven eny qwene
Hath worthinesse and sufficance;
And so withoute pourveance
[Pg 88]
Fulofte he heweth up so hihe,
That chippes fallen in his yhe;
And ek ful ofte he weneth this,
Ther as he noght beloved is, 1920
To be beloved alther best.
Now, Sone, tell what so thee lest
P. i. 107
Of this that I have told thee hier.
Ha, fader, be noght in a wer:
I trowe ther be noman lesse,
Of eny maner worthinesse,
That halt him lasse worth thanne I
To be beloved; and noght forthi
I seie in excusinge of me,
To alle men that love is fre. 1930
And certes that mai noman werne;404
For love is of himself so derne,
It luteth in a mannes herte:
Bot that ne schal me noght asterte,405
To wene forto be worthi
To loven, bot in hir mercy.
Bot, Sire, of that ye wolden mene,
That I scholde otherwise wene
To be beloved thanne I was,
I am beknowe as in that cas.406 1940
Mi goode Sone, tell me how.
Now lest, and I wol telle yow,
Mi goode fader, how it is.
Fulofte it hath befalle or this
Thurgh hope that was noght certein,
Mi wenynge hath be set in vein
To triste in thing that halp me noght,
Bot onliche of myn oughne thoght.
For as it semeth that a belle
Lik to the wordes that men telle 1950
Answerth, riht so ne mor ne lesse,
To yow, my fader, I confesse,
P. i. 108
Such will my wit hath overset,
That what so hope me behet,
[Pg 89]
Ful many a time I wene it soth,
Bot finali no spied it doth.
Thus may I tellen, as I can,
Wenyng beguileth many a man;407
So hath it me, riht wel I wot:
For if a man wole in a Bot408 1960
Which is withoute botme rowe,
He moste nedes overthrowe.
Riht so wenyng hath ferd be me:
For whanne I wende next have be,
As I be my wenynge caste,
Thanne was I furthest ate laste,409
And as a foll my bowe unbende,
Whan al was failed that I wende.
Forthi, my fader, as of this,
That my wenynge hath gon amis 1970
Touchende to Surquiderie,
Yif me my penance er I die.
Bot if ye wolde in eny forme
Of this matiere a tale enforme,
Which were ayein this vice set,
I scholde fare wel the bet.
[Tale of Capaneus.]
Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra illos, qui de suis viribus presumentes debiliores efficiuntur. Et narrat qualiter ille Capaneus, miles in armis probatissimus, de sua presumens audacia inuocacionem ad superos tempore necessitatis ex vecordia tantum et non aliter primitus prouenisse asseruit. Vnde in obsidione Ciuitatis Thebarum, cum ipse quodam die coram suis hostibus ad debellandum se obtulit, ignis de celo subito superveniens ipsum armatum totaliter in cineres combussit.
Mi Sone, in alle maner wise
Surquiderie is to despise,
Wherof I finde write thus.
The proude knyht Capaneüs 1980
He was of such Surquiderie,
That he thurgh his chivalerie
P. i. 109
Upon himself so mochel triste,
That to the goddes him ne liste
In no querele to beseche,
Bot seide it was an ydel speche,
Which caused was of pure drede,
For lack of herte and for no nede.
And upon such presumpcioun
He hield this proude opinioun, 1990
Til ate laste upon a dai,
[Pg 90]
Aboute Thebes wher he lay,
Whan it of Siege was belein,
This knyht, as the Croniqes sein,
In alle mennes sihte there,
Whan he was proudest in his gere,
And thoghte how nothing myhte him dere,
Ful armed with his schield and spere
As he the Cite wolde assaile,
Godd tok himselve the bataille 2000
Ayein his Pride, and fro the sky
A firy thonder sodeinly
He sende, and him to pouldre smot.
And thus the Pride which was hot,
Whan he most in his strengthe wende,410
Was brent and lost withouten ende:
So that it proeveth wel therfore,
The strengthe of man is sone lore,
Bot if that he it wel governe.411
And over this a man mai lerne 2010
That ek fulofte time it grieveth,
Whan that a man himself believeth,
P. i. 110
As thogh it scholde him wel beseme
That he alle othre men can deme,
And hath foryete his oghne vice.
A tale of hem that ben so nyce,
And feigne hemself to be so wise,412
I schal thee telle in such a wise,
Wherof thou schalt ensample take
That thou no such thing undertake. 2020
I finde upon Surquiderie,
How that whilom of Hungarie
Be olde daies was a King
Wys and honeste in alle thing:
And so befell upon a dai,
And that was in the Monthe of Maii,413
[Pg 91]
[The Trump of Death.]
As thilke time it was usance,
This kyng with noble pourveance
Hath for himself his Charr araied,
Hic loquitur Confessor contra illos, qui de sua sciencia presumentes aliorum condiciones diiudicantes indiscrete redarguunt. Et narrat exemplum de quodam principe Regis Hungarie germano, qui cum fratrem suum pauperibus in publico vidit humiliatum, ipsum redarguendo in contrarium edocere presumebat: set Rex omni sapiencia prepollens ipsum sic incaute presumentem ad humilitatis memoriam terribili prouidencia micius castigauit.
Wher inne he wolde ride amaied 2030
Out of the Cite forto pleie,
With lordes and with gret nobleie
Of lusti folk that were yonge:
Wher some pleide and some songe,
And some gon and some ryde,
And some prike here hors aside
And bridlen hem now in now oute.
The kyng his yhe caste aboute,
Til he was ate laste war
And syh comende ayein his char 2040
Two pilegrins of so gret age,414
That lich unto a dreie ymage
P. i. 111
Thei weren pale and fade hewed,415
And as a bussh which is besnewed,
Here berdes weren hore and whyte;
Ther was of kinde bot a lite,
That thei ne semen fulli dede.
Thei comen to the kyng and bede
Som of his good par charite;416
And he with gret humilite 2050
Out of his Char to grounde lepte,
And hem in bothe hise armes kepte
And keste hem bothe fot and hond
Before the lordes of his lond,417
And yaf hem of his good therto:
And whanne he hath this dede do,
He goth into his char ayein.
Tho was Murmur, tho was desdeign,
Tho was compleignte on every side,
Thei seiden of here oghne Pride 2060
Eche until othre: ‘What is this?
Oure king hath do this thing amis,
So to abesse his realte
[Pg 92]
That every man it myhte se,
And humbled him in such a wise
To hem that were of non emprise.’
Thus was it spoken to and fro
Of hem that were with him tho
Al prively behinde his bak;
Bot to himselven noman spak. 2070
The kinges brother in presence
Was thilke time, and gret offence
P. i. 112
He tok therof, and was the same
Above alle othre which most blame
Upon his liege lord hath leid,
And hath unto the lordes seid,
Anon as he mai time finde,
Ther schal nothing be left behinde,418
That he wol speke unto the king.
Now lest what fell upon this thing. 2080
The day was merie and fair ynowh,
Echon with othre pleide and lowh,
And fellen into tales newe,
How that the freisshe floures grewe,
And how the grene leves spronge,
And how that love among the yonge
Began the hertes thanne awake,
And every bridd hath chose hire make:419
And thus the Maies day to thende
Thei lede, and hom ayein thei wende. 2090
The king was noght so sone come,
That whanne he hadde his chambre nome,
His brother ne was redi there,
And broghte a tale unto his Ere
Of that he dede such a schame
In hindringe of his oghne name,
Whan he himself so wolde drecche,
That to so vil a povere wrecche
Him deigneth schewe such simplesce
Ayein thastat of his noblesce: 2100
And seith he schal it nomor use,
And that he mot himself excuse
[Pg 93]
P. i. 113
Toward hise lordes everychon.
The king stod stille as eny ston,
And to his tale an Ere he leide,420
And thoghte more than he seide:
Bot natheles to that he herde
Wel cortaisly the king answerde,
And tolde it scholde be amended.
And thus whan that her tale is ended, 2110
Al redy was the bord and cloth,
The king unto his Souper goth
Among the lordes to the halle;
And whan thei hadden souped alle,
Thei token leve and forth thei go.
The king bethoghte himselve tho
How he his brother mai chastie,
That he thurgh his Surquiderie
Tok upon honde to despreise
Humilite, which is to preise, 2120
And therupon yaf such conseil
Toward his king that was noght heil;421
Wherof to be the betre lered,
He thenkth to maken him afered.
It fell so that in thilke dawe
Ther was ordeined be the lawe
A trompe with a sterne breth,
Which cleped was the Trompe of deth:
And in the Court wher the king was
A certein man this Trompe of bras 2130
Hath in kepinge, and therof serveth,
That whan a lord his deth deserveth,
P. i. 114
He schal this dredful trompe blowe
Tofore his gate, and make it knowe
How that the jugement is yove
Of deth, which schal noght be foryove.
The king, whan it was nyht, anon
This man asente and bad him gon
To trompen at his brother gate;
And he, which mot so don algate, 2140
Goth forth and doth the kynges heste.
[Pg 94]
This lord, which herde of this tempeste
That he tofore his gate blew,
Tho wiste he be the lawe and knew
That he was sikerliche ded:
And as of help he wot no red,
Bot sende for hise frendes alle
And tolde hem how it is befalle.
And thei him axe cause why;
Bot he the sothe noght forthi 2150
Ne wiste, and ther was sorwe tho:
For it stod thilke tyme so,
This trompe was of such sentence,
That therayein no resistence
Thei couthe ordeine be no weie,
That he ne mot algate deie,
Bot if so that he may pourchace
To gete his liege lordes grace.
Here wittes therupon thei caste,422
And ben apointed ate laste. 2160
This lord a worthi ladi hadde
Unto his wif, which also dradde
P. i. 115
Hire lordes deth, and children five
Betwen hem two thei hadde alyve,
That weren yonge and tendre of age,
And of stature and of visage
Riht faire and lusty on to se.
Tho casten thei that he and sche
Forth with here children on the morwe,
As thei that were full of sorwe, 2170
Al naked bot of smok and scherte,423
To tendre with the kynges herte,
His grace scholden go to seche424
And pardoun of the deth beseche.
Thus passen thei that wofull nyht,
And erly, whan thei sihe it lyht,
Thei gon hem forth in such a wise
As thou tofore hast herd devise,
Al naked bot here schortes one.425
[Pg 95]
Thei wepte and made mochel mone, 2180
Here Her hangende aboute here Eres;426
With sobbinge and with sory teres
This lord goth thanne an humble pas,
That whilom proud and noble was;
Wherof the Cite sore afflyhte,
Of hem that sihen thilke syhte:
And natheles al openly
With such wepinge and with such cri
Forth with hise children and his wif
He goth to preie for his lif. 2190
Unto the court whan thei be come,427
And men therinne have hiede nome,
P. i. 116
Ther was no wiht, if he hem syhe,
Fro water mihte kepe his yhe
For sorwe which thei maden tho.
The king supposeth of this wo,
And feigneth as he noght ne wiste;
Bot natheles at his upriste
Men tolden him how that it ferde:
And whan that he this wonder herde, 2200
In haste he goth into the halle,
And alle at ones doun thei falle,
If eny pite may be founde.
The king, which seth hem go to grounde,
Hath axed hem what is the fere,
Why thei be so despuiled there.
His brother seide: ‘Ha lord, mercy!
I wot non other cause why,428
Bot only that this nyht ful late
The trompe of deth was at my gate 2210
In tokne that I scholde deie;
Thus be we come forto preie
That ye mi worldes deth respite.’
‘Ha fol, how thou art forto wyte,’
The king unto his brother seith,
‘That thou art of so litel feith,
That only for a trompes soun
[Pg 96]
Hast gon despuiled thurgh the toun,
Thou and thi wif in such manere
Forth with thi children that ben here, 2220
In sihte of alle men aboute,
For that thou seist thou art in doute
P. i. 117
Of deth, which stant under the lawe
Of man, and man it mai withdrawe,429
So that it mai par chance faile.
Now schalt thou noght forthi mervaile
That I doun fro my Charr alihte,
Whanne I behield tofore my sihte
In hem that were of so gret age
Min oghne deth thurgh here ymage, 2230
Which god hath set be lawe of kynde,
Wherof I mai no bote finde:
For wel I wot, such as thei be,
Riht such am I in my degree,430
Of fleissh and blod, and so schal deie.
And thus, thogh I that lawe obeie
Of which the kinges ben put under,
It oghte ben wel lasse wonder
Than thou, which art withoute nede
For lawe of londe in such a drede, 2240
Which for tacompte is bot a jape,
As thing which thou miht overscape.
Forthi, mi brother, after this
I rede, sithen that so is
That thou canst drede a man so sore,
Dred god with al thin herte more:
For al schal deie and al schal passe,
Als wel a Leoun as an asse,
Als wel a beggere as a lord,
Towardes deth in on acord 2250
Thei schullen stonde.’ And in this wise431
The king hath with hise wordes wise
P. i. 118
His brother tawht and al foryive.
Forthi, mi Sone, if thou wolt live
In vertu, thou most vice eschuie,
[Pg 97]
And with low herte humblesce suie,
So that thou be noght surquidous.
Mi fader, I am amorous,
Wherof I wolde you beseche
That ye me som ensample teche,432 2260
Which mihte in loves cause stonde.433
Mi Sone, thou schalt understonde,
In love and othre thinges alle
If that Surquiderie falle,
It may to him noght wel betide434
Which useth thilke vice of Pride,
Which torneth wisdom to wenynge435
And Sothfastnesse into lesynge
Thurgh fol ymaginacion.
And for thin enformacion, 2270
That thou this vice as I the rede
Eschuie schalt, a tale I rede,
Which fell whilom be daies olde,
So as the clerk Ovide tolde.
[Tale of Narcissus.]
Ther was whilom a lordes Sone,
Which of his Pride a nyce wone
Hath cawht, that worthi to his liche,
To sechen al the worldes riche,
Hic in speciali tractat Confessor cum Amante contra illos, qui de propria formositate presumentes amorem mulieris dedignantur. Et narrat exemplum, qualiter cuiusdam Principis filius nomine Narcizus estiuo tempore, cum ipse venacionis causa quendam ceruum solus cum suis canibus exagitaret, in grauem sitim incurrens necessitate compulsus ad bibendum de quodam fonte pronus436 se inclinauit; vbi ipse faciem suam pulcherrimam in aqua percipiens, putabat se per hoc illam Nimpham, quam Poete Ekko vocant, in flumine coram suis oculis pocius conspexisse; de cuius amore confestim laqueatus, vt ipsam ad se de fonte extraheret, pluribus blandiciis adulabatur. Set cum illud perficere nullatenus potuit,440 pre nimio languore deficiens contra lapides ibidem adiacentes caput exuerberans cerebrum effudit. Et sic de propria pulcritudine qui fuerat presumptuosus, de propria pulcritudine fatuatus interiit.
Ther was no womman forto love.
So hihe he sette himselve above 2280
Of stature and of beaute bothe,
That him thoghte alle wommen lothe:
P. i. 119
So was ther no comparisoun
As toward his condicioun.
[Pg 98]
This yonge lord Narcizus hihte:
No strengthe of love bowe mihte
His herte, which is unaffiled;
Bot ate laste he was beguiled:
For of the goddes pourveance
It fell him on a dai par chance, 2290
That he in all his proude fare
Unto the forest gan to fare,
Amonges othre that ther were
To hunte and to desporte him there.437
And whanne he cam into the place
Wher that he wolde make his chace,
The houndes weren in a throwe
Uncoupled and the hornes blowe:
The grete hert anon was founde,438
Which swifte feet sette upon grounde,439 2300
And he with spore in horse side
Him hasteth faste forto ride,
Til alle men be left behinde.
And as he rod, under a linde
Beside a roche, as I thee telle,
He syh wher sprong a lusty welle:
The day was wonder hot withalle,
And such a thurst was on him falle,
That he moste owther deie or drinke;
And doun he lihte and be the brinke 2310
He teide his Hors unto a braunche,
And leide him lowe forto staunche
P. i. 120
His thurst: and as he caste his lok
Into the welle and hiede tok,
He sih the like of his visage,
And wende ther were an ymage
Of such a Nimphe as tho was faie,
Wherof that love his herte assaie
Began, as it was after sene,
Of his sotie and made him wene 2320
It were a womman that he syh.
[Pg 99]
The more he cam the welle nyh,
The nerr cam sche to him ayein;
So wiste he nevere what to sein;
For whanne he wepte, he sih hire wepe,
And whanne he cride, he tok good kepe,
The same word sche cride also:
And thus began the newe wo,
That whilom was to him so strange;
Tho made him love an hard eschange, 2330
To sette his herte and to beginne
Thing which he mihte nevere winne.441
And evere among he gan to loute,
And preith that sche to him come oute;
And otherwhile he goth a ferr,442
And otherwhile he draweth nerr,
And evere he fond hire in o place.
He wepth, he crith, he axeth grace,
There as he mihte gete non;
So that ayein a Roche of Ston, 2340
As he that knew non other red,
He smot himself til he was ded.
P. i. 121
Wherof the Nimphes of the welles,443
And othre that ther weren elles
Unto the wodes belongende,
The body, which was ded ligende,
For pure pite that thei have
Under the grene thei begrave.
And thanne out of his sepulture
Ther sprong anon par aventure 2350
Of floures such a wonder syhte,
That men ensample take myhte
Upon the dedes whiche he dede,
As tho was sene in thilke stede;
For in the wynter freysshe and faire
The floures ben, which is contraire
To kynde, and so was the folie
Which fell of his Surquiderie.
Thus he, which love hadde in desdeign,
[Pg 100]
[Presumption of Lovers.]
Worste of all othre was besein, 2360
And as he sette his pris most hyhe,
He was lest worth in loves yhe
And most bejaped in his wit:
Wherof the remembrance is yit,
So that thou myht ensample take,
And ek alle othre for his sake.
Mi fader, as touchende of me,
This vice I thenke forto fle,
Which of his wenynge overtroweth;444
And nameliche of thing which groweth 2370
In loves cause or wel or wo
Yit pryded I me nevere so.
P. i. 122
Bot wolde god that grace sende,
That toward me my lady wende
As I towardes hire wene!
Mi love scholde so be sene,
Ther scholde go no pride a place.
Bot I am ferr fro thilke grace,
As forto speke of tyme now;445
So mot I soffre, and preie yow446 2380
That ye wole axe on other side
If ther be eny point of Pride,
Wherof it nedeth to be schrive.
Mi Sone, godd it thee foryive,
If thou have eny thing misdo
Touchende of this, bot overmo447
Ther is an other yit of Pride,
Which nevere cowthe hise wordes hide,
That he ne wole himself avaunte;
Ther mai nothing his tunge daunte, 2390
That he ne clappeth as a Belle:
Wherof if thou wolt that I telle,
It is behovely forto hiere,
So that thou myht thi tunge stiere,
Toward the world and stonde in grace,
Which lacketh ofte in many place448
[Pg 101]
To him that can noght sitte stille,
Which elles scholde have al his wille.449
[iv. Avantance or Boasting.]
ix. Magniloque propriam minuit iactancia lingue
Famam, quam stabilem firmat honore cilens.
Ipse sui laudem meriti non percipit, vnde
Se sua per verba iactat in orbe palam.
Estque viri culpa iactancia, que rubefactas
In muliere reas causat habere genas.
P. i. 123
The vice cleped Avantance
With Pride hath take his aqueintance, 2400
So that his oghne pris he lasseth,
When he such mesure overpasseth
That he his oghne Herald is.
That ferst was wel is thanne mis,
Hic loquitur de quarta specie Superbie, que Iactancia dicitur, ex cuius natura causatur, vt homo de seipso testimonium perhibens suarum virtutum merita de laude in culpam transfert, et suam famam cum ipse extollere vellet, illam proprio ore subvertit. Set et Venus in amoris causa de isto vicio maculatos a sua Curia super omnes alios abhorrens expellit, et eorum multiloquium verecunda451 detestatur. Vnde Confessor Amanti opponens materiam plenius declarat.
That was thankworth is thanne blame,
And thus the worschipe of his name
Thurgh pride of his avantarie
He torneth into vilenie.
I rede how that this proude vice
Hath thilke wynd in his office,450 2410
Which thurgh the blastes that he bloweth
The mannes fame he overthroweth
Of vertu, which scholde elles springe
Into the worldes knowlechinge;
Bot he fordoth it alto sore.
And riht of such a maner lore
Ther ben lovers: forthi if thow
Art on of hem, tell and sei how.
Whan thou hast taken eny thing
Of loves yifte, or Nouche or ring, 2420
Or tok upon thee for the cold452
Som goodly word that thee was told,
Or frendly chiere or tokne or lettre,453
Wherof thin herte was the bettre,
Or that sche sende the grietinge,
Hast thou for Pride of thi likinge
Mad thin avant wher as the liste?
[Pg 102]
I wolde, fader, that ye wiste,
P. i. 124
Mi conscience lith noght hiere:
Yit hadde I nevere such matiere, 2430
Wherof min herte myhte amende,
Noght of so mochel that sche sende
Be mowthe and seide, ‘Griet him wel:’
And thus for that ther is no diel
Wherof to make myn avant,
It is to reson acordant
That I mai nevere, bot I lye,
Of love make avanterie.
I wot noght what I scholde have do,
If that I hadde encheson so, 2440
As ye have seid hier manyon;
Bot I fond cause nevere non:
Bot daunger, which welnyh me slowh,
Therof I cowthe telle ynowh,
And of non other Avantance:
Thus nedeth me no repentance.
Now axeth furthere of my lif,
For hierof am I noght gultif.
Mi Sone, I am wel paid withal;
For wite it wel in special 2450
That love of his verrai justice
Above alle othre ayein this vice
At alle times most debateth,
With al his herte and most it hateth.
And ek in alle maner wise
Avantarie is to despise,
As be ensample thou myht wite,454
Which I finde in the bokes write.
[Tale of Albinus and Rosemund.]
P. i. 125
Of hem that we Lombars now calle
Albinus was the ferste of alle455 2460
Which bar corone of Lombardie,
Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra istos, qui vel de sua in armis probitate, vel de suo in amoris causa desiderio completo se iactant. Et narrat qualiter Albinus primus Rex Longobardorum, cum ipse quendam alium Regem nomine Gurmundum in bello morientem triumphasset, testam456 capitis defuncti auferens ciphum ex ea gemmis et auro circumligatum in sue victorie memoriam fabricari constituit: insuper et ipsius Gurmundi filiam Rosemundam rapiens, maritali thoro in coniugem sibi copulauit. Vnde ipso Albino postea coram sui Regni nobilibus in suo regali conuiuio sedente, dicti Gurmundi ciphum infuso vino ad se inter epulas afferri iussit; quem sumptum vxori sue Regine porrexit dicens, ‘Bibe cum patre tuo.’ Quod et ipsa huiusmodi operis ignara fecit. Quo facto Rex statim458 super hiis que per prius gesta fuerant cunctis audientibus per singula se iactauit. Regina vero cum talia audisset, celato animo factum abhorrens in mortem domini sui Regis circumspecta industria conspirauit; ipsumque auxiliantibus Glodesida et Helmege breui subsecuto tempore interfecit; cuius mortem Dux Rauennensis tam in corpus dicte Regine quam suorum fautorum postea vindicauit. Set et huius tocius infortunii sola superbie iactancia fomitem ministrabat.
And was of gret chivalerie
In werre ayein diverse kinges.
So fell amonges othre thinges,
That he that time a werre hadde
[Pg 103]
With Gurmond, which the Geptes ladde,
And was a myhti kyng also:
Bot natheles it fell him so,
Albinus slowh him in the feld,
Ther halp him nowther swerd ne scheld, 2470
That he ne smot his hed of thanne,
Wherof he tok awey the Panne,
Of which he seide he wolde make
A Cuppe for Gurmoundes sake,
To kepe and drawe into memoire
Of his bataille the victoire.
And thus whan he the feld hath wonne,
The lond anon was overronne
And sesed in his oghne hond,
Wher he Gurmondes dowhter fond, 2480
Which Maide Rosemounde hihte,
And was in every mannes sihte
A fair, a freissh, a lusti on.
His herte fell to hire anon,
And such a love on hire he caste,
That he hire weddeth ate laste;
And after that long time in reste
With hire he duelte, and to the beste457
P. i. 126
Thei love ech other wonder wel.
Bot sche which kepth the blinde whel, 2490
Venus, whan thei be most above,
In al the hoteste of here love,
Hire whiel sche torneth, and thei felle
In the manere as I schal telle.
This king, which stod in al his welthe
Of pes, of worschipe and of helthe,
And felte him on no side grieved,459
As he that hath his world achieved,
Tho thoghte he wolde a feste make;
And that was for his wyves sake, 2500
That sche the lordes ate feste,460
That were obeissant to his heste,
[Pg 104]
Mai knowe: and so forth therupon
He let ordeine, and sende anon
Be lettres and be messagiers,
And warnede alle hise officiers
That every thing be wel arraied:
The grete Stiedes were assaied
For joustinge and for tornement,
And many a perled garnement 2510
Embroudred was ayein the dai.461
The lordes in here beste arrai
Be comen ate time set,
On jousteth wel, an other bet,
And otherwhile thei torneie,
And thus thei casten care aweie
And token lustes upon honde.
And after, thou schalt understonde,
P. i. 127
To mete into the kinges halle
Thei come, as thei be beden alle: 2520
And whan thei were set and served,
Thanne after, as it was deserved,
To hem that worthi knyhtes were,
So as thei seten hiere and there,
The pris was yove and spoken oute
Among the heraldz al aboute.
And thus benethe and ek above
Al was of armes and of love,
Wherof abouten ate bordes
Men hadde manye sondri wordes, 2530
That of the merthe which thei made
The king himself began to glade
Withinne his herte and tok a pride,
And sih the Cuppe stonde aside,
Which mad was of Gurmoundes hed,
As ye have herd, whan he was ded,
And was with gold and riche Stones
Beset and bounde for the nones,
And stod upon a fot on heihte
Of burned gold, and with gret sleihte 2540
Of werkmanschipe it was begrave
[Pg 105]
Of such werk as it scholde have,
And was policed ek so clene
That no signe of the Skulle is sene,462
Bot as it were a Gripes Ey.
The king bad bere his Cuppe awey,
Which stod tofore him on the bord,
And fette thilke. Upon his word
P. i. 128
This Skulle is fet and wyn therinne,
Wherof he bad his wif beginne: 2550
‘Drink with thi fader, Dame,’ he seide.
And sche to his biddinge obeide,
And tok the Skulle, and what hire liste
Sche drank, as sche which nothing wiste
What Cuppe it was: and thanne al oute
The kyng in audience aboute
Hath told it was hire fader Skulle,
So that the lordes knowe schulle
Of his bataille a soth witnesse,
And made avant thurgh what prouesse 2560
He hath his wyves love wonne,
Which of the Skulle hath so begonne.
Tho was ther mochel Pride alofte,
Thei speken alle, and sche was softe,
Thenkende on thilke unkynde Pride,
Of that hire lord so nyh hire side
Avanteth him that he hath slain
And piked out hire fader brain,
And of the Skulle had mad a Cuppe.463
Sche soffreth al til thei were uppe, 2570
And tho sche hath seknesse feigned,
And goth to chambre and hath compleigned
Unto a Maide which sche triste,
So that non other wyht it wiste.
This Mayde Glodeside is hote,
To whom this lady hath behote
Of ladischipe al that sche can,
To vengen hire upon this man,
P. i. 129
Which dede hire drinke in such a plit
Among hem alle for despit 2580
[Pg 106]Of hire and of hire fader bothe;
Wherof hire thoghtes ben so wrothe,
Sche seith, that sche schal noght be glad,
Til that sche se him so bestad
That he nomore make avant.
And thus thei felle in covenant,
That thei acorden ate laste,
With suche wiles as thei caste
That thei wol gete of here acord
Som orped knyht to sle this lord: 2590
And with this sleihte thei beginne,
How thei Helmege myhten winne,
Which was the kinges Boteler,
A proud a lusti Bacheler,
And Glodeside he loveth hote.
And sche, to make him more assote,
Hire love granteth, and be nyhte
Thei schape how thei togedre myhte
Abedde meete: and don it was
This same nyht; and in this cas 2600
The qwene hirself the nyht secounde
Wente in hire stede, and there hath founde
A chambre derk withoute liht,
And goth to bedde to this knyht.
And he, to kepe his observance,
To love doth his obeissance,
And weneth it be Glodeside;
And sche thanne after lay aside,
P. i. 130
And axeth him what he hath do,
And who sche was sche tolde him tho, 2610
And seide: ‘Helmege, I am thi qwene,464
Now schal thi love wel be sene
Of that thou hast thi wille wroght:
Or it schal sore ben aboght,
Or thou schalt worche as I thee seie.
And if thou wolt be such a weie
Do my plesance and holde it stille,
For evere I schal ben at thi wille,
Bothe I and al myn heritage.’
[Pg 107]
Anon the wylde loves rage, 2620
In which noman him can governe,
Hath mad him that he can noght werne,465
Bot fell al hol to hire assent:
And thus the whiel is al miswent,
The which fortune hath upon honde;
For how that evere it after stonde,
Thei schope among hem such a wyle,
The king was ded withinne a whyle.
So slihly cam it noght aboute
That thei ne ben descoevered oute, 2630
So that it thoghte hem for the beste
To fle, for there was no reste:
And thus the tresor of the king
Thei trusse and mochel other thing,
And with a certein felaschipe
Thei fledde and wente awey be schipe,
And hielde here rihte cours fro thenne,
Til that thei come to Ravenne,
P. i. 131
Wher thei the Dukes helpe soghte.
And he, so as thei him besoghte, 2640
A place granteth forto duelle;
Bot after, whan he herde telle
Of the manere how thei have do,
This Duk let schape for hem so,
That of a puison which thei drunke
Thei hadden that thei have beswunke.
And al this made avant of Pride:
Good is therfore a man to hide
His oghne pris, for if he speke,
He mai lihtliche his thonk tobreke. 2650
In armes lith non avantance
To him which thenkth his name avance
And be renomed of his dede:
And also who that thenkth to spede
Of love, he mai him noght avaunte;
For what man thilke vice haunte,
His pourpos schal fulofte faile.
In armes he that wol travaile466
[Pg 108]
Or elles loves grace atteigne,
His lose tunge he mot restreigne, 2660
Which berth of his honour the keie.
Forthi, my Sone, in alle weie
Tak riht good hiede of this matiere.
I thonke you, my fader diere,
This scole is of a gentil lore;
And if ther be oght elles more
Of Pride, which I schal eschuie,
Now axeth forth, and I wol suie
P. i. 132
What thing that ye me wole enforme.467
Mi Sone, yit in other forme 2670
Ther is a vice of Prides lore,
Which lich an hauk whan he wol sore,
Fleith upon heihte in his delices
After the likynge of his vices,
And wol no mannes resoun knowe,
Till he doun falle and overthrowe.
This vice veine gloire is hote,
Wherof, my Sone, I thee behote
To trete and speke in such a wise,
That thou thee myht the betre avise. 2680
[v. Vain-Glory.]
x. Gloria perpetuos pregnat mundana dolores,
Qui tamen est vanus gaudia vana cupit.
Eius amiciciam, quem gloria tollit inanis,
Non sine blandiciis planus habebit homo:
Verbis compositis qui scit strigilare fauellum,
Scandere sellata iura valebit eques.
Sic in amore magis qui blanda subornat in ore
Verba, per hoc brauium quod nequit alter habet.
Et tamen ornatos cantus variosque paratus
Letaque corda suis legibus optat amor. (10)
Hic loquitur de quinta specie superbie, que Inanis gloria vocatur, et eiusdem vicii naturam primo describens super eodem in amoris causa Confessor Amanti consequenter opponit.
The proude vice of veine gloire
Remembreth noght of purgatoire,
Hise worldes joyes ben so grete,
Him thenkth of hevene no beyete;
This lives Pompe is al his pes:
Yit schal he deie natheles,
[Pg 109]
And therof thenkth he bot a lite,468
For al his lust is to delite
In newe thinges, proude and veine,
Als ferforth as he mai atteigne. 2690
P. i. 133
I trowe, if that he myhte make
His body newe, he wolde take
A newe forme and leve his olde:
For what thing that he mai beholde,
The which to comun us is strange,
Anon his olde guise change
He wole and falle therupon,
Lich unto the Camelion,
Which upon every sondri hewe
That he beholt he moste newe 2700
His colour, and thus unavised
Fulofte time he stant desguised.
Mor jolif than the brid in Maii
He makth him evere freissh and gay,
Salomon. Amictus eius469 annunciat de eo.
And doth al his array desguise,
So that of him the newe guise
Of lusti folk alle othre take;
And ek he can carolles make,
Rondeal, balade and virelai.
And with al this, if that he may 2710
Of love gete him avantage,
Anon he wext of his corage
So overglad, that of his ende470
Him thenkth ther is no deth comende:
For he hath thanne at alle tide
Of love such a maner pride,
Him thenkth his joie is endeles.
Now schrif thee, Sone, in godes pes,
And of thi love tell me plein
If that thi gloire hath be so vein. 2720
P. i. 134
Mi fader, as touchinge of al
[Pg 110]
[The Lover’s Confession.]
I may noght wel ne noght ne schal
Of veine gloire excuse me,
That I ne have for love be
The betre adresced and arraied;
And also I have ofte assaied
Rondeal, balade and virelai
For hire on whom myn herte lai
To make, and also forto peinte
Caroles with my wordes qweinte, 2730
To sette my pourpos alofte;
And thus I sang hem forth fulofte
In halle and ek in chambre aboute,
And made merie among the route,
Bot yit ne ferde I noght the bet.
Thus was my gloire in vein beset
Of al the joie that I made;
For whanne I wolde with hire glade,
And of hire love songes make,
Sche saide it was noght for hir sake, 2740
And liste noght my songes hiere
Ne witen what the wordes were.
So forto speke of myn arrai,
Yit couthe I nevere be so gay
Ne so wel make a songe of love,
Wherof I myhte ben above
And have encheson to be glad;
Bot rathere I am ofte adrad
For sorwe that sche seith me nay.
And natheles I wol noght say, 2750
P. i. 135
That I nam glad on other side;471
For fame, that can nothing hide,
Alday wol bringe unto myn Ere
Of that men speken hier and there,
How that my ladi berth the pris,
How sche is fair, how sche is wis,
How sche is wommanlich of chiere;
Of al this thing whanne I mai hiere,
What wonder is thogh I be fain?
And ek whanne I may hiere sain 2760
[Pg 111]Tidinges of my ladi hele,
Althogh I may noght with hir dele,
Yit am I wonder glad of that;
For whanne I wot hire good astat,
As for that time I dar wel swere,
Non other sorwe mai me dere,
Thus am I gladed in this wise.
Bot, fader, of youre lores wise,
Of whiche ye be fully tawht,
Now tell me if yow thenketh awht472 2770
That I therof am forto wyte.
Of that ther is I thee acquite,
Mi sone, he seide, and for thi goode
I wolde that thou understode:
For I thenke upon this matiere
To telle a tale, as thou schalt hiere,
How that ayein this proude vice
The hihe god of his justice
Is wroth and gret vengance doth.
Now herkne a tale that is soth: 2780
P. i. 136
Thogh it be noght of loves kinde,
A gret ensample thou schalt finde
This veine gloire forto fle,
Which is so full of vanite.
[Nebuchadnezzar’s Punishment.]
xi. Humani generis cum sit sibi gloria maior,
Sepe subesse solet proximus ille dolor:
Mens elata graues descensus sepe subibit,
Mens humilis stabile molleque firmat iter.
Motibus innumeris volutat fortuna per orbem;473
Cum magis alta petis, inferiora time.
Ther was a king that mochel myhte,
Which Nabugodonosor hihte,
Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra vicium inanis glorie, narrans qualiter Nabugodonosor Rex Caldeorum, cum ipse in omni sue maiestatis gloria celsior extitisset, deus eius superbiam castigare volens ipsum extra formam hominis in bestiam fenum comedentem transmutauit.475 Et sic per septennium penitens, cum ipse potenciorem se agnouit, misertus deus ipsum in sui regni solium restituta sanitate emendatum graciosius collocauit.
Of whom that I spak hier tofore.
Yit in the bible his name is bore,
For al the world in Orient474
Was hol at his comandement: 2790
[Pg 112]As thanne of kinges to his liche
Was non so myhty ne so riche;
To his Empire and to his lawes,
As who seith, alle in thilke dawes
Were obeissant and tribut bere,
As thogh he godd of Erthe were.
With strengthe he putte kinges under,
And wroghte of Pride many a wonder;
He was so full of veine gloire,
That he ne hadde no memoire 2800
That ther was eny good bot he,476
For pride of his prosperite;
Til that the hihe king of kinges,
Which seth and knoweth alle thinges,
Whos yhe mai nothing asterte,—
The privetes of mannes herte
P. i. 137
Thei speke and sounen in his Ere
As thogh thei lowde wyndes were,—
He tok vengance upon this pride.
Bot for he wolde awhile abide 2810
To loke if he him wolde amende,
To him a foretokne he sende,477
And that was in his slep be nyhte.
This proude kyng a wonder syhte
Hadde in his swevene, ther he lay:
Him thoghte, upon a merie day
As he behield the world aboute,
A tree fulgrowe he syh theroute,
Which stod the world amiddes evene,
Whos heihte straghte up to the hevene; 2820
The leves weren faire and large,
Of fruit it bar so ripe a charge,
That alle men it myhte fede:
He sih also the bowes spriede
Above al Erthe, in whiche were
The kinde of alle briddes there;
[Pg 113]
And eke him thoghte he syh also
The kinde of alle bestes go
Under this tre aboute round
And fedden hem upon the ground. 2830
As he this wonder stod and syh,
Him thoghte he herde a vois on hih
Criende, and seide aboven alle:
‘Hew doun this tree and lett it falle,
The leves let defoule in haste478
And do the fruit destruie and waste,479
P. i. 138
And let of schreden every braunche,
Bot ate Rote let it staunche.
Whan al his Pride is cast to grounde,480
The rote schal be faste bounde, 2840
And schal no mannes herte bere,
Bot every lust he schal forbere
Of man, and lich an Oxe his mete
Of gras he schal pourchace and ete,
Til that the water of the hevene
Have waisshen him be times sevene,
So that he be thurghknowe ariht481
What is the heveneliche myht,
And be mad humble to the wille
Of him which al mai save and spille.’ 2850
This king out of his swefne abreide,
And he upon the morwe it seide
Unto the clerkes whiche he hadde:
Bot non of hem the sothe aradde,
Was non his swevene cowthe undo.
And it stod thilke time so,
This king hadde in subjeccioun
Judee, and of affeccioun
Above alle othre on Daniel
He loveth, for he cowthe wel 2860
Divine that non other cowthe:
To him were alle thinges cowthe,
[Pg 114]
As he it hadde of goddes grace.482
He was before the kinges face
Asent, and bode that he scholde
Upon the point the king of tolde
P. i. 139
The fortune of his swevene expounde,
As it scholde afterward be founde.
Whan Daniel this swevene herde,483
He stod long time er he ansuerde, 2870
And made a wonder hevy chiere.
The king tok hiede of his manere,
And bad him telle that he wiste,
As he to whom he mochel triste,484
And seide he wolde noght be wroth.
Bot Daniel was wonder loth,
And seide: ‘Upon thi fomen alle,
Sire king, thi swevene mote falle;
And natheles touchende of this
I wol the tellen how it is, 2880
And what desese is to thee schape:
God wot if thou it schalt ascape.
The hihe tree, which thou hast sein
With lef and fruit so wel besein,
The which stod in the world amiddes,485
So that the bestes and the briddes
Governed were of him al one,
Sire king, betokneth thi persone,
Which stant above all erthli thinges.
Thus regnen under the the kinges, 2890
And al the poeple unto thee louteth,486
And al the world thi pouer doubteth,
So that with vein honour deceived
Thou hast the reverence weyved
Fro him which is thi king above,
That thou for drede ne for love
P. i. 140
Wolt nothing knowen of thi godd;
Which now for thee hath mad a rodd,487
Thi veine gloire and thi folie
[Pg 115]
With grete peines to chastie. 2900
And of the vois thou herdest speke,
Which bad the bowes forto breke
And hewe and felle doun the tree,488
That word belongeth unto thee;
Thi regne schal ben overthrowe,489
And thou despuiled for a throwe:
Bot that the Rote scholde stonde,
Be that thou schalt wel understonde,
Ther schal abyden of thi regne
A time ayein whan thou schalt regne. 2910
And ek of that thou herdest seie,
To take a mannes herte aweie
And sette there a bestial,
So that he lich an Oxe schal
Pasture, and that he be bereined
Be times sefne and sore peined,
Til that he knowe his goddes mihtes,
Than scholde he stonde ayein uprihtes,—
Al this betokneth thin astat,
Which now with god is in debat: 2920
Thi mannes forme schal be lassed,
Til sevene yer ben overpassed,
And in the liknesse of a beste
Of gras schal be thi real feste,
The weder schal upon thee reine.
And understond that al this peine,
P. i. 141
Which thou schalt soffre thilke tide,
Is schape al only for thi pride
Of veine gloire, and of the sinne
Which thou hast longe stonden inne. 2930
So upon this condicioun
Thi swevene hath exposicioun.
Bot er this thing befalle in dede,
Amende thee, this wolde I rede:
Yif and departe thin almesse,
Do mercy forth with rihtwisnesse,
Besech and prei the hihe grace,
For so thou myht thi pes pourchace
[Pg 116]
With godd, and stonde in good acord.’
Bot Pride is loth to leve his lord, 2940
And wol noght soffre humilite
With him to stonde in no degree;
And whan a schip hath lost his stiere,
Is non so wys that mai him stiere
Ayein the wawes in a rage.
This proude king in his corage
Humilite hath so forlore,
That for no swevene he sih tofore,
Ne yit for al that Daniel
Him hath conseiled everydel, 2950
He let it passe out of his mynde,
Thurgh veine gloire, and as the blinde,
He seth no weie, er him be wo.490
And fell withinne a time so,
As he in Babiloine wente,
The vanite of Pride him hente;
P. i. 142
His herte aros of veine gloire,
So that he drowh into memoire
His lordschipe and his regalie
With wordes of Surquiderie. 2960
And whan that he him most avaunteth,
That lord which veine gloire daunteth,
Al sodeinliche, as who seith treis,
Wher that he stod in his Paleis,
He tok him fro the mennes sihte:
Was non of hem so war that mihte
Sette yhe wher that he becom.
And thus was he from his kingdom
Into the wilde Forest drawe,
Wher that the myhti goddes lawe 2970
Thurgh his pouer dede him transforme
Fro man into a bestes forme;
And lich an Oxe under the fot
He graseth, as he nedes mot,
To geten him his lives fode.
Tho thoghte him colde grases goode,
That whilom eet the hote spices,
[Pg 117]
Thus was he torned fro delices:
The wyn which he was wont to drinke
He tok thanne of the welles brinke 2980
Or of the pet or of the slowh,
It thoghte him thanne good ynowh:
In stede of chambres wel arraied
He was thanne of a buissh wel paied,
The harde ground he lay upon,
For othre pilwes hath he non;
P. i. 143
The stormes and the Reines falle,
The wyndes blowe upon him alle,491
He was tormented day and nyht,
Such was the hihe goddes myght,492 2990
Til sevene yer an ende toke.
Upon himself tho gan he loke;
In stede of mete gras and stres,
In stede of handes longe cles,
In stede of man a bestes lyke
He syh; and thanne he gan to syke
For cloth of gold and for perrie,493
Which him was wont to magnefie.
Whan he behield his Cote of heres,
He wepte and with fulwoful teres494 3000
Up to the hevene he caste his chiere
Wepende, and thoghte in this manere;
Thogh he no wordes myhte winne,
Thus seide his herte and spak withinne:
‘O mihti godd, that al hast wroght
And al myht bringe ayein to noght,
Now knowe I wel, bot al of thee,
This world hath no prosperite:
In thin aspect ben alle liche,
The povere man and ek the riche,495 3010
Withoute thee ther mai no wight,496
And thou above alle othre miht.
O mihti lord, toward my vice
Thi merci medle with justice;
[Pg 118]
And I woll make a covenant,
That of my lif the remenant
P. i. 144
I schal it be thi grace amende,
And in thi lawe so despende
That veine gloire I schal eschuie,
And bowe unto thin heste and suie 3020
Humilite, and that I vowe.’
And so thenkende he gan doun bowe,
And thogh him lacke vois and speche,497
He gan up with his feet areche,
And wailende in his bestly stevene
He made his pleignte onto the hevene.
He kneleth in his wise and braieth,498
To seche merci and assaieth
His god, which made him nothing strange,
Whan that he sih his pride change. 3030
Anon as he was humble and tame,
He fond toward his god the same,
And in a twinklinge of a lok
His mannes forme ayein he tok,
And was reformed to the regne
In which that he was wont to regne;
So that the Pride of veine gloire
Evere afterward out of memoire
He let it passe. And thus is schewed
What is to ben of Pride unthewed 3040
Ayein the hihe goddes lawe,
To whom noman mai be felawe.
Forthi, my Sone, tak good hiede
So forto lede thi manhiede,
That thou ne be noght lich a beste.
Bot if thi lif schal ben honeste,
P. i. 145
Thou most humblesce take on honde,
For thanne myht thou siker stonde:
And forto speke it otherwise,
A proud man can no love assise; 3050
For thogh a womman wolde him plese,
His Pride can noght ben at ese.
[Pg 119]
Ther mai noman to mochel blame
A vice which is forto blame;
Forthi men scholde nothing hide
That mihte falle in blame of Pride,
Which is the werste vice of alle:
Wherof, so as it was befalle,
The tale I thenke of a Cronique
To telle, if that it mai thee like, 3060
So that thou myht humblesce suie
And ek the vice of Pride eschuie,
Wherof the gloire is fals and vein;
Which god himself hath in desdeign,
That thogh it mounte for a throwe,
It schal doun falle and overthrowe.
xii. Est virtus humilis, per quam deus altus ad yma
Se tulit et nostre viscera carnis habet.
Sic humilis superest, et amor sibi subditur omnis,
Cuius habet nulla sorte superbus opem:
Odit eum terra, celum deiecit et ipsum,499
Sedibus inferni statque receptus ibi.
[Tale of the Three Questions.]
A king whilom was yong and wys,
The which sette of his wit gret pris.
Hic narrat Confessor exemplum simpliciter contra Superbiam; et dicit quod nuper quidam Rex famose prudencie cuidam militi suo super tribus questionibus, vt inde certitudinis responsionem daret, sub pena capitalis sentencie terminum prefixit. Primo, quid minoris indigencie ab inhabitantibus500 orbem auxilium maius obtinuit. Secundo, quid maioris valencie meritum501 continens minoris expense reprisas exiguit. Tercio, quid omnia bona diminuens ex sui proprietate nichil penitus valuit. Quarum vero questionum quedam virgo dicti militis filia sapientissima nomine patris sui solucionem aggrediens taliter Regi respondit. Ad primam dixit, quod terra nullius indiget, quam tamen adiuuare cotidianis laboribus omnes intendunt. Ad secundam dixit, quod humilitas omnibus virtutibus prevalet, que tamen nullius prodegalitatis expensis mensuram excedit. Ad terciam dixit, quod superbia omnia tam corporis quam anime bona deuastans maiores expensarum excessus inducit. Et tamen nullius valoris, ymmo tocius perdicionis, causam sua culpa ministrat.
Of depe ymaginaciouns
And strange interpretaciouns, 3070
P. i. 146
Problemes and demandes eke,
His wisdom was to finde and seke;
Wherof he wolde in sondri wise
Opposen hem that weren wise.
Bot non of hem it myhte bere
Upon his word to yeve answere,
Outaken on, which was a knyht;
To him was every thing so liht,
That also sone as he hem herde,
The kinges wordes he answerde; 3080
What thing the king him axe wolde,
Therof anon the trowthe he tolde.
[Pg 120]
The king somdiel hadde an Envie,
And thoghte he wolde his wittes plie
To sette som conclusioun,
Which scholde be confusioun
Unto this knyht, so that the name
And of wisdom the hihe fame
Toward himself he wolde winne.
And thus of al his wit withinne 3090
This king began to studie and muse,
What strange matiere he myhte use
The knyhtes wittes to confounde;
And ate laste he hath it founde,
And for the knyht anon he sente,
That he schal telle what he mente.
Upon thre pointz stod the matiere
Of questions, as thou schalt hiere.
ia questio.
The ferste point of alle thre
Was this: ‘What thing in his degre 3100
P. i. 147
Of al this world hath nede lest,
And yet men helpe it althermest?’
iia questio.
The secounde is: ‘What most is worth,
And of costage is lest put forth?’
iiia questio.
The thridde is: ‘Which is of most cost,
And lest is worth and goth to lost?’
The king thes thre demandes axeth,
And to the knyht this lawe he taxeth,502
That he schal gon and come ayein
The thridde weke, and telle him plein 3110
To every point, what it amonteth.
And if so be that he misconteth,
To make in his answere a faile,
Ther schal non other thing availe,
The king seith, bot he schal be ded
And lese hise goodes and his hed.
The knyht was sori of this thing
And wolde excuse him to the king,
Bot he ne wolde him noght forbere,
And thus the knyht of his ansuere503 3120
[Pg 121]Goth hom to take avisement:
Bot after his entendement
The more he caste his wit aboute,
The more he stant therof in doute.
Tho wiste he wel the kinges herte,
That he the deth ne scholde asterte,504
And such a sorwe hath to him take,
That gladschipe he hath al forsake.
He thoghte ferst upon his lif,
And after that upon his wif, 3130
P. i. 148
Upon his children ek also,
Of whiche he hadde dowhtres tuo;
The yongest of hem hadde of age
Fourtiene yer, and of visage
Sche was riht fair, and of stature
Lich to an hevenely figure,
And of manere and goodli speche,
Thogh men wolde alle Londes seche,
Thei scholden noght have founde hir like.
Sche sih hire fader sorwe and sike, 3140
And wiste noght the cause why;
So cam sche to him prively,
And that was where he made his mone
Withinne a Gardin al him one;
Upon hire knes sche gan doun falle
With humble herte and to him calle,
And seide: ‘O goode fader diere,
Why make ye thus hevy chiere,
And I wot nothing how it is?
And wel ye knowen, fader, this, 3150
What aventure that you felle
Ye myhte it saufly to me telle,
For I have ofte herd you seid,
That ye such trust have on me leid,
That to my soster ne my brother,505
In al this world ne to non other,
Ye dorste telle a privite
So wel, my fader, as to me.
[Pg 122]
Forthi, my fader, I you preie,
Ne casteth noght that herte aweie, 3160
P. i. 149
For I am sche that wolde kepe
Youre honour.’ And with that to wepe
Hire yhe mai noght be forbore,
Sche wissheth forto ben unbore,
Er that hire fader so mistriste
To tellen hire of that he wiste:
And evere among merci sche cride,
That he ne scholde his conseil hide
From hire that so wolde him good
And was so nyh his fleissh and blod. 3170
So that with wepinge ate laste
His chiere upon his child he caste,
And sorwfulli to that sche preide
He tolde his tale and thus he seide:
‘The sorwe, dowhter, which I make
Is noght al only for my sake,
Bot for thee bothe and for you alle:
For such a chance is me befalle,
That I schal er this thridde day
Lese al that evere I lese may, 3180
Mi lif and al my good therto:
Therfore it is I sorwe so.’
‘What is the cause, helas!’ quod sche,506
‘Mi fader, that ye scholden be
Ded and destruid in such a wise?’507
And he began the pointz devise,
Whiche as the king told him be mowthe,508
And seid hir pleinly that he cowthe509
Ansuere unto no point of this.
And sche, that hiereth how it is, 3190
P. i. 150
Hire conseil yaf and seide tho:
‘Mi fader, sithen it is so,
That ye can se non other weie,
Bot that ye moste nedes deie,
I wolde preie of you a thing:510
[Pg 123]
Let me go with you to the king,
And ye schull make him understonde
How ye, my wittes forto fonde,
Have leid your ansuere upon me;
And telleth him, in such degre 3200
Upon my word ye wole abide511
To lif or deth, what so betide.
For yit par chaunce I may pourchace
With som good word the kinges grace,
Your lif and ek your good to save;
For ofte schal a womman have
Thing which a man mai noght areche.’
The fader herde his dowhter speche,
And thoghte ther was resoun inne,512
And sih his oghne lif to winne 3210
He cowthe don himself no cure;
So betre him thoghte in aventure
To put his lif and al his good,
Than in the maner as it stod
His lif in certein forto lese.
And thus thenkende he gan to chese
To do the conseil of this Maide,
And tok the pourpos which sche saide.
The dai was come and forth thei gon,
Unto the Court thei come anon, 3220
P. i. 151
Wher as the king in juggement
Was set and hath this knyht assent.
Arraied in hire beste wise
This Maiden with hire wordes wise
Hire fader ladde be the hond
Into the place, wher he fond
The king with othre whiche he wolde,
And to the king knelende he tolde
As he enformed was tofore,
And preith the king that he therfore 3230
His dowhtres wordes wolde take,
And seith that he wol undertake
Upon hire wordes forto stonde.
Tho was ther gret merveile on honde,
[Pg 124]
That he, which was so wys a knyht,
His lif upon so yong a wyht
Besette wolde in jeupartie,
And manye it hielden for folie:
Bot ate laste natheles
The king comandeth ben in pes, 3240
And to this Maide he caste his chiere,
And seide he wolde hire tale hiere,
He bad hire speke, and sche began:
‘Mi liege lord, so as I can,’
Quod sche, ‘the pointz of whiche I herde,513
Thei schul of reson ben ansuerde.
The ferste I understonde is this,
What thing of al the world it is,
Which men most helpe and hath lest nede.514
Mi liege lord, this wolde I rede: 3250
P. i. 152
The Erthe it is, which everemo
With mannes labour is bego;
Als wel in wynter as in Maii
The mannes hond doth what he mai
To helpe it forth and make it riche,
And forthi men it delve and dyche
And eren it with strengthe of plowh,
Wher it hath of himself ynowh,
So that his nede is ate leste.
For every man and bridd and beste, 3260
And flour and gras and rote and rinde,515
And every thing be weie of kynde
Schal sterve, and Erthe it schal become;
As it was out of Erthe nome,516
It schal to therthe torne ayein:
And thus I mai be resoun sein
That Erthe is the most nedeles,
And most men helpe it natheles.
So that, my lord, touchende of this
I have ansuerd hou that it is. 3270
[Pg 125]That other point I understod,
Which most is worth and most is good,
And costeth lest a man to kepe:
Mi lord, if ye woll take kepe,
I seie it is Humilite,
Thurgh which the hihe trinite
As for decerte of pure love
Unto Marie from above,
Of that he knew hire humble entente,
His oghne Sone adoun he sente, 3280
P. i. 153
Above alle othre and hire he ches
For that vertu which bodeth pes:
So that I may be resoun calle
Humilite most worth of alle.
And lest it costeth to maintiene,517
In al the world as it is sene;
For who that hath humblesce on honde,
He bringth no werres into londe,
For he desireth for the beste
To setten every man in reste. 3290
Thus with your hihe reverence
Me thenketh that this evidence
As to this point is sufficant.
And touchende of the remenant,
Which is the thridde of youre axinges,
What leste is worth of alle thinges,
And costeth most, I telle it, Pride;
Which mai noght in the hevene abide,
For Lucifer with hem that felle
Bar Pride with him into helle.518 3300
Ther was Pride of to gret a cost,519
Whan he for Pride hath hevene lost;
And after that in Paradis
Adam for Pride loste his pris:
In Midelerthe and ek also
Pride is the cause of alle wo,
That al the world ne may suffise
To stanche of Pride the reprise:
[Pg 126]
Pride is the heved of alle Sinne,
Which wasteth al and mai noght winne; 3310
P. i. 154
Pride is of every mis the pricke,
Pride is the werste of alle wicke,
And costneth most and lest is worth520
In place where he hath his forth.
Thus have I seid that I wol seie
Of myn answere, and to you preie,
Mi liege lord, of youre office
That ye such grace and such justice
Ordeigne for mi fader hiere,
That after this, whan men it hiere, 3320
The world therof mai speke good.’
The king, which reson understod
And hath al herd how sche hath said,
Was inly glad and so wel paid
That al his wraththe is overgo:
And he began to loke tho
Upon this Maiden in the face,
In which he fond so mochel grace,
That al his pris on hire he leide,
In audience and thus he seide: 3330
‘Mi faire Maide, wel thee be!
Of thin ansuere and ek of thee
Me liketh wel, and as thou wilt,
Foryive be thi fader gilt.
And if thou were of such lignage,
That thou to me were of parage,
And that thi fader were a Pier,
As he is now a Bachilier,
So seker as I have a lif,
Thou scholdest thanne be my wif. 3340
P. i. 155
Bot this I seie natheles,
That I wol schape thin encress;
What worldes good that thou wolt crave,
Axe of my yifte and thou schalt have.’
And sche the king with wordes wise
Knelende thonketh in this wise:
‘Mi liege lord, god mot you quite!
[Pg 127]
Mi fader hier hath bot a lite
Of warison, and that he wende
Hadde al be lost; bot now amende 3350
He mai wel thurgh your noble grace.’
With that the king riht in his place
Anon forth in that freisshe hete
An Erldom, which thanne of eschete
Was late falle into his hond,
Unto this knyht with rente and lond
Hath yove and with his chartre sesed;521
And thus was all the noise appesed.
This Maiden, which sat on hire knes
Tofore the king, hise charitees 3360
Comendeth, and seide overmore:522
‘Mi liege lord, riht now tofore
Ye seide, as it is of record,523
That if my fader were a lord
And Pier unto these othre grete,
Ye wolden for noght elles lete,
That I ne scholde be your wif;
And this wot every worthi lif,
A kinges word it mot ben holde.524
Forthi, my lord, if that ye wolde 3370
P. i. 156
So gret a charite fulfille,
God wot it were wel my wille:
For he which was a Bacheler,
Mi fader, is now mad a Pier;525
So whenne as evere that I cam,
An Erles dowhter now I am.’
This yonge king, which peised al,
Hire beaute and hir wit withal,
As he that was with love hent,526
Anon therto yaf his assent. 3380
He myhte noght the maide asterte,527
That sche nis ladi of his herte;
[Pg 128]
So that he tok hire to his wif,
To holde whyl that he hath lif:
And thus the king toward his knyht
Acordeth him, as it is riht.
And over this good is to wite,
In the Cronique as it is write,
This noble king of whom I tolde
Of Spaine be tho daies olde 3390
The kingdom hadde in governance,
And as the bok makth remembrance,
Alphonse was his propre name:
The knyht also, if I schal name,
Danz Petro hihte, and as men telle,
His dowhter wyse Peronelle528
Was cleped, which was full of grace:
And that was sene in thilke place,529
Wher sche hir fader out of teene
Hath broght and mad hirself a qweene, 3400
P. i. 157
Of that sche hath so wel desclosed
The pointz wherof sche was opposed.
Lo now, my Sone, as thou myht hiere,530
Of al this thing to my matiere
Bot on I take, and that is Pride,
To whom no grace mai betide:
In hevene he fell out of his stede,
And Paradis him was forbede,
The goode men in Erthe him hate,
So that to helle he mot algate, 3410
Where every vertu schal be weyved
And every vice be received.531
Bot Humblesce is al otherwise,
Which most is worth, and no reprise532
It takth ayein, hot softe and faire,
If eny thing stond in contraire,533
[Pg 129]
With humble speche it is redresced:
Thus was this yonge Maiden blessed,
The which I spak of now tofore,
Hire fader lif sche gat therfore, 3420
And wan with al the kinges love.
Forthi, my Sone, if thou wolt love,
It sit thee wel to leve Pride
And take Humblesce upon thi side;
The more of grace thou schalt gete.
Mi fader, I woll noght foryete
Of this that ye have told me hiere,
And if that eny such manere
Of humble port mai love appaie,
Hierafterward I thenke assaie: 3430
P. i. 158
Bot now forth over I beseche
That ye more of my schrifte seche.
Mi goode Sone, it schal be do:
Now herkne and ley an Ere to;
For as touchende of Prides fare,
Als ferforth as I can declare
In cause of vice, in cause of love,
That hast thou pleinly herd above,
So that ther is nomor to seie
Touchende of that; bot other weie 3440
Touchende Envie I thenke telle,
Which hath the propre kinde of helle,
Withoute cause to misdo534
Toward himself and othre also,
Hierafterward as understonde535
Thou schalt the spieces, as thei stonde.

Explicit Liber Primus


213 1 strecchen vp to h. EC, Δ strecche vp to h. XB₂ (vt)
214 8 fforþi (ffor þy) AJME₂E, ΔΛ, FKH₃ ffor H₁YXR ... B₂, B, W
215 10 thing is] þinges E₂H₁Y ... B₂, B noght so] more YX
216 13 margin intendit] intendit eciam ERCL intendit et H₁B₂
217 23 margin crebre H₁E ... B₂
218 26 margin diffundetur B
219 37 evere him lest] himself lest (list) H₁YERB₂, B (lust)
220 50 aboute is went ACL is aboute went Δ
221 51 grace H₁XGERB₂, BΔ
222 54 And H₁YERB₂, B
223 76 now B.
224 80 is him AG
225 Latin Verses ii. 5 Deuius AJME₂, ΔΛ, FKH₃ Denuus (?) H₁Y Demum XGEC, B Deinque L Deui B₂Sn Veni R
226 7 Me] Aere H₁Yp.m.ERB₂, B
227 102 take CL, B
228 107 S resumes
229 109 forsake B
230 110 Vnto ... I gan tofare F And to ... forth is he fare CL And to ... gan I to fare Y To ... I gan fare R To ... I made me ȝare B₂ Vnto ... my way gan take B line om. SnD
231 116 oþere A
232 120 wisshide FK wisschide S wisshid H₃ al. wissched
233 130 wismam FK
234 160 scheo FK al. sche
235 161 Ma dame I sayde Iohn Gowere E, B And I answerde wiþ drery chiere C And I answerd wiþ ful myld chere L line om. RB₂SnD
236 162 What wolde ȝe wiþ me my l. d. ERLB₂ What wolde ȝe wiþ me l. d. XGC, B
237 163 or elles] or schal I C or L
238 164 tell (telle) me H₁YE ... B₂, BΛ, W
239 165 of which] which þat CL where of W
240 183 þan wolde C þan wold A, B þanne wold S, FK
241 200 Prest om. B
242 208 thee] be Y, B, Magd.
243 213 and with] wiþ good B wiþ XC as wiþ Λ
244 224 schal] þat A
245 227 beleft FK
246 232 tome F al. to me
247 234 sone sone F am om. B
248 264 I ne conne] I now can (conne) ECLB₂, B I ne now can XR ne can nowe H₁
249 266 awise FK
250 277 laste (last) JYRCL, BΔΛ
251 278 vice H₁ ... B₂, B
252 281 aman F
253 288 The] þo B
254 293 the] þer F
255 294 tome FK al. to me awise F wise AEC, B
256 295 scholde (schuld) me H₁ ... B₂, B
257 298 mispended XR, FWKH₃ so myspended B₂
258 310 manye suche S manye such F many suche AC
259 318 Haþ M ... RLB₂, B
260 334 margin exemplum om. AM
261 335 whilon FK
262 339 Vp sette S, F Vpsette AC, B
262m 339 margin spaciaret B
263 349 atide FK
264 353 floures freische H₁ ... B₂, B
265 355 Trostle FK
266 357 wher was] in to (into) H₁ ... B₂, B
267 365 many nimphes Sn, B many Nimphe YEC many simphe RLB₂ mani a maiden Δ
268 368 for anger þerof swal(l) H₁EXG, B for anger þerfor swal YR for anger þerof schall CLB₂ therefore for anger schall DAr
269 370 and the] in to CL in þe B₂
270 371 taken] in fourme L om. B₂
271 374 aroute F
272 377 hondes FK
273 388 and seiþ RCLB₂ and says W
274 391 and hadde CLB₂, W
275 397 bore] boþe FWKH₃Magd.
276 423 he, as it fell] as it befel (om. he) C as it fel L, W
277 425 These] þis A
278 430 Haþ B, W
279 441 wel AJE₂C, S, FKH₃ wil (wille) YXGERLB₂, BΔ, W wol(e) MH₁, Magd.
280 447 and om. B.
281 454, 458 aman FK
282 470 margin aspidis B
283 476 margin firmissimo H₁GRCLB₂
284 481 oþre SB, F rest oþer
285 488 womman A a womman MXGCLB₂
286 491 bereþ XRCLB₂, B
287 505 tho] þe JE₂H₁ ... B₂, B, W H₃Magd. so ΔΛ
288 522 atte (at) laste XEC, B
289 531 myht S might AC, B myhte F
290 549 yhe B
291 Latin Verses v. 1 Aquilaque F
292 8 sub latitante J, S, F sublatitante AC, B
293 582 margin primitus declarat A ... B₂, S ... Δ
294 580 ferste C, S ferst A, F first B
295 584 I om. FKH₃
296 593 be knowen FK
297 604 toforn Y, B, W
298 608 margin Ipocrisis Relig. om. AM, B
299 610 word L, B
300 610 margin Ipocr. eccles. om. A
301 626 gan AM schal R
302 627 þe JE₂H₁ ... B₂, B, W
303 630 That] þay (þai) X ... B₂, B
304 656 and of] and AM and seynt H₁
305 674 margin Hic tractat—innocentes om. A.
306 704 bereþ (berþ) lowest seil AH₁ ... B₂, B, Magd.
307 723 tomy F
308 732 put A, SB, F putte C
309 756 the hit like W it be like H₁L it be liking C
310 773 margin domini se esse fingens ME₂ domini se esse fingentes A
311 775 Ther(e) AM
312 776 stonde RCLB₂ stant H₁GE
313 782 Duck A, F Duk (duk) SB Duke C
314 820 he] the B, W that H₁
315 834 ffeigned AMH₁XLB₂, W (ffeignet) þey feigned C
316 837 seyt vs B p.m. Prestes] present B
317 876 lofte H₁ ... B₂
318 884 biddeþ B
319 886 al om. B
320 893 wolde AM
321 896 hath] þat B
322 903 to H₁ ... L vnto B₂
323 924 al to] for to A
324 975 me om. B
325 1013 put SB, F putte AC
326 1015 a] o C, B
327 1023 seid A, S seyd B seide F
328 1027 diustres A
329 1036 haþ hem AME₂H₁L, W (has hem) be schrewed FK
330 1059 veniance XRCLB₂
331 1067 menable AJYXG, SAdΔ, F meuable (moeuable) ELB₂, B, WH₃ doubtful MH₁RC, Magd.
332 1068 al tobroken (al to broke &c.) AMERCB₂, Ad, FH₃Magd. alto brosten E₂L
333 1079 it] hem H₁ ... ECLB₂, B he R
334 1083 margin inter virum et virum] inter virum H₁E ... B₂ inter viros XG
335 1090 margin hoc om. AM
336 1093 margin in templo om. H₁ ... B₂
337 1099 margin deuastarunt] demonstrarunt A
338 1115 stood in a cord B
339 1118 þus M ... R, BAd, WH₃Magd.
340 1125 ȝiuen A
341 1145 tosmale F
342 1162 token] toke(n) her(e) CLB₂
343 1165 trossen ECL trussen H₁R tuossen B₂
344 1172 Symon H₁CLB₂, FWH₃Magd. mad om. AM
345 1197 the wordes that] þe which B
346 1210 margin Confessor om. A
347 1216 thi] þe XR, B
348 Latin Verses vi. 4 reflectat H₁ ... CB₂ ne flectat L
349 1252 margin Confessor om. S, F
350 1257 schat F
351 1263 ne] me H₁ ... B₂, BΛ (l. 1263 om. Ad)
352 1273 f. margin Opp. Conf. Resp. Am. om. A
353 1280 myhte A myht S, F
354 1286 pourchace A
355 1303 is] þis AME₂, þis is Δ, W
356 1304 point] ioint GCLB₂, W
357 1310 For ofte] fful ofte (ffulofte) H₁ ... B₂, B
358 1314 other] anoþer (an oþer) H₁XRLB₂, BΔ
359 1336 treweliche in oþre A
360 1338 Touchend vnto H₁ ... B₂, B Touchende of (Touchand of) SAdΔ,H₃
361 Latin Verses vii. 4 munere B
362 1345 compleingte F
363 1347 margin deseruiunt A, SB deseruiant FK
364 1376 margin Amans om. A
365 1378 Compleingte F